Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Caleb Williams by William Godwin

Part 3 out of 7

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

well. We will do her no harm except so far as we must perform our
office, be it how it will."

"Where would you take her? What is it you mean to do?"

"To the county jail. Bullock, go, order a post-chaise from the Griffin!"

"Stay, I say! Give no such orders! Wait only three hours; I will send
off a messenger express to squire Falkland, and I am sure he will
satisfy you as to any harm that can come to you, without its being
necessary to take the poor child to jail."

"We have particular directions against that. We are not at liberty to
lose a minute. Why are not you gone? Order the horses to be put to

Emily had listened to the course of this conversation, which had
sufficiently explained to her whatever was enigmatical in the first
appearance of the bailiffs. The painful and incredible reality that was
thus presented effectually dissipated the illusions of frenzy to which
she had just been a prey. "My dear Madam," said she to Mrs. Hammond, "do
not harass yourself with useless efforts. I am very sorry for all the
trouble I have given you. But my misfortune is inevitable. Sir, if you
will step into the next room, I will dress myself, and attend you

Mrs. Hammond began to be equally aware that her struggles were to no
purpose; but she could not be equally patient. At one moment she raved
upon the brutality of Mr. Tyrrel, whom she affirmed to be a devil
incarnate, and not a man. At another she expostulated, with bitter
invective, against the hardheartedness of the bailiff, and exhorted him
to mix some humanity and moderation with the discharge of his function;
but he was impenetrable to all she could urge. In the mean while Emily
yielded with the sweetest resignation to an inevitable evil. Mrs.
Hammond insisted that, at least, they should permit her to attend her
young lady in the chaise; and the bailiff, though the orders he had
received were so peremptory that he dared not exercise his discretion as
to the execution of the writ, began to have some apprehensions of
danger, and was willing to admit of any precaution that was not in
direct hostility to his functions. For the rest he understood, that it
was in all cases dangerous to allow sickness, or apparent unfitness for
removal, as a sufficient cause to interrupt a direct process; and that,
accordingly, in all doubtful questions and presumptive murders, the
practice of the law inclined, with a laudable partiality, to the
vindication of its own officers. In addition to these general rules, he
was influenced by the positive injunctions and assurances of Swineard,
and the terror which, through a circle of many miles, was annexed to the
name of Tyrrel. Before they departed, Mrs. Hammond despatched a
messenger with a letter of three lines to Mr. Falkland, informing him of
this extraordinary event. Mr. Falkland was from home when the messenger
arrived, and not expected to return till the second day; accident seemed
in this instance to favour the vengeance of Mr. Tyrrel, for he had
himself been too much under the dominion of an uncontrollable fury, to
take a circumstance of this sort into his estimate.

The forlorn state of these poor women, who were conducted, the one by
compulsion, the other a volunteer, to a scene so little adapted to their
accommodation as that of a common jail, may easily be imagined Mrs.
Hammond, however, was endowed with a masculine courage and impetuosity
of spirit, eminently necessary in the difficulties they had to
encounter. She was in some degree fitted by a sanguine temper, and an
impassioned sense of injustice, for the discharge of those very offices
which sobriety and calm reflection might have prescribed. The health of
Miss Melville was materially affected by the surprise and removal she
had undergone at the very time that repose was most necessary for her
preservation. Her fever became more violent; her delirium was stronger;
and the tortures of her imagination were proportioned to the
unfavourableness of the state in which the removal had been effected. It
was highly improbable that she could recover.

In the moments of suspended reason she was perpetually calling on the
name of Falkland. Mr. Falkland, she said, was her first and only love,
and he should be her husband. A moment after she exclaimed upon him in a
disconsolate, yet reproachful tone, for his unworthy deference to the
prejudices of the world. It was very cruel of him to show himself so
proud, and tell her that he would never consent to marry a beggar. But,
if he were proud, she was determined to be proud too. He should see that
she would not conduct herself like a slighted maiden, and that, though
he could reject her, it was not in his power to break her heart. At
another time she imagined she saw Mr. Tyrrel and his engine Grimes,
their hands and garments dropping with blood: and the pathetic
reproaches she vented against them might have affected a heart of stone.
Then the figure of Falkland presented itself to her distracted fancy,
deformed with wounds, and of a deadly paleness, and she shrieked with
agony, while she exclaimed that such was the general hardheartedness,
that no one would make the smallest exertion for his rescue. In such
vicissitudes of pain, perpetually imagining to her self unkindness,
insult, conspiracy, and murder, she passed a considerable part of two

On the evening of the second Mr. Falkland arrived, accompanied by Doctor
Wilson, the physician by whom she had previously been attended. The
scene he was called upon to witness was such as to be most exquisitely
agonising to a man of his acute sensibility. The news of the arrest had
given him an inexpressible shock; he was transported out of himself at
the unexampled malignity of its author. But, when he saw the figure of
Miss Melville, haggard, and a warrant of death written in her
countenance, a victim to the diabolical passions of her kinsman, it
seemed too much to be endured. When he entered, she was in the midst of
one of her fits of delirium, and immediately mistook her visitors for
two assassins. She asked, where they had hid her Falkland, her lord, her
life, her husband! and demanded that they should restore to her his
mangled corpse, that she might embrace him with her dying arms, breathe
her last upon his lips, and be buried in the same grave. She reproached
them with the sordidness of their conduct in becoming the tools of her
vile cousin, who had deprived her of her reason, and would never be
contented till he had murdered her. Mr. Falkland tore himself away from
this painful scene, and, leaving Doctor Wilson with his patient, desired
him, when he had given the necessary directions, to follow him to his

The perpetual hurry of spirits in which Miss Melville had been kept for
several days, by the nature of her indisposition, was extremely
exhausting to her; and, in about an hour from the visit of Mr. Falkland,
her delirium subsided, and left her in so low a state as to render it
difficult to perceive any signs of life. Doctor Wilson, who had
withdrawn, to soothe, if possible, the disturbed and impatient thoughts
of Mr. Falkland, was summoned afresh upon this change of symptoms, and
sat by the bed-side during the remainder of the night. The situation of
his patient was such, as to keep him in momentary apprehension of her
decease. While Miss Melville lay in this feeble and exhausted condition,
Mrs. Hammond betrayed every token of the tenderest anxiety. Her
sensibility was habitually of the acutest sort, and the qualities of
Emily were such as powerfully to fix her affection. She loved her like a
mother. Upon the present occasion, every sound, every motion, made her
tremble. Doctor Wilson had introduced another nurse, in consideration of
the incessant fatigue Mrs. Hammond had undergone; and he endeavoured, by
representations, and even by authority, to compel her to quit the
apartment of the patient. But she was uncontrollable; and he at length
found that he should probably do her more injury, by the violence that
would be necessary to separate her from the suffering innocent, than by
allowing her to follow her inclination. Her eye was a thousand times
turned, with the most eager curiosity, upon the countenance of Doctor
Wilson, without her daring to breathe a question respecting his opinion,
lest he should answer her by a communication of the most fatal tidings.
In the mean time she listened with the deepest attention to every thing
that dropped either from the physician or the nurse, hoping to collect
as it were from some oblique hint, the intelligence which she had not
courage expressly to require.

Towards morning the state of the patient seemed to take a favourable
turn. She dozed for near two hours, and, when she awoke, appeared
perfectly calm and sensible. Understanding that Mr. Falkland had
brought the physician to attend her, and was himself in her
neighbourhood, she requested to see him. Mr. Falkland had gone in the
mean time, with one of his tenants, to bail the debt, and now entered
the prison to enquire whether the young lady might be safely removed,
from her present miserable residence, to a more airy and commodious
apartment. When he appeared, the sight of him revived in the mind of
Miss Melville an imperfect recollection of the wanderings of her
delirium. She covered her face with her fingers, and betrayed the most
expressive confusion, while she thanked him, with her usual unaffected
simplicity, for the trouble he had taken. She hoped she should not give
him much more; she thought she should get better. It was a shame, she
said, if a young and lively girl, as she was, could not contrive to
outlive the trifling misfortunes to which she had been subjected. But,
while she said this, she was still extremely weak. She tried to assume a
cheerful countenance; but it was a faint effort, which the feeble state
of her frame did not seem sufficient to support. Mr. Falkland and the
doctor joined to request her to keep herself quiet, and avoid for the
present all occasions of exertion.

Encouraged by these appearances, Mrs. Hammond ventured to follow the two
gentlemen out of the room, in order to learn from the physician what
hopes he entertained. Doctor Wilson acknowledged, that he found his
patient at first in a very unfavourable situation, that the symptoms
were changed for the better, and that he was not without some
expectation of her recovery. He added, however, that he could answer for
nothing, that the next twelve hours would be exceedingly critical, but
that if she did not grow worse before morning, he would then undertake
for her life. Mrs. Hammond, who had hitherto seen nothing but despair,
now became frantic with joy. She burst into tears of transport, blessed
the physician in the most emphatic and impassioned terms, and uttered a
thousand extravagancies. Doctor Wilson seized this opportunity to press
her to give herself a little repose, to which she consented, a bed being
first procured for her in the room next to Miss Melville's, she having
charged the nurse to give her notice of any alteration in the state of
the patient.

Mrs. Hammond enjoyed an uninterrupted sleep of several hours. It was
already night, when she was awaked by an unusual bustle in the next
room. She listened for a few moments, and then determined to go and
discover the occasion of it. As she opened her door for that purpose,
she met the nurse coming to her. The countenance of the messenger told
her what it was she had to communicate, without the use of words. She
hurried to the bed-side, and found Miss Melville expiring. The
appearances that had at first been so encouraging were of short
duration. The calm of the morning proved to be only a sort of lightening
before death. In a few hours the patient grew worse. The bloom of her
countenance faded; she drew her breath with difficulty; and her eyes
became fixed. Doctor Wilson came in at this period, and immediately
perceived that all was over. She was for some time in convulsions; but,
these subsiding, she addressed the physician with a composed, though
feeble voice. She thanked him for his attention; and expressed the most
lively sense of her obligations to Mr. Falkland. She sincerely forgave
her cousin, and hoped he might never be visited by too acute a
recollection of his barbarity to her. She would have been contented to
live. Few persons had a sincerer relish of the pleasures of life; but
she was well pleased to die, rather than have become the wife of Grimes.
As Mrs. Hammond entered, she turned her countenance towards her, and
with an affectionate expression repeated her name. This was her last
word; in less than two hours from that time she breathed her last in the
arms of this faithful friend.


Such was the fate of Miss Emily Melville. Perhaps tyranny never
exhibited a more painful memorial of the detestation in which it
deserves to be held. The idea irresistibly excited in every spectator of
the scene, was that of regarding Mr. Tyrrel as the most diabolical
wretch that had ever dishonoured the human form. The very attendants
upon this house of oppression, for the scene was acted upon too public a
stage not to be generally understood, expressed their astonishment and
disgust at his unparalleled cruelty.

If such were the feelings of men bred to the commission of injustice, it
is difficult to say what must have been those of Mr. Falkland. He raved,
he swore, he beat his head, he rent up his hair. He was unable to
continue in one posture, and to remain in one place. He burst away from
the spot with vehemence, as if he sought to leave behind him his
recollection and his existence. He seemed to tear up the ground with
fierceness and rage. He returned soon again. He approached the sad
remains of what had been Emily, and gazed on them with such intentness,
that his eyes appeared, ready to burst from their sockets. Acute and
exquisite as were his notions of virtue and honour, he could not prevent
himself from reproaching the system of nature, for having given birth to
such a monster as Tyrrel. He was ashamed of himself for wearing the same
form. He could not think of the human species with patience. He foamed
with indignation against the laws of the universe, that did not permit
him to crush such reptiles at a blow, as we would crush so many noxious
insects. It was necessary to guard him like a madman.

