would step right up again—it would not be much of a fall anyhow—got a glass of beer of a man, another of a woman, and another of two small boys with a pail— fifteen minutes elapsed when I purchased some more of an Indian woman, and imbibed it through a straw; it wasn't good —had to get a glass of beer to take the taste out of my mouth; legs began to tangle up, effects of the spray in my eyes, got hungry and wanted something to eat —went into an eating-house, called for a plate of beans, when the plate brought the waiter in his hand. I took it, hung up my beef and beans on a nail, eat my hat, paid the dollar a nigger, and sided out on the step-walk, bought a boy of a glass of dog with a small beer and a neck on his tail with a collar with a spot on the end—felt funny, sick—got some sodawater in a tin-cup, drank the cup and laced the soda on the counter, and paid or the money full of !...I.". bad headache; rubbed it against the lampost and then stumped along ; stationouse came along .# said if I did not go straight he'd take me to the watchman– tried to oblige the station-house, very civil station-house, very—met a baby with an Irish woman and a wheel-barrow in it; couldn't get out of the way; she wouldn't walk on the side-walk, but insisted on going on both sides of the street at once; tried to walk between her; consequence collision, awful, knocked out the wheelbarrow's nose, broke the Irish woman all to pieces, baby loose, courthouse handy, took me to the constable, jury sat on me, and the jail said the magistrate must take me to the constable; objected; the dungeon put me into the darkest constable in the city; got out, and here I am, prepared to stick to my original opinion. iagara, non est excelsus (ego fui)

humbug est! indignus admirationi! MoRTIMER M. Thompson.

AN ORIGINAL LOVE STORY. He struggled to kiss her. She struggled the Saine To prevent him so bold and undaunted : But, as smitten by lightning, he heard her exclaim, • Avaunt, Sir '' and off he avaunted.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]


It will not do at all to disbelieve in the existence of a personal devil. It is not so many years ago that one of our profoundest divines remarked with indignation upon such disbelief. “No such person?” cried the doctor with energy. “Don’t tell me! I can hear his tail snap and crack about amongst the churches any day!” And if the enemy is, in truth, still as vigorously active among the sons of God as he was in the days of Job (that is to say, in the time of Solomon, when, as the critics have found out, the Book of Job was written), then surely still more is he vigilant and sly in his tricks for foreclosing his mortgages upon the souls of the wicked. And once more: still more than ever is his personal appearance probable in these latter days. }. everlasting tooting of the wordy Cumming has proclaimed the end of all things for a quarter of a century; and he will surely see his prophecy fulfilled if he can only keep it up long enough. But, though we discredit the sapient Second-Adventist as to the precise occasion of the diabolic avatar, has there not been a strange coincidence between his noisy declarations, and other evidence of an approximation of the spiritual to the bodily sphere of life? Is not this same o of a century that of the Spiritists? as it not witnessed the development of Od? And of clairvoyance? And have not the doctrines of ghosts, and re-appearance of the dead, and of messages from them, risen into a prominence entirely new, and into a coherence and semblance at least of fact and fixed law such as was never known before? Yea, verily. Of all times in the world's history, to reject out of one's beliefs either good spirits or bad, angelology or diabology, chief good being, or chief bad being, this is the most improper. Dr. Hicok was trebly liable to the awful temptation, under which he had assuredly fallen, over and above the fact that he was a prig, which makes one feel the more glad that he was so handsomely come up with in the end; such a prig that everybody who knew him, invariably called him (when he wasn't by) Hicok

