The Adventures of Hugh Trevor
Thomas Holcroft

Part 3 out of 12


_Disappointment: More marriage accidents: Preparations for a journey_

The delay of two terms was by no means pleasing to me. I had nearly
waited the stipulated time, had read _wall lectures_, and had _done
juraments_, and _generals_. Aristotle had been laid upon my head, and
I had been created a _Soph_. In fine, I had complied with all the
forms of the university; forms which once perhaps might have had a
meaning, but which are now offensively absurd. I expected the next
term to have obtained the degree of bachelor of arts, after which it
was my intention to have gone to London, there to have been ordained,
and to have sought a flock wanting a pastor, on whom the stores of my
theology and the powers of my elocution might have been well bestowed.

Traversed in this design, I determined to repair to the great city
immediately, and return to keep my terms at Oxford when the period of
rustication should have elapsed. But I had been obliged to furnish
myself with books and music, and had found the hundred pounds a year
allowed me scarcely sufficient; and, beside the charges of travelling
and removal, I was informed that London was an expensive place. It
was therefore necessary I should write to the country, for a supply.
The correspondence with my mother, though not pursued with all the
zeal in which it was begun, had been occasionally continued. At first
her letters abounded with eulogiums on her husband, but the subject
afterward began to cool with her, and she had lately forborne even to
mention his name. In answer to the letters which I wrote, to inform
her and lawyer Thornby of my plan and to request a supply, a part of
the truth appeared. Her husband was a young man, who, coming sooner
into the possession of money than of good sense, had squandered as
much of it as he could wrest from his uncle, the lawyer, who affirmed
the whole or nearly the whole was wasted; and, when he could obtain
no more, had left her to depend on Thornby's bounty and had gone to

These disagreeable circumstances were in part communicated by my
mother and in part by Thornby, who had written to tell me that, if a
small advance were made, it must be deducted from the thousand pounds,
bequeathed as before mentioned. To this I willingly agreed, and,
giving him all the legal security he required, I received fifty
pounds; after which I made the necessary preparations for my intended
journey, and obtained letters of recommendation to a clergyman in
London, and to the Bishop of--to whom, when I should have taken my
bachelor's degree, I meant to apply for deacon's orders.




_Retrospect and character: Afore taste of futurity: Entrance to
London, or where does it begin? All alive: A civil gentleman:
Curiosity cooled_

The period was now approaching in which I must fix on a profession for
life. My choice, as I imagined, was made. There was no place so worthy
of or so fit for the display of great talents as the pulpit. This
opinion I supposed to be too well founded for any possible arguments
to overturn, or even shake. I had heard much of theology from the
rector, but more at Oxford. To promote this branch of knowledge the
university was first established, and by it is still maintained;
consequently it is there the chief object of pursuit, and topic of
discourse. My hour of doubt was not yet arrived, and of the absolute
pre-eminence of the clerical office I was a bold and resolute

Nor had my ambition been wholly bounded by the desire of fame: I
was in expectation of my full share of those advantages which the
world thinks more substantial; though this was but a subordinate
consideration. Under all points of view, my constant source of hope
was in the energy of my own mind. Among the numerous examples which I
had seen, of men who had gained preferment, many by the sole influence
of personal interest, and many more by the industry of intriguing
vice, there were some who had attained that end by the exertion of
extraordinary talents and virtue. It is true they were but few, very
few; yet on them my attention had been constantly fixed. Them I was
determined to emulate, exert the same powers, rise by the same means,
and enjoy the same privileges. Every example of successful genius
delighted, animated me, and fired my glowing imagination. The
histories of great men even when persecuted and distressed, a Galileo,
a Dryden, or an Otway, did but excite my admiration and my envy. Let
me but equal them and I could willingly live with them in poverty and
imprisonment, or die with them of misery, malady, and famine.

These were no transient feelings, but the daily emanations of desire.
From my infancy, the lessons and incidents of my life had rendered me
aspiring; and, however steep and rugged the rock might be described on
which the temple of fame stood, I was determined to ascend and enter.
I was possessed of that hilarity which, when not regulated by a strong
desire to obtain some particular purpose, shews itself in a thousand
extravagant forms, and is then called animal spirits; but, when thus
turned to the attainment of one great end, assumes the more worthy
appellation of activity of mind.

It must be acknowledged I was but little aware how much I had to
learn, and unlearn, or of the opposition I should meet from my own
prejudices, as well as from those of the world. But dangers never
imagined are never feared, and my leading characteristic was the most
sanguine hope. Were all the dangers of life to present themselves to
the imagination in a body, drawn up in battle array, the prospect
would indeed be dreadful; but coming individually they are less
formidable, and successively as they occur are conquered. Foreboded,
their aspect is terrific; but seen in retrospect, they frequently
excite present satisfaction and future fortitude: and this is the way
in which they have most frequently been seen by me.

Nor had my time been wholly consumed in gathering the sweets of
literature. I had long been exercising myself in writing, improving my
style, arranging my thoughts, and enabling myself to communicate the
knowledge I might amass. Of sermons I had written some dozens; and the
most arduous of the efforts of poetry had been attempted by me; from
the elegy to the epic poem, each had suffered my attacks. And, though
I myself was not so well satisfied with my performances as to complete
these daring labours, yet, I had so far familiarised myself to a
selection of words, and phrases, as to be able to compose with much
more facility than is usual at such an age.

Possessed, as I was well persuaded, of no common portion of merit, it
was a cheering thought that I was now going to bring it immediately
to market; at least into view. London I understood to be the great
emporium, where talents if exhibited would soon find their true value,
and were in no danger of being long overlooked. To London, which was
constantly pouring its novelties, its discoveries, and its effusions
of genius over the kingdom, I was going.

I did not, as at Oxford, expect to find its inhabitants all saints.
No: I had heard much of their vices. The subtle and ingenious arts, by
which they trick and prey upon each other, had been pictured to me as
highly dangerous; and of these arts, self confident as I was, I stood
in some awe. But fore warned, said I, fore armed: and that I was not
easily to be circumvented was still a part of my creed.

Such were my qualities, character and expectations, when I entered
the carriage that conveyed me toward the great city. It was early
in the month of February, the days were short, and evening came on
as we reached Hounslow. Brentford I imagined to be London, and was
disappointed to find myself again driven out of town. The lighted
lamps and respectable buildings of Turnham Green made me conclude that
to be the place, or at least the beginning, which Hammersmith did but
confirm; and my surprise, at once more finding myself in a noble road,
still lighted with lamps and with only here and there a house, was

At Kensington to me London actually began, and I thought myself
hurried nearly through it when the coach stopped at the Gloucester
Coffee-house, in Piccadilly. I had already for miles been driven
through streets, over stones, and never out of sight of houses, and
was astonished to be told that I was now only as it were at the
entrance of London.

The quantity of carriages we had passed, the incessant clattering of
hoofs and rolling of wheels over the pavement, the general buzz
around me, the hurry and animation of the people, and the universal
illumination of streets, houses, and shops, excited ideas which were
new, unexpected, and almost confounding! Imagination conjured up a
mass that was all magnificence! The world till now had to me been
sleeping; here only men were alive! At Oxford indeed, owing to
circumstances, I had felt some similar emotions. But that was a
transient scene that quickly declined into stillness and calm: here I
was told it was everlastingly the same! The mind delighted to revel in
this abundance: it seemed an infinitude, where satiety, its most fatal
and hated enemy, could never come.

I had questions innumerable to ask, and made fifty attempts to get
intelligence from the waiters, but in vain; they were too busy to
attend to me, and treated my interrogatories with impertinent neglect.
However, I was overflowing; talk I must, and I attacked various
persons, that were coming and going in the coffee-room. Still I could
get only short answers, and I wanted volumes.

Thus disappointed, I went and stood at the door, that I might divine
as much as I could for myself: for though it was night, in London
there is scarcely such a thing as darkness. While I was standing
here, a gentleman of a more complaisant temper came up and fell into
conversation with me, answered my inquiries, and informed me the
king's palace was at no great distance. The king's palace was indeed a
tempting object, and he good-naturedly offered to walk and shew it me.
This very obliging proposal I readily accepted, and away we went.

As we were going down St. James's-street, as I imagine, the thought
occurred 'If this gentleman now should be a sharper? He behaves with
great civility; it is very improbable; but who knows? Let him! There
is no trick he is master of shall prevail on me to part with the
little money I have in my pocket: of that I am determined.'

Scarcely had the idea passed through my mind, before two men ran with
such violence against me that they threw me flat on the pavement,
and hurt me considerably. My companion and another immediately came
to help me up; and the moment I was on my legs my friend and guide
requested me to stay there half a minute; he would see that the watch
should soon secure the rascals; and off he ran, full speed. The other
kind gentleman followed his example.

All this happened in an instant; and, while I was standing in a kind
of amazement, a passenger, who had seen the transaction at a distance,
came up and asked me--'Are you much bruised, Sir?'--'Not very
much.'--'Have you lost nothing?'--'Lost? [The question alarmed me] No:
I believe not!'--'Search your pockets.'

Going to do as I was desired and putting my hands down, I found my
breeches pockets were both turned inside out, and emptied of their
contents. I stood speechless and motionless, while I was informed
that it was a common-place trick for gangs of pickpockets to throw
unwary passengers down with violence, pretend to pity and give them
aid, pick their pockets while helping them up, and then decamp with
all possible expedition. But said I, with great simplicity, to my
informer, 'Will not the gentleman come back?'--'What! The man who ran
off?'--'Yes.'--'Back! No, no: you will never see his face more, I
promise you, Sir; unless you will take the trouble to visit Newgate,
or attend the Old Bailey.'

There was no remedy! I stared for a moment, looked foolish, and
returned toward the coffee-house; having taken care to mark the way
I went. On repeating this story afterward, I learned further that to
watch at inns and places where strangers arrive, and to play such
tricks as may best succeed with them, is a very frequent practice with
sharpers and pickpockets. My only consolation was the sum was small;
for I had been cautioned not to travel with much money about me, lest
we should meet robbers on the road; and the advice happened to be
serviceable. That I had not my watch in my pocket was another lucky
circumstance, or it would have disappeared. The fear of highwaymen had
induced me to pack it up in my trunk. As for my handkerchief, it was
gone, in the company of my purse.


_A journey in town: Good breeding and morality: A new order of
priests: A clerical character, or the art of pleasing: Episcopal
influence: More gazing: A strange adventure, and the first sight of a

As soon as I had breakfasted in the morning, my first care was to
change my dress, powder my hair, put my watch in my pocket, inquire
my way, and deliver my letters of recommendation. I thought it
most prudent to apply first to the clergyman, and take his advice
concerning the best manner of appearing before a bishop.

My letters, for I had two, were addressed to the reverend Enoch
Ellis, Suffolk-Street, Middlesex Hospital. Which way I went I cannot
now tell, but I had so many sights to see, shops to examine, and
curiosities to admire, that, by the help of wandering perhaps a mile
or much more out of my road, I was at least two hours before I came to
my journey's end.