The whole office of judging what was proper to be done under the present
circumstances devolved upon Doctor Wilson. The doctor was a man of cool
and methodical habits of acting. One of the first ideas that suggested
itself to him was, that Miss Melvile was a branch of the family of
Tyrrel. He did not doubt of the willingness of Mr. Falkland to discharge
every expense that might be further incident to the melancholy remains
of this unfortunate victim; but he conceived that the laws of fashion
and decorum required some notification of the event to be made to the
head of the family. Perhaps, too, he had an eye to his interest in his
profession, and was reluctant to expose himself to the resentment of a
person of Mr. Tyrrel's consideration in the neighbourhood. But, with
this weakness, he had nevertheless some feelings in common with the rest
of the world, and must have suffered considerable violence, before he
could have persuaded himself to be the messenger; beside which, he did
not think it right in the present situation to leave Mr. Falkland.

Doctor Wilson no sooner mentioned these ideas, than they seemed to make
a sudden impression on Mrs. Hammond, and she earnestly requested that
she might be permitted to carry the intelligence. The proposal was
unexpected; but the doctor did not very obstinately refuse his assent.
She was determined, she said, to see what sort of impression the
catastrophe would make upon the author of it; and she promised to
comport herself with moderation and civility. The journey was soon

"I am come, sir," said she to Mr. Tyrrel, "to inform you that your
cousin, Miss Melville, died this afternoon."


"Yes, sir. I saw her die. She died in these arms."

"Died? Who killed her? What do you mean?"

"Who? Is it for you to ask that question? Your cruelty and malice killed

"Me?--my?--Poh! she is not dead--it cannot be--it is not a week since
she left this house."

"Do not you believe me? I say she is dead!"

"Have a care, woman! this is no matter for jesting. No: though she used
me ill, I would not believe her dead for all the world!"

Mrs. Hammond shook her head in a manner expressive at once of grief and

"No, no, no, no! I will never believe that!--No, never!"

"Will you come with me, and convince your eyes? It is a sight worthy of
you; and will be a feast to such a heart as yours!"--Saying this, Mrs.
Hammond offered her hand, as if to conduct him to the spot.

Mr. Tyrrel shrunk back.

"If she be dead, what is that to me? Am I to answer for every thing that
goes wrong in the world?--What do you come here for? Why bring your
messages to me?"

"To whom should I bring them but to her kinsman,--and her murderer."

"Murderer?--Did I employ knives or pistols? Did I give her poison? I did
nothing but what the law allows. If she be dead, nobody can say that I
am to blame!"

"To blame?--All the world will abhor and curse you. Were you such a
fool as to think, because men pay respect to wealth and rank, this would
extend to such a deed? They will laugh at so barefaced a cheat. The
meanest beggar will spurn and spit at you. Ay, you may well stand
confounded at what you have done. I will proclaim you to the whole
world, and you will be obliged to fly the very face of a human

"Good woman," said Mr. Tyrrel, extremely humbled, "talk no more in this
strain!--Emmy is not dead! I am sure--I hope--she is not dead!--Tell me
that you have only been deceiving me, and I will forgive you every
thing--I will forgive her--I will take her into favour--I will do any
thing you please!--I never meant her any harm!"

"I tell you she is dead! You have murdered the sweetest innocent that
lived! Can you bring her back to life, as you have driven her out of it?
If you could, I would kneel to you twenty times a day! What is it you
have done?--Miserable wretch! did you think you could do and undo, and
change things this way and that, as you pleased?"

The reproaches of Mrs. Hammond were the first instance in which Mr.
Tyrrel was made to drink the full cup of retribution. This was, however,
only a specimen of a long series of contempt, abhorrence, and insult,
that was reserved for him. The words of Mrs. Hammond were prophetic. It
evidently appeared, that though wealth and hereditary elevation operate
as an apology for many delinquencies, there are some which so
irresistibly address themselves to the indignation of mankind, that,
like death, they level all distinctions, and reduce their perpetrator to
an equality with the most indigent and squalid of his species. Against
Mr. Tyrrel, as the tyrannical and unmanly murderer of Emily, those who
dared not venture the unreserved avowal of their sentiments muttered
curses, deep, not loud; while the rest joined in an universal cry of
abhorrence and execration. He stood astonished at the novelty of his
situation. Accustomed as he had been to the obedience and trembling
homage of mankind, he had imagined they would be perpetual, and that no
excess on his part would ever be potent enough to break the enchantment.
Now he looked round, and saw sullen detestation in every face, which
with difficulty restrained itself, and upon the slightest provocation
broke forth with an impetuous tide, and swept away the mounds of
subordination and fear. His large estate could not purchase civility
from the gentry, the peasantry, scarcely from his own servants. In the
indignation of all around him he found a ghost that haunted him with
every change of place, and a remorse that stung his conscience, and
exterminated his peace. The neighbourhood appeared more and more every
day to be growing too hot for him to endure, and it became evident that
he would ultimately be obliged to quit the country. Urged by the
flagitiousness of this last example, people learned to recollect every
other instance of his excesses, and it was, no doubt, a fearful
catalogue that rose up in judgment against him. It seemed as if the
sense of public resentment had long been gathering strength unperceived,
and now burst forth into insuppressible violence.

There was scarcely a human being upon whom this sort of retribution
could have sat more painfully than upon Mr. Tyrrel. Though he had not a
consciousness of innocence prompting him continually to recoil from the
detestation of mankind as a thing totally unallied to his character, yet
the imperiousness of his temper and the constant experience he had had
of the pliability of other men, prepared him to feel the general and
undisguised condemnation into which he was sunk with uncommon emotions
of anger and impatience. That he, at the beam of whose eye every
countenance fell, and to whom in the fierceness of his wrath no one was
daring enough to reply, should now be regarded with avowed dislike, and
treated with unceremonious censure, was a thing he could not endure to
recollect or believe. Symptoms of the universal disgust smote him at
every instant, and at every blow he writhed with intolerable anguish.
His rage was unbounded and raving. He repelled every attack with the
fiercest indignation; while the more he struggled, the more desperate
his situation appeared to become. At length he determined to collect his
strength for a decisive effort, and to meet the whole tide of public
opinion in a single scene.

In pursuance of these thoughts he resolved to repair, without delay, to
the rural assembly which I have already mentioned in the course of my
story. Miss Melville had now been dead one month. Mr. Falkland had been
absent the last week in a distant part of the country, and was not
expected to return for a week longer. Mr. Tyrrel willingly embraced the
opportunity, trusting, if he could now effect his re-establishment, that
he should easily preserve the ground he had gained, even in the face of
his formidable rival. Mr. Tyrrel was not deficient in courage; but he
conceived the present to be too important an epoch in his life to allow
him to make any unnecessary risk in his chance for future ease and

There was a sort of bustle that took place at his entrance into the
assembly, it having been agreed by the gentlemen of the assembly, that
Mr. Tyrrel was to be refused admittance, as a person with whom they did
not choose to associate. This vote had already been notified to him by
letter by the master of the ceremonies, but the intelligence was rather
calculated, with a man of Mr. Tyrrel's disposition, to excite defiance
than to overawe. At the door of the assembly he was personally met by
the master of the ceremonies, who had perceived the arrival of an
equipage, and who now endeavoured to repeat his prohibition: but he was
thrust aside by Mr. Tyrrel with an air of native authority and ineffable
contempt. As he entered; every eye was turned upon him. Presently all
the gentlemen in the room assembled round him. Some endeavoured to
hustle him, and others began to expostulate. But he found the secret
effectually to silence the one set, and to shake off the other. His
muscular form, the well-known eminence of his intellectual powers, the
long habits to which every man was formed of acknowledging his
ascendancy, were all in his favour. He considered himself as playing a
desperate stake, and had roused all the energies he possessed, to enable
him to do justice to so interesting a transaction. Disengaged from the
insects that at first pestered him, he paced up and down the room with a
magisterial stride, and flashed an angry glance on every side. He then
broke silence. "If any one had any thing to say to him, he should know
where and how to answer him. He would advise any such person, however,
to consider well what he was about. If any man imagined he had any thing
personally to complain of, it was very well. But he did expect that
nobody there would be ignorant and raw enough to meddle with what was no
business of theirs, and intrude into the concerns of any man's private

This being a sort of defiance, one and another gentleman advanced to
answer it. He that was first began to speak; but Mr. Tyrrel, by the
expression of his countenance and a peremptory tone, by well-timed
interruptions and pertinent insinuations, caused him first to hesitate,
and then to be silent. He seemed to be fast advancing to the triumph he
had promised himself. The whole company were astonished. They felt the
same abhorrence and condemnation of his character; but they could not
help admiring the courage and resources he displayed upon the present
occasion. They could without difficulty have concentred afresh their
indignant feelings, but they seemed to want a leader.

At this critical moment Mr. Falkland entered the room. Mere accident had
enabled him to return sooner than he expected.

Both he and Mr. Tyrrel reddened at sight of each other. He advanced
towards Mr. Tyrrel without a moment's pause, and in a peremptory voice
asked him what he did there?

"Here? What do you mean by that? This place is as free to me as you, and
you are the last person to whom I shall deign to give an account of

"Sir, the place is not free to you. Do not you know, you have been voted
out? Whatever were your rights, your infamous conduct has forfeited

"Mr. what do you call yourself, if you have anything to say to me,
choose a proper time and place. Do not think to put on your bullying
airs under shelter of this company! I will not endure it."

"You are mistaken, sir. This public scene is the only place where I can
have any thing to say to you. If you would not hear the universal
indignation of mankind, you must not come into the society of men.--Miss
Melville!--Shame upon you, inhuman, unrelenting tyrant! Can you hear her
name, and not sink into the earth? Can you retire into solitude, and not
see her pale and patient ghost rising to reproach you? Can you recollect
her virtues, her innocence, her spotless manners, her unresentful
temper, and not run distracted with remorse? Have you not killed her in
the first bloom of her youth? Can you bear to think that she now lies
mouldering in the grave through your cursed contrivance, that deserved a
crown, ten thousand times more than you deserve to live? And do you
expect that mankind will ever forget, or forgive such a deed? Go,
miserable wretch; think yourself too happy that you are permitted to fly
the face of man! Why, what a pitiful figure do you make at this moment!
Do you think that any thing could bring so hardened a wretch as you are
to shrink from reproach, if your conscience were not in confederacy with
them that reproached you? And were you fool enough to believe that any
obstinacy, however determined, could enable you to despise the keen
rebuke of justice? Go, shrink into your miserable self! Begone, and let
me never be blasted with your sight again!"

And here, incredible as it may appear, Mr. Tyrrel began to obey his
imperious censurer. His looks were full of wildness and horror; his
limbs trembled; and his tongue refused its office. He felt no power of
resisting the impetuous torrent of reproach that was poured upon him. He
hesitated; he was ashamed of his own defeat; he seemed to wish to deny
it. But his struggles were ineffectual; every attempt perished in the
moment it was made. The general voice was eager to abash him. As his
confusion became more visible, the outcry increased. It swelled
gradually to hootings, tumult, and a deafening noise of indignation. At
length he willingly retired from the public scene, unable any longer to
endure the sensations it inflicted.

In about an hour and a half he returned. No precaution had been taken
against this incident, for nothing could be more unexpected. In the
interval he had intoxicated himself with large draughts of brandy. In a
moment he was in a part of the room where Mr. Falkland was standing, and
with one blow of his muscular arm levelled him with the earth. The blow
however was not stunning, and Mr. Falkland rose again immediately. It is
obvious to perceive how unequal he must have been in this species of
contest. He was scarcely risen before Mr. Tyrrel repeated his blow. Mr.
Falkland was now upon his guard, and did not fall. But the blows of his
adversary were redoubled with a rapidity difficult to conceive, and Mr.
Falkland was once again brought to the earth. In this situation Mr.
Tyrrel kicked his prostrate enemy, and stooped apparently with the
intention of dragging him along the floor. All this passed in a moment,
and the gentlemen present had not time to recover their surprise. They
now interfered, and Mr. Tyrrel once more quitted the apartment.

