No. I.




to connect himself with, and his mind became stored apace.

Robert, like the rest of the children, when he became big enough and old enough, was sent out to field-work, to contribute by the aid of his slender gains, towards the common store. At seven years of age, he was sent The name of Robert Nicol! will always take high rank to the herding of cattle, an occupation by the way, in among the Poets of Scotland. He was one of the many Burns, James Ferguson, Mungo Park, Dr. Murray (the which many of our most distinguished Scotchmen,illustrious Scotchmen who have risen up to adorn the lot of toil, and reflect honour on the class from which In winter, Nicoll attended the school with his "fee." Orientalist), and James Hogg-spent their early years. they have sprung-the laborious and hardworking peasantry of their land. Nicoll, like Burns, was a man of When occupied in herding, the boy had always a book whom those who live in poor men's huts may well be for his companion; and he read going to his work and proud. They declare, from day to day, that intellect returning from it. While engaged in this humble vocais of no class, but that even in abodes of the deepest riod of his life, he says, "I can yet look back with no tion he read most of the Waverley novels. At a future pepoverty, there are warm hearts and noble minds, wanting but the opportunity and the circumstances to enable common feelings on the wood in which, while herding, them to take their place as honourable and zealous la-read Kenilworth." Probably the perusal of that bourers in the great work of human improvement and Christian progress.

beautiful fiction never gave a purer pleasure, even in the stately halls of rank and fashion, than it gave to the poor herd-boy in the wood at Tulliebelton.

In his "Youth's Dream," he looked back with delight to that glad period of his life,

"Oh, weel I mind how I would muse,
An' think, had I the power,
How happy, happy I would make
Ilk heart the warld o'er!
The gift, unending happiness-
The joyful giver I!

The life of Robert Nicoll was not one of much variety of incident. It was alas! brought to an early close, for he died almost ere he had reached manhood. But in his short allotted span, it is not too much to say, that he lived more than most men have done, who have reached their three score years and ten. He was born of hard-working, God-fearing parents, in the year 1814, at the little village of Tullybelton, situated about the foot of the Grampian hills, near Auchtergaven, in Perthshire. At an early period of his life, his father had rented the small farm of Ordie-braes, but having been unsuccessful in his far ing, and falling behind with his rent, his home was b ken up by the laird; the farmstocking was sold off by public roup; and the poor man was reduced to the rank of a common day-labourer. The memory of Ordie-braes afterwards haunted the young poet, and formed the subject of one of his sweet-teen years of age, he becan to scribble his thoughts, and est little pieces

"Aince in a day there were happy hames

By the bonny Ordé's side:

Nane ken how meikle peace an love

In a straw roof'd cot can bide.

So pure and holy were my dreams
When I was herdin kye!"

When twelve years old, Robert was taken from the herding, and went to work in the garden of a neighbouring proprietor. Shortly after this, when about thir

to string rhymes together. About this time also, as one of
his intimate friends has told us, he passed through a
strange phasis of being. He was in the practice of re-
lating to his companions the most wonderful and incre-
dible stories as facts-stories that matched the wonders
of the Arabian Tales, and evidencing the inordinate as-

But these hames are gane, and the hand O Timecendency at that time of his imagination over the other
The roofless wa's doth raze :

Laneness and sweetness hand in hand,
Gang o'er the Ordé Braes."

faculties of his mind. The tales and novel literature, which, in common with all other kinds of books, he devoured with avidity, probably tended to the development of this disease (for such it really seemed to be,) in Robert was the second of a family of seven children, his young and excitable nature. As for the verses which six sons and one daughter, the "sister Margaret," of whom he then wrote, they were not at all such as satisfied the poet afterwards spoke and wrote so affectionately. himself; for, despairing of ever being able to write the Out of the bare weekly income of a day-labourer, there English language correctly, he gathered all his papers was not, as might be inferred, much to spare for school- together and made a bonfire of them, resolving to write ing. But the mother was an intelligent, active woman no more "poetry" for the present. He became, howand assiduously devoted herself to the culture of her ever, the local correspondent of a provincial newspaper children. She taught them to read, and gave them circulating in the district, furnishing it with weekly padaily lessons in the Assembly's Catechism, so that, be-ragraphs and scraps of news, on the state of the weafore being sent to school, which they were in course of ther and the crops, etc. His return for this service, time, this good and prudent mother had laid in them was an occasional copy of the paper, and the consequence the foundations of a sound moral and religious educa- attendant on being the "correspondent" of the village. But another person was afterwards found more to the liking of the editor of the paper, and Robert to his chagrin, lost his profitless post.



