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to lead to quiescence and repose. Ex- arises, too, from the anxious and pretreme accuracy of distinction is, how- carious occupation of making to themever, not a merit of this writer, and we selves a great name. For the most part must take him as we find him. He of his life, the fame of an author or of very justly remarks, that the modes an artist is of an ambiguous nature. of life of a man of genius are often in They find it in one place and lose it conflict with the monotonous and imi- in another. Praise and blame come tative habits of society; that his oc- to them at one and the same time. cupations and amusements even are They are often ignorant of the extent discordant with its artificial character. of their reputation. Admiration often This, undoubtedly, must be very much exists, unknown to them, of them and the case with every man of genius. their works. They are exposed to all Genius in society, therefore, even in the vague indefinite feelings of minds the very best of 'it, must often be in excited into a ferment by their works. apathy, and often in suffering. No They know that they are talked of, wonder that irritation often ensues, thought of, approved, condemned. even with those who have tamed The world thinks itself entitled to themselves down to bear the dulness make free with them, either in its or impertinence of ordinary existence. eulogies or its satire. They stand in A company of blockheads will all ex- a very singular kind of relationship claim against the luckless genius who with the world ; and the feelings exmay have exhibited some symptoms cited by that relationship are often of of irritation when condemned to the a feverish and disturbing kind. Each talk of such foolish company; and new work places them in a new state that irritation is all laid to the score of of mind. Hope is born, languishes, his genius. But how would one block- frets, or attains its object and dies. head feel in the company of ten men There is a constant alternation of of genius ? He too would be irritable, strong emotions in their hearts. No and very eccentric too, or we are much wonder that they should be what the mistaken in such a situation. But world in its good nature calls irritable. the world, after all, will have the best Minds of the first order, and of the of the argument; and they are quite highest achievement, have in all couns right in attributing the sufferings, or tries been subjected to mortification and the disgust of superior minds, to an trial. Bacon was not at all understood irritable temperament, rather than to in his day. Sir Thomas Bodley upthe folly, indelicacy, rudeness, or ig- braided him with his new mode of norance of those with whom they philosophising. Sir Edward Coke wrote come into contact.
miserable and bitter verses on a copy A man of genius cannot in a mo. of the Instauratio presented to him by ment turn from his own delightful Bacon. James I. declared, that, like fancies and beautiful creations to the “ God's power, it passeth beyond all mere talk of the passing day. He understanding.". Kepler's work on may indeed acquire something of this Comets was by the learned condemned power, but it is not natural to him; as extravagant; and Galileo abjured and though he may successfully adapt on his knees the philosophical truths himself for a long time together to the he had ascertained. So has it been, most ordinary minds, in some unlucky too, with inferior spirits. Nothing moment he forgets himself, and a can be more bitter to a man of genius, single sally may do away the effect of than to see the truth which he has much sufferance and condescension. discovered or beautified treated with “ Professional characters,” says Mr indifference or scorn. A very slight D'Israeli, “ who are themselves so want of personal respect to the most often literary, yielding to their pre- ordinary man who thinks himself endominant interests, conform to that titled to it, awakens his irritability. assumed urbanity which levels them What shall be said of the hourly and with ordinary minds; but the man of daily disrespect, or contumely, or ingenius cannot leave himself behind in difference, which men of genius meet the cabinet he quits; the train of his with from persons who would avenge thoughts is not stopt at will; and, in every such offence to themselves with the range of conversation, his habits never-ending persecution ? What is to of thought will prevail.”
be said of the shock which their feelThe irritability of men of genius ings must be continually sustaining.
MY DEAR S
from hearing things and thoughts, to he is a person of the most unsullied them most sacred, either misundere honour and veracity; and that the fine stood, undervalued, or profaned? There powers of his mind, howeyer warped is no occasion to attribute to irritabi. and weakened by superstitious fears in lity that which often flows from the his youth, have since completely repurest souree ; and before we censure covered their proper tone and elasticity. the display of keen feelings, we should Your’s, &c.
