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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