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MR. FERDINANDO FALKLAND, a high-spirited and highly cultured gentleman,
a country squire in "a remote county of England."

CALEB WILLIAMS, a youth, his secretary, the discoverer of his secret,
and the supposed narrator of the consequent events.

MR. COLLINS, Falkland's steward and Caleb's friend.

THOMAS, a servant of Falkland's.

MR. FORESTER, Falkland's brother-in-law.

MR. BARNABAS TYRREL, a brutal and tyrannical squire.

MISS EMILY MELVILLE, his cousin and dependent, whom he cruelly maltreats
and does to death.

GRIMES, a brutal rustic, suborned by Tyrrel to abduct Miss Melville.

DR. WILSON; MRS. HAMMOND, friends of Miss Melville. MR. HAWKINS, farmer;
YOUNG HAWKINS, his son, Victims of Tyrrel's brutality, and wrongfully
hanged as his murderers.

GINES, a robber and thief-taker, instrument of Falkland's vengeance upon

MR. RAYMOND, an "Arcadian" captain of robbers.

LARKINS, one of his band.

AN OLD HAG, housekeeper to the robbers.


MISS PEGGY, the gaoler's daughter.

MRS. MARNEY, a poor gentlewoman, Caleb's friend in distress.

MR. SPURREL, a friend who informs on Caleb.

MRS. DENISON, a cultivated lady with whom Caleb is for a while on
friendly terms.


The reputation of WILLIAM GODWIN as a social philosopher, and the merits
of his famous novel, "Caleb Williams," have been for more than a century
the subject of extreme divergencies of judgment among critics. "The
first systematic anarchist," as he is called by Professor Saintsbury,
aroused bitter contention with his writings during his own lifetime, and
his opponents have remained so prejudiced that even the staid
bibliographer Allibone, in his "Dictionary of English Literature," a
place where one would think the most flagitious author safe from
animosity, speaks of Godwin's private life in terms that are little less
than scurrilous. Over against this persistent acrimony may be put the
fine eulogy of Mr. C. Kegan Paul, his biographer, to represent the
favourable judgment of our own time, whilst I will venture to quote one
remarkable passage that voices the opinions of many among Godwin's most
eminent contemporaries.

In "The Letters of Charles Lamb," Sir T.N. Talfourd says:

"Indifferent altogether to the politics of the age, Lamb could
not help being struck with productions of its newborn energies
so remarkable as the works and the character of Godwin. He
seemed to realise in himself what Wordsworth long afterwards
described, 'the central calm at the heart of all agitation.'
Through the medium of his mind the stormy convulsions of society
were seen 'silent as in a picture.' Paradoxes the most daring
wore the air of deliberate wisdom as he pronounced them. He
foretold the future happiness of mankind, not with the
inspiration of the poet, but with the grave and passionless
voice of the oracle. There was nothing better calculated at once
to feed and to make steady the enthusiasm of youthful patriots
than the high speculations in which he taught them to engage, on
the nature of social evils and the great destiny of his species.
No one would have suspected the author of those wild theories
which startled the wise and shocked the prudent in the calm,
gentlemanly person who rarely said anything above the most
gentle commonplace, and took interest in little beyond the

WILLIAM GODWIN (1756-1836) was son and grandson of Dissenting ministers,
and was destined for the same profession. In theology he began as a
Calvinist, and for a while was tinctured with the austere doctrines of
the Sandemanians. But his religious views soon took an unorthodox turn,
and in 1782, falling out with his congregation at Stowmarket, he came up
to London to earn his bread henceforward as a man of letters. In 1793
Godwin became one of the most famous men in England by the publication
of his "Political Justice," a work that his biographer would place side
by side with the "Speech for Unlicensed Printing," the "Essay on
Education," and "Emile," as one of "the unseen levers which have moved
the changes of the times." Although the book came out at what we should
call a "prohibitive price," it had an enormous circulation, and brought
its author in something like 1,000 guineas. In his first novel, "Caleb
Williams," which was published the next year, he illustrated in scenes
from real life many of the principles enunciated in his philosophical
work. "Caleb Williams" went through a number of editions, and was
dramatized by Colman the younger under the title of "The Iron Chest." It
has now been out of print for many years. Godwin wrote several other
novels, but one alone is readable now, "St. Leon," which is
philosophical in idea and purpose, and contains some passages of
singular eloquence and beauty.

Godwin married the authoress of the "Rights of Woman," Mary
Wollstonecraft, in 1797, losing her the same year. Their daughter was
the gifted wife of the poet Shelley. He was a social man, particularly
fond of whist, and was on terms of intimacy and affection with many
celebrated men and women. Tom Paine, Josiah Wedgwood, and Curran were
among his closest male friends, while the story of his friendships with
Mrs. Inchbald, Amelia Opie, with the lady immortalized by Shelley as
Maria Gisborne, and with those literary sisters, Sophia and Harriet Lee,
authors of the "Canterbury Tales," has a certain sentimental interest.
Afterwards he became known to Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Lamb. He
married Mrs. Clairmont in 1801. His later years were clouded by great
embarrassments, and not till 1833 was he put out of reach of the worst
privations by the gift of a small sinecure, that of yeoman usher of the
Exchequer. He died in 1836.

Among the contradictory judgments passed on "Caleb Williams" by Godwin's
contemporaries those of Hazlitt, Sir James Mackintosh, and Sir T. N.
Talfourd were perhaps the most eulogistic, whilst De Quincey and Allan
Cunningham criticized the book with considerable severity. Hazlitt's
opinion is quoted from the "Spirit of the Age":

"A masterpiece, both as to invention and execution. The romantic
and chivalrous principle of the love of personal fame is
embodied in the finest possible manner in the character of
Falkland; as in Caleb Williams (who is not the first, but the
second character in the piece), we see the very demon of
curiosity personified. Perhaps the art with which these two
characters are contrived to relieve and set off each other has
never been surpassed by any work of fiction, with the exception
of the immortal satire of Cervantes."

Sir Leslie Stephen said of it the other day:

"It has lived--though in comparative obscurity--for over a
century, and high authorities tell us that vitality prolonged
for that period raises a presumption that a book deserves the
title of classic."--_National Review, February_, 1902.

To understand how the work came to be written, and its aim, it is
advisable to read carefully all three of Godwin's prefaces, more
particularly the last and the most candid, written in 1832. This will, I
think, dispose of the objection that the story was expressly constructed
to illustrate a moral, a moral that, as Sir Leslie Stephen says, "eludes
him." He says:

"I formed a conception of a book of fictitious adventure that
should in some way be distinguished by a very powerful interest.
Pursuing this idea, I invented first the third volume of my
tale, then the second, and, last of all, the first. I bent
myself to the conception of a series of adventures of flight and
pursuit; the fugitive in perpetual apprehension of being
overwhelmed with the worst calamities, and the pursuer, by his
ingenuity and resources, keeping his victim in a state of the
most fearful alarm. This was the project of my third volume."

He goes on to describe in more detail the "dramatic and impressive"
situations and the "fearful events" that were to be evolved, making it
pretty clear that the purpose somewhat vaguely and cautiously outlined
in the earliest preface was rather of the nature of an afterthought.
Falkland is not intended to be a personification of the evils caused by
the social system, nor is he put forward as the inevitable product of
that system. The reader's attention is chiefly absorbed by the
extraordinary contest between Caleb Williams and Falkland, and in the
tragic situations that it involves. Compared with these the denunciation
of the social system is a matter of secondary interest; but it was
natural that the author of the "Political Justice," with his mind
preoccupied by the defects of the English social system, should make
those defects the, evil agencies of his plot. As the essential
conditions of the series of events, as the machinery by which everything
is brought about, these defects are of the utmost importance to the
story. It is the accused system that awards to Tyrrel and Falkland their
immense preponderance in society, and enables them to use the power of
the law for the most nefarious ends. Tyrrel does his cousin to death and
ruins his tenant, a man of integrity, by means of the law. This is the
occasion of Falkland's original crime. His more heinous offence, the
abandonment of the innocent Hawkinses to the gallows, is the consequence
of what Godwin expressly denounces, punishment for murder. "I conceived
it to be in the highest degree absurd and iniquitous, to cut off a man
qualified for the most essential and extensive utility, merely out of
retrospect to an act which, whatever were its merits, could not be
retrieved." Then a new element is imported into the train of causation,
Caleb's insatiable curiosity, and the strife begins between these
well-matched antagonists, the man of wealth and station utilizing all
the advantages granted him by the state of society to crush his enemy.
Godwin, then, was justified in declaring that his book comprehended "a
general view of the modes of domestic and unrecorded despotism by which
man becomes the destroyer of man." Such were the words of the original
preface, which was suppressed for a short time owing to the fears caused
by the trial of Horne Tooke, Thomas Holcroft and other revolutionists,
with whom Godwin was in profound sympathy. Had he intended "Caleb
Williams," however, from its first inception, to be an imaginative
version of the "Political Justice," he would have had to invent a
different plan and different characters. The arguments of a sociological
novel lack cogency unless the characters are fairly representative of
average mankind. Godwin's principal actors are both, to say the least,
exceptional. They are lofty idealizations of certain virtues and powers
of mind. Falkland is like Jean Valjean, a superhuman creature; and,
indeed, "Caleb Williams" may well be compared on one side with "Les
Miserables," for Victor Hugo's avowed purpose, likewise, was the
denunciation of social tyranny. But the characteristics that would have
weakened the implied theorem, had such been the main object, are the
very things that make the novel more powerful as drama of a grandiose,
spiritual kind. The high and concentrated imagination that created such
a being as Falkland, and the intensity of passion with which Caleb's
fatal energy of mind is sustained through that long, despairing
struggle, are of greater artistic value than the mechanical symmetry by
which morals are illustrated.

E. A. B.



The following narrative is intended to answer a purpose more general and
important than immediately appears upon the face of it. The question now
afloat in the world respecting THINGS AS THEY ARE is the most
interesting that can be presented to the human mind. While one party
pleads for reformation and change, the other extols in the warmest terms
the existing constitution of society. It seemed as if something would be
gained for the decision of this question if that constitution were
faithfully developed in its practical effects. What is now presented to
the public is no refined and abstract speculation; it is a study and
delineation of things passing in the moral world. It is but of late that
the inestimable importance of political principles has been adequately
apprehended. It is now known to philosophers that the spirit and
character of the Government intrudes itself into every rank of society.
But this is a truth highly worthy to be communicated to persons whom
books of philosophy and science are never likely to reach. Accordingly,
it was proposed, in the invention of the following work, to comprehend,
as far as the progressive nature of a single story would allow, a
general review of the modes of domestic and unrecorded despotism by
which man becomes the destroyer of man. If the author shall have taught
a valuable lesson, without subtracting from the interest and passion by
which a performance of this sort ought to be characterised, he will have
reason to congratulate himself upon the vehicle he has chosen.

_May_ 12, 1794.

This preface was withdrawn in the original edition, in compliance with
the alarms of booksellers. "Caleb Williams" made his first appearance in
the world in the same month in which the sanguinary plot broke out
against the liberties of Englishmen, which was happily terminated by the
acquittal of its first intended victims in the close of that year.
Terror was the order of the day; and it was feared that even the humble
novelist might be shown to be constructively a traitor.

_October_ 29, 1795.



_November_ 20, 1832.

"CALEB WILLIAMS" has always been regarded by the public with an unusual
degree of favour. The proprietor of "THE STANDARD NOVELS" has therefore
imagined that even an account of the concoction and mode of writing of
the work would be viewed with some interest.

