He bore the name of Charles Dexter Ward, and was placed under restraint most Only Dr. Willett, who brought Charles Ward into the world and had watched his The discovery took place at about four o'clock, when Hart's attention was. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is a short horror novel (51, words) by American writer He is killed again, presumably for good, by Dr Willett using Curwen's own sorcery. . In , Dan O'Bannon filmed a more faithful adaptation, The Resurrected, starring John . Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version. The Virtual Library - Free online ebooks in pdf, epub, kindle and other formats. Free ebooks in English, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. English. Book ID.
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H.P. Lovecraft - Il Caso Di Charles Dexter medical-site.info - Noblogs. medical-site.info Views. 5 years ago. Willett, · Curwen, · Dopo, · Dottor, · Signor, · Giovane, · Casa, . Track down your missing twin in Haunted Hotel: Charles Dexter Ward. El caso de Charles Dexter Ward (en inglés The Case of Charles Dexter Ward) es una. Este es el primer libro que leo de Lovecraft (además del Necromicón, que es más que .. "Il caso di Charles Dexter Ward" si presenta sotto forma di freddo e.
Charles Dexter Ward is a young man from a prominent Rhode Island family who has disappeared from a mental asylum. He had been incarcerated during a prolonged period of insanity, during which he exhibited minor and inexplicable physiological changes.
His empty cell is found to be very dusty. The bulk of the story concerns the investigation conducted by the Wards' family doctor, Marinus Bicknell Willett, in an attempt to discover the reason for Ward's madness and physiological changes. Willett learns that Ward had spent the past several years attempting to discover the grave of his ill-reputed ancestor, Joseph Curwen.
The doctor slowly begins to reveal the truth behind the legends surrounding Curwen, an eighteenth-century shipping entrepreneur and alleged alchemist , who was in reality a necromancer and mass murderer. A raid on Curwen's farm was remarkable for the shouted incantations, lights, explosions, and some not-quite-human figures shot down by the raiders. The raiders swore any witnesses to strict secrecy about what they saw and heard.
As Willett's investigations proceed, he finds that Charles had recovered Curwen's ashes, and through the use of magical formulae contained in documents found hidden in Curwen's home in Providence , was able to call forth Curwen from his "essential saltes" and resurrect him.
Willett also finds that Curwen, who resembles Charles enough to pass for him, murdered and replaced his modern descendant and resumed his evil activities. Although Curwen convinces onlookers that he is Charles, his anachronistic mindset and behaviour lead authorities to certify him insane and imprison him in an asylum.
While Curwen is locked up, Willett's investigation leads him to a bungalow in Pawtuxet Village , which Ward had downloadd while under the influence of Curwen. The house is on the site of the old farm which was Curwen's headquarters for his nefarious doings; beneath is a vast catacomb that the wizard had built as a lair during his previous lifetime. During a horrific journey through this labyrinth, in which Willett sees a deformed monster in a pit, he discovers the truth about Curwen's crimes and also the means of returning him to the grave.
It is also revealed that Curwen has been engaged in a long-term conspiracy with certain other necromancers, associates from his previous life who have somehow escaped death, to resurrect and torture the world's wisest people to gain knowledge that will make them powerful and threaten the future of mankind. While in Curwen's laboratory, Willett accidentally summons an ancient entity who is an enemy of Curwen and his fellow necromancers. The doctor faints, awakening much later in the bungalow.
The entrance to the vaults has been sealed as if it had never existed, but Willett finds a note from the being written in Latin instructing him to kill Curwen and destroy his body. Willett confronts Curwen at the asylum and succeeds in reversing the resurrection spell, returning the sorcerer to dust. News reports reveal that Curwen's prime co-conspirators and their households have met brutal deaths, and their lairs have been destroyed.
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is the longest work of fiction produced by Lovecraft and is his only novel coming in at about pages. Much of the novel is told in epistolary format as a serious of diary entries, newspaper clippings, and quotes from journals and reports. Marinus Willett, begins investigating the weird goings on. As the mystery slowly unfolds, Willett eventually discovers In sum, I thought this was outstanding.
However, those minor nits aside, this is a definite must read for fans of HPL. View all 15 comments.
Jul 10, Char rated it really liked it Shelves: It was like some of the carvings on the hellish altar, but it was alive. Nature had never made it in this form, for it was too palpably unfinished. The deficiencies were of the most surprising sort, and the abnormalities of proportion could not be described. Reading this reminded me how much I love this type of writing. I hereby vow to read more of Lovecraft " What the thing was, he would never tell. I hereby vow to read more of Lovecraft's work this year.
Yeah, I made a vow, baby. A vow! View all 16 comments. Oct 18, Apatt rated it liked it. It is also a fine example of his penchant for convoluted sentence structures. When I read At the Mountains of Madness I felt that Lovecraft is preferable in smaller doses, that is when his stories are not novel or even novella length. It seems that when he gives himself elbow room with the longer format he overindulges his tendency to ramble, overwrite and include unnecessary details.
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward reinforces this impression for me. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is basically about an undead necromancer called Joseph Curwen who is foolishly resurrected by his descendent the eponymous Charles Dexter Ward through evocations, and other black magic shenanigans. One thing I noticed about reading Lovecraft is that the creepy atmosphere is more effective if you read the stories in a quiet room, unfortunately, I read this book in a living room while family members are watching TV and it rendered the creep factor completely ineffective.
