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THE MAN WITH THE MOUTH.
" “ NEVER did I behold such a the huge fabric rose up before me, in
mouth!" This was my inter- sublime proportion, from the bosum nal exclamation, as I gazed upon the of its matchless garden. Such astonman who sat opposite to me in the ishment-such breathlessness caine Advocates' Library at Edinburgh. over me, when my eyes first encounHe was an elderly personage-tall, tered the man, or rather bis niouth, meagre, long-chinned, hook-nosed, I was more than astonished; I was pale complexioned, and clothed from delighted—delighted, as when steptop to toe in a suit of black. It was ping into the Sistine Chapel, the wearing towards twilight, and the grand creations of Michael Angelo, noble apartment in which I was seat. frescoed upon its roof and walls, ed had been forsaken by all its loun- burst like a glimpse of Paradise upgers, save myself and the man who on my tranced spirit. Such was the called forth my observation. We delight afforded by the mighty mouth: were alone, he perusing the Morn- not the man-beloved reader–for ing Chronicle, I engaged with Black- men as fair in all respects as he have wood's Magazine. The article I was I often seen. It was not his cheeks, reading was a capital one. It was
thiu as parchment, his nose curved let me see— Streams,"—that ex- like an eagle's beak, his chiu promiquisite creation of Christopher pent as a bayonet in full charge, or North’s matchless pen. But admira- his complexion, pale and lustreless ble as the article might be, it was not as a faded lily. It was not theseso admirable as the man's mouth no, reader, it was not these which who perused the Chronicle. For operated with such wizard power some time, indeed, there was a com- upon me. It was his mouth-that bat between the mouth and the ar- mouth-wonderful as Versailles, and ticle, both soliciting my regards with beautiful as the Sistine Chapelequal ardour, and compelling me which carried my sympathies away, every moment to turn my eyes, first and led me a captive worshipper at to the one and then to the other. its shrine. Each possessed a magnetic property;
Such were my first impressions on and my mind was, like a niece of beholding the Man with the Mouih. iron, reciprocally acted upon by a They were those of unmingled awe couple of poweriul loadstones. By and pleasure, and appealed with redegrees, however, the balance was sistless effect to
my imagination. destroyed: Ebony either grew weak. They came upon me like a raiubow er, or the mouth stronger; and I bursting out from the bosom of a was obliged, with a weeping heart, dark cloud—as a stream of suushiwe to throw the former aside, and sub- at midnight--as the sound of the mit myself entirely to the domina- Eolian harp in a summer eve.
But tion of the latter.
they appealed to the fancy alone : It was, in truth, a noble mouth, they touched the heart, but not the stretching, in one magnificent sweep, head; and it was some time before from ear to ear-such a mouth as the the latter could bring its energies to ogres of romance must have had, or bear, so completely had it been overthe whale that swallowed Jonah. I whelmed with the tumult of passions remember the first time when—from which agitated the feesings. It did the bottom of the stairs leading to the act at last ; and as soon as the inciFountain of Neptune-I beheld the pient impressions subsided a little, I front of Versailles' stupendous palace. felt an irresistible desire to ascerOne feeling only occupied my mind — tain why such wonderful effects should that of breathless astonishment-as spring from such a cause.
was in vain ; and being neither casu When I first noticed this marvellous ist nor phrenologist, I was obliged to man, it was six o'clock, which at that drop a subject, to which my powers very moment pealed from the clock were altogether unequal. I wonder- of St. Giles ; and the room, as I have ed, and was delighted ; but what the already stated, was becoming obscurremote springs of such wonder and ed with the shades of approaching delight might be, bafiled my philoso- eve. The light which glared in at the phy, and set my reasoning faculties windows was sullen and sepulchral, at naught.
