Part 5 out of 9
The following is a copy of the entry:--
"On Thursday last past, being ye 19 Sep'tr, A.D. 1774, was interr'd ye
bodie off onne Matthewe Haygarthe, ag'd foure yeres, remoov'd fromm ye
Churcheyarde off St. Marie, under ye hil, Spotswolde, in this Co. Pade
forr so doeing, sevven shill."
After having inspected the register, I asked many further questions,
but without eliciting much further information. So I expressed my
thanks for the courtesy that had been shown me, and took my departure,
not wishing to press the matter so closely as to render myself a
nuisance to the worthy Wendover, and bearing in mind that it would be
open to me to return at any future time.
And now I ask myself--and I ask the astute Sheldon--what is the meaning
of this mysterious burial, and is it likely to have any bearing on the
object of our search? These are questions for the consideration of the
I spent my evening in jotting down the events of the day, in the above
free-and-easy fashion for my own guidance, and in a more precise and
business-like style for my employer. I posted my letter before ten
o'clock, the hour at which the London mail is made up, and then smoked
my cigar in the empty streets, overshadowed by gaunt square stacks of
building and tall black chimneys; and so back to my inn, where I took a
glass of ale and another cigar, and then to bed, as the worthy Pepys
might have concluded.
MR. GOODGE'S WISDOM.
_Oct. 5th_. My dreams last night were haunted by the image of gray-eyed
Molly, with her wild loose hair. She must needs have been a sweet
creature; and how she came amongst those prim fishy-eyed men and women
with absurd head-gear is much more than I can understand. That she
should mix herself up with Diana Paget, and play _rouge-et-noir_ at
Foretdechene in a tucked-up chintz gown and a quilted satin petticoat,
in my dreams last night--that I should meet her afterwards in the
little stucco temple on the Belgian hills, and stab her to the heart,
whereon she changed into Charlotte Halliday--is only in the nature of
dreams, and therefore no subject for wonder.
On referring to Sheldon's letter I found that the next people to be
looked up were descendants of Brice the lawyer; so I devoted my
breakfast-hour to the cultivation of an intimacy with the oldest of the
waiters--a very antique specimen of his brotherhood, with a white
stubble upon his chin and a tendency to confusion of mind in the matter
of forks and spoons.
"Do you know, or have you ever known, an attorney of the name of Brice
in this town?" I asked him.
He rubbed the white stubble contemplatively with his hand, and then
gave his poor old head a dejected shake. I felt at once that I should
get very little good out of _him_.
"No," he murmured despondently, "not that I can call to mind."
I should like to know what he _could_ call to mind, piteous old
"And yet you belong to Ullerton, I suppose?"
"Yes; and have belonged to it these seventy-five years, man and boy;"
whereby, no doubt, the dreary confusion of the unhappy being's mind.
Figurez donc, mon cher. Qui-que-ce-soit, fifty-five years or so of
commercial breakfasts and dinners in such a place as Ullerton!
Five-and-fifty years of steaks and chops; five-and-fifty years of ham
and eggs, indifferently buttered toasts, and perennial sixes of
brandy-and-water! After rambling to and fro with spoons and forks, and
while in progress of clearing my table, and dropping the different
items of my breakfast equipage, the poor soddened faded face of this
dreary wanderer became suddenly illumined with a faint glimmer that was
almost the light of reason.
"There were a Brice in Ullerton when I were a lad; I've heard father
tell on him," he murmured slowly.
"Yes. He were a rare wild one, he were! It was when the Prince of Wales
were Regent for his poor old mad father, as the saying is, and folks
was wilder like in general in those times, and wore spencers--lawyer
Brice wore a plum-coloured one."
Imagine then again, mon cher, an attorney in a plum-coloured spencer!
Who, in these enlightened days, would trust his business to such a
practitioner? I perked up considerably, believing that my aged imbecile
was going to be of real service to me.
"Yes, he were a rare wild one, he were," said my ancient friend with
excitement. "I can remember him as well as if it was yesterday, at
Tiverford races--there was races at Tiverford in those days, and
gentlemen jocks. Lawyer Brice rode his roan mare--Queen Charlotte they
called her. But after that he went wrong, folks said--speckilated with
some money, you see, that he didn't ought to have touched--and went to
America, and died." "Died in America, did he? Why the deuce couldn't he
die in Ullerton? I should fancy it was a pleasanter place to die in
than it is to live in. And how about his sons?"
"Lawyer Brice's sons?"
"Yes, of course."
My imbecile's lips expanded into a broad grin.
"Lawyer Brice never had no sons," he exclaimed, with a tone which
seemed to express a contemptuous pity for my ignorance; "he never
"Well, well; his brothers. He had brothers, I suppose?"
"Not as _I_ ever heard tell on," answered my imbecile, relapsing into
It was clear that no further help was to be obtained from him. I went
to the landlord--a brisk business-like individual of Transatlantic
goaheadism. From him I learned that there were no Brices in Ullerton,
and never had been within the thirty years of his experience in that
town. He gave me an Ullerton directory in confirmation of that fact--a
neat little shilling volume, which I begged leave to keep for a quarter
of an hour before returning it.
Brice was evidently a failure. I turned to the letter G, and looked up
the name of Goodge. Goodge, Jonah, minister of Beulah Chapel, resided
at No. 7, Waterhouse-lane--the lane in which I had seen the chapel.
I determined upon waiting on the worthy Goodge. He may be able to
enlighten me as to the name of the pastor who preached to the Wesleyan
flock in the time of Rebecca Caulfield; and from the descendants of
such pastor I may glean some straws and shreds of information. The
pious Rebecca would have been likely to confide much to her spiritual
director. The early Wesleyans had all the exaltation of the Quietists,
and something of the lunatic fervour of the Convulsionists, who kicked
and screamed themselves into epilepsy under the influence of the
Unigenitus Bull. The pious Rebecca was no doubt an enthusiast.
* * * * *
I found No. 7, Waterhouse-lane. It is a neat little six-roomed house,
with preternaturally green palings enclosing about sixty square feet of
bright yellow gravel, adorned by a row of whitewashed shells. Some
scarlet geraniums bloomed in pots of still more vivid scarlet; and the
sight of those bright red blossoms recalled Philip Sheldon's garden at
Bayswater, and that sweet girl by whose side I have walked its trim
But business is business; and if I am ever to sue for my Charlotte's
hand, I must present myself before her as the winner of the three
thousand. Remembering this, I lifted Mr. Goodge's knocker, and
presently found myself in conversation with that gentleman.
Whether unordained piety has a natural tendency to become greasy of
aspect, and whether, among the many miracles vouchsafed to the amiable
and really great Wesley, he received for his disciples of all time to
come the gift of a miraculous straightness and lankiness of hair, I
know not; but I do know that every Methodist parson I have had the
honour to know has been of one pattern, and that Mr. Goodge is no
exception to the rule.
I am bound to record that I found him a very civil person, quite
willing to afford me any help in his power, and far more practical and
business-like than the rector of Dewsdale.
It seems that the gift of tongues descended on the Goodges during the
lifetime of John Wesley himself, and during the earlier part of that
teacher's career. It was a Goodge who preached in the draper's
warehouse, and it was the edifying discourse of a Goodge which
developed the piety of Miss Rebecca Caulfield, afterwards Mrs.
"That Goodge was my great-uncle," said the courteous Jonah, "and there
was no one in Ullerton better acquainted with Rebecca Caulfield. I've
heard my grandmother talk of her many a time. She used to send him
poultry and garden-stuff from her house at Dewsdale, and at his
instigation she contributed handsomely to the erection of the chapel in
which it is my privilege to preach."
I felt that I had struck upon a vein of gold. Here was a sharp-witted,
middle-aged man--not an ancient mariner, or a meandering imbecile--who
could remember the talk of a grandmother who had known Matthew
Haygarth's wife. And this visit to Mr. Goodge was my own idea, not
prompted by the far-seeing Sheldon. I felt myself advancing in the
insidious arts of a private inquirer.
"I am employed in the prosecution of a business which has a _remote_
relation to the Haygarth family history," I said; "and if you can
afford me any information on that subject I should be extremely
I emphasised the adjective "remote," and felt myself, in my humble way,
"What kind of information, do you require?" asked Mr. Goodge
"Any information respecting Matthew Haygarth or his wife."
Mr. Goodge became profoundly meditative after this.
"I am not given to act unadvisedly," he began--and I felt that I was in
for a little professional discourse: "the creatures of impulse are the
children of Satan, the babes of Lucifer, the infants of Beelzebub. I
take counsel in the silence of the night, and wait the whispers of
wisdom in the waking hours of darkness. You must allow me time to
ponder this business in my heart and to be still."
I told Mr. Goodge that I would willingly await his own time for
affording me any information in his power to give.
"That is pleasant," said the pastor blandly: "the worldly are apt to
rush blindly through life, as the roaring lion rushes through the
forest. I am not one of those rushing worldlings. I presume, by the
way, that such information as I may afford is likely to become a source
of pecuniary profit to your employer?"
I began to see that my friend Goodge and the rector of Dewsdale were
very different kind of people, and that I must play my cards
"That will depend upon the nature of your information," I replied
diplomatically; "it may be worth something to us, or it may be
"And in case it should be worth something?"
"In that case my employer would be glad to remunerate the person from
whom he obtained it."
Mr. Goodge again became meditative.
"It was the habit of the sainted Wesley to take counsel from the
Scriptures," he said presently: "if you will call again tomorrow, young
man, I shall have taken counsel, and may be able to entreat with you."
I did not much relish being addressed as "young man," even by such a
shining light as the Rev. Jonah Goodge. But as I wanted the Rev.
Jonah's aid, I submitted with a tolerable grace to his patriarchal
familiarity, and bade him good morning, after promising to call again
on the following day. I returned to my inn and wrote to Sheldon in time
for the afternoon mail, recounting my interview with Mr. Goodge, and
asking how far I should be authorised to remunerate that gentleman, or
to pledge myself to remunerate him for such information as he might
have to dispose of.
_Oct. 6th_. A letter from Sheldon.
"DEAR HAWKEHURST,--There may be something very important behind that
mysterious burial at Dewsdale. Go without delay to Spotswold; examine
registers, tombstones, &c; hunt up oldest inhabitant or inhabitants,
from whom you may be able to discover whether any Haygarth or Haygarths
over lived there, and all that is known respecting such Haygarth or
Haygarths. You have got a cine to _something_. Follow it up till it
breaks off short, as such clues often do, or till you find it is only
leading you on a wild-goose chase. The Dewsdale business is worth
"Mem. How about descendants of lawyer Brice?--Yours truly, G.S.
"G.'s Inn, Oct. 5th."
Before starting for Spotswold it was necessary
for me to see Mr. Goodge. I found that gentleman in a pious and yet
business-like frame of mind. He had taken counsel from the Scriptures,
like the founder of his sect; but I fancy with rather less spiritual
"The text upon which the lot fell was the 12th verse of the 9th chapter
in the Book of Proverbs, 'If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for
thyself,'" he said solemnly; "whereby I perceive that I shall not be
justified in parting with that which you seek without fitting
recompense. I ask you, therefore, young man, what are you prepared to
The Rev. Jonah's tone could scarcely have been more lofty, or his
manner more patronising, if he had been Saul and I the humble David;
but a man who is trying to earn three thousand pounds must put up with
a great deal. Finding that the minister was prepared to play the
huckster, I employed no further ceremony.
