The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 142

of foothold
on the firm floor of the prison. I struggled no more, but the agony of
my soul found vent in one loud, long, and final scream of despair. I
felt that I tottered upon the brink--I averted my eyes--

There was a discordant hum of human voices! There was a loud blast as of
many trumpets! There was a harsh grating as of a thousand thunders! The
fiery walls rushed back! An outstretched arm caught my own as I fell,
fainting, into the abyss. It was that of General Lasalle. The French
army had entered Toledo. The Inquisition was in the hands of its
enemies.




THE PREMATURE BURIAL

THERE are certain themes of which the interest is all-absorbing, but
which are too entirely horrible for the purposes of legitimate fiction.
These the mere romanticist must eschew, if he do not wish to offend or
to disgust. They are with propriety handled only when the severity and
majesty of Truth sanctify and sustain them. We thrill, for example, with
the most intense of "pleasurable pain" over the accounts of the Passage
of the Beresina, of the Earthquake at Lisbon, of the Plague at London,
of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, or of the stifling of the hundred
and twenty-three prisoners in the Black Hole at Calcutta. But in these
accounts it is the fact----it is the reality----it is the history which
excites. As inventions, we should regard them with simple abhorrence.

I have mentioned some few of the more prominent and august calamities
on record; but in these it is the extent, not less than the character
of the calamity, which so vividly impresses the fancy. I need not remind
the reader that, from the long and weird catalogue of human miseries,
I might have selected many individual instances more replete with
essential suffering than any of these vast generalities of disaster.
The true wretchedness, indeed--the ultimate woe----is particular, not
diffuse. That the ghastly extremes of agony are endured by man the unit,
and never by man the mass----for this let us thank a merciful God!

To be buried while alive is, beyond question, the most terrific of these
extremes which has ever fallen to the lot of mere mortality. That it has
frequently, very frequently, so fallen will scarcely be denied by those
who think. The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best
shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other
begins? We know that there are diseases in which occur total cessations
of all the apparent functions of vitality, and yet in which these
cessations are merely

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Text Comparison with The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

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* * *.
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But let me on.