The Adventures of Hugh Trevor
Part 8 out of 12
'All is not right: but yet I hope it will be. I know not by what
means. It seems indeed impossible! And perhaps it is; and yet I hope!
I hope! I hope!'
'Well, well: I am glad of that. We should all hope. We are bid to
hope. God help us if we did not. Perhaps I can't give you any help?
I suppose that is beyond me. I am sorry for it. But what can a poor
carpenter do, in the way of befriending a gentleman?'
'A poor carpenter can have a kind heart; and I do not know whether
that is not the most blessed thing on earth! Did you ever hear me
repeat the name of Olivia?'
'Yes; when you were light-headed, I heard the name many a time and
often. And the nurse said you raved of nobody else. But we could none
of us find out who she was. Though, I must say, I have often enough
wished to ask: but that I did not think it became me to seem to be at
'That is the lady you have been in company with to-night. It is she
whom you have helped me to save. I was sufficiently indebted to you
before: but what am I then at present?'
'Well, that to be sure is accidental enough! I could not have thought
it! How oddly things do fall out! But I am glad of it with all my
'I could not see much of her, to be sure; though I looked with all the
eyes I had: but I thought somehow she seemed as fine a young creature
as I had ever beheld since the hour I was born; which the mildness of
her voice did but make the more likely. I thought to myself, I never
in my days heard any living soul so sweet-spoken. So that I must say
things have fallen out very strangely.
'I always said to my Sally, there must be something between you and
the gentlewoman the name of _which_ was on your tongue's end so often,
while you were down in the fever; and I am glad to the heart that you
have happened on her again so unexpectedly: though I can see no good
reason, now you have found her, why you should be in such a hurry to
The unaffected participation of Clarke in all my joys and sorrows, the
questions which his feelings impelled him to put, and the fidelity of
his nature, as well as the impulse which passion gave me to disburthen
my mind, were all of them inducements to speak; and I informed him of
many of those particulars which have already been recited.
The more intimately he became acquainted with my history, the more
powerfully he seemed imbued with my hopes and fears; and the better
satisfied I was with the confidence I had reposed in him. I am unable
to paint the honest indignation of his feelings and phraseology
at the injustice which he as well as I supposed had been done me,
the depression of his countenance when I dwelt on the despair and
wretchedness which the almost impossibility of my obtaining Olivia
inspired, and the animation with which he seemed as it were to set
his shoulders to the wheel, when my returning fervor led me to the
opposite extreme, and gave me confidence in my own powers and the
strenuous exertions on which I was resolved.
The conversation continued long after we retired to rest; so that our
sleep was short: for we were up again very early, before it was light,
and continued our journey to London; where we arrived a little after
nine in the morning.
I immediately proceeded to the lodging of Miss Wilmot; whom I found
where I had left her, and who was truly rejoiced to see me. Clarke
had never been in London: I therefore took him with me, gave a proper
account of him to Miss Wilmot, and we all breakfasted together,
while Mary waited; whose features as well as her words sufficiently
testified the unexpected pleasure of the meeting, and who artlessly
related the apprehensions of herself and my few friends, at not
hearing from me.
My first enquiries were concerning Wilmot and Turl; and I was
delighted to learn that Wilmot, whom I left in a sickly state of mind
that was seriously alarming, had been awakened by Turl to a more just
sense of human affairs; and had recovered much of the former vigour
and elasticity of his talents.
His sister told me that he was at present engaged in a periodical
publication; and had beside composed a considerable part of a comedy:
of which Turl, as well as herself, conceived the greatest hopes.
The reader scarcely need be told that this intelligence gave me great
pleasure. It led me to revolve mighty matters in my own mind, created
emulation, and inspired me with increasing confidence and alacrity.
Yes, said I, exultingly, genius may safely encounter and dare
difficulties. Let it but confide in itself and it will conquer them
While we were conversing Wilmot came in.
I must leave the imagination to paint the welcome we gave each other.
I was surprised at the change which had taken place in his form and
physiognomy; and at the different aspect they had assumed. Not that
the marks of melancholy were quite eradicated: but, when I considered
his whole appearance, he was scarcely the same person.
I produced surprise in him of a contrary kind. There was neither the
wonted freshness of my complexion nor the fashionable ease of my air
and dress, which he had remarked but a few months before; and he took
the first private opportunity that offered to enquire, with great
earnestness, if there were any means by which he could be of service?
Under the general selfishness which our present institutions inspire,
such questions are wonderfully endearing. I answered him that I had
found a friend, whose principles were as liberal and enlarged as they
were uncommon; and that I would take an early occasion to give him an
account of my present designs, and the posture of my affairs.
He informed me that the severe application of Turl had enfeebled his
health, and had induced him to reside for a few weeks at a small place
by the sea-side, that he might enjoy the benefits of bathing and the
fresh breezes; for which purpose he had left London the week before:
that neither Wilmot nor Turl himself considered his case at present as
the least dangerous, but that they had both agreed this was a prudent
step; and that he had received a letter from Turl, informing him of
his safe arrival; and that he thought he had already derived benefit
and animation from the journey.
Turl was not a man to be known and to be thought of with apathy. The
intelligence Wilmot gave me, softened as it was by the circumstances
attending it, produced a very unpleasant feeling. The possibility
of the loss of such a man, so wise, so benevolent, and so undaunted
in the cause of truth, was a sensation for which I have no epithet.
Wilmot perceived what passed in my mind, and again assured me of his
thorough persuasion that there was not any danger.
We passed as much of the morning together as Wilmot could spare from
his occupations; after which we parted, and each proceeded on his own
concerns: I to enquire after a dwelling-place; and he to his literary
engagements: while Clarke, instructed by Mary, went in search of a
lodging for himself through those streets that were most likely to
afford him one at a reasonable rate.
Mr. Evelyn had a relation of a younger branch of the family in the
law, whose name was Hilary, to whom I was recommended; and from whom
I received the utmost attention, in consequence of the letters I
brought. This gentleman was an attorney of repute, a practitioner of
uncommon honesty, assiduous and capable as a professional man, a firm
defender of freedom even to his own risk and detriment, a sincere
speaker, a valuable friend, and in every sense a man of worth and
Happy at all times to oblige, he willingly undertook the task assigned
to him by Mr. Evelyn's recommendation; and, in pursuance of his
advice, I hired an apartment in the neighbourhood of Queen's-square
Bloomsbury: that I might be within a convenient distance of the inns
of Court, yet not entirely buried in the noise and smoke of the
disagreeable part of the town.
I likewise informed Mr. Hilary of my determination not to be a dumb
barrister; and having, from my appearance and mode of enunciation
as well as from the letters of Mr. Evelyn, conceived rather a high
opinion of my talents, he applauded my plan: in pursuance of which he
recommended me to place myself with Counsellor Ventilate; a man of
high situation in the law. I readily consented; and it was agreed that
he should speak to that gentleman immediately on the subject, and
appoint a meeting.
_More meditations relating to Olivia; concluding with a love-letter:
Doubts concerning its conveyance_
It cannot be supposed that Olivia was out of my thoughts. Knowing her
kindness toward Miss Wilmot, I carefully took the first opportunity
to inform the latter of the chief incidents that had passed; and to
concert with her some means, if possible, of obtaining an interview.
Miss Wilmot no longer received any pecuniary aid from Olivia. Wilmot
considered it as a duty to provide for his sister; and had too lofty
a sense of independance to admit the repetition of these favours. Yet
how far that pride of heart, which teaches us, not only that we should
not submit to receive pecuniary assistance from any human being except
from our relations, but that these relations can accept of no relief,
however much they may be in need of it, without tarnishing our honor,
is a question which deserves to be seriously examined. Not but, at
that time, it squared very aptly with my opinions. It may be further
remarked of relations that, as they sometimes think they ought only to
receive aid from each other, so, they most of them imagine that, from
each other, they may unblushingly extort all they can. The generous
Wilmot indeed was in no danger of this last mistake.
But though money was no longer a motive for intercourse, between the
gentle Olivia and Miss Wilmot, there was no danger that either of
the friends would forget the other; and the latter was too sincerely
interested in the happiness both of me and Olivia not to be willing to
promote that happiness, by every means in her power.
What these means should be was the difficulty we had to solve. To use
any kind of stratagem would offend the delicate and justly-feeling
Olivia. To come upon her by surprise, even if the opportunity should
offer itself, would not be a manly and dignified proceeding.
I had always thought highly of that courage which, mild as her manners
were, she never failed to exert on trying occasions. Her defence of me
in the coach was a proof that I had not overestimated her fortitude.
It likewise shewed that she was under mistakes concerning me that
were dangerous, should they remain unexplained; and that, whenever
I thought of them, which was but too often, excited my utmost
Bold however as she was in my defence when she supposed me dead, very
different sensations might assail her when she should be convinced
(if she still doubted) that I was living. Her submission to her aunt
seemed to be unlimited, as long as she supposed that to comply would
be less productive of harm than to resist: but I had witnessed that
she would not consent to actions of great moment, which her heart
These facts made it improbable that she would grant me an interview,
without her aunt's knowledge. What then was to be done? A letter, that
should fully explain my thoughts, my plans, my determination, and my
hopes and fears, appeared to be the most eligible mode. Were I to
prompt her to a clandestine correspondence, I was well aware that I
should highly and justly offend her. She would consider it as little
less than an insult. Her conduct was open, her mind superior to
deceit; and to be ignorant of this would be to shew myself unworthy
of her. The lover should disdain to excite his mistress to any action
which he would disapprove in a wife; and this was a rule not to be
infringed, by him who should aspire to the noble-minded Olivia.
To write then I resolved; and in such a manner as to open my whole
soul to her, awaken her affections, call forth her admiration, agitate
her with pity and love, and ensure her perseverance.
Alas! I took the pen in hand, but was miserably deceived. I
had undertaken an impossible task. Thought was too rapid, too
multifarious, too complicate; and the tracing of letters and words
infinitely too slow, and frigid. At last however, after repeated
attempts, I determined on sending the following: with which when
written I was very far from satisfied; but of that I despaired.