The usual Lovecraftian tropes are all accounted for, the awful smells, the creepy noises, the creaking, the screaming and what not. Poor Cthulhu does not get a look in though his cousin Yog-Sothoth is often referred to. As I mentioned before he is more readable in short story format.
At novel length he tends to repeat himself with the description of funny smells, funny noises etc. The faux-archaic English passages are also hard to decipher. Lovecraft seems to aspire to be a literary prose stylist, unfortunately, his literary ambition exceeds his talent.
A scene from this story by keren-or The climax of the story is unexpected though, it makes the whole thing almost worthwhile. I also particularly like this passage: To call it a dull wail, a doom-dragged whine, or a hopeless howl of chorused anguish and stricken flesh without mind would be to miss its quintessential loathsomeness and soul-sickening overtones.
Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre. Exactly what it says on the tin. View all 9 comments. The blurb says: A nameless terror surges through centuries to engulf the soul of Charles Dexter Ward, a brilliant New England antiquarian.
Rather amusing in retrospect, as the character doesn't seem to realize the danger until near the end; if the book were written from Ward's perspective, presumably he would be having a satisfying few years of progressing in his fascinating historical research. His family, too, is only mildly concerned, wishing he would write more often and maybe get a girlfrie The blurb says: His family, too, is only mildly concerned, wishing he would write more often and maybe get a girlfriend.
Only the omniscient narrator is really worried. The Horror is mostly rather understated, but the monstrosities are classic Lovecraft: It is hard to explain just how the single sight of a tangible object with measurable dimensions could so shake and change a man; and we may only say that there is about certain outlines and entities a power of symbolism and suggestion which acts frightfully on a sensitive thinker's perspective and whispers terrible hints of obscure cosmic relationships and unnameable realities behind the protective illusions of common vision.
It's kind of sweet on some level that Lovecraft thinks it is fine for grown men to scream hysterically and maybe faint when they see scary stuff. Not the 18th century guys, though; they were made of sterner stuff back then and only have PTSD when the action is over. I enjoyed this book. The prose is somewhat less purple than is oft Lovecraft's wont -- my impression is that he is a lot more lurid when writing about the Dreamlands and other Unknown exotic locations than when using real world settings this is set in an area he knew himself, and that is clear from the descriptions of streets and houses and neighborhoods; it may be extra enjoyable if you are from this bit of New England yourself.
My edition, which is the Creation Oneiros one, had enough typos to be mildly distracting, but on the plus side did not have the claustrophobically squashed print I've encountered in several Lovecraft reprints. View all 12 comments. Mar 09, Lyn rated it really liked it. Lovecraft is definitely one of his best works and this is a high compliment, as I have liked almost all that I have read from him.
This work, first published in , combines most of the themes common to his works: The other element of this book that is noteworthy is the scope of influence that Lovecraft created. If you like the horror genre, this is a must read, and if you have never read a Lovecraft work, this is a good one to start. A very good read. View all 5 comments. Oct 30, Alejandro rated it liked it Shelves: Insidious investigation!
But sometimes, the pas Insidious investigation! But sometimes, the past must be left in the past! Feb 17, Bill Kerwin rated it liked it Shelves: For years I thought H. It evokes H. It really is a bit of a yawner, though, particularly the Curwen sections. Too much about the colonial period is related third hand by narrator Marinus Bicknell Willett, whose veiled hints and slightly pompous objectivity often almost put me to sleep.
At least twice, it did put me to sleep. The use of contemporaneous accounts culled from diaries and letters would have made the this early narrative more vivid, but without them it is only the final raid by the good men of Providence that makes the Curwen story come alive. There was something else, though, that interested me this time around.
My advice is to give Ward try. View 1 comment. May 16, Leonard Gaya rated it liked it. After some short stories such as The Rats in the Walls , The Shunned House or The Call of Cthulhu , it is the first work of fiction that has the dimension of a full novel and goes over the themes he had previously developed. The discovery of a repulsive cult, most evocative of Alchemy, Qabalah or Voodoo —or rather a depraved or primitive version of these esoteric practices.
A hoard of letters or notes, written in a cryptic, foul language —including a copy of the Necronomicon by the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. Finally the unearthing of a ghastly secret, hidden in a stifling underground, that presents a threat of cosmic proportions.
Valdemar , in mind. Jekyll and Mr. All in all, however, Lovecraft's story is perhaps overly complex for a short novel, with many irrelevant background descriptions and epistolary texts about colonial Rhode Island; or maybe too stretched out for a short story, which makes it a bit winding and difficult to follow. Yes, it can be slow. Yes, he can be overly descriptive.
Yes, there is an omniscient narrator. Yes, there is lots of retelling. And in most cases, some of those annoy me too.
However, all of it pales in front of his extraordinary imagination and the atmosphere you find in his stories.
It doesn't matter if it is a short story or a longer one. He is one of a kind and The Case of Charle 4. He is one of a kind and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is one of those stories that shows just how great Lovecraft was. He 'was placed under restraint most reluctantly by the grieving father who had watched his aberration grow from a mere eccentricity to a dark mania involving both a possibility of murderous tendencies and a profound and peculiar change in the apparent contents of his mind'.
