|It seems to me that
imagination and reasoning have reached magnificent heights with some writers, especially
poets. Among them, I strongly believe, the highest ever was Edgar Allan Poe. With
Baudelaire I state that "le poete est souverainement intelligent, qu'il est
l'intelligence par excellence, -et que l'imagination est la plus scientifique des
facultes, parce que seule elle comprend l'analogie universelle...". One of those
poets was Edgar Allan Poe. I reproduce here "The Works of Edgar Allan Poe" as a
gesture against what Baudelaire called "la ferocite de l'hypocrisie bourgeoise",
and what I personally call mediocrity, imbecility, and comprehensive intellectual
dishonesty, all of which is presented as "realistic thinking". And, as we know,
contemporary development studies are full of "realistic thinking". So, let
us learn something from Edgar Allan Poe!. (Róbinson Rojas)
The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Works of Edgar Allan Poe V. 1
Volume 1 of the Raven Edition #6 in our series by Edgar Allan Poe
The Raven Edition THE WORKS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE
IN FIVE VOLUMES
Volume IV Contents
The Devil in the Belfry
X-ing a Paragrab
The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether
The Literary Life of Thingum Bob, Esq.
How to Write a Blackwood article
The Angel of the Odd
The Duc de l'Omlette
The Oblong Box
Loss of Breath
The Man That Was Used Up
The Business Man
The Landscape Garden
The Power of Words
The Colloquy of Monas and Una
The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion
Shadow.--A Parable BACK TO MAIN INDEX
THE MAN THAT WAS USED UP.
A TALE OF THE LATE BUGABOO AND KICKAPOO CAMPAIGN.
_Pleurez, pleurez, mes yeux, et fondez vous en eau !_
_La moitié ; de ma vie a mis l' autre au tombeau._
I CANNOT just now remember when or where I first made the
acquaintance of that truly fine-looking fellow, Brevet Brigadier
General John A. B. C. Smith. Some one _did_ introduce me to the
gentleman, I am sure - at some public meeting, I know very well -
held about something of great importance, no doubt - at some place or
other, I feel convinced, - whose name I have unaccountably forgotten.
The truth is - that the introduction was attended, upon my part, with
a degree of anxious embarrassment which operated to prevent any
definite impressions of either time or place. I am constitutionally
nervous - this, with me, is a family failing, and I can't help it.
In especial, the slightest appearance of mystery - of any point I
cannot exactly comprehend - puts me at once into a pitiable state of
There was something, as it were, remarkable - yes, _remarkable_,
although this is but a feeble term to express my full meaning - about
the entire individuality of the personage in question. He was,
perhaps, six feet in height, and of a presence singularly commanding.
There was an _air distingué_ pervading the whole man, which spoke of
high breeding, and hinted at high birth. Upon this topic - the topic
of Smith's personal appearance - I have a kind of melancholy
satisfaction in being minute. His head of hair would have done honor
to a Brutus ; - nothing could be more richly flowing, or possess a
brighter gloss. It was of a jetty black ; - which was also the
color, or more properly the no color of his unimaginable whiskers.
You perceive I cannot speak of these latter without enthusiasm ; it
is not too much to say that they were the handsomest pair of whiskers
under the sun. At all events, they encircled, and at times partially
overshadowed, a mouth utterly unequalled. Here were the most entirely
even, and the most brilliantly white of all conceivable teeth. From
between them, upon every proper occasion, issued a voice of
surpassing clearness, melody, and strength. In the matter of eyes,
also, my acquaintance was pre-eminently endowed. Either one of such
a pair was worth a couple of the ordinary ocular organs. They were
of a deep hazel, exceedingly large and lustrous ; and there was
perceptible about them, ever and anon, just that amount of
interesting obliquity which gives pregnancy to expression.
The bust of the General was unquestionably the finest bust I ever
saw. For your life you could not have found a fault with its
wonderful proportion. This rare peculiarity set off to great
advantage a pair of shoulders which would have called up a blush of
conscious inferiority into the countenance of the marble Apollo. I
have a passion for fine shoulders, and may say that I never beheld
them in perfection before. The arms altogether were admirably
modelled. Nor were the lower limbs less superb. These were, indeed,
the _ne plus ultra_ of good legs. Every connoisseur in such matters
admitted the legs to be good. There was neither too much flesh, nor
too little, - neither rudeness nor fragility. I could not imagine a
more graceful curve than that of the _os femoris_, and there was just
that due gentle prominence in the rear of the _fibula_ which goes to
the conformation of a properly proportioned calf. I wish to God my
young and talented friend Chiponchipino, the sculptor, had but seen
the legs of Brevet Brigadier General John A. B. C. Smith.
