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Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock

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'My designs? Marionetta!'

'Yes, your designs, Scythrop. You have come here to cast me off, and
artfully contrive that it should appear to be my doing, and not yours,
thinking to quiet your tender conscience with this pitiful stratagem.
But do not suppose that you are of so much consequence to me: do not
suppose it: you are of no consequence to me at all--none at all:
therefore, leave me: I renounce you: leave me; why do you not leave

Scythrop endeavoured to remonstrate, but without success. She
reiterated her injunctions to him to leave her, till, in the
simplicity of his spirit, he was preparing to comply. When he had
nearly reached the door, Marionetta said, 'Farewell.' Scythrop looked
back. 'Farewell, Scythrop,' she repeated, 'you will never see me

'Never see you again, Marionetta?'

'I shall go from hence to-morrow, perhaps to-day; and before we meet
again, one of us will be married, and we might as well be dead, you
know, Scythrop.'

The sudden change of her voice in the last few words, and the burst
of tears that accompanied them, acted like electricity on the
tender-hearted youth; and, in another instant, a complete
reconciliation was accomplished without the intervention of words.

There are, indeed, some learned casuists, who maintain that love has
no language, and that all the misunderstandings and dissensions of
lovers arise from the fatal habit of employing words on a subject to
which words are inapplicable; that love, beginning with looks, that
is to say, with the physiognomical expression of congenial mental
dispositions, tends through a regular gradation of signs and symbols
of affection, to that consummation which is most devoutly to be
wished; and that it neither is necessary that there should be, nor
probable that there would be, a single word spoken from first to
last between two sympathetic spirits, were it not that the arbitrary
institutions of society have raised, at every step of this very simple
process, so many complicated impediments and barriers in the shape
of settlements and ceremonies, parents and guardians, lawyers,
Jew-brokers, and parsons, that many an adventurous knight (who, in
order to obtain the conquest of the Hesperian fruit, is obliged to
fight his way through all these monsters), is either repulsed at the
onset, or vanquished before the achievement of his enterprise: and
such a quantity of unnatural talking is rendered inevitably necessary
through all the stages of the progression, that the tender and
volatile spirit of love often takes flight on the pinions of some of
the [Greek: epea pteroenta], or _winged words_ which are pressed into
his service in despite of himself.

At this conjuncture, Mr Glowry entered, and sitting down near them,
said, 'I see how it is; and, as we are all sure to be miserable do
what we may, there is no need of taking pains to make one another more
so; therefore, with God's blessing and mine, there'--joining their
hands as he spoke.

Scythrop was not exactly prepared for this decisive step; but he could
only stammer out, 'Really, sir, you are too good;' and Mr Glowry
departed to bring Mr Hilary to ratify the act.

Now, whatever truth there may be in the theory of love and language,
of which we have so recently spoken, certain it is, that during Mr
Glowry's absence, which lasted half an hour, not a single word was
said by either Scythrop or Marionetta.

Mr Glowry returned with Mr Hilary, who was delighted at the prospect
of so advantageous an establishment for his orphan niece, of whom he
considered himself in some manner the guardian, and nothing remained,
as Mr Glowry observed, but to fix the day.

Marionetta blushed, and was silent. Scythrop was also silent for a
time, and at length hesitatingly said, 'My deal sir, your goodness
overpowers me; but really you are so precipitate.'

Now, this remark, if the young lady had made it, would, whether she
thought it or not--for sincerity is a thing of no account on these
occasions, nor indeed on any other, according to Mr Flosky--this
remark, if the young lady had made it, would have been perfectly
_comme il faut_; but, being made by the young gentleman, it was _toute
autre chose_, and was, indeed, in the eyes of his mistress, a most
heinous and irremissible offence. Marionetta was angry, very angry,
but she concealed her anger, and said, calmly and coldly, 'Certainly,
you are much too precipitate, Mr Glowry. I assure you, sir, I have
by no means made up my mind; and, indeed, as far as I know it, it
inclines the other way; but it will be quite time enough to think of
these matters seven years hence. Before surprise permitted reply, the
young lady had locked herself up in her own apartment.

'Why, Scythrop,' said Mr Glowry, elongating his face exceedingly, 'the
devil is come among us sure enough, as Mr Toobad observes: I thought
you and Marionetta were both of a mind.'

'So we are, I believe, sir,' said Scythrop, gloomily, and stalked away
to his tower.

'Mr Glowry,' said Mr Hilary, 'I do not very well understand all this.'

'Whims, brother Hilary,' said Mr Glowry; 'some little foolish love
quarrel, nothing more. Whims, freaks, April showers. They will be
blown over by to-morrow.'

'If not,' said Mr Hilary, 'these April showers have made us April

'Ah!' said Mr Glowry, 'you are a happy man, and in all your
afflictions you can console yourself with a joke, let it be ever so
bad, provided you crack it yourself. I should be very happy to laugh
with you, if it would give you any satisfaction; but, really, at
present, my heart is so sad, that I find it impossible to levy a
contribution on my muscles.'

* * * * *


On the evening on which Mr Asterias had caught a glimpse of a female
figure on the sea-shore, which he had translated into the visual sign
of his interior cognition of a mermaid, Scythrop, retiring to his
tower, found his study preoccupied. A stranger, muffled in a cloak,
was sitting at his table. Scythrop paused in surprise. The stranger
rose at his entrance, and looked at him intently a few minutes, in
silence. The eyes of the stranger alone were visible. All the rest
of the figure was muffled and mantled in the folds of a black cloak,
which was raised, by the right hand, to the level of the eyes. This
scrutiny being completed, the stranger, dropping the cloak, said, 'I
see, by your physiognomy, that you may be trusted;' and revealed to
the astonished Scythrop a female form and countenance of dazzling
grace and beauty, with long flowing hair of raven blackness, and
large black eyes of almost oppressive brilliancy, which strikingly
contrasted with a complexion of snowy whiteness. Her dress was
extremely elegant, but had an appearance of foreign fashion, as if
both the lady and her mantua-maker were of 'a far countree.'

'I guess 'twas frightful there to see
A lady so richly clad as she,
Beautiful exceedingly.'

For, if it be terrible to one young lady to find another under a tree
at midnight, it must, _à fortiori_, be much more terrible to a young
gentleman to find a young lady in his study at that hour. If the
logical consecutiveness of this conclusion be not manifest to my
readers, I am sorry for their dulness, and must refer them, for more
ample elucidation, to a treatise which Mr Flosky intends to write, on
the Categories of Relation, which comprehend Substance and Accident,
Cause and Effect, Action and Re-action.

Scythrop, therefore, either was or ought to have been frightened; at
all events, he was astonished; and astonishment, though not in itself
fear, is nevertheless a good stage towards it, and is, indeed, as it
were, the half-way house between respect and terror, according to Mr
Burke's graduated scale of the sublime.[7]

'You are surprised,' said the lady; 'yet why should you be surprised?
If you had met me in a drawing-room, and I had been introduced to
you by an old woman, it would have been a matter of course: can the
division of two or three walls, and the absence of an unimportant
personage, make the same object essentially different in the
perception of a philosopher?'

'Certainly not,' said Scythrop; 'but when any class of objects
has habitually presented itself to our perceptions in invariable
conjunction with particular relations, then, on the sudden appearance
of one object of the class divested of those accompaniments, the
essential difference of the relation is, by an involuntary process,
transferred to the object itself, which thus offers itself to our
perceptions with all the strangeness of novelty.'

