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Title: Tales of a Traveller
Author: Irving, Washington
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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      By Washington Irving





       HELL GATE.



  I’ll tell you more; there was a fish taken,
  A monstrous fish, with, a sword by’s side, a long sword,
  A pike in’s neck, and a gun in’s nose, a huge gun,
  And letters of mart in’s mouth, from the Duke of Florence.
    _Cleanthes_. This is a monstrous lie.
    _Tony_. I do confess it.
  Do you think I’d tell you truths!
                  —FLETCHER’S WIFE FOR A MONTH.

      [The following adventures were related to me by the same nervous
      gentleman who told me the romantic tale of THE STOUT GENTLEMAN,
      published in Bracebridge Hall.

      It is very singular, that although I expressly stated that story
      to have been told to me, and described the very person who told
      it, still it has been received as an adventure that happened to
      myself. Now, I protest I never met with any adventure of the
      kind. I should not have grieved at this, had it not been
      intimated by the author of Waverley, in an introduction to his
      romance of Peveril of the Peak, that he was himself the Stout
      Gentleman alluded to. I have ever since been importuned by
      letters and questions from gentlemen, and particularly from
      ladies without number, touching what I had seen of the great

      Now, all this is extremely tantalizing. It is like being
      congratulated on the high prize when one has drawn a blank; for I
      have just as great a desire as any one of the public to penetrate
      the mystery of that very singular personage, whose voice fills
      every corner of the world, without any one being able to tell
      from whence it comes. He who keeps up such a wonderful and
      whimsical incognito: whom nobody knows, and yet whom every body
      thinks he can swear to.

      My friend, the nervous gentleman, also, who is a man of very shy,
      Retired habits, complains that he has been excessively annoyed in
      consequence of its getting about in his neighborhood that he is
      the fortunate personage. Insomuch, that he has become a character
      of considerable notoriety in two or three country towns; and has
      been repeatedly teased to exhibit himself at blue-stocking
      parties, for no other reason than that of being “the gentleman
      who has had a glimpse of the author of Waverley.”

      Indeed, the poor man has grown ten times as nervous as ever,
      since he has discovered, on such good authority, who the stout
      gentleman was; and will never forgive himself for not having made
      a more resolute effort to get a full sight of him. He has
      anxiously endeavored to call up a recollection of what he saw of
      that portly personage; and has ever since kept a curious eye on
      all gentlemen of more than ordinary dimensions, whom he has seen
      getting into stage coaches. All in vain! The features he had
      caught a glimpse of seem common to the whole race of stout
      gentlemen; and the great unknown remains as great an unknown as


      I was once at a hunting dinner, given by a worthy fox-hunting old
      Baronet, who kept Bachelor’s Hall in jovial style, in an ancient
      rook-haunted family mansion, in one of the middle counties. He
      had been a devoted admirer of the fair sex in his young days; but
      having travelled much, studied the sex in various countries with
      distinguished success, and returned home profoundly instructed,
      as he supposed, in the ways of woman, and a perfect master of the
      art of pleasing, he had the mortification of being jilted by a
      little boarding school girl, who was scarcely versed in the
      accidence of love.

      The Baronet was completely overcome by such an incredible defeat;
      retired from the world in disgust, put himself under the
      government of his housekeeper, and took to fox-hunting like a
      perfect Jehu. Whatever poets may say to the contrary, a man will
      grow out of love as he grows old; and a pack of fox hounds may
      chase out of his heart even the memory of a boarding-school
      goddess. The Baronet was when I saw him as merry and mellow an
      old bachelor as ever followed a hound; and the love he had once
      felt for one woman had spread itself over the whole sex; so that
      there was not a pretty face in the whole country round, but came
      in for a share.

      The dinner was prolonged till a late hour; for our host having no
      ladies in his household to summon us to the drawing-room, the
      bottle maintained its true bachelor sway, unrivalled by its
      potent enemy the tea-kettle. The old hall in which we dined
      echoed to bursts of robustious fox-hunting merriment, that made
      the ancient antlers shake on the walls. By degrees, however, the
      wine and wassail of mine host began to operate upon bodies
      already a little jaded by the chase. The choice spirits that
      flashed up at the beginning of the dinner, sparkled for a time,
      then gradually went out one after another, or only emitted now
      and then a faint gleam from the socket.

      Some of the briskest talkers, who had given tongue so bravely at
      the first burst, fell fast asleep; and none kept on their way but
      certain of those long-winded prosers, who, like short-legged
      hounds, worry on unnoticed at the bottom of conversation, but are
      sure to be in at the death. Even these at length subsided into
      silence; and scarcely any thing was heard but the nasal
      communications of two or three veteran masticators, who, having
      been silent while awake, were indemnifying the company in their

      At length the announcement of tea and coffee in the cedar parlor
      roused all hands from this temporary torpor. Every one awoke
      marvellously renovated, and while sipping the refreshing beverage
      out of the Baronet’s old-fashioned hereditary china, began to
      think of departing for their several homes. But here a sudden
      difficulty arose. While we had been prolonging our repast, a
      heavy winter storm had set in, with snow, rain, and sleet, driven
      by such bitter blasts of wind, that they threatened to penetrate
      to the very bone.

      “It’s all in vain,” said our hospitable host, “to think of
      putting one’s head out of doors in such weather. So, gentlemen, I
      hold you my guests for this night at least, and will have your
      quarters prepared accordingly.”

      The unruly weather, which became more and more tempestuous,
      rendered The hospitable suggestion unanswerable. The only
      question was, whether such an unexpected accession of company, to
      an already crowded house, would not put the housekeeper to her
      trumps to accommodate them.

      “Pshaw,” cried mine host, “did you ever know of a Bachelor’s Hall
      that was not elastic, and able to accommodate twice as many as it
      could hold?” So out of a good-humored pique the housekeeper was
      summoned to consultation before us all. The old lady appeared, in
      her gala suit of faded brocade, which rustled with flurry and
      agitation, for in spite of mine host’s bravado, she was a little
      perplexed. But in a bachelor’s house, and with bachelor guests,
      these matters are readily managed. There is no lady of the house
      to stand upon squeamish points about lodging guests in odd holes
      and corners, and exposing the shabby parts of the establishment.
      A bachelor’s housekeeper is used to shifts and emergencies. After
      much worrying to and fro, and divers consultations about the red
      room, and the blue room, and the chintz room, and the damask
      room, and the little room with the bow window, the matter was
      finally arranged.

      When all this was done, we were once more summoned to the
      standing Rural amusement of eating. The time that had been
      consumed in dozing after dinner, and in the refreshment and
      consultation of the cedar parlor, was sufficient, in the opinion
      of the rosy-faced butler, to engender a reasonable appetite for
      supper. A slight repast had therefore been tricked up from the
      residue of dinner, consisting of cold sirloin of beef; hashed
      venison; a devilled leg of a turkey or so, and a few other of
      those light articles taken by country gentlemen to ensure sound
      sleep and heavy snoring.

      The nap after dinner had brightened up every one’s wit; and a
      great deal of excellent humor was expended upon the perplexities
      of mine host and his housekeeper, by certain married gentlemen of
      the company, who considered themselves privileged in joking with
      a bachelor’s establishment. From this the banter turned as to
      what quarters each would find, on being thus suddenly billeted in
      so antiquated a mansion.

      “By my soul,” said an Irish captain of dragoons, one of the most
      merry and boisterous of the party—“by my soul, but I should not
      be surprised if some of those good-looking gentlefolks that hang
      along the walls, should walk about the rooms of this stormy
      night; or if I should find the ghost of one of these long-waisted
      ladies turning into my bed in mistake for her grave in the

      “Do you believe in ghosts, then?” said a thin, hatchet-faced
      gentleman, with projecting eyes like a lobster.

      I had remarked this last personage throughout dinner-time for one
      of Those incessant questioners, who seem to have a craving,
      unhealthy appetite in conversation. He never seemed satisfied
      with the whole of a story; never laughed when others laughed; but
      always put the joke to the question. He could never enjoy the
      kernel of the nut, but pestered himself to get more out of the

      “Do you believe in ghosts, then?” said the inquisitive gentleman.

      “Faith, but I do,” replied the jovial Irishman; “I was brought up
      in the fear and belief of them; we had a Benshee in our own
      family, honey.”

      “A Benshee—and what’s that?” cried the questioner.

      “Why an old lady ghost that tends upon your real Milesian
      families, and wails at their window to let them know when some of
      them are to die.”

      “A mighty pleasant piece of information,” cried an elderly
      gentleman, with a knowing look and a flexible nose, to which he
      could give a whimsical twist when he wished to be waggish.

      “By my soul, but I’d have you know it’s a piece of distinction to
      be waited upon by a Benshee. It’s a proof that one has pure blood
      in one’s veins. But, egad, now we’re talking of ghosts, there
      never was a house or a night better fitted than the present for a
      ghost adventure. Faith, Sir John, haven’t you such a thing as a
      haunted chamber to put a guest in?”

      “Perhaps,” said the Baronet, smiling, “I might accommodate you
      even on that point.”

      “Oh, I should like it of all things, my jewel. Some dark oaken
      room, with ugly wo-begone portraits that stare dismally at one,
      and about which the housekeeper has a power of delightful stories
      of love and murder. And then a dim lamp, a table with a rusty
      sword across it, and a spectre all in white to draw aside one’s
      curtains at midnight—”

      “In truth,” said an old gentleman at one end of the table, “you
      put me in mind of an anecdote—”

      “Oh, a ghost story! a ghost story!” was vociferated round the
      board, every one edging his chair a little nearer.

      The attention of the whole company was now turned upon the
      speaker. He was an old gentleman, one side of whose face was no
      match for the other. The eyelid drooped and hung down like an
      unhinged window shutter. Indeed, the whole side of his head was
      dilapidated, and seemed like the wing of a house shut up and
      haunted. I’ll warrant that side was well stuffed with ghost

      There was a universal demand for the tale.

      “Nay,” said the old gentleman, “it’s a mere anecdote—and a very
      commonplace one; but such as it is you shall have it. It is a
      story that I once heard my uncle tell when I was a boy. But
      whether as having happened to himself or to another, I cannot
      recollect. But no matter, it’s very likely it happened to
      himself, for he was a man very apt to meet with strange
      adventures. I have heard him tell of others much more singular.
      At any rate, we will suppose it happened to himself.”

      “What kind of man was your uncle?” said the questioning

      “Why, he was rather a dry, shrewd kind of body; a great
      traveller, and fond of telling his adventures.”

      “Pray, how old might he have been when this happened?”

      “When what happened?” cried the gentleman with the flexible nose,
      impatiently—“Egad, you have not given any thing a chance to
      happen -—come, never mind our uncle’s age; let us have his

      The inquisitive gentleman being for the moment silenced, the old
      gentleman with the haunted head proceeded.


      Many years since, a long time before the French revolution, my
      uncle had passed several months at Paris. The English and French
      were on better terms, in those days, than at present, and mingled
      cordially together in society. The English went abroad to spend
      money then, and the French were always ready to help them: they
      go abroad to save money at present, and that they can do without
      French assistance. Perhaps the travelling English were fewer and
      choicer then, than at present, when the whole nation has broke
      loose, and inundated the continent. At any rate, they circulated
      more readily and currently in foreign society, and my uncle,
      during his residence in Paris, made many very intimate
      acquaintances among the French noblesse.

      Some time afterwards, he was making a journey in the winter-time,
      in that part of Normandy called the Pays de Caux, when, as
      evening was closing in, he perceived the turrets of an ancient
      chateau rising out of the trees of its walled park, each turret
      with its high conical roof of gray slate, like a candle with an
      extinguisher on it.

      “To whom does that chateau belong, friend?” cried my uncle to a
      meager, but fiery postillion, who, with tremendous jack boots and
      cocked hat, was floundering on before him.

      “To Monseigneur the Marquis de ——,” said the postillion, touching
      his hat, partly out of respect to my uncle, and partly out of
      reverence to the noble name pronounced. My uncle recollected the
      Marquis for a particular friend in Paris, who had often expressed
      a wish to see him at his paternal chateau. My uncle was an old
      traveller, one that knew how to turn things to account. He
      revolved for a few moments in his mind how agreeable it would be
      to his friend the Marquis to be surprised in this sociable way by
      a pop visit; and how much more agreeable to himself to get into
      snug quarters in a chateau, and have a relish of the Marquis’s
      well-known kitchen, and a smack of his superior champagne and
      burgundy; rather than take up with the miserable lodgment, and
      miserable fare of a country inn. In a few minutes, therefore, the
      meager postillion was cracking his whip like a very devil, or
      like a true Frenchman, up the long straight avenue that led to
      the chateau.

      You have no doubt all seen French chateaus, as every body travels
      in France nowadays. This was one of the oldest; standing naked
      and alone, in the midst of a desert of gravel walks and cold
      stone terraces; with a cold-looking formal garden, cut into
      angles and rhomboids; and a cold leafless park, divided
      geometrically by straight alleys; and two or three noseless,
      cold-looking statues without any clothing; and fountains spouting
      cold water enough to make one’s teeth chatter. At least, such was
      the feeling they imparted on the wintry day of my uncle’s visit;
      though, in hot summer weather, I’ll warrant there was glare
      enough to scorch one’s eyes out.

      The smacking of the postillion’s whip, which grew more and more
      intense the nearer they approached, frightened a flight of
      pigeons out of the dove-cote, and rooks out of the roofs; and
      finally a crew of servants out of the chateau, with the Marquis
      at their head. He was enchanted to see my uncle; for his chateau,
      like the house of our worthy host, had not many more guests at
      the time than it could accommodate. So he kissed my uncle on each
      cheek, after the French fashion, and ushered him into the castle.

      The Marquis did the honors of his house with the urbanity of his
      country. In fact, he was proud of his old family chateau; for
      part of it was extremely old. There was a tower and chapel that
      had been built almost before the memory of man; but the rest was
      more modern; the castle having been nearly demolished during the
      wars of the League. The Marquis dwelt upon this event with great
      satisfaction, and seemed really to entertain a grateful feeling
      towards Henry IV., for having thought his paternal mansion worth
      battering down. He had many stories to tell of the prowess of his
      ancestors, and several skull-caps, helmets, and cross-bows to
      show; and divers huge boots and buff jerkins, that had been worn
      by the Leaguers. Above all, there was a two-handled sword, which
      he could hardly wield; but which he displayed as a proof that
      there had been giants in his family.

      In truth, he was but a small descendant from such great warriors.
      When you looked at their bluff visages and brawny limbs, as
      depicted in their portraits, and then at the little Marquis, with
      his spindle shanks; his sallow lanthern visage, flanked with a
      pair of powdered ear-locks, or _ailes de pigeon_, that seemed
      ready to fly away with it; you would hardly believe him to be of
      the same race. But when you looked at the eyes that sparkled out
      like a beetle’s from each side of his hooked nose, you saw at
      once that he inherited all the fiery spirit of his forefathers.
      In fact, a Frenchman’s spirit never exhales, however his body may
      dwindle. It rather rarefies, and grows more inflammable, as the
      earthly particles diminish; and I have seen valor enough in a
      little fiery-hearted French dwarf, to have furnished out a
      tolerable giant.

      When once the Marquis, as he was wont, put on one of the old
      helmets that were stuck up in his hall; though his head no more
      filled it than a dry pea its pease cod; yet his eyes sparkled
      from the bottom of the iron cavern with the brilliancy of
      carbuncles, and when he poised the ponderous two-handled sword of
      his ancestors, you would have thought you saw the doughty little
      David wielding the sword of Goliath, which was unto him like a
      weaver’s beam.

      However, gentlemen, I am dwelling too long on this description of
      the Marquis and his chateau; but you must excuse me; he was an
      old friend of my uncle’s, and whenever my uncle told the story,
      he was always fond of talking a great deal about his host.—Poor
      little Marquis! He was one of that handful of gallant courtiers,
      who made such a devoted, but hopeless stand in the cause of their
      sovereign, in the chateau of the Tuilleries, against the
      irruption of the mob, on the sad tenth of August.

      He displayed the valor of a preux French chevalier to the last;
      flourished feebly his little court sword with a sa-sa! in face of
      a whole legion of _sans-culottes_; but was pinned to the wall
      like a butterfly, by the pike of a poissarde, and his heroic soul
      was borne up to heaven on his _ailes de pigeon_.

      But all this has nothing to do with my story; to the point then:—

      When the hour arrived for retiring for the night, my uncle was
      shown to his room, in a venerable old tower. It was the oldest
      part of the chateau, and had in ancient times been the Donjon or
      stronghold; of course the chamber was none of the best. The
      Marquis had put him there, however, because he knew him to be a
      traveller of taste, and fond of antiquities; and also because the
      better apartments were already occupied. Indeed, he perfectly
      reconciled my uncle to his quarters by mentioning the great
      personages who had once inhabited them, all of whom were in some
      way or other connected with the family. If you would take his
      word for it, John Baliol, or, as he called him, Jean de Bailleul,
      had died of chagrin in this very chamber on hearing of the
      success of his rival, Robert the Bruce, at the battle of
      Bannockburn; and when he added that the Duke de Guise had slept
      in it during the wars of the League, my uncle was fain to
      felicitate himself upon being honored with such distinguished

      The night was shrewd and windy, and the chamber none of the
      warmest. An old, long-faced, long-bodied servant in quaint
      livery, who attended upon my uncle, threw down an armful of wood
      beside the fire-place, gave a queer look about the room, and then
      wished him _bon repos_, with a grimace and a shrug that would
      have been suspicious from any other than an old French servant.
      The chamber had indeed a wild, crazy look, enough to strike any
      one who had read romances with apprehension and foreboding. The
      windows were high and narrow, and had once been loop-holes, but
      had been rudely enlarged, as well as the extreme thickness of the
      walls would permit; and the ill-fitted casements rattled to every
      breeze. You would have thought, on a windy night, some of the old
      Leaguers were tramping and clanking about the apartment in their
      huge boots and rattling spurs. A door which stood ajar, and like
      a true French door would stand ajar, in spite of every reason and
      effort to the contrary, opened upon a long, dark corridor, that
      led the Lord knows whither, and seemed just made for ghosts to
      air themselves in, when they turned out of their graves at
      midnight. The wind would spring up into a hoarse murmur through
      this passage, and creak the door to and fro, as if some dubious
      ghost were balancing in its mind whether to come in or not. In a
      word, it was precisely the kind of comfortless apartment that a
      ghost, if ghost there were in the chateau, would single out for
      its favourite lounge.

      My uncle, however, though a man accustomed to meet with strange
      adventures, apprehended none at the time. He made several
      attempts to shut the door, but in vain. Not that he apprehended
      any thing, for he was too old a traveller to be daunted by a
      wild-looking apartment; but the night, as I have said, was cold
      and gusty, something like the present, and the wind howled about
      the old turret, pretty much as it does round this old mansion at
      this moment; and the breeze from the long dark corridor came in
      as damp and chilly as if from a dungeon. My uncle, therefore,
      since he could not close the door, threw a quantity of wood on
      the fire, which soon sent up a flame in the great wide-mouthed
      chimney that illumined the whole chamber, and made the shadow of
      the tongs on the opposite wall, look like a long-legged giant. My
      uncle now clambered on top of the half score of mattresses which
      form a French bed, and which stood in a deep recess; then tucking
      himself snugly in, and burying himself up to the chin in the
      bed-clothes, he lay looking at the fire, and listening to the
      wind, and chuckling to think how knowingly he had come over his
      friend the Marquis for a night’s lodgings: and so he fell asleep.

      He had not taken above half of his first nap, when he was
      awakened by the clock of the chateau, in the turret over his
      chamber, which struck midnight. It was just such an old clock as
      ghosts are fond of. It had a deep, dismal tone, and struck so
      slowly and tediously that my uncle thought it would never have
      done. He counted and counted till he was confident he counted
      thirteen, and then it stopped.

      The fire had burnt low, and the blaze of the last faggot was
      almost expiring, burning in small blue flames, which now and then
      lengthened up into little white gleams. My uncle lay with his
      eyes half closed, and his nightcap drawn almost down to his nose.
      His fancy was already wandering, and began to mingle up the
      present scene with the crater of Vesuvius, the French opera, the
      Coliseum at Rome, Dolly’s chop-house in London, and all the
      farrago of noted places with which the brain of a traveller is
      crammed—in a word, he was just falling asleep.

      Suddenly he was aroused by the sound of foot-steps that appeared
      to be slowly pacing along the corridor. My uncle, as I have often
      heard him say himself, was a man not easily frightened; so he lay
      quiet, supposing that this might be some other guest; or some
      servant on his way to bed. The footsteps, however, approached the
      door; the door gently opened; whether of its own accord, or
      whether pushed open, my uncle could not distinguish:—a figure all
      in white glided in. It was a female, tall and stately in person,
      and of a most commanding air. Her dress was of an ancient
      fashion, ample in volume and sweeping the floor. She walked up to
      the fire-place without regarding my uncle; who raised his
      nightcap with one hand, and stared earnestly at her. She remained
      for some time standing by the fire, which flashing up at
      intervals cast blue and white gleams of light that enabled my
      uncle to remark her appearance minutely.

      Her face was ghastly pale, and perhaps rendered still more so by
      the Blueish light of the fire. It possessed beauty, but its
      beauty was saddened by care and anxiety. There was the look of
      one accustomed to trouble, but of one whom trouble could not cast
      down nor subdue; for there was still the predominating air of
      proud, unconquerable resolution. Such, at least, was the opinion
      formed by my uncle, and he considered himself a great

      The figure remained, as I said, for some time by the fire,
      putting out first one hand, then the other, then each foot,
      alternately, as if warming itself; for your ghosts, if ghost it
      really was, are apt to be cold. My uncle furthermore remarked
      that it wore high-heeled shoes, after an ancient fashion, with
      paste or diamond buckles, that sparkled as though they were
      alive. At length the figure turned gently round, casting a glassy
      look about the apartment, which, as it passed over my uncle, made
      his blood run cold, and chilled the very marrow in his bones. It
      then stretched its arms toward heaven, clasped its hands, and
      wringing them in a supplicating manner, glided slowly out of the

      My uncle lay for some time meditating on this visitation, for (as
      he Remarked when he told me the story) though a man of firmness,
      he was also a man of reflection, and did not reject a thing
      because it was out of the regular course of events. However,
      being, as I have before said, a great traveller, and accustomed
      to strange adventures, he drew his nightcap resolutely over his
      eyes, turned his back to the door, hoisted the bedclothes high
      over his shoulders, and gradually fell asleep.

      How long he slept he could not say, when he was awakened by the
      voice of some one at his bed-side. He turned round and beheld the
      old French servant, with his ear-locks in tight buckles on each
      side of a long, lanthorn face, on which habit had deeply wrinkled
      an everlasting smile. He made a thousand grimaces and asked a
      thousand pardons for disturbing Monsieur, but the morning was
      considerably advanced. While my uncle was dressing, he called
      vaguely to mind the visitor of the preceding night. He asked the
      ancient domestic what lady was in the habit of rambling about
      this part of the chateau at night. The old valet shrugged his
      shoulders as high as his head, laid one hand on his bosom, threw
      open the other with every finger extended; made a most whimsical
      grimace, which he meant to be complimentary:

      “It was not for him to know any thing of _les braves fortunes_ of

      My uncle saw there was nothing satisfactory to be learnt in this
      quarter. After breakfast he was walking with the Marquis through
      the modern apartments of the chateau; sliding over the well-waxed
      floors of silken saloons, amidst furniture rich in gilding and
      brocade; until they came to a long picture gallery, containing
      many portraits, some in oil and some in chalks.

      Here was an ample field for the eloquence of his host, who had
      all the family pride of a nobleman of the _ancient regime_. There
      was not a grand name in Normandy, and hardly one in France, that
      was not, in some way or other, connected with his house. My uncle
      stood listening with inward impatience, resting sometimes on one
      leg, sometimes on the other, as the little Marquis descanted,
      with his usual fire and vivacity, on the achievements of his
      ancestors, whose portraits hung along the wall; from the martial
      deeds of the stern warriors in steel, to the gallantries and
      intrigues of the blue-eyed gentlemen, with fair smiling faces,
      powdered ear-locks, laced ruffles, and pink and blue silk coats
      and breeches; not forgetting the conquests of the lovely
      shepherdesses, with hoop petticoats and waists no thicker than an
      hour glass, who appeared ruling over their sheep and their swains
      with dainty crooks decorated with fluttering ribbands.

      In the midst of his friend’s discourse my uncle’s eyes rested on
      a full-length portrait, which struck him as being the very
      counterpart of his visitor of the preceding night.

      “Methinks,” said he, pointing to it, “I have seen the original of
      this portrait.”

      “_Pardonnez moi_,” replied the Marquis politely, “that can hardly
      be, as the lady has been dead more than a hundred years. That was
      the beautiful Duchess de Longueville, who figured during the
      minority of Louis the Fourteenth.”

      “And was there any thing remarkable in her history.”

      Never was question more unlucky. The little Marquis immediately
      threw himself into the attitude of a man about to tell a long
      story. In fact, my uncle had pulled upon himself the whole
      history of the civil war of the Fronde, in which the beautiful
      Duchess had played so distinguished a part. Turenne, Coligni,
      Mazarin, were called up from their graves to grace his narration;
      nor were the affairs of the Barricadoes, nor the chivalry of the
      Pertcocheres forgotten. My uncle began to wish himself a thousand
      leagues off from the Marquis and his merciless memory, when
      suddenly the little man’s recollections took a more interesting
      turn. He was relating the imprisonment of the Duke de
      Longueville, with the Princes Condé and Conti, in the chateau of
      Vincennes, and the ineffectual efforts of the Duchess to rouse
      the sturdy Normans to their rescue. He had come to that part
      where she was invested by the royal forces in the chateau of
      Dieppe, and in imminent danger of falling into their hands.

      “The spirit of the Duchess,” proceeded the Marquis, “rose with
      her trials. It was astonishing to see so delicate and beautiful a
      being buffet so resolutely with hardships. She determined on a
      desperate means of escape. One dark unruly night, she issued
      secretly out of a small postern gate of the castle, which the
      enemy had neglected to guard. She was followed by her female
      attendants, a few domestics, and some gallant cavaliers who still
      remained faithful to her fortunes. Her object was to gain a small
      port about two leagues distant, where she had privately provided
      a vessel for her escape in case of emergency.

      “The little band of fugitives were obliged to perform the
      distance on foot. When they arrived at the port the wind was high
      and stormy, the tide contrary, the vessel anchored far off in the
      road, and no means of getting on board, but by a fishing shallop
      that lay tossing like a cockle shell on the edge of the surf. The
      Duchess determined to risk the attempt. The seamen endeavored to
      dissuade her, but the imminence of her danger on shore, and the
      magnanimity of her spirit urged her on. She had to be borne to
      the shallop in the arms of a mariner. Such was the violence of
      the wind and waves, that he faltered, lost his foothold, and let
      his precious burden fall into the sea.

      “The Duchess was nearly drowned; but partly through her own
      struggles, partly by the exertions of the seamen, she got to
      land. As soon as she had a little recovered strength, she
      insisted on renewing the attempt. The storm, however, had by this
      time become so violent as to set all efforts at defiance. To
      delay, was to be discovered and taken prisoner. As the only
      resource left, she procured horses; mounted with her female
      attendants _en croupe_ behind the gallant gentlemen who
      accompanied her; and scoured the country to seek some temporary

      “While the Duchess,” continued the Marquis, laying his forefinger
      on my uncle’s breast to arouse his flagging attention, “while the
      Duchess, poor lady, was wandering amid the tempest in this
      disconsolate manner, she arrived at this chateau. Her approach
      caused some uneasiness; for the clattering of a troop of horse,
      at dead of night, up the avenue of a lonely chateau, in those
      unsettled times, and in a troubled part of the country, was
      enough to occasion alarm.

      “A tall, broad-shouldered chasseur, armed to the teeth, galloped
      ahead, and announced the name of the visitor. All uneasiness was
      dispelled. The household turned out with flambeaux to receive
      her, and never did torches gleam on a more weather-beaten,
      travel-stained band than came tramping into the court. Such pale,
      care-worn faces, such bedraggled dresses, as the poor Duchess and
      her females presented, each seated behind her cavalier; while
      half drenched, half drowsy pages and attendants seemed ready to
      fall from their horses with sleep and fatigue.

      “The Duchess was received with a hearty welcome by my ancestors.
      She was ushered into the Hall of the chateau, and the fires soon
      crackled and blazed to cheer herself and her train; and every
      spit and stewpan was put in requisition to prepare ample
      refreshments for the wayfarers.

      “She had a right to our hospitalities,” continued the little
      Marquis, drawing himself up with a slight degree of stateliness,
      “for she was related to our family. I’ll tell you how it was: Her
      father, Henry de Bourbon, Prince of Condé—”

      “But did the Duchess pass the night in the chateau?” said my
      uncle rather abruptly, terrified at the idea of getting involved
      in one of the Marquis’s genealogical discussions.

      “Oh, as to the Duchess, she was put into the apartment you
      occupied last night; which, at that time, was a kind of state
      apartment. Her followers were quartered in the chambers opening
      upon the neighboring corridor, and her favorite page slept in an
      adjoining closet. Up and down the corridor walked the great
      chasseur, who had announced her arrival, and who acted as a kind
      of sentinel or guard. He was a dark, stern, powerful-looking
      fellow, and as the light of a lamp in the corridor fell upon his
      deeply-marked face and sinewy form, he seemed capable of
      defending the castle with his single arm.

      “It was a rough, rude night; about this time of the
      year.—_Apropos_—now I think of it, last night was the anniversary
      of her visit. I may well remember the precise date, for it was a
      night not to be forgotten by our house. There is a singular
      tradition concerning it in our family.” Here the Marquis
      hesitated, and a cloud seemed to gather about his bushy eyebrows.
      “There is a tradition—that a strange occurrence took place that
      night—a strange, mysterious, inexplicable occurrence.”

      Here he checked himself and paused.

      “Did it relate to that lady?” inquired my uncle, eagerly.

      “It was past the hour of midnight,” resumed the Marquis—“when the
      whole chateau—”

      Here he paused again—my uncle made a movement of anxious

      “Excuse me,” said the Marquis—a slight blush streaking his sullen
      visage. “There are some circumstances connected with our family
      history which I do not like to relate. That was a rude period. A
      time of great crimes among great men: for you know high blood,
      when it runs wrong, will not run tamely like blood of the
      _canaille_—poor lady!—But I have a little family pride,
      that—excuse me—we will change the subject if you please.”—

      My uncle’s curiosity was piqued. The pompous and magnificent
      introduction had led him to expect something wonderful in the
      story to which it served as a kind of avenue. He had no idea of
      being cheated out of it by a sudden fit of unreasonable
      squeamishness. Besides, being a traveller, in quest of
      information, considered it his duty to inquire into every thing.

      The Marquis, however, evaded every question.

      “Well,” said my uncle, a little petulantly, “whatever you may
      think of it, I saw that lady last night.”

      The Marquis stepped back and gazed at him with surprise.

      “She paid me a visit in my bed-chamber.”

      The Marquis pulled out his snuff-box with a shrug and a smile;
      taking it no doubt for an awkward piece of English pleasantry,
      which politeness required him to be charmed with. My uncle went
      on gravely, however, and related the whole circumstance. The
      Marquis heard him through with profound attention, holding his
      snuff-box unopened in his hand. When the story was finished he
      tapped on the lid of his box deliberately; took a long sonorous
      pinch of snuff—

      “Bah!” said the Marquis, and walked toward the other end of the

      Here the narrator paused. The company waited for some time for
      him to resume his narrative; but he continued silent.

      “Well,” said the inquisitive gentleman, “and what did your uncle
      say then?”

      “Nothing,” replied the other.

      “And what did the Marquis say farther?”


      “And is that all?”

      “That is all,” said the narrator, filling a glass of wine.

      “I surmise,” said the shrewd old gentleman with the waggish
      nose—“I surmise it was the old housekeeper walking her rounds to
      see that all was right.”

      “Bah!” said the narrator, “my uncle was too much accustomed to
      strange sights not to know a ghost from a housekeeper!”

      There was a murmur round the table half of merriment, half of
      disappointment. I was inclined to think the old gentleman had
      really an afterpart of his story in reserve; but he sipped his
      wine and said nothing more; and there was an odd expression about
      his dilapidated countenance that left me in doubt whether he were
      in drollery or earnest.

      “Egad,” said the knowing gentleman with the flexible nose, “this
      story of your uncle puts me in mind of one that used to be told
      of an aunt of mine, by the mother’s side; though I don’t know
      that it will bear a comparison; as the good lady was not quite so
      prone to meet with strange adventures. But at any rate, you shall
      have it.”


      My aunt was a lady of large frame, strong mind, and great
      resolution; she was what might be termed a very manly woman. My
      uncle was a thin, puny little man, very meek and acquiescent, and
      no match for my aunt. It was observed that he dwindled and
      dwindled gradually away, from the day of his marriage. His wife’s
      powerful mind was too much for him; it wore him out. My aunt,
      however, took all possible care of him, had half the doctors in
      town to prescribe for him, made him take all their prescriptions,
      _willy nilly_, and dosed him with physic enough to cure a whole
      hospital. All was in vain. My uncle grew worse and worse the more
      dosing and nursing he underwent, until in the end he added
      another to the long list of matrimonial victims, who have been
      killed with kindness.

      “And was it his ghost that appeared to her?” asked the
      inquisitive gentleman, who had questioned the former storyteller.

      “You shall hear,” replied the narrator:—My aunt took on mightily
      for the death of her poor dear husband! Perhaps she felt some
      compunction at having given him so much physic, and nursed him
      into his grave. At any rate, she did all that a widow could do to
      honor his memory. She spared no expense in either the quantity or
      quality of her mourning weeds; she wore a miniature of him about
      her neck, as large as a little sun dial; and she had a
      full-length portrait of him always hanging in her bed chamber.
      All the world extolled her conduct to the skies; and it was
      determined, that a woman who behaved so well to the memory of one
      husband, deserved soon to get another.

      It was not long after this that she went to take up her residence
      in an old country seat in Derbyshire, which had long been in the
      care of merely a steward and housekeeper. She took most of her
      servants with her, intending to make it her principal abode. The
      house stood in a lonely, wild part of the country among the gray
      Derbyshire hills; with a murderer hanging in chains on a bleak
      height in full view.

      The servants from town were half frightened out of their wits, at
      the idea of living in such a dismal, pagan-looking place;
      especially when they got together in the servants’ hall in the
      evening, and compared notes on all the hobgoblin stories they had
      picked up in the course of the day. They were afraid to venture
      alone about the forlorn black-looking chambers. My ladies’ maid,
      who was troubled with nerves, declared she could never sleep
      alone in such a “gashly, rummaging old building;” and the
      footman, who was a kind-hearted young fellow, did all in his
      power to cheer her up.

      My aunt, herself, seemed to be struck with the lonely appearance
      of the house. Before she went to bed, therefore, she examined
      well the fastenings of the doors and windows, locked up the plate
      with her own hands, and carried the keys, together with a little
      box of money and jewels, to her own room; for she was a notable
      woman, and always saw to all things herself. Having put the keys
      under her pillow, and dismissed her maid, she sat by her toilet
      arranging her hair; for, being, in spite of her grief for my
      uncle, rather a buxom widow, she was a little particular about
      her person. She sat for a little while looking at her face in the
      glass, first on one side, then on the other, as ladies are apt to
      do, when they would ascertain if they have been in good looks;
      for a roystering country squire of the neighborhood, with whom
      she had flirted when a girl, had called that day to welcome her
      to the country.

      All of a sudden she thought she heard something move behind her.
      She Looked hastily round, but there was nothing to be seen.
      Nothing but the grimly painted portrait of her poor dear man,
      which had been hung against the wall. She gave a heavy sigh to
      his memory, as she was accustomed to do, whenever she spoke of
      him in company; and went on adjusting her nightdress. Her sigh
      was re-echoed; or answered by a long-drawn breath. She looked
      round again, but no one was to be seen. She ascribed these sounds
      to the wind, oozing through the rat holes of the old mansion; and
      proceeded leisurely to put her hair in papers, when, all at once,
      she thought she perceived one of the eyes of the portrait move.

      “The back of her head being towards it!” said the story-teller
      with the ruined head, giving a knowing wink on the sound side of
      his visage—“good!”

      “Yes, sir!” replied drily the narrator, “her back being towards
      the portrait, but her eye fixed on its reflection in the glass.”

      Well, as I was saying, she perceived one of the eyes of the
      portrait move. So strange a circumstance, as you may well
      suppose, gave her a sudden shock. To assure herself cautiously of
      the fact, she put one hand to her forehead, as if rubbing it;
      peeped through her fingers, and moved the candle with the other
      hand. The light of the taper gleamed on the eye, and was
      reflected from it. She was sure it moved. Nay, more, it seemed to
      give her a wink, as she had sometimes known her husband to do
      when living! It struck a momentary chill to her heart; for she
      was a lone woman, and felt herself fearfully situated.

      The chill was but transient. My aunt, who was almost as resolute
      a personage as your uncle, sir, (turning to the old
      story-teller,) became instantly calm and collected. She went on
      adjusting her dress. She even hummed a favorite air, and did not
      make a single false note. She casually overturned a dressing box;
      took a candle and picked up the articles leisurely, one by one,
      from the floor, pursued a rolling pin-cushion that was making the
      best of its way under the bed; then opened the door; looked for
      an instant into the corridor, as if in doubt whether to go; and
      then walked quietly out.

      She hastened down-stairs, ordered the servants to arm themselves
      with the first weapons that came to hand, placed herself at their
      head, and returned almost immediately.

      Her hastily levied army presented a formidable force. The steward
      had a rusty blunderbuss; the coachman a loaded whip; the footman
      a pair of horse pistols; the cook a huge chopping knife, and the
      butler a bottle in each hand. My aunt led the van with a red-hot
      poker; and, in my opinion, she was the most formidable of the
      party. The waiting maid brought up the rear, dreading to stay
      alone in the servants’ hall, smelling to a broken bottle of
      volatile salts, and expressing her terror of the ghosteses.

      “Ghosts!” said my aunt resolutely, “I’ll singe their whiskers for

      They entered the chamber. All was still and undisturbed as when
      she left it. They approached the portrait of my uncle.

      “Pull me down that picture!” cried my aunt.

      A heavy groan, and a sound like the chattering of teeth, was
      heard from the portrait. The servants shrunk back. The maid
      uttered a faint shriek, and clung to the footman.

      “Instantly!” added my aunt, with a stamp of the foot.

      The picture was pulled down, and from a recess behind it, in
      which had formerly stood a clock, they hauled forth a
      round-shouldered, black-bearded varlet, with a knife as long as
      my arm, but trembling all over like an aspen leaf.

      “Well, and who was he? No ghost, I suppose!” said the inquisitive

      “A knight of the post,” replied the narrator, “who had been
      smitten with the worth of the wealthy widow; or rather a
      marauding Tarquin, who had stolen into her chamber to violate her
      purse and rifle her strong box when all the house should be
      asleep. In plain terms,” continued he, “the vagabond was a loose
      idle fellow of the neighborhood, who had once been a servant in
      the house, and had been employed to assist in arranging it for
      the reception of its mistress. He confessed that he had contrived
      his hiding-place for his nefarious purposes, and had borrowed an
      eye from the portrait by way of a reconnoitering hole.”

      “And what did they do with him—did they hang him?” resumed the

      “Hang him?—how could they?” exclaimed a beetle-browed barrister,
      with a hawk’s nose—“the offence was not capital—no robbery nor
      assault had been committed—no forcible entry or breaking into the

      “My aunt,” said the narrator, “was a woman of spirit, and apt to
      take the law into her own hands. She had her own notions of
      cleanliness also. She ordered the fellow to be drawn through the
      horsepond to cleanse away all offences, and then to be well
      rubbed down with an oaken towel.”

      “And what became of him afterwards?” said the inquisitive

      “I do not exactly know—I believe he was sent on a voyage of
      improvement to Botany Bay.”

      “And your aunt—” said the inquisitive gentleman—“I’ll warrant she
      took care to make her maid sleep in the room with her after

      “No, sir, she did better—she gave her hand shortly after to the
      roystering squire; for she used to observe it was a dismal thing
      for a woman to sleep alone in the country.”

      “She was right,” observed the inquisitive gentleman, nodding his
      head sagaciously—“but I am sorry they did not hang that fellow.”

      It was agreed on all hands that the last narrator had brought his
      tale to the most satisfactory conclusion; though a country
      clergyman present regretted that the uncle and aunt, who figured
      in the different stories, had not been married together. They
      certainly would have been well matched.

      “But I don’t see, after all,” said the inquisitive gentleman,
      “that there was any ghost in this last story.”

      “Oh, if it’s ghosts you want, honey,” cried the Irish captain of
      dragoons, “if it’s ghosts you want, you shall have a whole
      regiment of them. And since these gentlemen have been giving the
      adventures of their uncles and aunts, faith and I’ll e’en give
      you a chapter too, out of my own family history.”



      My grandfather was a bold dragoon, for it’s a profession, d’ye
      see, that has run in the family. All my forefathers have been
      dragoons and died upon the field of honor except myself, and I
      hope my posterity may be able to say the same; however, I don’t
      mean to be vainglorious. Well, my grandfather, as I said, was a
      bold dragoon, and had served in the Low Countries. In fact, he
      was one of that very army, which, according to my uncle Toby,
      “swore so terribly in Flanders.” He could swear a good stick
      himself; and, moreover, was the very man that introduced the
      doctrine Corporal Trim mentions, of radical heat and radical
      moisture; or, in other words, the mode of keeping out the damps
      of ditch water by burnt brandy. Be that as it may, it’s nothing
      to the purport of my story. I only tell it to show you that my
      grandfather was a man not easily to be humbugged. He had seen
      service; or, according to his own phrase, “he had seen the
      devil”—and that’s saying everything.

      Well, gentlemen, my grandfather was on his way to England, for
      which he intended to embark at Ostend;—bad luck to the place for
      one where I was kept by storms and head winds for three long
      days, and the divil of a jolly companion or pretty face to
      comfort me. Well, as I was saying, my grandfather was on his way
      to England, or rather to Ostend—no matter which, it’s all the
      same. So one evening, towards nightfall, he rode jollily into
      Bruges. Very like you all know Bruges, gentlemen, a queer,
      old-fashioned Flemish town, once they say a great place for trade
      and money-making, in old times, when the Mynheers were in their
      glory; but almost as large and as empty as an Irishman’s pocket
      at the present day.

      Well, gentlemen, it was the time of the annual fair. All Bruges
      was crowded; and the canals swarmed with Dutch boats, and the
      streets swarmed with Dutch merchants; and there was hardly any
      getting along for goods, wares, and merchandises, and peasants in
      big breeches, and women in half a score of petticoats.

      My grandfather rode jollily along in his easy, slashing way, for
      he was a saucy, sunshiny fellow—staring about him at the motley
      crowd, and the old houses with gable ends to the street and
      storks’ nests on the chimneys; winking at the ya vrouws who
      showed their faces at the windows, and joking the women right and
      left in the street; all of whom laughed and took it in amazing
      good part; for though he did not know a word of their language,
      yet he always had a knack of making himself understood among the

      Well, gentlemen, it being the time of the annual fair, all the
      town was crowded; every inn and tavern full, and my grandfather
      applied in vain from one to the other for admittance. At length
      he rode up to an old rackety inn that looked ready to fall to
      pieces, and which all the rats would have run away from, if they
      could have found room in any other house to put their heads. It
      was just such a queer building as you see in Dutch pictures, with
      a tall roof that reached up into the clouds; and as many garrets,
      one over the other, as the seven heavens of Mahomet. Nothing had
      saved it from tumbling down but a stork’s nest on the chimney,
      which always brings good luck to a house in the Low Countries;
      and at the very time of my grandfather’s arrival, there were two
      of these long-legged birds of grace, standing like ghosts on the
      chimney top. Faith, but they’ve kept the house on its legs to
      this very day; for you may see it any time you pass through
      Bruges, as it stands there yet; only it is turned into a
      brewery—a brewery of strong Flemish beer; at least it was so when
      I came that way after the battle of Waterloo.

      My grandfather eyed the house curiously as he approached. It
      might Not altogether have struck his fancy, had he not seen in
      large letters over the door,


      My grandfather had learnt enough of the language to know that the
      sign promised good liquor. “This is the house for me,” said he,
      stopping short before the door.

      The sudden appearance of a dashing dragoon was an event in an old
      inn, frequented only by the peaceful sons of traffic. A rich
      burgher of Antwerp, a stately ample man, in a broad Flemish hat,
      and who was the great man and great patron of the establishment,
      sat smoking a clean long pipe on one side of the door; a fat
      little distiller of Geneva from Schiedam, sat smoking on the
      other, and the bottle-nosed host stood in the door, and the
      comely hostess, in crimped cap, beside him; and the hostess’
      daughter, a plump Flanders lass, with long gold pendants in her
      ears, was at a side window.

      “Humph!” said the rich burgher of Antwerp, with a sulky glance at
      the stranger.

      “Der duyvel!” said the fat little distiller of Schiedam.

      The landlord saw with the quick glance of a publican that the new
      guest was not at all, at all, to the taste of the old ones; and
      to tell the truth, he did not himself like my grandfather’s saucy

      He shook his head—“Not a garret in the house but was full.”

      “Not a garret!” echoed the landlady.

      “Not a garret!” echoed the daughter.

      The burgher of Antwerp and the little distiller of Schiedam
      continued to smoke their pipes sullenly, eyed the enemy askance
      from under their broad hats, but said nothing.

      My grandfather was not a man to be browbeaten. He threw the reins
      on his horse’s neck, cocked his hat on one side, stuck one arm
      akimbo, slapped his broad thigh with the other hand—

      “Faith and troth!” said he, “but I’ll sleep in this house this
      very night!”

      My grandfather had on a tight pair of buckskins—the slap went to
      the landlady’s heart.

      He followed up the vow by jumping off his horse, and making his
      way past the staring Mynheers into the public room. May be you’ve
      been in the barroom of an old Flemish inn—faith, but a handsome
      chamber it was as you’d wish to see; with a brick floor, a great
      fire-place, with the whole Bible history in glazed tiles; and
      then the mantel-piece, pitching itself head foremost out of the
      wall, with a whole regiment of cracked tea-pots and earthen jugs
      paraded on it; not to mention half a dozen great Delft platters
      hung about the room by way of pictures; and the little bar in one
      corner, and the bouncing bar-maid inside of it with a red calico
      cap and yellow ear-drops.

      My grandfather snapped his fingers over his head, as he cast an
      eye round the room: “Faith, this is the very house I’ve been
      looking after,” said he.

      There was some farther show of resistance on the part of the
      garrison, but my grandfather was an old soldier, and an Irishman
      to boot, and not easily repulsed, especially after he had got
      into the fortress. So he blarney’d the landlord, kissed the
      landlord’s wife, tickled the landlord’s daughter, chucked the
      bar-maid under the chin; and it was agreed on all hands that it
      would be a thousand pities, and a burning shame into the bargain,
      to turn such a bold dragoon into the streets. So they laid their
      heads together, that is to say, my grandfather and the landlady,
      and it was at length agreed to accommodate him with an old
      chamber that had for some time been shut up.

      “Some say it’s haunted!” whispered the landlord’s daughter, “but
      you’re a bold dragoon, and I dare say you don’t fear ghosts.”

      “The divil a bit!” said my grandfather, pinching her plump cheek;
      “but if I should be troubled by ghosts, I’ve been to the Red Sea
      in my time, and have a pleasant way of laying them, my darling!”

      And then he whispered something to the girl which made her laugh,
      and give him a good-humored box on the ear. In short, there was
      nobody knew better how to make his way among the petticoats than
      my grandfather.

      In a little while, as was his usual way, he took complete
      possession of the house: swaggering all over it;—into the stable
      to look after his horse; into the kitchen to look after his
      supper. He had something to say or do with every one; smoked with
      the Dutchmen; drank with the Germans; slapped the men on the
      shoulders, tickled the women under the ribs:-never since the days
      of Ally Croaker had such a rattling blade been seen. The landlord
      stared at him with astonishment; the landlord’s daughter hung her
      head and giggled whenever he came near; and as he turned his back
      and swaggered along, his tight jacket setting off his broad
      shoulders and plump buckskins, and his long sword trailing by his
      side, the maids whispered to one another—“What a proper man!”

      At supper my grandfather took command of the table d’hôte as
      though he had been at home; helped everybody, not forgetting
      himself; talked with every one, whether he understood their
      language or not; and made his way into the intimacy of the rich
      burgher of Antwerp, who had never been known to be sociable with
      any one during his life. In fact, he revolutionized the whole
      establishment, and gave it such a rouse, that the very house
      reeled with it. He outsat every one at table excepting the little
      fat distiller of Schiedam, who had sat soaking for a long time
      before he broke forth; but when he did, he was a very devil
      incarnate. He took a violent affection for my grandfather; so
      they sat drinking, and smoking, and telling stories, and singing
      Dutch and Irish songs, without understanding a word each other
      said, until the little Hollander was fairly swampt with his own
      gin and water, and carried off to bed, whooping and hiccuping,
      and trolling the burthen of a Low Dutch love song.

      Well, gentlemen, my grandfather was shown to his quarters, up a
      huge Staircase composed of loads of hewn timber; and through long
      rigmarole passages, hung with blackened paintings of fruit, and
      fish, and game, and country frollics, and huge kitchens, and
      portly burgomasters, such as you see about old-fashioned Flemish
      inns, till at length he arrived at his room.

      An old-times chamber it was, sure enough, and crowded with all
      kinds of trumpery. It looked like an infirmary for decayed and
      superannuated furniture; where everything diseased and disabled
      was sent to nurse, or to be forgotten. Or rather, it might have
      been taken for a general congress of old legitimate moveables,
      where every kind and country had a representative. No two chairs
      were alike: such high backs and low backs, and leather bottoms
      and worsted bottoms, and straw bottoms, and no bottoms; and
      cracked marble tables with curiously carved legs, holding balls
      in their claws, as though they were going to play at ninepins.

      My grandfather made a bow to the motley assemblage as he entered,
      and having undressed himself, placed his light in the fire-place,
      asking pardon of the tongs, which seemed to be making love to the
      shovel in the chimney corner, and whispering soft nonsense in its

      The rest of the guests were by this time sound asleep; for your
      Mynheers are huge sleepers. The house maids, one by one, crept up
      yawning to their attics, and not a female head in the inn was
      laid on a pillow that night without dreaming of the Bold Dragoon.

      My grandfather, for his part, got into bed, and drew over him one
      of those great bags of down, under which they smother a man in
      the Low Countries; and there he lay, melting between, two feather
      beds, like an anchovy sandwich between two slices of toast and
      butter. He was a warm-complexioned man, and this smothering
      played the very deuce with him. So, sure enough, in a little
      while it seemed as if a legion of imps were twitching at him and
      all the blood in his veins was in fever heat.

      He lay still, however, until all the house was quiet, excepting
      the snoring of the Mynheers from the different chambers; who
      answered one another in all kinds of tones and cadences, like so
      many bull-frogs in a swamp. The quieter the house became, the
      more unquiet became my grandfather. He waxed warmer and warmer,
      until at length the bed became too hot to hold him.

      “May be the maid had warmed it too much?” said the curious
      gentleman, inquiringly.

      “I rather think the contrary,” replied the Irishman. “But be that
      as it may, it grew too hot for my grandfather.”

      “Faith there’s no standing this any longer,” says he; so he
      jumped out of bed and went strolling about the house.

      “What for?” said the inquisitive gentleman.

      “Why, to cool himself to be sure,” replied the other, “or perhaps
      to find a more comfortable bed—or perhaps—but no matter what he
      went for—he never mentioned; and there’s no use in taking up our
      time in conjecturing.”

      Well, my grandfather had been for some time absent from his room,
      and was returning, perfectly cool, when just as he reached the
      door he heard a strange noise within. He paused and listened. It
      seemed as if some one was trying to hum a tune in defiance of the
      asthma. He recollected the report of the room’s being haunted;
      but he was no believer in ghosts. So he pushed the door gently
      ajar, and peeped in.

      Egad, gentlemen, there was a gambol carrying on within enough to
      have astonished St. Anthony.

      By the light of the fire he saw a pale weazen-faced fellow in a
      long Flannel gown and a tall white night-cap with a tassel to it,
      who sat by the fire, with a bellows under his arm by way of
      bagpipe, from which he forced the asthmatical music that had
      bothered my grandfather. As he played, too, he kept twitching
      about with a thousand queer contortions; nodding his head and
      bobbing about his tasselled night-cap.

      My grandfather thought this very odd, and mighty presumptuous,
      and was about to demand what business he had to play his wind
      instruments in another gentleman’s quarters, when a new cause of
      astonishment met his eye. From the opposite side of the room a
      long-backed, bandy-legged chair, covered with leather, and
      studded all over in a coxcomical fashion with little brass nails,
      got suddenly into motion; thrust out first a claw foot, then a
      crooked arm, and at length, making a leg, slided gracefully up to
      an easy chair, of tarnished brocade, with a hole in its bottom,
      and led it gallantly out in a ghostly minuet about the floor.

      The musician now played fiercer and fiercer, and bobbed his head
      and His nightcap about like mad. By degrees the dancing mania
      seemed to seize upon all the other pieces of furniture. The
      antique, long-bodied chairs paired off in couples and led down a
      country dance; a three-legged stool danced a hornpipe, though
      horribly puzzled by its supernumerary leg; while the amorous
      tongs seized the shovel round the waist, and whirled it about the
      room in a German waltz. In short, all the moveables got in
      motion, capering about; pirouetting, hands across, right and
      left, like so many devils, all except a great clothes-press,
      which kept curtseying and curtseying, like a dowager, in one
      corner, in exquisite time to the music;—being either too
      corpulent to dance, or perhaps at a loss for a partner.

      My grandfather concluded the latter to be the reason; so, being,
      like a true Irishman, devoted to the sex, and at all times ready
      for a frolic, he bounced into the room, calling to the musician
      to strike up “Paddy O’Rafferty,” capered up to the clothes-press
      and seized upon two handles to lead her out:—When, whizz!—the
      whole revel was at an end. The chairs, tables, tongs, and shovel
      slunk in an instant as quietly into their places as if nothing
      had happened; and the musician vanished up the chimney, leaving
      the bellows behind him in his hurry. My grandfather found himself
      seated in the middle of the floor, with the clothes-press
      sprawling before him, and the two handles jerked off and in his

      “Then after all, this was a mere dream!” said the inquisitive

      “The divil a bit of a dream!” replied the Irishman: “there never
      was a truer fact in this world. Faith, I should have liked to see
      any man tell my grandfather it was a dream.”

      Well, gentlemen, as the clothes-press was a mighty heavy body,
      and my grandfather likewise, particularly in rear, you may easily
      suppose two such heavy bodies coming to the ground would make a
      bit of a noise. Faith, the old mansion shook as though it had
      mistaken it for an earthquake. The whole garrison was alarmed.
      The landlord, who slept just below, hurried up with a candle to
      inquire the cause, but with all his haste his daughter had
      hurried to the scene of uproar before him. The landlord was
      followed by the landlady, who was followed by the bouncing
      bar-maid, who was followed by the simpering chambermaids all
      holding together, as well as they could, such garments as they
      had first lain hands on; but all in a terrible hurry to see what
      the devil was to pay in the chamber of the bold dragoon.

      My grandfather related the marvellous scene he had witnessed, and
      the prostrate clothes-press, and the broken handles, bore
      testimony to the fact. There was no contesting such evidence;
      particularly with a lad of my grandfather’s complexion, who
      seemed able to make good every word either with sword or
      shillelah. So the landlord scratched his head and looked silly,
      as he was apt to do when puzzled. The landlady scratched—no, she
      did not scratch her head,—but she knit her brow, and did not seem
      half pleased with the explanation. But the landlady’s daughter
      corroborated it by recollecting that the last person who had
      dwelt in that chamber was a famous juggler who had died of St.
      Vitus’s dance, and no doubt had infected all the furniture.

      This set all things to rights, particularly when the chambermaids
      declared that they had all witnessed strange carryings on in that
      room;—and as they declared this “upon their honors,” there could
      not remain a doubt upon the subject.

      “And did your grandfather go to bed again in that room?” said the
      inquisitive gentleman.

      “That’s more than I can tell. Where he passed the rest of the
      night was a secret he never disclosed. In fact, though he had
      seen much service, he was but indifferently acquainted with
      geography, and apt to make blunders in his travels about inns at
      night, that it would have puzzled him sadly to account for in the

      “Was he ever apt to walk in his sleep?” said the knowing old

      “Never that I heard of.”


On a stormy night, in the tempestuous times of the French revolution, a
young German was returning to his lodgings, at a late hour, across the
old part of Paris. The lightning gleamed, and the loud claps of thunder
rattled through the lofty, narrow streets—but I should first tell you
something about this young German.

Gottfried Wolfgang was a young man of good family. He had studied for
some time at Göttingen, but being of a visionary and enthusiastic
character, he had wandered into those wild and speculative doctrines
which have so often bewildered German students. His secluded life, his
intense application, and the singular nature of his studies, had an
effect on both mind and body. His health was impaired; his imagination
diseased. He had been indulging in fanciful speculations on spiritual
essences until, like Swedenborg, he had an ideal world of his own
around him. He took up a notion, I do not know from what cause, that
there was an evil influence hanging over him; an evil genius or spirit
seeking to ensnare him and ensure his perdition. Such an idea working
on his melancholy temperament produced the most gloomy effects. He
became haggard and desponding. His friends discovered the mental malady
preying upon him, and determined that the best cure was a change of
scene; he was sent, therefore, to finish his studies amidst the
splendours and gaieties of Paris.

Wolfgang arrived at Paris at the breaking out of the revolution. The
popular delirium at first caught his enthusiastic mind, and he was
captivated by the political and philosophical theories of the day: but
the scenes of blood which followed shocked his sensitive nature;
disgusted him with society and the world, and made him more than ever a
recluse. He shut himself up in a solitary apartment in the _Pays
Latin_, the quarter of students. There in a gloomy street not far from
the monastic walls of the Sorbonne, he pursued his favourite
speculations. Sometimes he spent hours together in the great libraries
of Paris, those catacombs of departed authors, rummaging among their
hoards of dusty and obsolete works in quest of food for his unhealthy
appetite. He was, in a manner, a literary goul, feeding in the charnel
house of decayed literature.

Wolfgang, though solitary and recluse, was of an ardent temperament,
but for a time it operated merely upon his imagination. He was too shy
and ignorant of the world to make any advances to the fair, but he was
a passionate admirer of female beauty, and in his lonely chamber would
often lose himself in reveries on forms and faces which he had seen,
and his fancy would deck out images of loveliness far surpassing the

While his mind was in this excited and sublimated state, a dream
produced an extraordinary effect upon him. It was of a female face of
transcendent beauty. So strong was the impression made, that he dreamt
of it again and again. It haunted his thoughts by day, his slumbers by
night; in fine, he became passionately enamoured of this shadow of a
dream. This lasted so long, that it became one of those fixed ideas
which haunt the minds of melancholy men, and are at times mistaken for

Such was Gottfried Wolfgang, and such his situation at the time I
mentioned. He was returning home late one stormy night, through some of
the old and gloomy streets of the _Marais_, the ancient part of Paris.
The loud claps of thunder rattled among the high houses of the narrow
streets. He came to the Place de Grève, the square where public
executions are performed. The lightning quivered about the pinnacles of
the ancient Hôtel de Ville, and shed flickering gleams over the open
space in front. As Wolfgang was crossing the square, he shrank back
with horror at finding himself close by the guillotine. It was the
height of the reign of terror, when this dreadful instrument of death
stood ever ready, and its scaffold was continually running with the
blood of the virtuous and the brave. It had that very day been actively
employed in the work of carnage, and there it stood in grim array
amidst a silent and sleeping city, waiting for fresh victims.

Wolfgang’s heart sickened within him, and he was turning shuddering
from the horrible engine, when he beheld a shadowy form cowering as it
were at the foot of the steps which led up to the scaffold. A
succession of vivid flashes of lightning revealed it more distinctly.
It was a female figure, dressed inblack. She was seated on one of the
lower steps of the scaffold, leaning forward, her face hid in her lap,
and her long dishevelled tresses hanging to the ground, streaming with
the rain which fell in torrents. Wolfgang paused. There was something
awful in this solitary monument of wo. The female had the appearance of
being above the common order. He knew the times to be full of
vicissitude, and that many a fair head, which had once been pillowed on
down, now wandered houseless. Perhaps this was some poor mourner whom
the dreadful axe had rendered desolate, and who sat here heartbroken on
the strand of existence, from which all that was dear to her had been
launched into eternity.

He approached, and addressed her in the accents of sympathy. She raised
her head and gazed wildly at him. What was his astonishment at
beholding, by the bright glare of the lightning, the very face which
had haunted him in his dreams. It was pale and disconsolate, but
ravishingly beautiful.

Trembling with violent and conflicting emotions, Wolfgang again
accosted her. He spoke something of her being exposed at such an hour
of the night, and to the fury of such a storm, and offered to conduct
her to her friends. She pointed to the guillotine with a gesture of
dreadful signification.

“I have no friend on earth!” said she.

“But you have a home,” said Wolfgang.

“Yes—in the grave!”

The heart of the student melted at the words.

“If a stranger dare make an offer,” said he, “without danger of being
misunderstood, I would offer my humble dwelling as a shelter; myself as
a devoted friend. I am friendless myself in Paris, and a stranger in
the land; but if my life could be of service, it is at your disposal,
and should be sacrificed before harm or indignity should come to you.”

There was an honest earnestness in the young man’s manner that had its
effect. His foreign accent, too, was in his favour; it showed him not
to be a hackneyed inhabitant of Paris. Indeed there is an eloquence in
true enthusiasm that is not to be doubted. The homeless stranger
confided herself implicitly to the protection of the student.

He supported her faltering steps across the Pont Neuf, and by the place
where the statue of Henry the Fourth had been overthrown by the
populace. The storm had abated, and the thunder rumbled at a distance.
All Paris was quiet; that great volcano of human passion slumbered for
a while, to gather fresh strength for the next day’s eruption. The
student conducted his charge through the ancient streets of the _Pays
Latin_, and by the dusky walls of the Sorbonne to the great, dingy
hotel which he inhabited. The old portress who admitted them stared
with surprise at the unusual sight of the melancholy Wolfgang with a
female companion.

On entering his apartment, the student, for the first time, blushed at
the scantiness and indifference of his dwelling. He had but one
chamber—an old fashioned saloon—heavily carved and fantastically
furnished with the remains of former magnificence, for it was one of
those hotels in the quarter of the Luxembourg palace which had once
belonged to nobility. It was lumbered with books and papers, and all
the usual apparatus of a student, and his bed stood in a recess at one

When lights were brought, and Wolfgang had a better opportunity of
contemplating the stranger, he was more than ever intoxicated by her
beauty. Her face was pale, but of a dazzling fairness, set off by a
profusion of raven hair that hung clustering about it. Her eyes were
large and brilliant, with a singular expression approaching almostto
wildness.Asfar as her black dress permitted her shape to be seen, it
was of perfect symmetry. Her whole appearance was highly striking,
though she was dressed in the simplest style. The only thing
approaching to an ornament which she wore was a broad, black band round
her neck, clasped by diamonds.

The perplexity now commenced with the student how to dispose of the
helpless being thus thrown upon his protection. He thought of
abandoning his chamber to her, and seeking shelter for himself
elsewhere. Still he was so fascinated by her charms, there seemed to be
such a spell upon his thoughts and senses, that he could not tear
himself from her presence. Her manner, too, was singular and
unaccountable. She spoke no more of the guillotine. Her grief had
abated. The attentions of the student had first won her confidence, and
then, apparently, her heart. She was evidently an enthusiast like
himself, and enthusiasts soon understand each other.

In the infatuation of the moment Wolfgang avowed his passion for her.
He told her the story of his mysterious dream, and how she had
possessed his heart before he had even seen her. She was strangely
affected by his recital, and acknowledged to have felt an impulse
towards him equally unaccountable. It was the time for wild theory and
wild actions. Old prejudices and superstitions were done away; every
thing was under the sway of the “Goddess of Reason.” Among other
rubbish of the old times, the forms and ceremonies of marriage began to
be considered superfluous bonds for honourable minds. Social compacts
were the vogue. Wolfgang was too much of a theorist not to be tainted
by the liberal doctrines of the day.

“Why should we separate?” said he: “our hearts are united; in the eye
of reason and honour we are as one. What need is there of sordid forms
to bind high souls together?”

The stranger listened with emotion: she had evidently received
illumination at the same school.

“You have no home nor family,” continued he; “let me be every thing to
you, or rather let us be every thing to one another. If form is
necessary, form shall be observed—there is my hand. I pledge myself to
you for ever.”

“For ever?” said the stranger, solemnly.

“For ever!” repeated Wolfgang.

The stranger clasped the hand extended to her: “Then I am yours,”
murmured she, and sank upon his bosom.

The next morning the student left his bride sleeping, and sallied forth
at an early hour to seek more spacious apartments, suitable to the
change in his situation. When he returned, he found the stranger lying
with her head hanging over the bed, and one arm thrown over it. He
spoke to her, but received no reply. He advanced to awaken her from her
uneasy posture. On taking her hand, it was cold—there was no
pulsation—her face was pallid and ghastly.—In a word—she was a corpse.

Horrified and frantic, he alarmed the house. A scene of confusion
ensued. The police was summoned. As the officer of police entered the
room, he started back on beholding the corpse.

“Great heaven!” cried he, “how did this woman come here?”

“Do you know any thing about her?” said Wolfgang, eagerly.

“Do I?” exclaimed the police officer: “she was guillotined yesterday!”

He stepped forward; undid the black collar round the neck of the
corpse, and the head rolled on the floor!

The student burst into a frenzy. “The fiend! the fiend has gained
possession of me!” shrieked he: “I am lost for ever!”

They tried to soothe him, but in vain. He was possessed with the
frightful belief that an evil spirit had reanimated the dead body to
ensnare him. He went distracted, and died in a madhouse.

Here the old gentleman with the haunted head finished his narrative.

“And is this really a fact?” said the inquisitive gentleman.

“A fact not to be doubted,” replied the other. “I had it from the best
authority. The student told it me himself. I saw him in a madhouse at


      As one story of the kind produces another, and as all the company
      seemed fully engrossed by the topic, and disposed to bring their
      relatives and ancestors upon the scene, there is no knowing how
      many more ghost adventures we might have heard, had not a
      corpulent old fox-hunter, who had slept soundly through the
      whole, now suddenly awakened, with a loud and long-drawn yawn.
      The sound broke the charm; the ghosts took to flight as though it
      had been cock-crowing, and there was a universal move for bed.

      “And now for the haunted chamber,” said the Irish captain, taking
      his candle.

      “Aye, who’s to be the hero of the night?” said the gentleman with
      the ruined head.

      “That we shall see in the morning,” said the old gentleman with
      the nose: “whoever looks pale and grizzly will have seen the

      “Well, gentlemen,” said the Baronet, “there’s many a true thing
      said in jest. In fact, one of you will sleep in a room to-night—”

      “What—a haunted room? a haunted room? I claim the adventure—and
      I—and I—and I,” cried a dozen guests, talking and laughing at the
      same time.

      “No—no,” said mine host, “there is a secret about one of my rooms
      on which I feel disposed to try an experiment. So, gentlemen,
      none of you shall know who has the haunted chamber, until
      circumstances reveal it. I will not even know it myself, but will
      leave it to chance and the allotment of the housekeeper. At the
      same time, if it will be any satisfaction to you, I will observe,
      for the honor of my paternal mansion, that there’s scarcely a
      chamber in it but is well worthy of being haunted.”

      We now separated for the night, and each went to his allotted
      room. Mine was in one wing of the building, and I could not but
      smile at its resemblance in style to those eventful apartments
      described in the tales of the supper table. It was spacious and
      gloomy, decorated with lamp-black portraits, a bed of ancient
      damask, with a tester sufficiently lofty to grace a couch of
      state, and a number of massive pieces of old-fashioned furniture.
      I drew a great claw-footed arm-chair before the wide fire-place;
      stirred up the fire; sat looking into it, and musing upon the odd
      stories I had heard; until, partly overcome by the fatigue of the
      day’s hunting, and partly by the wine and wassail of mine host, I
      fell asleep in my chair.

      The uneasiness of my position made my slumber troubled, and laid
      me at the mercy of all kinds of wild and fearful dreams; now it
      was that my perfidious dinner and supper rose in rebellion
      against my peace. I was hag-ridden by a fat saddle of mutton; a
      plum pudding weighed like lead upon my conscience; the merry
      thought of a capon filled me with horrible suggestions; and a
      devilled leg of a turkey stalked in all kinds of diabolical
      shapes through my imagination. In short, I had a violent fit of
      the nightmare. Some strange indefinite evil seemed hanging over
      me that I could not avert; something terrible and loathsome
      oppressed me that I could not shake off. I was conscious of being
      asleep, and strove to rouse myself, but every effort redoubled
      the evil; until gasping, struggling, almost strangling, I
      suddenly sprang bolt upright in my chair, and awoke.

      The light on the mantel-piece had burnt low, and the wick was
      divided; there was a great winding sheet made by the dripping
      wax, on the side towards me. The disordered taper emitted a broad
      flaring flame, and threw a strong light on a painting over the
      fire-place, which I had not hitherto observed.

