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Caleb Williams by William Godwin

Part 6 out of 7

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"Let me go!" said she. "Why do you hold me? I will not be held."

"I wanted you gone from the first," replied I.

"Are you contented to go now?"

"Yes, I tell you, misbegotten villain! Yes, rascal!"

I immediately loosed my hold. She flew to the door, and, holding it in
her hand, said, "I will be the death of you yet: you shall not be your
own man twenty-four hours longer!" With these words she shut the door,
and locked it upon me. An action so totally unexpected startled me.
Whither was she gone? What was it she intended? To perish by the
machinations of such a hag as this was a thought not to be endured.
Death in any form brought upon us by surprise, and for which the mind
has had no time to prepare, is inexpressibly terrible. My thoughts
wandered in breathless horror and confusion, and all within was uproar.
I endeavoured to break the door, but in vain. I went round the room in
search of some tool to assist me. At length I rushed against it with a
desperate effort, to which it yielded, and had nearly thrown me from the
top of the stairs to the bottom.

I descended with all possible caution and vigilance, I entered the room
which served us for a kitchen, but it was deserted. I searched every
other apartment in vain. I went out among the ruins; still I discovered
nothing of my late assailant. It was extraordinaiy: what could be become
of her? what was I to conclude from her disappearance! I reflected on
her parting menace,--"I should not be my own man twenty-four hours
longer." It was mysterious! it did not seem to be the menace of
assassination. Suddenly the recollection of the hand-bill brought to us
by Larkins rushed upon my memory. Was it possible that she alluded to
that in her parting words? Would she set out upon such an expedition by
herself? Was it not dangerous to the whole fraternity if, without the
smallest precaution, she should bring the officers of justice in the
midst of them? It was perhaps improbable she would engage in an
undertaking thus desperate. It was not however easy to answer for the
conduct of a person in her state of mind. Should I wait, and risk the
preservation of my liberty upon the issue?

To this question I returned an immediate negative. I had resolved in a
short time to quit my present situation, and the difference of a little
sooner or a little later could not be very material. It promised to be
neither agreeable nor prudent for me to remain under the same roof with
a person who had manifested such a fierce and inexpiable hostility. But
the consideration which had inexpressibly the most weight with me,
belonged to the ideas of imprisonment, trial, and death. The longer they
had formed the subject of my contemplation, the more forcibly was I
impelled to avoid them. I had entered upon a system of action for that
purpose; I had already made many sacrifices; and I believed that I would
never miscarry in this project through any neglect of mine. The thought
of what was reserved for me by my persecutors sickened my very soul; and
the more intimately I was acquainted with oppression and injustice, the
more deeply was I penetrated with the abhorrence to which they are

Such were the reasons that determined me instantly, abruptly, without
leave-taking, or acknowledgment for the peculiar and repeated favours I
had received, to quit a habitation to which, for six weeks, I had
apparently been indebted for protection from trial, conviction, and an
ignominious death. I had come hither pennyless; I quitted my abode with
the sum of a few guineas in my possession, Mr. Raymond having insisted
upon my taking a share at the time that each man received his dividend
from the common stock. Though I had reason to suppose that the heat of
the pursuit against me would be somewhat remitted by the time that had
elapsed, the magnitude of the mischief that, in an unfavourable event,
might fall on me, determined me to neglect no imaginable precaution. I
recollected the hand-bill which was the source of my present alarm, and
conceived that one of the principal dangers which threatened me was the
recognition of my person, either by such as had previously known me, or
even by strangers. It seemed prudent therefore to disguise it as
effectually as I could. For this purpose I had recourse to a parcel of
tattered garments, that lay in a neglected corner of our habitation. The
disguise I chose was that of a beggar. Upon this plan, I threw off my
shirt; I tied a handkerchief about my head, with which I took care to
cover one of my eyes; over this I drew a piece of an old woollen
nightcap. I selected the worst apparel I could find; and this I reduced
to a still more deplorable condition, by rents that I purposely made in
various places. Thus equipped, I surveyed myself in a looking-glass. I
had rendered my appearance complete; nor would any one have suspected
that I was not one of the fraternity to which I assumed to belong. I
said, "This is the form in which tyranny and injustice oblige me to seek
for refuge: but better, a thousand times better is it, thus to incur
contempt with the dregs of mankind, than trust to the tender mercies of
our superiors!"


The only rule that I laid down to myself in traversing the forest, was
to take a direction as opposite as possible to that which led to the
scene of my late imprisonment. After about two hours walking I arrived
at the termination of this ruder scene, and reached that part of the
country which is inclosed and cultivated. Here I sat down by the side of
a brook, and, pulling out a crust of bread which I had brought away with
me, rested and refreshed myself. While I continued in this place, I
began to ruminate upon the plan I should lay down for my future
proceedings; and my propensity now led me, as it had done in a former
instance, to fix upon the capital, which I believed, besides its other
recommendations, would prove the safest place for concealment. During
these thoughts I saw a couple of peasants passing at a small distance,
and enquired of them respecting the London road. By their description I
understood that the most immediate way would be to repass a part of the
forest, and that it would be necessary to approach considerably nearer
to the county-town than I was at the spot which I had at present
reached. I did not imagine that this could be a circumstance of
considerable importance. My disguise appeared to be a sufficient
security against momentary danger; and I therefore took a path, though
not the most direct one, which led towards the point they suggested.

Some of the occurrences of the day are deserving to be mentioned. As I
passed along a road which lay in my way for a few miles, I saw a
carriage advancing in the opposite direction. I debated with myself for
a moment, whether I should pass it without notice, or should take this
occasion, by voice or gesture, of making an essay of my trade. This idle
disquisition was however speedily driven from my mind when I perceived
that the carriage was Mr. Falkland's. The suddenness of the encounter
struck me with terror, though perhaps it would have been difficult for
calm reflection to have discovered any considerable danger. I withdrew
from the road, and skulked behind a hedge till it should have completely
gone by. I was too much occupied with my own feelings, to venture to
examine whether or no the terrible adversary of my peace were in the
carriage. I persuaded myself that he was. I looked after the equipage,
and exclaimed, "There you may see the luxurious accommodations and
appendages of guilt, and here the forlornness that awaits upon
innocence!"--I was to blame to imagine that my case was singular in that
respect. I only mention it to show how tile most trivial circumstance
contributes to embitter the cup to the man of adversity. The thought
however was a transient one. I had learned this lesson from my
sufferings, not to indulge in the luxury of discontent. As my mind
recovered its tranquillity, I began to enquire whether the phenomenon I
had just seen could have any relation to myself. But though my mind was
extremely inquisitive and versatile in this respect, I could discover no
sufficient ground upon which to build a judgment.

At night I entered a little public-house at the extremity of a village,
and, seating myself in a corner of the kitchen, asked for some bread and
cheese. While I was sitting at my repast, three or four labourers came
in for a little refreshment after their work. Ideas respecting the
inequality of rank pervade every order in society; and, as my appearance
was meaner and more contemptible than theirs, I found it expedient to
give way to these gentry of a village alehouse, and remove to an
obscurer station. I was surprised, and not a little startled, to find
them fall almost immediately into conversation about my history, whom,
with a slight variation of circumstances, they styled the notorious
housebreaker, Kit Williams.

"Damn the fellow," said one of them, "one never hears of any thing else.
O' my life, I think he makes talk for the whole country."

"That is very true," replied another. "I was at the market-town to-day
to sell some oats for my master, and there was a hue and cry, some of
them thought they had got him, but it was a false alarm."

"That hundred guineas is a fine thing," rejoined the first. "I should be
glad if so be as how it fell in my way."

"For the matter of that," said his companion, "I should like a hundred
guineas as well as another. But I cannot be of your mind for all that. I
should never think money would do me any good that had been the means of
bringing a Christian creature to the gallows."

"Poh, that is all my granny! Some folks must be hanged, to keep the
wheels of our state-folks a-going. Besides, I could forgive the fellow
all his other robberies, but that he should have been so hardened as to
break the house of his own master at last, that is too bad."

"Lord! lord!" replied the other, "I see you know nothing of the matter!
I will tell you how it was, as I learned it at the town. I question
whether he ever robbed his master at all. But, hark you! you must know
as how that squire Falkland was once tried for murder"--

"Yes, yes, we know that."

"Well, he was as innocent as the child unborn. But I supposes as how he
is a little soft or so. And so Kit Williams--Kit is a devilish cunning
fellow, you may judge that from his breaking prison no less than five
times,--so, I say, he threatened to bring his master to trial at
'size all over again, and so frightened him, and got money from him at
divers times. Till at last one squire Forester, a relation of t'other,
found it all out. And he made the hell of a rumpus, and sent away Kit to
prison in a twinky; and I believe he would have been hanged: for when
two squires lay their heads together, they do not much matter law, you
know; or else they twist the law to their own ends, I cannot exactly say
which; but it is much at one when the poor fellow's breath is out of his

Though this story was very circumstantially told, and with a sufficient
detail of particulars, it did not pass unquestioned. Each man maintained
the justness of his own statement, and the dispute was long and
obstinately pursued. Historians and commentators at length withdrew
together. The terrors with which I was seized when this conversation
began, were extreme. I stole a sidelong glance to one quarter and
another, to observe if any man's attention was turned upon me. I
trembled as if in an ague-fit; and, at first, felt continual impulses to
quit the house, and take to my heels. I drew closer to my corner, held
aside my head, and seemed from time to time to undergo a total
revolution of the animal economy.

At length the tide of ideas turned. Perceiving they paid no attention to
me, the recollection of the full security my disguise afforded recurred
strongly to my thoughts; and I began inwardly to exult, though I did not
venture to obtrude myself to examination. By degrees I began to be
amused at the absurdity of their tales, and the variety of the
falsehoods I heard asserted around me. My soul seemed to expand; I felt
a pride in the self-possession and lightness of heart with which I could
listen to the scene; and I determined to prolong and heighten the
enjoyment. Accordingly, when they were withdrawn, I addressed myself to
our hostess, a buxom, bluff, good-humoured widow, and asked what sort of
a man this Kit Williams might be? She replied that, as she was informed,
he was as handsome, likely a lad, as any in four counties round; and
that she loved him for his cleverness, by which he outwitted all the
keepers they could set over him, and made his way through stone walls as
if they were so many cobwebs. I observed, that the country was so
thoroughly alarmed, that I did not think it possible he should escape
the pursuit that was set up after him. This idea excited her immediate
indignation: she said, she hoped he was far enough away by this time;
but if not, she wished the curse of God might light on them that
betrayed so noble a fellow to an ignominious end!--Though she little
thought that the person of whom she spoke was so near her, yet the
sincere and generous warmth with which She interested herself in my
behalf gave me considerable pleasure. With this sensation to sweeten the
fatigues of the day and the calamities of my situation, I retired from
the kitchen to a neighbouring barn, laid myself down upon some straw,
and fell into a profound sleep.

The next day about noon, as I was pursuing my journey, I was overtaken
by two men on horseback, who stopped me, to enquire respecting a person
that they supposed might have passed along that road. As they proceeded
in their description, I perceived, with astonishment and terror, that I
was myself the person to whom their questions related. They entered into
a tolerably accurate detail of the various characteristics by which my
person might best be distinguished. They said, they had good reason to
believe that I had been seen at a place in that county the very day
before. While they were speaking a third person, who had fallen behind,
came up; and my alarm was greatly increased upon seeing that this person
was the servant of Mr. Forester, who had visited me in prison about a
fortnight before my escape. My best resource in this crisis was
composure and apparent indifference. It was fortunate for me that my
disguise was so complete, that the eye of Mr. Falkland itself could
scarcely have penetrated it. I had been aware for some time before that
this was a refuge which events might make necessary, and had endeavoured
to arrange and methodise my ideas upon the subject. From my youth I had
possessed a considerable facility in the art of imitation; and when I
quitted my retreat in the habitation of Mr. Raymond, I adopted, along
with my beggar's attire, a peculiar slouching and clownish gait, to be
used whenever there should appear the least chance of my being observed,
together with an Irish brogue which I had had an opportunity of studying
in my prison. Such are the miserable expedients, and so great the
studied artifice, which man, who never deserves the name of manhood but
in proportion as he is erect and independent, may find it necessary to
employ, for the purpose of eluding the inexorable animosity and
unfeeling tyranny of his fellow man! I had made use of this brogue,
though I have not thought it necessary to write it down in my narrative,
in the conversation of the village alehouse. Mr. Forester's servant, as
he came up, observed that his companions were engaged in conversation
with me; and, guessing at the subject, asked whether they had gained any
intelligence. He added to the information at which they had already
hinted, that a resolution was taken to spare neither diligence nor
expense for my discovery and apprehension, and that they were satisfied,
if I were above ground and in the kingdom, it would be impossible for me
to escape them.