'You are a philosopher,' said the lady, 'and a lover of liberty. You
are the author of a treatise, called "Philosophical Gas; or, a Project
for a General Illumination of the Human Mind."'

'I am,' said Scythrop, delighted at this first blossom of his renown.

'I am a stranger in this country,' said the lady; 'I have been but a
few days in it, yet I find myself immediately under the necessity of
seeking refuge from an atrocious persecution. I had no friend to whom
I could apply; and, in the midst of my difficulties, accident threw
your pamphlet in my way. I saw that I had, at least, one kindred mind
in this nation, and determined to apply to you.'

'And what would you have me do?' said Scythrop, more and more amazed,
and not a little perplexed.

'I would have you,' said the young lady, 'assist me in finding some
place of retreat, where I can remain concealed from the indefatigable
search that is being made for me. I have been so nearly caught once or
twice already, that I cannot confide any longer in my own ingenuity.'

Doubtless, thought Scythrop, this is one of my golden candle-sticks.
'I have constructed,' said he, 'in this tower, an entrance to a small
suite of unknown apartments in the main building, which I defy any
creature living to detect. If you would like to remain there a day or
two, till I can find you a more suitable concealment, you may rely on
the honour of a transcendental eleutherarch.'

'I rely on myself,' said the lady. 'I act as I please, go where I
please, and let the world say what it will. I am rich enough to set
it at defiance. It is the tyrant of the poor and the feeble, but the
slave of those who are above the reach of its injury.'

Scythrop ventured to inquire the name of his fair _protégée_. 'What
is a name?' said the lady: 'any name will serve the purpose of
distinction. Call me Stella. I see by your looks,' she added, 'that
you think all this very strange. When you know me better, your
surprise will cease. I submit not to be an accomplice in my sex's
slavery. I am, like yourself, a lover of freedom, and I carry my
theory into practice. _They alone are subject to blind authority who
have no reliance on their own strength_.'

Stella took possession of the recondite apartments. Scythrop intended
to find her another asylum; but from day to day he postponed his
intention, and by degrees forgot it. The young lady reminded him of
it from day to day, till she also forgot it. Scythrop was anxious to
learn her history; but she would add nothing to what she had already
communicated, that she was shunning an atrocious persecution. Scythrop
thought of Lord C. and the Alien Act, and said, 'As you will not
tell your name, I suppose it is in the green bag.' Stella, not
understanding what he meant, was silent; and Scythrop, translating
silence into acquiescence, concluded that he was sheltering an
_illuminée_ whom Lord S. suspected of an intention to take the
Tower, and set fire to the Bank: exploits, at least, as likely to be
accomplished by the hands and eyes of a young beauty, as by a drunken
cobbler and doctor, armed with a pamphlet and an old stocking.

Stella, in her conversations with Scythrop, displayed a highly
cultivated and energetic mind, full of impassioned schemes of liberty,
and impatience of masculine usurpation. She had a lively sense of all
the oppressions that are done under the sun; and the vivid pictures
which her imagination presented to her of the numberless scenes of
injustice and misery which are being acted at every moment in every
part of the inhabited world, gave an habitual seriousness to her
physiognomy, that made it seem as if a smile had never once hovered on
her lips. She was intimately conversant with the German language and
literature; and Scythrop listened with delight to her repetitions of
her favourite passages from Schiller and Goethe, and to her encomiums
on the sublime Spartacus Weishaupt, the immortal founder of the sect
of the Illuminati. Scythrop found that his soul had a greater capacity
of love than the image of Marionetta had filled. The form of Stella
took possession of every vacant corner of the cavity, and by degrees
displaced that of Marionetta from many of the outworks of the citadel;
though the latter still held possession of the _keep_. He judged, from
his new friend calling herself Stella, that, if it were not her real
name, she was an admirer of the principles of the German play from
which she had taken it, and took an opportunity of leading the
conversation to that subject; but to his great surprise, the lady
spoke very ardently of the singleness and exclusiveness of love, and
declared that the reign of affection was one and indivisible; that it
might be transferred, but could not be participated. 'If I ever love,'
said she, 'I shall do so without limit or restriction. I shall hold
all difficulties light, all sacrifices cheap, all obstacles gossamer.
But for love so total, I shall claim a return as absolute. I will have
no rival: whether more or less favoured will be of little moment. I
will be neither first nor second--I will be alone. The heart which I
shall possess I will possess entirely, or entirely renounce.'

Scythrop did not dare to mention the name of Marionetta; he trembled
lest some unlucky accident should reveal it to Stella, though he
scarcely knew what result to wish or anticipate, and lived in the
double fever of a perpetual dilemma. He could not dissemble to himself
that he was in love, at the same time, with two damsels of minds and
habits as remote as the antipodes. The scale of predilection always
inclined to the fair one who happened to be present; but the absent
was never effectually outweighed, though the degrees of exaltation and
depression varied according to accidental variations in the outward
and visible signs of the inward and spiritual graces of his respective
charmers. Passing and repassing several times a day from the company
of the one to that of the other, he was like a shuttlecock between two
battledores, changing its direction as rapidly as the oscillations of
a pendulum, receiving many a hard knock on the cork of a sensitive
heart, and flying from point to point on the feathers of a
super-sublimated head. This was an awful state of things. He had
now as much mystery about him as any romantic transcendentalist or
transcendental romancer could desire. He had his esoterical and his
exoterical love. He could not endure the thought of losing either of
them, but he trembled when he imagined the possibility that some fatal
discovery might deprive him of both. The old proverb concerning two
strings to a bow gave him some gleams of comfort; but that concerning
two stools occurred to him more frequently, and covered his forehead
with a cold perspiration. With Stella, he could indulge freely in all
his romantic and philosophical visions. He could build castles in the
air, and she would pile towers and turrets on the imaginary edifices.
With Marionetta it was otherwise: she knew nothing of the world and
society beyond the sphere of her own experience. Her life was all
music and sunshine, and she wondered what any one could see to
complain of in such a pleasant state of things. She loved Scythrop,
she hardly knew why; indeed she was not always sure that she loved him
at all: she felt her fondness increase or diminish in an inverse ratio
to his. When she had manoeuvred him into a fever of passionate love,
she often felt and always assumed indifference: if she found that her
coldness was contagious, and that Scythrop either was, or pretended to
be, as indifferent as herself, she would become doubly kind, and raise
him again to that elevation from which she had previously thrown him
down. Thus, when his love was flowing, hers was ebbing: when his was
ebbing, hers was flowing. Now and then there were moments of level
tide, when reciprocal affection seemed to promise imperturbable
harmony; but Scythrop could scarcely resign his spirit to the pleasing
illusion, before the pinnace of the lover's affections was caught in
some eddy of the lady's caprice, and he was whirled away from the
shore of his hopes, without rudder or compass, into an ocean of mists
and storms. It resulted, from this system of conduct, that all that
passed between Scythrop and Marionetta, consisted in making and
unmaking love. He had no opportunity to take measure of her
understanding by conversations on general subjects, and on his
favourite designs; and, being left in this respect to the exercise of
indefinite conjecture, he took it for granted, as most lovers would do
in similar circumstances, that she had great natural talents, which
she wasted at present on trifles: but coquetry would end with
marriage, and leave room for philosophy to exert its influence on her
mind. Stella had no coquetry, no disguise: she was an enthusiast in
subjects of general interest; and her conduct to Scythrop was always
uniform, or rather showed a regular progression of partiality which
seemed fast ripening into love.

