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"But how with a gang? Their number would have inspired them with confidence; if, indeed confidence is ever
wanting in the breast of the arrant blackguard; and of arrant blackguards alone are the supposed gangs ever
constituted. Their number, I say, would have prevented the bewildering and unreasoning terror which I have
imagined to paralyze the single man. Could we suppose an oversight in one, or two, or three, this oversight
would have been remedied by a fourth. They would have left nothing behind them; for their number would
have enabled them to carry all at once. There would have been no need of return.
"Consider now the circumstance that in the outer garment of the corpse when found, 'a slip, about a foot wide
had been torn upward from the bottom hem to the waist wound three times round the waist, and secured by a
sort of hitch in the back.' This was done with the obvious design of affording a handle by which to carry the
body. But would any number of men hare dreamed of resorting to such an expedient? To three or four, the
limbs of the corpse would have afforded not only a sufficient, but the best possible hold. The device is that of
a single individual; and this brings us to the fact that 'between the thicket and the river, the rails of the fences
were found taken down, and the ground bore evident traces of some heavy burden having been dragged along
it!' But would a number of men have put themselves to the superfluous trouble of taking down a fence, for the
purpose of dragging through it a corpse which they might have lifted over any fence in an instant? Would a
number of men have so dragged a corpse at all as to have left evident traces of the dragging?
"And here we must refer to an observation of Le Commerciel; an observation upon which I have already, in
some measure, commented. 'A piece,' says this journal, 'of one of the unfortunate girl's petticoats was torn out
and tied under her chin, and around the back of her head, probably to prevent screams. This was done by
fellows who had no pocket−handkerchiefs.'
"I have before suggested that a genuine blackguard is never without a pocket−handkerchief. But it is not to
this fact that I now especially advert. That it was not through want of a handkerchief for the purpose imagined
by Le Commerciel, that this bandage was employed, is rendered apparent by the handkerchief left in the
thicket; and that the object was not 'to prevent screams' appears, also, from the bandage having been employed
in preference to what would so much better have answered the purpose. But the language of the evidence
speaks of the strip in question as 'found around the neck, fitting loosely, and secured with a hard knot.' These
words are sufficiently vague, but differ materially from those of Le Commerciel. The slip was eighteen inches
wide, and therefore, although of muslin, would form a strong band when folded or rumpled longitudinally.
And thus rumpled it was discovered. My inference is this. The solitary murderer, having borne the corpse, for
some distance, (whether from the thicket or elsewhere) by means of the bandage hitched around its middle,
found the weight, in this mode of procedure, too much for his strength. He resolved to drag the burthen − the
evidence goes to show that it wasdragged. With this object in view, it became necessary to attach something
like a rope to one of the extremities. It could be best attached about the neck, where the head would prevent its
slipping off. And, now, the murderer bethought him, unquestionably, of the bandage about the loins. He
would have used this, but for its volution about the corpse, the hitch which embarrassed it, and the reflection
that it had not been 'torn off' from the garment. It was easier to tear a new slip from the petticoat. He tore it,
made it fast about the neck, and so dragged his victim to the brink of the river. That this 'bandage,' only
attainable with trouble and delay, and but imperfectly answering its purpose − that this bandage was employed
at all, demonstrates that the necessity for its employment sprang from circumstances arising at a period when
the handkerchief was no longer attainable −− that is to say, arising, as we have imagined, after quitting the
thicket, (if the thicket it was), and on the road between the thicket and the river.
"But the evidence, you will say, of Madame Deluc, (!) points especially to the presence of a gang, in the
vicinity of the thicket, at or about the epoch of the murder. This I grant. I doubt if there were not a dozen
gangs, such as described by Madame Deluc, in and about the vicinity of the Barrière du Roule at or about the
period of this tragedy. But the gang which has drawn upon itself the pointed animadversion, although the
somewhat tardy and very suspicious evidence of Madame Deluc, is the only gang which is represented by that
honest and scrupulous old lady as having eaten her cakes and swallowed her brandy, without putting
themselves to the trouble of making her payment. Et hinc illæ iræ?
"But what is the precise evidence of Madame Deluc? 'A gang of miscreants made their appearance, behaved
boisterously, ate and drank without making payment, followed in the route of the young man and girl,
returned to the inn about dusk, and recrossed the river as if in great haste.'
"Now this 'great haste' very possibly seemed greater haste in the eyes of Madame Deluc, since she dwelt
lingeringly and lamentingly upon her violated cakes and ale − cakes and ale for which she might still have
entertained a faint hope of compensation. Why, otherwise, since it was about dusk, should she make a point of
the haste? It is no cause for wonder, surely, that even a gang of blackguards should make haste to get home,
when a wide river is to be crossed in small boats, when storm impends, and when night approaches.
"I say approaches; for the night had not yet arrived. It was only about dusk that the indecent haste of these
'miscreants' offended the sober eyes of Madame Deluc. But we are told that it was upon this very evening that
Madame Deluc, as well as her eldest son, 'heard the screams of a female in the vicinity of the inn.' And in
what words does Madame Deluc designate the period of the evening at which these screams were heard? 'It
was soon after dark,' she says. But 'soon after dark,' is, at least, dark; and'about dusk' is as certainly daylight.
Thus it is abundantly clear that the gang quitted the Barrière du Roule prior to the screams overheard (?) by
Madame Deluc. And although, in all the many reports of the evidence, the relative expressions in question are
distinctly and invariably employed just as I have employed them in this conversation with yourself, no notice
whatever of the gross discrepancy has, as yet, been taken by any of the public journals, or by any of the
Myrmidons of police.
"I shall add but one to the arguments against a gang; but this one has, to my own understanding at least, a
weight altogether
irresistible. Under the circumstances of large reward offered, and full pardon to any King's evidence, it is not
to be imagined, for a moment, that some member of a gang of low ruffians, or of any body of men, would not
long ago have betrayed his accomplices. Each one of a gang so placed, is not so much greedy of reward, or
anxious for escape, as fearful of betrayal. He betrays eagerly and early that he may not himself be betrayed.
That the secret has not been divulged, is the very best of proof that it is, in fact, a secret. The horrors of this
dark deed are known only to one, or two, living human beings, and to God.
"Let us sum up now the meagre yet certain fruits of our long analysis. We have attained the idea either of a
fatal accident under the roof of Madame Deluc, or of a murder perpetrated, in the thicket at the Barrière du
Roule, by a lover, or at least by an intimate and secret associate of the deceased. This associate is of swarthy
complexion. This complexion, the 'hitch' in the bandage, and the 'sailor's knot,' with which the bonnet−ribbon
is tied, point to a seaman. His companionship with the deceased, a gay, but not an abject young girl,
designates him as above the grade of the common sailor. Here the well written and urgent communications to
the journals are much in the way of corroboration. The circumstance of the first elopement, as mentioned by
Le Mercurie, tends to blend the idea of this seaman with that of the 'naval officer' who is first known to have
led the unfortunate into crime.
"And here, most fitly, comes the consideration of the continued absence of him of the dark complexion. Let
me pause to observe that the complexion of this man is dark and swarthy; it was no common swarthiness
which constituted the sole point of remembrance, both as regards Valence and Madame Deluc. But why is this
man absent? Was he murdered by the gang? If so, why are there only traces of the assassinated girl? The
scene of the two outrages will naturally be supposed identical. And where is his corpse? The assassins would
most probably have disposed of both in the same way. But it may be said that this man lives, and is deterred
from making himself known, through dread of being charged with the murder. This consideration might be
supposed to operate upon him now − at this late period − since it has been given in evidence that he was seen
with Marie − but it would have had no force at the period of the deed. The first impulse of an innocent man would have been to announce the outrage, and to aid in identifying the ruffians. This policy would have
suggested. He had been seen with the girl. He had crossed the river with her in an open ferry−boat. The
denouncing of the assassins would have appeared, even to an idiot, the surest and sole means of relieving
himself from suspicion. We cannot suppose him, on the night of the fatal Sunday, both innocent himself and
incognizant of an outrage committed. Yet only under such circumstances is it possible to imagine that he
would have failed, if alive, in the denouncement of the assassins.
