« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
as to the latter, I could now see that the its surface,' in this it is the soul road, already become a lane between which forces itself from within outhigh walls, was blocked up a short wards, and constrains the material body way before me by a barrier, I could to be the reflex 'of the immaterial not see what, behind which glowed the spirit. These reflections are forced fierce illumination so long my guid- from me by the consciousness I felt at ing-point.
that trying moment of possessing the So I am to be caught at last-clutch- power of detaching self from self, and ed, seized, overmastered by this hide- abandoning one to horrors under which ous Form, whose malignity may be mea- the other would have shrivelled into sured by the desperation of his pur- annihilation. I really do not wish to suit, and wrenched out of humanity, take the reader by surprise; I am far perhaps, into some horrible extrava. from inviting him to go on with me; I gance of agony, unutterable, incon- hardly wish him to do so. It is my duty ceivable, but endurable, for the long to pursue the thread of my narrative, term of vague hatred entertained for and I am determined to proceed; but no the victim by the monster that hunts it corresponding obligation lies upon anydown! There! its hand was close to body else. What I am bound to write, me that time-has touched me! Ah! no man-or woman-is bound to read. I spring forward with supernatural Indeed, unless with a determination to energy under the mesmerism of that believe, the reader had far better stop terrible contact, and fling myself at the here. There are things which lose half broad 'black door before me, which their terrors by being looked upon and opens of its own accord to receive me. looked into as either psychological or Even at that wild moment, I caught at physiological facts, which, if they were the only ráy of hope left. I turned hunted into the dark recesses of a mora short round to draw the bolt if possi- bid brain, would there put on a startble on the Pursuer. Too LATE! There ling aspect, and turn round upon us was his face, close to my own - inside. like wild beasts. One look was enough-I dropped to the The mystery of the conflagration earth insensible.
was resolved. A brick floor, spread
ing out on each side more than a hun. Relief? only a reprieve ! The terri- dred feet, sloped slightly upwards to a ble mystery was made plain! I could series of open furnaces, or grates, rangi not believe, or understand, or assent ing along the wall which faced me, and to, the horrors now around me. I re- giving forth to my eyes, and into the fused conviction of my own identity, surrounding court, and thence to the and abnegated the very existence of sky, a glare so intense, that I was oblig. what I saw, felt, and heard. It is cu. ed to look away, after one of those abrious how, in extreme circumstances, sorbing glances which the nature im. the soul may thus estrange itself, under planted within us all compels us to direct á strong and determined disclaimer, in the first instance towards any object, from what is that is, from wbat the however strange or terrific, at whatbodily senses it stands connected with ever cost. While my eyes were thus, report to be, and hold aloof, in some as it were, hurled back from what they high sense of self-subsisting isolation, had been directed to, and seemingly from contact with the Real and Actual blinded for ever, the image had been of its lower nature. It is thus that so strongly impressed upon the retina, martyrs at the stake have been heard that I was able, in that dark and quis to sing triumphant hymns, and seen vering chamber of vision, to look from with a visible expression of joy upon an inner position upon the image there their countenances no doubt only the imprinted, and could satisfy myself exponent of the real feelings within. that there were six distinct furnaces, In these instances, the relative state of huge dimensions, at equal distances of the two portions of our nature, along the wall. Were this all_had I while in its normal condition, is re- been, in short, merely a spectator of versed. For whereas, under ordinary this conflagration-I might have looked circumstances, the body is the conduit on, or looked away, with some degree of impressions to the soul, which reflects of calmness; or rather, with such exback the feelings, passions, and sensa- citement merely as so wonderful % spectacle might be expected to pro- click and strain, such as machinery duce upon a naturally sensitive and ner. gives, to be heard even over sounds vous temperament. But, oh I let it not much louder and more continuous. be supposed for a moment that I felt But this evidence of scientific mefree to consider myself a lounging visitor chanical application, far from lessencome there to book wonders for the ing the sense of the wild and horrible DUBLIN UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE. There in the aspect of the whole scene, added were good reasons for this not being so. another element that of mystery and I have said nothing of the Follower-- design-to the simpler terrors of the the Pursuer--the Form--the Feature raging element of fire. the Thing. He had me now; he had Up towards this blinding wall of me bound; he had me powerless; he had flame was my body led-irresistibly, me pale, trembling, clammy with cold slowly, continually - notwithstanding sweat; he had me, able to walk as he the desperate protestations of my inled ;-he had me, WALKING UP TO- ner spirit. I could now see. Nothing WARDS THE FIRE! I could no more now was too glowing, too scorching for my have resisted accompanying him, than a organs. I could discern particulars. short time previous I could have belped The moving things were men. Some fleeing before him. He had my will were busy in shovelling fuel in at the in the grasp of his, as the mesmeriser roaring throat of the furnace, and these seizes his patient by the hair of the came out in vivid portraiture of vermi. head; and his will was that I should lion, for the instant that the brawny, advance.
