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while the book-keeper thus addressed the defunct libertine. "Do "Do you see yon flaming rock on the off side of the Styx, where an austere-looking spirit is standing, with a book in his hand ?" "Yes."
That, Sir, is Minos, the High Steward of Avernus; or, in diplomatic language, the Secretary for the Home department. He keeps a sort of debtor and creditor account of the vices and virtues of the numerous candidates for admission, and according as either preponderate, their torments are softened or increased."
With these words they reached the Styx, whose black sluggish waves dimmed by pestilential vapours rolled a putrid tide along the valley, until it joined the Phlegethon, where ignited by the burning waves, it sent forth a sulphureous spray that no mortal breath might respire. Here the headless Jehu drew up his tits, and introducing his murderer with a most hideous cachinnation recommended him, through the medium of Charon, to the especial notice of Pluto. "All this comes of squeezing coachmen by the throat, and towzling young women behind the bushes," exclaimed the facete book-keeper; a reminiscence by no means consolatory to the libertine. They had now crossed the river, paid their halfpenny, accepted their passport, and it was Wharton's turn to receive the aggregate
amount of his good and evil deeds. A certificate was accordingly drawn up, when the balance in favour of Pluto was discovered to be unusually fearful.
"How comes it," said the unabashed libertine, as he was hurried, exceedingly against his inclination, towards the purgatory Tartarus, “that I see so few publishers' names in the account-book of Minos?" "There are all that ever lived," replied the book-keeper. "The lawyers, I see, are pretty numerous." Aye, that might be expected," returned his companion, "indeed, our coal-pits are overstocked with them already." "But are there no Cambridge men here?" resumed Wharton; "Masters or fellows of Colleges, I mean: they are very devils upon earth, and methinks there should be good pickings for Pluto among some of them. There was old Dr. Tuck-turtle, in particular-" "My good fellow," exclaimed the book-keeper, "let us have no long stories for they are worse than a ducking in the Phlegethon; as for your Cambridge men, we have abundance of them, and this very night I start for Catherine Hall, to tell the that an inside place will be vacant in three days. There is no occasion for him to be made a skeleton, he is all bones already."
They had now reached the borders of Tartarus,
and, for the first time, the spirit of Wharton was struck with terror. The waves lashed themselves against the adamantine gulf which bound them, and high over each billow writhed a fleshless, yet living skeleton, swathed in a shroud of burning lava. A thousand yells burst from the anguished victims; the clock of eternity rung out its solemn peal; and a voice that mortal man might never hear, echoed from the dense abyss: "The murderer is welcome to his home." At this instant, the scene grew dark with mist, and the three furies approached, to hurl the soul of the libertine to its receptacle of torment; when
Well, and what then?" methinks I hear my readers exclaim. Why then he started, and awoke. The fact is, that ever since the murder of Shirley, his imagination had been partially deranged, and connecting his vision, the probable effect of fever medicines, with the wild legend of the Devil's coach, had produced the pantomimic jumble I have just concluded. The singular association of his dream with the classical Avernus of the ancients, appears to have been the effect of a University education; and as for his introductory interview with the book-keeper, it was occasioned by the remembrance of the book-keeper of the York stage; who was principal evidence during the trial, and
attended to identify him as the lover of Louisa. But I am somewhat premature in my disclosure, and must continue my narrative methodically.
On waking from this frightful trance, he exclaimed to the physician, who was standing by his bed-side, "Here come the furies; Help! help! Styx, Charon, Minos, Book-keeper, Publishers, for God's sake assist me, or I am lost." "Who are all these gentlemen he is talking of," said the astonished pharmacopolist to the nurse on his right hand. "Oh! some of his London friends, I'll warrant me, and a precious pack they are, howsomdever- "He is mad," interrupted the physician, "stark mad, behold I will plebotomize him." With these words, he applied the lancet, and the fever being somewhat abated, Wharton was gradually persuaded that he had been suffering under the effects of a distempered imagination. In a short time he recovered, much to the discomfiture of the good folks of Beverley, who were thereby disappointed in the veracity of the Devil's coach. The old women however, who are always the best judges in these matters, swore point blank that he was carried away, and that Wharton was an impostor who had been sent to deceive them. This opinion was signed by such respectable authorities, that I scarcely knew what
to think about it myself, until the young man made affidavit with the mayor that to the best of his knowledge, he was himself; and that if he had been carried off in the Devil's coach, it was pretty evident that he was brought back again. "True, I never thought of that," said his enlightened worship, "and it certainly is one great argument in your favour."
But old ladies would as soon give up their snuff as their superstition; and our poor persecuted Wharton, being every where received as an impostor, quitted his native town for ever. He has since retrieved his character; the errors of youth are amended; his classical studies resumed; and he has again become the delight and the ornament of his friends. Still, however, a shudder passes across him whenever he thinks of the Devil's coach, and let no one wonder at his timidity; for a man who has been once drenched with the sulphureous waves of Tartarus, will be in no hurry for a second warm-bath.