"And what means are ours, of attaining the truth? We shall find these means multiplying and gathering
distinctness as we proceed. Let us sift to the bottom this affair of the first elopement. Let us know the full
history of 'the officer,' with his present circumstances, and his whereabouts at the precise period of the
murder. Let us carefully compare with each other the various communications sent to the evening paper, in
which the object was to inculpate a gang. This done, let us compare these communications, both as regards
style and MS., with those sent to the morning paper, at a previous period, and insisting so vehemently upon
the guilt of Mennais. And, all this done, let us again compare these various communications with the known
MSS. of the officer. Let us endeavor to ascertain, by repeated questionings of Madame Deluc and her boys, as
well as of the omnibus driver, Valence, something more of the personal appearance and bearing of the 'man of
dark complexion.' Queries, skilfully directed, will not fail to elicit, from some of these parties, information on
this particular point (or upon others) − information which the parties themselves may not even be aware of
possessing. And let us now trace the boatpicked up by the bargeman on the morning of Monday the
twenty−third of June, and which was removed from the
barge−office, without the cognizance of the officer in attendance, and without the rudder, at some period prior
to the discovery of the corpse. With a proper caution and perseverance we shall infallibly trace this boat; for
not only can the bargeman who picked it up identify it, but the rudder is at hand. The rudder of a sail−boat
would not have been abandoned, without inquiry, by one altogether at ease in heart. And here let me pause to
insinuate a question. There was no advertisement of the picking up of this boat. It was silently taken to the
barge−office, and as silently removed. But its owner or employer − how happened he, at so early a period as
Tuesday morning, to be informed, without the agency of advertisement, of the locality of the boat taken up on
Monday, unless we imagine some connexion with the navy − some personal permanent connexion leading to
cognizance of its minute in interests − its petty local news?
"In speaking of the lonely assassin dragging his burden to the shore, I have already suggested the probability
of his availing himself of a boat. Now we are to understand that Marie Rogêt was precipitated from a boat.
This would naturally have been the case. The corpse could not have been trusted to the shallow waters of the
shore. The peculiar marks on the back and shoulders of the victim tell of the bottom ribs of a boat. That the
body was found without weight is also
corroborative of the idea. If thrown from the shore a weight would have been attached. We can only account
for its absence by supposing the murderer to have neglected the precaution of supplying himself with it before
pushing off. In the act of consigning the corpse to the water, he would unquestionably have noticed his
oversight; but then no remedy would have been at hand. Any risk would have been preferred to a return to that
accursed shore. Having rid himself of his ghastly charge, the murderer would have hastened to the city. There,
at some obscure wharf, he would have leaped on land. But the boat − would he have secured it? He would
have been in too great haste for such things as securing a boat. Moreover, in fastening it to the wharf, he
would have felt as if securing evidence against himself. His natural thought would have been to cast from him,
as far as possible, all that had held connection with his crime. He would not only have fled from the wharf, but
he would not have permitted the boat to remain. Assuredly he would have cast it adrift. Let us pursue our
fancies. − In the morning, the wretch is stricken with unutterable horror at finding that the boat has been
picked up and detained at a locality which he is in the daily habit of frequenting − at a locality, perhaps, which
his duty compels him to frequent. The next night, without daring to ask for the rudder, he removes it. Now
where is that rudderless boat? Let it be one of our first purposes to discover. With the first glimpse we obtain
of it, the dawn of our success shall begin. This boat shall guide us, with a rapidity which will surprise even
ourselves, to him who employed it in the midnight of the fatal Sabbath. Corroboration will rise upon
corroboration, and the murderer will be traced."
[For reasons which we shall not specify, but which to many readers will appear obvious, we have taken the
liberty of here omitting, from the MSS. placed in our hands, such portion as details the following up of the
apparently slight clew obtained by Dupin. We feel it advisable only to state, in brief, that the result desired
was brought to pass; and that the Prefect fulfilled punctually, although with reluctance, the terms of his
compact with the Chevalier. Mr. Poe's article concludes with the following words. − Eds. {*23}]
It will be understood that I speak of coincidences and no more. What I have said above upon this topic must
suffice. In my own heart there dwells no faith in præter−nature. That Nature and its God are two, no man who
thinks, will deny. That the latter, creating the former, can, at will, control or modify it, is also unquestionable.
I say "at will;" for the question is of will, and not, as the insanity of logic has assumed, of power. It is not that
the Deity cannot modify his laws, but that we insult him in imagining a possible necessity for modification. In
their origin these laws were fashioned to embrace all contingencies which could lie in the Future. With God
all is Now.
I repeat, then, that I speak of these things only as of coincidences. And farther: in what I relate it will be seen
that between the fate of the unhappy Mary Cecilia Rogers, so far as that fate is known, and the fate of one
Marie Rogêt up to a certain epoch in her history, there has existed a parallel in the contemplation of whose
wonderful exactitude the reason becomes embarrassed. I say all this will be seen. But let it not for a moment
be supposed that, in proceeding with the sad narrative of Marie from the epoch just mentioned, and in tracing
to its dénouement the mystery which enshrouded her, it is my covert design to hint at an extension of the
parallel, or even to suggest that the measures adopted in Paris for the discovery of the assassin of a grisette, or
measures founded in any similar
ratiocination, would produce any similar result.
For, in respect to the latter branch of the supposition, it should be considered that the most trifling variation in
the facts of the two cases might give rise to the most important miscalculations, by diverting thoroughly the
two courses of events; very much as, in arithmetic, an error which, in its own individuality, may be
inappreciable, produces, at length, by dint of multiplication at all points of the process, a result enormously at
variance with truth. And, in regard to the former branch, we must not fail to hold in view that the very
Calculus of Probabilities to which I have referred, forbids all idea of the extension of the parallel: − forbids it
with a positiveness strong and decided just in proportion as this parallel has already been long−drawn and
exact. This is one of those anomalous propositions which, seemingly appealing to thought altogether apart
from the mathematical, is yet one which only the mathematician can fully entertain. Nothing, for example, is
more difficult than to convince the merely general reader that the fact of sixes having been thrown twice in
succession by a player at dice, is sufficient cause for betting the largest odds that sixes will not be thrown in
the third attempt. A suggestion to this effect is usually rejected by the intellect at once. It does not appear that
the two throws which have been completed, and which lie now absolutely in the Past, can have influence upon
the throw which exists only in the Future. The chance for throwing sixes seems to be precisely as it was at any
ordinary time − that is to say, subject only to the influence of the various other throws which may be made by
the dice. And this is a reflection which appears so exceedingly obvious that attempts to controvert it are
received more frequently with a derisive smile than with anything like respectful attention. The error here
involved − a gross error redolent of mischief − I cannot pretend to expose within the limits assigned me at
present; and with the philosophical it needs no exposure. It may be sufficient here to say that it forms one of
an infinite series of mistakes which arise in the path or Reason through her propensity for seeking truth in
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The Balloon−Hoax

[Astounding News by Express, via Norfolk ! − The Atlantic crossed in Three Days ! Signal Triumph of Mr.
Monck Mason's Flying Machine ! − Arrival at Sullivan's Island, near Charlestown, S.C., of Mr. Mason, Mr.
Robert Holland, Mr. Henson, Mr. Harrison Ainsworth, and four others, in the Steering Balloon, "Victoria,"
after a passage of Seventy−five Hours from Land to Land ! Full Particulars of the Voyage!