* * * * *
'To the woman whom my soul adores how shall I address myself?
Tumultuous thoughts, hopes that vanish, and fears that distract, are
ill fitted for such a talk. Governed by feelings which will admit of
no controul, I can only claim your pardon on the plea of inability to
preserve that silence which it is temerity, or something worse, to
break. My thoughts will have passage, will rush into your presence,
will expose themselves to the worst of calamities, your reproof and
anger. Distracted as I am by a dread of the dangers that may result
from my silence, I persuade myself that these dangers are more
immediate and threatening, though scarcely more painful, than your
'You have supposed me dead; though by what strange accident I cannot
divine. Under that supposition, it was my miraculous fortune, my
ecstatic bliss, to hear you, with a purity of heart and a dignity
of sentiment such as none but a heart like yours could conceive or
express, avow a former partiality in favour of one who, whatever may
be his other faults, would gladly resign his life to secure your
happiness: of one who, in his over-weening affection has fondly and
foolishly cherished the persuasion that this happiness is inseparable
from his own: nay who partly hopes and partly believes, so blind is
his egotism, that he is the only man on earth who fully comprehends
your wonderful worth and matchless virtues; and who is pursuing the
fixed purpose of his soul, that of finally deserving you, from the
conviction that he through life will be invariable in that admiration,
that tenderness, and that unceasing love without which the life of
Olivia might perhaps be miserable. These may be the dreams of vanity,
and folly: yet, if I do not mistake, they are the dreams of all
lovers. They are indeed the aliment or rather the very essence of
love. What delight can equal that of revelling, in imagination, on the
happiness we can bestow on those who have bliss so ineffable to bestow
'What then if I were to see this Olivia mated with a man so dull of
faculty as soon to lose all sense of the wondrous treasure in his
possession: who never perhaps had any discriminating knowledge of
its worth; and who shall be willing to barter it for any vile and
contemptible gewgaw that may allure his depraved taste, or sickly
appetite? Is there no such man? Are these fears wholly groundless?
'At what an immeasurable distance do I seem cast from the enjoyment of
that supreme bliss to which, perhaps, the frenzy only of imagination
could make me aspire! There is but one means by which I can be happy.
Either I am to be the most favoured of mankind, or I am nothing.
Either I rise into godlike existence, or I sink unknown and never to
be remembered. Either we are made for each other, or--I dare not think
on the reverse. It is too distracting.
'Yet I have no hope! What I now write is presumption, is madness! And
why? It is not your beauty, your virtues, or the supreme qualities
of your mind that would raise this gulph of misery between us. No.
Avarice, vanity, and prejudice are my enemies. It is they that would
sacrifice you at their altars. That you will persevere in your refusal
is my only hope.
'How shall I palliate, what I cannot defend, my behaviour while I
overheard you and your aunt? In vain do I plead that I was asleep,
when you came into the coach; and that I first discovered you by the
sound of your voice and the turn of the conversation; that I dreaded
exciting any sudden alarm in you: perhaps it was a vain dread: and
that, when I ought most to have spoken, when I became the subject
of the discourse, I was then chained in silence by unconquerable
emotions. Yet to be a listener? Indeed, indeed, it is a thing that my
soul disdains! But I have done many such things; not knowing, while
they passed, what it was that I did.
'My destiny now is to study the law; and to this my days and nights
shall be devoted: but the distance at which I see myself from the goal
is a thought which I am obliged, by every possible effort, to shut out
of my memory.
'I am in want of consolation; but since your society is denied me, I
know not where it may be found. I own, there are moments in which I
am fearfully agitated. Yet I do not solicit an answer. Let me rather
perish than prompt you to an action of the propriety of which even
I am obliged to doubt; since it cannot I suppose be done without
concealment. Oh that you knew every thought of my heart! You would
then perceive the burning desire I have to make myself every way
worthy of that unutterable bliss to which I aspire.
'Madman! I aspire?
'With what contempt would such daring be treated, by those whom custom
and ties of blood have taught you to revere! I confess this is a
thought which I cannot endure. Yet I can less endure to relinquish
my impossible hopes. Could you conceive what these contradictory and
tormenting sensations are, you would perhaps be induced to pardon some
of the extravagant acts which I heard you so mildly, yet so justly,
'To be yours then is the end for which I live; and yet my pride and
every other feeling revolts, to think I should entreat you to accept a
pauper, either in wealth or principle. Well, then, I will not waste
my time, in complaint. Let me become worthy of you, or let me perish!
Fool! That is impossible. But if fall I must, I will endeavour to make
my ruin respectable.
'Suffer me to inform you that I have lately acquired a friend whose
virtues are beyond my praise, and who has urged me to accept his aid,
in forwarding my studies and pursuits, as an act of duty incumbent
on us both. Our acquaintance has been short; and so, considering
the serious nature of the subject, was the debate that led to this
conclusion: yet his arguments seemed unanswerable, and I hope I have
not yielded too lightly. Oh that it was allowed me to consult your
exquisite sense of right and wrong! But wishes are vain.
'Thus far I have intruded, yet know not how to end. My only hope that
you will take no offence at what I have written is in the conscious
respect that my heart feels for you; which I think cannot have
misguided my pen; and the knowledge that you are too just lightly to
attribute mean or ill motives to me.
'How languid is all that I have written! Am I so impotent that I can
present none of the images that so eternally haunt me, that wing me
into your presence, furnish me with innumerable arguments which seem
so all-persuasive, melt me in tenderness at one moment, supply me with
the most irresistible elocution the next, and convince you while they
inspire me with raptures inexpressible? Are they all flown, all faded,
all extinct? Where is the fervor that devours me?
'I would pray for your happiness! I would supplicate heaven that no
moment of your bliss should be abridged! Shall it then be disturbed by
me? Oh no. Unless authorised by hopes, as different as they are wild
and improbable, pardon but this, and you shall never more be subject
to the like importunity from
* * * * *
Having written my letter, I had to devise the means of having it
delivered. If it were addressed directly to her, what certainty had I
that it would not be opened by the aunt? Nay was not that indeed the
most probable? And would it in that case ever be seen by Olivia? In my
apprehension certainly not.
I had then to chuse whether I would send a messenger, who should wait
about the house and take some opportunity to deliver it clandestinely;
or commit it to the care either of Mary or Miss Wilmot.
The messenger was a very objectionable expedient: it was mean, and
liable to detection. The medium of Mary was something of the same
kind; and the friendship and intelligence of Miss Wilmot rendered her
intervention much the most desirable.
It was a delicate office to require of her. But she could speak the
truth: she could say that it was to relate some facts which Olivia
might even desire to know, that it contained nothing which I myself
should wish her to conceal, if she thought fit to shew it; that it did
not invite her to any improper correspondence; and that it was the
only one which, under the present circumstances, I meant to obtrude
That Miss Wilmot might be convinced I had neither deceived myself nor
her in this account, which I should instruct her to give of it, I
hastened with it to her lodgings, and requested her to read it before
it was sealed. Having ended, she was so well satisfied with the
propriety both of writing and delivering it that she readily undertook
the latter office; and, with her I left it, hoping that Olivia would
soon call, would read it in her presence, and that I should quickly
learn what might be the sensations it should produce.
_Counsellor Ventilate and the law: Raptures excited by the panegyric
of Blackstone: Dialogues legal and political, with characteristic
Meantime the appointed interview between me and Counsellor Ventilate
took place. This gentleman was characterized by those manners, and
opinions, which the profession of the law is so eminently calculated
to produce. He had a broad brazen stare, a curl of contempt on his
upper-lip, and a somewhat short supercilious nose. His head was
habitually turned upward, his eye in the contrary direction, as if on
the watch in expectation to detect something which his cunning might
turn to advantage, and his half-opened mouth and dropping jaw seemed
to say, 'What an immense fool is every man I meet!'
His whole manner and aspect appeared to denote that he was in a
continual revery; and that he imagined himself in a court of law;
brow-beating a witness, interrogating an idiot, or detailing cases
and precedents, to shew the subtlety with which he could mislead and
confound his hearers. A split-hair distinction without a difference
gave him rapture; and whenever it happened to puzzle, which was
but too often, he raised his left shoulder and gave a hem of
congratulation to himself: denoting his conviction that he was
indisputably the greatest lawyer in the world! And, if the greatest
lawyer, he was as certainly, according to his own creed, the greatest
man! For the rest of mankind, if put in competition with lawyers, what
were they? What but poor, silly, imbecile creatures?
One standard, by which he delighted to measure his own talents, was
the length to which he could drawl out a reply. Was there a man to be
found who could speak eight hours unceasingly? He would surpass him.
When his turn came, nine should not suffice. He would be more dull,
contradictory, and intolerable, than his rival by an hour, at least.
He would repeat precedents, twist sentences, misconstrue maxims, and
so perplex and entangle his own intellect that his hearers had no way
of getting rid of the pain he excited; except by falling a-sleep,
or determining not to listen. It must be owned however he had some
charity for them; for to sleep he gave them a very sufficient
Being one of the retainers of government, he had a seat in the House
of Commons: where he used to rise in his place and address the
Speaker, with no less logic, love of justice, and legislative wisdom,
than he was wont to display when pleading in the courts.
It was in vain that he exposed himself to the ridicule of this
most discerning body, not less witty than virtuous. Of shame he
was incapable. He would again and again rise in his place, totally
forgetful of past flagellation, and again and again convince Mr.
Speaker and the honorable members: persisting to labour, in the hope
of making them all as profound reasoners as himself. No matter that
the thing was impracticable: he would get up and do his duty, and sit
down and receive his own applause.
To mention shame in this case was indeed absurd. How should a man
blush at reproof which he cannot comprehend? His skull was so
admirably fortified, by nature, that it was equally impenetrable
to the heavy batteries of argument or the skirmishing artillery
of wit. Let the cannon roar: he heard it not. He was abstractedly
contemplating those obscure depths in which he remained for ever
seated; and where he had visions innumerable, though he saw nothing.
