The Adventures of Hugh Trevor
Part 4 out of 12
articles were to be interpreted in an Arminian sense, and that
only; that is strictly in regard to the Trinitarian controversy,
and liberally in the questions of predestination and grace. Nothing
according to my reasoning could be more plain than that they were
purposely left ambiguous, in these matters, by the compilers;
in favour to men in their public capacity, who I admitted in
their private were treated by them as heretics, blasphemers, and
anti-christs. I allowed no quarter to those who fixed the standard
of orthodoxy a hair's breadth higher or lower than I had done;
and attacked, with a virulence that shewed I was totally blind to
the lameness of my own cause, the socinianizing clergy, who dared
subscribe in defiance of the grossness of their heresy, and the
Calvinists, who had the impudence to understand the articles in the
sense in which their authors wrote them.
Then I had a formidable army of authorities! The fathers: Tertullian,
Chrysostom, Austin, Jerome! The famous high church men: archbishops,
bishops, deans and doctors; from Whitgift to Waterland, from Rogers
to Rutherforth! Them I marshalled in dread array, a host invincible!
The church thundered by my lips! I created myself the organ of her
anathemas, and stood forth her self-elected champion.
All this I detailed to my right reverend patron, who heaved his
cumbrous eye-brows, and gazed approbation while I spoke. I was so full
of myself and my subject, repeated sounding names and apt quotations
with such volubility, and imparted my own firm conviction that this
was the death blow to non-conformity with such force, that the rotund
man felt some small portion of sympathy, looked forward to happy
times, and began to hope he might see the thrones dominions powers
and principalities of the church re-established, and flourishing once
more! Had this been his only motive, however false his tenets, he
would have acted from a virtuous intention; but he had another, with
which the reader will in due time be acquainted.
Thus favourably prepossessed, I left my manuscript for his perusal;
and he treated me with as much condescension as, for a client so
undignified, he could persuade himself to assume.
It must not be forgotten that Enoch was present: this my vanity and
his cunning required. He played his part. His congratulations of his
young friend, and his amazement at his lordship's most prodigious
goodness, would have risen to ecstacy, if ecstacy and Enoch could
possibly have been acquainted.
We hied back to Suffolk street, where our good news was as usual
related. I had my vanity to feed, and the family had their views.
Miss had been presented with two box tickets, for the benefit of a
capital performer. The inimitable Mrs. Jordan was to play the Country
Girl, and I was invited by the family and pressed by Miss to accept of
one of them, and accompany her to the theatre.
I was not of a saturnine and cold complexion; and, fearful and
guarded as Miss was against rakes, I had some latent apprehension
that the tempter might be at hand. But the play-house was the region
of delight. Mrs. Jordan I had never seen, and to reject a lady's
invitation was as cowardly as to refuse a gentleman's challenge.
I had not yet philosophy enough for either, and at the appointed hour
a hackney coach was in waiting, and I and Miss Eliza, accompanied
by Enoch who had business in the Temple, were driven to Drury Lane
Places were kept, we took our seats, and the play began. So intent was
I, on plot, incident, character, wit, and humour, that, had I been
left unmolested, I fear I should have totally forgotten Miss Eliza.
But that was no part of her plan: at least it was no part of her
practice. Our knees soon became very intimate, and had frequent
meetings of a very sentimental kind: for, she being courageous enough
to advance, could I be the poltroon to retreat? They were however very
good and loving neighbours, and the language they spoke was peculiarly
impressive. The whole subject before us was love, and intrigue,
and the way to torment the jealous. Whenever a significant passage
occurred, and that was very often, either the feet, or the legs, or
the elbows of Miss and me came in contact. Our eyes too might have
met, but that I did not understand her traverse sailing. Commentaries,
conveyed in a whisper, were continual. Her glances, shot athwart,
frequently exclaimed--'Oh la!' and the fan, half concealing their
significance, often enough increased the interjection to--'Oh fie!'
The remarks of Miss, ocular and oral, were very pointed, and it must
be owned that she was a great master of the subject. Whenever the tone
of libertine gallantry occurred, she was ready with--'There! That's
you! There! There you are again! Well, I protest! Was any thing ever
so like? That is you to a T!'
I must tell the truth, and acknowledge she created no little
perturbation in my inward man. My thoughts were attracted this way,
and hurried that. The divine Mrs. Jordan for one moment made me all
her own. Miss insisted on having me to herself the next. Then came
theology, a dread of Eve and her apple, supported by a still more
redoubtable combatant, virtue, with her fair but inflexible face!
And could Olivia, the gentle, the angelic, the beaming Olivia, such
as I remembered her in days of early innocence, such as I beheld her
reclining in my arms as I bore her from the dangerous waters, could
love be the theme and she forgotten? No! There was not a day in which
that phenomenon happened; and on such occasions never. Why I thought
on her, or what I meant, I seldom staid in inquire; for that was a
question that would have given exquisite pain, had I not remembered
that the world was soon to be at my command.
But Olivia was absent, and I had entered the lists with a very
different heroine. Through play and farce there was no cessation to
the combat; and, in spite of the fencing and warding of prudence,
before the curtain finally dropped I own I felt myself a little
The foot-boy was to attend, with a hackney coach. I led my fair
Thalestris into the lobby, where Miss Ellis's carriage was
vociferated, from mouth to mouth, with as much eclat as if she had
been a dutchess.
The foot-boy made his appearance, but no carriage alas was there. Why
I was partly sorry and partly glad I leave the reader to divine. It
rained violently, and it was with difficulty that I could procure
a chair. Into this conveyance Miss Ellis was handed; I was left to
provide for myself, and a storm in the heavens fortunately relieved
the storm of the passions. The last flash of their lightening
exhausted itself in the squeeze of the hand, which I gave Miss before
the chairmen shut the door; or rather in that which she gave me in
return. Disappointed men often rail at accident, whereas they ought
to avow that what they call accident has frequently been the guardian
of what they call their honour. I returned home, where, full of the
delightful ideas which the fascinating Jordan had inspired, I retraced
those discriminating divine touches, by which she communicates such
repeated and uncommon pleasure. She is indeed a potent sorceress: but
not even her incantations could exclude the august and virgin spirit
of Olivia from again rising to view. As for Miss Eliza, keep her but
at a hair-breadth distance and she was utterly harmless.
_Possibilities are infinite, or great events in embrio: A bishop's
dinner and a dean's devotion: A discovery: Clerical conversation: The
way to rise in the church_
By this time my political labours began to wear a respectable
appearance. A third letter had been published, and a fourth was
preparing. I was in high favour. Men of all ranks visited the earl;
and dukes, lords, and barons became as familiar to me as gowns and
caps had formerly been in the streets of Oxford. I stood on the very
pinnacle of fortune; and, proud of my skill, like a rope-dancer that
casts away his balancing pole, I took pleasure in standing on tiptoe.
Noticed by the leading men, caressed and courted by their dependants,
politics encouraging me on this hand, and theology inviting me
on that, the whole world seemed to be smiles and sunshine; and I
discovered that none but blockheads had any cause to complain of its
injuries and its storms.
Having eased myself for the present of my load of divinity, my fourth
letter required no long time to finish. I hastened with it to his
lordship, my spirits mounting as usual. He took it, but not with his
former eagerness; read it, praised it, but with less of that zeal
which interested hope supplies.
I remarked the change, and began to inquire what was my fault? 'None,'
replied his lordship. 'Your letter is excellent! charming! every thing
I could wish!'--'Then I may send it to the press?'--'No: I would wish
you not to do that.'--'My lord!'--'Leave it with me. Wait a few days
and perhaps you may hear of something that will surprise and please
you.'--'Indeed, my lord!'
I stood fixed, with inquiring eyes, hungry after more information. But
this was not granted; except that, with a significant smile, he told
me he had an engagement of importance for the morning: and with this
hint I retired.
It was impossible for me to hear so much, and no more, and to forbear
forming conjectures. There was going to be a new ministry! It could
not be otherwise!
Mr. *** soon afterward knocked at the door. I looked through the
window and saw his carriage. I went to the head of the stairs and
heard him received, by the earl, with every expression of welcome!
I had now no doubt but that a place, if I would accept it, would
incontinently be bestowed on me; and it was almost painful to think
that my future plans were of an opposite kind. Yet, why opposite?
Churchmen were not prohibited the circle of politics. My station would
be honourable, for they would not think of offering me trifles. And
why not step from the treasury bench to the bench of bishops? Let but
the love of the state and the love of the church be there, and neither
seat would suffer contamination.
A revolution of fortune was certainly at hand: what it was I could not
accurately foresee, but that it would be highly favourable no man in
his senses could have the least doubt: such was my creed.
The very next day I received a note from the bishop, inviting me to
partake of a family dinner, with him and his niece. So it is! And
so true is the proverb: it never rains but it pours! Good fortune
absolutely persecuted me! Honours fell so thick at my feet that I had
not time to stoop and pick them up! In the present humour of things,
I knew not whether I might not be invited, before the morrow came, to
dine with a party of prime ministers, and be elected their president.
Mean time however I thought proper to accept the bishop's invitation;
and, as nothing better did actually intervene, when the hour came I
kept my appointment.
Being there, the footman led me up to the drawing-room; in which were
a lady, who curtsying told me the bishop would soon be down, and the
Dean of ----, another rosy gilled son of the church. I have often
asked myself--'Why are butchers, tallow-chandlers, cook-maids,
and church dignitaries so inclined to be fat?' but I could never
satisfactorily resolve the question.
His lordship soon made his appearance; and, having first paid his
obedience to the dean, he took the lady by the hand, and presenting
her to me said--'This, Mr. Trevor, is my niece; who I dare say will be
glad to be acquainted with you.' Bows, curtsies, and acknowledgments
of honours conferred, were things of course.
Miss Wilmot, that was the lady's name, Miss Wilmot and I made attempts
to entertain each other. Her person was tall, her shape taper, her
complexion delicate, and her demeanour easy. Her remarks were not
profound, but they were delivered without pretension. She was more
inclined to let the conversation die away than to sustain it by that
flux of tongue, which afflicted the ear at the house of the Ellis's.
Her countenance was strongly marked with melancholy; and a languid
endeavour to please seemed to have been the result of study, and to
have grown into habit.
Our attention was soon called to another quarter. 'Dinner! dinner!
gentlemen,' exclaimed the right reverend father. 'Come, come; we must
not let the dinner get cold! Do any thing rather than spoil my dinner!
I cannot forgive that.'
Away we went. When a bishop has the happiness to be ready for his
dinner, his dinner is sure to be ready for him. Hunger three times
a day is the blessing he would first pray for. No remiss cooks, no
delays for politeness sake there. Nor is there any occasion: scandal
itself cannot tax the clergy with want of punctuality, at the hour of
We sat down. The lady carved. There were three of us, for she ate
little. But, heaven bless me! she had work enough! It was like boys
fighting, one down and the other come on! I might wonder about the
fattening of butchers and tallow-chandlers as I pleased, but the last
part of my wonder was over. I was no mean demolisher of pudding and
pie-crust myself; but lord! I was an infant. 'You don't eat, Mr.
Trevor!' said the lady. 'You don't eat, Mr. Trevor!' said the dean.
'You don't eat, Mr. Trevor!' blubbered the bishop. Yet never had I
been so gorged since the first night at Oxford; and scarcely then.
