Part 1 out of 2
Produced by Harrison Ainsworth
Thomas Love Peacock
I. The Mail
II. The Squire--The Breakfast
III. The Arrivals
IV. The Grounds
V. The Dinner
VI. The Evening
VII. The Walk
VIII. The Tower
IX. The Sexton
X. The Skull
XI. The Anniversary
XII. The Lecture
XIII. The Ball
XIV. The Proposals
XV. The Conclusion
All philosophers, who find
Some favourite system to their mind,
In every point to make it fit,
Will force all nature to submit.
P R E F A C E
"Headlong Hall" and the three novels
published along with it in 1837.
All these little publications appeared originally without prefaces. I
left them to speak for themselves; and I thought I might very fitly
preserve my own impersonality, having never intruded on the
personality of others, nor taken any liberties but with public conduct
and public opinions. But an old friend assures me, that to publish a
book without a preface is like entering a drawing-room without making
a bow. In deference to this opinion, though I am not quite clear of
its soundness, I make my prefatory bow at this eleventh hour.
"Headlong Hall" was written in 1815; "Nightmare Abbey" in 1817; "Maid
Marian", with the exception of the last three chapters, in 1818;
"Crotchet Castle" in 1830. I am desirous to note the intervals,
because, at each of those periods, things were true, in great matters
and in small, which are true no longer. "Headlong Hall" begins with
the Holyhead Mail, and "Crotchet Castle" ends with a rotten borough.
The Holyhead mail no longer keeps the same hours, nor stops at the
Capel Cerig Inn, which the progress of improvement has thrown out of
the road; and the rotten boroughs of 1830 have ceased to exist, though
there are some very pretty pocket properties, which are their worthy
successors. But the classes of tastes, feelings, and opinions, which
were successively brought into play in these little tales, remain
substantially the same. Perfectibilians, deteriorationists,
statu-quo-ites, phrenologists, transcendentalists, political
economists, theorists in all sciences, projectors in all arts, morbid
visionaries, romantic enthusiasts, lovers of music, lovers of the
picturesque, and lovers of good dinners, march, and will march for
ever, _pari passu_ with the march of mechanics, which some facetiously
call the march of the intellect. The fastidious in old wine are a race
that does not decay. Literary violators of the confidences of private
life still gain a disreputable livelihood and an unenviable notoriety.
Match-makers from interest, and the disappointed in love and in
friendship, are varieties of which specimens are extant. The great
principle of the Right of Might is as flourishing now as in the days
of Maid Marian: the array of false pretensions, moral, political, and
literary, is as imposing as ever: the rulers of the world still feel
things in their effects, and never foresee them in their causes: and
political mountebanks continue, and will continue, to puff nostrums
and practise legerdemain under the eyes of the multitude: following,
like the "learned friend" of Crotchet Castle, a course as tortuous as
that of a river, but in a reverse process; beginning by being dark and
deep, and ending by being transparent.
The Author of "Headlong Hall".
_March_ 4, 1837.
H E A D L O N G H A L L
The ambiguous light of a December morning, peeping through the windows
of the Holyhead mail, dispelled the soft visions of the four insides,
who had slept, or seemed to sleep, through the first seventy miles of
the road, with as much comfort as may be supposed consistent with the
jolting of the vehicle, and an occasional admonition to _remember the
coachman_, thundered through the open door, accompanied by the gentle
breath of Boreas, into the ears of the drowsy traveller.
