The Adventures of Hugh Trevor
Thomas Holcroft

Part 2 out of 12

an effort beyond his strength. For a moment he lost his voice: at last
he exclaimed, with a hoarse scream--'Take him away'--My heart sunk
within me. The apothecary stood petrified with astonishment. The
rector again repeated with increasing agony--'Take him away! Begone!
Never let me see him more!'

The pang I felt was unutterable. I rose with a feeling of despair that
was annihilating, and was going broken hearted out of the room. At
that instant the figure of my master started to recollection, and with
such terror as to subdue every other fear. I turned back, fell on my
knees again, and clasping my hands cried out, 'For God Almighty's
sake, do not send me back to my master! I shall never escape with
life! He will murder me! He will murder me! I'll be your servant as
long as I live. I will go of your errands; take care of your horses;
drive your plough; weed your garden; do any thing you bid me; indeed,
indeed I will.--Do not send me back to be murdered!'

The excess of my feelings had something of a calming effect on those
of the rector. He repeated, 'Go go, boy, go! I feel myself very ill!'
The apothecary recovered his tongue and added, 'Ay, my good child, you
had better go.'

The altered voice of the rector removed a part of the load that
oppressed me, and I left the room, though with no little sensation of
despondency. In about half an hour the apothecary came down. He had
had a conversation with the rector, who I found could not endure the
sight of me again, under my present forlorn or rather accusing form.
The remembrance however that I had saved his life was predominant. How
his casuistry settled the account between his two oaths I never heard;
on that subject he was eternally silent. He was probably ashamed of
having taken the first, and of having been tricked out of the second.
His orders were that I should go home with the apothecary, with whom
he had arranged matters, should be new clothed, wait till my wounds
were healed, and then, if he possibly could, he would prevail upon
himself to see me.


_Hopes in behalf of my mother: The arrival of the rector: I gain
his favour: Am adopted by him: And effect a family reconciliation.
Anecdotes of a school-fellow, and his sister: Grammatical and musical
studies: Causes of discontent between the Squire and the rector:
Tythes and law produce quarrels: The tragi-comic tale of the rats_

Six weeks had elapsed before my wounds, bruises, and black marks,
had totally disappeared; and the scar above my eye still retained a
red appearance. The alteration of my person however, aided as it was
by dress, was so remarkable as to excite surprise among my village
friends. The apothecary prided himself upon the change, persuading
himself that the rector would thank him for the present of so fine a
grandson. His art and care had wrought miracles, I was quite another
creature; the alteration was so prodigious since he had taken me that
he was sure there was not so fine a boy in all England.

In the mean time I had written to my mother, whose cottage was about
ten miles across the country, from the village where the apothecary
lived. He would not permit me to go to her, it might offend the
rector; but he agreed that, if she should by chance come to me, there
could be no harm in my speaking to my mother. He too understood
casuistry. She accordingly came to see me, and was overjoyed at what
had happened; it might lead to a general reconciliation: especially
now that my brother and sister were both dead. They had been carried
off by the small-pox; and she rightly enough conjectured that the
rector would not be the less prone to pardon her for being clear of
further incumbrance. She enjoined me to intercede in her behalf, and I
very sincerely promised to speak as soon as I dared.

The day at last came on which the rector was to pay his visit, and
examine how far I was fit to be his grandson. My terror by this time
had considerably abated: he having taken thus much notice of me, I
scarcely could believe myself in danger of being rejected. I was not
however without trepidation, and when the well known post chariot
drove up to the door my heart sunk within me.

The apothecary had two sons, one a year older, and the other some
months younger that I was. The eldest was deformed, and his brother
squinted abominably. Curiosity had brought them and the whole family
into the parlour, to be spectators of the interview. My grandfather
entered; I was dressed as genteelly as every effort of the village
taylor could contrive; an appearance so different from that of the
beaten, bruised, and wounded poor elf he first had seen, with clouted
shoes, torn stockings, and coarse coating, dripping with water, and
clotted with blood, was so great as scarcely to be credible. The
ugliness of my companions did but enhance the superiority of my look;
he could not be mistaken in which was his grandson, and the pleasure
my pre-eminence inspired excited a smile of no little approbation. For
my part I had conceived an affection for him; first I had saved his
life, then he had relieved me from distress, and now was come to own
me as his grandson. The change of my present situation from that in
which I had endured so much misery gave me ineffable pleasure. The
entrance of the rector, who had been the cause of this change, and the
smile with which he regarded me went to my heart. I kneeled, my eyes
flowing in tears, and begged his blessing. He gave it, bade me rise,
and thus made me one of the happiest creatures existing.

The rector stayed some time to settle accounts with the apothecary,
after which the postillion was called, leave was taken, and I found
myself seated beside my grandfather, in that fortunate post chariot
from which I had so happily extricated him.

How extreme are the vicissitudes of life! What a reverse of fortune
was here! From hard fare, severe labour, and a brutal tyrant, to
plenty, ease, and smiling felicity. No longer chained in poverty and
ignorance, I now had free access to the precious mines of knowledge.
Far from being restrained, I had every encouragement to pursue
inquiry; and the happiness of the change was at first so great as
almost to be incredible. But the youthful mind easily acquires new
habits, and my character varied with the accidents by which it was
influenced. Yet, to use my father's language, the case-hardening I
had received tempered my future life, and prepared me to endure those
misfortunes with fortitude which might otherwise have broken my

From the day that I arrived at the rectory, I increased so fast in my
grandfather's favour that he scarcely knew how to deny me a request. I
was soon bold enough to petition for my mother; and though the pill at
first was bitter, my repeated importunities at length prevailed, and
the rector agreed that, when his daughter should have sufficiently
humbled herself, in terms suited to his dignity and her degradation,
she should be permitted to kneel at his footstool for pardon, instead
of perishing like an out-cast as she deserved.

It was not to be expected that my mother should object to the
conditions; the alternative was very simple, submit or starve. Beside
she had been too much accustomed to the display of the collective
authority, accumulated in the person of the rector, to think
of contest. His government was patriarchal, and his powers
plenipotentiary. He was the head of his family, the priest of the
parish, the justice of peace for the hundred, and the greatest man
of miles around. He had no rival, except the before-mentioned Squire
Mowbray, whom, if divines can hate, I certainly think he hated.

Of the claims of my late master over me, as his apprentice, I never
heard more. Perhaps there was no indenture, for I do not recollect
to have signed one; but if there were he certainly was too conscious
of his guilt to dare to enforce his right, now that he found me
acknowledged and protected by a man so powerful as my grandfather. It
is possible indeed that he should never have heard what became of me;
though I consider that as very improbable. While I was at Oxford, I
was informed that he died raving, with a fever in the brain.

I have mentioned the encouragement I received to pursue inquiry:
one of the first things the rector thought of was my education. Now
that he had owned I was indeed his grandson, it was fitting that
his grandson should be a gentleman. In the parish committed to his
pastoral guidance was a grammar school, that had been endowed, not
indeed by Squire Mowbray or his ancestors, but, by the family that
in times of yore had held the same estate. The pious founder had
vested the government not entirely in his own family, and its
representatives, but in that family and the rector for the time being.
This circumstance, and many others of a parochial nature, conduced to
a kind of partition of power, well calculated to excite contempt in
the wealthy Squire, who was likewise lord of the manor, and inflame
jealousy in heaven's holy vice-gerent, whose very office on earth is
to govern, and to detect, reprove, and rectify, the wanderings of us
silly sheep.

To this school I was immediately sent; and here, among other
competitors was the Squire's eldest son, Hector Mowbray. He was two
years older than I, and in the high exercise of that power to which he
was the redoubted heir. To insult the boys, seize their marbles, split
their tops, cuff them if they muttered, kick them if they complained
to the master, get them flogged if they kicked and cuffed in return,
and tyrannize over them to the very stretch of his invention, were
practices in which he daily made himself more and more expert. He was
the young Squire, and that was a receipt in full for all demands.

I soon came to understand that he was the son of a great man! a very
great man indeed! and that there was a prodigious difference between
flesh and blood of a squire's propagating, and that of ordinary breed.
But I heard it so often repeated, and saw it proved in such a variety
of instances, that I too was the grandson of a great man, ay so great
as openly to declare war against, or at least bid defiance to, the
giant power of Magog Mowbray (it was an epithet of my grandfather's
giving) I say, I was so fully convinced that I myself was the son
of somebody (pshaw! I mean the grandson) that no sooner did young
Hector begin to exercise his ingenuity upon me, than I found myself
exceedingly disposed to rebel. I had been bred in a hardy school.

At my first admission into this seminary, I did not immediately and
fully enter into the spirit and practice of the place; though I soon
became tolerably active. At robbing orchards, tying up latches,
lifting gates, breaking down hedges, and driving cattle astray, I
was by no means so great a proficient as Hector; nor had I any great
affection for swimming hedgehogs, hunting cats, or setting dogs at
boys and beggars; but at climbing trees, running, leaping, swimming,
and such like exercises, I was among the most alert.

My courage too was soon put to the proof, and my opponents found that
I entered on action with very tolerable alacrity; so that not to
mention sparrings and skirmishes, from which having begun I was never
the first to flinch, I had not been a year at school, before I had
been declared the conqueror in three set battles. The third was with
a butcher's boy, in defence of Hector, who for once instead of giving
had suffered insult, but who, though older and stronger than I was,
had not the courage to attack his hardy antagonist. My victory was
dearly earned, for the boy was considerably my superior in age and
strength, and bred to the sport. But this defence of him, and the fear
of having me for a foe, induced Hector to court my favour, and often
to invite me to Mowbray Hall.

Nor did the whole of my fame end here; the first day I entered the
school I was allowed to be the best English scholar, excepting one
Turl, a youth noted for his talents, and who while he remained there
continually kept his place in every class, as head boy. But this was
no triumph over me, for beside having been so long at school, he had
three or four years the advantage of me in point of age. Neither
did my thirst of inquiry abate, and I had now not only books but
instructors; on the contrary, my eagerness increased, and my progress
both in Latin and Greek was rapid. The rector was astonished at it,
and was often embarrassed by the questions which my desire of learning
impelled me to put.

Among my other acquirements, I became a practical musician. The rector
could strum the bass tolerably, and his friend the lawyer could play
the violin, in which however he was excelled by the clerk of the
parish. I retained some remembrance of what I had formerly studied,
and felt a great desire to learn; the rector encouraged it, and as the
clerk is always the very humble servant and slave of the parson, he
was inducted my music master. I loved the art, so that in less than
twelve months I had made a sufficient progress to join in Corelli's
and even Handel's trios, and thus to strengthen the parsonage-house

People who hate each other do yet visit and keep up an intercourse,
according to set forms, purposely to conceal their hatred, it being a
hideous and degrading vice, of which all men are more or less either
ashamed or afraid. To preserve these appearances, or perhaps from the
impulse of vanity, the rector admitted of my excursions to Mowbray
Hall. For my own part, I found a motive more alluring than the society
of Hector, that frequently occasioned me to repeat these visits. His
sister, Olivia, two years younger than myself, was usually one of our
parlour playmates. Born of the same mother, living in the same family,
accustomed to the same manners, it is difficult to account for the
very opposite propensities of this brother and sister. Every thing the
reverse of what has been recited of Hector was visible in Olivia. He
was boisterous, selfish, and brutal; she was compassionate, generous,
and gentle: his faculties were sluggish, obtuse, and confined; hers
were acute, discriminating, and capacious: his want of feeling made
him delight to inflict torture; her extreme sensibility made her
fly to administer relief. The company of Olivia soon became very
attractive, and the rambles that I have sometimes taken with her, hand
in hand over Mowbray Park, afforded no common delight. She too was a
musician, and already famous for her fine voice and execution on the
harpsichord. I accompanied her on the violin, and sang duets with her
so as to surprize and even charm the Squire, and throw the visitors at
Mowbray Hall into raptures.

