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The Last Man eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 520 pages of information about The Last Man.

I have heard that the sight of the dead has confirmed materialists in their belief.  I ever felt otherwise.  Was that my child—­that moveless decaying inanimation?  My child was enraptured by my caresses; his dear voice cloathed with meaning articulations his thoughts, otherwise inaccessible; his smile was a ray of the soul, and the same soul sat upon its throne in his eyes.  I turn from this mockery of what he was.  Take, O earth, thy debt! freely and for ever I consign to thee the garb thou didst afford.  But thou, sweet child, amiable and beloved boy, either thy spirit has sought a fitter dwelling, or, shrined in my heart, thou livest while it lives.

We placed his remains under a cypress, the upright mountain being scooped out to receive them.  And then Clara said, “If you wish me to live, take me from hence.  There is something in this scene of transcendent beauty, in these trees, and hills and waves, that for ever whisper to me, leave thy cumbrous flesh, and make a part of us.  I earnestly entreat you to take me away.”

So on the fifteenth of August we bade adieu to our villa, and the embowering shades of this abode of beauty; to calm bay and noisy waterfall; to Evelyn’s little grave we bade farewell! and then, with heavy hearts, we departed on our pilgrimage towards Rome.

[1] Mary Wollstonecraft’s Letters from Norway. [2] Solomon’s Song.

CHAPTER IX.

Now—­soft awhile—­have I arrived so near the end?  Yes! it is all over now—­a step or two over those new made graves, and the wearisome way is done.  Can I accomplish my task?  Can I streak my paper with words capacious of the grand conclusion?  Arise, black Melancholy! quit thy Cimmerian solitude!  Bring with thee murky fogs from hell, which may drink up the day; bring blight and pestiferous exhalations, which, entering the hollow caverns and breathing places of earth, may fill her stony veins with corruption, so that not only herbage may no longer flourish, the trees may rot, and the rivers run with gall—­but the everlasting mountains be decomposed, and the mighty deep putrify, and the genial atmosphere which clips the globe, lose all powers of generation and sustenance.  Do this, sad visaged power, while I write, while eyes read these pages.

And who will read them?  Beware, tender offspring of the re-born world—­ beware, fair being, with human heart, yet untamed by care, and human brow, yet unploughed by time—­beware, lest the cheerful current of thy blood be checked, thy golden locks turn grey, thy sweet dimpling smiles be changed to fixed, harsh wrinkles!  Let not day look on these lines, lest garish day waste, turn pale, and die.  Seek a cypress grove, whose moaning boughs will be harmony befitting; seek some cave, deep embowered in earth’s dark entrails, where no light will penetrate, save that which struggles, red and flickering, through a single fissure, staining thy page with grimmest livery of death.

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