* * * * *


Scythrop, attending one day the summons to dinner, found in the
drawing-room his friend Mr Cypress the poet, whom he had known at
college, and who was a great favourite of Mr Glowry. Mr Cypress said,
he was on the point of leaving England, but could not think of doing
so without a farewell-look at Nightmare Abbey and his respected
friends, the moody Mr Glowry and the mysterious Mr Scythrop, the
sublime Mr Flosky and the pathetic Mr Listless; to all of whom, and
the morbid hospitality of the melancholy dwelling in which they were
then assembled, he assured them he should always look back with as
much affection as his lacerated spirit could feel for any thing. The
sympathetic condolence of their respective replies was cut short by
Raven's announcement of 'dinner on table.'

The conversation that took place when the wine was in circulation, and
the ladies were withdrawn, we shall report with our usual scrupulous


You are leaving England, Mr Cypress. There is a delightful melancholy
in saying farewell to an old acquaintance, when the chances are twenty
to one against ever meeting again. A smiling bumper to a sad parting,
and let us all be unhappy together.

MR CYPRESS (_filling a bumper_)

This is the only social habit that the disappointed spirit never


It is the only piece of academical learning that the finished educatee

MR FLOSKY (_filling_)

It is the only objective fact which the sceptic can realise.

SCYTHROP (_filling_)

It is the only styptic for a bleeding heart.


It is the only trouble that is very well worth taking.

MR ASTERIAS (_filling_)

It is the only key of conversational truth.

MR TOOBAD (_filling_)

It is the only antidote to the great wrath of the devil.

MR HILARY (_filling_)

It is the only symbol of perfect life. The inscription 'HIC NON
BIBITUR' will suit nothing but a tombstone.


You will see many fine old ruins, Mr Cypress; crumbling pillars, and
mossy walls--many a one-legged Venus and headless Minerva--many a
Neptune buried in sand--many a Jupiter turned topsy-turvy--many a
perforated Bacchus doing duty as a water-pipe--many reminiscences of
the ancient world, which I hope was better worth living in than the
modern; though, for myself, I care not a straw more for one than the
other, and would not go twenty miles to see any thing that either
could show.


It is something to seek, Mr Glowry. The mind is restless, and must
persist in seeking, though to find is to be disappointed. Do you feel
no aspirations towards the countries of Socrates and Cicero? No wish
to wander among the venerable remains of the greatness that has passed
for ever?


Not a grain.


It is, indeed, much the same as if a lover should dig up the buried
form of his mistress, and gaze upon relics which are any thing but
herself, to wander among a few mouldy ruins, that are only imperfect
indexes to lost volumes of glory, and meet at every step the more
melancholy ruins of human nature--a degenerate race of stupid and
shrivelled slaves, grovelling in the lowest depths of servility and


It is the fashion to go abroad. I have thought of it myself, but am
hardly equal to the exertion. To be sure, a little eccentricity and
originality are allowable in some cases; and the most eccentric and
original of all characters is an Englishman who stays at home.


I should have no pleasure in visiting countries that are past all hope
of regeneration. There is great hope of our own; and it seems to me
that an Englishman, who, either by his station in society, or by his
genius, or (as in your instance, Mr Cypress,) by both, has the power
of essentially serving his country in its arduous struggle with its
domestic enemies, yet forsakes his country, which is still so rich
in hope, to dwell in others which are only fertile in the ruins of
memory, does what none of those ancients, whose fragmentary memorials
you venerate, would have done in similar circumstances.


Sir, I have quarrelled with my wife; and a man who has quarrelled with
his wife is absolved from all duty to his country. I have written an
ode to tell the people as much, and they may take it as they list.


Do you suppose, if Brutus had quarrelled with his wife, he would have
given it as a reason to Cassius for having nothing to do with his
enterprise? Or would Cassius have been satisfied with such an excuse?


Brutus was a senator; so is our dear friend: but the cases are
different. Brutus had some hope of political good: Mr Cypress has
none. How should he, after what we have seen in France?


A Frenchman is born in harness, ready saddled, bitted, and bridled,
for any tyrant to ride. He will fawn under his rider one moment, and
throw him and kick him to death the next; but another adventurer
springs on his back, and by dint of whip and spur on he goes as
before. We may, without much vanity, hope better of ourselves.


I have no hope for myself or for others. Our life is a false nature;
it is not in the harmony of things; it is an all-blasting upas,
whose root is earth, and whose leaves are the skies which rain their
poison-dews upon mankind. We wither from our youth; we gasp with
unslaked thirst for unattainable good; lured from the first to the
last by phantoms--love, fame, ambition, avarice--all idle, and all
ill--one meteor of many names, that vanishes in the smoke of death.[8]


A most delightful speech, Mr Cypress. A most amiable and instructive
philosophy. You have only to impress its truth on the minds of
all living men, and life will then, indeed, be the desert and the
solitude; and I must do you, myself, and our mutual friends, the
justice to observe, that let society only give fair play at one and
the same time, as I flatter myself it is inclined to do, to your
system of morals, and my system of metaphysics, and Scythrop's system
of politics, and Mr Listless's system of manners, and Mr Toobad's
system of religion, and the result will be as fine a mental chaos as
even the immortal Kant himself could ever have hoped to see; in the
prospect of which I rejoice.


'Certainly, ancient, it is not a thing to rejoice at:' I am one
of those who cannot see the good that is to result from all this
mystifying and blue-devilling of society. The contrast it presents
to the cheerful and solid wisdom of antiquity is too forcible not to
strike any one who has the least knowledge of classical literature. To
represent vice and misery as the necessary accompaniments of genius,
is as mischievous as it is false, and the feeling is as unclassical as
the language in which it is usually expressed.


It is our calamity. The devil has come among us, and has begun by
taking possession of all the cleverest fellows. Yet, forsooth, this is
the enlightened age. Marry, how? Did our ancestors go peeping about
with dark lanterns, and do we walk at our ease in broad sunshine?
Where is the manifestation of our light? By what symptoms do you
recognise it? What are its signs, its tokens, its symptoms, its
symbols, its categories, its conditions? What is it, and why? How,
where, when is it to be seen, felt, and understood? What do we see by
it which our ancestors saw not, and which at the same time is worth
seeing? We see a hundred men hanged, where they saw one. We see five
hundred transported, where they saw one. We see five thousand in the
workhouse, where they saw one. We see scores of Bible Societies, where
they saw none. We see paper, where they saw gold. We see men in stays,
where they saw men in armour. We see painted faces, where they saw
healthy ones. We see children perishing in manufactories, where they
saw them flourishing in the fields. We see prisons, where they saw
castles. We see masters, where they saw representatives. In short,
they saw true men, where we see false knaves. They saw Milton, and we
see Mr Sackbut.


The false knave, sir, is my honest friend; therefore, I beseech you,
let him be countenanced. God forbid but a knave should have some
countenance at his friend's request.


'Good men and true' was their common term, like the chalos chagathos
of the Athenians. It is so long since men have been either good or
true, that it is to be questioned which is most obsolete, the fact or
the phraseology.


There is no worth nor beauty but in the mind's idea. Love sows the
wind and reaps the whirlwind.[9] Confusion, thrice confounded, is the
portion of him who rests even for an instant on that most brittle of
reeds--the affection of a human being. The sum of our social destiny
is to inflict or to endure.[10]


Rather to bear and forbear, Mr Cypress--a maxim which you perhaps
despise. Ideal beauty is not the mind's creation: it is real beauty,
refined and purified in the mind's alembic, from the alloy which
always more or less accompanies it in our mixed and imperfect nature.
But still the gold exists in a very ample degree. To expect too
much is a disease in the expectant, for which human nature is not
responsible; and, in the common name of humanity, I protest against
these false and mischievous ravings. To rail against humanity for not
being abstract perfection, and against human love for not realising
all the splendid visions of the poets of chivalry, is to rail at the
summer for not being all sunshine, and at the rose for not being
always in bloom.