This sweet intercourse however was terminated by the bickerings,
back-bitings, and smothered jealousies, between the Squire and my
grandfather, which at length burst into a flame. The Squire had
succeeded to his estate and manor by the death of a very distant
relation, and by this relation the rector had been presented to his
living: he therefore considered himself as under no kind of obligation
to the Squire; while the latter on the contrary, the advowson being
parcel and part of the manor, held the manor, and himself as owner of
the manor, to be the actual donor.

To all this was added another very serious cause of discontent, that
of tythes; a cause that disturbs half the villages in the kingdom,
and that frequently exhibits the man who is sent to preach peace, and
afford an example of mild forbearance and Christian humility, as a
litigious, quarrelsome and odious tyrant; much better qualified to
herd with wolves than to be the shepherd of his meek master. It is
sufficiently certain that neither Christ nor his apostles ever took
tythes; and the esquires, farmers, and landholders, of this christian
kingdom, would in general be better satisfied, if their successors
were to follow so disinterested and laudable an example.

My grandfather had accepted his rectory at the same commutation that
the former incumbent had enjoyed it; and, while the patron to whom
he owed the presentation was living, he contented himself with his
bargain as well as he could: but, soon after the accession of Squire
Mowbray, considering that tie as no longer a clog to his conscience,
he began to inquire very seriously into the real value of his first
fruits and tythes, personal, predial, and mixed: that is, his great
tythes and his small. The calculation inflamed his avarice, and he
purchased and read all the books on the subject of tythes he could
collect. Being fond of power, and having discovered (as he supposed)
that the man who knows the most quirks in law has the greatest
quantity of power over his simple and ignorant neighbours, he was
a tolerably laborious and successful student of these quirks. I
say, tolerably; for it seldom happens that the rector is the most
industrious person in the parish.

It was thus that, after having made the whole hundred tremble at his
authority, in the exercise of his office of justice of the peace, he
next hoped to conquer the Behemoth, Magog Mowbray himself. His own
fears of being vanquished and the advice of his friends had indeed,
for years, prevented him from proceeding to an open rupture with his
parish, and the Squire at its head: but his irritability had been
gradually increasing ever since the departure of my uncle Elford. The
progress of his avarice at first was slow; but it gained strength as
it proceeded, and there was now no one whose opinion had sufficient
weight with him to keep it longer quiet. His friend the lawyer, it is
true, might have had some such influence over him; but the lawyer had
been duly articled to the most famous, that is the most litigious,
attorney in the country, and was himself his very famous successor; a
practitioner of the first repute.

The Squire, by a trick he thought proper to play, contributed not
a little to kindle the smothering embers. My grandfather having
announced his intention of demanding a commutation of nearly double
the sum, or of being paid his tythes in kind--first his tythes _de
jure_, and next his tythes by custom; enumerating them all and each;
corn, hay, hops and hemp; fruits, roots, seeds and weeds; wool, milk,
chickens, ducklings, and goslings, or eggs; corn rakings and pond
drawings; not forgetting agistment and _subbois_, or _sylva caedua_;
with many many more of the sweets of our prolific mother earth, which
I would enumerate if I did but recollect them, and for which men so
often have been and still are impleaded in Court Christian--these
particulars, I say, being recapitulated and set forth in terrible
array, by the rector, excited in the whole parish so much dread of the
rapacious vulture, who was coming with such a swoop upon them, that
high and low, young and old, rich and poor, all began to tremble.

The Squire was the only man, at first, who durst bid defiance to the
general ravager. The rector's deviation from his original commutation
agreement threw him into a rage, and he panted for an opportunity of
shewing the contempt in which he held my grandfather and his threats.

Malicious chance favoured his wishes. It happened, while his passions
were in full force, that a rat-catcher arrived at Mowbray Hall; which
at that time was greatly infested by the large Norway rats. The man
had the art of taking them alive, and was accordingly employed by the
Squire. While he was preparing to perform his business, the gentle
Olivia, very innocently and without any foresight of consequences,
chanced to say--'I do not think, papa, that our good rector, who
considers all things as tytheable, would be much pleased to have his
tythe of rats'--The Squire no sooner heard this sentence uttered
than he began to dance and halloo, like a madman; swearing most
vociferously--'By G----, wench, he shall ha' um! He shall ha' um! He
shall ha' um!'

His boisterous joy at this rare thought, which was indeed far beyond
the discovery of his own brain, could not be appeased; nor could
Olivia, sorry for what she had done, prevent him from most resolutely
determining to put it in practice. The ratcatcher was immediately
ordered to entrap as many of his best friends as he possibly could;
and a carpenter was set to work to make a covered box, for the
rector's tythe-rats, with a lifting door. Hector Mowbray was consulted
on the whole progress; and the fancies of father and son were tickled
to excess, by the happy prank they were about to play.

The rats were caught, the box was made, and the ratcatcher commanded
to select the finest, fattest and largest of them, and enclose them
in their cage. In order to heighten and secure their enjoyment, the
Squire and Hector chose four of the stoutest servants, gave the cage
into their custody, and ordered the ratcatcher to attend. Away they
then went in turbulent procession. They even wanted Olivia to go with
them to see the sport; and young Hector, probably with malice prepense
against me, when she refused, was for using force; but she was a
favourite with the Squire, and being very determined was suffered to
remain at home.

Arrived at the parsonage-house, they entered the hall. The Squire
loudly called for the rector. The noise and vociferation of their
approach had rouzed his attention, and he was not long in coming.
The servants too were collected, some without the door and others of
more authority within it, to hear and see what all this could mean.
I likewise was one of the company.--'Here! here! Mr. Rector,' bawled
the Squire, 'we ha' brought you your due. I'll warrant, for once, you
sha'n't grumble that we do not pay you your tythes!'

My grandfather, hearing this address, seeing the covered cage, and
remarking the malicious grins of the Squire and his whole posse, knew
not what to think, and began to suspect there was mischief in the
wind--'By the waunds! mister tythe taker,' continued the Squire, 'but
you shall ha' your own! Here, lads, lift up the cage: put it on the
table; let his reverence see what we ha' brought'n! Come, raise the

The men, with each a broad grin upon his countenance, did as they were
bidden: they lifted up the box, raised the door, and out burst above
twenty of the largest wildest rats the well stocked barns of Mowbray
Hall could afford. Their numbers, their squealing, their ferocity,
their attempts to escape, and the bounds they gave from side to side
struck the whole parsonage house community with a panic. The women
screamed; the rector foamed; the squire hallooed; and the men seized
bellows, poker, tongs, and every other weapon or missile that was at
hand. The uproar was universal, and the Squire never before or after
felt himself so great a hero! The death of the fox itself was unequal
to it!

This was but the first act of the farce, the catastrophe of which
had something in it of a more tragical cast. Servants partake of the
prejudices of their masters, and the whole parsonage-house, young and
old, male and female, felt itself insulted. No sooner therefore were
the rats discomfited than the rector, summoning all his magisterial
and orthodox dignity, commanded the Squire and his troop to depart.
Despising the mandate, Magog Mowbray continued his exultations and
coarse sarcasms; and, Oh frailty of human nature! the man of God
forgot the peaceful precepts of his divine mission, and gave the
signal for a general assault. Nay he himself, so unruly are the hands
and feet even of a parson in a passion, was one of the most eager
combatants. Age itself could not bind his arms.

The battle raged, fierce and dreadful, for sometime in the hall: but
heroism soon found it wanted elbow-room, and the two armies by mutual
consent sallied forth. Numbers were in our favour, for the very maids,
armed with mop-handles, broomsticks, and rolling pins, acted like
Amazons. I was far from idle, for I had singled out my foe. Hector,
whose courage example had enflamed to a very unruly height, had even
dared to begin the attack; and I was no less alert in opposition. But
though he was Hector, I as it happened was Achilles, and bestowed my
wrath upon him most unsparingly. In fine, valour, victory, and right,
were for once united, and we very fairly put the Squire, his heir, his
ratcatcher, and his beef-eaters to flight.

The rector, dreading a second attack from the enemy, began to fortify
his castle, provide ammunition, and arrange his troops. I acted as his
aide-de-camp, burning to be myself commander in chief. But the caution
was superfluous: the Squire, like his son, was rather revengeful than
valorous, and returned no more to the field.

In the parish however the fortune of the day might be said to wear a
very different face, for there was not a farmer who did not triumph at
the tythe in kind, which had been paid to the rector; and it became a
general threat to sweep the parish of moles, weazles, stoats, polecats
and vermin of every species, and tenant the rectory with them, if any
thing more was heard on the subject of tythes. Neither did detraction
forget to remind the rector of his age, and how shameful it was for
a man with one foot in the grave to quarrel with and rob the poor
farmers, whom he was hired to guide, console, and love. The poor
farmers forgot that, in the eye of the law, the robbery was theirs;
and the rector forgot that in the eye of justice and common sense, he
had already more than enough. The framers of the law too forgot that
to hire a man to love a whole parish is but a blundering kind of a
mode. But such mistakes are daily made.


_Different accounts of the battle: Olivia offended: Legal
distinctions, and law-suits commenced_

The rumours of the village soon made it apparent that the history of
the battle royal, as given by the vanquished party, like many other
histories, deviated in various particulars from the strict truth.
Thus the Squire asserted that he and his myrmidons quitted the field
victoriously, drums beating and colours flying; after having driven
the enemy back into their citadel and strong holds, out of which they
durst not peep: and to the truth of what the Squire asserted his
trusty adherents made it a case of conscience to swear.

Encouraged by so good an example, Hector vaunted loudly of his own
high feats of arms; and by his narration made it appear, not only how
much he had the best of the battle with me, but that it was by kicking
him when up, kneeing him when down, striking him when rising, and
other such like cowardly foul and malicious acts, that he brought home
such a quantity of bruises (of which with all his valour he bitterly
complained) together with a pair of black eyes.

Knowing my partiality for his sister, and suspecting that Olivia
herself was not without her inclinations, he did not fail to repeat
these particulars when she was present; carefully adding such other
injurious accusations and epithets as might most effectually lower me
in her esteem. His efforts were successful: Olivia was offended, first
that her brother should be so cruelly beaten by one of whom she had
conceived so kindly, and next that it should be by such base and
dishonourable means. Thus one of my chief pleasures, that of visiting
at Mowbray Hall, admiring and sometimes mounting the Squire's hunters,
and straying through the gardens and grounds with the gentle Olivia,
was cut off.

Hector by this time had passed the age of sixteen, and the wrath of
the Squire rose so high that he would not suffer him any longer to go
to the same school with me: for which reason, it being a part of his
plan to send his heir to the university, that he might not only be a
Squire but a man of learning, and thus become greater even than his
father before him, preparations and arrangements were made something
sooner than had been intended, and not long afterward he was entered a
gentleman commoner of ****** college, Oxford.

It has been noticed that the farmers thought more of the vexation of
their case than of the law; but not so the rector; he thought first of
the law, and the law told him that the vexation of the case relative
to tythes, was all in his favour. Of the late affray with the Squire
indeed he had his doubts. As for the entrance upon his premises,
though it might be pleaded it was for a lawful purpose, namely, that
of paying tythes, yet, as rats were _feræ naturæ_, and therefore
things not tythable, it was very plain that this was a case of
trespass _ab initio_, and his action would lie for _a trespass vi et
armis_. But unfortunately passion had prevented him from waiting to
bring his action, and he had assumed the _vi et armis_ to himself in
the first instance, not having patience to attend the slow and limping
pace of the law. He was not indeed quite certain that, although he and
his party gave the first blows, an action of battery brought against
Mowbray might not be justified: for did he not come upon him in
full force; he, the rector, being in the peace of God and our Lord
the King? And did not he, the Squire, by shouting and oaths and
blasphemous words, put him, the rector, in bodily fear? And was not
the very act of turning ferocious animals, namely, Norway rats, loose
in his hall, to the danger of his face, eyes, and throat, a very
indubitable and sufficient assault? Was it not likewise clearly in
self defence, that the rector and his faithful servants did _molliter
manus imponere_ on the Squire and his crew?--The _molliter_ it is true
appeared rather doubtful: but then it was a term of law, and would
bear that exact signification which the circumstances of the case
required, and lawyers so well know how to give.

