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The Works of Edgar Allan Poe

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[Redactor's note: This is volume 4 of the five volume "Raven Edition"
of the Works of Poe. The only figure is that of the Chess automaton
in Maelzel's Chess Player. There are several greek words.]





The Devil in the Belfry
X-ing a Paragrab
The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether
The Literary Life of Thingum Bob, Esq.
How to Write a Blackwood article
A Predicament
The Angel of the Odd
Mellonia Tauta
The Duc de l'Omlette
The Oblong Box
Loss of Breath
The Man That Was Used Up
The Business Man
The Landscape Garden
Maelzel's Chess-Player
The Power of Words
The Colloquy of Monas and Una
The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion
Shadow.--A Parable



What o'clock is it? -- _Old Saying_.

EVERYBODY knows, in a general way, that the finest place in the world
is -- or, alas, was -- the Dutch borough of Vondervotteimittiss. Yet
as it lies some distance from any of the main roads, being in a
somewhat out-of-the-way situation, there are perhaps very few of my
readers who have ever paid it a visit. For the benefit of those who
have not, therefore, it will be only proper that I should enter into
some account of it. And this is indeed the more necessary, as with
the hope of enlisting public sympathy in behalf of the inhabitants, I
design here to give a history of the calamitous events which have so
lately occurred within its limits. No one who knows me will doubt
that the duty thus self-imposed will be executed to the best of my
ability, with all that rigid impartiality, all that cautious
examination into facts, and diligent collation of authorities, which
should ever distinguish him who aspires to the title of historian.

By the united aid of medals, manuscripts, and inscriptions, I am
enabled to say, positively, that the borough of Vondervotteimittiss
has existed, from its origin, in precisely the same condition which
it at present preserves. Of the date of this origin, however, I
grieve that I can only speak with that species of indefinite
definiteness which mathematicians are, at times, forced to put up
with in certain algebraic formulae. The date, I may thus say, in
regard to the remoteness of its antiquity, cannot be less than any
assignable quantity whatsoever.

Touching the derivation of the name Vondervotteimittiss, I confess
myself, with sorrow, equally at fault. Among a multitude of opinions
upon this delicate point- some acute, some learned, some sufficiently
the reverse -- I am able to select nothing which ought to be
considered satisfactory. Perhaps the idea of Grogswigg- nearly
coincident with that of Kroutaplenttey -- is to be cautiously
preferred. -- It runs: -- Vondervotteimittis -- Vonder, lege Donder
-- Votteimittis, quasi und Bleitziz- Bleitziz obsol: -- pro Blitzen."
This derivative, to say the truth, is still countenanced by some
traces of the electric fluid evident on the summit of the steeple of
the House of the Town-Council. I do not choose, however, to commit
myself on a theme of such importance, and must refer the reader
desirous of information to the "Oratiunculae de Rebus
Praeter-Veteris," of Dundergutz. See, also, Blunderbuzzard "De
Derivationibus," pp. 27 to 5010, Folio, Gothic edit., Red and Black
character, Catch-word and No Cypher; wherein consult, also, marginal
notes in the autograph of Stuffundpuff, with the Sub-Commentaries of

Notwithstanding the obscurity which thus envelops the date of the
foundation of Vondervotteimittis, and the derivation of its name,
there can be no doubt, as I said before, that it has always existed
as we find it at this epoch. The oldest man in the borough can
remember not the slightest difference in the appearance of any
portion of it; and, indeed, the very suggestion of such a possibility
is considered an insult. The site of the village is in a perfectly
circular valley, about a quarter of a mile in circumference, and
entirely surrounded by gentle hills, over whose summit the people
have never yet ventured to pass. For this they assign the very good
reason that they do not believe there is anything at all on the other

Round the skirts of the valley (which is quite level, and paved
throughout with flat tiles), extends a continuous row of sixty little
houses. These, having their backs on the hills, must look, of course,
to the centre of the plain, which is just sixty yards from the front
door of each dwelling. Every house has a small garden before it, with
a circular path, a sun-dial, and twenty-four cabbages. The buildings
themselves are so precisely alike, that one can in no manner be
distinguished from the other. Owing to the vast antiquity, the style
of architecture is somewhat odd, but it is not for that reason the
less strikingly picturesque. They are fashioned of hard-burned little
bricks, red, with black ends, so that the walls look like a
chess-board upon a great scale. The gables are turned to the front,
and there are cornices, as big as all the rest of the house, over the
eaves and over the main doors. The windows are narrow and deep, with
very tiny panes and a great deal of sash. On the roof is a vast
quantity of tiles with long curly ears. The woodwork, throughout, is
of a dark hue and there is much carving about it, with but a trifling
variety of pattern for, time out of mind, the carvers of
Vondervotteimittiss have never been able to carve more than two
objects -- a time-piece and a cabbage. But these they do exceedingly
well, and intersperse them, with singular ingenuity, wherever they
find room for the chisel.

The dwellings are as much alike inside as out, and the furniture is
all upon one plan. The floors are of square tiles, the chairs and
tables of black-looking wood with thin crooked legs and puppy feet.
The mantelpieces are wide and high, and have not only time-pieces and
cabbages sculptured over the front, but a real time-piece, which
makes a prodigious ticking, on the top in the middle, with a
flower-pot containing a cabbage standing on each extremity by way of
outrider. Between each cabbage and the time-piece, again, is a little
China man having a large stomach with a great round hole in it,
through which is seen the dial-plate of a watch.

The fireplaces are large and deep, with fierce crooked-looking
fire-dogs. There is constantly a rousing fire, and a huge pot over
it, full of sauer-kraut and pork, to which the good woman of the
house is always busy in attending. She is a little fat old lady, with
blue eyes and a red face, and wears a huge cap like a sugar-loaf,
ornamented with purple and yellow ribbons. Her dress is of
orange-colored linsey-woolsey, made very full behind and very short
in the waist -- and indeed very short in other respects, not reaching
below the middle of her leg. This is somewhat thick, and so are her
ankles, but she has a fine pair of green stockings to cover them. Her
shoes -- of pink leather -- are fastened each with a bunch of yellow
ribbons puckered up in the shape of a cabbage. In her left hand she
has a little heavy Dutch watch; in her right she wields a ladle for
the sauerkraut and pork. By her side there stands a fat tabby cat,
with a gilt toy-repeater tied to its tail, which "the boys" have
there fastened by way of a quiz.

The boys themselves are, all three of them, in the garden attending
the pig. They are each two feet in height. They have three-cornered
cocked hats, purple waistcoats reaching down to their thighs,
buckskin knee-breeches, red stockings, heavy shoes with big silver
buckles, long surtout coats with large buttons of mother-of-pearl.
Each, too, has a pipe in his mouth, and a little dumpy watch in his
right hand. He takes a puff and a look, and then a look and a puff.
The pig- which is corpulent and lazy -- is occupied now in picking up
the stray leaves that fall from the cabbages, and now in giving a
kick behind at the gilt repeater, which the urchins have also tied to
his tail in order to make him look as handsome as the cat.

Right at the front door, in a high-backed leather-bottomed armed
chair, with crooked legs and puppy feet like the tables, is seated
the old man of the house himself. He is an exceedingly puffy little
old gentleman, with big circular eyes and a huge double chin. His
dress resembles that of the boys -- and I need say nothing farther
about it. All the difference is, that his pipe is somewhat bigger
than theirs and he can make a greater smoke. Like them, he has a
watch, but he carries his watch in his pocket. To say the truth, he
has something of more importance than a watch to attend to -- and
what that is, I shall presently explain. He sits with his right leg
upon his left knee, wears a grave countenance, and always keeps one
of his eyes, at least, resolutely bent upon a certain remarkable
object in the centre of the plain.

This object is situated in the steeple of the House of the Town
Council. The Town Council are all very little, round, oily,
intelligent men, with big saucer eyes and fat double chins, and have
their coats much longer and their shoe-buckles much bigger than the
ordinary inhabitants of Vondervotteimittiss. Since my sojourn in the
borough, they have had several special meetings, and have adopted
these three important resolutions:

"That it is wrong to alter the good old course of things:"

"That there is nothing tolerable out of Vondervotteimittiss:" and-

"That we will stick by our clocks and our cabbages."

Above the session-room of the Council is the steeple, and in the
steeple is the belfry, where exists, and has existed time out of
mind, the pride and wonder of the village -- the great clock of the
borough of Vondervotteimittiss. And this is the object to which the
eyes of the old gentlemen are turned who sit in the leather-bottomed

The great clock has seven faces -- one in each of the seven sides of
the steeple -- so that it can be readily seen from all quarters. Its
faces are large and white, and its hands heavy and black. There is a
belfry-man whose sole duty is to attend to it; but this duty is the
most perfect of sinecures -- for the clock of Vondervotteimittis was
never yet known to have anything the matter with it. Until lately,
the bare supposition of such a thing was considered heretical. From
the remotest period of antiquity to which the archives have
reference, the hours have been regularly struck by the big bell. And,
indeed the case was just the same with all the other clocks and
watches in the borough. Never was such a place for keeping the true
time. When the large clapper thought proper to say "Twelve o'clock!"
all its obedient followers opened their throats simultaneously, and
responded like a very echo. In short, the good burghers were fond of
their sauer-kraut, but then they were proud of their clocks.

All people who hold sinecure offices are held in more or less
respect, and as the belfry -- man of Vondervotteimittiss has the most
perfect of sinecures, he is the most perfectly respected of any man
in the world. He is the chief dignitary of the borough, and the very
pigs look up to him with a sentiment of reverence. His coat-tail is
very far longer -- his pipe, his shoe -- buckles, his eyes, and his
stomach, very far bigger -- than those of any other old gentleman in
the village; and as to his chin, it is not only double, but triple.

I have thus painted the happy estate of Vondervotteimittiss: alas,
that so fair a picture should ever experience a reverse!

There has been long a saying among the wisest inhabitants, that "no
good can come from over the hills"; and it really seemed that the
words had in them something of the spirit of prophecy. It wanted five
minutes of noon, on the day before yesterday, when there appeared a
very odd-looking object on the summit of the ridge of the eastward.
Such an occurrence, of course, attracted universal attention, and
every little old gentleman who sat in a leather-bottomed arm-chair
turned one of his eyes with a stare of dismay upon the phenomenon,
still keeping the other upon the clock in the steeple.