alorum. This charming surname had been conferred on him by a crazy old fellow with whom he once got into a dispute. Lunatics have the most awfully tricky ways of dodging out of pinches in reasoning; but Hicok knew too much to know that; and so he acquired his fine title to teach him one thing more. Trebly liable, we said. The three reaSons are– 1. He was foreign-born. 2. He was a Scotchman. 3. He was a physician and surgeon. The way in which these causes operated was as follows (I wish it were allowable to use Artemas Ward's curiously satisfactory vocable “thusly:” like Mrs. Winslow's soothing syrup, it “supplies a real want”):— Being foreign-born, Dr. Hicok had not the unfailing moral stamina of a native American, and therefore was comparatively easily beset by sin. Being, secondly, a Scotchman, he was not only thoroughly conceited, with a conceit as immovable as the Bass Rock, just as other folks sometimes are, but, in particular, he was perfectly sure of his utter mastery of metaphysics, logic and dialectics, or, as he used to call it, with a snobbish Teutonicalization, dialektik. Now, in the latter two, the Scotch can do something, but in o!". they are simply imbecile; which quality, in the inscrutable providence of God, has been joined with an equally complete conviction of the exact opposite. Let not man, therefore, put those traits asunder—not so much by reason of any divine ordinance, as because no man in his senses would try to convince a Scotchman—or any body else, for that matter. Thirdly, he was a physician and surgeon; and gentlemen of this profession are prone to become either thoroughgoing materialists, or else implicit and extreme Calvinistic Presbyterians, “ of the large blue kind.” And they are, moreover, positive, hard-headed, bold, and self-confident. So they have good need to be. Did not Majendie say to his students, “Gentlemen, disease is a subject which physicians know nothing about?” So the doctor both believed in the existence of a personal devil, and believed in his own ability to get the upper hand of that individual in a tournament of the wits. Ah, he learned better by terrible experience! The doctor was a dry-looking little chap, with sandy hair, a freckled face, small gray eyes, and absurd white eyebrows and eyelashes, which made him look as if he had finished off his toilet with just alight flourish from the dredgingbox. He was erect of carriage, and of a prompt, ridiculous alertness of o and motion, very much like that of Major Wellington . De Boots. And his face commonly wore a kind of complacent serenity such as the Hindoos ascribe to Buddha. I know a little snappish dentist's goods dealer up town, who might be mistaken for Hicok-alorum any day. Well, well—what had the doctor done? Why—it will sound absurd, probably, to some unbelieving people—but really Dr. Hicok confessed the whole story to me himself: he had made a bargain with the evil one! And indeed he was such an uncommonly disagreeable-looking fellow, that, unless on some such hypothesis, it is impossible to imagine how he could have prospered as he did. He gained patients, and cured them too; made money; invested successfully; bought a brownstone front—a house not a wiglet—then

bought other real estate; began to put.

his name on charity subscription lists, and to be made vice-president of various things. Chiefest of all—it must have been by some superhuman aid that Dr. Hicok married his wife, the then and present Mrs. Hicok. Dear me! I have described the doctor easily enough. But how infinitely more difficult it is to delineate Beauty than the Beast: did you ever think of it? All I can say is, that she is a very lovely woman now; and she must have been, when the doctor married her, one of the loveliest creatures that ever lived—a lively, o bright-eyed brunette, with thick ne long black hair, pencilled delicate eyebrows, little pink ears, thin high nose, great astonished brown eyes, perfect teeth, a little rosebud of a mouth, and a figure so extremely beautiful that nobody believed she did not pad; hardly even the artists who—those of them at least who work faithfully in the life-school—are the very best judges extant of truth in costume and personal beauty. But, furthermore, she was good, with the innocent unconscious goodness of a sweet little child; and of all feminine charms—even beyond her supreme grace of motion—