Thus, with law in his head, wrath in his heart, and money in his
pocket, away went the rector to hold consultations with his now
favourite friend the attorney; who has before been mentioned as so
thorough bred and far famed a practitioner; the result of which was
that an action of _trespass upon the case_, as the safest mode of
proceeding, should be brought against the Squire; and that public
information should be given that tythes in kind would in six months be
demanded from the whole parish; with a formal notice that as malicious
threatenings had been uttered against the rector, whom the laws,
civil, common, and ecclesiastical, would protect, if any such
threatenings should be put in execution actions against the offenders
would immediately be instituted.

It was the spring of the year when these resolutions were taken, and
before the end of the following November the rector, in consequence of
squabbles, insults, and frauds, had brought actions against more than
half his parishioners; by which the attornies, counsellors, and courts
were in the end the only gainers, while plaintiff and defendant most
ardently concurred and rejoiced in the ruin of each other. But so
it is: anger, avarice, and law are terrible things; and malice and
selfishness are indefatigable foes.


_Progress of my studies: My predilection in favour of theology: The
decay of the rector: His testament, death, and funeral_

Three additional years passed away under the auspices of my
grandfather, during which he pursued his law-suits and I my studies;
though with very different success; he lost the dearest thing on earth
to him, his money; and I gained the dearest thing on earth to me,
knowledge. Among other superfluous appendages, superfluous to him for
he made but little use of it, he had a good library. Not of his own
collecting; he enjoyed it by descent. This was my daily resort. Its
treasures were inexhaustible, and my desire of information could
not be satiated. I spent many happy hours in it, and it is still
remembered by me with that sweet pleasure which its contents were so
well calculated to impart.

I had another accidental advantage. The usher of the school got
preferment, and his successor happened to be well read, both in the
dead and living languages. This person, whose name was Wilmot, was not
only a good scholar and an amiable man but an excellent poet. He had
an affection for me, and I almost worshipped him. He was assiduous to
teach me every thing he knew; and fortunately I was no less apt and
eager to learn. Having already made a tolerable proficiency in the
learned languages, the richness of the French in authors made me
labour to acquire it with avidity. The Italian poets were equally
inviting; so that, by his aid, I mastered the idioms and attained the
spirit of both those languages. The dialects of the Teutonic were
likewise familiar to him, and I made some progress in the German;
being desirous from his recommendation to read, among others, the
works of Lessing, Klopstock, Goethe, and Schiller. The acquirement of
knowledge is an essential and therefore a pure pleasure; and my time,
though laboriously spent, glided swiftly and happily away.

With respect to amusement, the violin became my favourite. My now
dearest friend, the usher, among his other attainments was a musician:
my affection for him had made him intimate at the parsonage-house, and
his aid greatly promoted our musical parties.

Finding knowledge thus delightful, my zeal to promulgate it was great.
I had as I imagined so much to communicate, that I panted for an
opportunity to address myself to multitudes. At that time I knew
no place so well calculated for this purpose as the pulpit; and my
inclination to be a preacher was tolerably conformable to the views
of the rector. Not but he had his doubts. Few men are satisfied with
their own profession; and though he had great veneration for church
authority, which he held to be infinitely superior from its very
nature to civil government, yet his propensity to dabble in the law
had practically and theoretically taught him some of the advantages of
its professors. In rank it was true that the Archbishop of Canterbury
was the second man in the kingdom, and in the rector's opinion ought
to have been indisputably the first. In days of yore, who so potent?
But obsolete titles are not equal to actual possessions. The Lord High
Chancellor, in this degenerate age, enjoys much more political power.
Neither does it in general die with him, like that of the Archbishop.
He seldom fails to bequeath an earldom, or a barony at least, to his

On these subjects I had frequent lectures from my grandfather, who
perceiving the enterprise of my temper and the progress of my studies,
began to entertain hopes that from his loins some future noble family
might descend: that is, provided I would follow the advice which he
so well knew how to bestow. In support of his argument, he would give
me the history of the origin of various Barons, Viscounts, and Earls,
which he could trace to some of the lowest departments of the law.

Thus, though he was convinced that the sacerdotal character claimed
unlimited authority by right divine, yet, from the perverse and
degenerate nature of man, it was most lamentably sinking into decay;
while that of the law was rising on its ruins. Had he been a man of
the world instead of the rector of a village, he would have heard of
another profession, superior to them both for the attainment of what
he most coveted, power, rank, and wealth; and would have known that
the lawyer only soars to the possession of these supposed blessings by
learning a new trade; that is, by making himself a politician.

The effect his maxims produced on me was a conviction that divinity
and law were two super-excellent things. But my mind from many
circumstances had acquired a moral turn; and, as I at that time
supposed morality and religion to be the same, the current of my
inclinations was strong in favour of divinity. Whoever imagines the
youthful mind cannot easily acquire such moral propensities has never
observed it, except when habit and example have already taught it
to be perverse. I speak from experience, and well know how much the
accounts I had read of Aristides, Epaminondas, Regulus, Cato, and
innumerable other great characters among the ancients inflamed my
imagination, and gave me a rooted love of virtue; so that even the
vulgarly supposed dry precepts of Seneca and Epictetus were perused
by me with delight; and with an emulous determination to put them in

My morality however was far from pure: it was such a mixture of
truth and error as was communicated to me by conversation, books,
and the incidents of life. From the glow of poetry I learnt many
noble precepts; but from the same source I derived the pernicious
supposition that to conquer countries and exterminate men are the
acts of heroes. Further instances would be superfluous: I mean only
to remark that, while I was gaining numerous truths, I was likewise
confirming myself in various prejudices; many of which it has been the
labour of years aided by the lessons of accident to eradicate; and
many more no doubt still remain undetected.

And now the period approached when I was to adventure forth into that
world of which I had experienced something, had heard so much, and
with which I was so impatient to become still better acquainted. The
weight of age began to press upon the rector and he had an apoplectic
fit, at which he was very seriously alarmed. He then thought it high
time to put his temporal affairs into the best order that his own
folly would admit; for, in consequence of his lawsuits, they were
so much in the hands and power of his friend, the lawyer, that
notwithstanding the plausibility and professions of the latter, he
trembled when he came to reflect how much they were involved. His
former parsimony had led him to hope he should leave great wealth
behind him; but, when he came to consult his friend concerning his
will, he had the mortification to find how much it had been diminished
by his litigious avarice.

The will however was made, but it was under this friend's direction
and influence. The lawyer was a lawyer, and, affecting the character
of disinterestedness, reminded the rector of the folly of youth, and
in how short a period money that had taken a life to acquire was
frequently squandered by a thoughtless heir. His advice therefore was
that the property should be left to my mother, and that she should
have a joint executor. This executor ought to be the most honest of
men and the dearest of friends, or he would never perform so very
arduous and unprofitable a task with fidelity and effect: a task as
thankless as it is laborious, and which nothing should prevail on him
to undertake, but the desire to serve some very dear and much esteemed

With respect to my mother and me, I was her darling, and there was no
danger that she should marry again; at least infinitely less than that
a young man should abuse wealth, of which he had not by experience
learned the value. By making me dependent, my assiduity would be
increased: but, that all might be safe, it might perhaps be well
to set apart a sum, for my maintenance at the university; and, if
I should decide for the church when I quitted it, another for the
purchase of an advowson; or, if for the law, to place me in the office
of some eminent practitioner.

This counsel was so much that of a man of foresight, and knowledge
of the world, that my grandfather heard it with pleasure. It was
literally followed. One hundred per annum for four years residence at
the university was allotted me; and a legacy of a thousand pounds was
added, which, though the purchase of an advowson was recommended, was
entrusted to my discretion, and when I should come of age left to my
own disposal. The will was then copied and signed, and the lawyer, at
the request of a dear and dying friend, was prevailed on to be joint
executor with my mother. This was the last legal act and deed of
the rector, for he died within a month; and with him died his few
friendships, his many enmities, and his destructive law-suits. His
spiritual flock was right glad that he was gone; and his funeral was
only attended by my mother, myself, the lawyer, the master and usher
of the grammar school, and a few visiting friends.

When the will was opened, I and my mother were necessarily present.
The rector had detailed the arguments which his friend had suggested:
he mentioned his fears of youthful folly, but spoke of me with
affection and hope, and seriously warned my mother, for my sake, to
beware of a second marriage; with which requisition she very solemnly
affirmed it was her determination to comply. I was young and high in
expectation; for Hugh the second was scarcely less sanguine of temper
than Hugh the first. Few people in the world, I was persuaded, were
possessed of such extraordinary abilities as myself. I had read, in a
thousand places, of the high rewards bestowed on men of learning, wit,
and genius; I was therefore eager to sally forth, convinced that I
need only be seen to be admired, and known to be employed. These ideas
were so familiar to my mind that I intreated my mother to lay no
restraint upon her inclinations, for I well knew how to provide for
myself: but she was wounded by the request, and begged I would not
kill her, by a supposition so cutting, so unaffectionate, and so
unamiable. The energy with which she expressed herself somewhat
surprized me: a kind of good humoured chearfulness, which resembled
indifference rather than sentiment, was the leading feature in my
mother's character. She was however on this occasion more sentimental,
because as I supposed more in earnest, than usual.


_Preparations for parting: A journey: More of education, or something
to be learned in a stage coach_

These solemn affairs being adjusted, and by the lapse of a few weeks
we the mourners more reconciled to our loss, it began to be necessary
for me to prepare for my removal to the university: for it was there
only, according to the wise laws of our wise fore-fathers (and who
will dare to suppose that our forefathers were foolish, or could make
foolish laws?) that a regular and incontestible induction can be
obtained to the holy ministry, of which I was ambitious.

It was determined I should enter of ****** college, Oxford; the same
at which Hector Mowbray had been admitted, and to which all the
scholars from the grammar school where I was educated repaired. But
there was a warm contest whether I should enter as a commoner, or a
gentleman commoner. My mother was eager for the latter, which the
lawyer opposed. She could not endure that her dear Hugh should, as it
were publicly, confess the superiority of his rival and sworn foe, the
insolent Hector. He contended that to affect to rival him in expence
were absurd, and might lead to destructive consequences. The lawyer
had the best of the argument, yet I was inclined to take part with my
mother. Inferiority was what I was little disposed to acknowledge;
I therefore consulted my friend the usher. Fortunately he had more
wisdom, and alledged some very convincing moral motives, which I too
much respected to disobey.

Previous to my departure, I endured much lecturing, which I considered
as exceedingly useless, and consequently little less than impertinent.
The lawyer reminded me of my youth, and warned me against the knavery
of mankind, who he affirmed are universally prone to prey upon one
another. This, miracles out of the question, must be the creed of a
lawyer. I had a better opinion of my fellow bipeds, of whom I yet knew
but little, and heard him with something like contempt. My mother
wearied me with intreaties to write to her at least once a week. She
should never be easy out of my sight, if she did not hear from me
frequently. The omission of a mail would throw her into the utmost
terrors: she should conclude I was sick, or dying, nay perhaps dead,
and she conjured me to respect her maternal feelings. I did respect
them, and promised all she required. She was desirous too that I
should continually be with her, during the vacations. The lawyer on
the contrary advised me to remain at college, and pursue my studies.