Human love! Love is not an inhabitant of the earth. We worship him as
the Athenians did their unknown God: but broken hearts are the martyrs
of his faith, and the eye shall never see the form which phantasy
paints, and which passion pursues through paths of delusive beauty,
among flowers whose odours are agonies, and trees whose gums are


You talk like a Rosicrucian, who will love nothing but a sylph, who
does not believe in the existence of a sylph, and who yet quarrels
with the whole universe for not containing a sylph.


The mind is diseased of its own beauty, and fevers into false
creation. The forms which the sculptor's soul has seized exist only in


Permit me to discept. They are the mediums of common forms combined
and arranged into a common standard. The ideal beauty of the Helen of
Zeuxis was the combined medium of the real beauty of the virgins of


But to make ideal beauty the shadow in the water, and, like the dog in
the fable, to throw away the substance in catching at the shadow, is
scarcely the characteristic of wisdom, whatever it may be of genius.
To reconcile man as he is to the world as it is, to preserve and
improve all that is good, and destroy or alleviate all that is evil,
in physical and moral nature--have been the hope and aim of the
greatest teachers and ornaments of our species. I will say, too,
that the highest wisdom and the highest genius have been invariably
accompanied with cheerfulness. We have sufficient proofs on record
that Shakspeare and Socrates were the most festive of companions. But
now the little wisdom and genius we have seem to be entering into a
conspiracy against cheerfulness.


How can we be cheerful with the devil among us!


How can we be cheerful when our nerves are shattered?


How can we be cheerful when we are surrounded by a _reading public_,
that is growing too wise for its betters?


How can we be cheerful when our great general designs are crossed
every moment by our little particular passions?


How can we be cheerful in the midst of disappointment and despair?


Let us all be unhappy together.


Let us sing a catch.


No: a nice tragical ballad. The Norfolk Tragedy to the tune of the
Hundredth Psalm.


I say a catch.


I say no. A song from Mr Cypress.


A song from Mr Cypress.

MR CYPRESS _sung_--

There is a fever of the spirit,
The brand of Cain's unresting doom,
Which in the lone dark souls that bear it
Glows like the lamp in Tullia's tomb:
Unlike that lamp, its subtle fire
Burns, blasts, consumes its cell, the heart,
Till, one by one, hope, joy, desire,
Like dreams of shadowy smoke depart.

When hope, love, life itself, are only
Dust--spectral memories--dead and cold--
The unfed fire burns bright and lonely,
Like that undying lamp of old:
And by that drear illumination,
Till time its clay-built home has rent,
Thought broods on feeling's desolation--
The soul is its own monument.


Admirable. Let us all be unhappy together.


Now, I say again, a catch.


I am for you.


'Seamen three.'


Agreed. I'll be Harry Gill, with the voice of three. Begin


Seamen three! I What men be ye?
Gotham's three wise men we be.
Whither in your bowl so free?
To rake the moon from out the sea.
The bowl goes trim. The moon doth shine.
And our ballast is old wine;
And your ballast is old wine.

Who art thou, so fast adrift?
I am he they call Old Care.
Here on board we will thee lift.
No: I may not enter there.
Wherefore so? 'Tis Jove's decree,
In a bowl Care may not be;
In a bowl Care may not be.

Pear ye not the waves that roll?
No: in charmed bowl we swim.
What the charm that floats the bowl?
Water may not pass the brim.
The bowl goes trim. The moon doth shine.
And our ballast is old wine;
And your ballast is old wine.

This catch was so well executed by the spirit and science of Mr
Hilary, and the deep tri-une voice of the reverend gentleman, that the
whole party, in spite of themselves, caught the contagion, and joined
in chorus at the conclusion, each raising a bumper to his lips:

The bowl goes trim: the moon doth shine:
And our ballast is old wine.

Mr Cypress, having his ballast on board, stepped, the same evening,
into his bowl, or travelling chariot, and departed to rake seas and
rivers, lakes and canals, for the moon of ideal beauty.

* * * * *


It was the custom of the Honourable Mr Listless, on adjourning from
the bottle to the ladies, to retire for a few moments to make a second
toilette, that he might present himself in becoming taste. Fatout,
attending as usual, appeared with a countenance of great dismay, and
informed his master that he had just ascertained that the abbey was
haunted. Mrs Hilary's _gentlewoman_, for whom Fatout had lately
conceived a _tendresse_, had been, as she expressed it, 'fritted out
of her seventeen senses' the preceding night, as she was retiring to
her bedchamber, by a ghastly figure which she had met stalking along
one of the galleries, wrapped in a white shroud, with a bloody turban
on its head. She had fainted away with fear; and, when she
recovered, she found herself in the dark, and the figure was gone.
'_Sacre--cochon--bleu_!' exclaimed Fatout, giving very deliberate
emphasis to every portion of his terrible oath--'I vould not meet de
_revenant_, de ghost--_non_--not for all de _bowl-de-ponch_ in de

'Fatout,' said the Honourable Mr Listless, 'did I ever see a ghost?'

'_Jamais_, monsieur, never.'

'Then I hope I never shall, for, in the present shattered state of my
nerves, I am afraid it would be too much for me. There--loosen the
lace of my stays a little, for really this plebeian practice of
eating--Not too loose--consider my shape. That will do. And I desire
that you bring me no more stories of ghosts; for, though I do not
believe in such things, yet, when one is awake in the night, one is
apt, if one thinks of them, to have fancies that give one a kind of a
chill, particularly if one opens one's eyes suddenly on one's dressing
gown, hanging in the moonlight, between the bed and the window.'

The Honourable Mr Listless, though he had prohibited Fatout from
bringing him any more stories of ghosts, could not help thinking of
that which Fatout had already brought; and, as it was uppermost in his
mind, when he descended to the tea and coffee cups, and the rest of
the company in the library, he almost involuntarily asked Mr Flosky,
whom he looked up to as a most oraculous personage, whether any story
of any ghost that had ever appeared to any one, was entitled to any
degree of belief?


By far the greater number, to a very great degree.


Really, that is very alarming!


_Sunt geminoe somni portoe_. There are two gates through which ghosts
find their way to the upper air: fraud and self-delusion. In the
latter case, a ghost is a _deceptio visûs_, an ocular spectrum, an
idea with the force of a sensation. I have seen many ghosts myself. I
dare say there are few in this company who have not seen a ghost.


I am happy to say, I never have, for one.


We have such high authority for ghosts, that it is rank scepticism to
disbelieve them. Job saw a ghost, which came for the express purpose
of asking a question, and did not wait for an answer.


Because Job was too frightened to give one.


Spectres appeared to the Egyptians during the darkness with which
Moses covered Egypt. The witch of Endor raised the ghost of Samuel.
Moses and Elias appeared on Mount Tabor. An evil spirit was sent into
the army of Sennacherib, and exterminated it in a single night.


Saying, The devil is come among you, having great wrath.


Saint Macarius interrogated a skull, which was found in the desert,
and made it relate, in presence of several witnesses, what was going
forward in hell. Saint Martin of Tours, being jealous of a pretended
martyr, who was the rival saint of his neighbourhood, called up his
ghost, and made him confess that he was damned. Saint Germain, being
on his travels, turned out of an inn a large party of ghosts, who had
every night taken possession of the _table d'hôte_, and consumed a
copious supper.


