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were worth all the world to me, and but a moment allowed, and clasped hands, and heart-breaking partings, and then-everlasting farewells! And with a sigh, such as the caves of hell sighed when the incestuous mother uttered the abhorred name of Death, the sound was reverberated-everlasting farewells! and again, and yet again reverberated-everlasting farewells! And I awoke in struggles and cried aloud-"I will sleep no more.' -The Pains of Opium,' London Magazine, vol. iv. 1821, p. 377.

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The next is an apostrophe, in somewhat pagan fashion, to this awful drug, in the conclusion of what he calls, Pleasures of Opium :'

Oh! just, subtle, and mighty opium! that to the hearts of poor and rich alike, for the wounds that will never heal, and for "the pangs that tempt the spirit to rebel," bringest an assuaging balm; eloquent opium! that with thy potent rhetoric stealest away the purposes of wrath; and to the guilty man, for one night givest back the hopes of his youth, and hands washed pure from blood: and to the proud man, a brief oblivion for

"Wrongs unredress'd and insults unavenged:"

that summonest to the chancery of dreams, for the triumphs of suffering innocence, false witnesses; and confoundest perjury, and dost reverse the sentence of unrighteous judges:-thou buildest upon the bosom of darkness, out of the fantastic imagery of the brain, cities and temples, beyond the art of Phidias and Praxiteles-beyond the splendour of Babylon and Hekatompylos; and from the "anarchy of dreaming sleep," callest into sunny light the faces of long-buried beauties, and the blessed household countenances, cleansed from the "dishonours of the grave." Thou only givest these gifts to man; and thou hast the keys of Paradise, oh, just, subtle, and mighty Opium !'—Ibid. p. 361.

Sensations so vivid, depressions so awful, are at once a sequel and interpretation of a childhood and boyhood of morbid feeling and intellect. From my birth I was made an intellectual creature,' our author tells us, in the work we have just quoted from; and intellectual in the highest sense my pursuits and pleasures have been, even from my schoolboy days."

The first autobiographical sketch introduces our author to us before the close of his sixth year, at which time the first chapter of his life was already closed; and so great a shock of grief fallen upon him that 'life is finished' was the secret imagining of his heart, and he said to himself, 'Now is the blossoming of life withered for ever." Let us not smile at this record of a child's grief, for we doubt not it is true, even to this sounding record of it; and before his sixth year this precocious child had won a large experience. Mr. De Quincey has distant recollections of a period before he could have reached the close of his second year. He recals a remarkable dream of terrific grandeur, concerning a favourite nurse,' and remembers to have connected at the same age, a profound sense of pathos with the reappearance, in very early spring, of some crocuses. can read often in a young child's countenance the movements of thoughts like these, but to remember them is rare indeed. But


this is not so strange as his recollections connected with his first acquaintance with death; when a little sister died, he being at the time eighteen months old, more or less by some trifle,' but the date must be pretty closely ascertained. Death,' he says, 'was then scarcely intelligible to me; and I could not be so properly said to suffer sorrow as a sad perplexity.'

'With my sister Jane's death (though otherwise, as I have said, less sorrowful than perplexing), there was, however, connected an incident which made a most fearful impression upon myself, deepening my tendencies to thoughtfulness and abstraction beyond what would seem credible for my years. If there was one thing in this world from which, more than from any other, nature had forced me to revolt, it was brutality and violence. Now, a whisper arose in the family, that a female servant, who by accident was drawn off from her proper duties to attend my sister Jane for a day or two, had on one occasion treated her harshly, if not brutally; and as this ill-treatment happened within three or four days of her death, so that the occasion of it must have been some fretfulness in the poor child caused by her sufferings, naturally there was a sense of awe and indignation diffused through the family. I believe the story never reached my mother, and possibly it was exaggerated; but upon me the effect was terrific. I did not often see the person charged with this cruelty; but when I did, my eyes sought the ground; nor could I have borne to look her in the face; not, however, in any spirit that could be called anger. The feeling which fell upon me was a shuddering horror, as upon a first glimpse of the truth that I was in a world of evil and strife. Though born in a large town (the town of Manchester, even then among the largest of the island), I had passed the whole of my childhood, except for the few earliest weeks, in a rural seclusion. With three innocent little sisters for playmates, sleeping always amongst them, and shut up for ever in a silent garden from all knowledge of poverty, or oppression, or outrage, I had not suspected until this moment the true complexion of the world in which myself and my sisters were living. Henceforward the character of my thoughts changed greatly; for so representative are some acts, that one single case of the class is sufficient to throw open before you the whole theatre of possibilities in that direction. I never heard that the woman accused of this cruelty took it at all to heart, even after the event which so immediately succeeded had reflected upon it a more painful emphasis. But for myself, that incident had a lasting revolutionary power in colouring my estimate of life.'— Autobiographic Sketches, vol. i. pp. 7, 8.