It will seem very unnatural to most mothers, and highly censurable to
many moralists, that the person whom I felt the greatest regret at
parting with was my instructor and friend, the usher. He was no less
affectionate. He too cautioned me against youthful confidence, and
hinted that men were not quite so good as they should be. I knew
him to be a little inclined to melancholy, and that he considered
himself as a neglected man, who had reason to complain of the world's
injustice. But, though the belief that this was true moved my
compassion, he did not convince me that men were constitutionally
inclined to evil. My own feelings loudly spoke the contrary. I had not
yet been initiated. I knew but little of those false wants by which
the mind of man is perverted. The credulity of youth can only be cured
by the experience of age: the prejudices of age can only be eradicated
by appealing to the feelings and facts of youth. Man becomes what the
mistaken institutions of society inevitably make him: his tendency is
to promote his own well being, and the well being of the creatures
around him; these can only be promoted by virtue; consequently, when
he is vicious it is from mistake, and his original sin is ignorance.

My books, clothes, and effects were forwarded to the next market town,
through which the coach that I was to travel in passed. That I might
meet it in time on Monday morning, it was necessary to set out the
evening before, and sleep at the inn. My mind was by no means free
from popular prejudices, when they were of a moral cast, and I was not
entirely satisfied at beginning my journey on a Sunday. I struggled
against the nonsense of ill omens, for I had read books in which they
were ridiculed; but I was not quite certain that the action was in
itself right. Things however were thus arranged, and my friends were
assembled to take leave of me. The lawyer's reiterated advice teased
me; my mother's tears gave me pain; but the pressure of the usher's
hand and his cordial 'God be with you!' went to my heart. However,
the sun shone, the month was May, the grass was green, the birds were
singing, my hopes were mantling, and my cares were soon forgotten. I
seemed to look back on my past existence as on a kind of imprisonment;
and my spirits fluttered, as if just set free to wander through a
world of unknown delights.

Fortune was disposed to favour the delusive vision; for at the inn
on the morrow, being roused from a sound sleep to pursue my journey,
after stepping into the coach, I found myself seated opposite to the
handsomest sweetest young lady I had ever beheld. I except Olivia; but
her I had only known as it were a child, and I looked back on those
as on childish days. The lovely creature was clothed in a sky-blue
riding-habit with embroidered button-holes, and a green hat and
feather, with suitable decorations. She had a delicate twisted
cane-whip in her hand, a nosegay in her bosom, and a purple cestus
round her waist. There were beside two gentlemen in the coach,
genteelly dressed; and they all appeared to know each other.

The young lady spoke to every body, without the least reserve or
pride, which did but increase the good opinion I had conceived of her.
The gentlemen likewise were easy and familiar; and, in spite of my
friend the lawyer, I already plainly perceived the world was a very
good humoured polite and pleasant world. The young lady was peculiarly
attentive and kind to me, and, I being but _a raw traveller_, insisted
that the gentleman next her should change places with me, that I might
sit with my face toward the horses, lest I should be sick by riding
backward. At this however my manly pride revolted, and I obstinately
kept my seat, notwithstanding her very obliging intreaties. The phrase
_raw traveller_ I did not think quite so politely and happily chosen
as the rest; but then it fell from such a pair of modest lips, that it
was impossible to conceive offence.

After a pleasant ride of three hours, we arrived at the breakfasting
place. The coach door was opened, and I, not waiting for the steps,
leaped out like a young grey-hound. The lady seemed half inclined to
follow me, but was timid. I placed myself properly, promised to catch
her, and she sprang into my arms. Suddenly recollecting herself, she
exclaimed,--'What a wild creature I am!' and ran away, hiding her
face with her hands. I blamed myself for having been too forward,
and inwardly applauded her quick sense of propriety. The gentlemen
laughed, walked into the breakfasting-room, and invited me to follow

In about ten minutes, the young lady entered with apologies, and
hoping we knew the rules of travelling too well to wait. She seemed
improved in beauty. There was a kind of bloom spread over her
countenance, contrasted with a delicate pearl white, such as I had
never seen in the finest cherry cheeks of our village maidens. 'It is
the blush at the little incident of leaping from the coach', said I to
myself, 'that has thus improved her complexion.' She sat down to the
table, and, with the kindness that seemed native to her, poured out
my tea, sugared and creamed it just to my taste, and handed it to me
with sweetness that was quite seducing. I knew not how to return or to
merit her favours, and the attempt made me mawkishly sentimental. 'It
is delightful', said I, 'when amiable people live together in happy
society.' 'It is indeed,' said she, and her bosom appeared gently to

Our feelings seemed to vibrate in unison, but they were disturbed by
a sudden burst of coughing of one of the gentlemen, drinking his tea;
and were not much harmonized by a fit of laughing with which the other
was seized, who told his companion he was a _droll dog_. But what the
drollery could be, of a man choaked with swallowing too hastily, was
more than I could comprehend. The appellation of _droll dog_ however
was repeated, till the two gentlemen could appease their titillation.
I own I thought it a little rude; but they seemed neither of them so
well-bred as the lady, and I concluded they could be nothing more
than travelling acquaintance. I even supposed I saw them wink at
each other, as if there had been something strange or improper in my

I then thought it quite necessary to let them know who I was.
Accordingly I took an opportunity of succintly telling them whence
I came, where I was going, who my relations were, and what my
expectations. I let them understand that I had money in my purse, and
gave broad hints that I was neither fool nor coward. They were quite
civil, but still their looks to each other seemed very significant,
and to have more meaning than I knew how to develope. I was a little
piqued, but comforted myself with the assurance that I should show
them their mistake, if they conjectured any thing to my disadvantage.

Breakfast over, we returned to the coach, and, after handing the young
lady, I stepped in as lightly as I had stepped out. She again insisted
I should not ride backward, and I for my former reason refused to
change my place, till one of those abrupt gentlemen exclaimed.--'What,
my young buck, are you afraid of a petticoat?' 'Oh fie!' said the
young lady.

Rouzed by this insulting supposition, and despising every kind of
cowardice, I immediately crossed over and took my seat by her side.
'Men fellows are very rude horse-godmother kind of creatures,' said
the young lady.--The colour flushed in my face.--'Men fellows?
Horse-godmother?' It was strange! I was more than half afraid she
meant me.--'Not all of them I hope,' said I, as soon as I could
recollect myself--'No, not all of them,' answered the young lady, with
a gentle smile, and a glance that I thought had meaning.

My flow of spirits being somewhat checked by the behaviour of the
gentlemen, I sat silent, and they fell into conversation; by which
I learned that one of them was a gentleman of great fortune in
Wales, and the other a captain in the army, and that they were well
acquainted with London, Dublin, Bath, Brighthelmstone, and all places
of fashionable resort. The young lady too had not only been at each of
them, but had visited Paris, and mentioned many persons of quality,
with whom, as it appeared from her discourse, she was quite familiar.
It was evident, from all she said, that she knew how to distinguish
the well bred and the polite. She was immensely shocked at any
thing that was ungenteel _and low_: it was prodigiously horrid. The
whole discourse indeed convinced me that they were all people of
consequence; and that my supposition of ill breeding on the part of
the gentlemen must have been hasty.

One thing however surprised me, and particularly drew my attention.
I valued myself on my knowledge of languages, and the quickness of
my ear; yet, though they continually spoke English, they introduced
occasional words and phrases which to me were wholly unintelligible.
One especially of these phrases seemed so strange that I repeated
it to myself again and again. It was--_The kinchin will bite the
bubble_--I pondered, and fifty times questioned--'Who is _the
kinchin_? What is _bite the bubble_? I But in vain: it was

We did not stop to dine till between four and five o'clock, and then
the young lady at alighting was more circumspect. She having retired,
the gentlemen asked me if I would take a turn to the river side,
at the back of the inn; and I, to shew that I now understood their
characters better, willingly complied. As I was following them, the
landlord, who had attended while we were alighting, plucked me by the
skirt, and looking significantly after my companions whispered--'Take
care of yourself, young gentleman!' then hastily brushed by. The first
moment I thought it strange; the second I exclaimed to myself--'Ah,
ha! I guessed how it was: I soon found them out! But, if they have any
tricks to play, they shall find I am as cunning as they. The landlord
need not have cautioned me; I am not so easily caught.'

Thus fortified, I proceeded boldly; and we had not walked two hundred
yards before one of them who had stepped forward, stooped and picked
up a piece of paper, which he instantly began to read. 'S'death!'
exclaimed he, as we approached, 'here is a bill, at three days sight,
for fifteen guineas; drawn on Fairlamb and Company, bankers at Oxford.
You are acquainted with country bills, captain,' said he, presenting
it to his companion: 'do you think it a good one?' His companion
took it, examined it, upside and down, to the light and from it, and
replied--'As good as the bank! But we must share?' 'To be sure we
must,' said the finder. 'Why should you doubt it? 'Tis a trifle; five
guineas a piece; but it will serve to pay travelling expences.'

They laughed, and I was staggered at this honourable and generous
conduct. I have proceeded too hastily, thought I; and the landlord
is own cousin to our lawyer; he thinks every man a rogue. Their
liberality is proof sufficient in their favour.--'Come, give us our
five guineas a piece,' said the gentleman of Wales to the captain--'I
have no ready cash,' answered he. 'I never chuse, when I am
travelling, to have more money in my pocket than barely enough for
expences.'--'That is exactly my case,' replied the Welsh gentleman.
'But perhaps our young friend may be less cautious, and may have
loose cash sufficient.'--'I had twelve guineas,' said I, 'when I left
home.'--'Oh, that will just do,' answered the captain. 'We turn off
to-morrow morning for Cirencester; you are going to Oxford, otherwise
our luck would have been lost upon us, for we would not have gone a
mile out of our road for such a trifle.'

My hand was in my pocket, and the guineas were between my fingers,
when my heart smote me. The landlord's significant 'Take care of
yourself young gentleman!' my own sagacious conjectures when he gave
me this warning, and their strange phrase of _bite the bubble_, all
rose to my recollection. They shall not make a tool and a jest of me,
said I to myself.

The gentleman of Wales seeing me hesitate, jogged me by the elbow, and
said--'Come, come; we must dispatch: dinner is on the table by this
time, and the coach will not wait a minute.'--'Those who think me a
fool,' replied I, with something of indignation in my countenance,
'will find themselves deceived'--'What do you mean by that, Sir,'
retorted the captain--'Strange language, for a gentleman!'

I stopped a moment: my conscience smote me. If I should mistake the
character of these gentlemen, thought I, my behaviour will appear
contemptible--'Do you mean to insult us?' said the gentleman of
Wales.--The captain once more saw my hand in my pocket: I caught
his eye; he winked to his companion and said, 'No, no; the young
gentleman knows better.'--'Yes,' answered I, instantly fired; 'I
know better than to give my money to sharpers'--'Sharpers!' retorted
one--'Sharpers!' re-echoed the other, and began mutually to hustle
me--My valour was roused: I faced about, with the first blow laid the
gentleman of Wales sprawling, and with the second made the captain's
eyes strike fire. The attack was infinitely more vigorous and powerful
than they could have expected. The Welsh gentleman shook his ears;
the captain clapped his white handkerchief to his eyes. They swore
a few oaths in concert, but neither of them seemed desirous to
continue the combat. Such an attack from a stripling was quite out of
all calculation. If however I could guess their motives from their
manner, they were rather those of caution than of cowardice. Be that
as it will, I could better deal out hard blows than utter coarse
expressions, and I left them with a look of contempt.

Entering the dinner room, I found the young lady and told her the
story. She was all astonishment! Could not believe her ears! Was never
so deceived in her life! Was immensely glad that she now knew her
company! She had seen them at Bath, and had imagined them to be, as
they professed themselves, gentlemen: but people do not know who and
who are together at such public places! She was sorry to ride in the
same carriage with them; but dine with them she would not. I asked if
I might be permitted that honour; and she readily replied, 'Certainly,
Sir: you are a gentleman.'

Proud to be thus distinguished, after dinner, I insisted on paying the
bill, and she still more strenuously insisted I should not. She pulled
out her purse, which seemed well filled, and put down her quota, which
no entreaties could prevail on her to take back. It was her rule.

The horses being ready, we were summoned to our seats, which we took
in pairs: the gentleman of Wales and the captain sitting in sullen
silence, and the young lady not deigning to address a word to them.

