The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 461 pages of information about The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories.

After a consultation, Mr. Justice Wadsworth said: 

’Several of us have arrived at the conclusion, your Excellency, that it would be an error to hang the prisoner for killing Szczepanik, instead of for killing the other man, since it is proven that he did not kill Szczepanik.’

’On the contrary, it is proven that he did kill Szczepanik.  By the French precedent, it is plain that we must abide by the finding of the court.’

‘But Szczepanik is still alive.’

‘So is Dreyfus.’

In the end it was found impossible to ignore or get around the French precedent.  There could be but one result:  Clayton was delivered over for the execution.  It made an immense excitement; the State rose as one man and clamored for Clayton’s pardon and retrial.  The governor issued the pardon, but the Supreme Court was in duty bound to annul it, and did so, and poor Clayton was hanged yesterday.  The city is draped in black, and, indeed, the like may be said of the State.  All America is vocal with scorn of ‘French justice,’ and of the malignant little soldiers who invented it and inflicted it upon the other Christian lands.

[1] Pronounced (approximately) Shepannik.



I have a project to suggest.  But first I will write a chapter of introduction.

I have just been witnessing a remarkable play, here at the Burg Theatre in Vienna.  I do not know of any play that much resembles it.  In fact, it is such a departure from the common laws of the drama that the name ‘play’ doesn’t seem to fit it quite snugly.  However, whatever else it may be, it is in any case a great and stately metaphysical poem, and deeply fascinating.  ‘Deeply fascinating’ is the right term:  for the audience sat four hours and five minutes without thrice breaking into applause, except at the close of each act; sat rapt and silent —­fascinated.  This piece is ‘The Master of Palmyra.’  It is twenty years old; yet I doubt if you have ever heard of it.  It is by Wilbrandt, and is his masterpiece and the work which is to make his name permanent in German literature.  It has never been played anywhere except in Berlin and in the great Burg Theatre in Vienna.  Yet whenever it is put on the stage it packs the house, and the free list is suspended.  I know people who have seem it ten times; they know the most of it by heart; they do not tire of it; and they say they shall still be quite willing to go and sit under its spell whenever they get the opportunity.

There is a dash of metempsychosis in it—­and it is the strength of the piece.  The play gave me the sense of the passage of a dimly connected procession of dream-pictures.  The scene of it is Palmyra in Roman times.  It covers a wide stretch of time—­I don’t know how many years—­and in the course of it the chief actress is reincarnated several times:  four times she is a more or less young woman, and once she is a lad.  In the first act she is Zoe—­a Christian girl who has wandered across the desert from Damascus to try to Christianise the Zeus-worshipping pagans of Palmyra.  In this character she is wholly spiritual, a religious enthusiast, a devotee who covets martyrdom—­and gets it.

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The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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