I would have held it out to the last; for who would not honour the
cloth? But the thing could not be, and I fairly laid down my knife and
fork in despair. 'Lord! Mr. Trevor! why you have not done?' was the
general chorus. 'There is another course coming!'
It was in vain: man is but man. I fell to at first like the rest,
thinking that the engagement though hot would be soon over; but I
little knew the doughty heroes, with whom I had entered the lists.
The chiefs of Homer, with their chines and goblets and canisters of
bread, would have been unequal to the contest. I had time enough to
contemplate the bishop; I thought I beheld him quaffing suffocation
and stowing in apoplexy; and Homer's simile of the ox and Agamemnon
forced itself strongly upon me:
So while he feeds, luxurious in the stall,
The sov'reign of the herd is doom'd to fall.
Neither did their eating end with the second course. The table was no
sooner cleared of the cloth, and the racy wine with double rows of
glasses again placed in array, than almonds, raisins, olives, oranges,
Indian conserves, and biscuits deviled, covered the board! To it
again they fell, with unabating vigour! I soon found reason to leave
them, but I doubt whether for three hours their mouths were once seen
motionless! In the act of error its enormity escapes detection. I had
momentary intervals, in which I philosophised on the scene before me;
but not deeply. I was a partaker of the vice, and my astonishment at
it was by no means so great then as it is now.
But there was another circumstance at which it was even extreme, and
mingled with high indignation. I was ignorant of the clerical maxim,
that the absence of the profane washes the starch out of lawn.
Hypocrisy avaunt! They are then at liberty to _unbend_! I was soon
better informed. The bishop and the dean, Miss Wilmot being still
present, the moment the devil of gluttony would give them leisure,
could find no way of amusing themselves so effectually as by
attempting to call up the devil of lust. Allusions that were evidently
their common-place table talk, and that approached as nearly as they
durst venture to obscenity, were their pastime. With these they
tickled their fancy till it gurgled in their throats, applied to Miss
Wilmot to give it a higher gusto, and, while they hypocritically
avoided words which the ear could not endure, they taxed their dull
wit to conjure up their corresponding ideas. I must own that, in my
mind, poor mother church at that moment made but a pitiful appearance.
Disgusted with their impotent efforts to make their brain the common
sewer of Joe Miller, I at last started up, with difficulty bridled my
anger, and addressing myself to the lady said, 'Shall we retire to
your tea table, Miss Wilmot?' 'Ay, do, do!' replied the father in God.
'Try, Liddy, if you can entertain Mr. Trevor: we will stay by our
I led her out; and I leave the initiated to guess with what episcopal
reverence All saints and their Mother were introduced, the moment the
lady's back was turned.
In the course of conversation with the lady, I thought I remarked
many strong traits of resemblance between her and my former friend
and instructor, the usher of the grammar school, whose name also was
Wilmot. The name perhaps was the circumstance that turned my thoughts
into that channel; and the fancied likeness between them soon
increased upon me so forcibly, that I could no longer forbear to
relate all that I knew concerning him, and to inquire if he were her
While I spoke, she changed colour; and after some hesitation answered,
'he is my brother.'--'And the nephew of his lordship?'--
Her flushings and hesitation were increased. 'I am sorry, madam,'
said I, 'if I have been indiscreet.' She answered, in a feeble and
inarticulate manner, 'he stands in the same relationship to the bishop
that I do.'
The feelings of the lady turned my attention, and prevented me from
noticing the ambiguity of the reply. 'I respected and loved your
brother, madam,' continued I. 'His stay was but short after I left
the school, and I have not heard of him since. Is he in London?'--'I
believe so; but I do not know where.'
Every question gave additional pain, and I dropped the subject with
saying, that I was happy to be acquainted with the sister of a man who
had so essentially aided me in my education, and for whom I had the
I thought I perceived the tears struggling to get vent, and to relieve
her I made a short visit to the dignitaries--who were--not drunk!
Beware of scandal! Calumny itself could not say that madeira, port,
and brandy mingled could make them drunk! Madeira port and brandy
mingled were but digestives. No: I found the bishop relating one
of the principal incidents of his life; which incident it was his
practice to relate every day after dinner.
'And so, Mr. Dean, it was the first day, after I had been consecrated
a bishop, that I appeared in my full canonicals. And so you know the
young gentlemen [He was speaking of the Westminster boys] had never
seen me in them; because, as I was a saying, it was the first day of
my putting them on. And so, Mr. Dean, as it was the first day of my
putting them on, they had placed themselves all of a row, for to see
me pass through them; because, as I say, it was the first day of my
putting them on. And you can't think, Mr. Dean, what an alteration it
made! Every body told me so! and the young gentlemen as I passed, I
assure you, when they saw me with my lawn sleeves and quite in full
decoration, being the first day of my putting them on, they all bowed;
and I assure you behaved with the greatest respect you can think. For
as I tell you it was the first day of my putting them on; so they had
never seen me in them before; so, I assure you, they bowed and behaved
with the greatest respect. They seemed quite surprized, I made such
an appearance! And so, I assure you, they bowed and behaved with the
greatest respect; for as I was a saying, it was the first day of my
putting them on. Perhaps, Mr. Trevor, you never heard the story of my
first appearing in my canonicals? I'll tell it you!'
His lordship then began the story again. He had not a single
circumstance to add; yet he would not be stopped in his career by my
assuring him that I had heard the whole.
His lordship and the dean then began a discourse concerning the clubs,
of which they were both members; with inquiries after and annotations
on prebends, archdeacons, and doctors, that had the honour to
gluttonize together on these occasions. This, though highly amusing to
them, was intolerable dulness to me, and I returned to Miss Wilmot.
At nine o'clock, the dean's carriage was at the door, and he departed.
He was a great lover of decorum.
I was preparing to follow his example; but his lordship joined us, and
desired me to sit down for half an hour; he had something to say to
me. Wondering what it could be, I readily complied.
He then began to ask me, how I liked his niece? and to talk of
this and the other young clergymen, who had risen in the church by
matrimony. Miss Wilmot I perceived was greatly embarrassed. I listened
to him with some surprise; for I had nothing to say. He concluded his
remarks with telling me, that we would talk more on these subjects
While the dean had been present, the turn of the conversation was such
that, though I made two or three aukward attempts, I could find no
opportunity of introducing my defence of the articles. I was now more
successful, and his lordship told me it was well written; certainly
very well written. He had read it himself, and had consulted two or
three very sound divines.
I had no doubt of the fact, yet was glad to hear it confirmed,
especially by testimonies that I persuaded myself must be good, and
expressed my satisfaction. 'Yes,' said his lordship; 'your defence
is very well written, Mr. Trevor; and I have something to say to you
about that matter. But I am a little drowsy at present. Ring for my
night cap, niece! If you will be with me to-morrow morning at ten
o'clock, Mr. Trevor, we'll talk the thing over.'
I then bade the lady and his lordship good night, and returned to
Bruton-street, with my brain swimming with cogitations concerning
bishops, nieces, deans, articles, sound divines, the church, the sons
of the church, sensuality, obscenity, and innumerable associating
but discordant ideas, that bred a strange confusion and darkness of
_The killing of the goose with the golden eggs_
The next morning my first business was with the bishop, and I took
good care to be punctual. I knew not very well why, but the ardour
of my expectations was in some sort abated. The preaching my sermon
clandestinely, the niece, and the young clergymen that made their
fortune by matrimony, were none of them in unison with the open and
just dealing which was requisite to my success. The forebodings at
which people have so often marvelled are, when they happen, nothing
more than perceptions of incongruity, that disturb the mind. Of this
kind of disturbing I was conscious.
I repaired however to my post, and was ushered up to the prelate. He
began with telling me what an orthodox divine the dean was, who dined
with us the day before; and how sure he was of rising in the church. I
could make no answer. Rise in the church he probably would; for facts
are facts; and I had sufficient proof before me.
My ready compliance with the first act of deceit, that he had required
from me, had not given him reason to suspect he should find me more
scrupulous than many others, whom he had made subservient to his
purposes. What measure had he for my conscience, but the standard that
regulated his own? The caution therefore that he practised with me was
only that which the routine of cunning had made habitual. Introductory
topics were soon discarded: he began to talk of his niece, and again
asked if I did not think her an agreeable handsome young lady? Of her
person and manners I had no unfavourable opinion, and replied in the
affirmative. 'I assure you, Mr. Trevor,' said he, 'she thinks very
well of you!'--'Nay, my lord, she has seen me but once.'--'Oh, no
matter for that. Who knows but you may come to be better acquainted?
especially if something that I have to say to you be taken _right_.
You are a likely young man, Mr. Trevor; and may be a promising young
man. I don't know: that is as things shall happen, and according as
you shall understand things, and be prudent.'
This was a vile preface: it contained more forebodings. But I was
so eager for an explanation that I had scarcely time for augury. He
'You have been to Oxford, Mr. Trevor, and you have studied. I was
at Oxford, and I studied, and read Greek, and the fathers, and the
schoolmen, and other matters: but all that there won't do alone, Mr.
Trevor. A young man must be prudent. I was prudent, or I should never
have been this day what I am now sitting here, nor what it may happen
I may be. But all that is as things shall happen to come to pass. We
have all of us a right to look forward; and so I would have you look
forward, Mr. Trevor. That is the only prudent way.'
More and more impatient, I answered his lordship, I would be as
prudent as I could; and again requested he would explain himself.
'Why yes, Mr. Trevor; that is what I mean. You are a young man. I
don't know you, but you come recommended to me, by my very learned
friends. You have not the cares of the church to trouble you, and
so you fill up your idle time with writing.'--'My lord!'--'Nay, Mr.
Trevor, you write very prettily. I could write too, but I have not
time. I never had time. I had aways a deal of business on my hands:
persons of distinction to visit, when I was young, and to take care
not to disoblige. That is a main point of prudence, Mr. Trevor; never
disoblige your superiors. But I dare say you have more sense: and so,
if that be the case, why you will make friends, as I did. I will be
one of them; and I will recommend you, Mr. Trevor, and introduce you,
and every thing may be to the satisfaction of all parties.'--
'Well, but how, my lord?'
'Why you have written a defence of the articles: now do you wish
to make a friend?'--'I wish for the friendship of all good men, my
lord.'--'That is right! To be sure! And you can keep a secret?'--'I
have proved that I can, my lord.'--'Why that is right! And perhaps
you would be glad to see your defence in print?'--'I should, my
lord.'--'Why that is right! And, if it would serve a friend to
put another name to the work--?'--'My lord!' 'Nay, if you have
any objection, I shall say no more!' 'I do not comprehend your
lordship?'--'A work, Mr. Trevor, would not sell the worse, or be
less read, or less famous, for having a dignified name in the
title-page.'--'Your lordship's, for example?'--'Nay, I did not
say that! But, if you are a prudent young man, and should have
no objection?'--'I find I am not the man your lordship has
supposed!--'Nay!'--'I will be no participator in falsehood, private or
public!'--'Falsehood, Sir! What interpretation are you putting upon my
words? I thought you had been a prudent young man, Mr. Trevor! I was
willing to have been your friend! But I have done!'--'My lord, I must
be free enough to declare, I neither understand the friendship nor the
morality of the proposition.'--'Sir! morality! Is that language, Sir?
Morality! I am sorry I have been deceived!'--'I have been equally so,
my lord, and am equally sorry! I wish your lordship a good morning.'
