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Title: A Century of English Essays - An Anthology Ranging from Caxton to R. L. Stevenson & the Writers of Our Own Time
Author: Rhys, Ernest, 1859-1946 [Editor], Vaughan, Lloyd [Editor]
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Century of English Essays - An Anthology Ranging from Caxton to R. L. Stevenson & the Writers of Our Own Time" ***

Transcriber's note:

      A very small number of printer's errors have been corrected
      by reference to other editions.

      Footnotes have been moved from the bottom of the original
      page to just below the referring paragraph, or in a few cases,
      to just after the referring sentence.

      Author attribution lines have been regularized so that all
      appear one line below the essay to which they apply.

      See also the detailed transcriber's note at the end of the work.

Everyman's Library

Edited by Ernest Rhys


A Century of English Essays Chosen by Ernest Rhys and Lloyd Vaughan

       *       *       *       *       *

This is No. 653 of _Everyman's Library_. The publishers will be
pleased to send freely to all applicants a list of the published and
projected volumes arranged under the following sections:










In four styles of binding: cloth, flat back, coloured top; leather,
round corners, gilt top; library binding in cloth, & quarter pigskin.

    LONDON: J. M. DENT & SONS, Ltd.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: Most current ... For that they come home to men's
business & bosoms.--Lord Bacon]



First Issue of this Edition   1913
Reprinted               1915, 1916


This is a book of short essays which have been chosen with the full
liberty the form allows, but with the special idea of illustrating
life, manners and customs, and at intervals filling in the English
country background. The longer essays, especially those devoted to
criticism and to literature, are put aside for another volume, as
their different mode seems to require. But the development of the art
in all its congenial variety has been kept in mind from the beginning;
and any page in which the egoist has revealed a mood, or the gossip
struck on a vein of real experience, or the wise vagabond sketched a
bit of road or countryside, has been thought good enough, so long as
it helped to complete the round. And any writer has been admitted who
could add some more vivid touch or idiom to that personal half
meditative, half colloquial style which gives this kind of writing its

We have generally been content to date the beginning of the Essay in
English from Florio's translation of Montaigne. That work appeared
towards the end of Queen Elizabeth's time, in 1603, and no doubt it
had the effect of setting up the form as a recognized _genre_ in
prose. But as we go back behind Florio and Montaigne, and behind
Francis Bacon who has been called our "first essayist," we come upon
various experiments as we might call them--essays towards the essay,
attempts to work that vein, discursively pertinent and richly
reminiscent, out of which the essay was developed. Accordingly for a
beginning the line has been carried back to the earliest point where
any English prose occurs that is marked with the gossip's seal. A leaf
or two of Chaucer's prose, a garrulous piece of the craftsman's
delight in his work from Caxton, and one or two other detachable
fragments of the same kind, may help us to realize that there was a
predisposition to the essay, long before there was any conscious and
repeated use of the form itself. By continuing the record in this way
we have the advantage of being able to watch its relation to the whole
growth in the freer art of English prose. That is a connection indeed
in which all of us are interested, because however little we write,
whether for our friends only, or for the newspapers, we have to
attempt sooner or later something which is virtually an essay in
everyday English. There is no form of writing in which the fluid idiom
of the language can be seen to better effect in its changes and in its
movement. There is none in which the play of individuality, and the
personal way of looking at things, and the grace and whimsicality of
man or woman, can be so well fitted with an agreeable and responsive
instrument. When Sir Thomas Elyot in his "Castle of Health" deprecates
"cruel and yrous[1] schoolmasters by whom the wits of children be
dulled," and when Caxton tells us "that age creepeth on me daily and
feebleth all the body," and that is why he has hastened to ordain in
print the Recule of the Historeys of Troyes, and when Roger Ascham
describes the blowing of the wind and how it took the loose snow with
it and made it so slide upon the hard and crusted snow in the field
that he could see the whole nature of the wind in that act, we are
gradually made aware of a particular fashion, a talking mode (shall we
say?) of writing, as natural, almost as easy as speech itself; one
that was bound to settle itself at length, and take on a propitious
fashion of its own.

[Footnote 1: Irascible.]

But when we try to decide where it is exactly that the bounds of the
essay are to be drawn, we have to admit that so long as it obeys the
law of being explicit, casually illuminative of its theme, and germane
to the intellectual mood of its writer, then it may follow pretty much
its own devices. It may be brief as Lord Verulam sometimes made it, a
mere page or two; it may be long as Carlyle's stupendous essay on the
Niebelungenlied, which is almost a book in itself. It may be grave and
urbane in Sir William Temple's courtly style; it may be Elian as Elia,
or ripe and suave like the "Spectator" and the "Tatler." The one
clause that it cannot afford to neglect is that it be entertaining,
easy to read, pleasant to remember. It may preach, but it must never
be a sermon; it may moralize, but it must never be too forbidding; it
may be witty, high-spirited, effervescent as you like, but it must
never be flippant or betray a mean spirit or a too conscious clever

Montaigne, speaking through the mouth of Florio, touched upon a nice
point in the economy of the essay when he said that "what a man
directly knoweth, that will he dispose of without turning still to his
book or looking to his pattern. A mere bookish sufficiency is
unpleasant." The essayist, in fact, must not be over literary, and
yet, if he have the habit, like Montaigne or Charles Lamb, of
delighting in old authors and in their favourite expressions and great
phrases, so that that habit has become part of his life, then his
essays will gain in richness by an inspired pedantry. Indeed the essay
as it has gone on has not lost by being a little self-conscious of its
function and its right to insist on a fine prose usage and a choice
economy of word and phrase.

The most perfect balance of the art on its familiar side as here
represented, and after my Lord Verulam, is to be found, I suppose, in
the creation of "Sir Roger de Coverley." Goldsmith's "Man in Black"
runs him very close in that saunterer's gallery, and Elia's people are
more real to us than our own acquaintances in flesh and blood. It is
worth note, perhaps, how often the essayists had either been among
poets like Hazlitt, or written poetry like Goldsmith, or had the
advantage of both recognizing the faculty in others and using it
themselves, like Charles Lamb; and if we were to take the lyrical
temperament, as Ferdinand Brunetière did in accounting for certain
French writers, and relate it to some personal asseveration of the
emotion of life, we might end by claiming the essayists as dilute
lyrists, engaged in pursuing a rhythm too subtle for verse and
lifelike as common-room gossip.

And just as we may say there is a lyric tongue, which the true poets
of that kind have contributed to form, so there is an essayist's style
or way with words--something between talking and writing. You realize
it when you hear Dame Prudence, who is the Mother of the English
essay, discourse on Riches; Hamlet, a born essayist, speak on acting;
T.T., a forgotten essayist of 1614, with an equal turn for homily,
write on "Painting the Face"; or the "Tatler" make good English out of
the first thing that comes to hand. It is partly a question of art,
partly of temperament; and indeed paraphrasing Steele we may say that
the success of an essay depends upon the make of the body and the
formation of the mind, of him who writes it. It needs a certain way of
turning the pen, and a certain intellectual gesture, which cannot be
acquired, and cannot really be imitated.

It remains to acknowledge the friendly aid of those living essayists
who are still maintaining the standards and have contributed to the
book. This contemporary roll includes the Right Hon. Augustine
Birrell, Mr. Hilaire Belloc, Mr. G.K. Chesterton, Mr. Austin Dobson,
Mr. Edmund Gosse, Mr. E.V. Lucas, Mrs. Meynell, Mr. Edward Thomas and
Mr. W.B. Yeats. In addition a formal acknowledgment is due to Messrs.
Chatto and Windus for leave to include an essay by Robert Louis
Stevenson; to Messrs. Longmans and Co. for an essay of Richard
Jefferies; and Messrs. Methuen and Co. for two by Mr. Lucas, and one
by Mr. Belloc. Mr. A.H. Bullen has very kindly given his free consent
in the case of "The Last of the Gleemen,"--a boon to be grateful for.
Without these later pages, the book would be like the hat of Tom
Lizard's ceremonious old gentleman, whose story, he said, would not
have been worth a farthing if the brim had been any narrower. As to
the actual omissions, they are due either to the limits of the volume,
or to the need of keeping the compass in regard to both the subjects
and the writers chosen. American essayists are left for another day;
as are those English writers, like Sir William Temple and Bolingbroke,
Macaulay and Matthew Arnold, who have given us the essay in literary
full dress.


       *       *       *       *       *

The following is a bibliography in brief of the chief works drawn upon
for the selection:

Caxton, Morte D'Arthur, 1485; Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, 1532; Bacon,
Essays, 1740; Thos. Dekker, Gull's Horn Book, 1608; Jeremy Taylor,
Holy Dying, 1651; Thos. Fuller, Holy and Profane States, 1642; Cowley,
Prose Works, Several Discourses, 1668; The Guardian, 1729; The
Examiner, 1710; The Tatler, 1709; Wm. Cobbett, Rural Rides, 1830;
Goldsmith, The Citizen of the World, 1762; Addison and Steele, The
Spectator, 1711; The Rambler, 1750-52; The Adventurer, 1753; Lamb,
Essays of Elia, 1823, 1833; Hazlitt, Comic Writers, 1819; Table Talk,
1821-22; The New Monthly Magazine, 1826-27; Coleridge, Literaria
Biographia, 1817; Wordsworth, Prose Works, 1876; John Brown, Rab and
his Friends, 1858; Thackeray, Roundabout Papers, 1863; Carlyle,
Edinburgh Review, 1831; Dickens, The Uncommercial Traveller, 1857;
Shelley, Essays, 1840; Leigh Hunt, The Indicator, 1820; Mary Russell
Mitford, Our Village, 1827-32; De Quincey, Collected Works, 1853-60;
R.L. Stevenson, Memories and Portraits, 1887; Edmund Gosse (The
Realm), 1895; Austin Dobson, Eighteenth Century Vignettes, 1892; Alice
Meynell, Colour of Life, 1896; G.K. Chesterton, The Defendant, 1901;
E.V. Lucas, Fireside and Sunshine, 1906, Character and Comedy, 1907;
Augustine Birrell, Obiter Dicta (second series), 1887; W.B. Yeats,
Celtic Twilight, 1893; Edward Thomas, The South Country, 1909; Hilaire
Belloc, First and Last, 1911.



    Introduction                                                     vii

    1. A Printer's Prologue
        Wm. Caxton, _Morte D'Arthur_                                   1

    2. Dame Prudence on Riches
        Geoffrey Chaucer, _Tale of Melibeus_                           4

    3. Of Painting the Face
        T.T., _New Essays_, 1614                                       8

    4. Hamlet's Advice to the Players
        Shakespeare, _Hamlet_                                         10

    5. Of Adversity
        Francis Bacon, _Essays_                                       11

    6. Of Travel
        "    "    "                                                   12

    7. Of Wisdom for a Man's Self
        "    "    "                                                   14

    8. Of Ambition
        "    "    "                                                   15

    9. Of Gardens
        "    "    "                                                   17

    10. Of Studies
        "    "    "                                                   22

    11. The Good Schoolmaster
        Thomas Fuller, _Holy and Profane States_                      24

    12. On Death
        Jeremy Taylor, _Holy Living and Holy Dying_                   27

    13. Of Winter
        Thomas Dekker                                                 30

    14. How a Gallant should behave himself in a Play-house
        Thomas Dekker, _Gull's Horn Book_                             31

    15. Of Myself
        Abraham Cowley, _Discourses_                                  35

    16. The Grand Elixir
        Pope, _The Guardian_, No. 11                                  39

    17. Jack Lizard
        Steele, _The Guardian_, No. 24                                43

    18. A Meditation upon a Broomstick, According to the Style and
        Manner of the Hon. Robert Boyle's Meditations
        Swift, _Prose Writings_                                       47

    19. Pulpit Eloquence
        Swift, _The Tatler_, No. 66                                   48

    20. The Art of Political Lying
        Swift, _The Examiner_, No. 15                                 51

    21. A Rural Ride
        Wm. Cobbett, _Rural Rides_                                    56

    22. The Man in Black (1)
        Goldsmith, _Citizen of the World_, No. 25                     58

    23. "    "    "    (2)
        "    "    "    " No. 26                                       61

    24. Old Maids and Bachelors
        "    "    "    " No. 27                                       66

    25. The Important Trifler
        "    "    "    " No. 53                                       69

    26. The Trifler's Household
        "    "    "    " No. 54                                       72

    27. Westminster Hall
        "    "    "    " No. 97                                       75

    28. The Little Beau
        "    "    "    " No. 98                                       78

    29. The Club
        Steele, _The Spectator_                                       80

    30. The Meeting of the Club
        Addison "    "                                                85

    31. Sir Roger de Coverley at Home (1)
        "    "    "                                                   88

    32. "    "    "    " (2)
        "    "    "                                                   91

    33. "    "    "    " (3)
        Steele "    "                                                 94

    34. "    "    "    " (4)
        Addison "    "                                                97

    35. Sir Roger at Church
        "    "    "                                                  100

    36. Sir Roger on the Widow
        Steele "    "                                                103

    37. Sir Roger in the Hunting Field
        Addison "    "                                               107

    38. Sir Roger at the Assizes
        "    "    "                                                  110

    39. Gipsies
        "    "    "                                                  114

    40. Witches
        "    "    "                                                  117

    41. Sir Roger at Westminster Abbey
        "    "    "                                                  120

    42. Sir Roger at the Play
        "    "    "                                                  123

    43. Sir Roger at Spring-Garden
        "    "    "                                                  126

    44. Death of Sir Roger
        "    "    "                                                  129

    45. A Stage Coach Journey
        Steele "    "                                                131

    46. A Journey from Richmond
        "    "    "                                                  135

    47. A Prize Fight
        "    "    "                                                  139

    48. Good Temper
        "    "    "                                                  144

    49. The Employments of a Housewife in the Country
        Samuel Johnson, _The Rambler_, No. 51                        147

    50. The Stage Coach
        "    " _The Adventurer_, No. 84                              152

    51. The Scholar's Complaint of His Own Bashfulness
        Johnson, _The Rambler_, No. 157                              156

    52. The Misery of a Modish Lady in Solitude
        Johnson, _The Rambler_, No. 42                               160

    53. The History of an Adventurer in Lotteries
        Johnson, _The Rambler_, No. 181                              164

    54. Christ's Hospital Five and Thirty Years Ago
        Lamb, _Essays of Elia_                                       168

    55. All Fools' Day
        "    "                                                       180

    56. Witches, and Other Night-Fears
        "    "                                                       184

    57. My First Play
        "    "                                                       190

    58. Dream-Children; a Reverie
        "    "                                                       194

    59. The Praise of Chimney-Sweepers
        "    "                                                       198

    60. A Dissertation upon Roast Pig
        "    "                                                       205

    61. Poor Relations
        "    "                                                       211

    62. The Child Angel
        "    "                                                       218

    63. Old China
        "    "                                                       220

    64. Popular Fallacies (I)
        "    "                                                       226

    65. "    " (II)
        "    "                                                       227

    66. "    " (III)
        "    "                                                       228

    67. Whitsun-Eve
        Mary Russell Mitford, _Our Village_                          230

    68. On Going a Journey
        Hazlitt, _Essays_                                            234

    69. On Living to One's-Self
        "    "                                                       244

    70. Of Persons One would wish to have seen
        "    "                                                       257

    71. On a Sun-Dial
        "    "                                                       271

    72. Of the Feeling of Immortality in Youth
        Hazlitt, _The New Monthly Magazine_                          280

    73. A Vision
        Coleridge, _A Lay Sermon_, 1817                              292

    74. Upon Epitaphs
        Wordsworth                                                   297

    75. Jeems the Doorkeeper
        John Brown, _Rab and His Friends_                            311

    76. On Life
        Shelley, _Essays_                                            323

    77. Walking Stewart
        De Quincey, _Notes of an Opium Eater_                        327

    78. On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth
        De Quincey, _Collected Essays_                               340

    79. The Daughter of Lebanon
        "    "    "                                                  345

    80. Getting up on Cold Mornings
        Leigh Hunt, _Essays_, _Indicator_, 1820                      351

    81. The Old Gentleman
        "    "    "    "                                             355

    82. The Old Lady
        "    "    "    "                                             359

    83. The Maid-Servant
        "    "    "    "                                             363

    84. Characteristics
        Carlyle, _Miscellanies_                                      366

    85. Tunbridge Toys
        Thackeray, _Roundabout Papers_                               404

    86. Night Walks
        Dickens, _The Uncommercial Traveller_                        410

    87. "A Penny Plain and Twopence Coloured"
        R. L. Stevenson, _Memories and Portraits_                    419

    88. July Grass
        Richard Jefferies, _Field and Hedgerow_                      425

    89. Worn-out Types
        Augustine Birrell, _Obiter Dicta_                            428

    90. Book-buying
        "    "    "    "                                             433

    91. The Whole Duty of Woman
        Edmund Gosse, _The Realm_, 1895                              436

    92. Steele's Letters
        Austin Dobson, _Eighteenth Century Vignettes_                441

    93. A Defence of Nonsense
        G. K. Chesterton, _The Defendant_                            446

    94. The Colour of Life
        Alice Meynell, _The Colour of Life_                          450

    95. A Funeral
        E. V. Lucas, _Character and Comedy_                          453

    96. Fires
        "    "  _Fireside and Sunshine_                              456

    97. The Last Gleeman
        W. B. Yeats, _The Celtic Twilight_                           462

    98. A Brother of St. Francis
        Grace Rhys, _The Vineyard_                                   467

    99. The Pilgrim's Way
        Edward Thomas, _The South Country_                           469

    100. On a Great Wind
        H. Belloc, _First and Last_                                  471



After that I had accomplished and finished divers histories, as well
of contemplation as of other historical and worldly acts of great
conquerors and princes, and also of certain books of ensamples and
doctrine, many noble and divers gentlemen of this realm of England,
came and demanded me, many and ofttimes, why that I did not cause to
be imprinted the noble history of the Sancgreal, and of the most
renowned Christian king, first and chief of the three best Christian
and worthy, King Arthur, which ought most to be remembered among us
Englishmen, before all other Christian kings; for it is notoriously
known, through the universal world, that there be nine worthy and the
best that ever were, that is, to wit, three Paynims, three Jews, and
three Christian men. As for the Paynims, they were before the
Incarnation of Christ, which were named, the first, Hector of Troy, of
whom the history is common, both in ballad and in prose; the second,
Alexander the Great; and the third, Julius Cæsar, Emperor of Rome, of
which the histories be well known and had. And as for the three Jews,
which also were before the Incarnation of our Lord, of whom the first
was Duke Joshua, which brought the children of Israel into the land of
behest; the second was David, King of Jerusalem; and the third Judas
Maccabeus. Of these three, the Bible rehearseth all their noble
histories and acts. And, since the said Incarnation, have been three
noble Christian men, stalled and admitted through the universal world,
into the number of the nine best and worthy: of whom was first, the
noble Arthur, whose noble acts I purpose to write in this present book
here following; the second was Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, of
whom the history is had in many places, both in French and in English;
and the third, and last, was Godfrey of Boulogne, of whose acts and
life I made a book unto the excellent prince and king, of noble
memory, King Edward the Fourth.

The said noble gentlemen instantly required me for to imprint the
history of the said noble king and conqueror, King Arthur, and of his
knights, with the history of the Sancgreal, and of the death and
ending of the said Arthur, affirming that I ought rather to imprint
his acts and noble feats, than of Godfrey of Boulogne, or any of the
other eight, considering that he was a man born within this realm, and
king and emperor of the same; and that there be in French divers and
many noble volumes of his acts, and also of his knights. To whom I
have answered, that divers men hold opinion that there was no such
Arthur, and that all such books as be made of him be but feigned and
fables, because that some chronicles make of him no mention, nor
remember him nothing, nor of his knights. Whereto they answered, and
one in especial said, that in him that should say or think that there
was never such a king called Arthur, might well be aretted great folly
and blindness; for he said there were many evidences to the contrary.
First ye may see his sepulchre in the monastery of Glastonbury. And
also in Policronicon, in the fifth book, the sixth chapter, and in the
seventh book, the twenty-third chapter, where his body was buried, and
after found, and translated into the said monastery. Ye shall see also
in the History of Bochas, in his book _De Casu Principum_, part of his
noble acts, and also of his fall. Also Galfridus, in his British book,
recounteth his life. And in divers places of England, many
remembrances be yet of him, and shall remain perpetually of him, and
also of his knights. First, in the Abbey of Westminster, at St.
Edward's shrine, remaineth the print of his seal in red wax closed in
beryl, in which is written--"Patricius Arthurus Britanniæ, Galliæ,
Germaniæ, Daciæ Imperator." Item in the castle of Dover ye may see Sir
Gawaine's skull, and Cradok's mantle: at Winchester, the Round Table:
in other places Sir Launcelot's sword, and many other things. Then all
these things considered, there can no man reasonably gainsay but that
there was a king of this land named Arthur: for in all the places,
Christian and heathen, he is reputed and taken for one of the nine
worthies, and the first of the three Christian men. And also he is
more spoken beyond the sea, and more books made of his noble acts,
than there be in England, as well in Dutch, Italian, Spanish, and
Greek, as in French. And yet of record, remaineth in witness of him in
Wales, in the town of Camelot, the great stones, and the marvellous
works of iron lying under the ground, and royal vaults, which divers
now living have seen. Wherefore it is a great marvel why that he is no
more renowned in his own country, save only it accordeth to the word
of God, which saith, that no man is accepted for a prophet in his own
country. Then all things aforesaid alleged, I could not well deny but
that there was such a noble king named Arthur, and reputed for one of
the nine worthies, and first and chief of the Christian men. And many
noble volumes be made of him and of his noble knights in French, which
I have seen and read beyond the sea, which be not had in our maternal
tongue. But in Welsh be many, and also in French, and some in English,
but nowhere nigh all. Wherefore, such as have late been drawn out
briefly into English, I have, after the simple cunning that God hath
sent me, under the favour and correction of all noble lords and
gentlemen enprised to imprint a book of the noble histories of the
said King Arthur, and of certain of his knights after a copy unto me
delivered; which copy Sir Thomas Malory did take out of certain books
of French, and reduced it into English. And I, according to my copy,
have down set it in print, to the intent that noble men may see and
learn the noble acts of chivalry, the gentle and virtuous deeds that
some knights used in those days, by which they came to honour, and how
they that were vicious were punished, and oft put to shame and rebuke;
humbly beseeching all noble lords and ladies, with all other estates
of what state or degree they be of, that shall see and read in this
present book and work, that they take the good and honest acts in
their remembrance, and follow the same. Wherein they shall find many
joyous and pleasant histories, and the noble and renowned acts of
humanity, gentleness, and chivalry. For, herein may be seen noble
chivalry, courtesy, humanity, friendliness, hardiness, love,
friendship, cowardice, murder, hate, virtue, and sin. Do after the
good, and leave the evil, and it shall bring you unto good fame and
renown. And, for to pass the time, this book shall be pleasant to read
in, but for to give faith and belief that all is true that is
contained herein, ye be at your own liberty. But all is written for
our doctrine, and for to beware that we fall not to vice nor sin, but
to exercise and follow virtue, by the which we may come and attain to
good fame and renown in this life, and after this short and transitory
life to come unto everlasting bliss in heaven; the which He grant us
that reigneth in heaven, the blessed Trinity. Amen.

    _William Caxton._


When Prudence had heard her husband avaunt himself of his riches and
of his money, dispreising the power of his adversaries, she spake and
said in this wise: Certes, dear sir, I grant you that ye ben rich and
mighty, and that riches ben good to 'em that han well ygetten 'em, and
that well can usen 'em; for, right as the body of a man may not liven
withouten soul, no more may it liven withouten temporal goods, and by
riches may a man get him great friends; and therefore saith Pamphilus:
If a neatherd's daughter be rich, she may chese of a thousand men
which she wol take to her husband; for of a thousand men one wol not
forsaken her ne refusen her. And this Pamphilus saith also: If thou be
right happy, that is to sayn, if thou be right rich, thou shalt find a
great number of fellows and friends; and if thy fortune change, that
thou wax poor, farewell friendship and fellowship, for thou shalt be
all alone withouten any company, but if[2] it be the company of poor
folk. And yet saith this Pamphilus, moreover, that they that ben bond
and thrall of linage shuln be made worthy and noble by riches. And
right so as by riches there comen many goods, right so by poverty come
there many harms and evils; and therefore clepeth Cassiodore, poverty
the mother of ruin, that is to sayn, the mother of overthrowing or
falling down; and therefore saith Piers Alphonse: One of the greatest
adversities of the world is when a free man by kind, or of birth, is
constrained by poverty to eaten the alms of his enemy. And the same
saith Innocent in one of his books; he saith that sorrowful and
mishappy is the condition of a poor beggar, for if he ax not his meat
he dieth of hunger, and if he ax he dieth for shame; and algates
necessity constraineth him to ax; and therefore saith Solomon: That
better it is to die than for to have such poverty; and, as the same
Solomon saith: Better it is to die of bitter death, than for to liven
in such wise. By these reasons that I have said unto you, and by many
other reasons that I could say, I grant you that riches ben good to
'em that well geten 'em and to him that well usen tho' riches; and
therefore wol I shew you how ye shulen behave you in gathering of your
riches, and in what manner ye shulen usen 'em.

[Footnote 2: Except.]

First, ye shuln geten 'em withouten great desire, by good leisure,
sokingly, and not over hastily, for a man that is too desiring to get
riches abandoneth him first to theft and to all other evils; and
therefore saith Solomon: He that hasteth him too busily to wax rich,
he shall be non innocent: he saith also, that the riches that hastily
cometh to a man, soon and lightly goeth and passeth from a man, but
that riches that cometh little and little, waxeth alway and
multiplieth. And, sir, ye shuln get riches by your wit and by your
travail, unto your profit, and that withouten wrong or harm doing to
any other person; for the law saith: There maketh no man himself rich,
if he do harm to another wight; that is to say, that Nature defendeth
and forbiddeth by right, that no man make himself rich unto the harm
of another person. And Tullius saith: That no sorrow, ne no dread of
death, ne nothing that may fall unto a man, is so muckle agains nature
as a man to increase his own profit to harm of another man. And though
the great men and the mighty men geten riches more lightly than thou,
yet shalt thou not ben idle ne slow to do thy profit, for thou shalt
in all wise flee idleness; for Solomon saith: That idleness teacheth a
man to do many evils; and the same Solomon saith: That he that
travaileth and busieth himself to tillen his lond, shall eat bread,
but he that is idle, and casteth him to no business ne occupation,
shall fall into poverty, and die for hunger. And he that is idle and
slow can never find convenable time for to do his profit; for there is
a versifier saith, that the idle man excuseth him in winter because of
the great cold, and in summer then by encheson of the heat. For these
causes, saith Caton, waketh and inclineth you not over muckle to
sleep, for over muckle rest nourisheth and causeth many vices; and
therefore saith St. Jerome: Doeth some good deeds, that the devil,
which is our enemy, ne find you not unoccupied, for the devil he
taketh not lightly unto his werking such as he findeth occupied in
good werks.

Then thus in getting riches ye musten flee idleness; and afterward ye
shuln usen the riches which ye ban geten by your wit and by your
travail, in such manner, than men hold you not too scarce, ne too
sparing, ne fool-large, that is to say, over large a spender; for
right as men blamen an avaricious man because of his scarcity and
chinchery, in the same wise he is to blame that spendeth over largely;
and therefore saith Caton: Use (saith he) the riches that thou hast
ygeten in such manner, that men have no matter ne cause to call thee
nother wretch ne chinch, for it is a great shame to a man to have a
poor heart and a rich purse; he saith also: The goods that thou hast
ygeten, use 'em by measure, that is to sayn, spend measureably, for
they that folily wasten and despenden the goods that they han, when
they han no more proper of 'eir own, that they shapen 'em to take the
goods of another man. I say, then, that ye shuln flee avarice, using
your riches in such manner, that men sayen not that your riches ben
yburied, but that ye have 'em in your might and in your wielding; for
a wise man reproveth the avaricious man, and saith thus in two verse:
Whereto and why burieth a man his goods by his great avarice, and
knoweth well that needs must he die, for death is the end of every man
as in this present life? And for what cause or encheson joineth he
him, or knitteth he him so fast unto his goods, that all his wits
mowen not disseveren him or departen him fro his goods, and knoweth
well, or ought to know, that when he is dead he shall nothing bear
with him out of this world? and therefore saith St. Augustine, that
the avaricious man is likened unto hell, that the more it swalloweth
the more desire it hath to swallow and devour. And as well as ye wold
eschew to be called an avaricious man or an chinch, as well should ye
keep you and govern you in such wise, that men call you not
fool-large; therefore, saith Tullius: The goods of thine house ne
should not ben hid ne kept so close, but that they might ben opened by
pity and debonnairety, that is to sayen, to give 'em part that han
great need; ne they goods shoulden not ben so open to be every man's

Afterward, in getting of your riches, and in using of 'em, ye shuln
alway have three things in your heart, that is to say, our Lord God,
conscience, and good name. First ye shuln have God in your heart, and
for no riches ye shuln do nothing which may in any manner displease
God that is your creator and maker; for, after the word of Solomon, it
is better to have a little good, with love of God, than to have muckle
good and lese the love of his Lord God; and the prophet saith, that
better it is to ben a good man and have little good and treasure, than
to be holden a shrew and have great riches. And yet I say furthermore,
that ye shulden always do your business to get your riches, so that ye
get 'em with a good conscience. And the apostle saith, that there nis
thing in this world, of which we shulden have so great joy, as when
our conscience beareth us good witness; and the wise man saith: The
substance of a man is full good when sin is not in a man's conscience.
Afterward, in getting of your riches and in using of 'em, ye must have
great business and great diligence that your good name be alway kept
and conserved; for Solomon saith, that better it is and more it
availeth a man to have a good name than for to have great riches; and
therefore he saith in another place: Do great diligence (saith he) in
keeping of thy friends and of thy good name, for it shall longer abide
with thee than any treasure, be it never so precious; and certainly he
should not be called a gentleman that, after God and good conscience
all things left, ne doth his diligence and business to keepen his good
name; and Cassiodore saith, that it is a sign of a gentle heart, when
a man loveth and desireth to have a good name. And therfore saith
Seint Augustyn, that ther ben two thinges that ben necessarie and
needful; and that is good conscience and good loos; that is to sayn,
good conscience in thin oughne persone in-ward, and good loos of thin
neghebor out-ward. And he that trusteth him so muckle in his good
conscience, that he despiseth or setteth at nought his good name or
los, and recketh not though he kept not his good name, n'is but a
cruel churl.



If that which is most ancient be best, then the face that one is borne
with, is better than it that is borrowed: Nature is more ancient than
Art, and Art is allowed to help Nature, but not to hurt it; to mend
it, but not to mar it; for perfection, but not for perdition: but this
artificiall facing doth corrupt the naturall colour of it. Indeed God
hath given a man oil for his countenance, as He hath done wine for his
heart, to refresh and cheere it; but this is by reflection and not by
plaister-worke; by comforting, and not by dawbing and covering; by
mending and helping the naturall colour, and not by marring or hiding
it with an artificiall lit. What a miserable vanity is it a man or
woman beholding in a glasse their borrowed face, their bought
complexion, to please themselves with a face that is not their owne?
And what is the cause they paint? Without doubt nothing but pride of
heart, disdaining to bee behind their neighbour, discontentment with
the worke of God, and vaine glory, or a foolish affectation of the
praise of men. This kind of people are very hypocrites, seeming one
thing and being another, desiring to bee that in show which they
cannot be in substance, and coveting to be judged that, they are not:
They are very grosse Deceivers; for they study to delude men with
shewes, seeking hereby to bee counted more lovely creatures than they
are, affecting that men should account that naturall, which is but
artificiall. I may truly say they are deceivers of themselves; for if
they thinke they doe well to paint, they are deceived; if they think
it honest and just to beguile men, and to make them account them more
delicate and amiable, then they are in truth, they are deceived; if
they thinke it meete that that should bee counted God's worke, which
is their owne, they are deceived: If they thinke that shall not one
day give account unto Christ of idle deeds, such as this, as well as
of idle words, they are deceived; if they thinke that God regards not
such trifles, but leaves them to their free election herein; they are
deceived. Now they that deceive themselves, who shall they be trusted
with? A man, that is taken of himselfe, is in a worse taking than he
that is caught of another. This self-deceiver, is a double sinner: he
sinnes in that he is deceived, hee sinnes again in that he doth
deceive himself. To bee murdered of another is not a sin in him that
is murdered; but for a man to be deceived in what he is forbidden, is
a sinne; it were better to bee murdered, than so to be deceived: For
there the body is but killed, but here the soule herself is
endangered. Now, how unhappy is the danger, how grievous is the sin,
when a man is merely of himself indangered? It is a misery of miseries
for a man to bee slaine with his owne sword, with his owne hand, and
long of his owne will: Besides, this painting is very scandalous, and
of ill report; for any man therefore to use it, is to thwart the
precept of the Holy Ghost in Saint Paul, who saith unto the
Phillippians in this wise, Whatsoever things are true (but a painted
face is a false face) whatsoever things are venerable (but who esteems
a painted face venerable?) whatsoever things are just (but will any
man of judgement say, that to paint the face is a point of justice?
Who dare say it is according to the will of God which is the rule of

Doth the law of God command it? Doth true reason teach it? Doth lawes
of men enjoyne it?) whatsoever things are (chaste and) pure: (but is
painting of the face a point of chastity? Is that pure that proceeds
out of the impurity of the soule, and which is of deceipt, and tends
unto deceipt? Is that chaste, which is used to wooe mens eyes unto
it?) _whatsoever things are lovely_ (but will any man out of a well
informed judgement say, that this kinde of painting is worthy love, or
that a painted face is worthy to be fancied?) _whatsoever things are
of good report: If there bee any vertue, if there bee any praise,
think on these things_. But I hope to paint the face, to weare an
artificiall colour, or complexion, is no vertue; neither is it of good
report amongst the vertuous. I read that Iezabel did practise it, but
I find not that any holy Matrone or religious Virgine ever used it:
And it may perhaps of some be praised, but doubtlesse not of such as
are judicious, but of them rather hated and discommended. A painted
face is the devils _Looking-glasse_: there hee stands peering and
toying (as an Ape in a looking-glasse) joying to behold himselfe
therein; for in it he may reade pride, vanity, and vaine-glory.
Painting is an enemy to blushing, which is vertues colour. And indeed
how unworthy are they to bee credited in things of moment, that are so
false in their haire, or colour, over which age, and sicknesse, and
many accidents doe tyrannize; yea and where their deceipt is easily
discerned? And whereas the passions and conditions of a man, and his
age, is something discovered by the face, this painting hindereth a
mans judgement herein, so that if they were as well able to colour the
eyes, as they are their haire and faces, a man could discerne little
or nothing in such kind of people. In briefe, these painters are
sometimes injurious to those, that are naturally faire and lovely, and
no painters; partly, in that these are thought sometimes to bee
painted, because of the common use of painting; and partly, in that
these artificial creatures steal away the praise from the naturall
beauty by reason of their Art, when it is not espyed, whereas were it
not for their cunning, they would not bee deemed equall to the other.
It is great pitty that this outlandish vanity is in so much request
and practise with us, as it is.

    _T. T._


Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on
the tongue: but if you mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as
lief the town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much
with your hand, thus; but use all gently, for in the very torrent,
tempest, and, as I may say, whirlwind of your passion, you must
acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. O, it
offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear
a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the
groundlings, who, for the most part, are capable of nothing but
inexplicable dumb-shows and noise: I would have such a fellow whipped
for o'erdoing Termagant; it out-herods Herod: pray you, avoid it. Be
not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor: suit
the action to the word, the word to the action; with this special
observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature: for anything
so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the
first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to
nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the
very age and body of the time his form and pressure. Now this overdone
or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make
the judicious grieve; the censure of the which one must in your
allowance o'erweigh a whole theatre of others. O, there be players
that I have seen play, and heard others praise, and that highly, not
to speak it profanely, that neither having the accent of Christians
nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted and
bellowed, that I have thought some of nature's journeymen had made
men, and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably. O,
reform it altogether. And let those that play your clowns speak no
more than is set down for them: for there be of them that will
themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators to
laugh too, though in the mean time some necessary question of the play
be then to be considered: that's villainous, and shows a most pitiful
ambition in the fool that uses it.



It was an high speech of Seneca (after the manner of the Stoics):
_That the good things which belong to prosperity are to be wished; but
the good things that belong to adversity are to be admired. Bona rerum
secundarum optabilia, adversarum mirabilia._ Certainly, if miracles be
the command over nature, they appear most in adversity. It is yet a
higher speech of his than the other (much too high for a heathen): _It
is true greatness to have in one the frailty of a man, and the
security of a god. Vere magnum, habere fragilitatem hominis,
securitatem dei._ This would have done better in poesy, where
transcendences are more allowed. And the poets indeed have been busy
with it; for it is in effect the thing which is figured in that
strange fiction of the ancient poets, which seemeth not to be without
mystery; nay, and to have some approach to the state of a Christian:
that _Hercules, when he went to unbind Prometheus_ (by whom human
nature is represented), _sailed the length of the great ocean in an
earthen pot or pitcher_: lively describing Christian resolution, that
saileth in the frail bark of the flesh through the waves of the world.
But to speak in a mean. The virtue of prosperity is temperance; the
virtue of adversity is fortitude; which in morals is the more heroical
virtue. Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is
the blessing of the New; which carrieth the greater benediction, and
the clearer revelation of God's favour. Yet even in the Old Testament,
if you listen to David's harp, you shall hear as many hearse-like airs
as carols; and the pencil of the Holy Ghost hath laboured more in
describing the afflictions of Job than the felicities of Salomon.
Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is
not without comforts and hopes. We see in needleworks and
embroideries, it is more pleasing to have a lively work upon a sad and
solemn ground, than to have a dark and melancholy work upon a
lightsome ground: judge therefore of the pleasure of the heart by the
pleasure of the eye. Certainly virtue is like precious odours, most
fragrant when they are incensed or crushed: for prosperity doth best
discover vice; but adversity doth best discover virtue.

    _Francis Bacon._


Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a
part of experience. He that travelleth into a country before he hath
some entrance into the language, goeth to school, and not to travel.
That young men travel under some tutor, or grave servant, I allow
well; so that he be such a one that hath the language and hath been in
the country before; whereby he may be able to tell them what things
are worthy to be seen in the country where they go; what acquaintances
they are to seek; what exercises or discipline the place yieldeth. For
else young men shall go hooded, and look abroad little. It is a
strange thing that in sea-voyages, where there is nothing to be seen
but sky and sea, men should make diaries, but in land-travel, wherein
so much is to be observed, for the most part they omit it; as if
chance were fitter to be registered than observation. Let diaries,
therefore, be brought in use. The things to be seen and observed are:
the courts of princes, specially when they give audience to
ambassadors; the courts of justice, while they sit and hear causes,
and so of consistories ecclesiastic; the churches and monasteries,
with the monuments which are therein extant; the walls and
fortifications of cities and towns, and so the havens and harbours;
antiquities and ruins; libraries; colleges, disputations, and
lectures, where any are; shipping and navies; houses and gardens of
state and pleasure, near great cities; armories; arsenals; magazines;
exchanges; burses; warehouses; exercises of horsemanship, fencing,
training of soldiers, and the like; comedies, such whereunto the
better sort of persons do resort; treasuries of jewels and robes;
cabinets and rarities; and, to conclude, whatsoever is memorable in
the places where they go. After all which the tutors or servants ought
to make diligent enquiry. As for triumphs, masques, feasts, weddings,
funerals, capital executions, and such shews, men need not to be put
in mind of them; yet are they not to be neglected. If you will have a
young man to put his travel into a little room, and in short time to
gather much, this you must do. First, as was said, he must have some
entrance into the language, before he goeth. Then he must have such a
servant, or tutor, as knoweth the country, as was likewise said. Let
him carry with him also some card or book describing the country where
he travelleth; which will be a good key to his enquiry. Let him keep
also a diary. Let him not stay long in one city or town; more or less
as the place deserveth, but not long: nay, when he stayeth in one city
or town, let him change his lodging from one end and part of the town
to another; which is a great adamant of acquaintance. Let him
sequester himself from the company of his countrymen, and diet in such
places where there is good company of the nation where he travelleth.
Let him, upon his removes from one place to another, procure
recommendation to some person of quality residing in the place whither
he removeth; that he may use his favour in those things he desireth to
see or know. Thus he may abridge his travel with much profit. As for
the acquaintance which is to be sought in travel; that which is most
of all profitable is acquaintance with the secretaries and employed
men of ambassadors; for so in travelling in one country he shall suck
the experience of many. Let him also see and visit eminent persons in
all kinds, which are of great name abroad; that he may be able to tell
how the life agreeth with the fame. For quarrels, they are with care
and discretion to be avoided: they are commonly for mistresses,
healths, place, and words. And let a man beware how he keepeth company
with choleric and quarrelsome persons; for they will engage him into
their own quarrels. When a traveller returneth home, let him not leave
the countries where he hath travelled altogether behind him, but
maintain a correspondence by letters with those of his acquaintance
which are of most worth. And let his travel appear rather in his
discourse than in his apparel or gesture; and in his discourse, let
him be rather advised in his answers than forwards to tell stories;
and let it appear that he doth not change his country manners for
those of foreign parts, but only prick in some flowers of that he hath
learned abroad into the customs of his own country.

    _Francis Bacon._


An ant is a wise creature for itself, but it is a shrewd thing in an
orchard or garden. And certainly men that are great lovers of
themselves waste the public. Divide with reason between self-love and
society; and be so true to thyself, as thou be not false to others,
specially to thy king and country. It is a poor centre of a man's
actions, himself. It is right earth. For that only stands fast upon
his own centre; whereas all things that have affinity with the heavens
move upon the centre of another, which they benefit. The referring of
all to a man's self is more tolerable in a sovereign prince; because
themselves are not only themselves, but their good and evil is at the
peril of the public fortune. But it is a desperate evil in a servant
to a prince, or a citizen in a republic. For whatsoever affairs pass
such a man's hands, he crooketh them to his own ends; which must needs
be often eccentric to the ends of his master or state. Therefore let
princes, or states, choose such servants as have not this mark; except
they mean their service should be made but the accessory. That which
maketh the effect more pernicious is that all proportion is lost. It
were disproportion enough for the servant's good to be preferred
before the master's; but yet it is a greater extreme, when a little
good of the servant shall carry things against a great good of the
master's. And yet that is the case of bad officers, treasurers,
ambassadors, generals, and other false and corrupt servants; which set
a bias upon their bowl, of their own petty ends and envies, to the
overthrow of their master's great and important affairs. And for the
most part, the good such servants receive is after the model of their
own fortune; but the hurt they sell for that good is after the model
of their master's fortune. And certainly it is the nature of extreme
self-lovers, as they will set an house on fire, and it were but to
roast their eggs; and yet these men many times hold credit with their
masters, because their study is but to please them and profit
themselves; and for either respect they will abandon the good of their

Wisdom for a man's self is, in many branches thereof, a depraved
thing. It is the wisdom of rats, that will be sure to leave a house
somewhat before it fall. It is the wisdom of the fox, that thrusts out
the badger, who digged and made room for him. It is the wisdom of
crocodiles, that shed tears when they would devour. But that which is
specially to be noted is, that those which (as Cicero says of Pompey)
are _sui amantes sine rivali_, are many times unfortunate. And whereas
they have all their time sacrificed to themselves, they become in the
end themselves sacrifices to the inconstancy of fortune, whose wings
they thought by their self-wisdom to have pinioned.

    _Francis Bacon._


Ambition is like choler; which is an humour that maketh men active,
earnest, full of alacrity, and stirring, if it be not stopped. But if
it be stopped, and cannot have his way, it becometh adust, and thereby
malign and venomous. So ambitious men, if they find the way open for
their rising, and still get forward, they are rather busy than
dangerous; but if they be checked in their desires, they become
secretly discontent, and look upon men and matters with an evil eye,
and are best pleased when things go backward; which is the worst
property in a servant of a prince or state. Therefore it is good for
princes, if they use ambitious men, to handle it so as they be still
progressive and not retrograde: which because it cannot be without
inconvenience, it is good not to use such natures at all. For if they
rise not with their service, they will take order to make their
service fall with them. But since we have said it were good not to use
men of ambitious natures, except it be upon necessity, it is fit we
speak in what cases they are of necessity. Good commanders in the wars
must be taken, be they never so ambitious: for the use of their
service dispenseth with the rest; and to take a soldier without
ambition is to pull off his spurs. There is also great use of
ambitious men in being screens to princes in matters of danger and
envy: for no man will take that part, except he be like a seeled dove,
that mounts and mounts because he cannot see about him. There is use
also of ambitious men in pulling down the greatness of any subject
that overtops: as Tiberius used Macro in the pulling down of Sejanus.
Since therefore they must be used in such cases, there resteth to
speak how they must be bridled, that they may be less dangerous. There
is less danger of them if they be of mean birth, than if they be
noble; and if they be rather harsh of nature, than gracious and
popular; and if they be rather new raised, than grown cunning and
fortified in their greatness. It is counted by some a weakness in
princes to have favourites; but it is of all others the best remedy
against ambitious great-ones. For when the way of pleasuring and
displeasuring lieth by the favourite, it is impossible any other
should be over-great. Another means to curb them, is to balance them
by others as proud as they. But then there must be some middle
counsellors, to keep things steady; for without that ballast the ship
will roll too much. At the least, a prince may animate and inure some
meaner persons to be, as it were, scourges to ambitious men. As for
the having of them obnoxious to ruin, if they be of fearful natures,
it may do well; but if they be stout and daring, it may precipitate
their designs, and prove dangerous. As for the pulling of them down,
if the affairs require it, and that it may be done with safety
suddenly, the only way is the interchange continually of favours and
disgraces; whereby they may not know what to expect, and be, as it
were, in a wood. Of ambitions, it is less harmful, the ambition to
prevail in great things, than that other, to appear in every thing;
for that breeds confusion, and mars business. But yet it is less
danger to have an ambitious man stirring in business, than great in
dependences. He that seeketh to be eminent amongst able men hath a
great task; but that is ever good for the public. But he that plots to
be the only figure amongst cyphers is the decay of an whole age.
Honour hath three things in it: the vantage ground to do good; the
approach to kings and principal persons; and the raising of a man's
own fortunes. He that hath the best of these intentions, when he
aspireth, is an honest man; and that prince that can discern of these
intentions in another that aspireth, is a wise prince. Generally, let
princes and states choose such ministers as are more sensible of duty
than of rising; and such as love business rather upon conscience than
upon bravery: and let them discern a busy nature from a willing mind.

    _Francis Bacon._


God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed it is the purest of
human pleasures. It is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man;
without which, buildings and palaces are but gross handyworks: and a
man shall ever see that when ages grow to civility and elegancy, men
come to build stately sooner than to garden finely; as if gardening
were the greater perfection. I do hold it, in the royal ordering of
gardens, there ought to be gardens for all the months in the year; in
which, severally, things of beauty may then be in season. For December
and January and the latter part of November, you must take such things
as are green all winter: holly; ivy; bays; juniper; cypress-trees;
yew; pine-apple-trees; fir-trees; rosemary; lavender; periwinkle, the
white, the purple, and the blue; germander; flags; orange-trees,
lemon-trees, and myrtles, if they be stoved; and sweet marjoram, warm
set. There followeth, for the latter part of January and February, the
mezereon-tree, which then blossoms; crocus vernus, both the yellow and
the gray; primroses; anemones; the early tulippa; hyacinthus
orientalis; chamaïris; fritillaria. For March, there come violets,
specially the single blue, which are the earliest; the yellow
daffodil; the daisy; the almond-tree in blossom; the peach-tree in
blossom; the cornelian-tree in blossom; sweet briar. In April follow,
the double white violet; the wall-flower; the stock-gillyflower; the
cowslip; flower-delices, and lilies of all natures; rosemary flowers;
the tulippa; the double piony; the pale daffadil; the French
honeysuckle; the cherry-tree in blossom; the dammasin and plum-trees
in blossom; the white-thorn in leaf; the lilac-tree. In May and June
come pinks of all sorts, specially the blush pink; roses of all kinds,
except the musk, which comes later; honeysuckles; strawberries;
bugloss; columbine; the French marygold; flos Africanus; cherry-tree
in fruit; ribes; figs in fruit; rasps; vine flowers; lavender in
flower; the sweet satyrian, with the white flower; herba muscaria;
lilium convallium; the apple-tree in blossom. In July come
gillyflowers of all varieties; musk-roses; the lime-tree in blossom;
early pears and plums in fruit; ginitings; quadlins. In August come
plums of all sorts in fruit; pears; apricocks; berberries; filberds;
musk-melons; monkshoods, of all colours. In September come grapes;
apples; poppies of all colours; peaches; melocotones; nectarines;
cornelians; wardens; quinces. In October and the beginning of November
come services; medlars, bullises; roses cut or removed to come late;
hollyokes; and such like. These particulars are for the climate of
London; but my meaning is perceived, that you may have _ver
perpetuum_, as the place affords.

And because the breath of flowers is far sweeter in the air (where it
comes and goes, like the warbling of music) than in the hand,
therefore nothing is more fit for that delight, than to know what be
the flowers and plants that do best perfume the air. Roses, damask and
red, are fast flowers of their smells; so that you may walk by a whole
row of them, and find nothing of their sweetness; yea, though it be in
a morning's dew. Bays likewise yield no smell as they grow. Rosemary
little; nor sweet marjoram. That which above all others yields the
sweetest smell in the air, is the violet; specially the white double
violet, which comes twice a year; about the middle of April, and about
Bartholomewtide. Next to that is the musk-rose. Then the
strawberry-leaves dying, which [yield] a most excellent cordial smell.
Then the flower of the vines; it is a little dust, like the dust of a
bent, which grows upon the cluster in the first coming forth. Then
sweet-briar. Then wall-flowers, which are very delightful to be set
under a parlour or lower chamber window. Then pinks and gillyflowers,
specially the matted pink and clove gillyflower. Then the flowers of
the lime-tree. Then the honeysuckles, so they be somewhat afar off. Of
bean flowers I speak not, because they are field flowers. But those
which perfume the air most delightfully, not passed by as the rest,
but being trodden upon and crushed, are three: that is, burnet, wild
thyme, and water-mints. Therefore you are to set whole alleys of them,
to have the pleasure when you walk or tread.

For gardens (speaking of those which are indeed prince-like, as we
have done of buildings), the contents ought not to be well under
thirty acres of ground, and to be divided into three parts: a green in
the entrance; a heath or desert in the going forth; and the main
garden in the midst; besides alleys on both sides. And I like well
that four acres of ground be assigned to the green; six to the heath;
four and four to either side; and twelve to the main garden. The green
hath two pleasures: the one, because nothing is more pleasant to the
eye than green grass kept finely shorn; the other, because it will
give you a fair alley in the midst, by which you may go in front upon
a stately hedge, which is to enclose the garden. But because the alley
will be long, and, in great heat of the year or day, you ought not to
buy the shade in the garden by going in the sun thorough the green,
therefore you are, of either side the green, to plant a covert alley,
upon carpenter's work, about twelve foot in height, by which you may
go in shade into the garden. As for the making of knots or figures
with divers-coloured earths, that they may lie under the windows of
the house on that side which the garden stands, they be but toys: you
may see as good sights many times in tarts. The garden is best to be
square; encompassed, on all the four sides, with a stately arched
hedge. The arches to be upon pillars of carpenter's work, of some ten
foot high and six foot broad; and the spaces between of the same
dimension with the breadth of the arch. Over the arches let there be
an entire hedge, of some four foot high, framed also upon carpenter's
work; and upon the upper hedge, over every arch, a little turret, with
a belly, enough to receive a cage of birds; and over every space
between the arches some other little figure, with broad plates of
round coloured glass, gilt, for the sun to play upon. But this hedge I
intend to be raised upon a bank, not steep, but gently slope, of some
six foot, set all with flowers. Also I understand that this square of
the garden should not be the whole breadth of the ground, but to
leave, on either side, ground enough for diversity of side alleys;
unto which the two covert alleys of the green may deliver you. But
there must be no alleys with hedges at either end of this great
enclosure: not at the hither end, for letting your prospect upon this
fair hedge from the green; nor at the further end, for letting your
prospect from the hedge, through the arches, upon the heath.

For the ordering of the ground within the great hedge, I leave it to
variety of device; advising; nevertheless, that whatsoever form you
cast it into, first, it be not too busy or full of work. Wherein I,
for my part, do not like images cut out in juniper or other garden
stuff: they be for children. Little low hedges, round, like welts,
with some pretty pyramides, I like well; and in some places, fair
columns upon frames of carpenter's work. I would also have the alleys
spacious and fair. You may have closer alleys upon the side grounds,
but none in the main garden. I wish also, in the very middle, a fair
mount, with three ascents, and alleys, enough for four to walk
abreast; which I would have to be perfect circles, without any
bulwarks or embossments; and the whole mount to be thirty foot high;
and some fine banqueting-house, with some chimneys neatly cast, and
without too much glass.

For fountains, they are a great beauty and refreshment; but pools mar
all, and make the garden unwholesome and full of flies and frogs.
Fountains I intend to be of two natures: the one, that sprinkleth or
spouteth water; the other, a fair receipt of water, of some thirty or
forty foot square, but without fish, or slime, or mud. For the first,
the ornaments of images gilt, or of marble, which are in use, do well:
but the main matter is, so to convey the water, as it never stay,
either in the bowls or in the cistern; that the water be never by rest
discoloured, green or red or the like, or gather any mossiness or
putrefaction. Besides that, it is to be cleansed every day by the
hand. Also some steps up to it, and some fine pavement about it, doth
well. As for the other kind of fountain, which we may call a bathing
pool, it may admit much curiosity and beauty, wherewith we will not
trouble ourselves: as, that the bottom be finely paved, and with
images; the sides likewise; and withal embellished with coloured
glass, and such things of lustre; encompassed also with fine rails of
low statuas. But the main point is the same which we mentioned in the
former kind of fountain; which is, that the water be in perpetual
motion, fed by a water higher than the pool, and delivered into it by
fair spouts, and then discharged away under ground, by some equality
of bores, that it stay little. And for fine devices, of arching water
without spilling, and making it rise in several forms (of feathers,
drinking glasses, canopies, and the like), they be pretty things to
look on, but nothing to health and sweetness.

For the heath, which was the third part of our plot, I wish it to be
framed, as much as may be, to a natural wildness. Trees I would have
none in it; but some thickets, made only of sweet-briar and
honeysuckle, and some wild vine amongst; and the ground set with
violets, strawberries, and primroses. For these are sweet, and prosper
in the shade. And these to be in the heath, here and there, not in any
order. I like also little heaps, in the nature of mole-hills (such as
are in wild heaths), to be set, some with wild thyme; some with pinks;
some with germander, that gives a good flower to the eye; some with
periwinkle; some with violets; some with strawberries; some with
cowslips; some with daisies; some with red roses; some with lilium
convallium; some with sweet-williams red; some with bear's-foot; and
the like low flowers, being withal sweet and sightly. Part of which
heaps to be with standards of little bushes pricked upon their top,
and part without. The standards to be roses; juniper; holly;
berberries (but here and there, because of the smell of their
blossom); red currants; gooseberries; rosemary; sweet-briar; and such
like. But these standards to be kept with cutting, that they grow not
out of course.

For the side grounds, you are to fill them with variety of alleys,
private, to give a full shade, some of them, wheresoever the sun be.
You are to frame some of them likewise for shelter, that when the wind
blows sharp, you may walk as in a gallery. And those alleys must be
likewise hedged at both ends, to keep out the wind; and these closer
alleys must be ever finely gravelled, and no grass, because of going
wet. In many of these alleys likewise, you are to set fruit-trees of
all sorts; as well upon the walls as in ranges. And this would be
generally observed, that the borders, wherein you plant your
fruit-trees, be fair and large, and low, and not steep; and set with
fine flowers, but thin and sparingly, lest they deceive the trees. At
the end of both the side grounds, I would have a mount of some pretty
height, leaving the wall of the enclosure breast high, to look abroad
into the fields.

For the main garden, I do not deny but there should be some fair
alleys, ranged on both sides with fruit-trees; and some pretty tufts
of fruit-trees, and arbours with seats, set in some decent order; but
these to be by no means set too thick; but to leave the main garden so
as it be not close, but the air open and free. For as for shade, I
would have you rest upon the alleys of the side grounds, there to
walk, if you be disposed, in the heat of the year or day; but to make
account that the main garden is for the more temperate parts of the
year; and in the heat of summer, for the morning and the evening, or
over-cast days.

For aviaries, I like them not, except they be of that largeness as
they may be turfed, and have living plants and bushes set in them;
that the birds may have more scope and natural nestling, and that no
foulness appear in the floor of the aviary. So I have made a platform
of a princely garden, partly by precept, partly by drawing, not a
model, but some general lines of it; and in this I have spared no
cost. But it is nothing for great princes, that, for the most part,
taking advice with workmen, with no less cost set their things
together; and sometimes add statuas, and such things, for state and
magnificence, but nothing to the true pleasure of a garden.

    _Francis Bacon._


Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief
use for delight is in privateness and retiring; for ornament, is in
discourse; and for ability, is in the judgement and disposition of
business. For expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of
particulars, one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots and
marshalling of affairs, come best from those that are learned. To
spend too much time in studies is sloth; to use them too much for
ornament is affectation; to make judgement wholly by their rules is
the humour of the scholar. They perfect nature, and are perfected by
experience; for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need
proyning by study; and studies themselves do give forth directions too
much at large, except they be bounded in by experience. Crafty men
contemn studies; simple men admire them; and wise men use them: for
they teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom without them and
above them, won by observation. Read not to contradict and confute;
nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse;
but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be
swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books
are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously;
and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some
books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others;
but that would be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner
sort of books; else distilled books are like common distilled waters,
flashy things. Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and
writing an exact man. And therefore, if a man write little, he had
need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a
present wit; and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to
seem to know that he doth not. Histories make men wise; poets witty;
the mathematics subtile; natural philosophy deep; moral grave; logic
and rhetoric able to contend. _Abeunt studia in mores._ Nay, there is
no stond or impediment in the wit, but may be wrought out by fit
studies: like as diseases of the body may have appropriate exercises.
Bowling is good for the stone and reins; shooting for the lungs and
breast; gentle walking for the stomach; riding for the head; and the
like. So if a man's wit be wandering, let him study the mathematics;
for in demonstrations, if his wit be called away never so little, he
must begin again: if his wit be not apt to distinguish or find
differences, let him study the schoolmen; for they are _cymini
sectores_: if he be not apt to beat over matters, and to call one
thing to prove and illustrate another, let him study the lawyers'
cases: so every defect of the mind may have a special receipt.

    _Francis Bacon._


There is scarce any profession in the commonwealth more necessary,
which is so slightly performed. The reasons whereof I conceive to be
these: First, young scholars make this calling their refuge; yea,
perchance, before they have taken any degree in the university,
commence schoolmasters in the country, as if nothing else were
required to set up this profession but only a rod and a ferula.
Secondly, others who are able, use it only as a passage to better
preferment, to patch the rents in their present fortune, till they can
provide a new one, and betake themselves to some more gainful calling.
Thirdly, they are disheartened from doing their best with the
miserable reward which in some places they receive, being masters to
their children and slaves to their parents. Fourthly, being grown
rich, they grow negligent, and scorn to touch the school but by the
proxy of the usher. But see how well our schoolmaster behaves himself.

His genius inclines him with delight to his profession. Some men had
as well be schoolboys as schoolmasters, to be tied to the school, as
Cooper's Dictionary and Scapula's Lexicon are chained to the desk
therein; and though great scholars, and skilful in other arts, are
bunglers in this. But God, of His goodness, hath fitted several men
for several callings, that the necessity of Church and State, in all
conditions, may be provided for. So that he who beholds the fabric
thereof, may say, God hewed out the stone, and appointed it to lie in
this very place, for it would fit none other so well, and here it doth
most excellent. And thus God mouldeth some for a schoolmaster's life,
undertaking it with desire and delight, and discharging it with
dexterity and happy success.

He studieth his scholars' natures as carefully as they their books;
and ranks their dispositions into several forms. And though it may
seem difficult for him in a great school to descend to all
particulars, yet experienced schoolmasters may quickly make a grammar
of boys' natures, and reduce them all--saving some few exceptions--to
these general rules:

1. Those that are ingenious and industrious. The conjunction of two
such planets in a youth presage much good unto him. To such a lad a
frown may be a whipping, and a whipping a death; yea, where their
master whips them once, shame whips them all the week after. Such
natures he useth with all gentleness.

2. Those that are ingenious and idle. These think with the hare in the
fable, that running with snails--so they count the rest of their
schoolfellows--they shall come soon enough to the post, though
sleeping a good while before their starting. Oh, a good rod would
finely take them napping.

3. Those that are dull and diligent. Wines, the stronger they be, the
more lees they have when they are new. Many boys are muddy-headed till
they be clarified with age, and such afterwards prove the best.
Bristol diamonds are both bright, and squared, and pointed by nature,
and yet are soft and worthless; whereas orient ones in India are rough
and rugged naturally. Hard, rugged, and dull natures of youth, acquit
themselves afterwards the jewels of the country, and therefore their
dulness at first is to be borne with, if they be diligent. That
schoolmaster deserves to be beaten himself who beats nature in a boy
for a fault. And I question whether all the whipping in the world can
make their parts which are naturally sluggish rise one minute before
the hour nature hath appointed.

4. Those that are invincibly dull, and negligent also. Correction may
reform the latter, not amend the former. All the whetting in the world
can never set a razor's edge on that which hath no steel in it. Such
boys he consigneth over to other professions. Shipwrights and
boat-makers will choose those crooked pieces of timber which other
carpenters refuse. Those may make excellent merchants and mechanics
which will not serve for scholars.

He is able, diligent, and methodical in his teaching; not leading them
rather in a circle than forwards. He minces his precepts for children
to swallow, hanging clogs on the nimbleness of his own soul, that his
scholars may go along with him.

He is and will be known to be an absolute monarch in his school. If
cockering mothers proffer him money to purchase their sons' exemption
from his rod--to live, as it were, in a peculiar, out of their
master's jurisdiction--with disdain he refuseth it, and scorns the
late custom in some places of commuting whipping into money, and
ransoming boys from the rod at a set price. If he hath a stubborn
youth, correction-proof, he debaseth not his authority by contesting
with him, but fairly, if he can, puts him away before his obstinacy
hath infected others.

He is moderate in inflicting deserved correction. Many a schoolmaster
better answereth the name _paidotribes_ than _paidagogos_, rather
tearing his scholars' flesh with whipping than giving them good
education. No wonder if his scholars hate the muses, being presented
unto them in the shape of fiends and furies.

Such an Orbilius mars more scholars than he makes. Their tyranny hath
caused many tongues to stammer which spake plain by nature, and whose
stuttering at first was nothing else but fears quavering on their
speech at their master's presence; and whose mauling them about their
heads hath dulled those who in quickness exceeded their master.

He makes his school free to him who sues to him _in formâ pauperis_.
And surely learning is the greatest alms that can be given. But he is
a beast who, because the poor scholar cannot pay him his wages, pays
the scholar in his whipping; rather are diligent lads to be encouraged
with all excitements to learning. This minds me of what I have heard
concerning Mr. Bust, that worthy late schoolmaster of Eton, who would
never suffer any wandering begging scholar--such as justly the statute
hath ranked in the fore-front of rogues--to come into his school, but
would thrust him out with earnestness--however privately charitable
unto him--lest his schoolboys should be disheartened from their books,
by seeing some scholars after their studying in the university
preferred to beggary.

He spoils not a good school to make thereof a bad college, therein to
teach his scholars logic. For, besides that logic may have an action
of trespass against grammar for encroaching on her liberties,
syllogisms are solecisms taught in the school, and oftentimes they are
forced afterwards in the university to unlearn the fumbling skill they
had before.

Out of his school he is no way pedantical in carriage or discourse;
contenting himself to be rich in Latin, though he doth not gingle with
it in every company wherein he comes.

To conclude, let this, amongst other motives, make schoolmasters
careful in their place--that the eminences of their scholars have
commended the memories of their schoolmasters to posterity, who,
otherwise in obscurity, had altogether been forgotten. Who had ever
heard of R. Bond, in Lancashire, but for the breeding of learned
Ascham, his scholar? or of Hartgrave, in Brundly School, in the same
county, but because he was the first did teach worthy Dr. Whitaker?
Nor do I honour the memory of Mulcaster for anything so much as his
scholar, that gulf of learning, Bishop Andrews. This made the
Athenians, the day before the great feast of Theseus, their founder,
to sacrifice a ram to the memory of Conidas, his schoolmaster, that
first instructed him.

    _Thomas Fuller._


Nature calls us to meditate of death by those things which are the
instruments of acting it; and God by all the variety of His
providence, makes us see death everywhere, in all variety of
circumstances, and dressed up for all the fancies, and the expectation
of every single person. Nature hath given us one harvest every year,
but death hath two; and the spring and the autumn send throngs of men
and women to charnel-houses; and all the summer long, men are
recovering from their evils of the spring, till the dog-days come, and
then the Sirian star makes the summer deadly; and the fruits of autumn
are laid up for all the year's provision, and the man that gathers
them eats and surfeits, and dies and needs them not, and himself is
laid up for eternity; and he that escapes till winter, only stays for
another opportunity, which the distempers of that quarter minister to
him with great variety. Thus death reigns in all the portions of our
time. The autumn with its fruits provides disorders for us, and the
winter's cold turns them into sharp diseases, and the spring brings
flowers to strew our hearse, and the summer gives green turf and
brambles to bind upon our graves. Calentures and surfeit, cold and
agues, are the four quarters of the year; and you can go no whither,
but you tread upon a dead man's bones.

The wild fellow in Petronius, that escaped upon a broken table from
the furies of a shipwreck, as he was sunning himself upon the rocky
shore, espied a man rolled upon his floating bed of waves, ballasted
with sand in the folds of his garment, and carried by his civil enemy,
the sea, towards the shore to find a grave. And it cast him into some
sad thoughts, that peradventure this man's wife, in some part of the
continent, safe and warm, looks next month for the good man's return;
or, it may be, his son knows nothing of the tempest; or his father
thinks of that affectionate kiss which still is warm upon the good old
man's cheek, ever since he took a kind farewell, and he weeps with joy
to think how blessed he shall be when his beloved boy returns into the
circle of his father's arms. These are the thoughts of mortals; this
is the end and sum of all their designs. A dark night and an ill
guide, a boisterous sea and a broken cable, a hard rock and a rough
wind, dashed in pieces the fortune of a whole family; and they that
shall weep loudest for the accident are not yet entered into the
storm, and yet have suffered shipwreck. Then, looking upon the
carcass, he knew it, and found it to be the master of the ship, who,
the day before, cast up the accounts of his patrimony and his trade,
and named the day when he thought to be at home. See how the man
swims, who was so angry two days since! His passions are becalmed with
the storm, his accounts cast up, his cares at an end, his voyage done,
and his gains are the strange events of death, which, whether they be
good or evil, the men that are alive seldom trouble themselves
concerning the interest of the dead.

It is a mighty change that is made by the death of every person, and
it is visible to us who are alive. Reckon but from the sprightfulness
of youth, and the fair cheeks and full eyes of childhood; from the
vigorousness and strong flexure of the joints of five-and-twenty, to
the hollowness and deadly paleness, to the loathsomeness and horror of
a three days' burial, and we shall perceive the distance to be very
great and very strange. But so have I seen a rose newly springing from
the clefts of its hood, and, at first, it was fair as the morning, and
full with the dew of heaven, as a lamb's fleece; but when a ruder
breath hath forced open its virgin modesty, and dismantled its too
youthful and unripe retirements, it began to put on darkness, and to
decline to softness and the symptoms of a sickly age; it bowed the
head, and broke its stalk; and at night, having lost some of its
leaves, and all its beauty, it fell into the portion of weeds and
out-worn faces. The same is the portion of every man and every woman;
the heritage of worms and serpents, rottenness and cold dishonour, and
our beauty so changed, that our acquaintance quickly knew us not; and
that change mingled with so much horror, or else meets so with our
fears and weak discoursings, that they who, six hours ago, tended upon
us either with charitable or ambitious services, cannot, without some
regret, stay in the room alone, where the body lies stripped of its
life and honour. I have read of a fair young German gentleman, who,
living, often refused to be pictured, but put off the importunity of
his friends' desire by giving way, that after a few days' burial, they
might send a painter to his vault, and, if they saw cause for it, draw
the image of his death unto the life. They did so, and found his face
half eaten, and his midriff and backbone full of serpents; and so he
stands pictured among his armed ancestors. So does the fairest beauty
change; and it will be as bad with you and me; and then what servants
shall we have to wait upon us in the grave? what friends to visit us?
what officious people to cleanse away the moist and unwholesome cloud
reflected upon our faces from the sides of the weeping vaults, which
are the longest weepers for our funeral?

A man may read a sermon, the best and most passionate that ever man
preached, if he shall but enter into the sepulchres of kings. In the
same Escurial where the Spanish princes live in greatness and power,
and decree war or peace, they have wisely placed a cemetery, where
their ashes and their glory shall sleep till time shall be no more;
and where our kings have been crowned, their ancestors lie interred,
and they must walk over their grandsire's head to take his crown.
There is an acre sown with royal seed, the copy of the greatest
change, from rich to naked, from ceiled roofs to arched coffins, from
living like gods to die like men. There is enough to cool the flames
of lust, to abate the heights of pride, to appease the itch of
covetous desires, to sully and dash out the dissembling colours of a
lustful, artificial, and imaginary beauty. There the warlike and the
peaceful, the fortunate and the miserable, the beloved and the
despised princes mingle their dust, and pay down their symbol of
mortality, and tell all the world that, when we die, our ashes shall
be equal to kings', and our accounts easier, and our pains for our
crowns shall be less.

    _Jeremy Taylor._


Winter, the sworne enemie to summer, the friend to none but colliers
and woodmongers: the frostbitten churl that hangs his nose still over
the fire: the dog that bites fruits, and the devil that cuts down
trees, the unconscionable binder up of vintners' faggots, and the only
consumer of burnt sack and sugar: This cousin to Death, father to
sickness, and brother to old age, shall not show his hoary bald-pate
in this climate of ours (according to our usual computation) upon the
twelfth day of December, at the first entering of the sun into the
first minute of the sign Capricorn, when the said Sun shall be at his
greatest south declination from the equinoctial line, and so forth,
with much more such stuff than any mere Englishman can understand--no,
my countrymen, never beat the bush so long to find out Winter, where
he lies, like a beggar shivering with cold, but take these from me as
certain and most infallible rules, know when Winter plums are ripe and
ready to be gathered.

When Charity blows her nails and is ready to starve, yet not so much
as a watchman will lend her a flap of his frieze gown to keep her
warm: when tradesmen shut up shops, by reason their frozen-hearted
creditors go about to nip them with beggary: when the price of
sea-coal riseth, and the price of men's labour falleth: when every
chimney casts out smoke, but scarce any door opens to cast so much as
a maribone to a dog to gnaw; when beasts die for want of fodder in the
field, and men are ready to famish for want of food in the city; when
the first word that a wench speaks at your coming into the room in a
morning is, "Prithee send for some faggots," and the best comfort a
sawyer beats you withal is to say, "What will you give me?"; when
gluttons blow their pottage to cool them; and Prentices blow their
nails to heat them; and lastly when the Thames is covered over with
ice and men's hearts caked over and crusted with cruelty: Then mayest
thou or any man be bold to swear it is winter.

    _Thomas Dekker._


The theater is your Poets Royal Exchange, upon which their Muses, (yt
are now turnd to Merchants,) meeting, barter away that light commodity
of words for a lighter ware then words, _Plaudites_, and the _breath_
of the great _Beast_; which (like the threatnings of two Cowards)
vanish all into air. _Plaiers_ and their _Factors_, who put away the
stuffe, and make the best of it they possibly can (as indeed tis their
parts so to doe) your Gallant, your Courtier, and your Capten had wont
to be the soundest paymaisters; and I thinke are still the surest
chapmen: and these, by meanes that their heades are well stockt, deale
upon this comical freight by the grosse: when your _Groundling_, and
_gallery-Commoner_ buyes his sport by the penny, and, like a _Hagler_,
is glad to utter it againe by retailing.

Sithence then the place is so free in entertainment, allowing a stoole
as well to the Farmers sonne as to your Templer: that your Stinkard
has the selfe-same libertie to be there in his Tobacco-Fumes, which
your sweet Courtier hath: and that your Car-man and Tinker claime as
strong a voice in their suffrage, and sit to give judgment on the
plaies life and death, as well as the prowdest _Momus_ among the
tribe[s] of _Critick_: It is fit that hee, whom the most tailors bils
do make roome for, when he comes, should not be basely (like a vyoll)
casd up in a corner.

Whether therefore the gatherers of the publique or private Play-house
stand to receive the afternoones rent, let our Gallant (having paid
it) presently advance himselfe up to the Throne of the Stage. I meane
not into the Lords roome (which is now but the Stages Suburbs): No,
those boxes, by the iniquity of custome, conspiracy of waiting-women
and Gentlemen-Ushers, that there sweat together, and the covetousnes
of Sharers, are contemptibly thrust into the reare, and much new
Satten is there dambd, by being smothred to death in darknesse. But on
the very Rushes where the Comedy is to daunce, yea, and under the
state of _Cambises_ himselfe must our fethered _Estridge_, like a
piece of Ordnance, be planted valiantly (because impudently) beating
downe the mewes and hisses of the opposed rascality.

For do but cast up a reckoning, what large cummings-in are pursd up by
sitting on the Stage. First a conspicuous _Eminence_ is gotten; by
which meanes, the best and most essenciall parts of a Gallant (good
cloathes, a proportionable legge, white hand, the Persian lock, and a
tollerable beard) are perfectly revealed.

By sitting on the stage, you have a signd patent to engrosse the whole
commodity of Censure; may lawfully presume to be a Girder; and stand
at the helme to steere the passage of _scænes_; yet / no man shall
once offer to hinder you from obtaining the title of an insolent,
overweening Coxcombe.

By sitting on the stage, you may (without travelling for it) at the
very next doore aske whose play it is: and, by that _Quest_ of
_Inquiry_, the law warrants you to avoid much mistaking: if you know
not ye author, you may raile against him: and peradventure so behave
your selfe, that you may enforce the Author to know you.

By sitting on the stage, if you be a Knight, you may happily get you a
Mistress: if a mere _Fleet-street_ Gentleman, a wife: but assure
yourselfe, by continuall residence, you are the first and principall
man in election to begin the number of _We three_.

By spreading your body on the stage, and by being a Justice in
examining of plaies, you shall put your selfe into such true
_scænical_ authority, that some Poet shall not dare to present his
Muse rudely upon your eyes, without having first unmaskt her at a
taverne, when you most knightly shal, for his paines, pay for both
their suppers.

By sitting on the stage, you may (with small cost) purchase the deere
acquaintance of the boys: have a good stoole for sixpence: at any time
know what particular part any of the infants present: get your match
lighted, examine the play-suits lace, and perhaps win wagers upon
laying 'tis copper, &c. And to conclude, whether you be a foole or a
Justice of peace, or a Capten, a Lord-Mayors sonne, or a dawcocke, a
knave, or an under-Sherife; of what stamp soever you be, currant, or
counterfet, the Stage, like time, will bring you to most perfect light
and lay you open: neither are you to be hunted from thence, though the
Scarecrows in the yard hoot at you, hisse at you, spit at you, yea,
throw durt even in your teeth: 'tis most Gentlemanlike patience to
endure all this, and to laugh at the silly Animals: but if the
_Rabble_, with a full throat, crie, away with the foole, you were
worse then a madman to tarry by it: for the Gentleman, and the foole
should never sit on the Stage together.

Mary, let this observation go hand in hand with the rest: or rather,
like a country-serving-man, some five yards before them. Present / not
your selfe on the Stage (especially at a new play) untill the quaking
prologue hath (by rubbing) got culor into his cheekes, and is ready to
give the trumpets their Cue, that hees upon point to enter: for then
it is time, as though you were one of the _properties_, or that you
dropt out of ye _Hangings_, to creepe from behind the Arras, with your
_Tripos_ or three-footed stoole in one hand, and a teston mounted
betweene a forefinger and a thumbe in the other: for if you should
bestow your person upon the vulgar, when the belly of the house is but
halfe full, your apparell is quite eaten up, the fashion lost, and the
proportion of your body in more danger to be devoured then if it were
served up in the Counter amongst the Powltry: avoid that as you would
the Bastome. It shall crowne you with rich commendation, to laugh
alowd in the middest of the most serious and saddest scene of the
terriblest Tragedy: and to let that clapper (your tongue) be tost so
high, that all the house may ring of it: your Lords use it; your
Knights are Apes to the Lords, and do so too: your Inne-a-court-man is
Zany to the Knights, and (mary very scurvily) comes likewise limping
after it: bee thou a beagle to them all, and never lin snuffing, till
you have scented them: for by talking and laughing (like a Plough-man
in a Morris) you heap _Pelion_ upon _Ossa_, glory upon glory: As
first, all the eyes in the galleries will leave walking after the
Players, and onely follow you: the simplest dolt in the house snatches
up your name, and when he meetes you in the streetes, or that you fall
into his hands in the middle of a Watch, his word shall be taken for
you: heele cry _Hees such a gallant_, and you passe. Secondly, you
publish your temperance to the world, in that you seeme not to resort
thither to taste vaine pleasures with a hungrie appetite: but onely as
a Gentleman to spend a foolish houre or two, because you can doe
nothing else: Thirdly, you mightily disrelish the Audience, and
disgrace the Author: marry, you take up (though it be at the worst
hand) a strong opinion of your owne judgement, and inforce the Poet to
take pity of your weakenesse, and, by some dedicated sonnet, to bring
you into a better paradice, onely to stop your mouth.

If you can (either for love or money) provide your selfe a lodging by
the water-side: for, above the convenience it brings to / shun
Shoulder-clapping, and to ship away your Cockatrice betimes in the
morning, it addes a kind of-state unto you, to be carried from thence
to the staires of your Play-house: hate a Sculler (remember that)
worse then to be acquainted with one o' th' Scullery. No, your Oares
are your onely Sea-crabs, boord them, and take heed you never go twice
together with one paire: often shifting is a great credit to
Gentlemen; and that dividing of your fare wil make the poore
watersnaks be ready to pul you in peeces to enjoy your custome: No
matter whether upon landing, you have money or no: you may swim in
twentie of their boates over the river upon _Ticket_: marry, when
silver comes in, remember to pay treble their fare, and it will make
your Flounder-catchers to send more thankes after you, when you doe
not draw, then when you doe; for they know, It will be their owne
another daie.

Before the Play begins, fall to cardes: you may win or loose (as
_Fencers_ doe in a prize) and beate one another by confederacie, yet
share the money when you meete at supper: notwithstanding, to gul the
_Raggamuffins_ that stand aloofe gaping at you, throw the cards
(having first torne foure or five of them) round about the Stage, just
upon the third sound, as though you had lost: it skils not if the
foure knaves ly on their backs, and outface the Audience; theres none
such fooles as dare take exceptions at them, because, ere the play go
off, better knaves than they will fall into the company.

Now sir, if the writer be a fellow that hath either epigrammed you, or
hath had a flirt at your mistris, or hath brought either your feather,
or your red beard, or your little legs &c. on the stage, you shall
disgrace him worse then by tossing him in a blancket, or giving him
the bastinado in a Taverne, if, in the middle of his play, (bee it
Pastoral or Comedy, Morall or Tragedic) you rise with a screwd and
discontented face from your stoole to be gone: no matter whether the
Scenes be good or no; the better they are the worse do you distast
them: and, beeing on your feet, sneake not away like a coward, but
salute all your gentle acquaintance, that are spred either on the
rushes, or on stooles about you, and draw what troope you can from the
stage after you: the _Mimicks_ are beholden to you, for allowing them
elbow roome: their Poet cries, perhaps, a pox go with you, but care
not for that, theres no musick without frets.

Mary, if either the company, or indisposition of the weather binde you
to sit it out, my counsell is then that you turne plain Ape, take up a
rush, and tickle the earnest eares of your fellow gallants, to make
other fooles fall a laughing: mewe at passionate speeches, blare at
merrie, finde fault with the musicke, whew at the childrens Action,
whistle at the songs: and above all, curse the sharers, that whereas
the same day you had bestowed forty shillings on an embrodered Felt
and Feather, (Scotch-fashion) for your mistres in the Court, within
two houres after, you encounter with the very same block on the stage,
when the haberdasher swore to you the impression was extant but that

To conclude, hoard up the finest play-scraps you can get, upon which
your leane wit may most favourly feede, for want of other stuffe, when
the _Arcadian_ and _Euphuized_ gentlewomen have their tongues
sharpened to set upon you: that qualitie (next to your shuttlecocke)
is the onely furniture to a Courtier thats but a new beginner, and is
but in his A B C of complement. The next places that are filled, after
the Play-houses bee emptied, are (or ought to be) Tavernes: into a
Taverne then let us next march, where the braines of one Hogshead must
be beaten out to make up another.

    _Thomas Dekker._


It is a hard and nice subject for a man to write of himself; it grates
his own heart to say anything of disparagement, and the reader's ears
to hear anything of praise from him. There is no danger from me of
offending him in this kind; neither my mind, nor my body, nor my
fortune, allow me any materials for that vanity. It is sufficient, for
my own contentment, that they have preserved me from being scandalous,
or remarkable on the defective side. But besides that, I shall here
speak of myself only in relation to the subject of these precedent
discourses, and shall be likelier thereby to fall into the contempt,
than rise up to the estimation of most people. As far as my memory can
return back into my past life, before I knew or was capable of
guessing what the world, or glories, or business of it were, the
natural affections of my soul gave a secret bent of aversion from
them, as some plants are said to turn away from others, by an
antipathy imperceptible to themselves, and inscrutable to man's
understanding. Even when I was a very young boy at school, instead of
running about on holidays, and playing with my fellows, I was wont to
steal from them, and walk into the fields, either alone with a book,
or with some one companion, if I could find any of the same temper. I
was then, too, so much an enemy to constraint, that my masters could
never prevail on me, by any persuasions or encouragements, to learn,
without book, the common rules of grammar, in which they dispensed
with me alone, because they found I made a shift to do the usual
exercise out of my own reading and observation. That I was then of the
same mind as I am now--which, I confess, I wonder at myself--may
appear at the latter end of an ode which I made when I was but
thirteen years old, and which was then printed, with many other
verses. The beginning of it is boyish; but of this part which I here
set down, if a very little were corrected, I should hardly now be much

    This only grant me, that my means may lie
    Too low for envy, for contempt too high.
              Some honour I would have,
    Not from great deeds, but good alone;
    Th' unknown are better than ill-known.
              Rumour can ope the grave;
    Acquaintance I would have; but when 't depends
    Not on the number, but the choice of friends.

    Books should, not business, entertain the light,
    And sleep, as undisturbed as death, the night.
              My house a cottage, more
    Than palace, and should fitting be
    For all my use, no luxury.
              My garden painted o'er
    With Nature's hand, not Art's; and pleasures yield,
    Horace might envy in his Sabine field.

    Thus would I double my life's fading space,
    For he that runs it well, twice runs his race.
              And in this true delight,
    These unbought sports, that happy state,
    I would not fear nor wish my fate,
              But boldly say each night,
    To-morrow let my sun his beams display,
    Or in clouds hide them; I have lived to-day.

You may see by it I was even then acquainted with the poets, for the
conclusion is taken out of Horace; and perhaps it was the immature and
immoderate love of them which stamped first, or rather engraved, the
characters in me. They were like letters cut in the bark of a young
tree, which, with the tree, still grow proportionably. But how this
love came to be produced in me so early, is a hard question: I believe
I can tell the particular little chance that filled my head first with
such chimes of verse, as have never since left ringing there: for I
remember when I began to read, and take some pleasure in it, there was
wont to lie in my mother's parlour--I know not by what accident, for
she herself never in her life read any book but of devotion--but there
was wont to lie Spenser's works; this I happened to fall upon, and was
infinitely delighted with the stories of the knights, and giants, and
monsters, and brave houses, which I found everywhere there--though my
understanding had little to do with all this--and by degrees, with the
tinkling of the rhyme, and dance of the numbers; so that I think I had
read him all over before I was twelve years old. With these affections
of mind, and my heart wholly set upon letters, I went to the
university; but was soon torn from thence by that public violent
storm, which would suffer nothing to stand where it did, but rooted up
every plant, even from the princely cedars, to me, the hyssop. Yet I
had as good fortune as could have befallen me in such a tempest; for I
was cast by it into the family of one of the best persons, and into
the court of one of the best princesses in the world. Now, though I
was here engaged in ways most contrary to the original design of my
life; that is, into much company, and no small business, and into a
daily sight of greatness, both militant and triumphant--for that was
the state then of the English and the French courts--yet all this was
so far from altering my opinion, that it only added the confirmation
of reason to that which was before but natural inclination. I saw
plainly all the paint of that kind of life, the nearer I came to it;
and that beauty which I did not fall in love with, when, for aught I
knew, it was real, was not like to bewitch or entice me when I saw it
was adulterate. I met with several great persons, whom I liked very
well, but could not perceive that any part of their greatness was to
be liked or desired, no more than I would be glad or content to be in
a storm, though I saw many ships which rid safely and bravely in it. A
storm would not agree with my stomach, if it did with my courage;
though I was in a crowd of as good company as could be found anywhere,
though I was in business of great and honourable trust, though I eat
at the best table, and enjoyed the best conveniences for present
subsistence that ought to be desired by a man of my condition, in
banishment and public distresses; yet I could not abstain from
renewing my old school-boy's wish, in a copy of verses to the same

    Well, then, I now do plainly see
    This busy world and I shall ne'er agree, &c.

And I never then proposed to myself any other advantage from his
majesty's happy restoration, but the getting into some moderately
convenient retreat in the country, which I thought in that case I
might easily have compassed, as well as some others, who, with no
greater probabilities or pretences, have arrived to extraordinary
fortunes. But I had before written a shrewd prophecy against myself,
and I think Apollo inspired me in the truth, though not in the
elegance of it--

    Thou neither great at court, nor in the war,
    Nor at the Exchange shalt be, nor at the wrangling bar;
    Content thyself with the small barren praise
    Which thy neglected verse does raise, &c.

However, by the failing of the forces which I had expected, I did not
quit the design which I had resolved on; I cast myself into it a
_corpus perditum_, without making capitulations, or taking counsel of
fortune. But God laughs at man, who says to his soul, Take thy ease: I
met presently not only with many little incumbrances and impediments,
but with so much sickness--a new misfortune to me--as would have
spoiled the happiness of an emperor as well as mine. Yet I do neither
repent nor alter my course; _Non ego perfidum dixi sacramentum_.[3]
Nothing shall separate me from a mistress which I have loved so long,
and have now at last married; though she neither has brought me a rich
portion, nor lived yet so quietly with me as I hoped from her.

[Footnote 3: I have not falsely sworn.]

        _Nec vos dulcissima mundi
    Nomina, vos musæ, libertas, otia, libri,
    Hortique, sylvæque, animâ remanente relinquam_.

            Nor by me e'er shall you,
    You of all names the sweetest and the best,
    You muses, books, and liberty, and rest;
    You gardens, fields, and woods forsaken be,
    As long as life itself forsakes not me.



There is an oblique way of Reproof, which takes off from the Sharpness
of it; and an Address in Flattery, which makes it agreeable though
never so gross: But of all Flatterers, the most skilful is he who can
do what you like, without saying any thing which argues you do it for
his Sake; the most winning Circumstance in the World being the
Conformity of Manners. I speak of this as a Practice necessary in
gaining People of Sense, who are not yet given up to Self-Conceit;
those who are far gone in admiration of themselves need not be treated
with so much Delicacy. The following Letter puts this Matter in a
pleasant and uncommon Light: The Author of it attacks this Vice with
an Air of Compliance, and alarms us against it by exhorting us to it.

    _To the GUARDIAN._


"As you profess to encourage all those who any way contribute to the
Publick Good, I flatter my self I may claim your Countenance and
Protection. I am by profession a Mad Doctor, but of a peculiar Kind,
not of those whose Aim it is to remove Phrenzies, but one who makes it
my Business to confer an agreeable Madness on my Fellow-Creatures, for
their mutual Delight and Benefit. Since it is agreed by the
Philosophers, that Happiness and Misery consist chiefly in the
Imagination, nothing is more necessary to Mankind in general than this
pleasing Delirium, which renders every one satisfied with himself, and
persuades him that all others are equally so.

"I have for several Years, both at home and abroad, made this Science
my particular Study, which I may venture to say I have improved in
almost all the Courts of _Europe_; and have reduced it into so safe
and easie a Method, as to practise it on both Sexes, of what
Disposition, Age or Quality soever, with Success. What enables me to
perform this great Work, is the Use of my _Obsequium Catholicon_, or
the _Grand Elixir_, to support the Spirits of human Nature. This
Remedy is of the most grateful Flavour in the World, and agrees with
all Tastes whatever. 'Tis delicate to the Senses, delightful in the
Operation, may be taken at all Hours without Confinement, and is as
properly given at a Ball or Play-house as in a private Chamber. It
restores and vivifies the most dejected Minds, corrects and extracts
all that is painful in the Knowledge of a Man's self. One Dose of it
will instantly disperse itself through the whole Animal System,
dissipate the first Motions of Distrust so as never to return, and so
exhilerate the Brain and rarifie the Gloom of Reflection, as to give
the Patients a new flow of Spirits, a Vivacity of Behaviour, and a
pleasing Dependence upon their own Capacities.

"Let a Person be never so far gone, I advise him not to despair; even
though he has been troubled many Years with restless Reflections,
which by long Neglect have hardened into settled Consideration. Those
that have been stung with Satyr may here find a certain Antidote,
which infallibly disperses all the Remains of Poison that has been
left in the Understanding by bad Cures. It fortifies the Heart against
the Rancour of Pamphlets, the Inveteracy of Epigrams, and the
Mortification of Lampoons; as has been often experienced by several
Persons of both Sexes, during the Seasons of _Tunbridge_ and the

"I could, as farther Instances of my Success, produce Certificates and
Testimonials from the Favourites and Ghostly Fathers of the most
eminent Princes of _Europe_; but shall content myself with the Mention
of a few Cures, which I have performed by this my _Grand Universal
Restorative_, during the Practice of one Month only since I came to
this City."

_Cures in the Month of February_, 1713.

"_GEORGE SPONDEE_, Esq; Poet, and Inmate of the Parish of St. _Paul's
Covent-Garden_, fell into violent Fits of the Spleen upon a thin Third
Night. He had been frighted into a Vertigo by the Sound of Cat-calls
on the First Day; and the frequent Hissings on the Second made him
unable to endure the bare Pronunciation of the Letter S. I searched
into the Causes of his Distemper; and by the Prescription of a Dose of
my _Obsequium_, prepared _Secundum Artem_, recovered him to his
Natural State of Madness. I cast in at proper Intervals the Words,
_Ill Taste of the Town_, _Envy of Criticks_, _bad Performance of the
Actors_, and the like. He is so perfectly cured that he has promised
to bring another Play upon the Stage next Winter.

"A Lady of professed Virtue, of the Parish of St. _James's
Westminster_, who hath desired her Name may be concealed, having taken
Offence at a Phrase of double Meaning in Conversation, undiscovered by
any other in the Company, suddenly fell into a cold Fit of Modesty.
Upon a right Application of Praise of her Virtue, I threw the Lady
into an agreeable waking Dream, settled the Fermentation of her Blood
into a warm Charity, so as to make her look with Patience on the very
Gentleman that offended.

"_HILARIA_, of the Parish of St. _Giles's in the Fields_, a Coquet of
long Practice, was by the Reprimand of an old Maiden reduced to look
grave in Company, and deny her self the Play of the Fan. In short, she
was brought to such Melancholy Circumstances, that she would sometimes
unawares fall into Devotion at Church. I advis'd her to take a few
_innocent Freedoms with occasional Kisses_, prescribed her the
_Exercise of the Eyes_, and immediately raised her to her former State
of Life. She on a sudden recovered her Dimples, furled her Fan, threw
round her Glances, and for these two _Sundays_ last past has not once
been seen in an attentive Posture. This the Church-Wardens are ready
to attest upon Oath.

"_ANDREW TERROR_, of the _Middle-Temple, Mohock_, was almost induced
by an aged Bencher of the same House to leave off bright Conversation,
and pore over _Cook upon Littleton_. He was so ill that his Hat began
to flap, and he was seen one Day in the last Term at _Westminster-Hall_.
This Patient had quite lost his Spirit of Contradiction; I, by the
Distillation of a few of my vivifying Drops in his Ear, drew him from
his Lethargy, and restored him to his usual vivacious Misunderstanding.
He is at present very easie in his Condition.

"I will not dwell upon the Recital of the innumerable Cures I have
performed within Twenty Days last past; but rather proceed to exhort
all Persons, of whatever Age, Complexion or Quality, to take as soon
as possible of this my intellectual Oyl; which applied at the Ear
seizes all the Senses with a most agreeable Transport, and discovers
its Effects, not only to the Satisfaction of the Patient, but all who
converse with, attend upon, or any way relate to him or her that
receives the kindly Infection. It is often administered by
Chamber-Maids, Valets, or any the most ignorant Domestick; it being
one peculiar Excellence of this my Oyl, that 'tis most prevalent, the
more unskilful the Person is or appears who applies it. It is
absolutely necessary for Ladies to take a Dose of it just before they
take Coach to go a visiting.

"But I offend the Publick, as _Horace_ said, when I trespass on any of
your Time. Give me leave then, Mr. _Ironside_, to make you a Present
of a Drachm or two of my Oyl; though I have Cause to fear my
Prescriptions will not have the Effect upon you I could wish:
Therefore I do not endeavour to bribe you in my Favour by the Present
of my Oyl, but wholly depend upon your Publick Spirit and Generosity;
which, I hope, will recommend to the World the useful Endeavours of,


    "_Your most Obedient, most Faithful, most Devoted,
    most Humble Servant and Admirer_,


"***Beware of Counterfeits, for such are abroad.

"_N.B._ I teach the _Arcana_ of my Art at reasonable Rates to
Gentlemen of the Universities, who desire to be qualified for writing
Dedications; and to young Lovers and Fortune-hunters, to be paid at
the Day of Marriage. I instruct Persons of bright Capacities to
flatter others, and those of the meanest to flatter themselves.

"I was the first Inventor of Pocket Looking-Glasses."



_Jack Lizard_ was about Fifteen when he was first entered in the
University, and being a Youth of a great deal of Fire, and a more than
ordinary Application to his Studies, it gave his Conversation a very
particular Turn. He had too much Spirit to hold his Tongue in Company;
but at the same time so little Acquaintance with the World, that he
did not know how to talk like other People.

After a Year and half's stay at the University, he came down among us
to pass away a Month or two in the Country. The first Night after his
Arrival, as we were at Supper, we were all of us very much improved by
_Jack's_ Table-Talk. He told us, upon the Appearance of a Dish of
Wild-Fowl, that according to the Opinion of some natural Philosophers
they might be lately come from the Moon. Upon which the _Sparkler_
bursting out into a Laugh, he insulted her with several Questions
relating to the Bigness and Distance of the Moon and Stars; and after
every Interrogatory would be winking upon me, and smiling at his
Sister's Ignorance. _Jack_ gained his Point; for the Mother was
pleased, and all the Servants stared at the Learning of their young
Master. _Jack_ was so encouraged at this Success, that for the first
Week he dealt wholly in Paradoxes. It was a common Jest with him to
pinch one of his Sister's Lap-Dogs, and afterwards prove he could not
feel it. When the Girls were sorting a Set of Knots, he would
demonstrate to them that all the Ribbands were of the same Colour; or
rather, says _Jack_, of no Colour at all. My Lady _Lizard_ her self,
though she was not a little pleas'd with her Son's Improvements, was
one Day almost angry with him; for having accidentally burnt her
Fingers as she was lighting the Lamp for her Tea-pot; in the midst of
her Anguish, _Jack_ laid hold of the Opportunity to instruct her that
there was no such thing as Heat in Fire. In short, no Day pass'd over
our Heads, in which _Jack_ did not imagine he made the whole Family
wiser than they were before.

That part of his Conversation which gave me the most Pain, was what
pass'd among those Country Gentlemen that came to visit us. On such
Occasions _Jack_ usually took upon him to be the Mouth of the Company;
and thinking himself obliged to be very merry, would entertain us with
a great many odd Sayings and Absurdities of their College-Cook. I
found this Fellow had made a very strong Impression upon _Jack's_
Imagination; which he never considered was not the Case of the rest of
the Company, 'till after many repeated Tryals he found that his
Stories seldom made any Body laugh but himself.

I all this while looked upon _Jack_ as a young Tree shooting out into
Blossoms before its Time; the Redundancy of which, though it was a
little unseasonable, seemed to foretel an uncommon Fruitfulness.

In order to wear out the vein of Pedantry which ran through his
Conversation, I took him out with me one Evening, and first of all
insinuated to him this Rule, which I had my self learned from a very
great Author, _To think with the Wise, but talk with the Vulgar_.
_Jack's_ good Sense soon made him reflect that he had often exposed
himself to the Laughter of the Ignorant by a contrary Behaviour; upon
which he told me, that he would take Care for the future to keep his
Notions to himself, and converse in the common received Sentiments of
Mankind. He at the same time desired me to give him any other Rules of
Conversation which I thought might be for his Improvement. I told him
I would think of it; and accordingly, as I have a particular Affection
for the young Man, I gave him next Morning the following Rules in
Writing, which may perhaps have contributed to make him the agreeable
Man he now is.

The Faculty of interchanging our Thoughts with one another, or what we
express by the Word _Conversation_, has always been represented by
Moral Writers as one of the noblest Privileges of Reason, and which
more particularly sets Mankind above the Brute Part of the Creation.

Though nothing so much gains upon the Affections as this _Extempore
Eloquence_, which we have constantly Occasion for, and are obliged to
practice every Day, we very rarely meet with any who excel in it.

The Conversation of most Men is disagreeable, not so much for Want of
Wit and Learning, as of Good-Breeding and Discretion.

If you resolve to please, never speak to gratifie any particular
Vanity or Passion of your own, but always with a Design either to
divert or inform the Company. A Man who only aims at one of these, is
always easie in his Discourse. He is never out of Humour at being
interrupted, because he considers that those who hear him are the best
Judges whether what he was saying could either divert or inform them.

A modest Person seldom fails to gain the Good-Will of those he
converses with, because no body envies a Man, who does not appear to
be pleased with himself.

We should talk extreamly little of our selves. Indeed what can we say?
It would be as imprudent to discover our Faults, as ridiculous to
count over our fancied Virtues. Our private and domestick Affairs are
no less improper to be introduced in Conversation. What does it
concern the Company how many Horses you keep in your Stables? Or
whether your Servant is most Knave, or Fool?

A man may equally affront the Company he is in, by engrossing all the
Talk, or observing a contemptuous Silence.

Before you tell a Story it may be generally not amiss to draw a short
Character, and give the Company a true Idea of the principal Persons
concerned in it. The Beauty of most things consisting not so much in
their being said or done, as in their being said or done by such a
particular Person, or on such a particular Occasion.

Notwithstanding all the Advantages of Youth, few young People please
in Conversation; the Reason is, that want of Experience makes them
positive, and what they say is rather with a Design to please
themselves than any one else.

It is certain that Age it self shall make many things pass well
enough, which would have been laughed at in the Mouth of one much

Nothing, however, is more insupportable to Men of Sense, than an empty
formal Man who speaks in Proverbs, and decides all Controversies with
a short Sentence. This piece of Stupidity is the more insufferable, as
it puts on the Air of Wisdom.

A prudent Man will avoid talking much of any particular Science, for
which he is remarkably famous. There is not methinks an handsomer
thing said of Mr. _Cowley_ in his whole Life, than that none but his
intimate Friends ever discovered he was a great Poet by his Discourse:
Besides the Decency of this Rule, it is certainly founded in good
Policy. A Man who talks of any thing he is already famous for, has
little to get, but a great deal to lose. I might add, that he who is
sometimes silent on a Subject where every one is satisfied he could
speak well, will often be thought no less knowing in other Matters,
where perhaps he is wholly ignorant.

Women are frightened at the Name of Argument, and are sooner convinced
by an happy Turn, or Witty Expression, than by Demonstration.

Whenever you commend, add your Reasons for doing so; it is this which
distinguishes the Approbation of a Man of Sense from the Flattery of
Sycophants, and Admiration of Fools.

Raillery is no longer agreeable than while the whole Company is
pleased with it. I would least of all be understood to except the
Person rallied.

Though Good-humour, Sense and Discretion can seldom fail to make a Man
agreeable, it may be no ill Policy sometimes to prepare your self in a
particular manner for Conversation, by looking a little farther than
your Neighbours into whatever is become a reigning Subject. If our
Armies are besieging a Place of Importance abroad, or our House of
Commons debating a Bill of Consequence at home, you can hardly fail of
being heard with Pleasure, if you have nicely informed your self of
the Strength, Situation, and History of the first, or of the Reasons
for and against the latter. It will have the same Effect if when any
single Person begins to make a Noise in the World, you can learn some
of the smallest Accidents in his Life or Conversation, which though
they are too fine for the Observation of the Vulgar, give more
Satisfaction to Men of Sense, (as they are the best Openings to a real
Character) than the Recital of his most glaring Actions. I know but
one ill Consequence to be feared from this Method, namely, that coming
full charged into Company, you should resolve to unload whether an
handsome Opportunity offers it self or no.

Though the asking of Questions may plead for it self the specious
Names of Modesty, and a Desire of Information, it affords little
Pleasure to the rest of the Company who are not troubled with the same
Doubts; besides which, he who asks a Question would do well to
consider that he lies wholly at the Mercy of another before he
receives an Answer.

Nothing is more silly than the Pleasure some People take in what they
call _speaking their Minds_. A Man of this Make will say a rude thing
for the meer Pleasure of saying it, when an opposite Behaviour, full
as Innocent, might have preserved his Friend, or made his Fortune.

It is not impossible for a Man to form to himself as exquisite a
Pleasure in complying with the Humour and Sentiments of others, as of
bringing others over to his own; since 'tis the certain Sign of a
Superior Genius, that can take and become whatever Dress it pleases.

