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exclaimed I. " We should seek to behold the dead in the
light of heaven. But what is the meaning of this chafing-
dish of Blowing coals ? "


'* That." answered the virtuoso, " is the original fire which
Prometheus stole from heaven. Look steadfastly into it,
and you will discern another curiosity."

I gazed into that fire, which, symbolically, was the origin
of all that was bright and glorious in the soul of man, and
in the midst of it, behold, a little reptile, sporting with evi-
de nt enjoyment of the fervid heat ! It was a salamander.

" What a sacrilege ! " cried I, with inexpressible disgust.
" Can you find no better use for this ethereal fire than to
cherish a loathsome reptile in it ? Yet there are men who
abuse the sacred fire of their own souls to as foul and
guilty a purpose."

The virtuoso made no answer except by a dry laugh and
an assurance that the salamander was the very same which
Benvenuto Cellini had seen in his father's household fire.
He then proceeded to show me other rarities ; for this closet
appeared to be the receptacle of what he considered moet
valuable in his collection.

" There," said he, " is the Great Carbuncle of the White

I gazed with no little interest at this mighty gem, which it
had been one of the wild projects of my youth to discover.
Possibly it might have looked brighter to me in those days
than now ; at all events, it had not such brilliancy as to detain
me long from the other articles of the museum. The virtu-
oso pointed out to me a crystalline stone which hung by a
gel 1 chain against the wall.

* That is the philosopher's stone," said he.

" And have you the elixir vitne which generally accompa-
nies it ? " inquired I.

" Even so ; this urn is filled with it," he replied. " A
draught would refresh you. Here is Hebe's cup ; will you
quaff a health from it?"

My heart thrilled within me at the idea of sach a reviving
draught ; for methought I had great need of it after travel


ling so far on the dusty road of life. But I kucnv not whether
it were a peculiar glance in the virtuoso's eye. or the circum-
stance that this most precious liquid was contained in an an-
tique sepulchral urn, that made me pause. Then came many
a thought with which, in the calmer and better hours of life,
I had strengthened myself to feel that Death is the very
friend whom, in his due season, even the happiest mortal
should be willing to embrace.

" No ; I desire not an earthly immortality," said I.
" Were man to live longer on the earth, the spiritual would
die out of him. The spark of ethereal tire would be choked
by the material, the sensual. There is a celestial something
within us that requires, after a certain time, the atmosphere
of heaven to preserve it from decay and ruin. I will have
none of this liquid. You do well to keep it in a sepulchral
urn ; for it would produce death while bestowing the shadow
of life."

" All this is unintelligible to me," responded my guide,
with indifference. " Life earthly life is the only good.
But you refuse the draught ? Well, it is not likely to be
offered twice within one man's experience. Probably you
have griefs which you seek to forget in death. I can enable
you to forget them in life. Will you take a draught of

As he spoke, the virtuoso took from the shelf a crystal
vase containing a sable liquor, which caught no reflected
i nage from the objects around.

" Not for the world ! " exclaimed I, shrinking back. " I
r-an spare none of my recollections, not even those of error
or sorrow. They are all alike the food of my spirit. As
well never to have lived as to lose them now."

Without further parley we passed to the next alcove, the
shelves of which were burdened with ancient volumes and
with those rolls of papyrus in which was treasured up the
eldest wisdom of the earth. Perhaps the most valuable


work in the collection, to a bibliomaniac, was the Book of
Hermes. For my part, however, I would have given a
higher price for those six of the Sibyl's books which Tarquiii
refused to purchase, and which the virtuoso informed me he
had himself found in the cave of Trophonius. Doubtless
these old volumes contain prophecies of the fate :f Rome,
both as respects the decline and fall of her temporal empire
and the rise of her spiritual one. Not without value, like-
wise, was the work of Anaxagoras on Nature, hitherto sup
posed to be irrecoverably lost, and the missing treatises of
Longinus, by which modern criticism might profit, and those
books of Livy for which the classic student has so long sor-
rowed without hope. Among these precious tomes I observed
the original manuscript of the Koran, and also that of the
Mormon Bible in Joe Smith's authentic autograph. Alex-
ander's copy of the Iliad was also there, enclosed in the
jewelled casket of Darius, still fragrant of the perfumes
which the Persian kept in it.