But although men so absolutely fine-looking are neither as plenty
as reasons or blackberries, still I could not bring myself to believe
that _the remarkable_ something to which I alluded just now, - that
the odd air of _je ne sais quoi_ which hung about my new
acquaintance, - lay altogether, or indeed at all, in the supreme
excellence of his bodily endowments. Perhaps it might be traced to
the _manner_ ; - yet here again I could not pretend to be positive.
There _was_ a primness, not to say stiffness, in his carriage - a
degree of measured, and, if I may so express it, of rectangular
precision, attending his every movement, which, observed in a more
diminutive figure, would have had the least little savor in the
world, of affectation, pomposity or constraint, but which noticed in
a gentleman of his undoubted dimensions, was readily placed to the
account of reserve, _hauteur_ - of a commendable sense, in short, of
what is due to the dignity of colossal proportion.
The kind friend who presented me to General Smith whispered in my
ear some few words of comment upon the man. He was a _remarkable_
man - a _very_ remarkable man - indeed one of the _most_ remarkable
men of the age. He was an especial favorite, too, with the ladies -
chiefly on account of his high reputation for courage.
"In _that_ point he is unrivalled - indeed he is a perfect
desperado - a down-right fire-eater, and no mistake," said my friend,
here dropping his voice excessively low, and thrilling me with the
mystery of his tone.
"A downright fire-eater, and _no_ mistake. Showed _that_, I
should say, to some purpose, in the late tremendous swamp-fight away
down South, with the Bugaboo and Kickapoo Indians." [Here my friend
opened his eyes to some extent.] "Bless my soul ! - blood and
thunder, and all that ! - _prodigies_ of valor ! - heard of him
of course ? - you know he's the man" ---
"Man alive, how _do_ you do ? why, how _are_ ye ? _very_ glad
to see ye, indeed !" here interrupted the General himself, seizing my
companion by the hand as he drew near, and bowing stiffly, but
profoundly, as I was presented. I then thought, (and I think so
still,) that I never heard a clearer nor a stronger voice, nor beheld
a finer set of teeth : but I _must_ say that I was sorry for the
interruption just at that moment, as, owing to the whispers and
insinuations aforesaid, my interest had been greatly excited in the
hero of the Bugaboo and Kickapoo campaign.
However, the delightfully luminous conversation of Brevet
Brigadier General John A. B. C. Smith soon completely dissipated this
chagrin. My friend leaving us immediately, we had quite a long
_tête-à-tête_, and I was not only pleased but _really_ - instructed.
I never heard a more fluent talker, or a man of greater general
information. With becoming modesty, he forebore, nevertheless, to
touch upon the theme I had just then most at heart - I mean the
mysterious circumstances attending the Bugaboo war - and, on my own
part, what I conceive to be a proper sense of delicacy forbade me to
broach the subject ; although, in truth, I was exceedingly tempted to
do so. I perceived, too, that the gallant soldier preferred topics
of philosophical interest, and that he delighted, especially, in
commenting upon the rapid march of mechanical invention. Indeed,
lead him where I would, this was a point to which he invariably came
"There is nothing at all like it," he would say; "we are a
wonderful people, and live in a wonderful age. Parachutes and
rail-roads - man-traps and spring-guns ! Our steam-boats are upon
every sea, and the Nassau balloon packet is about to run regular
trips (fare either way only twenty pounds sterling) between London
and Timbuctoo. And who shall calculate the immense influence upon
social life - upon arts - upon commerce - upon literature - which
will be the immediate result of the great principles of electro
magnetics ! Nor, is this all, let me assure you ! There is really
no end to the march of invention. The most wonderful - the most
ingenious - and let me add, Mr. - Mr. - Thompson, I believe, is
your name - let me add, I say, the most _useful_ - the most truly
_useful_ mechanical contrivances, are daily springing up like
mushrooms, if I may so express myself, or, more figuratively, like -
ah - grasshoppers - like grasshoppers, Mr. Thompson - about us and
ah - ah - ah - around us !"