I shall only add, that besides what I have here said, there is
something which can never be learnt but in the Company of the Polite.
The Virtues of Men are catching as well as their Vices, and your own
Observations added to these, will soon discover what it is that
commands Attention in one Man and makes you tired and displeased with
the Discourse of another.



This single stick, which you now behold ingloriously lying in that
neglected corner, I once knew in a flourishing state in a forest; it
was full of sap, full of leaves, and full of boughs; but now in vain
does the busy art of man pretend to vie with nature, by tying that
withered bundle of twigs to its sapless trunk; it is now at best but
the reverse of what it was, a tree turned upside down, the branches on
the earth, and the root in the air; it is now handled by every dirty
wench, condemned to do her drudgery, and, by a capricious kind of
fate, destined to make her things clean, and be nasty itself; at
length, worn out to the stumps in the service of the maids, it is
either thrown out of doors, or condemned to the last use of kindling a
fire. When I beheld this, I sighed, and said within myself: Surely
mortal man is a broomstick! nature sent him into the world strong and
lusty, in a thriving condition, wearing his own hair on his head, the
proper branches of this reasoning vegetable, until the axe of
intemperance has lopped off his green boughs, and left him a withered
trunk; he then flies to art, and puts on a periwig, valuing himself
upon an unnatural bundle of hairs, all covered with powder, that never
grew on his head; but now should this our broomstick pretend to enter
the scene, proud of those birchen spoils it never bore, and all
covered with dust, though the sweepings of the finest lady's chamber,
we should be apt to ridicule and despise its vanity. Partial judges
that we are of our own excellences, and other men's defaults!

But a broomstick, perhaps you will say, is an emblem of a tree
standing on its head: and pray, what is man but a topsy-turvy
creature, his animal faculties perpetually mounted on his rational,
his head where his heels should be--grovelling on the earth! and yet,
with all his faults, he sets up to be a universal reformer and
corrector of abuses, a remover of grievances; rakes into every slut's
corner of nature, bringing hidden corruptions to the light, and raises
a mighty dust where there was none before, sharing deeply all the
while in the very same pollutions he pretends to sweep away. His last
days are spent in slavery to women, and generally the least deserving;
till, worn to the stumps, like his brother-besom, he is either kicked
out of doors, or made use of to kindle flames for others to warm
themselves by.



The subject of the discourse this evening was eloquence and graceful
action. Lysander, who is something particular in his way of thinking
and speaking, told us, "a man could not be eloquent without action;
for the deportment of the body, the turn of the eye, and an apt sound
to every word that is uttered, must all conspire to make an
accomplished speaker. Action in one that speaks in public is the same
thing as a good mien in ordinary life. Thus, as a certain
insensibility in the countenance recommends a sentence of humour and
jest, so it must be a very lively consciousness that gives grace to
great sentiments. The jest is to be a thing unexpected; therefore your
undesigning manner is a beauty in expressions of mirth; but when you
are to talk on a set subject, the more you are moved yourself, the
more you will move others.

"There is," said he, "a remarkable example of that kind. Æschines, a
famous orator of antiquity, had pleaded at Athens in a great cause
against Demosthenes; but having lost it, retired to Rhodes. Eloquence
was then the quality most admired among men, and the magistrates of
that place, having heard he had a copy of the speech of Demosthenes,
desired him to repeat both their pleadings. After his own he recited
also the oration of his antagonist. The people expressed their
admiration of both, but more of that of Demosthenes. 'If you are,'
said he, 'thus touched with hearing only what that great orator said,
how much would you have been affected had you seen him speak? for he
who hears Demosthenes only, loses much the better part of the
oration.' Certain it is that they who speak gracefully are very lamely
represented in having their speeches read or repeated by unskilful
people; for there is something native to each man, so inherent to his
thoughts and sentiments, which it is hardly possible for another to
give a true idea of. You may observe in common talk, when a sentence
of any man's is repeated, an acquaintance of his shall immediately
observe, 'That is so like him, methinks I see how he looked when he
said it.'

"But of all the people on the earth, there are none who puzzle me so
much as the clergy of Great Britain, who are, I believe, the most
learned body of men now in the world: and yet this art of speaking,
with the proper ornaments of voice and gesture, is wholly neglected
among them; and I will engage, were a deaf man to behold the greater
part of them preach, he would rather think they were reading the
contents only of some discourse they intended to make, than actually
in the body of an oration, even when they were upon matters of such a
nature as one would believe it were impossible to think of without

"I own there are exceptions to this general observation, and that the
dean we heard the other day together is an orator[4]. He has so much
regard to his congregation, that he commits to his memory what he is
to say to them; and has so soft and graceful a behaviour, that it must
attract your attention. His person, it is to be confessed, is no small
recommendation; but he is to be highly commended for not losing that
advantage; and adding to the propriety of speech, which might pass the
criticism of Longinus, an action which would have been approved by
Demosthenes. He has a peculiar force in his way, and has charmed many
of his audience, who could not be intelligent hearers of his discourse
were there not explanation as well as grace in his action. This art of
his is useful with the most exact and honest skill: he never attempts
your passions until he has convinced your reason. All the objections
which he can form are laid open and dispersed before he uses the least
vehemence in his sermon; but when he thinks he has your head, he very
soon wins your heart; and never pretends to show the beauty of
holiness until he has convinced you of the truth of it.

[Footnote 4: Steele says that this amiable character of the dean was
drawn for Dr. Atterbury, and mentions it as an argument of his
impartiality in his Preface to the "Tatler," vol. iv.]

"Would every one of our clergymen be thus careful to recommend truth
and virtue in their proper figures, and show so much concern for them
as to give them all the additional force they were able, it is not
possible that nonsense should have so many hearers as you find it has
in dissenting congregations, for no reason in the world but because it
is spoken extempore; for ordinary minds are wholly governed by their
eyes and ears; and there is no way to come at their hearts but by
power over their imaginations.

"There is my friend and merry companion Daniel;[5] he knows a great
deal better than he speaks, and can form a proper discourse as well as
any orthodox neighbour. But he knows very well that to bawl out, 'My
beloved!' and the words 'grace! regeneration! sanctification! a new
light! the day! the day! ay, my beloved, the day! or rather the night!
the night is coming!' and 'judgment will come when we least think of
it!' and so forth. He knows, to be vehement is the only way to come at
his audience. Daniel, when he sees my friend Greenhat come in, can
give a good hint, and cry out, 'This is only for the saints! the
regenerated!' By this force of action, though mixed with all the
incoherence and ribaldry imaginable, Daniel can laugh at his diocesan,
and grow fat by voluntary subscription, while the parson of the parish
goes to law for half his dues. Daniel will tell you, it is not the
shepherd, but the sheep with the bell, which the flock follows.

[Footnote 5: The celebrated Daniel Burgess, whose meeting-house near
Lincoln's Inn was destroyed by the high-church mob upon occasion of
Sacheverell's trial.]

"Another thing, very wonderful this learned body should omit, is
learning to read; which is a most necessary part of eloquence in one
who is to serve at the altar; for there is no man but must be sensible
that the lazy tone and inarticulate sound of our common readers
depreciates the most proper form of words that were ever extant in any
nation or language, to speak their own wants, or his power from whom
we ask relief.

"There cannot be a greater instance of the power of action than in
little parson Dapper, who is the common relief to all the lazy pulpits
in town. This smart youth has a very good memory, a quick eye, and a
clean handkerchief. Thus equipped, he opens his text, shuts his book
fairly, shows he has no notes in his Bible, opens both palms, and
shows all is fair there too. Thus, with a decisive air, my young man
goes on without hesitation; and though from the beginning to the end
of his pretty discourse, he has not used one proper gesture, yet, at
the conclusion, the churchwarden pulls his gloves from off his hands;
'Pray, who is this extraordinary young man?' Thus the force of action
is such, that it is more prevalent, even when improper, than all the
reason and argument in the world without it." This gentleman concluded
his discourse by saying, "I do not doubt but if our preachers would
learn to speak, and our readers to read, within six months' time we
should not have a dissenter within a mile of a church in Great

    "The Tatler," No. 66.


We are told the devil is the father of lies, and was a liar from the
beginning; so that, beyond contradiction, the invention is old: and,
which is more, his first Essay of it was purely political, employed in
undermining the authority of his prince, and seducing a third part of
the subjects from their obedience: for which he was driven down from
heaven, where (as Milton expresses it) he had been viceroy of a great
western province; and forced to exercise his talent in inferior
regions among other fallen spirits, poor or deluded men, whom he still
daily tempts to his own sin, and will ever do so, till he be chained
in the bottomless pit.

But although the devil be the father of lies, he seems, like other
great inventors, to have lost much of his reputation by the continual
improvements that have been made upon him.

Who first reduced lying into an art, and adapted it to politics, is
not so clear from history, although I have made some diligent
inquiries. I shall therefore consider it only according to the modern
system, as it has been cultivated these twenty years past in the
southern part of our own island.

The poets tell us that, after the giants were overthrown by the gods,
the earth in revenge produced her last offspring, which was Fame. And
the fable is thus interpreted: that when tumults and seditions are
quieted, rumours and false reports are plentifully spread through a
nation. So that, by this account, lying is the last relief of a
routed, earth-born, rebellious party in a state. But here the moderns
have made great additions, applying this art to the gaining of power
and preserving it, as well as revenging themselves after they have
lost it; as the same instruments are made use of by animals to feed
themselves when they are hungry, and to bite those that tread upon

But the same genealogy cannot always be admitted for political lying;
I shall therefore desire to refine upon it, by adding some
circumstances of its birth and parents. A political lie is sometimes
born out of a discarded statesman's head, and thence delivered to be
nursed and dandled by the rabble. Sometimes it is produced a monster,
and licked into shape: at other times it comes into the world
completely formed, and is spoiled in the licking. It is often born an
infant in the regular way, and requires time to mature it; and often
it sees the light in its full growth, but dwindles away by degrees.
Sometimes it is of noble birth, and sometimes the spawn of a
stock-jobber. Here it screams aloud at the opening of the womb, and
there it is delivered with a whisper. I know a lie that now disturbs
half the kingdom with its noise, [of] which, although too proud and
great at present to own its parents, I can remember its whisperhood.
To conclude the nativity of this monster; when it comes into the world
without a sting it is still-born; and whenever it loses its sting it

No wonder if an infant so miraculous in its birth should be destined
for great adventures; and accordingly we see it has been the guardian
spirit of a prevailing party for almost twenty years. It can conquer
kingdoms without fighting, and sometimes with the loss of a battle. It
gives and resumes employments; can sink a mountain to a mole-hill, and
raise a mole-hill to a mountain; has presided for many years at
committees of elections; can wash a blackmoor white; make a saint of
an atheist, and a patriot of a profligate; can furnish foreign
ministers with intelligence, and raise or let fall the credit of the
nation. This goddess flies with a huge looking-glass in her hands, to
dazzle the crowd, and make them see, according as she turns it, their
ruin in their interest, and their interest in their ruin. In this
glass you will behold your best friends, clad in coats powdered with
_fleurs de lis_ and triple crowns; their girdles hung round with
chains, and beads, and wooden shoes; and your worst enemies adorned
with the ensigns of liberty, property, indulgence, moderation, and a
cornucopia in their hands. Her large wings, like those of a
flying-fish, are of no use but while they are moist; she therefore
dips them in mud, and, soaring aloft, scatters it in the eyes of the
multitude, flying with great swiftness; but at every turn is forced to
stoop in dirty ways for new supplies.

I have been sometimes thinking, if a man had the art of the second
sight for seeing lies, as they have in Scotland for seeing spirits,
how admirably he might entertain himself in this town, by observing
the different shapes, sizes, and colours of those swarms of lies which
buzz about the heads of some people, like flies about a horse's ears
in summer; or those legions hovering every afternoon in
Exchange-alley, enough to darken the air; or over a club of
discontented grandees, and thence sent down in cargoes to be scattered
at elections.

There is one essential point wherein a political liar differs from
others of the faculty, that he ought to have but a short memory, which
is necessary according to the various occasions he meets with every
hour of differing from himself and swearing to both sides of a
contradiction, as he finds the persons disposed with whom he has to
deal. In describing the virtues and vices of mankind, it is
convenient, upon every article, to have some eminent person in our
eye, from whom we copy our description. I have strictly observed this
rule, and my imagination this minute represents before me a certain
great man famous for this talent, to the constant practice of which he
owes his twenty years' reputation of the most skilful head in England
for the management of nice affairs. The superiority of his genius
consists in nothing else but an inexhaustible fund of political lies,
which he plentifully distributes every minute he speaks, and by an
unparalleled generosity forgets, and consequently contradicts, the
next half-hour. He never yet considered whether any proposition were
true or false, but whether it were convenient for the present minute
or company to affirm or deny it; so that, if you think fit to refine
upon him by interpreting everything he says, as we do dreams, by the
contrary, you are still to seek, and will find yourself equally
deceived whether you believe or not: the only remedy is to suppose
that you have heard some inarticulate sounds, without any meaning at
all; and besides, that will take off the horror you might be apt to
conceive at the oaths wherewith he perpetually tags both ends of every
proposition; although, at the same time, I think he cannot with any
justice be taxed with perjury when he invokes God and Christ, because
he has often fairly given public notice to the world that he believes
in neither.

Some people may think that such an accomplishment as this can be of no
great use to the owner, or his party, after it has been often
practised and is become notorious; but they are widely mistaken. Few
lies carry the inventor's mark, and the most prostitute enemy to truth
may spread a thousand without being known for the author: besides, as
the vilest writer has his readers, so the greatest liar has his
believers; and it often happens that, if a lie be believed only for an
hour, it has done its work, and there is no farther occasion for it.
Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men
come to be undeceived it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale
has had its effect: like a man who has thought of a good repartee when
the discourse is changed or the company parted; or like a physician
who has found out an infallible medicine after the patient is dead.

Considering that natural disposition in many men to lie, and in
multitudes to believe, I have been perplexed what to do with that
maxim so frequent in everybody's mouth, that truth will at last
prevail. Here has this island of ours, for the greatest part of twenty
years, lain under the influence of such counsels and persons, whose
principle and interest it was to corrupt our manners, blind our
understanding, drain our wealth, and in time destroy our constitution
both in church and state, and we at last were brought to the very
brink of ruin; yet, by the means of perpetual misrepresentations, have
never been able to distinguish between our enemies and friends. We
have seen a great part of the nation's money got into the hands of
those who, by their birth, education, and merit, could pretend no
higher than to wear our liveries; while others, who, by their credit,
quality, and fortune, were only able to give reputation and success to
the Revolution, were not only laid aside as dangerous and useless, but
loaded with the scandal of Jacobites, men of arbitrary principles, and
pensioners to France; while truth, who is said to lie in a well,
seemed now to be buried there under a heap of stones. But I remember
it was a usual complaint among the Whigs, that the bulk of the landed
men was not in their interests, which some of the wisest looked on as
an ill omen; and we saw it was with the utmost difficulty that they
could preserve a majority, while the court and ministry were on their
side, till they had learned those admirable expedients for deciding
elections and influencing distant boroughs by powerful motives from
the city. But all this was mere force and constraint, however upheld
by most dexterous artifice and management, until the people began to
apprehend their properties, their religion, and the monarchy itself in
danger; when we saw them greedily laying hold on the first occasion to
interpose. But of this mighty change in the dispositions of the people
I shall discourse more at large in some following paper: wherein I
shall endeavour to undeceive or discover those deluded or deluding
persons who hope or pretend it is only a short madness in the vulgar,
from which they may soon recover; whereas, I believe it will appear to
be very different in its causes, its symptoms, and its consequences;
and prove a great example to illustrate the maxim I lately mentioned,
that truth (however sometimes late) will at last prevail.



                    _Thursday, 10 Jan. 1822._

Lewes is in a valley of the _South Downs_, this town is at eight miles
distance, to the south-south-west or thereabouts. There is a great
extent of rich meadows above and below Lewes. The town itself is a
model of solidity and neatness. The buildings all substantial to the
very outskirts; the pavements good and complete; the shops nice and
clean; the people well-dressed; and, though last not least, the girls
remarkably pretty, as, indeed, they are in most parts of Sussex; round
faces, features small, little hands and wrists, plump arms, and bright
eyes. The Sussex men, too, are remarkable for their good looks. A Mr.
Baxter, a stationer at Lewes, showed me a _farmer's account book_,
which is a very complete thing of the kind. The inns are good at
Lewes, the people civil and not servile, and the charges really
(considering the taxes) far below what one could reasonably
expect.--From Lewes to Brighton the road winds along between the hills
of the South Downs, which, in this mild weather, are mostly
beautifully green even at this season, with flocks of sheep feeding on
them.--Brighton itself lies in a valley cut across at one end by the
sea, and its extension, or _Wen_, has swelled up the sides of the
hills and has run some distance up the valley.--The first thing you
see in approaching Brighton from Lewes, is a splendid _horse-barrack_
on one side of the road, and a heap of low, shabby, nasty houses,
irregularly built, on the other side. This is always the case where
there is a barrack. How soon a reformed parliament would make both
disappear! Brighton is a very pleasant place. For a _wen_ remarkably
so. The _Kremlin_, the very name of which has so long been a subject
of laughter all over the country, lies in the gorge of the valley, and
amongst the old houses of the town. The grounds, which cannot, I
think, exceed a couple or three acres, are surrounded by a wall
neither lofty nor good-looking. Above this rise some trees, bad in
sorts, stunted in growth, and dirty with smoke. As to the "palace" as
the Brighton newspapers call it, the apartments appear to be all upon
the ground floor; and, when you see the thing from a distance, you
think you see a parcel of _cradle-spits_, of various dimensions,
sticking up out of the mouths of so many enormous squat decanters.
Take a square box, the sides of which are three feet and a half, and
the height a foot and a half. Take a large Norfolk-turnip, cut off the
green of the leaves, leave the stalks 9 inches long, tie these round
with a string three inches from the top, and put the turnip on the
middle of the top of the box. Then take four turnips of half the size,
treat them in the same way, and put them on the corners of the box.
Then take a considerable number of bulbs of the crown-imperial, the
narcissus, the hyacinth, the tulip, the crocus, and others; let the
leaves of each have sprouted to about an inch, more or less according
to the size of the bulb; put all these, pretty promiscuously, but
pretty thickly, on the top of the box. Then stand off and look at your
architecture. There! That's "_a Kremlin_!" Only you must cut some
church-looking windows in the sides of the box. As to what you ought
to put _into_ the box, that is a subject far above my cut.--Brighton
is naturally a place of resort for _expectants_, and a shifty,
ugly-looking swarm is, of course, assembled here. Some of the fellows,
who had endeavoured to disturb our harmony at the dinner at Lewes,
were parading, amongst this swarm, on the cliff. You may always know
them by their lank jaws, the stiffeners round their necks, their
hidden or _no_ shirts, their stays, their false shoulders, hips and
haunches, their half-whiskers, and by their skins, colour of veal
kidney-suet, warmed a little, and then powdered with dirty
dust.--These vermin excepted, the people at Brighton make a very fine
figure. The trades-people are very nice in all their concerns. The
houses are excellent, built chiefly with a blue or purple brick; and
bow-windows appear to be the general taste. I can easily believe this
to be a very healthy place: the open downs on the one side and the
open sea on the other. No inlet, cove, or river; and, of course, no
swamps.--I have spent this evening very pleasantly in a company of
reformers, who, though plain tradesmen and mechanics, know I am quite
satisfied more about the questions that agitate the country than any
equal number of lords.

    _William Cobbett._



Though fond of many acquaintances, I desire an intimacy only with a
few. The man in black whom I have often mentioned is one whose
friendship I could wish to acquire, because he possesses my esteem.
His manners, it is true, are tinctured with some strange
inconsistencies; and he may be justly termed an humourist in a nation
of humourists. Though he is generous even to profusion, he affects to
be thought a prodigy of parsimony and prudence; though his
conversation be replete with the most sordid and selfish maxims, his
heart is dilated with the most unbounded love. I have known him
profess himself a man-hater, while his cheek was glowing with
compassion; and while his looks were softened into pity, I have heard
him use the language of the most unbounded ill-nature. Some affect
humanity and tenderness, others boast of having such dispositions from
nature; but he is the only man I ever knew who seemed ashamed of his
natural benevolence. He takes as much pains to hide his feelings, as
any hypocrite would to conceal his indifference; but on every
unguarded moment the mask drops off, and reveals him to the most
superficial observer.

In one of our late excursions into the country, happening to discourse
upon the provision that was made for the poor in England, he seemed
amazed how any of his countrymen could be so foolishly weak as to
relieve occasional objects of charity, when the laws had made such
ample provision for their support. "In every parish house," says he,
"the poor are supplied with food, clothes, fire, and a bed to lie on;
they want no more, I desire no more myself; yet still they seem
discontented. I am surprised at the inactivity of our magistrates, in
not taking up such vagrants, who are only a weight upon the
industrious; I am surprised that the people are found to relieve them,
when they must be at the same time sensible that it, in some measure,
encourages idleness, extravagance, and imposture. Were I to advise any
man for whom I had the least regard, I would caution him by all means
not to be imposed upon by their false pretences: let me assure you,
sir, they are impostors, every one of them, and rather merit a prison
than relief."

He was proceeding in this strain earnestly, to dissuade me from an
imprudence of which I am seldom guilty, when an old man, who still had
about him the remnants of tattered finery, implored our compassion. He
assured us, that he was no common beggar, but forced into the shameful
profession, to support a dying wife and five hungry children. Being
prepossessed against such falsehoods, his story had not the least
influence upon me; but it was quite otherwise with the man in black; I
could see it visibly operate upon his countenance, and effectually
interrupt his harangue. I could easily perceive, that his heart burned
to relieve the five starving children, but he seemed ashamed to
discover his weakness to me. While he thus hesitated between
compassion and pride, I pretended to look another way, and he seized
this opportunity of giving the poor petitioner a piece of silver,
bidding him at the same time, in order that I should not hear, go work
for his bread, and not tease passengers with such impertinent
falsehoods for the future.

As he had fancied himself quite unperceived, he continued, as we
proceeded, to rail against beggars with as much animosity as before;
he threw in some episodes on his own amazing prudence and economy,
with his profound skill in discovering impostors; he explained the
manner in which he would deal with beggars were he a magistrate,
hinted at enlarging some of the prisons for their reception, and told
two stories of ladies that were robbed by beggarmen. He was beginning
a third to the same purpose, when a sailor with a wooden leg once more
crossed our walks, desiring our pity, and blessing our limbs. I was
for going on without taking any notice, but my friend looking
wistfully upon the poor petitioner, bid me stop, and he would show me
with how much ease he could at any time detect an impostor.

He now, therefore, assumed a look of importance, and in an angry tone
began to examine the sailor, demanding in what engagement he was thus
disabled and rendered unfit for service. The sailor replied, in a tone
as angrily as he, that he had been an officer on board a private ship
of war, and that he had lost his leg abroad in defence of those who
did nothing at home. At this reply, all my friend's importance
vanished in a moment; he had not a single question more to ask; he now
only studied what method he should take to relieve him unobserved. He
had, however, no easy part to act, as he was obliged to preserve the
appearance of ill-nature before me, and yet relieve himself by
relieving the sailor. Casting, therefore, a furious look upon some
bundles of chips which the fellow carried in a string at his back, my
friend demanded how he sold his matches; but not waiting for a reply,
desired, in a surly tone, to have a shilling's worth. The sailor
seemed at first surprised at his demand, but soon recollected himself,
and presenting his whole bundle, "Here, master," says he, "take all my
cargo, and a blessing into the bargain."

It is impossible to describe, with what an air of triumph my friend
marched off with his new purchase; he assured me, that he was firmly
of opinion that those fellows must have stolen their goods, who could
thus afford to sell them for half value. He informed me of several
different uses to which those chips might be applied; he expatiated
largely upon the savings that would result from lighting candles with
a match instead of thrusting them into the fire. He averred, that he
would as soon have parted with a tooth as his money to those
vagabonds, unless for some valuable consideration. I cannot tell how
long this panegyric upon frugality and matches might have continued,
had not his attention been called off by another object more
distressful than either of the former. A woman in rags, with one child
in her arms and another on her back, was attempting to sing ballads,
but with such a mournful voice, that it was difficult to determine
whether she was singing or crying. A wretch who, in the deepest
distress, still aimed at good humour, was an object my friend was by
no means capable of withstanding; his vivacity and his discourse were
instantly interrupted; upon this occasion his very dissimulation had
forsaken him. Even in my presence he immediately applied his hands to
his pockets, in order to relieve her; but guess his confusion when he
found he had already given away all the money he carried about him to
former objects. The misery painted in the woman's visage was not half
so strongly expressed as the agony in his. He continued to search for
some time, but to no purpose, till, at length recollecting himself,
with a face of ineffable good-nature, as he had no money, he put into
her hands his shilling's worth of matches.


As there appeared something reluctantly good in the character of my
companion, I must own it surprised me what could be his motives for
thus concealing virtues which others take such pains to display. I was
unable to repress my desire of knowing the history of a man who thus
seemed to act under continual restraint, and whose benevolence was
rather the effect of appetite than reason.

It was not, however, till after repeated solicitations he thought
proper to gratify my curiosity. "If you are fond," says he, "of
hearing _hair-breadth escapes_, my history must certainly please; for
I have been for twenty years upon the very verge of starving, without
ever being starved.

"My father, the younger son of a good family, was possessed of a small
living in the church. His education was above his fortune, and his
generosity greater than his education. Poor as he was, he had his
flatterers still poorer than himself; for every dinner he gave them,
they returned an equivalent in praise; and this was all he wanted. The
same ambition that actuates a monarch at the head of an army,
influenced my father at the head of his table; he told the story of
the ivy-tree, and that was laughed at; he repeated the jest of the two
scholars and one pair of breeches, and the company laughed at that;
but the story of Taffy in the sedan chair was sure to set the table in
a roar. Thus his pleasure increased in proportion to the pleasure he
gave; he loved all the world, and he fancied all the world loved him.

"As his fortune was but small, he lived up to the very extent of it;
he had no intentions of leaving his children money, for that was
dross; he was resolved they should have learning; for learning, he
used to observe, was better than silver or gold. For this purpose he
undertook to instruct us himself; and took as much pains to form our
morals, as to improve our understanding. We were told that universal
benevolence was what first cemented society; we were taught to
consider all the wants of mankind as our own; to regard the _human
face divine_ with affection and esteem; he wound us up to be mere
machines of pity, and rendered us incapable of withstanding the
slightest impulse made either by real or fictitious distress: in a
word, we were perfectly instructed in the art of giving away thousands
before we were taught the more necessary qualifications of getting a

"I cannot avoid imagining, that thus refined by his lessons out of all
my suspicion, and divested of even all the little cunning which nature
had given me, I resembled, upon my first entrance into the busy and
insidious world, one of those gladiators who were exposed with armour
in the amphitheatre at Rome. My father, however, who had only seen the
world on one side, seemed to triumph in my superior discernment;
though my whole stock of wisdom consisted in being able to talk like
himself upon subjects that once were useful, because they were then
topics of the busy world; but that now were utterly useless, because
connected with the busy world no longer.

"The first opportunity he had of finding his expectations
disappointed, was at the very middling figure I made in the
university: he had flattered himself that he should soon see me rising
into the foremost rank in literary reputation, but was mortified to
find me utterly unnoticed and unknown. His disappointment might have
been partly ascribed to his having over-rated my talents, and partly
to my dislike of mathematical reasonings, at a time when my
imagination and memory, yet unsatisfied, were more eager after new
objects, than desirous of reasoning upon those I knew. This did not,
however, please my tutors, who observed, indeed, that I was a little
dull, but at the same time allowed, that I seemed to be very
good-natured, and had no harm in me.

"After I had resided at college seven years, my father died, and left
me--his blessing. Thus shoved from shore without ill-nature to
protect, or cunning to guide, or proper stores to subsist me in so
dangerous a voyage, I was obliged to embark in the wide world at
twenty-two. But, in order to settle in life, my friends, advised (for
they always advise when they begin to despise us) they advised me, I
say, to go into orders.

"To be obliged to wear a long wig, when I liked a short one, or a
black coat, when I generally dressed in brown, I thought was such a
restraint upon my liberty, that I absolutely rejected the proposal. A
priest in England is not the same mortified creature with a bonze in
China; with us, not he that fasts best, but eats best, is reckoned the
best liver; yet I rejected a life of luxury, indolence, and ease, from
no other consideration but that boyish one of dress. So that my
friends were now perfectly satisfied I was undone; and yet they
thought it a pity for one who had not the least harm in him, and was
so very good-natured.

"Poverty naturally begets dependance, and I was admitted as flatterer
to a great man. At first I was surprised, that the situation of a
flatterer at a great man's table could be thought disagreeable; there
was no great trouble in listening attentively when his lordship spoke,
and laughing when he looked round for applause. This even good manners
might have obliged me to perform. I found, however, too soon, that his
lordship was a greater dunce than myself; and from that very moment
flattery was at an end. I now rather aimed at setting him right, than
at receiving his absurdities with submission: to flatter those we do
not know is an easy task; but to flatter our intimate acquaintances,
all whose foibles are strongly in our eye, is drudgery insupportable.
Every time I now opened my lips in praise, my falsehood went to my
conscience; his lordship soon perceived me to be very unfit for
service: I was, therefore, discharged: my patron at the same time
being graciously pleased to observe, that he believed I was tolerably
good-natured, and had not the least harm in me.

"Disappointed in ambition, I had recourse to love. A young lady, who
lived with her aunt, and was possessed of a pretty fortune in her own
disposal, had given me, as I fancied, some reason to expect success.
The symptoms by which I was guided were striking. She had always
laughed with me at her awkward acquaintance, and at her aunt among the
number; she always observed, that a man of sense would make a better
husband than a fool; and I as constantly applied the observation in my
own favour, she continually talked, in my company, of friendship and
the beauties of the mind, and spoke of Mr. Shrimp, my rival's
high-heeled shoes, with detestation. These were circumstances which I
thought strongly in my favour; so, after resolving and re-resolving, I
had courage enough to tell her my mind. Miss heard my proposal with
serenity, seeming at the same time to study the figures of her fan.
Out at last it came. There was but one small objection to complete our
happiness: which was no more, than----that she was married three
months before to Mr. Shrimp, with high-heeled shoes! By way of
consolation, however, she observed, that, though I was disappointed in
her, my addresses to her aunt would probably kindle her into
sensibility; as the old lady always allowed me to be very
good-natured, and not to have the least share of harm in me.

"Yet still I had friends, numerous friends, and to them I was resolved
to apply. O friendship! thou fond soother of the human breast, to thee
we fly in every calamity; to thee the wretched seek for succour; on
thee the care-tired son of misery fondly relies; from thy kind
assistance the unfortunate always hopes relief, and may be ever sure
of--disappointment! My first application was to a city-scrivener, who
had frequently offered to lend me money when he knew I did not want
it. I informed him, that now was the time to put his friendship to the
test; that I wanted to borrow a couple of hundreds for a certain
occasion, and was resolved to take it up from him. 'And pray, sir,'
cried my friend, 'do you want all this money?'--'Indeed, I never
wanted it more,' returned I. 'I am sorry for that,' cries the
scrivener, 'with all my heart; for they who want money, when they come
to borrow, will always want money when they should come to pay.'

"From him I flew with indignation to one of the best friends I had in
the world, and made the same request. 'Indeed, Mr. Dry-bone,' cries my
friend, 'I always thought it would come to this. You know, sir, I
would not advise you but for your own good; but your conduct has
hitherto been ridiculous in the highest degree, and some of your
acquaintance always thought you a very silly fellow. Let me see, you
want two hundred pounds. Do you only want two hundred, sir, exactly?'
'To confess a truth,' returned I, 'I shall want three hundred; but
then I have another friend, from whom I can borrow the rest.'--'Why
then,' replied my friend, 'if you would take my advice, (and you know
I should not presume to advise you but for your own good) I would
recommend it to you to borrow the whole sum from that other friend,
and then one note will serve for all, you know.'

"Poverty now began to come fast upon me; yet instead of growing more
provident or cautious as I grew poor, I became every day more indolent
and simple. A friend was arrested for fifty pounds; I was unable to
extricate him except by becoming his bail. When at liberty he fled
from his creditors, and left me to take his place: in prison I
expected greater satisfactions than I had enjoyed at large. I hoped to
converse with men in this new world simple and believing like myself;
but I found them as cunning and as cautious as those in the world I
had left behind. They spunged up my money while it lasted, borrowed my
coals and never paid for them, and cheated me when I played at
cribbage. All this was done because they believed me to be very
good-natured, and knew that I had no harm in me.

"Upon my first entrance into this mansion, which is to some the abode
of despair, I felt no sensations different from those I experienced
abroad. I was now on one side of the door, and those who were
unconfined were on the other; this was all the difference between us.
At first, indeed, I felt some uneasiness, in considering how I should
be able to provide this week for the wants of the week ensuing; but
after some time, if I found myself sure of eating one day, I never
troubled my head how I was to be supplied another. I seized every
precarious meal with the utmost good-humour; indulged no rants of
spleen at my situation; never called down Heaven and all the stars to
behold my dining upon an halfpenny-worth of radishes; my very
companions were taught to believe that I liked salad better than
mutton. I contented myself with thinking, that all my life I should
either eat white bread or brown; considered that all that happened was
best; laughed when I was not in pain, took the world as it went, and
read Tacitus often, for want of more books and company.

"How long I might have continued in this torpid state of simplicity I
cannot tell, had I not been roused by seeing an old acquaintance, whom
I knew to be a prudent blockhead, preferred to a place in the
government. I now found that I had pursued a wrong track, and that the
true way of being able to relieve others, was first to aim at
independence myself; my immediate care, therefore, was to leave my
present habitation, and make an entire reformation in my conduct and
behaviour. For a free, open, undesigning deportment, I put on that of
closeness, prudence, and economy. One of the most heroic actions I
ever performed, and for which I shall praise myself as long as I live,
was the refusing half a crown to an old acquaintance, at the time when
he wanted it, and I had it to spare; for this alone I deserve to be
decreed an ovation.

"I now, therefore, pursued a course of uninterrupted frugality, seldom
wanted a dinner, and was, consequently, invited to twenty. I soon
began to get the character of a saving hunks that had money, and
insensibly grew into esteem. Neighbours have asked my advice in the
disposal of their daughters; and I have always taken care not to give
any. I have contracted a friendship with an alderman, only by
observing, that if we take a farthing from a thousand pounds, it will
be a thousand pounds no longer. I have been invited to a pawnbroker's
table, by pretending to hate gravy; and am now actually upon treaty of
marriage with a rich widow, for only having observed that the bread
was rising. If ever I am asked a question, whether I know it or not,
instead of answering, I only smile and look wise. If a charity is
proposed, I go about with the hat, but put nothing in myself. If a
wretch solicits my pity, I observe that the world is filled with
impostors, and take a certain method of not being deceived, by never
relieving. In short, I now find the truest way of finding esteem even
from the indigent, is _to give away nothing, and thus have much in our
power to give_."



Lately in company with my friend in black, whose conversation is now
both my amusement and instruction, I could not avoid observing the
great numbers of old bachelors and maiden ladies with which this city
seems to be over-run. "Sure marriage," said I, "is not sufficiently
encouraged, or we should never behold such crowds of battered beaux
and decayed coquettes still attempting to drive a trade they have been
so long unfit for, and swarming upon the gaiety of the age. I behold
an old bachelor in the most contemptible light, as an animal that
lives upon the common stock, without contributing his share: he is a
beast of prey, and the laws should make use of as many stratagems, and
as much force to drive the reluctant savage into the toils, as the
Indians when they hunt the rhinoceros. The mob should be permitted to
halloo after him, boys might play tricks on him with impunity, every
well-bred company should laugh at him, and if, when turned of sixty,
he offered to make love, his mistress might spit in his face, or, what
would be perhaps a greater punishment, should fairly grant the favour.

"As for old maids," continued I, "they should not be treated with so
much severity, because I suppose none would be so if they could. No
lady in her senses would choose to make a subordinate figure at
christenings and lyings-in, when she might be the principal herself;
nor curry favour with a sister-in-law, when she might command an
husband; nor toil in preparing custards, when she might lie a-bed and
give directions how they ought to be made; nor stifle all her
sensations in demure formality, when she might with matrimonial
freedom shake her acquaintance by the hand, and wink at a double
entendre. No lady could be so very silly as to live single, if she
could help it. I consider an unmarried lady declining into the vale of
years, as one of those charming countries bordering on China that lies
waste for want of proper inhabitants. We are not to accuse the
country, but the ignorance of its neighbours, who are insensible of
its beauties, though at liberty to enter and cultivate the soil."

"Indeed, sir," replied my companion, "you are very little acquainted
with the English ladies, to think they are old maids against their
will. I dare venture to affirm, that you can hardly select one of them
all but has had frequent offers of marriage, which either pride or
avarice has not made her reject. Instead of thinking it a disgrace,
they take every occasion to boast of their former cruelty; a soldier
does not exult more when he counts over the wounds he has received,
than a female veteran when she relates the wounds she has formerly
given: exhaustless when she begins a narrative of the former
death-dealing power of her eyes. She tells of the knight in gold lace,
who died with a single frown, and never rose again till--he was
married to his maid; of the squire, who being cruelly denied, in a
rage flew to the window, and lifting up the sash, threw himself in an
agony--into his arm chair; of the parson who, crossed in love,
resolutely swallowed opium, which banished the stings of despised love
by--making him sleep. In short, she talks over her former losses with
pleasure, and, like some tradesmen, finds some consolation in the many
bankruptcies she has suffered.

"For this reason, whenever I see a superannuated beauty still
unmarried, I tacitly accuse her either of pride, avarice, coquetry, or
affectation. There's Miss Jenny Tinderbox, I once remember her to have
had some beauty, and a moderate fortune. Her elder sister happened to
marry a man of quality, and this seemed as a statute of virginity
against poor Jane. Because there was one lucky hit in the family, she
was resolved not to disgrace it by introducing a tradesman. By thus
rejecting her equals, and neglected or despised by her superiors, she
now acts in the capacity of tutoress to her sister's children, and
undergoes the drudgery of three servants, without receiving the wages
of one.

"Miss Squeeze was a pawnbroker's daughter; her father had early taught
her that money was a very good thing, and left her a moderate fortune
at his death. She was so perfectly sensible of the value of what she
had got, that she was resolved never to part with a farthing without
an equality on the part of her suitor: she thus refused several offers
made her by people who wanted to better themselves, as the saying is;
and grew old and ill-natured, without ever considering that she should
have made an abatement in her pretensions, from her face being pale,
and marked with the small-pox.

"Lady Betty Tempest, on the contrary, had beauty, with fortune and
family. But fond of conquest, she passed from triumph to triumph; she
had read plays and romances, and there had learned that a plain man of
common sense was no better than a fool: such she refused, and sighed
only for the gay, giddy, inconstant, and thoughtless; after she had
thus rejected hundreds who liked her, and sighed for hundreds who
despised her, she found herself insensibly deserted: at present she is
company only for her aunts and cousins, and sometimes makes one in a
country-dance, with only one of the chairs for a partner, casts off
round a joint-stool, and sets to a corner-cupboard. In a word, she is
treated with civil contempt from every quarter, and placed, like a
piece of old-fashioned lumber, merely to fill up a corner.

"But Sophronia, the sagacious Sophronia, how shall I mention her? She
was taught to love Greek, and hate the men from her very infancy: she
has rejected fine gentlemen because they were not pedants, and pedants
because they were not fine gentlemen; her exquisite sensibility has
taught her to discover every fault in every lover, and her inflexible
justice has prevented her pardoning them: thus she rejected several
offers, till the wrinkles of age had overtaken her; and now, without
one good feature in her face, she talks incessantly of the beauties of
the mind."



Though naturally pensive, yet I am fond of gay company, and take every
opportunity of thus dismissing the mind from duty. From this motive I
am often found in the centre of a crowd; and wherever pleasure is to
be sold, am always a purchaser. In those places, without being
remarked by any, I join in whatever goes forward, work my passions
into a similitude of frivolous earnestness, shout as they shout, and
condemn as they happen to disapprove. A mind thus sunk for a while
below its natural standard, is qualified for stronger flights, as
those first retire who would spring forward with greater vigour.

Attracted by the serenity of the evening, my friend and I lately went
to gaze upon the company in one of the public walks near the city.
Here we sauntered together for some time, either praising the beauty
of such as were handsome, or the dresses of such as had nothing else
to recommend them. We had gone thus deliberately forward for some
time, when stopping on a sudden, my friend caught me by the elbow, and
led me out of the public walk; I could perceive by the quickness of
his pace, and by his frequently looking behind, that he was attempting
to avoid somebody who followed; we now turned to the right, then to
the left; as we went forward he still went faster, but in vain; the
person whom he attempted to escape, hunted us through every doubling,
and gained upon us each moment; so that at last we fairly stood still,
resolving to face what we could not avoid.

Our pursuer soon came up, and joined us with all the familiarity of an
old acquaintance. "My dear Drybone," cries he, shaking my friend's
hand, "where have you been hiding this half a century? Positively I
had fancied you were gone down to cultivate matrimony and your estate
in the country." During the reply, I had an opportunity of surveying
the appearance of our new companion; his hat was pinched up with
peculiar smartness; his looks were pale, thin, and sharp; round his
neck he wore a broad black ribbon, and in his bosom a buckle studded
with glass; his coat was trimmed with tarnished twist; he wore by his
side a sword with a black hilt, and his stockings of silk, though
newly washed, were grown yellow by long service. I was so much engaged
with the peculiarity of his dress, that I attended only to the latter
part of my friend's reply, in which he complimented Mr. Tibbs on the
taste of his clothes, and the bloom in his countenance: "Psha, psha,
Will," cried the figure, "no more of that if you love me, you know I
hate flattery, on my soul I do; and yet to be sure an intimacy with
the great will improve one's appearance, and a course of venison will
fatten; and yet faith I despise the great as much as you do; but there
are a great many damn'd honest fellows among them; and we must not
quarrel with one half, because the other wants weeding. If they were
all such as my Lord Muddler, one of the most good-natured creatures
that ever squeezed a lemon, I should myself be among the number of
their admirers. I was yesterday to dine at the Duchess of
Piccadilly's, my lord was there. Ned, says he to me, Ned, says he,
I'll hold gold to silver I can tell where you were poaching last
night. Poaching, my lord, says I; faith you have missed already; for I
staid at home, and let the girls poach for me. That's my way; I take a
fine woman as some animals do their prey; stand still, and swoop, they
fall into my mouth."

"Ah, Tibbs, thou art an happy fellow," cried my companion, with looks
of infinite pity, "I hope your fortune is as much improved as your
understanding in such company?"--"Improved," replied the other; "You
shall know,--but let it go no further,--a great secret--five hundred a
year to begin with.--My lord's word of honour for it--his lordship
took me down in his own chariot yesterday, and we had a tete-a-tete
dinner in the country; where we talked of nothing else."--"I fancy you
forget, sir," cried I, "you told us but this moment of your dining
yesterday in town!"--"Did I say so," replied he coolly, "to be sure if
I said so it was so--dined in town; egad now I do remember, I did dine
in town; but I dined in the country too; for you must know, my boys, I
eat two dinners. By the by, I am grown as nice as the devil in my
eating. I'll tell you a pleasant affair about that: We were a select
party of us to dine at Lady Grogram's, an affected piece, but let it
go no further; a secret: well, there happened to be no assafoetida in
the sauce to a turkey, upon which, says I, I'll hold a thousand
guineas, and say done first, that--but, dear Drybone, you are an
honest creature, lend me half-a-crown for a minute or two, or so, just
till--but hearkee, ask me for it the next time we meet, or it may be
twenty to one but I forget to pay you."

When he left us, our conversation naturally turned upon so
extraordinary a character. His very dress, cries my friend, is not
less extraordinary than his conduct. If you meet him this day you find
him in rags, if the next in embroidery. With those persons of
distinction, of whom he talks so familiarly, he has scarcely a
coffee-house acquaintance. However, both for the interests of society,
and perhaps for his own, heaven has made him poor, and while all the
world perceive his wants, he fancies them concealed from every eye. An
agreeable companion because he understands flattery, and all must be
pleased with the first part of his conversation, though all are sure
of its ending with a demand on their purse. While his youth
countenances the levity of his conduct, he may thus earn a precarious
subsistence, but when age comes on, the gravity of which is
incompatible with buffoonery, then will he find himself forsaken by
all. Condemned in the decline of life to hang upon some rich family
whom he once despised, there to undergo all the ingenuity of studied
contempt, to be employed only as a spy upon the servants, or a
bug-bear to frighten the children into obedience.



I am apt to fancy I have contracted a new acquaintance whom it will be
no easy matter to shake off. My little beau yesterday overtook me
again in one of the public walks, and slapping me on the shoulder,
saluted me with an air of the most perfect familiarity. His dress was
the same as usual, except that he had more powder in his hair, wore a
dirtier shirt, a pair of temple spectacles, and his hat under his arm.

As I knew him to be an harmless amusing little thing, I could not
return his smiles with any degree of severity; so we walked forward on
terms of the utmost intimacy, and in a few minutes discussed all the
usual topics preliminary to particular conversation.

The oddities that marked his character, however, soon began to appear;
he bowed to several well-dressed persons, who, by their manner of
returning the compliment, appeared perfect strangers. At intervals he
drew out a pocket-book, seeming to take memorandums before all the
company, with much importance and assiduity. In this manner he led me
through the length of the whole walk, fretting at his absurdities, and
fancying myself laughed at not less than him by every spectator.

When we were got to the end of our procession, "Blast me," cries he,
with an air of vivacity, "I never saw the park so thin in my life
before; there's no company at all to-day. Not a single face to be
seen."--"No company," interrupted I peevishly; "no company where there
is such a crowd; why man, there's too much. What are the thousands
that have been laughing at us but company!"--"Lard my dear," returned
he, with the utmost good-humour, "you seem immensely chagrined; but
blast me, when the world laughs at me, I laugh at all the world, and
so we are even. My Lord Trip, Bill Squash, the Creolian, and I,
sometimes make a party at being ridiculous; and so we say and do a
thousand things for the joke. But I see you are grave, and if you are
for a fine grave sentimental companion, you shall dine with me and my
wife to-day, I must insist on't; I'll introduce you to Mrs. Tibbs, a
lady of as elegant qualifications as any in nature; she was bred, but
that's between ourselves, under the inspection of the Countess of
All-night. A charming body of voice, but no more of that, she will
give us a song. You shall see my little girl too, Carolina Wilhelma
Amelia Tibbs, a sweet pretty creature: I design her for my Lord
Drumstick's eldest son, but that's in friendship, let it go no
further; she's but six years old, and yet she walks a minuet, and
plays on the guitar immensely already. I intend she shall be as
perfect as possible in every accomplishment. In the first place I'll
make her a scholar; I'll teach her Greek myself, and learn that
language purposely to instruct her; but let that be a secret."

Thus saying, without waiting for a reply, he took me by the arm, and
hauled me along. We passed through many dark alleys and winding ways;
for, from some motives to me unknown, he seemed to have a particular
aversion to every frequented street; at last, however, we got to the
door of a dismal looking house in the outlets of the town, where he
informed me he chose to reside for the benefit of the air.

We entered the lower door, which ever seemed to lie most hospitably
open; and I began to ascend an old and creaking stair-case, when, as
he mounted to show me the way, he demanded, whether I delighted in
prospects, to which answering in the affirmative, "Then," says he, "I
shall show you one of the most charming in the world out of my
windows; we shall see the ships sailing, and the whole country for
twenty miles round, tip top, quite high. My Lord Swamp would give ten
thousand guineas for such a one; but as I sometimes pleasantly tell
him, I always love to keep my prospects at home, that my friends may
see me the oftener."

By this time we were arrived as high as the stairs would permit us to
ascend, till we came to what he was facetiously pleased to call the
first floor down the chimney; and knocking at the door, a voice from
within demanded, who's there? My conductor answered, that it was him.
But this not satisfying the querist, the voice again repeated the
demand: to which he answered louder than before; and now the door was
opened by an old woman with cautious reluctance.

When we were got in, he welcomed me to his house with great ceremony,
and turning to the old woman, asked where was her lady? "Good troth,"
replied she, in a peculiar dialect, "she's washing your two shirts at
the next door, because they have taken an oath against lending out the
tub any longer."--"My two shirts," cries he in a tone that faultered
with confusion, "what does the idiot mean!"--"I ken what I mean well
enough," replied the other, "she's washing your two shirts at the next
door, because----"--"Fire and fury, no more of thy stupid
explanations," cried he,--"Go and inform her we have got company. Were
that Scotch hag to be for ever in the family, she would never learn
politeness, nor forget that absurd poisonous accent of hers, or
testify the smallest specimen of breeding or high life; and yet it is
very surprising too, as I had her from a parliament-man, a friend of
mine, from the highlands, one of the politest men in the world; but
that's a secret."

We waited some time for Mrs. Tibbs's arrival, during which interval I
had a full opportunity of surveying the chamber and all its furniture;
which consisted of four chairs with old wrought bottoms, that he
assured me were his wife's embroidery; a square table that had been
once japanned, a cradle in one corner, a lumbering cabinet in the
other; a broken shepherdess, and a mandarine without a head were stuck
over the chimney; and round the walls several paltry, unframed
pictures, which he observed, were all his own drawing: "What do you
think, sir, of that head in a corner, done in the manner of Grisoni?
there's the true keeping in it; it's my own face, and though there
happens to be no likeness, a countess offered me an hundred for its
fellow; I refused her, for, hang it, that would be mechanical, you

The wife at last made her appearance, at once a slattern and a coquet;
much emaciated, but still carrying the remains of beauty. She made
twenty apologies for being seen in such odious dishabille, but hoped
to be excused, as she had staid out all night at the gardens with the
countess, who was excessively fond of the horns. "And, indeed, my
dear," added she, turning to her husband, "his lordship drank your
health in a bumper."--"Poor Jack," cries he, "a dear good-natured
creature, I know he loves me; but I hope, my dear, you have given
orders for dinner; you need make no great preparations neither, there
are but three of us, something elegant, and little will do; a turbot,
an ortolan, or a----" "Or what do you think, my dear," interrupts the
wife, "of a nice pretty bit of ox-cheek, piping hot, and dressed with
a little of my own sauce."--"The very thing," replies he, "it will eat
best with some smart bottled beer; but be sure to let's have the sauce
his grace was so fond of. I hate your immense loads of meat, that is
country all over; extreme disgusting to those who are in the least
acquainted with high life."

By this time my curiosity began to abate, and my appetite to increase;
the company of fools may at first make us smile, but at last never
fails of rendering us melancholy; I therefore pretended to recollect a
prior engagement, and after having shown my respect to the house,
according to the fashion of the English, by giving the old servant a
piece of money at the door, I took my leave; Mr. Tibbs assuring me
that dinner, if I staid, would be ready at least in less than two



I had some intentions lately of going to visit Bedlam, the place where
those who go mad are confined. I went to wait upon the man in black to
be my conductor; but I found him preparing to go to Westminster Hall,
where the English hold their courts of justice. It gave me some
surprise to find my friend engaged in a law-suit, but more so, when he
informed me that it had been depending for several years. "How is it
possible," cried I, "for a man who knows the world to go to law? I am
well acquainted with the courts of justice in China; they resemble
rat-traps every one of them; nothing more easy than to get in, but to
get out again is attended with some difficulty, and more cunning than
rats are generally found to possess!"

"Faith," replied my friend, "I should not have gone to law, but that I
was assured of success before I began; things were presented to me in
so alluring a light, that I thought by barely declaring myself a
candidate for the prize, I had nothing more to do than to enjoy the
fruits of the victory. Thus have I been upon the eve of an imaginary
triumph every term these ten years; have travelled forward with
victory ever in my view, but ever out of reach; however, at present I
fancy we have hampered our antagonist in such a manner, that without
some unforeseen demur, we shall this day lay him fairly on his back."

"If things be so situated," said I, "I do not care if I attend you to
the courts, and partake in the pleasure of your success. But prithee,"
continued I, as we set forward, "what reasons have you to think an
affair at last concluded, which has given so many former
disappointments?"--"My lawyer tells me," returned he, "that I have
Salkeld and Ventris strong in my favour, and that there are no less
than fifteen cases in point."--"I understand," said I, "those are two
of your judges who have already declared their opinions."--"Pardon
me," replied my friend, "Salkeld and Ventris are lawyers who some
hundred years ago gave their opinions on cases similar to mine; these
opinions which make for me my lawyer is to cite, and those opinions
which look another way are cited by the lawyer employed by my
antagonist; as I observed, I have Salkeld and Ventris for me, he has
Coke and Hale for him, and he that has most opinions is most likely to
carry his cause."--"But where is the necessity," cried I, "of
prolonging a suit by citing the opinions and reports of others, since
the same good sense which determined lawyers in former ages may serve
to guide your judges at this day? They at that time gave their
opinions only from the light of reason; your judges have the same
light at present to direct them, let me even add a greater, as in
former ages there were many prejudices from which the present is
happily free. If arguing from authorities be exploded from every other
branch of learning, why should it be particularly adhered to in this?
I plainly foresee how such a method of investigation must embarrass
every suit, and even perplex the student; ceremonies will be
multiplied, formalities must increase, and more time will thus be
spent in learning the arts of litigation than in the discovery of

"I see," cries my friend, "that you are for a speedy administration of
justice; but all the world will grant that the more time that is taken
up in considering any subject the better it will be understood.
Besides, it is the boast of an Englishman, that his property is
secure, and all the world will grant that a deliberate administration
of justice is the best way to _secure his property_. Why have we so
many lawyers, but _to secure our property_? why so many formalities,
but _to secure our property_? Not less than one hundred thousand
families live in opulence, elegance, and ease, merely by _securing our

"To embarrass justice," returned I, "by a multiplicity of laws, or to
hazard it by a confidence in our judges, are, I grant, the opposite
rocks on which legislative wisdom has ever split; in one case the
client resembles that emperor, who is said to have been suffocated by
the bed-clothes, which were only designed to keep him warm: in the
other, to that town which let the enemy take possession of its walls,
in order to show the world how little they depended upon aught but
courage for safety:----But, bless me, what numbers do I see here--all
in black--how is it possible that half this multitude find
employment?"--"Nothing so easily conceived," returned my companion,
"they live by watching each other. For instance, the catchpole watches
the man in debt; the attorney watches the catchpole; the counsellor
watches the attorney; the solicitor the counsellor; and all find
sufficient employment." "I conceive you," interrupted I, "they watch
each other; but it is the client that pays them all for watching: it
puts me in mind of a Chinese fable, which is intituled, 'Five animals
at a meal.'

"A grasshopper, filled with dew, was merrily singing under a shade; a
whangam, that eats grasshoppers, had marked it for its prey, and was
just stretching forth to devour it; a serpent, that had for a long
time fed only on whangams, was coiled up to fasten on the whangam; a
yellow bird was just upon the wing to dart upon the serpent; a hawk
had just stooped from above to seize the yellow bird; all were intent
on their prey, and unmindful of their danger: so the whangam eat the
grasshopper, the serpent eat the whangam, the yellow bird the serpent,
and the hawk the yellow bird; when sousing from on high, a vulture
gobbled up the hawk, grasshopper, whangam, and all in a moment."

I had scarcely finished my fable, when the lawyer came to inform my
friend that his cause was put off till another term, that money was
wanted to retain, and that all the world was of opinion that the very
next hearing would bring him off victorious. "If so, then," cries my
friend, "I believe it will be my wisest way to continue the cause for
another term, and, in the mean time, my friend here and I will go and
see Bedlam."



I lately received a visit from the little beau, who I found had
assumed a new flow of spirits with a new suit of clothes. Our
discourse happened to turn upon the different treatment of the fair
sex here and in Asia, with the influence of beauty in refining our
manners and improving our conversation.

I soon perceived he was strongly prejudiced in favour of the Asiatic
method of treating the sex, and that it was impossible to persuade
him, but that a man was happier who had four wives at his command,
than he who had only one. "It is true," cries he, "your men of fashion
in the East are slaves, and under some terrors of having their throats
squeezed by a bow-string; but what then? they can find ample
consolation in a seraglio; they make indeed an indifferent figure in
conversation abroad, but then they have a seraglio to console them at
home. I am told they have no balls, drums, nor operas, but then they
have got a seraglio; they may be deprived of wine and French cookery,
but they have a seraglio; a seraglio, a seraglio, my dear creature,
wipes off every inconvenience in the world.

"Besides, I am told, your Asiatic beauties are the most convenient
women alive, for they have no souls; positively there is nothing in
Nature I should like so much as ladies without souls; soul here is the
utter ruin of half the sex. A girl of eighteen shall have soul enough
to spend an hundred pounds in the turning of a trump. Her mother shall
have soul enough to ride a sweepstake match at a horse-race; her
maiden aunt shall have soul enough to purchase the furniture of a
whole toyshop, and others shall have soul enough to behave as if they
had no souls at all."

"With respect to the soul," interrupted I, "the Asiatics are much
kinder to the fair sex than you imagine; instead of one soul, Fohi the
idol of China gives every woman three, the Bramins give them fifteen;
and even Mahomet himself no where excludes the sex from Paradise.
Abul-feda reports, that an old woman one day importuning him to know
what she ought to do in order to gain Paradise? 'My good lady,'
answered the prophet, 'old women never get there.'--'What, never get
to Paradise!' returned the matron, in a fury. 'Never,' says he, 'for
they always grow young by the way.'

"No, sir," continued I, "the men of Asia behave with more deference to
the sex than you seem to imagine. As you of Europe say grace, upon
sitting down to dinner, so it is the custom in China to say grace,
when a man goes to bed to his wife." "And may I die," returned my
companion, "but a very pretty ceremony; for seriously, sir, I see no
reason why a man should not be as grateful in one situation as in the
other. Upon honour, I always find myself much more disposed to
gratitude, on the couch of a fine woman, than upon sitting down to a
surloin of beef."

"Another ceremony," said I, resuming the conversation, "in favour of
the sex amongst us, is the bride's being allowed, after marriage, her
three days of freedom. During this interval a thousand extravagancies
are practised by either sex. The lady is placed upon the nuptial bed,
and numberless monkey tricks are played round to divert her. One
gentleman smells her perfumed handkerchief, another attempts to untie
her garters, a third pulls off her shoe to play hunt the slipper,
another pretends to be an idiot, and endeavours to raise a laugh by
grimacing; in the mean time, the glass goes briskly about, till
ladies, gentlemen, wife, husband, and all are mixed together in one
inundation of arrack punch."

"Strike me dumb, deaf, and blind," cried my companion, "but very
pretty; there is some sense in your Chinese ladies' condescension; but
among us, you shall scarcely find one of the whole sex that shall hold
her good humour for three days together. No later than yesterday I
happened to say some civil things to a citizen's wife of my
acquaintance, not because I loved, but because I had charity; and what
do you think was the tender creature's reply? Only that she detested
my pigtail wig, high-heeled shoes, and sallow complexion. That is all.
Nothing more! Yes, by the heavens, though she was more ugly than an
unpainted actress, I found her more insolent than a thorough-bred
woman of quality."

He was proceeding in this wild manner, when his invective was
interrupted, by the man in black, who entered the apartment,
introducing his niece, a young lady of exquisite beauty. Her very
appearance was sufficient to silence the severest satyrist of the sex;
easy without pride, and free without impudence, she seemed capable of
supplying every sense with pleasure; her looks, her conversation were
natural and unconstrained; she had neither been taught to languish nor
ogle, to laugh without a jest, or sigh without sorrow. I found that
she had just returned from abroad, and had been conversant in the
manners of the world. Curiosity prompted me to ask several questions,
but she declined them all. I own I never found myself so strongly
prejudiced in favour of apparent merit before; and could willingly
have prolonged our conversation, but the company after some time
withdrew. Just, however, before the little beau took his leave, he
called me aside, and requested I would change him a twenty pound bill,
which as I was incapable of doing, he was contented with borrowing
half a crown.



The first of our Society is a Gentleman of _Worcestershire_, of
antient Descent, a Baronet, his Name Sir ROGER DE COVERLEY. His great
Grandfather was Inventor of that famous Country-Dance which is call'd
after him. All who know that Shire are very well acquainted with the
Parts and Merits of Sir Roger. He is a Gentleman that is very singular
in his Behaviour, but his Singularities proceed from his good Sense,
and are Contradictions to the Manners of the World, only as he thinks
the World is in the wrong. However, this Humour creates him no
Enemies, for he does nothing with Sourness or Obstinacy; and his being
unconfined to Modes and Forms, makes him but the readier and more
capable to please and oblige all who know him. When he is in town he
lives in _Soho-Square_: It is said, he keeps himself a Batchelor by
reason he was crossed in Love, by a perverse beautiful Widow of the
next County to him. Before this Disappointment, Sir Roger was what you
call a fine Gentleman, had often supped with my Lord _Rochester_ and
Sir _George Etherege_, fought a Duel upon his first coming to Town,
and kick'd Bully _Dawson_ in a publick Coffee-house for calling him
Youngster. But being ill used by the above-mentioned Widow, he was
very serious for a Year and a half; and though, his Temper being
naturally jovial, he at last got over it, he grew careless of himself,
and never dressed afterwards; he continues to wear a Coat and Doublet
of the same Cut that were in Fashion at the Time of his Repulse,
which, in his merry Humours, he tells us, has been in and out twelve
Times since he first wore it. He is now in his Fifty sixth Year,
cheerful, gay, and hearty, keeps a good House both in Town and
Country; a great Lover of Mankind; but there is such a mirthful Cast
in his Behaviour, that he is rather beloved than esteemed: His Tenants
grow rich, his Servants look satisfied, all the young Women profess
Love to him, and the young Men are glad of his Company: When he comes
into a House he calls the Servants by their Names, and talks all the
way up Stairs to a Visit. I must not omit that Sir Roger is a Justice
of the _Quorum_; that he fills the chair at a Quarter-Session with
great Abilities, and three Months ago gain'd universal Applause by
explaining a Passage in the Game-Act.

The Gentleman next in Esteem and Authority among us, is another
Batchelor, who is a Member of the _Inner Temple_; a man of great
Probity, Wit, and Understanding; but he has chosen his Place of
Residence rather to obey the Direction of an old humoursom Father,
than in pursuit of his own Inclinations. He was placed there to study
the Laws of the Land, and is the most learned of any of the House in
those of the Stage. _Aristotle_ and _Longinus_ are much better
understood by him than _Littleton_ or _Cooke_. The Father sends up
every Post Questions relating to Marriage-Articles, Leases, and
Tenures, in the Neighbourhood; all which Questions he agrees with an
Attorney to answer and take care of in the Lump: He is studying the
Passions themselves, when he should be inquiring into the Debates
among Men which arise from them. He knows the Argument of each of the
Orations of _Demosthenes_ and _Tully_, but not one Case in the Reports
of our own Courts. No one ever took him for a Fool, but none, except
his intimate Friends, know he has a great deal of Wit. This Turn makes
him at once both disinterested and agreeable: As few of his Thoughts
are drawn from Business, they are most of them fit for Conversation.
His Taste of Books is a little too just for the Age he lives in; he
has read all, but approves of very few. His Familiarity with the
Customs, Manners, Actions, and Writings of the Antients, makes him a
very delicate Observer of what occurs to him in the present World. He
is an excellent Critick, and the Time of the Play is his Hour of
Business; exactly at five he passes thro' _New-Inn_, crosses thro'
_Russel-Court_, and takes a turn at _Will's_ till the play begins; he
has his Shoes rubbed and his Perriwig powder'd at the Barber's as you
go into the _Rose_. It is for the Good of the Audience when he is at a
Play, for the Actors have an Ambition to please him.

The Person of next Consideration is Sir ANDREW FREEPORT, a Merchant of
great Eminence in the City of _London_. A Person of indefatigable
Industry, strong Reason, and great Experience. His Notions of Trade
are noble and generous, and (as every rich Man has usually some sly
Way of Jesting, which would make no great Figure were he not a rich
Man) he calls the Sea the _British Common_. He is acquainted with
Commerce in all its Parts, and will tell you that it is a stupid and
barbarous Way to extend Dominion by Arms; for true Power is to be got
by Arts and Industry. He will often argue, that if this Part of our
Trade were well cultivated, we should gain from one Nation; and if
another, from another. I have heard him prove, that Diligence makes
more lasting Acquisitions than Valour, and that Sloth has ruined more
Nations than the Sword. He abounds in several frugal Maxims, among
which the greatest Favourite is, "A Penny saved is a Penny got." A
General Trader of good Sense, is pleasanter company than a general
Scholar; and Sir Andrew having a natural unaffected Eloquence, the
Perspicuity of his Discourse gives the same Pleasure that Wit would in
another Man. He has made his Fortunes himself; and says that _England_
may be richer than other Kingdoms, by as plain Methods as he himself
is richer than other Men; tho' at the same Time I can say this of him,
that there is not a point in the Compass but blows home a Ship in
which he is an Owner.

Next to Sir Andrew in the Club-room sits Captain SENTRY, a Gentleman
of great Courage, good Understanding, but invincible Modesty. He is
one of those that deserve very well, but are very awkward at putting
their Talents within the Observation of such as should take Notice of
them. He was some Years a Captain, and behaved himself with great
Gallantry in several Engagements, and at several Sieges; but having a
small Estate of his own, and being next Heir to Sir Roger, he has
quitted a Way of Life in which no Man can rise suitably to his Merit,
who is not something of a Courtier as well as a Soldier. I have heard
him often lament, that in a Profession where Merit is placed in so
conspicuous a View, Impudence should get the better of Modesty. When
he has talked to this Purpose I never heard him make a sour
Expression, but frankly confess that he left the World, because he was
not fit for it. A strict Honesty and an even Regular Behaviour, are in
themselves obstacles to him that must press through Crowds, who
endeavour at the same End with himself, the Favour of a Commander. He
will however in his Way of Talk excuse Generals, for not disposing
according to Mens Desert, or inquiring into it: For, says he, that
great Man who has a Mind to help me, has as many to break through to
come at me, as I have to come to him: Therefore he will conclude, that
the Man who would make a Figure, especially in a military Way, must
get over all false Modesty, and assist his Patron against the
Importunity of other Pretenders, by a proper Assurance in his own
Vindication. He says it is a civil Cowardice to be backward in
asserting what you ought to expect, as it is a military Fear to be
slow in attacking when it is your Duty. With this Candour does the
Gentleman speak of himself and others. The same Frankness runs through
all his Conversation. The military Part of his Life has furnish'd him
with many Adventures, in the Relation of which he is very agreeable to
the Company; for he is never overbearing, though accustomed to command
Men in the utmost Degree below him; nor ever too obsequious, from an
Habit of obeying Men highly above him.

But that our Society may not appear a Set of Humourists unacquainted
with the Gallantries and Pleasures of the Age, we have among us the
gallant WILL. HONEYCOMB, a Gentleman who according to his Years should
be in the Decline of his Life, but having ever been very careful of
his Person, and always had a very easie Fortune, Time has made but
very little Impression, either by Wrinkles on his Forehead, or Traces
in his Brain. His Person is well turn'd, of a good Height. He is very
ready at that sort of Discourse with which Men usually entertain
Women. He has all his Life dressed very well, and remembers Habits as
others do Men. He can smile when one speaks to him, and laughs easily.
He knows the History of every Mode, and can inform you from which of
the _French_ King's Wenches our Wives and Daughters had this Manner of
curling their Hair, that Way of placing their Hoods; and whose Vanity
to show her Foot made Petticoats so short in such a Year. In a Word,
all his Conversation and Knowledge has been in the female World: As
other Men of his Age will take Notice to you what such a Minister said
upon such and such an Occasion, he will tell you when the Duke of
_Monmouth_ danced at Court such a Woman was then smitten, another was
taken with him at the Head of his Troop in the _Park_. In all these
important Relations, he has ever about the same Time received a Glance
or a Blow of a Fan from some celebrated Beauty, Mother of the Present
Lord such-a-one. This way of Talking of his very much enlivens the
Conversation among us of a more sedate Turn; and I find there is not
one of the Company but my self, who rarely speak at all, but speaks of
him as that Sort of Man, who is usually called a well-bred fine

I cannot tell whether I am to account him whom I am next to speak of,
as one of our Company; for he visits us but seldom, but when he does
it adds to every Man else a new Enjoyment of himself. He is a
Clergyman, a very philosophick Man, of general Learning, great
Sanctity of Life, and the most exact good Breeding. He has the
Misfortune to be of a very weak Constitution, and consequently cannot
accept of such Cares and Business as Preferments in his Function would
oblige him to: He is therefore among Divines what a Chamber-Counsellor
is among Lawyers. The Probity of his Mind, and the Integrity of his
Life, create him Followers, as being eloquent or loud advances others.
He seldom introduces the Subject he speaks upon; but we are so far
gone in Years, that he observes, when he is among us, an Earnestness
to have him fall on some divine Topick, which he always treats with
much Authority, as one who has no Interests in this World, as one who
is hastening to the Object of all his Wishes, and conceives Hope from
his Decays and Infirmities. These are my ordinary Companions.



The Club of which I am a Member is very luckily composed of such
Persons as are engaged in different Ways of Life, and deputed as it
were out of the most conspicuous Classes of Mankind: By this Means I
am furnished with the greatest Variety of Hints and Materials, and
know every thing that passes in the different Quarters and Divisions,
not only of this great City, but of the whole Kingdom. My Readers too
have the Satisfaction to find, that there is no rank or Degree among
them who have not their Representative in this Club, and that there is
always some Body present who will take Care of their respective
Interests, that nothing may be written or published to the Prejudice
or Infringement of their just Rights and Privileges.

I last Night sat very late in Company with this select Body of
Friends, who entertained me with several Remarks which they and others
had made upon these my Speculations, as also with the various Success
which they had met with among their several Ranks and Degrees of
Readers. WILL. HONEYCOMB told me, in the softest manner he could, that
there were some Ladies (but for your Comfort, says Will., they are not
those of the most Wit) that were offended at the Liberties I had taken
with the Opera and the Puppet-Show: That some of them were likewise
very much surprised, that I should think such serious Points as the
Dress and Equipage of Persons of Quality, proper Subjects for

He was going on, when Sir ANDREW FREEPORT took him up short, and told
him, that the Papers he hinted at had done great Good in the City, and
that all their Wives and Daughters were the better for them: And
further added, that the whole City thought themselves very much
obliged to me for declaring my generous Intentions to scourge Vice and
Folly as they appear in a Multitude, without condescending to be a
Publisher of particular Intreagues and Cuckoldoms. In short, says Sir
Andrew, if you avoid that foolish beaten Road of falling upon Aldermen
and Citizens, and employ your Pen upon the Vanity and Luxury of
Courts, your Paper must needs be of general Use.

Upon this my Friend the TEMPLER told Sir Andrew, That he wondered to
hear a Man of his Sense talk after that manner; that the City had
always been the Province for Satyr; and that the Wits of King
_Charles's_ Time jested upon nothing else during his whole Reign. He
then shewed, by the Examples of _Horace_, _Juvenal_, _Boileau_, and
the best Writers of every age, that the Follies of the Stage and Court
had never been accounted too sacred for Ridicule, how great soever the
Persons might be that patroniz'd them. But after all, says he, I think
your Raillery has made too great an Excursion, in attacking several
Persons of the Inns of Court; and I do not believe you can shew me any
Precedent for your Behaviour in that Particular.

My good friend Sir ROGER DE COVERLEY, who had said nothing all this
while, began his Speech with a Pish! and told us, That he wondered to
see so many Men of Sense so very serious upon Fooleries. Let our good
Friend, says he, attack every one that deserves it: I would only
advise you, Mr. SPECTATOR, applying himself to me, to take care how
you meddle with Country Squires: they are the Ornaments of the
_English_ Nation; Men of Good Heads and sound Bodies! and let me tell
you, some of them take it ill of you, that you mention Fox-hunters
with so little Respect.

Captain Sentry spoke very sparingly on this Occasion. What he said was
only to commend my Prudence in not touching upon the Army, and advised
me to continue to act discreetly in that Point.

By this time I found every subject of my Speculations was taken away
from me, by one or other of the Club; and began to think my self in
the Condition of the good Man that had one Wife who took a Dislike to
his grey Hairs, and another to his black, till by their picking out
what each of them had an Aversion to, they left his Head altogether
bald and naked.

While I was thus musing with my self, my worthy Friend the Clergyman,
who, very luckily for me, was at the Club that Night, undertook my
Cause. He told us, that he wondered any Order of Persons should think
themselves too considerable to be advis'd: That it was not Quality,
but Innocence, which exempted Men from Reproof: That Vice and Folly
ought to be attacked wherever they could be met with, and especially
when they were placed in high and conspicuous Stations of Life. He
further added, That my Paper would only serve to aggravate the Pains
of Poverty, if it chiefly exposed those who are already depress'd, and
in some measure turned into Ridicule, by the Meanness of their
Conditions and Circumstances. He afterwards proceeded to take Notice
of the great Use this paper might be of to the Publick, by
reprehending those Vices which are too trivial for the Chastisement of
the Law, and too fantastical for the Cognizance of the Pulpit. He then
advised me to prosecute my Undertaking with Chearfulness; and assured
me, that whoever might be displeased with me, I should be approved by
all those whose Praises do Honour to the Persons on whom they are

The whole Club pays a particular Deference to the Discourse of this
Gentleman, and are drawn into what he says, as much by the candid
ingenuous Manner with which he delivers himself, as by the Strength of
Argument and Force of Reason which he makes use of. Will. Honeycomb
Immediately Agreed, That What He Had Said Was right; and that for his
Part, he would not insist upon the Quarter which he had demanded for
the Ladies. Sir Andrew gave up the City with the same Frankness. The
Templer would not stand out; and was followed by Sir Roger and the
Captain: Who all agreed that I should be at Liberty to carry the War
into what Quarter I pleased; provided I continued to combat with
Criminals in a Body, and to assault the Vice without hurting the

This Debate, which was held for the Good of Mankind, put me in mind of
that which the _Roman_ Triumvirate were formerly engaged in, for their
Destruction. Every Man at first stood hard for his Friend, till they
found that by this Means they should spoil their Proscription: And at
length, making a Sacrifice of all their Acquaintance and Relations,
furnished out a very decent Execution.

Having thus taken my Resolutions to march on boldly in the Cause of
Virtue and good Sense, and to annoy their Adversaries in whatever
Degree or Rank of Men they may be found: I shall be deaf for the
future to all the Remonstrances that shall be made to me on this
Account. If _Punch_ grows extravagant, I shall reprimand him very
freely: If the Stage becomes a Nursery of Folly and Impertinence, I
shall not be afraid to animadvert upon it. In short, If I meet with
any thing in City, Court, or Country, that shocks Modesty or good
Manners, I shall use my utmost Endeavours to make an Example of it. I
must however intreat every particular Person, who does me the Honour
to be a Reader of this Paper, never to think himself, or any one of
his Friends or Enemies, aimed at in what is said: For I promise him,
never to draw a faulty Character which does not fit at least a
Thousand People; or to publish a single Paper, that is not written in
the Spirit of Benevolence, and with a love to Mankind.



Having often received an Invitation from my Friend Sir ROGER DE
COVERLEY to pass away a Month with him in the Country, I last week
accompanied him thither, and am settled with him for some Time at his
Country-house, where I intend to form several of my ensuing
Speculations. Sir Roger, who is very well acquainted with my Humour,
lets me rise and go to Bed when I please, dine at his own Table or in
my Chamber as I think fit, sit still and say nothing without bidding
me be merry. When the Gentlemen of the County come to see him, he only
shews me at a distance: As I have been walking in his Fields I have
observed them stealing a Sight of me over an Hedge, and have heard the
Knight desiring them not to let me see them, for that I hated to be
stared at.

I am the more at Ease in Sir Roger's Family, because it consists of
sober and staid Persons; for as the Knight is the best Master in the
World, he seldom changes his Servants; and as he is beloved by all
about him, his Servants never care for leaving him: By this Means his
Domesticks are all in Years, and grown old with their Master. You
would take his Valet de Chambre for his Brother, his Butler is
grey-headed, his Groom is one of the gravest Men that I have ever
seen, and his Coachman has the Looks of a Privy-Counsellor. You see
the Goodness of the Master even in the old House-dog, and in a gray
Pad that is kept in the Stable with great Care and tenderness out of
Regard to his past Services, tho' he has been useless for several

I could not but observe with a great deal of Pleasure the Joy that
appeared in the Countenances of these ancient Domesticks upon my
Friend's Arrival at his Country-Seat. Some of them could not refrain
from Tears at the Sight of their old Master; every one of them press'd
forward to do something for him, and seemed discouraged if they were
not employed. At the same Time the good old Knight, with a Mixture of
the Father and the Master of the Family, tempered the Enquiries after
his own affairs with several kind Questions relating to themselves.
This Humanity and Good nature engages every Body to him, so that when
he is pleasant upon any of them, all his Family are in good Humour,
and none so much as the Person whom He diverts himself with: On the
Contrary, if he coughs, or betrays any Infirmity of old Age, it is
easy for a Stander-by to observe a secret Concern in the Looks of all
his Servants.

My worthy Friend has put me under the particular Care of his Butler,
who is a very prudent Man, and, as well as the rest of his
Fellow-Servants, wonderfully desirous of pleasing me, because they
have often heard their Master talk of me as of his particular Friend.

My chief Companion, when Sir Roger is diverting himself in the Woods
or the Fields, is a very venerable Man who is ever with Sir Roger, and
has lived at his House in the Nature of a Chaplain above thirty Years.
This Gentleman is a Person of good Sense and some Learning, of a very
regular Life and obliging Conversation: He heartily loves Sir Roger,
and knows that he is very much in the old Knight's Esteem; so that he
lives in the Family rather as a Relation than a Dependant.

I have observed in several of my Papers that my Friend Sir Roger,
amidst all his good Qualities, is something of an Humourist; and that
his Virtues, as well as Imperfections, are as it were tinged by a
certain Extravagance, which makes them particularly _his_, and
distinguishes them from those of other Men. This Cast of Mind, as it
is generally very innocent in it self, so it renders his Conversation
highly agreeable, and more delightful than the same Degree of Sense
and Virtue would appear in their common and ordinary Colours. As I was
walking with him last Night, he ask'd me how I liked the good Man whom
I have just now mentioned? and without staying for my Answer, told me,
That he was afraid of being insulted with Latin and Greek at his own
Table; for which Reason, he desired a particular Friend of his at the
University to find him out a Clergyman rather of plain Sense than much
Learning, of a good Aspect, a clear Voice, a sociable Temper, and, if
possible, a Man that understood a little of Back-Gammon. "My friend,"
says Sir Roger, "found me out this Gentleman, who, besides the
Endowments required of him, is, they tell me, a good Scholar though he
does not shew it. I have given him the Parsonage of the Parish; and
because I know his Value, have settled upon him a good Annuity for
Life. If he out-lives me, he shall find that he was higher in my
Esteem than perhaps he thinks he is. He has now been with me thirty
Years; and though he does not know I have taken Notice of it, has
never in all that Time asked any thing of me for himself, tho' he is
every Day solliciting me for something in Behalf of one or other of my
Tenants his Parishioners. There has not been a Law-Suit in the Parish
since he has lived among them: If any Dispute arises, they apply
themselves to him for the Decision; if they do not acquiesce in his
Judgment, which I think never happened above once, or twice at most,
they appeal to me. At his first settling with me, I made him a Present
of all the good Sermons which have been printed in _English_, and only
begged of him that every _Sunday_ he would pronounce one of them in
the Pulpit. Accordingly, he has digested them into such a Series, that
they follow one another naturally, and make a continued System of
practical Divinity."

As Sir Roger was going on in his Story, the Gentleman we were talking
of came up to us; and upon the Knight's asking him who preached to
Morrow (for it was _Saturday_ Night) told us, the Bishop of St.
_Asaph_ in the Morning, and Doctor _South_ in the Afternoon. He then
shewed us his List of Preachers for the whole Year, where I saw with a
great deal of Pleasure Archbishop _Tillotson_, Bishop _Saunderson_,
Doctor _Barrow_, Doctor _Calamy_, with several living Authors who have
published Discourses of Practical Divinity. I no sooner saw this
venerable Man in the Pulpit, but I very much approved of my Friend's
insisting upon the Qualifications of a good Aspect and a clear Voice;
for I was so charmed with the Gracefulness of his Figure and Delivery,
as well as with the Discourses he pronounced, that I think I never
passed any Time more to my Satisfaction. A Sermon repeated after this
Manner, is like the Composition of a Poet in the Mouth of a graceful

I could heartily wish that more of our Country-Clergy would follow
this Example; and instead of wasting their Spirits in laborious
Compositions of their own, would endeavour after a handsome Elocution,
and all those other Talents that are proper to enforce what has been
penned by greater Masters. This would not only be more easy to
themselves, but more edifying to the People.



As I was Yesterday Morning walking with Sir ROGER before his House, a
Country-Fellow brought him a huge Fish, which, he told him, Mr.
_William Wimble_ had caught that very Morning; and that he presented
it, with his Service, to him, and intended to come and dine with him.
At the same Time he delivered a Letter, which my Friend read to me as
soon as the Messenger left him.

    "_Sir Roger_,

I Desire you to accept of a Jack, which is the best I have caught this
Season. I intend to come and stay with you a Week, and see how the
Perch bite in the _Black River_. I observed, with some Concern, the
last Time I saw you upon the Bowling-Green, that your Whip wanted a
Lash to it: I will bring half a Dozen with me that I twisted last
Week, which I hope will serve you all the Time you are in the Country.
I have not been out of the Saddle for six Days last past, having been
at _Eaton_ with Sir _John's_ eldest Son. He takes to his Learning

                      _I am,
                                Your humble Servant,_
                                                Will. Wimble."

This extraordinary Letter, and Message that accompanied it, made me
very curious to know the Character and Quality of the Gentleman who
sent them; which I found to be as follows: _Will. Wimble_ is younger
Brother to a Baronet, and descended of the ancient Family of the
_Wimbles_. He is now between Forty and Fifty: but being bred to no
Business and born to no Estate, he generally lives with his elder
Brother as Superintendant of his Game. He hunts a Pack of Dogs better
than any Man in the Country, and is very famous for finding out a
Hare. He is extremely well versed in all the little Handicrafts of an
idle Man: He makes a May-fly to a miracle; and furnishes the whole
Country with Angle-Rods. As he is a good-natur'd officious Fellow, and
very much esteemed upon Account of his Family, he is a welcome Guest
at every House, and keeps up a good Correspondence among all the
Gentlemen about him. He carries a Tulip-Root in his pocket from one to
another, or exchanges a Puppy between a couple of Friends that live
perhaps in the opposite Sides of the Country. _Will._ is a particular
Favourite of all the young Heirs, whom he frequently obliges with a
Net that he has weaved, or a Setting-dog that he has _made_ himself:
He now and then presents a Pair of Garters of his own knitting to
their Mothers or Sisters; and raises a great deal of Mirth among them,
by enquiring as often as he meets them _how they wear?_ These
Gentleman-like Manufactures and obliging little Humours, make _Will._
the Darling of the Country.

Sir Roger was proceeding in the Character of him, when we saw him make
up to us, with two or three Hazel-twigs in his Hand that he had cut in
Sir Roger's Woods, as he came through them, in his Way to the House. I
was very much pleased to observe on one Side the hearty and sincere
Welcome with which Sir Roger received him, and on the other the secret
Joy which his Guest discovered at Sight of the good old Knight. After
the first Salutes were over, _Will._ desired Sir ROGER to lend him one
of his Servants to carry a Set of Shuttlecocks he had with him in a
little Box to a Lady that liv'd about a Mile off, to whom it seems he
had promised such a Present for above this half Year. Sir Roger's back
was no sooner turn'd, but honest _Will._ began to tell me of a large
Cock-Pheasant that he had sprung in one of the neighbouring Woods,
with two or three other Adventures of the same Nature. Odd and
uncommon Characters are the Game that I look for, and most delight in;
for which Reason I was as much pleased with the Novelty of the Person
that talked to me, as he could be for his Life with the springing of a
Pheasant, and therefore listened to him with more than ordinary

In the Midst of his Discourse the Bell rung to Dinner, where the
Gentleman I have been speaking of had the Pleasure of seeing the huge
Jack, he had caught, served up for the first Dish in a most sumptuous
Manner. Upon our sitting down to it he gave us a long Account how he
had hooked it, played with it, foiled it, and at length drew it out
upon the Bank, with several other Particulars that lasted all the
first Course. A Dish of Wild-fowl that came afterwards furnished
Conversation for the rest of the Dinner, which concluded with a late
Invention of _Will.'s_ for improving the Quail Pipe.

Upon withdrawing into my Room after Dinner, I was secretly touched
with Compassion towards the honest Gentleman that had dined with us;
and could not but consider with a great deal of Concern, how so good
an Heart and such busy Hands were wholly employed in Trifles; that so
much Humanity should be so little beneficial to others, and so much
Industry so little advantageous to himself. The same Temper of Mind
and Application to Affairs might have recommended him to the publick
Esteem, and have raised his Fortune in another Station of Life. What
Good to his Country or himself might not a Trader or Merchant have
done with such useful tho' ordinary Qualifications?

_Will. Wimble_'s is the Case of many a younger Brother of a great
Family, who had rather see their Children starve like Gentlemen, than
thrive in a Trade or Profession that is beneath their Quality. This
Humour fills several Parts of _Europe_ with Pride and Beggary. It is
the Happiness of a trading Nation, like ours, that the younger Sons,
tho' uncapable of any liberal Art or Profession, may be placed in such
a Way of Life, as may perhaps enable them to vie with the best of
their Family: Accordingly we find several Citizens that were launched
into the World with narrow Fortunes, rising by an honest Industry to
greater Estates than those of their elder Brothers. It is not
improbable but _Will._ was formerly tried at Divinity, Law, or
Physick; and that finding his Genius did not lie that Way, his Parents
gave him up at length to his own Inventions: But certainly, however
improper he might have been for Studies of a higher Nature, he was
perfectly well turned for the Occupations of Trade and Commerce. As I
think this is a Point which cannot be too much inculcated, I shall
desire my Reader to compare what I have here written with what I have
said in my Twenty first Speculation.



I was this Morning walking in the Gallery, when Sir ROGER enter'd at
the end opposite to me, and advancing towards me, said, he was glad to
meet me among his Relations the DE COVERLEYS, and hoped I liked the
Conversation of so much good Company, who were as silent as my self. I
knew he alluded to the Pictures, and as he is a Gentleman who does not
a little value himself upon his ancient Descent, I expected he would
give me some Account of them. We were now arrived at the upper End of
the Gallery, when the Knight faced towards one of the Pictures, and as
we stood before it, he entered into the Matter, after his blunt way of
saying things, as they occur to his Imagination, without regular
Introduction, or Care to preserve the Appearance of Chain of Thought.

"It is," said he, "worth while to consider the Force of Dress; and how
the Persons of one Age differ from those of another, merely by that
only. One may observe also that the General Fashion of one Age has
been follow'd by one particular Set of People in another, and by them
preserved from one Generation to another. Thus the vast Jetting Coat
and small Bonnet, which was the Habit in _Harry_ the Seventh's time,
is kept on in the Yeoman of the Guard; not without a good and Politick
View, because they look a Foot taller, and a Foot and an half broader:
Besides, that the Cap leaves the Pace expanded, and consequently more
Terrible, and fitter to stand at the Entrance of Palaces.

"This Predecessor of ours, you see, is dressed after this Manner, and
his Cheeks would be no larger than mine were he in a Hat as I am. He
was the last Man that won a Prize in the Tilt-Yard (which is now a
Common Street before _Whitehall_). You see the broken Lance that lyes
there by his right Foot: he shivered that Lance of his Adversary all
to pieces; and bearing himself, look you Sir, in this manner, at the
same time he came within the Target of the Gentleman who rode again
him, and taking him with incredible Force before him on the Pummel of
his Saddle, he in that manner rid the Turnament over, with an Air that
shewed he did it rather to perform the Rule of the Lists, than Expose
his Enemy; however, it appeared he knew how to make use of a Victory,
and with a gentle Trot he marched up to a Gallery where their Mistress
sat (for they were Rivals) and let him down with laudable Courtesy and
pardonable Insolence. I don't know but it might be exactly where the
Coffee-house is now.

"You are to know this my Ancestor was not only of a military Genius
but fit also for the Arts of Peace, for he play'd on the Base-viol as
well as any Gentleman at Court; you see where his Viol hangs by his
Basket-hilt Sword. The Action at the Tilt-yard you may be sure won the
Fair Lady, who was a Maid of Honour, and the greatest Beauty of her
time; here she stands, the next Picture. You see, Sir, my Great Great
Great Grandmother has on the new-fashioned Petticoat, except that the
Modern is gathered at the Waste; my Grandmother appears as if she
stood in a large Drum, whereas the Ladies now walk as if they were in
a Go-Cart. For all this Lady was bred at Court, she became an
Excellent Country-Wife, she brought ten Children, and when I shew you
the Library, you shall see in her own hand (allowing for the
Difference of the Language) the best Receipt now in _England_ both for
an Hasty-Pudding and a Whitepot.

If you please to fall back a little, because it is necessary to look
at the three next Pictures at one View; these are three Sisters. She
on the right Hand, who is so very beautiful, dyed a Maid; the next to
her, still handsomer, had the same Fate, against her Will; this homely
thing in the middle had both their Portions added to her own, and was
Stolen by a neighbouring Gentleman, a Man of Stratagem and Resolution,
for he poisoned three Mastiffs to come at her, and knocked down two
Dear-stealers in carrying her off. Misfortunes happen in all Families:
The Theft of this Romp and so much Money, was no great matter to our
Estate. But the next Heir that possessed it was this soft Gentleman
whom you see there: Observe the small buttons, the little Boots, the
Laces, the Slashes about his Cloaths, and above all the Posture he is
drawn in, (which to be sure was his own chusing); you see he sits with
one Hand on a Desk writing, and looking as it were another way, like
an easie Writer, or a Sonneteer: He was one of those that had too much
Wit to know how to live in the World; he was a man of no Justice, but
great good Manners; he ruined every body that had any thing to do with
him, but never said a rude thing in his Life; the most indolent Person
in the World, he would sign a Deed that passed away half his Estate
with his Gloves on, but would not put on his Hat before a Lady, if it
were to save his Country. He is said to be the first that made Love by
squeezing the Hand. He left the Estate with ten thousand Pounds Debt
upon it, but however by all Hands I have been informed that he was
every way the finest Gentleman in the World. That Debt lay heavy on
our House for one Generation, but it was retrieved by a Gift from that
Honest Man you see there, a Citizen of our Name, but nothing at all
a-kin to us. I know Sir ANDREW FREEPORT has said behind my Back, that
this Man was descended from one of the ten Children of the Maid of
Honour I shewed you above. But it was never made out; we winked at the
thing indeed, because Money was wanting at that time."

Here I saw my Friend a little embarrassed, and turned my Face to the
next Portraiture.

Sir Roger went on with his Account of the Gallery in the following
manner. "This man" (pointing to him I look'd at) "I take to be the
Honour of our House. Sir HUMPHREY DE COVERLEY; he was in his Dealings
as punctual as a Tradesman, and as generous as a Gentleman. He would
have thought himself as much undone by breaking his Word, as if it
were to be followed by Bankruptcy. He served his Country as Knight of
this Shire to his dying Day: He found it no easie matter to maintain
an Integrity in his Words and Actions, even in things that regarded
the Offices which were incumbent upon him, in the care of his own
Affairs and Relations of Life, and therefore dreaded (tho' he had
great Talents) to go into Employments of State, where he must be
exposed to the Snares of Ambition. Innocence of Life and great Ability
were the distinguishing Parts of his Character; the latter, he had
often observed, had led to the Destruction of the former, and used
frequently to lament that Great and Good had not the same
Signification. He was an Excellent Husbandman, but had resolved not to
exceed such a degree of Wealth; all above it he bestowed in secret
Bounties many Years after the Sum he aimed at for his own use was
attained. Yet he did not slacken his Industry, but to a decent old Age
spent the Life and Fortune which was superfluous to himself, in the
Service of his Friends and Neighbours."

Here we were called to Dinner, and Sir Roger ended the Discourse of
this Gentleman, by telling me, as we followed the Servant, that this
his Ancestor was a Brave Man, and narrowly escaped being killed in the
Civil Wars; "for," said he, "he was sent out of the Field upon a
private Message the Day before the Battle of _Worcester_." The Whim of
narrowly escaping, by having been within a Day of Danger; with other
Matters above mentioned, mixed with good Sense, left me at a Loss
whether I was more delighted with my Friend's Wisdom or Simplicity.



At a little Distance from Sir RORGER's House, among the Ruins of an
old Abbey, there is a long Walk of aged Elms; which are shot up so
very high, that when one passes under them, the Rooks and Crows that
rest upon the Tops of them seem to be Cawing in another Region. I am
very much delighted with this Sort of Noise, which I consider as a
kind of a natural Prayer to that Being who supplies the Wants of his
whole Creation, and who, in the beautiful language of the _Psalms_,
feedeth the young Ravens that call upon him. I like this Retirement
the better, because of an ill Report it lies under of being _haunted_;
for which Reason (as I have been told in the Family) no living
Creature ever walks in it besides the Chaplain. My good Friend the
Butler desired me with a very grave Face not to venture myself in it
after Sun-set, for that one of the Footmen had been almost frighted
out of his Wits by a Spirit that appeared to him in the Shape of a
black Horse without an Head; to which he added, that about a month ago
one of the Maids coming home late that Way with a Pail of Milk upon
her Head, heard such a Rustling among the Bushes that she let it fall.

I was taking a Walk in this Place last Night between the Hours of Nine
and Ten, and could not but fancy it one of the most proper Scenes in
the World for a Ghost to appear in. The Ruins of the Abbey are
scattered up and down on every Side, and half covered with Ivy and
Elder-Bushes, the Harbours of several solitary Birds which seldom make
their Appearance till the Dusk of the Evening. The Place was formerly
a Church-yard, and has still several Marks in it of Graves and
Burying-Places. There is such an Eccho among the old Ruins and Vaults,
that if you stamp but a little louder than ordinary you hear the Sound
repeated. At the same Time the Walk of Elms, with the Croaking of the
Ravens which from time to time are heard from the Tops of them, looks
exceeding solemn and venerable. These Objects naturally raise
Seriousness and Attention; and when Night heightens the Awfulness of
the Place, and pours out her supernumerary Horrours upon every thing
in it, I do not at all wonder that weak Minds fill it with Spectres
and Apparitions.

Mr. _Locke_, in his Chapter of the Association of Ideas, has very
curious Remarks to shew how by the Prejudice of Education one Idea
often introduces into the Mind a whole Set that bear no Resemblance to
one another in the Nature of things. Among several Examples of this
Kind, he produces the following Instance. _The Ideas of Goblins and
Sprights have really no more to do with Darkness than Light: Yet let
but a foolish Maid inculcate these often on the Mind of a Child, and
raise them there together, possibly he shall never be able to separate
them again so long as he lives; but Darkness shall ever afterwards
bring with it those frightful Ideas, and they shall be so joyned, that
he can no more bear the one than the other._

As I was walking in this Solitude, where the Dusk of the Evening
conspired with so many other Occasions of Terrour, I observed a Cow
grazing not far from me, which an Imagination that was apt to
_startle_ might easily have construed into a black Horse without an
Head: and I dare say the poor Footman lost his Wits upon some such
trivial Occasion.

My Friend Sir Roger has often told me with a good deal of Mirth, that
at his first coming to his Estate he found three Parts of his House
altogether useless; that the best Room in it had the Reputation of
being haunted, and by that Means was locked up; that Noises had been
heard in his long Gallery, so that he could not get a Servant to enter
it after eight a Clock at Night; that the Door of one of his Chambers
was nailed up, because there went a Story in the Family that a Butler
had formerly hanged himself in it; and that his Mother, who lived to a
great Age, had shut up half the Rooms in the House, in which either
her Husband, a Son, or Daughter had died. The Knight seeing his
Habitation reduced to so small a Compass, and himself in a Manner shut
out of his own House, upon the Death of his Mother ordered all the
Apartments to be flung open, and _exorcised_ by his Chaplain who lay
in every Room one after another, and by that Means dissipated the
Fears which had so long reigned in the Family.

I should not have been thus particular upon these ridiculous Horrours,
did not I find them so very much prevail in all Parts of the Country.
At the same Time I think a Person who is thus terrify'd with the
Imagination of Ghosts and Spectres much more reasonable, than one who
contrary to the Reports of all Historians sacred and prophane, ancient
and modern, and to the Traditions of all Nations, thinks the
Appearance of Spirits fabulous and groundless: Could not I give my
self up to this general Testimony of Mankind, I should to the
relations of particular Persons who are now living, and whom I cannot
distrust in other Matters of Fact. I might here add, that not only the
Historians, to whom we may joyn the Poets, but likewise the
Philosophers of Antiquity have favoured this Opinion. _Lucretius_
himself, though by the Course of his Philosophy he was obliged to
maintain that the Soul did not exist separate from the Body, makes no
Doubt of the Reality of Apparitions, and that Men have often appeared
after their Death. This I think very remarkable; he was so pressed
with the Matter of Fact which he could not have the Confidence to
deny, that he was forced to account for it by one of the most absurd
unphilosophical Notions that was ever started. He tells us, That the
Surfaces of all Bodies are perpetually flying off from their
respective Bodies, one after another; and that these Surfaces or thin
Cases that included each other whilst they were joined in the Body
like the Coats of an Onion, are sometimes seen entire when they are
separated from it; by which Means we often behold the Shapes and
Shadows of Persons who are either dead or absent.



I am always very well pleased with a Country _Sunday_; and think, if
keeping holy the Seventh Day were only a human Institution, it would
be the best Method that could have been thought of for the polishing
and civilizing of Mankind. It is certain the Country-People would soon
degenerate into a kind of Savages and Barbarians, were there not such
frequent Returns of a stated Time, in which the whole Village meet
together with their best Faces, and in their cleanliest Habits, to
converse with one another upon indifferent Subjects, hear their Duties
explained to them, and join together in Adoration of the Supreme
Being. _Sunday_ clears away the Rust of the whole Week, not only as it
refreshes in their Minds the Notions of Religion, but as it puts both
the Sexes upon appearing in their most agreeable Forms, and exerting
all such Qualities as are apt to give them a Figure in the Eye of the
Village. A Country-Fellow distinguishes himself as much in the
_Churchyard_, as a Citizen does upon the _Change_; the whole
Parish-Politicks being generally discuss'd in that Place either after
Sermon or before the Bell rings.

My Friend Sir ROGER being a good Churchman, has beautified the Inside
of his Church with several Texts of his own chusing: He has likewise
given a handsome Pulpit-Cloth, and railed in the Communion-Table at
his own Expence. He has often told me, that at his coming to his
Estate he found his Parishioners very irregular; and that in order to
make them kneel and join in the Responses, he gave every one of them a
Hassock and a Common-prayer Book: and at the same Time employed an
itinerant Singing-Master, who goes about the Country for that Purpose,
to instruct them rightly in the Tunes of the Psalms; upon which they
now very much value themselves, and indeed out-do most of the Country
Churches that I have ever heard.

As Sir Roger is Landlord to the whole Congregation, he keeps them in
very good Order, and will suffer no Body to sleep in it besides
himself; for if by Chance he has been surprized into a short Nap at
Sermon, upon recovering out of it he stands up and looks about him,
and if he sees any Body else nodding, either wakes them himself, or
sends his Servants to them. Several other of the old Knight's
Particularities break out upon these Occasions: Sometimes he will be
lengthening out a Verse in the Singing-Psalms, half a Minute after the
rest of the Congregation have done with it; sometimes, when he is
pleased with the Matter of his Devotion, he pronounces _Amen_ three or
four times to the same Prayer; and sometimes stands up when every Body
else is upon their Knees, to count the Congregation, or see if any of
his Tenants are missing.

I was yesterday very much surprized to hear my old Friend, in the
Midst of the Service, calling out to one _John Matthews_ to mind what
he was about, and not disturb the Congregation. This _John Matthews_
it seems is remarkable for being an idle Fellow, and at that Time was
kicking his Heels for his Diversion. This Authority of the Knight,
though exerted in that odd Manner which accompanies him in all
Circumstances of Life, has a very good Effect upon the Parish, who are
not polite enough to see any thing ridiculous in his Behaviour;
besides that, the general good Sense and Worthiness of his Character,
make his friends observe these little Singularities as Foils that
rather set off than blemish his good Qualities.

As soon as the Sermon is finished, no Body presumes to stir till Sir
Roger is gone out of the Church. The Knight walks down from his Seat
in the Chancel between a double Row of his Tenants, that stand bowing
to him on each Side; and every now and then enquires how such an one's
Wife, or Mother, or Son, or Father do whom he does not see at Church;
which is understood as a secret Reprimand to the Person that is

The Chaplain has often told me, that upon a Catechizing-day, when Sir
Roger has been pleased with a Boy that answers well, he has ordered a
Bible to be given him next Day for his Encouragement; and sometimes
accompanies it with a Flitch of Bacon to his Mother. Sir Roger has
likewise added five Pounds a Year to the Clerk's Place; and that he
may encourage the young Fellows to make themselves perfect in the
Church-Service, has promised upon the Death of the present Incumbent,
who is very old, to bestow it according to Merit.

The fair Understanding between Sir Roger and his Chaplain, and their
mutual Concurrence in doing Good, is the more remarkable, because the
very next Village is famous for the Differences and Contentions that
rise between the Parson and the 'Squire, who live in a perpetual State
of War. The Parson is always preaching at the 'Squire, and the 'Squire
to be revenged on the Parson never comes to Church. The 'Squire has
made all his Tenants Atheists and Tithe-Stealers; while the Parson
instructs them every _Sunday_ in the Dignity of his Order, and
insinuates to them in almost every Sermon, that he is a better Man
than his Patron. In short, Matters are come to such an Extremity, that
the 'Squire has not said his Prayers either in publick or private this
half Year; and that the Parson threatens him, if he does not mend his
Manners, to pray for him in the Face of the whole Congregation.

Feuds of this Nature, though too frequent in the Country, are very
fatal to the ordinary People; who are so used to be dazled with
Riches, that they pay as much Deference to the Understanding of a Man
of an Estate, as of a Man of Learning; and are very hardly brought to
regard any Truth, how important soever it may be, that is preached to
them, when they know there are several Men of five hundred a Year who
do not believe it.



