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secured with as many fastenings of iron. twelve thousand seats of gold, where the A funereal gloom prevailed over the patriarchs and the prophets heard my whole scene. Here, upon two beds of doctrines; on my left the sages and docincorruptible cedar, lay recumbent the tors, upon as many thrones of silver, were fleshless forms of the pre-adamite kings, present at all my decisions. Whilst I who had been monarchs of the whole thus administered justice to innumerable earth. They still possessed enough of multitudes, the birds of the air, hovering life to be conscious of their deplorable over me, served as a canopy against the condition. Their eyes retained a melan- rays of the sun. My people flourished, choly motion; they regarded one another and my palace rose to the clouds. I with looks of the deepest dejection, each erected a temple to the Most High, holding his right hand motionless on his which was the wonder of the universe; heart. At their feet were inscribed the but I basely suffered myself to be seduced events of their several reigns, their power, by the love of women, and a curiosity their pride, and their crimes ; Soliman that could not be restrained by sublunary Daki, and Soliman, called Gian Ben things. I listened to the counsels of Gian, who, after having chained up the Aherman, and the daughter of Pharaoh ; dives in the dark caverns of Kaf, became so and adored fire, and the hosts of heaven. presumptuous as to doubt of the Supreme I forsook the holy city, and commanded Power. All these maintained great state, the genii to rear the stupendous palace of though not to be compared with the Istakar, and the terrace of the watcheminence of Soliman Ben Daoud.
towers, each of which was consecrated to This king, so renowned for his wisdom, a star. There for awhile I enjoyed mywas on the loftiest elevation, and placed self in the zenith of glory and pleasure. immediately under the dome. He ap- Not only men, but supernatural beings peared to possess more animation than were subject also to my will. began to the rest. Though, from time to time, he think, as these unhappy monarchs around laboured with profound sighs, and, like had already thought, that the vengeance his companions, kept his right hand on of heaven was asleep, when at his heart, yet his countenance was more the thunder burst my structures asunder, composed, and he seemed to be listening and precipitated me hither, where, howto the sullen roar of a cataract, visible in ever, I do not remain, like the other inpart through one of the grated portals. habitants totally destitute of hope ; for This was the only sound that intruded an angel of light hath revealed that, in on the silence of these doleful mansions. consideration of the piety of my early A range of brazen vases surrounded the youth, my woes shall come to an end elevation. " Remove the covers from when this cataract shall for ever cease to these cabalistic repositories," said the flow. Till then, I am in torments-inGiaour to Vathek, and avail thyself of effable torments ! an unrelenting fire the talismans which will break asunder preys on my heart." all these gates of bronze, and not only Having uttered this exclamation, Solirender thee master of the treasures con- man raised his hands towards Heaven in tained within them, but also of the spirits token of supplication; and the caliph by which they are guarded.”
discerned through his bosom, which was The caliph, whom this ominous pre- transparent as crystal, his heart enveloped liminary had entirely disconcerted, ap- in flames. At a sight so full of horror, proached the vases with faltering foot. Nouronihar fell back, like one petrified, steps, and was ready to sink with terror into the arms of Vathek, who cried out, when he heard the groans of Soliman. with a convulsive sob: “O Giaour! As he proceeded, a voice from the livid whither hast thou brought us ! Allow lips of the prophet articulated these us to depart, and I will relinquish all words : “In my lifetime, I filled a mag- thou hast promised. O Mohammed ! nificent throne, having on my right hand remains there no more mercy!” None
none!” replied the malicious dive. not conjecture ; but possibly he was on “Know, miserable prince ! thou art now his road to a sea-port, about forty miles in the abode of vengeance and despair. distant. The servant who opened the Thy heart, also, will be kindled like door to him was a young girl born and those of the other votaries of Eblis. A bred among the mountains, who had few days are allotted thee previous to this never seen an Asiatic dress of any sort : fatal period; employ them as thou wilt ; his turban, therefore, confounded her not recline on these heaps of gold ; command a little ; and, as it turned out that his the infernal potentates; range at thy attainments in English were exactly of pleasure through these immense subterra- the same extent as hers in the Malay, nean domains, no barrier shall be shut there seemed to be an impassable gulf against thee.
