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Wieland; or The Transformation, An American Tale by Charles Brockden Brown

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An American Tale

by Charles Brockden Brown

From Virtue's blissful paths away
The double-tongued are sure to stray;
Good is a forth-right journey still,
And mazy paths but lead to ill.


The following Work is delivered to the world as the first of
a series of performances, which the favorable reception of this
will induce the Writer to publish. His purpose is neither
selfish nor temporary, but aims at the illustration of some
important branches of the moral constitution of man. Whether
this tale will be classed with the ordinary or frivolous sources
of amusement, or be ranked with the few productions whose
usefulness secures to them a lasting reputation, the reader must
be permitted to decide.

The incidents related are extraordinary and rare. Some of
them, perhaps, approach as nearly to the nature of miracles as
can be done by that which is not truly miraculous. It is hoped
that intelligent readers will not disapprove of the manner in
which appearances are solved, but that the solution will be
found to correspond with the known principles of human nature.
The power which the principal person is said to possess can
scarcely be denied to be real. It must be acknowledged to be
extremely rare; but no fact, equally uncommon, is supported by
the same strength of historical evidence.

Some readers may think the conduct of the younger Wieland
impossible. In support of its possibility the Writer must
appeal to Physicians and to men conversant with the latent
springs and occasional perversions of the human mind. It will
not be objected that the instances of similar delusion are rare,
because it is the business of moral painters to exhibit their
subject in its most instructive and memorable forms. If history
furnishes one parallel fact, it is a sufficient vindication of
the Writer; but most readers will probably recollect an
authentic case, remarkably similar to that of Wieland.

It will be necessary to add, that this narrative is
addressed, in an epistolary form, by the Lady whose story it
contains, to a small number of friends, whose curiosity, with
regard to it, had been greatly awakened. It may likewise be
mentioned, that these events took place between the conclusion
of the French and the beginning of the revolutionary war. The
memoirs of Carwin, alluded to at the conclusion of the work,
will be published or suppressed according to the reception which
is given to the present attempt.

C. B. B.
September 3, 1798.

Chapter I

I feel little reluctance in complying with your request. You
know not fully the cause of my sorrows. You are a stranger to
the depth of my distresses. Hence your efforts at consolation
must necessarily fail. Yet the tale that I am going to tell is
not intended as a claim upon your sympathy. In the midst of my
despair, I do not disdain to contribute what little I can to the
benefit of mankind. I acknowledge your right to be informed of
the events that have lately happened in my family. Make what
use of the tale you shall think proper. If it be communicated
to the world, it will inculcate the duty of avoiding deceit. It
will exemplify the force of early impressions, and show the
immeasurable evils that flow from an erroneous or imperfect

My state is not destitute of tranquillity. The sentiment
that dictates my feelings is not hope. Futurity has no power
over my thoughts. To all that is to come I am perfectly
indifferent. With regard to myself, I have nothing more to
fear. Fate has done its worst. Henceforth, I am callous to

I address no supplication to the Deity. The power that
governs the course of human affairs has chosen his path. The
decree that ascertained the condition of my life, admits of no
recal. No doubt it squares with the maxims of eternal equity.
That is neither to be questioned nor denied by me. It suffices
that the past is exempt from mutation. The storm that tore up
our happiness, and changed into dreariness and desert the
blooming scene of our existence, is lulled into grim repose; but
not until the victim was transfixed and mangled; till every
obstacle was dissipated by its rage; till every remnant of good
was wrested from our grasp and exterminated.

How will your wonder, and that of your companions, be excited
by my story! Every sentiment will yield to your amazement. If
my testimony were without corroborations, you would reject it as
incredible. The experience of no human being can furnish a
parallel: That I, beyond the rest of mankind, should be
reserved for a destiny without alleviation, and without example!
Listen to my narrative, and then say what it is that has made me
deserve to be placed on this dreadful eminence, if, indeed,
every faculty be not suspended in wonder that I am still alive,
and am able to relate it.
My father's ancestry was noble on the paternal side; but his
mother was the daughter of a merchant. My grand-father was a
younger brother, and a native of Saxony. He was placed, when he
had reached the suitable age, at a German college. During the
vacations, he employed himself in traversing the neighbouring
territory. On one occasion it was his fortune to visit Hamburg.
He formed an acquaintance with Leonard Weise, a merchant of that
city, and was a frequent guest at his house. The merchant had
an only daughter, for whom his guest speedily contracted an
affection; and, in spite of parental menaces and prohibitions,
he, in due season, became her husband.

By this act he mortally offended his relations.
Thenceforward he was entirely disowned and rejected by them.
They refused to contribute any thing to his support. All
intercourse ceased, and he received from them merely that
treatment to which an absolute stranger, or detested enemy,
would be entitled.

He found an asylum in the house of his new father, whose
temper was kind, and whose pride was flattered by this alliance.
The nobility of his birth was put in the balance against his
poverty. Weise conceived himself, on the whole, to have acted
with the highest discretion, in thus disposing of his child. My
grand-father found it incumbent on him to search out some mode
of independent subsistence. His youth had been eagerly devoted
to literature and music. These had hitherto been cultivated
merely as sources of amusement. They were now converted into
the means of gain. At this period there were few works of taste
in the Saxon dialect. My ancestor may be considered as the
founder of the German Theatre. The modern poet of the same name
is sprung from the same family, and, perhaps, surpasses but
little, in the fruitfulness of his invention, or the soundness
of his taste, the elder Wieland. His life was spent in the
composition of sonatas and dramatic pieces. They were not
unpopular, but merely afforded him a scanty subsistence. He
died in the bloom of his life, and was quickly followed to the
grave by his wife. Their only child was taken under the
protection of the merchant. At an early age he was apprenticed
to a London trader, and passed seven years of mercantile

My father was not fortunate in the character of him under
whose care he was now placed. He was treated with rigor, and
full employment was provided for every hour of his time. His
duties were laborious and mechanical. He had been educated with
a view to this profession, and, therefore, was not tormented
with unsatisfied desires. He did not hold his present
occupations in abhorrence, because they withheld him from paths
more flowery and more smooth, but he found in unintermitted
labour, and in the sternness of his master, sufficient occasions
for discontent. No opportunities of recreation were allowed
him. He spent all his time pent up in a gloomy apartment, or
traversing narrow and crowded streets. His food was coarse, and
his lodging humble.
His heart gradually contracted a habit of morose and gloomy
reflection. He could not accurately define what was wanting to
his happiness. He was not tortured by comparisons drawn between
his own situation and that of others. His state was such as
suited his age and his views as to fortune. He did not imagine
himself treated with extraordinary or unjustifiable rigor. In
this respect he supposed the condition of others, bound like
himself to mercantile service, to resemble his own; yet every
engagement was irksome, and every hour tedious in its lapse.

In this state of mind he chanced to light upon a book written
by one of the teachers of the Albigenses, or French Protestants.
He entertained no relish for books, and was wholly unconscious
of any power they possessed to delight or instruct. This volume
had lain for years in a corner of his garret, half buried in
dust and rubbish. He had marked it as it lay; had thrown it, as
his occasions required, from one spot to another; but had felt
no inclination to examine its contents, or even to inquire what
was the subject of which it treated.

One Sunday afternoon, being induced to retire for a few
minutes to his garret, his eye was attracted by a page of this
book, which, by some accident, had been opened and placed full
in his view. He was seated on the edge of his bed, and was
employed in repairing a rent in some part of his clothes. His
eyes were not confined to his work, but occasionally wandering,
lighted at length upon the page. The words "Seek and ye shall
find," were those that first offered themselves to his notice.
His curiosity was roused by these so far as to prompt him to
proceed. As soon as he finished his work, he took up the book
and turned to the first page. The further he read, the more
inducement he found to continue, and he regretted the decline of
the light which obliged him for the present to close it.

The book contained an exposition of the doctrine of the sect
of Camissards, and an historical account of its origin. His
mind was in a state peculiarly fitted for the reception of
devotional sentiments. The craving which had haunted him was
now supplied with an object. His mind was at no loss for a
theme of meditation. On days of business, he rose at the dawn,
and retired to his chamber not till late at night. He now
supplied himself with candles, and employed his nocturnal and
Sunday hours in studying this book. It, of course, abounded
with allusions to the Bible. All its conclusions were deduced
from the sacred text. This was the fountain, beyond which it
was unnecessary to trace the stream of religious truth; but it
was his duty to trace it thus far.

A Bible was easily procured, and he ardently entered on the
study of it. His understanding had received a particular
direction. All his reveries were fashioned in the same mould.
His progress towards the formation of his creed was rapid.
Every fact and sentiment in this book were viewed through a
medium which the writings of the Camissard apostle had
suggested. His constructions of the text were hasty, and formed
on a narrow scale. Every thing was viewed in a disconnected
position. One action and one precept were not employed to
illustrate and restrict the meaning of another. Hence arose a
thousand scruples to which he had hitherto been a stranger. He
was alternately agitated by fear and by ecstacy. He imagined
himself beset by the snares of a spiritual foe, and that his
security lay in ceaseless watchfulness and prayer.

His morals, which had never been loose, were now modelled by
a stricter standard. The empire of religious duty extended
itself to his looks, gestures, and phrases. All levities of
speech, and negligences of behaviour, were proscribed. His air
was mournful and contemplative. He laboured to keep alive a
sentiment of fear, and a belief of the awe-creating presence of
the Deity. Ideas foreign to this were sedulously excluded. To
suffer their intrusion was a crime against the Divine Majesty
inexpiable but by days and weeks of the keenest agonies.

No material variation had occurred in the lapse of two years.
Every day confirmed him in his present modes of thinking and
acting. It was to be expected that the tide of his emotions
would sometimes recede, that intervals of despondency and doubt
would occur; but these gradually were more rare, and of shorter
duration; and he, at last, arrived at a state considerably
uniform in this respect.

His apprenticeship was now almost expired. On his arrival of
age he became entitled, by the will of my grand-father, to a
small sum. This sum would hardly suffice to set him afloat as
a trader in his present situation, and he had nothing to expect
from the generosity of his master. Residence in England had,
besides, become almost impossible, on account of his religious
tenets. In addition to these motives for seeking a new
habitation, there was another of the most imperious and
irresistable necessity. He had imbibed an opinion that it was
his duty to disseminate the truths of the gospel among the
unbelieving nations. He was terrified at first by the perils
and hardships to which the life of a missionary is exposed.
This cowardice made him diligent in the invention of objections
and excuses; but he found it impossible wholly to shake off the
belief that such was the injunction of his duty. The belief,
after every new conflict with his passions, acquired new
strength; and, at length, he formed a resolution of complying
with what he deemed the will of heaven.