The subjoined jeu d'esprit with the preceding heading in magnificent capitals, well interspersed with notes of
admiration, was originally published, as matter of fact, in the "New York Sun," a daily newspaper, and therein
fully subserved the purpose of creating indigestible aliment for the quidnuncs during the few hours
intervening between a couple of the Charleston mails. The rush for the "sole paper which had the news," was
something beyond even the prodigious ; and, in fact, if (as some assert) the "Victoria" did not absolutely
accomplish the voyage recorded, it will be difficult to assign a reason why she should not have accomplished
THE great problem is at length solved ! The air, as well as the earth and the ocean, has been subdued by
science, and will become a common and convenient highway for mankind. _The Atlantic has been actually
crossed in a Balloon!_ and this too without difficulty − without any great apparent danger − with thorough
control of the machine − and in the inconceivably brief period of seventy−five hours from shore to shore ! By
the energy of an agent at Charleston, S.C., we are enabled to be the first to furnish the public with a detailed
account of this most extraordinary voyage, which was performed between Saturday, the 6th instant, at 11,
A.M., and 2, P.M., on Tuesday, the 9th instant, by Sir Everard Bringhurst ; Mr. Osborne, a nephew of Lord
Bentinck's ; Mr. Monck Mason and Mr. Robert Holland, the well−known æronauts ; Mr. Harrison Ainsworth,
author of "Jack Sheppard," &c. ; and Mr. Henson, the projector of the late unsuccessful flying machine − with
two seamen from Woolwich − in all, eight persons. The particulars furnished below may be relied on as
authentic and accurate in every respect, as, with a slight exception, they are copied verbatim from the joint
diaries of Mr. Monck Mason and Mr. Harrison Ainsworth, to whose politeness our agent is also indebted for
much verbal information respecting the balloon itself, its construction, and other matters of interest. The only
alteration in the MS. received, has been made for the purpose of throwing the hurried account of our agent,
Mr. Forsyth, into a connected and intelligible form.
"Two very decided failures, of late − those of Mr. Henson and Sir George Cayley − had much weakened the
public interest in the subject of aerial navigation. Mr. Henson's scheme (which at first was considered very
feasible even by men of science,) was founded upon the principle of an inclined plane, started from an
eminence by an extrinsic force, applied and continued by the revolution of impinging vanes, in form and
number resembling the vanes of a windmill. But, in all the experiments made with models at the Adelaide
Gallery, it was found that the operation of these fans not only did not propel the machine, but actually
impeded its flight. The only propelling force it ever exhibited, was the mere impetus acquired from the
descent of the inclined plane ; and this impetus carried the machine farther when the vanes were at rest, than when they were in motion − a fact which sufficiently demonstrates their inutility ; and in the absence of the
propelling, which was also the sustaining power, the whole fabric would necessarily descend. This
consideration led Sir George Cayley to think only of adapting a propeller to some machine having of itself an
independent power of support − in a word, to a balloon ; the idea, however, being novel, or original, with Sir
George, only so far as regards the mode of its application to practice. He exhibited a model of his invention at
the Polytechnic Institution. The propelling principle, or power, was here, also, applied to interrupted surfaces,
or vanes, put in revolution. These vanes were four in number, but were found entirely ineffectual in moving
the balloon, or in aiding its ascending power. The whole project was thus a complete failure.
"It was at this juncture that Mr. Monck Mason (whose voyage from Dover to Weilburg in the balloon,
"Nassau," occasioned so much excitement in 1837,) conceived the idea of employing the principle of the
Archimedean screw for the purpose of propulsion through the air − rightly attributing the failure of Mr.
Henson's scheme, and of Sir George Cayley's, to the interruption of surface in the independent vanes. He
made the first public experiment at Willis's Rooms, but afterward removed his model to the Adelaide Gallery.
"Like Sir George Cayley's balloon, his own was an ellipsoid. Its length was thirteen feet six inches − height,
six feet eight inches. It contained about three hundred and twenty cubic feet of gas, which, if pure hydrogen,
would support twenty−one pounds upon its first inflation, before the gas has time to deteriorate or escape. The
weight of the whole machine and apparatus was seventeen pounds − leaving about four pounds to spare.
Beneath the centre of the balloon, was a frame of light wood, about nine feet long, and rigged on to the
balloon itself with a network in the customary manner. From this framework was suspended a wicker basket
or car.
"The screw consists of an axis of hollow brass tube, eighteen inches in length, through which, upon a
semi−spiral inclined at fifteen degrees, pass a series of steel wire radii, two feet long, and thus projecting a
foot on either side. These radii are connected at the outer extremities by two bands of flattened wire − the
whole in this manner forming the framework of the screw, which is completed by a covering of oiled silk cut
into gores, and tightened so as to present a tolerably uniform surface. At each end of its axis this screw is
supported by pillars of hollow brass tube descending from the hoop. In the lower ends of these tubes are holes
in which the pivots of the axis revolve. From the end of the axis which is next the car, proceeds a shaft of
steel, connecting the screw with the pinion of a piece of spring machinery fixed in the car. By the operation of
this spring, the screw is made to revolve with great rapidity, communicating a progressive motion to the
whole. By means of the rudder, the machine was readily turned in any direction. The spring was of great
power, compared with its dimensions, being capable of raising forty−five pounds upon a barrel of four inches
diameter, after the first turn, and gradually increasing as it was wound up. It weighed, altogether, eight pounds
six ounces. The rudder was a light frame of cane covered with silk, shaped somewhat like a battledoor, and
was about three feet long, and at the widest, one foot. Its weight was about two ounces. It could be turned flat,
and directed upwards or downwards, as well as to the right or left ; and thus enabled the æronaut to transfer
the resistance of the air which in an inclined position it must generate in its passage, to any side upon which
he might desire to act ; thus determining the balloon in the opposite direction.
"This model (which, through want of time, we have necessarily described in an imperfect manner,) was put in
action at the Adelaide Gallery, where it accomplished a velocity of five miles per hour; although, strange to
say, it excited very little interest in comparison with the previous complex machine of Mr. Henson − so
resolute is the world to despise anything which carries with it an air of simplicity. To accomplish the great
desideratum of ærial navigation, it was very generally supposed that some exceedingly complicated
application must be made of some unusually profound principle in dynamics.
"So well satisfied, however, was Mr. Mason of the ultimate success of his invention, that he determined to
immediately, if possible, a balloon of sufficient capacity to test the question by a voyage of some extent − the
original design being to cross the British Channel, as before, in the Nassau balloon. To carry out his views, he
solicited and obtained the patronage of Sir Everard Bringhurst and Mr. Osborne, two gentlemen well known
for scientific acquirement, and especially for the interest they have exhibited in the progress of ærostation.
The project, at the desire of Mr. Osborne, was kept a profound secret from the public − the only persons
entrusted with the design being those actually engaged in the construction of the machine, which was built
(under the
superintendence of Mr. Mason, Mr. Holland, Sir Everard Bringhurst, and Mr. Osborne,) at the seat of the
latter gentleman near
Penstruthal, in Wales. Mr. Henson, accompanied by his friend Mr. Ainsworth, was admitted to a private view
of the balloon, on Saturday last − when the two gentlemen made final arrangements to be included in the
adventure. We are not informed for what reason the two seamen were also included in the party − but, in the
course of a day or two, we shall put our readers in possession of the minutest particulars respecting this
extraordinary voyage.
"The balloon is composed of silk, varnished with the liquid gum caoutchouc. It is of vast dimensions,
containing more than 40,000 cubic feet of gas ; but as coal gas was employed in place of the more expensive
and inconvenient hydrogen, the supporting power of the machine, when fully inflated, and immediately after
inflation, is not more than about 2500 pounds. The coal gas is not only much less costly, but is easily procured
and managed.
"For its introduction into common use for purposes of
aerostation, we are indebted to Mr. Charles Green. Up to his discovery, the process of inflation was not only
exceedingly expensive, but uncertain. Two, and even three days, have frequently been wasted in futile
attempts to procure a sufficiency of hydrogen to fill a balloon, from which it had great tendency to escape,
owing to its extreme subtlety, and its affinity for the surrounding atmosphere. In a balloon sufficiently perfect
to retain its contents of coal−gas unaltered, in quantity or amount, for six months, an equal quantity of
hydrogen could not be maintained in equal purity for six weeks.
"The supporting power being estimated at 2500 pounds, and the united weights of the party amounting only to
about 1200, there was left a surplus of 1300, of which again 1200 was exhausted by ballast, arranged in bags
of different sizes, with their respective weights marked upon them − by cordage, barometers, telescopes,
barrels containing provision for a fortnight, water−casks, cloaks,
carpet−bags, and various other indispensable matters, including a coffee−warmer, contrived for warming
coffee by means of slack−lime, so as to dispense altogether with fire, if it should be judged prudent to do so.