As for me, I have fulfilled fixed between all communication of ideas, my mission; I now leave thee to thyself.” if either party had happened to possess At these words he vanished.
any. In this dilemma, the girl recollectThe caliph and Nouronihar remained ing the reputed learning of her master in the most abject affliction. Their tears (and, doubtless, giving me credit for a were unable to flow, and scarcely could knowledge of all the languages of the they support themselves. At length, earth, besides, perhaps, a few of the lunar taking each other despondingly by the ones), came and gave me to understand hand, they went falteringly from this fatal that there was a sort of demon below, hall, indifferent which way they turned whom she clearly imagined that my art their steps. Every portal opened at their could exorcise from the house. I did not approach. The dives fell prostrate be- immediately go down; but when I did, fore them. Every reservoir of riches was the group which presented itself, arranged disclosed to their view, but they no longer as it was by accident, though not very elafelt the incentives of curiosity, of pride, or borate, took hold of my fancy and my eye avarice. With like apathy they heard in a way that none of the statuesque attithe chorus of genii, and saw the stately tudes exhibited in the ballets at the operabanquets prepared to regale them. They house, though so ostentatiously complex, went wandering on, from chamber to had ever done. In a cottage kitchen, but chamber, hall to hall, and gallery to gal- panelled on the wall with dark wood that lery, all without bounds or limit : all dis- from age and rubbing resembled oak, and tinguishable by the same lowering gloom, looking more like a rustic hall of entrance all adorned with the same awful grandeur, than a kitchen, stood the Malay-his all traversed by persons in search of re- turban and loose trowsers of dingy white pose and consolation, but who sought relieved upon the dark panelling: he had them in vain ; for every one carried placed himself nearer to the girl than she within him a heart tormented in flames. seemed to relish, though her native spirit Shunned by these various sufferers, who of mountain intrepidity contended with seemed by their looks to be upbraiding the feelings of simple awe which her coun. the partners of their guilt, they withdrew tenance expressed as she gazed upon the from them to wait, in direful suspense, tiger-cat before her. And a more strikthe moment which should render them to ing picture there could not be imagined each other the like objects of terror.- than the beautiful English face of the girl, Vathek.
and its exquisite fairness, together with her erect and independent attitude, con
trasted with the sallow and bilious skin [THOMAS DE QUINCEY. 1785—1859.] of the Malay, enamelled or veneered with INTERVIEW WITH A MALAY.
mahogany by marine air ; his small,
fierce, restless eyes, thin lips, slavish ONE day a Malay knocked at my door. gestures and adorations. Half hidden What business a Malay could have to by the ferocious-looking Malay was a transact among English mountains, I can- I little child from a neighbouring cottage, who had crept in after him, and was now convinced that he was used to opium, in the act of reverting its head and gazing and that I must have done him the serupwards at the turban and the fiery eyes vice I designed, by giving him one night beneath it, whilst with one hand he of respite from the pains of wandering.