In my first Description of the Company in which I pass most of my
Time, it may be remembered that I mentioned a great Affliction which
my Friend Sir ROGER had met with in his Youth, which was no less than
a Disappointment in Love. It happened this Evening, that we fell into
a very pleasing Walk at a Distance from his House: As soon as we came
into it, "It is," quoth the good old Man, looking round him with a
Smile, "very hard, that any Part of my Land should be settled upon one
who has used me so ill as the perverse Widow did; and yet I am sure I
could not see a Sprig of any Bough of this whole Walk of Trees, but I
should reflect upon her and her Severity. She has certainly the finest
Hand of any Woman in the World. You are to know this was the Place
wherein I used to muse upon her; and by that Custom I can never come
into it, but the same tender Sentiments revive in my Mind, as if I had
actually walked with that beautiful Creature under these Shades. I
have been Fool enough to carve her Name on the Bark of several of
these Trees; so unhappy is the Condition of Men in Love, to attempt
the removing of their Passions by the Methods which serve only to
imprint it deeper. She has certainly the finest Hand of any Woman in
the World."

Here followed a profound Silence; and I was not displeased to observe
my Friend falling so naturally into a Discourse, which I had ever
before taken Notice he industriously avoided. After a very long Pause,
he entered upon an Account of this great Circumstance in his Life,
with an Air which I thought raised my _Idea_ of him above what I had
ever had before; and gave me the Picture of that chearful Mind of his,
before it received that Stroke which has ever since affected his Words
and Actions. But he went on as follows.

"I came to my Estate in my Twenty second Year, and resolved to follow
the Steps of the most worthy of my Ancestors, who have inhabited this
spot of Earth before me, in all the Methods of Hospitality and good
Neighbourhood, for the Sake of my Fame; and in Country Sports and
Recreations, for the Sake of my Health. In my Twenty third Year I was
obliged to serve as Sheriff of the County; and in my Servants,
Officers, and whole Equipage, indulged the Pleasure of a young Man
(who did not think ill of his own Person) in taking that publick
Occasion of shewing my Figure and Behaviour to Advantage. You may
easily imagine to your self what Appearance I made, who am pretty
tall, rid well, and was very well dressed, at the Head of a whole
County, with Musick before me, a Feather in my Hat, and my Horse well
bitted. I can assure you I was not a little pleased with the kind
Looks and Glances I had from all the Balconies and Windows, as I rode
to the Hall where the Assizes were held. But when I came there, a
beautiful Creature in a Widow's Habit sat in Court, to hear the Event
of a Cause concerning her Dower. This commanding Creature (who was
born for Destruction of all who behold her) put on such a Resignation
in her Countenance, and bore the Whispers of all around the Court with
such a pretty Uneasiness, I warrant you, and then recovered her self
from one Eye to another, till she was perfectly confused by meeting
something so wistful in all she encountered, that at last, with a
Murrain to her, she cast her bewitching Eye upon me. I no sooner met
it, but I bowed like a great surprized Booby; and knowing her Cause to
be the first which came on, I cried, like a captivated Calf as I was,
Make Way for the Defendant's Witnesses. This sudden Partiality made
all the County immediately see the Sheriff also was become a Slave to
the fine Widow. During the Time her Cause was upon Trial, she behaved
her self, I warrant you, with such a deep Attention to her Business,
took Opportunities to have little Billets handed to her Counsel, then
would be in such a pretty Confusion, occasioned, you must know, by
acting before so much Company, that not only I but the whole Court was
prejudiced in her Favour; and all that the next Heir to her Husband
had to urge, was thought so groundless and frivolous, that when it
came to her Counsel to reply, there was not half so much said as every
one besides in the Court thought he could have urged to her Advantage.
You must understand, Sir, this perverse Woman is one of those
unaccountable Creatures that secretly rejoyce in the Admiration of
Men, but indulge themselves in no further Consequences. Hence it is
that she has ever had a Train of Admirers, and she removes from her
Slaves in town to those in the Country, according to the Seasons of
the Year. She is a reading Lady, and far gone in the Pleasures of
Friendship: She is always accompanied by a Confident, who is Witness
to her daily Protestations against our Sex, and consequently a Bar to
her first Steps towards Love, upon the Strength of her own Maxims and

However, I must needs say this accomplished Mistress of mine has
distinguished me above the rest, and has been known to declare Sir
Roger de Coverley was the tamest and most human of all the Brutes in
the Country. I was told she said so by one who thought he rallied me;
but upon the Strength of this Slender Encouragement of being thought
least detestable, I made new Liveries, new paired my Coach-Horses,
sent them all to Town to be bitted, and taught to throw their Legs
well, and move altogether, before I pretended to cross the Country and
wait upon her. As soon as I thought my Retinue suitable to the
Character of my Fortune and Youth, I set out from hence to make my
Addresses. The particular Skill of this Lady has ever been to inflame
your Wishes, and yet command Respect. To make her Mistress of this
Art, she has a greater Share of Knowledge, Wit, and good Sense, than
is usual even among Men of Merit. Then she is beautiful beyond the
Race of Women. If you won't let her go on with a certain Artifice with
her Eyes, and the Skill of Beauty, she will arm her self with her real
Charms, and strike you with Admiration instead of Desire. It is
certain that if you were to behold the whole Woman, there is that
Dignity in her Aspect, that Composure in her Motion, that Complacency
in her Manner, that if her Form makes you hope, her Merit makes you
fear. But then again, she is such a desperate Scholar, that no
Country-Gentleman can approach her without being a Jest. As I was
going to tell you, when I came to her House I was admitted to her
Presence with great Civility; at the same Time she placed her self to
be first seen by me in such an Attitude, as I think you call the
Posture of a Picture, that she discovered new Charms, and I at last
came towards her with such an Awe as made me speechless. This she no
sooner observed but she made her Advantage of it, and began a
Discourse to me concerning Love and Honour, as they both are followed
by Pretenders, and the real Votaries to them. When she discussed these
Points in a Discourse, which I verily believe was as learned as the
best Philosopher in _Europe_ could possibly make, she asked me whether
she was so happy as to fall in with my Sentiments on these important
Particulars. Her Confident sat by her, and upon my being in the last
Confusion and Silence, this malicious Aide of hers turning to her
says, I am very glad to observe Sir Roger pauses upon this Subject,
and seems resolved to deliver all his Sentiments upon the Matter when
he pleases to speak. They both kept their Countenances, and after I
had sat half an Hour meditating how to behave before such profound
Casuists, I rose up and took my Leave. Chance has since that Time
thrown me very often in her Way, and she as often has directed a
Discourse to me which I do not understand. This Barbarity has kept me
ever at a Distance from the most beautiful Object my Eyes ever beheld.
It is thus also she deals with all Mankind, and you must make Love to
her, as you would conquer the Sphinx, by posing her. But were she like
other Women, and that there were any talking to her, how constant must
the Pleasure of that Man be, who could converse with a Creature----
But, after all, you may be sure her Heart is fixed on some one or
other; and yet I have been credibly informed; but who can believe half
that is said! After she had done speaking to me, she put her Hand to
her Bosom and adjusted her Tucker. Then she cast her Eyes a little
down, upon my beholding her too earnestly. They say she sings
excellently: Her Voice in her ordinary Speech has something in it
inexpressibly sweet. You must know I dined with her at a publick Table
the day after I first saw her, and she helped me to some Tansy in the
Eye of all the Gentlemen in the Country: She has certainly the finest
Hand of any Woman in the World. I can assure you, Sir, were you to
behold her, you would be in the same Condition; for as her Speech is
Musick, her form is Angelick. But I find I grow irregular while I am
talking of her; but indeed it would be Stupidity to be unconcerned at
such Perfection. Oh the excellent Creature, she is as inimitable to
all Women, as she is inaccessible to all Men!"

I found my Friend begin to rave, and insensibly led him towards the
House, that we might be joined by some other Company; and am convinced
that the Widow is the secret Cause of all that Inconsistency which
appears in some Parts of my Friend's Discourse; tho' he has so much
Command of himself as not directly to mention her, yet according to
that of _Martial_, which one knows not how to render into _English_,
_Dum tacet hanc loquitur._ I shall end this Paper with that whole
Epigram, which represents with much Humour my honest Friend's

    _Quicquid agit Rufus, nihil est nisi Nævia Rufo:
      Si gaudet, si flet, si tacet, hanc loquitur:
    Cænat, propinat, poscit, negat, annuit, una est
      Nævia: si non sit Nævia, mutus erit.
    Scriberet hesterna patri cum luce salutem,
      Nævia lux, inquit, Nævia numen, ave._

    _Let Rufus weep, rejoice, stand, sit, or walk,
    Still he can nothing but of Nævia talk;
    Let him eat, drink, ask Questions, or dispute,
    Still he must speak of_ Nævia _or be mute.
    He writ to his Father, ending with this Line,
    I am, my Lovely_ Nævia, _ever thine_.



Bodily Labour is of two kinds, either that which a Man submits to for
his Livelihood, or that which he undergoes for his Pleasure. The
latter of them generally changes the Name of Labour for that of
Exercise, but differs only from ordinary Labour as it rises from
another Motive.

A Country Life abounds in both these kinds of Labour, and for that
Reason gives a Man a greater Stock of Health and consequently a more
perfect Enjoyment of himself, than any other way of Life. I consider
the Body as a System of Tubes and Glands, or to use a more Rustick
Phrase, a Bundle of Pipes and Strainers, fitted to one another after
so wonderful a manner as to make a proper Engine for the Soul to work
with. This Description does not only comprehend the Bowels, Bones,
Tendons, Veins, Nerves and Arteries, but every Muscle and every
Ligature, which is a Composition of Fibres, that are so many
imperceptible Tubes or Pipes interwoven on all sides with invisible
Glands or Strainers.

This general Idea of a Human Body, without considering it in its
Niceties of Anatomy, lets us see how absolutely necessary Labour is
for the right Preservation of it. There must be frequent Motions and
Agitations, to mix, digest, and separate the Juices contained in it,
as well as to clear and cleanse that Infinitude of Pipes and Strainers
of which it is composed, and to give their solid Parts a more firm and
lasting Tone. Labour or Exercise ferments the Humours, casts them into
their proper Channels, throws off Redundancies, and helps Nature in
those secret Distributions, without which the body cannot subsist in
its Vigour, nor the Soul act with Chearfulness.

I might here mention the Effects which this has upon all the Faculties
of the Mind, by keeping the Understanding clear, the Imagination
untroubled, and refining those Spirits that are necessary for the
proper Exertion of our intellectual Faculties, during the present Laws
of Union between Soul and Body. It is to a Neglect in this Particular
that we must ascribe the Spleen, which is so frequent in Men of
studious and sedentary Tempers, as well as the Vapours to which those
of the other Sex are so often subject.

Had not Exercise been absolutely necessary for our Well-being, Nature
would not have made the Body so proper for it, by giving such an
Activity to the Limbs, and such a Pliancy to every Part as necessarily
produce those Compressions, Extensions, Contortions, Dilatations, and
all other kinds of Motions that are necessary for the Preservation of
such a System of Tubes and Glands as has been before mentioned. And
that we might not want Inducements to engage us in such an Exercise of
the Body as is proper for its Welfare, it is so ordered that nothing
valuable can be procured without it. Not to mention Riches and Honour,
even Food and Raiment are not to be come at without the Toil of the
Hands and Sweat of the Brows. Providence furnishes Materials, but
expects that we should work them up our selves. The Earth must be
laboured before it gives its Encrease, and when it is forced into its
several Products, how many Hands must they pass through before they
are fit for Use? Manufactures, Trade, and Agriculture, naturally
employ more than nineteen Parts of the Species in twenty; and as for
those who are not obliged to Labour, by the Condition in which they
are born, they are more miserable than the rest of Mankind, unless
they indulge themselves in that voluntary Labour which goes by the
Name of Exercise.

My Friend Sir ROGER has been an indefatigable Man in Business of this
kind, and has hung several Parts of his House with the Trophies of his
former Labours. The Walls of his great Hall are covered with the Horns
of several kinds of Deer that he has killed in the Chace, which he
thinks the most valuable Furniture of his House, as they afford him
frequent Topicks of Discourse, and shew that he has not been Idle. At
the lower end of the Hall, is a large Otter's Skin stuffed with Hay,
which his Mother ordered to be hung up in that manner, and the Knight
looks upon with great Satisfaction, because it seems he was but nine
Years old when his Dog killed him. A little Room adjoining to the Hall
is a kind of Arsenal filled with Guns of several Sizes and Inventions,
with which the Knight has made great Havock in the Woods, and
destroyed many thousands of Pheasants, Partridges and Wood-Cocks. His
Stable Doors are patched with Noses that belonged to Foxes of the
Knight's own hunting down. Sir Roger showed me one of them that for
Distinction sake has a Brass Nail stuck through it, which cost him
about fifteen Hours riding, carried him through half a dozen Counties,
killed him a brace of Geldings, and lost above half his Dogs. This the
Knight looks upon as one of the greatest Exploits of his Life. The
perverse Widow, whom I have given some account of, was the Death of
several Foxes; For Sir Roger has told me that in the Course of his
Amours he patched the Western Door of his Stable. Whenever the Widow
was cruel, the Foxes were sure to pay for it. In proportion as his
Passion for the Widow abated, and old Age came on, he left off
Fox-hunting; but a Hare is not yet safe that sits within ten Miles of
his House.

There is no kind of Exercise which I would so recommend to my Readers
of both Sexes as this of Riding, as there is none which so much
conduces to Health, and is every way accommodated to the body,
according to the _Idea_ which I have given of it. Doctor _Sydenham_ is
very lavish in its Praises; and if the _English_ Reader would see the
Mechanical Effects of it described at length, he may find them in a
Book published not many Years since, under the Title of _Medicina
Gymnastica_. For my own part, when I am in Town, for want of these
opportunities, I exercise my self an Hour every Morning, upon a dumb
Bell that is placed in a Corner of my Room, and pleases me the more
because it does everything I require of it in the most profound
Silence. My Landlady and her Daughters are so well acquainted with my
Hours of Exercise, that they never come into my Room to disturb me
whilst I am ringing.

When I was some Years younger than I am at present, I used to employ
my self in a more laborious Diversion, which I learned from a _Latin_
Treatise of Exercises that is written with great Erudition: It is
there called the [Greek: skiomachai], or the Fighting with a Man's own
Shadow; and consists in the brandishing of two short Sticks grasped in
each Hand, and Loaden with Plugs of Lead at either end. This opens the
Chest, exercises the Limbs, and gives a Man all the Pleasure of
Boxing, without the Blows. I could wish that several Learned Men would
lay out that Time which they employ in Controversies and Disputes
about nothing, in _this method_ of fighting with their own Shadows. It
might conduce very much to evaporate the Spleen, which makes them
uneasy to the Publick as well as to themselves.

To conclude, As I am a Compound of Soul and Body, I consider my self
as obliged to a double Scheme of Duties; and think I have not
fulfilled the Business of the Day, when I do not thus employ the one
in Labour and Exercise, as well as the other in Study and



A man's first Care should be to avoid the Reproaches of his own Heart;
his next, to escape the Censures of the World: If the last interferes
with the former, it ought to be entirely neglected; but otherwise,
there cannot be a greater Satisfaction to an honest Mind, than to see
those Approbations which it gives itself seconded by the Applauses of
the Publick: A Man is more sure of his Conduct, when the Verdict which
he passes upon his own Behaviour is thus warranted, and confirmed by
the Opinion of all that know him.

My worthy Friend Sir ROGER is one of those who is not only at Peace
within himself, but beloved and esteemed by all about him. He receives
a suitable Tribute for his universal Benevolence to mankind, in the
Returns of Affection and Good-will, which are paid him by every one
that lives within his Neighbourhood. I lately met with two or three
odd Instances of that general Respect which is shewn to the good old
Knight. He would needs carry _Will. Wimble_ and myself with him to the
County-Assizes: As we were upon the Road _Will. Wimble_ joined a
couple of plain Men who rid before us, and conversed with them for
some Time; during which my Friend Sir Roger acquainted me with their

The first of them, says he, that has a spaniel by his Side, is a
Yeoman of about an hundred Pounds a Year, an honest Man: He is just
within the Game-Act, and qualified to kill an Hare or a Pheasant: He
knocks down a Dinner with his Gun twice or thrice a Week; and by that
Means lives much cheaper than those who have not so good an Estate as
himself. He would be a good Neighbour if he did not destroy so many
Partridges: in short, he is a very sensible Man; shoots flying; and
has been several Times Foreman of the Petty-jury.

The other that rides along with him is _Tom Touchy_, a Fellow famous
for _taking the Law_ of every Body. There is not one in the Town where
he lives that he has not sued at a Quarter-Sessions. The Rogue had
once the Impudence to go to Law with the _Widow_. His head is full of
Costs, Damages, and Ejectments: He plagued a couple of honest
Gentlemen so long for a Trespass in breaking one of his Hedges, till
he was forced to sell the Ground it enclosed to defray the Charges of
the Prosecution: His Father left him fourscore Pounds a Year; but he
has _cast_ and been cast so often, that he is not now worth thirty. I
suppose he is going upon the old Business of the Willow-Tree.

As Sir Roger was giving me this Account of _Tom Touchy_, _Will.
Wimble_ and his two Companions stopped short till we came up to them.
After having paid their Respects to Sir Roger, _Will._ told him that
Mr. _Touchy_ and he must appeal to him upon a Dispute that arose
between them. _Will._ it seems had been giving his Fellow Traveller an
Account of his Angling one Day in such a Hole; when _Tom Touchy_,
instead of hearing out his Story, told him, that Mr. such an One, if
he pleased, might _take the law of him_ for fishing in that Part of
the River. My Friend Sir Roger heard them both, upon a round Trot; and
after having paused some Time told them, with the Air of a Man who
would not give his Judgment rashly, that _much might be said on both
Sides_. They were neither of them dissatisfied with the Knight's
Determination, because neither of them found himself in the Wrong by
it: Upon which we made the best of our Way to the Assizes.

The Court was sat before Sir Roger came, but notwithstanding all the
Justices had taken their Places upon the Bench, they made Room for the
old Knight at the Head of them; who for his Reputation in the Country
took Occasion to whisper in the Judge's Ear, That _he was glad his
Lordship had met with so much good Weather in his Circuit_. I was
listening to the Proceedings of the Court with much Attention, and
infinitely pleased with that great Appearance and Solemnity which so
properly accompanies such a publick Administration of our Laws; when,
after about an Hour's Sitting, I observed to my great Surprize, in the
midst of a Trial, that my Friend Sir Roger was getting up to speak. I
was in some Pain for him, till I found he had acquitted himself of two
or three Sentences, with a Look of much Business and great

Upon his first Rising the Court was hushed, and a general Whisper ran
among the Country-People that Sir Roger _was up_. The Speech he made
was so little to the Purpose, that I shall not trouble my Readers with
an account of it; and I believe was not so much designed by the Knight
himself to inform the Court, as to give him a Figure in my Eye, and
keep up his Credit in the Country.

I was highly delighted, when the Court rose, to see the Gentlemen of
the Country gathering about my old Friend, and striving who should
compliment him most; at the same Time that the ordinary People gazed
upon him at a Distance, not a little admiring his Courage, that was
not afraid to speak to the Judge.

In our Return home we met with a very odd Accident; which I cannot
forbear relating, because it shews how desirous all who know Sir Roger
are of giving him Marks of their Esteem. When we were arrived upon the
Verge of his Estate, we stopped at a little Inn to rest our selves and
our Horses. The Man of the House had it seems been formerly a Servant
in the Knight's Family; and to do Honour to his old Master, had some
Time since, unknown to Sir Roger, put him up in a Sign-post before the
Door; so that the _Knight's Head_ had hung out upon the Road about a
Week before he himself knew anything of the Matter. As soon as Sir
Roger was acquainted with it, finding that his Servant's Indiscretion
proceeded wholly from Affection and Good-will, he only told him that
he had made him too high a Compliment; and when the Fellow seemed to
think that could hardly be, added with a more decisive Look, That it
was too great an Honour for any Man under a Duke; but told him at the
same time that it might be altered with a very few Touches, and that
he himself would be at the Charge of it. Accordingly they got a
Painter by the Knight's Directions to add a pair of Whiskers to the
Face, and by a little Aggravation of the Features to change it into
the _Saracen's Head_. I should not have known this Story, had not the
Inn-keeper upon Sir Roger's alighting told him in my Hearing, That his
Honour's head was brought back last Night with the alterations that he
had ordered to be made in it. Upon this my Friend with his usual
Chearfulness related the Particulars above-mentioned, and ordered the
Head to be brought into the Room. I could not forbear discovering
greater Expressions of Mirth than ordinary upon the Appearance of this
monstrous Face, under which, notwithstanding it was made to frown and
stare in a most extraordinary Manner, I could still discover a distant
Resemblance of my old Friend. Sir Roger, upon seeing me laugh, desired
me to tell him truly if I thought it possible for people to know him
in that Disguise. I at first kept my usual Silence; but upon the
Knight's conjuring me to tell him whether it was not still more like
himself than a _Saracen_, I composed my Countenance in the best Manner
I could, and replied, _That much might be said on both Sides._

These several Adventures, with the Knight's Behaviour in them, gave me
as pleasant a Day as ever I met with in any of my Travels.



As I was Yesterday riding out in the Fields with my Friend Sir ROGER,
we saw at a little Distance from us a Troop of Gypsies. Upon the first
Discovery of them, my Friend was in some Doubt whether he should not
exert the _Justice of the Peace_ upon such a Band of lawless Vagrants;
but not having his Clerk with him, who is a necessary Counsellor on
these Occasions, and fearing that his Poultry might fare the worse for
it, he let the Thought drop: But at the same Time gave me a particular
Account of the Mischiefs they do in the Country, in stealing People's
Goods and spoiling their Servants. If a stray Piece of Linen hangs
upon an Hedge, says Sir Roger, they are sure to have it; if a Hog
loses his Way in the Fields, it is ten to one but he becomes their
Prey; our Geese cannot live in Peace for them; if a Man prosecutes
them with Severity, his Hen-roost is sure to pay for it: They
generally straggle into these Parts about this Time of the Year; and
set the Heads of our Servant-Maids so agog for Husbands, that we do
not expect to have any Business done, as it should be, whilst they are
in the Country. I have an honest Dairy-Maid who crosses their Hands
with a Piece of Silver every Summer, and never fails being promised
the handsomest young Fellow in the Parish for her Pains. Your Friend
the Butler has been Fool enough to be seduced by them; and though he
is sure to lose a Knife, a Fork, or a Spoon every Time his Fortune is
told him, generally shuts himself up in the Pantry with an old Gypsie
for about half an Hour once in a Twelvemonth. Sweet-hearts are the
things they live upon, which they bestow very plentifully upon all
those that apply themselves to them. You see now and then some
handsome young Jades among them: The Sluts have often very white Teeth
and black Eyes.

Sir Roger observing that I listened with great Attention to his
Account of a People who were so entirely new to me, told me, That if I
would they should tell us our Fortunes. As I was very well pleased
with the Knight's Proposal, we rid up and communicated our Hands to
them. A _Cassandra_ of the Crew, after having examined my Lines very
diligently, told me, That I loved a pretty Maid in a Corner, that I
was a good Woman's Man, with some other Particulars which I do not
think proper to relate. My Friend Sir Roger alighted from his Horse,
and exposing his Palm to two or three that stood by him, they crumpled
it into all Shapes, and diligently scanned every Wrinkle that could be
made in it; when one of them who was older and more Sun-burnt than the
rest, told him, That he had a Widow in his Line of Life: Upon which
the Knight cried, Go, go, you are an idle Baggage, and at the same
time smiled upon me. The Gypsie finding he was not displeased in his
Heart, told him, after a further Enquiry into his Hand, that his
True-love was constant, and that she should dream of him to Night. My
old Friend cryed pish, and bid her go on. The Gypsie told him that he
was a Batchelour, but would not be so long; and that he was dearer to
some Body than he thought: the Knight still repeated, She was an idle
Baggage, and bid her go on. Ah Master, says the Gypsie, that roguish
Leer of yours makes a pretty Woman's Heart ake; you ha'n't that Simper
about the Mouth for Nothing---- The uncouth Gibberish with which all
this was uttered, like the Darkness of an Oracle, made us the more
attentive to it. To be short, the Knight left the Money with her that
he had crossed her Hand with, and got up again on his Horse.

As we were riding away, Sir Roger told me, that he knew several
sensible People who believed these Gypsies now and then foretold very
strange things; and for Half an Hour together appeared more jocund
than ordinary. In the Height of his good Humour, meeting a common
Beggar upon the Road who was no Conjuror, as he went to relieve him he
found his Pocket was pickt: That being a Kind of Palmistry at which
this Race of Vermin are very dexterous.

I might here entertain my Reader with Historical Remarks on this idle
profligate People, who infest all the Countries of _Europe_, and live
in the Midst of Governments in a kind of Commonwealth by themselves.
But instead of entering into Observations of this Nature, I shall fill
the remaining part of my Paper with a Story which is still fresh in
_Holland_, and was printed in one of our Monthly Accounts about twenty
Years ago. "As the _Trekschuyt_, or Hackney-boat, which carries
Passengers from _Leiden_ to _Amsterdam_, was putting off, a Boy
running along the Side of the Canal, desir'd to be taken in; which the
Master of the Boat refused, because the Lad had not quite Money enough
to pay the usual Fare. An eminent Merchant being pleased with the
Looks of the Boy, and secretly touched with Compassion towards him,
paid the Money for him, and ordered him to be taken on board. Upon
talking with him afterwards, he found that he could speak readily in
three or four Languages, and learned upon further Examination that he
had been stolen away when he was a Child by a Gypsy, and had rambled
ever since with a gang of those Strolers up and down several Parts of
_Europe_. It happened that the Merchant, whose heart seems to have
inclined towards the Boy by a secret kind of Instinct, had himself
lost a Child some Years before. The Parents, after a long Search for
him, gave him for drowned in one of the Canals with which that Country
abounds; and the Mother was so afflicted at the Loss of a fine Boy,
who was her only Son, that she died for Grief of it. Upon laying
together all Particulars, and examining the several Moles and Marks by
which the Mother used to describe the Child when he was first missing,
the Boy proved to be the Son of the Merchant, whose Heart had so
unaccountably melted at the Sight of him. The Lad was very well
pleased to find a Father, who was so rich, and likely to leave him a
good Estate; the Father, on the other Hand, was not a little delighted
to see a Son return to him, whom he had given for lost, with such a
Strength of Constitution, Sharpness of Understanding, and skill in
Languages." Here the printed Story leaves off; but if I may give
credit to Reports, our Linguist having received such extraordinary
Rudiments towards a good Education, was afterwards trained up in every
thing that becomes a Gentleman; wearing off by little and little all
the vicious Habits and Practices that he had been used to in the
Course of his Peregrinations: Nay, it is said, that he has since been
employed in foreign Courts upon National Business, with great
Reputation to himself and Honour to those who sent him, and that he
has visited several Countries as a publick Minister, in which he
formerly wandered as a Gypsy.



There are some Opinions in which a Man should stand Neuter, without
engaging his Assent to one side or the other. Such a hovering Faith as
this, which refuses to settle upon any Determination, is absolutely
necessary in a Mind that is careful to avoid Errors and
Prepossessions. When the Arguments press equally on both sides in
Matters that are indifferent to us, the safest Method is to give up
ourselves to neither.

It is with this Temper of Mind that I consider the Subject of
Witchcraft. When I hear the Relations that are made from all Parts of
the World, not only from _Norway_ and _Lapland_, from the _East_ and
_West Indies_, but from every particular Nation in _Europe_, I cannot
forbear thinking that there is such an Intercourse and Commerce with
Evil Spirits, as that which we express by the Name of Witchcraft. But
when I consider that the ignorant and credulous Parts of the World
abound most in these Relations, and that the Persons among us who are
supposed to engage in such an Infernal Commerce are People of a weak
Understanding and crazed Imagination, and at the same time reflect
upon the many Impostures and Delusions of this Nature that have been
detected in all Ages, I endeavour to suspend my Belief till I hear
more certain Accounts than any which have yet come to my Knowledge. In
short, when I consider the Question, Whether there are such Persons in
the World as those we call Witches? my Mind is divided between the two
opposite Opinions; or rather (to speak my Thoughts freely) I believe
in general that there is, and has been such a thing as Witchcraft; but
at the same time can give no Credit to any Particular Instance of it.

I am engaged in this Speculation, by some Occurrences that I met with
Yesterday, which I shall give my Reader an Account of at large. As I
was walking with my Friend Sir ROGER by the side of one of his Woods,
an old Woman applied her self to me for my Charity. Her Dress and
Figure put me in mind of the following Description in _Otway_.

      _In a close Lane as I pursu'd my Journey,
    I spy'd a wrinkled_ Hag, _with Age grown double,
    Picking dry Sticks, and mumbling to her self.
    Her Eyes with scalding Rheum were gall'd and red;
    Cold Palsy shook her Head: her Hands seem'd wither'd;
    And on her crooked Shoulders had she wrapp'd
    The tatter'd Remnants of an old striped Hanging,
    Which serv'd to keep her Carcass from the Cold:
    So there was nothing of a-piece about her.
    Her lower Weeds were all o'er coarsely patch'd
    With diff'rent-colour'd Rags, black, red, while, yellow,
    And seem'd to speak Variety of Wretchedness._

As I was musing on this Description, and comparing it with the Object
before me, the Knight told me, that this very old Woman had the
Reputation of a Witch all over the Country, that her Lips were
observed to be always in Motion, and that there was not a Switch about
her House which her Neighbours did not believe had carried her several
hundreds of Miles. If she chanced to stumble, they always found Sticks
or Straws that lay in the Figure of a Cross before her. If she made
any Mistake at Church, and cryed _Amen_ in a wrong Place, they never
failed to conclude that she was saying her Prayers backwards. There
was not a Maid in the Parish that would take a Pin of her, though she
should offer a Bag of Money with it. She goes by the name of _Moll
White_, and has made the Country ring with several imaginary Exploits
which are palmed upon her. If the Dairy Maid does not make her Butter
come so soon as she would have it, _Moll White_ is at the bottom of
the Churn. If a Horse sweats in the Stable, _Moll White_ has been upon
his Back. If a Hare makes an unexpected Escape from the Hounds, the
Huntsman curses _Moll White_. Nay, (says Sir Roger) I have known the
Master of the Pack, upon such an Occasion, send one of his Servants to
see if _Moll White_ had been out that Morning.

This Account raised my Curiosity so far, that I begged my Friend Sir
Roger to go with me into her Hovel, which stood in a solitary Corner
under the side of the Wood. Upon our first entring Sir Roger winked to
me, and pointed at something that stood behind the Door, which upon
looking that way I found to be an old Broomstaff. At the same time he
whispered me in the Ear to take notice of a Tabby Cat that sat in the
Chimney-Corner, which, as the old Knight told me, lay under as bad a
Report as _Moll White_ her self; for besides that _Moll_ is said often
to accompany her in the same Shape, the Cat is reported to have spoken
twice or thrice in her Life, and to have played several Pranks above
the Capacity of an ordinary Cat.

I was secretly concerned to see Human Nature in so much Wretchedness
and Disgrace, but at the same time could not forbear smiling to hear
Sir Roger, who is a little puzzled about the old Woman, advising her
as a Justice of the Peace to avoid all Communication with the Devil,
and never to hurt any of her Neighbours' Cattle. We concluded our
Visit with a Bounty, which was very acceptable.

In our Return home Sir Roger told me, that old _Moll_ had been often
brought before him for making Children spit Pins, and giving Maids the
Night-Mare; and that the Country People would be tossing her into a
Pond and trying Experiments with her every Day, if it was not for him
and his Chaplain.

I have since found, upon Enquiry, that Sir Roger was several times
staggered with the Reports that had been brought him concerning this
old Woman, and would frequently have bound her over to the County
Sessions, had not his Chaplain with much ado perswaded him to the

I have been the more particular in this Account, because I hear there
is scarce a Village in _England_ that has not a _Moll White_ in it.
When an old Woman begins to doat, and grow chargeable to a Parish, she
is generally turned into a Witch, and fills the whole Country with
extravagant Fancies, imaginary Distempers, and terrifying Dreams. In
the meantime the poor Wretch that is the innocent Occasion of so many
Evils begins to be frighted at her self, and sometimes confesses
secret Commerce and Familiarities that her Imagination forms in a
delirious old Age. This frequently cuts off Charity from the greatest
Objects of Compassion, and inspires People with a Malevolence towards
those poor decrepid Parts of our Species, in whom Human Nature is
defaced by Infirmity and Dotage.



My Friend Sir ROGER DE COVERLEY told me t'other Night, that he had
been reading my Paper upon _Westminster-Abbey_, in which, says he,
there are a great many ingenious Fancies. He told me at the same Time,
that he observed I had promised another Paper upon _the Tombs_, and
that he should be glad to go and see them with me, not having visited
them since he had read History. I could not at first imagine how this
came into the Knight's Head, till I recollected that he had been very
busy all last Summer upon _Baker's_ Chronicle, which he has quoted
several Times in his Disputes with Sir ANDREW FREEPORT since his last
coming to Town. Accordingly I promised to call upon him the next
Morning, that we might go together to the _Abbey_.

I found the Knight under his Butler's Hands, who always shaves him. He
was no sooner dressed, than he called for a Glass of the Widow
_Trueby's_ Water, which he told me he always drank before he went
abroad. He recommended to me a Dram of it at the same Time, with so
much Heartiness, that I could not forbear drinking it. As soon as I
had got it down I found it very unpalatable, upon which the Knight
observing that I had made several wry Faces, told me that he knew I
should not like it at first, but that it was the best Thing in the
World against the Stone or Gravel.

I could have wished indeed that he had acquainted me with the Virtues
of it sooner; but it was too late to complain, and I knew what he had
done was out of Good-will. Sir Roger told me further, that he looked
upon it to be very good for a Man whilst he staid in Town, to keep off
Infection, and that he got together a Quantity of it upon the first
News of the Sickness being at _Dantzick_: When of a sudden turning
short to one of his Servants, who stood behind him, he bid him call an
Hackney-Coach, and take Care it was an elderly Man that drove it.

He then resumed his Discourse upon Mrs. _Trueby's_ Water, telling me
that the Widow _Trueby_ was one who did more Good than all the Doctors
and Apothecaries in the County: That she distilled every poppy that
grew within five Miles of her, that she distributed her Water _gratis_
among all sorts of People; to which the Knight added, that she had a
very great Jointure, and that the whole Country would fain have it a
Match between him and her; and truly, says Sir Roger, if I had not
been engaged, perhaps I could not have done better.

His Discourse was broken off by his Man's telling him he had called a
Coach. Upon our going to it, after having cast his Eye upon the
Wheels, he asked the Coachman if his Axle-tree was good; upon the
Fellow's telling him he would warrant it, the Knight turned to me,
told me he looked like an honest Man, and went in without further

We had not gone far, when Sir Roger popping out his Head, called the
Coachman down from his Box, and upon his presenting himself at the
Window, asked him if he smoaked; as I was considering what this would
end in, he bid him stop by the Way at any good Tobacconist's, and take
in a Roll of their best _Virginia_. Nothing material happen'd in the
remaining Part of our Journey, till we were set down at the West-End
of the _Abbey_.

As we went up the Body of the Church, the Knight pointed at the
Trophies upon one of the new Monuments, and cry'd out, A brave Man I
warrant him. Passing afterwards by Sir _Cloudsly Shovel_, he flung his
Hand that Way, and cry'd Sir _Cloudsly Shovel!_ a very gallant Man! As
we stood before _Busby's_ Tomb, the Knight utter'd himself again after
the same Manner, Dr. _Busby_, a great Man, he whipp'd my Grandfather,
a very great Man. I should have gone to him my self, if I had not been
a Blockhead, a very great Man!

We were immediately conducted into the little Chappel on the Right
Hand. Sir Roger planting himself at our Historian's Elbow, was very
attentive to every Thing he said, particularly to the Account he gave
us of the Lord who had cut off the King of _Morocco's_ Head. Among
several other Figures, he was very pleased to see the Statesman
_Cecil_ upon his Knees; and, concluding them all to be great Men, was
conducted to the Figure which represents that Martyr to good
Housewifry, who died by the Prick of a Needle. Upon our Interpreter's
telling us, that she was a Maid of Honour to Queen _Elizabeth_, the
Knight was very inquisitive into her Name and Family, and, after
having regarded her Finger for some Time, I wonder, says he, that Sir
_Richard Baker_ has said Nothing of her in his Chronicle.

We were then convey'd to the two Coronation Chairs, where my old
Friend, after having heard that the Stone underneath the most ancient
of them, which was brought from _Scotland_, was called _Jacob's
Pillar_, sat himself down in the Chair, and looking like the Figure of
an old _Gothic_ King, asked our Interpreter, What authority they had
to say, that _Jacob_ had ever been in _Scotland_? The Fellow, instead
of returning him an Answer, told him, that he hoped his Honour would
pay his Forfeit. I could observe Sir Roger a little ruffled upon being
thus trapanned; but our Guide not insisting upon his Demand, the
Knight soon recovered his good Humour, and whispered in my Ear, that
if WILL. WIMBLE were with us, and saw those two Chairs, it would go
hard but he would get a Tobacco-Stopper out of one or t'other of them.

Sir Roger, in the next Place, laid his Hand upon _Edward_ III's Sword,
and leaning upon the Pommel of it, gave us the whole History of the
_Black Prince_; concluding, that in Sir _Richard Baker's_ Opinion,
_Edward_ the Third was one of the greatest Princes that ever sate upon
the _English_ Throne.

We were then shewn _Edward_ the Confessor's Tomb; upon which Sir Roger
acquainted us, that he was the first who touched for the Evil; and
afterwards _Henry_ the Fourth's, upon which he shook his Head, and
told us, there was fine Reading in the Casualties of that Reign.

Our Conductor then pointed to that Monument, where there is the Figure
of one of our _English_ Kings without an Head; and upon giving us to
know, that the Head, which was of beaten Silver, had been stolen away
several Years since: Some Whig, I warrant you, says Sir Roger; You
ought to lock up your Kings better: They will carry off the Body too,
if you don't take Care.

The glorious Names of _Henry_ the Fifth and Queen _Elizabeth_ gave the
Knight great Opportunities of shining, and of doing Justice to Sir
_Richard Baker_, who, as our Knight observed with some surprize, had a
great many Kings in him, whose Monuments he had not seen in the Abbey.

For my own Part, I could not but be pleased to see the Knight shew
such an honest Passion for the Glory of his Country, and such a
respectful Gratitude to the Memory of its Princes.

I must not omit, that the Benevolence of my good old Friend, which
flows out towards every one he converses with, made him very kind to
our Interpreter, whom he looked upon as an extraordinary Man; for
which Reason he shook him by the Hand at Parting, telling him, that he
should be very glad to see him at his Lodgings in _Norfolk-Buildings_,
and talk over these Matters with him more at Leisure.



My Friend Sir ROGER DE COVERLEY, when we last met together at the
Club, told me that he had a great mind to see the new Tragedy with me,
assuring me at the same Time, that he had not been at a Play these
twenty Years. The last I saw, says Sir Roger, was the _Committee_,
which I should not have gone to neither, had I not been told
before-hand that it was a good Church of _England_ Comedy. He then
proceeded to enquire of me who this Distress'd Mother was, and upon
hearing that she was _Hector's_ Widow, he told me, that her Husband
was a brave Man, and that when he was a School-Boy, he had read his
Life at the end of the Dictionary. My Friend asked me, in the next
Place, if there would not be some Danger in coming home late, in case
the _Mohocks_ should be abroad. I assure you, says he, I thought I had
fallen into their hands last Night, for I observ'd two or three lusty
black Men that followed me half way up _Fleet-street_, and mended
their Pace behind me, in Proportion as I put on to get away from them.
You must know, continued the Knight with a Smile, I fancied they had a
mind to _hunt_ me; for I remember an honest Gentleman in my
Neighbourhood, who was serv'd such a Trick in King _Charles_ the
Second's Time; for which Reason he has not ventured himself in Town
ever since. I might have shown them very good Sport, had this been
their Design, for as I am an old Fox-hunter, I should have turned and
dodged, and have play'd them a thousand Tricks they had never seen in
their Lives before. Sir Roger added, that if these Gentlemen had any
such Intention, they did not succeed very well in it; for I threw them
out, says he, at the End of _Norfolk-street_, where I doubled the
Corner, and got Shelter in my Lodgings before they could imagine what
was become of me. However, says the Knight, if Captain SENTRY will
make one with us to Morrow Night, and if you will both of you call
upon me about Four a-Clock, that we may be at the House before it is
full, I will have my own Coach in Readiness to attend you, for _John_
tells me he has got the Fore-Wheels mended.

The Captain, who did not fail to meet me there at the appointed Hour,
bid Sir Roger fear nothing, for that he had put on the same Sword
which he made use of at the Battel of _Steenkirk_. Sir Roger's
Servants, and among the rest my old Friend the Butler, had, I found,
provided themselves with good oaken Plants, to attend their Master
upon this Occasion. When we had plac'd him in his Coach, with my self
at his Left hand, the Captain before him, and his Butler at the Head
of his Footmen in the Rear, we convoy'd him in Safety to the
Play-house; where, after having march'd up the Entry in good Order,
the Captain and I went in with him, and seated him betwixt us in the
Pit. As soon as the House was full, and the Candles lighted, my old
Friend stood up and looked about him with that Pleasure, which a Mind
seasoned with Humanity naturally feels in it self, at the Sight of a
Multitude of People who seem pleased with one another, and partake of
the same common Entertainment. I could not but fancy to my self, as
the old Man stood up in the Middle of the Pit, that he made a very
proper Center to a Tragick Audience. Upon the Entring of _Pyrrhus_,
the Knight told me, that he did not believe the King of _France_
himself had a better Strut. I was indeed very attentive to my old
Friend's Remarks, because I looked upon them as a Piece of Natural
Criticism, and was well pleased to hear him at the Conclusion of
almost every Scene, telling me that he could not imagine how the Play
would end. One while he appear'd much concerned for _Andromache_; and
a little while after as much for _Hermione_; and was extremely puzzled
to think what would become of _Pyrrhus_.

When Sir Roger saw _Andromache's_ obstinate Refusal to her Lover's
Importunities, he whispered me in the Ear, that he was sure she would
never have him; to which he added, with a more than ordinary
Vehemence, You can't imagine, Sir, what 'tis to have to do with a
Widow. Upon _Pyrrhus_ his threatening afterwards to leave her, the
Knight shook his Head, and muttered to himself, Ay, do if you can.
This Part dwelt so much upon my Friend's Imagination, that at the
Close of the Third Act, as I was thinking of something else, he
whispered in my Ear, These Widows, Sir, are the most perverse
Creatures in the World. But pray, says he, you that are a Critick, is
the Play according to your Dramatick Rules, as you call them? Should
your People in Tragedy always talk to be understood? Why, there is not
a single Sentence in this Play that I do not know the Meaning of.

The Fourth Act very luckily begun before I had Time to give the old
Gentleman an Answer; Well, says the Knight, sitting down with great
Satisfaction, I suppose we are now to see _Hector's_ Ghost. He then
renewed his Attention, and, from Time to Time, fell a praising the
Widow. He made, indeed, a little Mistake as to one of her Pages, whom
at his first Entring, he took for _Astyanax_; but he quickly set
himself right in that Particular, though, at the same time, he owned
he should have been very glad to have seen the little Boy, who, says
he, must needs be a very fine Child by the Account that is given of
him. Upon _Hermione's_ going off with a menace to _Pyrrhus_, the
Audience gave a loud Clap, to which Sir Roger added, On my Word, a
notable Young Baggage.

As there was a very remarkable Silence and Stillness in the Audience
during the whole Action, it was natural for them to take the
Opportunity of these Intervals between the Acts, to express their
Opinion of the Players, and of their respective Parts. Sir Roger
hearing a Cluster of them praise _Orestes_, struck in with them, and
told them, that he thought his Friend _Pylades_ was a very sensible
Man; As they were afterwards applauding _Pyrrhus_, Sir Roger put in a
second time, And let me tell you, says he, though he speaks but
little, I like the old Fellow in Whiskers as well as any of them.
Captain Sentry, seeing two or three Waggs who sat near us lean with an
attentive Ear towards Sir Roger, and fearing lest they should smoak
the Knight, pluck'd him by the Elbow, and whispered something in his
Ear, that lasted till the Opening of the Fifth Act. The Knight was
wonderfully attentive to the Account which _Orestes_ gives of
_Pyrrhus_ his Death, and at the Conclusion of it, told me it was such
a bloody Piece of Work, that he was glad it was not done upon the
Stage. Seeing afterwards _Orestes_ in his raving Fit, he grew more
than ordinary serious, and took Occasion to moralize (in his Way) upon
an evil Conscience, adding that _Orestes, in his Madness, looked as if
he saw something_.

As we were the first that came into the House, so we were the last
that went out of it; being resolved to have a clear Passage for our
old Friend, whom we did not care to venture among the Justling of the
Crowd. Sir Roger went out fully satisfy'd with his Entertainment, and
we guarded him to his Lodgings in the same manner that we brought him
to the Play-house; being highly pleased, for my own Part, not only
with the Performance of the excellent Piece which had been presented,
but with the Satisfaction which it had given to the good old Man.



As I was sitting in my Chamber, and thinking on a Subject for my next
_Spectator_, I heard two or three irregular Bounces at my Landlady's
Door, and upon the opening of it, a loud chearful Voice enquiring
whether the Philosopher was at Home. The Child who went to the Door
answered very Innocently, that he did not lodge there. I immediately
recollected that it was my good Friend Sir ROGER's Voice: and that I
had promised to go with him on the Water to _Spring-Garden_, in case
it proved a good Evening. The Knight put me in mind of my Promise from
the Bottom of the Stair-Case, but told me that if I was Speculating he
would stay below till I had done. Upon my coming down I found all the
Children of the Family got about my old Friend, and my Landlady
herself, who is a notable prating Gossip, engaged in a Conference with
him, being mightily pleased with his stroaking her little Boy upon the
Head, and bidding him be a good Child, and mind his Book.

We were no sooner come to the _Temple_ Stairs, but we were surrounded
with a crowd of Watermen, offering us their respective Services. Sir
Roger, after having looked about him very attentively, spied one with
a Wooden-leg, and immediately gave him Orders to get his Boat ready.
As we were walking towards it, _You must know,_ says Sir Roger, _I
never make use of any Body to row me that has not either lost a Leg or
an Arm. I would rather bate him a few Strokes of his Oar, than not
employ an honest Man that has been wounded in the Queen's Service. If
I was a Lord or a Bishop, and kept a Barge, I would not put a Fellow
in my Livery that had not a Wooden-Leg._

My old Friend, after having seated himself, and trimmed the Boat with
his Coachman, who, being a very sober Man, always serves for Ballast
on these Occasions, we made the best of our way for _Fox-Hall_. Sir
Roger obliged the Waterman to give us the History of his Right Leg,
and hearing that he had left it at _La Hogue_, with many Particulars
which passed in that glorious Action, the Knight in the Triumph of his
Heart made several Reflections on the Greatness of the _British_
Nation; as, that one _Englishman_ could beat three _Frenchmen_; that
we could never be in Danger of Popery so long as we took care of our
Fleet; that the _Thames_ was the noblest River in _Europe_; that
_London-Bridge_ was a greater Piece of Work than any of the Seven
Wonders of the World; with many other honest Prejudices which
naturally cleave to the Heart of a true _Englishman_.

After some short Pause, the old Knight turning about his Head twice or
thrice, to take a Survey of this great Metropolis, bid me observe how
thick the City was set with Churches, and that there was scarce a
single Steeple on this side _Temple-Bar_. _A most Heathenish Sight!_
says Sir Roger: _There is no Religion at this End of the Town. The
Fifty new Churches will very much mend the Prospect; but Church-work
is slow, Church-work is slow!_

I do not remember I have any where mentioned, in Sir Roger's
Character, his Custom of saluting every Body that passes by him with a
Good-morrow, or a Good-night. This the old Man does out of the
Overflowings of his Humanity though at the same time it renders him so
popular among all his Country Neighbours, that it is thought to have
gone a good way in making him once or twice Knight of the Shire. He
cannot forbear this Exercise of Benevolence even in Town, when he
meets with any one in his Morning or Evening Walk. It broke from him
to several Boats that passed by us upon the Water; but, to the
Knight's great Surprize, as he gave the Good-night to two or three
young Fellows a little before our Landing, one of them, instead of
returning the Civility, asked us what queer old Putt we had in the
Boat; and whether he was not ashamed to go a Wenching at his Years?
with a great deal of the like _Thames_-Ribaldry. Sir Roger seemed a
little shocked at first, but at length assuming a Face of Magistracy,
told us, _That if he were a_ Middlesex _Justice, he would make such
Vagrants know that her Majesty's Subjects, were no more to be abused
by Water than by Land._

We were now arrived at _Spring-Garden_, which is exquisitely pleasant
at this Time of the Year. When I considered the Fragrancy of the Walks
and Bowers, with the Choirs of Birds that sung upon the Trees, and the
loose Tribe of People that walk'd under their Shades, I could not but
look upon the Place as a kind of _Mahometan_ Paradise. Sir Roger told
me it put him in mind of a little Coppice by his House in the Country,
which his Chaplain us'd to call an Aviary of Nightingales. _You must
understand,_ says the Knight, _there is nothing in the World that
pleases a Man in Love so much as your Nightingale. Ah_, Mr. SPECTATOR!
_The Many Moonlight Nights that I have walked by my self, and thought
on the Widow by the Musick of the Nightingale!_ Here he fetch'd a deep
Sigh, and was falling into a Fit of musing, when a Mask, who came
behind him, gave him a gentle Tap upon the Shoulder, and asked him if
he would drink a Bottle of Mead with her? But the Knight being
startled at so unexpected a Familiarity, and displeased to be
interrupted in his Thoughts of the Widow, told her, _She was a wanton
Baggage_, and bid her go about her Business.

We concluded our Walk with a Glass of _Burton-Ale_, and a Slice of
Hung-Beef. When we had done eating our selves, the Knight called a
Waiter to him, and bid him carry the Remainder to the Waterman that
had but one Leg. I perceived the Fellow stared upon him at the Oddness
of the Message, and was going to be saucy; upon which I ratified the
Knight's Commands with a peremptory Look.

As we were going out of the Garden, my old Friend thinking himself
obliged, as a Member of the _Quorum_, to animadvert upon the Morals of
the Place, told the Mistress of the House, who sat at the Bar, That he
should be a better Customer to her Garden, if there were more
Nightingales, and fewer bad Characters.



We last Night received a Piece of ill News at our Club, which very
sensibly afflicted every one of us. I question not but my Readers
themselves will be troubled at the hearing of it. To keep them no
longer in Suspense, Sir ROGER DE COVERLEY _is dead_. He departed this
Life at his House in the Country, after a few Weeks' Sickness. Sir
ANDREW FREEPORT has a Letter from one of his Correspondents in those
Parts, that informs him the old Man caught a Cold at the County
Sessions, as he was very warmly promoting an Address of his own
penning, in which he succeeded according to his Wishes. But this
Particular comes from a Whig Justice of Peace, who was always Sir
Roger's Enemy and Antagonist. I have Letters both from the Chaplain
and Captain _Sentry_ which mention Nothing of it, but are filled with
many Particulars to the Honour of the good old Man. I have likewise a
Letter from the Butler, who took so much Care of me last Summer when I
was at the Knight's House. As my Friend the Butler mentions, in the
Simplicity of his Heart, several circumstances the others have passed
over in Silence, I shall give my Reader a Copy of his Letter without
any Alteration or Diminution.

    "_Honoured Sir,_

"Knowing that you was my old Master's good Friend, I could not forbear
sending you the melancholy News of his Death, which has afflicted the
whole Country, as well as his poor Servants, who loved him, I may say,
better than we did our Lives. I am afraid he caught his Death the last
County Sessions, where he would go to see Justice done to a poor Widow
Woman, and her Fatherless Children that had been wronged by a
Neighbouring Gentleman; for you know, Sir, my good Master was always
the poor Man's Friend. Upon his coming home, the first Complaint he
made was, that he had lost his Roast-Beef Stomach, not being able to
touch a Sirloin, which was served up according to Custom; and you know
he used to take great Delight in it. From that Time forward he grew
worse and worse, but still kept a good Heart to the last. Indeed we
were once in great Hope of his Recovery, upon a kind Message that was
sent him from the Widow Lady whom he had made Love to the forty last
Years of his Life; but this only proved a Light'ning before Death. He
has bequeathed to this Lady, as a Token of his Love, a great Pearl
Necklace, and a Couple of Silver Bracelets set with Jewels, which
belonged to my good old Lady his Mother; He has bequeathed the fine
white Gelding, that he used to ride a hunting upon, to his Chaplain,
because he thought he would be kind to him, and has left you all his
Books. He has, moreover, bequeathed to the Chaplain a very pretty
Tenement with good Lands about it. It being a very cold Day when he
made his Will, he left for Mourning, to every Man in the Parish, a
great Frize Coat, and to every Woman a black Riding-hood. It was a
most moving Sight to see him take Leave of his poor Servants,
commending us all for our Fidelity, whilst we were not able to speak a
Word for weeping. As we most of us are grown gray-headed in our Dear
Master's Service, he has left us Pensions and Legacies, which we may
live very comfortably upon, the remaining Part of our Days. He has
bequeathed a great Deal more in Charity, which is not yet come to my
Knowledge, and it is peremptorily said in the Parish, that he has left
Money to build a Steeple to the Church; for he was heard to say some
Time ago, that if he lived two Years longer _Coverley_ Church should
have a Steeple to it. The Chaplain tells every Body that he made a
very good End, and never speaks of him without Tears. He was buried,
according to his own Directions, among the Family of the _Coverleys_,
on the left Hand of his Father Sir _Arthur_. The Coffin was carried by
Six of his Tenants, and the Pall held up by Six of the _Quorum_: The
whole Parish followed the Corps with heavy Hearts, and in their
Mourning-Suits, the Men in Frize, and the Women in Riding-hoods.
Captain _Sentry_, my Master's Nephew, has taken Possession of the
Hall-House, and the whole Estate. When my old Master saw him a little
before his Death, he shook him by the Hand, and wished him Joy of the
Estate which was falling to him, desiring him only to make a good Use
of it, and to pay the several Legacies, and the Gifts of Charity which
he told him he had left as Quit-rents upon the Estate. The Captain
truly seems a courteous Man, though he says but little. He makes much
of those whom my Master loved, and shews great Kindness to the old
House-dog, that you know my poor Master was so fond of. It wou'd have
gone to your Heart to have heard the Moans the dumb Creature made on
the Day of my Master's Death. He has ne'er joyed himself since; no
more has any of us. 'Twas the melancholiest Day for the poor People
that ever happened in _Worcestershire_. This being all from,

            _Honoured Sir,_
                _Your most sorrowful Servant,_
                                        Edward Biscuit.

_P.S._ My Master desired, some Weeks before he died, that a Book which
comes up to you by the Carrier should be given to Sir _Andrew
Freeport_, in his Name."

This Letter, notwithstanding the poor Butler's Manner of Writing it,
gave us such an Idea of our good old Friend, that upon the Reading of
it there was not a dry Eye in the Club. Sir _Andrew_ opening the Book
found it to be a Collection of Acts of Parliament. There was in
Particular the Act of Uniformity, with some Passages in it marked by
Sir _Roger's_ own Hand. Sir _Andrew_ found that they related to two or
three Points, which he had disputed with Sir _Roger_ the last Time he
appeared at the Club. Sir _Andrew_, who would have been merry at such
an Incident on another Occasion, at the Sight of the Old Man's
Handwriting burst into Tears, and put the Book into his Pocket.
Captain _Sentry_ informs me, that the Knight has left Rings and
Mourning for every one in the Club.



Having notified to my good Friend Sir ROGER that I should set out for
_London_ the next Day, his Horses were ready at the appointed Hour in
the Evening; and, attended by one of his Grooms, I arrived at the
County Town at Twilight, in order to be ready for the Stage-Coach the
Day following. As soon as we arrived at the Inn, the Servant who
waited upon me, enquired of the Chamberlain in my Hearing what Company
he had for the Coach? The Fellow answered, Mrs. _Betty Arable_, the
great Fortune, and the Widow her Mother, a recruiting Officer (who
took a Place because they were to go), young Squire _Quickset_ her
Cousin (that her Mother wished her to be married to), _Ephraim_ the
Quaker, her Guardian, and a Gentleman that had studied himself dumb
from Sir ROGER DE COVERLEY'S. I observed by what he said of my self,
that according to his Office he dealt much in Intelligence; and
doubted not but there was some Foundation for his Reports of the rest
of the Company, as well as for the whimsical Account he gave of me.
The next Morning at Day-break we were all called; and I, who know my
own natural Shyness, and endeavour to be as little liable to be
disputed with as possible, dressed immediately, that I might make no
one wait. The first Preparation for our Setting out was, that the
Captain's Half-Pike was placed near the Coach-man, and a Drum behind
the Coach. In the mean Time the Drummer, the Captain's Equipage, was
very loud, that none of the Captain's things should be placed so as to
be spoiled; upon which his Cloak-bag was fixed in the Seat of the
Coach: And the Captain himself, according to a frequent, tho'
invidious Behaviour of military Men, ordered His Man to look sharp,
that none but one of the Ladies should have the Place he had taken
fronting to the Coach-box.

We were in some little Time fixed in our Seats, and sat with that
Dislike which People not too good-natured, usually conceive of each
other at first Sight. The Coach jumbled us insensibly into some sort
of Familiarity; and we had not moved about two Miles, when the Widow
asked the Captain what Success he had in his Recruiting? The Officer,
with a Frankness he believed very graceful, told her, "That indeed he
had but very little Luck, and suffered much by Desertion, therefore
should be glad to end his Warfare in the Service of her or her fair
Daughter. In a Word," continued he, "I am a Soldier, and to be plain
is my Character: You see me, Madam, young, sound, and impudent; take
me your self, Widow, or give me to her, I will be wholly at your
Disposal. I am a Soldier of Fortune, ha!" This was followed by a vain
Laugh of his own, and a deep Silence of all the rest of the Company. I
had nothing left for it but to fall fast asleep, which I did with all
Speed. "Come," said he, "resolve upon it, we will make a Wedding at
the next Town: We will wake this pleasant Companion who is fallen
asleep, to be the Bride-man, and" (giving the Quaker a Clap on the
Knee) he concluded, "This sly Saint, who, I'll warrant understands
what's what as well as you or I, Widow, shall give the Bride as
Father." The Quaker, who happened to be a Man of Smartness, answered,
"Friend, I take it in good Part that thou hast given me the Authority
of a Father over this comely and virtuous Child; and I must assure
thee, that if I have the giving her, I shall not bestow her on thee.
Thy Mirth, Friend, savoureth of Folly: Thou art a Person of a light
Mind; thy Drum is a Type of thee, it soundeth because it is empty.
Verily, it is not from thy Fullness, but thy Emptiness, that thou hast
spoken this Day. Friend, Friend, we have hired this Coach in
Partnership with thee, to carry us to the great City; we cannot go any
other Way. This worthy Mother must hear thee if thou wilt needs utter
thy Follies; we cannot help it Friend, I say; if thou wilt, we must
hear thee: But if thou wert a Man of Understanding, thou wouldst not
take Advantage of thy couragious Countenance to abash us Children of
Peace. Thou art, thou sayest, a Soldier; give Quarter to us, who
cannot resist thee. Why didst thou fleer at our Friend, who feigned
himself asleep? he said nothing, but how dost thou know what he
containeth? If thou speakest improper things in the Hearing of this
virtuous young Virgin, consider it as an Outrage against a distressed
Person that cannot get from thee: To speak indiscreetly what we are
obliged to hear, by being hasped up with thee in this publick Vehicle,
is in some Degree assaulting on the high Road."

Here _Ephraim_ paused, and the Captain with an happy and uncommon
Impudence (which can be convicted and support it self at the same
time) crys, "Faith, Friend, I thank thee; I should have been a little
impertinent if thou hadst not reprimanded me. Come, thou art, I see, a
smoaky old Fellow, and I'll be very orderly the ensuing Part of the
Journey. I was going to give myself Airs, but Ladies I beg Pardon."

The Captain was so little out of Humour, and our Company was so far
from being sowered by this little Ruffle, that _Ephraim_ and he took a
particular Delight in being agreeable to each other for the future;
and assumed their different Provinces in the Conduct of the Company.
Our Reckonings, Apartments, and Accommodation, fell under _Ephraim_;
and the Captain looked to all Disputes on the Road, as the good
Behaviour of our Coachman, and the Right we had of taking Place as
going to _London_ of all Vehicles coming from thence. The Occurrences
we met with were ordinary, and very little happen'd which could
entertain by the Relation of them: But when I consider'd the Company
we were in, I took it for no small good Fortune that the whole Journey
was not spent in Impertinences, which to one Part of us might be an
Entertainment, to the other a Suffering. What therefore _Ephraim_ said
when we were almost arrived at _London_, had to me an Air not only of
good Understanding, but good Breeding. Upon the young Lady's
expressing her Satisfaction in the Journey, and declaring how
delightful it had been to her, _Ephraim_ delivered himself as follows:
"There is no ordinary Part of humane Life which expresseth so much a
good Mind, and a right inward Man, as his Behaviour upon Meeting with
Strangers, especially such as may seem the most unsuitable Companions
to him: Such a Man when he falleth in the Way with Persons of
Simplicity and Innocence, however knowing he may be in the Ways of
Men, will not vaunt himself thereof; but will the rather hide his
Superiority to them, that he may not be painful unto them. My good
Friend," continued he, turning to the Officer, "thee and I are to part
by and by, and peradventure we may never meet again: But be advised by
a plain Man; Modes and Apparels are but Trifles to the real Man,
therefore do not think such a Man as thy self terrible for thy Garb,
nor such a one as me contemptible for mine. When two such as thee and
I meet, with Affections as we ought to have towards each other, thou
shouldst rejoice to see my peaceable Demeanour, and I should be glad
to see thy Strength and Ability to protect me in it."



It is an inexpressible Pleasure to know a little of the World, and be
of no Character or Significancy in it. To be ever unconcerned, and
ever looking on new Objects with an endless Curiosity, is a Delight
known only to those who are turned for Speculation: Nay, they who
enjoy it, must value things only as they are the Objects of
Speculation, without drawing any worldly Advantage to themselves from
them, but just as they are what contribute to their Amusement, or the
Improvement of the Mind. I lay one Night last Week at _Richmond_; and
being restless, not out of Dissatisfaction, but a certain basic
Inclination one sometimes has, I arose at Four in the Morning, and
took Boat for _London_, with a Resolution to rove by Boat and Coach
for the next Four and twenty Hours, till the many different Objects I
must needs meet with should tire my Imagination, and give me an
Inclination to a Repose more profound than I was at that time capable
of. I beg People's Pardon for an odd Humour I am guilty of, and was
often that Day, which is saluting any Person whom I like, whether I
know him or not. This is a Particularity would be tolerated in me, if
they considered that the greatest Pleasure I know I receive at my
Eyes, and that I am obliged to an agreeable Person for coming abroad
into my View, as another is for a Visit of Conversation at their own

The Hours of the Day and Night are taken up in the Cities of _London_
and _Westminster_ by People as different from each other as those who
are Born in different Centuries. Men of Six-a-Clock give way to those
of Nine, they of Nine to the Generation of Twelve, and they of Twelve
disappear, and make Room for the fashionable World, who have made
Two-a-Clock the Noon of the Day.

When we first put off from Shoar, we soon fell in with a Fleet of
Gardiners bound for the several Market-Ports of _London_; and it was
the most pleasing Scene imaginable to see the Chearfulness with which
those industrious People ply'd their Way to a certain Sale of their
Goods. The Banks on each Side are as well Peopled, and beautified with
as agreeable Plantations, as any Spot on the Earth; but the _Thames_
it self, loaded with the Product of each Shoar, added very much to the
Landskip. It was very easie to observe by their Sailing, and the
Countenances of the ruddy Virgins, who were Supercargos, the Parts of
the Town to which they were bound. There was an Air in the Purveyors
for _Covent-Garden_, who frequently converse with Morning Rakes, very
unlike the seemly Sobriety of those bound for _Stocks-Market_.

Nothing remarkable happened in our Voyage; but I landed with Ten Sail
of Apricock Boats at _Strand-Bridge_, after having put in at
_Nine-Elmes_, and taken in Melons, consigned by Mr. _Cuffe_ of that
Place, to _Sarah Sewell_ and Company, at their Stall in
_Covent-Garden_. We arrived at _Strand-Bridge_ at Six of the Clock,
and were unloading; when the Hackney-Coachmen of the foregoing Night
took their Leave of each other at the _Dark-House_, to go to Bed
before the Day was too far spent. Chimney-Sweepers pass'd by us as we
made up to the Market, and some Raillery happened between one of the
Fruit-Wenches and those black Men, about the Devil and _Eve_, with
Allusion to their several Professions. I could not believe any Place
more entertaining than _Covent-Garden_; where I strolled from one
Fruit-shop to another, with Crowds of agreeable young Women around me,
who were purchasing Fruit for their respective Families. It was almost
Eight of the Clock before I could leave that Variety of Objects. I
took Coach and followed a young Lady, who tripped into another just
before me, attended by her Maid. I saw immediately she was of the
Family of the _Vainloves_. There are a Sett of these, who of all
things affect the Play of _Blindman's-Buff_, and leading Men into Love
for they know not whom, who are fled they know not where. This sort of
Woman is usually a janty Slattern; she hangs on her Cloaths, plays her
Head, varies her Posture, and changes place incessantly, and all with
an Appearance of striving at the same time to hide her self, and yet
give you to understand she is in Humour to laugh at you. You must have
often seen the Coachmen make Signs with their Fingers as they drive by
each other, to intimate how much they have got that Day. They can
carry on that Language to give Intelligence where they are driving. In
an Instant my Coachman took the Wink to pursue, and the Lady's Driver
gave the Hint that he was going through _Long-Acre_ towards St.
_James's_: While he whipp'd up _James-Street_, we drove for _King
Street_, to save the Pass at St. _Martin's-Lane_. The Coachmen took
care to meet, justle, and threaten each other for Way, and be
intangled at the End of _Newport-Street_ and _Long-Acre_. The Fright,
you must believe, brought down the Lady's Coach Door, and obliged her,
with her Mask off, to enquire into the Bustle, when she sees the Man
she would avoid. The Tackle of the Coach-Window is so bad she cannot
draw it up again, and she drives on sometimes wholly discovered, and
sometimes half-escaped, according to the Accident of Carriages in her
Way. One of these Ladies keeps her Seat in a Hackney-Coach as well as
the best Rider does on a managed Horse. The laced Shooe on her Left
Foot, with a careless Gesture, just appearing on the opposite Cushion,
held her both firm, and in a proper Attitude to receive the next Jolt.

As she was an excellent Coach-Woman, many were the Glances at each
other which we had for an Hour and an Half in all Parts of the Town by
the Skill of our Drivers; till at last my Lady was conveniently lost
with Notice from her Coachman to ours to make off, and he should hear
where she went. This Chace was now at an End, and the Fellow who drove
her came to us, and discovered that he was ordered to come again in an
Hour, for that she was a Silk-Worm. I was surprized with this Phrase,
but found it was a Cant among the Hackney Fraternity for their best
Customers, Women who ramble twice or thrice a Week from Shop to Shop,
to turn over all the Goods in Town without buying any thing. The
Silk-Worms are, it seems, indulged by the Tradesmen; for tho' they
never buy, they are ever talking of new Silks, Laces and Ribbands, and
serve the Owners in getting them Customers, as their common Dunners do
in making them pay.

The Day of People of Fashion began now to break, and Carts and Hacks
were mingled with Equipages of Show and Vanity; when I resolved to
walk it out of Cheapness; but my unhappy Curiosity is such, that I
find it always my Interest to take Coach, for some odd Adventure among
Beggars, Ballad-Singers, or the like, detains and throws me into
Expence. It happened so immediately; for at the Corner of
_Warwick-Street_, as I was listening to a new Ballad, a ragged Rascal,
a Beggar who knew me, came up to me, and began to turn the Eyes of the
good Company upon me, by telling me he was extream Poor, and should
die in the Streets for want of Drink, except I immediately would have
the Charity to give him Six-pence to go into the next Ale-House and
save his life. He urged, with a melancholy Face, that all his Family
had died of Thirst. All the Mob have Humour, and two or three began to
take the Jest; by which Mr. _Sturdy_ carried his Point, and let me
sneak off to a Coach. As I drove along it was a pleasing Reflection to
see the World so prettily chequered since I left _Richmond_, and the
Scene still filling with Children of a new Hour. This Satisfaction
encreased as I moved towards the City; and gay Signs, well disposed
Streets, magnificent publick Structures, and Wealthy Shops, adorned
with contented Faces, made the Joy still rising till we came into the
Centre of the City, and Centre of the World of Trade, the _Exchange_
of _London_. As other Men in the Crowds about me were pleased with
their Hopes and Bargains, I found my Account in observing them, in
Attention to their several Interests. I, indeed, looked upon my self
as the richest Man that walked the _Exchange_ that Day; for my
Benevolence made me share the Gains of every Bargain that was made. It
was not the least of the Satisfactions in my Survey, to go up Stairs,
and pass the Shops of agreeable Females; to observe so many pretty
Hands busie in the Foldings of Ribbands, and the utmost Eagerness of
agreeable Faces in the Sale of Patches, Pins, and Wires, on each Side
the Counters, was an Amusement, in which I should longer have indulged
my self, had not the dear Creatures called to me to ask what I wanted,
when I could not answer, only _To look at you_. I went to one of the
Windows which opened to the Area below, where all the several Voices
lost their Distinction, and rose up in a confused Humming; which
created in me a Reflection that could not come into the Mind of any
but of one a little studious; for I said to my self, with a kind of
Punn in thought, _What Nonsense is all the Hurry of this World to
those who are above it?_ In these, or not much wiser Thoughts, I had
like to have lost my Place at the Chop-House; where every Man,
according to the natural Bashfulness or Sullenness of our Nation, eats
in a publick Room a Mess of Broth, or Chop of Meat, in dumb Silence,
as if they had no Pretence to speak to each other on the Foot of being
Men, except they were of each other's Acquaintance.

I went afterwards to _Robin's_ and saw People who had dined with me at
the Five-Penny Ordinary just before, give Bills for the Value of large
Estates; and could not but behold with great Pleasure, Property lodged
in, and transferred in a Moment from such as would never be Masters of
half as much as is seemingly in them, and given from them every Day
they live. But before Five in the Afternoon I left the City, came to
my common Scene of _Covent-Garden_, and passed the Evening at _Will's_
in attending the Discourses of several Sets of People, who relieved
each other within my Hearing on the Subjects of Cards, Dice, Love,
Learning and Politicks. The last Subject kept me till I heard the
Streets in the Possession of the Bell-man, who had now the World to
himself, and cryed, _Past Two of Clock_. This rous'd me from my Seat,
and I went to my Lodging, led by a Light, whom I put into the
Discourse of his private Oeconomy, and made him give me an Account of
the Charge, Hazard, Profit and Loss of a Family that depended upon a
Link, with a Design to end my trivial Day with the Generosity of
Six-pence, instead of a third Part of that Sum. When I came to my
Chambers I writ down these Minutes; but was at a Loss what Instruction
I should propose to my Reader from the Enumeration of so many
Insignificant Matters and Occurrences; and I thought it of great Use,
if they could learn with me to keep their minds open to Gratification,
and ready to receive it from any thing it meets with. This one
Circumstance will make every Face you see give you the Satisfaction
you now take in beholding that of a Friend; will make every Object a
pleasing one; will make all the Good which arrives to any Man, an
Encrease of Happiness to your self.



Being a Person of insatiable Curiosity, I could not forbear going on
_Wednesday_ last to a Place of no small Renown for the Gallantry of
the lower Order of _Britons_, namely, to the Bear-Garden at _Hockley
in the Hole_; where (as a whitish brown Paper, put into my Hands in
the Street, inform'd me) there was to be a Tryal of Skill to be
exhibited between two Masters of the Noble Science of Defence, at two
of the Clock precisely. I was not a little charm'd with the Solemnity
of the Challenge, which ran thus:

"_I_ James Miller, _Serjeant, (lately come from the Frontiers of_
Portugal) _Master of the Noble Science of Defence, hearing in most
Places where I have been of the great Fame of_ Timothy Buck _of_
London, _Master of the said Science, do invite him to meet me, and
exercise at the several Weapons following,_ viz.

    _Back-Sword_,          _Single Falchon_,
    _Sword and Dagger_,    _Case of Falchons_,
    _Sword and Buckler_,   _Quarter-Staff_."

If the generous Ardour in _James Miller_ to dispute the Reputation of
_Timothy Buck_, had something resembling the old Heroes of Romance,
_Timothy Buck_ return'd Answer in the same Paper with the like Spirit,
adding a little Indignation at being challenged, and seeming to
condescend to fight _James Miller_, not in regard to _Miller_ himself,
but in that, as the Fame went out, he had fought _Parkes_ of
_Coventry_. The Acceptance of the Combat ran in these Words:

"_I_ Timothy Buck _of_ Clare-Market, _Master of the Noble Science of
Defence, hearing he did fight Mr._ Parkes _of_ Coventry, _will not
fail (God willing) to meet this fair Inviter at the Time and Place
appointed, desiring a clear Stage and no Favour._

    Vivat Regina."

I shall not here look back on the Spectacles of the _Greeks_ and
_Romans_ of this Kind, but must believe this Custom took its Rise from
the Ages of Knight-Errantry; from those who lov'd one Woman so well,
that they hated all Men and Women else; from those who would fight
you, whether you were or were not of their Mind; from those who
demanded the Combat of their Contemporaries, both for admiring their
Mistress or discommending her. I cannot therefore but lament, that the
terrible Part of the ancient Fight is preserved, when the amorous Side
of it is forgotten. We have retained the Barbarity, but lost the
Gallantry of the old Combatants. I could wish, methinks, these
Gentlemen had consulted me in the Promulgation of the Conflict. I was
obliged by a fair young Maid whom I understood to be called _Elisabeth
Preston_, Daughter of the Keeper of the Garden, with a Glass of Water;
whom I imagined might have been, for Form's sake, the general
Representative of the Lady fought for, and from her Beauty the proper
_Amarillis_ on these Occasions. It would have ran better in the
Challenge; _I_ James Miller, _Serjeant, who have travelled Parts
abroad, and came last from the Frontiers of_ Portugal, _for the Love
of_ Elizabeth Preston, _do assert, That the said_ Elizabeth is the
Fairest of Women. Then the Answer; _I_ Timothy Buck, _who have stay'd
in_ Great Britain _during all the War in Foreign Parts for the Sake
of_ Susanna Page, _do deny that_ Elizabeth Preston _is so fair as the
said_ Susanna Page. Let _Susanna Page_ look on, and I desire of _James
Miller_ no Favour.

This would give the Battel quite another Turn; and a proper Station
for the Ladies, whose Complexion was disputed by the Sword, would
animate the Disputants with a more gallant Incentive than the
Expectation of Mony from the Spectators; though I would not have that
neglected, but thrown to that Fair One whose Lover was approved by the

Yet, considering the Thing wants such Amendments, it was carried with
great Order. _James Miller_ came on first; preceded by two disabled
Drummers, to shew, I suppose, that the Prospect of maimed Bodies did
not in the least deter him. There ascended with the daring _Miller_ a
Gentleman, whose Name I could not learn, with a dogged Air, as
unsatisfied that he was not Principal. This Son of Anger lowred at the
whole Assembly, and weighing himself as he march'd around from Side to
Side, with a stiff Knee and Shoulder, he gave Intimations of the
Purpose he smothered till he saw the Issue of this Encounter. _Miller_
had a blue Ribbond tyed round the Sword Arm; which Ornament I conceive
to be the Remain of that Custom of wearing a Mistress's Favour on such
Occasions of old.

_Miller_ is a Man of six Foot eight Inches Height, of a kind but bold
Aspect, well-fashioned, and ready of his Limbs; and such Readiness as
spoke his Ease in them, was obtained from a Habit of Motion in
Military Exercise.

The Expectation of the Spectators was now almost at its Height, and
the Crowd pressing in, several active Persons thought they were placed
rather according to their Fortune than their Merit, and took it in
their Heads to prefer themselves from the open Area, or Pit, to the
Galleries. This Dispute between Desert and Property brought many to
the Ground, and raised others in proportion to the highest Seats by
Turns for the Space of ten Minutes, till _Timothy Buck_ came on, and
the whole Assembly giving up their Disputes, turned their Eyes upon
the Champions. Then it was that every Man's Affection turned to one or
the other irresistibly. A judicious Gentleman near me said, _I could,
methinks, be_ Miller's _Second, but I had rather have_ Buck _for
mine._ _Miller_ had an audacious Look, that took the Eye; _Buck_ a
perfect Composure, that engaged the Judgment. _Buck_ came on in a
plain Coat, and kept all his Air till the Instant of Engaging; at
which Time he undress'd to his Shirt, his Arm adorned with a Bandage
of red Ribband. No one can describe the sudden Concern in the whole
Assembly; the most tumultuous Crowd in Nature was as still and as much
engaged, as if all their Lives depended on the first blow. The
Combatants met in the Middle of the Stage, and shaking Hands as
removing all Malice, they retired with much Grace to the Extremities
of it; from whence they immediately faced about, and approached each
other. _Miller_ with an Heart full of Resolution, _Buck_ with a
watchful untroubled Countenance; _Buck_ regarding principally his own
Defence, _Miller_ chiefly thoughtful of annoying his Opponent. It is
not easie to describe the many Escapes and imperceptible Defences
between two Men of quick Eyes and ready Limbs; but _Miller's_ Heat
laid him open to the Rebuke of the calm _Buck_, by a large Cut on the
Forehead. Much Effusion of Blood covered his Eyes in a Moment, and the
Huzzas of the Crowd undoubtedly quickened the Anguish. The Assembly
was divided into Parties upon their different ways of Fighting; while
a poor Nymph in one of the Galleries apparently suffered for _Miller_,
and burst into a Flood of Tears. As soon as his Wound was wrapped up,
he came on again with a little Rage, which still disabled him further.
But what brave Man can be wounded into more Patience and Caution? The
next was a warm eager Onset which ended in a decisive Stroke on the
left Leg of _Miller_. The Lady in the Gallery, during this second
Strife, covered her Face; and for my Part, I could not keep my
Thoughts from being mostly employed on the Consideration of her
unhappy Circumstance that Moment, hearing the Clash of Swords, and
apprehending Life or Victory concerned her Lover in every Blow, but
not daring to satisfie herself on whom they fell. The Wound was
exposed to the View of all who could delight in it, and sewed up on
the Stage. The surly Second of _Miller_ declared at this Time, that he
would that Day Fortnight fight Mr. _Buck_ at the same Weapons,
declaring himself the Master of the renowned _Gorman_; but _Buck_
denied him the Honour of that courageous Disciple, and asserting that
he himself had taught that Champion, accepted the Challenge.

There is something in Nature very unaccountable on such Occasions,
when we see the People take a certain painful Gratification in
beholding these Encounters. Is it Cruelty that administers this Sort
of Delight? or is it a Pleasure which is taken in the Exercise of
Pity? It was methought pretty remarkable, that the Business of the Day
being a Trial of Skill, the Popularity did not run so high as one
would have expected on the Side of _Buck_. Is it that People's
Passions have their Rise in Self-love, and thought themselves (in
Spite of all the Courage they had) liable to the Fate of _Miller_, but
could not so easily think themselves qualified like _Buck_?

_Tully_ speaks of this Custom with less Horrour than one would expect,
though he confesses it was much abused in his Time, and seems directly
to approve of it under its first Regulations, when Criminals only
fought before the People. _Crudele Gladiatorum spectaculum & inhumanum
nonnullis videri solet; & haud scio annon ita sit ut nunc fit; cum
vero sontes ferro depugnabant, auribus fortasse multa, oculis quidem
nulla, poterat esse fortior contra dolorem & mortem disciplina. The
Shows of Gladiators may be thought barbarous and inhumane, and I know
not but it is so as it is now practised; but in those Times when only
Criminals were Combatants, the Ear perhaps might receive many better
Instructions, but it is impossible that any thing which affects our
Eyes, should fortifie us so well against Pain and Death._



It is an unreasonable thing some Men expect of their Acquaintance.
They are ever complaining that they are out of Order, or displeas'd,
or they know not how; and are so far from letting that be a Reason for
retiring to their own Homes, that they make it their Argument for
coming into Company. What has any Body to do with Accounts of a Man's
being indispos'd but his Physician? If a man laments in Company, where
the rest are in Humour enough to enjoy themselves, he should not take
it ill if a Servant is order'd to present him with a Porringer of
Cawdle or Posset-drink, by way of Admonition that he go home to Bed.
That Part of Life which we ordinarily understand by the Word
Conversation, is an Indulgence to the sociable Part of our Make; and
should incline us to bring our Proportion of good Will or good Humour
among the Friends we meet with, and not to trouble them with Relations
which must of Necessity oblige them to a real or feign'd Affliction.
Cares, Distresses, Diseases, Uneasinesses, and Dislikes of our own,
are by no Means to be obtruded upon our Friends. If we would consider
how little of this Vicissitude of Motion and Rest, which we call Life,
is spent with Satisfaction; we should be more tender of our Friends,
than to bring them little Sorrows which do not belong to them. There
is no real Life, but chearful Life; therefore Valetudinarians should
be sworn, before they enter into Company, not to say a Word of
themselves till the Meeting breaks up. It is not here pretended, that
we should be always sitting with Chaplets of Flowers round our Heads,
or be crowned with Roses, in order to make our Entertainment agreeable
to us; but if (as it is usually observed) they who resolve to be
merry, seldom are so; it will be much more unlikely for us to be well
pleased, if they are admitted who are always complaining they are sad.
Whatever we do we should keep up the Chearfulness of our Spirits, and
never let them sink below an Inclination at least to be well pleased:
The Way to this, is to keep our Bodies in Exercise, our Minds at Ease.
That insipid State wherein neither are in Vigour, is not to be
accounted any Part of our Portion of Being. When we are in the
Satisfaction of some innocent Pleasure, or Pursuit of some laudable
Design, we are in the Possession of Life, of human Life. Fortune will
give us Disappointments enough, and Nature is attended with
Infirmities enough, without our adding to the unhappy Side of our
Account by our Spleen or ill Humour. Poor _Cottilus_, among so many
real Evils, a chronical Distemper and a narrow Fortune, is never heard
to complain: That equal Spirit of his, which any Man may have that,
like him, will conquer Pride, Vanity, and Affectation, and follow
Nature, is not to be broken, because it has no Points to contend for.
To be anxious for nothing but what Nature demands as necessary, if it
is not the way to an Estate, is the way to what Men aim at by getting
an Estate. This Temper will preserve Health in the Body, as well as
Tranquility in the Mind. _Cottilus_ sees the World in an Hurry, with
the same Scorn that a sober Person sees a Man drunk. Had he been
contented with what he ought to have been, how could, says he, such a
one have met with such a Disappointment? If another had valued his
Mistress for what he ought to have loved her, he had not been in her
Power: If her Virtue had had a Part of his Passion, her Levity had
been his Cure; she could not then have been false and amiable at the
same Time.

Since we cannot promise our selves constant Health, let us endeavour
at such a Temper as may be our best Support in the Decay of it.
_Uranius_ has arrived at that Composure of Soul, and wrought himself
up to such a Neglect of every thing with which the Generality of
Mankind is enchanted, that nothing but acute Pains can give him
Disturbance, and against those too he will tell his intimate Friends
he has a Secret which gives him present Ease. _Uranius_ is so
thoroughly perswaded of another Life, and endeavours so sincerely to
secure an Interest in it, that he looks upon Pain but as a quickening
of his Pace to an Home, where he shall be better provided for than in
his present Apartment. Instead of the melancholy Views which others
are apt to give themselves, he will tell you that he has forgot he is
mortal, nor will he think of himself as such. He thinks at the Time of
his Birth he entered into an eternal Being; and the short Article of
Death he will not allow an Interruption of Life, since that Moment is
not of half the Duration as is his ordinary Sleep. Thus is his Being
one uniform and consistent Series of chearful Diversions and moderate
Cares, without Fear or Hope of Futurity. Health to him is more than
Pleasure to another Man, and Sickness less affecting to him than
Indisposition is to others.

I must confess, if one does not regard Life after this Manner, none
but Idiots can pass it away with any tolerable Patience. Take a fine
Lady who is of a delicate Frame, and you may observe from the Hour she
rises a certain Weariness of all that passes about her. I know more
than one who is much too nice to be quite alive. They are sick of such
strange frightful People that they meet; one is so awkward and another
so disagreeable, that it looks like a Penance to breathe the same Air
with them. You see this is so very true, that a great Part of Ceremony
and Good-breeding among the Ladies turns upon their Uneasiness; and
I'll undertake, if the How-d'ye Servants of our Women were to make a
weekly Bill of Sickness, as the Parish Clerks do of Mortality, you
would not find in an Account of Seven Days, one in thirty that was not
downright Sick or indisposed, or but a very little better than she
was, and so forth.

It is certain, that to enjoy Life and Health as a constant Feast, we
should not think Pleasure necessary; but, if possible, to arrive at an
Equality of Mind. It is as mean to be overjoy'd upon Occasions of good
Fortune, as to be dejected in Circumstances of Distress. Laughter in
one Condition, is as unmanly as weeping in the other. We should not
form our Minds to expect Transport on every Occasion, but know how to
make Enjoyment to be out of Pain. Ambition, Envy, vagrant Desire, or
impertinent Mirth will take up our Minds, without we can possess our
selves in that Sobriety of Heart which is above all Pleasures, and can
be felt much better than described: But the ready Way, I believe, to
the right Enjoyment of Life, is by a Prospect towards another to have
but a very mean Opinion of it. A great Author of our Time has set this
in an excellent Light, when with a philosophick Pity of human Life he
spoke of it in his Theory of the Earth in the following Manner.

_For what is this Life but a Circulation of little mean Actions? We
lie down and rise again, dress and undress, feed and wax hungry, work
or play, and are weary, and then we lie down again, and the Circle
returns. We spend the Day in Trifles, and when the Night comes we
throw our selves into the Bed of Folly, amongst Dreams and broken
Thoughts and wild Imaginations. Our Reason lies asleep by us, and we
are for the Time as arrant Brutes as those that sleep in the Stalls or
in the Field. Are not the Capacities of Man higher than these? and
ought not his Ambition and Expectations to be greater? Let us be
Adventurers for another World: 'Tis at least a fair and noble Chance;
and there is nothing in this worth our Thoughts or our Passions. If we
should be disappointed, we are still no worse than the rest of our
Fellow-Mortals; and if we succeed in our Expectations, we are
eternally happy._



    To _The Rambler_.


As you have allowed a place in your paper to Euphelia's letters from
the country, and appear to think no form of human life unworthy of
your attention, I have resolved, after many struggles with idleness
and diffidence, to give you some account of my entertainment in this
sober season of universal retreat, and to describe to you the
employments of those who look with contempt on the pleasures and
diversions of polite life, and employ all their powers of censure and
invective upon the uselessness, vanity, and folly of dress, visits,
and conversation.

When a tiresome and vexatious journey of four days had brought me to
the house where invitation, regularly sent for seven years together,
had at last induced me to pass the summer, I was surprised, after the
civilities of my first reception, to find, instead of the leisure and
tranquillity which a rural life always promises, and, if well
conducted, might always afford, a confused wildness of care and a
tumultuous hurry of diligence, by which every face was clouded and
every motion agitated. The old lady, who was my father's relation,
was, indeed, very full of the happiness which she received from my
visit, and, according to the forms of obsolete breeding, insisted that
I should recompense the long delay of my company with a promise not to
leave her till winter. But, amidst all her kindness and caresses, she
very frequently turned her head aside, and whispered, with anxious
earnestness, some order to her daughters, which never failed to send
them out with unpolite precipitation. Sometimes her impatience would
not suffer her to stay behind; she begged my pardon, she must leave me
for a moment; she went, and returned and sat down again, but was again
disturbed by some new care, dismissed her daughters with the same
trepidation, and followed them with the same countenance of business
and solicitude.

However I was alarmed at this show of eagerness and disturbance, and
however my curiosity was excited by such busy preparations as
naturally promised some great event, I was yet too much a stranger to
gratify myself with inquiries; but, finding none of the family in
mourning, I pleased myself with imagining that I should rather see a
wedding than a funeral.

At last we sat down to supper, when I was informed that one of the
young ladies, after whom I thought myself obliged to inquire, was
under a necessity of attending some affair that could not be
neglected: soon afterward my relation began to talk of the regularity
of her family and the inconvenience of London hours; and at last let
me know that they had purposed that night to go to bed sooner than was
usual, because they were to rise early in the morning to make
cheesecakes. This hint sent me to my chamber, to which I was
accompanied by all the ladies, who begged me to excuse some large
sieves of leaves and flowers that covered two-thirds of the floor, for
they intended to distil them when they were dry, and they had no other
room that so conveniently received the rising sun.

The scent of the plants hindered me from rest, and therefore I rose
early in the morning with a resolution to explore my new habitation. I
stole unperceived by my busy cousins into the garden, where I found
nothing either more great or elegant than in the same number of acres
cultivated for the market. Of the gardener I soon learned that his
lady was the greatest manager in that part of the country, and that I
was come hither at the time in which I might learn to make more
pickles and conserves than could be seen at any other house a hundred
miles round.

It was not long before her ladyship gave me sufficient opportunities
of knowing her character, for she was too much pleased with her own
accomplishments to conceal them, and took occasion, from some
sweetmeats which she set next day upon the table, to discourse for two
long hours upon robs and jellies; laid down the best methods of
conserving, reserving, and preserving all sorts of fruit; told us with
great contempt of the London lady in the neighbourhood, by whom these
terms were very often confounded; and hinted how much she should be
ashamed to set before company, at her own house, sweetmeats of so dark
a colour as she had often seen at Mistress Sprightly's.

It is, indeed, the great business of her life to watch the skillet on
the fire, to see it simmer with the due degree of heat, and to snatch
it off at the moment of projection; and the employments to which she
has bred her daughters are to turn rose leaves in the shade, to pick
out the seeds of currants with a quill, to gather fruit without
bruising it, and to extract bean flower water for the skin. Such are
the tasks with which every day, since I came hither, has begun and
ended, to which the early hours of life are sacrificed, and in which
that time is passing away which never shall return.

But to reason or expostulate are hopeless attempts. The lady has
settled her opinions, and maintains the dignity of her own
performances with all the firmness of stupidity accustomed to be
flattered. Her daughters, having never seen any house but their own,
believe their mother's excellence on her own word. Her husband is a
mere sportsman, who is pleased to see his table well furnished, and
thinks the day sufficiently successful in which he brings home a leash
of hares to be potted by his wife.

After a few days I pretended to want books, but my lady soon told me
that none of her books would suit my taste; for her part she never
loved to see young women give their minds to such follies, by which
they would only learn to use hard words; she bred up her daughters to
understand a house, and who ever should marry them, if they knew
anything of good cookery, would never repent it.

There are, however, some things in the culinary science too sublime
for youthful intellects, mysteries into which they must not be
initiated till the years of serious maturity, and which are referred
to the day of marriage as the supreme qualification for connubial
life. She makes an orange pudding, which is the envy of all the
neighbourhood, and which she has hitherto found means of mixing and
baking with such secrecy, that the ingredient to which it owes its
flavour has never been discovered. She, indeed, conducts this great
affair with all the caution that human policy can suggest. It is never
known beforehand when this pudding will be produced; she takes the
ingredients privately into her own closet, employs her maids and
daughters in different parts of the house, orders the oven to be
heated for a pie, and places the pudding in it with her own hands: the
mouth of the oven is then stopped, and all inquiries are vain.

The composition of the pudding she has, however, promised Clarinda,
that if she pleases her in marriage, she shall be told without
reserve. But the art of making English capers she has not yet
persuaded herself to discover, but seems resolved that secret shall
perish with her, as some alchymists have obstinately suppressed the
art of transmuting metals.

I once ventured to lay my fingers on her book of receipts, which she
left upon the table, having intelligence that a vessel of gooseberry
wine had burst the hoops. But though the importance of the event
sufficiently engrossed her care, to prevent any recollection of the
danger to which her secrets were exposed, I was not able to make use
of the golden moments; for this treasure of hereditary knowledge was
so well concealed by the manner of spelling used by her grandmother,
her mother, and herself, that I was totally unable to understand it,
and lost the opportunity of consulting the oracle, for want of knowing
the language in which its answers were returned.

It is, indeed, necessary, if I have any regard to her ladyship's
esteem, that I should apply myself to some of these economical
accomplishments; for I overheard her, two days ago, warning her
daughters, by my mournful example, against negligence of pastry, and
ignorance in carving; for you saw, said she, that, with all her
pretensions to knowledge, she turned the partridge the wrong way when
she attempted to cut it, and, I believe, scarcely knows the difference
between paste raised and paste in a dish.

The reason, Mr. Rambler, why I have laid Lady Bustle's character
before you, is a desire to be informed whether in your opinion it is
worthy of imitation, and whether I shall throw away the books which I
have hitherto thought it my duty to read, for _The Lady's Closet
opened_, _The complete Servant-maid_, and _The Court Cook_, and resign
all curiosity after right and wrong for the art of scalding damascenes
without bursting them, and preserving the whiteness of pickled

Lady Bustle has, indeed, by this incessant application to fruits and
flowers, contracted her cares into a narrow space, and set herself
free from many perplexities with which other minds are disturbed. She
has no curiosity after the events of a war, or the fate of heroes in
distress; she can hear without the least emotion the ravage of a fire,
or devastations of a storm; her neighbours grow rich or poor, come
into the world or go out of it, without regard, while she is pressing
the jelly-bag, or airing the store-room; but I cannot perceive that
she is more free from disquiet than those whose understandings take a
wider range. Her marigolds, when they are almost cured, are often
scattered by the wind, the rain sometimes falls upon fruit when it
ought to be gathered dry. While her artificial wines are fermenting,
her whole life is restlessness and anxiety. Her sweetmeats are not
always bright, and the maid sometimes forgets the just proportion of
salt and pepper, when venison is to be baked. Her conserves mould, her
wines sour, and pickles mother; and, like all the rest of mankind, she
is every day mortified with the defeat of her schemes and the
disappointment of her hopes.

With regard to vice and virtue she seems a kind of neutral being. She
has no crime but luxury, nor any virtue but chastity; she has no
desire to be praised but for her cookery; nor wishes any ill to the
rest of mankind, but that whenever they aspire to a feast, their
custards may be wheyish, and their pie-crusts tough.

I am now very impatient to know whether I am to look on these ladies
as the great pattern of our sex, and to consider conserves and pickles
as the business of my life; whether the censures which I now suffer be
just, and whether the brewers of wines, and the distillers of washes,
have a right to look with insolence on the weakness of


    _Samuel Johnson._


    To _The Adventurer_.


It has been observed, I think, by Sir WILLIAM TEMPLE, and after him by
almost every other writer, that England affords a greater variety of
characters than the rest of the world. This is ascribed to the liberty
prevailing amongst us, which gives every man the privilege of being
wise or foolish his own way, and preserves him from the necessity of
hypocrisy or the servility of imitation.

That the position itself is true, I am not completely satisfied. To be
nearly acquainted with the people of different countries can happen to
very few; and in life, as in every thing else beheld at a distance,
there appears an even uniformity: the petty discriminations which
diversify the natural character, are not discoverable but by a close
inspection; we, therefore, find them most at home, because there we
have most opportunities of remarking them. Much less am I convinced,
that his peculiar diversification, if it be real, is the consequence
of peculiar liberty; for where is the government to be found that
superintends individuals with so much vigilance, as not to leave their
private conduct without restraint? Can it enter into a reasonable mind
to imagine, that men of every other nation are not equally masters of
their own time or houses with ourselves, and equally at liberty to be
parsimonious or profuse, frolic or sullen, abstinent or luxurious?
Liberty is certainly necessary to the full play of predominant
humours; but such liberty is to be found alike under the government of
the many or the few, in monarchies or in commonwealths.

How readily the predominant passion snatches an interval of liberty,
and how fast it expands itself when the weight of restraint is taken
away, I had lately an opportunity to discover, as I took a journey
into the country in a stage coach; which, as every journey is a kind
of adventure, may be very properly related to you, though I can
display no such extraordinary assembly as CERVANTES has collected at

In a stage coach the passengers are for the most part wholly unknown
to one another, and without expectation of ever meeting again when
their journey is at an end; one should, therefore, imagine, that it
was of little importance to any of them, what conjectures the rest
should form concerning him. Yet so it is, that as all think themselves
secure from detection, all assume that character of which they are
most desirous, and on no occasion is the general ambition of
superiority more apparently indulged.

On the day of our departure, in the twilight of the morning, I
ascended the vehicle with three men and two women, my fellow
travellers. It was easy to observe the affected elevation of mien with
which every one entered, and the supercilious civility with which they
paid their compliments to each other. When the first ceremony was
dispatched, we sat silent for a long time, all employed in collecting
importance into our faces, and endeavouring to strike reverence and
submission into our companions.

It is always observable that silence propagates itself, and that the
longer talk has been suspended, the more difficult it is to find any
thing to say. We began now to wish for conversation; but no one seemed
inclined to descend from his dignity, or first to propose a topic of
discourse. At last a corpulent gentleman, who had equipped himself for
this expedition with a scarlet surtout and a large hat with a broad
lace, drew out his watch, looked on it in silence, and then held it
dangling at his finger. This was, I suppose, understood by all the
company as an invitation to ask the time of the day, but no body
appeared to heed his overture; and his desire to be talking so far
overcame his resentment, that he let us know of his own accord that it
was past five, and that in two hours we should be at breakfast.

His condescension was thrown away; we continued all obdurate; the
ladies held up their heads; I amused myself with watching their
behaviour; and of the other two, one seemed to employ himself in
counting the trees as we drove by them, the other drew his hat over
his eyes and counterfeited a slumber. The man of benevolence, to shew
that he was not depressed by our neglect, hummed a tune and beat time
upon his snuff-box.

Thus universally displeased with one another, and not much delighted
with ourselves, we came at last to the little inn appointed for our
repast; and all began at once to recompense themselves for the
constraint of silence, by innumerable questions and orders to the
people that attended us. At last, what every one had called for was
got, or declared impossible to be got at that time, and we were
persuaded to sit round the same table; when the gentleman in the red
surtout looked again upon his watch, told us that we had half an hour
to spare, but he was sorry to see so little merriment among us; that
all fellow travellers were for the time upon the level, and that it
was always his way to make himself one of the company. "I remember,"
says he, "it was on just such a morning as this, that I and my lord
Mumble and the duke of Tenterden were out upon a ramble: we called at
a little house as it might be this; and my landlady, I warrant you,
not suspecting to whom she was talking, was so jocular and facetious,
and made so many merry answers to our questions, that we were all
ready to burst with laughter. At last the good woman happening to
overhear me whisper the duke and call him by his title, was so
surprised and confounded that we could scarcely get a word from her;
and the duke never met me from that day to this, but he talks of the
little house, and quarrels with me for terrifying the landlady."

He had scarcely had time to congratulate himself on the veneration
which this narrative must have procured him from the company, when one
of the ladies having reached out for a plate on a distant part of the
table, began to remark the inconveniences of travelling, and the
difficulty which they who never sat at home without a great number of
attendants found in performing for themselves such offices as the road
required; but that people of quality often travelled in disguise, and
might be generally known from the vulgar by their condescension to
poor inn-keepers, and the allowance which they made for any defect in
their entertainment; that for her part, while people were civil and
meant well, it was never her custom to find fault, for one was not to
expect upon a journey all that one enjoyed at one's own house.

A General emulation seemed now to be excited. One of the men, who had
hitherto said nothing, called for the last news paper; and having
perused it a-while with deep pensiveness, "It is impossible," says he,
"for any man to guess how to act with regard to the stocks: last week
it was the general opinion that they would fall; and I sold out twenty
thousand pounds in order to a purchase: they have now risen
unexpectedly; and I make no doubt but at my return to London I shall
risk thirty thousand pounds amongst them again."

A young man, who had hitherto distinguished himself only by the
vivacity of his look, and a frequent diversion of his eyes from one
object to another, upon this closed his snuff-box, and told us that
"he had a hundred times talked with the chancellor and the judges on
the subject of the stocks; that for his part he did not pretend to be
well acquainted with the principles on which they were established,
but had always heard them reckoned pernicious to trade, uncertain in
their produce, and unsolid in their foundation; and that he had been
advised by three judges his most intimate friends, never to venture
his money in the funds, but to put it out upon land security, till he
could light upon an estate in his own country."

It might be expected that upon these glimpses of latent dignity, we
should all have began to look round us with veneration; and have
behaved like the princes of romance, when the enchantment that
disguises them is dissolved, and they discover the dignity of each
other: yet it happened, that none of these hints made much impression
on the company; every one was apparently suspected of endeavouring to
impose false appearances upon the rest; all continued their
haughtiness, in hopes to enforce their claims; and all grew every hour
more sullen, because they found their representations of themselves
without effect.

Thus we travelled on four days with malevolence perpetually
increasing, and without any endeavour but to outvie each other in
superciliousness and neglect; and when any two of us could separate
ourselves for a moment, we vented our indignation at the sauciness of
the rest.

At length the journey was at an end; and time and chance, that strip
off all disguises, have discovered, that the intimate of lords and
dukes is a nobleman's butler, who has furnished a shop with the money
he has saved; the man who deals so largely in the funds, is the clerk
of a broker in 'Change-alley; the lady who so carefully concealed her
quality, keeps a cook-shop behind the Exchange; and the young man, who
is so happy in the friendship of the judges, engrosses and transcribes
for bread in a garret of the Temple. Of one of the women only I could
make no disadvantageous detection, because she had assumed no
character, but accommodated herself to the scene before her, without
any struggle for distinction or superiority.

I could not forbear to reflect on the folly of practising a fraud,
which, as the event shewed, had been already practised too often to
succeed, and by the success of which no advantage could have been
obtained; of assuming a character, which was to end with the day; and
of claiming upon false pretences honours which must perish with the
breath that paid them.