I knocked at the door, and was told by the servant that his master
was not at home; but was asked if I had any message? I replied I had
letters, which I wished to deliver into his own hand. The reverend
Enoch, who as it appeared was listening through an aperture left
purposely at the parlour door, put his head out, like a turtle from
his shell, and desired the servant to shew the gentleman in; he would
be with him in a moment. This was another phenomenon in morals! A
clergyman suffer, nay encourage, or, as it must be, command, his
servant to tell a lie? It was inconceivable! I knew nothing of
fashionable manners, and that being denied to people whom you do not
wish to see, instead of being thought insolent or false, was the
general practice of the well bred. At that time I understood no single
point of good breeding: I had it all to learn! But indeed, so dull am
I on such topics, that, to this hour, how it can be a clergyman's or
any honest man's duty or interest to teach servants to lie is to me
incomprehensible. The difficulty, as I have found it, is to teach both
them and all classes of people to tell the truth. What the morality of
the practice is cannot be a serious question.

Before I proceed with that part of my story in which the reverend
Enoch Ellis takes a share, it is necessary to remark that there has
sprung up in modern times a clerical order of men, very distinct in
manners and character from the subservient curate, or the lordly
parish priest. Houses in London have lately been built much faster
than churches. Yet, though the zeal of these times does not equal that
of ancient days, when our cities were divided into numerous small
parishes, when religion was the universal trade of mankind, and when
the temples of superstition reared their proud heads in every alley,
still men who know how to turn the penny have found it advantageous,
even in these days of infidelity, to build here and there a chapel,
and to let each of these chapels out to the best clerical bidder; who
in his turn uses all his influence to allure the neighbourhood to
hire, in retail, those bits and parcels, called pews, that, for the
gratification of pride, are measured off within the consecrated walls
which he has hired wholesale. In these undertakings, if the preacher
cannot make himself popular, it is at least his interest to make
himself pleasing.

Of one of these chapels Enoch Ellis was the farmer general; and
this necessary endeavour to please had produced in him a remarkable
contrast of character. He was a little man, with thin legs and thighs
and a pot belly, but precisely upright: an archbishop could not
carry himself more erect: his chest projecting; his neck stiff; his
head thrown back; his eyes of the ferret kind, red, tender and much
uncovered by the eyelid; his nose flat on the bridge, and at the end
of the colour and form of a small round gingerbread nut, but with
little nostril; his lips thin; his teeth half black half yellow; his
ears large; his beard and whiskers sandy; his hair dark, but kept
in buckle, and powdered as white as a miller's hat; his complexion
sallow, and his countenance and general aspect jaundiced and mean.

With these requisites, there was a continual struggle, between his
efforts to preserve his clerical solemnity and to make himself
agreeable. His formal manner of pursing up his face into smiles, for
this purpose, had produced a regular set of small wrinkles, folds, and
plies, that inevitably reminded those who were not accustomed to him
of the grinning of an ape; for he was so fearful of derogating from
his dignity that it was impossible for his smile to take the form of

After waiting about ten minutes this reverend little gentleman, such
as I have described, entered, assumed one of these agreeable solemn
smiles, and bowed; but instantly recovered his full stature; as if he
had been then measuring for a grenadier.

I delivered my letters: one was from the tutor, and the other from a
regent master, who was one of the caput. He read them; and, as I was
desirous to gain friends in a city of strangers, I anxiously watched
his countenance; but I could not perceive that they produced any
remarkably favourable effect. Not but he assumed all his civility; was
vastly glad to hear his Oxford friends were in good health; should be
exceedingly happy to do any thing, that lay in his power, to serve a
gentleman of their recommendation. But the duties of his profession
were very laborious: they could not be neglected. His calls were
incessant: he had not a moment to himself. However, if I could point
out any way--that is--he should be prodigiously happy--prodigiously
indeed to give me any advice in his power.

I was by no means satisfied with the pauses, hems, and ha's with which
he delivered these apologies. However, not knowing what better to do,
I mentioned that I had letters to the Bishop of ----, and should be
glad if he could tell me which was the properest hour and manner of
gaining access to deliver them.

The mention of the bishop was electrical; it produced an immediate
and miraculous change in the countenance of the reverend Enoch Ellis.
The quantity of emphasis on his favourite epithet, prodigious, was
wonderfully increased. He was prodigiously glad to find I was so well
recommended! Was prodigiously happy to hear from his friends of *****
college! Should take prodigious satisfaction in serving a gentleman in
whose behalf they had written! Nothing could give him such prodigious
pleasure! And, that I might be under no difficulty, if I would permit
him, he would first make the necessary inquiries, and then attend me
in person, to pay my respects to the right reverend dignitary.

This relaxation in his manner flattered and pleased me. He now
perceived me to be somebody; my half-offended vanity was appeased, and
I accepted his offer with thanks.

To add to these obligations, finding that I was but just come to town,
of which I was entirely ignorant, and that I wanted a lodging, he very
obligingly told me his servant should inquire in the neighbourhood,
and provide me one by the morrow. I endeavoured to make a suitable
return to this _prodigious_ increase of courtesy by a pedantical, but
in my then opinion classical, quotation: _Dii tibi_,--&c. Virgil will
tell the rest.

These civilities being all acted and over, I bowed and took my leave,
appointing to call again the next morning; and he bowing in return,
and waiting on me to the door: I much better pleased with my reception
after the mention of the bishop than before; and he no less well

I had now nothing to do for the rest of the day but indulge my
curiosity, which made very large and imperious demands on all my
senses. I walked from street to street, examined object after object,
tasted the tarts of the pastry cooks, listened to the barrel organs,
bells, tambours de basque, and cymbals of Savoyards, snuffed ten
thousand various odours, gazed at the inviting splendour of shop
windows innumerable, and with insatiable avidity gazed again! All
the delights of novelty and surprise thrilled and tingled through
my veins! It was a world of such inexhaustible abundance, wealth,
and prosperity as to exceed the wildest of the dreams of fancy!
Recollecting what my feelings then were, it seems almost surprizing
that I can walk through the same tempting world of wonders, at
present, scarcely conscious that such things have any existence.

The sole draw-back I felt to these delights was the fear of sharpers,
and thieves; which, owing to my two unlucky adventures, of the lady
with the riding-habit and the obliging gentleman who took me to see
the king's palace, was so great that I never thought myself in safety.

Under these impressions, I happened in the afternoon to stray
through Brydges-street, and saw a croud of people gathered round the
play-house doors, who on inquiry I found were waiting to get in. The
play bills were pasted in large letters, red and black, against the
walls. I read them, and their contents told me it was one of my most
favourite tragedies, Rowe's Fair Penitent, and that Mrs. Siddons was
to act.

I had never yet seen a play in my life; for so licentious are the
manners and behaviour of the youth of Oxford, that the vice chancellor
dare not admit players into the city. This was an invitation to
enjoyment not to be resisted. I blessed my lucky stars, that had led
me by accident that way, and immediately took my stand among the
people who surrounded the pit door, and pressed forward to better my
situation as much as I could without ill manners.

Here I waited with the hope of pleasure exciting me to patience I know
not how long, till the hour of opening the doors approached, about
which time the croud was frequently put in motion. I observed that the
people around me had several times appeared to be watchful of each
other, and presently I heard a voice proclaim aloud--'Take care of
your pockets!'

My fears suddenly came upon me! I put my hand down to my fob, and
missed my watch! I eagerly looked round as well as I could, hemmed in
as I was, and fixed my eyes on!--astonishment!--on my conductor to
the palace! The blood mantled in my face. 'You have stolen my watch,'
said I. He could not immediately escape, and made no reply, but turned
pale, looked at me as if intreating silence and commiseration, and put
a watch into my hand. I felt a momentary compassion and he presently
made his retreat.

His retiring did but increase the press of the croud, so that it was
impossible for me so much as to lift up my arm: I therefore continued,
as the safest way, to hold the watch in my hand. Soon afterward the
door opened, and I hurried it into my waistcoat pocket; for I was
obliged to make the best use of all my limbs, that I might not be
thrown down and trodden under foot.

At length, after very uncommon struggles, I made my way to the money
door, paid, and entered the pit. After taking breath and gazing around
me, I sat down and inquired of my neighbours how soon the play would
begin? I was told in an hour. This new delay occasioned me to put my
hand in my pocket and take out my watch, which as I supposed had been
returned by the thief. But, good heavens! What was my surprize when,
in lieu of my own plain watch, in a green chagrin case, the one I was
now possessed of was set round with diamonds! And, instead of ordinary
steel and brass, its appendages were a weighty gold chain and seals!

My astonishment was great beyond expression! I opened it to examine
the work, and found it was capped. I pressed upon the nut and it
immediately struck the hour: it was a repeater!

Its value could not but be very great; yet I was far from satisfied
with the accident. It was no watch of mine; nor must I keep it, if the
owner could be found; of which there could be no doubt; and my own was
gone past all recovery.

I could not let it rest. I surveyed it again, inspected every part
more minutely, and particularly examined the seals. My former
amazement was now increased ten fold! They were the very same arms,
the identical seals, of the watch on the sopha, that had betrayed the
lovely creature in the blue riding habit to Hector Mowbray! The watch
too was in every particular just such another; had a gold chain and
was studded with diamonds! It must be the property of his lordship.

In vain did I rack invention to endeavour to account for so strange
an incident: my conjectures were all unsatisfactory, all improbable.
I looked round to see if I could discover his lordship in the house,
but without success: the numbers were so great that the people were
concealed behind each other. Beside it was long since I had seen his
lordship: perhaps his person was changed, as his title had been, by
the death of his father. He was now the Earl of Idford. My surmises
concerning this uncommon accident kept my mind in continual activity,
till the drawing up of the curtain; when they immediately ceded to
ideas of a much more captivating and irresistible kind. The delight
received by the youthful imagination, the first time of being present
at the representation of a play, is not I suspect to be equalled
by any other ever yet experienced, or invented. The propriety and
richness of the dresses, the deception and variety of the scenery, the
natural and energetic delivery of the actors, and the reality of every
incidental circumstance were so great as to excite incessant rapture!

To describe the effects produced on me by Mrs. Siddons is wholly
impossible. Her bridal apathy of despair contrasted with the
tumultuous joy of her father, the mingled emotions of love for her
seducer, disdain of his baseness, and abhorrence partly of her own
guilt but still more of the tyranny and guilt of prejudice, and the
majesty of mind with which she trampled on the world's scorn, defied
danger, met death, and lamented little for herself, much for those
she had injured, excited emotions in me the remembrance of which ages
could not obliterate!

It may here be worthy of remark that the difference between the
sensations I then had and those I should now have, were I present at
the same exhibition, is in many particulars as great as can well be
imagined. Not an iota of the whole performance, at that time, but
seemed to me to be perfect; and I should have readily quarrelled with
the man who should have happened to express disapprobation. The art
of acting I had little considered, and was ignorant of its extent and
degree of perfectibility. To read a play was no common pleasure, but
to see one was ecstacy. Whereas at present, the knowledge of how much
better characters might in general be performed occasions me, with
the exception of some very few performers, infinitely to prefer the
reading of a good play in the closet to its exhibition on the stage.

