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and watched the green leaves wave in the waving breeze, and listened unweariedly to the continual chime and ripple of the brook, to the warbling of the free and happy birds and the murmur of the unmastered wind. My soul has drunk deep of beauty. How then could I have been unmoved by the speaking life and exquisite grace of nature's loveliest. I have chained my spirit down to deference and observance; have repressed the stern strong thoughts that aimed at higher nobler objects of ambition and of man's true pride, and watched with beating heart, the changing look and voice of a being of the same clay as myself. I have felt a strong tremor pass quickly through my frame as my gaze met hers, have dwelt on her every word, have dreamed myself into bliss—and woke to find myself but a thing of pity at the best. Then would I not shew the depth of the wound, but veil the agony with a jest and pass on my way with a smiling countenance. But yet have not I found Truth.”
Then again the voice sighed and it murmured forth “wouldst thou then see Truth-seek it not on earth nor here. Yet mayst thou attain unto the near resemblance of it where thou shalt learn no longer to expect the fulness and perfection which belong only to Heaven.” And I said “O voice that thus stirrest the depths of my soul, shew me, if it be but the image and shadow of the Truth, let me but see the dim outline of that which thou hast spoken." And even as I thus prayed, behold the flame embodied itself, and though the pale stars shone palely through it, yet might I see the growing fulness and roundness of form, as spiritual embodiment and image of a being and its face was from me yet I knew it. The figure rose as of the middle height, and as it turned slowly round it fixed its deep shadowy and mysterious eyes upon me, with a glowing and soulsearching glance that I had felt before; and the scene around changed, and instead of the indistinct and fairy land wherein my disenthralled spirit had been roaming, it was a spot where I had been while on earth.
A quiet river rolled steadily and murmuringly along in front; the long sedge waved gently to and fro in the morning breeze upon the low bank of the other side; but on the side whereon I had been, was an elevated terrace gently swelling above the stream; the walk, scarce so much trodden as to be distinguished from the green around, curved gracefully down under the shadow of some ancient oaks, fringed with long and gracefully drooping moss: and under the shadow of their gnarled and time honored branches, rested the embodied flame. It reclined upon the massy roots of the old tree, and I was there. As I gazed with a half conscious delight, the form grew more and more distinct and fresh to my memory; and the thousand thoughts of that past time of unmingled happiness rose again before me.
The features lighted with an expression I might not withstand, my eyes beamed with the full feelings of my soul which hovered unsteadily on the perilous confines of a most happy delirium. I bent more and more forward in my adoration and still those eyes seemed the same in their confiding and truthful expression. Then said I “O voice rightly hast thou spoken. Thou-form too well known-art Truth!
And I awoke in my transport-and it was a Dream.
He who has been at Rotterdam will remember a house of two stories which stands in the suburbs just adjoining the basin of the canal that runs between that city and the Hague, Leyden, and other places. I say he will remember it, for it must have been pointed out to him as having been once inhabited by the most ingenious artist that Holland ever produced, to say nothing of his daughter, the prettiest maiden ever born within hearing of the croaking of a freg. It is not with the fair Blanche, unfortunately, that we have at present any thing to do; it is with the old gentleman her father. His profession was that of a surgical-instrument maker, but his fame principally rested on the admirable skill with which he constructed wooden and cork legs. So great was his reputation in this department of human science, that they whom nature or accident had curtailed, caricatured, and disappointed in so very necessary appendage to the body, came limping to him in crowds, and, however desperate their case might be, were very soon (as the saying is) set upon their legs again. Many a cripple, who had looked upon his deformity as incurable, and whose only consolation consisted in an occasional sly hit at Providence, for having entrusted his making to a journeyman, found himself so admirably fitted, so elegantly propped up by Mynheer Turningvort, that he almost began to doubt whether a timber or cork supporter was not, on the whole, superior to a more common-place and troublesome one of flesh and blood. And, in good truth, if you had seen how very handsome and delicate were the understandings fashioned by the skilful artificer, you would have been puzzled to settle the question yourself, the more especially if, in your real toes, you were ever tormented with gout or corns.
