Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Carl Werner: An Imaginative Story >> Page 93

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription CARL WERNER93
as the appearance of the spectre is the work of God, himself, with
Him the toil is equally easy of giving the spirit its guise of flesh and
fashion, and of preparing the mind of the spectator so that his eye
shall behold the object, whether it appear in reality or not."
"The subject is one," said my friend, "which invariably forces
itself upon me when I am in solitude. We are now in a place singu-
larly accommodated to thoughts and things of this nature. There is a
venerable gloom and gravity about these old trees. You see that
none of them are young, yet the grounds have neither been cleared
nor grubbed, to my recollection, for many years. The aged branches
have stretched out innumerable arms, and bend, with their accumu-
lated weight of years upon them, even to the ground. They have the
air of a group of sainted Druids, such as the Romans annihilated.
Black and frowning, yonder mountain overhangs the wood, protect-
ing, yet threatening. It has the look of a blasted thing, and it must
be a haunted one. The ruins which you behold at a little distance to
the left, admirably consort with the rest of the picture. A gray mist
seems to hang over and to hallow them, until even the beautiful
knoll of green which rises in front of them seems offensively garish
from the exceeding depth of its contrast. Those are the ruins of an
ancient monastery, which the superstitious fancies of the neighbor-
hood have long since peopled with a fraternity of immaterials, suffi-
ciently numerous and wild to consecrate to their peculiar purposes a
situation of the kind. They are not often intruded upon, except by
myself; and as I have a story to tell which properly belongs to them,
it will not be out of place if I tell it to you there. Some of the old
monuments will give us a pleasant seat, and among the dead only, as
we then shall be, we shall be in no danger of suffering interruption
or disturbance from the idle footstep of the obtrusive living.
II.
"We are in Germany," continued my companion, "of course
I do not tell you this with any other object, than simply to remind
you, that you are in a land, of all others, one of the most renowned
for its superstitions, its wild fancies, its marvellous imaginations. The
minds of its people have become spiritualized by the popular faith;
and thought takes the shape of poetry at its birth, and fancy is busy