The fall of the house of Usher

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Title:
The fall of the house of Usher
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Creator:
Poe, Edgar Allan, 1809-1849
Blue Sky Press
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Blue Sky Press ( Chicago )
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UNIVERSITY
OF FLORIDA
LIBRARIES







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COLLECTIONS
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THE FALL OF
THE HOVSE OF
EDGAR ALLAN POE









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Copyright 1903 by
Alfred G. Langworthy











SoAn coeur est un luith
suspend; sit6t qubn Ie
touche il r6sonne. 'q
.Bdranqjer




















URING the whole of a dull,
dark, and soundless day in the
Autumn of the year, when t1le
clouds hung oppressively low
in the heavens, I had been passing alone,
on horseback,through a singularly dreary
tra& of country; and at length found my-
self, as the shades of the evening drew on,
within view of the melancholy House of
Usher.
I know not how it was-but, with
the first glimpse of the building, a sense
of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit.
I say insufferable; for the feeling was








14 ~e$$e dAeofflt(e
unrelieved by any of that half-pleasur-
urable, because poetic, sentiment with
which the mind usually receives even the
sternest natural images of the desolate or
terrible. I looked upon the scene before
me upon the mere house, and the sim-
ple landscape features of the domain, up-
on the bleak walls, upon the vacant eye-
like windows, upon a few rank sedges,
and upon a few white trunks of decayed
trees -with an utter depression of soul
which I can compare to no earthly sensa-
tion more properly than to the after-
dream of the reveller upon opium; the
bitter lapse into every-day life, the hid-
eous dropping off of the veil. There was
an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the
heart, an unredeemed dreariness of
thought which no goading of the imag-
ination could torture into aught of the
sublime. What was it I paused to think
what was it that so unnerved me in
the contemplation of the House of
Usher? It was a mystery all insoluble;
nor could I grapple with the shadowy








J oure of Lcr 15
fancies that crowded upon me as I pon-
dered. I was forced to fall back upon the
unsatisfa&ory conclusion, that while, be-
yond doubt, there are combinations of
very simple natural objets which have
the power of thus affe&ing us still the
analysis of this power lies among consid-
erations beyond our depth. It was possi-
ble, I refleded, that a mere different ar-
rangement of the particulars of the scene,
ofthe details of the picture, would be suf-
ficient to modify, or perhaps to annihi-
late, its capacity for sorrowful impres-
sion; and ading upon this idea, I reined
my horse to the precipitous brink of a
black and lurid tarn that lay in unruffled
lustre by the dwelling, and gazed down
b-but with a shudder even more thrill-
ing than before- upon the remodelled
and inverted images of the gray sedge,
and the ghastly tree-stems, and the vacant
and eye-like windows.
Nevertheless, in this mansion of
gloom I now proposed to myself sojourn
of some weeks. Its proprietor, Roderick


ILL








16 e t Scdf of et
Usher, had been one of my boon com-
panions in boyhood; but many years had
elapsed since our last meeting. A letter,
however, had lately reached me in a dis-
tant part of the country -a letter from
him -which in its wildly importunate
nature had admitted of no other than a
personal reply. The MS. gave evidence
of nervous agitation. The writer spoke
of acute bodily illness, of a mental dis-
order which oppressed him, and of an
earnest desire to see me, as his best and
indeed his only personal friend, with a
view of attempting, by the cheerfulness
of my society, some alleviation of his
malady. It was the manner in which all
this, and much more, was said -- it was
the apparent heart that went with his re-
quest- which allowed me no room for
hesitation; and I accordingly obeyed
forthwith what I still considered a very
singular summons.
Although as boys we had been even
intimate associates, yet I really knew lit-
tle of my friend. His reserve had been al-








Souge of @Soer 17
ways:excessive and habitual. I. was aware,
however, that his very ancient family had?
been noted, time out of mind, for a pecu-
liar sensibility of temperament, display-
ing itself, through long ages, in many
works of exalted art, and manifested of
late in repeated deeds of munificent yet
unobstrusive charity, as well as in a pas-
sionate devotion to the intricacies, per-
haps even more than to the orthodox and
easily recognizable beauties, of musical
science. I had learned, too, the very re-
markable fad that the stem of the Usher
race, all time-honored as it was, had put
forth at no period any enduring branch;
in other words, that the entire family lay
in the dired line of descent, and had al-
ways, with very trifling and very tempor-
ary variation, so lain. It was this deficien-
cy, I considered, while running over in
thought. the perfed keeping of the char-
ader of the premises with the accredited
charader of the people, and while specu-
lating upon the possible influence which
the one, in the long lapse of centuries,