      It consisted merely of a head, or rather a face, that appeared to
      be staring full upon me, and with an expression that was
      startling. It was without a frame, and at the first glance I
      could hardly persuade myself that it was not a real face,
      thrusting itself out of the dark oaken pannel. I sat in my chair
      gazing at it, and the more I gazed the more it disquieted me. I
      had never before been affected in the same way by any painting.
      The emotions it caused were strange and indefinite. They were
      something like what I have heard ascribed to the eyes of the
      basilisk; or like that mysterious influence in reptiles termed
      fascination. I passed my hand over my eyes several times, as if
      seeking instinctively to brush away this allusion—in vain—they
      instantly reverted to the picture, and its chilling, creeping
      influence over my flesh was redoubled.

      I looked around the room on other pictures, either to divert my
      attention, or to see whether the same effect would be produced by
      them. Some of them were grim enough to produce the effect, if the
      mere grimness of the painting produced it—no such thing. My eye
      passed over them all with perfect indifference, but the moment it
      reverted to this visage over the fire-place, it was as if an
      electric shock darted through me. The other pictures were dim and
      faded; but this one protruded from a plain black ground in the
      strongest relief, and with wonderful truth of coloring. The
      expression was that of agony—the agony of intense bodily pain;
      but a menace scowled upon the brow, and a few sprinklings of
      blood added to its ghastliness. Yet it was not all these
      characteristics—it was some horror of the mind, some inscrutable
      antipathy awakened by this picture, which harrowed up my

      I tried to persuade myself that this was chimerical; that my
      brain was confused by the fumes of mine host’s good cheer, and,
      in some measure, by the odd stories about paintings which had
      been told at supper. I determined to shake off these vapors of
      the mind; rose from my chair, and walked about the room; snapped
      my fingers; rallied myself; laughed aloud. It was a forced laugh,
      and the echo of it in the old chamber jarred upon my ear. I
      walked to the window; tried to discern the landscape through the
      glass. It was pitch darkness, and howling storm without; and as I
      heard the wind moan among the trees, I caught a reflection of
      this accursed visage in the pane of glass, as though it were
      staring through the window at me. Even the reflection of it was

      How was this vile nervous fit, for such I now persuaded myself it
      was, to be conquered? I determined to force myself not to look at
      the painting but to undress quickly and get into bed. I began to
      undress, but in spite of every effort I could not keep myself
      from stealing a glance every now and then at the picture; and a
      glance was now sufficient to distress me. Even when my back was
      turned to it, the idea of this strange face behind me, peering
      over my shoulder, was insufferable. I threw off my clothes and
      hurried into bed; but still this visage gazed upon me. I had a
      full view of it from my bed, and for some time could not take my
      eyes from it. I had grown nervous to a dismal degree.

      I put out the light, and tried to force myself to sleep;—all in
      vain! The fire gleaming up a little, threw an uncertain light
      about the room, leaving, however, the region of the picture in
      deep shadow. What, thought I, if this be the chamber about which
      mine host spoke as having a mystery reigning over it?—I had taken
      his words merely as spoken in jest; might they have a real
      import? I looked around. The faintly lighted apartment had all
      the qualifications requisite for a haunted chamber. It began in
      my infected imagination to assume strange appearances. The old
      portraits turned paler and paler, and blacker and blacker; the
      streaks of light and shadow thrown among the quaint old articles
      of furniture, gave them singular shapes and characters. There was
      a huge dark clothes-press of antique form, gorgeous in brass and
      lustrous with wax, that began to grow oppressive to me.

      Am I then, thought I, indeed, the hero of the haunted room? Is
      there really a spell laid upon me, or is this all some
      contrivance of mine host, to raise a laugh at my expense? The
      idea of being hag-ridden by my own fancy all night, and then
      bantered on my haggard looks the next day was intolerable; but
      the very idea was sufficient to produce the effect, and to render
      me still more nervous. Pish, said I, it can be no such thing. How
      could my worthy host imagine that I, or any man would be so
      worried by a mere picture? It is my own diseased imagination that
      torments me. I turned in my bed, and shifted from side to side,
      to try to fall asleep; but all in vain. When one cannot get
      asleep by lying quiet, it is seldom that tossing about will
      effect the purpose. The fire gradually went out and left the room
      in darkness. Still I had the idea of this inexplicable
      countenance gazing and keeping watch upon me through the
      darkness. Nay, what was worse, the very darkness seemed to give
      it additional power, and to multiply its terrors. It was like
      having an unseen enemy hovering about one in the night. Instead
      of having one picture now to worry me, I had a hundred. I fancied
      it in every direction. And there it is, thought I,—and there, and
      there,—with its horrible and mysterious expression, still gazing
      and gazing on me. No if I must suffer this strange and dismal
      influence, it were better face a single foe, than thus be haunted
      by a thousand images of it.

      Whoever has been in such a state of nervous agitation must know
      that the longer it continues, the more uncontrollable it grows;
      the very air of the chamber seemed at length infected by the
      baleful presence of this picture. I fancied it hovering over me.
      I almost felt the fearful visage from the wall approaching my
      face,—it seemed breathing upon me. This is not to be borne, said
      I, at length, springing out of bed. I can stand this no longer. I
      shall only tumble and toss about here all night; make a very
      spectre of myself, and become the hero of the haunted chamber in
      good earnest. Whatever be the consequence. I’ll quit this cursed
      room, and seek a night’s rest elsewhere. They can but laugh at me
      at all events, and they’ll be sure to have the laugh upon me if I
      pass a sleepless night and show them a haggard and wo-begone
      visage in the morning.

      All this was half muttered to myself, as I hastily slipped on my
      clothes; which having done, I groped my way out of the room, and
      down-stairs to the drawing-room. Here, after tumbling over two or
      three pieces of furniture, I made out to reach a sofa, and
      stretching myself upon it determined to bivouac there for the

      The moment I found myself out of the neighborhood of that strange
      picture, it seemed as if the charm were broken. All its influence
      was at an end. I felt assured that it was confined to its own
      dreary chamber, for I had, with a sort of instinctive caution,
      turned the key when I closed the door. I soon calmed down,
      therefore, into a state of tranquillity; from that into a
      drowsiness, and finally into a deep sleep; out of which I did not
      awake, until the housemaid, with her besom and her matin song,
      came to put the room in order. She stared at finding me stretched
      upon the sofa; but I presume circumstances of the kind were not
      uncommon after hunting dinners, in her master’s bachelor
      establishment; for she went on with her song and her work, and
      took no farther heed of me.

      I had an unconquerable repugnance to return to my chamber; so I
      found my way to the butler’s quarters, made my toilet in the best
      way circumstances would permit, and was among the first to appear
      at the breakfast table. Our breakfast was a substantial
      fox-hunter’s repast, and the company were generally assembled at
      it. When ample justice had been done to the tea, coffee, cold
      meats, and humming ale, for all these were furnished in
      abundance, according to the tastes of the different guests, the
      conversation began to break out, with all the liveliness and
      freshness of morning mirth.

      “But who is the hero of the haunted chamber?—Who has seen the
      ghost last night?” said the inquisitive gentleman, rolling his
      lobster eyes about the table.

      The question set every tongue in motion; a vast deal of
      bantering; criticising of countenances; of mutual accusation and
      retort took place. Some had drunk deep, and some were unshaven,
      so that there were suspicious faces enough in the assembly. I
      alone could not enter with ease and vivacity into the joke. I
      felt tongue-tied—embarrassed. A recollection of what I had seen
      and felt the preceding night still haunted my mind.

      It seemed as if the mysterious picture still held a thrall upon
      me. I thought also that our host’s eye was turned on me with an
      air of curiosity. In short, I was conscious that I was the hero
      of the night, and felt as if every one might read it in my looks.

      The jokes, however, passed over, and no suspicion seemed to
      attach to me. I was just congratulating myself on my escape, when
      a servant came in, saying, that the gentleman who had slept on
      the sofa in the drawing-room, had left his watch under one of the
      pillows. My repeater was in his hand.

      “What!” said the inquisitive gentleman, “did any gentleman sleep
      on the sofa?”

      “Soho! soho! a hare—a hare!” cried the old gentleman with the
      flexible nose.

      I could not avoid acknowledging the watch, and was rising in
      great confusion, when a boisterous old squire who sat beside me,
      exclaimed, slapping me on the shoulder, “‘Sblood, lad! thou’rt
      the man as has seen the ghost!”

      The attention of the company was immediately turned to me; if my
      face had been pale the moment before, it now glowed almost to
      burning. I tried to laugh, but could only make a grimace; and
      found all the muscles of my face twitching at sixes and sevens,
      and totally out of all control.

      It takes but little to raise a laugh among a set of fox-hunters.
      There was a world of merriment and joking at my expense; and as I
      never relished a joke overmuch when it was at my own expense, I
      began to feel a little nettled. I tried to look cool and calm and
      to restrain my pique; but the coolness and calmness of a man in a
      passion are confounded treacherous.

      Gentlemen, said I, with a slight cocking of the chin, and a bad
      attempt at a smile, this is all very pleasant—ha! ha!—very
      pleasant—but I’d have you know I am as little superstitious as
      any of you—ha! ha!—and as to anything like timidity—you may
      smile, gentlemen—but I trust there is no one here means to
      insinuate that.—As to a room’s being haunted, I repeat,
      gentlemen—(growing a little warm at seeing a cursed grin breaking
      out round me)—as to a room’s being haunted, I have as little
      faith in such silly stories as any one. But, since you put the
      matter home to me, I will say that I have met with something in
      my room strange and inexplicable to me—(a shout of laughter).
      Gentlemen, I am serious—I know well what I am saying—I am calm,
      gentlemen, (striking my flat upon the table)—by heaven I am calm.
      I am neither trifling, nor do I wish to be trifled with—(the
      laughter of the company suppressed with ludicrous attempts at
      gravity). There is a picture in the room in which I was put last
      night, that has had an effect upon me the most singular and

      “A picture!” said the old gentleman with the haunted head. “A
      picture!” cried the narrator with the waggish nose. “A picture! a
      picture!” echoed several voices. Here there was an ungovernable
      peal of laughter.

      I could not contain myself. I started up from my seat—looked
      round on the company with fiery indignation—thrust both my hands
      into my pockets, and strode up to one of the windows, as though I
      would have walked through it. I stopped short; looked out upon
      the landscape without distinguishing a feature of it; and felt my
      gorge rising almost to suffocation.

      Mine host saw it was time to interfere. He had maintained an air
      of Gravity through the whole of the scene, and now stepped forth
      as if to shelter me from the overwhelming merriment of my

      “Gentlemen,” said he, “I dislike to spoil sport, but you have had
      your laugh, and the joke of the haunted chamber has been enjoyed.
      I must now take the part of my guest. I must not only vindicate
      him from your pleasantries, but I must reconcile him to himself,
      for I suspect he is a little out of humor with his own feelings;
      and above all, I must crave his pardon for having made him the
      subject of a kind of experiment.

      “Yes, gentlemen, there is something strange and peculiar in the
      chamber to which our friend was shown last night. There is a
      picture which possesses a singular and mysterious influence; and
      with which there is connected a very curious story. It is a
      picture to which I attach a value from a variety of
      circumstances; and though I have often been tempted to destroy it
      from the odd and uncomfortable sensations it produces in every
      one that beholds it; yet I have never been able to prevail upon
      myself to make the sacrifice. It is a picture I never like to
      look upon myself; and which is held in awe by all my servants. I
      have, therefore, banished it to a room but rarely used; and
      should have had it covered last night, had not the nature of our
      conversation, and the whimsical talk about a haunted chamber
      tempted me to let it remain, by way of experiment, whether a
      stranger, totally unacquainted with its story, would be affected
      by it.”

      The words of the Baronet had turned every thought into a
      different channel: all were anxious to hear the story of the
      mysterious picture; and for myself, so strongly were my feelings
      interested, that I forgot to feel piqued at the experiment which
      my host had made upon my nerves, and joined eagerly in the
      general entreaty.

      As the morning was stormy, and precluded all egress, my host was
      glad of any means of entertaining his company; so drawing his
      arm-chair beside the fire, he began—


      Many years since, when I was a young man, and had just left
      Oxford, I was sent on the grand tour to finish my education. I
      believe my parents had tried in vain to inoculate me with wisdom;
      so they sent me to mingle with society, in hopes I might take it
      the natural way. Such, at least, appears to be the reason for
      which nine-tenths of our youngsters are sent abroad.

      In the course of my tour I remained some time at Venice. The
      romantic character of the place delighted me; I was very much
      amused by the air of adventure and intrigue that prevailed in
      this region of masks and gondolas; and I was exceedingly smitten
      by a pair of languishing black eyes, that played upon my heart
      from under an Italian mantle. So I persuaded myself that I was
      lingering at Venice to study men and manners. At least I
      persuaded my friends so, and that answered all my purpose.
      Indeed, I was a little prone to be struck by peculiarities in
      character and conduct, and my imagination was so full of romantic
      associations with Italy, that I was always on the lookout for

      Every thing chimed in with such a humor in this old mermaid of a
      city. My suite of apartments were in a proud, melancholy palace
      on the grand canal, formerly the residence of a Magnifico, and
      sumptuous with the traces of decayed grandeur. My gondolier was
      one of the shrewdest of his class, active, merry, intelligent,
      and, like his brethren, secret as the grave; that is to say,
      secret to all the world except his master. I had not had him a
      week before he put me behind all the curtains in Venice. I liked
      the silence and mystery of the place, and when I sometimes saw
      from my window a black gondola gliding mysteriously along in the
      dusk of the evening, with nothing visible but its little
      glimmering lantern, I would jump into my own zenduletto, and give
      a signal for pursuit. But I am running away from my subject with
      the recollection of youthful follies, said the Baronet, checking
      himself; “let me come to the point.”

      Among my familiar resorts was a Cassino under the Arcades on one
      side of the grand square of St. Mark. Here I used frequently to
      lounge and take my ice on those warm summer nights when in Italy
      every body lives abroad until morning. I was seated here one
      evening, when a group of Italians took seat at a table on the
      opposite side of the saloon. Their conversation was gay and
      animated, and carried on with Italian vivacity and gesticulation.

      I remarked among them one young man, however, who appeared to
      take no share, and find no enjoyment in the conversation; though
      he seemed to force himself to attend to it. He was tall and
      slender, and of extremely prepossessing appearance. His features
      were fine, though emaciated. He had a profusion of black glossy
      hair that curled lightly about his head, and contrasted with the
      extreme paleness of his countenance. His brow was haggard; deep
      furrows seemed to have been ploughed into his visage by care, not
      by age, for he was evidently in the prime of youth. His eye was
      full of expression and fire, but wild and unsteady. He seemed to
      be tormented by some strange fancy or apprehension. In spite of
      every effort to fix his attention on the conversation of his
      companions, I noticed that every now and then he would turn his
      head slowly round, give a glance over his shoulder, and then
      withdraw it with a sudden jerk, as if something painful had met
      his eye. This was repeated at intervals of about a minute, and he
      appeared hardly to have got over one shock, before I saw him
      slowly preparing to encounter another.

      After sitting some time in the Cassino, the party paid for the
      refreshments they had taken, and departed. The young man was the
      last to leave the saloon, and I remarked him glancing behind him
      in the same way, just as he passed out at the door. I could not
      resist the impulse to rise and follow him; for I was at an age
      when a romantic feeling of curiosity is easily awakened. The
      party walked slowly down the Arcades, talking and laughing as
      they went. They crossed the Piazzetta, but paused in the middle
      of it to enjoy the scene. It was one of those moonlight nights so
      brilliant and clear in the pure atmosphere of Italy. The
      moon-beams streamed on the tall tower of St. Mark, and lighted up
      the magnificent front and swelling domes of the Cathedral. The
      party expressed their delight in animated terms. I kept my eye
      upon the young man. He alone seemed abstracted and self-occupied.
      I noticed the same singular, and, as it were, furtive glance over
      the shoulder that had attracted my attention in the Cassino. The
      party moved on, and I followed; they passed along the walks
      called the Broglio; turned the corner of the Ducal palace, and
      getting into a gondola, glided swiftly away.

      The countenance and conduct of this young man dwelt upon my mind.
      There was something in his appearance that interested me
      exceedingly. I met him a day or two after in a gallery of
      paintings. He was evidently a connoisseur, for he always singled
      out the most masterly productions, and the few remarks drawn from
      him by his companions showed an intimate acquaintance with the
      art. His own taste, however, ran on singular extremes. On
      Salvator Rosa in his most savage and solitary scenes; on Raphael,
      Titian, and Corregio in their softest delineations of female
      beauty. On these he would occasionally gaze with transient
      enthusiasm. But this seemed only a momentary forgetfulness. Still
      would recur that cautious glance behind, and always quickly
      withdrawn, as though something terrible had met his view.

      I encountered him frequently afterwards. At the theatre, at
      balls, at concerts; at the promenades in the gardens of San
      Georgio; at the grotesque exhibitions in the square of St. Mark;
      among the throng of merchants on the Exchange by the Rialto. He
      seemed, in fact, to seek crowds; to hunt after bustle and
      amusement; yet never to take any interest in either the business
      or gayety of the scene. Ever an air of painful thought, of
      wretched abstraction; and ever that strange and recurring
      movement, of glancing fearfully over the shoulder. I did not know
      at first but this might be caused by apprehension of arrest; or
      perhaps from dread of assassination. But, if so, why should he go
      thus continually abroad; why expose himself at all times and in
      all places?

      I became anxious to know this stranger. I was drawn to him by
      that Romantic sympathy that sometimes draws young men towards
      each other. His melancholy threw a charm about him in my eyes,
      which was no doubt heightened by the touching expression of his
      countenance, and the manly graces of his person; for manly beauty
      has its effect even upon man. I had an Englishman’s habitual
      diffidence and awkwardness of address to contend with; but I
      subdued it, and from frequently meeting him in the Cassino,
      gradually edged myself into his acquaintance. I had no reserve on
      his part to contend with. He seemed on the contrary to court
      society; and in fact to seek anything rather than be alone.

      When he found I really took an interest in him he threw himself
      entirely upon my friendship. He clung to me like a drowning man.
      He would walk with me for hours up and down the place of St.
      Mark—or he would sit until night was far advanced in my
      apartment; he took rooms under the same roof with me; and his
      constant request was, that I would permit him, when it did not
      incommode me, to sit by me in my saloon. It was not that he
      seemed to take a particular delight in my conversation; but
      rather that he craved the vicinity of a human being; and above
      all, of a being that sympathized with him. “I have often heard,”
      said he, “of the sincerity of Englishmen—thank God I have one at
      length for a friend!”

      Yet he never seemed disposed to avail himself of my sympathy
      other than by mere companionship. He never sought to unbosom
      himself to me; there appeared to be a settled corroding anguish
      in his bosom that neither could be soothed “by silence nor by
      speaking.” A devouring melancholy preyed upon his heart, and
      seemed to be drying up the very blood in his veins. It was not a
      soft melancholy—the disease of the affections; but a parching,
      withering agony. I could see at times that his mouth was dry and
      feverish; he almost panted rather than breathed; his eyes were
      bloodshot; his cheeks pale and livid; with now and then faint
      streaks athwart them—baleful gleams of the fire that was
      consuming his heart. As my arm was within his, I felt him press
      it at times with a convulsive motion to his side; his hands would
      clinch themselves involuntarily, and a kind of shudder would run
      through his frame. I reasoned with him about his melancholy, and
      sought to draw from him the cause—he shrunk from all confiding.
      “Do not seek to know it,” said he, “you could not relieve it if
      you knew it; you would not even seek to relieve it—on the
      contrary, I should lose your sympathy; and that,” said he,
      pressing my hand convulsively, “that I feel has become too dear
      to me to risk.”

      I endeavored to awaken hope within him. He was young; life had a
      thousand pleasures in store for him; there is a healthy reaction
      in the youthful heart; it medicines its own wounds—

      “Come, come,” said I, “there is no grief so great that youth
      cannot outgrow it.”—“No! no!” said he, clinching his teeth, and
      striking repeatedly, with the energy of despair, upon his
      bosom—“It is here—here—deep-rooted; draining my heart’s blood. It
      grows and grows, while my heart withers and withers! I have a
      dreadful monitor that gives me no repose—that follows me step by
      step; and will follow me step by step, until it pushes me into my

      As he said this he gave involuntarily one of those fearful
      glances over his shoulder, and shrunk back with more than usual
      horror. I could not resist the temptation to allude to this
      movement, which I supposed to be some mere malady of the nerves.
      The moment I mentioned it his face became crimsoned and
      convulsed—he grasped me by both hands: “For God’s sake,”
      exclaimed he, with a piercing agony of voice—“never allude to
      that again; let us avoid this subject, my friend; you cannot
      relieve me, indeed you cannot relieve me; but you may add to the
      torments I suffer;—at some future day you shall know all.”

      I never resumed the subject; for however much my curiosity might
      be aroused, I felt too true compassion for his sufferings to
      increase them by my intrusion. I sought various ways to divert
      his mind, and to arouse him from the constant meditations in
      which he was plunged. He saw my efforts, and seconded them as far
      as in his power, for there was nothing moody or wayward in his
      nature; on the contrary, there was something frank, generous,
      unassuming, in his whole deportment. All the sentiments that he
      uttered were noble and lofty. He claimed no indulgence; he asked
      no toleration. He seemed content to carry his load of misery in
      silence, and only sought to carry it by my side. There was a mute
      beseeching manner about him, as if he craved companionship as a
      charitable boon; and a tacit thankfulness in his looks, as if he
      felt grateful to me for not repulsing him.

      I felt this melancholy to be infectious. It stole over my
      spirits; Interfered with all my gay pursuits, and gradually
      saddened my life; yet I could not prevail upon myself to shake
      off a being who seemed to hang upon me for support. In truth, the
      generous traits of character that beamed through all this gloom
      had penetrated to my heart. His bounty was lavish and
      open-handed. His charity melting and spontaneous. Not confined to
      mere donations, which often humiliate as much as they relieve.
      The tone of his voice, the beam of his eye, enhanced every gift,
      and surprised the poor suppliant with that rarest and sweetest of
      charities, the charity not merely of the hand, but of the heart.
      Indeed, his liberality seemed to have something in it of
      self-abasement and expiation. He humbled himself, in a manner,
      before the mendicant. “What right have I to ease and affluence,”
      would he murmur to himself, “when innocence wanders in misery and

      The Carnival time arrived. I had hoped that the gay scenes which
      then Presented themselves might have some cheering effect. I
      mingled with him in the motley throng that crowded the place of
      St. Mark. We frequented operas, masquerades, balls. All in vain.
      The evil kept growing on him; he became more and more haggard and
      agitated. Often, after we had returned from one of these scenes
      of revelry, I have entered his room, and found him lying on his
      face on the sofa: his hands clinched in his fine hair, and his
      whole countenance bearing traces of the convulsions of his mind.

      The Carnival passed away; the season of Lent succeeded; Passion
      week arrived. We attended one evening a solemn service in one of
      the churches; in the course of which a grand piece of vocal and
      instrumental music was performed relating to the death of our

      I had remarked that he was always powerfully affected by music;
      on this occasion he was so in an extraordinary degree. As the
      peeling notes swelled through the lofty aisles, he seemed to
      kindle up with fervor. His eyes rolled upwards, until nothing but
      the whites were visible; his hands were clasped together, until
      the fingers were deeply imprinted in the flesh. When the music
      expressed the dying agony, his face gradually sunk upon his
      knees; and at the touching words resounding through the church,
      “_Jesu mori_,” sobs burst from him uncontrolled. I had never seen
      him weep before; his had always been agony rather than sorrow. I
      augured well from the circumstance. I let him weep on
      uninterrupted. When the service was ended we left the church. He
      hung on my arm as we walked homewards, with something of a softer
      and more subdued manner; instead of that nervous agitation I had
      been accustomed to witness. He alluded to the service we had
      heard. “Music,” said he, “is indeed the voice of heaven; never
      before have I felt more impressed by the story of the atonement
      of our Saviour. Yes, my friend,” said he, clasping his hands with
      a kind of transport, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.”

      We parted for the night. His room was not far from mine, and I
      heard him for some time busied in it. I fell asleep, but was
      awakened before daylight. The young man stood by my bed-side,
      dressed for travelling. He held a sealed packet and a large
      parcel in his hand, which he laid on the table. “Farewell, my
      friend,” said he, “I am about to set forth on a long journey;
      but, before I go, I leave with you these remembrances. In this
      packet you will find the particulars of my story. When you read
      them, I shall be far away; do not remember me with aversion. You
      have been, indeed, a friend to me. You have poured oil into a
      broken heart,—but you could not heal it.—Farewell—let me kiss
      your hand—I am unworthy to embrace you.” He sunk on his knees,
      seized my hand in despite of my efforts to the contrary, and
      covered it with kisses. I was so surprised by all this scene that
      I had not been able to say a word.

      But we shall meet again, said I, hastily, as I saw him hurrying
      towards the door.

      “Never—never in this world!” said he, solemnly. He sprang once
      more to my bed-side—seized my hand, pressed it to his heart and
      to his lips, and rushed out of the room.

      Here the Baronet paused. He seemed lost in thought, and sat
      looking upon the floor and drumming with his fingers on the arm
      of his chair.

      “And did this mysterious personage return?” said the inquisitive
      gentleman. “Never!” replied the Baronet, with a pensive shake of
      the head: “I never saw him again.” “And pray what has all this to
      do with the picture?” inquired the old gentleman with the
      nose—“True!” said the questioner—“Is it the portrait of this
      crack-brained Italian?” “No!” said the Baronet drily, not half
      liking the appellation given to his hero; “but this picture was
      inclosed in the parcel he left with me. The sealed packet
      contained its explanation. There was a request on the outside
      that I would not open it until six months had elapsed. I kept my
      promise, in spite of my curiosity. I have a translation of it by
      me, and had meant to read it, by way of accounting for the
      mystery of the chamber, but I fear I have already detained the
      company too long.”

      Here there was a general wish expressed to have the manuscript
      read; particularly on the part of the inquisitive gentleman. So
      the worthy Baronet drew out a fairly written manuscript, and
      wiping his spectacles, read aloud the following story:


      I was born at Naples. My parents, though of noble rank, were
      limited in fortune, or rather my father was ostentatious beyond
      his means, and expended so much in his palace, his equipage, and
      his retinue, that he was continually straitened in his pecuniary
      circumstances. I was a younger son, and looked upon with
      indifference by my father, who, from a principle of family pride,
      wished to leave all his property to my elder brother.

      I showed, when quite a child, an extreme sensibility. Every thing
      affected me violently. While yet an infant in my mother’s arms,
      and before I had learnt to talk, I could be wrought upon to a
      wonderful degree of anguish or delight by the power of music. As
      I grew older my feelings remained equally acute, and I was easily
      transported into paroxysms of pleasure or rage. It was the
      amusement of my relatives and of the domestics to play upon this
      irritable temperament. I was moved to tears, tickled to laughter,
      provoked to fury, for the entertainment of company, who were
      amused by such a tempest of mighty passion in a pigmy frame. They
      little thought, or perhaps little heeded the dangerous
      sensibilities they were fostering. I thus became a little
      creature of passion, before reason was developed. In a short time
      I grew too old to be a plaything, and then I became a torment.
      The tricks and passions I had been teased into became irksome,
      and I was disliked by my teachers for the very lessons they had
      taught me.

      My mother died; and my power as a spoiled child was at an end.
      There was no longer any necessity to humor or tolerate me, for
      there was nothing to be gained by it, as I was no favorite of my
      father. I therefore experienced the fate of a spoiled child in
      such situation, and was neglected or noticed only to be crossed
      and contradicted. Such was the early treatment of a heart, which,
      if I am judge of it at all, was naturally disposed to the
      extremes of tenderness and affection.

      My father, as I have already said, never liked me—in fact, he
      never Understood me; he looked upon me as wilful and wayward, as
      deficient in natural affection:—it was the stateliness of his own
      manner; the loftiness and grandeur of his own look that had
      repelled me from his arms. I always pictured him to myself as I
      had seen him clad in his senatorial robes, rustling with pomp and
      pride. The magnificence of his person had daunted my strong
      imagination. I could never approach him with the confiding
      affection of a child.

      My father’s feelings were wrapped up in my elder brother. He was
      to be the inheritor of the family title and the family dignity,
      and every thing was sacrificed to him—I, as well as every thing
      else. It was determined to devote me to the church, that so my
      humors and myself might be removed out of the way, either of
      tasking my father’s time and trouble, or interfering with the
      interests of my brother. At an early age, therefore, before my
      mind had dawned upon the world and its delights, or known any
      thing of it beyond the precincts of my father’s palace, I was
      sent to a convent, the superior of which was my uncle, and was
      confided entirely to his care.

      My uncle was a man totally estranged from the world; he had never
      relished, for he had never tasted its pleasures; and he deemed
      rigid self-denial as the great basis of Christian virtue. He
      considered every one’s temperament like his own; or at least he
      made them conform to it. His character and habits had an
      influence over the fraternity of which he was superior. A more
      gloomy, saturnine set of beings were never assembled together.
      The convent, too, was calculated to awaken sad and solitary
      thoughts. It was situated in a gloomy gorge of those mountains
      away south of Vesuvius. All distant views were shut out by
      sterile volcanic heights. A mountain stream raved beneath its
      walls, and eagles screamed about its turrets.

      I had been sent to this place at so tender an age as soon to lose
      all Distinct recollection of the scenes I had left behind. As my
      mind expanded, therefore, it formed its idea of the world from
      the convent and its vicinity, and a dreary world it appeared to
      me. An early tinge of melancholy was thus infused into my
      character; and the dismal stories of the monks, about devils and
      evil spirits, with which they affrighted my young imagination,
      gave me a tendency to superstition, which I could never
      effectually shake off. They took the same delight to work upon my
      ardent feelings that had been so mischievously exercised by my
      father’s household.

      I can recollect the horrors with which they fed my heated fancy
      during an eruption of Vesuvius. We were distant from that
      volcano, with mountains between us; but its convulsive throes
      shook the solid foundations of nature. Earthquakes threatened to
      topple down our convent towers. A lurid, baleful light hung in
      the heavens at night, and showers of ashes, borne by the wind,
      fell in our narrow valley. The monks talked of the earth being
      honey-combed beneath us; of Streams of molten lava raging through
      its veins; of caverns of sulphurous flames roaring in the centre,
      the abodes of demons and the damned; of fiery gulfs ready to yawn
      beneath our feet. All these tales were told to the doleful
      accompaniment of the mountain’s thunders, whose low bellowing
      made the walls of our convent vibrate.

      One of the monks had been a painter, but had retired from the
      world, and embraced this dismal life in expiation of some crime.
      He was a melancholy man, who pursued his art in the solitude of
      his cell, but made it a source of penance to him. His employment
      was to portray, either on canvas or in waxen models, the human
      face and human form, in the agonies of death and in all the
      stages of dissolution and decay. The fearful mysteries of the
      charnel house were unfolded in his labors—the loathsome banquet
      of the beetle and the worm.—I turn with shuddering even from the
      recollection of his works. Yet, at that time, my strong, but
      ill-directed imagination seized with ardor upon his instructions
      in his art. Any thing was a variety from the dry studies and
      monotonous duties of the cloister. In a little while I became
      expert with my pencil, and my gloomy productions were thought
      worthy of decorating some of the altars of the chapel.

      In this dismal way was a creature of feeling and fancy brought
      up. Every thing genial and amiable in my nature was repressed and
      nothing brought out but what was unprofitable and ungracious. I
      was ardent in my temperament; quick, mercurial, impetuous, formed
      to be a creature all love and adoration; but a leaden hand was
      laid on all my finer qualities. I was taught nothing but fear and
      hatred. I hated my uncle, I hated the monks, I hated the convent
      in which I was immured. I hated the world, and I almost hated
      myself, for being, as I supposed, so hating and hateful an

      When I had nearly attained the age of sixteen, I was suffered, on
      one occasion, to accompany one of the brethren on a mission to a
      distant part of the country. We soon left behind us the gloomy
      valley in which I had been pent up for so many years, and after a
      short journey among the mountains, emerged upon the voluptuous
      landscape that spreads itself about the Bay of Naples. Heavens!
      How transported was I, when I stretched my gaze over a vast reach
      of delicious sunny country, gay with groves and vineyards; with
      Vesuvius rearing its forked summit to my right; the blue
      Mediterranean to my left, with its enchanting coast, studded with
      shining towns and sumptuous villas; and Naples, my native Naples,
      gleaming far, far in the distance.

      Good God! was this the lovely world from which I had been
      excluded! I Had reached that age when the sensibilities are in
      all their bloom and freshness. Mine had been checked and chilled.
      They now burst forth with the suddenness of a retarded spring. My
      heart, hitherto unnaturally shrunk up, expanded into a riot of
      vague, but delicious emotions. The beauty of nature intoxicated,
      bewildered me. The song of the peasants; their cheerful looks;
      their happy avocations; the picturesque gayety of their dresses;
      their rustic music; their dances; all broke upon me like
      witchcraft. My soul responded to the music; my heart danced in my
      bosom. All the men appeared amiable, all the women lovely.

      I returned to the convent, that is to say, my body returned but
      my heart and soul never entered there again. I could not forget
      this glimpse of a beautiful and a happy world; a world so suited
      to my natural character. I had felt so happy while in it; so
      different a being from what I felt myself while in the
      convent—that tomb of the living. I contrasted the countenances of
      the beings I had seen, full of fire and freshness and enjoyment,
      with the pallid, leaden, lack-lustre visages of the monks; the
      music of the dance, with the droning chant of the chapel. I had
      before found the exercises of the cloister wearisome; they now
      became intolerable. The dull round of duties wore away my spirit;
      my nerves became irritated by the fretful tinkling of the convent
      bell; evermore dinging among the mountain echoes; evermore
      calling me from my repose at night, my pencil by day, to attend
      to some tedious and mechanical ceremony of devotion.

      I was not of a nature to meditate long, without putting my
      thoughts into action. My spirit had been suddenly aroused, and
      was now all awake within me. I watched my opportunity, fled from
      the convent, and made my way on foot to Naples. As I entered its
      gay and crowded streets, and beheld the variety and stir of life
      around me, the luxury of palaces, the splendor of equipages, and
      the pantomimic animation of the motley populace, I seemed as if
      awakened to a world of enchantment, and solemnly vowed that
      nothing should force me back to the monotony of the cloister.

      I had to inquire my way to my father’s palace, for I had been so
      young on leaving it, that I knew not its situation. I found some
      difficulty in getting admitted to my father’s presence, for the
      domestics scarcely knew that there was such a being as myself in
      existence, and my monastic dress did not operate in my favor.
      Even my father entertained no recollection of my person. I told
      him my name, threw myself at his feet, implored his forgiveness,
      and entreated that I might not be sent back to the convent.

      He received me with the condescension of a patron rather than the
      kindness of a parent. He listened patiently, but coldly, to my
      tale of monastic grievances and disgusts, and promised to think
      what else could be done for me. This coldness blighted and drove
      back all the frank affection of my nature that was ready to
      spring forth at the least warmth of parental kindness. All my
      early feelings towards my father revived; I again looked up to
      him as the stately magnificent being that had daunted my childish
      imagination, and felt as if I had no pretensions to his
      sympathies. My brother engrossed all his care and love; he
      inherited his nature, and carried himself towards me with a
      protecting rather than a fraternal air. It wounded my pride,
      which was great. I could brook condescension from my father, for
      I looked up to him with awe as a superior being, but I could not
      brook patronage from a brother, who, I felt, was intellectually
      my inferior. The servants perceived that I was an unwelcome
      intruder in the paternal mansion, and, menial-like, they treated
      me with neglect. Thus baffled at every point; my affections
      outraged wherever they would attach themselves, I became sullen,
      silent, and despondent. My feelings driven back upon myself,
      entered and preyed upon my own heart. I remained for some days an
      unwelcome guest rather than a restored son in my father’s house.
      I was doomed never to be properly known there. I was made, by
      wrong treatment, strange even to myself; and they judged of me
      from my strangeness.

      I was startled one day at the sight of one of the monks of my
      convent, gliding out of my father’s room. He saw me, but
      pretended not to notice me; and this very hypocrisy made me
      suspect something. I had become sore and susceptible in my
      feelings; every thing inflicted a wound on them. In this state of
      mind I was treated with marked disrespect by a pampered minion,
      the favorite servant of my father. All the pride and passion of
      my nature rose in an instant, and I struck him to the earth.

      My father was passing by; he stopped not to inquire the reason,
      nor indeed could he read the long course of mental sufferings
      which were the real cause. He rebuked me with anger and scorn; he
      summoned all the haughtiness of his nature, and grandeur of his
      look, to give weight to the contumely with which he treated me. I
      felt I had not deserved it—I felt that I was not appreciated—I
      felt that I had that within me which merited better treatment; my
      heart swelled against a father’s injustice. I broke through my
      habitual awe of him. I replied to him with impatience; my hot
      spirit flushed in my cheek and kindled in my eye, but my
      sensitive heart swelled as quickly, and before I had half vented
      my passion I felt it suffocated and quenched in my tears. My
      father was astonished and incensed at this turning of the worm,
      and ordered me to my chamber. I retired in silence, choking with
      contending emotions.

      I had not been long there when I overheard voices in an adjoining
      apartment. It was a consultation between my father and the monk,
      about the means of getting me back quietly to the convent. My
      resolution was taken. I had no longer a home nor a father. That
      very night I left the paternal roof. I got on board a vessel
      about making sail from the harbor, and abandoned myself to the
      wide world. No matter to what port she steered; any part of so
      beautiful a world was better than my convent. No matter where I
      was cast by fortune; any place would be more a home to me than
      the home I had left behind. The vessel was bound to Genoa. We
      arrived there after a voyage of a few days.

      As I entered the harbor, between the moles which embrace it, and
      beheld the amphitheatre of palaces and churches and splendid
      gardens, rising one above another, I felt at once its title to
      the appellation of Genoa the Superb. I landed on the mole an
      utter stranger, without knowing what to do, or whither to direct
      my steps. No matter; I was released from the thraldom of the
      convent and the humiliations of home! When I traversed the Strada
      Balbi and the Strada Nuova, those streets of palaces, and gazed
      at the wonders of architecture around me; when I wandered at
      close of day, amid a gay throng of the brilliant and the
      beautiful, through the green alleys of the Aqua Verdi, or among
      the colonnades and terraces of the magnificent Doria Gardens, I
      thought it impossible to be ever otherwise than happy in Genoa.

      A few days sufficed to show me my mistake. My scanty purse was
      exhausted, and for the first time in my life I experienced the
      sordid distress of penury. I had never known the want of money,
      and had never adverted to the possibility of such an evil. I was
      ignorant of the world and all its ways; and when first the idea
      of destitution came over my mind its effect was withering. I was
      wandering pensively through the streets which no longer delighted
      my eyes, when chance led my stops into the magnificent church of
      the Annunciata.

      A celebrated painter of the day was at that moment superintending
      the placing of one of his pictures over an altar. The proficiency
      which I had acquired in his art during my residence in the
      convent had made me an enthusiastic amateur. I was struck, at the
      first glance, with the painting. It was the face of a Madonna. So
      innocent, so lovely, such a divine expression of maternal
      tenderness! I lost for the moment all recollection of myself in
      the enthusiasm of my art. I clasped my hands together, and
      uttered an ejaculation of delight. The painter perceived my
      emotion. He was flattered and gratified by it. My air and manner
      pleased him, and he accosted me. I felt too much the want of
      friendship to repel the advances of a stranger, and there was
      something in this one so benevolent and winning that in a moment
      he gained my confidence.

      I told him my story and my situation, concealing only my name and
      rank. He appeared strongly interested by my recital; invited me
      to his house, and from that time I became his favorite pupil. He
      thought he perceived in me extraordinary talents for the art, and
      his encomiums awakened all my ardor. What a blissful period of my
      existence was it that I passed beneath his roof. Another being
      seemed created within me, or rather, all that was amiable and
      excellent was drawn out. I was as recluse as ever I had been at
      the convent, but how different was my seclusion. My time was
      spent in storing my mind with lofty and poetical ideas; in
      meditating on all that was striking and noble in history or
      fiction; in studying and tracing all that was sublime and
      beautiful in nature. I was always a visionary, imaginative being,
      but now my reveries and imaginings all elevated me to rapture.

      I looked up to my master as to a benevolent genius that had
      opened to me a region of enchantment. I became devotedly attached
      to him. He was not a native of Genoa, but had been drawn thither
      by the solicitation of several of the nobility, and had resided
      there but a few years, for the completion of certain works he had
      undertaken. His health was delicate, and he had to confide much
      of the filling up of his designs to the pencils of his scholars.
      He considered me as particularly happy in delineating the human
      countenance; in seizing upon characteristic, though fleeting
      expressions and fixing them powerfully upon my canvas. I was
      employed continually, therefore, in sketching faces, and often
      when some particular grace or beauty or expression was wanted in
      a countenance, it was entrusted to my pencil. My benefactor was
      fond of bringing me forward; and partly, perhaps, through my
      actual skill, and partly by his partial praises, I began to be
      noted for the expression of my countenances.

      Among the various works which he had undertaken, was an
      historical piece for one of the palaces of Genoa, in which were
      to be introduced the likenesses of several of the family. Among
      these was one entrusted to my pencil. It was that of a young
      girl, who as yet was in a convent for her education. She came out
      for the purpose of sitting for the picture. I first saw her in an
      apartment of one of the sumptuous palaces of Genoa. She stood
      before a casement that looked out upon the bay, a stream of
      vernal sunshine fell upon her, and shed a kind of glory round her
      as it lit up the rich crimson chamber. She was but sixteen years
      of age—and oh, how lovely! The scene broke upon me like a mere
      vision of spring and youth and beauty. I could have fallen down
      and worshipped her. She was like one of those fictions of poets
      and painters, when they would express the _beau ideal_ that
      haunts their minds with shapes of indescribable perfection.

      I was permitted to sketch her countenance in various positions,
      and I Fondly protracted the study that was undoing me. The more I
      gazed on her the more I became enamoured; there was something
      almost painful in my intense admiration. I was but nineteen years
      of age; shy, diffident, and inexperienced. I was treated with
      attention and encouragement, for my youth and my enthusiasm in my
      art had won favor for me; and I am inclined to think that there
      was something in my air and manner that inspired interest and
      respect. Still the kindness with which I was treated could not
      dispel the embarrassment into which my own imagination threw me
      when in presence of this lovely being. It elevated her into
      something almost more than mortal. She seemed too exquisite for
      earthly use; too delicate and exalted for human attainment. As I
      sat tracing her charms on my canvas, with my eyes occasionally
      riveted on her features, I drank in delicious poison that made me
      giddy. My heart alternately gushed with tenderness, and ached
      with despair. Now I became more than ever sensible of the violent
      fires that had lain dormant at the bottom of my soul. You who are
      born in a more temperate climate and under a cooler sky, have
      little idea of the violence of passion in our southern bosoms.

      A few days finished my task; Bianca returned to her convent, but
      her image remained indelibly impressed upon my heart. It dwelt on
      my imagination; it became my pervading idea of beauty. It had an
      effect even upon my pencil; I became noted for my felicity in
      depicting female loveliness; it was but because I multiplied the
      image of Bianca. I soothed, and yet fed my fancy, by introducing
      her in all the productions of my master. I have stood with
      delight in one of the chapels of the Annunciata, and heard the
      crowd extol the seraphic beauty of a saint which I had painted; I
      have seen them bow down in adoration before the painting: they
      were bowing before the loveliness of Bianca.

      I existed in this kind of dream, I might almost say delirium, for
      upwards of a year. Such is the tenacity of my imagination that
      the image which was formed in it continued in all its power and
      freshness. Indeed, I was a solitary, meditative being, much given
      to reverie, and apt to foster ideas which had once taken strong
      possession of me. I was roused from this fond, melancholy,
      delicious dream by the death of my worthy benefactor. I cannot
      describe the pangs his death occasioned me. It left me alone and
      almost broken-hearted. He bequeathed to me his little property;
      which, from the liberality of his disposition and his expensive
      style of living, was indeed but small; and he most particularly
      recommended me, in dying, to the protection of a nobleman who had
      been his patron.

      The latter was a man who passed for munificent. He was a lover
      and an encourager of the arts, and evidently wished to be thought
      so. He fancied he saw in me indications of future excellence; my
      pencil had already attracted attention; he took me at once under
      his protection; seeing that I was overwhelmed with grief, and
      incapable of exerting myself in the mansion of my late
      benefactor, he invited me to sojourn for a time in a villa which
      he possessed on the border of the sea, in the picturesque
      neighborhood of Sestri de Ponenti.

      I found at the villa the Count’s only son, Filippo: he was nearly
      of my age, prepossessing in his appearance, and fascinating in
      his manners; he attached himself to me, and seemed to court my
      good opinion. I thought there was something of profession in his
      kindness, and of caprice in his disposition; but I had nothing
      else near me to attach myself to, and my heart felt the need of
      something to repose itself upon. His education had been
      neglected; he looked upon me as his superior in mental powers and
      acquirements, and tacitly acknowledged my superiority. I felt
      that I was his equal in birth, and that gave an independence to
      my manner which had its effect. The caprice and tyranny I saw
      sometimes exercised on others, over whom he had power, were never
      manifested towards me. We became intimate friends, and frequent
      companions. Still I loved to be alone, and to indulge in the
      reveries of my own imagination, among the beautiful scenery by
      which I was surrounded.

      The villa stood in the midst of ornamented grounds, finely
      decorated With statues and fountains, and laid out into groves
      and alleys and shady bowers. It commanded a wide view of the
      Mediterranean, and the picturesque Ligurian coast. Every thing
      was assembled here that could gratify the taste or agreeably
      occupy the mind. Soothed by the tranquillity of this elegant
      retreat, the turbulence of my feelings gradually subsided, and,
      blending with the romantic spell that still reigned over my
      imagination, produced a soft voluptuous melancholy.

      I had not been long under the roof of the Count, when our
      solitude was enlivened by another inhabitant. It was a daughter
      of a relation of the Count, who had lately died in reduced
      circumstances, bequeathing this only child to his protection. I
      had heard much of her beauty from Filippo, but my fancy had
      become so engrossed by one idea of beauty as not to admit of any
      other. We were in the central saloon of the villa when she
      arrived. She was still in mourning, and approached, leaning on
      the Count’s arm. As they ascended the marble portico, I was
      struck by the elegance of her figure and movement, by the grace
      with which the _mezzaro_, the bewitching veil of Genoa, was
      folded about her slender form.

      They entered. Heavens! what was my surprise when I beheld Bianca
      before me. It was herself; pale with grief; but still more
      matured in loveliness than when I had last beheld her. The time
      that had elapsed had developed the graces of her person; and the
      sorrow she had undergone had diffused over her countenance an
      irresistible tenderness.

      She blushed and trembled at seeing me, and tears rushed into her
      eyes, for she remembered in whose company she had been accustomed
      to behold me. For my part, I cannot express what were my
      emotions. By degrees I overcame the extreme shyness that had
      formerly paralyzed me in her presence. We were drawn together by
      sympathy of situation. We had each lost our best friend in the
      world; we were each, in some measure thrown upon the kindness of
      others. When I came to know her intellectually, all my ideal
      picturings of her were confirmed. Her newness to the world, her
      delightful susceptibility to every thing beautiful and agreeable
      in nature, reminded me of my own emotions when first I escaped
      from the convent. Her rectitude of thinking delighted my
      judgment; the sweetness of her nature wrapped itself around my
      heart; and then her young and tender and budding loveliness, sent
      a delicious madness to my brain.

      I gazed upon her with a kind of idolatry, as something more than
      mortal; and I felt humiliated at the idea of my comparative
      unworthiness. Yet she was mortal; and one of mortality’s most
      susceptible and loving compounds; for she loved me!

      How first I discovered the transporting truth I cannot recollect;
      I believe it stole upon me by degrees, as a wonder past hope or
      belief. We were both at such a tender and loving age; in constant
      intercourse with each other; mingling in the same elegant
      pursuits; for music, poetry, and painting were our mutual
      delights, and we were almost separated from society, among lovely
      and romantic scenery! Is it strange that two young hearts thus
      brought together should readily twine round each other?

      Oh, gods! what a dream—a transient dream! of unalloyed delight
      then passed over my soul! Then it was that the world around me
      was indeed a paradise, for I had a woman—lovely, delicious woman,
      to share it with me. How often have I rambled over the
      picturesque shores of Sestri, or climbed its wild mountains, with
      the coast gemmed with villas, and the blue sea far below me, and
      the slender Pharo of Genoa on its romantic promontory in the
      distance; and as I sustained the faltering steps of Bianca, have
      thought there could no unhappiness enter into so beautiful a
      world. Why, oh, why is this budding season of life and love so
      transient—why is this rosy cloud of love that sheds such a glow
      over the morning of our days so prone to brew up into the
      whirlwind and the storm!

      I was the first to awaken from this blissful delirium of the
      affections. I had gained Bianca’s heart: what was I to do with
      it? I had no wealth nor prospects to entitle me to her hand. Was
      I to take advantage of her ignorance of the world, of her
      confiding affection, and draw her down to my own poverty? Was
      this requiting the hospitality of the Count?—was this requiting
      the love of Bianca?

      Now first I began to feel that even successful love may have its
      bitterness. A corroding care gathered about my heart. I moved
      about the palace like a guilty being. I felt as if I had abused
      its hospitality—as if I were a thief within its walls. I could no
      longer look with unembarrassed mien in the countenance of the
      Count. I accused myself of perfidy to him, and I thought he read
      it in my looks, and began to distrust and despise me. His manner
      had always been ostentatious and condescending, it now appeared
      cold and haughty. Filippo, too, became reserved and distant; or
      at least I suspected him to be so. Heavens!—was this mere coinage
      of my brain: was I to become suspicious of all the world?—a poor
      surmising wretch; watching looks and gestures; and torturing
      myself with misconstructions. Or if true—was I to remain beneath
      a roof where I was merely tolerated, and linger there on
      sufferance? “This is not to be endured!” exclaimed I; “I will
      tear myself from this state of self-abasement; I will break
      through this fascination and fly—Fly?—whither?—from the
      world?—for where is the world when I leave Bianca behind me?”

      My spirit was naturally proud, and swelled within me at the idea
      of being looked upon with contumely. Many times I was on the
      point of declaring my family and rank, and asserting my equality,
      in the presence of Bianca, when I thought her relatives assumed
      an air of superiority. But the feeling was transient. I
      considered myself discarded and contemned by my family; and had
      solemnly vowed never to own relationship to them, until they
      themselves should claim it.

      The struggle of my mind preyed upon my happiness and my health.
      It seemed as if the uncertainty of being loved would be less
      intolerable than thus to be assured of it, and yet not dare to
      enjoy the conviction. I was no longer the enraptured admirer of
      Bianca; I no longer hung in ecstasy on the tones of her voice,
      nor drank in with insatiate gaze the beauty of her countenance.
      Her very smiles ceased to delight me, for I felt culpable in
      having won them.

      She could not but be sensible of the change in me, and inquired
      the cause with her usual frankness and simplicity. I could not
      evade the inquiry, for my heart was full to aching. I told her
      all the conflict of my soul; my devouring passion, my bitter
      self-upbraiding. “Yes!” said I, “I am unworthy of you. I am an
      offcast from my family—a wanderer—a nameless, homeless wanderer,
      with nothing but poverty for my portion, and yet I have dared to
      love you—have dared to aspire to your love!”

      My agitation moved her to tears; but she saw nothing in my
      situation so hopeless as I had depicted it. Brought up in a
      convent, she knew nothing of the world, its wants, its
      cares;—and, indeed, what woman is a worldly casuist in matters of
      the heart!—Nay, more—she kindled into a sweet enthusiasm when she
      spoke of my fortunes and myself. We had dwelt together on the
      works of the famous masters. I had related to her their
      histories; the high reputation, the influence, the magnificence
      to which they had attained;—the companions of princes, the
      favorites of kings, the pride and boast of nations. All this she
      applied to me. Her love saw nothing in their greatest productions
      that I was not able to achieve; and when I saw the lovely
      creature glow with fervor, and her whole countenance radiant with
      the visions of my glory, which seemed breaking upon her, I was
      snatched up for the moment into the heaven of her own

      I am dwelling too long upon this part of my story; yet I cannot
      help Lingering over a period of my life, on which, with all its
      cares and conflicts, I look back with fondness; for as yet my
      soul was unstained by a crime. I do not know what might have been
      the result of this struggle between pride, delicacy, and passion,
      had I not read in a Neapolitan gazette an account of the sudden
      death of my brother. It was accompanied by an earnest inquiry for
      intelligence concerning me, and a prayer, should this notice meet
      my eye, that I would hasten to Naples, to comfort an infirm and
      afflicted father.

      I was naturally of an affectionate disposition; but my brother
      had never been as a brother to me; I had long considered myself
      as disconnected from him, and his death caused me but little
      emotion. The thoughts of my father, infirm and suffering, touched
      me, however, to the quick; and when I thought of him, that lofty,
      magnificent being, now bowed down and desolate, and suing to me
      for comfort, all my resentment for past neglect was subdued, and
      a glow of filial affection was awakened within me.

      The predominant feeling, however, that overpowered all others was
      transport at the sudden change in my whole fortunes. A home—a
      name—a rank—wealth awaited me; and love painted a still more
      rapturous prospect in the distance. I hastened to Bianca, and
      threw myself at her feet. “Oh, Bianca,” exclaimed I, “at length I
      can claim you for my own. I am no longer a nameless adventurer, a
      neglected, rejected outcast. Look—read, behold the tidings that
      restore me to my name and to myself!”

      I will not dwell on the scene that ensued. Bianca rejoiced in the
      reverse of my situation, because she saw it lightened my heart of
      a load of care; for her own part she had loved me for myself, and
      had never doubted that my own merits would command both fame and

      I now felt all my native pride buoyant within me; I no longer
      walked with my eyes bent to the dust; hope elevated them to the
      skies; my soul was lit up with fresh fires, and beamed from my

      I wished to impart the change in my circumstances to the Count;
      to let him know who and what I was, and to make formal proposals
      for the hand of Bianca; but the Count was absent on a distant
      estate. I opened my whole soul to Filippo. Now first I told him
      of my passion; of the doubts and fears that had distracted me,
      and of the tidings that had suddenly dispelled them. He
      overwhelmed me with congratulations and with the warmest
      expressions of sympathy. I embraced him in the fullness of my
      heart. I felt compunctious for having suspected him of coldness,
      and asked him forgiveness for having ever doubted his friendship.

      Nothing is so warm, and enthusiastic as a sudden expansion of the
      heart between young men. Filippo entered into our concerns with
      the most eager interest. He was our confidant and counsellor. It
      was determined that I should hasten at once to Naples to
      re-establish myself in my father’s affections and my paternal
      home, and the moment the reconciliation was effected and my
      father’s consent insured, I should return and demand Bianca of
      the Count. Filippo engaged to secure his father’s acquiescence;
      indeed, he undertook to watch over our interests, and was the
      channel through which we were to correspond.

      My parting with Bianca was tender—delicious—agonizing.

      It was in a little pavilion of the garden which had been one of
      our favorite resorts. How often and often did I return to have
      one more adieu—to have her look once more on me in speechless
      emotion—to enjoy once more the rapturous sight of those tears
      streaming down her lovely cheeks—to seize once more on that
      delicate hand, the frankly accorded pledge of love, and cover it
      with tears and kisses! Heavens! There is a delight even in the
      parting agony of two lovers worth a thousand tame pleasures of
      the world. I have her at this moment before my eyes—at the window
      of the pavilion, putting aside the vines that clustered about the
      casement—her light form beaming forth in virgin white—her
      countenance all tears and smiles—sending a thousand and a
      thousand adieus after me, as, hesitating, in a delirium of
      fondness and agitation, I faltered my way down the avenue.

      As the bark bore me out of the harbor of Genoa, how eagerly my
      eyes Stretched along the coast of Sestri, till it discerned the
      villa gleaming from among trees at the foot of the mountain. As
      long as day lasted, I gazed and gazed upon it, till it lessened
      and lessened to a mere white speck in the distance; and still my
      intense and fixed gaze discerned it, when all other objects of
      the coast had blended into indistinct confusion, or were lost in
      the evening gloom.

      On arriving at Naples, I hastened to my paternal home. My heart
      yearned for the long-withheld blessing of a father’s love. As I
      entered the proud portal of the ancestral palace, my emotions
      were so great that I could not speak. No one knew me. The
      servants gazed at me with curiosity and surprise. A few years of
      intellectual elevation and development had made a prodigious
      change in the poor fugitive stripling from the convent. Still
      that no one should know me in my rightful home was overpowering.
      I felt like the prodigal son returned. I was a stranger in the
      house of my father. I burst into tears, and wept aloud. When I
      made myself known, however, all was changed. I who had once been
      almost repulsed from its walls, and forced to fly as an exile,
      was welcomed back with acclamation, with servility. One of the
      servants hastened to prepare my father for my reception; my
      eagerness to receive the paternal embrace was so great that I
      could not await his return; but hurried after him.

      What a spectacle met my eyes as I entered the chamber! My father,
      whom I had left in the pride of vigorous age, whose noble and
      majestic bearing had so awed my young imagination, was bowed down
      and withered into decrepitude. A paralysis had ravaged his
      stately form, and left it a shaking ruin. He sat propped up in
      his chair, with pale, relaxed visage and glassy, wandering eye.
      His intellects had evidently shared in the ravage of his frame.
      The servant was endeavoring to make him comprehend the visitor
      that was at hand. I tottered up to him and sunk at his feet. All
      his past coldness and neglect were forgotten in his present
      sufferings. I remembered only that he was my parent, and that I
      had deserted him. I clasped his knees; my voice was almost
      stifled with convulsive sobs. “Pardon—pardon—oh my father!” was
      all that I could utter. His apprehension seemed slowly to return
      to him. He gazed at me for some moments with a vague, inquiring
      look; a convulsive tremor quivered about his lips; he feebly
      extended a shaking hand, laid it upon my head, and burst into an
      infantine flow of tears.

      From that moment he would scarcely spare me from his sight. I
      appeared the only object that his heart responded to in the
      world; all else was as a blank to him. He had almost lost the
      powers of speech, and the reasoning faculty seemed at an end. He
      was mute and passive; excepting that fits of child-like weeping
      would sometimes come over him without any immediate cause. If I
      left the room at any time, his eye was incessantly fixed on the
      door till my return, and on my entrance there was another gush of

      To talk with him of my concerns, in this ruined state of mind,
      would have been worse than useless; to have left him, for ever so
      short a time, would have been cruel, unnatural. Here then was a
      new trial for my affections. I wrote to Bianca an account of my
      return and of my actual situation; painting in colors vivid, for
      they were true, the torments I suffered at our being thus
      separated; for to the youthful lover every day of absence is an
      age of love lost. I enclosed the letter in one to Filippo, who
      was the channel of our correspondence. I received a reply from
      him full of friendship and sympathy; from Bianca full of
      assurances of affection and constancy.

      Week after week, month after month elapsed, without making any
      change in my circumstances. The vital flame, which had seemed
      nearly extinct when first I met my father, kept fluttering on
      without any apparent diminution. I watched him constantly,
      faithfully—I had almost said patiently. I knew that his death
      alone would set me free; yet I never at any moment wished it. I
      felt too glad to be able to make any atonement for past
      disobedience; and, denied as I had been all endearments of
      relationship in my early days, my heart yearned towards a father,
      who, in his age and helplessness, had thrown himself entirely on
      me for comfort. My passion for Bianca gained daily more force
      from absence; by constant meditation it wore itself a deeper and
      deeper channel. I made no new friends nor acquaintances; sought
      none of the pleasures of Naples which my rank and fortune threw
      open to me. Mine was a heart that confined itself to few objects,
      but dwelt upon those with the intenser passion. To sit by my
      father, and administer to his wants, and to meditate on Bianca in
      the silence of his chamber, was my constant habit. Sometimes I
      amused myself with my pencil in portraying the image that was
      ever present to my imagination. I transferred to canvas every
      look and smile of hers that dwelt in my heart. I showed them to
      my father in hopes of awakening an interest in his bosom for the
      mere shadow of my love; but he was too far sunk in intellect to
      take any more than a child-like notice of them.

      When I received a letter from Bianca it was a new source of
      solitary luxury. Her letters, it is true, were less and less
      frequent, but they were always full of assurances of unabated
      affection. They breathed not the frank and innocent warmth with
      which she expressed herself in conversation, but I accounted for
      it from the embarrassment which inexperienced minds have often to
      express themselves upon paper. Filippo assured me of her
      unaltered constancy. They both lamented in the strongest terms
      our continued separation, though they did justice to the filial
      feeling that kept me by my father’s side.

      Nearly eighteen months elapsed in this protracted exile. To me
      they were so many ages. Ardent and impetuous by nature, I
      scarcely know how I should have supported so long an absence, had
      I not felt assured that the faith of Bianca was equal to my own.
      At length my father died. Life went from him almost
      imperceptibly. I hung over him in mute affliction, and watched
      the expiring spasms of nature. His last faltering accents
      whispered repeatedly a blessing on me—alas! how has it been

      When I had paid due honors to his remains, and laid them in the
      tomb of our ancestors, I arranged briefly my affairs; put them in
      a posture to be easily at my command from a distance, and
      embarked once more, with a bounding heart, for Genoa.

      Our voyage was propitious, and oh! what was my rapture when
      first, in the dawn of morning, I saw the shadowy summits of the
      Apennines rising almost like clouds above the horizon. The sweet
      breath of summer just moved us over the long wavering billows
      that were rolling us on towards Genoa. By degrees the coast of
      Sestri rose like a sweet creation of enchantment from the silver
      bosom of the deep. I behold the line of villages and palaces
      studding its borders. My eye reverted to a well-known point, and
      at length, from the confusion of distant objects, it singled out
      the villa which contained Bianca. It was a mere speck in the
      landscape, but glimmering from afar, the polar star of my heart.

      Again I gazed at it for a livelong summer’s day; but oh how
      different the emotions between departure and return. It now kept
      growing and growing, instead of lessening on my sight. My heart
      seemed to dilate with it. I looked at it through a telescope. I
      gradually defined one feature after another. The balconies of the
      central saloon where first I met Bianca beneath its roof; the
      terrace where we so often had passed the delightful summer
      evenings; the awning that shaded her chamber window—I almost
      fancied I saw her form beneath it. Could she but know her lover
      was in the bark whose white sail now gleamed on the sunny bosom
      of the sea! My fond impatience increased as we neared the coast.
      The ship seemed to lag lazily over the billows; I could almost
      have sprung into the sea and swam to the desired shore.

      The shadows of evening gradually shrouded the scene, but the moon
      arose in all her fullness and beauty and shed the tender light so
      dear to lovers, over the romantic coast of Sestri. My whole soul
      was bathed in unutterable tenderness. I anticipated the heavenly
      evenings I should pass in wandering with Bianca by the light of
      that blessed moon.

      It was late at night before we entered the harbor. As early next
      morning as I could get released from the formalities of landing I
      threw myself on horseback and hastened to the villa. As I
      galloped round the rocky promontory on which stands the Faro, and
      saw the coast of Sestri opening upon me, a thousand anxieties and
      doubts suddenly sprang up in my bosom. There is something fearful
      in returning to those we love, while yet uncertain what ills or
      changes absence may have effected. The turbulence of my agitation
      shook my very frame. I spurred my horse to redoubled speed; he
      was covered with foam when we both arrived panting at the gateway
      that opened to the grounds around the villa. I left my horse at a
      cottage and walked through the grounds, that I might regain
      tranquillity for the approaching interview. I chid myself for
      having suffered mere doubts and surmises thus suddenly to
      overcome me; but I was always prone to be carried away by these
      gusts of the feelings.

      On entering the garden everything bore the same look as when I
      had left it; and this unchanged aspect of things reassured me.
      There were the alleys in which I had so often walked with Bianca;
      the same shades under which we had so often sat during the
      noontide. There were the same flowers of which she was fond; and
      which appeared still to be under the ministry of her hand.
      Everything around looked and breathed of Bianca; hope and joy
      flushed in my bosom at every step. I passed a little bower in
      which we had often sat and read together. A book and a glove lay
      on the bench. It was Bianca’s glove; it was a volume of the
      Metestasio I had given her. The glove lay in my favorite passage.
      I clasped them to my heart. “All is safe!” exclaimed I, with
      rapture, “she loves me! she is still my own!”

      I bounded lightly along the avenue down which I had faltered so
      slowly at my departure. I beheld her favorite pavilion which had
      witnessed our parting scene. The window was open, with the same
      vine clambering about it, precisely as when she waved and wept me
      an adieu. Oh! how transporting was the contrast in my situation.
      As I passed near the pavilion, I heard the tones of a female
      voice. They thrilled through me with an appeal to my heart not to
      be mistaken. Before I could think, I felt they were Bianca’s. For
      an instant I paused, overpowered with agitation. I feared to
      break in suddenly upon her. I softly ascended the steps of the
      pavilion. The door was open. I saw Bianca seated at a table; her
      back was towards me; she was warbling a soft melancholy air, and
      was occupied in drawing. A glance sufficed to show me that she
      was copying one of my own paintings. I gazed on her for a moment
      in a delicious tumult of emotions. She paused in her singing; a
      heavy sigh, almost a sob followed. I could no longer contain
      myself. “Bianca!” exclaimed I, in a half smothered voice. She
      started at the sound; brushed back the ringlets that hung
      clustering about her face; darted a glance at me; uttered a
      piercing shriek and would have fallen to the earth, had I not
      caught her in my arms.

      “Bianca! my own Bianca!” exclaimed I, folding her to my bosom; my
      voice stifled in sobs of convulsive joy. She lay in my arms
      without sense or motion. Alarmed at the effects of my own
      precipitation, I scarce knew what to do. I tried by a thousand
      endearing words to call her back to consciousness. She slowly
      recovered, and half opening her eyes—“where am I?” murmured she
      faintly. “Here,” exclaimed I, pressing her to my bosom. “Here!
      close to the heart that adores you; in the arms of your faithful

      “Oh no! no! no!” shrieked she, starting into sudden life and
      terror—“away! away! leave me! leave me!”

      She tore herself from my arms; rushed to a corner of the saloon,
      and covered her face with her hands, as if the very sight of me
      were baleful. I was thunderstruck—I could not believe my senses.
      I followed her, trembling, confounded. I endeavored to take her
      hand, but she shrunk from my very touch with horror.

      “Good heavens, Bianca,” exclaimed I, “what is the meaning of
      this? Is this my reception after so long an absence? Is this the
      love you professed for me?”

      At the mention of love, a shuddering ran through her. She turned
      to me a face wild with anguish. “No more of that! no more of
      that!” gasped she—“talk not to me of love—I—I—am married!”

      I reeled as if I had received a mortal blow. A sickness struck to
      my very heart. I caught at a window frame for support. For a
      moment or two, everything was chaos around me. When I recovered,
      I beheld Bianca lying on a sofa; her face buried in a pillow, and
      sobbing convulsively. Indignation at her fickleness for a moment
      overpowered every other feeling.

      “Faithless—perjured—” cried I, striding across the room. But
      another glance at that beautiful being in distress, checked all
      my wrath. Anger could not dwell together with her idea in my

      “Oh, Bianca,” exclaimed I, in anguish, “could I have dreamt of
      this; could I have suspected you would have been false to me?”

      She raised her face all streaming with tears, all disordered with
      emotion, and gave me one appealing look—“False to you!—they told
      me you were dead!”

      “What,” said I, “in spite of our constant correspondence?”

      She gazed wildly at me—“correspondence!—what correspondence?”

      “Have you not repeatedly received and replied to my letters?”

      She clasped her hands with solemnity and fervor—“As I hope for
      mercy, never!”

      A horrible surmise shot through my brain—“Who told you I was

      “It was reported that the ship in which you embarked for Naples
      perished at sea.”

      “But who told you the report?”

      She paused for an instant, and trembled—


      “May the God of heaven curse him!” cried I, extending my clinched
      fists aloft.

      “Oh do not curse him—do not curse him!” exclaimed she—“He is—he
      is —my husband!”

      This was all that was wanting to unfold the perfidy that had been
      practised upon me. My blood boiled like liquid fire in my veins.
      I gasped with rage too great for utterance. I remained for a time
      bewildered by the whirl of horrible thoughts that rushed through
      my mind. The poor victim of deception before me thought it was
      with her I was incensed. She faintly murmured forth her
      exculpation. I will not dwell upon it. I saw in it more than she
      meant to reveal. I saw with a glance how both of us had been
      betrayed. “‘Tis well!” muttered I to myself in smothered accents
      of concentrated fury. “He shall account to me for this!”

      Bianca overhead me. New terror flashed in her countenance. “For
      mercy’s sake do not meet him—say nothing of what has passed—for
      my sake say nothing to him—I only shall be the sufferer!”

      A new suspicion darted across my mind—“What!” exclaimed I—“do you
      then _fear_ him—is he _unkind_ to you—tell me,” reiterated I,
      grasping her hand and looking her eagerly in the face—“tell
      me—_dares_ he to use you harshly!”

      “No! no! no!” cried she faltering and embarrassed; but the glance
      at her face had told me volumes. I saw in her pallid and wasted
      features; in the prompt terror and subdued agony of her eye a
      whole history of a mind broken down by tyranny. Great God! and
      was this beauteous flower snatched from me to be thus trampled
      upon? The idea roused me to madness. I clinched my teeth and my
      hands; I foamed at the mouth; every passion seemed to have
      resolved itself into the fury that like a lava boiled within my
      heart. Bianca shrunk from me in speechless affright. As I strode
      by the window my eye darted down the alley. Fatal moment! I
      beheld Filippo at a distance! My brain was in a delirium—I sprang
      from the pavilion, and was before him with the quickness of
      lightning. He saw me as I came rushing upon him—he turned pale,
      looked wildly to right and left, as if he would have fled, and
      trembling drew his sword.