One morning, just as Master Turningvort was giving its final smoothness and polish to a calf and ankle, a messenger entered his studio, to speak classically, and requested that he would immediately accompany him to the mansion of Mynheer Von Wodenblock. It was the mansion of the richest merchant in Rotterdam, so the artist put on his best wig, and set forth with his three-cornered hat in one hand, and his silver-headed stick in the other. It so happened that Mynheer Von Wodenblock had been very laudably employed, a few days before, in turning a poor relation out of doors, but in endeavouring to hasten the odious wretch's progress down stairs by a slight impulse a posteriore (for Mynheer seldom stood upon ceremony with
poor relations,) he had unfortunately lost his balance, and tumbling headlong from the top to the bottom, he found, on recovering his senses, that he had broken his right leg, and that he had lost three teeth. He had at first some thoughts of having his poor
relation tried for murder; but being naturally of a merciful disposition, he only sent him to jail on account of some unpaid debt, leaving him there to enjoy the comfortable reflection that his wife and children were starving at home. A dentist soon supplied the invalid with three teeth, which he had pulled out of an indigent poet's head at the rate of ten stivers apiece, but for which he prudently charged the rich merchant one hundred dollars. The doctor, upon examining his leg, and recollecting that he was at that moment rather in want of a subject, cut it carefully off, and took it away with him in his carriage to lecture upon it to his pupils. So
Mynheer Wodenblock, considering that he had been hitherto accustomed to walk and not to hop, and being, perhaps, somewhat prejudiced in favour of the former mode of locomotion, sent for our friend at the canal basin, in order that he might give him directions about the representative with which he wished to be supplied for his lost member.
The artificer entered the wealthy burgher's apartment. He was reclining on a couch, with his left leg looking as respectable as ever, but with his unhappy right stump wrapped up in bandages, as if conscious and ashamed of its own littleness. “Turningvort, you have heard of my misfortune; it has thrown me into a fever, and all Rotterdam into confusion ; but let that pass. You must make me a leg; and it must be the best leg, sir, you ever made in your life.” Turningvort bowed. “I do not care what it costs.” (Turningvort bowed yet lower,) "provided it outdoes every thing you have yet made of a similar sort. I am for none of your wooden spindleshanks. Make it of cork; let it be light and elastic, and cram it as full of springs as a watch. I know nothing of the business, and cannot be more specific in my directions; but this I am determined upon, that I shall have a leg as good as the one I have lost. I know such a thing is to be had, and if I get it from you, your reward is a thousand guineas." The Dutch Prometheus declared, that to please Mynheer Von Wodenblock, he would do more than human ingenuity had ever done before, and undertook to bring him, within six days, a leg which would laugh to scorn the mere common legs possessed by common men.
This assurance was not meant as an idle boast. Turningvort was a man of speculative as well as practical science, and there was a favourite discovery which he had long been endeavouring to make, and in accomplishing which he imagined he had at last succeeded that very morning. Like all other manufacturers of terrestrial legs, he had ever found the chief difficulty in his progress towards perfection to consist in its being apparently impossible to introduce into them any thing in the shape of joints, capable of being regulated by the will, and of performing those important functions achieved under the present system, by means of the admirable mechanism of the knee and ankle. Our philosopher had spent years in endeavouring to obviate this grand inconvenience, and though he had undoubtedly made greater progress than any body else, it was not till now that he believed himself completely master of the great secret. His first attempt to carry it into execution was to be in the leg he was about to make for Mynheer Von Wodenblock.
It was on the evening of the sixth day from that to which I have already alluded, that with this magic leg, carefully packed up, the acute artizan again made his appearance before the expecting and impatient Wodenblock. There was a proud twinkle in Turningvort's grey eye, which seemed to indicate that he valued even the thousand guineas, which he intended for Blanche's marriage-portion, less than the celebrity, the glory, the immortality, of which he was at length so sure.
He untied the precious bundle, and spent some hours in displaying and explaining to the delighted burgher the number of additions he had made to the internal machinery, and the purpose which each was intended to serve. The evening wore away in these discussions concerning wheels within wheels, and springs acting upon springs. When it was time to retire to rest, both were equally satisfied of the perfection of the work; and at his employer's earnest request, the artist consented to remain where he was for the
night, in order that early next morning he might fit on the limb, and see how it performed its duty.