The North-American Indians naturally presented themselves as
the first objects for this species of benevolence. As soon as
his servitude expired, he converted his little fortune into
money, and embarked for Philadelphia. Here his fears were
revived, and a nearer survey of savage manners once more shook
his resolution. For a while he relinquished his purpose, and
purchasing a farm on Schuylkill, within a few miles of the city,
set himself down to the cultivation of it. The cheapness of
land, and the service of African slaves, which were then in
general use, gave him who was poor in Europe all the advantages
of wealth. He passed fourteen years in a thrifty and laborious
manner. In this time new objects, new employments, and new
associates appeared to have nearly obliterated the devout
impressions of his youth. He now became acquainted with a woman
of a meek and quiet disposition, and of slender acquirements
like himself. He proffered his hand and was accepted.

His previous industry had now enabled him to dispense with
personal labour, and direct attention to his own concerns. He
enjoyed leisure, and was visited afresh by devotional
contemplation. The reading of the scriptures, and other
religious books, became once more his favorite employment. His
ancient belief relative to the conversion of the savage tribes,
was revived with uncommon energy. To the former obstacles were
now added the pleadings of parental and conjugal love. The
struggle was long and vehement; but his sense of duty would not
be stifled or enfeebled, and finally triumphed over every

His efforts were attended with no permanent success. His
exhortations had sometimes a temporary power, but more
frequently were repelled with insult and derision. In pursuit
of this object he encountered the most imminent perils, and
underwent incredible fatigues, hunger, sickness, and solitude.
The licence of savage passion, and the artifices of his depraved
countrymen, all opposed themselves to his progress. His courage
did not forsake him till there appeared no reasonable ground to
hope for success. He desisted not till his heart was relieved
from the supposed obligation to persevere. With his
constitution somewhat decayed, he at length returned to his
family. An interval of tranquillity succeeded. He was frugal,
regular, and strict in the performance of domestic duties. He
allied himself with no sect, because he perfectly agreed with
none. Social worship is that by which they are all
distinguished; but this article found no place in his creed. He
rigidly interpreted that precept which enjoins us, when we
worship, to retire into solitude, and shut out every species of
society. According to him devotion was not only a silent
office, but must be performed alone. An hour at noon, and an
hour at midnight were thus appropriated.

At the distance of three hundred yards from his house, on the
top of a rock whose sides were steep, rugged, and encumbered
with dwarf cedars and stony asperities, he built what to a
common eye would have seemed a summer-house. The eastern verge
of this precipice was sixty feet above the river which flowed at
its foot. The view before it consisted of a transparent
current, fluctuating and rippling in a rocky channel, and
bounded by a rising scene of cornfields and orchards. The
edifice was slight and airy. It was no more than a circular
area, twelve feet in diameter, whose flooring was the rock,
cleared of moss and shrubs, and exactly levelled, edged by
twelve Tuscan columns, and covered by an undulating dome. My
father furnished the dimensions and outlines, but allowed the
artist whom he employed to complete the structure on his own
plan. It was without seat, table, or ornament of any kind.

This was the temple of his Deity. Twice in twenty-four hours
he repaired hither, unaccompanied by any human being. Nothing
but physical inability to move was allowed to obstruct or
postpone this visit. He did not exact from his family
compliance with his example. Few men, equally sincere in their
faith, were as sparing in their censures and restrictions, with
respect to the conduct of others, as my father. The character
of my mother was no less devout; but her education had
habituated her to a different mode of worship. The loneliness
of their dwelling prevented her from joining any established
congregation; but she was punctual in the offices of prayer, and
in the performance of hymns to her Saviour, after the manner of
the disciples of Zinzendorf. My father refused to interfere in
her arrangements. His own system was embraced not, accurately
speaking, because it was the best, but because it had been
expressly prescribed to him. Other modes, if practised by other
persons, might be equally acceptable.

His deportment to others was full of charity and mildness.
A sadness perpetually overspread his features, but was unmingled
with sternness or discontent. The tones of his voice, his
gestures, his steps were all in tranquil unison. His conduct
was characterised by a certain forbearance and humility, which
secured the esteem of those to whom his tenets were most
obnoxious. They might call him a fanatic and a dreamer, but
they could not deny their veneration to his invincible candour
and invariable integrity. His own belief of rectitude was the
foundation of his happiness. This, however, was destined to
find an end.

Suddenly the sadness that constantly attended him was
deepened. Sighs, and even tears, sometimes escaped him. To the
expostulations of his wife he seldom answered any thing. When
he designed to be communicative, he hinted that his peace of
mind was flown, in consequence of deviation from his duty. A
command had been laid upon him, which he had delayed to perform.
He felt as if a certain period of hesitation and reluctance had
been allowed him, but that this period was passed. He was no
longer permitted to obey. The duty assigned to him was
transferred, in consequence of his disobedience, to another, and
all that remained was to endure the penalty.

He did not describe this penalty. It appeared to be nothing
more for some time than a sense of wrong. This was sufficiently
acute, and was aggravated by the belief that his offence was
incapable of expiation. No one could contemplate the agonies
which he seemed to suffer without the deepest compassion. Time,
instead of lightening the burthen, appeared to add to it. At
length he hinted to his wife, that his end was near. His
imagination did not prefigure the mode or the time of his
decease, but was fraught with an incurable persuasion that his
death was at hand. He was likewise haunted by the belief that
the kind of death that awaited him was strange and terrible.
His anticipations were thus far vague and indefinite; but they
sufficed to poison every moment of his being, and devote him to
ceaseless anguish.

Chapter II

Early in the morning of a sultry day in August, he left
Mettingen, to go to the city. He had seldom passed a day from
home since his return from the shores of the Ohio. Some urgent
engagements at this time existed, which would not admit of
further delay. He returned in the evening, but appeared to be
greatly oppressed with fatigue. His silence and dejection were
likewise in a more than ordinary degree conspicuous. My
mother's brother, whose profession was that of a surgeon,
chanced to spend this night at our house. It was from him that
I have frequently received an exact account of the mournful
catastrophe that followed.

As the evening advanced, my father's inquietudes increased.
He sat with his family as usual, but took no part in their
conversation. He appeared fully engrossed by his own
reflections. Occasionally his countenance exhibited tokens of
alarm; he gazed stedfastly and wildly at the ceiling; and the
exertions of his companions were scarcely sufficient to
interrupt his reverie. On recovering from these fits, he
expressed no surprize; but pressing his hand to his head,
complained, in a tremulous and terrified tone, that his brain
was scorched to cinders. He would then betray marks of
insupportable anxiety.

My uncle perceived, by his pulse, that he was indisposed, but
in no alarming degree, and ascribed appearances chiefly to the
workings of his mind. He exhorted him to recollection and
composure, but in vain. At the hour of repose he readily
retired to his chamber. At the persuasion of my mother he even
undressed and went to bed. Nothing could abate his
restlessness. He checked her tender expostulations with some
sternness. "Be silent," said he, "for that which I feel there
is but one cure, and that will shortly come. You can help me
nothing. Look to your own condition, and pray to God to
strengthen you under the calamities that await you." "What am
I to fear?" she answered. "What terrible disaster is it that
you think of?" "Peace--as yet I know it not myself, but come it
will, and shortly." She repeated her inquiries and doubts; but
he suddenly put an end to the discourse, by a stern command to
be silent.

She had never before known him in this mood. Hitherto all
was benign in his deportment. Her heart was pierced with sorrow
at the contemplation of this change. She was utterly unable to
account for it, or to figure to herself the species of disaster
that was menaced.

Contrary to custom, the lamp, instead of being placed on the
hearth, was left upon the table. Over it against the wall there
hung a small clock, so contrived as to strike a very hard stroke
at the end of every sixth hour. That which was now approaching
was the signal for retiring to the fane at which he addressed
his devotions. Long habit had occasioned him to be always awake
at this hour, and the toll was instantly obeyed.

Now frequent and anxious glances were cast at the clock. Not
a single movement of the index appeared to escape his notice.
As the hour verged towards twelve his anxiety visibly augmented.
The trepidations of my mother kept pace with those of her
husband; but she was intimidated into silence. All that was
left to her was to watch every change of his features, and give
vent to her sympathy in tears.

At length the hour was spent, and the clock tolled. The
sound appeared to communicate a shock to every part of my
father's frame. He rose immediately, and threw over himself a
loose gown. Even this office was performed with difficulty, for
his joints trembled, and his teeth chattered with dismay. At
this hour his duty called him to the rock, and my mother
naturally concluded that it was thither he intended to repair.
Yet these incidents were so uncommon, as to fill her with
astonishment and foreboding. She saw him leave the room, and
heard his steps as they hastily descended the stairs. She half
resolved to rise and pursue him, but the wildness of the scheme
quickly suggested itself. He was going to a place whither no
power on earth could induce him to suffer an attendant.

The window of her chamber looked toward the rock. The
atmosphere was clear and calm, but the edifice could not be
discovered at that distance through the dusk. My mother's
anxiety would not allow her to remain where she was. She rose,
and seated herself at the window. She strained her sight to get
a view of the dome, and of the path that led to it. The first
painted itself with sufficient distinctness on her fancy, but
was undistinguishable by the eye from the rocky mass on which it
was erected. The second could be imperfectly seen; but her
husband had already passed, or had taken a different direction.

What was it that she feared? Some disaster impended over her
husband or herself. He had predicted evils, but professed
himself ignorant of what nature they were. When were they to
come? Was this night, or this hour to witness the
accomplishment? She was tortured with impatience, and
uncertainty. All her fears were at present linked to his
person, and she gazed at the clock, with nearly as much
eagerness as my father had done, in expectation of the next

An half hour passed away in this state of suspence. Her eyes
were fixed upon the rock; suddenly it was illuminated. A light
proceeding from the edifice, made every part of the scene
visible. A gleam diffused itself over the intermediate space,
and instantly a loud report, like the explosion of a mine,
followed. She uttered an involuntary shriek, but the new sounds
that greeted her ear, quickly conquered her surprise. They were
piercing shrieks, and uttered without intermission. The gleams
which had diffused themselves far and wide were in a moment
withdrawn, but the interior of the edifice was filled with rays.

The first suggestion was that a pistol was discharged, and
that the structure was on fire. She did not allow herself time
to meditate a second thought, but rushed into the entry and
knocked loudly at the door of her brother's chamber. My uncle
had been previously roused by the noise, and instantly flew to
the window. He also imagined what he saw to be fire. The loud
and vehement shrieks which succeeded the first explosion, seemed
to be an invocation of succour. The incident was inexplicable;
but he could not fail to perceive the propriety of hastening to
the spot. He was unbolting the door, when his sister's voice
was heard on the outside conjuring him to come forth.