      “Wretch!” cried I, “well may you draw your weapon!”

      I spake not another word—I snatched forth a stiletto, put by the
      sword which trembled in his hand, and buried my poniard in his
      bosom. He fell with the blow, but my rage was unsated. I sprang
      upon him with the blood-thirsty feeling of a tiger; redoubled my
      blows; mangled him in my frenzy, grasped him by the throat, until
      with reiterated wounds and strangling convulsions he expired in
      my grasp. I remained glaring on the countenance, horrible in
      death, that seemed to stare back with its protruded eyes upon me.
      Piercing shrieks roused me from my delirium. I looked round and
      beheld Bianca flying distractedly towards us. My brain whirled. I
      waited not to meet her, but fled from the scene of horror. I fled
      forth from the garden like another Cain, a hell within my bosom,
      and a curse upon my head. I fled without knowing whither—almost
      without knowing why—my only idea was to get farther and farther
      from the horrors I had left behind; as if I could throw space
      between myself and my conscience. I fled to the Apennines, and
      wandered for days and days among their savage heights. How I
      existed I cannot tell—what rocks and precipices I braved, and how
      I braved them, I know not. I kept on and on—trying to outtravel
      the curse that clung to me. Alas, the shrieks of Bianca rung for
      ever in my ear. The horrible countenance of my victim was for
      ever before my eyes. “The blood of Filippo cried to me from the
      ground.” Rocks, trees, and torrents all resounded with my crime.

      Then it was I felt how much more insupportable is the anguish of
      remorse than every other mental pang. Oh! could I but have cast
      off this crime that festered in my heart; could I but have
      regained the innocence that reigned in my breast as I entered the
      garden at Sestri; could I but have restored my victim to life, I
      felt as if I could look on with transport even though Bianca were
      in his arms.

      By degrees this frenzied fever of remorse settled into a
      permanent malady of the mind. Into one of the most horrible that
      ever poor wretch was cursed with. Wherever I went, the
      countenance of him I had slain appeared to follow me. Wherever I
      turned my head I beheld it behind me, hideous with the
      contortions of the dying moment. I have tried in every way to
      escape from this horrible phantom; but in vain. I know not
      whether it is an illusion of the mind, the consequence of my
      dismal education at the convent, or whether a phantom really sent
      by heaven to punish me; but there it ever is—at all times—in all
      places—nor has time nor habit had any effect in familiarizing me
      with its terrors. I have travelled from place to place, plunged
      into amusements—tried dissipation and distraction of every
      kind—all—all in vain.

      I once had recourse to my pencil as a desperate experiment. I
      painted an exact resemblance of this phantom face. I placed it
      before me in hopes that by constantly contemplating the copy I
      might diminish the effect of the original. But I only doubled
      instead of diminishing the misery.

      Such is the curse that has clung to my footsteps—that has made my
      life a burthen—but the thoughts of death, terrible. God knows
      what I have suffered. What days and days, and nights and nights,
      of sleepless torment. What a never-dying worm has preyed upon my
      heart; what an unquenchable fire has burned within my brain. He
      knows the wrongs that wrought upon my poor weak nature; that
      converted the tenderest of affections into the deadliest of fury.
      He knows best whether a frail erring creature has expiated by
      long-enduring torture and measureless remorse, the crime of a
      moment of madness. Often, often have I prostrated myself in the
      dust, and implored that he would give me a sign of his
      forgiveness, and let me die.—

      Thus far had I written some time since. I had meant to leave this
      record of misery and crime with you, to be read when I should be
      no more. My prayer to heaven has at length been heard. You were
      witness to my emotions last evening at the performance of the
      Miserere; when the vaulted temple resounded with the words of
      atonement and redemption. I heard a voice speaking to me from the
      midst of the music; I heard it rising above the pealing of the
      organ and the voices of the choir; it spoke to me in tones of
      celestial melody; it promised mercy and forgiveness, but demanded
      from me full expiation. I go to make it. To-morrow I shall be on
      my way to Genoa to surrender myself to justice. You who have
      pitied my sufferings; who have poured the balm of sympathy into
      my wounds, do not shrink from my memory with abhorrence now that
      you know my story. Recollect, when you read of my crime I shall
      have atoned for it with my blood!

      When the Baronet had finished, there was an universal desire
      expressed to see the painting of this frightful visage. After
      much entreaty the Baronet consented, on condition that they
      should only visit it one by one. He called his housekeeper and
      gave her charge to conduct the gentlemen singly to the chamber.
      They all returned varying in their stories: some affected in one
      way, some in another; some more, some less; but all agreeing that
      there was a certain something about the painting that had a very
      odd effect upon the feelings.

      I stood in a deep bow window with the Baronet, and could not help
      expressing my wonder. “After all,” said I, “there are certain
      mysteries in our nature, certain inscrutable impulses and
      influences, that warrant one in being superstitious. Who can
      account for so many persons of different characters being thus
      strangely affected by a mere painting?”

      “And especially when not one of them has seen it!” said the
      Baronet with a smile.

      “How?” exclaimed I, “not seen it?”

      “Not one of them?” replied he, laying his finger on his lips in
      sign of secrecy. “I saw that some of them were in a bantering
      vein, and I did not choose that the memento of the poor Italian
      should be made a jest of. So I gave the housekeeper a hint to
      show them all to a different chamber!”

      Thus end the Stories of the Nervous Gentleman.


  “’Tis a very good world that we live in,
  To lend, or to spend, or to give in;
  But to beg, or to borrow, or get a man’s own,
  ’Tis the very worst world, sir, that ever was known.”
                  —LINES FROM AN INN WINDOW.


      Among the great variety of characters which fall in a traveller’s
      way, I became acquainted during my sojourn in London, with an
      eccentric personage of the name of Buckthorne. He was a literary
      man, had lived much in the metropolis, and had acquired a great
      deal of curious, though unprofitable knowledge concerning it. He
      was a great observer of character, and could give the natural
      history of every odd animal that presented itself in this great
      wilderness of men. Finding me very curious about literary life
      and literary characters, he took much pains to gratify my

      “The literary world of England,” said he to me one day, “is made
      up of a number of little fraternities, each existing merely for
      itself, and thinking the rest of the world created only to look
      on and admire. It may be resembled to the firmament, consisting
      of a number of systems, each composed of its own central sun with
      its revolving train of moons and satellites, all acting in the
      most harmonious concord; but the comparison fails in part,
      inasmuch as the literary world has no general concord. Each
      system acts independently of the rest, and indeed considers all
      other stars as mere exhalations and transient meteors, beaming
      for awhile with false fires, but doomed soon to fall and be
      forgotten; while its own luminaries are the lights of the
      universe, destined to increase in splendor and to shine steadily
      on to immortality.”

      “And pray,” said I, “how is a man to get a peep into one of these
      systems you talk of? I presume an intercourse with authors is a
      kind of intellectual exchange, where one must bring his
      commodities to barter, and always give a _quid pro quo_.”

      “Pooh, pooh—how you mistake,” said Buckthorne, smiling; “you must
      never think to become popular among wits by shining. They go into
      society to shine themselves, not to admire the brilliancy of
      others. I thought as you do when I first cultivated the society
      of men of letters, and never went to a blue-stocking coterie
      without studying my part beforehand as diligently as an actor.
      The consequence was, I soon got the name of an intolerable
      proser, and should in a little while have been completely
      excommunicated had I not changed my plan of operations. From
      thenceforth I became a most assiduous listener, or if ever I were
      eloquent, it was tête-a-tête with an author in praise of his own
      works, or what is nearly as acceptable, in disparagement of the
      works of his contemporaries. If ever he spoke favorably of the
      productions of some particular friend, I ventured boldly to
      dissent from him, and to prove that his friend was a blockhead;
      and much as people say of the pertinacity and irritability of
      authors, I never found one to take offence at my contradictions.
      No, no, sir, authors are particularly candid in admitting the
      faults of their friends.

      “Indeed, I was extremely sparing of my remarks on all modern
      works, excepting to make sarcastic observations on the most
      distinguished writers of the day. I never ventured to praise an
      author that had not been dead at least half a century; and even
      then I was rather cautious; for you must know that many old
      writers have been enlisted under the banners of different sects,
      and their merits have become as complete topics of party
      prejudice and dispute, as the merits of living statesmen and
      politicians. Nay, there have been whole periods of literature
      absolutely _taboo’d_, to use a South Sea phrase. It is, for
      example, as much as a man’s reputation is worth, in some circles,
      to say a word in praise of any writers of the reign of Charles
      the Second, or even of Queen Anne; they being all declared to be
      Frenchmen in disguise.”

      “And pray, then,” said I, “when am I to know that I am on safe
      grounds; being totally unacquainted with the literary landmarks
      and the boundary lines of fashionable taste?”

      “Oh,” replied he, there is fortunately one tract of literature
      that forms a kind of neutral ground, on which all the literary
      world meet amicably; lay down their weapons and even run riot in
      their excess of good humor, and this is, the reigns of Elizabeth
      and James. Here you may praise away at a venture; here it is ‘cut
      and come again,’ and the more obscure the author, and the more
      quaint and crabbed his style, the more your admiration will smack
      of the real relish of the connoisseur; whose taste, like that of
      an epicure, is always for game that has an antiquated flavor.

      “But,” continued he, “as you seem anxious to know something of
      literary society I will take an opportunity to introduce you to
      some coterie, where the talents of the day are assembled. I
      cannot promise you, however, that they will be of the first
      order. Somehow or other, our great geniuses are not gregarious,
      they do not go in flocks, but fly singly in general society. They
      prefer mingling, like common men, with the multitude; and are apt
      to carry nothing of the author about them but the reputation. It
      is only the inferior orders that herd together, acquire strength
      and importance by their confederacies, and bear all the
      distinctive characteristics of their species.”


      A few days after this conversation with Mr. Buckthorne, he called
      upon me, and took me with him to a regular literary dinner. It
      was given by a great bookseller, or rather a company of
      booksellers, whose firm surpassed in length even that of
      Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego.

      I was surprised to find between twenty and thirty guests
      assembled, most of whom I had never seen before. Buckthorne
      explained this to me by informing me that this was a “business
      dinner,” or kind of field day, which the house gave about twice a
      year to its authors. It is true, they did occasionally give snug
      dinners to three or four literary men at a time, but then these
      were generally select authors; favorites of the public; such as
      had arrived at their sixth and seventh editions. “There are,”
      said he, “certain geographical boundaries in the land of
      literature, and you may judge tolerably well of an author’s
      popularity, by the wine his bookseller gives him. An author
      crosses the port line about the third edition and gets into
      claret, but when he has reached the sixth and seventh, he may
      revel in champagne and burgundy.”

      “And pray,” said I, “how far may these gentlemen have reached
      that I see around me; are any of these claret drinkers?”

      “Not exactly, not exactly. You find at these great dinners the
      common steady run of authors, one, two, edition men—or if any
      others are invited they are aware that it is a kind of republican
      meeting—You understand me—a meeting of the republic of letters,
      and that they must expect nothing but plain substantial fare.”

      These hints enabled me to comprehend more fully the arrangement
      of the table. The two ends were occupied by two partners of the
      house. And the host seemed to have adopted Addison’s ideas as to
      the literary precedence of his guests. A popular poet had the
      post of honor, opposite to whom was a hot-pressed traveller in
      quarto, with plates. A grave-looking antiquarian, who had
      produced several solid works, which were much quoted and little
      read, was treated with great respect, and seated next to a neat,
      dressy gentleman in black, who had written a thin, genteel,
      hot-pressed octavo on political economy that was getting into
      fashion. Several three-volume duodecimo men of fair currency were
      placed about the centre of the table; while the lower end was
      taken up with small poets, translators, and authors, who had not
      as yet risen into much notice.

      The conversation during dinner was by fits and starts; breaking
      out here and there in various parts of the table in small
      flashes, and ending in smoke. The poet, who had the confidence of
      a man on good terms with the world and independent of his
      bookseller, was very gay and brilliant, and said many clever
      things, which set the partner next him, in a roar, and delighted
      all the company. The other partner, however, maintained his
      sedateness, and kept carving on, with the air of a thorough man
      of business, intent upon the occupation of the moment. His
      gravity was explained to me by my friend Buckthorne. He informed
      me that the concerns of the house were admirably distributed
      among the partners. “Thus, for instance,” said he, “the grave
      gentleman is the carving partner who attends to the joints, and
      the other is the laughing partner who attends to the jokes.”

      The general conversation was chiefly carried on at the upper end
      of the table; as the authors there seemed to possess the greatest
      courage of the tongue. As to the crew at the lower end, if they
      did not make much figure in talking, they did in eating. Never
      was there a more determined, inveterate, thoroughly-sustained
      attack on the trencher, than by this phalanx of masticators. When
      the cloth was removed, and the wine began to circulate, they grew
      very merry and jocose among themselves. Their jokes, however, if
      by chance any of them reached the upper end of the table, seldom
      produced much effect. Even the laughing partner did not seem to
      think it necessary to honor them with a smile; which my neighbour
      Buckthorne accounted for, by informing me that there was a
      certain degree of popularity to be obtained, before a bookseller
      could afford to laugh at an author’s jokes.

      Among this crew of questionable gentlemen thus seated below the
      salt, my eye singled out one in particular. He was rather
      shabbily dressed; though he had evidently made the most of a
      rusty black coat, and wore his shirt-frill plaited and puffed out
      voluminously at the bosom. His face was dusky, but florid—perhaps
      a little too florid, particularly about the nose, though the rosy
      hue gave the greater lustre to a twinkling black eye. He had a
      little the look of a boon companion, with that dash of the poor
      devil in it which gives an inexpressibly mellow tone to a man’s
      humor. I had seldom seen a face of richer promise; but never was
      promise so ill kept. He said nothing; ate and drank with the keen
      appetite of a gazetteer, and scarcely stopped to laugh even at
      the good jokes from the upper end of the table. I inquired who he
      was. Buckthorne looked at him attentively. “Gad,” said he, “I
      have seen that face before, but where I cannot recollect. He
      cannot be an author of any note. I suppose some writer of sermons
      or grinder of foreign travels.”

      After dinner we retired to another room to take tea and coffee,
      where we were re-enforced by a cloud of inferior guests. Authors
      of small volumes in boards, and pamphlets stitched in blue paper.
      These had not as yet arrived to the importance of a dinner
      invitation, but were invited occasionally to pass the evening “in
      a friendly way.” They were very respectful to the partners, and
      indeed seemed to stand a little in awe of them; but they paid
      very devoted court to the lady of the house, and were
      extravagantly fond of the children. I looked round for the poor
      devil author in the rusty black coat and magnificent frill, but
      he had disappeared immediately after leaving the table; having a
      dread, no doubt, of the glaring light of a drawing-room. Finding
      nothing farther to interest my attention, I took my departure as
      soon as coffee had been served, leaving the port and the thin,
      genteel, hot-pressed, octavo gentlemen, masters of the field.


      I think it was but the very next evening that in coming out of
      Covent Garden Theatre with my eccentric friend Buckthorne, he
      proposed to give me another peep at life and character. Finding
      me willing for any research of the kind, he took me through a
      variety of the narrow courts and lanes about Covent Garden, until
      we stopped before a tavern from which we heard the bursts of
      merriment of a jovial party. There would be a loud peal of
      laughter, then an interval, then another peal; as if a prime wag
      were telling a story. After a little while there was a song, and
      at the close of each stanza a hearty roar and a vehement thumping
      on the table.

      “This is the place,” whispered Buckthorne. “It is the ‘Club of
      Queer Fellows.’ A great resort of the small wits, third-rate
      actors, and newspaper critics of the theatres. Any one can go in
      on paying a shilling at the bar for the use of the club.”

      We entered, therefore, without ceremony, and took our seats at a
      lone table in a dusky corner of the room. The club was assembled
      round a table, on which stood beverages of various kinds,
      according to the taste of the individual. The members were a set
      of queer fellows indeed; but what was my surprise on recognizing
      in the prime wit of the meeting the poor devil author whom I had
      remarked at the booksellers’ dinner for his promising face and
      his complete taciturnity. Matters, however, were entirely changed
      with him. There he was a mere cypher: here he was lord of the
      ascendant; the choice spirit, the dominant genius. He sat at the
      head of the table with his hat on, and an eye beaming even more
      luminously than his nose. He had a quiz and a fillip for every
      one, and a good thing on every occasion. Nothing could be said or
      done without eliciting a spark from him; and I solemnly declare I
      have heard much worse wit even from noblemen. His jokes, it must
      be confessed, were rather wet, but they suited the circle in
      which he presided. The company were in that maudlin mood when a
      little wit goes a great way. Every time he opened his lips there
      was sure to be a roar, and sometimes before he had time to speak.

      We were fortunate enough to enter in time for a glee composed by
      him expressly for the club, and which he sang with two boon
      companions, who would have been worthy subjects for Hogarth’s
      pencil. As they were each provided with a written copy, I was
      enabled to procure the reading of it.

  Merrily, merrily push round the glass,
  And merrily troll the glee,
  For he who won’t drink till he wink is an ass,
  So neighbor I drink to thee.
  Merrily, merrily puddle thy nose,
  Until it right rosy shall be;
  For a jolly red nose, I speak under the rose,
  Is a sign of good company.

      We waited until the party broke up, and no one but the wit
      remained. He sat at the table with his legs stretched under it,
      and wide apart; his hands in his breeches pockets; his head
      drooped upon his breast; and gazing with lack-lustre countenance
      on an empty tankard. His gayety was gone, his fire completely

      My companion approached and startled him from his fit of brown
      study, introducing himself on the strength of their having dined
      together at the booksellers’.

      “By the way,” said he, “it seems to me I have seen you before;
      your face is surely the face of an old acquaintance, though for
      the life of me I cannot tell where I have known you.”

      “Very likely,” said he with a smile; “many of my old friends have
      forgotten me. Though, to tell the truth, my memory in this
      instance is as bad as your own. If, however, it will assist your
      recollection in any way, my name is Thomas Dribble, at your

      “What, Tom Dribble, who was at old Birchell’s school in

      “The same,” said the other, coolly.

      “Why, then we are old schoolmates, though it’s no wonder you
      don’t recollect me. I was your junior by several years; don’t you
      recollect little Jack Buckthorne?”

      Here then ensued a scene of school-fellow recognition; and a
      world of talk about old school times and school pranks. Mr.
      Dribble ended by observing, with a heavy sigh, “that times were
      sadly changed since those days.”

      “Faith, Mr. Dribble,” said I, “you seem quite a different man
      here from what you were at dinner. I had no idea that you had so
      much stuff in you. There you were all silence; but here you
      absolutely keep the table in a roar.”

      “Ah, my dear sir,” replied he, with a shake of the head and a
      shrug of the shoulder, “I’m a mere glow-worm. I never shine by
      daylight. Besides, it’s a hard thing for a poor devil of an
      author to shine at the table of a rich bookseller. Who do you
      think would laugh at any thing I could say, when I had some of
      the current wits of the day about me? But here, though a poor
      devil, I am among still poorer devils than myself; men who look
      up to me as a man of letters and a bel esprit, and all my jokes
      pass as sterling gold from the mint.”

      “You surely do yourself injustice, sir,” said I; “I have
      certainly heard more good things from you this evening than from
      any of those beaux esprits by whom you appear to have been so

      “Ah, sir! but they have luck on their side; they are in the
      fashion— there’s nothing like being in fashion. A man that has
      once got his character up for a wit, is always sure of a laugh,
      say what he may. He may utter as much nonsense as he pleases, and
      all will pass current. No one stops to question the coin of a
      rich man; but a poor devil cannot pass off either a joke or a
      guinea, without its being examined on both sides. Wit and coin
      are always doubted with a threadbare coat.

      “For my part,” continued he, giving his hat a twitch a little
      more on one side, “for my part, I hate your fine dinners; there’s
      nothing, sir, like the freedom of a chop-house. I’d rather, any
      time, have my steak and tankard among my own set, than drink
      claret and eat venison with your cursed civil, elegant company,
      who never laugh at a good joke from a poor devil, for fear of its
      being vulgar. A good joke grows in a wet soil; it flourishes in
      low places, but withers on your d—d high, dry grounds. I once
      kept high company, sir, until I nearly ruined myself; I grew so
      dull, and vapid, and genteel. Nothing saved me but being arrested
      by my landlady and thrown into prison; where a course of
      catch-clubs, eight-penny ale, and poor-devil company, manured my
      mind and brought it back to itself again.”

      As it was now growing late we parted for the evening; though I
      felt anxious to know more of this practical philosopher. I was
      glad, therefore, when Buckthorne proposed to have another meeting
      to talk over old school times, and inquired his school-mate’s
      address. The latter seemed at first a little shy of naming his
      lodgings; but suddenly assuming an air of hardihood—“Green Arbour
      court, sir,” exclaimed he—“number—in Green Arbour court. You must
      know the place. Classic ground, sir! classic ground! It was there
      Goldsmith wrote his Vicar of Wakefield. I always like to live in
      literary haunts.”

      I was amused with this whimsical apology for shabby quarters. On
      our Way homewards Buckthorne assured me that this Dribble had
      been the prime wit and great wag of the school in their boyish
      days, and one of those unlucky urchins denominated bright
      geniuses. As he perceived me curious respecting his old
      school-mate, he promised to take me with him, in his proposed
      visit to Green Arbour court.

      A few mornings afterwards he called upon me, and we set forth on
      our expedition. He led me through a variety of singular alleys,
      and courts, and blind passages; for he appeared to be profoundly
      versed in all the intricate geography of the metropolis. At
      length we came out upon Fleet Market, and traversing it, turned
      up a narrow street to the bottom of a long steep flight of stone
      steps, named Break-neck Stairs. These, he told me, led up to
      Green Arbour court, and that down them poor Goldsmith might many
      a time have risked his neck. When we entered the court, I could
      not but smile to think in what out-of-the-way corners genius
      produces her bantlings! And the muses, those capricious dames,
      who, forsooth, so often refuse to visit palaces, and deny a
      single smile to votaries in splendid studies and gilded
      drawing-rooms,—what holes and burrows will they frequent to
      lavish their favors on some ragged disciple!

      This Green Arbour court I found to be a small square of tall and
      Miserable houses, the very intestines of which seemed turned
      inside out, to judge from the old garments and frippery that
      fluttered from every window. It appeared to be a region of
      washerwomen, and lines were stretched about the little square, on
      which clothes were dangling to dry. Just as we entered the
      square, a scuffle took place between two viragos about a disputed
      right to a washtub, and immediately the whole community was in a
      hubbub. Heads in mob caps popped out of every window, and such a
      clamor of tongues ensued that I was fain to stop my ears. Every
      Amazon took part with one or other of the disputants, and
      brandished her arms dripping with soapsuds, and fired away from
      her window as from the embrazure of a fortress; while the swarms
      of children nestled and cradled in every procreant chamber of
      this hive, waking with the noise, set up their shrill pipes to
      swell the general concert.

      Poor Goldsmith! what a time must he have had of it, with his
      quiet Disposition and nervous habits, penned up in this den of
      noise and vulgarity. How strange that while every sight and sound
      was sufficient to embitter the heart and fill it with
      misanthropy, his pen should be dropping the honey of Hybla. Yet
      it is more than probable that he drew many of his inimitable
      pictures of low life from the scenes which surrounded him in this
      abode. The circumstance of Mrs. Tibbs being obliged to wash her
      husband’s two shirts in a neighbor’s house, who refused to lend
      her washtub, may have been no sport of fancy, but a fact passing
      under his own eye. His landlady may have sat for the picture, and
      Beau Tibbs’ scanty wardrobe have been a facsimile of his own.

      It was with some difficulty that we found our way to Dribble’s
      lodgings. They were up two pair of stairs, in a room that looked
      upon the court, and when we entered he was seated on the edge of
      his bed, writing at a broken table. He received us, however, with
      a free, open, poor devil air, that was irresistible. It is true
      he did at first appear slightly confused; buttoned up his
      waistcoat a little higher and tucked in a stray frill of linen.
      But he recollected himself in an instant; gave a half swagger,
      half leer, as he stepped forth to receive us; drew a three-legged
      stool for Mr. Buckthorne; pointed me to a lumbering old damask
      chair that looked like a dethroned monarch in exile, and bade us
      welcome to his garret.

      We soon got engaged in conversation. Buckthorne and he had much
      to say about early school scenes; and as nothing opens a man’s
      heart more than recollections of the kind, we soon drew from him
      a brief outline of his literary career.


      I began life unluckily by being the wag and bright fellow at
      school; and I had the farther misfortune of becoming the great
      genius of my native village. My father was a country attorney,
      and intended that I should succeed him in business; but I had too
      much genius to study, and he was too fond of my genius to force
      it into the traces. So I fell into bad company and took to bad
      habits. Do not mistake me. I mean that I fell into the company of
      village literati and village blues, and took to writing village

      It was quite the fashion in the village to be literary. We had a
      little knot of choice spirits who assembled frequently together,
      formed ourselves into a Literary, Scientific, and Philosophical
      Society, and fancied ourselves the most learned philos in
      existence. Every one had a great character assigned him,
      suggested by some casual habit or affectation. One heavy fellow
      drank an enormous quantity of tea; rolled in his armchair, talked
      sententiously, pronounced dogmatically, and was considered a
      second Dr. Johnson; another, who happened to be a curate, uttered
      coarse jokes, wrote doggerel rhymes, and was the Swift of our
      association. Thus we had also our Popes and Goldsmiths and
      Addisons, and a blue-stocking lady, whose drawing-room we
      frequented, who corresponded about nothing with all the world,
      and wrote letters with the stiffness and formality of a printed
      book, was cried up as another Mrs. Montagu. I was, by common
      consent, the juvenile prodigy, the poetical youth, the great
      genius, the pride and hope of the village, through whom it was to
      become one day as celebrated as Stratford-on-Avon.

      My father died and left me his blessing and his business. His
      blessing brought no money into my pocket; and as to his business
      it soon deserted me: for I was busy writing poetry, and could not
      attend to law; and my clients, though they had great respect for
      my talents, had no faith in a poetical attorney.

      I lost my business therefore, spent my money, and finished my
      poem. It was the Pleasures of Melancholy, and was cried up to the
      skies by the whole circle. The Pleasures of Imagination, the
      Pleasures of Hope, and the Pleasures of Memory, though each had
      placed its author in the first rank of poets, were blank prose in
      comparison. Our Mrs. Montagu would cry over it from beginning to
      end. It was pronounced by all the members of the Literary,
      Scientific, and Philosophical Society the greatest poem of the
      age, and all anticipated the noise it would make in the great
      world. There was not a doubt but the London booksellers would be
      mad after it, and the only fear of my friends was, that I would
      make a sacrifice by selling it too cheap.

      Every time they talked the matter over they increased the price.
      They reckoned up the great sums given for the poems of certain
      popular writers, and determined that mine was worth more than all
      put together, and ought to be paid for accordingly. For my part,
      I was modest in my expectations, and determined that I would be
      satisfied with a thousand guineas. So I put my poem in my pocket
      and set off for London.

      My journey was joyous. My heart was light as my purse, and my
      head full of anticipations of fame and fortune. With what
      swelling pride did I cast my eyes upon old London from the
      heights of Highgate. I was like a general looking down upon a
      place he expects to conquer. The great metropolis lay stretched
      before me, buried under a home-made cloud of murky smoke, that
      wrapped it from the brightness of a sunny day, and formed for it
      a kind of artificial bad weather. At the outskirts of the city,
      away to the west, the smoke gradually decreased until all was
      clear and sunny, and the view stretched uninterrupted to the blue
      line of the Kentish Hills.

      My eye turned fondly to where the mighty cupola of St. Paul’s
      swelled Dimly through this misty chaos, and I pictured to myself
      the solemn realm of learning that lies about its base. How soon
      should the Pleasures of Melancholy throw this world of
      booksellers and printers into a bustle of business and delight!
      How soon should I hear my name repeated by printers’ devils
      throughout Pater Noster Row, and Angel Court, and Ave Maria Lane,
      until Amen corner should echo back the sound!

      Arrived in town, I repaired at once to the most fashionable
      publisher. Every new author patronizes him of course. In fact, it
      had been determined in the village circle that he should be the
      fortunate man. I cannot tell you how vaingloriously I walked the
      streets; my head was in the clouds. I felt the airs of heaven
      playing about it, and fancied it already encircled by a halo of
      literary glory.

      As I passed by the windows of bookshops, I anticipated the time
      when my work would be shining among the hotpressed wonders of the
      day; and my face, scratched on copper, or cut in wood, figuring
      in fellowship with those of Scott and Byron and Moore.

      When I applied at the publisher’s house there was something in
      the loftiness of my air, and the dinginess of my dress, that
      struck the clerks with reverence. They doubtless took me for some
      person of consequence, probably a digger of Greek roots, or a
      penetrator of pyramids. A proud man in a dirty shirt is always an
      imposing character in the world of letters; one must feel
      intellectually secure before he can venture to dress shabbily;
      none but a great scholar or a great genius dares to be dirty; so
      I was ushered at once to the sanctum sanctorum of this high
      priest of Minerva.

      The publishing of books is a very different affair now-a-days
      from what it was in the time of Bernard Lintot. I found the
      publisher a fashionably-dressed man, in an elegant drawing-room,
      furnished with sofas and portraits of celebrated authors, and
      cases of splendidly bound books. He was writing letters at an
      elegant table. This was transacting business in style. The place
      seemed suited to the magnificent publications that issued from
      it. I rejoiced at the choice I had made of a publisher, for I
      always liked to encourage men of taste and spirit.

      I stepped up to the table with the lofty poetical port that I had
      Been accustomed to maintain in our village circle; though I threw
      in it something of a patronizing air, such as one feels when
      about to make a man’s fortune. The publisher paused with his pen
      in his hand, and seemed waiting in mute suspense to know what was
      to be announced by so singular an apparition.

      I put him at his ease in a moment, for I felt that I had but to
      come, see, and conquer. I made known my name, and the name of my
      poem; produced my precious roll of blotted manuscript, laid it on
      the table with an emphasis, and told him at once, to save time
      and come directly to the point, the price was one thousand

      I had given him no time to speak, nor did he seem so inclined. He
      Continued looking at me for a moment with an air of whimsical
      perplexity; scanned me from head to foot; looked down at the
      manuscript, then up again at me, then pointed to a chair; and
      whistling softly to himself, went on writing his letter.

      I sat for some time waiting his reply, supposing he was making up
      his mind; but he only paused occasionally to take a fresh dip of
      ink; to stroke his chin or the tip of his nose, and then resumed
      his writing. It was evident his mind was intently occupied upon
      some other subject; but I had no idea that any other subject
      should be attended to and my poem lie unnoticed on the table. I
      had supposed that every thing would make way for the Pleasures of

      My gorge at length rose within me. I took up my manuscript;
      thrust it into my pocket, and walked out of the room: making some
      noise as I went, to let my departure be heard. The publisher,
      however, was too much busied in minor concerns to notice it. I
      was suffered to walk down-stairs without being called back. I
      sallied forth into the street, but no clerk was sent after me,
      nor did the publisher call after me from the drawing-room window.
      I have been told since, that he considered me either a madman or
      a fool. I leave you to judge how much he was in the wrong in his

      When I turned the corner my crest fell. I cooled down in my pride
      and my expectations, and reduced my terms with the next
      bookseller to whom I applied. I had no better success: nor with a
      third: nor with a fourth. I then desired the booksellers to make
      an offer themselves; but the deuce an offer would they make. They
      told me poetry was a mere drug; everybody wrote poetry; the
      market was overstocked with it. And then, they said, the title of
      my poem was not taking: that pleasures of all kinds were worn
      threadbare; nothing but horrors did now-a-days, and even these
      were almost worn out. Tales of pirates, robbers, and bloody Turks
      might answer tolerably well; but then they must come from some
      established well-known name, or the public would not look at

      At last I offered to leave my poem with a bookseller to read it
      and judge for himself. “Why, really, my dear Mr.—a—a—I forget
      your name,” said he, cutting an eye at my rusty coat and shabby
      gaiters, “really, sir, we are so pressed with business just now,
      and have so many manuscripts on hand to read, that we have not
      time to look at any new production, but if you can call again in
      a week or two, or say the middle of next month, we may be able to
      look over your writings and give you an answer. Don’t forget, the
      month after next—good morning, sir—happy to see you any time you
      are passing this way”—so saying he bowed me out in the civilest
      way imaginable. In short, sir, instead of an eager competition to
      secure my poem I could not even get it read! In the mean time I
      was harassed by letters from my friends, wanting to know when the
      work was to appear; who was to be my publisher; but above all
      things warning me not to let it go too cheap.

      There was but one alternative left. I determined to publish the
      poem myself; and to have my triumph over the booksellers, when it
      should become the fashion of the day. I accordingly published the
      Pleasures of Melancholy and ruined myself. Excepting the copies
      sent to the reviews, and to my friends in the country, not one, I
      believe, ever left the bookseller’s warehouse. The printer’s bill
      drained my purse, and the only notice that was taken of my work
      was contained in the advertisements paid for by myself.

      I could have borne all this, and have attributed it as usual to
      the mismanagement of the publisher, or the want of taste in the
      public: and could have made the usual appeal to posterity, but my
      village friends would not let me rest in quiet. They were
      picturing me to themselves feasting with the great, communing
      with the literary, and in the high course of fortune and renown.
      Every little while, some one came to me with a letter of
      introduction from the village circle, recommending him to my
      attentions, and requesting that I would make him known in
      society; with a hint that an introduction to the house of a
      celebrated literary nobleman would be extremely agreeable.

      I determined, therefore, to change my lodgings, drop my
      correspondence, and disappear altogether from the view of my
      village admirers. Besides, I was anxious to make one more poetic
      attempt. I was by no means disheartened by the failure of my
      first. My poem was evidently too didactic. The public was wise
      enough. It no longer read for instruction. “They want horrors, do
      they?” said I, “I’faith, then they shall have enough of them.” So
      I looked out for some quiet retired place, where I might be out
      of reach of my friends, and have leisure to cook up some
      delectable dish of poetical “hell-broth.”

      I had some difficulty in finding a place to my mind, when chance
      threw me in the way Of Canonbury Castle. It is an ancient brick
      tower, hard by “merry Islington;” the remains of a hunting-seat
      of Queen Elizabeth, where she took the pleasures of the country,
      when the neighborhood was all woodland. What gave it particular
      interest in my eyes, was the circumstance that it had been the
      residence of a poet. It was here Goldsmith resided when he wrote
      his Deserted Village. I was shown the very apartment. It was a
      relique of the original style of the castle, with pannelled
      wainscots and gothic windows. I was pleased with its air of
      antiquity, and with its having been the residence of poor Goldy.

      “Goldsmith was a pretty poet,” said I to myself, “a very pretty
      poet; though rather of the old school. He did not think and feel
      so strongly as is the fashion now-a-days; but had he lived in
      these times of hot hearts and hot heads, he would have written
      quite differently.”

      In a few days I was quietly established in my new quarters; my
      books all arranged, my writing desk placed by a window looking
      out into the field; and I felt as snug as Robinson Crusoe, when
      he had finished his bower. For several days I enjoyed all the
      novelty of change and the charms which grace a new lodgings
      before one has found out their defects. I rambled about the
      fields where I fancied Goldsmith had rambled. I explored merry
      Islington; ate my solitary dinner at the Black Bull, which
      according to tradition was a country seat of Sir Walter Raleigh,
      and would sit and sip my wine and muse on old times in a quaint
      old room, where many a council had been held.

      All this did very well for a few days: I was stimulated by
      novelty; inspired by the associations awakened in my mind by
      these curious haunts, and began to think I felt the spirit of
      composition stirring within me; but Sunday came, and with it the
      whole city world, swarming about Canonbury Castle. I could not
      open my window but I was stunned with shouts and noises from the
      cricket ground. The late quiet road beneath my window was alive
      with the tread of feet and clack of tongues; and to complete my
      misery, I found that my quiet retreat was absolutely a “show
      house!” the tower and its contents being shown to strangers at
      sixpence a head.

      There was a perpetual tramping up-stairs of citizens and their
      families, to look about the country from the top of the tower,
      and to take a peep at the city through the telescope, to try if
      they could discern their own chimneys. And then, in the midst of
      a vein of thought, or a moment of inspiration, I was interrupted,
      and all my ideas put to flight, by my intolerable landlady’s
      tapping at the door, and asking me, if I would “jist please to
      let a lady and gentleman come in to take a look at Mr.
      Goldsmith’s room.”

      If you know anything what an author’s study is, and what an
      author is himself, you must know that there was no standing this.
      I put a positive interdict on my room’s being exhibited; but then
      it was shown when I was absent, and my papers put in confusion;
      and on returning home one day, I absolutely found a cursed
      tradesman and his daughters gaping over my manuscripts; and my
      landlady in a panic at my appearance. I tried to make out a
      little longer by taking the key in my pocket, but it would not
      do. I overheard mine hostess one day telling some of her
      customers on the stairs that the room was occupied by an author,
      who was always in a tantrum if interrupted; and I immediately
      perceived, by a slight noise at the door, that they were peeping
      at me through the key-hole. By the head of Apollo, but this was
      quite too much! with all my eagerness for fame, and my ambition
      of the stare of the million, I had no idea of being exhibited by
      retail, at sixpence a head, and that through a key-hole. So I
      bade adieu to Canonbury Castle, merry Islington, and the haunts
      of poor Goldsmith, without having advanced a single line in my

      My next quarters were at a small white-washed cottage, which
      stands not far from Hempstead, just on the brow of a hill,
      looking over Chalk farm, and Camden town, remarkable for the
      rival houses of Mother Red Cap and Mother Black Cap; and so
      across Cruckskull common to the distant city.

      The cottage is in no wise remarkable in itself; but I regarded it
      with reverence, for it had been the asylum of a persecuted
      author. Hither poor Steele had retreated and lain perdue when
      persecuted by creditors and bailiffs; those immemorial plagues of
      authors and free-spirited gentlemen; and here he had written many
      numbers of the Spectator. It was from hence, too, that he had
      despatched those little notes to his lady, so full of affection
      and whimsicality; in which the fond husband, the careless
      gentleman, and the shifting spendthrift, were so oddly blended. I
      thought, as I first eyed the window, of his apartment, that I
      could sit within it and write volumes.

      No such thing! It was haymaking season, and, as ill luck would
      have it, immediately opposite the cottage was a little alehouse
      with the sign of the load of hay. Whether it was there in
      Steele’s time or not I cannot say; but it set all attempt at
      conception or inspiration at defiance. It was the resort of all
      the Irish haymakers who mow the broad fields in the neighborhood;
      and of drovers and teamsters who travel that road. Here would
      they gather in the endless summer twilight, or by the light of
      the harvest moon, and sit round a table at the door; and tipple,
      and laugh, and quarrel, and fight, and sing drowsy songs, and
      dawdle away the hours until the deep solemn notes of St. Paul’s
      clock would warn the varlets home.

      In the day-time I was still less able to write. It was broad
      summer. The haymakers were at work in the fields, and the perfume
      of the new-mown hay brought with it the recollection of my native
      fields. So instead of remaining in my room to write, I went
      wandering about Primrose Hill and Hempstead Heights and
      Shepherd’s Field, and all those Arcadian scenes so celebrated by
      London bards. I cannot tell you how many delicious hours I have
      passed lying on the cocks of new-mown hay, on the pleasant slopes
      of some of those hills, inhaling the fragrance of the fields,
      while the summer fly buzzed above me, or the grasshopper leaped
      into my bosom, and how I have gazed with half-shut eye upon the
      smoky mass of London, and listened to the distant sound of its
      population, and pitied the poor sons of earth toiling in its
      bowels, like Gnomes in “the dark gold mine.”

      People may say what they please about Cockney pastorals; but
      after all, there is a vast deal of rural beauty about the western
      vicinity of London; and any one that has looked down upon the
      valley of Westend, with its soft bosom of green pasturage, lying
      open to the south, and dotted with cattle; the steeple of
      Hempstead rising among rich groves on the brow of the hill, and
      the learned height of Harrow in the distance; will confess that
      never has he seen a more absolutely rural landscape in the
      vicinity of a great metropolis.

      Still, however, I found myself not a whit the better off for my
      frequent change of lodgings; and I began to discover that in
      literature, as in trade, the old proverb holds good, “a rolling
      stone gathers no moss.”

      The tranquil beauty of the country played the very vengeance with
      me. I could not mount my fancy into the termagant vein. I could
      not conceive, amidst the smiling landscape, a scene of blood and
      murder; and the smug citizens in breeches and gaiters, put all
      ideas of heroes and bandits out of my brain. I could think of
      nothing but dulcet subjects. “The pleasures of spring”—“the
      pleasures of solitude”—“the pleasures of tranquillity”—“the
      pleasures of sentiment”—nothing but pleasures; and I had the
      painful experience of “the pleasures of melancholy” too strongly
      in my recollection to be beguiled by them.

      Chance at length befriended me. I had frequently in my ramblings
      loitered about Hempstead Hill; which is a kind of Parnassus of
      the metropolis. At such times I occasionally took my dinner at
      Jack Straw’s Castle. It is a country inn so named. The very spot
      where that notorious rebel and his followers held their council
      of war. It is a favorite resort of citizens when rurally
      inclined, as it commands fine fresh air and a good view of the

      I sat one day in the public room of this inn, ruminating over a
      beefsteak and a pint of port, when my imagination kindled up with
      ancient and heroic images. I had long wanted a theme and a hero;
      both suddenly broke upon my mind; I determined to write a poem on
      the history of Jack Straw. I was so full of my subject that I was
      fearful of being anticipated. I wondered that none of the poets
      of the day, in their researches after ruffian heroes, had ever
      thought of Jack Straw. I went to work pell-mell, blotted several
      sheets of paper with choice floating thoughts, and battles, and
      descriptions, to be ready at a moment’s warning. In a few days’
      time I sketched out the skeleton of my poem, and nothing was
      wanting but to give it flesh and blood. I used to take my
      manuscript and stroll about Caen Wood, and read aloud; and would
      dine at the castle, by way of keeping up the vein of thought.

      I was taking a meal there, one day, at a rather late hour, in the
      public room. There was no other company but one man, who sat
      enjoying his pint of port at a window, and noticing the
      passers-by. He was dressed in a green shooting coat. His
      countenance was strongly marked. He had a hooked nose, a romantic
      eye, excepting that it had something of a squint; and altogether,
      as I thought, a poetical style of head. I was quite taken with
      the man, for you must know I am a little of a physiognomist: I
      set him down at once for either a poet or a philosopher.

      As I like to make new acquaintances, considering every man a
      volume of human nature, I soon fell into conversation with the
      stranger, who, I was pleased to find, was by no means difficult
      of access. After I had dined, I joined him at the window, and we
      became so sociable that I proposed a bottle of wine together; to
      which he most cheerfully assented.

      I was too full of my poem to keep long quiet on the subject, and
      began to talk about the origin of the tavern, and the history of
      Jack Straw. I found my new acquaintance to be perfectly at home
      on the topic, and to jump exactly with my humor in every respect.
      I became elevated by the wine and the conversation. In the
      fullness of an author’s feelings, I told him of my projected
      poem, and repeated some passages; and he was in raptures. He was
      evidently of a strong poetical turn.

      “Sir,” said he, filling my glass at the same time, “our poets
      don’t look at home. I don’t see why we need go out of old England
      for robbers and rebels to write about. I like your Jack Straw,
      sir. He’s a home-made hero. I like him, sir. I like him
      exceedingly. He’s English to the back bone, damme. Give me honest
      old England, after all; them’s my sentiments, sir!”

      “I honor your sentiments,” cried I zealously. “They are exactly
      my own. An English ruffian for poetry is as good a ruffian for
      poetry as any in Italy or Germany, or the Archipelago; but it is
      hard to make our poets think so.”

      “More shame for them!” replied the man in green. “What a plague
      would they have?” What have we to do with their Archipelagos of
      Italy and Germany? Haven’t we heaths and commons and high-ways on
      our own little island? Aye, and stout fellows to pad the hoof
      over them too? Come, sir, my service to you—I agree with you

      “Poets in old times had right notions on this subject,” continued
      I; “witness the fine old ballads about Robin Hood, Allen A’Dale,
      and other staunch blades of yore.”

      “Right, sir, right,” interrupted he. “Robin Hood! He was the lad
      to cry stand! to a man, and never flinch.”

      “Ah, sir,” said I, “they had famous bands of robbers in the good
      old times. Those were glorious poetical days. The merry crew of
      Sherwood Forest, who led such a roving picturesque life, ‘under
      the greenwood tree.’ I have often wished to visit their haunts,
      and tread the scenes of the exploits of Friar Tuck, and Clym of
      the Clough, and Sir William of Coudeslie.”

      “Nay, sir,” said the gentleman in green, “we have had several
      very pretty gangs since their day. Those gallant dogs that kept
      about the great heaths in the neighborhood of London; about
      Bagshot, and Hounslow, and Black Heath, for instance—come, sir,
      my service to you. You don’t drink.”

      “I suppose,” said I, emptying my glass—“I suppose you have heard
      of the famous Turpin, who was born in this very village of
      Hempstead, and who used to lurk with his gang in Epping Forest,
      about a hundred years since.”

      “Have I?” cried he—“to be sure I have! A hearty old blade that;
      sound as pitch. Old Turpentine!—as we used to call him. A famous
      fine fellow, sir.”

      “Well, sir,” continued I, “I have visited Waltham Abbey, and
      Chinkford Church, merely from the stories I heard, when a boy, of
      his exploits there, and I have searched Epping Forest for the
      cavern where he used to conceal himself. You must know,” added I,
      “that I am a sort of amateur of highwaymen. They were dashing,
      daring fellows; the last apologies that we had for the knight
      errants of yore. Ah, sir! the country has been sinking gradually
      into tameness and commonplace. We are losing the old English
      spirit. The bold knights of the post have all dwindled down into
      lurking footpads and sneaking pick-pockets. There’s no such thing
      as a dashing gentlemanlike robbery committed now-a-days on the
      king’s highway. A man may roll from one end of England to the
      other in a drowsy coach or jingling post-chaise without any other
      adventure than that of being occasionally overturned, sleeping in
      damp sheets, or having an ill-cooked dinner.

      “We hear no more of public coaches being stopped and robbed by a
      well-mounted gang of resolute fellows with pistols in their hands
      and crapes over their faces. What a pretty poetical incident was
      it for example in domestic life, for a family carriage, on its
      way to a country seat, to be attacked about dusk; the old
      gentleman eased of his purse and watch, the ladies of their
      necklaces and ear-rings, by a politely-spoken highwayman on a
      blood mare, who afterwards leaped the hedge and galloped across
      the country, to the admiration of Miss Carolina the daughter, who
      would write a long and romantic account of The adventure to her
      friend Miss Juliana in town. Ah, sir! we meet with nothing of
      such incidents now-a-days.”

      “That, sir,”—said my companion, taking advantage of a pause, when
      I stopped to recover breath and to take a glass of wine, which he
      had just poured out—“that, sir, craving your pardon, is not owing
      to any want of old English pluck. It is the effect of this cursed
      system of banking. People do not travel with bags of gold as they
      did formerly. They have post notes and drafts on bankers. To rob
      a coach is like catching a crow; where you have nothing but
      carrion flesh and feathers for your pains. But a coach in old
      times, sir, was as rich as a Spanish galleon. It turned out the
      yellow boys bravely; and a private carriage was a cool hundred or
      two at least.”

      I cannot express how much I was delighted with the sallies of my
      new acquaintance. He told me that he often frequented the castle,
      and would be glad to know more of me; and I promised myself many
      a pleasant afternoon with him, when I should read him my poem, as
      it proceeded, and benefit by his remarks; for it was evident he
      had the true poetical feeling.

      “Come, sir!” said he, pushing the bottle, “Damme, I like
      you!—You’re a man after my own heart; I’m cursed slow in making
      new acquaintances in general. One must stand on the reserve, you
      know. But when I meet with a man of your kidney, damme my heart
      jumps at once to him. Them’s my sentiments, sir. Come, sir,
      here’s Jack Straw’s health! I presume one can drink it now-a-days
      without treason!”

      “With all my heart,” said I gayly, “and Dick Turpin’s into the

      “Ah, sir,” said the man in green, “those are the kind of men for
      poetry. The Newgate kalendar, sir! the Newgate kalendar is your
      only reading! There’s the place to look for bold deeds and
      dashing fellows.”

      We were so much pleased with each other that we sat until a late
      hour. I insisted on paying the bill, for both my purse and my
      heart were full; and I agreed that he should pay the score at our
      next meeting. As the coaches had all gone that run between
      Hempstead and London he had to return on foot, He was so
      delighted with the idea of my poem that he could talk of nothing
      else. He made me repeat such passages as I could remember, and
      though I did it in a very mangled manner, having a wretched
      memory, yet he was in raptures.

      Every now and then he would break out with some scrap which he
      would Misquote most terribly, but would rub his hands and
      exclaim, “By Jupiter, that’s fine! that’s noble! Damme, sir, if I
      can conceive how you hit upon such ideas!”

      I must confess I did not always relish his misquotations, which
      sometimes made absolute nonsense of the passages; but what author
      stands upon trifles when he is praised? Never had I spent a more
      delightful evening. I did not perceive how the time flew. I could
      not bear to separate, but continued walking on, arm in arm with
      him past my lodgings, through Camden town, and across Crackscull
      Common, talking the whole way about my poem.

      When we were half-way across the common he interrupted me in the
      midst of a quotation by telling me that this had been a famous
      place for footpads, and was still occasionally infested by them;
      and that a man had recently been shot there in attempting to
      defend himself.

      “The more fool he!” cried I. “A man is an idiot to risk life, or
      even limb, to save a paltry purse of money. It’s quite a
      different case from that of a duel, where one’s honor is
      concerned. For my part,” added I, “I should never think of making
      resistance against one of those desperadoes.”

      “Say you so?” cried my friend in green, turning suddenly upon me,
      and putting a pistol to my breast, “Why, then have at you, my
      lad!—come, disburse! empty! unsack!”

      In a word, I found that the muse had played me another of her
      tricks, and had betrayed me into the hands of a footpad. There
      was no time to parley; he made me turn my pockets inside out; and
      hearing the sound of distant footsteps, he made one fell swoop
      upon purse, watch, and all, gave me a thwack over my unlucky pate
      that laid me sprawling on the ground; and scampered away with his

      I saw no more of my friend in green until a year or two
      afterwards; when I caught a sight of his poetical countenance
      among a crew of scapegraces, heavily ironed, who were on the way
      for transportation. He recognized me at once, tipped me an
      impudent wink, and asked me how I came on with the history of
      Jack Straw’s castle.

      The catastrophe at Crackscull Common put an end to my summer’s
      campaign. I was cured of my poetical enthusiasm for rebels,
      robbers, and highwaymen. I was put out of conceit of my subject,
      and what was worse, I was lightened of my purse, in which was
      almost every farthing I had in the world. So I abandoned Sir
      Richard Steele’s cottage in despair, and crept into less
      celebrated, though no less poetical and airy lodgings in a garret
      in town.

      I see you are growing weary, so I will not detain you with any
      more of my luckless attempts to get astride of Pegasus. Still I
      could not consent to give up the trial and abandon those dreams
      of renown in which I had indulged. How should I ever be able to
      look the literary circle of my native village in the face, if I
      were so completely to falsify their predictions. For some time
      longer, therefore, I continued to write for fame, and of course
      was the most miserable dog in existence, besides being in
      continual risk of starvation.

      I have many a time strolled sorrowfully along, with a sad heart
      and an empty stomach, about five o’clock, and looked wistfully
      down the areas in the west end of the town; and seen through the
      kitchen windows the fires gleaming, and the joints of meat
      turning on the spits and dripping with gravy; and the cook maids
      beating up puddings, or trussing turkeys, and have felt for the
      moment that if I could but have the run of one of those kitchens,
      Apollo and the muses might have the hungry heights of Parnassus
      for me. Oh, sir! talk of meditations among the tombs—they are
      nothing so melancholy as the meditations of a poor devil without
      penny in pouch, along a line of kitchen windows towards

      At length, when almost reduced to famine and despair, the idea
      all at once entered my head, that perhaps I was not so clever a
      fellow as the village and myself had supposed. It was the
      salvation of me. The moment the idea popped into my brain, it
      brought conviction and comfort with it. I awoke as from a dream.
      I gave up immortal fame to those who could live on air; took to
      writing for mere bread, and have ever since led a very tolerable
      life of it. There is no man of letters so much at his ease, sir,
      as he that has no character to gain or lose. I had to train
      myself to it a little, however, and to clip my wings short at
      first, or they would have carried me up into poetry in spite of
      myself. So I determined to begin by the opposite extreme, and
      abandoning the higher regions of the craft, I came plump down to
      the lowest, and turned creeper.

      “Creeper,” interrupted I, “and pray what is that?” Oh, sir! I see
      you are ignorant of the language of the craft; a creeper is one
      who furnishes the newspapers with paragraphs at so much a line,
      one that goes about in quest of misfortunes; attends the
      Bow-street office; the courts of justice and every other den of
      mischief and iniquity. We are paid at the rate of a penny a line,
      and as we can sell the same paragraph to almost every paper, we
      sometimes pick up a very decent day’s work. Now and then the muse
      is unkind, or the day uncommonly quiet, and then we rather
      starve; and sometimes the unconscionable editors will clip our
      paragraphs when they are a little too rhetorical, and snip off
      twopence or threepence at a go. I have many a time had my pot of
      porter snipped off of my dinner in this way; and have had to dine
      with dry lips. However, I cannot complain. I rose gradually in
      the lower ranks of the craft, and am now, I think, in the most
      comfortable region of literature.

      “And pray,” said I, “what may you be at present!” “At present,”
      said he, “I am a regular job writer, and turn my hand to
      anything. I work up the writings of others at so much a sheet;
      turn off translations; write second-rate articles to fill up
      reviews and magazines; compile travels and voyages, and furnish
      theatrical criticisms for the newspapers. All this authorship,
      you perceive, is anonymous; it gives no reputation, except among
      the trade, where I am considered an author of all work, and am
      always sure of employ. That’s the only reputation I want. I sleep
      soundly, without dread of duns or critics, and leave immortal
      fame to those that choose to fret and fight about it. Take my
      word for it, the only happy author in this world is he who is
      below the care of reputation.”

      The preceding anecdotes of Buckthorne’s early schoolmate, and a
      variety of peculiarities which I had remarked in himself, gave me
      a strong curiosity to know something of his own history. There
      was a dash of careless good humor about him that pleased me
      exceedingly, and at times a whimsical tinge of melancholy ran
      through his humor that gave it an additional relish. He had
      evidently been a little chilled and buffeted by fortune, without
      being soured thereby, as some fruits become mellower and sweeter,
      from having been bruised or frost-bitten. He smiled when I
      expressed my desire. “I have no great story,” said he, “to
      relate. A mere tissue of errors and follies. But, such as it is,
      you shall have one epoch of it, by which you may judge of the
      rest.” And so, without any farther prelude, he gave me the
      following anecdotes of his early adventures.


      I was born to very little property, but to great expectations;
      which is perhaps one of the most unlucky fortunes that a man can
      be born to. My father was a country gentleman, the last of a very
      ancient and honorable, but decayed family, and resided in an old
      hunting lodge in Warwickshire. He was a keen sportsman and lived
      to the extent of his moderate income, so that I had little to
      expect from that quarter; but then I had a rich uncle by the
      mother’s side, a penurious, accumulating curmudgeon, who it was
      confidently expected would make me his heir; because he was an
      old bachelor; because I was named after him, and because he hated
      all the world except myself.

      He was, in fact, an inveterate hater, a miser even in
      misanthropy, and hoarded up a grudge as he did a guinea. Thus,
      though my mother was an only sister, he had never forgiven her
      marriage with my father, against whom he had a cold, still,
      immovable pique, which had lain at the bottom of his heart, like
      a stone in a well, ever since they had been school boys together.
      My mother, however, considered me as the intermediate being that
      was to bring every thing again into harmony, for she looked upon
      me as a prodigy—God bless her. My heart overflows whenever I
      recall her tenderness: she was the most excellent, the most
      indulgent of mothers. I was her only child; it was a pity she had
      no more, for she had fondness of heart enough to have spoiled a

      I was sent, at an early age, to a public school, sorely against
      my mother’s wishes, but my father insisted that it was the only
      way to make boys hardy. The school was kept by a conscientious
      prig of the ancient system, who did his duty by the boys
      intrusted to his care; that is to say, we were flogged soundly
      when we did not get our lessons. We were put into classes and
      thus flogged on in droves along the highways of knowledge, in the
      same manner as cattle are driven to market, where those that are
      heavy in gait or short in leg have to suffer for the superior
      alertness or longer limbs of their companions.

      For my part, I confess it with shame, I was an incorrigible
      laggard. I have always had the poetical feeling, that is to say,
      I have always been an idle fellow and prone to play the vagabond.
      I used to get away from my books and school whenever I could, and
      ramble about the fields. I was surrounded by seductions for such
      a temperament. The school-house was an old-fashioned,
      white-washed mansion of wood and plaister, standing on the skirts
      of a beautiful village. Close by it was the venerable church with
      a tall Gothic spire. Before it spread a lovely green valley, with
      a little stream glistening along through willow groves; while a
      line of blue hills that bounded the landscape gave rise to many a
      summer day dream as to the fairy land that lay beyond.

      In spite of all the scourgings I suffered at that school to make
      me love my book, I cannot but look back upon the place with
      fondness. Indeed, I considered this frequent flagellation as the
      common lot of humanity, and the regular mode in which scholars
      were made. My kind mother used to lament over my details of the
      sore trials I underwent in the cause of learning; but my father
      turned a deaf ear to her expostulations. He had been flogged
      through school himself, and swore there was no other way of
      making a man of parts; though, let me speak it with all due
      reverence, my father was but an indifferent illustration of his
      own theory, for he was considered a grievous blockhead.

      My poetical temperament evinced itself at a very early period.
      The Village church was attended every Sunday by a neighboring
      squire—the lord of the manor, whose park stretched quite to the
      village, and whose spacious country seat seemed to take the
      church under its protection. Indeed, you would have thought the
      church had been consecrated to him instead of to the Deity. The
      parish clerk bowed low before him, and the vergers humbled
      themselves into the dust in his presence. He always entered a
      little late and with some stir, striking his cane emphatically on
      the ground; swaying his hat in his hand, and looking loftily to
      the right and left, as he walked slowly up the aisle, and the
      parson, who always ate his Sunday dinner with him, never
      commenced service until he appeared. He sat with his family in a
      large pew gorgeously lined, humbling himself devoutly on velvet
      cushions, and reading lessons of meekness and lowliness of spirit
      out of splendid gold and morocco prayer-books. Whenever the
      parson spoke of the difficulty of the rich man’s entering the
      kingdom of heaven, the eyes of the congregation would turn
      towards the “grand pew,” and I thought the squire seemed pleased
      with the application.

      The pomp of this pew and the aristocratical air of the family
      struck My imagination wonderfully, and I fell desperately in love
      with a little daughter of the squire’s about twelve years of age.
      This freak of fancy made me more truant from my studies than
      ever. I used to stroll about the squire’s park, and would lurk
      near the house to catch glimpses of this little damsel at the
      windows, or playing about the lawns, or walking out with her

      I had not enterprise or impudence enough to venture from my
      concealment; indeed, I felt like an arrant poacher, until I read
      one or two of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, when I pictured myself as
      some sylvan deity, and she a coy wood nymph of whom I was in
      pursuit. There is something extremely delicious in these early
      awakenings of the tender passion. I can feel, even at this
      moment, the thrilling of my boyish bosom, whenever by chance I
      caught a glimpse of her white frock fluttering among the
      shrubbery. I now began to read poetry. I carried about in my
      bosom a volume of Waller, which I had purloined from my mother’s
      library; and I applied to my little fair one all the compliments
      lavished upon Sacharissa.

      At length I danced with her at a school ball. I was so awkward a
      booby, that I dared scarcely speak to her; I was filled with awe
      and embarrassment in her presence; but I was so inspired that my
      poetical temperament for the first time broke out in verse; and I
      fabricated some glowing lines, in which I be-rhymed the little
      lady under the favorite name of Sacharissa. I slipped the verses,
      trembling and blushing, into her hand the next Sunday as she came
      out of church. The little prude handed them to her mamma; the
      mamma handed them to the squire, the squire, who had no soul for
      poetry, sent them in dudgeon to the school-master; and the
      school-master, with a barbarity worthy of the dark ages, gave me
      a sound and peculiarly humiliating flogging for thus trespassing
      upon Parnassus.

      This was a sad outset for a votary of the muse. It ought to have
      cured me of my passion for poetry; but it only confirmed it, for
      I felt the spirit of a martyr rising within me. What was as well,
      perhaps, it cured me of my passion for the young lady; for I felt
      so indignant at the ignominious horsing I had incurred in
      celebrating her charms, that I could not hold up my head in

      Fortunately for my wounded sensibility, the midsummer holydays
      came on, and I returned home. My mother, as usual, inquired into
      all my school concerns, my little pleasures, and cares, and
      sorrows; for boyhood has its share of the one as well as of the
      others. I told her all, and she was indignant at the treatment I
      had experienced. She fired up at the arrogance of the squire, and
      the prudery of the daughter; and as to the school-master, she
      wondered where was the use of having school-masters, and why boys
      could not remain at home and be educated by tutors, under the eye
      of their mothers. She asked to see the verses I had written, and
      she was delighted with them; for to confess the truth, she had a
      pretty taste in poetry. She even showed to them to the parson’s
      wife, who protested they were charming, and the parson’s three
      daughters insisted on each having a copy of them.

      All this was exceedingly balsamic, and I was still more consoled
      and encouraged, when the young ladies, who were the
      blue-stockings of the neighborhood, and had read Dr. Johnson’s
      lives quite through, assured my mother that great geniuses never
      studied, but were always idle; upon which I began to surmise that
      I was myself something out of the common run. My father, however,
      was of a very different opinion, for when my mother, in the pride
      of her heart, showed him my copy of verses, he threw them out of
      the window, asking her “if she meant to make a ballad monger of
      the boy.” But he was a careless, common-thinking man, and I
      cannot say that I ever loved him much; my mother absorbed all my
      filial affection.

      I used occasionally, during holydays, to be sent on short visits
      to the uncle, who was to make me his heir; they thought it would
      keep me in his mind, and render him fond of me. He was a
      withered, anxious-looking old fellow, and lived in a desolate old
      country seat, which he suffered to go to ruin from absolute
      niggardliness. He kept but one man-servant, who had lived, or
      rather starved, with him for years. No woman was allowed to sleep
      in the house. A daughter of the old servant lived by the gate, in
      what had been a porter’s lodge, and was permitted to come into
      the house about an hour each day, to make the beds, and cook a
      morsel of provisions.

      The park that surrounded the house was all run wild; the trees
      grown out of shape; the fish-ponds stagnant; the urns and statues
      fallen from their pedestals and buried among the rank grass. The
      hares and pheasants were so little molested, except by poachers,
      that they bred in great abundance, and sported about the rough
      lawns and weedy avenues. To guard the premises and frighten off
      robbers, of whom he was somewhat apprehensive, and visitors, whom
      he held in almost equal awe, my uncle kept two or three
      blood-hounds, who were always prowling round the house, and were
      the dread of the neighboring peasantry. They were gaunt and
      half-starved, seemed ready to devour one from mere hunger, and
      were an effectual check on any stranger’s approach to this wizard

      Such was my uncle’s house, which I used to visit now and then
      during The holydays. I was, as I have before said, the old man’s
      favorite; that is to say, he did not hate me so much as he did
      the rest of the world. I had been apprised of his character, and
      cautioned to cultivate his good-will; but I was too young and
      careless to be a courtier; and indeed have never been
      sufficiently studious of my interests to let them govern my
      feelings. However, we seemed to jog on very well together; and as
      my visits cost him almost nothing, they did not seem to be very
      unwelcome. I brought with me my gun and fishing-rod, and half
      supplied the table from the park and the fishponds.

      Our meals were solitary and unsocial. My uncle rarely spoke; he
      pointed for whatever he wanted, and the servant perfectly
      understood him. Indeed, his man John, or Iron John, as he was
      called in the neighborhood, was a counterpart of his master. He
      was a tall, bony old fellow, with a dry wig that seemed made of
      cow’s tail, and a face as tough as though it had been made of
      bull’s hide. He was generally clad in a long, patched livery
      coat, taken out of the wardrobe of the house; and which bagged
      loosely about him, having evidently belonged to some corpulent
      predecessor, in the more plenteous days of the mansion. From long
      habits of taciturnity, the hinges of his jaws seemed to have
      grown absolutely rusty, and it cost him as much effort to set
      them ajar, and to let out a tolerable sentence, as it would have
      done to set open the iron gates of a park, and let out the family
      carriage that was dropping to pieces in the coach-house.

      I cannot say, however, but that I was for some time amused with
      my uncle’s peculiarities. Even the very desolateness of the
      establishment had something in it that hit my fancy. When the
      weather was fine I used to amuse myself, in a solitary way, by
      rambling about the park, and coursing like a colt across its
      lawns. The hares and pheasants seemed to stare with surprise, to
      see a human being walking these forbidden grounds by day-light.
      Sometimes I amused myself by jerking stones, or shooting at birds
      with a bow and arrows; for to have used a gun would have been
      treason. Now and then my path was crossed by a little red-headed,
      ragged-tailed urchin, the son of the woman at the lodge, who ran
      wild about the premises. I tried to draw him into familiarity,
      and to make a companion of him; but he seemed to have imbibed the
      strange, unsocial character of every thing around him; and always
      kept aloof; so I considered him as another Orson, and amused
      myself with shooting at him with my bow and arrows, and he would
      hold up his breeches with one hand, and scamper away like a deer.

      There was something in all this loneliness and wildness strangely
      pleasing to me. The great stables, empty and weather-broken, with
      the names of favorite horses over the vacant stalls; the windows
      bricked and boarded up; the broken roofs, garrisoned by rooks and
      jackdaws; all had a singularly forlorn appearance: one would have
      concluded the house to be totally uninhabited, were it not for a
      little thread of blue smoke, which now and then curled up like a
      corkscrew, from the centre of one of the wide chimneys, when my
      uncle’s starveling meal was cooking.

      My uncle’s room was in a remote corner of the building, strongly
      secured and generally locked. I was never admitted into this
      strong-hold, where the old man would remain for the greater part
      of the time, drawn up like a veteran spider in the citadel of his
      web. The rest of the mansion, however, was open to me, and I
      sauntered about it unconstrained. The damp and rain which beat in
      through the broken windows, crumbled the paper from the walls;
      mouldered the pictures, and gradually destroyed the furniture. I
      loved to rove about the wide, waste chambers in bad weather, and
      listen to the howling of the wind, and the banging about of the
      doors and window-shutters. I pleased myself with the idea how
      completely, when I came to the estate, I would renovate all
      things, and make the old building ring with merriment, till it
      was astonished at its own jocundity.

      The chamber which I occupied on these visits was the same that
      had been my mother’s, when a girl. There was still the
      toilet-table of her own adorning; the landscapes of her own
      drawing. She had never seen it since her marriage, but would
      often ask me if every thing was still the same. All was just the
      same; for I loved that chamber on her account, and had taken
      pains to put every thing in order, and to mend all the flaws in
      the windows with my own hands. I anticipated the time when I
      should once more welcome her to the house of her fathers, and
      restore her to this little nestling-place of her childhood.

      At length my evil genius, or, what perhaps is the same thing, the
      muse, inspired me with the notion of rhyming again. My uncle, who
      never went to church, used on Sundays to read chapters out of the
      Bible; and Iron John, the woman from the lodge, and myself, were
      his congregation. It seemed to be all one to him what he read, so
      long as it was something from the Bible: sometimes, therefore, it
      would be the Song of Solomon; and this withered anatomy would
      read about being “stayed with flagons and comforted with apples,
      for he was sick of love.” Sometimes he would hobble, with
      spectacle on nose, through whole chapters of hard Hebrew names in
      Deuteronomy; at which the poor woman would sigh and groan as if
      wonderfully moved. His favorite book, however, was “The Pilgrim’s
      Progress;” and when he came to that part which treats of Doubting
      Castle and Giant Despair, I thought invariably of him and his
      desolate old country seat. So much did the idea amuse me, that I
      took to scribbling about it under the trees in the park; and in a
      few days had made some progress in a poem, in which I had given a
      description of the place, under the name of Doubting Castle, and
      personified my uncle as Giant Despair.

      I lost my poem somewhere about the house, and I soon suspected
      that my uncle had found it; as he harshly intimated to me that I
      could return home, and that I need not come and see him again
      until he should send for me.

      Just about this time my mother died.—I cannot dwell upon this
      circumstance; my heart, careless and wayworn as it is, gushes
      with the recollection. Her death was an event that perhaps gave a
      turn to all my after fortunes. With her died all that made home
      attractive, for my father was harsh, as I have before said, and
      had never treated me with kindness. Not that he exerted any
      unusual severity towards me, but it was his way. I do not
      complain of him. In fact, I have never been of a complaining
      disposition. I seem born to be buffeted by friends and fortune,
      and nature has made me a careless endurer of buffetings.

