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raised his hand, and the three hundred gentlemen learned in the law, approached him by an irresistible im pulse, and were instantly sucked into that mouth from whose vortex there is no return.
One caprice of imagination leads to another. A table was spread in the centre of the room, and a knot of worthy souls were busily enjoying themselves. They were the members of the Noctes Ambrosianæ. North was there, and Tickler, and Hogg, and ODoherty, and Mullion, and the rest of that illustrious band. And when the mouth saw them, he elevated his dexter-hand a third time
His habitation was Eternity, and his name was TIME. That mouth was the gulf of oblivion into which all things must pass, save those doomed to endure for ever. The day before I had seen the frontispiece of George Cruickshank's Illustrations of Time, where the insatiable monster is feeding upon the works of nature-where he has an elephant in one hand, and a church in the other, raising them to his ruthless maw; and where cities, pyramids, and temples, are spread out before him for his next repast. This then was Time who sat before me; and his mouth, I doubted not, was expanded to receive whatsoever was unstamped with the seal of im--but its spell was unavailing now. mortality. "A change came o'er the spirit of rision-the.Shepherd saluted him my dream." In a moment the Library, which had been silent, dark, and deserted, was lighted up, and crowded with wonted visitors. Three hundred advocates in their gowns paraded its vista--three hundred gentlemen learned in the law! I was amazed at it-not so Time. He chuckled with delight, and (mirabile dictu) gaped wider than before.
It was a night of miracles. Those thousands of tomes which crowded the shelves, seemed stricken with a dead palsy. The shelves themselves shook with trepidation, and their inhabitants tumbled with "hideous ruin and combustion" upon the floor. Shakspeare, Milton, Scott, and some others, kept their accustomed births, but the multitudinous mass started from theirs in dismay, as if some dreadful angel had pronounced their
What did Time? He raised his right hand, and the volumes, as if borne upon some mighty stream, came rushing towards him. I heard their leaves fluttering in agony; and commingled with their agitations, came the groans of living and dead authors, bewailing their luckless offspring. The mouth, as they approached it, grew wider; and into its abyss sunk reams of paper innumerable, blackened with oceans of printer's ink.
Another freak of Time. He again
North shook his crutch at him in de
with a guffaw of contempt-Mullion snapped his fingers in his faceODoherty discharged a brandy bot tle at his head,-and Tickler swore he did not value him a pipe-stopper. Poor mouth-he was quite chop-fallen!
I pitied him. There is something painful in witnessing the failure of one who has been invariably victorious; and in spite of my respect for those excellent friends who had set him at defiance, I would rather have seen them sucked into his Lethean gulf than witnessed his overthrow. I pitied him profoundly, for his faculties of devourment were next to boundless; and it was lamentable to think that there dwelt on this ball of earth any power capable of saying, "thus far shalt thou come, and no farther." Time, or the Man with the Mouth, or whatever name we choose to call him by, felt his situa tion bitterly. He did not gnash his teeth; that would have been a tedious business to one whose mouth required thirty-six minutes to open, and doubtless as many to shut-but the tears rolled down his pallid cheeks, and deep long-drawn sighs of anguish and disappointment proceeded from the bottom of his heart.
To assuage sorrow was always one of my principles. My heart is ever open "to the sweet music of huma
nity ;" and I resolved to pour consolation into the spirit of this injured one. "Yes, Mouth! I shall assuage thy matchless griefs," said I, weeping bitterly, while I buried my eyes in my handkerchief with one hand, and seized that of the object of my philanthropy with the other. Scarcely had I done so, than the mouth uttered these awful words-" Friend,
thou art more free than welcome!"—— and, on looking up to see what they could import, I found that I was seated in the travellers' room of the Hen and Chickens at Birmingham, and had caught by the nose a worthy quaker, who was at that moment occupied in devouring a savoury dish of pork-chops and sausages.
A MODERN PYTHAGOREAN.
THE SEXTON OF COLOGNE.