All these articles, with the exception of the ballast, and a few trifles, were suspended from the hoop overhead.
The car is much smaller and lighter, in proportion, than the one appended to the model. It is formed of a light
wicker, and is wonderfully strong, for so frail looking a machine. Its rim is about four feet deep. The rudder is
also very much larger, in proportion, than that of the model ; and the screw is considerably smaller. The
balloon is furnished besides with a grapnel, and a guide−rope ; which latter is of the most indispensable
importance. A few words, in explanation, will here be necessary for such of our readers as are not conversant
with the details of aerostation.
"As soon as the balloon quits the earth, it is subjected to the influence of many circumstances tending to create
a difference in its weight ; augmenting or diminishing its ascending power. For example, there may be a
deposition of dew upon the silk, to the extent, even, of several hundred pounds ; ballast has then to be thrown
out, or the machine may descend. This ballast being discarded, and a clear sunshine evaporating the dew, and
at the same time expanding the gas in the silk, the whole will again rapidly ascend. To check this ascent, the
only recourse is, (or rather was, until Mr. Green's invention of the guide−rope,) the permission of the escape
of gas from the valve ; but, in the loss of gas, is a proportionate general loss of ascending power ; so that, in a
comparatively brief period, the best−constructed balloon must necessarily exhaust all its resources, and come
to the earth. This was the great obstacle to voyages of length.
"The guide−rope remedies the difficulty in the simplest manner conceivable. It is merely a very long rope which is suffered to trail from the car, and the effect of which is to prevent the balloon from changing its level
in any material degree. If, for example, there should be a deposition of moisture upon the silk, and the
machine begins to descend in consequence, there will be no necessity for discharging ballast to remedy the
increase of weight, for it is remedied, or counteracted, in an exactly just proportion, by the deposit on the
ground of just so much of the end of the rope as is necessary. If, on the other hand, any circumstances should
cause undue levity, and consequent ascent, this levity is immediately counteracted by the additional weight of
rope upraised from the earth. Thus, the balloon can neither ascend or descend, except within very narrow
limits, and its resources, either in gas or ballast, remain comparatively unimpaired. When passing over an
expanse of water, it becomes necessary to employ small kegs of copper or wood, filled with liquid ballast of a
lighter nature than water. These float, and serve all the purposes of a mere rope on land. Another most
important office of the guide−rope, is to point out the direction_ of the balloon. The rope _drags, either on
land or sea, while the balloon is free ; the latter, consequently, is always in advance, when any progress
whatever is made : a comparison, therefore, by means of the compass, of the relative positions of the two
objects, will always indicate the course. In the same way, the angle formed by the rope with the vertical axis
of the machine, indicates the velocity_. When there is _no angle − in other words, when the rope hangs
perpendicularly, the whole apparatus is stationary ; but the larger the angle, that is to say, the farther the
balloon precedes the end of the rope, the greater the velocity ; and the converse.
"As the original design was to cross the British Channel, and alight as near Paris as possible, the voyagers had
taken the precaution to prepare themselves with passports directed to all parts of the Continent, specifying the
nature of the expedition, as in the case of the Nassau voyage, and entitling the adventurers to exemption from
the usual formalities of office : unexpected events, however, rendered these passports superfluous.
"The inflation was commenced very quietly at daybreak, on Saturday morning, the 6th instant, in the
Court−Yard of Weal−Vor House, Mr. Osborne's seat, about a mile from Penstruthal, in North Wales ; and at 7
minutes past 11, every thing being ready for departure, the balloon was set free, rising gently but steadily, in a
direction nearly South ; no use being made, for the first half hour, of either the screw or the rudder. We
proceed now with the journal, as transcribed by Mr. Forsyth from the joint MSS. Of Mr. Monck Mason, and
Mr. Ainsworth. The body of the journal, as given, is in the hand−writing of Mr. Mason, and a P. S. is
appended, each day, by Mr. Ainsworth, who has in preparation, and will shortly give the public a more
minute, and no doubt, a thrillingly interesting account of the voyage.
"Saturday, April the 6th. − Every preparation likely to embarrass us, having been made over night, we
commenced the inflation this morning at daybreak ; but owing to a thick fog, which encumbered the folds of
the silk and rendered it unmanageable, we did not get through before nearly eleven o'clock. Cut loose, then, in
high spirits, and rose gently but steadily, with a light breeze at North, which bore us in the direction of the
British Channel. Found the ascending force greater than we had expected ; and as we arose higher and so got
clear of the cliffs, and more in the sun's rays, our ascent became very rapid. I did not wish, however, to lose
gas at so early a period of the adventure, and so concluded to ascend for the present. We soon ran out our
guide−rope ; but even when we had raised it clear of the earth, we still went up very rapidly. The balloon was
unusually steady, and looked beautifully. In about ten minutes after starting, the barometer indicated an
altitude of 15,000 feet. The weather was remarkably fine, and the view of the subjacent country − a most
romantic one when seen from any point, − was now especially sublime. The numerous deep gorges presented
the appearance of lakes, on account of the dense vapors with which they were filled, and the pinnacles and
crags to the South East, piled in inextricable confusion, resembling nothing so much as the giant cities of
eastern fable. We were rapidly approaching the mountains in the South ; but our elevation was more than
sufficient to enable us to pass them in safety. In a few minutes we soared over them in fine style ; and Mr.
Ainsworth, with the seamen, was surprised at their apparent want of altitude when viewed from the car, the
tendency of great elevation in a balloon being to reduce inequalities of the surface below, to nearly a dead
level. At half−past eleven still proceeding nearly South, we obtained our first view of the Bristol Channel ;
and, in fifteen minutes afterward, the line of breakers on the coast appeared immediately beneath us, and we
were fairly out at sea. We now resolved to let off enough gas to bring our guide−rope, with the buoys affixed,
into the water. This was immediately done, and we commenced a gradual descent. In about twenty minutes
our first buoy dipped, and at the touch of the second soon afterwards, we remained stationary as to elevation.
We were all now anxious to test the efficiency of the rudder and screw, and we put them both into requisition
forthwith, for the purpose of altering our direction more to the eastward, and in a line for Paris. By means of
the rudder we instantly effected the necessary change of direction, and our course was brought nearly at right
angles to that of the wind ; when we set in motion the spring of the screw, and were rejoiced to find it propel
us readily as desired. Upon this we gave nine hearty cheers, and dropped in the sea a bottle, enclosing a slip of
parchment with a brief account of the principle of the invention. Hardly, however, had we done with our
rejoicings, when an unforeseen accident occurred which discouraged us in no little degree. The steel rod
connecting the spring with the propeller was suddenly jerked out of place, at the car end, (by a swaying of the
car through some movement of one of the two seamen we had taken up,) and in an instant hung dangling out
of reach, from the pivot of the axis of the screw. While we were endeavoring to regain it, our attention being
completely absorbed, we became involved in a strong current of wind from the East, which bore us, with
rapidly increasing force, towards the Atlantic. We soon found ourselves driving out to sea at the rate of not
less, certainly, than fifty or sixty miles an hour, so that we came up with Cape Clear, at some forty miles to
our North, before we had secured the rod, and had time to think what we were about. It was now that Mr.
Ainsworth made an extraordinary, but to my fancy, a by no means unreasonable or chimerical proposition, in
which he was instantly seconded by Mr. Holland − viz.: that we should take advantage of the strong gale
which bore us on, and in place of beating back to Paris, make an attempt to reach the coast of North America.
After slight reflection I gave a willing assent to this bold proposition, which (strange to say) met with
objection from the two seamen only. As the stronger party, however, we overruled their fears, and kept
resolutely upon our course. We steered due West ; but as the trailing of the buoys materially impeded our
progress, and we had the balloon abundantly at command, either for ascent or descent, we first threw out fifty
pounds of ballast, and then wound up (by means of a windlass) so much of the rope as brought it quite clear of
the sea. We perceived the effect of this manoeuvre immediately, in a vastly increased rate of progress ; and, as
the gale freshened, we flew with a velocity nearly inconceivable ; the guide−rope flying out behind the car,
like a streamer from a vessel. It is needless to say that a very short time sufficed us to lose sight of the coast.
