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To dic, and leave behind me this train of enormous perils, must not be. O Clemenza! O Mervyn ! you have not merited that I should leave you a legacy of persecution and death. Your safety must be purchased at what price my malignant destiny will set upon it. The cord of the executioner, the note of everlasting infamy, is better than to leave you beset by the consequences of my guilt. It must not be !"

Saying this, Welbeck cast fearful glances at the windows and door. He examined every avenue and listened. Thrice he repeated this scrutiny. Having, as it seemed, ascertained that no one lurked within audience, he approached the bed. He put his mouth close to my face. He attempted to speak, but once more examined the apartment with suspicious glances. He drew closer, and at length, in a tone scarcely articulate and suffocated with emotion, he spoke: "Excellent, but fatally obstinate youth! know at least the cause of my importunity; know at least the depth of my infatuation and the enormity of my guilt. The billssurrender them to me, and save yourself from persecution and disgrace! Save the woman whom you wish to benefit from the blackest imputations; from hazard to her life and her fame; from languishing in dungeons; from expiring on the gallows! The bills-O save me from the bitterness of death! Let the evils to which my miserable life has given birth terminate here and in myself. Surrender them to me, for"

There he stopped. His utterance was choked by terror. Rapid glances were again darted at the windows and door. The silence was uninterrupted except by far-off sounds, produced by some moving carriage. Once more he summoned resolution and spoke: "Surrender them to me-forthey are forged. Formerly I told you that a scheme of forgery had been conceived. Shame would not suffer me to add, that my scheme was carried into execution. The bills were fashioned, but my fears contended against my necessities, and forbade me to attempt to exchange them. The interview with Lodi saved me from the dangerous experiment. I enclosed them in that volume to be used when all other and less hazardous resources should fail. In the agonies of my remorse at the death of Watson, they were forgotten. They afterward recurred to recollection. My wishes pointed to the grave; but the stroke that should deliver me from life was suspended only till I could hasten hither, get possession of these papers and destroy them. When I thought upon the chances that should give them an owner; bring them into circulation; load the innocent with suspicion; and lead them to trial and perhaps to death, my sensations were agony; earnestly as I panted for death, it was necessarily deferred till I had gained possession of and destroyed these pa pers. What now remains? You have found them. Happily they have not been used. Give them therefore to me, that I may crush at once the brood of mischiefs which they could not but generate."

This disclosure was strange. It was accom

panied with every token of sincerity. How had I tottered on the brink of destruction! If I had made use of this money, in what a labyrinth of misery might I not have been involved! My innocence could never have been proved. An alliance with Welbeck could not have failed to be inferred. My career would have found an ignominious close; or, if my punishment had been commuted into slavery, would the testimony of my conscience have supported me? I shuddered at the view of the disasters from which I was rescued by the miraculous chance which led me to this house. Welbeck's request was salutary to me and honourable to himself. I could not hesitate a moment in compliance. The notes were enclosed in paper, and deposited in a fold of my clothes. I put my hand upon them. My motion and attention was arrested at the instant, by a noise which arose in the street. Footsteps were heard upon the pavement before the door, and voices, as if busy in discourse. This incident was adapted to infuse the deepest alarm into myself and my companion. The motives of our trepidation were indeed different, and were infinitely more powerful in my case than in his. It portended to me nothing less than the loss of my asylum and condemnation to an hospital. Welbeck hurried to the door to listen to the conversation below. This interval was pregnant with thought. That impulse which led my reflections from Welbeck to my own state, passed away in a moment, and suffered me to meditate anew upon the terms of that confession which had just been made. Horror at the fate which this interview had enabled me to shun, was uppermost in my conceptions. I was eager to surrender these fatal bills. I held them for that purpose in my hand, and was impatient for Welbeck's return. He continued at the door; stooping, with his face averted, and eagerly attentive to the conversation in the street. All the circumstances of my present situation tended to arrest the progress of thought and chain my contemplations to one image; but even now there was room for foresight and deliberation. Welbeck intended to destroy these bills. Perhaps he had not been sincere; or, if his purpose had been honestly disclosed, this purpose might change when the bills were in his possession. His poverty and sanguineness of temper might prompt him to use them. That this conduct was evil and would only multiply his miseries, could not be questioned. Why should I subject his frailty to this temptation? The destruction of these bills was the loudest injunction of duty; was demanded by every sanction which bound me to promote the welfare of mankind. The means of destruction were easy. A lighted candle stood on a table, at the distance of a few yards. Why should I hesitate a moment to annihilate so powerful a cause of error and guilt. A passing instant was sufficient. A momentary lingering might change the circumstances that surrounded me and frustrate my project. My languors were suspended by the urgencies of the occasion. I started from my bed and glided to the table. Seizing the notes with