One favourite and never-failing object, on these occasions, was to
instruct the house in law. And here the devil, who is himself a kind
of lawyer, for he devours his best friends, the devil I say chose
these opportunities to vent his choicest malice. He did not set a
lawyer to confound a lawyer: that were but a stale device. He humbled
him out of the mouths of men who had occasionally read law-books, it
is true: but who had read them without a lawyers' obliquity; and had
enquired what was the simple unadulterated intention of their authors.
Now law, which in all its stages has a quibble in either eye, that
may mean good or may mean ill, is every where, except in a Court
of Justice, capable of a good interpretation. This is not a rule
without an exception: but in many cases at least, law has something
intentionally beneficial in its principle.
For this beneficent vital-spark every body, but a lawyer, is in
search; and it is what every body, but a lawyer, is delighted to
find. No wonder therefore that a lawyer should meet discomfiture, and
confusion, when he pretends to discuss the abstract nature of justice,
in any place except in these aforesaid Courts of Justice.
Thus it happened that Mr. Ventilate was, on all such occasions,
confounded in that honorable house, of which he was an honorable
member: which indeed, when we remember who were his opponents, was
less miraculous than the immaculate conception--Pshaw! I mean the
Much of the conceit and ridicule of the character of Mr. Ventilate was
apparent, even to my eye, at our first meeting. But he was a person
of great practice, and had the reputation of a sound lawyer: which
signifies a man who has patience to read reports, and a facility at
quoting them. Beside, I was in haste; and rather inclined to leap over
an obstacle than to go round it.
Accordingly our arrangements were made, and the next day I attended
at his chambers; with a firm and as I supposed not to be shaken
determination to become one of the greatest lawyers the world ever
The first book I was advised to read, as a historical introduction to
and compendium of law, was Blackstone's Commentaries. This author had
acquired too much celebrity for any man of liberal education to be
ignorant of his fame. I therefore began and continued to read him
with all the prepossession that an author himself could wish in his
favour. The panegyric he makes on English laws, and the Constitution
of Britain, gave me delight and animation. The reproof he bestows,
on gentlemen who are ignorant of this branch of learning, and on the
perplexities introduced into our statute-law by such 'ill-judging and
unlearned legislators,' and his praise of the capacity they would
acquire for administering justice, to which sacred function they are
so often called, were this ignorance removed, gave dignity to the
study I was about to pursue.
Then the account given of Servius Sulpicius! who, according to my
learned author, 'left behind him about a hundred and four-score
volumes of his own compiling!' How wonderfully did it move my
admiration! I previously knew that in most countries, which are
denominated civilized, law was voluminous: but I had never till then
imagined that one man could himself compile a hundred and fourscore
volumes! And, as it seems, could compile them at his leisure too:
for his chief business was that of oratory! Beside which it lives on
record that, being a firm patriot, he was a wise and indefatigable
senator! But it appears that Sulpicius could devour law with greater
ease than Milo, or perhaps even than Cacus himself, could oxen.
Neither was it recorded that this prodigy of legal learning began
young. And should I then despair of equalling him? No, no: get me into
one of my trances and, had he compiled as many thousands of volumes, I
should scarcely have suspected that I could not compile as fast as he.
As I read on, how did I deplore the quarrel between Vicarius and his
opponents: or, in other words, between the pandects and the common law
of England: with the ignorance that had nearly been the result! How
rejoice in the institution of those renowned hot-beds of law, the Inns
of Court: by the aid of which, had not the rage for enacting laws kept
pace with the rage for studying them, there were hopes that the whole
kingdom would in time have been so learned in the science that every
man might indeed have become his own lawyer.
How did I regret that I had not studied common-law while at college!
How sympathetic with my author, when he exclaims--'That a science,
which distinguishes the criterions of right and wrong; which teaches
to establish the one, and prevent, punish, or redress the other; which
employs in its theory the noblest faculties of the soul, and exerts in
its practice the cardinal virtues of the heart: a science, which is
universal in its use and extent, accommodated to each individual, yet
comprehending the whole community; that a science like this should
ever have been deemed unnecessary to be studied in a university, is a
matter of astonishment and concern!'
How did I bless the memory of Mr. Viner, who had found a remedy for
this evil, by establishing an Oxford professorship; and how promise
to make myself master of his abridgment, till I had every case it
contained at my tongue's end! What were four and twenty volumes in
folio? Compared to Sulpicius, it was a trifle!
The eulogium that I next came to on a university education, how
grateful was that to my heart! I was not, as my oracle described,
though one of the 'gentlemen of bright imaginations, to be wearied;
however unpromising the search.' Neither was I to be numbered among
those 'many persons of moderate capacity, who confuse themselves at
first setting out; and continue ever dark and puzzled during the
remainder of their lives.' The law being itself so luminous, there
was no fear of that with me.
I met indeed with one overwhelming assertion. 'Such knowledge as is
necessary for a judge is hardly to be acquired by the lucubrations of
But this to be sure must be meant of dull fellows. As to the limits of
genius, they were unknown.
My pleasure revived in full force, when I arrived at my author's
definition of law: which he states to be--'a rule of civil conduct,
prescribed by the supreme power in a state; commanding what is right,
and prohibiting what is wrong.' What will you say to that, friend
Turl? exclaimed I: putting down the book, and pausing. Can any thing
be more provident, more wise, more desirable?
In short, I found the writer so clearly understood and satisfactorily
explained the nature of law, and the benefits arising from it, that,
for my own part, I began to be ashamed of my former stupidity. It
was all so self-evident that it seemed disgraceful not to know it
as it were by intuition. I was in that precise temper of mind which
renders conviction an easy task: for I was in haste to be rich, and
famous; and the desire of wealth and fame are two of the strongest
provocatives to faith that the sagacity of selfishness has ever yet
While I was in the midst of all these admirings, my attention
was roused by a dialogue that passed between two of my senior
fellow-pupils, whose names were Rudge and Trottman, which the former
'That was a d---- rascally cause we were concerned in yesterday.'
'Rascally enough. But we got it.'
'I can't say but I was sorry for the poor farmer.'
'Sorry! Ha, ha, ha! You remind me of an unfleshed-recruit: or a young
surgeon, who has just begun to walk the hospitals. Frequent the
Courts, and you will soon learn to forget commiseration, and attend to
nothing but law. Docking of entails gives the lawyer as little concern
as the amputation of limbs does the surgeon: they are both of them
curious only about the manner, and dexterity of the operation.'
'I suppose it will ruin the man.'
'He was a fool for making it a criminal prosecution. He should have
brought an action for damages.'
'It is an aggravating thing for a man to have his daughter seduced, be
beaten himself because he was angry at the injury, and, when he sues
for redress, not only be unable to obtain it, but find his fortune
destroyed, as well as his daughter's character, and his own peace.'
'The law knows nothing concerning him, or his fortune, character,
peace, or daughter. It is and ought to be dead to private feeling.
It must consider nothing but the public benefit: nor must it ever
condescend to vary from its own plain and literal construction.'
'That is strange: for its origin seems to have been in those very
feelings, to which it is so dead.'
'Undoubtedly. But it provides for such feelings each under its
individual class; and if a man, seeking redress, shall seek it under a
wrong head, that is his fault; and not the fault of the law.'
'It is a fault, however, that is daily committed.'
'Ay to be sure: or there would be but few lawyers.'
'Why, if a man doing wrong was certain, or almost certain, of being
detected and exposed, the chances would be so much against offenders
that offences would of course diminish.'
'Then the prosperity of lawyers seems to result from the blunders
which they themselves commit?'
'No doubt it does; and, as the blunders are innumerable, their
prosperity must be in proportion.'
'There seems to be something wrong in this; though I cannot tell what
'Ha, ha, ha! You have no cause to complain: you are a lawyer, and your
own interest must teach you that every thing is right. Except indeed
that the classes or heads I mentioned, and consequently the blunders,
are not numerous enough. But, thank heaven, we have a remedy for that:
for our statute-books are daily swelling.'
'Why, yes! Some people say they are pregnant with mischief: of which
it is further asserted that they are daily delivered.'
'Ay, certainly; and to the great joy of the parents.'
'Who are they?'
'Enquire for the father at St. Stephen's; and for the mother at
Westminster-hall. I assure you they are both enraptured at their own
offspring. The old lady sits in state, and daily praises her babes
with the most doating loquacity. And she does this with so grave a
face that it is impossible to forbear laughing, when you hear her. She
is so serious, so solemn, so convinced that every thing she utters is
oracular, and so irascible if she does but so much as smell a doubt
concerning the beauty and perfection of her brats, that there is no
scene in the world which tickles my imagination so irresistibly as to
watch her maternal visage during her eulogiums, while the big-wigs are
nodding approbation; or the contortions of her physiognomy, when any
cross incident happens to impede the torrent of her fondness. With
all due respect to her motherly functions, she is a very freakish and
laughable old lady.'
'You have a turn for ridicule: but I confess, if I thought your
picture were true, I do not believe my sensations would be so pleasant
as yours appear to be.'
'And why, in the name of common sense?'
'How can one laugh at the mistakes and miseries of mankind?'
'For a very simple reason: because it is the only way that can
render them endurable. None but a fool would cry at what cannot be
The colloquy between my companions here took another direction, less
interesting to me, and left me to pause and ruminate. This picture,
said I, is satirical I own: but surely it is unjust. Blackstone,
beyond all doubt, understood the science profoundly; and his account
of it is very different indeed.
I turned back to the passage I have quoted.
'It distinguishes the criterions of right and wrong; teaches us to
establish the one and prevent punish or redress the other; employs
in its theory the noblest faculties of the soul, and exerts in its
practice the cardinal virtues of the heart: it is universal in its use
and extent, is accommodated to each individual, and yet comprehends
the whole community.'
How just, how ennobling, how sublime is this praise! To compare it to
the doatings of an old woman is extremely false: nay is pernicious;
for, by exciting laughter, it misleads the judgment.