D. K. S. consider what it was that produced, September 1818. and probably justified them.
The higher the imagination of a man of genius, the higher is the sphere of his constant thought above the or- There is nothing more baneful than dinary sphere of human life. Much the influence which privileged nurses that is interesting, and even engross- and other attendants upon young ing, to ordinary minds, passes below children exercise over their untutorhim like mists or clouds; and when, ed imaginations, through the mein his descent to the lower regions, hé dium of superstitious dread. You becomes enveloped in them, no won- know that there are few who have der that he should exhibit impatience suffered more from such cruelty than to regain the calm serenity of his na- myself; that for the prime years of tive element. Mr D’Israeli concludes my youth I was the victim of a dishis chapter well. “Men of genius tempered fancy, which I in vain atare often reverenced only where they tempted to chasten or correct; and are known by their writings; intel. that it was only by a most singular lectual beings in the romance of life, and unexpected accident, that I was in its history they are men. Erasmus freed from the reign of terror. But I compared them to the great figures in believe you have never been made actapestry-work, which lose their effect quainted with the full detail of that when not seen at a distance. Their accident; and I therefore send you this foibles and their infirmities are obvious account of it, impressed with the to their associates, often only capable deepest gratitude to the providence of discerning these qualities. The de- which turned to so much benefit in my feets of great men are the consolation own case, that which, considering the of dunces."
peculiar state and temper of my mind, A great many important topics in might have caused insanity or death, the history of genius are discussed and and wishing it to become, if possible, illustrated in sixteen other chapters. as useful to others. Superstition is To some of these we mean afterwards not indeed an epidemic of the present to return, and hope to lead our readers age; yet there may be individuals, into several interesting fields of dis- who cast their eyes upon my tale, that cussion.
will thank me for its lesson.
I never knew the fostering care of
a father; and my mother, except by A NIGHT IN THE CATACOMBS.
the boundless affection which I re
member in my solitary tears, did not MR EDITOR,
well supply his place. Liberiting a If you consider the following pages large domain in the wildest district of as possessed of interest, I should be Wales, I was early taught to attach happy to see them inserted in your notions of dignity and importance to Miscellany. The story may not be so myself, and entertained a long train thrilling as some of those you have of more interesting thoughts than already-given to the public, but I can usually occupy the breast of boyhood. answer for its truth; and I dare say From the indulgence of my guardians if old Jerome, who used to shew the to an only son, I was never sent to catacombs in Paris, be yet alive, he school, and thus had no opportunity will recollect the handsome English- of acquiring the prompt and active man, with brown hair, and dark-blue spirit that is generated in a public seeyes full of meaning, whom he re- minary, or that hard yet brilliant leased one morning from a night's polish of the world, that repels from imprisonment in those gloomy vaults. its surface all assaults of sanguine and I shall only add, in behalf of my romantic feeling. My domestic tutor friend, whose letter I transcribe, that enriched my mind with an extensive
knowledge of the classics, and imbued ful night after she was committed to it with the deepest admiration of their the tomb, are too sacred to my remembeauties; but he did not apply him- brance, to be even now unravelled. self to correct the wild tissue of absurd I shortly after came of age, and one and superstitions notions, which an of the first acts of my majority was a accurate observer must have detected visit to Paris, during the short interin my bosom, or the greedy taste for val of war afforded by the peace of fiction, and nervous sensibility, of Amiens, in the hopes of alleviating which I myself perceived and lament- my anguish. Here indeed I saw someed the excess. * Ever since I could thing of life ; but I was too reserved walk, I had been under the superin- to enter into intimacy with any of those tendence of an old nurse attached to to whose acquaintance my guardians the family, whose memory, like that introduced me. Proud, shy, and senof most of her countrywomen, was sitive, I was fearful of their penetratwell stored with legend and tradition, ing into the weaknesses of my characand who had secretly acquired an ab- ter, which I felt were far from harsolute authority over me. While I monizing with the general opinions of was a mere child, she used to frighten mankind; and I fancy they perceived me into obedience, if refractory, by something unfashionably cold and threats of supernatural interference, sombre about me, which mutually and sometimes by devices of so hor- prevented our knowledge of each rible and extraordinary a nature, that other. To the value of even your I can hardly now recollect them with- friendship, my dear S, I was then out a shudder. The earnestness and insensible, but you cannot say I have emphasis, moreover, with which she remained so. told me tales in which she more than In one of my lonely rambles about half believed, gave her gradually an the wonderful and interesting capital entire dominion over my fears and I was now visiting, I joined a crowd fancy, which she could rouse and re- of twenty or thirty persons, waiting at gulate at will. Even after I had the outer door that leads to the upper emerged from the nursery, it used to entrance of the Catacombs. I had be my great delight to steal to her heard of these extraordinary vaults, apartment in the evening, and sit list but not having passed before the Barening for hours to her ghostly narra- riere d'Enfer, I had not inspected tives, till my knees shook, and every them in person. Though I could not nerve in my body trembled, in the help conjecturing that a subterraneous agitation and over-excitement she pro- cemetery, where the relics of ten cenduced. It was then almost too much turies reposed, must be a sight too, for my courage to hurry through the congenial with the morbid temper of long passage, lighted by a single cen- my mind, I had no notion of the actral lamp, to the library in our gothic tual horrors of that mansion for the mansion; and there, when I entered dead, or in my then distempered state breathless and with a beating heart, I of feeling, I should not have trusted used to find my mccher alone, weep- my nerves with the spectacle to be exing over the correspondence of my pected. How will the curious tourist poor father in silence, and yielding to of the present day smile as he peruses the sorrow that finally bowed her to this confession, if you give my story the grave. My sole amusement every to the public!--but a few perhaps will night, while thus sitting in the room understand and pity what were my with her (for we saw no company at follies. As it was, I provided myselt, all), was in poring with a perpetually- like the rest, with a waxen taper, and increasing interest, over all that could we waited with impatience for the apmost tend to nourish the deleterious pearance of the guide from below, passion of my soul. My mother was with the party that had preceded us. too much absorbed in her own recol. It was about three o'clock of a sultry lections to pay much attention to my afternoon, and we were detained so employments or my studies; and her long, that when the door opened at own mind was too much weakened by last, we all rushed in, and hurried old affliction to have suggested any salu- Jerome to the task of conducting us, tary restoratives for mine.