The idea of a baby of a year and a-half suspecting the true complexion of the world in which it lives,' is somewhat alarming. We must suppose that the man adds a little definitiveness to the child's misgivings; but with every modification the recollection is a remarkable and genuine one. From all we can gather of the author's mother, she was not a woman to observe her children's minds with modern curiosity. She was a mother of her own day; the children lived a great deal in the nursery, and stood in awe of her. He somewhere says she always thought her own children below those of other people, and was evidently a disciplinarian, training her children to a Spartan simplicity of diet. Though he speaks respectfully of her,

describing her as a very religious person, an 'Evangelical,' and friend of Hannah More's, she did not make one of the leading characters of his own childhood, or help forward by any unwise fostering of her own, this extraordinary precocity.

The female influence of his infancy was his sister Elizabeth, three years older than himself, and it was her death which closed the first chapter of his life, in his sixth year, with the solemn words we have reported. This child shared in the family brilliancy of intellect. Her head was the wonder of phrenologists. He looks back on 'her serene and capacious mind.' She was his guide and companion; and thoughts, beyond what children think, were shared between them. In losing her, he describes himself as losing the only being to whom he was ever able to utter the feelings of his heart without reserve-'For I was 'the shyest of children; and at all stages of life, a natural sense ' of personal dignity held me back from exposing the least ray of feeling which I was not wholly encouraged to reveal.' To this shyness, no doubt, and to the loss of this sympathising hearer, the public now owes the unlimited confessions for which our author has chosen it for his confidant. This precious sister was taken ill suddenly,

'In such circumstances, a child, as young as myself, feels no anxieties. Looking upon medical men as people privileged, and naturally commissioned, to make war upon pain and sickness, I never had a misgiving about the result. I grieved, indeed, that my sister should lie in bed; I grieved still more to hear her moan. But all this appeared to me no more than as a night of trouble, on which the dawn would soon arise. O! moment of darkness and delirium, when the elder nurse awakened me from that delusion, and launched God's thunderbolt at my heart in the assurance that my sister MUST die. Rightly it is said of utter, utter misery, that it "cannot be remembered." Itself, as a rememberable thing, is swallowed up in its own chaos. Blank anarchy and confusion of mind fell upon me. Deaf and blind I was, as I reeled under the revelation. I wish not to recall the circumstances of that time, when my agony was at its height, and hers, in another sense, was approaching. Enough it is to say, that all was soon over; and the morning of that day had at last arrived which looked down upon her innocent face, sleeping the sleep from which there is no awaking, and upon me sorrowing the sorrow for which there is no consolation.

'On the day after my sister's death, whilst the sweet temple of her brain was yet unviolated by human scrutiny, I formed my own scheme for seeing her once more. Not for the world would I have made this known, nor have suffered a witness to accompany me. I had never heard of feelings that take the name of "sentimental," nor dreamed of such a possibility. But grief, even in a child, hates the light, and shrinks from human eyes. The house was large enough to have two staircases; and by one of these I knew that about mid-day, when all would be quiet (for the servants dined at one o'clock), I could steal up into her chamber. I imagine that it was

1'I stood in unimaginable trance
And agony, which cannot be remembered.'

Speech of Alhadra, in Coleridge's Remorse.

about an hour after high noon when I reached the chamber door; it was locked, but the key was not taken away. Entering, I closed the door so softly, that, although it opened upon a hall which ascended through all the storeys, no echo ran along the silent walls. Then, turning round, I sought my sister's face. But the bed had been moved, and the back was now turned towards myself. Nothing met my eyes but one large window, wide open, through which the sun of midsummer at mid-day was showering down torrents of splendour. The weather was dry, the sky was cloudless, the blue depths seemed the express types of infinity; and it was not possible for eye to behold, or for heart to conceive, any symbols more pathetic of life and the glory of life.'-Vol. i. pp. 11-13.