My companions being silent, I was impelled to address myself to
Trottman. 'I wonder, sir,' said I, 'that you should be such an enemy
'I an enemy! You totally mistake. I am its fast friend. And with good
reason: I find it a very certain source of ease and affluence even to
the most stupid blockheads, if they will but drudge on; and of riches,
honours, and hereditary fame, to men of but very moderate talents.
I may surely expect to come in for my share; and therefore should
be a rank fool indeed were I its enemy. I leave that to innovating
fanatics. Let them dream, and rave, and write: while I mind my own
affairs, take men as they are and ever must be, profit by supporting
present establishments, and look down with contempt on the puppies who
prate philosophy, and bawl for reform.'
I was stung. Conscious of the turn my own thoughts had taken, I
suspected that he had divined this from some words which I might
have dropped, and that his attack was personal: I therefore eagerly
replied--'Your language, sir, is unqualified.'
'I meant no offence. If you are a reformer, I beg your pardon. I
never quarrel about what I have heard certain pompous gentlemen call
'Then all those persons, who differ in opinion from you, are puppies;
and pompous gentlemen?'
'Oh dear, no, sir! Only all those that are absent. The company, you
know, according to the received rule, is excepted.'
There was something impudently humble and satirical in his look, while
he uttered this: yet so contrived as to make the man appear a pettish
angry blockhead, who should take offence at it; and I certainly was
not inclined to quarrel with my new comrades, the first day of our
Beside, Trottman was a little insignificant man, in appearance;
pot-bellied, of a swarthy complexion, but with keenness, cunning, and
mockery in his eye; and whose form and figure, as well as his turn
of mind, must have made it ridiculous to have quarrelled with him. I
therefore waited for some more fortunate opportunity, to repay him
in his own coin: for I was as unwilling to be vanquished by wit, and
satire, as by force of argument, or of arms.
Rudge, whose temper was more placid but who had an enquiring mind,
said, 'You do not know my friend Trottman yet, Mr. Trevor. He cares
but little who has the most reason, so that he may have the most
'Life is a journey,' added Trottman; 'and, if I can travel on terra
firma, with a clear sky, and a smiling landscape, let those that
please put to sea in a butcher's tray, and sail in quest of foul
'Yes, sir, but the search of ease is the loss of happiness; and to fly
from danger is the likeliest way to meet it: that is, when you either
seek or fly without a guide.'
'And who is this guide to safety?'
'It is, what you appear to hold in contempt, Principle.'
'Ha, ha, ha! Right! The blind leading the blind. Conjure up one
phantom to seek for another. How prodigiously we improve!'
'From what you have said, I am not surprised that you should consider
principle as a phantom. But you only quarrel with the word: for, as
principle can mean nothing more than a rule of action, deduced from
past experience and influencing our present conduct, you, certainly,
like other men, act from principle. It is a moral duty to shun pain,
and keep your fingers out of the fire.'
'Not if I want to sear up a wound.'
'You are excellent at a shifting blow. But why would you apply the
cautery? Because principle, guided by experience, has previously told
you that to cauterize is in some cases the way to heal.'
'But empirics, who cauterize without healing, are daily multiplying
'Were that granted, it is but empiric opposed to empiric. Men have
been groaning under their sufferings for ages; and, since ages have
proved that the old prescriptions were insufficient, I can neither see
the danger nor the blame of following new.'
'Zeal may be purblind, and perhaps could not see a guillotine: but her
neck might chance to feel it.'
'Then you think a guillotine a more terrible thing than a halter, an
axe, or perhaps even a rack?'
'It will do more work in less time.'
'And you suppose it to be principle, or if you please innovation, that
has given this machine its momentum?'
'Suppose! Is there any doubt?'
'Infinite. I imagine it to be given, if we may be allowed to
personify, neither by Innovation nor Establishment; but by the
rashness and ill temper with which these heroines have mutually
maintained their positions. Innovation struck the ball at first too
impetuously: but Establishment took it at the rebound, and returned
it with triple violence. Brunswickian manifestoes, and exterminating
wars, were not ill adapted to raise the diabolical spirit of revenge.
An endeavour to starve a nation, which it was found difficult to
exterminate by fire and sword, was not a very charitable act in Madam
Establishment. Her swindling forgeries were little better; and that
her turn should come, to be starved and swindled, is not miraculous:
though it is deplorable. Heaven avert her claims to the guillotine!'
My antagonist had no immediate reply; and Rudge exclaimed, with some
satisfaction, 'Why, Trottman, you have met with your match!'
'Not I, indeed,' answered he, peevishly. 'I am only lost in a
labyrinth of words; and am waiting for Principle to come and be my
guide. But I am afraid she carries a dark lanthorn, which will but
blind those that look.'
'I suspect, sir,' said I, 'you are less at loss for a joke than an
argument; and that you prefer bush-fighting. For my own part, I love
the fair and open field of enquiry.'
'As this is a field that has no limits, nor any end to its cross
roads, I am content, as you say, to sit down under my hedge and be
'No, no; I did not say that: for I see you love to draw a sly bow at
'I have now and then brought down a gull, or an owl.'
'Have you shot any of those birds to-day?'
I felt no compunction in making this triumphant retort to his sneer.
And here our dialogue ended. Though it was a kind of declaration of
war; I mean a war of words; which, as we became more acquainted, was
occasionally waged with some asperity.
But, in one respect, Trottman was my superior. To sneer was habitual
to him: but it was always done in a manner which seemed to indicate
that he himself had no suspicion of any such intent. So that he
continually appeared to keep his temper; and never triumphed so
effectually as when he could provoke me to lose mine. On which
occasions his additional conciliatory sarcasms, accompanied with
smiles denoting the enjoyment of his victory, never failed to make
me feel my own littleness. And this is a lesson for which I consider
myself as very highly in his debt.
I now pursued my reading; and employed the rest of the day in
beginning to copy the manuscript precedents, that were to capacitate
me for the practice of law: for the number of which, that were in his
possession, Mr. Ventilate was famed.
My ardour however had felt some trifling abatement, by the very
different picture and panegyric of the law as given by Trottman,
opposed to that I had been contemplating. But I had this very powerful
consolation: that, as Trottman knew very little of what I supposed to
be the true principles of politics, it was highly probable he was no
better acquainted with those of law.
_Former resentments revised: Doubts protracted: Conjectures on the
sincerity of a delicate yet firm mind_
Above a fortnight passed away, during which I received no word
of intelligence concerning Olivia. At some moments I felt great
affliction from this suspense: at others I collected myself and
determined to pursue my plan with all the vigour in which it had been
In the interval, I wrote several times to Mr. Evelyn. To this I was
prompted from the very nature of my engagements and situation. Beside
which I had not forgotten my pamphlet against the Earl and the Bishop,
that lay ready for publication; though the acrimony of my feelings was
much abated. The propriety of making the world acquainted with this
affair was one of the subjects of my correspondence with Mr. Evelyn:
to whom I had the candour to state my own opinions and sensations, on
one part; and, on the other, the objections that had been urged by
In the history I had given Mr. Evelyn of myself, I was impelled,
as well by inclination as necessity, to delineate the character of
Turl, with which he could not but be charmed; and with his arguments
and dissuasions on this subject. With these the ideas of Mr. Evelyn
entirely coincided. He wrote delightful letters; full of animation,
feeling, and friendship; and his persuasion therefore had the greater
Wilmot concurred in the opinion of both; and, being thus pressed by
the men whom I most loved and revered, I endeavoured to consign my
resentment and its effusions to oblivion, and to dismiss the subject
entirely from my mind.
At length, my suspense concerning Olivia found some, though far from a
As she had paid no visit to Miss Wilmot, the latter of course had
found no opportunity to deliver my letter. One evening, however, as I
was sitting after tea with Miss Wilmot and her brother, a note came of
which the following were the contents.
'Miss Mowbray presents her kind and tenderest respects to Miss Wilmot,
and informs her that she has been in town for some short time. Assures
her that her not having called is far indeed from any decline of
former friendship, the sincerity of which is invariable: but that
there are motives which prevent her, for the present, from the
enjoyment of that satisfaction. She would have been most happy to have
communicated her thoughts to Miss Wilmot in person: but she is the
slave of circumstances which, for family reasons and indeed from other
motives; she is forbidden to explain; and to which she is obliged
to submit. She confides in the goodness and friendship of Miss
Wilmot, who she is well assured will not misinterpret that which
is unavoidable; and, cherishing the hope of a more favourable
opportunity, wishes her all possible happiness: requesting that, if by
any means in her power it can be increased, Miss Wilmot will acquaint
her with those means: that she may have the wished-for occasion of
proving the ardour and sincerity of her affections.
'Hertford-street, Nov. 17th'
* * * * *
Miss Wilmot gave me this note to read; and the commentary I
immediately made was that, finding I was alive, the fear of a
rencontre with me was the obstacle to her visits.
They agreed that this was a very probable supposition: but how far
the aunt was any way concerned in it was matter of more uncertain
conjecture. Miss Wilmot knew that Olivia had informed her aunt of the
visits she was before accustomed to make; and, as her ideas concerning
sincerity were delicately strict, it was more than probable that she
had disdained to conceal any of the circumstances with which she
herself was acquainted. I therefore thought it almost indubitable that
she had been no less frank on the present occasion than was habitual
to her on others; and time afterward discovered that my conclusions
'With what unequal weapons,' exclaimed I, 'do the lovers of truth and
the adherents of hypocrisy contend!'
'They do indeed,' replied Wilmot. 'But, contrary I believe to your
supposition, the former have infinitely the advantage: for the latter
systematically deceive themselves.'
What was to be done? Was I to pursue some covert mode of conveying
my letter? Should I send it openly? Or ought I to let it remain,
and patiently wait the course of events, which, by endeavouring to
forward, I might but retard? Wilmot, who, though he had too much
sympathy to communicate all his fears, had but little expectation,
judging from the failure of his own plans of the success of mine,
advised me to the latter; and, perplexed as I was with doubt and
apprehension, I followed this advice.