and Aung a broad, dull radiance, Meanwhile the man continued op- upon the fluted Corinthian columns, posite to me, reading the Chronicle, that extended their double rows along and I continued to look at him, mar- the Library, supporting its painted velling at the dimensions of that fea- roof upon their foliaged capitals. ture which had vanquished Christo- Within and without, all was calm. pher North in single combat, and ab- Save our two selves, there was not a sorbed his beautiful “ Streams” in its soul in the apartment. The librarian insatiable gulf. He never turned his had gone, Lord knows whither-the eyes from the paper : they were rigid- advocates had bidden their literary ly fixed upon its democratic columns, sanctum adieu, and the man with the and, but for the motion of his hands, mouth and myself were left in undisas be shifted it up and down, I should puted possession of the premises. have supposed him an image carved We had now sat for a considerable for some Dutch college by Chantry, time together, he reading the Chronior Thorwaldson the Dane. I had no cle, I admiring his mouth. It was curiosity about the man: his name, certainly the most extraordinary his country, his profession, his cha- mouth ever created, and challenged racter, were alike matters of indiffer- observation in an uncommon degree.
I would not have iven the His whole face was absorbed in this toss of a farthing to know all about mighty feature. He had, it is true, them. My attention was engaged ears, and eyes, and cheeks, and nose, with a nobler theme. I was analyz- and chin; but they were pigmied to ing his mouth, admiring the bland- nothing in such a lordly neighbourness of its expression, wondering at hood. He was, in fact, earless, eyeits hugeness, and envying its happy less, cheekless, noseless, and chinless. owner the possession of so magnificent To speak comparatively, he had neia characteristic. It was not an ireful
ther the one nor the other : he was mouth : the corners were not turned all mouth. down in the attitude of wrath or con I must say that I felt gratified in tempt, but curled upwards, in that having it in my power to witness such benign flexibility of curve, which a spectacle. I respected the man, or Charles Bell has so well illustrated in rather his mouth. He was, it is true, his Anatomy of Expression. He did a radical, as his newspaper reading not laugh-he was too sedate for that testified, but then he had vanquished -bụt his mouth was clothed with a Christopher North; and after so gentle smile, betokening inward tran- great an achievement, what feats quillity of spirit. Never did I gaze might he not perform ? I began to upon a being so full of mildness-s0 think that there was no exploit in the void of gall; and the longer I looked world beyond his accomplishment. at him, I became convinced that those That mouth was to him the brazen lips had been nurtured with milk and head of Friar Bacon-the sword of manna, and that the mind to whose Achilles-the mirror of Merlin-the thoughts they gave utterance was wand of Prospero-the griffin of one which knew not guile or bitter- Astolpho—the Elixir Vitæ-the Phi
losopher's Stone. He could rule 29 ATHENEUM, vol. 9, 2d series.
the nations with it; terrify the Gouls the opening of the dock-gates at and Dives with its grin ; convulse the Portsmouth, or of the locks on the universe with laughter, beyond the Caledonian Canal, you may form power of Liston, and draw more tears some idea of that of the mouth. from Beauty's eyes, than Siddons in I think I said it had opened half Belvidera, or O'Neil in Juliet. The an inch ; to do so it took po less than mouth was, in fact, omnipotent: it three minutes—this I particularly nowould be wronging it to say that it ticed. “ Now," said I, “ this mouth is belonged to the man, for the nan be- capable of expanding at least twelve longed to it. It was to him body and times that length, or six inches. Three soul; and the other parts of his minutes to half an inch make six miframe, such as trunk, limbs, and head, nutes to a whole inch. Six multiplied were merely its appendages. by six, make thirty-six. In all, one
Such were the reflections which, in half hour and six minutes must elapse spite of fate, arose in my mind on before this glorious mouth can attain witnessing this extraordinary pheno- its ne plus ultra." menon, when a circumstance occur While this process was going on, red which gave rise to a new train of day waned apace, and twilight was ideas. Hitherto the mouth had been on the point of being succeeded by quiescent: not a muscle of it had darkness. Those broad floods of light moved, while its appendage, the man, which bathed the pillars with their was employed at his occupation. It lurid lustre, were becoming fainter was fixed, rigid, and apparently as in- and fainter-and nocturnal gloom capable of change as the eternal threatened, in a few minutes, to reiga rocks. I had even begun to wonder 6 Lord of the ascendant." But this whether it possessed the power of approaching obscuration was no imo motion—whether it could open and pediment to the mouth. It opened shut like other mouths—whether, in wider every instant.