naked arm dashed its load inwards; Nearer! nearer! — yet nearer! and then darted back into the blackness Strange to say, my eyes are able to of spectres the next moment. Some, look straight upon the glow. I can as I have remarked already, were ocdiscern objects now. Shapes move to- cupied over the rotating bodies—how, and-fro across the mouth of the fur. it baffled me for a second to conjecture; naces, of far tougher material than but, another step, and I saw Nebuchadnezzar's guards, or they would have shrunk up into tinder. And I was to undergo a similar proWhat are the wretches about ? Cook- cess !. Well, I suppose we have all ing, apparently. Some of them wear of us the power to bear what cannot be nightcaps and aprons, and use ladles. escaped from. At all events, the fire, A horizontal shadow, too, crosses the which I had expected to have broiled line of fires. It is as impossibe to de- my brain to madness, and shrivelled scribe as it is to account for the loath. my skin to tinder, strange to say had ing revulsion of feeling, the secret and an effect of its own very different from horrible misgiving, with which I gazed what I had anticipated. My sufferupon this parallel of combustion—this ings, instead of increasing up to the black equator, stretching across the point of annihilation, arrived at a torrid regions of fire, and swerving and maximum just where the corporeal winding ever, so as to present no con. substance of the frame became incatinuing outline to my eye—for such I pable of any longer resisting the mesoon discovered to be its characteristic. chanical effects of the power of heat. Not only did the shadow bulge out, From that point, a sensible reaction where it opposed itself to the middle began to be experienced, and at the of each furnace, tapering off to each same time as sensible an augmentation end, but changed its shape by a slow in the perceptive and rational facul. and regular transition, returning, after ties, which appeared to undergo a proa certain uniform period, to the origi- cess of sublimation, and expand and nal figure ; and thence passing through purify in an extraordinary degree, by the same cycles, to return to the phase the very means which dislodged them from whence it started. This, I con- from their fleshly tabernacle, affording cluded, could only be explained in one a parallel to the case of manuscript manner-namely, by the rotation of on paper, which, when it is cast into the an uneven outline upon an axis. The flame, at first is obliterated, but, as objects, whatever they were, were the material is reduced to tinder, graturning horizontally and slowly round dually resumes its legibility, until the before the fires. There was also, as I whole thing shrivels and disappears; soon became conscious, an occasional with this (also analogous) peculiarity
-that whereas the writing is originally similar sulphureous basting? Yet so it black, on white paper, now it is the pas was—and I actually helped the cook per that is black, while the characters next me to extract the stake from the stand out in light upon it! Whether - body of the blackest of the martyrs, my conviction was philosophy or not, and dispose it upon a sort of bier, I will not, even now, pretend to de- stretcher, or tressel, to be conveyed by cide; but it looked very like it at the a set of uncouth - looking villains time, and I fancied that I understood through a door to the left. that all this was in conformity with Whoever has studied the physiogcertain high laws of nature, and re- nomy of a roasted hare may realise cognised the fitness and propriety of some conception of what must havegone the process as a natural one, quite as through my mind during the process clearly as I did its delightful relief to of cooking. I took a long time doing. myself individually.