Away I came, and in my vexation totally forgot to redemand my
manuscript. I recollected it however while within sight of the door,
and turned back. I knocked, asked for his lordship, and was told
he was not at home! This profligate impudence exceeded belief, and
my choler became ungovernable. 'His lordship,' exclaimed I to the
footman, 'is a disgrace to the bench on which he sits!' The footman
thrust the door in my face, and epithets then burst from me, that were
a disgrace to myself.
I hurried homeward, determined to give vent to my feelings in a
letter, and half determined that it should be publicly addressed
to the rank hypocrite, signed by my own name. My angry imagination
teemed forth the biting taunts that should sting him to madness, and
the broad shame with which he was to be overwhelmed. Active memory
retraced each circumstance, that could blacken the object of my
present contempt and abhorrence; and every trait increased the
bitterness of my gall, and made my boiling blood more hot. Was this a
pastor of the church? a follower of Christ? a Christian bishop? The
question astonished and exasperated me almost to frenzy.
In this temper I arrived in Bruton-street, where another very
unexpected scene awaited me. The earl I was told, had inquired for me,
and desired to see me the moment I should be at home. The message, by
turning my thoughts into a new channel, gave relief to the impetuous
tide of passion. The gloomy scene instantly brightened into prospects
the most cheering and opposite. It was good to have two strings to
the bow, especially as this second was of so firm and inflexible a
All my favourable forebodings were confirmed, when, on entering, I
observed the smiles that played on his lordship's countenance! He was
in a most pleasant humour. 'I hinted to you, Mr. Trevor,' said he,
'that I should probably have something agreeable soon to communicate!'
His words gave certainly to expectation! They uttered volumes of
rapture in a breath! The fresh laurels of politics sprouted forth with
tenfold vigour, and the withered fig-tree of theology was totally
'There is likely to be a change in affairs then, my lord?' said I,
smiling in rapturous sympathy as I spoke--'There is.'--'Mr. ***
has been with your lordship several times, I think?'--'Yes, yes;
I am courted by all parties, at present'--'Indeed, my lord! Then
Themistocles has become formidable?'--'Yes, yes! I have made them
feel me!'--'I am glad that I have been instrumental.'--'Certainly,
Mr. Trevor; certainly. An architect cannot build palaces with his
own hands. But we will not talk of that: we must complete the work
we have begun'--'And publish our fourth letter?'--'By no means, Mr.
Trevor! that would ruin all!' For a moment I was speechless! At last I
ejaculated--'My lord!'--'Things at present wear a very different face!
we must now write on the other side. You seem surprised?' Well might
he say so! I was thunderstruck! 'But I will tell you a secret. The
minister and I are friends! I send four members into the house; and
if government had not expended five times the sum that it cost me, to
carry their elections, I should have sent three more. I have attacked
the minister in the house by my votes; I have attacked him in the
papers by my writings: so, finding I wielded my two edged sword with
such resolution and activity, he has thought proper to beat a parley.
He acknowledges that the fifty thousand pounds the election contest
cost me were expended in support of our excellent constitution, and
that I ought to be rewarded for my patriotism. His offers are liberal,
and peace is concluded. We must now vere about, and this was the
business for which I wanted you. A good casuist you know, Mr. Trevor,
can defend both sides of a question; and I have no doubt but that you
will appear with as much brilliancy, as a panegyrist, as you have
done, as a satirist.'
How long I remained in that state of painful stupefaction into which
I had been thrown, at the very commencement of this harangue, is more
than I can say: but, as soon as I could recover some little presence
of mind, I replied--'You, my lord, no doubt have your own reasons;
which, to you, are a justification of your own conduct. For my part,
when I wrote against the minister, it was not against the man. A
desire to abash vice, advance the virtuous, and promote the good of
mankind, were my motives!'--'Mr. Trevor, I find you are a young man:
you do not know the world'--The scene with the bishop was acting over
again, and I felt myself bursting once more with indignation. With
ineffable contempt in every feature of my face, I answered--'If a
knowledge of the world consists in servility, selfishness, and the
practice of deceit, I hope I never shall know it.'--'You strangely
forget yourself, Mr. Trevor!'--'I am not of that opinion, my lord. I
rather think, it was the man who could suppose me capable of holding
the pen of prostitution that strangely forgot himself!'
His lordship hemmed, rang his bell, hummed a tune, and wished me a
good morning; and I rushed out of his apartment and hurried up to
my own, where I found myself suddenly released from all my labours,
and at full leisure to ruminate on all the theological and political
honours that were to fall so immediately and profusely upon me.
And here it is worthy of remark that I did not accuse myself; for
I did not recollect that I had been in the least guilty. Yet when
the earl had asked me to write letters, that were to be supposed by
the public the production of his own pen, I had then no qualms of
conscience; and when the bishop invited me to favour falsehood, by
attributing my best written sermon to him, I concurred in the request
with no less facility. When deceit was not to favour but to counteract
my plans, its odious immorality then rushed upon me. Men are so
much in a hurry, to obtain the end, that they frequently forget to
scrutinize the means. As for my own part, far from supposing that I
had been a participator in guilt, I felt a consciousness of having
acted with self-denying and heroic virtue. This was my only armour,
against the severe pangs with which I was so unexpectedly assaulted.
_Gloomy meditations, or pills for the passions: More of Enoch's
morality: Turl improves, yet is still unaccountable and almost
profane: Consecrated things: Themistocles and vengeance: A love
scene: More marriage plots: And a tragi-comic denouement: The fate of
Themistocles: The manuscript in danger_
I shut the door upon myself, as it were to conceal my disgrace, and
for a considerable time traversed the room in an agony of contending
passions. Rage, amazement, contempt of myself, abhorrence of my
insidious patrons, and a thirst of vengeance devoured me. At length I
was seized with a bitter sense of disappointment, and a fit of deep
despondency. My calculations had been so indubitable, my progress so
astonishing, and my future elevation in prospect so immeasurable, that
to see myself thus puffed down, as it were, from the very pinnacle not
of hope but of certainty, was more than my philosophy had yet learned
to support with any shew of equanimity. I sunk on my chair, where I
sat motionless, in silence, gloom, and painful meditation; groaning
in spirit, as tormenting fancy conjured up the dazzling scenes, with
which she had lately been so actively familiar.
I was roused from my trance at last by the recollection that I was in
the house of the earl, and starting up, as if to spurn contamination
from me, I hurried out, to ease my heart by relating the whole story
in Suffolk street, and to procure myself an apartment.
Enoch, Mamma, and Miss were all at home. I had pre-informed the family
of my engagement to dine with the bishop, and they began a full chorus
of interrogatories. 'Who did I meet?' said Mamma. 'What did I think of
the niece?' asked Miss. 'What did his lordship say?' inquired the holy
I stopped their inquisitive clamours by answering, my eyes darting
rage, 'His lordship said enough to prove himself a scoundrel!' 'Heaven
defend me!' exclaimed Enoch. 'Why, Mr. Trevor! are you in your
senses?'--'A pitiful scoundrel! A pandar! A glutton! A lascivious
hypocrite! With less honesty than a highwayman, for he would not only
rob but publicly array himself in the pillage, nay and impudently
pretend to do the person whom he plundered a favour!'
Enoch stood petrified. He could not have thought that frenzy itself
would have dared to utter language so opprobrious against a bishop.
It was treason against the cloth! The church tottered at the sounds!
But the fury I felt held him in awe--'Lords!' continued I. 'Heaven
preserve me from the society of a lord! I have done with them all.
I am come out to seek an apartment. Kingdoms should not tempt me to
remain another hour under the roof of a lord!'
If the eyes of Enoch could have stretched themselves wider, they
would. The females requested me to explain myself. 'A pandar?' said
Mamma. 'Ay,' added Miss; 'what did that mean, Mr. Trevor?'
The question sobered me a little: I recollected my friend the usher,
and the honour of Miss Wilmot, and evaded an answer. It was repeated
again with greater solicitation: scandal stood with open mouth,
waiting for a fresh supply. I answered that for many reasons, and
especially for a dear friend's sake, I should be silent on that head.
'A dear friend's sake?' exclaimed the suspicious matron. 'Who can that
be? Who but Mr. Ellis? Why Mr. ----!'
I interrupted her in a positive tone, not without a mixture of anger,
assuring her it was not Mr. Ellis; and then repeated that I was come
in search of a lodging.
At that moment the bishop's servant knocked at the door; I saw him
through the window; and a note was received by the foot-boy and
brought to Enoch. The instant he had read the contents, he hurried
away; telling me that an unexpected affair, which must not be
neglected, called him out immediately.
Young as I was, unhackneyed in the ways of men, having so lately left
the society of ignorant and inconsistent youth, till that hour I had
imagined, though I discovered no qualities in Enoch that greatly
endeared him to me, that he was sincerely my friend. His duplicity on
this occasion was in my opinion a heinous crime, and I rushed out of
the house, with a determination never again to enter the doors.
I precipitately walked through several streets, without asking myself
where I was going. At last I happened to think of Turl, and at that
moment he appeared to be the man on earth I would soonest meet. I
hastened to his lodgings, found him at home, labouring as before, and,
instead of feeling the same emotions of contempt for his employment, I
was struck with the calm satisfaction visible in his countenance, and
I remembered his words: 'He worked 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'--A plan of
importance no doubt; perhaps of public utility.
It was sometime before I could relate my errand. I hesitated, and
struggled, and stammered, but at last said--'Mr. Turl, I yesterday
thought myself surrounded by friends: I now come to you; and should
you refuse to hear me, I have not a friend in the world to whom I can
relate the injustice that has been done me.'---Pray speak, Mr. Trevor.
If I can do you any service, I most sincerely assure you it will add
more to my own happiness, than you will easily imagine.'
These words, though few, were uttered with an uncommon glow of
benevolence. My heart was full, my passions, like the arrow in the
bent bow, were with force restrained, and I snatched his hand and
pressed it with great fervour. 'May you never want a friend, Mr.
Turl,' said I; 'and may you never find a false one! Your opinions
differ from mine, but I see and feel you are a man of virtue.'
I paused a moment, and continued. 'That you are a man of principle is
fortunate, because, in what I have to relate, the name and character
of a lady is concerned: the sister of a man whom, a very few years
since, I loved and revered.'--'You may state the facts without
mentioning her name.'--'I have no doubt of your honour.'--'I have no
curiosity, and it will be the safest and wisest way.'
I then gave him a succinct history of the whole transactions, between
me, Enoch, the bishop and the earl; for I was almost as angry with the
first as with the other two. He heard me to the end, and asked such
questions for elucidation as he thought necessary.
He then said--'Mr. Trevor, you are already acquainted with the
plainness, and what you perhaps have thought the bluntness, of my
character. I have but one rule: I speak all that I think worthy of
being spoken, and if I offend it is never from intention. What you
have related of these lordly men does not in the least astonish me.
Their vices are as odious as you have described them. Your great
mistake is in supposing yourself blameless. You have chiefly erred in
entertaining too high an opinion of your own powers, and in cherishing
something like a selfish blindness to the principles of the persons,
with whom you have been concerned. Your indiscriminate approbation
of all you wrote raised your expectations to extravagance. Your
inordinate appetite for applause made you varnish over the picture
which the earl gave you of himself; though it must otherwise have
been revolting to a virtuous mind: and your expectation of preferment
so entirely lulled your moral feelings to sleep, that you could be a
spectator of the picture you have drawn of the bishop, the day you
dined with him, yet go the next morning to accept, if not to solicit,
his patronage. You have committed other mistakes, which I think it
best at present to leave unnoticed. In the remarks I have made, I have
had no intention to give pain, but to awaken virtue. At present you
are angry: and why?'