But, MR. ADVENTURER, let not those who laugh at me and my companions,
think this folly confined to a stage coach. Every man in the journey
of life takes the same advantage of the ignorance of his fellow
travellers, disguises himself in counterfeited merit, and hears those
praises with complacency which his conscience reproaches him for
accepting. Every man deceives himself, while he thinks he is deceiving
others; and forgets that the time is at hand when every illusion shall
cease, when fictitious excellence shall be torn away, and ALL must be
shown to ALL in their real estate.

                                I am, Sir,
                                    Your humble Servant,

    _Samuel Johnson._


    To _The Rambler_.


Though one of your correspondents has presumed to mention with some
contempt that presence of attention and easiness of address, which the
polite have long agreed to celebrate and esteem, yet I cannot be
persuaded to think them unworthy of regard or cultivation; but am
inclined to believe that as we seldom value rightly what we have never
known the misery of wanting, his judgment has been vitiated by his
happiness; and that a natural exuberance of assurance has hindered him
from discovering its excellence and use.

This felicity, whether bestowed by constitution, or obtained by early
habitudes, I can scarcely contemplate without envy. I was bred under a
man of learning in the country, who inculcated nothing but the dignity
of knowledge and the happiness of virtue. By frequency of admonition
and confidence of assertion, he prevailed upon me to believe that the
splendour of literature would always attract reverence, if not
darkened by corruption. I therefore pursued my studies with incessant
industry, and avoided everything which I had been taught to consider
either as vicious or tending to vice, because I regarded guilt and
reproach as inseparably united, and thought a tainted reputation the
greatest calamity.

At the university I found no reason for changing my opinion; for
though many among my fellow-students took the opportunity of a more
remiss discipline to gratify their passions, yet virtue preserved her
natural superiority, and those who ventured to neglect, were not
suffered to insult her. The ambition of petty accomplishments found
its way into the receptacles of learning, but was observed to seize
commonly on those who either neglected the sciences or could not
attain them; and I was therefore confirmed in the doctrines of my old
master, and thought nothing worthy of my care but the means of gaining
and imparting knowledge.

This purity of manners and intenseness of application soon extended my
renown, and I was applauded by those whose opinion I then thought
unlikely to deceive me, as a young man that gave uncommon hopes of
future eminence. My performances in time reached my native province,
and my relations congratulated themselves upon the new honours that
were added to their family.

I returned home covered with academical laurels, and fraught with
criticism and philosophy. The wit and the scholar excited curiosity,
and my acquaintance was solicited by innumerable invitations. To
please will always be the wish of benevolence, to be admired must be
the constant aim of ambition; and I therefore considered myself as
about to receive the reward of my honest labours, and to find the
efficacy of learning and of virtue.

The third day after my arrival I dined at the house of a gentleman who
had summoned a multitude of his friends to the annual celebration of
his wedding day. I set forward with great exultation, and thought
myself happy that I had an opportunity of displaying my knowledge to
so numerous an assembly. I felt no sense of my own insufficiency, till
going upstairs to the dining-room, I heard the mingled roar of
obstreperous merriment. I was, however disgusted rather than
terrified, and went forward without dejection. The whole company rose
at my entrance; and when I saw so many eyes fixed at once upon me, I
was blasted with a sudden imbecility; I was quelled by some nameless
power which I found impossible to be resisted. My sight was dazzled,
my cheeks glowed, my perceptions were confounded; I was harassed by
the multitude of eager salutations, and returned the common civilities
with hesitation and impropriety; the sense of my own blunders
increased my confusion, and before the exchange of ceremonies allowed
me to sit down, I was ready to sink under the oppression of surprise;
my voice grew weak, and my knees trembled.

The assembly then resumed their places, and I sat with my eyes fixed
upon the ground. To the questions of curiosity, or the appeals of
complaisance, I could seldom answer but with negative monosyllables,
or professions of ignorance; for the subjects on which they conversed
were such as are seldom discussed in books, and were therefore out of
my range of knowledge. At length an old clergyman, who rightly
conjectured the reason of my conciseness, relieved me by some
questions about the present state of natural knowledge, and engaged
me, by an appearance of doubt and opposition, in the explication and
defence of the Newtonian philosophy.

The consciousness of my own abilities roused me from depression, and
long familiarity with my subject enabled me to discourse with ease and
volubility; but however I might please myself, I found very little
added by my demonstrations to the satisfaction of the company; and my
antagonist, who knew the laws of conversation too well to detain their
attention long upon an unpleasing topic, after he had commended my
acuteness and comprehension, dismissed the controversy, and resigned
me to my former insignificance and perplexity.

After dinner I received from the ladies, who had heard that I was a
wit, an invitation to the tea table. I congratulated myself upon an
opportunity to escape from the company, whose gaiety began to be
tumultuous, and among whom several hints had been dropped of the
uselessness of universities, the folly of book learning, and the
awkwardness of scholars. To the ladies, therefore, I flew as to a
refuge from clamour, insult and rusticity; but found my heart sink as
I approached their apartment, and was again disconcerted by the
ceremonies of entrance, and confounded by the necessity of
encountering so many eyes at once.

When I sat down I considered that something pretty was always said to
ladies, and resolved to recover my credit by some elegant observation
or graceful compliment. I applied myself to the recollection of all I
had read or heard in praise of beauty, and endeavoured to accommodate
some classical compliment to the present occasion. I sunk into
profound meditation, revolved the character of the heroines of old,
considered whatever the poets have sung in their praise, and after
having borrowed and invented, chosen and rejected a thousand
sentiments, which, if I had uttered them, would not have been
understood, I was awakened from my dream of learned gallantry by the
servant who distributed the tea.

There are not many situations more incessantly uneasy than that in
which the man is placed who is watching an opportunity to speak
without courage to take it when it is offered, and who, though he
resolves to give a specimen of his abilities, always finds some reason
or other for delaying it to the next minute. I was ashamed of silence,
yet could find nothing to say of elegance or importance equal to my
wishes. The ladies, afraid of my learning, thought themselves not
qualified to propose any subject to prattle to a man so famous for
dispute, and there was nothing on either side but impatience and

In this conflict of shame, as I was reassembling my scattered
sentiments, and, resolving to force my imagination to some sprightly
sally, had just found a very happy compliment, by too much attention
to my own meditations, I suffered the saucer to drop from my hand, the
cup was broken, the lapdog was scalded, a brocaded petticoat was
stained, and the whole assembly was thrown into disorder. I now
considered all hopes of reputation as at an end, and while they were
consoling and assisting one another, stole away in silence.

The misadventures of this happy day are not yet at an end; I am afraid
of meeting the meanest of them that triumphed over me in this state of
stupidity and contempt, and feel the same terrors encroaching upon my
heart at the sight of those who have once impressed them. Shame, above
any other passion, propagates itself. Before those who have seen me
confused I can never appear without new confusion, and the remembrance
of the weakness which I formerly discovered hinders me from acting or
speaking with my natural force.

But is this misery, Mr. Rambler, never to cease? Have I spent my life
in study only to become the sport of the ignorant, and debarred myself
from all the common enjoyments of youth to collect ideas which must
sleep in silence, and form opinions which I must not divulge? Inform
me, dear sir, by what means I may rescue my faculties from these
shackles of cowardice, how I may rise to a level with my fellow
beings, recall myself from this languor of involuntary subjection to
the free exertion of my intellects, and add to the power of reasoning
the liberty of speech.

                            I am, sir, etc.,

    _Samuel Johnson._


    To _The Rambler_.


I am no great admirer of grave writings, and therefore very frequently
lay your papers aside before I have read them through; yet I cannot
but confess that, by slow degrees, you have raised my opinion of your
understanding, and that, though I believe it will be long before I can
be prevailed upon to regard you with much kindness, you have, however,
more of my esteem than those whom I sometimes make happy with
opportunities to fill my teapot, or pick up my fan. I shall therefore
choose you for the confident of my distresses, and ask your counsel
with regard to the means of conquering or escaping them, though I
never expect from you any of that softness and pliancy which
constitutes the perfection of a companion for the ladies: as, in the
place where I now am, I have recourse to the mastiff for protection,
though I have no intention of making him a lapdog.

My mamma is a very fine lady, who has more numerous and more frequent
assemblies at our house than any other person in the same quarter of
the town. I was bred from my earliest infancy to a perpetual tumult of
pleasure, and remember to have heard of little else than messages,
visits, playhouses, and balls; of the awkwardness of one woman, and
the coquetry of another; the charming convenience of some rising
fashion, the difficulty of playing a new game, the incidents of a
masquerade, and the dresses of a court night. I knew before I was ten
years old all the rules of paying and receiving visits, and to how
much civility every one of my acquaintance was entitled: and was able
to return, with the proper degree of reserve or vivacity, the stated
and established answer to every compliment; so that I was very soon
celebrated as a wit and a beauty, and had heard before I was thirteen
all that is ever said to a young lady. My mother was generous to so
uncommon a degree as to be pleased with my advance into life, and
allowed me, without envy or reproof, to enjoy the same happiness with
herself; though most women about her own age were very angry to see
young girls so forward, and many fine gentlemen told her how cruel it
was to throw new claims upon mankind, and to tyrannize over them at
the same time with her own charms and those of her daughter.

I have now lived two and twenty years, and have passed of each year
nine months in town, and three at Richmond; so that my time has been
spent uniformly in the same company and the same amusements, except as
fashion has introduced new diversions, or the revolutions of the gay
world have afforded new successions of wits and beaux. However, my
mother is so good an economist of pleasure that I have no spare hours
upon my hands; for every morning brings some new appointment, and
every night is hurried away by the necessity of making our appearance
at different places, and of being with one lady at the opera, and with
another at the card-table.

When the time came of settling our scheme of felicity for the summer,
it was determined that I should pay a visit to a rich aunt in a remote
county. As you know the chief conversation of all tea-tables, in the
spring, arises from a communication of the manner in which time is to
be passed till winter, it was a great relief to the barrenness of our
topics to relate the pleasures that were in store for me, to describe
my uncle's seat, with the park and gardens, the charming walks and
beautiful waterfalls; and everyone told me how much she envied me, and
what satisfaction she had once enjoyed in a situation of the same

As we are all credulous in our own favour, and willing to imagine some
latent satisfaction in any thing which we have not experienced, I will
confess to you, without restraint, that I had suffered my head to be
filled with expectations of some nameless pleasure in a rural life,
and that I hoped for the happy hour that should set me free from
noise, and flutter, and ceremony, dismiss me to the peaceful shade,
and lull me in content and tranquility. To solace myself under the
misery of delay, I sometimes heard a studious lady of my acquaintance
read pastorals, I was delighted with scarce any talk but of leaving
the town, and never went to bed without dreaming of groves, and
meadows, and frisking lambs.

At length I had all my clothes in a trunk, and saw the coach at the
door; I sprung in with ecstasy, quarreled with my maid for being too
long in taking leave of the other servants, and rejoiced as the ground
grew less which lay between me and the completion of my wishes. A few
days brought me to a large old house, encompassed on three sides with
woody hills, and looking from the front on a gentle river, the sight
of which renewed all my expectations of pleasure, and gave me some
regret for having lived so long without the enjoyment which these
delightful scenes were now to afford me. My aunt came out to receive
me, but in a dress so far removed from the present fashion that I
could scarcely look upon her without laughter, which would have been
no kind requital for the trouble which she had taken to make herself
fine against my arrival. The night and the next morning were driven
along with inquiries about our family; my aunt then explained our
pedigree, and told me stories of my great grandfather's bravery in the
civil wars; nor was it less than three days before I could persuade
her to leave me to myself.

At last economy prevailed; she went in the usual manner about her own
affairs, and I was at liberty to range in the wilderness, and sit by
the cascade. The novelty of the objects about me pleased me for a
while, but after a few days they were new no longer, and I soon began
to perceive that the country was not my element; that shades, and
flowers, and lawns, and waters had very soon exhausted all their power
of pleasing, and that I had not in myself any fund of satisfaction
with which I could supply the loss of my customary amusements.

I unhappily told my aunt, in the first warmth of our embraces, that I
had leave to stay with her ten weeks. Six only are yet gone, and how
shall I live through the remaining four? I go out and return; I pluck
a flower, and throw it away; I catch an insect, and when I have
examined its colours, set it at liberty; I fling a pebble into the
water, and see one circle spread after another. When it chances to
rain I walk in the great hall, and watch the minute-hand upon the
dial, or play with a litter of kittens which the cat happens to have
brought in a lucky time.

My aunt is afraid I shall grow melancholy, and therefore encourages
the neighbouring gentry to visit us. They came at first with great
eagerness to see the fine lady from London, but when we met we had no
common topic on which we could converse; they had no curiosity after
plays, operas, or music; and I find as little satisfaction from their
accounts of the quarrels or alliances of families, whose names, when
once I can escape, I shall never hear. The women have now seen me,
know how my gown is made, and are satisfied; the men are generally
afraid of me, and say little, because they think themselves not at
liberty to talk rudely.

Thus am I condemned to solitude; the day moves slowly forward, and I
see the dawn with uneasiness, because I consider that night is at a
great distance. I have tried to sleep by a brook, but find its murmurs
ineffectual; so that I am forced to be awake at least twelve hours,
without visits, without cards, without laughter, and without flattery.
I walk because I am disgusted with sitting still, and sit down because
I am weary with walking. I have no motive to action, nor any object of
love, or hate, or fear, or inclination. I cannot dress with spirit,
for I have neither rival nor admirer. I cannot dance without a
partner, nor be kind, or cruel, without a lover.

Such is the life of Euphelia, and such it is likely to continue for a
month to come. I have not yet declared against existence, nor called
upon the destinies to cut my thread; but I have sincerely resolved not
to condemn myself to such another summer, nor too hastily to flatter
myself with happiness. Yet I have heard, Mr. Rambler, of those who
never thought themselves so much at ease as in solitude, and cannot
but suspect it to be some way or other my own fault, that, without
great pain, either of mind or body, I am thus weary of myself: that
the current of youth stagnates, and that I am languishing in a dead
calm for want of some external impulse. I shall, therefore, think you
a benefactor to our sex, if you will teach me the art of living alone;
for I am confident that a thousand and a thousand and a thousand
ladies, who affect to talk with ecstasies of the pleasures of the
country, are, in reality, like me, longing for the winter, and wishing
to be delivered from themselves by company and diversion.

                                I am, sir, yours,

    _Samuel Johnson._


    To _The Rambler_.


As I have passed much of life in disquiet and suspense, and lost many
opportunities of advantage by a passion which I have reason to believe
prevalent in different degrees over a great part of mankind, I cannot
but think myself well qualified to warn those, who are yet
uncaptivated of the danger which they incur by placing themselves
within its influence.

I served an apprenticeship to a linen-draper, with uncommon reputation
for diligence and fidelity; and at the age of three-and-twenty opened
a shop for myself with a large stock, and such credit among all the
merchants, who were acquainted with my master, that I could command
whatever was imported curious or valuable. For five years I proceeded
with success proportionate to close application and untainted
integrity; was a daring bidder at every sale; always paid my notes
before they were due; and advanced so fast in commercial reputation
that I was proverbially marked out as the model of young traders, and
every one expected that a few years would make me an alderman.

In this course of even propensity, I was one day persuaded to buy a
ticket in the lottery. The sum was inconsiderable, part was to be
repaid though fortune might fail to favour me, and therefore my
established maxims of frugality did not restrain me from so trifling
an experiment. The ticket lay almost forgotten till the time at which
every man's fate was to be determined; nor did the affairs even then
seem of any importance, till I discovered by the public papers that
the number next to mine had conferred the great prize.

My heart leaped at the thoughts of such an approach of sudden riches,
which I considered myself, however contrarily to the laws of
computation, as having missed by a single chance; and I could not
forbear to revolve the consequences which such a bounteous allotment
would have produced, if it had happened to me. This dream of felicity,
by degrees, took possession of my imagination. The great delight of my
solitary hours was to purchase an estate, and form plantations with
money which once might have been mine, and I never met my friends but
I spoiled their merriment by perpetual complaints of my ill luck.

At length another lottery was opened, and I had now so heated my
imagination with the prospect of a prize, that I should have pressed
among the first purchasers, had not my ardour been withheld by
deliberation upon the probability of success from one ticket rather
than another. I hesitated long between even and off; considered the
square and cubic numbers through the lottery; examined all those to
which good luck had been hitherto annexed; and at last fixed upon one,
which, by some secret relation to the events of my life, I thought
predestined to make me happy. Delay in great affairs is often
mischievous; the ticket was sold, and its possessor could not be

I returned to my conjectures, and after many arts of prognostication,
fixed upon another chance, but with less confidence. Never did
captive, heir, or lover, feel so much vexation from the slow pace of
time, as I suffered between the purchase of my ticket and the
distribution of the prizes. I solaced my uneasiness as well as I
could, by frequent contemplations of approaching happiness; when the
sun arose I knew it would set, and congratulated myself at night that
I was so much nearer to my wishes. At last the day came, my ticket
appeared, and rewarded all my care and sagacity with a despicable
prize of fifty pounds.

My friends, who honestly rejoiced upon my success, were very coldly
received; I hid myself a fortnight in the country, that my chagrin
might fume away without observation, and then returning to my shop,
began to listen after another lottery.

With the news of a lottery I was soon gratified, and having now found
the vanity of conjecture and inefficacy of computation, I resolved to
take the prize by violence, and therefore bought forty tickets, not
omitting, however, to divide them between the even and odd numbers,
that I might not miss the lucky class. Many conclusions did I form,
and many experiments did I try to determine from which of those
tickets I might most reasonably expect riches. At last, being unable
to satisfy myself by any modes of reasoning, I wrote the numbers upon
dice, and allotted five hours every day to the amusement of throwing
them in a garret; and examining the event by an exact register, found,
on the evening before the lottery was drawn, that one of my numbers
had been turned up five times more than any of the rest in three
hundred and thirty thousand throws.

This experiment was fallacious; the first day presented the hopeful
ticket, a detestable blank. The rest came out with different fortune,
and in conclusion I lost thirty pounds by this great adventure.

I had now wholly changed the cast of my behaviour and the conduct of
my life. The shop was for the most part abandoned to my servants, and
if I entered it, my thoughts were so engrossed by my tickets that I
scarcely heard or answered a question, but considered every customer
as an intruder upon my meditations, whom I was in haste to dispatch. I
mistook the price of my goods, committed blunders in my bills, forgot
to file my receipts, and neglected to regulate my books. My
acquaintances by degrees began to fall away; but I perceived the
decline of my business with little emotion, because whatever
deficience there might be in my gains I expected the next lottery to

Miscarriage naturally produced diffidence; I began now to seek
assistance against ill luck, by an alliance with those that had been
more successful. I inquired diligently at what office any prize had
been sold, that I might purchase of a propitious vender; solicited
those who had been fortunate in former lotteries, to partake with me
in my new tickets, and whenever I met with one that had in any event
of his life been eminently prosperous, I invited him to take a larger
share. I had, by this rule of conduct, so diffused my interest, that I
had a fourth part of fifteen tickets, an eighth of forty, and a
sixteenth of ninety.

I waited for the decision of my fate with my former palpitations, and
looked upon the business of my trade with the usual neglect. The wheel
at last was turned, and its revolutions brought me a long succession
of sorrows and disappointments. I indeed often partook of a small
prize, and the loss of one day was generally balanced by the gain of
the next; but my desires yet remained unsatisfied, and when one of my
chances had failed, all my expectation was suspended on those which
remained yet undetermined. At last a prize of five thousand pounds was
proclaimed; I caught fire at the cry, and inquiring the number, found
it to be one of my own tickets, which I had divided among those on
whose luck I depended, and of which I had retained only a sixteenth

You will easily judge with what detestation of himself a man thus
intent upon gain reflected that he had sold a prize which was once in
his possession. It was to no purpose that I represented to my mind the
impossibility of recalling the past, or the folly of condemning an
act, which only its event, an event which no human intelligence could
foresee, proved to be wrong. The prize which, though put in my hands,
had been suffered to slip from me, filled me with anguish; and knowing
that complaint would only expose me to ridicule, I gave myself up
silently to grief, and lost by degrees my appetite and my rest.

My indisposition soon became visible: I was visited by my friends, and
among them by Eumathes, a clergyman, whose piety and learning gave him
such an ascendant over me that I could not refuse to open my heart.
There are, said he, few minds sufficiently firm to be trusted in the
hands of chance. Whoever finds himself inclined to anticipate
futurity, and exalt possibility to certainty, should avoid every kind
of casual adventure, since his grief must be always proportionate to
his hope. You have long wasted that time which, by a proper
application, would have certainly, though moderately, increased your
fortune, in a laborious and anxious pursuit of a species of gain which
no labour or anxiety, no art or expedient, can secure or promote. You
are now fretting away your life in repentance of an act against which
repentance can give no caution but to avoid the occasion of committing
it. Rouse from this lazy dream of fortuitous riches, which if
obtained, you could scarcely have enjoyed, because they could confer
no consciousness of desert; return to rational and manly industry, and
consider the mere gift of luck as below the care of a wise man.

    _Samuel Johnson._


In Mr. Lamb's "Works," published a year or two since, I find a
magnificent eulogy on my old school,[6] such as it was, or now appears
to him to have been, between the years 1782 and 1789. It happens, very
oddly, that my own standing at Christ's was nearly corresponding with
his; and, with all gratitude to him for his enthusiasm for the
cloisters, I think he has contrived to bring together whatever can be
said in praise of them, dropping all the other side of the argument
most ingeniously.

[Footnote 6: Recollections of Christ's Hospital.]

I remember L. at school; and can well recollect that he had some
peculiar advantages, which I and others of his schoolfellows had not.
His friends lived in town, and were near at hand; and he had the
privilege of going to see them, almost as often as he wished, through
some invidious distinction, which was denied to us. The present worthy
sub-treasurer to the Inner Temple can explain how that happened. He
had his tea and hot rolls in a morning, while we were battening upon
our quarter of a penny loaf--our _crug_--moistened with attenuated
small beer, in wooden piggins, smacking of the pitched leathern jack
it was poured from. Our Monday's milk porritch, blue and tasteless,
and the pease soup of Saturday, coarse and choking, were enriched for
him with a slice of "extraordinary bread and butter," from the
hot-loaf of the Temple. The Wednesday's mess of millet, somewhat less
repugnant--(we had three banyan to four meat days in the week)--was
endeared to his palate with a lump of double-refined, and a smack of
ginger (to make it go down the more glibly) or the fragrant cinnamon.
In lieu of our _half-pickled_ Sundays, or _quite fresh_ boiled beef on
Thursdays (strong as _caro equina_), with detestable marigolds
floating in the pail to poison the broth--our scanty mutton crags on
Fridays--and rather more savoury, but grudging, portions of the same
flesh, rotten-roasted or rare, on the Tuesdays (the only dish which
excited our appetites, and disappointed our stomachs, in almost equal
proportion)--he had his hot plate of roast veal, or the more tempting
griskin (exotics unknown to our palates), cooked in the paternal
kitchen (a great thing), and brought him daily by his maid or aunt! I
remember the good old relative (in whom love forbade pride) squatting
down upon some odd stone in a by-nook of the cloisters, disclosing the
viands (of higher regale than those cates which the ravens ministered
to the Tishbite); and the contending passions of L. at the unfolding.
There was love for the bringer; shame for the thing brought, and the
manner of its bringing; sympathy for those who were too many to share
in it; and, at top of all, hunger (eldest, strongest of the passions!)
predominant, breaking down the stony fences of shame, and awkwardness,
and a troubling over-consciousness.

I was a poor friendless boy. My parents, and those who should care for
me, were far away. Those few acquaintances of theirs, which they could
reckon upon being kind to me in the great city, after a little forced
notice, which they had the grace to take of me on my first arrival in
town, soon grew tired of my holiday visits. They seemed to them to
recur too often, though I thought them few enough; and, one after
another, they all failed me, and I felt myself alone among six hundred

O the cruelty of separating a poor lad from his early homestead! The
yearnings which I used to have towards it in those unfledged years!
How, in my dreams, would my native town (far in the west) come back,
with its church, and trees, and faces! How I would wake weeping, and
in the anguish of my heart exclaim upon sweet Calne in Wiltshire!

To this late hour of my life, I trace impressions left by the
recollection of those friendless holidays. The long warm days of
summer never return but they bring with them a gloom from the haunting
memory of those _whole-day-leaves_, when, by some strange arrangement,
we were turned out, for the live-long day, upon our own hands, whether
we had friends to go to, or none. I remember those bathing excursions
to the New River, which L. recalls with such relish, better, I think,
than he can--for he was a home-seeking lad, and did not much care for
such water-pastimes:--How merrily we would sally forth into the
fields; and strip under the first warmth of the sun; and wanton like
young dace in the streams; getting us appetites for noon, which those
of us that were penniless (our scanty morning crust long since
exhausted) had not the means of allaying--while the cattle, and the
birds, and the fishes, were at feed about us, and we had nothing to
satisfy our cravings--the very beauty of the day, and the exercise of
the pastime, and the sense of liberty, setting a keener edge upon
them!--How faint and languid, finally we would return, towards
nightfall, to our desired morsel, half-rejoicing, half-reluctant, that
the hours of our uneasy liberty had expired!

It was worse in the days of winter, to go prowling about the streets
objectless--shivering at cold windows of print-shops, to extract a
little amusement; or haply, as a last resort, in the hope of a little
novelty, to pay a fifty-times repeated visit (where our individual
faces should be as well known to the warden as those of his own
charges) to the Lions in the Tower--to whose levée, by courtesy
immemorial, we had a prescriptive title to admission.

L.'s governor (so we called the patron who presented us to the
foundation) lived in a manner under his paternal roof. Any complaint
which he had to make was sure of being attended to. This was
understood at Christ's, and was an effectual screen to him against the
severity of masters, or worse tyranny of the monitors. The oppressions
of these young brutes are heart-sickening to call to recollection. I
have been called out of my bed, and _waked for the purpose_, in the
coldest winter nights--and this not once, but night after night--in my
shirt, to receive the discipline of a leathern thong, with eleven
other sufferers, because it pleased my callow overseer, when there has
been any talking heard after we were gone to bed, to make the six last
beds in the dormitory, where the youngest children of us slept,
answerable for an offence they neither dared to commit, nor had the
power to hinder.--The same execrable tyranny drove the younger part of
us from the fires, when our feet were perishing with snow; and under
the cruellest penalties, forbade the indulgence of a drink of water,
when we lay in sleepless summer nights, fevered with the season, and
the day's sports.

There was one H----,[7] who, I learned, in after days, was seen
expiating some maturer offence in the hulks. (Do I flatter myself in
fancying that this might be the planter of that name, who suffered--at
Nevis, I think, or St. Kitts,--some few years since? My friend Tobin
was the benevolent instrument of bringing him to the gallows.) This
petty Nero actually branded a boy, who had offended him, with a
red-hot iron; and nearly starved forty of us, with exacting
contributions, to the one half of our bread, to pamper a young ass,
which, incredible as it may seem, with the connivance of the nurse's
daughter (a young flame of his) he had contrived to smuggle in, and
keep upon the leads of the _ward_, as they called our dormitories.
This game went on for better than a week, till the foolish beast, not
able to fare well but he must cry roast meat--happier than Caligula's
minion, could he have kept his own counsel--but, foolisher, alas! than
any of his species in the fables--waxing fat, and kicking, in the
fulness of bread, one unlucky minute would needs proclaim his good
fortune to the world below; and, laying out his simple throat, blew
such a ram's horn blast, as (toppling down the walls of his own
Jericho) set concealment any longer at defiance. The client was
dismissed, with certain attentions, to Smithfield; but I never
understood that the patron underwent any censure on the occasion. This
was in the stewardship of L.'s admired Perry.

[Footnote 7: Hodges.]

Under the same _facile_ administration, can L. have forgotten the cool
impunity with which the nurses used to carry away openly, in open
platters, for their own tables, one out of two of every hot joint,
which the careful matron had been seeing scrupulously weighed out for
our dinners? These things were daily practised in that magnificent
apartment, which L. (grown connoisseur since, we presume) praises so
highly for the grand paintings "by Verrio, and others," with which it
is "hung round and adorned." But the sight of sleek, well-fed
blue-coat boys in pictures was, at that time, I believe, little
consolatory to him, or us, the living ones, who saw the better part of
our provisions carried away before our faces by harpies; and ourselves
reduced (with the Trojan in the hall of Dido)

    "To feed our mind with idle portraiture."

L. has recorded the repugnance of the school to _gags_, or the fat of
fresh beef boiled; and sets it down to some superstition. But these
unctuous morsels are never grateful to young palates (children are
universally fat-haters) and in strong, coarse, boiled meats,
_unsalted_, are detestable. A _gag-eater_ in our time was equivalent
to a _goul_, and held in equal detestation. ---- suffered under the

          "----'Twas said,
    He ate strange flesh."

He was observed, after dinner, carefully to gather up the remnants
left at his table (not many, nor very choice fragments, you may credit
me)--and, in an especial manner, these disreputable morsels, which he
would convey away, and secretly stow in the settle that stood at his
bed-side. None saw when he ate them. It was rumoured that he privately
devoured them in the night. He was watched, but no traces of such
midnight practices were discoverable. Some reported, that, on
leave-days, he had been seen to carry out of the bounds a large blue
check handkerchief, full of something. This then must be the accursed
thing. Conjecture next was at work to imagine how he could dispose of
it. Some said he sold it to the beggars. This belief generally
prevailed. He went about moping. None spake to him. No one would play
with him. He was excommunicated; put out of the pale of the school. He
was too powerful a boy to be beaten, but he underwent every mode of
that negative punishment, which is more grievous than many stripes.
Still he persevered. At length he was observed by two of his
school-fellows, who were determined to get at the secret, and had
traced him one leave-day for that purpose, to enter a large worn-out
building, such as there exist specimens of in Chancery Lane, which are
let out to various scales of pauperism with open door, and a common
staircase. After him they silently slunk in, and followed by stealth
up four flights, and saw him tap at a poor wicket, which was opened by
an aged woman, meanly clad. Suspicion was now ripened into certainty.
The informers had secured their victim. They had him in their toils.
Accusation was formally preferred, and retribution most signal was
looked for. Mr. Hathaway, the then steward (for this happened a little
after my time), with that patient sagacity which tempered all his
conduct, determined to investigate the matter, before he proceeded to
sentence. The result was, that the supposed mendicants, the receivers
or purchasers of the mysterious scraps, turned out to be the parents
of ----, an honest couple come to decay,--whom this seasonable supply
had, in all probability, saved from mendicancy; and that this young
stork, at the expense of his own good name, had all this while been
only feeding the old birds!--The governors on this occasion, much to
their honour, voted a present relief to the family of ----, and
presented him with a silver medal. The lesson which the steward read
upon RASH JUDGMENT, on the occasion of publicly delivering the medal
to ----, I believe, would not be lost upon his auditory.--I had left
school then, but I well remember ----. He was a tall, shambling youth,
with a cast in his eye, not at all calculated to conciliate hostile
prejudices. I have since seen him carrying a baker's basket. I think I
heard he did not do quite so well by himself, as he had done by the
old folks.

I was a hypochondriac lad; and the sight of a boy in fetters, upon the
day of my first putting on the blue clothes, was not exactly fitted to
assuage the natural terrors of initiation. I was of tender years,
barely turned of seven; and had only read of such things in books, or
seen them but in dreams. I was told he had _run away_. This was the
punishment for the first offence.--As a novice I was soon after taken
to see the dungeons. These were little, square, Bedlam cells, where a
boy could just lie at his length upon straw and a blanket--a mattress,
I think, was afterwards substituted--with a peep of light, let in
askance, from a prison-orifice at top, barely enough to read by. Here
the poor boy was locked in by himself all day, without sight of any
but the porter who brought him his bread and water--who _might not
speak to him_;--or of the beadle, who came twice a week to call him
out to receive his periodical chastisement, which was almost welcome,
because it separated him for a brief interval from solitude:--and here
he was shut up by himself _by nights_, out of the reach of any sound,
to suffer whatever horrors the weak nerves, and superstition incident
to his time of life, might subject him to.[8] This was the penalty for
the second offence.--Wouldst thou like, reader, to see what became of
him in the next degree?

[Footnote 8: One or two instances of lunacy, or attempted suicide,
accordingly, at length convinced the governors of the impolicy of this
part of the sentence, and the midnight torture to the spirits was
dispensed with.--This fancy of dungeons for children was a sprout of
Howard's brain; for which (saving the reverence due to Holy Paul),
methinks, I could willingly spit upon his statue.]

The culprit, who had been a third time an offender, and whose
expulsion was at this time deemed irreversible, was brought forth, as
at some solemn _auto da fe_, arrayed in uncouth and most appalling
attire--all trace of his late "watchet weeds" carefully effaced, he
was exposed in a jacket, resembling those which London lamplighters
formerly delighted in, with a cap of the same. The effect of this
divestiture was such as the ingenious devisers of it could have
anticipated. With his pale and frighted features, it was as if some of
those disfigurements in Dante had seized upon him. In this
disguisement he was brought into the hall (_L.'s favourite
state-room_), where awaited him the whole number of his schoolfellows,
whose joint lessons and sports he was thenceforward to share no more;
the awful presence of the steward, to be seen for the last time; of
the executioner beadle, clad in his state robe for the occasion; and
of two faces more, of direr import, because never but in these
extremities visible. These were governors; two of whom, by choice, or
charter, were always accustomed to officiate at these _Ultima
Supplicia_; not to mitigate (so at least we understood it), but to
enforce the uttermost stripe. Old Bamber Gascoigne, and Peter Aubert,
I remember, were colleagues on one occasion, when the beadle turning
rather pale, a glass of brandy was ordered to prepare him for the
mysteries. The scourging was, after the old Roman fashion, long and
stately. The lictor accompanied the criminal quite round the hall. We
were generally too faint with attending to the previous disgusting
circumstances, to make accurate report with our eyes of the degree of
corporal suffering inflicted. Report, of course, gave out the back
knotty and livid. After scourging, he was made over, in his _San
Benito_, to his friends, if he had any (but commonly such poor
runagates were friendless), or to his parish officer, who, to enhance
the effect of the scene, had his station allotted to him on the
outside of the hall gate.

These solemn pageantries were not played off so often as to spoil the
general mirth of the community. We had plenty of exercise and
recreation _after_ school hours; and, for myself, I must confess, that
I was never happier, than _in_ them. The Upper and Lower Grammar
Schools were held in the same room; and an imaginary line only divided
their bounds. Their character was as different as that of the
inhabitants on the two sides of the Pyrenees. The Rev. James Boyer was
the Upper Master: but the Rev. Matthew Field presided over that
portion of the apartment, of which I had the good fortune to be a
member. We lived a life as careless as birds. We talked and did just
what we pleased, and nobody molested us. We carried an accidence, or a
grammar, for form; but, for any trouble it gave us, we might take two
years in getting through the verbs deponent, and another two in
forgetting all that we had learned about them. There was now and then
the formality of saying a lesson, but if you had not learned it, a
brush across the shoulders (just enough to disturb a fly) was the sole
remonstrance. Field never used the rod; and in truth he wielded the
cane with no great good will--holding it "like a dancer." It looked in
his hands rather like an emblem than an instrument of authority; and
an emblem, too, he was ashamed of. He was a good easy man, that did
not care to ruffle his own peace, nor perhaps set any great
consideration upon the value of juvenile time. He came among us, now
and then, but often stayed away whole days from us; and when he came,
it made no difference to us--he had his private room to retire to, the
short time he stayed, to be out of the sound of our noise. Our mirth
and uproar went on. We had classics of our own, without being beholden
to "insolent Greece or haughty Rome," that passed current among
us--Peter Wilkins--the Adventures of the Hon. Capt. Robert Boyle--the
Fortunate Blue Coat Boy--and the like. Or we cultivated a turn for
mechanic or scientific operation; making little sun-dials of paper; or
weaving those ingenious parentheses, called _cat-cradles_; or making
dry peas to dance upon the end of a tin pipe; or studying the art
military over that laudable game "French and English," and a hundred
other such devices to pass away the time--mixing the useful with the
agreeable--as would have made the souls of Rousseau and John Locke
chuckle to have seen us.

Matthew Field belonged to that class of modest divines who affect to
mix in equal proportion the _gentleman_, the _scholar_, and the
_Christian_; but, I know not how, the first ingredient is generally
found to be the predominating dose in the composition. He was engaged
in gay parties, or with his courtly bow at some episcopal levée, when
he should have been attending upon us. He had for many years the
classical charge of a hundred children, during the four or five first
years of their education; and his very highest form seldom proceeded
further than two or three of the introductory fables of Phædrus. How
things were suffered to go on thus, I cannot guess. Boyer, who was the
proper person to have remedied these abuses, always affected, perhaps
felt, a delicacy in interfering in a province not strictly his own. I
have not been without my suspicions, that he was not altogether
displeased at the contrast we presented to his end of the school. We
were a sort of Helots to his young Spartans. He would sometimes, with
ironic deference, send to borrow a rod of the Under Master, and then,
with Sardonic grin, observe to one of his upper boys, "how neat and
fresh the twigs looked." While his pale students were battering their
brains over Xenophon and Plato, with a silence as deep as that
enjoined by the Samite, we were enjoying ourselves at our ease in our
little Goshen. We saw a little into the secrets of his discipline, and
the prospect did but the more reconcile us to our lot. His thunders
rolled innocuous for us; his storms came near, but never touched us;
contrary to Gideon's miracle, while all around were drenched, our
fleece was dry.[9] His boys turned out the better scholars; we, I
suspect, have the advantage in temper. His pupils cannot speak of him
without something of terror allaying their gratitude; the remembrance
of Field comes back with all the soothing images of indolence, and
summer slumbers, and work like play, and innocent idleness, and
Elysian exemptions, and life itself a "playing holiday."

[Footnote 9: Cowley.]

Though sufficiently removed from the jurisdiction of Boyer, we were
near enough (as I have said) to understand a little of his system. We
occasionally heard sounds of the _Ululantes_, and caught glances of
Tartarus. B. was a rabid pedant. His English style was cramped to
barbarism. His Easter anthems (for his duty obliged him to those
periodical flights) were grating as scrannel pipes.[10]--He would
laugh, ay, and heartily, but then it must be at Flaccus's quibble
about _Rex_----or at the _tristis severitas in vultu_, or _inspicere
in patinas_, of Terence--thin jests, which at their first broaching
could hardly have had _vis_ enough to move a Roman muscle.--He had two
wigs, both pedantic, but of different omen. The one serene, smiling,
fresh powdered, betokening a mild day. The other, an old discoloured,
unkempt, angry caxon, denoting frequent and bloody execution. Woe to
the school, when he made his morning appearance in his _passy_, or
_passionate wig_. No comet expounded surer.--J. B. had a heavy hand. I
have known him double his knotty fist at a poor trembling child (the
maternal milk hardly dry upon its lips) with a "Sirrah, do you presume
to set your wits at me?"--Nothing was more common than to see him make
a headlong entry into the schoolroom, from his inner recess, or
library, and, with turbulent eye, singling out a lad, roar out, "Od's
my life, Sirrah" (his favourite adjuration), "I have a great mind to
whip you,"--then, with as sudden a retracting impulse, fling back into
his lair--and, after a cooling lapse of some minutes (during which all
but the culprit had totally forgotten the context) drive headlong out
again, piecing out his imperfect sense, as if it had been some Devil's
Litany, with the expletory yell--"_and I WILL too._"--In his gentler
moods, when the _rabidus furor_ was assuaged, he had resort to an
ingenious method, peculiar, for what I have heard, to himself, of
whipping the boy, and reading the Debates, at the same time; a
paragraph, and a lash between; which in those times, when
parliamentary oratory was most at a height and flourishing in these
realms, was not calculated to impress the patient with a veneration
for the diffuser graces of rhetoric.

[Footnote 10: In this and everything B. was the antipodes of his
coadjutor. While the former was digging his brains for crude anthems,
worth a pig-nut, F. would be recreating his gentlemanly fancy in the
more flowery walks of the Muses. A little dramatic effusion of his,
under the name of Vertumnus and Pomona, is not yet forgotten by the
chroniclers of that sort of literature. It was accepted by Garrick,
but the town did not give it their sanction.--B. used to say of it, in
a way of half-compliment, half-irony, that it was _too classical for

Once, and but once, the uplifted rod was known to fall ineffectual
from his hand--when droll squinting W---- having been caught putting
the inside of the master's desk to a use for which the architect had
clearly not designed it, to justify himself, with great simplicity
averred, that _he did not know that the thing had been forewarned_.
This exquisite irrecognition of any law antecedent to the _oral_ or
_declaratory_ struck so irresistibly upon the fancy of all who heard
it (the pedagogue himself not excepted) that remission was

L. has given credit to B.'s great merits as an instructor. Coleridge,
in his literary life, has pronounced a more intelligible and ample
encomium on them. The author of the Country Spectator doubts not to
compare him with the ablest teachers of antiquity. Perhaps we cannot
dismiss him better than with the pious ejaculation of C.--when he
heard that his old master was on his death-bed--"Poor J. B.!--may all
his faults be forgiven; and may he be wafted to bliss by little cherub
boys, all head and wings, with no _bottoms_ to reproach his sublunary

Under him were many good and sound scholars bred.--First Grecian of my
time was Lancelot Pepys Stevens, kindest of boys and men, since
Co-grammar-master (and inseparable companion) with Dr. T----e.[11]
What an edifying spectacle did this brace of friends present to those
who remembered the anti-socialities of their predecessors!--You never
met the one by chance in the street without a wonder, which was
quickly dissipated by the almost immediate sub-appearance of the
other. Generally arm in arm, these kindly coadjutors lightened for
each other the toilsome duties of their profession, and when, in
advanced age, one found it convenient to retire, the other was not
long in discovering that it suited him to lay down the fasces also.
Oh, it is pleasant, as it is rare, to find the same arm linked in
yours at forty, which at thirteen helped it to turn over the _Cicero
De Amicitia_, or some tale of Antique Friendship, which the young
heart even then was burning to anticipate!--Co-Grecian with S. was
Th----,[12] who has since executed with ability various diplomatic
functions at the Northern courts. Th---- was a tall, dark, saturnine
youth, sparing of speech, with raven locks.--Thomas Fanshaw Middleton
followed him (now Bishop of Calcutta) a scholar and a gentleman in his
teens. He has the reputation of an excellent critic; and is author
(besides the Country Spectator) of a Treatise on the Greek Article,
against Sharpe.--M. is said to bear his mitre high in India, where the
_regni novitas_ (I dare say) sufficiently justifies the bearing. A
humility quite as primitive as that of Jewel or Hooker might not be
exactly fitted to impress the minds of those Anglo-Asiatic diocesans
with a reverence for home institutions, and the church which those
fathers watered. The manners of M. at school, though firm, were mild,
and unassuming.--Next to M. (if not senior to him) was Richards,
author of the Aboriginal Britons, the most spirited of the Oxford
Prize Poems; a pale, studious Grecian.--Then followed poor S----,[13]
ill-fated M----![14] of these the Muse is silent.

[Footnote 11: Trollope.]

[Footnote 12: Thornton.]

[Footnote 13: Scott; died in Bedlam.]

[Footnote 14: Maunde; dismissed school.]

        Finding some of Edward's race
    Unhappy, pass their annals by.

Come back into memory, like as thou wert in the day-spring of thy
fancies, with hope like a fiery column before thee--the dark pillar
not yet turned--Samuel Taylor Coleridge--Logician, Metaphysician,
Bard!--How have I seen the casual passer through the Cloisters stand
still, entranced with admiration (while he weighed the disproportion
between the _speech_ and the _garb_ of the young Mirandula), to hear
thee unfold, in thy deep and sweet intonations, the mysteries of
Jamblichus, or Plotinus (for even in those years thou waxedst not pale
at such philosophic draughts), or reciting Homer in his Greek, or
Pindar----while the walls of the old Grey Friars re-echoed to the
accents of the _inspired charity-boy_! Many were the "wit-combats" (to
dally awhile with the words of old Fuller) between him and C. V. Le
G----,[15] "which two I behold like a Spanish great gallion, and an
English man-of-war; Master Coleridge, like the former, was built far
higher in learning, solid, but slow in his performances. C. V. L.,
with the English man-of-war, lesser in bulk, but lighter in sailing,
could turn with all tides, tack about, and take advantage of all
winds, by the quickness of his wit and invention."

[Footnote 15: Charles Valentine Le Grice.]

Nor shalt thou, their compeer, be quickly forgotten, Allen, with the
cordial smile, and still more cordial laugh, with which thou wert wont
to make the old Cloisters shake, in thy cognition of some poignant
jest of theirs; or the anticipation of some more material, and,
peradventure, practical one, of thine own. Extinct are those smiles,
with that beautiful countenance, with which (for thou wert the _Nireus
formosus_ of the school), in the days of thy maturer waggery, thou
didst disarm the wrath of infuriated town-damsel, who, incensed by
provoking pinch, turning tigress-like round, suddenly converted by thy
angel-look, exchanged the half-formed terrible "_bl----_," for a
gentler greeting--"_bless thy handsome face!_"

Next follow two, who ought to be now alive, and the friends of
Elia--the junior Le G---- and F----;[16] who impelled, the former by a
roving temper, the latter by too quick a sense of neglect--ill capable
of enduring the slights poor Sizars are sometimes subject to in our
seats of learning--exchanged their Alma Mater for the camp; perishing,
one by climate, and one on the plains of Salamanca:--Le G----
sanguine, volatile, sweet-natured; F---- dogged, faithful,
anticipative of insult, warm-hearted, with something of the old Roman
height about him.

Fine, frank-hearted Fr----,[17] the present master of Hertford, with
Marmaduke T----,[18] mildest of Missionaries--and both my good friends
still--close the catalogue of Grecians in my time.

[Footnote 16: Favell; left Cambridge, ashamed of his father, who was a
housepainter there.]

[Footnote 17: Franklin.]

[Footnote 18: Thompson.]



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

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

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

    Here shall we see
    Gross fools as he.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ha! honest R----,[19] my fine old Librarian of Ludgate, time out of
mind, art thou here again? Bless thy doublet, it is not over-new,
threadbare as thy stories:--what dost thou flitting about the world at
this rate?--Thy customers are extinct, defunct, bed-rid, have ceased
to read long ago.--Thou goest still among them, seeing if,
peradventure, thou canst hawk a volume or two.--Good Granville
S----,[20] thy last patron, is flown.

[Footnote 19: Ramsay.]

[Footnote 20: Granville Sharp.]

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

    Headless bear, black man, or ape--

but, as it was, my imaginations took that form.--It is not book, or
picture, or the stories of foolish servants, which create these
terrors in children. They can at most but give them a direction. Dear
little T. H.[21] who of all children has been brought up with the most
scrupulous exclusion of every taint of superstition--who was never
allowed to hear of goblin or apparition, or scarcely to be told of bad
men, or to read or hear of any distressing story--finds all this world
of fear, from which he has been so rigidly excluded _ab extra_, in his
own "thick-coming fancies;" and from his little midnight pillow, this
nurse-child of optimism will start at shapes, unborrowed of tradition,
in sweats to which the reveries of the cell-damned murderer are

[Footnote 21: Thornton Hunt.]

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

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

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

    Like one that on a lonesome road
    Doth walk in fear and dread,
    And having once turn'd round, walks on,
    And turns no more his head;
    Because he knows a frightful fiend
    Doth close behind him tread.[22]

[Footnote 22: Mr. Coleridge's Ancient Mariner.]

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

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

    Where Alph, the sacred river, runs,

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

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



At the north end of Cross Court there yet stands a portal, of some
architectural pretensions, though reduced to humble use, serving at
present for an entrance to a printing-office. This old door-way, if
you are young, reader, you may not know was the identical pit entrance
to Old Drury--Garrick's Drury--all of it that is left. I never pass it
without shaking some forty years from off my shoulders, recurring to
the evening when I passed through it to see _my first play_. The
afternoon had been wet, and the condition of our going (the elder
folks and myself) was, that the rain should cease. With what a beating
heart did I watch from the window the puddles, from the stillness of
which I was taught to prognosticate the desired cessation! I seem to
remember the last spurt, and the glee with which I ran to announce it.

We went with orders, which my godfather F.[23] had sent us. He kept
the oil shop (now Davies's) at the corner of Featherstone Building, in
Holborn. F. was a tall grave person, lofty in speech, and had
pretensions above his rank. He associated in those days with John
Palmer, the comedian, whose gait and bearing he seemed to copy; if
John (which is quite as likely) did not rather borrow somewhat of his
manner from my godfather. He was also known to, and visited by,
Sheridan. It was to his house in Holborn that young Brinsley brought
his first wife on her elopement with him from a boarding-school at
Bath--the beautiful Maria Linley. My parents were present (over a
quadrille table) when he arrived in the evening with his harmonious
charge.--From either of these connexions it may be inferred that my
godfather could command an order for the then Drury Lane theatre at
pleasure--and, indeed, a pretty liberal issue of those cheap billets,
in Brinsley's easy autograph, I have heard him say was the sole
remuneration which he had received for many years' nightly
illumination of the orchestra and various avenues of that theatre--and
he was content it should be so. The honour of Sheridan's
familiarity--or supposed familiarity--was better to my godfather than

[Footnote 23: Field.]

F. was the most gentlemanly of oilmen: grandiloquent, yet courteous.
His delivery of the commonest matters of fact was Ciceronian. He had
two Latin words almost constantly in his mouth (how odd sounds Latin
from an oilman's lips!), which my better knowledge since has enabled
me to correct. In strict pronunciation they should have been sounded
_vice versâ_--but in those young years they impressed me with more awe
than they would now do, read aright from Seneca or Varro--in his own
peculiar pronunciation monosyllabically elaborated, or Anglicised,
into something like _verse verse_. By an imposing manner, and the help
of these distorted syllables, he climbed (but that was little) to the
highest parochial honours which St. Andrew's has to bestow.

He is dead--and thus much I thought due to his memory, both for my
first orders (little wondrous talismans!--slight keys, and
insignificant to outward sight, but opening to me more than Arabian
paradises!) and moreover, that by his testamentary beneficence I came
into possession of the only landed property which I could ever call my
own--situate near the road-way village of pleasant Puckeridge, in
Hertfordshire. When I journeyed down to take possession, and planted
foot on my own ground, the stately habits of the donor descended upon
me, and I strode (shall I confess the vanity?) with larger paces over
my allotment of three-quarters of an acre, with its commodious mansion
in the midst, with the feeling of an English freeholder that all
betwixt sky and centre was my own. The estate has passed into more
prudent hands, and nothing but an agrarian can restore it.

In those days were pit orders. Beshrew the uncomfortable manager who
abolished them!--with one of these we went. I remember the waiting at
the door--not that which is left--but between that and an inner door
in shelter--O when shall I be such an expectant again!--with the cry
of nonpareils, an indispensable play-house accompaniment in those
days. As near as I can recollect, the fashionable pronunciation of the
theatrical fruiteresses then was, "Chase some oranges, chase some
numparels, chase a bill of the play;"--chase _pro_ chuse. But when we
got in, and I beheld the green curtain that veiled a heaven to my
imagination, which was soon to be disclosed----the breathless
anticipations I endured! I had seen something like it in the plate
prefixed to Troilus and Cressida, in Rowe's Shakespeare--the tent
scene with Diomede--and a sight of that plate can always bring back in
a measure the feeling of that evening.--The boxes at that time, full
of well-dressed women of quality, projected over the pit; and the
pilasters reaching down were adorned with a glistering substance (I
know not what) under glass (as it seemed), resembling--a homely
fancy--but I judged it to be sugar-candy--yet, to my raised
imagination, divested of its homelier qualities, it appeared a
glorified candy!--The orchestra lights at length arose, those "fair
Auroras!" Once the bell sounded. It was to ring out yet once
again--and, incapable of the anticipation, I reposed my shut eyes in a
sort of resignation upon the maternal lap. It rang the second time.
The curtain drew up--I was not past six years old--and the play was

I had dabbled a little in the Universal History--the ancient part of
it--and here was the court of Persia. I was being admitted to a sight
of the past. I took no proper interest in the action going on, for I
understood not its import--but I heard the word Darius, and I was in
the midst of Daniel. All feeling was absorbed in vision. Gorgeous
vests, gardens, palaces, princesses, passed before me. I knew not
players. I was in Persepolis for the time; and the burning idol of
their devotion almost converted me into a worshipper. I was
awe-struck, and believed those significations to be something more
than elemental fires. It was all enchantment and a dream. No such
pleasure has since visited me but in dreams.--Harlequin's invasion
followed; where, I remember, the transformation of the magistrates
into reverend beldams seemed to me a piece of grave historic justice,
and the tailor carrying his own head to be as sober a verity as the
legend of St. Denys.

The next play to which I was taken was the Lady of the Manor, of
which, with the exception of some scenery, very faint traces are left
in my memory. It was followed by a pantomime, called Lun's Ghost--a
satiric touch, I apprehend, upon Rich, not long since dead--but to my
apprehension (too sincere for satire), Lun was as remote a piece of
antiquity as Lud--the father of a line of Harlequins--transmitting his
dagger of lath (the wooden sceptre) through countless ages. I saw the
primeval Motley come from his silent tomb in a ghastly vest of white
patch-work, like the apparition of a dead rainbow. So Harlequins
(thought I) look when they are dead.

My third play followed in quick succession. It was the Way of the
World. I think I must have sat at it as grave as a judge; for, I
remember, the hysteric affectations of good Lady Wishfort affected me
like some solemn tragic passion. Robinson Crusoe followed; in which
Crusoe, man Friday, and the parrot, were as good and authentic as in
the story.--The clownery and pantaloonery of these pantomimes have
clean passed out of my head. I believe, I no more laughed at them,
than at the same age I should have been disposed to laugh at the
grotesque Gothic heads (seeming to me then replete with devout
meaning) that gape, and grin, in stone around the inside of the old
Round Church (my church) of the Templars.

I saw these plays in the season 1781-2, when I was from six to seven
years old. After the intervention of six or seven other years (for at
school all play-going was inhibited) I again entered the doors of a
theatre. That old Artaxerxes evening had never done ringing in my
fancy. I expected the same feelings to come again with the same
occasion. But we differ from ourselves less at sixty and sixteen, than
the latter does from six. In that interval what had I not lost! At the
first period I knew nothing, understood nothing, discriminated
nothing. I felt all, loved all, wondered all--

    Was nourished, I could not tell how--

I had left the temple a devotee, and was returned a rationalist. The
same things were there materially; but the emblem, the reference, was
gone!--The green curtain was no longer a veil, drawn between two
worlds, the unfolding of which was to bring back past ages, to present
"a royal ghost,"--but a certain quantity of green baize, which was to
separate the audience for a given time from certain of their
fellow-men who were to come forward and pretend those parts. The
lights--the orchestra lights--came up a clumsy machinery. The first
ring, and the second ring, was now but a trick of the prompter's
bell--which had been, like the note of the cuckoo, a phantom of a
voice, no hand seen or guessed at which ministered to its warning. The
actors were men and women painted. I thought the fault was in them;
but it was in myself, and the alteration which those many
centuries--of six short twelvemonths--had wrought in me.--Perhaps it
was fortunate for me that the play of the evening was but an
indifferent comedy, as it gave me time to crop some unreasonable
expectations, which might have interfered with the genuine emotions
with which I was soon after enabled to enter upon the first appearance
to me of Mrs. Siddons in Isabella. Comparison and retrospection soon
yielded to the present attraction of the scene; and the theatre became
to me, upon a new stock, the most delightful of recreations.



Children love to listen to stories about their elders, when _they_
were children; to stretch their imagination to the conception of a
traditionary great-uncle or grandame, whom they never saw. It was in
this spirit that my little ones crept about me the other evening to
hear about their great-grandmother Field, who lived in a great house
in Norfolk[24] (a hundred times bigger than that in which they and
papa lived) which had been the scene--so at least it was generally
believed in that part of the country--of the tragic incidents which
they had lately become familiar with from the ballad of the Children
in the Wood. [Footnote 24: Blakesware, in Hertfordshire, is meant,
where Lamb's grandmother, Mary Field, was housekeeper.] Certain it is
that the whole story of the children and their cruel uncle was to be
seen fairly carved out in wood upon the chimney-piece of the great
hall, the whole story down to the Robin Redbreasts, till a foolish
rich person pulled it down to set up a marble one of modern invention
in its stead, with no story upon it. Here Alice put out one of her
dear mother's looks, too tender to be called upbraiding. Then I went
on to say, how religious and how good their great-grandmother Field
was, how beloved and respected by every body, though she was not
indeed the mistress of this great house, but had only the charge of it
(and yet in some respects she might be said to be the mistress of it
too) committed to her by the owner, who preferred living in a newer
and more fashionable mansion which he had purchased somewhere in the
adjoining county; but still she lived in it in a manner as if it had
been her own, and kept up the dignity of the great house in a sort
while she lived, which afterwards came to decay, and was nearly pulled
down, and all its old ornaments stripped and carried away to the
owner's other house, where they were set up, and looked as awkward as
if some one were to carry away the old tombs they had seen lately at
the Abbey, and stick them up in Lady C.'s tawdry gilt drawing-room.
Here John smiled, as much as to say, "that would be foolish indeed."
And then I told how, when she came to die, her funeral was attended by
a concourse of all the poor, and some of the gentry too, of the
neighbourhood for many miles round, to show their respect for her
memory, because she had been such a good and religious woman; so good
indeed that she knew all the Psaltery by heart, ay, and a great part
of the Testament besides. Here little Alice spread her hands. Then I
told what a tall, upright, graceful person their great-grandmother
Field once was; and how in her youth she was esteemed the best
dancer--here Alice's little right foot played an involuntary movement,
till upon my looking grave, it desisted--the best dancer, I was
saying, in the county, till a cruel disease, called a cancer, came,
and bowed her down with pain; but it could never bend her good
spirits, or make them stoop, but they were still upright, because she
was so good and religious. Then I told how she was used to sleep by
herself in a lone chamber of the great lone house; and how she
believed that an apparition of two infants was to be seen at midnight
gliding up and down the great staircase near where she slept, but she
said "those innocents would do her no harm;" and how frightened I used
to be, though in those days I had my maid to sleep with me, because I
was never half so good or religious as she--and yet I never saw the
infants. Here John expanded all his eyebrows and tried to look
courageous. Then I told how good she was to all her grand-children,
having us to the great house in the holydays, where I in particular
used to spend many hours by myself, in gazing upon the old busts of
the Twelve Cæsars, that had been Emperors of Rome, till the old marble
heads would seem to live again, or I to be turned into marble with
them; how I never could be tired with roaming about that huge mansion,
with its vast empty rooms, with their worn-out hangings, fluttering
tapestry, and carved oaken panels, with the gilding almost rubbed
out--sometimes in the spacious old-fashioned gardens, which I had
almost to myself, unless when now and then a solitary gardening man
would cross me--and how the nectarines and peaches hung upon the
walls, without my ever offering to pluck them, because they were
forbidden fruit, unless now and then,--and because I had more pleasure
in strolling about among the old melancholy-looking yew trees, or the
firs, and picking up the red berries, and the fir apples, which were
good for nothing but to look at--or in lying about upon the fresh
grass, with all the fine garden smells around me--or basking in the
orangery, till I could almost fancy myself ripening too along with the
oranges and the limes in that grateful warmth--or in watching the dace
that darted to and fro in the fish-pond, at the bottom of the garden,
with here and there a great sulky pike hanging midway down the water
in silent state, as if it mocked at their impertinent friskings,--I
had more pleasure in these busy-idle diversions than in all the sweet
flavours of peaches, nectarines, oranges, and such like common baits
of children. Here John slily deposited back upon the plate a bunch of
grapes, which, not unobserved by Alice, he had meditated dividing with
her, and both seemed willing to relinquish them for the present as
irrelevant. Then in somewhat a more heightened tone, I told how,
though their great-grandmother Field loved all her grand-children, yet
in an especial manner she might be said to love their uncle, John
L----, because he was so handsome and spirited a youth, and a king to
the rest of us; and, instead of moping about in solitary corners, like
some of us, he would mount the most mettlesome horse he could get,
when but an imp no bigger than themselves, and make it carry him over
half the county in a morning, and join the hunters when there were any
out--and yet he loved the old great house and gardens too, but had too
much spirit to be always pent up within their boundaries--and how
their uncle grew up to man's estate as brave as he was handsome, to
the admiration of everybody, but of their great-grandmother Field most
especially; and how he used to carry me upon his back when I was a
lame-footed boy--for he was a good bit older than me--many a mile when
I could not walk for pain;--and how in after life he became
lame-footed too, and I did not always (I fear) make allowances enough
for him when he was impatient, and in pain, nor remember sufficiently
how considerate he had been to me when I was lame-footed; and how when
he died, though he had not been dead an hour, it seemed as if he had
died a great while ago, such a distance there is betwixt life and
death; and how I bore his death as I thought pretty well at first, but
afterwards it haunted and haunted me; and though I did not cry or take
it to heart as some do, and as I think he would have done if I had
died, yet I missed him all day long, and knew not till then how much I
had loved him. I missed his kindness, and I missed his crossness, and
wished him to be alive again, to be quarrelling with him (for we
quarrelled sometimes), rather than not have him again, and was as
uneasy without him, as he their poor uncle must have been when the
doctor took off his limb. Here the children fell a crying, and asked
if their little mourning which they had on was not for uncle John, and
they looked up, and prayed me not to go on about their uncle, but to
tell them some stories about their pretty dead mother. Then I told how
for seven long years, in hope sometimes, sometimes in despair, yet
persisting ever, I courted the fair Alice W----n; and, as much as
children could understand, I explained to them what coyness, and
difficulty, and denial meant in maidens--when suddenly, turning to
Alice, the soul of the first Alice looked out at her eyes with such a
reality of re-presentment, that I became in doubt which of them stood
there before me, or whose that bright hair was; and while I stood
gazing, both the children gradually grew fainter to my view, receding,
and still receding till nothing at last but two mournful features were
seen in the uttermost distance, which, without speech, strangely
impressed upon me the effects of speech; "We are not of Alice, nor of
thee, nor are we children at all. The children of Alice call Bartrum
father. We are nothing; less than nothing, and dreams. We are only
what might have been, and must wait upon the tedious shores of Lethe
millions of ages before we have existence, and a name"--and
immediately awaking, I found myself quietly seated in my bachelor
armchair, where I had fallen asleep, with the faithful Bridget
unchanged by my side--but John L. (or James Elia) was gone for ever.



I like to meet a sweep--understand me--not a grown sweeper--old
chimney-sweepers are by no means attractive--but one of those tender
novices, blooming through their first nigritude, the maternal washings
not quite effaced from the cheek--such as come forth with the dawn, or
somewhat earlier, with their little professional notes sounding like
the _peep peep_ of a young sparrow; or liker to the matin lark should
I pronounce them, in their aerial ascents not seldom anticipating the

I have a kindly yearning toward these dim specks--poor blots--innocent

I reverence these young Africans of our own growth--these almost
clergy imps, who sport their cloth without assumption; and from their
little pulpits (the tops of chimneys), in the nipping air of a
December morning, preach a lesson of patience to mankind.

When a child, what a mysterious pleasure it was to witness their
operation! to see a chit no bigger than one's-self enter, one knew not
by what process, into what seemed the _fauces Averni_--to pursue him
in imagination, as he went sounding on through so many dark stifling
caverns, horrid shades!--to shudder with the idea that "now, surely,
he must be lost for ever!"--to revive at hearing his feeble shout of
discovered day-light--and then (O fulness of delight) running out of
doors, to come just in time to see the sable phenomenon emerge in
safety, the brandished weapon of his art victorious like some flag
waved over a conquered citadel! I seem to remember having been told,
that a bad sweep was once left in a stack with his brush, to indicate
which way the wind blew. It was an awful spectacle certainly; not much
unlike the old stage direction in Macbeth, where the "Apparition of a
child crowned with a tree in his hand rises."

Reader, if thou meetest one of these small gentry in thy early
rambles, it is good to give him a penny. It is better to give him
two-pence. If it be starving weather, and to the proper troubles of
his hard occupation, a pair of kibed heels (no unusual accompaniment)
be superadded, the demand on thy humanity will surely rise to a

There is a composition, the ground-work of which I have understood to
be the sweet wood 'yclept sassafras. This wood boiled down to a kind
of tea, and tempered with an infusion of milk and sugar, hath to some
tastes a delicacy beyond the China luxury. I know not how thy palate
may relish it; for myself, with every deference to the judicious Mr.
Read, who hath time out of mind kept open a shop (the only one he
avers in London) for the vending of this "wholesome and pleasant
beverage," on the south side of Fleet Street, as thou approachest
Bridge Street--_the only Salopian house_,--I have never yet ventured
to dip my own particular lip in a basin of his commended
ingredients--a cautious premonition to the olfactories constantly
whispering to me, that my stomach must infallibly, with all due
courtesy, decline it. Yet I have seen palates, otherwise not
uninstructed in dietetical elegances, sup it up with avidity.

I know not by what particular conformation of the organ it happens,
but I have always found that this composition is surprisingly
gratifying to the palate of a young chimney-sweeper--whether the oily
particles (sassafras is slightly oleaginous) do attenuate and soften
the fuliginous concretions, which are sometimes found (in dissections)
to adhere to the roof of the mouth in these unfledged practitioners;
or whether Nature, sensible that she had mingled too much of bitter
wood in the lot of these raw victims, caused to grow out of the earth
her sassafras for a sweet lenitive--but so it is, that no possible
taste or odour to the senses of a young chimney-sweeper can convey a
delicate excitement comparable to this mixture. Being penniless, they
will yet hang their black heads over the ascending steam, to gratify
one sense if possible, seemingly no less pleased than those domestic
animals--cats--when they purr over a new-found sprig of valerian.
There is something more in these sympathies than philosophy can

Now albeit Mr. Read boasteth, not without reason, that his is the
_only Salopian house_; yet be it known to thee, reader--if thou art
one who keepest what are called good hours, thou art haply ignorant of
the fact--he hath a race of industrious imitators, who from stalls,
and under open sky, dispense the same savoury mess to humbler
customers, at that dead time of the dawn, when (as extremes meet) the
rake, reeling home from his midnight cups, and the hard-handed artisan
leaving his bed to resume the premature labours of the day, jostle,
not unfrequently to the manifest disconcerting of the former, for the
honours of the pavement. It is the time when, in summer, between the
expired and the not yet relumined kitchen-fires, the kennels of our
fair metropolis give forth their least satisfactory odours. The rake,
who wisheth to dissipate his o'er-night vapours in more grateful
coffee, curses the ungenial fume, as he passeth; but the artisan stops
to taste, and blesses the fragrant breakfast.

This is _Saloop_--the precocious herb-woman's darling--the delight of
the early gardener, who transports his smoking cabbages by break of
day from Hammersmith to Covent Garden's famed piazzas--the delight,
and, oh I fear, too often the envy, of the unpennied sweep. Him
shouldest thou haply encounter, with his dim visage pendent over the
grateful steam, regale him with a sumptuous basin (it will cost thee
but three half-pennies) and a slice of delicate bread and butter (an
added halfpenny)--so may thy culinary fires, eased of the o'er-charged
secretions from thy worse-placed hospitalities, curl up a lighter
volume to the welkin--so may the descending soot never taint thy
costly well-ingredienced soups--nor the odious cry, quick-reaching
from street to street, of the _fired chimney_, invite the rattling
engines from ten adjacent parishes, to disturb for a casual
scintillation thy peace and pocket!

I am by nature extremely susceptible of street affronts; the jeers and
taunts of the populace; the low-bred triumph they display over the
casual trip, or splashed stocking, of a gentleman. Yet can I endure
the jocularity of a young sweep with something more than
forgiveness.--In the last winter but one, pacing along Cheapside with
my accustomed precipitation when I walk westward, a treacherous slide
brought me upon my back in an instant. I scrambled up with pain and
shame enough--yet outwardly trying to face it down, as if nothing had
happened--when the roguish grin of one of these young wits encountered
me. There he stood, pointing me out with his dusky finger to the mob,
and to a poor woman (I suppose his mother) in particular, till the
tears for the exquisiteness of the fun (so he thought it) worked
themselves out at the corners of his poor red eyes, red from many a
previous weeping, and soot-inflamed, yet twinkling through all with
such a joy, snatched out of desolation, that Hogarth----but Hogarth
has got him already (how could he miss him?) in the March to Finchley,
grinning at the pie-man----there he stood, as he stands in the
picture, irremovable, as if the jest was to last for ever--with such a
maximum of glee, and minimum of mischief, in his mirth--for the grin
of a genuine sweep hath absolutely no malice in it--that I could have
been content, if the honour of a gentleman might endure it, to have
remained his butt and his mockery till midnight.

I am by theory obdurate to the seductiveness of what are called a fine
set of teeth. Every pair of rosy lips (the ladies must pardon me) is a
casket, presumably holding such jewels; but, methinks, they should
take leave to "air" them as frugally as possible. The fine lady, or
fine gentleman, who show me their teeth, show me bones. Yet must I
confess, that from the mouth of a true sweep a display (even to
ostentation) of those white and shining ossifications, strikes me as
an agreeable anomaly in manners, and an allowable piece of foppery. It
is, as when

                                 A sable cloud
    Turns forth her silver lining on the night.

It is like some remnant of gentry not quite extinct; a badge of better
days; a hint of nobility:--and, doubtless, under the obscuring
darkness and double night of their forlorn disguisement, oftentimes
lurketh good blood, and gentle conditions, derived from lost ancestry,
and a lapsed pedigree. The premature apprenticements of these tender
victims give but too much encouragement, I fear, to clandestine, and
almost infantile abductions; the seeds of civility and true courtesy,
so often discernible in these young grafts (not otherwise to be
accounted for) plainly hint at some forced adoptions; many noble
Rachels mourning for their children, even in our days, countenance the
fact; the tales of fairy-spiriting may shadow a lamentable verity, and
the recovery of the young Montagu be but a solitary instance of good
fortune, out of many irreparable and hopeless _defiliations_.

In one of the state-beds at Arundel Castle, a few years since--under a
ducal canopy--(that seat of the Howards is an object of curiosity to
visitors, chiefly for its beds, in which the late duke was especially
a connoisseur)--encircled with curtains of delicatest crimson, with
starry coronets inwoven--folded between a pair of sheets whiter and
softer than the lap where Venus lulled Ascanius--was discovered by
chance, after all methods of search had failed, at noon-day, fast
asleep, a lost chimney-sweeper. The little creature, having somehow
confounded his passage among the intricacies of those lordly chimneys,
by some unknown aperture had alighted upon this magnificent chamber;
and, tired with his tedious explorations, was unable to resist the
delicious invitement to repose, which he there saw exhibited; so,
creeping between the sheets very quietly, laid his black head upon the
pillow, and slept like a young Howard.

Such is the account given to the visitors at the Castle.--But I cannot
help seeming to perceive a confirmation of what I have just hinted at
in this story. A high instinct was at work in the case, or I am
mistaken. Is it probable that a poor child of that description, with
whatever weariness he might be visited, would have ventured, under
such a penalty, as he would be taught to expect, to uncover the sheets
of a Duke's bed, and deliberately to lay himself down between them,
when the rug, or the carpet, presented an obvious couch, still far
above his pretensions--is this probable, I would ask, if the great
power of nature, which I contend for, had not been manifested within
him, prompting to the adventure? Doubtless this young nobleman (for
such my mind misgives me that he must be) was allured by some memory,
not amounting to full consciousness, of his condition in infancy, when
he was used to be lapt by his mother, or his nurse, in just such
sheets as he there found, into which he was but now creeping back as
into his proper _incunabula_, and resting-place.--By no other theory,
than by this sentiment of a pre-existent state (as I may call it), can
I explain a deed so venturous, and, indeed, upon any other system, so
indecorous, in this tender, but unseasonable, sleeper.

My pleasant friend JEM WHITE was so impressed with a belief of
metamorphoses like this frequently taking place, that in some sort to
reverse the wrongs of fortune in these poor changelings, he instituted
an annual feast of chimney-sweepers, at which it was his pleasure to
officiate as host and waiter. It was a solemn supper held in
Smithfield, upon the yearly return of the fair of St. Bartholomew.
Cards were issued a week before to the master-sweeps in and about the
metropolis, confining the invitation to their younger fry. Now and
then an elderly stripling would get in among us, and be good-naturedly
winked at; but our main body were infantry. One unfortunate wight,
indeed, who relying upon his dusky suit, had intruded himself into our
party, but by tokens was providentially discovered in time to be no
chimney-sweeper (all is not soot which looks so), was quoited out of
the presence with universal indignation, as not having on the wedding
garment; but in general the greatest harmony prevailed. The place
chosen was a convenient spot among the pens, at the north side of the
fair, not so far distant as to be impervious to the agreeable hubbub
of that vanity; but remote enough not to be obvious to the
interruption of every gaping spectator in it. The guests assembled
about seven. In those little temporary parlours three tables were
spread with napery, not so fine as substantial, and at every board a
comely hostess presided with her pan of hissing sausages. The nostrils
of the young rogues dilated at the savour. JAMES WHITE, as head
waiter, had charge of the first table; and myself, with our trusty
companion[25] BIGOD, ordinarily ministered to the other two. [Footnote
25: John Fenwick.] There was clambering and jostling, you may be sure,
who should get at the first table--for Rochester in his maddest days
could not have done the humours of the scene with more spirit than my
friend. After some general expression of thanks for the honour the
company had done him, his inaugural ceremony was to clasp the greasy
waist of old dame Ursula (the fattest of the three), that stood frying
and fretting, half-blessing, half-cursing "the gentleman," and imprint
upon her chaste lips a tender salute, whereat the universal host would
set up a shout that tore the concave, while hundreds of grinning teeth
startled the night with their brightness. O it was a pleasure to see
the sable younkers lick in the unctuous meat, with _his_ more unctuous
sayings--how he would fit the tit-bits to the puny mouths, reserving
the lengthier links for the seniors--how he would intercept a morsel
even in the jaws of some young desperado, declaring it "must to the
pan again to be browned, for it was not fit for a gentleman's
eating"--how he would recommend this slice of white bread, or that
piece of kissing-crust, to a tender juvenile, advising them all to
have a care of cracking their teeth, which were their best
patrimony,--how genteelly he would deal about the small ale, as if it
were wine, naming the brewer, and protesting, if it were not good he
should lose their custom; with a special recommendation to wipe the
lip before drinking. Then we had our toasts--"The King,"--the
"Cloth,"--which, whether they understood or not, was equally diverting
and flattering;--and for a crowning sentiment, which never failed,
"May the Brush supersede the Laurel." All these, and fifty other
fancies, which were rather felt than comprehended by his guests, would
he utter, standing upon tables, and prefacing every sentiment with a
"Gentlemen, give me leave to propose so and so," which was a
prodigious comfort to those young orphans; every now and then stuffing
into his mouth (for it did not do to be squeamish on these occasions)
indiscriminate pieces of those reeking sausages, which pleased them
mightily, and was the savouriest part, you may believe, of the

    Golden lads and lasses must,
    As chimney-sweepers, come to dust--

James White is extinct, and with him these suppers have long ceased.
He carried away with him half the fun of the world when he died--of my
world at least. His old clients look for him among the pens; and,
missing him, reproach the altered feast of St. Bartholomew, and the
glory of Smithfield departed for ever.



Mankind, says a Chinese manuscript, which my friend M.[26] was
obliging enough to read and explain to me, for the first seventy
thousand ages ate their meat raw, clawing or biting it from the living
animal, just as they do in Abyssinia to this day. [Footnote 26: Thomas
Manning.] This period is not obscurely hinted at by their great
Confucius in the second chapter of his Mundane Mutations, where he
designates a kind of golden age by the term Cho-fang, literally the
Cook's holiday. The manuscript goes on to say, that the art of
roasting, or rather broiling (which I take to be the elder brother)
was accidentally discovered in the manner following. The swine-herd,
Ho-ti, having gone out into the woods one morning, as his manner was,
to collect mast for his hogs, left his cottage in the care of his
eldest son Bo-bo, a great lubberly boy, who being fond of playing with
fire, as younkers of his age commonly are, let some sparks escape into
a bundle of straw, which kindling quickly, spread the conflagration
over every part of their poor mansion, till it was reduced to ashes.
Together with the cottage (a sorry antediluvian make-shift of a
building, you may think it), what was of much more importance, a fine
litter of new-farrowed pigs, no less than nine in number, perished.
China pigs have been esteemed a luxury all over the East from the
remotest periods that we read of. Bo-bo was in utmost consternation,
as you may think, not so much for the sake of the tenement, which his
father and he could easily build up again with a few dry branches, and
the labour of an hour or two, at any time, as for the loss of the
pigs. While he was thinking what he should say to his father, and
wringing his hands over the smoking remnants of one of those untimely
sufferers, an odour assailed his nostrils, unlike any scent which he
had before experienced. What could it proceed from?--not from the
burnt cottage--he had smelt that smell before--indeed this was by no
means the first accident of the kind which had occurred through the
negligence of this unlucky young fire-brand. Much less did it resemble
that of any known herb, weed, or flower. A premonitory moistening at
the same time overflowed his nether lip. He knew not what to think. He
next stooped down to feel the pig, if there were any signs of life in
it. He burnt his fingers, and to cool them he applied them in his
booby fashion to his mouth. Some of the crumbs of the scorched skin
had come away with his fingers, and for the first time in his life (in
the world's life indeed, for before him no man had known it) he
tasted--_crackling_! Again he felt and fumbled at the pig. It did not
burn him so much now, still he licked his fingers from a sort of
habit. The truth at length broke into his slow understanding, that it
was the pig that smelt so, and the pig that tasted so delicious; and,
surrendering himself up to the newborn pleasure, he fell to tearing up
whole handfuls of the scorched skin with the flesh next it, and was
cramming it down his throat in his beastly fashion, when his sire
entered amid the smoking rafters, armed with retributory cudgel, and
finding how affairs stood, began to rain blows upon the young rogue's
shoulders, as thick as hailstones, which Bo-bo heeded not any more
than if they had been flies. The tickling pleasure, which he
experienced in his lower regions, had rendered him quite callous to
any inconveniences he might feel in those remote quarters. His father
might lay on, but he could not beat him from his pig, till he had
fairly made an end of it, when, becoming a little more sensible of his
situation, something like the following dialogue ensued.

"You graceless whelp, what have you got there devouring? Is it not
enough that you have burnt me down three houses with your dog's
tricks, and be hanged to you, but you must be eating fire, and I know
not what--what have you got there, I say?"

"O, father, the pig, the pig, do come and taste how nice the burnt pig

The ears of Ho-ti tingled with horror. He cursed his son, and he
cursed himself that ever he should beget a son that should eat burnt

Bo-bo, whose scent was wonderfully sharpened since morning, soon raked
out another pig, and fairly rending it asunder, thrust the lesser half
by main force into the fists of Ho-ti, still shouting out "Eat, eat,
eat the burnt pig, father, only taste--O Lord,"--with such-like
barbarous ejaculations, cramming all the while as if he would choke.

Ho-ti trembled every joint while he grasped the abominable thing,
wavering whether he should not put his son to death for an unnatural
young monster, when the crackling scorching his fingers, as it had
done his son's, and applying the same remedy to them, he in his turn
tasted some of its flavour, which, make what sour mouths he would for
a pretence, proved not altogether displeasing to him. In conclusion
(for the manuscript here is a little tedious) both father and son
fairly sat down to the mess, and never left off till they had
despatched all that remained of the litter.

Bo-bo was strictly enjoined not to let the secret escape, for the
neighbours would certainly have stoned them for a couple of abominable
wretches, who could think of improving upon the good meat which God
had sent them. Nevertheless, strange stories got about. It was
observed that Ho-ti's cottage was burnt down now more frequently than
ever. Nothing but fires from this time forward. Some would break out
in broad day, others in the night-time. As often as the sow farrowed,
so sure was the house of Ho-ti to be in a blaze; and Ho-ti himself,
which was the more remarkable, instead of chastising his son, seemed
to grow more indulgent to him than ever. At length they were watched,
the terrible mystery discovered, and father and son summoned to take
their trial at Pekin, then an inconsiderable assize town. Evidence was
given, the obnoxious food itself produced in court, and verdict about
to be pronounced, when the foreman of the jury begged that some of the
burnt pig, of which the culprits stood accused, might be handed into
the box. He handled it, and they all handled it, and burning their
fingers, as Bo-bo and his father had done before them, and nature
prompting to each of them the same remedy, against the face of all the
facts, and the clearest charge which judge had ever given,--to the
surprise of the whole court, townsfolk, strangers, reporters, and all
present--without leaving the box, or any manner of consultation
whatever, they brought in a simultaneous verdict of Not Guilty.

The judge, who was a shrewd fellow, winked at the manifest iniquity of
the decision; and, when the court was dismissed, went privily, and
bought up all the pigs that could be had for love or money. In a few
days his Lordship's town house was observed to be on fire. The thing
took wing, and now there was nothing to be seen but fires in every
direction. Fuel and pigs grew enormously dear all over the district.
The insurance offices one and all shut up shop. People built slighter
and slighter every day, until it was feared that the very science of
architecture would in no long time be lost to the world. Thus this
custom of firing houses continued, till in process of time, says my
manuscript, a sage arose, like our Locke, who made a discovery, that
the flesh of swine; or indeed of any other animal, might be cooked
(_burnt_, as they called it) without the necessity of consuming a
whole house to dress it. Then first began the rude form of a gridiron.
Roasting by the string, or spit, came in a century or two later, I
forget in whose dynasty. By such slow degrees, concludes the
manuscript, do the most useful, and seemingly the most obvious arts,
make their way among mankind.----

Without placing too implicit faith in the account above given, it must
be agreed, that if a worthy pretext for so dangerous an experiment as
setting houses on fire (especially in these days) could be assigned in
favour of any culinary object, that pretext and excuse might be found

Of all the delicacies in the whole _mundus edibilis_, I will maintain
it to be the most delicate--_princeps obsoniorum_.

I speak not of your grown porkers--things between pig and pork--those
hobbydehoys--but a young and tender suckling--under a moon
old--guiltless as yet of the sty--with no original speck of the _amor
immunditiæ_, the hereditary failing of the first parent, yet
manifest--his voice as yet not broken, but something between a
childish treble, and a grumble--the mild forerunner, or _præludium_,
of a grunt.

_He must be roasted._ I am not ignorant that our ancestors ate them
seethed, or boiled--but what a sacrifice of the exterior tegument!

There is no flavour comparable, I will contend, to that of the crisp,
tawny, well-watched, not over-roasted, _crackling_, as it is well
called--the very teeth are invited to their share of the pleasure at
this banquet in overcoming the coy, brittle resistance--with the
adhesive oleaginous--O call it not fat--but an indefinable sweetness
growing up to it--the tender blossoming of fat--fat cropped in the
bud--taken in the shoot--in the first innocence--the cream and
quintessence of the child-pig's yet pure food----the lean, no lean,
but a kind of animal manna--or, rather, fat and lean, (if it must be
so) so blended and running into each other, that both together make
but one ambrosian result, or common substance.

Behold him, while he is doing--it seemeth rather a refreshing warmth,
than a scorching heat, that he is so passive to. How equably he
twirleth round the string!--Now he is just done. To see the extreme
sensibility of that tender age, he hath wept out his pretty
eyes--radiant jellies--shooting stars--

See him in the dish, his second cradle, how meek he lieth!--wouldst
thou have had this innocent grow up to the grossness and indocility
which too often accompany maturer swinehood? Ten to one he would
have proved a glutton, a sloven, an obstinate, disagreeable
animal--wallowing in all manner of filthy conversation--from these
sins he is happily snatched away--

    Ere sin could blight, or sorrow fade
    Death came with timely care--

his memory is odoriferous--no clown curseth, while his stomach half
rejecteth, the rank bacon--no coalheaver bolteth him in reeking
sausages--he hath a fair sepulchre in the grateful stomach of the
judicious epicure--and for such a tomb might be content to die.

He is the best of Sapors. Pine-apple is great. She is indeed almost
too transcendent--a delight, if not sinful, yet so like to sinning,
that really a tender-conscienced person would do well to pause--too
ravishing for mortal taste, she woundeth and excoriateth the lips that
approach her--like lovers' kisses, she biteth--she is a pleasure
bordering on pain from the fierceness and insanity of her relish--but
she stoppeth at the palate--she meddleth not with the appetite--and
the coarsest hunger might barter her consistently for a mutton chop.

Pig--let me speak his praise--is no less provocative of the appetite,
than he is satisfactory to the criticalness of the censorious palate.
The strong man may batten on him, and weakling refuseth not his mild

Unlike to mankind's mixed characters, a bundle of virtues and vices,
inexplicably intertwisted, and not to be unravelled without hazard, he
is--good throughout. No part of him is better or worse than another.
He helpeth, as far as his little means extend, all around. He is the
least envious of banquets. He is all neighbours' fare.

I am one of those, who freely and ungrudgingly impart a share of the
good things of this life which fall to their lot (few as mine are in
this kind) to a friend. I protest to take as great an interest in my
friend's pleasures, his relishes, and proper satisfactions, as in mine
own. "Presents," I often say, "endear Absents." Hares, pheasants,
partridges, snipes, barn-door chickens (those "tame villatic fowl"),
capons, plovers, brawn, barrels of oysters, I dispense as freely as I
receive them. I love to taste them, as it were, upon the tongue of my
friend. But a stop must be put somewhere. One would not, like Lear,
"give everything." I make my stand upon pig. Methinks it is an
ingratitude to the Giver of all good flavours, to extra-domiciliate,
or send out of the house, slightingly (under pretext of friendship, or
I know not what) a blessing so particularly adapted, predestined, I
may say, to my individual palate--It argues an insensibility.

I remember a touch of conscience in this kind at school. My good old
aunt, who never parted from me at the end of a holiday without
stuffing a sweetmeat, or some nice thing, into my pocket, had
dismissed me one evening with a smoking plum-cake, fresh from the
oven. In my way to school (it was over London Bridge) a grey-headed
old beggar saluted me (I have no doubt at this time of day that he was
a counterfeit). I had no pence to console him with, and in the vanity
of self-denial, and the very coxcombry of charity, school-boy-like, I
made him a present of--the whole cake! I walked on a little, buoyed
up, as one is on such occasions, with a sweet soothing of
self-satisfaction; but before I had got to the end of the bridge, my
better feelings returned, and I burst into tears, thinking how
ungrateful I had been to my good aunt, to go and give her good gift
away to a stranger, that I had never seen before, and who might be a
bad man for aught I knew; and then I thought of the pleasure my aunt
would be taking in thinking that I--I myself, and not another--would
eat her nice cake--and what should I say to her the next time I saw
her--how naughty I was to part with her pretty present--and the odour
of that spicy cake came back upon my recollection, and the pleasure
and the curiosity I had taken in seeing her make it, and her joy when
she sent it to the oven, and how disappointed she would feel that I
had never had a bit of it in my mouth at last--and I blamed my
impertinent spirit of alms-giving, and out-of-place hypocrisy of
goodness, and above all I wished never to see the face again of that
insidious, good-for-nothing, old grey impostor.

Our ancestors were nice in their method of sacrificing these tender
victims. We read of pigs whipt to death with something of a shock, as
we hear of any other obsolete custom. The age of discipline is gone
by, or it would be curious to inquire (in a philosophical light
merely) what effect this process might have towards intenerating and
dulcifying a substance, naturally so mild and dulcet as the flesh of
young pigs. It looks like refining a violet. Yet we should be
cautious, while we condemn the inhumanity, how we censure the wisdom
of the practice. It might impart a gusto--

I remember an hypothesis, argued upon by the young students, when I
was at St. Omer's, and maintained with much learning and pleasantry on
both sides, "Whether, supposing that the flavour of a pig who obtained
his death by whipping (_per flagellationem extremam_) superadded a
pleasure upon the palate of a man more intense than any possible
suffering we can conceive in the animal, is man justified in using
that method of putting the animal to death?" I forget the decision.

His sauce should be considered. Decidedly, a few bread crumbs, done up
with his liver and brains, and a dash of mild sage. But, banish, dear
Mrs. Cook, I beseech you, the whole onion tribe. Barbecue your whole
hogs to your palate, steep them in shalots, stuff them out with
plantations of the rank and guilty garlic; you cannot poison them, or
make them stronger than they are--but consider, he is a weakling--a



A Poor Relation--is the most irrelevant thing in nature,--a piece of
impertinent correspondency,--an odious approximation,--a haunting
conscience,--a preposterous shadow, lengthening in the noontide of our
prosperity,--an unwelcome remembrancer,--a perpetually recurring
mortification,--a drain on your purse,--a more intolerable dun upon
your pride,--a drawback upon success,--a rebuke to your rising,--a
stain in your blood,--a blot on your 'scutcheon,--a rent in your
garment,--a death's head at your banquet,--Agathocles' pot,--a
Mordecai in your gate,--a Lazarus at your door,--a lion in your
path,--a frog in your chamber,--a fly in your ointment,--a mote in
your eye,--a triumph to your enemy, an apology to your friends,--the
one thing not needful,--the hail in harvest,--the ounce of sour in a
pound of sweet.

He is known by his knock. Your heart telleth you "That is Mr. ----." A
rap, between familiarity and respect; that demands, and, at the same
time, seems to despair of, entertainment. He entereth smiling
and--embarrassed. He holdeth out his hand to you to shake,
and--draweth it back again. He casually looketh in about
dinner-time--when the table is full. He offereth to go away, seeing
you have company, but is induced to stay. He filleth a chair, and your
visitor's two children are accommodated at a side table. He never
cometh upon open days, when your wife says with some complacency, "My
dear, perhaps Mr. ---- will drop in to-day." He remembereth
birthdays--and professeth he is fortunate to have stumbled upon one.
He declareth against fish, the turbot being small--yet suffereth
himself to be importuned into a slice against his first resolution. He
sticketh by the port--yet will be prevailed upon to empty the
remainder glass of claret, if a stranger press it upon him. He is a
puzzle to the servants, who are fearful of being too obsequious, or
not civil enough, to him. The guests think "they have seen him
before." Everyone speculateth upon his condition; and the most part
take him to be--a tide waiter. He calleth you by your Christian name,
to imply that his other is the same with your own. He is too familiar
by half, yet you wish he had less diffidence. With half the
familiarity he might pass for a casual dependent; with more boldness
he would be in no danger of being taken for what he is. He is too
humble for a friend, yet taketh on him more state than befits a
client. He is a worse guest than a country tenant, inasmuch as he
bringeth up no rent--yet 'tis odds, from his garb and demeanour, that
your guests take him for one. He is asked to make one at the whist
table; refuseth on the score of poverty, and--resents being left out.
When the company break up he proffereth to go for a coach--and lets
the servant go. He recollects your grandfather; and will thrust in
some mean and quite unimportant anecdote of--the family. He knew
it when it was not quite so flourishing as "he is blest in seeing
it now." He reviveth past situations to institute what he
calleth--favourable comparisons. With a reflecting sort of
congratulation, he will inquire the price of your furniture: and
insults you with a special commendation of your window-curtains. He is
of opinion that the urn is the more elegant shape, but, after all,
there was something more comfortable about the old tea-kettle--which
you must remember. He dare say you must find a great convenience in
having a carriage of your own, and appealeth to your lady if it is not
so. Inquireth if you have had your arms done on vellum yet; and did
not know, till lately, that such-and-such had been the crest of the
family. His memory is unseasonable; his compliments perverse; his talk
a trouble; his stay pertinacious; and when he goeth away, you dismiss
his chair into a corner, as precipitately as possible, and feel fairly
rid of two nuisances.

There is a worse evil under the sun, and that is--a female Poor
Relation. You may do something with the other; you may pass him off
tolerably well; but your indigent she-relative is hopeless. "He is an
old humourist," you may say, "and affects to go threadbare. His
circumstances are better than folks would take them to be. You are
fond of having a Character at your table, and truly he is one." But in
the indications of female poverty there can be no disguise. No woman
dresses below herself from caprice. The truth must out without
shuffling, "She is plainly related to the L----s; or what does she at
their house?" She is, in all probability, your wife's cousin. Nine
times out of ten, at least, this is the case. Her garb is something
between a gentlewoman and a beggar, yet the former evidently
predominates. She is most provokingly humble, and ostentatiously
sensible to her inferiority. He may require to be repressed
sometimes--_aliquando suffiaminandus erat_--but there is no raising
her. You send her soup at dinner, and she begs to be helped--after the
gentlemen. Mr. ---- requests the honour of taking wine with her; she
hesitates between Port and Madeira, and choses the former--because he
does. She calls the servant _Sir_; and insists on not troubling him to
hold her plate. The housekeeper patronises her. The children's
governess takes upon her to correct her, when she has mistaken the
piano for harpsichord.

Richard Amlet, Esq., in the play, is a noticeable instance of the
disadvantages, to which this chimerical notion of _affinity
constituting a claim to an acquaintance_, may subject the spirit of a
gentleman. A little foolish blood is all that is betwixt him and a
lady with a great estate. His stars are perpetually crossed by the
malignant maternity of an old woman, who persists in calling him "her
son Dick." But she has wherewithal in the end to recompense his
indignities, and float him again upon the brilliant surface, under
which it had been her seeming business and pleasure all along to sink
him. All men, besides, are not of Dick's temperament. I knew an Amlet
in real life, who wanting Dick's buoyancy, sank indeed. Poor W---- was
of my own standing at Christ's, a fine classic, and a youth of
promise. If he had a blemish, it was too much pride; but its quality
was inoffensive; it was not of that sort which hardens the heart, and
serves to keep inferiors at a distance; it only sought to ward off
derogation from itself. It was the principle of self-respect carried
as far as it could go, without infringing upon that respect, which he
would have every one else equally maintain for himself. He would have
you to think alike with him on this topic. Many a quarrel have I had
with him, when we were rather older boys, and our tallness made us
more obnoxious to observation in the blue clothes, because I would not
thread the alleys and blind ways of the town with him to elude notice,
when we have been out together on a holiday in the streets of this
sneering and prying metropolis. W---- went, sore with these notions,
to Oxford, where the dignity and sweetness of a scholar's life,
meeting with the alloy of a humble introduction, wrought in him a
passionate devotion to the place, with a profound aversion to the
society. The servitor's gown (worse than his school array) clung to
him with Nessian venom. He thought himself ridiculous in a garb, under
which Latimer must have walked erect; and in which Hooker, in his
young days, possibly flaunted in a vein of no discommendable vanity.
In the depths of college shades, or in his lonely chamber, the poor
student shrunk from observation. He found shelter among books, which
insult not; and studies, that ask no questions of a youth's finances.
He was lord of his library, and seldom cared for looking out beyond
his domains. The healing influence of studious pursuits was upon him,
to soothe and to abstract. He was almost a healthy man; when the
waywardness of his fate broke out against him with a second and worse
malignity. The father of W---- had hitherto exercised the humble
profession of house-painter at N----, near Oxford. A supposed interest
with some of the heads of colleges had now induced him to take up his
abode in that city, with the hope of being employed upon some public
works which were talked of. From that moment I read in the countenance
of the young man, the determination which at length tore him from
academical pursuits for ever. To a person unacquainted with our
Universities, the distance between the gownsmen and the townsmen, as
they are called--the trading part of the latter especially--is carried
to an excess that would appear harsh and incredible. The temperament
of W----'s father was diametrically the reverse of his own. Old W----
was a little, busy, cringing tradesman, who, with his son upon his
arm, would stand bowing and scraping, cap in hand, to anything that
wore the semblance of a gown--insensible to the winks and opener
remonstrances of the young man, to whose chamber-fellow, or equal in
standing, perhaps, he was thus obsequiously and gratuitously ducking.
Such a state of things could not last. W---- must change the air of
Oxford or be suffocated. He chose the former; and let the sturdy
moralist, who strains the point of the filial duties as high as they
can bear, censure the dereliction; he cannot estimate the struggle. I
stood with W----, the last afternoon I ever saw him, under the eaves
of his paternal dwelling. It was in the fine lane leading from the
High Street to the back of **** college, where W---- kept his rooms.
He seemed thoughtful, and more reconciled. I ventured to rally
him--finding him in a better mood--upon a representation of the Artist
Evangelist, which the old man, whose affairs were beginning to
flourish, had caused to be set up in a splendid sort of frame over his
really handsome shop, either as a token of prosperity, or badge of
gratitude to his saint. W---- looked up at the Luke, and, like Satan,
"knew his mounted sign--and fled." A letter on his father's table the
next morning, announced that he had accepted a commission in a
regiment about to embark for Portugal. He was among the first who
perished before the walls of St. Sebastian.

I do not know how, upon a subject which I began with treating half
seriously, I should have fallen upon a recital so eminently painful;
but this theme of poor relationship is replete with so much matter for
tragic as well as comic associations, that it is difficult to keep the
account distinct without blending. The earliest impressions which I
received on this matter, are certainly not attended with anything
painful, or very humiliating, in the recalling. At my father's table
(no very splendid one) was to be found, every Saturday, the mysterious
figure of an aged gentleman, clothed in neat black, of a sad yet
comely appearance. His deportment was of the essence of gravity; his
words few or none; and I was not to make a noise in his presence. I
had little inclination to have done so--for my cue was to admire in
silence. A particular elbow chair was appropriated to him, which was
in no case to be violated. A peculiar sort of sweet pudding, which
appeared on no other occasion, distinguished the days of his coming. I
used to think him a prodigiously rich man. All I could make out of him
was, that he and my father had been schoolfellows a world ago at
Lincoln, and that he came from the Mint. The Mint I knew to be a place
where all the money was coined--and I thought he was the owner of all
that money. Awful ideas of the Tower twined themselves about his
presence. He seemed above human infirmities and passions. A sort of
melancholy grandeur invested him. From some inexplicable doom I
fancied him obliged to go about in an eternal suit of mourning; a
captive--a stately being, let out of the Tower on Saturdays. Often
have I wondered at the temerity of my father, who, in spite of an
habitual general respect which we all in common manifested towards
him, would venture now and then to stand up against him in some
argument, touching their youthful days. The houses of the ancient city
of Lincoln are divided (as most of my readers know) between the
dwellers on the hill, and in the valley. This marked distinction
formed an obvious division between the boys who lived above (however
brought together in a common school) and the boys whose paternal
residence was on the plain; a sufficient cause of hostility in the
code of these young Grotiuses. My father had been a leading
Mountaineer; and would still maintain the general superiority, in
skill and hardihood, of the _Above Boys_ (his own faction) over the
_Below Boys_ (so were they called), of which party his contemporary
had been a chieftain. Many and hot were the skirmishes on this
topic--the only one upon which the old gentleman was ever brought
out--and bad blood bred; even sometimes almost to the recommencement
(so I expected) of actual hostilities. But my father, who scorned to
insist upon advantages, generally contrived to turn the conversation
upon some adroit by-commendation of the old Minster; in the general
preference of which, before all other cathedrals in the island, the
dweller on the hill, and the plain-born, could meet on a conciliating
level, and lay down their less important differences. Once only I saw
the old gentleman really ruffled, and I remembered with anguish the
thought that came over me: "Perhaps he will never come here again." He
had been pressed to take another plate of the viand, which I have
already mentioned as the indispensable concomitant of his visits. He
had refused with a resistance amounting to rigour--when my aunt, an
old Lincolnian, but who had something of this in common with my cousin
Bridget, that she would sometimes press civility out of
season--uttered the following memorable application--"Do take another
slice, Mr. Billet, for you do not get pudding every day." The old
gentleman said nothing at the time--but he took occasion in the course
of the evening, when some argument had intervened between them, to
utter with an emphasis which chilled the company, and which chills me
now as I write it--"Woman, you are superannuated." John Billet did not
survive long, after the digesting of this affront; but he survived
long enough to assure me that peace was actually restored! and, if I
remember aright, another pudding was discreetly substituted in the
place of that which had occasioned the offence. He died at the Mint
(anno 1781) where he had long held, what he accounted, a comfortable
independence; and with five pounds, fourteen shillings, and a penny,
which were found in his escrutoire after his decease, left the world,
blessing God that he had enough to bury him, and that he had never
been obliged to any man for a sixpence. This was--a Poor Relation.




I chanced upon the prettiest, oddest, fantastical thing of a dream the
other night, that you shall hear of. I had been reading the "Loves of
the Angels," and went to bed with my head full of speculations,
suggested by that extraordinary legend. It had given birth to
innumerable conjectures; and, I remember, the last waking thought,
which I gave expression to on my pillow, was a sort of wonder "what
could come of it."

I was suddenly transported, how or whither I could scarcely make
out--but to some celestial region. It was not the real heavens
neither--not the downright Bible heaven--but a kind of fairyland
heaven, about which a poor human fancy may have leave to sport and air
itself, I will hope, without presumption.

Methought--what wild things dreams are!--I was present--at what would
you imagine?--at an angel's gossiping.

Whence it came, or how it came, or who bid it come, or whether it came
purely of its own head, neither you nor I know--but there lay, sure
enough, wrapt in its little cloudy swaddling bands--a Child Angel.

Sun-threads--filmy beams--ran through the celestial napery of what
seemed its princely cradle. All the winged orders hovered around,
watching when the new-born should open its yet closed eyes; which,
when it did, first one, and then the other--with a solicitude and
apprehension, yet not such as, stained with fear, dim the expanding
eye-lids of mortal infants, but as if to explore its path in those its
unhereditary palaces--what an inextinguishable titter that time spared
not celestial visages! Nor wanted there to my seeming--O the
inexplicable simpleness of dreams!--bowls of that cheering nectar,

    --which mortals _caudle_ call below.

Nor were wanting faces of female ministrants,--stricken in years, as
it might seem,--so dexterous were those heavenly attendants to
counterfeit kindly similitudes of earth, to greet, with terrestrial
child-rites the young _present_, which earth had made to heaven.

Then were celestial harpings heard, not in full symphony as those by
which the spheres are tutored; but, as loudest instruments on earth
speak oftentimes, muffled so to accommodate their sound the better to
the weak ears of the imperfect-born. And, with the noise of those
subdued soundings, the Angelet sprang forth, fluttering its rudiments
of pinions--but forthwith flagged and was recovered into the arms of
those full-winged angels. And a wonder it was to see how, as years
went round in heaven--a year in dreams is as a day--continually its
white shoulders put forth buds of wings, but, wanting the perfect
angelic nutriment, anon was shorn of its aspiring, and fell
fluttering--still caught by angel hands--for ever to put forth shoots,
and to fall fluttering, because its birth was not of the unmixed
vigour of heaven.