I finished the "Enquiry concerning Political Justice," the first work
which may be considered as written by me in a certain degree in the
maturity of my intellectual powers, and bearing my name, early in
January, 1793; and about the middle of the following month the book was
published. It was my fortune at that time to be obliged to consider my
pen as the sole instrument for supplying my current expenses. By the
liberality of my bookseller, Mr. George Robinson, of Paternoster Row, I
was enabled then, and for nearly ten years before, to meet these
expenses, while writing different things of obscure note, the names of
which, though innocent and in some degree useful, I am rather inclined
to suppress. In May, 1791, I projected this, my favourite work, and from
that time gave up every other occupation that might interfere with it.
My agreement with Robinson was that he was to supply my wants at a
specified rate while the book was in the train of composition. Finally,
I was very little beforehand with the world on the day of its
publication, and was therefore obliged to look round and consider to
what species of industry I should next devote myself.

I had always felt in myself some vocation towards the composition of a
narrative of fictitious adventure; and among the things of obscure note
which I have above referred to were two or three pieces of this nature.
It is not therefore extraordinary that some project of the sort should
have suggested itself on the present occasion.

But I stood now in a very different situation from that in which I had
been placed at a former period. In past years, and even almost from
boyhood, I was perpetually prone to exclaim with Cowley:

"What shall I do to be for ever known,
And make the age to come my own?"

But I had endeavoured for ten years, and was as far from approaching my
object as ever. Everything I wrote fell dead-born from the press. Very
often I was disposed to quit the enterprise in despair. But still I felt
ever and anon impelled to repeat my effort.

At length I conceived the plan of Political Justice. I was convinced
that my object of building to myself a name would never be attained by
merely repeating and refining a little upon what other men had said,
even though I should imagine that I delivered things of this sort with a
more than usual point and elegance. The world, I believed, would accept
nothing from me with distinguishing favour that did not bear upon the
face of it the undoubted stamp of originality. Having long ruminated
upon the principles of Political Justice, I persuaded myself that I
could offer to the public, in a treatise on this subject, things at once
new, true, and important. In the progress of the work I became more
sanguine and confident. I talked over my ideas with a few familiar
friends during its progress, and they gave me every generous
encouragement. It happened that the fame of my book, in some
inconsiderable degree, got before its publication, and a certain number
of persons were prepared to receive it with favour. It would be false
modesty in me to say that its acceptance, when published, did not nearly
come up to everything that could soberly have been expected by me. In
consequence of this, the tone of my mind, both during the period in
which I was engaged in the work and afterwards, acquired a certain
elevation, and made me now unwilling to stoop to what was insignificant.

I formed a conception of a book of fictitious adventure that should in
some way be distinguished by a very powerful interest. Pursuing this
idea, I invented first the third volume of my tale, then the second, and
last of all the first. I bent myself to the conception of a series of
adventures of flight and pursuit; the fugitive in perpetual apprehension
of being overwhelmed with the worst calamities, and the pursuer, by his
ingenuity and resources, keeping his victim in a state of the most
fearful alarm. This was the project of my third volume. I was next
called upon to conceive a dramatic and impressive situation adequate to
account for the impulse that the pursuer should feel, incessantly to
alarm and harass his victim, with an inextinguishable resolution never
to allow him the least interval of peace and security. This I
apprehended could best be effected by a secret murder, to the
investigation of which the innocent victim should be impelled by an
unconquerable spirit of curiosity. The murderer would thus have a
sufficient motive to persecute the unhappy discoverer, that he might
deprive him of peace, character, and credit, and have him for ever in
his power. This constituted the outline of my second volume.

The subject of the first volume was still to be invented. To account
for the fearful events of the third, it was necessary that the pursuer
should be invested with every advantage of fortune, with a resolution
that nothing could defeat or baffle, and with extraordinary resources of
intellect. Nor could my purpose of giving an overpowering interest to my
tale be answered without his appearing to have been originally endowed
with a mighty store of amiable dispositions and virtues, so that his
being driven to the first act of murder should be judged worthy of the
deepest regret, and should be seen in some measure to have arisen out of
his virtues themselves. It was necessary to make him, so to speak, the
tenant of an atmosphere of romance, so that every reader should feel
prompted almost to worship him for his high qualities. Here were ample
materials for a first volume.

I felt that I had a great advantage in thus carrying back my invention
from the ultimate conclusion to the first commencement of the train of
adventures upon which I purposed to employ my pen. An entire unity of
plot would be the infallible result; and the unity of spirit and
interest in a tale truly considered gives it a powerful hold on the
reader, which can scarcely be generated with equal success in any other

I devoted about two or three weeks to the imagining and putting down
hints for my story before I engaged seriously and methodically in its
composition. In these hints I began with my third volume, then proceeded
to my second, and last of all grappled with the first. I filled two or
three sheets of demy writing-paper, folded in octavo, with these
memorandums. They were put down with great brevity, yet explicitly
enough to secure a perfect recollection of their meaning, within the
time necessary for drawing out the story at full, in short paragraphs of
two, three, four, five, or six lines each.

I then sat down to write my story from the beginning. I wrote for the
most part but a short portion in any single day. I wrote only when the
afflatus was upon me. I held it for a maxim that any portion that was
written when I was not fully in the vein told for considerably worse
than nothing. Idleness was a thousand times better in this case than
industry against the grain. Idleness was only time lost; and the next
day, it may be, was as promising as ever. It was merely a day perished
from the calendar. But a passage written feebly, flatly, and in a wrong
spirit, constituted an obstacle that it was next to impossible to
correct and set right again. I wrote therefore by starts; sometimes for
a week or ten days not a line. Yet all came to the same thing in the
sequel. On an average, a volume of "Caleb Williams" cost me four months,
neither less nor more.

It must be admitted, however, that during the whole period, bating a few
intervals, my mind was in a high state of excitement. I said to myself a
thousand times, "I will write a tale that shall constitute an epoch in
the mind of the reader, that no one, after he has read it, shall ever be
exactly the same man that he was before."--I put these things down just
as they happened, and with the most entire frankness. I know that it
will sound like the most pitiable degree of self-conceit. But such
perhaps ought to be the state of mind of an author when he does his
best. At any rate, I have said nothing of my vainglorious impulse for
nearly forty years.

When I had written about seven-tenths of the first volume, I was
prevailed upon by the extreme importunity of an old and intimate friend
to allow him the perusal of my manuscript. On the second day he returned
it with a note to this purpose: "I return you your manuscript, because I
promised to do so. If I had obeyed the impulse of my own mind, I should
have thrust it in the fire. If you persist, the book will infallibly
prove the grave of your literary fame."

I doubtless felt no implicit deference for the judgment of my friendly
critic. Yet it cost me at least two days of deep anxiety before I
recovered the shock. Let the reader picture to himself my situation. I
felt no implicit deference for the judgment of my friendly critic. But
it was all I had for it. This was my first experiment of an unbiassed
decision. It stood in the place of all the world to me. I could not, and
I did not feel disposed to, appeal any further. If I had, how could I
tell that the second and third judgment would be more favourable than
the first? Then what would have been the result? No; I had nothing for
it but to wrap myself in my own integrity. By dint of resolution I
became invulnerable. I resolved to go on to the end, trusting as I could
to my own anticipations of the whole, and bidding the world wait its
time before it should be admitted to the consult.

I began my narrative, as is the more usual way, in the third person. But
I speedily became dissatisfied. I then assumed the first person, making
the hero of my tale his own historian; and in this mode I have persisted
in all my subsequent attempts at works of fiction. It was infinitely the
best adapted, at least, to my vein of delineation, where the thing in
which my imagination revelled the most freely was the analysis of the
private and internal operations of the mind, employing my metaphysical
dissecting knife in tracing and laying bare the involutions of motive,
and recording the gradually accumulating impulses which led the
personages I had to describe primarily to adopt the particular way of
proceeding in which they afterwards embarked.

When I had determined on the main purpose of my story, it was ever my
method to get about me any productions of former authors that seemed to
bear on my subject. I never entertained the fear that in this way of
proceeding I should be in danger of servilely copying my predecessors. I
imagined that I had a vein of thinking that was properly my own, which
would always preserve me from plagiarism. I read other authors, that I
might see what they had done, or, more properly, that I might forcibly
hold my mind and occupy my thoughts in a particular train, I and my
predecessors travelling in some sense to the same goal, at the same time
that I struck out a path of my own, without ultimately heeding the
direction they pursued, and disdaining to inquire whether by any chance
it for a few steps coincided or did not coincide with mine.

Thus, in the instance of "Caleb Williams," I read over a little old
book, entitled "The Adventures of Mademoiselle de St. Phale," a French
Protestant in the times of the fiercest persecution of the Huguenots,
who fled through France in the utmost terror, in the midst of eternal
alarms and hair-breadth escapes, having her quarters perpetually beaten
up, and by scarcely any chance finding a moment's interval of security.
I turned over the pages of a tremendous compilation, entitled "God's
Revenge against Murder," where the beam of the eye of Omniscience was
represented as perpetually pursuing the guilty, and laying open his most
hidden retreats to the light of day. I was extremely conversant with the
"Newgate Calendar" and the "Lives of the Pirates." In the meantime no
works of fiction came amiss to me, provided they were written with
energy. The authors were still employed upon the same mine as myself,
however different was the vein they pursued: we were all of us engaged
in exploring the entrails of mind and motive, and in tracing the various
rencontres and clashes that may occur between man and man in the
diversified scene of human life.

I rather amused myself with tracing a certain similitude between the
story of Caleb Williams and the tale of Bluebeard, than derived any
hints from that admirable specimen of the terrific. Falkland was my
Bluebeard, who had perpetrated atrocious crimes, which, if discovered,
he might expect to have all the world roused to revenge against him.
Caleb Williams was the wife who, in spite of warning, persisted in his
attempts to discover the forbidden secret; and, when he had succeeded,
struggled as fruitlessly to escape the consequences, as the wife of
Bluebeard in washing the key of the ensanguined chamber, who, as often
as she cleared the stain of blood from the one side, found it showing
itself with frightful distinctness on the other.

When I had proceeded as far as the early pages of my third volume, I
found myself completely at a stand. I rested on my arms from the 2nd of
January, 1794, to the 1st of April following, without getting forward in
the smallest degree. It has ever been thus with me in works of any
continuance. The bow will not be for ever bent:

"Opere in longo fas est obrepere somnum."

I endeavoured, however, to take my repose to myself in security, and not
to inflict a set of crude and incoherent dreams upon my readers. In the
meantime, when I revived, I revived in earnest, and in the course of
that month carried on my work with unabated speed to the end.

Thus I have endeavoured to give a true history of the concoction and
mode of writing of this mighty trifle. When I had done, I soon became
sensible that I had done in a manner nothing. How many flat and insipid
parts does the book contain! How terribly unequal does it appear to me!
From time to time the author plainly reels to and fro like a drunken
man. And, when I had done all, what had I done? Written a book to amuse
boys and girls in their vacant hours, a story to be hastily gobbled up
by them, swallowed in a pusillanimous and unanimated mood, without
chewing and digestion. I was in this respect greatly impressed with the
confession of one of the most accomplished readers and excellent critics
that any author could have fallen in with (the unfortunate Joseph
Gerald). He told me that he had received my book late one evening, and
had read through the three volumes before he closed his eyes. Thus, what
had cost me twelve months' labour, ceaseless heartaches and industry,
now sinking in despair, and now roused and sustained in unusual energy,
he went over in a few hours, shut the book, laid himself on his pillow,
slept, and was refreshed, and cried,

"To-morrow to fresh woods and pastures new."