By the time that it wanted only three minutes to noon, the droll
object in question was perceived to be a very diminutive
foreign-looking young man. He descended the hills at a great rate, so
that every body had soon a good look at him. He was really the most
finicky little personage that had ever been seen in
Vondervotteimittiss. His countenance was of a dark snuff-color, and
he had a long hooked nose, pea eyes, a wide mouth, and an excellent
set of teeth, which latter he seemed anxious of displaying, as he was
grinning from ear to ear. What with mustachios and whiskers, there
was none of the rest of his face to be seen. His head was uncovered,
and his hair neatly done up in papillotes. His dress was a
tight-fitting swallow-tailed black coat (from one of whose pockets
dangled a vast length of white handkerchief), black kerseymere
knee-breeches, black stockings, and stumpy-looking pumps, with huge
bunches of black satin ribbon for bows. Under one arm he carried a
huge chapeau-de-bras, and under the other a fiddle nearly five times
as big as himself. In his left hand was a gold snuff-box, from which,
as he capered down the hill, cutting all manner of fantastic steps,
he took snuff incessantly with an air of the greatest possible
self-satisfaction. God bless me! -- here was a sight for the honest
burghers of Vondervotteimittiss!

To speak plainly, the fellow had, in spite of his grinning, an
audacious and sinister kind of face; and as he curvetted right into
the village, the old stumpy appearance of his pumps excited no little
suspicion; and many a burgher who beheld him that day would have
given a trifle for a peep beneath the white cambric handkerchief
which hung so obtrusively from the pocket of his swallow-tailed coat.
But what mainly occasioned a righteous indignation was, that the
scoundrelly popinjay, while he cut a fandango here, and a whirligig
there, did not seem to have the remotest idea in the world of such a
thing as keeping time in his steps.

The good people of the borough had scarcely a chance, however, to get
their eyes thoroughly open, when, just as it wanted half a minute of
noon, the rascal bounced, as I say, right into the midst of them;
gave a chassez here, and a balancez there; and then, after a
pirouette and a pas-de-zephyr, pigeon-winged himself right up into
the belfry of the House of the Town Council, where the
wonder-stricken belfry-man sat smoking in a state of dignity and
dismay. But the little chap seized him at once by the nose; gave it a
swing and a pull; clapped the big chapeau de-bras upon his head;
knocked it down over his eyes and mouth; and then, lifting up the big
fiddle, beat him with it so long and so soundly, that what with the
belfry-man being so fat, and the fiddle being so hollow, you would
have sworn that there was a regiment of double-bass drummers all
beating the devil's tattoo up in the belfry of the steeple of

There is no knowing to what desperate act of vengeance this
unprincipled attack might have aroused the inhabitants, but for the
important fact that it now wanted only half a second of noon. The
bell was about to strike, and it was a matter of absolute and
pre-eminent necessity that every body should look well at his watch.
It was evident, however, that just at this moment the fellow in the
steeple was doing something that he had no business to do with the
clock. But as it now began to strike, nobody had any time to attend
to his manoeuvres, for they had all to count the strokes of the bell
as it sounded.

"One!" said the clock.

"Von!" echoed every little old gentleman in every leather-bottomed
arm-chair in Vondervotteimittiss. "Von!" said his watch also; "von!"
said the watch of his vrow; and "von!" said the watches of the boys,
and the little gilt repeaters on the tails of the cat and pig.

"Two!" continued the big bell; and

"Doo!" repeated all the repeaters.

"Three! Four! Five! Six! Seven! Eight! Nine! Ten!" said the bell.

"Dree! Vour! Fibe! Sax! Seben! Aight! Noin! Den!" answered the

"Eleven!" said the big one.

"Eleben!" assented the little ones.

"Twelve!" said the bell.

"Dvelf!" they replied perfectly satisfied, and dropping their voices.

"Und dvelf it is!" said all the little old gentlemen, putting up
their watches. But the big bell had not done with them yet.

"Thirteen!" said he.

"Der Teufel!" gasped the little old gentlemen, turning pale, dropping
their pipes, and putting down all their right legs from over their
left knees.

"Der Teufel!" groaned they, "Dirteen! Dirteen!! -- Mein Gott, it is
Dirteen o'clock!!"

Why attempt to describe the terrible scene which ensued? All
Vondervotteimittiss flew at once into a lamentable state of uproar.

"Vot is cum'd to mein pelly?" roared all the boys -- "I've been ongry
for dis hour!"

"Vot is com'd to mein kraut?" screamed all the vrows, "It has been
done to rags for this hour!"

"Vot is cum'd to mein pipe?" swore all the little old gentlemen,
"Donder and Blitzen; it has been smoked out for dis hour!" -- and
they filled them up again in a great rage, and sinking back in their
arm-chairs, puffed away so fast and so fiercely that the whole valley
was immediately filled with impenetrable smoke.

Meantime the cabbages all turned very red in the face, and it seemed
as if old Nick himself had taken possession of every thing in the
shape of a timepiece. The clocks carved upon the furniture took to
dancing as if bewitched, while those upon the mantel-pieces could
scarcely contain themselves for fury, and kept such a continual
striking of thirteen, and such a frisking and wriggling of their
pendulums as was really horrible to see. But, worse than all, neither
the cats nor the pigs could put up any longer with the behavior of
the little repeaters tied to their tails, and resented it by
scampering all over the place, scratching and poking, and squeaking
and screeching, and caterwauling and squalling, and flying into the
faces, and running under the petticoats of the people, and creating
altogether the most abominable din and confusion which it is possible
for a reasonable person to conceive. And to make matters still more
distressing, the rascally little scape-grace in the steeple was
evidently exerting himself to the utmost. Every now and then one
might catch a glimpse of the scoundrel through the smoke. There he
sat in the belfry upon the belfry-man, who was lying flat upon his
back. In his teeth the villain held the bell-rope, which he kept
jerking about with his head, raising such a clatter that my ears ring
again even to think of it. On his lap lay the big fiddle, at which he
was scraping, out of all time and tune, with both hands, making a
great show, the nincompoop! of playing "Judy O'Flannagan and Paddy

Affairs being thus miserably situated, I left the place in disgust,
and now appeal for aid to all lovers of correct time and fine kraut.
Let us proceed in a body to the borough, and restore the ancient
order of things in Vondervotteimittiss by ejecting that little fellow
from the steeple.

~~~ End of Text ~~~



-------- all people went
Upon their ten toes in wild wonderment.

--_ Bishop Hall's Satires_.

I AM - that is to say I was - a great man; but I am neither the
author of Junius nor the man in the mask; for my name, I believe, is
Robert Jones, and I was born somewhere in the city of Fum-Fudge.

The first action of my life was the taking hold of my nose with
both hands. My mother saw this and called me a genius: my father wept
for joy and presented me with a treatise on Nosology. This I mastered
before I was breeched.

I now began to feel my way in the science, and soon came to
understand that, provided a man had a nose sufficiently conspicuous
he might, by merely following it, arrive at a Lionship. But my
attention was not confined to theories alone. Every morning I gave my
proboscis a couple of pulls and swallowed a half dozen of drams.

When I came of age my father asked me, one day, If I would step
with him into his study.

"My son," said he, when we were seated, "what is the chief end of
your existence?"

"My father," I answered, "it is the study of Nosology."

"And what, Robert," he inquired, "is Nosology?"

"Sir," I said, "it is the Science of Noses."

"And can you tell me," he demanded, "what is the meaning of a

"A nose, my father;" I replied, greatly softened, "has been
variously defined by about a thousand different authors." [Here I
pulled out my watch.] "It is now noon or thereabouts - we shall have
time enough to get through with them all before midnight. To commence
then: - The nose, according to Bartholinus, is that protuberance --
that bump - that excrescence - that - "

"Will do, Robert," interrupted the good old gentleman. "I am
thunderstruck at the extent of your information - I am positively --
upon my soul." [Here he closed his eyes and placed his hand upon his
heart.] "Come here!" [Here he took me by the arm.] "Your education
may now be considered as finished - it is high time you should
scuffle for yourself - and you cannot do a better thing than merely
follow your nose -- so - so - so - " [Here he kicked me down stairs
and out of the door] - "so get out of my house, and God bless you!"

As I felt within me the divine afflatus, I considered this
accident rather fortunate than otherwise. I resolved to be guided by
the paternal advice. I determined to follow my nose. I gave it a pull
or two upon the spot, and wrote a pamphlet on Nosology forthwith.

All Fum-Fudge was in an uproar.

"Wonderful genius!" said the Quarterly.

"Superb physiologist!" said the Westminster.

"Clever fellow!" said the Foreign.

"Fine writer!" said the Edinburgh.

"Profound thinker!" said the Dublin.

"Great man!" said Bentley.

"Divine soul!" said Fraser.

"One of us!" said Blackwood.

"Who can he be?" said Mrs. Bas-Bleu.

"What can he be?" said big Miss Bas-Bleu.

"Where can he be?" said little Miss Bas-Bleu. - But I paid these
people no attention whatever - I just stepped into the shop of an

The Duchess of Bless-my-Soul was sitting for her portrait; the
Marquis of So-and-So was holding the Duchess' poodle; the Earl of
This-and-That was flirting with her salts; and his Royal Highness of
Touch-me-Not was leaning upon the back of her chair.

I approached the artist and turned up my nose.

"Oh, beautiful!" sighed her Grace.

"Oh my!" lisped the Marquis.

"Oh, shocking!" groaned the Earl.

"Oh, abominable!" growled his Royal Highness.

"What will you take for it?" asked the artist.

"For his nose!" shouted her Grace.

"A thousand pounds," said I, sitting down.

"A thousand pounds?" inquired the artist, musingly.

"A thousand pounds," said I.

"Beautiful!" said he, entranced.

"A thousand pounds," said I.

"Do you warrant it?" he asked, turning the nose to the light.

"I do," said I, blowing it well.

"Is it quite original?" he inquired; touching it with reverence.

"Humph!" said I, twisting it to one side.

"Has no copy been taken?" he demanded, surveying it through a

"None," said I, turning it up.

"Admirable!" he ejaculated, thrown quite off his guard by the beauty
of the manoeuvre.

"A thousand pounds," said I.

"A thousand pounds?" said he.

"Precisely," said I.

"A thousand pounds?" said he.

"Just so," said I.

"You shall have them," said he. "What a piece of virtu!" So he drew
me a check upon the spot, and took a sketch of my nose. I engaged
rooms in Jermyn street, and sent her Majesty the ninety-ninth edition
of the "Nosology," with a portrait of the proboscis. - That sad
little rake, the Prince of Wales, invited me to dinner.

We were all lions and recherchés.

There was a modern Platonist. He quoted Porphyry, Iamblicus,
Plotinus, Proclus, Hierocles, Maximus Tyrius, and Syrianus.

There was a human-perfectibility man. He quoted Turgot, Price,
Priestly, Condorcet, De Stael, and the "Ambitious Student in Ill

There was Sir Positive Paradox. He observed that all fools were
philosophers, and that all philosophers were fools.

There was Æstheticus Ethix. He spoke of fire, unity, and atoms;
bi-part and pre-existent soul; affinity and discord; primitive
intelligence and homöomeria.

There was Theologos Theology. He talked of Eusebius and Arianus;
heresy and the Council of Nice; Puseyism and consubstantialism;
Homousios and Homouioisios.

There was Fricassée from the Rocher de Cancale. He mentioned Muriton
of red tongue; cauliflowers with velouté sauce; veal à la St.
Menehoult; marinade à la St. Florentin; and orange jellies en

There was Bibulus O'Bumper. He touched upon Latour and Markbrünnen;
upon Mousseux and Chambertin; upon Richbourg and St. George; upon
Haubrion, Leonville, and Medoc; upon Barac and Preignac; upon Grâve,
upon Sauterne, upon Lafitte, and upon St. Peray. He shook his head at
Clos de Vougeot, and told, with his eyes shut, the difference between
Sherry and Amontillado.

There was Signor Tintontintino from Florence. He discoursed of
Cimabué, Arpino, Carpaccio, and Argostino - of the gloom of
Caravaggio, of the amenity of Albano, of the colors of Titian, of the
frows of Rubens, and of the waggeries of Jan Steen.

There was the President of the Fum-Fudge University. He was of
opinion that the moon was called Bendis in Thrace, Bubastis in Egypt,
Dian in Rome, and Artemis in Greece. There was a Grand Turk from
Stamboul. He could not help thinking that the angels were horses,
cocks, and bulls; that somebody in the sixth heaven had seventy
thousand heads; and that the earth was supported by a sky-blue cow
with an incalculable number of green horns.

There was Delphinus Polyglott. He told us what had become of the
eighty-three lost tragedies of Æschylus; of the fifty-four orations
of Isæus; of the three hundred and ninety-one speeches of Lysias; of
the hundred and eighty treatises of Theophrastus; of the eighth book
of the conic sections of Apollonius; of Pindar's hymns and
dithyrambics; and of the five and forty tragedies of Homer Junior.

There was Ferdinand Fitz-Fossillus Feltspar. He informed us all about
internal fires and tertiary formations; about äeriforms, fluidiforms,
and solidiforms; about quartz and marl; about schist and schorl;
about gypsum and trap; about talc and calc; about blende and
horn-blende; about mica-slate and pudding-stone; about cyanite and
lepidolite; about hematite and tremolite; about antimony and
calcedony; about manganese and whatever you please.

There was myself. I spoke of myself; - of myself, of myself, of
myself; - of Nosology, of my pamphlet, and of myself. I turned up my
nose, and I spoke of myself.

"Marvellous clever man!" said the Prince.

"Superb!" said his guests: - and next morning her Grace of
Bless-my-Soul paid me a visit.

"Will you go to Almack's, pretty creature?" she said, tapping me
under the chin.

"Upon honor," said I.

"Nose and all?" she asked.

"As I live," I replied.

"Here then is a card, my life. Shall I say you will be there?"

"Dear Duchess, with all my heart."

"Pshaw, no! - but with all your nose?"

"Every bit of it, my love," said I: so I gave it a twist or two, and
found myself at Almack's. The rooms were crowded to suffocation.

"He is coming!" said somebody on the staircase.

"He is coming!" said somebody farther up.

"He is coming!" said somebody farther still.

"He is come!" exclaimed the Duchess. "He is come, the little love!" -
and, seizing me firmly by both hands, she kissed me thrice upon the
nose. A marked sensation immediately ensued.

"Diavolo!" cried Count Capricornutti.

"Dios guarda!" muttered Don Stiletto.

"Mille tonnerres!" ejaculated the Prince de Grenouille.

"Tousand teufel!" growled the Elector of Bluddennuff.

It was not to be borne. I grew angry. I turned short upon

"Sir!" said I to him, "you are a baboon."

"Sir," he replied, after a pause, "Donner und Blitzen!"

This was all that could be desired. We exchanged cards. At
Chalk-Farm, the next morning, I shot off his nose - and then called
upon my friends.

"Bête!" said the first.

"Fool!" said the second.

"Dolt!" said the third.

"Ass!" said the fourth.

"Ninny!" said the fifth.

"Noodle!" said the sixth.

"Be off!" said the seventh.

At all this I felt mortified, and so called upon my father.

"Father," I asked, "what is the chief end of my existence?"

"My son," he replied, "it is still the study of Nosology; but in
hitting the Elector upon the nose you have overshot your mark. You
have a fine nose, it is true; but then Bluddennuff has none. You are
damned, and he has become the hero of the day. I grant you that in
Fum-Fudge the greatness of a lion is in proportion to the size of his
proboscis - but, good heavens! there is no competing with a lion who
has no proboscis at all."