We passed over innumerable vessels of all kinds, a few of which were endeavoring to beat up, but the most of
them lying to. We occasioned the greatest excitement on board all − an excitement greatly relished by
ourselves, and especially by our two men, who, now under the influence of a dram of Geneva, seemed
resolved to give all scruple, or fear, to the wind. Many of the vessels fired signal guns ; and in all we were
saluted with loud cheers (which we heard with surprising distinctness) and the waving of caps and
handkerchiefs. We kept on in this manner throughout the day, with no material incident, and, as the shades of
night closed around us, we made a rough estimate of the distance traversed. It could not have been less than
five hundred miles, and was probably much more. The propeller was kept in constant operation, and, no
doubt, aided our progress materially. As the sun went down, the gale freshened into an absolute hurricane, and
the ocean beneath was clearly visible on account of its phosphorescence. The wind was from the East all
night, and gave us the brightest omen of success. We suffered no little from cold, and the dampness of the
atmosphere was most unpleasant ; but the ample space in the car enabled us to lie down, and by means of
cloaks and a few blankets, we did sufficiently well.
"P.S. (by Mr. Ainsworth.) The last nine hours have been unquestionably the most exciting of my life. I can
conceive nothing more sublimating than the strange peril and novelty of an adventure such as this. May God
grant that we succeed ! I ask not success for mere safety to my insignificant person, but for the sake of human
knowledge and − for the vastness of the triumph. And yet the feat is only so evidently feasible that the sole
wonder is why men have scrupled to attempt it before. One single gale such as now befriends us − let such a
tempest whirl forward a balloon for four or five days (these gales often last longer) and the voyager will be
easily borne, in that period, from coast to coast. In view of such a gale the broad Atlantic becomes a mere
lake. I am more struck, just now, with the supreme silence which reigns in the sea beneath us,
notwithstanding its agitation, than with any other phenomenon presenting itself. The waters give up no voice to the heavens. The immense flaming ocean writhes and is tortured uncomplainingly. The mountainous surges
suggest the idea of innumerable dumb gigantic fiends struggling in impotent agony. In a night such as is this
to me, a man lives − lives a whole century of ordinary life − nor would I forego this rapturous delight for that
of a whole century of ordinary existence.
"Sunday, the seventh. [Mr. Mason's MS.] This morning the gale, by 10, had subsided to an eight or nine −
knot breeze, (for a vessel at sea,) and bears us, perhaps, thirty miles per hour, or more. It has veered, however,
very considerably to the north ; and now, at sundown, we are holding our course due west, principally by the
screw and rudder, which answer their purposes to admiration. I regard the project as thoroughly successful,
and the easy navigation of the air in any direction (not exactly in the teeth of a gale) as no longer
problematical. We could not have made head against the strong wind of yesterday ; but, by ascending, we
might have got out of its influence, if requisite. Against a pretty stiff breeze, I feel convinced, we can make
our way with the propeller. At noon, to−day, ascended to an elevation of nearly 25,000 feet, by discharging
ballast. Did this to search for a more direct current, but found none so favorable as the one we are now in. We
have an abundance of gas to take us across this small pond, even should the voyage last three weeks. I have
not the slightest fear for the result. The difficulty has been strangely exaggerated and misapprehended. I can
choose my current, and should I find all currents against me, I can make very tolerable headway with the
propeller. We have had no incidents worth recording. The night promises fair.
P.S. [By Mr. Ainsworth.] I have little to record, except the fact (to me quite a surprising one) that, at an
elevation equal to that of Cotopaxi, I experienced neither very intense cold, nor headache, nor difficulty of
breathing ; neither, I find, did Mr. Mason, nor Mr. Holland, nor Sir Everard. Mr. Osborne complained of
constriction of the chest − but this soon wore off. We have flown at a great rate during the day, and we must
be more than half way across the Atlantic. We have passed over some twenty or thirty vessels of various
kinds, and all seem to be delightfully astonished. Crossing the ocean in a balloon is not so difficult a feat after
all. _Omne ignotum pro magnifico. Mem :_ at 25,000 feet elevation the sky appears nearly black, and the stars
are distinctly visible ; while the sea does not seem convex (as one might suppose) but absolutely and most
unequivocally concave.{*1}
"Monday, the 8th. [Mr. Mason's MS.] This morning we had again some little trouble with the rod of the
propeller, which must be entirely remodelled, for fear of serious accident − I mean the steel rod − not the
vanes. The latter could not be improved. The wind has been blowing steadily and strongly from the north−east
all day and so far fortune seems bent upon favoring us. Just before day, we were all somewhat alarmed at
some odd noises and concussions in the balloon, accompanied with the apparent rapid subsidence of the
whole machine. These phenomena were occasioned by the expansion of the gas, through increase of heat in
the atmosphere, and the consequent disruption of the minute particles of ice with which the network had
become encrusted during the night. Threw down several bottles to the vessels below. Saw one of them picked
up by a large ship − seemingly one of the New York line packets. Endeavored to make out her name, but
could not be sure of it. Mr. Osbornes telescope made it out something like "Atalanta." It is now 12 ,at night,
and we are still going nearly west, at a rapid pace. The sea is peculiarly
"P.S. [By Mr. Ainsworth.] It is now 2, A.M., and nearly calm, as well as I can judge − but it is very difficult to
determine this point, since we move with the air so completely. I have not slept since quitting Wheal−Vor, but
can stand it no longer, and must take a nap. We cannot be far from the American coast.
"Tuesday, the _9_th. [Mr. Ainsworth's MS.] _One, P.M. We are in full view of the low coast of South
Carolina_. The great problem is accomplished. We have crossed the Atlantic − fairly and easily crossed it in a
balloon ! God be praised ! Who shall say that anything is impossible hereafter? "
The Journal here ceases. Some particulars of the descent were communicated, however, by Mr. Ainsworth to
Mr. Forsyth. It was nearly dead calm when the voyagers first came in view of the coast, which was
immediately recognized by both the seamen, and by Mr. Osborne. The latter gentleman having acquaintances
at Fort Moultrie, it was immediately resolved to descend in its vicinity. The balloon was brought over the
beach (the tide being out and the sand hard, smooth, and admirably adapted for a descent,) and the grapnel let
go, which took firm hold at once. The inhabitants of the island, and of the fort, thronged out, of course, to see
the balloon ; but it was with the greatest difficulty that any one could be made to credit the actual voyage −
the crossing of the Atlantic. The grapnel caught at 2, P.M., precisely ; and thus the whole voyage was
completed in seventy−five hours ; or rather less, counting from shore to shore. No serious accident occurred.
No real danger was at any time apprehended. The balloon was exhausted and secured without trouble ; and
when the MS. from which this narrative is compiled was despatched from Charleston, the party were still at
Fort Moultrie. Their farther intentions were not ascertained ; but we can safely promise our readers some
additional information either on Monday or in the course of the next day, at farthest.
This is unquestionably the most stupendous, the most interesting, and the most important undertaking, ever
accomplished or even attempted by man. What magnificent events may ensue, it would be useless now to
think of determining.
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Qui n'a plus qu'un moment a vivre
N'a plus rien a dissimuler.
Quinault −− Atys. ·
OF my country and of my family I have little to say. Ill usage and length of years have driven me from the
one, and estranged me from the other. Hereditary wealth afforded me an education of no common order, and a
contemplative turn of mind enabled me to methodize the stores which early study very diligently garnered up.
−− Beyond all things, the study of the German moralists gave me great delight; not from any ill−advised
admiration of their eloquent madness, but from the ease with which my habits of rigid thought enabled me to
detect their falsities. I have often been reproached with the aridity of my genius; a deficiency of imagination
has been imputed to me as a crime; and the Pyrrhonism of my opinions has at all times rendered me notorious.
Indeed, a strong relish for physical philosophy has, I fear, tinctured my mind with a very common error of this
age −− I mean the habit of referring occurrences, even the least susceptible of such reference, to the principles
of that science. Upon the whole, no person could be less liable than myself to be led away from the severe
precincts of truth by the ignes fatui of superstition. I have thought proper to premise thus much, lest the
incredible tale I have to tell should be considered rather the raving of a crude
imagination, than the positive experience of a mind to which the reveries of fancy have been a dead letter and a nullity.