At last it at a word, its powers were equal to its tained the climax of its extension; pretensions.
But these unworthy and, wide as it was, would stretch no surmises were soon put to flight; for, farther. The mouth, after all, was on looking attentively, I perceived, not so omnipotent as I supposed, with a feeling of intense awe, that it There were limits to its powers, and began to move. Upon my honour, after thirty-six minutes of incessant the lips began to separate, first a hair- operation, it had done its best. breadth--then two--then three I now began to wonder what object then a whole line, and at last half an my opposite neighbour could have in inch. There was a solemn grandeur opening his mouth to such an apocry; about the process of opening. The phal extent—or rather what could mouth was unquestionably one of too tempt the mouth itself to perform so much importance to open itself on extraordinary an exploit-for, sonetrifling occasions, or in a trifling man- how, I could never think of it as being
It performed the operation under the control of the man. It slowly, deliberately, sublimely; and could not be to eat, for eatables I looked on with the same breathless abound not in libraries; nor to speak, anxiety, as when listening in the for speech requires not such oral diGreat Glen of Scotland to the ex- mensions. It was for neither; the pectant bursting of a thunder-cloud, purpose for which it condescended to which hangs in threatening mood over open itself was nobler far. It was to the summit of Bennevis. To say give a yawn, which sounded through that it resembled a church-door would the apartment-shook me on my seat
, be doing it injustice--no church- and made the proudest folio quiver door, even the main one of Notre like an aspen from its firm foundaDame or St. Paul's ever expanded its tion. I never heard such a yawn: it huge jaws with such deliberate ma was worthy of the great source from jesty. Reader, if you have seen whence it emanated : it was worthy
of the Advocates' Library ; and, as yawn and gape till the “ crack of its echo sounded from shelf to shelf, doom." The Library was robed in from pillar to pillar, and from table darkness-true-but that did not preto table, I thought that it would rival vent me from seeing him. Obscurity the loudest yawn ever uttered by could not shroud him. He still gaped luckless wight, while luxuriating in prodigiously. His mouth was large, the recondite pages of that profound round and deep, and formed a circle philosopher, Dr. Black. Kings might in the centre of his face-a black have owned it, heroes claimed it as circle, only broken at the top of his their own, sages contended for it, nose, which peeped over it-and be. poets sung about it. In one word, it low by his chin, which protruded was worthy of the Man with the forward as if to harmonize with the Mouth. Need more be said ? An. nasal protuberance, and render the swer,
symmetry perfect. I saw also his Nor was this the only yawn. There eyes, that shone like two lambent were one, two, three, each louder lights, and shed a sepulchral lustre than its predecessor. The last in around the boundaries of his awful particular was tremendous, and filled and mysterious mouth. me with awe and admiration. I even Altogether I felt alarmed-still reyawned myself in hopeless rivalry, spect for the remarkable object of my but I might as well have tried to out- meditations bound me to my seat ; brave the thunders of Jove with a and though minutes and hours passed pop-gun, as enter the lists with this by, I was yet gazing intently at it. I most doughty opponent.
