+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

vigour; affairs approached a crisis. The gentleman
on guard at the door, and whose relations
to the punch are indistinct, as also the gentleman
who was wholly unaffected by that beverage,
narrowly watched for what was to follow. The
other gentlemen, having become "electrified
with amazement or petrified with horror," could
not offer reliable testimony.

Suddenly the door was burst open. Whether
the gentleman unaffected by punch was leaning
against it, or was behind it, or was near it, are
particulars left in uncertainty. But, if there were
amazed electricity and petrified horror before,
how must these curious sensations have been
intensified when something that resembled a huge
black ball came bounding or tossing along the
floor into the room! Those whose faculties were
sufficiently collected to observe it closely,
described it as a sort of cloud of smoke rolling
along, in the centre of which could be made out
the alarming appearance of a human face,
resembling that of the defunct Chevalier de
Saxe. The situation was fearful, and the
combination of horror, electricity, petrifaction,
confusion, and hocussed punch, was enough to
strike terror into the boldest heart. As the
spectators were standing aghast and watching the
smoke's manœuvres, a voice was heard to issue
from it, and exclaim, "Charles, what wouldst
thou with me? Why dost thou disturb me?"

The narrator of the scene is surprised that no
one had courage to draw near the globe or ball;
and, by handling, satisfy himself of its claims to
spirituality. But, in respect of people electrified
with amazement, petrified with horror, and
also drugged, this does seem rather an
unreasonable expectation. The prince was the
most seriously affected of all. He flung himself
on his knees, in a paroxysm of abject terror,
and called on Heaven to forgive his profanity:
while the rest of the party, gathering round the
magician, distractedly conjured him to exert one
more stretch of his wonderful power, and
dismiss the horrible spherical intruder. The cunning
operator pretended that this was an office of yet
greater labour and difficulty, and went through
herculean spasms in his efforts. Nearly an
hour was consumed in this struggle. Finally,
by an enormous series of spasms, it was at last
prevailed on to retire. The spectators, much
relieved, were congratulating themselves on its
disappearance, when the door once more burst
open, and the odious sphere came bounding in
again, all smoke and light, with the illuminated
Saxe face in the centre. After another
series of persuasions, it was at last finally got
rid of, and those who assisted at the curious
performance departed in as much peace as they
could recover.

This scene is worthy of all serious reflection,
but is scarcely so remarkable as some feats
which have distinguished modern séances. It
is perhaps a more unusual circumstance to see
a human figure floating in air, than to see a
fiery ball bursting into a room. The solution of
the travelling baronetwith whom it is to the
last a mystery why no one "endeavoured to lay
hands on the spectre"—is: " We must be content
to resolve it into German credulity or
superstition, and congratulate ourselves on our
superiority to such puerile terrors."

The affair itself soon got abroad through the
city, and was promptly conveyed to the Elector's
ears as a choice morsel of royal gossip. He
took it up with much displeasure, as it cast
a sort of haunted-house flavour around the
palace, and peremptorily forbade the repetition
of such follies.

His successful stroke of his art, by a cruel
perversion of ends, became the poor magician's
ruin; for, from a too great celebrity, he had to
retire back to his own native Leipzig, where it
is said he founded a regular school of magic,
took pupils, and instructed them in his mysteries.
In that city he performed many more extraordinary
feats, much of the same description, and
was held in high repute. Yet, strange to relate,
this happy career terminated not quite gloriously.

He had three promising scholars, whose
appetite, whetted by what they had learnt, was
eager for more recondite mysteries. These
their master promised to show. A day was
selected for the purpose; and, between three
and four in the morning, they attended him
out to a lonely wood called Roxendaal, some
way beyond the gates. At this appropriate
spot, they were to learn all that they were to
learn. He then retired into a secret part of the
grove to perform his private incantations, desiring
them to wait for him. In a few moments
they were startled by the report of a pistol, and,
running to the spot, found the wretched
conjuror stretched out in the agonies of death. It
was said that he had had struggles with evil
spirits, and that his life was made miserable by
their persecution. Possibly he was more or less
insane, and that, being brought to the last verge
of exposure, he avoided it by his last resource.
This was the end of the miserable burlesque.


[Hylas, one of the companions of Jason in the
Argonautic expedition, was carried away by the
nymphs as he was drawing water.]

HYLAS, Hylas comes,
Down the vine-clad mountain,
Water pure to bring,
From the distant fountain.
Hylas, Hylas leaps,
O'er the mossy boulder,
With smiling, boyish face,
His vase upon his shoulder.

Hylas, Hylas stays,
To linger in the valleys,
Then to hear the birds,
Near the wood he dallies.
"Hylas, Hylas," call
The echoes from the mountain,
As he trips and sings,
Hastening to the fountain.

Hylas, Hylas runs,
Happy as the swallow