The fellow who had the basting of me Relief I certainly did feel; and let me burn once or twice; besides this relief proportionate to the proxi. which, the spit had not been intromity of the destroying elementi-the duced comfortably, and I scarcely felt consequence of which was, that now, as easy as I fancied I ought to have done instead of resisting the conducting under the circumstances. They had Genius, I myself pressed forward, not done me justice I thought. Neverand bent with preternatural curiosity theless, I contrived to go round like over the blackening masses turning in the rest, and to imbibe a tolerable the focus of the flame. If anything quantity of the bitumen which, by dewas wanting to assure me that a change grees, filled up all cavities, and made had taken place, it was supplied by the me at last much more like a pigskin apathy - was it lighter than apathy? buoy than a roasted Cockney. The
with which I received the convic- last feature that remained open was tion of what these roasting substances my mouth, and with it I was going to
Not a thrill of horror — not a remonstrate, when a ladleful, piping spasm of disgust did I feel as I found bot, was administered with such premy eye within six inches of a scorched cision, that it exactly filled it up to the and blackening HUMAN BODY! Yes! level of the cheek, leaving the face there it was - there they were-six of pretty nearly an even surface, like the them spitted on the same dismal stake, monkey-end of a cocoa-nut. My eyes rolling over and over slowly in the had been burnt out and filled in some glare ; and six demoniac - looking time previous; and it was during this wretches-were they demons?-actu- last operation that another of those ally basting the six corpses with what unforeseen yet intelligible changes suseemed to be the blackest pitch that pervened, of which I have already given ever oozed from the accursed depths an instance. The deprivation of my of the Dead Sea! There they were, natural vision, and the substitution I say, turning mournfully and mono- for the cornea and its humours of the tonously round, losing, at every ladle- aspbaltic compound, wrought a change ful, more and more of the semblance scarcely less vast in the visual powers of humanity, and growing more and of the spirit within me. I lost hold more pitchy and diabolical ; while, as of my particular identity. I felt it go arm, or leg, or head fell over, the as a ship slips her moorings; and glid. black kitchen-stuff of this infernal ed gradually into an abstractioncuisine dripped into vessels prepared cosmopolite representative of a species, with a ghostly economy to receive it! under which metamorphosis I was able Will it be believed that, in full view to take in the inner and primitive of all this, I stood prepared myself to meaning of things, and to discover in take the turn which I knew was to be every object presented to me, not only mine, and was even able to watch with that more is meant than meets the comparative calmness the moment eye, but that that “more”
may gewhen one or other of the dishes, the nerally be made pretty much what the word is irresistibly suggested, though observer chooses. How agreeable was not the most appropriate-being de- this change! Such a vast deal of clared done enough, I should be trussed, trouble saved! It was, I saw, a shortspitted, and submitted to the action of hand way to satisfactory conclusions the furnace, under the correction of a on doubtful subjects, leaving the ima
gination free to take its range through process going on before me the conthe fields formerly parked and paled nexion existing between the succesup for the exclusive use of Reason, sive arrivals from the furnace-room where it might flush up and bring and these silent receptacles ; the se. down thoughts of every wing, without quence was completed in my mind so much as a game-certificate from the without any extraordinary disturbci-devant proprietor of the manor. In ance ; nay, with something which my glee at the transition, I submitted might have been termed a morbid inwithout a murmur to be unbroached terest, in an archæological point of view, and hurried off on the shoulders of a in the performance. But one thing I gang of sulphur-smutched wretches, was not able to shut my eyes to, in through the door to the left, into an- pitch darkness as they were. other apartment.
Alesh I had resigned to its fate long Arrived there, the scene was changed. ago. But my bones I had tacitly reIt was silent, gloomy, and damp, the served my right over. They were chamber in which I found myself. A not in the bond. I felt that I ought musty antiquity seemed to breathe to do battle for my own skeleton, through it, as if it was charged with against antiquity itself
. And here a the air of another era. This was health glance told me that there was not a and hilarity to my present abstracted case in the room into which I could fit! spirit, which seemed to gulp the mouldy My tailor had often softened my heart element with as congenial a relish as into paying him an instalment of my the home-sick Swiss inhales the re- bill, by informing me that I measured storing breezes of his native bills. forty-two inches round the chest. Not Into this apartment many roasted te- one of these measured so much, even nants of the spits had already been sight measure ; and the process going brought, and now enabled me to judge, on before mé enabled me to judge how by the operations they were under- much had to be allowed for besides. going, what was before me. A circu- That process is described in a word. lating process was here again the order Endless lengths of coarse, blay linen, of the day, and I was able to satisfy let down from rollers in the ceiling, myself that the machinery, which set were grasped in the hands of certain the long and shining broaches of the personages who, as the well-tarred furnace-room in motion, exercised its bodies, once again set a-turning before functions here, too, making certain them, went round, strained the linen frames revolve with similar velocity, with all their might, and passed and in the same horizontal direc- it up and down, and here and there, tion.