It is difficult to conceive any event more terrible to the individual
upon whom it fell, than the treatment which Mr. Falkland in this
instance experienced. Every passion of his life was calculated to make
him feel it more acutely. He had repeatedly exerted an uncommon energy
and prudence, to prevent the misunderstanding between Mr. Tyrrel and
himself from proceeding to extremities; but in vain! It was closed with
a catastrophe, exceeding all that he had feared, or that the most
penetrating foresight could have suggested. To Mr. Falkland disgrace was
worse than death. The slightest breath of dishonour would have stung him
to the very soul. What must it have been with this complication of
ignominy, base, humiliating, and public? Could Mr. Tyrrel have
understood the evil he inflicted, even he, under all his circumstances
of provocation, could scarcely have perpetrated it. Mr. Falkland's mind
was full of uproar like the war of contending elements, and of such
suffering as casts contempt on the refinements of inventive cruelty. He
wished for annihilation, to lie down in eternal oblivion, in an
insensibility, which, compared with what he experienced, was scarcely
less enviable than beatitude itself. Horror, detestation, revenge,
inexpressible longings to shake off the evil, and a persuasion that in
this case all effort was powerless, filled his soul even to bursting.

One other event closed the transactions of this memorable evening. Mr.
Falkland was baffled of the vengeance that yet remained to him. Mr.
Tyrrel was found by some of the company dead in the street, having been
murdered at the distance of a few yards from the assembly house.


I shall endeavour to state the remainder of this narrative in the words
of Mr. Collins. The reader has already had occasion to perceive that Mr.
Collins was a man of no vulgar order; and his reflections on the subject
were uncommonly judicious.

"This day was the crisis of Mr. Falkland's history. From hence took its
beginning that gloomy and unsociable melancholy, of which he has since
been the victim. No two characters can be in certain respects more
strongly contrasted, than the Mr. Falkland of a date prior and
subsequent to these events. Hitherto he had been attended by a fortune
perpetually prosperous. His mind was sanguine; full of that undoubting
confidence in its own powers which prosperity is qualified to produce.
Though the habits of his life were those of a serious and sublime
visionary they were nevertheless full of cheerfulness and tranquillity.
But from this moment, his pride, and the lofty adventurousness of his
spirit, were effectually subdued. From an object of envy he was changed
into an object of compassion. Life, which hitherto no one had more
exquisitely enjoyed, became a burden to him. No more self-complacency,
no more rapture, no more self-approving and heart-transporting
benevolence! He who had lived beyond any man upon the grand and
animating reveries of the imagination, seemed now to have no visions but
of anguish and despair. His case was peculiarly worthy of sympathy,
since, no doubt, if rectitude and purity of disposition could give a
title to happiness, few men could exhibit a more consistent and powerful
claim than Mr. Falkland.

"He was too deeply pervaded with the idle and groundless romances of
chivalry, ever to forget the situation, humiliating and dishonourable
according to his ideas, in which he had been placed upon this occasion.
There is a mysterious sort of divinity annexed to the person of a true
knight, that makes any species of brute violence committed upon it
indelible and immortal. To be knocked down, cuffed, kicked, dragged
along the floor! Sacred heaven, the memory of such a treatment was not
to be endured! No future lustration could ever remove the stain: and,
what was perhaps still worse in the present case, the offender having
ceased to exist, the lustration which the laws of knight-errantry
prescribe was rendered impossible.

"In some future period of human improvement, it is probable, that that
calamity will be in a manner unintelligible, which in the present
instance contributed to tarnish and wither the excellence of one of the
most elevated and amiable of human minds. If Mr. Falkland had reflected
with perfect accuracy upon the case, he would probably have been able
to look down with indifference upon a wound, which, as it was, pierced
to his very vitals. How much more dignity, than in the modern duellist,
do we find in Themistocles, the most gallant of the Greeks; who, when
Eurybiades, his commander in chief, in answer to some of his
remonstrances, lifted his cane over him with a menacing air, accosted
him in that noble apostrophe, 'Strike, but hear!'

"How would a man of true discernment in such a case reply to his brutal
assailant? 'I make it my boast that I can endure calamity and pain:
shall I not be able to endure the trifling inconvenience that your folly
can inflict upon me? Perhaps a human being would be more accomplished,
if he understood the science of personal defence; but how few would be
the occasions upon which he would be called to exert it? How few persons
would he encounter so unjust and injurious as you, if his own conduct
were directed by the principles of reason and benevolence? Beside, how
narrow would be the use of this science when acquired? It will scarcely
put the man of delicate make and petty stature upon a level with the
athletic pugilist; and, if it did in some measure secure me against the
malice of a single adversary, still my person and my life, so far as
mere force is concerned, would always be at the mercy of two. Further
than immediate defence against actual violence, it could never be of use
to me. The man who can deliberately meet his adversary for the purpose
of exposing the person of one or both of them to injury, tramples upon
every principle of reason and equity. Duelling is the vilest of all
egotism, treating the public, who has a claim to all my powers and
exertions, as if it were nothing, and myself, or rather an
unintelligible chimera I annex to myself, as if it were entitled to my
exclusive attention. I am unable to cope with you: what then? Can that
circumstance dishonour me? No; I can only be dishonoured by perpetrating
an unjust action. My honour is in my own keeping, beyond the reach of
all mankind. Strike! I am passive. No injury that you can inflict, shall
provoke me to expose you or myself to unnecessary evil. I refuse that;
but I am not therefore pusillanimous: when I refuse any danger or
suffering by which the general good may be promoted, then brand me for a

"These reasonings, however simple and irresistible they must be found by
a dispassionate enquirer, are little reflected on by the world at large,
and were most of all uncongenial to the prejudices of Mr. Falkland.

"But the public disgrace and chastisement that had been imposed upon
him, intolerable as they were to be recollected, were not the whole of
the mischief that redounded to our unfortunate patron from the
transactions of that day. It was presently whispered that he was no
other than the murderer of his antagonist. This rumour was of too much
importance to the very continuance of his life, to justify its being
concealed from him. He heard it with inexpressible astonishment and
horror; it formed a dreadful addition to the load of intellectual
anguish that already oppressed him. No man had ever held his reputation
more dear than Mr. Falkland; and now, in one day, he was fallen under
the most exquisite calamities, a complicated personal insult, and the
imputation of the foulest of crimes. He might have fled; for no one was
forward to proceed against a man so adored as Mr. Falkland, or in
revenge of one so universally execrated as Mr. Tyrrel. But flight he
disdained. In the mean time the affair was of the most serious
magnitude, and the rumour unchecked seemed daily to increase in
strength. Mr. Falkland appeared sometimes inclined to adopt such steps
as might have been best calculated to bring the imputation to a speedy
trial. But he probably feared, by too direct an appeal to judicature, to
render more precise an imputation, the memory of which he deprecated; at
the same time that he was sufficiently willing to meet the severest
scrutiny, and, if he could not hope to have it forgotten that he had
ever been accused, to prove in the most satisfactory manner that the
accusation was unjust.

"The neighbouring magistrates at length conceived it necessary to take
some steps upon the subject. Without causing Mr. Falkland to be
apprehended, they sent to desire he would appear before them at one of
their meetings. The proceeding being thus opened, Mr. Falkland expressed
his hope that, if the business were likely to stop there, their
investigation might at least be rendered as solemn as possible. The
meeting was numerous; every person of a respectable class in society was
admitted to be an auditor; the whole town, one of the most considerable
in the county, was apprised of the nature of the business. Few trials,
invested with all the forms of judgment, have excited so general an
interest. A trial, under the present circumstances, was scarcely
attainable; and it seemed to be the wish both of principal and umpires,
to give to this transaction all the momentary notoriety and decisiveness
of a trial.

"The magistrates investigated the particulars of the story. Mr.
Falkland, it appeared, had left the rooms immediately after his
assailant; and though he had been attended by one or two of the
gentlemen to his inn, it was proved that he had left them upon some
slight occasion, as soon as he arrived at it, and that, when they
enquired for him of the waiters, he had already mounted his horse and
ridden home.

"By the nature of the case, no particular facts could be stated in
balance against these. As soon as they had been sufficiently detailed,
Mr. Falkland therefore proceeded to his defence. Several copies of his
defence were-made, and Mr. Falkland seemed, for a short time, to have
had the idea of sending it to the press, though, for some reason or
other, he afterwards suppressed it. I have one of the copies in my
possession, and I will read it to you."

Saying this, Mr. Collins rose, and took it from a private drawer in his
escritoire. During this action he appeared to recollect himself. He did
not, in the strict sense of the word, hesitate; but he was prompted to
make some apology for what he was doing.

"You seem never to have heard of this memorable transaction; and,
indeed, that is little to be wondered at, since the good nature of the
world is interested in suppressing it, and it is deemed a disgrace to a
man to have defended himself from a criminal imputation, though with
circumstances the most satisfactory and honourable. It may be supposed
that this suppression is particularly acceptable to Mr. Falkland; and I
should not have acted in contradiction to his modes of thinking in
communicating the story to you, had there not been circumstances of
peculiar urgency, that seemed to render the communication desirable."
Saying this, he proceeded to read from the paper in his hand.


"I stand here accused of a crime, the most black that any human creature
is capable of perpetrating. I am innocent. I have no fear that I shall
fail to make every person in this company acknowledge my innocence. In
the mean time, what must be my feelings? Conscious as I am of deserving
approbation and not censure, of having passed my life in acts of
justice and philanthropy, can any thing be more deplorable than for me
to answer to a charge of murder? So wretched is my situation, that I
cannot accept your gratuitous acquittal, if you should be disposed to
bestow it. I must answer to an imputation, the very thought of which is
ten thousand times worse to me than death. I must exert the whole energy
of my mind, to prevent my being ranked with the vilest of men.

"Gentlemen, this is a situation in which a man may be allowed to boast.
Accursed situation! No man need envy me the vile and polluted triumph I
am now to gain! I have called no witnesses to my character. Great God!
what sort of character is that which must be supported by witnesses?
But, if I must speak, look round the company, ask of every one present,
enquire of your own hearts! Not one word of reproach was ever whispered
against me. I do not hesitate to call upon those who have known me most,
to afford me the most honourable testimony.

"My life has been spent in the keenest and most unintermitted
sensibility to reputation. I am almost indifferent as to what shall be
the event of this day. I would not open my mouth upon the occasion, if
my life were the only thing that was at stake. It is not in the power of
your decision to restore to me my unblemished reputation, to obliterate
the disgrace I have suffered, or to prevent it from being remembered
that I have been brought to examination upon a charge of murder. Your
decision can never have the efficacy to prevent the miserable remains of
my existence from being the most intolerable of all burthens.

"I am accused of having committed murder upon the body of Barnabas
Tyrrel. I would most joyfully have given every farthing I possess, and
devoted myself to perpetual beggary, to have preserved his life. His
life was precious to me, beyond that of all mankind. In my opinion, the
greatest injustice committed by his unknown assassin was that of
defrauding me of my just revenge. I confess that I would have called him
out to the field, and that our encounter should not have been terminated
but by the death of one or both of us. This would have been a pitiful
and inadequate compensation for his unparalleled insult, but it was all
that remained.

"I ask for no pity, but I must openly declare that never was any
misfortune so horrible as mine. I would willingly have taken refuge from
the recollection of that night in a voluntary death. Life was now
stripped of all those recommendations, for the sake of which it was dear
to me. But even this consolation is denied me. I am compelled to drag
for ever the intolerable load of existence, upon penalty, if at any
period, however remote, I shake it off, of having that impatience
regarded as confirming a charge of murder. Gentlemen, if by your
decision you could take away my life, without that act being connected
with my disgrace, I would bless the cord that stopped the breath of my
existence for ever.