'Why!' exclaimed I, with mingled astonishment and indignation. 'A
peer of the realm to be thus profligate in principle, and not excite
my anger!'--'What is a peer of the realm, but a man educated in
vice, nurtured in prejudice from his earliest childhood, and daily
breathing the same infectious air he first respired! A being to be
pitied!'--'Despised!'--'I was but three days in this earl's house. The
false colouring given me by his agent first induced me to enter it;
but I was soon undeceived.'--
'Well but, a churchman! A divine! A bishop! A man consecrated to one
of the highest of earthly dignities!' 'Consecrated? There are many
solemn but pernicious pantomimes acted in this world!'--'Suffer me to
say, Mr. Turl, that to speak irreverently of consecrated things does
not become a man of your understanding.' 'I can make no answer to
such an accusation, Mr. Trevor, except that I must speak and think as
that understanding directs me. Enlighten it and I will speak better.
But what is it in a bishop that is consecrated? Is it his body, or
his mind? What can be understood by his body? Is it the whole mass?
Imagine its contents! Holy? "An ounce of civet, good apothecary!" That
mass itself is daily changing: is the new body, which the indulgence
of gluttonous sensuality supplies, as holy as the old? If it be his
mind that is consecrated, what is mind, but a succession of thoughts?
By what magic are future thoughts consecrated? Has a bishop no unholy
thoughts? Can pride, lust, avarice, and ambition, can all the sins of
the decalogue be consecrated? Are some thoughts consecrated and some
not? By whom or how is the selection made? What strange farrago of
impossibilities have these holy dealers in occult divinity jumbled
together? Can the God of reason be the God of lies?'
There was so much unanswerable truth in these arguments, that I
listened in speechless amazement. At last I replied, 'I am almost
afraid to hear you, Mr. Turl.'--'Yes; it is cowardice that keeps
mankind fettered in ignorance.'--'Well but, this bishop? Does he not
live in a state of concubinage?'--'The scene of sensuality that you
have painted makes the affirmative probable.'--'And my defence of the
articles? I will publish it immediately; with a preface stating the
whole transaction.'--'You will be to blame.'--'Why so?'--You may be
better employed.'--'What! than in exposing vice?'--'The employment is
petty; and what is worse, it is inefficient. The frequent consequence
of attacking the errors of individuals is the increase of those
errors. Such attacks are apt to deprave both the assailant and the
assailed. They begin in anger, continue in falsehood, and end in fury.
They harden vice, wound virtue, and poison genius. I repeat, you may
be better employed, Mr. Trevor.'--'And is your rule absolute?'--'The
exceptions are certainly few. Exhibit pictures of general vice, and
the vicious will find themselves there; or, if they will not, their
friends will.'--'This Enoch, too!--'Is I believe a mean and selfish
character; though I by no means think the action at which you have
taken offence is the strongest proof of his duplicity. To decide
justly, we must hear both parties. He saw your passions inflamed. It
was probable you would have opposed his going to the bishop; though,
if he in any manner interfered, to go was an act of duty.'
The reasonings of Turl in part allayed the fever of my mind, but by no
means persuaded me to desist from the design of inflicting exemplary
disgrace on the earl and the prelate.
Though a stern opposer of many of my principles, his manners were
attentive, winning, and friendly. Being better acquainted with the
town than I was, he undertook to procure me a neat and cheap apartment
in his own neighbourhood, and in half an hour succeeded.
To this my effects were immediately removed. I was even too angry
to comply with the forms of good breeding so far as to leave my
compliments for the earl: I departed without ceremony, and retired to
my chamber to contemplate my change of situation.
After mature consideration, the plan on which I determined was,
immediately to publish the fourth letter of Themistocles, already
written; to continue to write under the same signature; and in
the continuation to expose the political profligacy of the earl.
Themistocles was accordingly sent that very day.
I next intended accurately to revise my defence of the articles,
as soon as I should recover the copy from the bishop; to turn the
conversation with Turl occasionally on that subject, that I might
refute his objections; and then to publish the work. For ordination I
would apply elsewhere, being determined never to suffer pollution by
the unholy touch of that prelate.
The next morning, my passions being calmed by sleep and I having
reflected on what Turl had said, a sense of justice told me that
I ought to visit Enoch at least once more; in which decision my
curiosity concurred. I went, and found him at home, but dressing.
The mother and daughter were at the same employment: but Miss,
imagining it was my knock, sent her attendant to inquire, and
immediately huddled on her bed-gown and mob-cap to come down to me.
Her tongue was eager to do its office.
'Lord! Mr. Trevor! We have had such doings! Papa and mamma and I have
been at it almost ever since! But don't you fear: I am your true
friend, and I have made mamma your friend, and she insists upon it
that papa shall be your friend too; and so he is forced to comply:
though the bishop had convinced him that you are a very imprudent
young gentleman; and my papa will have it you don't understand common
sense; and that you have ruined yourself, though you had the finest
opportunity on earth; and that you will ruin every body that takes
your part! You can't think how surprised and how angry he is, that you
should oppose your will to an earl, and a bishop, and lose the means
of making your fortune, and perhaps of making your friends' fortunes
too: for there it is that the shoe pinches; because I understand the
bishop is very kind to papa at present; and, if he should take your
part, papa says he will never see him again. But mamma and I argued,
what of that? Would the bishop give papa a good living, said mamma?
And what if he would, says I? Shall we give up those that we love best
in the world, because it is the will and pleasure of a bishop! No,
indeed! I don't know that bishops are better than other people, for
my part; and perhaps not so good as those that are to be given up. So
mamma told me to be silent; but she took my part, and I took yours,
and I assure you, for all what they both said, I did not spare the
bishop! So my papa fell into a passion, and pretended that I was too
forward; and I assure you he accused me of having my likings. I don't
know whether he did not make me blush! But I answered for all that,
and said well, and if I have, who can help having their likings? I
have heard you and my mamma say often enough that you both had had
your likings; and that you did not like one another; and that that was
the reason that you quarrel like cat and dog; and so if people will
be happy they must marry according to their likings. So said my mamma
well but, Eliza, have you any reason to think that Mr. Trevor has any
notions of marriage? So I boldly answered yes, I had; for you know,
Mr. Trevor, what passed between us at the play-house, and the kind
squeeze of the hand you gave me at parting with me: and so why should
I be afraid to speak, and tell the truth? And so mamma says it shall
all be cleared up!'
Her eagerness would admit of no interruption, till it was checked
for a moment by the entrance of Enoch, and the mamma. I suspected a
part of what was to come, and never in my life had I felt so much
embarrassment. 'Well Eliza,' said the matron, 'have you and Mr. Trevor
been talking? Have you come to an explanation?'
I would have answered, but Miss was an age too quick for me. 'Yes,
mamma; we have explained every thing to the full and whole. I have
told it all over to him just now, every syllable the same as I told it
to you, and he does not contradict a word of it.'
'Contradict?' interrupted Enoch. 'But does he say the same?' 'No,
Sir!' answered I with eagerness; that I might if possible, by a
single word, put an end to the eternal clack and false deductions
of this very loving young lady. 'Lord! Mr. Trevor!' exclaimed Miss,
her passions all flying to her eyes, part fire and part water.
'Sure you are not in earnest? You don't mean as you say?'--'I am
very serious, Miss Ellis; and am exceedingly sorry to have been so
misunderstood!'--'Why will you pretend to deny, Mr. Trevor, that all
that I have been rehearsing here, about the play-house; and about the
kindness with which you paid your addresses to me there, and indeed
elsewhere, often and before time; and about your leading me to the
chair; and then your tenderly taking my hand and squeezing it; and
then the look you gave with your eyes; and more than all the loving
manner in which you said good night? Not to mention as before all
that you said and did, sitting next to me in the play-house; enough
to win the affections of any poor innocent virgin! You are not such
a deceiver as that comes to I am sure, Mr. Trevor: you have a more
generous and noble heart!'
Here Miss burst into a flood of tears, and mamma exclaimed--'I am very
much afraid, Mr. Trevor, there have been some improper doings!'
Enoch's anger for once made him honest. 'No such a thing!' said he.
'It is the forward fool's own fault. This is neither the first,
second, nor third time she has played the same pranks.'
The mother and daughter instantly raised their pipes like fifty
ciphered keys in an organ, first against Enoch, then against all the
male kind, and lastly turned so furiously upon me that there seemed to
be danger of their tearing me piece-meal, like as the mad females of
Thrace did the disconsolate Orpheus.
At length I started up in a passion, and exclaimed--'Will you hear me,
ladies?' 'No! no! no!' screamed Miss. 'We won't hear a word! Don't
listen to him, mamma! He is a deceiver! A faithless man! I did not
think there could have been such a one in the whole world! and I am
sure I warned him often enough against it. And after the true friend
that I have been to you, Mr. Trevor! and have taken your part, tooth
and nail! Papa himself knows I have; and would take your part, through
fire and water, against the whole world! and to be so ungrateful, and
so false, and faithless to me in return! Oh shame, Mr. Trevor! Is that
a man? A fine manly part truly! to win a poor virgin's heart and then
to forsake her!'
Finding the sobs and the rhetoric of Miss inexhaustible and every
effort to elucidate fruitless, I rose, told Enoch I would explain
myself to him by letter, opened the door to go, was seized by the coat
by the young lady, and could not without violence, or leaving like
Joseph my garment behind me, have torn myself away, if I had not been
aided by Enoch; who, having according to his own story been probably
present at such scenes before, had sense enough I suppose to be
ashamed of his daughter's conduct.
I hurried home, snatched up my pen, and in an epistle to Enoch
instantly detailed, as minutely as I could recollect them, all the
circumstances of the heroine's behaviour; acknowledging that I had
listened, had suffered the intercourse of knees, legs, and feet, and
as she said had once pressed her hand; that for this I feared I might
have been to blame; but yet, if this were treachery, I knew not very
well how a young man was to conduct himself, so as not to be accused
of being either rude, ridiculous, or a traitor.
While I was writing this letter, it occurred to me that perhaps there
was no small portion of cunning, in the conduct of Miss; that she and
her mamma had remarked my youth, and entire ignorance of the world;
that Enoch himself, though more intent on what he thought deeper
designs, had entertained similar ideas; that Miss had probably been
never before so much delighted with the person of any man, whom she
might approach; and that the females had concluded I might have been
precipitately entangled in marriage, or marriage promises, by this
artful management. Be that as it may: I wrote my letter, eased my
conscience, and took my leave of the whole family.
Mean time, Themistocles had lain with the printer several days; while
I impatiently looked for its appearance, but in vain. I then began to
suspect the paper was under the influence of the earl, wrote to the
editor, and read the next day, among the answers to correspondents,
that the letter signed Themistocles could not be admitted in their
paper: they were friends to proper strictures, but not to libels
against government. My teeth gnashed with rage! I was but ill
qualified, at this period, to teach the benevolent philosophy which
priests of all religions affirm it is their trade to inculcate.
Neither could I procure the manuscript from the bishop. The scene in
Suffolk street had occasioned me to delay sending that evening, but
the next day I wrote a peremptory demand, for it to be delivered to
the bearer; and prevailed on Turl to be my messenger. He returned
with information, that the bishop was gone into the country! but that
the letter would be sent after him immediately, and an answer might
probably be received by the return of post.
