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was assured, my personal appearance was far from indicating any fatal result, I felt as if life were passing away from me.
At this juncture, unfortunately, the Doctor was summoned to attend his sick mother at Bath ; but as he left full instructions as to my treatment, and contemplated an early return to his home, I would not allow any other physician to be called in.
His absence, however, was unexpectedly protracted, and I dragged on without any material alteration in my state, until one morning a sudden and totally new sensation paralysed my whole frame. My head swam; I felt as if Death had laid his hand upon my heart; and I had just breath enough to whisper to my attendant
“Nurse, I am dying! all is over! I feel suffocated. Take off some of the bed-clothes.” These were the last words I uttered before
burial! Marvellous and almost incredible as the statement may appear, I was only in a cataleptic trance, for although my limbs were stretched out in all the rigidity of death, my senses and my consciousness were by no means obliterated. Nay, they were in some respects intensified, for I could hear a distant whisper which would have been previously inaudible; one eye, being only half-closed, retained its full power of vision, and though the other was quite shut, methought I could see through the lid as clearly as if it had been a spectacle-glass. My tongue having lost all power of motion, I was utterly speechless, but my impeded breath, struggling in the transit of my body from vitality to inanimation, forced itself from my throat with a noise of gurgling and strangulation,
The fat nurse who had htherto approached me with a maternal smile and a coaxing voice, as she exclaimed, --“ Now, my dear good sir, it's time to take the pills. How purely you do look this morning! My life on't we shall have you riding the white cob again in a week or two!" -the fat nurse, I say, had no sooner caught the choking sound I have mentioned, than she croaked in her natural accents -- Them's the deathrattles! Then it is all over, sure enough, and high time too, God knows. Hanged if I didn't think the bothering old chap would never die. Can't imagine, for my part, how people can go on lingering in this way, willy-nilly, shilly-shally. If they can't die, they should live; and if they can't live, they should die. That's the worst of sickness; it do make folks so uncommon selfish, which is my peticklar 'bomination."
Hastening into the parlour with which my bedroom communicated, this hater of selfishness snatched up a valuable shawl belonging to my daughter, as well as a cloth cloak of my own, and spread them over me, an action which would have surprised me, after having so recently requested her to remove some of the clothes, had I not recollected that these rapacious harpies claim as their perquisite everything lying on the bed when its occupant dies. Oh! how I wished for the use of my tongue, when I heard her afterwards affirming that the poor dear gentleman was “sadly cold and shivery just afore he went off, and so she covered him up comfortable.” Making no further addition to her perquisites than by pocketing a few odds and ends lying about the room, the worthy creature, putting on the most heart-broken look she could assume, and with a ready-prepared handkerchief in her hand, hurried away to announce my death to my daughter and the household.
As Sarah had driven over to Doctor Linnel's to ascertain the day of his return, for which she was becoming hourly more impatient, no one entered
my chamber for more than two hours, an interval which gave me leisure to reflect upon my perilous and unprecedented state. In all my former attacks the mind had sympathised with the suspended vitality of the frame, but now I had vital senses and apprehensiveness in a dead integument.' Was this dissolution of partnership temporary only? How long would it last? Was it final? What then was to be my ultimate fate? I had read of disembodied spirits, and I could understand the continuance of such a separate existence; but as for me, I was entombed alive in my own body-destined, perhaps, to die hideously and loathsomely, as my corporeal particles putrified and decomposed. I had read, too, of misers able victin who, being buried in a trance, had turned round in their coffins; and of some who, having forced themselves out of them, had been discovered as huddled skeletons in a corner of the vault, whither they had crawled to die of hunger and exhaustion. Recoiling with a mental shudder from such horrible thoughts, I clung to the hope that, although my present fearful seizure was decidedly different from all my previous attacks, it might, after a little longer interval, terminate, like them, in my revival.