Jolly ghosts, and no doubt all friars. A similar party took possession
of the cellar of M. Swebach, the painter, in Paris, drank his wine,
and threw the empty bottles at his head.


An atrocious act.


Pausanias relates, that the neighing of horses and the tumult of
combatants were heard every night on the field of Marathon: that those
who went purposely to hear these sounds suffered severely for their
curiosity; but those who heard them by accident passed with impunity.


I once saw a ghost myself, in my study, which is the last place where
any one but a ghost would look for me. I had not been into it for
three months, and was going to consult Tillotson, when, on opening the
door, I saw a venerable figure in a flannel dressing gown, sitting in
my arm-chair, and reading my Jeremy Taylor. It vanished in a moment,
and so did I; and what it was or what it wanted I have never been able
to ascertain.


It was an idea with the force of a sensation. It is seldom that ghosts
appeal to two senses at once; but, when I was in Devonshire, the
following story was well attested to me. A young woman, whose lover
was at sea, returning one evening over some solitary fields, saw
her lover sitting on a stile over which she was to pass. Her first
emotions were surprise and joy, but there was a paleness and
seriousness in his face that made them give place to alarm. She
advanced towards him, and he said to her, in a solemn voice, 'The eye
that hath seen me shall see me no more. Thine eye is upon me, but I am
not.' And with these words he vanished; and on that very day and hour,
as it afterwards appeared, he had perished by shipwreck.

The whole party now drew round in a circle, and each related some
ghostly anecdote, heedless of the flight of time, till, in a pause of
the conversation, they heard the hollow tongue of midnight sounding


All these anecdotes admit of solution on psychological principles.
It is more easy for a soldier, a philosopher, or even a saint, to be
frightened at his own shadow, than for a dead man to come out of his
grave. Medical writers cite a thousand singular examples of the force
of imagination. Persons of feeble, nervous, melancholy temperament,
exhausted by fever, by labour, or by spare diet, will readily conjure
up, in the magic ring of their own phantasy, spectres, gorgons,
chimaeras, and all the objects of their hatred and their love. We
are most of us like Don Quixote, to whom a windmill was a giant, and
Dulcinea a magnificent princess: all more or less the dupes of our own
imagination, though we do not all go so far as to see ghosts, or to
fancy ourselves pipkins and teapots.


I can safely say I have seen too many ghosts myself to believe in
their external existence. I have seen all kinds of ghosts: black
spirits and white, red spirits and grey. Some in the shapes of
venerable old men, who have met me in my rambles at noon; some
of beautiful young women, who have peeped through my curtains at


And have proved, I doubt not, 'palpable to feeling as to sight.'


By no means, sir. You reflect upon my purity. Myself and my friends,
particularly my friend Mr Sackbut, are famous for our purity. No, sir,
genuine untangible ghosts. I live in a world of ghosts. I see a ghost
at this moment.

Mr Flosky fixed his eyes on a door at the farther end of the library.
The company looked in the same direction. The door silently opened,
and a ghastly figure, shrouded in white drapery, with the semblance
of a bloody turban on its head, entered and stalked slowly up the
apartment. Mr Flosky, familiar as he was with ghosts, was not prepared
for this apparition, and made the best of his way out at the opposite
door. Mrs Hilary and Marionetta followed, screaming. The Honourable Mr
Listless, by two turns of his body, rolled first off the sofa and
then under it. The Reverend Mr Larynx leaped up and fled with so much
precipitation, that he overturned the table on the foot of Mr Glowry.
Mr Glowry roared with pain hi the ear of Mr Toobad. Mr Toobad's alarm
so bewildered his senses, that, missing the door, he threw up one of
the windows, jumped out in his panic, and plunged over head and ears
in the moat. Mr Asterias and his son, who were on the watch for their
mermaid, were attracted by the splashing, threw a net over him, and
dragged him to land.

Scythrop and Mr Hilary meanwhile had hastened to his assistance, and,
on arriving at the edge of the moat, followed by several servants with
ropes and torches, found Mr Asterias and Aquarius busy in endeavouring
to extricate Mr Toobad from the net, who was entangled in the meshes,
and floundering with rage. Scythrop was lost in amazement; but Mr
Hilary saw, at one view, all the circumstances of the adventure, and
burst into an immoderate fit of laughter; on recovering from which, he
said to Mr Asterias, 'You have caught an odd fish, indeed.' Mr Toobad
was highly exasperated at this unseasonable pleasantry; but Mr Hilary
softened his anger, by producing a knife, and cutting the Gordian knot
of his reticular envelopment. 'You see,' said Mr Toobad, 'you see,
gentlemen, in my unfortunate person proof upon proof of the present
dominion of the devil in the affairs of this world; and I have no
doubt but that the apparition of this night was Apollyon himself in
disguise, sent for the express purpose of terrifying me into this
complication of misadventures. The devil is come among you, having
great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.'

* * * * *


Mr Glowry was much surprised, on occasionally visiting Scythrop's
tower, to find the door always locked, and to be kept sometimes
waiting many minutes for admission: during which he invariably heard a
heavy rolling sound like that of a ponderous mangle, or of a waggon on
a weighing-bridge, or of theatrical thunder.

He took little notice of this for some time; at length his curiosity
was excited, and, one day, instead of knocking at the door, as usual,
the instant he reached it, he applied his ear to the key-hole, and
like Bottom, in the Midsummer Night's Dream, 'spied a voice,' which he
guessed to be of the feminine gender, and knew to be not Scythrop's,
whose deeper tones he distinguished at intervals. Having attempted in
vain to catch a syllable of the discourse, he knocked violently at
the door, and roared for immediate admission. The voices ceased, the
accustomed rolling sound was heard, the door opened, and Scythrop
was discovered alone. Mr Glowry looked round to every corner of the
apartment, and then said, 'Where is the lady?'

'The lady, sir?' said Scythrop.

'Yes, sir, the lady.'

'Sir, I do not understand you.'

'You don't, sir?'

'No, indeed, sir. There is no lady here.'

'But, sir, this is not the only apartment in the tower, and I make no
doubt there is a lady up stairs.'

'You are welcome to search, sir.'

'Yes, and while I am searching, she will slip out from some lurking
place, and make her escape.'

'You may lock this door, sir, and take the key with you.'

'But there is the terrace door: she has escaped by the terrace.'

'The terrace, sir, has no other outlet, and the walls are too high for
a lady to jump down.'

'Well, sir, give me the key.'

Mr Glowry took the key, searched every nook of the tower, and

'You are a fox, Scythrop; you are an exceedingly cunning fox, with
that demure visage of yours. What was that lumbering sound I heard
before you opened the door?'

'Sound, sir?'

'Yes, sir, sound.'

'My dear sir, I am not aware of any sound, except my great table,
which I moved on rising to let you in.'

'The table!--let me see that. No, sir; not a tenth part heavy enough,
not a tenth part.'

'But, sir, you do not consider the laws of acoustics: a whisper
becomes a peal of thunder in the focus of reverberation. Allow me to
explain this: sounds striking on concave surfaces are reflected from
them, and, after reflection, converge to points which are the foci of
these surfaces. It follows, therefore, that the ear may be so placed
in one, as that it shall hear a sound better than when situated nearer
to the point of the first impulse: again, in the case of two concave
surfaces placed opposite to each other--'

'Nonsense, sir. Don't tell me of foci. Pray, sir, will concave
surfaces produce two voices when nobody speaks? I heard two voices,
and one was feminine; feminine, sir: what say you to that?'