I had no alternative, and three days afterward the manuscript was
sent, sealed up and labeled on the back--'To be delivered to the
author, when called for: his address not being known.'
Thus every new incident was a new lesson; unveiling a system, moral,
political and ecclesiastical, which without such experience I could
not have supposed to exist. My conversations with Turl came in aid of
this experience, and they combined to shake the very high opinion I
had conceived of the clerical order: but the finishing blow was yet to
_The return to Oxford: A cold reception: Hector and more of his
inmates: Olivia and the drive to Woodstock: Symptoms of increasing
misfortune: An Oxford scholar brawl: The flight of hope_
The period of my rustication was expired, and the term immediately
preceding the summer vacation was on the point of beginning. I
resolved therefore to return to Oxford, and according to the claim
of rotation take my bachelor's degree. My plans of punishment and my
pursuit of fame must indeed lie dormant a few weeks; but I determined
they should both be revived with increasing ardour, at my return.
I found no inconsiderable pleasure in revisiting the turrets, groves,
and streams of Oxford. Long experience itself could scarcely weed the
sentiment from my mind that these were the sacred haunts of the muses.
It must be owned that such the fancy could easily make them, and that
it is a task in which the fancy delights.
I thought it my duty immediately to visit the president. With respect
to any mention of the letters of recommendation, I scarcely knew how
to behave. The bishop and the president might have been friends in
their youth. The president might have his prejudices. And might there
not even be cruelty in rudely tearing away the mask, and showing him
what a monster he had formerly taken to his bosom? Should he inquire,
I certainly must declare the truth: but should he be silent, what good
inducement had I to speak? The morality of this reasoning was more
questionable than I at that time suspected.
Silent however he was, on that subject. He received me coldly, asked
in a tone that did not wish for information how I liked London, and
concluded with saying he hoped I did not return to set the university
any more bad examples! Not well satisfied myself with my methodistical
paroxysm, I had not a word to offer in its defence. I answered, I
hoped I should set no bad examples, either to the university or the
world; but that I could only act to the best of my judgment, and if
that deceived me I must endure the consequences. 'Exactly so, Mr.
Trevor,' said the president, with a formal dismissing inclination of
the head; and so we parted.
When I had been at college about a week, Hector Mowbray called on me
one morning and told me his father was dead; that Mowbray Hall the
manor and its demesnes were all his own; that he had the best pack of
fox dogs in the county; hunters that would beat the world; setters as
steady as a rifle barrel gun; and coursers that would take the wind in
their teeth; and that he was going up to town with his sister, of whom
he was glad to be rid, to place her with an aunt. 'She would not let
me be quiet,' said Hector, 'but I must come, for she is as obstinate
as a mule, and bring our compliments and her special thanks for a
signal favour, that is her lingo, which she makes a plaguey rout
about; your methodist parson trick, you know, of taking her out of the
water; after your damned canting gang had frightened the horses and
thrown her into it. She says she should have been in her cold grave,
or I don't know what, but for you; but I tell her women and cats are
not so easily killed: and so to please her I agreed to come directly
and ask you to breakfast with us, and spend the day together. I love
Oxford! It was not above thirty miles out of the road, and I never
come within a long shot of it without having _a row_ with the boys and
the bucks. So if you will be one among us, come along. There _is_ tall
Andrews, spanking Jack as I call him, and three or four more of us,
that mean to meet at Woodstock.'
'And take Olivia?'
'To be sure! Andrews is sweet upon her, but she beats off; though he
is a fine fellow! a daring dog! all Christ Church can't beat him! and
when his father is off the hinges, which he swears will be within
these six months, he will make a famous wicked _dash_! I tell her she
is a fool for not taking him: but my talking is all spilt porridge!
she is as piggish as father himself was! So if you come, why come
This was the first pleasant proposal that had been made to me, since
the day of my dining with the bishop! My heart bounded while he spoke!
It was with difficulty I could contain my joy; and the effort must
have been much greater, had not the brother of Olivia been the dull
undiscerning Hector Mowbray.
He would have hurried me away immediately, but I insisted on
decorating my person, and fitting it to appear before the angelic
Impatience like mine would not admit of languor. I was soon equipped,
and flew to feast my senses with rapture ineffable! I staid not to
ask whether it were love, or friendship; or what were my intentions,
hopes, or fears. I felt a host of desires that were eager, tumultuous,
and undecided. The passions were too much in a hurry to institute
inquiry or to have any dread of consequences.
I knew indeed that I already had a lover's hatred of Andrews, and even
took pleasure to hear him characterised by traits so disgusting. That
Olivia should reject such a being was no miracle: and yet it gave me
As I ascended the stairs, strange sensations seized me; such as I had
never known before. The elastic bounds with which I had hurried along
sunk into debility; aspen leaves never trembled more universally than
I did, from head to foot; and as I opened the door my knees, like
Belshazzar's, 'smote one against the other.' A sickness of the stomach
came over me: I turned pale, and was pushed forward by Hector before I
had time to recover myself.
Olivia saw my confusion. In an instant, her sympathetic feelings
caught the infection: she feebly pronounced, 'I am glad to see you,
Mr. Trevor!' and with the hue of death on her countenance, snatched
her handkerchief, turned aside, and uttered two or three hysteric
Andrews, my rival, Hector's spanking Jack, was present, and burst into
a loud laugh! It was a medicine that immediately recovered both of us.
The blood hurried back, flushed the cheeks of Olivia, and dyed them
with a deep but beautiful scarlet. 'I am a strange fool!' said she.
'You came upon me so suddenly, Mr. Trevor! and I never can see an old
friend, after long absence, without these sensations.'
'Long absence!' replied Andrews. 'Why I thought it was only three
or four months since the affair of the methodist preacher and the
drowning, that you were just now telling me about?' 'Pshaw!' exclaimed
Hector, 'if you pester your pate with her crotchets, you will have
enough to do. Come, come, where are the muffins? I begin to cry
cupboard. Beside I want to be off.'
While this dialogue passed I recovered sufficient courage to salute
Olivia; but affection and awe were so mingled that the burning kiss of
love expired in cold blooded constraint and reserve. We then sat down
to the tea table, I on one side of Olivia Hector on the other, with
his right leg on a vacant chair, his left thrown on Olivia's lap,
and Andrews extended sprawling his whole length on a sopha. The two
youths began a conversation in their own style, while I endeavoured
to entertain Olivia with my remarks on London. I related my principal
adventures, expectations, and disappointments, and she appeared to be
deeply interested by the narrative. The questions she put, her tone of
voice, her countenance, all expressed her feelings; and several times
a deep sigh was smothered and with difficulty passed away in a forced
The two youths were so deeply engaged in the pedigree of their
pointers, and so warmly contested whose were the best, that I doubt if
they knew the subject of our discourse. It was a fleeting but happy
Hector still drove his phæton, and breakfast being over it was waiting
at the door, attended by two grooms with two led saddle horses. 'I
will not go, brother,' said Olivia, 'if you drive.' 'He drive?'
replied Andrews. 'Never believe it! No, no Miss Mowbray, I will be
your Jehu. I will wheel you along, over velvet, every yard smooth as
sailing.' 'No Jack,' interrupted Hector, 'that won't do. Trevor is no
company, has nothing to say, or nothing that I want to hear. Sister
and he will match best. He will tell her what is Greek for a gauze
cap, and she will teach him how to make it up. You and I will pair
off together on the hunters, and I'll gallop you the last mile into
Woodstock for your sum: or, look you, the loser pay the expences of
To this proposal, seasoned with oaths three at least to a sentence,
Andrews continued obstinately averse. As Hector did not drive he
would. Nor did he pay any more respect to the opinion of Olivia, who
remarked that he was booted and I was not. 'So much the better,' said
he; 'that is genteel.' 'Nay but really,' added Olivia, 'I shall not
think myself more safe with you, Mr. Andrews, than with my brother.'
Mr. Andrews was deaf; he rudely seized her by the wrists, hauled her
across the room, and swore if she would not go he would take her in
his arms and carry her. My fingers ached to catch him by the collar;
but I could not like him cast off all fear of offending Olivia.
Resistance must either have been violent, or in vain. Olivia
submitted, and I dared not oppose. We mounted, and Andrews drove, for
the first three miles, with some moderation. He then began to play
tricks; took a high quarter and a low one, where he could find them,
to shew his dexterity; whipped and fretted the horses, increased their
rate, and at last put them into a full gallop.
As soon as I perceived what he was doing, I rode full speed after him,
and in an authoritative tone called to him to drive with more care.
He was obliged to slacken his pace before he could understand what I
said. When he had heard me repeat my injunction, which I did with no
little vehemence, he looked at me first in astonishment, then with a
sneer, and was raising his whip to lash the horses forward with fresh
fury. Olivia caught him by the arm, and I immediately called with a
voice of thunder, 'By G----, Sir, if you either injure or terrify the
lady, I will pull you head long from your seat!'
He made no answer, and the contempt his countenance had exhibited the
moment before sunk into sheepishness. I immediately rode forward to
the head of the horses, kept a moderate pace, would not suffer him to
pass me, unless he meant to stake the horse I rode with the pole, and
continued thus for more than a mile, till I was convinced that he had
no more inclination to divert himself by terrifying and endangering
I rode the rest of the way with the heart burn of anxiety, fearful I
had angered Olivia, but not knowing how much. While I kept the lead
to oblige Andrews to temperance, he cursed and muttered. 'It was very
fine! Mighty proper behaviour to a gentleman! But he should see how
it was all to end!' He vented other menaces, which though in too low
a key distinctly to reach my ear were loud enough to produce their
effect on Olivia.
We arrived at Woodstock, and I dismounted and stood ready to receive
Olivia. Andrews followed the example, but she called to her brother
and noticed neither of us. He received her as she alighted, and I
perceiving her serious look said, 'I hope, Miss Mowbray, I have not
offended you?' She made no reply, but stood half a minute, as if to
recover being cramped by sitting. Andrews was then on our left, at
some distance, and I turned to the same side. She saw me and called,
'Mr. Trevor!' She said no more, but her look was too impressive to
be misinterpreted. Hard fate! it could not be obeyed. I pretended
indeed to walk away, but the moment she entered the door of the inn I
hastened back to Andrews and said, 'If you think yourself insulted,
Sir, you have only to inform me of it: I am at your service.'
His answer was--He did not know what I could mean! He had nothing to
say to me. I gave him a contemptuous glance, he followed the grooms,
and I went to seek Olivia.
I approached with trepidation. 'I perceive, Madam,' said I, 'my
conduct is not approved.' She fixed her eye upon me.--'You have been
speaking to Mr. Andrews?' I was silent. 'And a duel?' added she, with
increasing severity mingled with terror. I hastily interrupted her.
'No, Madam, Mr. Andrews is not a man to fight duels.'--'Mr. Andrews
has the more understanding.'
Though the intelligence gave her relief, she spoke in a tone that
petrified. 'Surely, Madam,' I replied, 'you cannot be angry with me
for protecting you from danger and insult?'--'The danger was trifling,
perhaps none; he would not endanger himself; and for insult I must be
left to judge in my own case both what it is, and when it deserves
notice. Men have little respect for women, when they are so ready to
suppose a woman is incapable of being her own protector.'--'Is it then
a crime, Miss Mowbray, to tremble for your safety? or to teach manners
to a brute?'--'Yes: at least, it is weakness to tremble without cause.
