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apron, in appearance, was tied, which had been caught up and secured through the string to one side, leaving a triangular corner hanging down before.
"The feelings which actuated it in this strange inspection appeared to be not at all of a wrathful description; deep interest and curiosity were all that I could read in the look that was so fixedly bent upon my work. Imagine the hour, the scene, the solitude, the silence, the ghastly remains that every where surrounded me!
"I looked around into the dim corners of the large hall, with the dark gowns, grim fragments of mortality, and blood colored pictures, darkly visible on the walls. Then my eye travelled to the yawning mouth of the pitchy passage leading down to the museum, and away to the fardistant lane. I turned my gaze aloft; there swung the two skeletons, both turned towards me, their caged ribs and sharp limb-bones distinctly lined and shaded, under the light of the single jet of gas that, depending from the ceiling over my table, illuminated the place, and their grotesque attitude adding a diabolic mockery to the dread and disgust themselves inspired; like the effect German romancers seek to produce when they tell of wild bursts of demoniac laughter, marking the ratification of unhallowed compacts of mortals with the fiend.
"A feeling of terror now possessed me, so strange and strong that I can never express it in words. I wist not what to do-whether to address this unearthly visitant, to rise and flee from its presence, or experiment with the view to ascertain whether it might not be a delusion of the eye. You perhaps may consider, and many others with you, that this last would have been the most rational proceeding. It is all very well for one so to think, but, let him be placed in the circumstances, and how will he act?
"Retreating backwards under the influence of over-powering fear, I went to where the other student lay asleep before the fire, and endeavored to wake him-not with any view that he might witness the phenomenon of this breach of nature's laws, but solely from that master instinct that so urgently prompts us to seek the society of our own kind when we deem that beings of another order are near us.
"He was sound asleep, and when I shook him, replied by some strangely murmured words of a dream. If you have ever had the nightmare, and, when some hideous monster pounced upon you, and you essayed to spring away for very life, found yourself unaccountably devoid of powers to stir, you will have had an analogous, though very far from equal, feeling to what I experienced when I found that, though this young man was with me in the body, his spirit was away in far-distant scenes. There was now an idea of forsakenness, desolation, and defencelessness, mixed with the feelings of awe and terror-the sense of vague and undefinable, but dreadful danger, which had previously filled my mind. I would have cried out; but, had I power to scream-which I had not, for a temporary aphonia* possessed me-who would have heard me? and if
* Aphonia-loss of voice-a symptom that may arise from various diseases of the larynx.
any did, how could they come to my help through those dismal and labyrinthine passages, black with the thickest darkness, and blocked with numerous gates and doors, of which the keys lay there on the table, close under the eyes of that dreadful phantom ?-for, during my attempts to rouse my companion, it had moved round to where I had been sitting, and now, stooping down over my dissection, appeared to be closely and minutely inspecting it.
"As I looked at it, I perceived that the peculiar apparatus which I have before alluded to, as planned and understood solely by myself, and which I had placed upon the table, around and over the subject, had become disarranged, and that various portions of it had fallen together, apparently by accident, forming entirely new combinations and co-operations. "I could not help starting forward to remedy this, as my whole heart was fixed upon the success of my experiments, but had just hurriedly touched it, when the spectre turned its head, and looked calmly and inquiringly at me. I leaped back in affright, my momentary interference having confounded the apparatus more than ever; in fact, I could not help fearing that it was altogether ruined.
"My concern at this was, however, in an instant absorbed in a new excitement. All at once the air of the apartment seemed to have acquired form, color, and motion. A confused intermixture of vapoury wreaths of every shade of color, here and there dim and scarcely perceptible, but elsewhere more palpable and distinct, appeared to move hither and thither all over the large hall. More and more clear and vivid did they become, till at length the whole place seemed alive with a multitude of spectral figures, as plain to the eye as the single apparition that had erewhile so disconcerted me. They appeared to be of both sexes, and of all ages, from mere infants up to the most elderly, and they moved about, apparently each engrossed with some pursuit of its own.