caught at the dress of the young woman The English Opium Eater. for protection. My knowledge of the Oriental tongues is not remarkably extensive, being, indeed, confined to two
ORIENTAL DREAMS. words—the Arabic word for barley and the Turkish for opium (madjoon), which The Malay has been a fearful enemy I have learnt from Anastasius. And as for months. Every night, through his I had neither a Malay dictionary nor even means, I have been transported into Adelung's Mithridates, which might have Asiatic scenery. I know not whether helped me to a few words, I addressed others share in my feelings on this point ; him in some lines from the Iliad, con- but I have often thought that if I were sidering that, of such languages as I pos- compelled to forego England, and to live sessed, Greek, in point of longitude, came in China among Chinese manners and geographically nearest to an Oriental one. modes of life and scenery, I should He worshipped me in a most devout go mad. The causes of my horror lie manner, and replied in what I suppose deep, and some of them must be common was Malay. In this way I saved my to others. Southern Asia, in general, is reputation with my neighbours, for the the seat of awful images and associaMalay had no means of betraying the tions. As the cradle of the human race, secret. He lay down upon the floor for if on no other ground, it would have a about an hour, and then pursued his dim, reverential feeling connected with journey. On his departure, I presented it. But there are other reasons. No him with a piece of opium. To him, as man can pretend that the wild, barbar. an Orientalist, I concluded that opium ous, and capricious superstitions of must be familiar; and the expression of Africa, or of savage tribes elsewhere, his face convinced me that it was. Never- affect him in the way that he is affected theless I was struck with some little con- by the ancient, monumental, cruel, and sternation when I saw him suddenly raise elaborate religions of Hindostan. The his hand to his mouth, and (in the school. mere antiquity of Asiatic things, of boy phrase) bolt the whole, divided into their institutions, histories-above all, three pieces, at one mouthful. The of their mythologies, &c.—is so impres. quantity was enough to kill three dra- sive, that to me the vast age of the race goons and their horses, and I felt some and name overpowers the sense of youth alarm for the poor creature ; but what in the individual. could be done? I had given him the A young Chinese seems to me an anteopium in compassion for his solitary life, diluvian man renewed. Even Englishon recollecting that, if he had travelled men, though not bred in any knowledge on foot from London, it must be nearly of such institutions, cannot but shudder three weeks since he could have ex- at the mystic sublimity of castes that have changed a thought with any human being. flowed apart, and refused to mix, through I could not think of violating the laws of some immemorial tracts of time; nor can hospitality by having him surged and any man fail to be awed by the sanctity drenched with an emetic, and thus of the Ganges, or by the very name of the frightening him into a notion that we Euphrates. were going to sacrifice him to some Eng- It contributes much to these feelings, lish idol. No, there was clearly no help that South-Eastern Asia is, and has been for it; he took his leave, and for some for thousands of years, the part of the days I felt anxious; but as I never heard earth most swarming with human life, the of any Malay being found dead, I became great officina gentium. Man is a weed in
those regions. The vast empires, also, Sooner or later came a reflux of feeling into which the enormous population of that swallowed up the astonishment, and Asia has always been cast, give a further left me, not so much in terror, as in sublimity to the feelings associated with hatred and abomination of what I saw. all oriental names or images. In China, Over every form, and threat, and punishover and above what it has in common ment, and dim sightless incarceration, with the rest of Southern Asia, I am ter- brooded a killing sense of eternity and rified by the modes of life, by the man- infinity. Into these dreams only it was, ners, by the barrier of utter abhorrence with one or two slight exceptions, that placed between myself and them, by any circumstances of physical horror counter-sympathies deeper than I can entered. All before had been moral and analyse. I could sooner live with luna- spiritual terrors. But here the main tics, with vermin, with crocodiles or agents were ugly birds, or snakes, or snakes.
crocodiles, especially the last. The All this, and much more than I can cursed crocodile became to me the object say, the reader must enter into, before he of more horrorthan all the rest. I was comcan comprehend the unimaginable horror pelled to live with him, and (as was always which these dreams of oriental imagery the case in my dreams) for centuries. and mythological tortures impressed upon Sometimes I escaped, and found myself in
Under the connecting feeling of Chinese houses. All the feet of the tables, tropical heat and vertical sunlights, Isofas, &c., soon became instinct with life : brought together all creatures, birds, the abominable head of the crocodile, and beasts, reptiles, all trees and plants, his leering eyes, looked out at me, multiusages and appearances, that are found plied into ten thousand repetitions; and in all tropical regions, and assembled them I stood loathing and fascinated. together in China or Hindostan.
osten did this hideous reptile haunt my From kindred feelings, I soon brought dreams, that many times the very same Egypt and her gods under the same law. dream was broken up in the very same I was stared at, hooted at, grinned at, way. I heard gentle voices speaking to chattered at, by monkeys, by paroquets, me (I hear everything when I am sleepby cockatoos. I ran into pagodas, and ing), and instantly I awoke; it was broad was fixed for centuries at the summit, or noon, and my children were standing, in secret rooms. I was the idol ; I was hand in hand, at my bedside, come to the priest ; I was worshipped ; I was show me their coloured shoes, or new sacrificed. I fled from the wrath of frocks, or to let me see them dressed for Brama through all the forests of Asia. going out. No experience was so awful Vishnu hated me; Seeva lay in wait for to me, and at the same time so pathetic,
I came suddenly upon Isis and as this abrupt translation from the darkOsiris. I had done a deed, they said, ness of the infinite to the gaudy summer which the ibis and the crocodile trembled air of highest noon, and from the un
Thousands of years I lived and was utterable abortions of miscreated gigantic buried in stone coffins, with mummies vermin to the sight of infancy and innoand sphinxes, in narrow chambers at the cent human natures.-Ibid. heart of eternal pyramids. I was kissed, with cancerous kisses, by crocodiles, and was laid, confounded with all unutterable abortions, amongst reeds and Nilotic
[John Galt. 1779-1839.] mud.