I had thought to have said something here respecting the concoction of
"St. Leon" and "Fleetwood." But all that occurs to me on the subject
seems to be anticipated in the following


_February 14, 1805._

Yet another novel from the same pen, which has twice before claimed the
patience of the public in this form. The unequivocal indulgence which
has been extended to my two former attempts, renders me doubly
solicitous not to forfeit the kindness I have experienced.

One caution I have particularly sought to exercise: "not to repeat
myself." Caleb Williams was a story of very surprising and uncommon
events, but which were supposed to be entirely within the laws and
established course of nature, as she operates in the planet we inhabit.
The story of St. Leon is of the miraculous class; and its design, to
"mix human feelings and passions with incredible situations, and thus
render them impressive and interesting."

Some of those fastidious readers--they may be classed among the best
friends an author has, if their admonitions are judiciously
considered--who are willing to discover those faults which do not offer
themselves to every eye, have remarked that both these tales are in a
vicious style of writing; that Horace has long ago decided that the
story we cannot believe we are by all the laws of criticism called upon
to hate; and that even the adventures of the honest secretary, who was
first heard of ten years ago, are so much out of the usual road that not
one reader in a million can ever fear they will happen to himself.

Gentlemen critics, I thank you. In the present volumes I have served you
with a dish agreeable to your own receipt, though I cannot say with any
sanguine hope of obtaining your approbation.

The following story consists of such adventures as for the most part
have occurred to at least one half of the Englishmen now existing who
are of the same rank of life as my hero. Most of them have been at
college, and shared in college excesses; most of them have afterward run
a certain gauntlet of dissipation; most have married, and, I am afraid,
there are few of the married tribe who have not at some time or other
had certain small misunderstandings with their wives.[A] To be sure,
they have not all of them felt and acted under these trite adventures as
my hero does. In this little work the reader will scarcely find anything
to "elevate and surprise;" and, if it has any merit, it must consist in
the liveliness with which it brings things home to the imagination, and
the reality it gives to the scenes it pourtrays.

[Footnote A: I confess, however, the inability I found to weave a
catastrophe, such as I desired, out of these ordinary incidents. What I
have here said, therefore, must not be interpreted as applicable to the
concluding sheets of my work.]

Yes, even in the present narrative, I have aimed at a certain kind of
novelty--a novelty which may be aptly expressed by a parody on a
well-known line of Pope; it relates:

"Things often done, but never yet described."

In selecting among common and ordinary adventures, I have endeavoured to
avoid such as a thousand novels before mine have undertaken to develop.
Multitudes of readers have themselves passed through the very incidents
I relate; but, for the most part, no work has hitherto recorded them. If
I have hold them truly, I have added somewhat to the stock of books
which should enable a recluse, shut up in his closet, to form an idea of
what is passing in the world. It is inconceivable, meanwhile, how much,
by this choice of a subject, I increased the arduousness of my task. It
is so easy to do, a little better, or a little worse, what twenty
authors have done before! If I had foreseen from the first all the
difficulty of my project, my courage would have failed me to undertake
the execution of it.

Certain persons, who condescend to make my supposed inconsistencies the
favourite object of their research, will perhaps remark with exultation
on the respect expressed in this work for marriage, and exclaim, "It was
not always thus!" referring to the pages in which this subject is
treated in the "Enquiry concerning Political Justice" for the proof of
their assertion. The answer to this remark is exceedingly simple. The
production referred to in it, the first foundation of its author's claim
to public distinction and favour, was a treatise, aiming to ascertain
what new institutions in political society might be found more
conducive to general happiness than those which at present prevail. In
the course of this disquisition it was enquired whether marriage, as it
stands described and supported in the laws of England, might not with
advantage admit of certain modifications. Can anything be more distinct
than such a proposition on the one hand and a recommendation on the
other that each man for himself should supersede and trample upon the
institutions of the country in which he lives? A thousand things might
be found excellent and salutary, if brought into general practice, which
would in some cases appear ridiculous, and in others be attended with
tragical consequences, if prematurely acted upon by a solitary
individual. The author of "Political Justice," as appears again and
again in the pages of that work, is the last man in the world to
recommend a pitiful attempt, by scattered examples, to renovate the face
of society, instead of endeavouring, by discussion and reasoning, to
effect a grand and comprehensive improvement in the sentiments of its

* * * * *



My life has for several years been a theatre of calamity. I have been a
mark for the vigilance of tyranny, and I could not escape. My fairest
prospects have been blasted. My enemy has shown himself inaccessible to
entreaties, and untired in persecution. My fame, as well as my
happiness, has become his victim. Every one, as far as my story has been
known, has refused to assist me in my distress, and has execrated my
name. I have not deserved this treatment. My own conscience witnesses in
behalf of that innocence, my pretensions to which are regarded in the
world as incredible. There is now, however, little hope that I shall
escape from the toils that universally beset me. I am incited to the
penning of these memoirs only by a desire to divert my mind from the
deplorableness of my situation, and a faint idea that posterity may by
their means be induced to render me a justice which my contemporaries
refuse. My story will, at least, appear to have that consistency which
is seldom attendant but upon truth.

I was born of humble parents, in a remote county of England. Their
occupations were such as usually fall to the lot of peasants, and they
had no portion to give me, but an education free from the usual sources
of depravity, and the inheritance, long since lost by their unfortunate
progeny! of an honest fame. I was taught the rudiments of no science,
except reading, writing, and arithmetic. But I had an inquisitive mind,
and neglected no means of information from conversation or books. My
improvement was greater than my condition in life afforded room to

There are other circumstances deserving to be mentioned as having
influenced the history of my future life. I was somewhat above the
middle stature. Without being particularly athletic in appearance, or
large in my dimensions, I was uncommonly vigorous and active. My joints
were supple, and I was formed to excel in youthful sports. The habits of
my mind, however, were to a certain degree at war with the dictates of
boyish vanity. I had considerable aversion to the boisterous gaiety of
the village gallants, and contrived to satisfy my love of praise with an
unfrequent apparition at their amusements. My excellence in these
respects, however, gave a turn to my meditations. I delighted to read of
feats of activity, and was particularly interested by tales in which
corporeal ingenuity or strength are the means resorted to for supplying
resources and conquering difficulties. I inured myself to mechanical
pursuits, and devoted much of my time to an endeavour after mechanical

The spring of action which, perhaps more than any other, characterised
the whole train of my life, was curiosity. It was this that gave me my
mechanical turn; I was desirous of tracing the variety of effects which
might be produced from given causes. It was this that made me a sort of
natural philosopher; I could not rest till I had acquainted myself with
the solutions that had been invented for the phenomena of the universe.
In fine, this produced in me an invincible attachment to books of
narrative and romance. I panted for the unravelling of an adventure with
an anxiety, perhaps almost equal to that of the man whose future
happiness or misery depended on its issue. I read, I devoured
compositions of this sort. They took possession of my soul; and the
effects they produced were frequently discernible in my external
appearance and my health. My curiosity, however, was not entirely
ignoble: village anecdotes and scandal had no charms for me: my
imagination must be excited; and when that was not done, my curiosity
was dormant.

The residence of my parents was within the manor of Ferdinando Falkland,
a country squire of considerable opulence. At an early age I attracted
the favourable notice of Mr. Collins, this gentleman's steward, who used
to call in occasionally at my father's. He observed the particulars of
my progress with approbation, and made a favourable report to his master
of my industry and genius.

In the summer of the year ----, Mr. Falkland visited his estate in our
county after an absence of several months. This was a period of
misfortune to me. I was then eighteen years of age. My father lay dead
in our cottage. I had lost my mother some years before. In this forlorn
situation I was surprised with a message from the squire, ordering me to
repair to the mansion-house the morning after my father's funeral.

Though I was not a stranger to books, I had no practical acquaintance
with men. I had never had occasion to address a person of this elevated
rank, and I felt no small uneasiness and awe on the present occasion. I
found Mr. Falkland a man of small stature, with an extreme delicacy of
form and appearance. In place of the hard-favoured and inflexible
visages I had been accustomed to observe, every muscle and petty line of
his countenance seemed to be in an inconceivable degree pregnant with
meaning. His manner was kind, attentive, and humane. His eye was full of
animation; but there was a grave and sad solemnity in his air, which,
for want of experience, I imagined was the inheritance of the great, and
the instrument by which the distance between them and their inferiors
was maintained. His look bespoke the unquietness of his mind, and
frequently wandered with an expression of disconsolateness and anxiety.

My reception was as gracious and encouraging as I could possibly desire.
Mr. Falkland questioned me respecting my learning, and my conceptions of
men and things, and listened to my answers with condescension and
approbation. This kindness soon restored to me a considerable part of my
self-possession, though I still felt restrained by the graceful, but
unaltered dignity of his carriage. When Mr. Falkland had satisfied his
curiosity, he proceeded to inform me that he was in want of a secretary,
that I appeared to him sufficiently qualified for that office, and that,
if, in my present change of situation, occasioned by the death of my
father, I approved of the employment, he would take me into his family.

I felt highly flattered by the proposal, and was warm in the expression
of my acknowledgments. I set eagerly about the disposal of the little
property my father had left, in which I was assisted by Mr. Collins. I
had not now a relation in the world, upon whose kindness and
interposition I had any direct claim. But, far from regarding this
deserted situation with terror, I formed golden visions of the station
I was about to occupy. I little suspected that the gaiety and lightness
of heart I had hitherto enjoyed were upon the point of leaving me for
ever, and that the rest of my days were devoted to misery and alarm.

My employment was easy and agreeable. It consisted partly in the
transcribing and arranging certain papers, and partly in writing from my
master's dictation letters of business, as well as sketches of literary
composition. Many of these latter consisted of an analytical survey of
the plans of different authors and conjectural speculations upon hints
they afforded, tending either to the detection of their errors, or the
carrying forward their discoveries. All of them bore powerful marks of a
profound and elegant mind, well stored with literature, and possessed of
an uncommon share of activity and discrimination.

My station was in that part of the house which was appropriated for the
reception of books, it being my duty to perform the functions of
librarian as well as secretary. Here my hours would have glided in
tranquillity and peace, had not my situation included in it
circumstances totally different from those which attended me in my
father's cottage. In early life my mind had been much engrossed by
reading and reflection: my intercourse with my fellow mortals was
occasional and short. But, in my new residence, I was excited by every
motive of interest and novelty to study my master's character; and I
found in it an ample field for speculation and conjecture.

His mode of living was in the utmost degree recluse and solitary. He had
no inclination to scenes of revelry and mirth. He avoided the busy
haunts of men; nor did he seem desirous to compensate for this privation
by the confidence of friendship. He appeared a total stranger to every
thing which usually bears the appellation of pleasure. His features were
scarcely ever relaxed into a smile, nor did that air which spoke the
unhappiness of his mind at any time forsake them: yet his manners were
by no means such as denoted moroseness and misanthropy. He was
compassionate and considerate for others, though the stateliness of his
carriage and the reserve of his temper were at no time interrupted. His
appearance and general behaviour might have strongly interested all
persons in his favour; but the coldness of his address, and the
impenetrableness of his sentiments, seemed to forbid those
demonstrations of kindness to which one might otherwise have been

Such was the general appearance of Mr. Falkland: but his disposition was
extremely unequal. The distemper which afflicted him with incessant
gloom had its paroxysms. Sometimes he was hasty, peevish, and
tyrannical; but this proceeded rather from the torment of his mind than
an unfeeling disposition; and when reflection recurred, he appeared
willing that the weight of his misfortune should fall wholly upon
himself. Sometimes he entirely lost his self-possession, and his
behaviour was changed into frenzy: he would strike his forehead, his
brows became knit, his features distorted, and his teeth ground one
against the other When he felt the approach of these symptoms, he would
suddenly rise, and, leaving the occupation, whatever it was, in which he
was engaged, hasten into a solitude upon which no person dared to

It must not be supposed that the whole of what I am describing was
visible to the persons about him; nor, indeed, was I acquainted with it
in the extent here stated but after a considerable time, and in gradual
succession. With respect to the domestics in general, they saw but
little of their master. None of them, except myself, from the nature of
my functions, and Mr. Collins, from the antiquity of his service and the
respectableness of his character, approached Mr. Falkland, but at stated
seasons and for a very short interval. They knew him only by the
benevolence of his actions, and the principles of inflexible integrity
by which he was ordinarily guided; and though they would sometimes
indulge their conjectures respecting his singularities, they regarded
him upon the whole with veneration, as a being of a superior order.