"I remarked that they did not avoid, or make way for each other to pass, as they glided about, but seemed to penetrate or go through each other. Two would come together, coalesce, their colors and forms seeming confounded, like one picture on paper seen behind another against a window. Then, emerging, they would become distinct and separate. Their features, too, were very clearly marked, and expressive, all different, and of a more or less intellectual cast. The same look, however, of deep interest, which I had remarked in the first instance, pervaded all their countenances. They gazed at me as they went, too, but again I perceived no appearance of anything like displeasure with me; in fact, they looked at me as they did at one another. They seemed to view with much attention the furniture and the whole paraphernalia about the room, especially the morbid preparations and drawings that stood and hung everywhere around.
"It was, indeed, a most striking spectacle. I stood crouching close to the fire, in wonder and fear, whilst my companion lay along in deep slumber, ever and anon murmuring in his dreams.
They were continually changing their places, like a company in an exhibition-room, and moving along the passages to the lecturing-theatre, and down toward the museum. By and by I could perceive they had some
means of holding converse with each other, and communicating ideasnot by speech, for I heard no sound. They even appeared now and then, as I watched them closely, to draw each other's attention to particular objects, and sometimes to myself, seeming to converse interestedly with regard to me, and then they would move on as if some other thing attracted their thoughts.
"At once the idea occurred to me that these were the spirits of the many hundreds of individuals that had, for three or four generations back, found their final earthly resting-place in these rooms, and whose remains were preserved in the glass bottles and cases. Of the truth of this surmise I became immediately convinced, and curiosity then began to rise in my mind from under the weight of dread that had oppressed it.
"I have said that they appeared to be of all ages—they also seemed to have been of all callings and professions, of which their external appearance gave evidence. They were, likewise, of all ranks, from the nobleman to the beggar; for the hand of the medical student for former times, like that of death, had no respect for persons, and it mattered not to him whether his subject were snatched from the sculptured vault and leaden coffin, or from the shallow grassy heap of the open churchyard.
"In respect of dress, a more motley masquerade could hardly be conceived. Here I would remark the elderly physician of bygone times, with his peruke, full-frilled shirt, velvet suit, diamond buckles, and gold-headed cane; there the lady of quality, with her hooped petticoat, high-heeled shoes, monstrous head-dress, and the white of her complexion rendered more brilliant by fantastic patches of black; now my eye rested on a grotesque figure that seemed to have walked out of one of Hogarth's pictures; then it would be attracted by another in the old conical-capped and whitebreeched and gaitered uniform of a soldier; anon it would shift to a beauty of the days of the latter Charles, with hat and feather, long train, luxuriant hair, deep stomacher, and necklace of pearl. All kinds of attire were there; old white-fronted naval uniforms, broad-skirted coats of silk and velvet, covered with lace, long-flapped waistcoats, periwigs, farthingales, sacques, hoods, plaids and philabegs, quaker broad-brims and collarless coats, jewelled rapiers, and glancing decorations, though the majority seemed to have been of the lower classes, and wore dresses suited to their particular employments.
Many there were that had their limbs in fetters; these were they who had expiated their crimes upon the tree, and had been afterwards given to the schools for dissection. Some were stout muscular bulliesthese were burglars and highwaymen; several were pale, thin, darklydressed, and wearing the aspect of mercantile and professional men-these were forgers, and others guilty of similar offences.
"But the excitement-the terror-added to the fag of long study, want of food and of rest, were at last more than my exhausted frame was equal to, and I fell into some nervous fit, and remained for several hours insensible.
"When I recovered consciousness, the morning was far advancedthe sun shining gaily down through the skylight, and gilding with joyous radiance even the forbidding walls and furniture of that loathsome cham
ber. The other pupil had awakened, and, finding me laid senseless on the floor, had adopted some professional means to restore me, which were successful.
"I went home to my rooms, and all that day gave myself up to a deep and refreshing slumber. But time was not to be lost, so next night I was again at my work-alone.
"I now proceeded to arrange and disarrange my apparatus as formerly, convinced as I was that it had some influence in calling before my vision the remarkable spectacle I had the previous evening been witness to. My efforts were perfectly successful. Shortly before midnight I had again the spectral masquerade moving around me.