END OF VOLUME IV
_A cursory glance at law fictions: Legal suppositions endless: The
professional jargon of an attorney: An enquiry into the integrity of
barristers and the equity of decisions at law: A. and B. or a case
stated: A digression from law to philosophy_
In the mean time, my application to the law was incessant; and
consequently my intercourse with lawyers daily increased. I
endeavoured to load my brain with technical terms and phrases, to
understand technical distinctions, and to acquaint myself with the
history of law fictions, and the reasons on which they had been
To these subjects my attention had been turned by Mr. Hilary; who,
being a Solicitor, was well acquainted with the value of them, to the
man who meant to make himself a thorough lawyer.
The consideration of this branch of law staggered my judgment.
Trottman and Hilary were intimate. The latter had invited us and other
friends to dinner; and, as I found the acuteness of Trottman useful to
me in my pursuits, I took this and every occasion to put questions:
which he was very ready to answer. As it happened, my enquiry on the
subject of law fictions brought on the following dialogue: which was
supported by Trottman entirely in his own style.
'According to your account then,' said I, in answer to a previous
remark, 'in _Banco Regis_ the King is always _supposed_ to be
'No doubt, what question can there be of that? One invisible kind of
being can as easily be supposed as another. And I hope you will not
dispute the actual presence of that pleasant gentleman called the
devil, in any one of our courts?'
'By no means!'
'As for his majesty, he, God bless him! by the nature of his office is
_hic et ubique_: here, there, and every where. He is borne in state
before each Corporation Mayor, whether Mr. or My Lord; and reposes
peacefully in front of Mr. Speaker, or the Lord High Chancellor:
investing them by his sacred presence with all their power.'
'How so! Do you forget the mace upon the table?'
'Authority then has that virtue that, like grace divine into a wafer,
it can be transfused into wood.'
'Yes. A lord's white wand, a general's baton; a constable's staff. It
is thought necessary, I grant, in some of these cases that the block
should be carved and gilded.'
'Well, the position is that, in _Banco Regis_, the King is always
'So says the law.'
'But the law, it appears, tells a lie; and, from all that I have
heard, I wish it were the only one that it told.'
'Could the law hear, sir, it would take very grave offence at your
language. It only assumes a fiction.'
'John Doe and Richard Roe, who are the pledges of prosecution, are
two more of its _supposes_, or lies. I beg pardon. I should have said
'Why, yes: considering that John Doe and Richard Roe never made their
personal appearance in any court in the kingdom, were never once met,
in house, street, or field, in public, or in private, nay had never
yet the good luck to be born, they have really done a deal of
'They resemble Legion, entering the swine: they plunge whole herds
into the depths of destruction.'
'Or, if you will, they are a kind of real yet invisible hob-goblins:
by whom every human being is liable to be haunted. It must however be
allowed of them that they are a pair of very active and convenient
'To lawyers. But God help the rest of mankind! Are there many of these
'More than I or any man, I believe, can at one time remember.'
'From the little I have read, this appears to be a very puzzling part
of the profession.'
'Not at all; if we will take things as we find them, and neither be
more curious nor squeamish than wise. I will state the process of a
suit to you; and you will then perceive how plain and straight-forward
it is. We will suppose A the plaintiff: B the defendant. A brings his
action by bill. Action you know means this: '_Actio nihil aliud est
quam jus prosequendi injudicium quod sibi debelur_:' or, 'a right of
prosecuting to judgment, for what is due to one's self.' B is and was
_supposed_ to be in the custody of the Marshal. Observe, _supposed to
be_: for very likely B is walking unmolested in his garden; or what
not. B we will say happens to live in Surrey, Kent, or any other
county, except Middlesex; and is _supposed_ to have made his escape,
though perhaps he may have broken his leg, and never have been out of
his own door. And then the latitat _supposes_ that a bill had issued,
and further _supposes_ that it has been returned _non est inventus_,
and moreover _supposes_ it to have been filed. B lives in Kent, you
know; and this latitat is addressed, in _supposition_, to the Sheriff
of the county, greeting; though as to the Sheriff he neither sees,
hears, nor knows any thing concerning it; and informs him that B
(notwithstanding he is confined to his bed by a broken leg) runs up
and down, in _supposition_, and secretes himself in the Sheriff's
county of Kent: on which--'
'I beg your pardon: I cannot follow you through all this labyrinth of
'No! Then you will never do for a lawyer: for I have but just begun. I
should carry you along an endless chain of them; every link of which
'And which chain is frequently strong enough to bind and imprison both
plaintiff and defendant.'
'Certainly: or the law would be as dead in its spirit as it is in its
'I fear I shall never get all the phrases and forms of law by rote.'
'Why, no. If you did, heaven help you! it would breed a fine confusion
in your brain. You would become as litigious and as unintelligible as
our friend Stradling.'
'Mr. Stradling,' said Hilary, 'is one of my clients: an unfortunate
man who, being a law-printer, has in the way of trade read so many
law-books, and accustomed himself to such a peculiar jargon, as to
imagine that he is a better lawyer than any of us; so that he has
half-ruined himself by litigation. He is to dine with us, and will
soon be here.'
'I will provoke him,' continued Trottman, 'to afford you a sample of
his gibberish; you may then examine what degree of instruction you
suppose may be obtained from a heterogeneous topsy-turvy mass of law
'But why irritate your friend?'
'You mistake. He has it so eternally on his tongue that, instead of
giving him pain to shew the various methods in which he supposes
he could torment an antagonist at law, it affords him the highest
'Our friend Hilary here is better qualified for the task of
instruction; but he feels some of your qualms; and is now and then
inclined to doubt that there is vice in the glorious system which
regulates all our actions.'
'I deny that it regulates them,' said Hilary. 'If people in general
had no more knowledge of right and wrong than they have of law, their
actions would indeed be wretchedly regulated!'
This was a sagacious remark. It made an impression upon me that was
not forgotten. It suggested the important truth that the pretensions
of law to govern are ridiculous; and that men act, as Hilary justly
affirmed, well or ill according to their sense of right and wrong.
Mr. Stradling soon after came; and Trottman very artfully led him into
a dispute on a supposed case, which Trottman pretended to defend, and
aggravated him, by contradiction, till Stradling roundly affirmed his
opponent knew nothing of conducting a suit at law.
The volubility of this gentleman was extraordinary; and the trouble I
thought myself obliged to bestow, at that time, on the subject could
alone have enabled me to remember any part of the jargon he uttered,
in opposition to Trottman: which in substance was as follows.
'Give me leave to tell you, friend Trottman, you know nothing of the
matter; and I should be very glad I could provoke you to meet me in
Westminster-hall. If I had you but in the Courts, damn me if you
should easily get out!'
'I tell you once more I would not leave you a coat to your back.'
'You! Lord help you! I would _traverse_ your indictment, _demur_ to
your plea, bring my _writ of error, nonsuit_ you. Sir, I would _ca sa
fi fa_ you. I would _bar_ you. I would _latitat_ you, _replevin_ you,
_refalo_ you. I would have my _non est inventus_, my _alias_, and
_pluries_, and _pluries_, and _pluries, ad infinitum_. I would have
you in _trover_; in _detinue_; I would send your loving friend Richard
Roe to you. I would _eject_ you. I would make you _confess lease entry
and ouster_. I would file my _bill of Middlesex_; or my _latitat_
with an _ac etiam_. Nay, I would be a worse plague to you still: I
would have my bill filed in B.R. I would furnish you with a special
original for C.P. You talk! I would sue out my _capias_, _alias_, and
_pluries_, at once; and outlaw you before you should hear one word of
Bless me, thought I, what innumerable ways there are of reducing a man
to beggary and destruction according to law!
Trottman thus provokingly continued.
'My dear Mr. Stradling, your brain is bewildered. You go backward and
forward, from one supposition to another, and from process to process,
till you really don't know what you say. If I were your opponent, in
any Court in the kingdom, I should certainly make the law provide you
a lodging for the rest of your life.'
'Bring your action! That's all! Bring your action, and observe how
finely I will _nonpros_ you: or reduce you to a _nolle prosequi_. You
think yourself knowing? Pshaw. I have nonsuited fifty more cunning
fellows, in my time; and shall do fifty more.'
God help them! thought I.
'I have laid many a pert put by the heels. You pretend to carry an
action through the Courts with me! Why, sir, I have helped to ruin
three men of a thousand a year; and am in a fair way, at this very
hour, of doing as much for a Baronet of five times the property.'
I listened in astonishment.
'And do you take a pleasure in remembering this?' said Hilary.
'Pleasure!' answered Stradling; staring. 'Why, do you think, Mr.
Hilary, I should have taken a pleasure in ruining myself? What did
I do but act according to the laws of my country? And, if men will
oppose me, and pretend to understand those laws better than I do, let
them pay for their ignorance and their presumption. Let them respect
the law, or let their brats go beg.'
'The law I find, sir,' said I, 'has no compassion.'
'Compassion, indeed! No, sir. Compassion is a fool; and the law is
'In itself I hope it is: but I own I doubt the wisdom of its
'But this practice, you must know,' said Trottman, with a wink to
Stradling, 'Mr. Trevor means to reform.'
'Oh,' replied Stradling, 'then I suppose, when the gentleman is at
the bar, he will never accept a brief, till he has first examined the
equity of the case.'
'That, sir,' I replied, 'is my firm intention.'
'Ha, ha, ha! Mr. Trevor, you are a young man! You will know better in
'And do you imagine, sir, that I will ever hire myself to chicanery,
and be the willing promoter of fraud? If I do, may I live hated, and
'Ay, ay! Very true! I don't remember that I ever met with a youth,
who had just begun to keep his terms, who did not profess much the
same. And, which is well worthy of remark, those that have been most
vehement in these professions have been most famous, when they came to
the bar, for undertaking and gaining the rottenest causes.'
'You shall find however, sir, that I shall be an exception to this
'Excuse me, Mr. Trevor, for not too hastily crediting hasty
assertions. I know mankind as well as I know the law. However, I can
only tell you that if your practice keep pace with your professions,
you will never be Lord Chief Justice.'