One day, when I had been about three months in the service of my patron,
I went to a closet, or small apartment, which was separated from the
library by a narrow gallery that was lighted by a small window near the
roof. I had conceived that there was no person in the room, and intended
only to put any thing in order that I might find out of its place. As I
opened the door, I heard at the same instant a deep groan, expressive of
intolerable anguish. The sound of the door in opening seemed to alarm
the person within; I heard the lid of a trunk hastily shut, and the
noise as of fastening a lock. I conceived that Mr. Falkland was there,
and was going instantly to retire; but at that moment a voice, that
seemed supernaturally tremendous, exclaimed, Who is there? The voice was
Mr. Falkland's. The sound of it thrilled my very vitals. I endeavoured
to answer, but my speech failed, and being incapable of any other reply,
I instinctively advanced within the door into the room. Mr. Falkland was
just risen from the floor upon which he had been sitting or kneeling.
His face betrayed strong symptoms of confusion. With a violent effort,
however, these symptoms vanished, and instantaneously gave place to a
countenance sparkling with rage.

"Villain!" cried he, "what has brought you here?" I hesitated a
confused and irresolute answer. "Wretch!" interrupted Mr. Falkland, with
uncontrollable impatience, "you want to ruin me. You set yourself as a
spy upon my actions; but bitterly shall you repent your insolence. Do
you think you shall watch my privacies with impunity?" I attempted to
defend myself. "Begone, devil!" rejoined he. "Quit the room, or I will
trample you into atoms." Saying this, he advanced towards me. But I was
already sufficiently terrified, and vanished in a moment. I heard the
door shut after me with violence; and thus ended this extraordinary

I saw him again in the evening, and he was then tolerably composed. His
behaviour, which was always kind, was now doubly attentive and soothing.
He seemed to have something of which he wished to disburthen his mind,
but to want words in which to convey it. I looked at him with anxiety
and affection. He made two unsuccessful efforts, shook his head, and
then putting five guineas into my hand, pressed it in a manner that I
could feel proceeded from a mind pregnant with various emotions, though
I could not interpret them. Having done this, he seemed immediately to
recollect himself, and to take refuge in the usual distance and
solemnity of his manner.

I easily understood that secrecy was one of the things expected from me;
and, indeed, my mind was too much disposed to meditate upon what I had
heard and seen, to make it a topic of indiscriminate communication. Mr.
Collins, however, and myself happened to sup together that evening,
which was but seldom the case, his avocations obliging him to be much
abroad. He could not help observing an uncommon dejection and anxiety in
my countenance, and affectionately enquired into the reason. I
endeavoured to evade his questions, but my youth and ignorance of the
world gave me little advantage for that purpose. Beside this, I had been
accustomed to view Mr. Collins with considerable attachment, and I
conceived from the nature of his situation that there could be small
impropriety in making him my confident in the present instance. I
repeated to him minutely every thing that had passed, and concluded with
a solemn declaration that, though treated with caprice, I was not
anxious for myself; no inconvenience or danger should ever lead me to a
pusillanimous behaviour; and I felt only for my patron, who, with every
advantage for happiness, and being in the highest degree worthy of it,
seemed destined to undergo unmerited distress.

In answer to my communication, Mr. Collins informed me that some
incidents, of a nature similar to that which I related, had fallen under
his own knowledge, and that from the whole he could not help concluding
that our unfortunate patron, was at times disordered in his intellects.
"Alas!" continued he, "it was not always thus! Ferdinando Falkland was
once the gayest of the gay. Not indeed of that frothy sort, who excite
contempt instead of admiration, and whose levity argues thoughtlessness
rather than felicity. His gaiety was always accompanied with dignity. It
was the gaiety of the hero and the scholar. It was chastened with
reflection and sensibility, and never lost sight either of good taste or
humanity. Such as it was however, it denoted a genuine hilarity of
heart, imparted an inconceivable brilliancy to his company and
conversation, and rendered him the perpetual delight of the diversified
circles he then willingly frequented. You see nothing of him, my dear
Williams, but the ruin of that Falkland who was courted by sages, and
adored by the fair. His youth, distinguished in its outset by the most
unusual promise, is tarnished. His sensibility is shrunk up and withered
by events the most disgustful to his feelings. His mind was fraught with
all the rhapsodies of visionary honour; and, in his sense, nothing but
the grosser part, the mere shell of Falkland, was capable of surviving
the wound that his pride has sustained."

These reflections of my friend Collins strongly tended to inflame my
curiosity, and I requested him to enter into a more copious explanation.
With this request he readily complied; as conceiving that whatever
delicacy it became him to exercise in ordinary cases, it would be out of
place in my situation; and thinking it not improbable that Mr. Falkland,
but for the disturbance and inflammation of his mind, would be disposed
to a similar communication. I shall interweave with Mr. Collins's story
various information which I afterwards received from other quarters,
that I may give all possible perspicuity to the series of events. To
avoid confusion in my narrative, I shall drop the person of Collins, and
assume to be myself the historian of our patron. To the reader it may
appear at first sight as if this detail of the preceding life of Mr.
Falkland were foreign to my history. Alas! I know from bitter experience
that it is otherwise. My heart bleeds at the recollection of his
misfortunes, as if they were my own. How can it fail to do so? To his
story the whole fortune of my life was linked: because he was miserable,
my happiness, my name, and my existence have been irretrievably blasted.


Among the favourite authors of his early years were the heroic poets of
Italy. From them he imbibed the love of chivalry and romance. He had too
much good sense to regret the times of Charlemagne and Arthur. But,
while his imagination was purged by a certain infusion of philosophy, he
conceived that there was in the manners depicted by these celebrated
poets something to imitate, as well as something to avoid. He believed
that nothing was so well calculated to make men delicate, gallant, and
humane, as a temper perpetually alive to the sentiments of birth and
honour. The opinions he entertained upon these topics were illustrated
in his conduct, which was assiduously conformed to the model of heroism
that his fancy suggested.

With these sentiments he set out upon his travels, at the age at which
the grand tour is usually made; and they were rather confirmed than
shaken by the adventures that befel him. By inclination he was led to
make his longest stay in Italy; and here he fell into company with
several young noblemen whose studies and principles were congenial to
his own. By them he was assiduously courted, and treated with the most
distinguished applause. They were delighted to meet with a foreigner,
who had imbibed all the peculiarities of the most liberal and honourable
among themselves. Nor was he less favoured and admired by the softer
sex. Though his stature was small, his person had an air of uncommon
dignity. His dignity was then heightened by certain additions which were
afterwards obliterated,--an expression of frankness, ingenuity, and
unreserve, and a spirit of the most ardent enthusiasm. Perhaps no
Englishman was ever in an equal degree idolised by the inhabitants of

It was not possible for him to have drunk so deeply of the fountain of
chivalry without being engaged occasionally in affairs of honour, all of
which were terminated in a manner that would not have disgraced the
chevalier Bayard himself. In Italy, the young men of rank divide
themselves into two classes,--those who adhere to the pure principles of
ancient gallantry, and those who, being actuated by the same acute sense
of injury and insult, accustom themselves to the employment of hired
bravoes as their instruments of vengeance. The whole difference, indeed,
consists in the precarious application of a generally received
distinction. The most generous Italian conceives that there are certain
persons whom it would be contamination for him to call into the open
field. He nevertheless believes that an indignity cannot be expiated but
with blood, and is persuaded that the life of a man is a trifling
consideration, in comparison of the indemnification to be made to his
injured honour. There is, therefore, scarcely any Italian that would
upon some occasions scruple assassination. Men of spirit among them,
notwithstanding the prejudices of their education, cannot fail to have a
secret conviction of its baseness, and will be desirous of extending as
far as possible the cartel of honour. Real or affected arrogance teaches
others to regard almost the whole species as their inferiors, and of
consequence incites them to gratify their vengeance without danger to
their persons. Mr. Falkland met with some of these. But his undaunted
spirit and resolute temper gave him a decisive advantage even in such
perilous rencounters. One instance, among many, of his manner of
conducting himself among this proud and high-spirited people it may be
proper to relate. Mr. Falkland is the principal agent in my history; and
Mr. Falkland in the autumn and decay of his vigour, such as I found him,
cannot be completely understood without a knowledge of his previous
character, as it was in all the gloss of youth, yet unassailed by
adversity, and unbroken in upon by anguish or remorse.

At Rome he was received with particular distinction at the house of
marquis Pisani, who had an only daughter, the heir of his immense
fortune, and the admiration of all the young nobility of that
metropolis. Lady Lucretia Pisani was tall, of a dignified form, and
uncommonly beautiful. She was not deficient in amiable qualities, but
her soul was haughty, and her carriage not unfrequently contemptuous.
Her pride was nourished by the consciousness of her charms, by her
elevated rank, and the universal adoration she was accustomed to

Among her numerous lovers count Malvesi was the individual most favoured
by her father, nor did his addresses seem indifferent to her. The count
was a man of considerable accomplishments, and of great integrity and
benevolence of disposition. But he was too ardent a lover, to be able
always to preserve the affability of his temper. The admirers whose
addresses were a source of gratification to his mistress, were a
perpetual uneasiness to him. Placing his whole happiness in the
possession of this imperious beauty, the most trifling circumstances
were capable of alarming him for the security of his pretensions. But
most of all he was jealous of the English cavalier. Marquis Pisani, who
had spent many years in France, was by no means partial to the
suspicious precautions of Italian fathers, and indulged his daughter in
considerable freedoms. His house and his daughter, within certain
judicious restraints, were open to the resort of male visitants. But,
above all, Mr. Falkland, as a foreigner, and a person little likely to
form pretensions to the hand of Lucretia, was received upon a footing of
great familiarity. The lady herself, conscious of innocence, entertained
no scruple about trifles, and acted with the confidence and frankness of
one who is superior to suspicion.

Mr. Falkland, after a residence of several weeks at Rome, proceeded to
Naples. Meanwhile certain incidents occurred that delayed the intended
nuptials of the heiress of Pisani. When he returned to Rome Count
Malvesi was absent. Lady Lucretia, who had been considerably amused
before with the conversation of Mr. Falkland, and who had an active and
enquiring mind, had conceived, in the interval between his first and
second residence at Rome, a desire to be acquainted with the English
language, inspired by the lively and ardent encomiums of our best
authors that she had heard from their countryman. She had provided
herself with the usual materials for that purpose, and had made some
progress during his absence. But upon his return she was forward to make
use of the opportunity, which, if missed, might never occur again with
equal advantage, of reading select passages of our poets with an
Englishman of uncommon taste and capacity.