The curtain being dropped for the night, I stood for a while gazing at
the multitude in motion, unwilling to quit the enchanted spot; but the
house beginning to be empty and the lights put out, I thought it was
time to retire.

That I might feel no interruption from having so valuable a deposit
in my charge, for so I considered it to be, instead of putting the
repeater in my fob, I had dropped it securely under my ham; being much
rather willing to endure any slight disagreeable sensation it might
there excite than run any farther risk.

The precaution as it happened was prudent. As I left the pit, I
thought I saw the identical obliging guide and pick-pocket, who had
returned me this watch in mistake, for it could be no other way,
and, as I ascended the steps, two men who were standing at the door
immediately advanced before me, and spread themselves out to prevent
my passing; while a third came behind me, put his hand gently round
my waist, and felt for the chain. My mind was so alive to dangers of
this kind, just then, that I was immediately aware of the attempt, and
pushing the men aside with my whole force I sprang up the steps, of
which there were not more than half a dozen. I then faced about in the
door way, not being acquainted with the passages, nor thinking it safe
to run.

The moment I rushed by, one of them asked the other--'Have you
_nabbed_ it?' and was answered--'No. _Go it_!' Immediately one of them
darted toward me, but I stood above him, was greatly his superior
in size and strength, and easily knocked him down. A second made a
similar attempt, and met a similar reception.

Hearing the scuffle, one of the house constables who happened to be
standing at a little distance under the portico, and some of his
assistants, came up; but, before they had time to be informed of the
affair, the fellows had taken to their heels.

The constable uttered many exclamations against the rascals, and
said, they had become so daring that nobody was safe. They had that
very afternoon picked the pocket of the Earl of Idford of a repeater
studded with diamonds, under the Piazza, as he was coming out of the
Shakespeare, where he had been to attend an election meeting. By this
I learned, in five words, what, before the play began, my brain had
been ineffectually busied about for a full hour.

Being told that I was a stranger and did not know my road, the
constable informed me it would be safest to go home in a coach. I took
his advice: a coach was called, and I was once more conveyed to the
Gloucester Coffee-house.


_The advice of Enoch: Complaisance of a peer: A liberal offer and
Enoch's sensibility, or the favour doubly returned_

My health, appetite, and spirits suffered no check, from this tide of
novelty and tumult of accident. I eat heartily, slept soundly, and
rose chearfully. It is true, I came up to London with propensities
which, from my education, that is, from the course of former events,
would not suffer me to be idle; and in the space of a few hours I
had already received several important lessons, that considerably
increased my stock of knowledge.

Of these I did not fail to make an active use. They awakened
attention, and I began to look about me with quickness and with
caution. I had business enough for the day, and my first care was to
keep my appointment with the reverend Enoch, whose counsel concerning
the Earl of Idford and the repeater I once more thought it prudent to

Thither I repaired, was readily admitted, and told him my story.
It related to an Earl, and the ear of Enoch was attentively open.
Having heard the whole, he made application immediately to the court
calendar, to discover the Earl's town residence, and it was found to
be in Bruton street. But how to gain admission? His lordship would not
be at home, unless I were known? I replied that I had formerly been
acquainted with his lordship, at the university. 'Ay but,' answered
Enoch, 'is your face familiar to the servants?' 'No.'--'Then they will
not _let you in_. The best way therefore will be to write a note to
his lordship, informing him that you have particulars to communicate
concerning his repeater. He will then appoint an hour, and you will
certainly be admitted. I have enquired concerning my lord, the Bishop:
you cannot see him at present, for he is in the country, but will
return to town in less than a week, consequently you can wait on the
Earl at any hour. It is a lucky event! A prodigiously fine opportunity
for an introduction to a nobleman! Be advised by me, and profit by it,
Mr. Trevor. If you please, I will attend you to his lordship. You are
a young man, and to be accompanied by a clergyman has a respectable
look, and gives a sanction. You conceive me, Mr. Trevor?'

I had acuteness enough to conceive the selfishness of his motives,
which was more than he intended; but I acceded to the proposal, for I
was almost as averse to giving as to receiving pain: beside I was a
stranger, and he would be my conductor. The note to his lordship was
accordingly written, a messenger dispatched with it, and while he was
gone I again repeated the whole story of the watch, which in all its
circumstances still appeared to me very surprising, and asked the
reverend Enoch if he could account for them?

He replied that the Piazza, where the watch was stolen, was scarcely
two hundred yards from the door at which the croud was assembled; that
the thief probably thought this croud the best hiding place; that he
could not remain idle, and therefore had been busy with the pockets of
the people, and among the rest once again with mine; that his terror
and confusion, lest he should be detected with a diamond repeater in
his possession, might be much greater than usual; that, after having
delivered it to me and discovered his mistake, he was very desirous
to remedy the blunder, and therefore watched me into the pit; that,
seeing me seated, he then went in search of his companions; and that
what afterward followed was, first, their usual mode of stealing
watches, and, when that failed, a more vigorous attempt to recover a
prize of uncommon value.

These suppositions, which Enoch's acquaintance with the town and not
the efforts of his imagination had suggested, made the history of the
event tolerably probable, and I suppose were very like the truth.

The messenger quickly returned, with a note containing--'His
lordship's compliments; he was then at home, and if I should happen to
be at leisure would be very glad to see me immediately.'

I told you, said Enoch, that if you meant to play the sure game you
must mention the repeater. My vanity would willingly have given
another interpretation to his lordship's civility, and have considered
it as personal to myself; but the philosophy of my vanity did not in
this case appear to be quite so sound as that of the reverend Enoch,
and I was mute.

Neither I nor Enoch were desirous of delay, and in a few minutes we
were in Bruton street; where the doors opened to us as if the hinges
had all been lately oiled. His lordship, who had acquired much more
of the man of the world, that is, of bowing and smiling, than when I
first saw him at Oxford, instantly knew me, received me and my friend
graciously, and easily entered into conversation with us.

The first thing I did was to restore him his watch, and tell him the
whole story, with the comments of the constable and of the reverend
Enoch. He laughed as much as lords in general laugh, said it was a
whimsical accident, and paid me a number of polite compliments and
thanks; treated the watch as a trinket which, as he recollected, had
not cost him more than three hundred guineas; but the bauble had been
often admired, he was partial to it, and was very glad it was thus

To this succeeded the smiles and contortions of Enoch to make himself
agreeable. His endeavours were very assiduous indeed, and to me very
ridiculous; but his lordship seemed to receive his cringing and abject
flattery as a thing rather of course, and expected, than displeasing
or contemptible.

Among other conversation, his lordship did not fail to inquire if I
were come to make any stay in town; and what my intentions and plan
were? On being informed of these, he professed a great desire to serve
me; and added that a thought had struck him, which perhaps might be
agreeable to me. If so, it would give him great pleasure. He wished
to have a friend, who during an hour of a morning might afford him
conversation. Perhaps he might occasionally trouble him to commit a
few thoughts to writing; but that might be as it happened. If I would
come and reside in his house, and act in this friendly manner with
him, he should be gratified and I not injured.

Enoch's open eyes twinkled with joy: sparkle they could not. He
foresaw through my means, intercourse with a peer, and perhaps
patronage! He was ready to answer for me, and could not restrain his
tongue from protesting that it was a prodigiously liberal, friendly
and honourable offer.

I had not forgotten his lordship's former jolly tutor, the terms
on which they had lived, or the treatment to which this tutor had
occasionally submitted. Yet I was not displeased with the proposal. I
spurned at the idea of any such submission, but the character of his
lordship seemed changed: and changed it certainly was, though I then
knew not why, or to what. Nor was it supposed that I was to act as his
menial. I therefore expressed my sense of his lordship's civility, and
owned the situation would be acceptable to me, as I was not at present
encumbered with riches, and living in London I found was likely to
prove expensive. I had desired to have a genteel apartment, and Enoch
had told me that one had been hired for me at a guinea and a half per
week, at which I had been not a little startled. The secret of want
of wealth a very cunning man would have concealed: a very wise man,
though from other motives, would have told it with the same unaffected
simplicity that I did.

Still the transports of Enoch, at his lordship's bounty, were
inexhaustible. They put me to the blush: but whether it was at being
unable to keep pace with him in owning this load of obligations, or
at his impertinent acknowledgment of feelings for me of which I was
unconscious, is more than I can tell. For his part, he did but speak
on the behalf of his young friend. I had come well recommended to him,
and he had already conceived a very singular affection for me. He had
no doubt but that I should be prodigiously grateful to his lordship
for all favours. His good advice should certainly never be wanting;
and patrons like his lordship could not, by any possible efforts, be
too humbly and dutifully served.

I did but feebly second this submissive sense of obligation, and these
overflowing professions for favours not yet received. Luckily however
he talked so fast, and was so anxious to recommend himself, that I had
scarcely an opportunity to put in a word. He took all the trouble upon

I ought to have mentioned that, before the proposal was made, his
lordship had taken care to inquire if I understood the living
languages? He spoke a few sentences in French to me himself, and
attempted to do the same in Italian, but succeeded in the latter very
indifferently. My answers satisfied him that I was no stranger to
these studies.

The fact was, his lordship found it necessary to keep a secretary,
to aid him in his politics not only to write but to think; and I
afterward learned, from his valet, that he had allowed a hundred a
year to one who had left his service that very day. His lordship was
doubtless therefore well satisfied with the meeting of this morning,
in which he not only recovered his diamond repeater but rewarded the
youth who brought it, by suffering him to do the same business gratis
for which he had before been obliged to pay.


_Memento of an old acquaintance: Gentility alarmed: The family of
Enoch: Musical raptures and card-table good breeding_

By the order of his lordship, two chairmen with a horse were
dispatched for my effects; and possession was given me of the
apartment occupied by my predecessor. In this apartment a trunk, which
he had not removed, was left; and on it was a direction to Henry Turl.
This excited my curiosity: I inquired of the valet, and from his
description was confirmed in the conjecture, that my quondam school
and college acquaintance, Turl, had been his lordship's late

Though at college I had considered his opinions as dangerous, yet
every thing that I had heard of his behaviour challenged respect. I
scarcely knew, at present, whether I wished to have any intercourse
with him or not; but the high opinion I had of his understanding made
me hope well of his morals, and wish him prosperity.

My good fortune was in danger of being immediately disturbed, by an
incident which to me was very unexpected. Instead of being treated as
the friend and companion of his lordship, when the dinner hour came
an invitation was sent up to me by the housekeeper, from which I
understood I was to dine at what is called the second table. At this
time I had much pride and little philosophy, and a more effectual
way to pique that pride could not have been found. I returned a
civil answer, the purport of which was that I should dine out, and
immediately wrote a short note to his lordship; informing him that 'I
took it for granted his housekeeper had mistaken his intentions, and
did not understand the terms on which I presumed I was to live in
his lordship's house. His lordship had said he wished me to be his
companion, and this distinction would certainly make me unfit to be
the companion of his housekeeper.'