might have exercised upon the other-
it was this deficiency, perhaps, of collat-
eral issue, and the consequent undeviat-
ing transmission from sire to son of the
patrimony with the name, which had, at
length, so identified the two as to merge
the original title of the estate in the
quaint and equivocal appellation of the
"House, of Usher"-- an appellation
which seemed to include, in the minds
of the peasantry who used it, both the
family and the family mansion.
I have said that the sole effect of my
somewhat childish experiment, that of
looking down within the tarn, had been
to deepen the first singular impression.
There can be no doubt that the conscious-
ness of the rapid increase of my supersti-
tion for why should I not so term it ?-
served mainly to accelerate the increase
itself. Such, I have long known, is the
paradoxical law of all sentiments having
terror as a basis. And it might have been
for this reason only, that, when I again
uplifted my eyes to the house itself, from








gouge of Q Jer 19
its image in the pool, there grew in my
mind a strange fancy- a fancy so ridicu-
lous, indeed, that I but mention it to show
the vivid force of the sensations which
oppressed me. I had so worked upon my
imagination as really to believe that about
the whole mansion and domain there
hung an atmosphere peculiar to them-
selves and their immediate vicinity: an
atmosphere which had no affinity with
the air of heaven, but which had reeked
up from the decayed trees, and the gray
wall, and the silent tarn: a pestilent and
mystic vapor, dull, sluggish, faintly dis-
cernible, and leaden-hued.
Shaking off from my spirit what must
have been a dream, I scanned more nar-
rowly the real aspect of the building. Its
principal feature seemed to be that of an
excessive antiquity. The discoloration of
ages had been great. Minute fungi over-
spread the whole exterior, hanging in a
fine tangled web-work from the eaves.
Yet all this was apart from any extraor-
dinary dilapidation. No portion of the


4111- -7w '' I - -





20 t f of te
masonry had fallen; and there appeared
to be a wild inconsistency between its
still perfed adaption of parts and the
crumbling condition of the individual
stones. In this there was much that re-
minded me of the specious totality of old
wood-work which has rotted for long
years in some negleded vault, with no
disturbance from the breath of the exter-
nal air. Beyond this indication of exten-
sive decay, however, the fabric gave little
token of instability. Perhaps the eye of a
scrutinizing observer might have discov-
ered a barely perceptible fissure, which,
extending from the roof of the building
in front, made its way down the wall in
a zigzag diredion, until it became lost in
the sullen waters of the tarn.
Noticing these things, I rode over a
short causeway to the house. A servant in
waiting took my horse, and I entered the
Gothic archway of the hall. A valet, of
stealthy step, thence conduded me, in si-
lence, through many dark and intricate
passages in my progress to the studio of








J5ouse of (QU er 21
his master. Much that I encountered on
the way contributed, I know not how, to
heighten the vague sentiments of which
I have already spoken. While the objeds
around me- while the carvings of the
ceilings, the sombre tapestries of the
walls, the ebon blackness of the floors,
and the phantasmagoric armorial tro-
phies which rattled as I strode, were but
matters to which, or to such as which, I
had been accustomed from my infancy--
while I hesitated not to acknowledge how
familiar was all this I still wondered to
find how unfamiliar were the fancies
which ordinary images were stirring up.
On one of the staircases, I met the physi-
cian of the family. His countenance, I
thought, wore a mingled expression of
low cunning and perplexity. He accosted
me with trepidation and passed on. The
valet now threw open a door and ushered
me into the presence of his master.
The room in which I found myself
was very large and lofty. The windows
were long, narrow, and pointed, and at so








22 'e o a1?tortf6 e
vast a distance from the black oaken floor
as to be altogether inaccessible from with-
in. Feeble gleams of encrimsoned light
made their way through the trellised
panes, and served to render sufficiently
distinda the more prominent objects
around; the eye, however, struggled in
vain to reach the remoter angles of the
chamber, or the recesses of the vaulted
and fretted ceiling. Dark draperies hung
upon the walls. The general furniture
was profuse, comfortless, antique, and
tattered. Many books and musical instru-
ments lay scattered about, but failed to
give any vitality to the scene. I felt that
I breathed an atmosphere of sorrow. An
air of stern, deep, and irredeemnable
gloom hung over and pervaded all.
Upon my entrance, Usher arose from
a sofa on which he had been lying at full
length, and greeted me with a vivacious
warmth which had much in it, I at first
thought, of an overdone cordiality -of
the constrained effort of the ennuyeman
of the world. A glance, however, at his








J5oute of (Ue* 23
countenance, convinced me of his perfect
sincerity. We sat down; and for some
moments, while he spoke not, I gazed
upon him with a feeling half of pity, half
of awe. Surely man had never before so
terribly altered, in so brief a period, as
had Roderick Usher! It was with diffi-
culty that I could bring myself to admit
the identity of the wan being before me
with the companion ofmy early boyhood.
Yet the character of his face had been at
all times remarkable. A cadaverousness
of complexion; an eye large, liquid, and
luminous beyond comparison; lips some-
what thin and very pallid, but of a sur-
passingly beautiful curve; a nose of a del-
icate Hebrew model, but with a breadth
of nostril unusual in similar formations;
a finely moulded chin, speaking, in its
want of prominence, of a want of moral
energy; hair of a more than web-like
softness and tenuity; these features, with
an inordinate expansion above the
regions of the temple, made up alto-
gether a countenance not easily to be for-