He obeyed the summons with all the speed in his power. He
stopped not to question her, but hurried down stairs and across
the meadow which lay between the house and the rock. The
shrieks were no longer to be heard; but a blazing light was
clearly discernible between the columns of the temple.
Irregular steps, hewn in the stone, led him to the summit. On
three sides, this edifice touched the very verge of the cliff.
On the fourth side, which might be regarded as the front, there
was an area of small extent, to which the rude staircase
conducted you. My uncle speedily gained this spot. His
strength was for a moment exhausted by his haste. He paused to
rest himself. Meanwhile he bent the most vigilant attention
towards the object before him.

Within the columns he beheld what he could no better
describe, than by saying that it resembled a cloud impregnated
with light. It had the brightness of flame, but was without its
upward motion. It did not occupy the whole area, and rose but
a few feet above the floor. No part of the building was on
fire. This appearance was astonishing. He approached the
temple. As he went forward the light retired, and, when he put
his feet within the apartment, utterly vanished. The suddenness
of this transition increased the darkness that succeeded in a
tenfold degree. Fear and wonder rendered him powerless. An
occurrence like this, in a place assigned to devotion, was
adapted to intimidate the stoutest heart.

His wandering thoughts were recalled by the groans of one
near him. His sight gradually recovered its power, and he was
able to discern my father stretched on the floor. At that
moment, my mother and servants arrived with a lanthorn, and
enabled my uncle to examine more closely this scene. My father,
when he left the house, besides a loose upper vest and slippers,
wore a shirt and drawers. Now he was naked, his skin throughout
the greater part of his body was scorched and bruised. His
right arm exhibited marks as of having been struck by some heavy
body. His clothes had been removed, and it was not immediately
perceived that they were reduced to ashes. His slippers and his
hair were untouched.

He was removed to his chamber, and the requisite attention
paid to his wounds, which gradually became more painful. A
mortification speedily shewed itself in the arm, which had been
most hurt. Soon after, the other wounded parts exhibited the
like appearance.

Immediately subsequent to this disaster, my father seemed
nearly in a state of insensibility. He was passive under every
operation. He scarcely opened his eyes, and was with difficulty
prevailed upon to answer the questions that were put to him. By
his imperfect account, it appeared, that while engaged in silent
orisons, with thoughts full of confusion and anxiety, a faint
gleam suddenly shot athwart the apartment. His fancy
immediately pictured to itself, a person bearing a lamp. It
seemed to come from behind. He was in the act of turning to
examine the visitant, when his right arm received a blow from a
heavy club. At the same instant, a very bright spark was seen
to light upon his clothes. In a moment, the whole was reduced
to ashes. This was the sum of the information which he chose to
give. There was somewhat in his manner that indicated an
imperfect tale. My uncle was inclined to believe that half the
truth had been suppressed.

Meanwhile, the disease thus wonderfully generated, betrayed
more terrible symptoms. Fever and delirium terminated in
lethargic slumber, which, in the course of two hours, gave place
to death. Yet not till insupportable exhalations and crawling
putrefaction had driven from his chamber and the house every one
whom their duty did not detain.

Such was the end of my father. None surely was ever more
mysterious. When we recollect his gloomy anticipations and
unconquerable anxiety; the security from human malice which his
character, the place, and the condition of the times, might be
supposed to confer; the purity and cloudlessness of the
atmosphere, which rendered it impossible that lightning was the
cause; what are the conclusions that we must form?

The prelusive gleam, the blow upon his arm, the fatal spark,
the explosion heard so far, the fiery cloud that environed him,
without detriment to the structure, though composed of
combustible materials, the sudden vanishing of this cloud at my
uncle's approach--what is the inference to be drawn from these
facts? Their truth cannot be doubted. My uncle's testimony is
peculiarly worthy of credit, because no man's temper is more
sceptical, and his belief is unalterably attached to natural

I was at this time a child of six years of age. The
impressions that were then made upon me, can never be effaced.
I was ill qualified to judge respecting what was then passing;
but as I advanced in age, and became more fully acquainted with
these facts, they oftener became the subject of my thoughts.
Their resemblance to recent events revived them with new force
in my memory, and made me more anxious to explain them. Was
this the penalty of disobedience? this the stroke of a
vindictive and invisible hand? Is it a fresh proof that the
Divine Ruler interferes in human affairs, meditates an end,
selects, and commissions his agents, and enforces, by
unequivocal sanctions, submission to his will? Or, was it
merely the irregular expansion of the fluid that imparts warmth
to our heart and our blood, caused by the fatigue of the
preceding day, or flowing, by established laws, from the
condition of his thoughts?*

*A case, in its symptoms exactly parallel to this, is
published in one of the Journals of Florence. See, likewise,
similar cases reported by Messrs. Merille and Muraire, in the
"Journal de Medicine," for February and May, 1783. The
researches of Maffei and Fontana have thrown some light upon
this subject.

Chapter III

The shock which this disastrous occurrence occasioned to my
mother, was the foundation of a disease which carried her, in a
few months, to the grave. My brother and myself were children
at this time, and were now reduced to the condition of orphans.
The property which our parents left was by no means
inconsiderable. It was entrusted to faithful hands, till we
should arrive at a suitable age. Meanwhile, our education was
assigned to a maiden aunt who resided in the city, and whose
tenderness made us in a short time cease to regret that we had
lost a mother.

The years that succeeded were tranquil and happy. Our lives
were molested by few of those cares that are incident to
childhood. By accident more than design, the indulgence and
yielding temper of our aunt was mingled with resolution and
stedfastness. She seldom deviated into either extreme of rigour
or lenity. Our social pleasures were subject to no unreasonable
restraints. We were instructed in most branches of useful
knowledge, and were saved from the corruption and tyranny of
colleges and boarding-schools.

Our companions were chiefly selected from the children of our
neighbours. Between one of these and my brother, there quickly
grew the most affectionate intimacy. Her name was Catharine
Pleyel. She was rich, beautiful, and contrived to blend the
most bewitching softness with the most exuberant vivacity. The
tie by which my brother and she were united, seemed to add force
to the love which I bore her, and which was amply returned.
Between her and myself there was every circumstance tending to
produce and foster friendship. Our sex and age were the same.
We lived within sight of each other's abode. Our tempers were
remarkably congenial, and the superintendants of our education
not only prescribed to us the same pursuits, but allowed us to
cultivate them together.

Every day added strength to the triple bonds that united us.
We gradually withdrew ourselves from the society of others, and
found every moment irksome that was not devoted to each other.
My brother's advance in age made no change in our situation. It
was determined that his profession should be agriculture. His
fortune exempted him from the necessity of personal labour. The
task to be performed by him was nothing more than
superintendance. The skill that was demanded by this was merely
theoretical, and was furnished by casual inspection, or by
closet study. The attention that was paid to this subject did
not seclude him for any long time from us, on whom time had no
other effect than to augment our impatience in the absence of
each other and of him. Our tasks, our walks, our music, were
seldom performed but in each other's company.

It was easy to see that Catharine and my brother were born
for each other. The passion which they mutually entertained
quickly broke those bounds which extreme youth had set to it;
confessions were made or extorted, and their union was postponed
only till my brother had passed his minority. The previous
lapse of two years was constantly and usefully employed.

O my brother! But the task I have set myself let me perform
with steadiness. The felicity of that period was marred by no
gloomy anticipations. The future, like the present, was serene.
Time was supposed to have only new delights in store. I mean
not to dwell on previous incidents longer than is necessary to
illustrate or explain the great events that have since happened.
The nuptial day at length arrived. My brother took possession
of the house in which he was born, and here the long protracted
marriage was solemnized.

My father's property was equally divided between us. A neat
dwelling, situated on the bank of the river, three quarters of
a mile from my brother's, was now occupied by me. These domains
were called, from the name of the first possessor, Mettingen.
I can scarcely account for my refusing to take up my abode with
him, unless it were from a disposition to be an economist of
pleasure. Self-denial, seasonably exercised, is one means of
enhancing our gratifications. I was, beside, desirous of
administering a fund, and regulating an household, of my own.
The short distance allowed us to exchange visits as often as we
pleased. The walk from one mansion to the other was no
undelightful prelude to our interviews. I was sometimes their
visitant, and they, as frequently, were my guests.

Our education had been modelled by no religious standard. We
were left to the guidance of our own understanding, and the
casual impressions which society might make upon us. My
friend's temper, as well as my own, exempted us from much
anxiety on this account. It must not be supposed that we were
without religion, but with us it was the product of lively
feelings, excited by reflection on our own happiness, and by the
grandeur of external nature. We sought not a basis for our
faith, in the weighing of proofs, and the dissection of creeds.
Our devotion was a mixed and casual sentiment, seldom verbally
expressed, or solicitously sought, or carefully retained. In
the midst of present enjoyment, no thought was bestowed on the
future. As a consolation in calamity religion is dear. But
calamity was yet at a distance, and its only tendency was to
heighten enjoyments which needed not this addition to satisfy
every craving.

My brother's situation was somewhat different. His
deportment was grave, considerate, and thoughtful. I will not
say whether he was indebted to sublimer views for this
disposition. Human life, in his opinion, was made up of
changeable elements, and the principles of duty were not easily
unfolded. The future, either as anterior, or subsequent to
death, was a scene that required some preparation and provision
to be made for it. These positions we could not deny, but what
distinguished him was a propensity to ruminate on these truths.
The images that visited us were blithsome and gay, but those
with which he was most familiar were of an opposite hue. They
did not generate affliction and fear, but they diffused over his
behaviour a certain air of forethought and sobriety. The
principal effect of this temper was visible in his features and
tones. These, in general, bespoke a sort of thrilling
melancholy. I scarcely ever knew him to laugh. He never
accompanied the lawless mirth of his companions with more than
a smile, but his conduct was the same as ours.

He partook of our occupations and amusements with a zeal not
less than ours, but of a different kind. The diversity in our
temper was never the parent of discord, and was scarcely a topic
of regret. The scene was variegated, but not tarnished or
disordered by it. It hindered the element in which we moved
from stagnating. Some agitation and concussion is requisite to
the due exercise of human understanding. In his studies, he
pursued an austerer and more arduous path. He was much
conversant with the history of religious opinions, and took
pains to ascertain their validity. He deemed it indispensable
to examine the ground of his belief, to settle the relation
between motives and actions, the criterion of merit, and the
kinds and properties of evidence.