Charles seemed to switch his personality to the one from eighteenth century. Even his physical appearance was changed. The last person to talk to him before his escape is his family physician, Dr. Marinus Bicknell Willett. The only thing left in the room is a strange blue powder. From Ward's unhealthy interest in his ancestor Joseph Curwen who came from Salem during the witch-hunt trials to all the changes everyone noticed. It goes even further in the past, because there is a story within a story here.
Who was Joseph Curwen? What did he do? What happened to him? Why would someone try to erase every trace of him? From Ward's research, private letters and rare diaries he managed to find, he found out that his ancestor 'was marvelled at, feared, and finally shunned like a plague'.
You already know where Charles Dexter Ward would end up, but his path from a solitary young antiquarian to the changed man the doctor left in that hospital room is a remarkable story. Considering that Dr. Willett is the one who brought him into this world, the ending is extraordinary and the doctor one of my favourite characters I've read. Mar 21, Werner rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Fans of "horror" and horrific science fiction.
Though Lovecraft is a favorite writer of mine, until now this book one of only two novel-length pieces he ever wrote has been one I hadn't gotten around to reviewing. It was recently nominated as a common read in my Supernatural Fiction Readers group; and though it wasn't the one chosen, that reminded me of it, and I resolved to correct the lapse.
It's one of my favorite Lovecraft works, and certainly one I highly recommend to other readers who like this type of fiction. The Goodreads descripti Though Lovecraft is a favorite writer of mine, until now this book one of only two novel-length pieces he ever wrote has been one I hadn't gotten around to reviewing.
The Goodreads description for this edition which isn't the one I read doesn't really give you any accurate clue as to what the book is about, and the reference to "magic" is erroneous; like Poe, Lovecraft tended to eschew magical causes for his horrific plots, preferring naturalistic explanations.
Nonetheless, this novella reads a lot like supernatural fiction, both in mood, tone and style and in the fact that his "science" operates in ways that in practice might be easily mistaken for magic. The premise here is that in colonial New England, a would-be sorcerer has learned both how to extend his life far beyond its natural limit, and how to reanimate even the long-dead which some old-time alchemists actually believed was possible by the proper treatment of their "essential saltes".
His villainous activities are destined to have sinister results, both in his own time and that of the author. Though it was published posthumously in , it was actually written shortly after World War I. To avoid spoilers, I won't elaborate further. Some Lovecraftians characterize this as one of his "non-Cthulhu" works. To be sure, it was written well before "The Call of Cthulhu" , and the agent of evil here is a human being, not a Great Old One. But there are indications that some of the motifs of the Mythos were already germinating in the author's mind.
It's indicated that the baddie got his information from occult traffic with unhallowed elder beings from beyond the earth "Those Outside" , and one scene in particular depicts a hidden-away place with phenomena that could come from out of any of the later Mythos stories. Indeed, Lovecraft himself almost certainly never divided his works into those two neat categories in his own mind. As decades mounted up, this singular quality began to excite wide notice; but Curwen always explained it by saying that he came of hardy forefathers, and practiced a simplicity of living which did not wear him out.
How such simplicity could be reconciled with the inexplicable comings and goings of the secretive merchant, and with the queer gleaming of his windows at all hours of night, was not very clear to the townsfolk; and they were prone to assign other reasons for his continued youth and longevity. Gossip spoke of the strange substances he brought from London and the Indies on his ships or downloadd in Newport, Boston, and New York; and when old Dr.
Jabez Bowen came from Rehoboth and opened his apothecary shop across the Great Bridge at the Sign of the Unicorn and Mortar, there was ceaseless talk of the drugs, acids, and metals that the taciturn recluse incessantly bought or ordered from him.
Acting on the assumption that Curwen possessed a wondrous and secret medical skill, many sufferers of various sorts applied to him for aid; but though he appeared to encourage their belief in a non-committal way, and always gave them odd-coloured potions in response to their requests, it was observed that his ministrations to others seldom proved of benefit. Private letters and diaries of the period reveal, too, a multitude of other reasons why Joseph Curwen was marvelled at, feared, and finally shunned like a plague.
His passion for graveyards, in which he was glimpsed at all hours and under all conditions, was notorious; though no one had witnessed any deed on his part which could actually be termed ghoulish. On the Pawtuxet Road he had a farm, at which he generally lived during the summer, and to which he would frequently be seen riding at various odd times of the day or night.
Here his only visible servants, farmers, and caretakers were a sullen pair of aged Narragansett Indians; the husband dumb and curiously scarred, and the wife of a very repulsive cast of countenance, probably due to a mixture of negro blood. In the lean-to of this house was the laboratory where most of the chemical experiments were conducted.
The nearest neighbours to this farm—the Fenners, a quarter of a mile away—had still queerer things to tell of certain sounds which they insisted came from the Curwen place in the night. There were cries, they said, and sustained howlings; and they did not like the large number of livestock which thronged the pastures, for no such amount was needed to keep a lone old man and a very few servants in meat, milk, and wool.
The identity of the stock seemed to change from week to week as new droves were downloadd from the Kingstown farmers. Then, too, there was something very obnoxious about a certain great stone outbuilding with only high narrow slits for windows.
Here there was less mystery, it is true; but the hours at which lights were seen, the secretiveness of the two swarthy foreigners who comprised the only menservants, the hideous indistinct mumbling of the incredibly aged French housekeeper, the large amounts of food seen to enter a door within which only four persons lived, and the quality of certain voices often heard in muffled conversation at highly unseasonable times, all combined with what was known of the Pawtuxet farm to give the place a bad name.
