Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/139

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111
SUPERHUMAN HORRORS.

Night is a presence. The presence of what? For that matter we must distinguish between night and the shadowy. In the night there is the absolute; in the shadowy, the multiple. The night is one, the shadowy is made up of many. In this infinite and indefinite shadowy lives something or some one; but that which lives there forms part of our death. After our earthly career, when the shadowy will be clear to us, the life which is beyond will seize us; meanwhile it appears to touch and try us. Obscurity is a pressure. Night is, as it were, a hand placed on our soul; at certain hideous and solemn hours we feel that which is beyond the wall of the tomb encroaching on us.

Never does this proximity of the unknown seem more imminent than in storms at sea. The horrible combines with the fantastic. The possible interrupter of human actions, the old Cloud-compeller, has it in his power to mould, in whatsoever shape he chooses, the changing elements, the wild incoherence, and aimless force. That mystery the tempest is ever accepting and executing some unknown change of real or apparent will. Poets in all ages have called the waves capricious; but there is no such thing as caprice. The disconcerting enigmas in Nature which we call caprice, and in human life chance, are the results of unseen and incomprehensible laws.