And a name was given to the Babe Angel, and it was to be called
_Ge-Urania_, because its production was of earth and heaven.

And it could not taste of death, by reason of its adoption into
immortal palaces; but it was to know weakness, and reliance, and the
shadow of human imbecility; and it went with a lame gait; but in its
goings it exceeded all mortal children in grace and swiftness. Then
pity first sprang up in angelic bosoms; and yearnings (like the human)
touched them at the sight of the immortal lame one.

And with pain did then first those Intuitive Essences, with pain and
strife to their natures (not grief), put back their bright
intelligences, and reduce their ethereal minds, schooling them to
degrees and slower processes, so to adapt their lessons to the gradual
illumination (as must needs be) of the half-earth-born; and what
intuitive notices they could not repel (by reason that their nature
is, to know all things at once), the half-heavenly novice, by the
better part of its nature, aspired to receive into its understanding;
so that Humility and Aspiration went on even-paced in the instruction
of the glorious Amphibium.

But, by reason that Mature Humanity is too gross to breathe the air of
that super-subtile region, its portion was, and is, to be a child for

And because the human part of it might not press into the heart and
inwards of the palace of its adoption, those full-natured angels
tended it by turns in the purlieus of the palace, where were shady
groves and rivulets, like this green earth from which it came: so
Love, with Voluntary Humility, waited upon the entertainments of the

And myriads of years rolled round (in dreams Time is nothing), and
still it kept, and is to keep, perpetual childhood, and is the Tutelar
Genius of Childhood upon earth, and still goes lame and lovely.

By the banks of the river Pison is seen, lone-sitting by the grave of
the terrestrial Adah, whom the angel Nadir loved, a Child; but not the
same which I saw in heaven. A mournful hue overcasts its lineaments;
nevertheless, a correspondency is between the child by the grave, and
that celestial orphan, whom I saw above; and the dimness of the grief
upon the heavenly, is a shadow or emblem of that which stains the
beauty of the terrestrial. And this correspondency is not to be
understood but by dreams.

And in the archives of heaven I had grace to read, how that once the
angel Nadir, being exiled from his place for mortal passion,
upspringing on the wings of parental love (such power had parental
love for a moment to suspend the else-irrevocable law) appeared for a
brief instant in his station; and, depositing a wondrous Birth,
straightway disappeared, and the palaces knew him no more. And this
charge was the self-same Babe, who goeth lame and lovely--but Adah
sleepeth by the river Pison.



I have an almost feminine partiality for old china. When I go to see
any great house, I enquire for the china-closet, and next for the
picture gallery. I cannot defend the order of preference, but by
saying, that we have all some taste or other, of too ancient a date to
admit of our remembering distinctly that it was an acquired one. I can
call to mind the first play, and the first exhibition, that I was
taken to; but I am not conscious of a time when china jars and saucers
were introduced into my imagination.

I had no repugnance then--why should I now have?--to those little,
lawless, azure-tinctured grotesques, that under the notion of men and
women, float about, uncircumscribed by any element, in that world
before perspective--a china tea-cup.

I like to see my old friends--whom distance cannot diminish--figuring
up in the air (so they appear to our optics), yet on _terra firma_
still--for so we must in courtesy interpret that speck of deeper
blue,--which the decorous artist, to prevent absurdity, had made to
spring up beneath their sandals.

I love the men with women's faces, and the women, if possible, with
still more womanish expressions.

Here is a young and courtly Mandarin, handing tea to a lady from a
salver--two miles off. See how distance seems to set off respect! And
here the same lady, or another--for likeness is identity on
tea-cups--is stepping into a little fairy boat, moored on the hither
side of this calm garden river, with a dainty mincing foot, which in a
right angle of incidence (as angles go in our world) must infallibly
land her in the midst of a flowery mead--a furlong off on the other
side of the same strange stream!

Farther on--if far or near can be predicated of their world--see
horses, trees, pagodas, dancing the hays.

Here--a cow and rabbit couchant, and co-extensive--so objects show,
seen through the lucid atmosphere of fine Cathay.

I was pointing out to my cousin last evening, over our Hyson, (which
we are old fashioned enough to drink unmixed still of an afternoon)
some of these _speciosa miracula_ upon a set of extraordinary old blue
china (a recent purchase) which we were now for the first time using;
and could not help remarking, how favourable circumstances had been to
us of late years, that we could afford to please the eye sometimes
with trifles of this sort--when a passing sentiment seemed to
overshade the brows of my companion. I am quick at detecting these
summer clouds in Bridget.

"I wish the good old times would come again," she said, "when we were
not quite so rich. I do not mean, that I want to be poor; but there
was a middle state"--so she was pleased to ramble on,--"in which I am
sure we were a great deal happier. A purchase is but a purchase, now
that you have money enough and to spare. Formerly it used to be a
triumph. When we coveted a cheap luxury (and, O! how much ado I had to
get you to consent in those times!)--we were used to have a debate two
or three days before, and to weigh the _for_ and _against_, and think
what we might spare it out of, and what saving we could hit upon, that
should be an equivalent. A thing was worth buying then, when we felt
the money that we paid for it."

"Do you remember the brown suit, which you made to hang upon you, till
all your friends cried shame upon you, it grew so thread-bare--and all
because of that folio Beaumont and Fletcher, which you dragged home
late at night from Barker's in Covent Garden? Do you remember how we
eyed it for weeks before we could make up our minds to the purchase,
and had not come to a determination till it was near ten o'clock of
the Saturday night, when you set off from Islington, fearing you
should be too late--and when the old bookseller with some grumbling
opened his shop, and by the twinkling taper (for he was setting
bedwards) lighted out the relic from his dusty treasures--and when you
lugged it home, wishing it were twice as cumbersome--and when you
presented it to me--and when we were exploring the perfectness of it
(_collating_ you called it)--and while I was repairing some of the
loose leaves with paste, which your impatience would not suffer to be
left till daybreak--was there no pleasure in being a poor man? or can
those neat black clothes which you wear now, and are so careful to
keep brushed, since we have become rich and finical, give you half the
honest vanity, with which you flaunted it about in that overworn
suit--your old corbeau--for four or five weeks longer than you should
have done, to pacify your conscience for the mighty sum of fifteen--or
sixteen shillings was it?--a great affair we thought it then--which
you had lavished on the old folio. Now you can afford to buy any book
that pleases you, but I do not see that you ever bring me home any
nice old purchases now."

"When you came home with twenty apologies for laying out a less number
of shillings upon that print after Lionardo, which we christened the
'Lady Blanch;' when you looked at the purchase, and thought of the
money--and thought of the money, and looked again at the picture--was
there no pleasure in being a poor man. Now, you have nothing to do but
to walk into Colnaghi's, and buy a wilderness of Lionardos. Yet do

"Then, do you remember our pleasant walks to Enfield, and Potter's
Bar, and Waltham, when we had a holyday--holydays, and all other fun,
are gone, now we are rich--and the little hand-basket in which I used
to deposit our day's fare of savoury cold lamb and salad--and how you
would pry about at noon-tide for some decent house, where we might go
in, and produce our store--only paying for the ale that you must call
for--and speculate upon the looks of the landlady, and whether she was
likely to allow us a table-cloth--and wish for such another honest
hostess, as Izaak Walton has described many a one on the pleasant
banks of the Lea, when he went a fishing--and sometimes they would
prove obliging enough, and sometimes they would look grudgingly upon
us--but we had cheerful looks still for one another, and would eat our
plain food savorily, scarcely grudging Piscator his Trout Hall?
Now,--when we go out a day's pleasuring, which is seldom moreover, we
_ride_ part of the way--and go into a fine inn, and order the best of
dinners, never debating the expense--which, after all, never has half
the relish of those chance country snaps, when we were at the mercy of
uncertain usage, and a precarious welcome."

"You are too proud to see a play anywhere now but in the pit. Do you
remember where it was we used to sit, when we saw the Battle of
Hexham, and the Surrender of Calais, and Bannister and Mrs. Bland in
the Children in the Wood--when we squeezed out our shillings a-piece
to sit three or four times in a season in the one-shilling
gallery--where you felt all the time that you ought not to have
brought me--and more strongly I felt obligation to you for having
brought me--and the pleasure was the better for a little shame--and
when the curtain drew up, what cared we for our place in the house, or
what mattered it where we were sitting, when our thoughts were with
Rosalind in Arden, or with Viola at the Court of Illyria? You used to
say, that the Gallery was the best place of all for enjoying a play
socially--that the relish of such exhibitions must be in proportion to
the infrequency of going--that the company we met there, not being in
general readers of plays, were obliged to attend the more, and did
attend, to what was going on, on the stage--because a word lost would
have been a chasm, which it was impossible for them to fill up. With
such reflections we consoled our pride then--and I appeal to you,
whether, as a woman, I met generally with less attention and
accommodation, than I have done since in more expensive situations in
the house? The getting in indeed, and the crowding up those
inconvenient staircases, was bad enough,--but there was still a law of
civility to woman recognised to quite as great an extent as we ever
found in the other passages--and how a little difficulty overcome
heightened the snug seat, and the play, afterwards. Now we can only
pay our money and walk in. You cannot see, you say, in the galleries
now. I am sure we saw, and heard too, well enough then--but sight, and
all, I think, is gone with our poverty."

"There was pleasure in eating strawberries, before they became quite
common--in the first dish of peas, while they were yet dear--to have
them for a nice supper, a treat. What treat can we have now? If we
were to treat ourselves now--that is, to have dainties a little above
our means, it would be selfish and wicked. It is very little more that
we allow ourselves beyond what the actual poor can get at, that makes
what I call a treat--when two people living together, as we have done,
now and then indulge themselves in a cheap luxury, which both like;
while each apologises, and is willing to take both halves of the blame
to his single share. I see no harm in people making much of themselves
in that sense of the word. It may give them a hint how to make much of
others. But now--what I mean by the word--we never do make much of
ourselves. None but the poor can do it. I do not mean the veriest poor
of all, but persons as we were, just above poverty."

"I know what you were going to say, that it is mighty pleasant at the
end of the year to make all meet,--and much ado we used to have every
Thirty-first Night of December to account for our exceedings--many a
long face did you make over your puzzled accounts, and in contriving
to make it out how we had spent so much--or that we had not spent so
much--or that it was impossible we should spend so much next year--and
still we found our slender capital decreasing--but then, betwixt ways,
and projects, and compromises of one sort or another, and talk of
curtailing this charge, and doing without that for the future--and the
hope that youth brings, and laughing spirits (in which you were never
poor till now) we pocketed up our loss, and in conclusion, with 'lusty
brimmers' (as you used to quote it out of _hearty cheerful Mr.
Cotton_, as you called him), we used to welcome in the 'coming guest.'
Now we have no reckoning at all at the end of the old year--no
flattering promises about the new year doing better for us."

Bridget is so sparing of her speech on most occasions, that when she
gets into a rhetorical vein, I am careful how I interrupt it. I could
not help, however, smiling at the phantom of wealth which her dear
imagination had conjured up out of a clear income of a poor--hundred
pounds a year. "It is true we were happier when we were poorer, but we
were also younger, my cousin. I am afraid we must put up with the
excess, for if we were to shake the superflux into the sea, we should
not much mend ourselves. That we had much to struggle with, as we grew
up together, we have reason to be most thankful. It strengthened, and
knit our compact closer. We could never have been what we have been to
each other, if we had always had the sufficiency which you now
complain of. The resisting power--those natural dilations of the
youthful spirit, which circumstances cannot straighten--with us are
long since passed away. Competence to age is supplementary youth, a
sorry supplement indeed, but I fear the best that is to be had. We
must ride, where we formerly walked: live better, and lie softer--and
shall be wise to do so--than we had means to do in those good old days
you speak of. Yet could those days return--could you and I once more
walk our thirty miles a-day--could Bannister and Mrs. Bland again be
young, and you and I be young to see them--could the good old
one-shilling gallery days return--they are dreams, my cousin, now--but
could you and I at this moment, instead of this quiet argument, by our
well-carpeted fire-side, sitting on this luxurious sofa--be once more
struggling up those inconvenient stair cases, pushed about, and
squeezed, and elbowed by the poorest rabble or poor gallery
scramblers--could I once more hear those anxious shrieks of yours--and
the delicious _Thank God, we are safe_, which always followed when the
topmost stair, conquered, let in the first light of the whole cheerful
theatre down beneath us--I know not the fathom line that ever touched
a descent so deep as I would be willing to bury more wealth in than
Croesus had, or the great Jew R---- is supposed to have, to purchase
it. And now do just look at that merry little Chinese waiter holding
an umbrella, big enough for a bed-tester, over the head of that pretty
insipid half-Madonaish chit of a lady in that very blue summer house."





Not a man, woman, or child in ten miles round Guildhall, who really
believes this saying. The inventor of it did not believe it himself.
It was made in revenge by somebody who was disappointed of a regale.
It is a vile cold-scrag-of-mutton sophism; a lie palmed upon the
palate, which knows better things. If nothing else could be said for a
feast, this is sufficient, that from the superflux there is usually
something left for the next day. Morally interpreted, it belongs to a
class of proverbs, which have a tendency to make us undervalue
_money_. Of this cast are those notable observations, that money is
not health; riches cannot purchase every thing; the metaphor which
makes gold to be mere muck, with the morality which traces fine
clothing to the sheep's back, and denounces pearl as the unhandsome
excretion of an oyster. Hence, too, the phrase which imputes dirt to
acres--a sophistry so barefaced, that even the literal sense of it is
true only in a wet season. This, and abundance of similar sage saws
assuming to inculcate _content_, we verily believe to have been the
invention of some cunning borrower, who had designs upon the purse of
his wealthier neighbour, which he could only hope to carry by force of
these verbal jugglings. Translate any one of these sayings out of the
artful metonyme which envelopes it, and the trick is apparent. Goodly
legs and shoulders of mutton, exhilarating cordials, books, pictures,
the opportunities of seeing foreign countries, independence, heart's
ease, a man's own time to himself, are not _muck_--however we may be
pleased to scandalise with that appellation the faithful metal that
provides them for us.



This axiom contains a principle of compensation, which disposes us to
admit the truth of it. But there is no safe trusting to dictionaries
and definitions. We should more willingly fall in with this popular
language, if we did not find _brutality_ sometimes awkwardly coupled
with _valour_ in the same vocabulary. The comic writers, with their
poetical justice, have contributed not a little to mislead us upon
this point. To see a hectoring fellow exposed and beaten upon the
stage, has something in it wonderfully diverting. Some people's share
of animal spirits is notoriously low and defective. It has not
strength to raise a vapour, or furnish out the wind of a tolerable
bluster. These love to be told that huffing is no part of valour. The
truest courage with them is that which is the least noisy and
obtrusive. But confront one of these silent heroes with the swaggerer
of real life, and his confidence in the theory quickly vanishes.
Pretensions do not uniformly bespeak non-performance. A modest
inoffensive deportment does not necessarily imply valour; neither does
the absence of it justify us in denying that quality. Hickman wanted
modesty--we do not mean _him_ of Clarissa--but who ever doubted his
courage? Even the poets--upon whom this equitable distribution of
qualities should be most binding--have thought it agreeable to nature
to depart from the rule upon occasion. Harapha, in the "Agonistes," is
indeed a bully upon the received notions. Milton has made him at once
a blusterer, a giant, and a dastard. But Almanzor, in Dryden, talks of
driving armies singly before him--and does it. Tom Brown had a
shrewder insight into this kind of character than either of his
predecessors. He divides the palm more equably, and allows his hero a
sort of dimidiate pre-eminence:--"Bully Dawson kicked by half the
town, and half the town kicked by Bully Dawson." This was true
distributive justice.



At what precise minute that little airy musician doffs his night gear,
and prepares to tune up his unseasonable matins, we are not
naturalists enough to determine. But for a mere human gentleman--that
has no orchestra business to call him from his warm bed to such
preposterous exercises--we take ten, or half after ten (eleven, of
course, during this Christmas solstice), to be the very earliest hour,
at which he can begin to think of abandoning his pillow. We think of
it, we say; for to do it in earnest, requires another half-hour's good
consideration. Not but there are pretty sun-risings, as we are told,
and such like gawds, abroad in the world, in summer time especially,
some hours before what we have assigned; which a gentleman may see, as
they say, only for getting up. But, having been tempted, once or
twice, in earlier life, to assist at those ceremonies, we confess our
curiosity abated. We are no longer ambitious of being the sun's
courtiers, to attend at his morning levees. We hold the good hours of
the dawn too sacred to waste them upon such observances; which have in
them, besides, something Pagan and Persic. To say truth, we never
anticipated our usual hour, or got up with the sun (as 'tis called),
to go a journey, or upon a foolish whole day's pleasuring, but we
suffered for it all the long hours after in listlessness and
headaches; Nature herself sufficiently declaring her sense of our
presumption in aspiring to regulate our frail waking courses by the
measures of that celestial and sleepless traveller. We deny not that
there is something sprightly and vigorous, at the outset especially,
in these break-of-day excursions. It is flattering to get the start of
a lazy world; to conquer death by proxy in his image. But the seeds of
sleep and mortality are in us; and we pay usually in strange qualms
before night falls, the penalty of the unnatural inversion. Therefore,
while the busy part of mankind are fast huddling on their clothes, are
already up and about their occupations, content to have swallowed
their sleep by wholesale; we choose to linger a-bed, and digest our
dreams. It is the very time to recombine the wandering images, which
night in a confused mass presented; to snatch them from forgetfulness;
to shape, and mould them. Some people have no good of their dreams.
Like fast feeders, they gulp them too grossly, to taste them
curiously. We love to chew the cud of a foregone vision; to collect
the scattered rays of a brighter phantasm, or act over again, with
firmer nerves, the sadder nocturnal tragedies; to drag into day-light
a struggling and half-vanishing night-mare; to handle and examine the
terrors, or the airy solaces. We have too much respect for these
spiritual communications, to let them go so lightly. We are not so
stupid, or so careless, as that Imperial forgetter of his dreams, that
we should need a seer to remind us of the form of them. They seem to
us to have as much significance as our waking concerns; or rather to
import us more nearly, as more nearly we approach by years to the
shadowy world, whither we are hastening. We have shaken hands with the
world's business; we have done with it; we have discharged ourself of
it. Why should we get up? we have neither suit to solicit, nor affairs
to manage. The drama has shut in upon us at the fourth act. We have
nothing here to expect, but in a short time a sick bed, and a
dismissal. We delight to anticipate death by such shadows as night
affords. We are already half acquainted with ghosts. We were never
much in the world. Disappointment early struck a dark veil between us
and its dazzling illusions. Our spirits showed grey before our hairs.
The mighty changes of the world already appear as but the vain stuff
out of which dramas are composed. We have asked no more of life than
what the mimic images in play-houses present us with. Even those types
have waxed fainter. Our clock appears to have struck. We are
SUPERANNUATED. In this dearth of mundane satisfaction, we contract
politic alliances with shadows. It is good to have friends at court.
The abstracted media of dreams seem no ill introduction to that
spiritual presence, upon which, in no long time, we expect to be
thrown. We are trying to know a little of the usages of that colony;
to learn the language, and the faces we shall meet with there, that we
may be less awkward at our first coming among them. We willingly call
a phantom our fellow, as knowing we shall soon be of their dark
companionship. Therefore, we cherish dreams. We try to spell in them
the alphabet of the invisible world; and think we know already, how it
shall be with us. Those uncouth shapes, which, while we clung to flesh
and blood, affrighted us, have become familiar. We feel attenuated
into their meagre essences, and have given the hand of half-way
approach to incorporeal being. We once thought life to be something;
but it has unaccountably fallen from us before its time. Therefore we
choose to dally with visions. The sun has no purposes of ours to light
us to. Why should we get up?



The pride of my heart and the delight of my eyes is my garden. Our
house, which is in dimensions very much like a bird-cage, and might,
with almost equal convenience, be laid on a shelf or hung up in a
tree, would be utterly unbearable in wet weather were it not that we
have a retreat out of doors, and a very pleasant retreat it is. To
make my readers comprehend it I must describe our whole territories.

Fancy a small plot of ground with a pretty, low, irregular cottage at
one end; a large granary, divided from the dwelling by a little court
running along one side; and a long thatched shed, open towards the
garden, and supported by wooden pillars, on the other. The bottom is
bounded half by an old wall and half by an old paling, over which we
see a pretty distance of woody hills. The house, granary, wall, and
paling, are covered with vines, cherry-trees, roses, honeysuckles, and
jessamines, with great clusters of tall hollyhocks running up between
them; a large elder overhanging the little gate, and a magnificent
bay-tree, such a tree as shall scarcely be matched in these parts,
breaking with its beautiful conical form the horizontal lines of the
buildings. This is my garden; and the long pillared shed, the sort of
rustic arcade, which runs along one side, parted from the flower-beds
by a row of geraniums, is our out-of-door drawing-room.

I know nothing so pleasant as to sit there on a summer afternoon, with
the western sun flickering through the great elder-tree, and lighting
up our gay parterres, where flowers and flowering shrubs are set as
thick as grass in a field, a wilderness of blossom, interwoven,
intertwined, wreathy, garlandy, profuse beyond all profusion, where we
may guess that there is such a thing as mould, but never see it. I
know nothing so pleasant as to sit in the shade of that dark bower,
with the eye resting on that bright piece of colour, lighted so
gloriously by the evening sun, now catching a glimpse of the little
birds as they fly rapidly in and out of their nests--for there are
always two or three birds'-nests in the thick tapestry of
cherry-trees, honeysuckles, and china-roses, which covers our
walls--now tracing the gay gambols of the common butterflies as they
sport around the dahlias; now watching that rarer moth, which the
country people, fertile in pretty names, call the bee-bird;[27] that
bird-like insect, which flutters in the hottest days over the sweetest
flowers, inserting its long proboscis into the small tube of the
jessamine, and hovering over the scarlet blossom of the geranium,
whose bright colour seems reflected on its own feathery breast: that
insect which seems so thoroughly a creature of the air, never at rest;
always, even when feeding, self-poised and self-supported, and whose
wings, in their ceaseless motion, have a sound so deep, so full, so
lulling, so musical. Nothing so pleasant as to sit amid that mixture
of rich flowers and leaves, watching the bee-bird! Nothing so pretty
to look at as my garden! It is quite a picture; only unluckily it
resembles a picture in more qualities than one--it is fit for nothing
but to look at. One might as well think of walking in a bit of framed
canvas. There are walks, to be sure--tiny paths of smooth gravel, by
courtesy called such--but they are so overhung by roses and lilies,
and such gay encroachers--so overrun by convolvulus, and heart's-ease,
and mignonette, and other sweet stragglers, that, except to edge
through them occasionally for the purpose of planting, or weeding, or
watering, there might as well be no paths at all. Nobody thinks of
walking in my garden. Even May glides along with a delicate and
trackless step, like a swan through the water; and we, its two-footed
denizens, are fain to treat it as if it were really a saloon, and go
out for a walk towards sunset, just as if we had not been sitting in
the open air all day.

[Footnote 27: Sphinx lugustri, privet hawk-moth.]

What a contrast from the quiet garden to the lively street! Saturday
night is always a time of stir and bustle in our village, and this is
Whitsun-Eve, the pleasantest Saturday of all the year, when London
journeymen and servant lads and lasses snatch a short holiday to visit
their families. A short and precious holiday, the happiest and
liveliest of any; for even the gambols and merry-makings of Christmas
offer but a poor enjoyment compared with the rural diversions, the
Mayings, revels, and cricket-matches of Whitsuntide.

We ourselves are to have a cricket-match on Monday, not played by the
men, who, since a certain misadventure with the Beech-hillers, are, I
am sorry to say, rather chop-fallen, but by the boys, who, zealous for
the honour of their parish, and headed by their bold leader, Ben
Kirby, marched in a body to our antagonists' ground the Sunday after
our melancholy defeat, challenged the boys of that proud hamlet, and
beat them out and out on the spot. Never was a more signal victory.
Our boys enjoyed this triumph with so little moderation that it had
like to have produced a very tragical catastrophe. The captain of the
Beech-hill youngsters, a capital bowler, by name Amos Stone, enraged
past all bearing by the crowing of his adversaries, flung the ball at
Ben Kirby with so true an aim that if that sagacious leader had not
warily ducked his head when he saw it coming, there would probably
have been a coroner's inquest on the case, and Amos Stone would have
been tried for manslaughter. He let fly with such vengeance, that the
cricket-ball was found embedded in a bank of clay five hundred yards
off, as if it had been a cannon shot. Tom Coper and Farmer Thackum,
the umpires, both say they never saw so tremendous a ball. If Amos
Stone live to be a man (I mean to say if he be not hanged first) he'll
be a pretty player. He is coming here on Monday with his party to play
the return match, the umpires having respectively engaged Farmer
Thackum that Amos shall keep the peace, Tom Coper that Ben shall give
no unnecessary or wanton provocation--a nicely worded and lawyer-like
clause, and one that proves that Tom Coper hath his doubts of the
young gentleman's discretion; and, of a truth, so have I. I would not
be Ben Kirby's surety, cautiously as the security is worded--no! not
for a white double dahlia, the present object of my ambition.

This village of ours is swarming to-night like a hive of bees, and all
the church bells round are pouring out their merriest peals, as if to
call them together. I must try to give some notion of the various

First, there is a group suited to Teniers, a cluster of out-of-door
customers of the Rose, old benchers of the inn, who sit round a table
smoking and drinking in high solemnity to the sound of Timothy's
fiddle. Next, a mass of eager boys, the combatants of Monday, who are
surrounding the shoemaker's shop, where an invisible hole in their
ball is mending by Master Keep himself, under the joint
superintendence of Ben Kirby and Tom Coper. Ben showing much verbal
respect and outward deference for his umpire's judgment and
experience, but managing to get the ball done his own way after all;
whilst outside the shop, the rest of the eleven, the less trusted
commons, are shouting and bawling round Joel Brent, who is twisting
the waxed twine round the handles of the bats--the poor bats, which
please nobody, which the taller youths are despising as too little and
too light, and the smaller are abusing as too heavy and too large.
Happy critics! winning their match can hardly be a greater
delight--even if to win it they be doomed! Farther down the street is
the pretty black-eyed girl, Sally Wheeler, come home for a day's
holiday from B., escorted by a tall footman in a dashing livery, whom
she is trying to curtsy off before her deaf grandmother sees him. I
wonder whether she will succeed!

Ascending the hill are two couples of a different description. Daniel
Tubb and his fair Valentine, walking boldly along like licensed
lovers; they have been asked twice in church, and are to be married on
Tuesday; and closely following that happy pair, near each other but
not together, come Jem Tanner and Mabel Green, the poor culprits of
the wheat-hoeing. Ah! the little clerk hath not relented! The course
of true love doth not yet run smooth in that quarter. Jem dodges
along, whistling "Cherry-ripe," pretending to walk by himself, and to
be thinking of nobody; but every now and then he pauses in his
negligent saunter, and turns round outright to steal a glance at
Mabel, who, on her part, is making believe to walk with poor Olive
Hathaway, the lame mantua-maker, and even affecting to talk and to
listen to that gentle, humble creature, as she points to the wild
flowers on the common, and the lambs and children disporting amongst
the gorse, but whose thought and eyes are evidently fixed on Jem
Tanner, as she meets his backward glance with a blushing smile, and
half springs forward to meet him: whilst Olive has broken off the
conversation as soon as she perceived the pre-occupation of her
companion, and begun humming, perhaps unconsciously, two or three
lines of Burns, whose "Whistle and I'll come to ye, my lad," and "Gi'e
me a glance of thy bonny black e'e," were never better exemplified
than in the couple before her. Really, it is curious to watch them,
and to see how gradually the attraction of this tantalising vicinity
becomes irresistible, and the rustic lover rushes to his pretty
mistress like the needle to the magnet. On they go, trusting to the
deepening twilight, to the little clerk's absence, to the good humour
of the happy lads and lasses who are passing and repassing on all
sides--or rather, perhaps, in a happy oblivion of the cross uncle, the
kind villagers, the squinting lover, and the whole world. On they
trip, arm in arm, he trying to catch a glimpse of her glowing face
under her bonnet, and she hanging down her head, and avoiding his gaze
with a mixture of modesty and coquetry, which well becomes the rural
beauty. On they go, with a reality and intensity of affection which
must overcome all obstacles; and poor Olive follows her with an
evident sympathy in their happiness which makes her almost as enviable
as they; and we pursue our walk amidst the moonshine and the
nightingales, with Jacob Frost's cart looming in the distance, and the
merry sounds of Whitsuntide, the shout, the laugh, and the song,
echoing all around us, like "noises of the air."

    _Mary Russell Mitford._


One of the pleasantest things in the world is going a journey; but I
like to go by myself. I can enjoy society in a room; but out of doors,
nature is company enough for me. I am then never less alone than when

    "The fields his study, nature was his book."

I cannot see the wit of walking and talking at the same time. When I
am in the country, I wish to vegetate like the country. I am not for
criticising hedge-rows and black cattle. I go out of town in order to
forget the town and all that is in it. There are those who for this
purpose go to watering-places, and carry the metropolis with them. I
like more elbow-room, and fewer incumbrances. I like solitude, when I
give myself up to it, for the sake of solitude; nor do I ask for

        "----a friend in my retreat,
    Whom I may whisper solitude is sweet."

The soul of a journey is liberty, perfect liberty, to think, feel, do
just as one pleases. We go a journey chiefly to be free of all
impediments and of all inconveniences; to leave ourselves behind, much
more to get rid of others. It is because I want a little
breathing-space to muse on indifferent matters, where Contemplation

    "May plume her feathers and let grow her wings,
    That in the various bustle of resort
    Were all too ruffled, and sometimes impair'd,"

that I absent myself from the town for awhile, without feeling at a
loss the moment I am left by myself. Instead of a friend in a
post-chaise or in a Tilbury, to exchange good things with, and vary
the same stale topics over again, for once let me have a truce with
impertinence. Give me the clear blue sky over my head, and the green
turf beneath my feet, a winding road before me, and a three hours'
march to dinner--and then to thinking! It is hard if I cannot start
some game on these lone heaths. I laugh, I run, I leap, I sing for
joy. From the point of yonder rolling cloud, I plunge into my past
being, and revel there, as the sun-burnt Indian plunges headlong into
the wave that wafts him to his native shore. Then long-forgotten
things, like "sunken wrack and sumless treasuries," burst upon my
eager sight, and I begin to feel, think, and be myself again. Instead
of an awkward silence, broken by attempts at wit or dull
common-places, mine is that undisturbed silence of the heart which
alone is perfect eloquence. No one likes puns, alliterations,
antitheses, argument, and analysis better than I do; but I sometimes
had rather be without them. "Leave, oh, leave me to my repose!" I have
just now other business in hand, which would seem idle to you, but is
with me "very stuff of the conscience." Is not this wild rose sweet
without a comment? Does not this daisy leap to my heart set in its
coat of emerald? Yet if I were to explain to you the circumstance that
has so endeared it to me, you would only smile. Had I not better then
keep it to myself, and let it serve me to brood over, from here to
yonder craggy point, and from thence onward to the far-distant
horizon? I should be but bad company all that way, and therefore
prefer being alone. I have heard it said that you may, when the moody
fit comes on, walk or ride on by yourself, and indulge your reveries.
But this looks like a breach of manners, a neglect of others, and you
are thinking all the time that you ought to rejoin your party. "Out
upon such half-faced fellowship," say I. I like to be either entirely
to myself, or entirely at the disposal of others; to talk or be
silent, to walk or sit still, to be sociable or solitary. I was
pleased with an observation of Mr. Cobbett's, that "he thought it a
bad French custom to drink our wine with our meals, and that an
Englishman ought to do only one thing at a time." So I cannot talk and
think, or indulge in melancholy musing and lively conversation by fits
and starts, "Let me have a companion of my way," says Sterne, "were it
but to remark how the shadows lengthen as the sun declines." It is
beautifully said: but in my opinion, this continual comparing of notes
interferes with the involuntary impression of things upon the mind,
and hurts the sentiment. If you only hint what you feel in a kind of
dumb show, it is insipid: if you have to explain it, it is making a
toil of a pleasure. You cannot read the book of nature, without being
perpetually put to the trouble of translating it for the benefit of
others. I am for the synthetical method on a journey, in preference to
the analytical. I am content to lay in a stock of ideas then, and to
examine and anatomise them afterwards. I want to see my vague notions
float like the down of the thistle before the breeze, and not to have
them entangled in the briars and thorns of controversy. For once, I
like to have it all my own way; and this is impossible unless you are
alone, or in such company as I do not covet. I have no objection to
argue a point with any one for twenty miles of measured road, but not
for pleasure. If you remark the scent of a beanfield crossing the
road, perhaps your fellow-traveller has no smell. If you point to a
distant object, perhaps he is short-sighted, and has to take out his
glass to look at it. There is a feeling in the air, a tone in the
colour of a cloud which hits your fancy, but the effect of which you
are unable to account for. There is then no sympathy, but an uneasy
craving after it, and a dissatisfaction which pursues you on the way,
and in the end probably produces ill humour. Now I never quarrel with
myself, and take all my own conclusions for granted till I find it
necessary to defend them against objections. It is not merely that you
may not be of accord on the objects and circumstances that present
themselves before you--these may recal a number of objects, and lead
to associations too delicate and refined to be possibly communicated
to others. Yet these I love to cherish, and sometimes still fondly
clutch them, when I can escape from the throng to do so. To give way
to our feelings before company, seems extravagance or affectation; and
on the other hand, to have to unravel this mystery of our being at
every turn, and to make others take an equal interest in it (otherwise
the end is not answered) is a task to which few are competent. We must
"give it an understanding, but no tongue." My old friend C----,
however, could do both. He could go on in the most delightful
explanatory way over hill and dale, a summer's day, and convert a
landscape into a didactic poem or a Pindaric ode. "He talked far above
singing." If I could so clothe my ideas in sounding and flowing words,
I might perhaps wish to have some one with me to admire the swelling
theme; or I could be more content, were it possible for me still to
hear his echoing voice in the woods of All-Foxden. They had "that fine
madness in them which our first poets had;" and if they could have
been caught by some rare instrument, would have breathed such strains
as the following.

        "----Here be woods as green
    As any, air likewise as fresh and sweet
    As when smooth Zephyrus plays on the fleet
    Face of the curled stream, with flow'rs as many
    As the young spring gives, and as choice as any;
    Here be all new delights, cool streams and wells,
    Arbours o'ergrown with woodbine, caves and dells;
    Choose where thou wilt, while I sit by and sing,
    Or gather rushes to make many a ring
    For thy long fingers; tell thee tales of love,
    How the pale Phoebe, hunting in a grove,
    First saw the boy Endymion, from whose eyes
    She took eternal fire that never dies;
    How she convey'd him softly in a sleep,
    His temples bound with poppy, to the steep
    Head of old Latmos, where she stoops each night,
    Gilding the mountain with her brother's light,
    To kiss her sweetest."----

    Faithful Shepherdess.

Had I words and images at command like these, I would attempt to wake
the thoughts that lie slumbering on golden ridges in the evening
clouds: but at the sight of nature my fancy, poor as it is, droops and
closes up its leaves, like flowers at sunset. I can make nothing out
on the spot:--I must have time to collect myself.--

In general, a good thing spoils out-of-door prospects: it should be
reserved for Table-talk. L---- is for this reason, I take it, the
worst company in the world out of doors; because he is the best
within. I grant, there is one subject on which it is pleasant to talk
on a journey; and that is, what one shall have for supper when we get
to our inn at night. The open air improves this sort of conversation
or friendly altercation, by setting a keener edge on appetite. Every
mile of the road heightens the flavour of the viands we expect at the
end of it. How fine it is to enter some old town, walled and turreted
just at the approach of night-fall, or to come to some straggling
village, with the lights streaming through the surrounding gloom; and
then after inquiring for the best entertainment that the place
affords, to "take one's ease at one's inn!" These eventful moments in
our lives' history are too precious, too full of solid, heart-felt
happiness to be frittered and dribbled away in imperfect sympathy. I
would have them all to myself, and drain them to the last drop: they
will do to talk of or to write about afterwards. What a delicate
speculation it is, after drinking whole goblets of tea,

    "The cups that cheer, but not inebriate,"

and letting the fumes ascend into the brain, to sit considering what
we shall have for supper--eggs and a rasher, a rabbit smothered in
onions, or an excellent veal-cutlet! Sancho in such a situation once
fixed upon cow-heel; and his choice, though he could not help it, is
not to be disparaged. Then in the intervals of pictured scenery and
Shandean contemplation, to catch the preparation and the stir in the
kitchen--_Procul, O procul este profani!_ These hours are sacred to
silence and to musing, to be treasured up in the memory, and to feed
the source of smiling thoughts hereafter. I would not waste them in
idle talk; or if I must have the integrity of fancy broken in upon, I
would rather it were by a stranger than a friend. A stranger takes his
hue and character from the time and place; he is a part of the
furniture and costume of an inn. If he is a Quaker, or from the West
Riding of Yorkshire, so much the better. I do not even try to
sympathise with him, and he breaks no squares. I associate nothing
with my travelling companion but present objects and passing events.
In his ignorance of me and my affairs, I in a manner forget myself.
But a friend reminds one of other things, rips up old grievances, and
destroys the abstraction of the scene. He comes in ungraciously
between us and our imaginary character. Something is dropped in the
course of conversation that gives a hint of your profession and
pursuits; or from having some one with you that knows the less sublime
portions of your history, it seems that other people do. You are no
longer a citizen of the world: but your "unhoused free condition is
put into circumscription and confine." The _incognito_ of an inn is
one of its striking privileges--"lord of one's-self, uncumber'd with a
name." Oh! it is great to shake off the trammels of the world and of
public opinion--to lose our importunate, tormenting, everlasting
personal identity in the elements of nature, and become the creature
of the moment, clear of all ties--to hold to the universe only by a
dish of sweet-breads, and to owe nothing but the score of the
evening--and no longer seeking for applause and meeting with contempt,
to be known by no other title than _the Gentleman in the parlour_! One
may take one's choice of all characters in this romantic state of
uncertainty as to one's real pretensions, and become indefinitely
respectable and negatively right-worshipful. We baffle prejudice and
disappoint conjecture; and from being so to others, begin to be
objects of curiosity and wonder even to ourselves. We are no more
those hackneyed commonplaces that we appear in the world: an inn
restores us to the level of nature, and quits scores with society! I
have certainly spent some enviable hours at inns--sometimes when I
have been left entirely to myself, and have tried to solve some
metaphysical problem, as once at Witham-common, where I found out the
proof that likeness is not a case of the association of ideas--at
other times, when there have been pictures in the room, as at St.
Neot's, (I think it was) where I first met with Gribelin's engravings
of the Cartoons, into which I entered at once, and at a little inn on
the borders of Wales, where there happened to be hanging some of
Westall's drawings, which I compared triumphantly (for a theory that I
had, not for the admired artist) with the figure of a girl who had
ferried me over the Severn, standing up in the boat between me and the
twilight--at other times I might mention luxuriating in books, with a
peculiar interest in this way, as I remember sitting up half the night
to read Paul and Virginia, which I picked up at an inn at Bridgewater,
after being drenched in the rain all day; and at the same place I got
through two volumes of Madame D'Arblay's Camilla. It was on the tenth
of April, 1798, that I sat down to a volume of the New Eloise, at the
inn at Llangollen, over a bottle of sherry and a cold chicken. The
letter I chose was that in which St. Preux describes his feelings as
he first caught a glimpse from the heights of the Jura of the Pays de
Vaud, which I had brought with me as a _bon bouche_ to crown the
evening with. It was my birth-day, and I had for the first time come
from a place in the neighbourhood to visit this delightful spot. The
road to Llangollen turns off between Chirk and Wrexham; and on passing
a certain point, you come all at once upon the valley, which opens
like an amphitheatre, broad, barren hills rising in majestic state on
either side, with "green upland swells that echo to the bleat of
flocks" below, and the river Dee babbling over its stony bed in the
midst of them. The valley at this time "glittered green with sunny
showers," and a budding ash-tree dipped its tender branches in the
chiding stream. How proud, how glad I was to walk along the high road
that overlooks the delicious prospect, repeating the lines which I
have just quoted from Mr. Coleridge's poems. But besides the prospect
which opened beneath my feet, another also opened to my inward sight,
a heavenly vision, on which were written, in letters large as Hope
could make them, these four words, LIBERTY, GENIUS, LOVE, VIRTUE;
which have since faded into the light of common day, or mock my idle

    "The beautiful is vanished, and returns not."

Still I would return some time or other to this enchanted spot; but I
would return to it alone. What other self could I find to share that
influx of thoughts, of regret, and delight, the fragments of which I
could hardly conjure up to myself, so much have they been broken and
defaced! I could stand on some tall rock, and overlook the precipice
of years that separates me from what I then was. I was at that time
going shortly to visit the poet whom I have above named. Where is he
now? Not only I myself have changed; the world, which was then new to
me, has become old and incorrigible. Yet will I turn to thee in
thought, O sylvan Dee, in joy, in youth and gladness as thou then
wert; and thou shalt always be to me the river of Paradise, where I
will drink of the waters of life freely!

There is hardly any thing that shows the short-sightedness or
capriciousness of the imagination more than travelling does. With
change of place we change our ideas; nay, our opinions and feelings.
We can by an effort indeed transport ourselves to old and
long-forgotten scenes, and then the picture of the mind revives again;
but we forget those that we have just left. It seems that we can think
but of one place at a time. The canvas of the fancy is but of a
certain extent, and if we paint one set of objects upon it, they
immediately efface every other. We cannot enlarge our conceptions, we
only shift our point of view. The landscape bares its bosom to the
enraptured eye, we take our fill of it, and seem as if we could form
no other image of beauty or grandeur. We pass on, and think no more of
it: the horizon that shuts it from our sight, also blots it from our
memory like a dream. In travelling through a wild barren country, I
can form no idea of a woody and cultivated one. It appears to me that
all the world must be barren, like what I see of it. In the country we
forget the town, and in town we despise the country. "Beyond Hyde
Park," says Sir Fopling Flutter, "all is a desert." All that part of
the map that we do not see before us is a blank. The world in our
conceit of it is not much bigger than a nutshell. It is not one
prospect expanded into another, county joined to county, kingdom to
kingdom, lands to seas, making an image voluminous and vast;--the mind
can form no larger idea of space than the eye can take in at a single
glance. The rest is a name written in a map, a calculation of
arithmetic. For instance, what is the true signification of that
immense mass of territory and population, known by the name of China
to us? An inch of paste-board on a wooden globe, of no more account
than a China orange! Things near us are seen of the size of life:
things at a distance are diminished to the size of the understanding.
We measure the universe by ourselves, and even comprehend the texture
of our own being only piece-meal. In this way, however, we remember an
infinity of things and places. The mind is like a mechanical
instrument that plays a great variety of tunes, but it must play them
in succession. One idea recalls another, but it at the same time
excludes all others. In trying to renew old recollections, we cannot
as it were unfold the whole web of our existence; we must pick out the
single threads. So in coming to a place where we have formerly lived
and with which we have intimate associations, every one must have
found that the feeling grows more vivid the nearer we approach the
spot, from the mere anticipation of the actual impression: we remember
circumstances, feelings, persons, faces, names, that we had not
thought of for years; but for the time all the rest of the world is
forgotten!--To return to the question I have quitted above.

I have no objection to go to see ruins, aqueducts, pictures, in
company with a friend or a party, but rather the contrary, for the
former reason reversed. They are intelligible matters, and will bear
talking about. The sentiment here is not tacit, but communicable and
overt. Salisbury Plain is barren of criticism, but Stonehenge will
bear a discussion antiquarian, picturesque, and philosophical. In
setting out on a party of pleasure, the first consideration always is
where we shall go to: in taking a solitary ramble, the question is
what we shall meet with by the way. "The mind is its own place;" nor
are we anxious to arrive at the end of our journey. I can myself do
the honours indifferently well to works of art and curiosity. I once
took a party to Oxford with no mean _eclat_--shewed them that seat of
the Muses at a distance,

    "With glistering spires and pinnacles adorn'd"--

descanted on the learned air that breathes from the grassy quadrangles
and stone walls of halls and colleges--was at home in the Bodleian;
and at Blenheim quite superseded the powdered Ciceroni that attended
us, and that pointed in vain with his wand to common-place beauties in
matchless pictures.--As another exception to the above reasoning, I
should not feel confident in venturing on a journey in a foreign
country without a companion. I should want at intervals to hear the
sound of my own language. There is an involuntary antipathy in the
mind of an Englishman to foreign manners and notions that requires the
assistance of social sympathy to carry it off. As the distance from
home increases, this relief, which was at first a luxury, becomes a
passion and an appetite. A person would almost feel stifled to find
himself in the deserts of Arabia without friends and countrymen: there
must be allowed to be something in the view of Athens or old Rome that
claims the utterance of speech; and I own that the Pyramids are too
mighty for any simple contemplation. In such situations, so opposite
to all one's ordinary train of ideas, one seems a species by
one's-self, a limb torn off from society, unless one can meet with
instant fellowship and support.--Yet I did not feel this want or
craving very pressing once, when I first set my foot on the laughing
shores of France. Calais was peopled with novelty and delight. The
confused, busy murmur of the place was like oil and wine poured into
my ears; nor did the mariners' hymn, which was sung from the top of an
old crazy vessel in the harbour, as the sun went down, send an alien
sound into my soul. I only breathed the air of general humanity. I
walked over "the vine-covered hills and gay regions of France," erect
and satisfied; for the image of man was not cast down and chained to
the foot of arbitrary thrones: I was at no loss for language, for that
of all the great schools of painting was open to me. The whole is
vanished like a shade. Pictures, heroes, glory, freedom, all are fled:
nothing remains but the Bourbons and the French people!--There is
undoubtedly a sensation in travelling into foreign parts that is to be
had nowhere else: but it is more pleasing at the time than lasting. It
is too remote from our habitual associations to be a common topic of
discourse or reference, and, like a dream or another state of
existence, does not piece into our daily modes of life. It is an
animated but a momentary hallucination. It demands an effort to
exchange our actual for our ideal identity; and to feel the pulse of
our old transports revive very keenly, we must "jump" all our present
comforts and connexions. Our romantic and itinerant character is not
to be domesticated. Dr. Johnson remarked how little foreign travel
added to the facilities of conversation in those who had been abroad.
In fact, the time we have spent there is both delightful and in one
sense instructive; but it appears to be cut out of our substantial,
downright existence, and never to join kindly on to it. We are not the
same, but another, and perhaps more enviable individual, all the time
we are out of our own country. We are lost to ourselves, as well as
our friends. So the poet somewhat quaintly sings,

    "Out of my country and myself I go."

Those who wish to forget painful thoughts, do well to absent
themselves for a while from the ties and objects that recal them: but
we can be said only to fulfil our destiny in the place that gave us
birth. I should on this account like well enough to spend the whole of
my life in travelling abroad, if I could any where borrow another life
to spend afterwards at home!



    "Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow,
    Or by the lazy Scheldt or wandering Po."

[Footnote 28: Written at Winterslow Hut, January 18th-19th, 1821.]

I never was in a better place or humour than I am at present for
writing on this subject. I have a partridge getting ready for my
supper, my fire is blazing on the hearth, the air is mild for the
season of the year, I have had but a slight fit of indigestion to-day
(the only thing that makes me abhor myself), I have three hours good
before me, and therefore I will attempt it. It is as well to do it at
once as to have it to do for a week to come.

If the writing on this subject is no easy task, the thing itself is a
harder one. It asks a troublesome effort to ensure the admiration of
others: it is a still greater one to be satisfied with one's own
thoughts. As I look from the window at the wide bare heath before me,
and through the misty moon-light air see the woods that wave over the
top of Winterslow,

    "While Heav'n's chancel-vault is blind with sleet,"

my mind takes its flight through too long a series of years, supported
only by the patience of thought and secret yearnings after truth and
good, for me to be at a loss to understand the feeling I intend to
write about; but I do not know that this will enable me to convey it
more agreeably to the reader.

Lady G. in a letter to Miss Harriet Byron, assures her that "her
brother Sir Charles lived to himself:" and Lady L. soon after (for
Richardson was never tired of a good thing) repeats the same
observation; to which Miss Byron frequently returns in her answers to
both sisters--"For you know Sir Charles lives to himself," till at
length it passes into a proverb among the fair correspondents. This is
not, however, an example of what I understand by _living to
one's-self_, for Sir Charles Grandison was indeed always thinking of
himself; but by this phrase I mean never thinking at all about
one's-self, any more than if there was no such person in existence.
The character I speak of is as little of an egotist as possible:
Richardson's great favourite was as much of one as possible. Some
satirical critic has represented him in Elysium "bowing over the
_faded_ hand of Lady Grandison" (Miss Byron that was)--he ought to
have been represented bowing over his own hand, for he never admired
any one but himself, and was the god of his own idolatry. Neither do I
call it living to one's-self to retire into a desert (like the saints
and martyrs of old) to be devoured by wild beasts, nor to descend into
a cave to be considered as a hermit, nor to get to the top of a pillar
or rock to do fanatic penance and be seen of all men. What I mean by
living to one's-self is living in the world, as in it, not of it: it
is as if no one knew there was such a person, and you wished no one to
know it: it is to be a silent spectator of the mighty scene of things,
not an object of attention or curiosity in it; to take a thoughtful,
anxious interest in what is passing in the world, but not to feel the
slightest inclination to make or meddle with it. It is such a life as
a pure spirit might be supposed to lead, and such an interest as it
might take in the affairs of men, calm, contemplative, passive,
distant, touched with pity for their sorrows, smiling at their follies
without bitterness, sharing their affections, but not troubled by
their passions, not seeking their notice, not once dreamt of by them.
He who lives wisely to himself and to his own heart, looks at the busy
world through the loop-holes of retreat, and does not want to mingle
in the fray. "He hears the tumult, and is still." He is not able to
mend it, nor willing to mar it. He sees enough in the universe to
interest him without putting himself forward to try what he can do to
fix the eyes of the universe upon him. Vain the attempt! He reads the
clouds, he looks at the stars, he watches the return of the seasons,
the falling leaves of autumn, the perfumed breath of spring, starts
with delight at the note of a thrush in a copse near him, sits by the
fire, listens to the moaning of the wind, pores upon a book, or
discourses the freezing hours away, or melts down hours to minutes in
pleasing thought. All this while he is taken up with other things,
forgetting himself. He relishes an author's style, without thinking of
turning author. He is fond of looking at a print from an old picture
in the room, without teasing himself to copy it. He does not fret
himself to death with trying to be what he is not, or to do what he
cannot. He hardly knows what he is capable of, and is not in the least
concerned whether he shall ever make a figure in the world. He feels
the truth of the lines--

    "The man whose eye is ever on himself,
    Doth look on one, the least of nature's works;
    One who might move the wise man to that scorn
    Which wisdom holds unlawful ever"--

he looks out of himself at the wide extended prospect of nature, and
takes an interest beyond his narrow pretensions in general humanity.
He is free as air, and independent as the wind. Woe be to him when he
first begins to think what others say of him. While a man is contented
with himself and his own resources, all is well. When he undertakes to
play a part on the stage, and to persuade the world to think more
about him than they do about themselves, he is got into a track where
he will find nothing but briars and thorns, vexation and
disappointment. I can speak a little to this point. For many years of
my life I did nothing but think. I had nothing else to do but solve
some knotty point, or dip in some abstruse author, or look at the sky,
or wander by the pebbled sea-side--

    "To see the children sporting on the shore,
    And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore."

I cared for nothing, I wanted nothing. I took my time to consider
whatever occurred to me, and was in no hurry to give a sophistical
answer to a question--there was no printer's devil waiting for me. I
used to write a page or two perhaps in half a year; and remember
laughing heartily at the celebrated experimentalist Nicholson, who
told me that in twenty years he had written as much as would make
three hundred octavo volumes. If I was not a great author, I could
read with ever fresh delight, "never ending, still beginning," and had
no occasion to write a criticism when I had done. If I could not paint
like Claude, I could admire "the witchery of the soft blue sky" as I
walked out, and was satisfied with the pleasure it gave me. If I was
dull, it gave me little concern: if I was lively, I indulged my
spirits. I wished well to the world, and believed as favourably of it
as I could. I was like a stranger in a foreign land, at which I looked
with wonder, curiosity, and delight, without expecting to be an object
of attention in return. I had no relations to the state, no duty to
perform, no ties to bind me to others: I had neither friend nor
mistress, wife or child. I lived in a world of contemplation, and not
of action.

This sort of dreaming existence is the best. He who quits it to go in
search of realities, generally barters repose for repeated
disappointments and vain regrets. His time, thoughts, and feelings are
no longer at his own disposal. From that instant he does not survey
the objects of nature as they are in themselves, but looks asquint at
them to see whether he cannot make them the instruments of his
ambition, interest, or pleasure; for a candid, undesigning,
undisguised simplicity of character, his views become jaundiced,
sinister, and double: he takes no farther interest in the great
changes of the world but as he has a paltry share in producing them:
instead of opening his senses, his understanding, and his heart to the
resplendent fabric of the universe, he holds a crooked mirror before
his face, in which he may admire his own person and pretensions, and
just glance his eye aside to see whether others are not admiring him
too. He no more exists in the impression which "the fair variety of
things" makes upon him, softened and subdued by habitual
contemplation, but in the feverish sense of his own upstart
self-importance. By aiming to fix, he is become the slave of opinion.
He is a tool, a part of a machine that never stands still, and is sick
and giddy with the ceaseless motion. He has no satisfaction but in the
reflection of his own image in the public gaze, but in the repetition
of his own name in the public ear. He himself is mixed up with, and
spoils every thing. I wonder Buonaparte was not tired of the N.N.'s
stuck all over the Louvre and throughout France. Goldsmith (as we all
know), when in Holland, went out into a balcony with some handsome
Englishwomen, and on their being applauded by the spectators, turned
round, and said peevishly--"There are places where I also am admired."
He could not give the craving appetite of an author's vanity one day's
respite. I have seen a celebrated talker of our own time turn pale and
go out of the room when a showy-looking girl has come into it, who for
a moment divided the attention of his hearers. Infinite are the
mortifications of the bare attempt to emerge from obscurity;
numberless the failures; and greater and more galling still the
vicissitudes and tormenting accompaniments of success--

              "Whose top to climb
    Is certain falling, or so slippery, that
    The fear's as bad as falling."

"Would to God," exclaimed Oliver Cromwell, when he was at any time
thwarted by the Parliament, "that I had remained by my wood-side to
tend a flock of sheep, rather than have been thrust on such a
government as this!" When Buonaparte got into his carriage to proceed
on his Russian expedition, carelessly twirling his glove, and singing
the air--"Malbrook to the wars is going"--he did not think of the
tumble he has got since, the shock of which no one could have stood
but himself. We see and hear chiefly of the favourites of Fortune and
the Muse, of great generals, of first-rate actors, of celebrated
poets. These are at the head; we are struck with the glittering
eminence on which they stand, and long to set out on the same tempting
career:--not thinking how many discontented half-pay lieutenants are
in vain seeking promotion all their lives, and obliged to put up with
"the insolence of office, and the spurns which patient merit of the
unworthy takes;" how many half-starved strolling-players are doomed to
penury and tattered robes in country-places, dreaming to the last of a
London engagement; how many wretched daubers shiver and shake in the
ague-fit of alternate hopes and fears, waste and pine away in the
atrophy of genius, or else turn drawing-masters, picture-cleaners, or
newspaper critics; how many hapless poets have sighed out their souls
to the Muse in vain, without ever getting their effusions farther
known than the Poets' Corner of a country newspaper, and looked and
looked with grudging, wistful eyes at the envious horizon that bounded
their provincial fame! Suppose an actor, for instance, "after the
heart-aches and the thousand natural pangs that flesh is heir to,"
_does_ get at the top of his profession, he can no longer bear a rival
near the throne; to be second or only equal to another, is to be
nothing: he starts at the prospect of a successor, and retains the
mimic sceptre with a convulsive grasp: perhaps as he is about to seize
the first place which he has long had in his eye, an unsuspected
competitor steps in before him, and carries off the prize, leaving him
to commence his irksome toil again: he is in a state of alarm at every
appearance or rumour of the appearance of a new actor: "a mouse that
takes up its lodging in a cat's ear"[29] has a mansion of peace to
him: he dreads every hint of an objection, and least of all can
forgive praise mingled with censure: to doubt is to insult, to
discriminate is to degrade: he dare hardly look into a criticism
unless some one has _tasted_ it for him, to see that there is no
offence in it: if he does not draw crowded houses every night, he can
neither eat nor sleep; or if all these terrible inflictions are
removed, and he can "eat his meal in peace," he then becomes surfeited
with applause and dissatisfied with his profession: he wants to be
something else, to be distinguished as an author, a collector, a
classical scholar, a man of sense and information, and weighs every
word he utters, and half retracts it before he utters it, lest if he
were to make the smallest slip of the tongue, it should get buzzed
abroad that _Mr. ---- was only clever as an actor_! If ever there was
a man who did not derive more pain than pleasure from his vanity, that
man, says Rousseau, was no other than a fool. A country gentleman near
Taunton spent his whole life in making some hundreds of wretched
copies of second-rate pictures, which were bought up at his death by a
neighbouring Baronet, to whom

    "Some demon whisper'd, L----, have a taste!"

[Footnote 29: Webster's _Duchess of Malfy_.]

A little Wilson in an obscure corner escaped the man of _virtù_, and
was carried off by a Bristol picture-dealer for three guineas, while
the muddled copies of the owner of the mansion (with the frames)
fetched thirty, forty, sixty, a hundred ducats a piece. A friend of
mine found a very fine Canaletti in a state of strange disfigurement,
with the upper part of the sky smeared over and fantastically
variegated with English clouds; and on enquiring of the person to whom
it belonged whether something had not been done to it, received for
answer "that a gentleman, a great artist in the neighbourhood, had
retouched some parts of it." What infatuation! Yet this candidate for
the honours of the pencil might probably have made a jovial fox-hunter
or respectable justice of the peace, if he could only have stuck to
what nature and fortune intended him for. Miss ---- can by no means be
persuaded to quit the boards of the theatre at ----, a little country
town in the West of England. Her salary has been abridged, her person
ridiculed, her acting laughed at; nothing will serve--she is
determined to be an actress, and scorns to return to her former
business as a milliner. Shall I go on? An actor in the same company
was visited by the apothecary of the place in an ague-fit, who, on
asking his landlady as to his way of life, was told that the poor
gentleman was very quiet and gave little trouble, that he generally
had a plate of mashed potatoes for his dinner, and lay in bed most of
his time, repeating his part. A young couple, every way amiable and
deserving, were to have been married, and a benefit-play was bespoke
by the officers of the regiment quartered there, to defray the expense
of a licence and of the wedding-ring, but the profits of the night did
not amount to the necessary sum, and they have, I fear, "virgined it
e'er since!" Oh for the pencil of Hogarth or Wilkie to give a view of
the comic strength of the company at ----, drawn up in battle-array in
the Clandestine Marriage, with a _coup d'oeil_ of the pit, boxes, and
gallery, to cure for ever the love of the _ideal_, and the desire to
shine and make holiday in the eyes of others, instead of retiring
within ourselves and keeping our wishes and our thoughts at home!

Even in the common affairs of life, in love, friendship, and marriage,
how little security have we when we trust our happiness in the hands
of others! Most of the friends I have seen have turned out the
bitterest enemies, or cold, uncomfortable acquaintance. Old companions
are like meats served up too often that lose their relish and their
wholesomeness. He who looks at beauty to admire, to adore it, who
reads of its wondrous power in novels, in poems, or in plays, is not
unwise: but let no man fall in love, for from that moment he is "the
baby of a girl." I like very well to repeat such lines as these in the
play of Mirandola--

            --"With what a waving air she goes
    Along the corridor. How like a fawn!
    Yet statelier. Hark! No sound, however soft,
    Nor gentlest echo telleth when she treads,
    But every motion of her shape doth seem
    Hallowed by silence"--

but however beautiful the description, defend me from meeting with the

    "The fly that sips treacle
      Is lost in the sweets;
    So he that tastes woman
      Ruin meets."

The song is Gay's, not mine, and a bitter-sweet it is.--How few out of
the infinite number of those that marry and are given in marriage, wed
with those they would prefer to all the world; nay, how far the
greater proportion are joined together by mere motives of convenience,
accident, recommendation of friends, or indeed not unfrequently by the
very fear of the event, by repugnance and a sort of fatal fascination:
yet the tie is for life, not to be shaken off but with disgrace or
death: a man no longer lives to himself, but is a body (as well as
mind) chained to another, in spite of himself--

    "Like life and death in disproportion met."

So Milton (perhaps from his own experience) makes Adam exclaim, in the
vehemence of his despair,

                              "For either
    He never shall find out fit mate, but such
    As some misfortune brings him or mistake;
    Or whom he wishes most shall seldom gain
    Through her perverseness, but shall see her gain'd
    By a far worse; or if she love, withheld
    By parents; or his happiest choice too late
    Shall meet, already link'd and wedlock-bound
    To a fell adversary, his hate and shame;
    Which infinite calamity shall cause
    To human life, and household peace confound."

If love at first sight were mutual, or to be conciliated by kind
offices; if the fondest affection were not so often repaid and chilled
by indifference and scorn; if so many lovers both before and since the
madman in Don Quixote had not "worshipped a statue, hunted the wind,
cried aloud to the desert;" if friendship were lasting; if merit were
renown, and renown were health, riches, and long life; or if the
homage of the world were paid to conscious worth and the true
aspirations after excellence, instead of its gaudy signs and outward
trappings:--then indeed I might be of opinion that it is better to
live to others than one's-self: but as the case stands, I incline to
the negative side of the question.[30]

[Footnote 30: Shenstone and Gray were two men, one of whom pretended
to live to himself, and the other really did so. Gray shrunk from the
public gaze (he did not even like his portrait to be prefixed to his
works) into his own thoughts and indolent musings; Shenstone affected
privacy, that he might be sought out by the world; the one courted
retirement in order to enjoy leisure and repose, as the other
coquetted with it, merely to be interrupted with the importunity of
visitors and the flatteries of absent friends.]

    "I have not loved the world, nor the world me;
    I have not flattered its rank breath, nor bow'd
    To its idolatries a patient knee--
    Nor coin'd my cheek to smiles--nor cried aloud
    In worship of an echo; in the crowd
    They could not deem me one of such; I stood
    Among them, but not of them; in a shroud
    Of thoughts which were not their thoughts, and still could,
    Had I not filed my mind which thus itself subdued.

    "I have not loved the world, nor the world me--
    But let us part fair foes; I do believe,
    Though I have found them not, that there may be
    Words which are things--hopes which will not deceive,
    And virtues which are merciful nor weave
    Snares for the failing: I would also deem
    O'er others' griefs that some sincerely grieve;
    That two, or one, are almost what they seem--
    That goodness is no name, and happiness no dream."

Sweet verse embalms the spirit of sour misanthropy: but woe betide the
ignoble prose-writer who should thus dare to compare notes with the
world, or tax it roundly with imposture.

If I had sufficient provocation to rail at the public, as Ben Jonson
did at the audience in the Prologues to his plays, I think I should do
it in good set terms, nearly as follows. There is not a more mean,
stupid, dastardly, pitiful, selfish, spiteful, envious, ungrateful
animal than the Public. It is the greatest of cowards, for it is
afraid of itself. From its unwieldy, overgrown dimensions, it dreads
the least opposition to it, and shakes like isinglass at the touch of
a finger. It starts at its own shadow, like the man in the Hartz
mountains, and trembles at the mention of its own name. It has a
lion's mouth, the heart of a hare, with ears erect and sleepless eyes.
It stands "listening its fears." It is so in awe of its own opinion,
that it never dares to form any, but catches up the first idle rumour,
lest it should be behind-hand in its judgment, and echoes it till it
is deafened with the sound of its own voice. The idea of what the
public will think prevents the public from ever thinking at all, and
acts as a spell on the exercise of private judgment, so that in short
the public ear is at the mercy of the first impudent pretender who
chooses to fill it with noisy assertions, or false surmises, or secret
whispers. What is said by one is heard by all; the supposition that a
thing is known to all the world makes all the world believe it, and
the hollow repetition of a vague report drowns the "still, small
voice" of reason. We may believe or know that what is said is not
true: but we know or fancy that others believe it--we dare not
contradict or are too indolent to dispute with them, and therefore
give up our internal, and, as we think, our solitary conviction to a
sound without substance, without proof, and often without meaning. Nay
more, we may believe and know not only that a thing is false, but that
others believe and know it to be so, that they are quite as much in
the secret of the imposture as we are, that they see the puppets at
work, the nature of the machinery, and yet if any one has the art or
power to get the management of it, he shall keep possession of the
public ear by virtue of a cant-phrase or nickname; and, by dint of
effrontery and perseverance, make all the world believe and repeat
what all the world know to be false. The ear is quicker than the
judgment. We know that certain things are said; by that circumstance
alone we know that they produce a certain effect on the imagination of
others, and we conform to their prejudices by mechanical sympathy, and
for want of sufficient spirit to differ with them. So far then is
public opinion from resting on a broad and solid basis, as the
aggregate of thought and feeling in a community, that it is slight and
shallow and variable to the last degree--the bubble of the moment--so
that we may safely say the public is the dupe of public opinion, not
its parent. The public is pusillanimous and cowardly, because it is
weak. It knows itself to be a great dunce, and that it has no opinions
but upon suggestion. Yet it is unwilling to appear in leading-strings,
and would have it thought that its decisions are as wise as they are
weighty. It is hasty in taking up its favourites, more hasty in laying
them aside, lest it should be supposed deficient in sagacity in either
case. It is generally divided into two strong parties, each of which
will allow neither common sense nor common honesty to the other side.
It reads the Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews, and believes them
both--or if there is a doubt, malice turns the scale. Taylor and
Hessey told me that they had sold nearly two editions of the
Characters of Shakespeare's Plays in about three months, but that
after the Quarterly Review of them came out, they never sold another
copy. The public, enlightened as they are, must have known the meaning
of that attack as well as those who made it. It was not ignorance then
but cowardice that led them to give up their own opinion. A crew of
mischievous critics at Edinburgh having fixed the epithet of the
_Cockney School_ to one or two writers born in the metropolis, all the
people in London became afraid of looking into their works, lest they
too should be convicted of cockneyism. Oh brave public! This epithet
proved too much for one of the writers in question, and stuck like a
barbed arrow in his heart. Poor Keats! What was sport to the town was
death to him. Young, sensitive, delicate, he was like

    "A bud bit by an envious worm,
    Ere he could spread his sweet leaves to the air,
    Or dedicate his beauty to the sun"--

and unable to endure the miscreant cry and idiot laugh, withdrew to
sigh his last breath in foreign climes.--The public is as envious and
ungrateful as it is ignorant, stupid, and pigeon-livered--

    "A huge-sized monster of ingratitudes."

It reads, it admires, it extols only because it is the fashion, not
from any love of the subject or the man. It cries you up or runs you
down out of mere caprice and levity. If you have pleased it, it is
jealous of its own involuntary acknowledgment of merit, and seizes the
first opportunity, the first shabby pretext, to pick a quarrel with
you, and be quits once more. Every petty caviller is erected into a
judge, every tale-bearer is implicitly believed. Every little low
paltry creature that gaped and wondered only because others did so, is
glad to find you (as he thinks) on a level with himself. An author is
not then, after all, a being of another order. Public admiration is
forced, and goes against the grain. Public obloquy is cordial and
sincere: every individual feels his own importance in it. They give
you up bound hand and foot into the power of your accusers. To attempt
to defend yourself is a high crime and misdemeanour, a contempt of
court, an extreme piece of impertinence. Or, if you prove every charge
unfounded, they never think of retracting their error, or making you
amends. It would be a compromise of their dignity; they consider
themselves as the party injured, and resent your innocence as an
imputation on their judgment. The celebrated Bub Doddington, when out
of favour at court, said "he would not _justify_ before his sovereign:
it was for Majesty to be displeased, and for him to believe himself in
the wrong!" The public are not quite so modest. People already begin
to talk of the Scotch Novels as overrated. How then can common authors
be supposed to keep their heads long above water? As a general rule,
all those who live by the public starve, and are made a bye-word and a
standing jest into the bargain. Posterity is no better (not a bit more
enlightened or more liberal), except that you are no longer in their
power, and that the voice of common fame saves them the trouble of
deciding on your claims. The public now are the posterity of Milton
and Shakespeare. Our posterity will be the living public of a future
generation. When a man is dead, they put money in his coffin, erect
monuments to his memory, and celebrate the anniversary of his birthday
in set speeches. Would they take any notice of him if he were living?
No!--I was complaining of this to a Scotchman who had been attending a
dinner and a subscription to raise a monument to Burns. He replied, he
would sooner subscribe twenty pounds to his monument than have given
it him while living; so that if the poet were to come to life again,
he would treat him just as he was treated in fact. This was an honest
Scotchman. What _he_ said, the rest would do.

Enough: my soul, turn from them, and let me try to regain the
obscurity and quiet that I love, "far from the madding strife," in
some sequestered corner of my own, or in some far-distant land! In the
latter case, I might carry with me as a consolation the passage in
Bolingbroke's Reflections on Exile, in which he describes in glowing
colours the resources which a man may always find within himself, and
of which the world cannot deprive him.

"Believe me, the providence of God has established such an order in
the world, that of all which belongs to us, the least valuable parts
can alone fall under the will of others. Whatever is best is safest;
lies out of the reach of human power; can neither be given nor taken
away. Such is this great and beautiful work of nature, the world. Such
is the mind of man, which contemplates and admires the world whereof
it makes the noblest part. These are inseparably ours, and as long as
we remain in one we shall enjoy the other. Let us march therefore
intrepidly wherever we are led by the course of human accidents.
Wherever they lead us, on what coast soever we are thrown by them, we
shall not find ourselves absolutely strangers. We shall feel the same
revolution of seasons, and the same sun and moon[31] will guide the
course of our year. The same azure vault, bespangled with stars, will
be every where spread over our heads. There is no part of the world
from whence we may not admire those planets which roll, like ours, in
different orbits round the same central sun; from whence we may not
discover an object still more stupendous, that army of fixed stars
hung up in the immense space of the universe, innumerable suns whose
beams enlighten and cherish the unknown worlds which roll around them;
and whilst I am ravished by such contemplations as these, whilst my
soul is thus raised up to heaven, imports me little what ground I
tread upon."

[Footnote 31: Plut. of Banishment. He compares those who cannot live
out of their own country, to the simple people who fancied the moon of
Athens was a finer moon than that of Corinth,

    ----_Labentem coelo quæ ducitis annum._
                            VIRG., _Georg._]



B---- it was, I think, who suggested this subject, as well as the
defence of Guy Faux, which I urged him to execute. As, however, he
would undertake neither, I suppose I must do both--a task for which he
would have been much fitter, no less from the temerity than the
felicity of his pen--

    "Never so sure our rapture to create
    As when it touch'd the brink of all we hate."

Compared with him I shall, I fear, make but a commonplace piece of
business of it; but I should be loth the idea was entirely lost, and
besides I may avail myself of some hints of his in the progress of it.
I am sometimes, I suspect, a better reporter of the ideas of other
people than expounder of my own. I pursue the one too far into paradox
or mysticism; the others I am not bound to follow farther than I like,
or than seems fair and reasonable.

On the question being started, A---- said, "I suppose the two first
persons you would choose to see would be the two greatest names in
English literature, Sir Isaac Newton and Mr. Locke?" In this A----, as
usual, reckoned without his host. Every one burst out a laughing at
the expression of B----'s face, in which impatience was restrained by
courtesy. "Yes, the greatest names," he stammered out hastily, "but
they were not persons--not persons."--"Not persons?" said A----,
looking wise and foolish at the same time, afraid his triumph might be
premature. "That is," rejoined B----, "not characters, you know. By
Mr. Locke and Sir Isaac Newton, you mean the Essay on the Human
Understanding, and the _Principia_, which we have to this day. Beyond
their contents there is nothing personally interesting in the men. But
what we want to see any one _bodily_ for, is when there is something
peculiar, striking in the individuals, more than we can learn from
their writings, and yet are curious to know. I dare say Locke and
Newton were very like Kneller's portraits of them. But who could paint
Shakspeare?"--"Ay," retorted A----, "there it is; then I suppose you
would prefer seeing him and Milton instead?"--"No," said B----,
"neither. I have seen so much of Shakspeare on the stage and on
book-stalls, in frontispieces and on mantle-pieces, that I am quite
tired of the everlasting repetition: and as to Milton's face, the
impressions that have come down to us of it I do not like; it is too
starched and puritanical; and I should be afraid of losing some of the
manna of his poetry in the leaven of his countenance and the
precisian's band and gown."--"I shall guess no more," said A----. "Who
is it, then, you would like to see 'in his habit as he lived,' if you
had your choice of the whole range of English literature?" B---- then
named Sir Thomas Brown and Fulke Greville, the friend of Sir Philip
Sidney, as the two worthies whom he should feel the greatest pleasure
to encounter on the floor of his apartment in their nightgown and
slippers, and to exchange friendly greeting with them. At this A----
laughed outright, and conceived B---- was jesting with him; but as no
one followed his example, he thought there might be something in it,
and waited for an explanation in a state of whimsical suspense. B----
then (as well as I can remember a conversation that passed twenty
years ago--how time slips!) went on as follows: "The reason why I
pitch upon these two authors is, that their writings are riddles, and
they themselves the most mysterious of personages. They resemble the
soothsayers of old, who dealt in dark hints and doubtful oracles; and
I should like to ask them the meaning of what no mortal but
themselves, I should suppose, can fathom. There is Dr. Johnson, I have
no curiosity, no strange uncertainty about him: he and Boswell
together have pretty well let me into the secret of what passed
through his mind. He and other writers like him are sufficiently
explicit: my friends, whose repose I should be tempted to disturb,
(were it in my power) are implicit, inextricable, inscrutable.

    'And call up him who left half-told
    The story of Cambuscan bold.'

"When I look at that obscure but gorgeous prose-composition (the
_Urn-burial_) I seem to myself to look into a deep abyss, at the
bottom of which are hid pearls and rich treasure; or it is like a
stately labyrinth of doubt and withering speculation, and I would
invoke the spirit of the author to lead me through it. Besides, who
would not be curious to see the lineaments of a man who, having
himself been twice married, wished that mankind were propagated like
trees! As to Fulke Greville, he is like nothing but one of his own
'Prologues spoken by the ghost of an old king of Ormus,' a truly
formidable and inviting personage: his style is apocalyptical,
cabalistical, a knot worthy of such an apparition to untie; and for
the unravelling a passage or two, I would stand the brunt of an
encounter with so portentous a commentator!"--"I am afraid in that
case," said A----, "that if the mystery were once cleared up, the
merit might be lost;"--and turning to me, whispered a friendly
apprehension, that while B---- continued to admire these old crabbed
authors, he would never become a popular writer. Dr. Donne was
mentioned as a writer of the same period, with a very interesting
countenance, whose history was singular, and whose meaning was often
quite as _uncomeatable_, without a personal citation from the dead, as
that of any of his contemporaries. The volume was produced; and while
some one was expatiating on the exquisite simplicity and beauty of the
portrait prefixed to the old edition, A---- got hold of the poetry,
and exclaiming "What have we here?" read the following:--

    "'Here lies a She-Sun and a He-Moon there,
    She gives the best light to his sphere,
    Or each is both and all, and so
    They unto one another nothing owe.'"

There was no resisting this, till B----, seizing the volume, turned to
the beautiful "Lines to his Mistress," dissuading her from
accompanying him abroad, and read them with suffused features and a
faltering tongue.

    "'By our first strange and fatal interview,
    By all desires which thereof did ensue,
    By our long starving hopes, by that remorse
    Which my words' masculine persuasive force
    Begot in thee, and by the memory
    Of hurts, which spies and rivals threaten'd me,
    I calmly beg. But by thy father's wrath,
    By all pains which want and divorcement hath,
    I conjure thee; and all the oaths which I
    And thou have sworn to seal joint constancy
    Here I unswear, and overswear them thus,
    Thou shalt not love by ways so dangerous.
    Temper, oh fair Love! love's impetuous rage,
    Be my true mistress still, not my feign'd Page;
    I'll go, and, by thy kind leave, leave behind
    Thee, only worthy to nurse in my mind.
    Thirst to come back; oh, if thou die before,
    My soul from other lands to thee shall soar.
    Thy (else Almighty) beauty cannot move
    Rage from the seas, nor thy love teach them love,
    Nor tame wild Boreas' harshness; thou hast read
    How roughly he in pieces shivered
    Fair Orithea, whom he swore he lov'd.
    Fall ill or good, 'tis madness to have prov'd
    Dangers unurg'd: Feed on this flattery,
    That absent lovers one with th' other be.
    Dissemble nothing, not a boy; nor change
    Thy body's habit, nor mind; be not strange
    To thyself only. All will spy in thy face
    A blushing, womanly, discovering grace.
    Richly cloth'd apes are called apes, and as soon
    Eclips'd as bright we call the moon the moon.
    Men of France, changeable cameleons,
    Spittles of diseases, shops of fashions,
    Love's fuellers, and the rightest company
    Of players, which upon the world's stage be,
    Will quickly know thee.... O stay here! for thee
    England is only a worthy gallery,
    To walk in expectation; till from thence
    Our greatest King call thee to his presence.
    When I am gone, dream me some happiness,
    Nor let thy looks our long hid love confess,
    Nor praise, nor dispraise me; nor bless, nor curse
    Openly love's force, nor in bed fright thy nurse
    With midnight startings, crying out, Oh, oh,
    Nurse, oh, my love is slain, I saw him go,
    O'er the white Alps alone; I saw him, I,
    Assail'd, fight, taken, stabb'd, bleed, fall, and die.
    Augur me better chance, except dread Jove
    Think it enough for me to have had thy love.'"

Some one then inquired of B---- if we could not see from the window
the Temple-walk in which Chaucer used to take his exercise; and on his
name being put to the vote, I was pleased to find that there was a
general sensation in his favour in all but A----, who said something
about the ruggedness of the metre, and even objected to the quaintness
of the orthography. I was vexed at this superficial gloss,
pertinaciously reducing everything to its own trite level, and asked
"if he did not think it would be worth while to scan the eye that had
first greeted the Muse in that dim twilight and early dawn of English
literature; to see the head, round which the visions of fancy must
have played like gleams of inspiration or a sudden glory; to watch
those lips that "lisped in numbers, for the numbers came"--as by a
miracle, or as if the dumb should speak? Nor was it alone that he had
been the first to tune his native tongue (however imperfectly to
modern ears); but he was himself a noble, manly character, standing
before his age and striving to advance it; a pleasant humourist
withal, who has not only handed down to us the living manners of his
time, but had, no doubt, store of curious and quaint devices, and
would make as hearty a companion as Mine Host of Tabard. His interview
with Petrarch is fraught with interest. Yet I would rather have seen
Chaucer in company with the author of the Decameron, and have heard
them exchange their best stories together, the Squire's Tale against
the Story of the Falcon, the Wife of Bath's Prologue against the
Adventures of Friar Albert. How fine to see the high mysterious brow
which learning then wore, relieved by the gay, familiar tone of men of
the world, and by the courtesies of genius. Surely, the thoughts and
feelings which passed through the minds of these great revivers of
learning, these Cadmuses who sowed the teeth of letters, must have
stamped an expression on their features, as different from the moderns
as their books, and well worth the perusal. Dante," I continued, "is
as interesting a person as his own Ugolino, one whose lineaments
curiosity would as eagerly devour in order to penetrate his spirit,
and the only one of the Italian poets I should care much to see. There
is a fine portrait of Ariosto by no less a hand than Titian's; light,
Moorish, spirited, but not answering our idea. The same artist's large
colossal profile of Peter Aretine is the only likeness of the kind
that has the effect of conversing with 'the mighty dead,' and this is
truly spectral, ghastly, necromantic." B---- put it to me if I should
like to see Spenser as well as Chaucer; and I answered without
hesitation, "No; for that his beauties were ideal, visionary, not
palpable or personal, and therefore connected with less curiosity
about the man. His poetry was the essence of romance, a very halo
round the bright orb of fancy; and the bringing in the individual
might dissolve the charm. No tones of voice could come up to the
mellifluous cadence of his verse; no form but of a winged angel could
vie with the airy shapes he has described. He was (to our
apprehensions) rather 'a creature of the element, that lived in the
rainbow and played in the plighted clouds,' than an ordinary mortal.
Or if he did appear, I should wish it to be as a mere vision, like one
of his own pageants, and that he should pass by unquestioned like a
dream or sound--

    ----'_That_ was Arion crown'd:
    So went he playing on the wat'ry plain!'"

Captain C. muttered something about Columbus, and M. C. hinted at the
Wandering Jew; but the last was set aside as spurious, and the first
made over to the New World.

"I should like," said Miss D----, "to have seen Pope talking with
Patty Blount; and I _have_ seen Goldsmith." Every one turned round to
look at Miss D----, as if by so doing they too could get a sight of

"Where," asked a harsh croaking voice, "was Dr. Johnson in the years
1745-6? He did not write anything that we know of, nor is there any
account of him in Boswell during those two years. Was he in Scotland
with the Pretender? He seems to have passed through the scenes in the
Highlands in company with Boswell many years after 'with lack-lustre
eye,' yet as if they were familiar to him, or associated in his mind
with interests that he durst not explain. If so, it would be an
additional reason for my liking him; and I would give something to
have seen him seated in the tent with the youthful Majesty of Britain,
and penning the Proclamation to all true subjects and adherents of the
legitimate Government."

"I thought," said A----, turning short round upon B----, "that you of
the Lake School did not like Pope?"--"Not like Pope! My dear sir, you
must be under a mistake--I can read him over and over for ever!"--"Why
certainly, the 'Essay on Man' must be a masterpiece."--"It may be so,
but I seldom look into it."--"Oh! then it's his Satires you
admire?"--"No, not his Satires, but his friendly Epistles and his
compliments."--"Compliments! I did not know he ever made any."--"The
finest," said B----, "that were ever paid by the wit of man. Each of
them is worth an estate for life--nay, is an immortality. There is
that superb one to Lord Cornbury:

    'Despise low joys, low gains;
    Disdain whatever Cornbury disdains;
    Be virtuous, and be happy for your pains.'

"Was there ever more artful insinuation of idolatrous praise? And then
that noble apotheosis of his friend Lord Mansfield (however little
deserved), when, speaking of the House of Lords, he adds--

    'Conspicuous scene! another yet is nigh,
    (More silent far) where kings and poets lie;
    Where Murray (long enough his country's pride)
    Shall be no more than Tully or than Hyde!'

"And with what a fine turn of indignant flattery he addresses Lord

    'Why rail they then, if but one wreath of mine,
    Oh! all accomplish'd St. John, deck thy shrine?'

"Or turn," continued B----, with a slight hectic on his cheek and his
eye glistening, "to his list of early friends:

    'But why then publish? Granville the polite,
    And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write;
    Well-natured Garth inflamed with early praise,
    And Congreve loved and Swift endured my lays:
    The courtly Talbot, Somers, Sheffield read,
    Ev'n mitred Rochester would nod the head;
    And St. John's self (great Dryden's friend before)
    Received with open arms one poet more.
    Happy my studies, if by these approved!
    Happier their author, if by these beloved!
    From these the world will judge of men and books,
    Not from the Burnets, Oldmixons, and Cooks.'"

Here his voice totally failed him, and throwing down the book, he
said, "Do you think I would not wish to have been friends with such a
man as this?"

"What say you to Dryden?"--"He rather made a show of himself, and
courted popularity in that lowest temple of Fame, a coffee-house, so
as in some measure to vulgarize one's idea of him. Pope, on the
contrary, reached the very _beau ideal_ of what a poet's life should
be; and his fame while living seemed to be an emanation from that
which was to circle his name after death. He was so far enviable (and
one would feel proud to have witnessed the rare spectacle in him) that
he was almost the only poet and man of genius who met with his reward
on this side of the tomb, who realized in friends, fortune, the esteem
of the world, the most sanguine hopes of a youthful ambition, and who
found that sort of patronage from the great during his lifetime which
they would be thought anxious to bestow upon him after his death. Read
Gay's verses to him on his supposed return from Greece, after his
translation of Homer was finished, and say if you would not gladly
join the bright procession that welcomed him home, or see it once more
land at Whitehall-stairs."--"Still," said Miss D----, "I would rather
have seen him talking with Patty Blount, or riding by in a
coronet-coach with Lady Mary Wortley Montagu!"

E----, who was deep in a game of piquet at the other end of the room,
whispered to M. C. to ask if Junius would not be a fit person to
invoke from the dead. "Yes," said B----, "provided he would agree to
lay aside his mask."

We were now at a stand for a short time, when Fielding was mentioned
as a candidate: only one, however, seconded the proposition.
"Richardson?"--"By all means, but only to look at him through the
glass-door of his back-shop, hard at work upon one of his novels (the
most extraordinary contrast that ever was presented between an author
and his works), but not to let him come behind his counter lest he
should want you to turn customer, nor to go upstairs with him, lest he
should offer to read the first manuscript of Sir Charles Grandison,
which was originally written in eight and twenty volumes octavo, or
get out the letters of his female correspondents, to prove that Joseph
Andrews was low."

There was but one statesman in the whole of English history that any
one expressed the least desire to see--Oliver Cromwell, with his fine,
frank, rough, pimply face, and wily policy;--and one enthusiast, John
Bunyan, the immortal author of the Pilgrim's Progress. It seemed that
if he came into the room, dreams would follow him, and that each
person would nod under his golden cloud, "nigh-sphered in Heaven," a
canopy as strange and stately as any in Homer.

Of all persons near our own time, Garrick's name was received with the
greatest enthusiasm, who was proposed by J. F----. He presently
superseded both Hogarth and Handel, who had been talked of, but then
it was on condition that he should act in tragedy and comedy, in the
play and the farce, Lear and Wildair and Abel Drugger. What a _sight
for sore eyes_ that would be! Who would not part with a year's income
at least, almost with a year of his natural life, to be present at it?
Besides, as he could not act alone, and recitations are unsatisfactory
things, what a troop he must bring with him--the silver-tongued Barry,
and Quin, and Shuter and Weston, and Mrs. Clive and Mrs. Pritchard, of
whom I have heard my father speak as so great a favourite when he was
young! This would indeed be a revival of the dead, the restoring of
art; and so much the more desirable, as such is the lurking scepticism
mingled with our overstrained admiration of past excellence, that
though we have the speeches of Burke, the portraits of Reynolds, the
writings of Goldsmith, and the conversation of Johnson, to show what
people could do at that period, and to confirm the universal testimony
to the merits of Garrick; yet, as it was before our time, we have our
misgivings, as if he was probably after all little better than a
Bartlemy-fair actor, dressed out to play Macbeth in a scarlet coat and
laced cocked-hat. For one, I should like to have seen and heard with
my own eyes and ears. Certainly, by all accounts, if any one was ever
moved by the true histrionic _æstus_, it was Garrick. When he followed
the Ghost in Hamlet, he did not drop the sword, as most actors do
behind the scenes, but kept the point raised the whole way round, so
fully was he possessed with the idea, or so anxious not to lose sight
of his part for a moment. Once at a splendid dinner-party at Lord
----'s, they suddenly missed Garrick, and could not imagine what was
become of him, till they were drawn to the window by the convulsive
screams and peals of laughter of a young negro boy, who was rolling on
the ground in an ecstasy of delight to see Garrick mimicing a
turkey-cock in the court-yard, with his coat-tail stuck out behind,
and in a seeming flutter of feathered rage and pride. Of our party
only two persons present had seen the British Roscius; and they seemed
as willing as the rest to renew their acquaintance with their old

We were interrupted in the hey-day and mid-career of this fanciful
speculation, by a grumbler in a corner, who declared it was a shame to
make all this rout about a mere player and farce-writer, to the
neglect and exclusion of the fine old dramatists, the contemporaries
and rivals of Shakspeare. B---- said he had anticipated this objection
when he had named the author of Mustapha and Alaham; and out of
caprice insisted upon keeping him to represent the set, in preference
to the wild hair-brained enthusiast Kit Marlowe; to the sexton of St.
Ann's, Webster, with his melancholy yew-trees and death's-heads; to
Decker, who was but a garrulous proser; to the voluminous Heywood; and
even to Beaumont and Fletcher, whom we might offend by complimenting
the wrong author on their joint productions. Lord Brook, on the
contrary, stood quite by himself, or in Cowley's words, was "a vast
species alone." Some one hinted at the circumstance of his being a
lord, which rather startled B----, but he said a _ghost_ would perhaps
dispense with strict etiquette, on being regularly addressed by his
title. Ben Jonson divided our suffrages pretty equally. Some were
afraid he would begin to traduce Shakspeare, who was not present to
defend himself. "If he grows disagreeable," it was whispered aloud,
"there is G---- can match him." At length, his romantic visit to
Drummond of Hawthornden was mentioned, and turned the scale in his

B---- inquired if there was any one that was hanged that I would
choose to mention? And I answered, Eugene Aram.[32] The name of the
"Admirable Crichton" was suddenly started as a splendid example of
_waste_ talents, so different from the generality of his countrymen.
This choice was mightily approved by a North-Briton present, who
declared himself descended from that prodigy of learning and
accomplishment, and said he had family-plate in his possession as
vouchers for the fact, with the initials A. C.--_Admirable Crichton!_
H---- laughed or rather roared as heartily at this as I should think
he has done for many years.

[Footnote 32: See Newgate Calendar for 1758.]

The last-named Mitre-courtier[33] then wished to know whether there
were any metaphysicians to whom one might be tempted to apply the
wizard spell? I replied, there were only six in modern times deserving
the name--Hobbes, Berkeley, Butler, Hartley, Hume, Leibnitz; and
perhaps Jonathan Edwards, a Massachusets man.[34] As to the French,
who talked fluently of having _created_ this science, there was not a
title in any of their writings, that was not to be found literally in
the authors I had mentioned. [Horne Tooke, who might have a claim to
come in under the head of Grammar, was still living.] None of these
names seemed to excite much interest, and I did not plead for the
reappearance of those who might be thought best fitted by the
abstracted nature of their studies for their present spiritual and
disembodied state, and who, even while on this living stage, were
nearly divested of common flesh and blood. As A---- with an uneasy
fidgetty face was about to put some question about Mr. Locke and
Dugald Stewart, he was prevented by M. C. who observed, "If J---- was
here, he would undoubtedly be for having up those profound and
redoubted scholiasts, Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus." I said this
might be fair enough in him who had read or fancied he had read the
original works, but I did not see how we could have any right to call
up these authors to give an account of themselves in person, till we
had looked into their writings.

[Footnote 33: B---- at this time occupied chambers in Mitre court,
Fleet Street.]

[Footnote 34: Lord Bacon is not included in this list, nor do I know
where he should come in. It is not easy to make room for him and his
reputation together. This great and celebrated man in some of his
works recommends it to pour a bottle of claret into the ground of a
morning, and to stand over it, inhaling the perfumes. So he sometimes
enriched the dry and barren soil of speculation with the fine aromatic
spirit of his genius. His "Essays" and his "Advancement of Learning"
are works of vast depth and scope of observation. The last, though it
contains no positive discoveries, is a noble chart of human intellect,
and a guide to all future inquirers.]

By this time it should seem that some rumour of our whimsical
deliberation had got wind, and had disturbed the _irritabile genus_ in
their shadowy abodes, for we received messages from several candidates
that we had just been thinking of. Gray declined our invitation,
though he had not yet been asked: Gay offered to come and bring in his
hand the Duchess of Bolton, the original Polly: Steele and Addison
left their cards as Captain Sentry and Sir Roger de Coverley: Swift
came in and sat down without speaking a word, and quitted the room as
abruptly: Otway and Chatterton were seen lingering on the opposite
side of the Styx, but could not muster enough between them to pay
Charon his fare: Thomson fell asleep in the boat, and was rowed back
again--and Burns sent a low fellow, one John Barleycorn, an old
companion of his who had conducted him to the other world, to say that
he had during his lifetime been drawn out of his retirement as a show,
only to be made an exciseman of, and that he would rather remain where
he was. He desired, however, to shake hands by his representative--the
hand, thus held out, was in a burning fever, and shook prodigiously.

The room was hung round with several portraits of eminent painters.
While we were debating whether we should demand speech with these
masters of mute eloquence, whose features were so familiar to us, it
seemed that all at once they glided from their frames, and seated
themselves at some little distance from us. There was Leonardo with
his majestic beard and watchful eye, having a bust of Archimedes
before him; next him was Raphael's graceful head turned round to the
Fornarina; and on his other side was Lucretia Borgia, with calm,
golden locks; Michael Angelo had placed the model of St. Peter's on
the table before him; Corregio had an angel at his side; Titian was
seated with his Mistress between himself and Giorgioni; Guido was
accompanied by his own Aurora, who took a dice-box from him; Claude
held a mirror in his hand; Rubens patted a beautiful panther (led in
by a satyr) on the head; Vandyke appeared as his own Paris, and
Rembrandt was hid under furs, gold chains and jewels, which Sir Joshua
eyed closely, holding his hand so as to shade his forehead. Not a word
was spoken; and as we rose to do them homage, they still presented the
same surface to the view. Not being _bonâ-fide_ representations of
living people, we got rid of the splendid apparitions by signs and
dumb show. As soon as they had melted into thin air, there was a loud
noise at the outer door, and we found it was Giotto, Cimabue, and
Ghirlandaio, who had been raised from the dead by their earnest desire
to see their illustrious successors--

                        "Whose names on earth
    In Fame's eternal records live for aye!"

Finding them gone, they had no ambition to be seen after them, and
mournfully withdrew. "Egad!" said B----, "those are the very fellows I
should like to have had some talk with, to know how they could see to
paint when all was dark around them?"

"But shall we have nothing to say," interrogated G. J----, "to the
Legend of Good Women?"--"Name, name, Mr. J----," cried H---- in a
boisterous tone of friendly exultation, "name as many as you please,
without reserve or fear of molestation!" J---- was perplexed between
so many amiable recollections, that the name of the lady of his choice
expired in a pensive whiff of his pipe; and B---- impatiently declared
for the Duchess of Newcastle. Mrs. Hutchinson was no sooner mentioned,
than she carried the day from the Duchess. We were the less solicitous
on this subject of filling up the posthumous lists of Good Women, as
there was already one in the room as good, as sensible, and in all
respects as exemplary, as the best of them could be for their lives!
"I should like vastly to have seen Ninon de l'Enclos," said that
incomparable person; and this immediately put us in mind that we had
neglected to pay honour due to our friends on the other side of the
Channel: Voltaire, the patriarch of levity, and Rousseau, the father
of sentiment, Montaigne and Rabelais (great in wisdom and in wit),
Molière and that illustrious group that are collected round him (in
the print of that subject to hear him read his comedy of the Tartuffe
at the house of Ninon; Racine, La Fontaine, Rochefoucault, St.
Evremont, etc.).

"There is one person," said a shrill, querulous voice, "I would rather
see than all these--Don Quixote!"

"Come, come!" said H----; "I thought we should have no heroes, real or
fabulous. What say you, Mr. B----? Are you for eking out your shadowy
list with such names as Alexander, Julius Cæsar, Tamerlane, or Ghengis
Khan?"--"Excuse me," said B----, "on the subject of characters in
active life, plotters and disturbers of the world, I have a crotchet
of my own, which I beg leave to reserve."--"No, no! come, out with
your worthies!"--"What do you think of Guy Faux and Judas Iscariot?"
H---- turned an eye upon him like a wild Indian, but cordial and full
of smothered glee. "Your most exquisite reason!" was echoed on all
sides; and A---- thought that B---- had now fairly entangled himself.
"Why, I cannot but think," retorted he of the wistful countenance,
"that Guy Faux, that poor fluttering annual scare-crow of straw and
rags, is an ill-used gentleman. I would give something to see him
sitting pale and emaciated, surrounded by his matches and his barrels
of gunpowder, and expecting the moment that was to transport him to
Paradise for his heroic self-devotion; but if I say any more, there is
that fellow G---- will make something of it. And as to Judas Iscariot,
my reason is different. I would fain see the face of him, who, having
dipped his hand in the same dish with the Son of Man, could afterwards
betray him. I have no conception of such a thing; nor have I ever seen
any picture (not even Leonardo's very fine one) that gave me the least
idea of it."--"You have said enough, Mr. B----, to justify your

"Oh! ever right, Menenius,--ever right!"

"There is only one other person I can ever think of after this,"
continued H----; but without mentioning a name that once put on a
semblance of mortality. "If Shakspeare was to come into the room, we
should all rise up to meet him; but if that person was to come into
it, we should all fall down and try to kiss the hem of his garment!"

As a lady present seemed now to get uneasy at the turn the
conversation had taken, we rose up to go.[35] The morning broke with
that dim, dubious light by which Giotto, Cimabue, and Ghirlandaio must
have seen to paint their earliest works; and we parted to meet again
and renew similar topics at night, the next night, and the night after
that, till that night overspread Europe which saw no dawn. The same
event, in truth, broke up our little Congress that broke up the great
one. But that was to meet again: our deliberations have never been

[Footnote 35: There are few things more contemptible than the
conversation of mere _men of the town_. It is made up of the
technicalities and cant of all professions, without the spirit or
knowledge of any. It is flashy and vapid, or is like the rinsings of
different liquors at a night-cellar instead of a bottle of fine old
port. It is without body or clearness, and a heap of affectation. In
fact, I am very much of the opinion of that old Scotch gentleman who
owned that "he preferred the dullest book he had ever read to the most
brilliant conversation it had ever fallen to his lot to hear!"]



_Horas non numero nisi serenas_--is the motto of a sun-dial near
Venice. There is a softness and a harmony in the words and in the
thought unparalleled. Of all conceits it is surely the most classical.
"I count only the hours that are serene." What a bland and
care-dispelling feeling! How the shadows seem to fade on the
dial-plate as the sky lours, and time presents only a blank unless as
its progress is marked by what is joyous, and all that is not happy
sinks into oblivion! What a fine lesson is conveyed to the mind--to
take no note of time but by its benefits, to watch only for the smiles
and neglect the frowns of fate, to compose our lives of bright and
gentle moments, turning always to the sunny side of things, and
letting the rest slip from our imaginations, unheeded or forgotten!
How different from the common art of self-tormenting! For myself, as I
rode along the Brenta, while the sun shone hot upon its sluggish,
slimy waves, my sensations were far from comfortable; but the reading
this inscription on the side of a glaring wall in an instant restored
me to myself; and still, whenever I think of or repeat it, it has the
power of wafting me into the region of pure and blissful abstraction.
I cannot help fancying it to be a legend of Popish superstition. Some
monk of the dark ages must have invented and bequeathed it to us, who,
loitering in trim gardens and watching the silent march of time, as
his fruits ripened in the sun or his flowers scented the balmy air,
felt a mild languor pervade his senses, and having little to do or to
care for, determined (in imitation of his sun-dial) to efface that
little from his thoughts or draw a veil over it, making of his life
one long dream of quiet! _Horas non numero nisi serenas_--he might
repeat, when the heavens were overcast and the gathering storm
scattered the falling leaves, and turn to his books and wrap himself
in his golden studies! Out of some mood of mind, indolent, elegant,
thoughtful, this exquisite device (speaking volumes) must have

Of the several modes of counting time, that by the sun-dial is perhaps
the most apposite and striking, if not the most convenient or
comprehensive. It does not obtrude its observations, though it "morals
on the time," and, by its stationary character, forms a contrast to
the most fleeting of all essences. It stands _sub dio_--under the
marble air, and there is some connexion between the image of infinity
and eternity. I should also like to have a sunflower growing near it
with bees fluttering round.[36] [Footnote 36: Is this a verbal
fallacy? Or in the close, retired, sheltered scene which I have
imagined to myself, is not the sun-flower a natural accompaniment of
the sun-dial?] It should be of iron to denote duration, and have a
dull, leaden look. I hate a sun-dial made of wood, which is rather
calculated to show the variations of the seasons, than the progress of
time, slow, silent, imperceptible, chequered with light and shade. If
our hours were all serene, we might probably take almost as little
note of them, as the dial does of those that are clouded. It is the
shadows thrown across, that gives us warning of their flight.
Otherwise our impressions would take the same undistinguishable hue;
we should scarce be conscious of our existence. Those who have had
none of the cares of this life to harass and disturb them, have been
obliged to have recourse to the hopes and fears of the next to enliven
the prospect before them. Most of the methods for measuring the lapse
of time have, I believe, been the contrivance of monks and religious
recluses, who, finding time hang heavy on their hands, were at some
pains to see how they got rid of it. The hour-glass is, I suspect, an
older invention; and it is certainly the most defective of all. Its
creeping sands are not indeed an unapt emblem of the minute, countless
portions of our existence; and the manner in which they gradually
slide through the hollow glass and diminish in number till not a
single one is left, also illustrates the way in which our years slip
from us by stealth: but as a mechanical invention, it is rather a
hindrance than a help, for it requires to have the time, of which it
pretends to count the precious moments, taken up in attention to
itself, and in seeing that when one end of the glass is empty, we turn
it round, in order that it may go on again, or else all our labour is
lost, and we must wait for some other mode of ascertaining the time
before we can recover our reckoning and proceed as before. The
philosopher in his cell, the cottager at her spinning-wheel must,
however, find an invaluable acquisition in this "companion of the
lonely hour," as it has been called,[37] which not only serves to tell
how the time goes, but to fill up its vacancies. What a treasure must
not the little box seem to hold, as if it were a sacred deposit of the
very grains and fleeting sands of life. What a business, in lieu of
other more important avocations, to see it out to the last sand, and
then to renew the process again on the instant, that there may not be
the least flaw or error in the account! What a strong sense must be
brought home to the mind of the value and irrecoverable nature of the
time that is fled; what a thrilling, incessant consciousness of the
slippery tenure by which we hold what remains of it! Our very
existence must seem crumbling to atoms, and running down (without a
miraculous reprieve) to the last fragment. "Dust to dust and ashes to
ashes" is a text that might be fairly inscribed on an hour-glass: it
is ordinarily associated with the scythe of Time and a Death's-head,
as a _Memento mori_; and has, no doubt, furnished many a tacit hint to
the apprehensive and visionary enthusiast in favour of a resurrection
to another life!

[Footnote 37:

    "Once more, companion of the lonely hour,
    I'll turn thee up again."