At night we again paired off, and I was admitted to be her companion
at supper; she continuing to treat me, since their detection, with a
marked partiality.

Supper being over and the lady, unfortunately as she said for her,
being to travel the Cirencester road with those odious sharpers, I was
again exceedingly desirous to shew some trifling mark of respect, by
discharging the bill; which she again peremptorily refused to accept.
Unluckily however, going to draw her purse as before, she could not
find it!--'It was exceedingly strange!--Infinitely distressing! What
could have become of it? Thirty guineas were but a trifle, but to
lose them at such a moment was very tormenting!'--She felt again,
and having no better success her features assumed a very dismal and
tragical cast.

None but a heart of stone could endure, unmoved, the anxiety and
distress of so kind, so amiable, and so lovely a creature. I took my
eleven guineas, my whole store except a few shillings, told her it was
all I had, but intreated she would not put me to the pain of refusing
the little supply I had to afford.

She thanked me infinitely; recollected she had left her purse when
she retired after dinner to comb up her dishevelled hair, having
taken it out with the comb and totally forgotten it; repeated that
she was proceeding to London, for which a single guinea would perhaps
be sufficient; but unfortunately she was obliged to pass through
Cirencester, having a poor relation there, that was sick and in
absolute want, and to whom she had promised an immediate relief of ten
guineas, with an intention of further support. However she could not
think of accepting my offer: it had so strange an appearance! And
she would rather suffer any thing than forfeit the good opinion of
a gentleman: especially after having conversed with those good for
nothing men as if acquainted with them, but of whom she knew nothing,
and had therefore supposed no harm.

The debate was long, and managed on both sides with almost equal
ardour. At length however I prevailed on her to take ten of the eleven
guineas; but not till she had given me a draft on her banker, Signed
Harriet Palmer, which she assured me would be honoured the instant it
should be presented. I took it to satisfy her scruples, but I had read
the old romances, and too well understood the gallantry due from a
gentleman to a lady, to think of putting it to the use she intended.
I lingered and knew not how to take leave; but the coach would only
allow her three hours repose, I therefore reluctantly bade her good
night, and we parted with mutual admiration; hoping for some fortunate
opportunity of renewing our acquaintance.


_Morning thoughts: Conjectures and expectations. A specimen of Oxford
manners, being another new lesson_

Left by myself on the morrow, and revolving in my mind the events of
the preceding day, I had occasional doubts, which had I suffered them
to prevail, would have been exceedingly mortifying. The young lady
was certainly a beautiful lady: was modest too, and well bred. I had
seen nothing to impeach her virtue: on the contrary, it had been the
principal topic of our discourse. 'Tis true I had, as became me,
been too respectful to put her chastity to any proof. I was not so
discourteous a knight.

But then, that she should have been so intimate as she appeared to be
with those gentlemen sharpers, that she should be going the same road,
that she should lose her purse in so odd a manner, and that she should
accept my ten guineas, were circumstances that dwelt irksomely upon
my mind. Yet it was totally improbable that so sweet a young creature
should be trammeled in vice. What! be the companion of such men,
relate a string of falsehoods, give a forged draft on a banker, and
even shed tears at distress which, if it were not real, was a most
base and odious artifice? That she could act so cunning and so vile
a part, and I not detect her, was wholly incredible. I was very
unwilling to imagine I could be so imposed upon, so duped. _A raw
traveller_? If so, raw indeed! Of all suppositions, that was the most
humiliating. I endeavoured but in vain to banish suspicion. In fine,
whatever might be the cause, which I could not very well develope, I
found the soliloquies of the morning by no means so fascinating as the
visions of the preceding evening.

Wearied of this subject, I turned my thoughts into a new channel, and
endeavoured to conjecture what Oxford was, and what kind of people
were its inhabitants. I had heard it described, and remembered the
leading features; its expansive streets, aspiring turrets, noble
buildings, and delightful walks. The picture rose to magnificence; but
the wisdom learning and virtue of its sages, and their pupils, were
still more sublime. High minded and noble youths, thirsting after
knowledge, assembled under the auspices of philosophers whose science
was profound, and whose morals were pure. The whole fabric rising
in beautiful order: under-graduates, bachelors, masters, doctors,
professors, presidents, heads of colleges, high stewards, and
chancellors, each excelling the other in worth as in dignity! Their
manners engaging, their actions unblemished, and their lives spent
in the delightful regions of learning and truth. It must be the city
of angels, and I was hastening to reside among the blest! A band of
seers, living in fraternity, governed by one universal spirit of
benevolence, harmonized by one vibrating system of goodness celestial!
Among such beings evil and foolish men could find no admittance, for
they could find no society.

Theology too would here be seen in all her splendour; active energetic
and consolatory; not disturbed by doubt, not disgraced by acrimony,
not slumbering in sloth, not bloated with pride, not dogmatical, not
intolerant, not rancorous, not persecuting, not inquisitorial; but
diffusing her mild yet clear and penetrating beams through the soul,
where all could not but be light and life and love!--Oh Oxford, said
I, thou art the seat of the muses, thou art the nurse of wisdom, thou
art the mother of virtue!--I own my expectations were high.

My reveries concerning my old companion, Hector, were in the same
tone. I had heard that he had often been down at Mowbray Hall, during
vacation time; but the mutual interdiction of our families had
prevented our meeting. He cannot but be greatly altered, said I. It is
impossible he should have remained so long in this noble seminary, and
continue the same selfish, sensual, and half-brutal Hector Mowbray,
whom formerly I knew. I regretted our quarrel: he might now have
become an agreeable companion, perhaps a friend. Olivia, too?--She
had a sister's partiality for him before; she might now love him
infinitely, and justly.

While I sat ruminating, the coach continued rolling onward over hill
and dale, passing house, hedge row and heath, till the towers and
turrets of Oxford came in view. My heart bounded at the sight, and
active fancy industriously continued her fictions. We entered the city
and drove clattering along to one of the principal inns.

The moment the coachman pulled up, I stepped out of the carriage and
into the street. It was the eve of a new term; the gownsmen were
swarming, carriages and horsemen post haste were arriving, the bells
were ringing, waiters and footmen were hurrying to and fro, and all
was dazzle, all was life. Eager to mingle in the scene, I walked up
and down the high street, saw college after college, hall after hall,
and church after church. The arches the pillars the quadrangles rose
in incessant and astonishing succession. My eyes turned from building
to building, gazing with avidity, adding wonder to wonder, and filling
the mind with rapture. 'It is all that I had imagined,' said I, 'and
much much more! Happy city, happy people, and happy I, that am come to
be one among you! Now and now only I begin to live.'

Fearful of bewildering myself in this fairy land, I turned back to the
inn, but continued gazing with new amazement at every step. Just as I
came to the gate, I heard the galloping of horses behind me, looked
round, and there most unexpectedly saw Hector Mowbray, pulling up his
horse, with two livery servants, three grey-hounds, and a brace of
pointers at his heels! He had new boots, buckskin breeches, a buff
waist-coat, a scarlet coat with a green collar, and a gold button
and loop, tassel, and hat-band. I was within a yard of him when he
alighted. 'Bless me,' said I, 'Mr. Mowbray?'--'G---- d---- my blood!
Trevor! Is it you?'

The apostrophe startled me.

Hector gave three loud cracks with his whip, whistled his dogs, and
with a Stentor voice called after one of his servants--'Why holloa!
You blind blood of a w----! Why Sam! G---- shiver your soul, what are
you about? Uncouple Jerry Sneak and Jowler, and give limping Jenny's
ear a 'nointing--D---- my body, Trevor, I'm glad to see you! When did
you arrive? How did you come? In stile; a chaise and four; smoking the
road; raising a mist?'--I was ashamed of my stage-coach vehicle and
was silent.--'What, my buck, are you to be one of us?'--'I am'--'D----
my b---- that's right--Jack Singleton! Jack! G---- blunder your body!
Why don't you answer, you shamble shanked beggar's baby? Go to the
Bursar, and tell him to send supper for six and claret for sixteen;
served up to a minute. Do you hear?--D---- my body, I'm glad to see
you! We'll make a night ont! What, are you come to enter at our
college?'--'Yes'--'D---- my soul, I'm glad ont! D----n me, our college
will be the go! D----n me, we are a rare string already! D----n me, we
shall beat them all hollow, D----n me, now you're come, d----n me: we
shall, d----n me!--Holloa! Sam! Run, you blood of a w----! yonder's
Lord Sad-dog turning the corner in his phæton, four in hand: scamper
away and tell him, d----n me, he must sup with me to night. Tell him
by G---- he must; he and the jolly dog his tutor. Tell him we have
a new comer, a friend, a freshman, piping hot, d----n me, from our
village; and that we must make him free of Oxford to night, d----n me.
Do you hear?'

Astound, breathless, thunder-struck, at this intolerable profaneness,
I stood like an idiot, unable to speak or think. Hector took hold
of my arm and dragged me along. I obeyed, for I was insensible,
soul-less; and even when the return of thought came, it was all
confusion. Was this Oxford? Were these its manners? Were such its
inhabitants? Oaths twenty in a breath, unmeaning vulgar oaths;
ribaldry, such as till that hour I had never heard!

What could I do? I was a stranger. Were they all equally depraved, and
equally contemptible?--That, said I to myself, is what I wish to know,
and I suffered him to lead me wherever he pleased.

He took me to inns coffee-houses and halls, to call on one companion
and _beat up_ for another. I saw the buildings; the architecture
doubtless was the same, but the scene was changed! The beauties of
Oxford were vanished! I was awakened from the most delightful of
dreams to a disgusting reality, and would have given kingdoms to have
once more renewed my trance. The friends of Hector, though not all
of them his equals in turbulence profaneness and folly, were of the
same school. Their language, though less coarse, was equally insipid.
Their manners, when not so obtrusive, were more bald. They all cursed
blustered and behaved with insolence in proportion to the money
they spent, or the time they had been at the university. The chief
difference was that those who were less rich and less hardened than he
had less spirit: that is, had less noise, nonsense and swagger. But,
though the scene was not what I expected, it was new, and in a certain
sense enlivening, and my flowing spirits were soon at their accustomed

The president had been written to and I was expected at college,
where, when we came and my arrival was announced, I found an apartment
prepared for my reception. Passing through the common room, I saw a
face which I thought I recollected. 'Is not that Turl?' said I to
Hector--'Pshaw, d----n me, take no notice of such a _raff_,' replied
he, and stalked away. I was too ignorant of college cant, at that
time, to know that _raff_ was the term of contempt for poverty.

As we passed through the quadrangle, the president, entering the gate,
saw Hector in his scarlet green and gold, and without his gown and
cap, and beckoned to him. Hector, to evade as I afterward learned
what he expected, introduced me. The president eyed me for a moment,
received me graciously, and desired me to call on him in the morning.
He then asked Mowbray why he left his chamber in that dress, and
without his gown? Hector answered he had only arrived the day before,
had been to take a ride, and had mislaid his cap, which was not to be
found; but he had a new one coming home in the morning. The president,
after saying--'Well, Sir, I request I may not meet you in this
manner again,' passed on. The story of the cap mislaid was a direct
falsehood: the old and new cap were both in his chamber, for he had
been trying them on and asking me which looked the best. Hector winked
his eye, lolled his tongue, and said to me--'That's the way, d----n
me, to hum the old ones.'

Supper time presently came, and Hector and his companions were
assembled. Beside Lord Sad-dog and his tutor, there was a senior
fellow, and a master of arts, all of our college and all of them the
prime bucks of the place. My late high expectations of learning and
virtue were entirely forgotten. There was novelty in every word they
uttered; and I listened to their conversation with the most attentive
ardour. Nor did I feel astonishment to hear that dogs, horses,
gluttony, drunkenness, and debauchery were the grand blessings of
life: Hector had prepared me to hear any thing with but little
surprise. The Lord and the Squire gloried in braving and breaking the
statutes of the college and the university; the tutor, fellow, and
master of arts in eluding them. The history they gave of themselves
was, that the former could ride, drive, swear, kick scoundrels, bilk
prostitutes, commit adultery, and breed riots: the latter could cant,
lie, act the hypocrite, hum the proctors, and protect their companions
in debauchery: in gluttony drunkenness and libidinous thoughts they
were all avowed rivals.