A lively remark, that _the day was none of the finest_, having
elicited a repartee of _quite the contrary_, the various knotty points
of meteorology, which usually form the exordium of an English
conversation, were successively discussed and exhausted; and, the ice
being thus broken, the colloquy rambled to other topics, in the course
of which it appeared, to the surprise of every one, that all four,
though perfect strangers to each other, were actually bound to the
same point, namely, Headlong Hall, the seat of the ancient and
honourable family of the Headlongs, of the vale of Llanberris, in
Caernarvonshire. This name may appear at first sight not to be truly
Cambrian, like those of the Rices, and Prices, and Morgans, and Owens,
and Williamses, and Evanses, and Parrys, and Joneses; but,
nevertheless, the Headlongs claim to be not less genuine derivatives
from the antique branch of Cadwallader than any of the last named
multiramified families. They claim, indeed, by one account, superior
antiquity to all of them, and even to Cadwallader himself, a tradition
having been handed down in Headlong Hall for some few thousand years,
that the founder of the family was preserved in the deluge on the
summit of Snowdon, and took the name of Rhaiader, which signifies a
_waterfall_, in consequence of his having accompanied the water in its
descent or diminution, till he found himself comfortably seated on the
rocks of Llanberris. But, in later days, when commercial bagmen began
to scour the country, the ambiguity of the sound induced his
descendants to drop the suspicious denomination of _Riders_, and
translate the word into English; when, not being well pleased with the
sound of the _thing_, they substituted that of the _quality_, and
accordingly adopted the name _Headlong_, the appropriate epithet of
I cannot tell how the truth may be:
I say the tale as 'twas said to me.
The present representative of this ancient and dignified house, Harry
Headlong, Esquire, was, like all other Welsh squires, fond of
shooting, hunting, racing, drinking, and other such innocent
amusements, _meizonos d' allou tinos_, as Menander expresses it. But,
unlike other Welsh squires, he had actually suffered certain
phenomena, called books, to find their way into his house; and, by
dint of lounging over them after dinner, on those occasions when he
was compelled to take his bottle alone, he became seized with a
violent passion to be thought a philosopher and a man of taste; and
accordingly set off on an expedition to Oxford, to inquire for other
varieties of the same genera, namely, men of taste and philosophers;
but, being assured by a learned professor that there were no such
things in the University, he proceeded to London, where, after beating
up in several booksellers' shops, theatres, exhibition-rooms, and
other resorts of literature and taste, he formed as extensive an
acquaintance with philosophers and dilettanti as his utmost ambition
could desire: and it now became his chief wish to have them all
together in Headlong Hall, arguing, over his old Port and Burgundy,
the various knotty points which had puzzled his pericranium. He had,
therefore, sent them invitations in due form to pass their Christmas
at Headlong Hall; which invitations the extensive fame of his kitchen
fire had induced the greater part of them to accept; and four of the
chosen guests had, from different parts of the metropolis, ensconced
themselves in the four corners of the Holyhead mail.
These four persons were, Mr Foster[1.1], the perfectibilian; Mr
Escot[1.2], the deteriorationist; Mr Jenkison[1.3], the statu-quo-ite;
and the Reverend Doctor Gaster[1.4], who, though of course neither a
philosopher nor a man of taste, had so won on the Squire's fancy, by a
learned dissertation on the art of stuffing a turkey, that he
concluded no Christmas party would be complete without him.
The conversation among these illuminati soon became animated; and Mr
Foster, who, we must observe, was a thin gentleman, about thirty years
of age, with an aquiline nose, black eyes, white teeth, and black
hair--took occasion to panegyrize the vehicle in which they were then
travelling, and observed what remarkable improvements had been made in
the means of facilitating intercourse between distant parts of the
kingdom: he held forth with great energy on the subject of roads and
railways, canals and tunnels, manufactures and machinery: "In short,"
said he, "every thing we look on attests the progress of mankind in
all the arts of life, and demonstrates their gradual advancement
towards a state of unlimited perfection."
Mr Escot, who was somewhat younger than Mr Foster, but rather more
pale and saturnine in his aspect, here took up the thread of the
discourse, observing, that the proposition just advanced seemed to him
perfectly contrary to the true state of the case: "for," said he,
"these improvements, as you call them, appear to me only so many links
in the great chain of corruption, which will soon fetter the whole
human race in irreparable slavery and incurable wretchedness: your
improvements proceed in a simple ratio, while the factitious wants and
unnatural appetites they engender proceed in a compound one; and thus
one generation acquires fifty wants, and fifty means of supplying them
are invented, which each in its turn engenders two new ones; so that
the next generation has a hundred, the next two hundred, the next four
hundred, till every human being becomes such a helpless compound of
perverted inclinations, that he is altogether at the mercy of external
circumstances, loses all independence and singleness of character, and
degenerates so rapidly from the primitive dignity of his sylvan
origin, that it is scarcely possible to indulge in any other
expectation, than that the whole species must at length be
exterminated by its own infinite imbecility and vileness."