'Do the judges then encourage barristers, who undertake the defence of
bad and base actions?'
'To be sure they do. They sometimes shake their heads and look grave:
but we know very well they defended such themselves: or, as I tell
you, they would never have been judges. If two men have a dispute,
one of them must be in the wrong. And who is able to pronounce which,
except the law?'
'My dear Mr. Stradling,' said Trottman, 'you are again out of your
depth. When two men dispute, it almost always happens that they are
both in the wrong. And this is the glorious resource of law; and the
refuge of its counsellors, and its judges.'
Trottman and Stradling were accustomed to each other's manner; and,
notwithstanding the language they used, nothing more was meant than a
kind of jocular sparring: which would now and then forget itself for a
moment, and become waspish; but would recollect and recover its temper
the next sentence.
I replied to Trottman--'It is true that, when two men dispute, it
generally happens they are both in the wrong. But one is always more
in the wrong than the other; and it should be the business of lawyers
to examine, and of the law to decide upon, their different degrees of
'What, sir!' exclaimed Stradling. 'If you were counsel in a cause for
plaintiff A, instead of exposing the blunders and wrongs of defendant
B, would you enquire into those of your own client?'
'I would enquire impartially into both.'
'And if you knew any circumstance which would infallibly insure
plaintiff a nonsuit, you would declare it to the Court?'
'I would declare the truth, and the whole truth.'
'Here's doctrine! Here's law!'
'No,' said Trottman; 'it is not law. It is reform.'
'It ought to be law. As an advocate, I am a man who hire out my
knowledge and talents for the avowed purpose of doing justice; and
am to consider neither plaintiff nor defendant, but justice only.
Otherwise, I should certainly be the vilest of rascals!'
'Heyday!' thundered Stradling: and, after a pause, added--'It is my
opinion, those words are liable to a prosecution, Mr. Trevor; and, by
G----, if you were to be cast in any one of our Courts for them, it
would be no fault either of the bench or the bar if the sentence of
the law, which you are defaming, did not shut you up for life!'
'My friend Trevor mistakes the nature of the profession he is
studying,' added Trottman. 'He forgets that the question before a
Court is not, what is this, that, or the other; which he may think
proper to call justice; but, what is the law?'
'To be sure, sir;' continued Stradling. 'It is that which, as a
lawyer, you must attend to; and that only.'
'I will cite you an example,' said Trottman.
'A was a gentleman of great landed property. B was an impertinent
beggarly kind of sturdy fellow, his neighbour. A had an estate in
the county of ---- that lay in a ring-fence: a meadow of nine acres
excepted, which belonged to B. This meadow it was convenient for A
to purchase; and he sent his steward, who was an attorney, to make
proposals. B rejected them. The steward advised A to buy the estate
that belonged to C, but that was farmed by B. The advice was followed.
The lease of B expired the following year; and a new one was denied by
A, unless B would sell his meadow. B consented. A bought the meadow,
but determined to have his revenge. For this purpose A refused
payment, and provoked B to commence an action. The law he knew very
well was on the side of B: but that was of little consequence.
Plaintiff B brought his action in Trinity Term. Defendant A pleaded
a sham plea: asserted plaintiff had been paid for his meadow, by
a firkin of butter: [All a lie, you know.] long vacation was thus
got over, and next term defendant files a bill in Chancery, to stay
proceedings at law. Plaintiff B files his answer, and gets the
injunction dissolved: but A had his writ ready and became plaintiff
in error, carried it through all the Courts: from K.B. to the
Exchequer-chamber; and from the Exchequer-chamber, as A very well knew
that B had no more money, A brought error into Parliament; by which
B was obliged to drop proceedings. His attorney, of course, would
not stir a step further; and the fool was ruined. He was afterward
arrested by his attorney for payment of bill in arrear; and he now
lies in prison, on the debtors'-side of Newgate.'
'How you stare, Mr. Trevor!' added Stradling. 'Every word true. We all
know a great lord who has carried I cannot tell how many such causes.'
'And were the judges,' said I, 'acquainted with the whole of these
'How could they be ignorant of them? Judgment had passed against
defendant A in all the Courts.'
'And did they afford the plaintiff no protection?'
'They protect! Why, Mr. Trevor, you imagine yourself in Turkey,
telling your tale to a Cady, who decides according to his notions
of right and wrong; and not pleading in the presence of a bench of
English judges, who have twice ten thousand volumes to consult as
their guides which leave them no opinion of their own. It is their
duty to pronounce sentence as the statute-books direct: or, as in the
case I have cited, according to precedent, time immemorial.'
'And this is what you call law?'
'Ay! and sound law too.'
'Why then, damn the--'
'You do right to stop short, sir.'
'It appears to me that I am travelling in a cursed dirty as well as
thorny road,' said I, with a sigh.
'Why, to own the truth,' added Trottman, 'you must meet with a
little splashing: and, unless you can turn back and look at it with
unconcern, I should scarcely advise you to proceed.'
'I shall certainly reconsider the subject!'
'A pair of lawyers, like a pair of legs, are apt to bespatter each
other: but they nevertheless remain good friends and brothers. If you
send your spaniel into a muddy pool, you ought to take care, when he
comes out, that he does not shake the filth he has collected over his
'I wonder, sir, that you should continue one of a profession which you
treat with such unsparing severity.'
'And I, sir, do not wonder at your wonderings. Life is a long road;
and he must have travelled a very little way indeed who expects that
it should be all a bowling-green. Pursue your route in which direction
you will, law, trade, physic, or divinity, and prove to me that you
will never have occasion to shake off the dust from your feet in
testimony against it, and I will then pause and consider. You are of
the sect of the Perfectibles.'
'And you of the cast of the Stand-stills.'
'Oh no. I conceive myself to be among children at a fair, riding in
a round-about. Like the globe they inhabit, men are continually in
motion: but they can never pass their circle.'
'And do you suppose you know the limits of your circle?'
'Within a trifle. The experience of states, empires, and ages has
decided that question with tolerable accuracy.'
'But, what if a power should have arisen, of which you have not had
the experience of states, empires and ages; except of a very small
number? And what if this partial experience, as far as it goes, should
entirely overthrow your hypothesis?'
'I know that, in argument, your _if_ is a very renowned potentate. If
the moon should happen to be a cheese, it may some time or another
chance to fall about our ears in a shower of maggots. But what is this
mighty power, that has done so much in so short a time; and from which
you expect so many more miracles?'
'It is the art of printing. When knowledge was locked up in Egyptian
temples, or secreted by Indian Bramins for their own selfish traffic,
it was indeed difficult to increase this imaginary circle of yours:
but no sooner was it diffused among mankind, by the discovery of the
alphabet, than, in a short period, it was succeeded by the wonders of
Greece and Rome. And now, that its circulation is facilitated in so
incalculable a degree, who shall be daring enough to assert his puny
standard is the measure of all possible futurity? I am amazed, sir,
that a man of your acuteness, your readiness of wit, and your strength
of imagination, can persist in such an affirmative!'
'The _argumentum ad hominem_. Very sweet and delectable. Thank you,
'Every thing is subject to change: why not therefore to improvement?
That change is inevitable there are proofs look where you will:
that which is called innovation must consequently be indispensible.
Examine the history of your own science. When England was infested
with wolves, we are told that King Edgar imposed an annual tribute of
thirty wolves' heads on the Welsh Princes; that the breed might be
extirpated. Had this tribute been levied, after the race was partly
destroyed, the law would have counteracted its own intention: for, in
order to pay the tax, the tributary Princes must have encouraged the
breed; and once more have stocked the country with wolves.'
Stradling was little better than infected with what have been lately
stigmatised by the appellation of Jacobinical principles, and
exclaimed, with great exultation--'Your remark is very true, sir; and
it is an example that will serve admirably well to illustrate another
point. Placemen and pensioners, a race more ravenous and infinitely
more destructive than wolves, have been propagated for the support of
the Executive Government; and the breed increases so rapidly that it
will very soon devour its feeders.'
'And next itself.'
'With all my heart! Let me but see that vermin extirpated, and I shall
die in peace!'
'Very right, Mr. Stradling;' said Trottman, with great gravity.
'Placemen, and pensioners are vile vermin! And so will remain, till
your party comes into office.'
'If ever I could be brought to accept of place, or pension, may I--!'
'I believe you: for I am well persuaded your virtue will never be put
to the trial. Otherwise, I should imagine, it would find as many good
arguments, I mean precedents, in favour of the regular practice in
politics as in law.'
Here our dialogue paused. Dinner was announced, and law, politics, and
patriotism were for a while forgotten, by all except myself, in the
enjoyments of venison and old port.
_More painful doubts, and further enquiries: Unexpected encouragement
and warm affections from a character before supposed to be too cold:
Hope strengthened and confirmed_
Desultory as the conversation I have recited had been, it left a very
deep impression upon my mind. It was roundly asserted, by every lawyer
to whom I put the question, that the whole and sole business of a
counsellor was the defence of his client. Right or wrong, it was his
duty to gain his cause; and, with respect to the justice of it, into
that, generally speaking, it was impossible that he should enquire.
Briefs were frequently put into his hand as he entered the Court;
which he was to follow as instructed.
It did now and then happen that a cause was so infamous as to put even
the hacknied brow of a barrister to the blush: but it must be a vile
one indeed! And even then, when he threw up his brief, though paid
before he began to plead, it was matter of admiration to meet so
disinterested an example of virtue, in an advocate.
It was in the practice of the law that I hoped to have taken refuge,
against the arguments of Turl: which, averse as I had been to listen,
proved even to me that, in principle, it was not to be defended.
The train of thinking that followed these deductions was so very
painful that I was obliged to fly from them; and seek advice and
confirmation in the friendship of Wilmot, before I should write on the
subject to Mr. Evelyn. For the latter task indeed my mind was not yet
sufficiently calm, collected, and determined.