"The price must of course depend on the quality of the article you have
to sell," I said; "I must know that before I can propose terms."
"Suppose my information took the form of letters?"
"Letters from whom--to whom?"
"From Mrs. Rebecca Haygarth to my great-uncle, Samson Goodge."
"How many of such letters have you to sell?"
I put it very plainly; but the Rev. Jonah's susceptibilities were not
of the keenest order. He did not wince.
"Say forty odd letters."
I pricked up my ears; and it needed all my diplomacy to enable me to
conceal my sense of triumph. Forty odd letters! There must be an
enormous amount of information in forty odd letters; unless the woman
wrote the direst twaddle ever penned by a feminine correspondent.
"Over what period do the dates of these letters extend?" I asked.
"Over about seven years; from 1769 to 1776."
Four years prior to the marriage with our friend Matthew; three years
after the marriage.
"Are they tolerably long letters, or mere scrawls?"
"They were written in a period when nobody wrote short letters,"
answered Mr. Goodge sententiously,--"the period of Bath post and dear
postage. The greater number of the epistles cover three sides of a
sheet of letter-paper; and Mrs. Rebecca's caligraphy was small and
"Good!" I exclaimed. "I suppose it is no use my asking you to let me
see one of these letters before striking a bargain--eh, Mr. Goodge?"
"Well, I think not," answered the oily old hypocrite. "I have taken
counsel, and I will abide by the light that has been shown me. 'If thou
be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself;' such are the words of
inspiration. No, I think not."
"And what do you ask for the forty odd letters?"
"A stiff sum, Mr. Goodge, for forty sheets of old letter-paper."
"But if they were not likely to be valuable, you would scarcely happen
to want them," answered the minister. "I have taken counsel, young
"And those are your lowest terms?"
"I cannot accept sixpence less. It is not in me to go from my word. As
Jacob served Laban seven years, and again another seven years, having
promised, so do I abide by my bond. Having said twenty pounds, young
man, Heaven forbid that I should take so much as twenty pence less than
those twenty pounds!"
The solemn unction with which he pronounced this twaddle is beyond
description. The pretence of conscientious feeling which he contrived
to infuse into his sordid bargain-driving might have done honour to
Moliere's Tartuffe. Seeing that he was determined to stick to his
terms, I departed. I telegraphed to Sheldon for instructions as to
whether I was to give Goodge the money he asked, and then went back to
my inn, where I devoted myself for the next ten minutes to the study of
a railway time-table, with a view to finding the best route to
After a close perusal of bewildering strings of proper names and
dazzling columns of figures, I found a place called Black Harbour, "for
Wisborough, Spotswold, and Chilton." A train left Ullerton for Black
Harbour at six o'clock in the afternoon, and was due at the latter
place at 8.40.
This gave me an interval of some hours, in which I could do nothing,
unless I received a telegram from Sheldon. The chance of a reply from
him kept me a prisoner in the coffee-room of the Swan Inn, where I read
almost every line in the local and London newspapers pending the
arrival of the despatch, which came at last.
"Tell Goodge he shall have the sum asked, and get the letters at once.
Money by to-night's post."
This was Sheldon's message; sharp and short, and within the eighteen
penny limit. Acting upon this telegram, I returned to the abode of Mr.
Goodge, told him his terms were to be complied with, showed him the
telegram, at his request, and asked for the letters.
I ought to have known my reverend friend better than to imagine he
would part with those ancient documents except for money upon the
He smiled a smile which might have illuminated the visage of
"The letters have kept a long time, young man," he said, after having
studied the telegram as closely as if it had been written in Punic;
"and lo you, they are in nowise the worse for keeping: so they will
keep yet longer. 'If thou be wise, then shalt be wise for thyself.' You
can come for the letters tomorrow, and bring the money with you. Say at
I put on my hat and bade my friend good day. I have often been tempted
to throw things at people, and have withheld my hand; but I never felt
Satan so strong upon me as at that moment, and I very much fear that if
I had had anything in the way of a kitchen-poker or a carving-knife
about me, I should have flung that missile at the patriarchal head of
my saintly Jonah. As it was, I bade him good day and returned to the
Swan, where I took a hurried repast and started for the station,
carrying a light carpet-bag with me, as I was not likely to return till
the following night, at the earliest.
I arrived at the station ten minutes before the starting of the train,
and had to endure ten minutes of that weariness called waiting. I
exhausted the interest of all the advertisements on the station walls;
found out how I could have my furniture removed with the utmost
convenience--supposing myself to possess furniture; discovered where I
ought to buy a dinner-service, and the most agreeable kind of blind to
screen my windows in sunny weather. I was still lingering over the
description of this new invention in blinds, when a great bell set up a
sudden clanging, and the down train from London came thundering into
This was also the train for Black Harbour. There were a good many
passengers going northwards, a good many alighting at Ullerton; and in
the hurry and confusion I had some difficulty in finding a place in a
second-class carriage, the passengers therein blocking up the windows
with that unamiable exclusiveness peculiar to railway travellers. I
found a place at last, however; but in hurrying from carriage to
carriage I was startled by an occurrence which I have since pondered
I ran bolt against my respected friend and patron Horatio Paget.
We had only time to recognise each other with exclamations of mutual
surprise when the clanging bell rang again, and I was obliged to
scuffle into my seat. A moment's delay would have caused me to be left
behind. And to have remained behind would have been very awkward for
me; as the Captain would undoubtedly have questioned me as to my
business in Ullerton. Was I not supposed to be at Dorking, enjoying the
hospitality of an aged aunt?
It would have been unlucky to lose that train.
But what "makes" the gallant Captain in Ullerton? That is a question
which I deliberated as the train carried me towards Black Harbour.
Sheldon warned me of the necessity for secrecy, and I have been as
secret as the grave. It is therefore next to an impossibility that
Horatio Paget can have any idea of the business I am engaged in. He is
the very man of all others to try and supersede me if he had an inkling
of my plans; but I am convinced he can have no such inkling.
And yet the advertisement of the Haygarth property in the _Times_ was
as open to the notice of all the world as it was open to the notice of
George Sheldon. What if my patron should have been struck by the same
advertisement, and should have come to Ullerton on the same business?
It is possible, but it is not likely. When I left town the Captain was
engaged in Philip Sheldon's affairs. He has no doubt come to Ullerton
on Philip Sheldon's business. The town, which seems an abomination of
desolation to a man who is accustomed to London and Paris, is
nevertheless a commercial centre; and the stockbroker's schemes may
involve the simple Ullertonians, as well as the more experienced
children of the metropolis.
Having thought the business out thus, I gave myself no further trouble
about the unexpected appearance of my friend and benefactor.
At Black Harbour I found a coach, which carried me to Spotswold,
whither I travelled in a cramped and painful position as regards my
legs, and with a pervading sensation which was like a determination of
luggage to the brain, so close to my oppressed head was the
heavily-laden roof of the vehicle. It was pitch dark when I and two
fellow-passengers of agricultural aspect were turned out of the coach
at Spotswold, which in the gloom of night appeared to consist of half
a dozen houses shut in from the road by ghastly white palings, a grim
looming church, and a low-roofed inn with a feeble light glimmering
athwart a red stuff curtain.
At this inn I was fain to take up my abode for the night, and was
conducted to a little whitewashed bedchamber, draperied with scanty
dimity and smelling of apples--the humblest, commonest cottage chamber,
but clean and decent, and with a certain countrified aspect which was
pleasing to me. I fancied myself the host of such an inn, with
Charlotte for my wife; and it seemed to me that it would be nice to
live in that remote and unknown village, "the world forgetting, by the
world forgot." I beguiled myself by such foolish fancies--I, who have
been reared amidst the clamour and riot of the Strand!
Should I be happy with that dear girl if she were mine? Alas! I doubt
it. A man who has led a disreputable life up to the age of
seven-and-twenty is very likely to have lost all capacity for such
pure and perfect happiness as that which good men find in the tranquil
haven of a home.
Should I not hear the rattle of the billiard-balls, or the voice of the
_croupier_ calling the main, as I sat by my quiet fireside? Should I
not yearn for the glitter and confusion of West-end dancing-rooms, or
the mad excitement of the ring, while my innocent young wife was
sitting by my side and asking me to look at the blue eyes of my
No; Charlotte is not for me. There must be always the two classes--the
sheep and the goats; and my lot has been cast among the goats.
And yet there are some people who laugh to scorn the doctrines of
Calvin, and say there is no such thing as predestination.
Is there not predestination? Was not I predestined to be born in a gaol
and reared in a gutter, educated among swindlers and scoundrels, fed
upon stolen victuals, and clad in garments never to be paid for? Did no
Eumenides preside over the birth of Richard Savage, so set apart for
misery that the laws of nature were reversed, and even his mother hated
him? Did no dismal fatality follow the footsteps of Chatterton? Has no
mysterious ban been laid upon the men who have been called Dukes of
What foolish lamentations am I scribbling in this diary, which is
intended to be only the baldest record of events! It is so natural to
mankind to complain, that, having no ear in which to utter his
discontent, a man is fain to resort to pen and ink.
I devoted my evening to conversation with the landlord and his wife,
but found that the name of Haygarth was as strange to them as if it had
been taken from an inscription in the tomb of the Pharaohs. I inquired
about the few inhabitants of the village, and ascertained that the
oldest man in the place is the sexton, native-born, and supposed by
mine host never to have travelled twenty miles from his birthplace. His
name is Peter Drabbles. What extraordinary names that class of people
contrive to have! My first business to-morrow morning will be to find
my friend Drabbles--another ancient mariner, no doubt--and to examine
the parish registers.
_Oct. 7th_. A misty morning, and a perpetual drizzle--to say nothing of
a damp, penetrating cold, which creeps through the thickest overcoat,
and chills one to the bone. I do not think Spotswold can have much
brightness or prettiness even on the fairest summer morning that ever
beautified the earth. I know that, seen as I see it to-day, the place
is the very archetype of all that is darksome, dull, desolate, dismal,
and dreary. (How odd, by the way, that all that family of epithets
should have the same initial!) A wide stretch of moorland lies around
and about the little village, which crouches in a hollow, like some
poor dejected animal that seeks to shelter itself from the bitter
blast. On the edge of the moorland, and above the straggling cottages
and the little inn, rises the massive square tower of an old church, so
far out of proportion to the pitiful cluster of houses, that I imagine
it must be the remnant of some monastic settlement.
Towards this church I made my way, under the dispiriting drip, drip of
the rain, and accompanied by a feeble old man, who is sexton, clerk,
gravedigger, and anything or everything of an official nature.
We went into the church after my ancient mariner No. 2 had fumbled a
good deal with a bunch of ghostly-looking keys. The door opened with a
dismal scroop, and shut with an appalling bang. Grim and dark as the
church is without, it is grimmer and darker within, and damp and
vault-like, _a faire fremir_. There are all the mysterious cupboards
and corners peculiar to such edifices; an organ-loft, from which weird
noises issue at every opening or closing of a door; a vaulted roof,
which echoes one's footsteps with a moan, as of some outraged spirit
hovering in empty space, and ejaculating piteously, "Another impious
intruder after the sacramental plate! another plebeian sole trampling
on the brasses of the De Montacutes, lords of the manor!"