"You all know how easily I might have fled from this purgation. If I had
been guilty, should I not have embraced the opportunity? But, as it was,
I could not. Reputation has been the idol, the jewel of my life. I could
never have borne to think that a human creature, in the remotest part of
the globe, should believe that I was a criminal. Alas! what a deity it
is that I have chosen for my worship! I have entailed upon myself
everlasting agony and despair!

"I have but one word to add. Gentlemen, I charge you to do me the
imperfect justice that is in your power! My life is a worthless thing.
But my honour, the empty remains of honour I have now to boast, is in
your judgment, and you will each of you, from this day, have imposed
upon yourselves the task of its vindicators. It is little that you can
do for me; but it is not less your duty to do that little. May that God
who is the fountain of honour and good prosper and protect you! The man
who now stands before you is devoted to perpetual barrenness and blast!
He has nothing to hope for beyond the feeble consolation of this day!"

"You will easily imagine that Mr. Falkland was discharged with every
circumstance of credit. Nothing is more to be deplored in human
institutions, than that the ideas of mankind should have annexed a
sentiment of disgrace to a purgation thus satisfactory and decisive. No
one entertained the shadow of a doubt upon the subject, and yet a mere
concurrence of circumstances made it necessary that the best of men
should be publicly put on his defence, as if really under suspicion of
an atrocious crime. It may be granted indeed that Mr. Falkland had his
faults, but those very faults placed him at a still further distance
from the criminality in question. He was the fool of honour and fame: a
man whom, in the pursuit of reputation, nothing could divert; who would
have purchased the character of a true, gallant, and undaunted hero, at
the expense of worlds, and who thought every calamity nominal but a
stain upon his honour. How atrociously absurd to suppose any motive
capable of inducing such a man to play the part of a lurking assassin?
How unfeeling to oblige him to defend himself from such an imputation?
Did any man, and, least of all, a man of the purest honour, ever pass in
a moment, from a life unstained by a single act of injury, to the
consummation of human depravity?

"When the decision of the magistrates was declared, a general murmur of
applause and involuntary transport burst forth from every one present.
It was at first low, and gradually became louder. As it was the
expression of rapturous delight, and an emotion disinterested and
divine, so there was an indescribable something in the very sound, that
carried it home to the heart, and convinced every spectator that there
was no merely personal pleasure which ever existed, that would not be
foolish and feeble in the comparison. Every one strove who should most
express his esteem of the amiable accused. Mr. Falkland was no sooner
withdrawn than the gentlemen present determined to give a still further
sanction to the business, by their congratulations. They immediately
named a deputation to wait upon him for that purpose. Every one
concurred to assist the general sentiment. It was a sort of sympathetic
feeling that took hold upon all ranks and degrees. The multitude
received him with huzzas, they took his horses from his carriage,
dragged him along in triumph, and attended him many miles on his return
to his own habitation. It seemed as if a public examination upon a
criminal charge, which had hitherto been considered in every event as a
brand of disgrace, was converted, in the present instance, into an
occasion of enthusiastic adoration and unexampled honour.

"Nothing could reach the heart of Mr. Falkland. He was not insensible to
the general kindness and exertions; but it was too evident that the
melancholy that had taken hold of his mind was invincible.

"It was only a few weeks after this memorable scene that the real
murderer was discovered. Every part of this story was extraordinary. The
real murderer was Hawkins. He was found with his son, under a feigned
name, at a village about thirty miles distant, in want of all the
necessaries of life. He had lived there, from the period of his flight,
in so private a manner, that all the enquiries that had been set on
foot, by the benevolence of Mr. Falkland, or the insatiable malice of
Mr. Tyrrel, had been insufficient to discover him. The first thing that
had led to the detection was a parcel of clothes covered with blood,
that were found in a ditch, and that, when drawn out, were known by the
people of the village to belong to this man. The murder of Mr. Tyrrel
was not a circumstance that could be unknown, and suspicion was
immediately roused. A diligent search being made, the rusty handle, with
part of the blade of a knife, was found thrown in a corner of his
lodging, which, being applied to a piece of the point of a knife that
had been broken in the wound, appeared exactly to correspond. Upon
further enquiry two rustics, who had been accidentally on the spot,
remembered to have seen Hawkins and his son in the town that very
evening and to have called after them, and received no answer, though
they were sure of their persons. Upon this accumulated evidence both
Hawkins and his son were tried, condemned, and afterwards executed. In
the interval between the sentence and execution Hawkins confessed his
guilt with many marks of compunction; though there are persons by whom
this is denied; but I have taken some pains to enquire into the fact,
and am persuaded that their disbelief is precipitate and groundless.

"The cruel injustice that this man had suffered from his village-tyrant
was not forgotten upon the present occasion. It was by a strange
fatality that the barbarous proceedings of Mr. Tyrrel seemed never to
fall short of their completion; and even his death served eventually to
consummate the ruin of a man he hated; a circumstance which, if it could
have come to his knowledge, would perhaps have in some measure consoled
him for his untimely end. This poor Hawkins was surely entitled to some
pity, since his being finally urged to desperation, and brought,
together with his son, to an ignominious fate, was originally owing to
the sturdiness of his virtue and independence. But the compassion of the
public was in a great measure shut against him, as they thought it a
piece of barbarous and unpardonable selfishness, that he had not rather
come boldly forward to meet the consequences of his own conduct, than
suffer a man of so much public worth as Mr. Falkland, and who had been
so desirous of doing him good, to be exposed to the risk of being tried
for a murder that he had committed.

"From this time to the present Mr. Falkland has been nearly such as you
at present see him. Though it be several years since these transactions,
the impression they made is for ever fresh in the mind of our
unfortunate patron. From thenceforward his habits became totally
different. He had before been fond of public scenes, and acting a part
in the midst of the people among whom he immediately resided. He now
made himself a rigid recluse. He had no associates, no friends.
Inconsolable himself, he yet wished to treat others with kindness. There
was a solemn sadness in his manner, attended with the most perfect
gentleness and humanity. Every body respects him, for his benevolence is
unalterable; but there is a stately coldness and reserve in his
behaviour, which makes it difficult for those about him to regard him
with the familiarity of affection. These symptoms are uninterrupted,
except at certain times when his sufferings become intolerable, and he
displays the marks of a furious insanity. At those times his language is
fearful and mysterious, and he seems to figure to himself by turns every
sort of persecution and alarm, which may be supposed to attend upon an
accusation of murder. But, sensible of his own weakness, he is anxious
at such times to withdraw into solitude: and his domestics in general
know nothing of him, but the uncommunicative and haughty, but mild,
dejection that accompanies every thing he does."


* * * * *



I have stated the narrative of Mr. Collins, interspersed with such other
information as I was able to collect, with all the exactness that my
memory, assisted by certain memorandums I made at the time, will afford.
I do not pretend to warrant the authenticity of any part of these
memoirs, except so much as fell under my own knowledge, and that part
shall be given with the same simplicity and accuracy, that I would
observe towards a court which was to decide in the last resort upon
every thing dear to me. The same scrupulous fidelity restrains me from
altering the manner of Mr. Collins's narrative to adapt it to the
precepts of my own taste; and it will soon be perceived how essential
that narrative is to the elucidation of my history.

The intention of my friend in this communication was to give me ease;
but he in reality added to my embarrassment. Hitherto I had had no
intercourse with the world and its passions; and, though I was not
totally unacquainted with them as they appear in books, this proved of
little service to me when I came to witness them myself. The case seemed
entirely altered, when the subject of those passions was continually
before my eyes, and the events had happened but the other day as it
were, in the very neighbourhood where I lived. There was a connection
and progress in this narrative, which made it altogether unlike the
little village incidents I had hitherto known. My feelings were
successively interested for the different persons that were brought upon
the scene. My veneration was excited for Mr. Clare, and my applause for
the intrepidity of Mrs. Hammond. I was astonished that any human
creature should be so shockingly perverted as Mr. Tyrrel. I paid the
tribute of my tears to the memory of the artless Miss Melville. I found
a thousand fresh reasons to admire and love Mr. Falkland.

At present I was satisfied with thus considering every incident in its
obvious sense. But the story I had heard was for ever in my thoughts,
and I was peculiarly interested to comprehend its full import. I turned
it a thousand ways, and examined it in every point of view. In the
original communication it appeared sufficiently distinct and
satisfactory; but as I brooded over it, it gradually became mysterious.
There was something strange in the character of Hawkins. So firm, so
sturdily honest and just, as he appeared at first; all at once to become
a murderer! His first behaviour under the prosecution, how accurately
was it calculated to prepossess one in his favour! To be sure, if he
were guilty, it was unpardonable in him to permit a man of so much
dignity and worth as Mr. Falkland to suffer under the imputation of his
crime! And yet I could not help bitterly compassionating the honest
fellow, brought to the gallows, as he was, strictly speaking, by the
machinations of that devil incarnate, Mr. Tyrrel. His son, too, that son
for whom he voluntarily sacrificed his all, to die with him at the same
tree; surely never was a story more affecting!

Was it possible, after all, that Mr. Falkland should be the murderer?
The reader will scarcely believe, that the idea suggested itself to my
mind that I would ask him. It was but a passing thought; but it serves
to mark the simplicity of my character. Then I recollected the virtues
of my master, almost too sublime for human nature; I thought of his
sufferings so unexampled, so unmerited; and chid myself for the
suspicion. The dying confession of Hawkins recurred to my mind; and I
felt that there was no longer a possibility of doubting. And yet what
was the meaning of all Mr. Falkland's agonies and terrors? In fine, the
idea having once occurred to my mind, it was fixed there for ever. My
thoughts fluctuated from conjecture to conjecture, but this was the
centre about which they revolved. I determined to place myself as a
watch upon my patron.

The instant I had chosen this employment for myself, I found a strange
sort of pleasure in it. To do what is forbidden always has its charms,
because we have an indistinct apprehension of something arbitrary and
tyrannical in the prohibition. To be a spy upon Mr. Falkland! That there
was danger in the employment, served to give an alluring pungency to the
choice. I remembered the stern reprimand I had received, and his
terrible looks; and the recollection gave a kind of tingling sensation,
not altogether unallied to enjoyment. The further I advanced, the more
the sensation was irresistible. I seemed to myself perpetually upon the
brink of being countermined, and perpetually roused to guard my designs.
The more impenetrable Mr. Falkland was determined to be, the more
uncontrollable was my curiosity. Through the whole, my alarm and
apprehension of personal danger had a large mixture of frankness and
simplicity, conscious of meaning no ill, that made me continually ready
to say every thing that was upon my mind, and would not suffer me to
believe that, when things were brought to the test, any one could be
seriously angry with me.

These reflections led gradually to a new state of my mind. When I had
first removed into Mr. Falkland's family, the novelty of the scene
rendered me cautious and reserved. The distant and solemn manners of my
master seemed to have annihilated my constitutional gaiety. But the
novelty by degrees wore off, and my constraint in the same degree
diminished. The story I had now heard, and the curiosity it excited,
restored to me activity, eagerness, and courage. I had always had a
propensity to communicate my thoughts; my age was, of course, inclined
to talkativeness; and I ventured occasionally in a sort of hesitating
way, as if questioning whether such a conduct might be allowed, to
express my sentiments as they arose, in the presence of Mr. Falkland.

The first time I did so, he looked at me with an air of surprise, made
me no answer, and presently took occasion to leave me. The experiment
was soon after repeated. My master seemed half inclined to encourage me,
and yet doubtful whether he might venture.

He had long been a stranger to pleasure of every sort, and my artless
and untaught remarks appeared to promise him some amusement. Could an
amusement of this sort be dangerous?

In this uncertainty he could not probably find it in his heart to treat
with severity my innocent effusions. I needed but little encouragement;
for the perturbation of my mind stood in want of this relief. My
simplicity, arising from my being a total stranger to the intercourse of
the world, was accompanied with a mind in some degree cultivated with
reading, and perhaps not altogether destitute of observation and talent.
My remarks were therefore perpetually unexpected, at one time implying
extreme ignorance, and at another some portion of acuteness, but at all
times having an air of innocence, frankness, and courage. There was
still an apparent want of design in the manner, even after I was excited
accurately to compare my observations, and study the inferences to which
they led; for the effect of old habit was more visible than that of a
recently conceived purpose which was yet scarcely mature.