~~~ End of Text ~~~



AS it is well known that the 'wise men' came 'from the East,' and as
Mr. Touch-and-go Bullet-head came from the East, it follows that Mr.
Bullet-head was a wise man; and if collateral proof of the matter be
needed, here we have it -- Mr. B. was an editor. Irascibility was his
sole foible, for in fact the obstinacy of which men accused him was
anything but his foible, since he justly considered it his forte. It
was his strong point -- his virtue; and it would have required all
the logic of a Brownson to convince him that it was 'anything else.'

I have shown that Touch-and-go Bullet-head was a wise man; and the
only occasion on which he did not prove infallible, was when,
abandoning that legitimate home for all wise men, the East, he
migrated to the city of Alexander-the-Great-o-nopolis, or some place
of a similar title, out West.

I must do him the justice to say, however, that when he made up his
mind finally to settle in that town, it was under the impression that
no newspaper, and consequently no editor, existed in that particular
section of the country. In establishing 'The Tea-Pot' he expected to
have the field all to himself. I feel confident he never would have
dreamed of taking up his residence in Alexander-the-Great-o-nopolis
had he been aware that, in Alexander-the-Great-o-nopolis, there lived
a gentleman named John Smith (if I rightly remember), who for many
years had there quietly grown fat in editing and publishing the
'Alexander-the-Great-o-nopolis Gazette.' It was solely, therefore, on
account of having been misinformed, that Mr. Bullet-head found
himself in Alex-suppose we call it Nopolis, 'for short' -- but, as he
did find himself there, he determined to keep up his character for
obst -- for firmness, and remain. So remain he did; and he did more;
he unpacked his press, type, etc., etc., rented an office exactly
opposite to that of the 'Gazette,' and, on the third morning after
his arrival, issued the first number of 'The Alexan' -- that is to
say, of 'The Nopolis Tea-Pot' -- as nearly as I can recollect, this
was the name of the new paper.

The leading article, I must admit, was brilliant -- not to say
severe. It was especially bitter about things in general -- and as
for the editor of 'The Gazette,' he was torn all to pieces in
particular. Some of Bullethead's remarks were really so fiery that I
have always, since that time, been forced to look upon John Smith,
who is still alive, in the light of a salamander. I cannot pretend to
give all the 'Tea-Pot's' paragraphs verbatim, but one of them runs

'Oh, yes! -- Oh, we perceive! Oh, no doubt! The editor over the way
is a genius -- O, my! Oh, goodness, gracious! -- what is this world
coming to? Oh, tempora! Oh, Moses!'

A philippic at once so caustic and so classical, alighted like a
bombshell among the hitherto peaceful citizens of Nopolis. Groups of
excited individuals gathered at the corners of the streets. Every one
awaited, with heartfelt anxiety, the reply of the dignified Smith.
Next morning it appeared as follows:

'We quote from "The Tea-Pot" of yesterday the subjoined paragraph:
"Oh, yes! Oh, we perceive! Oh, no doubt! Oh, my! Oh, goodness! Oh,
tempora! Oh, Moses!" Why, the fellow is all O! That accounts for his
reasoning in a circle, and explains why there is neither beginning
nor end to him, nor to anything he says. We really do not believe the
vagabond can write a word that hasn't an O in it. Wonder if this
O-ing is a habit of his? By-the-by, he came away from Down-East in a
great hurry. Wonder if he O's as much there as he does here? "O! it
is pitiful."'

The indignation of Mr. Bullet-head at these scandalous insinuations,
I shall not attempt to describe. On the eel-skinning principle,
however, he did not seem to be so much incensed at the attack upon
his integrity as one might have imagined. It was the sneer at his
style that drove him to desperation. What! -- he Touch-and-go
Bullet-head! -- not able to write a word without an O in it! He would
soon let the jackanapes see that he was mistaken. Yes! he would let
him see how much he was mistaken, the puppy! He, Touch-and-go
Bullet-head, of Frogpondium, would let Mr. John Smith perceive that
he, Bullet-head, could indite, if it so pleased him, a whole
paragraph -- aye! a whole article -- in which that contemptible vowel
should not once -- not even once -- make its appearance. But no; --
that would be yielding a point to the said John Smith. He,
Bullet-head, would make no alteration in his style, to suit the
caprices of any Mr. Smith in Christendom. Perish so vile a thought!
The O forever; He would persist in the O. He would be as O-wy as O-wy
could be.

Burning with the chivalry of this determination, the great
Touch-and-go, in the next 'Tea-Pot,' came out merely with this simple
but resolute paragraph, in reference to this unhappy affair:

'The editor of the "Tea-Pot" has the honor of advising the editor of
the "Gazette" that he (the "Tea-Pot") will take an opportunity in
tomorrow morning's paper, of convincing him (the "Gazette") that he
(the "Tea-Pot") both can and will be his own master, as regards
style; he (the "Tea-Pot") intending to show him (the "Gazette") the
supreme, and indeed the withering contempt with which the criticism
of him (the "Gazette") inspires the independent bosom of him (the
"TeaPot") by composing for the especial gratification (?) of him (the
"Gazette") a leading article, of some extent, in which the beautiful
vowel -- the emblem of Eternity -- yet so offensive to the
hyper-exquisite delicacy of him (the "Gazette") shall most certainly
not be avoided by his (the "Gazette's") most obedient, humble
servant, the "Tea-Pot." "So much for Buckingham!"'