In choicer circles, too, the Curwen home was by no means undiscussed; for as the newcomer had gradually worked into the church and trading life of the town, he had naturally made acquaintances of the better sort, whose company and conversation he was well fitted by education to enjoy. His birth was known to be good, since the Curwens or Corwins of Salem needed no introduction in New England. It developed that Joseph Curwen had travelled much in very early life, living for a time in England and making at least two voyages to the Orient; and his speech, when he deigned to use it, was that of a learned and cultivated Englishman.
But for some reason or other Curwen did not care for society. Whilst never actually rebuffing a visitor, he always reared such a wall of reserve that few could think of anything to say to him which would not sound inane. There seemed to lurk in his bearing some cryptic, sardonic arrogance, as if he had come to find all human beings dull through having moved among stranger and more potent entities.
When Dr. Charles Ward told his father, when they discussed Curwen one winter evening, that he would give much to learn what the mysterious old man had said to the sprightly cleric, but that all diarists agree concerning Dr. The good man had been hideously shocked, and could never recall Joseph Curwen without a visible loss of the gay urbanity for which he was famed.
More definite, however, was the reason why another man of taste and breeding avoided the haughty hermit. In Mr. John Merritt, an elderly English gentleman of literary and scientific leanings, came from Newport to the town which was so rapidly overtaking it in standing, and built a fine country seat on the Neck in what is now the heart of the best residence section.
He lived in considerable style and comfort, keeping the first coach and liveried servants in town, and taking great pride in his telescope, his microscope, and his well-chosen library of English and Latin books. Hearing of Curwen as the owner of the best library in Providence, Mr. Merritt early paid him a call, and was more cordially received than most other callers at the house had been.
Merritt always confessed to seeing nothing really horrible at the farmhouse, but maintained that the titles of the books in the special library of thaumaturgical, alchemical, and theological subjects which Curwen kept in a front room were alone sufficient to inspire him with a lasting loathing.
Perhaps, however, the facial expression of the owner in exhibiting them contributed much of the prejudice. The bizarre collection, besides a host of standard works which Mr. Merritt was not too alarmed to envy, embraced nearly all the cabbalists, daemonologists, and magicians known to man; and was a treasure-house of lore in the doubtful realms of alchemy and astrology.
Mediaeval Jews and Arabs were represented in profusion, and Mr. Merritt turned pale when, upon taking down a fine volume conspicuously labelled as the Qanoon-e-Islam, he found it was in truth the forbidden Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred, of which he had heard such monstrous things whispered some years previously after the exposure of nameless rites at the strange little fishing village of Kingsport, in the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay.
But oddly enough, the worthy gentleman owned himself most impalpably disquieted by a mere minor detail. The book was open at about its middle, and one paragraph displayed such thick and tremulous pen-strokes beneath the lines of mystic black-letter that the visitor could not resist scanning it through.
Whether it was the nature of the passage underscored, or the feverish heaviness of the strokes which formed the underscoring, he could not tell; but something in that combination affected him very badly and very peculiarly. He recalled it to the end of his days, writing it down from memory in his diary and once trying to recite it to his close friend Dr. Checkley till he saw how greatly it disturbed the urbane rector. It read: Sailors are superstitious folk; and the seasoned salts who manned the infinite rum, slave, and molasses sloops, the rakish privateers, and the great brigs of the Browns, Crawfords, and Tillinghasts, all made strange furtive signs of protection when they saw the slim, deceptively young-looking figure with its yellow hair and slight stoop entering the Curwen warehouse in Doubloon Street or talking with captains and supercargoes on the long quay where the Curwen ships rode restlessly.
Eustatius, Havana, or Port Royal. It was, in a way, the frequency with which these sailors were replaced which inspired the acutest and most tangible part of the fear in which the old man was held.
A crew would be turned loose in the town on shore leave, some of its members perhaps charged with this errand or that; and when reassembled it would be almost sure to lack one or more men. That many of the errands had concerned the farm on the Pawtuxet Road, and that few of the sailors had ever been seen to return from that place, was not forgotten; so that in time it became exceedingly difficult for Curwen to keep his oddly assorted hands.
Almost invariably several would desert soon after hearing the gossip of the Providence wharves, and their replacement in the West Indies became an increasingly great problem to the merchant.
In Joseph Curwen was virtually an outcast, suspected of vague horrors and daemoniac alliances which seemed all the more menacing because they could not be named, understood, or even proved to exist. The last straw may have come from the affair of the missing soldiers in , for in March and April of that year two Royal regiments on their way to New France were quartered in Providence, and depleted by an inexplicable process far beyond the average rate of desertion.
Rumour dwelt on the frequency with which Curwen was wont to be seen talking with the red-coated strangers; and as several of them began to be missed, people thought of the odd conditions among his own seamen. What would have happened if the regiments had not been ordered on, no one can tell. Such shopkeepers as James Green, at the Sign of the Elephant in Cheapside, the Russells, at the Sign of the Golden Eagle across the Bridge, or Clark and Nightingale at the Frying-Pan and Fish near the New Coffee-House, depended almost wholly upon him for their stock; and his arrangements with the local distillers, the Narragansett dairymen and horse-breeders, and the Newport candle-makers, made him one of the prime exporters of the Colony.