as soon.

my right hand, I held them in the flame of the candle, and then threw them blazing on the floor. The sudden illumination was perceived by Welbeck. The cause of it appeared to suggest itself He turned, and marking the paper where it lay, leaped to the spot and extinguished the fire with his foot. His interposition was too late. Only enough of them remained to inform him of the nature of the sacrifice. He now stood with limbs trembling, features aghast, and eyes glaring upon me.

For a time he was without speech. The storm was gathering in silence, and at length burst upon me. In a tone menacing and loud, he exclaimed: "Wretch! What have you done?" "I have done justly. These notes were false. You desired to destroy them that they might not betray the innocent. I applauded your purpose, and have saved you from the danger of temptation by destroying them myself."

"Maniac! miscreant! to be fooled by so gross an artifice! The notes were genuine. The tale of their forgery was false, and meant only to wrest them from you. Execrable and perverse idiot! Your deed has sealed my perdition. It has sealed your own. You shall pay for it with your blood. I will slay you by inches. I will stretch you, as you have stretched me, on the rack!"

During this speech, all was phrensy and storm in the features of Welbeck. Nothing less could be expected than that the scene would terminate in some bloody catastrophe. I bitterly regretted the facility with which I had been deceived, and the precipitation of my sacrifice. The act, however, could not be revoked. What remained but to encounter or endure its consequences with unshrinking firmness?

The contest was too unequal. It is possible that the phrensy which actuated Welbeck might have speedily subsided. It is more likely that his passions would have been satiated with nothing but my death. This event was precluded by loud knocks at the street door, and calls by some one on the pavement without, of-Who is within? Is any one within?


They are coming," said he. They will treat you as a sick man and a thief. I cannot desire you to suffer worse evil than they will inflict. I leave you to your fate." So saying, he rushed

out of the room.


[CLITHERO, the sleep-walker, has become insane, and has filed into one of the wild mountain fastnesses of Norwalk. Edgar Huntly endeavours to discover his retreat.]

I PASSED through the cave.... At that moment, torrents of rain poured from above, and stronger blasts thundered amidst these desolate recesses and profound chasms. Instead of lamenting the prevalence of the tempest, I now began to regard it with pleasure. It conferred new forms of sublimity and grandeur on the scene. As I crept with hands and feet along my imperfect bridge, a

sudden gust had nearly whirled me into the frightful abyss. To preserve myself, I was obliged to loose my hold of my burden and it fell into the gulf. This incident disconcerted and distressed As soon as I had effected my dangerous passage, I screened myself behind a cliff, and gave myself up to reflection.



While thus occupied, my eyes were fixed upon the opposite steeps. The tops of the trees, waying to and fro, in the wildest commotion, and their trunks, occasionally bending to the blast, which, in these lofty regions, blew with a violence unknown in the tracts below, exhibited an awful spectacle. At length, my attention was attracted by the trunk which lay across the gulf, and which I had converted into a bridge. I perceived that it had already somewhat swerved from its original position, that every blast broke or loosened some of the fibres by which its roots was connected with the opposite bank, and that, if the storm did not speedily abate, there was imminent danger of its being torn from the rock and precipitated into the chasm. Thus my retreat would be cut off, and the evils, from which I was endeavouring to rescue another, would be experienced by myself. . . .

I believed my destiny to hang upon the expedition with which I should recross this gulf. The moments that were spent in these deliberations were critical, and I shuddered to observe that the trunk was held in its place by one or two fibres which were already stretched almost to breaking.

