occurred to me, if he should thus suddenly die, and I be found alone in his cell, I might be charged with being his murderer; and my courage, which, from long inaction, had sadly declined of late, deserted me at the thought. After the most torturing suspense, the dial at length showed me that the two hours had elapsed, and I hastened to the cell.
I paused a moment at the door, afraid to enter, or even look in; made one or two steps, and hearing no sound, concluded that all was over with the Hermit, and that my own doom was sealed. My delight was inexpressible, therefore, when I perceived that he still breathed, and when, on drawing nearer, I found that he slept soundly. In a moment I passed from misery to bliss. I seated myself by his side, and there remained for more than an hour, enjoying the transition of my feelings. At length he awoke, and casting on me a look of placid benignity, said,—"Atterley, my time is not yet come. Though resigned to death, I am content to live. The worst is over. I am already almost restored to health." I then administered to him some refreshments, and, after a while, left him to repose. On again repairing to the garden, every object assumed its wonted appearance. The fragrance of the orange and the jasmine was no longer lost to me. The humming birds, which swarmed round the flowering cytisus and the beautiful water-fall, once more delighted the eye and the ear. I took my usual bath, as the sun was sinking below the mountain; and, finding the Hermit still soundly sleeping, I threw myself on a seat, under the shelter of some bamboos, fell asleep, and did not awake until late the next morning.
When I arose, I found the good Brahmin up, and, though much weakened by his disease, able to walk about. He told me that the Mirvoon, uneasy at my not returning as usual in the evening, had sent in search of me, and that the servant, finding me safe, was content to return without me. He advised me, however, not to repeat the same cause of alarm. Sing Fou, on hearing my explanation, readily forgave me for the uneasiness I had caused him. After a few days, the Brahmin recovered his ordinary health and strength; and having attended him at an earlier hour than usual, according to his request on the previous evening, he thus addressed me:—
"I have already told you, my dear Atterley, that I was born and educated at Benares, and that science is there more thoroughly understood and taught than the people of the west are aware of. We have, for many thousands of years, been good astronomers, chymists, mathematicians, and philosophers. We had discovered the secret of gunpowder, the magnetic attraction, the properties of electricity, long before they were heard of in Europe. We know more than we have revealed; and much of our knowledge is deposited in the archives of the caste to which I belong; but, for want of a language generally understood and easily learnt, (for these records are always written in the Sanscrit, that is no longer a spoken language,) and the diffusion which is given by the art of printing, these secrets of science are communicated only to a few, and sometimes even sleep with their authors, until a subsequent discovery, under more favourable circumstances, brings them again to light.
"It was at this seat of science that I learnt, from one of our sages, the physical truth which I am now about to communicate, and which he discovered, partly by his researches into the writings of ancient Pundits, and partly by his own extraordinary sagacity. There is a principle of repulsion as well as gravitation in the earth. It causes fire to rise upwards. It is exhibited in electricity. It occasions water-spouts, volcanoes, and earthquakes. After much labour and research, this principle has been found embodied in a metallic substance, which is met with in the mountain in which we are, united with a very heavy earth; and this circumstance had great influence in inducing me to settle myself here.
"This metal, when separated and purified, has as great a tendency to fly off from the earth, as a piece of gold or lead has to approach it. After making a number of curious experiments with it, we bethought ourselves of putting it to some use, and soon contrived, with the aid of it, to make cars and ascend into the air. We were very secret in these operations; for our unhappy country having then recently fallen under the subjection of the British nation, we apprehended that if we divulged our arcanum, they would not only fly away with all our treasures, whether found in palace or pagoda, but also carry off the inhabitants, to make them slaves in their colonies, as their government had not then abolished the African slave trade.
"After various trials and many successive improvements, in which our desires increased with our success, we determined to penetrate the aerial void as far as we could, providing for that purpose an apparatus, with which you will become better acquainted hereafter. In the course of our experiments, we discovered that this same metal, which was repelled from the earth, was in the same degree attracted towards the moon; for in one of our excursions, still aiming to ascend higher than we had ever done before, we were actually carried to that satellite; and if we had not there fallen into a lake, and our machine had not been water-tight, we must have been dashed to pieces or drowned. You will find in this book," he added, presenting me with a small volume, bound in green parchment, and fastened with silver clasps, "a minute detail of the apparatus to be provided, and the directions to be pursued in making this wonderful voyage. I have written it since I satisfied my mind that my fears of British rapacity were unfounded, and that I should do more good than harm by publishing the secret. But still I am not sure," he added, with one of his faint but significant smiles, "that I am not actuated by a wish to immortalize my name; for where is the mortal who would be indifferent to this object, if he thought he could attain it? Read the book at your leisure, and study it."
I listened to this recital with astonishment; and doubted at first, whether the Brahmin's late severe attack had not had the effect of unsettling his brain: but on looking in his face, the calm self-possession and intelligence which it exhibited, dispelled the momentary impression. I was all impatience to know the adventures he met with in the moon, asking him fifty questions in a breath, but was most anxious to learn if it had inhabitants, and what sort of beings they were.
"Yes," said he, "the moon has inhabitants, pretty much the same as the earth, of which they believe their globe to have been formerly a part. But suspend your questions, and let me give you a recital of the most remarkable things I saw there."
I checked my impatience, and listened with all my ears to the wonders he related. He went on to inform me that the inhabitants of the moon resembled those of the earth, in form, stature, features, and manners, and were evidently of the same species, as they did not differ more than did the Hottentot from the Parisian. That they had similar passions, propensities, and pursuits, but differed greatly in manners and habits. They had more activity, but less strength: they were feebler in mind as well as body. But the most curious part of his information was, that a large number of them were born without any intellectual vigour, and wandered about as so many automatons, under the care of the government, until they were illuminated with the mental ray from some earthly brains, by means of the mysterious influence which the moon is known to exercise on our planet. But in this case the inhabitant of the earth loses what the inhabitant of the moon gains—the ordinary portion of understanding allotted to one mortal being thus divided between two; and, as might be expected, seeing that the two minds were originally the same, there is a most exact conformity between the