You must act as you please, in whatever relates to yourself, but it
is inexpressibly criminal to be ready, on every trifling occasion,
to take or to throw away life. If this be teaching, we have too many
teachers in the world, who have never themselves been to school. I am
personally concerned, and you have asked my opinion; otherwise, Mr.
Trevor, I should have been cautious of giving it.'
The energy with which this reproof, though severe, was begun denoted
what self-flattery might well have construed into affection; for
it proved the interest the lovely chider took in the rectitude of
my conduct. But the kindness of it seemed to be all killed, in the
formality and coldness of the conclusion. I stood speechless. She
perceived the effect she had produced, and in a soft and relenting
tone added--'I do not seek to wound your feelings, Mr. Trevor. Oh no!
Would I could'--The angel checked herself, but soon with returning
enthusiasm continued--'Ideas at this instant rush upon my mind
that'--Again she paused--'You saved my life--but'--The tears started
in her eyes, her voice faltered, she could not proceed. She had rung
to inquire for a dressing room, the damned maid entered, Olivia
followed, and I remained in speechless stupefaction, with the dreadful
_but_ reverberating in my ear.
Andrews and Hector came in. Had the former known my thoughts, he would
have rejoiced at such ample vengeance. He talked to Mowbray, but took
no notice of what had passed. They ordered dinner, and asked if I
would stroll with them to Blenheim house? I excused myself and away
I remained anxiously expecting that Olivia would come down; and,
having waited till the approach of dinner time, I sent the maid, with
my compliments, to inform her that I should be glad to speak a word to
her. The answer I received was that she should see me in half an hour.
I sent again, but to no purpose; I could not catch a glimpse of her
till the youths had returned, and dinner was on the table.
They brought two gownsmen of Christ Church with them, companions of
Andrews, who were quite as talkative and nearly as rude and boisterous
as themselves. Olivia had not perhaps all her accustomed vivacity, but
she behaved with infinitely more ease and chearfulness than I could
have wished, and I felt as if I were the only disconsolate guest.
The players were at Woodstock, and were to exhibit that afternoon.
They began at four o'clock, that the gownsmen might have time to
return to Oxford; hoping that would be a favourable circumstance for
them with the vice chancellor, who, as I have said, is generally
inimical to theatrical exhibition, and whose influence extends to
Woodstock. The party all voted for the play, except Olivia, who
observed their inclination to riot, and ineffectually attempted to
persuade them to return. I was glad to find them obstinate; it might
afford me an opportunity of speaking with her, for which I would
almost have given an eye. A servant was sent to keep places, in one of
the six boxes which the theatre, fitted up in a barn, contained.
The youths sat so late to enjoy the folly of their own conversation
that the play had begun before we came there, and inquiring for our
box we found it in the possession of four gownsmen, who had turned
the servant out and seized upon it for themselves. Hector and Andrews
began to swear outrageously! Tigers could not have appeared more
fierce. They entered the box, and addressed its usurpers in the gross
vulgar terms to which they had been accustomed. They were immediately
answered in their own language; and tall Andrews and the bulky Hector
each laid hold of his man, who were much their inferiors in strength
and size, to turn them out.
I was standing to guard Olivia, who seemed pleased that I should be
rather so engaged than more actively employed. But my aid was soon
necessary: Hector and Andrews each received a blow, which neither of
them had the courage to return, though their opponents were little
better than boys. Fired at their pusillanimity, I darted by and seized
the little gownsmen, one in one hand and the other in the other,
pressed my knuckles in their neck, shook them heartily, and dragged
them out of the box. The two other collegians of our squadron, seeing
this intrepid advance, followed up the victory; Hector and Andrews
again blustered and lent their aid, and the box was cleared.
This did not all pass in a moment: the Oxonians, and there were
numbers of them in the theatre, crouded to the spot; and it was with
difficulty a general riot, to which these youths are always prone,
could be prevented.
At last we made way to the box; but no words could persuade Olivia
to enter it. She insisted on returning to the inn. I interceded, her
brother swore, and Andrews attempted to hold her; but her resolution
was not to be shaken. 'I am in a society of mad boys!' said she.
'I hoped to have found one rational being among them, but I was
The sentence was short, but every syllable was an arrow that wounded
me to the heart. I was the supposed rational being, in whom she had
placed her hopes, and by whom she had been deceived. A second time
I had disregarded the benevolent wisdom with which she had vainly
endeavoured to inspire me, had acted in open defiance of her peaceful
morality, and had forfeited all claim to her esteem. I read my doom,
not only in her words but in her whole deportment.
While I stood drawing these painful conclusions, motionless, or active
only in my fears, a messenger arrived whose coming gave a climax to my
ill fortune. He brought a letter, informing Olivia that her aunt, whom
she was on her journey to visit, was dangerously ill; and, if Olivia
desired to see her alive, she must hasten to London with all possible
speed. The news entirely put an end to the endeavours of Hector and
his companions to detain her at the play. A servant was sent forward
to prepare a post-chaise for Olivia, in which she insisted on
returning to Oxford by herself, and we all immediately proceeded back
to the inn. Just before we reached the inn, Hector and his companions
being engaged in noisy disputation, I said to Olivia in a half
whisper--'Have I then, Madam, forfeited all claims to your good
opinion?'--She paused for a moment and replied--'The incidents of
to-day, Mr. Trevor, have but confirmed the character which was long
since given me of you, and which I began to hope was not strictly
true. The benefit you have conferred on me I shall never forget: it
has induced me to be more prompt in my desire to prevent mischief than
you perhaps might think became me. Such a trial can scarcely occur
again, and if it should I will endeavour to use greater caution. Yet
suffer me, for the last time, earnestly to advise you to be less rash.
Were I your sister, Mr. Trevor, I should be in continual alarms, and
the most unhappy creature existing.'
Andrews heard her voice, and, prompted as I suppose either by jealousy
or malice, put an end to our dialogue. I would have given worlds, if
I had possessed them, to have continued it only five minutes; but
no such blessing could be obtained; Andrews was alert, and Olivia
appeared to avoid further parley. In a quarter of an hour the carriage
was ready, and Olivia stepped into it and was driven away full speed.
Andrews would have remained, to see the play; and Hector, had not I
shamed him into the contrary, would have consented; but in consequence
of my remonstrances they mounted, accompanied by the rest of their
clamorous comrades on horseback, and I was left to the melancholy
office of driving the phæton, with the seat vacant that had so lately
been occupied by Olivia.
We hurried off, helter skelter, no one respecting his neck, and I the
least (for Olivia was before) and rode and drove at such a rate that
we overtook the chaise a mile before it reached Oxford. What relief
was this to me! She sat concealed in the corner of the carriage, and
I could catch no glimpse of her. I durst not even drive past, lest
I should add to the mortal offence I had already given, and confirm
her in the belief that I was no better than a madman: or, in her own
emphatic language, a mad boy!
The pain of suspence was quickly over. We all soon arrived at Oxford.
A courier had been dispatched from Woodstock by the affectionately
impatient niece, with orders to have another chaise in readiness; and,
after briefly bidding her brother and the company adieu, she stepped
out of the carriage which brought her from Woodstock into the one
that was waiting, and again was driven off, while I stood gazing in a
trance of painful stupidity.
This was the last glance I had of her! and, rejecting the invitation
to supper of Hector and his party with more sullenness than I had ever
felt before, I returned to the college, burst into my room, locked
the door, and threw myself down on the boards, in a state of the most
END OF VOLUME II
_Gloomy thoughts: Filial emotions: A journey to the country: A
lawyer's accounts not easily closed: Conscientious scruples: The
legacy received and divided: Return to Oxford: More disappointment:
Treachery suspected: Arrival at London: Difficulty in choosing a
My agitation of mind was too violent to be quickly appeased; it did
not end with the day, or with the week; but on the contrary excited
interrogatories that prolonged the paroxysm. Why was I disturbed? Why
angry with myself? Why did I accuse Olivia of being severe, or what
did the accusation mean? What were my views? From the tumultuous state
of my emotions, I could not disguise to myself that I had an affection
for her: but had she ever intimated an affection for me? Was the
passion that devoured me rational? She was of a wealthy family: of the
provision her father had made for her I was ignorant; but I knew that
her expectations from the aunt, said to be now dying, and from others
of her kindred, were great. Was I prepared to accept favours, make
myself a dependent, and be subservient to the unfeeling caprice of
Hector, or any other proud and ignorant relation? Did not such people
esteem wealth as the test and the measure of worth? What counterpoise
had I, but sanguine hopes? of the probable fallacy of which I had
already received strong proofs; and which did not, in the pictures
that fancy at present drew, burst upon me with those bright and
vivid flashes that had lately made them so alluring. My passions and
propensities all led me to seek the power of conferring benefits,
controlling folly, and of being the champion of merit, and the
rewarder of virtue. Ought I not either to renounce Olivia, or to
render myself in every respect her equal; and to disdain the degrading
insolence with which any pretensions of mine would otherwise be
received. Had I no reason to fear that Olivia herself was a little
influenced by personal considerations? Would she have been quite so
ready to disapprove, had the advantages of fortune been on my side?
Was this inferiority entirely disregarded by her? The doubt was
grating, but pertinaciously intrusive. Would not any proposal from me
be treated with the most sovereign contempt, if not by her, by Hector
and her other relations? Why then did I think of her? It was but a
very few days since the wealth and power that should have raised me,
far above the sphere of the Mowbray family, were supposed to be within
my grasp. How painful was the distance at which they now appeared! My
present debility was felt with intolerable impatience. To love and to
be unable to heap happiness on the object beloved, was a thought that
assailed me with excruciating sensations!
At this very period another event happened, that did not contribute to
enliven the prospect.
I had lately received intelligence from my mother, the tenor of which
was that she dreaded the approach of poverty; and about a fortnight
after the departure of Olivia, a letter came, by which I learned that
lawyer Thornby had refused all further supplies, affirming that my
grandfather's effects were entirely exhausted; except the thousand
pounds left by the rector at my own disposal. Of this I had already
received fifty pounds; and my mother urgently declared in her letter
that, if I did not apply part of the remainder for her support, she
should be left in the decline of life (the approach of which she was
now very ready to acknowledge) in imminent danger of want; nay, so as
perhaps even to come upon the parish. My pride revolted at the very
thought; and I was angry with her for having conceived or committed it
Should I suffer my mother to want? No. To become a pauper? My heart
spurned at the base suggestion. I had been several years under the
tuition of the rector, and had acquired more than was good of his
family dignity. The picture before me was not a pleasing one, but I
would subject myself to any hardships, ay would starve on a grain a
day, rather than abandon my mother. My motives were mixed; some wrong
This affair made me resolve once more to visit my native country, and
my resolution was immediately put in practice. It was a relief, though
of a painful kind, to the more painful state in which my undecided
thoughts at that moment held me. The man whose contradictory impulses
goad him in a thousand different directions, without permitting him to
pursue any one, is happy to be put in motion.
My arrival was unexpected: my mother, who was but little inclined
to accuse herself, received me with much more satisfaction than
The behaviour of Thornby was not quite so self-complacent. My
questions, concerning the receipt and disbursement of my grandfather's
property, were sometimes answered with the affectation of open
honesty; and at others with petulant ambiguity, so that I knew not
whether he meant to shun or to provoke inquiry. 'Executorship was a
very thankless office; it involved a man in continual trouble, for
which he could receive no recompence, and then subjected him to the
suspicions of people, who were unable or unwilling to look after their
own affairs. His very great friendship for the rector had induced him
to take this office upon himself, though he well knew the trouble and
tediousness attending it, and the ingratitude with which it was always
repaid. He had several times in his life played the fool in the same
way, and had always met with the same reward.'
