say, the image of a hideous -- of a ghastly thing -- of the GALLOWS ! -- oh, mournful and
terrible engine of Horror and of Crime -- of Agony and of Death !
And now was I indeed wretched beyond the wretchedness of mere Humanity. And a
brute beast -- whose fellow I had contemptuously destroyed -- a brute beast to work out for me --
for me a man, fashioned in the image of the High God -- so much of insufferable wo! Alas!
neither by day nor by night knew I the blessing of Rest any more! During the former the creature
left me no moment alone; and, in the latter, I started, hourly, from dreams of unutterable fear, to
find the hot breath of the thing upon my face, and its vast weight -- an incarnate Night-Mare that
I had no power to shake off -- incumbent eternally upon my heart !
Beneath the pressure of torments such as these, the feeble remnant of the good within me
succumbed. Evil thoughts became my sole intimates -- the darkest and most evil of thoughts. The
moodiness of my usual temper increased to hatred of all things and of all mankind; while, from
the sudden, frequent, and ungovernable outbursts of a fury to which I now blindly abandoned
myself, my uncomplaining wife, alas! was the most usual and the most patient of sufferers.
One day she accompanied me, upon some household errand, into the cellar of the old
building which our poverty compelled us to inhabit. The cat followed me down the steep stairs,
and, nearly throwing me headlong, exasperated me to madness. Uplifting an axe, and forgetting,
in my wrath, the childish dread which had hitherto stayed my hand, I aimed a blow at the animal
which, of course, would have proved instantly fatal had it descended as I wished. But this blow
was arrested by the hand of my wife. Goaded, by the interference, into a rage more than