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four months, till he was vividly brought before it by the following circum
One night a young lady, an actress, was travelling by one of the coaches that run between London and Exeter; she was the only passenger. The night was cold, wet, windless, and dark, and no living thing could be seen from the vehicle, the lanterns of which were the sole lights that cheered the dreary road. The only noises audible, besides the mournful howling bark of some watch-dog, were the rattle of heavy drops on the roof, the hurried plashing of the horses' feet, and the occasional sounds of encouragement addressed to the animals by the coachman and guard, anxious to get forward to where they knew that a good fire and comfortable meal awaited them.
The passenger endeavored to while away the tedium of her midnight journey by watching through the rain-dimmed glass the stunted trees and cold-looking wet hedges, as, for a moment illumined by the passing glare of the lamps, they seemed to flit away ghost-like to the rear.
On a sudden, as the vehicle was crossing one of the gloomy and extensive plains that abound on that line of road, it was hailed from the wayside by a person who stood alone enveloped in a voluminous cloak, and drenched with wet. The coachman halted, and, the stranger craving a passage to the next town, he opened the door for his entrance.
The lady remarked, as he passed under the light, something peculiar and unusual about his aspect,—something by which she was led to believe him one of her own profession, and most likely travelling with similar views to hers. She was consequently induced to notice him with some interest.
As the vehicle drove on, he seated himself before her, with his back to the horses, and commenced a conversation, which-she being a woman of considerable talent-was kept up for some time with much spirit. The extraordinary manners and language of the stranger afforded her nota ittle entertainment at first, as she believed their peculiarities to be acted for the time, and she listened to him with great attention.
At length his topics and words became so strange and wild, that she could not follow them, and ceased to understand him. A feeling of wonder, doubt, and vague alarm seized her, and she sat trembling, and fervently wishing for the termination of the stage. Suddenly, she heard a slight clicking sound, as of a small spring, and her eye could catch a dim metallic gleaming through the darkness of the vehicle: a moment, and the head of her fellow-traveller fell heavily forward upon her lapand her hands were bathed with some scalding fluid. She screamed aloud -the horses were suddenly drawn up-the guard pulled open the door, and the light from the lantern showed him the lady, white as a sheet, gasping with terror, with the male passenger prone upon her knees, his head turned to one side, and air gurgling from a deep wound in his neck. In the bottom of the carriage was a pocket-case of surgical instruments, and a slender bright bistoury, falling out as the door was opened, tinkled among the stones of the roadway.
I shall go no further with the scene.
This traveller turned out to be the young Pole, my former patient. In
a pocket of the instrument-case was found a note, addressed Alexis Maryanski, of such a street, London-his father. It was in German, and merely stated that, finding his present body unsuited to him, he had made arrangements to divest himself of it, and take another.
I HAD finished my education, my diploma and licence were obtained, and now, a medical practitioner, I was to go forth into the world to look for that (no doubt) abundant harvest, of which I had thus completed so arduous and expensive a seed-time. While I was yet in ignorance how or where to commence the gathering in, a tolerable situation was, by the exertions of my friends, procured for me, viz-that of resident or housesurgeon at an hospital then just erected in a rising town in the south of Ireland. I accepted it, and forthwith transported myself and effects to the place, and entered upon my new duties.
It was part of these to keep a journal of the cases, recording the cause, progress, and daily changing symptoms of disease in each patient. Every report was required to commence with a short account of the name, appearance, employment, &c., of the individual, and the circumstances that had preceded the injury or attack. The following narrative is founded upon one of such reports:
My apartments in the hospital were just over the entrance-hall ;-the windows of my sitting-room looking down the avenue that led from the door, through the middle of a small field of grass in front of the building, to one of the quiet suburban streets of the town.
At this window I sat one afternoon looking out in a sort of dreamy, inattentive mood, when, on a sudden, my eye was caught by the scarlet coats and glittering arms of a body of four or five soldiers, who came into view in the usually unfrequented streets, surrounding a cart, and keeping off a crowd of people who were running alongside, jumping on each other's shoulders, and making other efforts to obtain a view into it.