she possessed the sweetest, the most resistless—a lovely voice; whose tones, whether in speech or song, were perfect in sweetness, and with a strange penetrating o: quality, and at the same time with the most wonderful half-delaying completeness of articulation and modulation, as if she enjoyed the sound of her own music. No doubt she did; but it was unconsciously, like a bird. The voice was so sweet, the great loveliness and kindness of soul it expressed were so deep that, like every exquisite beauty, it rayed forth a certain sadness within the pleasure it gave. It awakened infinite, indistinct emotions of beauty and perfection— infinite longings. It's of no use to tell me that such a spirit—she really ought not to be noted so low down as amongst human beings— that such a spirit could have been made lad , by becoming the yoke-fellow of icok-alorum, by influences exclusively human. No!—I don't believe it—I won’t believe it—it can't be believed. I can’t convince you, of course, for you don’t know her; but if you did, along with the rest of the evidence, and if your knowledge was like mine—that from the testimony of mine own eyes and ears and judgment—you would know just as I do, that the doctor's possession of his wife was the keystone of the arch of completed proof on which I found my absolute assertion that he had made that bargain. He certainly had ' A most characteristic transaction too; for while, after the usual fashion, it was agreed by the “party of the first part”—viz., Old Scratch— that Dr. Hicok should succeed in whatever he undertook during twenty years, and by the party of the second part, that at the end of that time the D–should fetch him in manner and form as is ordi. provided, yet there was added a peculiar clause. This was, that, when the time came for the doctor to depart, he should be left entirely whole and unharmed, in mind, body, and estate, provided he could put to the Devil three consecutive questions, of which either one should be such that that cunning spirit could not solve it on the spot. So for twenty years Dr. Hicok lived and prospered, and waxed very great. He did not gain one single pound avoirdupois, however, which may perchance seem strange, but is the most naturai thing in the world. Who ever saw a little, dry, wiry, sandy freckled man, with white eyebrows, that did grow fat? And, besides, the doctor spent all his leisure time in hunting up his saving trinity of questions; and hard study, above all for such a purpose, is as sure an antifattener as Banting. He knew the Scotch metaphysicians by heart already, ex-officio as it were; but he very early gave up the idea of trying to fool the Devil o such mud-pie as that. Yet be it understood, that he found cause to except Sir William Hamilton from the muddle-headed crew. He chewed a good while, and pretty hopefully, upon the Quantification of the Predicate; but he had to give that up too, when he found out how small and how dry a meat rattled within the big, noisy nut-shell. He read Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Peter Dens, and a cartload more of old casuists, Romanist and Protestant. He exhausted the learning of the Development Theory. He studied and exP. up to the existing limits of nowledge on the question of the Origin of life, and then poked out alone, as much farther as he could, into the ineffable black darkness that is close at the end of our noses on that, as well as most other questions. He hammered his way through the whole controversy on the Freedom of the Will. He mastered the whole works of Mr. Henry C. Carey on one side, and of two hundred and fifty English capitalists and American college F. on the other, on the question of rotection or Free Trade. e made, with vast pains, an extensive collection of the questions proposed at debating societies and college-students' societies with long Greek names. The last effort was a failure. Dr. Hicok had got the idea, that, from the spontaneous activity of so many free young geniuses, many wondrous and suggestive thoughts would be born. Having however, tabulated his collection, he found, that, among all these innumerable gymnasia of intellect, there were only seventeen questions debated! The doctor read me a curious little memorandum of his conclusions on this unexpected fact, which will perhaps be printed some day. He investigated many other things too; for a sharp-witted little Presbyterian Scotch doctor, working to cheat the Devil

out of his soul, can accomplish an amazing deal in twenty years. He even went so far as to take into consideration mere humbugs; for, if he could cheat the enemy with a humbug, why not? The only pain in that case, would be the mortification of having stooped to an inadequate adversary—a foeman unworthy of his steel. So he weighed such queries as the scholastic }...; An chimaera bombinans in vacuo, devorat secundas intentiones? and that beautiful moot point wherewith Sir Thomas More silenced the challenging schoolmen of Bruges, An averia carrucae capta in vetitonamio sint irreplegibilia? #. glanced a little at the subject of conundrums; and among the chips from his workshop is a really clever theory of conundrums. He has a classification and discussion of them, all his own, and quite ingenious and satisfactory, which divides them into answerable, and unanswerable, and under each of these, into resemblant and differential. For instance: let the four classes be distinguished with the initials of these four terms A. R., A. D., U. R., and U. D.; you will find that the Infinite Possible Conundrum (so to speak) can always be reduced under one of those four heads. Using symbols, as they do in discussing o by the way, a conunrum is only a jocular variation in the syllogism, an intentional fallacy for fun (read Whately's Logic, Book III., and see if it isn't so)—using symbols, I say, you have these four “figures: ”— I. (A. R.) Why is A like B? (answerable): as, Why is a gentleman, who gives a young lady a young dog, like a person who rides o up hill? A. Because he gives a gallop up (gal-a-pup). Sub-variety; depending upon violation of something like the “principle of excluded middle,” a very fallacy of a fallacy; such as the ancient “nigger-minstrel ” case, Why is an elephant like a brick? A. Because neither of them can climb a tree. II. (A. D.) Why is A unlike B? (answerable) usually put thus: What is the difference between A and B? (Figure I., if worded in the same style, would become, “What is the similarity between A and B?”); as, What is the difference between the old United States Bank and the Fulton Ferryboat signals in thick weather? A. One is a fog whistle and the other is a Whig “fossil.”

