The Adventures of Hugh Trevor
Part 10 out of 12
not but consider as an unexpected trait in the character of such a man
as I supposed Wakefield to be.
There is a strange propensity in the imagination to make up ideal
beings; and annex them to names that, when mentioned, have been
usually followed with certain degrees of praise, or blame. These
fanciful portraits are generally in the extreme: they are all virtue,
or all vice: all perfection, or all deformity: though it is well known
that no such unmixed mortals exist.
My mind having acquired the habit rather to doubt than to conclude
that every thing which is customary must be right, funeral follies
had not escaped my censure: but the thing which excited my surprise
was that a man like Wakefield, who I concluded must have thought very
little indeed, since he both thought and acted on other occasions so
differently from me, should in any instance reason like myself; and
some few others, whom I most admired.
Convinced however as I was that he now reasoned rightly, I wanted in
this case the courage to act after his example. It would be a scandal
to the country for a son, pretending to filial duty, to be absent from
his mother's funeral. The reader will doubtless remember that town and
country are two exceedingly distinct regions.
_More alarming intelligence: An honest youth, with a printer's notions
concerning secrecy: The weak parts of law form the strongest shield
for villany: A journey back to town: Enoch Ellis and Glibly again
appear on the scene of action: A few of the artifices of a man of
uncommon cunning delineated: A momentary glance at a mountain of
political rubbish: By artful deductions, a man may be made to say any
thing that an orator pleases_
This scandal I was, notwithstanding my discretion, destined to afford.
In addition to the arguments of Wakefield, accident supplied a motive
too powerful to be resisted.
I have mentioned my intention to suppress the pamphlet which I had
written, in the fever of my resentment, against the Earl, the
Bishop, and their associates. The edition which had been printed for
publishing had lain in the printer's warehouse, till the time that I
had determined against its appearance.
The child of the fancy is often as dear to us as any of our children
whatever; and I was unwilling that this offspring of mine should
perish, beyond all power of revival. I therefore had the edition
removed to my lodgings, and stowed in a garret.
A copy however had been purloined; and probably before the removal.
This copy came into the possession of an unprincipled bookseller; who,
regardless of every consideration except profit, and perceiving it to
be written with vehemence on a subject which never fails to attract
the attention of the public, namely personal defamation, had once more
committed it to the press.
As it happened, it was sent to be reprinted by the person with whom
the son of Mary was bound apprentice; and the whole was worked off
except the title-page, which fell into the hands of the youth.
Desirous of shewing kindness to Mary, it may well be supposed I had
not overlooked her son. His mother had taught him to consider me as
the saviour of both their lives; and as such he held me in great
veneration. These favourable feelings were increased by the praise I
bestowed on him, for his good conduct; and the encouragement I gave
him to persevere.
Richard, for that was his name, suspected it could be no intention of
mine to publish the pamphlet: because he had been employed to stow it
in the garret: and, as he was an intelligent lad, and acquainted with
the tricks of the publisher for whom he knew his master was at work,
he hastened in great alarm to communicate his fears; first to his
mother, and then by her advice to Miss Wilmot.
The latter immediately informed her brother. He saw the danger, wrote
to me to return without delay, doubting whether even I should have the
power to prevent the publication, and proceeded himself immediately to
the printer to warn him of the nature of the transaction.
The man was no sooner informed of Mr. Wilmot's business than he
became violently enraged with his apprentice, Richard; accused him
of betraying his master's interest, and the secrets of the
printing-house, which ought to be held sacred, and affirmed that he
had endangered the loss of his business.
Richard was present, was aware of the charge which would be brought
against him, and was prepared to endure it with considerable firmness:
though he had been taught to believe that such complaints were founded
Wilmot could obtain no unequivocal answer from the master: either
that he would or would not proceed. He consequently supposed the
affirmative was the most probable; and therefore, that he might
neglect nothing in an affair which he considered as so serious, he
hastened from the printer to the publisher.
Here, in addition to the rage of what he likewise called having been
betrayed, he met with open defiance, vulgar insolence, and vociferous
assertions, from this worthy bookseller, that the laws of his country
would be his shield.
The fellow had been frequently concerned in such rascalities, and knew
his ground. He was one of the sagacious persons who had found a cover
for them. Where law pretends to regulate and define every right, the
wrong which it cannot reach it protects.
This is a branch of knowledge on which a vast body of men in
the kingdom, and especially in the metropolis, depend for their
And a very tempting trade it is: for our streets, our public places,
and our courts of justice, as well as other courts, swarm with its
followers; at which places they appear in as high a style of fashion,
that is of effrontery, as even the fools by whom they are aped, or the
lawyers and statesmen themselves by whom they are defended. This I
own is a bold assertion; and is perhaps a hyperbole! Yes, yes: it is
comparing mole hills to mountains. But let it pass.
Wilmot, in his letter to me, did not confine himself to a bare recital
of facts. Fearful lest they should escape my recollection, he urged
those strong arguments which were best calculated to shew, not only
what my enemies might allege, but what just men might impute to me,
should this intemperate pamphlet appear: which, in addition to its
original mistakes, would attack the character of the Bishop, a man
whose office, in the eye of the world, implied every virtue. And
how immoderately would its intemperance and imputed malignity be
exaggerated, should it appear precisely at the moment when I knew
disease had deprived him of his faculties! had rendered him unable to
defend himself, and to produce facts which I might have concealed; or
give another face to truth, which I might have discoloured!
These arguments alarmed me in a very painful degree. I was averse to
quit the place before my mother was interred: especially as my reasons
for such an abrupt departure could not be made public: but I was still
more averse to an action which, in appearance, would involve me in
such a cowardly species of infamy.
Accordingly, I made the best arrangements in my power: leaving orders
that the funeral should be conducted with every decency; and, after a
very short conversation with the attorney, who had witnessed the will
of Thornby and given me the information I have already mentioned, I
travelled back to London with no less speed than I had hurried into
I arrived in town on Thursday night; and the pamphlet was advertised
for publication on the following Monday. The advertisement, being
purposely written to excite curiosity, repeated the subject of the
pamphlet: which asserted my claims to the letters of Themistocles,
and to the defence of the thirty-nine articles; the acrimony of which
charge was increased by a personal attack on the Earl of Idford, the
Bishop, and their associates.
When I came to my lodgings, I found two notes: one from a person
stiling himself a gentleman employed by the Earl; and another from
Mr. Ellis, on the part of the Bishop: each requesting an interview.
Answers not having been returned, these agents had come themselves;
and, being informed that I was in the country, but was expected
in town before the end of the week, they left a pressing message;
desiring an answer the moment of my arrival.
Eager as I was to ward off the danger that threatened me, I considered
the application that was made, especially on the part of the Earl,
as fortunate. I understood that the only means of suppressing the
pamphlet would be by an injunction from the Lord Chancellor; and this
I imagined the influence of the Earl might essentially promote: for
which reason I immediately wrote, in reply to these agents, and
appointed an interview early the next morning.
The place of meeting was a private room in a coffee-house; and, though
my eagerness in the business brought me there a few minutes before the
time named, Ellis and his coadjutor had arrived before me. They acted
in concert, and had met to compare notes.
I found the purveyor of pews and paradise still the same: always
inclined to make himself agreeable.
The other agent was seated in a dark corner of the room, with his back
to the light, so that I did not recognise him as I entered. How much
was I surprised when, as he turned to the window, I discovered him
to be the loquacious Mr. Glibly; the man whose principles were so
accommodating, whose tongue was glossy, but whose praise was much more
sickening and dangerous than his satire.
The civilities that were poured upon me, by these well-paired
gentlemen, were overwhelming. It was like taking leave of a Frenchman,
under the ancient _régime_: there was no niche or chink for me to
throw in a word; so copious was the volubility of Glibly, and so eager
was the zeal of Ellis.
From the picture I before gave of the first, the reader will have
perceived that he was a man of considerable intellect: though not of
sufficient to make him honest. His usual mode, in conversation, was to
render the person to whom he addressed himself ridiculous by excessive
praise; and to mingle up sarcasm and panegyric in such a manner as to
produce confusion in the mind of the object of it, who never knew when
to be angry or when to be pleased, and laughter in every body else.
At first the most witty and acute would find amusement in his florid
irony: but they could not but soon be wearied, by its methodical and
undeviating mechanism; which denoted great barrenness of invention.
In the present instance, he had a case that required management: a
patron to oblige, and an opponent to circumvent. He had therefore
the art to assume a tone as much divested of sneering as habit would
permit; and began by insinuations that were too flattering to fail
of their effect, yet not quite gross enough to offend. My person, my
appearance, my parliamentary prospects, my understanding, my friends
and connections, all passed in review: while his praise was carefully
tempered; and as I imagined very passably appropriate.
Hence, it certainly promoted the end for which it was given: it opened
my heart, and prepared me for that generous effusion which rather
inclines to criminate itself than to insist on every trifle that may
be urged in its favour.
Apt however as he was at detecting vanity in others, he was as open
to it himself, I might almost say, as any man on earth. He began with
a profession of his friendship for the Earl of Idford: in which he
assumed the tone of having conferred a favour on that noble lord; and
I will not deny that he was right. All his acquaintance were friends;
and perhaps he had the longest list of any man in London: for the
effrontery of his familiar claims upon every man he met, from whom he
had any thing to hope or fear, was so extraordinary as to render an
escape from him impossible. He had parroted the phraseology of the
_haut ton_, and its arrogant apathy, till the manner was so habitual
to him that he was unconscious of his own impudence.
Thus, in conversing on this occasion of the Earl who had deputed him,
the only appellation he had for his patron was Idford. 'I told Idford
what I thought on the subject. For I always speak the truth, and never
deceive people: unless it be to give them pleasure; and then you know
they are the more obliged to me. Glibly, said Idford to me, I know
you will act in this business without partiality. For I must do him
justice, Trevor, and assure you that Idford is a good fellow. I do
not pretend that he is not sensible of the privileges which rank and
fashion give him. He is vain, thinks himself a great orator, a fine
writer, a wise senator, and all that. I grant it. How should it be
otherwise? It is very natural. He would have been a devilish sensible
fellow, if he had not been a lord. But that is not to be helped. You
and I, in his place, should think and act the same. We should be as
much deceived, as silly, and as ridiculous. It is all right. Things
must be so. But Idford is a very good fellow. He is, upon my honor.'