24 $OAC oft
gotten. And now in the mere exaggera-
tion of the prevailing character of these
features, and of the expression they were
wont to convey, lay so much of change
that I doubted to whom I spoke. The
now ghastly pallor of the skin, and the
now miraculous, lustre of the eye, above
all things startled and even awed me.
The silken hair, too, had been suffered to
grow all unheeded, and as, in its wild
gossamer texture, it floated rather than
fell about the face, I could, not even with
effort, conned its arabesque expression
with any idea of simple humanity.
In the manner of my friend I was at
once struck with an incoherence, an in-
consistency; and I soon found this to
arise from a series of feeble and futile
struggles to overcome an habitual trepid-
ancy, an excessive nervous agitation. For
something of this nature I had indeed
been prepared, no less by his letter than
by reminiscences of certain boyish traits,
and by conclusions deduced from his pe-
culiar physical conformation and tem-








3jouse of Qs4er 25
perament. His action was alternately vi-
vacious and sullen. His voice varied rap-
idly from a tremulous indecision (when
the animal spirits seemed utterly in abey-
ance) to that species of energetic con-
cision that abrupt, weighty, unhur-
ried, and hollow-sounding enunciation
- that leaden, self-balanced and perfet&-
ly modulated guttural utterance which
may be observed in the lost drunkard, or
the irreclaimable eater of opium, during
the periods of his most intense excite-
ment.
It was thus that he spoke of the object
of my visit, of his earnest desire to see me,
and of the solace he expected me to afford
him. He entered, at some length, into
what he conceived to be the nature of his
malady. It was, he said, a constitutional
and a family evil, and one for which he
despaired to find a remedy a mere ner-
vous affection, he immediately added,
which would undoubtedly soon pass off.
It displayed itself in a host of unnatural
sensations. Some of these, as he detailed





26 ZVCe $iYof te
them, interested and bewildered me; al-
though, perhaps, the terms and the gen-
eral manner of the narration had their
weight. He suffered much from a mor-
bid acuteness of the senses; the most in-
sipid food was alone endurable; he could
wear only garments of certain texture;
the odors of all flowers were oppressive;
his eyes were tortured by even a faint
light; and there were but peculiar sounds,
and these from stringed instruments,
which did not inspire him with horror.
To an anomalous species of terror I
found him a bounden slave. "I shall per-
ish," said he, "I must perish in this de-
plorable folly. Thus, thus, and not other-
wise, shall I be lost. I dread the events of
the future, not in themselves, but in their
results. I shudder at the thought of any,
even the most trivial, incident, which
may operate upon this intolerable agita-
tion of soul. I have, indeed, no abhor-
rence of danger, except in its absolute ef-
fect--in terror. In this unnerved--in
this pitiable condition, I feel that the








Souse of (QsI"r 27.
period will sooner or later arrive when I
must abandon life and reason together, in
some struggle with the grim phantasm,
FEAR."
I learned moreover at intervals, and
through broken and equivocal hints, an-
other singular feature of his mental con-
dition. He was enchained by certain su-
perstitious impressions in regard to the
dwelling which he tenanted, and
whence, for many years, he had never
ventured forth- in regard to an influ-
ence whose supposititious force was con-
veyed in terms too shadowy here to be re-
stated- an influence which some pecu-
liarities in the mere form and substance
of his family mansion, had, by dint of
long sufferance, he said, obtained over
his spirit-an effect which the physique
of the gray walls and turrets, and of the
dim tarn into which they all looked
down, had, at length, brought about
upon the morale of his existence.
He admitted, however, although with
hesitation, that much of the peculiar








28 Ze O t? Of f(3e
gloom which thus afflicted him could be
traced to a more natural and far more
palpable origin to the severe and long-
continued illness, indeed to the evident-
ly approaching dissolution, of a tenderly
beloved sister-his sole companion for
long years, his last and only relative on
earth. "Her decease," he said, with a bit-
terness which I can never forget, "would
leave him (him the hopeless and the
frail) the last of the ancient race of the
Ushers." While he spoke, the lady Mad-
eline (for so was she called) passed slow-
ly through a remote portion of the apart-
ment, and, without having noticed my
presence, disappeared. I regarded her
with anutter astonishment not unmingled
with dread, and yet I found it impossible
to account for such feelings. A sensation
of stupor oppressed me, as my eyes fol-
lowed her retreating steps. When a door,
at length, closed upon her, my glance
sought instinctively and eagerly the coun-
tenance of the brother; but he had buried
his face in his hands, and I could only








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31ouse of @fser 29
perceive that a far more than ordinary
wanness had overspread the emaciated
fingers through which trickled many
passionate tears.
The disease of the lady Madeline had
long baffled the skill of her physicians.
A settled apathy, a gradual wasting away
of the person, and frequent although
transient affedions of a partially catalep-
tical character, were the unusual diag-
nosis. Hitherto she had steadily borne
up against the pressure of her malady,
and had not betaken herself finally to bed;
but, on the closing in of the evening of
my arrival at the house, she succumbed
(as her brother told me at night with in-
expressible agitation) to the prostrating
power of the destroyer; and I learned
that the glimpse I had obtained of her
person would thus probably be the last I
should obtain -that the lady, at least
while living, would be seen by me no
more.
For several days ensuing, her name
was unmentioned by either Usher or my-









