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Civil War Harper's Weekly, June 14, 1862

Welcome to our online archive of Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers. This archive contains all the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. Examination of these old newspapers will help you develop a better understanding of this important part of American History.

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JUNE 14, 1862.]

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

375

THE CONFEDERATE MILITARY PRISON AT SALISBLRY, NORTH CAROLINA, WHERE MANY UNION PRISONERS ARE CONFINED.—[DRAWN BY SERGEANT WILL, 20TH MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEERS.]

"I have been there before . . . . Oh!" with a shudder of disgust; "it is a hand—a woman's hand—oh, horrible, horrible!"

Vane whispered across Cleveland, who sat between us:

"She never was there; but she described it all perfectly last time I saw her. To-day I brought a specimen, preserved in spirits, of frightful disease of the hand. She would not, if she saw it, know it for a woman's."

Cleveland's turn was next. He was very pale, and his ungloved right hand was clasped on his heart. The glove had fallen to the ground, and he was absently crushing it with the restless motion of his foot.

"How shall I die ?" was his question, in a deep, tremulous, husky tone that made us all start with sudden horror.

Its effect on the seeress was still more marked. She sprang into a sitting posture, and trembled from head to foot, seeming unable to speak. The question was repeated.

"I—don't—know," she slowly replied: then suddenly, "Oh no, no, NO!" the last word rising to a shriek.

Cleveland's face was, ghastly beyond description or conception. There was a pause: Mr. Arnold exerted himself to calm the girl, and presently called on me for a final question.

"What has become of my brother?"

A moment's hesitating silence—a strange look of surprise, information, horror unspeakable, succeeding one another on her pale, delicate face; and then a fearful, unearthly scream, which froze the very blood in our veins. I never knew before what "spiritual terror" meant. Assuredly I would rather meet any bodily danger than hear that scream and see that face again. Evon Arnold was appalled, or I think he would have interposed before the answer came in words: at first low, tremulous, uncertain; then clear, rapid, agitated, while the girl's whole frame quivered with terrible excitement.

"I see—a mountain of snow, a precipice on one side, a narrow road winding along the edge. Down, down—at the bottom of that precipice, in a dry bed of a stream—there is a body covered with blood—oh, horrible! I can not bear to look. It has been thrown there—thrown down from the road. Wait a moment and I will tell you how. There are two men—they come out of a house, and they are walking up the snow-mountain, along the road, close to the edge of the precipice. One of them turns—he will not go on—he will go back. The other laughs at him; he speaks—I do not hear what they say—he speaks kindly to him. But the pale man is angry; he strikes his friend—oh, God! he has flung him over the precipice; he has murdered him!"

I was horror-struck; I could not rouse myself to think or speak. The girl's look and tone carried conviction, as strong as if the scene she described in these broken sentences had been actually passing before her eyes. Vane's voice it was I heard next:

"What is the murderer like?"

"He is tall, strong, pale—" She sprang suddenly from her seat. "He is HERE!" she screamed, and, laying her hand on Cleveland's shoulder, she exclaimed, with a shriek which rang through the room, "THOU ART THE MAN!"

I need not attempt to portray the scene that followed. Indeed, I could scarcely see or hear. I

only knew that Cleveland had sprung from his seat, dashed aside the arms that were stretched out to seize him, and was gone. The girl had fallen back upon her couch in violent convulsions; and the mesmerist, himself trembling in every limb, was trying to awaken her from the unnatural sleep which had been visited with so fearful a vision.

Vane got me out of the room, I do not recollect how; and when I became fully conscious of what was passing we were on our way to Cleveland's lodgings. Arrived there, Vane inquired if he was in, and was answered, "Yes, Sir; he is just gone up stairs. We were quite frightened about him, he looked so ill." We ran up to the sitting-room, which was on the first floor. The table-drawer was open: in it my dye caught sight of some papers tied in a bundle and directed in Cleveland's bold but irregular hand to me. Beside these was the silver-mounted ivory butt of a small pistol. Cleveland's hat and gloves lay on the table; the owner was not there. My hand was on the latch of the bedroom door, and I had just become aware that it was locked, when the report of a pistol rang in my ear. I felt as if it had been fired close to my head. In another moment Vane sprang at the door, burst it open with his weight, and we entered the bedroom.