THE RISING OF THE WATERS. Some slight abstraction I thus attempt of my oriental dreams, which filled me ABOUT daybreak it began to rain, and always with such amazement at the mon- continued to pour with increasing violence strous scenery, that horror seemed ab- all the morning; no one thought of stirsorbed for a while in sheer astonishment. ring abroad who could keep within shelter.
My boys and I had for task only to keep us for a home until our house was comthe fire at the door of the shanty brisk fortably furnished. and blazing, and to notice that the pools About three o'clock the skies were which began to form around us did not dreadfully darkened and overcast. I had become too large; for sometimes, besides never seen such darkness while the sun the accumulation of the rain, little streams was above the horizon, and still the rain would suddenly break out, and, rushing continued to descend in cataracts, but at towards us, would have extinguished our fits and intervals. No man, who had fire, had we not been vigilant.
not seen the like, would credit the de. The site I had chosen for the shanty scription. was near to a little brook, on the top of Suddenly a sharp flash of lightning, the main river's bank. In fine weather, followed by an instantaneous thunderno situation could be more beautiful; the peal, lightened up all the forest ; and brook was clear as crystal, and fell in a almost in the same moment the rain small cascade into the river, which, broad came lavishing along as if the windows and deep, rau beneath the bank with a of heaven were opened; anon another swift but smooth current.
flash, and a louder peal burst upon us, The forest up the river had not been as if the whole forest was rending over explored above a mile or two : all beyond and around us. was the unknown wilderness. Some vague I drew my helpless and poor trembling rumours of small lakes and beaver dams little boys under the skirts of my great were circulated in the village, but no coat. importance was attached to the informa- Then there was another frantic flash tion : save but for the occasional little and the roar of the thunder was aug. torrents with which the rain sometimes mented by the riven trees that fell, hastily threatened to extinguish our cloven on all sides in a whirlwind of fires, we had no cause to dread inunda- splinters. But though the lightning was tion.
more terrible than scimitars, and the The rain still continued to fall inces- thunder roared as if the vaults of heaven santly: the pools it formed in the hollows were shaken to pieces and tumbling in, of the ground began, towards noon, to the irresistible rain was still more appalloverflow their banks, and to become ing than either. I have said it was as if united. By and by something like a the windows of heaven were opened. slight current was observed passing from About sunset, the ground floods were as one to another; but, thinking only of if the fountains of the great deep were preserving our fire, we no farther noticed breaking up. this than by occasionally running out of I pressed my shivering children to my the shanty into the shower, and scraping bosom, but I could not speak. At the a channel to let the water run off into common shanty, where there had been the brook or the river.
for some time an affectation of mirth It was hoped that about noon the rain and ribaldry, there was now silence : at would slacken; but this we were dis- last, as if with one accord, all the inhaappointed. It continued to increase, and bitants rushed from below their miserable the ground began to be so flooded, while shed, tore it into pieces, and ran with the brook swelled to a river, that we the fragments to a higher ground, crying thought it might become necessary to wildly, “ The river is rising ! shift our tent to a higher part of the I had seen it swelling for some time, bank. To do this we were, however, but our shanty stood so far above the reluctant, for it was impossible to en- stream, that I had no fear it would reach counter the deluge without being almost us. Scarcely, however, had the axemen instantly soaked to the skin; and we had escaped from theirs, and planted themput the shanty up with more care and selves on the crown of a rising ground pains than usual, intending it should serve nearer to us, where they were hastily