To pass along the trunk, rendered slippery by the wet and unsteadfast by the wind, was eminently dangerous. To maintain my hold in passing, in defiance of the whirlwind, required the most vigorous exertions. For this end it was necessary to discommode myself of my cloak and of the volume. . . . .

Just as I had disposed of these encumbrances, and had risen from my seat, my attention was again called to the opposite steep, by the most unwelcome object that at this time could possibly present itself. Something was perceived moving among the bushes and rocks, which, for a time, I hoped was no more than a raccoon or opossum, but which presently appeared to be a panther. His gray coat, extended claws, fiery eyes, and a cry which he at that moment uttered, and which, by its resemblance to the human voice, is peculiarly terrific, denoted him to be the most ferocious and untameable of that detested race. The industry of our hunters has nearly banished animals of prey from these precincts. The fastnesses of Norwalk, however, could not but afford refuge to some of them. Of late I had met them so rarely, that my fears were seldom alive, and I trod, without caution, the ruggedest and most solitary haunts. Still, however, I had seldom been unfurnished in my rambles with the means of defence.....

The unfrequency with which I had lately encountered this foe, and the encumbrance of provision made me neglect on this occasion to bring with me my usual arms. The beast that was now before me, when stimulated by hunger, was

accustomed to assail whatever could provide him with a banquet of blood. He would set upon the man and the deer with equal and irresistible ferocity. His sagacity was equal to his strength, and he seemed able to discover when his antagonist was armed....

My past experience enabled me to estimate the full extent of my danger. He sat on the brow of the steep, eyeing the bridge, and apparently deliberating whether he should cross it. It was probable that he had scented my footsteps thus far, and should he pass over, his vigilance could scarcely fail of detecting my asylum. ...

Should he retain his present station, my danger was scarcely lessened. To pass over in the face of a famished tiger was only to rush upon my fate. The falling of the trunk, which had lately been so anxiously deprecated, was now, with no less solicitude, desired. Every new gust I hoped would tear asunder its remaining bands, and, by cutting off all communication between the opposite steeps, place me in security. My hopes, however, were destined to be frustrated. The fibres of the prostrate tree were obstinately tenacious of their hold, and presently the animal scrambled down the rock and proceeded to cross it.

Of all kinds of death, that which now menaced me was the most abhorred. To die by disease, or by the hand of a fellow-creature, was lenient in comparison with being rent to pieces by the fangs of this savage. To perish in this obscure retreat, by means so impervious to the anxious curiosity of my friends, to lose my portion of existence by so untoward and ignoble a destiny, was insupportable. I bitterly deplored my rashness in coming hither unprovided for an encounter like this.

The evil of my present circumstances consisted chiefly in suspense. My death was unavoidable, but my imagination had leisure to torment itself by anticipations. One foot of the savage was slowly and cautiously moved after the other. He struck his claws so deeply into the bark that they were with difficulty withdrawn. At length he leaped upon the ground. We were now separated by an interval of scarcely eight feet. To leave the spot where I crouched was impossible. Behind and beside me the cliff rose perpendicularly, and before me was this grim and terrific visage. I shrunk still closer to the ground and closed my eyes.

From this pause of horror I was aroused by the noise occasioned by a second spring of the animal. He leaped into the pit in which I had so deeply regretted that I had not taken refuge, and disappeared. My rescue was so sudden, and so much beyond my belief or my hope, that I doubted for a moment whether my senses did not deceive me. This opportunity of escape was not to be neglected. I left my place and scrambled over the trunk with a precipitation which had liked to have proved fatai. The tree groaned and shook under me, the wind blew with unexampled violence, and

I had scarcely reached the opposite steep when the roots were severed from the rock, and the whole fell thundering to the bottom of the chasm.

My trepidations were not speedily quieted. I looked back with wonder on my hair-breadth escape, and on that singular concurrence of events which had placed me in so short a period in absolute security. Had the trunk fallen a moment earlier, I should have been imprisoned on the hill or thrown headlong. Had its fall been delayed another moment I should have been pursued; for the beast now issued from his den, and testified his surprise and disappointment by tokens, the sight of which made my blood run cold.

