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through death, his wife and his little ones! | a new expression of anguish. After a pause, Let no one start back from this idea as un- | she clasped her hands and exclaimednatural—as only horror, without any tra
"O Wieland! Wieland! God grant that I
am mistaken ; but surely something is wrong. gic grandeur or pathos. We want no bet
I see it; it is too plain; thou art undone-lost ter assurance of genius of a high order,
to me and to thyself.' At the same time she than the manner in which this most mo gazed on my features with intensest anxiety, in mentous part of the tale is conceived and hope that different symptoms would take place. executed. In only an ordinary mind, such | I replied to her with vehemencean event as is about to be related would " • Undone! No; my duty is known, and I assume a revolting form. The attempt is
| thank my God that my cowardice is now vanhazardous, but the author comes off with
quished, and I have power to fulfil it. Cathaa full triumph. Wieland gives an account
rine! I pity the weakness of thy nature; I pity
thee, but must not spare. Thy life is claimed of this occurrence in a free, fearless, and from my hands; thou must die ! enthusiastic manner, at the close of his “Fear was now added to her grief. What trial for murder. We can give but a portion mean you? Why talk you of death? Bethink of the impressive and affecting scene; but yourself, Wieland; bethink yourself, and this the whole is an exhibition of the author's
| fit will pass. O why came thither! Why did
you drag me hither ? highest power.
“I brought thee hither to fulfil a divine com
mand. I am appointed thy destroyer, and destroy “ While she was gone, I strode along the en thee I must.' Saying this I seized her wrists. try. The fellness of a gloomy hurricane but She shrieked aloud, and endeavored to free herfaintly resembled the discord that reigned in my self from my grasp ; but her efforts were vain. mind. To omit this sacrifice must not be ; yet 6. Surely, surely, Wieland, thou dost not my sinews had refused to perform it. No al| mean it. Am I not thy wife? and wouldst thou ternative was offered. To rebel against the kill me? Thou wilt not; and yet--I see-thou mandate was impossible; but obedience would | art Wieland no longer! A fury resistless and render me the executioner of my wife. My horrible possesses thee--spare me-spare-help will was strong, but my limbs refused their | -help ? office.
| “Till her breath was stopped she shrieked for “She returned with a light; I led the way help-for mercy. When she could speak no to the chamber; she looked round her; she lift- longer, her gestures, her looks appealed to mý ed the curtain of the bed; she saw nothing. compassion. My accursed hand was irresolute
* At length, she fixed inquiring eyes upon and tremulous. I meant thy death to be sudme. The light now enabled her to discover in den, thy struggles to be brief. Alas! my heart my visage what darkness had hitherto conceal was infirm ; my resolves mutable. Thrice I ed. Her cares were now transferred from my slackened my grasp, and life kept its hold, sister to myself, and she said in a tremulous though in the midst of pangs. Her eyeballs voice, · Wieland ! you are not well; what ails started from their sockets. Grimness and disyou? Can I do nothing for you ?'
tortion took the place of all that used to bewitch “ That accents and looks so winning should me into transport, and subdue me into reverdisarm me of my resolution, was to be expected. ence. My thoughts were thrown anew into anarchy. “I was commissioned to kill thee, but not to I spread my hand before my eyes that I might torment thee with the foresight of thy death ; not see her, and answered only by groans. She not to multiply thy fears, and prolong thy agotook my other hand between hers, and pressing nies. Haggard, and pale, and lifeless, at it to her heart, spoke with that voice which length thou ceasedst to contend with thy deshad ever swayed my will, and wafted away sor tiny. row.