Cleveland lay on the bed, his white shirt-front soaked with blood. The still smoking pistol—fellow to that left in the drawer—had fallen from his right hand, which hung by his side. Vane tore open his dress, and we saw a small hole, just above the heart, in the scorched vest and shirt,

from which the blood had sprung over the clothes. Life was already extinct, of course.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

The papers directed to me were produced at the inquest. They contained an account, incoherent but circumstantial, of the murder of my unhappy brother, committed, said the writer, in a moment of passion, utterly unpremeditated, and bitterly repented. The paper closed with some strange and incomprehensible passages, expressive of gratitude and affection for the murdered man. Vane's evidence induced the jury to return a verdict of insanity, and Cleveland's remains received Christian burial.

It was not till the third night after his death that I was able to sleep. Then my slumber was deep and profound; and it was with difficulty that my landlady roused me at nine the next morning to receive "a large foreign letter, which she thought might—might be of consequence." I jumped out of bed mechanically, and received it at the door.

Good Heaven! it was Edward's handwriting—bore, too, a post-mark only five days old. It most have been posted after his death by some one who had taken possession of his papers. I tore it open. More astonishing still, it bore date the same day on which it was posted. A passage in which Cleveland's name occurred at once attracted my eye. It ran as follows:

My unlucky compagnon de voyage has left me. I was forced to let him go; for he quarreled with me, and would have struck me, on a precipitous path, with a sheer descent of a hundred feet on one side, and an equally steep ascent on the other, where one false step would have cost

one or both of us our lives. He had been moody and restless all morning, and finally, as we reached the most dangerous part of the road, stopped, refused to go any further, and declared that he must immediately return to England. I was surprised, and, when I noticed the expression of his eyes, a little alarmed. I tried, however, to laugh him out of his sudden fancy, but had no success; he grew angry, and, when I persisted, struck at me with his alpenstock. I warded the blow; and he instantly turned, and ran down the hill as if the furies pursued him. I waited till he was out of sight, and then retraced my steps, hoping to find him at the hotel. But he had been too rapid in his movements; had paid the bill, and was gone an hour before I arrived, nor could I follow him, for no vehicle or horse was left in the place. If he gets safe back to England, my dear fellow, pray look after him; for—though you must keep it to yourself, or only hint it to Dr. Vane—I am firmly convinced that Cleveland is, or soon will be, INSANE!

Insane! here was the solution of the terrible mystery. Edward was safe and well; and the whole story of the murder was the creation of a diseased brain, of which all who heard it had been the dupes, and of which the deluded author was the wretched victim. The vision of the clairvoyante, coinciding as it did with the story previously written out by the self-imagined murderer, was a mere reflection of his delusion, which hastened his end before Edward's return could dispel the horrible fancy. The event gave such a shock to Arnold that he never ventured to practice the art again.

"And has it not had the same effect on you?" I inquired. "I should have thought it would have caused you to shrink from all such mysteries and mummeries for the future."

"Far from it," returned Clay, seriously. "It seemed to throw a certain light on a difficult and abstruse part of physical science; for I need hardly say that I regard the phenomena of mesmerism and clairvoyance as purely physical, however abnormal; and I intend to follow out the clew, at least till I have learned whether or no all these phenomena may be traced to one cause—which we know to be operative in mesmerism—the influence of one human mind upon another, as metaphysicians would say; or, more properly speaking, of the brain of one human being on the nervous system of another artificially excited and peculiarly susceptible. If it be true, as I suspect, that no clairvoyante ever has told us or ever can tell us any thing that has not already passed through the mind of some living and present mortal—that they all are mere receptive mirrors of other minds—such evidence as I shall collect will go far to establish the truth, and to set men's minds at rest about the mystery; perhaps to teach them that, while on the stage of life, we are to be indulged with no real glimpses behind the curtain. You have let your pipe go out; mine is smoked to an end; good-night."

I did not sleep well that night, I confess.

UNION PRISONERS IN NORTH
CAROLINA.

WE publish on this page a view of the CONFEDERATE MILITARY PRISON AT SALISBURY, NORTH CAROLINA, where the gallant Colonel Corcoran is confined. Our picture is from a sketch by Sergeant F. Will, Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteers. On the same page we publish a picture, from a sketch by our special artist, Mr. Angelo Wiser, of RELEASED UNION PRISONERS COMING THROUGH THE DRAW-BRIDGE AT WASHINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA. They were on board two scows and a steamer.

RELEASE OF UNION PRISONERS TO GENERAL BURNSIDE, AT WASHINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA.—[SKETCHED BY MR. ANGELO WISER.]

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