In fulfilment of the awful threat thus darkly intimated rather than
decidedly enunciated, the great Bullet-head, turning a deaf ear to
all entreaties for 'copy,' and simply requesting his foreman to 'go
to the d-l,' when he (the foreman) assured him (the 'Tea-Pot'!) that
it was high time to 'go to press': turning a deaf ear to everything,
I say, the great Bullet-head sat up until day-break, consuming the
midnight oil, and absorbed in the composition of the really
unparalleled paragraph, which follows:-

'So ho, John! how now? Told you so, you know. Don't crow, another
time, before you're out of the woods! Does your mother know you're
out? Oh, no, no! -- so go home at once, now, John, to your odious old
woods of Concord! Go home to your woods, old owl -- go! You won't!
Oh, poh, poh, don't do so! You've got to go, you know! So go at once,
and don't go slow, for nobody owns you here, you know! Oh! John,
John, if you don't go you're no homo -- no! You're only a fowl, an
owl, a cow, a sow, -- a doll, a poll; a poor, old,
good-for-nothing-to-nobody, log, dog, hog, or frog, come out of a
Concord bog. Cool, now -- cool! Do be cool, you fool! None of your
crowing, old cock! Don't frown so -- don't! Don't hollo, nor howl nor
growl, nor bow-wow-wow! Good Lord, John, how you do look! Told you
so, you know -- but stop rolling your goose of an old poll about so,
and go and drown your sorrows in a bowl!'

Exhausted, very naturally, by so stupendous an effort, the great
Touch-and-go could attend to nothing farther that night. Firmly,
composedly, yet with an air of conscious power, he handed his MS. to
the devil in waiting, and then, walking leisurely home, retired, with
ineffable dignity to bed.

Meantime the devil, to whom the copy was entrusted, ran up stairs to
his 'case,' in an unutterable hurry, and forthwith made a
commencement at 'setting' the MS. 'up.'

In the first place, of course, -- as the opening word was 'So,' -- he
made a plunge into the capital S hole and came out in triumph with a
capital S. Elated by this success, he immediately threw himself upon
the little-o box with a blindfold impetuosity -- but who shall
describe his horror when his fingers came up without the anticipated
letter in their clutch? who shall paint his astonishment and rage at
perceiving, as he rubbed his knuckles, that he had been only thumping
them to no purpose, against the bottom of an empty box. Not a single
little-o was in the little-o hole; and, glancing fearfully at the
capital-O partition, he found that to his extreme terror, in a
precisely similar predicament. Awe -- stricken, his first impulse was
to rush to the foreman.

'Sir!' said he, gasping for breath, 'I can't never set up nothing
without no o's.'

'What do you mean by that?' growled the foreman, who was in a very
ill humor at being kept so late.

'Why, sir, there beant an o in the office, neither a big un nor a
little un!'

'What -- what the d-l has become of all that were in the case?'

'I don't know, sir,' said the boy, 'but one of them ere "G'zette"
devils is bin prowling 'bout here all night, and I spect he's gone
and cabbaged 'em every one.'

'Dod rot him! I haven't a doubt of it,' replied the foreman, getting
purple with rage 'but I tell you what you do, Bob, that's a good boy
-- you go over the first chance you get and hook every one of their
i's and (d-n them!) their izzards.'

'Jist so,' replied Bob, with a wink and a frown -- 'I'll be into 'em,
I'll let 'em know a thing or two; but in de meantime, that ere
paragrab? Mus go in to-night, you know -- else there'll be the d-l to
pay, and-'

'And not a bit of pitch hot,' interrupted the foreman, with a deep
sigh, and an emphasis on the 'bit.' 'Is it a long paragraph, Bob?'

'Shouldn't call it a wery long paragrab,' said Bob.

'Ah, well, then! do the best you can with it! We must get to press,"
said the foreman, who was over head and ears in work; 'just stick in
some other letter for o; nobody's going to read the fellow's trash

'Wery well,' replied Bob, 'here goes it!' and off he hurried to his
case, muttering as he went: 'Considdeble vell, them ere expressions,
perticcler for a man as doesn't swar. So I's to gouge out all their
eyes, eh? and d-n all their gizzards! Vell! this here's the chap as
is just able for to do it.' The fact is that although Bob was but
twelve years old and four feet high, he was equal to any amount of
fight, in a small way.

The exigency here described is by no means of rare occurrence in
printing-offices; and I cannot tell how to account for it, but the
fact is indisputable, that when the exigency does occur, it almost
always happens that x is adopted as a substitute for the letter
deficient. The true reason, perhaps, is that x is rather the most
superabundant letter in the cases, or at least was so in the old
times -- long enough to render the substitution in question an
habitual thing with printers. As for Bob, he would have considered it
heretical to employ any other character, in a case of this kind, than
the x to which he had been accustomed.

'I shell have to x this ere paragrab,' said he to himself, as he read
it over in astonishment, 'but it's jest about the awfulest o-wy
paragrab I ever did see': so x it he did, unflinchingly, and to press
it went x-ed.

Next morning the population of Nopolis were taken all aback by
reading in 'The Tea-Pot,' the following extraordinary leader:

'Sx hx, Jxhn! hxw nxw? Txld yxu sx, yxu knxw. Dxn't crxw, anxther
time, befxre yxu're xut xf the wxxds! Dxes yxur mxther knxw yxu're
xut? Xh, nx, nx! -- sx gx hxme at xnce, nxw, Jxhn, tx yxur xdixus xld
wxxds xf Cxncxrd! Gx hxme tx yxur wxxds, xld xwl, -- gx! Yxu wxn't?
Xh, pxh, pxh, Jxhn, dxn't dx sx! Yxu've gxt tx gx, yxu knxw, sx gx at
xnce, and dxn't gx slxw; fxr nxbxdy xwns yxu here, yxu knxw. Xh,
Jxhn, Jxhn, Jxhn, if yxu dxn't gx yxu're nx hxmx -- nx! Yxu're xnly a
fxwl, an xwl; a cxw, a sxw; a dxll, a pxll; a pxxr xld
gxxd-fxr-nxthing-tx-nxbxdy, lxg, dxg, hxg, xr frxg, cxme xut xf a
Cxncxrd bxg. Cxxl, nxw -- cxxl! Dx be cxxl, yxu fxxl! Nxne xf yxur
crxwing, xld cxck! Dxn't frxwn sx -- dxn't! Dxn't hxllx, nxr hxwl,
nxr grxwl, nxr bxw-wxw-wxw! Gxxd Lxrd, Jxhn, hxw yxu dx lxxk! Txld
yxu sx, yxu knxw, -- but stxp rxlling yxur gxxse xf an xld pxll abxut
sx, and gx and drxwn yxur sxrrxws in a bxwl!'

The uproar occasioned by this mystical and cabalistical article, is
not to be conceived. The first definite idea entertained by the
populace was, that some diabolical treason lay concealed in the
hieroglyphics; and there was a general rush to Bullet-head's
residence, for the purpose of riding him on a rail; but that
gentleman was nowhere to be found. He had vanished, no one could tell
how; and not even the ghost of him has ever been seen since.

Unable to discover its legitimate object, the popular fury at length
subsided; leaving behind it, by way of sediment, quite a medley of
opinion about this unhappy affair.

One gentleman thought the whole an X-ellent joke.

Another said that, indeed, Bullet-head had shown much X-uberance of

A third admitted him X-entric, but no more.

A fourth could only suppose it the Yankee's design to X-press, in a
general way, his X-asperation.

'Say, rather, to set an X-ample to posterity,' suggested a fifth.

That Bullet-head had been driven to an extremity, was clear to all;
and in fact, since that editor could not be found, there was some
talk about lynching the other one.

The more common conclusion, however, was that the affair was, simply,
X-traordinary and in-X-plicable. Even the town mathematician
confessed that he could make nothing of so dark a problem. X, every.
body knew, was an unknown quantity; but in this case (as he properly
observed), there was an unknown quantity of X.