Every new incident that had occurred to me tended to impress upon my
mind the extreme danger to which I was exposed. I could almost have
imagined that I was the sole subject of general attention, and that the
whole world was in arms to exterminate me. The very idea tingled through
every fibre of my frame. But, terrible as it appeared to my imagination,
it did but give new energy to my purpose; and I determined that I would
not voluntarily resign the field, that is, literally speaking, my neck
to the cord of the executioner, notwithstanding the greatest superiority
in my assailants. But the incidents which had befallen me, though they
did not change my purpose, induced me to examine over again the means by
which it might be effected. The consequence of this revisal was, to
determine me to bend my course to the nearest sea-port on the west side
of the island, and transport myself to Ireland. I cannot now tell what
it was that inclined me to prefer this scheme to that which I had
originally formed. Perhaps the latter, which had been for some time
present to my imagination, for that reason appeared the more obvious of
the two; and I found an appearance of complexity, which the mind did not
stay to explain, in substituting the other in its stead.

I arrived without further impediment at the place from which I intended
to sail, enquired for a vessel, which I found ready to put to sea in a
few hours, and agreed with the captain for my passage. Ireland had to
me the disadvantage of being a dependency of the British government, and
therefore a place of less security than most other countries which are
divided from it by the ocean. To judge from the diligence with which I
seemed to be pursued in England, it was not improbable that the zeal of
my persecutors might follow me to the other side of the channel. It was
however sufficiently agreeable to my mind, that I was upon the point of
being removed one step further from the danger which was so grievous to
my imagination.

Could there be any peril in the short interval that was to elapse,
before the vessel was to weigh anchor and quit the English shore?
Probably not. A very short time had intervened between my determination
for the sea and my arrival at this place; and if any new alarm had been
given to my prosecutors, it proceeded from the old woman a very few days
before. I hoped I had anticipated their diligence. Meanwhile, that I
might neglect no reasonable precaution, I went instantly on board,
resolved that I would not unnecessarily, by walking the streets of the
town, expose myself to any untoward accident. This was the first time I
had, upon any occasion, taken leave of my native country.


The time was now nearly elapsed that was prescribed for our stay, and
orders for weighing anchor were every moment expected, when we were
hailed by a boat from the shore, with two other men in it besides those
that rowed. They entered our vessel in an instant. They were officers
of justice. The passengers, five persons besides myself, were ordered
upon deck for examination. I was inexpressibly disturbed at the
occurrence of such a circumstance in so unseasonable a moment. I took it
for granted that it was of me they were in search. Was it possible that,
by any unaccountable accident, they should have got an intimation of my
disguise? It was infinitely more distressing to encounter them upon this
narrow stage, and under these pointed circumstances, than, as I had
before encountered my pursuers, under the appearance of an indifferent
person. My recollection however did not forsake me. I confided in my
conscious disguise and my Irish brogue, as a rock of dependence against
all accidents.

No sooner did we appear upon deck than, to my great consternation, I
could observe the attention of our guests principally turned upon me.
They asked a few frivolous questions of such of my fellow passengers as
happened to be nearest to them; and then, turning to me, enquired my
name, who I was, whence I came, and what had brought me there? I had
scarcely opened my mouth to reply, when, with one consent, they laid
hold of me, said I was their prisoner, and declared that my accent,
together with the correspondence of my person, would be sufficient to
convict me before any court in England. I was hurried out of the vessel
into the boat in which they came, and seated between them, as if by way
of precaution, lest I should spring overboard, and by any means escape

I now took it for granted that I was once more in the power of Mr.
Falkland; and the idea was insupportably mortifying and oppressive to my
imagination. Escape from his pursuit, freedom from his tyranny, were
objects upon which my whole soul was bent. Could no human ingenuity and
exertion effect them? Did his power reach through all space, and his
eye penetrate every concealment? Was he like that mysterious being, to
protect us from whose fierce revenge mountains and hills, we are told,
might fall on us in vain? No idea is more heart-sickening and tremendous
than this. But, in my case, it was not a subject of reasoning or of
faith; I could derive no comfort, either directly from the unbelief
which, upon religious subjects, some men avow to their own minds; or
secretly from the remoteness and incomprehensibility of the conception:
it was an affair of sense; I felt the fangs of the tiger striking deep
into my heart.

But though this impression was at first exceedingly strong, and
accompanied with its usual attendants of dejection and pusillanimity, my
mind soon began, as it were mechanically, to turn upon the consideration
of the distance between this sea-port and my county prison, and the
various opportunities of escape that might offer themselves in the
interval. My first duty was to avoid betraying myself, more than it
might afterwards appear I was betrayed already. It was possible that,
though apprehended, my apprehension might have been determined on upon
some slight score, and that, by my dexterity, I might render my
dismission as sudden as my arrest had been. It was even possible that I
had been seized through a mistake, and that the present measure might
have no connection with Mr. Falkland's affair. Upon every supposition,
it was my business to gain information. In my passage from the ship to
the town I did not utter a word. My conductors commented on my
sulkiness; but remarked that it would avail me nothing--I should
infallibly swing, as it was never known that any body got off who was
tried for robbing his majesty's mail. It is difficult to conceive the
lightness of heart which was communicated to me by these words: I
persisted however in the silence I had meditated. From the rest of their
conversation, which was sufficiently voluble, I learned that the mail
from Edinburgh to London had been robbed about ten days before by two
Irishmen, that one of them was already secured, and that I was taken up
upon suspicion of being the other. They had a description of his person,
which, though, as I afterwards found, it disagreed from mine in several
material articles, appeared to them to tally to the minutest tittle. The
intelligence that the whole proceeding against me was founded in a
mistake, took an oppressive load from my mind. I believed that I should
immediately be able to establish my innocence, to the satisfaction of
any magistrate in the kingdom; and though crossed in my plans, and
thwarted in my design of quitting the island, even after I was already
at sea, this was but a trifling inconvenience compared with what I had
had but too much reason to fear.

As soon as we came ashore, I was conducted to the house of a justice of
peace, a man who had formerly been the captain of a collier, but who,
having been successful in the world, had quitted this wandering life,
and for some years had had the honour to represent his majesty's person.
We were detained for some time in a sort of anti-room, waiting his
reverence's leisure. The persons by whom I had been taken up were
experienced in their trade, and insisted upon employing this interval in
searching me, in presence of two of his worship's servants. They found
upon me fifteen guineas and some silver. They required me to strip
myself perfectly naked, that they might examine whether I had bank-notes
concealed any where about my person. They took up the detached parcels
of my miserable attire as I threw it from me, and felt them one by one,
to discover whether the articles of which they were in search might by
any device be sewn up in them. To all this I submitted without
murmuring. It might probably come to the same thing at last; and summary
justice was sufficiently coincident with my views, my principal object
being to get as soon as possible out of the clutches of the respectable
persons who now had me in custody.

This operation was scarcely completed, before we were directed to be
ushered into his worship's apartment. My accusers opened the charge, and
told him they had been ordered to this town, upon an intimation that one
of the persons who robbed the Edinburgh mail was to be found here; and
that they had taken me on board a vessel which was by this time under
sail for Ireland. "Well," says his worship, "that is your story; now let
us hear what account the gentleman gives of himself. What is your
name--ha, sirrah? and from what part of Tipperary are you pleased to
come?" I had already taken my determination upon this article; and the
moment I learned the particulars of the charge against me, resolved, for
the present at least, to lay aside my Irish accent, and speak my native
tongue. This I had done in the very few words I had spoken to my
conductors in the anti-room: they started at the metamorphosis; but they
had gone too far for it to be possible they should retract, in
consistence with their honour. I now told the justice that I was no
Irishman, nor had ever been in that country: I was a native of England.
This occasioned a consulting of the deposition in which my person was
supposed to be described, and which my conductors had brought with them
for their direction. To be sure, that required that the offender should
be an Irishman.

Observing his worship hesitate, I thought this was the time to push the
matter a little further. I referred to the paper, and showed that the
description neither tallied as to height nor complexion. But then it did
as to years and the colour of the hair; and it was not this gentleman's
habit, as he informed me, to squabble about trifles, or to let a man's
neck out of the halter for a pretended flaw of a few inches in his
stature. "If a man were too short," he said, "there was no remedy like a
little stretching." The miscalculation in my case happened to be the
opposite way, but his reverence did not think proper to lose his jest.
Upon the whole, he was somewhat at a loss how to proceed.

My conductors observed this, and began to tremble for the reward, which,
two hours ago, they thought as good as in their own pocket. To retain me
in custody they judged to be a safe speculation; if it turned out a
mistake at last, they felt little apprehension of a suit for false
imprisonment from a poor man, accoutred as I was, in rags. They
therefore urged his worship to comply with their views. They told him
that to be sure the evidence against me did not prove so strong as for
their part they heartily wished it had, but that there were a number of
suspicious circumstances respecting me. When I was brought up to them
upon the deck of the vessel, I spoke as fine an Irish brogue as one
shall hear in a summer's day; and now, all at once, there was not the
least particle of it left. In searching me they had found upon me
fifteen guineas, how should a poor beggar lad, such as I appeared, come
honestly by fifteen guineas? Besides, when they had stripped me naked,
though my dress was so shabby my skin had all the sleekness of a
gentleman. In fine, for what purpose could a poor beggar, who had never
been in Ireland in his life, want to transport himself to that country?
It was as clear as the sun that I was no better than I should be. This
reasoning, together with some significant winks and gestures between the
justice and the plaintiffs, brought him over to their way of thinking.
He said, I must go to Warwick, where it seems the other robber was at
present in custody, and be confronted with him; and if then every thing
appeared fair and satisfactory, I should be discharged.

No intelligence could be more terrible than that which was contained in
these words. That I, who had found the whole country in arms against me,
who was exposed to a pursuit so peculiarly vigilant and penetrating,
should now be dragged to the very centre of the kingdom, without power
of accommodating myself to circumstances, and under the immediate
custody of the officers of justice, seemed to my ears almost the same
thing as if he had pronounced upon me a sentence of death! I strenuously
urged the injustice of this proceeding. I observed to the magistrate,
that it was impossible I should be the person at whom the description
pointed. It required an Irishman; I was no Irishman. It described a
person shorter than I; a circumstance of all others the least capable of
being counterfeited. There was not the slightest reason for detaining me
in custody. I had been already disappointed of my voyage, and lost the
money I had paid, down, through the officiousness of these gentlemen in
apprehending me. I assured his worship, that every delay, under my
circumstances, was of the utmost importance to me. It was impossible to
devise a greater injury to be inflicted on me, than the proposal that,
instead of being permitted to proceed upon my voyage, I should be sent,
under arrest, into the heart of the kingdom.