- This was a moment of triumph. Thus had “© My friend! my soul's friend ! tell me thy I successfully subdued the stubbornness of hucause of grief. Do I not merit to partake with man passions; the victim which had been dethee in thy cares? Am I not thy wife ? manded was given; the deed was done past re
" This was too much. I broke from her em- | call. brace, and retired to a corner of the room. In “I lifted the corpse in my arms and laid it this pause, courage was once more infused into on the bed. I gazed upon it with delight. Such ine. I resolved to execute my duty. She fol- | was the elation of my thoughts, that I even lowed me, and renewed her passionate entrea- | broke into laughter. I clapped my hands a ties to know the cause of my distress.
exclaimed, “It is done! My sacred duty is ful“I raised my head and regarded her with filled! To that I have sacrificed, O my God! steadfast looks. I muttered something about thy last and best gift, my wife!' death, and the injunctions of my duty. At these “For a while I thus soared above frailty. I words she shrunk back, and looked at me with | imagined I had set myself forever beyond the reach of selfishness; but my imaginations were , he perishes by his own hand. Clara sinks, false. This rapture quickly subsided. I look- as it seems for a time, into an immovable ed again at my wife. My joyous ebullitions
despair. She afterwards recovered, in a vanished, and I asked myself who it was whom I saw ? Methought it could not be Catharine.
| measure, her serenity of mind; went to It could not be the woman who had lodged for
who had lodged for Europe with an uncle ; was joined by years in my heart; who had slept, nightly, in Pleyel, to whom his severe charges had my bosom ; who had borne in her womb, who been shown to be entirely groundless ; had fostered at her breast, the beings who call- and was at last married to him she still ed me father; whom I had watched with de
heartily loved. Carwin confesses his fatal light, and cherished with a fondness ever new
errors, and, so far as is in human power, and perpetually growing; it could not be the
is forgiven. An unworthy connection with same.
“ Where was her bloom! These deadly and the servant of Clara, as well as an unwarblood-suffused orbs but ill resemble the azure rantable curiosity respecting the affairs of and ecstatic tenderness of her eyes. The lucid the Wielands, had betrayed him into many stream that meandered over that bosom, the difficulties, from which he could in no way glow of love that was wont to sit upon that extricate himself but by the aid of a sincheek, are much unlike these livid stains and
gular faculty--which he had in former this hideous deformity. Alas! these were the traces of agony; the gripe of the assassin had
times carefully cultivated, but which he been here !
had long since determined never to use "I will not dwell upon my lapse into despe | again—commonly named ventriloquism. rate and outrageous sorrow. The breath of This name, indeed, is inadequate to exheaven that sustained me was withdrawn, and press the exact nature of the powers I sunk into mere man. I leaped from the floor;
or; exerted by Carwin, yet we employ this I dashed my head against the wall; I uttered
word as the nearest approach to a descripscreams of horror; I panted after torment and
tion of the character of his agency that a pain. Eternal fire and the bickerings of hell, compared with what I felt, were music and a single word can give. Of such a kind, bed of roses.
then, was the voice first heard by Wieland, " I thank my God that this degeneracy was when approaching the temple. From such transient; that he deigned once more to raise a source were the words heard by him me aloft. I thought upon what I had done as
and Pleyel, while talking in the same place a sacrifice to duty, and was calm. My wife was dead; but I reflected that, though this
—the whispers heard in the closet of source of human consolation was closed, yet
Clara—and all the sounds that had any others were still open. If the transports of a appearance of the supernatural. It was husband were no more, the feclings of a father an artfully imitated conversation between had still scope for exercise. When remem Carwin and Clara, that Pleyel had overbrance of their mother should excite too keen heard, and from thence inferred the hypoca pang, I would look upon them and be com
risy and crime of the latter. Carwin forted. “ While I revolved these ideas, new warmth
dreamed not, bad as he really was, of what flowed in upon my heart, I was wrong. These results he was about to be the occasion, feelings were the growth of selfishness. Of and the knowledge of these events made this I was not aware, and to dispel the mist that him truly miserable. obscured my perceptions, a new effulgence and Such is an outline of this tale—a mea. a new mandate were necessary.