Hector descending to trifling vices, vaunted of having been five
times in one week _imposed_ (that is, reprimanded by set tasks)
for having neglected lectures and prayers, and worn scarlet, green
and gold; while the more heroic Lord Sad-dog told how he had been
twice privately _rusticated_, for an amour with the bar-maid of a
coffee-house whom he dared the vice-chancellor himself to banish
the city. Fearful of being surpassed, they exaggerated their own
wickedness and often imputed crimes to themselves which they had
neither the opportunity nor the courage to commit.

That I might appear worthy of the choice group among whom I was
admitted, Hector, by relating in a distorted manner things that had
happened, but attributing to me such motives as he imagined he should
have been actuated by had he been the agent, told various falsehoods
of my exploits. I had too great a mixture of sheepishness and vanity
to contradict him in such honourable society, and therefore accepted
praise at which I ought to have blushed.

During supper, while they were all gormandizing and encouraging me to
do the same, his lordship, addressing his tutor, asked--'D----n me,
Jack, can you tell me why it was I took you into my pay? What the
d--mn--t----n are you good for?'--'Tell you? To be sure I can! You
will not pretend that, when you first came under my tuition, you
were the man you now are? Who taught you to laugh at doctors, bully
proctors, stare the vice chancellor out of countenance, and parade the
streets of a Sunday in sermon time but I?'--'You!'--'Yes! I!'--'D----n
my body, well said, Jack!' roared Hector. 'D----n me you are a good
one! Go it! Keep it up! D----n me go it!' The tutor continued--'

Of whom did you learn to scout the gownsmen, cudgel the townsmen, kiss
their wives, frighten their daughters, and debauch their maids but I?
You were a mere tyro when I took you in hand; you did not so much as
know how to throw in a knock down blow!'--'Why you lying son of a

I must not repeat his lordship's reply, or the continuation of the
dialogue; it was too gross to be read or written. I only intend
the above as a short specimen of what lords' private tutors at
universities sometimes are, and of the learning which their pupils
sometimes acquire.

While at supper, I was continually plied to drink; each pledging me in
turn; their intention being, as Hector had declared, to make me free:
that is, as drunk as possible. I had not the courage to incur their
ridicule by refusing my glass. Beside my spirits were raised, and my
appetite, which travelling had increased, was good. My constitution
too was strong; for it had been confirmed by exercise and a cheerful
mind, and never injured by excess. For these reasons I stood their
attacks far beyond their expectation, and my manhood received no
little applause.

The night advanced, and they grew riotous. The lord and his tutor were
for _sporting the door of a glum_: that is, breaking into the chamber
of a gownsman who loves study. Hector vociferously seconded the
motion, but the fellow and the master of arts cunningly endeavoured to
keep them quiet, first by persuasion, and, when that was ineffectual,
by affirming the students they proposed to attack _sported oak_: in
plain English, barred up their doors. Had they been without the walls
of the college, there would have been a riot; but, having no other
ventilator for their magnanimity, they fell with redoubled fury to
drinking, and the jolly tutor proposed a rummer round--'D----n me,'
said Hector, 'that's a famous thought! But you are a famous deep one,
d----n me!'

The rummers were seized, the wine poured out, and his lordship began
with--'D--mn--t----n to the flincher.' Who should that be? I,
the freshman? Oh, no! For that night, I was too far gone in good

This was the finishing blow to three of us. Hector fell on the floor;
his lordship sunk in his chair; and I, after a hurrah and a hiccup,
began to _cast the cat_: an Oxford phrase for what usually happens to
a man after taking an emetic. Happily I had not far to go, and the
fellow and the master of arts had just sense enough left to help me
to my chamber, where at day light next morning I found myself, on the
hearth, with my head resting against the fender, the pain of which
awakened me.


_Morning reflections: The advice of a youth and the caution of a grave
senior: Another rencontre_

Discovering myself in this condition, recollecting the scene in
which I had so lately been an actor, and feeling my stomach and head
disordered and my whole frame burning with the debauch, looking round
too and seeing myself in a room where every object reminded me that
I was a stranger, and that the eyes of many strangers were upon me
and my conduct, I found but little cause of satisfaction, either in
myself, the acquaintance I had made, or the place to which I had come.

The more I reflected the more was my mind disturbed. I walked
about the chamber unable to rid myself either of my sickly qualms,
the feverish distemper of my blood, or the still more fevered
distemperature of my mind. It was a violent but I suspect it was a
useful lesson. After a while, cold water, washing, cleaning, and
shifting my dress, gave me a little relief.

The air I thought would be refreshing; but, as I opened the door to
descend the stairs, Turl was passing, and very kindly inquired after
my health, said he was happy to see me, and asked if I were come to
enter myself at the college. Neglecting, or rather at that moment
despising, Hector and his caution, I answered in the same tone and
invited him into my room.

Too much ashamed to avow the debauch of which I had been guilty, or
the painful feelings that were the result, I endeavoured by questions
to gain the information which might best appease my roused curiosity.
'I am but just arrived,' said I: 'will you be kind enough to give me
such intelligence as may aid me to regulate my conduct? What I have
hitherto seen has rather surprized and even disappointed me. I hoped
for perfection which I begin to doubt I shall not find. What are the
manners of the place?'--'Such as must be expected from a multitude of
youths, who are ashamed to be thought boys, and who do not know how
to behave like men.'--'But are there not people appointed to teach
them?--'No.'--'What is the office of the proctors, heads of houses,
deans, and other superintendants, of whom I have heard?'--'To watch
and regulate the tufts of caps, the tying of bands, the stuff and
tassels of which gowns are made: to reprimand those who wear red,
or green, and to take care that the gownsmen assemble, at proper
hours, to hear prayers gabbled over as fast as tongue can give them
utterance, or lectures at which both reader and hearers fall asleep.'
'What are the public rewards for proficiency in learning?'--'Few, or
in reality none.'--'Beside numerous offices, are not exhibitions,
fellowships, professors' chairs, and presentations bestowed?'--'Yes,
on those who have municipal or political influence; or who by
servility and effrontery can court patronage.'--'Surely you have some
men of worth and genius, who meet their due reward?'--'Few; very few,
indeed. Sloth, inanity, and bloated pride are here too often the
characteristics of office. Fastidiousness is virtue, and to keep the
poor and unprotected in awe a duty. The rich indeed are indulged in
all the licentious liberties they can desire.'--'Why do so many young
men of family resort hither?'--'Some to get what is to be given away;
others are sent by their parents, who imagine the place to be the
reverse of what it is; and a third set, intended for the church, are
obliged to go to a university before they can be admitted into holy
orders.'--'That rule I have heard is not absolute.'--'It is supposed
here to be little less.'--'Then you would not advise a young person
to come to this city to complete his education?'--'If he possess
extraordinary fortitude and virtue, yes: if not, I would have him
avoid Oxford as he would contagion.'--'What are its advantages, to the
former?'--'Leisure, books, and learned men; and the last benefit would
be the greatest, were it not publicly discountenanced by the arrogant
distance which both the statutes of the university and the practice of
the graduates and dignitaries prescribe. In my opinion, it has another
paradoxical kind of advantage: to a mind properly prepared, the very
vice of the place, by shewing how hateful it is, must be healthful.
Insolence, haughtiness, sloth, and sensuality, daily exhibited, if
truly seen, cannot but excite contempt.'--'You seem to have profited
by the lesson.'--'Oh! there is but little merit in my forbearance.
I am poor, and have not the means. I am a servitor and despised, or
overlooked. Those are most exposed to danger who have most money
and most credit; I have neither.' Charmed with his candour, our
conversation continued: he directed me in the college modes, and
I sent to the Bursar, and prevailed on Turl to breakfast with me.
I understood that he had obtained an exhibition, but that, having
expressed his thoughts too freely on certain speculative points, he
had incurred the disapprobation of his seniors, who considered it as
exceedingly impertinent in any man to differ with them in opinion, and
especially in such a youth.

It was now time I should visit the president, and we parted. This
college magistrate had formerly been acquainted with my grandfather,
and I had strong recommendations to him from my native village: he
therefore laid aside much of his dignity, and questioned me on various
subjects. He took but little notice of the reading and knowledge I
was ambitious to display, but gave me much advice and instruction,
concerning the college and university discipline, necessary to be
observed, which he very seriously admonished me not to neglect.

I endeavoured to find what his opinion concerning Hector Mowbray was,
and the lord to whom I had been introduced; but this he evaded, with a
caution to me however not to indulge in any imprudent expence.

I then mentioned the name of Turl, at which he seemed instantly
alarmed, and replied, 'he should be exceedingly sorry if Mr. Turl
were one of my acquaintance. He was a very dangerous young man, and
had dared not only to entertain but to make known some very heterodox
opinions. He had even proceeded so far as to declare himself an
anti-trinitarian, and should therefore certainly never receive his
countenance; neither he nor any of his connections. If he escaped
expulsion, he would assuredly never obtain his degrees.' I was too
orthodox myself not to be startled at this intelligence, and felt a
very severe pang that a young man, from whose conversation I had hoped
so much, should hold such reprobate doctrines. I had thought he would
prove both an instructive and pleasant companion, but I now positively
determined to shun his society. Of this I informed the president, and
he highly applauded my resolution.

I then proceeded to the ceremony of entering myself of the college,
and took the oaths: that is, I subscribed to the thirty-nine articles,
took an oath of allegiance and supremacy, an oath to observe the
statutes of the university, and another to obey every thing that was
contained in a certain huge statute book of the college, brought
out on this occasion, which I never saw either before or since. To
this hour, what its contents were is a thing to me unknown. What is
still more strange, the very persons who oblige you to take these
statute-book oaths publickly confess that to obey most of them is
impossible. They relate to obsolete customs, the very means of
practising which are wanting. Some for example swear to have mass said
for the soul of the founder of the college; and others, though men of
good estates, swear themselves not worth five pounds per annum. Of
these particulars however I was ignorant, and the whole was hurried
over so much in the way of form, and without inquiry of any kind,
that it seemed like the mere dictate of good manners to do what I was

Warned by the information which Turl had communicated, and disgusted
by what I myself had seen and partaken of, I industriously for
sometime avoided Hector Mowbray, who as it happened was too much
engaged in his own pursuits to molest me. In about three weeks however
he came to me one morning, rallied me in his coarse way, asked if I
had entered myself of the glums, and insisted that I should go with
him and take a ride to Abingdon. The chaise would be ready in half an
hour, and he would introduce me to the finest girl in all England.
Thinking his language equivocal and suspecting his intentions, I
ventured to ask if she were a modest woman? He burst into a loud
laugh and exclaimed (I shall omit his oaths) 'Modest! to be sure!
as modest as any of her sex.' This did not satisfy me; I continued
to interrogate and he to laugh, but still swearing there was not a
modester woman in all England. A strong inclination to take exercise,
my own active curiosity, and the boisterous bawling and obstinacy of
Hector at length prevailed, and I yielded. I walked with him to the
inn, the chaise was ready, and we stepped into it and galloped away.

As we were driving on, the image of the gentle Olivia rose to my
recollection. Instantly the thought struck me, 'If it should be!
Why not? Who else could it be? Oh, it must! Yes, yes!' I was soon
convinced it could be no other than Olivia! the dear the divine

In less than forty minutes we were at Abingdon, and the postillion by
Hector's direction drove us on the back of the town till we came to a
neat newly painted house, at which he was ordered to stop. My heart
began to beat. Hector jumped out and thundered at the door. A female
threw up the sash, looked through the window, and instantly drew it
down again. Alas! it was not Olivia.

There was some delay: the impatient Hector cursed and knocked again,
and in a little while the door was opened.