The opinion of Bob, the devil (who kept dark about his having 'X-ed
the paragrab'), did not meet with so much attention as I think it
deserved, although it was very openly and very fearlessly expressed.
He said that, for his part, he had no doubt about the matter at all,
that it was a clear case, that Mr. Bullet-head 'never could be
persuaded fur to drink like other folks, but vas continually
a-svigging o' that ere blessed XXX ale, and as a naiteral
consekvence, it just puffed him up savage, and made him X (cross) in
the X-treme.'

~~~ End of Text ~~~



Pestis eram vivus - moriens tua mors ero.

-- _Martin Luther_

HORROR and fatality have been stalking abroad in all ages. Why
then give a date to this story I have to tell? Let it suffice to say,
that at the period of which I speak, there existed, in the interior
of Hungary, a settled although hidden belief in the doctrines of the
Metempsychosis. Of the doctrines themselves - that is, of their
falsity, or of their probability - I say nothing. I assert, however,
that much of our incredulity - as La Bruyere says of all our
unhappiness - "_vient de ne pouvoir être seuls_." {*1}

But there are some points in the Hungarian superstition which
were fast verging to absurdity. They - the Hungarians - differed very
essentially from their Eastern authorities. For example, "_The
soul_," said the former - I give the words of an acute and
intelligent Parisian - "_ne demeure qu'un seul fois dans un corps
sensible: au reste - un cheval, un chien, un homme meme, n'est que la
ressemblance peu tangible de ces animaux._"

The families of Berlifitzing and Metzengerstein had been at
variance for centuries. Never before were two houses so illustrious,
mutually embittered by hostility so deadly. The origin of this enmity
seems to be found in the words of an ancient prophecy - "A lofty name
shall have a fearful fall when, as the rider over his horse, the
mortality of Metzengerstein shall triumph over the immortality of

To be sure the words themselves had little or no meaning. But
more trivial causes have given rise - and that no long while ago - to
consequences equally eventful. Besides, the estates, which were
contiguous, had long exercised a rival influence in the affairs of a
busy government. Moreover, near neighbors are seldom friends; and the
inhabitants of the Castle Berlifitzing might look, from their lofty
buttresses, into the very windows of the palace Metzengerstein. Least
of all had the more than feudal magnificence, thus discovered, a
tendency to allay the irritable feelings of the less ancient and less
wealthy Berlifitzings. What wonder then, that the words, however
silly, of that prediction, should have succeeded in setting and
keeping at variance two families already predisposed to quarrel by
every instigation of hereditary jealousy? The prophecy seemed to
imply - if it implied anything - a final triumph on the part of the
already more powerful house; and was of course remembered with the
more bitter animosity by the weaker and less influential.

Wilhelm, Count Berlifitzing, although loftily descended, was, at
the epoch of this narrative, an infirm and doting old man, remarkable
for nothing but an inordinate and inveterate personal antipathy to
the family of his rival, and so passionate a love of horses, and of
hunting, that neither bodily infirmity, great age, nor mental
incapacity, prevented his daily participation in the dangers of the

Frederick, Baron Metzengerstein, was, on the other hand, not yet
Mary, followed him quickly after. Frederick was, at that time, in his
fifteenth year. In a city, fifteen years are no long period - a child
may be still a child in his third lustrum: but in a wilderness - in
so magnificent a wilderness as that old principality, fifteen years
have a far deeper meaning.

From some peculiar circumstances attending the administration of
his father, the young Baron, at the decease of the former, entered
immediately upon his vast possessions. Such estates were seldom held
before by a nobleman of Hungary. His castles were without number. The
chief in point of splendor and extent was the "Chateau
Metzengerstein." The boundary line of his dominions was never clearly
defined; but his principal park embraced a circuit of fifty miles.

Upon the succession of a proprietor so young, with a character so
well known, to a fortune so unparalleled, little speculation was
afloat in regard to his probable course of conduct. And, indeed, for
the space of three days, the behavior of the heir out-heroded Herod,
and fairly surpassed the expectations of his most enthusiastic
admirers. Shameful debaucheries - flagrant treacheries - unheard-of
atrocities - gave his trembling vassals quickly to understand that no
servile submission on their part - no punctilios of conscience on his
own - were thenceforward to prove any security against the
remorseless fangs of a petty Caligula. On the night of the fourth
day, the stables of the castle Berlifitzing were discovered to be on
fire; and the unanimous opinion of the neighborhood added the crime
of the incendiary to the already hideous list of the Baron's
misdemeanors and enormities.

But during the tumult occasioned by this occurrence, the young
nobleman himself sat apparently buried in meditation, in a vast and
desolate upper apartment of the family palace of Metzengerstein. The
rich although faded tapestry hangings which swung gloomily upon the
walls, represented the shadowy and majestic forms of a thousand
illustrious ancestors. _Here_, rich-ermined priests, and pontifical
dignitaries, familiarly seated with the autocrat and the sovereign,
put a veto on the wishes of a temporal king, or restrained with the
fiat of papal supremacy the rebellious sceptre of the Arch-enemy.
_There_, the dark, tall statures of the Princes Metzengerstein -
their muscular war-coursers plunging over the carcasses of fallen
foes - startled the steadiest nerves with their vigorous expression;
and _here_, again, the voluptuous and swan-like figures of the dames
of days gone by, floated away in the mazes of an unreal dance to the
strains of imaginary melody.

But as the Baron listened, or affected to listen, to the
gradually increasing uproar in the stables of Berlifitzing - or
perhaps pondered upon some more novel, some more decided act of
audacity - his eyes became unwittingly rivetted to the figure of an
enormous, and unnaturally colored horse, represented in the tapestry
as belonging to a Saracen ancestor of the family of his rival. The
horse itself, in the foreground of the design, stood motionless and
statue-like - while farther back, its discomfited rider perished by
the dagger of a Metzengerstein.

On Frederick's lip arose a fiendish expression, as he became
aware of the direction which his glance had, without his
consciousness, assumed. Yet he did not remove it. On the contrary, he
could by no means account for the overwhelming anxiety which appeared
falling like a pall upon his senses. It was with difficulty that he
reconciled his dreamy and incoherent feelings with the certainty of
being awake. The longer he gazed the more absorbing became the spell
- the more impossible did it appear that he could ever withdraw his
glance from the fascination of that tapestry. But the tumult without
becoming suddenly more violent, with a compulsory exertion he
diverted his attention to the glare of ruddy light thrown full by the
flaming stables upon the windows of the apartment.

The action, however, was but momentary, his gaze returned
mechanically to the wall. To his extreme horror and astonishment, the
head of the gigantic steed had, in the meantime, altered its
position. The neck of the animal, before arched, as if in compassion,
over the prostrate body of its lord, was now extended, at full
length, in the direction of the Baron. The eyes, before invisible,
now wore an energetic and human expression, while they gleamed with a
fiery and unusual red; and the distended lips of the apparently
enraged horse left in full view his gigantic and disgusting teeth.

Stupified with terror, the young nobleman tottered to the door.
As he threw it open, a flash of red light, streaming far into the
chamber, flung his shadow with a clear outline against the quivering
tapestry, and he shuddered to perceive that shadow - as he staggered
awhile upon the threshold - assuming the exact position, and
precisely filling up the contour, of the relentless and triumphant
murderer of the Saracen Berlifitzing.

To lighten the depression of his spirits, the Baron hurried into
the open air. At the principal gate of the palace he encountered
three equerries. With much difficulty, and at the imminent peril of
their lives, they were restraining the convulsive plunges of a
gigantic and fiery-colored horse.

"Whose horse? Where did you get him?" demanded the youth, in a
querulous and husky tone of voice, as he became instantly aware that
the mysterious steed in the tapestried chamber was the very
counterpart of the furious animal before his eyes.

"He is your own property, sire," replied one of the equerries,
"at least he is claimed by no other owner. We caught him flying, all
smoking and foaming with rage, from the burning stables of the Castle
Berlifitzing. Supposing him to have belonged to the old Count's stud
of foreign horses, we led him back as an estray. But the grooms there
disclaim any title to the creature; which is strange, since he bears
evident marks of having made a narrow escape from the flames.

"The letters W. V. B. are also branded very distinctly on his
forehead," interrupted a second equerry, "I supposed them, of course,
to be the initials of Wilhelm Von Berlifitzing - but all at the
castle are positive in denying any knowledge of the horse."

"Extremely singular!" said the young Baron, with a musing air,
and apparently unconscious of the meaning of his words. "He is, as
you say, a remarkable horse - a prodigious horse! although, as you
very justly observe, of a suspicious and untractable character, let
him be mine, however," he added, after a pause, "perhaps a rider like
Frederick of Metzengerstein, may tame even the devil from the stables
of Berlifitzing."

"You are mistaken, my lord; the horse, as I think we mentioned,
is _not_ from the stables of the Count. If such had been the case, we
know our duty better than to bring him into the presence of a noble
of your family."

"True!" observed the Baron, dryly, and at that instant a page of
the bedchamber came from the palace with a heightened color, and a
precipitate step. He whispered into his master's ear an account of
the sudden disappearance of a small portion of the tapestry, in an
apartment which he designated; entering, at the same time, into
particulars of a minute and circumstantial character; but from the
low tone of voice in which these latter were communicated, nothing
escaped to gratify the excited curiosity of the equerries.

The young Frederick, during the conference, seemed agitated by a
variety of emotions. He soon, however, recovered his composure, and
an expression of determined malignancy settled upon his countenance,
as he gave peremptory orders that a certain chamber should be
immediately locked up, and the key placed in his own possession.

"Have you heard of the unhappy death of the old hunter
Berlifitzing?" said one of his vassals to the Baron, as, after the
departure of the page, the huge steed which that nobleman had adopted
as his own, plunged and curvetted, with redoubled fury, down the long
avenue which extended from the chateau to the stables of

"No!" said the Baron, turning abruptly toward the speaker, "dead!
say you?"

"It is indeed true, my lord; and, to a noble of your name, will
be, I imagine, no unwelcome intelligence."

A rapid smile shot over the countenance of the listener. "How
died he?"

"In his rash exertions to rescue a favorite portion of his
hunting stud, he has himself perished miserably in the flames."

"I-n-d-e-e-d-!" ejaculated the Baron, as if slowly and
deliberately impressed with the truth of some exciting idea.

"Indeed;" repeated the vassal.

"Shocking!" said the youth, calmly, and turned quietly into the

From this date a marked alteration took place in the outward
demeanor of the dissolute young Baron Frederick Von Metzengerstein.
Indeed, his behavior disappointed every expectation, and proved
little in accordance with the views of many a manoeuvering mamma;
while his habits and manner, still less than formerly, offered any
thing congenial with those of the neighboring aristocracy. He was
never to be seen beyond the limits of his own domain, and, in this
wide and social world, was utterly companionless - unless, indeed,
that unnatural, impetuous, and fiery-colored horse, which he
henceforward continually bestrode, had any mysterious right to the
title of his friend.

Numerous invitations on the part of the neighborhood for a long
time, however, periodically came in. "Will the Baron honor our
festivals with his presence?" "Will the Baron join us in a hunting of
the boar?" - "Metzengerstein does not hunt;" "Metzengerstein will not
attend," were the haughty and laconic answers.

These repeated insults were not to be endured by an imperious
nobility. Such invitations became less cordial - less frequent - in
time they ceased altogether. The widow of the unfortunate Count
Berlifitzing was even heard to express a hope "that the Baron might
be at home when he did not wish to be at home, since he disdained the
company of his equals; and ride when he did not wish to ride, since
he preferred the society of a horse." This to be sure was a very
silly explosion of hereditary pique; and merely proved how singularly
unmeaning our sayings are apt to become, when we desire to be
unusually energetic.

The charitable, nevertheless, attributed the alteration in the
conduct of the young nobleman to the natural sorrow of a son for the
untimely loss of his parents - forgetting, however, his atrocious and
reckless behavior during the short period immediately succeeding that
bereavement. Some there were, indeed, who suggested a too haughty
idea of self-consequence and dignity. Others again (among them may be
mentioned the family physician) did not hesitate in speaking of
morbid melancholy, and hereditary ill-health; while dark hints, of a
more equivocal nature, were current among the multitude.

Indeed, the Baron's perverse attachment to his lately-acquired
charger - an attachment which seemed to attain new strength from
every fresh example of the animal's ferocious and demon-like
propensities - at length became, in the eyes of all reasonable men, a
hideous and unnatural fervor. In the glare of noon - at the dead hour
of night - in sickness or in health - in calm or in tempest - the
young Metzengerstein seemed rivetted to the saddle of that colossal
horse, whose intractable audacities so well accorded with his own

There were circumstances, moreover, which coupled with late
events, gave an unearthly and portentous character to the mania of
the rider, and to the capabilities of the steed. The space passed
over in a single leap had been accurately measured, and was found to
exceed, by an astounding difference, the wildest expectations of the
most imaginative. The Baron, besides, had no particular _name_ for
the animal, although all the rest in his collection were
distinguished by characteristic appellations. His stable, too, was
appointed at a distance from the rest; and with regard to grooming
and other necessary offices, none but the owner in person had
ventured to officiate, or even to enter the enclosure of that
particular stall. It was also to be observed, that although the three
grooms, who had caught the steed as he fled from the conflagration at
Berlifitzing, had succeeded in arresting his course, by means of a
chain-bridle and noose - yet no one of the three could with any
certainty affirm that he had, during that dangerous struggle, or at
any period thereafter, actually placed his hand upon the body of the
beast. Instances of peculiar intelligence in the demeanor of a noble
and high-spirited horse are not to be supposed capable of exciting
unreasonable attention - especially among men who, daily trained to
the labors of the chase, might appear well acquainted with the
sagacity of a horse - but there were certain circumstances which
intruded themselves per force upon the most skeptical and phlegmatic;
and it is said there were times when the animal caused the gaping
crowd who stood around to recoil in horror from the deep and
impressive meaning of his terrible stamp - times when the young
Metzengerstein turned pale and shrunk away from the rapid and
searching expression of his earnest and human-looking eye.

Among all the retinue of the Baron, however, none were found to
doubt the ardor of that extraordinary affection which existed on the
part of the young nobleman for the fiery qualities of his horse; at
least, none but an insignificant and misshapen little page, whose
deformities were in everybody's way, and whose opinions were of the
least possible importance. He - if his ideas are worth mentioning at
all - had the effrontery to assert that his master never vaulted into
the saddle without an unaccountable and almost imperceptible shudder,
and that, upon his return from every long-continued and habitual
ride, an expression of triumphant malignity distorted every muscle in
his countenance.

One tempestuous night, Metzengerstein, awaking from a heavy
slumber, descended like a maniac from his chamber, and, mounting in
hot haste, bounded away into the mazes of the forest. An occurrence
so common attracted no particular attention, but his return was
looked for with intense anxiety on the part of his domestics, when,
after some hours' absence, the stupendous and magnificent battlements
of the Chateau Metzengerstein, were discovered crackling and rocking
to their very foundation, under the influence of a dense and livid
mass of ungovernable fire.

As the flames, when first seen, had already made so terrible a
progress that all efforts to save any portion of the building were
evidently futile, the astonished neighborhood stood idly around in
silent and pathetic wonder. But a new and fearful object soon
rivetted the attention of the multitude, and proved how much more
intense is the excitement wrought in the feelings of a crowd by the
contemplation of human agony, than that brought about by the most
appalling spectacles of inanimate matter.

Up the long avenue of aged oaks which led from the forest to the
main entrance of the Chateau Metzengerstein, a steed, bearing an
unbonneted and disordered rider, was seen leaping with an impetuosity
which outstripped the very Demon of the Tempest.

The career of the horseman was indisputably, on his own part,
uncontrollable. The agony of his countenance, the convulsive struggle
of his frame, gave evidence of superhuman exertion: but no sound,
save a solitary shriek, escaped from his lacerated lips, which were
bitten through and through in the intensity of terror. One instant,
and the clattering of hoofs resounded sharply and shrilly above the
roaring of the flames and the shrieking of the winds - another, and,
clearing at a single plunge the gate-way and the moat, the steed
bounded far up the tottering staircases of the palace, and, with its
rider, disappeared amid the whirlwind of chaotic fire.

The fury of the tempest immediately died away, and a dead calm
sullenly succeeded. A white flame still enveloped the building like a
shroud, and, streaming far away into the quiet atmosphere, shot forth
a glare of preternatural light; while a cloud of smoke settled
heavily over the battlements in the distinct colossal figure of - _a