My mother, says Nicoll in one of his letters, "in her early years, was an ardent book-woman. When she became poor, her time was too precious to admit of its being spent in reading, and I generally read to her while she was working; for she took care that the children should not want education."

Robert's subsequent instructions at school, included the common branches of reading, writing, and accounts; the remainder of his education was his own work. He became a voracious reader, laying half the parish under contribution for books. A circulating library was got up in the parish, which the lad managed

Nicholl's next change was an important one to him. He left his native hamlet and went into the world of active life. At the age of seventeen he bound himself apprentice to a grocer and wine merchant in Perth. There he came into contact with business, and activity, and opinion. The time was stirring with agitation. The Reform movement had passed over the face of the country like a tornado, raising millions of minds to action. The exciting effects of the agitation on the intellects and sympathies of the youth of

that day, are still remembered; and few there were, who did not feel more or less influenced by them. The excitable mind of Nicoll was one of the first to be influenced; he burned to distinguish himself as a warrior on the people's side; he had longings infinite after popular enlargement, enfranchisement, and happiness. His thoughts shortly found vent in verse, and he became a poet. He joined a debating society, and made speeches. Every spare moment of his time was devoted to self-improvement; to the study of grammar, to the reading of works on political economy and politics in all their forms. In the course of one summer, he several times read through with attention "Smith's Wealth of Nations," not improbably with an eye to some future employment on the newspaper press. He also read Milton, Locke, and Bentham-and devoured all other books that he could lay hands on, with avidity. The debating society with which he was connected, proposed to start a periodical; and Nicoll undertook to write a tale for the first number. The periodical did not appear, and the tale was sent to Johnstone's Edinburgh Magazine, where it appeared under the title of "Jessie Ogilvy," to the no small joy of the writer. It decided Nicoll's vocation-it determined him to be an author. He proclaimed his Radicalism-his resolution to "stand by his order," that of "the many.'

His letters to his

was in vain, and he returned home disappointed though not hopeless.

He was about twenty when he went to Dundee, there to start a small circulating library. The project was not very successful; but while he kept it going he worked harder than ever at literary improvement. He now wrote his Lyrics and Poems, which were soon afterwards published, and extremely well received by the press. He also wrote for the liberal newspapers of the town, delivered lectures, made speeches, and extended his knowledge of men and society. In a letter to a friend, written in February. 1836, he says, "No wonder I am busy. I am at this moment writing poetry; I have almost half a volume of a novel written; I have to attend the meetings of the Kinlock Monument Committee; attend my shop; and write some half dozen articles a week for the Advertizer; and to crown all I have fallen in love." At last, however, finding the library to be a losing concern, he made it entirely over to the partner who had joined him, and quitted Dundee, with the intention of seeking out some literary employment by which he might live.


The Dundee speculation had involved Nicoll, and through him his mother, in debt, though to only a small This debt weighed heavy on his mind, and he his parent about it:-"This money of R.'s (a friend who thus opened his heart in a highly characteristic letter to had lent him a few pounds to commence business with)

relatives, about this time, are full of political allusions. He was working very hard too,-attending in his mistress's shop, from seven in the morning, till nine at night, and afterwards sitting up to read and write; ri-hangs like a millstone about my neck. If I had it paid sing early in the morning, and going forth to the North Inch by five o'clock, to write or to read until the hour of shop-opening. At the same time he was living, on the poorest possible diet-literally on bread and cheese, and water-that he might devote every possible farthing of his small gains to the purposes of mental improve