In the 'Opium Eater' there is a striking passage on the connexion of death with summer, and its greater terrors at that season. This sentiment is traceable to the moment described in this scene, where the glories of the season contrasted themselves so painfully to the young child's mind with the bleak of death. After following out the idea at greater length than we can quote, he continues,

'Out of this digression, for the purpose of showing how inextricably my feelings and images of death were entangled with those of summer, as connected with Palestine and Jerusalem, let me come back to the bedchamber of my sister. From the gorgeous sunlight I turned round to the corpse. There lay the sweet childish figure; there the angel face; and, as people usually fancy, it was said in the house that no features had suffered any change. Had they not? The forehead, indeed-the serene and noble forehead-that might be the same; but the frozen eyelids, the darkness that seemed to steal from beneath them, the marble lips, the stiffening hands, laid palm to palm, as if repeating the supplications of closing anguishcould these be mistaken for life? Had it been so, wherefore did I not spring to those heavenly lips with tears and never-ending kisses? But so it was not. I stood checked for a moment; awe, not fear, fell upon me; and, whilst I stood, a solemn wind began to blow-the saddest that ear ever heard. It was a wind that might have swept the fields of mortality for a thousand centuries. Many times since, upon summer days, when the sun is about the hottest, I have remarked the same wind arising and uttering the same hollow, solemn, Memnonian, but saintly swell: it is in this world the one great audible symbol of eternity. And three times in my life have I happened to hear the same sound in the same circumstances—namely, when standing between an open window and a dead body on a summer day.

Instantly, when my ear caught this vast Æolian intonation, when my eye filled with the golden fulness of life, the pomps of the heavens above, or the glory of the flowers below, and turning when it settled upon the frost which overspread my sister's face, instantly a trance fell upon me. A vault seemed to open in the zenith of the far blue sky, a shaft which ran up for ever. I, in spirit, rose as if on billows that also ran up the shaft for ever; and the billows seemed to pursue the throne of God; but that also ran before us and fled away continually. The flight and the pursuit seemed to go on for ever and ever. Frost gathering frost, some Sarsar wind of death, seemed to repel me; some mighty relation between God and death dimly struggled to evolve itself from the dreadful antagonism between them; shadowy meanings even yet continue to exercise and torment, in dreams, the deciphering oracle within me. I slept for how long I cannot

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say; slowly I recovered my self-possession; and, when I woke, found myself standing, as before, close to my sister's bed.

'I have reason to believe that a very long interval had elapsed during this wandering or suspension of my perfect mind. When I returned to myself, there was a foot (or I fancied so) on the stairs. I was alarmed; for, if anybody had detected me, means would have been taken to prevent my coming again. Hastily, therefore, I kissed the lips that I should kiss no more, and slunk, like a guilty thing, with stealthy steps from the room. Thus perished the vision, loveliest amongst all the shows which earth has revealed to me; thus mutilated was the parting which should have lasted for ever; tainted thus with fear was that farewell sacred to love and grief, to perfect love and to grief that could not be healed.'—Vol. i. pp. 15–18.

So early was our author's singlar faculty of trance-like dreams developed. It is his one intellectual peculiarity, wholly independent of the artificial stimulant to which it was afterwards attributed, though no doubt it was intensified by it. This gift might, on first thoughts, have been expected to lead to high poetic excellence, but we believe would rather be a bar to it, as holding back the child's mind, in its most impressible age, from seeing things as they are, and without any colouring from the individual mind, and so probably narrowing the range of thought. We are not speaking so much of this individual instance, under intense excitement, as of the general musing, dreamy tendency of his mind, which led him to fasten on certain congenial subjects, shaping them to his own fancy, at the expense of leaving the wider scene of general thought and observation unsought into. So morbid was his state after his sister's death, that he haunted solitary places in the hope of some visionary reunion. All nature suggested but one idea: the services of our Church,—for even then he was alive to the beauty of their tone and language, ministered to it; while the fine architecture of the collegiate church at Manchester, which he then attended, and its painted windows, inspired trances and visions, and opened glimpses of heaven itself to his childish fancy. The result might have been most serious to mental health, but for a salutary break upon this luxury of grief, in the unwelcome arrival upon the scene of an elder brother, one of those vigorous and overbearing personages, that must make their presence felt on the most preoccupied mind, and will not suffer any shadows but of their own creating to interfere with their influence. So profound was the impression he made upon his little brother's mind, and so paramount was the authority he established over body, soul, and spirit, that the account of him, though leaving little room for the indulgence of Mr. De Quincey's peculiar vein, is one of his best efforts, and the humour almost the only genuine example of that quality his writings furnish. Some few qualities the brothers must have possessed in common, the same precocity of intellect,

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