~~~ End of Text ~~~



DURING the autumn of 18--, while on a tour through the extreme
southern provinces of France, my route led me within a few miles of a
certain Maison de Sante or private mad-house, about which I had heard
much in Paris from my medical friends. As I had never visited a place
of the kind, I thought the opportunity too good to be lost; and so
proposed to my travelling companion (a gentleman with whom I had made
casual acquaintance a few days before) that we should turn aside, for
an hour or so, and look through the establishment. To this he
objected -- pleading haste in the first place, and, in the second, a
very usual horror at the sight of a lunatic. He begged me, however,
not to let any mere courtesy towards himself interfere with the
gratification of my curiosity, and said that he would ride on
leisurely, so that I might overtake him during the day, or, at all
events, during the next. As he bade me good-bye, I bethought me that
there might be some difficulty in obtaining access to the premises,
and mentioned my fears on this point. He replied that, in fact,
unless I had personal knowledge of the superintendent, Monsieur
Maillard, or some credential in the way of a letter, a difficulty
might be found to exist, as the regulations of these private
mad-houses were more rigid than the public hospital laws. For
himself, he added, he had, some years since, made the acquaintance of
Maillard, and would so far assist me as to ride up to the door and
introduce me; although his feelings on the subject of lunacy would
not permit of his entering the house.

I thanked him, and, turning from the main road, we entered a
grass-grown by-path, which, in half an hour, nearly lost itself in a
dense forest, clothing the base of a mountain. Through this dank and
gloomy wood we rode some two miles, when the Maison de Sante came in
view. It was a fantastic chateau, much dilapidated, and indeed
scarcely tenantable through age and neglect. Its aspect inspired me
with absolute dread, and, checking my horse, I half resolved to turn
back. I soon, however, grew ashamed of my weakness, and proceeded.

As we rode up to the gate-way, I perceived it slightly open, and the
visage of a man peering through. In an instant afterward, this man
came forth, accosted my companion by name, shook him cordially by the
hand, and begged him to alight. It was Monsieur Maillard himself. He
was a portly, fine-looking gentleman of the old school, with a
polished manner, and a certain air of gravity, dignity, and authority
which was very impressive.

My friend, having presented me, mentioned my desire to inspect the
establishment, and received Monsieur Maillard's assurance that he
would show me all attention, now took leave, and I saw him no more.

When he had gone, the superintendent ushered me into a small and
exceedingly neat parlor, containing, among other indications of
refined taste, many books, drawings, pots of flowers, and musical
instruments. A cheerful fire blazed upon the hearth. At a piano,
singing an aria from Bellini, sat a young and very beautiful woman,
who, at my entrance, paused in her song, and received me with
graceful courtesy. Her voice was low, and her whole manner subdued. I
thought, too, that I perceived the traces of sorrow in her
countenance, which was excessively, although to my taste, not
unpleasingly, pale. She was attired in deep mourning, and excited in
my bosom a feeling of mingled respect, interest, and admiration.

I had heard, at Paris, that the institution of Monsieur Maillard was
managed upon what is vulgarly termed the "system of soothing" -- that
all punishments were avoided -- that even confinement was seldom
resorted to -- that the patients, while secretly watched, were left
much apparent liberty, and that most of them were permitted to roam
about the house and grounds in the ordinary apparel of persons in
right mind.

Keeping these impressions in view, I was cautious in what I said
before the young lady; for I could not be sure that she was sane;
and, in fact, there was a certain restless brilliancy about her eyes
which half led me to imagine she was not. I confined my remarks,
therefore, to general topics, and to such as I thought would not be
displeasing or exciting even to a lunatic. She replied in a perfectly
rational manner to all that I said; and even her original
observations were marked with the soundest good sense, but a long
acquaintance with the metaphysics of mania, had taught me to put no
faith in such evidence of sanity, and I continued to practise,
throughout the interview, the caution with which I commenced it.

Presently a smart footman in livery brought in a tray with fruit,
wine, and other refreshments, of which I partook, the lady soon
afterward leaving the room. As she departed I turned my eyes in an
inquiring manner toward my host.

"No," he said, "oh, no -- a member of my family -- my niece, and a
most accomplished woman."

"I beg a thousand pardons for the suspicion," I replied, "but of
course you will know how to excuse me. The excellent administration
of your affairs here is well understood in Paris, and I thought it
just possible, you know-

"Yes, yes -- say no more -- or rather it is myself who should thank
you for the commendable prudence you have displayed. We seldom find
so much of forethought in young men; and, more than once, some
unhappy contre-temps has occurred in consequence of thoughtlessness
on the part of our visitors. While my former system was in operation,
and my patients were permitted the privilege of roaming to and fro at
will, they were often aroused to a dangerous frenzy by injudicious
persons who called to inspect the house. Hence I was obliged to
enforce a rigid system of exclusion; and none obtained access to the
premises upon whose discretion I could not rely."

"While your former system was in operation!" I said, repeating his
words -- "do I understand you, then, to say that the 'soothing
system' of which I have heard so much is no longer in force?"

"It is now," he replied, "several weeks since we have concluded to
renounce it forever."

"Indeed! you astonish me!"

"We found it, sir," he said, with a sigh, "absolutely necessary to
return to the old usages. The danger of the soothing system was, at
all times, appalling; and its advantages have been much overrated. I
believe, sir, that in this house it has been given a fair trial, if
ever in any. We did every thing that rational humanity could suggest.
I am sorry that you could not have paid us a visit at an earlier
period, that you might have judged for yourself. But I presume you
are conversant with the soothing practice -- with its details."

"Not altogether. What I have heard has been at third or fourth hand."

"I may state the system, then, in general terms, as one in which the
patients were menages-humored. We contradicted no fancies which
entered the brains of the mad. On the contrary, we not only indulged
but encouraged them; and many of our most permanent cures have been
thus effected. There is no argument which so touches the feeble
reason of the madman as the argumentum ad absurdum. We have had men,
for example, who fancied themselves chickens. The cure was, to insist
upon the thing as a fact -- to accuse the patient of stupidity in not
sufficiently perceiving it to be a fact -- and thus to refuse him any
other diet for a week than that which properly appertains to a
chicken. In this manner a little corn and gravel were made to perform

"But was this species of acquiescence all?"

"By no means. We put much faith in amusements of a simple kind, such
as music, dancing, gymnastic exercises generally, cards, certain
classes of books, and so forth. We affected to treat each individual
as if for some ordinary physical disorder, and the word 'lunacy' was
never employed. A great point was to set each lunatic to guard the
actions of all the others. To repose confidence in the understanding
or discretion of a madman, is to gain him body and soul. In this way
we were enabled to dispense with an expensive body of keepers."

"And you had no punishments of any kind?"


"And you never confined your patients?"

"Very rarely. Now and then, the malady of some individual growing to
a crisis, or taking a sudden turn of fury, we conveyed him to a
secret cell, lest his disorder should infect the rest, and there kept
him until we could dismiss him to his friends -- for with the raging
maniac we have nothing to do. He is usually removed to the public

"And you have now changed all this -- and you think for the better?"

"Decidedly. The system had its disadvantages, and even its dangers.
It is now, happily, exploded throughout all the Maisons de Sante of

"I am very much surprised," I said, "at what you tell me; for I made
sure that, at this moment, no other method of treatment for mania
existed in any portion of the country."

"You are young yet, my friend," replied my host, "but the time will
arrive when you will learn to judge for yourself of what is going on
in the world, without trusting to the gossip of others. Believe
nothing you hear, and only one-half that you see. Now about our
Maisons de Sante, it is clear that some ignoramus has misled you.
After dinner, however, when you have sufficiently recovered from the
fatigue of your ride, I will be happy to take you over the house, and
introduce to you a system which, in my opinion, and in that of every
one who has witnessed its operation, is incomparably the most
effectual as yet devised."

"Your own?" I inquired -- "one of your own invention?"

"I am proud," he replied, "to acknowledge that it is -- at least in
some measure."