Opening an iron-clasped volume, bound in black leather, 1
discovered it to be Cornelius Agrippa's book of magic ; and
it was rendered still more interesting by the fact that many
flowers, ancient and modern, were pressed between its leaves.
Here was a rose from Eve's bridal bower, and all those red
and wliite roses which were plucked in the garden of the
Temple by the partisans of York and Lancaster. Here was
Halleck's Wild Rose of Alloway. Cowper had contributed
a Sensitive-Plant, and Wordsworth an Eglantine, and Burns
a Mountain Daisy, and Kirke Wliite a Star of Bethlehem,
and Longfellow a Sprig of Fennel, with its yellow flowers.
James Russell Lowell had given a Pressed Flower, but fra-
grant still, which had been shadowed in the Rhine. There
was also a sprig from Southey's Holly-Tree. One of the
most beautiful specimens was a Fringed Gentian, which
had been plucked and preserved for immortality by Bryant.
From Jones Very, a poet whose voice is scarcely heard


among us by reason of its depth, there was a Windflower
and a Columbine.

As I closed Cornelius Agrippa's magic volume, an old,
mildewed letter fell upon the floor. It proved to be an au-
tograph from the Flying Dutchman to his wife. I could
linger no longer among books ; for the afternoon was waning,
and there was yet much to see. The bare mention of a few
more curiosities must suffice. The immense skull of Poly-
phemus was recognizable by the cavernous hollow in the
centre of the forehead where once had blazed the giant's
single eye. The tub of Diogenes, Medea's caldron, and
Psyche's vase of beauty were placed one within another.
Pandora's box, without the lid, stood next, containing noth-
ing but the girdle of Venus, which had been carelessly flung
into it. A bundle of birch rods which had been used by
Shens tone's schoolmistress were tied up with the Countess
of Salisbury's garter. I know not which to value most, a
roc's egg as big as an ordinary hogshead, or the shell of the
egg which Columbus set upon its end. Perhaps the most
delicate article in the whole museum was Queen Mab's
chariot, which, to guard it from the touch of meddlesome
fingers, was placed under a glass tumbler.

Several of the shelves were occupied by specimens of
entomology. Feeling but little interest in the science, 1
noticed only Anacreon's grasshopper, and a humble-bee which
had been presented to the virtuoso by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

In the part of the hall which we had now reached I ob-
served a curtain, that descended from the ceiling to the floor
in voluminous folds, of a depth, richness, and magnificence
which I had never seen equalled. It was not to be doubted
that this splendid though dark and solemn veil concealed a
portion of the museum even richer hi wonders than that
tlirough which I had already passed ; but, on my attempting
to grasp the edge of the curtain and draw it aside, it proved
to be an illusive picture.


" You need not blush/' remarked the virtuoso ; " for that
same curtain deceived Zeuxis. It is the celebrated painting
of Parrhasius."

In a range with the curtain there were a number of other
choice pictures by artists of ancient days. Here was the fa-
mous cluster of grapes by Zeuxis, so admirably depicted that
it seemed as if the ripe juice were bursting forth. As to
the picture of the old woman by the same illustrious painter,
and which was so ludicrous that he himself died with laugh-
inn at it, I cannot say that it particularly moved my risibility.
Ancient humor seems to have little power over modern mus-
cles. Here, also, was the horse painted by Apelles, which
livinjr liprses neighed at ; his first portrait of Alexander
the Great ; and his last unfinished picture of Venus asleep.
Each of these works of art, together with others by Parrha-
sius, Timantlies, Polygnotus, Apollodorus, Pausias, and Pam-
philus, required more time and study than I could bestow for
the adequate perception of their merits. I shall therefore
leave them undescribed and uncriticised, nor attempt to
settle the question of superiority between ancient and mod-
ern art.