My chief consolation was that the subject had thus been strongly
brought to the test of enquiry, before the expiration of the month
which, according to agreement, I was to be with Counsellor Ventilate,
previous to the payment of my admission-fee; of which, as it was a
heavy one, thus to have robbed the charities of Mr. Evelyn would have
given me excessive anguish.
I know not whether I was sorry or glad when I came to Wilmot's
lodging, to find Turl there. He had returned from his bathing
excursion; having been called back sooner than he expected by his
He was cheerful, and in excellent spirits. His complexion was clear,
his health improved, and his joy at our meeting was evident and
unaffected. He even owned that, hearing I had devoted myself to the
law, he had returned thus soon the more willingly once again to argue
the question with me: for that he felt himself very highly interested
in the future employment of talents of which he had conceived
extraordinary hopes; and that he thought it impossible they should be
devoted to such a confusing study, were there no other objection to
it, as that of the law, without being, not only perverted and abused,
but, in a great degree, stifled.
After an avowal like this, it required an effort in me to summon up
my resolution, and honestly state the doubts and difficulties that
had arisen in my own mind. It was happy for me that my friends were
men whose habitual sincerity prompted me to a similar conduct. I
therefore took courage, opened my heart, and, while describing my
own sensations, was impelled to confess that the practice of the law
could with great difficulty indeed be reconciled to the principles of
'I most sincerely rejoice,' said Turl, 'that these doubts have been
suggested to you by other people, rather than by me: for I am very
desirous you should not continue to think me too prone to censure.
And, in addition to them, I would have you take a retrospect of
your plan. To induce you to despond is a thing which I would most
sedulously avoid: but to suffer you to delude yourself with the hopes
of sudden wealth (and when I say sudden, I would give you a term of
ten years) from the practice of the law, unless you should plunge
into that practice with the most unqualified disregard to all
that rectitude demands, would be to act the cowardly disingenuous
hypocrite; and entirely to forget the first and best duties of
'Should you ask--"What path then am I to pursue?" I own I am totally
at a loss for an answer. The choice must be left to yourself. You are
not ignorant that it is infinitely more easy to point out mistakes,
which have been and still continue to be committed daily, than to
teach how they may be entirely avoided. Of this I am well assured, if
you will confide in and exert those powers of mind that you possess,
they must lead you to a degree of happiness of the enjoyment of which,
I am sorry to say, but few are capable.
'From my own experience and from that of all the young men I meet,
who are thrown upon the world, I find that the period which is most
critical and full of danger, is the one during which they are obliged
unsupported to seek a grateful and worthy way of employing their
'My own resource has been that of cheerfully submitting to what are
called the hardships of obscure poverty; and of consoling myself,
not only with a firm persuasion that by this course in time I shall
infallibly change the scene, but that, till this time shall come, I
am employing myself on the subjects which can best afford me present
satisfaction. That is, in endeavours, however narrow and feeble, to
enlarge the boundaries of human happiness; and by means like these to
find a sufficiency for my own support.
'I know not that I ought to advise you to pursue a similar plan:
though I can truly say I am unacquainted with any other, which is
'How to answer or appease the imperious demands of your present ruling
passion I cannot devise. Neither can I say that I am convinced it is
blameable except in its excess. That you should desire to obtain so
rare and inestimable a treasure as that of a woman who, not to insist
upon her peculiar beauty, is possessed of the high faculties with
which she whom you love is affirmed to be endowed, is an ambition
which my heart knows not how to condemn as unworthy. There is
something in it so congenial to all my own feelings that to see you
united to her would give me inexpressible pleasure.
'You will perhaps be surprised to hear me own that, notwithstanding
the obstacles are so numerous that I have no perception of the manner
in which they are to be overcome, I yet rejoice with you that you have
discovered such a woman; that she has assuredly a rooted affection
for you; and that you have thus obtained one advantage over all your
friends, a strong and unconquerable motive to outstrip them in your
'Shall I add that, desperate as your case seems to be, I participate
in your sanguine hopes? I do not deem them entirely romantic, but
share in that which the phlegmatic would call the frenzy of your mind;
and half-persuade myself that you will finally be victorious.
'Then summon up your fortitude. Do not suffer the failure of
ill-concerted plans either to lessen your ardour or give it a rash
and dangerous direction. Be cool in decision, warm in pursuit, and
unwearied in perseverance. Time is a never failing friend, to those
who have the discernment to profit by the opportunities he offers.
Let your eye be on the alert, and your hand active and firm, as
circumstances shall occur, and I shall then say I scarcely know what
it is that you may not hope to achieve!'
Wilmot stood with his head resting on his arm, leaning against the
mantle-piece. When Turl began, his eye was cast down, a compassionate
melancholy overspread his countenance, and a deep sigh broke from him
unperceived by himself. As our mutual friend proceeded, his attitude
altered, his head was raised, his eye brightened, his features glowed,
his soul was wrapt in the visions which were raised by Turl, and,
unconscious of his own existence or that he spoke, his interrupting
ejaculations now and then involuntarily burst forth--'That is
true!--Well argued!--Do you think so?--Indeed!--I am glad of
that!--Don't despond, Trevor! Don't despond!--'Tis folly to despond!'
Just as he repeated the last sentence, ''Tis folly to despond,' so
full a remembrance of his former trains of thought came over him, and
there was so divine a mixture of hope and melancholy in his face,
which seemed so to reproach himself and to encourage me, that, divided
as my feelings were between the generous emanations of Turl and these
torrents of affection from a man who had suffered so deeply, I seized
the hand of each, pressed them both to my heart, instantly dropped
them again, covered my face, fell against the wall, and sobbed with
something like hysteric passion.
Of all the pleasures of which the soul is capable, those of friendship
for man and love for woman are the most exquisite. They may be
described as--'the comprehensive principle of benevolence, which binds
the whole human race to aid and love each other, individualized; and
put into its utmost state of activity.' Selfishness may deride them;
and there may be some so haunted by suspicion, or so hardened in vice
as to doubt or deny their existence. But he that has felt them in
their fullest force has the best as well as the grandest standard of
human nature; and the purest foretaste of the joys that are in store,
for the generations that are to come.
This is the spirit that is to harmonize the world; and give reality to
those ideal gardens of paradise, and ages of gold, the possibility of
which, as the records of fable shew, could scarcely escape even savage
What clue shall I give the reader to my heart, that shall lead him
into its recesses; and enable him to conceive its entire sensations?
That Turl, from whom I imagined I had met so much discouragement,
whose scrutinizing eye led him to examine with such severity, and
whose firm understanding possessed such powers of right decision, that
he should not only sympathize with me but partake in my best hopes,
and countenance me in my soul's dearest pursuit, that Turl should feel
and act thus, was a joy inconceivably great, and unexpected!
He now no longer appeared to me as one to whom, though I could not but
revere him, I durst not confess myself; but as a generous, anxious,
and tender friend. My former flashes of hope had usually been
succeeded by a gloomy despair, that made me half suspect myself to be
frantic: but, after this concession and encouragement from Turl, they
seemed instantly to spring into consistency, probability, and system.
Turl highly approved my forbearance, and caution, respecting the
letter I had written and was so anxious to convey to Olivia.
This farther coincidence of opinion not only induced me to persevere
in my plan, but afforded me a degree of grateful satisfaction, and
self-respect, that was exceedingly consolatory.
_More traits of the character of Mr. Evelyn: A new project of a very
flattering nature: Borough interest and a patriotic Baronet_
It may well be supposed that Turl was induced to enquire, and I to
explain, the means by which I should have been enabled to pursue
the study of the law: for he had heard of my misfortunes, and the
dissipation of my finances.
This brought the behaviour and character of Mr. Evelyn in review: and
the admiration of Turl, with the terms of affection and respect in
which he spoke of that gentleman, was additional delight. He had never
entertained any serious doubt, he said, but that such men existed:
perhaps many of them: yet to discover a single one was an unexpected
and, to say the truth, a very uncommon pleasure.
But Mr. Evelyn was to be made acquainted with my change of sentiment;
and of my being once more destitute of any plan for my future
guidance. It was necessary that he should not deem me a man of
unsettled principles; frivolous in propensity, and fantastic in
conduct. For, though perhaps my pride would have felt gratification at
no longer considering myself a dependent on the favourable opinion or
calculations which another might form concerning me, and my good or
ill qualities, yet I could not endure to sink in his esteem.
I therefore applied myself, immediately, in the most assiduous manner,
to collect and state such facts as I had gathered, relative to the
practice of the law: and, that the argument might be placed in the
clearest light possible, I begged of Turl to take that part of the
subject which related to its principles upon himself.
Thus provided, I wrote to Mr. Evelyn; and my letter was fortunate
enough to produce its desired effect.
Nor was he satisfied with mere approbation. His anxious and generous
friendship would not suffer him to rest; and he immediately made a
journey to town, to consult with me, since this project was rejected,
what should be my new pursuit.
His behaviour verified all the assertions of his former discourse,
concerning the hopes that he had conceived of my talents. He
considered nothing within the scope of his fortune as too great a
sacrifice, if it could but promote the end he desired. For this
purpose he not only consulted with Wilmot, and Turl, but led me into
such conversations as might best display the bent of my genius; and
afford him hints, on which to act.
And now he was induced to form a design such as I little expected; and
which required of me the acceptance of obligations so great as well
might stagger me, and render it difficult for me to consent.
He had remarked that my enunciation was clear and articulate, my
language flowing, my voice powerful, and my manner pre-possessing.
Such were the terms which he used, in describing these qualities
in me. The youthful manliness of my figure, he said, added to the
properties I have mentioned, was admirably adapted for parliamentary
oratory. My elocution and deportment were commanding; and principles
such as mine might awe corruption itself into respect, and aid to
rouse a nation, and enlighten a world. Mr. Evelyn, like myself, was
very much of an enthusiast.
He did not immediately communicate the project to me: which was indeed
first suggested to him by accidental circumstances: but previously
examined whether it was, as he supposed it to be, possible to be
carried into effect.
Sir Barnard Bray had the nomination of two borough members: one of
which he personated himself, and disposed of the other seat, as is the
custom, to a candidate who should be of his party; and consequently
vote according to his opinion.