The discharging my conscience of thus much vanity gave me immediate
relief, and was productive of the effect intended. His lordship
took the hint my spirited letter gave, and feigned ignorance of his
housekeeper's proceeding. My appearance, person, and understanding
he thought would not disgrace his table, at which consequently I was
afterward permitted to take my seat.

In the evening, I went by appointment to visit at the house of the
reverend Enoch; when I was introduced by him to his wife and daughter,
as a very accomplished young gentleman, an under-graduate of Oxford,
intended for the church, of prodigious connexions, recommended to a
bishop, patronized by an earl, and his very particular good friend.

I bowed and the ladies curtsied. Mrs. Ellis too had studied the art of
making herself agreeable, but in a very different way from Enoch. Her
mode was by engaging in what are called parties, learning the private
history of all her acquaintance, and retailing it in such a manner
as might best gratify the humours, prejudices, and passions of her
hearers. She had some shrewdness, much cunning, and made great
pretensions to musical and theatrical taste, and the belles lettres.
She spoke both French and Italian; ill enough, but sufficiently to
excite the admiration of those who understood neither. She had lately
persuaded Enoch to make a trip with the whole family to Paris, and she
returned with a very ample cargo of information; all very much at the
disposal of her inquisitive friends.

Her daughter, Eliza, was mamma's own child. She had an _immense deal_
of taste, no small share of vanity, and a tongue that could not tire.
She had caught the mingled cant of Enoch and her mamma, repeated
the names of public people and public places much oftener than her
prayers, and was ready to own, with no little self complacency, that
all her acquaintance told her _she was prodigious severe_.

In addition to these shining qualities, she was a musical amateur of
the first note. She could make the jacks of her harpsichord dance so
fast that no understanding ear could keep pace with them: and her
master, Signor Gridarini, affirmed every time he came to give her a
lesson, that, among all the dilettanti in Europe, there was not so
great a singer as herself. The most famous of the public performers
scarcely could equal her. In the bravura she astonished! in the
cantabile she charmed; her maŽstoso was inimitable! and her adagios!
Oh! they were ravishing! killing. She indeed openly accused him of
flattering her; but Signor Gridarini appealed both to his honour and
his friends; the best judges in Europe, who as she well knew all said
the same.

Of personal beauty she herself was satisfied that the Gods had kindly
granted her a full share. 'Tis true, her stature was dwarfish: but
then, she had so genteel an air! Her staymaker was one of the ablest
in town. Her complexion could not but be to her mind, for it was of
her own making. The only thing that she could not correct to her
perfect satisfaction was a something of a cast with her eyes; which
especially when she imitated Enoch in making herself agreeable, was
very like squinting. Not but that the thought squinting itself a
pleasing kind of blemish. Nay there were instances in which she
scarcely knew if it could be called a blemish.

By these two ladies I was received with no little distinction. The
mother recollected the earl and the bishop; the daughter surveyed my
person, with which she was almost as well satisfied as with her own.
I heard her tell her female acquaintance, during the evening, that
she thought me _immense_ well bred; and that in her opinion I was
_prodigious_ handsome; and, when they smiled, she added that she spoke
with perfect _song fro_, and merely as a person of some critical

I could indeed have corrected her English grammar, and her French
pronunciation; but I was not at this time so fastidious; as to accuse
her of any mistake in judgment, in the opinion she gave of me.

My musical talents gained me additional favour. Miss Eliza was quite
in raptures to hear that I could accompany her in a concerto; or
take a part in an Italian duet. She vowed and protested again, to
her friends, that I was a most accomplished, charming man! She spoke
aside, but I was rather remarkably quick of hearing that evening. She
proposed a lesson of Kozeluch's immediately. I should play the violin
accompaniment, and her papa _as it was very easy_ would take the bass.

All voices, for there was _a prodigious large party_ by this time,
were loud in their assent. Every body was sure, before any body heard,
it would be _monstrous fine_; so there was no refusing. The fiddles
were tuned, the books were placed, the candles were snuffed, the chord
was struck, and off we went, _Allegro con strepito!_

We obeyed the composer's commands, and played with might and main
during the first thirty or forty bars, till the _obligato_ part came,
in which Miss was to exhibit her powers. She then, with all the
dignity of a _maťstro di capella_ directed two intersecting rays full
at Enoch, and called aloud, _piano_! After which casting a gracious
smile to me, as much as to say I did not mean you, Sir; she heaved up
an attitude with her elbows, gave a short cough to encourage herself,
and proceeded.

Her fears give her no embarrassment, thought I, and all will be well.
I could not have been more mistaken. The very first difficult passage
she came to shewed me she was an ignorant pretender. Time, tune,
and recollection were all lost. I was obliged to be silent in the
accompaniment, for I knew as little what was become of her as she
herself did. Enoch knew no more than either of us, but he kept
strumming on. He was used to it, and his ears were not easily

She certainly intended to have been very positive, but was at last
obliged to come to a full stop; and, again casting an indignant squint
at her father, she exclaimed 'Lord, Sir! I declare, there is no
keeping with you!' 'No: nor with you neither!' said Enoch. 'Will you
have the goodness to begin again, Mr. Trevor?' continued she. I saw no
remedy: she was commander in chief, and I obeyed.

We might have begun again and again to eternity, had we stopped
every time she failed: but as I partly perceived my silence in the
accompaniment, instead of continuing to make a discordant noise with
Enoch and herself, had chiefly disconcerted her, I determined to
rattle away. My ears were never more completely flayed! But what could
be done? Miss panted for fame, and the company wanted music!

We had the good luck to find one another out at the last bar, and gave
a loud stroke to conclude with; which was followed by still louder
applause. It was vastly fine! _excessive_ charming! Miss was a
ravishing performer, and every soul in the room was distractingly fond
of music! 'There!' said Enoch, taking off his spectacles. 'There,
ladies! Now you hear things done as they should be!'

Not satisfied with this specimen, we must next sing an Italian trio;
for Enoch, like Miss, could sing as well as he could play. But it was
the old story over again: 'things done as they should be.'

The company by this time were pretty well satisfied; though their
praise continued to be extravagant. Miss however would fain have
treated them with a little more; and, when she found me obstinate in
my negative, she, with a half reprimanding half applauding tap with
her fan, for we were by this time very familiar acquaintance, told me
that great performers were always tired sooner than their auditors!

While Miss had been thus busied, her mamma had not been idle. She and
her friends, who were so fond of music, had frequently in full gabble
joined the _con strepito_ chorus, and quite completed that kind of
harmony in which our concert excelled. Add to which there was the
rattling of the card tables, placed ready by her order during the
music; for she was too good an economist to lose time. But she
professed to have a delicate ear. Enoch had taught her to know when
things were done as they should be.

The concert being ended and the cards ready, I was invited to draw
for partners. One elderly lady was particularly pressing. I excused
myself, and Miss said pouting to her mamma, but looking traverse at
the elderly lady, 'Law mamma, you are so teazing! We have made up a
little _conversazione_ party of our own, and you want to spoil it by
taking Mr. Trevor from us! I declare,' continued she, turning her back
on the card tables and lowering her voice, 'that old Tabby is never
contented but when she is at her honours and her tricks! But let her
alone! She never goes away a loser! She has more tricks than honours!'

I presume it was not the first time that she had said this good thing;
at least it was not the last, for I heard it every time afterward that
the parties met on a like occasion. The old lady however contrived
before they broke up to weary me into compliance. I played a single
rubber, lost a guinea, and was asked for my half crown to put under
the candlestick. I say, asked; for I have before observed that I
came up to London ignorant of every point of good breeding. I could
not have surmised that the six packs of half dirty cards were to be
subscribed for by the company at half a crown a head.


_Politics and patriotism of a lord: A grand undertaking: Sublime
effusions, or who but I: Politics and taste of Enoch: The honey
changed to gall, or rules for fine writers_

The next day about noon, his lordship sent his compliments, informing
me he should be glad of my company. I hastened to him, eager to have
an opportunity privately to display, before a lord, my knowledge, wit,
and understanding.

After a short introductory dialogue, his lordship turned the
conversation on politics, and it so happened that, though my ideas
on this subject were but feeble and ill arranged, yet it had not
wholly escaped my attention. While I was at Oxford, the want of a
parliamentary reform had agitated the whole nation, and was too real
and glaring an evil not to be convincing to a young and unprejudiced
mind. The extension of the excise laws had likewise produced in me
strong feelings of anger; and the enormous and accumulating national
debt had been described to me as a source of imminent, absolute, and
approaching ruin.

These and similar ideas though all more or less crude I detailed, and
concluded my creed with asserting my conviction that government used
corrupt and immoral means, and that these were destructive of the end
which it meant to obtain.

His lordship was quite in raptures to hear me; and declared he could
not have expected such sound doctrine, from so young a man. 'Yes, Mr.
Trevor,' continued he, 'government is indeed corrupt! It has opposed
me in three elections; one for a county, the others for two popular
boroughs. The opposition has cost me fifty thousand pounds, and I lost
them all. Time was when the minister might have made me his friend;
but I am now his irreconcilable enemy, and I will hang upon his skirts
and never quit him, no, not for a moment, till he is turned out of
office with disgrace. He ought not to have angered me, for I and my
friends kept aloof: he knew I did, and he might--But now I have openly
joined the opposition, and nothing less than his ruin shall satisfy
me! I am exceedingly happy, Mr. Trevor, to find you reason so justly
on these subjects; and to say the truth I shall be very glad of your

I answered his lordship that I should be equally glad, if I could
contribute to the good government and improvement of mankind by
correcting their present errors; and that the vices I had mentioned,
and every other vice that I could discover, I should always think it
my duty to oppose.

'That,' answered his lordship, 'is right, Mr. Trevor! You speak
my own sentiments! Opposition, strong severe and bitter, is what
I am determined on! Your principles and mine are the same, and I
am resolved he shall repent of having made me his enemy! We will
communicate our thoughts to each other, and as you are a young man
whose talents were greatly esteemed at ---- college, and who know how
to place arguments in a striking form, I have no doubt of our success.
I will make him shake in his seat!'

His lordship then drew a whole length picture first of his own griefs,
and next of the present state of representation, and the known
dependence and profligacy of the minister's adherents, which highly
excited my indignation. My heart exulted in the correction which I
was determined to bestow on them all; and I made not the least doubt
but that I should soon be able to write down the minister, load his
partizans with contempt, and banish such flagitious proceedings from
the face of the earth.

With these all sufficient ideas of myself, and many professions of
esteem and friendship from the earl, I retired to begin a series of
letters, that were to rout the minister, reform the world, and convey
my fame to the latest posterity. I had already perused Junius as a
model of style, had been enraptured with his masculine ardor, and had
no doubt but that the hour was now come in which he was to be rivaled.

I could not disguise from myself that the motives of his lordship were
not of the purest kind: but I had formed no expectations in favour
of his morals; and, if the end at which he aimed was a good one, his
previous mistakes must be pardoned. He had engaged me in a delightful
task, had given me an opportunity of exerting my genius and of
publishing my thoughts to the world, and I sat down to my labours with
transport and zeal.