They entered the enclosure in front, and moved up the avenue, one of them remaining behind at the gate to keep back the people that followed. As the cart came nearer, I could see in it, from where I sat, an individual laid along, covered with some bedclothes and canvass, and I immediately concluded it to be a patient-yet why one should come so strangely attended, rather excited my curiosity. I went out to make inquiries, and was informed by the corporal in charge that he was an illicit distiller recently apprehended, and had been passed on from some place in a distant part of the country to be confined in the gaol of the town. Moreover
that somehow in his capture he had been very dangerously wounded, and was sent to the hospital, it being intended that one of them should keep constant guard upon him till either he died or could be removed to prison.
I had him immediately taken into the house, and put to bed in a small apartment that branched off from one of the wards; while in the latter, a great whiskered soldier forthwith took up his position, giving, certainly, rather a striking aspect to the scene.
The kindness with which I treated my patient, and the care I took to prevent him from unnecessary shaking in being carried to his room, appeared to have won for me his good graces, which were much further gained by a glass of warm spirits and water which I considered it advisable to give him by way of stimulant. His name he gave me as Philip Erris, but I am convinced that this was not his actual appellation. I was surprised to hear him speak very good and grammatical English, dashed certainly with the accent of his country, but totally different from the somewhat unpleasant patois of the locality.
On proceeding to the necessary examination, I found his whole body to be one mass of injury-shattered with many fractures: indeed, it has been always a matter of wonder to me how he could, for one moment, survive such an infliction, much more how he could bear to be carried so far and so roughly. But the chief seat of lesion was in the back. His spine was so much bruised that he had lost all power and sense in his body and extremities. Not a muscle could he move, save those of the neck and face; and he lay upon his back, every now and then giving his head a sudden jerk, accompanied by a twitching grin, half ludicrous, half fearful, but at any rate singularly unnatural in its expression.
The pain he felt must have been very poignant: he said it seemed, in every twinge, as if a red hot poker had been thrust down between his clothes and the skin of his back. His face and hair were wet with perspiration, and his eye burned with a fitful, glancing lustre, a frightening indication of the agony the spirit, whose index it was, endured. Frequently, too, the beginning as it were of a deep groan would be forced from him, but, catching it short off by the middle (if I may use the expression,) he would clench his teeth, and, holding his breath for a little, would let it escape slowly and softly out, so as not to produce any sound. The bones of his lower limbs were completely smashed, and his haunches had been crushed together; but of these parts he made no complaint— they had neither motion nor feeling; the threads that connected them with the thinking centre were snapped asunder: to him they were even as the flesh of another man. In the morning of that day he had possessed some sensation and power of motion in his arms and hands-that was all gone now; nothing but his neck, head, and features obeyed his will, and the disorganization appeared to be rapidly creeping up toward the brain.
He had been a short, thin, wiry man, of a most active make, and was dark complexioned, with sharp, strongly marked features, very expressive. His hair was grizzled, and on each cheek was a patch of burning red, the hectic of exceeding pain. His bearing and language were very
reckless-evidently so by effort indeed he seemed desirous of dying hard, as I believe the word is used.
On my inquiring his calling and the circumstances of his injury, he replied,
"It's no use, doctor; my sack is run-I feel it. I shall cheat somebody, I know. Could you spare me a drop more of that last medicine? It's the only thing that's like to do me good now."
"No, my good man, I am afraid, rather, you have got an overdose of that same drug."
"Yes," said he, "I got a taste at every public-house as we came along; had it not been for that, I should have kicked this morning-not that I care much about that, as there's no helping it. I believe; but I thought it would be as well to enjoy what I could of the creature before going to a quarter where there will be little or no potyeen, whatever else there may be in plenty."
My curiosity was strongly excited to learn the way in which such an extensive and singular injury had been received. I redoubled question on question with the view to elicit it. At length, when, observing him to be a very intelligent man, I had shown him, in the journal, the commencement of several other reports, a new idea appeared to arise in his mind. "How many hours have I to live, doctor?" said he: " est-one, two, or three, think you?"
come, be hon
I took refuge from this question in a shake of the head, as wise as so young a practitioner could be expected to accomplish.