Thompson, to be sure, is not my name ; but it is needless to say
that I left General Smith with a heightened interest in the man, with
an exalted opinion of his conversational powers, and a deep sense of
the valuable privileges we enjoy in living in this age of mechanical
invention. My curiosity, however, had not been altogether satisfied,
and I resolved to prosecute immediate inquiry among my acquaintances
touching the Brevet Brigadier General himself, and particularly
respecting the tremendous events _quorum pars magna fuit_, during
the Bugaboo and Kickapoo campaign.
The first opportunity which presented itself, and which
(_horresco referens_) I did not in the least scruple to seize,
occurred at the Church of the Reverend Doctor Drummummupp, where I
found myself established, one Sunday, just at sermon time, not only
in the pew, but by the side, of that worthy and communicative little
friend of mine, Miss Tabitha T. Thus seated, I congratulated myself,
and with much reason, upon the very flattering state of affairs. If
any person knew anything about Brevet Brigadier General John A. B. C.
Smith, that person, it was clear to me, was Miss Tabitha T. We
telegraphed a few signals, and then commenced, _soto voce_, a brisk
"Smith !" said she, in reply to my very earnest inquiry; "Smith
! - why, not General John A. B. C. ? Bless me, I thought you _knew_
all about _him !_ This is a wonderfully inventive age ! Horrid
affair that ! - a bloody set of wretches, those Kickapoos ! -
fought like a hero - prodigies of valor - immortal renown. Smith !
- Brevet Brigadier General John A. B. C. ! why, you know he's the
"Man," here broke in Doctor Drummummupp, at the top of his voice,
and with a thump that came near knocking the pulpit about our ears ;
"man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live ; he
cometh up and is cut down like a flower !" I started to the extremity
of the pew, and perceived by the animated looks of the divine, that
the wrath which had nearly proved fatal to the pulpit had been
excited by the whispers of the lady and myself. There was no help
for it ; so I submitted with a good grace, and listened, in all the
martyrdom of dignified silence, to the balance of that very capital
Next evening found me a somewhat late visitor at the Rantipole
theatre, where I felt sure of satisfying my curiosity at once, by
merely stepping into the box of those exquisite specimens of
affability and omniscience, the Misses Arabella and Miranda
Cognoscenti. That fine tragedian, Climax, was doing Iago to a very
crowded house, and I experienced some little difficulty in making my
wishes understood ; especially, as our box was next the slips, and
completely overlooked the stage.
"Smith ?" said Miss Arabella, as she at length comprehended the
purport of my query ; "Smith ? - why, not General John A. B. C. ?"
"Smith ?" inquired Miranda, musingly. "God bless me, did you
ever behold a finer figure ?"
"Never, madam, but _do_ tell me" ---
"Or so inimitable grace ?"
"Never, upon my word ! - But pray inform me" ---
"Or so just an appreciation of stage effect ?"
"Or a more delicate sense of the true beauties of Shakespeare ?
Be so good as to look at that leg !"
"The devil !" and I turned again to her sister.
"Smith ?" said she, "why, not General John A. B. C. ? Horrid
affair that, wasn't it ? - great wretches, those Bugaboos - savage
and so on - but we live in a wonderfully inventive age ! - Smith !
- O yes ! great man ! - perfect desperado - immortal renown -
prodigies of valor ! _Never heard !_" [This was given in a scream.]
"Bless my soul ! why, he's the man" ---
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou owd'st yesterday !"
here roared our Climax just in my ear, and shaking his fist in my
face all the time, in a way that I _couldn't_ stand, and I
_wouldn't_. I left the Misses Cognoscenti immediately, went behind
the scenes forthwith, and gave the beggarly scoundrel such a
thrashing as I trust he will remember to the day of his death.
At the _soirée_ of the lovely widow, Mrs. Kathleen O'Trump, I was
confident that I should meet with no similar disappointment.
Accordingly, I was no sooner seated at the card-table, with my pretty
hostess for a _vis-à-vis_, than I propounded those questions the
solution of which had become a matter so essential to my peace.
"Smith ?" said my partner, "why, not General John A. B. C. ?