        _Bloomfield's Poems--The Widow to her Hour-glass._]

The French give a different turn to things, less _sombre_ and less
edifying. A common and also a very pleasing ornament to a clock, in
Paris, is a figure of Time seated in a boat which Cupid is rowing
along, with the motto, _L'Amour fait passer le Tems_--which the wits
again have travestied into _Le Tems fait passer L'Amour_. All this is
ingenious and well; but it wants sentiment. I like a people who have
something that they love and something that they hate, and with whom
everything is not alike a matter of indifference or _pour passer le
tems_. The French attach no importance to anything, except for the
moment; they are only thinking how they shall get rid of one sensation
for another; all their ideas are _in transitu_. Every thing is
detached, nothing is accumulated. It would be a million of years
before a Frenchman would think of the _Horas non numero nisi serenas_.
Its impassioned repose and _ideal_ voluptuousness are as far from
their breasts as the poetry of that line in Shakspeare--"How sweet the
moonlight sleeps upon that bank!" They never arrive at the
classical--or the romantic. They blow the bubbles of vanity, fashion,
and pleasure; but they do not expand their perceptions into
refinement, or strengthen them into solidity. Where there is nothing
fine in the ground-work of the imagination, nothing fine in the
superstructure can be produced. They are light, airy, fanciful (to
give them their due)--but when they attempt to be serious (beyond mere
good sense) they are either dull or extravagant. When the volatile
salt has flown off, nothing but a _caput mortuum_ remains. They have
infinite crotchets and caprices with their clocks and watches, which
seem made for anything but to tell the hour--gold-repeaters, watches
with metal covers, clocks with hands to count the seconds. There is no
escaping from quackery and impertinence, even in our attempts to
calculate the waste of time. The years gallop fast enough for me,
without remarking every moment as it flies; and farther, I must say I
dislike a watch (whether of French or English manufacture) that comes
to me like a footpad with its face muffled, and does not present its
clear, open aspect like a friend, and point with its finger to the
time of day. All this opening and shutting of dull, heavy cases (under
pretence that the glass-lid is liable to be broken, or lets in the
dust or air and obstructs the movement of the watch), is not to
husband time, but to give trouble. It is mere pomposity and
self-importance, like consulting a mysterious oracle that one carries
about with one in one's pocket, instead of asking a common question of
an acquaintance or companion. There are two clocks which strike the
hour in the room where I am. This I do not like. In the first place, I
do not want to be reminded twice how the time goes (it is like the
second tap of a saucy servant at your door when perhaps you have no
wish to get up): in the next place, it is starting a difference of
opinion on the subject, and I am averse to every appearance of
wrangling and disputation. Time moves on the same, whatever disparity
there may be in our mode of keeping count of it, like true fame in
spite of the cavils and contradictions of the critics. I am no friend
to repeating watches. The only pleasant association I have with them
is the account given by Rousseau of some French lady, who sat up
reading the _New Heloise_ when it first came out, and ordering her
maid to sound the repeater, found it was too late to go to bed, and
continued reading on till morning. Yet how different is the interest
excited by this story from the account which Rousseau somewhere else
gives of his sitting up with his father reading romances, when a boy,
till they were startled by the swallows twittering in their nests at
day-break, and the father cried out, half angry and ashamed--"_Allons,
mons fils; je suis plus enfant que toi!_" In general, I have heard
repeating watches sounded in stage-coaches at night, when some
fellow-traveller suddenly awaking and wondering what was the hour,
another has very deliberately taken out his watch, and pressing the
spring, it has counted out the time; each petty stroke acting like a
sharp puncture on the ear, and informing me of the dreary hours I had
already passed, and of the more dreary ones I had to wait till

The great advantage, it is true, which clocks have over watches and
other dumb reckoners of time is, that for the most part they strike
the hour--that they are as it were the mouth-pieces of time; that they
not only point it to the eye, but impress it on the ear; that they
"lend it both an understanding and a tongue." Time thus speaks to us
in an audible and warning voice. Objects of sight are easily
distinguished by the sense, and suggest useful reflections to the
mind; sounds, from their intermittent nature, and perhaps other
causes, appeal more to the imagination, and strike upon the heart. But
to do this, they must be unexpected and involuntary--there must be no
trick in the case--they should not be squeezed out with a finger and a
thumb; there should be nothing optional, personal in their occurrence;
they should be like stern, inflexible monitors, that nothing can
prevent from discharging their duty. Surely, if there is anything with
which we should not mix up our vanity and self-consequence, it is with
Time, the most independent of all things. All the sublimity, all the
superstition that hang upon this palpable mode of announcing its
flight, are chiefly attached to this circumstance. Time would lose its
abstracted character, if we kept it like a curiosity or a
jack-in-a-box: its prophetic warnings would have no effect, if it
obviously spoke only at our prompting, like a paltry ventriloquism.
The clock that tells the coming, dreaded hour--the castle bell, that
"with its brazen throat and iron tongue, sounds one unto the drowsy
ear of night"--the curfew, "swinging slow with sullen roar" o'er
wizard stream or fountain, are like a voice from other worlds, big
with unknown events. The last sound, which is still kept up as an old
custom in many parts of England, is a great favourite with me. I used
to hear it when a boy. It tells a tale of other times. The days that
are past, the generations that are gone, the tangled forest glades and
hamlets brown of my native country, the woodsman's art, the Norman
warrior armed for the battle or in his festive hall, the conqueror's
iron rule and peasant's lamp extinguished, all start up at the
clamorous peal, and fill my mind with fear and wonder. I confess,
nothing at present interests me but what has been--the recollection of
the impressions of my early life, or events long past, of which only
the dim traces remain in a smouldering ruin or half-obsolete custom.
That _things should be that are now no more_, creates in my mind the
most unfeigned astonishment. I cannot solve the mystery of the past,
nor exhaust my pleasure in it. The years, the generations to come, are
nothing to me. We care no more about the world in the year 2300 than
we do about one of the planets. Even George IV is better than the Earl
of Windsor. We might as well make a voyage to the moon as think of
stealing a march upon Time with impunity. _De non apparentibus et non
existentibus eadem est ratio._ Those who are to come after us and push
us from the stage seem like upstarts and pretenders, that may be said
to exist _in vacuo_, we know not upon what, except as they are blown
up with vain and self conceit by their patrons among the moderns. But
the ancients are true and _bonâ-fide_ people, to whom we are bound by
aggregate knowledge and filial ties, and in whom seen by the mellow
light of history we feel our own existence doubled and our pride
consoled, as we ruminate on the vestiges of the past. The public in
general, however, do not carry this speculative indifference about the
future to what is to happen to themselves, or to the part they are to
act in the busy scene. For my own part, I do; and the only wish I can
form, or that ever prompts the passing sigh, would be to live some of
my years over again--they would be those in which I enjoyed and
suffered most!

The ticking of a clock in the night has nothing very interesting nor
very alarming in it, though superstition has magnified it into an
omen. In a state of vigilance or debility, it preys upon the spirits
like the persecution of a teazing pertinacious insect; and haunting
the imagination after it has ceased in reality, is converted into a
death-watch. Time is rendered vast by contemplating its minute
portions thus repeatedly and painfully urged upon its attention, as
the ocean in its immensity is composed of water-drops. A clock
striking with a clear and silver sound is a great relief in such
circumstances, breaks the spell, and resembles a sylph-like and
friendly spirit in the room. Foreigners, with all their tricks and
contrivances upon clocks and time-pieces, are strangers to the sound
of village-bells, though perhaps a people that can dance may dispense
with them. They impart a pensive, wayward pleasure to the mind, and
are a kind of chronology of happy events, often serious in the
retrospect--births, marriages, and so forth. Coleridge calls them "the
poor man's only music." A village-spire in England peeping from its
cluster of trees is always associated in imagination with this
cheerful accompaniment, and may be expected to pour its joyous tidings
on the gale. In Catholic countries, you are stunned with the
everlasting tolling of bells to prayers or for the dead. In the
Apennines, and other wild and mountainous districts of Italy, the
little chapel-bell with its simple tinkling sound has a romantic and
charming effect. The Monks in former times appear to have taken a
pride in the construction of bells as well as churches; and some of
those of the great cathedrals abroad (as at Cologne and Rouen) may be
fairly said to be hoarse with counting the flight of ages. The chimes
in Holland are a nuisance. They dance in the hours and the quarters.
They leave no respite to the imagination. Before one set has done
ringing in your ears, another begins. You do not know whether the
hours move or stand still, go backwards or forwards, so fantastical
and perplexing are their accompaniments. Time is a more staid
personage, and not so full of gambols. It puts you in mind of a tune
with variations, or of an embroidered dress. Surely, nothing is more
simple than time. His march is straightforward; but we should have
leisure allowed us to look back upon the distance we have come, and
not be counting his steps every moment. Time in Holland is a foolish
old fellow with all the antics of a youth, who "goes to church in a
coranto, and lights his pipe in a cinque-pace." The chimes with us, on
the contrary, as they come in every three or four hours, are like
stages in the journey of the day. They give a fillip to the lazy,
creeping hours, and relieve the lassitude of country-places. At noon,
their desultory, trivial song is diffused through the hamlet with the
odour of rashers of bacon; at the close of day they send the toil-worn
sleepers to their beds. Their discontinuance would be a great loss to
the thinking or unthinking public. Mr. Wordsworth has painted their
effect on the mind when he makes his friend Matthew, in a fit of
inspired dotage,

    "Sing those witty rhymes
    About the crazy old church-clock
    And the bewilder'd chimes."

The tolling of the bell for deaths and executions is a fearful
summons, though, as it announces, not the advance of time but the
approach of fate, it happily makes no part of our subject. Otherwise,
the "sound of the bell" for Macheath's execution in the "Beggar's
Opera," or for that of the Conspirators in "Venice Preserved," with
the roll of the drum at a soldier's funeral, and a digression to that
of my Uncle Toby, as it is so finely described by Sterne, would
furnish ample topics to descant upon. If I were a moralist, I might
disapprove the ringing in the new and ringing out the old year.

    'Why dance ye, mortals, o'er the grave of Time?'

St. Paul's bell tolls only for the death of our English kings, or a
distinguished personage or two, with long intervals between.[38]

[Footnote 38: Rousseau has admirably described the effect of bells on
the imagination in a passage in the Confessions, beginning "_Le son
des cloches m'a toujours singulièrement affecté_," &c.]

Those who have no artificial means of ascertaining the progress of
time, are in general the most acute in discerning its immediate signs,
and are most retentive of individual dates. The mechanical aids to
knowledge are not sharpeners of the wits. The understanding of a
savage is a kind of natural almanac, and more true in its
prognostication of the future. In his mind's eye he sees what has
happened or what is likely to happen to him, "as in a map the voyager
his course." Those who read the times and seasons in the aspect of the
heavens and the configurations of the stars, who count by moons and
know when the sun rises and sets, are by no means ignorant of their
own affairs or of the common concatenation of events. People in such
situations have not their faculties distracted by any multiplicity of
inquiries beyond what befalls themselves, and the outward appearances
that mark the change. There is, therefore, a simplicity and clearness
in the knowledge they possess, which often puzzles the more learned. I
am sometimes surprised at a shepherd-boy by the roadside, who sees
nothing but the earth and sky, asking me the time of day--he ought to
know so much better than any one how far the sun is above the horizon.
I suppose he wants to ask a question of a passenger, or to see if he
has a watch. Robinson Crusoe lost his reckoning in the monotony of his
life and that bewildering dream of solitude, and was fain to have
recourse to the notches in a piece of wood. What a diary was his! And
how time must have spread its circuit round him, vast and pathless as
the ocean!

For myself, I have never had a watch nor any other mode of keeping
time in my possession, nor ever wish to learn how time goes. It is a
sign I have had little to do, few avocations, few engagements. When I
am in a town, I can hear the clock; and when I am in the country, I
can listen to the silence. What I like best is to lie whole mornings
on a sunny bank on Salisbury Plain, without any object before me,
neither knowing nor caring how time passes, and thus "with
light-winged toys of feathered Idleness" to melt down hours to
moments. Perhaps some such thoughts as I have here set down float
before me like motes before my half-shut eyes, or some vivid image of
the past by forcible contrast rushes by me--"Diana and her fawn, and
all the glories of the antique world;" then I start away to prevent
the iron from entering my soul, and let fall some tears into that
stream of time which separates me farther and farther from all I once
loved! At length I rouse myself from my reverie, and home to dinner,
proud of killing time with thought, nay even without thinking.
Somewhat of this idle humour I inherit from my father, though he had
not the same freedom from _ennui_, for he was not a metaphysician; and
there were stops and vacant intervals in his being which he did not
know how to fill up. He used in these cases, and as an obvious
resource, carefully to wind up his watch at night, and "with
lack-lustre eye" more than once in the course of the day look to see
what o'clock it was. Yet he had nothing else in his character in
common with the elder Mr. Shandy. Were I to attempt a sketch of him,
for my own or the reader's satisfaction, it would be after the
following manner:----but now I recollect, I have done something of the
kind once before, and were I to resume the subject here, some bat or
owl of a critic, with spectacled gravity, might swear I had stolen the
whole of this Essay from myself--or (what is worse) from him! So I had
better let it go as it is.



No young man believes he shall ever die. It was a saying of my
brother's, and a fine one. There is a feeling of Eternity in youth,
which makes us amends for everything. To be young is to be as one of
the Immortal Gods. One half of time indeed is flown--the other half
remains in store for us with all its countless treasures; for there is
no line drawn, and we see no limit to our hopes and wishes. We make
the coming age our own.----

    "The vast, the unbounded prospect lies before us."

Death, old age, are words without a meaning, that pass by us like the
idle air which we regard not. Others may have undergone, or may still
be liable to them--we "bear a charmed life," which laughs to scorn all
such sickly fancies. As in setting out on a delightful journey, we
strain our eager gaze forward--

    "Bidding the lovely scenes at distance hail,"--

and see no end to the landscape, new objects presenting themselves as
we advance; so, in the commencement of life, we set no bounds to our
inclinations, nor to the unrestricted opportunities of gratifying
them. We have as yet found no obstacle, no disposition to flag; and it
seems that we can go on so for ever. We look round in a new world,
full of life, and motion, and ceaseless progress; and feel in
ourselves all the vigour and spirit to keep pace with it, and do not
foresee from any present symptoms how we shall be left behind in the
natural course of things, decline into old age, and drop into the
grave. It is the simplicity, and as it were _abstractedness_ of our
feelings in youth, that (so to speak) identifies us with nature, and
(our experience being slight and our passions strong) deludes us into
a belief of being immortal like it. Our short-lived connection with
existence, we fondly flatter ourselves, is an indissoluble and lasting
union--a honey-moon that knows neither coldness, jar, nor separation.
As infants smile and sleep, we are rocked in the cradle of our wayward
fancies, and lulled into security by the roar of the universe around
us--we quaff the cup of life with eager haste without draining it,
instead of which it only overflows the more--objects press around us,
filling the mind with their magnitude and with the throng of desires
that wait upon them, so that we have no room for the thoughts of
death. From that plenitude of our being, we cannot change all at once
to dust and ashes, we cannot imagine "this sensible, warm motion, to
become a kneaded clod"--we are too much dazzled by the brightness of
the waking dream around us to look into the darkness of the tomb. We
no more see our end than our beginning: the one is lost in oblivion
and vacancy, as the other is hid from us by the crowd and hurry of
approaching events. Or the grim shadow is seen lingering in the
horizon, which we are doomed never to overtake, or whose last, faint,
glimmering outline touches upon Heaven and translates us to the skies!
Nor would the hold that life has taken of us permit us to detach our
thoughts from present objects and pursuits, even if we would. What is
there more opposed to health, than sickness; to strength and beauty,
than decay and dissolution; to the active search of knowledge than
mere oblivion? Or is there none of the usual advantage to bar the
approach of Death, and mock his idle threats; Hope supplies their
place, and draws a veil over the abrupt termination of all our
cherished schemes. While the spirit of youth remains unimpaired, ere
the "wine of life is drank up," we are like people intoxicated or in a
fever, who are hurried away by the violence of their own sensations:
it is only as present objects begin to pall upon the sense, as we have
been disappointed in our favourite pursuits, cut off from our closest
ties, that passion loosens its hold upon the breast, that we by
degrees become weaned from the world, and allow ourselves to
contemplate, "as in a glass, darkly," the possibility of parting with
it for good. The example of others, the voice of experience, has no
effect upon us whatever. Casualties we must avoid: the slow and
deliberate advances of age we can play at _hide-and-seek_ with. We
think ourselves too lusty and too nimble for that blear-eyed decrepid
old gentleman to catch us. Like the foolish fat scullion, in Sterne,
when she hears that Master Bobby is dead, our only reflection is--"So
am not I!" The idea of death, instead of staggering our confidence,
rather seems to strengthen and enhance our possession and our
enjoyment of life. Others may fall around us like leaves, or be mowed
down like flowers by the scythe of Time: these are but tropes and
figures to the unreflecting ears and overweening presumption of youth.
It is not till we see the flowers of Love, Hope, and Joy, withering
around us, and our own pleasures cut up by the roots, that we bring
the moral home to ourselves, that we abate something of the wanton
extravagance of our pretensions, or that the emptiness and dreariness
of the prospect before us reconciles us to the stillness of the grave!

    "Life! thou strange thing, that hast a power to feel
    Thou art, and to perceive that others are."[39]

[Footnote 39: Fawcett's Art of War, a poem, 1794.]

Well might the poet begin his indignant invective against an art,
whose professed object is its destruction, with this animated
apostrophe to life. Life is indeed a strange gift, and its privileges
are most miraculous. Nor is it singular that when the splendid boon is
first granted us, our gratitude, our admiration, and our delight
should prevent us from reflecting on our own nothingness, or from
thinking it will ever be recalled. Our first and strongest impressions
are taken from the mighty scene that is opened to us, and we very
innocently transfer its durability as well as magnificence to
ourselves. So newly found, we cannot make up our minds to parting with
it yet and at least put off that consideration to an indefinite term.
Like a clown at a fair, we are full of amazement and rapture, and have
no thoughts of going home, or that it will soon be night. We know our
existence only for external objects, and we measure it by them. We can
never be satisfied with gazing; and nature will still want us to look
on and applaud. Otherwise, the sumptuous entertainment, "the feast of
reason and the flow of soul," to which they were invited, seems little
better than a mockery and a cruel insult. We do not go from a play
till the scene is ended, and the lights are ready to be extinguished.
But the fair face of things still shines on; shall we be called away,
before the curtain falls, or ere we have scarce had a glimpse of what
is going on? Like children, our stepmother Nature holds us up to see
the raree-show of the universe; and then, as if life were a burthen to
support, lets us instantly down again. Yet in that short interval,
what "brave sublunary things" does not the spectacle unfold; like a
bubble, at one minute reflecting the universe, and the next, shook to
air!--To see the golden sun and the azure sky, the outstretched ocean,
to walk upon the green earth, and to be lord of a thousand creatures,
to look down giddy precipices or over distant flowery vales, to see
the world spread out under one's finger in a map, to bring the stars
near, to view the smallest insects in a microscope, to read history,
and witness the revolutions of empires and the succession of
generations, to hear of the glory of Sidon and Tyre, of Babylon and
Susa, as of a faded pageant, and to say all these were, and are now
nothing, to think that we exist in such a point of time, and in such a
corner of space, to be at once spectators and a part of the moving
scene, to watch the return of the seasons, of spring and autumn, to

    ----"The stockdove plain amid the forest deep,
    That drowsy rustles to the sighing gale"----

to traverse desert wildernesses, to listen to the midnight choir, to
visit lighted halls, or plunge into the dungeon's gloom, or sit in
crowded theatres and see life itself mocked, to feel heat and cold,
pleasure and pain, right and wrong, truth and falsehood, to study the
works of art and refine the sense of beauty to agony, to worship fame
and to dream of immortality, to have read Shakspeare and belong to the
same species as Sir Isaac Newton;[40] to be and to do all this, and
then in a moment to be nothing, to have it all snatched from one like
a juggler's ball or a phantasmagoria; there is something revolting and
incredible to sense in the transition, and no wonder that, aided by
youth and warm blood, and the flush of enthusiasm, the mind contrives
for a long time to reject it with disdain and loathing as a monstrous
and improbable fiction, like a monkey on a house-top, that is loath,
amidst its fine discoveries and specious antics, to be tumbled
head-long into the street, and crushed to atoms, the sport and
laughter of the multitude!

[Footnote 40: Lady Wortley Montagu says, in one of her letters, that
"she would much rather be a rich _effendi_, with all his ignorance,
than Sir Isaac Newton, with all his knowledge." This was not perhaps
an impolitic choice, as she had a better chance of becoming one than
the other, there being many rich effendis to one Sir Isaac Newton. The
wish was not a very intellectual one. The same petulance of rank and
sex breaks out everywhere in these "_Letters_". She is constantly
reducing the poets or philosophers who have the misfortune of her
acquaintance, to the figure they might make at her Ladyship's levee or
toilette, not considering that the public mind does not sympathize
with this process of a fastidious imagination. In the same spirit, she
declares of Pope and Swift, that "had it not been for the
_good-nature_ of mankind, these two superior beings were entitled, by
their birth and hereditary fortune, to be only a couple of link-boys."
Gulliver's Travels, and the Rape of the Lock, go for nothing in this
critical estimate, and the world raised the authors to the rank of
superior beings, in spite of their disadvantages of birth and fortune,
_out of pure good-nature_! So, again, she says of Richardson, that he
had never got beyond the servants' hall, and was utterly unfit to
describe the manners of people of quality; till, in the capricious
workings of her vanity, she persuades herself that Clarissa is very
like what she was at her age, and that Sir Thomas and Lady Grandison
strongly resembled what she had heard of her mother and remembered of
her father. It is one of the beauties and advantages of literature,
that it is the means of abstracting the mind from the narrowness of
local and personal prejudices, and of enabling us to judge of truth
and excellence by their inherent merits alone. Woe be to the pen that
would undo this fine illusion (the only reality), and teach us to
regulate our notions of genius and virtue by the circumstances in
which they happen to be placed! You would not expect a person whom you
saw in a servants' hall, or behind a counter, to write Clarissa; but
after he had written the work, to _pre-judge_ it from the situation of
the writer, is an unpardonable piece of injustice and folly. His merit
could only be the greater from the contrast. If literature is an
elegant accomplishment, which none but persons of birth and fashion
should be allowed to excel in, or to exercise with advantage to the
public, let them by all means take upon them the task of enlightening
and refining mankind: if they decline this responsibility as too heavy
for their shoulders, let those who do the drudgery in their stead,
however inadequately, for want of their polite example, receive the
meed that is their due, and not to be treated as low pretenders who
have encroached on the province of their betters. Suppose Richardson
to have been acquainted with the great man's steward, or valet,
instead of the great man himself, I will venture to say that there was
more difference between him who lived in an _ideal world_, and had the
genius and felicity to open that world to others, and his friend the
steward, than between the lacquey and the mere lord, or between those
who lived in different rooms of the same house, who dined on the same
luxuries at different tables, who rode outside or inside of the same
coach, and were proud of wearing or of bestowing the same tawdry
livery. If the lord is distinguished from his valet by any thing else,
it is by education and talent, which he has in common with our author.
But if the latter shows these in the highest degree, it is asked what
are his pretensions? Not birth or fortune, for neither of these would
enable him to write a Clarissa. One man is born with a title and
estate, another with genius. That is sufficient; and we have no right
to question the genius for want of _gentility_, unless the former ran
in families, or could be bequeathed with a fortune, which is not the
case. Were it so, the flowers of literature, like jewels and
embroidery, would be confined to the fashionable circles; and there
would be no pretenders to taste or elegance but those whose names were
found in the court list. No one objects to Claude's Landscapes as the
work of a pastrycook, or withholds from Raphael the epithet of
_divine_, because his parents were not rich. This impertinence is
confined to men of letters; the evidence of the senses baffles the
envy and foppery of mankind. No quarter ought to be given to this
_aristocratic_ tone of criticism whenever it appears. People of
quality are not contented with carrying all the external advantages
for their own share, but would persuade you that all the intellectual
ones are packed up in the same bundle. Lord Byron was a later instance
of this double and unwarrantable style of pretension--_monstrum
ingens, biforme_. He could not endure a lord who was not a wit, nor a
poet who was not a lord. Nobody but himself answered to his own
standard of perfection. Mr. Moore carries a proxy in his pocket from
some noble persons to estimate literary merit by the same rule. Lady
Mary calls Fielding names, but she afterwards makes atonement by doing
justice to his frank, free, hearty nature, where she says "his spirits
gave him raptures with his cook-maid, and cheerfulness when he was
starving in a garret, and his happy constitution made him forget every
thing when he was placed before a venison-pasty or over a flask of
champagne." She does not want shrewdness and spirit when her petulance
and conceit do not get the better of her, and she has done ample and
merited execution on Lord Bolingbroke. She is, however, very angry at
the freedoms taken with the Great; _smells a rat_ in this
indiscriminate scribbling, and the familiarity of writers with the
reading public; and inspired by her Turkish costume, foretells a
French or English revolution as the consequence of transferring the
patronage of letters from the _quality_ to the mob, and of supposing
that ordinary writers or readers can have any notions in common with
their superiors.]

The change, from the commencement to the close of life, appears like a
fable, after it has taken place; how should we treat it otherwise than
as a chimera before it has come to pass? There are some things that
happened so long ago, places or persons we have formerly seen, of
which such dim traces remain, we hardly know whether it was sleeping
or waking they occurred; they are like dreams within the dream of
life, a mist, a film before the eye of memory, which, as we try to
recall them more distinctly, elude our notice altogether. It is but
natural that the lone interval that we thus look back upon, should
have appeared long and endless in prospect. There are others so
distinct and fresh, they seem but of yesterday--their very vividness
might be deemed a pledge of their permanence. Then, however far back
our impressions may go, we find others still older (for our years are
multiplied in youth); descriptions of scenes that we had read, and
people before our time, Priam and the Trojan war; and even then,
Nestor was old and dwelt delighted on his youth, and spoke of the
race, of heroes that were no more;--what wonder that, seeing this long
line of being pictured in our minds, and reviving as it were in us, we
should give ourselves involuntary credit for an indeterminate period
of existence? In the Cathedral at Peterborough there is a monument to
Mary, Queen of Scots, at which I used to gaze when a boy, while the
events of the period, all that had happened since, passed in review
before me. If all this mass of feeling and imagination could be
crowded into a moment's compass, what might not the whole of life be
supposed to contain? We are heirs of the past; we count upon the
future as our natural reversion. Besides, there are some of our early
impressions so exquisitely tempered, it appears that they must always
last--nothing can add to or take away from their sweetness and
purity--the first breath of spring, the hyacinth dipped in the dew,
the mild lustre of the evening-star, the rainbow after a storm--while
we have the full enjoyment of these, we must be young; and what can
ever alter us in this respect? Truth, friendship, love, books, are
also proof against the canker of time; and while we live, but for
them, we can never grow old. We take out a new lease of existence from
the objects on which we set our affections, and become abstracted,
impassive, immortal in them. We cannot conceive how certain sentiments
should ever decay or grow cold in our breasts; and, consequently, to
maintain them in their first youthful glow and vigour, the flame of
life must continue to burn as bright as ever, or rather, they are the
fuel that feed the sacred lamp, that kindle "the purple light of
love," and spread a golden cloud around our heads! Again, we not only
flourish and survive in our affections (in which we will not listen to
the possibility of a change, any more than we foresee the wrinkles on
the brow of a mistress), but we have a farther guarantee against the
thoughts of death in our favourite studies and pursuits, and in their
continual advance. Art we know is long; life, we feel, should be so
too. We see no end of the difficulties we have to encounter:
perfection is slow of attainment, and we must have time to accomplish
it in. Rubens complained that when he had just learnt his art, he was
snatched away from it: we trust we shall be more fortunate! A wrinkle
in an old head takes whole days to finish it properly: but to catch
"the Raphael grace, the Guido air," no limit should be put to our
endeavours. What a prospect for the future! What a task we have
entered upon! and shall we be arrested in the middle of it? We do not
reckon our time thus employed lost, or our pains thrown away, or our
progress slow--we do not droop or grow tired, but "gain new vigour at
our endless task;"--and shall Time grudge us the opportunity to finish
what we have auspiciously begun, and have formed a sort of compact
with nature to achieve? The fame of the great names we look up to is
also imperishable; and shall not we, who contemplate it with such
intense yearnings, imbibe a portion of ethereal fire, the _divinæ
particula auræ_, which nothing can extinguish? I remember to have
looked at a print of Rembrandt for hours together, without being
conscious of the flight of time, trying to resolve it into its
component parts, to connect its strong and sharp gradations, to learn
the secret of its reflected lights, and found neither satiety nor
pause in the prosecution of my studies. The print over which I was
poring would last long enough; why should the idea in my mind, which
was finer, more impalpable, perish before it? At this, I redoubled the
ardour of my pursuit, and by the very subtlety and refinement of my
inquiries, seemed to bespeak for them an exemption from corruption and
the rude grasp of Death.[41]

[Footnote 41: Is it not this that frequently keeps artists alive so
long, _viz._ the constant occupation of their minds with vivid images,
with little of the _wear-and-tear_ of the body?]

Objects, on our first acquaintance with them, have that singleness and
integrity of impression that it seems as if nothing could destroy or
obliterate them, so firmly are they stamped and rivetted on the brain.
We repose on them with a sort of voluptuous indolence, in full faith
and boundless confidence. We are absorbed in the present moment, or
return to the same point--idling away a great deal of time in youth,
thinking we have enough and to spare. There is often a local feeling
in the air, which is as fixed as if it were of marble; we loiter in
dim cloisters, losing ourselves in thought and in their glimmering
arches; a winding road before us seems as long as the journey of life,
and as full of events. Time and experience dissipate this illusion;
and by reducing them to detail, circumscribe the limits of our
expectations. It is only as the pageant of life passes by and the
masques turn their backs upon us, that we see through the deception,
or believe that the train will have an end. In many cases, the slow
progress and monotonous texture of our lives, before we mingle with
the world and are embroiled in its affairs, has a tendency to aid the
same feeling. We have a difficulty, when left to ourselves, and
without the resource of books or some more lively pursuit, to "beguile
the slow and creeping hours of time," and argue that if it moves on
always at this tedious snail's-pace, it can never come to an end. We
are willing to skip over certain portions of it that separate us from
favourite objects, that irritate ourselves at the unnecessary delay.
The young are prodigal of life from a superabundance of it; the old
are tenacious on the same score, because they have little left, and
cannot enjoy even what remains of it.

For my part, I set out in life with the French Revolution, and that
event had considerable influence on my early feelings, as on those of
others. Youth was then doubly such. It was the dawn of a new era, a
new impulse had been given to men's minds, and the sun of Liberty rose
upon the sun of Life in the same day, and both were proud to run their
race together. Little did I dream, while my first hopes and wishes
went hand in hand with those of the human race, that long before my
eyes should close, that dawn would be overcast, and set once more in
the night of despotism--"total eclipse!" Happy that I did not. I felt
for years, and during the best part of my existence, _heart-whole_ in
that cause, and triumphed in the triumphs over the enemies of man! At
that time, while the fairest aspirations of the human mind seemed
about to be realized, ere the image of man was defaced and his breast
mangled in scorn, philosophy took a higher, poetry could afford a
deeper range. At that time, to read the "Robbers," was indeed
delicious, and to hear

    "From the dungeon of the tower time-rent,
    That fearful voice, a famish'd father's cry,"

could be borne only amidst the fulness of hope, the crash of the fall
of the strongholds of power, and the exulting sounds of the march of
human freedom. What feelings the death-scene in Don Carlos sent into
the soul! In that headlong career of lofty enthusiasm, and the joyous
opening of the prospects of the world and our own, the thought of
death crossing it, smote doubly cold upon the mind; there was a
stifling sense of oppression and confinement, an impatience of our
present knowledge, a desire to grasp the whole of our existence in one
strong embrace, to sound the mystery of life and death, and in order
to put an end to the agony of doubt and dread, to burst through our
prison-house, and confront the King of Terrors in his grisly
palace!... As I was writing out this passage, my miniature-picture
when a child lay on the mantle-piece, and I took it out of the case to
look at it. I could perceive few traces of myself in it; but there was
the same placid brow, the dimpled mouth, the same timid, inquisitive
glance as ever. But its careless smile did not seem to reproach me
with having become a recreant to the sentiments that were then sown in
my mind, or with having written a sentence that could call up a blush
in this image of ingenuous youth!

"That time is past with all its giddy raptures." Since the future was
barred to my progress, I have turned for consolation to the past,
gathering up the fragments of my early recollections, and putting them
into a form that might live. It is thus, that when we find our
personal and substantial identity vanishing from us, we strive to gain
a reflected and substituted one in our thoughts: we do not like to
perish wholly, and wish to bequeath our names at least to posterity.
As long as we can keep alive our cherished thoughts and nearest
interests in the minds of others, we do not appear to have retired
altogether from the stage, we still occupy a place in the estimation
of mankind, exercise a powerful influence over them, and it is only
our bodies that are trampled into dust or dispersed to air. Our
darling speculations still find favour and encouragement, and we make
as good a figure in the eyes of our descendants, nay, perhaps, a
better than we did in our life-time. This is one point gained; the
demands of our self-love are so far satisfied. Besides, if by the
proofs of intellectual superiority we survive ourselves in this world,
by exemplary virtue or unblemished faith, we are taught to ensure an
interest in another and a higher state of being, and to anticipate at
the same time the applauses of men and angels.

    "Even from the tomb the voice of nature cries;
    Even in our ashes live their wonted fires."

As we advance in life, we acquire a keener sense of the value of time.
Nothing else, indeed, seems of any consequence; and we become misers
in this respect. We try to arrest its few last tottering steps, and to
make it linger on the brink of the grave. We can never leave off
wondering how that which has ever been should cease to be, and would
still live on, that we may wonder at our own shadow, and when "all the
life of life is flown," dwell on the retrospect of the past. This is
accompanied by a mechanical tenaciousness of whatever we possess, by a
distrust and a sense of fallacious hollowness in all we see. Instead
of the full, pulpy feeling of youth, everything is flat and insipid.
The world is a painted witch, that puts us off with false shows and
tempting appearances. The ease, the jocund gaiety, the unsuspecting
security of youth are fled: nor can we, without flying in the face of
common sense,

    "From the last dregs of life, hope to receive
    What its first sprightly runnings could not give."

If we can slip out of the world without notice or mischance, can
tamper with bodily infirmity, and frame our minds to the becoming
composure of _still-life_, before we sink into total insensibility, it
is as much as we ought to expect. We do not in the regular course of
nature die all at once: we have mouldered away gradually long before;
faculty after faculty, attachment after attachment, we are torn from
ourselves piece-meal while living; year after year takes something
from us; and death only consigns the last remnant of what we were to
the grave. The revulsion is not so great, and a quiet _euthanasia_ is
a winding-up of the plot, that is not out of reason or nature.

That we should thus in a manner outlive ourselves, and dwindle
imperceptibly into nothing, is not surprising, when even in our prime
the strongest impressions leave so little traces of themselves behind,
and the last object is driven out by the succeeding one. How little
effect is produced on us at any time by the books we have read, the
scenes we have witnessed, the sufferings we have gone through! Think
only of the variety of feelings we experience in reading an
interesting romance, or being present at a fine play--what beauty,
what sublimity, what soothing, what heart-rending emotions! You would
suppose these would last for ever, or at least subdue the mind to a
correspondent tone and harmony--while we turn over the page, while the
scene is passing before us, it seems as if nothing could ever after
shake our resolution, that "treason domestic, foreign levy, nothing
could touch us farther!" The first splash of mud we get, on entering
the street, the first pettifogging shop-keeper that cheats us out of
twopence, and the whole vanishes clean out of our remembrance, and we
become the idle prey of the most petty and annoying circumstances. The
mind soars by an effort to the grand and lofty: it is at home, in the
grovelling, the disagreeable, and the little. This happens in the
height and heyday of our existence, when novelty gives a stronger
impulse to the blood and takes a faster hold of the brain, (I have
known the impression on coming out of a gallery of pictures then last
half a day)--as we grow old, we become more feeble and querulous,
every object "reverbs its own hollowness," and both worlds are not
enough to satisfy the peevish importunity and extravagant presumption
of our desires! There are a few superior, happy beings, who are born
with a temper exempt from every trifling annoyance. This spirit sits
serene and smiling as in its native skies, and a divine harmony
(whether heard or not) plays around them. This is to be at peace.
Without this, it is in vain to fly into deserts, or to build a
hermitage on the top of rocks, if regret and ill-humour follow us
there: and with this, it is needless to make the experiment. The only
true retirement is that of the heart; the only true leisure is the
repose of the passions. To such persons it makes little difference
whether they are young or old; and they die as they have lived, with
graceful resignation.



A feeling of sadness, a peculiar melancholy, is wont to take
possession of me alike in spring and in autumn. But in spring it is
the melancholy of hope: in autumn it is the melancholy of resignation.
As I was journeying on foot through the Apennines, I fell in with a
pilgrim in whom the spring and the autumn and the melancholy of both
seemed to have combined. In his discourse there were the freshness and
the colours of April:

    "Qual ramicel a ramo,
    Tal da pensier pensiero
    In lui germogliava."

But as I gazed on his whole form and figure, I bethought me of the not
unlovely decays, both of age and of the late season, in the stately
elm, after the clusters have been plucked from its entwining vines,
and the vines are as bands of dried withies around its trunk and
branches. Even so there was a memory on his smooth and ample forehead,
which blended with the dedication of his steady eyes, that still
looked--I know not, whether upward, or far onward, or rather to the
line of meeting where the sky rests upon the distance. But how may I
express--the breathed tarnish, shall I name it?--on the lustre of the
pilgrim's eyes? Yet had it not a sort of strange accordance with their
slow and reluctant movement, whenever he turned them to any object on
the right hand or on the left? It seemed, methought, as if there lay
upon the brightness a shadowy presence of disappointments now unfelt,
but never forgotten. It was at once the melancholy of hope and of

We had not long been fellow-travellers, ere a sudden tempest of wind
and rain forced us to seek protection in the vaulted doorway of a lone
chapelry: and we sat face to face, each on the stone bench alongside
the low, weather-stained wall, and as close as possible to the massy

After a pause of silence: "Even thus," said he, "like two strangers
that have fled to the same shelter from the same storm, not seldom do
despair and hope meet for the first time in the porch of death!" "All
extremes meet," I answered; "but yours was a strange and visionary
thought." "The better then doth it beseem both the place and me," he
replied. "From a visionary wilt thou hear a vision? Mark that vivid
flash through this torrent of rain! Fire and water. Even here thy
adage holds true, and its truth is the moral of my vision." I
entreated him to proceed. Sloping his face toward the arch and yet
averting his eye from it, he seemed to seek and prepare his words:
till listening to the wind that echoed within the hollow edifice, and
to the rain without,

    "Which stole on his thoughts with its two-fold sound,
    The clash hard by and the murmur all round,"

he gradually sank away, alike from me and from his own purpose, and
amid the gloom of the storm and in the duskiness of that place he sat
like an emblem on a rich man's sepulchre, or like an aged mourner on
the sodded grave of an only one, who is watching the waned moon and
sorroweth not. Starting at length from his brief trance of
abstraction, with courtesy and an atoning smile he renewed his
discourse, and commenced his parable:

"During one of those short furloughs from the service of the body,
which the soul may sometimes obtain even in this, its militant state,
I found myself in a vast plain, which I immediately knew to be the
Valley of Life. It possessed an astonishing diversity of soils: and
here was a sunny spot, and there a dark one, forming just such a
mixture of sunshine and shade as we may have observed on the
mountain's side in an April day, when the thin broken clouds are
scattered over heaven. Almost in the very entrance of the valley stood
a large and gloomy pile, into which I seemed constrained to enter.
Every part of the building was crowded with tawdry ornaments and
fantastic deformity. On every window was portrayed, in glaring and
inelegant colours, some horrible tale or preternatural incident, so
that not a ray of light could enter, untinged by the medium through
which it passed. The body of the building was full of people, some of
them dancing in and out, in unintelligible figures, with strange
ceremonies and antic merriment, while others seemed convulsed with
horror, or pining in mad melancholy. Intermingled with these, I
observed a number of men, clothed in ceremonial robes, who appeared
now to marshal the various groups and to direct their movements; and
now, with menacing countenances, to drag some reluctant victim to a
vast idol, framed of iron bars intercrossed, which formed at the same
time an immense cage, and the form of a human Colossus.

"I stood for a while lost in wonder what these things might mean; when
lo! one of the directors came up to me, and with a stern and
reproachful look bade me uncover my head; for that the place, into
which I had entered, was the temple of the only true religion, in the
holier recesses of which the great goddess personally resided. Himself
too he bade me reverence, as the consecrated minister of her rites.
Awe-struck by the name of religion, I bowed before the priest, and
humbly and earnestly intreated him to conduct me into her presence. He
assented. Offerings he took from me, with mystic sprinklings of water
and with salt he purified, and with strange sufflations he exorcised
me; and then led me through many a dark and winding alley, the
dew-damps of which chilled my flesh, and the hollow echoes under my
feet, mingled, methought, with moanings, affrighted me. At length we
entered a large hall where not even a single lamp glimmered. It was
made half visible by the wan phosphoric rays which proceeded from
inscriptions on the walls, in letters of the same pale and sepulchral
light. I could read them, methought; but though each one of the words
taken separately I seemed to understand, yet when I took them in
sentences, they were riddles and incomprehensible. As I stood
meditating on these hard sayings, my guide thus addressed me: 'The
fallible becomes infallible, and the infallible remains fallible. Read
and believe: these are mysteries!' In the middle of the vast hall the
goddess was placed. Her features, blended with darkness, rose out to
my view, terrible, yet vacant. No definite thought, no distinct image
was afforded me: all was uneasy and obscure feeling. I prostrated
myself before her, and then retired with my guide, soul-withered, and
wondering, and dissatisfied.

"As I re-entered the body of the temple, I heard a deep buzz as of
discontent. A few whose eyes were bright, and either piercing or
steady, and whose ample foreheads, with the weighty bar, ridge-like,
above the eyebrows, bespoke observation followed by meditative
thought, and a much larger number who were enraged by the severity and
insolence of the priests in exacting their offerings, had collected in
one tumultuous group, and with a confused outcry of 'This is the
Temple of Superstition!' after much contumely, and turmoil, and cruel
mal-treatment on all sides, rushed out of the pile: and I, methought,
joined them.

"We speeded from the temple with hasty steps, and had now nearly gone
round half the valley, when we were addressed by a woman, tall beyond
the stature of mortals, and with a something more than human in her
countenance and mien, which yet could by mortals be only felt, not
conveyed by words or intelligibly distinguished. Deep reflection,
animated by ardent feelings, was displayed in them; and hope, without
its uncertainty, and a something more than all these, which I
understood not; but which yet seemed to blend all these into a divine
unity of expression. Her garments were white and matronly, and of the
simplest texture. We inquired her name. My name, she replied, is

"The more numerous part of our company, affrighted by the very sound,
and sore from recent impostures or sorceries, hurried onwards and
examined no farther. A few of us, struck by the manifest opposition of
her form and manner to those of the living Idol, whom we had so
recently abjured, agreed to follow her, though with cautious
circumspection. She led us to an eminence in the midst of the valley,
from the top of which we could command the whole plain, and observe
the relation of the different parts, of each to the other, and of each
to the whole, and of all to each. She then gave us an optic glass
which assisted without contradicting our natural vision, and enabled
us to see far beyond the limits of the Valley of Life; though our eye
even thus assisted permitted us only to behold a light and a glory,
but what we could not descry, save only that it _was_, and that it was
most glorious.

"And now, with the rapid transition of a dream, I had overtaken and
rejoined the more numerous party, who had abruptly left us, indignant
at the very name of religion. They journeyed on, goading each other
with remembrances of past oppressions, and never looking back, till in
the eagerness to recede from the Temple of Superstition they had
rounded the whole circle of the valley. And lo! there faced us the
mouth of a vast cavern, at the base of a lofty and almost
perpendicular rock, the interior side of which, unknown to them, and
unsuspected, formed the extreme and backward wall of the temple. An
impatient crowd, we entered the vast and dusky cave, which was the
only perforation of the precipice. At the mouth of the cave sat two
figures; the first, by her dress and gestures, I knew to be
Sensuality; the second form, from the fierceness of his demeanour, and
the brutal scornfulness of his looks, declared himself to be the
monster Blasphemy. He uttered big words, and yet ever and anon I
observed that he turned pale at his own courage. We entered. Some
remained in the opening of the cave, with the one or the other of its
guardians. The rest, and I among them, pressed on, till we reached an
ample chamber, that seemed the centre of the rock. The climate of the
place was unnaturally cold.

"In the furthest distance of the chamber sat an old dim-eyed man,
poring with a microscope over the torso of a statue, which had neither
base, nor feet, nor head; but on its breast was carved, Nature! To
this he continually applied his glass, and seemed enraptured with the
various inequalities which it rendered visible on the seemingly
polished surface of the marble. Yet evermore was this delight and
triumph followed by expressions of hatred, and vehement railing
against a Being who yet, he assured us, had no existence. This mystery
suddenly recalled to me what I had read in the holiest recess of the
Temple of _Superstition_. The old man spoke in divers tongues, and
continued to utter other and most strange mysteries. Among the rest he
talked much and vehemently concerning an infinite series of causes and
effects, which he explained to be--a string of blind men, the last of
whom caught hold of the skirt of the one before him, he of the next,
and so on till they were all out of sight; and that they all walked
infallibly straight, without making one false step, though all were
alike blind. Methought I borrowed courage from surprise, and asked
him--Who then is at the head to guide them? He looked at me with
ineffable contempt, not unmixed with an angry suspicion, and then
replied, 'No one;--the string of blind men went on for ever without
any beginning: for although one blind man could not move without
stumbling, yet infinite blindness supplied the want of sight.' I burst
into laughter, which instantly turned to terror--for as he started
forward in rage, I caught a glance of him from behind; and lo! I
beheld a monster biform and Janus-headed, in the hinder face and shape
of which I instantly recognised the dread countenance of
Superstition--and in the terror I awoke."



It needs scarcely be said, that an Epitaph presupposes a Monument,
upon which it is to be engraven. Almost all Nations have wished that
certain external signs should point out the places where their Dead
are interred. Among savage Tribes unacquainted with Letters, this has
mostly been done either by rude stones placed near the Graves, or by
Mounds of earth raised over them. This custom proceeded obviously from
a twofold desire; first, to guard the remains of the deceased from
irreverent approach or from savage violation: and, secondly, to
preserve their memory. "Never any," says Camden, "neglected burial but
some savage Nations; as the Bactrians, which cast their dead to the
dogs; some varlet Philosophers, as Diogenes, who desired to be
devoured of fishes; some dissolute Courtiers, as Mæcenas, who was wont
to say, Non tumulum curo; sepelit natura relictos.

    "I'm careless of a Grave:--Nature her dead will save."

As soon as Nations had learned the use of letters, Epitaphs were
inscribed upon these Monuments; in order that their intention might be
more surely and adequately fulfilled. I have derived Monuments and
Epitaphs from two sources of feeling: but these do in fact resolve
themselves into one. The invention of Epitaphs, Weever, in his
Discourse of Funeral Monuments, says rightly, "proceeded from the
presage or fore-feeling of Immortality, implanted in all men
naturally, and is referred to the Scholars of Linus the Theban Poet,
who flourished about the year of the World two thousand seven hundred;
who first bewailed this Linus their Master, when he was slain, in
doleful verses, then called of him OElina, afterwards Epitaphia, for
that they were first sung at burials, after engraved upon the

And, verily, without the consciousness of a principle of Immortality
in the human soul, Man could never have had awakened in him the desire
to live in the remembrance of his fellows: mere love, or the yearning
of Kind towards Kind, could not have produced it. The Dog or Horse
perishes in the field, or in the stall, by the side of his companions,
and is incapable of anticipating the sorrow with which his surrounding
Associates shall bemoan his death, or pine for his loss; he cannot
pre-conceive this regret, he can form no thought of it; and therefore
cannot possibly have a desire to leave such regret or remembrance
behind him. Add to the principle of love, which exists in the inferior
animals, the faculty of reason which exists in Man alone; will the
conjunction of these account for the desire? Doubtless it is a
necessary consequence of this conjunction; yet not I think as a direct
result, but only to be come at through an intermediate thought, viz.
That of an intimation or assurance within us, that some part of our
nature is imperishable. At least the precedence, in order of birth, of
one feeling to the other, is unquestionable. If we look back upon the
days of childhood, we shall find that the time is not in remembrance
when, with respect to our own individual Being, the mind was without
this assurance; whereas the wish to be remembered by our Friends or
Kindred after Death, or even in Absence, is, as we shall discover, a
sensation that does not form itself till the _social_ feelings have
been developed, and the Reason has connected itself with a wide range
of objects. Forlorn, and cut off from communication with the best part
of his nature, must that Man be, who should derive the sense of
immortality, as it exists in the mind of a Child, from the same
unthinking gaiety or liveliness of animal Spirits with which the Lamb
in the meadow, or any other irrational Creature, is endowed; who
should ascribe it, in short, to blank ignorance in the Child; to an
inability arising from the imperfect state of his faculties to come,
in any point of his being, into contact with a notion of Death; or to
an unreflecting acquiescence in what had been instilled into him! Has
such an unfolder of the mysteries of Nature, though he may have
forgotten his former self, ever noticed the early, obstinate, and
unappeasable inquisitiveness of Children upon the subject of
origination? This single fact proves outwardly the monstrousness of
those suppositions: for, if we had no direct external testimony that
the minds of very young Children meditate feelingly upon Death and
Immortality, these inquiries, which we all know they are perpetually
making concerning the _whence_, do necessarily include correspondent
habits of interrogation concerning the _whither_. Origin and tendency
are notions inseparably co-relative. Never did a Child stand by the
side of a running Stream, pondering within himself what power was the
feeder of the perpetual current, from what never-wearied sources the
body of water was supplied, but he must have been inevitably propelled
to follow this question by another: "towards what abyss is it in
progress? what receptacle can contain the mighty influx?" And the
spirit of the answer must have been, though the word might be Sea or
Ocean, accompanied perhaps with an image gathered from a Map, or from
the real object in Nature--these might have been the _letter_, but the
_spirit_ of the answer must have been _as_ inevitably,--a receptacle
without bounds or dimensions;--nothing less than infinity. We may,
then, be justified in asserting, that the sense of Immortality, if not
a co-existent and twin birth with Reason, is among the earliest of her
Offspring: and we may further assert, that from these conjoined, and
under their countenance, the human affections are gradually formed and
opened out. This is not the place to enter into the recesses of these
investigations; but the subject requires me here to make a plain
avowal, that, for my own part, it is to me inconceivable, that the
sympathies of love towards each other, which grow with our growth,
could ever attain any new strength, or even preserve the old, after we
had received from the outward senses the impression of Death, and were
in the habit of having that impression daily renewed and its
accompanying feeling brought home to ourselves, and to those we love;
if the same were not counteracted by those communications with our
internal Being, which are anterior to all these experiences, and with
which revelation coincides, and has through that coincidence alone
(for otherwise it could not possess it) a power to affect us. I
confess, with me the conviction is absolute, that, if the impression
and sense of Death were not thus counterbalanced, such a hollowness
would pervade the whole system of things, such a want of
correspondence and consistency, a disproportion so astounding betwixt
means and ends, that there could be no repose, no joy. Were we to grow
up unfostered by this genial warmth, a frost would chill the spirit,
so penetrating and powerful, that there could be no motions of the
life of love; and infinitely less could we have any wish to be
remembered after we had passed away from a world in which each man had
moved about like a shadow.--If, then, in a Creature endowed with the
faculties of foresight and reason, the social affections could not
have unfolded themselves uncountenanced by the faith that Man is an
immortal being; and if, consequently, neither could the individual
dying have had a desire to survive in the remembrance of his fellows,
nor on their side could they have felt a wish to preserve for future
times vestiges of the departed; it follows, as a final inference, that
without the belief in Immortality, wherein these several desires
originate, neither monuments nor epitaphs, in affectionate or
laudatory commemoration of the Deceased, could have existed in the

Simonides, it is related, upon landing in a strange Country, found the
Corse of an unknown person, lying by the Sea-side; he buried it, and
was honoured throughout Greece for the piety of that Act. Another
ancient Philosopher, chancing to fix his eyes upon a dead Body,
regarded the same with slight, if not with contempt; saying, "see the
Shell of the flown Bird!" But it is not to be supposed that the moral
and tender-hearted Simonides was incapable of the lofty movements of
thought, to which that other Sage gave way at the moment while his
soul was intent only upon the indestructible being; nor, on the other
hand, that he, in whose sight a lifeless human Body was of no more
value than the worthless Shell from which the living fowl had
departed, would not, in a different mood of mind, have been affected
by those earthly considerations which had incited the philosophic Poet
to the performance of that pious duty. And with regard to this latter
we may be assured that, if he had been destitute of the capability of
communing with the more exalted thoughts that appertain to human
Nature, he would have cared no more for the Corse of the Stranger than
for the dead body of a Seal or Porpoise which might have been cast up
by the Waves. We respect the corporeal frame of Man, not merely
because it is the habitation of a rational, but of an immortal Soul.
Each of these Sages was in Sympathy with the best feelings of our
Nature; feelings which, though they seem opposite to each other, have
another and a finer connection than that of contrast.--It is a
connection formed through the subtle progress by which, both in the
natural and the moral world, qualities pass insensibly into their
contraries, and things revolve upon each other. As, in sailing upon
the orb of this Planet, a voyage towards the regions where the sun
sets, conducts gradually to the quarter where we have been accustomed
to behold it come forth at its rising; and, in like manner, a voyage
towards the east, the birth-place in our imagination of the morning,
leads finally to the quarter where the Sun is last seen when he
departs from our eyes; so the contemplative Soul, travelling in the
direction of mortality, advances to the Country of everlasting Life;
and, in like manner, may she continue to explore those cheerful
tracts, till she is brought back, for her advantage and benefit, to
the land of transitory things--of sorrow and of tears.

On a midway point, therefore, which commands the thoughts and feelings
of the two Sages whom we have represented in contrast, does the Author
of that species of composition, the Laws of which it is our present
purpose to explain, take his stand. Accordingly, recurring to the
twofold desire of guarding the Remains of the deceased and preserving
their memory, it may be said that a sepulchral Monument is a tribute
to a Man as a human Being; and that an Epitaph, (in the ordinary
meaning attached to the word) includes this general feeling and
something more; and is a record to preserve the memory of the dead, as
a tribute due to his individual worth, for a satisfaction to the
sorrowing hearts of the Survivors, and for the common benefit of the
living: which record is to be accomplished, not in a general manner,
but, where it can, in _close connection with the bodily remains of the
deceased_: and these, it may be added, among the modern Nations of
Europe are deposited within, or contiguous to their places of worship.
In ancient times, as is well known, it was the custom to bury the dead
beyond the Walls of Towns and Cities; and among the Greeks and Romans
they were frequently interred by the waysides.

I could here pause with pleasure, and invite the Reader to indulge
with me in contemplation of the advantages which must have attended
such a practice. We might ruminate upon the beauty which the
Monuments, thus placed, must have borrowed from the surrounding images
of Nature--from the trees, the wild flowers, from a stream running
perhaps within sight or hearing, from the beaten road stretching its
weary length hard by. Many tender similitudes must these objects have
presented to the mind of the Traveller leaning upon one of the Tombs,
or reposing in the coolness of its shade, whether he had halted from
weariness or in compliance with the invitation, "Pause, Traveller!" so
often found upon the Monuments. And to its Epitaph also must have been
supplied strong appeals to visible appearances or immediate
impressions, lively and affecting analogies of Life as a
Journey--Death as a Sleep overcoming the tired Wayfarer--of Misfortune
as a Storm that falls suddenly upon him--of Beauty as a Flower that
passeth away, or of innocent pleasure as one that may be gathered--of
Virtue that standeth firm as a Rock against the beating Waves;--of
Hope "undermined insensibly like the Poplar by the side of the River
that has fed it," or blasted in a moment like a Pine-tree by the
stroke of lightning upon the Mountain-top--of admonitions and
heart-stirring remembrances, like a refreshing Breeze that comes
without warning, or the taste of the waters of an unexpected Fountain.
These, and similar suggestions, must have given, formerly, to the
language of the senseless stone a voice enforced and endeared by the
benignity of that Nature with which it was in unison.--We, in modern
times, have lost much of these advantages; and they are but in a small
degree counterbalanced to the Inhabitants of large Towns and Cities,
by the custom of depositing the Dead within, or contiguous to, their
places of worship; however splendid or imposing may be the appearance
of those Edifices, or however interesting or salutary the
recollections associated with them. Even were it not true that Tombs
lose their monitory virtue when thus obtruded upon the Notice of Men
occupied with the cares of the World, and too often sullied and
defiled by those cares, yet still, when Death is in our thoughts,
nothing can make amends for the want of the soothing influences of
Nature, and for the absence of those types of renovation and decay,
which the fields and woods offer to the notice of the serious and
contemplative mind. To feel the force of this sentiment, let a man
only compare in imagination the unsightly manner in which our
Monuments are crowded together in the busy, noisy, unclean, and almost
grassless Church-yard of a large Town, with the still seclusion of a
Turkish Cemetery, in some remote place; and yet further sanctified by
the Grove of Cypress in which it is embosomed. Thoughts in the same
temper as these have already been expressed with true sensibility by
an ingenious Poet of the present day. The subject of his Poem is "All
Saints Church, Derby": he has been deploring the forbidding and
unseemly appearance of its burial-ground, and uttering a wish, that in
past times the practice had been adopted of interring the Inhabitants
of large Towns in the Country.--

    Then in some rural, calm, sequestered spot,
    Where healing Nature her benignant look
    Ne'er changes, save at that lorn season, when,
    With tresses drooping o'er her sable stole,
    She yearly mourns the mortal doom of man,
    Her noblest work (so Israel's virgins erst,
    With annual moan upon the mountains wept
    Their fairest gone), there in that rural scene,
    So placid, so congenial to the wish
    The Christian feels, of peaceful rest within
    The silent grave, I would have strayed:

           *       *       *       *       *

    --wandered forth, where the cold dew of heaven
    Lay on the humbler graves around, what time
    The pale moon gazed upon the turfy mounds,
    Pensive, as though like me, in lonely muse,
    'Twere brooding on the Dead inhumed beneath.
    There while with him, the holy man of Uz,
    O'er human destiny I sympathized,
    Counting the long, long periods prophecy
    Decrees to roll, ere the great day arrives
    Of resurrection, oft the blue-eyed Spring
    Had met me with her blossoms, as the Dove,
    Of old, returned with olive leaf, to cheer
    The Patriarch mourning over a world destroyed:
    And I would bless her visit; for to me
    'Tis sweet to trace the consonance that links
    As one, the works of Nature and the word
    Of God.--


A Village Church-yard, lying as it does in the lap of Nature, may
indeed be most favourably contrasted with that of a Town of crowded
Population; and Sepulture therein combines many of the best tendencies
which belong to the mode practised by the Ancients, with others
peculiar to itself. The sensations of pious cheerfulness, which attend
the celebration of the Sabbath-day in rural places, are profitably
chastised by the sight of the Graves of Kindred and Friends, gathered
together in that general Home towards which the thoughtful yet happy
Spectators themselves are journeying. Hence a Parish Church, in the
stillness of the Country, is a visible centre of a community of the
living and the dead; a point to which are habitually referred the
nearest concerns of both.

As, then, both in Cities and in Villages, the Dead are deposited in
close connection with our places of worship, with us the composition
of an Epitaph naturally turns, still more than among the Nations of
Antiquity, upon the most serious and solemn affections of the human
mind; upon departed Worth--upon personal or social Sorrow and
Admiration--upon Religion, individual and social--upon Time, and upon
eternity. Accordingly it suffices, in ordinary cases, to secure a
composition of this kind from censure, that it contains nothing that
shall shock or be inconsistent with this spirit. But to entitle an
Epitaph to praise, more than this is necessary. It ought to contain
some Thought or Feeling belonging to the mortal or immortal part of
our Nature touchingly expressed; and if that be done, however general
or even trite the sentiment may be, every man of pure mind will read
the words with pleasure and gratitude. A Husband bewails a Wife; a
Parent breathes a sigh of disappointed hope over a lost Child; a Son
utters a sentiment of filial reverence for a departed Father or
Mother; a Friend perhaps inscribes an encomium recording the
companionable qualities, or the solid virtues, of the Tenant of the
Grave, whose departure has left a sadness upon his memory. This, and a
pious admonition to the Living, and a humble expression of Christian
confidence in Immortality, is the language of a thousand Church-yards;
and it does not often happen that any thing, in a greater degree
discriminate or appropriate to the Dead or to the Living, is to be
found in them. This want of discrimination has been ascribed by Dr.
Johnson, in his Essay upon the Epitaphs of Pope, to two causes; first,
the scantiness of the Objects of human praise; and, secondly, the want
of variety in the Characters of Men; or, to use his own words, "to the
fact, that the greater part of Mankind have no character at all." Such
language may be holden without blame among the generalities of common
conversation; but does not become a Critic and a Moralist speaking
seriously upon a serious Subject. The objects of admiration in
Human-nature are not scanty, but abundant; and every Man has a
Character of his own, to the eye that has skill to perceive it. The
real cause of the acknowledged want of discrimination in sepulchral
memorials is this: That to analyse the Characters of others,
especially of those whom we love, is not a common or natural
employment of Men at any time. We are not anxious unerringly to
understand the constitution of the Minds of those who have soothed,
who have cheered, who have supported us: with whom we have been long
and daily pleased or delighted. The affections are their own
justification. The Light of Love in our Hearts is a satisfactory
evidence that there is a body of worth in the minds of our friends or
kindred, whence that Light has proceeded. We shrink from the thought
of placing their merits and defects to be weighed against each other
in the nice balance of pure intellect; nor do we find much temptation
to detect the shades by which a good quality or virtue is
discriminated in them from an excellence known by the same general
name as it exists in the mind of another; and, least of all, do we
incline to these refinements when under the pressure of Sorrow,
Admiration, or Regret, or when actuated by any of those feelings which
incite men to prolong the memory of their Friends and Kindred, by
records placed in the bosom of the all-uniting and equalizing
Receptacle of the Dead.

The first requisite, then, in an Epitaph is, that it should speak, in
a tone which shall sink into the heart, the general language of
humanity as connected with the subject of Death--the source from which
an Epitaph proceeds; of death and of life. To be born and to die are
the two points in which all men feel themselves to be in absolute
coincidence. This general language may be uttered so strikingly as to
entitle an Epitaph to high praise; yet it cannot lay claim to the
highest unless other excellencies be superadded. Passing through all
intermediate steps, we will attempt to determine at once what these
excellencies are, and wherein consists the perfection of this species
of composition. It will be found to lie in a due proportion of the
common or universal feeling of humanity to sensations excited by a
distinct and clear conception, conveyed to the Reader's mind, of the
Individual, whose death is deplored and whose memory is to be
preserved; at least of his character as, after Death, it appeared to
those who loved him and lament his loss. The general sympathy ought to
be quickened, provoked, and diversified, by particular thoughts,
actions, images,--circumstances of age, occupation, manner of life,
prosperity which the Deceased had known, or adversity to which he had
been subject; and these ought to be bound together and solemnized into
one harmony by the general sympathy. The two powers should temper,
restrain, and exalt each other. The Reader ought to know who and what
the Man was whom he is called to think upon with interest. A distinct
conception should be given (implicitly where it can, rather than
explicitly) of the Individual lamented. But the Writer of an Epitaph
is not an Anatomist who dissects the internal frame of the mind; he is
not even a Painter who executes a portrait at leisure and in entire
tranquillity: his delineation, we must remember, is performed by the
side of the Grave; and, what is more, the grave of one whom he loves
and admires. What purity and brightness is that virtue clothed in, the
image of which must no longer bless our living eyes! The character of
a deceased Friend or beloved Kinsman is not seen, no--nor ought to be
seen, otherwise than as a Tree through a tender haze or a luminous
mist, that spiritualizes and beautifies it; that takes away indeed,
but only to the end that the parts which are not abstracted may appear
more dignified and lovely, may impress and affect the more. Shall we
say, then, that this is not truth, not a faithful image; and that
accordingly the purposes of commemoration cannot be answered?--It _is_
truth, and of the highest order! for, though doubtless things are not
apparent which did exist; yet, the object being looked at through this
medium, parts and proportions are brought into distinct view, which
before had been only imperfectly or unconsciously seen: it is truth
hallowed by love--the joint offspring of the worth of the Dead and the
affections of the Living?--This may easily be brought to the test. Let
one, whose eyes have been sharpened by personal hostility to discover
what was amiss in the character of a good man, hear the tidings of his
death, and what a change is wrought in a moment!--Enmity melts away;
and, as it disappears, unsightliness, disproportion, and deformity,
vanish; and, through the influence of commiseration, a harmony of love
and beauty succeeds. Bring such a Man to the Tombstone on which shall
be inscribed an Epitaph on his Adversary, composed in the spirit which
we have recommended. Would he turn from it as from an idle tale!
No--the thoughtful look, the sigh, and perhaps the involuntary tear,
would testify that it had a sane, a generous, and good meaning; and
that on the Writer's mind had remained an impression which was a true
abstract of the character of the deceased; that his gifts and graces
were remembered in the simplicity in which they ought to be
remembered. The composition and quality of the mind of a virtuous man,
contemplated by the side of the Grave where his body is mouldering,
ought to appear, and be felt as something midway between what he was
on Earth walking about with his living frailties, and what he may be
presumed to be as a Spirit in Heaven.

It suffices, therefore, that the Trunk and the main Branches of the
Worth of the Deceased be boldly and unaffectedly represented. Any
further detail, minutely and scrupulously pursued, especially if this
be done with laborious and antithetic discriminations, must inevitably
frustrate its own purpose; forcing the passing Spectator to this
conclusion,--either that the Dead did not possess the merits ascribed
to him, or that they who have raised a monument to his memory, and
must therefore be supposed to have been closely connected with him,
were incapable of perceiving those merits; or at least during the act
of composition had lost sight of them; for, the Understanding having
been so busy in its petty occupation, how could the heart of the
Mourner be other than cold? and in either of these cases, whether the
fault be on the part of the buried Person or the Survivors, the
Memorial is unaffecting and profitless.

Much better is it to fall short in discrimination than to pursue it
too far, or to labour it unfeelingly. For in no place are we so much
disposed to dwell upon those points, of nature and condition, wherein
all Men resemble each other, as in the Temple where the universal
Father is worshipped, or by the side of the Grave which gathers all
Human Beings to itself, and "equalizes the lofty and the low." We
suffer and we weep with the same heart; we love and are anxious for
one another in one spirit; our hopes look to the same quarter; and the
virtues by which we are all to be furthered and supported, as
patience, meekness, good-will, temperance, and temperate desires, are
in an equal degree the concern of us all. Let an Epitaph, then,
contain at least these acknowledgments to our common nature; nor let
the sense of their importance be sacrificed to a balance of opposite
qualities or minute distinctions in individual character; which if
they do not, (as will for the most part be the case) when examined,
resolve themselves into a trick of words, will, even when they are
true and just, for the most part be grievously out of place; for, as
it is probable that few only have explored these intricacies of human
nature, so can the tracing of them be interesting only to a few. But
an Epitaph is not a proud Writing shut up for the studious; it is
exposed to all, to the wise and the most ignorant; it is
condescending, perspicuous, and lovingly solicits regard; its story
and admonitions are brief, that the thoughtless, the busy, and
indolent, may not be deterred, nor the impatient tired; the stooping
old Man cons the engraven record like a second horn-book;--the Child
is proud that he can read it--and the Stranger is introduced by its
mediation to the company of a Friend: it is concerning all, and for
all:--in the Churchyard it is open to the day; the sun looks down upon
the stone, and the rains of Heaven beat against it.

Yet, though the Writer who would excite sympathy is bound in this case
more than in any other, to give proof that he himself has been moved,
it is to be remembered, that to raise a Monument is a sober and a
reflective act; that the inscription which it bears is intended to be
permanent, and for universal perusal; and that, for this reason, the
thoughts and feelings expressed should be permanent also--liberated
from that weakness and anguish of sorrow which is in nature
transitory, and which with instinctive decency retires from notice.
The passions should be subdued, the emotions controlled; strong
indeed, but nothing ungovernable or wholly involuntary. Seemliness
requires this, and truth requires it also: for how can the Narrator
otherwise be trusted? Moreover, a Grave is a tranquillizing object:
resignation in course of time springs up from it as naturally as the
wild flowers, besprinkling the turf with which it may be covered, or
gathering round the monument by which it is defended. The very form
and substance of the monument which has received the inscription, and
the appearance of the letters, testifying with what a slow and
laborious hand they must have been engraven, might seem to reproach
the Author who had given way upon this occasion to transports of mind,
or to quick turns of conflicting passion; though the same might
constitute the life and beauty of a funeral Oration or elegiac Poem.

These sensations and judgments, acted upon perhaps unconsciously, have
been one of the main causes why Epitaphs so often personate the
Deceased, and represent him as speaking from his own Tombstone. The
departed Mortal is introduced telling you himself that his pains are
gone; that a state of rest is come; and he conjures you to weep for
him no longer. He admonishes with the voice of one experienced in the
vanity of those affections which are confined to earthly objects, and
gives a verdict like a superior Being, performing the office of a
Judge, who has no temptations to mislead him, and whose decision
cannot but be dispassionate. Thus is Death disarmed of its sting, and
affliction unsubstantialized. By this tender fiction, the Survivors
bind themselves to a sedater sorrow, and employ the intervention of
the imagination in order that the reason may speak her own language
earlier than she would otherwise have been enabled to do. This shadowy
interposition also harmoniously unites the two worlds of the Living
and the Dead by their appropriate affections. And I may observe, that
here we have an additional proof of the propriety with which
sepulchral inscriptions were referred to the consciousness of
Immortality as their primal source.

I do not speak with a wish to recommend that an Epitaph should be cast
in this mould preferably to the still more common one, in which what
is said comes from the Survivors directly; but rather to point out how
natural those feelings are which have induced men, in all states and
ranks of Society, so frequently to adopt this mode. And this I have
done chiefly in order that the laws, which ought to govern the
composition of the other, may be better understood. This latter mode,
namely, that in which the Survivors speak in their own Persons, seems
to me upon the whole greatly preferable: as it admits a wider range of
notices; and, above all, because, excluding the fiction which is the
groundwork of the other, it rests upon a more solid basis.

Enough has been said to convey our notion of a perfect Epitaph; but it
must be observed that one is meant which will best answer the
_general_ ends of that species of composition. According to the course
pointed out, the worth of private life, through all varieties of
situation and character, will be most honourably and profitably
preserved in memory. Nor would the model recommended less suit public
Men, in all instances save of those persons who by the greatness of
their services in the employments of Peace or War, or by the
surpassing excellence of their works in Art, Literature, or Science,
have made themselves not only universally known, but have filled the
heart of their Country with everlasting gratitude. Yet I must here
pause to correct myself. In describing the general tenour of thought
which Epitaphs ought to hold, I have omitted to say, that, if it be
the _actions_ of a Man, or even some _one_ conspicuous or beneficial
act of local or general utility, which have distinguished him, and
excited a desire that he should be remembered, then, of course, ought
the attention to be directed chiefly to those actions or that act; and
such sentiments dwelt upon as naturally arise out of them or it.
Having made this necessary distinction, I proceed.--The mighty
benefactors of mankind, as they are not only known by the immediate
Survivors, but will continue to be known familiarly to latest
Posterity, do not stand in need of biographic sketches, in such a
place; nor of delineations of character to individualize them. This is
already done by their Works, in the Memories of Men. Their naked names
and a grand comprehensive sentiment of civic Gratitude, patriotic
Love, or human Admiration; or the utterance of some elementary
Principle most essential in the constitution of true Virtue; or an
intuition, communicated in adequate words, of the sublimity of
intellectual Power,--these are the only tribute which can here be
paid--the only offering that upon such an Altar would not be unworthy!

    What needs my Shakspeare for his honoured bones,
    The labour of an age in piled stones,
    Or that his hallowed reliques should be hid
    Under a starry-pointing pyramid?
    Dear Son of Memory, great Heir of Fame,
    What need'st thou such weak witness of thy name?
    Thou in our wonder and astonishment
    Hast built thyself a live-long Monument,
    And so sepulchred, in such pomp dost lie,
    That Kings for such a Tomb would wish to die.



When my father was in Broughton Place Church, we had a doorkeeper
called _Jeems_, and a formidable little man and doorkeeper he was; of
unknown age and name, for he existed to us, and indeed still exists to
me--though he has been in his grave these sixteen years--as _Jeems_,
absolute and _per se_, no more needing a surname than did or do
Abraham or Isaac, Samson or Nebuchadnezzar. We young people of the
congregation believed that he was out in the '45, and had his drum
shot through and quenched at Culloden; and as for any indication on
his huge and grey visage, of his ever having been young, he might
safely have been _Bottom_ the Weaver in _A Midsummer Night's Dream_,
or that excellent, ingenious, and "wise-hearted" Bezaleel, the son of
Uri, whom _Jeems_ regarded as one of the greatest of men and of
weavers, and whose "ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and
purple, and scarlet, each of them with fifty loops on the edge of the
selvedge in the coupling, with their fifty taches of gold," he, in
confidential moments, gave it to be understood were the sacred
triumphs of his craft; for, as you may infer, my friend was a man of
the treddles and the shuttle, as well as the more renowned grandson of

_Jeems's_ face was so extensive, and met you so formidably and at
once, that it mainly composed his whole; and such a face! Sydney Smith
used to say of a certain quarrelsome man, "His very face is a breach
of the peace." Had he seen our friend's, he would have said he was the
imperative mood on two (very small) legs, out on business in a blue
greatcoat. It was in the nose and the keen small eye that his strength
lay. Such a nose of power, so undeniable, I never saw, except in what
was said to be a bust from the antique, of Rhadamanthus, the
well-known Justice-Clerk of the Pagan Court of Session! Indeed, when I
was in the Rector's class, and watched _Jeems_ turning interlopers out
of the church seats, by merely presenting before them this tremendous
organ, it struck me that if Rhadamanthus had still been here, and out
of employment, he would have taken kindly to _Jeems's_ work,--and that
possibly he was that potentate in a U. P. disguise.

Nature having fashioned the huge face, and laid out much material and
idea upon it, had finished off the rest of _Jeems_ somewhat scrimply,
as if she had run out of means; his legs especially were of the
shortest, and, as his usual dress was a very long blue greatcoat, made
for a much taller man, its tails resting upon the ground, and its
large hind buttons in a totally preposterous position, gave him the
look of being planted, or rather after the manner of Milton's beasts
at the creation, in the act of emerging painfully from his mother

Now, you may think this was a very ludicrous old object. If you had
seen him, you would not have said so; and not only was he a man of
weight and authority,--he was likewise a genuine, indeed a deeply
spiritual Christian, well read in his Bible, in his own heart, and in
human nature and life, knowing both its warp and woof; more peremptory
in making himself obey his Master, than in getting himself obeyed, and
this is saying a good deal; and, like all complete men, he had a
genuine love and gift of humour,[42] kindly and uncouth, lurking in
those small, deep-set grey eyes, shrewd and keen, which, like two
sharpest of shooters, enfiladed that massive and redoubtable bulwark,
the nose.

[Footnote 42: On one occasion a descendant of Nabal having put a crown
piece into "the plate" instead of a penny, and staring at its white
and precious face, asked to have it back, and was refused--"In once,
in for ever." "A weel, a weel," grunted he, "I'll get credit for it in
heaven." "Na, na," said _Jeems_, "ye'll get credit only for the

One day two strangers made themselves over to _Jeems_ to be furnished
with seats. Motioning them to follow, he walked majestically to the
farthest in corner, where he had decreed they should sit. The couple
found seats near the door, and stepped into them, leaving _Jeems_ to
march through the passages alone, the whole congregation watching him
with some relish and alarm. He gets to his destination, opens the
door, and stands aside; nobody appears. He looks sharply round, and
then gives a look of general wrath "at lairge." No one doubted his
victory. His nose and eye fell, or seemed to fall, on the two
culprits, and pulled them out instantly, hurrying them to their
appointed place; _Jeems_ snibbed them slowly in, and gave them a
parting look they were not likely to misunderstand or forget.

At that time the crowds and the imperfect ventilation made fainting a
common occurrence in Broughton Place, especially among "_thae young
hizzies_," as _Jeems_ called the servant girls. He generally came to
me, "the young Doctor," on these occasions with a look of great
relish. I had indoctrinated him in the philosophy of _syncopes_,
especially as to the propriety of laying the "_hizzies_" quite flat on
the floor of the lobby, with the head as low as the rest of the body;
and as many of these cases were owing to what _Jeems_ called "that
bitter yerkin" of their boddices, he and I had much satisfaction in
relieving them, and giving them a moral lesson, by cutting their
stay-laces, which ran before the knife, and cracked "like a
bowstring," as my coadjutor said. One day a young lady was our care.
She was lying out, and slowly coming to. _Jeems_, with that huge
terrific visage, came round to me with his open _gully_ in his hand,
whispering, "Wull oo ripp 'er up noo?" It happened not to be a case
for ripping up. The gully was a great sanitary institution, and made a
decided inroad upon the _yerking_ system--_Jeems_ having, thanks to
this and Dr. Coombe, every year fewer opportunities of displaying and
enjoying its powers.

He was sober in other things besides drink, could be generous on
occasion, but was careful of his siller; sensitive to fierceness
("we're uncommon _zeelyous_ the day," was a favourite phrase when any
church matter was stirring) for the honour of his church and minister,
and to his too often worthless neighbours a perpetual moral protest
and lesson--a living epistle. He dwelt at the head of big Lochend's
Close in the Canongate, at the top of a long stair--ninety-six steps,
as I well know--where he had dwelt, all by himself, for
five-and-thirty years, and where, in the midst of all sorts of
flittings and changes, not a day opened or closed without the
well-known sound of _Jeems_ at his prayers,--his "exercise,"--at "the
Books." His clear, fearless, honest voice in psalm and chapter, and
strong prayer, came sounding through that wide "_land_," like that of
one crying in the wilderness.

_Jeems_ and I got great friends; he called me John, as if he was my
grandfather; and though as plain in speech as in feature, he was never
rude. I owe him much in many ways. His absolute downrightness and
_yaefauldness_; his energetic, unflinching fulfilment of his work; his
rugged, sudden tenderness; his look of sturdy age, as the thick
silver-white hair lay on his serious and weatherworn face, like
moonlight on a stout old tower; his quaint Old Testament exegetics,
his lonely and contented life, his simple godliness,--it was no small
privilege to see much of all this.

But I must stop. I forget that you didn't know him; that he is not
your _Jeems_. If it had been so, you would not soon have wearied of
telling or of being told of the life and conversation of this "fell
body." He was not communicative about his early life. He would
sometimes speak to me about "_her_," as if I knew who and where she
was, and always with a gentleness and solemnity unlike his usual gruff
ways. I found out that he had been married when young, and that "she"
(he never named her) and their child died on the same day,--the day of
its birth. The only indication of married life in his room, was an old
and strong cradle, which he had cut down so as to rock no more, and
which he made the depository of his books--a queer collection.

I have said that he had what he called, with a grave smile, _family_
worship, morning and evening, never failing. He not only sang his
psalm, but gave out or chanted _the line_ in great style; and on
seeing me one morning surprised at this, he said, "Ye see John, _oo_,"
meaning himself and his wife, "began that way." He had a firm, true
voice, and a genuine though roughish gift of singing, and being
methodical in all things, he did what I never heard of in any one
else,--he had seven fixed tunes, one of which he sang on its own set
day. Sabbath morning it was _French_, which he went through with great
_birr_. Monday, _Scarborough_, which, he said, was like my father
cantering. Tuesday, _Coleshill_, that soft exquisite air,--monotonous
and melancholy, soothing and vague, like the sea. This day, Tuesday,
was the day of the week on which his wife and child died, and he
always sang more verses then than on any other. Wednesday was _Irish_;
Thursday, _Old Hundred_; Friday, _Bangor_; and Saturday, _Blackburn_,
that humdrummest of tunes, "as long, and lank, and lean, as is the
ribbed sea-sand." He could not defend it, but had some secret reason
for sticking to it. As to the evenings, they were just the same tunes
in reversed order, only that on Tuesday night he sang _Coleshill_
again, thus dropping _Blackburn_ for evening work. The children could
tell the day of the week by _Jeems's_ tune, and would have been as
much astonished at hearing _Bangor_ on Monday, as at finding St.
Giles's half-way down the Canongate.

I frequently breakfasted with him. He made capital porridge, and I
wish I could get such butter-milk, or at least have such a relish for
it, as in those days. Jeems is away--gone over to the majority; and I
hope I may never forget to be grateful to the dear and queer old man.
I think I see and hear him saying his grace over our bickers with
their _brats_ on, then taking his two books out of the cradle and
reading, not without a certain homely majesty, the first verse of the
99th Psalm,

    "Th' eternal Lord doth reign as king,
      Let all the people quake;
    He sits between the cherubims,
      Let th' earth be mov'd and shake;"

then launching out into the noble depths of _Irish_. His chapters were
long, and his prayers short, very scriptural, but by no means
stereotyped, and wonderfully real, _immediate_, as if he was near Him
whom he addressed. Any one hearing the sound and not the words, would
say, "That man is speaking to some one who is with him--who is
present,"--as he often said to me, "There's nae glide dune, John, till
ye get to close _grups_."

Now, I dare say you are marvelling--_first_, Why I brought this grim,
old Rhadamanthus, Belzaleel, U. P. Naso of a doorkeeper up before you;
and _secondly_, How I am to get him down decorously in that ancient
blue greatcoat, and get at my own proper text.

And first of the _first_. I thought it would do you young men--the
hope of the world--no harm to let your affections go out toward this
dear, old-world specimen of homespun worth. And as to the _second_, I
am going to make it my excuse for what is to come. One day soon after
I knew him, when I thought he was in a soft, confidential mood, I
said: "_Jeems_, what kind of weaver are you?" "_I'm in the fancical
line_, maister John," said he somewhat stiffly; "I like its
_leecence_." So _exit Jeems_--_impiger, iracundus, acer--torvus
visu--placide quiescat_!

Now, my dear friends, I am in the _fancical_ line as well as _Jeems_,
and in virtue of my _leecence_, I begin my exegetical remarks on the
pursuit of truth. By the bye, I should have told Sir Henry that it was
truth, not knowledge, I was to be after. Now all knowledge should be
true, but it isn't; much of what is called knowledge is very little
worth even when true, and much of the best truth is not in a strict
sense knowable,--rather it is felt and believed.

Exegetical, you know, is the grand and fashionable word now-a-days for
explanatory; it means bringing out of a passage all that is in it, and
nothing more. For my part, being in _Jeems's_ line, I am not so
particular as to the nothing more. We _fancical_ men are much given to
make somethings of nothings; indeed, the noble Italians, call
imagination and poetic fancy _the little more_; its very function is
to embellish and intensify the actual and the common. Now you must not
laugh at me, or it, when I announce the passage from which I mean to
preach upon the pursuit of truth, and the possession of wisdom:--

    "On Tintock tap there is a Mist,
    And in the Mist there is a Kist,
    And in the Kist there is a Cap;
    Tak' up the Cap and sup the drap,
    And set the Cap on Tintock tap."

And as to what Sir Henry[43] would call the context, we are saved all
trouble, there being none, the passage being self-contained, and as
destitute of relations as Melchisedec.

[Footnote 43: This was read to Sir Henry W. Moncreiff's Young Men's
Association, November 1862.]

_Tintock_, you all know, or should know, is a big porphyritic hill in
Lanarkshire, standing alone, and dominating like a king over the Upper
Ward. Then we all understand what a _mist_ is; and it is worth
remembering that as it is more difficult to penetrate, to illuminate,
and to see through mist than darkness, so it is easier to enlighten
and overcome ignorance, than error, confusion, and mental mist. Then a
_kist_ is Scotch for chest, and a _cap_ the same for _cup_, and _drap_
for drop. Well, then, I draw out of these queer old lines--

_First_, That to gain real knowledge, to get it at firsthand, you must
go up the Hill Difficulty--some Tintock, something you see from
afar--and you must _climb_; you must energize, as Sir William Hamilton
and Dr. Chalmers said and did; you must turn your back upon the plain,
and you must mainly go alone, and on your own legs. Two boys may start
together on going up Tinto, and meet at the top; but the journeys are
separate, each takes his own line.

_Secondly_, You start for your Tintock top with a given object, to get
into the mist and get the drop, and you do this chiefly because you
have the truth-hunting instinct; you long to know what is hidden
there, for there is a wild and urgent charm in the unknown; and you
want to realize for yourself what others, it may have been ages ago,
tell they have found there.

_Thirdly_, There is no road up; no omnibus to the top of Tinto; you
must zigzag it in your own way, and as I have already said, most part
of it alone.

_Fourthly_, This climbing, this exaltation, and buckling to of the
mind, of itself does you good;[44] it is capital exercise, and you
find out many a thing by the way. Your lungs play freely; your mouth
fills with the sweet waters of keen action; the hill tries your wind
and mettle, supples and hardens your joints and limbs; quickens and
rejoices, while it tests your heart.

[Footnote 44: "In this pursuit, whether we take or whether we lose our
game, the chase is certainly of service."--BURKE.]

_Fifthly_, You have many a fall, many a false step; you slip back, you
tumble into a _moss-hagg_; you stumble over the baffling stones; you
break your shins and lose your temper, and the finding of it makes you
keep it better the next time; you get more patient, and yet more
eager, and not unoften you come to a stand-still; run yourself up
against, or to the edge of, some impossible precipice, some insoluble
problem, and have to turn for your life; and you may find yourself
over head in a treacherous _wellee_, whose soft inviting cushion of
green has decoyed many a one before you.

_Sixthly_, You are for ever mistaking the top; thinking you are at it,
when, behold! there it is, as if farther off than ever, and you may
have to humble yourself in a hidden valley before reascending; and so
on you go, at times flinging yourself down on the elastic heather,
stretched panting with your face to the sky, or gazing far away
athwart the widening horizon.

_Seventhly_, As you get up, you may see how the world below lessens
and reveals itself, comes up to you as a whole, with its just
proportions and relations; how small the village you live in looks,
and the house in which you were born; how the plan of the place comes
out; there is the quiet churchyard, and a lamb is nibbling at that
infant's grave; there, close to the little church, your mother rests
till the great day; and there far off you may trace the river winding
through the plain, coming like human life, from darkness to
darkness,--from its source in some wild, upland solitude to its
eternity, the sea. But you have rested long enough, so, up and away!
take the hill once again! Every effort is a victory and joy--new skill
and power and relish--takes you farther from the world below, nearer
the clouds and heavens; and you may note that the more you move up
towards the pure blue depths of the sky--the more lucid and the more
unsearchable--the farther off, the more withdrawn into their own clear
infinity do they seem. Well, then, you get to the upper story, and you
find it less difficult, less steep than lower down; often so plain and
level that you can run off in an ecstasy to the crowning cairn, to the
sacred mist--within whose cloudy shrine rests the unknown secret; some
great truth of God and of your own soul; something that is not to be
gotten for gold down on the plain, but may be taken here; something
that no man can give or take away; something that you must work for
and learn yourself, and which, once yours, is safe beyond the chances
of time.

_Eighthly_, You enter that luminous cloud, stooping and as a little
child--as, indeed, all the best kingdoms are entered--and pressing on,
you come in the shadowy light to the long-dreamt-of ark,--the chest.
It is shut, it is locked; but if you are the man I take you to be, you
have the key, put it gently in, steadily, and home. But what is the
key? It is the love of truth; neither more nor less; no other key
opens it; no false one, however cunning, can pick that lock; no
assault of hammer, however stout, can force it open. But with its own
key a little child may open it, often does open it, it goes so
sweetly, so with a will. You lift the lid; you are all alone; the
cloud is round you with a sort of tender light of its own, shutting
out the outer world, filling you with an _eerie_ joy, as if alone and
yet not alone. You see the cup within, and in it the one crystalline,
unimaginable, inestimable drop; glowing and tremulous, as if alive.
You take up the cup, you sup the drop; it enters into, and becomes of
the essence of yourself; and so, in humble gratitude and love, "in
sober certainty of waking bliss," you gently replace the cup. It will
gather again,--it is for ever gathering; no man, woman, or child ever
opened that chest, and found no drop in the cup. It might not be the
very drop expected; it will serve their purpose none the worse, often
much the better.

And now, bending down, you shut the lid, which you hear locking itself
afresh against all but the sacred key. You leave the now hallowed
mist. You look out on the old familiar world again, which somehow
looks both new and old. You descend, making your observations over
again, throwing the light of the present on the past; and past and
present set against the boundless future. You hear coming up to you
the homely sounds--the sheepdog's bark, "the cock's shrill
clarion"--from the farm at the hill-foot; you hear the ring of the
blacksmith's _study_, you see the smoke of his forge; your mother's
grave has the long shadows of evening lying across it, the sunlight
falling on the letters of her name, and on the number of her years;
the lamb is asleep in the bield of the infant's grave. Speedily you
are at your own door. You enter with wearied feet, and thankful heart;
you shut the door, and you kneel down and pray to your Father in
heaven, the Father of lights, your reconciled Father, the God and
Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and our God and Father in
and through him. And as you lie down on your own delightful bed,
before you fall asleep, you think over again your ascent of the Hill
Difficulty,--its baffling heights, its reaches of dreary moorland, its
shifting gravel, its precipices, its quagmires, its little wells of
living waters near the top, and all its "dread magnificence;" its
calm, restful summit, the hush of silence there, the all-aloneness of
the place and hour; its peace, its sacredness, its divineness. You see
again the mist, the ark, the cup, the gleaming drop, and recalling the
sight of the world below, the earth and all its fulness, you say to

    "These are thy glorious works, Parent of good,
    Almighty, thine this universal frame,
    Thus wondrous fair; Thyself how wondrous then!
    Unspeakable, who sitt'st above these heavens."

And finding the burden too heavy even for these glorious lines, you
take refuge in the Psalms--

    "Praise ye the Lord.
    Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise him in the heights.
    Praise him in the firmament of his power.
    Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.
    Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light.
    Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps;
    Fire and hail; snow and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word:
    Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars;
    Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl:
    Kings of the earth, and all people; princes and all judges of the
    Both young men and maidens; old men and children:
    Let them praise the name of the Lord:
    For his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and
    Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.
    Bless the Lord, O my soul!"

I need hardly draw the moral of this, our somewhat _fancical_
exercitation and exegesis. You can all make it out, such as it is. It
is the toil, and the joy, and the victory in the search of truth; not
the taking on trust, or learning by rote, not by heart, what other men
count or call true; but the vital appropriation, the assimilation of
truth to ourselves, and of ourselves to truth. All truth is of value,
but one truth differs from another in weight and in brightness, in
worth; and you need not me to tell you that spiritual and eternal
truth, the truth as it is in Jesus, is the best. And don't think that
your own hand has gotten you the victory, and that you had no unseen,
and it may be unfelt and unacknowledged hand guiding you up the hill.
Unless the Lord had been at and on your side, all your labour would
have been in vain, and worse. No two things are more inscrutable or
less uncertain than man's spontaneity and man's helplessness,--Freedom
and Grace as the two poles. It is His doing that you are led to the
right hill and the right road, for there are other Tintocks, with
other kists, and other drops. Work out, therefore, your own knowledge
with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you both to
will and to do, and to know of His good pleasure. There is no
explaining and there is no disbelieving this.

And now, before bidding you good-bye, did you ever think of the
spiritual meaning of the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of
fire by night, as connected with our knowledge and our ignorance, our
light and darkness, our gladness and our sorrow? The everyday use of
this divine alternation to the wandering children of Israel, is plain
enough. Darkness is best seen against light, and light against
darkness; and its use, in a deeper sense of keeping for ever before
them the immediate presence of God in the midst of them, is not less
plain; but I sometimes think, that we who also are still in the
wilderness, and coming up from our Egypt and its fleshpots, and on our
way let us hope, through God's grace, to the celestial Canaan, may
draw from these old-world signs and wonders, that, in the mid-day of
knowledge, with daylight all about us, there is, if one could but look
for it, that perpetual pillar of cloud--that sacred darkness which
haunts all human knowledge, often the most at its highest noon; that
"look that threatens the profane;" that something, and above all, that
sense of _Some One_,--that Holy One, who inhabits eternity and its
praises, who makes darkness His secret place, His pavilion round
about, darkness and thick clouds of the sky.

And again, that in the deepest, thickest night of doubt, of fear, of
sorrow, of despair; that then, and all the most then--if we will but
look in the right _airt_, and with the seeing eye and the
understanding heart--there may be seen that Pillar of fire, of light
and of heat, to guide and quicken and cheer; knowledge and love, that
everlasting love which we know to be the Lord's. And how much better
off are we than the chosen people; their pillars were on earth, divine
in their essence, but subject doubtless to earthly perturbations and
interferences; but our guiding light is in the heavens, towards which
we take earnest heed that we are journeying.

    "Once on the raging seas I rode,
      The storm was loud, the night was dark;
    The ocean yawned, and rudely blowed
      The wind that toss'd my foundering bark.

    Deep horror then my vitals froze,
      Death-struck, I ceased the tide to stem,
    When suddenly a star arose,
      It was the Star of Bethlehem!

    It was my guide, my light, my all,
      It bade my dark foreboding cease;
    And through the storm and danger's thrall
      It led me to the port in peace.

    Now safely moored, my perils o'er,
      I'll sing first in night's diadem,
    For ever and for evermore
      The Star, the Star of Bethlehem!"

    _John Brown._


Life and the world, or whatever we call that which we are and feel, is
an astonishing thing. The mist of familiarity obscures from us the
wonder of our being. We are struck with admiration at some of its
transient modifications, but it is itself the great miracle. What are
changes of empires, the wreck of dynasties, with the opinions which
supported them; what is the birth and the extinction of religious and
of political systems to life? What are the revolutions of the globe
which we inhabit, and the operations of the elements of which it is
composed, compared with life? What is the universe of stars, and suns,
of which this inhabited earth is one, and their motions, and their
destiny, compared with life? Life, the great miracle, we admire not,
because it is so miraculous. It is well that we are thus shielded by
the familiarity of what is at once so certain and so unfathomable,
from an astonishment which would otherwise absorb and overawe the
functions of that which is its object.

If any artist, I do not say had executed, but had merely conceived in
his mind the system of the sun, and the stars, and planets, they not
existing, and had painted to us in words, or upon canvas, the
spectacle now afforded by the nightly cope of heaven, and illustrated
it by the wisdom of astronomy, great would be our admiration. Or had
he imagined the scenery of this earth, the mountains, the seas, and
the rivers; the grass, and the flowers, and the variety of the forms
and masses of the leaves of the woods, and the colours which attend
the setting and the rising sun, and the hues of the atmosphere, turbid
or serene, these things not before existing, truly we should have been
astonished, and it would not have been a vain boast to have said of
such a man, "Non merita nome di creatore, se non Iddio ed il Poeta."
But now these things are looked on with little wonder, and to be
conscious of them with intense delight is esteemed to be the
distinguishing mark of a refined and extraordinary person. The
multitude of men care not for them. It is thus with Life--that which
includes all.

What is life? Thoughts and feelings arise, with or without our will,
and we employ words to express them. We are born, and our birth is
unremembered, and our infancy remembered but in fragments; we live on,
and in living we lose the apprehension of life. How vain is it to
think that words can penetrate the mystery of our being! Rightly used
they may make evident our ignorance to ourselves, and this is much.
For what are we? Whence do we come? and whither do we go? Is birth the
commencement, is death the conclusion of our being? What is birth and

The most refined abstractions of logic conduct to a view of life,
which, though startling to the apprehension, is, in fact, that which
the habitual sense of its repeated combinations has extinguished in
us. It strips, as it were, the painted curtain from this scene of
things. I confess that I am one of those who am unable to refuse my
assent to the conclusions of those philosophers who assert that
nothing exists but as it is perceived.

It is a decision against which all our persuasions struggle, and we
must be long convicted before we can be convinced that the solid
universe of external things is "such stuff as dreams are made of." The
shocking absurdities of the popular philosophy of mind and matter, its
fatal consequences in morals, and their violent dogmatism concerning
the source of all things, had early conducted me to materialism. This
materialism is a seducing system to young and superficial minds. It
allows its disciples to talk, and dispenses them from thinking. But I
was discontented with such a view of things as it afforded; man is a
being of high aspirations, "looking both before and after," whose
"thoughts wander through eternity," disclaiming alliance with
transience and decay; incapable of imagining to himself annihilation;
existing but in the future and the past; being, not what he is, but
what he has been and shall be. Whatever may be his true and final
destination, there is a spirit within him at enmity with nothingness
and dissolution. This is the character of all life and being. Each is
at once the centre and the circumference; the point to which all
things are referred, and the line in which all things are contained.
Such contemplations as these, materialism and the popular philosophy
of mind and matter alike forbid; they are only consistent with the
intellectual system.

It is absurd to enter into a long recapitulation of arguments
sufficiently familiar to those inquiring minds, whom alone a writer on
abstruse subjects can be conceived to address. Perhaps the most clear
and vigorous statement of the intellectual system is to be found in
Sir William Drummond's Academical Questions. After such an exposition,
it would be idle to translate into other words what could only lose
its energy and fitness by the change. Examined point by point, and
word by word, the most discriminating intellects have been able to
discern no train of thoughts in the process of reasoning, which does
not conduct inevitably to the conclusion which has been stated.

What follows from the admission? It establishes no new truth, it gives
us no additional insight into our hidden nature, neither its action
nor itself. Philosophy, impatient as it may be to build, has much work
yet remaining, as pioneer for the overgrowth of ages. It makes one
step towards this object; it destroys error, and the roots of error.
It leaves, what it is too often the duty of the reformer in political
and ethical questions to leave, a vacancy. It reduces the mind to that
freedom in which it would have acted, but for the misuse of words and
signs, the instruments of its own creation. By signs, I would be
understood in a wide sense, including what is properly meant by that
term, and what I peculiarly mean. In this latter sense, almost all
familiar objects are signs, standing, not for themselves, but for
others in their capacity of suggesting one thought which shall lead to
a train of thoughts. Our whole life is thus an education of error.

Let us recollect our sensations as children. What a distinct and
intense apprehension had we of the world and of ourselves! Many of the
circumstances of social life were then important to us which are now
no longer so. But that is not the point of comparison on which I mean
to insist. We less habitually distinguished all that we saw and felt,
from ourselves. They seemed as it were to constitute one mass. There
are some persons who, in this respect, are always children. Those who
are subject to the state called reverie, feel as if their nature were
dissolved into the surrounding universe, or as if the surrounding
universe were absorbed into their being. They are conscious of no
distinction. And these are states which precede, or accompany, or
follow an unusually intense and vivid apprehension of life. As men
grow up this power commonly decays, and they become mechanical and
habitual agents. Thus feelings and then reasonings are the combined
result of a multitude of entangled thoughts, and of a series of what
are called impressions, planted by reiteration.

The view of life presented by the most refined deductions of the
intellectual philosophy, is that of unity. Nothing exists but as it is
perceived. The difference is merely nominal between those two classes
of thought, which are vulgarly distinguished by the names of ideas and
of external objects. Pursuing the same thread of reasoning, the
existence of distinct individual minds, similar to that which is
employed in now questioning its own nature, is likewise found to be a
delusion. The words _I_, _you_, _they_, are not signs of any actual
difference subsisting between the assemblage of thoughts thus
indicated, but are merely marks employed to denote the different
modifications of the one mind.

Let it not be supposed that this doctrine conducts to the monstrous
presumption that I, the person who now write and think, am that one
mind. I am but a portion of it. The words _I_, and _you_, and _they_
are grammatical devices invented simply for arrangement, and totally
devoid of the intense and exclusive sense usually attached to them. It
is difficult to find terms adequate to express so subtle a conception
as that to which the Intellectual Philosophy has conducted us. We are
on that verge where words abandon us, and what wonder if we grow dizzy
to look down the dark abyss of how little we know.

The relations of _things_ remain unchanged, by whatever system. By the
word _things_ is to be understood any object of thought, that is any
thought upon which any other thought is employed, with an apprehension
of distinction. The relations of these remain unchanged; and such is
the material of our knowledge.

What is the cause of life? that is, how was it produced, or what
agencies distinct from life have acted or act upon life? All recorded
generations of mankind have wearily busied themselves in inventing
answers to this question; and the result has been,--Religion. Yet,
that the basis of all things cannot be, as the popular philosophy
alleges, mind, is sufficiently evident. Mind, as far as we have any
experience of its properties, and beyond that experience how vain is
argument! cannot create, it can only perceive. It is said also to be
the cause. But cause is only a word expressing a certain state of the
human mind with regard to the manner in which two thoughts are
apprehended to be related to each other. If any one desires to know
how unsatisfactorily the popular philosophy employs itself upon this
great question, they need only impartially reflect upon the manner in
which thoughts develop themselves in their minds. It is infinitely
improbable that the cause of mind, that is, of existence, is similar
to mind.