Mr. Falkland's situation was like that of a fish that plays with the
bait employed to entrap him. By my manner he was in a certain degree
encouraged to lay aside his usual reserve, and relax his stateliness;
till some abrupt observation or interrogatory stung him into
recollection, and brought back his alarm. Still it was evident that he
bore about him a secret wound. Whenever the cause of his sorrows was
touched, though in a manner the most indirect and remote, his
countenance altered, his distemper returned, and it was with difficulty
that he could suppress his emotions, sometimes conquering himself with
painful effort, and sometimes bursting into a sort of paroxysm of
insanity, and hastening to bury himself in solitude.

These appearances I too frequently interpreted into grounds of
suspicion, though I might with equal probability and more liberality
have ascribed them to the cruel mortifications he had encountered in the
objects of his darling ambition. Mr. Collins had strongly urged me to
secrecy; and Mr. Falkland, whenever my gesture or his consciousness
impressed him with the idea of my knowing more than I expressed, looked
at me with wistful earnestness, as questioning what was the degree of
information I possessed, and how it was obtained. But again at our next
interview the simple vivacity of my manner restored his tranquillity,
obliterated the emotion of which I had been the cause, and placed
things afresh in their former situation.

The longer this humble familiarity on my part had continued, the more
effort it would require to suppress it; and Mr. Falkland was neither
willing to mortify me by a severe prohibition of speech, nor even
perhaps to make me of so much consequence, as that prohibition might
seem to imply. Though I was curious, it must not be supposed that I had
the object of my enquiry for ever in my mind, or that my questions and
innuendoes were perpetually regulated with the cunning of a grey-headed
inquisitor. The secret wound of Mr. Falkland's mind was much more
uniformly present to his recollection than to mine; and a thousand times
he applied the remarks that occurred in conversation; when I had not the
remotest idea of such an application, till some singularity in his
manner brought it back to my thoughts. The consciousness of this morbid
sensibility, and the imagination that its influence might perhaps
constitute the whole of the case, served probably to spur Mr. Falkland
again to the charge, and connect a sentiment of shame, with every
project that suggested itself for interrupting the freedom of our

I will give a specimen of the conversations to which I allude; and, as
it shall be selected from those which began upon topics the most general
and remote, the reader will easily imagine the disturbance that was
almost daily endured by a mind so tremblingly alive as that of my

"Pray, sir," said I, one day as I was assisting Mr. Falkland in
arranging some papers, previously to their being transcribed into his
collection, "how came Alexander of Macedon to be surnamed the Great?"

"How came it? Did you never read his history?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, Williams, and could you find no reasons there?"

"Why, I do not know, sir. I could find reasons why he should be so
famous; but every man that is talked of is not admired. Judges differ
about the merits of Alexander. Doctor Prideaux says in his Connection,
that he deserves only to be called the Great Cut-throat; and the author
of Tom Jones has written a volume, to prove that he and all other
conquerors ought to be classed with Jonathan Wild."

Mr. Falkland reddened at these citations.

"Accursed blasphemy! Did these authors think that, by the coarseness of
their ribaldry, they could destroy his well-earned fame? Are learning,
sensibility, and taste, no securities to exempt their possessor from
this vulgar abuse? Did you ever read, Williams, of a man more gallant,
generous, and free? Was ever mortal so completely the reverse of every
thing engrossing and selfish? He formed to himself a sublime image of
excellence, and his only ambition was to realise it in his own story.
Remember his giving away every thing when he set out upon his grand
expedition, professedly reserving for himself nothing but hope.
Recollect his heroic confidence in Philip the physician, and his entire
and unalterable friendship for Ephestion. He treated the captive family
of Darius with the most cordial urbanity, and the venerable Sysigambis
with all the tenderness and attention of a son to his mother. Never take
the judgment, Williams, upon such a subject, of a clerical pedant or a
Westminster justice. Examine for yourself, and you will find in
Alexander a model of honour, generosity, and disinterestedness,--a man
who, for the cultivated liberality of his mind, and the unparalleled
grandeur of his projects, must stand alone the spectacle and admiration
of all ages of the world."

"Ah, sir! it is a fine thing for us to sit here and compose his
panegyric. But shall I forget what a vast expense was bestowed in
erecting the monument of his fame? Was not he the common disturber of
mankind? Did not he over-run nations that would never have heard of him
but for his devastations? How many hundred thousands of lives did he
sacrifice in his career? What must I think of his cruelties; a whole
tribe massacred for a crime committed by their ancestors one hundred and
fifty years before; fifty thousand sold into slavery; two thousand
crucified for their gallant defence of their country? Man is surely a
strange sort of creature, who never praises any one more heartily than
him who has spread destruction and ruin over the face of nations!"

"The way of thinking you express, Williams, is natural enough, and I
cannot blame you for it. But let me hope that you will become more
liberal. The death of a hundred thousand men is at first sight very
shocking; but what in reality are a hundred thousand such men, more than
a hundred thousand sheep? It is mind, Williams, the generation of
knowledge and virtue, that we ought to love. This was the project of
Alexander; he set out in a great undertaking to civilise mankind; he
delivered the vast continent of Asia from the stupidity and degradation
of the Persian monarchy: and, though he was cut off in the midst of his
career, we may easily perceive the vast effects of his project. Grecian
literature and cultivation, the Seleucidae, the Antiochuses, and the
Ptolemies followed, in nations which before had been sunk to the
condition of brutes. Alexander was the builder, as notoriously as the
destroyer, of cities."

"And yet, sir, I am afraid that the pike and the battle-axe are not the
right instruments for making men wise. Suppose it were admitted that
the lives of men were to be sacrificed without remorse if a paramount
good were to result, it seems to me as if murder and massacre were but a
very left-handed way of producing civilisation and love. But pray, do
not you think this great hero was a sort of a madman? What now will you
say to his firing the palace of Persepolis, his weeping for other worlds
to conquer, and his marching his whole army over the burning sands of
Libya, merely to visit a temple, and persuade mankind that he was the
son of Jupiter Ammon?"

"Alexander, my boy, has been much misunderstood. Mankind have revenged
themselves upon him by misrepresentation, for having so far eclipsed the
rest of his species. It was necessary to the realising his project, that
he should pass for a god. It was the only way by which he could get a
firm hold upon the veneration of the stupid and bigoted Persians. It was
this, and not a mad vanity, that was the source of his proceeding. And
how much had he to struggle with in this respect, in the unapprehending
obstinacy of some of his Macedonians?"

"Why then, sir, at last Alexander did but employ means that all
politicians profess to use, as well as he. He dragooned men into wisdom,
and cheated them into the pursuit of their own happiness. But what is
worse, sir, this Alexander, in the paroxysm of his headlong rage, spared
neither friend nor foe. You will not pretend to justify the excesses of
his ungovernable passion. It is impossible, sure, that a word can be
said for a man whom a momentary provocation can hurry into the
commission of murders--"

The instant I had uttered these words, I felt what it was that I had
done. There was a magnetical sympathy between me and my patron, so that
their effect was not sooner produced upon him, than my own mind
reproached me with the inhumanity of the allusion. Our confusion was
mutual. The blood forsook at once the transparent complexion of Mr.
Falkland, and then rushed back again with rapidity and fierceness. I
dared not utter a word, lest I should commit a new error, worse than
that into which I had just fallen. After a short, but severe, struggle
to continue the conversation, Mr. Falkland began with trepidation, but
afterwards became calmer:--

"You are not candid--Alexander--You must learn more clemency--Alexander,
I say, does not deserve this rigour. Do you remember his tears, his
remorse, his determined abstinence from food, which he could scarcely be
persuaded to relinquish? Did not that prove acute feeling and a rooted
principle of equity?--Well, well, Alexander was a true and judicious
lover of mankind, and his real merits have been little comprehended."

I know not how to make the state of my mind at that moment accurately
understood. When one idea has got possession of the soul, it is scarcely
possible to keep it from finding its way to the lips. Error, once
committed, has a fascinating power, like that ascribed to the eyes of
the rattlesnake, to draw us into a second error. It deprives us of that
proud confidence in our own strength, to which we are indebted for so
much of our virtue. Curiosity is a restless propensity, and often does
but hurry us forward the more irresistibly, the greater is the danger
that attends its indulgence.

"Clitus," said I, "was a man of very coarse and provoking manners, was
he not?"

Mr. Falkland felt the full force of this appeal. He gave me a
penetrating look, as if he would see my very soul. His eyes were then in
an instant withdrawn. I could perceive him seized with a convulsive
shuddering which, though strongly counteracted, and therefore scarcely
visible, had I know not what of terrible in it. He left his employment,
strode about the room in anger, his visage gradually assumed an
expression as of supernatural barbarity, he quitted the apartment
abruptly, and flung the door with a violence that seemed to shake the

"Is this," said I, "the fruit of conscious guilt, or of the disgust that
a man of honour conceives at guilt undeservedly imputed?"


The reader will feel how rapidly I was advancing to the brink of the
precipice. I had a confused apprehension of what I was doing, but I
could not stop myself. "Is it possible," said I, "that Mr. Falkland, who
is thus overwhelmed with a sense of the unmerited dishonour that has
been fastened upon him in the face of the world, will long endure the
presence of a raw and unfriended youth, who is perpetually bringing back
that dishonour to his recollection, and who seems himself the most
forward to entertain the accusation?"

I felt indeed that Mr. Falkland would not hastily incline to dismiss me,
for the same reason that restrained him from many other actions, which
might seem to savour of a too tender and ambiguous sensibility. But this
reflection was little adapted to comfort me. That he should cherish in
his heart a growing hatred against me, and that he should think himself
obliged to retain me a continual thorn in his side, was an idea by no
means of favourable augury to my future peace.

It was some time after this that, in clearing out a case of drawers, I
found a paper that, by some accident, had slipped behind one of the
drawers, and been overlooked. At another time perhaps my curiosity might
have given way to the laws of decorum, and I should have restored it
unopened to my master, its owner. But my eagerness for information had
been too much stimulated by the preceding incidents, to allow me at
present to neglect any occasion of obtaining it. The paper proved to be
a letter written by the elder Hawkins, and from its contents seemed to
have been penned when he had first been upon the point of absconding
from the persecutions of Mr. Tyrrel. It was as follows:--

"Honourable Sir,

"I have waited some time in daily hope of your honour's return into
these parts. Old Warnes and his dame, who are left to take care of your
house, tell me they cannot say when that will be, nor justly in what
part of England you are at present. For my share, misfortune comes so
thick upon me, that I must determine upon something (that is for
certain), and out of hand. Our squire, who I must own at first used me
kindly enough, though I am afraid that was partly out of spite to squire
Underwood, has since determined to be the ruin of me. Sir, I have been
no craven; I fought it up stoutly; for after all, you know, God bless
your honour! it is but a man to a man; but he has been too much for me.

"Perhaps if I were to ride over to the market-town and enquire of
Munsle, your lawyer, he could tell me how to direct to you. But having
hoped and waited o' this fashion, and all in vain, has put me upon other
thoughts. I was in no hurry, sir, to apply to you; for I do not love to
be a trouble to any body. I kept that for my last stake. Well, sir, and
now that has failed me like, I am ashamed, as it were, to have thought
of it. Have not I, thinks I, arms and legs as well as other people? I am
driven out of house and home. Well, and what then? Sure I arn't a
cabbage, that if you pull it out of the ground it must die. I am
pennyless. True; and how many hundreds are there that live from hand to
mouth all the days of their life? (Begging your honour's pardon) thinks
I, if we little folks had but the wit to do for ourselves, the great
folks would not be such maggotty changelings as they are. They would
begin to look about them.