There was an obvious resemblance between him and my father,
in their conceptions of the importance of certain topics, and in
the light in which the vicissitudes of human life were
accustomed to be viewed. Their characters were similar, but the
mind of the son was enriched by science, and embellished with

The temple was no longer assigned to its ancient use. From
an Italian adventurer, who erroneously imagined that he could
find employment for his skill, and sale for his sculptures in
America, my brother had purchased a bust of Cicero. He
professed to have copied this piece from an antique dug up with
his own hands in the environs of Modena. Of the truth of his
assertions we were not qualified to judge; but the marble was
pure and polished, and we were contented to admire the
performance, without waiting for the sanction of connoisseurs.
We hired the same artist to hew a suitable pedestal from a
neighbouring quarry. This was placed in the temple, and the
bust rested upon it. Opposite to this was a harpsichord,
sheltered by a temporary roof from the weather. This was the
place of resort in the evenings of summer. Here we sung, and
talked, and read, and occasionally banqueted. Every joyous and
tender scene most dear to my memory, is connected with this
edifice. Here the performances of our musical and poetical
ancestor were rehearsed. Here my brother's children received
the rudiments of their education; here a thousand conversations,
pregnant with delight and improvement, took place; and here the
social affections were accustomed to expand, and the tear of
delicious sympathy to be shed.

My brother was an indefatigable student. The authors whom he
read were numerous, but the chief object of his veneration was
Cicero. He was never tired of conning and rehearsing his
productions. To understand them was not sufficient. He was
anxious to discover the gestures and cadences with which they
ought to be delivered. He was very scrupulous in selecting a
true scheme of pronunciation for the Latin tongue, and in
adapting it to the words of his darling writer. His favorite
occupation consisted in embellishing his rhetoric with all the
proprieties of gesticulation and utterance.

Not contented with this, he was diligent in settling and
restoring the purity of the text. For this end, he collected
all the editions and commentaries that could be procured, and
employed months of severe study in exploring and comparing them.
He never betrayed more satisfaction than when he made a
discovery of this kind.

It was not till the addition of Henry Pleyel, my friend's
only brother, to our society, that his passion for Roman
eloquence was countenanced and fostered by a sympathy of tastes.
This young man had been some years in Europe. We had separated
at a very early age, and he was now returned to spend the
remainder of his days among us.

Our circle was greatly enlivened by the accession of a new
member. His conversation abounded with novelty. His gaiety was
almost boisterous, but was capable of yielding to a grave
deportment when the occasion required it. His discernment was
acute, but he was prone to view every object merely as supplying
materials for mirth. His conceptions were ardent but ludicrous,
and his memory, aided, as he honestly acknowledged, by his
invention, was an inexhaustible fund of entertainment.

His residence was at the same distance below the city as ours
was above, but there seldom passed a day without our being
favoured with a visit. My brother and he were endowed with the
same attachment to the Latin writers; and Pleyel was not behind
his friend in his knowledge of the history and metaphysics of
religion. Their creeds, however, were in many respects
opposite. Where one discovered only confirmations of his faith,
the other could find nothing but reasons for doubt. Moral
necessity, and calvinistic inspiration, were the props on which
my brother thought proper to repose. Pleyel was the champion of
intellectual liberty, and rejected all guidance but that of his
reason. Their discussions were frequent, but, being managed
with candour as well as with skill, they were always listened to
by us with avidity and benefit.

Pleyel, like his new friends, was fond of music and poetry.
Henceforth our concerts consisted of two violins, an
harpsichord, and three voices. We were frequently reminded how
much happiness depends upon society. This new friend, though,
before his arrival, we were sensible of no vacuity, could not
now be spared. His departure would occasion a void which
nothing could fill, and which would produce insupportable
regret. Even my brother, though his opinions were hourly
assailed, and even the divinity of Cicero contested, was
captivated with his friend, and laid aside some part of his
ancient gravity at Pleyel's approach.

Chapter IV

Six years of uninterrupted happiness had rolled away, since
my brother's marriage. The sound of war had been heard, but it
was at such a distance as to enhance our enjoyment by affording
objects of comparison. The Indians were repulsed on the one
side, and Canada was conquered on the other. Revolutions and
battles, however calamitous to those who occupied the scene,
contributed in some sort to our happiness, by agitating our
minds with curiosity, and furnishing causes of patriotic
exultation. Four children, three of whom were of an age to
compensate, by their personal and mental progress, the cares of
which they had been, at a more helpless age, the objects,
exercised my brother's tenderness. The fourth was a charming
babe that promised to display the image of her mother, and
enjoyed perfect health. To these were added a sweet girl
fourteen years old, who was loved by all of us, with an
affection more than parental.

Her mother's story was a mournful one. She had come hither
from England when this child was an infant, alone, without
friends, and without money. She appeared to have embarked in a
hasty and clandestine manner. She passed three years of
solitude and anguish under my aunt's protection, and died a
martyr to woe; the source of which she could, by no
importunities, be prevailed upon to unfold. Her education and
manners bespoke her to be of no mean birth. Her last moments
were rendered serene, by the assurances she received from my
aunt, that her daughter should experience the same protection
that had been extended to herself.

On my brother's marriage, it was agreed that she should make
a part of his family. I cannot do justice to the attractions of
this girl. Perhaps the tenderness she excited might partly
originate in her personal resemblance to her mother, whose
character and misfortunes were still fresh in our remembrance.
She was habitually pensive, and this circumstance tended to
remind the spectator of her friendless condition; and yet that
epithet was surely misapplied in this case. This being was
cherished by those with whom she now resided, with unspeakable
fondness. Every exertion was made to enlarge and improve her
mind. Her safety was the object of a solicitude that almost
exceeded the bounds of discretion. Our affection indeed could
scarcely transcend her merits. She never met my eye, or
occurred to my reflections, without exciting a kind of
enthusiasm. Her softness, her intelligence, her equanimity,
never shall I see surpassed. I have often shed tears of
pleasure at her approach, and pressed her to my bosom in an
agony of fondness.

While every day was adding to the charms of her person, and
the stores of her mind, there occurred an event which threatened
to deprive us of her. An officer of some rank, who had been
disabled by a wound at Quebec, had employed himself, since the
ratification of peace, in travelling through the colonies. He
remained a considerable period at Philadelphia, but was at last
preparing for his departure. No one had been more frequently
honoured with his visits than Mrs. Baynton, a worthy lady with
whom our family were intimate. He went to her house with a view
to perform a farewell visit, and was on the point of taking his
leave, when I and my young friend entered the apartment. It is
impossible to describe the emotions of the stranger, when he
fixed his eyes upon my companion. He was motionless with
surprise. He was unable to conceal his feelings, but sat
silently gazing at the spectacle before him. At length he
turned to Mrs. Baynton, and more by his looks and gestures than
by words, besought her for an explanation of the scene. He
seized the hand of the girl, who, in her turn, was surprised by
his behaviour, and drawing her forward, said in an eager and
faultering tone, Who is she? whence does she come? what is her

The answers that were given only increased the confusion of
his thoughts. He was successively told, that she was the
daughter of one whose name was Louisa Conway, who arrived among
us at such a time, who sedulously concealed her parentage, and
the motives of her flight, whose incurable griefs had finally
destroyed her, and who had left this child under the protection
of her friends. Having heard the tale, he melted into tears,
eagerly clasped the young lady in his arms, and called himself
her father. When the tumults excited in his breast by this
unlooked-for meeting were somewhat subsided, he gratified our
curiosity by relating the following incidents.

"Miss Conway was the only daughter of a banker in London, who
discharged towards her every duty of an affectionate father. He
had chanced to fall into her company, had been subdued by her
attractions, had tendered her his hand, and been joyfully
accepted both by parent and child. His wife had given him every
proof of the fondest attachment. Her father, who possessed
immense wealth, treated him with distinguished respect,
liberally supplied his wants, and had made one condition of his
consent to their union, a resolution to take up their abode with

"They had passed three years of conjugal felicity, which had
been augmented by the birth of this child; when his professional
duty called him into Germany. It was not without an arduous
struggle, that she was persuaded to relinquish the design of
accompanying him through all the toils and perils of war. No
parting was ever more distressful. They strove to alleviate, by
frequent letters, the evils of their lot. Those of his wife,
breathed nothing but anxiety for his safety, and impatience of
his absence. At length, a new arrangement was made, and he was
obliged to repair from Westphalia to Canada. One advantage
attended this change. It afforded him an opportunity of meeting
his family. His wife anticipated this interview, with no less
rapture than himself. He hurried to London, and the moment he
alighted from the stage-coach, ran with all speed to Mr.
Conway's house.

"It was an house of mourning. His father was overwhelmed
with grief, and incapable of answering his inquiries. The
servants, sorrowful and mute, were equally refractory. He
explored the house, and called on the names of his wife and
daughter, but his summons was fruitless. At length, this new
disaster was explained. Two days before his arrival, his wife's
chamber was found empty. No search, however diligent and
anxious, could trace her steps. No cause could be assigned for
her disappearance. The mother and child had fled away together.

"New exertions were made, her chamber and cabinets were
ransacked, but no vestige was found serving to inform them as to
the motives of her flight, whether it had been voluntary or
otherwise, and in what corner of the kingdom or of the world she
was concealed. Who shall describe the sorrow and amazement of
the husband? His restlessness, his vicissitudes of hope and
fear, and his ultimate despair? His duty called him to America.
He had been in this city, and had frequently passed the door of
the house in which his wife, at that moment, resided. Her
father had not remitted his exertions to elucidate this painful
mystery, but they had failed. This disappointment hastened his
death; in consequence of which, Louisa's father became possessor
of his immense property."

This tale was a copious theme of speculation. A thousand
questions were started and discussed in our domestic circle,
respecting the motives that influenced Mrs. Stuart to abandon
her country. It did not appear that her proceeding was
involuntary. We recalled and reviewed every particular that had
fallen under our own observation. By none of these were we
furnished with a clue. Her conduct, after the most rigorous
scrutiny, still remained an impenetrable secret. On a nearer
view, Major Stuart proved himself a man of most amiable
character. His attachment to Louisa appeared hourly to
increase. She was no stranger to the sentiments suitable to her
new character. She could not but readily embrace the scheme
which was proposed to her, to return with her father to England.
This scheme his regard for her induced him, however, to
postpone. Some time was necessary to prepare her for so great
a change and enable her to think without agony of her separation
from us.

I was not without hopes of prevailing on her father entirely
to relinquish this unwelcome design. Meanwhile, he pursued his
travels through the southern colonies, and his daughter
continued with us. Louisa and my brother frequently received
letters from him, which indicated a mind of no common order.
They were filled with amusing details, and profound reflections.
While here, he often partook of our evening conversations at the
temple; and since his departure, his correspondence had
frequently supplied us with topics of discourse.

