The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, Volume 2
Charles Lamb

Part 2 out of 11

something; but to be exposed to an endless battery of mere sounds; to
be long a dying, to lie stretched upon a rack of roses; to keep up
languor by unintermitted effort; to pile honey upon sugar, and sugar
upon honey, to an interminable tedious sweetness; to fill up sound
with feeling, and strain ideas to keep pace with it; to gaze on empty
frames, and be forced to make the pictures for yourself; to read a
book, _all stops_, and be obliged to supply the verbal matter; to
invent extempore tragedies to answer to the vague gestures of an
inexplicable rambling mime--these are faint shadows of what I have
undergone from a series of the ablest-executed pieces of this empty
_instrumental music_.

I deny not, that in the opening of a concert, I have experienced
something vastly lulling and agreeable:--afterwards followeth the
languor, and the oppression. Like that disappointing book in Patmos;
or, like the comings on of melancholy, described by Burton, doth
music make her first insinuating approaches:--"Most pleasant it is
to such as are melancholy given, to walk alone in some solitary
grove, betwixt wood and water, by some brook side, and to meditate
upon some delightsome and pleasant subject, which shall affect him
most, _amabilis insania_, and _mentis gratissimus error_. A most
incomparable delight to build castles in the air, to go smiling to
themselves, acting an infinite variety of parts, which they suppose,
and strongly imagine, they act, or that they see done.--So delightsome
these toys at first, they could spend whole days and nights without
sleep, even whole years in such contemplations, and fantastical
meditations, which are like so many dreams, and will hardly be drawn
from them--winding and unwinding themselves as so many clocks, and
still pleasing their humours, until at last the SCENE TURNS UPON A
SUDDEN, and they being now habitated to such meditations and solitary
places, can endure no company, can think of nothing but harsh and
distasteful subjects. Fear, sorrow, suspicion, _subrusticus pudor_,
discontent, cares, and weariness of life, surprise them on a sudden,
and they can think of nothing else: continually suspecting, no sooner
are their eyes open, but this infernal plague of melancholy seizeth on
them, and terrifies their souls, representing some dismal object to
their minds; which now, by no means, no labour, no persuasions they
can avoid, they cannot be rid of it, they cannot resist."

Something like this "SCENE-TURNING" I have experienced at the evening
parties, at the house of my good Catholic friend _Nov----_; who, by
the aid of a capital organ, himself the most finished of players,
converts his drawing-room into a chapel, his week days into Sundays,
and these latter into minor heavens.[1]

When my friend commences upon one of those solemn anthems, which
peradventure struck upon my heedless ear, rambling in the side
aisles of the dim abbey, some five and thirty years since, waking
a new sense, and putting a soul of old religion into my young
apprehension--(whether it be _that_, in which the psalmist, weary of
the persecutions of bad men, wisheth to himself dove's wings--or _that
other_, which, with a like measure of sobriety and pathos, inquireth
by what means the young man shall best cleanse his mind)--a holy calm
pervadeth me.--I am for the time

--rapt above earth,
And possess joys not promised at my birth.

But when this master of the spell, not content to have laid a soul
prostrate, goes on, in his power, to inflict more bliss than lies in
her capacity to receive,--impatient to overcome her "earthly" with his
"heavenly,"--still pouring in, for protracted hours, fresh waves and
fresh from the sea of sound, or from that inexhausted _German_ ocean,
above which, in triumphant progress, dolphin-seated, ride those
Arions _Haydn_ and _Mozart_, with their attendant tritons, _Bach_,
_Beethoven_, and a countless tribe, whom to attempt to reckon up
would but plunge me again in the deeps,--I stagger under the weight
of harmony, reeling to and fro at my wit's end;--clouds, as of
frankincense, oppress me--priests, altars, censers, dazzle before
me--the genius of _his_ religion hath me in her toils--a shadowy
triple tiara invests the brow of my friend, late so naked, so
ingenuous he is Pope, and by him sits, like as in the anomaly of
dreams, a she-Pope too,--tri-coroneted like himself!--I am converted,
and yet a Protestant;--at once _malleus hereticorum_, and myself grand
heresiarch: or three heresies centre in my person:--I am Marcion,
Ebion, and Cerinthus--Gog and Magog--what not?--till the coming in of
the friendly supper-tray dissipates the figment, and a draught of true
Lutheran beer (in which chiefly my friend shows himself no bigot) at
once reconciles me to the rationalities of a purer faith; and restores
to me the genuine unterrifying aspects of my pleasant-countenanced
host and hostess.

[Footnote 1:
I have been there, and still would go;
'Tis like a little heaven below.--_Dr. Watts_.]


The compliments of the season to my worthy masters, and a merry first
of April to us all!

Many happy returns of this day to you--and you--and _you_, Sir--nay,
never frown, man, nor put a long face upon the matter. Do not we know
one another? what need of ceremony among friends? we have all a touch
of _that same_--you understand me--a speck of the motley. Beshrew
the man who on such a day as this, the _general festival_, should
affect to stand aloof. I am none of those sneakers. I am free of the
corporation, and care not who knows it. He that meets me in the forest
to-day, shall meet with no wise-acre, I can tell him. _Stultus sum_.
Translate me that, and take the meaning of it to yourself for your
pains. What, man, we have four quarters of the globe on our side, at
the least computation.

Fill us a cup of that sparkling gooseberry--we will drink no wise,
melancholy, politic port on this day--and let us troll the catch of
Amiens--_duc ad me_--_duc ad me_--how goes it?

Here shall he see
Gross fools as he.

Now would I give a trifle to know historically and authentically, who
was the greatest fool that ever lived. I would certainly give him in
a bumper. Marry, of the present breed, I think I could without much
difficulty name you the party.

Remove your cap a little further, if you please: it hides my bauble.
And now each man bestride his hobby, and dust away his bells to what
tune he pleases. I will give you, for my part,

--The crazy old church clock.
And the bewildered chimes.

Good master Empedocles, you are welcome. It is long since you went a
salamander-gathering down AEtna. Worse than samphire-picking by some
odds. 'Tis a mercy your worship did not singe your mustachios.

Ha! Cleombrotus! and what salads in faith did you light upon at the
bottom of the Mediterranean? You were founder, I take it, of the
disinterested sect of the Calenturists.

Gebir, my old free-mason, and prince of plasterers at Babel, bring
in your trowel, most Ancient Grand! You have claim to a seat here at
my right hand, as patron of the stammerers. You left your work, if
I remember Herodotus correctly, at eight hundred million toises, or
thereabout, above the level of the sea. Bless us, what a long bell you
must have pulled, to call your top workmen to their nuncheon on the
low grounds of Sennaar. Or did you send up your garlick and onions by
a rocket? I am a rogue if I am not ashamed to show you our Monument on
Fish-street Hill, after your altitudes. Yet we think it somewhat.

What, the magnanimous Alexander in tears?--cry, baby, put its finger
in its eye, it shall have another globe, round as an orange, pretty

Mister Adams--'odso, I honour your coat--pray do us the favour to read
to us that sermon, which you lent to Mistress Slipslop--the twenty and
second in your portmanteau there--on Female Incontinence--the same--it
will come in most irrelevantly and impertinently seasonable to the
time of the day.

Good Master Raymund Lully, you look wise. Pray correct that error.--

Duns, spare your definitions. I must fine you a bumper, or a paradox.
We will have nothing said or done syllogistically this day. Remove
those logical forms, waiter, that no gentleman break the tender shins
of his apprehension stumbling across them.

Master Stephen, you are late.--Ha! Cokes, is it you?--Aguecheek,
my dear knight, let me pay my devoir to you.--Master Shallow, your
worship's poor servant to command.--Master Silence, I will use few
words with you.--Slender, it shall go hard if I edge not you in
somewhere.--You six will engross all the poor wit of the company
to-day.--I know it, I know it.

Ha! honest R----, my fine old Librarian of Ludgate, time out of mind,
art thou here again? Bless thy doublet, it is not over-new, threadbare
as thy stories:--what dost thou flitting about the world at this
rate?--Thy customers are extinct, defunct, bed-rid, have ceased to
read long ago.--Thou goest still among them, seeing if, peradventure,
thou canst hawk a volume or two.--Good Granville S----, thy last
patron, is flown.

King Pandion, he is dead,
All thy friends are lapt in lead.--

Nevertheless, noble R----, come in, and take your seat here, between
Armado and Quisada: for in true courtesy, in gravity, in fantastic
smiling to thyself, in courteous smiling upon others, in the goodly
ornature of well-apparelled speech, and the commendation of wise
sentences, thou art nothing inferior to those accomplished Dons of
Spain. The spirit of chivalry forsake me for ever, when I forget thy
singing the song of Macheath, which declares that he might be _happy
with either_, situated between those two ancient spinsters--when I
forget the inimitable formal love which thou didst make, turning now
to the one, and now to the other, with that Malvolian smile--as if
Cervantes, not Gay, had written it for his hero; and as if thousands
of periods must revolve, before the mirror of courtesy could have
given his invidious preference between a pair of so goodly-propertied
and meritorious-equal damsels, * * * * *

To descend from these altitudes, and not to protract our Fools'
Banquet beyond its appropriate day,--for I fear the second of April
is not many hours distant--in sober verity I will confess a truth to
thee, reader. I love a _Fool_--as naturally, as if I were of kith and
kin to him. When a child, with child-like apprehensions, that dived
not below the surface of the matter, I read those _Parables_--not
guessing at their involved wisdom--I had more yearnings towards
that simple architect, that built his house upon the sand, than I
entertained for his more cautious neighbour; I grudged at the
hard censure pronounced upon the quiet soul that kept his talent;
and--prizing their simplicity beyond the more provident, and, to my
apprehension, somewhat _unfeminine_ wariness of their competitors--I
felt a kindliness, that almost amounted to a _tendre_, for those five
thoughtless virgins.--I have never made an acquaintance since, that
lasted; or a friendship, that answered; with any that had not some
tincture of the absurd in their characters. I venerate an honest
obliquity of understanding. The more laughable blunders a man shall
commit in your company, the more tests he giveth you, that he will
not betray or overreach you. I love the safety, which a palpable
hallucination warrants; the security, which a word out of season
ratifies. And take my word for this, reader, and say a fool
told it you, if you please, that he who hath not a dram of
folly in his mixture, hath pounds of much worse matter in his
composition. It is observed, that "the foolisher the fowl or
fish,--woodcocks,--dotterels,--cod's-heads, &c. the finer the flesh
thereof," and what are commonly the world's received fools, but such
whereof the world is not worthy? and what have been some of the
kindliest patterns of our species, but so many darlings of absurdity,
minions of the goddess, and, her white boys?--Reader, if you wrest my
words beyond their fair construction, it is you, and not I, that are
the _April Fool_.


Still-born Silence! thou that art
Flood-gate of the deeper heart!
Offspring of a heavenly kind!
Frost o' the mouth, and thaw o' the mind!
Secrecy's confident, and he
Who makes religion mystery!
Admiration's speaking'st tongue!
Leave, thy desert shades among,
Reverend hermits' hallowed cells,
Where retired devotion dwells!
With thy enthusiasms come,
Seize our tongues, and strike us dumb![1]

Reader, would'st thou know what true peace and quiet mean; would'st
thou find a refuge from the noises and clamours of the multitude;
would'st thou enjoy at once solitude and society; would'st thou
possess the depth of thy own spirit in stillness, without being shut
out from the consolatory faces of thy species; would'st thou be alone,
and yet accompanied; solitary, yet not desolate; singular, yet not
without some to keep thee in countenance; a unit in aggregate; a
simple in composite:--come with me into a Quaker's Meeting.

Dost thou love silence deep as that "before the winds were made?" go
not out into the wilderness, descend not into the profundities of the
earth; shut not up thy casements; nor pour wax into the little cells
of thy ears, with little-faith'd self-mistrusting Ulysses.--Retire
with me into a Quaker's Meeting.

For a man to refrain even from good words, and to hold his peace, it
is commendable; but for a multitude, it is great mastery.

