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Keywords 2 , 5 , , , burney , difficulties , fanny , female , fiction , france , historical , history , refugees , revolution , stories , volume , wanderer Listed In History More From Fanny Burney. The Wanderer; or, Female Age Verification The page you are attempting to access contains content that is not intended for underage readers.
Please verify your birth date to continue. Month January February March April May June July August September October November December Day 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 Year He was in complete darkness; the horror of his situation struck him at once, and for a moment he was indeed almost qualified for an inmate of that dreadful mansion. He felt his way to the door, shook it with desperate strength, and uttered the most frightful cries, mixed with expostulations and commands.
His cries were in a moment echoed by a hundred voices.
In maniacs there is a peculiar malignity, accompanied by an extraordinary acuteness of some of the senses, particularly in distinguishing the voice of a stranger. The cries that he heard on every side seemed like a wild and infernal yell of joy, that their mansion of misery had obtained another tenant. He paused, exhausted,—a quick and thundering step was heard in the passage. The door was opened, and a man of savage appearance stood at the entrance,—two more were seen indistinctly in the passage.
The lads are ready for you with the darbies, and they'll clink them on in the crack of this whip, unless you prefer another touch of it first. Their harsh rattle on the stone pavement made Stanton's blood run cold; the effect, however, was useful. He had the presence of mind to acknowledge his supposed miserable condition, to supplicate the forbearance of the ruthless keeper, and promise complete submission to his orders.
This pacified the ruffian, and he retired. Stanton collected all his resolution to encounter the horrible night; he saw all that was before him, and summoned himself to meet it. After much agitated deliberation, he conceived it best to continue the same appearance of submission and tranquillity, hoping that thus he might in time either propitiate the wretches in whose hands he was, or, by his apparent inoffensiveness, procure such opportunities of indulgence, as might perhaps ultimately facilitate his escape. He therefore determined to conduct himself with the utmost tranquillity, and never to let his voice be heard in the house; and he laid down several other resolutions with a degree of prudence which he already shuddered to think might be the cunning of incipient madness, or the beginning result of the horrid habits of the place.
These resolutions were put to desperate trial that very night. Just next to Stanton's apartment were lodged two most uncongenial neighbours. One of them was a puritanical weaver, who had been driven mad by a single sermon from the celebrated Hugh Peters, and was sent to the mad-house as full of election and reprobation as he could hold,—and fuller. He regularly repeated over the five points while day-light lasted, and imagined himself preaching in a conventicle with distinguished success; towards twilight his visions were more gloomy, and at midnight his blasphemies became horrible.
In the opposite cell was lodged a loyalist tailor, who had been ruined by giving credit to the cavaliers and their ladies,— for at this time, and much later, down to the reign of Anne, tailors were employed by females even to make and fit on their stays ,— who had run mad with drink and loyalty on the burning of the Rump, and ever since had made the cells of the madhouse echo with fragments of the ill-fated Colonel Lovelace's songs, scraps from Cowley's 'Cutter of Coleman street,' and some curious specimens from Mrs Aphra Behn's plays, where the cavaliers are denominated the heroicks, and Lady Lambert and Lady Desborough represented as going to meeting, their large Bibles carried before them by their pages, and falling in love with two banished cavaliers by the way.
The weaver could contain no longer.
It was the man's such was the indecent language in which Charles the First was Spoken of by the Puritans —it was the man's carnal, self-seeking, World-loving, prelatical hierarchy, that drove the godly to seek the sweet word in season from their own pastors, who righteously abominated the Popish garniture of lawn-sleeves, lewd organs, and steeple houses. Sister Ruth, tempt me not with that calf's head, it is all streaming with blood;—drop it, I beseech thee, sister, it is unmeet in a woman's hand, though the brethren drink of it. It was the voice of a maniac, who had lost her husband, children, subsistence, and finally her reason, in the dreadful fire of London.
The cry of fire never failed to operate with terrible punctuality on her associations. She had been in a disturbed sleep, and now started from it as suddenly as on that dreadful night. It was Saturday night, too, and she was always observed to be particularly violent on that night,—it was the terrible weekly festival of insanity with her. She was awake, and busy in a moment escaping from the flames; and she dramatized the whole scene with such hideous fidelity, that Stanton's resolution was far more in danger from her than from the battle between his neighbours Testimony and Hothead.