The surgeon that has a difficult case will not only make preparations
and adjustments before he begins to probe, lacerate, or cauterize, but
will sometimes administer an opiate; to stupefy that sensibility which
he apprehends is too keen. Glibly pursued much the same method; and,
having exhausted nearly all his art, till he found he had produced
as great a propensity to compliance and conciliation as he could
reasonably hope, he proceeded to the business in question.
'You no doubt guess, my dear Trevor, why my friend Ellis here and I
desired to meet you?'
'To say the truth, knowing as I do the soundness of your
understanding, the quickness of your conception, and the consequences
that must follow, which, acute as you are, you could not but foresee,
I was amazed when I read your advertisement!'
'It is prodigiously surprising, indeed!' added Ellis: eager at every
opportunity to throw in such touches as he thought would give effect
to the colouring of his friend, and leader.
'Why,' said I, 'do you call it my advertisement?'
'I mean of a pamphlet which it seems has been written by you.'
'But is going to be published without my consent.'
'Are you serious?' said Glibly: staring!
'It is not my custom to deceive people, Mr. Glibly; _not even to give
'I am prodigious glad of that!' exclaimed the holy Enoch. Prodigious
'But you have owned it was written by you?' continued Glibly.
'I know no good that can result from disowning the truth; and
especially in the present instance.'
'My dear fellow, truth is a very pretty thing on some occasions: but
to be continually telling truth, as you call it, oh Lord! oh Lord! we
should set the whole world to cutting of throats!'
'To be sure we should!' cried Ellis. 'To be sure we should! That is my
'Men are men, my dear fellow. A lord is a lord: a bishop is a bishop.
Each in his station. Things could not go on if we did not make
allowances. To tell truth would be to overturn all order.'
'I am willing to make allowances: for all men are liable to be
'I approve that sentiment very much, Mr. Trevor,' interrupted Enoch.
'It is prodigious fine. It is my own. All men are liable to be
mistaken. I have said it a thousand times. It is prodigious fine!'
'But I cannot conceive,' added I, 'that to overturn systems which are
founded in vice and folly would be to overturn all order. You may
call systematic selfishness, systematic hypocrisy, and systematic
oppression order: but I assert they are disorder.'
'My dear fellow, nothing is so easy as to assert. But we will leave
this to another time. I dare say that in the main there is no great
difference between us. You wish for all the good things you can get;
and so do I. One of us may take a more round about way to obtain them
than the other: but we both intend to travel to the same goal. I own,
when I heard of your _brouillerie_ with my friend Idford, I thought
you had missed the road. But I find you have more wit than I supposed:
you are now guided by another finger-post. Perhaps it might have been
as well not to have changed. The treasury bench is a strong hold, and
never was so well fortified. It is become impregnable. It includes
the whole power of England, Scotland, and Ireland; both the Indies;
countless islands, and boundless continents: with all the grand
out-works of lords, spiritual and temporal; governors; generals;
admirals; custos rotulorum, and magistracy; bodies corporate, and
chartered companies; excise, and taxation; board and bankruptcy
commissioners; contractors; agents; jobbers; money-lenders, and spies;
with all the gradations of these and many more distinct classes:
understrappers innumerable; an endless swarm; a monstrous mass. Can
it be conjured away by angry breath? No, no. It is no house of cards:
for an individual to attempt to puff it down would be ridiculous
'A mass indeed! "Making Ossa like a wart." Yet the rubbish must be
removed; and it is mine and every man's duty to handle the spade and
besom. But men want to work miracles; and, because the mountain does
not vanish at a word, they rashly conclude it cannot be diminished.
They are mistaken. Political error is a pestilential cloud; dense with
mephitic and deadly vapours: but a wind has arisen in the south, that
will drive it over states, kingdoms, and empires; till at last it
shall be swept from the face of the earth.'
'My dear fellow, you have an admirable genius: but you have mistaken
its bent. Depend upon it, you are no politician: though you are a
very great poet. Fine phrases, grand metaphors, beautiful images, all
very admirable! and you have them at command. You are born to be an
ornament to your country. You have a very pretty turn. Very pretty
indeed! And so, which is the point that I was coming to, concerning
this pamphlet. It relates I think to certain letters that appeared,
'And to a defence, by my lord the bishop, of the thirty nine
articles,' added Ellis: eager that he and his patron should not be
'You, my dear fellow, had some part in both of these publications.'
'I do not know what you mean by some part. The substance of them both
was my own.'
'Ay, ay; you had a share: a considerable share. You and Idford were
friends. You conversed together, and communicated your thoughts to
each other. Did not you?'
'I grant we did.'
'I knew you would grant whatever was true. You are the advocate of
truth; and I commend you, Idford mixed with political men, knew the
temper of the times, was acquainted with various anecdotes, and gave
you every information in his power. I know you are too candid to
conceal or disguise the least fact. You would be as ready to condemn
yourself as another. You have real dignity of mind. It gives you a
certain superiority; a kind of grandeur; of real grandeur. It is your
'It ought to be.'
'No doubt. And I am sure you will own that I have stated the case
fairly. I told you, Mr. Ellis, that I knew my friend Trevor. He has
too much integrity to disown any thing I have said. I dare believe,
were he to read the letters of Themistocles over at this instant,
he would find it difficult to affirm, of any one sentence, that the
thought _might not possibly_ have been suggested in conversation by my
friend Idford. I say _might not possibly_: for you both perceive I am
very desirous on this occasion to be guarded.'
'It certainly is a difficult thing,' answered I, 'for any man
positively to affirm he can trace the origin of any one thought; and
recollect the moment when it first entered his mind.'
My lips were opening to proceed: but Glibly with great eagerness
'I knew, my dear fellow, that your candor was equal to your
understanding. Mr. Ellis, who hears all that passes, will do me the
justice to say that I declared before you came what turn the affair
I was again going to speak, but he was determined I should not, and
proceeded with his unconquerable volubility; purposely leading my mind
to another train of thought.
'I am very glad indeed that the advertisement which appeared was
not with your approbation. On recollection, I cannot conceive how I
could for a moment suppose it was your own act. A man of the soundest
understanding may be surprised into passion, and may write in a
passion: but he will think again and again, and will be careful not to
publish in a passion. And the delay which has taken place might have
proved to me that you had thought; and had determined not to publish.
Your countenance, when you disowned the advertisement just now,
convinces me that I do you no more than justice, by supposing this of
Here the artful orator thought proper to pause for a reply, and I
answered, 'I own that I wrote in a spirit which I do not at present
'I know it. What you have said and what you have allowed have so much
of liberality, cool recollection, and dispassionate honesty, that they
are, as I knew they would be, very honourable to you.'
'Prodigiously, indeed!' said Enoch.
Glibly continued: 'Your behaviour, in this business, entirely
confirms my good opinion of you; and I give myself some credit for
understanding a man's true character: especially the character of a
man like you. My good friend Ellis and I are entirely satisfied. What
has passed has removed all doubts, and difficulties. We are with you;
and shall report every thing to your advantage.'
'I wish you to report nothing but the truth.'
'I know it, my dear fellow. That is what we intend. So, without saying
a word more on that subject, we will now consider what is best to be
done. I understand that the edition about to be published is pirated;
and I suppose you will join us in an application to the Lord
Chancellor for an injunction.'
'Most eagerly. That was my reason for wishing to see you, so
immediately after my arrival in town; imagining that an application
from Lord Idford, and the bishop, would be more readily attended to
than if it came from a private and unknown individual.'
'To be sure it would, Mr. Trevor!' said Enoch. 'An application from an
earl and a bishop, is not likely to be overlooked. They are privileged
persons. They are the higher powers. Every thing that concerns them
must be treated with tenderness, and reverence, and humbleness, and
every thing of that kind.'
The spirit moved me to begin an enquiry into privileges; and the
tenderness and humility due to earls and bishops: particularly to such
as the noble and reverend lords in question: but Glibly guessed my
thoughts, and took care to prevent me!
'As to those subjects, my dear Ellis,' said he, 'Trevor thinks and
acts on a different system from you and me and the rest of the world.
We must not dispute these points, now; but away, as fast as we can,
and put the business for which we met in a train. The publication must
be stopped. It would injure all parties; and, as you, my dear friend
[Turning to me] justly think at present, would be disgraceful to its
After what had been urged by Turl and Wilmot, and the reasoning that
had followed in my own mind, I knew not how to deny this assertion:
though it was painfully grating. But the reader will easily perceive
that this and other strong affirmations, such as I have related, were
designedly made by Glibly. He artfully gabbled on, that he might
lead my mind from attending to them too strictly; and that he might
afterward, if occasion should require, state them, with the colouring
that he should give, as things uttered or allowed by me.
It ought not to be thought strange that I was deceived by Glibly,
barefaced as his cunning would have appeared to a man more versed
in the arts which over-reaching selfishness daily puts in practice.
He confessedly came in behalf of a party concerned; and, as such, a
liberal mind would be prepared to expect a bias from him rather in
favour of his client. His face was smiling; his tones were soft and
smooth; the words candor, honesty, and integrity, were continually on
his tongue. He affected to be a disinterested arbitrator; and allowed
that his friend Idford, as he called him, might or rather must be
tainted with the vices of his station, and class. Could a youth,
unhacknied in the world, feeling that treachery was not native to
the heart of man, not suspecting on ordinary occasions that it could
exist, could such a tyro in hypocrisy be a fit antagonist for such an
Deceit will frequently escape immediate detection: but it seldom
leaves the person, upon whom it is practised, with that clearness
of thought which communicates calm to the mind; producing unruffled
satisfaction, and cheerful good temper.