What is the stillness of the desert, compared with this place? what
the uncommunicating muteness of fishes?--here the goddess reigns and
revels.--"Boreas, and Cesias, and Argestes loud," do not with their
inter-confounding uproars more augment the brawl--nor the waves of the
blown Baltic with their clubbed sounds--than their opposite (Silence
her sacred self) is multiplied and rendered more intense by numbers,
and by sympathy. She too hath her deeps, that call unto deeps.
Negation itself hath a positive more and less; and closed eyes would
seem to obscure the great obscurity of midnight.

There are wounds, which an imperfect solitude cannot heal. By
imperfect I mean that which a man enjoyeth by himself. The perfect
is that which he can sometimes attain in crowds, but nowhere so
absolutely as in a Quaker's Meeting.--Those first hermits did
certainly understand this principle, when they retired into Egyptian
solitudes, not singly, but in shoals, to enjoy one another's want of
conversation. The Carthusian is bound to his brethren by this agreeing
spirit of incommunicativeness. In secular occasions, what so pleasant
as to be reading a book through a long winter evening, with a friend
sitting by--say, a wife--he, or she, too, (if that be probable),
reading another, without interruption, or oral communication?--can
there be no sympathy without the gabble of words?--away with this
inhuman, shy, single, shade-and-cavern-haunting solitariness. Give me,
Master Zimmerman, a sympathetic solitude.

To pace alone in the cloisters, or side aisles of some cathedral,

Or under hanging mountains,
Or by the fall of fountains;

is but a vulgar luxury, compared with that which those enjoy, who come
together for the purposes of more complete, abstracted solitude. This
is the loneliness "to be felt."--The Abbey Church of Westminster hath
nothing so solemn, so spirit-soothing, as the naked walls and benches
of a Quaker's Meeting. Here are no tombs, no inscriptions,

--sands, ignoble things,
Dropt from the ruined sides of kings--

but here is something, which throws Antiquity herself into
the fore-ground--SILENCE--eldest of things--language of old
Night--primitive Discourser--to which the insolent decays of
mouldering grandeur have but arrived by a violent, and, as we may say,
unnatural progression.

How reverend is the view of these hushed heads,
Looking tranquillity!

Nothing-plotting, nought-caballing, unmischievous synod! convocation
without intrigue! parliament without debate! what a lesson dost
thou read to council, and to consistory!--if my pen treat of you
lightly--as haply it will wander--yet my spirit hath gravely felt the
wisdom of your custom, when sitting among you in deepest peace, which
some out-welling tears would rather confirm than disturb, I have
reverted to the times of your beginnings, and the sowings of the seed
by Fox and Dewesbury.--I have witnessed that, which brought before
my eyes your heroic tranquillity, inflexible to the rude jests and
serious violences of the insolent soldiery, republican or royalist,
sent to molest you--for ye sate betwixt the fires of two persecutions,
the out-cast and off-scowering of church and presbytery.--I have seen
the reeling sea-ruffian, who had wandered into your receptacle, with
the avowed intention of disturbing your quiet, from the very spirit of
the place receive in a moment a new heart, and presently sit among ye
as a lamb amidst lambs. And I remembered Penn before his accusers, and
Fox in the bail-dock, where he was lifted up in spirit, as he tells
us, and "the Judge and the Jury became as dead men under his feet."

Reader, if you are not acquainted with it, I would recommend to you,
above all church-narratives, to read Sewel's History of the Quakers.
It is in folio, and is the abstract of the journals of Fox, and the
primitive Friends. It is far more edifying and affecting than any
thing you will read of Wesley and his colleagues. Here is nothing to
stagger you, nothing to make you mistrust, no suspicion of alloy,
no drop or dreg of the worldly or ambitious spirit. You will here
read the true story of that much-injured, ridiculed man (who perhaps
hath been a by-word in your mouth,)--James Naylor: what dreadful
sufferings, with what patience, he endured even to the boring through
of his tongue with red-hot irons without a murmur; and with what
strength of mind, when the delusion he had fallen into, which they
stigmatised for blasphemy, had given way to clearer thoughts, he could
renounce his error, in a strain of the beautifullest humility, yet
keep his first grounds, and be a Quaker still!--so different from
the practice of your common converts from enthusiasm, who, when they
apostatize, _apostatize all_, and think they can never get far enough
from the society of their former errors, even to the renunciation of
some saving truths, with which they had been mingled, not implicated.

Get the Writings of John Woolman by heart; and love the early Quakers.

How far the followers of these good men in our days have kept to
the primitive spirit, or in what proportion they have substituted
formality for it, the Judge of Spirits can alone determine. I have
seen faces in their assemblies, upon which the dove sate visibly
brooding. Others again I have watched, when my thoughts should have
been better engaged, in which I could possibly detect nothing but a
blank inanity. But quiet was in all, and the disposition to unanimity,
and the absence of the fierce controversial workings.--If the
spiritual pretensions of the Quakers have abated, at least they make
few pretences. Hypocrites they certainly are not, in their preaching.
It is seldom indeed that you shall see one get up amongst them to hold
forth. Only now and then a trembling, female, generally _ancient_,
voice is heard--you cannot guess from what part of the meeting it
proceeds--with a low, buzzing, musical sound, laying out a few words
which "she thought might suit the condition of some present," with a
quaking diffidence, which leaves no possibility of supposing that any
thing of female vanity was mixed up, where the tones were so full of
tenderness, and a restraining modesty.--The men, for what I observed,
speak seldomer.

Once only, and it was some years ago, I witnessed a sample of the
old Foxian orgasm. It was a man of giant stature, who, as Wordsworth
phrases it, might have danced "from head to foot equipt in iron mail."
His frame was of iron too. But _he_ was malleable. I saw him shake
all over with the spirit--I dare not say, of delusion. The strivings
of the outer man were unutterable--he seemed not to speak, but to
be spoken from. I saw the strong man bowed down, and his knees to
fail--his joints all seemed loosening--it was a figure to set off
against Paul Preaching--the words he uttered were few, and sound--he
was evidently resisting his will--keeping down his own word-wisdom
with more mighty effort, than the world's orators strain for theirs.
"He had been a WIT in his youth," he told us, with expressions of a
sober remorse. And it was not till long after the impression had begun
to wear away, that I was enabled, with something like a smile, to
recall the striking incongruity of the confession--understanding the
term in its worldly acceptation--with the frame and physiognomy of the
person before me. His brow would have scared away the Levities--the
Jocos Risus-que--faster than the Loves fled the face of Dis at
Enna.--By _wit_, even in his youth, I will be sworn he understood
something far within the limits of an allowable liberty.

More frequently the Meeting is broken up without a word having been
spoken. But the mind has been fed. You go away with a sermon, not made
with hands. You have been in the milder caverns of Trophonius; or as
in some den, where that fiercest and savagest of all wild creatures,
the TONGUE, that unruly member, has strangely lain tied up and
captive. You have bathed with stillness.--O when the spirit is sore
fretted, even tired to sickness of the janglings, and nonsense-noises
of the world, what a balm and a solace it is, to go and seat yourself,
for a quiet half hour, upon some undisputed corner of a bench, among
the gentle Quakers!

Their garb and stillness conjoined, present an uniformity, tranquil
and herd-like--as in the pasture--"forty feeding like one."--

The very garments of a Quaker seem incapable of receiving a soil;
and cleanliness in them to be something more than the absence of its
contrary. Every Quakeress is a lily; and when they come up in bands
to their Whitsun-conferences, whitening the easterly streets of the
metropolis, from all parts of the United Kingdom, they show like
troops of the Shining Ones.

[Footnote 1: From "Poems of all sorts," by Richard Fleckno, 1653.]


My reading has been lamentably desultory and immethodical. Odd, out of
the way, old English plays, and treatises, have supplied me with most
of my notions, and ways of feeling. In every thing that relates to
_science_, I am a whole Encyclopaedia behind the rest of the world.
I should have scarcely cut a figure among the franklins, or country
gentlemen, in king John's days. I know less geography than a
school-boy of six weeks' standing. To me a map of old Ortelius is as
authentic as Arrowsmith. I do not know whereabout Africa merges into
Asia; whether Ethiopia lie in one or other of those great divisions;
nor can form the remotest conjecture of the position of New South
Wales, or Van Diemen's Land. Yet do I hold a correspondence with a
very dear friend in the first-named of these two Terrae Incognitae.
I have no astronomy. I do not know where to look for the Bear, or
Charles's Wain; the place of any star; or the name of any of them at
sight. I guess at Venus only by her brightness--and if the sun on
some portentous morn were to make his first appearance in the West, I
verily believe, that, while all the world were gasping in apprehension
about me, I alone should stand unterrified, from sheer incuriosity
and want of observation. Of history and chronology I possess some
vague points, such as one cannot help picking up in the course of
miscellaneous study; but I never deliberately sat down to a chronicle,
even of my own country. I have most dim apprehensions of the four
great monarchies; and sometimes the Assyrian, sometimes the Persian,
floats as _first_ in my fancy. I make the widest conjectures
concerning Egypt, and her shepherd kings. My friend _M._, with great
painstaking, got me to think I understood the first proposition in
Euclid, but gave me over in despair at the second. I am entirely
unacquainted with the modern languages; and, like a better man than
myself, have "small Latin and less Greek." I am a stranger to the
shapes and texture of the commonest trees, herbs, flowers--not from
the circumstance of my being town-born--for I should have brought the
same inobservant spirit into the world with me, had I first seen it
in "on Devon's leafy shores,"--and am no less at a loss among purely
town-objects, tools, engines, mechanic processes.--Not that I affect
ignorance--but my head has not many mansions, nor spacious; and I have
been obliged to fill it with such cabinet curiosities as it can hold
without aching. I sometimes wonder, how I have passed my probation
with so little discredit in the world, as I have done, upon so meagre
a stock. But the fact is, a man may do very well with a very little
knowledge, and scarce be found out, in mixed company; every body is so
much more ready to produce his own, than to call for a display of your
acquisitions. But in a _tete-a-tete_ there is no shuffling. The truth
will out. There is nothing which I dread so much, as the being left
alone for a quarter of an hour with a sensible, well-informed man,
that does not know me. I lately got into a dilemma of this sort.--

In one of my daily jaunts between Bishopsgate and Shacklewell, the
coach stopped to take up a staid-looking gentleman, about the wrong
side of thirty, who was giving his parting directions (while the
steps were adjusting), in a tone of mild authority, to a tall youth,
who seemed to be neither his clerk, his son, nor his servant, but
something partaking of all three. The youth was dismissed, and
we drove on. As we were the sole passengers, he naturally enough
addressed his conversation to me; and we discussed the merits of the
fare, the civility and punctuality of the driver; the circumstance of
an opposition coach having been lately set up, with the probabilities
of its success--to all which I was enabled to return pretty
satisfactory answers, having been drilled into this kind of etiquette
by some years' daily practice of riding to and fro in the stage
aforesaid--when he suddenly alarmed me by a startling question,
whether I had seen the show of prize cattle that morning in
Smithfield? Now as I had not seen it, and do not greatly care for
such sort of exhibitions, I was obliged to return a cold negative. He
seemed a little mortified, as well as astonished, at my declaration,
as (it appeared) he was just come fresh from the sight, and doubtless
had hoped to compare notes on the subject. However he assured me that
I had lost a fine treat, as it far exceeded the show of last year. We
were now approaching Norton Falgate, when the sight of some shop-goods
_ticketed_ freshened him up into a dissertation upon the cheapness of
cottons this spring. I was now a little in heart, as the nature of my
morning avocations had brought me into some sort of familiarity with
the raw material; and I was surprised to find how eloquent I was
becoming on the state of the India market--when, presently, he dashed
my incipient vanity to the earth at once, by inquiring whether I had
ever made any calculation as to the value of the rental of all the
retail shops in London. Had he asked of me, what song the Sirens sang,
or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, I
might, with Sir Thomas Browne, have hazarded a "wide solution."[1] My
companion saw my embarrassment, and, the almshouses beyond Shoreditch
just coming in view, with great good-nature and dexterity shifted
his conversation to the subject of public charities; which led to
the comparative merits of provision for the poor in past and present
times, with observations on the old monastic institutions, and
charitable orders;--but, finding me rather dimly impressed with
some glimmering notions from old poetic associations, than strongly
fortified with any speculations reducible to calculation on the
subject, he gave the matter up; and, the country beginning to open
more and more upon us, as we approached the turnpike at Kingsland (the
destined termination of his journey), he put a home thrust upon me, in
the most unfortunate position he could have chosen, by advancing some
queries relative to the North Pole Expedition. While I was muttering
out something about the Panorama of those strange regions (which I had
actually seen), by way of parrying the question, the coach stopping
relieved me from any further apprehensions. My companion getting out,
left me in the comfortable possession of my ignorance; and I heard
him, as he went off, putting questions to an outside passenger, who
had alighted with him, regarding an epidemic disorder, that had been
rife about Dalston; and which, my friend assured him, had gone through
five or six schools in that neighbourhood. The truth now flashed upon
me, that my companion was a schoolmaster; and that the youth, whom he
had parted from at our first acquaintance, must have been one of the
bigger boys, or the usher.--He was evidently a kind-hearted man, who
did not seem so much desirous of provoking discussion by the questions
which he put, as of obtaining information at any rate. It did not
appear that he took any interest, either, in such kind of inquiries,
for their own sake; but that he was in some way bound to seek for
knowledge. A greenish-coloured coat, which he had on, forbade me to
surmise that he was a clergyman. The adventure gave birth to some
reflections on the difference between persons of his profession in
past and present times.