She began exclaiming she was suffocated by the smoke; then she sprung from her bed, calling for a light, and appeared to be struck by the sudden glare that burst through her casement. The very heavens are on fire! She exclaimed she was scorched, singed, suffocated; her courage appeared to fail, and she retreated.
They are all blazing! The maniac marked the destruction of the spot where she thought she stood by one desperate bound, accompanied by a wild shriek, and then calmly gazed on her infants as they rolled over the scorching fragments, and sunk into the abyss of fire below. She seemed to listen to their complaints, and even repeated some of them very affectingly, but invariably answered them with the same words, 'But I have lost all my children— all!
The cry of nature hushed every other cry,—she was the only patient in the house who was not mad from politics, religion, ebriety, or some perverted passion; and terrifying as the outbreak of her frenzy always was, Stanton used to await it as a kind of relief from the dissonant, melancholy, and ludicrous ravings of the others. But the utmost efforts of his resolution began to sink under the continued horrors of the place. The impression on his senses began to defy the power of reason to resist them.
He could not shut out these frightful cries nightly repeated, nor the frightful sound of the whip employed to still them. Hope began to fail him, as he observed, that the submissive tranquillity which he had imagined, by obtaining increased indulgence, might contribute to his escape, or perhaps convince the keeper of his sanity was interpreted by the callous ruffian, who was acquainted only with the varieties of madness, as a more refined species of that cunning which he was well accustomed to watch and baffle.
On his first discovery of his situation, he had determined to take the utmost care of his health and intellect that the place allowed, as the sole basis of his hope of deliverance. But as that hope declined, he neglected the means of realizing it. He had at first risen early, walked incessantly about his cell, and availed himself of every opportunity of being in the open air. He took the strictest care of his person in point of cleanliness, and with or without appetite, regularly forced down his miserable meals; and all these efforts were even pleasant, as long as hope prompted them.
But now he began to relax them all. He passed half the day in his wretched bed, in which he frequently took his meals, declined shaving or changing his linen, and, when the sun shone into his cell, turned from it on his straw with a sigh of heart-broken despondency. Formerly, when the air breathed through his grating, he used to say, 'Blessed air of heaven, I shall breathe you once more in freedom! The twitter of the sparrows, the pattering of rain, or the moan of the wind, sounds that he used to sit up in his bed to catch with delight, as reminding him of nature, were now unheeded.
He began at times to listen with sullen and horrible pleasure to the cries of his miserable companions. He became squalid, listless, torpid, and disgusting in his appearance. It was one of those dismal nights, that, as he tossed on his loathsome bed,—more loathsome from the impossibility to quit it without feeling more 'unrest,'—he perceived the miserable light that burned in the hearth was obscured by the intervention of some dark object. He turned feebly towards the light, without curiosity, without excitement, but with a wish to diversify the monotony of his misery, by observing the slightest change made even accidentally in the dusky atmosphere of his cell.
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Between him and the light stood the figure of Melmoth, just as he had seen him from the first; the figure was the same; the expression of the face was the same,—cold, stony, and rigid; the eyes, with their infernal and dazzling lustre, were still the same. Stanton's ruling passion rushed on his soul; he felt this apparition like a summons to a high and fearful encounter. He heard his heart beat audibly, and could have exclaimed with Lee's unfortunate heroine,—'It pants as cowards do before a battle; Oh the great march has sounded!
Melmoth approached him with that frightful calmness that mocks the terror it excites. He thought to himself, 'How could he have gained entrance here? His intellects had become affected by the gloom of his miserable habitation, as the wretched inmate of a similar mansion, when produced before a medical examiner, was reported to be a complete Albinos. Such was Stanton's situation; he was enfeebled now, and the power of the enemy seemed without a possibility of opposition from either his intellectual or corporeal powers.
Of all their horrible dialogue, only these words were legible in the manuscript, 'You know me now. Believe me, were you folded in thunderclouds, you must hear me! Stanton, think of your misery.