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THE second of the brothers came seldom. He was a grave lad: he neither laughed nor made merry, nor rode a-hunting like his two brothers. In figure he was the tallest of the three ; but stooped in walking, so that he seemed the shortest. He was possessed of a strange melancholy, of which he was never quite free, although sometimes he would seem to shake it off and talk bravely for a while. He was like his uncle, Colonel Thomas Radcliffe, in his temperament, being as moody and as full of strange fancies.
• It is a disease,' said Mr. Hilyard, speaking of Francis Radcliffe's melancholia, 'for
which there is no known remedy, while the causes are subtle and manifold. The patients are subject to strange fancies and illusions ; some have thought themselves made of glass and others of feathers; some are held down with fears, and others inflated like bladders with wild hopes; some suffer the curse of Apuleius, in that dead men's bones are always held before them : a strange disease indeed. Yet melancholy men, as Aristotle insisteth, are often witty.'
Mr. Hilyard, therefore, regarded this young gentleman with a peculiar curiosity, and loved nothing so much as to talk with him and learn his thoughts. First of all he discovered that this boy was strangely given to the study of all books which he could find upon the unseen world, such as books on oracles, conjuring, of spirits, predictions, astrology, and so forth. On meeting encouragement he opened his mind to Mr. Hilyard and took counsel with him. There was no subject in the world, I believe, in which our most ingenious Oxford scholar was not versed. Therefore Frank learned from him how to conjure spirits, raise the dead, cast nativities, and so forth, and that is to say, all that books can teach.
• Which is,' Mr. Hilyard said, “everything except the essential. I mean, Mr. Radcliffe, that you may question the stars, but you must read their answer yourself, because they are silent; and you may question the dead —these books tell you how—but I doubt if they will reply.
Nevertheless they began to amuse themselves with casting horoscopes and nativities, erecting celestial figures and the houses of heaven; Mr. Hilyard all the time protesting that the thing was a foolish invention, and useful only in that it taught something of the planetary courses. Yet he, like his pupil, watched anxiously for the event; and when, not in one case only, that of Frank himself, but also of the Earl and my brother Tom, the future which they hoped to find lovely and fortunate came out gloomy and threatening, all the signs menacing, Mr. Hilyard became terrified and would have no more of it, saying that though it was a vain thing, yet to continue in it might be the sin of tempting Providence, such as that committed by Saul ; and that as for him, he would ask of the stars no more. Now if the future they had seen in this mirror of coming time had been bright and happy, would they have ceased to inquire ? I think not; and strange it is that this thing which so many learned men and philosophers teach us to despise, is yet on occasion believed in even by themselves.
We had many conversations upon these subjects, which, like the tales of ghosts, are always curious to people of every age and rank. Mr. Hilyard, after speaking of the practice among the ancients, one day discoursed upon the common and vulgar methods practised by people in all countries and in times ancient and modern.
"Some, for instance,' he said, 'look in a magic ball of glass, when they see not only the future but also the present, and what is being done in far countries. Others fill a basin with water, and behold the same as in a mirror. Others read the future by dreams, and others by cards; while by the flight and number of birds, the crowing of cocks, the first words heard in the morn