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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Demon-Lover

By James Abraham Hillhouse (1789–1841)

[Born in New Haven, Conn., 1789. Died there, 1841. Scene from “Hadad.”—Dramas, etc., by J. A. Hillhouse. 1839.]

The terraced roof of ABSALOM’S house, by night; adorned with vases of flowers, and fragrant shrubs; an awning spread over part of it. TAMAR and HADAD.

TAM.No, no, I well remember—proofs, you said,

Unknown to Moses.

HAD.Well, my love, thou knowest

I’ve been a traveller in various climes;

Trod Ethiopia’s scorching sands, and scaled

The snow-clad mountains; trusted to the deep;

Traversed the fragrant islands of the sea,

And with the Wise conversed of many nations.

TAM.I know thou hast.

HAD.Of all mine eyes have seen,

The greatest, wisest, and most wonderful,

Is that dread sage, the Ancient of the Mountain.


HAD.None knows his lineage, age, or name: his locks

Are like the snows of Caucasus; his eyes

Beam with the wisdom of collected ages.

In green, unbroken years, he sees, ’tis said,

The generations pass, like autumn fruits,

Garnered, consumed, and springing fresh to life,

Again to perish, while he views the sun,

The seasons roll, in rapt serenity,

And high communion with celestial powers.

Some say ’tis Shem, our father, some say Enoch,

And some Melchizedek.

TAM.I’ve heard a tale

Like this, but ne’er believed it.

HAD.I have proved it.—

Through perils dire, dangers most imminent,

Seven days and nights ’midst rocks and wildernesses,

And boreal snows, and never-thawing ice,

Where not a bird, a beast, a living thing,

Save the far-soaring vulture comes, I dared

My desperate way, resolved to know, or perish.

TAM.Rash, rash adventurer!

HAD.On the highest peak

Of stormy Caucasus, there blooms a spot

On which perpetual sunbeams play, where flowers

And verdure never die; and there he dwells.

TAM.But did’st thou see him?

HAD.Never did I view

Such awful majesty: his reverend locks

Hung like a silver mantle to his feet,

His raiment glistered saintly white, his brow

Rose like the gate of Paradise, his mouth

Was musical as its bright guardians’ songs.

TAM.What did he tell thee? Oh! what wisdom fell

From lips so hallowed?

HAD.Whether he possess

The Tetragrammaton,—the powerful Name

Inscribed on Moses’ rod, by which he wrought

Unheard of wonders, which constrains the Heavens

To part with blessings, shakes the earth, and rules

The strongest Spirits; or if God hath given

A delegated power, I cannot tell.

But ’twas from him I learned their fate, their fall,

Who, erewhile, wore resplendent crowns in Heaven;

Now, scattered through the earth, the air, the sea.

Them he compels to answer, and from them

Has drawn what Moses, nor no mortal ear,

Has ever heard.

TAM.But did he tell it thee?

HAD.He told me much,—more than I dare reveal;

For with a dreadful oath he sealed my lips.

TAM.But canst thou tell me nothing?—Why unfold

So much, if I must hear no more?

HAD.You bade

Explain my words, almost reproached me, sweet,

For what by accident escaped me.


A little—something tell me,—sure, not all

Were words inhibited.

HAD.Then, promise never,

Never to utter of this conference

A breath to mortal.

TAM.Solemnly I vow.

HAD.Even then, ’tis little I can say, compared

With all the marvels he related.


I’m breathless.—Tell me how they sinned, how fell.

HAD.Their Prince involved them in his ruin.

TAM.What black offence on his devoted head

Drew such dire punishment?

HAD.The wish to be

As the All-Perfect.

TAM.Arrogating that

Peculiar to his Maker!——awful crime!

But what their doom? their place of punishment?

HAD.Above, about, beneath; earth, sea, and air;

Their habitations various as their minds,

Employments, and desires.

TAM.But are they round us, Hadad?—not confined

In penal chains and darkness?

HAD.So he said;

And so your holy books infer. What saith

Your Prophet? what the Prince of Uz?

TAM.I shudder,

Lest some dark Minister be near us now.