Ostracised though he was, he did not lack for civic spirit of a sort. When the Colony House burned down, he subscribed handsomely to the lotteries by which the new brick one—still standing at the head of its parade in the old main street—was built in In that same year, too, he helped rebuild the Great Bridge after the October gale.
About this time, also, he built the plain but excellent new house whose doorway is still such a triumph of carving. When the Whitefield adherents broke off from Dr. Now, however, he cultivated piety once more; as if to dispel the shadow which had thrown him into isolation and would soon begin to wreck his business fortunes if not sharply checked. The sight of this strange, pallid man, hardly middle-aged in aspect yet certainly not less than a full century old, seeking at last to emerge from a cloud of fright and detestation too vague to pin down or analyse, was at once a pathetic, a dramatic, and a contemptible thing.
Such is the power of wealth and of surface gestures, however, that there came indeed a slight abatement in the visible aversion displayed toward him; especially after the rapid disappearances of his sailors abruptly ceased.
He must likewise have begun to practice an extreme care and secrecy in his graveyard expeditions, for he was never again caught at such wanderings; whilst the rumours of uncanny sounds and manoeuvres at his Pawtuxet farm diminished in proportion. His rate of food consumption and cattle replacement remained abnormally high; but not until modern times, when Charles Ward examined a set of his accounts and invoices in the Shepley Library, did it occur to any person—save one embittered youth, perhaps—to make dark comparisons between the large number of Guinea blacks he imported until , and the disturbingly small number for whom he could produce bona fide bills of sale either to slave-dealers at the Great Bridge or to the planters of the Narragansett Country.
Certainly, the cunning and ingenuity of this abhorred character were uncannily profound, once the necessity for their exercise had become impressed upon him.
But of course the effect of all this belated mending was necessarily slight.
Curwen continued to be avoided and distrusted, as indeed the one fact of his continued air of youth at a great age would have been enough to warrant; and he could see that in the end his fortunes would be likely to suffer. His elaborate studies and experiments, whatever they may have been, apparently required a heavy income for their maintenance; and since a change of environment would deprive him of the trading advantages he had gained, it would not have profited him to begin anew in a different region just then.
Judgment demanded that he patch up his relations with the townsfolk of Providence, so that his presence might no longer be a signal for hushed conversation, transparent excuses of errands elsewhere, and a general atmosphere of constraint and uneasiness.
His clerks, being now reduced to the shiftless and impecunious residue whom no one else would employ, were giving him much worry; and he held to his sea-captains and mates only by shrewdness in gaining some kind of ascendancy over them—a mortgage, a promissory note, or a bit of information very pertinent to their welfare.
In many cases, diarists have recorded with some awe, Curwen shewed almost the power of a wizard in unearthing family secrets for questionable use. About this time the crafty scholar hit upon a last desperate expedient to regain his footing in the community.
Hitherto a complete hermit, he now determined to contract an advantageous marriage; securing as a bride some lady whose unquestioned position would make all ostracism of his home impossible. It may be that he also had deeper reasons for wishing an alliance; reasons so far outside the known cosmic sphere that only papers found a century and a half after his death caused anyone to suspect them; but of this nothing certain can ever be learned.
Naturally he was aware of the horror and indignation with which any ordinary courtship of his would be received, hence he looked about for some likely candidate upon whose parents he might exert a suitable pressure. Such candidates, he found, were not at all easy to discover; since he had very particular requirements in the way of beauty, accomplishments, and social security. At length his survey narrowed down to the household of one of his best and oldest ship-captains, a widower of high birth and unblemished standing named Dutee Tillinghast, whose only daughter Eliza seemed dowered with every conceivable advantage save prospects as an heiress.
Eliza Tillinghast was at that time eighteen years of age, and had been reared as gently as the reduced circumstances of her father permitted. A sampler of hers, worked in at the age of nine, may still be found in the rooms of the Rhode Island Historical Society. Her arguments with her father concerning the proposed Curwen marriage must have been painful indeed; but of these we have no record.
Certain it is that her engagement to young Ezra Weeden, second mate of the Crawford packet Enterprise, was dutifully broken off, and that her union with Joseph Curwen took place on the seventh of March, , in the Baptist church, in the presence of one of the most distinguished assemblages which the town could boast; the ceremony being performed by the younger Samuel Winsor.
The Gazette mentioned the event very briefly, and in most surviving copies the item in question seems to be cut or torn out. Ward found a single intact copy after much search in the archives of a private collector of note, observing with amusement the meaningless urbanity of the language: Dutee Tillinghast, a young Lady who has real Merit, added to a beautiful Person, to grace the connubial State and perpetuate its Felicity.
Peters, Esq. The social influence of the Tillinghasts, however, was not to be denied; and once more Joseph Curwen found his house frequented by persons whom he could never otherwise have induced to cross his threshold. His acceptance was by no means complete, and his bride was socially the sufferer through her forced venture; but at all events the wall of utter ostracism was somewhat worn down. In his treatment of his wife the strange bridegroom astonished both her and the community by displaying an extreme graciousness and consideration.
The new house in Olney Court was now wholly free from disturbing manifestations, and although Curwen was much absent at the Pawtuxet farm which his wife never visited, he seemed more like a normal citizen than at any other time in his long years of residence. Ezra Weeden had frankly vowed vengeance; and though of a quiet and ordinarily mild disposition, was now gaining a hate-bred, dogged purpose which boded no good to the usurping husband.