One afternoon in May, the blandness of the air, and
brightness of the verdure, induced us to assemble, earlier than
usual, in the temple. We females were busy at the needle, while
my brother and Pleyel were bandying quotations and syllogisms.
The point discussed was the merit of the oration for Cluentius,
as descriptive, first, of the genius of the speaker; and,
secondly, of the manners of the times. Pleyel laboured to
extenuate both these species of merit, and tasked his ingenuity,
to shew that the orator had embraced a bad cause; or, at least,
a doubtful one. He urged, that to rely on the exaggerations of
an advocate, or to make the picture of a single family a model
from which to sketch the condition of a nation, was absurd. The
controversy was suddenly diverted into a new channel, by a
misquotation. Pleyel accused his companion of saying
"polliciatur" when he should have said "polliceretur."
Nothing would decide the contest, but an appeal to the volume.
My brother was returning to the house for this purpose, when a
servant met him with a letter from Major Stuart. He immediately
returned to read it in our company.

Besides affectionate compliments to us, and paternal
benedictions on Louisa, his letter contained a description of a
waterfall on the Monongahela. A sudden gust of rain falling, we
were compelled to remove to the house. The storm passed away,
and a radiant moon-light succeeded. There was no motion to
resume our seats in the temple. We therefore remained where we
were, and engaged in sprightly conversation. The letter lately
received naturally suggested the topic. A parallel was drawn
between the cataract there described, and one which Pleyel had
discovered among the Alps of Glarus. In the state of the
former, some particular was mentioned, the truth of which was
questionable. To settle the dispute which thence arose, it was
proposed to have recourse to the letter. My brother searched
for it in his pocket. It was no where to be found. At length,
he remembered to have left it in the temple, and he determined
to go in search of it. His wife, Pleyel, Louisa, and myself,
remained where we were.

In a few minutes he returned. I was somewhat interested in
the dispute, and was therefore impatient for his return; yet, as
I heard him ascending the stairs, I could not but remark, that
he had executed his intention with remarkable dispatch. My eyes
were fixed upon him on his entrance. Methought he brought with
him looks considerably different from those with which he
departed. Wonder, and a slight portion of anxiety were mingled
in them. His eyes seemed to be in search of some object. They
passed quickly from one person to another, till they rested on
his wife. She was seated in a careless attitude on the sofa, in
the same spot as before. She had the same muslin in her hand,
by which her attention was chiefly engrossed.

The moment he saw her, his perplexity visibly increased. He
quietly seated himself, and fixing his eyes on the floor,
appeared to be absorbed in meditation. These singularities
suspended the inquiry which I was preparing to make respecting
the letter. In a short time, the company relinquished the
subject which engaged them, and directed their attention to
Wieland. They thought that he only waited for a pause in the
discourse, to produce the letter. The pause was uninterrupted
by him. At length Pleyel said, "Well, I suppose you have found
the letter."

"No," said he, without any abatement of his gravity, and
looking stedfastly at his wife, "I did not mount the
hill."--"Why not?"--"Catharine, have you not moved from that
spot since I left the room?"--She was affected with the
solemnity of his manner, and laying down her work, answered in
a tone of surprise, "No; Why do you ask that question?"--His
eyes were again fixed upon the floor. and he did not
immediately answer. At length, he said, looking round upon us,
"Is it true that Catharine did not follow me to the hill? That
she did not just now enter the room?"--We assured him, with one
voice, that she had not been absent for a moment, and inquired
into the motive of his questions.

"Your assurances," said he, "are solemn and unanimous; and
yet I must deny credit to your assertions, or disbelieve the
testimony of my senses, which informed me, when I was half way
up the hill, that Catharine was at the bottom."

We were confounded at this declaration. Pleyel rallied him
with great levity on his behaviour. He listened to his friend
with calmness, but without any relaxation of features.

"One thing," said he with emphasis, "is true; either I heard
my wife's voice at the bottom of the hill, or I do not hear your
voice at present."

"Truly," returned Pleyel, "it is a sad dilemma to which you
have reduced yourself. Certain it is, if our eyes can give us
certainty that your wife has been sitting in that spot during
every moment of your absence. You have heard her voice, you
say, upon the hill. In general, her voice, like her temper, is
all softness. To be heard across the room, she is obliged to
exert herself. While you were gone, if I mistake not, she did
not utter a word. Clara and I had all the talk to ourselves.
Still it may be that she held a whispering conference with you
on the hill; but tell us the particulars."

"The conference," said he, "was short; and far from being
carried on in a whisper. You know with what intention I left
the house. Half way to the rock, the moon was for a moment
hidden from us by a cloud. I never knew the air to be more
bland and more calm. In this interval I glanced at the temple,
and thought I saw a glimmering between the columns. It was so
faint, that it would not perhaps have been visible, if the moon
had not been shrowded. I looked again, but saw nothing. I
never visit this building alone, or at night, without being
reminded of the fate of my father. There was nothing wonderful
in this appearance; yet it suggested something more than mere
solitude and darkness in the same place would have done.

"I kept on my way. The images that haunted me were solemn;
and I entertained an imperfect curiosity, but no fear, as to the
nature of this object. I had ascended the hill little more than
half way, when a voice called me from behind. The accents were
clear, distinct, powerful, and were uttered, as I fully
believed, by my wife. Her voice is not commonly so loud. She
has seldom occasion to exert it, but, nevertheless, I have
sometimes heard her call with force and eagerness. If my ear
was not deceived, it was her voice which I heard.

"Stop, go no further. There is danger in your path." The
suddenness and unexpectedness of this warning, the tone of alarm
with which it was given, and, above all, the persuasion that it
was my wife who spoke, were enough to disconcert and make me
pause. I turned and listened to assure myself that I was not
mistaken. The deepest silence succeeded. At length, I spoke in
my turn. Who calls? is it you, Catharine? I stopped and
presently received an answer. "Yes, it is I; go not up; return
instantly; you are wanted at the house." Still the voice was
Catharine's, and still it proceeded from the foot of the stairs.

"What could I do? The warning was mysterious. To be uttered
by Catharine at a place, and on an occasion like these, enhanced
the mystery. I could do nothing but obey. Accordingly, I trod
back my steps, expecting that she waited for me at the bottom of
the hill. When I reached the bottom, no one was visible. The
moon-light was once more universal and brilliant, and yet, as
far as I could see no human or moving figure was discernible.
If she had returned to the house, she must have used wondrous
expedition to have passed already beyond the reach of my eye.
I exerted my voice, but in vain. To my repeated exclamations,
no answer was returned.

"Ruminating on these incidents, I returned hither. There was
no room to doubt that I had heard my wife's voice; attending
incidents were not easily explained; but you now assure me that
nothing extraordinary has happened to urge my return, and that
my wife has not moved from her seat."

Such was my brother's narrative. It was heard by us with
different emotions. Pleyel did not scruple to regard the whole
as a deception of the senses. Perhaps a voice had been heard;
but Wieland's imagination had misled him in supposing a
resemblance to that of his wife, and giving such a signification
to the sounds. According to his custom he spoke what he
thought. Sometimes, he made it the theme of grave discussion,
but more frequently treated it with ridicule. He did not
believe that sober reasoning would convince his friend, and
gaiety, he thought, was useful to take away the solemnities
which, in a mind like Wieland's, an accident of this kind was
calculated to produce.

Pleyel proposed to go in search of the letter. He went and
speedily returned, bearing it in his hand. He had found it open
on the pedestal; and neither voice nor visage had risen to
impede his design.

Catharine was endowed with an uncommon portion of good sense;
but her mind was accessible, on this quarter, to wonder and
panic. That her voice should be thus inexplicably and
unwarrantably assumed, was a source of no small disquietude.
She admitted the plausibility of the arguments by which Pleyel
endeavoured to prove, that this was no more than an auricular
deception; but this conviction was sure to be shaken, when she
turned her eyes upon her husband, and perceived that Pleyel's
logic was far from having produced the same effect upon him.

As to myself, my attention was engaged by this occurrence.
I could not fail to perceive a shadowy resemblance between it
and my father's death. On the latter event, I had frequently
reflected; my reflections never conducted me to certainty, but
the doubts that existed were not of a tormenting kind. I could
not deny that the event was miraculous, and yet I was invincibly
averse to that method of solution. My wonder was excited by the
inscrutableness of the cause, but my wonder was unmixed with
sorrow or fear. It begat in me a thrilling, and not unpleasing
solemnity. Similar to these were the sensations produced by the
recent adventure.

But its effect upon my brother's imagination was of chief
moment. All that was desirable was, that it should be regarded
by him with indifference. The worst effect that could flow, was
not indeed very formidable. Yet I could not bear to think that
his senses should be the victims of such delusion. It argued a
diseased condition of his frame, which might show itself
hereafter in more dangerous symptoms. The will is the tool of
the understanding, which must fashion its conclusions on the
notices of sense. If the senses be depraved, it is impossible
to calculate the evils that may flow from the consequent
deductions of the understanding.

I said, this man is of an ardent and melancholy character.
Those ideas which, in others, are casual or obscure, which are
entertained in moments of abstraction and solitude, and easily
escape when the scene is changed, have obtained an immoveable
hold upon his mind. The conclusions which long habit has
rendered familiar, and, in some sort, palpable to his intellect,
are drawn from the deepest sources. All his actions and
practical sentiments are linked with long and abstruse
deductions from the system of divine government and the laws of
our intellectual constitution. He is, in some respects, an
enthusiast, but is fortified in his belief by innumerable
arguments and subtilties.

His father's death was always regarded by him as flowing from
a direct and supernatural decree. It visited his meditations
oftener than it did mine. The traces which it left were more
gloomy and permanent. This new incident had a visible effect in
augmenting his gravity. He was less disposed than formerly to
converse and reading. When we sifted his thoughts, they were
generally found to have a relation, more or less direct, with
this incident. It was difficult to ascertain the exact species
of impression which it made upon him. He never introduced the
subject into conversation, and listened with a silent and
half-serious smile to the satirical effusions of Pleyel.

One evening we chanced to be alone together in the temple.
I seized that opportunity of investigating the state of his
thoughts. After a pause, which he seemed in no wise inclined to
interrupt, I spoke to him--"How almost palpable is this dark;
yet a ray from above would dispel it." "Ay," said Wieland, with
fervor, "not only the physical, but moral night would be
dispelled." "But why," said I, "must the Divine Will address
its precepts to the eye?" He smiled significantly. "True,"
said he, "the understanding has other avenues." "You have
never," said I, approaching nearer to the point--"you have never
told me in what way you considered the late extraordinary
incident." "There is no determinate way in which the subject
can be viewed. Here is an effect, but the cause is utterly
inscrutable. To suppose a deception will not do. Such is
possible, but there are twenty other suppositions more probable.
They must all be set aside before we reach that point." "What
are these twenty suppositions?" "It is needless to mention
them. They are only less improbable than Pleyel's. Time may
convert one of them into certainty. Till then it is useless to
expatiate on them."

