The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 3

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 178

became her pupil. I soon, however, found that, perhaps
on account of her Presburg education, she placed before me a number of
those mystical writings which are usually considered the mere dross of
the early German literature. These, for what reason I could not imagine,
were her favourite and constant study--and that in process of time
they became my own, should be attributed to the simple but effectual
influence of habit and example.

In all this, if I err not, my reason had little to do. My convictions,
or I forget myself, were in no manner acted upon by the ideal, nor was
any tincture of the mysticism which I read to be discovered, unless I
am greatly mistaken, either in my deeds or in my thoughts. Persuaded
of this, I abandoned myself implicitly to the guidance of my wife, and
entered with an unflinching heart into the intricacies of her studies.
And then--then, when poring over forbidden pages, I felt a forbidden
spirit enkindling within me--would Morella place her cold hand upon my
own, and rake up from the ashes of a dead philosophy some low, singular
words, whose strange meaning burned themselves in upon my memory. And
then, hour after hour, would I linger by her side, and dwell upon the
music of her voice, until at length its melody was tainted with terror,
and there fell a shadow upon my soul, and I grew pale, and shuddered
inwardly at those too unearthly tones. And thus, joy suddenly faded into
horror, and the most beautiful became the most hideous, as Hinnon became
Ge-Henna.

It is unnecessary to state the exact character of those disquisitions
which, growing out of the volumes I have mentioned, formed, for so
long a time, almost the sole conversation of Morella and myself. By
the learned in what might be termed theological morality they will be
readily conceived, and by the unlearned they would, at all events,
be little understood. The wild Pantheism of Fichte; the modified
Paliggenedia of the Pythagoreans; and, above all, the doctrines of
Identity as urged by Schelling, were generally the points of discussion
presenting the most of beauty to the imaginative Morella. That identity
which is termed personal, Mr. Locke, I think, truly defines to consist
in the saneness of rational being. And since by person we understand an
intelligent essence having reason, and since there is a consciousness
which always accompanies thinking, it is this which makes us all to
be that which we call ourselves, thereby distinguishing us from
other beings that think, and giving us our personal identity. But the
principium indivduationis, the notion

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