So copious was my elocution that in less than four hours I had filled
eight pages of paper; two of which at least were Greek and Latin
quotations, from Aristotle, Demosthenes, and Cicero. I meant to
astonish mankind with my erudition! All shall acknowledge, said I,
that a writer of wit, energy, and genius is at last sprung up; one
who is profoundly skilled too in classical learning. My whole soul
was bent on saying strong things, fine things, learned things, pretty
things, good things, wise things, and severe things. Never was there
more florid railing. My argument was a kind of pitiful Jonas, and my
words were the whale in which it was swallowed up.

I was quite enamoured of my performance, and was impatient for twelve
o'clock the next day, that his lordship might admire it! In the mean
time, to allay my insatiable thirst of praise, I took it to upright
Enoch. When the reverend little man heard that I was employed by his
lordship to write on affairs of government, he declared it as a thing
decided that my fortune was made: but he dropped his under lip when
told that I had attacked the minister--Was prodigiously sorry!--That
was the wrong side--Ministers paid well for being praised; but they
gave nothing, except fine, imprisonment, and pillory, for blame.

I heard him with contempt, but was too eager in my thirst of
approbation to make any reply, except by urging him to read. He put on
his spectacles and began, but blundered so wretchedly that I was soon
out of patience; and taking the paper from him began to read myself.

No one will doubt but that he was the first to be tired. However, he
said it was fine; and was quite surprised to hear me read Greek with
such sonorous volubility. For his part it was long since he had read
such authors: to which I sarcastically yielded my ready assent. He had
partly forgotten them, he said. Indeed! answered I. My tone signified
he never knew them--'but you think the composition good do you
not?'--'Oh, it is fine! Prodigiously fine!'

Fine was the word, and with fine I was obliged to be satisfied. As for
prodigious, it sometimes had meaning and sometimes none: it depended
on emphasis and action. I knew indeed that he was no great orator;
otherwise I should have expected an eulogium that might have rivaled
the French academy, the odes of Boileau, or even my own composition.

I was still hungry: my vanity wanted more food, much more, though I
knew not where to seek it. To write down a minister was such a task,
and I had begun it in so sublime a style, that rest I could not:
though it was with great difficulty, having done with Enoch, that I
could escape from Miss and her mamma.

They were dressed to go to a party, and they insisted that I should
go with them. It would give their friends such _monstrous_ pleasure,
and they should all be so _immense_ happy, that go I must. But their
rhetoric was vain. I was upon thorns; there were no hopes that the
party would listen to my manuscript; and as I could not read it to
others, I must go home and read it to myself.

As I was going, Miss followed me to the door, called up one of her
significant traverse glances, and told me she was sure I was a
prodigious rake! But no wonder! All the fine men were rakes!

I returned to my chamber, read again and again, added new flowers,
remembered new quotations, and inserted new satire. Enoch had told me
it was fine, yet I never could think it was fine enough.

Night came, but with it little inclination in me to sleep: and in the
morning I was up and at work, reading, correcting and embellishing my
letter before I could well distinguish a word. About nine o'clock,
while I was rehearsing aloud in the very heat of oratory, two chairmen
knocked at my door and interrupted my revery: they were come to take
away the trunk of Turl. The thought struck me and I immediately
inquired--'Is the gentleman himself here?' I was answered in the
affirmative, and I requested one of the men to go and inform him that
an old acquaintance was above, who would be very glad to speak a word
with him.

Mr. Turl came, was surprised to see me, and as I received him
kindly answered me in the same tone. At college he had acquired the
reputation of a scholar, a good critic, and a man of strong powers of
mind. The discovery of a diamond mine would not have given me so much
pleasure, as the meeting him at this lucky moment! He was the very
person I wanted. He was a judge, and I should have praise as much as I
could demand! The beauties of my composition would all be as visible
to him as they were to myself. They were too numerous, too strong,
too striking to escape his notice; they would flash upon him at every
line, would create astonishment, inspire rapture, and hold him in one
continual state of acclamation and extacy!

I requested him to sit down, apologized, told him I had a favour to
ask, took up my manuscript, smiled, put it in his hand, stroked my
chin, and begged him to read and tell me its faults. I had a perfect
dependence on his good taste, and nobody could be more desirous of
hearing the truth and correcting their errors than I was! Nobody!

I was surprised to observe that he felt some reluctance, and attempted
to excuse himself: but I was too importunate, and the devil of vanity
was too strong in me, to be resisted. I pleaded, with great eloquence
and much more truth than I myself suspected, how necessary it was
in order to attain excellence that men should communicate with each
other, should boldly declare their opinions, and patiently listen to

Thus urged by arguments which he knew to be excellent, and hoping from
my zeal that I knew the same, he complied, took out his pencil, and
began his task.

He went patiently through it, without any apparent emotion or delay,
except frequently to make crosses with his pencil. Never was mortal
more amazed than I was at his incomprehensible coldness! 'Has he no
feeling?' said I. 'Is he dead? No token of admiration! no laughter! no
single pause of rapture!' It was astonishing beyond all belief!

Having ended, he put down the manuscript, and said not a word!

This was a mortification not to be supported. Speak he must. I endured
his silence perhaps half a minute, perhaps a whole one, but it was an
age! 'I am afraid, Mr. Turl,' said I, 'you are not very well pleased
with what you have read?'

The tone of my voice, the paleness of my lips, and the struggling
confusion of my eyes sufficiently declared my state of mind, and he
made no answer. My irritability increased. 'What, Sir,' said I, 'is it
so contemptible a composition as to be wholly unworthy your notice?'

I communicated much of the torture which I felt, but collecting
himself he looked at me with some compassion and much stedfastness,
and answered--'I most sincerely wish, Mr. Trevor, that what I have
to say, since you require me to speak, were exactly that which you
expected I should say. I confess, it gives me some pain to perceive
that you mistook your own motives, when you desired me to read
and mark what I might think to be faults. You imagined there were
no faults! forgetting that no human effort is without them. The
longer you write the less you will be liable to the error of that
supposition.'--'Perhaps, Sir, you discover nothing but faults?'--'Far
the contrary: I have discovered the first great quality of genius.'

This was a drop of reviving cordial, and I eagerly asked--'What is
that?'--'Energy. But, like the courage of Don Quixote, it is ill
directed; it runs a tilt at sheep and calls them giants.' 'Go on,
Sir,' said I: 'continue your allegory.'--'Its beauties are courtezans,
its enchanted castles pitiful hovels, and its Mambrino's helmet is no
better than a barber's bason.' 'But pray, Sir, be candid, and point
out all its defects!--All!'--'I am sorry to observe, Mr. Trevor,
that my candour has already been offensive to your feelings. If we
would improve our faculties, we must not seek unmerited praise, but
resolutely listen to truth.'--'Why, Sir, should you suppose I seek
unmerited praise.'

He made no reply, and I repeated my requisition, that he should point
out all the defects of my manuscript: once more, all, all! 'The
defects, Mr. Trevor,' said he, 'are many of them such as are common
to young writers; but some of them are peculiar to writers whose
imagination is strong, and whose judgment is unformed. Paradoxical as
it may seem, it is a disadvantage to your composition that you have
the right side of the question. Diffuse and unconnected arguments, a
style loaded with epithets and laborious attempts in the writer to
display himself, are blemishes that give less offence when employed
to defend error than when accumulated in the cause of truth, which is
forgotten and lost under a profusion of ornaments. The difficulties of
composition resemble those of geometry: they are the recollection of
things so simple and convincing that we imagine we never can forget
them; yet they are frequently forgotten at every step, and in every
sentence. There is one best and clearest way of stating a proposition,
and that alone ought to be chosen: yet how often do we find the same
argument repeated and repeated and repeated, with no variety except in
the phraseology? In developing any thought, we ought not to encumber
it by trivial circumstances: we ought to say all that is necessary,
and not a word more. We ought likewise to say one thing at once; and
that concluded to begin another. We certainly write to be understood,
and should therefore never write in a language that is unknown to a
majority of our readers. The rule will apply as well to the living
languages as to the dead, and its infringement is but in general
a display of the author's vanity. Epithets, unless they increase
the strength of thought or elucidate the argument, ought not to be
admitted. Of similes, metaphors, and figures of every kind the same
may be affirmed: whatever does not enlighten confuses. There are two
extremes, against which we ought equally to guard: not to give a dry
skeleton, bones without flesh; nor an imbecile embryo, flesh without

'I understand you, Sir. What you have read is an imbecile
embryo?'--'Your importunity, Mr. Trevor, and my desire to do you
service have extorted an opinion from me. I must not shrink from the
truth: in confirmation of what I have already said, I must add, that
your composition is strong in language, but weak in argument.'--'Ha!
Much declamation, little thought?'

He was once more silent for a few seconds, and then assuming a less
serious tone, endeavoured to turn the conversation by inquiring if I
were come to reside in London, and to live with his lordship? I took
care to inform him that I considered myself as a visitor in the house;
and that I meant to take my degrees, be ordained, and devote myself to
the church.

I then attempted to bring him back to the manuscript; but
ineffectually: he seemed determined to say no more. This silence was
painful to both of us, and after I had inquired where he lived, and
made some professions, which formal civility wrung from me, that I
should be glad to see him again, we parted. We were neither of us
entirely satisfied with the other; and I certainly much the least.

The lesson however did me infinite service. The film was in part
removed from my eyes, in my own despite. I read again, but with a very
different spirit: his marks in the margin painfully met my eye, with
endless repetition. The rules he had been delivering were strong in my
memory, and I frequently discovered their application. After the clear
statement he had given of them, I could but seldom bring myself to
doubt of their justice.

The result was, I immediately went to work; and, disgusted with my
first performance, began another. In truth, my too much confidence and
haste had made me guilty of many mistakes; which I knew to be such,
the moment my vanity had been a little sobered into common sense. I
had often written before, and perhaps never so ill.

I now arranged my thoughts, omitted my quotations, discarded many of
my metaphors, shortened my periods, simplified my style, reduced the
letter to one fourth of its former length, and finished the whole by
one o'clock. His lordship was not so fastidious a critic as I thought
Turl had been; he was delighted with my performance. It is true he
made some corrections and additions, in places where I had not been
so personal and acrimonious, against the minister, as his feelings
required; but, as he accompanied them with praise, I readily
submitted; and, thus improved, my first political essay was committed
to the press.


_Further efforts of critical improvement: Doubts of a serious kind
suggested: More politics and new acquaintance: A dissertation on

The critical precepts of Turl were still tingling in my ears; and as
I meant to shew the bishop some of the sermons that I had written, or
in other words as many as he should be willing to read, they underwent
an immediate revisal. Though in general they were less faulty than my
post-haste political effort, yet I found quite enough to correct; and
was so far reconciled to the benefit I had derived from Turl as to
wish to meet him again.

In two or three days therefore, after having expunged, interlined,
and polished one of my best performances till I was tolerably well
satisfied with it, I visited him at his lodgings. I then owned to him,
that I had not received the castigation he gave me quite so patiently
as I ought to have done: but I had nevertheless profited by it, and
was come to request more favours of the same kind; though I could not
but acknowledge I had hopes that my present performance was not quite
so defective as the former.