'Oh, sir, I perceive your mistake: I am writing a tragedy, and was
acting over a scene to myself. To convince you, I will give you a
specimen; but you must first understand the plot. It is a tragedy on
the German model. The Great Mogul is in exile, and has taken lodgings
at Kensington, with his only daughter, the Princess Rantrorina,
who takes in needlework, and keeps a day school. _The princess is
discovered hemming a set of shirts for the parson of the parish: they
are to be marked with a large R. Enter to her the Great Mogul. A
pause, during which they look at each other expressively. The
princess changes colour several times. The Mogul takes snuff in great
agitation. Several grains are heard to fall on the stage. His heart is
seen to beat through his upper benjamin._--THE MOGUL _(with a mournful
look at his left shoe_). 'My shoe-string is broken.'--THE PRINCESS
(_after an interval of melancholy reflection_). 'I know it.' THE
MOGUL. 'My second shoe-string! The first broke when I lost my empire:
the second has broken to-day. When will my poor heart break?'--THE
PRINCESS. 'Shoe-strings, hearts, and empires! Mysterious sympathy!'

'Nonsense, sir,' interrupted Mr Glowry. 'That is not at all like the
voice I heard.'

'But, sir,' said Scythrop, 'a key-hole may be so constructed as to act
like an acoustic tube, and an acoustic tube, sir, will modify sound in
a very remarkable manner. Consider the construction of the ear, and
the nature and causes of sound. The external part of the ear is a
cartilaginous funnel.'

'It wo'n't do, Scythrop. There is a girl concealed in this tower, and
find her I will. There are such things as sliding panels and secret
closets.'--He sounded round the room with his cane, but detected
no hollowness.--'I have heard, sir,' he continued, 'that during my
absence, two years ago, you had a dumb carpenter closeted with you
day after day. I did not dream that you were laying contrivances for
carrying on secret intrigues. Young men will have their way: I had my
way when I was a young man: but, sir, when your cousin Marionetta--'

Scythrop now saw that the affair was growing serious. To have clapped
his hand upon his father's mouth, to have entreated him to be silent,
would, in the first place, not have made him so; and, in the second,
would have shown a dread of being overheard by somebody. His only
resource, therefore, was to try to drown Mr Glowry's voice; and,
having no other subject, he continued his description of the ear,
raising his voice continually as Mr Glowry raised his.

'When your cousin Marionetta,' said Mr Glowry, 'whom you profess to
love--whom you profess to love, sir--'

'The internal canal of the ear,' said Scythrop, 'is partly bony and
partly cartilaginous. This internal canal is--'

'Is actually in the house, sir; and, when you are so shortly to be--as
I expect--'

'Closed at the further end by the _membrana tympani_--'

'Joined together in holy matrimony--'

'Under which is carried a branch of the fifth pair of nerves--'

'I say, sir, when you are so shortly to be married to your cousin

'The _cavitas tympani_--'

A loud noise was heard behind the book-case, which, to the
astonishment of Mr Glowry, opened in the middle, and the massy
compartments, with all their weight of books, receding from each other
in the manner of a theatrical scene, with a heavy rolling sound (which
Mr Glowry immediately recognised to be the same which had excited his
curiosity,) disclosed an interior apartment, in the entrance of
which stood the beautiful Stella, who, stepping forward, exclaimed,
'Married! Is he going to be married? The profligate!'

'Really, madam,' said Mr Glowry, 'I do not know what he is going to
do, or what I am going to do, or what any one is going to do; for all
this is incomprehensible.'

'I can explain it all,' said Scythrop, 'in a most satisfactory manner,
if you will but have the goodness to leave us alone.'

'Pray, sir, to which act of the tragedy of the Great Mogul does this
incident belong?'

'I entreat you, my dear sir, leave us alone.'

Stella threw herself into a chair, and burst into a tempest of tears.
Scythrop sat down by her, and took her hand. She snatched her hand
away, and turned her back upon him. He rose, sat down on the other
side, and took her other hand. She snatched it away, and turned from
him again. Scythrop continued entreating Mr Glowry to leave them
alone; but the old gentleman was obstinate, and would not go.

'I suppose, after all,' said Mr Glowry maliciously, 'it is only a
phænomenon in acoustics, and this young lady is a reflection of sound
from concave surfaces.'

Some one tapped at the door: Mr Glowry opened it, and Mr Hilary
entered. He had been seeking Mr Glowry, and had traced him to
Scythrop's tower. He stood a few moments in silent surprise, and then
addressed himself to Mr Glowry for an explanation.

'The explanation,' said Mr Glowry, 'is very satisfactory. The Great
Mogul has taken lodgings at Kensington, and the external part of the
ear is a cartilaginous funnel.'

'Mr Glowry, that is no explanation.'

'Mr Hilary, it is all I know about the matter.'

'Sir, this pleasantry is very unseasonable. I perceive that my niece
is sported with in a most unjustifiable manner, and I shall see if she
will be more successful in obtaining an intelligible answer.' And he
departed in search of Marionetta.

Scythrop was now in a hopeless predicament. Mr Hilary made a hue and
cry in the abbey, and summoned his wife and Marionetta to Scythrop's
apartment. The ladies, not knowing what was the matter, hastened in
great consternation. Mr Toobad saw them sweeping along the corridor,
and judging from their manner that the devil had manifested his wrath
in some new shape, followed from pure curiosity.

Scythrop meanwhile vainly endeavoured to get rid of Mr Glowry and
to pacify Stella. The latter attempted to escape from the tower,
declaring she would leave the abbey immediately, and he should never
see her or hear of her more. Scythrop held her hand and detained her
by force, till Mr Hilary reappeared with Mrs Hilary and Marionetta.
Marionetta, seeing Scythrop grasping the hand of a strange beauty,
fainted away in the arms of her aunt. Scythrop flew to her assistance;
and Stella with redoubled anger sprang towards the door, but was
intercepted in her intended flight by being caught in the arms of Mr
Toobad, who exclaimed--'Celinda!'

'Papa!' said the young lady disconsolately.

'The devil is come among you,' said Mr Toobad, 'how came my daughter

'Your daughter!' exclaimed Mr Glowry.

'Your daughter!' exclaimed Scythrop, and Mr and Mrs Hilary.

'Yes,' said Mr Toobad, 'my daughter Celinda.'

Marionetta opened her eyes and fixed them on Celinda; Celinda in
return fixed hers on Marionetta. They were at remote points of the
apartment. Scythrop was equidistant from both of them, central and
motionless, like Mahomet's coffin.

'Mr Glowry,' said Mr Toobad, 'can you tell by what means my daughter
came here?'

'I know no more,' said Mr Glowry, 'than the Great Mogul.'

'Mr Scythrop,' said Mr Toobad, 'how came my daughter here?'

'I did not know, sir, that the lady was your daughter.'

'But how came she here?'

'By spontaneous locomotion,' said Scythrop, sullenly.

'Celinda,' said Mr Toobad, 'what does all this mean?'

'I really do not know, sir.'

'This is most unaccountable. When I told you in London that I had
chosen a husband for you, you thought proper to run away from him; and
now, to all appearance, you have run away to him.'

'How, sir! was that your choice?'

'Precisely; and if he is yours too we shall be both of a mind, for the
first time in our lives.'

'He is not my choice, sir. This lady has a prior claim: I renounce

'And I renounce him,' said Marionetta.