30 tZet i of t(e
self; and during this period I was busied
in earnest endeavors to alleviate the mel-
ancholy of my friend. We painted and
read together; or I listened, as if in a
dream, to the wild improvisation of his
speaking guitar. And thus, as a closer
and still closer intimacy admitted me
more unreservedly into the recesses of
his spirit, the more bitterly did I per-
ceive the futility of all attempt at cheer-
ing a mind from which darkness, as if an
inherent positive quality, poured forth
upon all objects of the moral and physi-
cal universe, in one unceasing radiation
of gloom.
I shall ever bear about me a memory
of the many solemn hours I thus spent
alone with the master of the House of
Usher. Yet I should fail in any attempt
to convey an idea of the exact character
of the studies, or of the occupations, in
which he involved me, or led me the
way. An excited and highly distem-
pered ideality threw a sulphureous luster
over all. His long improvised dirges


I 1 1-1, --l- 11 I - I.- 1 -1 x - --, 'l-I - ` 11 z-, I I I - -_ ", I - 1 .1 1 777 .1 -Alum








35ouOe of % gJ"31
will ring forever in my ears. Among
other things, I hold painfully in mind a
certain singular perversion and amplifi-
cation of the wild air of the last waltz of
Von Weber. From the paintings over
which his elaborate fancy brooded, and
which grew, touch by touch, into vague-
nesses at which I shuddered the more
thrillingly because I shuddered knowing
not why;--from these paintings (vivid
as their images now are before me) I
would in vain endeavor to educe more
than a small portion which should lie
within the compass of merely written
words. By the utter simplicity, by the
nakedness of his designs, he arrested and
overawed attention. If ever mortal paint-
ed an idea, that mortal was Roderick
Usher. For me at least, in the circum-
stances then surrounding me, there arose,
out of the pure abstractions which the
hypochondriac contrived to throw upon
his canvas, an intensity of intolerable
awe, no shadow of which felt I ever yet
in the contemplation of the certainly





32' .ae 14f of tot
glowing yet too concrete reveries of Fu-
seli.
One of the phantasmagoric concep-
tions of my friend, partaking not so rig-
idly of the spirit of abstraction, may be
shadowed forth, although feebly, in
words. A small picture presented the
interior of an immensely long and red-
angular vault or tunnel, with low walls,
smooth, white, and without interrup-
tion or device. Certain accessory points
of the design served well to convey the
idea that this excavation lay at an exceed-
ing depth below the surface of the earth.
No outlet was observed in any portion
of its vast extent, and no torch or artificial
source of light was discernible; yet a
flood of intense rays rolled throughout,
and bathed the whole in a ghastly and
inappropriate splendour.
I have just spoken of that morbid con-
dition of the auditory nerve which ren-
dered all music intolerable to the suf-
ferer, with the exception of certain ef-
fects of stringed instruments. It was,








outse of (s 1 er 33
perhaps, the narrow limits to which he
thus confined himself upon the guitar,
which gave birth, in great measure, to the
fantastic charader of his performances.
But the fervid facility of his impromptus
could not be so accounted for. They
must have been, and were, in the notes,
as well as in the words of his wild fantas-
ias (for he not unfrequently accompanied
himself with rhymed verbal improvisa-
tions), the result of that intense mental
collectedness and concentration to which
I have previously alluded as observable
only in particular moments of the high-
est artificial excitement. The words of
one of these rhapsodies I have easily re-
membered. I was, perhaps, the more
forcibly impressed with it, as he gave it,
because, in the under or mystic current
of its meaning, I fancied that I perceiv-
ed, and for the first time, a full conscious-
ness, on the part of Usher, of the totter-
ing of his lofty reason upon her throne.
The verses, which were entitled "The
Haunted Palace," ran very nearly, if not









3o t feffof
accurately, thus:,
~I
In the greenest of our valleys
By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace
Radiant palace reared its head.
In the monarch Thought's dominion,
It stood there;
Never seraph spread a pinion
Over fabric half so fair.
II
Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
On its roof did float and flow,
(This all this was in the olden
Time long ago)
And every gentle air that dallied,
In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
A winged odor went away.
III
Wanderers in that happy valley
Through two luminous windows saw
Spirits moving musically
To a lute's well-tuned law,
Round about a throne where, sitting,
Porphyrogene,









gouse of %ofer 35
In state his glory well befitting,
The ruler of the realm was seen.
IV
And all with pearl and ruby glowing
Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing,
flowing,
And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes whose sweet duty
Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
The wit and wisdom of their king.
V
But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch's high estate;
(Ah, let us mourn, for never morrow
Shall dawn upon him, desolate!)
And round about his home the glory
That blushed and bloomed
Is but a dim-remembered story
Of the old time entombed.
VI
And travellers now within that valley
Through the red-litten windows see
Vast forms that move fantastically
To a discordant melody;









