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The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Raven Edition Volume 4
LOSS OF BREATH
Upon considerations similar to these, and still retaining my grasp upon the nose of Mr. W., I accordingly thought proper to model my reply.
"Monster!" I began in a tone of the deepest indignation -- "monster and double-winded idiot! -- dost thou, whom for thine iniquities it has pleased heaven to accurse with a two-fold respimtion -- dost thou, I say, presume to address me in the familiar language of an old acquaintance? -- 'I lie,' forsooth! and 'hold my tongue,' to be sure! -- pretty conversation indeed, to a gentleman with a single breath! -- all this, too, when I have it in my power to relieve the calamity under which thou dost so justly suffer -- to curtail the superfluities of thine unhappy respiration."
Like Brutus, I paused for a reply -- with which, like a tornado, Mr. Windenough immediately overwhelmed me. Protestation followed upon protestation, and apology upon apology. There were no terms with which he was unwilling to comply, and there were none of which I failed to take the fullest advantage.
Preliminaries being at length arranged, my acquaintance delivered me the respiration; for which (having carefully examined it) I gave him afterward a receipt.
I am aware that by many I shall be held to blame for speaking in a manner so cursory, of a transaction so impalpable. It will be thought that I should have entered more minutely, into the details of an occurrence by which -- and this is very true -- much new light might be thrown upon a highly interesting branch of physical philosophy.
To all this I am sorry that I cannot reply. A hint is the only answer which I am permitted to make. There were circumstances -- but I think it much safer upon consideration to say as little as possible about an affair so delicate -- so delicate, I repeat, and at the time involving the interests of a third party whose sulphurous resentment I have not the least desire, at this moment, of incurring.
We were not long after this necessary arrangement in effecting an escape from the dungeons of the sepulchre. The united strength of our resuscitated voices was soon sufficiently apparent. Scissors, the Whig editor, republished a treatise upon "the nature and origin of subterranean noises." A reply -- rejoinder -- confutation -- and justification -- followed in the columns of a Democratic Gazette. It was not until the opening of the vault to decide the controversy, that the appearance of Mr. Windenough and myself proved both parties to have been decidedly in the wrong.
I cannot conclude these details of some very singular passages in a life at all times sufficiently eventful, without again recalling to the attention of the reader the merits of that indiscriminate philosophy which is a sure and ready shield against those shafts of calamity which can neither be seen, felt nor fully understood. It was in the spirit of this wisdom that, among the ancient Hebrews, it was believed the gates of Heaven would be inevitably opened to that sinner, or saint, who, with good lungs and implicit confidence, should vociferate the word "Amen!" It was in the spirit of this wisdom that, when a great plague raged at Athens, and every means had been in vain attempted for its removal, Epimenides, as Laertius relates, in his second book, of that philosopher, advised the erection of a shrine and temple "to the proper God."