Rest to the souls of those fine old Pedagogues; the breed, long
since extinct, of the Lilys, and the Linacres: who believing that
all learning was contained in the languages which they taught, and
despising every other acquirement as superficial and useless, came to
their task as to a sport! Passing from infancy to age, they dreamed
away all their days as in a grammar-school. Revolving in a perpetual
cycle of declensions, conjugations, syntaxes, and prosodies; renewing
constantly the occupations which had charmed their studious childhood;
rehearsing continually the part of the past; life must have slipped
from them at last like one day. They were always in their first
garden, reaping harvests of their golden time, among their _Flori_ and
their _Spici-legia_; in Arcadia still, but kings; the ferule of their
sway not much harsher, but of like dignity with that mild sceptre
attributed to king Basileus; the Greek and Latin, their stately Pamela
and their Philoclea; with the occasional duncery of some untoward
Tyro, serving for a refreshing interlude of a Mopsa, or a clown

With what a savour doth the Preface to Colet's, or (as it is sometimes
called) Paul's Accidence, set forth! "To exhort every man to the
learning of grammar, that intendeth to attain the understanding of
the tongues, wherein is contained a great treasury of wisdom and
knowledge, it would seem but vain and lost labour; for so much as it
is known, that nothing can surely be ended, whose beginning is either
feeble or faulty; and no building be perfect, whereas the foundation
and ground-work is ready to fall, and unable to uphold the burden of
the frame." How well doth this stately preamble (comparable to those
which Milton commendeth as "having been the usage to prefix to some
solemn law, then first promulgated by Solon, or Lycurgus") correspond
with and illustrate that pious zeal for conformity, expressed in a
succeeding clause, which would fence about grammar-rules with the
severity of faith-articles!--"as for the diversity of grammars, it
is well profitably taken away by the king majesties wisdom, who
foreseeing the inconvenience, and favourably providing the remedie,
caused one kind of grammar by sundry learned men to be diligently
drawn, and so to be set out, only everywhere to be taught for the use
of learners, and for the hurt in changing of schoolmaisters." What a
_gusto_ in that which follows: "wherein it is profitable that he can
orderly decline his noun, and his verb." _His_ noun!

The fine dream is fading away fast; and the least concern of a teacher
in the present day is to inculcate grammar-rules.

The modern schoolmaster is expected to know a little of every thing,
because his pupil is required not to be entirely ignorant of any
thing. He must be superficially, if I may so say, omniscient. He is to
know something of pneumatics; of chemistry; of whatever is curious,
or proper to excite the attention of the youthful mind; an insight
into mechanics is desirable, with a touch of statistics; the quality
of soils, &c. botany, the constitution of his country, _cum multis
aliis_. You may get a notion of some part of his expected duties by
consulting the famous Tractate on Education addressed to Mr. Hartlib.

All these things--these, or the desire of them--he is expected to
instil, not by set lessons from professors, which he may charge in the
bill, but at school-intervals, as he walks the streets, or saunters
through green fields (those natural instructors), with his pupils.
The least part of what is expected from him, is to be done in
school-hours. He must insinuate knowledge at the _mollia tempera
fandi_. He must seize every occasion--the season of the year--the time
of the day--a passing cloud--a rainbow--a wagon of hay--a regiment of
soldiers going by--to inculcate something useful. He can receive no
pleasure from a casual glimpse of Nature, but must catch at it as an
object of instruction. He must interpret beauty into the picturesque.
He cannot relish a beggar-man, or a gipsy, for thinking of the
suitable improvement. Nothing comes to him, not spoiled by the
sophisticating medium of moral uses. The Universe--that Great Book, as
it has been called--is to him indeed, to all intents and purposes, a
book, out of which he is doomed to read tedious homilies to distasting
schoolboys.--Vacations themselves are none to him, he is only rather
worse off than before; for commonly he has some intrusive upper-boy
fastened upon him at such times; some cadet of a great family; some
neglected lump of nobility, or gentry; that he must drag after him to
the play, to the Panorama, to Mr. Bartley's Orrery, to the Panopticon,
or into the country, to a friend's house, or to his favourite
watering-place. Wherever he goes, this uneasy shadow attends him. A
boy is at his board, and in his path, and in all his movements. He is
boy-rid, sick of perpetual boy.

Boys are capital fellows in their own way, among their mates; but
they are unwholesome companions for grown people. The restraint is
felt no less on the one side, than on the other.--Even a child, that
"plaything for an hour," tires _always_. The noises of children,
playing their own fancies--as I now hearken to them by fits, sporting
on the green before my window, while I am engaged in these grave
speculations at my neat suburban retreat at Shacklewell--by distance
made more sweet--inexpressibly take from the labour of my task. It is
like writing to music. They seem to modulate my periods. They ought at
least to do so--for in the voice of that tender age there is a kind of
poetry, far unlike the harsh prose-accents of man's conversation.--I
should but spoil their sport, and diminish my own sympathy for them,
by mingling in their pastime.

I would not be domesticated all my days with a person of very
superior capacity to my own--not, if I know myself at all, from any
considerations of jealousy or self-comparison, for the occasional
communion with such minds has constituted the fortune and felicity of
my life--but the habit of too constant intercourse with spirits above
you, instead of raising you, keeps you down. Too frequent doses of
original thinking from others, restrain what lesser portion of that
faculty you may possess of your own. You get entangled in another
man's mind, even as you lose yourself in another man's grounds. You
are walking with a tall varlet, whose strides out-pace yours to
lassitude. The constant operation of such potent agency would reduce
me, I am convinced, to imbecility. You may derive thoughts from
others; your way of thinking, the mould in which your thoughts are
cast, must be your own. Intellect may be imparted, but not each man's
intellectual frame.--

As little as I should wish to be always thus dragged upwards, as
little (or rather still less) is it desirable to be stunted downwards
by your associates. The trumpet does not more stun you by its
loudness, than a whisper teases you by its provoking inaudibility.

Why are we never quite at our ease in the presence of a
schoolmaster?--because we are conscious that he is not quite at his
ease in ours. He is awkward, and out of place, in the society of his
equals. He comes like Gulliver from among his little people, and he
cannot fit the stature of his understanding to yours. He cannot meet
you on the square. He wants a point given him, like an indifferent
whist-player. He is so used to teaching, that he wants to be teaching
_you_. One of these professors, upon my complaining that these little
sketches of mine were any thing but methodical, and that I was unable
to make them otherwise, kindly offered to instruct me in the method by
which young gentlemen in _his_ seminary were taught to compose English
themes.--The jests of a schoolmaster are coarse, or thin. They do
not _tell_ out of school. He is under the restraint of a formal and
didactive hypocrisy in company, as a clergyman is under a moral one.
He can no more let his intellect loose in society, than the other
can his inclinations.--He is forlorn among his co-evals; his juniors
cannot be his friends.

"I take blame to myself," said a sensible man of this profession,
writing to a friend respecting a youth who had quitted his school
abruptly, "that your nephew was not more attached to me. But persons
in my situation are more to be pitied, than can well be imagined. We
are surrounded by young, and, consequently, ardently affectionate
hearts, but _we_ can never hope to share an atom of their affections.
The relation of master and scholar forbids this. _How pleasing this
must be to you, how I envy your feelings_, my friends will sometimes
say to me, when they see young men, whom I have educated, return after
some years absence from school, their eyes shining with pleasure,
while they shake hands with their old master, bringing a present of
game to me, or a toy to my wife, and thanking me in the warmest terms
for my care of their education. A holiday is begged for the boys;
the house is a scene of happiness; I, only, am sad at heart--This
fine-spirited and warm-hearted youth, who fancies he repays his master
with gratitude for the care of his boyish years--this young man--in
the eight long years I watched over him with a parent's anxiety, never
could repay me with one look of genuine feeling. He was proud, when
I praised; he was submissive, when I reproved him; but he did never
_love_ me--and what he now mistakes for gratitude and kindness for me,
is but the pleasant sensation, which all persons feel at revisiting
the scene of their boyish hopes and fears; and the seeing on equal
terms the man they were accustomed to look up to with reverence.
My wife too," this interesting correspondent goes on to say, "my
once darling Anna, is the wife of a schoolmaster.--When I married
her--knowing that the wife of a schoolmaster ought to be a busy
notable creature, and fearing that my gentle Anna would ill supply the
loss of my dear bustling mother, just then dead, who never sat still,
was in every part of the house in a moment, and whom I was obliged
sometimes to threaten to fasten down in a chair, to save her from
fatiguing herself to death--I expressed my fears, that I was bringing
her into a way of life unsuitable to her; and she, who loved me
tenderly, promised for my sake to exert herself to perform the duties
of her new situation. She promised, and she has kept her word. What
wonders will not woman's love perform?--My house is managed with a
propriety and decorum, unknown in other schools; my boys are well
fed, look healthy, and have every proper accommodation; and all this
performed with a careful economy, that never descends to meanness. But
I have lost my gentle, _helpless_ Anna!--When we sit down to enjoy an
hour of repose after the fatigue of the day, I am compelled to listen
to what have been her useful (and they are really useful) employments
through the day, and what she proposes for her to-morrow's task. Her
heart and her features are changed by the duties of her situation. To
the boys, she never appears other than the _master's wife_, and she
looks up to me as the _boys' master_; to whom all show of love and
affection would be highly improper, and unbecoming the dignity of her
situation and mine. Yet _this_ my gratitude forbids me to hint to
her. For my sake she submitted to be this altered creature, and can
I reproach her for it?"--For the communication of this letter, I am
indebted to my cousin Bridget.

[Footnote 1: Urn Burial.]


Hail to thy returning festival, old Bishop Valentine! Great is thy
name in the rubric, thou venerable Archflamen of Hymen! Immortal
Go-between! who and what manner of person art thou? Art thou but a
_name_, typifying the restless principle which impels poor humans to
seek perfection in union? or wert thou indeed a mortal prelate, with
thy tippet and thy rochet, thy apron on, and decent lawn sleeves?
Mysterious personage! like unto thee, assuredly, there is no other
mitred father in the calendar; not Jerome, nor Ambrose, nor Cyril;
nor the consigner of undipt infants to eternal torments, Austin, whom
all mothers hate; nor he who hated all mothers, Origen; nor Bishop
Bull, nor Archbishop Parker, nor Whitgift. Thou comest attended with
thousands and ten thousands of little Loves, and the air is

Brush'd with the hiss of rustling wings.

Singing Cupids are thy choristers and thy precentors; and instead of
the crosier, the mystical arrow is borne before thee.