      I now, however, began to grow very impatient of remaining at
      school, to be flogged for things that I did not like. I longed
      for variety, especially now that I had not my uncle’s to resort
      to, by way of diversifying the dullness of school with the
      dreariness of his country seat. I was now turned of sixteen; tall
      for my age, and full of idle fancies. I had a roving,
      inextinguishable desire to see different kinds of life, and
      different orders of society; and this vagrant humor had been
      fostered in me by Tom Dribble, the prime wag and great genius of
      the school, who had all the rambling propensities of a poet.

      I used to set at my desk in the school, on a fine summer’s day,
      and instead of studying the book which lay open before me, my eye
      was gazing through the window on the green fields and blue hills.
      How I envied the happy groups seated on the tops of
      stage-coaches, chatting, and joking, and laughing, as they were
      whirled by the school-house, on their way to the metropolis. Even
      the wagoners trudging along beside their ponderous teams, and
      traversing the kingdom, from one end to the other, were objects
      of envy to me. I fancied to myself what adventures they must
      experience, and what odd scenes of life they must witness. All
      this was doubtless the poetical temperament working within me,
      and tempting me forth into a world of its own creation, which I
      mistook for the world of real life.

      While my mother lived, this strange propensity to roam was
      counteracted by the stronger attractions of home, and by the
      powerful ties of affection, which drew me to her side; but now
      that she was gone, the attractions had ceased; the ties were
      severed. I had no longer an anchorage ground for my heart; but
      was at the mercy of every vagrant impulse. Nothing but the narrow
      allowance on which my father kept me, and the consequent penury
      of my purse, prevented me from mounting the top of a stage-coach
      and launching myself adrift on the great ocean of life.

      Just about this time the village was agitated for a day or two,
      by the passing through of several caravans, containing wild
      beasts, and other spectacles for a great fair annually held at a
      neighboring town.

      I had never seen a fair of any consequence, and my curiosity was
      Powerfully awakened by this bustle of preparation. I gazed with
      respect and wonder at the vagrant personages who accompanied
      these caravans. I loitered about the village inn, listening with
      curiosity and delight to the slang talk and cant jokes of the
      showmen and their followers; and I felt an eager desire to
      witness this fair, which my fancy decked out as something
      wonderfully fine.

      A holyday afternoon presented, when I could be absent from the
      school from noon until evening. A wagon was going from the
      village to the fair. I could not resist the temptation, nor the
      eloquence of Tom Dribble, who was a truant to the very heart’s
      core. We hired seats, and set off full of boyish expectation. I
      promised myself that I would but take a peep at the land of
      promise, and hasten back again before my absence should be

      Heavens! how happy I was on arriving at the fair! How I was
      enchanted with the world of fun and pageantry around me! The
      humors of Punch; the feats of the equestrians; the magical tricks
      of the conjurors! But what principally caught my attention was—an
      itinerant theatre; where a tragedy, pantomime, and farce were all
      acted in the course of half an hour, and more of the dramatis
      personae murdered, than at either Drury Lane or Covent Garden in
      a whole evening. I have since seen many a play performed by the
      best actors in the world, but never have I derived half the
      delight from any that I did from this first representation.

      There was a ferocious tyrant in a skull cap like an inverted
      porringer, and a dress of red baize, magnificently embroidered
      with gilt leather; with his face so be-whiskered and his eyebrows
      so knit and expanded with burnt cork, that he made my heart quake
      within me as he stamped about the little stage. I was enraptured
      too with the surpassing beauty of a distressed damsel, in faded
      pink silk, and dirty white muslin, whom he held in cruel
      captivity by way of gaining her affections; and who wept and
      wrung her hands and flourished a ragged pocket handkerchief from
      the top of an impregnable tower, of the size of a band-box.

      Even after I had come out from the play, I could not tear myself
      from the vicinity of the theatre; but lingered, gazing, and
      wondering, and laughing at the dramatis personae, as they
      performed their antics, or danced upon a stage in front of the
      booth, to decoy a new set of spectators.

      I was so bewildered by the scene, and so lost in the crowd of
      sensations that kept swarming upon me that I was like one
      entranced. I lost my companion Tom Dribble, in a tumult and
      scuffle that took place near one of the shows, but I was too much
      occupied in mind to think long about him. I strolled about until
      dark, when the fair was lighted up, and a new scene of magic
      opened upon me. The illumination of the tents and booths; the
      brilliant effect of the stages decorated with lamps, with
      dramatic groups flaunting about them in gaudy dresses, contrasted
      splendidly with the surrounding darkness; while the uproar of
      drums, trumpets, fiddles, hautboys, and cymbals, mingled with the
      harangues of the showmen, the squeaking of Punch, and the shouts
      and laughter of the crowd, all united to complete my giddy

      Time flew without my perceiving it. When I came to myself and
      thought of the school, I hastened to return. I inquired for the
      wagon in which I had come: it had been gone for hours. I asked
      the time: it was almost midnight! A sudden quaking seized me. How
      was I to get back to school? I was too weary to make the journey
      on foot, and I knew not where to apply for a conveyance. Even if
      I should find one, could I venture to disturb the school-house
      long after midnight? to arouse that sleeping lion, the usher, in
      the very midst of his night’s rest? The idea was too dreadful for
      a delinquent school-boy. All the horrors of return rushed upon
      me—my absence must long before this have been remarked—and absent
      for a whole night? A deed of darkness not easily to be expiated.
      The rod of the pedagogue budded forth into tenfold terrors before
      my affrighted fancy. I pictured to myself punishment and
      humiliation in every variety of form; and my heart sickened at
      the picture. Alas! how often are the petty ills of boyhood as
      painful to our tender natures, as are the sterner evils of
      manhood to our robuster minds.

      I wandered about among the booths, and I might have derived a
      lesson from my actual feelings, how much the charms of this world
      depend upon ourselves; for I no longer saw anything gay or
      delightful in the revelry around me. At length I lay down,
      wearied and perplexed, behind one of the large tents, and
      covering myself with the margin of the tent cloth to keep off the
      night chill, I soon fell fast asleep.

      I had not slept long, when I was awakened by the noise of
      merriment within an adjoining booth. It was the itinerant
      theatre, rudely constructed of boards and canvas. I peeped
      through an aperture, and saw the whole dramatis personae,
      tragedy, comedy, pantomime, all refreshing themselves after the
      final dismissal of their auditors. They were merry and gamesome,
      and made their flimsy theatre ring with laughter. I was
      astonished to see the tragedy tyrant in red baize and fierce
      whiskers, who had made my heart quake as he strutted about the
      boards, now transformed into a fat, good humored fellow; the
      beaming porringer laid aside from his brow, and his jolly face
      washed from all the terrors of burnt cork. I was delighted, too,
      to see the distressed damsel in faded silk and dirty muslin, who
      had trembled under his tyranny, and afflicted me so much by her
      sorrows, now seated familiarly on his knee, and quaffing from the
      same tankard. Harlequin lay asleep on one of the benches; and
      monks, satyrs, and Vestal virgins were grouped together, laughing
      outrageously at a broad story told by an unhappy count, who had
      been barbarously murdered in the tragedy. This was, indeed,
      novelty to me. It was a peep into another planet. I gazed and
      listened with intense curiosity and enjoyment. They had a
      thousand odd stories and jokes about the events of the day, and
      burlesque descriptions and mimickings of the spectators who had
      been admiring them. Their conversation was full of allusions to
      their adventures at different places, where they had exhibited;
      the characters they had met with in different villages; and the
      ludicrous difficulties in which they had occasionally been
      involved. All past cares and troubles were now turned by these
      thoughtless beings into matter of merriment; and made to
      contribute to the gayety of the moment. They had been moving from
      fair to fair about the kingdom, and were the next morning to set
      out on their way to London.

      My resolution was taken. I crept from my nest, and scrambled
      through a hedge into a neighboring field, where I went to work to
      make a tatterdemalion of myself. I tore my clothes; soiled them
      with dirt; begrimed my face and hands; and, crawling near one of
      the booths, purloined an old hat, and left my new one in its
      place. It was an honest theft, and I hope may not hereafter rise
      up in judgment against me.

      I now ventured to the scene of merrymaking, and, presenting
      myself before the dramatic corps, offered myself as a volunteer.
      I felt terribly agitated and abashed, for “never before stood I
      in such a presence.” I had addressed myself to the manager of the
      company. He was a fat man, dressed in dirty white; with a red
      sash fringed with tinsel, swathed round his body. His face was
      smeared with paint, and a majestic plume towered from an old
      spangled black bonnet. He was the Jupiter tonans of this Olympus,
      and was surrounded by the interior gods and goddesses of his
      court. He sat on the end of a bench, by a table, with one arm
      akimbo and the other extended to the handle of a tankard, which
      he had slowly set down from his lips as he surveyed me from head
      to foot. It was a moment of awful scrutiny, and I fancied the
      groups around all watching us in silent suspense, and waiting for
      the imperial nod.

      He questioned me as to who I was; what were my qualifications;
      and what terms I expected. I passed myself off for a discharged
      servant from a gentleman’s family; and as, happily, one does not
      require a special recommendation to get admitted into bad
      company, the questions on that head were easily satisfied. As to
      my accomplishments, I would spout a little poetry, and knew
      several scenes of plays, which I had learnt at school
      exhibitions. I could dance—, that was enough; no further
      questions were asked me as to accomplishments; it was the very
      thing they wanted; and, as I asked no wages, but merely meat and
      drink, and safe conduct about the world, a bargain was struck in
      a moment.

      Behold me, therefore transformed of a sudden from a gentleman
      student to a dancing buffoon; for such, in fact, was the
      character in which I made my debut. I was one of those who formed
      the groups in the dramas, and were principally, employed on the
      stage in front of the booth, to attract company. I was equipped
      as a satyr, in a dress of drab frize that fitted to my shape;
      with a great laughing mask, ornamented with huge ears and short
      horns. I was pleased with the disguise, because it kept me from
      the danger of being discovered, whilst we were in that part of
      the country; and, as I had merely to dance and make antics, the
      character was favorable to a debutant, being almost on a par with
      Simon Snug’s part of the Lion, which required nothing but

      I cannot tell you how happy I was at this sudden change in my
      situation. I felt no degradation, for I had seen too little of
      society to be thoughtful about the differences of rank; and a boy
      of sixteen is seldom aristocratical. I had given up no friend;
      for there seemed to be no one in the world that cared for me, now
      my poor mother was dead. I had given up no pleasure; for my
      pleasure was to ramble about and indulge the flow of a poetical
      imagination; and I now enjoyed it in perfection. There is no life
      so truly poetical as that of a dancing buffoon.

      It may be said that all this argued grovelling inclinations. I do
      not think so; not that I mean to vindicate myself in any great
      degree; I know too well what a whimsical compound I am. But in
      this instance I was seduced by no love of low company, nor
      disposition to indulge in low vices. I have always despised the
      brutally vulgar; and I have always had a disgust at vice, whether
      in high or low life. I was governed merely by a sudden and
      thoughtless impulse. I had no idea of resorting to this
      profession as a mode of life; or of attaching myself to these
      people, as my future class of society. I thought merely of a
      temporary gratification of my curiosity, and an indulgence of my
      humors. I had already a strong relish for the peculiarities of
      character and the varieties of situation, and I have always been
      fond of the comedy of life, and desirous of seeing it through all
      its shifting scenes.

      In mingling, therefore, among mountebanks and buffoons I was
      protected by the very vivacity of imagination which had led me
      among them. I moved about enveloped, as it were, in a protecting
      delusion, which my fancy spread around me. I assimilated to these
      people only as they struck me poetically; their whimsical ways
      and a certain picturesqueness in their mode of life entertained
      me; but I was neither amused nor corrupted by their vices. In
      short, I mingled among them, as Prince Hal did among his
      graceless associates, merely to gratify my humor.

      I did not investigate my motives in this manner, at the time, for
      I was too careless and thoughtless to reason about the matter;
      but I do so now, when I look back with trembling to think of the
      ordeal to which I unthinkingly exposed myself, and the manner in
      which I passed through it. Nothing, I am convinced, but the
      poetical temperament, that hurried me into the scrape, brought me
      out of it without my becoming an arrant vagabond.

      Full of the enjoyment of the moment, giddy with the wildness of
      animal spirits, so rapturous in a boy, I capered, I danced, I
      played a thousand fantastic tricks about the stage, in the
      villages in which we exhibited; and I was universally pronounced
      the most agreeable monster that had ever been seen in those
      parts. My disappearance from school had awakened my father’s
      anxiety; for I one day heard a description of myself cried before
      the very booth in which I was exhibiting; with the offer of a
      reward for any intelligence of me. I had no great scruple about
      letting my father suffer a little uneasiness on my account; it
      would punish him for past indifference, and would make him value
      me the more when he found me again. I have wondered that some of
      my comrades did not recognize in me the stray sheep that was
      cried; but they were all, no doubt, occupied by their own
      concerns. They were all laboring seriously in their antic
      vocations, for folly was a mere trade with the most of them, and
      they often grinned and capered with heavy hearts. With me, on the
      contrary, it was all real. I acted _con amore_, and rattled and
      laughed from the irrepressible gayety of my spirits. It is true
      that, now and then, I started and looked grave on receiving a
      sudden thwack from the wooden sword of Harlequin, in the course
      of my gambols; as it brought to mind the birch of my
      school-master. But I soon got accustomed to it; and bore all the
      cuffing, and kicking, and tumbling about, that form the practical
      wit of your itinerant pantomime, with a good humor that made me a
      prodigious favorite.

      The country campaign of the troupe was soon at an end, and we set
      off for the metropolis, to perform at the fairs which are held in
      its vicinity. The greater part of our theatrical property was
      sent on direct, to be in a state of preparation for the opening
      of the fairs; while a detachment of the company travelled slowly
      on, foraging among the villages. I was amused with the desultory,
      hap-hazard kind of life we led; here to-day, and gone to-morrow.
      Sometimes revelling in ale-houses; sometimes feasting under
      hedges in the green fields. When audiences were crowded and
      business profitable, we fared well, and when otherwise, we fared
      scantily, and consoled ourselves with anticipations of the next
      day’s success.

      At length the increasing frequency of coaches hurrying past us,
      covered with passengers; the increasing number of carriages,
      carts, wagons, gigs, droves of cattle and flocks of sheep, all
      thronging the road; the snug country boxes with trim flower
      gardens twelve feet square, and their trees twelve feet high, all
      powdered with dust; and the innumerable seminaries for young
      ladies and gentlemen, situated along the road, for the benefit of
      country air and rural retirement; all these insignia announced
      that the mighty London was at hand. The hurry, and the crowd, and
      the bustle, and the noise, and the dust, increased as we
      proceeded, until I saw the great cloud of smoke hanging in the
      air, like a canopy of state, over this queen of cities.

      In this way, then, did I enter the metropolis; a strolling
      vagabond; on the top of a caravan with a crew of vagabonds about
      me; but I was as happy as a prince, for, like Prince Hal, I felt
      myself superior to my situation, and knew that I could at any
      time cast it off and emerge into my proper sphere.

      How my eyes sparkled as we passed Hyde-park corner, and I saw
      splendid equipages rolling by, with powdered footmen behind, in
      rich liveries, and fine nosegays, and gold-headed canes; and with
      lovely women within, so sumptuously dressed and so surpassingly
      fair. I was always extremely sensible to female beauty; and here
      I saw it in all its fascination; for, whatever may be said of
      “beauty unadorned,” there is something almost awful in female
      loveliness decked out in jewelled state. The swan-like neck
      encircled with diamonds; the raven locks, clustered with pearls;
      the ruby glowing on the snowy bosom, are objects that I could
      never contemplate without emotion; and a dazzling white arm
      clasped with bracelets, and taper transparent fingers laden with
      sparkling rings, are to me irresistible. My very eyes ached as I
      gazed at the high and courtly beauty that passed before me. It
      surpassed all that my imagination had conceived of the sex. I
      shrunk, for a moment, into shame at the company in which I was
      placed, and repined at the vast distance that seemed to intervene
      between me and these magnificent beings.

      I forbear to give a detail of the happy life which I led about
      the skirts of the metropolis, playing at the various fairs, held
      there during the latter part of spring and the beginning of
      summer. This continual change from place to place, and scene to
      scene, fed my imagination with novelties, and kept my spirits in
      a perpetual state of excitement.

      As I was tall of my age I aspired, at one time, to play heroes in
      tragedy; but after two or three trials, I was pronounced, by the
      manager, totally unfit for the line; and our first tragic
      actress, who was a large woman, and held a small hero in
      abhorrence, confirmed his decision.

      The fact is, I had attempted to give point to language which had
      no point, and nature to scenes which had no nature. They said I
      did not fill out my characters; and they were right. The
      characters had all been prepared for a different sort of man. Our
      tragedy hero was a round, robustious fellow, with an amazing
      voice; who stamped and slapped his breast until his wig shook
      again; and who roared and bellowed out his bombast, until every
      phrase swelled upon the ear like the sound of a kettle-drum. I
      might as well have attempted to fill out his clothes as his
      characters. When we had a dialogue together, I was nothing before
      him, with my slender voice and discriminating manner. I might as
      well have attempted to parry a cudgel with a small sword. If he
      found me in any way gaining ground upon him, he would take refuge
      in his mighty voice, and throw his tones like peals of thunder at
      me, until they were drowned in the still louder thunders of
      applause from the audience.

      To tell the truth, I suspect that I was not shown fair play, and
      that there was management at the bottom; for without vanity, I
      think I was a better actor than he. As I had not embarked in the
      vagabond line through ambition, I did not repine at lack of
      preferment; but I was grieved to find that a vagrant life was not
      without its cares and anxieties, and that jealousies, intrigues,
      and mad ambition were to be found even among vagabonds.

      Indeed, as I become more familiar with my situation, and the
      delusions of fancy began to fade away, I discovered that my
      associates were not the happy careless creatures I had at first
      imagined them. They were jealous of each other’s talents; they
      quarrelled about parts, the same as the actors on the grand
      theatres; they quarrelled about dresses; and there was one robe
      of yellow silk, trimmed with red, and a head-dress of three
      rumpled ostrich feathers, which were continually setting the
      ladies of the company by the ears. Even those who had attained
      the highest honors were not more happy than the rest; for Mr.
      Flimsey himself, our first tragedian, and apparently a jovial,
      good-humored fellow, confessed to me one day, in the fullness of
      his heart, that he was a miserable man. He had a brother-in-law,
      a relative by marriage, though not by blood, who was manager of a
      theatre in a small country town. And this same brother, (“a
      little more than kin, but less than kind,”) looked down upon him,
      and treated him with contumely, because forsooth he was but a
      strolling player. I tried to console him with the thoughts of the
      vast applause he daily received, but it was all in vain. He
      declared that it gave him no delight, and that he should never be
      a happy man until the name of Flimsey rivalled the name of Crimp.

      How little do those before the scenes know of what passes behind;
      how little can they judge, from the countenances of actors, of
      what is passing in their hearts. I have known two lovers quarrel
      like cats behind the scenes, who were, the moment after, ready to
      fly into each other’s embraces. And I have dreaded, when our
      Belvidera was to take her farewell kiss of her Jaffier, lest she
      should bite a piece out of his cheek. Our tragedian was a rough
      joker off the stage; our prime clown the most peevish mortal
      living. The latter used to go about snapping and snarling, with a
      broad laugh painted on his countenance; and I can assure you
      that, whatever may be said of the gravity of a monkey, or the
      melancholy of a gibed cat, there is no more melancholy creature
      in existence than a mountebank off duty.

      The only thing in which all parties agreed was to backbite the
      manager, and cabal against his regulations. This, however, I have
      since discovered to be a common trait of human nature, and to
      take place in all communities. It would seem to be the main
      business of man to repine at government. In all situations of
      life into which I have looked, I have found mankind divided into
      two grand parties;—those who ride and those who are ridden. The
      great struggle of life seems to be which shall keep in the
      saddle. This, it appears to me, is the fundamental principle of
      politics, whether in great or little life. However, I do not mean
      to moralize; but one cannot always sink the philosopher.

      Well, then, to return to myself. It was determined, as I said,
      that I was not fit for tragedy, and unluckily, as my study was
      bad, having a very poor memory, I was pronounced unfit for comedy
      also: besides, the line of young gentlemen was already engrossed
      by an actor with whom I could not pretend to enter into
      competition, he having filled it for almost half a century. I
      came down again therefore to pantomime. In consequence, however,
      of the good offices of the manager’s lady, who had taken a liking
      to me, I was promoted from the part of the satyr to that of the
      lover; and with my face patched and painted, a huge cravat of
      paper, a steeple-crowned hat, and dangling, long-skirted,
      sky-blue coat, was metamorphosed into the lover of Columbine. My
      part did not call for much of the tender and sentimental. I had
      merely to pursue the fugitive fair one; to have a door now and
      then slammed in my face; to run my head occasionally against a
      post; to tumble and roll about with Pantaloon and the clown; and
      to endure the hearty thwacks of Harlequin’s wooden sword.

      As ill luck would have it, my poetical temperament began to
      ferment within me, and to work out new troubles. The inflammatory
      air of a great metropolis added to the rural scenes in which the
      fairs were held; such as Greenwich Park; Epping Forest; and the
      lovely valley of the West End, had a powerful effect upon me.
      While in Greenwich Park I was witness to the old holiday games of
      running down hill; and kissing in the ring; and then the
      firmament of blooming faces and blue eyes that would be turned
      towards me as I was playing antics on the stage; all these set my
      young blood, and my poetical vein, in full flow. In short, I
      played my character to the life, and became desperately enamored
      of Columbine. She was a trim, well-made, tempting girl, with a
      rougish, dimpling face, and fine chestnut hair clustering all
      about it. The moment I got fairly smitten, there was an end to
      all playing. I was such a creature of fancy and feeling that I
      could not put on a pretended, when I was powerfully affected by a
      real emotion. I could not sport with a fiction that came so near
      to the fact. I became too natural in my acting to succeed. And
      then, what a situation for a lover! I was a mere stripling, and
      she played with my passion; for girls soon grow more adroit and
      knowing in these than your awkward youngsters. What agonies had I
      to suffer. Every time that she danced in front of the booth and
      made such liberal displays of her charms, I was in torment. To
      complete my misery, I had a real rival in Harlequin; an active,
      vigorous, knowing varlet of six-and-twenty. What had a raw,
      inexperienced youngster like me to hope from such a competition?

      I had still, however, some advantages in my favor. In spite of my
      change of life, I retained that indescribable something which
      always distinguishes the gentleman; that something which dwells
      in a man’s air and deportment, and not in his clothes; and which
      it is as difficult for a gentleman to put off as for a vulgar
      fellow to put on. The company generally felt it, and used to call
      me little gentleman Jack. The girl felt it too; and in spite of
      her predilection for my powerful rival, she liked to flirt with
      me. This only aggravated my troubles, by increasing my passion,
      and awakening the jealousy of her parti-colored lover.

      Alas! think what I suffered, at being obliged to keep up an
      ineffectual chase after my Columbine through whole pantomimes; to
      see her carried off in the vigorous arms of the happy Harlequin;
      and to be obliged, instead of snatching her from him, to tumble
      sprawling with Pantaloon and the clown; and bear the infernal and
      degrading thwacks of my rival’s weapon of lath; which, may heaven
      confound him! (excuse my passion) the villain laid on with a
      malicious good-will; nay, I could absolutely hear him chuckle and
      laugh beneath his accursed mask—I beg pardon for growing a little
      warm in my narration. I wish to be cool, but these recollections
      will sometimes agitate me. I have heard and read of many
      desperate and deplorable situations of lovers; but none, I think,
      in which true love was ever exposed to so severe and peculiar a

      This could not last long. Flesh and blood, at least such flesh
      and blood as mine, could not bear it. I had repeated
      heartburnings and quarrels with my rival, in which he treated me
      with the mortifying forbearance of a man towards a child. Had he
      quarrelled outright with me, I could have stomached it; at least
      I should have known what part to take; but to be humored and
      treated as a child in the presence of my mistress, when I felt
      all the bantam spirit of a little man swelling within me—gods, it
      was insufferable!

      At length we were exhibiting one day at West End fair, which was
      at that time a very fashionable resort, and often beleaguered by
      gay equipages from town. Among the spectators that filled the
      front row of our little canvas theatre one afternoon, when I had
      to figure in a pantomime, was a party of young ladies from a
      boarding-school, with their governess. Guess my confusion, when,
      in the midst of my antics, I beheld among the number my quondam
      flame; her whom I had be-rhymed at school; her for whose charms I
      had smarted so severely; tho cruel Sacharissa! What was worse, I
      fancied she recollected me; and was repeating the story of my
      humiliating flagellation, for I saw her whispering her companions
      and her governess. I lost all consciousness of the part I was
      acting, and of the place where I was. I felt shrunk to nothing,
      and could have crept into a rat-hole—unluckily, none was open to
      receive me. Before I could recover from my confusion, I was
      tumbled over by Pantaloon and the clown; and I felt the sword of
      Harlequin making vigorous assaults, in a manner most degrading to
      my dignity.

      Heaven and earth! was I again to suffer martyrdom in this
      ignominious manner, in the knowledge, and even before the very
      eyes of this most beautiful, but most disdainful of fair ones?
      All my long-smothered wrath broke out at once; the dormant
      feelings of the gentleman arose within me; stung to the quick by
      intolerable mortification, I sprang on my feet in an instant;
      leaped upon Harlequin like a young tiger; tore off his mask;
      buffeted him in the face, and soon shed more blood on the stage
      than had been spilt upon it during a whole tragic campaign of
      battles and murders.

      As soon as Harlequin recovered from his surprise he returned my
      assault with interest. I was nothing in his hands. I was game to
      be sure, for I was a gentleman; but he had the clownish
      advantages of bone and muscle. I felt as if I could have fought
      even unto the death; and I was likely to do so; for he was,
      according to the vulgar phrase, “putting my head into Chancery,”
      when the gentle Columbine flew to my assistance. God bless the
      women; they are always on the side of the weak and the oppressed.

      The battle now became general; the dramatis personae ranged on
      either side. The manager interfered in vain. In vain were his
      spangled black bonnet and towering white feathers seen whisking
      about, and nodding, and bobbing, in the thickest of the fight.
      Warriors, ladies, priests, satyrs, kings, queens, gods and
      goddesses, all joined pell-mell in the fray. Never, since the
      conflict under the walls of Troy, had there been such a chance
      medley warfare of combatants, human and divine. The audience
      applauded, the ladies shrieked and fled from the theatre, and a
      scene of discord ensued that baffles all description.

      Nothing but the interference of the peace officers restored some
      degree of order. The havoc, however, that had been made among
      dresses and decorations put an end to all farther acting for that
      day. The battle over, the next thing was to inquire why it was
      begun; a common question among politicians, after a bloody and
      unprofitable war; and one not always easy to be answered. It was
      soon traced to me, and my unaccountable transport of passion,
      which they could only attribute to my having run _a muck_. The
      manager was judge and jury, and plaintiff in the bargain, and in
      such cases justice is always speedily administered. He came out
      of the fight as sublime a wreck as the Santissìma Trinidada. His
      gallant plumes, which once towered aloft, were drooping about his
      ears. His robe of state hung in ribbands from his back, and but
      ill concealed the ravages he had suffered in the rear. He had
      received kicks and cuffs from all sides, during the tumult; for
      every one took the opportunity of slyly gratifying some lurking
      grudge on his fat carcass. He was a discreet man, and did not
      choose to declare war with all his company; so he swore all those
      kicks and cuffs had been given by me, and I let him enjoy the
      opinion. Some wounds he bore, however, which were the
      incontestible traces of a woman’s warfare. His sleek rosy cheek
      was scored by trickling furrows, which were ascribed to the nails
      of my intrepid and devoted Columbine. The ire of the monarch was
      not to be appeased. He had suffered in his person, and he had
      suffered in his purse; his dignity too had been insulted, and
      that went for something; for dignity is always more irascible the
      more petty the potentate. He wreaked his wrath upon the beginners
      of the affray, and Columbine and myself were discharged, at once,
      from the company.

      Figure me, then, to yourself, a stripling of little more than
      sixteen; a gentleman by birth; a vagabond by trade; turned adrift
      upon the world; making the best of my way through the crowd of
      West End fair; my mountebank dress fluttering in rags about me;
      the weeping Columbine hanging upon my arm, in splendid, but
      tattered finery; the tears coursing one by one down her face;
      carrying off the red paint in torrents, and literally “preying
      upon her damask cheek.”

      The crowd made way for us as we passed and hooted in our rear. I
      felt the ridicule of my situation, but had too much gallantry to
      desert this fair one, who had sacrificed everything for me.
      Having wandered through the fair, we emerged, like another Adam
      and Eve, into unknown regions, and “had the world before us where
      to choose.” Never was a more disconsolate pair seen in the soft
      valley of West End. The luckless Columbine cast back many a
      lingering look at the fair, which seemed to put on a more than
      usual splendor; its tents, and booths, and parti-colored groups,
      all brightening in the sunshine, and gleaming among the trees;
      and its gay flags and streamers playing and fluttering in the
      light summer airs. With a heavy sigh she would lean on my arm and
      proceed. I had no hope or consolation to give her; but she had
      linked herself to my fortunes, and she was too much of a woman to
      desert me.

      Pensive and silent, then, we traversed the beautiful fields that
      lie behind Hempstead, and wandered on, until the fiddle, and the
      hautboy, and the shout, and the laugh, were swallowed up in the
      deep sound of the big bass drum, and even that died away into a
      distant rumble. We passed along the pleasant sequestered walk of
      Nightingale lane. For a pair of lovers what scene could be more
      propitious?—But such a pair of lovers! Not a nightingale sang to
      soothe us: the very gypsies who were encamped there during the
      fair, made no offer to tell the fortunes of such an ill-omened
      couple, whose fortunes, I suppose, they thought too legibly
      written to need an interpreter; and the gypsey children crawled
      into their cabins and peeped out fearfully at us as we went by.
      For a moment I paused, and was almost tempted to turn gypsey, but
      the poetical feeling for the present was fully satisfied, and I
      passed on. Thus we travelled, and travelled, like a prince and
      princess in nursery chronicle, until we had traversed a part of
      Hempstead Heath and arrived in the vicinity of Jack Straw’s

      Here, wearied and dispirited, we seated ourselves on the margin
      of the hill, hard by the very mile-stone where Whittington of
      yore heard the Bow bells ring out the presage of his future
      greatness. Alas! no bell rung in invitation to us, as we looked
      disconsolately upon the distant city. Old London seemed to wrap
      itself up unsociably in its mantle of brown smoke, and to offer
      no encouragement to such a couple of tatterdemalions.

      For once, at least, the usual course of the pantomime was
      reversed. Harlequin was jilted, and the lover had earned off
      Columbine in good earnest. But what was I to do with her? I had
      never contemplated such a dilemma; and I now felt that even a
      fortunate lover may be embarrassed by his good fortune. I really
      knew not what was to become of me; for I had still the boyish
      fear of returning home; standing in awe of the stern temper of my
      father, and dreading the ready arm of the pedagogue. And even if
      I were to venture home, what was I to do with Columbine? I could
      not take her in my hand, and throw myself on my knees, and crave
      his forgiveness and his blessing according to dramatic usage. The
      very dogs would have chased such a draggle-tailed beauty from the

      In the midst of my doleful dumps, some one tapped me on the
      shoulder, and looking up I saw a couple of rough sturdy fellows
      standing behind me. Not knowing what to expect I jumped on my
      legs, and was preparing again to make battle; but I was tripped
      up and secured in a twinkling.

      “Come, come, young master,” said one of the fellows in a gruff,
      but good-humored tone, “don’t let’s have any of your tantrums;
      one would have thought that you had had swing enough for this
      bout. Come, it’s high time to leave off harlequinading, and go
      home to your father.”

      In fact I had a couple of Bow street officers hold of me. The
      cruel Sacharissa had proclaimed who I was, and that a reward had
      been offered throughout the country for any tidings of me; and
      they had seen a description of me that had been forwarded to the
      police office in town. Those harpies, therefore, for the mere
      sake of filthy lucre, were resolved to deliver me over into the
      hands of my father and the clutches of my pedagogue.

      It was in vain that I swore I would not leave my faithful and
      Afflicted Columbine. It was in vain that I tore myself from their
      grasp, and flew to her; and vowed to protect her; and wiped the
      tears from her cheek, and with them a whole blush that might have
      vied with the carnation for brilliancy. My persecutors were
      inflexible; they even seemed to exult in our distress; and to
      enjoy this theatrical display of dirt, and finery, and
      tribulation. I was carried off in despair, leaving my Columbine
      destitute in the wide world; but many a look of agony did I cast
      back at her, as she stood gazing piteously after me from the
      brink of Hempstead Hill; so forlorn, so fine, so ragged, so
      bedraggled, yet so beautiful.

      Thus ended my first peep into the world. I returned home, rich in
      good-for-nothing experience, and dreading the reward I was to
      receive for my improvement. My reception, however, was quite
      different from what I had expected. My father had a spice of the
      devil in him, and did not seem to like me the worse for my freak,
      which he termed “sowing my wild oats.” He happened to have
      several of his sporting friends to dine with him the very day of
      my return; they made me tell some of my adventures, and laughed
      heartily at them. One old fellow, with an outrageously red nose,
      took to me hugely. I heard him whisper to my father that I was a
      lad of mettle, and might make something clever; to which my
      father replied that “I had good points, but was an ill-broken
      whelp, and required a great deal of the whip.” Perhaps this very
      conversation raised me a little in his esteem, for I found the
      red-nosed old gentleman was a veteran fox-hunter of the
      neighborhood, for whose opinion my father had vast deference.
      Indeed, I believe he would have pardoned anything in me more
      readily than poetry; which he called a cursed, sneaking, puling,
      housekeeping employment, the bane of all true manhood. He swore
      it was unworthy of a youngster of my expectations, who was one
      day to have so great an estate, and would he able to keep horses
      and hounds and hire poets to write songs for him into the

      I had now satisfied, for a time, my roving propensity. I had
      exhausted the poetical feeling. I had been heartily buffeted out
      of my love for theatrical display. I felt humiliated by my
      exposure, and was willing to hide my head anywhere for a season;
      so that I might be out of the way of the ridicule of the world;
      for I found folks not altogether so indulgent abroad as they were
      at my father’s table. I could not stay at home; the house was
      intolerably doleful now that my mother was no longer there to
      cherish me. Every thing around spoke mournfully of her. The
      little flower-garden in which she delighted was all in disorder
      and overrun with weeds. I attempted, for a day or two, to arrange
      it, but my heart grew heavier and heavier as I labored. Every
      little broken-down flower that I had seen her rear so tenderly,
      seemed to plead in mute eloquence to my feelings. There was a
      favorite honeysuckle which I had seen her often training with
      assiduity, and had heard her say it should be the pride of her
      garden. I found it grovelling along the ground, tangled and wild,
      and twining round every worthless weed, and it struck me as an
      emblem of myself: a mere scatterling, running to waste and
      uselessness. I could work no longer in the garden.

      My father sent me to pay a visit to my uncle, by way of keeping
      the old gentleman in mind of me. I was received, as usual,
      without any expression of discontent; which we always considered
      equivalent to a hearty welcome. Whether he had ever heard of my
      strolling freak or not I could not discover; he and his man were
      both so taciturn. I spent a day or two roaming about the dreary
      mansion and neglected park; and felt at one time, I believe, a
      touch of poetry, for I was tempted to drown myself in a
      fish-pond; I rebuked the evil spirit, however, and it left me. I
      found the same red-headed boy running wild about the park, but I
      felt in no humor to hunt him at present. On the contrary, I tried
      to coax him to me, and to make friends with him, but the young
      savage was untameable.

      When I returned from my uncle’s I remained at home for some time,
      for my father was disposed, he said, to make a man of me. He took
      me out hunting with him, and I became a great favorite of the
      red-nosed squire, because I rode at everything; never refused the
      boldest leap, and was always sure to be in at the death. I used
      often however, to offend my father at hunting dinners, by taking
      the wrong side in politics. My father was amazingly ignorant—so
      ignorant, in fact, as not to know that he knew nothing. He was
      staunch, however, to church and king, and full of old-fashioned
      prejudices. Now, I had picked up a little knowledge in politics
      and religion, during my rambles with the strollers, and found
      myself capable of setting him right as to many of his antiquated
      notions. I felt it my duty to do so; we were apt, therefore, to
      differ occasionally in the political discussions that sometimes
      arose at these hunting dinners.

      I was at that age when a man knows least and is most vain of his
      knowledge; and when he is extremely tenacious in defending his
      opinion upon subjects about which he knows nothing. My father was
      a hard man for any one to argue with, for he never knew when he
      was refuted. I sometimes posed him a little, but then he had one
      argument that always settled the question; he would threaten to
      knock me down. I believe he at last grew tired of me, because I
      both out-talked and outrode him. The red-nosed squire, too, got
      out of conceit of me, because in the heat of the chase, I rode
      over him one day as he and his horse lay sprawling in the dirt.
      My father, therefore, thought it high time to send me to college;
      and accordingly to Trinity College at Oxford was I sent.

      I had lost my habits of study while at home; and I was not likely
      to find them again at college. I found that study was not the
      fashion at college, and that a lad of spirit only ate his terms;
      and grew wise by dint of knife and fork. I was always prone to
      follow the fashions of the company into which I fell; so I threw
      by my books, and became a man of spirit. As my father made me a
      tolerable allowance, notwithstanding the narrowness of his
      income, having an eye always to my great expectations, I was
      enabled to appear to advantage among my fellow-students. I
      cultivated all kinds of sports and exercises. I was one of the
      most expert oarsmen that rowed on the Isis. I boxed and fenced. I
      was a keen huntsman, and my chambers in college were always
      decorated with whips of all kinds, spurs, foils, and boxing
      gloves. A pair of leather breeches would seem to be throwing one
      leg out of the half-open drawers, and empty bottles lumbered the
      bottom of every closet.

      I soon grew tired of this, and relapsed into my vein of mere
      poetical indulgence. I was charmed with Oxford, for it was full
      of poetry to me. I thought I should never grow tired of wandering
      about its courts and cloisters; and visiting the different
      college halls. I used to love to get in places surrounded by the
      colleges, where all modern buildings were screened from the
      sight; and to walk about them in twilight, and see the professors
      and students sweeping along in the dusk in their caps and gowns.
      There was complete delusion in the scene. It seemed to transport
      me among the edifices and the people of old times. It was a great
      luxury, too, for me to attend the evening service in the new
      college chapel, and to hear the fine organ and the choir swelling
      an anthem in that solemn building; where painting and music and
      architecture seem to combine their grandest effects.

      I became a loiterer, also, about the Bodleian library, and a
      great dipper into books; but too idle to follow any course of
      study or vein of research. One of my favorite haunts was the
      beautiful walk, bordered by lofty elms, along the Isis, under the
      old gray walls of Magdalen College, which goes by the name of
      Addison’s Walk; and was his resort when a student at the college.
      I used to take a volume of poetry in my hand, and stroll up and
      down this walk for hours.

      My father came to see me at college. He asked me how I came on
      with my studies; and what kind of hunting there was in the
      neighborhood. He examined my sporting apparatus; wanted to know
      if any of the professors were fox-hunters; and whether they were
      generally good shots; for he suspected this reading so much was
      rather hurtful to the sight. Such was the only person to whom I
      was responsible for my improvement: is it matter of wonder,
      therefore, that I became a confirmed idler?

      I do not know how it is, but I cannot be idle long without
      getting in love. I became deeply smitten with a shopkeeper’s
      daughter in the high street; who in fact was the admiration of
      many of the students. I wrote several sonnets in praise of her,
      and spent half of my pocket-money at the shop, in buying articles
      which I did not want, that I might have an opportunity of
      speaking to her. Her father, a severe-looking old gentleman, with
      bright silver buckles and a crisp, curled wig, kept a strict
      guard on her; as the fathers generally do upon their daughters in
      Oxford; and well they may. I tried to get into his good graces,
      and to be sociable with him; but in vain. I said several good
      things in his shop, but he never laughed; he had no relish for
      wit and humor. He was one of those dry old gentlemen who keep
      youngsters at bay. He had already brought up two or three
      daughters, and was experienced in the ways of students.

      He was as knowing and wary as a gray old badger that has often
      been hunted. To see him on Sunday, so stiff and starched in his
      demeanor; so precise in his dress; with his daughter under his
      arm, and his ivory-headed cane in his hand, was enough to deter
      all graceless youngsters from approaching.

      I managed, however, in spite of his vigilance, to have several
      Conversations with the daughter, as I cheapened articles in the
      shop. I made terrible long bargains, and examined the articles
      over and over, before I purchased. In the meantime, I would
      convey a sonnet or an acrostic under cover of a piece of cambric,
      or slipped into a pair of stockings; I would whisper soft
      nonsense into her ear as I haggled about the price; and would
      squeeze her hand tenderly as I received my halfpence of change,
      in a bit of whity-brown paper. Let this serve as a hint to all
      haberdashers, who have pretty daughters for shop-girls, and young
      students for customers. I do not know whether my words and looks
      were very eloquent; but my poetry was irresistible; for, to tell
      the truth, the girl had some literary taste, and was seldom
      without a book from the circulating library.

      By the divine power of poetry, therefore, which is irresistible
      with the lovely sex, did I subdue the heart of this fair little
      haberdasher. We carried on a sentimental correspondence for a
      time across the counter, and I supplied her with rhyme by the
      stockingful. At length I prevailed on her to grant me an
      assignation. But how was it to be effected? Her father kept her
      always under his eye; she never walked out alone; and the house
      was locked up the moment that the shop was shut. All these
      difficulties served but to give zest to the adventure. I proposed
      that the assignation should be in her own chamber, into which I
      would climb at night. The plan was irresistible. A cruel father,
      a secret lover, and a clandestine meeting! All the little girl’s
      studies from the circulating library seemed about to be realised.
      But what had I in view in making this assignation? Indeed I know
      not. I had no evil intentions; nor can I say that I had any good
      ones. I liked the girl, and wanted to have an opportunity of
      seeing more of her; and the assignation was made, as I have done
      many things else, heedlessly and without forethought. I asked
      myself a few questions of the kind, after all my arrangements
      were made; but the answers were very unsatisfactory. “Am I to
      ruin this poor thoughtless girl?” said I to myself. “No!” was the
      prompt and indignant answer. “Am I to run away with her?”
      “Whither—and to what purpose?” “Well, then, am I to marry
      her!”—“Pah! a man of my expectations marry a shopkeeper’s
      daughter!” “What, then, am I to do with her?” “Hum—why.—Let me
      get into her chamber first, and then consider”—and so the
      self-examination ended.

      Well, sir, “come what come might,” I stole under cover of the
      darkness to the dwelling of my dulcinea. All was quiet. At the
      concerted signal her window was gently opened. It was just above
      the projecting bow-window of her father’s shop, which assisted me
      in mounting. The house was low, and I was enabled to scale the
      fortress with tolerable ease. I clambered with a beating heart; I
      reached the casement; I hoisted my body half into the chamber and
      was welcomed, not by the embraces of my expecting fair one, but
      by the grasp of the crabbed-looking old father in the crisp
      curled wig.

      I extricated myself from his clutches and endeavored to make my
      retreat; but I was confounded by his cries of thieves! and
      robbers! I was bothered, too, by his Sunday cane; which was
      amazingly busy about my head as I descended; and against which my
      hat was but a poor protection. Never before had I an idea of the
      activity of an old man’s arm, and hardness of the knob of an
      ivory-headed cane. In my hurry and confusion I missed my footing,
      and fell sprawling on the pavement. I was immediately surrounded
      by myrmidons, who I doubt not were on the watch for me. Indeed, I
      was in no situation to escape, for I had sprained my ankle in the
      fall, and could not stand. I was seized as a housebreaker; and to
      exonerate myself from a greater crime I had to accuse myself of a
      less. I made known who I was, and why I came there. Alas! the
      varlets knew it already, and were only amusing themselves at my
      expense. My perfidious muse had been playing me one of her
      slippery tricks. The old curmudgeon of a father had found my
      sonnets and acrostics hid away in holes and corners of his shop;
      he had no taste for poetry like his daughter, and had instituted
      a rigorous though silent observation. He had moused upon our
      letters; detected the ladder of ropes, and prepared everything
      for my reception. Thus was I ever doomed to be led into scrapes
      by the muse. Let no man henceforth carry on a secret amour in

      The old man’s ire was in some measure appeased by the pummelling
      of my head, and the anguish of my sprain; so he did not put me to
      death on the spot. He was even humane enough to furnish a
      shutter, on which I was carried back to the college like a
      wounded warrior. The porter was roused to admit me; the college
      gate was thrown open for my entry; the affair was blazed abroad
      the next morning, and became the joke of the college from the
      buttery to the hall.

      I had leisure to repent during several weeks’ confinement by my
      sprain, which I passed in translating Boethius’ Consolations of
      Philosophy. I received a most tender and ill-spelled letter from
      my mistress, who had been sent to a relation in Coventry. She
      protested her innocence of my misfortunes, and vowed to be true
      to me “till death.” I took no notice of the letter, for I was
      cured, for the present, both of love and poetry. Women, however,
      are more constant in their attachments than men, whatever
      philosophers may say to the contrary. I am assured that she
      actually remained faithful to her vow for several months; but she
      had to deal with a cruel father whose heart was as hard as the
      knob of his cane. He was not to be touched by tears or poetry;
      but absolutely compelled her to marry a reputable young
      tradesman; who made her a happy woman in spite of herself, and of
      all the rules of romance; and what is more, the mother of several
      children. They are at this very day a thriving couple and keep a
      snug corner shop, just opposite the figure of Peeping Tom at

      I will not fatigue you by any more details of my studies at
      Oxford, though they were not always as severe as these; nor did I
      always pay as dear for my lessons. People may say what they
      please, a studious life has its charms, and there are many places
      more gloomy than the cloisters of a university.

      To be brief, then, I lived on in my usual miscellaneous manner,
      gradually getting a knowledge of good and evil, until I had
      attained my twenty-first year. I had scarcely come of age when I
      heard of the sudden death of my father. The shock was severe, for
      though he had never treated me with kindness, still he was my
      father, and at his death I felt myself alone in the world.

      I returned home to act as chief mourner at his funeral. It was
      attended by many of the sportsmen of the country; for he was an
      important member of their fraternity. According to his request
      his favorite hunter was led after the hearse. The red-nosed
      fox-hunter, who had taken a little too much wine at the house,
      made a maudlin eulogy of the deceased, and wished to give the
      view halloo over the grave; but he was rebuked by the rest of the
      company. They all shook me kindly by the hand, said many
      consolatory things to me, and invited me to become a member of
      the hunt in my father’s place.

      When I found myself alone in my paternal home, a crowd of gloomy
      feelings came thronging upon me. It was a place that always
      seemed to sober me, and bring me to reflection. Now, especially,
      it looked so deserted and melancholy; the furniture displaced
      about the room; the chairs in groups, as their departed occupants
      had sat, either in whispering tête-à-têtes, or gossiping
      clusters; the bottles and decanters and wine-glasses, half
      emptied, and scattered about the tables—all dreary traces of a
      funeral festival. I entered the little breakfasting room. There
      were my father’s whip and spurs hanging by the fire-place, and
      his favorite pointer lying on the hearth-rug. The poor animal
      came fondling about me, and licked my hand, though he had never
      before noticed me; and then he looked round the room, and whined,
      and wagged his tail slightly, and gazed wistfully in my face. I
      felt the full force of the appeal. “Poor Dash!” said I, “we are
      both alone in the world, with nobody to care for us, and we’ll
      take care of one another.” The dog never quitted me afterwards.

      I could not go into my mother’s room: my heart swelled when I
      passed Within sight of the door. Her portrait hung in the parlor,
      just over the place where she used to sit. As I cast my eyes on
      it I thought it looked at me with tenderness, and I burst into
      tears. My heart had long been seared by living in public schools,
      and buffeting about among strangers who cared nothing for me; but
      the recollection of a mother’s tenderness was overcoming.

      I was not of an age or a temperament to be long depressed. There
      was a reaction in my system that always brought me up again at
      every pressure; and indeed my spirits were most buoyant after a
      temporary prostration. I settled the concerns of the estate as
      soon as possible; realized my property, which was not very
      considerable, but which appeared a vast deal to me, having a
      poetical eye that magnified everything; and finding myself, at
      the end of a few months, free of all farther business or
      restraint, I determined to go to London and enjoy myself. Why
      should not I?—I was young, animated, joyous; had plenty of funds
      for present pleasures, and my uncle’s estate in the perspective.
      Let those mope at college and pore over books, thought I, who
      have their way to make in the world; it would be ridiculous
      drudgery in a youth of my expectations.

      Well, sir, away to London I rattled in a tandem, determined to
      take the town gaily. I passed through several of the villages
      where I had played the jack-pudding a few years before; and I
      visited the scenes of many of my adventures and follies, merely
      from that feeling of melancholy pleasure which we have in
      stepping again into the footprints of foregone existence, even
      when they have passed among weeds and briars. I made a circuit in
      the latter part of my journey, so as to take in West End and
      Hempstead, the scenes of my last dramatic exploit, and of the
      battle royal of the booth. As I drove along the ridge of
      Hempstead Hill, by Jack Straw’s castle, I paused at the spot
      where Columbine and I had sat down so disconsolately in our
      ragged finery, and looked dubiously upon London. I almost
      expected to see her again, standing on the hill’s brink, “like
      Niobe all tears;”—mournful as Babylon in ruins!

      “Poor Columbine!” said I, with a heavy sigh, “thou wert a
      gallant, generous girl—a true woman, faithful to the distressed,
      and ready to sacrifice thyself in the cause of worthless man!”

      I tried to whistle off the recollection of her; for there was
      always Something of self-reproach with it. I drove gayly along
      the road, enjoying the stare of hostlers and stable-boys as I
      managed my horses knowingly down the steep street of Hempstead;
      when, just at the skirts of the village, one of the traces of my
      leader came loose. I pulled up; and as the animal was restive and
      my servant a bungler, I called for assistance to the robustious
      master of a snug ale-house, who stood at his door with a tankard
      in his hand. He came readily to assist me, followed by his wife,
      with her bosom half open, a child in her arms, and two more at
      her heels. I stared for a moment as if doubting my eyes. I could
      not be mistaken; in the fat, beer-blown landlord of the ale-house
      I recognized my old rival Harlequin, and in his slattern spouse,
      the once trim and dimpling Columbine.

      The change of my looks, from youth to manhood, and the change of
      my circumstances, prevented them from recognizing me. They could
      not suspect, in the dashing young buck, fashionably dressed, and
      driving his own equipage, their former comrade, the painted beau,
      with old peaked hat and long, flimsy, sky-blue coat. My heart
      yearned with kindness towards Columbine, and I was glad to see
      her establishment a thriving one. As soon as the harness was
      adjusted, I tossed a small purse of gold into her ample bosom;
      and then, pretending give my horses a hearty cut of the whip, I
      made the lash curl with a whistling about the sleek sides of
      ancient Harlequin. The horses dashed off like lightning, and I
      was whirled out of sight, before either of the parties could get
      over their surprise at my liberal donations. I have always
      considered this as one of the greatest proofs of my poetical
      genius. It was distributing poetical justice in perfection.

      I now entered London _en cavalier_, and became a blood upon town.
      I took fashionable lodgings in the West End; employed the first
      tailor; frequented the regular lounges; gambled a little; lost my
      money good-humoredly, and gained a number of fashionable
      good-for-nothing acquaintances. Had I had more industry and
      ambition in my nature, I might have worked my way to the very
      height of fashion, as I saw many laborious gentlemen doing around
      me. But it is a toilsome, an anxious, and an unhappy life; there
      are few beings so sleepless and miserable as your cultivators of
      fashionable smiles.

      I was quite content with that kind of society which forms the
      frontiers of fashion, and may be easily taken possession of. I
      found it a light, easy, productive soil. I had but to go about
      and sow visiting cards, and I reaped a whole harvest of
      invitations. Indeed, my figure and address were by no means
      against me. It was whispered, too, among the young ladies, that I
      was prodigiously clever, and wrote poetry; and the old ladies had
      ascertained that I was a young gentleman of good family, handsome
      fortune, and “great expectations.”

      I now was carried away by the hurry of gay life, so intoxicating
      to a young man; and which a man of poetical temperament enjoys so
      highly on his first tasting of it. That rapid variety of
      sensations; that whirl of brilliant objects; that succession of
      pungent pleasures. I had no time for thought; I only felt. I
      never attempted to write poetry; my poetry seemed all to go off
      by transpiration. I lived poetry; it was all a poetical dream to
      me. A mere sensualist knows nothing of the delights of a splendid
      metropolis. He lives in a round of animal gratifications and
      heartless habits. But to a young man of poetical feelings it is
      an ideal world; a scene of enchantment and delusion; his
      imagination is in perpetual excitement, and gives a spiritual
      zest to every pleasure.

      A season of town life somewhat sobered me of my intoxication; or
      rather I was rendered more serious by one of my old complaints—I
      fell in love. It was with a very pretty, though a very haughty
      fair one, who had come to London under the care of an old maiden
      aunt, to enjoy the pleasures of a winter in town, and to get
      married. There was not a doubt of her commanding a choice of
      lovers; for she had long been the belle of a little cathedral
      town; and one of the prebendaries had absolutely celebrated her
      beauty in a copy of Latin verses.

      I paid my court to her, and was favorably received both by her
      and her aunt. Nay, I had a marked preference shown me over the
      younger son of a needy baronet, and a captain of dragoons on half
      pay. I did not absolutely take the field in form, for I was
      determined not to be precipitate; but I drove my equipage
      frequently through the street in which she lived, and was always
      sure to see her at the window, generally with a book in her hand.
      I resumed my knack at rhyming, and sent her a long copy of
      verses; anonymously to be sure; but she knew my handwriting. They
      displayed, however, the most delightful ignorance on the subject.
      The young lady showed them to me; wondered who they could be
      written by; and declared there was nothing in this world she
      loved so much as poetry: while the maiden aunt would put her
      pinching spectacles on her nose, and read them, with blunders in
      sense and sound, that were excruciating to an author’s ears;
      protesting there was nothing equal to them in the whole elegant

      The fashionable season closed without my adventuring to make a
      declaration, though. I certainly had encouragement. I was not
      perfectly sure that I had effected a lodgment in the young lady’s
      heart; and, to tell the truth, the aunt overdid her part, and was
      a little too extravagant in her liking of me. I knew that maiden
      aunts were not apt to be captivated by the mere personal merits
      of their nieces’ admirers, and I wanted to ascertain how much of
      all this favor I owed to my driving an equipage and having great

      I had received many hints how charming their native town was
      during the summer months; what pleasant society they had; and
      what beautiful drives about the neighborhood. They had not,
      therefore, returned home long, before I made my appearance in
      dashing style, driving down the principal street. It is an easy
      thing to put a little quiet cathedral town in a buzz. The very
      next morning I was seen at prayers, seated in the pew of the
      reigning belle. All the congregation was in a flutter. The
      prebends eyed me from their stalls; questions were whispered
      about the aisles after service, “who is he?” and “what is he?”
      and the replies were as usual—“A young gentleman of good family
      and fortune, and great expectations.”

      I was pleased with the peculiarities of a cathedral town, where I
      found I was a personage of some consequence. I was quite a
      brilliant acquisition to the young ladies of the cathedral
      circle, who were glad to have a beau that was not in a black coat
      and clerical wig.

      You must know that there was a vast distinction between the
      classes of society of the town. As it was a place of some trade,
      there were many wealthy inhabitants among the commercial and
      manufacturing classes, who lived in style and gave many
      entertainments. Nothing of trade, however, was admitted into the
      cathedral circle—faugh! the thing could not be thought of. The
      cathedral circle, therefore, was apt to be very select, very
      dignified, and very dull. They had evening parties, at which the
      old ladies played cards with the prebends, and the young ladies
      sat and looked on, and shifted from one chair to another about
      the room, until it was time to go home.

      It was difficult to get up a ball, from the want of partners, the
      Cathedral circle being very deficient in dancers; and on those
      occasions, there was an occasional drafting among the dancing men
      of the other circle, who, however, were generally regarded with
      great reserve and condescension by the gentlemen in powdered
      wigs. Several of the young ladies assured me, in confidence, that
      they had often looked with a wistful eye at the gayety of the
      other circle, where there was such plenty of young beaux, and
      where they all seemed to enjoy themselves so merrily; but that it
      would be degradation to think of descending from their sphere.

      I admired the degree of old-fashioned ceremony and superannuated
      courtesy that prevailed in this little place. The bowings and
      courtseyings that would take place about the cathedral porch
      after morning service, where knots of old gentlemen and ladies
      would collect together to ask after each other’s health, and
      settle the card party for the evening. The little presents of
      fruits and delicacies, and the thousand petty messages that would
      pass from house to house; for in a tranquil community like this,
      living entirely at ease, and having little to do, little duties
      and little civilities and little amusements, fill up the day. I
      have smiled, as I looked from my window on a quiet street near
      the cathedral, in the middle of a warm summer day, to see a
      corpulent powdered footman in rich livery, carrying a small tart
      on a large silver salver. A dainty titbit, sent, no doubt, by
      some worthy old dowager, to top off the dinner of her favorite

      Nothing could be more delectable, also, than the breaking up of
      one of their evening card parties. Such shaking of hands such
      mobbing up in cloaks and tippets! There were two or three old
      sedan chairs that did the duty of the whole place; though the
      greater part made their exit in clogs and pattens, with a footman
      or waiting-maid carrying a lanthorn in advance; and at a certain
      hour of the night the clank of pattens and the gleam of these
      jack lanthorns, here and there, about the quiet little town, gave
      notice that the cathedral card party had dissolved, and the
      luminaries were severally seeking their homes. To such a
      community, therefore, or at least to the female part of it, the
      accession of a gay, dashing young beau was a matter of some
      importance. The old ladies eyed me with complacency through their
      spectacles, and the young ladies pronounced me divine. Everybody
      received me favorably, excepting the gentleman who had written
      the Latin verses on the belle.—Not that he was jealous of my
      success with the lady, for he had no pretensions to her; but he
      heard my verses praised wherever he went, and he could not endure
      a rival with the muse.

      I was thus carrying every thing before me. I was the Adonis of
      the Cathedral circle; when one evening there was a public ball
      which was attended likewise by the gentry of the neighborhood. I
      took great pains with my toilet on the occasion, and I had never
      looked better. I had determined that night to make my grand
      assault on the heart of the young lady, to batter it with all my
      forces, and the next morning to demand a surrender in due form.

      I entered the ball-room amidst a buzz and flutter, which
      generally took place among the young ladies on my appearance. I
      was in fine spirits; for to tell the truth, I had exhilarated
      myself by a cheerful glass of wine on the occasion. I talked, and
      rattled, and said a thousand silly things, slap-dash, with all
      the confidence of a man sure of his auditors; and every thing had
      its effect.

      In the midst of my triumph I observed a little knot gathering
      together in the upper part of the room. By degrees it increased.
      A tittering broke out there; and glances were cast round at me,
      and then there would be fresh tittering. Some of the young ladies
      would hurry away to distant parts of the room, and whisper to
      their friends; wherever they went there was still this tittering
      and glancing at me. I did not know what to make of all this. I
      looked at myself from head to foot; and peeped at my back in a
      glass, to see if any thing was odd about my person; any awkward
      exposure; any whimsical tag hanging out—no—every thing was right.
      I was a perfect picture.

      I determined that it must be some choice saying of mine, that was
      handled about in this knot of merry beauties, and I determined to
      enjoy one of my good things in the rebound.

      I stepped gently, therefore, up the room, smiling at every one as
      I passed, who I must say all smiled and tittered in return. I
      approached the group, smirking and perking my chin, like a man
      who is full of pleasant feeling, and sure of being well received.
      The cluster of little belles opened as I advanced.

      Heavens and earth! whom should I perceive in the midst of them,
      but my early and tormenting flame, the everlasting Sacharissa!
      She was grown up, it is true, into the full beauty of womanhood,
      but showed by the provoking merriment of her countenance, that
      she perfectly recollected me, and the ridiculous flagellations of
      which she had twice been the cause.

      I saw at once the exterminating cloud of ridicule that was
      bursting over me. My crest fell. The flame of love went suddenly
      out in my bosom; or was extinguished by overwhelming shame. How I
      got down the room I know not; I fancied every one tittering at
      me. Just as I reached the door, I caught a glance of my mistress
      and her aunt, listening to the whispers of my poetic rival; the
      old lady raising her hands and eyes, and the face of the young
      one lighted up with scorn ineffable. I paused to see no more; but
      made two steps from the top of the stairs to the bottom. The next
      morning, before sunrise, I beat a retreat; and did not feel the
      blushes cool from my tingling cheeks until I had lost sight of
      the old towers of the cathedral.

      I now returned to town thoughtful and crestfallen. My money was
      nearly spent, for I had lived freely and without calculation. The
      dream of love was over, and the reign of pleasure at an end. I
      determined to retrench while I had yet a trifle left; so selling
      my equipage and horses for half their value, I quietly put the
      money in my pocket and turned pedestrian. I had not a doubt that,
      with my great expectations, I could at any time raise funds,
      either on usury or by borrowing; but I was principled against
      both one and the other; and resolved, by strict economy, to make
      my slender purse hold out, until my uncle should give up the
      ghost; or rather, the estate.

      I stayed at home, therefore, and read, and would have written;
      but I had already suffered too much from my poetical productions,
      which had generally involved me in some ridiculous scrape. I
      gradually acquired a rusty look, and had a straightened,
      money-borrowing air, upon which the world began to shy me. I have
      never felt disposed to quarrel with the world for its conduct. It
      has always used me well. When I have been flush, and gay, and
      disposed for society, it has caressed me; and when I have been
      pinched, and reduced, and wished to be alone, why, it has left me
      alone, and what more could a man desire?—Take my word for it,
      this world is a more obliging world than people generally
      represent it.

      Well, sir, in the midst of my retrenchment, my retirement, and my
      studiousness, I received news that my uncle was dangerously ill.
      I hastened on the wings of an heir’s affection to receive his
      dying breath and his last testament. I found him attended by his
      faithful valet, old Iron John; by the woman who occasionally
      worked about the house; and by the foxy-headed boy, young Orson,
      whom I had occasionally hunted about the park.

      Iron John gasped a kind of asthmatical salutation as I entered
      the room, and received me with something almost like a smile of
      welcome. The woman sat blubbering at the foot of the bed; and the
      foxy-headed Orson, who had now grown to be a lubberly lout, stood
      gazing in stupid vacancy at a distance.

      My uncle lay stretched upon his back. The chamber was without a
      fire, or any of the comforts of a sick-room. The cobwebs flaunted
      from the ceiling. The tester was covered with dust, and the
      curtains were tattered. From underneath the bed peeped out one
      end of his strong box. Against the wainscot were suspended rusty
      blunderbusses, horse pistols, and a cut-and-thrust sword, with
      which he had fortified his room to defend his life and treasure.
      He had employed no physician during his illness, and from the
      scanty relics lying on the table, seemed almost to have denied
      himself the assistance of a cook.

      When I entered the room he was lying motionless; with his eyes
      fixed and his mouth open; at the first look I thought him a
      corpse. The noise of my entrance made him turn his head. At the
      sight of me a ghastly smile came over his face, and his glazing
      eye gleamed with satisfaction. It was the only smile he had ever
      given me, and it went to my heart. “Poor old man!” thought I,
      “why would you not let me love you?—Why would you force me to
      leave you thus desolate, when I see that my presence has the
      power to cheer you?”

      “Nephew,” said he, after several efforts, and in a low gasping
      voice —“I am glad you are come. I shall now die with
      satisfaction. Look,” said he, raising his withered hand and
      pointing—“look—in that box on the table you will find that I have
      not forgotten you.”

      I pressed his hand to my heart, and the tears stood in my eyes. I
      sat down by his bed-side, and watched him, but he never spoke
      again. My presence, however, gave him evident satisfaction—for
      every now and then, as he looked at me, a vague smile would come
      over his visage, and he would feebly point to the sealed box on
      the table. As the day wore away, his life seemed to wear away
      with it. Towards sunset, his hand sunk on the bed and lay
      motionless; his eyes grew glazed; his mouth remained open, and
      thus he gradually died.

      I could not but feel shocked at this absolute extinction of my
      kindred. I dropped a tear of real sorrow over this strange old
      man, who had thus reserved his smile of kindness to his deathbed;
      like an evening sun after a gloomy day, just shining out to set
      in darkness. Leaving the corpse in charge of the domestics, I
      retired for the night.

      It was a rough night. The winds seemed as if singing my uncle’s
      requiem about the mansion; and the bloodhounds howled without as
      if they knew of the death of their old master. Iron John almost
      grudged me the tallow candle to burn in my apartment and light up
      its dreariness; so accustomed had he been to starveling economy.
      I could not sleep. The recollection of my uncle’s dying scene and
      the dreary sounds about the house, affected my mind. These,
      however, were succeeded by plans for the future, and I lay awake
      the greater part of the night, indulging the poetical
      anticipation, how soon I would make these old walls ring with
      cheerful life, and restore the hospitality of my mother’s

      My uncle’s funeral was decent, but private, I knew there was
      nobody That respected his memory; and I was determined that none
      should be summoned to sneer over his funeral wines, and make
      merry at his grave. He was buried in the church of the
      neighboring village, though it was not the burying place of his
      race; but he had expressly enjoined that he should not be buried
      with his family; he had quarrelled with the most of them when
      living, and he carried his resentments even into the grave.

      I defrayed the expenses of the funeral out of my own purse, that
      I might have done with the undertakers at once, and clear the
      ill-omened birds from the premises. I invited the parson of the
      parish, and the lawyer from the village to attend at the house
      the next morning and hear the reading of the will. I treated them
      to an excellent breakfast, a profusion that had not been seen at
      the house for many a year. As soon as the breakfast things were
      removed, I summoned Iron John, the woman, and the boy, for I was
      particular of having every one present and proceeding regularly.
      The box was placed on the table. All was silence. I broke the
      seal; raised the lid; and beheld—not the will, but my accursed
      poem of Doubting Castle and Giant Despair!

      Could any mortal have conceived that this old withered man; so
      taciturn, and apparently lost to feeling, could have treasured up
      for years the thoughtless pleasantry of a boy, to punish him with
      such cruel ingenuity? I could now account for his dying smile,
      the only one he had ever given me. He had been a grave man all
      his life; it was strange that he should die in the enjoyment of a
      joke; and it was hard that that joke should be at my expense.

      The lawyer and the parson seemed at a loss to comprehend the
      matter. “Here must be some mistake,” said the lawyer, “there is
      no will here.”

      “Oh,” said Iron John, creaking forth his rusty jaws, “if it is a
      will you are looking for, I believe I can find one.”

      He retired with the same singular smile with which he had greeted
      me on my arrival, and which I now apprehended boded me no good.
      In a little while he returned with a will perfect at all points,
      properly signed and sealed and witnessed; worded with horrible
      correctness; in which he left large legacies to Iron John and his
      daughter, and the residue of his fortune to the foxy-headed boy;
      who, to my utter astonishment, was his son by this very woman; he
      having married her privately; and, as I verily believe, for no
      other purpose than to have an heir, and so baulk my father and
      his issue of the inheritance. There was one little proviso, in
      which he mentioned that having discovered his nephew to have a
      pretty turn for poetry, he presumed he had no occasion for
      wealth; he recommended him, however, to the patronage of his
      heir; and requested that he might have a garret, rent free, in
      Doubting Castle.

      Mr. Buckthorne had paused at the death of his uncle, and the
      downfall of his great expectations, which formed, as he said, an
      epoch in his history; and it was not until some little time
      afterwards, and in a very sober mood, that he resumed his
      particolored narrative.

      After leaving the domains of my defunct uncle, said he, when the
      gate Closed between me and what was once to have been mine, I
      felt thrust out naked into the world, and completely abandoned to
      fortune. What was to become of me? I had been brought up to
      nothing but expectations, and they had all been disappointed. I
      had no relations to look to for counsel or assistance. The world
      seemed all to have died away from me. Wave after wave of
      relationship had ebbed off, and I was left a mere hulk upon the
      strand. I am not apt to be greatly cast down, but at this, time I
      felt sadly disheartened. I could not realize my situation, nor
      form a conjecture how I was to get forward.

      I was now to endeavor to make money. The idea was new and strange
      to me. It was like being asked to discover the philosopher’s
      stone. I had never thought about money, other than to put my hand
      into my pocket and find it, or if there were none there, to wait
      until a new supply came from home. I had considered life as a
      mere space of time to be filled up with enjoyments; but to have
      it portioned out into long hours and days of toil, merely that I
      might gain bread to give me strength to toil on; to labor but for
      the purpose of perpetuating a life of labor was new and appalling
      to me. This may appear a very simple matter to some, but it will
      be understood by every unlucky wight in my predicament, who has
      had the misfortune of being born to great expectations.

      I passed several days in rambling about the scenes of my boyhood;
      partly because I absolutely did not know what to do with myself,
      and partly because I did not know that I should ever see them
      again. I clung to them as one clings to a wreck, though he knows
      he must eventually cast himself loose and swim for his life. I
      sat down on a hill within sight of my paternal home, but I did
      not venture to approach it, for I felt compunction at the
      thoughtlessness with which I had dissipated my patrimony. But was
      I to blame, when I had the rich possessions of my curmudgeon of
      an uncle in expectation?

      The new possessor of the place was making great alterations. The
      house was almost rebuilt. The trees which stood about it were cut
      down; my mother’s flower-garden was thrown into a lawn; all was
      undergoing a change. I turned my back upon it with a sigh, and
      rambled to another part of the country.