N the year 1571 there lived at Cologne a rich burgomaster, whose wife, Adelaide, then in the prime of her youth and beauty, fell sick and died. They had lived very happily together, and, throughout her fatal illness, the doating husband scarcely quitted her bedside for an instant. During the latter period of her sickness she did not suffer greatly; but the fainting fits grew more and more frequent, and of increasing duration, till at length they became incessant, and she finally sank under them.
It is well known that Cologne is a city which, as far as respects religion, may compare itself with Rome; on which account it was called, even in the middle ages, Roma Germanica, and sometimes the Sacred City. It seemed as if, in after-times, it wished to compensate by piety the misfortune of having been the birth-place of the abominable Agrippina. For many years nothing else was seen but priests, students, and mendicant monks; while the bells were ringing and tolling from morning till night. Even now you may count in it as many churches and cloisters as the year has days.
The principal church is the cathedral of St. Peter-one of the handsomest buildings in all Germany, though still not so complete as it was probably intended by the architect. The choir alone is arched. The chief altar is a single block of black marble, brought along the Rhine to Cologne, from Namur upon the Maas.
In the sacristy an ivory red is shown, said to have belonged to the apostle Peter; and in a chapel stands a gilded coffin, with the names of the holy Three Kings inscribed. Their skulls are visible through an opening-two being white, as belonging to Caspar and Baltesar-the third black, for Melchior.
It was in this church that Adelaide was buried with great splendour. In the spirit of that which had more feeling for the solid than real tastemore devotion and confidence than unbelieving fear-she was dressed as a bride in flowered silk, a motley garland upon her head, and her pale fingers covered with costly rings; in which state she was conveyed to the vault of a little chapel, directly under the choir, in a coffin with glass windows. Many of her forefathers were already resting here, all embalmed, and, with their mummy forms, offering a strange contrast to the silver and gold with which they were decorated, and teaching, in a peculiar fashion, the difference between the perishable and the imperishable. The custom of embalming was, in the present instance, given up; and, when Adelaide was buried, it was settled that no one else should be laid there for the future.
With a heavy heart had Adolph followed his wife to her final restingplace. The turret-bells, of two hundred and twenty hundred weight, lifted up their deep voices, and spread the sounds of mourning through the wide city; while the monks, carrying
tapers and scattering incense, sang requiems from their huge vellum folios, which were spread upon the music-desks in the choir. But the service was now over; the dead lay alone with the dead; the immense clock, which is only wound up once a-year, and shews the course of the planets, as well as the hours of the day, was the only thing that had sound or motion in the whole cathedral. Its monotonous ticking seemed to mock the silent grave.
It was a stormy November evening, when Petier Bolt, the Sexton of St. Peter's, was returning home after this splendid funeral. The poor man, who had been married four years, had one child, a daughter, which his wife brought him in the second year of their marriage, and was again expecting her confinement. It was, therefore, with a heavy heart that he had left the church for his cottage, which lay damp and cold on the banks of a river, and which, at this dull season, looked more gloomy than ever. At the door, he was met by the little Maria, who called out with great delight, "You must not go up stairs, father; the stork has been here, and brought Maria a little brother!"-a piece of information more expected than agreeable, and which was soon after confirmed by the appearance of his sister-in-law, with a healthy infant in her arms. His wife, however, had suffered much, and was in a state that required assistance far beyond his means to supply. In this distress he bethought himself of the Jew, Isaac, who had lately advanced him a trifle on his old silver watch; but now, unfortunately, he had nothing more to pledge, and was forced to ground all his hopes on the Jew's compassion-a very unsafe anchorage. With doubtful steps he sought the house of the miser, and told his tale amidst tears and sighs; to all of which Isaac listened with great patience-so much so, that Bolt began to flatter himself with a favorable answer to his petition. But he was disappointed the Jew, having heard him out, coolly replied, that
" he could lend no monies on a child it was no good pledge."