not mistake me, mother; I am not one of those men I would never borrow again from mortal man. But do who faint and falter in the great battle of life. God has given me too strong a heart for that. I look upon earth work, that he may be made humble and pure hearted, as a place where every man is set to struggle, and to and fit for that better land for which earth is a preparaFew constitutions can stand such intense labour and who bows before the storm of life-who runs not the tion to which earth is the gate. Cowardly is that man privations with impunity; and there is little doubt but needful race manfully, and with a cheerful heart. If men Nicoll was even then undermining his health, and sow-would but consider how little of real evil there is in all ing the seeds of the malady which in so short a time the ills of which they are so much afraid-poverty inafter, was to bring him to his grave. But he was cluded-there would be more virtue and happiness, and eager to distinguish himself in the field of letters, less world and mammon worship on earth than is. I though then but a poor shop-lad; and, more than all, think, mother, that to me has been given talent; and if he was ambitious to be independent, and have the means of aiding his mother in her humble exertions for so, that talent was given to make it useful to man. a living; never losing sight of the comfort and welfare man it cannot be made a source of happiness unless it of that first and fastest of his friends. At length, how-be cultivated; and cultivated it cannot be unless, I ever, his health became seriously impaired, so much think, little [here some words are obliterated]; and much so, that his Perth apprenticeship was abruptly brought and well of purifying ard enlightening the soul. This is my philosophy; and its motto is

to a close, and he was sent home by his mistress to be nursed by his mother at Ordie Braes,-not, however, before he had contributed another Radical story, entitled "The Zingaro," a poem on "Bessy Bell and Mary Gray," and an article on "The Life and times of John Milton," to Johnstone's Edinburgh Magazine. An old friend and schoolfellow, who saw him in the course of this visit to his mother's house, thus speaks of him,

Despair, thy name is written on
The roll of common men.


Half the unhappiness of life springs from looking back to griefs which are past, and forward with fear to the future. That is not my way. I am determined never to bend to the storm that is coming, and never to look "Robert's city life had not spoiled him. His ac-back on it after it has passed. Fear not for me, dear quaintance with men and books had improved his mind mother; for I feel myself daily growing firmer, and without chilling his heart. At this time he was full of more hopeful in spirit. The more I think and reflectjoy and hope. A bright literary life stretched before and thinking, instead of reading, is now my occupation, him. His conversation was gay and sparkling, and I feel that, whether I be growing richer or not, I am rushed forth like a stream that flows through flowery growing a wiser man, which is far better. Pain, posummer vales." His health soon became re-established, verty, and all the other wild beasts of life which so afand he then paid a visit to Edinburgh, during the period fright others, I am so bold as to think I could look in of the Grey Festival, and there met his kind friend the face without shrinking, without losing respect for Mrs. Johnstone, William Tait, Robert Chambers, Robert myself, faith in man's high destinies, and trust in God. Gilfillan, and others known in the literary world, by all There is a point which it costs much mental toil and of whom he was treated with much kindness and hos- struggling to gain, but which, when once gained, a man pitality. His search for literary employment, however, can look down from, as a traveller from a lofty mounwhich was the main cause of his visit to Edinburgh, tain, on storms raging below, while he is walking in

sunshine. That I have yet gained this point in life I will not say, but I feel myself daily nearer it."

About the end of the year 1836, Nicoll succeeded, through the kind assistance of Mr. Tait, of Edinburgh, in obtaining an appointment as editor of an English newspaper, the Leeds Times. This was the kind of occupation for which he had longed; and he entered upon the arduous labours of his office with great spirit. He threw himself heart and soul into the work, labouring with the energy and devotion of one who felt that there was social and political existence and freedom in the truths he gave utterance to. During the year and a half of his editorship, his mind seemed to be on fire; and, on the occasion of a parliamentary contest in the town in which the paper was published, he wrote in a style which to some seemed bordering on phrenzy. He neither gave nor took quarter. The man who went not so far as he did in political opinion, was regarded by him as an enemy, and denounced accordingly. He dealt about his blows with almost savage violence. This novel and daring style, however, attracted attention to the paper, and its circulation rapidly increased, sometimes at the rate of two hundred or three hundred a week. One can scarcely believe that the tender-hearted poet and the fierce political partizan were one and the same person, or that he who had so touchingly written