This proposal necessarily led to a more frequent intercourse. When Count
Malvesi returned, he found Mr. Falkland established almost as an inmate
of the Pisani palace. His mind could not fail to be struck with the
criticalness of the situation. He was perhaps secretly conscious that
the qualifications of the Englishman were superior to his own; and he
trembled for the progress that each party might have made in the
affection of the other, even before they were aware of the danger. He
believed that the match was in every respect such as to flatter the
ambition of Mr. Falkland; and he was stung even to madness by the idea
of being deprived of the object dearest to his heart by this tramontane

He had, however, sufficient discretion first to demand an explanation of
Lady Lucretia. She, in the gaiety of her heart, trifled with his
anxiety. His patience was already exhausted, and he proceeded in his
expostulation, in language that she was by no means prepared to endure
with apathy. Lady Lucretia had always been accustomed to deference and
submission; and, having got over something like terror, that was at
first inspired by the imperious manner in which she was now catechised,
her next feeling was that of the warmest resentment. She disdained to
satisfy so insolent a questioner, and even indulged herself in certain
oblique hints calculated to strengthen his suspicions. For some time she
described his folly and presumption in terms of the most ludicrous
sarcasm, and then, suddenly changing her style, bid him never let her
see him more except upon the footing of the most distant acquaintance,
as she was determined never again to subject herself to so unworthy a
treatment. She was happy that he had at length disclosed to her his true
character, and would know how to profit of her present experience to
avoid a repetition of the same danger. All this passed in the full
career of passion on both sides, and Lady Lucretia had no time to
reflect upon what might be the consequence of thus exasperating her

Count Malvesi left her in all the torments of frenzy. He believed that
this was a premeditated scene, to find a pretence for breaking off an
engagement that was already all but concluded; or, rather, his mind was
racked with a thousand conjectures: he alternately thought that the
injustice might be hers or his own; and he quarrelled with Lady
Lucretia, himself, and the whole world. In this temper he hastened to
the hotel of the English cavalier. The season of expostulation was now
over, and he found himself irresistibly impelled to justify his
precipitation with the lady, by taking for granted that the subject of
his suspicion was beyond the reach of doubt.

Mr. Falkland was at home. The first words of the count were an abrupt
accusation of duplicity in the affair of Lady Lucretia, and a challenge.
The Englishman had an unaffected esteem for Malvesi, who was in reality
a man of considerable merit, and who had been one of Mr. Falkland's
earliest Italian acquaintance, they having originally met at Milan. But
more than this, the possible consequence of a duel in the present
instance burst upon his mind. He had the warmest admiration for Lady
Lucretia, though his feelings were not those of a lover; and he knew
that, however her haughtiness might endeavour to disguise it, she was
impressed with a tender regard for Count Malvesi. He could not bear to
think that any misconduct of his should interrupt the prospects of so
deserving a pair. Guided by these sentiments, he endeavoured to
expostulate with the Italian. But his attempts were ineffectual. His
antagonist was drunk with choler, and would not listen to a word that
tended to check the impetuosity of his thoughts. He traversed the room
with perturbed steps, and even foamed with anguish and fury. Mr.
Falkland, finding that all was to no purpose, told the count, that, if
he would return to-morrow at the same hour, he would attend him to any
scene of action he should think proper to select.

From Count Malvesi Mr. Falkland immediately proceeded to the palace of
Pisani. Here he found considerable difficulty in appeasing the
indignation of Lady Lucretia. His ideas of honour would by no means
allow him to win her to his purpose by disclosing the cartel he had
received; otherwise that disclosure would immediately have operated as
the strongest motive that could have been offered to this disdainful
beauty. But, though she dreaded such an event, the vague apprehension
was not strong enough to induce her instantly to surrender all the
stateliness of her resentment. Mr. Falkland, however, drew so
interesting a picture of the disturbance of Count Malvesi's mind, and
accounted in so flattering a manner for the abruptness of his conduct,
that this, together with the arguments he adduced, completed the
conquest of Lady Lucretia's resentment. Having thus far accomplished his
purpose, he proceeded to disclose to her every thing that had passed.

The next day Count Malvesi appeared, punctual to his appointment, at Mr.
Falkland's hotel. Mr. Falkland came to the door to receive him, but
requested him to enter the house for a moment, as he had still an affair
of three minutes to despatch. They proceeded to a parlour. Here Mr.
Falkland left him, and presently returned leading in Lady Lucretia
herself, adorned in all her charms, and those charms heightened upon the
present occasion by a consciousness of the spirited and generous
condescension she was exerting. Mr. Falkland led her up to the
astonished count; and she, gently laying her hand upon the arm of her
lover, exclaimed with the most attractive grace, "Will you allow me to
retract the precipitate haughtiness into which I was betrayed?" The
enraptured count, scarcely able to believe his senses, threw himself
upon his knees before her, and stammered out his reply, signifying that
the precipitation had been all his own, that he only had any forgiveness
to demand, and, though they might pardon, he could never pardon himself
for the sacrilege he had committed against her and this god-like
Englishman. As soon as the first tumults of his joy had subsided, Mr.
Falkland addressed him thus:--

"Count Malvesi, I feel the utmost pleasure in having thus by peaceful
means disarmed your resentment, and effected your happiness. But I must
confess, you put me to a severe trial. My temper is not less impetuous
and fiery than your own, and it is not at all times that I should have
been thus able to subdue it. But I considered that in reality the
original blame was mine. Though your suspicion was groundless, it was
not absurd. We have been trifling too much in the face of danger. I
ought not, under the present weakness of our nature and forms of
society, to have been so assiduous in my attendance upon this enchanting
woman. It would have been little wonder, if, having so many
opportunities, and playing the preceptor with her as I have done, I had
been entangled before I was aware, and harboured a wish which I might
not afterwards have had courage to subdue. I owed you an atonement for
this imprudence.

"But the laws of honour are in the utmost degree rigid; and there was
reason to fear that, however anxious I were to be your friend, I might
be obliged to be your murderer. Fortunately, the reputation of my
courage is sufficiently established, not to expose it to any impeachment
by my declining your present defiance. It was lucky, however, that in
our interview of yesterday you found me alone, and that accident by
that means threw the management of the affair into my disposal. If the
transaction should become known, the conclusion will now become known
along with the provocation, and I am satisfied. But if the challenge had
been public, the proofs I had formerly given of courage would not have
excused my present moderation; and, though desirous to have avoided the
combat, it would not have been in my power. Let us hence each of us
learn to avoid haste and indiscretion, the consequences of which may be
inexpiable but with blood; and may Heaven bless you in a consort of whom
I deem you every way worthy!"

I have already said that this was by no means the only instance, in the
course of his travels, in which Mr. Falkland acquitted himself in the
most brilliant manner as a man of gallantry and virtue. He continued
abroad during several years, every one of which brought some fresh
accession to the estimation in which he was held, as well as to his own
impatience of stain or dishonour. At length he thought proper to return
to England, with the intention of spending the rest of his days at the
residence of his ancestors.


From the moment he entered upon the execution of this purpose, dictated
as it probably was by an unaffected principle of duty, his misfortunes
took their commencement. All I have further to state of his history is
the uninterrupted persecution of a malignant destiny, a series of
adventures that seemed to take their rise in various accidents, but
pointing to one termination. Him they overwhelmed with an anguish he
was of all others least qualified to bear; and these waters of
bitterness, extending beyond him, poured their deadly venom upon others.
I being myself the most unfortunate of their victims.

The person in whom these calamities originated was Mr. Falkland's
nearest neighbour, a man of estate equal to his own, by name Barnabas
Tyrrel. This man one might at first have supposed of all others least
qualified from instruction, or inclined by the habits of his life, to
disturb the enjoyments of a mind so richly endowed as that of Mr.
Falkland. Mr. Tyrrel might have passed for a true model of the English
squire. He was early left under the tuition of his mother, a woman of
narrow capacity, and who had no other child. The only remaining member
of the family it may be necessary to notice was Miss Emily Melville, the
orphan daughter of Mr. Tyrrel's paternal aunt; who now resided in the
family mansion, and was wholly dependent on the benevolence of its

Mrs. Tyrrel appeared to think that there was nothing in the world so
precious as her hopeful Barnabas. Every thing must give way to his
accommodation and advantage; every one must yield the most servile
obedience to his commands. He must not be teased or restricted by any
forms of instruction; and of consequence his proficiency, even in the
arts of writing and reading, was extremely slender. From his birth he
was muscular and sturdy; and, confined to the _ruelle_ of his mother, he
made much such a figure as the whelp-lion that a barbarian might have
given for a lap-dog to his mistress.

But he soon broke loose from these trammels, and formed an acquaintance
with the groom and the game-keeper. Under their instruction he proved as
ready a scholar, as he had been indocile and restive to the pedant who
held the office of his tutor. It was now evident that his small
proficiency in literature was by no means to be ascribed to want of
capacity. He discovered no contemptible sagacity and quick-wittedness in
the science of horse-flesh, and was eminently expert in the arts of
shooting, fishing, and hunting. Nor did he confine himself to these, but
added the theory and practice of boxing, cudgel play, and quarter-staff.
These exercises added ten-fold robustness and vigour to his former

His stature, when grown, was somewhat more than five feet ten inches in
height, and his form might have been selected by a painter as a model
for that hero of antiquity, whose prowess consisted in felling an ox
with his fist, and devouring him at a meal. Conscious of his advantage
in this respect, he was insupportably arrogant, tyrannical to his
inferiors, and insolent to his equals. The activity of his mind being
diverted from the genuine field of utility and distinction, showed
itself in the rude tricks of an overgrown lubber. Here, as in all his
other qualifications, he rose above his competitors; and if it had been
possible to overlook the callous and unrelenting disposition which they
manifested, one could scarcely have denied his applause to the invention
these freaks displayed, and the rough, sarcastic wit with which they
were accompanied.

Mr. Tyrrel was by no means inclined to permit these extraordinary merits
to rust in oblivion. There was a weekly assembly at the nearest
market-town, the resort of all the rural gentry. Here he had hitherto
figured to the greatest advantage as grand master of the _coterie_, no
one having an equal share of opulence, and the majority, though still
pretending to the rank of gentry, greatly his inferior in this essential
article. The young men in this circle looked up to this insolent bashaw
with timid respect, conscious of the comparative eminence that
unquestionably belonged to the powers of his mind; and he well knew how
to maintain his rank with an inflexible hand. Frequently indeed he
relaxed his features, and assumed a temporary appearance of affableness
and familiarity; but they found by experience, that if any one,
encouraged by his condescension, forgot the deference which Mr. Tyrrel
considered as his due, he was soon taught to repent his presumption. It
was a tiger that thought proper to toy with a mouse, the little animal
every moment in danger of being crushed by the fangs of his ferocious
associate. As Mr. Tyrrel had considerable copiousness of speech, and a
rich, but undisciplined imagination, he was always sure of an audience.
His neighbours crowded round, and joined in the ready laugh, partly from
obsequiousness, and partly from unfeigned admiration. It frequently
happened, however; that, in the midst of his good humour, a
characteristic refinement of tyranny would suggest itself to his mind.
When his subjects, encouraged by his familiarity, had discarded their
precaution, the wayward fit would seize him, a sudden cloud overspread
his brow, his voice transform from the pleasant to the terrible, and a
quarrel of a straw immediately ensue with the first man whose face he
did not like. The pleasure that resulted to others from the exuberant
sallies of his imagination was, therefore, not unalloyed with sudden
qualms of apprehension and terror. It may be believed that this
despotism did not gain its final ascendancy without being contested in
the outset. But all opposition was quelled with a high hand by this
rural Antaeus. By the ascendancy of his fortune, and his character among
his neighbours, he always reduced his adversary to the necessity of
encountering him at his own weapons, and did not dismiss him without
making him feel his presumption through every joint in his frame. The
tyranny of Mr. Tyrrel would not have been so patiently endured, had not
his colloquial accomplishments perpetually come in aid of that authority
which his rank and prowess originally obtained.