Scythrop knew not what to do. He could not attempt to conciliate the
one without irreparably offending the other; and he was so fond of
both, that the idea of depriving himself for ever of the society
of either was intolerable to him: he therefore retreated into his
stronghold, mystery; maintained an impenetrable silence; and contented
himself with stealing occasionally a deprecating glance at each of the
objects of his idolatry. Mr Toobad and Mr Hilary, in the mean time,
were each insisting on an explanation from Mr Glowry, who they thought
had been playing a double game on this occasion. Mr Glowry was
vainly endeavouring to persuade them of his innocence in the whole
transaction. Mrs Hilary was endeavouring to mediate between her
husband and brother. The Honourable Mr Listless, the Reverend Mr
Larynx, Mr Flosky, Mr Asterias, and Aquarius, were attracted by the
tumult to the scene of action, and were appealed to severally and
conjointly by the respective disputants. Multitudinous questions, and
answers _en masse_, composed a _charivari_, to which the genius of
Rossini alone could have given a suitable accompaniment, and which
was only terminated by Mrs Hilary and Mr Toobad retreating with the
captive damsels. The whole party followed, with the exception of
Scythrop, who threw himself into his arm-chair, crossed his left
foot over his right knee, placed the hollow of his left hand on the
interior ancle of his left leg, rested his right elbow on the elbow
of the chair, placed the ball of his right thumb against his right
temple, curved the forefinger along the upper part of his forehead,
rested the point of the middle finger on the bridge of his nose, and
the points of the two others on the lower part of the palm, fixed his
eyes intently on the veins in the back of his left hand, and sat in
this position like the immoveable Theseus, who, as is well known to
many who have not been at college, and to some few who have, _sedet,
oeternumque sedebit_.[13] We hope the admirers of the _minutiæ_ in
poetry and romance will appreciate this accurate description of a
pensive attitude.

* * * * *


Scythrop was still in this position when Raven entered to announce
that dinner was on table.

'I cannot come,' said Scythrop.

Raven sighed. 'Something is the matter,' said Raven: 'but man is born
to trouble.'

'Leave me,' said Scythrop: 'go, and croak elsewhere.'

'Thus it is,' said Raven. 'Five-and-twenty years have I lived in
Nightmare Abbey, and now all the reward of my affection is--Go, and
croak elsewhere. I have danced you on my knee, and fed you with

'Good Raven,' said Scythrop, 'I entreat you to leave me.'

'Shall I bring your dinner here?' said Raven. 'A boiled fowl and
a glass of Madeira are prescribed by the faculty in cases of low
spirits. But you had better join the party: it is very much reduced

'Reduced! how?'

'The Honourable Mr Listless is gone. He declared that, what with
family quarrels in the morning, and ghosts at night, he could get
neither sleep nor peace; and that the agitation was too much for his
nerves: though Mr Glowry assured him that the ghost was only poor Crow
walking in his sleep, and that the shroud and bloody turban were a
sheet and a red nightcap.'

'Well, sir?'

'The Reverend Mr Larynx has been called off on duty, to marry or bury
(I don't know which) some unfortunate person or persons, at Claydyke:
but man is born to trouble!'

'Is that all?'

'No. Mr Toobad is gone too, and a strange lady with him.'


'Gone. And Mr and Mrs Hilary, and Miss O'Carroll: they are all gone.
There is nobody left but Mr Asterias and his son, and they are going

'Then I have lost them both.'

'Won't you come to dinner?'


'Shall I bring your dinner here?'


'What will you have?'

'A pint of port and a pistol.'[14]

'A pistol!'

'And a pint of port. I will make my exit like Werter. Go. Stay. Did
Miss O'Carroll say any thing?'


'Did Miss Toobad say any thing?'

'The strange lady? No.'

'Did either of them cry?'


'What did they do?'


'What did Mr Toobad say?'

'He said, fifty times over, the devil was come among us.'

'And they are gone?'

'Yes; and the dinner is getting cold. There is a time for every
thing under the sun. You may as well dine first, and be miserable

'True, Raven. There is something in that. I will take your advice:
therefore, bring me----'

'The port and the pistol?'

'No; the boiled fowl and Madeira.'

Scythrop had dined, and was sipping his Madeira alone, immersed in
melancholy musing, when Mr Glowry entered, followed by Raven, who,
having placed an additional glass and set a chair for Mr Glowry,
withdrew. Mr Glowry sat down opposite Scythrop. After a pause, during
which each filled and drank in silence, Mr Glowry said, 'So, sir,
you have played your cards well. I proposed Miss Toobad to you: you
refused her. Mr Toobad proposed you to her: she refused you. You fell
in love with Marionetta, and were going to poison yourself, because,
from pure fatherly regard to your temporal interests, I withheld my
consent. When, at length, I offered you my consent, you told me I was
too precipitate. And, after all, I find you and Miss Toobad living
together in the same tower, and behaving in every respect like two
plighted lovers. Now, sir, if there be any rational solution of all
this absurdity, I shall be very much obliged to you for a small
glimmering of information.'

'The solution, sir, is of little moment; but I will leave it in
writing for your satisfaction. The crisis of my fate is come: the
world is a stage, and my direction is _exit._'

'Do not talk so, sir;--do not talk so, Scythrop. What would you have?'

'I would have my love.'

'And pray, sir, who is your love?'


'Both! That may do very well in a German tragedy; and the Great Mogul
might have found it very feasible in his lodgings at Kensington; but
it will not do in Lincolnshire. Will you have Miss Toobad?'


'And renounce Marionetta?'


'But you must renounce one.'

'I cannot.'

'And you cannot have both. What is to be done?'

'I must shoot myself.'

'Don't talk so, Scythrop. Be rational, my dear Scythrop. Consider, and
make a cool, calm choice, and I will exert myself in your behalf.'

'Why should I choose, sir? Both have renounced _me_: I have no hope of

'Tell me which you will have, and I will plead your cause

'Well, sir,--I will have--no, sir, I cannot renounce either. I
cannot choose either. I am doomed to be the victim of eternal
disappointments; and I have no resource but a pistol.'

'Scythrop--Scythrop;--if one of them should come to you--what then?'

'That, sir, might alter the case: but that cannot be.'

'It can be, Scythrop; it will be: I promise you it will be. Have but a
little patience--but a week's patience; and it shall be.'

'A week, sir, is an age: but, to oblige you, as a last act of
filial duty, I will live another week. It is now Thursday evening,
twenty-five minutes past seven. At this hour and minute, on Thursday
next, love and fate shall smile on me, or I will drink my last pint of
port in this world.'

Mr Glowry ordered his travelling chariot, and departed from the abbey.

* * * * *


The day after Mr Glowry's departure was one of incessant rain, and
Scythrop repented of the promise he had given. The next day was one of
bright sunshine: he sat on the terrace, read a tragedy of Sophocles,
and was not sorry, when Raven announced dinner, to find himself alive.
On the third evening, the wind blew, and the rain beat, and the owl
flapped against his windows; and he put a new flint in his pistol. On
the fourth day, the sun shone again; and he locked the pistol up in a
drawer, where he left it undisturbed, till the morning of the eventful
Thursday, when he ascended the turret with a telescope, and spied
anxiously along the road that crossed the fens from Claydyke: but
nothing appeared on it. He watched in this manner from ten A.M. till
Raven summoned him to dinner at five; when he stationed Crow at the
telescope, and descended to his own funeral-feast. He left open the
communications between the tower and turret, and called aloud at
intervals to Crow,--'Crow, Crow, is any thing coming?' Crow answered,
'The wind blows, and the windmills turn, but I see nothing coming;'
and, at every answer, Scythrop found the necessity of raising his
spirits with a bumper. After dinner, he gave Raven his watch to set by
the abbey clock. Raven brought it, Scythrop placed it on the table,
and Raven departed. Scythrop called again to Crow; and Crow, who had
fallen asleep, answered mechanically, 'I see nothing coming.' Scythrop
laid his pistol between his watch and his bottle. The hour-hand passed
the VII.--the minute-hand moved on;--it was within three minutes of
the appointed time. Scythrop called again to Crow: Crow answered as
before. Scythrop rang the bell: Raven appeared.