"I dare not scorn the meanest thing

That on the earth doth crawl,"

Need we detail the melancholy progress of a disease which is, in this country, the annual fate of thousands. It almost seemed as if, while the body of the poet decayed, the mind grew more active and excitable, and that as the physical powers became more weakened, his sense of sympathy became more keen. When he engaged in conversation upon a subject which he lovedupon human progress, the amelioration of the lot of the poor, the emancipation of mind, the growing strength of the party of the movement-he seemed as one inspired. Usually quiet and reserved, he would on such occasions work himself into a state of the greatest excitement. His breast heaved, his whole frame was agitated, and while he spoke, his large lustrous eyes beamed with an unwonted fire. His wife feared such outbursts. They were followed by sleepless nights, and generally by an aggravation of his complaint.

Throughout the whole progress of his disease, up to the time when he left Leeds, did Nicoll produce his usual weekly quota of literary labour. They little know, who have not learnt from bitter experience, what pains and anxieties, what sorrows and cares, lie hid under the columns of a daily or weekly newspaper. No galley-slave at the oar tugs harder for life than the man who writes in newspapers for the indispensible of daily bread. The press is ever at his heels, crying “give, give;" and well or ill, gay or sad, the Editor must supply the usual complement " of leading article." The last articles poor Nicoll wrote for the paper, were prepared whilst sitting up in bed, propped about by pillows.

should have held up his political opponents, in the words A friend entered just as he had finished them, and found of some other poet,

"To grinning scorn a sacrifice
And endless infamy."

him in a state of high excitement: the veins on his forehead were turgid, his eyes were bloodshot, his whole frame quivered, and the perspiration streamed from him. He had produced a pile of blotted and blurred manuscript, written in his usual energetic manner. It was But such inconsistencies are, we believe, reconcile- immediately after sent to press. These were the last able in the mental histories of ardent and impetuous leaders he ever wrote. They were shortly after followmen. Doubtless, had Nicoll lived, we should have founded by a short address to the readers of the paper, in his sympathies becoming more enlarged, and embracing other classes besides those of only one form of political creed. One of his friends once asked him why, like Elliot, he did not write political poetry. His reply was, that he could not: when writing politics he could be as wild as he chose he felt a vehement desire, a feel ing amounting almost to a wish, for vengeance upon the oppressor: but when he turned to poetry, a softening influence came over him, and he could be bitter no longer."

His literary labours, while in Leeds, were enormous. He was not satisfied with writing from four to five columns weekly for the paper; but he was engaged at the same time in writing a long poem, a novel, and in furnishing leading articles for a new Sheffield newspaper. In the midst of this tremendous labour, he found time to go down to Dundee to get married to a young woman, since dead, for whom he had for some time entertained an ardent affection. The comfort of his home was thus increased, though his labours continued as before. They soon told upon his health. The clear and ruddy complexion of the young man grew pallid; the erect and manly gait became stooping; the firm step faltered; the lustrous eye was dimmed; and the joyous health and spirits of youth were fast sinking into rest. The worm of disease was already at his heart and gnawing away his vitals. His cough, which had never entirely left him since his illness, brought on by self-imposed privation and study while at Perth, again appeared in an aggravated form; his breath grew short and thick; his cheeks became shrunken; and the hectic, which never deceives, soon made its appearance. He appeared as if suddenly to grow old; his shoulders became contracted; he appeared to wither up, and the sap of life to shrink from his veins.

which he took a short but affectionate farewell of them; and stating that he went to try the effect of his native air, as a last chance for life."

