ePub 版

more permanently than others, it is change in the mind of man occurs withbecause the brain, for some unknown out a cause. We may not detect it; reason, answers longer and more readi- but it exists. The action of the human ly to the stimulus which awakens them. brain is no exception to the laws which We retain the sensations aroused by govern matter. If it thinks, it is bean exciting scene with great freshness, cause something made it think. It and recall it with great vividness; but answers to some direct stimulus, and gradually the newer sensations, aroused the answer is thought. by later influences, occupy the brain. It may be said that chance exists in Gradually our ability to experience the reference of one event to another., them passes away, and no stimulus can The falling of the brick had no connecrecall them. The poignant grief of tion with the child's broken arm ; it youth cannot be reawakened in age by was therefore a chance occurrence in any mnemonic stimulus. The time ar- that relationship of events. But this is rives when all ability to recall the event merely our finite ignorance. If I had which caused it disappears. When we perceptions and power to grasp all the reflect upon the myriad brain sensa- ramifications of all the forces of nature, tions, the thoughts and emotions of our I should have traced out the coincident past lives, of which so few now remain fall of the brick with my unusual walk or can be recalled, and what a vast as readily as I trace the passing of the number have passed away, utterly be. earth between the sun and the moon yond the power of repetition, we can on such a year, hour, minute, second. understand that these thoughts and The only difference is that in the first emotions are states of our nervous case the workings of those laws are far structures, which disappear when their beyond the measure of my faculties. causes are removed, which reappear The great motive-powers of the uniwhen those causes are repeated, — if verse all move in obedience to eternal our structure remains identical, if we law, out of the action of which has have not too much changed, - and arisen the present status of that uniwhich cannot be reiterated when our verse. There is no exception. If there substance has so far differentiated that seem to be, it is because of human the same incident force cannot produce ignorance and weakness. The deeper the same result as at first.

we examine into these laws, the more The incident force which initiates all wonderfully comprehensive they apthese changes of thought, as well as pear, holding the great host of suns the vast ramifications of all the phys- in their orbits, and inciting the human ical and psychical phenomena of na- brain to a thought of love. The idea ture, is fixed in immutable law. As no of chance vanishes from us in the conchange in the physical status of nature templation of their vast complexity and takes place without a cause, so no invariable action.



terest. But I was reminded, not long

since, of a singular event in my life, the IN

year of our Lord 1845, I, Wil- which I have often thought of commitliam Ayres, formerly Surgeon of ting to paper, when I had the leisure the —th Regiment H. E. I. C. S., re- and the disposition to do so; and just signed my commission; packed up my now I have both. worldly possessions, which are few; I was strolling leisurely about town bade farewell to my friends, who are the other day, enjoying my cigar and numerous; and sailed in the steamer the shop windows, when I was attracted Vivid, Belknap commander, for London. by a water-color drawing of the quaint The cause of my departure was three- old town and Abbey of Tewkesbury. fold: firstly, I was too old for the How familiar to me were those gray service ; secondly, I was weary of it; walls; the tall tower, on the very top of thirdly, it was, as I had good reason to which the wall-flowers wave, just as suppose, weary of me. And I had seen those others did, upon which, as a boy, enough of life to enable me to appre- I often cast a longing eye; those low, ciate the advantages to be derived from moss-grown headstones, slanting in all a graceful withdrawal from office, while possible and impossible directions; and, still capable of doing some good and beyond, the sunny meadows. A fair, inspiring some regret; I had a very peaceful spot, but one which I will never strong dislike and dread of lingering willingly visit again, easy of access and until younger and better men were im- pleasant as it is. patient to step into my shoes, and even Writing on this quiet summer mornmy best friends were led to wish that I ing, with the sun shining through the could realize my advancing infirmities. open windows, and, distinctly audible,

Such, briefly stated, were the reasons the shrill chattering of old Lady Scrampfor my resignation. I landed in Eng- ton's parrot two doors off, and the land in the summer of 1845, and in the scarcely less shrill voices of two dowafollowing autumn took up my abode at gers who have stopped their Bath chairs No. 9 Lansdowne Crescent, Chelten- beneath my window, and are arguing ham, in company with my old friend volubly, - even now a strange terror and comrade, Major Buckstone, also possesses me as I recall what I once of the —th, who is, like myself, verg- saw and heard in Tewkesbury more ing upon seventy, gray-haired, and a than forty years ago. Those scenes bachelor.

have been long absent from my memory. We live very comfortably together; I have striven to forget them altogether, so comfortably that we are no more but in vain; and I will no longer hesitate inclined than was that most genial of about giving them to the world. bachelors, Charles Lamb, to go out upon Early on the morning of the 4th of the mountains and bewail our celibacy. December, 1799, I arrived at TewkesI have not taken up my pen to-day, bury in a violent snow-storm, and put up however (and for the convenience of the at the Angel, intending to remain there reader I will inform him that I am writ- through the day, and go on to Gloucesing on the fourth day of August, 1846), ter by the night mail. From Glouces– I have not taken up my pen to-day, I ter I intended to go to Laceham on a repeat, for the purpose of dwelling upon visit to a married sister who lived there, the history or habits of two quiet old and from Laceham to London, where I men, neither of whom can make any had already begun life as a surgeon. I pretensions to a claim upon public in- had business to transact which took me

ing fast."

to a certain village near Tewkesbury, lected one and began to read. But the and it was late in the day when I began comfortable fire, the good dinner, and my walk back.