"But there is another thing that has swayed with me more than all the
rest. I do not know how to tell you, sir,--My poor boy, my Leonard, the
pride of my life, has been three weeks in the county jail. It is true
indeed, sir. Squire Tyrrel put him there. Now, sir, every time that I
lay my head upon my pillow under my own little roof, my heart smites me
with the situation of my Leonard. I do not mean so much for the
hardship; I do not so much matter that. I do not expect him to go
through the world upon velvet! I am not such a fool. But who can tell
what may hap in a jail! I have been three times to see him; and there is
one man in the same quarter of the prison that looks so wicked! I do not
much fancy the looks of the rest. To be sure, Leonard is as good a lad
as ever lived. I think he will not give his mind to such. But come what
will, I am determined he shall not stay among them twelve hours longer.
I am an obstinate old fool perhaps; but I have taken it into my head,
and I will do it. Do not ask me what. But, if I were to write to your
honour, and wait for your answer, it might take a week or ten days more.
I must not think of it!

"Squire Tyrrel is very headstrong, and you, your honour, might be a
little hottish, or so. No, I would not have any body quarrel for me.
There has been mischief enough done already; and I will get myself out
of the way. So I write this, your honour, merely to unload my mind. I
feel myself equally as much bound to respect and love you, as if you had
done every thing for me, that I believe you would have done if things
had chanced differently. It is most likely you will never hear of me any
more. If it should be so, set your worthy heart at rest. I know myself
too well, ever to be tempted to do any thing that is really bad. I have
now my fortune to seek in the world. I have been used ill enough, God
knows. But I bear no malice; my heart is at peace with all mankind; and
I forgive every body. It is like enough that poor Leonard and I may have
hardship enough to undergo, among strangers, and being obliged to hide
ourselves like housebreakers or highwaymen. But I defy all the malice of
fortune to make us do an ill thing. That consolation we will always keep
against all the crosses of a heart-breaking world.

"God bless you!
So prays,
Your honour's humble servant to command,

I read this letter with considerable attention, and it occasioned me
many reflections. To my way of thinking it contained a very interesting
picture of a blunt, downright, honest mind. "It is a melancholy
consideration," said I to myself; "but such is man! To have judged from
appearances one would have said, this is a fellow to have taken
fortune's buffets and rewards with an incorruptible mind. And yet see
where it all ends! This man was capable of afterwards becoming a
murderer, and finished his life at the gallows. O poverty! thou art
indeed omnipotent! Thou grindest us into desperation; thou confoundest
all our boasted and most deep-rooted principles; thou fillest us to the
very brim with malice and revenge, and renderest us capable of acts of
unknown horror! May I never be visited by thee in the fulness of thy

Having satisfied my curiosity with respect to this paper, I took care to
dispose of it in such a manner as that it should be found by Mr.
Falkland; at the same time that, in obedience to the principle which at
present governed me with absolute dominion, I was willing that the way
in which it offered itself to his attention should suggest to him the
idea that it had possibly passed through my hands. The next morning I
saw him, and I exerted myself to lead the conversation, which by this
time I well knew how to introduce, by insensible degrees to the point I
desired. After several previous questions, remarks, and rejoinders, I

"Well, sir, after all, I cannot help feeling very uncomfortably as to my
ideas of human nature, when I find that there is no dependence to be
placed upon its perseverance, and that, at least among the illiterate,
the most promising appearances may end in the foulest disgrace."

"You think, then, that literature and a cultivated mind are the only
assurance for the constancy of our principles!"

"Humph!--why do you suppose, sir, that learning and ingenuity do not
often serve people rather to hide their crimes than to restrain them
from committing them? History tells us strange things in that respect."

"Williams," said Mr. Falkland, a little disturbed, "you are extremely
given to censure and severity."

"I hope not. I am sure I am most fond of looking on the other side of
the picture, and considering how many men have been aspersed, and even
at some time or other almost torn to pieces by their fellow-creatures,
whom, when properly understood, we find worthy of our reverence and

"Indeed," replied Mr. Falkland, with a sigh, "when I consider these
things I do not wonder at the dying exclamation of Brutus, 'O Virtue, I
sought thee as a substance, but I find thee an empty name!' I am too
much inclined to be of his opinion."

"Why, to be sure, sir, innocence and guilt are too much confounded in
human life. I remember an affecting story of a poor man in the reign of
Queen Elizabeth, who would have infallibly been hanged for murder upon
the strength of circumstantial evidence, if the person really concerned
had not been himself upon the jury and prevented it."

In saying this I touched the spring that wakened madness in his mind. He
came up to me with a ferocious countenance, as if determined to force me
into a confession of my thoughts. A sudden pang however seemed to change
his design! he drew back with trepidation, and exclaimed, "Detested be
the universe, and the laws that govern it! Honour, justice, virtue, are
all the juggle of knaves! If it were in my power I would instantly crush
the whole system into nothing!"

I replied; "Oh, sir! things are not so bad as you imagine. The world was
made for men of sense to do what they will with. Its affairs cannot be
better than in the direction of the genuine heroes; and as in the end
they will be found the truest friends of the whole, so the multitude
have nothing to do but to look on, be fashioned, and admire."

Mr. Falkland made a powerful effort to recover his tranquillity.
"Williams," said he, "you instruct me well. You have a right notion of
things, and I have great hopes of you. I will be more of a man; I will
forget the past, and do better for the time to come. The future, the
future is always our own."

"I am sorry, sir, that I have given you pain. I am afraid to say all
that I think. But it is my opinion that mistakes will ultimately be
cleared up, justice done, and the true state of things come to light, in
spite of the false colours that may for a time obscure it."

The idea I suggested did not give Mr. Falkland the proper degree of
delight. He suffered a temporary relapse. "Justice!"--he muttered. "I do
not know what is justice. My case is not within the reach of common
remedies; perhaps of none. I only know that I am miserable. I began life
with the best intentions and the most fervid philanthropy; and here I
am--miserable--miserable beyond expression or endurance."

Having said this, he seemed suddenly to recollect himself, and
re-assumed his accustomed dignity and command. "How came this
conversation?" cried he. "Who gave you a right to be my confidant? Base,
artful wretch that you are! learn to be more respectful! Are my passions
to be wound and unwound by an insolent domestic? Do you think I will be
an instrument to be played on at your pleasure, till you have extorted
all the treasures of my soul? Begone, and fear lest you be made to pay
for the temerity you have already committed!"

There was an energy and determination in the gestures with which these
words were accompanied, that did not admit of their being disputed. My
mouth was closed; I felt as if deprived of all share of activity, and
was only able silently and passively to quit the apartment.


Two days subsequent to this conversation, Mr. Falkland ordered me to be
called to him. [I shall continue to speak in my narrative of the silent,
as well as the articulate part of the intercourse between us. His
countenance was habitually animated and expressive, much beyond that of
any other man I have seen. The curiosity which, as I have said,
constituted my ruling passion, stimulated me to make it my perpetual
study. It will also most probably happen, while I am thus employed in
collecting the scattered incidents of my history, that I shall upon some
occasions annex to appearances an explanation which I was far from
possessing at the time, and was only suggested to me through the medium
of subsequent events.]

When I entered the apartment, I remarked in Mr. Falkland's countenance
an unwonted composure. This composure however did not seem to result
from internal ease, but from an effort which, while he prepared himself
for an interesting scene, was exerted to prevent his presence of mind,
and power of voluntary action, from suffering any diminution.

"Williams," said he, "I am determined, whatever it may cost me, to have
an explanation with you. You are a rash and inconsiderate boy, and have
given me much disturbance. You ought to have known that, though I allow
you to talk with me upon indifferent subjects, it is very improper in
you to lead the conversation to any thing that relates to my personal
concerns. You have said many things lately in a very mysterious way, and
appear to know something more than I am aware of. I am equally at a loss
to guess how you came by your knowledge, as of what it consists. But I
think I perceive too much inclination on your part to trifle with my
peace of mind. That ought not to be, nor have I deserved any such
treatment from you. But, be that as it will, the guesses in which you
oblige me to employ myself are too painful. It is a sort of sporting
with my feelings, which, as a man of resolution, I am determined to
bring to an end. I expect you therefore to lay aside all mystery and
equivocation, and inform me explicitly what it is upon which your
allusions are built. What is it you know? What is it you want? I have
been too much exposed already to unparalleled mortification and
hardship, and my wounds will not bear this perpetual tampering."

"I feel, sir," answered I, "how wrong I have been, and am ashamed that
such a one as I should have given you all this trouble and displeasure.
I felt it at the time; but I have been hurried along, I do not know how.
I have always tried to stop myself, but the demon that possessed me was
too strong for me. I know nothing, sir, but what Mr. Collins told me. He
told me the story of Mr. Tyrrel and Miss Melville and Hawkins. I am
sure, sir, he said nothing but what was to your honour, and proved you
to be more an angel than a man."

"Well, sir: I found a letter written by that Hawkins the other day; did
not that letter fall into your hands? Did not you read it?"

"For God's sake, sir, turn me out of your house. Punish me in some way
or other, that I may forgive myself. I am a foolish, wicked, despicable
wretch. I confess, sir, I did read the letter."

"And how dared you read it? It was indeed very wrong of you. But we will
talk of that by and by. Well, and what did you say to the letter? You
know it seems, that Hawkins was hanged."

"I say, sir? why it went to my heart to read it. I say, as I said the
day before yesterday, that when I see a man of so much principle
afterwards deliberately proceeding to the very worst of crimes, I can
scarcely bear to think of it."

"That is what you say? It seems too you know--accursed
remembrance!--that I was accused of this crime?"

I was silent.

"Well, sir. You know too, perhaps, that from the hour the crime was
committed--yes, sir, that was the date [and as he said this, there was
somewhat frightful, I had almost said diabolical, in his countenance]--I
have not had an hour's peace; I became changed from the happiest to the
most miserable thing that lives; sleep has fled from my eyes; joy has
been a stranger to my thoughts; and annihilation I should prefer a
thousand times to the being that I am. As soon as I was capable of a
choice, I chose honour and the esteem of mankind as a good I preferred
to all others. You know, it seems, in how many ways my ambition has been
disappointed,--I do not thank Collins for having been the historian of
my disgrace,--would to God that night could be blotted from the memory
of man!--But the scene of that night, instead of perishing, has been a
source of ever new calamity to me, which must flow for ever! Am I then,
thus miserable and ruined, a proper subject upon which for you to
exercise your ingenuity, and improve your power of tormenting? Was it
not enough that I was publicly dishonoured? that I was deprived, by the
pestilential influence of some demon, of the opportunity of avenging my
dishonour? No: in addition to this, I have been charged with having in
this critical moment intercepted my own vengeance by the foulest of
crimes. That trial is past. Misery itself has nothing worse in store for
me, except what you have inflicted: the seeming to doubt of my
innocence, which, after the fullest and most solemn examination, has
been completely established. You have forced me to this explanation. You
have extorted from me a confidence which I had no inclination to make.
But it is a part of the misery of my situation, that I am at the mercy
of every creature, however little, who feels himself inclined to sport
with my distress. Be content. You have brought me low enough."

"Oh, sir, I am not content; I cannot be content! I cannot bear to think
what I have done. I shall never again be able to look in the face of the
best of masters and the best of men. I beg of you, sir, to turn me out
of your service. Let me go and hide myself where I may never see you

Mr. Falkland's countenance had indicated great severity through the
whole of this conversation; but now it became more harsh and tempestuous
than ever. "How now, rascal!" cried he. "You want to leave me, do you?
Who told you that I wished to part with you? But you cannot bear to live
with such a miserable wretch as I am! You are not disposed to put up
with the caprices of a man so dissatisfied and unjust!"

"Oh, sir! do not talk to me thus! Do with me any thing you will. Kill me
if you please."

"Kill you!" [Volumes could not describe the emotions with which this
echo of my words was given and received.]