Horrid affair that, wasn't it ? - diamonds, did you say ? -
terrible wretches those Kickapoos ! - we are playing _whist_, if
you please, Mr. Tattle - however, this is the age of invention, most
certainly _the_ age, one may say - _the_ age _par excellence_ -
speak French ? - oh, quite a hero - perfect desperado ! - _no
hearts_, Mr. Tattle ? I don't believe it ! - immortal renown and
all that ! - prodigies of valor ! _Never heard !!_ - why, bless
me, he's the man" ---
"Mann ? - _Captain_ Mann ?" here screamed some little feminine
interloper from the farthest corner of the room. "Are you talking
about Captain Mann and the duel ? - oh, I _must_ hear - do tell -
go on, Mrs. O'Trump ! - do now go on !" And go on Mrs. O'Trump did
- all about a certain Captain Mann, who was either shot or hung, or
should have been both shot and hung. Yes ! Mrs. O'Trump, she went
on, and I - I went off. There was no chance of hearing anything
farther that evening in regard to Brevet Brigadier General John A. B.
Still I consoled myself with the reflection that the tide of ill
luck would not run against me forever, and so determined to make a
bold push for information at the rout of that bewitching little
angel, the graceful Mrs. Pirouette.
"Smith ?" said Mrs. P., as we twirled about together in a _pas de
zephyr_, "Smith ? - why, not General John A. B. C. ? Dreadful
business that of the Bugaboos, wasn't it ? - dreadful creatures,
those Indians ! - _do_ turn out your toes ! I really am ashamed
of you - man of great courage, poor fellow ! - but this is a
wonderful age for invention - O dear me, I'm out of breath - quite a
desperado - prodigies of valor - _never heard !!_ - can't believe it
- I shall have to sit down and enlighten you - Smith ! why, he's
the man" ---
"Man-_Fred_, I tell you !" here bawled out Miss Bas-Bleu, as I
led Mrs. Pirouette to a seat. "Did ever anybody hear the like ?
It's Man-_Fred_, I say, and not at all by any means Man-_Friday_."
Here Miss Bas-Bleu beckoned to me in a very peremptory manner ; and I
was obliged, will I nill I, to leave Mrs. P. for the purpose of
deciding a dispute touching the title of a certain poetical drama of
Lord Byron's. Although I pronounced, with great promptness, that the
true title was Man-_Friday_, and not by any means Man-_Fred_, yet
when I returned to seek Mrs. Pirouette she was not to be discovered,
and I made my retreat from the house in a very bitter spirit of
animosity against the whole race of the Bas-Bleus.
Matters had now assumed a really serious aspect, and I resolved
to call at once upon my particular friend, Mr. Theodore Sinivate ;
for I knew that here at least I should get something like definite
"Smith ?" said he, in his well-known peculiar way of drawling out
his syllables ; "Smith ? - why, not General John A. B. C. ? Savage
affair that with the Kickapo-o-o-os, wasn't it ? Say ! don't you
think so ? - perfect despera-a-ado - great pity, 'pon my honor !
- wonderfully inventive age ! - pro-o-odigies of valor ! By the
by, did you ever hear about Captain Ma-a-a-a-n ?"
"Captain Mann be d--d !" said I ; "please to go on with your
"Hem ! - oh well ! - quite _la même cho-o-ose_, as we say in
France. Smith, eh ? Brigadier-General John A. B. C. ? I say" -
[here Mr. S. thought proper to put his finger to the side of his
nose] - "I say, you don't mean to insinuate now, really and truly,
and conscientiously, that you don't know all about that affair of
Smith's, as well as I do, eh ? Smith ? John A-B-C. ? Why, bless
me, he's the ma-a-an" ---
"_Mr_. Sinivate," said I, imploringly, "_is_ he the man in the
"No-o-o !" said he, looking wise, "nor the man in the mo-o-on."
This reply I considered a pointed and positive insult, and so
left the house at once in high dudgeon, with a firm resolve to call
my friend, Mr. Sinivate, to a speedy account for his ungentlemanly
conduct and ill-breeding.
In the meantime, however, I had no notion of being thwarted
touching the information I desired. There was one resource left me
yet. I would go to the fountain-head. I would call forthwith upon
the General himself, and demand, in explicit terms, a solution of
this abominable piece of mystery. Here, at least, there should be no
chance for equivocation. I would be plain, positive, peremptory - as
short as pie-crust - as concise as Tacitus or Montesquieu.