In this manner I conversed with Monsieur Maillard for an hour or two,
during which he showed me the gardens and conservatories of the

"I cannot let you see my patients," he said, "just at present. To a
sensitive mind there is always more or less of the shocking in such
exhibitions; and I do not wish to spoil your appetite for dinner. We
will dine. I can give you some veal a la Menehoult, with cauliflowers
in veloute sauce -- after that a glass of Clos de Vougeot -- then
your nerves will be sufficiently steadied."

At six, dinner was announced; and my host conducted me into a large
salle a manger, where a very numerous company were assembled --
twenty-five or thirty in all. They were, apparently, people of
rank-certainly of high breeding -- although their habiliments, I
thought, were extravagantly rich, partaking somewhat too much of the
ostentatious finery of the vielle cour. I noticed that at least
two-thirds of these guests were ladies; and some of the latter were
by no means accoutred in what a Parisian would consider good taste at
the present day. Many females, for example, whose age could not have
been less than seventy were bedecked with a profusion of jewelry,
such as rings, bracelets, and earrings, and wore their bosoms and
arms shamefully bare. I observed, too, that very few of the dresses
were well made -- or, at least, that very few of them fitted the
wearers. In looking about, I discovered the interesting girl to whom
Monsieur Maillard had presented me in the little parlor; but my
surprise was great to see her wearing a hoop and farthingale, with
high-heeled shoes, and a dirty cap of Brussels lace, so much too
large for her that it gave her face a ridiculously diminutive
expression. When I had first seen her, she was attired, most
becomingly, in deep mourning. There was an air of oddity, in short,
about the dress of the whole party, which, at first, caused me to
recur to my original idea of the "soothing system," and to fancy that
Monsieur Maillard had been willing to deceive me until after dinner,
that I might experience no uncomfortable feelings during the repast,
at finding myself dining with lunatics; but I remembered having been
informed, in Paris, that the southern provincialists were a
peculiarly eccentric people, with a vast number of antiquated
notions; and then, too, upon conversing with several members of the
company, my apprehensions were immediately and fully dispelled.

The dining-room itself, although perhaps sufficiently comfortable and
of good dimensions, had nothing too much of elegance about it. For
example, the floor was uncarpeted; in France, however, a carpet is
frequently dispensed with. The windows, too, were without curtains;
the shutters, being shut, were securely fastened with iron bars,
applied diagonally, after the fashion of our ordinary shop-shutters.
The apartment, I observed, formed, in itself, a wing of the chateau,
and thus the windows were on three sides of the parallelogram, the
door being at the other. There were no less than ten windows in all.

The table was superbly set out. It was loaded with plate, and more
than loaded with delicacies. The profusion was absolutely barbaric.
There were meats enough to have feasted the Anakim. Never, in all my
life, had I witnessed so lavish, so wasteful an expenditure of the
good things of life. There seemed very little taste, however, in the
arrangements; and my eyes, accustomed to quiet lights, were sadly
offended by the prodigious glare of a multitude of wax candles,
which, in silver candelabra, were deposited upon the table, and all
about the room, wherever it was possible to find a place. There were
several active servants in attendance; and, upon a large table, at
the farther end of the apartment, were seated seven or eight people
with fiddles, fifes, trombones, and a drum. These fellows annoyed me
very much, at intervals, during the repast, by an infinite variety of
noises, which were intended for music, and which appeared to afford
much entertainment to all present, with the exception of myself.

Upon the whole, I could not help thinking that there was much of the
bizarre about every thing I saw -- but then the world is made up of
all kinds of persons, with all modes of thought, and all sorts of
conventional customs. I had travelled, too, so much, as to be quite
an adept at the nil admirari; so I took my seat very coolly at the
right hand of my host, and, having an excellent appetite, did justice
to the good cheer set before me.

The conversation, in the meantime, was spirited and general. The
ladies, as usual, talked a great deal. I soon found that nearly all
the company were well educated; and my host was a world of
good-humored anecdote in himself. He seemed quite willing to speak of
his position as superintendent of a Maison de Sante; and, indeed, the
topic of lunacy was, much to my surprise, a favorite one with all
present. A great many amusing stories were told, having reference to
the whims of the patients.

"We had a fellow here once," said a fat little gentleman, who sat at
my right, -- "a fellow that fancied himself a tea-pot; and by the
way, is it not especially singular how often this particular crotchet
has entered the brain of the lunatic? There is scarcely an insane
asylum in France which cannot supply a human tea-pot. Our gentleman
was a Britannia -- ware tea-pot, and was careful to polish himself
every morning with buckskin and whiting."

"And then," said a tall man just opposite, "we had here, not long
ago, a person who had taken it into his head that he was a donkey --
which allegorically speaking, you will say, was quite true. He was a
troublesome patient; and we had much ado to keep him within bounds.
For a long time he would eat nothing but thistles; but of this idea
we soon cured him by insisting upon his eating nothing else. Then he
was perpetually kicking out his heels-so-so-"

"Mr. De Kock! I will thank you to behave yourself!" here interrupted
an old lady, who sat next to the speaker. "Please keep your feet to
yourself! You have spoiled my brocade! Is it necessary, pray, to
illustrate a remark in so practical a style? Our friend here can
surely comprehend you without all this. Upon my word, you are nearly
as great a donkey as the poor unfortunate imagined himself. Your
acting is very natural, as I live."

"Mille pardons! Ma'm'selle!" replied Monsieur De Kock, thus addressed
-- "a thousand pardons! I had no intention of offending. Ma'm'selle
Laplace -- Monsieur De Kock will do himself the honor of taking wine
with you."

Here Monsieur De Kock bowed low, kissed his hand with much ceremony,
and took wine with Ma'm'selle Laplace.

"Allow me, mon ami," now said Monsieur Maillard, addressing myself,
"allow me to send you a morsel of this veal a la St. Menhoult -- you
will find it particularly fine."

At this instant three sturdy waiters had just succeeded in depositing
safely upon the table an enormous dish, or trencher, containing what
I supposed to be the "monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens, cui lumen
ademptum." A closer scrutiny assured me, however, that it was only a
small calf roasted whole, and set upon its knees, with an apple in
its mouth, as is the English fashion of dressing a hare.

"Thank you, no," I replied; "to say the truth, I am not particularly
partial to veal a la St. -- what is it? -- for I do not find that it
altogether agrees with me. I will change my plate, however, and try
some of the rabbit."

There were several side-dishes on the table, containing what appeared
to be the ordinary French rabbit -- a very delicious morceau, which I
can recommend.

"Pierre," cried the host, "change this gentleman's plate, and give
him a side-piece of this rabbit au-chat."

"This what?" said I.

"This rabbit au-chat."

"Why, thank you -- upon second thoughts, no. I will just help myself
to some of the ham."

There is no knowing what one eats, thought I to myself, at the tables
of these people of the province. I will have none of their rabbit
au-chat -- and, for the matter of that, none of their cat-au-rabbit

"And then," said a cadaverous looking personage, near the foot of the
table, taking up the thread of the conversation where it had been
broken off, -- "and then, among other oddities, we had a patient,
once upon a time, who very pertinaciously maintained himself to be a
Cordova cheese, and went about, with a knife in his hand, soliciting
his friends to try a small slice from the middle of his leg."

"He was a great fool, beyond doubt," interposed some one, "but not to
be compared with a certain individual whom we all know, with the
exception of this strange gentleman. I mean the man who took himself
for a bottle of champagne, and always went off with a pop and a fizz,
in this fashion."

Here the speaker, very rudely, as I thought, put his right thumb in
his left cheek, withdrew it with a sound resembling the popping of a
cork, and then, by a dexterous movement of the tongue upon the teeth,
created a sharp hissing and fizzing, which lasted for several
minutes, in imitation of the frothing of champagne. This behavior, I
saw plainly, was not very pleasing to Monsieur Maillard; but that
gentleman said nothing, and the conversation was resumed by a very
lean little man in a big wig.

"And then there was an ignoramus," said he, "who mistook himself for
a frog, which, by the way, he resembled in no little degree. I wish
you could have seen him, sir," -- here the speaker addressed myself
-- "it would have done your heart good to see the natural airs that
he put on. Sir, if that man was not a frog, I can only observe that
it is a pity he was not. His croak thus -- o-o-o-o-gh -- o-o-o-o-gh!
was the finest note in the world -- B flat; and when he put his
elbows upon the table thus -- after taking a glass or two of wine --
and distended his mouth, thus, and rolled up his eyes, thus, and
winked them with excessive rapidity, thus, why then, sir, I take it
upon myself to say, positively, that you would have been lost in
admiration of the genius of the man."

"I have no doubt of it," I said.

"And then," said somebody else, "then there was Petit Gaillard, who
thought himself a pinch of snuff, and was truly distressed because he
could not take himself between his own finger and thumb."

"And then there was Jules Desoulieres, who was a very singular
genius, indeed, and went mad with the idea that he was a pumpkin. He
persecuted the cook to make him up into pies -- a thing which the
cook indignantly refused to do. For my part, I am by no means sure
that a pumpkin pie a la Desoulieres would not have been very capital
eating indeed!"

"You astonish me!" said I; and I looked inquisitively at Monsieur

"Ha! ha! ha!" said that gentleman -- "he! he! he! -- hi! hi! hi! --
ho! ho! ho! -- hu! hu! hu! hu! -- very good indeed! You must not be
astonished, mon ami; our friend here is a wit -- a drole -- you must
not understand him to the letter."

"And then," said some other one of the party, -- "then there was
Bouffon Le Grand -- another extraordinary personage in his way. He
grew deranged through love, and fancied himself possessed of two
heads. One of these he maintained to be the head of Cicero; the other
he imagined a composite one, being Demosthenes' from the top of the
forehead to the mouth, and Lord Brougham's from the mouth to the
chin. It is not impossible that he was wrong; but he would have
convinced you of his being in the right; for he was a man of great
eloquence. He had an absolute passion for oratory, and could not
refrain from display. For example, he used to leap upon the
dinner-table thus, and -- and-"

Here a friend, at the side of the speaker, put a hand upon his
shoulder and whispered a few words in his ear, upon which he ceased
talking with great suddenness, and sank back within his chair.

"And then," said the friend who had whispered, "there was Boullard,
the tee-totum. I call him the tee-totum because, in fact, he was
seized with the droll but not altogether irrational crotchet, that he
had been converted into a tee-totum. You would have roared with
laughter to see him spin. He would turn round upon one heel by the
hour, in this manner -- so-

Here the friend whom he had just interrupted by a whisper, performed
an exactly similar office for himself.