In other words, this is the day on which those charming little
missives, ycleped Valentines, cross and intercross each other at every
street and turning. The weary and all forspent twopenny postman sinks
beneath a load of delicate embarrassments, not his own. It is scarcely
credible to what an extent this ephemeral courtship is carried on in
this loving town, to the great enrichment of porters, and detriment
of knockers and bell-wires. In these little visual interpretations,
no emblem is so common as the _heart_,--that little three-cornered
exponent of all our hopes and fears,--the bestuck and bleeding heart;
it is twisted and tortured into more allegories and affectations
than an opera hat. What authority we have in history or mythology
for placing the head-quarters and metropolis of God Cupid in this
anatomical seat rather than in any other, is not very clear; but we
have got it, and it will serve as well as any other. Else we might
easily imagine, upon some other system which might have prevailed
for any thing which our pathology knows to the contrary, a lover
addressing his mistress, in perfect simplicity of feeling, "Madam,
my _liver_ and fortune are entirely at your disposal;" or putting
a delicate question, "Amanda, have you a _midriff_ to bestow?" But
custom has settled these things, and awarded the seat of sentiment to
the aforesaid triangle, while its less fortunate neighbours wait at
animal and anatomical distance.

Not many sounds in life, and I include all urban and all rural sounds,
exceed in interest a _knock at the door_. It "gives a very echo to
the throne where Hope is seated." But its issues seldom answer to
this oracle within. It is so seldom that just the person we want to
see comes. But of all the clamorous visitations the welcomest in
expectation is the sound that ushers in, or seems to usher in, a
Valentine. As the raven himself was hoarse that announced the fatal
entrance of Duncan, so the knock of the postman on this day is light,
airy, confident, and befitting one that bringeth good tidings. It is
less mechanical than on other days; you will say, "That is not the
post, I am sure." Visions of Love, of Cupids, of Hymens!--delightful
eternal common-places, which "having been will always be;" which no
school-boy nor school-man can write away; having your irreversible
throne in the fancy and affections--what are your transports, when the
happy maiden, opening with careful finger, careful not to break the
emblematic seal, bursts upon the sight of some well-designed allegory,
some type, some youthful fancy, not without verses--

Lovers all,
A madrigal,

or some such device, not over abundant in sense--young Love disclaims
it,--and not quite silly--something between wind and water, a chorus
where the sheep might almost join the shepherd, as they did, or as I
apprehend they did, in Arcadia.

All Valentines are not foolish; and I shall not easily forget thine,
my kind friend (if I may have leave to call you so) E. B.--E.B. lived
opposite a young maiden, whom he had often seen, unseen, from his
parlour window in C--e-street. She was all joyousness and innocence,
and just of an age to enjoy receiving a Valentine, and just of a
temper to bear the disappointment of missing one with good humour.
E.B. is an artist of no common powers; in the fancy parts of
designing, perhaps inferior to none; his name is known at the bottom
of many a well executed vignette in the way of his profession, but no
further; for E.B. is modest, and the world meets nobody half-way. E.B.
meditated how he could repay this young maiden for many a favour which
she had done him unknown; for when a kindly face greets us, though but
passing by, and never knows us again, nor we it, we should feel it as
an obligation; and E.B. did. This good artist set himself at work to
please the damsel. It was just before Valentine's day three years
since. He wrought, unseen and unsuspected, a wondrous work. We need
not say it was on the finest gilt paper with borders--full, not of
common hearts and heartless allegory, but all the prettiest stories
of love from Ovid, and older poets than Ovid (for E.B. is a scholar.)
There was Pyramus and Thisbe, and be sure Dido was not forgot, nor
Hero and Leander, and swans more than sang in Cayster, with mottos
and fanciful devices, such as beseemed,--a work in short of magic.
Iris dipt the woof. This on Valentine's eve he commended to the
all-swallowing indiscriminate orifice--(O ignoble trust!)--of the
common post; but the humble medium did its duty, and from his watchful
stand, the next morning, he saw the cheerful messenger knock, and by
and by the precious charge delivered. He saw, unseen, the happy girl
unfold the Valentine, dance about, clap her hands, as one after one
the pretty emblems unfolded themselves. She danced about, not with
light love, or foolish expectations, for she had no lover; or, if she
had, none she knew that could have created those bright images which
delighted her. It was more like some fairy present; a God-send, as
our familiarly pious ancestors termed a benefit received, where the
benefactor was unknown. It would do her no harm. It would do her good
for ever after. It is good to love the unknown. I only give this as a
specimen of E.B. and his modest way of doing a concealed kindness.

Good-morrow to my Valentine, sings poor Ophelia; and no better wish,
but with better auspices, we wish to all faithful lovers, who are not
too wise to despise old legends, but are content to rank themselves
humble diocesans of old Bishop Valentine, and his true church.


I am of a constitution so general, that it consorts and sympathized
with all things, I have no antipathy, or rather idiosyncracy in any
thing. Those national repugnancies do not touch me, nor do I behold with
prejudice the French, Italian, Spaniard, or Dutch.--_Religio Medici_.

That the author of the Religio Medici, mounted upon the airy stilts
of abstraction, conversant about notional and conjectural essences;
in whose categories of Being the possible took the upper hand of
the actual; should have overlooked the impertinent individualities
of such poor concretions as mankind, is not much to be admired.
It is rather to be wondered at, that in the genus of animals he
should have condescended to distinguish that species at all. For
myself--earth-bound and fettered to the scene of my activities,--

Standing on earth, not rapt above the sky,

I confess that I do feel the differences of mankind, national or
individual, to an unhealthy excess. I can look with no indifferent
eye upon things or persons. Whatever is, is to me a matter of taste
or distaste; or when once it becomes indifferent, it begins to be
disrelishing. I am, in plainer words, a bundle of prejudices--made up
of likings and dislikings--the veriest thrall to sympathies, apathies,
antipathies. In a certain sense, I hope it may be said of me that I am
a lover of my species. I can feel for all indifferently, but I cannot
feel towards all equally. The more purely-English word that expresses
sympathy will better explain my meaning. I can be a friend to a worthy
man, who upon another account cannot be my mate or _fellow_. I cannot
_like_ all people alike.[1]

I have been trying all my life to like Scotchmen, and am obliged to
desist from the experiment in despair. They cannot like me--and in
truth, I never knew one of that nation who attempted to do it. There
is something more plain and ingenuous in their mode of proceeding.
We know one another at first sight. There is an order of imperfect
intellects (under which mine must be content to rank) which in its
constitution is essentially anti-Caledonian. The owners of the
sort of faculties I allude to, have minds rather suggestive than
comprehensive. They have no pretences to much clearness or precision
in their ideas, or in their manner of expressing them. Their
intellectual wardrobe (to confess fairly) has few whole pieces in it.
They are content with fragments and scattered pieces of Truth. She
presents no full front to them--a feature or side-face at the most.
Hints and glimpses, germs and crude essays at a system, is the utmost
they pretend to. They beat up a little game peradventure--and leave
it to knottier heads, more robust constitutions, to run it down.
The light that lights them is not steady and polar, but mutable and
shifting: waxing, and again waning. Their conversation is accordingly.
They will throw out a random word in or out of season, and be content
to let it pass for what it is worth. They cannot speak always as
if they were upon their oath--but must be understood, speaking
or writing, with some abatement. They seldom wait to mature a
proposition, but e'en bring it to market in the green ear. They
delight to impart their defective discoveries as they arise, without
waiting for their full developement. They are no systematizers, and
would but err more by attempting it. Their minds, as I said before,
are suggestive merely. The brain of a true Caledonian (if I am not
mistaken) is constituted upon quite a different plan. His Minerva is
born in panoply. You are never admitted to see his ideas in their
growth--if, indeed, they do grow, and are not rather put together upon
principles of clock-work. You never catch his mind in an undress. He
never hints or suggests any thing, but unlades his stock of ideas
in perfect order and completeness. He brings his total wealth into
company, and gravely unpacks it. His riches are always about him. He
never stoops to catch a glittering something in your presence, to
share it with you, before he quite knows whether it be true touch or
not. You cannot cry _halves_ to any thing that he finds. He does not
find, but bring. You never witness his first apprehension of a thing.
His understanding is always at its meridian--you never see the first
dawn, the early streaks.--He has no falterings of self-suspicion.
Surmises, guesses, misgivings, half-intuitions, semi-consciousnesses,
partial illuminations, dim instincts, embryo conceptions, have no
place in his brain, or vocabulary. The twilight of dubiety never falls
upon him. Is he orthodox--he has no doubts. Is he an infidel--he has
none either. Between the affirmative and the negative there is no
border-land with him. You cannot hover with him upon the confines of
truth, or wander in the maze of a probable argument. He always keeps
the path. You cannot make excursions with him--for he sets you right.
His taste never fluctuates. His morality never abates. He cannot
compromise, or understand middle actions. There can be but a right
and a wrong. His conversation is as a book. His affirmations have the
sanctity of an oath. You must speak upon the square with him. He stops
a metaphor like a suspected person in an enemy's country. "A healthy
book!"--said one of his countrymen to me, who had ventured to give
that appellation to John Buncle,--"did I catch rightly what you said?
I have heard of a man in health, and of a healthy state of body, but I
do not see how that epithet can be properly applied to a book." Above
all, you must beware of indirect expressions before a Caledonian.
Clap an extinguisher upon your irony, if you are unhappily blest
with a vein of it. Remember you are upon your oath. I have a print
of a graceful female after Leonardo da Vinci, which I was showing
off to Mr. ****. After he had examined it minutely, I ventured to
ask him how he liked MY BEAUTY (a foolish name it goes by among my
friends)--when he very gravely assured me, that "he had considerable
respect for my character and talents" (so he was pleased to say), "but
had not given himself much thought about the degree of my personal
pretensions." The misconception staggered me, but did not seem much
to disconcert him.--Persons of this nation are particularly fond
of affirming a truth--which nobody doubts. They do not so properly
affirm, as annunciate it. They do indeed appear to have such a love of
truth (as if, like virtue, it were valuable for itself) that all truth
becomes equally valuable, whether the proposition that contains it be
new or old, disputed, or such as is impossible to become a subject of
disputation. I was present not long since at a party of North Britons,
where a son of Burns was expected; and happened to drop a silly
expression (in my South British way), that I wished it were the father
instead of the son--when four of them started up at once to inform
me, that "that was impossible, because he was dead." An impracticable
wish, it seems, was more than they could conceive. Swift has hit off
this part of their character, namely their love of truth, in his
biting way, but with an illiberality that necessarily confines the
passage to the margin.[2] The tediousness of these people is certainly
provoking. I wonder if they ever tire one another!--In my early life
I had a passionate fondness for the poetry of Burns. I have sometimes
foolishly hoped to ingratiate myself with his countrymen by expressing
it. But I have always found that a true Scot resents your admiration
of his compatriot, even more than he would your contempt of him. The
latter he imputes to your "imperfect acquaintance with many of the
words which he uses;" and the same objection makes it a presumption
in you to suppose that you can admire him.--Thomson they seem to have
forgotten. Smollett they have neither forgotten nor forgiven for his
delineation of Rory and his companion, upon their first introduction
to our metropolis.--peak of Smollett as a great genius, and they will
retort upon you Hume's History compared with _his_ Continuation of it.
What if the historian had continued Humphrey Clinker?

I have, in the abstract, no disrespect for Jews. They are a piece of
stubborn antiquity, compared with which Stonehenge is in its nonage.
They date beyond the pyramids. But I should not care to be in habits
of familiar intercourse with any of that nation. I confess that I
have not the nerves to enter their synagogues. Old prejudices cling
about me. I cannot shake off the story of Hugh of Lincoln. Centuries
of injury, contempt, and hate, on the one side,--of cloaked revenge,
dissimulation, and hate, on the other, between our and their fathers,
must, and ought, to affect the blood of the children. I cannot believe
it can run clear and kindly yet; or that a few fine words, such as
candour, liberality, the light of a nineteenth century, can close up
the breaches of so deadly a disunion. A Hebrew is nowhere congenial
to me. He is least distasteful on 'Change--for the mercantile spirit
levels all distinctions, as all are beauties in the dark. I boldly
confess that I do not relish the approximation of Jew and Christian,
which has become so fashionable. The reciprocal endearments have, to
me, something hypocritical and unnatural in them. I do not like to see
the Church and Synagogue kissing and congeeing in awkward postures of
an affected civility. If _they_ are converted, why do they not come
over to us altogether? Why keep up a form of separation, when the
life of it is fled? If they can sit with us at table, why do they
keck at our cookery? I do not understand these half convertites. Jews
christianizing--Christians judaizing--puzzle me. I like fish or flesh.
A moderate Jew is a more confounding piece of anomaly than a wet
Quaker. The spirit of the synagogue is essentially _separative_. B----
would have been more in keeping if he had abided by the faith of his
forefathers. There is a fine scorn in his face, which nature meant to
be of ---- Christians. The Hebrew spirit is strong in him, in spite of
his proselytism. He cannot conquer the Shibboleth. How it breaks out,
when he sings, "The Children of Israel passed through the Red Sea!"
The auditors, for the moment, are as Egyptians to him, and he rides
over our necks in triumph. There is no mistaking him.--B---- has a
strong expression of sense in his countenance, and it is confirmed by
his singing. The foundation of his vocal excellence is sense. He sings
with understanding, as Kemble delivered dialogue. He would sing the
Commandments, and give an appropriate character to each prohibition.
His nation, in general, have not ever-sensible countenances. How
should they?--but you seldom see a silly expression among them.
Gain, and the pursuit of gain, sharpen a man's visage. I never heard
of an idiot being born among them.--Some admire the Jewish female
physiognomy. I admire it--but with trembling. Jael had those full dark
inscrutable eyes.

In the Negro countenance you will often meet with strong traits of
benignity. I have felt yearnings of tenderness towards some of these
faces--or rather masks--that have looked out kindly upon one in casual
encounters in the streets and highways. I love what Fuller beautifully
calls--these "images of God cut in ebony." But I should not like
to associate with them, to share my meals and my good-nights with
them--because they are black.

I love Quaker ways, and Quaker worship. I venerate the Quaker
principles. It does me good for the rest of the day when I meet any
of their people in my path. When I am ruffled or disturbed by any
occurrence, the sight, or quiet voice of a Quaker, acts upon me as a
ventilator, lightening the air, and taking off a load from the bosom.
But I cannot like the Quakers (as Desdemona would say) "to live with
them." I am all over sophisticated--with humours, fancies, craving
hourly sympathy. I must have books, pictures, theatres, chit-chat,
scandal, jokes, ambiguities, and a thousand whim-whams, which their
simpler taste can do without. I should starve at their primitive
banquet. My appetites are too high for the salads which (according to
Evelyn) Eve dressed for the angel, my gusto too excited

To sit a guest with Daniel at his pulse.

The indirect answers which Quakers are often found to return to a
question put to them may be explained, I think, without the vulgar
assumption, that they are more given to evasion and equivocating than
other people. They naturally look to their words more carefully, and
are more cautious of committing themselves. They have a peculiar
character to keep up on this head. They stand in a manner upon their
veracity. A Quaker is by law exempted from taking an oath. The custom
of resorting to an oath in extreme cases, sanctified as it is by all
religious antiquity, is apt (it must be confessed) to introduce into
the laxer sort of minds the notion of two kinds of truth--the one
applicable to the solemn affairs of justice, and the other to the
common proceedings of daily intercourse. As truth bound upon the
conscience by an oath can be but truth, so in the common affirmations
of the shop and the market-place a latitude is expected, and conceded
upon questions wanting this solemn covenant. Something less than truth
satisfies. It is common to hear a person say, "You do not expect me to
speak as if I were upon my oath." Hence a great deal of incorrectness
and inadvertency, short of falsehood, creeps into ordinary
conversation; and a kind of secondary or laic-truth is tolerated,
where clergy-truth--oath-truth, by the nature of the circumstances,
is not required. A Quaker knows none of this distinction. His simple
affirmation being received, upon the most sacred occasions, without
any further test, stamps a value upon the words which he is to use
upon the most indifferent topics of life. He looks to them, naturally,
with more severity. You can have of him no more than his word. He
knows, if he is caught tripping in a casual expression, he forfeits,
for himself, at least, his claim to the invidious exemption. He knows
that his syllables are weighed--and how far a consciousness of this
particular watchfulness, exerted against a person, has a tendency to
produce indirect answers, and a diverting of the question by honest
means, might be illustrated, and the practice justified, by a more
sacred example than is proper to be adduced upon this occasion. The
admirable presence of mind, which is notorious in Quakers upon all
contingencies, might be traced to this imposed self-watchfulness--if
it did not seem rather an humble and secular scion of that old stock
of religious constancy, which never bent or faltered, in the Primitive
Friends, or gave way to the winds of persecution, to the violence of
judge or accuser, under trials and racking examinations. "You will
never be the wiser, if I sit here answering your questions till
midnight," said one of those upright Justicers to Penn, who had been
putting law-cases with a puzzling subtlety. "Thereafter as the answers
may be," retorted the Quaker. The astonishing composure of this people
is sometimes ludicrously displayed in lighter instances.--I was
travelling in a stagecoach with three male Quakers, buttoned up in the
straitest non-conformity of their sect. We stopped to bait at Andover,
where a meal, partly tea apparatus, partly supper, was set before
us. My friends confined themselves to the tea-table. I in my way
took supper. When the landlady brought in the bill, the eldest of my
companions discovered that she had charged for both meals. This was
resisted. Mine hostess was very clamorous and positive. Some mild
arguments were used on the part of the Quakers, for which the heated
mind of the good lady seemed by no means a fit recipient. The guard
came in with his usual peremptory notice. The Quakers pulled out
their money, and formally tendered it.--so much for tea--I, in humble
imitation, tendering mine--for the supper which I had taken. She
would not relax in her demand. So they all three quietly put up their
silver, as did myself, and marched out of the room, the eldest and
gravest going first, with myself closing up the rear, who thought
I could not do better than follow the example of such grave and
warrantable personages. We got in. The steps went up. The coach drove
off. The murmurs of mine hostess, not very indistinctly or ambiguously
pronounced, became after a time inaudible--and now my conscience,
which the whimsical scene had for a while suspended, beginning to give
some twitches, I waited, in the hope that some justification would be
offered by these serious persons for the seeming injustice of their
conduct. To my great surprise, not a syllable was dropped on the
subject. They sate as mute as at a meeting. At length the eldest of
them broke silence, by inquiring of his next neighbour, "Hast thee
heard how indigos go at the India House?" and the question operated as
a soporific on my moral feeling as far as Exeter.

[Footnote 1: I would be understood as confining myself to the subject
of _imperfect sympathies_. To nations or classes of men there can be
no direct _antipathy_. There may be individuals born and constellated
so opposite to another individual nature, that the same sphere cannot
hold them. I have met with my moral antipodes, and can believe the
story of two persons meeting (who never saw one another before in
their lives) and instantly fighting.

--We by proof find there should be
Twixt man and man such an antipathy,
That though he can show no just reason why
For any former wrong or injury,
Can neither find a blemish in his fame,
Nor aught in face or feature justly blame,
Can challenge or accuse him of no evil,
Yet notwithstanding hates him as a devil.

The lines are from old Heywood's "Hierarchie of Angels," and he
subjoins a curious story in confirmation, of a Spaniard who attempted
to assassinate a King Ferdinand of Spain, and being put to the rack
could give no other reason for the deed but an inveterate antipathy
which he had taken to the first sight of the King.

--The cause which to that act compell'd him
Was, he ne'er loved him since he first beheld him.]

[Footnote 2: There are some people who think they sufficiently acquit
themselves, and entertain their company, with relating facts of no
consequence, not at all out of the road of such common incidents as
happen every day; and this I have observed more frequently among the
Scots than any other nation, who are very careful not to omit the
minutest circumstances of time or place; which kind of discourse, if
it were not a little relieved by the uncouth terms and phrases, as
well as accent and gesture peculiar to that country, would be hardly
tolerable.--_Hints towards an Essay on Conversation_.]


We are too hasty when we set down our ancestors in the gross for
fools, for the monstrous inconsistencies (as they seem to us) involved
in their creed of witchcraft. In the relations of this visible
world we find them to have been as rational, and shrewd to detect an
historic anomaly, as ourselves. But when once the invisible world
was supposed to be opened, and the lawless agency of bad spirits
assumed, what measures of probability, of decency, of fitness, or
proportion--of that which distinguishes the likely from the palpable
absurd--could they have to guide them in the rejection or admission
of any particular testimony?--That maidens pined away, wasting
inwardly as their waxen images consumed before a fire--that corn was
lodged, and cattle lamed--that whirlwinds uptore in diabolic revelry
the oaks of the forest--or that spits and kettles only danced a
fearful-innocent vagary about some rustic's kitchen when no wind
was stirring--were all equally probable where no law of agency was
understood. That the prince of the powers of darkness, passing by the
flower and pomp of the earth, should lay preposterous siege to the
weak fantasy of indigent eld--has neither likelihood nor unlikelihood
_a priori_ to us, who have no measure to guess at his policy, or
standard to estimate what rate those anile souls may fetch in the
devil's market. Nor, when the wicked are expressly symbolized by
a goat, was it to be wondered at so much, that _he_ should come
sometimes in that body, and assert his metaphor.--That the intercourse
was opened at all between both worlds was perhaps the mistake--but
that once assumed, I see no reason for disbelieving one attested story
of this nature more than another on the score of absurdity. There
is no law to judge of the lawless, or canon by which a dream may be

I have sometimes thought that I could not have existed in the days of
received witchcraft; that I could not have slept in a village where
one of those reputed hags dwelt. Our ancestors were bolder or more
obtuse. Amidst the universal belief that these wretches were in
league with the author of all evil, holding hell tributary to their
muttering, no simple Justice of the Peace seems to have scrupled
issuing, or silly Headborough serving, a warrant upon them--as if they
should subpoena Satan!--Prospero in his boat, with his books and wand
about him, suffers himself to be conveyed away at the mercy of his
enemies to an unknown island. He might have raised a storm or two, we
think, on the passage. His acquiescence is in exact analogy to the
non-resistance of witches to the constituted powers.--What stops the
Fiend in Spenser from tearing Guyon to pieces--or who had made it a
condition of his prey, that Guyon must take assay of the glorious
bait--we have no guess. We do not know the laws of that country.

From my childhood I was extremely inquisitive about witches and
witch-stories. My maid, and more legendary aunt, supplied me with good
store. But I shall mention the accident which directed my curiosity
originally into this channel. In my father's book-closet, the History
of the Bible, by Stackhouse, occupied a distinguished station. The
pictures with which it abounds--one of the ark, in particular,
and another of Solomon's temple, delineated with all the fidelity
of ocular admeasurement, as if the artist had been upon the
spot--attracted my childish attention. There was a picture, too, of
the Witch raising up Samuel, which I wish that I had never seen. We
shall come to that hereafter. Stackhouse is in two huge tomes--and
there was a pleasure in removing folios of that magnitude, which, with
infinite straining, was as much as I could manage, from the situation
which they occupied upon an upper shelf. I have not met with the work
from that time to this, but I remember it consisted of Old Testament
stories, orderly set down, with the _objection_ appended to each
story, and the _solution_ of the objection regularly tacked to that.
The _objection_ was a summary of whatever difficulties had been
opposed to the credibility of the history, by the shrewdness of
ancient or modern infidelity, drawn up with an almost complimentary
excess of candour. The _solution_ was brief, modest, and satisfactory.
The bane and antidote were, both before you. To doubts so put, and so
quashed, there seemed to be an end for ever. The dragon lay dead, for
the foot of the veriest babe to trample on. But--like as was rather
feared than realised from that slain monster in Spenser--from the womb
of those crushed errors young dragonets would creep, exceeding the
prowess of so tender a Saint George as myself to vanquish. The habit
of expecting objections to every passage, set me upon starting more
objections, for the glory of finding a solution of my own for them. I
became staggered and perplexed, a sceptic in long coats. The pretty
Bible stories which I had read, or heard read in church, lost their
purity and sincerity of impression, and were turned into so many
historic or chronologic theses to be defended against whatever
impugners. I was not to disbelieve them, but--the next thing to
that--I was to be quite sure that some one or other would or had
disbelieved them. Next to making a child an infidel, is the letting
him know that there are infidels at all. Credulity is the man's
weakness, but the child's strength. O, how ugly sound scriptural
doubts from the mouth of a babe and a suckling!--I should have lost
myself in these mazes, and have pined away, I think, with such unfit
sustenance as these husks afforded, but for a fortunate piece of
ill-fortune, which about this time befel me. Turning over the picture
of the ark with too much haste, I unhappily made a breach in its
ingenious fabric--driving my inconsiderate fingers right through the
two larger quadrupeds--the elephant, and the camel--that stare (as
well they might) out of the two last windows next the steerage in
that unique piece of naval architecture. Stackhouse was henceforth
locked up, and became an interdicted treasure. With the book, the
_objections_ and _solutions_ gradually cleared out of my head, and
have seldom returned since in any force to trouble me.--But there was
one impression which I had imbibed from Stackhouse, which no lock or
bar could shut out, and which was destined to try my childish nerves
rather more seriously.--That detestable picture!

I was dreadfully alive to nervous terrors. The night-time solitude,
and the dark, were my hell. The sufferings I endured in this nature
would justify the expression. I never laid my head on my pillow, I
suppose, from the fourth to the seventh or eighth year of my life--so
far as memory serves in things so long ago--without an assurance,
which realized its own prophecy, of seeing some frightful spectre. Be
old Stackhouse then acquitted in part, if I say, that to his picture
of the Witch raising up Samuel--(O that old man covered with a
mantle!) I owe--not my midnight terrors, the hell of my infancy--but
the shape and manner of their visitation. It was he who dressed up for
me a hag that nightly sate upon my pillow--a sure bed-fellow, when
my aunt or my maid was far from me. All day long, while the book was
permitted me, I dreamed waking over his delineation, and at night
(if I may use so bold an expression) awoke into sleep, and found
the vision true. I durst not, even in the day-light, once enter the
chamber where I slept, without my face turned to the window, aversely
from the bed where my witch-ridden pillow was.--Parents do not know
what they do when they leave tender babes alone to go to sleep in the
dark. The feeling about for a friendly arm--the hoping for a familiar
voice--when they wake screaming--and find none to soothe them--what a
terrible shaking it is to their poor nerves! The keeping them up till
midnight, through candle-light and the unwholesome hours, as they are
called,--would, I am satisfied, in a medical point of view, prove the
better caution.--That detestable picture, as I have said, gave the
fashion to my dreams--if dreams they were--for the scene of them was
invariably the room in which I lay. Had I never met with the picture,
the fears would have come self-pictured in some shape or other--

Headless bear, black man, or ape--

but, as it was, my imaginations took that form.--It is not book,
or picture, or the stories of foolish servants, which create these
terrors in children. They can at most but give them a direction. Dear
little T.H. who of all children has been brought up with the most
scrupulous exclusion of every taint of superstition--who was never
allowed to hear of goblin or apparition, or scarcely to be told of bad
men, or to read or hear of any distressing story--finds all this world
of fear, from which he has been so rigidly excluded _ab extra_, in his
own "thick-coming fancies;" and from his little midnight pillow, this
nurse-child of optimism will start at shapes, unborrowed of tradition,
in sweats to which the reveries of the cell-damned murderer are

Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimaeras--dire stories of Celaeno and the
Harpies--may reproduce themselves in the brain of superstition--but
they were there before. They are transcripts, types--the archetypes
are in us, and eternal. How else should the recital of that, which we
know in a waking sense to be false, come to affect us at all?--or

--Names, whose sense we see not,
Fray us with things that be not?

Is it that we naturally conceive terror from such objects, considered
in their capacity of being able to inflict upon us bodily injury?--O,
least of all! These terrors are of older standing. They date beyond
body--or, without the body, they would have been the same. All the
cruel, tormenting, defined devils in Dante--tearing, mangling,
choking, stifling, scorching demons--are they one half so fearful
to the spirit of a man, as the simple idea of a spirit unembodied
following him--

Like one that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turn'd round, walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.[1]

That the kind of fear here treated of is purely spiritual--that it
is strong in proportion as it is objectless upon earth--that it
predominates in the period of sinless infancy--are difficulties,
the solution of which might afford some probable insight into our
antemundane condition, and a peep at least into the shadow-land of

My night-fancies have long ceased to be afflictive. I confess an
occasional night-mare; but I do not, as in early youth, keep a stud of
them. Fiendish faces, with the extinguished taper, will come and look
at me; but I know them for mockeries, even while I cannot elude their
presence, and I fight and grapple with them. For the credit of my
imagination, I am almost ashamed to say how tame and prosaic my dreams
are grown. They are never romantic, seldom even rural. They are of
architecture and of buildings--cities abroad, which I have never seen,
and hardly have hope to see. I have traversed, for the seeming length
of a natural day, Rome, Amsterdam, Paris, Lisbon--their churches,
palaces, squares, market-places, shops, suburbs, ruins, with an
inexpressible sense of delight--a map-like distinctness of trace--and
a day-light vividness of vision, that was all but being awake.--I have
formerly travelled among the Westmoreland fells--my highest Alps,--but
they are objects too mighty for the grasp of my dreaming recognition;
and I have again and again awoke with ineffectual struggles of the
inner eye, to make out a shape in any way whatever, of Helvellyn.
Methought I was in that country, but the mountains were gone. The
poverty of my dreams mortifies me. There is Coleridge, at his will
can conjure up icy domes, and pleasure-houses for Kubla Khan, and
Abyssinian maids, and songs of Abara, and caverns,

Where Alph, the sacred river, runs,

to solace his night solitudes--when I cannot muster a fiddle. Barry
Cornwall has his tritons and his nereids gamboling before him in
nocturnal visions, and proclaiming sons born to Neptune--when my
stretch of imaginative activity can hardly, in the night season,
raise up the ghost of a fish-wife. To set my failures in somewhat a
mortifying light--it was after reading the noble Dream of this poet,
that my fancy ran strong upon these marine spectra; and the poor
plastic power, such as it is, within me set to work, to humour my
folly in a sort of dream that very night. Methought I was upon the
ocean billows at some sea nuptials, riding and mounted high, with the
customary train sounding their conchs before me, (I myself, you may be
sure, the _leading god_,) and jollily we went careering over the main,
till just where Ino Leucothea should have greeted me (I think it was
Ino) with a white embrace, the billows gradually subsiding, fell from
a sea-roughness to a sea-calm, and thence to a river-motion, and that
river (as happens in the familiarization of dreams) was no other than
the gentle Thames, which landed me, in the wafture of a placid wave
or two, alone, safe and inglorious, somewhere at the foot of Lambeth

The degree of the soul's creativeness in sleep might furnish no
whimsical criterion of the quantum of poetical faculty resident in the
same soul waking. An old gentleman, a friend of mine, and a humorist,
used to carry this notion so far, that when he saw any stripling of
his acquaintance ambitious of becoming a poet, his first question
would be,--"Young man, what sort of dreams have you?" I have so much
faith in my old friend's theory, that when I feel that idle vein
returning upon me, I presently subside into my proper element of
prose, remembering those eluding nereids, and that inauspicious
inland landing.

[Footnote 1: Mr. Coleridge's Ancient Mariner.]


I am arrived at that point of life, at which a man may account it a
blessing, as it is a singularity, if he have either of his parents
surviving. I have not that felicity--and sometimes think feelingly of
a passage in Browne's Christian Morals, where he speaks of a man that
hath lived sixty or seventy years in the world. "In such a compass of
time," he says, "a man may have a close apprehension what it is to
be forgotten, when he hath lived to find none who could remember his
father, or scarcely the friends of his youth, and may sensibly see
with what a face in no long time OBLIVION will look upon himself."

I had an aunt, a dear and good one. She was one whom single
blessedness had soured to the world. She often used to say, that I
was the only thing in it which she loved; and, when she thought I was
quitting it, she grieved over me with mother's tears. A partiality
quite so exclusive my reason cannot altogether approve. She was from
morning till night poring over good books, and devotional exercises.
Her favourite volumes were Thomas a Kempis, in Stanhope's Translation;
and a Roman Catholic Prayer Book, with the _matins_ and _complines_
regularly set down,--terms which I was at that time too young to
understand. She persisted in reading them, although admonished daily
concerning their Papistical tendency; and went to church every
Sabbath, as a good Protestant should do. These were the only books
she studied; though, I think, at one period of her life, she told me,
she had read with great satisfaction the Adventures of an Unfortunate
Young Nobleman. Finding the door of the chapel in Essex-street open
one day--it was in the infancy of that heresy--she went in, liked the
sermon, and the manner of worship, and frequented it at intervals
for some time after. She came not for doctrinal points, and never
missed them. With some little asperities in her constitution, which
I have above hinted at, she was a steadfast, friendly being, and a
fine _old Christian_. She was a woman of strong sense, and a shrewd
mind--extraordinary at a _repartee;_ one of the few occasions of her
breaking silence--else she did not much value wit. The only secular
employment I remember to have seen her engaged in, was, the splitting
of French beans, and dropping them into a China basin of fair water.
The odour of those tender vegetables to this day comes back upon my
sense, redolent of soothing recollections. Certainly it is the most
delicate of culinary operations.

Male aunts, as somebody calls them, I had none--to remember. By the
uncle's side I may be said to have been born an orphan. Brother, or
sister, I never had any--to know them. A sister, I think, that should
have been Elizabeth, died in both our infancies. What a comfort,
or what a care, may I not have missed in her!--But I have cousins,
sprinkled about in Hertfordshire--besides _two_, with whom I have been
all my life in habits of the closest intimacy, and whom I may term
cousins _par excellence_. These are James and Bridget Elia. They are
older than myself by twelve, and ten, years; and neither of them seems
disposed, in matters of advice and guidance, to waive any of the
prerogatives which primogeniture confers. May they continue still in
the same mind; and when they shall be seventy-five, and seventy-three,
years old (I cannot spare them sooner), persist in treating me in my
grand climacteric precisely as a stripling, or younger brother!

James is an inexplicable cousin. Nature hath her unities, which not
every critic can penetrate; or, if we feel, we cannot explain them.
The pen of Yorick, and of none since his, could have drawn J.E.
entire--those fine Shandian lights and shades, which make up his
story. I must limp after in my poor antithetical manner, as the fates
have given me grace and talent. J.E. then--to the eye of a common
observer at least--seemeth made up of contradictory principles.--The
genuine child of impulse, the frigid philosopher of prudence--the
phlegm of my cousin's doctrine is invariably at war with his
temperament, which is high sanguine. With always some fire-new project
in his brain, J.E. is the systematic opponent of innovation, and crier
down of every thing that has not stood the test of age and experiment.
With a hundred fine notions chasing one another hourly in his fancy,
he is startled at the least approach to the romantic in others; and,
determined by his own sense in every thing, commends _you_ to the
guidance of common sense on all occasions.--With a touch of the
eccentric in all which he does, or says, he is only anxious that _you_
should not commit yourself by doing any thing absurd or singular.
On my once letting slip at table, that I was not fond of a certain
popular dish, he begged me at any rate not to _say_ so--for the world
would think me mad. He disguises a passionate fondness for works of
high art (whereof he hath amassed a choice collection), under the
pretext of buying only to sell again--that his enthusiasm may give no
encouragement to yours. Yet, if it were so, why does that piece of
tender, pastoral Dominichino hang still by his wall?--is the ball of
his sight much more dear to him?--or what picture-dealer can talk like

Whereas mankind in general are observed to warp their speculative
conclusions to the bent of their individual humours, _his_ theories
are sure to be in diametrical opposition to his constitution. He is
courageous as Charles of Sweden, upon instinct; chary of his person,
upon principle, as a travelling Quaker.--He has been preaching up to
me, all my life, the doctrine of bowing to the great--the necessity
of forms, and manner, to a man's getting on in the world. He himself
never aims at either, that I can discover,--and has a spirit, that
would stand upright in the presence of the Cham of Tartary. It is
pleasant to hear him discourse of patience--extolling it as the truest
wisdom--and to see him during the last seven minutes that his dinner
is getting ready. Nature never ran up in her haste a more restless
piece of workmanship than when she moulded this impetuous cousin--and
Art never turned out a more elaborate orator than he can display
himself to be, upon his favourite topic of the advantages of quiet,
and contentedness in the state, whatever it may be, that we are
placed in. He is triumphant on this theme, when he has you safe in
one of those short stages that ply for the western road, in a very
obstructing manner, at the foot of John Murray's street--where you get
in when it is empty, and are expected to wait till the vehicle hath
completed her just freight--a trying three quarters of an hour to some
people. He wonders at your fidgetiness,--"where could we be better
than we are, _thus silting, thus consulting_?"--"prefers, for his
part, a state of rest to locomotion,"--with an eye all the while upon
the coachman--till at length, waxing out of all patience, at _your
want of it_, he breaks out into a pathetic remonstrance at the fellow
for detaining us so long over the time which he had professed, and
declares peremptorily, that "the gentleman in the coach is determined
to get out, if he does not drive on that instant."

Very quick at inventing an argument, or detecting a sophistry, he is
incapable of attending _you_ in any chain of arguing. Indeed he makes
wild work with logic; and seems to jump at most admirable conclusions
by some process, not at all akin to it. Consonantly enough to this,
he hath been heard to deny, upon certain occasions, that there exists
such a faculty at all in man as _reason_; and wondereth how man came
first to have a conceit of it--enforcing his negation with all the
might of _reasoning_ he is master of. He has some speculative notions
against laughter, and will maintain that laughing is not natural
to _him_--when peradventure the next moment his lungs shall crow
like Chanticleer. He says some of the best things in the world--and
declareth that wit is his aversion. It was he who said, upon seeing
the Eton boys at play in their grounds--_What a pity to think, that
these fine ingenuous lads in a few years will all be changed into
frivolous Members of Parliament!_

His youth was fiery, glowing, tempestuous--and in age he discovereth
no symptom of cooling. This is that which I admire in him. I hate
people who meet Time half-way. I am for no compromise with that
inevitable spoiler. While he lives, J.E. will take his swing.--It does
me good, as I walk towards the street of my daily avocation, on some
fine May morning, to meet him marching in a quite opposite direction,
with a jolly handsome presence, and shining sanguine face, that
indicates some purchase in his eye--a Claude--or a Hobbima--for much
of his enviable leisure is consumed at Christie's, and Phillips's--or
where not, to pick up pictures, and such gauds. On these occasions
he mostly stoppeth me, to read a short lecture on the advantage a
person like me possesses above himself, in having his time occupied
with business which he _must do_--assureth me that he often feels
it hang heavy on his hands--wishes he had fewer holidays--and goes
off--Westward Ho!--chanting a tune, to Pall Mall--perfectly convinced
that he has convinced me--while I proceed in my opposite direction

It is pleasant again to see this Professor of Indifference doing the
honours of his new purchase, when he has fairly housed it. You must
view it in every light, till _he_ has found the best--placing it at
this distance, and at that, but always suiting the focus of your sight
to his own. You must spy at it through your fingers, to catch the
aerial perspective--though you assure him that to you the landscape
shows much more agreeable without that artifice. Wo be to the luckless
wight, who does not only not respond to his rapture, but who should
drop an unseasonable intimation of preferring one of his anterior
bargains to the present!--The last is always his best hit--his
"Cynthia of the minute."--Alas! how many a mild Madonna have I
known to _come in_--a Raphael!--keep its ascendancy for a few brief
moons--then, after certain intermedial degradations, from the front
drawing-room to the back gallery, thence to the dark parlour,--adopted
in turn by each of the Carracci, under successive lowering ascriptions
of filiation, mildly breaking its fall--consigned to the oblivious
lumber-room, _go out_ at last a Lucca Giordano, or plain Carlo
Maratti!--which things when I beheld--musing upon the chances and
mutabilities of fate below, hath made me to reflect upon the altered
condition of great personages, or that woful Queen of Richard the

--set forth in pomp,
She came adorned hither like sweet May.
Sent back like Hollowmass or shortest day.

With great love for _you_, J.E. hath but a limited sympathy with what
you feel or do. He lives in a world of his own, and makes slender
guesses at what passes in your mind. He never pierces the marrow of
your habits. He will tell an old established play-goer, that Mr.
Such-a-one, of So-and-so (naming one of the theatres), is a very
lively comedian--as a piece of news! He advertised me but the other
day of some pleasant green lanes which he had found out for me,
_knowing me to be a great walker_, in my own immediate vicinity--who
have haunted the identical spot any time these twenty years! He has
not much respect for that class of feelings which goes by the name
of sentimental. He applies the definition of real evil to bodily
sufferings exclusively--and rejecteth all others as imaginary. He
is affected by the sight, or the bare supposition, of a creature in
pain, to a degree which I have never witnessed out of womankind. A
constitutional acuteness to this class of sufferings may in part
account for this. The animal tribe in particular he taketh under his
especial protection. A broken-winded or spur-galled horse is sure to
find an advocate in him. An over-loaded ass is his client for ever. He
is the apostle to the brute kind--the never-failing friend of those
who have none to care for them. The contemplation of a lobster boiled,
or eels skinned _alive_, will wring him so, that "all for pity he
could die." It will take the savour from his palate, and the rest from
his pillow, for days and nights. With the intense feeling of Thomas
Clarkson, he wanted only the steadiness of pursuit, and unity of
purpose, of that "true yolk-fellow with Time," to have effected as
much for the _Animal_, as _he_ hath done for the _Negro Creation_. But
my uncontrollable cousin is but imperfectly formed for purposes which
demand co-operation. He cannot wait. His amelioration-plans must be
ripened in a day. For this reason he has cut but an equivocal figure
in benevolent societies, and combinations for the alleviation of human
sufferings. His zeal constantly makes him to outrun, and put out, his
coadjutors. He thinks of relieving,--while they think of debating.
He was black-balled out of a society for the Relief of **********,
because the fervor of his humanity toiled beyond the formal
apprehension, and creeping processes, of his associates. I shall
always consider this distinction as a patent of nobility in the Elia
family! Do I mention these seeming inconsistencies to smile at, or
upbraid, my unique cousin? Marry, heaven, and all good manners, and
the understanding that should be between kinsfolk, forbid!--With all
the strangenesses of this _strangest of the Elias_--I would not have
him in one jot or tittle other than he is; neither would I barter or
exchange my wild kinsman for the most exact, regular, and everyway
consistent kinsman breathing.

In my next, reader, I may perhaps give you some account of my cousin
Bridget--if you are not already surfeited with cousins--and take you
by the hand, if you are willing to go with us, on an excursion which
we made a summer or two since, in search of _more cousins_--

Through the green plains of pleasant Hertfordshire.


Bridget Elia has been my housekeeper for many a long year. I have
obligations to Bridget, extending beyond the period of memory. We
house together, old bachelor and maid, in a sort of double singleness;
with such tolerable comfort, upon the whole, that I, for one, find in
myself no sort of disposition to go out upon the mountains, with the
rash king's offspring, to bewail my celibacy. We agree pretty well
in our tastes and habits--yet so, as "with a difference." We are
generally in harmony, with occasional bickerings--as it should be
among near relations. Our sympathies are rather understood, than
expressed; and once, upon my dissembling a tone in my voice more kind
than ordinary, my cousin burst into tears, and complained that I was
altered. We are both great readers in different directions. While I am
hanging over (for the thousandth time) some passage in old Burton, or
one of his strange contemporaries, she is abstracted in some modern
tale, or adventure, whereof our common reading-table is daily fed with
assiduously fresh supplies. Narrative teazes me. I have little concern
in the progress of events. She must have a story--well, ill, or
indifferently told--so there be life stirring in it, and plenty of
good or evil accidents. The fluctuations of fortune in fiction--and
almost in real life--have ceased to interest, or operate but dully
upon me. Out-of-the-way humours and opinions--heads with some
diverting twist in them--the oddities of authorship please me most. My
cousin has a native disrelish of any thing that sounds odd or bizarre.
Nothing goes down with her, that is quaint, irregular, or out of the
road of common sympathy. She "holds Nature more clever." I can pardon
her blindness to the beautiful obliquities of the Religio Medici; but
she must apologise to me for certain disrespectful insinuations, which
she has been pleased to throw out latterly, touching the intellectuals
of a dear favourite of mine, of the last century but one--the thrice
noble, chaste, and virtuous,--but again somewhat fantastical, and
original-brain'd, generous Margaret Newcastle.

It has been the lot of my cousin, oftener perhaps than I
could have wished, to have had for her associates and mine,
free-thinkers--leaders, and disciples, of novel philosophies and
systems; but she neither wrangles with, nor accepts, their opinions.
That which was good and venerable to her, when a child, retains its
authority over her mind still. She never juggles or plays tricks with
her understanding.

We are both of us inclined to be a little too positive; and I have
observed the result of our disputes to be almost uniformly this--that
in matters of fact, dates, and circumstances, it turns out, that I was
in the right, and my cousin in the wrong. But where we have differed
upon moral points; upon something proper to be done, or let alone;
whatever heat of opposition, or steadiness of conviction, I set out
with, I am sure always, in the long run, to be brought over to her way
of thinking.

I must touch upon the foibles of my kinswoman with a gentle hand,
for Bridget does not like to be told of her faults. She hath an
awkward trick (to say no worse of it) of reading in company: at which
times she will answer _yes_ or _no_ to a question, without fully
understanding its purport--which is provoking, and derogatory in the
highest degree to the dignity of the putter of the said question. Her
presence of mind is equal to the most pressing trials of life, but
will sometimes desert her upon trifling occasions. When the purpose
requires it, and is a thing of moment, she can speak to it greatly;
but in matters which are not stuff of the conscience, she hath been
known sometimes to let slip a word less seasonably.

Her education in youth was not much attended to; and she happily
missed all that train of female garniture, which passeth by the name
of accomplishments. She was tumbled early, by accident or design, into
a spacious closet of good old English reading, without much selection
or prohibition, and browsed at will upon that fair and wholesome
pasturage. Had I twenty girls, they should be brought up exactly in
this fashion. I know not whether their chance in wedlock might not be
diminished by it; but I can answer for it, that it makes (if the worst
come to the worst) most incomparable old maids.

In a season of distress, she is the truest comforter; but in the
teazing accidents, and minor perplexities, which do not call out the
_will_ to meet them, she sometimes maketh matters worse by an excess
of participation. If she does not always divide your trouble, upon
the pleasanter occasions of life she is sure always to treble your
satisfaction. She is excellent to be at a play with, or upon a visit;
but best, when she goes a journey with you.

We made an excursion together a few summers since, into Hertfordshire,
to beat up the quarters of some of our less-known relations in that
fine corn country.

The oldest thing I remember is Mackery End; or Mackarel End, as it
is spelt, perhaps more properly, in some old maps of Hertfordshire;
a farm-house,--delightfully situated within a gentle walk from
Wheathampstead. I can just remember having been there, on a visit to a
great-aunt, when I was a child, under the care of Bridget; who, as I
have said, is older than myself by some ten years. I wish that I could
throw into a heap the remainder of our joint existences, that we might
share them in equal division. But that is impossible. The house was at
that time in the occupation of a substantial yeoman, who had married
my grandmother's sister. His name was Gladman. My grandmother was a
Bruton, married to a Field. The Gladmans and the Brutons are still
flourishing in that part of the county, but the Fields are almost
extinct. More than forty years had elapsed since the visit I speak of;
and, for the greater portion of that period, we had lost sight of the
other two branches also. Who or what sort of persons inherited Mackery
End--kindred or strange folk--we were afraid almost to conjecture, but
determined some day to explore.

By somewhat a circuitous route, taking the noble park at Luton in
our way from Saint Alban's, we arrived at the spot of our anxious
curiosity about noon. The sight of the old farm-house, though every
trace of it was effaced from my recollection, affected me with a
pleasure which I had not experienced for many a year. For though _I_
had forgotten it, _we_ had never forgotten being there together, and
we had been talking about Mackery End all our lives, till memory on my
part became mocked with a phantom of itself, and I thought I knew the
aspect of a place, which, when present, O how unlike it was to _that_,
which I had conjured up so many times instead of it!

Still the air breathed balmily about it; the season was in the "heart
of June," and I could say with the poet,

But them, that didst appear so fair
To fond imagination,
Dost rival in the light of day
Her delicate creation!

Bridget's was more a waking bliss than mine, for she easily remembered
her old acquaintance again--some altered features, of course, a little
grudged at. At first, indeed, she was ready to disbelieve for joy;
but the scene soon re-confirmed itself in her affections--and she
traversed every out-post of the old mansion, to the wood-house, the
orchard, the place where the pigeon-house had stood (house and birds
were alike flown)--with a breathless impatience of recognition, which
was more pardonable perhaps than decorous at the age of fifty odd. But
Bridget in some things is behind her years.

The only thing left was to get into the house--and that was a
difficulty which to me singly would have been insurmountable; for I
am terribly shy in making myself known to strangers and out-of-date
kinsfolk. Love, stronger than scruple, winged my cousin in without
me; but she soon returned with a creature that might have sat to
a sculptor for the image of Welcome. It was the youngest of the
Gladmans; who, by marriage with a Bruton, had become mistress of the
old mansion. A comely brood are the Brutons. Six of them, females,
were noted as the handsomest young women in the county. But this
adopted Bruton, in my mind, was better than they all--more comely. She
was born too late to have remembered me. She just recollected in early
life to have had her cousin Bridget once pointed out to her, climbing
a style. But the name of kindred, and of cousinship, was enough. Those
slender ties, that prove slight as gossamer in the rending atmosphere
of a metropolis, bind faster, as we found it, in hearty, homely,
loving Hertfordshire. In five minutes we were as thoroughly acquainted
as if we had been born and bred up together; were familiar, even to
the calling each other by our Christian names. So Christians should
call one another. To have seen Bridget, and her--it was like the
meeting of the two scriptural cousins! There was a grace and dignity,
an amplitude of form and stature, answering to her mind, in this
farmer's wife, which would have shined in a palace--or so we thought
it. We were made welcome by husband and wife equally--we, and our
friend that was with us--I had almost forgotten him--but B.F. will not
so soon forget that meeting, if peradventure he shall read this on the
far distant shores where the Kangaroo haunts. The fatted calf was made
ready, or rather was already so, as if in anticipation of our coming;
and, after an appropriate glass of native wine, never let me forget
with what honest pride this hospitable cousin made us proceed to
Wheathampstead, to introduce us (as some new-found rarity) to her
mother and sister Gladmans, who did indeed know something more of
us, at a time when she almost knew nothing.--With what corresponding
kindness we were received by them also--how Bridget's memory, exalted
by the occasion, warmed into a thousand half-obliterated recollections
of things and persons, to my utter astonishment, and her own--and to
the astoundment of B.F. who sat by, almost the only thing that was not
a cousin there,--old effaced images of more than half-forgotten names
and circumstances still crowding back upon her, as words written in
lemon come out upon exposure to a friendly warmth,--when I forget
all this, then may my country cousins forget me; and Bridget no more
remember, that in the days of weakling infancy I was her tender
charge--as I have been her care in foolish manhood since--in those
pretty pastoral walks, long ago, about Mackery End, in Hertfordshire.


In comparing modern with ancient manners, we are pleased to compliment
ourselves upon the point of gallantry; a certain obsequiousness, or
deferential respect, which we are supposed to pay to females, as

I shall believe that this principle actuates our conduct, when I can
forget, that in the nineteenth century of the era from which we date
our civility, we are but just beginning to leave off the very frequent
practice of whipping females in public, in common with the coarsest
male offenders.

I shall believe it to be influential, when I can shut my eyes to the
fact, that in England women are still occasionally--hanged.

I shall believe in it, when actresses are no longer subject to be
hissed off a stage by gentlemen.

I shall believe in it, when Dorimant hands a fish-wife across the
kennel; or assists the apple-woman to pick up her wandering fruit,
which some unlucky dray has just dissipated.

I shall believe in it, when the Dorimants in humbler life, who would
be thought in their way notable adepts in this refinement, shall act
upon it in places where they are not known, or think themselves not
observed--when I shall see the traveller for some rich tradesman part
with his admired box-coat, to spread it over the defenceless shoulders
of the poor woman, who is passing to her parish on the roof of the
same stage-coach with him, drenched in the rain--when I shall no
longer see a woman standing up in the pit of a London theatre, till
she is sick and faint with the exertion, with men about her, seated
at their ease, and jeering at her distress; till one, that seems to
have more manners or conscience than the rest, significantly declares
"she should be welcome to his seat, if she were a little younger and
handsomer." Place this dapper warehouseman, or that rider, in a circle
of their own female acquaintance, and you shall confess you have not
seen a politer-bred man in Lothbury.

Lastly, I shall begin to believe that there is some such principle
influencing our conduct, when more than one-half of the drudgery and
coarse servitude of the world shall cease to be performed by women.

Until that day comes, I shall never believe this boasted point to be
any thing more than a conventional fiction; a pageant got up between
the sexes, in a certain rank, and at a certain time of life, in which
both find their account equally.

I shall be even disposed to rank it among the salutary fictions of
life, when in polite circles I shall see the same attentions paid
to age as to youth, to homely features as to handsome, to coarse
complexions as to clear--to the woman, as she is a woman, not as she
is a beauty, a fortune, or a title.

I shall believe it to be something more than a name, when a
well-dressed gentleman in a well-dressed company can advert to the
topic of _female old age_ without exciting, and intending to excite,
a sneer:--when the phrases "antiquated virginity," and such a one
has "overstoocl her market," pronounced in good company, shall raise
immediate offence in man, or woman, that shall hear them spoken.

Joseph Paice, of Bread-street-hill, merchant, and one of the Directors
of the South-Sea company--the same to whom Edwards, the Shakspeare
commentator, has addressed a fine sonnet--was the only pattern of
consistent gallantry I have met with. He took me under his shelter at
an early age, and bestowed some pains upon me. I owe to his precepts
and example whatever there is of the man of business (and that is not
much) in my composition. It was not his fault that I did not profit
more. Though bred a Presbyterian, and brought up a merchant, he was
the finest gentleman of his time. He had not _one_ system of attention
to females in the drawing-room, and _another_ in the shop, or at the
stall. I do not mean that he made no distinction. But he never lost
sight of sex, or overlooked it in the casualties of a disadvantageous
situation. I have seen him stand bare-headed--smile if you please--to
a poor servant girl, while she has been inquiring of him the way to
some street--in such a posture of unforced civility, as neither to
embarrass her in the acceptance, nor himself in the offer, of it. He
was no dangler, in the common acceptation of the word, after women:
but he reverenced and upheld, in every form in which it came before
him, _womanhood_. I have seen him--nay, smile not--tenderly escorting
a marketwoman, whom he had encountered in a shower, exalting his
umbrella over her poor basket of fruit, that it might receive no
damage, with as much carefulness as if she had been a Countess. To the
reverend form of Female Eld he would yield the wall (though it were to
an ancient beggar-woman) with more ceremony than we can afford to show
our grandams. He was the Preux Chevalier of Age; the Sir Calidore,
or Sir Tristan, to those who have no Calidores or Tristans to defend
them. The roses, that had long faded thence, still bloomed for him in
those withered and yellow cheeks.

He was never married, but in his youth he paid his addresses to the
beautiful Susan Winstanley--old Winstanley's daughter of Clapton--who
dying in the early days of their courtship, confirmed in him the
resolution of perpetual bachelorship. It was during their short
courtship, he told me, that he had been one day treating his mistress
with a profusion of civil speeches--the common gallantries--to which
kind of thing she had hitherto manifested no repugnance--but in
this instance with no effect. He could not obtain from her a decent
acknowledgment in return. She rather seemed to resent his compliments.
He could not set it down to caprice, for the lady had always shown
herself above that littleness. When he ventured on the following day,
finding her a little better humoured, to expostulate with her on her
coldness of yesterday, she confessed, with her usual frankness, that
she had no sort of dislike to his attentions; that she could even
endure some high-flown compliments; that a young woman placed in her
situation had a right to expect all sort of civil things said to
her; that she hoped she could digest a dose of adulation, short of
insincerity, with as little injury to her humility as most young
women: but that--a little before he had commenced his compliments--she
had overheard him by accident, in rather rough language, rating
a young woman, who had not brought home his cravats quite to the
appointed time, and she thought to herself, "As I am Miss Susan
Winstanley, and a young lady--a reputed beauty, and known to be a
fortune,--I can have my choice of the finest speeches from the mouth
of this very fine gentleman who is courting me--but if I had been poor
Mary Such-a-one (_naming the milliner_),--and had failed of bringing
home the cravats to the appointed hour--though perhaps I had sat up
half the night to forward them--what sort of compliments should I have
received then?--And my woman's pride came to my assistance; and I
thought, that if it were only to do _me_ honour, a female, like
myself, might have received handsomer usage: and I was determined
not to accept any fine speeches, to the compromise of that sex, the
belonging to which was after all my strongest claim and title to

I think the lady discovered both generosity, and a just way of
thinking, in this rebuke which she gave her lover; and I have
sometimes imagined, that the uncommon strain of courtesy, which
through life regulated the actions and behaviour of my friend towards
all of womankind indiscriminately, owed its happy origin to this
seasonable lesson from the lips of his lamented mistress.

I wish the whole female world would entertain the same notion of these
things that Miss Winstanley showed. Then we should see something
of the spirit of consistent gallantry; and no longer witness the
anomaly of the same man--a pattern of true politeness to a wife--of
cold contempt, or rudeness, to a sister--the idolater of his female
mistress--the disparager and despiser of his no less female aunt, or
unfortunate--still female--maiden cousin. Just so much respect as a
woman derogates from her own sex, in whatever condition placed--her
handmaid, or dependent--she deserves to have diminished from herself
on that score; and probably will feel the diminution, when youth, and
beauty, and advantages, not inseparable from sex, shall lose of their
attraction. What a woman should demand of a man in courtship, or after
it, is first--respect for her as she is a woman;--and next to that--to
be respected by him above all other women. But let her stand upon
her female character as upon a foundation; and let the attentions,
incident to individual preference, be so many pretty additaments and
ornaments--as many, and as fanciful, as you please--to that main
structure. Let her first lesson be--with sweet Susan Winstanley--to
_reverence her sex_.


I was born, and passed the first seven years of my life, in the
Temple. Its church, its halls, its gardens, its fountain, its river,
I had almost said--for in those young years, what was this king of
rivers to me but a stream that watered our pleasant places?--these are
of my oldest recollections. I repeat, to this day, no verses to myself
more frequently, or with kindlier emotion, than those of Spenser,
where he speaks of this spot.

There when they came, whereas those bricky towers,
The which on Themmes brode aged back doth ride,
Where now the studious lawyers have their bowers,
There whylome wont the Templer knights to bide;
Till they decayd through pride.

Indeed, it is the most elegant spot in the metropolis. What a
transition for a countryman visiting London for the first time--the
passing from the crowded Strand or Fleet-street, by unexpected
avenues, into its magnificent ample squares, its classic green
recesses! What a cheerful, liberal look hath that portion of it,
which, from three sides, overlooks the greater garden: that goodly

Of building strong, albeit of Paper hight,

confronting, with massy contrast, the lighter, older, more
fantastically shrouded one, named of Harcourt, with the cheerful
Crown-office Row (place of my kindly engendure), right opposite the
stately stream, which washes the garden-foot with her yet scarcely
trade-polluted waters, and seems but just weaned from her Twickenham
Naiades! a man would give something to have been born in such places.
What a collegiate aspect has that fine Elizabethan hall, where the
fountain plays, which I have made to rise and fall, how many times!
to the astoundment of the young urchins, my contemporaries, who,
not being able to guess at its recondite machinery, were almost
tempted to hail the wondrous work as magic! What an antique air had
the now almost effaced sundials, with their moral inscriptions,
seeming coevals with that Time which they measured, and to take
their revelations of its flight immediately from heaven, holding
correspondence with the fountain of light! How would the dark line
steal imperceptibly on, watched by the eye of childhood, eager to
detect its movement, never catched, nice as an evanescent cloud, or
the first arrests of sleep!

Ah! yet doth beauty like a dial-hand
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived!

What a dead thing is a clock, with its ponderous embowelments of lead
and brass, its pert or solemn dulness of communication, compared with
the simple altar-like structure, and silent heart-language of the
old dial! It stood as the garden god of Christian gardens. Why is it
almost every where vanished? If its business-use be superseded by more
elaborate inventions, its moral uses, its beauty, might have pleaded
for its continuance. It spoke of moderate labours, of pleasures not
protracted after sun-set, of temperance, and good-hours. It was the
primitive clock, the horologe of the first world. Adam could scarce
have missed it in Paradise. It was the measure appropriate for sweet
plants and flowers to spring by, for the birds to apportion their


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