He saw me and hastened to the verge of the chasm. He squatted on his hind-legs and assumed the attitude of one preparing to leap. My consternation was excited afresh by these appearances. It seemed at first as if the rift was too wide for any power of muscles to carry him in safety over; but I knew the unparalleled agility of this animal, and that his experience had made him a better judge of the practicability of this exploit than I was.

Still there was hope that he would relinquish this design as desperate. This hope was quickly at an end. He sprung, and his fore-legs touched the verge of the rock on which I stood. In spite of vehement exertions, however, the surface was too smooth and too hard to allow him to make good his hold. He fell, and a piercing cry, uttered below, showed that nothing had obstructed his descent to the bottom.



THE ideas annexed to the term peasant are wholly inapplicable to the tillers of ground in America; but our notions are the offspring of the books we read. Our books are almost wholly the productions of Europe, and the prejudices which infect us are derived chiefly from this source. These prejudices may be somewhat rectified by age and by converse with the world, but they flourish in full vigour in youthful minds, reared in seclusion and privacy, and undisciplined by intercourse with various classes of mankind. In me they possessed an unusual degree of strength. My words were selected and defined according to foreign usages, and my notions of dignity were modelled on a scale which the revolution has completely taken away. I could never forget that my condition was that of a peasant, and in spite of reflection, I was the slave of those sentiments of self-contempt and humiliation, which pertain to that condition elsewhere, though chimerical and visionary on the western side of the Atlantic.


[Born 1772. Died 1834.]

WILLIAM WIRT was the youngest son of an emigrant from Switzerland, and was born in Bladensburg, Maryland, on the eighth of November, 1772. His father died while he was an infant, and his mother before he was eight years old. He then became the ward of an uncle, who placed him at a grammar school kept by a Mr. Hunt, in the county of Montgomery, where he remained from 1781 to 1785, in which period he studied the Greek and Latin languages, and indulged in much desultory reading, chiefly of classical authors, of which his teacher had a good collection. During the next year and a half he was a private teacher in the family of Mr. Benjamin Edwards, whose son Ninian, afterward Governor of Illinois, had been his school-mate; and in 1789, on account of impaired health, he went to Augusta, Georgia, where he spent the following winter. On his return to Maryland he commenced the study of the law, and in 1792 he was licensed to practice, and commenced his professional career at Culpepper Court House in Virginia.

He was now twenty-one years of age, with good health, a handsome person, pleasing address, and great fluency in conversation and in debate. From the first he was eminently successful in the courts; and marrying, in 1795, a daughter of Dr. Gilmer, of Charlottesville, and about the same time becoming acquainted and contracting friendships with Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Madison, and other celebrated men, he had before him the promise of a prosperous and happy life.

The death of his wife, however, in 1799, interrupted his pursuits, and for a change of scene he went to Richmond, where he was chosen clerk of the House of Delegates. The respect which he acquired during three terms of service in this body was so great, that upon a new organization of the judiciary, in 1802, when he was but twenty-nine years of age, he was chosen chancellor of the eastern district of the state. He removed to Williamsburgh, but finding the profits of his office less than


his probable income as an advocate, and confident of his ability to acquire a higher distinction in a different position, he resigned it at the end of a few months; and having married a daughter of Colonel Gamble, of Richmond, and passed in that city another winter, during which he wrote The British Spy, he selected Norfolk as his place of residence, and there resumed the practice of his profession.

The British Spy was hastily composed, without a thought of its ever attracting attention beyond the circle which was most familiar with the characters described in it, and was published in numbers in the Virginia Argus, in 1803. It purports to be a selection from letters addressed by a young English nobleman, travelling under an assumed name in the United States, to his former guardian, a distinguished member of the House of Com