      How thoughtful a little adversity makes one. As I came in sight
      of the school-house where I had so often been flogged in the
      cause of wisdom, you would hardly have recognized the truant boy
      who but a few years since had eloped so heedlessly from its
      walls. I leaned over the paling of the playground, and watched
      the scholars at their games, and looked to see if there might not
      be some urchin among them, like I was once, full of gay dreams
      about life and the world. The play-ground seemed smaller than
      when I used to sport about it. The house and park, too, of the
      neighboring squire, the father of the cruel Sacharissa, had
      shrunk in size and diminished in magnificence. The distant hills
      no longer appeared so far off, and, alas! no longer awakened
      ideas of a fairy land beyond.

      As I was rambling pensively through a neighboring meadow, in
      which I had many a time gathered primroses, I met the very
      pedagogue who had been the tyrant and dread of my boyhood. I had
      sometimes vowed to myself, when suffering under his rod, that I
      would have my revenge if ever I met him when I had grown to be a
      man. The time had come; but I had no disposition to keep my vow.
      The few years which had matured me into a vigorous man had shrunk
      him into decrepitude. He appeared to have had a paralytic stroke.
      I looked at him, and wondered that this poor helpless mortal
      could have been an object of terror to me! That I should have
      watched with anxiety the glance of that failing eye, or dreaded
      the power of that trembling hand! He tottered feebly along the
      path, and had some difficulty in getting over a stile. I ran and
      assisted him. He looked at me with surprise, but did not
      recognize me, and made a low bow of humility and thanks. I had no
      disposition to make myself known, for I felt that I had nothing
      to boast of. The pains he had taken and the pains he had
      inflicted had been equally useless. His repeated predictions were
      fully verified, and I felt that little Jack Buckthorne, the idle
      boy, had grown up to be a very good-for-nothing man.

      This is all very comfortless detail; but as I have told you of my
      follies, it is meet that I show you how for once I was schooled
      for them.

      The most thoughtless of mortals will some time or other have this
      day of gloom, when he will be compelled to reflect. I felt on
      this occasion as if I had a kind of penance to perform, and I
      made a pilgrimage in expiation of my past levity.

      Having passed a night at Leamington, I set off by a private path
      which leads up a hill, through a grove, and across quiet fields,
      until I came to the small village, or rather hamlet of Lenington.
      I sought the village church. It is an old low edifice of gray
      stone on the brow of a small hill, looking over fertile fields to
      where the proud towers of Warwick Castle lifted themselves
      against the distant horizon. A part of the church-yard is shaded
      by large trees. Under one of these my mother lay buried. You
      have, no doubt, thought me a light, heartless being. I thought
      myself so—but there are moments of adversity which let us into
      some feelings of our nature, to which we might otherwise remain
      perpetual strangers.

      I sought my mother’s grave. The weeds were already matted over
      it, and the tombstone was half hid among nettles. I cleared them
      away and they stung my hands; but I was heedless of the pain, for
      my heart ached too severely. I sat down on the grave, and read
      over and over again the epitaph on the stone. It was simple, but
      it was true. I had written it myself. I had tried to write a
      poetical epitaph, but in vain; my feelings refused to utter
      themselves in rhyme. My heart had gradually been filling during
      my lonely wanderings; it was now charged to the brim and
      overflowed. I sank upon the grave and buried my face in the tall
      grass and wept like a child. Yes, I wept in manhood upon the
      grave, as I had in infancy upon the bosom of my mother. Alas! how
      little do we appreciate a mother’s tenderness while living! How
      heedless are we in youth, of all her anxieties and kindness. But
      when she is dead and gone; when the cares and coldness of the
      world come withering to our hearts; when we find how hard it is
      to find true sympathy, how few love us for ourselves, how few
      will befriend us in our misfortunes; then it is we think of the
      mother we have lost. It is true I had always loved my mother,
      even in my most heedless days; but I felt how inconsiderate and
      ineffectual had been my love. My heart melted as I retraced the
      days of infancy, when I was led by a mother’s hand and rocked to
      sleep in a mother’s arms, and was without care or sorrow. “Oh, my
      mother!” exclaimed I, burying my face again in the grass of the
      grave—“Oh, that I were once more by your side; sleeping, never to
      wake again, on the cares and troubles of this world!”

      I am not naturally of a morbid temperament, and the violence of
      my emotion gradually exhausted itself. It was a hearty, honest,
      natural discharge of griefs which had been slowly accumulating,
      and gave me wonderful relief. I rose from the grave as if I had
      been offering up a sacrifice, and I felt as if that sacrifice had
      been accepted.

      I sat down again on the grass, and plucked, one by one, the weeds
      from her grave; the tears trickled more slowly down my cheeks,
      and ceased to be bitter. It was a comfort to think that she had
      died before sorrow and poverty came upon her child, and that all
      his great expectations were blasted.

      I leaned my cheek upon my hand and looked upon the landscape. Its
      quiet beauty soothed me. The whistle of a peasant from an
      adjoining field came cheerily to my ear. I seemed to respire hope
      and comfort with the free air that whispered through the leaves
      and played lightly with my hair, and dried the tears upon my
      cheek. A lark, rising from the field before me, and leaving, as
      it were, a stream of song behind him as he rose, lifted my fancy
      with him. He hovered in the air just above the place where the
      towers of Warwick Castle marked the horizon; and seemed as if
      fluttering with delight at his own melody. “Surely,” thought I,
      “if there were such a thing as transmigration of souls, this
      might be taken for some poet, let loose from earth, but still
      revelling in song, and carolling about fair fields and lordly

      At this moment the long forgotten feeling of poetry rose within
      me. A Thought sprung at once into my mind: “I will become an
      author,” said I. “I have hitherto indulged in poetry as a
      pleasure, and it has brought me nothing but pain. Let me try what
      it will do, when I cultivate it with devotion as a pursuit.”

      The resolution, thus suddenly aroused within me, heaved a load
      from off my heart. I felt a confidence in it from the very place
      where it was formed. It seemed as though my mother’s spirit
      whispered it to me from her grave. “I will henceforth,” said I,
      “endeavor to be all that she fondly imagined me. I will endeavor
      to act as if she were witness of my actions. I will endeavor to
      acquit myself in such manner, that when I revisit her grave there
      may, at least, be no compunctious bitterness in my tears.”

      I bowed down and kissed the turf in solemn attestation of my vow.
      I plucked some primroses that were growing there and laid them
      next my heart. I left the church-yard with my spirits once more
      lifted up, and set out a third time for London, in the character
      of an author.

      Here my companion made a pause, and I waited in anxious suspense;
      hoping to have a whole volume of literary life unfolded to me. He
      seemed, however, to have sunk into a fit of pensive musing; and
      when after some time I gently roused him by a question or two as
      to his literary career. “No,” said he smiling, “over that part of
      my story I wish to leave a cloud. Let the mysteries of the craft
      rest sacred for me. Let those who have never adventured into the
      republic of letters, still look upon it as a fairy land. Let them
      suppose the author the very being they picture him from his
      works; I am not the man to mar their illusion. I am not the man
      to hint, while one is admiring the silken web of Persia, that it
      has been spun from the entrails of a miserable worm.”

      “Well,” said I, “if you will tell me nothing of your literary
      history, let me know at least if you have had any farther
      intelligence from Doubting Castle.”

      “Willingly,” replied he, “though I have but little to


      A long time elapsed, said Buckthorne, without my receiving any
      accounts of my cousin and his estate. Indeed, I felt so much
      soreness on the subject, that I wished, if possible, to shut it
      from my thoughts. At length chance took me into that part of the
      country, and I could not refrain from making some inquiries.

      I learnt that my cousin had grown up ignorant, self-willed, and
      clownish. His ignorance and clownishness had prevented his
      mingling with the neighboring gentry. In spite of his great
      fortune he had been unsuccessful in an attempt to gain the hand
      of the daughter of the parson, and had at length shrunk into the
      limits of such society as a mere man of wealth can gather in a
      country neighborhood.

      He kept horses and hounds and a roaring table, at which were
      collected the loose livers of the country round, and the shabby
      gentlemen of a village in the vicinity. When he could get no
      other company he would smoke and drink with his own servants, who
      in their turns fleeced and despised him. Still, with all this
      apparent prodigality, he had a leaven of the old man in him,
      which showed that he was his true-born son. He lived far within
      his income, was vulgar in his expenses, and penurious on many
      points on which a gentleman would be extravagant. His house
      servants were obliged occasionally to work on the estate, and
      part of the pleasure grounds were ploughed up and devoted to

      His table, though plentiful, was coarse; his liquors strong and
      bad; and more ale and whiskey were expended in his establishment
      than generous wine. He was loud and arrogant at his own table,
      and exacted a rich man’s homage from his vulgar and obsequious

      As to Iron John, his old grandfather, he had grown impatient of
      the tight hand his own grandson kept over him, and quarrelled
      with him soon after he came to the estate. The old man had
      retired to a neighboring village where he lived on the legacy of
      his late master, in a small cottage, and was as seldom seen out
      of it as a rat out of his hole in daylight.

      The cub, like Caliban, seemed to have an instinctive attachment
      to his mother. She resided with him; but, from long habit, she
      acted more as servant than as mistress of the mansion; for she
      toiled in all the domestic drudgery, and was oftener in the
      kitchen than the parlor. Such was the information which I
      collected of my rival cousin, who had so unexpectedly elbowed me
      out of all my expectations.

      I now felt an irresistible hankering to pay a visit to this scene
      of my boyhood; and to get a peep at the odd kind of life that was
      passing within the mansion of my maternal ancestors. I determined
      to do so in disguise. My booby cousin had never seen enough of me
      to be very familiar with my countenance, and a few years make
      great difference between youth and manhood. I understood he was a
      breeder of cattle and proud of his stock. I dressed myself,
      therefore, as a substantial farmer, and with the assistance of a
      red scratch that came low down on my forehead, made a complete
      change in my physiognomy.

      It was past three o’clock when I arrived at the gate of the park,
      and Was admitted by an old woman, who was washing in a
      dilapidated building which had once been a porter’s lodge. I
      advanced up the remains of a noble avenue, many of the trees of
      which had been cut down and sold for timber. The grounds were in
      scarcely better keeping than during my uncle’s lifetime. The
      grass was overgrown with weeds, and the trees wanted pruning and
      clearing of dead branches. Cattle were grazing about the lawns,
      and ducks and geese swimming in the fishponds.

      The road to the house bore very few traces of carriage wheels, as
      my cousin received few visitors but such as came on foot or on
      horseback, and never used a carriage himself. Once, indeed, as I
      was told, he had had the old family carriage drawn out from among
      the dust and cobwebs of the coachhouse and furbished up, and had
      drove, with his mother, to the village church to take formal
      possession of the family pew; but there was such hooting and
      laughing after them as they passed through the village, and such
      giggling and bantering about the church door, that the pageant
      had never made a reappearance.

      As I approached the house, a legion of whelps sallied out barking
      at me, accompanied by the low howling, rather than barking, of
      two old worn-out bloodhounds, which I recognized for the ancient
      life-guards of my uncle. The house had still a neglected, random
      appearance, though much altered for the better since my last
      visit. Several of the windows were broken and patched up with
      boards; and others had been bricked up to save taxes. I observed
      smoke, however, rising from the chimneys; a phenomenon rarely
      witnessed in the ancient establishment. On passing that part of
      the house where the dining-room was situated, I heard the sound
      of boisterous merriment; where three or four voices were talking
      at once, and oaths and laughter were horribly mingled.

      The uproar of the dogs had brought a servant to the door, a tall,
      hard-fisted country clown, with a livery coat put over the
      under-garments of a ploughman. I requested to see the master of
      the house, but was told he was at dinner with some “gemmen” of
      the neighborhood. I made known my business and sent in to know if
      I might talk with the master about his cattle; for I felt a great
      desire to have a peep at him at his orgies. Word was returned
      that he was engaged with company, and could not attend to
      business, but that if I would “step in and take a drink of
      something, I was heartily welcome.” I accordingly entered the
      hall, where whips and hats of all kinds and shapes were lying on
      an oaken table, two or three clownish servants were lounging
      about; everything had a look of confusion and carelessness.

      The apartments through which I passed had the same air of
      departed gentility and sluttish housekeeping. The once rich
      curtains were faded and dusty; the furniture greased and
      tarnished. On entering the dining-room I found a number of odd,
      vulgar-looking, rustic gentlemen seated round a table, on which
      were bottles, decanters, tankards, pipes, and tobacco. Several
      dogs were lying about the room, or sitting and watching their
      masters, and one was gnawing a bone under a side-table.

      The master of the feast sat at the head of the board. He was
      greatly altered. He had grown thick-set and rather gummy, with a
      fiery, foxy head of hair. There was a singular mixture of
      foolishness, arrogance, and conceit in his countenance. He was
      dressed in a vulgarly fine style, with leather breeches, a red
      waistcoat, and green coat, and was evidently, like his guests, a
      little flushed with drinking. The whole company stared at me with
      a whimsical muggy look, like men whose senses were a little
      obfuscated by beer rather than wine.

      My cousin, (God forgive me! the appellation sticks in my throat,)
      my cousin invited me with awkward civility, or, as he intended
      it, condescension, to sit to the table and drink. We talked, as
      usual, about the weather, the crops, politics, and hard times. My
      cousin was a loud politician, and evidently accustomed to talk
      without contradiction at his own table. He was amazingly loyal,
      and talked of standing by the throne to the last guinea, “as
      every gentleman of fortune should do.” The village exciseman, who
      was half asleep, could just ejaculate, “very true,” to every
      thing he said.

      The conversation turned upon cattle; he boasted of his breed, his
      mode of managing it, and of the general management of his estate.
      This unluckily drew on a history of the place and of the family.
      He spoke of my late uncle with the greatest irreverence, which I
      could easily forgive. He mentioned my name, and my blood began to
      boil. He described my frequent visits to my uncle when I was a
      lad, and I found the varlet, even at that time, imp as he was,
      had known that he was to inherit the estate.

      He described the scene of my uncle’s death, and the opening of
      the will, with a degree of coarse humor that I had not expected
      from him, and, vexed as I was, I could not help joining in the
      laugh, for I have always relished a joke, even though made at my
      own expense. He went on to speak of my various pursuits; my
      strolling freak, and that somewhat nettled me. At length he
      talked of my parents. He ridiculed my father: I stomached even
      that, though with great difficulty. He mentioned my mother with a
      sneer—and in an instant he lay sprawling at my feet.

      Here a scene of tumult succeeded. The table was nearly
      overturned. Bottles, glasses, and tankards, rolled crashing and
      clattering about the floor. The company seized hold of both of us
      to keep us from doing farther mischief. I struggled to get loose,
      for I was boiling with fury. My cousin defied me to strip and
      fight him on the lawn. I agreed; for I felt the strength of a
      giant in me, and I longed to pummel him soundly.

      Away then we were borne. A ring was formed. I had a second
      assigned me in true boxing style. My cousin, as he advanced to
      fight, said something about his generosity in showing me such
      fair play, when I had made such an unprovoked attack upon him at
      his own table.

      “Stop there!” cried I, in a rage—“unprovoked!—know that I am John
      Buckthorne, and you have insulted the memory of my mother.”

      The lout was suddenly struck by what I said. He drew back and
      reflected for a moment.

      “Nay, damn it,” said he, “that’s too much—that’s clear another
      thing. I’ve a mother myself, and no one shall speak ill of her,
      bad as she is.”

      He paused again. Nature seemed to have a rough struggle in his
      rude bosom.

      “Damn it, cousin,” cried he, “I’m sorry for what I said. Thou’st
      served me right in knocking me down, and I like thee the better
      for it. Here’s my hand. Come and live with me, and damme but the
      best room in the house, and the best horse in the stable, shall
      be at thy service.”

      I declare to you I was strongly moved at this instance of nature
      breaking her way through such a lump of flesh. I forgave the
      fellow in a moment all his crimes of having been born in wedlock
      and inheriting my estate. I shook the hand he offered me, to
      convince him that I bore him no ill will; and then making my way
      through the gaping crowd of toad-eaters, bade adieu to my uncle’s
      domains forever. This is the last I have seen or heard of my
      cousin, or of the domestic concerns of Doubting Castle.


      As I was walking one morning with Buckthorne, near one of the
      Principal theaters, he directed my attention to a group of those
      equivocal beings that may often be seen hovering about the
      stage-doors of theaters. They were marvellously ill-favored in
      their attire, their coats buttoned up to their chins; yet they
      wore their hats smartly on one side, and had a certain knowing,
      dirty-gentlemanlike air, which is common to the subalterns of the
      drama. Buckthorne knew them well by early experience.

      These, said he, are the ghosts of departed kings and heroes;
      fellows who sway sceptres and truncheons; command kingdoms and
      armies; and after giving way realms and treasures over night,
      have scarce a shilling to pay for a breakfast in the morning. Yet
      they have the true vagabond abhorrence of all useful and
      industrious employment; and they have their pleasures too: one of
      which is to lounge in this way in the sunshine, at the
      stage-door, during rehearsals, and make hackneyed theatrical
      jokes on all passers-by.

      Nothing is more traditional and legitimate than the stage. Old
      scenery, old clothes, old sentiments, old ranting, and old jokes,
      are handed down from generation to generation; and will probably
      continue to be so, until time shall be no more. Every hanger-on
      of a theater becomes a wag by inheritance, and flourishes about
      at tap-rooms and six-penny clubs, with the property jokes of the

      While amusing ourselves with reconnoitring this group, we noticed
      one in particular who appeared to be the oracle. He was a
      weather-beaten veteran, a little bronzed by time and beer, who
      had no doubt, grown gray in the parts of robbers, cardinals,
      Roman senators, and walking noblemen.

      “There’s something in the set of that hat, and the turn of that
      physiognomy, that is extremely familiar to me,” said Buckthorne.
      He looked a little closer. “I cannot be mistaken,” added he,
      “that must be my old brother of the truncheon, Flimsey, the
      tragic hero of the strolling company.”

      It was he in fact. The poor fellow showed evident signs that
      times went hard with him; he was so finely and shabbily dressed.
      His coat was somewhat threadbare, and of the Lord Townly cut;
      single-breasted, and scarcely capable of meeting in front of his
      body; which, from long intimacy, had acquired the symmetry and
      robustness of a beer-barrel. He wore a pair of dingy white
      stockinet pantaloons, which had much ado to reach his waistcoat;
      a great quantity of dirty cravat; and a pair of old
      russet-colored tragedy boots.

      When his companions had dispersed, Buckthorne drew him aside and
      made Himself known to him. The tragic veteran could scarcely
      recognize him, or believe that he was really his quondam
      associate “little gentleman Jack.” Buckthorne invited him to a
      neighboring coffee-house to talk over old times; and in the
      course of a little while we were put in possession of his history
      in brief.

      He had continued to act the heroes in the strolling company for
      some time after Buckthorne had left it, or rather had been driven
      from it so abruptly. At length the manager died, and the troop
      was thrown into confusion. Every one aspired to the crown; every
      one was for taking the lead; and the manager’s widow, although a
      tragedy queen, and a brimstone to boot, pronounced it utterly
      impossible to keep any control over such a set of tempestuous

      Upon this hint I spoke, said Flimsey—I stepped forward, and
      offered my services in the most effectual way. They were
      accepted. In a week’s time I married the widow and succeeded to
      the throne. “The funeral baked meats did coldly furnish forth the
      marriage table,” as Hamlet says. But the ghost of my predecessor
      never haunted me; and I inherited crowns, sceptres, bowls,
      daggers, and all the stage trappings and trumpery, not omitting
      the widow, without the least molestation.

      I now led a flourishing life of it; for our company was pretty
      strong And attractive, and as my wife and I took the heavy parts
      of tragedy, it was a great saving to the treasury. We carried off
      the palm from all the rival shows at country fairs; and I assure
      you we have even drawn full houses, and being applauded by the
      critics at Bartlemy fair itself, though we had Astley’s troupe,
      the Irish giant, and “the death of Nelson” in wax-work to contend

      I soon began to experience, however, the cares of command. I
      discovered that there were cabals breaking out in the company,
      headed by the clown, who you may recollect was a terribly
      peevish, fractious fellow, and always in ill-humor. I had a great
      mind to turn him off at once, but I could not do without him, for
      there was not a droller scoundrel on the stage. His very shape
      was comic, for he had to turn his back upon the audience and all
      the ladies were ready to die with laughing. He felt his
      importance, and took advantage of it. He would keep the audience
      in a continual roar, and then come behind the scenes and fret and
      fume and play the very devil. I excused a great deal in him,
      however, knowing that comic actors are a little prone to this
      infirmity of temper.

      I had another trouble of a nearer and dearer nature to struggle
      with; which was, the affection of my wife. As ill luck would have
      it, she took it into her head to be very fond of me, and became
      intolerably jealous. I could not keep a pretty girl in the
      company, and hardly dared embrace an ugly one, even when my part
      required it. I have known her to reduce a fine lady to tatters,
      “to very rags,” as Hamlet says, in an instant, and destroy one of
      the very best dresses in the wardrobe; merely because she saw me
      kiss her at the side scenes;—though I give you my honor it was
      done merely by way of rehearsal.

      This was doubly annoying, because I have a natural liking to
      pretty faces, and wish to have them about me; and because they
      are indispensable to the success of a company at a fair, where
      one has to vie with so many rival theatres. But when once a
      jealous wife gets a freak in her head there’s no use in talking
      of interest or anything else. Egad, sirs, I have more than once
      trembled when, during a fit of her tantrums, she was playing high
      tragedy, and flourishing her tin dagger on the stage, lest she
      should give way to her humor, and stab some fancied rival in good

      I went on better, however, than could be expected, considering
      the weakness of my flesh and the violence of my rib. I had not a
      much worse time of it than old Jupiter, whose spouse was
      continually ferreting out some new intrigue and making the
      heavens almost too hot to hold him.

      At length, as luck would have it, we were performing at a country
      fair, when I understood the theatre of a neighboring town to be
      vacant. I had always been desirous to be enrolled in a settled
      company, and the height of my desire was to get on a par with a
      brother-in-law, who was manager of a regular theatre, and who had
      looked down upon me. Here was an opportunity not to be neglected.
      I concluded an agreement with the proprietors, and in a few days
      opened the theatre with great eclát.

      Behold me now at the summit of my ambition, “the high top-gallant
      of my joy,” as Thomas says. No longer a chieftain of a wandering
      tribe, but the monarch of a legitimate throne—and entitled to
      call even the great potentates of Covent Garden and Drury Lane

      You no doubt think my happiness complete. Alas, sir! I was one of
      the Most uncomfortable dogs living. No one knows, who has not
      tried, the miseries of a manager; but above all, of a country
      management—no one can conceive the contentions and quarrels
      within doors, the oppressions and vexations from without.

      I was pestered with the bloods and loungers of a country town,
      who infested my green-room, and played the mischief among my
      actresses. But there was no shaking them off. It would have been
      ruin to affront them; for, though troublesome friends, they would
      have been dangerous enemies. Then there were the village critics
      and village amateurs, who were continually tormenting me with
      advice, and getting into a passion if I would not take
      it:—especially the village doctor and the village attorney; who
      had both been to London occasionally, and knew what acting should

      I had also to manage as arrant a crew of scapegraces as were ever
      collected together within the walls of a theatre. I had been
      obliged to combine my original troupe with some of the former
      troupe of the theatre, who were favorites with the public. Here
      was a mixture that produced perpetual ferment. They were all the
      time either fighting or frolicking with each other, and I
      scarcely knew which mood was least troublesome. If they
      quarrelled, everything went wrong; and if they were friends, they
      were continually playing off some confounded prank upon each
      other, or upon me; for I had unhappily acquired among them the
      character of an easy, good natured fellow, the worst character
      that a manager can possess.

      Their waggery at times drove me almost crazy; for there is
      nothing so Vexatious as the hackneyed tricks and hoaxes and
      pleasantries of a veteran band of theatrical vagabonds. I
      relished them well enough, it is true, while I was merely one of
      the company, but as manager I found them detestable. They were
      incessantly bringing some disgrace upon the theatre by their
      tavern frolics, and their pranks about the country town. All my
      lectures upon the importance of keeping up the dignity of the
      profession, and the respectability of the company were in vain.
      The villains could not sympathize with the delicate feelings of a
      man in station. They even trifled with the seriousness of stage
      business. I have had the whole piece interrupted, and a crowded
      audience of at least twenty-five pounds kept waiting, because the
      actors had hid away the breeches of Rosalind, and have known
      Hamlet stalk solemnly on to deliver his soliloquy, with a
      dish-clout pinned to his skirts. Such are the baleful
      consequences of a manager’s getting a character for good nature.

      I was intolerably annoyed, too, by the great actors who came down
      _starring_, as it is called, from London. Of all baneful
      influences, keep me from that of a London star. A first-rate
      actress going the rounds of the country theatres, is as bad as a
      blazing comet, whisking about the heavens, and shaking fire, and
      plagues, and discords from its tail.

      The moment one of these “heavenly bodies” appeared on my horizon,
      I was sure to be in hot water. My theatre was overrun by
      provincial dandies, copper-washed counterfeits of Bond street
      loungers; who are always proud to be in the train of an actress
      from town, and anxious to be thought on exceeding good terms with
      her. It was really a relief to me when some random young nobleman
      would come in pursuit of the bait, and awe all this small fry to
      a distance. I have always felt myself more at ease with a
      nobleman than with the dandy of a country town.

      And then the injuries I suffered in my personal dignity and my
      managerial authority from the visits of these great London
      actors. Sir, I was no longer master of myself or my throne. I was
      hectored and lectured in my own green-room, and made an absolute
      nincompoop on my own stage. There is no tyrant so absolute and
      capricious as a London star at a country theatre.

      I dreaded the sight of all of them; and yet if I did not engage
      them, I was sure of having the public clamorous against me. They
      drew full houses, and appeared to be making my fortune; but they
      swallowed up all the profits by their insatiable demands. They
      were absolute tape-worms to my little theatre; the more it took
      in, the poorer it grew. They were sure to leave me with an
      exhausted public, empty benches, and a score or two of affronts
      to settle among the townsfolk, in consequence of
      misunderstandings about the taking of places.

      But the worst thing I had to undergo in my managerial career was
      patronage. Oh, sir, of all things deliver me from the patronage
      of the great people of a country town. It was my ruin. You must
      know that this town, though small, was filled with feuds, and
      parties, and great folks; being a busy little trading and
      manufacturing town. The mischief was that their greatness was of
      a kind not to be settled by reference to the court calendar, or
      college of heraldry. It was therefore the most quarrelsome kind
      of greatness in existence. You smile, sir, but let me tell you
      there are no feuds more furious than the frontier feuds, which
      take place on these “debatable lands” of gentility. The most
      violent dispute that I ever knew in high life, was one that
      occurred at a country town, on a question of precedence between
      the ladies of a manufacturer of pins and a manufacturer of

      At the town where I was situated there were perpetual
      altercations of the kind. The head manufacturer’s lady, for
      instance, was at daggers drawings with the head shopkeeper’s, and
      both were too rich and had too many friends to be treated
      lightly. The doctor’s and lawyer’s ladies held their heads still
      higher; but they in their turn were kept in check by the wife of
      a country banker, who kept her own carriage; while a masculine
      widow of cracked character, and second-hand fashion, who lived in
      a large house, and was in some way related to nobility, looked
      down upon them all. She had been exiled from the great world, but
      here she ruled absolute. To be sure her manners were not
      over-elegant, nor her fortune over-large; but then, sir, her
      blood—oh, her blood carried it all hollow, there was no
      withstanding a woman with such blood in her veins.

      After all, she had frequent battles for precedence at balls and
      assemblies, with some of the sturdy dames of the neighborhood,
      who stood upon their wealth and their reputations; but then she
      had two dashing daughters, who dressed as fine as dragons, and
      had as high blood as their mother, and seconded her in
      everything. So they carried their point with high heads, and
      every body hated, abused, and stood in awe of the Fantadlins.

      Such was the state of the fashionable world in this
      self-important little town. Unluckily I was not as well
      acquainted with its politics as I should have been. I had found
      myself a stranger and in great perplexities during my first
      season; I determined, therefore, to put myself under the
      patronage of some powerful name, and thus to take the field with
      the prejudices of the public in my favor. I cast round my
      thoughts for the purpose, and in an evil hour they fell upon Mrs.
      Fantadlin. No one seemed to me to have a more absolute sway in
      the world of fashion. I had always noticed that her party slammed
      the box door the loudest at the theatre; had most beaux attending
      on them; and talked and laughed loudest during the performance;
      and then the Miss Fantadlins wore always more feathers and
      flowers than any other ladies; and used quizzing glasses
      incessantly. The first evening of my theatre’s reopening,
      therefore, was announced in flaring capitals on the play bills,
      “under the patronage of the Honorable Mrs. Fantadlin,”

      Sir, the whole community flew to arms! The banker’s wife felt her
      Dignity grievously insulted at not having the preference; her
      husband being high bailiff, and the richest man in the place. She
      immediately issued invitations for a large party, for the night
      of the performance, and asked many a lady to it whom she never
      had noticed before. The fashionable world had long groaned under
      the tyranny of the Fantadlins, and were glad to make a common
      cause against this new instance of assumption.—Presume to
      patronize the theatre! insufferable! Those, too, who had never
      before been noticed by the banker’s lady, were ready to enlist in
      any quarrel, for the honor of her acquaintance. All minor feuds
      were therefore forgotten. The doctor’s lady and the lawyer’s lady
      met together; and the manufacturer’s lady and the shopkeeper’s
      lady kissed each other, and all, headed by the banker’s lady,
      voted the theatre a _bore_, and determined to encourage nothing
      but the Indian Jugglers, and Mr. Walker’s Eidonianeon.

      Alas for poor Pillgarlick! I little knew the mischief that was
      brewing against me. My box book remained blank. The evening
      arrived, but no audience. The music struck up to a tolerable pit
      and gallery, but no fashionables! I peeped anxiously from behind
      the curtain, but the time passed away; the play was retarded
      until pit and gallery became furious; and I had to raise the
      curtain, and play my greatest part in tragedy to “a beggarly
      account of empty boxes.”

      It is true the Fantadlins came late, as was their custom, and
      entered like a tempest, with a flutter of feathers and red
      shawls; but they were evidently disconcerted at finding they had
      no one to admire and envy them, and were enraged at this glaring
      defection of their fashionable followers. All the beau-monde were
      engaged at the banker’s lady’s rout. They remained for some time
      in solitary and uncomfortable state, and though they had the
      theatre almost to themselves, yet, for the first time, they
      talked in whispers. They left the house at the end of the first
      piece, and I never saw them afterwards.

      Such was the rock on which I split. I never got over the
      patronage of the Fantadlin family. It became the vogue to abuse
      the theatre and declare the performers shocking. An equestrian
      troupe opened a circus in the town about the same time, and rose
      on my ruins. My house was deserted; my actors grew discontented
      because they were ill paid; my door became a hammering-place for
      every bailiff in the county; and my wife became more and more
      shrewish and tormenting, the more I wanted comfort.

      The establishment now became a scene of confusion and peculation.
      I Was considered a ruined man, and of course fair game for every
      one to pluck at, as every one plunders a sinking ship. Day after
      day some of the troupe deserted, and like deserting soldiers,
      carried off their arms and accoutrements with them. In this
      manner my wardrobe took legs and walked away; my finery strolled
      all over the country; my swords and daggers glittered in every
      barn; until at last my tailor made “one fell swoop,” and carried
      off three dress coats, half a dozen doublets, and nineteen pair
      of flesh-colored pantaloons.

      This was the “be all and the end all” of my fortune. I no longer
      hesitated what to do. Egad, thought I, since stealing is the
      order of the day, I’ll steal too. So I secretly gathered together
      the jewels of my wardrobe; packed up a hero’s dress in a
      handkerchief, slung it on the end of a tragedy sword, and quietly
      stole off at dead of night—“the bell then beating one,”—leaving
      my queen and kingdom to the mercy of my rebellious subjects, and
      my merciless foes, the bum-bailiffs.

      Such, sir, was the “end of all my greatness.” I was heartily
      cured of All passion for governing, and returned once more into
      the ranks. I had for some time the usual run of an actor’s life.
      I played in various country theatres, at fairs, and in barns;
      sometimes hard pushed; sometimes flush, until on one occasion I
      came within an ace of making my fortune, and becoming one of the
      wonders of the age.

      I was playing the part of Richard the Third in a country barn,
      and Absolutely “out-Heroding Herod.” An agent of one of the great
      London theatres was present. He was on the lookout for something
      that might be got up as a prodigy. The theatre, it seems, was in
      desperate condition—nothing but a miracle could save it. He
      pitched upon me for that miracle. I had a remarkable bluster in
      my style, and swagger in my gait, and having taken to drink a
      little during my troubles, my voice was somewhat cracked; so that
      it seemed like two voices run into one. The thought struck the
      agent to bring me out as a theatrical wonder; as the restorer of
      natural and legitimate acting; as the only one who could
      understand and act Shakespeare rightly. He waited upon me the
      next morning, and opened his plan. I shrunk from it with becoming
      modesty; for well as I thought of myself, I felt myself unworthy
      of such praise.

      “‘Sblood, man!” said he, “no praise at all. You don’t imagine
      that I think you all this. I only want the public to think so.
      Nothing so easy as gulling the public if you only set up a
      prodigy. You need not try to act well, you must only act
      furiously. No matter what you do, or how you act, so that it be
      but odd and strange. We will have all the pit packed, and the
      newspapers hired. Whatever you do different from famous actors,
      it shall be insisted that you are right and they were wrong. If
      you rant, it shall be pure passion; if you are vulgar, it shall
      be a touch of nature. Every one shall be prepared to fall into
      raptures, and shout and yell, at certain points which you shall
      make. If you do but escape pelting the first night, your fortune
      and the fortune of the theatre is made.”

      I set off for London, therefore, full of new hopes. I was to be
      the restorer of Shakespeare and nature, and the legitimate drama;
      my very swagger was to be heroic, and my cracked voice the
      standard of elocution. Alas, sir! my usual luck attended me.
      Before I arrived in the metropolis, a rival wonder had appeared.
      A woman who could dance the slack rope, and run up a cord from
      the stage to the gallery with fire-works all round her. She was
      seized on by the management with avidity; she was the saving of
      the great national theatre for the season. Nothing was talked of
      but Madame Saqui’s fire-works and flame-colored pantaloons; and
      nature, Shakespeare, the legitimate drama, and poor Pillgarlick
      were completely left in the lurch.

      However, as the manager was in honor bound to provide for me, he
      kept his word. It had been a turn-up of a die whether I should be
      Alexander the Great or Alexander the copper-smith; the latter
      carried it. I could not be put at the head of the drama, so I was
      put at the tail. In other words, I was enrolled among the number
      of what are called useful men; who, let me tell you, are the only
      comfortable actors on the stage. We are safe from hisses and
      below the hope of applause. We fear not the success of rivals,
      nor dread the critic’s pen. So long as we get the words of our
      parts, and they are not often many, it is all we care for. We
      have our own merriment, our own friends, and our own admirers;
      for every actor has his friends and admirers, from the highest to
      the lowest. The first-rate actor dines with the noble amateur,
      and entertains a fashionable table with scraps and songs and
      theatrical slip-slop. The second-rate actors have their
      second-rate friends and admirers, with whom they likewise spout
      tragedy and talk slip-slop; and so down even to us; who have our
      friends and admirers among spruce clerks and aspiring
      apprentices, who treat us to a dinner now and then, and enjoy at
      tenth hand the same scraps and songs and slip-slop that have been
      served up by our more fortunate brethren at the tables of the

      I now, for the first time in my theatrical life, knew what true
      pleasure is. I have known enough of notoriety to pity the poor
      devils who are called favorites of the public. I would rather be
      a kitten in the arms of a spoiled child, to be one moment petted
      and pampered, and the next moment thumped over the head with the
      spoon. I smile, too, to see our leading actors, fretting
      themselves with envy and jealousy about a trumpery renown,
      questionable in its quality and uncertain in its duration. I
      laugh, too, though of course in my sleeve, at the bustle and
      importance and trouble and perplexities of our manager, who is
      harassing himself to death in the hopeless effort to please every

      I have found among my fellow subalterns two or three quondam
      managers, who, like myself, have wielded the sceptres of country
      theatres; and we have many a sly joke together at the expense of
      the manager and the public. Sometimes, too, we meet like deposed
      and exiled kings, talk over the events of our respective reigns;
      moralize over a tankard of ale, and laugh at the humbug of the
      great and little world; which, I take it, is the very essence of
      practical philosophy.

      Thus end the anecdotes of Buckthorne and his friends. A few
      mornings after our hearing the history of the ex-manager, he
      bounced into my room before I was out of bed.

      “Give me joy! give me joy!” said he, rubbing his hands with the
      utmost glee, “my great expectations are realized!”

      I stared at him with a look of wonder and inquiry. “My booby
      cousin is dead!” cried he, “may he rest in peace! He nearly broke
      his neck in a fall from his horse in a fox-chase. By good luck he
      lived long enough to make his will. He has made me his heir,
      partly out of an odd feeling of retributive justice, and partly
      because, as he says, none of his own family or friends know how
      to enjoy such an estate. I’m off to the country to take
      possession. I’ve done with authorship.—That for the critics!”
      said he, snapping his fingers. “Come down to Doubting Castle when
      I get settled, and egad! I’ll give you a rouse.” So saying he
      shook me heartily by the hand and bounded off in high spirits.

      A long time elapsed before I heard from him again. Indeed, it was
      but a short time since that I received a letter written in the
      happiest of moods. He was getting the estate into fine order,
      everything went to his wishes, and what was more, he was married
      to Sacharissa: who, it seems, had always entertained an ardent
      though secret attachment for him, which he fortunately discovered
      just after coming to his estate.

      “I find,” said he, “you are a little given to the sin of
      authorship which I renounce. If the anecdotes I have given you of
      my story are of any interest, you may make use of them; but come
      down to Doubting Castle and see how we live, and I’ll give you my
      whole London life over a social glass; and a rattling history it
      shall be about authors and reviewers.”

      If ever I visit Doubting Castle, and get the history he promises,
      the Public shall be sure to hear of it.



      Crack! crack! crack! crack! crack!

      “Here comes the estafette from Naples,” said mine host of the inn
      at Terracina, “bring out the relay.”

      The estafette came as usual galloping up the road, brandishing
      over his head a short-handled whip, with a long knotted lash;
      every smack of which made a report like a pistol. He was a tight
      square-set young fellow, in the customary uniform—a smart blue
      coat, ornamented with facings and gold lace, but so short behind
      as to reach scarcely below his waistband, and cocked up not
      unlike the tail of a wren. A cocked hat, edged with gold lace; a
      pair of stiff riding boots; but instead of the usual leathern
      breeches he had a fragment of a pair of drawers that scarcely
      furnished an apology for modesty to hide behind.

      The estafette galloped up to the door and jumped from his horse.

      “A glass of rosolio, a fresh horse, and a pair of breeches,” said
      he, “and quickly—I am behind my time, and must be off.”

      “San Genaro!” replied the host, “why, where hast thou left thy

      “Among the robbers between this and Fondi.”

      “What! rob an estafette! I never heard of such folly. What could
      they hope to get from thee?”

      “My leather breeches!” replied the estafette. “They were bran
      new, and shone like gold, and hit the fancy of the captain.”

      “Well, these fellows grow worse and worse. To meddle with an
      estafette! And that merely for the sake of a pair of leather

      The robbing of a government messenger seemed to strike the host
      with More astonishment than any other enormity that had taken
      place on the road; and indeed it was the first time so wanton an
      outrage had been committed; the robbers generally taking care not
      to meddle with any thing belonging to government.

      The estafette was by this time equipped; for he had not lost an
      instant in making his preparations while talking. The relay was
      ready: the rosolio tossed off. He grasped the reins and the

      “Were there many robbers in the band?” said a handsome, dark
      young man, stepping forward from the door of the inn.

      “As formidable a band as ever I saw,” said the estafette,
      springing into the saddle.

      “Are they cruel to travellers?” said a beautiful young Venetian
      lady, who had been hanging on the gentleman’s arm.

      “Cruel, signora!” echoed the estafette, giving a glance at the
      lady as he put spurs to his horse. “_Corpo del Bacco!_ they
      stiletto all the men, and as to the women—”

      Crack! crack! crack! crack! crack!—the last words were drowned in
      the smacking of the whip, and away galloped the estafette along
      the road to the Pontine marshes.

      “Holy Virgin!” ejaculated the fair Venetian, “what will become of

      The inn of Terracina stands just outside of the walls of the old
      town of that name, on the frontiers of the Roman territory. A
      little, lazy, Italian town, the inhabitants of which, apparently
      heedless and listless, are said to be little better than the
      brigands which surround them, and indeed are half of them
      supposed to be in some way or other connected with the robbers. A
      vast, rocky height rises perpendicularly above it, with the ruins
      of the castle of Theodoric the Goth, crowning its summit; before
      it spreads the wide bosom of the Mediterranean, that sea without
      flux or reflux. There seems an idle pause in every thing about
      this place. The port is without a sail, excepting that once in a
      while a solitary felucca may be seen, disgorging its holy cargo
      of baccala, the meagre provision for the Quaresima or Lent. The
      naked watch towers, rising here and there along the coast, speak
      of pirates and corsairs which hover about these shores: while the
      low huts, as stations for soldiers, which dot the distant road,
      as it winds through an olive grove, intimate that in the ascent
      there is danger for the traveller and facility for the bandit.

      Indeed, it is between this town and Fondi that the road to Naples
      is Mostly infested by banditti. It winds among rocky and solitary
      places, where the robbers are enabled to see the traveller from a
      distance from the brows of hills or impending precipices, and to
      lie in wait for him, at the lonely and difficult passes.

      At the time that the estafette made this sudden appearance,
      almost in _cuerpo_, the audacity of the robbers had risen to an
      unparalleled height. They had their spies and emissaries in every
      town, village, and osteria, to give them notice of the quality
      and movements of travellers. They did not scruple to send
      messages into the country towns and villas, demanding certain
      sums of money, or articles of dress and luxury; with menaces of
      vengeance in case of refusal. They had plundered carriages;
      carried people of rank and fortune into the mountains and obliged
      them to write for heavy ransoms; and had committed outrages on
      females who had fallen in their power.

      The police exerted its rigor in vain. The brigands were too
      numerous And powerful for a weak police. They were countenanced
      and cherished by several of the villages; and though now and then
      the limbs of malefactors hung blackening in the trees near which
      they had committed some atrocity; or their heads stuck upon posts
      in iron cages made some dreary part of the road still more
      dreary, still they seemed to strike dismay into no bosom but that
      of the traveller.

      The dark, handsome young man; and the Venetian lady, whom I have
      mentioned, had arrived early that afternoon in a private
      carriage, drawn by mules and attended by a single servant. They
      had been recently married, were spending the honeymoon in
      travelling through these delicious countries, and were on their
      way to visit a rich aunt of the young lady’s at Naples.

      The lady was young, and tender and timid. The stories she had
      heard along the road had filled her with apprehension, not more
      for herself than for her husband; for though she had been married
      almost a month, she still loved him almost to idolatry. When she
      reached Terracina the rumors of the road had increased to an
      alarming magnitude; and the sight of two robbers’ skulls grinning
      in iron cages on each side of the old gateway of the town brought
      her to a pause. Her husband had tried in vain to reassure her.
      They had lingered all the afternoon at the inn, until it was too
      late to think of starting that evening, and the parting words of
      the estafette completed her affright.

      “Let us return to Rome,” said she, putting her arm within her
      husband’s, and drawing towards him as if for protection—“let us
      return to Rome and give up this visit to Naples.”

      “And give up the visit to your aunt, too,” said the husband.

      “Nay—what is my aunt in comparison with your safety,” said she,
      looking up tenderly in his face.

      There was something in her tone and manner that showed she really
      was Thinking more of her husband’s safety at that moment than of
      her own; and being recently married, and a match of pure
      affection, too, it is very possible that she was. At least her
      husband thought so. Indeed, any one who has heard the sweet,
      musical tone of a Venetian voice, and the melting tenderness of a
      Venetian phrase, and felt the soft witchery of a Venetian eye,
      would not wonder at the husband’s believing whatever they

      He clasped the white hand that had been laid within his, put his
      arm round her slender waist, and drawing her fondly to his
      bosom—“This night at least,” said he, “we’ll pass at Terracina.”

      Crack! crack! crack! crack! crack!

      Another apparition of the road attracted the attention of mine
      host and his guests. From the road across the Pontine marshes, a
      carriage drawn by half a dozen horses, came driving at a furious
      pace—the postillions smacking their whips like mad, as is the
      case when conscious of the greatness or the munificence of their
      fare. It was a landaulet, with a servant mounted on the dickey.
      The compact, highly finished, yet proudly simple construction of
      the carriage; the quantity of neat, well-arranged trunks and
      conveniences; the loads of box coats and upper benjamins on the
      dickey—and the fresh, burly, gruff-looking face at the window,
      proclaimed at once that it was the equipage of an Englishman.

      “Fresh horses to Fondi,” said the Englishman, as the landlord
      came bowing to the carriage door.

      “Would not his Excellenza alight and take some refreshment?”

      “No—he did not mean to eat until he got to Fondi!”

      “But the horses will be some time in getting ready—”

      “Ah.—that’s always the case—nothing but delay in this cursed

      “If his Excellenza would only walk into the house—”

      “No, no, no!—I tell you no!—I want nothing but horses, and as
      quick as possible. John! see that the horses are got ready, and
      don’t let us be kept here an hour or two. Tell him if we’re
      delayed over the time, I’ll lodge a complaint with the

      John touched his hat, and set off to obey his master’s orders,
      with the taciturn obedience of an English servant. He was a
      ruddy, round-faced fellow, with hair cropped close; a short coat,
      drab breeches, and long gaiters; and appeared to have almost as
      much contempt as his master for everything around him.

      In the mean time the Englishman got out of the carriage and
      walked up and down before the inn, with his hands in his pockets:
      taking no notice of the crowd of idlers who were gazing at him
      and his equipage. He was tall, stout, and well made; dressed with
      neatness and precision, wore a travelling-cap of the color of
      gingerbread, and had rather an unhappy expression about the
      corners of his mouth; partly from not having yet made his dinner,
      and partly from not having been able to get on at a greater rate
      than seven miles an hour. Not that he had any other cause for
      haste than an Englishman’s usual hurry to get to the end of a
      journey; or, to use the regular phrase, “to get on.”

      After some time the servant returned from the stable with as sour
      a look as his master.

      “Are the horses ready, John?”

      “No, sir—I never saw such a place. There’s no getting anything
      done. I think your honor had better step into the house and get
      something to eat; it will be a long while before we get to

      “D—n the house—it’s a mere trick—I’ll not eat anything, just to
      spite them,” said the Englishman, still more crusty at the
      prospect of being so long without his dinner.

      “They say your honor’s very wrong,” said John, “to set off at
      this late hour. The road’s full of highwaymen.”

      “Mere tales to get custom.”

      “The estafette which passed us was stopped by a whole gang,” said
      John, increasing his emphasis with each additional piece of

      “I don’t believe a word of it.”

      “They robbed him of his breeches,” said John, giving at the same
      time a hitch to his own waist-band.

      “All humbug!”

      Here the dark, handsome young man stepped forward and addressing
      the Englishman very politely in broken English, invited him to
      partake of a repast he was about to make. “Thank’ee,” said the
      Englishman, thrusting his hands deeper into his pockets, and
      casting a slight side glance of suspicion at the young man, as if
      he thought from his civility he must have a design upon his

      “We shall be most happy if you will do us that favor,” said the
      lady, in her soft Venetian dialect. There was a sweetness in her
      accents that was most persuasive. The Englishman cast a look upon
      her countenance; her beauty was still more eloquent. His features
      instantly relaxed. He made an attempt at a civil bow. “With great
      pleasure, signora,” said he.

      In short, the eagerness to “get on” was suddenly slackened; the
      determination to famish himself as far as Fondi by way of
      punishing the landlord was abandoned; John chose the best
      apartment in the inn for his master’s reception, and preparations
      were made to remain there until morning.

      The carriage was unpacked of such of its contents as were
      indispensable for the night. There was the usual parade of trunks
      and writing-desks, and portfolios, and dressing-boxes, and those
      other oppressive conveniences which burden a comfortable man. The
      observant loiterers about the inn door, wrapped up in great
      dirt-colored cloaks, with only a hawk’s eye uncovered, made many
      remarks to each other on this quantity of luggage that seemed
      enough for an army. And the domestics of the inn talked with
      wonder of the splendid dressing-case, with its gold and silver
      furniture that was spread out on the toilette table, and the bag
      of gold that chinked as it was taken out of the trunk. The
      strange “Milor’s” wealth, and the treasures he carried about him,
      were the talk, that evening, over all Terracina.

      The Englishman took some time to make his ablutions and arrange
      his dress for table, and after considerable labor and effort in
      putting himself at his ease, made his appearance, with stiff
      white cravat, his clothes free from the least speck of dust, and
      adjusted with precision. He made a formal bow on entering, which
      no doubt he meant to be cordial, but which any one else would
      have considered cool, and took his seat.

      The supper, as it was termed by the Italian, or dinner, as the
      Englishman called it, was now served. Heaven and earth, and the
      waters under the earth, had been moved to furnish it, for there
      were birds of the air and beasts of the earth and fish of the
      sea. The Englishman’s servant, too, had turned the kitchen
      topsy-turvy in his zeal to cook his master a beefsteak; and made
      his appearance loaded with ketchup, and soy, and Cayenne pepper,
      and Harvey sauce, and a bottle of port wine, from that warehouse,
      the carriage, in which his master seemed desirous of carrying
      England about the world with him. Every thing, however, according
      to the Englishman, was execrable. The tureen of soup was a black
      sea, with livers and limbs and fragments of all kinds of birds
      and beasts, floating like wrecks about it. A meagre winged
      animal, which my host called a delicate chicken, was too delicate
      for his stomach, for it had evidently died of a consumption. The
      macaroni was smoked. The beefsteak was tough buffalo’s flesh, and
      the countenance of mine host confirmed the assertion. Nothing
      seemed to hit his palate but a dish of stewed eels, of which he
      ate with great relish, but had nearly refunded them when told
      that they were vipers, caught among the rocks of Terracina, and
      esteemed a great delicacy.

      In short, the Englishman ate and growled, and ate and growled,
      like a cat eating in company, pronouncing himself poisoned by
      every dish, yet eating on in defiance of death and the doctor.
      The Venetian lady, not accustomed to English travellers, almost
      repented having persuaded him to the meal; for though very
      gracious to her, he was so crusty to all the world beside, that
      she stood in awe of him. There is nothing, however, that conquers
      John Bull’s crustiness sooner than eating, whatever may be the
      cookery; and nothing brings him into good humor with his company
      sooner than eating together; the Englishman, therefore, had not
      half finished his repast and his bottle, before he began to think
      the Venetian a very tolerable fellow for a foreigner, and his
      wife almost handsome enough to be an Englishwoman.

      In the course of the repast the tales of robbers which harassed
      the mind of the fair Venetian, were brought into discussion. The
      landlord and the waiter served up such a number of them as they
      served up the dishes, that they almost frightened away the poor
      lady’s appetite. Among these was the story of the school of
      Terracina, still fresh in every mind, where the students were
      carried up the mountains by the banditti, in hopes of ransom, and
      one of them massacred, to bring the parents to terms for the
      others. There was a story also of a gentleman of Rome, who
      delayed remitting the ransom demanded for his son, detained by
      the banditti, and received one of his son’s ears in a letter with
      information that the other would be remitted to him soon, if the
      money were not forthcoming, and that in this way he would receive
      the boy by instalments until he came to terms.

      The fair Venetian shuddered as she heard these tales. The
      landlord, like a true story-teller, doubled the dose when he saw
      how it operated. He was just proceeding to relate the misfortunes
      of a great English lord and his family, when the Englishman,
      tired of his volubility, testily interrupted him, and pronounced
      these accounts mere traveller’s tales, or the exaggerations of
      peasants and innkeepers. The landlord was indignant at the doubt
      levelled at his stories, and the innuendo levelled at his cloth;
      he cited half a dozen stories still more terrible, to corroborate
      those he had already told.

      “I don’t believe a word of them,” said the Englishman.

      “But the robbers had been tried and executed.”

      “All a farce!”

      “But their heads were stuck up along the road.”

      “Old skulls accumulated during a century.”

      The landlord muttered to himself as he went out at the door, “San
      Genaro, come sono singolari questi Inglesi.”

      A fresh hubbub outside of the inn announced the arrival of more
      travellers; and from the variety of voices, or rather clamors,
      the clattering of horses’ hoofs, the rattling of wheels, and the
      general uproar both within and without, the arrival seemed to be
      numerous. It was, in fact, the procaccio, and its convoy—a kind
      of caravan of merchandise, that sets out on stated days, under an
      escort of soldiery to protect it from the robbers. Travellers
      avail themselves of the occasion, and many carriages accompany
      the procaccio. It was a long time before either landlord or
      waiter returned, being hurried away by the tempest of new custom.
      When mine host appeared, there was a smile of triumph on his
      countenance.—“Perhaps,” said he, as he cleared away the table,
      “perhaps the signor has not heard of what has happened.”

      “What?” said the Englishman, drily.

      “Oh, the procaccio has arrived, and has brought accounts of fresh
      exploits of the robbers, signor.”


      “There’s more news of the English Milor and his family,” said the
      host, emphatically.

      “An English lord.-What English lord?”

      “Milor Popkin.”

      “Lord Popkin? I never heard of such a title!”

      “_O Sicuro_—a great nobleman that passed through here lately with
      his Milady and daughters—a magnifico—one of the grand councillors
      of London—un almanno.”

      “Almanno—almanno?—tut! he means alderman.”

      “Sicuro, aldermanno Popkin, and the principezza Popkin, and the
      signorina Popkin!” said mine host, triumphantly. He would now
      have entered into a full detail, but was thwarted by the
      Englishman, who seemed determined not to credit or indulge him in
      his stories. An Italian tongue, however, is not easily checked:
      that of mine host continued to run on with increasing volubility
      as he conveyed the fragments of the repast out of the room, and
      the last that could be distinguished of his voice, as it died
      away along the corridor, was the constant recurrence of the
      favorite word Popkin—Popkin—Popkin—pop—pop—pop.

      The arrival of the procaccio had indeed filled the house with
      stories as it had with guests. The Englishman and his companions
      walked out after supper into the great hall, or common room of
      the inn, which runs through the centre building; a gloomy,
      dirty-looking apartment, with tables placed in various parts of
      it, at which some of the travellers were seated in groups, while
      others strolled about in famished impatience for their evening’s
      meal. As the procaccio was a kind of caravan of travellers, there
      were people of every class and country, who had come in all kinds
      of vehicles; and though they kept in some measure in separate
      parties, yet the being united under one common escort had jumbled
      them into companionship on the road. Their formidable number and
      the formidable guard that accompanied them, had prevented any
      molestation from the banditti; but every carriage had its tale of
      wonder, and one vied with another in the recital. Not one but had
      seen groups of robbers peering over the rocks; or their guns
      peeping out from among the bushes, or had been reconnoitred by
      some suspicious-looking fellow with scowling eye, who disappeared
      on seeing the guard.

      The fair Venetian listened to all these stories with that eager
      curiosity with which we seek to pamper any feeling of alarm. Even
      the Englishman began to feel interested in the subject, and
      desirous of gaining more correct information than these mere
      flying reports.

      He mingled in one of the groups which appeared to be the most
      respectable, and which was assembled round a tall, thin person,
      with long Roman nose, a high forehead, and lively prominent eye,
      beaming from under a green velvet travelling-cap with gold
      tassel. He was holding forth with all the fluency of a man who
      talks well and likes to exert his talent. He was of Rome; a
      surgeon by profession, a poet by choice, and one who was
      something of an improvvisatore. He soon gave the Englishman
      abundance of information respecting the banditti.

      “The fact is,” said he, “that many of the people in the villages
      among the mountains are robbers, or rather the robbers find
      perfect asylum among them. They range over a vast extent of wild
      impracticable country, along the chain of Apennines, bordering on
      different states; they know all the difficult passes, the short
      cuts and strong-holds. They are secure of the good-will of the
      poor and peaceful inhabitants of those regions, whom they never
      disturb, and whom they often enrich. Indeed, they are looked upon
      as a sort of illegitimate heroes among the mountain villages, and
      some of the frontier towns, where they dispose of their plunder.
      From these mountains they keep a look-out upon the plains and
      valleys, and meditate their descents.”

      “The road to Fondi, which you are about to travel, is one of the
      places most noted for their exploits. It is overlooked from some
      distance by little hamlets, perched upon heights. From hence, the
      brigands, like hawks in their nests, keep on the watch for such
      travellers as are likely to afford either booty or ransom. The
      windings of the road enable them to see carriages long before
      they pass, so that they have time to get to some advantageous
      lurking-place from whence to pounce upon their prey.”

      “But why does not the police interfere and root them out?” said
      the Englishman.

      “The police is too weak and the banditti are too strong,” replied
      the improvvisatore. “To root them out would be a more difficult
      task than you imagine. They are connected and identified with the
      people of the villages and the peasantry generally; the numerous
      bands have an understanding with each other, and with people of
      various conditions in all parts of the country. They know all
      that is going on; a _gens d’armes_ cannot stir without their
      being aware of it. They have their spies and emissaries in every
      direction; they lurk about towns, villages, inns,—mingle in every
      crowd, pervade every place of resort. I should not be surprised,”
      said he, “if some one should be supervising us at this moment.”

      The fair Venetian looked round fearfully and turned pale.

      “One peculiarity of the Italian banditti” continued the
      improvvisatore, “is that they wear a kind of uniform, or rather
      costume, which designates their profession. This is probably done
      to take away from its skulking lawless character, and to give it
      something of a military air in the eyes of the common people; or
      perhaps to catch by outward dash and show the fancies of the
      young men of the villages. These dresses or costumes are often
      rich and fanciful. Some wear jackets and breeches of bright
      colors, richly embroidered; broad belts of cloth; or sashes of
      silk net; broad, high-crowned hats, decorated with feathers of
      variously-colored ribbands, and silk nets for the hair.

      “Many of the robbers are peasants who follow ordinary occupations
      in the villages for a part of the year, and take to the mountains
      for the rest. Some only go out for a season, as it were, on a
      hunting expedition, and then resume the dress and habits of
      common life. Many of the young men of the villages take to this
      kind of life occasionally from a mere love of adventure, the wild
      wandering spirit of youth and the contagion of bad example; but
      it is remarked that they can never after brook a long continuance
      in settled life. They get fond of the unbounded freedom and rude
      license they enjoy; and there is something in this wild mountain
      life checquered by adventure and peril, that is wonderfully
      fascinating, independent of the gratification of cupidity by the
      plunder of the wealthy traveller.”

      Here the improvvisatore was interrupted by a lively Neapolitan
      lawyer. “Your mention of the younger robbers,” said he, “puts me
      in mind of an adventure of a learned doctor, a friend of mine,
      which happened in this very neighborhood.”

      A wish was of course expressed to hear the adventure of the
      doctor by all except the improvvisatore, who, being fond of
      talking and of hearing himself talk, and accustomed moreover to
      harangue without interruption, looked rather annoyed at being
      checked when in full career.

      The Neapolitan, however, took no notice of his chagrin, but
      related The following anecdote.


      My friend the doctor was a thorough antiquary: a little, rusty,
      musty Old fellow, always groping among ruins. He relished a
      building as you Englishmen relish a cheese, the more mouldy and
      crumbling it was, the more it was to his taste. A shell of an old
      nameless temple, or the cracked walls of a broken-down
      amphitheatre, would throw him into raptures; and he took more
      delight in these crusts and cheese parings of antiquity than in
      the best-conditioned, modern edifice.

      He had taken a maggot into his brain at one time to hunt after
      the Ancient cities of the Pelasgi which are said to exist to this
      day among the mountains of the Abruzzi; but the condition of
      which is strangely unknown to the antiquaries. It is said that he
      had made a great many valuable notes and memorandums on the
      subject, which he always carried about with him, either for the
      purpose of frequent reference, or because he feared the precious
      documents might fall into the hands of brother antiquaries. He
      had therefore a large pocket behind, in which he carried them,
      banging against his rear as he walked.

      Be this as it may; happening to pass a few days at Terracina, in
      the course of his researches, he one day mounted the rocky cliffs
      which overhang the town, to visit the castle of Theodoric. He was
      groping about these ruins, towards the hour of sunset, buried in
      his reflections,—his wits no doubt wool-gathering among the Goths
      and Romans, when he heard footsteps behind him.

      He turned and beheld five or six young fellows, of rough, saucy
      demeanor, clad in a singular manner, half peasant, half huntsman,
      with fusils in their hands. Their whole appearance and carriage
      left him in no doubt into what company he had fallen.

      The doctor was a feeble little man poor, in look and poorer in
      purse. He had but little money in his pocket; but he had certain
      valuables, such as an old silver watch, thick as a turnip, with
      figures on it large enough for a clock, and a set of seals at the
      end of a steel chain, that dangled half down to his knees; all
      which were of precious esteem, being family reliques. He had also
      a seal ring, a veritable antique intaglio, that covered half his
      knuckles; but what he most valued was, the precious treatise on
      the Pelasgian cities, which, he would gladly have given all the
      money in his pocket to have had safe at the bottom of his trunk
      in Terracina.

      However, he plucked up a stout heart; at least as stout a heart
      as he could, seeing that he was but a puny little man at the hest
      of times. So he wished the hunters a “buon giorno.” They returned
      his salutation, giving the old gentleman a sociable slap on the
      back that made his heart leap into his throat.

      They fell into conversation, and walked for some time together
      among The heights, the doctor wishing them all the while at the
      bottom of the crater of Vesuvius. At length they came to a small
      osteria on the mountain, where they proposed to enter and have a
      cup of wine together. The doctor consented; though he would as
      soon have been invited to drink hemlock.

      One of the gang remained sentinel at the door; the others
      swaggered into the house; stood their fusils in a corner of the
      room; and each drawing a pistol or stiletto out of his belt, laid
      it, with some emphasis, on the table. They now called lustily for
      wine; drew benches round the table, and hailing the doctor as
      though he had been a boon companion of long standing, insisted
      upon his sitting down and making merry. He complied with forced
      grimace, but with fear and trembling; sitting on the edge of his
      bench; supping down heartburn with every drop of liquor; eyeing
      ruefully the black muzzled pistols, and cold, naked stilettos.
      They pushed the bottle bravely, and plied him vigorously; sang,
      laughed, told excellent stories of robberies and combats, and the
      little doctor was fain to laugh at these cut-throat pleasantries,
      though his heart was dying away at the very bottom of his bosom.

      By their own account they were young men from the villages, who
      had Recently taken up this line of life in the mere wild caprice
      of youth. They talked of their exploits as a sportsman talks of
      his amusements. To shoot down a traveller seemed of little more
      consequence to them than to shoot a hare. They spoke with rapture
      of the glorious roving life they led; free as birds; here to-day,
      gone to-morrow; ranging the forests, climbing the rocks, scouring
      the valleys; the world their own wherever they could lay hold of
      it; full purses, merry companions; pretty women.—The little
      antiquary got fuddled with their talk and their wine, for they
      did not spare bumpers. He half forgot his fears, his seal ring,
      and his family watch; even the treatise on the Pelasgian cities
      which was warming under him, for a time faded from his memory, in
      the glowing picture which they drew. He declares that he no
      longer wonders at the prevalence of this robber mania among the
      mountains; for he felt at the time, that had he been a young man
      and a strong man, and had there been no danger of the galleys in
      the background, he should have been half tempted himself to turn

      At length the fearful hour of separating arrived. The doctor was
      suddenly called to himself and his fears, by seeing the robbers
      resume their weapons. He now quaked for his valuables, and above
      all for his antiquarian treatise. He endeavored, however, to look
      cool and unconcerned; and drew from out of his deep pocket a
      long, lank, leathern purse, far gone in consumption, at the
      bottom of which a few coin chinked with the trembling of his

      The chief of the party observed this movement; and laying his
      hand upon the antiquary’s shoulder—“Harkee! Signor Dottore!” said
      he, “we have drank together as friends and comrades, let us part
      as such. We understand you; we know who and what you are; for we
      know who every body is that sleeps at Terracina, or that puts
      foot upon the road. You are a rich man, but you carry all your
      wealth in your head. We can’t get at it, and we should not know
      what to do with it, if we could. I see you are uneasy about your
      ring; but don’t worry your mind; it is not worth taking; you
      think it an antique, but it’s a counterfeit—a mere sham.”

      Here the doctor would have put in a word, for his antiquarian
      pride was touched.

      “Nay, nay,” continued the other, “we’ve no time to dispute about
      it. Value it as you please. Come, you are a brave little old
      signor—one more cup of wine and we’ll pay the reckoning. No
      compliments—I insist on it. So—now make the best of your way back
      to Terracina; it’s growing late—buono viaggio!—and harkee, take
      care how you wander among these mountains.”

      They shouldered their fusils, sprang gaily up the rocks, and the
      little doctor hobbled back to Terracina, rejoicing that the
      robbers had let his seal ring, his watch, and his treatise escape
      unmolested, though rather nettled that they should have
      pronounced his veritable intaglio a counterfeit.

      The improvvisatore had shown many symptoms of impatience during
      this recital. He saw his theme in danger of being taken out of
      his hands by a rival story-teller, which to an able talker is
      always a serious grievance; it was also in danger of being taken
      away by a Neapolitan, and that was still more vexatious; as the
      members of the different Italian states have an incessant
      jealousy of each other in all things, great and small. He took
      advantage of the first pause of the Neapolitan to catch hold
      again of the thread of the conversation.

      “As I was saying,” resumed he, “the prevalence of these banditti
      is so extensive; their power so combined and interwoven with
      other ranks of society—”

      “For that matter,” said the Neapolitan, “I have heard that your
      government has had some understanding with these gentry, or at
      least winked at them.”

      “My government?” said the Roman, impatiently.

      “Aye—they say that Cardinal Gonsalvi—”

      “Hush!” said the Roman, holding up his finger, and rolling his
      large eyes about the room.

      “Nay-I only repeat what I heard commonly rumored in Rome,”
      replied the other, sturdily. “It was whispered that the Cardinal
      had been up to the mountain, and had an interview with some of
      the chiefs. And I have been told that when honest people have
      been kicking their heels in the Cardinal’s anti-chamber, waiting
      by the hour for admittance, one of these stiletto-looking fellows
      has elbowed his way through the crowd, and entered without
      ceremony into the Cardinal’s presence.

      “I know,” replied the Roman, “that there have been such reports;
      and it is not impossible that government may have made use of
      these men at particular periods, such as at the time of your
      abortive revolution, when your carbonari were so busy with their
      machinations all over the country. The information that men like
      these could collect, who were familiar, not merely with all the
      recesses and secret places of the mountains, but also with all
      the dark and dangerous recesses of society, and knew all that was
      plotting in the world of mischief; the utility of such
      instruments in the hands of government was too obvious to be
      overlooked, and Cardinal Gonsalvi as a politic statesman, may,
      perhaps, have made use of them; for it is well known the robbers,
      with all their atrocities, are respectful towards the church, and
      devout in their religion.”

      “Religion!—religion?” echoed the Englishman.

      “Yes—religion!” repeated the improvvisatore. “Scarce one of them
      but will cross himself and say his prayers when he hears in his
      mountain fastness the matin or the _ave maria_ bells sounding
      from the valleys. They will often confess themselves to the
      village priests, to obtain absolution; and occasionally visit the
      village churches to pray at some favorite shrine. I recollect an
      instance in point: I was one evening in the village of Frescati,
      which lies below the mountains of Abruzzi. The people, as usual
      in fine evenings in our Italian towns and villages, were standing
      about in groups in the public square, conversing and amusing
      themselves. I observed a tall, muscular fellow, wrapped in a
      great mantle, passing across the square, but skulking along in
      the dark, as if avoiding notice. The people, too, seemed to draw
      back as he passed. It was whispered to me that he was a notorious

      “But why was he not immediately seized?” said the Englishman.

      “Because it was nobody’s business; because nobody wished to incur
      the vengeance of his comrades; because there were not sufficient
      _gens d’armes_ near to insure security against the numbers of
      desperadoes he might have at hand; because the _gens d’armes_
      might not have received particular instructions with respect to
      him, and might not feel disposed to engage in the hazardous
      conflict without compulsion. In short, I might give you a
      thousand reasons, rising out of the state of our government and
      manners, not one of which after all might appear satisfactory.”

      The Englishman shrugged his shoulders with an air of contempt.

      “I have been told,” added the Roman, rather quickly, “that even
      in your metropolis of London, notorious thieves, well known to
      the police as such, walk the streets at noon-day, in search of
      their prey, and are not molested unless caught in the very act of

      The Englishman gave another shrug, but with a different

      “Well, sir, I fixed my eye on this daring wolf thus prowling
      through the fold, and saw him enter a church. I was curious to
      witness his devotions. You know our spacious, magnificent
      churches. The one in which he entered was vast and shrouded in
      the dusk of evening. At the extremity of the long aisles a couple
      of tapers feebly glimmered on the grand altar. In one of the side
      chapels was a votive candle placed before the image of a saint.
      Before this image the robber had prostrated himself. His mantle
      partly falling off from his shoulders as he knelt, revealed a
      form of Herculean strength; a stiletto and pistol glittered in
      his belt, and the light falling on his countenance showed
      features not unhandsome, but strongly and fiercely charactered.
      As he prayed he became vehemently agitated; his lips quivered;
      sighs and murmurs, almost groans burst from him; he beat his
      breast with violence, then clasped his hands and wrung them
      convulsively as he extended them towards the image. Never had I
      seen such a terrific picture of remorse. I felt fearful of being
      discovered by him, and withdrew. Shortly after I saw him issue
      from the church wrapped in his mantle; he recrossed the square,
      and no doubt returned to his mountain with disburthened
      conscience, ready to incur a fresh arrear of crime.”