'Raven,' said Scythrop, 'the clock is too fast.'

'No, indeed,' said Raven, who knew nothing of Scythrop's intentions;
'if any thing, it is too slow.'

'Villain!' said Scythrop, pointing the pistol at him; 'it is too

'Yes--yes--too fast, I meant,' said Raven, in manifest fear.

'How much too fast?' said Scythrop.

'As much as you please,' said Raven.

'How much, I say?' said Scythrop, pointing the pistol again.

'An hour, a full hour, sir,' said the terrified butler.

'Put back my watch,' said Scythrop.

Raven, with trembling hand, was putting back the watch, when the
rattle of wheels was heard in the court; and Scythrop, springing down
the stairs by three steps together, was at the door in sufficient time
to have handed either of the young ladies from the carriage, if she
had happened to be in it; but Mr Glowry was alone.

'I rejoice to see you,' said Mr Glowry; 'I was fearful of being too
late, for I waited till the last moment in the hope of accomplishing
my promise; but all my endeavours have been vain, as these letters
will show.'

Scythrop impatiently broke the seals. The contents were these:

Almost a stranger in England, I fled from parental tyranny,
and the dread of an arbitrary marriage, to the protection of a
stranger and a philosopher, whom I expected to find something
better than, or at least something different from, the rest of his
worthless species. Could I, after what has occurred, have
expected nothing more from you than the common-place impertinence
of sending your father to treat with me, and with mine, for me? I
should be a little moved in your favour, if I could believe you
capable of carrying into effect the resolutions which your father
says you have taken, in the event of my proving inflexible;
though I doubt not you will execute them, as far as relates to
the pint of wine, twice over, at least. I wish you much happiness
with Miss O'Carroll. I shall always cherish a grateful
recollection of Nightmare Abbey, for having been the means of
introducing me to a true transcendentalist; and, though he is a
little older than myself, which is all one in Germany, I shall
very soon have the pleasure of subscribing myself


I hope, my dear cousin, that you will not be angry with me,
but that you will always think of me as a sincere friend, who
will always feel interested in your welfare; I am sure you love
Miss Toobad much better than me, and I wish you much happiness
with her. Mr Listless assures me that people do not kill
themselves for love now-a-days, though it is still the fashion to
talk about it. I shall, in a very short time, change my name and
situation, and shall always be happy to see you in Berkeley
Square, when, to the unalterable designation of your affectionate
cousin, I shall subjoin the signature of


Scythrop tore both the letters to atoms, and railed in good set terms
against the fickleness of women.

'Calm yourself, my dear Scythrop,' said Mr Glowry; 'there are yet
maidens in England.'

'Very true, sir,' said Scythrop.

'And the next time,' said Mr Glowry, 'have but one string to your

'Very good advice, sir,' said Scythrop.

'And, besides,' said Mr Glowry, 'the fatal time is past, for it is now
almost eight.'

'Then that villain, Raven,' said Scythrop, 'deceived me when he said
that the clock was too fast; but, as you observe very justly, the time
has gone by, and I have just reflected that these repeated crosses in
love qualify me to take a very advanced degree in misanthropy; and
there is, therefore, good hope that I may make a figure in the world.
But I shall ring for the rascal Raven, and admonish him.'

Raven appeared. Scythrop looked at him very fiercely two or three
minutes; and Raven, still remembering the pistol, stood quaking in
mute apprehension, till Scythrop, pointing significantly towards the
dining-room, said, 'Bring some Madeira.'





[1] _Mr Flosky_: A corruption of Filosky, quasi [Greek: philoschios],
a lover, or sectator, of shadows.


[2] _the passion for reforming the world_: See Forsyth's _Principles
of Moral Science_.


[3] _decorum, and dignity, &c. &c. &c._: We are not masters of the
whole vocabulary. See any novel by any literary lady.

[4] _his Ahrimanic philosophy_: Ahrimanes, in the Persian mythology,
is the evil power, the prince of the kingdom of darkness. He is the
rival of Oromazes, the prince of the kingdom of light. These two
powers have divided and equal dominion. Sometimes one of the two has a
temporary supremacy.--According to Mr Toobad, the present period would
be the reign of Ahrimanes. Lord Byron seems to be of the same opinion,
by the use he has made of Ahrimanes in 'Manfred'; where the great
Alastor, or [Greek: Kachos Daimôn], of Persia, is hailed king of
the world by the Nemesis of Greece, in concert with three of
the Scandinavian Valkyrae, under the name of the Destinies; the
astrological spirits of the alchemists of the middle ages; an
elemental witch, transplanted from Denmark to the Alps; and a chorus
of Dr Faustus's devils, who come in the last act for a soul. It is
difficult to conceive where this heterogeneous mythological company
could have originally met, except at a _table d'hôte_, like the six
kings in 'Candide'.


[5] _pensions_: 'PENSION. Pay given to a slave of state for treason to
his country.'--JOHNSON'S _Dictionary_.


[6] _... of a beautiful day_: See Denys Montfort: _Histoire Naturelle
des Mollusques; Vues Générales_, pp. 37, 38. (P.) The second half of
this speech by Mr Asterias and the opening sentence of his previous
speech are a paraphrase from Montfort, pp. 37-9.


[7] _Mr Burke's graduated scale of the sublime_: There must be some
mistake in this, for the whole honourable band of gentlemen-pensioners
has resolved unanimously, that Mr Burke was a very sublime person,
particularly after he had prostituted his own soul, and betrayed his
country and mankind, for 1200_l_. a year: yet he does not appear to
have been a very terrible personage, and certainly went off with a
very small portion of human respect, though he contrived to excite,
in a great degree, the astonishment of all honest men. Our immaculate
laureate (who gives us to understand that, if he had not been purified
by holy matrimony into a mystical type, he would have died a virgin,)
is another sublime gentleman of the same genus: he very much
astonished some persons when he sold his birthright for a pot of sack;
but not even his _Sosia_ has a grain of respect for him, though,
doubtless, he thinks his name very terrible to the enemy, when he
flourishes his criticopoeticopolitical tomahawk, and sets up his
Indian yell for the blood of his old friends: but, at best, he is a
mere political scarecrow, a man of straw, ridiculous to all who know
of what materials he is made; and to none more so, than to those who
have stuffed him, and set him up, as the Priapus of the garden of the
golden apples of corruption.


[8] _... vanishes in the smoke of death_: _Childe Harold_, canto 4.
cxxiv. cxxvi.

[9] _... and reaps the whirlwind_: _Childe Harold_, canto 4. cxxiii.

[10] _... or to endure_: _Ibid_. canto 3. lxxi.

[11] _... whose gums are poison_: _Ibid_. canto 4. cxxi. cxxxvi.

[12] _... exist only in himself_: _Childe Harold_, canto 4. cxxii.


[13] _sedet, oeternumque sedebit_: Sits, and will sit for ever.


[14] _a pint of port and a pistol_: See _The Sorrows of Werter_,
Letter 93.

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