Part 1 out of 3
This etext was prepared by David Price, email firstname.lastname@example.org
from the 1887 Cassell & Company edition.
by Thomas Love Peacock
Thomas Love Peacock was born at Weymouth in 1785. His first poem,
"The Genius of the Thames," was in its second edition when he
became one of the friends of Shelley. That was in 1812, when
Shelley's age was twenty, Peacock's twenty-seven. The acquaintance
strengthened, until Peacock became the friend in whose judgment
Shelley put especial trust. There were many points of agreement.
Peacock, at that time, shared, in a more practical way, Shelley's
desire for root and branch reform; both wore poets, although not
equally gifted, and both loved Plato and the Greek tragedians. In
"Crotchet Castle" Peacock has expressed his own delight in Greek
literature through the talk of the Reverend Dr. Folliott.
But Shelley's friendship for Peacock included a trust in him that
was maintained by points of unlikeness. Peacock was shrewd and
witty. He delighted in extravagance of a satire which usually said
more than it meant, but always rested upon a foundation of good
sense. Then also there was a touch of the poet to give grace to
the utterances of a clear-headed man of the world. It was Peacock
who gave its name to Shelley's poem of "Alastor, or the Spirit of
Solitude," published in 1816. The "Spirit of Solitude" being
treated as a spirit of evil, Peacock suggested calling it
"Alastor," since the Greek [Greek text] means an evil genius.
Peacock's novels are unlike those of other men: they are the
genuine expressions of an original and independent mind. His
reading and his thinking ran together; there is free quotation,
free play of wit and satire, grace of invention too, but always
unconventional. The story is always pleasant, although always
secondary to the play of thought for which it gives occasion. He
quarrelled with verse, whimsically but in all seriousness, in an
article on "The Four Ages of Poetry," contributed in 1820 to a
short-lived journal, "Ollier's Literary Miscellany." The four ages
were, he said, the iron age, the Bardic; the golden, the Homeric;
the silver, the Virgilian; and the brass, in which he himself
lived. "A poet in our time," he said, "is a semi-barbarian in a
civilised community . . . The highest inspirations of poetry are
resolvable into three ingredients: the rant of unregulated
passion, the whining of exaggerated feeling, and the cant of
factitious sentiment; and can, therefore, serve only to ripen a
splendid lunatic like Alexander, a puling driveller like Werter, or
a morbid dreamer like Wordsworth." In another part of this essay
he says: "While the historian and the philosopher are advancing in
and accelerating the progress of knowledge, the poet is wallowing
in the rubbish of departed ignorance, and raking up the ashes of
dead savages to find gewgaws and rattles for the grown babies of
the age. Mr. Scott digs up the poacher and cattle-stealers of the
ancient Border. Lord Byron cruises for thieves and pirates on the
shores of the Morea and among the Greek islands. Mr. Southey wades
through ponderous volumes of travels and old chronicles, from which
he carefully selects all that is false, useless, and absurd, as
being essentially poetical; and when he has a commonplace book full
of monstrosities, strings them into an epic." And so forth;
Peacock going on to characterise, in further illustration of his
argument, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Moore, and Campbell. He did not
refer to Shelley; and Shelley read his friend's whimsical attack on
poetry with all good humour, proceeding to reply to it with a
"Defence of Poetry," which would have appeared in the same journal,
if the journal had survived. In this novel of "Crotchet Castle"
there is the same good-humoured exaggeration in the treatment of
"our learned friend"--Lord Brougham--to whom and to whose labours
for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge there are repeated allusions.
In one case Peacock associates the labours of "our learned friend"
for the general instruction of the masses with encouragement of
robbery (page 172), and in another with body-snatching, or, worse,-
-murder for dissection (page 99). "The Lord deliver me from the
learned friend!" says Dr. Folliott. Brougham's elevation to a
peerage in November, 1830, as Lord Brougham and Vaux, is referred
to on page 177, where he is called Sir Guy do Vaux. It is not to
be forgotten, in the reading, that this story was written in 1831,
the year before the passing of the Reform Bill. It ends with a
scene suggested by the agricultural riots of that time. In the
ninth chapter, again, there is a passage dealing with Sir Walter
Scott after the fashion of the criticisms in the "Four Ages of
Poetry." But this critical satire gave nobody pain. Always there
was a ground-work of good sense, and the broad sweep of the satire
was utterly unlike the nibbling censure of the men whose wit is
tainted with ill-humour. We may see also that the poet's nature
cannot be expelled. In this volume we should find the touch of a
poet's hand in the tale itself when dealing with the adventures of
Mr. Chainmail, while he stays at the Welsh mountain inn, if the
story did not again and again break out into actual song, for it
includes half-a-dozen little poems.
When Peacock wrote his attack on Poetry, he had, only two years
before, produced a poem of his own--"Rhododaphne"--with a Greek
fancy of the true and the false love daintily worked out. It was
his chief work in verse, and gave much pleasure to a few, among
them his friend Shelley. But he felt that, as the world went, he
was not strong enough to help it by his singing, so he confined his
writing to the novels, in which he could speak his mind in his own
way, while doing his duty by his country in the East India House,
where he obtained a post in 1818. From 1836 to 1856, when he
retired on a pension, he was Examiner of India Correspondence.
Peacock died in 1866, aged eighty-one.
NOTE that in this tale Mac Quedy is Mac Q. E. D., son of a
demonstration; Mr. Skionar, the transcendentalist, is named from
Ski(as) onar, the dream of a shadow; and Mr. Philpot,--who loves
rivers, is Phil(o)pot(amos).
by Thomas Love Peacock
CHAPTER I: THE VILLA
Captain Jamy. I wad full fain hear some question 'tween you tway.
In one of those beautiful valleys, through which the Thames (not
yet polluted by the tide, the scouring of cities, or even the minor
defilement of the sandy streams of Surrey) rolls a clear flood
through flowery meadows, under the shade of old beech woods, and
the smooth mossy greensward of the chalk hills (which pour into it
their tributary rivulets, as pure and pellucid as the fountain of
Bandusium, or the wells of Scamander, by which the wives and
daughters of the Trojans washed their splendid garments in the days
of peace, before the coming of the Greeks); in one of those
beautiful valleys, on a bold round-surfaced lawn, spotted with
juniper, that opened itself in the bosom of an old wood, which rose
with a steep, but not precipitous ascent, from the river to the
summit of the hill, stood the castellated villa of a retired
citizen. Ebenezer Mac Crotchet, Esquire, was the London-born
offspring of a worthy native of the "north countrie," who had
walked up to London on a commercial adventure, with all his surplus
capital, not very neatly tied up in a not very clean handkerchief,
suspended over his shoulder from the end of a hooked stick,
extracted from the first hedge on his pilgrimage; and who, after
having worked himself a step or two up the ladder of life, had won
the virgin heart of the only daughter of a highly respectable
merchant of Duke's Place, with whom he inherited the honest fruits
of a long series of ingenuous dealings.
Mr. Mac Crotchet had derived from his mother the instinct, and from
his father the rational principle, of enriching himself at the
expense of the rest of mankind, by all the recognised modes of
accumulation on the windy side of the law. After passing many
years in the Alley, watching the turn of the market, and playing
many games almost as desperate as that of the soldier of Lucullus,
the fear of losing what he had so righteously gained predominated
over the sacred thirst of paper-money; his caution got the better
of his instinct, or rather transferred it from the department of
acquisition to that of conservation. His friend, Mr. Ramsbottom,
the zodiacal mythologist, told him that he had done well to
withdraw from the region of Uranus or Brahma, the Maker, to that of
Saturn or Veeshnu, the Preserver, before he fell under the eye of
Jupiter or Seva, the Destroyer, who might have struck him down at a
It is said that a Scotchman, returning home after some years'
residence in England, being asked what he thought of the English,
answered: "They hanna ower muckle sense, but they are an unco braw
people to live amang;" which would be a very good story, if it were
not rendered apocryphal by the incredible circumstance of the
Scotchman going back.
Mr. Mac Crotchet's experience had given him a just title to make,
in his own person, the last-quoted observation, but he would have
known better than to go back, even if himself, and not his father,
had been the first comer of his line from the north. He had
married an English Christian, and, having none of the Scotch
accent, was ungracious enough to be ashamed of his blood. He was
desirous to obliterate alike the Hebrew and Caledonian vestiges in
his name, and signed himself E. M. Crotchet, which by degrees
induced the majority of his neighbours to think that his name was
Edward Matthew. The more effectually to sink the Mac, he
christened his villa "Crotchet Castle," and determined to hand down
to posterity the honours of Crotchet of Crotchet. He found it
essential to his dignity to furnish himself with a coat of arms,
which, after the proper ceremonies (payment being the principal),
he obtained, videlicet: Crest, a crotchet rampant, in A sharp;
Arms, three empty bladders, turgescent, to show how opinions are
formed; three bags of gold, pendent, to show why they are
maintained; three naked swords, tranchant, to show how they are
administered; and three barbers' blocks, gaspant, to show how they
Mr. Crotchet was left a widower, with two children; and, after the
death of his wife, so strong was his sense of the blessed comfort
she had been to him, that he determined never to give any other
woman an opportunity of obliterating the happy recollection.
He was not without a plausible pretence for styling his villa a
castle, for, in its immediate vicinity, and within his own enclosed
domain, were the manifest traces, on the brow of the hill, of a
Roman station, or castellum, which was still called the "Castle" by
the country people. The primitive mounds and trenches, merely
overgrown with greensward, with a few patches of juniper and box on
the vallum, and a solitary ancient beech surmounting the place of
the praetorium, presented nearly the same depths, heights, slopes,
and forms, which the Roman soldiers had originally given them.
From this cartel Mr. Crotchet christened his villa. With his
rustic neighbours he was, of course, immediately and necessarily a
squire: Squire Crotchet of the Castle; and he seemed to himself to
settle down as naturally into an English country gentleman, as if
his parentage had been as innocent of both Scotland and Jerusalem,
as his education was of Rome and Athens.