gre synopsis of a work that must be read “From these thoughts I was recalled by a
as the author has written it, in order to ray that was shot into the room. A voice spake like that which I had before heard— Thou hast
convey a just notion of its merits, or to done well; but all is not done—the sacrifice is
carry to the heart its real power. We incomplete—thy children must be offered—they cannot forbear stating here our regret, must perish with their mother!
that a man of such celebrity and authori
ty in the republic of letters as Mr. PresThe subsequent events may be easily cott has since become should have underimagined. Only two or three incidents taken the biography of one for whom he need further be mentioned. Wieland, could claim no higher consideration, and after his conviction for murder, is confined in the increase of whose reputation he in prison as a victim of madness. Subse- could feel no more interest. * When we quently, a lucid interval reveals to him the full enormity of all that he has done, and I * See Sparks's Am. Biography, vol. I. The very
see the author of “ Wieland” mentioned, We are not ignorant of the many low and in recent works of English criticism, in degrading associations connected with the connection with the most popular names word, (a word, indeed, that is nowhere in the same department of literature, as a found in Brown's own pages,) nor how man of acknowledged originality and ge- easy a matter it is by a little misrepresennius—in England, we say, where it seems tation of the author's use of this instrumanifest that a foreign novelist of only in- mentality, in the development of his plot, ferior abilities would very soon be forgot to throw ridicule upon the whole story. ten, if ever heard of at all ; we do not, | Whatever was the design of the biograindeed, at once take it for granted that pher, he has certainly brought about this this author was one of the chief spirits last result in the most perfect manner. of his age, but we do look upon him He has committed the error of representas deserving a respectful consideration; ing the novelist as keeping up, all the way and we strongly feel, so soon as actual | through his work, a constant excitement examination has prepared us to assent to of mystery and wonder--of machinery all that has been said in his praise else seemingly supernatural, or, at all events, where, that his memory should be intrust- of the highest order of the unaccountable ed to hands that shall tenderly and sym -a continual belief of some great agency pathetically build up a permanent record altogether beyond the reach of ordinary of his life. The Life of Brown, which his experience—all of which proves in the end intimate friend, Mr. William Dunlap, has to be only the low tricks of a miserable given us, is undoubtedly much nearer in juggler. How many will be caught readintent to what we could desire ; yet sym- | ing a book of which they have received pathy and good intentions alone will not such intimations ? suffice to make a good biographer. The Viewed in its true light, the case is quite warm interest and the patient research of different—unless we greatly misapprehend. Mr. Dunlap should have been added to The whole destiny of the Wielands is the talents of Mr. Prescott as a narrator, made to rest upon the character of Wieand his usually discriminating judgment in land himself. All the calamities that matters of taste. We do not complain, follow, unspeakable as they are, the author nevertheless, because both these authors very plainly attempted to attach entirely have fallen short of perfection. We should to the uneducated and ungoverned relihave been content with considerably less gious passion of the main actor in these than this. But in Mr. Prescott's biogra- events ; and he has, beyond question, phy there are one or two particulars in succeeded. The mistake of supposing the respect to which we must be permitted to | chief agency to be devolved on Carwin, express, with all due deference, some de could hardly be made, we think, by one gree of dissatisfaction.