After many years spent in foreign travel, I sailed in the year 18 −− , from the port of Batavia, in the rich and
populous island of Java, on a voyage to the Archipelago of the Sunda islands. I went as passenger −− having
no other inducement than a kind of nervous restlessness which haunted me as a fiend.
Our vessel was a beautiful ship of about four hundred tons, copper−fastened, and built at Bombay of Malabar
teak. She was freighted with cotton−wool and oil, from the Lachadive islands. We had also on board coir,
jaggeree, ghee, cocoa−nuts, and a few cases of opium. The stowage was clumsily done, and the vessel
consequently crank.
We got under way with a mere breath of wind, and for many days stood along the eastern coast of Java,
without any other incident to beguile the monotony of our course than the occasional meeting with some of
the small grabs of the Archipelago to which we were bound.
One evening, leaning over the taffrail, I observed a very singular, isolated cloud, to the N.W. It was
remarkable, as well for its color, as from its being the first we had seen since our departure from Batavia. I
watched it attentively until sunset, when it spread all at once to the eastward and westward, girting in the
horizon with a narrow strip of vapor, and looking like a long line of low beach. My notice was soon
afterwards attracted by the dusky−red appearance of the moon, and the peculiar character of the sea. The latter
was undergoing a rapid change, and the water seemed more than usually transparent. Although I could
distinctly see the bottom, yet, heaving the lead, I found the ship in fifteen fathoms. The air now became
intolerably hot, and was loaded with spiral exhalations similar to those arising from heat iron. As night came
on, every breath of wind died away, an more entire calm it is impossible to conceive. The flame of a candle
burned upon the poop without the least perceptible motion, and a long hair, held between the finger and
thumb, hung without the possibility of detecting a vibration. However, as the captain said he could perceive
no indication of danger, and as we were drifting in bodily to shore, he ordered the sails to be furled, and the
anchor let go. No watch was set, and the crew, consisting principally of Malays, stretched themselves
deliberately upon deck. I went below −− not without a full presentiment of evil. Indeed, every appearance
warranted me in apprehending a Simoom. I told the captain my fears; but he paid no attention to what I said,
and left me without deigning to give a reply. My uneasiness, however, prevented me from sleeping, and about
midnight I went upon deck. −− As I placed my foot upon the upper step of the companion−ladder, I was
startled by a loud, humming noise, like that occasioned by the rapid revolution of a mill−wheel, and before I
could ascertain its meaning, I found the ship quivering to its centre. In the next instant, a wilderness of foam
hurled us upon our beam−ends, and, rushing over us fore and aft, swept the entire decks from stem to stern.
The extreme fury of the blast proved, in a great measure, the salvation of the ship. Although completely
water−logged, yet, as her masts had gone by the board, she rose, after a minute, heavily from the sea, and,
staggering awhile beneath the immense pressure of the tempest, finally righted.
By what miracle I escaped destruction, it is impossible to say. Stunned by the shock of the water, I found
myself, upon recovery, jammed in between the stern−post and rudder. With great difficulty I gained my feet,
and looking dizzily around, was, at first, struck with the idea of our being among breakers; so terrific, beyond
the wildest imagination, was the whirlpool of mountainous and foaming ocean within which we were
engulfed. After a while, I heard the voice of an old Swede, who had shipped with us at the moment of our
leaving port. I hallooed to him with all my strength, and presently he came reeling aft. We soon discovered
that we were the sole survivors of the accident. All on deck, with the exception of ourselves, had been swept
overboard; −− the captain and mates must have perished as they slept, for the cabins were deluged with water.
Without assistance, we could expect to do little for the security of the ship, and our exertions were at first
paralyzed by the momentary expectation of going down. Our cable had, of course, parted like pack−thread, at
the first breath of the hurricane, or we should have been instantaneously overwhelmed. We scudded with
frightful velocity before the sea, and the water made clear breaches over us. The frame−work of our stern was
shattered excessively, and, in almost every respect, we had received considerable injury; but to our extreme
Joy we found the pumps unchoked, and that we had made no great shifting of our ballast. The main fury of the
blast had already blown over, and we apprehended little danger from the violence of the wind; but we looked
forward to its total cessation with dismay; well believing, that, in our shattered condition, we should
inevitably perish in the tremendous swell which would ensue. But this very just apprehension seemed by no
means likely to be soon verified. For five entire days and nights −− during which our only subsistence was a
small quantity of jaggeree, procured with great difficulty from the forecastle −− the hulk flew at a rate defying
computation, before rapidly succeeding flaws of wind, which, without equalling the first violence of the
Simoom, were still more terrific than any tempest I had before encountered. Our course for the first four days
was, with trifling variations, S.E. and by S.; and we must have run down the coast of New Holland. −− On the
fifth day the cold became extreme, although the wind had hauled round a point more to the northward. −− The
sun arose with a sickly yellow lustre, and clambered a very few degrees above the horizon −− emitting no
decisive light. −− There were no clouds apparent, yet the wind was upon the increase, and blew with a fitful
and unsteady fury. About noon, as nearly as we could guess, our attention was again arrested by the
appearance of the sun. It gave out no light, properly so called, but a dull and sullen glow without reflection, as
if all its rays were polarized. Just before sinking within the turgid sea, its central fires suddenly went out, as if
hurriedly extinguished by some unaccountable power. It was a dim, sliver−like rim, alone, as it rushed down
the unfathomable ocean.
We waited in vain for the arrival of the sixth day −− that day to me has not arrived −− to the Swede, never did
arrive. Thenceforward we were enshrouded in patchy darkness, so that we could not have seen an object at
twenty paces from the ship. Eternal night continued to envelop us, all unrelieved by the phosphoric
sea−brilliancy to which we had been accustomed in the tropics. We observed too, that, although the tempest
continued to rage with unabated violence, there was no longer to be discovered the usual appearance of surf,
or foam, which had hitherto attended us. All around were horror, and thick gloom, and a black sweltering
desert of ebony. −− Superstitious terror crept by degrees into the spirit of the old Swede, and my own soul
was wrapped up in silent wonder. We neglected all care of the ship, as worse than useless, and securing
ourselves, as well as possible, to the stump of the mizen−mast, looked out bitterly into the world of ocean. We
had no means of calculating time, nor could we form any guess of our situation. We were, however, well
aware of having made farther to the southward than any previous navigators, and felt great amazement at not
meeting with the usual impediments of ice. In the meantime every moment threatened to be our last −− every
mountainous billow hurried to overwhelm us. The swell surpassed anything I had imagined possible, and that
we were not instantly buried is a miracle. My companion spoke of the lightness of our cargo, and reminded
me of the excellent qualities of our ship; but I could not help feeling the utter hopelessness of hope itself, and
prepared myself gloomily for that death which I thought nothing could defer beyond an hour, as, with every
knot of way the ship made, the swelling of the black stupendous seas became more dismally appalling. At
times we gasped for breath at an elevation beyond the albatross −− at times became dizzy with the velocity of
our descent into some watery hell, where the air grew stagnant, and no sound disturbed the slumbers of the
We were at the bottom of one of these abysses, when a quick scream from my companion broke fearfully
upon the night. "See! see!" cried he, shrieking in my ears, "Almighty God! see! see!" As he spoke, I became
aware of a dull, sullen glare of red light which streamed down the sides of the vast chasm where we lay, and
threw a fitful brilliancy upon our deck. Casting my eyes upwards, I beheld a spectacle which froze the current
of my blood. At a terrific height directly above us, and upon the very verge of the precipitous descent, hovered
a gigantic ship of, perhaps, four thousand tons. Although upreared upon the summit of a wave more than a
hundred times her own altitude, her apparent size exceeded that of any ship of the line or East Indiaman in
existence. Her huge hull was of a deep dingy black, unrelieved by any of the customary carvings of a ship. A
single row of brass cannon protruded from her open ports, and dashed from their polished surfaces the fires of
battle−lanterns, which swung to and fro about her rigging. But what mainly inspired us with horror and
astonishment, was that she bore up under a press of sail in the very teeth of that supernatural sea, and of that ungovernable hurricane. When we first discovered her, her bows were alone to be seen, as she rose slowly
from the dim and horrible gulf beyond her. For a moment of intense terror she paused upon the giddy
pinnacle, as if in contemplation of her own sublimity, then trembled and tottered, and −− came down.