The situation of our squire with the fair was still more enviable than
that which he maintained among persons of his own sex. Every mother
taught her daughter to consider the hand of Mr. Tyrrel as the highest
object of her ambition. Every daughter regarded his athletic form and
his acknowledged prowess with a favourable eye. A form eminently
athletic is, perhaps, always well proportioned; and one of the
qualifications that women are early taught to look for in the male sex,
is that of a protector. As no man was adventurous enough to contest his
superiority, so scarcely any woman in this provincial circle would have
scrupled to prefer his addresses to those of any other admirer. His
boisterous wit had peculiar charms for them; and there was no spectacle
more flattering to their vanity, than seeing this Hercules exchange his
club for a distaff. It was pleasing to them to consider, that the fangs
of this wild beast, the very idea of which inspired trepidation into the
boldest hearts, might be played with by them with the utmost security.

Such was the rival that Fortune, in her caprice, had reserved for the
accomplished Falkland. This untamed, though not undiscerning brute, was
found capable of destroying the prospects of a man the most eminently
qualified to enjoy and to communicate happiness. The feud that sprung up
between them was nourished by concurring circumstances, till it attained
a magnitude difficult to be paralleled; and, because they regarded each
other with a deadly hatred, I have become an object of misery and

The arrival of Mr. Falkland gave an alarming shock to the authority of
Mr. Tyrrel in the village assembly and in all scenes of indiscriminate
resort. His disposition by no means inclined him to withhold himself
from scenes of fashionable amusement; and he and his competitor were
like two stars fated never to appear at once above the horizon. The
advantages Mr. Falkland possessed in the comparison are palpable; and
had it been otherwise, the subjects of his rural neighbour were
sufficiently disposed to revolt against his merciless dominion. They had
hitherto submitted from fear, and not from love; and, if they had not
rebelled, it was only for want of a leader. Even the ladies regarded Mr.
Falkland with particular complacence. His polished manners were
peculiarly in harmony with feminine delicacy. The sallies of his wit
were far beyond those of Mr. Tyrrel in variety and vigour; in addition
to which they had the advantage of having their spontaneous exuberance
guided and restrained by the sagacity of a cultivated mind. The graces
of his person were enhanced by the elegance of his deportment; and the
benevolence and liberality of his temper were upon all occasions
conspicuous. It was common indeed to Mr. Tyrrel, together with Mr.
Falkland, to be little accessible to sentiments of awkwardness and
confusion. But for this Mr. Tyrrel was indebted to a self-satisfied
effrontery, and a boisterous and over-bearing elocution, by which he was
accustomed to discomfit his assailants; while Mr. Falkland, with great
ingenuity and candour of mind, was enabled by his extensive knowledge of
the world, and acquaintance with his own resources, to perceive almost
instantaneously the proceeding it most became him to adopt.

Mr. Tyrrel contemplated the progress of his rival with uneasiness and
aversion. He often commented upon it to his particular confidents as a
thing altogether inconceivable. Mr. Falkland he described as an animal
that was beneath contempt. Diminutive and dwarfish in his form, he
wanted to set up a new standard of human nature, adapted to his
miserable condition. He wished to persuade people that the human species
were made to be nailed to a chair, and to pore over books. He would have
them exchange those robust exercises which make us joyous in the
performance, and vigorous in the consequences, for the wise labour of
scratching our heads for a rhyme and counting our fingers for a verse.
Monkeys were as good men as these. A nation of such animals would have
no chance with a single regiment of the old English votaries of beef and
pudding. He never saw any thing come of learning but to make people
foppish and impertinent; and a sensible man would not wish a worse
calamity to the enemies of his nation, than to see them run mad after
such pernicious absurdities. It was impossible that people could
seriously feel any liking for such a ridiculous piece of goods as this
outlandish foreign-made Englishman. But he knew very well how it was: it
was a miserable piece of mummery that was played only in spite of him.
But God for ever blast his soul, if he were not bitterly revenged upon
them all!

If such were the sentiments of Mr. Tyrrel, his patience found ample
exercise in the language which was held by the rest of his neighbours on
the same subject. While he saw nothing in Mr. Falkland but matter of
contempt, they appeared to be never weary of recounting his praises.
Such dignity, such affability, so perpetual an attention to the
happiness of others, such delicacy of sentiment and expression! Learned
without ostentation, refined without foppery, elegant without
effeminacy! Perpetually anxious to prevent his superiority from being
painfully felt, it was so much the more certainly felt to be real, and
excited congratulation instead of envy in the spectator. It is scarcely
necessary to remark, that the revolution of sentiment in this rural
vicinity belongs to one of the most obvious features of the human mind.
The rudest exhibition of art is at first admired, till a nobler is
presented, and we are taught to wonder at the facility with which before
we had been satisfied. Mr. Tyrrel thought there would be no end to the
commendation; and expected when their common acquaintance would fall
down and adore the intruder. The most inadvertent expression of applause
inflicted upon him the torment of demons. He writhed with agony, his
features became distorted, and his looks inspired terror. Such suffering
would probably have soured the kindest temper; what must have been its
effect upon Mr. Tyrrel's, always fierce, unrelenting, and abrupt?

The advantages of Mr. Falkland seemed by no means to diminish with their
novelty. Every new sufferer from Mr. Tyrrel's tyranny immediately went
over to the standard of his adversary. The ladies, though treated by
their rustic swain with more gentleness than the men, were occasionally
exposed to his capriciousness and insolence. They could not help
remarking the contrast between these two leaders in the fields of
chivalry, the one of whom paid no attention to any one's pleasure but
his own, while the other seemed all good-humour and benevolence. It was
in vain that Mr. Tyrrel endeavoured to restrain the ruggedness of his
character. His motive was impatience, his thoughts were gloomy, and his
courtship was like the pawings of an elephant. It appeared as if his
temper had been more human while he indulged in its free bent, than now
that he sullenly endeavoured to put fetters upon its excesses.

Among the ladies of the village-assembly already mentioned, there was
none that seemed to engage more of the kindness of Mr. Tyrrel than Miss
Hardingham. She was also one of the few that had not yet gone over to
the enemy, either because she really preferred the gentleman who was her
oldest acquaintance, or that she conceived from calculation this conduct
best adapted to insure her success in a husband. One day, however, she
thought proper, probably only by way of experiment, to show Mr. Tyrrel
that she could engage in hostilities, if he should at any time give her
sufficient provocation. She so adjusted her manoeuvres as to be engaged
by Mr. Falkland as his partner for the dance of the evening, though
without the smallest intention on the part of that gentleman (who was
unpardonably deficient in the sciences of anecdote and match-making) of
giving offence to his country neighbour. Though the manners of Mr.
Falkland were condescending and attentive, his hours of retirement were
principally occupied in contemplations too dignified for scandal, and
too large for the altercations of a vestry, or the politics of an

A short time before the dances began, Mr. Tyrrel went up to his fair
inamorata, and entered into some trifling conversation with her to fill
up the time, as intending in a few minutes to lead her forward to the
field. He had accustomed himself to neglect the ceremony of soliciting
beforehand a promise in his favour, as not supposing it possible that
any one would dare dispute his behests; and, had it been otherwise, he
would have thought the formality unnecessary in this case, his general
preference to Miss Hardingham being notorious.

While he was thus engaged, Mr. Falkland came up. Mr. Tyrrel always
regarded him with aversion and loathing. Mr. Falkland, however, slided
in a graceful and unaffected manner into the conversation already begun;
and the animated ingenuousness of his manner was such, as might for the
time have disarmed the devil of his malice. Mr. Tyrrel probably
conceived that his accosting Miss Hardingham was an accidental piece of
general ceremony, and expected every moment when he would withdraw to
another part of the room.

The company now began to be in motion for the dance, and Mr. Falkland
signified as much to Miss Hardingham. "Sir," interrupted Mr. Tyrrel
abruptly, "that lady is my partner."--"I believe not, sir: that lady has
been so obliging as to accept my invitation."--"I tell you, sir, no.
Sir, I have an interest in that lady's affections; and I will suffer no
man to intrude upon my claims."--"The lady's affections are not the
subject of the present question."--"Sir, it is to no purpose to parley.
Make room, sir!"--Mr. Falkland gently repelled his antagonist. "Mr.
Tyrrel!" returned he, with some firmness, "let us have no altercation in
this business: the master of the ceremonies is the proper person to
decide in a difference of this sort, if we cannot adjust it: we can
neither of us intend to exhibit our valour before the ladies, and shall
therefore cheerfully submit to his verdict."--"Damn me, sir, if I
understand--" "Softly, Mr. Tyrrel; I intended you no offence. But, sir,
no man shall prevent my asserting that to which I have once acquired a

Mr. Falkland uttered these words with the most unruffled temper in the
world. The tone in which he spoke had acquired elevation, but neither
roughness nor impatience. There was a fascination in his manner that
made the ferociousness of his antagonist subside into impotence. Miss
Hardingham had begun to repent of her experiment, but her alarm was
speedily quieted by the dignified composure of her new partner. Mr.
Tyrrel walked away without answering a word. He muttered curses as he
went, which the laws of honour did not oblige Mr. Falkland to overhear,
and which indeed it would have been no easy task to have overheard with
accuracy. Mr. Tyrrel would not, perhaps, have so easily given up his
point, had not his own good sense presently taught him, that, however
eager he might be for revenge, this was not the ground he should desire
to occupy. But, though he could not openly resent this rebellion against
his authority, he brooded over it in the recesses of a malignant mind;
and it was evident enough that he was accumulating materials for a
bitter account, to which he trusted his adversary should one day be


This was only one out of innumerable instances, that every day seemed to
multiply, of petty mortifications which Mr. Tyrrel was destined to
endure on the part of Mr. Falkland. In all of them Mr. Falkland
conducted himself with such unaffected propriety, as perpetually to add
to the stock of his reputation. The more Mr. Tyrrel struggled with his
misfortune, the more conspicuous and inveterate it became. A thousand
times he cursed his stars, which took, as he apprehended, a malicious
pleasure in making Mr. Falkland, at every turn, the instrument of his
humiliation. Smarting under a succession of untoward events, he
appeared to feel, in the most exquisite manner, the distinctions paid to
his adversary, even in those points in which he had not the slightest
pretensions. An instance of this now occurred.

Mr. Clare, a poet whose works have done immortal honour to the country
that produced him, had lately retired, after a life spent in the
sublimest efforts of genius, to enjoy the produce of his economy, and
the reputation he had acquired, in this very neighbourhood. Such an
inmate was looked up to by the country gentlemen with a degree of
adoration. They felt a conscious pride in recollecting that the boast of
England was a native of their vicinity; and they were by no means
deficient in gratitude when they saw him, who had left them an
adventurer, return into the midst of them, in the close of his days,
crowned with honours and opulence. The reader is acquainted with his
works: he has, probably, dwelt upon them with transport; and I need not
remind him of their excellence: but he is, perhaps, a stranger to his
personal qualifications; he does not know that his productions were
scarcely more admirable than his conversation. In company he seemed to
be the only person ignorant of the greatness of his fame. To the world
his writings will long remain a kind of specimen of what the human mind
is capable of performing; but no man perceived their defects so acutely
as he, or saw so distinctly how much yet remained to be effected: he
alone appeared to look upon his works with superiority and indifference.
One of the features that most eminently distinguished him was a
perpetual suavity of manners, a comprehensiveness of mind, that regarded
the errors of others without a particle of resentment, and made it
impossible for any one to be his enemy. He pointed out to men their
mistakes with frankness and unreserve, his remonstrances produced
astonishment and conviction, but without uneasiness, in the party to
whom they were addressed: they felt the instrument that was employed to
correct their irregularities, but it never mangled what it was intended
to heal. Such were the moral qualities that distinguished him among his
acquaintance. The intellectual accomplishments he exhibited were,
principally, a tranquil and mild enthusiasm, and a richness of
conception which dictated spontaneously to his tongue, and flowed with
so much ease, that it was only by retrospect you could be made aware of
the amazing variety of ideas that had been presented.