Chapter V

Some time had elapsed when there happened another occurrence,
still more remarkable. Pleyel, on his return from Europe,
brought information of considerable importance to my brother.
My ancestors were noble Saxons, and possessed large domains in
Lusatia. The Prussian wars had destroyed those persons whose
right to these estates precluded my brother's. Pleyel had been
exact in his inquiries, and had discovered that, by the law of
male-primogeniture, my brother's claims were superior to those
of any other person now living. Nothing was wanting but his
presence in that country, and a legal application to establish
this claim.

Pleyel strenuously recommended this measure. The advantages
he thought attending it were numerous, and it would argue the
utmost folly to neglect them. Contrary to his expectation he
found my brother averse to the scheme. Slight efforts, he, at
first, thought would subdue his reluctance; but he found this
aversion by no means slight. The interest that he took in the
happiness of his friend and his sister, and his own partiality
to the Saxon soil, from which he had likewise sprung, and where
he had spent several years of his youth, made him redouble his
exertions to win Wieland's consent. For this end he employed
every argument that his invention could suggest. He painted, in
attractive colours, the state of manners and government in that
country, the security of civil rights, and the freedom of
religious sentiments. He dwelt on the privileges of wealth and
rank, and drew from the servile condition of one class, an
argument in favor of his scheme, since the revenue and power
annexed to a German principality afford so large a field for
benevolence. The evil flowing from this power, in malignant
hands, was proportioned to the good that would arise from the
virtuous use of it. Hence, Wieland, in forbearing to claim his
own, withheld all the positive felicity that would accrue to his
vassals from his success, and hazarded all the misery that would
redound from a less enlightened proprietor.

It was easy for my brother to repel these arguments, and to
shew that no spot on the globe enjoyed equal security and
liberty to that which he at present inhabited. That if the
Saxons had nothing to fear from mis-government, the external
causes of havoc and alarm were numerous and manifest. The
recent devastations committed by the Prussians furnished a
specimen of these. The horrors of war would always impend over
them, till Germany were seized and divided by Austrian and
Prussian tyrants; an event which he strongly suspected was at no
great distance. But setting these considerations aside, was it
laudable to grasp at wealth and power even when they were within
our reach? Were not these the two great sources of depravity?
What security had he, that in this change of place and
condition, he should not degenerate into a tyrant and
voluptuary? Power and riches were chiefly to be dreaded on
account of their tendency to deprave the possessor. He held
them in abhorrence, not only as instruments of misery to others,
but to him on whom they were conferred. Besides, riches were
comparative, and was he not rich already? He lived at present
in the bosom of security and luxury. All the instruments of
pleasure, on which his reason or imagination set any value, were
within his reach. But these he must forego, for the sake of
advantages which, whatever were their value, were as yet
uncertain. In pursuit of an imaginary addition to his wealth,
he must reduce himself to poverty, he must exchange present
certainties for what was distant and contingent; for who knows
not that the law is a system of expence, delay and uncertainty?
If he should embrace this scheme, it would lay him under the
necessity of making a voyage to Europe, and remaining for a
certain period, separate from his family. He must undergo the
perils and discomforts of the ocean; he must divest himself of
all domestic pleasures; he must deprive his wife of her
companion, and his children of a father and instructor, and all
for what? For the ambiguous advantages which overgrown wealth
and flagitious tyranny have to bestow? For a precarious
possession in a land of turbulence and war? Advantages, which
will not certainly be gained, and of which the acquisition, if
it were sure, is necessarily distant.

Pleyel was enamoured of his scheme on account of its
intrinsic benefits, but, likewise, for other reasons. His abode
at Leipsig made that country appear to him like home. He was
connected with this place by many social ties. While there he
had not escaped the amorous contagion. But the lady, though her
heart was impressed in his favor, was compelled to bestow her
hand upon another. Death had removed this impediment, and he
was now invited by the lady herself to return. This he was of
course determined to do, but was anxious to obtain the company
of Wieland; he could not bear to think of an eternal separation
from his present associates. Their interest, he thought, would
be no less promoted by the change than his own. Hence he was
importunate and indefatigable in his arguments and

He knew that he could not hope for mine or his sister's ready
concurrence in this scheme. Should the subject be mentioned to
us, we should league our efforts against him, and strengthen
that reluctance in Wieland which already was sufficiently
difficult to conquer. He, therefore, anxiously concealed from
us his purpose. If Wieland were previously enlisted in his
cause, he would find it a less difficult task to overcome our
aversion. My brother was silent on this subJect, because he
believed himself in no danger of changing his opinion, and he
was willing to save us from any uneasiness. The mere mention of
such a scheme, and the possibility of his embracing it, he knew,
would considerably impair our tranquillity.

One day, about three weeks subsequent to the mysterious call,
it was agreed that the family should be my guests. Seldom had
a day been passed by us, of more serene enjoyment. Pleyel had
promised us his company, but we did not see him till the sun had
nearly declined. He brought with him a countenance that
betokened disappointment and vexation. He did not wait for our
inquiries, but immediately explained the cause. Two days before
a packet had arrived from Hamburgh, by which he had flattered
himself with the expectation of receiving letters, but no
letters had arrived. I never saw him so much subdued by an
untoward event. His thoughts were employed in accounting for
the silence of his friends. He was seized with the torments of
jealousy, and suspected nothing less than the infidelity of her
to whom he had devoted his heart. The silence must have been
concerted. Her sickness, or absence, or death, would have
increased the certainty of some one's having written. No
supposition could be formed but that his mistress had grown
indifferent, or that she had transferred her affections to
another. The miscarriage of a letter was hardly within the
reach of possibility. From Leipsig to Hamburgh, and from
Hamburgh hither, the conveyance was exposed to no hazard.

He had been so long detained in America chiefly in
consequence of Wieland's aversion to the scheme which he
proposed. He now became more impatient than ever to return to
Europe. When he reflected that, by his delays, he had probably
forfeited the affections of his mistress, his sensations
amounted to agony. It only remained, by his speedy departure,
to repair, if possible, or prevent so intolerable an evil.
Already he had half resolved to embark in this very ship which,
he was informed, would set out in a few weeks on her return.

Meanwhile he determined to make a new attempt to shake the
resolution of Wieland. The evening was somewhat advanced when
he invited the latter to walk abroad with him. The invitation
was accepted, and they left Catharine, Louisa and me, to amuse
ourselves by the best means in our power. During this walk,
Pleyel renewed the subject that was nearest his heart. He
re-urged all his former arguments, and placed them in more
forcible lights.

They promised to return shortly; but hour after hour passed,
and they made not their appearance. Engaged in sprightly
conversation, it was not till the clock struck twelve that we
were reminded of the lapse of time. The absence of our friends
excited some uneasy apprehensions. We were expressing our
fears, and comparing our conjectures as to what might be the
cause, when they entered together. There were indications in
their countenances that struck me mute. These were unnoticed by
Catharine, who was eager to express her surprize and curiosity
at the length of their walk. As they listened to her, I
remarked that their surprize was not less than ours. They gazed
in silence on each other, and on her. I watched their looks,
but could not understand the emotions that were written in them.

These appearances diverted Catharine's inquiries into a new
channel. What did they mean, she asked, by their silence, and
by their thus gazing wildly at each other, and at her? Pleyel
profited by this hint, and assuming an air of indifference,
framed some trifling excuse, at the same time darting
significant glances at Wieland, as if to caution him against
disclosing the truth. My brother said nothing, but delivered
himself up to meditation. I likewise was silent, but burned
with impatience to fathom this mystery. Presently my brother
and his wife, and Louisa, returned home. Pleyel proposed, of
his own accord, to be my guest for the night. This
circumstance, in addition to those which preceded, gave new edge
to my wonder.

As soon as we were left alone, Pleyel's countenance assumed
an air of seriousness, and even consternation, which I had never
before beheld in him. The steps with which he measured the
floor betokened the trouble of his thoughts. My inquiries were
suspended by the hope that he would give me the information that
I wanted without the importunity of questions. I waited some
time, but the confusion of his thoughts appeared in no degree to
abate. At length I mentioned the apprehensions which their
unusual absence had occasioned, and which were increased by
their behaviour since their return, and solicited an
explanation. He stopped when I began to speak, and looked
stedfastly at me. When I had done, he said, to me, in a tone
which faultered through the vehemence of his emotions, "How were
you employed during our absence?" "In turning over the Della
Crusca dictionary, and talking on different subjects; but just
before your entrance, we were tormenting ourselves with omens
and prognosticks relative to your absence." "Catherine was with
you the whole time?" "Yes." "But are you sure?" "Most sure.
She was not absent a moment." He stood, for a time, as if to
assure himself of my sincerity. Then, clinching his hands, and
wildly lifting them above his head, "Lo," cried he, "I have news
to tell you. The Baroness de Stolberg is dead?"

This was her whom he loved. I was not surprised at the
agitations which he betrayed. "But how was the information
procured? How was the truth of this news connected with the
circumstance of Catharine's remaining in our company?" He was
for some time inattentive to my questions. When he spoke, it
seemed merely a continuation of the reverie into which he had
been plunged.

"And yet it might be a mere deception. But could both of us
in that case have been deceived? A rare and prodigious
coincidence! Barely not impossible. And yet, if the accent be
oracular--Theresa is dead. No, no," continued he, covering his
face with his hands, and in a tone half broken into sobs, "I
cannot believe it. She has not written, but if she were dead,
the faithful Bertrand would have given me the earliest
information. And yet if he knew his master, he must have easily
guessed at the effect of such tidings. In pity to me he was

"Clara, forgive me; to you, this behaviour is mysterious. I
will explain as well as I am able. But say not a word to
Catharine. Her strength of mind is inferior to your's. She
will, besides, have more reason to be startled. She is
Wieland's angel."

Pleyel proceeded to inform me, for the first time, of the
scheme which he had pressed, with so much earnestness, on my
brother. He enumerated the objections which had been made, and
the industry with which he had endeavoured to confute them. He
mentioned the effect upon his resolutions produced by the
failure of a letter. "During our late walk," continued he, "I
introduced the subject that was nearest my heart. I re-urged
all my former arguments, and placed them in more forcible
lights. Wieland was still refractory. He expatiated on the
perils of wealth and power, on the sacredness of conjugal and
parental duties, and the happiness of mediocrity.