36 Zoe Scfe of (
While, like a ghastly rapid river,
Through the pale door
A hideous throng rush out forever,
And laugh but smile no more.
I well remember that suggestions aris-
ing from this ballad led us into a train of
thought, wherein there became manifest
an opinion of Usher's which I mention
not so much on account of its novelty,
(for other men* have thought thus,) as
on account of the pertinacity with which
he maintained it. This opinion, in its
general form, was that of the sentience of
all vegetable things. But in his disorder-
ed fancy the idea had assumed a more
daring character, and trespassed, under
certain conditions, upon the kingdom of
inorganization. I lack words to express
the full extent, or the earnest abandon of
his persuasion. The belief, however,
was connected (as I have previously hint-
ed) with the gray stones of the home of
*Watson, Dr. Percival, Spallanzani, and es-
pecially the Bishop of Landaff.-See "Chem-
ical Essays," vol. v.








15ouse of OJ% e 37
his forefathers. The conditions of the
sentience had been here, he imagined,
fulfilled in the method of collocation of
these stones--in the order of their ar-
rangement, as well as in that of the many
fungi which overspread them, and of the
decayed trees which stood around-
above all, in the long undisturbed endur-
ance of this arrangement, and in its re-
duplication in the still waters of the tarn.
Its evidence-the evidence of the sen-
tience-was to be seen, he said (and I
here started as he spoke), in the gradual
yet certain condensation of an atmos-
phere of their own about the waters and
the walls. The result was discoverable,
he added, in that silent, yet importunate
and terrible influence which for centuries
had moulded the destinies of his family,
and which made him what I now saw
him-what he was. Such opinions
need no comment, and I will make none.
Our books-the books which, for
years, had formed no small portion of
the mental existence of the invalid-








38 Ct, J$aof te
were, as might be supposed, in strict
keeping with this charader of phantasm.
We poured together over such works as
the Ververt and Chartreuse of Gresset;
the Belphegor of Machiavelli; the Hea-
ven and Hell ofSwedenborg; the Subter-
ranian Voyage of Nicholas Klimm by
Holberg; the Chiromancy of Robert
Flud, of Jean D'Indagine, and of De la
Chambre; the Journey into the Blue
Distance of Tieck; and the City of the
Sun of Campanella. One favorite vol-
ume was a small octavo edition of the
Directorium Inquisitorum, by the Domin-
ican Eymeric de Gironne; and there were
passages in Pomponius Mela, about the
old African Satyrs and IEgipans, over
which Usher would sit dreaming for
hours. His chief delight, however, was
found in the perusal of an exceedingly
rare and curious book in quarto Gothic
-the manual of a forgotten church
the Vigiliae Mortuorum secundum Chorum
Ecclesiae Maguntinae.
I could not help thinking of the wild








1ouae of o r ir"/ 39
ritual of this work, and of its probable in-
fluence upon the hypochondriac, when
one evening, having informed me abrupt-
ly that the lady Madeline was no more,
he stated his intention of preserving her
corpse for a fortnight, (previous to its
final interment,) in one of the numerous
vaults within the main walls of the build-
ing. The worldly reason, however, as-
signed for this singular proceeding, was
one which I did not feel at liberty to dis-
pute. The brother had been led to his
resolution (so he told me) by consider-
ation of the unusual character of the mal-
ady of the deceased, of certain obtrusive
and eager inquiries on the part of her
medical men, and of the remote and ex-
posed situation of the burial-ground of
the family. I will not deny that when
I called to mind the sinister countenance
of the person whom I met upon the stair-
case, on the day of my arrival at the
house, I had no desire to oppose what I
regarded as at best but a harmless, and by
no means an unnatural, precaution.








+0 Zoe $cie of (I
At the request of Usher, I personally
aided him in the arrangements for the
temporary entombment. The body hav-
ing been encoffined, we two alone bore
it to its rest. The vault in which we
placed it (and which had been so long
unopened that our torches, half smother-
ed in its oppressive atmosphere, gave us
little opportunity for investigation) was
small, damp, and entirely without means
of admission for light; lying, at great
depth, immediately beneath that portion
of the building in which was my own
sleeping apartment. It had been used,
apparently, in remote feudal times, for
the worst purposes of a donjon-keep, and
in later days as a place of deposit for pow-
der, or some other highly combustible
substance, as a portion of its floor, and
the whole interior of a long archway
through which we reached it, were care-
fully sheathed with copper. The door,
of massive iron, had been, also, similarly
protected. Its immense weight caused
an unusually sharp grating sound, as it