HAD.You wrong them. They are bright Intelligences,

Robbed of some native splendor, and cast down,

’Tis true, from Heaven; but not deformed, and foul,

Revengeful, malice-working Fiends, as fools

Suppose. They dwell, like Princes, in the clouds;

Sun their bright pinions in the middle sky;

Or arch their palaces beneath the hills,

With stones inestimable studded so,

That sun or stars were useless there.

TAM.Good heavens!

HAD.He bade me look on rugged Caucasus,

Crag piled on crag beyond the utmost ken,

Naked, and wild, as if creation’s ruins

Were heaped in one immeasurable chain

Of barren mountains, beaten by the storms

Of everlasting winter. But within

Are glorious palaces, and domes of light,

Irradiate halls, and crystal colonnades,

Blazing with lustre past the noontide beam,

Or, with a milder beauty, mimicking

The mystic signs of changeful Mazzaroth.

TAM.Unheard of wonders!

HAD.There they dwell, and muse,

And wander; Beings beautiful, immortal,

Minds vast as heaven, capacious as the sky;

Whose thoughts connect past, present, and to come,

And glow with light intense, imperishable.

So in the sparry chambers of the Sea

And Air-Pavilions, upper Tabernacles,

They study Nature’s secrets, and enjoy

No poor dominion.

TAM.Are they beautiful,

And powerful far beyond the human race?

HAD.Man’s feeble heart cannot conceive it. When

The Sage described them, fiery eloquence

Broke from his lips, his bosom heaved, his eyes

Grew bright and mystical; moved by the theme,

Like one who feels a deity within.

TAM.Wondrous!—What intercourse have they with men?

HAD.Sometimes they deign to intermix with man,

But oft with woman.

TAM.Ha! with woman?


Attracts them with her gentler virtues, soft,

And beautiful, and heavenly, like themselves.

They have been known to love her with a passion

Stronger than human.

TAM.That surpasses all

You yet have told me.

HAD.This the Sage affirms;

And Moses, darkly.

TAM.How do they appear?—How love?—

HAD.Sometimes ’tis spiritual, signified

By beatific dreams, or more distinct

And glorious apparition.—They have stooped

To animate a human form, and love

Like mortals.

TAM.Frightful to be so beloved!—

Frightful! who could endure the horrid thought?

HAD.[After a pause.]But why contemn a Spirit’s love? so high,

So glorious, if he haply deigned?—


My Maker! love a Demon!

HAD.No—Oh, no,—

My thoughts but wandered—Oft, alas! they wander.

TAM.Why dost thou speak so sadly now?—And lo!

Thine eyes are fixed again upon Arcturus.

Thus ever, when thy drooping spirits ebb,

Thou gazest on that star. Hath it the power

To cause or cure thy melancholy mood?——[He appears lost in thought.]

Tell me,—ascrib’st thou influence to the stars?

HAD.[Starting.]The stars!——What know’st thou of the stars?

TAM.I know that they were made to rule the night.

HAD.Like palace lamps! Thou echoest well thy grandsire!——

Woman! The stars are living, glorious,

Amazing, infinite!——

TAM.Speak not so wildly.—

I know them numberless, resplendent, set

As symbols of the countless, countless years

That make eternity.

HAD.Thou speak’st the word——

O, had ye proved—like those Great Sufferers,—

Shot, once for all, the gulf,—felt myriad ages

Only the prelude,—could ye scan the void

With eyes as searching as its torments,——

Then—then—mightst thou pronounce it feelingly!

TAM.What ails thee, Hadad?—Draw me not so close.

HAD.Tamar! I need thy love—more than thy love—

TAM.Thy cheek is wet with tears—Nay, let us part—

’Tis late. I cannot, must not linger.—[Breaks from him, and exit.]

HAD.Loved and abhorred!—Still, still accursed!—

[He paces, twice or thrice, up and down with passionate gestures; then turns his face to the sky, and stands a moment in silence.]
O! where,

In the illimitable space, in what

Profound of untried misery, when all

His worlds, his rolling orbs of light, that fill

With life and beauty yonder infinite,

Their radiant journey run, forever set,

Where, where, in what abyss shall I be groaning?[Exit.]