Almost at the moment of his departure from Leeds, an incident occurred which must have been exceedingly affecting to Nicoll, as it was to those who witnessed it. Ebenezer Elliott, the "Corn Law Rhymer," who entertained an enthusiastic admiration for the young poet, had gone over from Sheffield to deliver a short course of lectures to the Leeds Literary Institution, and promised himself the pleasure of a kindly interview with Robert Nicoll. On inquiring about him, after the delivery of his first lecture, he was distressed to learn the sad state to which he was reduced. "No words, (says Elliott in a letter to the writer of this memoir) can express the pain I felt when informed on my return to my inn, that he was dying, and that if I would see him I must reach his dwelling before eight o'clock next morning, at which hour he would depart by railway for Edinburgh, in the hope that his native air might restore him. I was five minutes too late to see him at his house, but I followed nim to the station, where about a minute before the train started he was pointed out to me in one of the carriages, seated, I believe, between his wife and his mother. I stood on the step of the carriage and told him my name. He gasped they all three wept; but I heard not his voice."

The invalid reached Newhaven, near Leith, sick, exhausted, distressed, and dying. He was received under the hospitable roof of Mrs. Johnstone, his early friend, who tended him as if he had been her own child. Other friends gathered around him, and contributed to smooth his dying couch. It was not the least of Nicoll's distresses, that towards his latter end he was tortured by the hor

rors of destitution; not so much for himself as for those who were dependent on him for their daily bread. A generous gift of £50 was forwarded by Sir William Molesworth, through the kind instrumentality of Mr. Teit, of Edinburgh, but Nicoll did not live to enjoy the bounty; in a few days after he breathed his last in the arms of his wife.

The remains of Robert Nicoll rest in a narrow spot in Newhaven Churchyard. No stone marks his restingplace: only a small green mound that has been watered by the tears of the loved he has left behind him. On

may well understand his feelings when we read his "Ha Bible," with which, as a fine specimen of his poetry, we will close this article.


Chief of the Household Gods

Which hallow Scotland's lowly cottage homes! While looking on thy signs

That speak, though dumb, deep thought upon me


With glad yet solemn dreams my heart is stirr'd,

that spot the eye of God dwells; and around the pre-Like Childhood's when it hears the carol of a bird! cincts of the poet's grave, the memories of friends still hover with a fond and melancholy regret.


Robert Nicoll was no ordinary man: Ebenezer Elliott has said of him, "Burns at his age had done nothing like him." His poetry is the very soul of pathos, tenderness, and sublimity. We might almost style him the Scottish Keats; though much more real and life-like, and more definite in his aims and purposes than Keats There is a truth and soul in the poetry of Nicoll, which come home to the universal heart. Especially does he give utterance to that deep poetry which lives in the heart, and murmurs in the lot of the poor man. He knew and felt it all, and found for it a voice in his exquisite lyrics. These have truth written on their very front-as Nicoll said truly to a friend, I have written my heart in my poems; and rude, unfinished, and hasty as they are, it can be read there."

[ocr errors]

Need we cite examples?" We are lowly," "The Ha' Bible," "The Hero,' "The bursting of the Chain," I dare not scorn," and numerous other pieces which might be named, are, for strength, sublimity, and the noble poetic truths contained in them, equal to anything in the English language. "The Ha' Bible" is perhaps not unworthy to take equal rank with "The Cottar's Saturday Night" of Robert Burns.

To this interesting memoir by our friend Dr. Smiles, we will add a few sentences.

William Tait, in a note to us, observes, that Robert Nicoll's manners were uncommonly gentle, yet he was spirited in conversation. I recollect when he and Mr. M'Laren, of the Scotsman, dined with me and a few friends Mr. M'Laren remarked the strange brilliance of Nicoll's eyes, in which there appeared what might be supposed to be the true poetic fire, or-mayhap, one of the well-known signs of consumption."