Hector entered swearing, hurried up stairs, bad me follow him, dashed
open the door, and a young lady, _in a sky-blue riding-habit_, _with
embroidered button-holes, a nosegay in her bosom, and a purple cestus
round her waist--leaped into his arms_!--I stood in a trance! It was
she herself! That sweet lovely creature, who had lost her purse, given
a draft on her banker, and gone to relieve a poor sick relation at
Cirencester! It was the true and identical Harriet Palmer! She that
had been so attentive to me; had sugared my tea, suffered me to sup
in her company, and been so fearful lest I should be sick by riding
backward! The innocent soul, that had felt her delicacy so much
disturbed by the horse-godmother rudeness of the men-fellows!--'Bless
me!' said I.

She had not time to attend to me. 'What the d--mn--t----n is
the matter?' said Hector. 'Why was not I let in? Who have you
here?'--'Here!' answered the sweet creature. 'How can you suppose I
have any body here?'

There was a watch studded with diamonds lying on the sofa; it caught
the eye of Mowbray; he snatched it up, and with a volley of oaths
asked--'Whose watch is this?'--'Mine!' said Harriet. Hector looked
again. 'Yours? Set with diamonds? A man's gold chain? Here's the seal
of Lord Sad-dog! His arms engraved on it! I thought I saw one of his
fellows, as we turned the corner!'

There was another door, to an inner chamber; to that Hector, with all
his force, applied his foot. A loud laugh was heard within, the door
opened, and out came Lord Sad-dog in _propria persona_.

Miss Palmer, not knowing what better to do, joined his lordship in
the forced laugh. The surly Hector shewed every propensity to brutal
revenge, but had only the courage to bully; in which art the lord and
the lady soon shewed they were as great proficients as himself.

As for the feelings of the blooming Harriet and me, they were
reciprocal; we were equally averse to acknowledge each other for
acquaintance. I did not wish to be proclaimed the dupe of a courtezan,
nor she to pay back the ten guineas, or be sued for a fraud. Hector
was in no humour to stay, and we soon returned to Oxford; I ruminating
and even laughing, now at myself, now at him; he in high dudgeon, and
finding his choler and his courage increase in proportion as he was
driven farther from danger.


_Education still progressive: A widow's continence: Religious fervour:
A methodist sermon: Olivia in danger: Love dreams: Fanatic horrors:
Present disgrace, and honours delayed_

During the short period of my absence from my native home, I had been
taught two additional and essential lessons: the first, that men are
not all as good as they might be; and the second, that I was not quite
so wise as I had supposed myself. Having once been duped, the thought
occurred that it was possible I might be duped again, and I thus
acquired some small degree of what is called worldly caution. At once
to display one vice and teach another, to expose fraud and inspire
suspicion, is, to an unadulterated mind, a severe and odious lesson;
and, when repeated too often, is in danger of inculcating a mistake
infinitely more pernicious than that of credulity; that is, a
conviction that man is depraved by nature, and a total forgetfulness
that he is merely the creature of habit and accident.

Hitherto I had met disappointment; but I had found novelty; and though
it was not the novelty I expected, yet it was invigorating: it kept
me awake. The qualities for which I most valued myself no one indeed
seemed to notice. But the world was before me; I had seen but little
of it; my own feelings assured me genius and virtue had a real
existence, and sometime or another I should find them.

Among consolatory thoughts, the most animating was the recollection
of what Turl had said, that, to the possessor of fortitude and
virtue, Oxford was a place where study might be most advantageously
prosecuted; and, aided by this cheering hope, I applied myself to
books with courage and assiduity.

On the subject of reading however my mind had strong contentions with
itself: poetry, and the _belles lettres_, Homer, Horace, Virgil,
Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton, Dryden, Tasso, Ariosto, Racine, Molière,
Congreve, with a long and countless _et cætera_, were continually
tempting me to quit the barren pursuits of divinity and law, for
the study of which I had come to Oxford. Yet a sense of duty so far
prevailed that I went through a course of the fathers, pored over
the canonists, and made many resolute attacks upon the schoolmen.
Not only Aristotle but his doctors, the irrefragable, the angelic
or eagle-eyed, the subtile, the illuminated, and many more had
their peaceful folios vainly disturbed by my researches, and
my determination to understand what, alas, in its essence was

In the very beginning as it were of these labours an event took place,
which gave a very serious aspect to my future fortunes, though, except
the first emotions of regret chagrin and surprise at my mother's
conduct, no present uneasiness to me. In despite of his law-suits,
my grandfather had left considerable property; which it was supposed
would descend to me. It had indeed the disadvantage of being left
under the executorship of a lawyer, who represented it to be in a
very involved and disorderly state: for, with respect to my mother,
though she had immediate possession, she declared that, agreeably
to the intention of the rector, her own subsistence excepted, she
held it only for my use. Thus, in several of her letters, she had
affectionately pressed me not to deprive myself of what was necessary
to my situation, to the appearance of a gentleman, or to the support
of the family character.

For the first two months we punctually wrote to each other once a
week. 'My dear dear Hugh' was the first phrase in all her letters;
and 'my kind and good mother' in mine: every maternal anxiety was
expressed by her, and by me every return of filial affection and duty.

At length a week came in which I received no letter. I was alarmed,
wrote to express my fears, and in a few days was answered, by the
lawyer, that my mother was in good health, but was from home on a

A month longer passed away in silence, at the end of which I wrote to
my mother, expressing my feelings and fears, and requesting an answer
under her own hand; otherwise I should come myself to see what was the

The answer arrived, I hastily opened it, and began to read. It was no
longer prefaced with 'my dear dear Hugh:' It was what follows.

'Dear Son,

'You seem impatient to hear from me, and so I sit down to write you
an account of something that has happened, which perhaps you will
think well of; I hope you will; I am sure you have no reason to think
otherwise; though, when one does things all for the best, one is not
always best thought of. But I dare say you will not think ill of your
mother, for that would not be dutiful, nor at all agreeable to what
your poor dear grandfather always taught. Nobody can suppose that I am
not come to years of discretion; and you very well know I have always
been a good and tender mother to you; and so I always shall be; and I
am sure you will not think hardly and improperly of my conduct in any
way, for that would be very unkind and unbecoming; and, if I have done
all for the best, to be hardly thought of afterwards would be very
improper indeed. Mr. Thornby [the lawyer] is a very prudent man, and
so I have acted by his advice, which you may well think cannot be
wrong; and his nephew, Mr. Wakefield, is a gentleman that nobody need
be ashamed of owning; and so, since you must be told, you may as well
be told at first as at last--I am married; which I hope and expect you
will think was a very prudent thing. I am sure when you come to know
Mr. Wakefield you will like him prodigiously. He sends his kind
blessing to you, and so I remain your ever loving mother


Little as I was attached to personal interest or fearful of being left
without a provision, I own this letter electrified me. Was this the
tone of affection? Had it vanished so instantly? After such strong and
reiterated professions for my sake never to have a second husband, not
only to marry but to cool intirely toward me, and to be only anxious,
in a poor selfish circumlocutory apology, for a conduct which she
herself felt to be highly reprehensible!

The lawyer too! His nephew? Not satisfied with the executorship, he
had engulphed the whole in his family, the stipend of a hundred a year
while I remained at college, and a thousand pounds for the purchase
of an advowson when I should leave it, excepted. I wondered, on
reflection, that he should even have advised the rector to this: but
it was by affecting disinterestedness that he could most effectually
secure the remainder.

But the pain these thoughts occasioned was neither debilitating nor
durable. My sanguine self-confidence, though sometimes apalled, has
all my life prevented me from being subject to fits of permanent
chagrin, or melancholy. The recollection of my mother's passionate
promises, the shortness of the time, the suddenness of the change,
the family into which she had married, and the instability of a woman
that was my mother, drew a few sighs from me, and in these my gloom
evaporated. I returned cheerfully to my books and determined to visit
home no more, but while a student to make Oxford my home, and not
incur the frequently well-merited reproach of being a _term-trotter_.

As for my companion, Hector, whatever the intentions of the Squire his
father might be, he considered Oxford only as a place of dissipation,
and loved it for nothing but because he was here first let entirely
loose, and here first found comrades that were worthy to be his peers.
Most of his time was now spent in London, or in parties such as
himself and his intimates planned. I suffered little interruption from
him: he now and then indeed gave me an indolent call; but, as there
was no parity of pursuit, nor unity of sentiment between us, there
could be but little intercourse.

Little farther remarkable happened during the three years and ten
months of my residence in this city, except the incident that
occasioned my removal. By being a constant spectator of the debauchery
of the young, and the sensuality of the old, I conceived an increasing
dislike of their manners, and sought the company of a few secluded
young men, who like myself were severe students. Toward the close
of this period I became acquainted with some who were tinged with
methodism; and, by frequently listening to their conversation, my
thoughts were turned into the same channel. The want of zeal in prayer
and every part of religious duty, the tedious and dull sermons heard
in the churches, and what methodists call preaching themselves and not
their Saviour, were the frequent topics of our animadversion.

This was a doctrine most aptly calculated to inflame an imagination
like mine, which was ardent and enthusiastic. Beside it relieved me
from a multitude of labours and cares, for, as I proceeded, Thomas
Aquinas and his subtilizing competitors were thrown by in contempt. I
had learned divinity by inspiration, and soon believed myself fit for
a reformer. The philosopher Aristotle with his dialectics and sophisms
were exchanged, for those of the philosopher Saint Paul; from whom
I learnt that he who had saving faith had every thing, and that he
who wanted it was naked of all excellence as the new born babe. This
nakedness I had discovered in myself, and in the language of the sect
was immediately clothed in the righteousness of Christ Jesus! I, in
common with my methodistical brethren, was chosen of the elect! My
name was inscribed in the book of life never to be erased! My sins
were washed away! Satan had no power over me; and to myself and my
new fraternity I applied the text, that 'the gates of hell could not
prevail against us!'

To these mysteries, which all the initiated allow are suddenly
unfolded, descending like lightening by the inspiration of the spirit
and illuminating the darkened soul, to these mysteries no man perhaps
was ever a more sudden or a more combustible kind of convert than
myself. I beamed with gospel light; it shone through me. I was the
beacon of this latter age: a comet, sent to warn the wicked. I mean, I
was all this in my own imagination, which swelled and mounted to the
very acme of fanaticism.

Under the impulse of these wild dreams, in which my soul delighted, I
was sometimes tempted to rise up a prophet, preach salvation to the
poor, and confound the wise. Persecution I must expect, but in that I
should glory: it was the badge of blessedness, the mark of election,
the signing of the covenant. Elevated to these celestial heights, with
what contempt did I look down on the doctors, proctors, and preachers
of Baal (for such were all the unenlightened) and on their dignities,
paraphernalia, and many coloured robes. What were these but the types
of Babylon? the ensigns of the scarlet whore? the purple tokens of the
beast? In the most extravagant eccentricities of mind it is remarkable
what a mixture there is of truth and falsehood, and how nearly and
frequently they approach each other.

During the height of this paroxysm, a famous gospel preacher, a divine
man, on his way from Shropshire to London, came to hold forth in the
vicinity of Oxford: not in churches, they were shut upon him, but in
the fields; not to the rich, not to the worldy wise, not to the self
righteous, they were deaf, but to the poor in spirit, to the polluted,
the hardened reprobate, who wished by faith and repentance, though
dyed in sin like scarlet, to be washed white as wool. To hear this
teacher of the word, who set up his stool near a village on the Witney
road, I repaired: I and many a moaning old woman beside; watchful,
with our chorus of amen and our sobs and groans at every divine
ejaculation, to aid the heaving motions of the spirit, and take heaven
by storm.

The elect were assembled, and with them a greater number of the
unconverted; heads were uncovered, a hymn was sung, and a long
extempore string of intercessions, praying that the Lord would lay
bare his arm and strike the guilty with terror; that Christ crucified
would be among them; that they might be washed in the blood of the
immaculate lamb; and that the holy spirit would breathe the God-man
Jesus into all hearts, with many more absurdities, was uttered.