10ouse of (Qse"r 4
moved upon its hinges.
Having deposited our mournful bur-
den upon tressels within this region of
horror, we partially turned aside the yet
unscrewed lid of the coffin, and looked
upon the face of the tenant. A striking
similitude between the brother and sister
now first arrested my attention; and Ush-
er, divining, perhaps, my thoughts, mur-
mured out some few words from which
I learned that the deceased and himself
had been twins, and that sympathies of a
scarcely intelligible nature had always
existed between them. Our glances,
however, rested not long upon the dead
-for we could not regard her unawed.
The disease which had thus entombed
the lady in the maturity of youth, had
left, as usual in all maladies of a strictly
cataleptical character, the mockery of a
faint blush upon the bosom and the face,
and that suspiciously lingering smile up-
on the lip which is so terrible in death.
We replaced and screwed down the lid,
and, having secured the door of iron,








42 ~ tcdt? of t3e
made our way, with toil, into the scarcely
less gloomy apartments of the upper por-
tion of the house.
And now, some days of bitter grief
having elapsed, an observable change
came over the features of the mental dis-
order of my friend. His ordinary man-
ner had vanished. His ordinary occu-
pations were negleded or forgotten. He
roamed from chamber to chamber with
hurried, unequal,andobjedless step. The
pallor of his countenance had assumed,
if possible, a more ghastly hue-but the
luminousness of his eye had utterly gone
out. The once occasional huskiness of
his tone was heard no more; and a trem-
ulous quaver, as if of extreme terror,
habitually characterized his utterance.
There weretimes,indeed,when I thought
his unceasingly agitated mind was labor-
ing with some oppressive secret, to di-
vulge which he struggled for the neces-
sary courage. At times, again, I was
obliged to resolve all into the mere inex-
plicable vagaries of madness, for I beheld









Souse of ( 43
him gazing upon vacancy for long hours,
in an attitude of the profoundest atten-
tion, as if listening to some imaginary
sound. It was no wonder that his con-
dition terrified that it infected me. I
felt creeping upon me, by slow yet cer-
tain degrees, the wild influences of his
own fantastic yet impressive supersti-
tions.
It was, especially, upon retiring to bed
late in the night of the seventh or eighth
day after the placing of the lady Made-
line within the donjon, that I experienc-
ed the full power of such feelings. Sleep
came not near my couch, while the hours
waned and waned away. I struggled to
reason off the nervousness which had do-
minion over me. I endeavored to be-
lieve that much, if not all, of what I felt
was due to the bewildering influence of
the gloomy furniture of the room-of
the dark and tattered draperies which,
tortured into motion by the breath of a
rising tempest, swayed fitfully to and fro
upon the wall, and rustled uneasily about





44 $a^Etor ?t.
the decorations of the bed. But my ef-
forts were fruitless. An irrepressible tre-
mor gradually pervaded my frame; and
at length there sat upon my very heart
an incubus of utterly causeless alarm.
Shaking this off with a task and a strug-
gle, I uplifted myself upon the pillows,
and, peering earnestly within the intense
darkness of the chamber, hearkened- I
know not why, except that an instinctive
spirit prompted me-to certain low and
indefinite sounds which came, through
the pauses of the storm, at long intervals,
I knew not whence. Overpowered by
an intense sentiment of horror, unac-
countable yet unendurable, I threw on
my clothes with haste, (for I felt that I
should sleep no more during the night,)
and endeavored to arouse myselffrom the
pitiable condition into which I had fall-
en, by pacing rapidly to and fro through
the apartment.
I had taken but few turns in this man-
ner, when a light step on an adjoining
staircase arrested my attention. I pres-








1otuse of QU4er 45
ently recognized it as that of Usher. In
an instant afterward he rapped with a
gentle touch at my door, and entered,
bearing a lamp. His coutenance was, as
usual, cadaverously wan- but, more-
over, there was a species of mad hilarity
in his eyes--an evidently restrained hys-
teria in his whole demeanor. His air
appalled me -but anything was prefer-
able to the solitude which I had so long
endured, and I even welcomed his pres-
ence as a relief.
"And you have not seen it ?" he said
abruptly, after having stared about him
for some moments in silence- "you
have not then seen it ? but, stay! you
shall." Thus speaking, and having care-
fully shaded his lamp, he hurried to one
of the casements, and threw it freely open
to the storm.
The impetuous fury of the entering
gust nearly lifted us from our feet. It
was, indeed, a tempestuous yet sternly
beautiful night, and one wildly singular
in its terror and its beauty. A whirl-








46 toeSa 'ofi
wind had apparently collected its force in
our vicinity; for there were frequent and
violent alterations in the direction of the
wind; and the exceeding density of the
clouds (which hung so low as to press
upon the turrets of the house) did not
prevent our perceiving the life-like veloc-
ity with which they flew careering from
all points against each other, without
passing away into the distance. I say
that even their exceeding density did not
prevent our perceiving this; yet we had
no glimpse of the moon or stars, nor was
there any flashing forth of the lightning.
But the under surfaces of the huge masses
of agitated vapor, as well as all terrestrial
objects immediately around us, were
glowing in the unnatural light of a faint-
ly luminous and distinctly visible gaseous
exhalation which hung about and en-
shrouded the mansion.
"You must not you shall not behold
this!" said I, shudderingly, to Usher, as
I lead him with a gentle violence from
the window to a seat. "These appear-