_A lawyer and his poetical wife and daughters, or the family of the
Quisques: Praise may give pain: A babbler may bite: More of the
colouring of cunning: A trader's ideas of honesty, and the small sum
for which it may be sold_
We quitted the coffee-house; Glibly in high spirits, and Enoch
concluding things had been done as they should be: but, for my own
part, I experienced a confusion of intellect that did not suffer me to
be so much at my ease. I had an indistinct sense of being as passive
as a blind man with his dog. Instead of taking the lead, as I was
entitled to have done, I was led: hurried away, like a man down a
mountain with a high wind at his back: or traversing dark alleys,
holding by the coat-flap of a guide of whose good intentions I was
very far from having any certainty.
We proceeded however to the house of a solicitor in chancery; who
transacted business for the Earl.
Here Glibly, attentive to the plan he had pursued, began by informing
Mr. Quisque, the lawyer, that he had come _at the request_ of his dear
friend, Trevor, to entreat his aid in an affair of some moment. 'Mr.
Trevor is a young gentleman, my dear Quisque, that you will be proud
to be acquainted with; a man of talents; a poet; an orator; an author;
a great genius; an excellent scholar; a fine writer; turns a sentence
or a rhyme with exquisite neatness; very prettily I assure you. I
mention these circumstances, my dear Quisque, because I know you have
a taste for such things: and so has Mrs. Quisque, and the two Miss
Quisques, and all the family. I now and then see very pretty things of
their writing in the Lady's Magazine. An elegy on a robin red-breast.
The drooping violet, a sonnet. And others equally ecstatic. Quite
charming! rapturous! elegant! flowery! sentimental! Some of them very
smart, and epigrammatic. It is a family, my dear Trevor, that you must
become intimate with. Your merit entitles you to the distinction. You
will communicate your mutual productions. You will polish and suggest
charming little delicate emendations, to each other, before you favour
the world with a sight of them.'
The broadest and coarsest satire was never half so insulting, to the
feelings, as the common-place praise of Glibly.
The barren-pated Ellis caught one of the favourite diminutives of
Glibly; and finished my panegyric by adding that, 'he must say, his
friend, Mr. Trevor, was a prodigious pretty genius.'
Who but must have been proud of such an introduction to the family of
the Quisques; by such orators, such eulogists, and such friends?
Acquainted with Glibly, and accustomed to hear him prate, Mr. Quisque
seemed to listen to him without surprise, pleasure, or pain. It was
what he expected. It was the man. A machine that had no more meaning
than a Dutch clock; repeating cuckoo, as it strikes.
Among Glibly's acquaintance, or, as he called them, his dear friends,
this was a common but a very false conclusion. He had not adopted his
customary cant without a motive. The man, who can persuade others
that he gabbles in a pleasant but ridiculous and undesigning manner,
will lead them to suppose that his actions are equally incongruous,
and void of intention. He will pass upon the world for an agreeable
harmless fellow, till his malignities are too numerous to escape
notice; and then, where he was before welcomed with the hope of a
laugh, he will continue to be admitted from the dread of a bite.
A lawyer however feels less of this panic than the rest of mankind:
because he can bite again. The cat o' mountain will not attack the
Glibly returned to the business in hand; and again repeated that he
was come _at the request_ of his dear friend, Trevor, to procure an
injunction: that should prevent the publication of a pamphlet, which
had been written against his friend, Idford.
'And my lord the Bishop of ****,' added Enoch.
'Who is the author of it?' demanded Quisque.
'I am, sir;' answered I.
'For which my friend Trevor is very sorry;' added Glibly.
I instantly retorted a denial. 'I never said any thing of the kind,
Mr. Glibly. But I should be very sorry indeed if it were published.'
'Nay, my dear fellow, according to your own principles, if I do not
mistake them, that which ought not to be published ought not to be
The remark was acute: it puzzled me, and I was silent. He proceeded.
'It is a business that admits of no delay. I should be extremely
chagrined, extremely, upon my honor, that my dear friend Trevor should
commit himself to the public, in this affair. He that wantonly attacks
the characters of others does but strike at his own.'
I again eagerly replied 'The attack from me, sir, was not wanton. It
was provoked by acts of the most flagrant injustice.'
Glibly as eagerly interrupted me.
'My dear fellow, why are you so warm? I was only delivering a general
maxim. I made no application of it; and I am surprised that you
The traps of Glibly were numberless; and not to be escaped. Words
are too equivocal and phrases too indefinite, for men like him not
to profit by their ambiguity. To them a quirk in the sense is as
profitable as a pun or a quibble in the sound. They snap at them, as
dogs do at flies. It is no less worthy of observation that, though
some of his actions seemed to laugh severity of moral principle out
of countenance, he continually repeated others which, had his conduct
been regulated by them, would have ranked him among the most worthy of
After farther explanation from Quisque, it was admitted that the
interest of all parties made it necessary for him to act with great
diligence, speed, and caution.
Through the whole of this scene, Glibly was consistent with himself;
in giving it such a turn and complexion as to make it requisite,
for the preservation of my character above the rest, to prevent the
pamphlet from being published. If, whenever I detected his drift, I
urged the true motives by which I was actuated, he always immediately
admitted them, praised them, and allowed them to be superlatively
excellent: but never failed to give them such an air as should suit
the project he had conceived; and allow of such an interpretation, in
future, as would exculpate my opponents and criminate myself. But he
effected this with such fluency, and so glossed over and coloured his
intention that, like profound darkness, it was every where present,
but neither could be felt nor seen.
My own activity in this affair, which if I meant to render my
interference effectual was inevitable, contributed to the same end.
I accompanied the whole party, Quisque being one, to the shop of the
Here I detailed the consequences, as well to myself as to the Earl and
the Bishop; and vehemently denounced threats, if the villany that was
begun should be carried into execution. Not all the quieting hints of
my assistants could keep my anger under. I lost all patience, at every
word. My utmost indignation was excited by so black a business.
The situation was not a new one to the dealer in the alphabet. He
was an old depredator; and had before encountered angry authors, and
artful lawyers. He was cool, collected, and unabashed. Not indeed
entirely: but sufficiently so to excite astonishment.
He affirmed the copy-right to be his own: would prove he had obtained
it legally; and would face any prosecution that we could bring. He
knew what he was about; and was not to be frightened. He had printed
one edition; and had no doubt that several would be sold. He was an
honest tradesman; and must not be robbed of his profits. What would
the country be if it were not for trade? It ought to be protected: ay
and would be too. The law was as open to an industrious fair trader as
to any lord in the land. Let him too be no loser and then it would be
a different thing: but, as for big words, they broke no bones; and he
knew his ground.
The hints of the honest trader were too broad to be misunderstood; and
Quisque replied--'I think you mean, sir, that you wish to be repaid
the expence you have sustained?'
The fellow answered, with the utmost effrontery, 'I have a right, sir,
to be indemnified for the loss of my profits on the sale of the work.'
Anger and argument were equally vain. There were two ways of
proceeding. Silence and safety might be purchased: or the law might be
let loose on a knave, who set it at defiance. The one was secure: the
other problematical; and replete with the danger which we wished to
Quisque asked him what was the sum that he demanded? His reply was
more moderate than from appearances we had reason to expect: it was
one hundred pounds.
Glibly desired he would permit us to consult five minutes among
ourselves. He withdrew; and the fluent agent remarked the sum was
a trifle: but, trifling as it was, he had no doubt but feelings of
delicacy and honor would dictate that it ought to be jointly paid, by
the three parties principally concerned.
He had urged a motive which I knew not how to resist, and I gave my
assent. By this manoeuvre he gained the point which he intended. He
implicated me, as paying to suppress a pamphlet which, according to
his interpretation, I at present allowed to be defamatory, and unjust.
The money however was paid, and the copies of the pamphlet were
delivered: and, being determined if possible to avoid such another
accident, those that I had caused to be printed were dislodged from
their garret; both editions, a single copy of each excepted, were
taken into the fields by night, and burned; and thus expired a
production which had aided to drain my pocket, waste my time, and
inflame my passions.
END OF VOLUME V
_A new and bold project conceived and executed by Wakefield: The
difficulty of making principles agree with practice discussed: Fair
promises on the part of an old offender, the hopes they excite and the
fears that accompany them_
The affair of the pamphlet being removed from my mind, I had leisure
to attend to the other difficulty that had lately crossed me; by the
possession which Wakefield had illegally taken of effects which he
asserted to be his, in the double right of being heir to his uncle
and the husband of my mother, but which, if my information were true,
appertained to me.
It may well be supposed I communicated all my thoughts to friends like
Evelyn, Wilmot, and Turl; and endeavoured to profit by their advice.
Law had lately undergone a serious examination from us all; and it
was then the general opinion among us that, though it was impossible
to avoid appealing to it on some occasions, yet nothing but the most
urgent cases could justify such appeals. Enquiries that were to be
regulated, not by a spirit of justice but by the disputatious temper
of men whose trade it was to deceive, and by statutes and precedents
which they might or might not remember, and which, though they might
equivocally and partially apply in some points, in others had no
resemblance, such enquiries ought not lightly to be instituted.
Neither ought the habitual vices which they engender, both in
lawyer and client, nor the miseries they inflict, upon the latter
in particular, and by their consequences upon all society, to be
In the course of the conversation at the tavern, when I dined and
spent the afternoon with the false Belmont, this subject among others
had occurred. Having told him that I had quitted all thoughts of the
law, he enquired into my motives; and, being full of the subject and
zealous to detail its whole iniquity, I not only urged the reasons
that most militate against it both in principle and practice, but, in
the warmth of argument, declared that I doubted whether any man could
bring an action against another without being guilty of injustice.
I considered crime and error as the same. The structure of law I
argued was erroneous, therefore criminal; and I protested against the
attempting to redress a wrong, already committed, by the commission of
The death of Thornby happened immediately after this conversation
took place; and it is not to be supposed that a man like my young
but inventive father-in-law could forget, or fail in endeavouring to
profit by, such an incident.