While I was alternately horrified and reassured by these anticipations of my fate, my daughter entered, and after bursting into a passion of tears as she kissed my insensible lips, she kneeled down by my bed-side, and prayed long and earnestly for the discontinuance of my trance; for, in spite of the positive assurances of my death, she would not abandon the hope of my recovery. Some one, however, in the house, probably the nurse, who wished the forfeiture of the shawls to be confirmed, chose to consider me unequivocally defunct, for I heard the servants closing the shutters in the other apartments, and was made aware of various post mortem proceedings, to which I listened with conflicting feelings that baffle all description. The house was now quiet, but occasional sounds still fell upon my ear with an ominous and harrowing significancy, for every passing hour announced by the hall clock seemed to be a passing-bell that ratified
my decease, and brought me so much nearer to the appalling moment when I should be buried alive. At intervals other sounds were distinguishable ; and as I caught the grating of wheels on the road, the whistle of a railway train, the clattering and chattering of my servants at their dinner, it seemed to me both unfeeling and unnatural that, on the very day of my supposed death, the world should be pursuing its ordinary occupations, and my own servants regaling themselves with their customary appetites, as if no such catastrophe had occurred.
Thus I remained, with no other companion than my own sad thoughts, till the evening, when my daughter's maid and the housemaid, having solemnly pledged themselves to stand by each other, whatever might happen, and grasping each other's hand to ensure the performance of the contract, stole on tiptoe into the chamber to have a peep at me, neither of them having ever seen a dead man. Peering at me furtively and askance, as if afraid of being scared by my ghost, they agreed, whisperingly, that I looked for all the world as if I were fast asleep, although
Nurse had maintained that I was as dead as a door-nail. Both declared that I should be no real gentleman if I had not remembered all the servants in my will; and as mourning was a matter of course, one of them had resolved that her dress should be made to fasten in front, and the other knew of a most becoming pattern for her white muslin cap. But their conversation was not limited to such frivolities, for the lady's maid declared, on the authority of her mistress, that Dr. Linnel, before he went away, had written to Mr. George, stating that he must return immediately; that Miss Sarah had said she hoped he would arrive the very next morning, and that the Doctor himself was expected back on the day after; whereupon they stole away, with their hands still locked together.
In these tidings there was no small comfort. Should I revive, my son would have an instant opportunity of clearing himself from all suspicion touching the Restorative, in which I still felt a hope rather than a confidence that he would succeed. Should my trance continue, there was no fear of my being buried alive, for Linnel would again be at my
bedside long before the time for my interment, and he was too skilful and experienced a physician not to distinguish between real and apparent death. My most appalling and revolting terror being thus removed, I patiently counted the clock till my usual bed-tiine, hoping that I might then fall asleep, and so escape the tedium of a long wakeful night. But sleep is a provision of nature for repairing the day's wear and tear; in my cataleptic state there had been no such expenditure of corporeal energy, and consequently there was no requirement of repose. Perhaps my mind was still too much agitated to settle into any sort of oblivion; perhaps it would never be otherwise, and my trance-existence-might be a perpetual consciousness, and consequently an unvaried misery. Such a state must soon lead to madness; but how could a man be mad and motionless, a maniac and a statue ? What inconceivable misery, to feel your brain raving and raging with an insanity which can find no vent for its fury, either by the explosions of the voice or the convulsive violence of the limbs! In such sad thoughts, wearily and drearily did the first night of my living death drag its slow length along.
BY W. BRAILSFORD,
EUROPEAN LIFE AND MANNERS.* When the famous Baron Munchausen fastened his horse, one dark winter's night after a deep fall of snow, to what he supposed was the stump of a tree, and waking next morning saw his steed dangling from the village steeple, his surprise, as he avouches, was extreme. Apparently, however, the veracious baron's astonishment was scarcely greater than that of the author of the "Familiar Letters” on “European Life and Manners” when he found that his friends had actually preserved the numerous epistles which he wrote to them from this side of the Atlantic during a sojourn in Europe of something more than five years. This being the case, our readers do not require to be told that “ the letters were not designed for publication.” Yet, after all, such was their destiny. Fate proved stronger than free-will. Their extraordinary merit had somehow got bruited abroad; “ many friends expressed a strong wish to possess them, and that,” adds Mr. Colman," is the reason of their publication.”
We cannot but think that Mr. Colman was right in yielding to the widely-extended solicitation ; for, though he might have satisfied his friends by a manifold process on a large scale, or even by lithographic aid, the object which those who do not write for publication have generally in view would hardly have been answered: the letters would not have obtained the popularity which now that they are in print seems likely to attend them; neither would the world have experienced the gratification which must necessarily follow their perusal. We learn from his preface, that Mr. Colman “had proposed a graver work than this upon European society,” that he has actually begun it, and that he designs “ presently to give it to the public.” But, en attendant the fulfilment of this
purpose, let us gratefully receive what we have got, and try to make the most of it. It is not often that we have the opportunity of gazing upon such a “picture of private and domestic life.