3 ouse of Qir 47
ances, which bewilder you, are merely
eledrical phenomena not uncommon--
or it may be that they have their ghast-
ly origin in the rank miasma of the tarn.
Let us close this casement; the air is chill-
ing and dangerous to your frame. Here
is one of your favorite romances. I will
read, and you shall listen; and so we
will pass away this terrible night togeth-
er.
The antique volume which Ihad tak-
en up was the "Mad Trist" of Sir Laun-
celot Canning; but I had called it a favor-
ite of Usher's more in sad jest than in
earnest; for, in truth, there is little in its
uncouth and unimaginative prolixity
which could have had interest for the
lofty and spiritual ideality of my friend.
It was, however, the only book immedi-
ately at hand; and I indulged a vague
hope that the excitement which now
agitated the hypochondriac might find
relief (for the history of mental disorder
is full of similar anomalies) even in the
extremeness of the folly which I should








Zo te ;ff of to
read. Could. I have judged, indeed, by
the wild overstrained air of vivacity with
which he hearkened, or apparently
hearkened, to the words of the tale, I
might well have congratulated myself
upon the success of my design.
I had arrived at that well-known por-
tion of the story where Ethelred, the hero
of the Trist, having sought in vain for
peaceable admission into the dwelling of
the hermit, proceeds to make good an
entrance by force. Here, it will be re-
membered, the words of the narrative
run thus:-
"And Ethelred, who was by nature of a
doughty heart, and who was now mighty
withal, on account of thepowerfulness of the
wine which he had drunken, waited no longer
to hold parley with the hermit, who, in sooth,
was of an obstinate and maliceful turn, but,
feeling the rain upon his shoulders, and fear-
ing the rising of the tempest, uplifted his mace
outright, and with blows made quickly room
in the plankings of the door for his gauntleted
hand; and now pulling therewith sturdily, he
so cracked, and ripped, and tore all asunder,








10ouse of (UrOCer 49
that the noise of the dry and hollow-sounding
wood alarmed and reverberated throughout
the forest."
At the termination of this sentence I
started, and for a moment paused; for it
appeared to me (although I at once con-
cluded that my excited fancy had deceiv-
ed me)-it appeared to me that from
some very remote portion of the mansion
there came, indistindly, to my ears, what
might have been, in its exact similarity
of character, the echo (but a stifled and
dull one certainly) of the very cracking
and ripping sound which Sir Launcelot
had so particularly described. It was,
beyond doubt, the coincidence alone
which had arrested my attention; for,
amid the rattling of the sashes of the
casements, and the ordinary commingled
noises of the still increasing storm, the
sound, in itself, had nothing, surely,
which should have interested or disturb-
ed me. I continued the story' -
"But the good champion Ethelred, now
entering within the door, was sore enraged





50 tot ef of t
and amazed to perceive no signal of the mal-
iceful hermit; but, in the stead thereof, a
dragon of a scaly and prodigious demeanor,
and of a fiery tongue, which sate in guard be-
fore a palace of gold, with a floor of silver;
and upon the wall there hung a shield of shin-
ing brass with this legend enwritten -
Who entereth herein, a conqueror hath bin;
Who slayeth the dragon, the shield he shall
win.
And Ethelred uplifted his mace, and struck
upon the head of the dragon, which fell before
him, and gave up his pesty breath, with a
shriek so horrid and harsh, and withal so
piercing, that Ethelred had fain to close his
ears with his hands against the dreadful noise
of it, the like whereof was never before heard."
Here again I paused abruptly, and now
with a feeling of wild amazement; for
there could be no doubt whatever that,
in this instance, I did actually hear (al-
though from what direction it proceeded
I found it impossible to say) a low and
apparently distant, but harsh, protracted,
and most unusual screaming or grating
sound-the exadt counterpart of what
my fancy had already conjured up for the








3Eouze of alsoer 51
dragon's unnatural shriek as described by
the romancer.
Oppressed, as I certainly was, upon
the occurrence of this second and most
extraordinary coincidence, by a thousand
conflicting sensations, in which wonder
and extreme terror were predominant,
I still retained sufficient presence of mind
to avoid exciting, by any observation, the
sensitive nervousness of my companion.
I was by no means certain that he had
noticed the sounds in question; although,
assuredly, a strange alteration had during
the last few minutes taken place in his
demeanor. From a position fronting
my own, he had gradually brought round
his chair, so as to sit with his face to the
door of the chamber; and thus I could
but partially perceive his features, al-
though I saw that his lips trembled as if
he were murmuring inaudibly. His
head had dropped upon his breast-yet
I knew that he was not asleep, from the
wide and rigid opening of the eye as I
caught a glimpse of it in profile. The





