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Dicebant mihi sodalee, si sepulchrum amicæ visitaron, curas meas aliquan tulum fore levatas.-Ebn Zaiat.
Misery is manifold. The wretchedness of earth is multiform. Overreaching the wide horizon as the rainbow, its hues are as various as the hues of that arch—as distinct too, yet as intimately blended. Overreaching the wide horizon as the rainbow! How is it that from beauty I have derived a type of unloveliness ? — from the covenant of peace, a simile of sorrow? But as, in ethics, evil is a consequence of good, so, in fact, out of joy is sorrow born. Either the memory of past bliss is the anguish of to-day, or the agonies which are, have their origin in the ecstacies which might have been.
My baptismal name is Egæus; that of my family I will not mention. Yet there are no towers in the land more time-honored than my gloomy, gray, hereditary halls. Our line has been called a race of visionaries; and in many striking particulars—in the character of the family mansion in the frescos of the chief saloon—in the tapestries of the dormitories—in the chiselling of somc buttresses in the armory—but more especially in the gallery of antique paintings—in the fashion of the library chamber--and, lastly, in the very peculiar nature of the library's contents—there is more than sufficient evidence to warrant the belief.
The recollection of my earliest years are connected with that chamber, and with its volumes—of which latter I will say no more. Here died my mother. Herein was I born. But it is mere idleness to say that I had not lived before--that the soul has no previous existence. You deny it ?-let us not argue the matter. Convinced myself, I seek not to convince. There is, however, a remembrance of aerial forms-of spiritual and meaning eyes-of sounds, musical yet sad; a remembrance which will not be excluded; a memory like a shadow-vague, variable, indefinite, unsteady; and like a shadow, too, in the impossibility of my getting rid of it while the sunlight of my reason shall exist.
In that chamber was I born. Thus awaking from the long night of what seemed, but was not, nonentity, at once into the very regions of fairy land-into a palace of imagination--into the wila dominions of monastic thought and erudition-it is not singular that I gazed around me with a startled and ardent eyethat I loitered away my boyhood in books, and dissipated my youth in rerery; but it is singular, that as years rolled away, and the noon of manhood found me still in the mansion of my fathersit is wonderful what stagnation there fell upon the springs of my life-wonderful how total an inversion took place in the character of my commonest thought. The realities of the world affected me as visions, and as visions only, while the wild ideas of the land of dreams became, in turn, not the material of my every-day existence, but in very deed that existence utterly and solely in itself.
* * * * * * Berenice and I were cousins, and we grew up together in my paternal halls. Yet differently we grew-1, ill of health, and buried in gloom-she, agile, graceful, and overflowing with energy; her's, the ramble on the hill-side-mine, the studies of the cloister; I, living within my own heart, and addicted, body and scul, to the most intense and painful meditation—she, roaming carelessly through life, with no thought of the shadows in her path, or the silent flight of the raven-winged hours. Berenice ! I call upon her name—Berenice !-and from the gray ruins of memory a thousand tumultuous recollections are startled at the sound! Ah, vividly is her image before me now, as in the early days of her light-heartedness and joy! Oh, gorgeous yet fantastic beauty! Oh, sylph amid the shrubberies of Arnheim! Oh, Naiad among its fountains ! And then-then all is mystery and terror, and a tale which should not be told. Disease-a fatal disease, fell like the simoon upon her frame; and, eren while I gazed upon her, the spirit of change swept over her, pervadini
her mind, her habits, and her character, and, in a manner the most subtle and terrible, disturbing even the identity of her person! Alas! the destroyer came and went !—and the victimwhere is she? I knew her not-or knew her no longer as Berenice!
Among the numerous train of maladies superinduced by that fatal and primary one which effected a revolution of so horrible a kind in the moral and physical being of my cousin, may be mentioned as the most distressing and obstipate in its nature, a species of epilepsy not unfrequently terminating in trance itself-trance very nearly resembling positive dissolution, and from which her manner of recovery was, in most instances, startlingly abrupt. In the mean time, my own disease—for I have been told that I should call it by no other appellation—my own disease, then, grew rapidly upon me, and assumed finally a monomaniac character of a novel and extraordinary form-hourly and momently gaining vigorand at length obtaining over me the most incomprehensible ascendency. This monomania, if I must so term it, consisted in a morbid irritability of those properties of the mind in metaphysical science termed the attentive. It is more than probable that I am not understood; but I fear, indeed, that it is in no manner possible to convey to the mind of the merely general reader, an adequate idea of that nervous intensity of interest with which, in my case, the powers of meditation (not to speak technically) busied and buried themselves, in the contemplation of even the most ordinary objects of the universe.