But as, though you expel nature with a pitch-fork, she will yet
always come back; he could not become, like a true-born English
squire, part and parcel of the barley-giving earth; he could not
find in game-bagging, poacher-shooting, trespasser-pounding,
footpath-stopping, common-enclosing, rack-renting, and all the
other liberal pursuits and pastimes which make a country gentleman
an ornament to the world and a blessing to the poor: he could not
find in these valuable and amiable occupations, and in a
corresponding range of ideas, nearly commensurate with that of the
great King Nebuchadnezzar when he was turned out to grass; he could
not find in this great variety of useful action, and vast field of
comprehensive thought, modes of filling up his time that accorded
with his Caledonian instinct. The inborn love of disputation,
which the excitements and engagements of a life of business had
smothered, burst forth through the calmer surface of a rural life.
He grew as fain as Captain Jamy, "to hear some argument betwixt ony
tway," and being very hospitable in his establishment, and liberal
in his invitations, a numerous detachment from the advanced guard
of the "march of intellect," often marched down to Crotchet Castle.
When the fashionable season filled London with exhibitors of all
descriptions, lecturers and else, Mr. Crotchet was in his glory;
for, in addition to the perennial literati of the metropolis, he
had the advantage of the visits of a number of hardy annuals,
chiefly from the north, who, as the interval of their metropolitan
flowering allowed, occasionally accompanied their London brethren
in excursions to Crotchet Castle.
Amongst other things, he took very naturally to political economy,
read all the books on the subject which were put forth by his own
countrymen, attended all lectures thereon, and boxed the technology
of the sublime science as expertly as an able seaman boxes the
With this agreeable mania he had the satisfaction of biting his
son, the hope of his name and race, who had borne off from Oxford
the highest academical honours; and who, treading in his father's
footsteps to honour and fortune, had, by means of a portion of the
old gentleman's surplus capital, made himself a junior partner in
the eminent loan-jobbing firm of Catchflat and Company. Here, in
the days of paper prosperity, he applied his science-illumined
genius to the blowing of bubbles, the bursting of which sent many a
poor devil to the gaol, the workhouse, or the bottom of the river,
but left young Crotchet rolling in riches.
These riches he had been on the point of doubling, by a marriage
with the daughter of Mr. Touchandgo, the great banker, when, one
foggy morning, Mr. Touchandgo and the contents of his till were
suddenly reported absent; and as the fortune which the young
gentleman had intended to marry was not forthcoming, this tender
affair of the heart was nipped in the bud.
Miss Touchandgo did not meet the shock of separation quite so
complacently as the young gentleman: for he lost only the lady,
whereas she lost a fortune as well as a lover. Some jewels, which
had glittered on her beautiful person as brilliantly as the bubble
of her father's wealth had done in the eyes of his gudgeons,
furnished her with a small portion of paper-currency; and this,
added to the contents of a fairy purse of gold, which she found in
her shoe on the eventful morning when Mr. Touchandgo melted into
thin air, enabled her to retreat into North Wales, where she took
up her lodging in a farm-house in Merionethshire, and boarded very
comfortably for a trifling payment, and the additional
consideration of teaching English, French, and music, to the little
Ap-Llymrys. In the course of this occupation she acquired
sufficient knowledge of Welsh to converse with the country people.
She climbed the mountains, and descended the dingles, with a foot
which daily habit made by degrees almost as steady as a native's.
She became the nymph of the scene; and if she sometimes pined in
thought for her faithless Strephon, her melancholy was anything but
green and yellow: it was as genuine white and red as occupation,
mountain air, thyme-fed mutton, thick cream, and fat bacon could
make it: to say nothing of an occasional glass of double X, which
Ap-Llymry, who yielded to no man west of the Wrekin in brewage,
never failed to press upon her at dinner and supper. He was also
earnest, and sometimes successful, in the recommendation of his
mead, and most pertinacious on winter nights in enforcing a trial
of the virtues of his elder wine. The young lady's personal
appearance, consequently, formed a very advantageous contrast to
that of her quondam lover, whose physiognomy the intense anxieties
of his bubble-blowing days, notwithstanding their triumphant
result, had left blighted, sallowed, and crow's-footed, to a degree
not far below that of the fallen spirit who, in the expressive
language of German romance, is described as "scathed by the
ineradicable traces of the thunderbolts of Heaven;" so that,
contemplating their relative geological positions, the poor
deserted damsel was flourishing on slate, while her rich and false
young knight was pining on chalk.
Squire Crotchet had also one daughter, whom he had christened
Lemma, and who, as likely to be endowed with a very ample fortune
was, of course, an object very tempting to many young soldiers of
fortune, who were marching with the march of mind, in a good
condition for taking castles, as far as not having a groat is a
qualification for such exploits. She was also a glittering bait to
divers young squires expectant (whose fathers were too well
acquainted with the occult signification of mortgage), and even to
one or two sprigs of nobility, who thought that the lining of a
civic purse would superinduce a very passable factitious nap upon a
thread-bare title. The young lady had received an expensive and
complicated education, complete in all the elements of superficial
display. She was thus eminently qualified to be the companion of
any masculine luminary who had kept due pace with the "astounding
progress" of intelligence. It must be confessed, that a man who
has not kept due pace with it, is not very easily found: this
march being one of that "astounding" character in which it seems
impossible that the rear can be behind the van. The young lady was
also tolerably good looking: north of Tweed, or in Palestine, she
would probable have been a beauty; but for the valleys of the
Thames she was perhaps a little too much to the taste of Solomon,
and had a nose which rather too prominently suggested the idea of
the tower of Lebanon, which looked towards Damascus.
In a village in the vicinity of the Castle was the vicarage of the
Reverend Doctor Folliott, a gentleman endowed with a tolerable
stock of learning, an interminable swallow, and an indefatigable
pair of lungs. His pre-eminence in the latter faculty gave
occasion to some etymologists to ring changes on his name, and to
decide that it was derived from Follis Optimus, softened through an
Italian medium into Folle Ottimo, contracted poetically into
Folleotto, and elided Anglice into Folliott, signifying a first-
rate pair of bellows. He claimed to be descended lineally from the
illustrious Gilbert Folliott, the eminent theologian, who was a
Bishop of London in the twelfth century, whose studies were
interrupted in the dead of night by the Devil, when a couple of
epigrams passed between them, and the Devil, of course, proved the
smaller wit of the two.
This reverend gentleman, being both learned and jolly, became by
degrees an indispensable ornament to the new squire's table. Mr.
Crotchet himself was eminently jolly, though by no means eminently
learned. In the latter respect he took after the great majority of
the sons of his father's land; had a smattering of many things, and
a knowledge of none; but possessed the true northern art of making
the most of his intellectual harlequin's jacket, by keeping the
best patches always bright and prominent.
CHAPTER II: THE MARCH OF MIND
Quoth Ralpho: nothing but the abuse
Of human learning you produce.--BUTLER
"God bless my soul, sir!" exclaimed the Reverend Doctor Folliott,
bursting, one fine May morning, into the breakfast-room at Crotchet
Castle, "I am out of all patience with this march of mind. Here
has my house been nearly burned down by my cook taking it into her
head to study hydrostatics in a sixpenny tract, published by the
Steam Intellect Society, and written by a learned friend who is for
doing all the world's business as well as his own, and is equally
well qualified to handle every branch of human knowledge. I have a
great abomination of this learned friend; as author, lawyer, and
politician, he is triformis, like Hecate; and in every one of his
three forms he is bifrons, like Janus; the true Mr. Facing-both-
ways of Vanity Fair. My cook must read his rubbish in bed; and, as
might naturally be expected, she dropped suddenly fast asleep,
overturned the candle, and set the curtains in a blaze. Luckily,
the footman went into the room at the moment, in time to tear down
the curtains and throw them into the chimney, and a pitcher of
water on her nightcap extinguished her wick; she is a greasy
subject, and would have burned like a short mould."
The reverend gentleman exhaled his grievance without looking to the
right or to the left; at length, turning on his pivot, he perceived
that the room was full of company, consisting of young Crotchet,
and some visitors whom he had brought from London. The Reverend
Doctor Folliott was introduced to Mr. Mac Quedy, the economist; Mr.
Skionar, the transcendental poet; Mr. Firedamp, the meteorologist;
and Lord Bossnowl, son of the Earl of Foolincourt, and member for
the borough of Rogueingrain.
The divine took his seat at the breakfast-table, and began to
compose his spirits by the gentle sedative of a large cup of tea,
the demulcent of a well-buttered muffin, and the tonic of a small
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. You are a man of taste, Mr. Crotchet. A man of
taste is seen at once in the array of his breakfast-table. It is
the foot of Hercules, the far-shining face of the great work,
according to Pindar's doctrine: [Greek text]. The breakfast is
the [Greek text] of the great work of the day. Chocolate, coffee,
tea, cream, eggs, ham, tongue, cold fowl, all these are good, and
bespeak good knowledge in him who sets them forth: but the
touchstone is fish: anchovy is the first step, prawns and shrimps
the second; and I laud him who reaches even to these: potted char
and lampreys are the third, and a fine stretch of progression; but
lobster is, indeed, matter for a May morning, and demands a rare
combination of knowledge and virtue in him who sets it forth.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Well, sir, and what say you to a fine fresh trout,
hot and dry, in a napkin? or a herring out of the water into the
frying-pan, on the shore of Loch Fyne?
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Sir, I say every nation has some eximious
virtue; and your country is pre-eminent in the glory of fish for
breakfast. We have much to learn from you in that line at any
MR. MAC QUEDY. And in many others, sir, I believe. Morals and
metaphysics, politics and political economy, the way to make the
most of all the modifications of smoke; steam, gas, and paper
currency; you have all these to learn from us; in short, all the
arts and sciences. We are the modern Athenians.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. I, for one, sir, am content to learn nothing
from you but the art and science of fish for breakfast. Be
content, sir, to rival the Boeotians, whose redeeming virtue was in
fish, touching which point you may consult Aristophanes and his
scholiast in the passage of Lysistrata, [Greek text], and leave the
name of Athenians to those who have a sense of the beautiful, and a
perception of metrical quantity.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Then, sir, I presume you set no value on the right
principles of rent, profit, wages, and currency?
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. My principles, sir, in these things are, to
take as much as I can get, and pay no more than I can help. These
are every man's principles, whether they be the right principles or
no. There, sir, is political economy in a nutshell.
MR. MAC QUEDY. The principles, sir, which regulate production and
consumption are independent of the will of any individual as to
giving or taking, and do not lie in a nutshell by any means.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Sir, I will thank you for a leg of that capon.
LORD BOSSNOWL. But, sir, by-the-bye, how came your footman to be
going into your cook's room? It was very providential to be sure,
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Sir, as good came of it, I shut my eyes, and
ask no questions. I suppose he was going to study hydrostatics,
and he found himself under the necessity of practising hydraulics.
MR. FIREDAMP. Sir, you seem to make very light of science.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Yes, sir, such science as the learned friend
deals in: everything for everybody, science for all, schools for
all, rhetoric for all, law for all, physic for all, words for all,
and sense for none. I say, sir, law for lawyers, and cookery for
cooks: and I wish the learned friend, for all his life, a cook
that will pass her time in studying his works; then every dinner he
sits down to at home, he will sit on the stool of repentance.
LORD BOSSNOWL. Now really that would be too severe: my cook
should read nothing but Ude.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. No, sir! let Ude and the learned friend singe
fowls together; let both avaunt from my kitchen. [Greek text].
Ude says an elegant supper may be given with sandwiches. Horresco
referens. An elegant supper. Di meliora piis. No Ude for me.
Conviviality went out with punch and suppers. I cherish their
memory. I sup when I can, but not upon sandwiches. To offer me a
sandwich, when I am looking for a supper, is to add insult to
injury. Let the learned friend, and the modern Athenians, sup upon
MR. MAC QUEDY. Nay, sir; the modern Athenians know better than
that. A literary supper in sweet Edinbro' would cure you of the
prejudice you seem to cherish against us.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Well, sir, well; there is cogency in a good
supper; a good supper in these degenerate days bespeaks a good man;
but much more is wanted to make up an Athenian. Athenians, indeed!
where is your theatre? who among you has written a comedy? where is
your Attic salt? which of you can tell who was Jupiter's great-
grandfather? or what metres will successively remain, if you take
off the three first syllables, one by one, from a pure antispastic
acatalectic tetrameter? Now, sir, there are three questions for
you: theatrical, mythological, and metrical; to every one of which
an Athenian would give an answer that would lay me prostrate in my
MR. MAC QUEDY. Well, sir, as to your metre and your mythology,
they may e'en wait a wee. For your comedy there is the "Gentle
Shepherd" of the divine Allan Ramsay.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. The "Gentle Shepherd"! It is just as much a
comedy as the Book of Job.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Well, sir, if none of us have written a comedy, I
cannot see that it is any such great matter, any more than I can
conjecture what business a man can have at this time of day with
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. The great business is, sir, that you call
yourselves Athenians, while you know nothing that the Athenians
thought worth knowing, and dare not show your noses before the
civilised world in the practice of any one art in which they were
excellent. Modern Athens, sir! the assumption is a personal
affront to every man who has a Sophocles in his library. I will
thank you for an anchovy.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Metaphysics, sir; metaphysics. Logic and moral
philosophy. There we are at home. The Athenians only sought the
way, and we have found it; and to all this we have added political
economy, the science of sciences.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. A hyperbarbarous technology, that no Athenian
ear could have borne. Premises assumed without evidence, or in
spite of it; and conclusions drawn from them so logically, that
they must necessarily be erroneous.
MR. SKIONAR. I cannot agree with you, Mr. Mac Quedy, that you have
found the true road of metaphysics, which the Athenians only
sought. The Germans have found it, sir: the sublime Kant and his
MR. MAC QUEDY. I have read the sublime Kant, sir, with an anxious
desire to understand him, and I confess I have not succeeded.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. He wants the two great requisites of head and
MR. SKIONAR. Transcendentalism is the philosophy of intuition, the
development of universal convictions; truths which are inherent in
the organisation of mind, which cannot be obliterated, though they
may be obscured, by superstitious prejudice on the one hand, and by
the Aristotelian logic on the other.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Well, sir, I have no notion of logic obscuring a
MR. SKIONAR. There is only one true logic, which is the
transcendental; and this can prove only the one true philosophy,
which is also the transcendental. The logic of your Modern Athens
can prove everything equally; and that is, in my opinion,
tantamount to proving nothing at all.
MR. CROTCHET. The sentimental against the rational, the intuitive
against the inductive, the ornamental against the useful, the
intense against the tranquil, the romantic against the classical;
these are great and interesting controversies, which I should like,
before I die, to see satisfactorily settled.
MR. FIREDAMP. There is another great question, greater than all
these, seeing that it is necessary to be alive in order to settle
any question; and this is the question of water against human life.
Wherever there is water, there is malaria, and wherever there is
malaria, there are the elements of death. The great object of a
wise man should be to live on a gravelly hill, without so much as a
duck-pond within ten miles of him, eschewing cisterns and
waterbutts, and taking care that there be no gravel-pits for
lodging the rain. The sun sucks up infection from water, wherever
it exists on the face of the earth.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Well, sir, you have for you the authority of
the ancient mystagogue, who said: [Greek text]. For my part I
care not a rush (or any other aquatic and inesculent vegetable) who
or what sucks up either the water or the infection. I think the
proximity of wine a matter of much more importance than the
longinquity of water. You are here within a quarter of a mile of
the Thames, but in the cellar of my friend, Mr. Crotchet, there is
the talismanic antidote of a thousand dozen of old wine; a
beautiful spectacle, I assure you, and a model of arrangement.
MR. FIREDAMP. Sir, I feel the malignant influence of the river in
every part of my system. Nothing but my great friendship for Mr.
Crotchet would have brought me so nearly within the jaws of the
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. After dinner, sir, after dinner, I will meet
you on this question. I shall then be armed for the strife. You
may fight like Hercules against Achelous, but I shall flourish the
Bacchic thyrsus, which changed rivers into wine: as Nonnus sweetly
sings, [Greek text].
MR. CROTCHET, JUN. I hope, Mr. Firedamp, you will let your
friendship carry you a little closer into the jaws of the lion. I
am fitting up a flotilla of pleasure-boats, with spacious cabins,
and a good cellar, to carry a choice philosophical party up the
Thames and Severn, into the Ellesmere canal, where we shall be
among the mountains of North Wales; which we may climb or not, as
we think proper; but we will, at any rate, keep our floating hotel
well provisioned, and we will try to settle all the questions over
which a shadow of doubt yet hangs in the world of philosophy.
MR. FIREDAMP. Out of my great friendship for you, I will certainly
go; but I do not expect to survive the experiment.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Alter erit tum Tiphys, et altera quae vehat
Argo Delectos Heroas. I will be of the party, though I must hire
an officiating curate, and deprive poor dear Mrs. Folliott, for
several weeks, of the pleasure of combing my wig.
LORD BOSSNOWL. I hope, if I am to be of the party, our ship is not
to be the ship of fools: He! he!
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. If you are one of the party, sir, it most
assuredly will not: Ha! ha!
LORD BOSSNOWL. Pray sir, what do you mean by Ha! ha!?
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Precisely, sir, what you mean by He! he!
MR. MAC QUEDY. You need not dispute about terms; they are two
modes of expressing merriment, with or without reason; reason being
in no way essential to mirth. No man should ask another why he
laughs, or at what, seeing that he does not always know, and that,
if he does, he is not a responsible agent. Laughter is an
involuntary action of certain muscles, developed in the human
species by the progress of civilisation. The savage never laughs.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. No, sir, he has nothing to laugh at. Give him
Modern Athens, the "learned friend," and the Steam Intellect
Society. They will develop his muscles.
CHAPTER III: THE ROMAN CAMP
He loved her more then seven yere,
Yet was he of her love never the nere;
He was not ryche of golde and fe,
A gentyll man forsoth was he.
The Squyr of Lowe Degre.
The Reverend Doctor Folliott having promised to return to dinner,
walked back to his vicarage, meditating whether he should pass the
morning in writing his next sermon, or in angling for trout, and
had nearly decided in favour of the latter proposition, repeating
to himself, with great unction, the lines of Chaucer:
And as for me, though that I can but lite,
On bokis for to read I me delite,
And to 'hem yeve I faithe and full credence,
And in mine herte have 'hem in reverence,
So hertily, that there is game none,
That fro my bokis makith me to gone,
But it be seldome, on the holie daie;
Save certainly whan that the month of Maie
Is cousin, and I here the foulis sing,
And that the flouris ginnin for to spring,
Farwell my boke and my devocion:
when his attention was attracted by a young gentleman who was
sitting on a camp stool with a portfolio on his knee, taking a
sketch of the Roman Camp, which, as has been already said, was
within the enclosed domain of Mr. Crotchet. The young stranger,
who had climbed over the fence, espying the portly divine, rose up,
and hoped that he was not trespassing. "By no means, sir," said
the divine, "all the arts and sciences are welcome here; music,
painting, and poetry; hydrostatics and political economy;
meteorology, transcendentalism, and fish for breakfast."
THE STRANGER. A pleasant association, sir, and a liberal and
discriminating hospitality. This is an old British camp, I
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Roman, sir; Roman; undeniably Roman. The
vallum is past controversy. It was not a camp, sir, a castrum, but
a castellum, a little camp, or watch-station, to which was
attached, on the peak of the adjacent hill, a beacon for
transmitting alarms. You will find such here and there, all along
the range of chalk hills, which traverses the country from north-
east to south-west, and along the base of which runs the ancient
Iknield road, whereof you may descry a portion in that long
straight white line.
THE STRANGER. I beg your pardon, sir; do I understand this place
to be your property?
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. It is not mine, sir: the more is the pity; yet
is it so far well, that the owner is my good friend, and a highly
THE STRANGER. Good and respectable, sir, I take it, means rich?
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. That is their meaning, sir.
THE STRANGER. I understand the owner to be a Mr. Crotchet. He has
a handsome daughter, I am told.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. He has, sir. Her eyes are like the fish-pools
of Heshbon, by the gate of Bethrabbim; and she is to have a
handsome fortune, to which divers disinterested gentlemen are
paying their addresses. Perhaps you design to be one of them?
THE STRANGER. No, sir; I beg pardon if my questions seem
impertinent; I have no such design. There is a son too, I believe,
sir, a great and successful blower of bubbles?
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. A hero, sir, in his line. Never did angler in
September hook more gudgeons.
THE STRANGER. To say the truth, two very amiable young people,
with whom I have some little acquaintance, Lord Bossnowl, and his
sister, Lady Clarinda, are reported to be on the point of
concluding a double marriage with Miss Crotchet and her brother; by
way of putting a new varnish on old nobility. Lord Foolincourt,
their father, is terribly poor for a lord who owns a borough.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Well, sir, the Crotchets have plenty of money,
and the old gentleman's weak point is a hankering after high blood.
I saw your acquaintance, Lord Bossnowl, this morning, but I did not
see his sister. She may be there, nevertheless, and doing
fashionable justice to this fine May morning, by lying in bed till
THE STRANGER. Young Mr. Crotchet, sir, has been, like his father,
the architect of his own fortune, has he not? An illustrious
example of the reward of honesty and industry?
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. As to honesty, sir, he made his fortune in the
city of London, and if that commodity be of any value there, you
will find it in the price current. I believe it is below par, like
the shares of young Crotchet's fifty companies. But his progress
has not been exactly like his father's. It has been more rapid,
and he started with more advantages. He began with a fine capital
from his father. The old gentleman divided his fortune into three
not exactly equal portions; one for himself, one for his daughter,
and one for his son, which he handed over to him, saying, "Take it
once for all, and make the most of it; if you lose it where I won
it, not another stiver do you get from me during my life." But,
sir, young Crotchet doubled, and trebled, and quadrupled it, and
is, as you say, a striking example of the reward of industry; not
that I think his labour has been so great as his luck.
THE STRANGER. But, sir, is all this solid? is there no danger of
reaction? no day of reckoning to cut down in an hour prosperity
that has grown up like a mushroom?
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Nay, sir, I know not. I do not pry into these
matters. I am, for my own part, very well satisfied with the young
gentleman. Let those who are not so look to themselves. It is
quite enough for me that he came down last night from London, and
that he had the good sense to bring with him a basket of lobsters.
Sir, I wish you a good morning.
The stranger having returned the reverend gentleman's good morning,
resumed his sketch, and was intently employed on it when Mr.
Crotchet made his appearance with Mr. Mac Quedy and Mr. Skionar,
whom he was escorting round his grounds, according to his custom
with new visitors; the principal pleasure of possessing an
extensive domain being that of showing it to other people. Mr. Mac
Quedy, according also to the laudable custom of his countrymen, had
been appraising everything that fell under his observation; but, on
arriving at the Roman camp, of which the value was purely
imaginary, he contented himself with exclaiming: "Eh! this is just
a curiosity, and very pleasant to sit in on a summer day."
MR. SKIONAR. And call up the days of old, when the Roman eagle
spread its wings in the place of that beechen foliage. It gives a
fine idea of duration, to think that that fine old tree must have
sprung from the earth ages after this camp was formed.
MR. MAC QUEDY. How old, think you, may the tree be?
MR. CROTCHET. I have records which show it to be three hundred
MR. MAC QUEDY. That is a great age for a beech in good condition.
But you see the camp is some fifteen hundred years, or so, older;
and three times six being eighteen, I think you get a clearer idea
of duration out of the simple arithmetic, than out of your eagle
MR. SKIONAR. That is a very unpoetical, if not unphilosophical,
mode of viewing antiquities. Your philosophy is too literal for
our imperfect vision. We cannot look directly into the nature of
things; we can only catch glimpses of the mighty shadow in the
camera obscura of transcendental intelligence. These six and
eighteen are only words to which we give conventional meanings. We
can reason, but we cannot feel, by help of them. The tree and the
eagle, contemplated in the ideality of space and time, become
subjective realities, that rise up as landmarks in the mystery of
MR. MAC QUEDY. Well, sir, if you understand that, I wish you joy.
But I must be excused for holding that my proposition, three times
six are eighteen, is more intelligible than yours. A worthy friend
of mine, who is a sort of amateur in philosophy, criticism,
politics, and a wee bit of many things more, says: "Men never
begin to study antiquities till they are saturated with
MR. SKIONAR. What is civilisation?
MR. MAC QUEDY. It is just respect for property. A state in which
no man takes wrongfully what belongs to another, is a perfectly
MR. SKIONAR. Your friend's antiquaries must have lived in El
Dorado, to have had an opportunity of being saturated with such a
MR. MAC QUEDY. It is a question of degree. There is more respect
for property here than in Angola.
MR. SKIONAR. That depends on the light in which things are viewed.
Mr. Crotchet was rubbing his hands, in hopes of a fine discussion,
when they came round to the side of the camp where the picturesque
gentleman was sketching. The stranger was rising up, when Mr.
Crotchet begged him not to disturb himself, and presently walked
away with his two guests.
Shortly after, Miss Crotchet and Lady Clarinda, who had breakfasted
by themselves, made their appearance at the same spot, hanging each
on an arm of Lord Bossnowl, who very much preferred their company
to that of the philosophers, though he would have preferred the
company of the latter, or any company to his own. He thought it
very singular that so agreeable a person as he held himself to be
to others, should be so exceedingly tiresome to himself: he did
not attempt to investigate the cause of this phenomenon, but was
contented with acting on his knowledge of the fact, and giving
himself as little of his own private society as possible.
The stranger rose as they approached, and was immediately
recognised by the Bossnowls as an old acquaintance, and saluted
with the exclamation of "Captain Fitzchrome!" The interchange of
salutations between Lady Clarinda and the Captain was accompanied
with an amiable confusion on both sides, in which the observant
eyes of Miss Crotchet seemed to read the recollection of an affair
of the heart.
Lord Bossnowl was either unconscious of any such affair, or
indifferent to its existence. He introduced the Captain very
cordially to Miss Crotchet; and the young lady invited him, as the
friend of their guests, to partake of her father's hospitality, an
offer which was readily accepted.
The Captain took his portfolio under his right arm, his camp stool
in his right hand, offered his left arm to Lady Clarinda, and
followed at a reasonable distance behind Miss Crotchet and Lord
Bossnowl, contriving, in the most natural manner possible, to drop
more and more into the rear.
LADY CLARINDA. I am glad to see you can make yourself so happy
with drawing old trees and mounds of grass.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Happy, Lady Clarinda! oh, no! How can I be
happy when I see the idol of my heart about to be sacrificed on the
shrine of Mammon?
LADY CLARINDA. Do you know, though Mammon has a sort of ill name,
I really think he is a very popular character; there must be at the
bottom something amiable about him. He is certainly one of those
pleasant creatures whom everybody abuses, but without whom no
evening party is endurable. I dare say, love in a cottage is very
pleasant; but then it positively must be a cottage ornee: but
would not the same love be a great deal safer in a castle, even if
Mammon furnished the fortification?
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Oh, Lady Clarinda! there is a heartlessness in
that language that chills me to the soul.
LADY CLARINDA. Heartlessness! No: my heart is on my lips. I
speak just what I think. You used to like it, and say it was as
delightful as it was rare.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. True, but you did not then talk as you do now,
of love in a castle.
LADY CLARINDA. Well, but only consider: a dun is a horridly
vulgar creature; it is a creature I cannot endure the thought of:
and a cottage lets him in so easily. Now a castle keeps him at
bay. You are a half-pay officer, and are at leisure to command the
garrison: but where is the castle? and who is to furnish the
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Is it come to this, that you make a jest of my
poverty? Yet is my poverty only comparative. Many decent families
are maintained on smaller means.
LADY CLARINDA. Decent families: ay, decent is the distinction
from respectable. Respectable means rich, and decent means poor.
I should die if I heard my family called decent. And then your
decent family always lives in a snug little place: I hate a little
place; I like large rooms and large looking-glasses, and large
parties, and a fine large butler, with a tinge of smooth red in his
face; an outward and visible sign that the family he serves is
respectable; if not noble, highly respectable.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. I cannot believe that you say all this in
earnest. No man is less disposed than I am to deny the importance
of the substantial comforts of life. I once flattered myself that
in our estimate of these things we were nearly of a mind.
LADY CLARINDA. Do you know, I think an opera-box a very
substantial comfort, and a carriage. You will tell me that many
decent people walk arm-in-arm through the snow, and sit in clogs
and bonnets in the pit at the English theatre. No doubt it is very
pleasant to those who are used to it; but it is not to my taste.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. You always delighted in trying to provoke me;
but I cannot believe that you have not a heart.
LADY CLARINDA. You do not like to believe that I have a heart, you
mean. You wish to think I have lost it, and you know to whom; and
when I tell you that it is still safe in my own keeping, and that I
do not mean to give it away, the unreasonable creature grows angry.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Angry! far from it; I am perfectly cool.
LADY CLARINDA. Why, you are pursing your brows, biting your lips,
and lifting up your foot as if you would stamp it into the earth.
I must say anger becomes you; you would make a charming Hotspur.
Your every-day-dining-out face is rather insipid: but I assure you
my heart is in danger when you are in the heroics. It is so rare,
too, in these days of smooth manners, to see anything like natural
expression in a man's face. There is one set form for every man's
face in female society: a sort of serious comedy walking
gentleman's face: but the moment the creature falls in love he
begins to give himself airs, and plays off all the varieties of his
physiognomy from the Master Slender to the Petruchio; and then he
is actually very amusing.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Well, Lady Clarinda, I will not be angry,
amusing as it may be to you: I listen more in sorrow than in
anger. I half believe you in earnest: and mourn as over a fallen
LADY CLARINDA. What, because I have made up my mind not to give
away my heart when I can sell it? I will introduce you to my new
acquaintance, Mr. Mac Quedy: he will talk to you by the hour about
exchangeable value, and show you that no rational being will part
with anything, except to the highest bidder.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Now, I am sure you are not in earnest. You
cannot adopt such sentiments in their naked deformity.
LADY CLARINDA. Naked deformity! Why, Mr. Mac Quedy will prove to
you that they are the cream of the most refined philosophy. You
live a very pleasant life as a bachelor, roving about the country
with your portfolio under your arm. I am not fit to be a poor
man's wife. I cannot take any kind of trouble, or do any one thing
that is of any use. Many decent families roast a bit of mutton on
a string; but if I displease my father I shall not have as much as
will buy the string, to say nothing of the meat; and the bare idea
of such cookery gives me the horrors.
By this time they were near the Castle, and met Miss Crotchet and
her companion, who had turned back to meet them. Captain
Fitzchrome was shortly after heartily welcomed by Mr. Crotchet, and
the party separated to dress for dinner, the Captain being by no
means in an enviable state of mind, and full of misgivings as to
the extent of belief that he was bound to accord to the words of
the lady of his heart.
CHAPTER IV: THE PARTY
En quoi cognoissez-vous la folie anticque? En quoi cognoissez-vous
la sagesse presente?--RABELAIS.
"If I were sketching a bandit who had just shot his last pursuer,
having outrun all the rest, that is the very face I would give
him," soliloquised the Captain, as he studied the features of his
rival in the drawing-room, during the miserable half-hour before
dinner, when dulness reigns predominant over expectant company,
especially when they are waiting for some one last comer, whom they
all heartily curse in their hearts, and whom, nevertheless, or
indeed therefore-the-more, they welcome as a sinner, more heartily
than all the just persons who had been punctual to their
engagement. Some new visitors had arrived in the morning, and, as
the company dropped in one by one, the Captain anxiously watched
the unclosing door for the form of his beloved: but she was the
last to make her appearance, and on her entry gave him a malicious
glance, which he construed into a telegraphic communication that
she had stayed away to torment him. Young Crotchet escorted her
with marked attention to the upper end of the drawing-room, where a
great portion of the company was congregated around Miss Crotchet.
These being the only ladies in the company, it was evident that old
Mr. Crotchet would give his arm to Lady Clarinda, an arrangement
with which the Captain could not interfere. He therefore took his
station near the door, studying his rival from a distance, and
determined to take advantage of his present position, to secure the
seat next to his charmer. He was meditating on the best mode of
operation for securing this important post with due regard to bien-
seance, when he was twitched by the button by Mr. Mac Quedy, who
said to him: "Lady Clarinda tells me, sir, that you are anxious to
talk with me on the subject of exchangeable value, from which I
infer that you have studied political economy, and as a great deal
depends on the definition of value, I shall be glad to set you
right on that point." "I am much obliged to you, sir," said the
Captain, and was about to express his utter disqualification for
the proposed instruction, when Mr. Skionar walked up and said:
"Lady Clarinda informs me that you wish to talk over with me the
question of subjective reality. I am delighted to fall in with a
gentleman who daily appreciates the transcendental philosophy."
"Lady Clarinda is too good," said the Captain; and was about to
protest that he had never heard the word "transcendental" before,
when the butler announced dinner. Mr. Crotchet led the way with
Lady Clarinda: Lord Bossnowl followed with Miss Crotchet: the
economist and transcendentalist pinned in the Captain, and held
him, one by each arm, as he impatiently descended the stairs in the
rear of several others of the company, whom they had forced him to
let pass; but the moment he entered the dining-room he broke loose
from them, and at the expense of a little brusquerie, secured his
"Well, Captain," said Lady Clarinda, "I perceive you can still
"What could possess you," said the Captain, "to send two
unendurable and inconceivable bores to intercept me with rubbish
about which I neither know nor care any more than the man in the
"Perhaps," said Lady Clarinda, "I saw your design, and wished to
put your generalship to the test. But do not contradict anything I
have said about you, and see if the learned will find you out."
"There is fine music, as Rabelais observes, in the cliquetis
d'asssiettes, a refreshing shade in the ombre de salle a manger,
and an elegant fragrance in the fumee de roti," said a voice at the
Captain's elbow. The Captain turning round, recognised his
clerical friend of the morning, who knew him again immediately, and
said he was extremely glad to meet him there; more especially as
Lady Clarinda had assured him that he was an enthusiastic lover of
"Lady Clarinda," said the Captain, "is a very pleasant young lady."
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. So she is, sir: and I understand she has all
the wit of the family to herself, whatever that totum may be. But
a glass of wine after soup is, as the French say, the verre de
sante. The current of opinion sets in favour of Hock: but I am
for Madeira; I do not fancy Hock till I have laid a substratum of
Madeira. Will you join me?
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. With pleasure.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Here is a very fine salmon before me: and May
is the very point nomme to have salmon in perfection. There is a
fine turbot close by, and there is much to be said in his behalf:
but salmon in May is the king of fish.
MR. CROTCHET. That salmon before you, doctor, was caught in the
Thames, this morning.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. [Greek text]. Rarity of rarities! A Thames
salmon caught this morning. Now, Mr. Mac Quedy, even in fish your
Modern Athens must yield. Cedite Graii.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Eh! sir, on its own around, your Thames salmon has
two virtues over all others; first, that it is fresh; and, second,
that it is rare; for I understand you do not take half a dozen in a
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. In some years, sir, not one. Mud, filth, gas-
dregs, lock-weirs, and the march of mind, developed in the form of
poaching, have ruined the fishery. But, when we do catch a salmon,
happy the man to whom he falls.
MR. MAC QUEDY. I confess, sir, this is excellent: but I cannot
see why it should be better than a Tweed salmon at Kelso.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Sir, I will take a glass of Hock with you.
MR. MAC QUEDY. With all my heart, sir. There are several
varieties of the salmon genus: but the common salmon, the salmo
salar, is only one species, one and the same everywhere, just like
the human mind. Locality and education make all the difference.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Education! Well, sir, I have no doubt schools
for all are just as fit for the species salmo salar as for the
genus homo. But you must allow that the specimen before us has
finished his education in a manner that does honour to his college.
However, I doubt that the salmo salar is only one species, that is
to say, precisely alike in all localities. I hold that every river
has its own breed, with essential differences; in flavour
especially. And as for the human mind, I deny that it is the same
in all men. I hold that there is every variety of natural capacity
from the idiot to Newton and Shakespeare; the mass of mankind,
midway between these extremes, being blockheads of different
degrees; education leaving them pretty nearly as it found them,
with this single difference, that it gives a fixed direction to
their stupidity, a sort of incurable wry neck to the thing they
call their understanding. So one nose points always east, and
another always west, and each is ready to swear that it points due
MR. CROTCHET. If that be the point of truth, very few intellectual
noses point due north.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Only those that point to the Modern Athens.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Where all native noses point southward.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Eh, sir, northward for wisdom, and southward for
MR. CROTCHET, JUN. Champagne, doctor?
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Most willingly. But you will permit my
drinking it while it sparkles. I hold it a heresy to let it deaden
in my hand, while the glass of my compotator is being filled on the
opposite side of the table. By-the-bye, Captain, you remember a
passage in Athenaeus, where he cites Menander on the subject of
fish-sauce: [Greek text]. (The Captain was aghast for an answer
that would satisfy both his neighbours, when he was relieved by the
divine continuing.) The science of fish-sauce, Mr. Mac Quedy, is
by no means brought to perfection; a fine field of discovery still
lies open in that line.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Nay, sir, beyond lobster-sauce, I take it, ye
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. In their line, I grant you, oyster and lobster-
sauce are the pillars of Hercules. But I speak of the cruet
sauces, where the quintessence of the sapid is condensed in a
phial. I can taste in my mind's palate a combination, which, if I
could give it reality, I would christen with the name of my
college, and hand it down to posterity as a seat of learning
MR. MAC QUEDY. Well, sir, I wish you success, but I cannot let
slip the question we started just now. I say, cutting off idiots,
who have no minds at all, all minds are by nature alike. Education
(which begins from their birth) makes them what they are.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. No, sir, it makes their tendencies, not their
power. Caesar would have been the first wrestler on the village
common. Education might have made him a Nadir Shah; it might also
have made him a Washington; it could not have made him a merry-
andrew, for our newspapers to extol as a model of eloquence.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Now, sir, I think education would have made him
just anything, and fit for any station, from the throne to the
stocks; saint or sinner, aristocrat or democrat, judge, counsel, or
prisoner at the bar.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. I will thank you for a slice of lamb, with
lemon and pepper. Before I proceed with this discussion,--Vin de
Grave, Mr. Skionar,--I must interpose one remark. There is a set
of persons in your city, Mr. Mac Quedy, who concoct, every three or
four months, a thing, which they call a review: a sort of sugar-
plum manufacturers to the Whig aristocracy.
MR. MAC QUEDY. I cannot tell, sir, exactly, what you mean by that;
but I hope you will speak of those gentlemen with respect, seeing
that I am one of them.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Sir, I must drown my inadvertence in a glass of
Sauterne with you. There is a set of gentlemen in your city -
MR. MAC QUEDY. Not in our city, exactly; neither are they a set.
There is an editor, who forages for articles in all quarters, from
John o' Groat's house to the Land's End. It is not a board, or a
society: it is a mere intellectual bazaar, where A, B, and C,
bring their wares to market.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Well, sir, these gentlemen among them, the
present company excepted, have practised as much dishonesty as, in
any other department than literature, would have brought the
practitioner under the cognisance of the police. In politics, they
have ran with the hare and hunted with the hound. In criticism,
they have, knowingly and unblushingly, given false characters, both
for good and for evil; sticking at no art of misrepresentation, to
clear out of the field of literature all who stood in the way of
the interests of their own clique. They have never allowed their
own profound ignorance of anything (Greek for instance) to throw
even an air of hesitation into their oracular decision on the
matter. They set an example of profligate contempt for truth, of
which the success was in proportion to the effrontery; and when
their prosperity had filled the market with competitors, they cried
out against their own reflected sin, as if they had never committed
it, or were entitled to a monopoly of it. The latter, I rather
think, was what they wanted.
MR. CROTCHET. Hermitage, doctor?
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Nothing better, sir. The father who first
chose the solitude of that vineyard, knew well how to cultivate his
spirit in retirement. Now, Mr. Mac Quedy, Achilles was
distinguished above all the Greeks for his inflexible love of
truth; could education have made Achilles one of your reviewers?
MR. MAC QUEDY. No doubt of it, even if your character of them were
true to the letter.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. And I say, sir--chicken and asparagus--Titan
had made him of better clay. I hold with Pindar, "All that is most
excellent is so by nature." [Greek text]. Education can give
purposes, but not powers; and whatever purposes had been given him,
he would have gone straight forward to them; straight forward, Mr.
MR. MAC QUEDY. No, sir, education makes the man, powers, purposes,
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. There is the point, sir, on which we join
Several others of the company now chimed in with their opinions,
which gave the divine an opportunity to degustate one or two side
dishes, and to take a glass of wine with each of the young ladies.
CHAPTER V: CHARACTERS
Ay impute a honte plus que mediocre etre vu spectateur ocieux de
tant vaillans, disertz, et chevalereux personnaiges.
LADY CLARINDA (to the Captain). I declare the creature has been
listening to all this rigmarole, instead of attending to me. Do
you ever expect forgiveness? But now that they are all talking
together, and you cannot make out a word they say, nor they hear a
word that we say, I will describe the company to you. First, there
is the old gentleman on my left hand, at the head of the table, who
is now leaning the other way to talk to my brother. He is a good-
tempered, half-informed person, very unreasonably fond of
reasoning, and of reasoning people; people that talk nonsense
logically: he is fond of disputation himself, when there are only
one or two, but seldom does more than listen in a large company of
illumines. He made a great fortune in the city, and has the
comfort of a good conscience. He is very hospitable, and is
generous in dinners; though nothing would induce him to give
sixpence to the poor, because he holds that all misfortune is from
imprudence, that none but the rich ought to marry, and that all
ought to thrive by honest industry, as he did. He is ambitious of
founding a family, and of allying himself with nobility; and is
thus as willing as other grown children to throw away thousands for
a gew-gaw, though he would not part with a penny for charity. Next
to him is my brother, whom you know as well as I do. He has
finished his education with credit, and as he never ventures to
oppose me in anything, I have no doubt he is very sensible. He has
good manners, is a model of dress, and is reckoned ornamental in
all societies. Next to him is Miss Crotchet, my sister-in-law that
is to be. You see she is rather pretty, and very genteel. She is
tolerably accomplished, has her table always covered with new
novels, thinks Mr. Mac Quedy an oracle, and is extremely desirous
to be called "my lady." Next to her is Mr. Firedamp, a very absurd
person, who thinks that water is the evil principle. Next to him
is Mr. Eavesdrop, a man who, by dint of a certain something like
smartness, has got into good society. He is a sort of bookseller's
tool, and coins all his acquaintance in reminiscences and sketches
of character. I am very shy of him, for fear he should print me.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. If he print you in your own likeness, which is
that of an angel, you need not fear him. If he print you in any
other, I will cut his throat. But proceed -
LADY CLARINDA. Next to him is Mr. Henbane, the toxicologist, I
think he calls himself. He has passed half his life in studying
poisons and antidotes. The first thing he did on his arrival here
was to kill the cat; and while Miss Crotchet was crying over her,
he brought her to life again. I am more shy of him than the other.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. They are two very dangerous fellows, and I
shall take care to keep them both at a respectful distance. Let us
hope that Eavesdrop will sketch off Henbane, and that Henbane will
poison him for his trouble.
LADY CLARINDA. Well, next to him sits Mr. Mac Quedy, the Modern
Athenian, who lays down the law about everything, and therefore may
be taken to understand everything. He turns all the affairs of
this world into questions of buying and selling. He is the Spirit
of the Frozen Ocean to everything like romance and sentiment. He
condenses their volume of steam into a drop of cold water in a
moment. He has satisfied me that I am a commodity in the market,
and that I ought to set myself at a high price. So you see, he who
would have me must bid for me.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. I shall discuss that point with Mr. Mac Quedy.
LADY CLARINDA. Not a word for your life. Our flirtation is our
own secret. Let it remain so.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Flirtation, Clarinda! Is that all that the
most ardent -
LADY CLARINDA. Now, don't be rhapsodical here. Next to Mr. Mac
Quedy is Mr. Skionar, a sort of poetical philosopher, a curious
compound of the intense and the mystical. He abominates all the
ideas of Mr. Mac Quedy, and settles everything by sentiment and
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Then, I say, he is the wiser man.
LADY CLARINDA. They are two oddities, but a little of them is
amusing, and I like to hear them dispute. So you see I am in
training for a philosopher myself.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Any philosophy, for Heaven's sake, but the
pound-shilling-and-pence philosophy of Mr. Mac Quedy.
LADY CLARINDA. Why, they say that even Mr. Skionar, though he is a
great dreamer, always dreams with his eyes open, or with one eye at
any rate, which is an eye to his gain: but I believe that in this
respect the poor man has got an ill name by keeping bad company.
He has two dear friends, Mr. Wilful Wontsee, and Mr. Rumblesack
Shantsee, poets of some note, who used to see visions of Utopia,
and pure republics beyond the Western deep: but, finding that
these El Dorados brought them no revenue, they turned their vision-
seeing faculty into the more profitable channel of espying all
sorts of virtues in the high and the mighty, who were able and
willing to pay for the discovery.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. I do not fancy these virtue-spyers.
LADY CLARINDA. Next to Mr. Skionar sits Mr. Chainmail, a good-
looking young gentleman, as you see, with very antiquated tastes.
He is fond of old poetry, and is something of a poet himself. He
is deep in monkish literature, and holds that the best state of
society was that of the twelfth century, when nothing was going
forward but fighting, feasting, and praying, which he says are the
three great purposes for which man was made. He laments bitterly
over the inventions of gunpowder, steam, and gas, which he says
have ruined the world. He lives within two or three miles, and has
a large hall, adorned with rusty pikes, shields, helmets, swords,
and tattered banners, and furnished with yew-tree chairs, and two
long old worm-eaten oak tables, where he dines with all his
household, after the fashion of his favourite age. He wants us all
to dine with him, and I believe we shall go.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. That will be something new, at any rate.
LADY CLARINDA. Next to him is Mr. Toogood, the co-operationist,
who will have neither fighting nor praying; but wants to parcel out
the world into squares like a chess-board, with a community on
each, raising everything for one another, with a great steam-engine
to serve them in common for tailor and hosier, kitchen and cook.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. He is the strangest of the set, so far.
LADY CLARINDA. This brings us to the bottom of the table, where
sits my humble servant, Mr. Crotchet the younger. I ought not to
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. I entreat you do.
LADY CLARINDA. Well, I really have very little to say in his
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. I do not wish to hear anything in his favour;
and I rejoice to hear you say so, because -
LADY CLARINDA. Do not flatter yourself. If I take him, it will be
to please my father, and to have a town and country house, and
plenty of servants and a carriage and an opera-box, and make some
of my acquaintance who have married for love, or for rank, or for
anything but money, die for envy of my jewels. You do not think I
would take him for himself. Why, he is very smooth and spruce as
far as his dress goes; but as to his face, he looks as if he had
tumbled headlong into a volcano, and been thrown up again among the
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. I cannot believe, that, speaking thus of him,
you mean to take him at all.
LADY CLARINDA. Oh! I am out of my teens. I have been very much in
love; but now I am come to years of discretion, and must think,
like other people, of settling myself advantageously. He was in
love with a banker's daughter, and cast her off at her father's
bankruptcy, and the poor girl has gone to hide herself in some wild
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. She must have a strange taste, if she pines
for the loss of him.
LADY CLARINDA. They say he was good-looking, till his bubble
schemes, as they call them, stamped him with the physiognomy of a
desperate gambler. I suspect he has still a penchant towards his
first flame. If he takes me, it will be for my rank and
connection, and the second seat of the borough of Rogueingrain. So
we shall meet on equal terms, and shall enjoy all the blessedness
of expecting nothing from each other.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. You can expect no security with such an
LADY CLARINDA. I shall have the security of a good settlement, and
then if andare al diavolo be his destiny, he may go, you know, by
himself. He is almost always dreaming and distrait. It is very
likely that some great reverse is in store for him: but that will
not concern me, you perceive.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. You torture me, Clarinda, with the bare
LADY CLARINDA. Hush! Here is music to soothe your troubled
spirit. Next to him, on this side, sits the dilettante composer,
Mr. Trillo; they say his name was O'Trill, and he has taken the O
from the beginning, and put it at the end. I do not know how this
may be. He plays well on the violoncello, and better on the piano;
sings agreeably; has a talent at versemaking, and improvises a song
with some felicity. He is very agreeable company in the evening,
with his instruments and music-books. He maintains that the sole
end of all enlightened society is to get up a good opera, and
laments that wealth, genius, and energy are squandered upon other
pursuits, to the neglect of this one great matter.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. That is a very pleasant fancy at any rate.
LADY CLARINDA. I assure you he has a great deal to say for it.
Well, next to him, again, is Dr. Morbific, who has been all over
the world to prove that there is no such thing as contagion; and
has inoculated himself with plague, yellow fever, and every variety
of pestilence, and is still alive to tell the story. I am very shy
of him, too; for I look on him as a walking phial of wrath, corked
full of all infections, and not to be touched without extreme
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. This is the strangest fellow of all.
LADY CLARINDA. Next to him sits Mr. Philpot, the geographer, who
thinks of nothing but the heads and tails of rivers, and lays down
the streams of Terra Incognita as accurately as if he had been
there. He is a person of pleasant fancy, and makes a sort of fairy
land of every country he touches, from the Frozen Ocean to the
Deserts of Sahara.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. How does he settle matters with Mr. Firedamp?
LADY CLARINDA. You see Mr. Firedamp has got as far as possible out
of his way. Next to him is Sir Simon Steeltrap, of Steeltrap
Lodge, Member for Crouching-Curtown, Justice of Peace for the
county, and Lord of the United Manors of Spring-gun-and-Treadmill;
a great preserver of game and public morals. By administering the
laws which he assists in making, he disposes, at his pleasure, of
the land and its live stock, including all the two-legged
varieties, with and without feathers, in a circumference of several
miles round Steeltrap Lodge. He has enclosed commons and
woodlands; abolished cottage gardens; taken the village cricket-
ground into his own park, out of pure regard to the sanctity of
Sunday; shut up footpaths and alehouses (all but those which belong
to his electioneering friend, Mr. Quassia, the brewer); put down
fairs and fiddlers; committed many poachers; shot a few; convicted
one-third of the peasantry; suspected the rest; and passed nearly
the whole of them through a wholesome course of prison discipline,
which has finished their education at the expense of the county.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. He is somewhat out of his element here: among
such a diversity of opinions he will hear some he will not like.
LADY CLARINDA. It was rather ill-judged in Mr. Crotchet to invite
him to-day. But the art of assorting company is above these
parvenus. They invite a certain number of persons without
considering how they harmonise with each other. Between Sir Simon
and you is the Reverend Doctor Folliott. He is said to be an
excellent scholar, and is fonder of books than the majority of his
cloth; he is very fond, also, of the good things of this world. He
is of an admirable temper, and says rude things in a pleasant half-
earnest manner, that nobody can take offence with. And next to him
again is one Captain Fitzchrome, who is very much in love with a
certain person that does not mean to have anything to say to him,
because she can better her fortune by taking somebody else.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. And next to him again is the beautiful, the
accomplished, the witty, the fascinating, the tormenting, Lady
Clarinda, who traduces herself to the said Captain by assertions
which it would drive him crazy to believe.
LADY CLARINDA. Time will show, sir. And now we have gone the
round of the table.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. But I must say, though I know you had always a
turn for sketching characters, you surprise me by your observation,
and especially by your attention to opinions.
LADY CLARINDA. Well, I will tell you a secret: I am writing a
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. A novel!
LADY CLARINDA. Yes, a novel. And I shall get a little finery by
it: trinkets and fal-lals, which I cannot get from papa. You must
know I have been reading several fashionable novels, the
fashionable this, and the fashionable that; and I thought to
myself, why I can do better than any of these myself. So I wrote a
chapter or two, and sent them as a specimen to Mr. Puffall, the
book-seller, telling him they were to be a part of the fashionable
something or other, and he offered me, I will not say how much, to
finish it in three volumes, and let him pay all the newspapers for
recommending it as the work of a lady of quality, who had made very
free with the characters of her acquaintance.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Surely you have not done so?
LADY CLARINDA. Oh, no! I leave that to Mr. Eavesdrop. But Mr.
Puffall made it a condition that I should let him say so.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. A strange recommendation.
LADY CLARINDA. Oh, nothing else will do. And it seems you may
give yourself any character you like, and the newspapers will print
it as if it came from themselves. I have commended you to three of
our friends here as an economist, a transcendentalist, and a
classical scholar; and if you wish to be renowned through the world
for these, or any other accomplishments, the newspapers will
confirm you in their possession for half-a-guinea a piece.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Truly, the praise of such gentry must be a
feather in any one's cap.
LADY CLARINDA. So you will see, some morning, that my novel is
"the most popular production of the day." This is Mr. Puffall's
favourite phrase. He makes the newspapers say it of everything he
publishes. But "the day," you know, is a very convenient phrase;
it allows of three hundred and sixty-five "most popular
productions" in a year. And in leap-year one more.
CHAPTER VI: THEORIES
But when they came to shape the model,
Not one could fit the other's noddle.--BUTLER.
Meanwhile, the last course, and the dessert, passed by. When the
ladies had withdrawn, young Crotchet addressed the company.
MR. CROTCHET, JUN. There is one point in which philosophers of all
classes seem to be agreed: that they only want money to regenerate
MR. MAC QUEDY. No doubt of it. Nothing is so easy as to lay down
the outlines of perfect society. There wants nothing but money to
set it going. I will explain myself clearly and fully by reading a
paper. (Producing a large scroll.) "In the infancy of society--"
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Pray, Mr. Mac Quedy, how is it that all
gentlemen of your nation begin everything they write with the
"infancy of society?"
MR. MAC QUEDY. Eh, sir, it is the simplest way to begin at the
beginning. "In the infancy of society, when government was
invented to save a percentage; say two and a half per cent.--"
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. I will not say any such thing.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Well, say any percentage you please.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. I will not say any percentage at all.
MR. MAC QUEDY. "On the principle of the division of labour--"
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Government was invented to spend a percentage.
MR. MAC QUEDY. To save a percentage.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. No, sir, to spend a percentage; and a good deal
more than two and a half percent. Two hundred and fifty per cent.:
that is intelligible.
MR. MAC QUEDY.--"In the infancy of society--"
MR. TOOGOOD.--Never mind the infancy of society. The question is
of society in its maturity. Here is what it should be. (Producing
a paper.) I have laid it down in a diagram.
MR. SKIONAR. Before we proceed to the question of government, we
must nicely discriminate the boundaries of sense, understanding,
and reason. Sense is a receptivity -
MR. CROTCHET, JUN. We are proceeding too fast. Money being all
that is wanted to regenerate society, I will put into the hands of
this company a large sum for the purpose. Now let us see how to
dispose of it.
MR. MAC QUEDY. We will begin by taking a committee-room in London,
where we will dine together once a week, to deliberate.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. If the money is to go in deliberative dinners,
you may set me down for a committee man and honorary caterer.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Next, you must all learn political economy, which I
will teach you, very compendiously, in lectures over the bottle.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. I hate lectures over the bottle. But pray,
sir, what is political economy?
MR. MAC QUEDY. Political economy is to the state what domestic
economy is to the family.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. No such thing, sir. In the family there is a
paterfamilias, who regulates the distribution, and takes care that
there shall be no such thing in the household as one dying of
hunger, while another dies of surfeit. In the state it is all
hunger at one end, and all surfeit at the other. Matchless claret,
MR. CROTCHET. Vintage of fifteen, Doctor.
MR. MAC QUEDY. The family consumes, and so does the state.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Consumes, air! Yes: but the mode, the
proportions: there is the essential difference between the state
and the family. Sir, I hate false analogies.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Well, sir, the analogy is not essential.
Distribution will come under its proper head.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Come where it will, the distribution of the
state is in no respect analogous to the distribution of the family.
The paterfamilias, sir: the paterfamilias.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Well, sir, let that pass. The family consumes, and
in order to consume, it must have supply.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Well, sir, Adam and Eve knew that, when they
delved and span.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Very true, sir (reproducing his scroll). "In the
infancy of society--"
MR. TOOGOOD. The reverend gentleman has hit the nail on the head.
It is the distribution that must be looked to; it is the
paterfamilias that is wanting in the State. Now here I have
provided him. (Reproducing his diagram.)
MR. TRILLO. Apply the money, sir, to building and endowing an
opera house, where the ancient altar of Bacchus may flourish, and
justice may be done to sublime compositions. (Producing a part of
a manuscript opera.)
MR. SKIONAR. No, sir, build sacella for transcendental oracles to
teach the world how to see through a glass darkly. (Producing a
MR. TRILLO. See through an opera-glass brightly.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. See through a wine-glass full of claret; then
you see both darkly and brightly. But, gentlemen, if you are all
in the humour for reading papers, I will read you the first half of
my next Sunday's sermon. (Producing a paper.)
OMNES. No sermon! No sermon!
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Then I move that our respective papers be
committed to our respective pockets.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Political economy is divided into two great
branches, production and consumption.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Yes, sir; there are two great classes of men:
those who produce much and consume little; and those who consume
much and produce nothing. The fruges consumere nati have the best
of it. Eh, Captain! You remember the characteristics of a great
man according to Aristophanes: [Greek text]. Ha! ha! ha! Well,
Captain, even in these tight-laced days, the obscurity of a learned
language allows a little pleasantry.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Very true, sir; the pleasantry and the
obscurity go together; they are all one, as it were--to me at any
MR. MAC QUEDY. Now, sir -
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Pray, sir, let your science alone, or you will
put me under the painful necessity of demolishing it bit by bit, as
I have done your exordium. I will undertake it any morning; but it
is too hard exercise after dinner.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Well, sir, in the meantime I hold my science
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. And I hold it demolished.
MR. CROTCHET, JUN. Pray, gentlemen, pocket your manuscripts, fill
your glasses, and consider what we shall do with our money.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Build lecture-rooms, and schools for all.
MR. TRILLO. Revive the Athenian theatre; regenerate the lyrical
MR. TOOGOOD. Build a grand co-operative parallelogram, with a
steam-engine in the middle for a maid of all work.
MR. FIREDAMP. Drain the country, and get rid of malaria, by
DR. MORBIFIC. Found a philanthropic college of anticontagionists,
where all the members shall be inoculated with the virus of all
known diseases. Try the experiment on a grand scale.
MR. CHAINMAIL. Build a great dining-hall; endow it with beef and
ale, and hang the hall round with arms to defend the provisions.
MR. HENBANE. Found a toxicological institution for trying all
poisons and antidotes. I myself have killed a frog twelve times,
and brought him to life eleven; but the twelfth time he died. I
have a phial of the drug, which killed him, in my pocket, and shall
not rest till I have discovered its antidote.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. I move that the last speaker be dispossessed of
his phial, and that it be forthwith thrown into the Thames.
MR. HENBANE. How, sir? my invaluable, and, in the present state of
human knowledge, infallible poison?
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Let the frogs have all the advantage of it.
MR. CROTCHET. Consider, Doctor, the fish might participate. Think
of the salmon.
REV DR. FOLLIOTT. Then let the owner's right-hand neighbour
MR. EAVESDROP. Me, sir! What have I done, sir, that I am to be
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Sir, you have published a character of your
facetious friend, the Reverend Doctor F., wherein you have sketched
off me; me, sir, even to my nose and wig. What business have the
public with my nose and wig?
MR. EAVESDROP. Sir, it is all good-humoured; all in bonhomie: all
friendly and complimentary.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Sir, the bottle, la Dive Bouteille, is a
recondite oracle, which makes an Eleusinian temple of the circle in
which it moves. He who reveals its mysteries must die. Therefore,
let the dose be administered. Fiat experimentum in anima vili.
MR. EAVESDROP. Sir, you are very facetious at my expense.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Sir, you have been very unfacetious, very
inficete at mine. You have dished me up, like a savoury omelette,
to gratify the appetite of the reading rabble for gossip. The next
time, sir, I will respond with the argumentum baculinum. Print
that, sir: put it on record as a promise of the Reverend Doctor
F., which shall be most faithfully kept, with an exemplary bamboo.
MR. EAVESDROP. Your cloth protects you, sir.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. My bamboo shall protect me, sir.
MR. CROTCHET. Doctor, Doctor, you are growing too polemical.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Sir, my blood boils. What business have the
public with my nose and wig?
MR. CROTCHET. Doctor! Doctor!
MR. CROTCHET, JUN. Pray, gentlemen, return to the point. How
shall we employ our fund?
MR. PHILPOT. Surely in no way so beneficially as in exploring
rivers. Send a fleet of steamboats down the Niger, and another up
the Nile. So shall you civilise Africa, and establish stocking
factories in Abyssinia and Bambo.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. With all submission, breeches and petticoats
must precede stockings. Send out a crew of tailors. Try if the
King of Bambo will invest in inexpressibles.
MR. CROTCHET, JUN. Gentlemen, it is not for partial, but for
general benefit, that this fund is proposed: a grand and
universally applicable scheme for the amelioration of the condition
SEVERAL VOICES. That is my scheme. I have not heard a scheme but
my own that has a grain of common sense.
MR. TRILLO. Gentlemen, you inspire me. Your last exclamation runs
itself into a chorus, and sets itself to music. Allow me to lead,
and to hope for your voices in harmony.
After careful meditation,
And profound deliberation,
On the various pretty projects which have just been shown,
Not a scheme in agitation,
For the world's amelioration,
Has a grain of common sense in it, except my own.
SEVERAL VOICES. We are not disposed to join in any such chorus.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Well, of all these schemes, I am for Mr.
Trillo's. Regenerate the Athenian theatre. My classical friend
here, the Captain, will vote with, me.
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. I, sir? oh! of course, sir.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Surely, Captain, I rely on you to uphold political
CAPTAIN FITZCHROME. Me, sir! oh, to be sure, sir.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Pray, sir, will political economy uphold the
MR. MAC QUEDY. Surely not. It would be a very unproductive
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Then the Captain votes against you. What, sir,
did not the Athenians, the wisest of nations, appropriate to their
theatre their most sacred and intangible fund? Did not they give
to melopoeia, choregraphy, and the sundry forms of didascalics, the
precedence of all other matters, civil and military? Was it not
their law, that even the proposal to divert this fund to any other
purpose should be punished with death? But, sir, I further propose
that the Athenian theatre being resuscitated, the admission shall
be free to all who can expound the Greek choruses, constructively,
mythologically, and metrically, and to none others. So shall all
the world learn Greek: Greek, the Alpha and Omega of all
knowledge. At him who sits not in the theatre shall be pointed the
finger of scorn: he shall be called in the highway of the city, "a
fellow without Greek."
MR. TRILLO. But the ladies, sir, the ladies.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Every man may take in a lady: and she who can
construe and metricise a chorus, shall, if she so please, pass in
MR. TRILLO. But, sir, you will shut me out of my own theatre. Let
there at least be a double passport, Greek and Italian.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. No, sir; I am inexorable. No Greek, no
MR. TRILLO. Sir, I cannot consent to be shut out from my own
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. You see how it is, Squire Crotchet the younger;
you can scarcely find two to agree on a scheme, and no two of those
can agree on the details. Keep your money in your pocket. And so
ends the fund for regenerating the world.
MR. MAC QUEDY. Nay, by no means. We are all agreed on
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Very true; we will dine and discuss. We will
sing with Robin Hood, "If I drink water while this doth last;" and
while it lasts we will have no adjournment, if not to the Athenian
MR. TRILLO. Well, gentlemen, I hope this chorus at least will
If I drink water while this doth last,
May I never again drink wine:
For how can a man, in his life of a span,
Do anything better than dine?
Well dine and drink, and say if we think
That anything better can be,
And when we have dined, wish all mankind
May dine as well as we.
And though a good wish will fill no dish
And brim no cup with sack,
Yet thoughts will spring as the glasses ring,
To illume our studious track.
On the brilliant dreams of our hopeful schemes
The light of the flask shall shine;
And we'll sit till day, but we'll find the way
To drench the world with wine.
The schemes for the world's regeneration evaporated in a tumult of
CHAPTER VII: THE SLEEPING VENUS
Quoth he: In all my life till now,
I ne'er saw so profane a show.--BUTLER.
The library of Crotchet Castle was a large and well-furnished
apartment, opening on one side into an ante-room, on the other into
a music-room. It had several tables stationed at convenient
distances; one consecrated to the novelties of literature, another
to the novelties of embellishment; others unoccupied, and at the
disposal of the company. The walls were covered with a copious
collection of ancient and modern books; the ancient having been
selected and arranged by the Reverend Doctor Folliott. In the
ante-room were card-tables; in the music-room were various
instruments, all popular operas, and all fashionable music. In
this suite of apartments, and not in the drawing-room, were the
evenings of Crotchet Castle usually passed.
The young ladies were in the music-room; Miss Crotchet at the
piano, Lady Clarinda at the harp, playing and occasionally singing,
at the suggestion of Mr. Trillo, portions of Matilde di Shabran.
Lord Bossnowl was turning over the leaves for Miss Crotchet; the
Captain was performing the same office for Lady Clarinda, but with
so much more attention to the lady than the book, that he often
made sad work with the harmony, by turnover two leaves together.
On these occasions Miss Crotchet paused, Lady Clarinda laughed, Mr.
Trillo scolded, Lord Bossnowl yawned, the Captain apologised, and
the performance proceeded.
In the library Mr. Mac Quedy was expounding political economy to
the Reverend Doctor Folliott, who was pro more demolishing its
Mr. Chainmail was in hot dispute with Mr. Skionar, touching the
physical and moral well-being of man. Mr. Skionar was enforcing
his friend Mr. Shantsee's views of moral discipline; maintaining
that the sole thing needful for man in this world was loyal and
pious education; the giving men good books to read, and enough of
the hornbook to read them; with a judicious interspersion of the
lessons of Old Restraint, which was his poetic name for the parish
stocks. Mr. Chainmail, on the other hand, stood up for the
exclusive necessity of beef and ale, lodging and raiment, wife and
children, courage to fight for them all, and armour wherewith to do
Mr. Henbane had got his face scratched, and his finger bitten, by
the cat, in trying to catch her for a second experiment in killing
and bringing to life; and Doctor Morbific was comforting him with a
disquisition to prove that there were only four animals having the
power to communicate hydrophobia, of which the cat was one; and
that it was not necessary that the animal should be in a rabid
state, the nature of the wound being everything, and the idea of
contagion a delusion. Mr. Henbane was listening very lugubriously
to this dissertation.
Mr. Philpot had seized on Mr. Firedamp, and pinned him down to a
map of Africa, on which he was tracing imaginary courses of mighty
inland rivers, terminating in lakes and marshes, where they were
finally evaporated by the heat of the sun; and Mr. Firedamp's hair
was standing on end at the bare imagination of the mass of malaria
that must be engendered by the operation. Mr. Toogood had begun
explaining his diagrams to Sir Simon Steeltrap; but Sir Simon grew
testy, and told Mr. Toogood that the promulgators of such doctrines
ought to be consigned to the treadmill. The philanthropist walked
off from the country gentleman, and proceeded to hold forth to
young Crotchet, who stood silent, as one who listens, but in
reality without hearing a syllable. Mr. Crotchet, senior, as the
master of the house, was left to entertain himself with his own
meditations, till the Reverend Doctor Folliott tore himself from
Mr. Mac Quedy, and proceeded to expostulate with Mr. Crotchet on a
There was an Italian painter, who obtained the name of Il
Bragatore, by the superinduction of inexpressibles on the naked
Apollos and Bacchuses of his betters. The fame of this worthy
remained one and indivisible, till a set of heads, which had been,
by a too common mistake of Nature's journeymen, stuck upon
magisterial shoulders, as the Corinthian capitals of "fair round
bellies with fat capon lined," but which Nature herself had
intended for the noddles of porcelain mandarins, promulgated
simultaneously from the east and the west of London, an order that
no plaster-of-Paris Venus should appear in the streets without
petticoats. Mr. Crotchet, on reading this order in the evening
paper, which, by the postman's early arrival, was always laid on
his breakfast-table, determined to fill his house with Venuses of
all sizes and kinds. In pursuance of this resolution, came
packages by water-carriage, containing an infinite variety of
Venuses. There were the Medicean Venus, and the Bathing Venus; the
Uranian Venus, and the Pandemian Venus; the Crouching Venus, and
the Sleeping Venus; the Venus rising from the sea, the Venus with
the apple of Paris, and the Venus with the armour of Mars.
The Reverend Doctor Folliott had been very much astonished at this
unexpected display. Disposed, as he was, to hold, that whatever
had been in Greece, was right; he was more than doubtful of the
propriety of throwing open the classical adytum to the illiterate
profane. Whether, in his interior mind, he was at all influenced,