With bitter execrations on the usu rer's hard-heartedness, poor Bolt rushed from his door; when, to ag gravate his situation, the first snow of the season began to fall, and that so thick and fast, that, in a very short time, the house-tops presented a single field of white. Immersed in his grief, he missed his way across the market-place, and, when he least ex pected such a thing, found himself in the front of the cathedral. The great clock chimed three quarters-it wanted then a quarter to twelve. Where way he to look for assistance at such an hour-or, indeed, at any hour? He had already applied to the rich prelates, and got from them all that their charity was likely to give. Sudden ly, a thought struck him like light ning; he saw his little Maria crying for the food he could not give herhis sick wife, lying in bed, with the infant on her exhausted bosom-and then Adelaide, in her splendid coffin, and her hand glittering with jewels that it could not grasp. "Of what use are diamonds to her now?" said he to himself. "Is there any sin in robbing the dead to give to the liv ing? I would not do such a thing for myself if I were starving-no, Heaven forbid! But for my wife and child-ah! that's quite another matter."
Quieting his conscience as well as he could with this opiate, he hur ried home to get the necessary imple ments; but by the time he reached his own door, his resolution began to waver. The sight, however, of his wife's distress wrought him up again to the sticking-place; and having provided himself with a dark lantern, the church-keys, and a crow to break open the coffin, he set out for the ca thedral. On the way, all manner of strange fancies crossed him: the earth seemed to shake beneath him-it was the tottering of his own limbs: a figure seemed to sign him back—it was the shade thrown from some col umo, that waved to and fro as the lamp-light flickered in the night-wind.
But still the thought of home drove him on ; and even the badness of the weather carried this consolation with it-he was the more likely to find the streets clear, and escape detection.
He had now reached the cathedral. For a moment he paused on the steps, and then, taking heart, put the huge key into the lock. To his fancy, it had never opened with such readiness before. The bolt shot back at the light touch of the key, and he stood alone in the church, trembling from head to foot. Still it was requisite to close the door behind him, lest its being open should be noticed by any one passing by, and give rise to suspicion; and, as he did so, the story came across his mind of the man who visited a church at midnight to show his courage. For a sign that he had really been there he was to stick his knife into a coffin; but, in his hurry and trepidation, he struck it through the skirt of his coat without being aware of it, and supposing himself held back by some supernatural agency, dropt down dead from terror.
leaving a darker shadow on the features.
"If I had only time," he said to himself" if I had only time, I would rather break open one of the other coffins, and leave the lady Adelaide in quiet. Age has destroyed all that is human in these mummies ; they have lost that resemblance to life, which makes the dead so terrible, and I should no more mind handling them than so many dry bones. It's all nonsense, though; one is as harmless as the other, and since the lady Adelaide's house is the easiest for my work, I must e'en set about it."
But the coffin did not offer the facilities he reckoned upon with so much certainty. The glass-windows were secured inwardly with iron wire, leaving no space for the admission of the hand, so that he found himself obliged to break the lid to pieces, a task that, with his imperfect implements, cost both time and labor. As the wood splintered and cracked under the heavy blows of the iron, Full of these unpleasant recollec- the cold perspiration poured in tions, he tottered up the nave; and streams down his face, the sound asas the light successively flashed upon suring him more than all the rest that the sculptured marbles, it seemed as he was committing sacrilege. Before, if the pale figures frowned ominously it was only the place, with its dark upon him. But desperation supplied associations, that had terrified him: the place of courage. He kept on now he began to be afraid of himhis way to the choir-descended the self, and would, without doubt, have steps-passed through the long, nar- given up the business altogether, if row passage, with the dead heaped the lid had not suddenly flown to on either side-opened Adelaide's pieces. Alarmed at his very success, chapel, and stood at once before her he started round, as if expecting to coffin. There she lay, stiff and pale see some one behind, watching his sa-the wreath in her hair, and the crilege, and ready to clutch