Mr. Stewart the traveller, commonly called "Walking Stewart," was a
man of very extraordinary genius. He has generally been treated by
those who have spoken of him in print as a madman. But this is a
mistake; and must have been founded chiefly on the titles of his
books. He was a man of fervid mind and of sublime aspirations; but he
was no madman; or, if he was, then I say that it is so far desirable
to be a madman. In 1798 or 1799, when I must have been about thirteen
years old, Walking Stewart was in Bath--where my family at that time
resided. He frequented the pump-room, and I believe all public
places--walking up and down, and dispersing his philosophic opinions
to the right and the left, like a Grecian philosopher. The first time
I saw him was at a concert in the Upper Rooms; he was pointed out to
me by one of my party as a very eccentric man who had walked over the
habitable globe. I remember that Madame Mara was at that moment
singing; and Walking Stewart, who was a true lover of music (as I
afterwards came to know), was hanging upon her notes like a bee upon a
jessamine flower. His countenance was striking, and expressed the
union of benignity with philosophic habits of thought. In such health
had his pedestrian exercises preserved him, connected with his
abstemious mode of living, that though he must at that time have been
considerably above forty, he did not look older than twenty-eight; at
least the face which remained upon my recollection for some years was
that of a young man. Nearly ten years afterwards I became acquainted
with him. During the interval I had picked up one of his works in
Bristol,--viz. his _Travels to discover the Source of Moral Motion_,
the second volume of which is entitled _The Apocalypse of Nature_. I
had been greatly impressed by the sound and original views which in
the first volume he had taken of the national characters throughout
Europe. In particular he was the first, and so far as I know the only
writer who had noticed the profound error of ascribing a phlegmatic
character to the English nation. "English phlegm" is the constant
expression of authors when contrasting the English with the French.
Now the truth is, that, beyond that of all other nations, it has a
substratum of profound passion; and, if we are to recur to the old
doctrine of temperaments, the English character must be classed not
under the _phlegmatic_ but under the _melancholic_ temperament; and
the French under the _sanguine_. The character of a nation may be
judged of in this particular by examining its idiomatic language. The
French, in whom the lower forms of passion are constantly bubbling up
from the shallow and superficial character of their feelings, have
appropriated all the phrases of passion to the service of trivial and
ordinary life; and hence they have no language of passion for the
service of poetry or of occasions really demanding it; for it has been
already enfeebled by continual association with cases of an
unimpassioned order. But a character of deeper passion has a perpetual
standard in itself, by which as by an instinct it tries all cases, and
rejects the language of passion as disproportionate and ludicrous
where it is not fully justified. "Ah Heavens!" or "Oh my God!" are
exclamations with us so exclusively reserved for cases of profound
interest,--that on hearing a woman even (_i.e._ a person of the sex
most easily excited) utter such words, we look round expecting to see
her child in some situation of danger. But, in France, "Ciel!" and "Oh
mon Dieu!" are uttered by every woman if a mouse does but run across
the floor. The ignorant and the thoughtless however will continue to
class the English character under the phlegmatic temperament, whilst
the philosopher will perceive that it is the exact polar antithesis to
a phlegmatic character. In this conclusion, though otherwise expressed
and illustrated, Walking Stewart's view of the English character will
be found to terminate; and his opinion is especially valuable--first
and chiefly, because he was a philosopher; secondly, because his
acquaintance with man civilized and uncivilized, under all national
distinctions, was absolutely unrivalled. Meantime, this and others of
his opinions were expressed in language that if literally construed
would often appear insane or absurd. The truth is, his long
intercourse with foreign nations had given something of a hybrid
tincture to his diction; in some of his works for instance he uses the
French word _hélas!_ uniformly for the English _alas!_ and apparently
with no consciousness of his mistake. He had also this singularity
about him--that he was everlastingly metaphysicizing against
metaphysics. To me, who was buried in metaphysical reveries from my
earliest days, this was not likely to be an attraction; any more than
the vicious structure of his diction was likely to please my
scholarlike taste. All grounds of disgust, however, gave way before my
sense of his powerful merits; and, as I have said, I sought his
acquaintance. Coming up to London from Oxford about 1807 or 1808 I
made enquiries about him; and found that he usually read the papers at
a coffee-room in Piccadilly; understanding that he was poor, it struck
me that he might not wish to receive visits at his lodgings, and
therefore I sought him at the coffee-room. Here I took the liberty of
introducing myself to him. He received me courteously, and invited me
to his rooms--which at that time were in Sherrard-street,
Golden-square--a street already memorable to me. I was much struck
with the eloquence of his conversation; and afterwards I found that
Mr. Wordsworth, himself the most eloquent of men in conversation, had
been equally struck when he had met him at Paris between the years
1790 and 1792, during the early storms of the French revolution. In
Sherrard-street I visited him repeatedly, and took notes of the
conversations I had with him on various subjects. These I must have
somewhere or other; and I wish I could introduce them here, as they
would interest the reader. Occasionally in these conversations, as in
his books, he introduced a few notices of his private history; in
particular I remember his telling me that in the East Indies he had
been a prisoner of Hyder's; that he had escaped with some difficulty;
and that, in the service of one of the native princes as secretary or
interpreter, he had accumulated a small fortune. This must have been
too small, I fear, at that time to allow him even a philosopher's
comforts; for some part of it, invested in the French funds, had been
confiscated. I was grieved to see a man of so much ability, of
gentlemanly manners, and refined habits, and with the infirmity of
deafness, suffering under such obvious privations; and I once took the
liberty, on a fit occasion presenting itself, of requesting that he
would allow me to send him some books which he had been casually
regretting that he did not possess; for I was at that time in the
hey-day of my worldly prosperity. This offer, however, he declined
with firmness and dignity, though not unkindly. And I now mention it,
because I have seen him charged in print with a selfish regard to his
own pecuniary interest. On the contrary, he appeared to me a very
liberal and generous man; and I well remember that, whilst he refused
to accept of anything from me, he compelled me to receive as presents
all the books which he published during my acquaintance with him; two
of these, corrected with his own hand, viz. the _Lyre of Apollo_ and
the _Sophiometer_, I have lately found amongst other books left in
London; and others he forwarded to me in Westmoreland. In 1809 I saw
him often; in the Spring of that year, I happened to be in London; and
Mr. Wordsworth's tract on the Convention of Cintra being at that time
in the printer's hands, I superintended the publication of it; and, at
Mr. Wordsworth's request, I added a long note on Spanish affairs which
is printed in the Appendix. The opinions I expressed in this note on
the Spanish character at that time much calumniated, on the retreat to
Corunna then fresh in the public mind, above all, the contempt I
expressed for the superstition in respect to the French military
prowess which was then universal and at its height, and which gave way
in fact only to the campaigns of 1814 and 1815, fell in, as it
happened, with Mr. Stewart's political creed in those points where at
that time it met with most opposition. In 1812 it was I think that I
saw him for the last time; and by the way, on the day of my parting
with him, had an amusing proof in my own experience of that sort of
ubiquity ascribed to him by a witty writer in the London Magazine: I
met him and shook hands with him under Somerset-house, telling him
that I should leave town that evening for Westmoreland. Thence I went
by the very shortest road (_i.e._ through Moor-street, Soho--for I am
learned in many quarters of London) towards a point which necessarily
led me through Tottenham-court-road; I stopped nowhere, and walked
fast; yet so it was that in Tottenham-court-road I was not overtaken
by (_that_ was comprehensible), but overtook Walking Stewart.
Certainly, as the above writer alleges, there must have been three
Walking Stewarts in London. He seemed no ways surprised at this
himself, but explained to me that somewhere or other in the
neighbourhood of Tottenham-court-road there was a little theatre, at
which there was dancing and occasionally good singing, between which
and a neighbouring coffee-house he sometimes divided his evenings.
Singing, it seems, he could hear in spite of his deafness. In this
street I took my final leave of him; it turned out such; and,
anticipating at the time that it would be so, I looked after his white
hat at the moment it was disappearing, and exclaimed--"Farewell, thou
half-crazy and most eloquent man! I shall never see thy face again." I
did not intend, at that moment, to visit London again for some years;
as it happened, I was there for a short time in 1814; and then I
heard, to my great satisfaction that Walking Stewart had recovered a
considerable sum (about £14,000 I believe) from the East India
Company; and from the abstract given in the London Magazine of the
Memoir by his relation I have since learned that he applied this money
most wisely to the purchase of an annuity, and that he "persisted in
living" too long for the peace of an annuity office. So fare all
companies East and West, and all annuity offices, that stand opposed
in interest to philosophers! In 1814, however, to my great regret, I
did not see him; for I was then taking a great deal of opium, and
never could contrive to issue to the light of day soon enough for a
morning call upon a philosopher of such early hours; and in the
evening I concluded he would be generally abroad, from what he had
formerly communicated to me of his own habits. It seems, however, that
he afterwards held _converzations_ at his own rooms; and did not stir
out to theatres quite so much. From a brother of mine, who at one time
occupied rooms in the same house with him, I learned that in other
respects he did not deviate in his prosperity from the philosophic
tenor of his former life. He abated nothing of his peripatetic
exercises; and repaired duly in the morning, as he had done in former
years, to St. James's Park,--where he sate in contemplative ease
amongst the cows, inhaling their balmy breath and pursuing his
philosophic reveries. He had also purchased an organ, or more than
one, with which he solaced his solitude and beguiled himself of uneasy
thoughts, if he ever had any.

The works of Walking Stewart must be read with some indulgence; the
titles are generally too lofty and pretending and somewhat
extravagant; the composition is lax and unprecise, as I have before
said; and the doctrines are occasionally very bold, incautiously
stated, and too hardy and high-toned for the nervous effeminacy of
many modern moralists. But Walking Stewart was a man who thought nobly
of human nature; he wrote therefore at times in the spirit and with
the indignation of an ancient prophet against the oppressors and
destroyers of the time. In particular I remember that in one or more
of the pamphlets which I received from him at Grasmere he expressed
himself in such terms on the subject of Tyrannicide (distinguishing
the cases in which it was and was not lawful) as seemed to Mr.
Wordsworth and myself every way worthy of a philosopher; but, from the
way in which that subject was treated in the House of Commons, where
it was at that time occasionally introduced, it was plain that his
doctrine was not fitted for the luxuries and relaxed morals of the
age. Like all men who think nobly of human nature, Walking Stewart
thought of it hopefully. In some respects his hopes were wisely
grounded; in others they rested too much upon certain metaphysical
speculations which are untenable, and which satisfied himself only
because his researches in that track had been purely self-originated
and self-disciplined. He relied upon his own native strength of mind;
but in questions, which the wisdom and philosophy of every age
building successively upon each other have not been able to settle, no
mind however strong is entitled to build wholly upon itself. In many
things he shocked the religious sense--especially as it exists in
unphilosophic minds: he held a sort of rude and unscientific
Spinosism; and he expressed it coarsely and in the way most likely to
give offence. And indeed there can be no stronger proof of the utter
obscurity in which his works have slumbered than that they should all
have escaped prosecution. He also allowed himself to look too lightly
and indulgently on the afflicting spectacle of female prostitution as
it exists in London and in all great cities. This was the only point
on which I was disposed to quarrel with him; for I could not but view
it as a greater reproach to human nature than the slave-trade or any
sight of wretchedness that the sun looks down upon. I often told him
so; and that I was at a loss to guess how a philosopher could allow
himself to view it simply as part of the equipage of civil life, and
as reasonably making part of the establishment and furniture of a
great city as police-offices, lamplighting, or newspapers. Waiving,
however, this one instance of something like compliance with the
brutal spirit of the world, on all other subjects he was eminently
unworldly, child-like, simple-minded, and upright. He would flatter no
man; even when addressing nations, it is almost laughable to see how
invariably he prefaces his counsels with such plain truths uttered in
a manner so offensive as must have defeated his purpose if it had
otherwise any chance of being accomplished. For instance, in
addressing America, he begins thus: "People of America! since your
separation from the mother-country your moral character has
degenerated in the energy of thought and sense; produced by the
absence of your association and intercourse with British officers and
merchants; you have no moral discernment to distinguish between the
protective power of England and the destructive power of France." And
his letter to the Irish nation opens in this agreeable and
conciliatory manner--"People of Ireland! I address you as a true
philosopher of nature, foreseeing the perpetual misery your
irreflective character and total absence of moral discernment are
preparing for," &c. The second sentence begins thus:--"You are
sacrilegiously arresting the arm of your parent kingdom fighting the
cause of man and nature, when the triumph of the fiend of French
police terror would be your own instant extirpation." And the letter
closes thus:--"I see but one awful alternative--that Ireland will be a
perpetual moral volcano, threatening the destruction of the world, if
the education and instruction of thought and sense shall not be able
to generate the faculty of moral discernment among a very numerous
class of the population, who detest the civic calm as sailors the
natural calm--and make civic rights on which they cannot reason a
pretext for feuds which they delight in." As he spoke freely and
boldly to others, so he spoke loftily of himself; at p. 313 of "The
Harp of Apollo," on making a comparison of himself with Socrates (in
which he naturally gives the preference to himself,) he styles "The
Harp," &c., "this unparalleled work of human energy." At p. 315, he
calls it "this stupendous work;" and lower down on the same page he
says--"I was turned out of school at the age of fifteen for a dunce or
blockhead, because I would not stuff into my memory all the nonsense
of erudition and learning; and if future ages should discover the
unparalleled energies of genius in this work, it will prove my most
important doctrine--that the powers of the human mind must be
developed in the education of thought and sense in the study of moral
opinion, not arts and science." Again, at p. 225 of his Sophiometer,
he says:--"The paramount thought that dwells in my mind incessantly is
a question I put to myself--whether, in the event of my personal
dissolution by death, I have communicated all the discoveries my
unique mind possesses in the great master-science of man and nature."
In the next page he determines that he _has_, with the exception of
one truth,--viz. "the latent energy, physical and moral, of human
nature as existing in the British people." But here he was surely
accusing himself without ground; for to my knowledge he has not failed
in any one of his numerous works to insist upon this theme at least a
billion of times. Another instance of his magnificent self-estimation
is--that in the title pages of several of his works he announces
himself as "John Stewart, the only man of nature[45] that ever
appeared in the world."

[Footnote 45: In Bath he was surnamed "the Child of Nature;"--which
arose from his contrasting on every occasion the existing man of our
present experience with the ideal or Stewartian man that might be
expected to emerge in some myriads of ages, to which latter man he
gave the name of the Child of Nature.]

By this time I am afraid the reader begins to suspect that he was
crazy; and certainly, when I consider every thing, he must have been
crazy when the wind was at N.N.E.; for who but Walking Stewart ever
dated his books by a computation drawn--not from the creation, not
from the flood, not from Nabonassar, or _ab urbe conditâ_, not from
the Hegira--but from themselves, from their own day of publication, as
constituting the one great æra in the history of man by the side of
which all other æras were frivolous and impertinent? Thus, in a work
of his given to me in 1812 and probably published in that year, I find
him incidentally recording of himself that he was at that time
"arrived at the age of sixty-three, with a firm state of health
acquired by temperance, and a peace of mind almost independent of the
vices of mankind--because my knowledge of life has enabled me to place
my happiness beyond the reach or contact of other men's follies and
passions, by avoiding all family connexions and all ambitious pursuits
of profit, fame, or power." On reading this passage I was anxious to
ascertain its date; but this, on turning to the title-page, I found
thus mysteriously expressed: "In the 7000th year of Astronomical
History, and the first day of Intellectual Life or Moral World, from
the æra of this work." Another slight indication of craziness appeared
in a notion which obstinately haunted his mind that all the kings and
rulers of the earth would confederate in every age against his works,
and would hunt them out for extermination as keenly as Herod did the
innocents in Bethlehem. On this consideration, fearing that they might
be intercepted by the long arms of these wicked princes before they
could reach that remote Stewartian man or his precursor to whom they
were mainly addressed, he recommended to all those who might be
impressed with a sense of their importance to bury a copy or copies of
each work properly secured from damp, &c. at a depth of seven or eight
feet below the surface of the earth; and on their death-beds to
communicate the knowledge of this fact to some confidential friends,
who in their turn were to send down the tradition to some discreet
persons of the next generation; and thus, if the truth was not to be
dispersed for many ages, yet the knowledge that here and there the
truth lay buried on this and that continent, in secret spots on Mount
Caucasus--in the sands of Biledulgerid--and in hiding-places amongst
the forests of America, and was to rise again in some distant age and
to vegetate and fructify for the universal benefit of man,--this
knowledge at least was to be whispered down from generation to
generation; and, in defiance of a myriad of kings crusading against
him, Walking Stewart was to stretch out the influence of his writings
through a long series of [Greek: lampadophoroi] to that child of
nature whom he saw dimly through a vista of many centuries. If this
were madness, it seemed to me a somewhat sublime madness; and I
assured him of my co-operation against the kings, promising that I
would bury "The Harp of Apollo" in my own orchard in Grasmere at the
foot of Mount Fairfield; that I would bury "The Apocalypse of Nature"
in one of the coves of Helvellyn, and several other places best known
to myself. He accepted my offer with gratitude; but he then made known
to me that he relied on my assistance for a still more important
service--which was this: in the lapse of that vast number of ages
which would probably intervene between the present period and the
period at which his works would have reached their destination, he
feared that the English language might itself have mouldered away.
"No!" I said, "_that_ was not probable; considering its extensive
diffusion, and that it was now transplanted into all the continents of
our planet, I would back the English language against any other on
earth." His own persuasion, however, was that the Latin was destined
to survive all other languages; it was to be the eternal as well as
the universal language; and his desire was that I would translate his
works, or some part of them into that language.[46] This I promised;
and I seriously designed at some leisure hour to translate into Latin
a selection of passages which should embody an abstract of his
philosophy. This would have been doing a service to all those who
might wish to see a digest of his peculiar opinions cleared from the
perplexities of his peculiar diction and brought into a narrow compass
from the great number of volumes through which they are at present
dispersed. However, like many another plan of mine, it went

[Footnote 46: I was not aware until the moment of writing this passage
that Walking Stewart had publicly made this request three years after
making it to myself: opening the Harp of Apollo, I have just now
accidentally stumbled on the following passage, "This stupendous work
is destined, I fear, to meet a worse fate than the Aloe, which as soon
as it blossoms loses its stalk. This first blossom of reason is
threatened with the loss of both its stalk and its soil; for, if the
revolutionary tyrant should triumph, he would destroy all the English
books and energies of thought. I conjure my readers to translate this
work into Latin, and to bury it in the ground, communicating on their
death-beds only its place of concealment to men of nature."

From the title page of this work, by the way, I learn that the "7000th
year of Astronomical History" is taken from the Chinese tables, and
coincides (as I had supposed) with the year 1812 of our computation.]

On the whole, if Walking Stewart were at all crazy, he was so in a way
which did not affect his natural genius and eloquence--but rather
exalted them. The old maxim, indeed, that "Great wits to madness sure
are near allied," the maxim of Dryden and the popular maxim, I have
heard disputed by Mr. Coleridge and Mr. Wordsworth, who maintain that
mad people are the dullest and most wearisome of all people. As a
body, I believe they are so. But I must dissent from the authority of
Messrs. Coleridge and Wordsworth so far as to distinguish. Where
madness is connected, as it often is, with some miserable derangement
of the stomach, liver, &c. and attacks the principle of pleasurable
life, which is manifestly seated in the central organs of the body
(i.e. in the stomach and the apparatus connected with it), there it
cannot but lead to perpetual suffering and distraction of thought; and
there the patient will be often tedious and incoherent. People who
have not suffered from any great disturbance in those organs are
little aware how indispensable to the process of thinking are the
momentary influxes of pleasurable feeling from the regular goings on
of life in its primary functions; in fact, until the pleasure is
withdrawn or obscured, most people are not aware that they _have_ any
pleasure from the due action of the great central machinery of the
system; proceeding in uninterrupted continuance, the pleasure as much
escapes the consciousness as the act of respiration; a child, in the
happiest state of its existence, does not _know_ that it is happy. And
generally whatsoever is the level state of the hourly feeling is never
put down by the unthinking (i.e. by 99 out of 100) to the account of
happiness; it is never put down with the positive sign, as equal to _+
x_; but simply as = 0. And men first become aware that it _was_ a
positive quantity, when they have lost it (i.e. fallen into _- x_).
Meantime the genial pleasure from the vital processes, though not
represented to the consciousness, is _immanent_ in every
act--impulse--motion--word--and thought; and a philosopher sees that
the idiots are in a state of pleasure, though they cannot see it
themselves. Now I say that, where this principle of pleasure is not
attached, madness is often little more than an enthusiasm highly
exalted; the animal spirits are exuberant and in excess; and the
madman becomes, if he be otherwise a man of ability and information,
all the better as a companion. I have met with several such madmen;
and I appeal to my brilliant friend, Professor W----, who is not a man
to tolerate dulness in any quarter, and is himself the ideal of a
delightful companion, whether he ever met a more amusing person than
that madman who took a post-chaise with us from ---- to Carlisle, long
years ago, when he and I were hastening with the speed of fugitive
felons to catch the Edinburgh mail. His fancy and his extravagance,
and his furious attacks on Sir Isaac Newton, like Plato's suppers,
refreshed us not only for that day but whenever they recurred to us;
and we were both grieved when we heard some time afterwards from a
Cambridge man that he had met our clever friend in a stage coach under
the care of a brutal keeper.--Such a madness, if any, was the madness
of Walking Stewart; his health was perfect; his spirits as light and
ebullient as the spirits of a bird in springtime; and his mind
unagitated by painful thoughts, and at peace with itself. Hence, if he
was not an amusing companion, it was because the philosophic direction
of his thoughts made him something more. Of anecdotes and matters of
fact he was not communicative; of all that he had seen in the vast
compass of his travels he never availed himself in conversation. I do
not remember at this moment that he ever once alluded to his own
travels in his intercourse with me except for the purpose of weighing
down by a statement grounded on his own great personal experience an
opposite statement of many hasty and misjudging travellers which he
thought injurious to human nature; the statement was this, that in all
his countless rencontres with uncivilized tribes he had never met with
any so ferocious and brutal as to attack an unarmed and defenceless
man who was able to make them understand that he threw himself upon
their hospitality and forbearance.

On the whole, Walking Stewart was a sublime visionary; he had seen and
suffered much amongst men; yet not too much, or so as to dull the
genial tone of his sympathy with the sufferings of others. His mind
was a mirror of the sentient universe.--The whole mighty vision that
had fleeted before his eyes in this world,--the armies of Hyder-Ali
and his son with oriental and barbaric pageantry,--the civic grandeur
of England, the great deserts of Asia and America,--the vast capitals
of Europe,--London with its eternal agitations, the ceaseless ebb and
flow of its "mighty heart,"--Paris shaken by the fierce torments of
revolutionary convulsions, the silence of Lapland, and the solitary
forests of Canada, with the swarming life of the torrid zone, together
with innumerable recollections of individual joy and sorrow, that he
had participated by sympathy--lay like a map beneath him, as if
eternally co-present to his view; so that, in the contemplation of the
prodigious whole, he had no leisure to separate the parts, or occupy
his mind with details. Hence came the monotony which the frivolous and
the desultory would have found in his conversation. I however, who am
perhaps the person best qualified to speak of him, must pronounce him
to have been a man of great genius; and, with reference to his
conversation, of great eloquence. That these were not better known and
acknowledged was owing to two disadvantages; one grounded in his
imperfect education, the other in the peculiar structure of his mind.
The first was this: like the late Mr. Shelley he had a fine vague
enthusiasm and lofty aspirations in connexion with human nature
generally and its hopes; and like him he strove to give steadiness, a
uniform direction, and an intelligible purpose to these feelings, by
fitting to them a scheme of philosophical opinions. But unfortunately
the philosophic system of both was so far from supporting their own
views and the cravings of their own enthusiasm, that, as in some
points it was baseless, incoherent, or unintelligible, so in others it
tended to moral results, from which, if they had foreseen them, they
would have been themselves the first to shrink as contradictory to the
very purposes in which their system had originated. Hence, in
maintaining their own system they both found themselves painfully
entangled at times with tenets pernicious and degrading to human
nature. These were the inevitable consequences of the [Greek: proton
pseudos] in their speculations; but were naturally charged upon them
by those who looked carelessly into their books as opinions which not
only for the sake of consistency they thought themselves bound to
endure, but to which they gave the full weight of their sanction and
patronage as to so many moving principles in their system. The other
disadvantage under which Walking Stewart laboured was this: he was a
man of genius, but not a man of talents; at least his genius was out
of all proportion to his talents, and wanted an organ as it were for
manifesting itself; so that his most original thoughts were delivered
in a crude state--imperfect, obscure, half developed, and not
producible to a popular audience. He was aware of this himself; and,
though he claims everywhere the faculty of profound intuition into
human nature, yet with equal candour he accuses himself of asinine
stupidity, dulness, and want of talent. He was a disproportioned
intellect, and so far a monster; and he must be added to the long list
of original-minded men who have been looked down upon with pity and
contempt by common-place men of talent, whose powers of mind--though a
thousand times inferior--were yet more manageable, and ran in channels
more suited to common uses and common understandings.

N.B. About the year 1812 I remember seeing in many of the print-shops
a whole-length sketch in water-colours of Walking Stewart in his
customary dress and attitude. This, as the only memorial (I presume)
in that shape of a man whose memory I love, I should be very glad to
possess; and therefore I take the liberty of publicly requesting as a
particular favour from any reader of this article, who may chance to
remember such a sketch in any collection of prints offered for sale,
that he would cause it to be sent to the Editor of the LONDON
MAGAZINE, who will pay for it.

    _De Quincey._


From my boyish days I had always felt a great perplexity on one point
in Macbeth: it was this: the knocking at the gate, which succeeds to
the murder of Duncan, produced to my feelings an effect for which I
never could account: the effect was--that it reflected back upon the
murder a peculiar awfulness and a depth of solemnity: yet, however
obstinately I endeavoured with my understanding to comprehend this,
for many years I never could see _why_ it should produce such an

Here I pause for one moment to exhort the reader never to pay any
attention to his understanding when it stands in opposition to any
other faculty of his mind. The mere understanding, however useful and
indispensable, is the meanest faculty in the human mind and the most
to be distrusted: and yet the great majority of people trust to
nothing else; which may do for ordinary life, but not for philosophic
purposes. Of this, out of ten thousand instances that I might produce,
I will cite one. Ask of any person whatsoever, who is not previously
prepared for the demand by a knowledge of perspective, to draw in the
rudest way the commonest appearance which depends upon the laws of
that science--as for instance, to represent the effect of two walls
standing at right angles to each other, or the appearance of the
houses on each side of a street, as seen by a person looking down the
street from one extremity. Now in all cases, unless the person has
happened to observe in pictures how it is that artists produce these
effects, he will be utterly unable to make the smallest approximation
to it. Yet why?--For he has actually seen the effect every day of his
life. The reason is--that he allows his understanding to overrule his
eyes. His understanding, which includes no intuitive knowledge of the
laws of vision, can furnish him with no reason why a line which is
known and can be proved to be a horizontal line, should not _appear_ a
horizontal line: a line, that made any angle with the perpendicular
less than a right angle, would seem to him to indicate that his houses
were all tumbling down together. Accordingly he makes the line of his
houses a horizontal line, and fails of course to produce the effect
demanded. Here then is one instance out of many, in which not only the
understanding is allowed to overrule the eyes, but where the
understanding is positively allowed to obliterate the eyes as it were:
for not only does the man believe the evidence of his understanding in
opposition to that of his eyes, but (which is monstrous!) the idiot is
not aware that his eyes ever gave such evidence. He does not know that
he has seen (and therefore _quoad_ his consciousness has _not_ seen)
that which he _has_ seen every day of his life. But to return from
this digression,--my understanding could furnish no reason why the
knocking at the gate in Macbeth should produce any effect direct or
reflected: in fact, my understanding said positively that it could
_not_ produce any effect. But I knew better: I felt that it did: and I
waited and clung to the problem until further knowledge should enable
me to solve it.--At length, in 1812, Mr. Williams made his _début_ on
the stage of Ratcliffe Highway, and executed those unparalleled
murders which have procured for him such a brilliant and undying
reputation. On which murders, by the way, I must observe, that in one
respect they have had an ill effect, by making the connoisseur in
murder very fastidious in his taste, and dissatisfied with any thing
that has been since done in that line. All other murders look pale by
the deep crimson of his: and, as an amateur once said to me in a
querulous tone, "There has been absolutely nothing _doing_ since his
time, or nothing that's worth speaking of." But this is wrong: for it
is unreasonable to expect all men to be great artists, and born with
the genius of Mr. Williams.--Now it will be remembered that in the
first of these murders (that of the Marrs) the same incident (of a
knocking at the door soon after the work of extermination was
complete) did actually occur which the genius of Shakspeare had
invented: and all good judges and the most eminent dilettanti
acknowledged the felicity of Shakspeare's suggestion as soon as it was
actually realized. Here then was a fresh proof that I had been right
in relying on my own feeling in opposition to my understanding; and
again I set myself to study the problem: at length I solved it to my
own satisfaction; and my solution is this. Murder in ordinary cases,
where the sympathy is wholly directed to the case of the murdered
person, is an incident of coarse and vulgar horror; and for this
reason--that it flings the interest exclusively upon the natural but
ignoble instinct by which we cleave to life; an instinct which, as
being indispensable to the primal law of self-preservation, is the
same in kind (though different in degree) amongst all living
creatures; this instinct therefore, because it annihilates all
distinctions, and degrades the greatest of men to the level of "the
poor beetle that we tread on," exhibits human nature in its most
abject and humiliating attitude. Such an attitude would little suit
the purposes of the poet. What then must he do? He must throw the
interest on the murderer: our sympathy must be with _him_; (of course
I mean a sympathy of comprehension, a sympathy by which we enter into
his feelings, and are made to understand them,--not a sympathy[47] of
pity or approbation:) in the murdered person all strife of thought,
all flux and reflux of passion and of purpose, are crushed by one
overwhelming panic: the fear of instant death smites him "with its
petrific mace." [Footnote 47: It seems almost ludicrous to guard and
explain my use of a word in a situation where it should naturally
explain itself. But it has become necessary to do so, in consequence
of the unscholarlike use of the word sympathy, at present so general,
by which, instead of taking it in its proper use, as the act of
reproducing in our minds the feelings of another, whether for hatred,
indignation, love, pity, or approbation, it is made a mere synonyme of
the word _pity_; and hence, instead of saying, "sympathy _with_
another," many writers adopt the monstrous barbarism of "sympathy
_for_ another."] But in the murderer, such a murderer as a poet will
condescend to, there must be raging some great storm of
passion,--jealousy, ambition, vengeance, hatred,--which will create a
hell within him; and into this hell we are to look. In Macbeth, for
the sake of gratifying his own enormous and teeming faculty of
creation, Shakspeare has introduced two murderers: and, as usual in
his hands, they are remarkably discriminated: but though in Macbeth
the strife of mind is greater than in his wife, the tiger spirit not
so awake, and his feelings caught chiefly by contagion from her,--yet,
as both were finally involved in the guilt of murder, the murderous
mind of necessity is finally to be presumed in both. This was to be
expressed; and on its own account, as well as to make it a more
proportionable antagonist to the unoffending nature of their victim,
"the gracious Duncan," and adequately to expound "the deep damnation
of his taking off," this was to be expressed with peculiar energy. We
were to be made to feel that the human nature, _i.e._ the divine
nature of love and mercy, spread through the hearts of all creatures,
and seldom utterly withdrawn from man,--was gone, vanished, extinct;
and that the fiendish nature had taken its place. And, as this effect
is marvellously accomplished in the dialogues and soliloquies
themselves, so it is finally consummated by the expedient under
consideration; and it is to this that I now solicit the reader's
attention. If the reader has ever witnessed a wife, daughter, or
sister, in a fainting fit, he may chance to have observed that the
most affecting moment in such a spectacle, is _that_ in which a sigh
and a stirring announce the recommencement of suspended life. Or, if
the reader has ever been present in a vast metropolis on the day when
some great national idol was carried in funeral pomp to his grave, and
chancing to walk near to the course through which it passed, has felt
powerfully in the silence and desertion of the streets and in the
stagnation of ordinary business, the deep interest which at that
moment was possessing the heart of man,--if all at once he should hear
the death-like stillness broken up by the sound of wheels rattling
away from the scene, and making known that the transitory vision was
dissolved, he will be aware that at no moment was his sense of the
complete suspension and pause in ordinary human concerns so full and
affecting as at that moment when the suspension ceases, and the
goings-on of human life are suddenly resumed. All action in any
direction is best expounded, measured, and made apprehensible, by
reaction. Now apply this to the case in Macbeth. Here, as I have said,
the retiring of the human heart and the entrance of the fiendish heart
was to be expressed and made sensible. Another world has stepped in;
and the murderers are taken out of the region of human things, human
purposes, human desires. They are transfigured: Lady Macbeth is
"unsexed;" Macbeth has forgot that he was born of woman; both are
conformed to the image of devils; and the world of devils is suddenly
revealed. But how shall this be conveyed and made palpable? In order
that a new world may step in, this world must for a time disappear.
The murderers, and the murder, must be insulated--cut off by an
immeasurable gulph from the ordinary tide and succession of human
affairs--locked up and sequestered in some deep recess: we must be
made sensible that the world of ordinary life is suddenly
arrested--laid asleep--tranced--racked into a dread armistice: time
must be annihilated; relation to things without abolished; and all
must pass self-withdrawn into a deep syncope and suspension of earthly
passion. Hence it is that when the deed is done--when the work of
darkness is perfect, then the world of darkness passes away like a
pageantry in the clouds: the knocking at the gate is heard; and it
makes known audibly that the reaction has commenced: the human has
made its reflux upon the fiendish: the pulses of life are beginning to
beat again: and the re-establishment of the goings-on of the world in
which we live, first makes us profoundly sensible of the awful
parenthesis that had suspended them.

Oh! mighty poet!--Thy works are not as those of other men, simply and
merely great works of art; but are also like the phenomena of nature,
like the sun and the sea, the stars and the flowers,--like frost and
snow, rain and dew, hail-storm and thunder, which are to be studied
with entire submission of our own faculties, and in the perfect faith
that in them there can be no too much or too little, nothing useless
or inert--but that, the further we press in our discoveries, the more
we shall see proofs of design and self-supporting arrangement where
the careless eye had seen nothing but accident!

N.B. In the above specimen of psychological criticism, I have
purposely omitted to notice another use of the knocking at the gate,
viz. the opposition and contrast which it produces in the porter's
comments to the scenes immediately preceding; because this use is
tolerably obvious to all who are accustomed to reflect on what they

    _De Quincey._


Damascus, first-born of cities, _Om el Denia_,[48] mother of
generations, that wast before Abraham, that wast before the Pyramids!
what sounds are those that, from a postern gate, looking eastwards
over secret paths that wind away to the far distant desert, break the
solemn silence of an oriental night? Whose voice is that which calls
upon the spearmen, keeping watch for ever in the turret surmounting
the gate, to receive him back into his Syrian home? Thou knowest him,
Damascus, and hast known him in seasons of trouble as one learned in
the afflictions of man; wise alike to take counsel for the suffering
spirit or for the suffering body. The voice that breaks upon the night
is the voice of a great evangelist--one of the four; and he is also a
great physician. This do the watchmen at the gate thankfully
acknowledge, and joyfully they give him entrance. His sandals are
white with dust; for he has been roaming for weeks beyond the desert,
under the guidance of Arabs, on missions of hopeful benignity to
Palmyra;[49] and in spirit he is weary of all things, except
faithlessness to God, and burning love to man.

[Footnote 48: '_Om el Denia_':--Mother of the World is the Arabic
title of Damascus. That it was before Abraham--_i.e._, already an old
establishment much more than a thousand years before the siege of
Troy, and than two thousand years before our Christian era--may be
inferred from Gen. xv. 2; and by the general consent of all eastern
races, Damascus is accredited as taking precedency in age of all
cities to the west of the Indus.]

[Footnote 49: Palmyra had not yet reached its meridian splendour of
Grecian development, as afterwards near the age of Aurelian, but it
was already a noble city.]

Eastern cities are asleep betimes; and sounds few or none fretted the
quiet of all around him, as the evangelist paced onward to the
market-place; but there another scene awaited him. On the right hand,
in an upper chamber, with lattices widely expanded, sat a festal
company of youths, revelling under a noonday blaze of light, from
cressets and from bright tripods that burned fragrant woods--all
joining in choral songs, all crowned with odorous wreaths from Daphne
and the banks of the Orontes. Them the evangelist heeded not; but far
away upon the left, close upon a sheltered nook, lighted up by a
solitary vase of iron fretwork filled with cedar boughs, and hoisted
high upon a spear, behold there sat a woman of loveliness so
transcendent, that, when suddenly revealed, as now, out of deepest
darkness, she appalled men as a mockery, or a birth of the air. Was
she born of woman? Was it perhaps the angel--so the evangelist argued
with himself--that met him in the desert after sunset, and
strengthened him by secret talk? The evangelist went up, and touched
her forehead; and when he found that she was indeed human, and
guessed, from the station which she had chosen, that she waited for
some one amongst this dissolute crew as her companion, he groaned
heavily in spirit, and said, half to himself, but half to her, "Wert
thou, poor ruined flower, adorned so divinely at thy birth--glorified
in such excess that not Solomon in all his pomp--no, nor even the
lilies of the field--can approach thy gifts--only that thou shouldest
grieve the holy spirit of God?" The woman trembled exceedingly, and
said, "Rabbi, what should I do? For behold! all men forsake me." The
evangelist mused a little, and then secretly to himself he said, "Now
will I search this woman's heart--whether in very truth it inclineth
itself to God, and hath strayed only before fiery compulsion." Turning
therefore to the woman, the Prophet[50] said, "Listen: I am the
messenger of Him whom thou hast not known; of Him that made Lebanon
and the cedars of Lebanon; that made the sea, and the heavens, and the
host of the stars; that made the light; that made the darkness; that
blew the spirit of life into the nostrils of man. His messenger I am:
and from Him all power is given me to bind and to loose, to build and
to pull down. Ask, therefore, whatsoever thou wilt--great or
small--and through me thou shalt receive it from God. But, my child,
ask not amiss. For God is able out of thy own evil asking to weave
snares for thy footing. And oftentimes to the lambs whom He loves, He
gives by seeming to refuse; gives in some better sense, or" (and his
voice swelled into the power of anthems) "in some far happier world.
Now, therefore, my daughter, be wise on thy own behalf; and say what
it is that I shall ask for thee from God." But the Daughter of Lebanon
needed not his caution; for immediately dropping on one knee to God's
ambassador, whilst the full radiance from the cedar torch fell upon
the glory of a penitential eye, she raised her clasped hands in
supplication, and said, in answer to the evangelist asking for a
second time what gift he should call down upon her from Heaven, "Lord,
that thou wouldest put me back into my father's house." And the
evangelist, because he was human, dropped a tear as he stooped to kiss
her forehead, saying, "Daughter, thy prayer is heard in heaven; and I
tell thee that the daylight shall not come and go for thirty times,
not for the thirtieth time shall the sun drop behind Lebanon, before I
will put thee back into thy father's house."

[Footnote 50: "_The Prophet_":--Though a Prophet was not _therefore_
and in virtue of that character an Evangelist, yet every Evangelist
was necessarily in the scriptural sense a Prophet. For let it be
remembered that a Prophet did not mean a _Pre_dicter, or _Fore_shower
of events, except derivatively and inferentially. What _was_ a Prophet
in the uniform scriptural sense? He was a man, who drew aside the
curtain from the secret counsels of Heaven. He declared, or made
public, the previously hidden truths of God: and because future events
might chance to involve divine truth, therefore a revealer of future
events might happen so far to be a Prophet. Yet still small was that
part of a Prophet's functions which concerned the foreshowing of
events; and not necessarily _any_ part.]

Thus the lovely lady came into the guardianship of the evangelist. She
sought not to varnish her history, or to palliate her own
transgressions. In so far as she had offended at all, her case was
that of millions in every generation. Her father was a prince in
Lebanon, proud, unforgiving, austere. The wrongs done to his daughter
by her dishonourable lover, because done under favour of opportunities
created by her confidence in his integrity, her father persisted in
resenting as wrong's done by this injured daughter herself; and,
refusing to her all protection, drove her, whilst yet confessedly
innocent, into criminal compliances under sudden necessities of
seeking daily bread from her own uninstructed efforts. Great was the
wrong she suffered both from father and lover; great was the
retribution. She lost a churlish father and a wicked lover; she gained
an apostolic guardian. She lost a princely station in Lebanon; she
gained an early heritage in heaven. For this heritage is hers within
thirty days, if she will not defeat it herself. And, whilst the
stealthy motion of time travelled towards this thirtieth day, behold!
a burning fever desolated Damascus, which also laid its arrest upon
the Daughter of Lebanon, yet gently, and so that hardly for an hour
did it withdraw her from the heavenly teachings of the evangelist. And
thus daily the doubt was strengthened--would the holy apostle suddenly
touch her with his hand, and say, "Woman, be thou whole!" or would he
present her on the thirtieth day as a pure bride to Christ? But
perfect freedom belongs to Christian service, and she only must make
the election.

Up rose the sun on the thirtieth morning in all his pomp, but suddenly
was darkened by driving storms. Not until noon was the heavenly orb
again revealed; then the glorious light was again unmasked, and again
the Syrian valleys rejoiced. This was the hour already appointed for
the baptism of the new Christian daughter. Heaven and earth shed
gratulation on the happy festival; and, when all was finished, under
an awning raised above the level roof of her dwelling-house, the
regenerate daughter of Lebanon, looking over the rose-gardens of
Damascus, with amplest prospect of her native hills, lay in blissful
trance, making proclamation, by her white baptismal robes, of
recovered innocence and of reconciliation with God. And, when the sun
was declining to the west, the evangelist, who had sat from noon by
the bedside of his spiritual daughter, rose solemnly, and said, "Lady
of Lebanon, the day is already come, and the hour is coming, in which
my covenant must be fulfilled with thee. Wilt thou, therefore, being
now wiser in thy thoughts, suffer God, thy new Father, to give by
seeming to refuse; to give in some better sense, or in some far
happier world?" But the Daughter of Lebanon sorrowed at these words;
she yearned after her native hills; not for themselves, but because
there it was that she had left that sweet twin-born sister with whom
from infant days hand-in-hand she had wandered amongst the everlasting
cedars. And again the evangelist sat down by her bedside; while she by
intervals communed with him, and by intervals slept gently under the
oppression of her fever. But, as evening drew nearer, and it wanted
now but a brief space to the going down of the sun, once again, and
with deeper solemnity, the evangelist rose to his feet, and said, "O
daughter! this is the thirtieth day, and the sun is drawing near to
his rest; brief, therefore, is the time within which I must fulfil the
word that God spoke to thee by me." Then, because light clouds of
delirium were playing about her brain, he raised his pastoral staff,
and pointing it to her temples, rebuked the clouds, and bade that no
more they should trouble her vision, or stand between her and the
forests of Lebanon. And the delirious clouds parted asunder, breaking
away to the right and to the left. But upon the forests of Lebanon
there hung a mighty mass of overshadowing vapours, bequeathed by the
morning's storm. And a second time the evangelist raised his pastoral
staff, and, pointing it to the gloomy vapours, rebuked them, and bade
that no more they should stand between his daughter and her father's
house, and immediately the dark vapours broke away from Lebanon to the
right and to the left; and the farewell radiance of the sun lighted up
all the paths that ran between the everlasting cedars and her father's
palace. But vainly the lady of Lebanon searched every path with her
eyes for memorials of her sister. And the evangelist, pitying her
sorrow, turned away her eyes to the clear blue sky, which the
departing vapours had exposed. And he showed her the peace that was
there. And then he said, "O daughter! this also is but a mask." And
immediately for the third time he raised his pastoral staff, and,
pointing it to the fair blue sky, he rebuked it, and bade that no more
it should stand between her and the vision of God. Immediately the
blue sky parted to the right and to the left, laying bare the infinite
revelations that can be made visible only to dying eyes. And the
Daughter of Lebanon said to the evangelist, "O father! what armies are
these that I see mustering within the infinite chasm?" And the
evangelist replied, "These are the armies of Christ, and they are
mustering to receive some dear human blossom, some first-fruits of
Christian faith, that shall rise this night to Christ from Damascus."
Suddenly, as thus the child of Lebanon gazed upon the mighty vision,
she saw bending forward from the heavenly host, as if in gratulation
to herself, the one countenance for which she hungered and thirsted.
The twin sister, that should have waited for her in Lebanon, had died
of grief, and was waiting for her in Paradise. Immediately in rapture
she soared upwards from her couch; immediately in weakness she fell
back; and being caught by the evangelist, she flung her arms around
his neck; whilst he breathed into her ear his final whisper, "Wilt
thou now suffer that God should give by seeming to refuse?"--"Oh
yes--yes--yes," was the fervent answer from the Daughter of Lebanon.
Immediately the evangelist gave the signal to the heavens, and the
heavens gave the signal to the sun; and in one minute after the
Daughter of Lebanon had fallen back a marble corpse amongst her white
baptismal robes, the solar orb dropped behind Lebanon; and the
evangelist, with eyes glorified by mortal and immortal tears, rendered
thanks to God that had thus accomplished the word which he spoke
through himself to the Magdalen of Lebanon--that not for the thirtieth
time should the sun go down behind her native hills, before he had put
her back into her Father's house.

    _De Quincey._


An Italian author--Giulio Cordara, a Jesuit--has written a poem upon
insects, which he begins by insisting, that those troublesome and
abominable little animals were created for our annoyance, and that
they were certainly not inhabitants of Paradise. We of the north may
dispute this piece of theology; but on the other hand, it is clear as
the snow on the house-tops, that Adam was not under the necessity of
shaving; and that when Eve walked out of her delicious bower, she did
not step upon ice three inches thick.

Some people say it is a very easy thing to get up of a cold morning.
You have only, they tell you, to take the resolution; and the thing is
done. This may be very true; just as a boy at school has only to take
a flogging, and the thing is over. But we have not at all made up our
minds upon it; and we find it a very pleasant exercise to discuss the
matter, candidly, before we get up. This at least is not idling,
though it may be lying. It affords an excellent answer to those, who
ask how lying in bed can be indulged in by a reasoning being,--a
rational creature. How? Why with the argument calmly at work in one's
head, and the clothes over one's shoulder. Oh--it is a fine way of
spending a sensible, impartial half-hour.

If these people would be more charitable, they would get on with their
argument better. But they are apt to reason so ill, and to assert so
dogmatically, that one could wish to have them stand round one's bed
of a bitter morning, and lie before their faces. They ought to hear
both sides of the bed, the inside and out. If they cannot entertain
themselves with their own thoughts for half an hour or so, it is not
the fault of those who can. If their will is never pulled aside by the
enticing arms of imagination, so much the luckier for the

Candid inquiries into one's decumbency, besides the greater or less
privileges to be allowed a man in proportion to his ability of keeping
early hours, the work given his faculties, etc., will at least concede
their due merits to such representations as the following. In the
first place, says the injured but calm appealer, I have been warm all
night, and find my system in a state perfectly suitable to a
warm-blooded animal. To get out of this state into the cold, besides
the inharmonious and uncritical abruptness of the transition, is so
unnatural to such a creature, that the poets, refining upon the
tortures of the damned, make one of their greatest agonies consist in
being suddenly transported from heat to cold,--from fire to ice. They
are "haled" out of their "beds," says Milton, by "harpy-footed
furies,"--fellows who come to call them. On my first movement towards
the anticipation of getting up, I find that such parts of the sheets
and bolster, as are exposed to the air of the room, are stone-cold. On
opening my eyes, the first thing that meets them is my own breath
rolling forth, as if in the open air, like smoke out of a cottage
chimney. Think of this symptom. Then I turn my eyes sideways and see
the window all frozen over. Think of that. Then the servant comes in.
"It is very cold this morning, is it not?"--"Very cold, Sir."--"Very
cold indeed, isn't it?"--"Very cold indeed, Sir."--"More than usually
so, isn't it, even for this weather?" (Here the servant's wit and
good-nature are put to a considerable test, and the inquirer lies on
thorns for the answer.) "Why, Sir ... I think it _is_." (Good
creature! There is not a better, or more truth-telling servant going.)
"I must rise, however--get me some warm water."--Here comes a fine
interval between the departure of the servant and the arrival of the
hot water; during which, of course, it is of "no use" to get up. The
hot water comes. "Is it quite hot?"--"Yes, Sir."--"Perhaps too hot for
shaving: I must wait a little?"--"No, Sir; it will just do." (There is
an over-nice propriety sometimes, an officious zeal of virtue, a
little troublesome.) "Oh--the shirt--you must air my clean
shirt;--linen gets very damp this weather."--"Yes, Sir." Here another
delicious five minutes. A knock at the door. "Oh, the shirt--very
well. My stockings--I think the stockings had better be aired
too."--"Very well, Sir."--Here another interval. At length everything
is ready, except myself. I now, continues our incumbent (a happy word,
by the bye, for a country vicar)--I now cannot help thinking a good
deal--who can?--upon the unnecessary and villainous custom of shaving:
it is a thing so unmanly (here I nestle closer)--so effeminate (here I
recoil from an unlucky step into the colder part of the bed.)--No
wonder that the Queen of France took part with the rebels against the
degenerate King, her husband, who first affronted her smooth visage
with a face like her own. The Emperor Julian never showed the
luxuriancy of his genius to better advantage than in reviving the
flowing beard. Look at Cardinal Bembo's picture--at Michael
Angelo's--at Titian's--at Shakespeare's--at Fletcher's--at
Spenser's--at Chaucer's--at Alfred's--at Plato's--I could name a great
man for every tick of my watch.--Look at the Turks, a grave and otiose
people.--Think of Haroun Al Raschid and Bed-ridden Hassan.--Think of
Wortley Montagu, the worthy son of his mother, a man above the
prejudice of his time.--Look at the Persian gentlemen, whom one is
ashamed of meeting about the suburbs, their dress and appearance are
so much finer than our own.--Lastly, think of the razor itself--how
totally opposed to every sensation of bed--how cold, how edgy, how
hard! how utterly different from anything like the warm and circling
amplitude, which

           Sweetly recommends itself
    Unto our gentle senses.

Add to this, benumbed fingers, which may help you to cut yourself, a
quivering body, a frozen towel, and a ewer full of ice; and he that
says there is nothing to oppose in all this, only shows, at any rate,
that he has no merit in opposing it.

Thomson the poet, who exclaims in his Seasons--

    Falsely luxurious! Will not man awake?

used to lie in bed till noon, because he said he had no motive in
getting up. He could imagine the good of rising; but then he could
also imagine the good of lying still; and his exclamation, it must be
allowed, was made upon summer-time, not winter. We must proportion the
argument to the individual character. A money-getter may be drawn out
of his bed by three and four pence; but this will not suffice for a
student. A proud man may say, "What shall I think of myself, if I
don't get up?" but the more humble one will be content to waive this
prodigious notion of himself, out of respect to his kindly bed. The
mechanical man shall get up without any ado at all; and so shall the
barometer. An ingenious lier in bed will find hard matter of
discussion even on the score of health and longevity. He will ask us
for our proofs and precedents of the ill effects of lying later in
cold weather; and sophisticate much on the advantages of an even
temperature of body; of the natural propensity (pretty universal) to
have one's way; and of the animals that roll themselves up, and sleep
all the winter. As to longevity, he will ask whether the longest life
is of necessity the best; and whether Holborn is the handsomest street
in London.

We only know of one confounding, not to say confounded argument, fit
to overturn the huge luxury, the "enormous bliss"--of the vice in
question. A lier in bed may be allowed to profess a disinterested
indifference for his health or longevity; but while he is showing the
reasonableness of consulting his own or one person's comfort, he must
admit the proportionate claim of more than one; and the best way to
deal with him is this, especially for a lady; for we earnestly
recommend the use of that sex on such occasions, if not somewhat
_over_-persuasive; since extremes have an awkward knack of meeting.
First then, admit all the ingeniousness of what he says, telling him
that the bar has been deprived of an excellent lawyer. Then look at
him in the most good-natured manner in the world, with a mixture of
assent and appeal in your countenance, and tell him that you are
waiting breakfast for him; that you never like to breakfast without
him; that you really want it too; that the servants want theirs; that
you shall not know how to get the house into order, unless he rises;
and that you are sure he would do things twenty times worse, even than
getting out of his warm bed, to put them all into good humour and a
state of comfort. Then, after having said this, throw in the
comparatively indifferent matter, to _him_, about his health; but tell
him that it is no indifferent matter to you; that the sight of his
illness makes more people suffer than one; but that if, nevertheless,
he really does feel so very sleepy and so very much refreshed by----
Yet stay; we hardly know whether the frailty of a---- Yes, yes; say
that too, especially if you say it with sincerity; for if the weakness
of human nature on the one hand and the _vis inertiæ_ on the other,
should lead him to take advantage of it once or twice, good-humour and
sincerity form an irresistible junction at last; and are still better
and warmer things than pillows and blankets.

Other little helps of appeal may be thrown in, as occasion requires.
You may tell a lover, for instance, that lying in bed makes people
corpulent; a father, that you wish him to complete the fine manly
example he sets his children; a lady, that she will injure her bloom
or her shape, which M. or W. admires so much; and a student or artist,
that he is always so glad to have done a good day's work, in his best

_Reader._ And pray, Mr. Indicator, how do _you_ behave yourself in
this respect?

_Indic._ Oh, Madam, perfectly, of course; like all advisers.

_Reader._ Nay, I allow that your mode of argument does not look quite
so suspicious as the old way of sermonising and severity, but I have
my doubts, especially from that laugh of yours. If I should look in
to-morrow morning--

_Indic._ Ah, Madam, the look in of a face like yours does anything
with me. It shall fetch me up at nine, if you please--_six_, I meant
to say.

    _Leigh Hunt._


Our Old Gentleman, in order to be exclusively himself, must be either
a widower or a bachelor. Suppose the former. We do not mention his
precise age, which would be invidious:--nor whether he wears his own
hair or a wig; which would be wanting in universality. If a wig, it is
a compromise between the more modern scratch and the departed glory of
the toupee. If his own hair, it is white, in spite of his favourite
grandson, who used to get on the chair behind him, and pull the silver
hairs out, ten years ago. If he is bald at top, the hairdresser,
hovering and breathing about him like a second youth, takes care to
give the bald place as much powder as the covered; in order that he
may convey to the sensorium within a pleasing indistinctness of idea
respecting the exact limits of skin and hair. He is very clean and
neat; and, in warm weather, is proud of opening his waistcoat half-way
down, and letting so much of his frill be seen, in order to show his
hardiness as well as taste. His watch and shirt-buttons are of the
best; and he does not care if he has two rings on a finger. If his
watch ever failed him at the club or coffee-house, he would take a
walk every day to the nearest clock of good character, purely to keep
it right. He has a cane at home, but seldom uses it, on finding it out
of fashion with his elderly juniors. He has a small cocked hat for
gala days, which he lifts higher from his head than the round one,
when made a bow to. In his pockets are two handkerchiefs (one for the
neck at night-time), his spectacles, and his pocket-book. The
pocket-book, among other things, contains a receipt for a cough, and
some verses cut out of an odd sheet of an old magazine, on the lovely
Duchess of A., beginning--

    "When beauteous Mira walks the plain."

He intends this for a common-place book which he keeps, consisting of
passages in verse and prose, cut out of newspapers and magazines, and
pasted in columns; some of them rather gay. His principal other books
are Shakespeare's Plays and Milton's Paradise Lost; the Spectator, the
History of England, the Works of Lady M. W. Montagu, Pope and
Churchill; Middleton's Geography; the Gentleman's Magazine; Sir John
Sinclair on Longevity; several plays with portraits in character;
Account of Elizabeth Canning, Memoirs of George Ann Bellamy, Poetical
Amusements at Bath-Easton, Blair's Works, Elegant Extracts; Junius as
originally published; a few pamphlets on the American War and Lord
George Gordon, etc., and one on the French Revolution. In his
sitting-rooms are some engravings from Hogarth and Sir Joshua; an
engraved portrait of the Marquis of Granby; ditto of M. le Comte de
Grasse surrendering to Admiral Rodney; a humorous piece after Penny;
and a portrait of himself, painted by Sir Joshua. His wife's portrait
is in his chamber, looking upon his bed. She is a little girl,
stepping forward with a smile, and a pointed toe, as if going to
dance. He lost her when she was sixty.

The Old Gentleman is an early riser, because he intends to live at
least twenty years longer. He continues to take tea for breakfast, in
spite of what is said against its nervous effects; having been
satisfied on that point some years ago by Dr. Johnson's criticism on
Hanway, and a great liking for tea previously. His china cups and
saucers have been broken since his wife's death, all but one, which is
religiously kept for his use. He passes his morning in walking or
riding, looking in at auctions, looking after his India bonds or some
such money securities, furthering some subscription set on foot by his
excellent friend Sir John, or cheapening a new old print for his
portfolio. He also hears of the newspapers; not caring to see them
till after dinner at the coffee-house. He may also cheapen a fish or
so; the fishmonger soliciting his doubting eye as he passes, with a
profound bow of recognition. He eats a pear before dinner.

His dinner at the coffee-house is served up to him at the accustomed
hour, in the old accustomed way, and by the accustomed waiter. If
William did not bring it, the fish would be sure to be stale, and the
flesh new. He eats no tart; or if he ventures on a little, takes
cheese with it. You might as soon attempt to persuade him out of his
senses, as that cheese is not good for digestion. He takes port; and
if he has drunk more than usual, and in a more private place, may be
induced by some respectful inquiries respecting the old style of
music, to sing a song composed by Mr. Oswald or Mr. Lampe, such as--

    "Chloe, by that borrowed kiss,"


    "Come, gentle god of soft repose,"

or his wife's favourite ballad, beginning--

    "At Upton on the hill,
      There lived a happy pair."

Of course, no such exploit can take place in the coffee-room: but he
will canvass the theory of that matter there with you, or discuss the
weather, or the markets, or the theatres, or the merits of "my lord
North" or "my lord Rockingham;" for he rarely says simply, lord; it is
generally "my lord," trippingly and genteelly off the tongue. If alone
after dinner, his great delight is the newspaper; which he prepares to
read by wiping his spectacles, carefully adjusting them on his eyes,
and drawing the candle close to him, so as to stand sideways betwixt
his ocular aim and the small type. He then holds the paper at arm's
length, and dropping his eyelids half down and his mouth half open,
takes cognizance of the day's information. If he leaves off, it is
only when the door is opened by a new-comer, or when he suspects
somebody is over-anxious to get the paper out of his hand. On these
occasions he gives an important hem! or so; and resumes.

In the evening, our Old Gentleman is fond of going to the theatre, or
of having a game of cards. If he enjoys the latter at his own house or
lodgings, he likes to play with some friends whom he has known for
many years; but an elderly stranger may be introduced, if quiet and
scientific; and the privilege is extended to younger men of letters;
who, if ill players, are good losers. Not that he is a miser, but to
win money at cards is like proving his victory by getting the baggage;
and to win of a younger man is a substitute for his not being able to
beat him at rackets. He breaks up early, whether at home or abroad.

At the theatre, he likes a front row in the pit. He comes early, if he
can do so without getting into a squeeze, and sits patiently waiting
for the drawing up of the curtain, with his hands placidly lying one
over the other on the top of his stick. He generously admires some of
the best performers, but thinks them far inferior to Garrick,
Woodward, and Clive. During splendid scenes, he is anxious that the
little boy should see.

He has been induced to look in at Vauxhall again, but likes it still
less than he did years back, and cannot bear it in comparison with
Ranelagh. He thinks everything looks poor, flaring, and jaded. "Ah!"
says he, with a sort of triumphant sigh, "Ranelagh was a noble place!
Such taste, such elegance, such beauty! There was the Duchess of A.,
the finest woman in England, Sir; and Mrs. L., a mighty fine creature;
and Lady Susan what's her name, that had that unfortunate affair with
Sir Charles. Sir, they came swimming by you like the swans."

The Old Gentleman is very particular in having his slippers ready for
him at the fire, when he comes home. He is also extremely choice in
his snuff, and delights to get a fresh boxful in Tavistock-street, in
his way to the theatre. His box is a curiosity from India. He calls
favourite young ladies by their Christian names, however slightly
acquainted with them; and has a privilege also of saluting all brides,
mothers, and indeed every species of lady, on the least holiday
occasion. If the husband for instance has met with a piece of luck, he
instantly moves forward, and gravely kisses the wife on the cheek. The
wife then says, "My niece, Sir, from the country;" and he kisses the
niece. The niece, seeing her cousin biting her lips at the joke, says,
"My cousin Harriet, Sir;" and he kisses the cousin. He "never
recollects such weather," except during the "Great Frost," or when he
rode down with "Jack Skrimshire to Newmarket." He grows young again in
his little grandchildren, especially the one which he thinks most like
himself; which is the handsomest. Yet he likes the best perhaps the
one most resembling his wife; and will sit with him on his lap,
holding his hand in silence, for a quarter of an hour together. He
plays most tricks with the former, and makes him sneeze. He asks
little boys in general who was the father of Zebedee's children. If
his grandsons are at school, he often goes to see them; and makes them
blush by telling the master or the upper-scholars, that they are fine
boys, and of a precocious genius. He is much struck when an old
acquaintance dies, but adds that he lived too fast; and that poor Bob
was a sad dog in his youth; "a very sad dog, Sir; mightily set upon a
short life and a merry one."

When he gets very old indeed, he will sit for whole evenings, and say
little or nothing; but informs you, that there is Mrs. Jones (the
housekeeper)--"_She_'ll talk."

    _Leigh Hunt._


If the Old Lady is a widow and lives alone, the manners of her
condition and time of life are so much the more apparent. She
generally dresses in plain silks, that make a gentle rustling as she
moves about the silence of her room; and she wears a nice cap with a
lace border, that comes under the chin. In a placket at her side is an
old enamelled watch, unless it is locked up in a drawer of her toilet,
for fear of accidents. Her waist is rather tight and trim than
otherwise, as she had a fine one when young; and she is not sorry if
you see a pair of her stockings on a table, that you may be aware of
the neatness of her leg and foot. Contented with these and other
evident indications of a good shape, and letting her young friends
understand that she can afford to obscure it a little, she wears
pockets, and uses them well too. In the one is her handkerchief, and
any heavier matter that is not likely to come out with it, such as the
change of a sixpence; in the other is a miscellaneous assortment,
consisting of a pocket-book, a bunch of keys, a needle-case, a
spectacle-case, crumbs of biscuit, a nutmeg and grater, a
smelling-bottle, and, according to the season, an orange or apple,
which after many days she draws out, warm and glossy, to give to some
little child that has well behaved itself. She generally occupies two
rooms, in the neatest condition possible. In the chamber is a bed with
a white coverlet, built up high and round, to look well, and with
curtains of a pastoral pattern, consisting alternately of large
plants, and shepherds and shepherdesses. On the mantelpiece are more
shepherds and shepherdesses, with dot-eyed sheep at their feet, all in
coloured ware: the man, perhaps, in a pink jacket and knots of ribbons
at his knees and shoes, holding his crook lightly in one hand, and
with the other at his breast, turning his toes out and looking
tenderly at the shepherdess: the woman holding a crook also, and
modestly returning his look, with a gipsy-hat jerked up behind, a very
slender waist, with petticoat and hips to _counteract_, and the
petticoat pulled up through the pocket-holes, in order to show the
trimness of her ankles. But these patterns, of course, are various.
The toilet is ancient, carved at the edges, and tied about with a
snow-white drapery of muslin. Beside it are various boxes, mostly
japan; and the set of drawers are exquisite things for a little girl
to rummage, if ever little girl be so bold,--containing ribbons and
laces of various kinds; linen smelling of lavender, of the flowers of
which there is always dust in the corners; a heap of pocket-books for
a series of years; and pieces of dress long gone by, such as
head-fronts, stomachers, and flowered satin shoes, with enormous
heels. The stock of _letters_ are under especial lock and key. So much
for the bedroom. In the sitting-room is rather a spare assortment of
shining old mahogany furniture, or carved arm-chairs equally old, with
chintz draperies down to the ground; a folding or other screen, with
Chinese figures, their round, little-eyed, meek faces perking
sideways; a stuffed bird, perhaps in a glass case (a living one is too
much for her); a portrait of her husband over the mantelpiece, in a
coat with frog-buttons, and a delicate frilled hand lightly inserted
in the waistcoat; and opposite him on the wall, is a piece of
embroidered literature, framed and glazed, containing some moral
distich or maxim, worked in angular capital letters, with two trees of
parrots below, in their proper colours; the whole concluding with an A
B C and numerals, and the name of the fair industrious, expressing it
to be "her work, Jan. 14, 1762." The rest of the furniture consists of
a looking-glass with carved edges, perhaps a settee, a hassock for the
feet, a mat for the little dog, and a small set of shelves, in which
are the "Spectator" and "Guardian," the "Turkish Spy," a Bible and
Prayer Book, Young's "Night Thoughts" with a piece of lace in it to
flatten, Mrs. Rowe's "Devout Exercises of the Heart," Mrs. Glasse's
"Cookery," and perhaps "Sir Charles Grandison," and "Clarissa." "John
Buncle" is in the closet among the pickles and preserves. The clock is
on the landing-place between the two room doors, where it ticks
audibly but quietly; and the landing-place, as well as the stairs, is
carpeted to a nicety. The house is most in character, and properly
coeval, if it is in a retired suburb, and strongly built, with
wainscot rather than paper inside, and lockers in the windows. Before
the windows should be some quivering poplars. Here the Old Lady
receives a few quiet visitors to tea, and perhaps an early game of
cards: or you may see her going out on the same kind of visit herself,
with a light umbrella running up into a stick and crooked ivory
handle, and her little dog, equally famous for his love to her and
captious antipathy to strangers. Her grandchildren dislike him on
holidays, and the boldest sometimes ventures to give him a sly kick
under the table. When she returns at night, she appears, if the
weather happens to be doubtful, in a calash; and her servant in
pattens, follows half behind and half at her side, with a lantern.

Her opinions are not many nor new. She thinks the clergyman a nice
man. The Duke of Wellington, in her opinion, is a very great man; but
she has a secret preference for the Marquis of Granby. She thinks the
young women of the present day too forward, and the men not respectful
enough; but hopes her grandchildren will be better; though she differs
with her daughter in several points respecting their management. She
sets little value on the new accomplishments; is a great though
delicate connoisseur in butcher's meat and all sorts of housewifery;
and if you mention waltzes, expatiates on the grace and fine breeding
of the minuet. She longs to have seen one danced by Sir Charles
Grandison, whom she almost considers as a real person. She likes a
walk of a summer's evening, but avoids the new streets, canals, etc.,
and sometimes goes through the churchyard, where her other children
and her husband lie buried, serious, but not melancholy. She has had
three great epochs in her life:--her marriage--her having been at
court, to see the King and Queen and Royal Family--and a compliment on
her figure she once received, in passing, from Mr. Wilkes, whom she
describes as a sad, loose man, but engaging. His plainness she thinks
much exaggerated. If anything takes her at a distance from home, it is
still the court; but she seldom stirs, even for that. The last time
but one that she went, was to see the Duke of Wirtemberg; and most
probably for the last time of all, to see the Princess Charlotte and
Prince Leopold. From this beatific vision she returned with the same
admiration as ever for the fine comely appearance of the Duke of York
and the rest of the family, and great delight at having had a near
view of the Princess, whom she speaks of with smiling pomp and lifted
mittens, clasping them as passionately as she can together, and
calling her, in a transport of mixed loyalty and self-love, a fine
royal young creature, and "Daughter of England."

    _Leigh Hunt._


Must be considered as young, or else she has married the butcher, the
butler, or _her cousin_, or has otherwise settled into a character
distinct from her original one, so as to become what is properly
called the domestic. The Maid-servant, in her apparel, is either
slovenly and fine by turns, and dirty always; or she is at all times
snug and neat, and dressed according to her station. In the latter
case, her ordinary dress is black stockings, a stuff gown, a cap, and
a neck-handkerchief pinned cornerwise behind. If you want a pin, she
just feels about her, and has always one to give you. On Sundays and
holidays, and perhaps of afternoons, she changes her black stockings
for white, puts on a gown of better texture and fine pattern, sets her
cap and her curls jauntily, and lays aside the neck-handkerchief for a
high-body, which, by the way, is not half so pretty. There is
something very warm and latent in the handkerchief--something easy,
vital, and genial. A woman in a high-bodied gown, made to fit her like
a case, is by no means more modest, and is much less tempting. She
looks like a figure at the head of a ship. We could almost see her
chucked out of doors into a cart, with as little remorse as a couple
of sugar-loaves. The tucker is much better, as well as the
handkerchief, and is to the other what the young lady is to the
servant. The one always reminds us of the Sparkler in Sir Richard
Steele; the other of Fanny in "Joseph Andrews."

[Footnote 51: In some respects, particularly of costume, this portrait
must be understood of originals existing twenty or thirty years ago.]

But to return. The general furniture of her ordinary room, the
kitchen, is not so much her own as her Master's and Mistress's, and
need not be described: but in a drawer of the dresser or the table, in
company with a duster and a pair of snuffers, may be found some of her
property, such as a brass thimble, a pair of scissors, a thread-case,
a piece of wax much wrinkled with the thread, an odd volume of
"Pamela," and perhaps a sixpenny play, such as "George Barnwell," or
Mrs. Behn's "Oroonoko." There is a piece of looking-glass in the
window. The rest of her furniture is in the garret, where you may find
a good looking-glass on the table, and in the window a Bible, a comb,
and a piece of soap. Here stands also, under stout lock and key, the
mighty mystery,--the box,--containing, among other things, her
clothes, two or three song-books, consisting of nineteen for the
penny; sundry Tragedies at a halfpenny the sheet; the "Whole Nature of
Dreams Laid Open," together with the "Fortune-teller" and the "Account
of the Ghost of Mrs. Veal;" the "Story of the Beautiful Zoa" "who was
cast away on a desart island, showing how," etc.; some half-crowns in
a purse, including pieces of country-money, with the good Countess of
Coventry on one of them, riding naked on the horse; a silver penny
wrapped up in cotton by itself; a crooked sixpence, given her before
she came to town, and the giver of which has either forgotten or been
forgotten by her, she is not sure which;--two little enamel boxes,
with looking-glass in the lids, one of them a fairing, the other "a
Trifle from Margate;" and lastly, various letters, square and ragged,
and directed in all sorts of spellings, chiefly with little letters
for capitals. One of them, written by a girl who went to a day-school,
is directed "Miss."

In her manners, the Maid-servant sometimes imitates her young
mistress; she puts her hair in papers, cultivates a shape, and
occasionally contrives to be out of spirits. But her own character and
condition overcome all sophistications of this sort: her shape,
fortified by the mop and scrubbing-brush, will make its way; and
exercise keeps her healthy and cheerful. From the same cause her
temper is good; though she gets into little heats when a stranger is
over-saucy, or when she is told not to go so heavily down stairs, or
when some unthinking person goes up her wet stairs with dirty
shoes,--or when she is called away often from dinner; neither does she
much like to be seen scrubbing the street-door steps of a morning; and
sometimes she catches herself saying, "Drat that butcher," but
immediately adds, "God forgive me." The tradesmen indeed, with their
compliments and arch looks, seldom give her cause to complain. The
milkman bespeaks her good-humour for the day with "Come, pretty
maids:"--then follow the butcher, the baker, the oilman, etc., all
with their several smirks and little loiterings; and when she goes to
the shops herself, it is for her the grocer pulls down his string from
its roller with more than the ordinary whirl, and tosses his parcel
into a tie.

Thus pass the mornings between working, and singing, and giggling, and
grumbling, and being flattered. If she takes any pleasure unconnected
with her office before the afternoon, it is when she runs up the
area-steps or to the door to hear and purchase a new song, or to see a
troop of soldiers go by; or when she happens to thrust her head out of
a chamber window at the same time with a servant at the next house,
when a dialogue infallibly ensues, stimulated by the imaginary
obstacles between. If the Maid-servant is wise, the best part of her
work is done by dinner-time; and nothing else is necessary to give
perfect zest to the meal. She tells us what she thinks of it, when she
calls it "a bit o' dinner." There is the same sort of eloquence in her
other phrase, "a cup o' tea;" but the old ones, and the washerwomen,
beat her at that. After tea in great houses, she goes with the other
servants to hot cockles, or What-are-my-thoughts-like, and tells Mr.
John to "have done then;" or if there is a ball given that night, they
throw open the doors, and make use of the music up stairs to dance by.
In smaller houses, she receives the visits of her aforesaid cousin;
and sits down alone, or with a fellow maid-servant, to work; talks of
her young master or mistress and Mr. Ivins (Evans); or else she calls
to mind her own friends in the country; where she thinks the cows and
"all that" beautiful, now she is away. Meanwhile, if she is lazy, she
snuffs the candle with her scissors; or if she has eaten more heartily
than usual, she sighs double the usual number of times, and thinks
that tender hearts were born to be unhappy.

Such being the Maid-servant's life in-doors, she scorns, when abroad,
to be anything but a creature of sheer enjoyment. The Maid-servant,
the sailor, and the schoolboy, are the three beings that enjoy a
holiday beyond all the rest of the world;--and all for the same
reason,--because their inexperience, peculiarity of life, and habit of
being with persons of circumstances or thoughts above them, give them
all, in their way, a cast of the romantic. The most active of the
money-getters is a vegetable compared with them. The Maid-servant when
she first goes to Vauxhall, thinks she is in heaven. A theatre is all
pleasure to her, whatever is going forward, whether the play or the
music, or the waiting which makes others impatient, or the munching of
apples and gingerbread, which she and her party commence almost as
soon as they have seated themselves. She prefers tragedy to comedy,
because it is grander, and less like what she meets with in general;
and because she thinks it more in earnest also, especially in the
love-scenes. Her favourite play is "Alexander the Great, or the Rival
Queens." Another great delight is in going a shopping. She loves to
look at the pictures in the windows, and the fine things labelled with
those corpulent numerals of "only 7_s._"--"only 6_s._ 6_d._" She has
also, unless born and bred in London, been to see my Lord Mayor, the
fine people coming out of Court, and the "beasties" in the Tower; and
at all events she has been to Astley's and the Circus, from which she
comes away, equally smitten with the rider, and sore with laughing at
the clown. But it is difficult to say what pleasure she enjoys most.
One of the completest of all is the fair, where she walks through an
endless round of noise, and toys, and gallant apprentices, and
wonders. Here she is invited in by courteous and well-dressed people,
as if she were a mistress. Here also is the conjuror's booth, where
the operator himself, a most stately and genteel person all in white,
calls her Ma'am; and says to John by her side, in spite of his laced
hat, "Be good enough, sir, to hand the card to the lady."

Ah! may her "cousin" turn out as true as he says he is; or may she get
home soon enough and smiling enough to be as happy again next time.

    _Leigh Hunt._


The healthy know not of their health, but only the sick: this is the
Physician's Aphorism; and applicable in a far wider sense than he
gives it. We may say, it holds no less in moral, intellectual,
political, poetical, than in merely corporeal therapeutics; that
wherever, or in what shape soever, powers of the sort which can be
named _vital_ are at work, herein lies the test of their working right
or working wrong.

In the Body, for example, as all doctors are agreed, the first
condition of complete health is, that each organ perform its function
unconsciously, unheeded; let but any organ announce its separate
existence, were it even boastfully, and for pleasure, not for pain,
then already has one of those unfortunate "false centres of
sensibility" established itself, already is derangement there. The
perfection of bodily wellbeing is, that the collective bodily
activities seem one; and be manifested, moreover, not in themselves,
but in the action they accomplish. If a Dr. Kitchiner boast that his
system is in high order, Dietetic Philosophy may indeed take credit;
but the true Peptician was that Countryman who answered that, "for his
part, he had no system." In fact, unity, agreement is always silent,
or soft-voiced; it is only discord that loudly proclaims itself. So
long as the several elements of Life, all fitly adjusted, can pour
forth their movement like harmonious tuned strings, it is a melody and
unison; Life, from its mysterious fountains, flows out as in celestial
music and diapason,--which also, like that other music of the spheres,
even because it is perennial and complete, without interruption and
without imperfection, might be fabled to escape the ear. Thus too, in
some languages, is the state of health well denoted by a term
expressing unity; when we feel ourselves as we wish to be, we say that
we are _whole_.

Few mortals, it is to be feared, are permanently blessed with that
felicity of "having no system;" nevertheless, most of us, looking back
on young years, may remember seasons of a light, aërial translucency
and elasticity and perfect freedom; the body had not yet become the
prison-house of the soul, but was its vehicle and implement, like a
creature of the thought, and altogether pliant to its bidding. We knew
not that we had limbs, we only lifted, hurled and leapt: through eye
and ear, and all avenues of sense, came clear unimpeded tidings from
without, and from within issued clear victorious force; we stood as in
the centre of Nature, giving and receiving, in harmony with it all;
unlike Virgil's Husbandmen, "too happy _because_ we did not know our
blessedness." In those days, health and sickness were foreign
traditions that did not concern us; our whole being was as yet One,
the whole man like an incorporated Will. Such, were Rest or
ever-successful Labour the human lot, might our life continue to be: a
pure, perpetual, unregarded music; a beam of perfect white light,
rendering all things visible, but itself unseen, even because it was
of that perfect whiteness, and no irregular obstruction had yet broken
it into colours. The beginning of Inquiry is Disease: all Science, if
we consider well, as it must have originated in the feeling of
something being wrong, so it is and continues to be but Division,
Dismemberment, and partial healing of the wrong. Thus, as was of old
written, the Tree of Knowledge springs from a root of evil, and bears
fruits of good and evil. Had Adam remained in Paradise, there had been
no Anatomy and no Metaphysics.

But, alas, as the Philosopher declares, "Life itself is a disease; a
working incited by suffering;" action from passion! The memory of that
first state of Freedom and paradisaic Unconsciousness has faded away
into an ideal poetic dream. We stand here too conscious of many
things: with Knowledge, the symptom of Derangement, we must even do
our best to restore a little Order. Life is, in few instances, and at
rare intervals, the diapason of a heavenly melody; oftenest the fierce
jar of disruptions and convulsions, which, do what we will, there is
no disregarding. Nevertheless, such is still the wish of Nature on our
behalf; in all vital action, her manifest purpose and effort is, that
we should be unconscious of it, and, like the peptic Countryman, never
know that we "have a system." For indeed vital action everywhere is
emphatically a means, not an end; Life is not given us for the mere
sake of Living, but always with an ulterior external Aim: neither is
it on the process, on the means, but rather on the result, that
Nature, in any of her doings, is wont to entrust us with insight and
volition. Boundless as is the domain of man, it is but a small
fractional proportion of it that he rules with Consciousness and by
Forethought: what he can contrive, nay what he can altogether know and
comprehend, is essentially the mechanical, small; the great is ever,
in one sense or other, the vital; it is essentially the mysterious,
and only the surface of it can be understood. But Nature, it might
seem, strives, like a kind mother, to hide from us even this, that she
is a mystery: she will have us rest on her beautiful and awful bosom
as if it were our secure home; on the bottomless boundless Deep,
whereon all human things fearfully and wonderfully swim, she will have
us walk and build, as if the film which supported us there (which any
scratch of a bare bodkin will rend asunder, any sputter of a
pistol-shot instantaneously burn up) were no film, but a solid
rock-foundation. Forever in the neighbourhood of an inevitable Death,
man can forget that he is born to die; of his Life, which, strictly
meditated, contains in it an Immensity and an Eternity, he can
conceive lightly, as of a simple implement wherewith to do day-labour
and earn wages. So cunningly does Nature, the mother of all highest
Art, which only apes her from afar, body forth the Finite from the
Infinite; and guide man safe on his wondrous path, not more by
endowing him with vision, than, at the right place, with blindness!
Under all her works, chiefly under her noblest work, Life, lies a
basis of Darkness, which she benignantly conceals; in Life too, the
roots and inward circulations which stretch down fearfully to the
regions of Death and Night, shall not hint of their existence, and
only the fair stem with its leaves and flowers, shone on by the fair
sun, shall disclose itself, and joyfully grow.

However, without venturing into the abstruse, or too eagerly asking
Why and How, in things where our answer must needs prove, in great
part, an echo of the question, let us be content to remark farther, in
the merely historical way, how that Aphorism of the bodily Physician
holds good in quite other departments. Of the Soul, with her
activities, we shall find it no less true than of the Body: nay, cry
the Spiritualists, is not that very division of the unity, Man, into a
dualism of Soul and Body, itself the symptom of disease; as, perhaps,
your frightful theory of Materialism, of his being but a Body, and
therefore, at least, once more a unity, may be the paroxysm which was
critical, and the beginning of cure! But omitting this, we observe,
with confidence enough, that the truly strong mind, view it as
Intellect, as Morality, or under any other aspect, is nowise the mind
acquainted with its strength; that here as before the sign of health
is Unconsciousness. In our inward, as in our outward world, what is
mechanical lies open to us: not what is dynamical and has vitality. Of
our Thinking, we might say, it is but the mere upper surface that we
shape into articulate Thoughts;--underneath the region of argument and
conscious discourse, lies the region of meditation; here, in its quiet
mysterious depths, dwells what vital force is in us; here, if aught is
to be created, and not merely manufactured and communicated, must the
work go on. Manufacture is intelligible, but trivial; Creation is
great, and cannot be understood. Thus if the Debater and Demonstrator,
whom we may rank as the lowest of true thinkers, knows what he has
done, and how he did it, the Artist, whom we rank as the highest,
knows not; must speak of Inspiration, and in one or the other dialect,
call his work the gift of a divinity.

But on the whole, "genius is ever a secret to itself;" of this old
truth we have, on all sides, daily evidence. The Shakspeare takes no
airs for writing _Hamlet_ and the _Tempest_, understands not that it
is anything surprising: Milton, again, is more conscious of his
faculty, which accordingly is an inferior one. On the other hand, what
cackling and strutting must we not often hear and see, when, in some
shape of academical prolusion, maiden speech, review article, this or
the other well-fledged goose has produced its goose-egg, of quite
measurable value, were it the pink of its whole kind; and wonders why
all mortals do not wonder!

Foolish enough, too, was the College Tutor's surprise at Walter
Shandy: how, though unread in Aristotle, he could nevertheless argue;
and not knowing the name of any dialectic tool, handled them all to
perfection. Is it the skilfullest anatomist that cuts the best figure
at Sadler's Wells? Or does the boxer hit better for knowing that he
has a _flexor longus_ and a _flexor brevis_? But indeed, as in the
higher case of the Poet, so here in that of the Speaker and Inquirer,
the true force is an unconscious one. The healthy Understanding, we
should say, is not the Logical, argumentative, but the Intuitive; for
the end of Understanding is not to prove and find reasons, but to know
and believe. Of logic, and its limits, and uses and abuses, there were
much to be said and examined; one fact, however, which chiefly
concerns us here, has long been familiar: that the man of logic and
the man of insight; the Reasoner and the Discoverer, or even Knower,
are quite separable,--indeed, for most part, quite separate
characters. In practical matters, for example, has it not become
almost proverbial that the man of logic cannot prosper? This is he
whom business-people call Systematic and Theoriser and Word-monger;
his _vital_ intellectual force lies dormant or extinct, his whole
force is mechanical, conscious: of such a one it is foreseen that,
when once confronted with the infinite complexities of the real world,
his little compact theorem of the world will be found wanting; that
unless he can throw it overboard, and become a new creature, he will
necessarily founder. Nay, in mere Speculation itself, the most
ineffectual of all characters, generally speaking, is your dialectic
man-at-arms; were he armed cap-a-pie in syllogistic mail of proof, and
perfect master of logic-fence, how little does it avail him! Consider
the old Schoolmen, and their pilgrimage towards Truth: the
faithfullest endeavour, incessant unwearied motion, often great
natural vigour; only no progress: nothing but antic feats of one limb
poised against the other; there they balanced, somersetted and made
postures; at best gyrated swiftly, with some pleasure, like Spinning
Dervishes, and ended where they began. So is it, so will it always be,
with all System-makers and builders of logical card-castles; of which
class a certain remnant must, in every age, as they do in our own,
survive and build. Logic is good, but it is not the best. The
Irrefragable Doctor, with his chains of induction, his corollaries,
dilemmas and other cunning logical diagrams and apparatus, will cast
you a beautiful horoscope, and speak reasonable things; nevertheless
your stolen jewel, which you wanted him to find you, is not
forthcoming. Often by some winged word, winged as the thunderbolt is,
of a Luther, a Napoleon, a Goethe, shall we see the difficulty split
asunder, and its secret laid bare; while the Irrefragable, with all
his logical tools, hews at it, and hovers round it, and finds it on
all hands too hard for him.

Again, in the difference between Oratory and Rhetoric, as indeed
everywhere in that superiority of what is called the Natural over the
Artificial, we find a similar illustration. The Orator persuades and
carries all with him, he knows not how; the Rhetorician can prove that
he ought to have persuaded and carried all with him: the one is in a
state of healthy unconsciousness, as if he "had no system;" the other,
in virtue of regimen and dietetic punctuality, feels at best that "his
system is in high order." So stands it, in short, with all the forms
of Intellect, whether as directed to the finding of truth, or to the
fit imparting thereof: to Poetry, to Eloquence, to depth of Insight,
which is the basis of both these; always the characteristic of right
performance is a certain spontaneity, an unconsciousness; "the healthy
know not of their health, but only the sick." So that the old precept
of the critic, as crabbed as it looked to his ambitious disciple,
might contain in it a most fundamental truth, applicable to us all,
and in much else than Literature: "Whenever you have written any
sentence that looks particularly excellent, be sure to blot it out."
In like manner, under milder phraseology, and with a meaning purposely
much wider, a living Thinker has taught us: "Of the Wrong we are
always conscious, of the Right never."

But if such is the law with regard to Speculation and the Intellectual
power of man, much more is it with regard to Conduct, and the power,
manifested chiefly therein, which we name Moral. "Let not thy left
hand know what thy right hand doeth:" whisper not to thy own heart,
How worthy is this action; for then it is already becoming worthless.
The good man is he who _works_ continually in welldoing; to whom
welldoing is as his natural existence, awakening no astonishment,
requiring no commentary; but there, like a thing of course, and as if
it could not but be so. Self-contemplation, on the other hand, is
infallibly the symptom of disease, be it or be it not the sign of
cure. An unhealthy Virtue is one that consumes itself to leanness in
repenting and anxiety; or, still worse, that inflates itself into
dropsical boastfulness and vain-glory: either way, there is a
self-seeking; an unprofitable looking behind us to measure the way we
have made: whereas the sole concern is to walk continually forward,
and make more way. If in any sphere of man's life, then in the Moral
sphere, as the inmost and most vital of all, it is good that there be
wholeness; that there be unconsciousness, which is the evidence of
this. Let the free, reasonable Will, which dwells in us, as in our
Holy of Holies, be indeed free, and obeyed like a Divinity, as is its
right and its effort: the perfect obedience will be the silent one.
Such perhaps were the sense of that maxim, enunciating, as is usual,
but the half of a truth: To say that we have a clear conscience, is to
utter a solecism; had we never sinned, we should have had no
conscience. Were defeat unknown, neither would victory be celebrated
by songs of triumph.

This, true enough, is an ideal, impossible state of being; yet ever
the goal towards which our actual state of being strives; which it is
the more perfect the nearer it can approach. Nor, in our actual world,
where Labour must often prove _in_effectual, and thus in all senses
Light alternate with Darkness, and the nature of an ideal Morality be
much modified, is the case, thus far, materially different. It is a
fact which escapes no one, that, generally speaking, whoso is
acquainted with his worth has but a little stock to cultivate
acquaintance with. Above all, the public acknowledgment of such
acquaintance, indicating that it has reached quite an intimate
footing, bodes ill. Already, to the popular judgment, he who talks
much about Virtue in the abstract, begins to be suspect; it is
shrewdly guessed that where there is a great preaching, there will be
little almsgiving. Or again, on a wider scale, we can remark that ages
of Heroism are not ages of Moral Philosophy; Virtue, when it can be
philosophised of, has become aware of itself, is sickly and beginning
to decline. A spontaneous habitual all-pervading spirit of Chivalrous
Valour shrinks together, and perks itself up into shrivelled Points of
Honour; humane Courtesy and Nobleness of mind dwindle into punctilious
Politeness, "avoiding meats;" "paying tithe of mint and anise,
neglecting the weightier matters of the law." Goodness, which was a
rule to itself, must now appeal to Precept, and seek strength from
Sanctions; the Freewill no longer reigns unquestioned and by divine
right, but like a mere earthly sovereign, by expediency, by Rewards
and Punishments: or rather, let us say, the Freewill, so far as may
be, has abdicated and withdrawn into the dark, and a spectral
nightmare of a Necessity usurps its throne; for now that mysterious
Self-impulse of the whole man, heaven-inspired, and in all senses
partaking of the Infinite, being captiously questioned in a finite
dialect, and answering, as it needs must, by silence,--is conceived as
non-extant, and only the outward Mechanism of it remains acknowledged:
of Volition, except as the synonym of Desire, we hear nothing; of
"Motives," without any Mover, more than enough.

So too, when the generous Affections have become well-nigh paralytic,
we have the reign of Sentimentality. The greatness, the
profitableness, at any rate the extremely ornamental nature of
high feeling, and the luxury of doing good; charity, love,
self-forgetfulness, devotedness and all manner of godlike
magnanimity,--are everywhere insisted on, and pressingly inculcated in
speech and writing, in prose and verse; Socinian Preachers proclaim
"Benevolence" to all the four winds, and have TRUTH engraved on their
watch-seals: unhappily with little or no effect. Were the limbs in
right walking order, why so much demonstrating of motion? The
barrenest of all mortals is the Sentimentalist. Granting even that he
were sincere, and did not wilfully deceive us, or without first
deceiving himself, what good is in him? Does he not lie there as a
perpetual lesson of despair, and type of bedrid valetudinarian
impotence? His is emphatically a Virtue that has become, through every
fibre, conscious of itself; it is all sick, and feels as if it were
made of glass, and durst not touch or be touched: in the shape of
work, it can do nothing; at the utmost, by incessant nursing and
caudling, keeps itself alive. As the last stage of all, when Virtue,
properly so called, has ceased to be practised, and become extinct,
and a mere remembrance, we have the era of Sophists, descanting of its
existence, proving it, denying it, mechanically "accounting" for
it;--as dissectors and demonstrators cannot operate till once the body
be dead.

Thus is true Moral genius, like true Intellectual, which indeed is but
a lower phasis thereof, "ever a secret to itself." The healthy moral
nature loves Goodness, and without wonder wholly lives in it: the
unhealthy makes love to it, and would fain get to live in it; or,
finding such courtship fruitless, turns round, and not without
contempt abandons it. These curious relations of the Voluntary and
Conscious to the Involuntary and Unconscious, and the small proportion
which, in all departments of our life, the former bears to the
latter,--might lead us into deep questions of Psychology and
Physiology: such, however, belong not to our present object. Enough,
if the fact itself become apparent, that Nature so meant it with us;
that in this wise we are made. We may now say, that view man's
individual Existence under what aspect we will, under the highest
spiritual, as under the merely animal aspect, everywhere the grand
vital energy, while in its sound state, is an unseen unconscious one;
or, in the words of our old Aphorism, "the healthy know not of their
health, but only the sick."

*       *       *       *       *

To understand man, however, we must look beyond the individual man and
his actions or interests, and view him in combination with his
fellows. It is in Society that man first feels what he is; first
becomes what he can be. In Society an altogether new set of spiritual
activities are evolved in him, and the old immeasurably quickened and
strengthened. Society is the genial element wherein his nature first
lives and grows; the solitary man were but a small portion of himself,
and must continue forever folded in, stunted and only half alive.
"Already," says a deep Thinker, with more meaning than will disclose
itself at once, "my opinion, my conviction, gains _infinitely_ in
strength and sureness, the moment a second mind has adopted it." Such,
even in its simplest form, is association; so wondrous the communion
of soul with soul as directed to the mere act of Knowing! In other
higher acts, the wonder is still more manifest; as in that portion of
our being which we name the Moral: for properly, indeed, all communion
is of a moral sort, whereof such intellectual communion (in the act of
knowing) is itself an example. But with regard to Morals strictly so
called, it is in Society, we might almost say, that Morality begins;
here at least it takes an altogether new form, and on every side, as
in living growth, expands itself. The Duties of Man to himself, to
what is Highest in himself, make but the First Table of the Law: to
the First Table is now superadded a Second, with the Duties of Man to
his Neighbour; whereby also the significance of the First now assumes
its true importance. Man has joined himself with man; soul acts and
reacts on soul; a mystic miraculous unfathomable Union establishes
itself; Life, in all its elements, has become intensated, consecrated.
The lightning-spark of Thought, generated, or say rather
heaven-kindled, in the solitary mind, awakens its express likeness in
another mind, in a thousand other minds, and all blaze up together in
combined fire; reverberated from mind to mind, fed also with fresh
fuel in each, it acquires incalculable new light as Thought,
incalculable new heat as converted into Action. By and by, a common
store of Thought can accumulate, and be transmitted as an everlasting
possession: Literature, whether as preserved in the memory of Bards,
in Runes and Hieroglyphs engraved on stone, or in Books of written or
printed paper, comes into existence, and begins to play its wondrous
part. Polities are formed; the weak submitting to the strong; with a
willing loyalty, giving obedience that he may receive guidance: or say
rather, in honour of our nature, the ignorant submitting to the wise;
for so it is in all even the rudest communities, man never yields
himself wholly to brute Force, but always to moral Greatness; thus the
universal title of respect, from the Oriental _Sheik_, from the
_Sachem_ of the Red Indians, down to our English _Sir_, implies only
that he whom we mean to honour is our _senior_. Last, as the crown and
all-supporting keystone of the fabric, Religion arises. The devout
meditation of the isolated man, which flitted through his soul, like a
transient tone of Love and Awe from unknown lands, acquires certainty,
continuance, when it is shared-in by his brother men. "Where two or
three are gathered together" in the name of the Highest, then first
does the Highest, as it is written, "appear among them to bless them;"
then first does an Altar and act of united Worship open a way from
Earth to Heaven; whereon, were it but a simple Jacob's-ladder, the
heavenly Messengers will travel, with glad tidings and unspeakable
gifts for men. Such is Society, the vital articulation of many
individuals into a new collective individual: greatly the most
important of man's attainments on this earth; that in which, and by
virtue of which, all his other attainments and attempts find their
arena, and have their value. Considered well, Society is the standing
wonder of our existence; a true region of the Supernatural; as it
were, a second all-embracing Life, wherein our first individual Life
becomes doubly and trebly alive, and whatever of Infinitude was in us
bodies itself forth, and becomes visible and active.

To figure Society as endowed with life is scarcely a metaphor; but
rather the statement of a fact by such imperfect methods as language
affords. Look at it closely, that mystic Union, Nature's highest work
with man, wherein man's volition plays an indispensable yet so
subordinate a part, and the small Mechanical grows so mysteriously and
indissolubly out of the infinite Dynamical, like Body out of
Spirit,--is truly enough vital, what we can call vital, and bears the
distinguishing character of life. In the same style also, we can say
that Society has its periods of sickness and vigour, of youth,
manhood, decrepitude, dissolution and new-birth; in one or other of
which stages we may, in all times, and all places where men inhabit,
discern it; and do ourselves, in this time and place, whether as
coöperating or as contending, as healthy members or as diseased ones,
to our joy and sorrow, form part of it. The question, What is the
actual condition of Society? has in these days unhappily become
important enough. No one of us is unconcerned in that question; but
for the majority of thinking men a true answer to it, such is the
state of matters, appears almost as the one thing needful. Meanwhile,
as the true answer, that is to say, the complete and fundamental
answer and settlement, often as it has been demanded, is nowhere
forthcoming, and indeed by its nature is impossible, any honest
approximation towards such is not without value. The feeblest light,
or even so much as a more precise recognition of the darkness, which
is the first step to attainment of light, will be welcome.

This once understood, let it not seem idle if we remark that here too
our old Aphorism holds; that again in the Body Politic, as in the
animal body, the sign of right performance is Unconsciousness. Such
indeed is virtually the meaning of that phrase, "artificial state of
society," as contrasted with the natural state, and indicating
something so inferior to it. For, in all vital things, men distinguish
an Artificial and a Natural; founding on some dim perception or
sentiment of the very truth we here insist on: the artificial is the
conscious, mechanical; the natural is the unconscious, dynamical.
Thus, as we have an artificial Poetry, and prize only the natural; so
likewise we have an artificial Morality, an artificial Wisdom, an
artificial Society. The artificial Society is precisely one that knows
its own structure, its own internal functions; not in watching, not in
knowing which, but in working outwardly to the fulfilment of its aim,
does the wellbeing of a Society consist. Every Society, every Polity,
has a spiritual principle; is the embodiment, tentative and more or
less complete, of an Idea: all its tendencies of endeavour,
specialties of custom, its laws, politics and whole procedure (as the
glance of some Montesquieu, across innumerable superficial
entanglements, can partly decipher), are prescribed by an Idea, and
flow naturally from it, as movements from the living source of motion.
This Idea, be it of devotion to a man or class of men, to a creed, to
an institution, or even, as in more ancient times, to a piece of land,
is ever a true Loyalty; has in it something of a religious, paramount,
quite infinite character; it is properly the Soul of the State, its
Life; mysterious as other forms of Life, and like these working
secretly, and in a depth beyond that of consciousness.

Accordingly, it is not in the vigorous ages of a Roman Republic that
Treatises of the Commonwealth are written: while the Decii are rushing
with devoted bodies on the enemies of Rome, what need of preaching
Patriotism? The virtue of Patriotism has already sunk from its
pristine all-transcendant condition, before it has received a name. So
long as the Commonwealth continues rightly athletic, it cares not to
dabble in anatomy. Why teach obedience to the Sovereign; why so much
as admire it, or separately recognise it, while a divine idea of
Obedience perennially inspires all men? Loyalty, like Patriotism, of
which it is a form, was not praised till it had begun to decline; the
_Preux Chevaliers_ first became rightly admirable, when "dying for
their king" had ceased to be a habit with chevaliers. For if the
mystic significance of the State, let this be what it may, dwells
vitally in every heart, encircles every life as with a second higher
life, how should it stand self-questioning? It must rush outward, and
express itself by works. Besides, if perfect, it is there as by
necessity, and does not excite inquiry: it is also by nature infinite,
has no limits; therefore can be circumscribed by no conditions and
definitions; cannot be reasoned of; except _musically_, or in the
language of Poetry, cannot yet so much as be spoken of.

In those days, Society was what we name healthy, sound at heart. Not
indeed without suffering enough; not without perplexities, difficulty
on every side: for such is the appointment of man; his highest and
sole blessedness is, that he toil, and know what to toil at: not in
ease, but in united victorious labour, which is at once evil and the
victory over evil, does his Freedom lie. Nay, often, looking no deeper
than such superficial perplexities of the early Time, historians have
taught us that it was all one mass of contradiction and disease; and
in the antique Republic, or feudal Monarchy, have seen only the
confused chaotic quarry, not the robust labourer, or the stately
edifice he was building of it. If Society, in such ages, had its
difficulty, it had also its strength: if sorrowful masses of rubbish
so encumbered it, the tough sinews to hurl them aside, with
indomitable heart, were not wanting. Society went along without
complaint; did not stop to scrutinise itself, to say, How well I
perform, or, Alas, how ill! Men did not yet feel themselves to be "the
envy of surrounding nations;" and were enviable on that very account.
Society was what we can call _whole_, in both senses of the word. The
individual man was in himself a whole, or complete union; and could
combine with his fellows as the living member of a greater whole. For
all men, through their life, were animated by one great Idea; thus all
efforts pointed one way, everywhere there was _wholeness_. Opinion and
Action had not yet become disunited; but the former could still
produce the latter, or attempt to produce it; as the stamp does its
impression while the wax is not hardened. Thought, and the voice of
thought were also a unison; thus, instead of Speculation, we had
Poetry; Literature, in its rude utterance, was as yet a heroic Song,
perhaps too a devotional Anthem. Religion was everywhere; Philosophy
lay hid under it, peacefully included in it. Herein, as in the
life-centre of all, lay the true health and oneness. Only at a later
era must Religion split itself into Philosophies; and thereby, the
vital union of Thought being lost, disunion and mutual collision in
all provinces of Speech and Action more and more prevail. For if the
Poet, or Priest, or by whatever title the inspired thinker may be
named, is the sign of vigour and well-being; so likewise is the
Logician, or uninspired thinker, the sign of disease, probably of
decrepitude and decay. Thus, not to mention other instances, one of
them much nearer hand,--so soon as Prophecy among the Hebrews had
ceased, then did the reign of Argumentation begin; and the ancient
Theocracy, in its Sadducecisms and Phariseeisms, and vain jangling of
sects and doctors, give token that the _soul_ of it had fled, and that
the _body_ itself, by natural dissolution, "with the old forces still
at work, but working in reverse order," was on the road to final

*       *       *       *       *

We might pursue this question into innumerable other ramifications;
and everywhere, under new shapes, find the same truth, which we here
so imperfectly enunciate, disclosed; that throughout the whole world
of man, in all manifestations and performances of his nature, outward
and inward, personal and social, the Perfect, the Great is a mystery
to itself, knows not itself; whatsoever does know itself is already
little, and more or less imperfect. Or otherwise, we may say,
Unconsciousness belongs to pure unmixed life; Consciousness to a
diseased mixture and conflict of life and death: Unconsciousness is
the sign of creation; Consciousness, at best, that of manufacture. So
deep, in this existence of ours, is the significance of Mystery. Well
might the Ancients make Silence a god; for it is the element of all
godhood, infinitude, or transcendental greatness; at once the source
and the ocean wherein all such begins and ends. In the same sense too,
have Poets sung "Hymns to the Night;" as if Night were nobler than
Day; as if Day were but a small motley-coloured veil spread
transiently over the infinite bosom of Night, and did but deform and
hide from us its purely transparent, eternal deeps. So likewise have
they spoken and sung as if Silence were the grand epitome and complete
sum-total of all Harmony; and Death, what mortals call Death, properly
the beginning of Life. Under such figures, since except in figures
there is no speaking of the Invisible, have men endeavoured to express
a great Truth;--a Truth, in our Times, as nearly as is perhaps
possible, forgotten by the most; which nevertheless continues forever
true, forever all-important, and will one day, under new figures, be
again brought home to the bosoms of all.

But indeed, in a far lower sense, the rudest mind has still some
intimation of the greatness there is in Mystery. If Silence was made a
god of by the Ancients, he still continues a government-clerk among us
Moderns. To all quacks, moreover, of what sort soever, the effect of
Mystery is well known: here and there some Cagliostro, even in latter
days, turns it to notable account: the blockhead also, who is
ambitious, and has no talent, finds sometimes in "the talent of
silence," a kind of succedaneum. Or again, looking on the opposite
side of the matter, do we not see, in the common understanding of
mankind, a certain distrust, a certain contempt of what is altogether
self-conscious and mechanical? As nothing that is wholly seen through
has other than a trivial character; so anything professing to be
great, and yet wholly to see through itself, is already known to be
false, and a failure. The evil repute your "theoretical men" stand in,
the acknowledged inefficiency of "paper constitutions," and all that
class of objects, are instances of this. Experience often repeated,
and perhaps a certain instinct of something far deeper that lies under
such experiences, has taught men so much. They know beforehand, that
the loud is generally the insignificant, the empty. Whatsoever can
proclaim itself from the house-tops may be fit for the hawker, and for
those multitudes that must needs buy of him; but for any deeper use,
might as well continue unproclaimed. Observe too, how the converse of
the proposition holds; how the insignificant, the empty, is usually
the loud; and, after the manner of a drum, is loud even because of its
emptiness. The uses of some Patent Dinner Calefactor can be bruited
abroad over the whole world in the course of the first winter; those
of the Printing Press are not so well seen into for the first three
centuries: the passing of the Select-Vestries Bill raises more noise
and hopeful expectancy among mankind than did the promulgation of the
Christian Religion. Again, and again, we say, the great, the creative
and enduring is ever a secret to itself; only the small, the barren
and transient is otherwise.