The birth entry, indeed, was found very curiously through correspondence with the heirs of the loyalist Dr.
Graves, who had taken with him a duplicate set of records when he left his pastorate at the outbreak of the Revolution. Ward had tried this source because he knew that his great-great-grandmother Ann Tillinghast Potter had been an Episcopalian. Shortly after the birth of his daughter, an event he seemed to welcome with a fervour greatly out of keeping with his usual coldness, Curwen resolved to sit for a portrait.
This he had painted by a very gifted Scotsman named Cosmo Alexander, then a resident of Newport, and since famous as the early teacher of Gilbert Stuart. The likeness was said to have been executed on a wall-panel of the library of the house in Olney Court, but neither of the two old diaries mentioning it gave any hint of its ultimate disposition. At this period the erratic scholar shewed signs of unusual abstraction, and spent as much time as he possibly could at his farm on the Pawtuxet Road.
He seemed, it was stated, in a condition of suppressed excitement or suspense; as if expecting some phenomenal thing or on the brink of some strange discovery. Chemistry or alchemy would appear to have played a great part, for he took from his house to the farm the greater number of his volumes on that subject.
His affectation of civic interest did not diminish, and he lost no opportunities for helping such leaders as Stephen Hopkins, Joseph Brown, and Benjamin West in their efforts to raise the cultural tone of the town, which was then much below the level of Newport in its patronage of the liberal arts.
But Ezra Weeden, who watched him closely, sneered cynically at all this outward activity; and freely swore it was no more than a mask for some nameless traffick with the blackest gulfs of Tartarus. The revengeful youth began a systematic study of the man and his doings whenever he was in port; spending hours at night by the wharves with a dory in readiness when he saw lights in the Curwen warehouses, and following the small boat which would sometimes steal quietly off and down the bay.
He also kept as close a watch as possible on the Pawtuxet farm, and was once severely bitten by the dogs the old Indian couple loosed upon him. In came the final change in Joseph Curwen. It was very sudden, and gained wide notice amongst the curious townsfolk; for the air of suspense and expectancy dropped like an old cloak, giving instant place to an ill-concealed exaltation of perfect triumph.
Curwen seemed to have difficulty in restraining himself from public harangues on what he had found or learned or made; but apparently the need of secrecy was greater than the longing to share his rejoicing, for no explanation was ever offered by him.
It was after this transition, which appears to have come early in July, that the sinister scholar began to astonish people by his possession of information which only their long-dead ancestors would seem to be able to impart. On the contrary, they tended rather to increase; so that more and more of his shipping business was handled by the captains whom he now bound to him by ties of fear as potent as those of bankruptcy had been.
He altogether abandoned the slave trade, alleging that its profits were constantly decreasing. Smuggling and evasion were the rule in Narragansett Bay, and nocturnal landings of illicit cargoes were continuous commonplaces.
Prior to the change in these boats had for the most part contained chained negroes, who were carried down and across the bay and landed at an obscure point on the shore just north of Pawtuxet; being afterward driven up the bluff and across country to the Curwen farm, where they were locked in that enormous stone outbuilding which had only high narrow slits for windows. After that change, however, the whole programme was altered. Importation of slaves ceased at once, and for a time Curwen abandoned his midnight sailings.
Then, about the spring of , a new policy appeared. Once more the lighters grew wont to put out from the black, silent docks, and this time they would go down the bay some distance, perhaps as far as Namquit Point, where they would meet and receive cargo from strange ships of considerable size and widely varied appearance.
The cargo consisted almost wholly of boxes and cases, of which a large proportion were oblong and heavy and disturbingly suggestive of coffins. Weeden always watched the farm with unremitting assiduity; visiting it each night for long periods, and seldom letting a week go by without a sight except when the ground bore a footprint-revealing snow.
Even then he would often walk as close as possible in the travelled road or on the ice of the neighbouring river to see what tracks others might have left. Finding his own vigils interrupted by nautical duties, he hired a tavern companion named Eleazar Smith to continue the survey during his absences; and between them the two could have set in motion some extraordinary rumours.
That they did not do so was only because they knew the effect of publicity would be to warn their quarry and make further progress impossible.
Instead, they wished to learn something definite before taking any action. All that can be told of their discoveries is what Eleazar Smith jotted down in a none too coherent diary, and what other diarists and letter-writers have timidly repeated from the statements which they finally made—and according to which the farm was only the outer shell of some vast and revolting menace, of a scope and depth too profound and intangible for more than shadowy comprehension.
It is gathered that Weeden and Smith became early convinced that a great series of tunnels and catacombs, inhabited by a very sizeable staff of persons besides the old Indian and his wife, underlay the farm.
The house was an old peaked relic of the middle seventeenth century with enormous stack chimney and diamond-paned lattice windows, the laboratory being in a lean-to toward the north, where the roof came nearly to the ground. This building stood clear of any other; yet judging by the different voices heard at odd times within, it must have been accessible through secret passages beneath. These voices, before , were mere mumblings and negro whisperings and frenzied screams, coupled with curious chants or invocations.
After that date, however, they assumed a very singular and terrible cast as they ran the gamut betwixt dronings of dull acquiescence and explosions of frantic pain or fury, rumblings of conversation and whines of entreaty, pantings of eagerness and shouts of protest. They appeared to be in different languages, all known to Curwen, whose rasping accents were frequently distinguishable in reply, reproof, or threatening.
