MISERY is manifold. The wretchedness of earth is multiform. Overreaching the wide horizon as the rainbow, its hues are as various as the hues of that arch, --as distinct too, yet as intimately blended. Overreaching the wide horizon as the rainbow! How is it that from beauty I have derived a type of unloveliness? --from the covenant of peace a simile of sorrow? But as, in ethics, evilis a consequence of good, so, in fact, out of joy is sorrow born. Either the memory of past bliss is the anguish of to-day, or the agonies which are have their origin in the ecstasies which might have been.
My baptismal name is Egaeus; that of my family I will not mention. Yet there are no towers in the land more time-honored than my gloomy, gray, hereditary halls. Our line has been called arace of visionaries; and in many striking particulars --in the character of the family mansion --in the frescos of the chief saloon --in the tapestries of the dormitories --in the chiselling of some buttresses in the armory --but more especially in the gallery of antique paintings --in the fashion of the library chamber --and, lastly, in the very peculiar nature of the library's contents, there ismore than sufficient evidence to warrant the belief.
The recollections of my earliest years are connected with that chamber, and with its volumes --of which latter I will say no more. Here died my mother. Herein was I born. But it is mere idleness to say that I had not lived before --that the soul has no previous existence. You deny it? --let us not argue the matter. Convinced myself, I seek notto convince. There is, however, a remembrance of aerial forms --of spiritual and meaning eyes --of sounds, musical yet sad --a remembrance which will not be excluded; a memory like a shadow, vague, variable, indefinite, unsteady; and like a shadow, too, in the impossibility of my getting rid of it while the sunlight of my reason shall exist.
In that chamber was I born. Thus awaking from thelong night of what seemed, but was not, nonentity, at once into the very regions of fairy-land --into a palace of imagination --into the wild dominions of monastic thought and erudition --it is not singular that I gazed around me with a startled and ardent eye --that I loitered away my boyhood in books, and dissipated my youth in reverie; but it is singular that as years rolled away, and the noon ofmanhood found me still in the mansion of my fathers --it is wonderful what stagnation there fell upon the springs of my life --wonderful how total an inversion took place in the character of my commonest thought. The realities of the world affected me as visions, and as visions only, while the wild ideas of the land of dreams became, in turn, --not the material of my every-day existence-but invery deed that existence utterly and solely in itself.
Berenice and I were cousins, and we grew up together in my paternal halls. Yet differently we grew --I ill of health, and buried in gloom --she agile, graceful, and overflowing with energy; hers the ramble on the hill-side --mine the studies of the cloister --I living within my own heart, and addicted body and soul to the most intense andpainful meditation --she roaming carelessly through life with no thought of the shadows in her path, or the silent flight of the raven-winged hours. Berenice! --I call upon her name --Berenice! --and from the gray ruins of memory a thousand tumultuous recollections are startled at the sound! Ah! vividly is her image before me now, as in the early days of her light-heartedness and joy! Oh! gorgeousyet fantastic beauty! Oh! sylph amid the shrubberies of Arnheim! --Oh! Naiad among its fountains! --and then --then all is mystery and terror, and a tale which should not be told. Disease --a fatal disease --fell like the simoom upon her frame, and, even while I gazed upon her, the spirit of change swept, over her, pervading her mind, her habits, and her character, and, in a manner the most subtle...