*       *       *       *       *

If we now, with a practical medical view, examine, by this same test
of Unconsciousness, the Condition of our own Era, and of man's Life
therein, the diagnosis we arrive at is nowise of a flattering sort.
The state of Society in our days is, of all possible states, the least
an unconscious one: this is specially the Era when all manner of
Inquiries into what was once the unfelt, involuntary sphere of man's
existence, find their place, and, as it were, occupy the whole domain
of thought. What, for example, is all this that we hear, for the last
generation or two, about the Improvement of the Age, the Spirit of the
Age, Destruction of Prejudice, Progress of the Species, and the March
of Intellect, but an unhealthy state of self-sentience, self-survey;
the precursor and prognostic of still worse health? That Intellect do
march, if possible at double-quick time, is very desirable;
nevertheless, why should she turn round at every stride, and cry: See
you what a stride I have taken! Such a marching of Intellect is
distinctly of the spavined kind; what the Jockeys call "all action and
no go." Or at best, if we examine well, it is the marching of that
gouty Patient, whom his Doctors had clapt on a metal floor
artificially heated to the searing point, so that he was obliged to
march, and did march with a vengeance--nowhither. Intellect did not
awaken for the first time yesterday; but has been under way from
Noah's Flood downwards: greatly her best progress, moreover, was in
the old times, when she said nothing about it. In those same "dark
ages," Intellect (metaphorically as well as literally) could invent
_glass_, which now she has enough ado to grind into _spectacles_.
Intellect built not only Churches, but a Church, _the_ Church, based
on this firm Earth, yet reaching up, and leading up, as high as
Heaven; and now it is all she can do to keep its doors bolted, that
there be no tearing of the Surplices, no robbery of the Alms-box. She
built a Senate-house likewise, glorious in its kind; and now it costs
her a well-nigh mortal effort to sweep it clear of vermin, and get the
roof made rain-tight.

But the truth is, with Intellect, as with most other things, we are
now passing from that first or boastful stage of Self-sentience into
the second or painful one: out of these often-asseverated declarations
that "our system is in high order," we come now, by natural sequence,
to the melancholy conviction that it is altogether the reverse. Thus,
for instance, in the matter of Government, the period of the
"Invaluable Constitution" must be followed by a Reform Bill; to
laudatory De Lolmes succeed objurgatory Benthams. At any rate, what
Treatises on the Social Contract, on the Elective Franchise, the
Rights of Man, the Rights of Property, Codifications, Institutions,
Constitutions, have we not, for long years, groaned under! Or again,
with a wider survey, consider those Essays on Man, Thoughts on Man,
Inquiries concerning Man; not to mention Evidences of the Christian
Faith, Theories of Poetry, Considerations on the Origin of Evil, which
during the last century have accumulated on us to a frightful extent.
Never since the beginning of Time was there, that we hear or read of,
so intensely self-conscious a Society. Our whole relations to the
Universe and to our fellow man have become an Inquiry, a Doubt;
nothing will go on of its own accord, and do its function quietly; but
all things must be probed into, the whole working of man's world be
anatomically studied. Alas, anatomically studied, that it may be
medically aided! Till at length indeed, we have come to such a pass,
that except in this same _medicine_, with its artifices and
appliances, few can so much as imagine any strength or hope to remain
for us. The whole Life of Society must now be carried on by drugs:
doctor after doctor appears with his nostrum, of Coöperative
Societies, Universal Suffrage, Cottage-and-Cow systems, Repression of
Population, Vote by Ballot. To such height has the dyspepsia of
Society reached; as indeed the constant grinding internal pain, or
from time to time the mad spasmodic throes, of all Society do
otherwise too mournfully indicate.

Far be it from us to attribute, as some unwise persons do, the disease
itself to this unhappy sensation that there is a disease! The
Encyclopedists did not produce the troubles of France; but the
troubles of France produced the Encyclopedists, and much else. The
Self-consciousness is the symptom merely; nay, it is also the attempt
towards cure. We record the fact, without special censure; not
wondering that Society should feel itself, and in all ways complain of
aches and twinges, for it has suffered enough. Napoleon was but a
Job's-comforter, when he told his wounded Staff-officer, twice
unhorsed by cannon-balls, and with half his limbs blown to pieces:
"_Vous vous écoutez trop!_"

On the outward, as it were Physical diseases of Society, it were
beside our purpose to insist here. These are diseases which he who
runs may read; and sorrow over, with or without hope. Wealth has
accumulated itself into masses; and Poverty, also in accumulation
enough, lies impassably separated from it; opposed, uncommunicating,
like forces in positive and negative poles. The gods of this lower
world sit aloft on glittering thrones, less happy than Epicurus's
gods, but as indolent, as impotent; while the boundless living chaos
of Ignorance and Hunger welters terrific, in its dark fury, under
their feet. How much among us might be likened to a whited sepulchre;
outwardly all pomp and strength; but inwardly full of horror and
despair and dead-men's bones! Iron highways, with their wains
firewinged, are uniting all ends of the firm Land; quays and moles,
with their innumerable stately fleets, tame the Ocean into our pliant
bearer of burdens; Labour's thousand arms, of sinew and of metal,
all-conquering everywhere, from the tops of the mountain down to the
depths of the mine and the caverns of the sea, ply unweariedly for the
service of man: yet man remains unserved. He has subdued this Planet,
his habitation and inheritance; yet reaps no profit from the victory.
Sad to look upon: in the highest stage of civilisation, nine-tenths of
mankind must struggle in the lowest battle of savage or even animal
man, the battle against Famine. Countries are rich, prosperous in all
manner of increase, beyond example: but the Men of those countries are
poor, needier than ever of all sustenance outward and inward; of
Belief, of Knowledge, of Money, of Food. The rule, _Sic vos non
vobis_, never altogether to be got rid of in men's Industry, now
presses with such incubus weight, that Industry must shake it off, or
utterly be strangled under it; and, alas, can as yet but gasp and
rave, and aimlessly struggle, like one in the final deliration. Thus
Change, or the inevitable approach of Change, is manifest everywhere.
In one Country we have seen lava-torrents of fever-frenzy envelop all
things; Government succeed Government, like the phantasms of a dying
brain. In another Country, we can even now see, in maddest
alternation, the Peasant governed by such guidance as this: To labour
earnestly one month in raising wheat, and the next month labour
earnestly in burning it. So that Society, were it not by nature
immortal, and its death ever a new-birth, might appear, as it does in
the eyes of some, to be sick to dissolution, and even now writhing in
its last agony. Sick enough we must admit it to be, with disease
enough, a whole nosology of diseases; wherein he perhaps is happiest
that is not called to prescribe as physician;--wherein, however, one
small piece of policy, that of summoning the Wisest in the
Commonwealth, by the sole method yet known or thought of, to come
together and with their whole soul consult for it, might, but for late
tedious experiences, have seemed unquestionable enough.

But leaving this, let us rather look within, into the Spiritual
condition of Society, and see what aspects and prospects offer
themselves there. For after all, it is there properly that the secret
and origin of the whole is to be sought: the Physical derangements of
Society are but the image and impress of its Spiritual; while the
heart continues sound, all other sickness is superficial, and
temporary. False Action is the fruit of false Speculation; let the
spirit of Society be free and strong, that is to say, let true
Principles inspire the members of Society, then neither can disorders
accumulate in its Practice; each disorder will be promptly, faithfully
inquired into, and remedied as it arises. But alas, with us the
Spiritual condition of Society is no less sickly than the Physical.
Examine man's internal world, in any of its social relations and
performances, here too all seems diseased self-consciousness,
collision and mutually-destructive struggle. Nothing acts from within
outwards in undivided healthy force; everything lies impotent, lamed,
its force turned inwards, and painfully "listens to itself."

To begin with our highest Spiritual function, with Religion, we might
ask, Whither has Religion now fled? Of Churches and their
establishments we here say nothing; nor of the unhappy domains of
Unbelief, and how innumerable men, blinded in their minds, must "live
without God in the world;" but, taking the fairest side of the matter,
we ask, What is the nature of that same Religion, which still lingers
in the hearts of the few who are called, and call themselves,
specially the Religious? Is it a healthy religion, vital, unconscious
of itself; that shines forth spontaneously in doing of the Work, or
even in preaching of the Word? Unhappily, no. Instead of heroic martyr
Conduct, and inspired and soul-inspiring Eloquence, whereby Religion
itself were brought home to our living bosoms, to live and reign
there, we have "Discourses on the Evidences," endeavouring, with
smallest result, to make it probable that such a thing as Religion
exists. The most enthusiastic Evangelicals do not preach a Gospel, but
keep describing how it should and might be preached: to awaken the
sacred fire of faith, as by a sacred contagion, is not their
endeavour; but, at most, to describe how Faith shows and acts, and
scientifically distinguish true Faith from false. Religion, like all
else, is conscious of itself, listens to itself; it becomes less and
less creative, vital; more and more mechanical. Considered as a whole,
the Christian Religion of late ages has been continually dissipating
itself into Metaphysics; and threatens now to disappear, as some
rivers do, in deserts of barren sand.

Of Literature, and its deep-seated, wide-spread maladies, why speak?
Literature is but a branch of Religion, and always participates in its
character: however, in our time, it is the only branch that still
shows any greenness; and, as some think, must one day become the main
stem. Now, apart from the subterranean and tartarean regions of
Literature;--leaving out of view the frightful, scandalous statistics
of Puffing, the mystery of Slander, Falsehood, Hatred and other
convulsion-work of rabid Imbecility, and all that has rendered
Literature on that side a perfect "Babylon the mother of
Abominations," in very deed making the world "drunk" with the wine of
her iniquity;--forgetting all this, let us look only to the regions of
the upper air; to such Literature as can be said to have some attempt
towards truth in it, some tone of music, and if it be not poetical, to
hold of the poetical. Among other characteristics, is not this
manifest enough: that it knows itself? Spontaneous devotedness to the
object, being wholly possessed by the object, what we can call
Inspiration, has well-nigh ceased to appear in Literature. Which
melodious Singer forgets that he is singing melodiously? We have not
the love of greatness, but the love of the love of greatness. Hence
infinite Affectations, Distractions; in every case inevitable Error.
Consider, for one example, this peculiarity of Modern Literature, the
sin that has been named View-hunting. In our elder writers, there are
no paintings of scenery for its own sake; no euphuistic gallantries
with Nature, but a constant heartlove for her, a constant dwelling in
communion with her. View-hunting, with so much else that is of kin to
it, first came decisively into action through the _Sorrows of Werter_;
which wonderful Performance, indeed, may in many senses be regarded as
the progenitor of all that has since become popular in Literature;
whereof, in so far as concerns spirit and tendency, it still offers
the most instructive image; for nowhere, except in its own country,
above all in the mind of its illustrious Author, has it yet fallen
wholly obsolete. Scarcely ever, till that late epoch, did any
worshipper of Nature become entirely aware that he was worshipping,
much to his own credit; and think of saying to himself: Come, let us
make a description! Intolerable enough: when every puny whipster draws
out his pencil, and insists on painting you a scene; so that the
instant you discern such a thing as "wavy outline," "mirror of the
lake," "stern headland," or the like, in any Book, you must timorously
hasten on; and scarcely the Author of Waverley himself can tempt you
not to skip.

Nay, is not the diseased self-conscious state of Literature disclosed
in this one fact, which lies so near us here, the prevalence of
Reviewing! Sterne's wish for a reader "that would give up the reins of
his imagination into his author's hands, and be pleased he knew not
why, and cared not wherefore," might lead him a long journey now.
Indeed, for our best class of readers, the chief pleasure, a very
stinted one, is this same knowing of the Why; which many a Kames and
Bossu has been, ineffectually enough, endeavouring to teach us: till
at last these also have laid down their trade; and now your Reviewer
is a mere _taster_; who tastes, and says, by the evidence of such
palate, such tongue, as he has got, It is good, It is bad. Was it thus
that the French carried out certain inferior creatures on their
Algerine Expedition, to taste the wells for them, and try whether they
were poisoned? Far be it from us to disparage our own craft, whereby
we have our living! Only we must note these things: that Reviewing
spreads with strange vigour; that such a man as Byron reckons the
Reviewer and the Poet equal; that at the last Leipzig Fair, there was
advertised a Review of Reviews. By and by it will be found that all
Literature has become one boundless self-devouring Review; and as in
London routs, we have to _do_ nothing, but only to _see_ others do
nothing.--Thus does Literature also, like a sick thing,
superabundantly "listen to itself."

No less is this unhealthy symptom manifest, if we cast a glance on our
Philosophy, on the character of our speculative Thinking. Nay already,
as above hinted, the mere existence and necessity of a Philosophy is
an evil. Man is sent hither not to question, but to work: "the end of
man," it was long ago written, "is an Action, not a Thought." In the
perfect state, all Thought were but the picture and inspiring symbol
of Action; Philosophy, except as Poetry and Religion, would have no
being. And yet how, in this imperfect state, can it be avoided, can it
be dispensed with? Man stands as in the centre of Nature; his fraction
of Time encircled by Eternity, his handbreadth of Space encircled by
Infinitude: how shall he forbear asking himself, What am I; and
Whence; and Whither? How too, except in slight partial hints, in kind
asseverations and assurances, such as a mother quiets her fretfully
inquisitive child with, shall he get answer to such inquiries?

The disease of Metaphysics, accordingly, is a perennial one. In all
ages, those questions of Death and Immortality, Origin of Evil,
Freedom and Necessity, must, under new forms, anew make their
appearance; ever, from time to time, must the attempt to shape for
ourselves some Theorem of the Universe be repeated. And ever
unsuccessfully: for what Theorem of the Infinite can the Finite render
complete? We, the whole species of Mankind, and our whole existence
and history, are but a floating speck in the illimitable ocean of the
All; yet _in_ that ocean; indissoluble portion thereof; partaking of
its infinite tendencies: borne this way and that by its deep-swelling
tides, and grand ocean currents;--of which what faintest chance is
there that we should ever exhaust the significance, ascertain the
goings and comings? A region of Doubt, therefore, hovers forever in
the background; in Action alone can we have certainty. Nay properly
Doubt is the indispensable inexhaustible material whereon Action
works, which Action has to fashion into Certainty and Reality; only on
a canvas of Darkness, such is man's way of being, could the
many-coloured picture of our Life paint itself and shine.

Thus if our eldest system of Metaphysics is as old as the _Book of
Genesis_, our latest is that of Mr. Thomas Hope, published only within
the current year. It is a chronic malady that of Metaphysics, as we
said, and perpetually recurs on us. At the utmost there is a better
and a worse in it; a stage of convalescence, and a stage of relapse
with new sickness: these forever succeed each other, as is the nature
of all Life-movement here below. The first, or convalescent stage, we
might also name that of Dogmatical or Constructive Metaphysics; when
the mind constructively endeavours to scheme out, and assert for
itself an actual Theorem of the Universe, and therewith for a time
rests satisfied. The second or sick stage might be called that of
Sceptical or Inquisitory Metaphysics; when the mind having widened its
sphere of vision, the existing Theorem of the Universe no longer
answers the phenomena, no longer yields contentment; but must be torn
in pieces, and certainty anew sought for in the endless realms of
denial. All Theologies and sacred Cosmogonies belong, in some measure,
to the first class; in all Pyrrhonism, from Pyrrho down to Hume and
the innumerable disciples of Hume, we have instances enough of the
second. In the former, so far as it affords satisfaction, a temporary
anodyne to doubt, an arena for wholesome action, there may be much
good; indeed in this case, it holds rather of Poetry than of
Metaphysics, might be called Inspiration rather than Speculation. The
latter is Metaphysics proper; a pure, unmixed, though from time to
time a necessary evil.

For truly, if we look into it, there is no more fruitless endeavour
than this same, which the Metaphysician proper toils in: to educe
Conviction out of Negation. How, by merely testing and rejecting what
is not, shall we ever attain knowledge of what is? Metaphysical
Speculation, as it begins in No or Nothingness, so it must needs end
in Nothingness; circulates and must circulate in endless vortices;
creating, swallowing--itself. Our being is made up of Light and
Darkness, the Light resting on the Darkness, and balancing it;
everywhere there is Dualism, Equipoise; a perpetual Contradiction
dwells in us: "where shall I place myself to escape from my own
shadow?" Consider it well, Metaphysics is the attempt of the mind to
rise above the mind; to environ, and shut in, or as we say,
_comprehend_ the mind. Hopeless struggle, for the wisest, as for the
foolishest! What strength of sinew, or athletic skill, will enable the
stoutest athlete to fold his own body in his arms, and, by lifting,
lift up _himself_? The Irish Saint swam the Channel "carrying his head
in his teeth;" but the feat has never been imitated.

That this is the age of Metaphysics, in the proper, or sceptical
Inquisitory sense; that there was a necessity for its being such an
age, we regard as our indubitable misfortune. From many causes, the
arena of free Activity has long been narrowing, that of sceptical
Inquiry becoming more and more universal, more and more perplexing.
The Thought conducts not to the Deed; but in boundless chaos,
self-devouring, engenders monstrosities, fantasms, fire-breathing
chimeras. Profitable Speculation were this: What is to be done; and
How is it to be done? But with us not so much as the What can be got
sight of. For some generations, all Philosophy has been a painful,
captious, hostile question towards everything in the Heaven above, and
in the Earth beneath: Why art thou there? Till at length it has come
to pass that the worth and authenticity of all things seems dubitable
or deniable: our best effort must be unproductively spent not in
working, but in ascertaining our mere Whereabout, and so much as
whether we are to work at all. Doubt, which, as was said, ever hangs
in the background of our world, has now become our middle-ground and
foreground; whereon, for the time, no fair Life-picture can be
painted, but only the dark air-canvas itself flow round us,
bewildering and benighting.

Nevertheless, doubt as we will, man is actually Here; not to ask
questions, but to do work: in this time, as in all times, it must be
the heaviest evil for him, if his faculty of Action lie dormant, and
only that of sceptical Inquiry exert itself. Accordingly, whoever
looks abroad upon the world, comparing the Past with the Present, may
find that the practical condition of man in these days is one of the
saddest; burdened with miseries which are in a considerable degree
peculiar. In no time was man's life what he calls a happy one; in no
time can it be so. A perpetual dream there has been of Paradises, and
some luxurious Lubberland, where the brooks should run wine, and the
trees bend with ready-baked viands; but it was a dream merely; an
impossible dream. Suffering, contradiction, error, have their quite
perennial, and even indispensable abode in this Earth. Is not labour
the inheritance of man? And what labour for the present is joyous, and
not grievous? Labour, effort, is the very interruption of that ease,
which man foolishly enough fancies to be his happiness; and yet
without labour there were no ease, no rest, so much as conceivable.
Thus Evil, what we call Evil, must ever exist while man exists: Evil,
in the widest sense we can give it, is precisely the dark, disordered
material out of which man's Freewill has to create an edifice of order
and Good. Ever must Pain urge us to Labour; and only in free Effort
can any blessedness be imagined for us.

But if man has, in all ages, had enough to encounter, there has, in
most civilised ages, been an inward force vouchsafed him, whereby the
pressure of things outward might be withstood. Obstruction abounded;
but Faith also was not wanting. It is by Faith that man removes
mountains: while he had Faith, his limbs might be wearied with
toiling, his back galled with bearing; but the heart within him was
peaceable and resolved. In the thickest gloom there burnt a lamp to
guide him. If he struggled and suffered, he felt that it even should
be so; knew for what he was suffering and struggling. Faith gave him
an inward Willingness; a world of Strength wherewith to front a world
of Difficulty. The true wretchedness lies here: that the Difficulty
remain and the Strength be lost; that Pain cannot relieve itself in
free Effort; that we have the Labour, and want the Willingness. Faith
strengthens us, enlightens us, for all endeavours and endurances; with
Faith we can do all, and dare all, and life itself has a thousand
times been joyfully given away. But the sum of man's misery is even
this, that he feel himself crushed under the Juggernaut wheels, and
know that Juggernaut is no divinity, but a dead mechanical idol.

Now this is specially the misery which has fallen on man in our Era.
Belief, Faith has well-nigh vanished from the world. The youth on
awakening in this wondrous Universe, no longer finds a competent
theory of its wonders. Time was, when if he asked himself, What is
man, What are the duties of man? the answer stood ready written for
him. But now the ancient "ground-plan of the All" belies itself when
brought into contact with reality; Mother Church has, to the most,
become a superannuated Stepmother, whose lessons go disregarded; or
are spurned at, and scornfully gainsaid. For young Valour and thirst
of Action no Ideal Chivalry invites to heroism, prescribes what is
heroic: the old ideal of Manhood has grown obsolete, and the new is
still invisible to us, and we grope after it in darkness, one
clutching this phantom, another that; Werterism, Byronism, even
Brummelism, each has its day. For Contemplation and love of Wisdom, no
Cloister now opens its religious shades; the Thinker must, in all
senses, wander homeless, too often aimless, looking up to a Heaven
which is dead for him, round to an Earth which is deaf. Action, in
those old days, was easy, was voluntary, for the divine worth of human
things lay acknowledged; Speculation was wholesome, for it ranged
itself as the handmaid of Action; what could not so range itself died
out by its natural death, by neglect. Loyalty still hallowed
obedience, and made rule noble; there was still something to be loyal
to: the Godlike stood embodied under many a symbol in men's interests
and business; the Finite shadowed forth the Infinite; Eternity looked
through Time. The Life of man was encompassed and overcanopied by a
glory of Heaven, even as his dwelling-place by the azure vault.

How changed in these new days! Truly may it be said, the Divinity has
withdrawn from the Earth; or veils himself in that wide-wasting
Whirlwind of a departing Era, wherein the fewest can discern his
goings. Not Godhead, but an iron, ignoble circle of Necessity embraces
all things; binds the youth of these times into a sluggish thrall, or
else exasperates him into a rebel. Heroic Action is paralysed; for
what worth now remains unquestionable with him? At the fervid period
when his whole nature cries aloud for Action, there is nothing sacred
under whose banner he can act; the course and kind and conditions of
free Action are all but undiscoverable. Doubt storms-in on him through
every avenue; inquiries of the deepest, painfullest sort must be
engaged with; and the invincible energy of young years waste itself in
sceptical, suicidal cavillings; in passionate "questionings of
Destiny," whereto no answer will be returned.

For men, in whom the old perennial principle of Hunger (be it Hunger
of the poor Day-drudge who stills it with eighteenpence a-day, or of
the ambitious Placehunter who can nowise still it with so little)
suffices to fill up existence, the case is bad; but not the worst.
These men have an aim, such as it is; and can steer towards it, with
chagrin enough truly; yet, as their hands are kept full, without
desperation. Unhappier are they to whom a higher instinct has been
given; who struggle to be persons, not machines; to whom the Universe
is not a warehouse, or at best a fancy-bazaar, but a mystic temple and
hall of doom. For such men there lie properly two courses open. The
lower, yet still an estimable class, take up with worn-out Symbols of
the Godlike; keep trimming and trucking between these and Hypocrisy,
purblindly enough, miserably enough. A numerous intermediate class end
in Denial; and form a theory that there is no theory; that nothing is
certain in the world, except this fact of Pleasure being pleasant; so
they try to realise what trifling modicum of Pleasure they can come
at, and to live contented therewith, winking hard. Of these we speak
not here; but only of the second nobler class, who also have dared to
say No, and cannot yet say Yea; but feel that in the No they dwell as
in a Golgotha, where life enters not, where peace is not appointed
them. Hard, for most part, is the fate of such men; the harder the
nobler they are. In dim forecastings, wrestles within them the "Divine
Idea of the World," yet will nowhere visibly reveal itself. They have
to realise a Worship for themselves, or live unworshipping. The
Godlike has vanished from the world; and they, by the strong cry of
their soul's agony, like true wonder-workers, must again evoke its
presence. This miracle is their appointed task; which they must
accomplish, or die wretchedly: this miracle has been accomplished by
such; but not in our land; our land yet knows not of it. Behold a
Byron, in melodious tones, "cursing his day:" he mistakes earthborn
passionate Desire for heaven-inspired Freewill; without heavenly
loadstar, rushes madly into the dance of meteoric lights that hover on
the mad Mahlstrom; and goes down among its eddies. Hear a Shelley
filling the earth with inarticulate wail; like the infinite,
inarticulate grief and weeping of forsaken infants. A noble Friedrich
Schlegel, stupefied in that fearful loneliness, as of a silenced
battle-field, flies back to Catholicism; as a child might to its slain
mother's bosom, and cling there. In lower regions, how many a poor
Hazlitt must wander on God's verdant earth, like the Unblest on
burning deserts; passionately dig wells, and draw up only the dry
quicksand; believe that he is seeking Truth, yet only wrestle among
endless Sophisms, doing desperate battle as with spectre-hosts; and
die and make no sign!

To the better order of such minds any mad joy of Denial has long since
ceased: the problem is not now to deny, but to ascertain and perform.
Once in destroying the False, there was a certain inspiration; but now
the genius of Destruction has done its work, there is now nothing more
to destroy. The doom of the Old has long been pronounced, and
irrevocable; the Old has passed away; but, alas, the New appears not
in its stead; the Time is still in pangs of travail with the New. Man
has walked by the light of conflagrations, and amid the sound of
falling cities; and now there is darkness, and long watching till it
be morning. The voice even of the faithful can but exclaim: "As yet
struggles the twelfth hour of the Night: birds of darkness are on the
wing, spectres up-rear, the dead walk, the living dream.--Thou,
Eternal Providence, wilt cause the day to dawn!"[52]

[Footnote 52: Jean Paul's _Hesperus_. Vorrede.]

Such being the condition, temporal and spiritual, of the world at our
Epoch, can we wonder that the world "listens to itself," and struggles
and writhes, everywhere externally and internally, like a thing in
pain? Nay, is not even this unhealthy action of the world's
Organisation, if the symptom of universal disease, yet also the
symptom and sole means of restoration and cure? The effort of Nature,
exerting her medicative force to cast out foreign impediments, and
once more become One, become whole? In Practice, still more in
Opinion, which is the precursor and prototype of Practice, there must
needs be collision, convulsion; much has to be ground away. Thought
must needs be Doubt and Inquiry, before it can again be Affirmation
and Sacred Precept. Innumerable "Philosophies of Man," contending in
boundless hubbub, must annihilate each other, before an inspired Poesy
and Faith for Man can fashion itself together.

*       *       *       *       *

From this stunning hubbub, a true Babylonish confusion of tongues, we
have here selected two Voices; less as objects of praise or
condemnation, than as signs how far the confusion has reached, what
prospect there is of its abating. Friedrich Schlegel's _Lectures_,
delivered at Dresden, and Mr. Hope's _Essay_, published in London, are
the latest utterances of European Speculation: far asunder in external
place, they stand at a still wider distance in inward purport; are,
indeed, so opposite and yet so cognate that they may, in many senses,
represent the two Extremes of our whole modern system of Thought; and
be said to include between them all the Metaphysical Philosophies, so
often alluded to here, which, of late times, from France, Germany,
England, have agitated and almost overwhelmed us. Both in regard to
matter and to form, the relation of these two Works is significant

Speaking first of their cognate qualities, let us remark, not without
emotion, one quite extraneous point of agreement; the fact that the
Writers of both have departed from this world; they have now finished
their search, and had all doubts resolved: while we listen to the
voice, the tongue that uttered it has gone silent forever. But the
fundamental, all-pervading similarity lies in this circumstance, well
worthy of being noted, that both these Philosophers are of the
Dogmatic or Constructive sort: each in its way is a kind of Genesis;
an endeavour to bring the Phenomena of man's Universe once more under
some theoretic Scheme: in both there is a decided principle of unity;
they strive after a result which shall be positive; their aim is not
to question, but to establish. This, especially if we consider with
what comprehensive concentrated force it is here exhibited, forms a
new feature in such works.

Under all other aspects, there is the most irreconcilable opposition;
a staring contrariety, such as might provoke contrasts, were there far
fewer points of comparison. If Schlegel's Work is the apotheosis of
Spiritualism; Hope's again is the apotheosis of Materialism: in the
one, all Matter is evaporated into a Phenomenon, and terrestrial Life
itself, with its whole doings and showings, held out as a Disturbance
(_Zerrüttung_) produced by the _Zeitgeist_ (Spirit of Time); in the
other, Matter is distilled and sublimated into some semblance of
Divinity: the one regards Space and Time as mere forms of man's mind,
and without external existence or reality; the other supposes Space
and Time to be "incessantly created," and rayed-in upon us like a sort
of "gravitation." Such is their difference in respect of purport: no
less striking is it in respect of manner, talent, success and all
outward characteristics. Thus, if in Schlegel we have to admire the
power of Words, in Hope we stand astonished, it might almost be said,
at the want of an articulate Language. To Schlegel his Philosophic
Speech is obedient, dextrous, exact, like a promptly-ministering
genius; his names are so clear, so precise and vivid, that they almost
(sometimes altogether) become things for him: with Hope there is no
Philosophical Speech; but a painful, confused stammering, and
struggling after such; or the tongue, as in dotish forgetfulness,
maunders, low, long-winded, and speaks not the word intended, but
another; so that here the scarcely intelligible, in these endless
convolutions, becomes the wholly unreadable; and often we could ask,
as that mad pupil did of his tutor in Philosophy, "But whether is
Virtue a fluid, then, or a gas?" If the fact, that Schlegel, in the
city of Dresden, could find audience for such high discourse, may
excite our envy; this other fact, that a person of strong powers,
skilled in English Thought and master of its Dialect, could write the
_Origin and Prospects of Man_, may painfully remind us of the
reproach, that England has now no language for Meditation; that
England, the most calculative, is the least meditative, of all
civilised countries.

It is not our purpose to offer any criticism of Schlegel's Book; in
such limits as were possible here, we should despair of communicating
even the faintest image of its significance. To the mass of readers,
indeed, both among the Germans themselves, and still more elsewhere,
it nowise addresses itself, and may lie forever sealed. We point it
out as a remarkable document of the Time and of the Man; can recommend
it, moreover, to all earnest Thinkers, as a work deserving their best
regard; a work full of deep meditation, wherein the infinite mystery
of Life, if not represented, is decisively recognised. Of Schlegel
himself, and his character, and spiritual history, we can profess no
thorough or final understanding; yet enough to make us view him with
admiration and pity, nowise with harsh contemptuous censure; and must
say, with clearest persuasion, that the outcry of his being "a
renegade," and so forth, is but like other outcries, a judgment where
there was neither jury, nor evidence, nor judge. The candid reader, in
this Book itself, to say nothing of all the rest, will find traces of
a high, far-seeing, earnest spirit, to whom "Austrian Pensions," and
the Kaiser's crown, and Austria altogether, were but a light matter to
the finding and vitally appropriating of Truth. Let us respect the
sacred mystery of a Person; rush not irreverently into man's Holy of
Holies! Were the lost little one, as we said already, found "sucking
its dead mother, on the field of carnage," could it be other than a
spectacle for tears? A solemn mournful feeling comes over us when we
see this last Work of Friedrich Schlegel, the unwearied seeker, end
abruptly in the middle; and, as if he _had not_ yet found, as if
emblematically of much, end with an "_Aber--_," with a "But--!" This
was the last word that came from the Pen of Friedrich Schlegel: about
eleven at night he wrote it down, and there paused sick; at one in the
morning, Time for him had merged itself in Eternity; he was, as we
say, no more.

Still less can we attempt any criticism of Mr. Hope's new Book of
Genesis. Indeed, under any circumstances, criticism of it were now
impossible. Such an utterance could only be responded to in peals of
laughter; and laughter sounds hollow and hideous through the vaults of
the dead. Of this monstrous Anomaly, where all sciences are heaped and
huddled together, and the principles of all are, with a childlike
innocence, plied hither and thither, or wholly abolished in case of
need; where the First Cause is figured as a huge Circle, with nothing
to do but radiate "gravitation" towards its centre; and so construct a
Universe, wherein all, from the lowest cucumber with its coolness, up
to the highest seraph with his love, were but "gravitation," direct or
reflex, "in more or less central globes,"--what can we say, except,
with sorrow and shame, that it could have originated nowhere save in
England? It is a general agglomerate of all facts, notions, whims and
observations, as they lie in the brain of an English gentleman; as an
English gentleman, of unusual thinking power, is led to fashion them,
in his schools and in his world: all these thrown into the crucible,
and if not fused, yet soldered or conglutinated with boundless
patience; and now tumbled out here, heterogeneous, amorphous,
unspeakable, a world's wonder. Most melancholy must we name the whole
business; full of long-continued thought, earnestness, loftiness of
mind; not without glances into the Deepest, a constant fearless
endeavour after truth; and with all this nothing accomplished, but the
perhaps absurdest Book written in our century by a thinking man. A
shameful Abortion; which, however, need not now be smothered or
mangled, for it is already dead; only, in our love and sorrowing
reverence for the writer of _Anastasius_, and the heroic seeker of
Light, though not bringer thereof, let it be buried and forgotten.

*       *       *       *       *

For ourselves, the loud discord which jars in these two Works, in
innumerable works of the like import, and generally in all the Thought
and Action of this period, does not any longer utterly confuse us.
Unhappy who, in such a time, felt not, at all conjunctures,
ineradicably in his heart the knowledge that a God made this Universe,
and a Demon not! And shall Evil always prosper, then? Out of all Evil
comes Good; and no Good that is possible but shall one day be real.
Deep and sad as is our feeling that we stand yet in the bodeful Night;
equally deep, indestructible is our assurance that the Morning also
will not fail. Nay already, as we look round, streaks of a day-spring
are in the east; it is dawning; when the time shall be fulfilled, it
will be day. The progress of man towards higher and nobler
developments of whatever is highest and noblest in him, lies not only
prophesied to Faith, but now written to the eye of Observation, so
that he who runs may read.

One great step of progress, for example, we should say, in actual
circumstances, was this same; the clear ascertainment that we are in
progress. About the grand Course of Providence, and his final Purposes
with us, we can know nothing, or almost nothing: man begins in
darkness, ends in darkness; mystery is everywhere around us and in us,
under our feet, among our hands. Nevertheless so much has become
evident to every one, that this wondrous Mankind is advancing
somewhither; that at least all human things are, have been and forever
will be, in Movement and Change:--as, indeed, for beings that exist in
Time, by virtue of Time, and are made of Time, might have been long
since understood. In some provinces, it is true, as in Experimental
Science, this discovery is an old one; but in most others it belongs
wholly to these latter days. How often, in former ages, by eternal
Creeds, eternal Forms of Government and the like, has it been
attempted, fiercely enough, and with destructive violence, to chain
the Future under the Past: and to say to the Providence, whose ways
with man are mysterious, and through the great deep: Hitherto shalt
thou come, but no farther! A wholly insane attempt; and for man
himself, could it prosper, the frightfullest of all enchantments, a
very Life-in-Death. Man's task here below, the destiny of every
individual man, is to be in turns Apprentice and Workman; or say
rather, Scholar, Teacher, Discoverer: by nature he has a strength for
learning, for imitating; but also a strength for acting, for knowing
on his own account. Are we not in a world seen to be Infinite; the
relations lying closest together modified by those latest discovered
and lying farthest asunder? Could you ever spell-bind man into a
Scholar merely, so that he had nothing to discover, to correct; could
you ever establish a Theory of the Universe that were entire,
unimprovable, and which needed only to be got by heart; man then were
spiritually defunct, the Species we now name Man had ceased to exist.
But the gods, kinder to us than we are to ourselves, have forbidden
such suicidal acts. As Phlogiston is displaced by Oxygen, and the
Epicycles of Ptolemy by the Ellipses of Kepler; so does Paganism give
place to Catholicism, Tyranny to Monarchy, and Feudalism to
Representative Government,--where also the process does not stop.
Perfection of Practice, like completeness of Opinion, is always
approaching, never arrived; Truth, in the words of Schiller, _immer
wird, nie ist_; never _is_, always _is a-being_.

Sad, truly, were our condition did we know but this, that Change is
universal and inevitable. Launched into a dark shoreless sea of
Pyrrhonism, what would remain for us but to sail aimless, hopeless; or
make madly merry, while the devouring Death had not yet engulfed us?
As indeed, we have seen many, and still see many do. Nevertheless so
stands it not. The venerator of the Past (and to what pure heart is
the Past, in that "moonlight of memory," other than sad and holy?)
sorrows not over its departure, as one utterly bereaved. The true Past
departs not, nothing that was worthy in the Past departs; no Truth or
Goodness realised by man ever dies, or can die; but is all still here,
and, recognised or not, lives and works through endless changes. If
all things, to speak in the German dialect, are discerned by us, and
exist for us, in an element of Time, and therefore of Mortality and
Mutability; yet Time itself reposes on Eternity: the truly Great and
Transcendental has its basis and substance in Eternity; stands
revealed to us as Eternity in a vesture of Time. Thus in all Poetry,
Worship, Art, Society, as one form passes into another, nothing is
lost: it is but the superficial, as it were the _body_ only, that
grows obsolete and dies; under the mortal body lies a _soul_ which is
immortal; which anew incarnates itself in fairer revelation; and the
Present is the living sum-total of the whole Past.

In Change, therefore, there is nothing terrible, nothing supernatural:
on the contrary, it lies in the very essence of our lot and life in
this world. Today is not yesterday: we ourselves change; how can our
Works and Thoughts, if they are always to be the fittest, continue
always the same? Change, indeed, is painful; yet ever needful: and if
Memory have its force and worth, so also has Hope. Nay, if we look
well to it, what is all Derangement, and necessity of great Change, in
itself such an evil, but the product simply of _increased resources_
which the old _methods_ can no longer administer; of new wealth which
the old coffers will no longer contain? What is it, for example, that
in our own day bursts asunder the bonds of ancient Political Systems,
and perplexes all Europe with the fear of Change, but even this: the
increase of social resources, which the old social methods will no
longer sufficiently administer? The new omnipotence of the
Steam-engine is hewing asunder quite other mountains than the
physical. Have not our economical distresses, those barnyard
Conflagrations themselves, the frightfullest madness of our mad epoch,
their rise also in what is a real increase: increase of Men; of human
Force; properly, in such a Planet as ours, the most precious of all
increases? It is true again, the ancient methods of administration
will no longer suffice. Must the indomitable millions, full of old
Saxon energy and fire, lie cooped up in this Western Nook, choking one
another, as in a Blackhole of Calcutta, while a whole fertile
untenanted Earth, desolate for want of the ploughshare, cries: Come
and till me, come and reap me? If the ancient Captains can no longer
yield guidance, new must be sought after: for the difficulty lies not
in nature, but in artifice; the European Calcutta-Blackhole has no
walls but air ones and paper ones.--So too, Scepticism itself, with
its innumerable mischiefs, what is it but the sour fruit of a most
blessed increase, that of Knowledge; a fruit too that will not always
continue _sour_?

In fact, much as we have said and mourned about the unproductive
prevalence of Metaphysics, it was not without some insight into the
use that lies in them. Metaphysical Speculation, if a necessary evil,
is the forerunner of much good. The fever of Scepticism must needs
burn itself out, and burn out thereby the Impurities that caused it;
then again will there be clearness, health. The principle of life,
which now struggles painfully, in the outer, thin and barren domain of
the Conscious or Mechanical, may then withdraw into its inner
sanctuaries, its abysses of mystery and miracle; withdraw deeper than
ever into that domain of the Unconscious, by nature infinite and
inexhaustible; and that creatively work there. From that mystic
region, and from that alone, all wonders, all Poesies and Religions,
and Social Systems have proceeded: the like wonders, and greater and
higher, lie slumbering there; and, brooded on by the spirit of the
waters, will evolve themselves, and rise like exhalations from the

Of our Modern Metaphysics, accordingly, may not this already be said,
that if they have produced no Affirmation, they have destroyed much
Negation? It is a disease expelling a disease: the fire of Doubt, as
above hinted, consuming away the Doubtful; that so the Certain come to
light, and again lie visible on the surface. English or French
Metaphysics, in reference to this last stage of the speculative
process, are not what we allude to here; but only the Metaphysics of
the Germans. In France or England, since the days of Diderot and Hume,
though all thought has been of a sceptico-metaphysical texture, so far
as there was any Thought, we have seen no Metaphysics; but only more
or less ineffectual questionings whether such could be. In the
Pyrrhonism of Hume and the Materialism of Diderot, Logic had, as it
were, overshot itself, overset itself. Now, though the athlete, to use
our old figure, cannot, by much lifting, lift up his own body, he may
shift it out of a laming posture, and get to stand in a free one. Such
a service have German Metaphysics done for man's mind. The second
sickness of Speculation has abolished both itself and the first.
Friedrich Schlegel complains much of the fruitlessness, the tumult and
transiency of German as of all Metaphysics; and with reason. Yet in
that wide-spreading, deep-whirling vortex of Kantism, so soon
metamorphosed into Fichteism, Schellingism, and then as Hegelism, and
Cousinism, perhaps finally evaporated, is not the issue visible
enough, That Pyrrhonism and Materialism, themselves necessary
phenomena in European culture, have disappeared; and a Faith in
Religion has again become possible and inevitable for the scientific
mind; and the word _Free_-thinker no longer means the Denier or
Caviller, but the Believer, or the Ready to believe? Nay, in the
higher Literature of Germany, there already lies, for him that can
read it, the beginning of a new revelation of the Godlike; as yet
unrecognised by the mass of the world; but waiting there for
recognition, and sure to find it when the fit hour comes. This age
also is not wholly without its Prophets.

Again, under another aspect, if Utilitarianism, or Radicalism, or the
Mechanical Philosophy, or by whatever name it is called, has still its
long task to do; nevertheless we can now see through it and beyond it:
in the better heads, even among us English, it has become obsolete; as
in other countries, it has been, in such heads, for some forty or even
fifty years. What sound mind among the French, for example, now
fancies that men can be governed by "Constitutions;" by the never so
cunning mechanising of Self-interests, and all conceivable adjustments
of checking and balancing; in a word, by the best possible solution of
this quite insoluble and impossible problem, _Given a world of Knaves,
to produce an Honesty from their united action_? Were not experiments
enough of this kind tried before all Europe, and found wanting, when,
in that doomsday of France, the infinite gulf of human Passion
shivered asunder the thin rinds of Habit; and burst forth
all-devouring as in seas of Nether Fire? Which cunningly-devised
"Constitution," constitutional, republican, democratic, sansculottic,
could bind that raging chasm together? Were they not all burnt up,
like paper as they were, in its molten eddies; and still the fire-sea
raged fiercer than before? It is not by Mechanism, but by Religion;
not by Self-interest, but by Loyalty, that men are governed or

Remarkable it is, truly, how everywhere the eternal fact begins again
to be recognised, that there is a Godlike in human affairs; that God
not only made us and beholds us, but is in us and around us; that the
Age of Miracles, as it ever was, now is. Such recognition we discern
on all hands and in all countries: in each country after its own
fashion. In France, among the younger nobler minds, strangely enough;
where, in their loud contention with the Actual and Conscious, the
Ideal or Unconscious is, for the time, without exponent; where
Religion means not the parent of Polity, as of all that is highest,
but Polity itself; and this and the other earnest man has not been
wanting, who could audibly whisper to himself: "Go to, I will make a
religion." In England still more strangely; as in all things, worthy
England will have its way: by the shrieking of hysterical women,
casting out of devils, and other "gifts of the Holy Ghost." Well might
Jean Paul say, in this his twelfth hour of the Night, "the living
dream"; well might he say, "the dead walk." Meanwhile let us rejoice
rather that so much has been seen into, were it through never so
diffracting media, and never so madly distorted; that in all dialects,
though but half-articulately, this high Gospel begins to be preached:
Man is still Man. The genius of Mechanism, as was once before
predicted, will not always sit like a choking incubus on our soul; but
at length, when by a new magic Word the old spell is broken, become
our slave, and as familiar-spirit do all our bidding. "We are near
awakening when we dream that we dream."

He that has an eye and a heart can even now say: Why should I falter?
Light has come into the world; to such as love Light, so as Light must
be loved, with a boundless all-doing, all enduring love. For the rest,
let that vain struggle to read the mystery of the Infinite cease to
harass us. It is a mystery which, through all ages, we shall only read
here a line of, there another line of. Do we not already know that the
name of the Infinite is GOOD, is GOD? Here on Earth we are as
Soldiers, fighting in a foreign land; that understand not the plan of
the campaign, and have no need to understand it; seeing well what is
at our hand to be done. Let us do it like Soldiers, with submission,
with courage, with a heroic joy. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do,
do it with all thy might." Behind us, behind each one of us, lie Six
Thousand Years of human effort, human conquest: before us is the
boundless Time, with its as yet uncreated and unconquered Continents
and Eldorados, which we, even we, have to conquer, to create; and from
the bosom of Eternity there shine for us celestial guiding stars.

    "My inheritance how wide and fair!
    Time is my fair seed-field, of Time I'm heir."



I wonder whether those little silver pencil-cases with a movable
almanac at the butt-end are still favourite implements with boys, and
whether pedlars still hawk them about the country? Are there pedlars
and hawkers still, or are rustics and children grown too sharp to deal
with them? Those pencil-cases, as far as my memory serves me, were not
of much use. The screw, upon which the movable almanac turned, was
constantly getting loose. The 1 of the table would work from its
moorings, under Tuesday or Wednesday, as the case might be, and you
would find, on examination, that Th. or W. was the 23-1/2 of the month
(which was absurd on the face of the thing), and in a word your
cherished pencil-case an utterly unreliable time-keeper. Nor was this
a matter of wonder. Consider the position of a pencil-case in a boy's
pocket. You had hardbake in it; marbles, kept in your purse when the
money was all gone; your mother's purse, knitted so fondly and
supplied with a little bit of gold, long since--prodigal little
son!--scattered amongst the swine--I mean amongst brandy-balls, open
tarts, three-cornered puffs, and similar abominations. You had a top
and string; a knife; a piece of cobbler's wax; two or three bullets; a
"Little Warbler"; and I, for my part, remember, for a considerable
period, a brass-barrelled pocket-pistol (which would fire beautifully,
for with it I shot off a button from Butt Major's jacket);--with all
these things, and ever so many more, clinking and rattling in your
pockets, and your hands, of course, keeping them in perpetual
movement, how could you expect your movable almanac not to be twisted
out of its place now and again--your pencil-case to be bent--your
liquorice water not to leak out of your bottle over the cobbler's wax,
your bull's eyes not to ram up the lock and barrel of your pistol, and
so forth?

In the month of June, thirty-seven years ago, I bought one of those
pencil-cases from a boy whom I shall call Hawker, and who was in my
form. Is he dead? Is he a millionaire? Is he a bankrupt now? He was an
immense screw at school, and I believe to this day that the value of
the thing for which I owed and eventually paid three-and-sixpence, was
in reality not one-and-nine.

I certainly enjoyed the case at first a good deal, and amused myself
with twiddling round the movable calendar. But this pleasure wore off.
The jewel, as I said, was not paid for, and Hawker, a large and
violent boy, was exceedingly unpleasant as a creditor. His constant
remark was, "When are you going to pay me that three-and-sixpence?
What sneaks your relations must be! They come to see you. You go out
to them on Saturdays and Sundays, and they never give you anything!
Don't tell _me_, you little humbug!" and so forth. The truth is that
my relations were respectable; but my parents were making a tour in
Scotland; and my friends in London, whom I used to go and see, were
most kind to me, certainly, but somehow never tipped me. That term, of
May to August 1823, passed in agonies, then, in consequence of my debt
to Hawker. What was the pleasure of a calendar pencil-case in
comparison with the doubt and torture of mind occasioned by the sense
of the debt, and the constant reproach in that fellow's scowling eyes
and gloomy coarse reminders? How was I to pay off such a debt out of
sixpence a week? ludicrous! Why did not some one come to see me, and
tip me? Ah! my dear sir, if you have any little friends at school, go
and see them, and do the natural thing by them. You won't miss the
sovereign. You don't know what a blessing it will be to them. Don't
fancy they are too old--try 'em. And they will remember you, and bless
you in future days; and their gratitude shall accompany your dreary
after life; and they shall meet you kindly when thanks for kindness
are scant. Oh mercy! shall I ever forget that sovereign you gave me,
Captain Bob? or the agonies of being in debt to Hawker? In that very
term, a relation of mine was going to India. I actually was fetched
from school in order to take leave of him. I am afraid I told Hawker
of this circumstance. I own I speculated upon my friend's giving me a
pound. A pound? Pooh! A relation going to India, and deeply affected
at parting from his darling kinsman, might give five pounds to the
dear fellow!... There was Hawker when I came back--of course there he
was. As he looked in my scared face, his turned livid with rage. He
muttered curses, terrible from the lips of so young a boy. My
relation, about to cross the ocean to fill a lucrative appointment,
asked me with much interest about my progress at school, heard me
construe a passage of Eutropius, the pleasing Latin work on which I
was then engaged; gave me a God bless you, and sent me back to school;
upon my word of honour, without so much as a half-crown! It is all
very well, my dear sir, to say that boys contract habits of expecting
tips from their parents' friends, that they become avaricious, and so
forth. Avaricious! fudge! Boys contract habits of tart and toffee
eating, which they do not carry into after life. On the contrary, I
wish I _did_ like 'em. What raptures of pleasure one could have now
for five shillings, if one could but pick it off the pastry-cook's
tray! No. If you have any little friends at school, out with your
half-crowns, my friend, and impart to those little ones the little
fleeting joys of their age.

Well, then. At the beginning of August 1823, Bartlemytide holidays
came, and I was to go to my parents, who were at Tunbridge Wells. My
place in the coach was taken by my tutor's servants--"Bolt-in-Tun,"
Fleet Street, seven o'clock in the morning was the word. My tutor, the
Reverend Edward P----, to whom I hereby present my best compliments,
had a parting interview with me: gave me my little account for my
governor: the remaining part of the coach-hire; five shillings for my
own expenses; and some five-and-twenty shillings on an old account
which had been over-paid, and was to be restored to my family.

Away I ran and paid Hawker his three-and-six. Ouf! what a weight it
was off my mind! (He was a Norfolk boy, and used to go home from Mrs.
Nelson's "Bell Inn," Aldgate--but that is not to the point.) The next
morning, of course, we were an hour before the time. I and another boy
shared a hackney-coach, two-and-six; porter for putting luggage on
coach, threepence. I had no more money of my own left. Rasherwell, my
companion, went into the "Bolt-in-Tun" coffee-room, and had a good
breakfast. I couldn't: because, though I had five-and-twenty shillings
of my parents' money, I had none of my own, you see.

I certainly intended to go without breakfast, and still remember how
strongly I had that resolution in my mind. But there was that hour to
wait. A beautiful August morning--I am very hungry. There is
Rasherwell "tucking" away in the coffee-room. I pace the street, as
sadly almost as if I had been coming to school, not going thence. I
turn into a court by mere chance--I vow it was by mere chance--and
there I see a coffee-shop with a placard in the window. "Coffee,
Twopence, Round of buttered toast, Twopence." And here am I hungry,
penniless, with five-and-twenty shillings of my parents' money in my

What would you have done? You see I had had my money, and spent it in
that pencil-case affair. The five-and-twenty shillings were a
trust--by me to be handed over.

But then would my parents wish their only child to be actually without
breakfast? Having this money and being so hungry, so _very_ hungry,
mightn't I take ever so little? Mightn't I at home eat as much as I

Well, I went into the coffee-shop, and spent fourpence. I remember the
taste of the coffee and toast to this day--a peculiar, muddy,
not-sweet-enough, most fragrant coffee--a rich, rancid, yet
not-buttered-enough, delicious toast. The waiter had nothing. At any
rate, fourpence, I know, was the sum I spent. And the hunger appeased,
I got on the coach a guilty being.

At the last stage,--what is its name? I have forgotten in
seven-and-thirty years,--there is an inn with a little green and trees
before it; and by the trees there is an open carriage. It is our
carriage. Yes, there are Prince and Blucher, the horses; and my
parents in the carriage. Oh! how I had been counting the days until
this one came! Oh! how happy had I been to see them yesterday! But
there was that fourpence. All the journey down the toast had choked
me, and the coffee poisoned me.

I was in such a state of remorse about the fourpence, that I forgot
the maternal joy and caresses, the tender paternal voice. I pulled out
the twenty-four shillings and eightpence with a trembling hand.

"Here's your money," I gasp out, "which Mr. P---- owes you, all but
fourpence. I owed three-and-sixpence to Hawker out of my money for a
pencil-case, and I had none left, and I took fourpence of yours, and
had some coffee at a shop."

I suppose I must have been choking whilst uttering this confession.

"My dear boy," says the governor, "why didn't you go and breakfast at
the hotel?"

"He must be starved," says my mother.

I had confessed; I had been a prodigal; I had been taken back to my
parents' arms again. It was not a very great crime as yet, or a very
long career of prodigality; but don't we know that a boy who takes a
pin which is not his own, will take a thousand pounds when occasion
serves, brings his parents' grey heads with sorrow to the grave, and
carry his own to the gallows? Witness the career of Dick Idle, upon
whom our friend Mr. Sala has been discoursing. Dick only began by
playing pitch-and-toss on a tombstone: playing fair, for what we know:
and even for that sin he was promptly caned by the beadle. The bamboo
was ineffectual to cane that reprobate's bad courses out of him. From
pitch-and-toss he proceeded to manslaughter if necessary: to highway
robbery; to Tyburn and the rope there. Ah! Heaven be thanked, my
parents' heads are still above the grass, and mine still out of the

As I look up from my desk, I see Tunbridge Wells Common and the rocks,
the strange familiar place which I remember forty years ago. Boys
saunter over the green with stumps and cricket-bats. Other boys gallop
by on the riding-master's hacks. I protest it is "Cramp, Riding
Master," as it used to be in the reign of George IV., and that Centaur
Cramp must be at least a hundred years old. Yonder comes a footman
with a bundle of novels from the library. Are they as good as _our_
novels? Oh! how delightful they were! Shades of Valancour, awful ghost
of Manfroni, how I shudder at your appearance! Sweet image of Thaddeus
of Warsaw, how often has this almost infantile hand tried to depict
you in a Polish cap and richly embroidered tights! And as for
Corinthian Tom in light blue pantaloons and hessians, and Jerry
Hawthorn from the country, can all the fashion, can all the splendour
of real life which these eyes have subsequently beheld, can all the
wit I have heard or read in later times, compare with your fashion,
with your brilliancy, with your delightful grace, and sparkling
vivacious rattle?

Who knows? They _may_ have kept those very books at the library
still--at the well-remembered library on the Pantiles, where they sell
that delightful, useful Tunbridge ware. I will go and see. I wend my
way to the Pantiles, the queer little old-world Pantiles, where, a
hundred years since, so much good company came to take its pleasure.
Is it possible, that in the past century, gentlefolks of the first
rank (as I read lately in a lecture on George II. in the _Cornhill
Magazine_) assembled here and entertained each other with gaming,
dancing, fiddling, and tea? There are fiddlers, harpers, and
trumpeters performing at this moment in a weak little old balcony, but
where is the fine company? Where are the earls, duchesses, bishops,
and magnificent embroidered gamesters? A half-dozen of children and
their nurses are listening to the musicians; an old lady or two in a
poke bonnet passes; and for the rest, I see but an uninteresting
population of native tradesmen. As for the library, its window is full
of pictures of burly theologians, and their works, sermons, apologues,
and so forth. Can I go in and ask the young ladies at the counter for
"Manfroni, or the One-handed Monk," and "Life in London, or the
Adventures of Corinthian Tom, Jeremiah Hawthorn, Esquire, and their
friend Bob Logic"?--absurd. I turn away abashed from the
casement--from the Pantiles--no longer Pantiles--but Parade. I stroll
over the Common and survey the beautiful purple hills around,
twinkling with a thousand bright villas, which have sprung up over
this charming ground since first I saw it. What an admirable scene of
peace and plenty! What a delicious air breathes over the heath, blows
the cloud-shadows across it, and murmurs through the full-clad trees!
Can the world show a land fairer, richer, more cheerful? I see a
portion of it when I look up from the window at which I write. But
fair scene, green woods, bright terraces gleaming in sunshine, and
purple clouds swollen with summer rain--nay, the very pages over which
my head bends--disappear from before my eyes. They are looking
backwards, back into forty years off, into a dark room, into a little
house hard by on the Common here, in the Bartlemytide holidays. The
parents have gone to town for two days: the house is all his own, his
own and a grim old maid-servant's, and a little boy is seated at night
in the lonely drawing-room, poring over "Manfroni, or the One-handed
Monk," so frightened that he scarcely dares to turn round.



Some years ago, a temporary inability to sleep, referable to a
distressing impression, caused me to walk about the streets all night,
for a series of several nights. The disorder might have taken a long
time to conquer, if it had been faintly experimented on in bed; but,
it was soon defeated by the brisk treatment of getting up directly
after lying down, and going out, and coming home tired at sunrise.

In the course of those nights, I finished my education in a fair
amateur experience of houselessness. My principal object being to get
through the night, the pursuit of it brought me into sympathetic
relations with people who have no other object every night in the

The month was March, and the weather damp, cloudy, and cold. The sun
not rising before half-past five, the night perspective looked
sufficiently long at half-past twelve: which was about my time for
confronting it.

The restlessness of a great city, and the way in which it tumbles and
tosses before it can get to sleep, formed one of the first
entertainments offered to the contemplation of us houseless people. It
lasted about two hours. We lost a great deal of companionship when the
late public-houses turned their lamps out, and when the potmen thrust
the last brawling drunkards into the street; but stray vehicles and
stray people were left us, after that. If we were very lucky, a
policeman's rattle sprang and a fray turned up; but, in general,
surprisingly little of this diversion was provided. Except in the
Haymarket, which is the worst kept part of London, and about
Kent-street in the Borough, and along a portion of the line of the Old
Kent-road, the peace was seldom violently broken. But, it was always
the case that London, as if in imitation of individual citizens
belonging to it, had expiring fits and starts of restlessness. After
all seemed quiet, if one cab rattled by, half-a-dozen would surely
follow; and Houselessness even observed that intoxicated people
appeared to be magnetically attracted towards each other: so that we
knew when we saw one drunken object staggering against the shutters of
a shop, that another drunken object would stagger up before five
minutes were out, to fraternise or fight with it. When we made a
divergence from the regular species of drunkard, the thin-armed,
puff-faced, leaden-lipped gin-drinker, and encountered a rarer
specimen of a more decent appearance, fifty to one but that specimen
was dressed in soiled mourning. As the street experience in the night,
so the street experience in the day; the common folk who come
unexpectedly into a little property, come unexpectedly into a deal of

At length these flickering sparks would die away, worn out--the last
veritable sparks of waking life trailed from some late pieman or
hot-potato man--and London would sink to rest. And then the yearning
of the houseless mind would be for any sign of company, any lighted
place, any movement, anything suggestive of any one being up--nay,
even so much as awake, for the houseless eye looked out for lights in

Walking the streets under the pattering rain, Houselessness would walk
and walk and walk, seeing nothing but the interminable tangle of
streets, save at a corner, here and there, two policemen in
conversation, or the sergeant or inspector looking after his men. Now
and then in the night--but rarely--Houselessness would become aware of
a furtive head peering out of a doorway a few yards before him, and,
coming up with the head, would find a man standing bolt upright to
keep within the doorway's shadow, and evidently intent upon no
particular service to society. Under a kind of fascination, and in a
ghostly silence suitable to the time, Houselessness and this gentleman
would eye one another from head to foot, and so, without exchange of
speech, part, mutually suspicious. Drip, drip, drip, from ledge and
coping, splash from pipes and water-spouts, and by-and-by the
houseless shadow would fall upon the stones that pave the way to
Waterloo-bridge; it being in the houseless mind to have a halfpenny
worth of excuse for saying "Good night" to the toll-keeper, and
catching a glimpse of his fire. A good fire and a good great-coat and
a good woollen neck-shawl, were comfortable things to see in
conjunction with the toll-keeper; also his brisk wakefulness was
excellent company when he rattled the change of halfpence down upon
that metal table of his, like a man who defied the night, with all its
sorrowful thoughts, and didn't care for the coming of dawn. There was
need of encouragement on the threshold of the bridge, for the bridge
was dreary. The chopped-up murdered man, had not been lowered with a
rope over the parapet when those nights were; he was alive, and slept
then quietly enough most likely, and undisturbed by any dream of where
he was to come. But the river had an awful look, the buildings on the
banks were muffled in black shrouds, and the reflected lights seemed
to originate deep in the water, as if the spectres of suicides were
holding them to show where they went down. The wild moon and clouds
were as restless as an evil conscience in a tumbled bed, and the very
shadow of the immensity of London seemed to lie oppressively upon the

Between the bridge and the two great theatres, there was but the
distance of a few hundred paces, so the theatres came next. Grim and
black within, at night, those great dry Wells, and lonesome to
imagine, with the rows of faces faded out, the lights extinguished,
and the seats all empty. One would think that nothing in them knew
itself at such a time but Yorick's skull. In one of my night walks, as
the church steeples were shaking the March winds and rain with strokes
of Four, I passed the outer boundary of one of these great deserts,
and entered it. With a dim lantern in my hand, I groped my well-known
way to the stage and looked over the orchestra--which was like a great
grave dug for a time of pestilence--into the void beyond. A dismal
cavern of an immense aspect, with the chandelier gone dead like
everything else, and nothing visible through mist and fog and space,
but tiers of winding-sheets. The ground at my feet where, when last
there, I had seen the peasantry of Naples dancing among the vines,
reckless of the burning mountain which threatened to overwhelm them,
was now in possession of a strong serpent of engine-hose, watchfully
lying in wait for the serpent Fire, and ready to fly at it if it
showed its forked tongue. A ghost of a watchman, carrying a faint
corpse candle, haunted the distant upper gallery and flitted away.
Retiring within the proscenium, and holding my light above my head
towards the rolled-up curtain--green no more, but black as ebony--my
sight lost itself in a gloomy vault, showing faint indications in it
of a shipwreck of canvas and cordage. Methought I felt much as a diver
might, at the bottom of the sea.

In those small hours when there was no movement in the streets, it
afforded matter for reflection to take Newgate in the way, and,
touching its rough stone, to think of the prisoners in their sleep,
and then to glance in at the lodge over the spiked wicket, and see the
fire and light of the watching turnkeys, on the white wall. Not an
inappropriate time either, to linger by that wicked little Debtors'
Door--shutting tighter than any other door one ever saw--which has
been Death's Door to so many. In the days of the uttering of forged
one-pound notes by people tempted up from the country, how many
hundreds of wretched creatures of both sexes--many quite
innocent--swung out of a pitiless and inconsistent world, with the
tower of yonder Christian church of Saint Sepulchre monstrously before
their eyes! Is there any haunting of the Bank Parlour, by the
remorseful souls of old directors, in the nights of these later days,
I wonder, or is it as quiet as this degenerate Aceldama of an Old

To walk on to the Bank, lamenting the good old times and bemoaning the
present evil period, would be an easy next step, so I would take it,
and would make my houseless circuit of the Bank, and give a thought to
the treasure within; likewise to the guard of soldiers passing the
night there, and nodding over the fire. Next, I went to Billingsgate,
in some hope of market-people, but it proving as yet too early,
crossed London-bridge and got down by the waterside on the Surrey
shore among the buildings of the great brewery. There was plenty going
on at the brewery; and the reek, and the smell of grains, and the
rattling of the plump dray horses at their mangers, were capital
company. Quite refreshed by having mingled with this good society, I
made a new start with a new heart, setting the old King's Bench prison
before me for my next object, and resolving, when I should come to the
wall, to think of poor Horace Kinch, and the Dry Rot in men.

A very curious disease the Dry Rot in men, and difficult to detect the
beginning of. It had carried Horace Kinch inside the wall of the old
King's Bench prison, and it had carried him out with his feet
foremost. He was a likely man to look at, in the prime of life, well
to do, as clever as he needed to be, and popular among many friends.
He was suitably married, and had healthy and pretty children. But,
like some fair-looking houses or fair-looking ships, he took the Dry
Rot. The first strong external revelation of the Dry Rot in men, is a
tendency to lurk and lounge; to be at street-corners without
intelligible reason; to be going anywhere when met; to be about many
places rather than at any; to do nothing tangible, but to have an
intention of performing a variety of intangible duties to-morrow or
the day after. When this manifestation of the disease is observed, the
observer will usually connect it with a vague impression once formed
or received, that the patient was living a little too hard. He will
scarcely have had leisure to turn it over in his mind and form the
terrible suspicion "Dry Rot," when he will notice a change for the
worse in the patient's appearance: a certain slovenliness and
deterioration, which is not poverty, nor dirt, nor intoxication, nor
ill-health, but simply Dry Rot. To this, succeeds a smell as of strong
waters, in the morning; to that, a looseness respecting money; to
that, a stronger smell as of strong waters, at all times; to that, a
looseness respecting everything; to that, a trembling of the limbs,
somnolency, misery, and crumbling to pieces. As it is in wood, so it
is in men. Dry Rot advances at a compound usury quite incalculable. A
plank is found infected with it, and the whole structure is devoted.
Thus it had been with the unhappy Horace Kinch, lately buried by a
small subscription. Those who knew him had not nigh done saying, "So
well off, so comfortably established, with such hope before him--and
yet, it is feared, with a slight touch of Dry Rot!" when lo! the man
was all Dry Rot and dust.

From the dead wall associated on those houseless nights with this too
common story, I chose next to wander by Bethlehem Hospital; partly,
because it lay on my road round to Westminster; partly, because I had
a night fancy in my head which could be best pursued within sight of
its walls and dome. And the fancy was this: Are not the sane and the
insane equal at night as the sane lie a dreaming? Are not all of us
outside this hospital, who dream, more or less in the condition of
those inside it, every night of our lives? Are we not nightly
persuaded, as they daily are, that we associate preposterously with
kings and queens, emperors and empresses, and notabilities of all
sorts? Do we not nightly jumble events and personages and times and
places, as these do daily? Are we not sometimes troubled by our own
sleeping inconsistencies, and do we not vexedly try to account for
them or excuse them, just as these do sometimes in respect of their
waking delusions? Said an afflicted man to me, when I was last in a
hospital like this, "Sir, I can frequently fly." I was half ashamed to
reflect that so could I--by night. Said a woman to me on the same
occasion, "Queen Victoria frequently comes to dine with me, and her
Majesty and I dine off peaches and maccaroni in our nightgowns, and
his Royal Highness the Prince Consort does us the honour to make a
third on horseback in a Field-Marshal's uniform." Could I refrain from
reddening with consciousness when I remembered the amazing royal
parties I myself had given (at night), the unaccountable viands I had
put on table, and my extraordinary manner of conducting myself on
those distinguished occasions? I wonder that the great master who knew
everything, when he called Sleep the death of each day's life, did not
call Dreams the insanity of each day's sanity.

By this time I had left the Hospital behind me, and was again setting
towards the river; and in a short breathing space I was on
Westminster-bridge, regaling my houseless eyes with the external walls
of the British Parliament--the perfection of a stupendous institution,
I know, and the admiration of all surrounding nations and succeeding
ages, I do not doubt, but perhaps a little the better now and then for
being pricked up to its work. Turning off into Old Palace-yard, the
Courts of Law kept me company for a quarter of an hour; hinting in low
whispers what numbers of people they were keeping awake, and how
intensely wretched and horrible they were rendering the small hours to
unfortunate suitors. Westminster Abbey was fine gloomy society for
another quarter of an hour; suggesting a wonderful procession of its
dead among the dark arches and pillars, each century more amazed by
the century following it than by all the centuries going before. And
indeed in those houseless night walks--which even included cemeteries
where watchmen went round among the graves at stated times, and moved
the tell-tale handle of an index which recorded that they had touched
it at such an hour--it was a solemn consideration what enormous hosts
of dead belong to one old great city, and how, if they were raised
while the living slept, there would not be the space of a pin's point
in all the streets and ways for the living to come out into. Not only
that, but the vast armies of dead would overflow the hills and valleys
beyond the city, and would stretch away all round it, God knows how

When a church clock strikes, on houseless ears in the dead of the
night, it may be at first mistaken for company and hailed as such.
But, as the spreading circles of vibration, which you may perceive at
such a time with great clearness, go opening out, for ever and ever
afterwards widening perhaps (as the philosopher has suggested) in
eternal space, the mistake is rectified and the sense of loneliness is
profounder. Once--it was after leaving the Abbey and turning my face
north--I came to the great steps of St. Martin's church as the clock
was striking Three. Suddenly, a thing that in a moment more I should
have trodden upon without seeing, rose up at my feet with a cry of
loneliness and houselessness, struck out of it by the bell, the like
of which I never heard. We then stood face to face looking at one
another, frightened by one another. The creature was like a
beetle-browed hair-lipped youth of twenty, and it had a loose bundle
of rags on, which it held together with one of its hands. It shivered
from head to foot, and its teeth chattered, and as it stared at
me--persecutor, devil, ghost, whatever it thought me--it made with its
whining mouth as if it were snapping at me, like a worried dog.
Intending to give this ugly object money, I put out my hand to stay
it--for it recoiled as it whined and snapped--and laid my hand upon
its shoulder. Instantly, it twisted out of its garment, like the young
man in the New Testament, and left me standing alone with its rags in
my hands.

Covent-garden Market, when it was market morning, was wonderful
company. The great waggons of cabbages, with growers' men and boys
lying asleep under them, and with sharp dogs from market-garden
neighbourhoods looking after the whole, were as good as a party. But
one of the worst night sights I know in London, is to be found in the
children who prowl about this place; who sleep in the baskets, fight
for the offal, dart at any object they think they can lay their
thieving hands on, dive under the carts and barrows, dodge the
constables, and are perpetually making a blunt pattering on the
pavement of the Piazza with the rain of their naked feet. A painful
and unnatural result comes of the comparison one is forced to
institute between the growth of corruption as displayed in the so much
improved and cared for fruits of the earth, and the growth of
corruption as displayed in these all uncared for (except inasmuch as
ever-hunted) savages.

There was early coffee to be got about Covent-garden Market, and that
was more company--warm company, too, which was better. Toast of a very
substantial quality, was likewise procurable: though the
towzled-headed man who made it, in an inner chamber within the
coffee-room, hadn't got his coat on yet, and was so heavy with sleep
that in every interval of toast and coffee he went off anew behind the
partition into complicated cross-roads of choke and snore, and lost
his way directly. Into one of these establishments (among the
earliest) near Bow-street, there came one morning as I sat over my
houseless cup, pondering where to go next, a man in a high and long
snuff-coloured coat, and shoes, and, to the best of my belief, nothing
else but a hat, who took out of his hat a large cold meat pudding; a
meat pudding so large that it was a very tight fit, and brought the
lining of the hat out with it. This mysterious man was known by his
pudding, for on his entering, the man of sleep brought him a pint of
hot tea, a small loaf, and a large knife and fork and plate. Left to
himself in his box, he stood the pudding on the bare table, and,
instead of cutting it, stabbed it, over-hand, with the knife, like a
mortal enemy; then took the knife out, wiped it on his sleeve, tore
the pudding asunder with his fingers, and ate it all up. The
remembrance of this man with the pudding remains with me as the
remembrance of the most spectral person my houselessness encountered.
Twice only was I in that establishment, and twice I saw him stalk in
(as I should say, just out of bed, and presently going back to bed),
take out his pudding, stab his pudding, wipe the dagger, and eat his
pudding all up. He was a man whose figure promised cadaverousness, but
who had an excessively red face, though shaped like a horse's. On the
second occasion of my seeing him, he said huskily to the man of sleep,
"Am I red to-night?" "You are," he uncompromisingly answered. "My
mother," said the spectre, "was a red-faced woman that liked drink,
and I looked at her hard when she laid in her coffin, and I took the
complexion." Somehow, the pudding seemed an unwholesome pudding after
that, and I put myself in its way no more.

When there was no market, or when I wanted variety, a railway terminus
with the morning mails coming in, was remunerative company. But like
most of the company to be had in this world, it lasted only a very
short time. The station lamps would burst out ablaze, the porters
would emerge from places of concealment, the cabs and trucks would
rattle to their places (the post-office carts were already in theirs),
and, finally, the bell would strike up, and the train would come
banging in. But there were few passengers and little luggage, and
everything scuttled away with the greatest expedition. The locomotive
post-offices, with their great nets--as if they had been dragging the
country for bodies--would fly open as to their doors, and would
disgorge a smell of lamp, an exhausted clerk, a guard in a red coat,
and their bags of letters; the engine would blow and heave and
perspire, like an engine wiping its forehead and saying what a run it
had had; and within ten minutes the lamps were out, and I was
houseless and alone again.

But now, there were driven cattle on the high road near, wanting (as
cattle always do) to turn into the midst of stone walls, and squeeze
themselves through six inches' width of iron railing, and getting
their heads down (also as cattle always do) for tossing-purchase at
quite imaginary dogs, and giving themselves and every devoted creature
associated with them a most extraordinary amount of unnecessary
trouble. Now, too, the conscious gas began to grow pale with the
knowledge that daylight was coming, and straggling work-people were
already in the streets, and, as waking life had become extinguished
with the last pieman's sparks, so it began to be rekindled with the
fires of the first street-corner breakfast-sellers. And so by faster
and faster degrees, until the last degrees were very fast, the day
came, and I was tired and could sleep. And it is not, as I used to
think, going home at such times, the least wonderful thing in London,
that in the real desert region of the night, the houseless wanderer is
alone there. I knew well enough where to find Vice and Misfortune of
all kinds, if I had chosen; but they were put out of sight, and my
houselessness had many miles upon miles of streets in which it could,
and did, have its own solitary way.



These words will be familiar to all students of Skelt's Juvenile
Drama. That national monument, after having changed its name to
Park's, to Webb's, to Redington's, and last of all to Pollock's, has
now become, for the most part, a memory. Some of its pillars, like
Stonehenge, are still afoot, the rest clean vanished. It may be the
Museum numbers a full set; and Mr. Ionides perhaps, or else her
gracious Majesty, may boast their great collections; but to the plain
private person they are become, like Raphaels, unattainable. I have,
at different times, possessed _Aladdin_, _The Red Rover_, _The Blind
Boy_, _The Old Oak Chest_, _The Wood Dæmon_, _Jack Sheppard_, _The
Miller and his Men_, _Der Freischütz_, _The Smuggler_, _The Forest of
Bondy_, _Robin Hood_, _The Waterman_, _Richard I._, _My Poll and my
Partner Joe_, _The Inchcape Bell_ (imperfect), and _Three-Fingered
Jack, the Terror of Jamaica_; and I have assisted others in the
illumination of _The Maid of the Inn_ and _The Battle of Waterloo_. In
this roll-call of stirring names you read the evidences of a happy
childhood; and though not half of them are still to be procured of any
living stationer, in the mind of their once happy owner all survive,
kaleidoscopes of changing pictures, echoes of the past.

There stands, I fancy, to this day (but now how fallen!) a certain
stationer's shop at a corner of the wide thoroughfare that joins the
city of my childhood with the sea. When, upon any Saturday, we made a
party to behold the ships, we passed that corner; and since in those
days I loved a ship as a man loves Burgundy or daybreak, this of
itself had been enough to hallow it. But there was more than that. In
the Leith Walk window, all the year round, there stood displayed a
theatre in working order, with a "forest set," a "combat," and a few
"robbers carousing" in the slides; and below and about, dearer tenfold
to me! the plays themselves, those budgets of romance, lay tumbled one
upon another. Long and often have I lingered there with empty pockets.
One figure, we shall say, was visible in the first plate of
characters, bearded, pistol in hand, or drawing to his ear the
clothyard arrow; I would spell the name: was it Macaire, or Long Tom
Coffin, or Grindoff, 2d dress? O, how I would long to see the rest!
how--if the name by chance were hidden--I would wonder in what play he
figured, and what immortal legend justified his attitude and strange
apparel! And then to go within, to announce yourself as an intending
purchaser, and, closely watched, be suffered to undo those bundles and
breathlessly devour those pages of gesticulating villains, epileptic
combats, bosky forests, palaces and war-ships, frowning fortresses and
prison vaults--it was a giddy joy. That shop, which was dark and smelt
of Bibles, was a loadstone rock for all that bore the name of boy.
They could not pass it by, nor, having entered, leave it. It was a
place besieged; the shopmen, like the Jews rebuilding Salem, had a
double task. They kept us at the stick's end, frowned us down,
snatched each play out of our hand ere we were trusted with another;
and, incredible as it may sound, used to demand of us upon our
entrance, like banditti, if we came with money or with empty hand. Old
Mr. Smith himself, worn out with my eternal vacillation, once swept
the treasures from before me, with the cry: "I do not believe, child,
that you are an intending purchaser at all!" These were the dragons of
the garden; but for such joys of paradise we could have faced the
Terror of Jamaica himself. Every sheet we fingered was another
lightning glance into obscure, delicious story; it was like wallowing
in the raw stuff of story-books. I know nothing to compare with it
save now and then in dreams, when I am privileged to read in certain
unwrit stones of adventure, from which I awake to find the world all
vanity. The _crux_ of Buridan's donkey was as nothing to the
uncertainty of the boy as he handled and lingered and doated on these
bundles of delight; there was a physical pleasure in the sight and
touch of them which he would jealously prolong; and when at length the
deed was done, the play selected, and the impatient shopman had
brushed the rest into the gray portfolio, and the boy was forth again,
a little late for dinner, the lamps springing into light in the blue
winter's even, and _The Miller_, or _The Rover_, or some kindred drama
clutched against his side--on what gay feet he ran, and how he laughed
aloud in exultation! I can hear that laughter still. Out of all the
years of my life, I can recall but one home-coming to compare with
these, and that was on the night when I brought back with me the
_Arabian Entertainments_ in the fat, old, double-columned volume with
the prints. I was just well into the story of the Hunchback, I
remember, when my clergyman-grandfather (a man we counted pretty
stiff) came in behind me. I grew blind with terror. But instead of
ordering the book away, he said he envied me. Ah, well he might!

The purchase and the first half-hour at home, that was the summit.
Thenceforth the interest declined by little and little. The fable, as
set forth in the play-book, proved to be not worthy of the scenes and
characters: what fable would not? Such passages as: "Scene 6. The
Hermitage. Night set scene. Place back of scene 1, No. 2, at back of
stage and hermitage, Fig. 2, out of set piece, R. H. in a slanting
direction"--such passages, I say, though very practical, are hardly to
be called good reading. Indeed, as literature, these dramas did not
much appeal to me. I forget the very outline of the plots. Of _The
Blind Boy_, beyond the fact that he was a most injured prince and
once, I think, abducted, I know nothing. And _The Old Oak Chest_, what
was it all about? that proscript (1st dress), that prodigious number
of banditti, that old woman with the broom, and the magnificent
kitchen in the third act (was it in the third?)--they are all fallen
in a deliquium, swim faintly in my brain, and mix and vanish.

I cannot deny that joy attended the illumination; nor can I quite
forget that child who, wilfully foregoing pleasure, stoops to
"twopence coloured." With crimson lake (hark to the sound of
it--crimson lake!--the horns of elf-land are not richer on the
ear)--with crimson lake and Prussian blue a certain purple is to be
compounded which, for cloaks especially, Titian could not equal. The
latter colour with gamboge, a hated name although an exquisite
pigment, supplied a green of such a savoury greenness that to-day my
heart regrets it. Nor can I recall without a tender weakness the very
aspect of the water where I dipped my brush. Yes, there was pleasure
in the painting. But when all was painted, it is needless to deny it,
all was spoiled. You might, indeed, set up a scene or two to look at;
but to cut the figures out was simply sacrilege; nor could any child
twice court the tedium, the worry, and the long-drawn disenchantment
of an actual performance. Two days after the purchase the honey had
been sucked. Parents used to complain; they thought I wearied of my
play. It was not so: no more than a person can be said to have wearied
of his dinner when he leaves the bones and dishes; I had got the
marrow of it and said grace.

Then was the time to turn to the back of the play-book and to study
that enticing double file of names, where poetry, for the true child
of Skelt, reigned happy and glorious like her Majesty the Queen. Much
as I have travelled in these realms of gold, I have yet seen, upon
that map or abstract, names of El Dorados that still haunt the ear of
memory, and are still but names. _The Floating Beacon_--why was that
denied me? or _The Wreck Ashore_? _Sixteen-String Jack_ whom I did not
even guess to be a highwayman, troubled me awake and haunted my
slumbers; and there is one sequence of three from that enchanted
calender that I still at times recall, like a loved verse of poetry:
_Lodoiska_, _Silver Palace_, _Echo of Westminster Bridge_. Names, bare
names, are surely more to children than we poor, grown-up, obliterated
fools remember.

The name of Skelt itself has always seemed a part and parcel of the
charm of his productions. It may be different with the rose, but the
attraction of this paper drama sensibly declined when Webb had crept
into the rubric: a poor cuckoo, flaunting in Skelt's nest. And now we
have reached Pollock, sounding deeper gulfs. Indeed, this name of
Skelt appears so stagey and piratic, that I will adopt it boldly to
design these qualities. Skeltery, then, is a quality of much art. It
is even to be found, with reverence be it said, among the works of
nature. The stagey is its generic name; but it is an old, insular,
home-bred staginess; not French, domestically British; not of to-day,
but smacking of O. Smith, Fitzball, and the great age of melodrama: a
peculiar fragrance haunting it; uttering its unimportant message in a
tone of voice that has the charm of fresh antiquity. I will not insist
upon the art of Skelt's purveyors. These wonderful characters that
once so thrilled our soul with their bold attitude, array of deadly
engines and incomparable costume, to-day look somewhat pallidly; the
extreme hard favour of the heroine strikes me, I had almost said with
pain; the villain's scowl no longer thrills me like a trumpet; and the
scenes themselves, those once unparalleled landscapes, seem the
efforts of a prentice hand. So much of fault we find; but on the other
side the impartial critic rejoices to remark the presence of a great
unity of gusto; of those direct clap-trap appeals, which a man is dead
and buriable when he fails to answer; of the footlight glamour, the
ready-made, bare-faced, transpontine picturesque, a thing not one with
cold reality, but how much dearer to the mind!

The scenery of Skeltdom--or, shall we say, the kingdom of
Transpontus?--had a prevailing character. Whether it set forth Poland
as in _The Blind Boy_, or Bohemia with _The Miller and his Men_, or
Italy with _The Old Oak Chest_, still it was Transpontus. A botanist
could tell it by the plants. The hollyhock was all pervasive, running
wild in deserts; the dock was common, and the bending reed; and
overshadowing these were poplar, palm, potato tree, and _Quercus
Skeltica_--brave growths. The caves were all embowelled in the
Surreyside formation; the soil was all betrodden by the light pump of
T. P. Cooke. Skelt, to be sure, had yet another, an oriental string:
he held the gorgeous east in fee; and in the new quarter of Hyères,
say, in the garden of the Hôtel des Îles d'Or, you may behold these
blessed visions realised. But on these I will not dwell; they were an
outwork; it was in the occidental scenery that Skelt was all himself.
It had a strong flavour of England; it was a sort of indigestion of
England and drop-scenes, and I am bound to say was charming. How the
roads wander, how the castle sits upon the hill, how the sun eradiates
from behind the cloud, and how the congregated clouds themselves
uproll, as stiff as bolsters! Here is the cottage interior, the usual
first flat, with the cloak upon the nail, the rosaries of onions, the
gun and powder-horn and corner-cupboard; here is the inn (this drama
must be nautical, I foresee Captain Luff and Bold Bob Bowsprit) with
the red curtain, pipes, spittoons, and eight-day clock; and there
again is that impressive dungeon with the chains, which was so dull to
colour. England, the hedgerow elms, the thin brick houses, windmills,
glimpses of the navigable Thames--England, when at last I came to
visit it, was only Skelt made evident: to cross the border was, for
the Scotsman, to come home to Skelt; there was the inn-sign and there
the horse-trough, all foreshadowed in the faithful Skelt. If, at the
ripe age of fourteen years, I bought a certain cudgel, got a friend to
load it, and thenceforward walked the tame ways of the earth my own
ideal, radiating pure romance--still I was but a puppet in the hand of
Skelt; the original of that regretted bludgeon, and surely the
antitype of all the bludgeon kind, greatly improved from Cruikshank,
had adorned the hand of Jonathan Wild. "This is mastering me," as
Whitman cries, upon some lesser provocation. What am I? what are life,
art, letters, the world, but what my Skelt has made them? He stamped
himself upon my immaturity. The world was plain before I knew him, a
poor penny world; but soon it was all coloured with romance. If I go
to the theatre to see a good old melodrama, 'tis but Skelt a little
faded. If I visit a bold scene in nature, Skelt would have been
bolder; there had been certainly a castle on that mountain, and the
hollow tree--that set piece--I seem to miss it in the foreground.
Indeed, out of this cut-and-dry, dull, swaggering, obtrusive, and
infantile art, I seem to have learned the very spirit of my life's
enjoyment; met there the shadows of the characters I was to read about
and love in a late future; got the romance of _Der Freischütz_ long
ere I was to hear of Weber or the mighty Formes; acquired a gallery of
scenes and characters with which, in the silent theatre of the brain,
I might enact all novels and romances; and took from these rude cuts
an enduring and transforming pleasure. Reader--and yourself?

A word of moral: it appears that B. Pollock, late J. Redington, No. 73
Hoxton Street, not only publishes twenty-three of these old stage
favourites, but owns the necessary plates and displays a modest
readiness to issue other thirty-three. If you love art, folly, or the
bright eyes of children, speed to Pollock's, or to Clarke's of Garrick
Street. In Pollock's list of publicanda I perceive a pair of my
ancient aspirations: _Wreck Ashore_ and _Sixteen-String Jack_; and I
cherish the belief that when these shall see once more the light of
day, B. Pollock will remember this apologist. But, indeed, I have a
dream at times that is not all a dream. I seem to myself to wander in
a ghostly street--E. W., I think, the postal district--close below the
fool's-cap of St. Paul's, and yet within easy hearing of the echo of
the Abbey bridge. There in a dim shop, low in the roof and smelling
strong of glue and footlights, I find myself in quaking treaty with
great Skelt himself, the aboriginal, all dusty from the tomb. I buy,
with what a choking heart--I buy them all, all but the pantomimes; I
pay my mental money, and go forth; and lo! the packets are dust.

    _R. L. Stevenson._


A July fly went sideways over the long grass. His wings made a burr
about him like a net, beating so fast they wrapped him round with a
cloud. Every now and then, as he flew over the trees of grass, a
taller one than common stopped him, and there he clung, and then the
eye had time to see the scarlet spots--the loveliest colour--on his
wings. The wind swung the burnet and loosened his hold, and away he
went again over the grasses, and not one jot did he care if they were
_Poa_ or _Festuca_, or _Bromus_ or _Hordeum_, or any other name. Names
were nothing to him; all he had to do was to whirl his scarlet spots
about in the brilliant sun, rest when he liked, and go on again. I
wonder whether it is a joy to have bright scarlet spots, and to be
clad in the purple and gold of life; is the colour felt by the
creature that wears it? The rose, restful of a dewy morn before the
sunbeams have topped the garden wall, must feel a joy in its own
fragrance, and know the exquisite hue of its stained petals. The rose
sleeps in its beauty.

The fly whirls his scarlet-spotted wings about and splashes himself
with sunlight, like the children on the sands. He thinks not of the
grass and sun; he does not heed them at all--and that is why he is so
happy--any more than the barefoot children ask why the sea is there,
or why it does not quite dry up when it ebbs. He is unconscious; he
lives without thinking about living; and if the sunshine were a
hundred hours long, still it would not be long enough. No, never
enough of sun and sliding shadows that come like a hand over the table
to lovingly reach our shoulder, never enough of the grass that smells
sweet as a flower, not if we could live years and years equal in
number to the tides that have ebbed and flowed counting backwards four
years to every day and night, backward still till we found out which
came first, the night or the day. The scarlet-dotted fly knows nothing
of the names of the grasses that grow here where the sward nears the
sea, and thinking of him I have decided not to wilfully seek to learn
any more of their names either. My big grass book I have left at home,
and the dust is settling on the gold of the binding. I have picked a
handful this morning of which I know nothing. I will sit here on the
turf and the scarlet-dotted flies shall pass over me, as if I too were
but a grass. I will not think, I will be unconscious, I will live.

Listen! that was the low sound of a summer wavelet striking the
uncovered rock over there beneath in the green sea. All things that
are beautiful are found by chance, like everything that is good. Here
by me is a praying-rug, just wide enough to kneel on, of the richest
gold inwoven with crimson. All the Sultans of the East never had such
beauty as that to kneel on. It is, indeed, too beautiful to kneel on,
for the life in these golden flowers must not be broken down even for
that purpose. They must not be defaced, not a stem bent; it is more
reverent not to kneel on them, for this carpet prays itself. I will
sit by it and let it pray for me. It is so common, the bird's-foot
lotus, it grows everywhere; yet if I purposely searched for days I
should not have found a plot like this, so rich, so golden, so glowing
with sunshine. You might pass by it in one stride, yet it is worthy to
be thought of for a week and remembered for a year. Slender grasses,
branched round about with slenderer boughs, each tipped with pollen
and rising in tiers cone-shaped--too delicate to grow tall--cluster at
the base of the mound. They dare not grow tall or the wind would snap
them. A great grass, stout and thick, rises three feet by the hedge,
with a head another foot nearly, very green and strong and bold,
lifting itself right up to you; you must say, "What a fine grass!"
Grasses whose awns succeed each other alternately; grasses whose tops
seem flattened; others drooping over the shorter blades beneath; some
that you can only find by parting the heavier growth around them;
hundreds and hundreds, thousands and thousands. The kingly poppies on
the dry summit of the mound take no heed of these, the populace, their
subjects so numerous they cannot be numbered. A barren race they are,
the proud poppies, lords of the July field, taking no deep root, but
raising up a brilliant blazon of scarlet heraldry out of nothing. They
are useless, they are bitter, they are allied to sleep and poison and
everlasting night; yet they are forgiven because they are not
commonplace. Nothing, no abundance of them, can ever make the poppies
commonplace. There is genius in them, the genius of colour, and they
are saved. Even when they take the room of the corn we must admire
them. The mighty multitude of nations, the millions and millions of
the grass stretching away in intertangled ranks, through pasture and
mead from shore to shore, have no kinship with these their lords. The
ruler is always a foreigner. From England to China the native born is
no king; the poppies are the Normans of the field. One of these on the
mound is very beautiful, a width of petal, a clear silkiness of colour
three shades higher than the rest--it is almost dark with scarlet. I
wish I could do something more than gaze at all this scarlet and gold
and crimson and green, something more than see it, not exactly to
drink it or inhale it, but in some way to make it part of me that I
might live it.

The July grasses must be looked for in corners and out-of-the-way
places, and not in the broad acres--the scythe has taken them there.
By the wayside on the banks of the lane, near the gateway--look, too,
in uninteresting places behind incomplete buildings on the mounds cast
up from abandoned foundations where speculation has been and gone.
There weeds that would not have found resting-place elsewhere grow
unchecked, and uncommon species and unusually large growths appear.
Like everything else that is looked for, they are found under unlikely
conditions. At the back of ponds, just inside the enclosure of woods,
angles of corn-fields, old quarries, that is where to find grasses, or
by the sea in the brackish marsh. Some of the finest of them grow by
the mere road-side; you may look for others up the lanes in the deep
ruts, look too inside the hollow trees by the stream. In a morning you
may easily garner together a great sheaf of this harvest. Cut the
larger stems aslant, like the reeds imitated deep in old green glass.
You must consider as you gather them the height and slenderness of the
stems, the droop and degree of curve, the shape and colour of the
panicle, the dusting of the pollen, the motion and sway in the wind.
The sheaf you may take home with you, but the wind that was among it
stays without.

    _Richard Jeffries._


It is now a complaint of quite respectable antiquity that the types in
which humanity was originally set up by a humour-loving Providence are
worn out and require recasting. The surface of society has become
smooth. It ought to be a bas-relief--it is a plane. Even a Chaucer (so
it is said) could make nothing of us as we wend our way to Brighton.
We have tempers, it is true--bad ones for the most part; but no
humours to be in or out of. We are all far too much alike; we do not
group well; we only mix. All this, and more, is alleged against us. A
cheerfully disposed person might perhaps think that, assuming the
prevailing type to be a good, plain, readable one, this uniformity
need not necessarily be a bad thing; but had he the courage to give
expression to this opinion he would most certainly be at once told,
with that mixture of asperity and contempt so properly reserved for
those who take cheerful views of anything, that without well-defined
types of character there can be neither national comedy nor whimsical
novel; and as it is impossible to imagine any person sufficiently
cheerful to carry the argument further by inquiring ingenuously, "And
how would that matter?" the position of things becomes serious, and
demands a few minutes' investigation.

As we said at the beginning, the complaint is an old one--most
complaints are. When Montaigne was in Rome in 1580 he complained
bitterly that he was always knocking up against his own countrymen,
and might as well have been in Paris. And yet some people would have
you believe that this curse of the Continent is quite new. More than
seventy years ago that most quotable of English authors, Hazlitt,
wrote as follows:

"It is, indeed, the evident tendency of all literature to generalize
and dissipate character by giving men the same artificial education
and the same common stock of ideas; so that we see all objects from
the same point of view, and through the same reflected medium; we
learn to exist not in ourselves, but in books; all men become alike,
mere readers--spectators, not actors in the scene and lose all proper
personal identity. The templar--the wit--the man of pleasure and the
man of fashion, the courtier and the citizen, the knight and the
squire, the lover and the miser--Lovelace, Lothario, Will Honeycomb
and Sir Roger de Coverley, Sparkish and Lord Foppington, Western and
Tom Jones, my Father and my Uncle Toby, Millament and Sir Sampson
Legend, Don Quixote and Sancho, Gil Bias and Guzman d'Alfarache, Count
Fathom and Joseph Surface--have all met and exchanged commonplaces on
the barren plains of the _haute littérature_--toil slowly on to the
Temple of Science, seen a long way off upon a level, and end in one
dull compound of politics, criticism, chemistry, and metaphysics."

Very pretty writing, certainly[53]; nor can it be disputed that
uniformity of surroundings puts a tax upon originality. To make bricks
and find your own straw are terms of bondage. Modern characters, like
modern houses, are possibly built too much on the same lines.
Dickens's description of Coketown is not easily forgotten:

"All the public inscriptions in the town were painted alike, in severe
characters of black and white. The jail might have been the infirmary,
the infirmary might have been the jail, the town hall might have been
either, or both, or anything else, for anything that appeared to the
contrary in the graces of their construction."

[Footnote 53: Yet in his essay _On Londoners and Country People_ we
find Hazlitt writing: "London is the only place in which the child
grows completely up into the man. I have known characters of this
kind, which, in the way of childish ignorance and self-pleasing
delusion, exceeded anything to be met with in Shakespeare or Ben
Jonson, or the Old Comedy."]

And the inhabitants of Coketown are exposed to the same objection as
their buildings. Every one sinks all traces of what he vulgarly calls
"the shop" (that is, his lawful calling), and busily pretends to be
nothing. Distinctions of dress are found irksome. A barrister of
feeling hates to be seen in his robes save when actually engaged in a
case. An officer wears his uniform only when obliged. Doctors have
long since shed all outward signs of their healing art. Court dress
excites a smile. A countess in her jewels is reckoned indecent by the
British workman, who, all unemployed, puffs his tobacco smoke against
the window-pane of the carriage that is conveying her ladyship to a
drawing-room; and a West End clergyman is with difficulty restrained
from telling his congregation what he had been told the British
workman said on that occasion. Had he but had the courage to repeat
those stirring words, his hearers (so he said) could hardly have
failed to have felt their force--so unusual in such a place; but he
had not the courage, and that sermon of the pavement remains
unpreached. The toe of the peasant is indeed kibing the heel of the
courtier. The passion for equality in externals cannot be denied. We
are all woven strangely in the same piece, and so it comes about that,
though our modern society has invented new callings, those callings
have not created new types. Stockbrokers, directors, official
liquidators, philanthropists, secretaries--not of State, but of
companies--speculative builders, are a new kind of people known to
many--indeed, playing a great part among us--but who, for all that,
have not enriched the stage with a single character. Were they to
disappear to-morrow, to be blown dancing away like the leaves before
Shelley's west wind, where in reading or playgoing would posterity
encounter them? Alone amongst the children of men the pale student of
the law, burning the midnight oil in some one of the "high lonely
towers" recently built by the Benchers of the Middle Temple (in the
Italian taste), would, whilst losing his youth over that interminable
series, _The Law Reports_, every now and again strike across the old
track, once so noisy with the bayings of the well-paid hounds of
justice, and, pushing his way along it, trace the history of the bogus
company, from the acclamations attendant upon its illegitimate birth
to the hour of disgrace when it dies by strangulation at the hands of
the professional wrecker. The pale student will not be a wholly
unsympathetic reader. Great swindles have ere now made great
reputations, and lawyers may surely be permitted to take a pensive
interest in such matters.

    "Not one except the Attorney was amused--
    He, like Achilles, faithful to the tomb,
    So there were quarrels, cared not for the cause,
    Knowing they must be settled by the laws."

But our elder dramatists would not have let any of these characters
swim out of their ken. A glance over Ben Jonson, Massinger, Beaumont
and Fletcher, is enough to reveal their frank and easy method. Their
characters, like an apothecary's drugs, wear labels round their necks.
Mr. Justice Clement and Mr. Justice Greedy; Master Matthew, the town
gull; Sir Giles Overreach, Sir Epicure Mammon, Mr. Plenty, Sir John
Frugal, need no explanatory context. Are our dramatists to blame for
withholding from us the heroes of our modern society? Ought we to

    "Sir Moses, Sir Aaron, Sir Jamramagee,
    Two stock-jobbing Jews, and a shuffling Parsee"?

Baron Contango, the Hon. Mr. Guinea-Pig, poor Miss Impulsia Allottee,
Mr. Jeremiah Builder--Rare Old Ben, who was fond of the City, would
have given us them all and many more; but though we may well wish he
were here to do it, we ought, I think, to confess that the humour of
these typical persons who so swell the _dramatis personæ_ of an
Elizabethan is, to say the least of it, far to seek. There is a
certain warm-hearted tradition about their very names which makes
disrespect painful. It seems a churl's part not to laugh, as did our
fathers before us, at the humours of the conventional parasite or
impossible serving-man; but we laugh because we will, and not because
we must.

Genuine comedy--the true tickling scene, exquisite absurdity,
soul-rejoicing incongruity--has really nothing to do with types,
prevailing fashions, and such-like vulgarities. Sir Andrew Aguecheek
is not a typical fool; he _is_ a fool, seised in fee simple of his

Humour lies not in generalizations, but in the individual; not in his
hat nor in his hose, even though the latter be "cross-gartered"; but
in the deep heart of him, in his high-flying vanities, his low-lying
oddities--what we call his "ways"--nay, in the very motions of his
back as he crosses the road. These stir our laughter whilst he lives
and our tears when he dies, for in mourning over him we know full well
we are taking part in our own obsequies. "But indeed," wrote Charles
Lamb, "we die many deaths before we die, and I am almost sick when I
think that such a hold as I had of you is gone."

Literature is but the reflex of life, and the humour of it lies in the
portrayal of the individual, not the type; and though the young man in
_Locksley Hall_ no doubt observes that the individual withers, we have
but to take down George Meredith's novels to find the fact is
otherwise, and that we have still one amongst us who takes notes, and
against the battery of whose quick wits even the costly raiment of
Poole is no protection. We are forced as we read to exclaim with
Petruchio: "Thou hast hit it; come sit on me." No doubt the task of
the modern humorist is not so easy as it was. The surface ore has been
mostly picked up. In order to win the precious metal you must now work
with in-stroke and out-stroke after the most approved methods.
Sometimes one would enjoy it a little more if we did not hear quite so
distinctly the snorting of the engine, and the groaning and the
creaking of the gear as it painfully winds up its prize: but what
would you? Methods, no less than men, must have the defects of their

If, therefore, it be the fact that our national comedy is in decline,
we must look for some other reasons for it than those suggested by
Hazlitt in 1817. When Mr. Chadband inquired, "Why can we not fly, my
friends?" Mr. Snagsby ventured to observe, "in a cheerful and rather
knowing tone, 'No wings!'" but he was immediately frowned down by Mrs.
Snagsby. We lack courage to suggest that the somewhat heavy-footed
movements of our recent dramatists are in any way due to their not
being provided with those twin adjuncts indispensable for the genius
who would soar.

    _Augustine Birrell._


The most distinguished of living Englishmen, who, great as he is in
many directions, is perhaps inherently more a man of letters than
anything else, has been overheard mournfully to declare that there
were more book-sellers' shops in his native town sixty years ago, when
he was a boy in it, than are to-day to be found within its boundaries.
And yet the place "all unabashed" now boasts its bookless self a city!

Mr. Gladstone was, of course, referring to second-hand bookshops.
Neither he nor any other sensible man puts himself out about new
books. When a new book is published, read an old one, was the advice
of a sound though surly critic. It is one of the boasts of letters to
have glorified the term "second-hand," which other crafts have "soiled
to all ignoble use." But why it has been able to do this is obvious.
All the best books are necessarily second-hand. The writers of to-day
need not grumble. Let them "bide a wee." If their books are worth
anything, they, too, one day will be second-hand. If their books are
not worth anything there are ancient trades still in full operation
amongst us--the pastrycooks and the trunkmakers--who must have paper.

But is there any substance in the plaint that nobody now buys books,
meaning thereby second-hand books? The late Mark Pattison, who had
16,000 volumes, and whose lightest word has therefore weight, once
stated that he had been informed, and verily believed, that there were
men of his own University of Oxford who, being in uncontrolled
possession of annual incomes of not less than £500, thought they were
doing the thing handsomely if they expended £50 a year upon their
libraries. But we are not bound to believe this unless we like. There
was a touch of morosity about the late Rector of Lincoln which led him
to take gloomy views of men, particularly Oxford men.

No doubt arguments _a priori_ may readily be found to support the
contention that the habit of book-buying is on the decline. I confess
to knowing one or two me