At this instant, I know not what sudden self−possession came over my spirit. Staggering as far aft as I could, I
awaited fearlessly the ruin that was to overwhelm. Our own vessel was at length ceasing from her struggles,
and sinking with her head to the sea. The shock of the descending mass struck her, consequently, in that
portion of her frame which was already under water, and the inevitable result was to hurl me, with irresistible
violence, upon the rigging of the stranger.
As I fell, the ship hove in stays, and went about; and to the confusion ensuing I attributed my escape from the
notice of the crew. With little difficulty I made my way unperceived to the main hatchway, which was
partially open, and soon found an opportunity of secreting myself in the hold. Why I did so I can hardly tell.
An indefinite sense of awe, which at first sight of the navigators of the ship had taken hold of my mind, was
perhaps the principle of my concealment. I was unwilling to trust myself with a race of people who had
offered, to the cursory glance I had taken, so many points of vague novelty, doubt, and apprehension. I
therefore thought proper to contrive a hiding−place in the hold. This I did by removing a small portion of the
shifting−boards, in such a manner as to afford me a convenient retreat between the huge timbers of the ship.
I had scarcely completed my work, when a footstep in the hold forced me to make use of it. A man passed by
my place of concealment with a feeble and unsteady gait. I could not see his face, but had an opportunity of
observing his general appearance. There was about it an evidence of great age and infirmity. His knees
tottered beneath a load of years, and his entire frame quivered under the burthen. He muttered to himself, in a
low broken tone, some words of a language which I could not understand, and groped in a corner among a pile
of singular−looking instruments, and decayed charts of navigation. His manner was a wild mixture of the
peevishness of second childhood, and the solemn dignity of a God. He at length went on deck, and I saw him
no more.
A feeling, for which I have no name, has taken possession of my soul −− a sensation which will admit of no
analysis, to which the lessons of bygone times are inadequate, and for which I fear futurity itself will offer me
no key. To a mind constituted like my own, the latter consideration is an evil. I shall never −− I know that I
shall never −− be satisfied with regard to the nature of my conceptions. Yet it is not wonderful that these
conceptions are indefinite, since they have their origin in sources so utterly novel. A new sense −− a new
entity is added to my soul.
It is long since I first trod the deck of this terrible ship, and the rays of my destiny are, I think, gathering to a
Incomprehensible men! Wrapped up in meditations of a kind which I cannot divine, they pass me by
unnoticed. Concealment is utter folly on my part, for the people will not see. It was but just now that I passed
directly before the eyes of the mate −− it was no long while ago that I ventured into the captain's own private
cabin, and took thence the materials with which I write, and have written. I shall from time to time continue
this Journal. It is true that I may not find an opportunity of transmitting it to the world, but I will not fall to
make the endeavour. At the last moment I will enclose the MS. in a bottle, and cast it within the sea.
An incident has occurred which has given me new room for meditation. Are such things the operation of
ungoverned Chance? I had ventured upon deck and thrown myself down, without attracting any notice, among
a pile of ratlin−stuff and old sails in the bottom of the yawl. While musing upon the singularity of my fate, I
unwittingly daubed with a tar−brush the edges of a neatly−folded studding−sail which lay near me on a barrel.
The studding−sail is now bent upon the ship, and the thoughtless touches of the brush are spread out into the
I have made many observations lately upon the structure of the vessel. Although well armed, she is not, I
think, a ship of war. Her rigging, build, and general equipment, all negative a supposition of this kind. What
she is not, I can easily perceive −− what she is I fear it is impossible to say. I know not how it is, but in
scrutinizing her strange model and singular cast of spars, her huge size and overgrown suits of canvas, her
severely simple bow and antiquated stern, there will occasionally flash across my mind a sensation of familiar
things, and there is always mixed up with such indistinct shadows of recollection, an unaccountable memory
of old foreign chronicles and ages long ago.
I have been looking at the timbers of the ship. She is built of a material to which I am a stranger. There is a
peculiar character about the wood which strikes me as rendering it unfit for the purpose to which it has been
applied. I mean its extreme porousness, considered independently by the worm−eaten condition which is a
consequence of navigation in these seas, and apart from the rottenness attendant upon age. It will appear
perhaps an observation somewhat over−curious, but this wood would have every, characteristic of Spanish
oak, if Spanish oak were distended by any unnatural means.
In reading the above sentence a curious apothegm of an old
weather−beaten Dutch navigator comes full upon my recollection. "It is as sure," he was wont to say, when
any doubt was entertained of his veracity, "as sure as there is a sea where the ship itself will grow in bulk like
the living body of the seaman."
About an hour ago, I made bold to thrust myself among a group of the crew. They paid me no manner of
attention, and, although I stood in the very midst of them all, seemed utterly unconscious of my presence.
Like the one I had at first seen in the hold, they all bore about them the marks of a hoary old age. Their knees
trembled with infirmity; their shoulders were bent double with decrepitude; their shrivelled skins rattled in the
wind; their voices were low, tremulous and broken; their eyes glistened with the rheum of years; and their
gray hairs streamed terribly in the tempest. Around them, on every part of the deck, lay scattered
mathematical instruments of the most quaint and obsolete construction.
I mentioned some time ago the bending of a studding−sail. From that period the ship, being thrown dead off
the wind, has continued her terrific course due south, with every rag of canvas packed upon her, from her
trucks to her lower studding−sail booms, and rolling every moment her top−gallant yard−arms into the most
appalling hell of water which it can enter into the mind of a man to imagine. I have just left the deck, where I
find it impossible to maintain a footing, although the crew seem to experience little inconvenience. It appears
to me a miracle of miracles that our enormous bulk is not swallowed up at once and forever. We are surely
doomed to hover continually upon the brink of Eternity, without taking a final plunge into the abyss. From
billows a thousand times more stupendous than any I have ever seen, we glide away with the facility of the
arrowy sea−gull; and the colossal waters rear their heads above us like demons of the deep, but like demons
confined to simple threats and forbidden to destroy. I am led to attribute these frequent escapes to the only
natural cause which can account for such effect. −− I must suppose the ship to be within the influence of some
strong current, or impetuous under−tow.
I have seen the captain face to face, and in his own cabin −− but, as I expected, he paid me no attention.
Although in his appearance there is, to a casual observer, nothing which might bespeak him more or less than
man−still a feeling of irrepressible reverence and awe mingled with the sensation of wonder with which I
regarded him. In stature he is nearly my own height; that is, about five feet eight inches. He is of a well−knit
and compact frame of body, neither robust nor remarkably otherwise. But it is the singularity of the
expression which reigns upon the face −− it is the intense, the wonderful, the thrilling evidence of old age, so
utter, so extreme, which excites within my spirit a sense −− a sentiment ineffable. His forehead, although little
wrinkled, seems to bear upon it the stamp of a myriad of years. −− His gray hairs are records of the past, and
his grayer eyes are Sybils of the future. The cabin floor was thickly strewn with strange, iron−clasped folios,
and mouldering instruments of science, and obsolete long−forgotten charts. His head was bowed down upon
his hands, and he pored, with a fiery unquiet eye, over a paper which I took to be a commission, and which, at all events, bore the signature of a monarch. He muttered to himself, as did the first seaman whom I saw in the
hold, some low peevish syllables of a foreign tongue, and although the speaker was close at my elbow, his
voice seemed to reach my ears from the distance of a mile.
The ship and all in it are imbued with the spirit of Eld. The crew glide to and fro like the ghosts of buried
centuries; their eyes have an eager and uneasy meaning; and when their fingers fall athwart my path in the
wild glare of the battle−lanterns, I feel as I have never felt before, although I have been all my life a dealer in
antiquities, and have imbibed the shadows of fallen columns at Balbec, and Tadmor, and Persepolis, until my
very soul has become a ruin.