"I was now less under the influence of awe or alarm, and, finding they had really no power to harm my body, I got familiar with them, and went on to experiment upon them night after night. At length I struck upon plan whereby I could render these beings palpable to the sense of hearing as well as to that of sight. This was the crisis, the hinge upon which the whole of my after discoveries turned. A while and I could call to my presence not only them, but spiritual essences of all degress and descriptions; for if the classes and orders of earthly things are numerous, upon those of spirits the process of mind we call numeration cannot be brought to bear, so vast is the stupendous theme.
"It was not long before I could discourse with them, and to this noctu ral converse I devoted myself with my whole energy and enthusiasm. Things now all went on smoothly with me, and from one vast view to another I leaped with lightning celerity.
"Was it not a proud, a maddening thought, that I had rent open the curtain that veils the world of spirits from the eye of sense-that the abyss which sinks between mortality and immortality, matter and pure mind, was spanned by an arch of my construction, and that I could now snatch unbounded knowledge ?--for time and space had no more power to check the excursions of my intellect !
"I now found not only that my former blind surmises and conclusions were all real, but that other facts existed, to the statement of which, in the wildest dreams of my unenlightened state, I could never have given credence. But the aphorism Know thyself' clung to me, and one of the first and most exciting of my investigations was the inquiry into the nature and history of my own soul. With a delight beyond the conception of one whose spirit is not etherealized, I ascertained its origin, its migra tions, and its destiny, and learned that almost all the noblest deeds which have been consummated in this world have been by bodies which it has animated; but my delight was increased to the wildest rapture when I knew that the spirit now sojourning in my brain was that which had fired to their high deeds, Sobieski, the bulwark of Christendom, and Kosciusko, the-"
"Hillo!" cried I, starting as the poor Pole had got thus far in his rhapsody. The thought struck me instantaneously," Was this the way to follow the instructions I had received with regard to his treatment-to fulfil my duty to my absent friend, and to him, too, my unfortunate patient, to whose ravings I was now listening with all interest and attention ?"
Up I sprang, covered with confusion, and unable to frame a pretence to break off the conference without exciting the suspicion or rousing the passion of the maniac.
"Excuse me for a moment," said I: "the recollection has just struck me, I left a taper burning in the midst of some papers down in the doctor's room."
Away I ran, but in place of returning sent one of the keepers to watch him. This man, on entering, found him leaning forward upon the table, weeping piteously.
Next day one of his fits of despondency seized him, nor did he recover his former cheerfulness while I remained at the asylum. He hardly ever spoke to me, appearing much chagrined and embarrassed in my company, as a person does in that of any one before whom he has committed him. self unwarily.
For my part, I looked upon him now with far different thoughts from what I had entertained before this singular disclosure. The narrative had riveted my attention whilst he delivered it, by its originality, its interest, and the absolute belief he appeared to feel in every incident. I was struck with the linking together of accurate reasoning, extravagance, and preposterous absurdity it evinced—at the many instances it displayed of a wildly exuberant and lawless fancy, breaking up and confounding the more sober faculties, till a sort of chaotic whole was produced, in which fantastic conception, beauty and vigor of description, richness and power of creative imagination, scientific acquirement and research, were all blended together in an incongruous tissue of delirium. I could not help thinking, was not this a mind, if properly regulated and placed in suitable circumstances, to have conducted the most laborious investigations with adequate ability and success, and to have communicated the result in a manner equal to the importance of the subject,--a mind whose graces would have been as ornamental to society as its labors would have been useful? And now misfortune, haply mismanagement, had rendered it a melancholy, though by no means ridiculous, satire upon the class of intellects to which it belonged.
Shortly after quitting the asylum I went to travel, and did not return for eighteen months. The friend whose place I had thus temporarily filled was one of the first I sought on my arrival in England, and one of my earliest inquiries was with regard to what had become of my former patient the Pole.
His fate I learned, but have some hesitation in narrating it here, unwilling to add to the scenes in these papers that seem to entail upon their author the stigma of a dealer in the horrible and awful-a pander to the inflamed taste that at present seems so much to gloat upon pictures of overdrawn and unnatural romance. As, however, the curiosity of the reader might be disappointed without it, I can only proceed in the way that appears to me to partake least of the character alluded to.
Not long after my departure, Maryanski was removed by his relations, with the view of being placed under the care of a practitioner in France. Hereafter he disappeared from the notice of my friend for about three or