him; and jewels on her fingers, gleaming so strong had been the illusion, that, strangely in the dim lights of the lan- when he found this was not the case, tern. He even fancied that he alrea- he fell upon his knees before the cofdy smelt the pestilential breath of fin, exclaiming, "Forgive me, dear decay, though it was full early for lady, if I take from you what is of no corruption to have begun his work. use to yourself, while a single diaA sickness seized him at the thought; mond will make a poor family so hapand he leaned for support against one py. It is not for myself-Oh no of the columns, with his eyes fixed on it is for my wife and children." the coffin; when-was it real, or He thought the dead looked more was it illusion ?—a change came over kindly at him as he spoke thus, and the face of the dead! He started certainly the livid shadow had passback; and that change, so indescribed away from her face. Without able, had passed away in an instant, more delay, he raised the cold hand
to draw the rings from its finger; but what was his horror when the dead returned his grasp !-his hand was clutched, aye firmly clutched, though that rigid face and form lay there as motionless as ever. With a cry of horror he burst away, not retaining so much presence of mind as to think of the light, which he left burning by the coffin. This, however, was of little consequence; fear can find its way in the dark, and he rushed through the vaulted passage, up the steps, through the choir, and would have found his way out, had he not, in his hurry, forgotten the stone, called the Devil's Stone, which lies in the middle of the church, and which, according to the legend, was cast there by the Devil. Thus much is certain, it has fallen from the arch, and they still show a hole above, through which it is said to have been hurled,
Against this stone the unlucky sexton stumbled, just as the turretclock struck twelve, and immediately he fell to the earth in a deathlike swoon. The cold, however, soon brought him to himself, and on recovering his senses he again fled, winged by terror, and fully convinced that he had no hope of escaping the vengeance of the dead, except by the confession of his crime, and gaining the forgiveness of her family. With this view he hurried across the market-place to the Burgomaster's house, where he had to knock long before he could attract any notice. The whole household lay in a profound sleep, with the exception of the unhappy Adolph, who was sitting alone on the same sofa where he had so of ten sat with his Adelaide. Her picture hung on the wall opposite to him, though it might rather be said to feed his grief than to afford him any consolation. And yet, as most would do under such circumstances, he dwelt upon it the more intently even From the pain it gave him, and it was not till the sexton had knocked repeatedly that he awoke from his melancholy dreams. Roused at last he opened the window and inquired who
it was that disturbed him at such an unseasonable hour?" It is only I, Mr. Burgomaster," was the answer. "And who are you?" again asked Adolph.-" Bolt, the sexton of St. Peter's, Mr. Burgomaster; I have a thing of the utmost importance to discover to you."-Naturally associating the idea of Adelaide with the sexton of the church where she was buried, Adolph was immediately anx
us to know something more of the matter, and, taking up a waxlight, he hastened down stairs, and himself opened the door to Bolt.
"What have you to say to me?" he exclaimed." Not here, Mr. Burgomaster," replied the anxious sexton;-"not here; we may be overheard."
Adolph, though wondering at this affectation of mystery, motioned him in, and closed the door; when Bolt, throwing himself at his feet, confessed all that had happened. ger of Adolph was mixed with compassion as he listened to the strange recital; nor could he refuse to Bolt the absolution which the poor fellow deemed so essential to his security from the vengeance of the dead. At the same time, he cautioned him to maintain a profound silence on the subject towards every one else, as otherwise the sacrilege might be attended with serious consequencesit not being likely that the ecclesiastics, to whom the judgment of such matters belonged, would view his fault with equal indulgence. He even resolved to go himself to the church with Bolt, that he might investigate the affair more thoroughly. But to this proposition the sexton gave a prompt and positive denial."I would rather," he exclaimed,— "I would rather be dragged to the scaffold than again disturb the repose of the dead." This declaration, so ill-timed, confounded Adolph. the one hand, he felt an undefined curiosity to look more narrowly into this mysterious business; on the other, he could not help feeling compassion for the sexton, who, it was evident, was labouring under the in