It was in Edinburgh that we ourselves saw Robert Nicoll, just before he went to Leeds to edit the Times; and we thought that we had never seen any one who so completely realized the idea of the young poet. what above the middle size, of a free and buoyant carriage, and with a countenance which was beautiful in the expression of intellect and noble sentiment. His eyes, struck us as most poetical,-large, blue, and full of enthusiasm. There was an ingenuousness about him that was peculiarly charming, and the spirit of freedom and of progress that animated him, seemed to point him out for a brilliant, ardent career in the cause of


He accompanied us to breakfast at the house of an old Friend, a leading member of the Society there, and the order, the quietness, and seriousness of the family, made a most lively impression upon him. After breakfast the old gentleman brought the Bible and read a chapter, after which we sate some time in silence, and when the conversation was renewed, it was not of the ordinary matters of the day, but of the progress of the Peace Society, the Anti-Slavery Society, and similar topics, all embracing human improvement and welfare. As we retired, Nicoll said it was a peep into an entirely new life to him, and brought strongly to his imagination the life of Covenanters and Patriarchs. We

The Mountains old and hoar

The chainless Winds-the Streams so pure and freeThe God-enamel'd Flowers

The waving Forest-the eternal SeaTeachers all; but 0! they are not such as thou! The Eagle floating o'er the Mountain's brow


O! I could worship thee!

Thou art a gift a God of love might give; For Love and Hope and Joy

In thy Almighty-written pages live!The Slave who reads shall never crouch again; For, mind-inspired by thee, he bursts his feeble chain!

God! Unto Thee I kneel,

And thank Thee! Thou unto my native land— Yea to the outspread Earth

Hast stretched in love Thy Everlasting hand, And Thou hast given Earth and Sea and AirYea all that heart can ask of Good and Pure and Fair!

And, Father, Thou hast spread

Before Men's eyes this Charter of the Free, That all Thy Book might read,

And Justice love, and Truth and Liberty. The Gift was unto Men-the Giver God!

Thou Slave! it stamps thee Man-go spurn thy weary load!


Thou doubly-precious Book!

Unto thy light what doth not Scotland owe?Thou teachest Age to die,

And Youth in Truth unsullied up to grow! In lowly homes a Comforter art thousunbeam sent from God-an Everlasting bow!

O'er thy broad ample page

How many dim and aged eyes have pored ? How many hearts o'er thee

In silence deep and holy have adored? Thy Holy, Blessed, Pure, Child-loving words have read! How many Mothers, by their Infants' bed,

And o'er thee soft young hands

Have oft in truthful plighted Love been join'd, And thou to wedded hearts

Hast been a bond-an altar of the mind!Above all kingly power or kingly law

May Scotland reverence aye-the Bible of the Ha'!

[blocks in formation]

doc. We give it as we heard it from the lips of the dreamer, as nearly as possible in his own words.

As the junior partner in a commercial house at Lyons, I had been travelling for some time on the business of the firm, when one evening, in the month of June, 1761, I arrived at a town in Languedoc, where I had never before been. I put up at a quiet inn in the suburbs, and being very much fatigued, ordered dinner at once, and went to bed almost immediately after, determining to begin very early in the morning my visits to the different merchants.

I was no sooner in bed than I fell into a deep sleep, and had a dream that made the strongest impression upon me.

I thought that I had arrived at the same town, but in the middle of the day instead of the evening, as was really the case-that I had stopped at the very ame inn, and gone out immediately as an unoccupied stranger would do, to see whatever was worthy of observation in the place. I walked down the main street into another street, crossing it at right angles, and apparently leading into the country. I had not gone very far when I came to a church, the Gothic portal of which I stopped to examine. When I had satisfied my curiosity, I advanced to a bye path which branched off from the main street. Obeying an impulse which I conld neither account for nor controul, I struck into this path, though it was winding, rugged, and unfrequented, and presently reached a miserable cottage, in front of which was a garden covered with weeds. I had no difficulty in getting into the garden, for the hedge had several gaps in it wide enough to admit four carts abreast. I approached an old well which stood, solitary and gloomy, in a distant corner, and looking down into it I beheld distinctly, without any possibility of mistake, a corpse which had been stabbed in several places. I counted the deep wounds and the wide gashes whence the blood was flowing.