Sometimes it seemed that several persons must be in the house; Curwen, certain captives, and the guards of those captives. There were voices of a sort that neither Weeden nor Smith had ever heard before despite their wide knowledge of foreign parts, and many that they did seem to place as belonging to this or that nationality.
The nature of the conversations seemed always a kind of catechism, as if Curwen were extorting some sort of information from terrified or rebellious prisoners. Weeden had many verbatim reports of overheard scraps in his notebook, for English, French, and Spanish, which he knew, were frequently used; but of these nothing has survived. He did, however, say that besides a few ghoulish dialogues in which the past affairs of Providence families were concerned, most of the questions and answers he could understand were historical or scientific; occasionally pertaining to very remote places and ages.
Curwen asked the prisoner—if prisoner it were—whether the order to slay was given because of the Sign of the Goat found on the altar in the ancient Roman crypt beneath the Cathedral, or whether the Dark Man of the Haute Vienne Coven had spoken the Three Words.
Failing to obtain replies, the inquisitor had seemingly resorted to extreme means; for there was a terrific shriek followed by silence and muttering and a bumping sound.
None of these colloquies were ever ocularly witnessed, since the windows were always heavily draped. After that no more conversations were ever heard in the house, and Weeden and Smith concluded that Curwen had transferred his field of action to regions below. That such regions in truth existed, seemed amply clear from many things. Faint cries and groans unmistakably came up now and then from what appeared to be the solid earth in places far from any structure; whilst hidden in the bushes along the river-bank in the rear, where the high ground sloped steeply down to the valley of the Pawtuxet, there was found an arched oaken door in a frame of heavy masonry, which was obviously an entrance to caverns within the hill.
When or how these catacombs could have been constructed, Weeden was unable to say; but he frequently pointed out how easily the place might have been reached by bands of unseen workmen from the river. Joseph Curwen put his mongrel seamen to diverse uses indeed! During the heavy spring rains of the two watchers kept a sharp eye on the steep river-bank to see if any subterrene secrets might be washed to light, and were rewarded by the sight of a profusion of both human and animal bones in places where deep gullies had been worn in the banks.
Naturally there might be many explanations of such things in the rear of a stock farm, and in a locality where old Indian burying-grounds were common, but Weeden and Smith drew their own inferences. It was in January , whilst Weeden and Smith were still debating vainly on what, if anything, to think or do about the whole bewildering business, that the incident of the Fortaleza occurred. Charles Leslie, captured after a short pursuit one early morning the snow Fortaleza of Barcelona, Spain, under Capt.
Arruda felt himself in honour bound not to reveal. There were later rumours of its having been seen in Boston Harbour, though it never openly entered the Port of Boston.
This extraordinary incident did not fail of wide remark in Providence, and there were not many who doubted the existence of some connexion between the cargo of mummies and the sinister Joseph Curwen. His exotic studies and his curious chemical importations being common knowledge, and his fondness for graveyards being common suspicion; it did not take much imagination to link him with a freakish importation which could not conceivably have been destined for anyone else in the town.
As if conscious of this natural belief, Curwen took care to speak casually on several occasions of the chemical value of the balsams found in mummies; thinking perhaps that he might make the affair seem less unnatural, yet stopping just short of admitting his participation. Weeden and Smith, of course, felt no doubt whatsoever of the significance of the thing; and indulged in the wildest theories concerning Curwen and his monstrous labours.
The following spring, like that of the year before, had heavy rains; and the watchers kept careful track of the river-bank behind the Curwen farm. Large sections were washed away, and a certain number of bones discovered; but no glimpse was afforded of any actual subterranean chambers or burrows. Something was rumoured, however, at the village of Pawtuxet about a mile below, where the river flows in falls over a rocky terrace to join the placid landlocked cove.
There, where quaint old cottages climbed the hill from the rustic bridge, and fishing-smacks lay anchored at their sleepy docks, a vague report went round of things that were floating down the river and flashing into sight for a minute as they went over the falls. Of course the Pawtuxet is a long river which winds through many settled regions abounding in graveyards, and of course the spring rains had been very heavy; but the fisherfolk about the bridge did not like the wild way that one of the things stared as it shot down to the still water below, or the way that another half cried out although its condition had greatly departed from that of objects which normally cry out.
That rumour sent Smith—for Weeden was just then at sea—in haste to the river-bank behind the farm; where surely enough there remained the evidences of an extensive cave-in. There was, however, no trace of a passage into the steep bank; for the miniature avalanche had left behind a solid wall of mixed earth and shrubbery from aloft.
Smith went to the extent of some experimental digging, but was deterred by lack of success—or perhaps by fear of possible success. It is interesting to speculate on what the persistent and revengeful Weeden would have done had he been ashore at the time. By the autumn of Weeden decided that the time was ripe to tell others of his discoveries; for he had a large number of facts to link together, and a second eye-witness to refute the possible charge that jealousy and vindictiveness had spurred his fancy.
As his first confidant he selected Capt. James Mathewson of the Enterprise, who on the one hand knew him well enough not to doubt his veracity, and on the other hand was sufficiently influential in the town to be heard in turn with respect. Mathewson was tremendously impressed.
