The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 2

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 60

consider it any matter for wonder, that
the extraordinary case of M. Valdemar has excited discussion. It would
have been a miracle had it not-especially under the circumstances.
Through the desire of all parties concerned, to keep the affair from the
public, at least for the present, or until we had farther opportunities
for investigation--through our endeavors to effect this--a garbled or
exaggerated account made its way into society, and became the source of
many unpleasant misrepresentations, and, very naturally, of a great deal
of disbelief.

It is now rendered necessary that I give the facts--as far as I
comprehend them myself. They are, succinctly, these:

My attention, for the last three years, had been repeatedly drawn to
the subject of Mesmerism; and, about nine months ago it occurred to me,
quite suddenly, that in the series of experiments made hitherto, there
had been a very remarkable and most unaccountable omission:--no person
had as yet been mesmerized in articulo mortis. It remained to be seen,
first, whether, in such condition, there existed in the patient any
susceptibility to the magnetic influence; secondly, whether, if any
existed, it was impaired or increased by the condition; thirdly, to what
extent, or for how long a period, the encroachments of Death might be
arrested by the process. There were other points to be ascertained,
but these most excited my curiosity--the last in especial, from the
immensely important character of its consequences.

In looking around me for some subject by whose means I might test these
particulars, I was brought to think of my friend, M. Ernest Valdemar,
the well-known compiler of the "Bibliotheca Forensica," and author
(under the nom de plume of Issachar Marx) of the Polish versions of
"Wallenstein" and "Gargantua." M. Valdemar, who has resided principally
at Harlaem, N.Y., since the year 1839, is (or was) particularly
noticeable for the extreme spareness of his person--his lower limbs much
resembling those of John Randolph; and, also, for the whiteness of his
whiskers, in violent contrast to the blackness of his hair--the latter,
in consequence, being very generally mistaken for a wig. His temperament
was markedly nervous, and rendered him a good subject for mesmeric
experiment. On two or three occasions I had put him to sleep with little
difficulty, but was disappointed in other results which his peculiar
constitution had naturally led me to anticipate. His will was at no
period positively, or thoroughly, under my control, and in regard to
clairvoyance, I could accomplish with him nothing to be relied upon. I
always attributed my failure at these points to the disordered state of
his health. For some months previous to

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Text Comparison with The Fall of the House of Usher

Page 0
Nevertheless, in this mansion of gloom I now proposed to myself a sojourn of some weeks.
Page 1
His reserve had been always excessive and habitual.
Page 2
Such, I have long known, is the paradoxical law of all sentiments having terror as a basis.
Page 3
Dark draperies hung upon the walls.
Page 4
beautiful curve; a nose of a delicate Hebrew model, but with a breadth of nostril unusual in similar formations; a finely-moulded chin, speaking, in its want of prominence, of a want of moral energy; hair of a more than web-like softness and tenuity; these features, with an inordinate expansion above the regions of the temple, made up altogether a countenance not easily to be forgotten.
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I shudder at the thought of any, even the most trivial, incident, which may operate upon this intolerable agitation of soul.
Page 6
For several days ensuing, her name was unmentioned by either Usher or myself: and during this period I was busied in earnest endeavours to alleviate the melancholy of my friend.
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And all with pearl and ruby glowing Was the fair palace door, Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing And sparkling evermore, A troop of Echoes whose sweet duty Was but to sing, In voices of surpassing beauty, The wit and wisdom of their king.
Page 10
The belief, however, was connected (as I.
Page 11
have previously hinted) with the gray stones of the home of his forefathers.
Page 12
of her medical men, and of the remote and exposed situation of the burial-ground of the family.
Page 13
It was, especially, upon retiring to bed late in the night of the seventh or eighth day after the placing of the lady Madeline within the donjon, that I experienced the full power of such feelings.
Page 14
"These appearances, which bewilder you, are merely electrical phenomena not uncommon--or it may be that they have their ghastly origin in the rank miasma of the tarn.
Page 15
It was, beyond doubt, the coincidence alone which had arrested my attention; for, amid the rattling of the sashes of the casements, and the ordinary commingled noises of the still increasing storm, the sound, in itself, had nothing, surely, which should have interested or disturbed me.
Page 16
Oppressed, as I certainly was, upon the occurrence of the second and most extraordinary coincidence, by a thousand conflicting sensations, in which wonder and extreme terror were predominant, I still retained sufficient presence of mind to avoid exciting, by any observation, the sensitive nervousness of my companion.
Page 17
I heard them--many, many days ago--yet I dared not--I dared not speak! And now--to-night--Ethelred--ha! ha!--the breaking of the hermit's door, and the death-cry of the dragon, and the clangour of the shield!--say, rather, the rending of her coffin, and the grating of the iron hinges of her prison, and her struggles within the coppered archway of the vault! Oh whither shall I fly? Will she not be here anon? Is she not hurrying to upbraid me for my haste? Have I not heard her footsteps on the stair? Do I not distinguish that heavy and horrible beating of her heart? Madman!" here he sprang furiously to his feet, and shrieked out his syllables, as if in the effort he were giving up his soul--"Madman! I tell you that she now stands without the door!" As if in the superhuman energy of his utterance there had been found the potency of a spell--the huge antique panels to which the speaker pointed, threw slowly back, upon the instant, their ponderous and ebony.
Page 18
The storm was still abroad in all its wrath as I found myself crossing the old causeway.