He had long been the loud and fast friend of Opposition. No man was
more determined in detecting error, more hot in his zeal, or more
vociferous in accusation, than Sir Barnard: his dear and intimate
friend, the right honourable Mr. Abstract, excepted; who was indeed
pepper, or rather gunpowder itself.
Mr. Evelyn was the cousin of this patriotic baronet.
It happened just then to be the eve of a general election; and, as the
last member of Sir Barnard had been so profligate, or so patriotic, as
the worthy member himself repeatedly and solemnly declared he was, as
to vote with the Minister, who had previously given him a place and
promised to secure his return for a Treasury borough, Mr. Evelyn,
knowing these circumstances, was persuaded that the Baronet would be
happy to find a representative for _his_ constituents, whose eloquence
added to his own should avenge him on the Minister; if not tumble him
from the throne he had usurped.
Mr. Evelyn and the Baronet were on intimate terms: for Sir Barnard
took a particular pleasure in every man who perfectly agreed with him
in opinion; and, though this definition would not accurately apply to
Mr. Evelyn, yet, on the great leading points in politics they seldom
As to morals, as a science, Sir Barnard on many occasions would affect
to treat it with that common-place contempt which always accompanies
the supposition of the original and unconquerable depravity of man;
of the verity of which the Baronet had a rooted conviction. In this
hypothesis he was but confirmed by his burgage-tenure voters, by
the conduct of the members he had himself returned, and by certain
propensities which he felt in his own breast, and which he seriously
believed to be instinctive in man.
Beside, if Mr. Evelyn differed at any time in opinion with a
disputant, the suavity of his manners was so conciliatory that
opposition, from him, was sometimes better received than agreement,
and coincidence, from other people. This suavity, by the by, is a
delightful art. Would it were better understood, and more practised!
_Sage remarks on the seduction of young orators, the influence of the
crown, and the corruption of our glorious constitution: Old and new
nobility: Poor old England: Necessary precautions: The man with an
Full of the project he had conceived, Mr. Evelyn visited the Baronet,
who happened to be in town, and proposed it to him in the manner which
he thought might most prepossess him in my favour.
Sir Barnard listened attentively, and paused.
It happened that he had lately been meditating on the danger of
introducing young orators into parliament: for he had found, by
experience, that they are so marketable a commodity as to be almost
certain of being bought up. The trick he had himself been played was
bitterly remembered; and he had known and heard of several instances,
during his parliamentary career, of a similar kind.
Yet he could not but recollect that, when he and his former spokesman
had entered the house, arm in arm, there was a sort of buzz, and a
degree of respect paid to him, which had instantly diminished as soon
as this support was gone.
There is something of dignity in the use of crutches; and he that
cannot walk alone commands attention, from his imbecility.
'I do not know what to think of this plan,' said the Baronet. 'I find
your flowery speakers are no more to be depended upon, in the present
day, than the oldest drudges in corruption!
'You know, cousin, how I hate corruption. It is undoing us all, It
will undo the nation! The influence of the crown is monstrous. The
aristocracy is degraded by annual batches of mundungus and parchment
lords; and the constitution is tumbling about our ears. The old
English spirit is dead. The nation has lost all sense and feeling.
The people are so vile and selfish that they are bought and sold like
swine; to which, for my part, I think they have been very properly
compared. There is no such thing now as public virtue. No, no! That
happy time is gone by! Every man is for all he can get; and as for the
means, he cares nothing about them. There is absolutely no such thing
as patriotism existing; and, to own the truth, damn me if I believe
there is a man in the kingdom that cares one farthing for those rights
and liberties, about which so many people that you and I know pretend
'This is a severe supposition indeed. It implicates your dearest and
most intimate friends. Only recollect, Sir Barnard, what would your
feelings be, if the same thing should be asserted of you?'
'Of me, truly! No, no, cousin Evelyn; I think I have been pretty
tolerably tried! The Minister knows very well he could move the
Monument sooner than me. I love the people; and am half mad to see
that they have no love for themselves. Why do not they meet? Why do
not they petition? Why do not they besiege the throne with their
clamors? They are no better than beasts of burthen! If they were any
thing else, the whole kingdom would rise, as one man, and drive this
arrogant upstart from the helm. I say, Mr. Evelyn, I love the people;
I love my country; I love the constitution; and I hate the swarms of
mushroom peers, and petty traders, that are daily pouring in upon us,
to overturn it.'
Was it weakness of memory? Was it the blindness of egotism? Or was it
inordinate stupidity, that Sir Barnard should forget, as he constantly
did, that his father had been a common porter in a warehouse, had
raised an immense fortune by trade, had purchased the boroughs which
descended to his son, and had himself been bought with the title
of Baronet by a former minister? Was it so very long ago, that Sir
Barnard, with such a swell of conscious superiority, should begin to
talk of the antiquity of his family? But, above all, how did he happen
not to recollect that the disappointment which now preyed upon and
cankered his heart was the refusal of a peerage?
I really can give no satisfactory answer to these questions. I can
only state a fact: which daily occurs in a thousand other instances.
Mr. Evelyn brought the Baronet back to the point; and remarked to him
that, at the present period, when the Minister was so powerful in
numbers, to bring in a mere yes and no member with himself would be
a certain mode of not serving the country, the constitution, and the
people, whom he so dearly loved; that the safety which is derived
from a man's insignificance is but a bad pledge; and that he thought
himself very certain I was as dear, nay and as incorruptible, a lover
of old England, or at least of the welfare of mankind, as Sir Barnard
'Shew me such a man, cousin,' exclaimed the Baronet, 'and I will
worship him! I will worship him, Mr. Evelyn! I will worship him! But
I am persuaded he is not to be found. I have learned, from too fatal
experience, that I am certain of nobody but myself! Small as the
number in Opposition is, if they were but all as sound-hearted as I
am, and would set their shoulders to the wheel and lay themselves out
for the good of their country as I do, I say it, Mr. Evelyn, and take
my word for it I say true, we should overturn the Minister and his
corrupt gang in six months! Nay, in half the time! However, as you are
so strongly persuaded of the soundness of the gentleman's principles
whom you recommend, let me see him, and talk to him; and then I will
tell you more of my opinion.'
'There is one point, Sir Barnard, on which I suppose I need not
insist; it is so obvious.'
'What is that, cousin?'
'You being as you state a man of principle, and incapable of being
biassed to act against what you conceive to be the good of the nation,
you must expect that every man, who resembles you in patriotism and
fortitude, will act from himself, and will resist any attempt to
'Oh, as to that, we need say nothing about it. Those things are never
mentioned, now-a-days: they are perfectly understood. But who is your
young friend? Is he a man of property?'
He will be the more manageable, thought Sir Barnard.
'Where will he get a qualification?'
'I will provide him with one.'
'You say he is a gentleman.'
'As I understand the term, he certainly is: for, in addition to those
manners and accomplishments which are most pleasing to the world, he
not only possesses a good education but a sense of justice which makes
him regard every man as his brother; and which will neither suffer him
to crouch to the haughty nor trample on the poor.'
'Why, that is very good. Very right. I myself will crouch to no man.
And, as for modesty and humility, in the youth of the present day,
why they are very rarely found: and so I shall be happy to meet with
'Nay, but Mr. Trevor delivers his sentiments with rather an unguarded
freedom, and with peculiar energy, or indeed he would be ill qualified
to rise in the assembly of which I wish to see him a member, and
undauntedly oppose the arrogant assertions that are there daily made.'
'Arrogant! G---- confound me, Mr. Evelyn, if I am not sometimes struck
dumb, with what I hear in that house! There is that Scotchman in
particular, who will get up, after our allies have been defeated, our
troops driven like sheep from swamp to swamp, where they die of the
rot, and our ships carried by hundreds into the enemy's ports, and
will roundly assert, notwithstanding these facts are as notorious as
his own political profligacy, that our victories are splendid, our
armies undiminished, and our trade protected and flourishing beyond
all former example! He makes my hair stand on end to hear him! And
when I look in his face, and see the broad familiar easy impudence
with which he laughs at me and all of us, for our astonishment, why,
as I tell you, damn me if I am not dumb-founded! I am struck all of
a heap! I have not a word! I am choaked with rage, and amazement!
Compared to him your brothel-keeper is a modest person! Were but our
fortresses as impenetrable as his forehead, curse me if they would
ever be taken. He is bomb-proof. The returns that lie on the table can
make no impression upon him; and you may see him sneer and laugh if
they are pointed to in the course of an argument.
'In short, cousin Evelyn, the nation is ruined. I see that clear
enough. Our constitution will soon be changed to a pure despotism.
Barracks are building; soldiers line our streets: our commission of
the peace is filled with the creatures of a corrupt administration;
constables are only called out to keep up the farce; and we are at
present under little better than a military government.'
Though Mr. Evelyn would have been better satisfied, had Sir Barnard's
sense of national grievances been equally strong but less acrimonious,
yet he was pleased to find that these grievances were now more than
ever become a kind of common-place bead roll of repetitions: of which
their being so familiarly run over by the Baronet was sufficient
proof: for a people that are continually talking of the evils that
afflict them are not, as Sir Barnard and others have supposed, dead to
these evils. The nation that remarks, discusses, and complains of its
wrongs, will finally have them redressed.
_Serious doubts on serious subjects: Personal qualms, and
considerations: An interview with Sir Barnard: Fears and precautions,
or a burnt child dreads the fire_
What farther passed in the conversation I have recited was of little
moment: except that an appointment was made, on the following day, for
me to be introduced to the Baronet.
Thus far successful, Mr. Evelyn returned; and, as he was a man of
a firm and ingenuous mind, he thought it adviseable to hold a
consultation with me and my friends, on the prosecution of his plan.
That personal considerations might in no degree influence the enquiry,
he first proposed the question, without intimating to what it might
lead, of--'how far it became a virtuous man to accept a seat, on
those conditions under which a seat only can be obtained, among the
Back to Full Books