He received me kindly, but took the manuscript I offered him with what
I again thought great coldness. He read two or three pages, without as
before drawing his pencil upon me, and then paused. 'You have enjoined
me a task,' said he, 'Mr. Trevor, which I do not know how to execute
to my own satisfaction. You are not aware of the truth, and if I
tell it you I shall offend.'--'Nay, Sir; I beg you will not spare
me. Speak!'--'You have not explicitly defined to yourself your own
motives: you think you are come in search of improvement; in reality,
you are come in search of praise.'--'Not unless praise be my
due.'--'Which you are convinced it is.'--'You see deeply into the
human heart, Mr. Turl.'--'If I do not, I am ill qualified to criticise
literary compositions.'--'And you think my divinity no better than my
politics?'--'You do not state the question as I could wish. Divinity
I must acknowledge is not a favourite subject with me.'--'I have
heard as much.'--'I am too sincere a friend to morality to encourage
dissention, quarrels, and enmity, concerning things which whoever
may pretend to believe no one can prove that he understands. As a
composition, from the little I have read, I believe your sermon to be
very superior to your letter; but from the exposition of your subject,
I perceive it treats on points of faith, asserts church authority, and
stigmatises dissent with reprobation. You tell me you are recommended
to a bishop: with him it will do you service! to me it is

His inclination to heresy, or, which is the same thing, his difference
with me in opinion, piqued me on this occasion even more than the
unsparing sincerity of his remarks. I answered, I was sorry he did not
agree with me, on subjects which I was convinced were so momentous;
and owned it was for that reason that, while he remained at the
university, I had avoided his society.

He replied, he doubted if it were right to avoid the vicious: and the
precaution which he himself thought necessary, on all such occasions,
was to inquire whether, in accusing another of vice, he were not
himself guilty of error. He considered his own opinions as eternally
open to revision; and if any man were to tell him that two and two did
not make four, he should have no objection to re-examine the facts,
with his opponent, on which his own previous conviction had been
founded. We ought to be ardent in the defence of truth; but we ought
likewise to be patient and benevolent.

I made some attempts to convince him of the impiety of his scepticism;
while he remained cool, but unshaken; and I left him with mingled
emotions of pity, for his adherence to doctrines so damnable; and
of admiration, at the amenity and philanthropy with which they were

Thus catechised in criticism and theology, the ardour of my pursuits
would perhaps have found some temporary abatement, had it not been
rouzed anew. My letter had appeared, signed Themistocles, his
lordship's known political cognomen. It was the first in which he had
declared openly against the minister. His sentiments in consequence of
this letter were become public, and many of the minority, desirous of
fixing in their interest one whom they had before considered rather
as their opponent than their friend, came to visit and pay him their

The resolute manner in which I had purposely and uniformly shewn him
that I must be treated as his equal had produced its intended effect:
I was dismissed with no haughty nod, but came and went as I pleased,
and frequently bore a part in their conversation. I had still an open
ear for vanity, which was not a little tickled by the frequent terms
of applause and admiration with which Themistocles was quoted. His
lordship did me the justice to inform his visitors that the letter
was written by me. We had indeed conversed together; they were his
thoughts, his principles, and it was true he had made such additions
and corrections as were necessary. Then, proceeding to invectives
against the minister, he there dropped me, and my share of merit.

The mortification of this was the greater because truth and falsehood
were so mingled that, however inclined I might be, I knew not which
way to do myself justice. But the praise, which they bestowed wholly
on his lordship and which his lordship was willing to receive, I very
unequivocally took to myself. It gave me animation; the pen was seldom
out of my hand, and the exercise was sanative.

Mean while Enoch and his agreeable family, who knew so well when
things were as they should be, were not neglected. I was careful to
inform them of my rising fame; and my new friends, for so I accounted
all those who paid their court to his lordship and his lordship's
favourite, were individually named, characterised, and celebrated.

The family heard me with avidity, each desirous of having a share in
a lord, and the friends of a lord. Enoch told me I was in high luck,
mamma affirmed I was a fine writer, and Miss was sure I must be a
_monstrous favourite_! I was a favourite with every body; and, for her
part, she did not wonder at it. 'Not but it is a great pity,' added
she, aside, 'that you are such a rake, Mr. Trevor.'

This repeated charge very justly alarmed my morality, and I very
seriously began a refutation. But in vain. I might say what I would;
she could see very plainly I was a prodigious rake, and nothing could
convince her to the contrary. Though she had heard that your greatest
rakes make the best husbands. Perhaps it might be true, but she did
not think she could be persuaded to make the venture. She did not know
what might happen, to be sure; though she really did not think she
could. She could not conceive how it was, but some how or another she
always found something agreeable about rakes. It was a great pity they
should be rakes, but she verily believed the women loved them, and
encouraged them in their seducing arts. For her part, she would keep
her fingers out of the fire as long as she could: but, if it were her
destiny to love a rake, what could she do? Nobody could help being in
love, and it would be very hard indeed to call what one cannot help a

In this key would she continue, without let or delay, whenever she
had me to herself, till some accident came to my relief: for the
philosophy of Miss Eliza, on the subjects of love and rakishness, was
exhaustless; and though it could not always convince, it could puzzle.
I often knew not how to behave, such a warfare did she sometimes
kindle between inclination and morality. My resource was in silence;
hers in talking. Notwithstanding her very great prudence, I suspect
there might have been danger, had I not been guarded by the three fold
shield of an unfashionable sense of moral right, strong aspirings
after clerical purity, and the unfaded remembrance of the lovely
chaste Olivia.


_Enoch made acquainted with more of my perfections, which by his
advice are brought to market: A bishop's parlour: The bishop
himself, or a true pillar of the church: Heretical times and arduous

New honours awaited me. My lord the bishop was come to town, of which
Enoch had providently taken care to have instant notice. Among the
other good things I had related of myself, I had not forgotten to tell
Enoch of the several sermons I had written; nor to shew him that which
I had corrected and taken to Turl.

I had another attainment, of which too I did not neglect to inform
him; for it was one of which I was not a little proud. Much of my
time, during my residence at Oxford, had been devoted to the study
of polemical divinity, or the art of abuse, extracted from the
scriptures, the fathers, and the different doctors of different
faiths. The points that had most attracted my attention were the
disputes concerning the Athanasian creed, and the thirty-nine
articles. On both these subjects I had made many extracts, many
remarks, and collected many authorities; for I had subscribed the
thirty-nine articles, and consequently the Athanasian creed, and what
I had done it became me to defend. This is the maxim of all people,
who think it more worthy their dignity to be consistent in error than
to forget self, revere truth, and retract.

I had beside been well educated for this kind of pertinacity. The
rector, when living, was so sternly orthodox as to hold the slightest
deviation from church authority in abhorrence. What he meant by church
authority, or what any rational man can mean, it might be difficult to
define: except that church authority and orthodox opinions are, with
each individual, those precise points which that individual makes a
part of his creed. But as, unfortunately for church authority, no two
individuals ever had or ever can have the same creed, church authority
is like a body in motion, no man can tell where it resides. At that
time I thought otherwise, and then as now did not refrain from
speaking what I thought.

In addition to the other arts of pleasing, which the industrious Enoch
had acquired, that of maintaining orthodox doctrines in the presence
of orthodox people was one. He was glad to find me so deep a
proficient; for to what market could we so profitably carry such ware
as to the levee of a bishop?

The little man, scrupulously attentive to whatever might advance me
or him in the good graces of the right reverend, advised me to put my
corrected sermon in my pocket; which, with or without his advice, I
suspect I should have done. 'These particulars,' said the provident
Enoch, 'must every one of them be told. But be you under no concern;
leave all that to me. Merit you know is always modest.'

Though I had not on this occasion the courage to contradict him, I
doubted the truth of his apothegm. The good qualities I could discover
in myself I wished to have noticed; and if nobody else would notice
them I must. Like other people, I have too frequently been desirous to
make my principles bend to my practice.

Though the door was the door of a bishop and we had the text in
our favour, 'Knock and it shall be opened,' yet Enoch, no doubt
remembering his own good breeding, was too cautious to ask if his
lordship were at home. He bade the servant say that a clergyman of the
church of England and a young gentleman from Oxford, bringing letters
from the president of ---- college and other dignitaries of the
university, requested an audience.

The message was delivered, and we were ushered into a parlour,
the walls of which were decorated with the heads of the English
archbishops, surrounding Hogarth's modern midnight conversation. There
was not a book in the room; but there were six or eight newspapers.
With these we amused ourselves for some time, till the approach of the
bishop was announced by the creaking of his shoes, the rustling of his
silk apron, and the repeated hems with which he collected his dignity.

The moment I saw him, his presence reminded me of my old acquaintance,
the high-fed brawny doctors of Oxford. His legs were the pillars of
Hercules, his body a brewer's butt, his face the sun rising in a red
mist. We have been told that magnitude is a powerful cause of the
sublime; and if this be true, the dimensions of his lordship certainly
had a copious and indisputable claim to sublimity. He seemed born
to bear the whole hierarchy. His mighty belly heaved and his cheeks
swelled with the spiritual inflations of church power. He fixed his
open eyes upon me and surveyed me from top to toe. I too made my
remarks. 'He is a true son of the church,' said I.--The libertine
sarcasm was instantly repelled, and my train of ideas was purified
from such irreverend heresy--'He is an orthodox divine! A pillar of
truth! A Christian Bishop!' Thought is swift, and man assents and
recants before his eye can twinkle.

I delivered my credentials and he seated himself in a capacious chair,
substantially fitted to receive and sustain its burden of divinity,
and began to read. My letters were from men high in authority,
purple-robed and rotund supporters of our good _Alma Mater_, and met
with all due respect. Clearing his sonorous throat of the obstructing
phlegm, with which there seemed to be danger that he should sometime
or other be suffocated, he welcomed me to London, rejoiced to hear
that his good friends of the university were well, and professed a
desire to oblige them by serving me.

I briefly explained to him my intention of devoting myself to the
church, which he highly commended; and Enoch, who far from being idle
all this time had been acting over his agreeable arts, soon found
an opportunity of informing the right reverend father in God what
powerful connexions I had, how well skilled I was in classical
learning, how deeply I was read in theology, how orthodox my opinions
were, and to give a climax which most delighted me added that, young
as I was, I had already obtained the character of a prodigious fine

He did not indeed say all this in a breath; he took his own time, for
his oratory was always hide bound; but he took good care to have it
all said. His secret for being eloquent consisted rather in action
than in language, and now with the spiritual lord as before with
the temporal, he accompanied his speech with those insinuating
gesticulations which he had rarely found unsuccessful. He had such a
profound reverence for the episcopacy, [bowing to the ground] was so
bitter an enemy to caveling innovators, [grinning malignity] had so
full a sense of his own inferiority [contorting his countenance, like
a monkey begging for gingerbread] and humbled himself so utterly in
the presence of the powers that be that, while he spoke, the broad
cheeks of the bishop swelled true high church satisfaction; dilating
and playing like a pair of forge bellows.