Early next morning all the necessary arrangements were completed, and Mynheer Von Wodenblock walked forth to the street in ecstacy, blessing the inventive powers of one who was able to make so excellent a hand of his leg. It seemed indeed to act to admiration. In the merchant's mode of walking, there was no stiffness, no effort, no constraint; all the joints performed their office without the aid of either bone or muscle. Nobody, not even a connoisseur in lameness, would have suspected that there was any thing uncommon, any great collection of accurately adjusted clockwork under the full well-slashed pantaloons of the substantial-looking Dutchman. Had it not been for a slight tremulous motion occasioned by the rapid whirling of about twenty small wheels in the interior, and a con.. stant clicking, like that of a watch, though somewhat louder, he would even himself have forgotten that he was not, in all respects, as he used to be, before he lifted his right foot to bestow a parting benediction on his
He walked along in the renovated buoyancy of his spirits till he came in sight of the Stadt House; and just at the foot of the flight of steps that lead up to the principal door, he saw his old friend, Mynheer Vanoutern, waiting to receive him. He quickened his pace, and both mutually held out their hands to each other by way of congratulation, before they were near enough to be clasped in a friendly embrace. At last the merchant reached the spot where Vanoutern stood; but what was that worthy man's astonishment to see him, though he still held out his hand, pass quickly by, without stopping, even for a moment, to say, “How d’ye do?" But this seeming want of politeness arose from no fault of our hero's. His own astonishment was a thousand times greater, when he found that he had no power whatever to determine either when, where, or how his leg was to move. So long as his own wishes happened to coincide with the manner which the machinery seemed destined to operate, all had gone on smoothly; and he had mistaken his own tacit compliance with its independent and self-acting powers for a command over it, which he now found he did not possess. It had been his most anxious desire to stop to speak with Mynheer Vanoutern, but his leg moved on, and he found himself under the necessity of following it. Many an attempt did he make to slacken his pace, but every attempt was vain. He caught hold of the rails, walls, and houses, but his leg tugged so violently, that he was afraid of dislocating his arms, and was obliged to go on. He began to get seriously uneasy as to the consequences of this most unexpected turn which matters had taken; and his only hope was, that the amazing and unknown powers, which the complicated construction of his leg seemed to possess, would speedily exhaust themselves. Of this, however, he could as yet discover no symptoms.
He happened to be going in the direction of the Leyden canal, and when he arrived in sight of Mynheer Turningvort's house, he called loudly upon the artificer to come to his assistance. The artificer looked out from his window with a face of wonder. “ Villain !" cried Wodenblock, “come out to me this instant!—You have made me a leg with a vengeance l-It won't stand still for a moment. I have been walking straight forward ever since I left my own house, and unless you stop me yourself, Heaven only knows how much farther I may walk. Don't stand gaping there,
but come out and relieve me, or I shall be out of sight, and you
will not be able to overtake me.” The mechanician grew very pale; he was evidently not prepared for this new difficulty. He lost not a moment, however, in following the merchant, to do what he could towards extricating him from so awkward a predicament. The merchant, or rather the merchant's leg was walking very quick, and Turningvort, being an elderly man, found it no easy matter to make up to him. He did so at last, nevertheless, and, catching him in his arms, lifted him entirely from the ground. But the stratagem (if so it may be called) did not succeed, for the innate propelling motion of the leg hurried him along with his burden at the same rate as before. He set him therefore down again, and stooping, pressed violently on one of the springs that protruded a little behind. In an instant the unhappy Mynheer Von Wodenblock was off
' like an arrow, calling out in the most piteous accents—"I am lost! I am lost! I am possessed by a devil in the shape of a cork leg! Stop me! for Heaven's sake stop me! I am breathless—I am fainting! Will nobody shatter my leg to pieces? Turningvort! Turningvort! you have murdered me!" The artist, perplexed and confounded, was hardly in a situation more to be envied.Scarcely knowing what he did, he fell upon his knees, clasped his hands, and with straining and staring eyeballs, looked after the richest merchant in Rotterdam, running with the speed of an enraged buffalo, away along the canal towards Leyden, and bellowing for help as loudly as his exhaustion would permit.
Leyden is more than twenty miles from Rotterdam, but the sun had not yet set, when the Misses Backsneider, who were sitting at their parlour window, immediately opposite the “Golden Lion,” drinking tea, and nodding to their friends as they passed, saw some one coming at furious speed along the street. His face was pale as ashes, and he gasped fearfully for breath ; but without turning either to the right or the left, he hurried by at the same rapid rate, and was out of sight almost before they had time to exclaim, “Good gracious! was not that Mynheer Von Wodenblock, the rich merchant of Rotterdam?"
Next day was Sunday. The inhabitants of Haarlem were all going to church, in their best attire, to say their prayers, and hear their great organ, when a being rushed across the market-place, like an animated corpsewhite, blue, cold, and speechless, his eyes fixed, his lips livid, his teeth set, and his hands clenched. Every one cleared a way for it in silent horror; and there was not a person in Haarlem who did not believe it a dead body endowed with the power of motion.
On it went through village and town, towards the great wilds and forests of Germany. Weeks, months, years, passed on, but at intervals the horrible shape was seen, and still continues to be seen, in various parts of the north of Europe. The clothes, however, which he who was once Mynheer Von Wodenblock used to wear, have all mouldered away; the flesh, too, has fallen from his bones, and he is now a skeleton—a skeleton in all but the cork leg, which still, in its original rotundity and size, continues attached to the spectral form, a perpetuum mobile, dragging the wearied bones for ever and for ever over the earth!
May all good saints protect us from broken legs! and may there never again appear a mechanician like Turningvort, to supply us with cork substitutes of so awful and mysterious a power. [Cham. Ed. Jour.