III. (U. R.) Why is A like B? (unanswerable): as Charles Lamb's well-known question, Is that your own hare or a wig?

IV. (U. D.) § is A unlike B? (unanswerable) i. e., What is the difference, &c., as, What is the difference between a fac-simile and a sick family; or between hydraulics and raw-hide licks?

But let me not . too far into frivolity. All the hopefully difficult questions, Dr. Hicok set down and classified. He compiled a set of rules on the subject, and, indeed, developed the whole philosophy of it by which he struck off, as sol§ questions or classes of them. Some he thought out himself; others were now and then answered in some learned book, that led the way through the very heart of one or another of his biggest mill Stones.

So it was really none too much time that he had ; and, in truth, he did not actually decide upon his three questions, until just a week before the fearful day when he was to put them.

It came at last, as every day of reckoning surely comes; and Dr. Hicok, memorandum in hand, sat in his comfortable library about three o'clock on one beautiful warm summer afternoon, as

ale as a sheet, his heart thumping away

ike Mr. Krupp's biggest steam-hammer at Essen, his mouth and tongue parched and feverish, a pitcher of cold water at hand from which he sipped and sipped, though it seemed as if his throat repelled it “into the globular state,” or dispersed in into steam, as red-hot iron does. Around him were the records of the vast army of doubters and quibblers in whose works he had been hunting, as a traveller labors through a jungle, for the deepest doubts, the most remote inquiries.

Sometimes, with that sort of hardihood, rather than reason, which makes a desperate man try to believe by his will what he longs to know to be true, Dr. Hicok would say to himself, “I know I've got him l’” And then his heart would seem to fall out of him, it sank so suddenly, and with so deadly a faintness, as the other side of his awful case loomed before him, and he thought, “But if—?” He would not finish in question: he could not. . The furthest point to which he could bring himself was, that of a sort of icy outer stiffening of acquiescence in the inevitable.

[merged small][ocr errors]

“Show the gentleman in,” said the doctor. He spoke with difficulty; for the effort to control his own nervous excitement was so immense an exertion, that he hardly had the self-command and muscular energy even to articulate. The servant returned, and ushered into the library a handsome, youngish, middleaged and middle-sized ". pale, with large melancholy black eyes, and dressed in the most perfect and quiet style. The doctor arose, and greeted his visitor with a degree of steadiness and politeness that did him the greatest credit. “How do you do, sir?” he said: “I am happy”—but it struck him that he wasn’t, and he stopped short. “Very right, my dear sir,” replied the guest, in a voice that was musical but poeptibly sad, or rather patient in tone. “Very right; how hollow those formulas are I hate all forms and ceremonies But I am glad to see you, doctor. Now, that is really the fact.” No doubt “ Divil doubt him l’’ as an Irishman would say. So is a cat glad to see a mouse in its paw. Something like these thoughts arose in the doctor's mind; he smiled as affably as he could, and requested the visitor to be seated. “Thanks!” replied he, and took the chair which the doctor moved up to the table for him. He placed his hat and gloves on the table. There was a brief pause, as might happen if two friends sat at their ease for a chat on matters and things in general. The visitor turned §: a volume or two that lay on the tae. “The Devil,” he read from one of them; “His Origin, Greatness, Decadence. By the Rev. A. Reville, D. D.” “Ah!” he commented quietly. “A Frenchman, I observe. If it had ion an Englishman, I should fancy he wrote the

« ElőzőTovább »