      The conversation was here taken up by two other travellers,
      recently arrived, Mr. Hobbs and Mr. Dobbs, a linen-draper and a
      green-grocer, just returning from a tour in Greece and the Holy
      Land: and who were full of the story of Alderman Popkins. They
      were astonished that the robbers should dare to molest a man of
      his importance on ‘change; he being an eminent dry-salter of
      Throgmorton street, and a magistrate to boot.

      In fact, the story of the Popkins family was but too true; it was
      attested by too many present to be for a moment doubted; and from
      the contradictory and concordant testimony of half a score, all
      eager to relate it, the company were enabled to make out all the


      It was but a few days before that the carriage of Alderman
      Popkins had driven up to the inn of Terracina. Those who have
      seen an English family carriage on the continent, must know the
      sensation it produces. It is an epitome of England; a little
      morsel of the old island rolling about the world—every thing so
      compact, so snug, so finished and fitting. The wheels that roll
      on patent axles without rattling; the body that hangs so well on
      its springs, yielding to every motion, yet proof against every
      shock. The ruddy faces gaping out of the windows; sometimes of a
      portly old citizen, sometimes of a voluminous dowager, and
      sometimes of a fine fresh hoyden, just from boarding school. And
      then the dickeys loaded with well-dressed servants, beef-fed and
      bluff; looking down from their heights with contempt on all the
      world around; profoundly ignorant of the country and the people,
      and devoutly certain that every thing not English must be wrong.

      Such was the carriage of Alderman Popkins, as it made its
      appearance at Terracina. The courier who had preceded it, to
      order horses, and who was a Neapolitan, had given a magnificent
      account of the riches and greatness of his master, blundering
      with all an Italian’s splendor of imagination about the
      alderman’s titles and dignities; the host had added his usual
      share of exaggeration, so that by the time the alderman drove up
      to the door, he was Milor—Magnifico—Principe—the Lord knows what!

      The alderman was advised to take an escort to Fondi and Itri, but
      he refused. It was as much as a man’s life was worth, he said, to
      stop him on the king’s highway; he would complain of it to the
      ambassador at Naples; he would make a national affair of it. The
      principezza Popkins, a fresh, motherly dame, seemed perfectly
      secure in the protection of her husband, so omnipotent a man in
      the city. The signorini Popkins, two fine bouncing girls, looked
      to their brother Tom, who had taken lessons in boxing; and as to
      the dandy himself, he was sure no scaramouch of an Italian robber
      would dare to meddle with an Englishman. The landlord shrugged
      his shoulders and turned out the palms of his hands with a true
      Italian grimace, and the carriage of Milor Popkins rolled on.

      They passed through several very suspicious places without any
      molestation. The Misses Popkins, who were very romantic, and had
      learnt to draw in water colors, were enchanted with the savage
      scenery around; it was so like what they had read in Mrs.
      Radcliffe’s romances, they should like of all things to make
      sketches. At length, the carriage arrived at a place where the
      road wound up a long hill. Mrs. Popkins had sunk into a sleep;
      the young ladies were reading the last works of Sir Walter Scott
      and Lord Byron, and the dandy was hectoring the postilions from
      the coach box. The Alderman got out, as he said, to stretch his
      legs up the hill. It was a long winding ascent, and obliged him
      every now and then to stop and blow and wipe his forehead with
      many a pish! and phew! being rather pursy and short of wind. As
      the carriage, however, was far behind him, and toiling slowly
      under the weight of so many well-stuffed trunks and well-stuffed
      travellers, he had plenty of time to walk at leisure.

      On a jutting point of rock that overhung the road nearly at the
      summit of the hill, just where the route began again to descend,
      he saw a solitary man seated, who appeared to be tending goats.
      Alderman Popkins was one of your shrewd travellers that always
      like to be picking up small information along the road, so he
      thought he’d just scramble up to the honest man, and have a
      little talk with him by way of learning the news and getting a
      lesson in Italian. As he drew near to the peasant he did not half
      like his looks. He was partly reclining on the rocks wrapped in
      the usual long mantle, which, with his slouched hat, only left a
      part of a swarthy visage, with a keen black eye, a beetle brow,
      and a fierce moustache to be seen. He had whistled several times
      to his dog which was roving about the side of the hill. As the
      Alderman approached he rose and greeted him. When standing erect
      he seemed almost gigantic, at least in the eyes of Alderman
      Popkins; who, however, being a short man, might be deceived.

      The latter would gladly now have been back in the carriage, or
      even on ‘change in London, for he was by no means well pleased
      with his company. However, he determined to put the best face on
      matters, and was beginning a conversation about the state of the
      weather, the baddishness of the crops, and the price of goats in
      that part of the country, when he heard a violent screaming. He
      ran to the edge of the rock, and, looking over, saw away down the
      road his carriage surrounded by robbers. One held down the fat
      footman, another had the dandy by his starched cravat, with a
      pistol to his head; one was rummaging a portmanteau, another
      rummaging the principezza’s pockets, while the two Misses Popkins
      were screaming from each window of the carriage, and their
      waiting maid squalling from the dickey.

      Alderman Popkins felt all the fury of the parent and the
      magistrate Roused within him. He grasped his cane and was on the
      point of scrambling down the rocks, either to assault the robbers
      or to read the riot act, when he was suddenly grasped by the arm.
      It was by his friend the goatherd, whose cloak, falling partly
      off, discovered a belt stuck full of pistols and stilettos. In
      short, he found himself in the clutches of the captain of the
      band, who had stationed himself on the rock to look out for
      travellers and to give notice to his men.

      A sad ransacking took place. Trunks were turned inside out, and
      all the finery and the frippery of the Popkins family scattered
      about the road. Such a chaos of Venice beads and Roman mosaics;
      and Paris bonnets of the young ladies, mingled with the
      alderman’s night-caps and lamb’s wool stockings, and the dandy’s
      hair-brushes, stays, and starched cravats.

      The gentlemen were eased of their purses and their watches; the
      ladies of their jewels, and the whole party were on the point of
      being carried up into the mountain, when fortunately the
      appearance of soldiery at a distance obliged the robbers to make
      off with the spoils they had secured, and leave the Popkins
      family to gather together the remnants of their effects, and make
      the best of their way to Fondi.

      When safe arrived, the alderman made a terrible blustering at the
      inn; threatened to complain to the ambassador at Naples, and was
      ready to shake his cane at the whole country. The dandy had many
      stories to tell of his scuffles with the brigands, who
      overpowered him merely by numbers. As to the Misses Popkins, they
      were quite delighted with the adventure, and were occupied the
      whole evening in writing it in their journals. They declared the
      captain of the band to be a most romantic-looking man; they dared
      to say some unfortunate lover, or exiled nobleman: and several of
      the band to be very handsome young men—“quite picturesque!”

      “In verity,” said mine host of Terracina, “they say the captain
      of the band is _un galant uomo_.”

      “A gallant man!” said the Englishman. “I’d have your gallant man
      hang’d like a dog!”

      “To dare to meddle with Englishmen!” said Mr. Hobbs.

      “And such a family as the Popkinses!” said Mr. Dobbs.

      “They ought to come upon the country for damages!” said Mr.

      “Our ambassador should make a complaint to the government of
      Naples,” said Mr. Dobbs.

      “They should be requested to drive these rascals out of the
      country,” said Hobbs.

      “If they did not, we should declare war against them!” said

      The Englishman was a little wearied by this story, and by the
      ultra zeal of his countrymen, and was glad when a summons to
      their supper relieved him from a crowd of travellers. He walked
      out with his Venetian friends and a young Frenchman of an
      interesting demeanor, who had become sociable with them in the
      course of the conversation. They directed their steps toward the
      sea, which was lit up by the rising moon. The Venetian, out of
      politeness, left his beautiful wife to be escorted by the
      Englishman. The latter, however, either from shyness or reserve,
      did not avail himself of the civility, but walked on without
      offering his arm. The fair Venetian, with all her devotion to her
      husband, was a little nettled at a want of gallantry to which her
      charms had rendered her unaccustomed, and took the proffered arm
      of the Frenchman with a pretty air of pique, which, however, was
      entirely lost upon the phlegmatic delinquent.

      Not far distant from the inn they came to where there was a body
      of soldiers on the beach, encircling and guarding a number of
      galley slaves, who were permitted to refresh themselves in the
      evening breeze, and to sport and roll upon the sand.

      “It was difficult,” the Frenchman observed, “to conceive a more
      frightful mass of crime than was here collected. The parricide,
      the fratricide, the infanticide, who had first fled from justice
      and turned mountain bandit, and then, by betraying his brother
      desperadoes, had bought a commutation of punishment, and the
      privilege of wallowing on the shore for an hour a day, with this
      wretched crew of miscreants!”

      The remark of the Frenchman had a strong effect upon the company,
      particularly upon the Venetian lady, who shuddered as she cast a
      timid look at this horde of wretches at their evening relaxation.
      “They seemed,” she said, “like so many serpents, wreathing and
      twisting together.”

      The Frenchman now adverted to the stories they had been listening
      to at the inn, adding, that if they had any further curiosity on
      the subject, he could recount an adventure which happened to
      himself among the robbers and which might give them some idea of
      the habits and manners of those beings. There was an air of
      modesty and frankness about the Frenchman which had gained the
      good-will of the whole party, not even excepting the Englishman.
      They all gladly accepted his proposition; and as they strolled
      slowly up and down the seashore, he related the following


      I am an historical painter by profession, and resided for some
      time in the family of a foreign prince, at his villa, about
      fifteen miles from Rome, among some of the most interesting
      scenery of Italy. It is situated on the heights of ancient
      Tusculum. In its neighborhood are the ruins of the villas of
      Cicero, Sulla, Lucullus, Rufinus, and other illustrious Romans,
      who sought refuge here occasionally, from their toils, in the
      bosom of a soft and luxurious repose. From the midst of
      delightful bowers, refreshed by the pure mountain breeze, the eye
      looks over a romantic landscape full of poetical and historical
      associations. The Albanian mountains, Tivoli, once the favorite
      residence of Horace and Maecenas; the vast deserted Campagna with
      the Tiber running through it, and St. Peter’s dome swelling in
      the midst, the monument—as it were, over the grave of ancient

      I assisted the prince in the researches he was making among the
      classic ruins of his vicinity. His exertions were highly
      successful. Many wrecks of admirable statues and fragments of
      exquisite sculpture were dug up; monuments of the taste and
      magnificence that reigned in the ancient Tusculan abodes. He had
      studded his villa and its grounds with statues, relievos, vases,
      and sarcophagi; thus retrieved from the bosom of the earth.

      The mode of life pursued at the villa was delightfully serene,
      diversified by interesting occupations and elegant leisure. Every
      one passed the day according to his pleasure or occupation; and
      we all assembled in a cheerful dinner party at sunset. It was on
      the fourth of November, a beautiful serene day, that we had
      assembled in the saloon at the sound of the first dinner-bell.
      The family were surprised at the absence of the prince’s
      confessor. They waited for him in vain, and at length placed
      themselves at table. They first attributed his absence to his
      having prolonged his customary walk; and the first part of the
      dinner passed without any uneasiness. When the dessert was
      served, however, without his making his appearance, they began to
      feel anxious. They feared he might have been taken ill in some
      alley of the woods; or, that he might have fallen into the hands
      of robbers. At the interval of a small valley rose the mountains
      of the Abruzzi, the strong-hold of banditti. Indeed, the
      neighborhood had, for some time, been infested by them; and
      Barbone, a notorious bandit chief, had often been met prowling
      about the solitudes of Tusculum. The daring enterprises of these
      ruffians were well known; the objects of their cupidity or
      vengeance were insecure even in palaces. As yet they had
      respected the possessions of the prince; but the idea of such
      dangerous spirits hovering about the neighbourhood was sufficient
      to occasion alarm.

      The fears of the company increased as evening closed in. The
      prince ordered out forest guards, and domestics with flambeaux to
      search for the confessor. They had not departed long, when a
      slight noise was heard in the corridor of the ground floor. The
      family were dining on the first floor, and the remaining
      domestics were occupied in attendance. There was no one on the
      ground floor at this moment but the house keeper, the laundress,
      and three field laborers, who were resting themselves, and
      conversing with the women.

      I heard the noise from below, and presuming it to be occasioned
      by the return of the absentee, I left the table, and hastened
      down stairs, eager to gain intelligence that might relieve the
      anxiety of the prince and princess. I had scarcely reached the
      last step, when I beheld before me a man dressed as a bandit; a
      carbine in his hand, and a stiletto and pistols in his belt. His
      countenance had a mingled expression of ferocity and trepidation.
      He sprang upon me, and exclaimed exultingly, “Ecco il principe!”

      I saw at once into what hands I had fallen, but endeavored to
      summon up coolness and presence of mind. A glance towards the
      lower end of the corridor showed me several ruffians, clothed and
      armed in the same manner with the one who had seized me. They
      were guarding the two females and the field laborers. The robber,
      who held me firmly by the collar, demanded repeatedly whether or
      not I were the prince. His object evidently was to carry off the
      prince, and extort an immense ransom. He was enraged at receiving
      none but vague replies; for I felt the importance of misleading

      A sudden thought struck me how I might extricate myself from his
      clutches. I was unarmed, it is true, but I was vigorous. His
      companions were at a distance. By a sudden exertion I might wrest
      myself from him and spring up the staircase, whither he would not
      dare to follow me singly. The idea was put in execution as soon
      as conceived. The ruffian’s throat was bare: with my right hand I
      seized him by it, just between the mastoides; with my left hand I
      grasped the arm which held the carbine. The suddenness of my
      attack took him completely unawares; and the strangling nature of
      my grasp paralyzed him. He choked and faltered. I felt his hand
      relaxing its hold, and was on the point of jerking myself away
      and darting up the staircase before he could recover himself,
      when I was suddenly seized by some one from behind.

      I had to let go my grasp. The bandit, once more released, fell
      upon me with fury, and gave me several blows with the butt end of
      his carbine, one of which wounded me severely in the forehead,
      and covered me with blood. He took advantage of my being stunned
      to rifle me of my watch and whatever valuables I had about my

      When I recovered from the effects of the blow, I heard the voice
      of the chief of the banditti, who exclaimed “Quello e il
      principe, siamo contente, audiamo!” (It is the prince, enough,
      let us be off.) The band immediately closed round me and dragged
      me out of the palace, bearing off the three laborers likewise.

      I had no hat on, and the blood was flowing from my wound; I
      managed to staunch it, however, with my pocket-handkerchief,
      which I bound round my forehead. The captain of the band
      conducted me in triumph, supposing me to be the prince. We had
      gone some distance before he learnt his mistake from one of the
      laborers. His rage was terrible. It was too late to return to the
      villa and endeavor to retrieve his error, for by this time the
      alarm must have been given, and every one in arms. He darted at
      me a furious look; swore I had deceived him, and caused him to
      miss his fortune; and told me to prepare for death. The rest of
      the robbers were equally furious. I saw their hands upon their
      poinards; and I knew that death was seldom an empty menace with
      these ruffians.

      The laborers saw the peril into which their information had
      betrayed me, and eagerly assured the captain that I was a man for
      whom the prince would pay a great ransom. This produced a pause.
      For my part, I cannot say that I had been much dismayed by their
      menaces. I mean not to make any boast of courage; but I have been
      so schooled to hardship during the late revolutions, and have
      beheld death around me in so many perilous and disastrous scenes
      that I have become, in some measure callous to its terrors. The
      frequent hazard of life makes a man at length as reckless of it
      as a gambler of his money. To their threat of death, I replied:
      “That the sooner it was executed, the better.” This reply seemed
      to astonish the captain, and the prospect of ransom held out by
      the laborers, had, no doubt, a still greater effect on him. He
      considered for a moment; assumed a calmer manner, and made a sign
      to his companions, who had remained waiting for my death warrant.
      “Forward,” said he, “we will see about this matter by and bye.”

      We descended rapidly towards the road of la Molara, which leads
      to Rocca Priori. In the midst of this road is a solitary inn. The
      captain ordered the troop to halt at the distance of a pistol
      shot from it; and enjoined profound silence. He then approached
      the threshold alone with noiseless steps. He examined the outside
      of the door very narrowly, and then returning precipitately, made
      a sign for the troop to continue its march in silence. It has
      since been ascertained that this was one of those infamous inns
      which are the secret resorts of banditti. The innkeeper had an
      understanding with the captain, as he most probably had with the
      chiefs of the different bands. When any of the patroles and gens
      d’armes were quartered at his house, the brigands were warned of
      it by a preconcerted signal on the door; when there was no such
      signal, they might enter with safety and be sure of welcome. Many
      an isolated inn among the lonely parts of the Roman territories,
      and especially on the skirts of the mountains, have the same
      dangerous and suspicious character. They are places where the
      banditti gather information; where they concert their plans, and
      where the unwary traveller, remote from hearing or assistance, is
      sometimes betrayed to the stiletto of the midnight murderer.

      After pursuing our road a little farther, we struck off towards
      the Woody mountains which envelope Rocca Priori. Our march was
      long and painful, with many circuits and windings; at length we
      clambered a steep ascent, covered with a thick forest, and when
      we had reached the centre, I was told to seat myself on the
      earth. No sooner had I done so, than at a sign from their chief,
      the robbers surrounded me, and spreading their great cloaks from
      one to the other, formed a kind of pavilion of mantles, to which
      their bodies might be said to seem as columns. The captain then
      struck a light, and a flambeau was lit immediately. The mantles
      were extended to prevent the light of the flambeau from being
      seen through the forest. Anxious as was my situation, I could not
      look round upon this screen of dusky drapery, relieved by the
      bright colors of the robbers’ under-dresses, the gleaming of
      their weapons, and the variety of strong-marked countenances, lit
      up by the flambeau, without admiring the picturesque effect of
      the scene. It was quite theatrical.

      The captain now held an ink-horn, and giving me pen and paper,
      ordered me to write what he should dictate. I obeyed. It was a
      demand, couched in the style of robber eloquence, “that the
      prince should send three thousand dollars for my ransom, or that
      my death should be the consequence of a refusal.”

      I knew enough of the desperate character of these beings to feel
      assured this was not an idle menace. Their only mode of insuring
      attention to their demands, is to make the infliction of the
      penalty inevitable. I saw at once, however, that the demand was
      preposterous, and made in improper language.

      I told the captain so, and assured him, that so extravagant a sum
      would never be granted; that I was neither friend or relative of
      the prince, but a mere artist, employed to execute certain
      paintings. That I had nothing to offer as a ransom but the price
      of my labors; if this were not sufficient, my life was at their
      disposal: it was a thing on which I sat but little value.

      I was the more hardy in my reply, because I saw that coolness and
      hardihood had an effect upon the robbers. It is true, as I
      finished speaking the captain laid his hand upon his stiletto,
      but he restrained himself, and snatching the letter, folded it,
      and ordered me, in a peremptory tone, to address it to the
      prince. He then despatched one of the laborers with it to
      Tusculum, who promised to return with all possible speed.

      The robbers now prepared themselves for sleep, and I was told
      that I might do the same. They spread their great cloaks on the
      ground, and lay down around me. One was stationed at a little
      distance to keep watch, and was relieved every two hours. The
      strangeness and wildness of this mountain bivouac, among lawless
      beings whose hands seemed ever ready to grasp the stiletto, and
      with whom life was so trivial and insecure, was enough to banish
      repose. The coldness of the earth and of the dew, however, had a
      still greater effect than mental causes in disturbing my rest.
      The airs wafted to these mountains from the distant Mediterranean
      diffused a great chilliness as the night advanced. An expedient
      suggested itself. I called one of my fellow prisoners, the
      laborers, and made him lie down beside me. Whenever one of my
      limbs became chilled I approached it to the robust limb of my
      neighbor, and borrowed some of his warmth. In this way I was able
      to obtain a little sleep.

      Day at length dawned, and I was roused from my slumber by the
      voice of the chieftain. He desired me to rise and follow him. I
      obeyed. On considering his physiognomy attentively, it appeared a
      little softened. He even assisted me in scrambling up the steep
      forest among rocks and brambles. Habit had made him a vigorous
      mountaineer; but I found it excessively toilsome to climb those
      rugged heights. We arrived at length at the summit of the

      Here it was that I felt all the enthusiasm of my art suddenly
      awakened; and I forgot, in an instant, all perils and fatigues at
      this magnificent view of the sunrise in the midst of the
      mountains of Abruzzi. It was on these heights that Hannibal first
      pitched his camp, and pointed out Rome to his followers. The eye
      embraces a vast extent of country. The minor height of Tusculum,
      with its villas, and its sacred ruins, lie below; the Sabine
      hills and the Albanian mountains stretch on either hand, and
      beyond Tusculum and Frescati spreads out the immense Campagna,
      with its line of tombs, and here and there a broken aqueduct
      stretching across it, and the towers and domes of the eternal
      city in the midst.

      Fancy this scene lit up by the glories of a rising sun, and
      bursting upon my sight, as I looked forth from among the majestic
      forests of the Abruzzi. Fancy, too, the savage foreground, made
      still more savage by groups of the banditti, armed and dressed in
      their wild, picturesque manner, and you will not wonder that the
      enthusiasm of a painter for a moment overpowered all his other

      The banditti were astonished at my admiration of a scene which
      familiarity had made so common in their eyes. I took advantage of
      their halting at this spot, drew forth a quire of drawing-paper,
      and began to sketch the features of the landscape. The height, on
      which I was seated, was wild and solitary, separated from the
      ridge of Tusculum by a valley nearly three miles wide; though the
      distance appeared less from the purity of the atmosphere. This
      height was one of the favorite retreats of the banditti,
      commanding a look-out over the country; while, at the same time,
      it was covered with forests, and distant from the populous haunts
      of men.

      While I was sketching, my attention was called off for a moment
      by the cries of birds and the bleatings of sheep. I looked
      around, but could see nothing of the animals that uttered them.
      They were repeated, and appeared to come from the summits of the
      trees. On looking more narrowly, I perceived six of the robbers
      perched on the tops of oaks, which grew on the breezy crest of
      the mountain, and commanded an uninterrupted prospect. From hence
      they were keeping a look-out, like so many vultures; casting
      their eyes into the depths of the valley below us; communicating;
      with each other by signs, or holding discourse in sounds, which
      might be mistaken by the wayfarer for the cries of hawks and
      crows, or the bleating of the mountain flocks. After they had
      reconnoitred the neighborhood, and finished their singular
      discourse, they descended from their airy perch, and returned to
      their prisoners. The captain posted three of them at three naked
      sides of the mountain, while he remained to guard us with what
      appeared his most trusty companion.

      I had my book of sketches in my hand; he requested to see it, and
      after having run his eye over it, expressed himself convinced of
      the truth of my assertion, that I was a painter. I thought I saw
      a gleam of good feeling dawning in him, and determined to avail
      myself of it. I knew that the worst of men have their good points
      and their accessible sides, if one would but study them
      carefully. Indeed, there is a singular mixture in the character
      of the Italian robber. With reckless ferocity, he often mingles
      traits of kindness and good humor. He is often not radically bad,
      but driven to his course of life by some unpremeditated crime,
      the effect of those sudden bursts of passion to which the Italian
      temperament is prone. This has compelled him to take to the
      mountains, or, as it is technically termed among them, “andare in
      Campagna.” He has become a robber by profession; but like a
      soldier, when not in action, he can lay aside his weapon and his
      fierceness, and become like other men.

      I took occasion from the observations of the captain on my
      sketchings, to fall into conversation with him. I found him
      sociable and communicative. By degrees I became completely at my
      ease with him. I had fancied I perceived about him a degree of
      self-love, which I determined to make use of. I assumed an air of
      careless frankness, and told him that, as artist, I pretended to
      the power of judging of the physiognomy; that I thought I
      perceived something in his features and demeanor which announced
      him worthy of higher fortunes. That he was not formed to exercise
      the profession to which he had abandoned himself; that he had
      talents and qualities fitted for a nobler sphere of action; that
      he had but to change his course of life, and in a legitimate
      career, the same courage and endowments which now made him an
      object of terror, would ensure him the applause and admiration of

      I had not mistaken my man. My discourse both touched and excited
      him. He seized my hand, pressed it, and replied with strong
      emotion, “You have guessed the truth; you have judged me
      rightly.” He remained for a moment silent; then with a kind of
      effort he resumed. “I will tell you some particulars of my life,
      and you will perceive that it was the oppression of others,
      rather than my own crimes, that drove me to the mountains. I
      sought to serve my fellow-men, and they have persecuted me from
      among them.” We seated ourselves on the grass, and the robber
      gave me the following anecdotes of his history.


      I am a native of the village of Prossedi. My father was easy
      enough In circumstances, and we lived peaceably and
      independently, cultivating our fields. All went on well with us
      until a new chief of the sbirri was sent to our village to take
      command of the police. He was an arbitrary fellow, prying into
      every thing, and practising all sorts of vexations and
      oppressions in the discharge of his office.

      I was at that time eighteen years of age, and had a natural love
      of justice and good neighborhood. I had also a little education,
      and knew something of history, so as to be able to judge a little
      of men and their actions. All this inspired me with hatred for
      this paltry despot. My own family, also, became the object of his
      suspicion or dislike, and felt more than once the arbitrary abuse
      of his power. These things worked together on my mind, and I
      gasped after vengeance. My character was always ardent and
      energetic; and acted upon by my love of justice, determined me by
      one blow to rid the country of the tyrant.

      Full of my project I rose one morning before peep of day, and
      concealing a stiletto under my waistcoat—here you see it!—(and he
      drew forth a long keen poniard)—I lay in wait for him in the
      outskirts of the village. I knew all his haunts, and his habit of
      making his rounds and prowling about like a wolf, in the gray of
      the morning; at length I met him, and attacked him with fury. He
      was armed, but I took him unawares, and was full of youth and
      vigor. I gave him repeated blows to make sure work, and laid him
      lifeless at my feet.

      When I was satisfied that I had done for him, I returned with all
      haste to the village, but had the ill-luck to meet two of the
      sbirri as I entered it. They accosted me and asked if I had seen
      their chief. I assumed an air of tranquillity, and told them I
      had not. They continued on their way, and, within a few hours,
      brought back the dead body to Prossedi. Their suspicions of me
      being already awakened, I was arrested and thrown into prison.
      Here I lay several weeks, when the prince, who was Seigneur of
      Prossedi, directed judicial proceedings against me. I was brought
      to trial, and a witness was produced who pretended to have seen
      me not far from the bleeding body, and flying with precipitation,
      so I was condemned to the galleys for thirty years.

      “Curse on such laws,” vociferated the bandit, foaming with rage;
      “curse on such a government, and ten thousand curses on the
      prince who caused me to be adjudged so rigorously, while so many
      other Roman princes harbor and protect assassins a thousand times
      more culpable. What had I done but what was inspired by a love of
      justice and my country? Why was my act more culpable than that of
      Brutus, when he sacrificed Caesar to the cause of liberty and

      There was something at once both lofty and ludicrous in the
      rhapsody of this robber chief, thus associating himself with one
      of the great names of antiquity. It showed, however, that he had
      at least the merit of knowing the remarkable facts in the history
      of his country. He became more calm, and resumed his narrative.

      I was conducted to Civita Vecchia in fetters. My heart was
      burning with rage. I had been married scarce six months to a
      woman whom I passionately loved, and who was pregnant. My family
      was in despair. For a long time I made unsuccessful efforts to
      break my chain. At length I found a morsel of iron which I hid
      carefully, endeavored with a pointed flint to fashion it into a
      kind of file. I occupied myself in this work during the
      night-time, and when it was finished, I made out, after a long
      time, to sever one of the rings of my chain. My flight was

      I wandered for several weeks in the mountains which surround
      Prossedi, and found means to inform my wife of the place where I
      was concealed. She came often to see me. I had determined to put
      myself at the head of an armed band. She endeavored for a long
      time to dissuade me; but finding my resolution fixed, she at
      length united in my project of vengeance, and brought me,
      herself, my poniard.

      By her means I communicated with several brave fellows of the
      Neighboring villages, who I knew to be ready to take to the
      mountains, and only panting for an opportunity to exercise their
      daring spirits. We soon formed a combination, procured arms, and
      we have had ample opportunities of revenging ourselves for the
      wrongs and injuries which most of us have suffered. Every thing
      has succeeded with us until now, and had it not been for our
      blunder in mistaking you for the prince, our fortunes would have
      been made.

      Here the robber concluded his story. He had talked himself into
      companionship, and assured me he no longer bore me any grudge for
      the error of which I had been the innocent cause. He even
      professed a kindness for me, and wished me to remain some time
      with them. He promised to give me a sight of certain grottos
      which they occupied beyond Villetri, and whither they resorted
      during the intervals of their expeditions. He assured me that
      they led a jovial life there; had plenty of good cheer; slept on
      beds of moss, and were waited upon by young and beautiful
      females, whom I might take for models.

      I confess I felt my curiosity roused by his descriptions of these
      grottos and their inhabitants; they realized those scenes in
      robber-story which I had always looked upon as mere creations of
      the fancy. I should gladly have accepted his invitation, and paid
      a visit to those caverns, could I have felt more secure in my

      I began to find my situation less painful. I had evidently
      propitiated the good-will of the chieftain, and hoped that he
      might release me for a moderate ransom. A new alarm, however,
      awaited me. While the captain was looking out with impatience for
      the return of the messenger who had been sent to the prince, the
      sentinel who had been posted on the side of the mountain facing
      the plain of la Molara, came running towards us with
      precipitation. “We are betrayed!” exclaimed he. “The police of
      Frescati are after us. A party of carabiniers have just stopped
      at the inn below the mountain.” Then laying his hand on his
      stiletto, he swore, with a terrible oath, that if they made the
      least movement towards the mountains, my life and the lives of my
      fellow-prisoners should answer for it.

      The chieftain resumed all his ferocity of demeanor, and approved
      of what his companion said; but when the latter had returned to
      his post, he turned to me with a softened air: “I must act as
      chief,” said he, “and humor my dangerous subalterns. It is a law
      with us to kill our prisoners rather than suffer them to be
      rescued; but do not be alarmed. In case we are surprised keep by
      me; fly with us, and I will consider myself responsible for your

      There was nothing very consolatory in this arrangement, which
      would have placed me between two dangers; I scarcely knew, in
      case of flight, which I should have most to apprehend from, the
      carbines of the pursuers, or the stilettos of the pursued. I
      remained silent, however, and endeavored to maintain a look of

      For an hour was I kept in this state of peril and anxiety. The
      robbers, crouching among their leafy coverts, kept an eagle watch
      upon the carabiniers below, as they loitered about the inn;
      sometimes lolling about the portal; sometimes disappearing for
      several minutes, then sallying out, examining their weapons,
      pointing in different directions and apparently asking questions
      about the neighborhood; not a movement or gesture was last upon
      the keen eyes of the brigands. At length we were relieved from
      our apprehensions. The carabiniers having finished their
      refreshment, seized their arms, continued along the valley
      towards the great road, and gradually left the mountain behind
      them. “I felt almost certain,” said the chief, “that they could
      not be sent after us. They know too well how prisoners have fared
      in our hands on similar occasions. Our laws in this respect are
      inflexible, and are necessary for our safety. If we once flinched
      from them, there would no longer be such thing as a ransom to be

      There were no signs yet of the messenger’s return. I was
      preparing to resume my sketching, when the captain drew a quire
      of paper from his knapsack—“Come,” said he, laughing, “you are a
      painter; take my likeness. The leaves of your portfolio are
      small; draw it on this.” I gladly consented, for it was a study
      that seldom presents itself to a painter. I recollected that
      Salvator Rosa in his youth had voluntarily sojourned for a time
      among the banditti of Calabria, and had filled his mind with the
      savage scenery and savage associates by which he was surrounded.
      I seized my pencil with enthusiasm at the thought. I found the
      captain the most docile of subjects, and after various shifting
      of positions, I placed him in an attitude to my mind.

      Picture to yourself a stern, muscular figure, in fanciful bandit
      costume, with pistols and poniards in belt, his brawny neck bare,
      a handkerchief loosely thrown around it, and the two ends in
      front strung with rings of all kinds, the spoils of travellers;
      reliques and medals hung on his breast; his hat decorated with
      various-colored ribbands; his vest and short breeches of bright
      colors and finely embroidered; his legs in buskins or leggins.
      Fancy him on a mountain height, among wild rocks and rugged oaks,
      leaning on his carbine as if meditating some exploit, while far
      below are beheld villages and villas, the scenes of his
      maraudings, with the wide Campagna dimly extending in the

      The robber was pleased with the sketch, and seemed to admire
      himself upon paper. I had scarcely finished, when the laborer
      arrived who had been sent for my ransom. He had reached Tusculum
      two hours after midnight. He brought me a letter from the prince,
      who was in bed at the time of his arrival. As I had predicted, he
      treated the demand as extravagant, but offered five hundred
      dollars for my ransom. Having no money by him at the moment, he
      had sent a note for the amount, payable to whomever should
      conduct me safe and sound to Rome. I presented the note of hand
      to the chieftain; he received it with a shrug. “Of what use are
      notes of hand to us?” said he, “who can we send with you to Rome
      to receive it? We are all marked men, known and described at
      every gate and military post, and village church-door. No, we
      must have gold and silver; let the sum be paid in cash and you
      shall be restored to liberty.”

      The captain again placed a sheet of paper before me to
      communicate His determination to the prince. When I had finished
      the letter and took the sheet from the quire, I found on the
      opposite side of it the portrait which I had just been tracing. I
      was about to tear it off and give it to the chief.

      “Hold,” said he, “let it go to Rome; let them see what kind of
      looking fellow I am. Perhaps the prince and his friends may form
      as good an opinion of me from my face as you have done.”

      This was said sportively, yet it was evident there was vanity
      lurking at the bottom. Even this wary, distrustful chief of
      banditti forgot for a moment his usual foresight and precaution
      in the common wish to be admired. He never reflected what use
      might be made of this portrait in his pursuit and conviction.

      The letter was folded and directed, and the messenger departed
      again For Tusculum. It was now eleven o’clock in the morning, and
      as yet we had eaten nothing. In spite of all my anxiety, I began
      to feel a craving appetite. I was glad, therefore, to hear the
      captain talk something of eating. He observed that for three days
      and nights they had been lurking about among rocks and woods,
      meditating their expedition to Tusculum, during which all their
      provisions had been exhausted. He should now take measures to
      procure a supply. Leaving me, therefore, in the charge of his
      comrade, in whom he appeared to have implicit confidence, he
      departed, assuring me, that in less than two hours we should make
      a good dinner. Where it was to come from was an enigma to me,
      though it was evident these beings had their secret friends and
      agents throughout the country.

      Indeed, the inhabitants of these mountains and of the valleys
      which they embosom are a rude, half civilized set. The towns and
      villages among the forests of the Abruzzi, shut up from the rest
      of the world, are almost like savage dens. It is wonderful that
      such rude abodes, so little known and visited, should be
      embosomed in the midst of one of the most travelled and civilized
      countries of Europe. Among these regions the robber prowls
      unmolested; not a mountaineer hesitates to give him secret harbor
      and assistance. The shepherds, however, who tend their flocks
      among the mountains, are the favorite emissaries of the robbers,
      when they would send messages down to the valleys either for
      ransom or supplies. The shepherds of the Abruzzi are as wild as
      the scenes they frequent. They are clad in a rude garb of black
      or brown sheep-skin; they have high conical hats, and coarse
      sandals of cloth bound round their legs with thongs, similar to
      those worn by the robbers. They carry long staffs, on which as
      they lean they form picturesque objects in the lonely landscape,
      and they are followed by their ever-constant companion, the dog.
      They are a curious, questioning set, glad at any time to relieve
      the monotony of their solitude by the conversation of the
      passerby, and the dog will lend an attentive ear, and put on as
      sagacious and inquisitive a look as his master.

      But I am wandering from my story. I was now left alone with one
      of the robbers, the confidential companion of the chief. He was
      the youngest and most vigorous of the band, and though his
      countenance had something of that dissolute fierceness which
      seems natural to this desperate, lawless mode of life, yet there
      were traits of manly beauty about it. As an artist I could not
      but admire it. I had remarked in him an air of abstraction and
      reverie, and at times a movement of inward suffering and
      impatience. He now sat on the ground; his elbows on his knees,
      his head resting between his clenched fists, and his eyes fixed
      on the earth with an expression of sad and bitter rumination. I
      had grown familiar with him from repeated conversations, and had
      found him superior in mind to the rest of the band. I was anxious
      to seize every opportunity of sounding the feelings of these
      singular beings. I fancied I read in the countenance of this one
      traces of self-condemnation and remorse; and the ease with which
      I had drawn forth the confidence of the chieftain encouraged me
      to hope the same with his followers.

      After a little preliminary conversation, I ventured to ask him if
      he did not feel regret at having abandoned his family and taken
      to this dangerous profession. “I feel,” replied he, “but one
      regret, and that will end only with my life;” as he said this he
      pressed his clenched fists upon his bosom, drew his breath
      through his set teeth, and added with deep emotion, “I have
      something within here that stifles me; it is like a burning iron
      consuming my very heart. I could tell you a miserable story, but
      not now—another time.”—He relapsed into his former position, and
      sat with his head between his hands, muttering to himself in
      broken ejaculations, and what appeared at times to be curses and
      maledictions. I saw he was not in a mood to be disturbed, so I
      left him to himself. In a little time the exhaustion of his
      feelings, and probably the fatigues he had undergone in this
      expedition, began to produce drowsiness. He struggled with it for
      a time, but the warmth and sultriness of mid-day made it
      irresistible, and he at length stretched himself upon the herbage
      and fell asleep.

      I now beheld a chance of escape within my reach. My guard lay
      before me at my mercy. His vigorous limbs relaxed by sleep; his
      bosom open for the blow; his carbine slipped from his nerveless
      grasp, and lying by his side; his stiletto half out of the pocket
      in which it was usually carried. But two of his comrades were in
      sight, and those at a considerable distance, on the edge of the
      mountain; their backs turned to us, and their attention occupied
      in keeping a look-out upon the plain. Through a strip of
      intervening forest, and at the foot of a steep descent, I beheld
      the village of Rocca Priori. To have secured the carbine of the
      sleeping brigand, to have seized upon his poniard and have
      plunged it in his heart, would have been the work of an instant.
      Should he die without noise, I might dart through the forest and
      down to Rocca Priori before my flight might be discovered. In
      case of alarm, I should still have a fair start of the robbers,
      and a chance of getting beyond the reach of their shot.

      Here then was an opportunity for both escape and vengeance;
      perilous, indeed, but powerfully tempting. Had my situation been
      more critical I could not have resisted it. I reflected, however,
      for a moment. The attempt, if successful, would be followed by
      the sacrifice of my two fellow prisoners, who were sleeping
      profoundly, and could not be awakened in time to escape. The
      laborer who had gone after the ransom might also fall a victim to
      the rage of the robbers, without the money which he brought being
      saved. Besides, the conduct of the chief towards me made me feel
      certain of speedy deliverance. These reflections overcame the
      first powerful impulse, and I calmed the turbulent agitation
      which it had awakened.

      I again took out my materials for drawing, and amused myself with
      sketching the magnificent prospect. It was now about noon, and
      every thing seemed sunk into repose, like the bandit that lay
      sleeping before me. The noon-tide stillness that reigned over
      these mountains, the vast landscape below, gleaming with distant
      towns and dotted with various habitations and signs of life, yet
      all so silent, had a powerful effect upon my mind. The
      intermediate valleys, too, that lie among mountains have a
      peculiar air of solitude. Few sounds are heard at mid-day to
      break the quiet of the scene. Sometimes the whistle of a solitary
      muleteer, lagging with his lazy animal along the road that winds
      through the centre of the valley; sometimes the faint piping of a
      shepherd’s reed from the side of the mountain, or sometimes the
      bell of an ass slowly pacing along, followed by a monk with bare
      feet and bare shining head, and carrying provisions to the

      I had continued to sketch for some time among my sleeping
      companions, when at length I saw the captain of the band
      approaching, followed by a peasant leading a mule, on which was a
      well-filled sack. I at first apprehended that this was some new
      prey fallen into the hands of the robbers, but the contented look
      of the peasant soon relieved me, and I was rejoiced to hear that
      it was our promised repast. The brigands now came running from
      the three sides of the mountain, having the quick scent of
      vultures. Every one busied himself in unloading the mule and
      relieving the sack of its contents.

      The first thing that made its appearance was an enormous ham of a
      color and plumpness that would have inspired the pencil of
      Teniers. It was followed by a large cheese, a bag of boiled
      chestnuts, a little barrel of wine, and a quantity of good
      household bread. Everything was arranged on the grass with a
      degree of symmetry, and the captain presenting me his knife,
      requested me to help myself. We all seated ourselves round the
      viands, and nothing was heard for a time but the sound of
      vigorous mastication, or the gurgling of the barrel of wine as it
      revolved briskly about the circle. My long fasting and the
      mountain air and exercise had given me a keen appetite, and never
      did repast appear to me more excellent or picturesque.

      From time to time one of the band was despatched to keep a
      look-out upon the plain: no enemy was at hand, and the dinner was

      The peasant received nearly twice the value of his provisions,
      and set off down the mountain highly satisfied with his bargain.
      I felt invigorated by the hearty meal I had made, and
      notwithstanding that the wound I had received the evening before
      was painful, yet I could not but feel extremely interested and
      gratified by the singular scenes continually presented to me.
      Every thing seemed pictured about these wild beings and their
      haunts. Their bivouacs, their groups on guard, their indolent
      noon-tide repose on the mountain brow, their rude repast on the
      herbage among rocks and trees, every thing presented a study for
      a painter. But it was towards the approach of evening that I felt
      the highest enthusiasm awakened.

      The setting sun, declining beyond the vast Campagna, shed its
      rich yellow beams on the woody summits of the Abruzzi. Several
      mountains crowned with snow shone brilliantly in the distance,
      contrasting their brightness with others, which, thrown into
      shade, assumed deep tints of purple and violet. As the evening
      advanced, the landscape darkened into a sterner character. The
      immense solitude around; the wild mountains broken into rocks and
      precipices, intermingled with vast oak, cork, and chestnuts; and
      the groups of banditti in the foreground, reminded me of those
      savage scenes of Salvator Rosa.

      To beguile the time the captain proposed to his comrades to
      spread before me their jewels and cameos, as I must doubtless be
      a judge of such articles, and able to inform them of their
      nature. He set the example, the others followed it, and in a few
      moments I saw the grass before me sparkling with jewels and gems
      that would have delighted the eyes of an antiquary or a fine
      lady. Among them were several precious jewels and antique
      intaglios and cameos of great value, the spoils doubtless of
      travellers of distinction. I found that they were in the habit of
      selling their booty in the frontier towns. As these in general
      were thinly and poorly peopled, and little frequented by
      travellers, they could offer no market for such valuable articles
      of taste and luxury. I suggested to them the certainty of their
      readily obtaining great pieces for these gems among the rich
      strangers with which Rome was thronged.

      The impression made upon their greedy minds was immediately
      apparent. One of the band, a young man, and the least known,
      requested permission of the captain to depart the following day
      in disguise for Rome, for the purpose of traffick; promising on
      the faith of a bandit (a sacred pledge amongst them) to return in
      two days to any place he might appoint. The captain consented,
      and a curious scene took place. The robbers crowded round him
      eagerly, confiding to him such of their jewels as they wished to
      dispose of, and giving him instructions what to demand. There was
      bargaining and exchanging and selling of trinkets among
      themselves, and I beheld my watch, which had a chain and valuable
      seals, purchased by the young robber merchant of the ruffian who
      had plundered me, for sixty dollars. I now conceived a faint hope
      that if it went to Rome, I might somehow or other regain
      possession of it.

      In the mean time day declined, and no messenger returned from

      The idea of passing another night in the woods was extremely
      disheartening; for I began to be satisfied with what I had seen
      of robber life. The chieftain now ordered his men to follow him,
      that he might station them at their posts, adding, that if the
      messenger did not return before night they must shift their
      quarters to some other place.

      I was again left alone with the young bandit who had before
      guarded me: he had the same gloomy air and haggard eye, with now
      and then a bitter sardonic smile. I was determined to probe this
      ulcerated heart, and reminded him of a kind of promise he had
      given me to tell me the cause of his suffering.

      It seemed to me as if these troubled spirits were glad of an
      opportunity to disburthen themselves; and of having some fresh
      undiseased mind with which they could communicate. I had hardly
      made the request but he seated himself by my side, and gave me
      his story in, as nearly as I can recollect, the following words.


      I was born at the little town of Frosinone, which lies at the
      skirts of the Abruzzi. My father had made a little property in
      trade, and gave me some education, as he intended me for the
      church, but I had kept gay company too much to relish the cowl,
      so I grew up a loiterer about the place. I was a heedless fellow,
      a little quarrelsome on occasions, but good-humored in the main,
      so I made my way very well for a time, until I fell in love.
      There lived in our town a surveyor, or land bailiff, of the
      prince’s who had a young daughter, a beautiful girl of sixteen.
      She was looked upon as something better than the common run of
      our townsfolk, and kept almost entirely at home. I saw her
      occasionally, and became madly in love with her, she looked so
      fresh and tender, and so different to the sunburnt females to
      whom I had been accustomed.

      As my father kept me in money, I always dressed well, and took
      all Opportunities of showing myself to advantage in the eyes of
      the little beauty. I used to see her at church; and as I could
      play a little upon the guitar, I gave her a tune sometimes under
      her window of an evening; and I tried to have interviews with her
      in her father’s vineyard, not far from the town, where she
      sometimes walked. She was evidently pleased with me, but she was
      young and shy, and her Father kept a strict eye upon her, and
      took alarm at my attentions, for he had a bad opinion of me, and
      looked for a better match for his daughter. I became furious at
      the difficulties thrown in my way, having been accustomed always
      to easy success among the women, being considered one of the
      smartest young fellows of the place.

      Her father brought home a suitor for her; a rich farmer from a
      neighboring town. The wedding-day was appointed, and preparations
      were making. I got sight of her at her window, and I thought she
      looked sadly at me. I determined the match should not take place,
      cost what it might. I met her intended bridegroom in the
      market-place, and could not restrain the expression of my rage. A
      few hot words passed between us, when I drew my stiletto, and
      stabbed him to the heart. I fled to a neighboring church for
      refuge; and with a little money I obtained absolution; but I did
      not dare to venture from my asylum.

      At that time our captain was forming his troop. He had known me
      from boyhood, and hearing of my situation, came to me in secret,
      and made such offers that I agreed to enlist myself among his
      followers. Indeed, I had more than once thought of taking to this
      mode of life, having known several brave fellows of the
      mountains, who used to spend their money freely among us
      youngsters of the town. I accordingly left my asylum late one
      night, repaired to the appointed place of meeting; took the oaths
      prescribed, and became one of the troop. We were for some time in
      a distant part of the mountains, and our wild adventurous kind of
      life hit my fancy wonderfully, and diverted my thoughts. At
      length they returned with all their violence to the recollection
      of Rosetta. The solitude in which I often found myself gave me
      time to brood over her image, and as I have kept watch at night
      over our sleeping camp in the mountains, my feelings have been
      roused almost to a fever.

      At length we shifted our ground, and determined to make a descent
      upon the road between Terracina and Naples. In the course of our
      expedition, we passed a day or two in the woody mountains which
      rise above Frosinone. I cannot tell you how I felt when I looked
      down upon the place, and distinguished the residence of Rosetta.
      I determined to have an interview with her; but to what purpose?
      I could not expect that she would quit her home, and accompany me
      in my hazardous life among the mountains. She had been brought up
      too tenderly for that; and when I looked upon the women who were
      associated with some of our troop, I could not have borne the
      thoughts of her being their companion. All return to my former
      life was likewise hopeless; for a price was set upon my head.
      Still I determined to see her; the very hazard and fruitlessness
      of the thing made me furious to accomplish it.

      It is about three weeks since I persuaded our captain to draw
      down to the vicinity of Frosinone, in hopes of entrapping some of
      its principal inhabitants, and compelling them to a ransom. We
      were lying in ambush towards evening, not far from the vineyard
      of Rosetta’s father. I stole quietly from my companions, and drew
      near to reconnoitre the place of her frequent walks.

      How my heart beat when, among the vines, I beheld the gleaming of
      a white dress! I knew it must be Rosetta’s; it being rare for any
      female of the place to dress in white. I advanced secretly and
      without noise, until putting aside the vines, I stood suddenly
      before her. She uttered a piercing shriek, but I seized her in my
      arms, put my hand upon her mouth and conjured her to be silent. I
      poured out all the frenzy of my passion; offered to renounce my
      mode of life, to put my fate in her hands, to fly with her where
      we might live in safety together. All that I could say, or do,
      would not pacify her. Instead of love, horror and affright seemed
      to have taken possession of her breast.—She struggled partly from
      my grasp, and filled the air with her cries. In an instant the
      captain and the rest of my companions were around us. I would
      have given anything at that moment had she been safe out of our
      hands, and in her father’s house. It was too late. The captain
      pronounced her a prize, and ordered that she should be borne to
      the mountains. I represented to him that she was my prize, that I
      had a previous claim to her; and I mentioned my former
      attachment. He sneered bitterly in reply; observed that brigands
      had no business with village intrigues, and that, according to
      the laws of the troop, all spoils of the kind were determined by
      lot. Love and jealousy were raging in my heart, but I had to
      choose between obedience and death. I surrendered her to the
      captain, and we made for the mountains.

      She was overcome by affright, and her steps were so feeble and
      faltering, and it was necessary to support her. I could not
      endure the idea that my comrades should touch her, and assuming a
      forced tranquillity, begged that she might be confided to me, as
      one to whom she was more accustomed. The captain regarded me for
      a moment with a searching look, but I bore it without flinching,
      and he consented, I took her in my arms: she was almost
      senseless. Her head rested on my shoulder, her mouth was near to
      mine. I felt her breath on my face, and it seemed to fan the
      flame which devoured me. Oh, God! to have this glowing treasure
      in my arms, and yet to think it was not mine!

      We arrived at the foot of the mountain. I ascended it with
      difficulty, particularly where the woods were thick; but I would
      not relinquish my delicious burthen. I reflected with rage,
      however, that I must soon do so. The thoughts that so delicate a
      creature must be abandoned to my rude companions, maddened me. I
      felt tempted, the stiletto in my hand, to cut my way through them
      all, and bear her off in triumph. I scarcely conceived the idea,
      before I saw its rashness; but my brain was fevered with the
      thought that any but myself should enjoy her charms. I endeavored
      to outstrip my companions by the quickness of my movements; and
      to get a little distance ahead, in case any favorable opportunity
      of escape should present. Vain effort! The voice of the captain
      suddenly ordered a halt. I trembled, but had to obey. The poor
      girl partly opened a languid eye, but was without strength or
      motion. I laid her upon the grass. The captain darted on me a
      terrible look of suspicion, and ordered me to scour the woods
      with my companions, in search of some shepherd who might be sent
      to her father’s to demand a ransom.

      I saw at once the peril. To resist with violence was certain
      death; but to leave her alone, in the power of the captain!—I
      spoke out then with a fervor inspired by my passion and my
      despair. I reminded the captain that I was the first to seize
      her; that she was my prize, and that my previous attachment for
      her should make her sacred among my companions. I insisted,
      therefore, that he should pledge me his word to respect her;
      otherwise I should refuse obedience to his orders. His only reply
      was, to cock his carbine; and at the signal my comrades did the
      same. They laughed with cruelty at my impotent rage. What could I
      do? I felt the madness of resistance. I was menaced on all hands,
      and my companions obliged me to follow them. She remained alone
      with the chief—yes, alone and almost lifeless!—

      Here the robber paused in his recital, overpowered by his
      emotions. Great drops of sweat stood on his forehead; he panted
      rather than breathed; his brawny bosom rose and fell like the
      waves of a troubled sea. When he had become a little calm, he
      continued his recital.

      I was not long in finding a shepherd, said he. I ran with the
      rapidity of a deer, eager, if possible, to get back before what I
      dreaded might take place. I had left my companions far behind,
      and I rejoined them before they had reached one-half the distance
      I had made. I hurried them back to the place where we had left
      the captain. As we approached, I beheld him seated by the side of
      Rosetta. His triumphant look, and the desolate condition of the
      unfortunate girl, left me no doubt of her fate. I know not how I
      restrained my fury.

      It was with extreme difficulty, and by guiding her hand, that she
      was made to trace a few characters, requesting her father to send
      three hundred dollars as her ransom. The letter was despatched by
      the shepherd. When he was gone, the chief turned sternly to me:
      “You have set an example,” said he, “of mutiny and self-will,
      which if indulged would be ruinous to the troop. Had I treated
      you as our laws require, this bullet would have been driven
      through your brain. But you are an old friend; I have borne
      patiently with your fury and your folly; I have even protected
      you from a foolish passion that would have unmanned you. As to
      this girl, the laws of our association must have their course.”
      So saying, he gave his commands, lots were drawn, and the
      helpless girl was abandoned to the troop.

      Here the robber paused again, panting with fury and it was some
      moments before he could resume his story.

      Hell, said he, was raging in my heart. I beheld the impossibility
      of avenging myself, and I felt that, according to the articles in
      which we stood bound to one another, the captain was in the
      right. I rushed with frenzy from the place. I threw myself upon
      the earth; tore up the grass with my hands, and beat my head, and
      gnashed my teeth in agony and rage. When at length I returned, I
      beheld the wretched victim, pale, dishevelled; her dress torn and
      disordered. An emotion of pity for a moment subdued my fiercer
      feelings. I bore her to the foot of a tree, and leaned her gently
      against it. I took my gourd, which was filled with wine, and
      applying it to her lips, endeavored to make her swallow a little.
      To what a condition was she recovered! She, whom I had once seen
      the pride of Frosinone, who but a short time before I had beheld
      sporting in her father’s vineyard, so fresh and beautiful and
      happy! Her teeth were clenched; her eyes fixed on the ground; her
      form without motion, and in a state of absolute insensibility. I
      hung over her in an agony of recollection of all that she had
      been, and of anguish at what I now beheld her. I darted round a
      look of horror at my companions, who seemed like so many fiends
      exulting in the downfall of an angel, and I felt a horror at
      myself for being their accomplice.

      The captain, always suspicious, saw with his usual penetration
      what was passing within me, and ordered me to go upon the ridge
      of woods to keep a look-out upon the neighborhood and await the
      return of the shepherd. I obeyed, of course, stifling the fury
      that raged within me, though I felt for the moment that he was my
      most deadly foe.

      On my way, however, a ray of reflection came across my mind. I
      perceived that the captain was but following with strictness the
      terrible laws to which we had sworn fidelity. That the passion by
      which I had been blinded might with justice have been fatal to me
      but for his forbearance; that he had penetrated my soul, and had
      taken precautions, by sending me out of the way, to prevent my
      committing any excess in my anger. From that instant I felt that
      I was capable of pardoning him.

      Occupied with these thoughts, I arrived at the foot of the
      mountain. The country was solitary and secure; and in a short
      time I beheld the shepherd at a distance crossing the plain. I
      hastened to meet him. He had obtained nothing. He had found the
      father plunged in the deepest distress. He had read the letter
      with violent emotion, and then calming himself with a sudden
      exertion, he had replied coldly, “My daughter has been dishonored
      by those wretches; let her be returned without ransom, or let her

      I shuddered at this reply. I knew, according to the laws of our
      troop, her death was inevitable. Our oaths required it. I felt,
      nevertheless, that, not having been able to have her to myself, I
      could become her executioner!

      The robber again paused with agitation. I sat musing upon his
      last Frightful words, which proved to what excess the passions
      may be carried when escaped from all moral restraint. There was a
      horrible verity in this story that reminded me of some of the
      tragic fictions of Danté.

      We now came to a fatal moment, resumed the bandit. After the
      report of the shepherd, I returned with him, and the chieftain
      received from his lips the refusal of the father. At a signal,
      which we all understood, we followed him some distance from the
      victim. He there pronounced her sentence of death. Every one
      stood ready to execute his order; but I interfered. I observed
      that there was something due to pity, as well as to justice. That
      I was as ready as any one to approve the implacable law which was
      to serve as a warning to all those who hesitated to pay the
      ransoms demanded for our prisoners, but that, though the
      sacrifice was proper, it ought to be made without cruelty. The
      night is approaching, continued I; she will soon be wrapped in
      sleep; let her then be despatched. All that I now claim on the
      score of former fondness for her is, let me strike the blow. I
      will do it as surely, but more tenderly than another.

      Several raised their voices against my proposition, but the
      captain Imposed silence on them. He told me I might conduct her
      into a thicket at some distance, and he relied upon my promise.

      I hastened to seize my prey. There was a forlorn kind of triumph
      at having at length become her exclusive possessor. I bore her
      off into the thickness of the forest. She remained in the same
      state of insensibility and stupor. I was thankful that she did
      not recollect me; for had she once murmured my name, I should
      have been overcome. She slept at length in the arms of him who
      was to poniard her. Many were the conflicts I underwent before I
      could bring myself to strike the blow. My heart had become sore
      by the recent conflicts it had undergone, and I dreaded lest, by
      procrastination, some other should become her executioner. When
      her repose had continued for some time, I separated myself gently
      from her, that I might not disturb her sleep, and seizing
      suddenly my poniard, plunged it into her bosom. A painful and
      concentrated murmur, but without any convulsive movement,
      accompanied her last sigh. So perished this unfortunate.

      He ceased to speak. I sat horror-struck, covering my face with my
      hands, seeking, as it were, to hide from myself the frightful
      images he had presented to my mind. I was roused from this
      silence by the voice of the captain. “You sleep,” said he, “and
      it is time to be off. Come, we must abandon this height, as night
      is setting in, and the messenger is not returned. I will post
      some one on the mountain edge, to conduct him to the place where
      we shall pass the night.”

      This was no agreeable news to me. I was sick at heart with the
      dismal story I had heard. I was harassed and fatigued, and the
      sight of the banditti began to grow insupportable to me.

      The captain assembled his comrades. We rapidly descended the
      forest which we had mounted with so much difficulty in the
      morning, and soon arrived in what appeared to be a frequented
      road. The robbers proceeded with great caution, carrying their
      guns cocked, and looking on every side with wary and suspicious
      eyes. They were apprehensive of encountering the civic patrole.
      We left Rocca Priori behind us. There was a fountain near by, and
      as I was excessively thirsty, I begged permission to stop and
      drink. The captain himself went, and brought me water in his hat.
      We pursued our route, when, at the extremity of an alley which
      crossed the road, I perceived a female on horseback, dressed in
      white. She was alone. I recollected the fate of the poor girl in
      the story, and trembled for her safety.

      One of the brigands saw her at the same instant, and plunging
      into the bushes, he ran precipitately in the direction towards
      her. Stopping on the border of the alley, he put one knee to the
      ground, presented his carbine ready for menace, or to shoot her
      horse if she attempted to fly, and in this way awaited her
      approach. I kept my eyes fixed on her with intense anxiety. I
      felt tempted to shout, and warn her of her danger, though my own
      destruction would have been the consequence. It was awful to see
      this tiger crouching ready for a bound, and the poor innocent
      victim wandering unconsciously near him. Nothing but a mere
      chance could save her. To my joy, the chance turned in her favor.
      She seemed almost accidentally to take an opposite path, which
      led outside of the wood, where the robber dare not venture. To
      this casual deviation she owed her safety.

      I could not imagine why the captain of the band had ventured to
      such a distance from the height, on which he had placed the
      sentinel to watch the return of the messengers. He seemed himself
      uneasy at the risk to which he exposed himself. His movements
      were rapid and uneasy; I could scarce keep pace with him. At
      length, after three hours of what might be termed a forced march,
      we mounted the extremity of the same woods, the summit of which
      we had occupied during the day; and I learnt with satisfaction,
      that we had reached our quarters for the night.

      “You must be fatigued,” said the chieftain; “but it was necessary
      to survey the environs, so as not to be surprised during the
      night. Had we met with the famous civic guard of Rocca Priori you
      would have seen fine sport.” Such was the indefatigable
      precaution and forethought of this robber chief, who really gave
      continual evidences of military talent.

      The night was magnificent. The moon rising above the horizon in a
      cloudless sky, faintly lit up the grand features of the
      mountains, while lights twinkling here and there, like
      terrestrial stars, in the wide, dusky expanse of the landscape,
      betrayed the lonely cabins of the shepherds. Exhausted by
      fatigue, and by the many agitations I had experienced, I prepared
      to sleep, soothed by the hope of approaching deliverance. The
      captain ordered his companions to collect some dry moss; he
      arranged with his own hands a kind of mattress and pillow of it,
      and gave me his ample mantle as a covering. I could not but feel
      both surprised and gratified by such unexpected attentions on the
      part of this benevolent cut-throat: for there is nothing more
      striking than to find the ordinary charities, which are matters
      of course in common life, flourishing by the side of such stern
      and sterile crime. It is like finding the tender flowers and
      fresh herbage of the valley growing among the rocks and cinders
      of the volcano.

      Before I fell asleep, I had some farther discourse with the
      captain, who seemed to put great confidence in me. He referred to
      our previous conversation of the morning; told me he was weary of
      his hazardous profession; that he had acquired sufficient
      property, and was anxious to return to the world and lead a
      peaceful life in the bosom of his family. He wished to know
      whether it was not in my power to procure him a passport for the
      United States of America. I applauded his good intentions, and
      promised to do everything in my power to promote its success. We
      then parted for the night. I stretched myself upon my couch of
      moss, which, after my fatigues, felt like a bed of down, and
      sheltered by the robber’s mantle from all humidity, I slept
      soundly without waking, until the signal to arise.

      It was nearly six o’clock, and the day was just dawning. As the
      place where we had passed the night was too much exposed, we
      moved up into the thickness of the woods. A fire was kindled.
      While there was any flame, the mantles were again extended round
      it; but when nothing remained but glowing cinders, they were
      lowered, and the robbers seated themselves in a circle.

      The scene before me reminded me of some of those described by
      Homer. There wanted only the victim on the coals, and the sacred
      knife, to cut off the succulent parts, and distribute them
      around. My companions might have rivalled the grim warriors of
      Greece. In place of the noble repasts, however, of Achilles and
      Agamemnon, I beheld displayed on the grass the remains of the ham
      which had sustained so vigorous an attack on the preceding
      evening, accompanied by the reliques of the bread, cheese, and

      We had scarcely commenced our frugal breakfast, when I heard
      again an Imitation of the bleating of sheep, similar to what I
      had heard the day before. The captain answered it in the same
      tone. Two men were soon after seen descending from the woody
      height, where we had passed the preceding evening. On nearer
      approach, they proved to be the sentinel and the messenger. The
      captain rose and went to meet them. He made a signal for his
      comrades to join him. They had a short conference, and then
      returning to me with eagerness, “Your ransom is paid,” said he;
      “you are free!”

      Though I had anticipated deliverance, I cannot tell you what a
      rush of delight these tidings gave me. I cared not to finish my
      repast, but prepared to depart. The captain took me by the hand;
      requested permission to write to me, and begged me not to forget
      the passport. I replied, that I hoped to be of effectual service
      to him, and that I relied on his honor to return the prince’s
      note for five hundred dollars, now that the cash was paid. He
      regarded me for a moment with surprise; then, seeming to
      recollect himself, “E giusto,” said he, “eccoloadio!”1 He
      delivered me the note, pressed my hand once more, and we
      separated. The laborers were permitted to follow me, and we
      resumed with joy our road towards Tusculum.


      1 (return) [ It is just—there it is—adieu!]

      The artist ceased to speak; the party continued for a few moments
      to pace the shore of Terracina in silence. The story they had
      heard had made a deep impression on them, particularly on the
      fair Venetian, who had gradually regained her husband’s arm. At
      the part that related to the young girl of Frosinone, she had
      been violently affected; sobs broke from her; she clung close to
      her husband, and as she looked up to him as if for protection,
      the moon-beams shining on her beautifully fair countenance showed
      it paler than usual with terror, while tears glittered in her
      fine dark eyes. “O caro mio!” would she murmur, shuddering at
      every atrocious circumstance of the story.

      “Corragio, mia vita!” was the reply, as the husband gently and
      fondly tapped the white hand that lay upon his arm.

      The Englishman alone preserved his usual phlegm, and the fair
      Venetian was piqued at it.

      She had pardoned him a want of gallantry towards herself, though
      a sin of omission seldom met with in the gallant climate of
      Italy, but the quiet coolness which he maintained in matters
      which so much affected her, and the slow credence which he had
      given to the stories which had filled her with alarm, were quite

      “Santa Maria!” said she to husband as they retired for the night,
      “what insensible beings these English are!”

      In the morning all was bustle at the inn at Terracina.

      The procaccio had departed at day-break, on its route towards
      Rome, but the Englishman was yet to start, and the departure of
      an English equipage is always enough to keep an inn in a bustle.
      On this occasion there was more than usual stir; for the
      Englishman having much property about him, and having been
      convinced of the real danger of the road, had applied to the
      police and obtained, by dint of liberal pay, an escort of eight
      dragoons and twelve foot-soldiers, as far as Fondi.

      Perhaps, too, there might have been a little ostentation at
      bottom, from which, with great delicacy be it spoken, English
      travellers are not always exempt; though to say the truth, he had
      nothing of it in his manner. He moved about taciturn and reserved
      as usual, among the gaping crowd in his gingerbread-colored
      travelling cap, with his hands in his pockets. He gave laconic
      orders to John as he packed away the thousand and one
      indispensable conveniencies of the night, double loaded his
      pistols with great _sang-froid_, and deposited them in the
      pockets of the carriage, taking no notice of a pair of keen eyes
      gazing on him from among the herd of loitering idlers. The fair
      Venetian now came up with a request made in her dulcet tones,
      that he would permit their carriage to proceed under protection
      of his escort. The Englishman, who was busy loading another pair
      of pistols for his servant, and held the ramrod between his
      teeth, nodded assent as a matter of course, but without lifting
      up his eyes. The fair Venetian was not accustomed to such
      indifference. “O Dio!” ejaculated she softly as she retired,
      “como sono freddi questi Inglesi.” At length off they set in
      gallant style, the eight dragoons prancing in front, the twelve
      foot-soldiers marching in rear, and carriages moving slowly in
      the centre to enable the infantry to keep pace with them. They
      had proceeded but a few hundred yards when it was discovered that
      some indispensable article had been left behind.

      In fact, the Englishman’s purse was missing, and John was
      despatched to the inn to search for it.

      This occasioned a little delay, and the carriage of the Venetians
      drove slowly on. John came back out of breath and out of humor;
      the purse was not to be found; his master was irritated; he
      recollected the very place where it lay; the cursed Italian
      servant had pocketed it. John was again sent back. He returned
      once more, without the purse, but with the landlord and the whole
      household at his heels. A thousand ejaculations and
      protestations, accompanied by all sorts of grimaces and
      contortions. “No purse had been seen—his excellenza must be

      No—his excellenza was not mistaken; the purse lay on the marble
      table, under the mirror: a green purse, half full of gold and
      silver. Again a thousand grimaces and contortions, and vows by
      San Genario, that no purse of the kind had been seen.

      The Englishman became furious. “The waiter had pocketed it. The
      landlord was a knave. The inn a den of thieves—it was a d——d
      country—he had been cheated and plundered from one end of it to
      the other—but he’d have satisfaction—he’d drive right off to the

      He was on the point of ordering the postilions to turn back,
      when, on rising, he displaced the cushion of the carriage, and
      the purse of money fell chinking to the floor.

      All the blood in his body seemed to rush into his face. “D—n the
      purse,” said he, as he snatched it up. He dashed a handful of
      money on the ground before the pale, cringing waiter. “There—be
      off,” cried he; “John, order the postilions to drive on.”

      Above half an hour had been exhausted in this altercation. The
      Venetian carriage had loitered along; its passengers looking out
      from time to time, and expecting the escort every moment to
      follow. They had gradually turned an angle of the road that shut
      them out of sight. The little army was again in motion, and made
      a very picturesque appearance as it wound along at the bottom of
      the rocks; the morning sunshine beaming upon the weapons of

      The Englishman lolled back in his carriage, vexed with himself at
      what had passed, and consequently out of humor with all the
      world. As this, however, is no uncommon case with gentlemen who
      travel for their pleasure, it is hardly worthy of remark.

      They had wound up from the coast among the hills, and came to a
      part of the road that admitted of some prospect ahead.

      “I see nothing of the lady’s carriage, sir,” said John, leaning
      over from the coach box.

      “Hang the lady’s carriage!” said the Englishman, crustily; “don’t
      plague me about the lady’s carriage; must I be continually
      pestered with strangers?”

      John said not another word, for he understood his master’s mood.
      The road grew more wild and lonely; they were slowly proceeding
      in a foot pace up a hill; the dragoons were some distance ahead,
      and had just reached the summit of the hill, when they uttered an
      exclamation, or rather shout, and galloped forward. The
      Englishman was aroused from his sulky revery. He stretched his
      head from the carriage, which had attained the brow of the hill.
      Before him extended a long hollow defile, commanded on one side
      by rugged, precipitous heights, covered with bushes and scanty
      forest trees. At some distance he beheld the carriage of the
      Venitians overturned; a numerous gang of desperadoes were rifling
      it; the young man and his servant were overpowered and partly
      stripped, and the lady was in the hands of two of the ruffians.