My modesty was his next theme, and with it was coupled the sermons I
had written, not omitting the one I had brought in my pocket. But
his young friend was so bashful! was so fearful of intruding on his
lordship! as indeed every one must be, who had any sense of what is
always due to our superiors! Yet as the doctrines of his young friend
were so sound, and he was so true a churchman, it might perhaps happen
that his lordship would have the condescension to let one of his
chaplains read him the sermon of his young friend? He was sure it
would do him service with his lordship. Not but he was almost afraid
he had taken an unpardonable liberty, in intruding so far on his
lordship's invaluable time and patience.

Evil communication corrupts good manners. I could not equal the
adulation of Enoch; but, when I afterward came to canvas my own
conduct, I found I had followed my leader in his tracks of servility
quite far enough.

His lordship, to indicate his approbation of our duplex harangue,
graciously accepted the sermon to peruse, informed me of his day and
hour of seeing company, and invited me and my friend to become his
visitors: with which mark of holy greeting Enoch and I, well pleased,
were about to depart.

The retailer of pews recollected himself: no man could be more
desirous than Enoch not to neglect an opportunity. After more bows,
cringes, and acknowledgments not to be expressed, he requested
permission to mention to his lordship that his young friend had
made a particular branch of theology his study, of which he thought
it his duty to acquaint his lordship. In these days of doubt, rank
infidelity, and abominable schism, the danger of the church was felt
by every good and pious divine; and her most active defenders were her
best friends. His lordship would therefore perhaps be glad to hear
that Mr. Trevor had particularly devoted himself to polemics, was
intimately acquainted with the writings of the fathers and the known
orthodox divines, and was qualified to be a powerful advocate and
champion of conformity.

'Indeed!' said his lordship, with open ears and eyes. 'I am very
glad to hear it! Have you written any thing, Mr. Trevor, on
these subjects?'--'I have made many references, memorandums, and
preparatory remarks, my lord.'--'Then you intend to write!'--I saw
the satisfaction with which the affirmative was likely to be received
and boldly answered, 'I do, my lord.'--'I am very glad to hear it!
I am very glad to hear it!'--'Shall I do myself the honour to bring
my manuscript, as soon as it is written, and consult your lordship's
judgment?'--'By all means, Mr. Trevor! By all means! These are weighty
matters. The church was never more virulently and scandalously
attacked than she has been lately! The most heretical and damnable
doctrines are daily teeming from the press! Not only infidels and
atheists, but the vipers which the church has nurtured in her own
bosom are rising up to sting her! Her canons are brought into
contempt, her tests trampled on, and her dignitaries daily insulted!
The hierarchy is in danger! The bishops totter on their bench! We are
none of us safe.'

To the reality of this picture I readily assented. 'But,' said I, 'my
lord, we have the instruments of defence in our own power: we have
the scriptures, the fathers, the doctors of our church and all the
authorities for us. The only thing we want is a hero, qualified to
bear this cumbrous armour, and to wield these massy weapons.'

The words, 'that hero am I,' quivered on my tongue; and, if my teeth
had not resolutely denied them a passage, out they would have bolted.

His lordship agreed that the truth was all on our side: and for his
part he wished it to be thundered forth, so as at once to crush and
annihilate all heretics, and their damnable doctrines!

'Since I am encouraged by your lordship,' said I, 'this shall be the
first labour of my life; and, though I grant it is Herculean, I have
little doubt of executing it effectually.' His lordship, though not
quite so certain of my success as I was, in the name of the church,
again gave his hearty assent; and we, with smiles, thanks, and bows in
abundance, took our leave: Enoch with a fine pisgah prospect of the
land of promise; and I another Caleb, bearing away the luscious grapes
I had been gathering, on which my fancy licentiously banqueted.


_Beatific visions: Irons enough in the fire: Egotism and oratory:
Hints on elocution_

This sudden elevation to fame and fortune, for I had not the smallest
doubt that so it was, this double-election of me, who alone perhaps
had the power to execute such mighty tasks, was more than even I,
sanguine as my expectations had been, could have hoped! To rout
politicians and extirpate heresy, to pull down a minister and become
the buttress of the church, to reform the state and establish the
hierarchy, was indeed a glorious office! Honour and power were
suspended over my head: I had but to cut the thread and they would
drop and crown me.

But which should I choose; to be the pillar of the state, or the head
of the hierarchy? a prime minister, or an archbishop? The question was
embarrassing, and it was not quite pleasant that I could not be both.

I did not however forget that I had first some few labours to perform;
to which therefore, with all my might, I immediately applied. My busy
brain had now fit employment, politics and divinity; but was puzzled
with which to begin. The table at which I wrote was richly strewed
with invectives, now hurled at state profligacy, now thundered against
the non-conforming crew. It was my determination to spare neither
friend nor foe. I often remembered the Zoilus Turl, and his heretical
opinions; and was ready to exclaim, in the language of the patient
Job, 'Oh that his words were now written! Oh that they were printed in
a book!' The dictatorial spirit of his reproof, for so I characterised
it, had wounded me deeply; and, though I was not depraved enough to
feel rancour, I ardently wished for the means to come, pen in hand,
to a fair combat; for I feared no mortal wight: if I had, he perhaps
would have been the man. It will hereafter be seen that my wish was

Some days were wasted in this state of indecision; in which I did
little, except write detached thoughts and contemplate the sublime
and beautiful of my subjects; till I was rouzed from this lethargy of
determination by a hint from his lordship, that it was necessary for
Themistocles to appear abroad again; lest his enemies should say he
was silenced, and his friends fear he was dead.

A second political letter was then quickly produced; in which, with
the fear of Turl before my eyes and carefully conning over his whole
lesson, I profited by that advice which I half persuaded myself I
despised. I wrote not only with more judgment but with increasing
ardour, and the effects were visible: the second composition was much
better than the first.

The dish too was seasoned to the palate of him for whom I catered. I
peppered salted and deviled the minister, till his lordship was in
raptures! It was indeed dressed much more to the taste of the times
than I myself was aware. It was better calculated to gall, annoy, and
alarm a corrupt system than if I had produced a better composition.

Not only the satellites but the leading men of opposition began now to
pay their respects to his lordship. In his company I had the pleasure
of meeting several of them, and of being frequently surprised by the
readiness of their wit, the acuteness of their remarks, their depth of
penetration, comprehensive powers, and fertility of genius. Mr. ***
himself came occasionally to visit his lordship, so strenuous and
sincere did he appear to be in his political conduct.

During this intercourse, and particularly in these conversations, I
had sufficient opportunities of studying his lordship's character.
He was selfish, ignorant, positive, and proud: yet he affected
generosity, talked on every subject as if it were familiar to him,
asserted his claim to the most undeviating candour, and would even
affect contempt for dignities and distinctions, when they were not the
reward of merit. 'A nobleman might by accident possess talents; but
he was free to confess that the dignity of his birth could not confer
them. He would rather be Mr. *** (Mr. *** was present) than a prince
of the blood. He panted to distinguish himself by qualities that were
properly his own, and had little veneration for the false varnish of
ancestry. Were that of any worth, he had as much reason to be vain as
any man perhaps in the kingdom: his family came in with the Conqueror,
at which time it was respectable: it had produced men, through all its
branches, whose names were no disgrace to history.' Then summoning an
additional quantity of candor he added--'There have been many fools
among them, no doubt; and I am afraid some knaves; but what have I
to do with their knavery, folly, or wisdom? Society, it is true, has
thought fit to recompense me for their virtues: such is the order of
things. But I cannot persuade myself that I have received the least
tarnish from any of their vices. I am a friend to the philosophy
of the times, and would have every man measured by the standard of
individual merit.'

These liberal sentiments were delivered on the first visit he received
from the leader of the minority. Anger, self interest, and the desire
of revenge had induced him to adopt the same political principles:
anger, self interest, and the desire of revenge induced him to
endeavour after the same elevation of mind. Esop is dead, but his frog
and his ox are still to be found.

At this interview, the conversation turned on the last debate in both
houses, in which the merits of the speakers were canvassed, and
his lordship was severe to virulence against his opponents. He had
harangued in the upper house himself; but as his delivery, for it
could not be called elocution, was slow, hesitating, and confused, no
one ventured to mention his speech.

This was a severe mortification. Among his mistakes, that of believing
himself an accomplished orator was not the least conspicuous. Unable
any longer to support their silence, he quoted his speech himself:
though, with that candor which was continually at the tip of his
tongue, he acknowledged it was possible perhaps for him to have
delivered his sentiments in a more terse and pointed manner. 'But no
man', said he, addressing himself to Mr. *** 'no man knows better than
you, how arduous a task it is to speak with eloquence.'

Mr. *** was dumb: but the appellant and the appellee were relieved by
the less delicate intervention of one of the company; who declared,
perhaps with malicious irony, he never heard his lordship to
greater advantage. 'Do you think so,' said the peer, turning to his
panegyrist. 'No. I believe you are mistaken. I never can satisfy
myself! I am so fastidious in the choice of my phrases! I dislike this
word, I reject that, and do not know where to find one that pleases
me. I certainly think, for my part, that I spoke vilely. The duke
indeed and lord Piper both declared they never heard me greater: but I
cannot believe it. Though Sir Francis, who went to the house purposely
to hear me, positively swears it was the first speech I ever made: the
house had seldom, I believe he said, never heard its equal! Indeed
he called it divine; and some affirm he is one of the best judges of
elocution in the kingdom. But I am sure he is wrong. I know myself
better. I was not quite in the cue; had not absolutely the true feel,
as I may say, of my subject. Though I own I was once or twice a little
pleased with myself. There might perhaps be something like an approach
to good speaking; I dare not imagine it was great. It was not, I
believe, indeed I am sure, it was not every thing I could have wished.
I am not often satisfied with others, and with myself still seldomer.'

To all this self equity and abstinence, Mr. ***, to whom it was again
addressed, made no other answer than that he had not the pleasure to
hear his lordship. But the candid peer, in imitation of the poets of
the days of Louis XIV and Charles II continued to be the censurer and
eulogist of himself.

To change the dull theme, one of the company inquired, what is the
reason that many men, who are eloquent in the closet, should stammer
themselves into confusion and incapacity, when they attempt to
speak in public? To this Mr. *** returned the following acute and
philosophical reply.

'A happy choice of words, after we have obtained ideas, is one of the
most constant labours of the person who attempts to write, or speak,
with energy. This induces a habit in the writer or speaker to be
satisfied with difficulty. Desirous of giving the thought he has
conceived its full force, he never imagines the terms and epithets
he has selected to be sufficiently expressive. If, after having
accustomed himself to write, it be his wish to exert his powers as a
public speaker, he must counteract this habit; and, instead of being
severe in the choice of his words, must resolutely accept the first
that present themselves, encourage the flow of thought, and leave
epithets and phraseology to chance. Neither will his intrepidity, when
once acquired, go unrewarded: the happiest language will frequently
rush upon him, if, neglecting words, he do but keep his attention
confined to thoughts. Of thoughts too it is rather necessary for
him to deliver them boldly, following his immediate conceptions and
explaining away inaccuracies as they occur, than to seek severe
precision in the first instance. Hesitation is the death of eloquence;
and precision, like every other power, will increase by being
exercised. It is doubtless understood that I do not speak of orations
already written and digested; but of speeches in reply, in which any
laboured preparation is impossible.'