who had given these volumes a thorough, We are surprised at the contempt with continuous reading. Especial pains seem which this biographer speaks of the agency | to have been taken to show how insignifigiven to ventriloquism in “Wieland.”* cant and how purposeless are the instru
mentality of Carwin, and his tricks : nay, appearance of haste and indifference which per
the very necessities of the fiction required vades this work-however it may excuse literary defects--ought certainly to have afforded a serious
this agency to be as mean and contemptiobjection to its insertion in so popular and perma ble as possible. It was absolutely necesnent a series of biographies. *“The key to the whole of this mysterious
sary that “ confirmations strong as holy agency which controls the circumstances of the writ” should be formed out of “ trifles story is-ventriloquism! ventriloquism exerted for light as air.” When it was the main purthe very purpose by a human fiend, from no motives of revenge or hatred, but pure diabolical malice, pose to make out a religious frenzy more or as he would make us believe, and the author powerful than the strongest promptings of a mere practical joke! The reader who has been
reason and the tenderest ties of affection, gorged with this feast of horrors, is tempted to ought the impulse which sets that frenzy throw away the book in disgust, at finding himself
| in motion to be sublime, and, to all ordithe dupe of such paltry jugglery, which, whatever sense be given to the term ventriloquism, is alto nary minds at least, irresistible? or ought gether incompetent to the various phenomena of it to be altogether too weak and insufficient sight and sound with which the story is so plenti. fully seasoned.”-Life of C. B. Brown, pp. 141, 142. | to have any influence over a man in his
seems willing to adopt this absurd version of it, as
right mind ? What is the issue ? It | could have adopted on such trivial grounds, matters very little to assert that the alleged strangles his wife, out of revenge. Wiemeans by which Carwin produces, indi- land, led on by a series of occurrences, rectly, such tremendous effects, “is alto most unimportant in themselves, and regether incompetent to the various phe- specting which he takes no pains to ascernomena of sight and sound ” which are tain any other cause than the supernatural narrated, when it is known, in the first one which his impassioned mind first sugplace, that some of the most wonderful gests—nay, without even suspending his and important of these phenomena are judgment until something more than his left (precisely according to Mr. Prescott's first vague impression should be furnished, wish) without an attempt at explanation ; | as a ground of decision-becomes so fully and secondly, that as to all the occurrences confirmed in his religious frenzy, that he which are accounted for by ventriloquism, sacrificed his wife out of obedience to a the main efficacy of that power, as well as sense of duty. Now Coleridge regards the appearances to which it gives rise, the few trivial circumstances and chances, are all derived chiefly from the mind acted that work such a madness in the brain of on rather than from the more ostensible Othello, as very sufficient reasons for inagent and agency. Pleyel, indeed, hears a ducing that fatal persuasion, and vents all feigned conversation, in which the voice of his wrath, of course, upon Iago. But Mr. Clara is so nearly imitated as to produce a Prescott has none of that reverential feel. perfect illusion. Here there is nothing ing for his subject, which led the critic of that wears the least tinge of a supernatural Shakspeare to adopt any conclusion, character. Here all the responsibility | however absurd, rather than admit his rests on the ventriloquist and his art. fallibility. He regards the means by which The illusion depended not at all, for its the fatal frenzy of Wieland is wrought up efficacy, on the mind of Pleyel. He credits to its highest pitch, as inadequate, unimthe evidence of one of his senses, just as he portant, contemptible; and stops not to would do in any other case—and is duped, look a little further for the justification of without himself conspiring with his ene- | his author in the character of Wieland mies. But the case of Wieland, we shall himself, but permits all his indignation to attempt to show, was considerably differ- | rest on the novelist, who has served up ent.