For the same reason I shall pass lightly over the speci-
mens of antique sculpture which this indefatigable and for-
tunate virtuoso had dug out of the dust of fallen empires.
Here was ^Etion's cedar statue of ^Esculapius, much de-
cayed, and Alcon's iron statue of Hercules, lamentably
rusted. Here was the statue of Victory, six feet high, which
the Jupiter Olympus of Phidias had held in his hand. Here
was a forefinger of the Colossus of Rhodes, seven feet in
length. Here was the Venus Urania of Phidias, and other
images of male and female beauty or grandeur, wrought by
sculptors who appear never to have debased their souls by
the sight of any meaner forms than those of gods or godlike
mortals. But the deep simplicity of these great works was
not to be comprehended by a mind excited and disturbed, as


mine was, by the various objects that had recently been pre-
sented to it. I therefore turned away with merely a passing
glance, resolving on some future occasion to brood over each
individual statue and picture until my inmost spirit should
feel their excellence. In this department, again, I noticed
the tendency to whimsical combinations and ludicrous analo-
gies which seemed to influence many of the arrangements of
the museum. The wooden statue so well known as the
Palladium of Troy was placed in close apposition with the
wooden head of General Jackson which was stolen a few
years since from the bows of the frigate Constitution.

We had now completed the circuit of the spacious hall,
and found ourselves again near the door. Feeling somewhat
wearied with the survey of so many novelties and antiqui-
ties, I sat down upon Cowper's sofa, while the virtuoso threw
himself carelessly into Rabelais's easy-chair. Casting my
eyes upon the opposite wall, I was surprised to perceive the
shadow of a man nickering unsteadily across the wainscot,
and looking as if it were stirred by some breath of air that
found its way through the door or windows. No substantial
figure was visible from which this shadow might be thrown ;
nor, had there been such, was there any sunshine that would
have caused it to darken upon the wall.

" It is Peter Schlemihl's shadow," observed the virtuoso,
" and one of the most valuable articles in my collection."

" Methinks a shadow would have made a fitting doorkeeper
to such a museum," said I ; " although, indeed, yonder figure
has something strange and fantastic about him, which suits
well enough with many of the impressions which I have
received here. Pray, who is he ? "

While speaking, I gazed more scrutinizingly than before
at the antiquated presence of the person who had admitted
me, and who still sat on his bench with the same restless
aspect, and dim, confused, questioning anxiety that I had
noticed on my first entrance. At this moment lie looked


eagerly toward us, and, half starting from liis seat, addressed

" I beseech you, kind sir," said he, in a cracked, melan-
choly tone, " have pity on the most unfortunate man in the
world. For Heaven's sake, answer me a single question !
Is this the town of Boston ? "

" You have recognized him now," said the virtuoso. " It
is Peter Rugg, the missing man. I chanced to meet him
the other day still in search of Boston, and conducted him
hither ; and, as he could not succeed in finding his friends, I
have taken him into my service as doorkeeper. He is some-
what too apt to ramble, but otherwise a man of trust and

" And might I venture to ask," continued I, " to whom am
I indebted for this afternoon's gratification ? "

The virtuoso, before replying, laid his hand upon an an-
tique dart or javelin, the rusty steel head of which seemed
to have been blunted, as if it had encountered the resistance
of a tempered shield, or breastplate.

" My name has not been without its distinction in the
world for a longer period than that of any other man alive,"
answered he. " Yet many doubt of my existence ; perhaps
you will do so to-morrow. This dart which I hold in my
hand was once grim Death's own weapon. It served him
well for the space of four thousand years ; but it iell bluuteJ
as you see, when he directed it against my breast."

These words were spoken with the calm and cold courtesy
of manner that had characterized this singular personage
throughout our interview. I fancied, it is time, that there
was a bitterness indefinably mingled with his tone, as of one
cut off from natural sympathies and blasted with a doom that
had been inflicted on no other human being, and by the re-
sults of which he had ceased to be human. Yet, withal, it
seemed one of the most terrible consequences of that doom
that the victim no longer regarded it as a calamity, but had


finally accepted it as the greatest good that could lave
befallen him.

" You are the Wandering Jew ! " exclaimed I.

The virtuoso bowed, without emotion of any kind, for, by
centuries of custom, he had almost lost the sense of strange-
ness in his fate, and was but imperfectly conscious of the
astonishment and awe with which it affected such as are
capable of death.

" Your doom is indeed a fearful one ! " said I, with irre-
pressible feeling and a frankness that afterwards startled me ;
" yet perhaps the ethereal spirit is not entirely extinct under
all tliis coiTupted or frozen mass of earthly life. Perhaps
the immortal spark may yet be rekindled by a breath of
heaven. Perhaps you may yet be permitted to die before it
is too late to live eternally. You have my prayers for such
a consummation. Farewell."