without giving him time for the neThe agonies I felt at my beloved cessary precaution of counting our parent's death, and for many a wake- number. I was an utter stranger to
all present, and felt at first, as if I in my ears, and I thought myself alone, should have wished to view the sight, already with the dead. The guide towards which we hurried our con- thrust the light he carried into a huge ductor, with him alone, or at least skull that was lying separate in a with fewer and less vociferous com- niche ; but I marked not the action or panions : but when we had descended the man, but only the fearful glimmany steps into the bowels of the mering of the transparent bone, which earth, and the cold air from the I thought a smile of triumphant madwellings of mortality smote my brow, lice from the presiding spectre of the I owned a sensible relief from the place, while imagined accents whisperpresence of the living around me, and ed, in my hearing, “Welcome to our was cheered by the sound of their va- charnel-house, for THIS shall be your rious exclamations. Even with these chamber !” Dizzy with indescribable accompaniments, however, it was with emotions, I felt nothing but a painful more than astonishment that I gazed sense of oppression from the presence upon the opening scene, and ever and of others, as if I could not breathe for anon, wrapped up in my thoughts, I the black shapes that were crowding anticipated with secret forebodings, near me; and turning unperceived, the horrors I was doomed to undergo. down a long and gloomy passage of the
It would be superfluous to describe catacombs, I rushed as far as I could what has been described so often, yet penetrate, to feed' in solitude the grownone can have received, from a survey ing appetite for horror, that had quelof the catacombs, such impressions as led for the moment, in my bosom, the my mind was prepared to admit; and sense of fear, and even the feeling of few can have retained so vivid and dis- identity. To the rapid whirl of various tinct a picture of their appearance, as sensations that had bewildered me has been branded on my soul in char- ever since I left the light of day, a seaacters not to be effaced. Alas! I en- son of intense abstraction now succeedtered them with little of that fine ex- ed. I held my burning eyeballs full alting spirit so divinely eulogized by upon the skulls in front, till they alVirgil, in the motto that is inscribed most seemed to answer my fixed reupon their walls :
gard, and claim a dreadful fellowship « Felis qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas, with the being that beheld them. HowAtque metus omnes, et inexorabile fatum long I stood motionless in this condi. Subjecit pedibus, strepitumque Acherontis tion I know not-my taper was cal
culated to last a considerable time, and The interminable rows of bare and I was wakened from my trance by the blackening skulls--the masses inter- scorching heat of it's expiring in my posed of gaunt and rotting bones, that hand. Still insensible of what I was once gave strength and symmetry to about, I threw it to the ground; and the young, the beautiful, the brave, gleaming once more, as if to shew the How mildewed by the damp of the darkness and solitude to which I was cavern, and heaped together in in- consigned, it was speedily extinguishdiscriminate arrangement-the faint ed. But, by the strong impression on mouldering and deathlike smell that my brain, the whole scene remained pervaded these gloomy labyrinths, and distinct; and it was not for some time the long recesses in the low-roofed that my fit of abstraction passed away, rock, to which I dared not turn my and the horrific conviction came upeyes except by short and fitful glances, on me, that I was left deserted, as I as if expecting something terrible and fancied in my first confusion, by faithghastly to start from the indistinctness less friends, and abandoned to the merof their distance,—all had associations cy of a thousand demons. All the for my thoughts very different from ideal terrors I had cherished from my the solemn and edifying sentiments childhood, exalted to temporary madthey must rouse in a well regulated ness by the sense and certainty of the breast, and, by degrees, I yielded up horrid objects that surrounded me, every faculty to the influence of an rushed at once upon my soul; and in ill-defined and mysterious alarm. My an agony of impatient consternation, I eyesight waxed gradually dull to aí screamed and shouted, loud and long, but the fleshless skulls that were glar- for assistance. Not an answer was reing in the yellow light of the tapers turned, but the dreary echoes of this the hum of human voices was stifled dreadful tomb. I saw that my cries