Equivocation is the essence of law, and I believe he spoke truth.
'He should take care, however, not to involve himself in such
officious troubles for the future. As for the accounts, he was
ready at all times, and desirous to have them settled. He had been
plagued enough, and had even paid money out of his own pocket, which
he was sure, whenever a balance came to be struck, he should not
be reimbursed. But there were various affairs that he could not
immediately close; law accounts, bad debts, mortgages, and other
matters that required time. He had business of his own to which he
must attend, or be ruined; his clients would have good actions against
him, if it could be proved that their suits were lost by his neglect.
Indeed he was not bound to give me any account; but he always acted on
the square, and therefore defied scrutiny; nay, he wished it, for what
had an honest man to fear?'
He talked so much of his honesty that, if he did not quite persuade me
it was immaculate, he at least led me to doubt.
Beside, as he had reminded me, what claims had I? The property was
bequeathed to my mother; she had married, her husband had squandered
it away, and there was an end of it. Farther inquiry was but vexation
and loss of time. It is true, the supposed wealth of the rector had
quickly disappeared: but if the owner of it, my mother's husband, were
satisfied, what could be said?
She indeed hinted to me that Wakefield, finding he could wrest no more
from his uncle, unless by filing a bill in Chancery, or some other
process at law, for which he had no funds, not to mention the great
chance of his being cast in costs of suit, had been obliged to desist;
though convinced that the property was not one half expended. He had
a better hope. Thornby was old, had no children, and might soon leave
him the whole.
With most men this would have been a powerful motive; but the passions
of her young husband, my mother owned, were too impetuous to be
restrained by the cold considerations of prudence. At first she
censured him with reluctance; for to censure him was in reality to
adduce mementos of her own folly; but her resentment against him
for having deserted her presently overpowered her caution, and the
pictures she drew shewed him to be not only dissipated and prodigal
but unprincipled. He had even so far offended the law, that it was
doubtful whether his life were not in danger; and Thornby, whose plans
had been frustrated by his extravagance, had more ways than one of
ridding himself of his importunity.
In any case it was necessary to make some provision for my mother;
and, embroiled in doubt as I was, the most prudent way that I could
imagine was to consult Thornby.
He affected to be very conscientious, and scarcely knew what advice to
give. 'My mother was in want, and to desert her would be cruel; yet
the money that was devised me was my own: it was bequeathed for a good
purpose, and the pious will of the testator ought to be held sacred.
I was young, the grandson of a good man, an excellent man, and his
dear friend. I had great learning and good sense, and ought not to be
deprived of the means that had been left me of establishing myself in
life. But then my mother had been tenderly brought up, and a dutiful
son to be sure could not desert his parent. It was a difficult point.
To purchase a life annuity for her would be the best way of securing
her, against the miseries of poverty in old age; but then it would
sink deeply into the thousand pounds to make but a very moderate
provision of this kind; though he knew no other method in her case
that would be so safe.'
While I listened I resolved. To provide for my mother I held to be
an indispensable duty; and, notwithstanding my late disappointments,
my fears for myself were but few. People of a sanguine temper are
subject to temporary doubt and gloom; but the sky soon clears, and
though one bright star may shoot and fall, hope soon creates a whole
constellation. The earl and the prelate had both been unprincipled;
but the failure was in them, not in me. I could not but remember
the terror that Themistocles had excited in a prime minister; and
the avidity with which a prelate had endeavoured to profit by my
theological talents. How certainly and how soon could I bring these
talents into notice! How easy the task! I need but mount the rostrum,
I need but put pen to paper, and my adversaries would be brought to
shame, and mankind taught to do me justice. Incontrovertible facts
were in my favour; and to foster doubts and fears would be cowardice,
self-desertion, and folly! Such were my conclusions.
I determined therefore, without farther hesitation, to employ the sum
of five hundred pounds in the purchase of an annuity for my mother.
The remainder would amply supply me, till those rich mines should be
explored from the fertile veins of which I had already drawn such
I continued in the country almost three weeks; but, as the purchase
could not instantly be concluded, I left the stipulated sum in my
mother's possession, drew the remainder of the thousand pounds in
bills and cash from Thornby, and, with more wealth than I ever bore
about me at one time before, returned to Oxford.
Though Olivia was daily and hourly remembered, I had recovered so far
by the business in which I had been engaged as to think seriously of
pursuing my studies; for by their aid I was to realize those splendid
projects on which, as I supposed, the happiness of man depends.
The learning, which the general forms of taking a degree require, is
so little that a man of genius is inclined to treat it with contempt:
but, if the candidate happen to be obnoxious to the heads of the
university, his examination may then be of a very different kind. I
had not much doubt; for, from the questions and answers I had so often
heard on these occasions, to reject me seemed to be almost impossible.
Yet I was not entirely without alarm. The disgrace of rustication
that I had suffered, the coldness of the reception I had met from the
president on my return to college, and the ambiguity which I conceived
I had since remarked in his manner, excited some fear; and my
preparatory efforts were so strenuous that I imagined I might defy
I had been told indeed that malice had a very strange mode of exerting
itself, but which was so arbitrary and odious as to be but rarely
practised. Any member of convocation, or master of arts, without
assigning any cause for his conduct, may object, for two terms, to
a person who shall ask leave to take his degree! Nay, these terms
ended, another may object, and another! But this was a privilege so
disgusting that I had not the least apprehension it would be put in
practice against me.
To my utter astonishment, I was mistaken! On the day appointed to ask
leave, a master of arts actually did appear, and without supporting
his objection by reasoning, charge, or censure, exercised this
detestable university veto.
My surprize and indignation, at hearing him pronounce his negative,
were so great that I was deprived of utterance. I even doubted the
reality of what I heard: I stood gazing, till he was gone, and then
exclaimed, as if to a person present--'Me, Sir!--Do you mean me?'
A minute afterward, my interjections were not quite so inoffensive. A
torrent of passion burst from me, and he, whose malignity could not
justly assert I wanted learning, might, had he stayed, have collected
sufficient proofs of my want of philosophy.
My attention had been diverted from the accuser, by my amazement at
the accusation; but, as soon as I recovered my recollection, it seemed
to me certain that I knew his face. The idea was seized with so much
eagerness, and associations occurred so rapidly, that the figure of
one of my companions, on the night of the debauch when I first came
to Oxford, rose full before me; though he had been absent from the
university, so that till this day I had never seen him since. It was
the very tutor of the Earl of Idford!
A train of the most tormenting suspicions rushed upon me. I soon
learned, from inquiry, that he was intimate likewise with the
president. Was not this a combination? What could it be else? This
tutor was connected with the earl and the president; so was the latter
with the bishop!
The whole plot, in its blackest hues, seemed developed.
My agitation was extreme. I ran from college to college, wherever I
had acquaintance, repeating all I knew and much of what I suspected.
Nor did I merely confine myself to narrative. I added threats, which,
however impotent they might be, were not the less violent. One of my
first projects was to seek personal satisfaction of the vile tutor, or
if he refused to chastise him with inexorable severity; but this he
had taken care to elude, by keeping out of the way.
My denunciations soon reached the ear of the president, and I was
given to understand that, if I were not immediately silent, I should
be expelled the university; and that a degree would never be granted
me, till I had publicly retracted the opprobrious words I had uttered.
Distant consequences are easily defied. My blood was in a flame, and
despising the menace, I publicly declared that my persecutors were
as infamous as the tool they had employed; that I should think it a
disgrace to be a member of a body which could countenance proceedings
so odiously wicked; that I spurned at every honour such a body could
confer; and that, with respect to expulsion, I would myself erase my
name from the register in which it had unfortunately been entered.
How little is man aware that by intemperance he damns his own cause,
and gives the face of seeming honesty to injustice itself! Vicious as
the place is, I myself could not abhor such proceedings more than many
men in Oxford would have done, had they believed the tale.
Fortune still continued in her wayward mood. On the heel of one
perverse imp another often treads. While I remained at Oxford, which
was but a few days after this event, the retailing of my wrongs was my
chief employment; and in a coffee-room, to which I resorted for this
purpose, the following advertisement in a London newspaper met my
THIS DAY IS PUBLISHED:
A DEFENCE OF THE THIRTY NINE ARTICLES
RIGHT REVEREND FATHER IN GOD ******
LORD BISHOP OF ******
Injustice had by this time become so familiar to me that, scourged
even to frenzy as I was, I sat rather stunned than transfixed by the
blow. That this was the very defence of the articles I had written did
not, with me, admit of a moment's doubt. Every thing I had heard or
remarked, of this wicked but weak church governor, had afforded proof
of his incapacity for such a task; yet the injustice, effrontery and
vice of the act was what till seen could not have been believed!
Nor did its baseness end here. What could I suppose, but that the
bishop had been assiduously tampering with the president; that they
and the earl were in a conspiracy against me; that this was the cause
of the disgrace and insult put upon me; and that, having robbed me
of my writings, there was a concerted and fixed plan to render me
contemptible, take away my character, and devote me to ruin?
The longer I thought the more painful were the sensations that
assaulted me. I had already been complaining to the whole city. Some
few indeed seemed to credit me; but more to suspect; and none heard of
my treatment with that glowing detestation which my feelings required.
Were I to tell this new tale, incredibly atrocious as it was, what
would men think, but that I was a general calumniator, a frantic
egotist, and a man dangerous to society? The total inability that I
felt in myself, to obtain ample and immediate justice, almost drove me
I had previously determined to quit Oxford, and this new goad did but
quicken my departure. My preparations were soon made; and from some
vague, and to myself undefined ideas, partly of expedition, and partly
of letting the president, the college, and the whole university see
that I, Hugh Trevor, was no ordinary person, a chaise and four waited
my commands at the gate about noon the next day, behind which my goods
and chattels were buckled, and I, after taking leave of the two or
three friends who were thoughtless or courageous enough to acknowledge
me, threw myself indignantly into it, with more maledictions in my
heart than my impatient tongue could find energy to utter.
Arrived in London, it especially became me, as I supposed, to assume
that consequence which should teach my enemies respect. I had money in
my pocket, anger impelling me, and more pride than prudence. A waiter
was dispatched from the Gloucester coffee-house, and apartments for
myself and a valet were hired, in Half Moon Street, at three guineas
and a half per week. The valet was a sudden decision, originating in
the same false feelings that had lately taken possession of me. When I
consulted the mistress of the coffee-house concerning apartments, she
said, 'You have a servant to be sure, Sir?' 'Yes, madam;' replied my
alarmed vanity. 'No, madam;' instantly retorted my veracity, still
more alarmed; 'but I mean to hire one.' 'There,' continued she,
pointing to a smart well powdered young fellow that was talking to one
of the waiters, 'there stands one out of place, who I dare say will be
glad of a good master. Here, Philip!'
I was one of the fools who, right or wrong, imagine it behooves
them to be consistent. I was ashamed to retract, had not learned to
prevaricate, and Philip, to whom as a footman I could discover no
rational objection, was hired.
My effects were presently removed; my useless valet sent to loiter,
and improve himself in vice, as valets usually are, and I left to
meditate on the plan I had to pursue.
