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The Maniac Or Fatal Effects Of Wanton Mischief






Some years ago, a very intelligent, handsome, and promising youth, whose
names is Henry Pargeter Lewis, the son of a respectable attorney, in the
town of Dudley, was placed for a probationary time, previously to an
intended apprenticeship, with a surgeon and apothecary of the name of
Powell, in the immediate neighbourhood of one of our great public
schools. He had not been there long, before one of the scholars, who
lodged at the surgeon's, in league with the servant-boy of the house,
devised the following stratagem to frighten him. One night, during an
absence of the master, the servant-boy concealed himself under the bed
of Henry, before the latter retired to rest, and remained there till the
hour of midnight; when, on a preconcerted signal of three raps at the
chamber door, it suddenly opened, and in stalked the school-boy, habited
in a white sheet, with his face horribly disguised, and bearing a
lighted candle in his hand; the servant-boy, at the same moment, heaving
up the bed under Henry with his back. How long this was acted is not
known: it was done long enough, however, completely to dethrone the
reason of the unfortunate youth; who, it is supposed, immediately
covered himself with the bed-clothes, and so continued till the morning.
On his not rising at the usual time, some one of the family went to call
him; and, not answering, except by incoherent cries, was discovered in
the state just described.

The melancholy tidings of his situation were conveyed to his friends, on
his removal to them; the facts having been disclosed, partly by the
confession of the servant-boy, and partly by the unfortunate youth
himself, during the few lucid intervals which occurred in the course of
the first year after his misfortune.

His father and mother were then living, but they are now both dead: and
the little property they left to support him is now nearly exhausted,
together with a small subscription which was also raised to furnish him
with necessaries, and to remunerate a person to take care of him. He is
perfectly harmless and gentle, being rather in a state of idiotcy than
insanity; seldom betraying any symptoms of violent emotion, except
occasionally about midnight (the time of his unhappy disaster), when,
full of indescribable terror, he exclaims, "Oh! they are coming! they
are coming!" All hope of recovery is at an end; more than twenty years
having elapsed since the catastrophe happened.

It is sincerely hoped that this pitiable case may prove a warning to
inconsiderate youth; by showing them what dreadful effects may follow
such wanton acts of mischief.





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Previous: The Somersetshire Demoniac



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