As I made my way the gin I had taken were too much for through the deep snow, however, I came me, and in five minutes I was asleep. to the conclusion that it would be im- I woke up in about half an hour with a passable for a coach and four; and I was sudden start, and, highly disgusted with confirmed in my opinion by the land- myself for my weakness, fixed my eyes lord of the Angel, who was evidently on the paper, determined to read steadimuch relieved by my arrival, and who ly for an hour. But my mind wandered, at once declared that there was small and my eyelids drooped in spite of my prospect of my getting away from the efforts. I did indeed keep my eyes Angel for two days at least.

open, but they fixed themselves vaguely “I never saw such a storm in my on the paper, and for five minutes I had life, sir,” he concluded.

6 The snow

been staring at the same column, when is near two feet deep already, and fall- a paragraph caught my eye, and I was

suddenly roused to a full consciousness After spending two hours in pacing of what I had been reading. It was the bar-room, looking at my watch, headed "Shocking Occurrence," and comparing it with the inn clock, and then ran as follows: “ The distinguished running to the door to see if there were member for Cumberland, the Right any signs of the coach, by which means Honorable Harrington Carteret HuntI increased my impatience tenfold, I ingdon of Huntingdon Hall and Averndecided to make the best of my situa- dean Manor, Cumberland, was found tion, and retired to a private room, murdered at the latter residence on called for some gin and hot water, put the 24th of September last. It will my feet into slippers, and settled myself doubtless be recollected that for the comfortably for the evening. I was the past two weeks public curiosity has more disposed to be contented, as the been much excited relative to the disstorm had increased in violence, the appearance of the unfortunate gentlesnow was deepening fast, and it was so man, and it may be a melancholy satisbitterly cold and dreary without as to faction to his numerous friends and adenhance my sense of the warmth and mirers to be informed of the few particcomfort within. The room in which I ulars connected with his disastrous fate. was seated was a small parlor on the On Friday, the 8th of September, Mr. ground-floor of the Angel, with case- Huntingdon left home on horseback, ment windows, a tolerably large fire- to attend a public meeting at Cleveham, place in which a generous fire was

ten miles away.

He declined the atblazing, a dining-table, a large easy- tendance of his groom, saying that he chair, and last, though not least, an am- should probably not be at home until ple screen, so placed as to exclude the late, and that he preferred to ride alone. draughts of air wiich swept under the He arrived at Cleveham at eight o'clock, door. I was com ortable enough, with took the chair of the meeting, and, after one exception. I had neglected to put having discharged the business of the a book in my portmanteau, and an ex- evening with his accustomed clearness amination of the stores of the Angel re- and despatch, delivered a brief but forcisulted in the discovery of a torn copy of ble address, and left early, alleging, as " The Mysteries of Udolpho," which I an excuse for his abrupt departure, the had read several times, and a soiled file fact that he had business at home, and of country newspapers, none less than a wished to return as early as possible. year old. I looked them over carelessly, That home he never again entered. as they lay on the table, and was pushing His horse was found the next morning them away in disgust, when it occurred wandering on Maxon Moor, on the to me that they might at least serve to other side of the county; and no one, it keep me awake, and I accordingly se- seems, had seen Mr. Huntingdon after VOL. XXII. — NO. 131.