"Sir, I could die to serve you! I love you more than I can express. I
worship you as a being of a superior nature. I am foolish, raw,
inexperienced,--worse than any of these;--but never did a thought of
disloyalty to your service enter into my heart."

Here our conversation ended; and the impression it made upon my youthful
mind it is impossible to describe. I thought with astonishment, even
with rapture, of the attention and kindness towards me I discovered in
Mr. Falkland, through all the roughness of his manner. I could never
enough wonder at finding myself, humble as I was by my birth, obscure as
I had hitherto been, thus suddenly become of so much importance to the
happiness of one of the most enlightened and accomplished men in
England. But this consciousness attached me to my patron more eagerly
than ever, and made me swear a thousand times, as I meditated upon my
situation, that I would never prove unworthy of so generous a protector.


Is it not unaccountable that, in the midst of all my increased
veneration for my patron, the first tumult of my emotion was scarcely
subsided, before the old question that had excited my conjectures
recurred to my mind, Was he the murderer? It was a kind of fatal
impulse, that seemed destined to hurry me to my destruction. I did not
wonder at the disturbance that was given to Mr. Falkland by any
allusion, however distant, to this fatal affair. That was as completely
accounted for from the consideration of his excessive sensibility in
matters of honour, as it would have been upon the supposition of the
most atrocious guilt. Knowing, as he did, that such a charge had once
been connected with his name, he would of course be perpetually uneasy,
and suspect some latent insinuation at every possible opportunity. He
would doubt and fear, lest every man with whom he conversed harboured
the foulest suspicion against him. In my case he found that I was in
possession of some information, more than he was aware of, without its
being possible for him to decide to what it amounted, whether I had
heard a just or unjust, a candid or calumniatory tale. He had also
reason to suppose that I gave entertainment to thoughts derogatory to
his honour, and that I did not form that favourable judgment, which the
exquisite refinement of his ruling passion made indispensable to his
peace. All these considerations would of course maintain in him a state
of perpetual uneasiness. But, though I could find nothing that I could
consider as justifying me in persisting in the shadow of a doubt, yet,
as I have said, the uncertainty and restlessness of my contemplations
would by no means depart from me.

The fluctuating state of my mind produced a contention of opposite
principles, that by turns usurped dominion over my conduct. Sometimes I
was influenced by the most complete veneration for my master; I placed
an unreserved confidence in his integrity and his virtue, and implicitly
surrendered my understanding for him to set it to what point he pleased.
At other times the confidence, which had before flowed with the most
plenteous tide, began to ebb; I was, as I had already been, watchful,
inquisitive, suspicious, full of a thousand conjectures as to the
meaning of the most indifferent actions. Mr. Falkland, who was most
painfully alive to every thing that related to his honour, saw these
variations, and betrayed his consciousness of them now in one manner,
and now in another, frequently before I was myself aware, sometimes
almost before they existed. The situation of both was distressing; we
were each of us a plague to the other; and I often wondered, that the
forbearance and benignity of my master was not at length exhausted, and
that he did not determine to thrust from him for ever so incessant an
observer. There was indeed one eminent difference between his share in
the transaction and mine. I had some consolation in the midst of my
restlessness. Curiosity is a principle that carries its pleasures, as
well as its pains, along with it. The mind is urged by a perpetual
stimulus; it seems as if it were continually approaching to the end of
its race; and as the insatiable desire of satisfaction is its principle
of conduct, so it promises itself in that satisfaction an unknown
gratification, which seems as if it were capable of fully compensating
any injuries that may be suffered in the career. But to Mr. Falkland
there was no consolation. What he endured in the intercourse between us
appeared to be gratuitous evil. He had only to wish that there was no
such person as myself in the world, and to curse the hour when his
humanity led him to rescue me from my obscurity, and place me in his

A consequence produced upon me by the extraordinary nature of my
situation it is necessary to mention. The constant state of vigilance
and suspicion in which my mind was retained, worked a very rapid change
in my character. It seemed to have all the effect that might have been
expected from years of observation and experience. The strictness with
which I endeavoured to remark what passed in the mind of one man, and
the variety of conjectures into which I was led, appeared, as it were,
to render me a competent adept in the different modes in which the
human intellect displays its secret workings. I no longer said to
myself, as I had done in the beginning, "I will ask Mr. Falkland whether
he were the murderer." On the contrary, after having carefully examined
the different kinds of evidence of which the subject was susceptible,
and recollecting all that had already passed upon the subject, it was
not without considerable pain, that I felt myself unable to discover any
way in which I could be perfectly and unalterably satisfied of my
patron's innocence. As to his guilt, I could scarcely bring myself to
doubt that in some way or other, sooner or later, I should arrive at the
knowledge of that, if it really existed. But I could not endure to
think, almost for a moment, of that side of the alternative as true; and
with all my ungovernable suspicion arising from the mysteriousness of
the circumstances, and all the delight which a young and unfledged mind
receives from ideas that give scope to all that imagination can picture
of terrible or sublime, I could not yet bring myself to consider Mr.
Falkland's guilt as a supposition attended with the remotest

I hope the reader will forgive me for dwelling thus long on preliminary
circumstances. I shall come soon enough to the story of my own misery. I
have already said, that one of the motives which induced me to the
penning of this narrative, was to console myself in my insupportable
distress. I derive a melancholy pleasure from dwelling upon the
circumstances which imperceptibly paved the way to my ruin. While I
recollect or describe past scenes, which occurred in a more favourable
period of my life, my attention is called off for a short interval, from
the hopeless misfortune in which I am at present involved. The man must
indeed possess an uncommon portion of hardness of heart, who can envy
me so slight a relief.--To proceed.

For some time after the explanation which had thus taken place between
me and Mr. Falkland, his melancholy, instead of being in the slightest
degree diminished by the lenient hand of time, went on perpetually to
increase. His fits of insanity--for such I must denominate them for want
of a distinct appellation, though it is possible they might not fall
under the definition that either the faculty or the court of chancery
appropriate to the term--became stronger and more durable than ever. It
was no longer practicable wholly to conceal them from the family, and
even from the neighbourhood. He would sometimes, without any previous
notice, absent himself from his house for two or three days,
unaccompanied by servant or attendant. This was the more extraordinary,
as it was well known that he paid no visits, nor kept up any sort of
intercourse with the gentlemen of the vicinity. But it was impossible
that a man of Mr. Falkland's distinction and fortune should long
continue in such a practice, without its being discovered what was
become of him; though a considerable part of our county was among the
wildest and most desolate districts that are to be found in South
Britain. Mr. Falkland was sometimes seen climbing among the rocks,
reclining motionless for hours together upon the edge of a precipice, or
lulled into a kind of nameless lethargy of despair by the dashing of the
torrents. He would remain for whole nights together under the naked cope
of heaven, inattentive to the consideration either of place or time;
insensible to the variations of the weather, or rather seeming to be
delighted with that uproar of the elements, which partially called off
his attention from the discord and dejection that occupied his own mind.

At first, when we received intelligence at any time of the place to
which Mr. Falkland had withdrawn himself, some person of his household,
Mr. Collins or myself, but most generally myself, as I was always at
home, and always, in the received sense of the word, at leisure, went to
him to persuade him to return. But, after a few experiments, we thought
it advisable to desist, and leave him to prolong his absence, or to
terminate it, as might happen to suit his own inclination. Mr. Collins,
whose grey hairs and long services seemed to give him a sort of right to
be importunate, sometimes succeeded; though even in that case there was
nothing that could sit more uneasily upon Mr. Falkland than this
insinuation as if he wanted a guardian to take care of him, or as if he
were in, or in danger of falling into, a state in which he would be
incapable of deliberately controlling his own words and actions. At one
time he would suddenly yield to his humble, venerable friend, murmuring
grievously at the constraint that was put upon him, but without spirit
enough even to complain of it with energy. At another time, even though
complying, he would suddenly burst out in a paroxysm of resentment. Upon
these occasions there was something inconceivably, savagely terrible in
his anger, that gave to the person against whom it was directed the most
humiliating and insupportable sensations. Me he always treated, at these
times, with fierceness, and drove me from him with a vehemence lofty,
emphatical, and sustained, beyond any thing of which I should have
thought human nature to be capable. These sallies seemed always to
constitute a sort of crisis in his indisposition; and, whenever he was
induced to such a premature return, he would fall immediately after into
a state of the most melancholy inactivity, in which he usually continued
for two or three days. It was by an obstinate fatality that, whenever I
saw Mr. Falkland in these deplorable situations, and particularly when I
lighted upon him after having sought him among the rocks and precipices,
pale, emaciated, solitary, and haggard, the suggestion would continually
recur to me, in spite of inclination, in spite of persuasion, and in
spite of evidence, Surely this man is a murderer!


It was in one of the lucid intervals, as I may term them, that occurred
during this period, that a peasant was brought before him, in his
character of a justice of peace, upon an accusation of having murdered
his fellow. As Mr. Falkland had by this time acquired the repute of a
melancholy valetudinarian, it is probable he would not have been called
upon to act in his official character upon the present occasion, had it
not been that two or three of the neighbouring justices were all of them
from home at once, so that he was the only one to be found in a circuit
of many miles. The reader however must not imagine, though I have
employed the word insanity in describing Mr. Falkland's symptoms, that
he was by any means reckoned for a madman by the generality of those who
had occasion to observe him. It is true that his behaviour, at certain
times, was singular and unaccountable; but then, at other times, there
was in it so much dignity, regularity, and economy; he knew so well how
to command and make himself respected; his actions and carriage were so
condescending, considerate, and benevolent, that, far from having
forfeited the esteem of the unfortunate or the many, they were loud and
earnest in his praises.

I was present at the examination of this peasant. The moment I heard of
the errand which had brought this rabble of visitors, a sudden thought
struck me. I conceived the possibility of rendering the incident
subordinate to the great enquiry which drank up all the currents of my
soul. I said, this man is arraigned of murder, and murder is the
master-key that wakes distemper in the mind of Mr. Falkland. I will
watch him without remission. I will trace all the mazes of his thought.
Surely at such a time his secret anguish must betray itself. Surely, if
it be not my own fault, I shall now be able to discover the state of his
plea before the tribunal of unerring justice.

I took my station in a manner most favourable to the object upon which
my mind was intent. I could perceive in Mr. Falkland's features, as he
entered, a strong reluctance to the business in which he was engaged;
but there was no possibility of retreating. His countenance was
embarrassed and anxious; he scarcely saw any body. The examination had
not proceeded far, before he chanced to turn his eye to the part of the
room where I was. It happened in this as in some preceding instances--we
exchanged a silent look, by which we told volumes to each other. Mr.
Falkland's complexion turned from red to pale, and from pale to red. I
perfectly understood his feelings, and would willingly have withdrawn
myself. But it was impossible; my passions were too deeply engaged; I
was rooted to the spot; though my own life, that of my master, or almost
of a whole nation had been at stake, I had no power to change my

The first surprise however having subsided, Mr. Falkland assumed a look
of determined constancy, and even seemed to increase in self-possession
much beyond what could have been expected from his first entrance. This
he could probably have maintained, had it not been that the scene,
instead of being permanent, was in some sort perpetually changing. The
man who was brought before him was vehemently accused by the brother of
the deceased as having acted from the most rooted malice. He swore that
there had been an old grudge between the parties, and related several
instances of it. He affirmed that the murderer had sought the earliest
opportunity of wreaking his revenge; had struck the first blow; and,
though the contest was in appearance only a common boxing match, had
watched the occasion of giving a fatal stroke, which was followed by the
instant death of his antagonist.