At the end of three years Mr. Wirt returned again to Richmond, where in the winter of 1807 he was retained under the direction of President Jefferson to assist the AttorneyGeneral of the United States in the celebrated prosecution of Aaron Burr for treason. The great Marshall presided, and the first lawyers of the country were engaged for or against the prisoner. The question was argued in a manner worthy of its importance. "A degree of eloquence seldom displayed on any occasion," said the chief justice," has embellished solidity of argument and depth of research." It is generally admitted that the speech of Mr. Wirt was altogether the most brilliant and effective made during the trial. He was master of all the arts by which the attention is secured and retained. Oratory was his forte as well as his favourite art. Every period, every gesture, every look, was carefully studied. His principal speech occupied four hours, and was faithfully reported, probably by himself. The occasion was fortunate; he exerted his best powers; and made his reputation national. As everybody knows, Burr was acquitted. Luther Martin's remark, that



the trial was "much ado about nothing," is now admitted to have been as just as it was happy. There was on the side of the prosecution little opportunity for reasoning, and certainly Mr. Wirt exhibited no great ability in that way; but his speech served his own purposes, and helped to secure the proceeding from immediate contempt.

In 1808 he was elected to represent the city of Richmond in the House of Delegates, and he acquired new distinction by his labours in that body; but though often invited to do so he would never after leave the path of his profession. He wrote, indeed, in support of Mr. Jefferson's administration, and in favour of the nomination of Mr. Madison for the presidency; but except when influenced by private friendship he had as little as possible to do with party politics.

He was now in the height of his popularity, and his office was thronged with suitors; but he still found time for indulgence of his taste for society and literature. His reading was discursive, but the classics, the great historians, and the English dramatists and essayists were his favourites. His memory was exceedingly retentive, and perhaps no one ever surpassed him in readiness and felicity of quotation. Mr. Thomas, the clever author of Clinton Bradshaw, relates a characteristic instance, which occurred, however, at a later period: A Scotch Presbyterian church in Baltimore was divided upon the question of what is called the new school theology, and Mr. Wirt was advocate for the Rev. Mr. Duncan, whom the old school side were endeavouring to eject from the place of pastor. After alluding to the fact that both parties were from Scotland, he described the preacher as being in the condition of the guest of Macbeth, and rebuking the plaintiffs with great effect, said that if they succeeded they would feel like the guilty Thane; for

This Duncan

Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been So clear in his great office, that his virtues Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against The deep damnation of his taking off. There were in Richmond many persons of congenial tastes, upon whom he frequently urged the custom of authorship, as delightful in itself, and as an honourable and effective means of elevating the national character. The British Spy had been eminently successful; and discussing with some friends, in 1809,

the article on Ashe's Travels in America, which had then just appeared in the Edinburgh Review, he proposed a literary partnership for writing The Old Bachelor. Judge Parker, Beverley Tucker, Dabney Carr, J. W. Mercer, and some others promised assistance, and the publication of that work was soon afterward commenced in the Richmond Enquirer. By far the largest portion of it was written by Mr. Wirt, though several of his friends furnished each one or more essays. In the twelfth number the prime objects in view are stated to be, to diffuse among the people a taste for letters, to make them sensible of the decline of intelligence in the country since the age of the revolution, and to excite a spirit of emulation among the young. Whatever may have been the degeneracy of the Virginians, the contrasts which he describes were nowhere else perceptible; and we can hardly believe, even upon his testimony, that his contemporaries in that state exhibited in so marked a degree" the phenomenon of a young people experiencing the decrepitude of age before they attained maturity." The revolution had called out all our latent energies, and such a crisis at any subsequent period would also have produced what he calls "eruptions of talent.” The tone of The Old Bachelor on this subject is uniformly extravagant, and exhibits a curious subserviency to the opinions of the foreign travellers and reviewers which be professes to condemn. Its style is gaudy and feeble.

In 1817 Mr. Wirt published the Life of Patrick Henry, a work for which he had been many years collecting materials, but of which the execution had been delayed by his professional occupations. This is an extraordinary piece of biography, animated and picturesque, and though full of extravagancies, not an unfaithful representation of the celebrated original. It is one of the small class of works for which his genius, or rather his temperament, was best suited. He would have written the life of any other man in the same style, and Henry's was almost the only one which would have borne it. Wirt's whole experience had been a preparation for the portraiture of the great orator, and however hastily it may in the end have been composed, we have no reason to suppose it would have had more unity, completeness, condensation or simplicity, if it had received from him any conceivable amount of labour.

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