One morning while at breakfast, I received a note from him, signed
Belmont; in which he requested me again to dine and spend the
afternoon with him: alleging that an event had taken place in which he
was deeply interested: adding that he had been lately led to reflect
on many of the remarks I had made; and that he hoped the period was
come when he should be able to change the system to which I was so
inimical, for one that better agreed with my own sentiments: but that
my advice was particularly necessary, on the present occasion.
The note gave me pleasure. That a man with such powers of mind, and
charms of conversation, should have only a chance of changing, from
what he was to what I hoped, was delightful. And that he should call
upon me for advice, at such a juncture, was flattering.
I answered that an engagement already formed prevented me from meeting
him, on that day: but I appointed the next morning for an interview.
Dining I declined; as a hint that I disapproved the attempt he had
made to entrap me.
The engagement I had was to accompany Lady Bray, to one of the
families acquainted with the Mowbrays; and where it was expected we
should meet Olivia, and her aunt. This expectation, which kept my
spirits in a flutter the whole day and increased to alarm and dread in
the evening, was disappointed. Whether from any real or a pretended
accident on the part of the aunt, who sent an apology, was more than I
had an opportunity to know.
I kept my appointment, on the following morning; and was rather
surprised, when we met, at perceiving that the still pretended
Belmont, like myself, was in deep mourning. I began to make enquiries,
to which he gave short answers; and, turning the interrogatories upon
me, asked which of my relations was dead?
'Oh: I remember. Mrs. Wakefield. Are you still as angry with her
husband as ever?'
'I really cannot tell. Though I have what most people would think much
'Indeed! What has he done more?'
'Taken possession of property which is mine.'
'By what right is it yours?'
'It was bequeathed me by my grandfather; and since that by his
'The uncle of this Wakefield, I think you told me?'
'Yes. A lawyer. One Thornby; who was induced by death-bed terrors to
restore what he had robbed me of while living.'
'That is, he lived a knave, and died a fool and a fanatic.'
'I suspect that he died as he had lived. Knavery and fanaticism are
'And how do you intend to proceed?'
'I do not know. I have not yet consulted a lawyer.'
'Consulted a lawyer? You surprise me! When last I saw you, I was
half convinced by you that a man cannot justly seek redress at law.
Its sources you proved to be corrupt, its powers inadequate, and
its decisions never accurate; therefore never just. This was your
language. You reprobated those accommodating rules by which I
endeavoured to obtain happiness; and urged arguments that made a deep
impression upon me. Now that self-interest gives you an impulse, are
your principles become as pliant as mine; which you so seriously
I paused, and then replied--'I imagine you take some delight in having
found an opportunity of retorting upon me; and of laughing at what you
still consider as folly.'
'Indeed you mistake. I hope by reminding you of your own doctrine to
induce you to put it in practice. The virtue that consists only in
words is but a vapour.'
'Surely you will allow this is an extreme if not a doubtful case. I
do not mean to commence an action, till I have considered it very
seriously: but I presume you do not require infallibility of me? Or,
if you do, it is what I cannot expect from myself. I have frequently
been led to doubt whether principles the most indubitable must not
bend to the mistakes and institutions of society. 'This doubt is to me
the most painful that can cross the mind: but it is one from which I
cannot wholly escape.'
'Your tone I find is greatly altered. How strenuous, how firm, how
founded, were all your maxims; when last we met.'
'And so, I am persuaded, the maxims of truth will always remain.'
'Then why depart from them? Another of them, which I likewise
recollect to have heard from you, is that the laws which pretend to
regulate property, whether by will, entail, or any other descent, are
all unjust: for that effects of all kinds should be so appropriated as
to produce the greatest good.'
'I do not see how that can be denied. But this is strongly to the
point in my favour, as I suppose: for the institutes of society render
the application of the principle impracticable; and therefore I think
the property may have a greater chance of being applied to a good
purpose, if allotted to me, than if retained by this Wakefield; whose
vices are extraordinary.'
'You believe him to be a man of some talent?'
'All that know him affirm his understanding would be of the first
order, were it worthily employed.'
'Then would it not be a good application of the property in
contest, if it should both enable and induce him so to employ his
'Oh, of that there is no hope.'
'How do you know? I believe you have thought the same of me: but you
may chance to be mistaken. And now I will tell you a secret. I am in
the very predicament of this Wakefield. A relation is dead, who has
left his property away from me: by what right is more than I can
discover; at least in the spirit of those laws which pretend to
regulate such matters: for their spirit is force. Lands wrested from
the helpless they consign to the robber. I am in possession; and doubt
whether, even according to your code, I ought to resign. I certainly
ought not according to my own. I will acknowledge to you that I think
well of the man who claims the property I withhold. But I cannot think
so well of him as of myself: for I cannot be so well acquainted with
his thoughts as with my own. I know my own wants, my own powers, and
my own plans. I should be glad to do him good, but I should be sorry
to do myself ill. You accuse me of having fallen into erroneous
habits, of making false calculations, and of tasting pleasures that
are dangerous and of short duration. I have ridiculed your arguments:
but I have not forgotten them. Neither has the enquiring spirit that
is abroad been unknown to or unnoticed by me. Early powers of mind
gave me the early means of indulgence. I revelled in pleasure,
squandered all I could procure, and was led by one successful artifice
to another, till I became what I can certainly no otherwise justify
than by the selfish spirit of the world. In this I find the rule is
for each to seize on all that he can, with safety; and to swallow,
hoard, or waste it at will. I have attempted to profit by vice which
I knew not how to avoid. But, if there be a safer road to happiness,
I am no idiot: I am as desirous of pursuing it as you can be. The
respect of the world, the security from pains and penalties, and the
approbation of my own heart, are all of them as dear to me as to you.
I have thought much, have had much experience, and have the power of
comparing facts and sensations as largely perhaps as another.
'I will not deny that to trick selfishness by its own arts, to
laugh at its stupidity, and to outwit its contemptible cunning, are
practices that have tickled my vanity; and have perhaps formed one of
my chief sources of pleasure. But habit and pleasure led me to extend
such projects; and to prey upon the well-meaning, and the kind, with
almost as much avidity as on those of an opposite character.
'However, though I did not want plausible arguments in my own
justification, I cannot affirm that my heart was wholly at ease. New
thoughts have occurred, other prospects have been contemplated, and my
dissatisfaction has increased. You cannot but have remarked that, in
the course of human life, most men undergo more than one remarkable
change. The sober man becomes a drunkard, the drunkard sober, and
the spendthrift sometimes a rational economist: though perhaps more
frequently a miser.
'Yet, though I am disposed to alter my conduct, supposing me
to possess the means of bidding defiance to mankind, I have no
inclination to subject myself to their neglect, their pity, or
their scorn. Be it want of courage or want of wisdom, I have not
an intention to shut myself out from society. If I may be admitted
on fair and liberal terms, I am content: but, I honestly tell you,
admitted I will be. I have shut the door of dependency upon myself,
were I so inclined. Offices of trust would not be committed to me.
And to live rejected, in poverty and wretchedness, pointed at and
pretended to be despised by the knaves and fools with whom the world
is filled, is a condition to which I will never submit.
'Consequently, the property of which I have possessed myself I am in
either case determined to use every effort to keep. If I am suffered
to keep it quietly, my present inclinations are what I have been
describing. If contention must come, we must then have a trial of
skill upon the opposite system.'
I listened to this discourse, attentive to every sentence, anxious for
the next, and agitated by various contradictory emotions. I saw the
difficulties of the supposed case; and knew not what to answer, or
what to advise. That a man like this should become what he seemed half
to promise was a thought that consoled and expanded the heart. But
that it should depend upon so improbable an event as that of another
renouncing a claim, which the law gave him, to property in dispute,
was a most painful alternative. My sensations were of hope suddenly
kindled, and as suddenly killed.
After waiting some time without any reply from me, he added 'Let
us suppose, Mr. Trevor, a whimsical, or if you please a strange,
coincidence between the man with whom you have been so angry
and myself. I mean Wakefield. What if he felt some of the sober
propensities toward which I find a kind of a call in myself?'
'He is not to be trusted. In him it would be artifice: or at least
nobody would believe it could be any thing else.'
'Mark now what chance there is, in a world like this, for a man whom
it has once deemed criminal to reform. Oppressed, insulted, and
pursued by the good, what resource has he but to associate with the
'He that, with the fairest seeming and the most specious pretences,
affirming time after time that, though he had deceived before, he
now was honest, he that shall yet again and again repeat his acts
of infamy cannot complain, if no man should be willing to trust his
happiness to such keeping.'
'I find what I am to expect from you. The very same will be said of
'No: you have not been equally unprincipled, and vile.'
'These are coarse or at least harsh terms. However, I take them to
myself; and affirm that I have.'
'How can you make such an affirmation? How do you know?'
'A man may calculate on probabilities; and this is a moment in which
I do not wish to conceal the full estimate which I make of my own
conduct from you. Being therefore, seriously and speaking to the
best of my judgment, as culpable as Wakefield, let my course of
life hereafter be what it will, I find I am to expect no credit for
sincerity from you?'
'You do not know Wakefield.'
'Neither it seems do you.'
'There is something in your countenance, in your conversation, and in
the free and undisguised honesty even of your vices, that a man like
Wakefield cannot possess.'
'Have you forgotten that, though I can be open and honest, I can be
artful? Do you not remember billiards, hazard, and Bath?'
'Yes: but Wakefield would be incapable of the qualities of mind which
you are now displaying. With you I feel myself in the company of a man
of a perverted but a magnanimous spirit. With all your faults, I could
hug you to my heart. But Wakefield! who made women and men alike his
prey; to whose devilish arts the virtue and happiness of an amiable,
I may say a charming, woman were sacrificed; and the life of one of
the first of mankind was endangered; that he should resemble you, and
especially that he should resemble you with your present inclinations,
oh! would that were possible!'
'There is generosity in the wish. It denotes a power in you of
allaying one of the most active fiends that torment mankind: the
spirit of revenge.'
'It is a spirit I own to which I have been too subject; and which I
could wish to exorcise for ever.'
'Put it to the test. Let us suppose you should discover as much of
promise in Wakefield as you imagine you do in me.'