" Your prayers will be in vain," replied he, with a smile of
cold triumph. " My destiny is linked with the realities of
earth. You are welcome to your visions and shadows of a
future state ; but give me what I can see, and touch, and
understand, and I ask no more."

" It is indeed too late," thought I. " The soul is dead
within him."

Struggling between pity and horror, I extended my hand,
to which the virtuoso gave his own, still with the habitual
courtesy of a man of the world, but without a single heart-
throb of human brotherhood. The touch seemed like ice,
yet I know not whether morally or physically. As I de-
paried, he bade me observe that the inner door of the hall
was constructed with the ivory leaves of the gal-sway
through which JEneas and the Sibyl had been disn ir>sed
from Hades.



WITH Fanner Allan at the farm abode
% William and Dora. William was his son,
And she his niece. He often looked at them,
And often thought, " I '11 make them man and wife."
Now Dora felt her uncle's will in all,
And yearned towards William ; but the youth, because
He had been always with her in the house,
Thought not of Dora.

Then there came a day

When Allan called his son, and said, " My son :
I married late, but I would wish to see
My grandchild on my knees before I die :
And I have set my heart upon a match.
Now therefore look to Dora ; she is well
To look to ; thrifty too beyond her age.
She is my brother's daughter : he and I
Had once hard words, and parted, and he died
In foreign lands ; but for his sake I bred
His daughter Dora : take her for your wife ;
For I have wished this marriage, night and day,
For many years." But William answered short
" I cannot marry Dora ; by my life,
I will not many Dora," Then the old man
Was wroth, and doubled up his hands, and said


" You will not, boy ! you dare to answer thus !
But in my time a father's word was law,
And so it shall be now for me. Look to 't ;
Consider, William : take a month to think,
And let me have an answer to my wish ;
Or, by the Lord that made me, you shall pack,
And nevermore darken my doors again ! "
But William answered madly ; bit Ids lips,
And broke away. The more he looked at her,
The less he liked her ; and his ways were harsh ;
But Dora bore them meekly. Then before
The month was out he left his father's house,
And hired himself to work within the fields ;
And half in love, half spite, he wooed and wed
A laborer's daughter, Mary Morrison.

Then, when the bells were ringing, Allan called
His niece and said : " My girl, I love you well ;
But if you speak with him that was my son,
Or change a word with her he calls his wife,
My home is none of yours. My will is law."
And Dora promised, being meek. She thought,
" It cannot be : my uncle's mind will change ! "

And days went on, and there was born a boy
To William ; then distresses came on him ;
And day by day he passed his father's gate,
Heart-broken, and his father helped him not.
But Dora stored what little she could save,
And sent it them by stealth, nor did they know
Who sent it ; till at last a fever seized
On William, and in harvest-time he died.

Then Dora went to Mary. Mary sat
And looked with tears upon her boy, and thought

DORA. 23

Hard tilings of Dora. Dora came and said :

" I have obeyed my uncle until now,

And I have sinned, for it was all through me

This evil came on William at the first.

But, Mary, for the sake of him that 's gone,

And for your sake, the woman that he chose,

Aw 1 for this orphan, I am come to you :

y ji, know there has not been for these five years

So full a harvest : let me take the boy,

And I will set him in my uncle's eye

Among the wheat ; that when his heart is glad

Of the full harvest, he may see the boy,

And bless him for the sake of him that 's gone.

And Dora took the child, and went her way
Across the wheat, and sat upon a mound
That was unsown ; where many poppies grew.
Far off the fanner came into the field,
And spied her not ; for none of all his men
Dare tell him Dora waited with the child ;
And Dora would have risen and gone to him,
But her heart failed her ; and the reapers reaped,
And the sun fell, and all the land was dark.

But when the morrow came, she rose and took
The child once more, and sat upon the mound ;
And made a little wreath of all the flowers
That grew about, and tied it round his hat
To make him pleasing in her uncle's eye.
Then when the farmer passed into the field
He spied her, and he left his men at work,
And came and said, " Where were you yesterday ?
Whose child is that ? What are you doing here ? "
So Dora cast her eyes upon the ground,
And answered softly, " This is William's child ! "


" And did I not," said Allan, " did I not

Forbid you, Dora ? " Dora said c.gain :

" Do with me as you will, but take the child,

And bless him for the sake of him that 's gone ! n

And Allan said, " I see it is a trick

Got up betwixt you and the woman there.

