During the dread reign of the Cholera in New-York, I had accepted the invitation of a relative
to spend a fortnight with him in the retirement of his cottage orné on the banks of the Hudson.
We had here around us all the ordinary means of summer amusement;
and what with rambling in the woods, sketching, boating, fishing, bathing, music and books, we should have passed the time pleasantly enough,
but for the fearful intelligence which reached us every morning from the populous city.
Not a day elapsed which did not bring us news of the decease of some acquaintance.
Then, as the fatality increased, we learned to expect daily the loss of some friend.
At length we trembled at the approach of every messenger. The very air from the South seemed to us redolent with death.
That palsying thought, indeed, took entire possession of my soul. I could neither speak, think, nor dream of anything else.
My host was of a less excitable temperament, and, although greatly depressed in spirits, exerted himself to sustain my own.
His richly philosophical intellect was not at any time affected by unrealities.
To the substances of terror he was sufficiently alive, but of its shadows he had no apprehension.
His endeavors to arouse me from the condition of abnormal gloom into which I had fallen,
were frustrated in great measure, by certain volumes which I had found in his library.
These were of a character to force into germination whatever seeds of hereditary superstition lay latent in my bosom.
I had been reading these books without his knowledge,
and thus he was often at a loss to account for the forcible impressions which had been made upon my fancy.