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A STRANGE STORY.

BY THE AUTHOR OF "MY NOVEL," "RIENZI," &c.

CHAPTER, XXXIX.

THE Manuscript was written in a small and
peculiar handwriting, which, though evidently
by the same person whose letter to Strahan I had
read, was, whether from haste or some imperfection
in the ink, much more hard to decipher.
Those parts of the Memoir which related to
experiments, or alleged secrets in Nature, that
the writer intimated a desire to submit
exclusively to scholars or men of science, were
in Latinand Latin which, though grammatically
correct, was frequently obscure. But all that
detained the eye and attention on the page,
necessarily served to impress the contents more
deeply on remembrance.

The narrative commenced with the writer's
sketch of his childhood. Both his parents had
died before he attained his seventh year. The
orphan had been sent by his guardians to a
private school, and his holidays had been passed
at Derval Court. Here, his earliest reminiscences
were those of the quaint old room, in which I
now sat, and of his childish wonder at the
inscription on the chimney-piecewho and what
was the Simon Forman who had there found a
refuge from persecution? Of what nature were
the studies he had cultivated, and the discoveries
he boasted to have made?

When he was about sixteen, Philip Derval had
begun to read the many mystic books which the
library contained; but without other result on
his mind than the sentiment of disappointment
and disgust. The impressions produced on the
credulous imagination of childhood vanished.
He went to the university; was sent abroad to
travel: and on his return took that place in the
circles of London which is so readily conceded to
a young idler of birth and fortune. He passed
quickly over that period of his life, as one of
extravagance and dissipation, from which he was
first drawn by the attachment for his cousin to
which his letter to Strahan referred. Disappointed
in the hopes which that affection had
conceived, and his fortune impaired, partly by
some years of reckless profusion, and partly by
the pecuniary sacrifices at which he had effected
his cousin's marriage with another, he retired
to Derval Court, to live there in solitude and
seclusion. On searching for some old title-deeds
required for a mortgage, he chanced upon a
collection of manuscripts much discoloured and, in
part, eaten away by mother damp. These, on
examination, proved to be the writings of Forman.
Some of them were astrological observations and
predictions; some were upon the nature of the
Cabala; some upon the invocation of spirits and
the magic of the dark ages. All had a certain
interest, for they were interspersed with personal
remarks, anecdotes of eminent actors in a very
stirring time, and were composed as Colloquies, in
imitation of Erasmus; the second person in the
dialogue being Sir Miles Derval, the patron and
pupil; the first person being Forman, the
philosopher and expounder.

But along with these shadowy lucubrations were
treatises of a more uncommon and a more startling
character; discussions on various occult laws of
nature, and detailed accounts of analytical
experiments. These opened a new, and what seemed
to Sir Philip a practical, field of inquirya true
border land between natural science and
imaginative speculation. Sir Philip had cultivated
philosophical science at the university; he
resumed the study, and tested himself the truth of
various experiments suggested by Forman. Some,
to his surprise, proved successfulsome wholly
failed. These lucubrations first tempted the
writer of the memoir towards the studies in
which the remainder of his life had been
consumed. But he spoke of the lucubrations
themselves as valuable only where suggestive
of some truths which Forman had accidentally
approached, without being aware of their true
nature and importance. They were debased
by absurd puerilities, and vitiated by the vain
and presumptuous ignorance which
characterised the astrology of the middle ages. For
these reasons the writer intimated his intention
(if he lived to return to England) to destroy
Forman's manuscripts, together with sundry
other books, and a few commentaries of his
own upon studies which had for a while misled
himall now deposited in the safes of the room
in which I sat.

After some years passed in the retirement of
Derval Court, Sir Philip was seized with the desire
to travel, and the taste he had imbibed for occult
studies led him towards those Eastern lands in

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