The philologist was much struck with this discovery, and begged Mervale’s permission to note it down as an illustration suitable to a work he was about to publish on the origin of languages, to be called “Babel,” and published in three quartos by subscription.
Learn to be poor in spirit, my son, if you would penetrate that sacred night which environs truth. Learn of the Sages to allow to the Devils no power in Nature, since the fatal stone has shut ’em up in the depth of the abyss. Learn of the Philosophers always to look for natural causes in all extraordinary events; and when such natural causes are wanting, recur to God.—The Count de Gabalis.
All these additions to his knowledge of Zanoni, picked up in the various lounging-places and resorts that he frequented, were unsatisfactory to Glyndon. That night Viola did not perform at the theatre; and the next day, still disturbed by bewildered fancies, and averse to the sober and sarcastic companionship of Mervale, Glyndon sauntered musingly into the public gardens, and paused under the very tree under which he had first heard the voice that had exercised upon his mind so singular an influence. The gardens were deserted. He threw himself on one of the seats placed beneath the shade; and again, in the midst of his reverie, the same cold shudder came over him which Zanoni had so distinctly defined, and to which he had ascribed so extraordinary a cause.
He roused himself with a sudden effort, and started to see, seated next him, a figure hideous enough to have personated one of the malignant beings of whom Zanoni had spoken. It was a small man, dressed in a fashion strikingly at variance with the elaborate costume of the day: an affectation of homeliness and poverty approaching to squalor, in the loose trousers, coarse as a ship’s sail; in the rough jacket, which appeared rent wilfully into holes; and the black, ragged, tangled locks that streamed from their confinement under a woollen cap, accorded but ill with other details which spoke of comparative wealth. The shirt, open at the throat, was fastened by a brooch of gaudy stones; and two pendent massive gold chains announced the foppery of two watches.
The man’s figure, if not absolutely deformed, was yet marvellously ill-favoured; his shoulders high and square; his chest flattened, as if crushed in; his gloveless hands were knotted at the joints, and, large, bony, and muscular, dangled from lean, emaciated wrists, as if not belonging to them. His features had the painful distortion sometimes seen in the countenance of a cripple,—large, exaggerated, with the nose nearly touching the chin; the eyes small, but glowing with a cunning fire as they dwelt on Glyndon; and the mouth was twisted into a grin that displayed rows of jagged, black, broken teeth. Yet over this frightful face there still played a kind of disagreeable intelligence, an expression at once astute and bold; and as Glyndon, recovering from the first impression, looked again at his neighbour, he blushed at his own dismay, and recognised a French artist, with whom he had formed an acquaintance, and who was possessed of no inconsiderable talents in his calling.