To muse for long unwearied hours, with my attention riveted to some frivolous device on the margin or in the typography of a book; to become absorbed, for the better part of a summer's dar, in a quaint shadow falling aslant upon the tapestry or upon the floor; to lose myself, for an entire night, in watching the steady flame of a lamp, or the embers of a fire; to dream away whole days over the perfume of a flower; to repeat, monotonously, some common word, until the sound, by dint of frequent repetition, ceased to convey any idea whatever to the mind; to lose all sense of motion or physical existence, by means of absolute bodily quiescence long and obstinately persevered in : such were a few of the most common and least pernicious ragaries induced by a con.
dition of the mental faculties, not, indeed, altogether unparalleled, but certainly bidding defiance to anything like analysis or explanation
Yet let me not be misapprehended. The undue, earnest, and morbid attention thus excited by objects in their own nature frivolous, must not be confounded in character with that ruminating propensity common to all mankind, and more especially indulged in by persons of ardent imagination. It was not even, as might be at first supposed, an extreme condition, or exaggeration of such propensity, but primarily and essentially distinct. and different. In the one instance, the dreamer, or enthusiast, being interested by an object usually not frivolous, imperceptibly loses sight of this object in a wilderness of deductions and suggestions issuing there. from, until, at the conclusion of a day-dream often replete with luxury, he finds the incitamentum, or first cause of his musings, entirely vanished and forgotten. In my case, the primary object was invariably frivolous, although assuming, through the medium of my distempered vision, a refracted and unreal importance. Few deductions, if any, were made; and those few pertinaciously returning in upon the original object as a centre. The meditations were never pleasurable ; and, at the termination of the revery, the first cause, so far from being out of sight, had attained that supernaturally exaggerated interest which was the prevailing feature of the disease. In a word, the powers of mind more particularly exercised were, with me, as I have said before, the attentive, and are, with the day-dreamer, the speculative.
My books, at this epoch, if they did not actually serve to irritate the disorder, partock, it will be perceived, largely, in their imaginative and inconsequential nature, of the characteristic qualities of the disorder itself. I well remember, among others, the treatise of the noble Italian, Cælius Secundus Curio, “De Amplitudine Beati Regni Dei ;" St. Austin's great work, “The City of God;" and Tertullian's “ De Carne Christi,” in which the paradoxical sentence,“ Mortuus est Dei filius ; credibile est quia ineptum est; et sepultus resurrexit ; certum est quia impossibile est,” occupied my undivided time, for many weeks of laborous and fruitless investigation.
Thus it will appear that, shaken from its balance only by trivial
thing, my reason bore resemblance to that ocean-crag spoken of by Pwlemy Hephestion, which steadily resisting the attacks of human violence, and the fiercer fury of the waters and the winds, trembled only to the touch of the flower called Asphodel. And although, to a careless thinker, it might appear a matter beyond doubt, that the alteration produced by ber unhappy malady, in the moral condition of Berenice, would afford me many objects for the exercise of that intense and abnoi mal meditation whose nature I have been at some trouble in explaining, yet such was not in any degree the case. In the lucid intervals of my infirmity, her Cilanity, indeed, gave me pain, and, taking deeply to heart that ttal wreck of her fair and gentle life, I did not fail to ponder, frequently and bitterly, upon the wonder-working means by which so strange a revolution had been so suddenly brought to pass. But these reflections partook not of the idiosyncrasy of my disease, and were such as would have occurred, under similar circumstances, to the ordinary mass of mankind. True to its own character, my disorder revelled in the less important but more startling changes wrought in the physical frame of Berenice—in the singular and most appalling distortion of her personal identity.
During the brightest days of her unparalleled beauty, most surely I had never loved her. In the strange anomaly of my exiso ence, feelings with me, had never been of the heart, and my passions always were of the mind. Through the gray of the early morning-among the trellised shadows of the forest at noonday—and in the silence of my library at night-she had flitted by my eyes, and I had seen her—not as the living and breathing Berenice, but as the Berenice of a dream; not as a being of the earth, earthy, but as the abstraction of such a being; not as a ' thing to admire, but to analyze; not as an object of love, but as the theme of the most abstruse although desultory speculation. And now—now I shuddered in her presence, and grew pale at her approach ; yet, bitterly lamenting her fallen and desolate condition, I called to mind that she had loved me long, and, in an evil moment, I spoke to her of marriage.
And at length the period of our nuptials was approaching, when, upon an afternoon in the winter of the year-one of those unseasonably warm, calm, and misty days wlich are the nurse of the