I must be taught my duty, and by you !

You knew my word was law, and yet you dared

To slight it. Well for I will take the boy ;

"But go you hence, and never see me more."

So saying, he took the boy, that cried aloud
And struggled hard. The wreath of flowers fell
At Dora's feet. She bowed upon her hands,
And the boy's cry came to her from the field,
More and more distant. She bowed down liei head,
Remembering the day when first she came,
And all the things that had been. She bowed down
And wept in secret ; and the reapers reaped,
And the sun fell, and all the land was dark.

Then Dora went to Mary's house, and stood
Upon the threshold. Mary saw the boy
"Was not with Dora. She broke out in praise
To God, that helped her in her widowhood.
And Dora said, " My uncle took the boy ;
But, Mary, let me live and work with you :
He says that he will never see me more."
Then answered Mary, " This shall never be,
That thou shouldst take my trouble on thyself:
And, now I think, he shall not have the boy,
For he will teach him hardness, and to slight
His mother; therefore thou and I will go,
And I will have my boy, and bring him home ,
And I will beg of him to take thee back ;

DORA. 25

But if he will not take thee back again,
Then thou and I will live within one house,
And work for William's child, until he grows
Of age to help us."

So the women kissed

Each other, and set out and reached the farm.
The door was off the latch : they peeped and saw
The boy set up betwixt his grandsire's knees,
Who thrust him in the hollows of his arm,
And clapt him on the hands and on the cheeks,
Like one that loved him ; and the lad stretched out
And babbled for the golden seal that hung
From Allan's watch, and sparkled by the fire.
Then they came in ; but when the boy beheld
His mother, he cried out to come to her :
And Allan set him down, and Mary said :

" Father ! if you let me call you so
I never came a-begging for myself,
Or William, or this child ; but now I come
For Dora : take her back ; she loves you well.

Sir, when William died, he died at peace
With all men ; for I asked him, and he said,
He could not ever rue his marrying me.

1 had been a patient wife : but, Sir, he said
That he was wrong to cross his father thus :

1 God bless him ! ' he said, ' and may he never know
The troubles I have gone through ! ' Then he turned
His face and passed unhappy that I am !
But now, Sir, let me have my boy, for you
Will make him hard, and he will learn to slight
His father's memory ; and take Dora back,
And let all this be as it was before."

So Mary said, and Dora hid her face
By Mary. There was silence in the room ;


And all at once the old man burst in sobs :

" I have been to blame to blame ! I have killed my son !

I have killed him ! but I loved him my dear son !

May God forgive me ! I have been to blame.

Kiss me, my children ! "

Then they clung about

The old man's neck, and kissed him many times.
And all the man was broken with remorse,
And nil his love came back a hundred-fold;
And for three hours he sobbed o'er William's child,
Thinking of William.

So those four abode

Within one house together ; and as years
Went forward, Mary took another mate ;
But Dora lived unmarried till her death.



MARGARET BARCLAY, wife of Archibald Dein.
burgess of Irvine, had been slandered by her sister
in-la\v. Janet Lyal, the spouse of John Dein, brother of
Archibald, and by John Dein himself, as guilty of some act
of theft. Upon this provocation Margaret Barclay raised an
action of slander before the church court, which prosecution,
after some procedure, the kirk-session discharged, by direct-
ing a reconciliation between the parties. Nevertheless, al-
though the two women shook hands before the court, yet the
said Margaret Barclay declared that she gave her hand only
in obedience to the kirk-session, but that she still retained
her hatred and ill-will against John Dein and his wife Janet
Lyal. About this time the bark of John Dein was about to
sail for France, and Andrew Train, or Tran, Provost of the
burgh of Irvine, who was an owner of the vessel, went with
him, to superintend the commercial part of the voyage. Two
other merchants of some consequence went in the same ves-
sel, with a sufficient number of mariners. Margaret Barclay,
the revengeful person already mentioned, was heard to im-
precate curses upon the provost's argosy, praying to God
that sea nor salt-water might never bear the ship, and that
partans (crabs) might eat the crew at the bottom of the sea
When, under these auspices, the ship was absent on her
voyage, a vagabond fellow, named John Stewart, pretending


to have knowledge of jugglery, and to possess the power of

Online Libraryi00bostFavorite authors in prose and poetry → online text (page 2 of 66)