such a “ feast of horrors," without the Coleridge asserts, in his oracular way, I least palliating circumstance to be ofthat Othello was not impelled to the mur- | fered in his defence. Coleridge is certainly der of his wife by the passion of jealousy; wrong—yet he is consistent with himself. but that the proofs of the guilt of Desde- We think Mr. Prescott was equally wrong, mona, so far as he was able to judge of yet not with just the same consistency. them, amounted to a certainty ; and that A novelist who had made such a woful the conduct of a husband, acting under mistake as he attributes to Brown, could the certainty of the falsehood of his wife, not, by any possibility, deserve from his must be referred to some other impulse pen a biography of even two hundred than jealousy. Now, there is a striking duodecimo pages. But for the weight similarity—in certain particulars, though which will always attach to an opinion there is abundant diversity in others-- coming from so distinguished a source, between the catastrophe of Othello and we should have taken much less pains to that of “Wieland,” as well as in the means point out an error so evident, that few by which, in each case, the catastrophe is could have ever adopted it, if recommend brought about. There is, indeed, nothing / ed by any name less influential than that that looks in the least like imitation : it is of the author of the three most popular evident that the resemblance in question is histories of modern times. purely accidental. Both the dramatist The author of “ Wieland” had, evidentand the novelist drew from the same ly, a deep and (for one of his years) common fountain--Nature. Othello, as uncommon knowledge of man. This knowlwe understand the drama, goaded on into edge is the basis on which all real genius a persuasion which only a mind suscepti- must rest. Brown seems, to be sure, to ble of the deepest and most bitter jealousy have had comparatively little acquaintance
with individuals and classes of men. His father could not but have a large place in intercourse with society was, undoubtedly, the memory and imagination of one who mainly confined within the limits of a was just old enough, at the time of its ocparticular circle, in his native city. In his currence, to understand all its realities, and last years, however, he saw more of men yet just enough a child to mingle with his in different regions, and became more knowledge of the facts every wild and wonfamiliar with their various customs and derful conception. That violent end is, peculiarities. But a profound knowledge to the last, a mystery unexplained. It of man by no means requires a great should be so. The novelist had a right to latitude of observation—certainly does not make this demand upon our credulity, and depend on it alone. We find in the novels the necessities of his story compelled him of our author but few practical remarks on to do it. Any attempt at an explanation men and manners ; yet when such do of this occurrence would have appeared occur, they are usually just and felicitous. feeble at the close of such exciting scenes His chief power lay in tracing out from as those which follow, and to have precethe deep, hidden springs of the human ded them would entirely defeat the pursoul—from the region of motives, and pose for which it was introduced. Yet this impulses, and purposes—a connected and was an event equally known to Clara—one consistent series of actions and events which she had equally witnessed at an age moving on to momentous issues.
susceptible of all the strange emotions The circumstances in which a mind like which it would be likely to excite in the Wieland's is made to spring up and come mind of her brother. It was an incident to maturity, are as adequate as we are well known to all the other characters of able to conceive. In the first place, it is the tale. That strange calamity was, inevident that from no quarter of the world deed, an adequate cause for marvel and could such a mind originate so naturally as even for awe; and this was the full extent from Germany. And then to trace his to which it influenced the mind of any but origin to a family of high and noble blood, Wieland. and to an individual of ardent poetical The voices subsequently heard, too, were temperament, whose love had wrought his accounted for by all the rest, in any other temporal ruin, was equally suitable and way than as being supernatural. To Wieappropriate. But above all, the morose land, unimportant as in reality they were, and solitary habits of his father, his deep they afforded sufficient food for the nurturfanaticism, and his mysterious and terrible ing and maturing of his frenzy. Once comend, have a fit relation to the singular pletely involved in these toils, every movebeing, who was to bring such overwhelm- ment, however trivial, and every attempt ing calamities on those who were embosom at extrication, only binds and entangles him ed in tranquillity, and plenty, and social the more. Pleyel is brought under the happiness. The mother of Wieland ought same external influences—he wonders, and of necessity to be a disciple of Count knows not how to satisfy his judgment. Zinzendorf. Clara inherited the qualities He credits a mysterious announcement of of the maternal side, with only the what he was already confident must be better traits of the Wielands. Her brother true, yet he wisely suspends his judgment gathered up in his nature all the leading of the character of that announcement, characteristics of his paternal ancestors, until some further grounds of decision are with only a modifying tinge from the afforded. Wieland makes up his mind at religion of his mother. So far, all is once, while everything is vague and uncerperfectly natural, and the conception truly tain, according to the promptings of a judgjust.
ment already disturbed with passion. Clara The gradual progress of Wieland's mind | hears mysterious voices in her closet-and into that extraordinary state, which consti- she is frightened. Wieland hears, or fantutes the most impressive feature of the cies that he hears, (for the author leaves us whole story, is admirably portrayed, and to infer that this is mere fancy, and that the means by which it is effected are, in the mind of the bewildered man has now our opinion, every way unexceptionable. arrived at that state in which internal and The mysterious and dreadful death of the external impulses are easily confounded,) a