he quitted Cleveham on the previous been thrown away by the assassin in night. The animal, though spirited and his flight. The house was searched, powerful, was completely under the con- but no further trace of the murderer was trol of his distinguished master, who discovered, nor did there seem to have possessed in a remarkable degree the been any attempt to rifle the body, which, rare and enviable suaviter in modo, though much decomposed, was found fortiter in re. Any supposition, there- evidently in the attitude which Mr. fore, that Mr. Huntingdon was killed by Huntingdon had assumed before he was a fall from his horse was groundless; struck, and one which was very common and although a search was at once in- with him. His right hand still held the stituted, and conducted by Messrs. pen, and rested on the table; the left Smith and Belrow, of London, with their was thrust into his breast. Everything usual skill and perseverance, nothing seems to indicate the fact that the murwhatever was discovered, and his un- derer fied the moment the horrible timely fate might ever have remained deed was committed, probably alarmed a mystery, had it not been discovered by some sound. A purse containing by an accident. A laborer employed on forty sovereigns was found in the pockthe Clareville estate, which joins Avern- et of Mr. Huntingdon's coat; and his dean Manor, had occasion to pass signet-ring, a large and valuable emerthrough Averndean, and, on passing the ald, with the Huntingdon coat of arms manor-house, noticed, to his surprise, deeply engraven upon it, on the little that the hall door was open, and had finger of his right hand. His overcoat, evidently been open for some time, as hat, and whip were thrown on a chair, a quantity of dried leaves had drifted near the door, together with the report in, and were strewed over the hall. He of a benevolent society in which he was was the more surprised as he recollect- interested, and which Mr. Barton of ed the fact that the manor-house had Cleveham recollects having handed been closed for many years, having him on the evening he was last seen. never been occupied during the lifetime Mr. Huntingdon appears to have used of the present possessor or his father. this room - the only one at Averndean The man, influenced by the curiosity which bears any traces of habitation peculiar to his class, proceeded to ex- as a place where lie could write, undisamine the house. At the end of one of turbed by the interruptions to which he the four corridors which lead from the was liable at Huntingdon. The table great hall of Averndean to different was littered with the proof-sheets of a parts of the house, he perceived an political pamphlet, written with his acopen door. As he approached nearer, customed ability. The deepest interhe saw Mr. Huntingdon seated at a est has been felt in his unhappy end, table, and apparently engaged in writ- and immense rewards are offered for ing His horror may be imagined the discovery of the murderer. The when the lamented gentleman was funeral is to take place on Monday next, found to be a corpse. The table was and a large concourse of the nobility strewed with writing-materials, and the and gentry of the county will probably unfortunate gentleman had been en- be present. Mr. Huntingdon was pargaged in writing a notice of the death ticularly distinguished for his interest of his wife, who expired, it seems, in benevolent pursuits, and for the reon the 20th of August, at Hyères, in markable, we had almost said magical, France. In all probability the assassin influence which he obtained over indiapproached from behind, and struck Mr. viduals as well as masses. Death has Huntingdon while absorbed in writing. put an untimely end to his illustrious, The wound was in the jugular vein, useful, and honorable career. His late and the weapon with which it was in- wife was the only child of the Right ficted - a small Italian stiletto — was Honorable Charles Huntingdon Cartefound in the corridor, having evidently ret, of Carteret Castle, and Branthope Grange, Cumberland, and of the Count Doctor, I 'm sure,” he began in rather ess Alixe La Baume de Lascours. She a tremulous tone; “but there 's a poor was her husband's first-cousin, and by cretur in the kitchen, - Lord knows her death he became her heir. As the where she's come from, but she seems unfortunate couple have left no chil- quite wild like, — and being as how dren, the vast estates of Huntingdon she's unwilling to let the women come and Carteret, in default of heirs, pass to anigh her, perhaps you would see what the Crown.”

you can do." By the time I had finished this ex- I went forthwith to the kitchen. A tract I was thoroughly awake. I sat group of servants were huddled near leaning over the soiled, crumpled paper, the door, and in the farthest corner of and mentally living over the horrible the room, crouched down with her back tragedy which it depicted in such set to the wall, and her pale face and terriand stilted phrases. I thought of the fied dark eyes turned with a mixture of murdered man waiting in his dreary, fear and menace towards them, was a empty house, — waiting through long tall and powerfully formed woman. Her days and nights,until some one came to profuse dark hair, already streaked with give rest to his dishonored dust and gray, clung wet and dishevelled about avenge his death. I pictured to myself her shoulders. Her features — finely the assassin creeping stealthily down the moulded and beautiful they must have dark corridor, and nearer and nearer been once were sharpened by an agthe unconscious victim, whom a glance, ony of fear which I have never seen bea breath, a footfall, might have saved. fore or since in any human creature. I I was dwelling upon all this with an in- did not wonder that the landlady, half tersity which was far from soothing to compassionate and half frightened, stood my nerves, when a light tap on the win- near the door, dreading the menace dow behind me brought me to my feet which such supreme terror invariably with a bound. I went to the window, lift- conveys, and that the maids and men ed the curtain, and looked out, but saw were equally afraid to approach. nothing but the snow already piled on As I advanced, followed by the landthe outer sill, and the fast-falling flakes lord, she rose slowly from her crouchdriven against it by the violence of the ing attitude and surveyed me. I paused wind. I dropped the curtain, and after within a few steps of her, that she might walking round the room on a tour of see that I had no evil intentions regardinspection, of which I was somewhating her, and spoke. ashamed, came to the conclusion that “Do not be frightened," said I, genmy nerves had played me a trick, and, tly, “we mean you no harm; but you taking my post before the fire, resolute- must not crouch in the corner there : ly turned my thoughts in a different come out and let the landlady make channel. Some fifteen minutes elapsed, you comfortable. You are cold and during which time I had (mentally) ar- wet, and must be hungry too, I'm rived in London, become a distin- sure." guished practitioner, and was just about She still gazed at me without speaksetting up a genteel brougham, with a ing, or relaxing in the least her look of man in livery, when the silence of the terror. house was suddenly broken. Steps “Come," said I, gently, approaching stamped along the narrow passage still nearer, and extending my hand, which led to my room. There was a “come, let me take you to the fire.” confusion of voices, a rush, a sharp, She made no reply; and, as I again terrified cry; then the slamming of a paused, I had a full opportunity to obdoor, and silence once more. Soon serve her. She was, as I have said, after, the landlord presented himself at remarkably tall, large, and, as I now my door, candle in hand.

saw, symmetrically formed. Her feet "I beg pardon for disturbing you, were bare and bleeding, but so delicate

« 上一頁繼續 »