and over and over, until the mass These frames and their uses, I will took gradually a form correspond. describe more in detail by-and-bye; ing to the inner surface of the but in the meantime a particular cir- cases ranged along the walls. Now cumstance, by its effects upon my nerves, and then one of the party advanced served to convince me that I was not and dropped a scarabæus, a bead, or so completely absorbed into an adjec- some other trinket, in
the tive as to be altogether independent of folds, which was instantly secured and the wretched piece of substantive char- concealed in the grasp of the next coal, once my body. Along the sides swathe which passed over the spot. of this room (which was lighted from The meaning of the whole thing was above by dim burners) were ranged plain — we were to be mummies ! But rows of upright cases, which might still, my chest bone! Was it to be have passed for caryatides, so regular- broken down, like a lean turkey's? I ly did they stand, and so perfectly did here arrived at the climax of my huthey resemble those archaic represen- manity. I determined to resist, should tatives of fallen power and conquered the attempt be made, believing as I pride; but which I was not long in did that there was nothing in my bav. recognising for the outer envelopes of ing surrendered my skin to its basting mummies, not only by their actual and cooking which should prevent me configuration, but by the characters from standing up for my bones, á and symbols with which they were co- point conceded, I knew, to the mumvered. This was nothing in itself; my even of the ibis and ape nor was it much, that I saw in the The Feature stood beside me.
“ Am I to
into one of those skins - fierce sunshine - scorching cases ?"
sand a blinding dust - two camels, " Yes."
one lying down, close to the white “How am I to be got in ?” bones of one of its own species, and « In the usual way.'
looking patient and scriptural — two " What is that?"
bearded and turbaned Orientals, By compression.".
swarthy and profound, as if the secrets “What power is to be applied ?" of the East lay hid in the depth of
“ That"--pointing to the swathing their melancholy dignity- and myself, process.
in my gigantic cartonage, with my What? bandaged down ?" forty-two inches bandaged down at “Precisely."
least three thousand years below the “ How many inches do you suppose surface of the present, chuckling inI am round the breast bone?"
ternally with pride and satisfaction at “Let me see ; thirty;- six, I sup- the idea that the ordinary dimensions
of primitive humanity were so far “It is plain you never made a waist- exceeded in my instance, that only an coat. Forty-two!”
odd giant or so of Memphis or Thebes “ Forty-two?"
could be found to supply me with my Forty-two."
pasteboard, The Thing looked aghast. It drew Presently a small caravan drew one of the swaddlers aside, and whis.
nigh. pered in his ear. He stared at me "Á compatriot, by Osiris !” I exwith a look of astonishment, and I claimed, as I descried an alpaca um. heard him say to another similar offi. brella overshadowing a flaxen-haired, cial
dreamy-looking young man, as he sat “ Forty-two inches l we were not gracefully upon á hump. The Arabs prepared for that! something must bent low, the young Saxon touched be done !"
his brim. I could have smiled, but for the “Ah, yes !” he exclaimed, with a pitch, as I saw two or three of them sort of drowsy enthusiasm, espying go out hastily. By-and-bye (I was “A relic of the ancient world! let alone in the meantime) they re. Egypt! abode of more than men ! turned, bringing in a cartonage of Land of mystery, wonder, the pyramore extraordinary dimensions than mids! in which mortals have lived any I had ever seen, and placed it before history, and its very dead have with a look of triumph standing up not died! Salam, chiefs; you've a like a violoncello-case before me. Iin. mummy to sell. Quel est le prix ?" stantly stepped into it, and requested Here his dragoman interposed, and them to do me the favour to shut it interpreted him into Oriental phrase. up. They did so, and, there was a ology, making rather a free and elegood two inches to spare between my vated translation of the original. The ribs and the pasteboard of its inside Bedouins prostrated themselves, and surface.
could scarcely be induced to raise “ Content !” I cried, and walked their foreheads from the dust. When out again.
they did so, they laid their bony hands “ This is, however, an anachronism," upon me, and at the same time menmuttered the Form, as he glanced at tioned a fabulous sum of money. It the characters on the outside, and was fortunate that I was as tightly passed bis hand along it.
“ We want
wrapped up in my antiquity as I was, you to be at least a thousand years or I must have burst my hieroglyphics. older than your envelope. However, I never was thought worth one-tenth we can't help that now; we have only of the money in my life. Only think to omit the scarabæi, etcetera, and do of my fetching that much in my you up a little looser, that's all.” shroud! I expected nothing less than
I almost cracked my cheeks with the scornful repudiation of a bargain the effort to laugh. As it was, I felt so absurd on the part of my countrysomething, ooze from my eye.
It man. My astonishment may be ima, really was too good a joke,
gined, when I heard the Englishman
say to his dragomanPalm trees - ä low tent of black « Count out the cash to the fellows,