The preacher then took his text, and chose for his subject the casting
of the buyers and sellers out of the temple. This was an opportunity
not to be lost by me. A gospel minister was indeed a _rara avis_, at
Oxford. I therefore took out my utensils and very industriously wrote
notes, that the divine breathings of the man of God might not be lost
upon me.--'Buyers and sellers,' said he, 'you must be cast out! The
tables of the money changers must be overthrown; you have defiled
the temple of the Saviour! In what do you trade? In vanity. In gold,
silver, iron, brass, houses, corn, cattle, goods, and chattels. But
gold and silver may be stolen; iron will rust; brass will break;
cattle will die; corn will mildew; houses will burn; they will tumble
about your ears! Repent, or you will quickly bring an old house over
your heads! Your goods and chattels will but kindle the fire in which
you are to burn everlastingly! What are your occupations? Why, to
hoard, and sell your souls for gain, that your heirs may squander and
buy a hot place in hell! I am not one of your fashionable fine spoken
mealy mouthed preachers: I tell you the plain truth. What are your
pastimes? Cards and dice, fiddling and dancing, guzzling and guttling!
Can you be saved by dice? No! Will the four knaves give you a passport
to heaven? No! Can you fiddle yourself into a good birth among the
sheep? No! You are goats, and goat like you may dance yourselves to
damnation! You may guzzle wine here, but you shall want a drop of
water to cool your tongue hereafter! You may guttle, while righteous
Lazarus is lying at your gate. But wait a little! He shall soon lie in
Abraham's bosom, while you shall roast on the devil's great gridiron,
and be seasoned just to his tooth!--Will the prophets say, "Come here
gamester, and teach us the long odds?"--'Tis odds if they do!--Will
the martyrs rant, and swear, and shuffle, and cut with you? No! The
martyrs are no shufflers! You will be cut so as you little expect: you
are a field of tares, and Lucifer is your head farmer. He will come
with his reapers and his sickles and his forks, and you will be cut
down and bound and pitched and carted and housed in hell. I will not
oil my lips with lies to please you: I tell you the plain truth: you
will go to hell! Ammon and Mammon and Moloch are head stoakers; they
are making Bethhoron hot for you! Prophane wretches, you daily wrangle
and brawl and tell one another--"I will see you damned first!"--But I
tell you the day will come when you will pray to Beelzebub to let you
escape his clutches! And what will be his answer?--"I will see you
damned first!'"

To this rhapsody of strange but impressive vulgar eloquence I
listened, with rapture, for nearly an hour; selecting and noting
down the passages that I thought most remarkable, many of which were
too extravagant, if repeated, to be believed. In the height of these
effusions, when the divine man was torturing his lungs to be heard by
the increasing croud, he on his stool, I seated uncapped in a cart by
his side, who should I see approach, in a phæton and pair, but Hector
Mowbray? And by his side--! Yes!--Olivia! The beauteous Olivia! no
longer a child, but tall, straight, perfectly formed; every limb in
the most captivating symmetry, every feature in the full bloom of
youth; intelligence in every look, grace in every motion, sweetness in
every smile! Attracted by curiosity, her brother arrested his course,
drew up, and placed the celestial vision full in view!

Oh, frailty of the flesh! My new made garb of righteousness dropped
from my shoulders! The old Adam, that had been dead in me, again
revived; the workings of the spirit ceased; I gazed on an apparition
which was indeed heavenly, and forgot the apostles the prophets and
the martyrs! The preacher himself was heard no more; nor more would
have been heard, had he not with all the effrontery of a fanatic
interrupted his discourse, to address himself personally to Hector
and Olivia, by which he excited sensations in me that were wholly
unexpected--'Jehu driveth furiously,' said he; 'but Jezebel was given
to the dogs! (My choler instantly began to rise) Sinners! drive not
so fast! The way is broad, and Tophet is gaping, where is weeping and
wailing and gnashing of teeth! You will be there, poor lost souls,
sooner than you expect! The way to heaven is narrow, much too narrow
for your large consciences; and, though the court is spacious, the
gate is too little for you to drive in with your coaches and six! No,
not even your vis a vis, nor your phætons neither, not so much as a
tumbril or a buggie can get past! But perhaps you think to ride up to
the gate, and there to cry, _peccavi_! and that then it will open, and
you will be admitted? But, no! no! I tell you, no! You shall never be
able to utter more than _pec, pec, pec_; and while with your mouths
open you are stammering and stuttering to get out _cavi_, Satan and
his blackguards shall come and peck you, even as crows peck carrion.
Yes, Jehu and Jezebel! Remember! I give you warning!'

If I, one of the preacher's disciples, could scarcely refrain from
falling upon him for his insolence, what must the choleric and brutal
Hector feel, hearing himself repeatedly laughed at by the delighted
unmannerly mob, during this impudent harangue? He dropped the reins,
jumped from the phæton, sprang through the croud, and began to
horse-whip the inspired man in the most furious manner.

And now an accident happened; which of all others that I can remember
gave me the most terror. Olivia sat alone In the phæton, the reins
were loose, and the fighting shouting and uproar of the divided mob
occasioned the horses to take fright They snorted, kicked, and set off
full speed; with the helpless Olivia screaming for aid! The moment
Hector left the carriage I saw what was likely to happen, leaped from
the cart where I sat, and flew like lightening after the frantic
animals. Few men were swifter of foot than I was, but they had the
start and were on the full gallop. The danger was imminent. On one
side of the road was a gravel pit, on the other the river, and before
them was a bridge, the walls of which were not breast high. A cart was
passing the bridge, and the mad horses, still on full speed, ran on
the wrong side, dashed the phæton against the cart, overturned it, and
threw Olivia over the wall into the river!

The freshes had lately come down, and the stream was both deep and
strong. I was at the foot of the bridge when she fell; and when I
reached the place she was still above water, and had passed the arch
on the other side. I instantly stripped off my coat cap and gown,
sprang into the eddy, made a few strokes, and, as happy fortune would
have it, just caught her as she was sinking!

Loaded with this precious burden, I had the strength of twenty men.
I stemmed the current and presently brought her into shallow water,
where I could find footing. I then bore her into the nearest house,
and every possible aid was immediately administered.

While I was thus employed Hector arrived, his rage boiling over anew,
at his lamed horses and broken phæton; for his inquiries concerning
his sister were short, as soon as he understood that she was not
drowned. I paid as little attention to him as he did to her, and was
disturbed only by my fears lest the fright should be productive of
fever, or still worse consequences.

Olivia had too much sincerity of heart, and too great a desire to
remove the anxiety of those around her, to be guilty of the least
affectation. She had received no injury, for the danger being over her
mind was too strong not to dispel her fears; and, after reposing an
hour and finding herself perfectly well, she insisted on coming down
and joining us at dinner. Her thanks to me in words were not profuse,
but they were emphatical. 'She was alive, and should never forget that
she owed that life to me.' This she three times repeated; once at
table, again in the post-chaise in which we returned to Oxford, and
once more when we took leave of each other in the evening.

To me this day was indeed a day of tumult. Nothing perhaps more aptly
prepares the mind for the passion of love than religious enthusiasm.
The subject of my conversation with Olivia was chiefly a revival
of former times, which seemed to be remembered by us mutually with
glowing regret, as the happiest moments of our existence: times which
I inwardly dreaded might never return.

Fanatical reveries excepted, this perhaps was the first desponding
thought I had known; at least it was the first I can distinctly
remember, and the pang that accompanied it was severe. Olivia was
so lovely, her form so enchanting, her manners so captivating, that
my eyes were riveted on her, my soul absorbed, and the faculty of
thinking arrested. Every look of her beaming eyes penetrated to the
heart, every motion of her moist coral lips gave exstacy, and every
variation of her features discovered new ineffable and angelic

Why did the hours fly? Why was the day so short? She had only passed
through Oxford in her way to London, and was to depart in the morning.
I would gladly have persuaded her to regard her health, and not expose
herself so soon after the fright; but in vain. She felt no malady, nor
would acknowledge any; and the selfish Hector was rather inclined to
hurry her off than invite her to stay. It was years since I had seen
her, and to be torn thus suddenly from bliss unutterable? Never had I
felt a pang like this before!

In the evening, returned to my chamber and left in solitude, I sat
with my arms folded, disconsolate, motionless, and in a profound but
yet a most active trance. I remained thus for hours, ardently thinking
on Olivia, recollecting every incident of my past life in which she
had had the least part, placing all her divine perfections full in
view, and unable to detach my mind one moment from the beatific

At length by accident, I cast my eye on two books, that lay on the
mantle-piece before me: Baxter's Call to the Unconverted, and the
History of Francis Spira: two of the most terrific productions, to
such a mind at such a moment, that ever the ravings of fanaticism sent
forth. The impulse was irresistible; I opened them, read, and all
the horrors of hell came upon me. I was a backslider! Perdition was
certain! All the torments that Baxter described were devouring me, and
my soul was sinking, like the soul of Francis Spira, into sulphureous
flames, there to howl and be eternally tormented by the malignant
mocks and mows of inexorable fiends! I have since suffered many evils,
or what are called evils, and have known misfortunes such as are
supposed to be of the severest kind; but, of all the nights of my
life, not one can equal this. I fell on my knees, and attempted to
pray, but imagined the ear of mercy shut, and that I beheld the wicked
one stand ready to seize and fly away with me! My teeth began to
gnash, as if by irresistible impulse; my hair stood on end, and large
drops of sweat fell from my face! The eternal damnation, of which I
had read and heard so much, seemed inevitable; till at last, in a
torrent of phrenzy which I had not the power to controul, I began to
blaspheme, believing myself to be already a fiend!

It is by such horrible imagery that so many of the disciples of
methodism have become maniacs.

My dereliction of intellect fortunately was but of short duration:
overpowered and exhausted, I at length sunk to sleep, my head leaning
on the bed and I kneeling by its side. How long I remained thus I
cannot tell, but I awoke in a shivering fit from a dream of terror,
and found myself in the dark. I hastily undressed myself, got into
bed, and shrunk beneath the bed clothes, as if escaping from Satan,
whom imagination once more placed at my elbow, in forms inexpressibly

The visions of the night had left too deep an impression not to be in
part revived in the morning. Thoughts however that had lately escaped
me were now called to recollection. I remembered having once believed
that God was the God of mercy; that for him to delight in the torture
of lost souls was impossible; and that I had even doubted of the
eternity of future torments. To this relief a more effectual one
was added: Olivia could not be forgotten, and my thoughts, by being
continually attracted and fixed on her, were relieved from despair,
which might otherwise have been fatal.

A week passed away in such kind of convulsive meditations, my
attachment to methodism daily declining, and at last changing into
something like aversion and horror. At the end of this period, I was
sent for in the morning by the president. The incident was alarming!
I had broken no college rules, neglected no prayers, nor been guilty
of any indecorum. I foreboded that he had heard of my methodistical
excursion. The conjecture was true: he told me it was too publicly
known to be passed over in silence; that the character of the
university had greatly suffered by this kind of heresy; that the vice
chancellor, proctors, and heads of houses had been consulted, and that
the gentlest punishment they could inflict was rustication for two
terms. It would have been much more severe, he said, but for the
respect he bore to the memory of my grandfather; who had been a doctor
of the university, a worthy pillar of the church, and his good friend.

Though I suspected my opinions, I was not so entirely convinced as
openly to renounce them, and I remained silent when he required me
to recant. But I requested him to tell me how the event had become
public? Not a gownsman was present, except Hector Mowbray; and surely
he was above the character of an informer? Especially, thought I,
in this instance! The president however was silent; I was suffered
to suppose what I pleased, and I left him with the sentence of
rustication confirmed, and my long expected academical honours
deferred. The only favour granted me was that the punishment should
not be made public.


Back to Full Books