      The Englishman seized his pistols, sprang from his carriage, and
      called upon John to follow him. In the meantime, as the dragoons
      came forward, the robbers who were busy with the carriage quitted
      their spoil, formed themselves in the middle of the road, and
      taking deliberate aim, fired. One of the dragoons fell, another
      was wounded, and the whole were for a moment checked and thrown
      in confusion. The robbers loaded again in an instant. The
      dragoons had discharged their carbines, but without apparent
      effect; they received another volley, which, though none fell,
      threw them again into confusion. The robbers were loading a
      second time, when they saw the foot soldiers at hand.—“Scampa
      via!” was the word. They abandoned their prey, and retreated up
      the rocks; the soldiers after them. They fought from cliff to
      cliff, and bush to bush, the robbers turning every now and then
      to fire upon their pursuers; the soldiers scrambling after them,
      and discharging their muskets whenever they could get a chance.
      Sometimes a soldier or a robber was shot down, and came tumbling
      Among the cliffs. The dragoons kept firing from below, whenever a
      robber came in sight.

      The Englishman hastened to the scene of action, and the balls
      discharged at the dragoons had whistled past him as he advanced.
      One object, however, engrossed his attention. It was the
      beautiful Venetian lady in the hands of two of the robbers, who,
      during the confusion of the fight, carried her shrieking up the
      mountains. He saw her dress gleaming among the bushes, and he
      sprang up the rocks to intercept the robbers as they bore off
      their prey. The ruggedness of the steep and the entanglements of
      the bushes, delayed and impeded him. He lost sight of the lady,
      but was still guided by her cries, which grew fainter and
      fainter. They were off to the left, while the report of muskets
      showed that the battle was raging to the right.

      At length he came upon what appeared to be a rugged footpath,
      faintly worn in a gully of the rock, and beheld the ruffians at
      some distance hurrying the lady up the defile. One of them
      hearing his approach let go his prey, advanced towards him, and
      levelling the carbine which had been slung on his back, fired.
      The ball whizzed through the Englishman’s hat, and carried with
      it some of his hair. He returned the fire with one of his
      pistols, and the robber fell. The other brigand now dropped the
      lady, and drawing a long pistol from his belt, fired on his
      adversary with deliberate aim; the ball passed between his left
      arm and his side, slightly wounding the arm. The Englishman
      advanced and discharged his remaining pistol, which wounded the
      robber, but not severely. The brigand drew a stiletto, and rushed
      upon his adversary, who eluded the blow, receiving merely a
      slight wound, and defending himself with his pistol, which had a
      spring bayonet. They closed with one another, and a desperate
      struggle ensued. The robber was a square-built, thick-set, man,
      powerful, muscular, and active. The Englishman, though of larger
      frame and greater strength, was less active and less accustomed
      to athletic exercises and feats of hardihood, but he showed
      himself practised and skilled in the art of defence. They were on
      a craggy height, and the Englishman perceived that his antagonist
      was striving to press him to the edge.

      A side glance showed him also the robber whom he had first
      wounded, Scrambling up to the assistance of his comrade, stiletto
      in hand. He had, in fact, attained the summit of the cliff, and
      the Englishman saw him within a few steps, when he heard suddenly
      the report of a pistol and the ruffian fell. The shot came from
      John, who had arrived just in time to save his master.

      The remaining robber, exhausted by loss of blood and the violence
      of the contest, showed signs of faltering. His adversary pursued
      his advantage; pressed on him, and as his strength relaxed,
      dashed him headlong from the precipice. He looked after him and
      saw him lying motionless among the rocks below.

      The Englishman now sought the fair Venetian. He found her
      senseless on the ground. With his servant’s assistance he bore
      her down to the road, where her husband was raving like one

      The occasional discharge of fire-arms along the height showed
      that a Retreating fight was still kept up by the robbers. The
      carriage was righted; the baggage was hastily replaced; the
      Venetian, transported with joy and gratitude, took his lovely and
      senseless burthen in his arms, and the party resumed their route
      towards Fondi, escorted by the dragoons, leaving the foot
      soldiers to ferret out the banditti. While on the way John
      dressed his master’s wounds, which were found not to be serious.

      Before arriving at Fondi the fair Venetian had recovered from her
      swoon, and was made conscious of her safety and of the mode of
      her deliverance. Her transports were unbounded; and mingled with
      them were enthusiastic ejaculations of gratitude to her
      deliverer. A thousand times did she reproach herself for having
      accused him of coldness and insensibility. The moment she saw him
      she rushed into his arms, and clasped him round the neck with all
      the vivacity of her nation.

      Never was man more embarrassed by the embraces of a fine woman.

      “My deliverer! my angel!” exclaimed she.

      “Tut! tut!” said the Englishman.

      “You are wounded!” shrieked the fair Venetian, as she saw the
      blood upon his clothes.

      “Pooh—nothing at all!”

      “O Dio!” exclaimed she, clasping him again round the neck and
      sobbing on his bosom.

      “Pooh!” exclaimed the Englishman, looking somewhat foolish; “this
      is all nonsense.”



  Now I remember those old women’s words
  Who in my youth would tell me winter’s tales;
  And speak of spirits and ghosts that glide by night
  About the place where treasure had been hid.
                  —MARLOW’S JEW OF MALTA.

      HELL GATE.

      About six miles from the renowned city of the Manhattoes, and in
      that Sound, or arm of the sea, which passes between the main land
      and Nassau or Long Island, there is a narrow strait, where the
      current is violently compressed between shouldering promontories,
      and horribly irritated and perplexed by rocks and shoals. Being
      at the best of times a very violent, hasty current, its takes
      these impediments in mighty dudgeon; boiling in whirlpools;
      brawling and fretting in ripples and breakers; and, in short,
      indulging in all kinds of wrong-headed paroxysms. At such times,
      woe to any unlucky vessel that ventures within its clutches.

      This termagant humor is said to prevail only at half tides. At
      low water it is as pacific as any other stream. As the tide
      rises, it begins to fret; at half tide it rages and roars as if
      bellowing for more water; but when the tide is full it relapses
      again into quiet, and for a time seems almost to sleep as soundly
      as an alderman after dinner. It may be compared to an inveterate
      hard drinker, who is a peaceable fellow enough when he has no
      liquor at all, or when he has a skin full, but when half seas
      over plays the very devil.

      This mighty, blustering, bullying little strait was a place of
      great Difficulty and danger to the Dutch navigators of ancient
      days; hectoring their tub-built barks in a most unruly style;
      whirling them about, in a manner to make any but a Dutchman
      giddy, and not unfrequently stranding them upon rocks and reefs.
      Whereupon out of sheer spleen they denominated it Hellegat
      (literally Hell Gut) and solemnly gave it over to the devil. This
      appellation has since been aptly rendered into English by the
      name of Hell Gate; and into nonsense by the name of Hurl Gate,
      according to certain foreign intruders who neither understood
      Dutch nor English. May St. Nicholas confound them!

      From this strait to the city of the Manhattoes the borders of the
      Sound are greatly diversified; in one part, on the eastern shore
      of the island of Manhata and opposite Blackwell’s Island, being
      very much broken and indented by rocky nooks, overhung with trees
      which give them a wild and romantic look.

      The flux and reflux of the tide through this part of the Sound is
      extremely rapid, and the navigation troublesome, by reason of the
      whirling eddies and counter currents. I speak this from
      experience, having been much of a navigator of these small seas
      in my boyhood, and having more than once run the risk of
      shipwreck and drowning in the course of divers holiday voyages,
      to which in common with the Dutch urchins I was rather prone.

      In the midst of this perilous strait, and hard by a group of
      rocks called “the Hen and Chickens,” there lay in my boyish days
      the wreck of a vessel which had been entangled in the whirlpools
      and stranded during a storm. There was some wild story about this
      being the wreck of a pirate, and of some bloody murder, connected
      with it, which I cannot now recollect. Indeed, the desolate look
      of this forlorn hulk, and the fearful place where it lay rotting,
      were sufficient to awaken strange notions concerning it. A row of
      timber heads, blackened by time, peered above the surface at high
      water; but at low tide a considerable part of the hull was bare,
      and its great ribs or timbers, partly stripped of their planks,
      looked like the skeleton of some sea monster. There was also the
      stump of a mast, with a few ropes and blocks swinging about and
      whistling in the wind, while the sea gull wheeled and screamed
      around this melancholy carcass.

      The stories connected with this wreck made it an object of great
      awe to my boyish fancy; but in truth the whole neighborhood was
      full of fable and romance for me, abounding with traditions about
      pirates, hobgoblins, and buried money. As I grew to more mature
      years I made many researches after the truth of these strange
      traditions; for I have always been a curious investigator of the
      valuable, but obscure branches of the history of my native
      province. I found infinite difficulty, however, in arriving at
      any precise information. In seeking to dig up one fact it is
      incredible the number of fables which I unearthed; for the whole
      course of the Sound seemed in my younger days to be like the
      straits of Pylorus of yore, the very region of fiction. I will
      say nothing of the Devil’s Stepping Stones, by which that arch
      fiend made his retreat from Connecticut to Long Island, seeing
      that the subject is likely to be learnedly treated by a worthy
      friend and contemporary historian2 whom I have furnished with
      particulars thereof. Neither will I say anything of the black man
      in a three-cornered hat, seated in the stern of a jolly boat who
      used to be seen about Hell Gate in stormy weather; and who went
      by the name of the Pirate’s Spuke, or Pirate’s Ghost, because I
      never could meet with any person of stanch credibility who
      professed to have seen this spectrum; unless it were the widow of
      Manus Conklin, the blacksmith of Frog’s Neck, but then, poor
      woman, she was a little purblind, and might have been mistaken;
      though they said she saw farther than other folks in the dark.
      All this, however, was but little satisfactory in regard to the
      tales of buried money about which I was most curious; and the
      following was all that I could for a long time collect that had
      anything like an air of authenticity.


      2 (return) [ For a very interesting account of the Devil and his
      Stepping Stones, see the learned memoir read before the New York
      Historical Society since the death of Mr. Knickerbocker, by his
      friend, an eminent jurist of the place.]


      In old times, just after the territory of the New Netherlands had
      been wrested from the hands of their High Mightinesses, the Lords
      States General of Holland, by Charles the Second, and while it
      was as yet in an unquiet state, the province was a favorite
      resort of adventurers of all kinds, and particularly of
      buccaneers. These were piratical rovers of the deep, who made sad
      work in times of peace among the Spanish settlements and Spanish
      merchant ships. They took advantage of the easy access to the
      harbor of the Manhattoes, and of the laxity of its
      scarcely-organized government, to make it a kind of rendezvous,
      where they might dispose of their ill-gotten spoils, and concert
      new depredations. Crews of these desperadoes, the runagates of
      every country and clime, might be seen swaggering, in open day,
      about the streets of the little burgh; elbowing its quiet
      Mynheers; trafficking away their rich outlandish plunder, at half
      price, to the wary merchant, and then squandering their gains in
      taverns; drinking, gambling, singing, swearing, shouting, and
      astounding the neighborhood with sudden brawl and ruffian

      At length the indignation of government was aroused, and it was
      determined to ferret out this vermin brood from, the colonies.
      Great consternation took place among the pirates on finding
      justice in pursuit of them, and their old haunts turned to places
      of peril. They secreted their money and jewels in lonely
      out-of-the-way places; buried them about the wild shores of the
      rivers and sea-coast, and dispersed themselves over the face of
      the country.

      Among the agents employed to hunt them by sea was the renowned
      Captain Kidd. He had long been a hardy adventurer, a kind of
      equivocal borderer, half trader, half smuggler, with a tolerable
      dash of the pickaroon. He had traded for some time among the
      pirates, lurking about the seas in a little rakish,
      musquito-built vessel, prying into all kinds of odd places, as
      busy as a Mother Carey’s chicken in a gale of wind.

      This nondescript personage was pitched upon by government as the
      very man to command a vessel fitted out to cruise against the
      pirates, since he knew all their haunts and lurking-places:
      acting upon the shrewd old maxim of “setting a rogue to catch a
      rogue.” Kidd accordingly sailed from New York in the Adventure
      galley, gallantly armed and duly commissioned, and steered his
      course to the Madeiras, to Bonavista, to Madagascar, and cruised
      at the entrance of the Red Sea. Instead, however, of making war
      upon the pirates, he turned pirate himself: captured friend or
      foe; enriched himself with the spoils of a wealthy Indiaman,
      manned by Moors, though commanded by an Englishman, and having
      disposed of his prize, had the hardihood to return to Boston,
      laden with wealth, with a crew of his comrades at his heels.

      His fame had preceded him. The alarm was given of the
      reappearance of this cut-purse of the ocean. Measures were taken
      for his arrest; but he had time, it is said, to bury the greater
      part of his treasures. He even attempted to draw his sword and
      defend himself when arrested; but was secured and thrown into
      prison, with several of his followers. They were carried to
      England in a frigate, where they were tried, condemned, and
      hanged at Execution Dock. Kidd died hard, for the rope with which
      he was first tied up broke with his weight, and he tumbled to the
      ground; he was tied up a second time, and effectually; from
      whence arose the story of his having been twice hanged.

      Such is the main outline of Kidd’s history; but it has given
      birth to an innumerable progeny of traditions. The circumstance
      of his having buried great treasures of gold and jewels after
      returning from his cruising set the brains of all the good people
      along the coast in a ferment. There were rumors on rumors of
      great sums found here and there; sometimes in one part of the
      country, sometimes in another; of trees and rocks bearing
      mysterious marks; doubtless indicating the spots where treasure
      lay hidden; of coins found with Moorish characters, the plunder
      of Kidd’s eastern prize, but which the common people took for
      diabolical or magic inscriptions.

      Some reported the spoils to have been buried in solitary
      unsettled places about Plymouth and Cape Cod; many other parts of
      the Eastern coast, also, and various places in Long Island Sound,
      have been gilded by these rumors, and have been ransacked by
      adventurous money-diggers.

      In all the stories of these enterprises the devil played a
      conspicuous part. Either he was conciliated by ceremonies and
      invocations, or some bargain or compact was made with him. Still
      he was sure to play the money-diggers some slippery trick. Some
      had succeeded so far as to touch the iron chest which contained
      the treasure, when some baffling circumstance was sure to take
      place. Either the earth would fall in and fill up the pit or some
      direful noise or apparition would throw the party into a panic
      and frighten them from the place; and sometimes the devil himself
      would appear and bear off the prize from their very grasp; and if
      they visited the place on the next day, not a trace would be seen
      of their labors of the preceding night.

      Such were the vague rumors which for a long time tantalized
      without gratifying my curiosity on the interesting subject of
      these pirate traditions. There is nothing in this world so hard
      to get at as truth. I sought among my favorite sources of
      authentic information, the oldest inhabitants, and particularly
      the old Dutch wives of the province; but though I flatter myself
      I am better versed than most men in the curious history of my
      native province, yet for a long time my inquiries were unattended
      with any substantial result.

      At length it happened, one calm day in the latter part of summer,
      that I was relaxing myself from the toils of severe study by a
      day’s amusement in fishing in those waters which had been the
      favorite resort of my boyhood. I was in company with several
      worthy burghers of my native city. Our sport was indifferent; the
      fish did not bite freely; and we had frequently changed our
      fishing ground without bettering our luck. We at length anchored
      close under a ledge of rocky coast, on the eastern side of the
      island of Manhata. It was a still, warm day. The stream whirled
      and dimpled by us without a wave or even a ripple, and every
      thing was so calm and quiet that it was almost startling when the
      kingfisher would pitch himself from the branch of some dry tree,
      and after suspending himself for a moment in the air to take his
      aim, would souse into the smooth water after his prey. While we
      were lolling in our boat, half drowsy with the warm stillness of
      the day and the dullness of our sport, one of our party, a worthy
      alderman, was overtaken by a slumber, and, as he dozed, suffered
      the sinker of his drop-line to lie upon the bottom of the river.
      On waking, he found he had caught something of importance, from
      the weight; on drawing it to the surface, we were much surprised
      to find a long pistol of very curious and outlandish fashion,
      which, from its rusted condition, and its stock being worm-eaten
      and covered with barnacles, appeared to have been a long time
      under water. The unexpected appearance of this document of
      warfare occasioned much speculation among my pacific companions.
      One supposed it to have fallen there during the revolutionary
      war. Another, from the peculiarity of its fashion, attributed it
      to the voyagers in the earliest days of the settlement; perchance
      to the renowned Adrian Block, who explored the Sound and
      discovered Block Island, since so noted for its cheese. But a
      third, after regarding it for some time, pronounced it to be of
      veritable Spanish workmanship.

      “I’ll warrant,” said he, “if this pistol could talk it would tell
      strange stories of hard fights among the Spanish Dons. I’ve not a
      doubt but it’s a relique of the buccaneers of old times.”

      “Like enough,” said another of the party. “There was Bradish the
      pirate, who at the time Lord Bellamont made such a stir after the
      buccaneers, buried money and jewels somewhere in these parts or
      on Long-Island; and then there was Captain Kidd—”

      “Ah, that Kidd was a daring dog,” said an iron-faced Cape Cod
      whaler. “There’s a fine old song about him, all to the tune of:

  ‘My name is Robert Kidd,
  As I sailed, as I sailed.’

      And it tells how he gained the devil’s good graces by burying the

  ‘I had the Bible in my hand,
  As I sailed, as I sailed,
  And I buried it in the sand,
  As I sailed.’

      Egad, if this pistol had belonged to him I should set some store
      by it out of sheer curiosity. Ah, well, there’s an odd story I
      have heard about one Tom Walker, who, they say, dug up some of
      Kidd’s buried money; and as the fish don’t seem to bite at
      present, I’ll tell it to you to pass away time.”


      A few miles from Boston, in Massachusetts, there is a deep inlet
      winding several miles into the interior of the country from
      Charles Bay, and terminating in a thickly-wooded swamp, or
      morass. On one side of this inlet is a beautiful dark grove; on
      the opposite side the land rises abruptly from the water’s edge,
      into a high ridge on which grow a few scattered oaks of great age
      and immense size. It was under one of these gigantic trees,
      according to old stories, that Kidd the pirate buried his
      treasure. The inlet allowed a facility to bring the money in a
      boat secretly and at night to the very foot of the hill. The
      elevation of the place permitted a good look-out to be kept that
      no one was at hand, while the remarkable trees formed good
      landmarks by which the place might easily be found again. The old
      stories add, moreover, that the devil presided at the hiding of
      the money, and took it under his guardianship; but this, it is
      well-known, he always does with buried treasure, particularly
      when it has been ill gotten. Be that as it may, Kidd never
      returned to recover his wealth; being shortly after seized at
      Boston, sent out to England, and there hanged for a pirate.

      About the year 1727, just at the time when earthquakes were
      prevalent in New England, and shook many tall sinners down upon
      their knees, there lived near this place a meagre miserly fellow
      of the name of Tom Walker. He had a wife as miserly as himself;
      they were so miserly that they even conspired to cheat each
      other. Whatever the woman could lay hands on she hid away; a hen
      could not cackle but she was on the alert to secure the new-laid
      egg. Her husband was continually prying about to detect her
      secret hoards, and many and fierce were the conflicts that took
      place about what ought to have been common property. They lived
      in a forlorn-looking house, that stood alone and had an air of
      starvation. A few straggling savin trees, emblems of sterility,
      grew near it; no smoke ever curled from its chimney; no traveller
      stopped at its door. A miserable horse, whose ribs were as
      articulate as the bars of a gridiron, stalked about a field where
      a thin carpet of moss, scarcely covering the ragged beds of
      pudding-stone, tantalized and balked his hunger; and sometimes he
      would lean his head over the fence, looked piteously at the
      passer-by, and seem to petition deliverance from this land of

      The house and its inmates had altogether a bad name. Tom’s wife
      was a tall termagant, fierce of temper, loud of tongue, and
      strong of arm. Her voice was often heard in wordy warfare with
      her husband; and his face sometimes showed signs that their
      conflicts were not confined to words. No one ventured, however,
      to interfere between them; the lonely wayfarer shrunk within
      himself at the horrid clamor and clapper-clawing; eyed the den of
      discord askance, and hurried on his way, rejoicing, if a
      bachelor, in his celibacy.

      One day that Tom Walker had been to a distant part of the
      neighborhood, he took what he considered a short cut homewards
      through the swamp. Like most short cuts, it was an ill-chosen
      route. The swamp was thickly grown with great gloomy pines and
      hemlocks, some of them ninety feet high; which made it dark at
      noon-day, and a retreat for all the owls of the neighborhood. It
      was full of pits and quagmires, partly covered with weeds and
      mosses; where the green surface often betrayed the traveller into
      a gulf of black smothering mud; there were also dark and stagnant
      pools, the abodes of the tadpole, the bull-frog, and the
      water-snake, and where trunks of pines and hemlocks lay half
      drowned, half rotting, looking like alligators, sleeping in the

      Tom had long been picking his way cautiously through this
      treacherous forest; stepping from tuft to tuft of rushes and
      roots which afforded precarious footholds among deep sloughs; or
      pacing carefully, like a cat, among the prostrate trunks of
      trees; startled now and then by the sudden screaming of the
      bittern, or the quacking of a wild duck, rising on the wing from
      some solitary pool. At length he arrived at a piece of firm
      ground, which ran out like a peninsula into the deep bosom of the
      swamp. It had been one of the strongholds of the Indians during
      their wars with the first colonists. Here they had thrown up a
      kind of fort which they had looked upon as almost impregnable,
      and had used as a place of refuge for their squaws and children.
      Nothing remained of the Indian fort but a few embankments
      gradually sinking to the level of the surrounding earth, and
      already overgrown in part by oaks and other forest trees, the
      foliage of which formed a contrast to the dark pines and hemlocks
      of the swamp.

      It was late in the dusk of evening that Tom Walker reached the
      old fort, and he paused there for a while to rest himself. Any
      one but he would have felt unwilling to linger in this lonely,
      melancholy place, for the common people had a bad opinion of it
      from the stories handed down from the time of the Indian wars;
      when it was asserted that the savages held incantations here and
      made sacrifices to the evil spirit. Tom Walker, however, was not
      a man to be troubled with any fears of the kind.

      He reposed himself for some time on the trunk of a fallen
      hemlock, listening to the boding cry of the tree-toad, and
      delving with his walking-staff into a mound of black mould at his
      feet. As he turned up the soil unconsciously, his staff struck
      against something hard. He raked it out of the vegetable mould,
      and lo! a cloven skull with an Indian tomahawk buried deep in it,
      lay before him. The rust on the weapon showed the time that had
      elapsed since this death blow had been given. It was a dreary
      memento of the fierce struggle that had taken place in this last
      foothold of the Indian warriors.

      “Humph!” said Tom Walker, as he gave the skull a kick to shake
      the dirt from it.

      “Let that skull alone!” said a gruff voice.

      Tom lifted up his eyes and beheld a great black man, seated
      directly Opposite him on the stump of a tree. He was exceedingly
      surprised, having neither seen nor heard any one approach, and he
      was still more perplexed on observing, as well as the gathering
      gloom would permit, that the stranger was neither negro nor
      Indian. It is true, he was dressed in a rude, half Indian garb,
      and had a red belt or sash swathed round his body, but his face
      was neither black nor copper color, but swarthy and dingy and
      begrimed with soot, as if he had been accustomed to toil among
      fires and forges. He had a shock of coarse black hair, that stood
      out from his head in all directions; and bore an axe on his

      He scowled for a moment at Tom with a pair of great red eyes.

      “What are you doing in my grounds?” said the black man, with a
      hoarse growling voice.

      “Your grounds?” said Tom, with a sneer; “no more your grounds
      than mine: they belong to Deacon Peabody.”

      “Deacon Peabody be d——d,” said the stranger, “as I flatter myself
      he will be, if he does not look more to his own sins and less to
      his neighbor’s. Look yonder, and see how Deacon Peabody is

      Tom looked in the direction that the stranger pointed, and beheld
      one of the great trees, fair and flourishing without, but rotten
      at the core, and saw that it had been nearly hewn through, so
      that the first high wind was likely to blow it down. On the bark
      of the tree was scored the name of Deacon Peabody. He now looked
      round and found most of the tall trees marked with the names of
      some great men of the colony, and all more or less scored by the
      axe. The one on which he had been seated, and which had evidently
      just been hewn down, bore the name of Crowninshield; and he
      recollected a mighty rich man of that name, who made a vulgar
      display of wealth, which it was whispered he had acquired by

      “He’s just ready for burning!” said the black man, with a growl
      of triumph. “You see I am likely to have a good stock of firewood
      for winter.”

      “But what right have you,” said Tom, “to cut down Deacon
      Peabody’s timber?”

      “The right of prior claim,” said the other. “This woodland
      belonged to me long before one of your white-faced race put foot
      upon the soil.”

      “And pray, who are you, if I may be so bold?” said Tom.

      “Oh, I go by various names. I am the Wild Huntsman in some
      countries; the Black Miner in others. In this neighborhood I am
      known by the name of the Black Woodsman. I am he to whom the red
      men devoted this spot, and now and then roasted a white man by
      way of sweet-smelling sacrifice. Since the red men have been
      exterminated by you white savages, I amuse myself by presiding at
      the persecutions of quakers and anabaptists; I am the great
      patron and prompter of slave dealers, and the grand master of the
      Salem witches.”

      “The upshot of all which is, that, if I mistake not,” said Tom,
      sturdily, “you are he commonly called Old Scratch.”

      “The same at your service!” replied the black man, with a half
      civil nod.

      Such was the opening of this interview, according to the old
      story, though it has almost too familiar an air to be credited.
      One would think that to meet with such a singular personage in
      this wild, lonely place, would have shaken any man’s nerves; but
      Tom was a hard-minded fellow, not easily daunted, and he had
      lived so long with a termagant wife, that he did not even fear
      the devil.

      It is said that after this commencement they had a long and
      earnest Conversation together, as Tom returned homewards. The
      black man told him of great sums of money which had been buried
      by Kidd the pirate, under the oak trees on the high ridge not far
      from the morass. All these were under his command and protected
      by his power, so that none could find them but such as
      propitiated his favor. These he offered to place within Tom
      Walker’s reach, having conceived an especial kindness for him:
      but they were to be had only on certain conditions. What these
      conditions were, may easily be surmised, though Tom never
      disclosed them publicly. They must have been very hard, for he
      required time to think of them, and he was not a man to stick at
      trifles where money was in view. When they had reached the edge
      of the swamp the stranger paused.

      “What proof have I that all you have been telling me is true?”
      said Tom.

      “There is my signature,” said the black man, pressing his finger
      on Tom’s forehead. So saying, he turned off among the thickets of
      the swamp, and seemed, as Tom said, to go down, down, down, into
      the earth, until nothing but his head and shoulders could be
      seen, and so on until he totally disappeared.

      When Tom reached home he found the black print of a finger burnt,
      as it were, into his forehead, which nothing could obliterate.

      The first news his wife had to tell him was the sudden death of
      Absalom Crowninshield, the rich buccaneer. It was announced in
      the papers with the usual flourish, that “a great man had fallen
      in Israel.”

      Tom recollected the tree which his black friend had just hewn
      down, and which was ready for burning. “Let the freebooter
      roast,” said Tom, “who cares!” He now felt convinced that all he
      had heard and seen was no illusion.

      He was not prone to let his wife into his confidence; but as this
      was an uneasy secret, he willingly shared it with her. All her
      avarice was awakened at the mention of hidden gold, and she urged
      her husband to comply with the black man’s terms and secure what
      would make them wealthy for life. However Tom might have felt
      disposed to sell himself to the devil, he was determined not to
      do so to oblige his wife; so he flatly refused out of the mere
      spirit of contradiction. Many and bitter were the quarrels they
      had on the subject, but the more she talked the more resolute was
      Tom not to be damned to please her. At length she determined to
      drive the bargain on her own account, and if she succeeded, to
      keep all the gain to herself.

      Being of the same fearless temper as her husband, she sat off for
      the old Indian fort towards the close of a summer’s day. She was
      many hour’s absent. When she came back she was reserved and
      sullen in her replies. She spoke something of a black man whom
      she had met about twilight, hewing at the root of a tall tree. He
      was sulky, however, and would not come to terms; she was to go
      again with a propitiatory offering, but what it was she forebore
      to say.

      The next evening she sat off again for the swamp, with her apron
      heavily laden. Tom waited and waited for her, but in vain:
      midnight came, but she did not make her appearance; morning,
      noon, night returned, but still she did not come. Tom now grew
      uneasy for her safety; especially as he found she had carried off
      in her apron the silver tea pot and spoons and every portable
      article of value. Another night elapsed, another morning came;
      but no wife. In a word, she was ever heard of more.

      What was her real fate nobody knows, in consequence of so many
      pretending to know. It is one of those facts that have become
      confounded by a variety of historians. Some asserted that she
      lost her way among the tangled mazes of the swamp and sunk into
      some pit or slough; others, more uncharitable, hinted that she
      had eloped with the household booty, and made off to some other
      province; while others assert that the tempter had decoyed her
      into a dismal quagmire, on top of which her hat was found lying.
      In confirmation of this, it was said a great black man with an
      axe on his shoulder was seen late that very evening coming out of
      the swamp, carrying a bundle tied in a check apron, with an air
      of surly triumph.

      The most current and probable story, however, observes that Tom
      Walker grew so anxious about the fate of his wife and his
      property that he sat out at length to seek them both at the
      Indian fort. During a long summer’s afternoon he searched about
      the gloomy place, but no wife was to be seen. He called her name
      repeatedly, but she was no where to be heard. The bittern alone
      responded to his voice, as he flew screaming by; or the bull-frog
      croaked dolefully from a neighboring pool. At length, it is said,
      just in the brown hour of twilight, when the owls began to hoot
      and the bats to flit about, his attention was attracted by the
      clamor of carrion crows that were hovering about a cypress tree.
      He looked and beheld a bundle tied in a check apron and hanging
      in the branches of a tree; with a great vulture perched hard by,
      as if keeping watch upon it. He leaped with joy, for he
      recognized his wife’s apron, and supposed it to contain the
      household valuables.

      “Let us get hold of the property,” said he consolingly to
      himself, “and we will endeavor to do without the woman.”

      As he scrambled up the tree the vulture spread its wide wings,
      and sailed off screaming into the deep shadows of the forest. Tom
      seized the check apron, but, woful sight! found nothing but a
      heart and liver tied up in it.

      Such, according to the most authentic old story, was all that was
      to be found of Tom’s wife. She had probably attempted to deal
      with the black man as she had been accustomed to deal with her
      husband; but though a female scold is generally considered a
      match for the devil, yet in this instance she appears to have had
      the worst of it. She must have died game, however: from the part
      that remained unconquered. Indeed, it is said Tom noticed many
      prints of cloven feet deeply stamped about the tree, and several
      handfuls of hair that looked as if they had been plucked from the
      coarse black shock of the woodsman. Tom knew his wife’s prowess
      by experience. He shrugged his shoulders as he looked at the
      signs of a fierce clapper-clawing. “Egad,” said he to himself,
      “Old Scratch must have had a tough time of it!”

      Tom consoled himself for the loss of his property by the loss of
      his wife; for he was a little of a philosopher. He even felt
      something like gratitude towards the black woodsman, who he
      considered had done him a kindness. He sought, therefore, to
      cultivate a farther acquaintance with him, but for some time
      without success; the old black legs played shy, for whatever
      people may think, he is not always to be had for calling for; he
      knows how to play his cards when pretty sure of his game.

      At length, it is said, when delay had whetted Tom’s eagerness to
      the quick, and prepared him to agree to any thing rather than not
      gain the promised treasure, he met the black man one evening in
      his usual woodman dress, with his axe on his shoulder, sauntering
      along the edge of the swamp, and humming a tune. He affected to
      receive Tom’s advance with great indifference, made brief
      replies, and went on humming his tune.

      By degrees, however, Tom brought him to business, and they began
      to haggle about the terms on which the former was to have the
      pirate’s treasure. There was one condition which need not be
      mentioned, being generally understood in all cases where the
      devil grants favors; but there were others about which, though of
      less importance, he was inflexibly obstinate. He insisted that
      the money found through his means should be employed in his
      service. He proposed, therefore, that Tom should employ it in the
      black traffic; that is to say, that he should fit out a slave
      ship. This, however, Tom resolutely refused; he was bad enough,
      in all conscience; but the devil himself could not tempt him to
      turn slave dealer.

      Finding Tom so squeamish on this point, he did not insist upon
      it, but proposed instead that he should turn usurer; the devil
      being extremely anxious for the increase of usurers, looking upon
      them as his peculiar people.

      To this no objections were made, for it was just to Tom’s taste.

      “You shall open a broker’s shop in Boston next month,” said the
      black man.

      “I’ll do it to-morrow, if you wish,” said Tom Walker.

      “You shall lend money at two per cent a month.”

      “Egad, I’ll charge four!” replied Tom Walker.

      “You shall extort bonds, foreclose mortgages, drive the merchant
      to bankruptcy—”

      “I’ll drive him to the d—-l,” cried Tom Walker, eagerly.

      “You are the usurer for my money!” said the black legs, with
      delight. “When will you want the rhino?”

      “This very night.”

      “Done!” said the devil.

      “Done!” said Tom Walker.—So they shook hands and struck a

      A few days’ time saw Tom Walker seated behind his desk in a
      counting house in Boston. His reputation for a ready-moneyed man,
      who would lend money out for a good consideration, soon spread
      abroad. Every body remembers the days of Governor Belcher, when
      money was particularly scarce. It was a time of paper credit. The
      country had been deluged with government bills; the famous Land
      Bank had been established; there had been a rage for speculating;
      the people had run mad with schemes for new settlements; for
      building cities in the wilderness; land jobbers went about with
      maps of grants, and townships, and Eldorados, lying nobody knew
      where, but which every body was ready to purchase. In a word, the
      great speculating fever which breaks out every now and then in
      the country, had raged to an alarming degree, and body was
      dreaming of making sudden fortunes from nothing. As usual, the
      fever had subsided; the dream had gone off, and the imaginary
      fortunes with it; the patients were left in doleful plight, and
      the whole country resounded with the consequent cry of “hard

      At this propitious time of public distress did Tom Walker set up
      as a usurer in Boston. His door was soon thronged by customers.
      The needy and the adventurous; the gambling speculator; the
      dreaming land jobber; the thriftless tradesman; the merchant with
      cracked credit; in short, every one driven to raise money by
      desperate means and desperate sacrifices, hurried to Tom Walker.

      Thus Tom was the universal friend of the needy, and he acted like
      a “friend in need;” that is to say, he always exacted good pay
      and good security. In proportion to the distress of the applicant
      was the hardness of his terms. He accumulated bonds and
      mortgages; gradually squeezed his customers closer and closer;
      and sent them, at length, dry as a sponge from his door.

      In this way he made money hand over hand; became a rich and
      mighty man, and exalted his cocked hat upon ‘change. He built
      himself, as usual, a vast house, out of ostentation; but left the
      greater part of it unfinished and unfurnished out of parsimony.
      He even set up a carriage in the fullness of his vain-glory,
      though he nearly starved the horses which drew it; and as the
      ungreased wheels groaned and screeched on the axle trees, you
      would have thought you heard the souls of the poor debtors he was

      As Tom waxed old, however, he grew thoughtful. Having secured the
      good things of this world, he began to feel anxious about those
      of the next. He thought with regret on the bargain he had made
      with his black friend, and set his wits to work to cheat him out
      of the conditions. He became, therefore, all of a sudden, a
      violent church-goer. He prayed loudly and strenuously as if
      heaven were to be taken by force of lungs. Indeed, one might
      always tell when he had sinned most during the week, by the
      clamor of his Sunday devotion. The quiet Christians who had been
      modestly and steadfastly travelling Zion-ward, were struck with
      self-reproach at seeing themselves so suddenly outstripped in
      their career by this new-made convert. Tom was as rigid in
      religious, as in money matters; he was a stern supervisor and
      censurer of his neighbors, and seemed to think every sin entered
      up to their account became a credit on his own side of the page.
      He even talked of the expediency of reviving the persecution of
      quakers and anabaptists. In a word, Tom’s zeal became as
      notorious as his riches.

      Still, in spite of all this strenuous attention to forms, Tom had
      a Lurking dread that the devil, after all, would have his due.
      That he might not be taken unawares, therefore, it is said he
      always carried a small Bible in his coat pocket. He had also a
      great folio Bible on his counting-house desk, and would
      frequently be found reading it when people called on business; on
      such occasions he would lay his green spectacles on the book, to
      mark the place, while he turned round to drive some usurious

      Some say that Tom grew a little crack-brained in his old days,
      and that fancying his end approaching, he had his horse new shod,
      saddled and bridled, and buried with his feet uppermost; because
      he supposed that at the last day the world would be turned upside
      down; in which case he should find his horse standing ready for
      mounting, and he was determined at the worst to give his old
      friend a run for it. This, however, is probably a mere old wives’
      fable. If he really did take such a precaution it was totally
      superfluous; at least so says the authentic old legend, which
      closes his story in the following manner:

      On one hot afternoon in the dog days, just as a terrible black
      thunder-gust was coming up, Tom sat in his counting-house in his
      white linen cap and India silk morning-gown. He was on the point
      of foreclosing a mortgage, by which he would complete the ruin of
      an unlucky land speculator for whom he had professed the greatest
      friendship. The poor land jobber begged him to grant a few
      months’ indulgence. Tom had grown testy and irritated and refused
      another day.

      “My family will be ruined and brought upon the parish,” said the
      land jobber.

      “Charity begins at home,” replied Tom, “I must take care of
      myself in these hard times.”

      “You have made so much money out of me,” said the speculator.

      Tom lost his patience and his piety—“The devil take me,” said he,
      “if I have made a farthing!”

      Just then there were three loud knocks at the street door. He
      stepped out to see who was there. A black man was holding a black
      horse which neighed and stamped with impatience.

      “Tom, you’re come for!” said the black fellow, gruffly. Tom
      shrunk back, but too late. He had left his little Bible at the
      bottom of his coat pocket, and his big Bible on the desk buried
      under the mortgage he was about to foreclose: never was sinner
      taken more unawares. The black man whisked him like a child
      astride the horse and away he galloped in the midst of a
      thunder-storm. The clerks stuck their pens behind their ears and
      stared after him from the windows. Away went Tom Walker, dashing
      down the street; his white cap bobbing up and down; his
      morning-gown fluttering in the wind, and his steed striking fire
      out of the pavement at every bound. When the clerks turned to
      look for the black man he had disappeared.

      Tom Walker never returned to foreclose the mortgage. A countryman
      who lived on the borders of the swamp, reported that in the
      height of the thunder-gust he had heard a great clattering of
      hoofs and a howling along the road, and that when he ran to the
      window he just caught sight of a figure, such as I have
      described, on a horse that galloped like mad across the fields,
      over the hills and down into the black hemlock swamp towards the
      old Indian fort; and that shortly after a thunder-bolt fell in
      that direction which seemed to set the whole forest in a blaze.

      The good people of Boston shook their heads and shrugged their
      shoulders, but had been so much accustomed to witches and goblins
      and tricks of the devil in all kinds of shapes from the first
      settlement of the colony, that they were not so much
      horror-struck as might have been expected. Trustees were
      appointed to take charge of Tom’s effects. There was nothing,
      however, to administer upon. On searching his coffers all his
      bonds and mortgages were found reduced to cinders. In place of
      gold and silver, his iron chest was filled with chips and
      shavings; two skeletons lay in his stable instead of his
      half-starved horses, and the very next day his great house took
      fire and was burnt to the ground.

      Such was the end of Tom Walker and his ill-gotten wealth. Let all
      griping money-brokers lay this story to heart. The truth of it is
      not to be doubted. The very hole under the oak trees, from whence
      he dug Kidd’s money, is to be seen to this day; and the
      neighboring swamp and old Indian fort is often haunted in stormy
      nights by a figure on horseback, in a morning-gown and white cap,
      which is doubtless the troubled spirit of the usurer. In fact,
      the story has resolved itself into a proverb, and is the origin
      of that popular saying prevalent throughout New-England, of “The
      Devil and Tom Walker.”

      Such, as nearly as I can recollect, was the tenor of the tale
      told by the Cape Cod whaler. There were divers trivial
      particulars which I have omitted, and which wiled away the
      morning very pleasantly, until the time of tide favorable for
      fishing being passed, it was proposed that we should go to land,
      and refresh ourselves under the trees, until the noontide heat
      should have abated.

      We accordingly landed on a delectable part of the island of
      Mannahatta, in that shady and embowered tract formerly under
      dominion of the ancient family of the Hardenbrooks. It was a spot
      well known to me in the course of the aquatic expeditions of my
      boyhood. Not far from where we landed, was an old Dutch family
      vault, in the side of a bank, which had been an object of great
      awe and fable among my schoolboy associates. There were several
      mouldering coffins within; but what gave it a fearful interest
      with us, was its being connected in our minds with the pirate
      wreck which lay among the rocks of Hell Gate. There were also
      stories of smuggling connected with it, particularly during a
      time that this retired spot was owned by a noted burgher called
      Ready Money Prevost; a man of whom it was whispered that he had
      many and mysterious dealings with parts beyond seas. All these
      things, however, had been jumbled together in our minds in that
      vague way in which such things are mingled up in the tales of

      While I was musing upon these matters my companions had spread a
      repast, from the contents of our well-stored pannier, and we
      solaced ourselves during the warm sunny hours of mid-day under
      the shade of a broad chestnut, on the cool grassy carpet that
      swept down to the water’s edge. While lolling on the grass I
      summoned up the dusky recollections of my boyhood respecting this
      place, and repeated them like the imperfectly remembered traces
      of a dream, for the entertainment of my companions. When I had
      finished, a worthy old burgher, John Josse Vandermoere, the same
      who once related to me the adventures of Dolph Heyliger, broke
      silence and observed, that he recollected a story about
      money-digging which occurred in this very neighborhood. As we
      knew him to be one of the most authentic narrators of the
      province we begged him to let us have the particulars, and
      accordingly, while we refreshed ourselves with a clean long pipe
      of Blase Moore’s tobacco, the authentic John Josse Vandermoere
      related the following tale.


      In the year of grace one thousand seven hundred and—blank—for I
      do not remember the precise date; however, it was somewhere in
      the early part of the last century, there lived in the ancient
      city of the Manhattoes a worthy burgher, Wolfert Webber by name.
      He was descended from old Cobus Webber of the Brille in Holland,
      one of the original settlers, famous for introducing the
      cultivation of cabbages, and who came over to the province during
      the protectorship of Oloffe Van Kortlandt, otherwise called the
      Dreamer. The field in which Cobus Webber first planted himself
      and his cabbages had remained ever since in the family, who
      continued in the same line of husbandry, with that praiseworthy
      perseverance for which our Dutch burghers are noted. The whole
      family genius, during several generations was devoted to the
      study and development of this one noble vegetable; and to this
      concentration of intellect may doubtless be ascribed the
      prodigious size and renown to which the Webber cabbages attained.

      The Webber dynasty continued in uninterrupted succession; and
      never did a line give more unquestionable proofs of legitimacy.
      The eldest son succeeded to the looks, as well as the territory
      of his sire; and had the portraits of this line of tranquil
      potentates been taken, they would have presented a row of heads
      marvellously resembling in shape and magnitude the vegetables
      over which they reigned.

      The seat of government continued unchanged in the family
      mansion:—a Dutch-built house, with a front, or rather gable-end
      of yellow brick, tapering to a point, with the customary iron
      weathercock at the top. Every thing about the building bore the
      air of long-settled ease and security. Flights of martins peopled
      the little coops nailed against the walls, and swallows built
      their nests under the eaves; and every one knows that these
      house-loving birds bring good luck to the dwelling where they
      take up their abode. In a bright sunny morning in early summer,
      it was delectable to hear their cheerful notes, as they sported
      about in the pure, sweet air, chirping forth, as it were, the
      greatness and prosperity of the Webbers.

      Thus quietly and comfortably did this excellent family vegetate
      under the shade of a mighty button-wood tree, which by little and
      little grew so great as entirely to overshadow their palace. The
      city gradually spread its suburbs round their domain. Houses
      sprung up to interrupt their prospects. The rural lanes in the
      vicinity began to grow into the bustle and populousness of
      streets; in short, with all the habits of rustic life they began
      to find themselves the inhabitants of a city.

      Still, however, they maintained their hereditary character, and
      Hereditary possessions, with all the tenacity of petty German
      princes in the midst of the Empire. Wolfert was the last of the
      line, and succeeded to the patriarchal bench at the door, under
      the family tree, and swayed the sceptre of his fathers, a kind of
      rural potentate in the midst of a metropolis.

      To share the cares and sweets of sovereignty, he had taken unto
      himself a help-mate, one of that excellent kind called stirring
      women; that is to say, she was one of those notable little
      housewives who are always busy when there is nothing to do. Her
      activity however, took one particular direction; her whole life
      seemed devoted to intense knitting; whether at home or abroad;
      walking or sitting, her needles were continually in motion, and
      it is even affirmed that by her unwearied industry she very
      nearly supplied her household with stockings throughout the year.
      This worthy couple were blessed with one daughter, who was
      brought up with great tenderness and care; uncommon pains had
      been taken with her education, so that she could stitch in every
      variety of way; make all kinds of pickles and preserves, and mark
      her own name on a sampler. The influence of her taste was seen
      also in the family garden, where the ornamental began to mingle
      with the useful; whole rows of fiery marigolds and splendid
      hollyhocks bordered the cabbage-beds; and gigantic sunflowers
      lolled their broad, jolly faces over the fences, seeming to ogle
      most affectionately the passers-by.

      Thus reigned and vegetated Wolfert Webber over his paternal
      acres, peaceably and contentedly. Not but that, like all other
      sovereigns, he had his occasional cares and vexations. The growth
      of his native city sometimes caused him annoyance. His little
      territory gradually became hemmed in by streets and houses, which
      intercepted air and sunshine. He was now and then subject to the
      irruptions of the border population, that infest the streets of a
      metropolis, who would sometimes make midnight forays into his
      dominions, and carry off captive whole platoons of his noblest
      subjects. Vagrant swine would make a descent, too, now and then,
      when the gate was left open, and lay all waste before them; and
      mischievous urchins would often decapitate the illustrious
      sunflowers, the glory of the garden, as they lolled their heads
      so fondly over the walls. Still all these were petty grievances,
      which might now and then ruffle the surface of his mind, as a
      summer breeze will ruffle the surface of a mill-pond; but they
      could not disturb the deep-seated quiet of his soul. He would
      seize a trusty staff, that stood behind the door, issue suddenly
      out, and anoint the back of the aggressor, whether pig or urchin,
      and then return within doors, marvellously refreshed and

      The chief cause of anxiety to honest Wolfert, however, was the
      growing prosperity of the city. The expenses of living doubled
      and trebled; but he could not double and treble the magnitude of
      his cabbages; and the number of competitors prevented the
      increase of price; thus, therefore, while every one around him
      grew richer, Wolfert grew poorer, and he could not, for the life
      of him, perceive how the evil was to be remedied.

      This growing care which increased from day to day, had its
      gradual effect upon our worthy burgher; insomuch, that it at
      length implanted two or three wrinkles on his brow; things
      unknown before in the family of the Webbers; and it seemed to
      pinch up the corners of his cocked hat into an expression of
      anxiety, totally opposite to the tranquil, broad-brimmed,
      low-crowned beavers of his illustrious progenitors.

      Perhaps even this would not have materially disturbed the
      serenity of his mind had he had only himself and his wife to care
      for; but there was his daughter gradually growing to maturity;
      and all the world knows when daughters begin to ripen no fruit or
      flower requires so much looking after. I have no talent at
      describing female charms, else fain would I depict the progress
      of this little Dutch beauty. How her blue eyes grew deeper and
      deeper, and her cherry lips redder and redder; and how she
      ripened and ripened, and rounded and rounded in the opening
      breath of sixteen summers, until, in her seventeenth spring, she
      seemed ready to burst out of her bodice like a half-blown

      Ah, well-a-day! could I but show her as she was then, tricked out
      on a Sunday morning in the hereditary finery of the old Dutch
      clothes-press, of which her mother had confided to her the key.
      The wedding dress of her grandmother, modernized for use, with
      sundry ornaments, handed down as heirlooms in the family. Her
      pale brown hair smoothed with buttermilk in flat waving lines on
      each side of her fair forehead. The chain of yellow virgin gold,
      that encircled her neck; the little cross, that just rested at
      the entrance of a soft valley of happiness, as if it would
      sanctify the place. The—but pooh!—it is not for an old man like
      me to be prosing about female beauty: suffice it to say, Amy had
      attained her seventeenth year. Long since had her sampler
      exhibited hearts in couples desperately transfixed with arrows,
      and true lovers’ knots worked in deep blue silk; and it was
      evident she began to languish for some more interesting
      occupation than the rearing of sunflowers or pickling of

      At this critical period of female existence, when the heart
      within a damsel’s bosom, like its emblem, the miniature which
      hangs without, is apt to be engrossed by a single image, a new
      visitor began to make his appearance under the roof of Wolfert
      Webber. This was Dirk Waldron, the only son of a poor widow, but
      who could boast of more fathers than any lad in the province; for
      his mother had had four husbands, and this only child, so that
      though born in her last wedlock, he might fairly claim to be the
      tardy fruit of a long course of cultivation. This son of four
      fathers united the merits and the vigor of his sires. If he had
      not a great family before him, he seemed likely to have a great
      one after him; for you had only to look at the fresh gamesome
      youth, to see that he was formed to be the founder of a mighty

      This youngster gradually became an intimate visitor of the
      family. He talked little, but he sat long. He filled the father’s
      pipe when it was empty, gathered up the mother’s knitting-needle,
      or ball of worsted when it fell to the ground; stroked the sleek
      coat of the tortoise-shell cat, and replenished the teapot for
      the daughter from the bright copper kettle that sung before the
      fire. All these quiet little offices may seem of trifling import,
      but when true love is translated into Low Dutch, it is in this
      way that it eloquently expresses itself. They were not lost upon
      the Webber family. The winning youngster found marvellous favor
      in the eyes of the mother; the tortoise-shell cat, albeit the
      most staid and demure of her kind, gave indubitable signs of
      approbation of his visits, the tea-kettle seemed to sing out a
      cheering note of welcome at his approach, and if the sly glances
      of the daughter might be rightly read, as she sat bridling and
      dimpling, and sewing by her mother’s side, she was not a wit
      behind Dame Webber, or grimalkin, or the tea-kettle in good-will.

      Wolfert alone saw nothing of what was going on. Profoundly wrapt
      up in meditation on the growth of the city and his cabbages, he
      sat looking in the fire, and puffing his pipe in silence. One
      night, however, as the gentle Amy, according to custom, lighted
      her lover to the outer door, and he, according to custom, took
      his parting salute, the smack resounded so vigorously through the
      long, silent entry as to startle even the dull ear of Wolfert. He
      was slowly roused to a new source of anxiety. It had never
      entered into his head, that this mere child, who, as it seemed
      but the other day, had been climbing about his knees, and playing
      with dolls and baby-houses, could all at once be thinking of love
      and matrimony. He rubbed his eyes, examined into the fact, and
      really found that while he had been dreaming of other matters,
      she had actually grown into a woman, and what was more, had
      fallen in love. Here were new cares for poor Wolfert. He was a
      kind father, but he was a prudent man. The young man was a very
      stirring lad; but then he had neither money or land. Wolfert’s
      ideas all ran in one channel, and he saw no alternative in case
      of a marriage, but to portion off the young couple with a corner
      of his cabbage garden, the whole of which was barely sufficient
      for the support of his family.

      Like a prudent father, therefore, he determined to nip this
      passion in the bud, and forbade the youngster the house, though
      sorely did it go against his fatherly heart, and many a silent
      tear did it cause in the bright eye of his daughter. She showed
      herself, however, a pattern of filial piety and obedience. She
      never pouted and sulked; she never flew in the face of parental
      authority; she never fell into a passion, or fell into hysterics,
      as many romantic novel-read young ladies would do. Not she,
      indeed! She was none such heroical rebellious trumpery, I warrant
      ye. On the contrary, she acquiesced like an obedient daughter;
      shut the street-door in her lover’s face, and if ever she did
      grant him an interview, it was either out of the kitchen window,
      or over the garden fence.

      Wolfert was deeply cogitating these things in his mind, and his
      brow wrinkled with unusual care, as he wended his way one
      Saturday afternoon to a rural inn, about two miles from the city.
      It was a favorite resort of the Dutch part of the community from
      being always held by a Dutch line of landlords, and retaining an
      air and relish of the good old times. It was a Dutch-built house,
      that had probably been a country seat of some opulent burgher in
      the early time of the settlement. It stood near a point of land,
      called Corlears Hook, which stretches out into the Sound, and
      against which the tide, at its flux and reflux, sets with
      extraordinary rapidity. The venerable and somewhat crazy mansion
      was distinguished from afar, by a grove of elms and sycamores
      that seemed to wave a hospitable invitation, while a few weeping
      willows with their dank, drooping foliage, resembling falling
      waters, gave an idea of coolness, that rendered it an attractive
      spot during the heats of summer.

      Here, therefore, as I said, resorted many of the old inhabitants
      of the Manhattoes, where, while some played at the shuffle-board
      and quoits and ninepins, others smoked a deliberate pipe, and
      talked over public affairs.

      It was on a blustering autumnal afternoon that Wolfert made his
      visit to the inn. The grove of elms and willows was stripped of
      its leaves, which whirled in rustling eddies about the fields.

      The ninepin alley was deserted, for the premature chilliness of
      the day had driven the company within doors. As it was Saturday
      afternoon, the habitual club was in session, composed principally
      of regular Dutch burghers, though mingled occasionally with
      persons of various, character and country, as is natural in a
      place of such motley population.

      Beside the fire-place, and in a huge leather-bottomed armchair,
      sat the dictator of this little world, the venerable Rem, or, as
      it was pronounced, Ramm Rapelye.

      He was a man of Walloon race, and illustrious for the antiquity
      of his line, his great grandmother having been the first white
      child born in the province. But he was still more illustrious for
      his wealth and dignity: he had long filled the noble office of
      alderman, and was a man to whom the governor himself took off his
      hat. He had maintained possession of the leathern-bottomed chair
      from time immemorial; and had gradually waxed in bulk as he sat
      in his seat of government, until in the course of years he filled
      its whole magnitude. His word was decisive with his subjects; for
      he was so rich a man, that he was never expected to support any
      opinion by argument. The landlord waited on him with peculiar
      officiousness; not that he paid better than his neighbors, but
      then the coin of a rich man seems always to be so much more
      acceptable. The landlord had always a pleasant word and a joke,
      to insinuate in the ear of the august Ramm. It is true, Ramm
      never laughed, and, indeed, maintained a mastiff-like gravity,
      and even surliness of aspect, yet he now and then rewarded mine
      host with a token of approbation; which, though nothing more nor
      less than a kind of grunt, yet delighted the landlord more than a
      broad laugh from a poorer man.

      “This will be a rough night for the money-diggers,” said mine
      host, as a gust of wind howled round the house, and rattled at
      the windows.

      “What, are they at their works again?” said an English half-pay
      captain, with one eye, who was a frequent attendant at the inn.

      “Aye, are they,” said the landlord, “and well may they be.
      They’ve had luck of late. They say a great pot of money has been
      dug up in the field, just behind Stuyvesant’s orchard. Folks
      think it must have been buried there in old times by Peter
      Stuyvesant, the Dutch Governor.”

      “Fudge!” said the one-eyed man of war, as he added a small
      portion of water to a bottom of brandy.

      “Well, you may believe, or not, as you please,” said mine host,
      somewhat nettled; “but every body knows that the old governor
      buried a great deal of his money at the time of the Dutch
      troubles, when the English red-coats seized on the province. They
      say, too, the old gentleman walks; aye, and in the very Same
      dress that he wears in the picture which hangs up in the family

      “Fudge!” said the half-pay officer.

      “Fudge, if you please!—But didn’t Corney Van Zandt see him at
      midnight, stalking about in the meadow with his wooden leg, and a
      drawn sword in his hand, that flashed like fire? And what can he
      be walking for, but because people have been troubling the place
      where he buried his money in old times?”

      Here the landlord was interrupted by several guttural sounds from
      Ramm Rapelye, betokening that he was laboring with the unusual
      production of an idea. As he was too great a man to be slighted
      by a prudent publican, mine host respectfully paused until he
      should deliver himself. The corpulent frame of this mighty
      burgher now gave all the symptoms of a volcanic mountain on the
      point of an eruption. First, there was a certain heaving of the
      abdomen, not unlike an earthquake; then was emitted a cloud of
      tobacco smoke from that crater, his mouth; then there was a kind
      of rattle in the throat, as if the idea were working its way up
      through a region of phlegm; then there were several disjointed
      members of a sentence thrown out, ending in a cough; at length
      his voice forced its way in the slow, but absolute tone of a man
      who feels the weight of his purse, if not of his ideas; every
      portion of his speech being marked by a testy puff of tobacco

      “Who talks of old Peter Stuyvesant’s walking?—puff—Have people no
      respect for persons?—puff—puff—Peter Stuyvesant knew better what
      to do with his money than to bury it—puff—I know the Stuyvesant
      family—puff—every one of them—puff—not a more respectable family
      in the province—puff—old standers—puff—warm
      householders—puff—none of your upstarts—puff—puff—puff.—Don’t
      talk to me of Peter Stuyvesant’s walking—puff—puff—puff—puff.”

      Here the redoubtable Ramm contracted his brow, clasped up his
      mouth, till it wrinkled at each corner, and redoubled his smoking
      with such vehemence, that the cloudly volumes soon wreathed round
      his head, as the smoke envelopes the awful summit of Mount Etna.

      A general silence followed the sudden rebuke of this very rich
      man. The subject, however, was too interesting to be readily
      abandoned. The conversation soon broke forth again from the lips
      of Peechy Prauw Van Hook, the chronicler of the club, one of
      those narrative old men who seem to grow incontinent of words, as
      they grow old, until their talk flows from them almost

      Peechy, who could at any time tell as many stories in an evening
      as his hearers could digest in a month, now resumed the
      conversation, by affirming that, to his knowledge, money had at
      different times been dug up in various parts of the island. The
      lucky persons who had discovered them had always dreamt of them
      three times beforehand, and what was worthy of remark, these
      treasures had never been found but by some descendant of the good
      old Dutch families, which clearly proved that they had been
      buried by Dutchmen in the olden time.

      “Fiddle-stick with your Dutchmen!” cried the half-pay officer.
      “The Dutch had nothing to do with them. They were all buried by
      Kidd, the pirate, and his crew.”

      Here a key-note was touched that roused the whole company. The
      name of Captain Kidd was like a talisman in those times, and was
      associated with a thousand marvellous stories.

      The half-pay officer was a man of great weight among the
      peaceable members of the club, by reason of his military
      character, and of the gunpowder scenes which, by his own account,
      he had witnessed.

      The golden stories of Kidd, however, were resolutely rivalled by
      the tales of Peechy Prauw, who, rather than suffer his Dutch
      progenitors to be eclipsed by a foreign freebooter, enriched
      every spot in the neighborhood with the hidden wealth of Peter
      Stuyvesant and his contemporaries.

      Not a word of this conversation was lost upon Wolfert Webber. He
      returned pensively home, full of magnificent ideas of buried
      riches. The soil of his native island seemed to be turned into
      gold-dust; and every field teemed with treasure. His head almost
      reeled at the thought how often he must have heedlessly rambled
      over places where countless sums lay, scarcely covered by the
      turf beneath his feet. His mind was in a vertigo with this whirl
      of new ideas. As he came in sight of the venerable mansion of his
      forefathers, and the little realm where the Webbers had so long
      and so contentedly flourished, his gorge rose at the narrowness
      of his destiny.

      “Unlucky Wolfert!” exclaimed he, “others can go to bed and dream
      themselves into whole mines of wealth; they have but to seize a
      spade in the morning, and turn up doubloons like potatoes; but
      thou must dream of hardship, and rise to poverty—must dig thy
      field from year’s end to year’s end, and—and yet raise nothing
      but cabbages!”

      Wolfert Webber went to bed with a heavy heart; and it was long
      before the golden visions that disturbed his brain, permitted him
      to sink into repose. The same visions, however, extended into his
      sleeping thoughts, and assumed a more definite form. He dreamt
      that he had discovered an immense treasure in the centre of his
      garden. At every stroke of the spade he laid bare a golden ingot;
      diamond crosses sparkled out of the dust; bags of money turned up
      their bellies, corpulent with pieces of eight, or venerable
      doubloons; and chests, wedged close with moidores, ducats, and
      pistareens, yawned before his ravished eyes, and vomited forth
      their glittering contents.

      Wolfert awoke a poorer man than ever. He had no heart to go about
      his daily concerns, which appeared so paltry and profitless; but
      sat all day long in the chimney-corner, picturing to himself
      ingots and heaps of gold in the fire. The next night his dream
      was repeated. He was again in his garden, digging, and laying
      open stores of hidden wealth. There was something very singular
      in this repetition. He passed another day of reverie, and though
      it was cleaning-day, and the house, as usual in Dutch households,
      completely topsy-turvy, yet he sat unmoved amidst the general

      The third night he went to bed with a palpitating heart. He put
      on his red nightcap, wrong side outwards for good luck. It was
      deep midnight before his anxious mind could settle itself into
      sleep. Again the golden dream was repeated, and again he saw his
      garden teeming with ingots and money-bags.

      Wolfert rose the next morning in complete bewilderment. A dream
      three times repeated was never known to lie; and if so, his
      fortune was made.

      In his agitation he put on his waistcoat with the hind part
      before, and this was a corroboration of good luck. He no longer
      doubted that a huge store of money lay buried somewhere in his
      cabbage-field, coyly waiting to be sought for, and he half
      repined at having so long been scratching about the surface of
      the soil, instead of digging to the centre.

      He took his seat at the breakfast-table full of these
      speculations; asked his daughter to put a lump of gold in to his
      tea, and on handing his wife a plate of slap-jacks, begging her
      to help herself to a doubloon.

      His grand care now was how to secure this immense treasure
      without it being known. Instead of working regularly in his
      grounds in the day-time, he now stole from his bed at night, and
      with spade and pickaxe, went to work to rip up and dig about his
      paternal acres, from one end to the other. In a little time the
      whole garden, which had presented such a goodly and regular
      appearance, with its phalanx of cabbages, like a vegetable army
      in battle array, was reduced to a scene of devastation, while the
      relentless Wolfert, with nightcap on head, and lantern and spade
      in hand, stalked through the slaughtered ranks, the destroying
      angel of his own vegetable world.

      Every morning bore testimony to the ravages of the preceding
      night in cabbages of all ages and conditions, from the tender
      sprout to the full-grown head, piteously rooted from their quiet
      beds like worthless weeds, and left to wither in the sunshine. It
      was in vain Wolfert’s wife remonstrated; it was in vain his
      darling daughter wept over the destruction of some favorite
      marygold. “Thou shalt have gold of another guess-sort,” he would
      cry, chucking her under the chin; “thou shalt have a string of
      crooked ducats for thy wedding-necklace, my child.” His family
      began really to fear that the poor man’s wits were diseased. He
      muttered in his sleep at night of mines of wealth, of pearls and
      diamonds and bars of gold. In the day-time he was moody and
      abstracted, and walked about as if in a trance. Dame Webber held
      frequent councils with all the old women of the neighborhood, not
      omitting the parish dominie; scarce an hour in the day but a knot
      of them might be seen wagging their white caps together round her
      door, while the poor woman made some piteous recital. The
      daughter, too, was fain to seek for more frequent consolation
      from the stolen interviews of her favored swain, Dirk Waldron.
      The delectable little Dutch songs with which she used to dulcify
      the house grew less and less frequent, and she would forget her
      sewing and look wistfully in her father’s face as he sat
      pondering by the fireside.

      Wolfert caught her eye one day fixed on him thus anxiously, and
      for a moment was roused from his golden reveries—“Cheer up, my
      girl,” said he, exultingly, “why dost thou droop?—thou shalt hold
      up thy head one day with the—and the Schenaerhorns, the Van
      Hornes, and the Van Dams—the patroon himself shall be glad to get
      thee for his son!”

      Amy shook her head at this vain-glorious boast, and was more than
      ever in doubt of the soundness of the good man’s intellect.

      In the meantime Wolfert went on digging, but the field was
      extensive, and as his dream had indicated no precise spot, he had
      to dig at random. The winter set in before one-tenth of the scene
      of promise had been explored. The ground became too frozen and
      the nights too cold for the labors of the spade. No sooner,
      however, did the returning warmth of spring loosen the soil, and
      the small frogs begin to pipe in the meadows, but Wolfert resumed
      his labors with renovated zeal. Still, however, the hours of
      industry were reversed. Instead of working cheerily all day,
      planting and setting out his vegetables, he remained thoughtfully
      idle, until the shades of night summoned him to his secret
      labors. In this way he continued to dig from night to night, and
      week to week, and month to month, but not a stiver did he find.
      On the contrary, the more he digged the poorer he grew. The rich
      soil of his garden was digged away, and the sand and gravel from
      beneath were thrown to the surface, until the whole field
      presented an aspect of sandy barrenness.

      In the meantime the seasons gradually rolled on. The little frogs
      that had piped in the meadows in early spring, croaked as
      bull-frogs in the brooks during the summer heats, and then sunk
      into silence. The peach tree budded, blossomed, and bore its
      fruit. The swallows and martins came, twittered about the roof,
      built their nests, reared their young, held their congress along
      the eaves, and then winged their flight in search of another
      spring. The caterpillar spun its winding-sheet, dangled in it
      from the great buttonwood tree that shaded the house, turned into
      a moth, fluttered with the last sunshine of summer, and
      disappeared; and finally the leaves of the buttonwood tree turned
      yellow, then brown, then rustled one by one to the ground, and
      whirling about in little eddies of wind and dust, whispered that
      winter was at hand.

      Wolfert gradually awoke from his dream of wealth as the year
      declined. He had reared no crop to supply the wants of his
      household during the sterility of winter. The season was long and
      severe, and for the first time the family was really straightened
      in its comforts. By degrees a revulsion of thought took place in
      Wolfert’s mind, common to those whose golden dreams have been
      disturbed by pinching realities. The idea gradually stole upon
      him that he should come to want. He already considered himself
      one of the most unfortunate men in the province, having lost such
      an incalculable amount of undiscovered treasure, and now, when
      thousands of pounds had eluded his search, to be perplexed for
      shillings and pence was cruel in the extreme.

      Haggard care gathered about his brow; he went about with a
      money-seeking air, his eyes bent downwards into the dust, and
      carrying his hands in his pockets, as men are apt to do when they
      have nothing else to put into them. He could not even pass the
      city almshouse without giving it a rueful glance, as if destined
      to be his future abode.

      The strangeness of his conduct and of his looks occasioned much
      speculation and remark. For a long time he was suspected of being
      crazy, and then every body pitied him; at length it began to be
      suspected that he was poor, and then every body avoided him.

      The rich old burghers of his acquaintance met him, outside of the
      door when he called, entertained him hospitably on the threshold,
      pressed him warmly by the hand on parting, shook their heads as
      he walked away, with the kind-hearted expression of “poor
      Wolfert,” and turned a corner nimbly, if by chance they saw him
      approaching as they walked the streets. Even the barber and
      cobbler of the neighborhood, and a tattered tailor in an alley
      hard by, three of the poorest and merriest rogues in the world,
      eyed him with that abundant sympathy which usually attends a lack
      of means, and there is not a doubt but their pockets would have
      been at his command, only that they happened to be empty.

      Thus every body deserted the Webber mansion, as if poverty were
      contagious, like the plague; every body but honest Dirk Waldron,
      who still kept up his stolen visits to the daughter, and indeed
      seemed to wax more affectionate as the fortunes of his mistress
      were on the wane.

      Many months had elapsed since Wolfert had frequented his old
      resort, the rural inn. He was taking a long lonely walk one
      Saturday afternoon, musing over his wants and disappointments,
      when his feet took instinctively their wonted direction, and on
      awaking out of a reverie, he found himself before the door of the
      inn. For some moments he hesitated whether to enter, but his
      heart yearned for companionship; and where can a ruined man find
      better companionship than at a tavern, where there is neither
      sober example nor sober advice to put him out of countenance?