While the accuser was giving in his evidence, the accused discovered
every token of the most poignant sensibility. At one time his features
were convulsed with anguish; tears unbidden trickled down his manly
cheeks; and at another he started with apparent astonishment at the
unfavourable turn that was given to the narrative, though without
betraying any impatience to interrupt. I never saw a man less ferocious
in his appearance. He was tall, well made, and comely. His countenance
was ingenuous and benevolent, without folly. By his side stood a young
woman, his sweetheart, extremely agreeable in her person, and her looks
testifying how deeply she interested herself in the fate of her lover.
The accidental spectators were divided, between indignation against the
enormity of the supposed criminal, and compassion for the poor girl that
accompanied him. They seemed to take little notice of the favourable
appearances visible in the person of the accused, till, in the sequel,
those appearances were more forcibly suggested to their attention. For
Mr. Falkland, he was at one moment engrossed by curiosity and
earnestness to investigate the tale, while at another he betrayed a sort
of revulsion of sentiment, which made the investigation too painful for
him to support.

When the accused was called upon for his defence, he readily owned the
misunderstanding that had existed, and that the deceased was the worst
enemy he had in the world. Indeed he was his only enemy, and he could
not tell the reason that had made him so. He had employed every effort
to overcome his animosity, but in vain. The deceased had upon all
occasions sought to mortify him, and do him an ill turn; but he had
resolved never to be engaged in a broil with him, and till this day he
had succeeded. If he had met with a misfortune with any other man,
people at least might have thought it accident; but now it would always
be believed that he had acted from secret malice and a bad heart.

The fact was, that he and his sweetheart had gone to a neighbouring
fair, where this man had met them. The man had often tried to affront
him; and his passiveness, interpreted into cowardice, had perhaps
encouraged the other to additional rudeness. Finding that he had endured
trivial insults to himself with an even temper, the deceased now thought
proper to turn his brutality upon the young woman that accompanied him.
He pursued them; he endeavoured in various manners to harass and vex
them; they had sought in vain to shake him off. The young woman was
considerably terrified. The accused expostulated with their persecutor,
and asked him how he could be so barbarous as to persist in frightening
a woman? He replied with an insulting tone, "Then the woman should find
some one able to protect her; people that encouraged and trusted to such
a thief as that, deserved no better!" The accused tried every expedient
he could invent; at length he could endure it no longer; he became
exasperated, and challenged the assailant. The challenge was accepted; a
ring was formed; he confided the care of his sweetheart to a bystander;
and unfortunately the first blow he struck proved fatal.

The accused added, that he did not care what became of him. He had been
anxious to go through the world in an inoffensive manner, and now he had
the guilt of blood upon him. He did not know but it would be kindness in
them to hang him out of the way; for his conscience would reproach him
as long as he lived, and the figure of the deceased, as he had lain
senseless and without motion at his feet, would perpetually haunt him.
The thought of this man, at one moment full of life and vigour, and the
next lifted a helpless corpse from the ground, and all owing to him, was
a thought too dreadful to be endured. He had loved the poor maiden, who
had been the innocent occasion of this, with all his heart; but from
this time he should never support the sight of her. The sight would
bring a tribe of fiends in its rear. One unlucky minute had poisoned all
his hopes, and made life a burden to him. Saying this, his countenance
fell, the muscles of his face trembled with agony, and he looked the
statue of despair.

This was the story of which Mr. Falkland was called upon to be the
auditor. Though the incidents were, for the most part, wide of those
which belonged to the adventures of the preceding volume, and there had
been much less policy and skill displayed on either part in this rustic
encounter, yet there were many points which, to a man who bore the
former strongly in his recollection, suggested a sufficient resemblance.
In each case it was a human brute persisting in a course of hostility to
a man of benevolent character, and suddenly and terribly cut off in the
midst of his career. These points perpetually smote upon the heart of
Mr. Falkland. He at one time started with astonishment, and at another
shifted his posture, like a man who is unable longer to endure the
sensations that press upon him. Then he new strung his nerves to
stubborn patience. I could see, while his muscles preserved an
inflexible steadiness, tears of anguish roll down his cheeks. He dared
not trust his eyes to glance towards the side of the room where I stood;
and this gave an air of embarrassment to his whole figure. But when the
accused came to speak of his feelings, to describe the depth of his
compunction for an involuntary fault, he could endure it no longer. He
suddenly rose, and with every mark of horror and despair rushed out of
the room.

This circumstance made no material difference in the affair of the
accused. The parties were detained about half an hour. Mr. Falkland had
already heard the material parts of the evidence in person. At the
expiration of that interval, he sent for Mr. Collins out of the room.
The story of the culprit was confirmed by many witnesses who had seen
the transaction. Word was brought that my master was indisposed; and, at
the same time, the accused was ordered to be discharged. The vengeance
of the brother however, as I afterwards found, did not rest here, and he
met with a magistrate, more scrupulous or more despotic, by whom the
culprit was committed for trial.

This affair was no sooner concluded, than I hastened into the garden,
and plunged into the deepest of its thickets. My mind was full, almost
to bursting. I no sooner conceived myself sufficiently removed from all
observation, than my thoughts forced their way spontaneously to my
tongue, and I exclaimed, in a fit of uncontrollable enthusiasm, "This is
the murderer; the Hawkinses were innocent! I am sure of it! I will
pledge my life for it! It is out! It is discovered! Guilty, upon my

While I thus proceeded with hasty steps along the most secret paths of
the garden, and from time to time gave vent to the tumult of my thoughts
in involuntary exclamations, I felt as if my animal system had undergone
a total revolution. My blood boiled within me. I was conscious to a kind
of rapture for which I could not account. I was solemn, yet full of
rapid emotion, burning with indignation and energy. In the very tempest
and hurricane of the passions, I seemed to enjoy the most soul-ravishing
calm. I cannot better express the then state of my mind than by saying,
I was never so perfectly alive as at that moment.

This state of mental elevation continued for several hours, but at
length subsided, and gave place to more deliberate reflection. One of
the first questions that then occurred was, what shall I do with the
knowledge I have been so eager to acquire? I had no inclination to turn
informer. I felt what I had had no previous conception of, that it was
possible to love a murderer, and, as I then understood it, the worst of
murderers. 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.

This thought led me to another, which had at first passed unnoticed. If
I had been disposed to turn informer, what had occurred amounted to no
evidence that was admissible in a court of justice. Well then, added I,
if it be such as would not be admitted at a criminal tribunal, am I sure
it is such as I ought to admit? There were twenty persons besides myself
present at the scene from which I pretend to derive such entire
conviction. Not one of them saw it in the light that I did. It either
appeared to them a casual and unimportant circumstance, or they thought
it sufficiently accounted for by Mr. Falkland's infirmity and
misfortunes. Did it really contain such an extent of arguments and
application, that nobody but I was discerning enough to see?

But all this reasoning produced no alteration in my way of thinking. For
this time I could not get it out of my mind for a moment: "Mr. Falkland
is the murderer! He is guilty! I see it! I feel it! I am sure of it!"
Thus was I hurried along by an uncontrollable destiny. The state of my
passions in their progressive career, the inquisitiveness and impatience
of my thoughts, appeared to make this determination unavoidable.

An incident occurred while I was in the garden, that seemed to make no
impression upon me at the time, but which I recollected when my thoughts
were got into somewhat of a slower motion. In the midst of one of my
paroxysms of exclamation, and when I thought myself most alone, the
shadow of a man as avoiding me passed transiently by me at a small
distance. Though I had scarcely caught a faint glimpse of his person,
there was something in the occurrence that persuaded me it was Mr.
Falkland. I shuddered at the possibility of his having overheard the
words of my soliloquy. But this idea, alarming as it was, had not power
immediately to suspend the career of my reflections. Subsequent
circumstances however brought back the apprehension to my mind. I had
scarcely a doubt of its reality, when dinner-time came, and Mr. Falkland
was not to be found. Supper and bed-time passed in the same manner. The
only conclusion made by his servants upon this circumstance was, that he
was gone upon one of his accustomed melancholy rambles.


The period at which my story is now arrived seemed as if it were the
very crisis of the fortune of Mr. Falkland. Incident followed upon
incident, in a kind of breathless succession. About nine o'clock the
next morning an alarm was given, that one of the chimneys of the house
was on fire. No accident could be apparently more trivial; but presently
it blazed with such fury, as to make it clear that some beam of the
house, which in the first building had been improperly placed, had been
reached by the flames. Some danger was apprehended for the whole
edifice. The confusion was the greater, in consequence of the absence of
the master, as well as of Mr. Collins, the steward. While some of the
domestics were employed in endeavouring to extinguish the flames, it was
thought proper that others should busy themselves in removing the most
valuable moveables to a lawn in the garden. I took some command in the
affair, to which indeed my station in the family seemed to entitle me,
and for which I was judged qualified by my understanding and mental

Having given some general directions, I conceived, that it was not
enough to stand by and superintend, but that I should contribute my
personal labour in the public concern. I set out for that purpose; and
my steps, by some mysterious fatality, were directed to the private
apartment at the end of the library. Here, as I looked round, my eye was
suddenly caught by the trunk mentioned in the first pages of my

My mind was already raised to its utmost pitch. In a window-seat of the
room lay a number of chisels and other carpenter's tools. I know not
what infatuation instantaneously seized me. The idea was too powerful to
be resisted. I forgot the business upon which I came, the employment of
the servants, and the urgency of general danger. I should have done the
same if the flames that seemed to extend as they proceeded, and already
surmounted the house, had reached this very apartment. I snatched a tool
suitable for the purpose, threw myself upon the ground, and applied with
eagerness to a magazine which inclosed all for which my heart panted.
After two or three efforts, in which the energy of uncontrollable
passion was added to my bodily strength, the fastenings gave way, the
trunk opened, and all that I sought was at once within my reach.

I was in the act of lifting up the lid, when Mr. Falkland entered, wild,
breathless, distracted in his looks! He had been brought home from a
considerable distance by the sight of the flames. At the moment of his
appearance the lid dropped down from my hand. He no sooner saw me than
his eyes emitted sparks of rage. He ran with eagerness to a brace of
loaded pistols which hung in the room, and, seizing one, presented it to
my head. I saw his design, and sprang to avoid it; but, with the same
rapidity with which he had formed his resolution, he changed it, and
instantly went to the window, and flung the pistol into the court below.
He bade me begone with his usual irresistible energy; and, overcome as
I was already by the horror of the detection, I eagerly complied.

A moment after, a considerable part of the chimney tumbled with noise
into the court below, and a voice exclaimed that the fire was more
violent than ever. These circumstances seemed to produce a mechanical
effect upon my patron, who, having first locked the closet, appeared on
the outside of the house, ascended the roof, and was in a moment in
every place where his presence was required. The flames were at length

The reader can with difficulty form a conception of the state to which I
was now reduced. My act was in some sort an act of insanity; but how
undescribable are the feelings with which I looked back upon it! It was
an instantaneous impulse, a short-lived and passing alienation of mind;
but what must Mr. Falkland think of that alienation? To any man a person
who had once shown himself capable of so wild a flight of the mind, must
appear dangerous: how must he appear to a man under Mr. Falkland's
circumstances? I had just had a pistol held to my head, by a man
resolved to put a period to my existence. That indeed was past; but what
was it that fate had yet in reserve for me! The insatiable vengeance of
a Falkland, of a man whose hands were, to my apprehension, red with
blood, and his thoughts familiar with cruelty and murder. How great were
the resources of his mind, resources henceforth to be confederated for
my destruction! This was the termination of an ungoverned curiosity, an
impulse that I had represented to myself as so innocent or so venial.

In the high tide of boiling passion I had overlooked all consequences.
It now appeared to me like a dream. Is it in man to leap from the
high-raised precipice, or rush unconcerned into the midst of flames? Was
it possible I could have forgotten for a moment the awe-creating manners
of Falkland, and the inexorable fury I should awake in his soul? No
thought of future security had reached my mind. I had acted upon no
plan. I had conceived no means of concealing my deed, after it had once
been effected. But it was over now. One short minute had effected a
reverse in my situation, the suddenness of which the history of man,
perhaps is unable to surpass.

Book of the day: