By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Confessions of an Etonian
Author: I. E. M.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Confessions of an Etonian" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org/index.php)

Note: Images of the original pages are available through
      Internet Archive. See

      | Transcriber's note:                                          |
      |                                                              |
      | Inconsistent hyphenation and unusual spelling in the         |
      | original document have been preserved.                       |
      |                                                              |
      | A number of obvious typographical errors have been corrected |
      | in this text. For a complete list, please see the end of     |
      | this document.                                               |
      |                                                              |



I. E. M.

Saunders and Otley, Conduit Street.

"To preserve the past is half of immortality."



The author is anxious to request any person who may meet with this
trifling volume to bear in mind that it contains the memoir of an
unworthy member of the place to which it alludes--that many years have
now elapsed since he quitted the spot where its regulations with
regard to education have been as much altered as improved. For Eton!
"my heart is thine though my shadow falls on a distant land." But
should these pages influence the judgment of any mistaken but
well-meaning parent, as to his son's future destination, the writer
will hope that he has not exposed himself in vain.




"Here's Harry crying!" And on the instant, my brother awoke the elder
ones to witness and enjoy the astounding truth.

"What makes you think that?" I replied, in as resolute a tone as a
throat choking with anguish would admit of.

"Why, you're crying now," added another brother; "I see the tears
shining in the moonlight."

"Only a little," I at length admitted; and, satisfied with the
concession, my numerous brethren composed themselves once more to
sleep in the corners of the carriage, on their way to Eton, leaving my
eldest brother's pointer and myself at the bottom, to our own
reflections As for old Carlo, his still and regular breathing evinced
that his mind was as easy and comfortable as his body, sagaciously
satisfying himself with the evil of the day as it passed over him.
Here Carlo had the advantage of me,--I anticipated the morrow. Strange
and boisterous school-boys, tight-pantalooned ushers, with menacing
canes, were, to my yet unsophisticated mind, anything but agreeable
subjects for a reverie, and I felt proportionately doleful; I turned
my thoughts on the past, and I was very miserable.

I now learnt that I had been happy, and, for the first time,
appreciated that happiness. The hours of this long, weary day had
appeared to be as many months; and when I ruminated on former scenes,
and their dear little events, I sighed in bitterness, "What a time ago
all this seems!" And as I peered up at the moon from my abyss through
the window, my eyes unconsciously swam with tears, when I reflected
that, if at home, I should at this moment be taking tea with my dear
nurse, Lucy, and my sister's governess, just before I went to bed.

I had now bid an eternal farewell to, doubtless, by far the
dearest,--happiest period of our existence, the dawn of life's
day--that enviable time when "we have no lessons;" when the colt
presses, with his unshod foot, the fresh and verdant meadow, while he
wonders at the team toiling under a noontide sun, over the parched
and arid fallow in the distance.

This, then, was my first lesson of experience; and on reflection,
perhaps many of us will agree that, after all the vaunted troubles and
anxieties incident to manhood, few surpass in intensity and
hopelessness the sad separation from home for a detested school; it is
real and wringing anguish, though, fortunately, like flayed eels, we
eventually become inured to it.

I now went through, for three years at a private school, the usual
routine of punishment and bullying preparatory for Eton; and as these
were of the ordinary kind, I will at once omit this epoch of my life,
and commence with my _debût_ at that great capital of England's

It may not be out of place to give here a slight and rapid sketch of
the scene to which these immediate pages are confined, as well as of
other matters connected with it.

Every one knows where Windsor is, and that Eton was separated from it
by the Thames, until united by Windsor Bridge. But, with regard to the
latter town, there may be some confusion, for it is divided into Eton,
and Eton proper. This last will hereafter be distinguished as
"College," and is situated about half a mile from the bridge, to which
it is connected by the town.

"College," I think, may be said to comprehend "the school-yard," the
suburbs, and "the playing fields."

"The school-yard" is a spacious and respectable quadrangle; the upper
school, the church, the cloisters, and long chamber, each respectively
forming a side of it. In the centre is placed the statue of the
founder, Henry VI.

"The upper school" is placed over an arched cloister, and an
ominous-looking region, in which, I suspect, is the magazine of birch.
The school is nothing more than an extensive room, with its floor
lined with fixed forms, and the wainscot with sculptured names
innumerable. One is guilty of a sad omission should he quit Eton
without giving a crown to Cartland to perpetuate his name on the
immortal oak. Perhaps the loss of few olden records would be more
deplored than its destruction, for here are registered many of Eton's
worthiest sons; C.I. FOX, as in after life, is here pre-eminent.
Adjoining the upper end is another room, called "the library," in
which there is not a book, but there is "the block," which speaks
volumes; and as a library may, by a little forcing, be defined to be a
chamber set apart for the acquirement of learning, this room is not,
perhaps, misnamed.

This block is a very simple machine--merely a couple of steps. The
victim places his knees on the lower, and his elbows on the upper
step; but if the reader will thus place himself in his imagination,
he will enter more immediately into the spirit of the thing.

In front of him he sees a couple of little collegers, to hold aside
the skirts of his coat. On his left is Keate, like Jupiter about to
hurl his thunderbolt; on his right "the birch cupboard;" and though he
can see nothing, he has little doubt of what is in his rear, the
instant he is operated on. "Neither intemperance nor old age hae, in
gout or rheumatic, an agony to compare wi' a weel-laid-on whack of the
tawse, on a part that for manners shall be nameless."

The church, though not very remarkable for its dimensions, may be
styled a handsome and venerable Gothic edifice; simple and regular,
with its sides supported by deep and lofty buttresses, the recesses of
which form the boys' "fives-walls."

The cloisters form another small quadrangle. Over them are built the
comfortable dwellings of the "College fellows," and "the College
library," which is somewhat more appropriately furnished than that
just described.

The Fellows have each been boys on the foundation, having been
elected, according to seniority, to King's College, Cambridge, from
whence they have been re-elected Fellows of Eton.

"Long chamber" is long enough to contain nearly the whole of the
collegers, or boys on the foundation, whose complement I conjecture to
be about seventy. This is a region of which I can give but an
uncertain description, for few "Oppidans" cared to venture in. When I
did, it was to be tossed in a blanket, so that, though elevated, my
survey was hasty and superficial; but I suspect that the entire
furniture to which a colleger lays claim, is his bed and bureau,
tables and chairs being here as much out of keeping (if they could be
kept at all) as at Stonehenge. _En passant_--this tossing was a
pastime replete with the sublime and awful. That their efforts might
be simultaneous, those who held the blanket, and they were legion,
made use of the following neat hexameter:

    "Ibis ab excusso, missus ab astra, sago."

And you go with a vengeance. "You shall fly from the quivering
blanket, despatched to the stars." The suspense was fearful while
awaiting the utterance of the ultimate syllable--how perfectly and
permanently have I acquired this pithy verse!

The floor is polished once a year on Election Friday, by "rug-riding."
This is accomplished by rolling a fellow up in a counterpane, here
properly called a rug. To either end of him is attached a rope, to
which five or six boys are harnessed. The floor is now well smeared
with tallow-grease, over which the warm mummy, rendered still hotter
by friction, is now drawn with delightful velocity. The polish thus
obtained is admirable, and but the slightest flavour of grease lingers
until the ensuing election.

The suburbs form a small town, composed of a few large and
indispensable shops, together with the houses of the masters and
dames, at whose houses the boys, not on the foundation, and who are
denominated "oppidans," board and lodge.

"The playing-fields" are very extensive, and subdivided into the
playing-fields, "upper-shooting-fields," and "lower-shooting-fields."
The two latter are separated from the former by "poet's-walk," a
lovely little peninsula, with an avenue of lime-trees running through
its entire length.

The shooting-fields are appropriated solely to cricket, and in winter
are "out of bounds." The playing-fields are open for foot-ball in the
winter, and for fighting all the year round. The whole is most
beautifully situated on the banks of the Thames, with the Little Park
and Windsor Castle on the opposite side. In addition, it is lined and
studded with the stateliest and most gigantic elms in England.

These three divisions, the school-yard, suburbs, and playing-fields,
form in theory "the bounds," which in practice are boundless, an
Etonian's movements being curbed by time, rather than by space.

Eton, at its foundation, was a charity-school for seventy boys. In
time, it received other pupils. The original ones are collegers, who
are distinguished by a coarse black gown; the latter are oppidans,
literally meaning "town-boys." The former may not wear white trowsers,
and all are debarred boots, and black or coloured neckcloths.

Collegers are dieted solely on mutton; hence they are familiarly and
vulgarly termed "mutton-tugs," abbreviated to "tugs," which homely
monosyllable they themselves derive from _togati_, on account of their
wearing the _toga_--had they not better trace their origin at once
from that mysterious and secret society of the Thugs of India? But
their internal economy should be treated with diffidence, for between
them and the oppidans there was ever an undefined, though "great gulf
fixed." Owing to this, there is a difficulty in deciding how much, if
any, of the following incident may be authentic. As asserted above,
they were confined to mutton, the whole mutton, and nothing but the
mutton, until the humane, but late Mr. Godolphin bequeathed a sum of
money, to be appropriated in supplying them with potatoes, which
henceforth accompanied the mutton, though in a state of nature; and
as this was not contrary to the statute, and as in all charities as
little is done for the money as is possible, the poor boys and their
potatoes were without remedy, until one of the College Fellows kindly
bequeathed an annuity towards extricating them from their dilemma. He
has ever since been appropriately immortalized as "Pealipo Roberts."

Each boy has a tutor, who is one of the masters, of whom there are
about thirteen. Their chief occupation is in correcting, and
explaining the errors of their pupils' exercises. At the period now
spoken of, the school consisted of six hundred and twenty boys,
probably the greatest number it had hitherto attained. Each master's
house is generally filled with boarders.

The "dames" are boarding-houses, mostly kept by clergymen's widows, or
widows of some sort; there are also about thirteen of these.

Assistant masters are professors of French, mathematics, writing, and
dancing; but they are altogether independent of the college, and are
taken or not at the will of the parents.

There is another class of assistant masters, and these are the Cads.
They are the professors of shooting, rowing, and cricket, and have
many pupils. The most leading characters among them were Jack Hall,
Lary Miller, Pickey Powell, and Jemmy Flowers; but with regard to the
latter there existed a slight odium, owing to his religious tenets--he
was suspected of Mahometanism. Lary Miller ever asserted his
conviction, that "Jemmy was a Maho-maiden, having surprised him one
evening in the Brocas, lying on his stomach, worshipping a very large
mushroom." Making due allowance for Lary's notorious veracity, and for
Jemmy Flowers' religious inebriety, still the circumstance of a
mushroom, and that a large one, flourishing on the Brocas, must ever
throw a strong air of improbability over this assertion.

There is a holiday on every red-lettered saint's-day in the calendar;
when this, or no other excuse occurs, it is termed "a regular week,"
when Tuesday is a whole holiday, Thursday half an one, and Saturday

The longest period of time a boy uninterruptedly enjoys to himself may
be said to comprise two hours, commencing each time at twelve, four,
and six o'clock, on whole and half holidays; and these periods are
designated by the never-to-be-forgotten sounds of "after twelve,"
"after four," and "after six."

"Whole school days" affect this arrangement but little, the difference
being, that on holidays, they are separated from each other, by
attendance on absence, and church; and on whole school-days, by
school-times, of which there are four, commencing each at eight,
eleven, three, and five o'clock.

The boys learn all their lessons, and do their exercises, in their own
rooms, going into school to say or construe them. One school-time
occupies about three-quarters of an hour.

The whole school is divided into six forms, of which the sixth ranks
the highest. This, and the fifth form, comprise about half the number
of boys, for whom the lower half fag. An upper boy may fag a lower one
to Windsor, or anywhere else.

Though the river be out of bounds, half of the boys dedicate
themselves to boating during the summer. The extent and main object of
their expedition is "Surly Hall," a notorious public-house, three
miles up the river from Windsor Bridge. Surly Hall may be said to be
appropriated to the Etonians, and here they rest themselves. I never
recollect one boy guilty of intoxication at this place.

There are two grand aquatic processions every year up to this Surly
Hall--on the 4th of June, George the Third's birth-day; and on
Election Saturday, towards the end of July. They are beautiful
gala-days, when eight or ten long-boats are rowed by their crews in
costume, accompanied by a couple of military bands; swarms of nobility
and gentry come from London to enjoy them, some person of peculiar
rank being "the sitter" in the leading boat; but boating is not

"Montem," so called, perhaps, from the ceremony of a boy flourishing a
flag on a small mount, occurs every third year, when the upper boys
are dressed as officers, and the fags, resembling sailors, in white
trowsers and blue jackets. Thus they are obliged to expose themselves
to a multitude, while they walk to Salt Hill, where they dine. As an
Eton boy, I have witnessed four Montems, and could never think of each
but as a ridiculous, tedious, and detestable performance; the only
good resulting is, that the captain of the collegers receives several
hundreds of pounds, which are collected from the crowd by other
collegers in fancy dresses, and denominated "salt-bearers," and
"runners," who dun high and low for "salt."


"How old are you, Graham?" asked my future tutor.

"Nine, if you please, sir."

"Can you do sense-verses?"

"No, sir, only nonsense ones."

"Well, you are placed in the upper Greek; be in eight-o'clock-school
to-morrow. Graham," calling me back, "take this order to the
book-seller, and he will give you the requisite school-books. It is
Greek grammar in the morning; get a boy to show you where the lesson
is. You may go."

So soon as I had procured the books, I peeped into the Greek grammar,
which struck me as being an interesting-looking book, for hitherto, I
had never even seen a Greek letter. I went to my Dames, where I found
Tyrrel _ma_, and Kennedy, who shared my room, playing at battledore.

"You don't care for the row, Graham, do you?" asked Tyrrel, after they
had played half an hour, and observing that I looked a little

"Oh, that makes no difference," I sighed, "but this Greek is such odd
stuff, and I don't know a letter in the alphabet except the four first
ones. Can you give us a help?"

After a lengthened debate among us, the only apparent chance for me
was, that the lesson should be written out in English letters, so that
when I repeated it, I should appear to know my lesson. This, Tyrrel
good-naturedly effected for me.

At eight o'clock, then, the next morning, in due routine, I approached
the master in his desk, under the same superstitious awe as poor
Friday, when he cowered before the august Crusoe. I would not have
failed in my performance for worlds, and now entered the desk resolved
on acquitting myself to perfection.

My ardour was not slightly damped when, on uttering a few words, the
master, with a frown, demanded why I had not commenced where the
previous boy had left off.

"I thought, sir, that I was to begin at the beginning."

"What business have you to think?"

Commencing, then, as he directed me, I had no sooner recited four
lines, than he ordered me to "go."

"That's not all, if you please, sir."

"It's quite enough for me; go."

So I went, under the painful suspicion that I had failed, and was to
be punished accordingly. I was not yet aware that the succeeding boy
went on with the lesson where his predecessor had left off; and when
he had said his three or four lines, he likewise was dismissed, and so
on--it being taken for granted, that the boy knew the remainder of the
task; but this extreme innocence of mine, when I informed the master
that I had not accomplished the whole lesson, is not a little amusing,
when compared to my future career, was it not for the remorse a man of
crime might feel when he reverts his thoughts to a time ere he had
transgressed. At that time I should have acted similarly under every
circumstance; I intended well.

"Now let us go to breakfast," said Kennedy, as I returned to the room.

"Will you fellows get it ready, and make the tea," asked Tyrrel,
"while I go and lay breakfast for my master?" Kennedy and myself were
as yet exempt from that duty for a fortnight, which is the privilege
granted to each new comer.

"What a lucky fellow I am," said Tyrrel, on his return, "to have you
two in my mess, with your new set of tea-things, and a double set,
too! If we manage well, they'll last us easily to the holidays. Till
you came, I was obliged to slip into other fellows' rooms, and sharp
a cup of tea. Now, let us regularly lock up everything in my
cupboard, for it's quite empty; how comfortable we shall be; and your
pictures, Kennedy, make the room look so nice!"

"And what beautiful frames they have!" I observed.

"The frames and glasses," replied Kennedy, "were a present for those
views about home, which a sister sketched for me."

"What shall we do after twelve?" asked Tyrrel.

"Can't we go out in a boat?"

It was soon arranged that Kennedy and Tyrrel should play at cricket,
and that I should stay in to work at my Greek, of which another lesson
occurred at five-o'clock-school. At two o'clock, the trio met at
dinner; after which we proceeded to our room, where, soon as we
entered, Kennedy beheld each of his drawings rifled of their glasses,
which lay shivered to pieces beneath them on the floor.

Gregory _mi_ had, in an unlucky moment, lounged into the room with a
little cross-bow, and had practised his skill on each in succession.

"Never mind, Kennedy," said Tyrrel, "they must have been broken one
time or another."

I now proceeded unwarily enough to the cloisters, where I thought I
might puzzle out my hieroglyphical task more in quiet.

"I say, my little man, you must come and bowl to me."

"I've got my lesson to learn," I replied.

"When do you say it?" inquired the fifth-form boy; and finding that it
was not required till five o'clock, and discrediting my singular
difficulty, which I stated to him, he at once took me away,
notwithstanding that, as a saving clause, I asserted the privilege due
to a boy's first fortnight, but which, I was now told, should not
avail me for having told such a falsehood about the lesson. In the
following schooltime I was, of course, "put in the bill," but was not
flogged, in consequence of pleading my "first fault," another and too
fleeting privilege of a new boy.

On returning to my room in the evening, I found my two friends looking
unutterable things, while around them lay, "like leaves in wint'ry
weather," the fragments of our prided crockery ware!

In our absence, a boy, well knowing what he was about, had come to the
cupboard to sharp some tea-things, but finding, to his disappointment,
that it was locked, he was yet determined that we should not escape
him. The whole was unfortunately suspended, by a bit of rope, to a
large nail in the wall; this, then, he had maliciously cut, and the
result had proved fatal to the whole "double set of tea-things," with
the exception of a pewter salt-cellar. "Well, they must have been
broken, one time or another," archly remarked Kennedy.

A very few days had elapsed before I had become a genuine Etonian,
which a boy is never accounted until he has been once flogged.
Notwithstanding my respect of that honourable title, I was still very
unwilling to purchase it so dearly. I had an inclination for forming my
own opinion upon matters, somewhat independently of others; and though,
in the lower part of the school, to be put in the bill, and suffer
accordingly, carried with it anything but a reflection towards the
subject of it, still, for reasons of my own, I concluded that it would
be far more respectable to act otherwise. This, then, with me, was not
merely an opinion--it became a principle, and one which, unfortunately,
I was most anxious to preserve inviolate--unfortunately, because it
must inevitably be outraged. Even under the most favourable
circumstances, owing to my ignorance of its rudiments, I was sensible
that I must frequently fail in my Greek tasks; what chance, then, had
I, constantly thwarted in my endeavours to avoid this, by hourly and
capricious fagging?

This, then, weighed upon my mind in no slight degree, for though
exposed, from an early period, "to rough it" more than was common, the
sensitiveness of a boy's disposition will be anything but deadened in
consequence, so long as he thinks for himself, and forms his own line
of right and wrong, though perhaps it schools him precociously to
conceal what his associates may deem to be his weaknesses, though
probably his better traits of character, should he be blessed with
such. This tendency was not likely to be diminished by the following

From the moment I first left my home, which was at an early period,
the little religious instruction I might have received from my nurse
was abandoned, and never even reflected on for a moment, till within a
short time of my departure for Eton, when, by some chance train of
thought, I became sensible that I knew not a single prayer--at least
perfectly. I was well aware that other boys did, though many neglected
them. To supply this my deficiency, I henceforth never failed to offer
up, each morning and evening, extemporary ones, and which, though
puerilely adapted to little impressions or wants, yet flowed the more
truly from the heart, and cherished an affectionate, and therefore,
truly religious feeling, towards my Almighty Father.

One morning I was awakened by the clock striking the hour in which I
should have been in school, when, instantly dressing myself, I harried
away, and on returning to my room, was kneeling at a chair, when I
was interrupted by the dreaded vociferation of "lower boy!"

Though knowing the consequences, should I be discovered, I never for a
moment wavered as to the course I should adopt, but continued
deliberately at my accustomed devotions. As I was thus occupied, the
fifth-form boy entered my room to learn my reason for neglecting his
summons, and was for a moment startled when he discovered in what
manner I was employed; but, without further hesitation or compunction,
taking me by the collar, he inflicted a blow as a punishment for my
presumption. This was a little too much, so instantly springing at
him, and taking him unawares, for a moment I actually beat my tyrant
off, when Kennedy accidentally presenting himself at the door, at once
ranged himself by my side. This made the pitiful fellow pause, and
finding that, though so immeasurably his juniors, we were resolute, he
prudently informed us, that so soon as we had procured the captain's
permission to fight with him, he would comply; this formality existing
on a feud arising between an upper and lower boy. On inquiring into
the case, the captain refused his consent, but added a severe threat
towards my aggressor.

Insignificant as they appear, these incidents had lasting effects on
me. With regard to the first, I at once resigned myself in despair to
the bitterness of a disappointed, and almost a broken spirit; and, so
far as all scholastic duties were concerned, I henceforth adopted a
reckless, heedless course, except that I pursued it doggedly and

As to my religious duties, I was considerably embarrassed, and that,
because I bestowed some attention upon them; had I not, I should have
been as easy in this respect as most other boys. However, after no
little examination into the subject, and, by-the-bye, confusion, I
came to the resolution of guiding myself as well as I could by what
little knowledge I might possess; and unspiritual as this reliance on
my own efforts evidently was, I, in unison with it, farther resolved,
that should I omit what I knew to be right, I would refrain, at all
events, from that which I judged to be wrong--and I do not see what I
could have done more.

To assist, or prevent me in my resolution, things were nearly
balanced. No boy had been more completely exposed to the chance of
circumstance, and, in consequence, to the unbiassed sway of my natural
disposition, which was restless in the extreme. For this there is no
alternative--for good or bad, work it will, and in such a case
idleness is indeed the root of all evil.

To save me from, or rather to diminish this danger, I was _at that
time_ imbued, in no trifling degree, with benevolence and candour;
and I was free, also, of two qualities which I have since acquired,
for they are appendages as common to our natures as are our limbs to
our bodies. I was devoid of selfishness and prejudice; and as society
is constituted, one commences life with a bad start, destitute of such


Of the seven days in the week, probably more flogging occurs on Friday
than during all the others put together. On the unfortunate, the
shuffling, and the dense, the effect of this day's ordeal has ever
proved to be most searching. On Thursday, then, towards the conclusion
of eleven o'clock school, the boys were not a little delighted, when
Keate, closing the book, informed them that an hour since he had been
honoured with a request from his Majesty that the morrow might be
converted into a whole holiday, and that they should be indulged
accordingly. It need hardly be stated with what yells of ecstasy this
announcement was received, as we rushed from our seats, lightened of
the sombre dread of "Friday's business."

In the evening, I was summoned to the tea-table of Gregory, my
puissant master, to account, if I could, for my presumptuous absence
at a time when every fag's presence was so imperatively required. On
my appearance, my fellow-fag was astonished at the air of confidence
with which I advanced towards the table, guilty of such a heinous
omission. My master, for some seconds, regarded me with a stern and
savage aspect.

"You little rascal," at length he exclaimed, his voice deepening under
the effects of rage soon to be amply gratified, "you've been toasting
these muffins with the snuffers!" At the same time he confidently
pointed out to me, with savage delight, the single and blackened mark
occasioned by such an unorthodox implement. This was not what I was
prepared for, and the circumstance was, alas, but too evident, and the
palms of my hands were immediately tingling under the strokes of my
master's hair-brush.

"And now," said he, pausing for a moment, "I am going to give you
another licking for not being here in time."

"No," I exclaimed, "you have excused me a fortnight's fagging; at
least, you said yesterday that you would, should I ask the King for a
holiday to-morrow."

This was the truth, and so, in an unguarded moment, he had expressed
himself; but being, at the least, as anxious for a holiday as he was,
and sighing for a fortnight's emancipation from slavery, I had
determined to take him at his word, and obey him to the letter. In a
spirit, then, of excessive innocence, or impudence--I think the
former, though I may have since exchanged it for the latter--I had
started off for the cottage in Windsor Park, where the King was then
residing, and had actually gained admittance without interruption from
any one, though I was now accosted by a gentleman who demanded the
purport of my visit. I replied that I had come up to ask the King to
get us a holiday for Friday. Upon this, he informed me that it was not
usual for strangers to see his Majesty while resident at the cottage,
and that I had better wait until his Majesty returned to the Castle;
and then he kindly walked back with me towards the garden, through
which I had previously passed, and there left me. Here I met
Jerningham walking with his mother, whom I acquainted with the object
of my interview with the Duke of Dorset, as he proved to be. This
happened to be a very fortunate rencontre for me, as Lady Jerningham
eventually turned out to be my "friend at court," and had seconded my
petition with success.

As the next day was a holiday entirely originating with myself, I
concluded that I had a right to make the most of it, and enjoy it in
my own way. Under this impression, Kennedy and I started at seven that
morning, towards Perch-hole, where Lary Miller was to meet us with a
punt and casting-net, and we were to fish our way down the river,
towards Datchet. While awaiting him at the water's edge, among other
inventions to amuse ourselves, Kennedy thoughtlessly snatching off my
hat, set it floating on the water; so taking him by the collar, ere I
had time to reflect, I swung him well into Perch-hole. The moment he
scrambled out, there seemed to be no doubt on either side as to what
was to be done. Indeed, it would be impossible to say which of us
struck the first blow, though the question with us now was, who was to
give the last. Perhaps any other boys, as soon as the first burst of
passion had exploded, would have deferred the contest to another
opportunity, when each might be attended by his second; but Kennedy
breathed nothing but immediate retaliation, and probably he might wish
to exercise himself after his immersion. I also preferred the present
time, as, on giving the subject a momentary consideration, during the
early period of the fight, it struck me as being most repugnant and
ungrateful to my feelings, to meet my greatest friend in cool blood,
to see which could batter the other the most, and that, too, only to
glut the sight of hundreds.

In general, each battle at Eton is conducted with all the etiquette
incidental to the prize-ring, under the latest regulations of the
Birmingham Youth, or White-headed Bob. Indeed, one would here conclude
that it was impossible to contend without a ring, seconds, and
time-keeper. Notwithstanding the deficiency of these desiderata, we
weaved merrily away for nearly an hour, during which period, perhaps
from being the lightest, I was prostrated three times, which therefore
divided the contest into but three stages or rounds, during which time
each rested on the grass, and conscientiously recommenced our
operations, the instant we imagined that the half-minute had expired.

The clock now struck a quarter-past nine, when we were reminded, that
should we fight on, each would be well flogged for disregard of
absence; and as our occupation was barely worth the penalty, we at
once put on our jackets, and departed in silence, to answer to our
names, while, as a matter of course, we were to finish the battle
after twelve, for my holiday afforded us ample time.

This morning, therefore, for the first time, we breakfasted in
different rooms. Each now commenced this repast with feelings far from
cheerful. The anger of the moment having passed away, there remained
no sense of enmity between us; and yet, in an hour or two, we were to
meet again, like a couple of dogs, and mangle each other as we best

Kennedy could not but feel that he was not only the strongest, but had
actually been more prevalent in the contest than myself; nor did he,
on this account, congratulate himself, when he reflected that the
appointed hour was fast approaching when he must do his best to thrash
me still more. The sole thought that weighed on my mind, was that of
having quarrelled with a fellow whom I liked far beyond myself. At
this moment the door opened, and Kennedy, placing his rolls and butter
on the table, stretched his hand across it towards me, and the next,
we were sipping our tea together out of the pewter salt-cellar, with
no farther traces of enmity, save the three unequivocal black eyes we
retained between us.

This subject reminds me of a very melancholy one which I witnessed
several years afterwards; and as I have heard it discussed so
frequently, and so erroneously, I cannot help wishing, if possible, to
give a concise and true statement of the case. In the instance alluded
to, the contest might be said to have terminated with no unusual
consequences, for the clock had struck the hour in which it was
imperative for every one of us to be in his dames for the night, and
the combatants were in the act of putting on their coats, and all
would have been well, had not a voice, which I distinctly recollect,
exclaimed, "One more round!" Whichever had now declined would have
been considered as vanquished: they closed, struggled for the fall,
and the fall was fatal. The sole cause of this miserable catastrophe
was that voice of a mere bystander, and of this he must be as sensible
as I am. I know not who he may be, nor do I envy him his secret.

It was now getting towards the latter end of July, and I had been an
Etonian nearly three months. During this time I had experienced a fair
average of fighting, bullying, fagging, and flogging, and had also
acquired some useful accomplishments. I could paddle my skiff up to
Surly Hall and back, swim across the river at Upper Hope, and had even
begun to get in debt, having some weeks ago "gone tick" with Joe Hyde
for a couple of bottles of ginger-beer, with the proviso of returning
them when empty, but which, it must be confessed, were still lying at
the bottom of Deadman's Hole, for the farther improvement of my

Having just been disappointed in my endeavours to procure a boat at
Hester's, I was returning towards my dames about the middle of
after-six, totally at a loss for amusement. Every other boy was now
eagerly employed on the river, or at cricket, and the whole college
was silent and deserted. As I strolled listlessly along, I observed a
funeral slowly issuing from the church-door on its way to the
burial-ground. Singular to say, this was the first instance of death's
doing on a fellow-being I had yet witnessed. On its approach, I seated
myself on the Long-walk wall, and watched the coffin and its
noiseless followers, as they glided slowly before me. So soon as all
had passed, I quietly slid down from my seat, and accompanied the
procession at a little distance.

While we are young, we are not only moved more easily, but doubt not
that every person else feels as sincerely. Under this impression, I
accompanied the corpse towards its grave, touched with a sort of pity
for the mourners, and sobered by a deep and respectful sympathy.

As I stood by the brink of the grave, I could not but feel a soothing
comfort and hope under our affliction, so beautifully held out to us
by the spirit of "the service of the dead;" and I even entertained an
affection for the clergyman who officiated. But when I witnessed the
lowering of the coffin to its future resting-place--heard the soft
crumbling of the churchyard soil, as it dropped from the grasp of the
sexton on the below-sounding coffin, down below--the anguished but
stifled moan of the childless father, who had apparently expended his
hard-got earnings for the interment of his child--I not only repassed
the gates considerably affected, but overpowered with an indescribable
dread of impending death. I was now possessed with a servile love of
God, arising from fear; an anxiety to please and obey him, to an
infinite degree. Alas! even at this early age, how worldly-minded,
how pitiful, can be our motives!

I now determined within myself, as resolutely as presumptuously, to
"go and sin no more;" and to that effect, that very evening, dived to
the bottom of Deadman's Hole, and returned to Joe Hyde his horribly
portentous bottles.


A few weeks previous to the holidays, "the old Queen" gave a
magnificent _fête_ at Frogmore, when, to form a prominent feature in
the day's amusements, her favourites, the Etonians, were invited to
play a cricket-match, for which a beautiful space of lawn had already
been most good-naturedly prepared.

I think the first approach to royalty must ever be most interesting to
boys, at least it was deeply so to me on this day; for when I observed
the wide-swelling lawns, the broad groves, and glassy lakes of this
little paradise; the Queen, with the princesses and royal suite, as
they glided over the turf in a train of pony-carriages, lined and
shining with the richest satins; the splendid and gaudy clusters of
marquees, glittering in all the pride of Tippoo's eastern
magnificence, from whom they had been rifled, with their bright
crescents blazing in the sunbeams--I found all the lovely and dearly
remembered fancies, conjured before my infant imagination by the
nursery tale, at once placed in delightful reality before me.

Towards the evening, I had rambled, considerably fatigued with the
restless pleasures of the day, into the most secluded parts of the
shrubberies, and was resting on a seat, listening to the notes of a
bugle band in the distance, when they were interrupted by the steps of
some one passing quickly along the gravel walk towards me, and the
next moment I saw a girl approaching the gate in front of me. I
instantly rose and opened it for her; but as she passed, the little
girl, after a slight hesitation, inquired with an expression of some
anxiety if I had seen her father, Sir George Curzon.

"I do not know your father by sight," I answered, "and fear you will
hardly meet with him here; for I have been more than half an hour on
this seat, and have seen no one at all."

"I declare," she sighed, "I do not know how I shall find him, and I am
quite tired, too! But will you, if you please, tell me the way towards
the palace--I should be much obliged to you?"

"As well as I can," I answered; "but would it not be better that I ran
and inquired for your father, and brought him here, for then, in the
meanwhile, as you are tired, you can rest yourself on this bench?"

"You are very good-natured," replied Miss Curzon, as she sat down;
"but if you will only wait until I have rested for a minute, perhaps
you will go with me towards the palace, for I don't like being here
quite alone."

I now perceived that the poor little girl had been crying.

"But why are you here by yourself?" she added, the next moment; "have
you lost your way too? But sit down, there is room for both." And she
looked up so kindly, while her beautiful little hand, contrasting with
the rough bench, pressed it to enforce her request.

How happy was I to obey her, and yet how painfully confused! In a
word, I was out of my element, this being my very first rencontre with
one of the softer sex; for which reason, though so many years have
since passed away, I cannot help reciting and recollecting it as an
occurrence of yesterday.

"Are you not an Eton boy?" demanded Miss Curzon.

"Yes; but I have been one only for a few months."

"Papa says that Frederic shall be sent to Eton, by and bye," she
replied, rather abstractedly.

"Perhaps, then," I answered, "I shall know him--at least, I hope I

"Oh, it will be a long while before he joins you, for he is quite
little yet; and then, you know, he must be your fag, instead of your

"I shall never fag a brother of yours," I answered.

"May I ask you some questions about this horrid fagging?" demanded
Miss Curzon, and turning towards me.

"Of course," said I; "as many as you please."

"Have you got what they call a master?"

"Certainly; every lower boy must have one."

"What do you do for him?"

"Lay his breakfast and tea-things every day, and make his toast."

"Anything else?"

"Whatever he chooses."

"And if you did not choose to do it?"

"I should get a good thrashing; or, in other words, Miss Curzon, get a
good licking."

After a brief silence, she resumed her questions.

"As you have been so short a time at Eton, I suppose you have not yet
been punished?"

"O yes, many times. I got a capital flogging yesterday."

"Will you tell me what you were flogged for?"

"For eating in church."

"And what could make you do that?"

"I had been fagging all the morning, Miss Curzon; and having no time
for breakfast, I went into church with my rolls in my pocket, and one
of the masters saw me eating them."

"You have quite frightened me for poor little Frederic!"

"Perhaps he will be more fortunate," I replied; "so I must even wish,
as you said just now, that he may indeed be my fag, for then he can
breakfast with me every morning."

"I declare I will ask papa to place him under your care if you will
let me?"

"You cannot know, Miss Curzon, how obliged I feel to you for thinking
that I would take care of your brother; and depend upon it, I will."

"Yes," said the little lady, looking stedfastly in my face, "I feel
quite certain you would. But," she added, as her own brightened with a
smile, "you must now fulfil your first promise to me, and find my
father, for I am so tired, I must rest here a little longer."

"Very well," I replied; "but how I should like to talk with you here
all night! Do not go away until I return."

I now hurried away in search of her father, who, after many inquiries,
was pointed out to me by Chrichton, though in a very inaccessible
position; for he was standing with other important personages, among
whom I could discern the Duke, by the side of her Majesty's

"Do, Chrichton," I begged--"do go up to Sir George Curzon for me; you
are more used to that sort of thing than I."

All my eloquence being thrown away upon him, and on that instant
thinking of my little lady in the grove, I walked towards the group
with my hat in my hand, without further hesitation.

"If you please, Sir George Curzon, there is a young lady in the
shrubberies who wants you."

"I think, young sir," replied Sir George, "you must make a mistake."

"No, sir. She has lost you, she says; it is Miss Curzon."

"Dear me! I thought she had been all this while with her aunt. Where
is she?"

"A little beyond that temple on the hill, there," I replied, pointing
with my hat.

"You need hardly go all that way yourself," said the Duke, observing
Sir George about to follow me; "the boy can show her here very well."

"Yes, Sir George," added her Majesty; "let the little boy run and
bring her."

"Well, then, my little gentleman," asked Sir George, "may I ask you to
do so?"

"Oh, yes, Sir," I replied, and I was off on my way towards her in a

"I have found your father. Miss Curzon," said I on my return, "and he
has asked me to lead you to him. I hope I have not been long."

"I am sorry you should have had so much trouble," she answered, as she
took my arm; "but we must now make haste, for it is getting quite
late, and I know papa wishes to go part of the way home to-night."

"Do you live far from here, then?" I rather pointedly inquired.

"Oh, yes--I don't know how many miles--all the way down in Cheshire;
we took this place in our road from town."

"Well, then, Miss Curzon," I said, as we approached her father, "I
wonder if ever we shall meet again! You cannot think how I hope we
may; but now good bye, and----"

"You need not leave me quite yet," she replied, interrupting me; "come
a little further with me--what were you going to say?"

"Though I may never see you more, nobody will ever be so glad to hear
that you are happy as I; for I would sooner see you so than any person
I know."

"Thank you, thank you," she replied, rather earnestly, "and I hope we
shall be able--indeed, I am certain I shall see you again somewhere--I
will not," she added, as we approached the circle, "I will not, if you
please, keep your arm before them. Good bye, then; I shall hear of
you, at all events, from my brother."

She then left me, while I reluctantly directed my steps towards the
college, which now appeared unwelcome and obtrusive. She was so
different to everything I had hitherto experienced!--so gentle and
kind--so unassuming, and yet so lovely--and now to be torn away and
severed from such a person! That night I attempted to console myself
in the following effusion; and as they are the first and last lines of
which I was ever guilty, shall be here inserted; for though the
versification is by no means faultless, they were true to my feelings
at the time:--

    When 'midst the deepest gloom of night,
      While all is still and lone,
    A heavenly meteor flashes bright,
      But floats away as soon;

    Does not the bosom of the moor
     Seem doubly dark and drear,
    Frowning still sterner than before
     Did that false light appear!

    So, lady, have you crossed my way,
      Brighter than cloudless morn--
    So o'er this heart thy piercing ray.
     Gleamed--and thou art gone!


My first half-year as an Etonian had now expired. Brief as it was, it
has been to me the most portentous period of my existence. I sometimes
feel that my fate, here and hereafter, has hinged upon it--this world
is globular for the same reason that a woman's tear is. Are we the
creatures of the merest chance, or of eternal predestination through
all time, if there be such a thing as time at all? The question is
idle; for as we have never yet solved it, I begin to think we never
shall. The Almighty has willed this obscurity, and therefore it is for
the best.

I sensitively felt that I was launched amid the crowd of a bustling
world, to steer and shift for myself as I best might. Like other boys,
I had a tutor; but, though a thoroughly conscientious man, he was
worse than useless; for he was to be practised on with such facility,
that I, with his other pupils, imposed upon him as we chose.

When I returned for the holidays to the paternal roof, it was only to
be fagged by my elder brethren; for here the fagging system, I regret
to say, was not only tolerated, but carried out to its most deplorable

Ever distant then in our days of boyhood, and that, too, while under
the same roof, now that the casualties of after-life have dispersed
us, we are become, to all intents and purposes, entire strangers one
towards the other.

As to my father, he was, of course, wholly engaged in the cares of
providing for so large and expensive a family; and though a man, I am
persuaded, of strong and ardent affection for his children, I can
barely say that I was acquainted with him.

Accustomed to this sort of distant intercourse from my infancy, I was
desirous of no other, until the following occasion, which happened a
year or two subsequent to the present time.

I had been engaged in rather an arduous expedition, and, in
consequence, was laid up a day or two afterwards with a fever, and in
considerable danger of my life. As soon as I could be removed, I was
sent to my father's house. In the evening, as we ranged ourselves
round the fire, the rest of the family, from prudential motives,
removed themselves to a distance. My father drew my chair towards his
own, asserting that in illness one should not desert the other.

By the time that I returned home, I had moreover become a confirmed

This word bears, indeed, an ominous insinuation; but at Eton it is not
so disreputable as it sounds. The shuffler ever employs what ingenuity
he may be gifted with, in contriving how he may do as little in
school, and as much out of it, with the least possible flogging; and
it is astonishing to what a nicety this calculation can be reduced,
and to what a degree of perfection a boy's powers for it may be
brought, by constant and careful cultivation.

Yet I was, I think, far from being an idle boy. I neglected my
studies, not to become listless and unemployed, but that I might earn
more time for other, and, as most persons would think, less edifying
pursuits, and was therefore invariably devoted to cricket, rowing, and
foot-ball matches.

This, then, was the good or ill effect which resulted from the chance
of circumstance. My father had at once concluded, that send a boy to
Eton, pay the yearly bills, and his education was infallibly insured.

From the moment that I entered the college, I had been carelessly
placed far above my acquirements; and constant flogging was
inevitable, for a year or two at least, until, perhaps, by close
application, I had made myself equal to my daily tasks. But this was a
prospect by far too distant to be entertained by a boy of nine years
old; for it is the ambition of a boy not to be flogged at all--not as
little as possible.

An objection to sending a boy early to Eton is, that should he have
the hardihood to brave frequent punishment, he may be very nearly as
idle as he pleases; and at this early age, too, he has not the sense
to apply himself to study of his own will, and that, too, while
surrounded by so many temptations to the contrary.

One flogging, without the slightest stigma attaching to it, or
reprimand, is the certain penalty of failure in his task. With
hardihood or without it, I then had no chance, though, at all events,
I acquired it, and that too, to such a degree, and I deemed the
penalty so trivial, that I henceforth enjoyed a delightful sense of
freedom and independence in its way.

If I bestowed a thought on the subject at all, it was to be flogged
not more than once in a day, if I could conveniently do otherwise.

Yet, in an irrational mood, I would read--I would frequently steal off
to some quiet spot in the neighbourhood, and employ myself in various
histories, of which reading I was always very fond. My favourite
retreat was up in an old pollarded willow-tree, secure from fagging,
and therefore enjoying the distant voices in the playing-fields,
delightfully contrasting with the quiet splash of the trout leaping in
the river beneath me.

Thus I obtained a respectably accurate knowledge of the Roman,
Grecian, and English histories, and a somewhat precocious insight too
of the characters of their various and prominent actors.

As for the heroes of the fabulous ages, I was completely conversant
with each of their circumstances, and for this reason. I must
acknowledge, that, as the hour approached for punishment, I was apt to
be troubled in mind, similarly to a patient about to undergo a
disagreeable operation; but no sooner had I opened Lempriere's
classical dictionary, than every unpleasing anticipation was
dissolved, and I became totally unconscious of vulgar realities, and
absorbed in its poetical but unequivocal immorality.


In spite of the ingenuity I expended, in order to imbibe as small a
quantity of Latin and Greek as was possible, and of the number of
persons, whom I have so frequently heard declaiming against the
exclusive attention paid to their attainment, and with whom, during my
pupillage, I entirely coincided, I cannot help smiling at the extent
to which I have since _ratted_ in this respect. Now that I am no
longer forced to profit by such studies, I have arrived at the
conviction of their necessity. If a knowledge of our own language be
desirable, they afford the only means of understanding the true import
of the words which constitute it; and when, at times, I have
sufficient diffidence to suspect my own capabilities of forming a
correct opinion in the matter, and examine into that of others, I have
to acknowledge, not only that the advocates of the dead languages are
the most competent judges, but that the persons who oppose them the
most strenuously, are invariably those who are the least conversant
with them; while the former, again, are rarely heard to regret the
time expended in their acquirements; while what superior though
uneducated man, but has deplored his ignorance of them, and his want
of opportunity to acquire them?

But I have, of late, arrived at such an extreme as to advocate the
study to the exclusion of all others, with the exception of modern
languages. My paradox is this, that which is downright indispensable
for everyday life, do not teach us; for then, in spite of ourselves,
we must, in these subjects, become our own instructors. If, in a few
years after we have left the school, we possess not a respectable
knowledge of such common, and easily acquired subjects, as arithmetic,
history, and geography, we alone are culpable; and the more the world
makes us sensible of our deficiency, the more we deserve it, and the
sooner we shall set about to apply the remedy. Teach us, then, in
boyhood, that which we will not, or in this case, perhaps, cannot
teach ourselves--a knowledge of the classics.

I sometimes suspect that many persons doubt of their importance, from
the fact of their being distinguished as the dead languages, while,
perhaps, they are exactly the only immortal ones--unchangeable
throughout all ages in their primitive purity. In an unwary, or
perhaps charitable moment, I am seized with enthusiastic admiration of
our forefathers' good taste in so justly appreciating the beauties of
ancient literature, though I now and then have a misgiving that it is
a relic of the cloister, which had no productions of its own to
compete with them, and its traditional authority has not yet become
extinct; not that the moderns have produced such works of genius as to
supersede them, for those of the imagination are not to be accumulated
to greater perfection, from age to age, like those of science. Indeed
the works of the ancients, relative to the latter, are now only useful
as instances of the progress of the human mind; nor could they be
otherwise, as science is more or less perfect in proportion to the
ages that have preceded; as it is the last man's knowledge, added to
that of all his predecessors, or, as Sir John Herschel far better
expresses it, it "is the knowledge of many, orderly and methodically
digested and arranged, so as to become attainable by one;" and thus a
respectable philosopher of the present day may possess more knowledge
than even such powerful and original minds as those of Confucius or
Zoroaster, Aristotle or Pythagoras: he is not like the goose I now see
wading through the mud, and that can't build its nest a jot better
than the sacred ones of the Capitol could.

With regard to works purely imaginative, perhaps the very converse of
this will be found to be the case. The bard of Chios is not
superseded by those of the Lakes, who, as far as all beauty imparted
by the force of originality is concerned, even labour under a
disadvantage, for every author is conscious that a strong memory is a
dangerous thing, and will interfere with his originality in spite of

If then the sublimest soarings of the human imagination conveyed to
our minds, and clothed in all the beauties of language, are desirable,
we shall seldom regret the hours we have expended over Homer or
Virgil, Demosthenes or Cicero.

But although this comparatively exclusive attachment to the classics
may be Eton's most prominent characteristic, I suspect it to be by no
means the most important or beneficial one.

The contrast and contact, resulting from the sheer multitude of
varying dispositions, refined by the gentlemanly tone of character
indigenous to the college, afford advantages superior to all the rest
put together.

There are three other prominent features in the economy of Eton, which
I have touched on in former pages, namely, those of fagging, flogging,
and attendance in church during the week days.

As regards the two former intellectual characteristics, I must admit
that I am unusually obtuse; for although boasting a long and intimate
acquaintance with both, I have never arrived at any certain conclusion
as to their good or ill effects, though I have little doubt but that
they contain a mixture of each, only I am uncertain which may

The former might be profitable, both to the fagger and the fagged, did
it not commence and finish at the wrong end; for could a boy be well
fagged from the age of fourteen to eighteen, he would probably be all
the better for it, but during this period he is unfortunately the
despot. Many persons conclude that the system acts beneficially on the
youthful members of the aristocracy; but I think the same end might be
attained, and more respectably, by the mere jostling amid the crowd,
without proceeding to the extremity of subjecting a boy of gentlemanly
feeling, to the coarse caprices of a tradesman's son. I have myself
_requested_ the present Marquis of D----e to walk into the
playing-fields each evening, with a slop-basin in his hand, and milk
an unusually quiet cow that used to be there; but this office fell to
his lot, merely from his being the only boy in my dames who knew how
to milk a cow--in fact, it was his boast that he could milk a cow
better than any man in England. Lord C----stl----h too, must well
remember when a great wild, raw-boned Irish fellow, with a rope round
his waist, would throw himself from Lion's Leap into the river, by
way of learning to swim, while his lordship was appointed to pull him
out again; but the particular time that I now mean was, when he was
all but drowned, and vociferating with Hibernian vehemence, "pull, you
blackguard!" every time his head emerged for a moment from the bottom
of the river. But whatever effects this levelling process may have in
youthful days, I suspect that they are by no means permanent, and are
completely obliterated on leaving the school.

With regard to the punishment of flogging, many persons condemn it, as
degrading to a boy's character. These same persons would, probably,
deem it out of place to raise their hats on entering a man's shop, and
perhaps every one would feel it to be so in England; but in other
countries, were they not to do so, the shopkeeper, from experience,
would merely attribute the omission to what he deems an instance of
ill-breeding, habitual to John Bull; or, when he is not aware of this,
he will frequently decline to accommodate his customer. I mention this
instance to show, that what may meet with disapprobation in one place,
will not do so in another; and thus what to us at a distance, and in
after years, may appear to be repulsive, may by no means be so
considered during boyhood. Again, others will say, that it ought to
be felt as a disgrace. To this, I can only answer that it never will
be; for where there are so many boys as at Eton, this mode of
punishment must frequently be adopted; and as often as it is, so
certain, from its repetition, will it cease to be considered in that
light--it is altogether a necessary evil, which flesh is heir to.
Should the boy have committed anything unbecoming a gentleman, he is
invariably and appropriately punished by the manner adopted towards
him by his own associates, and the feeling of the school in general.
Let flogging, then, still be tolerated as a mere physical and
convenient inconvenience--its effect, too, is but ephemeral, and soon
becomes lost among the things that were.

Not so will be the effects of frequent attendance in church.
Concerning these three subjects, perhaps no two persons could be found
who might entertain similar opinions; therefore, it behoves one to
advance any decision as regards them with caution and diffidence; but
if one of them admits of greater certainty of opinion than the others,
is it not that relative to the frequent occurrence of the church
service? However the other two subjects may be opposed, some
advantages may be still held out in extenuation of their practice, but
I cannot help feeling that this cloying attendance on chapel must be
altogether pernicious.

His religion is not to be flogged or forced into a boy, like so much
Latin and Greek, or even to be instilled into him by a comparative
stranger. Until he comes to be able to inquire or think about it for
himself, the duty of instructing him is exclusively incumbent on his
parents, or on those who are in more immediate contact with him than
the tutors of a college can be. The superior and sufficient influence
of the former, in this respect, may be evidenced by the fact of a
little Catholic boy whom I knew, duly attending church with the rest
of us, and afterwards leaving the school, and remaining to this day as
stanch a Papist as ever entered the confessional.

Out of the six or seven hundred boys present during divine service,
should only fifty of them have their minds properly disposed, there
would be something to advance in support of the practice; but that
even this cannot be urged, I would appeal not only to every old
Etonian, but to every boy of the present day. With the exception of
Sunday, to which, of course, I am not now alluding, a boy, in my time,
would almost as soon think of bringing a cricket-bat into church with
him as a prayer-book; and if the prayers attracted our attention at
all, it was but momentarily, and that merely to ascertain whether the
tedious chaplain had nearly arrived at the conclusion of the service.

I assume the nature of boys of the present day to be similar to that
of boys twenty years ago; and if so, I suspect that all these services
have added about as much to the growth and strength of their religious
principles, as the hundred-and-one paternosters and ave-marias
muttered by a monk of Camaldoli for the last half century.

But was the evil merely negative, one would hesitate to object to
anything that has been adopted for ages by a foundation so admirably
conducted as that of Eton, and which has ever worked so well; but an
additional effect of this compulsory attendance is to induce, by the
force of early habit, an indifference and callousness of feeling
during divine service, which but few in after life have the grace to
overcome. But are the tutors of the College sensible of similar
effects within themselves? Probably not; for there is little reason
that they should, inasmuch as they have been preferred to their
present situations, and carefully selected from a multitude, in
consequence of their very singularity in this respect.

The promoters of this system seem to be guided, not by how it affects
the boys, but by how they wish it would. While attending these
services with appropriate feeling themselves, I suspect that they are
apt to forget how different was their own conduct on the same
occasions in their youth; or if not, they must imagine that the
rising generation has become far more immaculate than their
predecessors; "but boys will be boys" to the end of the chapter--and
here it is.


Six years have now glided away, and my station as an Etonian has
experienced a still greater revolution. In place of being a fag, I was
now the puissant "captain of my dames," and had six lower boys of my
own; but my greatest privilege consisted in being the possessor of
rather more than three thousand "old copies."

These are the original copies of verses on various subjects which have
borne the correction of their authors' tutors, and which have been
reserved and put by, after a fair copy of them has been shown up in

The collection now in my possession had been, for years, entailed by
its founder upon the captain of my dames, whoever he might be, for the
time being. These, then, I enjoyed for four years, and a subject could
not well be given us, but I possessed it already composed on. True, I
was once at a loss, when we had to produce verses on the death of
George III.; but several copies, simply on death, with a dash here and
there of my own put in to suit the present occasion, sufficiently
answered the purpose, at the cost of but very little literary labour.
One boy, I remember, actually had two old copies on the death of
George II., of such respectable antiquity was his collection of MSS.

In addition to this inestimable treasure, I had become, by this time,
flogged into the school routine of business, and could now, with ease,
perform the requisite and daily tasks, no longer laying in any claim
to the designation of a shuffler, at least to the eyes of the vulgar.
My four remaining years then, at Eton, formed, indeed, a dream of

When not otherwise particularly engaged, it was my delight, on the
instant of coming out of school, or church, to fix my eyes on some
distant object, and to start off for it, merely, I suppose, because it
was out of bounds. Being constantly in the habit of this, I became
acquainted with the localities of the neighbourhood, perhaps more
accurately than any other boy at Eton. The two most distant points I
ever reached, were Staines and the race-course at Ascot Heath. These
excursions I ever undertook in solitude.

It was singular, that one of the most prominent features in the
surrounding country should have been nearly the last I attained. This
was the spot which must have attracted, one time or another, the
attention of every boy: it is that beautiful hill of St. Leonards.

Perhaps the reason that I attained it so late, was, that in these
rambles, I preferred crossing the country as the crow flew, and in the
present instance, therefore, I must have crossed through the Thames,
and it was a long while ere I could prevail upon myself to pass by
such a circuitous route as Windsor and the Life Guards' barracks, for
an object otherwise comparatively close to me.

About this time, then, I started for and reached it. From that day, I
have always thought, that were it in my power to choose a region
wherein to spend my days, this should be it. It is the only spot I
have yet chanced upon, which, when viewed from the distance, with its
details filled up in the imagination, delightfully fulfils and
gratifies it to the utmost. What view can be more heavenly, than when
we look through and over the tops of the stag-headed oaks, along the
valley spread out beneath us, with the Thames winding and glistening
in the sun, and the noble castle of Windsor in the horizon, proudly
rearing itself into the sky?

Notwithstanding this scene, I had been rather earnestly observing a
distant but very lady-like figure walking across the grass, by the
side of some rails, and I felt somewhat disappointed, and
dissatisfied, when, at length, it vanished among the trees. I was now
resting myself at the foot of one, and deeply engrossed in the
desultory wanderings of a beetle on the ground, between my feet. I am
not conscious how long a time I might have been thus amusing myself,
when I was roused by an indistinct rustle close to me, and, on looking
up, I saw before me the lady-like figure. In the surprise of the
moment, I was possessed with a vague consciousness of some former
acquaintance, and in the first impulse, my hand nearly reached my hat,
but, in doubt, I withheld it.

She, too, seemed to be in the like predicament, bending slightly with
the neck, and I even fancied that her lips moved. The next moment, she
had passed on, and I became sensible of the presence of "my little
Frogmore girl!"

Could I have the presumption to renew, at this moment, such a brief
and casual interview, and so long ago, too? What was I to do! Had she
given me a slight token of recognition, or had she not?

At this moment, I am astonished at my determination. In a desperate
state of agitation, yet without a chance of wavering, I now rose, and
walked along the avenue to overtake her, as she was turning down
another to the right. On gaining the corner, I found her a few yards
in advance, seated on a bench with several other persons. I at once
kept directly down the first avenue without passing her.

Here, at last, then, had I once more met with Miss Curzon! Yet how was
she altered! She was now about sixteen, and considerably above the
common height of women, and her figure possessed an air of far greater
slenderness than when I first met her. Then, too, her hair, which was
mostly concealed, was light--now she wore a profusion of it, of a dark
and glossy brown. She was in deep mourning.

Every day did I direct my steps to this hallowed spot, but in vain.
She had been on a visit, I suppose, and had now left the
neighbourhood. But, to my imagination, she was ever present, the last
vision at night, and the first in the morning, but I never could dream
about her.


Though ever leading a life very much at variance with the established
discipline of the college, it was seldom that I was detected; but
about this time, though really living in far greater conformity to its
rules than usual, it was very hard upon me that I should now meet with
a surprising run of ill-luck.

At one time I had become ambitious of exercising the rites of
hospitality, which was the more patriotic on my part, as every article
of the repast had to be stolen. I had been led on to this expense by a
friend presenting me with three bottles of port, which, of course,
would need a few biscuits to accompany them; and then I thought of a
dessert, and at length ascended to the determination of giving a
downright supper.

The brace of partridges, then, and the moor-hen, I shot on the other
side of Dorney Common; the milk for the bread-sauce, came as usual
from the old black and white cow. The ale, bread, knives and forks, I
easily procured from my dame's own supper-table, just before she and
the rest of the boys entered the room.

An hour or two after all in the house had gone to bed, my two friends
and I had roasted our birds, and enjoyed probably such a meal as we
shall never again so much appreciate. Had each of us preferred the
partridges, the affair had not gone off so well; but, fortunately,
Tyrrel very aptly began to speculate on the virtues of the moor-hen,
informing us that it was undoubtedly the highly prized [Greek: ortux]
of the early Greeks, but kindly relinquishing his share of it, Kennedy
enjoyed the whole of it to himself; for, though I doubted not but that
the subject had been classically handled, I obstinately returned to my
old opinion relative to the difference between a partridge and a tough
old moor-hen. These, then, had been duly respected, and we were
sitting round the fire, with the second bottle of port looking rather
foolish in front of us, and were wondering at the cannons which were
then being fired on Windsor hill, when we were alarmed on hearing
somebody coming quickly up the stairs. Having blown out the candles,
and put the bottles into my drawer, we each jumped into our beds, but
were by no means pleased when the man-servant entered merely to awaken
and inform us, that Tim Cannon had won his fight of Josh Hudson, for
which great event the guns were then firing, and that, in the joy of
his heart, he had got up to claim an even bet of sixpence, which he
had made with Kennedy relative to the result.

Such an interruption, under such comfortable circumstances, was
enough to ruffle any one's temper; but I was still more distressed on
opening the drawer to take out the wine and renew our orgies to
discover, that either the cork had not been firmly fixed, or omitted
altogether, for there were my shirts and neckcloths almost floating
in good old port. At this instant, to add to my dissatisfaction, in
walked my dame! The cannons having disturbed her, she had heard the
never-to-be-sufficiently-confounded footman run up the stairs, and
arisen to ascertain the cause; when, guided by our voices, she now
joined our party, an uninvited and unwelcome guest. Indeed, we were
hopelessly committed, for getting up and lighting our candles and
fires in the middle of the night was a capital offence.

On my dame withdrawing herself, in a lamentable state of distress and
disapprobation of our misconduct, we instantly consulted as to what
was to be done to deter her from complaining of us to Keate. To assist
our councils, we summoned to our aid, "Fitty Willy," properly and
feelingly so called from his weakness for epilepsy; nevertheless, he
had ever shown great genius for getting into scrapes, and even still
greater for extricating himself from their baneful effects. He at once
decided, with all the assurance of an old stager, that our only hope
was to proceed next morning, in a body, to my dame, and state the
dreadful result, should she complain of us, and that we must express
the deepest contrition of our delinquency. This, then, the next day,
we had actually effected to all intents and purposes; and Kennedy was
winding up the business with all the fervour of Irish eloquence, when
I unfortunately burst into yells of laughter! This rendered his
declamation null and void, and he even gave up the point at once; when
my dame, writing a note, immediately dispatched it to head-quarters.
To this day do I feel remorse for my martyred fellow-sufferers; for,
on the morrow, never were they so punished, if I judge rightly from my
own feelings; we were compelled, moreover, to write out fifty lines of
Homer every day, for a month to come, and for these I had no "old
copies;" but I soon managed to get into another dilemma.

In a weak moment, I had agreed with Kennedy to sham ill and "stay
out," the equivalent for which is, as we are too unwell to go into
school, we are so, to be out of our houses, and when detected are
invariably flogged with extra severity. On these occasions, too, my
dame sends a certificate to the master, stating our respective
maladies. This time, having merely acquainted her that I felt
indisposed, it became incumbent on her to particularise the case, I
being totally ignorant of the complaint she was pleased to ascribe to
me. Kennedy's complaint was, that he had got a stomach-ach.

We had now before us a long day and a beautiful one besides, and we
decided that each should jump into a skiff, and scull to Cliveden,
many miles up the river. This we performed in a very satisfactory
manner, except that, on our return, just when we were opposite the
beautiful little village of Bray, resting on our oars, and responding
to each other the alternate verses of that aquatic air, now, I fear,
become obsolete, though so full of pathos:

    "Oliver and his dear,
     His dear and Oliver--
     John Mogs and all his hogs,
     His hogs and sweet John Mogs--
     Agnes and her geese,
     Her geese and sweet Agnes, &c."

I heard a voice close to me on the bank, which, by no means, chimed
with the chorus, and the well-known tones of which thrilled to my very
soul. There was my tutor, and I was recognised--Kennedy threw himself
on his face at the bottom of his boat, and floated away undetected.

This catastrophe, however, prevented us not from landing afterwards at
Surly Hall for our cigars and brandy-and-water, where it now became
Kennedy's turn to get into a scrape. Owing to the numerous and
vociferous applications of the claimants for refreshment, "Mother
Hall" is always prudently ensconced in her tap-room, to which the
means of communication was through a square hole in the door. On the
present occasion, Kennedy, in his impatience, had gone round to a
window in her rear. On this quarter she was entirely unguarded; and he
had got his head through, and was in the act of securing some
biscuits. At the moment, our landlady was absorbed in concocting a
bowl of punch; nevertheless, catching a glimpse of the outstretched
hand, she flew to the point of attack. Kennedy would have now
retreated, had not his ears wedged lightly between the bars, and his
head become immoveably fixed, and the next moment the choleric Mother
Hall was thumping him on the head with the lemon squeezer. His
eloquence, so effective on most occasions, now availed him nothing,
and he was seriously tortured. I think he was a little spirit-broken
besides, for it was ever after a tender subject with him.

Not having heard from my tutor that evening, I began fondly to hope
that, taking into consideration the extent of punishment consequent
on such a breach of discipline, he had kindly omitted to take any
further notice of the affair.

Neither of us having recovered from our indisposition, we were, of
course, "staying out" on the following day, which we had taken very
good care should be Friday. Instead, then, of being instructively
employed with the tasks of that dreadful day, I was comfortably seated
in my room, reading "Quentin Durward," when, alas! its beautiful
illusions were dissipated, and I awoke to the painful reality of
vulgar life, by being summoned to Keate, now occupied in the middle of
eleven o'clock school. Changing, then, my book, and putting my Horace
under my arm, I enjoyed the distinction of walking "alone in my
glory," up the middle of the school, to Keate's desk.

"Well, Graham, what do you want here?" demanded Keate, in his hurried

This forgetfulness, or perhaps ignorance, on his part, completely
disconcerted me; and not wishing to inform against myself, I held my
tongue, hoping that some unforeseen chance might yet favour my escape.
But the next moment, observing his choler to be rapidly on the
increase, I was conscious that this plan would be worse than useless.

"I am staying out, Sir," I at length hinted.

"Staying out, are you! Then you are unwell--yes, you look very ill
indeed; pray, what is the matter with you? Tyrrel!" he vociferated,
the next moment, "you had better bestow your attention on the place
before you in the book, and I will presently examine your knowledge
upon the subject--you seem to be very interested in the present one;
you're watching, I suppose, to see how your friend Graham can exert
his ingenuity in getting off.--Well, Graham?"

"I have taken physic, Sir?"

"Taken physic, have you! Pray, what was it?"

"A pill, Sir," I replied, not very confidently.

"Yes; and I suppose, no doubt, that you judged a quiet row up the
river would do you a little good--stay, afterwards--a flogging,
perhaps, will have a still better effect."

As luck would have it, I was never, on any occasion, so slightly
punished. Keate, though I never knew him to be guilty of an absent fit
before, entirely forgot for what he was flogging me, and gave me but
the average number. The laugh was certainly on my side, when, just as
I had completed my disarranged toilet, he discovered his error.
Neither of us could forbear smiling, and he congratulated me on my
good fortune.

The detection of my next peccadillo was not followed by such baneful
effects. They were now making at Windsor Theatre great preparations
for a night, which was to be graced with the presence of his Majesty,
who had also kindly condescended to order the tragedy of "Warwick" on
the occasion. I had amused myself by going up in the day-time to
witness the rehearsals, and otherwise examine into the economy of the
stage in general. I also made myself, without any evil intent at the
time, entirely conversant with the localities of the place. To draw a
full house, Mr. Betty, once the Young Roscius, had been engaged to
personate the Earl of Warwick, and admirably he sustained it, too.
During the performance, I had crept from the gallery--here always
appropriated to the Etonians--through a door which had been purposely
made not to appear such, into a place immediately over the stage.
Across this space stretch the enormous rollers on which the scenes are
wound, but in the recess where I now stood was stored a confused heap
of theatrical lumber, such as an enormous gilt lion, a dragon, a
collection of clouds, and other curiosities. At first I conjectured
that the effect below might be heightened by the dismissal of a few of
the clouds, but I feared lest they might dislocate a neck or two. A
similar result might have occurred had I cut the ropes of the front
scene. At length, I determined merely to launch an enormous dusty
carpet on Mr. Betty's devoted head below. Finding this to be far
beyond my single strength, I procured three assistants, and, at a
given signal, we simultaneously launched it forth.

At that moment the Young Roscius and another star were fascinating the
house, when our gigantic bundle, lodging for a moment between the
rollers, gradually squeezed through them, and the next, enveloping our

    "Turned to groans their roundelay."

This occasioned an uproar throughout the house, and on regaining our
seats, "the King-maker" had crept from beneath the mass, leaving
Edward IV. still struggling under it: the former, with his moustache,
ermine cloak, and other appendages, in pitiable disorder, was now
haranguing the audience in the tone of a deeply-injured man. By what
means I never could divine, or even suspect, but Mr. Betty arrived at
the originator of the deed, and, to avoid more disastrous
consequences, I was obliged to call upon him the next day, and promise
never to do it again.


Though by no means superstitious, there was one circumstance, and only
one, with regard to which I sometimes doubted whether it was not
influenced by some fatality, and the present case was connected with

With another boy, I was passing out of the archway leading upon
Windsor Terrace, in order to hear the Life Guards' band, which here
played every Sunday evening, when once more I met with Miss Curzon.
She was coming away, and at that instant was walking between two other
ladies. This time, then, there was no doubt: as I passed, she made a
very slight, but slow bend of her neck; at the same time there was in
her face a fixed and serious expression. Slight as was the
recognition, it was undoubted.

"Why, Graham," presently exclaimed the friend I was walking with,
"that lady bowed to you!"

"And why should she not?"

"And why should you blush about it so?"

Never mind that--this was, and ever has been, if not the happiest, the
loveliest moment of my life.

On turning back, that I might, should fortune favour me, obtain some
farther traces of her, I just glimpsed her as she entered a carriage,
which drove away in the direction of Datchet.

Once again, then, was I at fault, still possessing not the faintest
suspicion of her retreat, for resident in the neighbourhood I was now
confident she must be.

It was six years and more since I had heard her voice. From that
moment I had dwelt upon it and her, with all my mind, with all my
heart, and with all my soul. But then, this might have been an ideal
passion, as has happened to many of us, and we have never been less
enamoured than when in the immediate presence of its object: but in
this instance it was very different, creating a kind of fretful
happiness quite intolerable. Byron says, in his ever-glowing way,

    "Sweeter far than this, than these, than all,
    Is first and passionate love!"

But, he should have added, what probably he meant, early love. Love at
twenty is as nothing, unless one's a fool. Downright love exists only
with boyish and the wildest romance, infinitely removed from every
grain of common sense. I will give an instance of this boyish
weakness, though a ridiculous one.

There was a maid-servant in Eton, who was a modest, respectable, and
certainly very pretty girl. Notwithstanding the stoutness of her
ancle, she had made a deep impression on many of the bigger boys,
though probably not one of them had exchanged a syllable with her.
This girl now became betrothed to a Windsor tradesman. No sooner was
this ascertained, than her admirers let him plainly know, that should
he presume to prosecute his design, it should cost him dearly. Several
of them now never met the poor fellow without insulting him; and I
remember one boy, more ardent than the rest, went into his shop and
fought him chivalrously, like a good knight and true. So high did the
feud now run, that the shop-keepers sided with their townsman, and for
months half the school was each evening engaged in a spirited skirmish
with the Windsor mobility for this Fair Maid of Perth; and I believe
that, in consequence of the excitement they evinced on the occasion,
the match was postponed for nearly two years. The boy who
particularised himself for his pugnacious prowess has since become a
preacher in the open fields, and a zealous supporter of the
miraculously unknown tongues.

"But these are foolish things to all the wise," and particularly so
to me, though my head was altogether turned, and my heart too. My days
were more than ever dedicated to roaming over the country; and in the
evening I used to love to scull my skiff far up the stream, and then
float quietly down while I watched the sun setting, and the luxurious
yet modest forget-me-not, on the banks; then leave my boat to sit
motionless on a retired stile, and listen to "the still small voice"
of the mysterious bat, or the drowsy soothing hum of the beetle. One
of these evenings, by the bye, was productive of a little adventure.

I had just accomplished "the shallows," and was now rowing hard
against the stream opposite Boveney Church, when I was startled for
the moment by the sounds of a number of female voices, some of which
even amounted to screams. On looking over my shoulder, I now observed
an enormous pleasure-barge, with its deck and cabin crowded with a
numerous party of ladies and gentlemen. It was drawn up the stream by
three or four horses. At this spot the stream ran with such rapidity,
that a boat which was fastened to the stern, had broken away, and the
ladies became, in a degree, panic-struck, when they saw their only
means of communication with the shore quickly floating away from them.

It was now for me to do my best to capture it, though when I had
fastened it to my skiff, it was with great difficulty that I could
stem the stream with it, and reach them. Having at length succeeded in
this, the instant I arrived, in addition to innumerable thanks, many
fair and braceleted wrists were now proffering full and fizzing
bumpers of champagne, while others showered various fruits into my

Without any hesitation, I emptied a respectable number of glasses of
their contents; and having declined the rest, they were reluctantly
withdrawn, with the exception of one. I thought I might as well take
that; I looked at its fair and kind donor, and--there was Miss Curzon!
As I raised the glass to my lips, I glanced across its brim, and again
the same depression of the slender figure--the same expression and
mixture of fixed seriousness!

Now, then, I at last had a certainty of gleaning some tidings of her.
I saw Maberly standing by her side, and, the next morning, I
questioned him closely, but warily, upon the subject.

"I was rather lucky, last night, Maberly," I observed.

"Yes," he replied; "it was no common person who gave you that glass of
wine. Do you not think she was very lovely?"

"There were several lovely persons," I answered.

"You know whom I mean."

"O yes," I prudently answered; "she was sitting on a sofa, close to
the steerage, and gave me--bless her!--the first glass of wine."

"Thank you," said Maberly; "that was my sister."

"Then she was a very nice-looking person," I replied.

"Don't you recollect, now, the girl who held out the last glass to

"Perfectly; but is she the person you admire so?"

"Oh! you know, you're near-sighted, or you would have thought so."

"And who is she, after all?"

"I am not quite certain that I know her name," said Maberly; "but I
suppose it is the same as her uncle's, Mr. St. Quentin, with whom she
lives there, at the Grange, by Old Windsor."

I said but little more, and withdrew, by no means dissatisfied with
the information I had gained.


When I look back at this period of my life, though it must be with a
feeling of disapprobation--and when I coldly say disapprobation, I
insinuate remorse--let me confess that I still do so with an
undeniable leaven of envy; envy at the lawless liberty I enjoyed, not
only with regard to my actions, but to my conscience; revelling in a
deficiency of forethought and blindness of consequences, as truly
delightful for the present, as overwhelming and deplorable for the

I was not aware that "coming events cast their shadows before;" and,
alas! that past ones, leave them.

But there was one thing of which I was aware, and of which persons
rarely are, at the time,--I knew that I was happy; yet I deemed that
this ought not to be, so long as I remained subject to any trace of
palpable, or, as I then thought, irrational restraint.

In truth, like a good many other foolish fellows of that age, I began
to entertain no small opinion of myself. I now felt that it was
degrading to be shut in each night, like sheep within a fold, or to
peep through the grated windows like a felon, and that I would not
rest until I had freed myself from such restraints.

The impediments and risks opposed to my design were great, but my
fortune, or misfortune, carried me through them all.

On examining the different windows of the house with this intention, I
at last found one which I judged to offer greater facilities than any
other; but as it was in the room of two other boys, it became
necessary that I should intrust them with the matter. As, of course,
they were also to be participators in the benefits arising from the
success of our attempt, they were happy to join me.

It occupied but little time to make our preparations for the sortie.
The bars of this window were placed so widely apart, that by taking
off our coats and waistcoats, we could each squeeze through. We had,
then, only to subscribe the ropes of our trunks, and saw off the legs
of our chairs, and in a few minutes we possessed a lengthy
rope-ladder. We now went to bed, appointing three-o'clock in the
morning for the hour of our first sally. Notwithstanding the height
from the ground, and our suspicions of the weakness of our ropes, so
eager was each to be the first to descend, that we drew lots for the
precedence. This fell to Bush, who instantly commenced his descent,
and the next moment, the silence of night was dispersed by the awful
crashing and jingling of apparently a hundred panes of glass! Both
legs and half of his body had passed directly through the window
below. We had conjectured that there had been no window, but here was
that of the unlucky laundry. The instant he had reascended, I coiled
up the ladder, and retreating with it to my room, threw it under my
bureau and jumped into bed, instantly expecting the whole house to be
in an uproar, though, as it turned out, no one was awoke by the
clatter. The following morning, the effects were merely attributed to
the attempts of some villains to break into the house, instead of out
of it.

I had now to set about and devise some other mode of egress. The place
I next fixed on for this purpose was my own window. Should I succeed,
detection would be almost impossible, every suspicion being lulled, in
consequence of the apparent difficulties for such an attempt. In
addition to the bars, there was a wire grating in front of the window,
which, moreover, was at the top of the house; but, then, the two
windows beneath it had been economically bricked up, in order to avoid
an accumulation of the window-tax. By knotching a breakfast-knife very
finely, I managed to pass it beneath the fat piece of iron in which
the bar terminated, and then to saw in two one of the nails which
fixed it. I then took out the head of the nail, and the bar turning
round the remaining nail, as on a pivot, left a sufficient space for
my body to pass between it and the window-frame. I had but to twist
the bar back again, stick in the head of the nail, and everything was,
apparently, in its former state. By wrenching, in a slight degree, the
tenter-hooks, I could now disengage the lower part of the grating in a
moment, sufficiently to pass beneath, and having constructed a sliding
board in the floor, under which I deposited my rope-ladder, I felt
entirely secure from detection, and I was not mistaken.

It was indeed a joyous moment when I made my first experiment, and
felt my foot on the dewy grass, for I deemed that

    "Then the world it was mine oyster,
     Which I with knife might open."

Among these nightly rambles, there is one that will ever be, I should
think, deeply impressed upon me.

Everybody in the house had been in bed for hours. As I was far too
restless to doze on the occasion, I had been stationary at the open
window, counting the hours as they slowly passed, and it was now
getting towards two o'clock, when I was to descend the ladder, already
placed and hanging from the window.

In those days I was rarely troubled by low spirits, but at the present
moment, I must own, that they partook considerably of the gloominess
of the hour, and the scenery around. The night was very dark, but I
could just see the ghost-like masses of the gigantic elms, as they
stood motionless against the gloomy sky, and could even hear the quiet
rippling sound of the river as it glided along in the distance, the
night was so very still. But all this now horribly contrasted with a
scene I had witnessed but a few hours ago on the banks of that river
now so deserted.

A school-fellow and friend had there been drowned, and I had heard his
piercing shriek as he fell from his boat. His body had not yet been
recovered. This morning we had been playing at fives together. How
were he and I occupied now! I dared hardly think, and then I pictured
to myself his listless and lifeless body rolling under the stream into
some dark depth:--

    "And there I sat all heavily
     As I heard the night-wind sigh--
     Was it the wind that through some hollow stone
     Sent that soft and tender moan!"

Just then the deep tone of the Castle death-bell came swelling across
the river from the other side. In an instant I knew it was the
harbinger of death--of the Princess Charlotte? I was right--she was
just then dead!

This now struck me as a frightful moment. It was not from the fear of
death, nor, alas! from the fear of God. What could it be? I am
convinced that no one has literally trembled from fear, but now my
heart felt as though it shivered. I stood motionless till the last and
least sound had reverberated through the now silent court, and there
was nothing to be heard but the beating of my own heart. There I stood
fixed like a statue, afraid to stir, even to heave my chest to
sigh--this, then, was superstition.

I gradually arose from my trance to be conscious of the truth; and now
even concluding it to be my duty to combat against the weakness,
though in a joyless mood, I descended the ladder.

"Time and tide tarry for no man," and I think even less for me. The
day had now come that I was to take leave of Keate and of Eton, and
return to my father's house--and for what! I had not a suspicion, or
whether I was destined for the army, church, law, or for anything
else. The prospect, however, appeared cloudy and comfortless, and I
was now to reside for an indefinite period at the only place, much as
I did love the spot, where I ever felt myself to be in the midst of
strangers. Here, apparently, I was another being than when at
Eton--reserved, gloomy and distrustful--cold and unfeeling--wandering
about the place like a solitaire, as I was. I had not, nor have I ever
had, an acquaintance in the county--I had never been into another
house. Should any friends of the family be staying with them, I would
take my breakfast of bread and milk before the usual hour, in order to
avoid meeting them, and then absented myself for the rest of the day,
until dinner-time. This last was indeed a painful ordeal, especially
should there be any ladies present.

The truth is, circumstances, and by no means my own inclinations,
forced me to be mute, and that, too, at times, when I would have
almost given my life to have been otherwise, and then I looked ashamed
of myself, as I really was, for my apparent deficiency of good

But now it was that I was bidding farewell to Eton--an eternal
farewell! now it was that I felt

                  "How dear the schoolboy spot,
    We ne'er forget, though there we are forgot."

I had been an Etonian for ten lovely years, and--what had I acquired?

I had, in due routine, become captain of the Oppidans--could, on an
emergency, translate the dead languages--had worked myself into the
eleven of cricket and of foot-ball, and now came forth from Keate's
chamber, destined to learn that "the recollections of past happiness
are the wrinkles of the soul."



The youngest of a numerous family,--now that every profession is
overstocked,--has no right to entertain considerable expectations.
Therefore, when my father endured the expenses of my education till my
twenty-third year, he did far more than was incumbent on himself, and
far more than I, in any way, deserved. It was, indeed, an expensive
education, and the object to be gained by it, the Church.
Unfortunately, my inclination for this had never been ascertained, and
still more unfortunately, from my youth, I had ever opinions and
difficulties on religious points, thoroughly inconsistent with the
established one. These I had ever kept within myself, and it has been
my ruin. Had I earlier exposed them to my father, perhaps I might have
prosperously pursued some other profession, and been, at this moment,
something like an useful member of society.

Finally, in opposition to my own judgment and conviction, I bowed to
that of others, and was ordained Deacon, in St. George's Chapel,
Hanover Square. I now retreated to a parish in a remote county, which
henceforth might be considered in the light of an honourable exile.

One Sunday, then, in the depth of a rainy winter, I set off on my
horse, with my canonicals strapped before me in a valise, to commence
my clerical duties. On entering my parish, for want of a more
respectable asylum, I put up at a public-house, where I changed my
dress, and came forth, for the first time, in the character of a
Divine, walking towards my church, where I met with an unusually large
congregation assembled to hear "the new parson."

Notwithstanding my lamentable deficiency of self-possession, I got
through the service without any distressing error--I ought not to have
read the Absolution, that being restricted to priests, nor should I
have upset the cushion on which I was kneeling, for, not having
sufficient confidence to replace it, I was forced to hang on by my
elbows to the reading-desk for the remainder of the Litany. As for my
sermon, I knew it by heart, and it went off very well. I think, at all
times, if my sermon was a good one, I used to get along well enough,
for, as I proceeded, I became interested in it. On the other hand,
when it was considerably below the average, I became even more so,
labouring to gain the conclusion, like a wounded partridge to reach
the adjoining enclosure.

Having accomplished the service, I fondly concluded that my little
devoir was finished for the day, and that I might now retire to
collect my agitated nerves in quiet, but at the porch I was requested
to visit an old woman who was lying in the poor-house, in the last
stage of a dropsy. The only entrance to her chamber, or rather, her
loft, was by an upright ladder fixed against the wall, the two upper
steps of which were broken away. After a little manoeuvring in
consequence of this difficulty, I entered the place in the attitude of
Nebuchadnezzar in the act of grazing, "meekly kneeling on my knees."

Like all other invalids in humble life, she was anxious that I should
become impressed with the full extent of her suffering, and to this
intent was irresistibly importunate in her entreaties that I would
grasp her arm, and, to my horror, the next moment I saw the impression
of my fingers deeply, and, to all appearance, permanently stamped upon
her flesh! With this ordeal she appeared satisfied, and having read
the prayers for the sick, I really suspect a little impressively,
owing to my feelings as a novice, and left upon her pillow a few
shillings, I do think and hope that her spirits were a little brighter
than before--and there was need, for there were faint hopes of her
descending that ladder more, save for her "long home."

I once more directed my steps to the public-house for my horse, whose
head I now turned towards a farm-house where I had written to procure
apartments. I had proceeded but a short distance, when he sunk up to
the girths in a small bog, but contrived to scramble out so soon as I
had dismounted. I knew beforehand, that my future residence was
inaccessible for any description of carriage, but as I was little
likely to be encumbered in this way, it was a matter of no
consideration, but it certainly annoyed me to find that every now and
then I was liable to get my sermon moistened in a quagmire.

In the midst, then, of these bogs was my solitary abode, which enjoyed
the somewhat singular appellation of Pinslow. This, I fancy, from its
situation among the surrounding morasses, to have been a corruption of
"Peninsula," as it had but one line of access.

I was destined to be the first of my profession that ever resided in
the parish. The salary being very minute, with no parsonage-house,
hitherto each clergyman, save the one of the neighbouring parish, had
conscientiously declined the appointment.

On reaching my house, I found it to be rurally situated in the centre
of its straw-yard, but altogether well suited to my wants. There was a
very good one-stalled stable, or loose box, and as, on rainy days, I
would throw off my reading-coat, and rub down my horse for an hour,
this was an object of some importance. I was equally fortunate with
regard to my sitting-room, for, without rising, I could reach anything
I wished for, from one end of it to the other. A second room was
sufficiently spacious to hold the bed.

Towards the close of the evening, laying aside etiquette, as Crusoe
would in his solitary isle, I went out in order to visit a curate who
had lately taken the parish bordering on my own, and who, like myself,
had just entered on his noviciate. Here I found Seymour, a fellow
Etonian and contemporary.

Though we had never before been intimate, how happy was I to meet with
him. For years had I been in the habit of seeing him every day, when
all was happiness, and now to be with him again, though my prospects
were as gloomy as the barren moors around us! I felt how different was
my regard for him to that for friends of later date. The truth is, we
knew each other!

This, together with youthful and happy associations, is the secret of
all those lasting friendships commenced in boyhood. We feel, however
we may try to conceal it, that our acquaintances in later life may be
playing a part, or at all events, may be guided more or less by
interested motives; while, on the other hand, should sad experience
not have taught us the same policy, it will inevitably happen, that
sooner or later we shall have to deplore our imprudence. It is not so
much that we are betrayed as misconstrued; our opinions are
misinterpreted from ignorance of our real dispositions. This, then, is
why it has become so imperative on us to shroud ourselves in reserve;
and, alas! the more so as our dispositions may be sanguine and ardent.
Hence, too, the Lord Chesterfield's scouted maxim, "Do not be, but
seem," though his lordship is not to be reprobated so much as the
world, that compelled him thus to advise his own son. But I fear I
shall be found fault with by both parties, as I have learnt to be, but
not to seem.

No wonder, then, that we hasten to renew our early friendships, and
throw aside all this deplorable restraint.

"Your father is a horrid radical," I once heard a boy say to the Lord
Chancellor's son.

"And your mother is his Majesty's mistress," was the retort, in even
plainer language.

This is adopting the other extreme, but will here serve as a sample of
that youthful openness, however ridiculous and disagreeable, which
teaches us at once how to choose our friends and confidants, with
little fear of being mistaken; and when we have arrived at manhood,
whatever number of years may have separated us, we are still conscious
of each other's nature, because we have learnt, in the meantime, that
it never changes, in whatever degree it may have done so in
appearance. Let any one, for a moment, bestow his attention upon some
prominent person of the present day, whose character may contrast with
what it was in boyhood, and has he confidence in him? in other words,
is he imposed upon with the rest? He may cling to him for auld lang
syne, but he will be far from being deceived, while the other is as
conscious that he is not so.

For this reason, I have always thought well of those who have carried
on their early intimacy to after-life. One of them must be creditable
to our race, for I have noticed friendship between two indifferent
characters ever to be brief.

Seymour, poor fellow, was just now under rather adverse circumstances,
for he had arrived here but five days, and had been confined to his
bed during the four last of them, having caught cold from wet feet,
which I regretted the more, as he had but little chance, in such a
country, of ever again enjoying the comfort of dry ones. When I
arrived at his hovel he had just come down to his sitting-room, and I
think I seldom recollect a more comfortless, or ludicrous scene
either. Till this moment, I suppose, he who had roughed it as little
as any one, was now looking pale, wretched, and emaciated, with his
slender, gentlemanly figure crouched close upon the comfortless
fire-place. Should he have the energy to stir for anything, his nicely
arranged hair was instantly dimmed with the cobwebs and dust which it
gathered as it swept across the low ceiling. On the dark and damp
floor was scattered a number of splendidly bound books, with a
Wilkinson's saddle. Along the wall was tidily arranged an extensive
collection of Hoby's boots, and a hat-box, imprinted with "Lock, Saint
James' Street," but which article was now converted into a temporary
corn-bin, and was nearly full of black oats.


It is but yesterday, when I felt that to be "a pot-hunter"[1] was the
lowest step of degradation; and I was quite right, for then I lived at
home; my father had an admirable kennel of pointers and spaniels, a
couple of well-stocked manors, and a zealous keeper. But, since then,
"a change came o'er the spirit of my dream," and my finances not so
flourishing that I could keep up a shooting establishment on the
footing which I have hitherto enjoyed. At present I am provided with
sustenance at the cost of one shilling a meal; but should I procure a
dinner elsewhere, which seldom happened, or my fishing-rod prove
effective, which it never did, a proportionate deduction ensues in the
cost of my repast.

Once or twice, as September approached, it crossed my mind that this
kind of economy was not entirely to be overlooked. But, no, no! True,
I had got under a cloud, and "my house-hold gods lie shivered around
me;" but, to become a pot-hunter! I had not fallen, nor would I fall,
so low as that. September has arrived, and I have!

To entertain a proper feeling on the subject, I am fully sensible that
a gentleman should only destroy game, which, when killed, is
thoroughly useless to him; and being thus principled, I am at a loss
to account for the unwonted delight I experienced whenever my gun did
its work on the victim, which in a few hours was to smoke on my
solitary board.

Some one affirms it to be as probable for an empty sack to stand
upright, as for a needy man to be honest. The simile is ingenious and
plausible, but as uncharitable. The weakness I have just acknowledged
is undoubtedly attributable to my circumstances, though I trust I am
still beyond the reach of the graver imputation. But I should be
ambitious of proving more than this--the utter extravagance of such a
theory; for it is a cruel one, and has caused both mischief and
misery. How many otherwise inoffensive persons have I known implicitly
to adopt an opinion to the prejudice of their less fortunate
acquaintance, merely from their deficiency of the world's wealth! But,
not content with this, these persons, who are the very people to
esteem poverty as the worst of ills, not satiated with his
destitution, must do their utmost to sink him still lower by their
treatment of him; little suspecting, too, I should hope, that the
most probable means of enticing a man to become a villain, is to
convince him that the world deems him to be such. I have known more
than one victim to this treatment, for all are not gifted with
independency of mind sufficient to defy it.

Owing to an insurmountable detestation of my profession, I spent but a
few days of the week in my parish. It was not that I was careless, and
indifferent for the welfare of my parishioners; for, in spite of
myself, I could not but like them.

Beyond doubt, it is imperative on a clergyman ever to be in the heart
of his parish, employed in bestowing, spiritually and corporally, such
assistance as it may fall to his share to be able to bestow. As to
relieving their distresses arising from poverty, my finances were much
too limited to be of any avail. With regard to those who were
suffering on a sick bed, with but slender hopes of recovery, my powers
of consolation were even more meagre.

I have said that my opinions widely differed from those supposed to be
entertained by a Protestant clergyman, and particularly so on the
efficacy of a death-bed repentance. Could it then be expected that I
was thus to smear myself over with hypocrisy, and to a poor
broken-spirited fellow-creature, looking imploringly for religious
aid and comfort, utter to his confiding ears such doctrines as, at
that time, I unhappily and foolishly thought to be no more "than
sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal?"

This, then, was not to be thought of or endured; and, therefore,
sooner than remain inactive among my people, I was ever, as much as
possible, studiously at a distance. Still it could not but annoy me,
should my presence have been required on any emergency, while absent;
and this, thanks to my fortune, never occurred, though I had many
narrow escapes of it.

At one time, having postponed the preparation of my sermon during the
earlier part of the week, I arrived, in consequence, at my lodgings on
Saturday evening, in order to get it ready for the morrow. I had
scarcely begun, when Maria, dispensing with her lowly knock for
admission at the door, rushed in, and announced an event which had
just occurred within a mile of the house.

A girl of eighteen, and her sister of eight years old, had been
spending her birth-day at their grandfather's, and, after dark, had
set out on their return to their father's house, mounted on an old
horse, with the younger girl behind. In the bottom of a valley which
divided the two houses, ran a little stream, but which now, from
heavy rain, had increased to a rapid and deep, though still a narrow
rivulet. In passing through the ford, the younger girl, while raising
her feet to avoid the water, fell from the saddle, pulling her elder
sister with her. The youngest, much frightened, rushed through the
water and gained the bank. The foot of the elder one became entangled
in the stirrup, which unfortunately caused her head and shoulders to
remain beneath the water. The horse was so quiet as to stand still in
the stream, grazing on the bank, and was thus stationary long enough
for the girl to become insensible, when he walked out, and her foot,
on his moving, becoming once more free, her helpless little sister, by
the light of the moon which was then shining, could just see the
stream roll away the body of her sister towards a deep hole a little
lower down, when she lost sight of her. This, then, was the cause of
the present interruption.

On arriving at the spot, it was distressing to observe the
insignificancy of the place, with regard to such a melancholy event.
The water where she had fallen, was not more than two feet in depth,
and while searching for her body during the night, at any place I was
able to jump across the stream. Yet, singular to state, we never found
the body till the commencement of the fourth night from the accident.

The corpse of this poor girl was the first I had ever seen. Her
eldest brother had discovered and placed it on the grass, and as he
and her father gazed upon it, while the moon shone down upon the group
standing motionless and silent in the gloomy ravine, never was I so
conscious of the intensity of the misery which _can_ befal us--that
indeed "the trail of the serpent was over us all."

The funeral of this girl was the first at which I had to officiate. It
is singular that a funeral consequent on an unusual death should be
attended by greater numbers than an ordinary one. On this occasion, I
may safely say, that my little retired burial-ground, and its
immediate vicinity, were occupied by thousands.

Though always in the habit of taking great exercise, I never
experienced severer work than on the day which brought rest to others,
not but that I might have avoided it. For five weeks successively I
have served three churches each Sunday. On these days I had to walk
forty miles, and ride another forty miles, and once or twice
experienced heavy falls with my horse. This, then, I suppose, was
steeple-hunting, properly so called--all this too was for love, at all
events, not for money.

The latter, indeed, was very scarce in this part of England. My
predecessor had served the parish fourteen years, for twelve pounds
per annum. The present rector was in the annual receipt of
forty-three pounds, out of which he had to pay me, but with the aid of
a little simony, this was easily avoided, and as I took no fees, I can
hardly call it a lucrative appointment, and certainly not a sinecure.

I am fully aware of the fallacy of judging on any subject, without
examining both sides of the question, but the following case really
seems to have only one:--

By great ingenuity, I should think, the sum of eight hundred and
forty-five pounds is distilled from out the peaty soil of my humble
parish, under the denomination of great and small tithe.

From the sound, one might be led to suppose that this sum was, in some
slight way, connected with ecclesiastical purposes; and, by-the-bye,
so it is exactly, for forty-three pounds go to the rector, and the
remainder is distributed among three wealthy and noble families.

At first, too, one might expect that this sum would, at all events,
afford to pay for a permanent and resident clergyman, with a roof over
his head, "be it ever so humble;" but no, the parish is but the
receptacle for the luckless, roaming deacon, and its poor parishioners
are ever doomed to be as sheep without a shepherd, and to be fleeced

Among these sabbatical circuits of mine, there was one which, though I
shall be, more than usual, guilty of egotism, I do not wish to
forget, it was so in keeping with the nature of the country--primitive
and stern. It was the only time I was sensible of fatigue, though in
the present instance I had not more than two churches to serve, nor
was I under the necessity of walking more than half of the usual
distance; but I was so ill with the influenza that I was doubtful of
succeeding. Attempt it I would, for hitherto, though invariably
hurried, I had never kept a congregation waiting for one moment.
Having got upon my horse, I rode him forty miles across the moors, to
my own church first: so far from fatiguing me, I found that the
freshness of the air had considerably added to my strength: still, the
exertion of reading would have proved too much, had not the singers,
perceiving my weakness, good-naturedly chaunted the prayers which
occur between the lessons, just giving me breathing time, and
sufficient strength to finish the service. The instant this was over,
I walked away for the other church, determined, at all events, to
persevere, for in a whimsical mood I had ever resolved to perform the
Sunday's duty punctually, in spite of time, tide, or anything else. As
I crossed each field, I was obliged to get on the top of every gate in
order to rest myself, notwithstanding the exertion of it. On coming to
the fatal little stream in the valley which divided the parishes, I
became sensible that I had no strength to clear it, and that, should I
attempt it, a total submersion must inevitably be the result. I had no
time to hesitate, so at once walked through the ford, though at the
time I was in a profuse and faint-like perspiration.

On reaching the church, I found myself to be in good time, but had not
proceeded far in the service, when I discovered the clerk to be in
such a state of drunkenness, as would have appeared to the least
fastidious, blasphemous and repulsive. In this dilemma, I knew it
would be useless to tell a noisy boisterous fellow to hold his tongue,
so at once, quietly but quickly, reaching his book, I placed it in my
reading-desk, and the fellow, without a murmur, resigned himself to
his fate and went fast asleep. In spite of the check which my wet
clothes might have occasioned, I was rapidly gaining strength, and, to
my surprise, got easily through the duty.

At the conclusion of the service, a labourer's wife came up to me with
the usual fee between her finger and thumb, the price of being
grateful to her God for safe deliverance in child-birth. She
apparently deemed me out of my senses, and I had to tell her twice to
keep back the shilling gained by the sweat of her husband's brow.

I had next to visit a dying man, and I had a dread of it. The poor
fellow had been for many years an open and avowed infidel, and
entertained an invincible hatred towards clergymen. He had, at last,
consented to send for me, in compliance with the entreaties of his
wife. Being an industrious man, he had realized sufficient to enable
him to rent a very comfortable cottage, a cyder orchard, to keep a
couple of cows, besides having by him a sum of ready money. A few
years back, in assisting at the harvest, he had strained himself
internally, and induced an atrophy. On asking the wife whether they
were badly off, her sole reply was to take a cup from the
chimney-piece, and show me, in heart-breaking silence, a sixpence and
three half-pennies! Cows, money, and orchard--all had disappeared
during a lingering illness,--and the poor old woman's inevitable fate
was now to await the fast approaching death of a good husband, and
then retire, for her few remaining and widowed years, to the workhouse
of a distant parish!

On speaking to him, I could not but admire his really gentlemanly
self-possession, accompanied by a tone of respect and kindness. After
I had finished the prayers for the visitation of the sick, I read a
few others which I had copied out from some authors, selected by
Paley, and beautiful compositions they are; the poor fellow sunk into
an agony of grief, and I wish I had not read them. Was I wrong or not?
I fear that I was, and am sorry for it; but we shall both know by and

On returning in the evening through my own church-yard, never was I so
struck with its air of wretchedness. It was placed in the bottom of a
swampy moor, confined on one side by the little decrepit old church,
with its boarded steeple looking like a dog-hutch, and just small
enough to hold three parts of a cracked bell, if I might judge from
the tinkling of it. On another side, it was protected from the bitter
blast by the poor-house, thus judiciously placed for the benefit of
the invalided paupers. It was a dreary evening in February, and
everything was looking chilly and black, except, by the bye, an early
primrose peering out from the side of a crumbling tomb in the very
darkest corner of the whole--that looked fresh and bright enough.

I suspect the sort of humour I was now in, to have been occasioned
either by my illness, the death-bed I had just witnessed, or the
separation for a whole week to come from a person for whom I had
lately found that I felt "a deep and tender friendship."

About thirty miles from my parish, lived my nearest neighbours, and
with whom I had become rather intimate. So much was this the case,
that this place gradually assumed the character of what I recollect
"home" once used to have for me, many years ago. To this house I used
frequently to canter over on a Sunday's evening with all the delight
of a school-boy returning from a detested school.

Until now I had thought that my benevolent host had here been my
greatest friend; but there was another for whom, to my infinite
surprise, I found that I felt far more intensely. Yet it was odd that,
in her presence, I was apparently cold and inattentive, and thus,
perhaps, it might have ever been, had she not unguardedly attracted my
attention by what she meant for a severe rebuke. I happened to be
walking with her and a gentleman whose wife had lately experienced, on
some occasion, a narrow escape of her life; "and so Miss Bassett I had
nearly become a gentleman free of incumbrance, and then I should have
come and proposed to you."

"But then I should have tried to thwart you, for the mere sake of
opposition," was my rather too free and easy reply.

"Oh, Mr. Graham," she answered, "you might have set your mind quite at
rest on the subject, for I should have preferred Mr. Goodriche a
thousand times before you."

"For what possible reason, Miss Bassett?" I asked, in sober earnest.

"Because I could have led a quiet, happy life with him--now perhaps I
might have liked you, and then you would have immediately behaved like
a wretch, and broken my heart."


[1] One who kills game exclusively to lessen his butcher's bill.


It was on my way to London, in company with her father, that, as the
sun rose, I caught a glimpse in the horizon of the hill, on the other
side of which the abode of my family was situated--I may not call it
home, for it is too true, that "without hearts there is no home."
Still, how I must have loved the spot! its woods, its lawns, and its
valleys! No sooner had the steamer touched at a port, than I left my
luggage to go on with it as it might, and jumped out, in order to take
one more peep at a place which set at defiance every recollection that
I could force to rise up in judgment against it.

Having walked twenty miles, I stopped at a public-house within a mile
and a half of the place, for some refreshment, as well as to await the
darkness of night. At ten o'clock I sallied forth, and the first of
the paternal estate on which I trespassed was a large wood, every tree
of which, I might say, was an old acquaintance.

Here, then, what a contrast was I conscious of! Some years back, I
used to range this very wood, the sworn friend of the keeper, in
order to detect the poacher; and now I was listening to every rustle,
and peering along the gloomy paths, lest I myself should be detected
by my former ally. So much did my fears on this point increase on me,
that I took to the open fields, and gained the park.

Here at once, in spite of everything, I felt myself to be on my own
property,--roaming about in ecstacy--visiting every tree that I had
planted and fenced round years ago. Each of these I pruned, and even
had the temerity to steal into the green-house, which was close to the
library, and procure the gardener's saw, with which I climbed up into
an old Scotch fir, and dismembered a large limb which over-hung and
injured a lime-tree I had planted in the dell below. Having sawed the
limb into portable pieces, I concealed the whole in an adjoining

Notwithstanding the lights in the windows evinced that the inmates had
not yet retired to rest, I sauntered over every part of the lawn, and
at last walked directly up to the drawing-room window. The blind was
down, but the shutters unclosed. By stooping close to the ground, and
peeping beneath the blind, I could survey the whole room.

Here were two daughters and their father. The eldest was fast asleep
in an arm-chair; the younger one working, and their father, as usual
reading a volume of Sir Walter Scott, the well known binding of which
I at once recognised. I could not get a sight of his face, for the
book he held before him; but I saw his forehead and thin silvery hair.

What was now my surprise, to hear a carriage, at this time of the
night, driving towards the house! I instantly placed myself behind a
tree, close to the road-side. Curious to state, at that very spot the
carriage suddenly stopped, and I might have touched it with my hand.
The horses had gibbed, owing to the steepness of the ascent; and on
her inquiring into the cause, I immediately recognised the voice of
another daughter, who, with her husband, was coming on a visit to her
father from a distant county.

I now returned to my public-house, and was off at dawn in a coach for
town. Byron felt from experience, when he sighed, "and oh, the utter
solitude of passing your own door without a welcome, finding your
hearth turned into a tombstone, and around it the ashes of your early
hopes, lying cold and deserted."

In all and each of my various excursions, in foul weather or in fair,
I had ever one invariable companion. This was my horse, and his name
was Clodhopper. He was a light bay, with a pale face. Our intimacy
commenced under the following circumstances:

One Saturday afternoon I was staying on a visit with a family, many
miles from my church, and being therefore in great need of a horse, I
at once went to look through the stables of an extensive horse-dealer
in a neighbouring town. Having ascertained the price of several
likely-looking horses, I ordered a large powerful one, for better
examination, to be led into the yard. It was not unnecessary
in this case; for the animal had one totally-extinguished and
dreadfully-disfigured eye, a broken knee, both fore-legs fired, and a
conspicuous spavin.

"He's a little blemished, Mr. Turner," I observed.

"Why, how, Sir, can you, or any other gentleman, expect to see a
great, fine, upstanding horse like that ere, but what has a some'ut?"

But as I did, I requested to see another. For this one he asked but
eighteen pounds. With my own eyes I could see that he stood above
fifteen hands, was only just coming six, and was a strong, hardy
animal, with a written warranty for soundness. All this being quite
clear, I could not possibly account for the lowness of the price,
otherwise than by feeling quite confident that there must be "a

While thus deliberating, "Mr. Graham," said the dealer, "will you mind
what I says? You'll never be married--you never can make up your mind
to nothun, I see."

On my getting into the saddle, to try him along a few streets, Mr.
Turner added this very disinterested advice--

"Now, don't you go and hammer a good horse like that ere over the hard
stones. A parcel of little ragged, dirty-nosed boys, run athwart, and
upsots a respectable individual."

I did hammer him, wasn't "upsot," and bought Clodhopper.

There were two accomplishments in which I think he was
unrivalled--falling down without breaking his knees, and in running
backwards. In performing the first feat, which, on an average,
occurred twice in three weeks, he fell, without a moment's hesitation,
directly on his head, and instantly took a somersault on his back; so
that literally he never had time to break his knees, though he broke
the saddle now and then. The second, he could perform at a frightful
pace; and the more one whipped and spurred, the faster he would go,
and never stop till he came in contact with something. One of these I
suspect to have been the "some'ut"--unless, by-the-bye, it had been
the whooping-cough, or something very like it.

But Clodhopper's chief recommendation was, that whether in winter or
in summer, with oats or without them, he was ever the same--stoical
and indefatigable, so long as he was on the top of his legs. When
eventually I had no further use for his services, I sold him for a
leader to a coach proprietor, for seventeen pounds and a dozen of bad
champagne; but I fear that the unfortunate wheeler in his rear must,
by this time, have tumbled over him a lamentable number of times.

There was another rather prominent character in my establishment. This
was "Old Bob."

The master whom he served was a neighbouring farmer, but I frequently
obtained his services. His appearance was that of a veteran bull-dog,
seamed with the traces of youthful strife, but in reality he was a
pointer. Unfortunately, too, in his younger days, the stable-door had
jambed his tail off within two inches of its origin, but still Bob
flattered himself that it was a tail, for he affected to brush the
flies away with it.

I think he had a high opinion of my shooting, for, whenever I was so
inclined, he despised the society of any one else. As he was a selfish
fellow, I suspect that I was indebted for his services to interested
motives. He was a pot-hunter, like myself, and would instantly swallow
anything I shot, could he but reach it first. He could certainly trot
very fast, but that was the best pace he could accomplish, and had we
anything like a fair start, I could distance him; and so convinced
did he become of this, that the moment he found me abreast of him, he
would give up the race in despair.

Considering this and other infirmities, for he was stone deaf and very
near-sighted, he was highly creditable to his profession.

Though he frequently found game under his very nose, he was perfectly
aware, though his mouth watered to taste it, that he had not a chance
until I came up and shot it. He was, in consequence, the staunchest
dog in the country. Only once, in this respect, did I know him guilty
of a breach of decorum, and that too, I must say, under very
aggravating circumstances.

One sultry day, at the expense of a great deal of time, and still more
trouble, he had carefully footed an old cock pheasant round three
sides of a very extensive field, and at last brought him to a
stand-still in a bunch of nettles, and was now patiently waiting for
me to come up and help him. In the meantime, an unfortunate terrier
had chanced upon the trail of the pheasant, and now came yapping along
the ditch as hard as he could scamper. Of course, Bob being as deaf as
a post, was quite unaware of this circumstance, and as the terrier
brushed rudely by him, poor Bob looked so mortified! He wasn't going
to find game for him, so "the devil take the hindmost," became the
order of the day, and had I not shot the pheasant, which they put up
between them, Bob was so angry that he would have wrung the very soul
out of little Whisky.

After the fatigues of a long day, Bob was dozing in the farm-yard,
when the team arrived in the evening from market. Nobody saw Bob, and
Bob couldn't hear the wagon, which the next moment passed over his
neck, and broke it.


The sole thing connected with my days on this spot, attended by a
satisfactory feeling, is the remembrance of my long and quiet
evenings, when I did happen to spend the week in the parish. It was
the only period of my life that I read to any effect, and I must own,
that even then it was no fault of mine, for it was impossible to do

I used to rise at one o'clock in the afternoon, and go to bed at five
the next morning. As to late hours, as it is termed, I have no sort of
compunction, so long as I do not spend more than the necessary quantum
of the twenty-four in bed.

I was agreeably surprised with the number of works I crept through;
among which, my favourites were Byron's works throughout, with his
life by Moore; Butler's Analogy, White's Farriery, and Dwight's
Theology, which last is as full of poetry as Childe Harold.

The last half hour of each night or morning, I invariably enjoyed with
my feet on the fender, in dreamy contemplation of the past, wreathed
in the fumes of a cigar, and soothed by the lowly and desultory
murmurs of the geese in the straw-yard beneath my window.

At the distance of about two miles from me, was Winthra, a seat of his
Grace the Duke of Northumberland. Though the smallest of his several
domains, it was the most beautiful; nor was it diminutive, being six
miles in circumference. This paradise was placed in the centre of a
country which was hideous in the extreme. Here then, was "the diamond
of the desert."

We may remember that, in olden times, the amorous Edgar, on the fame
of Ordulph's lovely daughter, despatched a confidant to her distant
home in order to ascertain whether her beauty was of such
transcendency as report declared it.

In this spot, then, the ancient seat of the Earls of Devon, the future
queen, Elfrida, lived. A park it has ever been, from that day to this;
and as one winds his silent steps between the stems of the giant and
ruined oaks, the impression is, that here the spirits of Druids linger
and roam as the last refuge left them untouched by the hand of man.

It contained the two sides of an extensive valley, sweeping gradually
down to the Winthra, a beautiful trout-stream murmuring along the
ravine. The only inhabitant of the enormous mansion was a worn out and
pensioned butler; so that my sole companions of the solitude were the
deer, and these being never or seldom meddled with, had increased to
multitudes; and when one observed the huge and lofty walls with which
the whole was shut in, he felt indeed in Rasselas's happy valley.

Here, then, have I passed days and days, without seeing one soul,
reading, sketching, fishing, and bathing. Only once was I sensible of
an intruder.

One bright moonlight night, I was passing along by the banks of the
stream, when I observed on the other side something which I was
confident, from familiar acquaintance with the spot, was not wont to
be there. As it was lying on the pebbly beach, partly in the chequered
shade of a beech-tree, and partly in the water, I was totally at a
loss to imagine what it might be, but had a strong foreboding that it
was a human body. A little lower down there was a shallow, through
which I passed; and on reaching the spot, I must acknowledge that I
was equally horrified to find that the object of my anxiety was a
freshly-killed deer. The poor thing had evidently come here to drink,
when it had been seized upon by some dog; and I cannot express my
mixture of rage and remorse as I watched the damp, warm vapour slowly
rising from the lacerated and bloody flank, and contemplated the
beautiful but dimmed eye, glazed by the pale moonlight. Our peaceful
sanctuary was violated!

I borrowed the very old gun of the very old butler, and watched for
the moment of my revenge till daybreak, but it was never satiated.

A few months after this, having received an invitation to a delightful
residence near the sea, and at the same time to meet some families of
the county, among whom was to be "my own dear somebody," Seymour and I
had set off in high glee with such a break in the monotony of our
monastic habits.

That afternoon, then, I was riding by the side of this "somebody." A
sort of confidence had arisen between us, very delightful and
unaccountable; except simply that, on one side of me, as I rode along
the edge of the cliffs, there was the Atlantic looking lowering and
stormy, mingled in the horizon with the still drearier sky, broken or
relieved by the contrast of a very lovely girl.

At this moment it was blowing and raining heavily, and, as she
cantered along, my admiration of her was anything but diminished, when
I witnessed the cheerful and good-natured indifference with which she
treated a boisterous day of "bleak and chill December."

Being an ardent sort of little personage, she had been descanting with
considerable animation and enthusiasm on a subject which affected her
deeply. Her hair, completely dripping, was hanging down her cheek, now
freshened by the coldness of the pelting rain. I cannot conceive how
anything could look more beautiful than this girl did at that moment.
At the same time though she appeared serious and melancholy, and, I
think, a little out of humour too, while her hat, which was too large
for her, had, from the wet, become quite shapeless, and appeared
pressed down over her face, so that I could not forbear laughing, in
spite of everything, though at the moment I felt wofully wretched!

Interrupting herself, and looking up towards the clouds, she pointed
out to me, with her whip, a portion of blue sky, perhaps intimating a
cessation of the storm. Regardless of either, I coolly as
thoughtlessly put my hand out to take hers! but owing to the action of
our horses, missed it. She never saw the attempt, and I narrowly
escaped making a great fool of myself.

The most egregious act of folly, I think, a man can be guilty of, is
to allow himself to meet with "a refusal."

We may easily have tact enough to know, beforehand, the real state and
probable result of the case.

In the present one, this girl and her family would have seen me at the
bottom of the Red Sea, ere my hopes and wishes on the subject had met
with, "a consummation so devoutly to be wished."

Two days afterwards, I was standing once more on the deck of a
steamer, with my carpet-bag at my feet, bound for a foreign port.

The Church I have resigned for ever--my parish, Winthra Park, both
deserted--and my humble abode! "its hearth is desolate."



We are aware that, when we "train up a child in the way he should go,
he will not depart from it;" but fortunately, when it is that in which
he ought not to go, he certainly will depart from it when he can.

Thus having consumed nearly half my life--at all events, the _better_
half--at a public school and the University, preparatory to a
profession, my antipathy for which was exactly proportioned by my
inaptitude for it, the sole result is, that I can now answer to the
definition of a real gentleman, "one who has no visible means of a

I begin to suspect, then, that it may be, now and then, just worth
while to condescend and observe how a child's disposition may incline
him to go; and though, as an humble disciple of John Locke, I am quite
sensible of the absurdity of "innate ideas," yet it is very evident
that, at an early period of our lives, we evince traits which are
infallibly indicative of the bent of our dispositions, which are just
as our natures may have been constituted, and this bent is better
known by the name of genius.

Now it has been beneficently, and I will say beautifully ordained,
that an individual, by gratifying this instinctive impulse of his
genius, not only augments his own happiness, but that of his species
also, and, I sometimes fondly hope, even that of the Creator himself.

Over an extent of country is distributed a variety of soils, one
adapted for one kind of produce, another for another, and the
aggregate may amount to so much. Counteract this arrangement, and
surely the result will be far inferior. Indeed, where is the
agriculturist who is not strictly attentive as well as acquiescent to
this tendency?

How exactly, then, do I imagine this to apply to the variety of
dispositions among ourselves; and if we follow, with regard to their
natures, the same economy, then shall we see how simply true it is,
that when we train up a child in the way he _should_ go, he will not
depart from it.

The conviction of this truth makes me curious to ascertain the way I
ought to have gone; not that I am unaware of my present tastes, but
which, probably, are the mere effects of education, and consequent
and acquired habits, while my early ones have long since been lost or
"warped by the kind severity of the pedagogue."

Possessing a tolerable memory with regard to events, I will, then,
just rummage about its lumber-room, and see if I cannot tumble out
some long-forgotten recollection on the subject, if I may so express
myself; but I sincerely trust that it may not turn out to be a
tendency for the poet, or some such inclination incompatible with the
fortunes of the youngest of younger brothers.

After some pains to effect this object, I fear I must conclude that I
have never evinced any marked genius, one way or another, unless it be
for that of the vagrant! What a shock to my theory!

Though an idle boy, I was ever a restless one. Whenever I had an
opportunity, I was certain to give my nursery-maid the slip, and
ramble through the fields and coppices, though at the cost of a
whipping, or, at all events, the deprivation of my supper. I could
never see a distant hill, but I longed to reach its summit to see what
was on the other side; and had I been more conversant with holy writ,
I should have been ever sighing, "O, that I had wings like the dove,
for then would I flee away and be at rest." In short, every spot in
the distance seemed to be more sunny and delightful than that which I
at the moment occupied. For hours would I lean my forehead against the
cold glass of the nursery window, and contemplate the noble hill that
swelled in the horizon. There, I had no doubt, was the end of the
world. Then would I conjecture whether it were possible to get there
and back again, and whether life was long enough for such a voyage. I
then fixed my eye on a large beech-tree--which, blessings on it, is
still standing--that I conjectured to be placed about midway. I next
counted the number of fields between us, in which I included the lawn.
I knew that it was not a very great voyage to traverse this last to
the Ha-ha and back. Following up these data, I arrived at the
astounding conclusion that the whole original expedition might be
accomplished in one day!

This, then, I had resolved to do; but which, after many failures, I
never accomplished until several years subsequently, when I determined
not only to effect this distance, four whole miles, but to push on to
the sea-side, seventeen miles beyond. Now, this was a voyage, and I
designed to perform it unknown to any one. As I was ignorant of the
probable duration of such an undertaking, I was anxious to take a
sufficient wardrobe, and therefore required a valise; but not being
able to procure one, I purloined a long leather-legging of my
father's, buttoned it up, and stuffed it with my clothes, and which
now, when turned in at the ends, and strapped to the saddle with the
buttons downward, would have imposed itself as a respectable valise on
the most experienced "travelling gentleman." The next morning, I rose
before the sun, and squeezing through the bars of the stable window,
threw out the saddle and bridle, went into the park up to my knees in
dew, caught poor little Forester, and was away, while all at home were
still fast asleep.

"Men are but children of a larger growth;" and in lieu of Horsa's-hill
in front of my home, I have now extended my ambition to a region,
which, let me confess, without any particular reason, I have pictured
to myself as the nucleus of glaciers and avalanches--of mountains and
mighty rivers. At all events, thither will I now hasten, if it was
only to support my theory--at any rate, that I may enjoy the credit of
being throughout a consistent character--though, by-the-bye, I might
just as well have been the dreaded poet!

On examining my map, I found that the shortest way to the spot I had
in view was to go across the paddock and the Downs for the sea-side,
where I went on board for St. Malo, and from this corner of France I
must find my way across to Geneva, at the other corner.

The passage across the Channel was, as I expected, far from agreeable;
for when a man wishes his "native land good night" in single
blessedness, with but a slender purse in his pocket--and as his
country's shores diminish, while sea-sickness increases--he cannot but
cast a lingering look towards the scene of his youth far behind him,
which he is leaving, perhaps for ever, to wander he knows not whither.

Thus have I paid for that liberty, which has enabled me to explore my
solitary way through the most interesting countries of Europe. During
my pilgrimage, as I have traversed the monotonous plains of La Vendeé,
the awful grandeur of the Alps, and the lovely yet sublime scenery of
Italy, under every aspect--in summer and in winter, in sunshine and in
storm--so have I, at times, been elated by the buoyant hopes of the
present, as well as bowed down to the dust when I looked forward to
the future. I have risen with the sun, my spirits vying with the
freshness of the dawn; but how often "has my sun of hope set without a
ray, while the dark night of dim despair shadowed only phantoms!"
Alone, and on foot, I have accomplished thousands of miles over
France, Piedmont, Savoy, Switzerland, Tyrol, Lombardy, and Italy--I
have toiled along the dusty road, beneath the noontide heat of an
Italian sun, or wandered over trackless Alpine heights through the
midnight storm--have rested on princely couches, or on the wheaten
straw of the peasant--I have joined the mazourka in palaces, or the
tarantala in the wilds of Calabria--I have revelled in the scenery of
Claude, or brooded over the lofty solitudes of Salvator Rosa and the
brigand--I have experienced the frivolity of France, the dissipation
of Florence, the profligacy of the Venetian, the degeneracy of the
Roman, and vindictiveness of the Neapolitan, the insincerity of the
impoverished noble, and the truth of honest poverty--I have wondered
in the gaudy sanctuary of the Papist, teeming with devotees, or
pondered amid the nobler simplicity of the Heathen's Temple in the
deserts of malaria.

Like the Bohemian, I had, indeed, dearly purchased this liberty! at
the cost of every tie, even of religion itself, though perhaps
unconscious of it at the time. I then enjoyed robust health, the
main-spring of scepticism. Deprived, then, of the source of true
happiness, and without any defined object in view, the career before
me was a dreary one--though for the present my spirits were buoyed up
by the excitement attendant upon novelty.


My main guide through France was the Loire, which led me by a
meandering route of nearly five hundred miles to the neighbourhood of

Knowing, at that time, so little of the language of those who
surrounded me, as actually to envy the fluency of a parrot which I
heard chattering with, I suspect, the true Parisian accent, I can
scarcely account for the feeling of thorough nonchalance with which I
commenced my pilgrimage, and which ever accompanied me to its
conclusion. It was seldom even that I was sensible of loneliness,
though I must bear witness to the almost inspired truth of the poet,
when he says:--

    "But midst the crowd, the hum, the shock of men,
       To hear, to see, to feel, and to possess,
     And roam along, the world's tired denizen,
       With none who bless us, none whom we can bless,
     This is to be alone--this, this is solitude!"

And no one but the solitary pedestrian, entering a crowded city in a
foreign land, can know this intense loneliness; but--

    "To climb the trackless mountain all unseen,
       With the wild flock that never needs a fold;
     Alone o'er steeps and foaming falls to lean,
       This is not solitude;"

and I could scarcely feel that I had even left my home, when, towards
the termination of my first day's walk, I came suddenly upon our old
friend Blue Beard's Castle! Le Chateau de Barbe Bleu, as it was here
designated. Not only was I for the instant transported back to my own
country, but to the very nursery; for here, "once upon a time," lived
the original and redoubted Blue Beard, the dreaded hero of our nursery
romance; and, doubtless, I enjoyed the same lovely and peaceful
prospect, though with somewhat different feelings, as "Sister Anne"
some centuries foregone.

Never, by any event, were my early days brought so vividly fresh
before my mind's eye, as at this moment. In those times, to my
recollection, the sun seemed to have been ever shining, the birds ever
singing, the trees ever in leaf, and everyone equally kind, and it
turns out to be but a silvery regretted dream, never to be re-dreamed.
But I comforted myself with the reflection of a better man--"after
all, the same blue sky bends o'er all of us, though the point above me
might as well beam a little brighter blue." But I have found even an
Italian sky to pall at last, to let us have as pleasing a variety of
cloud and sunshine, as the better taste of Providence will afford us
during our little day, and let us be content.

But the impartiality of Providence towards us in this respect, is very
conspicuous, or a little examination into the subject will clear away
what few doubts we may entertain concerning it; otherwise, we might
feel a difficulty in reconciling the various degrees of happiness
which we are apt to suppose prevailed throughout the world, or to
exist at present between different persons, with our notions of
justice, when we revert from the present refined and peaceful period,
to those of barbarism and bloodshed, or think of the pampered alderman
and the overworked and starving pauper.

Has, then, the general happiness of mankind actually varied with
different epochs? Were the lauded golden ages so much brighter than
these of the baser metal? No more so, perhaps, than, in spite of
Homer's assertion, were the heroes who contended on the plains of Troy
superior in stature or force to those on the plains of Waterloo. As
the human constitution accommodates itself to all climes, so our sense
of felicity fits itself to external circumstances; and thus the
quantity of happiness, or rather, sense of enjoyment, existing at
various ages of the world, may not have differed more than that which
we suppose to exist between contemporaneous individuals; and this
cannot be very great when we doubt whether the peasant would barter
his poverty for the wealth of the prince, on the condition, also, of
adding to his own years the fifteen or twenty additional winters that
have silvered the hair of his superior. Thus, at all events, a few
fleeting years annihilates the extremes of their lot.

The truth is, the cup of happiness is very limited, and that of most
men as replete as their sense of enjoyment can admit of; more than
this is superfluous, wasted, and unappreciated, or even, as it were,
condensed by the feeling of satiety which ensues; while, on the other
hand, the rarer sources of happiness to another man will expand and
fill the cup, blessed as he is with an "elasticity of spirits."
Happiness, too, being for the most part placed in perspective, becomes
equally distant or inaccessible to all, and seems to have been
purposely placed beyond our reach for the same reason that the old man
feigned to have concealed the treasure beneath the soil in order that
his sons might become rich by the culture of it, which they
necessarily, though unwittingly, effected in their search for the
gold; and thus our only happiness consists in our efforts to attain
the same, though the instant we become sensible of this, we find that
we have then indeed exhausted the cup, and like the rest that have
done so before us, take a long breath, and sigh, "all is vanity!" and
begin to think more intently and exclusively about the attainment of
our wishes in another world; for--

    "Quand on a tout perdu, quand on n'a plus d'espoir,
     La vie est un opprobre, et la mort un devoir."


I think that our Creator never meant us to be contented, and that we
should always have something to look forward to and fret about--"It is
thy vocation, Hal,"--or we sink into apathy, and become averse to the
prospect of the last great change. "Well, Mr. Graham," said a once
contented, but now expiring Nimrod to me, "after all you have said,
give me a thousand a-year, and the old bald-faced mare again, and I
don't care if I never see the kingdom of Heaven." Or, as Johnson
parodied the enjoyment of the savage--"With this cow by my side, and
this grass at my feet, what can a bull wish for more?" Contentment!
Nothing with vitality must, or ever will be contented, save a
vegetable, or a toad in the centre of a rock, and he probably is
sighing, with Sterne's starling, "I can't get out!"

Occupation seems to be the original, or true source of all enjoyment;
though for this word I would substitute that of progress, and implying
successful occupation. My friend and I each possess an estate of six
thousand pounds, but the former lately possessed twenty thousand, and
I nothing. Which of us is now the more happily situated?

Hence arises the happiness of the saint-like and self-denying hermit;
his complaint, "I can't get out!" lasts as long as he does, while he
progresses with every flying moment; and conversely, the most unhappy
man is the idle and irreligious one. Happiness was mingled with sorrow
when Gibbon penned this most interesting but melancholy passage on the
termination of twenty years' incessant labour, and which should give
us a deep insight into the philosophy of life.

"It was," says he, "on the day, or rather night, of the 27th of June,
1787, between the hours of eleven and twelve, that I wrote the last
lines of the last page, in a summer-house in my garden. After laying
down my pen, I took several turns in a _berceau_, or covered walk of
acacias, which commands a prospect of the country, the lake, and the
mountains. The air was temperate, the sky was serene; the silver orb
of the moon was reflected from the waters, and all nature was silent.
I will not dissemble the first emotions of joy on the recovery of my
freedom, and perhaps the establishment of my fame. But my pride was
soon humbled, and a sober melancholy was spread over my mind, by the
idea that I had taken an everlasting leave of an old and agreeable
companion; and that whatsoever might be the future fate of my history,
the life of the historian might be short and precarious."

Othello's _occupation_ was gone. I made a pilgrimage to this spot on
the banks of the Lake of Geneva, and reached it towards the close of a
summer's evening, and saw all as the historian had described it; on
returning the next morning, the arbour and its creepers were lying
prostrate on the ground!

But the general and more prosperous lot--for a beneficent Creator has
willed a preponderance of happiness--is pictured by, probably, the
most pertinent and poetical simile ever devised. Keeping in view the
career of man on earth, "the river," says Pliny, "springs from the
earth, but its origin is in heaven. Its beginnings are insignificant,
and its infancy frivolous; it plays among the flowers of a meadow; it
waters a garden, or turns a little mill. Gathering strength in its
youth, it sometimes becomes wild and impetuous. Impatient of the
restraints it meets with in the hollows among the mountains, it is,
perhaps, restless and turbulent, quick in its turnings, and unsteady
in its course. In its more advanced age, it comes abroad into the
world, journeying with more prudence and discretion, through
cultivated fields; and no longer headstrong in its course, but
yielding to circumstances, it winds round what would trouble it to
overcome and remove. It passes through populous cities, and all the
busy haunts of man, tendering its services on every side, and becoming
the support and ornament of the country. Now increased by numerous
alliances, and advanced in its course, it loves peace and quiet, and
in majestic silence rolls on its mighty waters, until it is laid to
rest in the vast abyss."


So long as I followed the course of the Loire, I was each day
surrounded, though not by magnificent, yet by a beautiful and happy
kind of scenery; but as often as I quitted its banks for a few days,
in order that I might pursue a more direct line towards the mountains
of Savoy, which now began dimly to appear in the horizon, so often was
I compelled to pass over a level and treeless soil, and with the
captive of twenty years imprisonment, when led into the street only to
be executed at the other end, I began to sigh, "O, that I might but
look on a green tree once more!" And I shall long remember the
cheerful and delightful sensation, as I again drew near the verdant
tracts, and then listened to the distant sound of the rapid Loire.

During one of these detours, but through a well-wooded plain, on my
way towards the old city of Bourges, I had long been pacing through a
deep and dusty lane formed purposely to exclude every breath of air,
while the sun appeared to be heaping coals of fire on my devoted head.
I was at length compelled to sit down considerably affected by the
intense heat and leg-weariness. The day was now somewhat advanced,
while, to all appearance, there was no termination to the silent
woods, or, perhaps, forests on every side.

    "A night in the greenwood spent,
     Is but to-morrow's merriment;"

but I was now so annoyed by thirst that I was again compelled to rise
and persevere in toiling on my way, until I was so fortunate as to
meet with a man, whose rough and wild exterior portended anything or
everything sooner than such satisfactory tidings as I was sufficiently
ingenious to extract from him. Conducting me a little in advance, he
pointed towards a distant but gigantic cross, rearing itself up into
the blue sky, and then left me, apparently confident that I should
find everything needful at the foot of that cross.

Having reached this in about half an hour, I observed a monastery
situated in a valley beneath me. This, then, I conjectured was to be
my _auberge_; for, on looking around, nothing was to be seen save the
aforesaid interminable glades, and, what was still somewhat
perplexing, the monastery itself was apparently tenantless. Having
seated myself in the shade, in order to contemplate some contrivance
by which, in a respectful manner, I might gain admittance and reveal
my necessities, during perhaps an hour's suspense, I recognised not a
token of habitation, until at length a bell lazily tolled, and echoed
among the solitary woods.

Descending into the valley, I now approached the portal, within which
I found a person with a brown freckled face, enveloped in a cowl of
the same colour, seated motionless on a cold stone bench behind the
gate. For the instant, I was the rude Gaul, surveying the mysterious
senator of the forum; but without insulting his beard, or wasting
words on the subject, I followed my silent conductor through several
extensive corridors, into a spacious and very habitable salon, where a
remarkable and interesting person shortly made his appearance,
approaching with his hand proffered in token of welcome, while his
face beamed with everything one could imagine to be associated with
benevolence and charity. He seemed to divine by instinct that I was an
Englishman, as promptly as he did by my embarrassment that I was no
Frenchman, addressing me in my own language with great fluency,
though, as was to be expected, with a considerable accent. Informing
me that I was welcome to his monastery, he withdrew to order some
refreshment. Returning shortly with a monk, he announced my supper;
and I shall not forget the sense of humiliation I experienced, when
compelled to sit at table and be attended on by two persons, each of
whom was half a century my senior, and one of them that might grace
the proudest aristocracy of Europe, of which, indeed, this abbot, Pere
Antoine, was once a member in his youthful days, at the court of Louis

The monk who had now joined us proved to be my countryman, which
circumstance had induced his Superior to grant him the indulgence of
entertaining the stranger. I may be permitted to say indulgence, for,
with a face glowing with delight, he let me know that he had not
listened to his native tongue for fifteen years.

My supper consisted of broth, potatoes, and artichokes, which also
comprised my breakfast, as well as dinner, during my sojourn of three
days in this monastery, where they esteem even fish and eggs to be too
carnal. Such is the austerity of their lives, that this monk, who was
their physician, informed me that it required three entire years to
become inured to it, but that those who stood the ordeal mostly
attained a very great age. Their clothing, food, and medicines are
each confined to such as they themselves can manufacture from the
produce of the surrounding acres, of which they are the cultivators.
As the sun went down, the Abbot and his companion, wishing me
good-night, retired to rest. On approaching the window, I observed
another monk sauntering from the burial-ground, where, with his
hands, in conformity to their daily custom, he had been scooping out
his final resting-place.

Never have I been so conscious of intense loneliness and solitude! It
was now about midnight, and the moon was shining brightly on the Abbey
lake. Not a leaf was stirring, and all things as still as death, while
the clear evening star shone cold and motionless over the dark edge of
the forest, towering black and gloomy in the silent distance. I was as
"the last man." Not a soul was breathing nearer to me than the poor
old monks, who, hours ago, had crept to their dormitory in the
farthest cloister of the Abbey.

The order among whom I was, was that of La Trappe, which is by far the
most austere sect in Christendom. They allow themselves but five
hours' sleep, and that on a bare board, without putting off their
clothes. They perform masses each morning, from half-past two until
six o'clock; they deny themselves any meat whatever, their meal
invariably consisting of some oaten bread, with a little poor wine of
their own growing, disguised in water; and--they never speak!

When we reflect that what is not only the great characteristic between
man and the brute, but perhaps the most wonderful and beneficent gift
of God to man should be thus rejected, we cannot but be possessed
with a very sorry opinion of such an unjustifiable institution.

I have now spent a few days with two of them, both of whom were as
agreeable, truly well-bred men, as I ever met with; but what is the
more remarkable is that these two old men, who have lived, or rather
but just existed under such privations, were as good-tempered,
kind-hearted old persons, as it is capable for human frailty to
attain; and when we consider that each day is a day of penance, and
that, too, a monotonous penance, with not a prospect beyond their
walls, and none within, save their burial-ground, perhaps there is
nothing in the character of man so unaccountable as such overwhelming
immolation, unless it be that they esteem this life as so
insignificant, such a nothingness in comparison to eternity, and that
endless glories are to be earned by, comparatively speaking, momentary
deprivation, that they endure it as martyrs. And when, as I was, in
the stillness of the crumbling Abbey, while its bell tolled the hour
and reverberated through the courts and deserted cloisters, I
remembered that these poor old men, so kind, so hospitable to the
stranger, so denying, so unsparing to themselves, had here buried
their youth under such belief, I could not but from my heart wish them
compensation as extreme as their delusion.


On reaching Bourges, my attention was attracted by an object widely
differing from the venerable Abbot. Judging from my own experience, I
may confidently affirm that not an Englishman quits his country, but
he instantly becomes sensible of the comparative plainness of the
fairer sex. I need hardly say that I allude to that of the lower
orders; for as I was circumstanced, I was but little qualified to
estimate the attributes of the more exclusive circles, only one of
whom I chanced to meet, or rather to approach, during my ramble
through France. Whether it was from unexpectedly meeting with a
moderately humanised countenance suddenly appearing among those I
observed daily around me, or that I had met with a face exquisitely
lovely, I will not determine. I had been awaiting the arrival of the
Mal Poste for Marseilles, the passengers of which were expected to
join the table d'hôte. For the last ten minutes I had been
contemplating a dark, muddy court-yard beneath the window. The
travellers having arrived and taken their seats at the table, I sat
down, and was instantly startled by the face that I observed opposite
to me, contrasted, as it chanced to be, with a dark unshaven one on
either side of it. The salon was nearly as sombre as midnight, and
there was a delicate and oval face, brightened by a pair of large soft
eyes, "with fire rolling at the bottom of them!" Long, long did I
deplore my deficiency of the organ of language; for with such a person
for my _vis-a-vis_, I could open my mouth but to eat!

We are little aware how exclusively we derive our opinion of others
from their appearance and manner, and so independently of the
sentiments they utter. Until we live among those with whom we cannot
converse, it is impossible to be sensible of this truth; but I am
confident, from long experience, that it is the fact. I have formed as
correct an opinion of a German's character, not a word of whose
language was intelligible to me, as of the Englishman's beside him,
and perhaps more so, as not being misled by what he might choose to
advance. And in support of this assertion, I will just mention, that I
have subsequently met with foreigners, whom it has given me great
pleasure to meet with, again and again, and that a mutual regard has
existed between us, though neither has, for a moment, been verbally
intelligible to the other.

As, then, it is so possible thus to estimate a person, I will just
select the one opposite to me as an interesting example, for I well
remember her. She appeared to be about seventeen, and radiant with
youth and freshness, but accompanied with a delicacy and slenderness,
as excessive as could be consistent with health. Her manner was
completely fascinating, and her voice particularly so, when you
observed the lips and teeth from whence it floated. She was a sort of
fond person, and yet with a great share of humour--very talented, but
all in delightful subjection to a refined and delicate feeling. Alas!
the morrow's sun saw us, by roads as opposite as our future paths
through life, departing from Bourges for ever.

Bidding farewell, even to a disagreeable person, when you know it to
be _for ever_, causes a blank, unpleasant sensation, and therefore I
was now weighed down with a feeling of desolation quite oppressive.
The sole thing that seemed to cling to me was my knapsack. No sooner
have I ever formed any sort of regard for any sort of person, than
Geoffrey Crayon's words, "Tom, you're wanted," dole upon my ear, and I
must away. This is the curse of the traveller. And now what has since
been the fate of this person? Confusion overwhelm the clogs and
procrastination of civilised society! As Geoffrey Crayon once more
bluntly states it, "Done," said the devil--"Done," said Tom
Walker--so they shook hands, and struck a bargain; and why could not
she and I have done the same! But she has gone, and that her days of
life might be brightened with cloudless serenity, no one so ardently
prayed, as a homeless and hopeless unknown; for I found that--

    "The heart like the tendril accustomed to cling,
       Let it grow where it will cannot flourish alone,
     But must lean to the nearest, loveliest thing
       It can twine itself round, and make closely its own."

And, to make the matter worse, I had also at this time finally to
separate from my oldest companions, a pair of shoes. They formed the
last relic of my English wardrobe, and had borne me over a long
distance. Having really an attachment for them, I placed them high up
in the fork of a Spanish chestnut tree, whither I could not help again
climbing up, that I might take a last look at them as they rested pale
with the dust of leagues, uncomplaining though deserted.

In a few days more I had reached the heart of Switzerland; but what a
contrast had I experienced in passing from one country to the other!
The whole of France, with the exception of my ever happy Loire, must
surely be the most monotonous and unpicturesque tract of the whole
continent; while Switzerland presents, at every turn, a combination
of the paradisaical and of terrific sterility. Smiling patriarchal
pastures, walled in by granite mountains, frowning in eternal silence
and solitude, save when thundering with the awful avalanche. I said
that their piles of granite were barren; but what a moment is it to
explore your way companionless, and find them to be the source and
spring of richness and fertility to Europe, as the sun is of warmth
and light to the world--to pick your doubtfully hazardous way across
the glacier, and there read great Nature's receipt for making rivers.
You find that the nearer you climb towards the heavens, the more
palpable are the works of their Creator:--

    "My altars are the mountains, and the ocean--
    Earth, air, stars--all that proceed from the great Whole,
    Who has made and will receive the soul."

As to how mine was likely to be disposed of, the moment had now
arrived when I was to consider; for not only had severe sickness
overtaken me, but I suspected that my death-blow had been received.
Severe sickness will bring the stoutest of us, and the most
unthinking, to reflect soberly on the past, the present, and the
future; at all events, it had this effect on me one night, among many
other restless and sleepless ones, as in solitude I watched the
flickering flame of the candle by my bedside. As for the present,
until the moment of leaving my country, I had bestowed but little
attention on it. It is the man of the world, who is wisely engrossed
with that period; and, unfortunately, I had never been gifted with, or
rather had never acquired, a sufficient stock of common sense to
enable me to approximate that character.

We all love to contemplate and dwell on the brightest side of things,
simply because that is the most pleasing to us; and having but little
self-denial, I ever enveloped myself in the past, the sunniest side of
my existence.

As for the future, with regard to a life to come, for that was what I
was now to think about, my opinion, if it could be called such,
laboured under confusion and inconsistency. Could anything have made
me more miserable than another, it would have been the doubt of it;
but from this I have ever been exempt, feeling assured, that were
there none, our minds would no more have been created capable of
entertaining an idea of it, than that our bodies would have been
hampered with legs for which there was to be no need--and as these
imply the function of walking, so our idea of futurity affords us the
proof of it. Yet happy as I was in its belief, I always regretted that
I had been born, notwithstanding that I was aware that an endless
sleep and non-existence must be one and the same thing. My love of
existence then, of some sort, must have been an acquired taste, like
that of the opium-eater--I would that it had never commenced, but had
not sufficient fortitude to relinquish it. But most probably this
regret arose as I looked back through the bright and peaceful vista of
my earliest days, and then fondly trusting that it could but lead to
some lovely period, ere I existed here; but alas! I could recal no
recollection of it, nor could any one else that I knew of, with the
exception of Pythagoras, and, perhaps, my Lord Herbert of Cherbery.

But I must cut short all this absurdity, to call it by the mildest
term, especially as my pilgrimage is drawing "towards an end, like a
tale that is told."

I arose from my bed apparently with similar prejudices ere I was
confined to it, but, with my constitution, they have happily received
a fatal blow. Had I been with others, I should probably have lingered
in Venice until my hour had come, but, as it was, what had I to stop

    "Whether it was despair that urged me on,
     God only knows--but to the very last,
     I had the lightest foot in Ennerdale."

Many a weary mile have I since accomplished in a state of health
almost incredible, though I am now convinced that I have performed my
last; but it was a beautiful one!

On the eastern shores of the Bay of Naples rises the mountain of St.
Angelo. For days had I gazed upon it with a wistful eye, and with all
the eagerness of my childhood, when I never saw a distant hill but I
was restless until I had reached it. Notwithstanding that my strength
now daily diminished, my desire so increased upon me, that but a brief
time had elapsed ere I had gratified it. This mountain protrudes
abruptly into the Mediterranean, dividing the bay of Salerno from that
of Naples.

I have enjoyed the grandest scenery of Europe, but never, never such
as this, or at such a moment. The death stillness of the day was
appalling--the air was motionless, the heavens cloudless, and the deep
blue sea, far, far beneath me, without a ripple; and not a sound
reached my ear but that of my own watch. There I rested on the summit,
basking in the sun, and enjoying a view, if such might be so called,
worthy an angel's while to fly down and witness, and which, I dare
say, one does now and then among these aërial solitudes.

And now my feverish curiosity with regard to distant countries is
satisfied to the full. It once was such as extended to other worlds,
when I would welcome death in order to indulge it. The time is now
approaching, then, when I must set out for "that bourne from which no
traveller returns." My love of roaming has happily waned with the
power of gratifying it, and I am now on my return, by easy stages, for
the monastery of La Trappe, and I trust that a few days more will
place me in its peaceful retirement, for I am weary.

  T.C. Savill, Printer, 4, Chandos Street, Covent Garden.

       *       *       *       *       *

    | Typographical errors corrected in text:   |
    |                                           |
    |    Page 48: Etona's replaced with Eton's  |
    |    Page 98: groupe replaced with group    |
    |                                           |

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Confessions of an Etonian" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.