Mr. Clare certainly found few men in this remote situation that were
capable of participating in his ideas and amusements. It has been among
the weaknesses of great men to fly to solitude, and converse with woods
and groves, rather than with a circle of strong and comprehensive minds
like their own. From the moment of Mr. Falkland's arrival in the
neighbourhood, Mr. Clare distinguished him in the most flattering
manner. To so penetrating a genius there was no need of long experience
and patient observation to discover the merits and defects of any
character that presented itself. The materials of his judgment had long
since been accumulated; and, at the close of so illustrious a life, he
might almost be said to see through nature at a glance. What wonder that
he took some interest in a mind in a certain degree congenial with his
own? But to Mr. Tyrrel's diseased imagination, every distinction
bestowed on his neighbour seemed to be expressly intended as an insult
to him. On the other hand, Mr. Clare, though gentle and benevolent in
his remonstrances to a degree that made the taking offence impossible,
was by no means parsimonious of praise, or slow to make use of the
deference that was paid him, for the purpose of procuring justice to

It happened at one of those public meetings at which Mr. Falkland and
Mr. Tyrrel were present, that the conversation, in one of the most
numerous sets into which the company was broken, turned upon the
poetical talents of the former. A lady, who was present, and was
distinguished for the acuteness of her understanding, said, she had been
favoured with a sight of a poem he had just written, entitled _An Ode to
the Genius of Chivalry_, which appeared to her of exquisite merit. The
curiosity of the company was immediately excited, and the lady added,
she had a copy in her pocket, which was much at their service, provided
its being thus produced would not be disagreeable to the author. The
whole circle immediately entreated Mr. Falkland to comply with their
wishes, and Mr. Clare, who was one of the company, enforced their
petition. Nothing gave this gentleman so much pleasure as to have an
opportunity of witnessing and doing justice to the exhibition of
intellectual excellence. Mr. Falkland had no false modesty or
affectation, and therefore readily yielded his consent.

Mr. Tyrrel accidentally sat at the extremity of this circle. It cannot
be supposed that the turn the conversation had taken was by any means
agreeable to him. He appeared to wish to withdraw himself, but there
seemed to be some unknown power that, as it were by enchantment,
retained him in his place, and made him consent to drink to the dregs
the bitter potion which envy had prepared for him.

The poem was read to the rest of the company by Mr. Clare, whose
elocution was scarcely inferior to his other accomplishments.
Simplicity, discrimination, and energy constantly attended him in the
act of reading, and it is not easy to conceive a more refined delight
than fell to the lot of those who had the good fortune to be his
auditors. The beauties of Mr. Falkland's poem were accordingly exhibited
with every advantage. The successive passions of the author were
communicated to the hearer. What was impetuous, and what was solemn,
were delivered with a responsive feeling, and a flowing and unlaboured
tone. The pictures conjured up by the creative fancy of the poet were
placed full to view, at one time overwhelming the soul with
superstitious awe, and at another transporting it with luxuriant beauty.

The character of the hearers upon this occasion has already been
described. They were, for the most part, plain, unlettered, and of
little refinement. Poetry in general they read, when read at all, from
the mere force of imitation, and with few sensations of pleasure; but
this poem had a peculiar vein of glowing inspiration. This very poem
would probably have been seen by many of them with little effect; but
the accents of Mr. Clare carried it home to the heart. He ended: and, as
the countenances of his auditors had before sympathised with the
passions of the composition, so now they emulated each other in
declaring their approbation. Their sensations were of a sort to which
they were little accustomed. One spoke, and another followed by a sort
of uncontrollable impulse; and the rude and broken manner of their
commendations rendered them the more singular and remarkable. But what
was least to be endured was the behaviour of Mr. Clare. He returned the
manuscript to the lady from whom he had received it, and then,
addressing Mr. Falkland, said with emphasis and animation, "Ha! this is
as it should be. It is of the right stamp. I have seen too many hard
essays strained from the labour of a pedant, and pastoral ditties
distressed in lack of a meaning. They are such as you sir, that we want.
Do not forget, however, that the Muse was not given to add refinements
to idleness, but for the highest and most invaluable purposes. Act up to
the magnitude of your destiny."

A moment after, Mr. Clare quitted his seat, and with Mr. Falkland and
two or three more withdrew. As soon as they were gone, Mr. Tyrrel edged
further into the circle. He had sat silent so long that he seemed ready
to burst with gall and indignation. "Mighty pretty verses!" said he,
half talking to himself, and not addressing any particular person: "why,
ay, the verses are well enough. Damnation! I should like to know what a
ship-load of such stuff is good for."

"Why, surely," said the lady who had introduced Mr. Falkland's Ode on
the present occasion, "you must allow that poetry is an agreeable and
elegant amusement."

"Elegant, quotha!--Why, look at this Falkland! A puny bit of a thing! In
the devil's name, madam, do you think he would write poetry if he could
do any thing better?"

The conversation did not stop here. The lady expostulated. Several other
persons, fresh from the sensation they had felt, contributed their
share. Mr. Tyrrel grew more violent in his invectives, and found ease in
uttering them. The persons who were able in any degree to check his
vehemence were withdrawn. One speaker after another shrunk back into
silence, too timid to oppose, or too indolent to contend with, the
fierceness of his passion. He found the appearance of his old
ascendancy; but he felt its deceitfulness and uncertainty, and was
gloomily dissatisfied.

In his return from this assembly he was accompanied by a young man,
whom similitude of manners had rendered one of his principal confidents,
and whose road home was in part the same as his own. One might have
thought that Mr. Tyrrel had sufficiently vented his spleen in the
dialogue he had just been holding. But he was unable to dismiss from his
recollection the anguish he had endured. "Damn Falkland!" said he. "What
a pitiful scoundrel is here to make all this bustle about! But women and
fools always will be fools; there is no help for that! Those that set
them on have most to answer for; and most of all, Mr. Clare. He is a man
that ought to know something of the world, and past being duped by
gewgaws and tinsel. He seemed, too, to have some notion of things: I
should not have suspected him of hallooing to a cry of mongrels without
honesty or reason. But the world is all alike. Those that seem better
than their neighbours, are only more artful. They mean the same thing,
though they take a different road. He deceived me for a while, but it is
all out now. They are the makers of the mischief. Fools might blunder,
but they would not persist, if people that ought to set them right did
not encourage them to go wrong."

A few days after this adventure Mr. Tyrrel was surprised to receive a
visit from Mr. Falkland. Mr. Falkland proceeded, without ceremony, to
explain the motive of his coming.

"Mr. Tyrrel," said he, "I am come to have an amicable explanation with

"Explanation! What is my offence?"

"None in the world, sir; and for that reason I conceive this the fittest
time to come to a right understanding."

"You are in a devil of a hurry, sir. Are you clear that this haste will
not mar, instead of make an understanding?"

"I think I am, sir. I have great faith in the purity of my intentions,
and I will not doubt, when you perceive the view with which I come, that
you will willingly co-operate with it."

"Mayhap, Mr. Falkland, we may not agree about that. One man thinks one
way, and another man thinks another. Mayhap I do not think I have any
great reason to be pleased with you already."

"It may be so. I cannot, however, charge myself with having given you
reason to be displeased."

"Well, sir, you have no right to put me out of humour with myself. If
you come to play upon me, and try what sort of a fellow you shall have
to deal with, damn me if you shall have any reason to hug yourself upon
the experiment."

"Nothing, sir, is more easy for us than to quarrel. If you desire that,
there is no fear that you will find opportunities."

"Damn me, sir, if I do not believe you are come to bully me."

"Mr. Tyrrel! sir--have a care!"

"Of what, sir!--Do you threaten me? Damn my soul! who are you? what do
you come here for?"

The fieriness of Mr. Tyrrel brought Mr. Falkland to his recollection.

"I am wrong," said he. "I confess it. I came for purposes of peace. With
that view I have taken the liberty to visit you. Whatever therefore
might be my feelings upon another occasion, I am bound to suppress them

"Ho!--Well, sir: and what have you further to offer?"

"Mr. Tyrrel," proceeded Mr. Falkland, "you will readily imagine that
the cause that brought me was not a slight one. I would not have
troubled you with visit, but for important reasons. My coming is a
pledge how deeply I am myself impressed with what I have to communicate.

"We are in a critical situation. We are upon the brink of a whirlpool
which, if once it get hold of us, will render all further deliberation
impotent. An unfortunate jealousy seems to have insinuated itself
between us, which I would willingly remove; and I come to ask your
assistance. We are both of us nice of temper; we are both apt to kindle,
and warm of resentment. Precaution in this stage can be dishonourable to
neither; the time may come when we shall wish we had employed it, and
find it too late. Why should we be enemies? Our tastes are different;
our pursuits need not interfere. We both of us amply possess the means
of happiness; We may be respected by all, and spend a long life of
tranquillity and enjoyment. Will it be wise in us to exchange this
prospect for the fruits of strife? A strife between persons with our
peculiarities and our weaknesses, includes consequences that I shudder
to think of. I fear, sir, that it is pregnant with death at least to one
of us, and with misfortune and remorse to the survivor."

"Upon my soul, you are a strange man! Why trouble me with your
prophecies and forebodings?"

"Because it is necessary to your happiness I Because it becomes me to
tell you of our danger now, rather than wait till my character will
allow this tranquillity no longer!

"By quarrelling we shall but imitate the great mass of mankind, who
could easily quarrel in our place. Let us do better. Let us show that we
have the magnanimity to contemn petty misunderstandings. By thus
judging we shall do ourselves most substantial honour. By a contrary
conduct we shall merely present a comedy for the amusement of our

"Do you think so? there may be something in that. Damn me, if I consent
to be the jest of any man living."

"You are right, Mr. Tyrrel. Let us each act in the manner best
calculated to excite respect. We neither of us wish to change roads; let
us each suffer the other to pursue his own track unmolested. Be this our
compact; and by mutual forbearance let us preserve mutual peace."

Saying this, Mr. Falkland offered his hand to Mr. Tyrrel in token of
fellowship. But the gesture was too significant. The wayward rustic, who
seemed to have been somewhat impressed by what had preceded, taken as he
now was by surprise, shrunk back. Mr. Falkland was again ready to take
fire upon this new slight, but he checked himself.

"All this is very unaccountable," cried Mr. Tyrrel. "What the devil can
have made you so forward, if you had not some sly purpose to answer, by
which I am to be overreached?"

"My purpose," replied Mr. Falkland, "is a manly and an honest purpose.
Why should you refuse a proposition dictated by reason, and an equal
regard to the interest of each?"

Mr. Tyrrel had had an opportunity for pause, and fell back into his
habitual character.

"Well, sir, in all this I must own there is some frankness. Now I will
return you like for like. It is no matter how I came by it, my temper is
rough, and will not be controlled. Mayhap you may think it is a
weakness, but I do not desire to see it altered. Till you came, I found
myself very well: I liked my neighbours, and my neighbours humoured me.
But now the case is entirely altered; and, as long as I cannot stir
abroad without meeting with some mortification in which you are directly
or remotely concerned, I am determined to hate you. Now, sir, if you
will only go out of the county or the kingdom, to the devil if you
please, so as I may never hear of you any more, I will promise never to
quarrel with you as long as I live. Your rhymes and your rebusses, your
quirks and your conundrums, may then be every thing that is grand for
what I care."