'I should then put _him_ to the test. I should demand of him to repair
the wrongs he has done Miss Wilmot!'
'What if you should find him already so disposed?'
'Impossible. Or if he were, it would be with some design!'
'Ay: perhaps a proposition that you should leave him quietly possessed
of the disputed property.'
'And, having obtained that, he would desert his second wife as he had
done his first.'
'There is some difference between a young woman and an old one.
Beside, if your account be true, Mrs. Wakefield, though she was your
mother, was very inferior to Miss Wilmot.'
'You forget that he seduced this lady, and deserted her.'
'I have heard or read of a man who, after being divorced even from a
wife, became more passionately in love with her than ever.'
'Wakefield is incapable of love.'
'You frame to yourself a most black and deformed being of this
'And you suppose a degree of sympathy, between yourself and him, which
'Why not? His wit, person, and manners, I have heard you describe as
'I only gave the picture which I had from an affectionate though a
most injured woman.'
'I recollect the story perfectly. When you repeated it,
notwithstanding my raillery, I was more moved than you had reason to
imagine. I am persuaded that Wakefield himself, had he listened to it,
would have felt a few uneasy sensations.'
'I fear not.'
'Why so? Is he made of materials totally different from other men?
Dissect him, and I imagine you will find he has a heart.'
'But of what quality?'
'Better than you at present seem to give him credit for.'
'What grounds have you for thinking so favourably of him?'
'Very excellent. Don't be surprised. I know the man.'
'Is it possible?'
'Where is the wonder? Knaves of other classes associate, and why
should not gamblers?'
'It may be, then, you are deputed to speak in his behalf?'
'I wrote to you, and introduced this conversation, for that very
purpose. I know him as intimately as I can know any man. I would speak
of him as of myself, of his defects as of my own, and I declare it
as my opinion that, if he might be permitted to enjoy his uncle's
property in peace, he would change his system. To this property he
supposes he has the best claim. He is Thornby's heir at law; and, as
to the manner in which the wealth he left was acquired, if a general
inquisition were made into the original right to every species of
property, he is persuaded that ninety-nine rich men in a hundred would
be turned into the streets to beg.'
'What you have related has greatly surprised me. You have pleaded
and continue to plead his cause very powerfully: but have you no
consideration for me? Granting all you have supposed in his favour
possible, am I so situated as to justify a romantic renunciation of
claims which, if asserted, may aid me to accomplish my dearest hopes?'
'To a man like you perhaps I could be contented to resign these
claims. I need not say "perhaps": I am certain I could, were I
thoroughly persuaded you would forsake a life of artifice and plunder,
and were I myself only concerned.
'But that is not the case. I have an object to accomplish so dear to
my heart that it swallows up lesser considerations, and will not allow
me to neglect any honest means by which it may be promoted. Wealth to
me is indispensible; wealth that shall place me on a level with a rich
and proud family with which I have to contend. I have an impulse such
perhaps as you have never felt. There is a woman in the world, endowed
with such qualities that to say I passionately love her is a most
impotent expression of what I feel: for to tenderness and ardour of
affection must be added all that simplicity, purity, and grandeur
of soul can inspire. To think of life without her is to think of a
world sterile, desolate, and joyless: of a night to which day shall
never succeed: and of existence arrested and chained in motionless
'Which might be very pitiful; or very sublime: just as you please: but
which would be very absurd.'
'Granted: but this is the fever of my mind; the disease to which,
should my hopes be disappointed, I feel myself dangerously impelled.'
'The interpretation of all which is, that, though you have discovered
principles, which if pursued would secure to yourself and mankind in
general certain happiness, and that though you can deal forth their
dogmas and point out the path which others indubitably ought to take,
yet, when your own passions are concerned, you act like the rest of
the world. And you do this, not blindly, as they do, but, with your
eyes open; at the moment that you are reminded of your maxims, and
acknowledge their truth.'
'Your accusation is premature. I have hitherto done nothing more than
express my feelings and my doubts.'
'But these doubts, spurred on by these feelings, assure me that you
will proceed against Wakefield.'
'You may think yourself assured: I conceive myself to be uncertain. I
would willingly condemn myself to great punishment, were it to promote
any plan of the goodness of which there should be a conviction. I can
even suppose cases in which I would not only devote my life, for that
in comparison appears to be a trifle, but would resign the woman whom
my soul adores. Sacrifices like these however cannot be expected on
light occasions. The good to be obtained ought to be evidently greater
than the evil to be endured.'
He paused a moment to collect his ideas, and then replied.
'If, Mr. Trevor, you are the man of that eminent virtue which I have
sometimes thought you, and to which by your discourse to me you have
certainly made very lofty pretensions, I would advise you to reflect
on what I shall once more state. I know that this Wakefield, of
whom you think so ill, and who has been quite as guilty as you have
supposed, is now inclined to be a different man. I would have you
consider, first, to whom does the property in justice belong? I think
you will find that to be doubtful. Next, supposing it to be legally
yours, may you not nevertheless be defrauded of it by law? And,
lastly, appeal to your own principles, and ask yourself whether it be
not better that you should have a chance of doing the good which you
conceive would be done, by recovering such a man as Wakefield to that
respect in society by which his talents might be well employed; or
whether it can be consistent with your own sense of right to take
methods which you acknowledge to be precarious, and unjust, in order
to dispossess him and to appropriate that to yourself to which, if you
are impartial, you will perhaps find it difficult to prove, even to
your own satisfaction, that you have a clear and undoubted claim?'
Through this whole scene, instead of diverting my attention from the
argument by gay raillery, witty allusions, or a recurrence to the
depravity of man, and the practice of the world, he kept closely to
the question, preserved the tone of earnest discussion, and, having
uttered what I have last repeated, took his leave with that serious
air which he had thus unexpectedly assumed, and maintained.
_The plan of Wakefield pursued, and the hopes and fears of an
affectionate woman: News of Philip: An artless exculpatory tale_
Quitting the place, meditating on the scene that had passed, surprised
at every part of it, at the interested manner of the man, at the
intimate knowledge which he professed to have of Wakefield, at the
promises and the threats which he appeared to make in his name, at
the coincidence not only of their characters, if his account were
true, but at their similar incidents of fortune and corresponding
inclinations to reform, astonished while I recollected these various
particulars, instead of returning immediately to my lodgings I called
on Miss Wilmot.
When I came to the door, I had scarcely decided with myself whether
it were advisable to relate what had passed to her, which as she was
personally in question I thought myself bound to do whenever it could
be done with safety; or whether, if related at present, it might not
excite hopes that would be disappointed, and anxieties prejudicial to
She no sooner saw me than she exclaimed--'I am very glad you are come,
Mr. Trevor! I have two unexpected affairs, on which I wish to consult
you. One of them relates to myself; and I will begin with that because
you are not only concerned in it but are appealed to in a very
remarkable manner. I have received two extraordinary letters; by both
of which I have been not a little affected. Pray read this first. It
is from Mr. Wakefield. The promises it contains, the style it assumes,
and the appeal it makes, are so strange as to appear either like
miracle or romance.'
She then gave me a letter, and I read as follows.
'Should you imagine, Lydia, that because I have long forborn all
intercourse with you I have forgotten you, be assured you are
mistaken. I have treated you so shamefully, and deceived you so often,
that I have little right to expect you should believe my professions,
be moved by my intreaties, or remember me with any other feelings than
those of hatred. Yet, to deal sincerely with you, this is what I do
not expect. I have had such proofs of the kindness of your heart, and
the strength of your affection, that my confidence is still entire.
'It is the more unshaken because my own intentions are direct: of
which the plainness with which I shall deliver my thoughts will I
imagine be some proof.
'I once more repeat, I have behaved to you like a ---- Spare me the
word. It is enough to recollect that I have been the thing. I could
plead the extreme vivacity of my youth, my ungovernable passions, and
the dangerous temptation of critical moments; but that I will not
exhibit any feature of pitiful apology, or endeavour to extenuate what
I cannot defend.
'You are intimate with Mr. Trevor. You know that his mother, my late
wife, is dead; and you have heard of a will, said to have been left by
my uncle. I feel but little scruple in affirming that I imbibed many
of the vices of my early youth from being placed under this uncle's
care. That such a man should die like a coward, and endeavour to
disinherit a relation to save his soul, supposing this disinheritance
to be true, would be no miracle. It would only be an act of
'I will not here enter into any enquiries of a legal kind: for I
will be open enough to own that, being in possession both in right
of my wife and as the heir of my uncle of the property he left, and
determined as I am to assert my claims, which I think paramount to
those of any other person, I will not commit myself even to you. On
the contrary, I write this letter purposely that you may shew it to
'You will ask my motive for this, and perhaps will be surprised at my
'By certain whimsical accidents, I have become acquainted with Mr.
Trevor's principles. I believe, or I rather know, him to be possessed
of a heart and understanding equally excellent. I wish to appeal to
them both. When he shall read this, he will have had a conversation
relating to me; which may have led him to expect the language I am
about to use. In an argument concerning property he cannot forget that
he lately delivered himself thus:
"If I strictly adhere to the principle of justice, I must not singly
consider my own wishes; which may create innumerable false wants, and
crave to have them gratified. I must ask is there no being, within my
knowledge, who may be more benefited by the enjoyment of that which
I am desirous to appropriate to myself than I can? If so, what right
have I to prefer self gratification to superior utility?"
'Mine is a case in point.
'Again: property is left for which he may be induced to contend; and
which, should he do so, will probably be dissipated in law. If not, it
may with no less probability be decided by law to be mine. He affirms
that to contend at law is immoral.
'Do you and he listen to what I have now to say.
'I am desirous of totally changing my conduct. I have a heart more
capable of affection than you, Lydia, have reason to suppose; and I
love you. My ambition at present is to do you much more good than
I have ever done you harm. I am once more at my own disposal; and,
unless that ardent love which you formerly bore me be entirely
changed, which I do not believe it is, I am now sincerely desirous to
make you my wife.