It was early when I called, and the General was dressing; but I
pleaded urgent business, and was shown at once into his bed-room by
an old negro valet, who remained in attendance during my visit. As I
entered the chamber, I looked about, of course, for the occupant,
but did not immediately perceive him. There was a large and
exceedingly odd-looking bundle of something which lay close by my
feet on the floor, and, as I was not in the best humor in the world,
I gave it a kick out of the way.
"Hem ! ahem ! rather civil that, I should say !" said the
bundle, in one of the smallest, and altogether the funniest little
voices, between a squeak and a whistle, that I ever heard in all the
days of my existence.
"Ahem ! rather civil that, I should observe."
I fairly shouted with terror, and made off, at a tangent, into
the farthest extremity of the room.
"God bless me ! my dear fellow," here again whistled the
bundle, "what - what - what - why, what _is_ the matter ? I really
believe you don't know me at all."
What _could_ I say to all this - what _could_ I ? I staggered
into an arm-chair, and, with staring eyes and open mouth, awaited the
solution of the wonder.
"Strange you shouldn't know me though, isn't it ?" presently
re-squeaked the nondescript, which I now perceived was performing,
upon the floor, some inexplicable evolution, very analogous to the
drawing on of a stocking. There was only a single leg, however,
"Strange you shouldn't know me, though, isn't it ? Pompey, bring
me that leg !" Here Pompey handed the bundle, a very capital cork
leg, already dressed, which it screwed on in a trice ; and then it
stood up before my eyes.
"And a bloody action it _was_," continued the thing, as if in a
soliloquy ; "but then one mustn't fight with the Bugaboos and
Kickapoos, and think of coming off with a mere scratch. Pompey, I'll
thank you now for that arm. Thomas" [turning to me] "is decidedly
the best hand at a cork leg ; but if you should ever want an arm, my
dear fellow, you must really let me recommend you to Bishop." Here
Pompey screwed on an arm.
"We had rather hot work of it, that you may say. Now, you dog,
slip on my shoulders and bosom ! Pettitt makes the best shoulders,
but for a bosom you will have to go to Ducrow."
"Bosom !" said I.
"Pompey, will you _never_ be ready with that wig ? Scalping is
a rough process after all ; but then you can procure such a capital
scratch at De L'Orme's."
"Now, you nigger, my teeth ! For a _good_ set of these you had
better go to Parmly's at once ; high prices, but excellent work. I
swallowed some very capital articles, though, when the big Bugaboo
rammed me down with the butt end of his rifle."
"Butt end ! ram down !! my eye !!"
"O yes, by-the-by, my eye - here, Pompey, you scamp, screw it in
! Those Kickapoos are not so very slow at a gouge ; but he's a
belied man, that Dr. Williams, after all ; you can't imagine how well
I see with the eyes of his make."
I now began very clearly to perceive that the object before me
was nothing more nor less than my new acquaintance, Brevet Brigadier
General John A. B. C. Smith. The manipulations of Pompey had made, I
must confess, a very striking difference in the appearance of the
personal man. The voice, however, still puzzled me no little ; but
even this apparent mystery was speedily cleared up.
"Pompey, you black rascal," squeaked the General, "I really do
believe you would let me go out without my palate."
Hereupon, the negro, grumbling out an apology, went up to his
master, opened his mouth with the knowing air of a horse-jockey, and
adjusted therein a somewhat singular-looking machine, in a very
dexterous manner, that I could not altogether comprehend. The
alteration, however, in the entire expression of the General's
countenance was instantaneous and surprising. When he again spoke,
his voice had resumed all that rich melody and strength which I had
noticed upon our original introduction.
"D--n the vagabonds !" said he, in so clear a tone that I
positively started at the change, "D--n the vagabonds ! they not
only knocked in the roof of my mouth, but took the trouble to cut off
at least seven-eighths of my tongue. There isn't Bonfanti's equal,
however, in America, for really good articles of this description. I
can recommend you to him with confidence," [here the General bowed,]
" and assure you that I have the greatest pleasure in so doing."
I acknowledged his kindness in my best manner, and took leave of
him at once, with a perfect understanding of the true state of
affairs - with a full comprehension of the mystery which had troubled
me so long. It was evident. It was a clear case. Brevet Brigadier
General John A. B. C. Smith was the man --- was _the man that was
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