"Mr. Tyrrel, be reasonable! Might not I as well desire you to leave the
county, as you desire me? I come to you, not as to a master, but an
equal. In the society of men we must have something to endure, as well
as to enjoy. No man must think that the world was made for him. Let us
take things as we find them; and accommodate ourselves as we can to
unavoidable circumstances."

"True, sir; all this is fine talking. But I return to my text: we are as
God made us. I am neither a philosopher nor a poet, to set out upon a
wild-goose chase of making myself a different man from what you find me.
As for consequences, what must be must be. As we brew we must bake. And
so, do you see? I shall not trouble myself about what is to be, but
stand up to it with a stout heart when it comes. Only this I can tell
you, that as long as I find you thrust into my dish every day I shall
hate you as bad as senna and valerian. And damn me, if I do not think I
hate you the more for coming to-day in this pragmatical way, when nobody
sent for you, on purpose to show how much wiser you are than all the
world besides."

"Mr. Tyrrel, I have done. I foresaw consequences, and came as a friend.
I had hoped that, by mutual explanation, we should have come to a better
understanding. I am disappointed; but, perhaps, when you coolly reflect
on what has passed, you will give me credit for my intentions, and think
that my proposal was not an unreasonable one."

Having said this, Mr. Falkland departed. Through the interview he, no
doubt, conducted himself in a way that did him peculiar credit. Yet the
warmth of his temper could not be entirely suppressed: and even when he
was most exemplary, there was an apparent loftiness in his manner that
was calculated to irritate; and the very grandeur with which he
suppressed his passions, operated indirectly as a taunt to his opponent.
The interview was prompted by the noblest sentiments; but it
unquestionably served to widen the breach it was intended to heal.

For Mr. Tyrrel, he had recourse to his old expedient, and unburthened
the tumult of his thoughts to his confidential friend. "This," cried he,
"is a new artifice of the fellow, to prove his imagined superiority. We
knew well enough that he had the gift of the gab. To be sure, if the
world were to be governed by words, he would be in the right box. Oh,
yes, he had it all hollow! But what signifies prating? Business must be
done in another guess way than that. I wonder what possessed me that I
did not kick him I But that is all to come. This is only a new debt
added to the score, which he shall one day richly pay. This Falkland
haunts me like a demon. I cannot wake but I think of him. I cannot sleep
but I see him. He poisons all my pleasures. I should be glad to see him
torn with tenter-hooks, and to grind his heart-strings with my teeth. I
shall know no joy till I see him ruined. There may be some things right
about him; but he is my perpetual torment. The thought of him hangs
like a dead weight upon my heart, and I have a right to shake it off.
Does he think I will feel all that I endure for nothing?"

In spite of the acerbity of Mr. Tyrrel's feelings, it is probable,
however, he did some justice to his rival. He regarded him, indeed, with
added dislike; but he no longer regarded him as a despicable foe. He
avoided his encounter; he forbore to treat him with random hostility; he
seemed to lie in wait for his victim, and to collect his venom for a
mortal assault.


It was not long after that a malignant distemper broke out in the
neighbourhood, which proved fatal to many of the inhabitants, and was of
unexampled rapidity in its effects. One of the first persons that was
seized with it was Mr. Clare. It may be conceived, what grief and alarm
this incident spread through the vicinity. Mr. Clare was considered by
them as something more than mortal. The equanimity of his behaviour, his
unassuming carriage, his exuberant benevolence and goodness of heart,
joined with his talents, his inoffensive wit, and the comprehensiveness
of his intelligence, made him the idol of all that knew him. In the
scene of his rural retreat, at least, he had no enemy. All mourned the
danger that now threatened him. He appeared to have had the prospect of
long life, and of going down to his grave full of years and of honour.
Perhaps these appearances were deceitful. Perhaps the intellectual
efforts he had made, which were occasionally more sudden, violent, and
unintermitted, than a strict regard to health would have dictated, had
laid the seed of future disease. But a sanguine observer would
infallibly have predicted, that his temperate habits, activity of mind,
and unabated cheerfulness, would be able even to keep death at bay for a
time, and baffle the attacks of distemper, provided their approach were
not uncommonly rapid and violent. The general affliction, therefore, was
doubly pungent upon the present occasion.

But no one was so much affected as Mr. Falkland. Perhaps no man so well
understood the value of the life that was now at stake. He immediately
hastened to the spot; but he found some difficulty in gaining admission.
Mr. Clare, aware of the infectious nature of his disease, had given
directions that as few persons as possible should approach him. Mr.
Falkland sent up his name. He was told that he was included in the
general orders. He was not, however, of a temper to be easily repulsed;
he persisted with obstinacy, and at length carried his point, being only
reminded in the first instance to employ those precautions which
experience has proved most effectual for counteracting infection.

He found Mr. Clare in his bed-chamber, but not in bed. He was sitting in
his night-gown at a bureau near the window. His appearance was composed
and cheerful, but death was in his countenance. "I had a great
inclination, Falkland," said he, "not to have suffered you to come in;
and yet there is not a person in the world it could give me more
pleasure to see. But, upon second thoughts, I believe there are few
people that could run into a danger of this kind with a better prospect
of escaping. In your case, at least, the garrison will not, I trust, be
taken through the treachery of the commander. I cannot tell how it is
that I, who can preach wisdom to you, have myself been caught. But do
not be discouraged by my example. I had no notice of my danger, or I
would have acquitted myself better."

Mr. Falkland having once established himself in the apartment of his
friend, would upon no terms consent to retire. Mr. Clare considered that
there was perhaps less danger in this choice, than in the frequent
change from the extremes of a pure to a tainted air, and desisted from
expostulation. "Falkland," said he, "when you came in, I had just
finished making my will. I was not pleased with what I had formerly
drawn up upon that subject, and I did not choose in my present situation
to call in an attorney. In fact, it would be strange if a man of sense,
with pure and direct intentions, should not be able to perform such a
function for himself."

Mr. Clare continued to act in the same easy and disengaged manner as in
perfect health. To judge from the cheerfulness of his tone and the
firmness of his manner, the thought would never once have occurred that
he was dying. He walked, he reasoned, he jested, in a way that argued
the most perfect self-possession. But his appearance changed perceptibly
for the worse every quarter of an hour. Mr. Falkland kept his eye
perpetually fixed upon him, with mingled sentiments of anxiety and

"Falkland," said he, after having appeared for a short period absorbed
in thought, "I feel that I am dying. This is a strange distemper of
mine. Yesterday I seemed in perfect health, and to-morrow I shall be an
insensible corpse. How curious is the line that separates life and death
to mortal men! To be at one moment active, gay, penetrating, with stores
of knowledge at one's command, capable of delighting, instructing, and
animating mankind, and the next, lifeless and loathsome, an incumbrance
upon the face of the earth! Such is the history of many men, and such
will be mine.

"I feel as if I had yet much to do in the world; but it will not be. I
must be contented with what is past. It is in vain that I muster all my
spirits to my heart. The enemy is too mighty and too merciless for me;
he will not give me time so much as to breathe. These things are not yet
at least in our power: they are parts of a great series that is
perpetually flowing. The general welfare, the great business of the
universe, will go on, though I bear no further share in promoting it.
That task is reserved for younger strengths, for you, Falkland, and such
as you. We should be contemptible indeed if the prospect of human
improvement did not yield us a pure and perfect delight, independently
of the question of our existing to partake of it. Mankind would have
little to envy to future ages, if they had all enjoyed a serenity as
perfect as mine has been for the latter half of my existence."

Mr. Clare sat up through the whole day, indulging himself in easy and
cheerful exertions, which were perhaps better calculated to refresh and
invigorate the frame, than if he had sought repose in its direct form.
Now and then he was visited with a sudden pang; but it was no sooner
felt, than he seemed to rise above it, and smiled at the impotence of
these attacks. They might destroy him, but they could not disturb. Three
or four times he was bedewed with profuse sweats; and these again were
succeeded by an extreme dryness and burning heat of the skin. He was
next covered with small livid spots: symptoms of shivering followed, but
these he drove away with a determined resolution. He then became
tranquil and composed, and, after some time, decided to go to bed, it
being already night. "Falkland," said he, pressing his hand, "the task
of dying is not so difficult as some imagine. When one looks back from
the brink of it, one wonders that so total a subversion can take place
at so easy a price."

He had now been some time in bed, and, as every thing was still, Mr.
Falkland hoped that he slept; but in that he was mistaken. Presently Mr.
Clare threw back the curtain, and looked in the countenance of his
friend. "I cannot sleep," said he. "No, if I could sleep, it would be
the same thing as to recover; and I am destined to have the worst in
this battle.

"Falkland, I have been thinking about you. I do not know any one whose
future usefulness I contemplate with greater hope. Take care of
yourself. Do not let the world be defrauded of your virtues. I am
acquainted with your weakness as well as your strength. You have an
impetuosity, and an impatience of imagined dishonour, that, if once set
wrong, may make you as eminently mischievous as you will otherwise be
useful. Think seriously of exterminating this error!

"But if I cannot, in the brief expostulation my present situation will
allow, produce this desirable change in you, there is at least one thing
I can do. I can put you upon your guard against a mischief I foresee to
be imminent. Beware of Mr. Tyrrel. Do not commit the mistake of
despising him as an unequal opponent. Petty causes may produce great
mischiefs. Mr. Tyrrel is boisterous, rugged, and unfeeling; and you are
too passionate, too acutely sensible of injury. It would be truly to be
lamented, if a man so inferior, so utterly unworthy to be compared with
you, should be capable of changing your whole history into misery and
guilt. I have a painful presentiment upon my heart, as if something
dreadful would reach you from that quarter. Think of this. I exact no
promise from you. I would not shackle you with the fetters of
superstition; I would have you governed by justice and reason."

Mr. Falkland was deeply affected with this expostulation. His sense of
the generous attention of Mr. Clare at such a moment, was so great as
almost to deprive him of utterance. He spoke in short sentences, and
with visible effort. "I will behave better," replied he. "Never fear me!
Your admonitions shall not be thrown away upon me."

Mr. Clare adverted to another subject. "I have made you my executor; you
will not refuse me this last office of friendship. It is but a short
time that I have had the happiness of knowing you; but in that short
time I have examined you well, and seen you thoroughly. Do not
disappoint the sanguine hope I have entertained!

"I have left some legacies. My former connections, while I lived amidst
the busy haunts of men, as many of them as were intimate, are all of
them dear to me. I have not had time to summon them about me upon the
present occasion, nor did I desire it. The remembrances of me will, I
hope, answer a better purpose than such as are usually thought of on
similar occasions."

Mr. Clare, having thus unburthened his mind, spoke no more for several
hours. Towards morning Mr. Falkland quietly withdrew the curtain, and
looked at the dying man. His eyes were open, and were now gently turned
towards his young friend. His countenance was sunk, and of a death-like
appearance. "I hope you are better," said Falkland in a half whisper, as
if afraid of disturbing him. Mr. Clare drew his hand from the
bed-clothes, and stretched it forward; Mr. Falkland advanced, and took
hold of it. "Much better," said Mr. Clare, in a voice inward and hardly
articulate; "the struggle is now over; I have finished my part;
farewell! remember!" These were his last words. He lived still a few
hours; his lips were sometimes seen to move; he expired without a groan.

Mr. Falkland had witnessed the scene with much anxiety. His hopes of a
favourable crisis, and his fear of disturbing the last moments of his

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