My remonstrances were vain. The justice was by no means inclined to
digest the being expostulated with in this manner by a person in the
habiliments of a beggar. In the midst of my address he would have
silenced me for my impertinence, but that I spoke with an earnestness
with which he was wholly unable to contend. When I had finished, he told
me it was all to no purpose, and that it might have been better for me,
if I had shown myself less insolent. It was clear that I was a vagabond
and a suspicious person. The more earnest I showed myself to get off,
the more reason there was he should keep me fast. Perhaps, after all, I
should turn out to be the felon in question. But, if I was not that, he
had no doubt I was worse; a poacher, or, for what he knew, a murderer.
He had a kind of a notion that he had seen my face before about some
such affair; out of all doubt I was an old offender. He had it in his
choice to send me to hard labour as a vagrant, upon the strength of my
appearance and the contradictions in my story, or to order me to
Warwick; and, out of the spontaneous goodness of his disposition, he
chose the milder side of the alternative. He could assure me I should
not slip through his fingers. It was of more benefit to his majesty's
government to hang one such fellow as he suspected me to be, than, out
of mistaken tenderness, to concern one's self for the good of all the
beggars in the nation.

Finding it was impossible to work, in the way I desired, on a man so
fully impressed with his own dignity and importance and my utter
insignificance, I claimed that, at least, the money taken from my person
should be restored to me. This was granted. His worship perhaps
suspected that he had stretched a point in what he had already done,
and was therefore the less unwilling to relax in this incidental
circumstance. My conductors did not oppose themselves to this
indulgence, for a reason that will appear in the sequel. The justice
however enlarged upon his clemency in this proceeding. He did not know
whether he was not exceeding the spirit of his commission in complying
with my demand. So much money in my possession could not be honestly
come by. But it was his temper to soften, as far as could be done with
propriety, the strict letter of the law.

There were cogent reasons why the gentlemen who had originally taken me
into custody, chose that I should continue in their custody when my
examination was over. Every man is, in his different mode, susceptible
to a sense of honour; and they did not choose to encounter the disgrace
that would accrue to them, if justice had been done. Every man is in
some degree influenced by the love of power; and they were willing I
should owe any benefit I received, to their sovereign grace and
benignity, and not to the mere reason of the case. It was not however an
unsubstantial honour and barren power that formed the objects of their
pursuit: no, their views were deeper than that. In a word, though they
chose that I should retire from the seat of justice, as I had come
before it, a prisoner, yet the tenor of my examination had obliged them,
in spite of themselves, to suspect that I was innocent of the charge
alleged against me. Apprehensive therefore that the hundred guineas
which had been offered as a reward for taking the robber was completely
out of the question in the present business, they were contented to
strike at smaller game. Having conducted me to an inn, and given
directions respecting a vehicle for the journey, they took me aside,
while one of them addressed me in the following manner:--

"You see, my lad, how the case stands: hey for Warwick is the word I and
when we are got there, what may happen then I will not pretend for to
say. Whether you are innocent or no is no business of mine; but you are
not such a chicken as to suppose, if so be as you are innocent, that
that will make your game altogether sure. You say your business calls
you another way, and as how you are in haste: I scorns to cross any man
in his concerns, if I can help it. If therefore you will give us them
there fifteen shiners, why snug is the word. They are of no use to you;
a beggar, you know, is always at home. For the matter of that, we could
have had them in the way of business, as you saw, at the justice's. But
I am a man of principle; I loves to do things above board, and scorns to
extort a shilling from any man."

He who is tinctured with principles of moral discrimination is apt upon
occasion to be run away with by his feelings in that respect, and to
forget the immediate interest of the moment. I confess, that the first
sentiment excited in my mind by this overture was that of indignation. I
was irresistibly impelled to give utterance to this feeling, and
postpone for a moment the consideration of the future. I replied with
the severity which so base a proceeding appeared to deserve. My
bear-leaders were considerably surprised with my firmness, but seemed to
think it beneath them to contest with me the principles I delivered. He
who had made the overture contented himself with replying, "Well, well,
my lad, do as you will; you are not the first man that has been hanged
rather than part with a few guineas." His words did not pass unheeded by
me. They were strikingly applicable to my situation, and I was
determined not to suffer the occasion to escape me unimproved.

The pride of these gentlemen however was too great to admit of further
parley for the present. They left me abruptly; having first ordered an
old man, the father of the landlady, to stay in the room with me while
they were absent. The old man they ordered, for security, to lock the
door, and put the key in his pocket; at the same time mentioning below
stairs the station in which they had left me, that the people of the
house might have an eye upon what went forward, and not suffer me to
escape. What was the intention of this manoeuvre I am unable certainly
to pronounce. Probably it was a sort of compromise between their pride
and their avarice; being desirous, for some reason or other, to drop me
as soon as convenient, and therefore determining to wait the result of
my private meditations on the proposal they had made.


They were no sooner withdrawn than I cast my eye upon the old man, and
found something extremely venerable and interesting in his appearance.
His form was above the middle size. It indicated that his strength had
been once considerable; nor was it at this time by any means
annihilated. His hair was in considerable quantity, and was as white as
the drifted snow. His complexion was healthful and ruddy, at the same
time that his face was furrowed with wrinkles. In his eye there was
remarkable vivacity, and his whole countenance was strongly expressive
of good-nature. The boorishness of his rank in society was lost in the
cultivation his mind had derived from habits of sensibility and

The view of his figure immediately introduced a train of ideas into my
mind, respecting the advantage to be drawn from the presence of such a
person. The attempt to take any step without his consent was hopeless;
for, though I should succeed with regard to him, he could easily give
the alarm to other persons, who would, no doubt, be within call. Add to
which, I could scarcely have prevailed on myself to offer any offence to
a person whose first appearance so strongly engaged my affection and
esteem. In reality my thoughts were turned into a different channel. I
was impressed with an ardent wish to be able to call this man my
benefactor. Pursued by a train of ill fortune, I could no longer
consider myself as a member of society. I was a solitary being, cut off
from the expectation of sympathy, kindness, and the good-will of
mankind. I was strongly impelled, by the situation in which the present
moment placed me, to indulge in a luxury which my destiny seemed to have
denied. I could not conceive the smallest comparison between the idea of
deriving my liberty from the spontaneous kindness of a worthy and
excellent mind, and that of being indebted for it to the selfishness and
baseness of the worst members of society. It was thus that I allowed
myself in the wantonness of refinement, even in the midst of

Guided by these sentiments, I requested his attention to the
circumstances by which I had been brought into my present situation. He
immediately signified his assent, and said he would cheerfully listen to
any thing I thought proper to communicate. I told him, the persons who
had just left me in charge with him had come to this town for the
purpose of apprehending some person who had been guilty of robbing the
mail; that they had chosen to take me up under this warrant, and had
conducted me before a justice of the peace; that they had soon detected
their mistake, the person in question being an Irishman, and differing
from me both in country and stature; but that, by collusion between them
and the justice, they were permitted to retain me in custody, and
pretended to undertake to conduct me to Warwick to confront me with my
accomplice; that, in searching me at the justice's, they had found a sum
of money in my possession which excited their cupidity, and that they
had just been proposing to me to give me my liberty upon condition of my
surrendering this sum into their hands. Under these circumstances, I
requested him to consider, whether he would wish to render himself the
instrument of their extortion. I put myself into his hands, and solemnly
averred the truth of the facts I had just stated. If he would assist me
in my escape, it could have no other effect than to disappoint the base
passions of my conductors. I would upon no account expose him to any
real inconvenience; but I was well assured that the same generosity that
should prompt him to a good deed, would enable him effectually to
vindicate it when done; and that those who detained me, when they had
lost sight of their prey, would feel covered with confusion, and not
dare to take another step in the affair.

The old man listened to what I related with curiosity and interest. He
said that he had always felt an abhorrence to the sort of people who had
me in their hands; that he had an aversion to the task they had just
imposed upon him, but that he could not refuse some little disagreeable
offices to oblige his daughter and son-in-law. He had no doubt, from my
countenance and manner, of the truth of what I had asserted to him. It
was an extraordinary request I had made, and he did not know what had
induced me to think him the sort of person to whom, with any prospect of
success, it might be made. In reality however his habits of thinking
were uncommon, and he felt more than half inclined to act as I desired.
One thing at least he would ask of me in return, which was to be
faithfully informed in some degree respecting the person he was desired
to oblige. What was my name?

The question came upon me unprepared. But, whatever might be the
consequence, I could not bear to deceive the person by whom it was put,
and in the circumstances under which it was put. The practice of
perpetual falsehood is too painful a task. I replied, that my name was

He paused. His eye was fixed upon me. I saw his complexion alter at the
repetition of that word. He proceeded with visible anxiety.

My Christian name?


Good God! it could not be ----? He conjured me by every thing that was
sacred to answer him faithfully to one question more. I was not--no, it
was impossible--the person who had formerly lived servant with Mr.
Falkland, of ----?

I told him that, whatever might be the meaning of his question, I would
answer him truly. I was the individual he mentioned.

As I uttered these words the old man rose from his seat. He was sorry
that fortune had been so unpropitious to him, as for him ever to have
set eyes upon me! I was a monster with whom the very earth groaned!

I entreated that he would suffer me to explain this new
misapprehension, as he had done in the former instance. I had no doubt
that I should do it equally to his satisfaction.

No! no! no! he would upon no consideration admit, that his ears should
suffer such contamination. This case and the other were very different.
There was no criminal upon the face of the earth, no murderer, half so
detestable as the person who could prevail upon himself to utter the
charges I had done, by way of recrimination, against so generous a
master.--The old man was in a perfect agony with the recollection.

At length he calmed himself enough to say, he should never cease to
grieve that he had held a moment's parley with me. He did not know what
was the conduct severe justice required of him; but, since he had come
into the knowledge of who I was only by my own confession, it was
irreconcilably repugnant to his feelings to make use of that knowledge
to my injury. Here therefore all relation between us ceased; as indeed
it would be an abuse of words to consider me in the light of a human
creature. He would do me no mischief; but, on the other hand, he would
not, for the world, be in any way assisting and abetting me.

I was inexpressibly affected at the abhorrence this good and benevolent
creature expressed against me. I could not be silent; I endeavoured once
and again to prevail upon him to hear me. But his determination was
unalterable. Our contest lasted for some time, and he at length
terminated it by ringing the bell, and calling up the waiter. A very
little while after, my conductors entered, and the other persons

It was a part of the singularity of my fate that it hurried me from one
species of anxiety and distress to another, too rapidly to suffer any
one of them to sink deeply into my mind. I am apt to believe, in the
retrospect, that half the calamities I was destined to endure would
infallibly have overwhelmed and destroyed me. But, as it was, I had no
leisure to chew the cud upon misfortunes as they befel me, but was under
the necessity of forgetting them, to guard against peril that the next
moment seemed ready to crush me.

The behaviour of this incomparable and amiable old man cut me to the
heart. It was a dreadful prognostic for all my future life. But, as I
have just observed, my conductors entered, and another subject called
imperiously upon my attention. I could have been content, mortified as I
was at this instant, to have been shut up in some impenetrable solitude,
and to have wrapped myself in inconsolable misery. But the grief I
endured had not such power over me as that I could be content to risk
the being led to the gallows. The love of life, and still more a hatred
against oppression, steeled my heart against that species of inertness.
In the scene that had just passed I had indulged, as I have said, in a
wantonness and luxury of refinement. It was time that indulgence should
be brought to a period. It was dangerous to trifle any more upon the
brink of fate; and, penetrated as I was with sadness by the result of my
last attempt, I was little disposed to unnecessary circumambulation.

I was exactly in the temper in which the gentlemen who had me in their
power would have desired to find me. Accordingly we entered immediately
upon business; and, after some chaffering, they agreed to accept eleven
guineas as the price of my freedom. To preserve however the chariness of
their reputation, they insisted upon conducting me with them for a few
miles on the outside of a stage-coach. They then pretended that the road
they had to travel lay in a cross country direction; and, having
quitted the vehicle, they suffered me, almost as soon as it was out of
sight, to shake off this troublesome association, and follow my own
inclinations. It may be worth remarking by the way, that these fellows
outwitted themselves at their own trade. They had laid hold of me at
first under the idea of a prize of a hundred guineas; they had since
been glad to accept a composition of eleven: but if they had retained me
a little longer in their possession, they would have found the
possibility of acquiring the sum that had originally excited their
pursuit, upon a different score.

The mischances that had befallen me, in my late attempt to escape from
my pursuers by sea, deterred me from the thought of repeating that
experiment. I therefore once more returned to the suggestion of hiding
myself, at least for the present, amongst the crowds of the metropolis.
Meanwhile, I by no means thought proper to venture by the direct route,
and the less so, as that was the course which would be steered by my
late conductors; but took my road along the borders of Wales. The only
incident worth relating in this place occurred in an attempt to cross
the Severn in a particular point. The mode was by a ferry; but, by some
strange inadvertence, I lost my way so completely as to be wholly unable
that night to reach the ferry, and arrive at the town which I had
destined for my repose.

This may seem a petty disappointment, in the midst of the overwhelming
considerations that might have been expected to engross every thought of
my mind. Yet it was borne by me with singular impatience. I was that day
uncommonly fatigued. Previously to the time that I mistook, or at least
was aware of the mistake of the road, the sky had become black and
lowring, and soon after the clouds burst down in sheets of rain. I was
in the midst of a heath, without a tree or covering of any sort to
shelter me. I was thoroughly drenched in a moment. I pushed on with a
sort of sullen determination. By and by the rain gave place to a storm
of hail. The hail-stones were large and frequent. I was ill defended by
the miserable covering I wore, and they seemed to cut me in a thousand
directions. The hail-storm subsided, and was again succeeded by a heavy
rain. By this time it was that I had perceived I was wholly out of my
road. I could discover neither man nor beast, nor habitation of any
kind. I walked on, measuring at every turn the path it would be proper
to pursue, but in no instance finding a sufficient reason to reject one
or prefer another. My mind was bursting with depression and anguish. I
muttered imprecations and murmuring as I passed along. I was full of
loathing and abhorrence of life, and all that life carries in its train.
After wandering without any certain direction for two hours, I was
overtaken by the night. The scene was nearly pathless, and it was vain
to think of proceeding any farther.

Here I was, without comfort, without shelter, and without food. There
was not a particle of my covering that was not as wet as if it had been
fished from the bottom of the ocean. My teeth chattered. I trembled in
every limb. My heart burned with universal fury. At one moment I
stumbled and fell over some unseen obstacle; at another I was turned
back by an impediment I could not overcome.

There was no strict connection between these casual inconveniences and
the persecution under which I laboured. But my distempered thoughts
confounded them together. I cursed the whole system of human existence.
I said, "Here I am, an outcast, destined to perish with hunger and cold.
All men desert me. All men hate me. I am driven with mortal threats
from the sources of comfort and existence. Accursed world! that hates
without a cause, that overwhelms innocence with calamities which ought
to be spared even to guilt! Accursed world! dead to every manly
sympathy; with eyes of horn, and hearts of steel! Why do I consent to
live any longer? Why do I seek to drag on an existence, which, if
protracted, must be protracted amidst the lairs of these human tigers?"

This paroxysm at length exhausted itself. Presently after, I discovered
a solitary shed, which I was contented to resort to for shelter. In a
corner of the shed I found some clean straw. I threw off my rags, placed
them in a situation where they would best be dried, and buried myself
amidst this friendly warmth. Here I forgot by degrees the anguish that
had racked me. A wholesome shed and fresh straw may seem but scanty
benefits; but they offered themselves when least expected, and my whole
heart was lightened by the encounter. Through fatigue of mind and body,
it happened in this instance, though in general my repose was remarkably
short, that I slept till almost noon of the next day. When I rose, I
found that I was at no great distance from the ferry, which I crossed,
and entered the town where I intended to have rested the preceding

It was market-day. As I passed near the cross, I observed two people
look at me with great earnestness: after which one of them exclaimed, "I
will be damned if I do not think that this is the very fellow those men
were enquiring for who set off an hour ago by the coach for ----." I was
extremely alarmed at this information; and, quickening my pace, turned
sharp down a narrow lane. The moment I was out of sight I ran with all
the speed I could exert, and did not think myself safe till I was
several miles distant from the place where this information had reached
my ears. I have always believed that the men to whom it related were the
very persons who had apprehended me on board the ship in which I had
embarked for Ireland; that, by some accident, they had met with the
description of my person as published on the part of Mr. Falkland; and
that, from putting together the circumstances, they had been led to
believe that this was the very individual who had lately been in their
custody. Indeed it was a piece of infatuation in me, for which I am now
unable to account, that, after the various indications which had
occurred in that affair, proving to them that I was a man in critical
and peculiar circumstances, I should have persisted in wearing the same
disguise without the smallest alteration. My escape in the present case
was eminently fortunate. If I had not lost my way in consequence of the
hail-storm on the preceding night, or if I had not so greatly overslept
myself this very morning, I must almost infallibly have fallen into the
hands of these infernal blood-hunters.

The town they had chosen for their next stage, the name of which I had
thus caught in the market-place, was the town to which, but for this
intimation, I should have immediately proceeded. As it was, I determined
to take a road as wide of it as possible. In the first place to which I
came, in which it was practicable to do so, I bought a great coat, which
I drew over my beggar's weeds, and a better hat. The hat I slouched over
my face, and covered one of my eyes with a green-silk shade. The
handkerchief, which I had hitherto worn about my head, I now tied about
the lower part of my visage, so as to cover my mouth. By degrees I
discarded every part of my former dress, and wore for my upper garment
a kind of carman's frock, which, being of the better sort, made me look
like the son of a reputable farmer of the lower class. Thus equipped, I
proceeded on my journey, and, after a thousand alarms, precautions, and
circuitous deviations from the direct path, arrived safely in London.


Here then was the termination of an immense series of labours, upon
which no man could have looked back without astonishment, or forward
without a sentiment bordering on despair. It was at a price which defies
estimation that I had purchased this resting-place; whether we consider
the efforts it had cost me to escape from the walls of my prison, or the
dangers and anxieties to which I had been a prey, from that hour to the

But why do I call the point at which I was now arrived at a
resting-place? Alas, it was diametrically the reverse! It was my first
and immediate business to review all the projects of disguise I had
hitherto conceived, to derive every improvement I could invent from the
practice to which I had been subjected, and to manufacture a veil of
concealment more impenetrable than ever. This was an effort to which I
could see no end. In ordinary cases the hue and cry after a supposed
offender is a matter of temporary operation; but ordinary cases formed
no standard for the colossal intelligence of Mr. Falkland. For the same
reason, London, which appears an inexhaustible reservoir of concealment
to the majority of mankind, brought no such consolatory sentiment to my
mind. Whether life were worth accepting on such terms I cannot
pronounce. I only know that I persisted in this exertion of my
faculties, through a sort of parental love that men are accustomed to
entertain for their intellectual offspring; the more thought I had
expended in rearing it to its present perfection, the less did I find
myself disposed to abandon it. Another motive, not less strenuously
exciting me to perseverance, was the ever-growing repugnance I felt to
injustice and arbitrary power.

The first evening of my arrival in town I slept at an obscure inn in the
borough of Southwark, choosing that side of the metropolis, on account
of its lying entirely wide of the part of England from which I came. I
entered the inn in the evening in my countryman's frock; and, having
paid for my lodging before I went to bed, equipped myself next morning
as differently as my wardrobe would allow, and left the house before
day. The frock I made up into a small packet, and, having carried it to
a distance as great as I thought necessary, I dropped it in the corner
of an alley through which I passed. My next care was to furnish myself
with another suit of apparel, totally different from any to which I had
hitherto had recourse. The exterior which I was now induced to assume
was that of a Jew. One of the gang of thieves upon ---- forest, had been
of that race; and by the talent of mimicry, which I have already stated
myself to possess, I could copy their pronunciation of the English
language, sufficiently to answer such occasions as were likely to
present themselves. One of the preliminaries I adopted, was to repair to
a quarter of the town in which great numbers of this people reside, and
study their complexion and countenance. Having made such provision as my
prudence suggested to me, I retired for that night to an inn in the
midway between Mile-end and Wapping. Here I accoutred myself in ray new
habiliments; and, having employed the same precautions as before,
retired from my lodging at a time least exposed to observation. It is
unnecessary to describe the particulars of my new equipage; suffice it
to say, that one of my cares was to discolour my complexion, and give it
the dun and sallow hue which is in most instances characteristic of the
tribe to which I assumed to belong; and that when my metamorphosis was
finished, I could not, upon the strictest examination, conceive that any
one could have traced out the person of Caleb Williams in this new

Thus far advanced in the execution of my project. I deemed it advisable
to procure a lodging, and change my late wandering life for a stationary
one. In this lodging I constantly secluded myself from the rising to the
setting of the sun; the periods I allowed for exercise and air were few,
and those few by night. I was even cautious of so much as approaching
the window of my apartment, though upon the attic story; a principle I
laid down to myself was, not wantonly and unnecessarily to expose myself
to risk, however slight that risk might appear.

Here let me pause for a moment, to bring before the reader, in the way
in which it was impressed upon my mind, the nature of my situation. I
was born free: I was born healthy, vigorous, and active, complete in all
the lineaments and members of a human body. I was not born indeed to the
possession of hereditary wealth; but I had a better inheritance, an
enterprising mind, an inquisitive spirit, a liberal ambition. In a word,
I accepted my lot with willingness and content; I did not fear but I
should make my cause good in the lists of existence. I was satisfied to
aim at small things; I was pleased to play at first for a slender stake;
I was more willing to grow than to descend in my individual

The free spirit and the firm heart with which I commenced, one
circumstance was sufficient to blast. I was ignorant of the power which
the institutions of society give to one man over others; I had fallen
unwarily into the hands of a person who held it as his fondest wish to
oppress and destroy me.

I found myself subjected, undeservedly on my part, to all the
disadvantages which mankind, if they reflected upon them, would hesitate
to impose on acknowledged guilt. In every human countenance I feared to
find the countenance of an enemy. I shrunk from the vigilance of every
human eye. I dared not open my heart to the best affections of our
nature. I was shut up, a deserted, solitary wretch, in the midst of my
species. I dared not look for the consolations of friendship; but,
instead of seeking to identify myself with the joys and sorrows of
others, and exchanging the delicious gifts of confidence and sympathy,
was compelled to centre my thoughts and my vigilance in myself. My life
was all a lie. I had a counterfeit character to support. I had
counterfeit manners to assume. My gait, my gestures, my accents, were
all of them to be studied. I was not free to indulge, no not one, honest
sally of the soul. Attended with these disadvantages, I was to procure
myself a subsistence, a subsistence to be acquired with infinite
precautions, and to be consumed without the hope of enjoyment.

This, even this, I was determined to endure; to put my shoulder to the
burthen, and support it with unshrinking firmness. Let it not however be
supposed that I endured it without repining and abhorrence. My time was
divided between the terrors of an animal that skulks from its pursuers,
the obstinacy of unshrinking firmness, and that elastic revulsion that
from time to time seems to shrivel the very hearts of the miserable. If
at some moments I fiercely defied all the rigours of my fate, at others,
and those of frequent recurrence, I sunk into helpless despondence. I
looked forward without hope through the series of my existence, tears of
anguish rushed from my eyes, my courage became extinct, and I cursed the
conscious life that was reproduced with every returning day.

"Why," upon such occasions I was accustomed to exclaim, "why am I
overwhelmed with the load of existence? Why are all these engines at
work to torment me? I am no murderer; yet, if I were, what worse could I
be fated to suffer? How vile, squalid, and disgraceful is the state to
which I am condemned! This is not my place in the roll of existence, the
place for which either my temper or my understanding has prepared me! To
what purpose serve the restless aspirations of my soul, but to make me,
like a frighted bird, beat myself in vain against the enclosure of my
cage? Nature, barbarous nature! to me thou hast proved indeed the worst
of step-mothers; endowed me with wishes insatiate, and sunk me in
never-ending degradation!"

I might have thought myself more secure if I had been in possession of
money upon which to subsist. The necessity of earning for myself the
means of existence, evidently tended to thwart the plan of secrecy to
which I was condemned. Whatever labour I adopted, or deemed myself
qualified to discharge, it was first to be considered how I was to be
provided with employment, and where I was to find an employer or
purchaser for my commodities. In the mean time I had no alternative.
The little money with which I had escaped from the blood-hunters was
almost expended.

After the minutest consideration I was able to bestow upon this
question. I determined that literature should be the field of my first
experiment. I had read of money being acquired in this way, and of
prices given by the speculators in this sort of ware to its proper
manufacturers. My qualifications I esteemed at a slender valuation. I
was not without a conviction that experience and practice must pave the
way to excellent production. But, though of these I was utterly
destitute, my propensities had always led me in this direction; and my
early thirst of knowledge had conducted me to a more intimate
acquaintance with books, than could perhaps have been expected under my
circumstances. If my literary pretensions were slight, the demand I
intended to make upon them was not great. All I asked was a subsistence;
and I was persuaded few persons could subsist upon slenderer means than
myself. I also considered this as a temporary expedient, and hoped that
accident or time might hereafter place me in a less precarious
situation. The reasons that principally determined my choice were, that
this employment called upon me for the least preparation, and could, as
I thought, be exercised with least observation.

There was a solitary woman, of middle age, who tenanted a chamber in
this house, upon the same floor with my own. I had no sooner determined
upon the destination of my industry than I cast my eye upon her as the
possible instrument for disposing of my productions. Excluded as I was
from all intercourse with my species in general, I found pleasure in the
occasional exchange of a few words with this inoffensive and
good-humoured creature, who was already of an age to preclude scandal.
She lived upon a very small annuity, allowed her by a distant relation,
a woman of quality, who, possessed of thousands herself, had no other
anxiety with respect to this person than that she should not contaminate
her alliance by the exertion of honest industry. This humble creature
was of a uniformly cheerful and active disposition, unacquainted alike
with the cares of wealth and the pressure of misfortune. Though her
pretensions were small, and her information slender, she was by no means
deficient in penetration. She remarked the faults and follies of mankind
with no contemptible discernment; but her temper was of so mild and
forgiving a cast, as would have induced most persons to believe that she
perceived nothing of the matter. Her heart overflowed with the milk of
kindness. She was sincere and ardent in her attachments, and never did
she omit a service which she perceived herself able to render to a human

Had it not been for these qualifications of temper, I should probably
have found that my appearance, that of a deserted, solitary lad, of
Jewish extraction, effectually precluded my demands upon her kindness.
But I speedily perceived, from her manner of receiving and returning
civilities of an indifferent sort, that her heart was too noble to have
its effusions checked by any base and unworthy considerations.
Encouraged by these preliminaries, I determined to select her as my
agent. I found her willing and alert in the business I proposed to her.
That I might anticipate occasions of suspicion, I frankly told her that,
for reasons which I wished to be excused from relating, but which, if
related, I was sure would not deprive me of her good opinion, I found it
necessary, for the present, to keep myself private. With this statement
she readily acquiesced, and told me that she had no desire for any
further information than I found it expedient to give.

My first productions were of the poetical kind. After having finished
two or three, I directed this generous creature to take them to the
office of a newspaper; but they were rejected with contempt by the
Aristarchus of that place, who, having bestowed on them a superficial
glance, told her that such matters were not in his way. I cannot help
mentioning in this place, that the countenance of Mrs. Marney (this was
the name of my ambassadress) was in all cases a perfect indication of
her success, and rendered explanation by words wholly unnecessary. She
interested herself so unreservedly in what she undertook, that she felt
either miscarriage or good fortune much more exquisitely than I did. I
had an unhesitating confidence in my own resources, and, occupied as I
was in meditations more interesting and more painful, I regarded these
matters as altogether trivial.

I quietly took the pieces back, and laid them upon my table. Upon
revisal, I altered and transcribed one of them, and, joining it with two
others, despatched them together to the editor of a magazine. He desired
they might be left with him till the day after to-morrow. When that day
came he told my friend they should be inserted; but, Mrs. Marney asking
respecting the price, he replied, it was their constant rule to give
nothing for poetical compositions, the letter-box being always full of
writings of that sort; but if the gentleman would try his hand in prose,
a short essay or a tale, he would see what he could do for him.

With the requisition of my literary dictator I immediately complied. I
attempted a paper in the style of Addison's Spectators, which was
accepted. In a short time I was upon an established footing in this
quarter. I however distrusted my resources in the way of moral
disquisition, and soon turned my thoughts to his other suggestion, a
tale. His demands upon me were now frequent, and, to facilitate my
labours, I bethought myself of the resource of translation. I had
scarcely any convenience with respect to the procuring of books; but, as
my memory was retentive, I frequently translated or modelled my
narrative upon a reading of some years before. By a fatality, for which
I did not exactly know how to account, my thoughts frequently led me to
the histories of celebrated robbers; and I related, from time to time,
incidents and anecdotes of Cartouche, Gusman d'Alfarache, and other
memorable worthies, whose career was terminated upon the gallows or the

In the mean time a retrospect to my own situation rendered a
perseverance even in this industry difficult to be maintained. I often
threw down my pen in an ecstasy of despair. Sometimes for whole days
together I was incapable of action, and sunk into a sort of partial
stupor, too wretched to be described. Youth and health however enabled
me, from time to time, to get the better of my dejection, and to rouse
myself to something like a gaiety, which, if it had been permanent,
might have made this interval of my story tolerable to my reflections.


While I was thus endeavouring to occupy and provide for the intermediate
period, till the violence of the pursuit after me might be abated, a
new source of danger opened upon me of which I had no previous

Gines, the thief who had been expelled from Captain Raymond's gang, had
fluctuated, during the last years of his life, between the two
professions of a violator of the laws and a retainer to their
administration. He had originally devoted himself to the first; and
probably his initiation in the mysteries of thieving qualified him to be
peculiarly expert in the profession of a thief-taker--a profession he
had adopted, not from choice, but necessity. In this employment his
reputation was great, though perhaps not equal to his merits; for it
happens here as in other departments of human society, that, however the
subalterns may furnish wisdom and skill, the principals exclusively
possess the _eclat_. He was exercising this art in a very prosperous
manner, when it happened, by some accident, that one or two of his
achievements previous to his having shaken off the dregs of unlicensed
depredation were in danger of becoming subjects of public attention.
Having had repeated intimations of this, he thought it prudent to
decamp; and it was during this period of his retreat that he entered
into the ---- gang.

Such was the history of this man antecedently to his being placed in the
situation in which I had first encountered him. At the time of that
encounter he was a veteran of Captain Raymond's gang; for thieves being
a short-lived race, the character of veteran costs the less time in
acquiring. Upon his expulsion from this community he returned once more
to his lawful profession, and by his old comrades was received with
congratulation as a lost sheep. In the vulgar classes of society no
length of time is sufficient to expiate a crime; but among the
honourable fraternity of thief-takers it is a rule never to bring one of
their own brethren to a reckoning when it can with any decency be
avoided. They are probably reluctant to fix an unnecessary stain upon
the ermine of their profession. Another rule observed by those who have
passed through the same gradation as Gines had done, and which was
adopted by Gines himself, is always to reserve such as have been the
accomplices of their depredations to the last, and on no account to
assail them without great necessity or powerful temptation. For this
reason, according to Gines's system of tactics, Captain Raymond and his
confederates were, as he would have termed it, safe from his

But, though Gines was, in this sense of the term, a man of strict
honour, my case unfortunately did not fall within the laws of honour he
acknowledged. Misfortune had overtaken me, and I was on all sides
without protection or shelter. The persecution to which I was exposed
was founded upon the supposition of my having committed felony to an
immense amount. But in this Gines had had no participation; he was
careless whether the supposition were true or false, and hated me as
much as if my innocence had been established beyond the reach of

The blood-hunters who had taken me into custody at ----, related, as
usual among their fraternity, a part of their adventure, and told of the
reason which inclined them to suppose, that the individual who had
passed through their custody, was the very Caleb Williams for whose
apprehension a reward had been offered of a hundred guineas. Gines,
whose acuteness was eminent in the way of his profession, by comparing
facts and dates, was induced to suspect in his own mind, that Caleb
Williams was the person he had hustled and wounded upon ---- forest.
Against that person he entertained the bitterest aversion. I had been
the innocent occasion of his being expelled with disgrace from Captain
Raymond's gang; and Gines, as I afterwards understood, was intimately
persuaded that there was no comparison between the liberal and manly
profession of a robber from which I had driven him, and the sordid and
mechanical occupation of a blood-hunter, to which he was obliged to
return. He no sooner received the information I have mentioned than he
vowed revenge. He determined to leave all other objects, and consecrate
every faculty of his mind to the unkennelling me from my hiding-place.
The offered reward, which his vanity made him consider as assuredly his
own, appeared as the complete indemnification of his labour and expense.
Thus I had to encounter the sagacity he possessed in the way of his
profession, whetted and stimulated by a sentiment of vengeance, in a
mind that knew no restraint from conscience or humanity.

When I drew to myself a picture of my situation soon after having fixed
on my present abode, I foolishly thought, as the unhappy are accustomed
to do, that my calamity would admit of no aggravation. The aggravation
which, unknown to me, at this time occurred was the most fearful that
any imagination could have devised. Nothing could have happened more
critically hostile to my future peace, than my fatal encounter with
Gines upon ---- forest. By this means, as it now appears, I had fastened
upon myself a second enemy, of that singular and dreadful sort that is
determined never to dismiss its animosity as long as life shall endure.
While Falkland was the hungry lion whose roarings astonished and
appalled me, Gines was a noxious insect, scarcely less formidable and
tremendous, that hovered about my goings, and perpetually menaced me
with the poison of his sting.

The first step pursued by him in execution of his project, was to set
out for the sea-port town where I had formerly been apprehended. From
thence he traced me to the banks of the Severn, and from the banks of
the Severn to London. It is scarcely necessary to observe that this is
always practicable, provided the pursuer have motives strong enough to
excite him to perseverance, unless the precautions of the fugitive be,
in the highest degree, both judicious in the conception, and fortunate
in the execution. Gines indeed, in the course of his pursuit, was often
obliged to double his steps; and, like the harrier, whenever he was at a
fault, return to the place where he had last perceived the scent of the
animal whose death he had decreed. He spared neither pains nor time in
the gratification of the passion, which choice had made his ruling one.

Upon my arrival in town he for a moment lost all trace of me, London
being a place in which, on account of the magnitude of its dimensions,
it might well be supposed that an individual could remain hidden and
unknown. But no difficulty could discourage this new adversary. He went
from inn to inn (reasonably supposing that there was no private house to
which I could immediately repair), till he found, by the description he
gave, and the recollections he excited, that I had slept for one night
in the borough of Southwark. But he could get no further information.
The people of the inn had no knowledge what had become of me the next

This however did but render him more eager in the pursuit. The
describing me was now more difficult, on account of the partial change
of dress I had made the second day of my being in town. But Gines at
length overcame the obstacle from that quarter.

Having traced me to my second inn, he was here furnished with a more
copious information. I had been a subject of speculation for the leisure
hours of some of the persons belonging to this inn. An old woman, of a
most curious and loquacious disposition, who lived opposite to it, and
who that morning rose early to her washing, had espied me from her
window, by the light of a large lamp which hung over the inn, as I
issued from the gate. She had but a very imperfect view of me, but she
thought there was something Jewish in my appearance. She was accustomed
to hold a conference every morning with the landlady of the inn, some of
the waiters and chambermaids occasionally assisting at it. In the course
of the dialogue of this morning, she asked some questions about the Jew
who had slept there the night before. No Jew had slept there. The
curiosity of the landlady was excited in her turn. By the time of the
morning it could be no other but me. It was very strange! They compared
notes respecting my appearance and dress. No two things could be more
dissimilar. The Jew Christian, upon any dearth of subjects of
intelligence, repeatedly furnished matter for their discourse.

The information thus afforded to Gines appeared exceedingly material.
But the performance did not for some time keep pace with the promise. He
could not enter every private house into which lodgers were ever
admitted, in the same manner that he had treated the inns. He walked the
streets, and examined with a curious and inquisitive eye the countenance
of every Jew about my stature; but in vain. He repaired to Duke's Place
and the synagogues. It was not here that in reality he could calculate
upon finding me; but he resorted to those means in despair, and as a
last hope. He was more than once upon the point of giving up the
pursuit; but he was recalled to it by an insatiable and restless
appetite for revenge.

It was during this perturbed and fluctuating state of his mind, that he
chanced to pay a visit to a brother of his, who was the head-workman of
a printing-office. There was little intercourse between these two
persons, their dispositions and habits of life being extremely
dissimilar. The printer was industrious, sober, inclined to methodism,
and of a propensity to accumulation. He was extremely dissatisfied with
the character and pursuits of his brother, and had made some ineffectual
attempts to reclaim him. But, though they by no means agreed in their
habits of thinking, they sometimes saw each other. Gines loved to boast
of as many of his achievements as he dared venture to mention; and his
brother was one more hearer, in addition to the set of his usual
associates. The printer was amused with the blunt sagacity of remark and
novelty of incident that characterised Gines's conversation. He was
secretly pleased, in spite of all his sober and church-going prejudices,
that he was brother to a man of so much ingenuity and fortitude.

After having listened for some time upon this occasion to the wonderful
stories which Gines, in his rugged way, condescended to tell, the
printer felt an ambition to entertain his brother in his turn. He began
to retail some of my stories of Cartouche and Gusman d'Alfarache. The
attention of Gines was excited. His first emotion was wonder; his second
was envy and aversion. Where did the printer get these stories? This
question was answered. "I will tell you what," said the printer, "we
none of us know what to make of the writer of these articles. He writes
poetry, and morality, and history: I am a printer, and corrector of the
press, and may pretend without vanity to be a tolerably good judge of
these matters: he writes them all to my mind extremely fine; and yet he
is no more than a Jew." [To my honest printer this seemed as strange, as
if they had been written by a Cherokee chieftain at the falls of the

"A Jew! How do you know? Did you ever see him?"

"No; the matter is always brought to us by a woman. But my master hates
mysteries; he likes to see his authors himself. So he plagues and
plagues the old woman; but he can never get any thing out of her, except
that one day she happened to drop that the young gentleman was a Jew."

A Jew! a young gentleman! a person who did every thing by proxy, and
made a secret of all his motions! Here was abundant matter for the
speculations and suspicions of Gines. He was confirmed in them, without
adverting to the process of his own mind, by the subject of my
lucubrations,--men who died by the hand of the executioner. He said
little more to his brother, except asking, as if casually, what sort of
an old woman this was? of what age she might be? and whether she often
brought him materials of this kind? and soon after took occasion to
leave him. It was with vast pleasure that Gines had listened to this
unhoped-for information. Having collected from his brother sufficient
hints relative to the person and appearance of Mrs. Marney, and
understanding that he expected to receive something from me the next
day, Gines took his stand in the street early, that he might not risk
miscarriage by negligence. He waited several hours, but not without
success. Mrs. Marney came; he watched her into the house; and after
about twenty minutes delay, saw her return. He dogged her from street
to street; observed her finally enter the door of a private house; and
congratulated himself upon having at length arrived at the consummation
of his labours.

The house she entered was not her own habitation. By a sort of
miraculous accident she had observed Gines following her in the street.
As she went home she saw a woman who had fallen down in a fainting fit.
Moved by the compassion that was ever alive in her, she approached her,
in order to render her assistance. Presently a crowd collected round
them. Mrs. Marney, having done what she was able, once more proceeded
homewards. Observing the crowd round her, the idea of pickpockets
occurred to her mind; she put her hands to her sides, and at the same
time looked round upon the populace. She had left the circle somewhat
abruptly; and Gines, who had been obliged to come nearer, lest he should
lose her in the confusion, was at that moment standing exactly opposite
to her. His visage was of the most extraordinary kind; habit had written
the characters of malignant cunning and dauntless effrontery in every
line of his face; and Mrs. Marney, who was neither philosopher nor
physiognomist, was nevertheless struck. This good woman, like most
persons of her notable character, had a peculiar way of going home, not
through the open streets, but by narrow lanes and alleys, with intricate
insertions and sudden turnings. In one of these, by some accident, she
once again caught a glance of her pursuer. This circumstance, together
with the singularity of his appearance, awakened her conjectures. Could
he be following her? It was the middle of the day, and she could have no
fears for herself. But could this circumstance have any reference to me?
She recollected the precautions and secrecy I practised, and had no
doubt that I had reasons for what I did. She recollected that she had
always been upon her guard respecting me; but had she been sufficiently
so? She thought that, if she should be the means of any mischief to me,
she should be miserable for ever. She determined therefore, by way of
precaution in case of the worst, to call at a friend's house, and send
me word of what had occurred. Having instructed her friend, she went out
immediately upon a visit to a person in the exactly opposite direction,
and desired her friend to proceed upon the errand to me, five minutes
after she left the house. By this prudence she completely extricated me
from the present danger.

Meantime the intelligence that was brought me by no means ascertained
the greatness of the peril. For any thing I could discover in it the
circumstance might be perfectly innocent, and the fear solely proceed
from the over-caution and kindness of this benevolent and excellent
woman. Yet, such was the misery of my situation, I had no choice. For
this menace or no menace, I was obliged to desert my habitation at a
minute's warning, taking with me nothing but what I could carry in my
hand; to see my generous benefactress no more; to quit my little
arrangements and provision; and to seek once again, in some forlorn
retreat, new projects, and, if of that I could have any rational hope, a
new friend. I descended into the street with a heavy, not an irresolute
heart. It was broad day. I said, persons are at this moment supposed to
be roaming the street in search of me: I must not trust to the chance of
their pursuing one direction, and I another. I traversed half a dozen
streets, and then dropped into an obscure house of entertainment for
persons of small expense. In this house I took some refreshment, passed
several hours of active but melancholy thinking, and at last procured a
bed. As soon however as it was dark I went out (for this was
indispensable) to purchase the materials of a new disguise. Having
adjusted it as well as I could during the night, I left this asylum,
with the same precautions that I had employed in former instances.


I procured a new lodging. By some bias of the mind, it may be,
gratifying itself with images of peril, I inclined to believe that Mrs.
Marney's alarm had not been without foundation. I was however unable to
conjecture through what means danger had approached me; and had
therefore only the unsatisfactory remedy of redoubling my watch upon all
my actions. Still I had the joint considerations pressing upon me of
security and subsistence. I had some small remains of the produce of my
former industry; but this was but small, for my employer was in arrear
with me, and I did not choose in any method to apply to him for payment.
The anxieties of my mind, in spite of all my struggles, preyed upon my
health. I did not consider myself as in safety for an instant. My
appearance was wasted to a shadow; and I started at every sound that was
unexpected. Sometimes I was half tempted to resign myself into the hands
of the law, and brave its worst; but resentment and indignation at those
times speedily flowed back upon my mind, and re-animated my

I knew no better resource with respect to subsistence than that I had
employed in the former instance, of seeking some third person to stand
between me and the disposal of my industry. I might find an individual
ready to undertake this office in my behalf; but where should I find the
benevolent soul of Mrs. Marney? The person I fixed upon was a Mr.
Spurrel, a man who took in work from the watchmakers, and had an
apartment upon our second floor. I examined him two or three times with
irresolute glances, as we passed upon the stairs, before I would venture
to accost him. He observed this, and at length kindly invited me into
his apartment.

Being seated, he condoled with me upon my seeming bad health, and the
solitary mode of my living, and wished to know whether he could be of
any service to me. "From the first moment he saw me, he had conceived an
affection for me." In my present disguise I appeared twisted and
deformed, and in other respects by no means an object of attraction. But
it seemed Mr. Spurrel had lost an only son about six months before, and
I was "the very picture of him." If I had put off my counterfeited
ugliness, I should probably have lost all hold upon his affections. "He
was now an old man," as he observed, "just dropping into the grave, and
his son had been his only consolation. The poor lad was always ailing,
but he had been a nurse to him; and the more tending he required while
he was alive, the more he missed him now he was dead. Now he had not a
friend, nor any body that cared for him, in the whole world. If I
pleased, I should be instead of that son to him, and he would treat me
in all respects with the same attention and kindness."

I expressed my sense of these benevolent offers, but told him that I
should be sorry to be in any way burthensome to him. "My ideas at
present led me to a private and solitary life, and my chief difficulty
was to reconcile this with some mode of earning necessary subsistence.
If he would condescend to lend me his assistance in smoothing this
difficulty, it would be the greatest benefit he could confer on me." I
added, that "my mind had always had a mechanical and industrious turn,
and that I did not doubt of soon mastering any craft to which I
seriously applied myself. I had not been brought up to any trade; but,
if he would favour me with his instructions, I would work with him as
long as he pleased for a bare subsistence. I knew that I was asking of
him an extraordinary kindness; but I was urged on the one hand by the
most extreme necessity, and encouraged on the other by the
persuasiveness of his friendly professions."

The old man dropped some tears over my apparent distress, and readily
consented to every thing I proposed. Our agreement was soon made, and I
entered upon my functions accordingly. My new friend was a man of a
singular turn of mind. Love of money, and a charitable officiousness of
demeanour, were his leading characteristics. He lived in the most
penurious manner, and denied himself every indulgence. I entitled myself
almost immediately, as he frankly acknowledged, to some remuneration for
my labours, and accordingly he insisted upon my being paid. He did not
however, as some persons would have done under the circumstance, pay me
the whole amount of my earnings, but professed to subtract from them
twenty per cent, as an equitable consideration for instruction, and
commission-money in procuring me a channel for my industry. Yet he
frequently shed tears over me, was uneasy in every moment of our
indispensable separation, and exhibited perpetual tokens of attachment
and fondness. I found him a man of excellent mechanical contrivance,
and received considerable pleasure from his communications. My own
sources of information were various; and he frequently expressed his
wonder and delight in the contemplation of my powers, as well of
amusement as exertion.

Thus I appeared to have attained a situation not less eligible than in
my connection with Mrs. Marney. I was however still more unhappy. My
fits of despondence were deeper, and of more frequent recurrence. My
health every day grew worse; and Mr. Spurrel was not without
apprehensions that he should lose me, as he before lost his only son.

I had not been long however in this new situation, before an incident
occurred which filled me with greater alarm and apprehension than ever.
I was walking out one evening, after a long visitation of languor, for
an hour's exercise and air, when my ears were struck with two or three
casual sounds from the mouth of a hawker who was bawling his wares. I
stood still to inform myself more exactly, when, to my utter
astonishment and confusion, I heard him deliver himself nearly in these
MIRACULOUS ADVENTURES OF CALEB WILLIAMS: _you are informed how he first
robbed, and then brought false accusations against his master; as also
of his attempting divers times to break out of prison, till at last he
effected his escape in the most wonderful and uncredible manner; as also
of his travelling the kingdom in various disguises, and the robberies he
committed with a most desperate and daring gang of thieves; and of his
coming up to London, where it is supposed he now lies concealed; with a
true and faithful copy of the hue and cry printed and published by one
of his Majesty's most principal secretaries of state, offering a reward
of one hundred guineas for apprehending him. All for the price of one

Petrified as I was at these amazing and dreadful sounds, I had the
temerity to go up to the man and purchase one of his papers. I was
desperately resolved to know the exact state of the fact, and what I had
to depend upon. I carried it with me a little way, till, no longer able
to endure the tumult of my impatience, I contrived to make out the chief
part of its contents, by the help of a lamp, at the upper end of a
narrow passage. I found it contain a greater number of circumstances
than could have been expected in this species of publication, I was
equalled to the most notorious housebreaker in the art of penetrating
through walls and doors, and to the most accomplished swindler in
plausibleness, duplicity, and disguise. The hand-bill which Larkins had
first brought to us upon the forest was printed at length. All my
disguises, previously to the last alarm that had been given me by the
providence of Mrs. Marney, were faithfully enumerated; and the public
were warned to be upon their watch against a person of an uncouth and
extraordinary appearance, and who lived in a recluse and solitary
manner. I also learned from this paper that my former lodgings had been
searched on the very evening of my escape, and that Mrs. Marney had been
sent to Newgate, upon a charge of misprision of felony.--This last
circumstance affected me deeply. In the midst of my own sufferings my
sympathies flowed undiminished. It was a most cruel and intolerable
idea, if I were not only myself to be an object of unrelenting
persecution, but my very touch were to be infectious, and every one that
succoured me was to be involved in the common ruin. My instant feeling
was that of a willingness to undergo the utmost malice of my enemies,
could I by that means have saved this excellent woman from alarm and
peril.--I afterwards learned that Mrs. Marney was delivered from
confinement, by the interposition of her noble relation.

My sympathy for Mrs. Marney however was at this moment a transient one.
A more imperious and irresistible consideration demanded to be heard.

With what sensations did I ruminate upon this paper? Every word of it
carried despair to my heart. The actual apprehension that I dreaded
would perhaps have been less horrible. It would have put an end to that
lingering terror to which I was a prey. Disguise was no longer of use. A
numerous class of individuals, through every department, almost every
house of the metropolis, would be induced to look with a suspicious eye
upon every stranger, especially every solitary stranger, that fell under
their observation. The prize of one hundred guineas was held out to
excite their avarice and sharpen their penetration. It was no longer
Bow-street, it was a million of men in arms against me. Neither had I the
refuge, which few men have been so miserable as to want, of one single
individual with whom to repose my alarms, and who might shelter me from
the gaze of indiscriminate curiosity.

What could exceed the horrors of this situation? My heart knocked
against my ribs, my bosom heaved, I gasped and panted for breath. "There
is no end then," said I, "to my persecutors! My unwearied and
long-continued labours lead to no termination! Termination! No; the
lapse of time, that cures all other things, makes my case more
desperate! Why then," exclaimed I, a new train of thought suddenly
rushing into my mind, "why should I sustain the contest any longer? I
can at least elude my persecutors in death. I can bury myself and the
traces of my existence together in friendly oblivion; and thus bequeath
eternal doubt, and ever new alarm, to those who have no peace but in
pursuing me!"

In the midst of the horrors with which I was now impressed, this idea
gave me pleasure; and I hastened to the Thames to put it in instant
execution. Such was the paroxysm of my mind that my powers of vision
became partially suspended. I was no longer conscious to the feebleness
of disease, but rushed along with fervent impetuosity. I passed from
street to street without observing what direction I pursued. After
wandering I know not how long, I arrived at London Bridge. I hastened to
the stairs, and saw the river covered with vessels.

"No human being must see me," said I, "at the instant that I vanish for
ever." This thought required some consideration. A portion of time had
elapsed since my first desperate purpose. My understanding began to
return. The sight of the vessels suggested to me the idea of once more
attempting to leave my native country.

I enquired, and speedily found that the cheapest passage I could procure
was in a vessel moored near the Tower, and which was to sail in a few
days for Middleburgh in Holland. I would have gone instantly on board,
and have endeavoured to prevail with the captain to let me remain there
till he sailed; but unfortunately I had not money enough in my pocket to
defray my passage.

It was worse than this. I had not money enough in the world. I however
paid the captain half his demand, and promised to return with the rest.
I knew not in what manner it was to be procured, but I believed that I
should not fail in it. I had some idea of applying to Mr. Spurrel.
Surely he would not refuse me? He appeared to love me with parental
affection, and I thought I might trust myself for a moment in his hands.

I approached my place of residence with a heavy and foreboding heart.
Mr. Spurrel was not at home; and I was obliged to wait for his return.
Worn out with fatigue, disappointment, and the ill state of my health, I
sunk upon a chair. Speedily however I recollected myself. I had work of
Mr. Spurrel's in my trunk, which had been delivered out to me that very
morning, to five times the amount I wanted. I canvassed for a moment
whether I should make use of this property as if it were my own; but I
rejected the idea with disdain. I had never in the smallest degree
merited the reproaches that were east upon me; and I determined I never
would merit them. I sat gasping, anxious, full of the blackest
forebodings. My terrors appeared, even to my own mind, greater and more
importunate than the circumstances authorised.

It was extraordinary that Mr. Spurrel should be abroad at this hour; I
had never known it happen before. His bed-time was between nine and ten.
Ten o'clock came, eleven o'clock, but not Mr. Spurrel. At midnight I
heard his knock at the door. Every soul in the house was in bed. Mr.
Spurrel, on account of his regular hours, was unprovided with a key to
open for himself. A gleam, a sickly gleam, of the social spirit came
over my heart. I flew nimbly down stairs, and opened the door.

I could perceive, by the little taper in my hand, something
extraordinary in his countenance. I had not time to speak, before I saw
two other men follow him. At the first glance I was sufficiently
assured what sort of persons they were. At the second, I perceived that
one of them was no other than Gines himself. I had understood formerly
that he had been of this profession, and I was not surprised to find him
in it again. Though I had for three hours endeavoured, as it were, to
prepare myself for the unavoidable necessity of falling once again into
the hands of the officers of law, the sensation I felt at their entrance
was indescribably agonising. I was besides not a little astonished at
the time and manner of their entrance; and I felt anxious to know
whether Mr. Spurrel could be base enough to have been their introducer.

I was not long held in perplexity. He no sooner saw his followers within
the door, than he exclaimed, with convulsive eagerness, "There, there,
that is your man! thank God! thank God!" Gines looked eagerly in my
face, with a countenance expressive alternately of hope and doubt, and
answered, "By God, and I do not know whether it be or no! I am afraid we
are in the wrong box!" Then recollecting himself, "We will go into the
house, and examine further however." We all went up stairs into Mr.
Spurrel's room; I set down the candle upon the table. I had hitherto
been silent; but I determined not to desert myself, and was a little
encouraged to exertion by the scepticism of Gines. With a calm and
deliberate manner therefore, in my feigned voice, one of the
characteristics of which was lisping, I asked, "Pray, gentlemen, what
may be your pleasure with me?"--"Why," said Gines, "our errand is with
one Caleb Williams, and a precious rascal he is! I ought to know the
chap well enough; but they say he has as many faces as there are days in
the year. So you please to pull off your face; or, if you cannot do
that, at least you can pull off your clothes, and let us see what your
hump is made of."

I remonstrated, but in vain. I stood detected in part of my artifice;
and Gines, though still uncertain, was every moment more and more
confirmed in his suspicions. Mr. Spurrel perfectly gloated, with eyes
that seemed ready to devour every thing that passed. As my imposture
gradually appeared more palpable, he repeated his exclamation, "Thank
God! thank God!" At last, tired with this scene of mummery, and
disgusted beyond measure with the base and hypocritical figure I seemed
to exhibit, I exclaimed, "Well, I am Caleb Williams; conduct me wherever
you please! And now, Mr. Spurrel!"--He gave a violent start. The
instant I declared myself his transport had been at the highest, and
was, to any power he was able to exert, absolutely uncontrollable. But
tile unexpectedness of my address, and the tone in which I spoke,
electrified him.--"Is it possible," continued I, "that you should
have been the wretch to betray me? What have I done to deserve this
treatment? Is this the kindness you professed? the affection that was
perpetually in your mouth? to be the death of me!"

"My poor boy! my dear creature!" cried Spurrel, whimpering, and in a
tone of the humblest expostulation, "indeed I could not help it! I would
have helped it, if I could! I hope they will not hurt my darling! I am
sure I shall die if they do!"

"Miserable driveller!" interrupted I, with a stern voice, "do you betray
me into the remorseless fangs of the law, and then talk of my not being
hurt? I know my sentence, and am prepared to meet it! You have fixed the
halter upon my neck, and at the same price would have done so to your
only son! Go, count your accursed guineas I My life would have been
safer in the hands of one I had never seen than in yours, whose mouth
and whose eyes for ever ran over with crocodile affection!"

I have always believed that my sickness, and, as he apprehended,
approaching death, contributed its part to the treachery of Mr. Spurrel.
He predicted to his own mind the time when I should no longer be able to
work. He recollected with agony the expense that attended his son's
illness and death. He determined to afford me no assistance of a similar
kind. He feared however the reproach of deserting me. He feared the
tenderness of his nature. He felt, that I was growing upon his
affections, and that in a short time he could not have deserted me. He
was driven by a sort of implicit impulse, for the sake of avoiding one
ungenerous action, to take refuge in another, the basest and most
diabolical. This motive, conjoining with the prospect of the proffered
reward, was an incitement too powerful for him to resist.


Having given vent to my resentment, I left Mr. Spurrel motionless, and
unable to utter a word. Gines and his companion attended me. It is
unnecessary to repeat all the insolence of this man. He alternately
triumphed in the completion of his revenge, and regretted the loss of
the reward to the shrivelled old curmudgeon we had just quitted, whom
however he swore he would cheat of it by one means or another. He
claimed to himself the ingenuity of having devised the halfpenny legend,
the thought of which was all his own, and was an expedient that was
impossible to fail. There was neither law nor justice, he said, to be
had, if Hunks who had done nothing were permitted to pocket the cash,
and his merit were left undistinguished and pennyless.

I paid but little attention to his story. It struck upon my sense, and I
was able to recollect it at my nearest leisure, though I thought not of
it at the time. For the present I was busily employed, reflecting on my
new situation, and the conduct to be observed in it. The thought of
suicide had twice, in moments of uncommon despair, suggested itself to
my mind; but it was far from my habitual meditations. At present, and in
all cases where death was immediately threatened me from the injustice
of others, I felt myself disposed to contend to the last.

My prospects were indeed sufficiently gloomy and discouraging. How much
labour had I exerted, first to extricate myself from prison, and next to
evade the diligence of my pursuers; and the result of all, to be brought
back to the point from which I began! I had gained fame indeed, the
miserable fame to have my story bawled forth by hawkers and
ballad-mongers, to have my praises as an active and enterprising villain
celebrated among footmen and chambermaids; but I was neither an
Erostratus nor an Alexander, to die contented with that species of
eulogium. With respect to all that was solid, what chance could I find
in new exertions of a similar nature? Never was a human creature pursued
by enemies more inventive or envenomed. I could have small hope that
they would ever cease their persecution, or that my future attempts
would be crowned with a more desirable issue.

They were considerations like these that dictated my resolution. My mind
had been gradually weaning from Mr. Falkland, till its feeling rose to
something like abhorrence. I had long cherished a reverence for him,
which not even animosity and subornation on his part could utterly
destroy. But I now ascribed a character so inhumanly sanguinary to his
mind; I saw something so fiend-like in the thus hunting me round the
world, and determining to be satisfied with nothing less than my blood,
while at the same time he knew my innocence, my indisposition to
mischief, nay, I might add, my virtues; that henceforth I trampled
reverence and the recollection of former esteem under my feet. I lost
all regard to his intellectual greatness, and all pity for the agonies
of his soul. I also would abjure forbearance. I would show myself bitter
and inflexible as he had done. Was it wise in him to drive me into
extremity and madness? Had he no fears for his own secret and atrocious

I had been obliged to spend the remainder of the night upon which I had
been apprehended, in prison. During the interval I had thrown off every
vestige of disguise, and appeared the next morning in my own person. I
was of course easily identified; and, this being the whole with which
the magistrates before whom I now stood thought themselves concerned,
they were proceeding to make out an order for my being conducted back to
my own county. I suspended the despatch of this measure by observing
that I had something to disclose. This is an overture to which men
appointed for the administration of criminal justice never fail to

I went before the magistrates, to whose office Gines and his comrade
conducted me, fully determined to publish those astonishing secrets of
which I had hitherto been the faithful depository; and, once for all, to
turn the tables upon my accuser. It was time that the real criminal
should be the sufferer, and not that innocence should for ever labour
under the oppression of guilt.

I said that "I had always protested my innocence, and must now repeat
the protest."

"In that case," retorted the senior magistrate abruptly, "what can you
have to disclose? If you are innocent, that is no business of ours! We
act officially."

"I always declared," continued I, "that I was the perpetrator of no
guilt, but that the guilt wholly belonged to my accuser. He privately
conveyed these effects among my property, and then charged me with the
robbery. I now declare more than that, that this man is a murderer, that
I detected his criminality, and that, for that reason, he is determined
to deprive me of life. I presume, gentlemen, that you do consider it as
your business to take this declaration. I am persuaded you will be by no
means disposed, actively or passively, to contribute to the atrocious
injustice under which I suffer, to the imprisonment and condemnation of
an innocent man, in order that a murderer may go free. I suppressed this
story as long as I could. I was extremely averse to be the author of the
unhappiness or the death of a human being. But all patience and
submission have their limits."

"Give me leave, sir," rejoined the magistrate, with an air of affected
moderation, "to ask you two questions. Were you any way aiding,
abetting, or contributing to this murder?"


"And pray, sir, who is this Mr. Falkland? and what may have been the
nature of your connection with him?"

"Mr. Falkland is a gentleman of six thousand per annum. I lived with him
as his secretary."

"In other words, you were his servant?"

"As you please."

"Very well, sir; that is quite enough for me. First, I have to tell you,
as a magistrate, that I can have nothing to do with your declaration. If
you had been concerned in the murder you talk of, that would alter the
case. But it is out of all reasonable rule for a magistrate to take an
information from a felon, except against his accomplices. Next, I think
it right to observe to you, in my own proper person, that you appear to
me to be the most impudent rascal I ever saw. Why, are you such an ass
as to suppose, that the sort of story you have been telling, can be of
any service to you, either here or at the assizes, or any where else? A
fine time of it indeed it would be, if, when gentlemen of six thousand a
year take up their servants for robbing them, those servants could trump
up such accusations as these, and could get any magistrate or court of
justice to listen to them! Whether or no the felony with which you stand
charged would have brought you to the gallows, I will not pretend to
say: but I am sure this story will. There would be a speedy end to all
order and good government, if fellows that trample upon ranks and
distinctions in this atrocious sort were upon any consideration suffered
to get off."

"And do you refuse, sir, to attend to the particulars of the charge I

"Yes, sir, I do.--But, if I did not, pray what witnesses have you of the

This question staggered me.

"None. But I believe I can make out a circumstantial proof, of a nature
to force attention from the most indifferent hearer."

"So I thought.--Officers, take him from the bar!"

Such was the success of this ultimate resort on my part, upon which I
had built with such undoubting confidence. Till now, I had conceived
that the unfavourable situation in which I was placed was prolonged by
my own forbearance; and I had determined to endure all that human nature
could support, rather than have recourse to this extreme recrimination.
That idea secretly consoled me under all my calamities: it was a
voluntary sacrifice, and was cheerfully made. I thought myself allied to
the army of martyrs and confessors; I applauded my fortitude and
self-denial; and I pleased myself with the idea, that I had the power,
though I hoped never to employ it, by an unrelenting display of my
resources, to put an end at once to my sufferings and persecutions.

And this at last was the justice of mankind! A man, under certain
circumstances, shall not be heard in the detection of a crime, because
he has not been a participator of it! The story of a flagitious murder
shall be listened to with indifference, while an innocent man is hunted,
like a wild beast, to the furthest corners of the earth! Six thousand a
year shall protect a man from accusation; and the validity of an
impeachment shall be superseded, because the author of it is a servant!

I was conducted back to the very prison from which a few months before I
had made my escape. With a bursting heart I entered those walls,
compelled to feel that all my more than Herculean labours served for my
own torture, and for no other end. Since my escape from prison I had
acquired some knowledge of the world; I had learned by bitter
experience, by how many links society had a hold upon me, and how
closely the snares of despotism beset me. I no longer beheld the world,
as my youthful fancy had once induced me to do, as a scene in which to
hide or to appear, and to exhibit the freaks of a wanton vivacity. I saw
my whole species as ready, in one mode or other, to be made the
instruments of the tyrant. Hope died away in the bottom of my heart.
Shut up for the first night in my dungeon, I was seized at intervals
with temporary frenzy. From time to time, I rent the universal silence
with the roarings of unsupportable despair. But this was a transient
distraction. I soon returned to the sober recollection of myself and my

My prospects were more gloomy, and my situation apparently more
irremediable, than ever. I was exposed again, if that were of any
account, to the insolence and tyranny that are uniformly exercised
within those walls. Why should I repeat the loathsome tale of all that
was endured by me, and is endured by every man who is unhappy enough to
fall under the government of these consecrated ministers of national
jurisprudence? The sufferings I had already experienced, my anxieties,
my flight, the perpetual expectation of being discovered, worse than the
discovery itself, would perhaps have been enough to satisfy the most
insensible individual, in the court of his own conscience, if I had even
been the felon I was pretended to be. But the law has neither eyes, nor
ears, nor bowels of humanity; and it turns into marble the hearts of all
those that are nursed in its principles.

I however once more recovered my spirit of determination. I resolved
that, while I had life, I would never be deserted by this spirit.
Oppressed, annihilated I might be; but, if I died, I would die
resisting. What use, what advantage, what pleasurable sentiment, could
arise from a tame surrender? There is no man that is ignorant, that to
humble yourself at the feet of the law is a bootless task; in her courts
there is no room for amendment and reformation.

My fortitude may to some persons appear above the standard of human
nature. But if I draw back the veil from my heart they will readily
confess their mistake. My heart bled at every pore. My resolution was
not the calm sentiment of philosophy and reason. It was a gloomy and
desperate purpose: the creature, not of hope, but of a mind austerely
held to its design, that felt, as it were, satisfied with the naked
effort, and prepared to give success or miscarriage to the winds. It was
to this miserable condition, which might awaken sympathy in the most
hardened bosom, that Mr. Falkland had reduced me.

In the mean time, strange as it may seem, here, in prison, subject to
innumerable hardships, and in the assured expectation of a sentence of
death, I recovered my health. I ascribe this to the state of my mind,
which was now changed, from perpetual anxiety, terror, and alarm, the
too frequent inmates of a prison, but which I upon this occasion did not
seem to bring along with me, to a desperate firmness.

I anticipated the event of my trial. I determined once more to escape
from my prison; nor did I doubt of my ability to effect at least this
first step towards my future preservation. The assizes however were
near, and there were certain considerations, unnecessary to be detailed,
that persuaded me there might be benefit in waiting till my trial should
actually be terminated, before I made my attempt.

It stood upon the list as one of the latest to be brought forward. I was
therefore extremely surprised to find it called out of its order, early
on the morning of the second day. But, if this were unexpected, how
much greater was my astonishment, when my prosecutor was called, to
find neither Mr. Falkland, nor Mr. Forester, nor a single individual of
any description, appear against me! The recognizances into which my
prosecutors had entered were declared to be forfeited; and I was
dismissed without further impediment from the bar.

The effect which this incredible reverse produced upon my mind it is
impossible to express. I, who had come to that bar with the sentence of
death already in idea ringing in my ears, to be told that I was free to
transport myself whithersoever I pleased! Was it for this that I had
broken through so many locks and bolts, and the adamantine walls of my
prison; that I had passed so many anxious days, and sleepless,
spectre-haunted nights; that I had racked my invention for expedients of
evasion and concealment; that my mind had been roused to an energy of
which I could scarcely have believed it capable; that my existence had
been enthralled to an ever-living torment, such as I could scarcely have
supposed it in man to endure? Great God! what is man? Is he thus blind
to the future, thus totally unsuspecting of what is to occur in the next
moment of his existence? I have somewhere read, that heaven in mercy
hides from us the future incidents of our life. My own experience does
not well accord with this assertion. In this instance at least I should
have been saved from insupportable labour and undescribable anguish,
could I have foreseen the catastrophe of this most interesting


It was not long before I took my everlasting leave of this detested and
miserable scene. My heart was for the present too full of astonishment
and exultation in my unexpected deliverance, to admit of anxiety about
the future. I withdrew from the town; I rambled with a slow and
thoughtful pace, now bursting with exclamation, and now buried in
profound and undefinable reverie. Accident led me towards the very heath
which had first sheltered me, when, upon a former occasion, I broke out
of my prison. I wandered among its cavities and its valleys. It was a
forlorn and desolate solitude. I continued here I know not how long.
Night at length overtook me unperceived, and I prepared to return for
the present to the town I had quitted.

It was now perfectly dark, when two men, whom I had not previously
observed, sprung upon me from behind. They seized me by the arms, and
threw me upon the ground. I had no time for resistance or recollection.
I could however perceive that one of them was the diabolical Gines. They
blindfolded, gagged me, and hurried me I knew not whither. As we passed
along in silence, I endeavoured to conjecture what could be the meaning
of this extraordinary violence. I was strongly impressed with the idea,
that, after the event of this morning, the most severe and painful part
of my history was past; and, strange as it may seem, I could not
persuade myself to regard with alarm this unexpected attack. It might
however be some new project, suggested by the brutal temper and
unrelenting animosity of Gines.

I presently found that we were returned into the town I had just
quitted. They led me into a house, and, as soon as they had taken
possession of a room freed me from the restraints they had before
imposed Here Gines informed me with a malicious grin that no harm was
intended me, and therefore I should show most sense in keeping myself
quiet. I perceived that we were in an inn; I overheard company in a room
at no great distance from us, and therefore was now as thoroughly aware
as he could be, that there was at present little reason to stand in fear
of any species of violence, and that it would be time enough to resist,
when they attempted to conduct me from the inn in the same manner that
they had brought me into it. I was not without some curiosity to see the
conclusion that was to follow upon so extraordinary a commencement.

The preliminaries I have described were scarcely completed, before Mr.
Falkland entered the room. I remember Collins, when he first
communicated to me the particulars of our patron's history, observed
that he was totally unlike the man he had once been. I had no means of
ascertaining the truth of that observation. But it was strikingly
applicable to the spectacle which now presented itself to my eyes,
though, when I last beheld this unhappy man, he had been a victim to the
same passions, a prey to the same undying remorse, as now. Misery was at
that time inscribed in legible characters upon his countenance. But now
he appeared like nothing that had ever been visible in human shape. His
visage was haggard, emaciated, and fleshless. His complexion was a dun
and tarnished red, the colour uniform through every region of the face,
and suggested the idea of its being burnt and parched by the eternal
fire that burned within him. His eyes were red, quick, wandering, full
of suspicion and rage. His hair was neglected, ragged, and floating.
His whole figure was thin, to a degree that suggested the idea rather of
a skeleton than a person actually alive. Life seemed hardly to be the
capable inhabitant of so woe-begone and ghost-like a figure. The taper
of wholesome life was expired; but passion, and fierceness, and frenzy,
were able for the present to supply its place.

I was to the utmost degree astonished and shocked at the sight of
him.--He sternly commanded my conductors to leave the room.

"Well, sir, I have this day successfully exerted myself to save your
life from the gallows. A fortnight ago you did what you were able to

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