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Authors: Sheridan Le Fanu

In a Glass Darkly

BOOK: In a Glass Darkly
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In a Glass Darkly
First published in 1872.

ISBN 978-1-775415-28-2


While every effort has been used to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information contained in The Floating Press edition of this book, The Floating Press does not assume liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in this book. The Floating Press does not accept responsibility for loss suffered as a result of reliance upon the accuracy or currency of information contained in this book. Do not use while operating a motor vehicle or heavy equipment. Many suitcases look alike.



Prologue — Martin Hesselius, the German Physician
Chapter I
— Dr. Hesselius Relates how He Met the Rev. Mr. Jennings
Chapter II
— The Doctor Questions Lady Mary and She Answers
Chapter III
— Dr. Hesselius Picks Up Something in Latin Books
Chapter IV
— Four Eyes Were Reading the Passage
Chapter V
— Dr. Hesselius is Summoned to Richmond
Chapter VI
— How Mr. Jennings Met His Companion
Chapter VII
— The Journey: First Stage
Chapter VIII
— The Second Stage
Chapter IX
— The Third Stage
Chapter X
— Home
— A Word for Those who Suffer
Chapter I
— Footsteps
Chapter II
— The Watcher
Chapter III
— An Advertisement
Chapter IV
— He Talks with a Clergyman
Chapter V
— Mr. Barton States His Case
Chapter VI
— Seen Again
Chapter VII
— Flight
Chapter VIII
— Softened
Chapter IX
— Requiescat
Postscript by the Editor
Chapter I
— The Judge's House
Chapter II
— Mr. Peters
Chapter III
— Lewis Pyneweck
Chapter IV
— Interruption in Court
Chapter V
— Caleb Searcher
Chapter VI
— Arrested
Chapter VII
— Chief-Justice Twofold
Chapter VIII
— Somebody Has Got Into the House
Chapter IX
— The Judge Leaves His House
Chapter I
— On the Road
Chapter II
— The Inn-Yard of the Belle Étoile
Chapter III
— Death and Love Together Mated
Chapter IV
— Monsieur Droqville
Chapter V
— Supper at the Belle Étoile
Chapter VI
— The Naked Sword
Chapter VII
— The White Rose
Chapter VIII
— A Three Minutes' Visit
Chapter IX
— Gossip and Counsel
Chapter X
— The Black Veil
Chapter XI
— The Dragon Volant
Chapter XII
— The Magician
Chapter XIII
— The Oracle Tells Me Wonders
Chapter XIV
— Mademoiselle De La Vallière
Chapter XV
— Strange Story of the Dragon Volant
Chapter XVI
— The Parc of the Château De La Carque
Chapter XVII
— The Tenant of the Palanquin
Chapter XVIII
— The Churchyard
Chapter XIX
— The Key
Chapter XX
— A High-Cauld-Cap
Chapter XXI
— I See Three Men in a Mirror
Chapter XXII
— Rapture
Chapter XXIII
— A Cup of Coffee
Chapter XXIV
— Hope
Chapter XXV
— Despair
Chapter XXVI
— Catastrophe
Chapter I
— An Early Fright
Chapter II
— A Guest
Chapter III
— We Compare Notes
Chapter IV
— Her Habits—A Saunter
Chapter V
— A Wonderful Likeness
Chapter VI
— A Very Strange Agony
Chapter VII
— Descending
Chapter VIII
— Search
Chapter IX
— The Doctor
Chapter X
— Bereaved
Chapter XI
— The Story
Chapter XII
— A Petition
Chapter XIII
— The Woodman
Chapter XIV
— The Meeting
Chapter XV
— Ordeal and Execution
Chapter XVI
— Conclusion

Prologue — Martin Hesselius, the German Physician

Though carefully educated in medicine and surgery, I have never
practised either. The study of each continues, nevertheless, to interest
me profoundly. Neither idleness nor caprice caused my secession from the
honourable calling which I had just entered. The cause was a very
trifling scratch inflicted by a dissecting knife. This trifle cost me
the loss of two fingers, amputated promptly, and the more painful loss
of my health, for I have never been quite well since, and have seldom
been twelve months together in the same place.

In my wanderings I became acquainted with Dr. Martin Hesselius, a
wanderer like myself, like me a physician, and like me an enthusiast in
his profession. Unlike me in this, that his wanderings were voluntary,
and he a man, if not of fortune, as we estimate fortune in England, at
least in what our forefathers used to term "easy circumstances." He was
an old man when I first saw him; nearly five-and-thirty years my senior.

In Dr. Martin Hesselius, I found my master. His knowledge was immense,
his grasp of a case was an intuition. He was the very man to inspire a
young enthusiast, like me, with awe and delight. My admiration has stood
the test of time and survived the separation of death. I am sure it was

For nearly twenty years I acted as his medical secretary. His immense
collection of papers he has left in my care, to be arranged, indexed and
bound. His treatment of some of these cases is curious. He writes in two
distinct characters. He describes what he saw and heard as an
intelligent layman might, and when in this style of narrative he had
seen the patient either through his own hall-door, to the light of day,
or through the gates of darkness to the caverns of the dead, he returns
upon the narrative, and in the terms of his art and with all the force
and originality of genius, proceeds to the work of analysis, diagnosis
and illustration.

Here and there a case strikes me as of a kind to amuse or horrify a lay
reader with an interest quite different from the peculiar one which it
may possess for an expert. With slight modifications, chiefly of
language, and of course a change of names, I copy the following. The
narrator is Dr. Martin Hesselius. I find it among the voluminous notes
of cases which he made during a tour in England about sixty-four years

It is related in series of letters to his friend Professor Van Loo of
Leyden. The professor was not a physician, but a chemist, and a man who
read history and metaphysics and medicine, and had, in his day, written
a play.

The narrative is therefore, if somewhat less valuable as a medical
record, necessarily written in a manner more likely to interest an
unlearned reader.

These letters, from a memorandum attached, appear to have been returned
on the death of the professor, in 1819, to Dr. Hesselius. They are
written, some in English, some in French, but the greater part in
German. I am a faithful, though I am conscious, by no means a graceful
translator, and although here and there I omit some passages, and
shorten others, and disguise names, I have interpolated nothing.

Chapter I
— Dr. Hesselius Relates how He Met the Rev. Mr. Jennings

The Rev. Mr. Jennings is tall and thin. He is middle-aged, and dresses
with a natty, old-fashioned, high-church precision. He is naturally a
little stately, but not at all stiff. His features, without being
handsome, are well formed, and their expression extremely kind, but also

I met him one evening at Lady Mary Heyduke's. The modesty and
benevolence of his countenance are extremely prepossessing.

We were but a small party, and he joined agreeably enough in the
conversation, He seems to enjoy listening very much more than
contributing to the talk; but what he says is always to the purpose and
well said. He is a great favourite of Lady Mary's, who it seems,
consults him upon many things, and thinks him the most happy and blessed
person on earth. Little knows she about him.

The Rev. Mr. Jennings is a bachelor, and has, they say sixty thousand
pounds in the funds. He is a charitable man. He is most anxious to be
actively employed in his sacred profession, and yet though always
tolerably well elsewhere, when he goes down to his vicarage in
Warwickshire, to engage in the actual duties of his sacred calling, his
health soon fails him, and in a very strange way. So says Lady Mary.

There is no doubt that Mr. Jennings' health does break down in,
generally, a sudden and mysterious way, sometimes in the very act of
officiating in his old and pretty church at Kenlis. It may be his heart,
it may be his brain. But so it has happened three or four times, or
oftener, that after proceeding a certain way in the service, he has on a
sudden stopped short, and after a silence, apparently quite unable to
resume, he has fallen into solitary, inaudible prayer, his hands and his
eyes uplifted, and then pale as death, and in the agitation of a strange
shame and horror, descended trembling, and got into the vestry-room,
leaving his congregation, without explanation, to themselves. This
occurred when his curate was absent. When he goes down to Kenlis now, he
always takes care to provide a clergyman to share his duty, and to
supply his place on the instant should he become thus suddenly

When Mr. Jennings breaks down quite, and beats a retreat from the
vicarage, and returns to London, where, in a dark street off Piccadilly,
he inhabits a very narrow house, Lady Mary says that he is always
perfectly well. I have my own opinion about that. There are degrees of
course. We shall see.

Mr. Jennings is a perfectly gentlemanlike man. People, however, remark
something odd. There is an impression a little ambiguous. One thing
which certainly contributes to it, people I think don't remember; or,
perhaps, distinctly remark. But I did, almost immediately. Mr. Jennings
has a way of looking sidelong upon the carpet, as if his eye followed
the movements of something there. This, of course, is not always. It
occurs now and then. But often enough to give a certain oddity, as I
have said, to his manner, and in this glance travelling along the floor
there is something both shy and anxious.

A medical philosopher, as you are good enough to call me, elaborating
theories by the aid of cases sought out by himself, and by him watched
and scrutinised with more time at command, and consequently infinitely
more minuteness than the ordinary practitioner can afford, falls
insensibly into habits of observation, which accompany him everywhere,
and are exercised, as some people would say, impertinently, upon every
subject that presents itself with the least likelihood of rewarding

There was a promise of this kind in the slight, timid, kindly, but
reserved gentleman, whom I met for the first time at this agreeable
little evening gathering. I observed, of course, more than I here set
down; but I reserve all that borders on the technical for a strictly
scientific paper.

BOOK: In a Glass Darkly
8.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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