The vestry is, if anything, more ghostly than the general run of
vestries; but the business mind is compelled to waive all
considerations of a supernatural character. For the moment there
flashed across my brain the shadows of all the Christmas stories I had
ever read or heard concerning vestries; the phantom bridal, in which
the bride's beautiful white hand changed to the bony fingers of a
skeleton as she signed the register; the unearthly christening, in
which all at once, after the ceremony having been conducted with the
utmost respectability, to the edification of the unauthorised intruder
hiding behind a pillar, the godfathers and godmothers, nurse and baby,
priest and clerk, became in a moment dilapidated corpses; whereon the
appalled intruder fell prone at the foot of his pillar, there to be
discovered the next morning by his friends, and the public generally,
with his hair blanched to an awful whiteness, or his noble intellect
degraded to idiocy. For a moment, the memory of about a hundred
Christmas stories was too much for me--so weird of aspect and earthy of
atmosphere was the vestry at Spotswold. And then "being gone" the
shadows of the Christmas stories, I was a man and a lawyer's clerk
again, and set myself assiduously to search the registers and
interrogate my ancient.
I found that individual a creature of mental fogginess compared with
whom my oldest inhabitant of Ullerton would have been a Pitt, Earl of
Chatham. But I questioned and cross-questioned him until I had in a
manner turned his poor old wits the seamy side without, and had
discovered, first, that he had never known any one called Haygarth in
the whole course of those seventy-five years' vegetation which
politeness compelled me to speak of as his "life;" secondly, that he
had never known any one who knew a Haygarth; thirdly, that he was
intimately acquainted with every creature in the village, and that he
knew that no one of the inhabitants could give me the smallest shred of
such information as I required.
Having extorted so much as this from my ancient with unutterable
expenditure of time and trouble, I next set to work upon the registers.
If the ink manufactured in the present century is of no more durable
nature than that abominable fluid employed in the penmanship of a
hundred years ago, I profoundly pity the generations that are to come
after us. The registers of Spotswold might puzzle a Bunsen. However,
bearing in mind the incontrovertible fact that three thousand pounds is
a very agreeable sum of money, I stuck to my work for upwards of two
hours, and obtained as a result the following entries:--
"1. Matthew Haygarthe, aged foure yeares, berrid in this churcheyarde,
over against ye tombe off Mrs. Marttha Stileman, about 10 fete fromm ye
olde yue tre. Febevarie 6th, 1753."
"2. Mary Haygarthe, aged twentie sevene yeers, berrid under ye yue
tree, Nov. 21, 1754."
After copying these two entries, I went out into the churchyard to look
for Mary Haygarth's grave.
Under a fine old yew--which had been old a hundred years ago, it seems--
I found huddled amongst other headstones one so incrusted with moss,
that it was only after scraping the parasite verdure from the stone
with my penknife that I was able to discover the letters that had been
cut upon it. I found at last a brief inscription:
"Here lieth ye body of MARY HAYGARTH, aged 27. Born 1727. Died 1754.
This stone has been set up by one who sorroweth without hope of
consolation." A strange epitaph: no scrap of Latin, no text from
Scripture, no conventional testimony to the virtues and accomplishments
of the departed, no word to tell whether the dead woman had been maid,
wife, or widow. It was the most provoking inscription for a lawyer or a
genealogist, but such as might have pleased a poet.
I fancy this Mary Haygarth must have been some quiet creature, with
very few friends to sorrow for her loss; perhaps only that one person
who sorrowed without hope of consolation.
Such a tombstone might have been set above the grave of that simple
maid who dwelt "beside the banks of Dove."
This is the uttermost that my patience or ingenuity can do for me at
Spotswold. I have exhausted every possibility of obtaining further
information. So, having written and posted my report to Sheldon, I have
no more to do but to return to Ullerton. I take back with me nothing
but the copy of the two entries in the register of burials. Who this
Matthew Haygarth or this Mary Haygarth was, and how related to the
Matthew, is an enigma not to be solved at Spotswold.
Here the story of the Haygarths ends with the grave under the yew-tree.
BOOK THE FIFTH.
RELICS OF THE DEAD.
BETRAYED BY A BLOTTING-PAD.
At an early hour upon the day on which Valentine Hawkehurst telegraphed
to his employer, Philip Sheldon presented himself again at the dingy
door of the office in Gray's Inn.
The dingy door was opened by the still more dingy boy; and Mr. Sheldon
the elder--who lived in a state of chronic hurry, and had a hansom cab
in attendance upon him at almost every step of his progress through
life--was aggravated by the discovery that his brother was out.
"Out!" he repeated, with supreme disgust; "he always _is_ out, I think.
Where is he to be found?"
The boy replied that his master would be back in half an hour, if Mr.
Sheldon would like to wait.
"Like to wait!" cried the stockbroker; "when will lawyers' clerks have
sense enough to know that nobody on this earth ever _liked_ to wait?
Where's your master gone?"
"I think he's just slipped round into Holborn, sir," the boy replied,
with some slight hesitation. He was very well aware that George had
secrets from his brother, and that it was not judicious to be too free
in his communications to the elder gentleman. But the black eyes and
white teeth of the stockbroker seemed very awful to him; and if Philip
chose to question him, he must needs answer the truth, not having been
provided by his master with any convenient falsehood in case of
"What part of Holborn?" asked Philip sharply.
"I did hear tell as it was the telegraph office."
"Good!" exclaimed Mr. Sheldon; and then he dashed downstairs, leaving
the lad on the threshold of the door staring after him with eyes of
The telegraph office meant business; and any business of his brother's
was a matter of interest to Mr. Sheldon at this particular period. He
had meditated the meaning of George's triumphant smile in the secluded
calm of his own office; and the longer he had meditated, the more
deeply rooted had become his conviction that his brother was engaged in
some very deep and very profitable scheme, the nature of which it was
his bounden duty to discover.
Impressed by this idea, Mr. Sheldon returned to the hansom-cab, which
was waiting for him at the end of Warwick-court, and made his way to
the telegraph office. The ostensible motive of his call in Gray's Inn
was sufficient excuse for this following up of his brother's footsteps.
It was one of those waifs and strays of rather disreputable business
which the elder man sometimes threw in the way of the younger.
As the wheel of the hansom ground against the kerbstone in front of the
telegraph office, the figure of George Sheldon vanished in a little
court to the left of that establishment. Instead of pursuing this
receding figure, Philip Sheldon walked straight into the office.
It was empty. There was no one in any of the shaded compartments, so
painfully suggestive of pecuniary distress and the stealthy
hypothecation of portable property. A sound of rattling and bumping in
an inner office betrayed the neighbourhood of a clerk; but in the
office Mr. Sheldon was alone.
Upon the blotting-pad on the counter of the central partition the
stockbroker perceived one great blot of ink, still moist. Ha laid the
tip of his square forefinger upon it, to assure himself of that fact,
and then set himself deliberately to scrutinise the blotting-paper. He
was a man who seldom hesitated. His greatest _coups_ on the
money-market had been in a great measure the result of this faculty of
prompt decision. To-day he possessed himself of the blotting-pad, and
examined the half-formed syllables stamped upon it with as much coolness
and self-possession as if he had been seated in his own office reading
his own newspaper. A man given to hesitation would have looked to the
right and the left and watched for his opportunity--and lost it. Philip
Sheldon knew better than to waste his chances by needless precaution;
and he made himself master of all the intelligence the blotting-pad
could afford him before the clerk emerged from the inner den where the
rattling and stamping was going forward.
"I thought as much," muttered the stockbroker, as he recognised traces
of his brother's sprawling penmanship upon the pad. The message had
been written with a heavy hand and a spongy quill pen, and had left a
tolerably clear impression of its contents on the blotting-paper.
Here and there the words stood out bold and clear; here and there,
again, there was only one decipherable letter amongst a few broken
hieroglyphics. Mr. Sheldon was accustomed to the examination of very
illegible documents, and he was able to master the substance of that
random impression. If he could not decipher the whole, he made out
sufficient for his purpose. Money was to be offered to a man called
Goodge for certain letters. He knew his brother's affairs well enough
to know that these letters for which money was to be offered must needs
be letters of importance in some search for an heir-at-law. So far all
was clear and simple; but beyond this point he found himself at fault.
Where was this Goodge to be found? and who was the person that was to
offer him money for the letters? The names and address, which had been
written first, had left no impression on the blotting-pad, or an
impression so faint as to be useless for any practical purpose.
Mr. Sheldon put down the pad and lingered by the door of the office
deliberating, when the rattling and hammering came to an abrupt
termination, and the clerk emerged from the interior den.
"O," he exclaimed, "it's all right. Your message shall go directly."
The stockbroker, whose face was half averted from the clerk, and who
stood between that functionary and the light from the open doorway, at
once comprehended the error that had arisen. The clerk had mistaken him
for his brother.
"I'm not quite clear as to whether I gave the right address," he said
promptly, with his face still averted, and his attention apparently
occupied by a paper in his hand. "Just see how I wrote it, there's a
The clerk withdrew for a few minutes, and returned with the message in
"From George Sheldon to Valentine Hawkehurst, Black Swan Inn,
Ullerton," he read aloud from the document.
"All right, and thanks," cried the stockbroker.
He gave one momentary glance at the clerk, and had just time to see
that individual's look of bewilderment as some difference in his voice
and person from the voice and person of the black-whiskered man who had
just left the office dawned upon his troubled senses. After that one
glance Mr. Sheldon darted across the pavement, sprang into his cab, and
called to the driver, "Literary Institution, Burton-street, as fast as
you can go."
"I'll try my luck in the second column of the _Times_," he said to
himself. "If George's scheme is what I take it to be, I shall get some
clue to it there." He took a little oblong memorandum-book from his
pocket, and looked at his memoranda of the past week. Among those
careless jottings he found one memorandum scrawled in pencil, amongst
notes and addresses in ink, "_Haygarth--intestate. G.S. to see
"That's it," he exclaimed; "Haygarth--intestate; Valentine Hawkehurst
_not_ at Dorking, but working for my brother; Goodge--letters to be
paid for. It's all like the bits of mosaic that those antiquarian
fellows are always finding in the ruins of Somebody's Baths; a few
handfuls of coloured chips that look like rubbish, and can yet be
patched into a perfect geometric design. I'll hunt up a file of the
_Times_ at the Burton Institution, and find out this Haygarth, if he
is to be found there."
The Burton Institution was a somewhat dingy temple devoted to the
interests of science and literature, and next door to some baths that
were very popular among the denizens of Bloomsbury. People in quest of
the baths were apt to ascend the classic flight of steps leading to the
Institution, when they should have descended to a lowlier threshold
lurking modestly by the side of that edifice. The Baths and the
Institution had both been familiar to Mr. Sheldon in that period of
probation which he had spent in Fitzgeorge-street. He was sufficiently
acquainted with the librarian of the Institution to go in and out
uninterrogated, and to make any use he pleased of the reading-room. He
went in to-day, asked to see the latest bound volumes of the _Times_
and the latest files of unbound papers, and began his investigation,
working backwards. Rapidly and dexterously as he turned the big leaves
of the journals, the investigation occupied nearly three-quarters of an
hour; but at the expiration of that time he had alighted on the
advertisement published in the March of the preceding year.
He gave a very low whistle--a kind of phantom whistle--as he read this
advertisement. "John Haygarth!--a hundred thousand pounds!"
The fortune for which a claimant was lacking amounted to a hundred
thousand pounds! Mr. Sheldon knew commercial despots who counted their
wealth by millions, and whose fiat could sway the exchanges of Europe;
but a hundred thousand pounds seemed to him a very nice thing
nevertheless, and he was ready to dispute the prize the anticipation
whereof had rendered his brother so triumphant.
"He has rejected me as a coadjutor," he thought, as he went back to his
cab after having copied the advertisement; "he shall have me as an
"Omega-street, Chelsea, next call," he cried to the driver; and was
soon beyond the confines of Bloomsbury, and rattling away towards the
border-land of Belgravia. He had completed his search of the newspapers
at ten minutes past twelve, and at twenty minutes to one he presented
himself at the lodging-house in Omega-street, where he found Captain
Paget, in whose "promoting" business there happened to be a lull just
now. With this gentleman he had a long interview; and the result of
that interview was the departure of the Captain by the two o'clock
express for Ullerton. Thus had it happened that Valentine Hawkehurst
and his patron encountered each other on the platform of Ullerton
VALENTINE INVOKES THE PHANTOMS OF THE PAST.
_Oct. 7th, Midnight_. I was so fortunate as to get away from Spotswold
this morning very soon after the completion of my researches in the
vestry, and at five o'clock in the afternoon I found myself once more
in the streets of Ullerton. Coming home in the train I meditated
seriously upon the unexpected appearance of Horatio Paget at the
head-quarters of this Haygarthian investigation; and the more I
considered that fact, the more I felt inclined to doubt my patron's
motives, and to fear his interference. Can his presence in Ullerton
have any relation to the business that has brought me here? That is the
question which I asked myself a hundred times during my journey from
Spotswold; that is the question which I ask myself still.
I have no doubt I give myself unnecessary trouble; but I know that old
man's Machiavellian cleverness only too well; and I am inclined to look
with suspicion upon every action of his. My first business on returning
to this house was to ascertain whether any one bearing his name, or
answering to my description of him, had arrived during my absence. I
was relieved by finding that no stranger whatever had put up at the inn
since the previous forenoon. Who may have used the coffee-room is
another question, not so easily set at rest. In the evening a great
many people come in and go out; and my friend and patron may have taken
his favourite brandy-and-soda, skimmed his newspaper, and picked up
whatever information was to be obtained as to _my_ movements without
attracting any particular attention.
In the words of the immortal lessee of the Globe Theatre, "Why I should
fear I know not ... and yet I feel I fear!"
I found a registered letter from George Sheldon, enclosing twenty
pounds in notes, and furnished therewith I went straight to my friend
Jonah, whom I found engaged in the agreeable occupation of taking tea.
I showed him the money; but my estimate of the reverend gentleman's
honour being of a very limited nature, I took care not to give it to
him till he had produced the letters. On finding that I was really
prepared to give him his price, he went to an old-fashioned bureau, and
opened one of those secret recesses which cannot for three minutes
remain a secret to any investigator possessed of a tolerably accurate
eye or a three-foot rule. From this hiding-place--which he evidently
considered a triumph of mechanical art, worthy the cabinet of a
D'Argenson or a Fouche--he produced a packet of faded yellow letters,
about which there lurked a faint odour of dried rose-leaves and
lavender, which seemed the very perfume of the past.
When my reverend friend had laid the packet on the table within reach
of my hand, and not till then, I gave him the bank-notes. His fat old
fingers closed upon them greedily, and his fishy old eyes were
illumined by a faint glimmer which I believe nothing but bank-notes
could have kindled in them.
After having assured himself that they were genuine acknowledgments of
indebtedness on the part of the old lady in Thread-needle-street, and
not the base simulacra of Birmingham at five-and-twenty shillings a
dozen--thirteen as twelve--Mr. Goodge obligingly consented to sign a
simple form of receipt which I had drawn up for the satisfaction of my
"I think you said there were forty-odd letters," I remarked, before I
proceeded to count the documents in the presence of Mr. Goodge.
That gentleman looked at me with an air of astonishment, which, had I
not known him to be the most consummate of hypocrites, would have
seemed to be simplicity itself.
"I said from thirty to forty," he exclaimed; "I never said there were
I looked at him and he looked at me. His face told me plainly enough
that he was trying to deceive me, and my face told him plainly enough
that he had no chance of succeeding in that attempt. Whether he was
keeping back some of the letters with a view to extorting more money
from me hereafter, or whether he was keeping them with the idea of
making a better bargain with somebody else, I could not tell; but of
the main fact I was certain--he had cheated me.
I untied the red tape which held the letters together. Yes, there was a
piece of circumstantial evidence which might have helped to convict my
friend had he been on his trial in a criminal court. The red tape bore
the mark of the place in which it had been tied for half a century; and
a little way within this mark the trace of a very recent tying. Some of
the letters had been extracted, and the tape had been tied anew.
I had no doubt that this had been done while my negotiation with Mr.
Goodge had been pending. What was I to do? Refuse the letters, and
demand to have my principal's money returned to me? I knew my friend
well enough to know that such a proceeding would be about as useless as
it would be to request the ocean to restore a cup of water that had
been poured into it. The letters he had given me might or might not
afford some slight link in the chain I was trying to put together; and
the letters withheld from me might be more or less valuable than those
given to me. In any case the transaction was altogether a speculative
one; and George Sheldon's money was hazarded as completely as if it had
been put upon an outsider for the Derby.
Before bidding him a polite farewell, I was determined to make Mr.
Goodge thoroughly aware that he had not taken me in.
"You said there were more than forty letters," I told him; "I remember
the phrase 'forty-odd,' which is a colloquialism one would scarcely
look for in Tillotson or in John Wesley, who cherished a prejudice in
favour of scholarship which does not distinguish all his followers. You
said there were forty-odd letters, and you have removed some of them
from the packet. I am quite aware that I have no legal remedy against
you, as our contract was a verbal one, made without witnesses; so I
must be content with what I get; but I do not wish you to flatter
yourself with the notion that you have hoodwinked a lawyer's clerk. You
are not clever enough to do that, Mr. Goodge, though you are knave
enough to cheat every attorney in the Law List."
"Young man, are you aware----?"
"As I have suffered by the absence of any witness to our negotiation, I
may as well profit by the absence of any witness to our interview. You
are a cheat and a trickster, Mr. Goodge, and I have the honour to wish
you good afternoon!" "Go forth, young man!" cried the infuriated Jonah
whose fat round face became beet-root colour with rage, and who
involuntarily extended his hand to the poker--for the purpose of
defence and not defiance, I believe. "Go forth, young man! I say unto
you, as Abimelech said unto Jedediah, go forth."
I am not quite clear as to the two scriptural proper names with which
the Rev. Jonah embellished his discourse on this occasion; but I know
that sort of man always has a leaning to the Abimelech and Jedediahs of
biblical history; solely, I believe, because the names have a sonorous
roll with them that is pleasant in the mouth of the charlatan.
As I was in the act of going forth--quite at my leisure, for I had no
fear of the clerical poker--my eye happened to alight on a small
side-table, covered with a chessboard-patterned cloth in gaudy colours,
and adorned with some of those sombre volumes which seem like an outward
evidence of the sober piety of their possessor. Among the sombre
volumes lay something which savoured of another hemisphere than that to
which those brown leather-bound books belonged. It was a glove--a
gentleman's glove, of pale lavender kid--small in size for a masculine
glove, and bearing upon it the evidence of the cleaner's art. Such
might be the glove of an exiled Brummel, but could never have encased
the squat paw of a Jonah Goodge. It was as if the _point d'Alencon_
ruffle of Chesterfield had been dropped in the study of John Wesley.
In a moment there flashed into my mind an idea which has haunted me
ever since. That glove had belonged to my respected patron, Horatio
Paget, and it was for his benefit the letters had been abstracted from
the packet. He had been with Jonah Goodge in the course of that day,
and had bought him over to cheat me.
And then I was obliged to go back to the old question, Was it possible
that the Captain could have any inkling of my business? Who could have
Who could have betrayed a secret which was known only to George Sheldon
After all, are there not other people than Horatio Paget who wear
cleaned lavender gloves? But it always has been a habit with the
Captain to leave one loose glove behind him; and I daresay it was the
recollection of this which suggested the idea of his interference in
the Goodge business.
I devoted my evening to the perusal of Mrs. Rebecca Haygarth's letters.
The pale ink, the quaint cramped hand, the old-fashioned abbreviations,
and very doubtful orthography rendered the task laborious; but I stuck
to my work bravely, and the old clock in the market-place struck two as
I began the last letter. As I get deeper into this business I find my
interest in it growing day by day--an interest _sui generis_, apart
from all prospect of gain--apart even from the consideration that by
means of this investigation I am obtaining a living which is earned
_almost_ honestly; for if I tell an occasional falsehood or act an
occasional hypocrisy, I am no worse than a secretary of legation of an
Old Bailey barrister.
The pleasure which I now take in the progress of this research is a
pleasure that is new to me: it is the stimulus which makes a breakneck
gallop across dreary fields gridironed with dykes and stone walls so
delicious to the sportsman; it is the stimulus which makes the task of
the mathematician sweet to him when he devotes laborious days to the
solution of an abstruse problem; it is the stimulus that sustains the
Indian trapper against all the miseries of cold and hunger, foul
weather, and aching limbs; it is the fever of the chase--that
inextinguishable fire which, once lighted in the human breast, is not
to be quenched until the hunt is ended.
I should like to earn three thousand pounds; but if I were to be none
the richer for my trouble, I think, now that I am so deeply involved in
this business, I should still go on. I want to fathom the mystery of
that midnight interment at Dewsdale; I want to know the story of that
Mary Haygarth who lies under the old yew-tree at Spotswold, and for
whose loss some one sorrowed without hope of consolation.
Was that a widower's commonplace, I wonder, and did the unknown mourner
console himself ultimately with a new wife? Who knows? as my Italian
friends say when they discuss the future of France. Shall I ever
penetrate that mystery of the past? My task seems to me almost as
hopeless as if George Sheldon had set me to hunt up the descendants of
King Solomon's ninety-ninth wife. A hundred years ago seems as far
away, for all practical purposes, as if it were on the other side of
The letters are worth very little. They are prim and measured epistles,
and they relate much more to spiritual matters than to temporal
business. Mrs. Rebecca seems to have been so much concerned for the
health of her soul that she had very little leisure to think of
anything so insignificant as the bodies of other people. The letters
are filled with discourses upon her own state of mind; and the tone of
them reveals not a little of that pride whose character it is to
simulate humility. Mrs. Rebecca is always casting ashes on her head;
but she takes care to let her friend and pastor know what a saintly
head it is notwithstanding.
I have laid aside three of the most secular letters, which I selected
after wading through unnumbered pages of bewailings in the strain of a
Wesleyan Madame Guyon. These throw some little light upon the character
of Matthew Haygarth, but do not afford much information of a tangible
kind. I have transcribed the letters verbatim, adhering even to certain
eccentricities of orthography which were by no means unusual in an age
when the Pretender to the crown of Great Britain wrote of his father as
The first letter bears the date of August 30th, 1773, one week after
the marriage of the lady to our friend Matthew.
"REVERED FRIEND AND PASTOR,--On Monday sennite we arriv'd in London,
wich seems to me a mighty bigg citty, but of no more meritt or piety
than Babylon of old. My husband, who knows ye towne better than he
knows those things with wich it would more become him to be familiar,
was pleas'd to laugh mightily at that pious aversion wherewith I
regarded some of ye most notable sights in this place. We went t'other
night to a great garden called by some Spring Garden, by others
Vauxhall,--as having been at one time ye residence or estate of that
Arch Fiend and Papistical traitor Vaux, or Faux; but although I felt
obligated to my husband for ye desire to entertain me with a fine
sight, I could not but look with shame upon serious Christians
disporting themselves like children amongst coloured lamps, and
listening as if enraptured to profane music, when, at so much less cost
of money or of health, they might have been assembled together to
improve and edify one another.
"My obliging Mathew would have taken me to other places of the like
character; but inspir'd, as I hope and believe, by ye direction of ye
spirit, I took upon myself to tell him what vain trifling is all such
kind of pleasure. He argu'd with me stoutly, saying that ye King and
Queen, who are both shining examples of goodness and piety, do attend
Vauxhall and Ranelagh, and are to be seen there frequent, to the
delight of their subjects. On which I told him that, much as I esteemed
my sovereign and his respectable consort, I would compleat my existence
without having seen them rather than I would seek to encounter them in
a place of vain and frivolous diversion. He listen'd to my discoorse in
a kind and sober temper, but he was not convinc'd; for by and by he
falls of a sudden to sighing and groaning, and cries out, 'O, I went to
Vauxhall once when ye garden was not many years made, and O, how bright
ye lamps shone, like ye stars of heaven fallen among bushes! and O, how
sweet ye music sounded, like ye hymns of angels in ye dewy evening! but
that was nigh upon twenty years gone by, and all ye world is changed
"You will conceive, Reverend Sir, that I was scandalised by such a
foolish rapsodie, and in plain words admonish'd my husband of his
folly. Whereupon he speedily became sober, and asked my pardon; but for
all that night continued of a gloomy countenance, ever and anon falling
to sighing and groning as before. Indeed, honour'd Sir, I have good
need of a patient sperrit in my dealings with him; for altho' at times
I think he is in a fair way to become a Christian, there are other
times when I doubt Satan has still a hold upon him, and that all my
prayers and admonitions have been in vaine.
"You, who know the wildness and wickedness of his past life--so far as
that life was ever known to any but himself, who was ever of a secret
and silent disposition concerning his own doings in this city, tho'
free-spoken and frank in all common matters--you, honour'd sir, know
with how serious an intention I have taken upon myself the burden of
matrimony, hoping thereby to secure the compleat conversion of this
waywarde soul. You are aware how it was ye earnest desire of my late
respected father that Mathew Haygarth and I shou'd be man and wife, his
father and my father haveing bin friends and companions in ye days of
her most gracious majesty Queen Anne. You know how, after being lost to
all decent compary for many years, Mathew came back after his father's
death, and lived a sober and serious life, attending amongst our
community, and being seen to shed tears on more than one occasion while
listening to the discourse of our revered and inspired founder. And
you, my dear and honour'd pastor, will feel for me when I tell you how
I am tormented by ye fear of backsliding in this soul which I have
promised to restore to ye fold. It was but yesterday, when walking with
him near St. John's Gate at Clerkenwell, he came to a standstill all of
a sudden, and he cried in that impetuous manner which is even yet
natural to him, 'Look ye now, Becky, wouldst like to see the house in
which the happiest years of my life was spent?' And I making no answer,
as thinking it was but some sudden freak, he points out a black
dirty-looking dwelling-place, with overhanging windows and a wide
gabled roof. 'Yonder it stands, Becky,' he cries; 'number seven
John-street, Clerkenwell; a queer dingy box of four walls, my wench--a
tumble-down kennel, with a staircase that 'twould break your neck to
mount, being strange to it--and half a day's journey from the court-end
of town. But that house was once paradise to me; and to look at it even
now, though 'tis over eighteen years since I saw the inside of it, will
bring the tears into these poor old eyes of mine'. And then he walk'd on
so fast that I could scarce keep pace with him, till we came to
Smithfield; and then he began to tell me about Bartholomew-fair and the
brave sights he had seen; and must needs show me where had stood the
booth of one Fielding--since infamously notorious as the writer of some
trashy novels, the dulness whereof is only surpassed by their profligacy:
and then he talks of Fawkes the conjurer, who made a great fortune, and
of some humble person called 'Tiddy Doll,' a dealer in gingerbread and
such foolish wares. But he could tell me nothing of those early
preachings of our revered founder in Moorfields, which would have been
more pleasant to me than all this vain babble about drolls and jesters,
gingerbread bakers and showmen.
"When we had walked the round of the place, and it was time to take
coach for our lodging at Chelsea--he having brought me thus far to see
St. Paul's and the prison of Newgate, the Mint and Tower--the gloomy
fit came on him again, and all that evening he was dull and sorrowful,
though I read aloud to him from the printed sermons of a rising member
of our community. So you will see, honour'd sir, how difficult it is
for these children of Satan to withdraw themselves from that master
they have once served; since at the sober age of fifty-three yeares my
husband's weak heart yet yearns after profligate faires and foolish
gardens lighted by color'd lampes.
"And now no more, reverend friend, my paper being gone and it being
full time to reflect that y'r patience must be gone also. Service to
Mrs. Goodge. I have no more room but to assure you that y'r gayeties of
this foolish and erring citty have no power to withdraw y'r heart of
her whose chief privilege it is to subscribe herself,
"Your humble follower and servant."
To my mind there seems just a shadowy hint of some bygone romance in
this letter. Why did the dingy house in John-street bring the tears
into Matthew's eyes? and why did the memory of Vauxhall and Bartholomew
fair seem so sweet to him? And then that sighing and groaning and
dolefulness of visage whenever the thought of the past came back to
What did it all mean, I wonder? Was it only his vanished youth, which
poor, sobered, converted, Wesleyanised Matthew regretted? or were there
pensive memories of something even sweeter than youth associated with
the coloured lamps of Vauxhall and the dinginess of Clerkenwell? Who
shall sound the heart of a man who lived a hundred years ago? and where
is the fathom-line which shall plumb its mysteries? I should need a
stack of old letters before I could arrive at the secret of that man's
The two other letters, which I have selected after some deliberation,
relate to the last few weeks of Matthew's existence; and in these again
I fancy I see the trace of some domestic mystery, some sorrowful secret
which this sober citizen kept hidden from his wife, but which he was on
several occasions half inclined to reveal to her.
Perhaps if the lady's piety--which seems to have been thoroughly
sincere and praiseworthy, by the bye--had been a little less cold and
pragmatical in its mode of expression, poor Matthew might have taken
heart of grace and made a clean breast of it.
That there was a secret in the man's life I feel convinced; but that
conviction goes very little way towards proving any one point of the
smallest value to George Sheldon.
I transcribe an extract from each of the two important letters; the
first written a month before Matthew's death, the second a fortnight
after that event.
"And indeed, honour'd sir, I have of late suffered much uneasinesse of
speritt concerning my husband. Those fits of ye mopes of w'h I informed
you some time back have again come upon him. For awhile I did hope that
these melancholic affections were ye fruit put forth by a regenerate
soul; but within this month last past it has been my sorrow to discover
that these gloomy disorders arise rather from ye promptings of the Evil
One. It has pleased Mr. Haygarthe of late to declare that his life is
nigh at an end; and indeed he affects a conviction that his days are
number'd. This profane and impertinent notion I take to be a direct
inspiration of Satan, of a like character to ye sudden and
unaccountable fitts of laughter which have seized upon many pious
Christians in the midst of earnest congregations; whereby much shame
and discomfiture has been brought upon our sect. Nor is there any
justification for this presumptuous certainty entertained by my
husband, inasmuch as his health is much as it has ordinarily been for
ye last ten years. He does acknowledge this with his own lips, and
immediately after cries out that his race is run, and ye hand of death
is upon him; which I cannot but take as ye voice of ye enemy speaking
through that weak mouth of ye flesh.
"On Sunday night last past, ye gloomy fitt being come upon him after
prayers, Mr. Haygarthe began all on a sudden, as it is his habit to do:
"'There is something I would fain tell ye, wench,' he cries out,
'something about those roistering days in London, which it might be
well for thee to know.'
"But I answered him directly, that I had no desire to hear of profane
roisterings, and that it would be better for him to keep his peace, and
listen reverently to the expounding of the Scriptures, which Humphrey
Bagot, our worthy pastor and friend, had promised to explain and
exemplify after supper. We was seated at ye time in ye blue parlour,
the table being spread for supper, and were awaiting our friend from
the village, a man of humble station, being but a poor chapman and
huckster, but of exalted mind and a most holy temper, and sells me the
same growth of Bohea as that drunk by our gracious queen at Windsor.
After I had thus reproved him--in no unkind speritt--" Mr. Haygarthe
fell to sighing; and then cries out all at once:
"'When I am on my death-bed, wife, I will tell thee something: be sure
thou askest me for it; or if death come upon me unawares, thou wouldst
do well to search in the old tulip-leaf bureau for a letter, since I
may tell thee that in a letter which I would not tell with these lips.'
"Before there was time to answer him in comes Mr. Bagot, and we to
supper; after which he did read the sixth chapter of Hebrews and
expound it at much length for our edifying; at the end whereof Satan
had obtained fast hold of Mr. Haygarthe, who was fallen asleep and
Here is plain allusion to some secret, which that pragmatical idiot,
Mrs. Rebecca, studiously endeavoured not to hear. The next extract is
from a letter written when the lips that had been fain to speak were
stilled for ever. Ah, Mistress Rebecca, you were but mortal woman,
although you were also a shining light amongst the followers of John
Wesley; and I wonder what you would have given for poor Matthew's
"Some days being gone after this melancholic event, I bethought me of
that which my husband had said to me before I left Dewsdale for that
excursion to the love-feasts at Kemberton and Kesfield, Broppindean and
Dawnfold, from which I returned but two short weeks before my poor
Matthew's demise. I called to remembrance that discourse about
approaching death which in my poor human judgment I did esteem a
pestilent error of mind, but which I do now recognise as a spiritual
premonition; and I set myself earnestly to look for that letter which
Matthew told me he would leave in the tulip-leaf bureau. But though I
did search with great care and pains, my trouble was wasted, inasmuch
as there was no letter. Nor did I leave off to search until ev'ry nook
and crevvis had been examin'd. But in one of ye secret drawers, hidden
in an old dog's-eared book of prayers, I did find a lock of fair hair,
as if cut from the head of a child, entwin'd curiously with a long
plait of dark hair, which, by reason of ye length thereof, must needs
have been the hair of a woman, and with these the miniature of a girl's
face in a gold frame. I will not stain this paper, which is near come
to an end, by the relation of such suspicions as arose in my mind on
finding these curious treasures; nor will I be of so unchristian a
temper as to speak ill of the dead. My husband was in his latter days
exemplarily sober, and a humble acting Xtian. Ye secrets of his earlier
life will not now be showne to me on this side heaven. I have set aside
ye book, ye picture, and ye plaited hair in my desk for conveniency,
where I will show them to you when I am next rejoic'd by y'r improving
conversation. Until then, in grief or in happiness, in health and
sickness, I trust I shall ever continue, with y'r same sincerity,
"Your humble and obliged Servant and disciple
Thus end my excerpts from the correspondence of Mrs. Haygarthe. They
are very interesting to me, as containing the vague shadow of a
vanished existence; but whether they will ever be worth setting forth
in an affidavit is extremely uncertain. Doubtless that miniature of an
unknown girl which caused so much consternation in the mind of sober
Mrs. Rebecca was no other than the "Molly" whose gray eyes reminded me
of Charlotte Halliday.
As I copied Mrs. Rebecca's quaint epistles, in the midnight stillness,
the things of which I was writing arose before me like a picture. I
could see the blue parlour that Sunday evening; the sober couple seated
primly opposite to each other; the china monsters on the high
chimneypiece; the blue-and-white Dutch tiles, with queer squat figures
of Flemish citizens on foot and on horseback; the candles burning dimly
on the spindle-legged table--two poor pale flames reflected ghastly in
the dark polished panels of the wainscot; the big open Bible on an
adjacent table; the old silver tankard, and buckhorn-handled knives and
forks set out for supper; the solemn eight-day clock, ticking drearily
in the corner; and amid all that sombre old-fashioned comfort,
gray-haired Matthew sighing and lamenting for his vanished youth.
I have grown strangely romantic since I have fallen in love with
Charlotte Halliday. The time was when I should have felt nothing but a
flippant ignorant contempt for poor Haygarth's feeble sighings and
lamentings; but now I think of him with a sorrowful tenderness, and am
more interested in his poor commonplace life, that picture, and those
two locks of hair, than in the most powerful romance that ever emanated
from mortal genius. It has been truly said, that truth is stranger than
fiction: may it not as justly be said, that truth has a power to touch
the human heart which is lacking in the most sublime flights of a
Shakespeare, or the grandest imaginings of an Aeschylus? One is sorry
for the fate of Agamemnon; but one is infinitely more sorrowful for the
cruel death of that English Richard in the dungeon at Pomfret, who was
a very insignificant person as compared to the king of men and of
HUNTING THE JUDSONS.
_Oct. 10th_. Yesterday and the day before were blank days. On Saturday
I read Mrs. Rebecca's letters a second time after a late breakfast, and
spent a lazy morning in the endeavour to pick up any stray crumbs of
information which I might have overlooked the previous night. There was
nothing to be found, however; and, estimable as I have always
considered the founder of the Wesleyan fraternity, I felt just a little
weary of his virtues and his discourses, his journeyings from place to
place, his love-feasts and his prayer-meetings, before I had finished
with Mrs. Haygarth's correspondence. In the afternoon I strolled about
the town; made inquiries at several inns, with a view to discover
whether Captain Paget was peradventure an inmate thereof; looked in at
the railway-station, and watched the departure of a train; dawdled away
half an hour at the best tobacconist's shop in the town on the chance
of encountering my accomplished patron, who indulges in two of the
choicest obtainable cigars per diem, and might possibly repair thither
to make a purchase, if he were in the place. Whether he is still in
Ullerton or not I cannot tell; but he did not come to the
tobacconist's; and I was fain to go back to my inn, having wasted a
day. Yet I do not think that George Sheldon will have cause to complain
of me, since I have worked very closely for my twenty shillings per
week, and have devoted myself to the business in hand with an amount of
enthusiasm which I did not think it possible for me to experience
I went to church on Sunday morning, and was more devoutly inclined than
it has been my habit to feel; for although a man who lives by his wits
must not necessarily be a heathen or an atheist, it is very difficult
for him to be anything like a Christian. Even my devotion yesterday was
not worth much, for my thoughts went vagabondising off to Charlotte
Halliday in the midst of a very sensible practical sermon.
In the afternoon I read the papers, and dozed by the fire in the
coffee-room--two-thirds coke by the way, and alternating from the
fierceness of a furnace to the dreary blackness of an exhausted
coal-mine--still thinking of Charlotte.
Late in the evening I walked the streets of the town, and thought what
a lonely wretch I was. The desert of Sahara is somewhat dismal, I
daresay; but in its dismality there is at least a flavour of romance, a
smack of adventure. O, the hopeless dulness, the unutterable blankness
of a provincial town late on a Sunday night, as it presents itself to
the contemplation of a friendless young man without a sixpence in his
pocket, or one bright hope to tempt him to forgetfulness of the past in
pleasant dreaming of the future!
Complaining again! O pen, which art the voice of my discontent, your
spluttering is like this outburst of unmanly fretfulness and futile
rage! O paper, whose flat surface typifies the dull level of my life,
your greasy unwillingness to receive the ink is emblematic of the
soul's revolt against destiny!
This afternoon brought me a letter from Sheldon, and opened a new
channel for my explorations in that underground territory, the past.
That man has a marvellous aptitude for his work; and has, what is more
than aptitude, the experience of ten years of failure. Such a man must
succeed sooner or later. I wonder whether his success will come while I
am allied to him. I have been used to consider myself an unlucky
wretch, a creature of ill-fortune to others as well as to myself. It is
a foolish superstition, perhaps, to fancy one's self set apart for an
evil destiny; but the Eumenides have been rather hard upon me. Those
"amiable" deities, whom they of Colonae tried so patiently to conciliate
with transparent flatteries, have marked me for their prey from the
cradle--I don't suppose that cradle was paid for, by the bye. I wonder
whether there is an avenging deity whose special province it is to
pursue the insolvent--a Nemesis of the Bankruptcy Court.
My Sheldon's epistle bears the evidence of a very subtle brain, as I
think. It is longer than his previous letters. I transcribe it here, as
I wish this record to be a complete brief of my proceedings in this
"Gray's Inn, Sunday night.
"DEAR HAWKEHURST,--The copies of the letters came duly to hand, and I
think you have made your selections with much discretion, always
supposing you have overlooked nothing in the remaining mass of writing.
I will thank you to send me the rest of the letters, by the way. You
can take notes of anything likely to be useful to yourself, and it will
be as well for me to possess the originals.
"I find one very strong point in the first letter of your selection,
viz. the allusion to a house in John-street. It is clear that Matthew
lived in that house, and in that neighbourhood there may even yet
remain some traces of his existence. I shall begin a close
investigation to-morrow within a certain radius of that spot; and if I
have the good luck to fall upon any clear-headed centenarians, I may
pick up something.
"There are some alms-houses hard by Whitecross-street prison, where the
inmates live to ages that savour of the Pentateuch. Perhaps there I may
light upon some impoverished citizen fallen from a good estate who can
remember some contemporary of Matthew's. London was smaller in those
days than it is now, and men lived out their lives in one spot, and had
leisure to be concerned about the affairs of their neighbours. As I
have now something of a clue to Matthew's roistering days, I shall set
to work to follow it up closely; and your provincial researches and my
metropolitan investigations proceeding simultaneously, we may hope to
advance matters considerably ere long. For your own part, I should
advise you forthwith to hunt up the Judson branch. You will remember
that Matthew's only sister was a Mrs. Judson of Ullerton. I want to
find an heir-at-law in a direct line from Matthew; and you know my
theory on that point. But if we fail in that direction, we must of
course fall back upon the Judsons, who are a disgustingly complicated
set of people, and will take half a lifetime to disentangle, to say
nothing of other men who may be working the same business, and who are
pretty sure to have pinned their faith on the female branch of the
"I want you to ferret out some of the Judson descendants with a view to
picking up further documentary evidence in the shape of old letters,
inscriptions in old books, and so on. That Matthew had a secret is
certain; and that he was very much inclined to reveal that secret in
his later days is also certain. Who shall say that he did not tell it
to his only sister, though he was afraid to tell it to his wife?
"You have acted with so much discretion up to this point, that I do not
care to trouble you with any further hints or suggestions. When money
is wanted, it shall be forthcoming; but I must beg you to manage things
economically, as I have to borrow at a considerable sacrifice; and
should this affair prove a failure, my ruin is inevitable.
"Yours, &c. G.S."
My friend Sheldon is a man who can never have been more than "yours
et-cetera" to any human creature. I suppose what he calls ruin would be
a quiet passage through the Bankruptcy Court, and a new set of chambers.
I should not suppose that sort of ruin would be very terrible for a man
whose sole possessions are a few weak-backed horsehair chairs, a couple
of battered old desks, half a dozen empty japanned boxes, a file of
_Bell's Life_, and a Turkey carpet in which the progress of corruption
is evident to the casual observer.
The hunting-up of the Judsons is a very easy matter as compared to the
task of groping in the dimness of the past in search of some faint
traces of the footsteps of departed Haygarths. Whereas the Haygarth
family seem to be an extinct race, the Judsonian branch have bred and
mustered in the land; and my chief difficulty in starting has been an
_embarras de richesse_, in the shape of half a page of Judsons in the
Whether to seek out Theodore Judson, the attorney, in Nile street East,
or the Rev. James Judson, curate of St. Gamaliel; whether to appeal in
the first instance to Judson & Co., haberdashers and silk mercers, of
the Ferrygate, or to Judson of Judson and Grinder, wadding
manufacturers in Lady-lane--was the grand question. On inquiring of the
landlord as to the antecedents of these Judsons, I found that they were
all supposed to spring from one common stock, and to have the blood of
old Jonathan Haygarth in their veins. The Judsons had been an obscure
family--people of "no account," my landlord told me, until Joseph
Judson, chapman and cloth merchant in a very small way, was so
fortunate as to win the heart of Ruth Haygarth, only daughter of the
wealthy Nonconformist grocer in the market-place. This marriage had
been the starting-point of Joseph Judson's prosperity. Old Haygarth had
helped his industrious and respectable son-in-law along the stony road
that leads to fortune, and had no doubt given him many a lift over the
stones which bestrew that toilsome highway. My landlord's information
was as vague as the information of people in general; but it was easily
to be made out, from his scanty shreds and scraps of information, that
the well-placed Judsons of the present day had almost all profited to
some extent by the hard-earned wealth of Jonathan Haygarth. "They've
nearly all of them got the name of Haygarth mixed up with their other
names somehow," said my landlord. "Judson of Judson and Grinder is
Thomas Haygarth Judson. He's a member of our tradesman's club, and
worth a hundred thousand pounds, if he's worth a sixpence."
I have observed, by the way, that a wealthy tradesman in a country town
is never accredited with less than a hundred thousand; there seems a
natural hankering in the human mind for round numbers.
"There's J.H. Judson of St. Gamaliel," continued my landlord--"he's
James Haygarth Judson; and young Judson the attorney's son puts
'Haygarth Judson' on his card, and gets people to call him Haygarth
Judson when they will--which in a general way they won't, on account of
his giving himself airs, which you may see him any summer evening
walking down Ferrygate as if the place belonged to him, and he didn't
set much value on it. They _do_ say his father's heir-at-law to a
million of money left by the last of the Haygarths, and that he and the
son are trying to work up a claim to the property against the Crown.
But I have heard young Judson deny it in our room when he was spoken to
about it, and I don't suppose there's much ground for people's talk."
I was sorry to discover there was any ground for such talk; Mr. Judson
the lawyer would be no insignificant opponent. I felt that I must give
a very wide berth to Mr. Theodore Judson the attorney, and his stuck-up
son, unless circumstances should so shape themselves as to oblige us to
work with him. In the meanwhile any move I made amongst the other
Judsons would be likely, I thought, to come to the knowledge of these
particular members of the family.
"Are the Judson family very friendly with one another?" I artfully
"Well, you see, some of 'em are, and some of 'em ain't. They're most of
'em third and fourth cousins, you see, and that ain't a very near
relationship in a town where there's a good deal of competition, and
interests often clash. Young Theodore--Haygarth Judson as he calls
himself--is very thick with Judson of St. Gamaliel's, they were at
college together, you see: and fine airs they give themselves on the
strength of a couple of years or so at Cambridge. Those two get on very
well together. But Judson of the Lady-lane Mills don't speak to either
of 'em when he meets 'em in the street, and has been known to cut 'em
dead in my room. William Judson of Ferrygate is a dissenter, and keeps
himself to himself very close. The other Judsons are too fast a lot for
him: though what's the harm of a man taking a glass or two of
brandy-and-water of an evening with his friends is more than _I_ can
find out," added mine host, musingly.
It was to William Judson the dissenter, who kept himself to himself,
that I determined to present myself in the first instance. As a
dissenter, he would be likely to have more respect for the memory of
the Nonconformist and Wesleyan Haygarths, and to have preserved any
traditions relating to them with more fidelity than the Anglican and
frivolous members of the Judson family. As an individual who kept
himself to himself, he would be unlikely to communicate my business to
I lost no time in presenting myself at the house of business in
Ferrygate, and after giving the servant George Sheldon's card, and
announcing myself as concerned in a matter of business relating to the
Haygarth family, I was at once ushered into a prim counting-house,
where a dapper little old gentleman in spotless broadcloth, and a
cambric cravat and shirt frill which were soft and snowy as the plumage
of the swan, received me with old-fashioned courtesy. I was delighted
to find him seventy-five years of age at the most moderate computation,
and I should have been all the better pleased if he had been older. I
very quickly discovered that in Mr. Judson the linen draper I had to
deal with a very different person from the Rev. Jonah Goodge. He
questioned me closely as to my motive in seeking information on the
subject of the departed Haygarth, and I had some compunction in
diplomatising with him as I had diplomatised with Mr. Goodge. To
hoodwink the wary Jonah was a triumph--to deceive the confiding
linen draper was a shame. However, as I have before set down, I suppose
at the falsest I am not much farther from the truth than a barrister or
a diplomatist. Mr. Judson accepted my account of myself in all
simplicity, and seemed quite pleased to have an opportunity of talking
about the deceased Haygarths.
"You are not concerned in the endeavour to assert Theodore Judson's
claim to the late John Haygarth's property, eh?" the old man asked me
presently, as if struck by a sudden misgiving.
I assured him that Mr. Theodore Judson's interests and mine were in no
"I am glad of that," answered the draper; "not that I owe Theodore
Judson a grudge, you must understand, though his principles and mine
differ very widely. I have been told that he and his son hope to
establish a claim to that Haygarth property; but they will never
succeed, sir--they will never succeed. There was a young man who went
to India in '41; a scamp and a vagabond, sir, who was always trying to
borrow money in sums ranging from a hundred pounds, to set him up in
business and render him a credit to his family, to a shilling for the
payment of a night's lodging or the purchase of a dinner. But that
young man was the great-grandson of Ruth Haygarth--the eldest surviving
grandson of Ruth Haygarth's eldest son; and if that man is alive, he is
rightful heir to John Haygarth's money. Whether he is alive or dead at
this present moment is more than I can tell, since he has never been
heard of in Ullerton since he left the town; but until Theodore Judson
can obtain legal proof of that man's death he has no more chance of
getting one sixpence of the Haygarth estate than I have of inheriting
the crown of Great Britain."
The old man had worked himself into a little passion before he finished
this speech, and I could see that the Theodore Judsons were as
unpopular in the draper's counting-house as they were at the Swan Inn.
"What was this man's Christian name?" I asked.
"Peter. He was called Peter Judson; and was the great-grandson of my
grandfather, Joseph Judson, who inhabited this very house, sir, more
than a hundred years ago. Let me see: Peter Judson must have been about
five-and-twenty years of age when he left Ullerton; so he is a
middle-aged man by this time if he hasn't killed himself, or if the
climate hasn't killed him long ago. He went as supercargo to a merchant
vessel: he was a clever fellow, and could work hard when it suited him,
in spite of his dissipated life. Theodore Judson is a very good lawyer;
but though he may bring all his ingenuity to bear, he will never
advance a step nearer to the possession of John Haygarth's money till
he obtains evidence of Peter Judson's death; and he's afraid to
advertise for that evidence for fear he might arouse the attention of
Much as I was annoyed to find that there were claimants lying in wait
for the rev. intestate's wealth, I was glad to perceive that Theodore
Judson's unpopularity was calculated to render his kindred agreeably
disposed to any stranger likely to push that gentleman out of the list
of competitors for these great stakes, and I took my cue from this in
my interview with the simple old draper.
"I regret that I am not at liberty to state the nature of my business,"
I said, in a tone that was at once insinuating and confidential; "but I
think I may venture to go so far as to say, without breach of trust to
my employer, that whoever may ultimately succeed to the Rev. John
Haygarth's money, neither Mr. Judson the lawyer nor his son will ever
put a finger on a penny of it."
"I am not sorry to hear it," answered Mr. Judson, enraptured; "not that
I owe the young man a grudge, you must understand, but because he is
particularly undeserving of good fortune. A young man who passes his
own kindred in the streets of his native town without the common
courtesy due to age or respectability; a young man who sneers at the
fortune acquired in an honest and reputable trade; a young man who
calls his cousins counter-jumpers, and his aunts and uncles
'swaddlers'--a vulgar term of contempt applied to the earlier members
of the Wesleyan confraternity--such a young man is not the individual
to impart moral lustre to material wealth; and I am free to confess
that I had rather any one else than Theodore Judson should inherit this
vast fortune. Why, are you aware, my dear sir, that he has been seen to
drive tandem through this very street, as it is; and I should like to
know how many horses he would harness to that gig of his, or how openly
he would insult his relatives, if he had a hundred thousand pounds to
"A hundred thousand pounds!" exclaimed I; "am I to understand that the
fortune left by the Reverend John Haygarth amounts to that sum?"
"To every penny of it, sir; and a nice use Theodore Judson and that
precious son of his would make of it if it fell into their hands."
For a second time Mr. Judson the draper had worked himself into a
little passion, and the conversation had to be discontinued for some
minutes while he cooled down to his ordinary temperament.
"O ho!" said I within myself, while awaiting the completion of this
cooling-down process; "so _this_ is the stake for which my friend
Sheldon is playing!"
"I'll tell you what I will do for you, Mr.--Mr. Hawke-shell,"--Mr.
Judson said at last, making a compound of my own and my employer's
names; "I will give you a line of introduction to my sister. If any one
can help you in hunting up intelligence relating to the past she can.
She is two years my junior--seventy-one years of age, but as bright and
active as a girl. She has lived all her life in Ullerton, and is a
woman who hoards every scrap of paper that comes in her way. If old
letters or old newspapers can assist you, she can show you plenty
amongst her stores."
Upon this the old man wrote a note, which he dried with sand out of a
perforated bottle, as Richard Steele may have dried one of those airy
tender essays which he threw off in tavern parlours for the payment of
a jovial dinner.
Provided with this antique epistle, written on Bath post and sealed
with a great square seal from a bunch of cornelian monstrosities which
the draper carried at his watch-chain, I departed to find Miss
Hephzibah Judson, of Lochiel Villa, Lancaster-road.
GLIMPSES OF A BYGONE LIFE.
_October 10th_. I found the villa inhabited by Miss Hephzibah Judson
very easily, and found it one of those stiff square dwelling-houses
with brass curtain-rods, prim flower-beds, and vivid green palings,
only to be discovered in full perfection in the choicer suburb of a
I had heard enough during my brief residence in Ullerton to understand
that to live in the Lancaster-road was to possess a diploma of
respectability not easily vitiated by individual conduct. No
disreputable persons had ever yet set up their unholy Lares and Penates
in one of those new slack-baked villas; and that person must have been
very bold who, conscious of moral unfitness or pecuniary shortcoming,
should have ventured to pitch his tent in that sacred locality.
Miss Hephzibah Judson was one of the individuals whose shining sanctity
of life and comfortable income lent a reflected brightness to the
irreproachable suburb. I was admitted to her abode by an elderly woman
of starched demeanour but agreeable visage, who ushered me into a
spotless parlour, whereof the atmosphere was of that vault-like
coldness peculiar to a room which is only inhabited on state occasions.
Here the starched domestic left me while she carried my letter of
introduction to her mistress. In her absence I had leisure to form some
idea of Miss Judson's character on the mute evidence of Miss Judson's
surroundings. From the fact that there were books of a sentimental and
poetical tenor amongst the religious works ranged at mathematically
correct distances upon the dark green table-cover--from the presence
of three twittering canaries in a large brass cage--from the evidence of
a stuffed Blenheim spaniel, with intensely brown eyes, reclining on a
crimson velvet cushion under a glass shade--I opined that Miss Judson's
piety was pleasantly leavened by sentiment, and that her Wesleyanism
was agreeably tempered by that womanly tenderness which, failing more
legitimate outlets, will waste itself upon twittering canaries and
I was not mistaken. Miss Judson appeared presently, followed by the
servant bearing a tray of cake and wine. This was the first occasion on
which I had been offered refreshment by any person to whom I had
presented myself. I argued, therefore, that Miss Judson was the weakest
person with whom I had yet had to deal; and I flattered myself with the
hope that from Miss Judson's amiable weakness, sentimentality, and
womanly tenderness, I should obtain better aid than from more
business-like and practical people.
I fancied that with this lady it would be necessary to adopt a certain
air of candour. I therefore did not conceal from her the fact that my
business had something to do with that Haygarthian fortune awaiting a
"The person for whom you are concerned is not Mr. Theodore Judson?" she
asked, with some asperity.
I assured her that I had never seen Theodore Judson, and that I was in
no manner interested in his success.
"In that case I shall be happy to assist you as far as lies in my
power; but I can do nothing to advance the interests of Theodore Judson
junior. I venture to hope that I am a Christian; and if Theodore Judson
junior were to come here to me and ask my forgiveness, I should accord
that forgiveness as a Christian; but I cannot and will not lend myself
to the furtherance of Theodore Judson's avaricious designs. I cannot
lend myself to the suppression of truth or the assertion of falsehood.
Theodore Judson senior is not the rightful heir to the late John
Haygarth's fortune, though I am bound to acknowledge that his claim
would be prior to my brother's. There is a man who stands before the
Theodore Judsons, and the Theodore Judsons know it. But were they the
rightful claimants, I should still consider them most unfitted to enjoy
superior fortune. If that dog could speak, he would be able to testify
to ill-usage received from Theodore Judson junior at his own
garden-gate, which would bespeak the character of the man to every
thoughtful mind. A young man who could indulge his spiteful feelings
against an elderly kinswoman at the expense of an unoffending animal
is not the man to make worthy use of fortune."
I expressed my acquiescence with this view of the subject; and I was
glad to perceive that with Miss Judson, as with her brother, the
obnoxious Theodores would stand me in good stead. The lady was only two
years younger than her brother, and even more inclined to be
communicative. I made the most of my opportunity, and sat in the
vault-like parlour listening respectfully to her discourse, and from
time to time hazarding a leading question, as long as it pleased her
to converse; although it seemed to me as if a perennial spring of cold
water were trickling slowly down my back and pervading my system during
the entire period. As the reward of my fortitude I obtained Miss
Judson's promise to send me any letters or papers she might find
amongst her store of old documents relating to the personal history of
"I know I have a whole packet of letters in Matthew's own hand amongst
my grandmother's papers," said Miss Judson. "I was a great favourite
with my grandmother, and used to spend a good deal of my time with her
before she died--which she did while I was in pinafores; but young
people wore pinafores much longer in my time than they do now; and I
was getting on for fourteen years of age when my grandmother departed
this life. I've often heard her talk of her brother Matthew, who had
been dead some years when I was born. She was very fond of him, and he
of her, I've heard her say; and she used often to tell me how handsome
he was in his youth; and how well he used to look in a chocolate and
gold-laced riding coat, just after the victory of Culloden, when he
came to Ullerton in secret, to pay her a visit--not being on friendly
terms with his father."
I asked Miss Judson if she had ever read Matthew Haygarth's letters.
"No," she said; "I look at them sometimes when I'm tidying the drawer
in which I keep them, and I have sometimes stopped to read a word here
and there, but no more. I keep them out of respect to the dead; but I
think it would make me unhappy to read them. The thoughts and the
feelings in old letters seem so fresh that they bring our poor
mortality too closely home to us when we remember how little except
those faded letters remains of those who wrote them. It is well for us
to remember that we are only travellers and wayfarers on this earth;
but sometimes it seems just a little hard to think how few traces of
our footsteps we leave behind us when the journey is finished."
The canaries seemed to answer Miss Judson with a feeble twitter of
assent: and I took my leave, with a feeling of compassion in my heart.
I, the scamp--I, Robert Macaire the younger--had pity upon the caged
canaries, and the lonely old woman whose narrow life was drawing to its
close, and who began to feel how very poor a thing it had been after
_Oct. 11th_. I have paid the penalty of my temerity in enduring the
vault-like chilliness of Miss Hephzibah Judson's parlour, and am
suffering to-day from a sharp attack of influenza; that complaint which
of all others tends to render a man a burden to himself, and a nuisance
to his fellow-creatures. Under these circumstances I have ordered a
fire in my own room--a personal indulgence scarcely warranted by
Sheldon's stipend--and I sit by my own fire pondering over the story of
Matthew Haygarth's life.
On the table by my side are scattered more than a hundred letters, all
in Matthew's bold hand; but even yet, after a most careful study of
those letters, the story of the man's existence is far from clear to
me. The letters are full of hints and indications, but they tell so
little plainly. They deal in enigmas, and disguise names under the mask
There is much in these letters which relates to the secret history of
Matthew's life. They were written to the only creature amongst his
kindred in whom he fully confided. This fact transpires more than once,
as will be seen anon by the extracts I shall proceed to make; if my
influenza--which causes me to shed involuntary tears that give me the
appearance of a drivelling idiot, and which jerks me nearly out of my
chair every now and then with a convulsive sneeze--will permit me to do
anything rational or useful.
I have sorted and classified the letters, first upon one plan, then
upon another, until I have classified and sorted them into chaos.
Having done this, my only chance is to abandon all idea of
classification, and go quietly through them in consecutive order
according to their dates, jotting down whatever strikes me as
significant. George Sheldon's acumen must do the rest.
Thus I begin my notes, with an extract from the fourth letter in the
series. Mem. I preserve Matthew's own orthography, which is the most
eccentric it was ever my lot to contemplate.
"_December_ 14, '42. Indeed, my dear Ruth, I am ventursom wear you are
concurn'd, and w'd tell you that I w'd taik panes to kepe fromm
another. I saw ye same girl w'h it was my good fortun to saive from ye
molestashun of raketters and mohoks at Smithfelde in September last
past. She is ye derest prittiest creture you ever saw, and as elegant
and genteel in her speche and maner as a Corte lady, or as ye best
bredd person in Ullerton. I mett her in ye nayborood of ye Marchalsee
prison wear her father is at this pressent time a prisener, and had
som pleassant talke with her. She rememberr'd me at once, and seme'd
mitily gladd to see me. Mem. Her pritty blu eys wear fill'd with teares
wen she thank'd me for having studd up to be her champyun at ye Fare.
So you see, Mrs. Ruth, ye brotherr is more thort off in London than
with them which hav ye rite to regard him bestt. If you had scen ye
pore simpel childeish creetur and heeard her tell her arteless tale, I
think y'r kinde hart w'd have bin sore to considder so much unmiritted
misfortun: ye father is in pore helth, a captiv, ye mother has binn
dedd thre yeres, and ye pore orfann girl, Mollie, has to mentane ye
burden of ye sick father, and a yung helples sister. Think of this,
kinde Mrs. Ruth, in y'r welthy home. Mem. Pore Mrs. Mollie is prittier
than ye fineist ladies that wear to be sene at ye opening of ye grand
new roome at Ranellar this spring last past, wear I sor ye too Miss
Gunings and Lady Harvey, wich is alsoe accounted a grate buty."
I think this extract goes very far to prove that my friend Matthew was
considerably smitten by the pretty young woman whose champion he had
been in some row at Bartholomew Fair. This fits into one of the scraps
of information afforded by my ancient inhabitant in Ullerton
Almshouses, who remembers having heard his grandfather talk of Mat
Haygarth's part in some fight or disturbance at the great Smithfield
My next extract treats again of Mollie, after an interval of four
months. It seems as if Matthew had confided in his sister so far as to
betray his tenderness for the poor player-girl of the London booths;
but I can find no such letter amongst those in my hands. Such an
epistle may have been considered by Mrs. Ruth too dangerous to be kept
where the parental eye might in some evil hour discover it. Matthew's
sister was unmarried at this date, and lived within the range of that
stern paternal eye. Matthew's letter appears to me to have been written
in reply to some solemn warning from Ruth.
"_April_ 12, 1743. Sure, my dear sister cannot think me so baise a
retch as to injoore a pore simpel girl hoo confides in me as ye best
and trooest of mortals, wich for her dere saik I will strive to be. If
so be my sister cou'd think so ill of me it wou'd amost temt me to
think amiss of her, wich cou'd imagen so vile a thort. You tel me that
Mrs. Rebecka Caulfeld is mor than ever estemed by my father; but, Ruth,
I am bounde to say, my father's esteme is nott to be ye rule of my
ackshuns thro' life, for it semes to me their is no worser tyrrannie
than ye wich fathers do striv to impose on there children, and I do
acount that a kind of barbarity wich wou'd compel ye hart of youth to
sute ye proodense of age. I do not dout but Mrs. Rebecka is a mitey
proper and well-natur'd person, tho' taken upp with this new sekt of
methodys, or, as sum do call them in derission, swaddlers and jumpers,
set afoot by ye madbrain'd young man, Wesley, and one that is still
madder, Witfelde. Thear ar I dare sware many men in Ullerton wich wou'd
be gladd to obtane Mrs. Rebecka's hand and fortun; but if ye fortun
wear ten times more, I wou'd not preetend to oferr my harte to herr
w'h can never be its misteress. Now, my deare sister, having gone
as farr towards satisfieing all y'r queerys as my paper wou'd welle
permitt, I will say no more but to begg you to send me all ye knews,
and to believe that none can be more affectionately y'r humble servant
than your brother." "MATHEW HAYGARTH."
In this extract we have strong ground for supposing that our Matthew
truly loved the player-girl, and meant honestly by his sweetheart.
There is a noble indignation in his repudiation of his sister's doubts,
and a manly determination not to marry Mrs. Rebecca's comfortable
fortune. I begin to think that Sheldon's theory of an early and secret
marriage will turn up a trump card; but Heaven only knows how slow or
how difficult may be the labour of proving such a marriage. And then,
even if we can find documentary evidence of such an event, we shall
have but advanced one step in our obscure path, and should have yet to
discover the issue of that union, and to trace the footsteps of
Matthew's unknown descendants during the period of a century.
I wonder how Sisyphus felt when the stone kept rolling back upon him.
Did he ever look up to the top of the mountain and calculate the
distance he must needs traverse before his task should be done?
The next letter in which I find a passage worth transcribing is of much
later date, and abounds in initials. The postmark is illegible; but I
can just make out the letters PO and L, the two first close together,
the third after an interval; and there is internal evidence to show
that the letter was written from some dull country place. Might not
that place have been Spotswold? the PO and the L of the postmark would
fit very well into the name of that village. Again I leave this
question to the astute Sheldon. The date is March, 1749.
"M. is but porely. Sumtimes I am pain'd to believe this quiett life is
not well suted to herr disposishun, having bin acustumed to so much
livlinesse and nois. I hav reproched her with this, but she tolde me,
with teres in her eys, to be neare mee and M. and C. was to be happie,
and ye it is il helth onlie wich is ye cawse of ye sadnesse. I pray
heaven M.'s helth may be on ye mending hand soone. Little M. grows more
butiful everry day; and indede, my dear sisterr, if you cou'd stele
another visitt this waye, and oblidge yr affectionat brother, you wou'd
considerr him ye moste butifull creetur ever scene. So much enteligence
with sich ingaging temper endeares him to all hartes. Mrs. J. says she
adors him, and is amost afraide to be thort a Paygann for bestoeing so
much affection on a erthly creetur, and this to oure good parson who
cou'd find no reproche for her plesant folly.
"We hav had heavy ranes all ye week last past. Sech wether can but
serve to hinderr M.'s recovery. The fysichion at G., wear I tooke her,
saies she shou'd hav much fresh aire everry day--if not afoot, to be
carrid in a chaire or cotche; but in this wether, and in a plaice wear
neeither chaire nor cotche can be had, she must needs stop in doors. I
hav begg'd her to lett me carry her to G., but she will not, and says
in ye summerr she will be as strong as everr. I pray God she may be so.
Butt theire are times whenn my harte is sore and heavy; and the rane
beeting agenst the winder semes lik dropps of cold worter falling uponn
my pore aking harte. If you cou'd stele a visitt you wou'd see wether
she semes worse than whenn you sor her last ortumm; she is trieing ye
tansy tea; and beggs her service to you, and greatfull thanks for y'r
rememberence of her. I dare to say you here splended acounts of my
doins in London--at cok fites and theaters, dansing at Vorxhall, and
beeting ye wotch in Covin Garden. Does my F. stil use to speke harsh
agenst me, or has he ni forgott their is sech a creetur living? If he
has so, I hope you wil kepe him in sech forgetfullnesse,--and obliage,
"Yr loving brother and obediant servent."
To me this letter is almost conclusive evidence of a marriage. Who can
this little M. be, of whom he writes so tenderly, except a child? Who
can this woman be, whose ill health causes him such anxiety, unless a
wife? Of no one _but_ a wife could he write so freely to his sister.
The place to which he asks her to "steal a visit" must needs be a home
to which a man could invite his sister. I fancy it is thus made very
clear that at this period Matthew Haygarth was secretly married and
living at Spotswold, where his wife and son were afterwards buried, and
whence the body of the son was ultimately removed to Dewsdale to be
laid in that grave which the father felt would soon be his own