"But then," cried the old lady, at the top of her voice, "your
Monsieur Boullard was a madman, and a very silly madman at best; for
who, allow me to ask you, ever heard of a human tee-totum? The thing
is absurd. Madame Joyeuse was a more sensible person, as you know.
She had a crotchet, but it was instinct with common sense, and gave
pleasure to all who had the honor of her acquaintance. She found,
upon mature deliberation, that, by some accident, she had been turned
into a chicken-cock; but, as such, she behaved with propriety. She
flapped her wings with prodigious effect -- so -- so -- and, as for
her crow, it was delicious! Cock-a-doodle-doo! -- cock-a-doodle-doo!
-- cock-a-doodle-de-doo-dooo-do-o-o-o-o-o-o!"

"Madame Joyeuse, I will thank you to behave yourself!" here
interrupted our host, very angrily. "You can either conduct yourself
as a lady should do, or you can quit the table forthwith-take your

The lady (whom I was much astonished to hear addressed as Madame
Joyeuse, after the description of Madame Joyeuse she had just given)
blushed up to the eyebrows, and seemed exceedingly abashed at the
reproof. She hung down her head, and said not a syllable in reply.
But another and younger lady resumed the theme. It was my beautiful
girl of the little parlor.

"Oh, Madame Joyeuse was a fool!" she exclaimed, "but there was really
much sound sense, after all, in the opinion of Eugenie Salsafette.
She was a very beautiful and painfully modest young lady, who thought
the ordinary mode of habiliment indecent, and wished to dress
herself, always, by getting outside instead of inside of her clothes.
It is a thing very easily done, after all. You have only to do so --
and then so -- so -- so -- and then so -- so -- so -- and then so --
so -- and then-

"Mon dieu! Ma'm'selle Salsafette!" here cried a dozen voices at once.
"What are you about? -- forbear! -- that is sufficient! -- we see,
very plainly, how it is done! -- hold! hold!" and several persons
were already leaping from their seats to withhold Ma'm'selle
Salsafette from putting herself upon a par with the Medicean Venus,
when the point was very effectually and suddenly accomplished by a
series of loud screams, or yells, from some portion of the main body
of the chateau.

My nerves were very much affected, indeed, by these yells; but the
rest of the company I really pitied. I never saw any set of
reasonable people so thoroughly frightened in my life. They all grew
as pale as so many corpses, and, shrinking within their seats, sat
quivering and gibbering with terror, and listening for a repetition
of the sound. It came again -- louder and seemingly nearer -- and
then a third time very loud, and then a fourth time with a vigor
evidently diminished. At this apparent dying away of the noise, the
spirits of the company were immediately regained, and all was life
and anecdote as before. I now ventured to inquire the cause of the

"A mere bagtelle," said Monsieur Maillard. "We are used to these
things, and care really very little about them. The lunatics, every
now and then, get up a howl in concert; one starting another, as is
sometimes the case with a bevy of dogs at night. It occasionally
happens, however, that the concerto yells are succeeded by a
simultaneous effort at breaking loose, when, of course, some little
danger is to be apprehended."

"And how many have you in charge?"

"At present we have not more than ten, altogether."

"Principally females, I presume?"

"Oh, no -- every one of them men, and stout fellows, too, I can tell

"Indeed! I have always understood that the majority of lunatics were
of the gentler sex."

"It is generally so, but not always. Some time ago, there were about
twenty-seven patients here; and, of that number, no less than
eighteen were women; but, lately, matters have changed very much, as
you see."

"Yes -- have changed very much, as you see," here interrupted the
gentleman who had broken the shins of Ma'm'selle Laplace.

"Yes -- have changed very much, as you see!" chimed in the whole
company at once.

"Hold your tongues, every one of you!" said my host, in a great rage.
Whereupon the whole company maintained a dead silence for nearly a
minute. As for one lady, she obeyed Monsieur Maillard to the letter,
and thrusting out her tongue, which was an excessively long one, held
it very resignedly, with both hands, until the end of the

"And this gentlewoman," said I, to Monsieur Maillard, bending over
and addressing him in a whisper -- "this good lady who has just
spoken, and who gives us the cock-a-doodle-de-doo -- she, I presume,
is harmless -- quite harmless, eh?"

"Harmless!" ejaculated he, in unfeigned surprise, "why -- why, what
can you mean?"

"Only slightly touched?" said I, touching my head. "I take it for
granted that she is not particularly not dangerously affected, eh?"

"Mon dieu! what is it you imagine? This lady, my particular old
friend Madame Joyeuse, is as absolutely sane as myself. She has her
little eccentricities, to be sure -- but then, you know, all old
women -- all very old women -- are more or less eccentric!"

"To be sure," said I, -- "to be sure -- and then the rest of these
ladies and gentlemen-"

"Are my friends and keepers," interupted Monsieur Maillard, drawing
himself up with hauteur, -- "my very good friends and assistants."

"What! all of them?" I asked, -- "the women and all?"

"Assuredly," he said, -- "we could not do at all without the women;
they are the best lunatic nurses in the world; they have a way of
their own, you know; their bright eyes have a marvellous effect; --
something like the fascination of the snake, you know."

"To be sure," said I, -- "to be sure! They behave a little odd, eh?
-- they are a little queer, eh? -- don't you think so?"

"Odd! -- queer! -- why, do you really think so? We are not very
prudish, to be sure, here in the South -- do pretty much as we please
-- enjoy life, and all that sort of thing, you know-"

"To be sure," said I, -- "to be sure."

And then, perhaps, this Clos de Vougeot is a little heady, you know
-- a little strong -- you understand, eh?"

"To be sure," said I, -- "to be sure. By the bye, Monsieur, did I
understand you to say that the system you have adopted, in place of
the celebrated soothing system, was one of very rigorous severity?"

"By no means. Our confinement is necessarily close; but the treatment
-- the medical treatment, I mean -- is rather agreeable to the
patients than otherwise."

"And the new system is one of your own invention?"

"Not altogether. Some portions of it are referable to Professor Tarr,
of whom you have, necessarily, heard; and, again, there are
modifications in my plan which I am happy to acknowledge as belonging
of right to the celebrated Fether, with whom, if I mistake not, you
have the honor of an intimate acquaintance."

"I am quite ashamed to confess," I replied, "that I have never even
heard the names of either gentleman before."

"Good heavens!" ejaculated my host, drawing back his chair abruptly,
and uplifting his hands. "I surely do not hear you aright! You did
not intend to say, eh? that you had never heard either of the learned
Doctor Tarr, or of the celebrated Professor Fether?"

"I am forced to acknowledge my ignorance," I replied; "but the truth
should be held inviolate above all things. Nevertheless, I feel
humbled to the dust, not to be acquainted with the works of these, no
doubt, extraordinary men. I will seek out their writings forthwith,
and peruse them with deliberate care. Monsieur Maillard, you have
really -- I must confess it -- you have really -- made me ashamed of

And this was the fact.

"Say no more, my good young friend," he said kindly, pressing my
hand, -- "join me now in a glass of Sauterne."

We drank. The company followed our example without stint. They
chatted -- they jested -- they laughed -- they perpetrated a thousand
absurdities -- the fiddles shrieked -- the drum row-de-dowed -- the
trombones bellowed like so many brazen bulls of Phalaris -- and the
whole scene, growing gradually worse and worse, as the wines gained
the ascendancy, became at length a sort of pandemonium in petto. In
the meantime, Monsieur Maillard and myself, with some bottles of
Sauterne and Vougeot between us, continued our conversation at the
top of the voice. A word spoken in an ordinary key stood no more
chance of being heard than the voice of a fish from the bottom of
Niagra Falls.

"And, sir," said I, screaming in his ear, "you mentioned something
before dinner about the danger incurred in the old system of
soothing. How is that?"

"Yes," he replied, "there was, occasionally, very great danger
indeed. There is no accounting for the caprices of madmen; and, in my
opinion as well as in that of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether, it is
never safe to permit them to run at large unattended. A lunatic may
be 'soothed,' as it is called, for a time, but, in the end, he is
very apt to become obstreperous. His cunning, too, is proverbial and
great. If he has a project in view, he conceals his design with a
marvellous wisdom; and the dexterity with which he counterfeits
sanity, presents, to the metaphysician, one of the most singular
problems in the study of mind. When a madman appears thoroughly sane,
indeed, it is high time to put him in a straitjacket."

"But the danger, my dear sir, of which you were speaking, in your own
experience -- during your control of this house -- have you had
practical reason to think liberty hazardous in the case of a

"Here? -- in my own experience? -- why, I may say, yes. For example:
-- no very long while ago, a singular circumstance occurred in this
very house. The 'soothing system,' you know, was then in operation,
and the patients were at large. They behaved remarkably
well-especially so, any one of sense might have known that some
devilish scheme was brewing from that particular fact, that the
fellows behaved so remarkably well. And, sure enough, one fine
morning the keepers found themselves pinioned hand and foot, and
thrown into the cells, where they were attended, as if they were the
lunatics, by the lunatics themselves, who had usurped the offices of
the keepers."

"You don't tell me so! I never heard of any thing so absurd in my

"Fact -- it all came to pass by means of a stupid fellow -- a lunatic
-- who, by some means, had taken it into his head that he had
invented a better system of government than any ever heard of before
-- of lunatic government, I mean. He wished to give his invention a
trial, I suppose, and so he persuaded the rest of the patients to
join him in a conspiracy for the overthrow of the reigning powers."

"And he really succeeded?"

"No doubt of it. The keepers and kept were soon made to exchange
places. Not that exactly either -- for the madmen had been free, but
the keepers were shut up in cells forthwith, and treated, I am sorry
to say, in a very cavalier manner."

"But I presume a counter-revolution was soon effected. This condition
of things could not have long existed. The country people in the
neighborhood-visitors coming to see the establishment -- would have
given the alarm."

"There you are out. The head rebel was too cunning for that. He
admitted no visitors at all -- with the exception, one day, of a very
stupid-looking young gentleman of whom he had no reason to be afraid.
He let him in to see the place -- just by way of variety, -- to have
a little fun with him. As soon as he had gammoned him sufficiently,
he let him out, and sent him about his business."

"And how long, then, did the madmen reign?"

"Oh, a very long time, indeed -- a month certainly -- how much longer
I can't precisely say. In the meantime, the lunatics had a jolly
season of it -- that you may swear. They doffed their own shabby
clothes, and made free with the family wardrobe and jewels. The
cellars of the chateau were well stocked with wine; and these madmen
are just the devils that know how to drink it. They lived well, I can
tell you."

"And the treatment -- what was the particular species of treatment
which the leader of the rebels put into operation?"

"Why, as for that, a madman is not necessarily a fool, as I have
already observed; and it is my honest opinion that his treatment was
a much better treatment than that which it superseded. It was a very
capital system indeed -- simple -- neat -- no trouble at all -- in

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