I would have cried out; but my tongue clove to the roof of my mouth. At this moment I awoke with my hair on end, trembling in every limb, and cold drops of perspiration bedewing my forehead,--awoke to find myself comfortably in bed, my trunk standing beside me; birds warbling cheerfully around the window; whilst a young clear voice was singing a provincial air in the next room, and the morning sun was shining brightly through the curtains.

that science either denies or is unable to explain, but I
must confess that I now felt myself spell-bound as by
some enchantment-and with Pascal's words on my lips
-A continued dream would be equal to reality,' I
hurried forward, no longer doubting that the next mo-
ment would bring me to the cottage, and this really was
the case. In all its outward circumstances it corre-
sponded to what I had seen it in my dream. Who then
could wonder that I determined to ascertain whether the
coincidence would hold good in every other point! I en-
tered the garden and went direct to the spot on which I
had seen the well; but here the resemblance failed-
well there was none. I looked in every direction, exa-
mined the whole garden, went round the cottage, which
appeared to be inhabited, although no person was visi-
ble, but nowhere could I find any vestige of a well.
I made no attempt to enter the cottage, but hastened
back to the hotel in a state of agitation difficult to de-
scribe; I could not make up my mind to pass unnoticed
such extraordinary coincidences-but how was any clue
to be obtained to the terrible mystery?

[ocr errors]

I went to the landlord, and after chatting with him for some time on different subjects, I came to the point and asked him directly to whom the cottage belonged that was on a bye-road which I described to him. 'I wonder, Sir,' said he what made you take such particular notice of such a wretched little hovel. It is inhabited by an old man with his wife, who have the character of being very morose and unsociable. They rarely leave the house, see nobody, and nobody goes to see them; but they are quiet enough, and I never heard anything against them beyond this. Of late, their very existence seems to have been forgotten; and, I believe, Sir, that you are the first who, for years, has turned your steps to the deserted spot.'

These details, far from satisfying my curiosity, did but provoke it the more. Breakfast was served, but I could not touch it, and I felt that if I presented myself to the merchants in such a state of excitement, they would think me mad; and, indeed, I felt very much excited. I paced up and down the room, looked out at the window, trying to fix my attention on some external object; but in vain. I endeavoured to interest_myself in a quarrel between two men in the street-but the garden and the cottage pre-occupied my mind; and at last, snatching my hat, I cried-'I will go, come what may.'

"I repaired to the nearest magistrate, told him the object of my visit, and related the whole circumstance briefly and clearly. I saw directly that he was much impressed by my statement.

[ocr errors]

It is, indeed, very strange,' said he, and after what has happened, I do not think I am at liberty to leave the matter without further inquiry. Important business will prevent my accompanying you in a search, but I will place two of the police at your command. Go once more to the hovel, see its inhabitants, and search every part of it. You may perhaps make some important discovery.'

I sprang from my bed, dressed myself, and as it was yet very early I thought I would seek an appetite for my breakfast by a morning walk. I went accordingly into the street and strolled along. The farther I went the stronger became the confused recollection of the objects that presented themselves to my view. It is very strange,' I thought, I have never been here before, and I could swear that I have seen this house, and the next, and that other on the left.' On I went till I came to the corner of a street crossing the one down which I had come. For the first time I remembered my dream, but put away the thought as too absurd, still at every step I took, some fresh point of resemblance I suffered but a very few moments to elapse before I struck me. Am I still dreaming,' I exclaimed, not was on my way, accompanied by the two officers, and without a momentary thrill through my whole frame. we soon reached the cottage. We knocked, and after 'Is the agreement to be perfect to the very end?' Be- waiting some time an old man opened the door. He refore long I reached the church with the same architec-ceived us somewhat uncivilly, but shewed no mark of tural features that had attracted my notice in the dream, and then the high road, along which I pursued my way, coming at length to the same bye path that had presented itself to my imagination a few hours before-like,' was his reply. there was no possibility of doubt or mistake. Every tree, every turn, was familiar to me. I was not at all of a superstitions turn; and was wholly engrossed in the practical details of commercial business. My mind had never dwelt upon the hallucinations, the presentiments

suspicion, nor, indeed, of any other emotion when we told him we wished to search the house.

'Very well, gentlemen, as fast and as soon as you

'Have you a well here?' I enquired.

'No, Sir; we are obliged to go for water to a spring at a considerable distance.'

We searched the house, which I did, I confess, with a kind of feverish excitement, expecting every moment

« ElőzőTovább »