His lordship applauded the solution of the difficulty, and some of the
company observed the orator had given the history of his own mind.


_Literary labours continued: The thermometer of hope still rising: The
sermon and the disappointed cravings of vanity_

To carry on two controversies at the same time was certainly
favourable to neither; except that abuse, or something very like it,
being the key common to both, the subjects were so far in unison.
Politics afforded me strong temptations, but theology was still
predominant. The thirty-nine articles consequently were not neglected.
Memory was taxed, my own manuscripts were examined, and authorities
were consulted. His lordship's library abounded in political
information, but not in theological, and I had recourse to that of the
British Museum.

I did not indeed compose with all the rapidity with which I wrote
my first political effusion; for I had not only been rendered more
cautious, but, exclusive of the conversations and employment which the
peer afforded me, a regular attention was to be paid to the levees of
the bishop.

To these the sedulous Enoch carefully accompanied me; for no man
pursued his own interest, as far as he understood it, with greater
avidity. Circumstances were unfavourable, or he would certainly have
been a bishop himself. Learning, talents, and virtue might have been
dispensed with, but not these and the total want of patronage.

The bishop, finding us thus continually paired, one day gave me a
hint that he should be glad to see me the next time alone. Without
suspecting the motive, I was careful to comply with the request; and
the ensuing morning, the right reverend dignitary, no other person
being present, gave me to understand that he had read my sermon with

After this and various other circumlocutory efforts and hints, he at
last spoke more plainly. The subject was a good one, and he had an
inclination to deliver it himself, at one of the cathedrals where he
intended to preach. But then it must be in consequence of a positive
assurance, from me, that I should act with discretion. He did not want
sermons; he had enough: but this pleased him: though, if it were known
it were a borrowed discourse, especially borrowed from so young a man
not yet in orders, it might derogate from episcopal dignity.

Enraptured at the fund of self approbation which I collected from all
this, I ardently replied, 'I knew not how to express my sense of the
honour his lordship did me; that I could neither be so absurd as to
offend his lordship nor so unjust as to be insensible of his favours;
that I held the sacerdotal character to be too sacred to suffer any
man to trifle with it, much less to be guilty of the crime myself;
and that, if his lordship would oblige me by fulfilling his kind
intention, my lips should be irrevocably and for ever closed. The
honour would be an ample reward, and, whatever my wishes might be, it
was more than I could have hoped and greater perhaps than I deserved.'

It might well be expected that at this age I should fall into a
mistake common to mankind, and consider secrecy as a virtue; yet
I think it strange that I did not soon detect the duplicity of my
conduct, nor imagine there was any guilt in being the agent of deceit.
But this proves that my morality had not yet taught me rigidly to
chastise myself into truth; nor had it been in the least aided by the
example of the agreeable Enoch. Perhaps I did not even, at the moment,
suspect myself to be guilty of exaggeration.

Notwithstanding the caution given me, no sooner had I quitted the
ghostly governor than I hastened to my little upright friend. Tell him
indeed I must not: honour, shame, principle, forbade. Yet to keep the
good news wholly secret would be to render the severe covenant cruel.
What could be done?

Enoch perceived a part of my transport, and reproached me for not
having called to take him with me. This was too fair an opportunity to
miss. I answered the bishop had desired to see me alone that morning.
'Indeed!' said the suspicious pastor. 'What could be his lordship's
reason for that? Have I given offence?' 'No, no,' answered I, with a
condescending look to calm his fears; 'but I am not at liberty to tell
you the reason. There will be no breach of confidence however in my
informing you that his lordship is to preach, next Sunday sevennight,
at--cathedral. Many of the clergy, as I have gathered from him, are to
be present; and he intends to make doctrinal points the subject of his
discourse. He expects the attendance of his friends, no doubt, and I
shall be there.' 'And I too,' said Enoch, 'though I should be obliged
to pay a guinea at my chapel for a substitute.'

This point gained and my vanity thus disburthened, I left the divine
man, and hastened to Bruton-street, to defend subscription with ten
fold vigor. My young laurels were ripening apace: they were already
in bud, and were suddenly to bloom. Every new sprig of success burst
forth in new arguments, new tropes, and new denunciations. My margin
was loaded with the names of High Church heroes, and my manuscript
began to swell to a formidable size.

Mean while the day of exultation came, and I and Enoch, with Miss
and her Mamma, for I could not be satisfied with less than the whole
family, repaired early to the cathedral, bribed the verger, procured
ourselves places, and rallied our devout emotions as stedfastly as we
could, amid the indecent riot of boys, the monotony of the responses,
and the apathy of the whole choir.

In spite of all my efforts and aspirings, never was service more
tedious. The blissful minute at length came! His lordship, robed, in
solemn procession, moved magnificently toward the pulpit. The lawn
expanded, dignity was in every fold, and what had been great before
seemed immeasurable! Mamma blessed herself, at the spectacle of power
so spiritualized! Miss protested it was immense! Enoch was ready to
fall down and worship! I myself did little less than adore: but it was
the golden calf of my own creating; it was the divine rhapsody that
was immediately to burst upon and astonish the congregation.

The right reverend father in God began, and with him very unexpectedly
began my dissatisfaction. His voice was thick, his delivery
spiritless, and his candences ridiculous. His soul was so overlaid
with brawn and dignity that, though it heaved, panted, and struggled,
it could never once get vent. Speaking through his apoplectic organs,
I could not understand myself: it was a mumbling hubbub, the drone of
a bagpipe, and the tantalizing strum strum of a hurdy-gurdy! Never
was hearer more impatient to have it begin; never was hearer better
pleased to have it over! Every sentence did but increase the fever of
my mind. Enoch himself perceived it, though he could not discover the
cause. The orator indeed produced no emotion in him, but that was not
wonderful. The effect was quite as good as he expected! He had never,
I believe, been entertained at a sermon in his life; not even at his
own. He went to hear sermons sometimes, because it was decorous,
because he was a parson, and because it was his trade to preach them;
but never with any intention to enlarge his mind or improve his

His lordship however had no sooner descended than he was encircled by
as many flatterers as thought they had any right to approach; among
whom, to my shame be it spoken, I was one. I did not indeed applaud
either his discourse or his delivery; I was not quite so depraved, nor
so wholly forgetful of the feelings he had excited! but I laboured out
an aukward panegyric on the important duties he had to fulfil, and on
the blessing it was to a nation, when worthy persons were chosen to
fill such high offices. Thus endeavouring to quiet my conscience by
a quibble, and with a half faced lie make him believe what it was
impossible I could mean.

The discourse too was praised abundantly. It was divine! His lordship
had never delivered more serious and alarming truths! But though no
man could be better convinced that in reality this was all fact,
yet coming from them I knew it to be all falsehood. They could not
characterize what they could not hear; and the maukish adulation
curdled even upon my digestive stomach.

The lesson however certainly did me good, though it had yet but little
influence upon my conduct.


_The critic once more consulted in vain: The Bishop less fastidious:
The playhouse: Elbows and knees or virtue in danger: Mrs. Jordan_

It was possible I found, under the rose be it spoken, even for a
bishop to be a blockhead: but, if that bishop had sense enough to
discern my good qualities, I ought not to be the most unrelenting of
his censurers. My defence of the articles would indeed do its own
business: yet to come forth under episcopal auspices was an advantage
by which it was perhaps my duty to profit.

Politics necessarily had their interval; but, though this created
delay, my manuscript was at length finished, fairly recopied, and
impatient to be applauded.

Again the ghost of Turl haunted me. Not with terror! No: I had
prepared a charm, that could arrest or exorcise the evil spirit. Let
him but fairly meet me on this ground and I would hurl defiance at

Refrain I could not, and to him I went. I was surprised to find him at
work, engraving! 'Does he,' said I, 'pretend to learning, taste, and
genius, yet stoop to this drudgery?'

It was a good prefatory pretext to introduce my main design, and I
asked his reason for chusing such an employment? He answered it was
to gain a living, by administering as little as he could to the false
wants and vices of men, and at the same time to pursue a plan, on
which he was intent.

This plan he did not voluntarily mention; and, as my eagerness was all
nestling in my manuscript, I made no further inquiry. It was presently
produced. 'I have two or three times,' said I, 'Mr. Turl, intruded
upon you, and am come to trouble you once more. I have been writing a
pamphlet, and should again be glad to have your opinion. I know before
you open it you are inimical to its doctrines, although I think them
demonstrable. But perhaps you will find arguments in it which you
might not expect: and if not, I still should be glad to have your
judgment of it, as a composition. It contains a defence of the
thirty-nine articles, and indisputable proofs of the duty of religious

Turl paused for a moment, and then replied: 'I would most willingly,
Mr. Trevor, comply with your desire, were I not convinced of its
absolute inutility. The question has long been decided in my mind.
No arguments can prove a right, in any man or any body of men, to
tyrannize over my conscience. To find a standard to measure space and
duration has hitherto baffled all attempts; but to erect a standard to
equalize the thoughts of the whole human race is a disposition that
is both hateful and absurd. Should you understand the sincerity with
which I speak as hostile to yourself, you will do me wrong. Were it in
my power to render you service, few men would be more willing; but on
this occasion it certainly is not.'

I replied with some pique, 'To condemn any man, any question, or
any cause unheard, Sir, is neither the act of a Christian nor of a

'Christians, Mr. Trevor,' answered he, 'are so different from each
other, that what the act of a Christian may be is more than I know:
but, if I may speak as a philosopher, it is an immoral act to waste
time in doing any one thing, if there can be any other done that will
contribute more to the public good.'

'Do you think, Mr. Turl,' retorted I with indignation, 'that making
scratches, with a bit of steel on a bit of copper, is contributing
more to the public good than the examination of a question of so
much importance?'--'No, Mr. Trevor: but, I repeat, I have examined
the question; and whenever the public good shall make it my duty,
am willing to examine it again. I am not I think so called upon at
present, and I therefore must decline the task. I could wish you were
not to leave me in anger, for I assure you I have an affection for
your genius. But it may now be said to be in a state of ferment: when
it subsides, if I do not mistake, it will brighten, and contribute I
hope to the greatest and best of purposes.

'Upon my honour, Mr. Turl, you are a strange person!'

So saying, I hastily put my manuscript in my pocket and took my
leave: offended with his peremptory refusal, but half appeased by the
something more than compliment with which it was concluded.

This market always failed me; but I had one that was better calculated
for my ware, which was immediately open to me. I hastened to the
bishop, displayed my precious cargo, and did not fail to report
its value. I stated my principal arguments and boldly affirmed, in
conformity with the most approved leaders of our church, that the


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