"No wonder that the time passed, unperceived, away. Our
whole souls were engaged in this cause. Several times we came
to the foot of the rock; as soon as we perceived it, we changed
our course, but never failed to terminate our circuitous and
devious ramble at this spot. At length your brother observed,
"We seem to be led hither by a kind of fatality. Since we are
so near, let us ascend and rest ourselves a while. If you are
not weary of this argument we will resume it there."

"I tacitly consented. We mounted the stairs, and drawing the
sofa in front of the river, we seated ourselves upon it. I took
up the thread of our discourse where we had dropped it. I
ridiculed his dread of the sea, and his attachment to home. I
kept on in this strain, so congenial with my disposition, for
some time, uninterrupted by him. At length, he said to me,
"Suppose now that I, whom argument has not convinced, should
yield to ridicule, and should agree that your scheme is
eligible; what will you have gained? Nothing. You have other
enemies beside myself to encounter. When you have vanquished
me, your toil has scarcely begun. There are my sister and wife,
with whom it will remain for you to maintain the contest. And
trust me, they are adversaries whom all your force and stratagem
will never subdue." I insinuated that they would model
themselves by his will: that Catharine would think obedience
her duty. He answered, with some quickness, "You mistake.
Their concurrence is indispensable. It is not my custom to
exact sacrifices of this kind. I live to be their protector and
friend, and not their tyrant and foe. If my wife shall deem her
happiness, and that of her children, most consulted by remaining
where she is, here she shall remain." "But," said I, "when she
knows your pleasure, will she not conform to it?" Before my
friend had time to answer this question, a negative was clearly
and distinctly uttered from another quarter. It did not come
from one side or the other, from before us or behind. Whence
then did it come? By whose organs was it fashioned?

"If any uncertainty had existed with regard to these
particulars, it would have been removed by a deliberate and
equally distinct repetition of the same monosyllable, "No." The
voice was my sister's. It appeared to come from the roof. I
started from my seat. Catharine, exclaimed I, where are you?
No answer was returned. I searched the room, and the area
before it, but in vain. Your brother was motionless in his
seat. I returned to him, and placed myself again by his side.
My astonishment was not less than his."

"Well," said he, at length, "What think you of this? This is
the self-same voice which I formerly heard; you are now
convinced that my ears were well informed."

"Yes," said I, "this, it is plain, is no fiction of the
fancy." We again sunk into mutual and thoughtful silence. A
recollection of the hour, and of the length of our absence, made
me at last propose to return. We rose up for this purpose. In
doing this, my mind reverted to the contemplation of my own
condition. "Yes," said I aloud, but without particularly
addressing myself to Wieland, "my resolution is taken. I cannot
hope to prevail with my friends to accompany me. They may doze
away their days on the banks of Schuylkill, but as to me, I go
in the next vessel; I will fly to her presence, and demand the
reason of this extraordinary silence."

"I had scarcely finished the sentence, when the same
mysterious voice exclaimed, "You shall not go. The seal of
death is on her lips. Her silence is the silence of the tomb."
Think of the effects which accents like these must have had upon
me. I shuddered as I listened. As soon as I recovered from my
first amazement, "Who is it that speaks?" said I, "whence did
you procure these dismal tidings?" I did not wait long for an
answer. "From a source that cannot fail. Be satisfied. She is
dead." You may justly be surprised, that, in the circumstances
in which I heard the tidings, and notwithstanding the mystery
which environed him by whom they were imparted, I could give an
undivided attention to the facts, which were the subject of our
dialogue. I eagerly inquired, when and where did she die? What
was the cause of her death? Was her death absolutely certain?
An answer was returned only to the last of these questions.
"Yes," was pronounced by the same voice; but it now sounded from
a greater distance, and the deepest silence was all the return
made to my subsequent interrogatories.

"It was my sister's voice; but it could not be uttered by
her; and yet, if not by her, by whom was it uttered? When we
returned hither, and discovered you together, the doubt that had
previously existed was removed. It was manifest that the
intimation came not from her. Yet if not from her, from whom
could it come? Are the circumstances attending the imparting of
this news proof that the tidings are true? God forbid that they
should be true."

Here Pleyel sunk into anxious silence, and gave me leisure to
ruminate on this inexplicable event. I am at a loss to describe
the sensations that affected me. I am not fearful of shadows.
The tales of apparitions and enchantments did not possess that
power over my belief which could even render them interesting.
I saw nothing in them but ignorance and folly, and was a
stranger even to that terror which is pleasing. But this
incident was different from any that I had ever before known.
Here were proofs of a sensible and intelligent existence, which
could not be denied. Here was information obtained and imparted
by means unquestionably super-human.

That there are conscious beings, beside ourselves, in
existence, whose modes of activity and information surpass our
own, can scarcely be denied. Is there a glimpse afforded us
into a world of these superior beings? My heart was scarcely
large enough to give admittance to so swelling a thought. An
awe, the sweetest and most solemn that imagination can conceive,
pervaded my whole frame. It forsook me not when I parted from
Pleyel and retired to my chamber. An impulse was given to my
spirits utterly incompatible with sleep. I passed the night
wakeful and full of meditation. I was impressed with the belief
of mysterious, but not of malignant agency. Hitherto nothing
had occurred to persuade me that this airy minister was busy to
evil rather than to good purposes. On the contrary, the idea of
superior virtue had always been associated in my mind with that
of superior power. The warnings that had thus been heard
appeared to have been prompted by beneficent intentions. My
brother had been hindered by this voice from ascending the hill.
He was told that danger lurked in his path, and his obedience to
the intimation had perhaps saved him from a destiny similar to
that of my father.

Pleyel had been rescued from tormenting uncertainty, and from
the hazards and fatigues of a fruitless voyage, by the same
interposition. It had assured him of the death of his Theresa.

This woman was then dead. A confirmation of the tidings, if
true, would speedily arrive. Was this confirmation to be
deprecated or desired? By her death, the tie that attached him
to Europe, was taken away. Henceforward every motive would
combine to retain him in his native country, and we were rescued
from the deep regrets that would accompany his hopeless absence
from us. Propitious was the spirit that imparted these tidings.
Propitious he would perhaps have been, if he had been
instrumental in producing, as well as in communicating the
tidings of her death. Propitious to us, the friends of Pleyel,
to whom has thereby been secured the enjoyment of his society;
and not unpropitious to himself; for though this object of his
love be snatched away, is there not another who is able and
willing to console him for her loss?

Twenty days after this, another vessel arrived from the same
port. In this interval, Pleyel, for the most part, estranged
himself from his old companions. He was become the prey of a
gloomy and unsociable grief. His walks were limited to the bank
of the Delaware. This bank is an artificial one. Reeds and the
river are on one side, and a watery marsh on the other, in that
part which bounded his lands, and which extended from the mouth
of Hollander's creek to that of Schuylkill. No scene can be
imagined less enticing to a lover of the picturesque than this.
The shore is deformed with mud, and incumbered with a forest of
reeds. The fields, in most seasons, are mire; but when they
afford a firm footing, the ditches by which they are bounded and
intersected, are mantled with stagnating green, and emit the
most noxious exhalations. Health is no less a stranger to those
seats than pleasure. Spring and autumn are sure to be
accompanied with agues and bilious remittents.

The scenes which environed our dwellings at Mettingen
constituted the reverse of this. Schuylkill was here a pure and
translucid current, broken intO wild and ceaseless music by
rocky points, murmuring on a sandy margin, and reflecting on its
surface, banks of all varieties of height and degrees of
declivity. These banks were chequered by patches of dark
verdure and shapeless masses of white marble, and crowned by
copses of cedar, or by the regular magnificence of orchards,
which, at this season, were in blossom, and were prodigal of
odours. The ground which receded from the river was scooped
into valleys and dales. Its beauties were enhanced by the
horticultural skill of my brother, who bedecked this exquisite
assemblage of slopes and risings with every species of vegetable
ornament, from the giant arms of the oak to the clustering
tendrils of the honey-suckle.

To screen him from the unwholesome airs of his own residence,
it had been proposed to Pleyel to spend the months of spring
with us. He had apparently acquiesced in this proposal; but the
late event induced him to change his purpose. He was only to be
seen by visiting him in his retirements. His gaiety had flown,
and every passion was absorbed in eagerness to procure tidings
from Saxony. I have mentioned the arrival of another vessel
from the Elbe. He descried her early one morning as he was
passing along the skirt of the river. She was easily
recognized, being the ship in which he had performed his first
voyage to Germany. He immediately went on board, but found no
letters directed to him. This omission was, in some degree,
compensated by meeting with an old acquaintance among the
passengers, who had till lately been a resident in Leipsig.
This person put an end to all suspense respecting the fate of
Theresa, by relating the particulars of her death and funeral.

Thus was the truth of the former intimation attested. No
longer devoured by suspense, the grief of Pleyel was not long in
yielding to the influence of society. He gave himself up once
more to our company. His vivacity had indeed been damped; but
even in this respect he was a more acceptable companion than
formerly, since his seriousness was neither incommunicative nor

These incidents, for a time, occupied all our thoughts. In
me they produced a sentiment not unallied to pleasure, and more
speedily than in the case of my friends were intermixed with
other topics. My brother was particularly affected by them. It
was easy to perceive that most of his meditations were tinctured
from this source. To this was to be ascribed a design in which
his pen was, at this period, engaged, of collecting and
investigating the facts which relate to that mysterious
personage, the Daemon of Socrates.

My brother's skill in Greek and Roman learning was exceeded
by that of few, and no doubt the world would have accepted a
treatise upon this subject from his hand with avidity; but alas!
this and every other scheme of felicity and honor, were doomed
to sudden blast and hopeless extermination.

Chapter VI

I now come to the mention of a person with whose name the
most turbulent sensations are connected. It is with a
shuddering reluctance that I enter on the province of describing
him. Now it is that I begin to perceive the difficulty of the
task which I have undertaken; but it would be weakness to shrink
from it. My blood is congealed: and my fingers are palsied
when I call up his image. Shame upon my cowardly and infirm
heart! Hitherto I have proceeded with some degree of composure,
but now I must pause. I mean not that dire remembrance shall
subdue my courage or baffle my design, but this weakness cannot
be immediately conquered. I must desist for a little while.

I have taken a few turns in my chamber, and have gathered
strength enough to proceed. Yet have I not projected a task
beyond my power to execute? If thus, on the very threshold of
the scene, my knees faulter and I sink, how shall I support
myself, when I rush into the midst of horrors such as no heart
has hitherto conceived, nor tongue related? I sicken and recoil
at the prospect, and yet my irresolution is momentary. I have
not formed this design upon slight grounds, and though I may at
times pause and hesitate, I will not be finally diverted from

And thou, O most fatal and potent of mankind, in what terms
shall I describe thee? What words are adequate to the just
delineation of thy character? How shall I detail the means
which rendered the secrecy of thy purposes unfathomable? But I
will not anticipate. Let me recover if possible, a sober
strain. Let me keep down the flood of passion that would render
me precipitate or powerless. Let me stifle the agonies that are
awakened by thy name. Let me, for a time, regard thee as a
being of no terrible attributes. Let me tear myself from
contemplation of the evils of which it is but too certain that
thou wast the author, and limit my view to those harmless
appearances which attended thy entrance on the stage.