lrFf


b ra


52 Ze $ff ofte
motion of his body, tdo, was at variance
with this idea-for he rocked from side
to side with a gentle yet constant and
uniform sway. Having rapidly taken no-
tice of all this, I resumed the narrative of
Sir Launcelot, which thus proceeded -
"And now, the champion, having escaped
from the terrible fury of the dragoi bethink-
ing himself of the brazen shield, and the break-
ing up of the enchantment which was upon it,
removed the carcass from out of the way be-
fore him, and approached valorously over the
silver pavement of the castle to where the
shield was upon the wall; which in sooth tar-
ried not for hi full coming, but fell dowh at
his feet upon the silver floor, with a mighty
great and terrible ringing sound."
No sooner had these syllables passed
my lips, than -as if a shield of brass had
indeed, at the moment, fallen heavily
upon a floor of silver I became aware
of a distinct, hollow, metallic and clang-
orous, yet apparently muffled reverbera-
tion. Completely unnerved, I leaped to
miy feet; but the measured rocking move-
ment of Usher was undisturbed. I rush-
















































































































































































































































































































































































-I






























I"








1o5u4 orQf 900er 53
ed to the chair in which he at. His eyes
were bent fixedly before him, and
throughout his whole countenance, there
reigned a stoney rigidity. But, as I plac-
ed my hand upon his shoulder,there came
a strong shudder over his whole person;
a sickly smile quivered about his lips;
and I saw that he spoke in a low, hur-
ried, and gibbering murmur, as if uncon-
scious of my presence. Bending closely
over him, I at length drank in the hid-
eous import of his words.
"Not hear it ? yes, I hear it, and have
heardit. Long long long many
minutes, many hours, many days, have I
heard it-yet I dared not- oh, pity me,
miserable wretch that I am !- I dared
not -I dared not speak! We have put
her living in the tomb! Said I not that my
senses were acute? I nowv tell you that I
heard her first feeble movements in the
coffin. I heard them many, many days
ago -- yet I dared not Idarednot speak!
And now to-night Ethelred ha!
ha! the breaking of the hermit's door,


. . .4-0.i ; + ..' +. . -. ... + . .- + ,= + ,- -. ,..- + .- -.-. .+.... + .+, t+ .+ ,. . . ,- p - i , -








54 te$ of toe
and the death-cry of the dragon, and the
clangor of the shield! -say, rather, the
rending of her coffin, and the grating of
the iron hinges of her prison, and her
struggles within the coppered archway
of the vault! Oh, whither shall I fly?
Will she not be here anon? Is she not
hurrying to upbraid me for my haste?
Have I not heard her footstep on the
stair? Do I not distinguish that heavy
and horrible beating of her heart? Mad-
man !" -here he sprang furiously to his
feet, and shrieked out his syllables, as if
in the effort he were giving up his soul -
"Madman! I tell you that she now stands
without the door!"
As if in the superhuman energy of his
utterance there had been found the poten-
cy of a spell, the huge antique panels to
which the speaker pointed threw slowly
back, upon the instant, their ponderous
and ebony jaws. It was the work of the
rushing gust- but then without those
doors there did stand the lofty and en-
shrouded figure of the lady Madeline of


. .. .... -" ""' :" ". .. ...'" .;7.. ..v. "" ..= .a som" e- " " : "o""......" ....."... '








3ouge of (s er
Usher. There was blood upon her white
robes, and the evidence of some bitter
struggle upon every portion of her emaci-
ated frame. For a moment she remained
trembling and reeling to and fro upon the
threshold'--then, with a low moaning
cry, fell heavily inward upon the person
of her brother,and, in her violent and now
final death-agonies, bore him to the floor
a corpse, and a victim to the terrors he
had anticipated.
From that chamber, and from that
mansion, I fled aghast. The storm was
still abroad in all its wrath as I found my-
self crossing the old causeway. Sudden-
ly there shot along the path a wild light,
and I turned to see whence a gleam so
unusual could have issued; for the vast
house and its shadows were alone behind
me. The radiance was that of the full,
setting, and blood-red moon, which now
shone vividly through that once barely-
discernible fissure, of which I have before
spoken as extending from the roof of the
building, in a zigzag direction, to the








56 Ze faf of tO
base. While I gazed, this fissure rapidly
widened there came a fierce breath of
the whirlwind- the entire orb of the
satellite burst at once upon my sight,.
my brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls
rushing asunder there was a long tu-
multuous shouting sound like the voice
of a thousand waters -- and the deep and
dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and
silently over the fragments of the "House
of Usher."







ouler of r 'er 57
HERE ends the tale, THE FALL OF
THE HOUSE OF USHER, as written
by Edgar Allan Poe. For this edition
the illustrations were drawn by H. E.
Gates and D. E. Randall; and the book
printed and published by Langworthy
& Swift at the Blue Sky Press, 4732 Ken-
wood Avenue, Chicago, in February,
MCMIII. Editionlimited to One Hun-
dred copies on paper and Fifteen copies
on Japan vellum; this being number 7,

7,





PON
















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