for succour were hopeless and in vain, ing-sheet, or a grave-flannel animate and my voice failed me for very fear- with worms. į buried my head in my jaws were fixed and open, my palate the skirts of my coat and prayed for dry—a cold sweat distilled from every slumber ; but a fearful train of images pore, and my limbs were chill and forced me again to rise and stumble powerless as death. Their vigour aton, shivering in frame with unearthly length revived, and I rushed in a de- cold, and yet internally fevered with a lirium through the passages, strug- tumult of agonizing thoughts. Any gling through their various windings one must have suffered somewhat in to retrace my path, and plunged at such a situation ; but no one's sufferevery step in more inextricable error, ings could resemble mine, unless he till, running with the speed of light- carried to the scene a mind so hideousning along one of the longest corridors, ly prepared. Part of these awful exI came with violence in full and cavations are said to have been once loathsome contact with the skeleton haunted by banditti ; but I had no relics at the end. The shock was like fears of them, and should have swoonfire to my brain- I wept tears of rage ed with transport to have come upon and despair ; and thrusting my fingers their fires at one of the turnings in the in the sockets of the empty skulls, to rock, though my appearance had been wrench them from the wall, I clutched the instant signal for their daggers. their bony edges till the blood sprung In my wanderings I recovered for a from my lacerated hand. In short, I moment the path taken by the guides, cannot paint to you the extravagancies and found myself in a sort of cell I acted, or the wild alternation of my within the rock, where particular spefeelings that endured for many hours. cimens of mortality were preserved. Sometimes excited to phrenzy, I ima- My arm rested on the table, where gined I know not what of horrid and two or three loosened skulls, and a appalling, and saw, with preternatural thigh-bone of extravagant dimensions, acuteness, through the darkness as were lying, and a new fit of madness clear as noon,-while grisly visages seized me. My heart beat with reseemed glaring on me near, and a red doubled violence, while I brandished and bloody haze enveloped the more the enormous bone, and hoarsely callfearful distance. Then, when reason ed for its original possessor to come in was on the point of going, an interval all the terrors of the grave, and there of terrible collection would succeed. would I wrestle with him for the relic I felt in my very soul how I was left of his own miserable carcase. I struck alonemperhaps not to be discovered, repeatedly, and hard, the hollowat any rate for what appeared to me an sounding sides of the cell, shouting endless period, in which I should per- my defiance; then throwing myself haps expire of terror, and I longed for with violence towards the opening, I deep deep sleep, or to be as cold and missed my balance, and, snatching at insensate as the things around me. I the wall round the corner to save mytried to recollect the courage, that on- self, I jammed my hand in an aperly on one point had ever failed me, ture among the bones, and fancied but judgment missed her stays, and that the grisly adversary I invoked had the whispers of the subterraneous wind, grasped my arm in answer to my chalor the stealthy noises I seemed to hear lenge. My shrieks of agony rang in concert with the audible beatings of through the caverns, and, stagggering my heart, overcame me irresistibly. back into the cell
, I fell upon my Sometimes I thought I could feel si- face, hardly daring to respire, and exlence palpable, like a soft mantle on pecting unimagined horrors or speedy my ear-I figured dreadful hands dissolution. within a hair-breadth of my body, How my feelings varied for a space ready to tear me if I stirred, and in of time, I know not ; but sleep insendesperation flung myself upon the sibly fell upon me. In my dream, I ground. Then would I creep close to did not seem to change the scene, but the mouldering fragments at the bot- still reclining in the cell, I fancied the tom of the wall, and try to dig with skulls upon the wall the same in nummy nails, from the hard rock, some- ber, but magnified to. a terrific size, thing to cover me. Oh ! how I long- with black jetty eyes imbedded in their ed for a cloak to wrap and hide me, naked sockets, and rivetted with malithough it had been my mother's winde cious earnestness on me. A dim re