One sunny afternoon, I was standing in the door of my house,
when I marked a person passing close to the edge of the bank
that was in front. His pace was a careless and lingering one,
and had none of that gracefulness and ease which distinguish a
person with certain advantages of education from a clown. His
gait was rustic and aukward. His form was ungainly and
disproportioned. Shoulders broad and square, breast sunken, his
head drooping, his body of uniform breadth, supported by long
and lank legs, were the ingredients of his frame. His garb was
not ill adapted to such a figure. A slouched hat, tarnished by
the weather, a coat of thick grey cloth, cut and wrought, as it
seemed, by a country tailor, blue worsted stockings, and shoes
fastened by thongs, and deeply discoloured by dust, which brush
had never disturbed, constituted his dress.

There was nothing remarkable in these appearances; they were
frequently to be met with on the road, and in the harvest field.
I cannot tell why I gazed upon them, on this occasion, with more
than ordinary attention, unless it were that such figures were
seldom seen by me, except on the road or field. This lawn was
only traversed by men whose views were directed to the pleasures
of the walk, or the grandeur of the scenery.

He passed slowly along, frequently pausing, as if to examine
the prospect more deliberately, but never turning his eye
towards the house, so as to allow me a view of his countenance.
Presently, he entered a copse at a small distance, and
disappeared. My eye followed him while he remained in sight.
If his image remained for any duration in my fancy after his
departure, it was because no other object occurred sufficient to
expel it.

I continued in the same spot for half an hour, vaguely, and
by fits, contemplating the image of this wanderer, and drawing,
from outward appearances, those inferences with respect to the
intellectual history of this person, which experience affords
us. I reflected on the alliance which commonly subsists between
ignorance and the practice of agriculture, and indulged myself
in airy speculations as to the influence of progressive
knowledge in dissolving this alliance, and embodying the dreams
of the poets. I asked why the plough and the hoe might not
become the trade of every human being, and how this trade might
be made conducive to, or, at least, consistent with the
acquisition of wisdom and eloquence.

Weary with these reflections, I returned to the kitchen to
perform some household office. I had usually but one servant,
and she was a girl about my own age. I was busy near the
chimney, and she was employed near the door of the apartment,
when some one knocked. The door was opened by her, and she was
immediately addressed with "Pry'thee, good girl, canst thou
supply a thirsty man with a glass of buttermilk?" She answered
that there was none in the house. "Aye, but there is some in
the dairy yonder. Thou knowest as well as I, though Hermes
never taught thee, that though every dairy be an house, every
house is not a dairy." To this speech, though she understood
only a part of it, she replied by repeating her assurances, that
she had none to give. "Well then," rejoined the stranger, "for
charity's sweet sake, hand me forth a cup of cold water." The
girl said she would go to the spring and fetch it. "Nay, give
me the cup, and suffer me to help myself. Neither manacled nor
lame, I should merit burial in the maw of carrion crows, if I
laid this task upon thee." She gave him the cup, and he turned
to go to the spring.

I listened to this dialogue in silence. The words uttered by
the person without, affected me as somewhat singular, but what
chiefly rendered them remarkable, was the tone that accompanied
them. It was wholly new. My brother's voice and Pleyel's were
musical and energetic. I had fondly imagined, that, in this
respect, they were surpassed by none. Now my mistake was
detected. I cannot pretend to communicate the impression that
was made upon me by these accents, or to depict the degree in
which force and sweetness were blended in them. They were
articulated with a distinctness that was unexampled in my
experience. But this was not all. The voice was not only
mellifluent and clear, but the emphasis was so just, and the
modulation so impassioned, that it seemed as if an heart of
stone could not fail of being moved by it. It imparted to me an
emotion altogether involuntary and incontroulable. When he
uttered the words "for charity's sweet sake," I dropped the
cloth that I held in my hand, my heart overflowed with sympathy,
and my eyes with unbidden tears.

This description will appear to you trifling or incredible.
The importance of these circumstances will be manifested in the
sequel. The manner in which I was affected on this occasion,
was, to my own apprehension, a subject of astonishment. The
tones were indeed such as I never heard before; but that they
should, in an instant, as it were, dissolve me in tears, will
not easily be believed by others, and can scarcely be
comprehended by myself.

It will be readily supposed that I was somewhat inquisitive
as to the person and demeanour of our visitant. After a
moment's pause, I stepped to the door and looked after him.
Judge my surprize, when I beheld the self-same figure that had
appeared an half hour before upon the bank. My fancy had
conjured up a very different image. A form, and attitude, and
garb, were instantly created worthy to accompany such elocution;
but this person was, in all visible respects, the reverse of
this phantom. Strange as it may seem, I could not speedily
reconcile myself to this disappointment. Instead of returning
to my employment, I threw myself in a chair that was placed
opposite the door, and sunk into a fit of musing.

My attention was, in a few minutes, recalled by the stranger,
who returned with the empty cup in his hand. I had not thought
of the circumstance, or should certainly have chosen a different
seat. He no sooner shewed himself, than a confused sense of
impropriety, added to the suddenness of the interview, for
which, not having foreseen it, I had made no preparation, threw
me into a state of the most painful embarrassment. He brought
with him a placid brow; but no sooner had he cast his eyes upon
me, than his face was as glowingly suffused as my own. He
placed the cup upon the bench, stammered out thanks, and

It was some time before I could recover my wonted composure.
I had snatched a view of the stranger's countenance. The
impression that it made was vivid and indelible. His cheeks
were pallid and lank, his eyes sunken, his forehead overshadowed
by coarse straggling hairs, his teeth large and irregular,
though sound and brilliantly white, and his chin discoloured by
a tetter. His skin was of coarse grain, and sallow hue. Every
feature was wide of beauty, and the outline of his face reminded
you of an inverted cone.

And yet his forehead, so far as shaggy locks would allow it
to be seen, his eyes lustrously black, and possessing, in the
midst of haggardness, a radiance inexpressibly serene and
potent, and something in the rest of his features, which it
would be in vain to describe, but which served to betoken a mind
of the highest order, were essential ingredients in the
portrait. This, in the effects which immediately flowed from
it, I count among the most extraordinary incidents of my life.
This face, seen for a moment, continued for hours to occupy my
fancy, to the exclusion of almost every other image. I had
purposed to spend the evening with my brother, but I could not
resist the inclination of forming a sketch upon paper of this
memorable visage. Whether my hand was aided by any peculiar
inspiration, or I was deceived by my own fond conceptions, this
portrait, though hastily executed, appeared unexceptionable to
my own taste.

I placed it at all distances, and in all lights; my eyes were
rivetted upon it. Half the night passed away in wakefulness and
in contemplation of this picture. So flexible, and yet so
stubborn, is the human mind. So obedient to impulses the most
transient and brief, and yet so unalterably observant of the
direction which is given to it! How little did I then foresee
the termination of that chain, of which this may be regarded as
the first link?

Next day arose in darkness and storm. Torrents of rain fell
during the whole day, attended with incessant thunder, which
reverberated in stunning echoes from the opposite declivity.
The inclemency of the air would not allow me to walk-out. I
had, indeed, no inclination to leave my apartment. I betook
myself to the contemplation of this portrait, whose attractions
time had rather enhanced than diminished. I laid aside my usual
occupations, and seating myself at a window, consumed the day in
alternately looking out upon the storm, and gazing at the
picture which lay upon a table before me. You will, perhaps,
deem this conduct somewhat singular, and ascribe it to certain
peculiarities of temper. I am not aware of any such
peculiarities. I can account for my devotion to this image no
otherwise, than by supposing that its properties were rare and
prodigious. Perhaps you will suspect that such were the first
inroads of a passion incident to every female heart, and which
frequently gains a footing by means even more slight, and more
improbable than these. I shall not controvert the
reasonableness of the suspicion, but leave you at liberty to
draw, from my narrative, what conclusions you please.

Night at length returned, and the storm ceased. The air was
once more clear and calm, and bore an affecting contrast to that
uproar of the elements by which it had been preceded. I spent
the darksome hours, as I spent the day, contemplative and seated
at the window. Why was my mind absorbed in thoughts ominous and
dreary? Why did my bosom heave with sighs, and my eyes overflow
with tears? Was the tempest that had just past a signal of the
ruin which impended over me? My soul fondly dwelt upon the
images of my brother and his children, yet they only increased
the mournfulness of my contemplations. The smiles of the
charming babes were as bland as formerly. The same dignity sat
on the brow of their father, and yet I thought of them with
anguish. Something whispered that the happiness we at present
enjoyed was set on mutable foundations. Death must happen to
all. Whether our felicity was to be subverted by it to-morrow,
or whether it was ordained that we should lay down our heads
full of years and of honor, was a question that no human being
could solve. At other times, these ideas seldom intruded. I
either forbore to reflect upon the destiny that is reserved for
all men, or the reflection was mixed up with images that
disrobed it of terror; but now the uncertainty of life occurred
to me without any of its usual and alleviating accompaniments.
I said to myself, we must die. Sooner or later, we must
disappear for ever from the face of the earth. Whatever be the
links that hold us to life, they must be broken. This scene of
existence is, in all its parts, calamitous. The greater number
is oppressed with immediate evils, and those, the tide of whose
fortunes is full, how small is their portion of enjoyment, since
they know that it will terminate.

For some time I indulged myself, without reluctance, in these
gloomy thoughts; but at length, the dejection which they
produced became insupportably painful. I endeavoured to
dissipate it with music. I had all my grand-father's melody as
well as poetry by rote. I now lighted by chance on a ballad,
which commemorated the fate of a German Cavalier, who fell at
the siege of Nice under Godfrey of Bouillon. My choice was
unfortunate, for the scenes of violence and carnage which were
here wildly but forcibly pourtrayed, only suggested to my
thoughts a new topic in the horrors of war.

I sought refuge, but ineffectually, in sleep. My mind was
thronged by vivid, but confused images, and no effort that I
made was sufficient to drive them away. In this situation I
heard the clock, which hung in the room, give the signal for
twelve. It was the same instrument which formerly hung in my
father's chamber, and which, on account of its being his
workmanship, was regarded, by every one of our family, with
veneration. It had fallen to me, in the division of his
property, and was placed in this asylum. The sound awakened a
series of reflections, respecting his death. I was not allowed

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