A little reflection induced me to renounce all thoughts of the church;
for which indeed the doubts that the conversation of Turl had inspired
me with, the inquiries to which these doubts led, and the disgust I
had conceived at the character and conduct of the bishop had well
For some time I sat perplexed in thought. During the life of the
rector, I had often been told that the law was the road to honour;
and when at the university, being eager to secure this said honour
to myself, I had laboriously read some of the civilians. I say
laboriously, for the task was far from inviting. The obscurity of
their terms, the contradictions I thought I discovered, and the
voluminous perplexity in which the whole was involved, were no
With what pleasure did the wearied intellect escape from this
wilderness of weeds and brambles, to rove through the paradise of
poetry. The minstrelsy of genius, sporting with the fancy rouzing the
passions and unfolding the secrets of the heart, could fascinate at
all times; while nothing could sooner create lassitude and repugnance
than the incongruous jargon of law.
But, alas, who ever heard of a poet being made Lord High Chancellor?
Appoint him to such a station and he would act like a madman! Instead
of employing his journeymen to dig through the rubbish of ignorance
for precedents, he would listen to the wants of the injured, and would
conceive that by relieving them only he could do justice! Did not the
history of the world proclaim that, he who would attain wealth and
power must turn the prejudices of mankind to their own harm?
_The play-house, and an old acquaintance: Satirical portraits:
Reception of a new comedy; or, of how much worth are praise and
These were painful reflections, and, leaving the case undetermined
for the present, I escaped from them by shifting the scene to the
play-house. It happened to be the first night of a new comedy, and
here in the boxes I perceived an acquaintance, whom I had met at the
house of Ellis. His name was Glibly, and the moment he saw me enter he
advanced and accosted me with that familiarity which was essential to
Glad of company, in a city where I was so little known, I freely
entered into conversation with him; and the amusement he afforded me
well repaid my complaisance. He had long been what is called upon the
town, and was acquainted more or less with all orders of men. He was
intimate with authors, actors, and artists, of every kind and degree;
knew their private and public history, could give anecdotes of each,
and enumerate their various performances. Opera girls and their
keepers, musicians and musical dilletanti, connoiseurs and their
jackalls, (picture dealers and auctioneers) collectors, shell fossil
and fiddle fanciers, in short every class of idlers that I have
since found swarming in this miscellaneous town ranked among his
He had long, as I afterward discovered, been a newspaper critic; had
written prologues, appeared in poet's corner, abounded in sarcastic
remarks, and possessed an Athenian loquacity. He had indeed a copious
vocabulary, an uncommon aptitude of phrase, though not free from
affectation, and a tide of tongue that was incessant.
He probably thought my personal appearance creditable, for he did
not quit me during the performance, but amused me with the satirical
portraits of various people, whom he pointed out to me in the house.
'Do you see that man,' said he, 'who is just entering; three boxes
distant on the right? He is handing two ladies to their seats, and is
followed by a youngster who is all pertness and powder. They make a
great shew, and on a first night give an appearance of good company.
That is Mynheer van Hopmeister, a Dutch dancing-master, with his
daughter, son, and a kept mistress. They live all together on very
good terms; and his own girl has preserved her character by her
ugliness, affectation, and ill breeding. He drives about in his
chariot, which passing in the street you would suppose belonged to
a Neapolitan Count, or a German Envoy at least. He gives dinners
occasionally of several removes, to which he invites all the fools and
fiddlers he can find, treats with French wines, and usually makes up a
quartet party for the evening, which he spoils by playing a principal
part himself. He is nearly two thousand pounds in debt; and, in all
things mimicking the great, has been obliged to put his affairs to
nurse. Except the booby his son, he is the most prating, forward,
ignorant coxcomb of my acquaintance; and that is a bold word. But his
impertinence makes him amusing: I will introduce you.'
I thanked my gentleman for his politeness, but declined the offer: and
'Look at that man in brown, leaning against the pillar! He is a
painter, and a man of genius; but the greatest ass existing!'
'How? Of genius, and--!'
'Hear and judge for yourself. No man has studied his art with so much
assiduity and zeal, or practised it with greater enthusiasm; but,
instead of confining himself to portrait-painting, by which with half
the labour and one tenth of the talent he might have made a fortune,
he devoted all his youth to poverty and starving, and undertook a
series of paintings that would have immortalized a man under the
patronage of Leo. X. This task he was years in accomplishing, living
all the while on little better than bread and water, and that procured
by robbing his nights of the hours of rest; for his pride, which he
calls independence, is as great as his ambition, which he dignifies
with the title of a love of fame. But the most prominent trait in his
character is a jealous--'
Here my commentator, suddenly interrupting himself, pressed my arm,
and bade me turn to the left.
'There,' said he pointing, 'is a Mr. Migrate; a famous clerical
character, and as strange an original as any this metropolis affords.
He is not entitled to make a figure in the world either by his riches,
rank, or understanding; but with an effrontery peculiar to himself
he will knock at any man's door, though a perfect stranger, ask him
questions, give him advice, and tell him he will call again to give
him more the first opportunity. By this means he is acquainted with
every body, but knows nobody; is always talking, yet never says any
thing; is perpetually putting some absurd interrogation, but before it
is possible he should understand the answer puts another. His desire
to be informed torments himself and every man of his acquaintance,
which is almost every man he meets; yet, though he lives inquiring,
he will die consummately ignorant. His brain is a kind of rag shop,
receiving and returning nothing but rubbish. It is as difficult to
affront as to get rid of him; and though you fairly bid him begone
to-day, he will knock at your door, march into your house, and if
possible keep you answering his unconnected fifty times answered
queries tomorrow. He is the friend and the enemy of all theories and
of all parties; and tortures you to decide for him which he ought
to chuse. As far as he can be said to have opinions, they are crude
and contradictory in the extreme; so that in the same breath he
will defend and oppose the same system. With all this confusion of
intellect, there is no man so wise but he will prescribe to him how he
ought to act, and even send him written rules for his conduct. He has
been a great traveller, and continually abuses his own countrymen for
not adopting the manners and policy of the most ignorant, depraved,
and barbarous nations of Europe and Africa. He pretends to be the
universal friend of man, a philanthropist on the largest scale, yet is
so selfish that he would willingly see the world perish, if he could
but secure paradise to himself. Indeed he can think of no other being;
and his child, his canary bird, his cook-maid, or his cat, are the
most extraordinary of God's creatures. This is the only consistent
trait in his character. In the same sentence, he frequently joins
the most fulsome flattery and some insidious question; that asks the
person, whom he addresses, if he do not confess himself to be both
knave and fool. Delicacy of sentiment is one of his pretensions,
though his tongue is licentious, his language coarse, and he is
occasionally seized with fits of the most vulgar abuse. He declaims
against dissimulation, yet will smilingly accost the man whom--'Ha!
Migrate! How do you do? Give me leave to introduce you to Mr. Trevor,
a friend of mine; a gentleman and a scholar; just come from Oxford.
Your range of knowledge and universal intimacy, with men and things,
may be useful to him; and his erudite acquisitions, and philosophical
research, will be highly gratifying to an inquirer like you. An
intercourse between you must be mutually pleasing and beneficial, and
I am happy to bring you acquainted.'
This, addressed to the man whom he had been satirizing so unsparingly,
was inconceivable! The unabashed facility with which he veered, from
calumny to compliment, the very moment too after he had accused the
man whom he accosted of dissimulation, struck me dumb. I had perhaps
seen something like it before, but nothing half so perfect in its
kind. It doubly increased my stock of knowledge; it afforded a new
instance of what the world is, and a new incitement to ask how it
became so? The inquiry at first was painful, and half convinced me of
the truth of manicheism; but deeper research taught me that the errors
of man do not originate in the perversity of his nature, but of his
These however were most of them after thoughts, for Glibly did not
allow us any long pause.
'Yonder, in the green boxes,' said he, 'I perceive Mrs. Fishwife, the
actress. She should have played in the comedy we are come to see, but
threw up her part from scruples of conscience. It was not sufficiently
refined for her exquisite sensibility; it wounded her feelings,
offended her morals, and outraged her modesty. Yet in the Green-room,
she is never happy unless when the men are relating some lewd tale, or
repeating obscene jests; at every one of which she bursts into a horse
laugh, and exclaims--'Oh, you devil! But I don't hear you! I don't
understand a word you say!' To heighten the jest, her armours are as
public as the ladies on Harris's List.'
'But perhaps there is something violently offensive and immoral, in
the part she refused?'
'Not a syllable. The writer is too dull even for a _double entendre_,
as you will hear. Mere pretence. The author, who happens by some odd
accident to have more honesty than wit, and could not in conscience
comply with the present vicious mode of bestowing indiscriminate
praise on actors, when no small mixture of blame had been merited by
many of them, forbore to write a preface to his last piece; from which
she had thought herself secure of a large dose of flattery. This is an
offence she can never pardon.'
'I have heard,' said Migrate, 'that our actresses are become
'Oh ridiculous beyond belief. I have a letter in my pocket from a
young friend in a country company, the ladies of which have their
sensibility strung up to so fine a tone that he cannot take the
tragedy of King Lear for his benefit, because not one of them will
play either Regan or Goneril. If their feelings are so exquisite in
the country, where our wise laws treat players as vagabonds, what must
they be when loaded with all the legal, tragic, and royal dignity of a
This was so incredible that I expressed my doubts of the fact; but
they were ill founded, for Glibly produced the letter.
A moment afterward two more of his acquaintance caught his eye.
'Look to the right,' said he; 'the box next the gallery. There they
sit! Mr. and Mrs. Whiffle-Wit! They are now in state! They have really
a capacious appearance! Were Rubens or Jordaens but here, we should
have them painted in all the riches of oil colours, grinning in
company with Silenus and his ass. Let the poor author beware; they are
prodigious critics! Madam can write a farce, or even a solution to an
enigma, with as little labour as any lady in the land; and her dear
Mr. Whiffle-Wit can set them both to music, with no less facility and
genius! Nothing can equal them, except his own jigs on the organ! They
never fail to attend the first night of a new play; and their taste
is so very refined that nothing less than writing it themselves could
afford them satisfaction. They never admire any nonsense but their
own. The manager and author have always to thank them for exerting
their whole stock of little wit, and abundant envy, to put the house
into an ill temper. The favour is the more conspicuous because
they are _orderly people_. But that perhaps is a phrase you do not
understand, Mr. Trevor? They never pay for their places; yet always
occupy a first row for themselves, and in general the rest of the box
for their friends; who they take good care shall be as well disposed
toward the house and the author as they are. You may be sure to meet
them to-morrow, very industriously knocking at every door where they
can gain admission, to tell their acquaintance what a vile piece it
was; and what a strange blockhead the manager must be, who had refused
farces of their writing, and operas of their setting, yet could dare
to insult the town with such trash! They have now continued for years
in this state of surprise, and there is no knowing when it will end.'
The satire of Glibly was incessant, till the tinkling of the
prompter's bell, and the rising of the curtain, put an end to his
remarks on persons, and turned them all on the piece. I cannot but
own the author opened an ample field for the effluvia of critic gall.
I know not whether Glibly might influence the tone of my mind, but I
think I never felt such ineffable contempt for any human production
as for the thing called a comedy, which I that night saw. Disjointed
dialogue, no attempt at plan or fable, each scene a different story,
and each story improbable and absurd, quibbles without meaning, puns
without point, cant without character, sentiments as dull as they were
false, and a continual outrage on manners, morals and common sense,
were its leading features. Yet, strange to tell, the audience endured
it all; and, by copious retrenchments and plaistering and patching,
this very piece had what is called a run!
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