      Wolfert found several of the old frequenters of the tavern at
      their usual posts, and seated in their usual places; but one was
      missing, the great Ramm Rapelye, who for many years had filled
      the chair of state. His place was supplied by a stranger, who
      seemed, however, completely at home in the chair and the tavern.
      He was rather under-size, but deep-chested, square, and muscular.
      His broad shoulders, double joints, and bow-knees, gave tokens of
      prodigious strength. His face was dark and weather-beaten; a deep
      scar, as if from the slash of a cutlass, had almost divided his
      nose, and made a gash in his upper lip, through which his teeth
      shone like a bull-dog’s. A mass of iron gray hair gave a grizzly
      finish to his hard-favored visage. His dress was of an amphibious
      character. He wore an old hat edged with tarnished lace, and
      cocked in martial style, on one side of his head; a rusty blue
      military coat with brass buttons, and a wide pair of short
      petticoat trousers, or rather breeches, for they were gathered up
      at the knees. He ordered every body about him with an
      authoritative air; talked in a brattling voice, that sounded like
      the crackling of thorns under a pot; damned the landlord and
      servants with perfect impunity, and was waited upon with greater
      obsequiousness than had ever been shown to the mighty Ramm

      Wolfert’s curiosity was awakened to know who and what was this
      stranger who had thus usurped absolute sway in this ancient
      domain. He could get nothing, however, but vague information.
      Peechy Prauw took him aside, into a remote corner of the hall,
      and there in an under-voice, and with great caution, imparted to
      him all that he knew on the subject. The inn had been aroused
      several months before, on a dark stormy night, by repeated long
      shouts, that seemed like the howlings of a wolf. They came from
      the water-side; and at length were distinguished to be hailing
      the house in the seafaring manner. “House-a-hoy!” The landlord
      turned out with his head-waiter, tapster, hostler, and errand
      boy—that is to say with his old negro Cuff. On approaching the
      place from whence the voice proceeded, they found this
      amphibious-looking personage at the water’s edge, quite alone,
      and seated on a great oaken sea-chest. How he came there, whether
      he had been set on shore from some boat, or had floated to land
      on his chest, nobody could tell, for he did not seem disposed to
      answer questions, and there was something in his looks and
      manners that put a stop to all questioning. Suffice it to say, he
      took possession of a corner room of the inn, to which his chest
      was removed with great difficulty. Here he had remained ever
      since, keeping about the inn and its vicinity. Sometimes, it is
      true, he disappeared for one, two, or three days at a time, going
      and returning without giving any notice or account of his
      movements. He always appeared to have plenty of money, though
      often of very strange, outlandish coinage; and he regularly paid
      his bill every evening before turning in.

      He had fitted up his room to his own fancy, having slung a
      hammock from the ceiling instead of a bed, and decorated the
      walls with rusty pistols and cutlasses of foreign workmanship. A
      great part of his time was passed in this room, seated by the
      window, which commanded a wide view of the Sound, a short
      old-fashioned pipe in his mouth, a glass of rum toddy at his
      elbow, and a pocket telescope in his hand, with which he
      reconnoitred every boat that moved upon the water. Large
      square-rigged vessels seemed to excite but little attention; but
      the moment he descried any thing with a shoulder-of-mutton sail,
      or that a barge, or yawl, or jolly boat hove in sight, up went
      the telescope, and he examined it with the most scrupulous

      All this might have passed without much notice, for in those
      times the province was so much the resort of adventurers of all
      characters and climes that any oddity in dress or behavior
      attracted but little attention. But in a little while this
      strange sea monster, thus strangely cast up on dry land, began to
      encroach upon the long-established customs and customers of the
      place; to interfere in a dictatorial manner in the affairs of the
      ninepin alley and the bar-room, until in the end he usurped an
      absolute command over the little inn. It was in vain to attempt
      to withstand his authority. He was not exactly quarrelsome, but
      boisterous and peremptory, like one accustomed to tyrannize on a
      quarter deck; and there was a dare-devil air about every thing he
      said and did, that inspired a wariness in all bystanders. Even
      the half-pay officer, so long the hero of the club, was soon
      silenced by him; and the quiet burghers stared with wonder at
      seeing their inflammable man of war so readily and quietly

      And then the tales that he would tell were enough to make a
      peaceable man’s hair stand on end. There was not a sea fight, or
      marauding or free-booting adventure that had happened within the
      last twenty years but he seemed perfectly versed in it. He
      delighted to talk of the exploits of the buccaneers in the
      West-Indies and on the Spanish Main. How his eyes would glisten
      as he described the waylaying of treasure ships, the desperate
      fights, yard arm and yard arm—broadside and broad side—the
      boarding and capturing of large Spanish galleons! with what
      chuckling relish would he describe the descent upon some rich
      Spanish colony; the rifling of a church; the sacking of a
      convent! You would have thought you heard some gormandizer
      dilating upon the roasting a savory goose at Michaelmas as he
      described the roasting of some Spanish Don to make him discover
      his treasure—a detail given with a minuteness that made every
      rich old burgher present turn uncomfortably in his chair. All
      this would be told with infinite glee, as if he considered it an
      excellent joke; and then he would give such a tyrannical leer in
      the face of his next neighbor, that the poor man would be fain to
      laugh out of sheer faint-heartedness. If any one, however,
      pretended to contradict him in any of his stories he was on fire
      in an instant. His very cocked hat assumed a momentary
      fierceness, and seemed to resent the contradiction.—“How the
      devil should you know as well as I! I tell you it was as I say!”
      and he would at the same time let slip a broadside of thundering
      oaths and tremendous sea phrases, such as had never been heard
      before within those peaceful walls.

      Indeed, the worthy burghers began to surmise that he knew more of
      these stories than mere hearsay. Day after day their conjectures
      concerning him grew more and more wild and fearful. The
      strangeness of his manners, the mystery that surrounded him, all
      made him something incomprehensible in their eyes. He was a kind
      of monster of the deep to them—he was a merman—he was behemoth—he
      was leviathan—in short, they knew not what he was.

      The domineering spirit of this boisterous sea urchin at length
      grew quite intolerable. He was no respecter of persons; he
      contradicted the richest burghers without hesitation; he took
      possession of the sacred elbow chair, which time out of mind had
      been the seat of sovereignty of the illustrious Ramm Rapelye.
      Nay, he even went so far in one of his rough jocular moods, as to
      slap that mighty burgher on the back, drink his toddy and wink in
      his face, a thing scarcely to be believed. From this time Ramm
      Rapelye appeared no more at the inn; his example was followed by
      several of the most eminent customers, who were too rich to
      tolerate being bullied out of their opinions, or being obliged to
      laugh at another man’s jokes. The landlord was almost in despair,
      but he knew not how to get rid of this sea monster and his
      sea-chest, which seemed to have grown like fixtures, or
      excrescences on his establishment.

      Such was the account whispered cautiously in Wolfert’s ear, by
      the narrator, Peechy Prauw, as he held him by the button in a
      corner of the hall, casting a wary glance now and then towards
      the door of the bar-room, lest he should be overheard by the
      terrible hero of his tale.

      Wolfert took his seat in a remote part of the room in silence;
      impressed with profound awe of this unknown, so versed in
      freebooting history. It was to him a wonderful instance of the
      revolutions of mighty empires, to find the venerable Ramm Rapelye
      thus ousted from the throne; a rugged tarpaulin dictating from
      his elbow chair, hectoring the patriarchs, and filling this
      tranquil little realm with brawl and bravado.

      The stranger was on this evening in a more than usually
      communicative mood, and was narrating a number of astounding
      stories of plunderings and burnings upon the high seas. He dwelt
      upon them with peculiar relish, heightening the frightful
      particulars in proportion to their effect on his peaceful
      auditors. He gave a long swaggering detail of the capture of a
      Spanish merchantman. She was laying becalmed during a long
      summer’s day, just off from an island which was one of the
      lurking places of the pirates. They had reconnoitred her with
      their spy-glasses from the shore, and ascertained her character
      and force. At night a picked crew of daring fellows set off for
      her in a whale boat. They approached with muffled oars, as she
      lay rocking idly with the undulations of the sea and her sails
      flapping against the masts. They were close under her stern
      before the guard on deck was aware of their approach. The alarm
      was given; the pirates threw hand grenades on deck and sprang up
      the main chains sword in hand.

      The crew flew to arms, but in great confusion some were shot
      down, others took refuge in the tops; others were driven
      overboard and drowned, while others fought hand to hand from the
      main deck to the quarter deck, disputing gallantly every inch of
      ground. There were three Spanish gentlemen on board with their
      ladies, who made the most desperate resistance; they defended the
      companion-way, cut down several of their assailants, and fought
      like very devils, for they were maddened by the shrieks of the
      ladies from the cabin. One of the Dons was old and soon
      despatched. The other two kept their ground vigorously, even
      though the captain of the pirates was among their assailants.
      Just then there was a shout of victory from the main deck. “The
      ship is ours!” cried the pirates.

      One of the Dons immediately dropped his sword and surrendered;
      the other, who was a hot-headed youngster, and just married, gave
      the captain a slash in the face that laid all open. The captain
      just made out to articulate the words “no quarter.”

      “And what did they do with their prisoners?” said Peechy Prauw,

      “Threw them all overboard!” said the merman.

      A dead pause followed this reply. Peechy Prauw shrunk quietly
      back like a man who had unwarily stolen upon the lair of a
      sleeping lion. The honest burghers cast fearful glances at the
      deep scar slashed across the visage of the stranger, and moved
      their chairs a little farther off. The seaman, however, smoked on
      without moving a muscle, as though he either did not perceive or
      did not regard the unfavorable effect he had produced upon his

      The half-pay officer was the first to break the silence; for he
      was Continually tempted to make ineffectual head against this
      tyrant of the seas, and to regain his lost consequence in the
      eyes of his ancient companions. He now tried to match the
      gunpowder tales of the stranger by others equally tremendous.
      Kidd, as usual, was his hero, concerning whom he had picked up
      many of the floating traditions of the province. The seaman had
      always evinced a settled pique against the red-faced warrior. On
      this occasion he listened with peculiar impatience. He sat with
      one arm a-kimbo, the other elbow on a table, the hand holding on
      to the small pipe he was pettishly puffing; his legs crossed,
      drumming with one foot on the ground and casting every now and
      then the side glance of a basilisk at the prosing captain. At
      length the latter spoke of Kidd’s having ascended the Hudson with
      some of his crew, to land his plunder in secrecy.

      “Kidd up the Hudson!” burst forth the seaman, with a tremendous
      oath; “Kidd never was up the Hudson!”

      “I tell you he was,” said the other. “Aye, and they say he buried
      a quantity of treasure on the little flat that runs out into the
      river, called the Devil’s Dans Kammer.”

      “The Devil’s Dans Kammer in your teeth!” cried the seaman. “I
      tell you Kidd never was up the Hudson—what the plague do you know
      of Kidd and his haunts?”

      “What do I know?” echoed the half-pay officer; “why, I was in
      London at the time of his trial, aye, and I had the pleasure of
      seeing him hanged at Execution Dock.”

      “Then, sir, let me tell you that you saw as pretty a fellow
      hanged as ever trod shoe leather. Aye!” putting his face nearer
      to that of the officer, “and there was many a coward looked on,
      that might much better have swung in his stead.”

      The half-pay officer was silenced; but the indignation thus pent
      up in his bosom glowed with intense vehemence in his single eye,
      which kindled like a coal.

      Peechy Prauw, who never could remain silent, now took up the
      word, and in a pacifying tone observed that the gentleman
      certainly was in the right. Kidd never did bury money up the
      Hudson, nor indeed in any of those parts, though many affirm the
      fact. It was Bradish and others of the buccaneers who had buried
      money, some said in Turtle Bay, others on Long-Island, others in
      the neighborhood of Hell Gate. Indeed, added he, I recollect an
      adventure of Mud Sam, the negro fisherman, many years ago, which
      some think had something to do with the buccaneers. As we are all
      friends here, and as it will go no farther, I’ll tell it to you.

      “Upon a dark night many years ago, as Sam was returning from
      fishing in Hell Gate—”

      Here the story was nipped in the bud by a sudden movement from
      the unknown, who, laying his iron fist on the table, knuckles
      downward, with a quiet force that indented the very boards, and
      looking grimly over his shoulder, with the grin of an angry bear.
      “Heark’ee, neighbor,” said he, with significant nodding of the
      head, “you’d better let the buccaneers and their money
      alone—they’re not for old men and old women to meddle with. They
      fought hard for their money, they gave body and soul for it, and
      wherever it lies buried, depend upon it he must have a tug with
      the devil who gets it.”

      This sudden explosion was succeeded by a blank silence throughout
      the room. Peechy Prauw shrunk within himself, and even the
      red-faced officer turned pale. Wolfert, who, from a dark corner
      of the room, had listened with intense eagerness to all this talk
      about buried treasure, looked with mingled awe and reverence on
      this bold buccaneer, for such he really suspected him to be.
      There was a chinking of gold and a sparkling of jewels in all his
      stories about the Spanish Main that gave a value to every period,
      and Wolfert would have given any thing for the rummaging of the
      ponderous sea-chest, which his imagination crammed full of golden
      chalices and crucifixes and jolly round bags of doubloons.

      The dead stillness that had fallen upon the company was at length
      interrupted by the stranger, who pulled out a prodigious watch of
      curious and ancient workmanship, and which in Wolferts’ eyes had
      a decidedly Spanish look. On touching a spring it struck ten
      o’clock; upon which the sailor called for his reckoning, and
      having paid it out of a handful of outlandish coin, he drank off
      the remainder of his beverage, and without taking leave of any
      one, rolled out of the room, muttering to himself as he stamped
      up-stairs to his chamber.

      It was some time before the company could recover from the
      silence into which they had been thrown. The very footsteps of
      the stranger, which were heard now and then as he traversed his
      chamber, inspired awe.

      Still the conversation in which they had been engaged was too
      interesting not to be resumed. A heavy thunder-gust had gathered
      up unnoticed while they were lost in talk, and the torrents of
      rain that fell forbade all thoughts of setting off for home until
      the storm should subside. They drew nearer together, therefore,
      and entreated the worthy Peechy Prauw to continue the tale which
      had been so discourteously interrupted. He readily complied,
      whispering, however, in a tone scarcely above his breath, and
      drowned occasionally by the rolling of the thunder, and he would
      pause every now and then, and listen with evident awe, as he
      heard the heavy footsteps of the stranger pacing overhead.

      The following is the purport of his story.



      Every body knows Mud Sam, the old negro fisherman who has fished
      about the Sound for the last twenty or thirty years. Well, it is
      now many years since that Sam, who was then a young fellow, and
      worked on the farm of Killian Suydam on Long Island, having
      finished his work early, was fishing, one still summer evening,
      just about the neighborhood of Hell Gate. He was in a light
      skiff, and being well acquainted with the currents and eddies, he
      had been able to shift his station with the shifting of the tide,
      from the Hen and Chickens to the Hog’s back, and from the Hog’s
      back to the Pot, and from the Pot to the Frying-pan; but in the
      eagerness of his sport Sam did not see that the tide was rapidly
      ebbing; until the roaring of the whirlpools and rapids warned him
      of his danger, and he had some difficulty in shooting his skiff
      from among the rocks and breakers, and getting to the point of
      Blackwell’s Island. Here he cast anchor for some time, waiting
      the turn of the tide to enable him to return homewards.

      As the night set in it grew blustering and gusty. Dark clouds
      came bundling up in the west; and now and then a growl of thunder
      or a flash of lightning told that a summer storm was at hand. Sam
      pulled over, therefore, under the lee of Manhattan Island, and
      coasting along came to a snug nook, just under a steep beetling
      rock, where he fastened his skiff to the root of a tree that shot
      out from a cleft and spread its broad branches like a canopy over
      the water. The gust came scouring along; the wind threw up the
      river in white surges; the rain rattled among the leaves, the
      thunder bellowed worse than that which is now bellowing, the
      lightning seemed to lick up the surges of the stream; but Sam,
      snugly sheltered under rock and tree, lay crouched in his skiff,
      rocking upon the billows, until he fell asleep. When he awoke all
      was quiet. The gust had passed away, and only now and then a
      faint gleam of lightning in the east showed which way it had
      gone. The night was dark and moonless; and from the state of the
      tide Sam concluded it was near midnight. He was on the point of
      making loose his skiff to return homewards, when he saw a light
      gleaming along the water from a distance, which seemed rapidly
      approaching. As it drew near he perceived that it came from a
      lanthorn in the bow of a boat which was gliding along under
      shadow of the land. It pulled up in a small cove, close to where
      he was. A man jumped on shore, and searching about with the
      lanthorn exclaimed, “This is the place—here’s the Iron ring.” The
      boat was then made fast, and the man returning on board, assisted
      his comrades in conveying something heavy on shore. As the light
      gleamed among them, Sam saw that they were five stout,
      desperate-looking fellows, in red woollen caps, with a leader in
      a three-cornered hat, and that some of them were armed with
      dirks, or long knives, and pistols. They talked low to one
      another, and occasionally in some outlandish tongue which he
      could not understand.

      On landing they made their way among the bushes, taking turns to
      relieve each other in lugging their burthen up the rocky bank.
      Sam’s curiosity was now fully aroused, so leaving his skiff he
      clambered silently up the ridge that overlooked their path. They
      had stopped to rest for a moment, and the leader was looking
      about among the bushes with his lanthorn. “Have you brought the
      spades?” said one. “They are here,” replied another, who had them
      on his shoulder. “We must dig deep, where there will be no risk
      of discovery,” said a third.

      A cold chill ran through Sam’s veins. He fancied he saw before
      him a gang of murderers, about to bury their victim. His knees
      smote together. In his agitation he shook the branch of a tree
      with which he was supporting himself as he looked over the edge
      of the cliff.

      “What’s that?” cried one of the gang. “Some one stirs among the

      The lanthorn was held up in the direction of the noise. One of
      the red-caps cocked a pistol, and pointed it towards the very
      lace where Sam was standing. He stood motionless—breathless;
      expecting the next moment to be his last. Fortunately, his dingy
      complexion was in his favor, and made no glare among the leaves.

      “‘Tis no one,” said the man with the lanthorn. “What a plague!
      you would not fire off your pistol and alarm the country.”

      The pistol was uncocked; the burthen was resumed, and the party
      slowly toiled up the bank. Sam watched them as they went; the
      light sending back fitful gleams through the dripping bushes, and
      it was not till they were fairly out of sight that he ventured to
      draw breath freely. He now thought of getting back to his boat,
      and making his escape out of the reach of such dangerous
      neighbors; but curiosity was all-powerful with poor Sam. He
      hesitated and lingered and listened. By and bye he heard the
      strokes of spades.

      “They are digging the grave!” said he to himself; the cold sweat
      started upon his forehead. Every stroke of a spade, as it sounded
      through the silent groves, went to his heart; it was evident
      there was as little noise made as possible; every thing had an
      air of mystery and secrecy. Sam had a great relish for the
      horrible—a tale of murder was a treat for him; and he was a
      constant attendant at executions. He could not, therefore, resist
      an impulse, in spite of every danger, to steal nearer, and
      overlook the villains at their work. He crawled along cautiously,
      therefore, inch by inch; stepping with the utmost care among the
      dry leaves, lest their rustling should betray him. He came at
      length to where a steep rock intervened between him and the gang;
      he saw the light of their lanthorn shining up against the
      branches of the trees on the other side. Sam slowly and silently
      clambered up the surface of the rock, and raising his head above
      its naked edge, beheld the villains immediately below him, and so
      near that though he dreaded discovery, he dared not withdraw lest
      the least movement should be heard. In this way he remained, with
      his round black face peering over the edge of the rock, like the
      sun just emerging above the edge of the horizon, or the
      round-cheeked moon on the dial of a clock.

      The red-caps had nearly finished their work; the grave was filled
      up, and they were carefully replacing the turf. This done, they
      scattered dry leaves over the place. “And now,” said the leader,
      “I defy the devil himself to find it out.”

      “The murderers!” exclaimed Sam involuntarily.

      The whole gang started, and looking up, beheld the round black
      head of Sam just above them. His white eyes strained half out of
      their orbits; his white teeth chattering, and his whole visage
      shining with cold perspiration.

      “We’re discovered!” cried one.

      “Down with him!” cried another.

      Sam heard the cocking of a pistol, but did not pause for the
      report. He scrambled over rock and stone, through bush and briar;
      rolled down banks like a hedgehog; scrambled up others like a
      catamount. In every direction he heard some one or other of the
      gang hemming him in. At length he reached the rocky ridge along
      the river; one of the red-caps was hard behind him. A steep rock
      like a wall rose directly in his way; it seemed to cut off all
      retreat, when he espied the strong cord-like branch of a
      grape-vine reaching half way down it. He sprang at it with the
      force of a desperate man, seized it with both hands, and being
      young and agile, succeeded in swinging himself to the summit of
      the cliff. Here he stood in full relief against the sky, when the
      red-cap cocked his pistol and fired. The ball whistled by Sam’s
      head. With the lucky thought of a man in an emergency, he uttered
      a yell, fell to the ground, and detached at the same time a
      fragment of the rock, which tumbled with a loud splash into the

      “I’ve done his business,” said the red-cap, to one or two of his
      comrades as they arrived panting. “He’ll tell no tales, except to
      the fishes in the river.”

      His pursuers now turned off to meet their companions. Sam sliding
      silently down the surface of the rock, let himself quietly into
      his skiff, cast loose the fastening, and abandoned himself to the
      rapid current, which in that place runs like a mill-stream, and
      soon swept him off from the neighborhood. It was not, however,
      until he had drifted a great distance that he ventured to ply his
      oars; when he made his skiff dart like an arrow through the
      strait of Hell Gate, never heeding the danger of Pot, Frying-pan,
      or Hog’s-back itself; nor did he feel himself thoroughly secure
      until safely nestled in bed in the cockloft of the ancient
      farm-house of the Suydams.

      Here the worthy Peechy paused to take breath and to take a sip of
      the gossip tankard that stood at his elbow. His auditors remained
      with open mouths and outstretched necks, gaping like a nest of
      swallows for an additional mouthful.

      “And is that all?” exclaimed the half-pay officer.

      “That’s all that belongs to the story,” said Peechy Prauw.

      “And did Sam never find out what was buried by the redcaps?” said
      Wolfert, eagerly; whose mind was haunted by nothing but ingots
      and doubloons.

      “Not that I know of; he had no time to spare from his work; and
      to tell the truth, he did not like to run the risk of another
      race among the rocks. Besides, how should he recollect the spot
      where the grave had been digged? every thing would look different
      by daylight. And then, where was the use of looking for a dead
      body, when there was no chance of hanging the murderers?”

      “Aye, but are you sure it was a dead body they buried?” said

      “To be sure,” cried Peechy Prauw, exultingly. “Does it not haunt
      in the neighborhood to this very day?”

      “Haunts!” exclaimed several of the party, opening their eyes
      still wider and edging their chairs still closer.

      “Aye, haunts,” repeated Peechy; “has none of you heard of father
      red-cap that haunts the old burnt farm-house in the woods, on the
      border of the Sound, near Hell Gate?”

      “Oh, to be sure, I’ve heard tell of something of the kind, but
      then I took it for some old wives’ fable.”

      “Old wives’ fable or not,” said Peechy Prauw, “that farmhouse
      stands hard by the very spot. It’s been unoccupied time out of
      mind, and stands in a wild, lonely part of the coast; but those
      who fish in the neighborhood have often heard strange noises
      there; and lights have been seen about the wood at night; and an
      old fellow in a red cap has been seen at the windows more than
      once, which people take to be the ghost of the body that was
      buried there. Once upon a time three soldiers took shelter in the
      building for the night, and rummaged it from top to bottom, when
      they found old father red-cap astride of a cider-barrel in the
      cellar, with a jug in one hand and a goblet in the other. He
      offered them a drink out of his goblet, but just as one of the
      soldiers was putting it to his mouth-Whew! a flash of fire blazed
      through the cellar, blinded every mother’s son of them for
      several minutes, and when they recovered their eye-sight, jug,
      goblet, and red-cap had vanished, and nothing but the empty
      cider-barrel remained.”

      Here the half-pay officer, who was growing very muzzy and sleepy,
      and nodding over his liquor, with half-extinguished eye, suddenly
      gleamed up like an expiring rushlight.

      “That’s all humbug!” said he, as Peechy finished his last story.

      “Well, I don’t vouch for the truth of it myself,” said Peechy
      Prauw, “though all the world knows that there’s something strange
      about the house and grounds; but as to the story of Mud Sam, I
      believe it just as well as if it had happened to myself.”

      The deep interest taken in this conversation by the company, had
      made them unconscious of the uproar that prevailed abroad, among
      the elements, when suddenly they were all electrified by a
      tremendous clap of thunder. A lumbering crash followed
      instantaneously that made the building shake to its foundation.
      All started from their seats, imagining it the shock of an
      earthquake, or that old father red-cap was coming among them in
      all his terrors. They listened for a moment, but only heard the
      rain pelting against the windows, and the wind howling among the
      trees. The explosion was soon explained by the apparition of an
      old negro’s bald head thrust in at the door, his white goggle
      eyes contrasting with his jetty poll, which was wet with rain and
      shone like a bottle. In a jargon but half intelligible he
      announced that the kitchen chimney had been struck with

      A sullen pause of the storm, which now rose and sunk in gusts,
      produced a momentary stillness. In this interval the report of a
      musket was heard, and a long shout, almost like a yell, resounded
      from the shore. Every one crowded to the window; another musket
      shot was heard, and another long shout, that mingled wildly with
      a rising blast of wind. It seemed as if the cry came up from the
      bosom of the waters; for though incessant flashes of lightning
      spread a light about the shore, no one was to be seen.

      Suddenly the window of the room overhead was opened, and a loud
      halloo uttered by the mysterious stranger. Several hailings
      passed from one party to the other, but in a language which none
      of the company in the bar-room could understand; and presently
      they heard the window closed, and a great noise overhead as if
      all the furniture were pulled and hauled about the room. The
      negro servant was summoned, and shortly after was seen assisting
      the veteran to lug the ponderous sea-chest down stairs.

      The landlord was in amazement. “What, you are not going on the
      water in such a storm?”

      “Storm!” said the other, scornfully, “do you call such a sputter
      of weather a storm?”

      “You’ll get drenched to the skin—You’ll catch your death!” said
      Peechy Prauw, affectionately.

      “Thunder and lightning!” exclaimed the merman, “don’t preach
      about weather to a man that has cruised in whirlwinds and

      The obsequious Peechy was again struck dumb. The voice from the
      water was again heard in a tone of impatience; the bystanders
      stared with redoubled awe at this man of storms, which seemed to
      have come up out of the deep and to be called back to it again.
      As, with the assistance of the negro, he slowly bore his
      ponderous sea-chest towards the shore, they eyed it with a
      superstitious feeling; half doubting whether he were not really
      about to embark upon it, and launch forth upon the wild waves.
      They followed him at a distance with a lanthorn.

      “Douse the light!” roared the hoarse voice from the water. “No
      one wants light here!”

      “Thunder and lightning!” exclaimed the veteran; “back to the
      house with you!”

      Wolfert and his companions shrunk back is dismay. Still their
      curiosity would not allow them entirely to withdraw. A long sheet
      of lightning now flickered across the waves, and discovered a
      boat, filled with men, just under a rocky point, rising and
      sinking with the heavy surges, and swashing the water at every
      heave. It was with difficulty held to the rocks by a boat hook,
      for the current rushed furiously round the point. The veteran
      hoisted one end of the lumbering sea-chest on the gunwale of the
      boat; he seized the handle at the other end to lift it in, when
      the motion propelled the boat from the shore; the chest slipped
      off from the gunwale, sunk into the waves, and pulled the veteran
      headlong after it. A loud shriek was uttered by all on shore, and
      a volley of execrations by those on board; but boat and man were
      hurried away by the rushing swiftness of the tide. A pitchy
      darkness succeeded; Wolfert Webber indeed fancied that He
      distinguished a cry for help, and that he beheld the drowning man
      beckoning for assistance; but when the lightning again gleamed
      along the water all was drear and void. Neither man nor boat was
      to be seen; nothing but the dashing and weltering of the waves as
      they hurried past.

      The company returned to the tavern, for they could not leave it
      before the storm should subside. They resumed their seats and
      gazed on each other with dismay. The whole transaction had not
      occupied five minutes and not a dozen words had been spoken. When
      they looked at the oaken chair they could scarcely realize the
      fact that the strange being who had so lately tenanted it, full
      of life and Herculean vigor, should already be a corpse. There
      was the very glass he had just drunk from; there lay the ashes
      from the pipe which he had smoked as it were with his last
      breath. As the worthy burghers pondered on these things, they
      felt a terrible conviction of the uncertainty of human existence,
      and each felt as if the ground on which he stood was rendered
      less stable by this awful example.

      As, however, the most of the company were possessed of that
      valuable philosophy which enables a man to bear up with fortitude
      against the misfortunes of his neighbors, they soon managed to
      console themselves for the tragic end of the veteran. The
      landlord was happy that the poor dear man had paid his reckoning
      before he went.

      “He came in a storm, and he went in a storm; he came in the
      night, and he went in the night; he came nobody knows from
      whence, and he has gone nobody knows where. For aught I know he
      has gone to sea once more on his chest and may land to bother
      some people on the other side of the world! Though it’s a
      thousand pities,” added the landlord, “if he has gone to Davy
      Jones that he had not left his sea-chest behind him.”

      “The sea-chest! St. Nicholas preserve us!” said Peechy Prauw.
      “I’d not have had that sea-chest in the house for any money; I’ll
      warrant he’d come racketing after it at nights, and making a
      haunted house of the inn. And as to his going to sea on his
      chest, I recollect what happened to Skipper Onderdonk’s ship on
      his voyage from Amsterdam.

      “The boatswain died during a storm, so they wrapped him up in a
      sheet, and put him in his own sea-chest, and threw him overboard;
      but they neglected in their hurry-skurry to say prayers over
      him—and the storm raged and roared louder than ever, and they saw
      the dead man seated in his chest, with his shroud for a sail,
      coming hard after the ship; and the sea breaking before him in
      great sprays like fire, and there they kept scudding day after
      day and night after night, expecting every moment to go to wreck;
      and every night they saw the dead boatswain in his sea-chest
      trying to get up with them, and they heard his whistle above the
      blasts of wind, and he seemed to send great seas mountain high
      after them, that would have swamped the ship if they had not put
      up the dead lights. And so it went on till they lost sight of him
      in the fogs of Newfoundland, and supposed he had veered ship and
      stood for Dead Man’s Isle. So much for burying a man at sea
      without saying prayers over him.”

      The thunder-gust which had hitherto detained the company was now
      at an end. The cuckoo clock in the hall struck midnight; every
      one pressed to depart, for seldom was such a late hour trespassed
      on by these quiet burghers. As they sallied forth they found the
      heavens once more serene. The storm which had lately obscured
      them had rolled aways and lay piled up in fleecy masses on the
      horizon, lighted up by the bright crescent of the moon, which
      looked like a silver lamp hung up in a palace of clouds.

      The dismal occurrence of the night, and the dismal narrations
      they had made, had left a superstitious feeling in every mind.
      They cast a fearful glance at the spot where the buccaneer had
      disappeared, almost expecting to see him sailing on his chest in
      the cool moonshine. The trembling rays glittered along the
      waters, but all was placid; and the current dimpled over the spot
      where he had gone down. The party huddled together in a little
      crowd as they repaired homewards; particularly when they passed a
      lonely field where a man had been murdered; and he who had
      farthest to go and had to complete his journey alone, though a
      veteran sexton, and accustomed, one would think to ghosts and
      goblins, yet went a long way round, rather than pass by his own

      Wolfert Webber had now carried home a fresh stock of stories and
      notions to ruminate upon. His mind was all of a whirl with these
      freebooting tales; and then these accounts of pots of money and
      Spanish treasures, buried here and there and every where about
      the rocks and bays of this wild shore, made him almost dizzy.

      “Blessed St. Nicholas!” ejaculated he, half aloud, “is it not
      possible to come upon one of these golden hoards, and so make
      one’s self rich in a twinkling. How hard that I must go on,
      delving and delving, day in and day out, merely to make a morsel
      of bread, when one lucky stroke of a spade might enable me to
      ride in my carriage for the rest of my life!”

      As he turned over in his thoughts all that he had been told of
      the singular adventure of the black fisherman, his imagination
      gave a totally different complexion to the tale. He saw in the
      gang of redcaps nothing but a crew of pirates burying their
      spoils, and his cupidity was once more awakened by the
      possibility of at length getting on the traces of some of this
      lurking wealth. Indeed, his infected fancy tinged every thing
      with gold. He felt like the greedy inhabitant of Bagdad, when his
      eye had been greased with the magic ointment of the dervise, that
      gave him to see all the treasures of the earth. Caskets of buried
      jewels, chests of ingots, bags of outlandish coins, seemed to
      court him from their concealments, and supplicate him to relieve
      them from their untimely graves.

      On making private inquiries about the grounds said to be haunted
      by father red-cap, he was more and more confirmed in his surmise.
      He learned that the place had several times been visited by
      experienced money-diggers, who had heard Mud Sam’s story, though
      none of them had met with success. On the contrary, they had
      always been dogged with ill luck of some kind or other, in
      consequence, as Wolfert concluded, of their not going to work at
      the proper time, and with the proper ceremonials. The last
      attempt had been made by Cobus Quackenbos, who dug for a whole
      night and met with incredible difficulty, for as fast as he threw
      one shovel full of earth out of the hole, two were thrown in by
      invisible hands. He succeeded so far, however, as to uncover an
      iron chest, when there was a terrible roaring, and ramping, and
      raging of uncouth figures about the hole, and at length a shower
      of blows, dealt by invisible cudgels, that fairly belabored him
      off the forbidden ground. This Cobus Quackenbos had declared on
      his death-bed, so that there could not be any doubt of it. He was
      a man that had devoted many years of his life to money-digging,
      and it was thought would have ultimately succeeded, had he not
      died suddenly of a brain fever in the alms-house.

      Wolfert Webber was now in a worry of trepidation and impatience;
      fearful lest some rival adventurer should get a scent of the
      buried gold. He determined privately to seek out the negro
      fisherman and get him to serve as guide to the place where he had
      witnessed the mysterious scene of interment. Sam was easily
      found; for he was one of those old habitual beings that live
      about a neighborhood until they wear themselves a place in the
      public mind, and become, in a manner, public characters. There
      was not an unlucky urchin about the town that did not know Mud
      Sam the fisherman, and think that he had a right to play his
      tricks upon the old negro. Sam was an amphibious kind of animal,
      something more of a fish than a man; he had led the life of an
      otter for more than half a century, about the shores of the bay,
      and the fishing grounds of the Sound. He passed the greater part
      of his time on and in the water, particularly about Hell Gate;
      and might have been taken, in bad weather, for one of the
      hobgoblins that used to haunt that strait. There would he be
      seen, at all times, and in all weathers; sometimes in his skiff,
      anchored among the eddies, or prowling, like a shark about some
      wreck, where the fish are supposed to be most abundant. Sometimes
      seated on a rock from hour to hour, looming through mist and
      drizzle, like a solitary heron watching for its prey. He was well
      acquainted with every hole and corner of the Sound; from the
      Wallabout to Hell Gate, and from Hell Gate even unto the Devil’s
      Stepping Stones; and it was even affirmed that he knew all the
      fish in the river by their Christian names.

      Wolfert found him at his cabin, which was not much larger than a
      tolerable dog-house. It was rudely constructed of fragments of
      wrecks and drift-wood, and built on the rocky shore, at the foot
      of the old fort, just about what at present forms the point of
      the Battery. A “most ancient and fish-like smell” pervaded the
      place. Oars, paddles, and fishing-rods were leaning against the
      wall of the fort; a net was spread on the sands to dry; a skiff
      was drawn up on the beach, and at the door of his cabin lay Mud
      Sam himself, indulging in a true negro’s luxury—sleeping in the

      Many years had passed away since the time of Sam’s youthful
      adventure, and the snows of many a winter had grizzled the knotty
      wool upon his head. He perfectly recollected the circumstances,
      however, for he had often been called upon to relate them, though
      in his version of the story he differed in many points from
      Peechy Prauw; as is not unfrequently the case with authentic
      historians. As to the subsequent researches of money-diggers, Sam
      knew nothing about them; they were matters quite out of his line;
      neither did the cautious Wolfert care to disturb his thoughts on
      that point. His only wish was to secure the old fisherman as a
      pilot to the spot, and this was readily effected. The long time
      that had intervened since his nocturnal adventure had effaced all
      Sam’s awe of the place, and the promise of a trifling reward
      roused him at once from his sleep and his sunshine.

      The tide was adverse to making the expedition by water, and
      Wolfert was too impatient to get to the land of promise, to wait
      for its turning; they set off, therefore, by land. A walk of four
      or five miles brought them to the edge of a wood, which at that
      time covered the greater part of the eastern side of the island.
      It was just beyond the pleasant region of Bloomen-dael. Here they
      struck into a long lane, straggling among trees and bushes, very
      much overgrown with weeds and mullein stalks as if but seldom
      used, and so completely overshadowed as to enjoy but a kind of
      twilight. Wild vines entangled the trees and flaunted in their
      faces; brambles and briars caught their clothes as they passed;
      the garter-snake glided across their path; the spotted toad
      hopped and waddled before them, and the restless cat-bird mewed
      at them from every thicket. Had Wolfert Webber been deeply read
      in romantic legend he might have fancied himself entering upon
      forbidden, enchanted ground; or that these were some of the
      guardians set to keep a watch upon buried treasure. As it was,
      the loneliness of the place, and the wild stories connected with
      it, had their effect upon his mind.

      On reaching the lower end of the lane they found themselves near
      the shore of the Sound, in a kind of amphitheatre, surrounded by
      forest tree. The area had once been a grass-plot, but was now
      shagged with briars and rank weeds. At one end, and just on the
      river bank, was a ruined building, little better than a heap of
      rubbish, with a stack of chimneys rising like a solitary tower
      out of the centre. The current of the Sound rushed along just
      below it, with wildly-grown trees drooping their branches into
      its waves.

      Wolfert had not a doubt that this was the haunted house of father
      red-cap, and called to mind the story of Peechy Prauw. The
      evening was approaching, and the light falling dubiously among
      these places, gave a melancholy tone to the scene, well
      calculated to foster any lurking feeling of awe or superstition.
      The night-hawk, wheeling about in the highest regions of the air,
      emitted his peevish, boding cry. The woodpecker gave a lonely tap
      now and then on some hollow tree, and the firebird,3 as he
      streamed by them with his deep-red plumage, seemed like some
      genius flitting about this region of mystery.


      3 (return) [ Orchard Oreole.]

      They now came to an enclosure that had once been a garden. It
      extended along the foot of a rocky ridge, but was little better
      than a wilderness of weeds, with here and there a matted
      rose-bush, or a peach or plum tree grown wild and ragged, and
      covered with moss. At the lower end of the garden they passed a
      kind of vault in the side of the bank, facing the water. It had
      the look of a root-house. The door, though decayed, was still
      strong, and appeared to have been recently patched up. Wolfert
      pushed it open. It gave a harsh grating upon its hinges, and
      striking against something like a box, a rattling sound ensued,
      and a skull rolled on the floor. Wolfert drew back shuddering,
      but was reassured on being informed by Sam that this was a family
      vault belonging to one of the old Dutch families that owned this
      estate; an assertion which was corroborated by the sight of
      coffins of various sizes piled within. Sam had been familiar with
      all these scenes when a boy, and now knew that he could not be
      far from the place of which they were in quest.

      They now made their way to the water’s edge, scrambling along
      ledges of rocks, and having often to hold by shrubs and
      grape-vines to avoid slipping into the deep and hurried stream.
      At length they came to a small cove, or rather indent of the
      shore. It was protected by steep rocks and overshadowed by a
      thick copse of oaks and chestnuts, so as to be sheltered and
      almost concealed. The beach sloped gradually within the cove, but
      the current swept deep and black and rapid along its jutting
      points. Sam paused; raised his remnant of a hat, and scratched
      his grizzled poll for a moment, as he regarded this nook: then
      suddenly clapping his hands, he stepped exultingly forward, and
      pointing to a large iron ring, stapled firmly in the rock, just
      where a broad shelve of stone furnished a commodious
      landing-place. It was the very spot where the red-caps had
      landed. Years had changed the more perishable features of the
      scene; but rock and iron yield slowly to the influence of time.
      On looking more narrowly, Wolfert remarked three crosses cut in
      the rock just above the ring, which had no doubt some mysterious
      signification. Old Sam now readily recognized the overhanging
      rock under which his skiff had been sheltered during the
      thunder-gust. To follow up the course which the midnight gang had
      taken, however, was a harder task. His mind had been so much
      taken up on that eventful occasion by the persons of the drama,
      as to pay but little attention to the scenes; and places looked
      different by night and day. After wandering about for some time,
      however, they came to an opening among the trees which Sam
      thought resembled the place. There was a ledge of rock of
      moderate height like a wall on one side, which Sam thought might
      be the very ridge from which he overlooked the diggers. Wolfert
      examined it narrowly, and at length described three crosses
      similar to those above the iron ring, cut deeply into the face of
      the rock, but nearly obliterated by the moss that had grown on
      them. His heart leaped with joy, for he doubted not but they were
      the private marks of the buccaneers, to denote the places where
      their treasure lay buried. All now that remained was to ascertain
      the precise spot; for otherwise he might dig at random without
      coming upon the spoil, and he has already had enough of such
      profitless labor. Here, however, Sam was perfectly at a loss,
      and, indeed, perplexed him by a variety of opinions; for his
      recollections were all confused. Sometimes he declared it must
      have been at the foot of a mulberry tree hard by; then it was
      just beside a great white stone; then it must have been under a
      small green knoll, a short distance from the ledge of rock: until
      at length Wolfert became as bewildered as himself.

      The shadows of evening were now spreading themselves over the
      woods, and rock and tree began to mingle together. It was
      evidently too late to attempt anything farther at present; and,
      indeed, Wolfert had come unprepared with implements to prosecute
      his researches. Satisfied, therefore, with having ascertained the
      place, he took note of all its landmarks, that he might recognize
      it again, and set out on his return homeward, resolved to
      prosecute this golden enterprise without delay.

      The leading anxiety which had hitherto absorbed every feeling
      being now in some measure appeased, fancy began to wander, and to
      conjure up a thousand shapes and chimeras as he returned through
      this haunted region. Pirates hanging in chains seemed to swing on
      every tree, and he almost expected to see some Spanish Don, with
      his throat cut from ear to ear, rising slowly out of the ground,
      and shaking the ghost of a money-bag.

      Their way back lay through the desolate garden, and Wolfert’s
      nerves had arrived at so sensitive a state that the flitting of a
      bird, the rustling of a leaf, or the falling of a nut was enough
      to startle him. As they entered the confines of the garden, they
      caught sight of a figure at a distance advancing slowly up one of
      the walks and bending under the weight of a burthen. They paused
      and regarded him attentively. He wore what appeared to be a
      woollen cap, and still more alarming, of a most sanguinary red.
      The figure moved slowly on, ascended the bank, and stopped at the
      very door of the sepulchral vault. Just before entering he looked
      around. What was the horror of Wolfert when he recognized the
      grizzly visage of the drowned buccaneer. He uttered an
      ejaculation of horror. The figure slowly raised his iron fist and
      shook it with a terrible menace. Wolfert did not pause to see
      more, but hurried off as fast as his legs could carry him, nor
      was Sam slow in following at his heels, having all his ancient
      terrors revived. Away, then, did they scramble, through bush and
      brake, horribly frightened at every bramble that tagged at their
      skirts, nor did they pause to breathe, until they had blundered
      their way through this perilous wood and had fairly reached the
      high-road to the city.

      Several days elapsed before Wolfert could summon courage enough
      to prosecute the enterprise, so much had he been dismayed by the
      apparition, whether living dead, of the grizzly buccaneer. In the
      meantime, what a conflict of mind did he suffer! He neglected all
      his concerns, was moody and restless all day, lost his appetite;
      wandered in his thoughts and words, and committed a thousand
      blunders. His rest was broken; and when he fell asleep, the
      nightmare, in shape of a huge money-bag, sat squatted upon his
      breast. He babbled about incalculable sums; fancied himself
      engaged in money digging; threw the bed-clothes right and left,
      in the idea that he was shovelling among the dirt, groped under
      the bed in quest of the treasure, and lugged forth, as he
      supposed, an inestimable pot of gold.

      Dame Webber and her daughter were in despair at what they
      conceived a returning touch of insanity. There are two family
      oracles, one or other of which Dutch housewives consult in all
      cases of great doubt and perplexity: the dominie and the doctor.
      In the present instance they repaired to the doctor. There was at
      that time a little, dark, mouldy man of medicine famous among the
      old wives of the Manhattoes for his skill not only in the healing
      art, but in all matters of strange and mysterious nature. His
      name was Dr. Knipperhausen, but he was more commonly known by the
      appellation of the High German doctor.4 To him did the poor women
      repair for counsel and assistance touching the mental vagaries of
      Wolfert Webber.


      4 (return) [ The same, no doubt, of whom mention is made in the
      history of Dolph Heyliger.]

      They found the doctor seated in his little study, clad in his
      dark camblet robe of knowledge, with his black velvet cap, after
      the manner of Boorhaave, Van Helmont, and other medical sages: a
      pair of green spectacles set in black horn upon his clubbed nose,
      and poring over a German folio that seemed to reflect back the
      darkness of his physiognomy. The doctor listened to their
      statement of the symptoms of Wolfert’s malady with profound
      attention; but when they came to mention his raving about buried
      money, the little man pricked up his ears. Alas, poor women! they
      little knew the aid they had called in.

      Dr. Knipperhausen had been half his life engaged in seeking the
      short cuts to fortune, in quest of which so many a long lifetime
      is wasted. He had passed some years of his youth in the Harz
      mountains of Germany, and had derived much valuable instruction
      from the miners, touching the mode of seeking treasure buried in
      the earth. He had prosecuted his studies also under a travelling
      sage who united all the mysteries of medicine with magic and
      legerdemain. His mind, therefore, had become stored with all
      kinds of mystic lore: he had dabbled a little in astrology,
      alchemy, and divination; knew how to detect stolen money, and to
      tell where springs of water lay hidden; in a word, by the dark
      nature of his knowledge he had acquired the name of the High
      German doctor, which is pretty nearly equivalent to that of
      necromancer. The doctor had often heard rumors of treasure being
      buried in various parts of the island, and’ had long been anxious
      to get on the traces of it. No sooner were Wolfert’s waking and
      sleeping vagaries confided to him, than he beheld in them the
      confirmed symptoms of a case of money-digging, and lost no time
      in probing it to the bottom. Wolfert had long been sorely
      depressed in mind by the golden secret, and as a family physician
      is a kind of father confessor, he was glad of the opportunity of
      unburthening himself. So far from curing, the doctor caught the
      malady from his patient. The circumstances unfolded to him
      awakened all his cupidity; he had not a doubt of money being
      buried somewhere in the neighborhood of the mysterious crosses,
      and offered to join Wolfert in the search. He informed him that
      much secrecy and caution must be observed in enterprises of the
      kind; that money is only to be digged for at night; with certain
      forms and ceremonies; the burning of drugs; the repeating of
      mystic words, and above all, that the seekers must be provided
      with a divining rod, which had the wonderful property of pointing
      to the very spot on the surface of the earth under which treasure
      lay hidden. As the doctor had given much of his mind to these
      matters, he charged himself with all the necessary preparations,
      and, as the quarter of the moon was propitious, he undertook to
      have the divining rod ready by a certain night.5


      5 (return) [ The following note was found appended to this paper
      in the handwriting of Mr. Knickerbocker. “There has been much
      written against the divining rod by those light minds who are
      ever ready to scoff at the mysteries of nature, but I fully join
      with Dr. Knipperhausen in giving it my faith. I shall not insist
      upon its efficacy in discovering the concealment of stolen goods,
      the boundary-stones of fields, the traces of robbers and
      murderers, or even the existence of subterraneous springs and
      streams of water; albeit, I think these properties not easily to
      be discredited; but of its potency in discovering vein of
      precious metal, and hidden sums of money and jewels, I have not
      the least doubt. Some said that the rod turned only in the hands
      of persons who had been born in particular months of the year;
      hence astrologers had recourse to planetary influence when they
      would procure a talisman. Others declared that the properties of
      the rod were either an effect of chance, or the fraud of the
      holder, or the work of the devil. Thus sayeth the reverend Father
      Gaspard Schott in his Treatise on Magic. ‘Propter haec et similia
      argumenta audacter ego pronuncio vim conversivam virgulae
      befurcatae nequaquam naturalem esse, sed vel casa vel fraude
      virgulam tractantis vel ope diaboli,’ etc.

      “Georgius Agricula also was of opinion that it was a mere
      delusion of the devil to inveigle the avaricious and unwary into
      his clutches, and in his treatise ‘de re Metallica,’ lays
      particular stress on the mysterious words pronounced by those
      persons who employed the divining rod during his time. But I make
      not a doubt that the divining rod is one of those secrets of
      natural magic, the mystery of which is to be explained by the
      sympathies existing between physical things operated upon by the
      planets, and rendered efficacious by the strong faith of the
      individual. Let the divining rod be properly gathered at the
      proper time of the moon, cut into the proper form, used with the
      necessary ceremonies, and with a perfect faith in its efficacy,
      and I can confidently recommend it to my fellow-citizens as an
      infallible means of discovering the various places on the island
      of the Manhattoes where treasure hath been buried in the olden
      time. D.K.”]

      Wolfert’s heart leaped with joy at having met with so learned and
      able a coadjutor. Every thing went on secretly, but swimmingly.
      The doctor had many consultations with his patient, and the good
      women of the household lauded the comforting effect of his
      visits. In the meantime, the wonderful divining rod, that great
      key to nature’s secrets, was duly prepared. The doctor had
      thumbed over all his books of knowledge for the occasion; and Mud
      Sam was engaged to take them in his skiff to the scene of
      enterprise; to work with spade and pick-axe in unearthing the
      treasure; and to freight his bark with the weighty spoils they
      were certain of finding.

      At length the appointed night arrived for this perilous
      undertaking. Before Wolfert left his home he counselled his wife
      and daughter to go to bed, and feel no alarm if he should not
      return during the night. Like reasonable women, on being told not
      to feel alarm, they fell immediately into a panic. They saw at
      once by his manner that something unusual was in agitation; all
      their fears about the unsettled state of his mind were roused
      with tenfold force: they hung about him entreating him not to
      expose himself to the night air, but all in vain. When Wolfert
      was once mounted on his hobby, it was no easy matter to get him
      out of the saddle. It was a clear starlight night, when he issued
      out of the portal of the Webber palace. He wore a large napped
      hat tied under the chin with a handkerchief of his daughter’s, to
      secure him from the night damp, while Dame Webber threw her long
      red cloak about his shoulders, and fastened it round his neck.

      The doctor had been no less carefully armed and accoutred by his
      housekeeper, the vigilant Frau Ilsy, and sallied forth in his
      camblet robe by way of surtout; his black velvet cap under his
      cocked hat, a thick clasped book under his arm, a basket of drugs
      and dried herbs in one hand, and in the other the miraculous rod
      of divination.

      The great church clock struck ten as Wolfert and the doctor
      passed by the church-yard, and the watchman bawled in hoarse
      voice a long and doleful “All’s well!” A deep sleep had already
      fallen upon this primitive little burgh; nothing disturbed this
      awful silence, excepting now and then the bark of some profligate
      night-walking dog, or the serenade of some romantic cat. It is
      true, Wolfert fancied more than once that he heard the sound of a
      stealthy footfall at a distance behind them; but it might have
      been merely the echo of their own steps echoing along the quiet
      streets. He thought also at one time that he saw a tall figure
      skulking after them—stopping when they stopped, and moving on as
      they proceeded; but the dim and uncertain lamp light threw such
      vague gleams and shadows, that this might all have been mere

      They found the negro fisherman waiting for them, smoking his pipe
      in the stern of his skiff, which was moored just in front of his
      little cabin. A pick-axe and spade were lying in the bottom of
      the boat, with a dark lanthorn, and a stone jug of good Dutch
      courage, in which honest Sam no doubt, put even more faith than
      Dr. Knipperhausen in his drugs.

      Thus then did these three worthies embark in their cockleshell of
      a skiff upon this nocturnal expedition, with a wisdom and valor
      equalled only by the three wise men of Gotham, who went to sea in
      a bowl. The tide was rising and running rapidly up the Sound. The
      current bore them along, almost without the aid of an oar. The
      profile of the town lay all in shadow. Here and there a light
      feebly glimmered from some sick chamber, or from the cabin window
      of some vessel at anchor in the stream. Not a cloud obscured the
      deep starry firmament, the lights of which wavered on the surface
      of the placid river; and a shooting meteor, streaking its pale
      course in the very direction they were taking, was interpreted by
      the doctor into a most propitious omen.

      In a little while they glided by the point of Corlears Hook with
      the rural inn which had been the scene of such night adventures.
      The family had retired to rest, and the house was dark and still.
      Wolfert felt a chill pass over him as they passed the point where
      the buccaneer had disappeared. He pointed it out to Dr.
      Knipperhausen. While regarding it, they thought they saw a boat
      actually lurking at the very place; but the shore cast such a
      shadow over the border of the water that they could discern
      nothing distinctly. They had not proceeded far when they heard
      the low sounds of distant oars, as if cautiously pulled. Sam
      plied his oars with redoubled vigor, and knowing all the eddies
      and currents of the stream, soon left their followers, if such
      they were, far astern. In a little while they stretched across
      Turtle bay and Kip’s bay, then shrouded themselves in the deep
      shadows of the Manhattan shore, and glided swiftly along, secure
      from observation. At length Sam shot his skiff into a little
      cove, darkly embowered by trees, and made it fast to the well
      known iron ring. They now landed, and lighting the lanthorn,
      gathered their various implements and proceeded slowly through
      the bushes. Every sound startled them, even that of their
      footsteps among the dry leaves; and the hooting of a screech owl,
      from the shattered chimney of father red-cap’s ruin, made their
      blood run cold.

      In spite of all Wolfert’s caution in taking note of the
      landmarks, it was some time before they could find the open place
      among the trees, where the treasure was supposed to be buried. At
      length they came to the ledge of rock; and on examining its
      surface by the aid of the lanthorn, Wolfert recognized the three
      mystic crosses. Their hearts beat quick, for the momentous trial
      was at hand that was to determine their hopes.

      The lanthorn was now held by Wolfert Webber, while the doctor
      produced the divining rod. It was a forked twig, one end of which
      was grasped firmly in each hand, while the centre, forming the
      stem, pointed perpendicularly upwards. The doctor moved this wand
      about, within a certain distance of the earth, from place to
      place, but for some time without any effect, while Wolfert kept
      the light of the lanthorn turned full upon it, and watched it
      with the most breathless interest. At length the rod began slowly
      to turn. The doctor grasped it with greater earnestness, his hand
      trembling with the agitation of his mind. The wand continued
      slowly to turn, until at length the stem had reversed its
      position, and pointed perpendicularly downward; and remained
      pointing to one spot as fixedly as the needle to the pole.

      “This is the spot!” said the doctor in an almost inaudible tone.

      Wolfert’s heart was in his throat.

      “Shall I dig?” said Sam, grasping the spade.

      “_Pots tousends_, no!” replied the little doctor, hastily. He now
      ordered his companions to keep close by him and to maintain the
      most inflexible silence. That certain precautions must be taken,
      and ceremonies used to prevent the evil spirits which keep about
      buried treasure from doing them any harm. The doctor then drew a
      circle round the place, enough to include the whole party. He
      next gathered dry twigs and leaves, and made a fire, upon which
      he threw certain drugs and dried herbs which he had brought in
      his basket. A thick smoke rose, diffusing a potent odor, savoring
      marvellously of brimstone and assafoetida, which, however
      grateful it might be to the olfactory nerves of spirits, nearly
      strangled poor Wolfert, and produced a fit of coughing and
      wheezing that made the whole grove resound. Doctor Knipperhausen
      then unclasped the volume which he had brought under his arm,
      which was printed in red and black characters in German text.
      While Wolfert held the lanthorn, the doctor, by the aid of his
      spectacles, read off several forms of conjuration in Latin and
      German. He then ordered Sam to seize the pick-axe and proceed to
      work. The close-bound soil gave obstinate signs of not having
      been disturbed for many a year. After having picked his way
      through the surface, Sam came to a bed of sand and gravel, which
      he threw briskly to right and left with the spade.

      “Hark!” said Wolfert, who fancied he heard a trampling among the
      dry leaves, and a rustling through the bushes. Sam paused for a
      moment, and they listened. No footstep was near. The bat flitted
      about them in silence; a bird roused from its nest by the light
      which glared up among the trees, flew circling about the flame.
      In the profound stillness of the woodland they could distinguish
      the current rippling along the rocky shore, and the distant
      murmuring and roaring of Hell Gate.

      Sam continued his labors, and had already digged a considerable
      hole. The doctor stood on the edge, reading formulae every now
      and then from the black letter volume, or throwing more drugs and
      herbs upon the fire; while Wolfert bent anxiously over the pit,
      watching every stroke of the spade. Any one witnessing the scene
      thus strangely lighted up by fire, lanthorn, and the reflection
      of Wolfert’s red mantle, might have mistaken the little doctor
      for some foul magician, busied in his incantations, and the
      grizzled-headed Sam as some swart goblin, obedient to his

      At length the spade of the fisherman struck upon something that
      sounded hollow. The sound vibrated to Wolfert’s heart. He struck
      his spade again.

      “‘Tis a chest,” said Sam.

      “Full of gold, I’ll warrant it!” cried Wolfert, clasping his
      hands with rapture.

      Scarcely had he uttered the words when a sound from overhead
      caught his ear. He cast up his eyes, and lo! by the expiring
      light of the fire he beheld, just over the disk of the rock, what
      appeared to be the grim visage of the drowned buccaneer, grinning
      hideously down upon him.

      Wolfert gave a loud cry and let fall the lanthorn. His panic
      communicated itself to his companions. The negro leaped out of
      the hole, the doctor dropped his book and basket and began to
      pray in German. All was horror and confusion. The fire was
      scattered about, the lanthorn extinguished. In their hurry-skurry
      they ran against and confounded one another. They fancied a
      legion of hobgoblins let loose upon them, and that they saw by
      the fitful gleams of the scattered embers, strange figures in red
      caps gibbering and ramping around them. The doctor ran one way,
      Mud Sam another, and Wolfert made for the water side. As he
      plunged struggling onwards through bush and brake, he heard the
      tread of some one in pursuit.

      He scrambled frantically forward. The footsteps gained upon him.
      He felt himself grasped by his cloak, when suddenly his pursuer
      was attacked in turn: a fierce fight and struggle ensued—a pistol
      was discharged that lit up rock and bush for a period, and showed
      two figures grappling together—all was then darker than ever. The
      contest continued—the combatants clenched each other, and panted
      and groaned, and rolled among the rocks. There was snarling and
      growling as of a cur, mingled with curses in which Wolfert
      fancied he could recognize the voice of the buccaneer. He would
      fain have fled, but he was on the brink of a precipice and could
      go no farther.

      Again the parties were on their feet; again there was a tugging
      and struggling, as if strength alone could decide the combat,
      until one was precipitated from the brow of the cliff and sent
      headlong into the deep stream that whirled below. Wolfert heard
      the plunge, and a kind of strangling bubbling murmur, but the
      darkness of the night hid every thing from view, and the
      swiftness of the current swept every thing instantly out of
      hearing. One of the combatants was disposed of, but whether
      friend or foe Wolfert could not tell, nor whether they might not
      both be foes. He heard the survivor approach and his terror
      revived. He saw, where the profile of the rocks rose against the
      horizon, a human form advancing. He could not be mistaken: it
      must be the buccaneer. Whither should he fly! a precipice was on
      one side; a murderer on the other. The enemy approached: he was
      close at hand. Wolfert attempted to let himself down the face of
      the cliff. His cloak caught in a thorn that grew on the edge. He
      was jerked from off his feet and held dangling in the air, half
      choaked by the string with which his careful wife had fastened
      the garment round his neck. Wolfert thought his last moment had
      arrived; already had he committed his soul to St. Nicholas, when
      the string broke and he tumbled down the bank, bumping from rock
      to rock and bush to bush, and leaving the red cloak fluttering
      like a bloody banner in the air.

      It was a long while before Wolfert came to himself. When he
      opened his eyes the ruddy streaks of the morning were already
      shooting up the sky. He found himself lying in the bottom of a
      boat, grievously battered. He attempted to sit up but was too
      sore and stiff to move. A voice requested him in friendly accents
      to lie still. He turned his eyes toward the speaker: it was Dirk
      Waldron. He had dogged the party, at the earnest request of Dame
      Webber and her daughter, who, with the laudable curiosity of
      their sex, had pried into the secret consultations of Wolfert and
      the doctor. Dirk had been completely distanced in following the
      light skiff of the fisherman, and had just come in time to rescue
      the poor money-digger from his pursuer.

      Thus ended this perilous enterprise. The doctor and Mud Sam
      severally found their way back to the Manhattoes, each having
      some dreadful tale of peril to relate. As to poor Wolfert,
      instead of returning in triumph, laden with bags of gold, he was
      borne home on a shutter, followed by a rabble route of curious
      urchins. His wife and daughter saw the dismal pageant from a
      distance, and alarmed the neighborhood with their cries: they
      thought the poor man had suddenly settled the great debt of
      nature in one of his wayward moods. Finding him, however, still
      living, they had him conveyed speedily to bed, and a jury of old
      matrons of the neighborhood assembled to determine how he should
      be doctored. The whole town was in a buzz with the story of the
      money-diggers. Many repaired to the scene of the previous night’s
      adventures: but though they found the very place of the digging,
      they discovered nothing that compensated for their trouble. Some
      say they found the fragments of an oaken chest and an iron pot
      lid, which savored strongly of hidden money; and that in the old
      family vault there were traces of holes and boxes, but this is
      all very dubious.

      In fact, the secret of all this story has never to this day been
      discovered: whether any treasure was ever actually buried at that
      place, whether, if so, it was carried off at night by those who
      had buried it; or whether it still remains there under the
      guardianship of gnomes and spirits until it shall be properly
      sought for, is all matter of conjecture. For my part I incline to
      the latter opinion; and make no doubt that great sums lie buried,
      both there and in many other parts of this island and its
      neighborhood, ever since the times of the buccaneers and the
      Dutch colonists; and I would earnestly recommend the search after
      them to such of my fellow citizens as are not engaged in any
      other speculations.

      There were many conjectures formed, also, as to who and what was
      the strange man of the seas who had domineered over the little
      fraternity at Corlears Hook for a time; disappeared so strangely,
      and reappeared so fearfully. Some supposed him a smuggler
      stationed at that place to assist his comrades in landing their
      goods among the rocky coves of the island. Others that he was a
      buccaneer; one of the ancient comrades either of Kidd or Bradish,
      returned to convey away treasures formerly hidden in the
      vicinity. The only circumstance that throws any thing like a
      vague light over this mysterious matter is a report that
      prevailed of a strange foreign-built shallop, with the look of a
      piccaroon, having been seen hovering about the Sound for several
      days without landing or reporting herself, though boats were seen
      going to and from her at night: and that she was seen standing
      out of the mouth of the harbor, in the gray of the dawn after the
      catastrophe of the money-diggers.

      I must not omit to mention another report, also, which I confess
      is rather apocryphal, of the buccaneer, who was supposed to have
      been drowned, being seen before daybreak, with a lanthorn in his
      hand, seated astride his great sea-chest and sailing through Hell
      Gate, which just then began to roar and bellow with redoubled

      While all the gossip world was thus filled with talk and rumor,
      poor Wolfert lay sick and sorrowful in his bed, bruised in body
      and sorely beaten down in mind. His wife and daughter did all
      they could to bind up his wounds both corporal and spiritual. The
      good old dame never stirred from his bedside, where she sat
      knitting from morning till night; while his daughter busied
      herself about him with the fondest care. Nor did they lack
      assistance from abroad. Whatever may be said of the desertions of
      friends in distress, they had no complaint of the kind to make.
      Not an old wife of the neighborhood but abandoned her work to
      crowd to the mansion of Wolfert Webber, inquire after his health
      and the particulars of his story. Not one came, moreover, without
      her little pipkin of pennyroyal, sage, balm, or other herb-tea,
      delighted at an opportunity of signalizing her kindness and her
      doctorship. What drenchings did not the poor Wolfert undergo, and
      all in vain. It was a moving sight to behold him wasting away day
      by day; growing thinner and thinner and ghastlier and ghastlier,
      and staring with rueful visage from under an old patchwork
      counterpane upon the jury of matrons kindly assembled to sigh and
      groan and look unhappy around him.

      Dirk Waldron was the only being that seemed to shed a ray of
      sunshine into this house of mourning. He came in with cheery look
      and manly spirit, and tried to reanimate the expiring heart of
      the poor money-digger, but it was all in vain. Wolfert was
      completely done over. If any thing was wanting to complete his
      despair, it was a notice served upon him in the midst of his
      distress, that the corporation were about to run a new street
      through the very centre of his cabbage garden. He saw nothing
      before him but poverty and ruin; his last reliance, the garden of
      his forefathers, was to be laid waste, and what then was to
      become of his poor wife and child?

      His eyes filled with tears as they followed the dutiful Amy out
      of the room one morning. Dirk Waldron was seated beside him;
      Wolfert grasped his hand, pointed after his daughter, and for the
      first time since his illness broke the silence he had maintained.

      “I am going!” said he, shaking his head feebly, “and when I am
      gone—my poordaughter—”

      “Leave her to me, father!” said Dirk, manfully—“I’ll take care of

      Wolfert looked up in the face of the cheery, strapping youngster,
      and saw there was none better able to take care of a woman.

      “Enough,” said he, “she is yours!—and now fetch me a lawyer—let
      me make my will and die.”

      The lawyer was brought—a dapper, bustling, round-headed little
      man, Roorback (or Rollebuck, as it was pronounced) by name. At
      the sight of him the women broke into loud lamentations, for they
      looked upon the signing of a will as the signing of a
      death-warrant. Wolfert made a feeble motion for them to be
      silent. Poor Amy buried her face and her grief in the
      bed-curtain. Dame Webber resumed her knitting to hide her
      distress, which betrayed itself, however, in a pellucid tear,
      that trickled silently down and hung at the end of her peaked
      nose; while the cat, the only unconcerned member of the family,
      played with the good dame’s ball of worsted, as it rolled about
      the floor.

      Wolfert lay on his back, his nightcap drawn over his forehead;
      his eyes closed; his whole visage the picture of death. He begged
      the lawyer to be brief, for he felt his end approaching, and that
      he had no time to lose. The lawyer nibbed his pen, spread out his
      paper, and prepared to write.

      “I give and bequeath,” said Wolfert, faintly, “my small farm—”

      “What—all!” exclaimed the lawyer.

      Wolfert half opened his eyes and looked upon the lawyer.

      “Yes—all” said he.

      “What! all that great patch of land with cabbages and sunflowers,
      which the corporation is just going to run a main street

      “The same,” said Wolfert, with a heavy sigh and sinking back upon
      his pillow.

      “I wish him joy that inherits it!” said the little lawyer,
      chuckling and rubbing his hands involuntarily.

      “What do you mean?” said Wolfert, again opening his eyes.

      “That he’ll be one of the richest men in the place!” cried little

      The expiring Wolfert seemed to step back from the threshold of
      existence: his eyes again lighted up; he raised himself in his
      bed, shoved back his red worsted nightcap, and stared broadly at
      the lawyer.

      “You don’t say so!” exclaimed he.

      “Faith, but I do!” rejoined the other. “Why, when that great
      field and that piece of meadow come to be laid out in streets,
      and cut up into snug building lots—why, whoever owns them need
      not pull off his hat to the patroon!”

      “Say you so?” cried Wolfert, half thrusting one leg out of bed,
      “why, then I think I’ll not make my will yet!”

      To the surprise of everybody the dying man actually recovered.
      The vital spark which had glimmered faintly in the socket,
      received fresh fuel from the oil of gladness, which the little
      lawyer poured into his soul. It once more burnt up into a flame.

      Give physic to the heart, ye who would revive the body of a
      spirit-broken man! In a few days Wolfert left his room; in a few
      days more his table was covered with deeds, plans of streets and
      building lots. Little Rollebuck was constantly with him, his
      right-hand man and adviser, and instead of making his will,
      assisted in the more agreeable task of making his fortune. In
      fact, Wolfert Webber was one of those worthy Dutch burghers of
      the Manhattoes whose fortunes have been made, in a manner, in
      spite of themselves; who have tenaciously held on to their
      hereditary acres, raising turnips and cabbages about the skirts
      of the city, hardly able to make both ends meet, until the
      corporation has cruelly driven streets through their abodes, and
      they have suddenly awakened out of a lethargy, and, to their
      astonishment, found themselves rich men.

      Before many months had elapsed a great bustling street passed
      through the very centre of the Webber garden, just where Wolfert
      had dreamed of finding a treasure. His golden dream was
      accomplished; he did indeed find an unlooked-for source of
      wealth; for, when his paternal lands were distributed into
      building lots, and rented out to safe tenants, instead of
      producing a paltry crop of cabbages, they returned him an
      abundant crop of rents; insomuch that on quarter day, it was a
      goodly sight to see his tenants rapping at his door, from morning
      to night, each with a little round-bellied bag of money, the
      golden produce of the soil.

      The ancient mansion of his forefathers was still kept up, but
      instead of being a little yellow-fronted Dutch house in a garden,
      it now stood boldly in the midst of a street, the grand house of
      the neighborhood; for Wolfert enlarged it with a wing on each
      side, and a cupola or tea room on top, where he might climb up
      and smoke his pipe in hot weather; and in the course of time the
      whole mansion was overrun by the chubby-faced progeny of Amy
      Webber and Dirk Waldron.

      As Wolfert waxed old and rich and corpulent, he also set up a
      great gingerbread-colored carriage drawn by a pair of black
      Flanders mares with tails that swept the ground; and to
      commemorate the origin of his greatness he had for a crest a
      fullblown cabbage painted on the pannels, with the pithy motto
      _Alles Kopf_ that is to say, ALL HEAD; meaning thereby that he
      had risen by sheer head-work.

      To fill the measure of his greatness, in the fullness of time the
      renowned Ramm Rapelye slept with his fathers, and Wolfert Webber
      succeeded to the leathern-bottomed arm-chair in the inn parlor at
      Corlears Hook; where he long reigned greatly honored and
      respected, insomuch that he was never known to tell a story
      without its being believed, nor to utter a joke without its being
      laughed at.

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