Well," said he, in a ruminating way, "I don't care if I do tell you a thing or two, for a change: they have been now some twenty years at least untold, and to tell them you will have quite the charm of variety; so come nearer, and I will give you a report that will bang e'er a one in your writing-book."
When I was a very young man, I believe I was what is called a wildgoing slip of a lad. I was fond of company, and that none of the most refined or select description-fond of late hours-a passionate adorer of the sex-a devoted sportsman, at least in cock and dog fighting, badgerdrawing, and general gaming. Besides, I took to drinking very early —indeed, I have no recollection of perfect sobriety. Nor was this latter fact so unnatural, for my father was a distiller, a manufacturer of spirits, on the most extensive scale of any in the south of Ireland.
He managed the manufacture himself, and our house was part of the buildings of the distillery. I was his only son, and, as my mother had left his house, on account of something or other, I had no one to look sharp after me; so that, wandering about among the workmen, I speedily acquired a thorough practical knowledge of whiskey in all its departments-malting, distilling, and drinking. He was a very old man, of a disposition exceedingly obstinate and overbearing,-a strictly moral person, and of all the formalities of religion most rigidly observant; actuated
*To "run a sack" is, I believe, the technical expression among the illicit distillers in Ireland for malting and distilling a bag of grain.
all the while by, I fervently believe, the sincerest devotional sentiments He was a Protestant, and belonged to a very strict community of sectarians, most intolerant of any the lightest solecisms in morality. Again he was penurious to the last degree, holding liberality a mortal sin-nay even common mirth he considered as a degree of evil.
His whole thoughts, for this world, were directed to his business-to his distillery. He had made it what it was (having begun life upon a very limited scale,) and to make it this had been the grand object of his lifetime he looked upon it, and felt towards it, as one might regard a child of his own that had grown up under his training to be a brawny and powerful man.
My mother was quite a girl when her friends, dazzled by his wealth and upright character, forced her upon him. They never took to each other, for she was a light-thinking, giddy creature. Worse than that was said of her; but she was my mother, and on that point I will speak no further, save that, whether she left his house, according to some accounts, or he turned her out of it, as other stories run, she lived on a separate maintenance, in a distant part of the country, till I was nearly grown up, when she died, of what ailment I could never learn precisely. My father took care to provide for me the best education the place could afford; but, in addition, required that I should give all my serious attention to the distillery, and consider myself as born to carry on and increase the trade. This was his favorite phrase, and it was his favorite idea. He seemed to think, not that he had established a business to support his offspring, but that he had got offspring to support his business,
But I was idle and dissipated, and, conceal it as I might-and very well I did it-it came to his knowledge; and most fearful scenes sometimes occurred between us. We lived in the loneliest way, saw no friends, and had but three servants--one a poor weak old man, laboring under a chronic disease, who had been browbeaten into a state of almost perfect idiocy; the other, cook and housemaid; and the third, a coarse girl of all-work. From such a home, you may well credit me, I absented myself to the extremest limits prudence could define.
But suddenly that house acquired a charm that bound me to it with an attraction in itself a thousand-fold more potent than all the many temptations that had erewhile drawn me from it.
One of our housemaids--and the practice had been regular with a long succession of them-wearied of my father's manner, left as soon as she could with safety to her wages, and he immediately procured another in her stead. How or where he found her I never knew. I gave myself no concern; but the moment I saw her I formed a purpose, the guilt of which often rises up in my mind recriminatively when I lament at my destiny.
She was very beautiful. I have seen many women in my restless lifetime, in many parts of the world, some of them celebrated; but certainly she was the most lovely my eyes ever drank delight from looking on. I am convinced that any man, whatever might have been his highest motive, his most enthusiastic pursuit, the instant her smile lighted on him, would have forsaken, forgotten that motive or pursuit-his ruling passion would