'But I will not deceive you. I can only be such a husband as you desire
on condition of being left in quiet possession of that which I believe
to be my own. I have ruined my character. Offices of emolument are
not easily obtained; but, if they were, I am not a man to be trusted.
I will not live a beggar; deprived of all the blessings in which the
fools around me wallow, till they turn them into curses. I wish to
live happily: unmolesting, and unmolested: but, if I must either prey
or be preyed upon, I am still resolved rather to act the fox than the
'I know you will condemn this determination; but I am speaking openly;
and telling you what my intentions are, without entering into their
'Supposing Mr. Trevor to be convinced that the law will decide the
property contested in his favour, the sacrifice demanded of him is
perhaps too great to be expected from any man. Yet, from what I have
heard and what I know, this is the sacrifice that I do expect. I
expect it from his abhorrence of pretending to seek justice by the aid
of law. I expect it from that principle which decides in favour of the
greatest good. And I expect it from the earnest desire I have heard
him express that you might be restored to that happiness which, for a
time, you have lost.
'Should he or you conclude that the motives I now urge originate in
that artifice of which I have been very justly accused, I ought
perhaps to feel no surprise, and shall certainly make no complaint.
But, believe me or believe me not, I have spoken with a sincerity of
heart for which I am likely to gain but little credit. Such I feel,
at this moment, are the misfortunes to which cunning subjects itself.
I am a man but little subject to fear: yet, I own, the fear of being
thought still to possess nothing better than this cunning assaults me,
obliges me to omit the tender epithets that are in my thoughts, and
without addition to sign myself
While I read, the eyes of Miss Wilmot were fixed upon my countenance.
Whenever I looked toward her, I could perceive the strong emotions, of
hope and fear, by which she was agitated.
When I had ended, I said--'Mr. Wakefield is indeed an extraordinary
man! Be his intentions honest or base, the strength and clearness of
his mind and his knowledge of the human heart, when we recollect how
these faculties have been employed, are truly astonishing. If this be
a plan of artifice, it is little less than miraculous. Yet who can
believe it to be any thing else?'
Miss Wilmot heaved a deep sigh, and attempted to speak: but she only
stammered. Her utterance failed; and her eyes were cast on the floor.
Hope and despair were combating; and the latter was the strongest.
She wished to confide, she wished to plead for the possibility of his
being sincere: but the mischief he had inflicted, the deceit he had
practised, and a remembrance of the picture she had formerly given me
of him, rushed upon her mind; and her spirits sunk.
'Look up, lovely Lydia,' said I, taking her hand, 'and revive. There
is, there must be hope. The man who could write this letter cannot be
The struggle of the passions was violent. A momentary wildness, such
as I had formerly witnessed, flashed in her eyes; she started from
her seat, griped my hand, then bursting into tears exclaimed--'Oh Mr.
Trevor!' and dropped down again upon the chair.
Eager to relieve a heart so overcharged, I again addressed her. 'If,'
said I, 'the property left by Mr. Wakefield's uncle can really be
employed to so noble a purpose as that of reclaiming him and making
you happy, let me perish rather than endeavour to counteract such
blessings. Let me be the thing he so much dreads, a beggar: but let me
obey the purest passions of the heart, when they are sanctioned by the
best principles of the understanding.'
Till this instant she had forgotten that, if I consented to enrich
him, I must rob myself. But the thought no sooner occurred than she
cried, 'No! It must not be! It cannot be! To require it of you is
infamous. It debases him, and would make me hate myself; were I to
participate in such an action.'
'You judge too severely,' I replied. 'I am not so unfortunately
circumstanced as he is. My character is not lost. I am not shut out of
society. I have friends, plans, and prospects; and, granting him to
be sincere, his arguments, as far as they relate to him and me, are I
suspect unanswerable. Of that sincerity I would fain not doubt: but it
is our mutual duty to be wary. Here therefore at present the matter
shall rest. I am determined to bring no action, till time and future
events shall teach me the course I ought to pursue.'
Overwhelmed by a sense of obligation, and by the thronging emotions
of every kind that assailed her, she was again half suffocated with
passion. As she recovered her eyes sufficiently spoke her feelings.
When she grew calm, she was led to ask what conversation I had had,
and with whom, relative to Mr. Wakefield? I gave her the history of
my acquaintance with the supposed Belmont, and of the scene that had
passed that very day: which she thought altogether surprising, and
seemed to shrink with the fear that it was an artful plan, contrived
by artful men. She was in some sort appeased, however, when I once
more reminded her of my determination to wait and hope for the best.
I then enquired concerning the second letter she had mentioned? To
which she answered--'It is addressed to me, as a mediator: but relates
entirely to you, and the person who wrote it; your poor penitent
She gave it me; and these were its contents.
'I make bold to lay my case before you; which as it is very grievous
I hope it may move you to pity me. I am the young man that lived with
my honoured master Mr. Trevor; in the same house, madam, that you are
pleased to live. My name is Philip. I have been guilty of a very great
fault; for which my conscience worries me night and day. So that I am
sure I shall never forgive myself: though I take my holy saviour to
witness it was more a mistake than a thought of committing so wicked
a crime. I was in a flurry, so that I did not know what I was about;
for to think of having robbed a master that was so kind to me is such
a sin and a shame as never was. But I had no notion but that my poor
dear master had drowned himself in the river; and so, as he had told
me the day before to make up my account and he would pay me the next
morning, I thought it was hard that I should lose my wages and the
money beside which I had laid out for washing, and newspapers, and
tea, and sugar, and other materials of that kind: which, though my
wages _was_ only eight pounds eight shillings, made up the whole to
twelve pounds five and threepence three farthings. Which was the
reason to make me do so base a thing as it would else have been as to
break open the box, and take out a ten pound note, and four pair of
stockings, and two waistcoats: because I knew very well my master's
kindness so that it is ten to one if he had lived to make his will he
would have given me them and more. After which I hurried away: being
as I was told of a place, with an old master that I was sure would
take me again. But I had no more thought that Mr. Trevor was living
than the child unborn: which since I discovered I have never been
at rest; being out of place, and having nobody now to ask for a
character, which is the greatest misfor_tin_ that can behappen a poor
servant that never was guilty of such an action as breaking open his
master's box, and running away with his money and things, in all my
life before, or since. So that I was tempted to list for a soldier;
but that I happened, honoured madam, to meet your maid Mary, and she
persuaded me to write to Mr. Trevor: which I durst not do, though I
know his goodness. So she said your honoured ladyship would be so kind
and tender hearted as to lay my case before Mr. Trevor, and my dear
and honoured mistress, Miss Mowbray, both of _which_ I would run to
the world's end to serve. On which she said she was sure they would
take my case into merciful consideration, and grant me their gracious
'Which is the humble petition of your distressed servant to command,
Poor fellow! Forgive thee? What is thy crime? An inaccuracy. A mistake
of judgment. A desire to do thyself right, without intentional wrong
to me or any one. Yet for this mistake, differently circumstanced,
thou mightest have lost thy life, and have been hanged like a dog!
I too accused thee of robbery, of taking more than thy due, when thou
tookest less. Hadst thou offered thy old waistcoats and stockings to a
street hawker, he would not have given thee half the surplus that was
Such were the reflections that broke from me, after perusing his
simple but affecting defence.
Mary was called up, and questioned. She knew where he lived: for the
poor, little inclined to suspicion, confide in each other. It is the
rich only that tempt them to be treacherous.
After consulting with Miss Wilmot, it was determined that she should
write to Olivia; enclosing Philip's letter, and requesting her to
give him a character. I knew she would take care to see him paid the
wages that were his due; and, as I had been the cause of his want of
employment since the fright he took at Cranford-bridge, I left money
to reimburse him for the loss of his time from that period.
The people I mixed with, and the prejudices of the world, required
that I should keep a servant: but, though the man that was with me was
by no means so great a favourite as Philip had been, I did not think
I had sufficient cause to discharge him for another. There was an
additional motive for not wishing Philip to be my servant again; at
least not under my present circumstances. Olivia's aunt had imagined
we were in league, at Cranford-bridge; and, should she see him
once more in my service, that suspicion might either be revived or
_The period of contention approaches, and the unabated patriotism of
the Baronet: Hector and the Earl become enemies, and I am made the
subject of newspaper calumny: Threatening appearances: A journey
projected: A tragical event, giving occasion to the practice of some
small portion of humanity_
The dissolution of parliament was hourly expected. Flying reports
fixed it to happen on different days; but none of them very
distant. The zeal of Sir Barnard, in behalf of his country and its
constitution, was unabated. The measures of ministry were wicked
beyond example; and the servility of parliament was unequalled, since
the time of the Tudors. Such was the Baronet's continual theme.
From him, and the political circles I frequented, I heard news in
which I might be said to be personally concerned. In consequence of
the firm refusal of Olivia, a rupture had taken place between Lord
Idford and the family: much at first to the regret of the Mowbrays;
till the turn that the quarrel took enflamed the latter.
Hector Mowbray had great property, and influence, in the county of
which he and I were both natives. Of this county the Earl was the Lord
Lieutenant; and here he likewise had his dependents, and partisans.
The Mowbrays were wealthy; and Hector was ambitious of being elected
knight of the shire. When it was first proposed, the aunt forwarded
the project: for there was no probability that any other candidate so
powerful should start. The joint interest of the Earl and the Mowbrays
would defy opposition.
The Earl however understood traffic; and, finding himself so
positively refused by Olivia, he thought proper to inform the family
that she must either be induced to consent, or, instead of aiding to
bring Hector into parliament, he should himself propose and support
another candidate with the whole weight of his interest. The threat
was galling. It was insinuated first to the aunt; and, when Hector was
informed of it, he affected to vapour and treat it with defiance; but,
on better consideration, he and the aunt thought proper to importune
Olivia, hoping they should oblige her to comply. Threats and
intreaties alike were vain. Her resolution was not to be shaken; and
the Earl more openly declared that, if she should think proper to
persist, he would beggar himself rather than Hector should carry his
Hector had been canvassing the county, had subscribed to races, been
present at the assizes, given public dinners, and taken various means
to increase his popularity; of which he had become inordinately vain.
Inflated therefore with a certainty of victory, he threw down the
gauntlet, and dared the Earl to the field.
In the mean time, paragraphs appeared in a morning and an evening
paper, both of them sold to Government, and the echoes of each other,
that were evidently aimed at me, and my connections. At first I could
not have conceived how I should have attracted the attention of those
worthy gentlemen, who earn their bread by the daily manufactory of
lampoons: but I was soon informed that this is become a regular branch
of business; and that the motives to carry it on are many. These
motives originate in paymasters, of various descriptions: of whom the
treasury is supposed to be the chief.
The libels, of which I was the subject, aimed to be satirical; but
were too dull of wing to hit their mark: they were only malignant.
They could neither tickle the fancy nor gall the heart; but they
proved that I had lurking enemies, who wished to wound, did they but
know when and where to strike.
It was well known that my professedly dear friend, Glibly, was
principally concerned in the morning paper where these libels
generally appeared. When I first became acquainted with him, he
affected indifference to parties; and was ready to praise or laugh at
either, as circumstances should happen to direct him: but, when the
temper of the times became intolerant and acrimonious, he thought it
prudent to take a decided part. That such a man should declare in
favour of the weakest was not to be expected; and he now associated
with the known hirelings of ministry, of whom I was a still more open
and undisguised opponent.
By these attacks on me, Glibly therefore, for they were undoubtedly
a part of his handy-work, Glibly, I say, had a three-fold motive.
He indulged a propensity, which strange to say he had acquired,
of wounding in the dark, that he might smile and shake hands with
the insulted person in broad day; he answered the end for which
ministry retained him, that of decrying all its antagonists; and he
particularly forwarded the views of another of his dear friends, the
The general complexion of paragraphs like these is falsehood; which is
sometimes direct, though it is more commonly a perversion of existing
facts. The pamphlet I had written, which had been partially made known
to the public by the advertisement that had appeared, the patronage of
Sir Barnard, my ambitious views on the Mowbray family, with such other
particulars as the indefatigable Glibly could collect, sometimes
delivered in obscure allusions and at others more openly, were the
topics of calumny. How many of these ingenious devices to irritate and
injure were framed I never knew: for I seldom read them myself, though
I heard of them sufficiently often to be assured that they were
There were various means by which they might have been stopped; and
of which, in ordinary cases bribing is chiefly practised: but in this
instance fighting, or the law, would have been more effectual. Of
these however I totally disapproved. Defamation is an evil: but death
is generally and perhaps always a greater; and to prevent enquiry
is among the worst of evils. I was not yet sufficiently acquainted,
however, with the mistakes to which men are subject, or rather
impelled by the institutions they admire, not to feel great surprise
and some indignation at the obstacles which I found were continually
to impede my career. He who has never travelled into the country of
Mosquitoes is not aware how slight a net-work covering will preserve
him from their sting.
These were trifles, and would have been unworthy of notice had they
not resembled the small cloudy speck, which, though scarcely visible
in the distant horizon, approaches, and swells, and bursts over the
head in a storm. The beginning contest between the Earl and the
Mowbray family, the interest which the worthy Mr. Glibly had thought
proper to take in me and my affairs, the patriotism of Sir Barnard,
nay the friendship of Mr. Evelyn himself, that best of men, were but
so many links in the chain of that fate which was impending.
At present, however, with respect to the Baronet, I daily increased in
favour. He frequently requested me to accompany him when he went down
to the house; and paraded with me, arm in arm, through the avenues:
catching every man he knew by the button, and introducing me; then
descanting on the news of the day, the victories of the minister among
his creatures and in the house, and the defeats of his projects every
At length it was generally affirmed and believed that parliament would
be dissolved in a fortnight; and, as Sir Barnard wished to keep well
with his borough, he proposed that we should go down and visit the
worthy and independent electors: among whom he observed we might spend
a few days in a pleasant manner, and advantageously to his interest,
till the writ of election should be issued. This was on the Wednesday:
but, as there was to be a debate and probably a division of the house
on Friday, his sense of public duty would not permit him to be absent
on such an occasion, and we agreed to defer our journey till Saturday
During this short interval an incident occurred, which it is necessary
I should relate. It happened on the Thursday that, after spending the
day near Richmond, where I had been invited to dine, I was returning
home on horseback, followed by my servant: for I thought myself
obliged to practise some part of that aristocracy which I nevertheless
very sincerely condemned.
The night was starlight; and, as we were cantering down a lane at the
entrance of Barnes common, we heard distant cries and the report of a
pistol, in the direction as we believed in which we were proceeding.
I immediately stopped, and listened very attentively: but all was soon
silent. Being convinced as well by the cries as the firing of the
pistol that a robbery, if not something worse, had been committed, and
not certainly knowing from what point the sound came, I rode gently
forward and continued to listen with the utmost attention: desiring my
servant to do the same.
We rode on, still walking our horses and looking cautiously round for
some time, without any sight or sound of man approaching us, till we
came to a gate at the edge of the common. Here I saw a horse standing
patiently, without his rider; and stopping once more to look and
listen, I presently perceived an indistinct object: which I discovered
to be a man; wounded and weltering in his blood.
I spoke to him: but no answer was returned, nor any sound. I then
raised the body in my arms, and it appeared to be lifeless.
What was to be done? A human being, who might be dead or might not, in
either case, must not be left in such a situation.
The neighbourhood is populous, and I could distinguish lights at no
very great distance. Fearing lest, if I sent my servant he should
blunder, or that the persons he might address himself to would be less
likely to pay attention to him than to me, I bade him remain by the
dead or wounded man; and, mounting my horse, I rode away immediately
to procure aid.
My direction was across the common; and fortunately I met with a
carriage, which proved to be a hackney coach returning to town with
two passengers. I ordered the coachman to stop, and he immediately
supposed I was a highwayman: but, being undeceived, he refused to go
out of his way for the purpose I required.
The persons within, hearing a kind of squabble, and understanding when
they listened the nature of it, spoke to me; and enquired into the
particulars. By good luck, they happened to feel properly, and joined
me against the coachman; who, though unwillingly, was obliged to
submit; and, when he came to the point where the roads join, to turn
back and receive the wounded man into the carriage. The passengers
alighted, I ordered my man to take the horse of the stranger in
charge, and we proceeded slowly to the first inn.
Here I immediately enquired for surgical and medical assistance;
and, as the people of these villages are many of them opulent, good
practitioners were presently procured.
While the messengers were dispatched, I had leisure to examine the
stranger; whose appearance, figure, and countenance, were altogether
extremely interesting. His hair was abundant, but milk white, his
features were serene, and his form in despite of age was still manly.
The benevolence of his countenance was heightened by the blood with
which his locks were in part clotted, and that had streamed over his
face upon his clothes and linen.
The medical gentlemen arrived nearly at the same time, the stranger
was examined, the pulsation of the heart was perceptible, and, though
the contusions on the head and the temple were violent, and he had
been shot in the shoulder, so that the ball had passed through behind,
they were of opinion, as there was no fracture of the skull, that
the wounds were not mortal. The appearance of the stranger, and the
condition in which I found him, had made a lively impression upon
me. I was fearful of leaving him, in an unknown place, amidst the
casualties and hurry of an inn, to the care of waiters, and the
neglect of persons who had scarcely leisure to be humane. I therefore
determined to send my servant to town, and stay with him that night. I
had an appointment and other business in the morning; but I could be
at London in less than an hour: that was therefore no obstacle.
Hoping to have discovered his place of abode, I desired his pockets to
be searched before the people present: but they were entirely emptied;
and contained no paper, or memorandum, that could afford information.
After some time, by the aid which was procured, his pulse began to
quicken, and his lungs to do their office; and, that nothing might
be omitted, I prevailed on the physician to remain with me at his
bed-side, and attend to every symptom, above half the night. With this
he the more willingly complied because he was apprehensive of fever,
when the circulation should recover all its elasticity.
In the morning, though very unwillingly, I was obliged to forsake my
charge: but not till I had left money with the physician, who made
himself accountable to the innkeeper for all expences. Being a humane
person, I believe he would have done this without my interference. But
in addition to that every mark about the stranger, his look, his dress
and the horse on which he was mounted, denoted him to be a gentleman;
and when I left him, though the physician thought it was probable he
might not recover the use of his understanding and the power of speech
for a day or two, he yet was persuaded that he would not die.
_An incident in the park, or the danger of unruly dogs and horses: The
fortitude and affection of Olivia: A visit to the wounded stranger_
Knowing the habits of Sir Barnard to be precise, and pettish, so that
if I counteracted the arrangement he had made it would put him into a
disagreeable temper, I resolved, as we were to depart early the next
morning, to return as soon as possible to the stranger. About two in
the afternoon, I was riding through the park for this purpose: and
here another incident occurred; which, though it excited extreme
terror, it afterward afforded uncommon delight.
A few days before, I had witnessed a lady on a run-away horse, who
was seized with fright, dropped from the saddle, and bruised herself
exceedingly. She would have been in no danger, if she had behaved but
with the ordinary resolution of a man; and the accident led me to
reflect on the ill education to which women are subjected. They seem
to be esteemed by men in proportion as they are helpless, timid, and
dependent. It is supposed they cannot be affectionate unless their
leading feature be imbecility.
Just as I had crossed the bridge over the Serpentine river, two ladies
and a gentleman with their grooms, all on horseback, were turning
round; and went off in a hand gallop toward Kensington gardens. I was
riding fast, at no great distance; and perceived it to be Olivia, her
aunt, and some person whom I did not know. Olivia was mounted on a
fine blood horse; and a large dog rushed by him in pursuit of me,
being tempted by my fast galloping.
The horse of Olivia had previously been put upon his mettle. I saw the
danger, and instantly pulled up: but he began to plunge, and kick, in
a manner that would have unhorsed most men. The dog then turned from
me, and attacked the animal that was highest in motion; and the horse
immediately set off full speed. The foolish servant, being frightened,
began to gallop after her. I was obliged to do the same, and stop him:
for the clattering of feet behind did but increase the fury of the
Terrified however as I was, when I first noticed the vicious
propensities of the horse, the courage of Olivia was such, her seat
was so firm, and she kept so steady a hold of the strong curb rein,
that I felt a confidence she would overpower the horse; if the fear
and folly of some other person should do no mischief. I therefore
followed at a proper distance; and, when I saw several horsemen who
attempted to cross her, I shouted and waved my hat for them to keep
My hopes were justified. She avoided every danger, by her management
and presence of mind; and, by her use of the curb and the aid of the
wall at the end of the ride, arrested the course of the intemperate
Having kept the grooms back, I was the first that came up with her;
and, leaping from my saddle, I seized the reins and held them till the
servant arrived. I then enjoyed one more rapturous moment, such as I
had indeed but little foreseen: I received her in my arms.
Not a minute before, how firm and collected had her mind and actions
been: but no sooner did she feel my embrace than her frame was
suffused. A thousand ideas, that had no relation to the danger which
her own fortitude had escaped, immediately rushed upon her; she sunk
upon my shoulder, and burst into a flood of tears. They were the heart
casings of ten thousand of the foregone anxieties of love.
How could I have hated the broad day, and the prying eyes that were
upon us! How welcome would the fogs and darkness of Cranford-bridge
have been! My adventurous spirit would then have surely imprinted the
first kiss of love! as chaste as it would have been ecstatic.
This bliss, alas, was not to be. The crowd approached. I pressed her
hand, and, as an assurance of fidelity, she gently returned the token
of kindness. Such mute signs being all that were permitted.
Perceiving I must leave her, I again requested she would not mount the
unruly horse; and she replied, with a heavenly smile, 'Have no fear
for me. I will be careful of myself;' to which she added in a low
whisper: 'for my preserver's sake!'
Oh moments of unutterable bliss! Who can estimate your worth? One
of you will outweigh a life, such as the dull round of common place
nothings can yield.
Did not my eyes thank her? Did not the strong workings of my colour
and countenance inform her of what was passing within? Oh yes! And
in the same language she involuntarily replied. He who shall suppose
there was one emotion which celestial purity might not approve cannot
comprehend Olivia. They were emanations such as those only who have
souls, as well as bodies, are acquainted with.
The tide of ecstacy must turn. The aunt came up, I bowed, she
returned my salute in a manner that shewed her mind was affected by
contradictory emotions, and I mounted my horse and guided his head
toward the Park gate; through which I passed; feeling, at the moment,
that I was passing the gate of paradise.
I had not however left all my heaven behind me. No: I bore with me
ample stores for delicious revery. The fortitude of Olivia, the firm
and easy grace with which she kept her seat, her admirable management
and quick presence of mind, her unabating courage at one moment, and
her melting tenderness at the next, were not the food but the feast of
In this revelry of the imagination I indulged, till I arrived at the
inn; where I found the physician, agreeable to appointment; and was
informed by him that the stranger still continued insensible: but that
the symptoms appeared to be rather more than less favourable.
I remained with the patient during some hours, till the necessary
preparation for my journey obliged me to depart. I then left a
sufficient sum with the physician; and, after most earnestly
recommending the stranger to his care, reluctantly returned to town.
Though I had obtained a promise, from the physician, that the patient
should be removed to his own home, as soon as it should be discovered,
or to the house of the physician, whenever it might be done without
danger, I yet could not help questioning whether to leave him to the
mercy of persons, with whom I was unacquainted, that I might take
a journey to visit the free and independent electors of an English
borough, were faithfully to fulfill the duties of humanity. Add to
which the venerable and benevolent appearance of the stranger was
so uncommonly interesting that it made a strong impression upon my
But it was necessary to decide, and I acted as mortals are obliged to
do on such occasions: not knowing what was best, I adopted that which
appeared to be the most urgent.
_The journey to the borough of the Baronet: Independent electors, and
their motives satisfactorily explained: Evil communication corrupts
good manners: Electors eager to make hay while the sun shines, and
being once bought wish again to be bribed_
The following morning at the hour appointed, Sir Barnard and I set
off for the borough of ****: at which we arrived without delay or
The number of voters was little more than thirty; and the first
business, after our arrival, was to invite them to a dinner. It has
long been remarked that men in a body will be guilty of actions
of which individually they would each be ashamed. In an assembly,
however, the purpose of which is conscious iniquity, few, who have not
witnessed such scenes, will be aware of the efforts that each man will
make to argue himself into a belief of his own upright intentions: or
of the eager assent with which his endeavours will be seconded by his
In the present instance, for example, what were the motives of
the worthy electors? Sir Barnard explained them, to the perfect
satisfaction of all parties.
But what were they? The love of the constitution: the honest struggles
that honest men were making to displace a corrupt minister: their very
eager and laudable attempts to free an oppressed and ruined country,
relieve it of its taxes, recover its trade, and revive the glory of
old England: to effect these great and good purposes was the whole and
sole end at which they aimed. Were all the electors through all the
boroughs, cities, and counties of Great Britain but as virtuous as
those of the borough of ****, it would indeed be a happy land.
Yet, strange to say, what different masks does self-assuming virtue
wear! State the per contra. Imagine only how many free and independent
electors were at this period exulting, in a similar manner, at
the purity of their own conduct; while giving their votes for the
support of government, the maintenance of order, and to preserve the
immaculate statesman, the saviour of the nation, the great financier,
the first of orators, the admiration of Europe, and the wonder of the
world, in power!
Who will deny that a general election is the season when all the
disinterested virtues, all the pure patriotism, all the most generous
and best qualities of the soul are called into action? How are the
morals of the people improved! To what a height of grandeur does human
nature rise; and how captivating is the point of view in which it is
seen! Ćra of incomprehensible excellence!
Can it be supposed that I, who was to be the representative of such
free and noble souls, through whose lips their patriotic spirits were
to breathe, I, in whom one five-hundredth part of the virtue of the
whole island was to be compressed, and bottled up ready for use, being
as I was in company with sages whose office it was to choose one still
more sage than themselves, thus circumstanced, was it possible that
I should not imbibe some portion of their sublime wisdom? Had I no
sympathy? Were all my affections and passions and patriotism extinct?
Oh no! Mocking, says the proverb, is catching: and, however in my
sober moments, among sober people, reasoning on objects at a distance,
I might systematise and legislate for the conduct of myself and
others, being an actor in the scene, whether its atmosphere were
healthy or contagious, I never yet found that I could wholly escape
imbibing a part of the effluvia. I gave toasts, made speeches,
sung songs, ay and wrote them too, and became so incorporated with
my constituents, lovers as they were of liberty, that, the cut of
our cloaths and countenances excepted, I might in this moment of
overflowing sapience have been taken for one of themselves.
I was little aware, however, when I consented to make this journey,
of its consequences. Disinterested as these worthy voters were,
and purchased by wholesale as they had been when the family of the
Brays bought the borough, they yet had wives and daughters; who wore
watches, and rings, and gowns; and who would each of them think
themselves so flattered, by a genteel present from me, that there was
no describing the pleasure it would give them! Every _particular_
about me told them I was very much of a gentleman.
Beside which, one lady had a great affection for a few pounds of the
best green tea, bought in London. Another discovered that the loaf
sugar in the country was abominable. A third could not but think that
a few jars of India pickles, and preserved ginger, would be a very
pretty present. It would always remind her of the giver. A fourth
could not but say she _did_ long for a complete suit of lace; cap,
handkerchief, and ruffles: and so on through the whole list.
The men too were troubled with their longings. With one it was London
porter: with another it was Cheshire cheese and bottled beer. They
would both drink to the donor. Their neighbour longed very vehemently
indeed for the horse I rode: and, finding that the animal was too
great a favourite to be parted with, he compounded for twelve dozen of
When these hints, which looked very like demands, were first given me,
I applied to Sir Barnard; doubting much whether any of them ought
to be complied with: but he let me understand that such things were
politic, and customary; and that a seat in parliament, even when
bestowed, was not to be had free of expence.
What could be done? To have required him to pay these disbursements
would have had so much the appearance of meanness, that it was what
I could not propose. To request a loan in advance of Mr. Evelyn was
sufficiently grating to the feelings: but he had a liberal spirit, it
was the least painful of the two, and I had no other resource. Fortune
was whetting the darts she soon intended to hurl.
_News from Mowbray petitioning for aid: The period o; universal
uproar arrives, and the Baronet pursues his patriotic purposes: A few
sketches of a county contest at a general election: Hector loving in
his liquor: Qualms of conscience, which are thought very unseasonable
and very ridiculous: The incomprehensible defection of Sir Barnard,
and the suspicion that lights on me_
While we were spending our time in this 'pleasant manner, and
advantageously to the Baronet's interest,' we received intelligence of
our quondam friends, the Earl and young Mowbray; who were canvassing
the county, in which they had vowed opposition to each other, with
indefatigable zeal: so that a ruinous contest, probably to both
parties, was predicted.
In this county Sir Barnard himself had some interest: for he had some
lands there: and Hector prevailed on a common friend to write in a
very urgent style to the Baronet, requesting his aid. How could so
great a lover of his country as Sir Barnard, indignant too as he felt
himself at the apostacy of the Earl, refuse a request by which his own
patriotic purposes might be forwarded?
At length parliament was dissolved; and the whole kingdom was
immediately in a tumult. Driving, rioting, and uproar began. God help
the poor post-horses, hostlers, and chambermaids!
The writ for the Baronet's borough was made out, his agents were
ready, and, as there could be no opposition, our business was soon
over. It was high time: for my pocket was tolerably drained. And as
the worthy electors very industriously compared notes, when any one of
them discovered that the present made to his neighbour was of greater
value than the _compliment_ which he had received, I had immediate
intimation of my own injustice: which it was expected I should
This serious business settled, and these accounts closed, the Baronet
now had leisure to think of his friends; and he turned his thoughts
to the annoying of Lord Idford. He had purchased me as well as his
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