could perceive no diminution of its These mighty yawns being at an size: it was still the same yawning end, I naturally concluded that the gulf—the same antar vast," which mouth would resume its former con- gave birth to the portentous yawns, dition-that it would close and be as On one side I sat rapt in a frenzied when I first beheld it. But it closed awe; on the other, sat the Man with not. Dark as the evening was, I saw the Mouth, like an idol, commanding that the man still gaped-that his and compelling my adoration. I knew mouth was as wide as ever : he seem. not what to make of him-or rather ed in truth, yawning though inaudi- of his mouth. There was something bly. He no longer perused upon the surprising in the whole business ; and Chronicle : this the darkness render- now, for the first time, did I feel my ed a hopeless attempt; and he quietly respect for this wonderful feature bedeposited the paper upon the table ginning to decline. The gradual and looked at me—not with his eyes, opening of the feature was fine-the but with his mouth. I cannot de- yawning magnificent--but such a scribe the feelings which pervaded persevering system of gaping seemed me at this time. The room was al- to me absurd. There was somemost pitch dark; no relic of the thing in it which shocked my caussolar influence remained behind ; the ality; and I began to suspect that, pillars had lost the gaudy lustre lent after all, his mouth was a very so so them by the twilight, and stood like affair, scarcely worthy of the time rows of sable giants in their respec- and trouble it had cost me. tive places, while a silence, dread and At last, what with violent excitedrear as the grave, prevailed on ev- ment, and the fatigue of gazing, my ery side. My admiration-my love imagination got violently agitated. I -my respect for the mouth was as no longer saw things with my own great as ever, but in a short time they eyes, but with the optics of fancy, began to be coupled with fear; and and revelled in a profusion of exhad it not been for some mysterious travagant and unbridled thought. witchery exercised upon my under- The man who at first seemed namestanding, I believe I should have less and unknown, was now invested taken leg-bail, and left the man to with a habitation and a name."
His habitation was Eternity, and his raised his hand, and the three hun-
North shook his crutch at him in de“ A change came o'er the spirit of rision-the Shepherd saluted him my dream.”
In a moment the Li- with a guffaw of contempt-Mullion brary, which had been silent, dark, snapped his fingers in his faceand deserted, was lighted up, and ODoherty discharged a brandy botcrowded with wonted visitors. Three tle at his head, and Tickler swore hundred advocates in their gowns he did not value him a pipe-stopper. paraded its vista--three hundred Poor mouth-he was quite chop-fallgentlemen learned in the law ! I en ! was amazed at it-not so Time. He I pitied him. There is something chuckled with delight, and (mirabile painful in witnessing the failure of dictu) gaped wider than before. one who has been invariably victori
It was a night of miracles. Those ous; and in spite of my respect for thousands of tomes which crowded those excellent friends who had set the shelves, seemed stricken with a him at defiance, I would rather have dead palsy. The shelves themselves seen them sucked into his Lethean shook with trepidation, and their in- gulf than witnessed his overthrow. habitants tumbled with“ hideous ruin I pitied him profoundly, for his faculand combustion” upon the floor. ties of devourment were next to Shakspeare, Milton, Scott, and some boundless ; and it was lamentable to others, kept their accustomed births, think that there dwelt on this ball of but the multitudinous mass started earth any power capable of saying, from theirs in dismay, as if some “ thus far shalt thou come, and no dreadful angel had pronounced their farther.” Time, or the Man with doom.
the Mouth, or whatever name we What did Tine ? He raised his choose to call him by, felt his situaright hand, and the volumes, as if tion bitterly. He did not gnash his borne upon some mighty stream, came teeth; that would have been a terushing towards him. I heard their dious business to one whose mouth leaves fluttering in agony; and com- required thirty-six minutes to open, mingled with their agitations, came and doubtless as many to shut--but the groans of living and dead authors, the tears rolled down his pallid bewailing their luckless offspring. cheeks, and deep long-drawn sighs The mouth, as they approached it, of anguish and disappointment progrew wider, and into its abyss sunk ceeded from the bottom of his heart. reams of paper innumerable, black To assuage sorrow was always one ened with oceans of printer's ink. of my principles. My heart is ever
Another freak of Time. He again open “ to the sweet music of huma