In painting this picture, however, Mr. Colman says that his greatest difficulty has been that his letters - may be deemed too personal ;" and his principal anxiety, “ lest they should be thought to approach a violation of private confidence.” He certainly does make some revelations which border closely on personality, but how far he is obnoxious to the charge of violating private confidence our readers shall form their own opinion. It was, at first, Mr. Colman's determination not to publish a single name; but he “found this an idle attempt, and that individuals would be traced by circumstances, as certainly as if distinctly announced.” To this account, therefore, must be placed the greater part of the startling discoveries which his volumes have made public; and all we can hope is, that the individuals whose “style of living" he has sketched with the minute pencil of a Gerard Douw, will be as lenient to him as ourselves. They ought to be so, for, acccording to Mr. Colman's showing, “pains were most kindly taken to initiate me into those particulars ; the information was, though entirely without ostentation, most kindly given; written lists of servants, and written and printed rules of domestic management, were repeatedly
European Life and Manners; in Familiar Letters to Friends. By Henry Colman. Author of “ European Agriculture, and the Agriculture of France, Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland.” 2 vols. Boston and London. 1849.
placed in my hands, with a full and expressed liberty to use them as I pleased.” To violate private confidence, as far as these things are concerned, is consequently a difficult matter; but we will not prejudge the question. Mr. Colman gives an equally good reason for turning the knowledge thus obtained to account. The style of living is so "wholly different from that which prevails” in the United States (of which country Mr. Colman is a citizen), and “the interest in these minute details” is so intense at Boston, New York, and other great cities of the Union, that not to have emptied the vials of his information for the benefit of the American coteries (of which Mr. Colman is now, without doubt, the idol) would have been looked upon by his countrymen-and countrywomenas an act of lèze-majesté against the laws of politeness and good manners, which, we gather from the context of his book, appear rather to require extension in his native land. We have, ourselves, implied our obligations to Mr. Colman; but before we proceed to show why, we feel bound to mention that he states in a second
preface -as a matter deserving to stand apart-that the letters record "only a small portion of the kindness" shown him. What would have been their effect upon the public if the whole had been narrated, we almost tremble to think of.
We shall now, following Mr. Colman's example, plunge in medias res.
In the month of May, in the year 1843, he finds himself wandering through the streets of London, in a state of utter amazement at the wilderness of houses, streets, lanes, courts, and kennels,” in which he is suddenly located. From the particularity of his description, "where seven streets all radiated from one centre,” we suspect he must have made his début in the Seven Dials; but it is no matter where, for all he meets enchants and astonishes him. He thus describes the effect produced by the vast extent of London :
I have walked until I have had to sit down on some door-steps out of pure weariness, and yet have not got at all out of the rushing tide of population. I have rode [ridden] on the driver's seat on an omnibus, and there has been a constant succession of squares, parks, terraces, and long lines of single houses for miles, and continuous blocks and single palaces in the very heart of London, occupying acres of ground. I do not speak, of course, of the large parks, which, for their trees, their verdure, their neatness, their embellishments, their lakes and cascades, their waters swarming with fish, and covered with a great variety of water-fowl, which they have been able to domesticate, and their grazing flocks of sheep and cattle, and their national monuments, and the multitude of well-dressed pedestrians, and of elegantly-mounted horsemen and horsewomen, and of carriages and equipages as splendid as gold and silver can make them, are beautiful beyond even my most romantic dreams. I do not exaggerate ; I cannot go beyond the reality.
This is making the most of the ducks and geese in St. James's Park ; but our national vanity will not suffer us to quarrel with Mr. Colman for slightly overcharging the picture. As Sir Lucius O'Trigger says, “When affection guides the pen, he must be a brute who finds fault with the style ;” and the couleur de rose of Mr. Colman is of so tender a tint, that we may be pardoned if we see in it the warmth of a stronger sentiment. Was it owing to this amiable feeling, or to “the malady of not listening”-as Falstaff calls premeditated deafness-that Mr. Colman is enabled to say: “ Though I have been a great deal in the streets, and in crowds without number, and have seen vexation enough in passing, I do not think I have heard a single oath since I have been in the city.” (?) This is something worth noting, even although Mr. Colman