Like nearly everyone else in the town, he had had black suspicions of his own anent Joseph Curwen; hence it needed only this confirmation and enlargement of data to convince him absolutely. At the end of the conference he was very grave, and enjoined strict silence upon the two younger men. He would, he said, transmit the information separately to some ten or so of the most learned and prominent citizens of Providence; ascertaining their views and following whatever advice they might have to offer.
Secrecy would probably be essential in any case, for this was no matter that the town constables or militia could cope with; and above all else the excitable crowd must be kept in ignorance, lest there be enacted in these already troublous times a repetition of that frightful Salem panic of less than a century before which had first brought Curwen hither.
The right persons to tell, he believed, would be Dr. Benjamin West, whose pamphlet on the late transit of Venus proved him a scholar and keen thinker; Rev. James Manning, President of the College which had just moved up from Warren and was temporarily housed in the new King Street schoolhouse awaiting the completion of its building on the hill above Presbyterian-Lane; ex-Governor Stephen Hopkins, who had been a member of the Philosophical Society at Newport, and was a man of very broad perceptions; John Carter, publisher of the Gazette; all four of the Brown brothers, John, Joseph, Nicholas, and Moses, who formed the recognised local magnates, and of whom Joseph was an amateur scientist of parts; old Dr.
Abraham Whipple, a privateersman of phenomenal boldness and energy who could be counted on to lead in any active measures needed. These men, if favourable, might eventually be brought together for collective deliberation; and with them would rest the responsibility of deciding whether or not to inform the Governor of the Colony, Joseph Wanton of Newport, before taking action.
The mission of Capt. Curwen, it was clear, formed a vague potential menace to the welfare of the town and Colony; and must be eliminated at any cost. Late in December a group of eminent townsmen met at the home of Stephen Hopkins and debated tentative measures. Mathewson, were carefully read; and he and Smith were summoned to give testimony anent details. Something very like fear seized the whole assemblage before the meeting was over, though there ran through that fear a grim determination which Capt.
They would not notify the Governor, because a more than legal course seemed necessary. With hidden powers of uncertain extent apparently at his disposal, Curwen was not a man who could safely be warned to leave town. Nameless reprisals might ensue, and even if the sinister creature complied, the removal would be no more than the shifting of an unclean burden to another place.
Curwen must be surprised at his Pawtuxet farm by a large raiding-party of seasoned privateersmen and given one decisive chance to explain himself. If he proved a madman, amusing himself with shrieks and imaginary conversations in different voices, he would be properly confined. If something graver appeared, and if the underground horrors indeed turned out to be real, he and all with him must die.
It could be done quietly, and even the widow and her father need not be told how it came about. While these serious steps were under discussion there occurred in the town an incident so terrible and inexplicable that for a time little else was mentioned for miles around. There was a baying of dogs in the distance, but this subsided as soon as the clamour of the awakened town became audible.
Parties of men with lanterns and muskets hurried out to see what was happening, but nothing rewarded their search. It was not so much the younger as the older folk who whispered, for only in the patriarchs did that rigid face with horror-bulging eyes strike any chord of memory. They, shaking as they did so, exchanged furtive murmurs of wonder and fear; for in those stiff, hideous features lay a resemblance so marvellous as to be almost an identity—and that identity was with a man who had died full fifty years before.
Ezra Weeden was present at the finding; and remembering the baying of the night before, set out along Weybosset Street and across Muddy Dock Bridge whence the sound had come. He had a curious expectancy, and was not surprised when, reaching the edge of the settled district where the street merged into the Pawtuxet Road, he came upon some very curious tracks in the snow.
The naked giant had been pursued by dogs and many booted men, and the returning tracks of the hounds and their masters could be easily traced. They had given up the chase upon coming too near the town. Weeden smiled grimly, and as a perfunctory detail traced the footprints back to their source. It was the Pawtuxet farm of Joseph Curwen, as he well knew it would be; and he would have given much had the yard been less confusingly trampled. As it was, he dared not seem too interested in full daylight.
Bowen, to whom Weeden went at once with his report, performed an autopsy on the strange corpse, and discovered peculiarities which baffled him utterly. The digestive tracts of the huge man seemed never to have been in use, whilst the whole skin had a coarse, loosely knit texture impossible to account for.
They found it vacant, precisely as they had expected. Parts of it, copied and preserved in the private archives of the Smith family where Charles Ward found it, ran as follows: I alone am at a Loss. Booke of y e Necronomicon that you recommende. Mather writ in y e Magnalia of ——, and can judge how truely that Horrendous thing is reported. I say to you againe, doe not call up Any that you can not put downe; by the Which I meane, Any that can in Turne call up somewhat against you, whereby your Powerfullest Devices may not be of use.
Ask of the Lesser, lest the Greater shall not wish to Answer, and shall commande more than you. And againe I ask that you shalle write me as Jedediah and not Simon. In the Matter spoke of, I require onlie one more thing; but wish to be sure I apprehend you exactly. You inform me, that no Part must be missing if the finest Effects are to be had, but you can not but know how hard it is to be sure.
It seems a great Hazard and Burthen to take away the whole Box, and in Town i. I am impatient for y r Brig, and inquire daily at Mr.
In the Smith diary found by Charles Ward a single oft-repeated combination of characters is clumsily copied; and authorities at Brown University have pronounced the alphabet Amharic or Abyssinian, although they do not recognise the word.