When I look around me I feel ashamed of my former apprehensions. If I trembled at the blast which has
hitherto attended us, shall I not stand aghast at a warring of wind and ocean, to convey any idea of which the
words tornado and simoom are trivial and ineffective? All in the immediate vicinity of the ship is the
blackness of eternal night, and a chaos of foamless water; but, about a league on either side of us, may be
seen, indistinctly and at intervals, stupendous ramparts of ice, towering away into the desolate sky, and
looking like the walls of the universe.
As I imagined, the ship proves to be in a current; if that
appellation can properly be given to a tide which, howling and shrieking by the white ice, thunders on to the
southward with a velocity like the headlong dashing of a cataract.
To conceive the horror of my sensations is, I presume, utterly impossible; yet a curiosity to penetrate the
mysteries of these awful regions, predominates even over my despair, and will reconcile me to the most
hideous aspect of death. It is evident that we are hurrying onwards to some exciting knowledge −− some
never−to−be−imparted secret, whose attainment is destruction. Perhaps this current leads us to the southern
pole itself. It must be confessed that a supposition apparently so wild has every probability in its favor.
The crew pace the deck with unquiet and tremulous step; but there is upon their countenances an expression
more of the eagerness of hope than of the apathy of despair.
In the meantime the wind is still in our poop, and, as we carry a crowd of canvas, the ship is at times lifted
bodily from out the sea −− Oh, horror upon horror! the ice opens suddenly to the right, and to the left, and we
are whirling dizzily, in immense concentric circles, round and round the borders of a gigantic amphitheatre,
the summit of whose walls is lost in the darkness and the distance. But little time will be left me to ponder
upon my destiny −− the circles rapidly grow small −− we are plunging madly within the grasp of the
whirlpool −− and amid a roaring, and bellowing, and thundering of ocean and of tempest, the ship is
quivering, oh God! and −− going down.
NOTE. −− The "MS. Found in a Bottle," was originally published in 1831, and it was not until many years
afterwards that I became acquainted with the maps of Mercator, in which the ocean is represented as rushing,
by four mouths, into the (northern) Polar Gulf, to be absorbed into the bowels of the earth; the Pole itself
being represented by a black rock, towering to a prodigious height.
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The Oval Portrait

THE chateau into which my valet had ventured to make forcible entrance, rather than permit me, in my
desperately wounded condition, to pass a night in the open air, was one of those piles of commingled gloom
and grandeur which have so long frowned among the Appennines, not less in fact than in the fancy of Mrs.
Radcliffe. To all appearance it had been temporarily and very lately abandoned. We established ourselves in
one of the smallest and least sumptuously furnished apartments. It lay in a remote turret of the building. Its
decorations were rich, yet tattered and antique. Its walls were hung with tapestry and bedecked with manifold
and multiform armorial trophies, together with an unusually great number of very spirited modern paintings in
frames of rich golden arabesque. In these paintings, which depended from the walls not only in their main
surfaces, but in very many nooks which the bizarre architecture of the chateau rendered necessary −− in these
paintings my incipient delirium, perhaps, had caused me to take deep interest; so that I bade Pedro to close the
heavy shutters of the room −− since it was already night −− to light the tongues of a tall candelabrum which
stood by the head of my bed −− and to throw open far and wide the fringed curtains of black velvet which
enveloped the bed itself. I wished all this done that I might resign myself, if not to sleep, at least alternately to
the contemplation of these pictures, and the perusal of a small volume which had been found upon the pillow,
and which purported to criticise and describe them.
Long −− long I read −− and devoutly, devotedly I gazed. Rapidly and gloriously the hours flew by and the
deep midnight came. The position of the candelabrum displeased me, and outreaching my hand with
difficulty, rather than disturb my slumbering valet, I placed it so as to throw its rays more fully upon the book.
But the action produced an effect altogether unanticipated. The rays of the numerous candles (for there were
many) now fell within a niche of the room which had hitherto been thrown into deep shade by one of the
bed−posts. I thus saw in vivid light a picture all unnoticed before. It was the portrait of a young girl just
ripening into womanhood. I glanced at the painting hurriedly, and then closed my eyes. Why I did this was
not at first apparent even to my own perception. But while my lids remained thus shut, I ran over in my mind
my reason for so shutting them. It was an impulsive movement to gain time for thought −− to make sure that
my vision had not deceived me −− to calm and subdue my fancy for a more sober and more certain gaze. In a
very few moments I again looked fixedly at the painting.
That I now saw aright I could not and would not doubt; for the first flashing of the candles upon that canvas
had seemed to dissipate the dreamy stupor which was stealing over my senses, and to startle me at once into
waking life.
The portrait, I have already said, was that of a young girl. It was a mere head and shoulders, done in what is
technically termed a vignette manner; much in the style of the favorite heads of Sully. The arms, the bosom,
and even the ends of the radiant hair melted imperceptibly into the vague yet deep shadow which formed the
back−ground of the whole. The frame was oval, richly gilded and filigreed in Moresque. As a thing of art
nothing could be more admirable than the painting itself. But it could have been neither the execution of the
work, nor the immortal beauty of the
countenance, which had so suddenly and so vehemently moved me. Least of all, could it have been that my
fancy, shaken from its half slumber, had mistaken the head for that of a living person. I saw at once that the
peculiarities of the design, of the vignetting, and of the frame, must have instantly dispelled such idea −− must
have prevented even its momentary entertainment. Thinking earnestly upon these points, I remained, for an
hour perhaps, half sitting, half reclining, with my vision riveted upon the portrait. At length, satisfied with the
true secret of its effect, I fell back within the bed. I had found the spell of the picture in an absolute
life−likeliness of expression, which, at first startling, finally confounded, subdued, and appalled me. With
deep and reverent awe I replaced the candelabrum in its former position. The cause of my deep agitation being
thus shut from view, I sought eagerly the volume which discussed the paintings and their histories. Turning to
the number which designated the oval portrait, I there read the vague and quaint words which follow:
"She was a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more lovely than full of glee. And evil was the hour when she
saw, and loved, and wedded the painter. He, passionate, studious, austere, and having already a bride in his
Art; she a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more lovely than full of glee; all light and smiles, and frolicsome
as the young fawn; loving and cherishing all things; hating only the Art which was her rival; dreading only the
pallet and brushes and other untoward instruments which deprived her of the countenance of her lover. It was
thus a terrible thing for this lady to hear the painter speak of his desire to portray even his young bride. But she was humble and obedient, and sat meekly for many weeks in the dark, high
turret−chamber where the light dripped upon the pale canvas only from overhead. But he, the painter, took
glory in his work, which went on from hour to hour, and from day to day. And be was a passionate, and wild,
and moody man, who became lost in reveries; so that he would not see that the light which fell so ghastly in
that lone turret withered the health and the spirits of his bride, who pined visibly to all but him. Yet she smiled
on and still on, uncomplainingly, because she saw that the painter (who had high renown) took a fervid and
burning pleasure in his task, and wrought day and night to depict her who so loved him, yet who grew daily
more dispirited and weak. And in sooth some who beheld the portrait spoke of its resemblance in low words,
as of a mighty marvel, and a proof not less of the power of the painter than of his deep love for her whom he
depicted so surpassingly well. But at length, as the labor drew nearer to its conclusion, there were admitted
none into the turret; for the painter had grown wild with the ardor of his work, and turned his eyes from
canvas merely, even to regard the countenance of his wife. And he would not see that the tints which he
spread upon the canvas were drawn from the cheeks of her who sate beside him. And when many weeks bad
passed, and but little remained to do, save one brush upon the mouth and one tint upon the eye, the spirit of
the lady again flickered up as the flame within the socket of the lamp. And then the brush was given, and then
the tint was placed; and, for one moment, the painter stood entranced before the work which he had wrought;
but in the next, while he yet gazed, he grew tremulous and very pallid, and aghast, and crying with a loud
voice, 'This is indeed Life itself!' turned suddenly to regard his beloved: −− She was dead!
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