"Your opinions," said Mr Jenkison, a round-faced little gentleman of
about forty-five, "seem to differ _toto coelo_. I have often debated
the matter in my own mind, _pro_ and _con_, and have at length arrived
at this conclusion,--that there is not in the human race a tendency
either to moral perfectibility or deterioration; but that the
quantities of each are so exactly balanced by their reciprocal
results, that the species, with respect to the sum of good and evil,
knowledge and ignorance, happiness and misery, remains exactly and
perpetually _in statu quo_."
"Surely," said Mr Foster, "you cannot maintain such a proposition in
the face of evidence so luminous. Look at the progress of all the arts
and sciences,--see chemistry, botany, astronomy----"
"Surely," said Mr Escot, "experience deposes against you. Look at the
rapid growth of corruption, luxury, selfishness----"
"Really, gentlemen," said the Reverend Doctor Gaster, after clearing
the husk in his throat with two or three hems, "this is a very
sceptical, and, I must say, atheistical conversation, and I should
have thought, out of respect to my cloth----"
Here the coach stopped, and the coachman, opening the door,
vociferated--"Breakfast, gentlemen;" a sound which so gladdened the
ears of the divine, that the alacrity with which he sprang from the
vehicle superinduced a distortion of his ankle, and he was obliged to
limp into the inn between Mr Escot and Mr Jenkison; the former
observing, that he ought to look for nothing but evil, and, therefore,
should not be surprised at this little accident; the latter remarking,
that the comfort of a good breakfast, and the pain of a sprained
ankle, pretty exactly balanced each other.
The Squire--The Breakfast
Squire Headlong, in the meanwhile, was quadripartite in his locality;
that is to say, he was superintending the operations in four scenes of
action--namely, the cellar, the library, the picture-gallery, and the
dining-room,--preparing for the reception of his philosophical and
dilettanti visitors. His myrmidon on this occasion was a little
red-nosed butler, whom nature seemed to have cast in the genuine mould
of an antique Silenus, and who waddled about the house after his
master, wiping his forehead and panting for breath, while the latter
bounced from room to room like a cracker, and was indefatigable in his
requisitions for the proximity of his vinous Achates, whose advice and
co-operation he deemed no less necessary in the library than in the
cellar. Multitudes of packages had arrived, by land and water, from
London, and Liverpool, and Chester, and Manchester, and Birmingham,
and various parts of the mountains: books, wine, cheese, globes,
mathematical instruments, turkeys, telescopes, hams, tongues,
microscopes, quadrants, sextants, fiddles, flutes, tea, sugar,
electrical machines, figs, spices, air-pumps, soda-water, chemical
apparatus, eggs, French-horns, drawing books, palettes, oils and
colours, bottled ale and porter, scenery for a private theatre,
pickles and fish-sauce, patent lamps and chandeliers, barrels of
oysters, sofas, chairs, tables, carpets, beds, looking-glasses,
pictures, fruits and confections, nuts, oranges, lemons, packages of
salt salmon, and jars of Portugal grapes. These, arriving with
infinite rapidity, and in inexhaustible succession, had been deposited
at random, as the convenience of the moment dictated,--sofas in the
cellar, chandeliers in the kitchen, hampers of ale in the
drawing-room, and fiddles and fish-sauce in the library. The servants,
unpacking all these in furious haste, and flying with them from place
to place, according to the tumultuous directions of Squire Headlong
and the little fat butler who fumed at his heels, chafed, and crossed,
and clashed, and tumbled over one another up stairs and down. All was
bustle, uproar, and confusion; yet nothing seemed to advance: while
the rage and impetuosity of the Squire continued fermenting to the
highest degree of exasperation, which he signified, from time to time,
by converting some newly unpacked article, such as a book, a bottle, a
ham, or a fiddle, into a missile against the head of some unfortunate
servant who did not seem to move in a ratio of velocity corresponding
to the intensity of his master's desires.
In this state of eager preparation we shall leave the happy
inhabitants of Headlong Hall, and return to the three philosophers and
the unfortunate divine, whom we left limping with a sprained ankle,
into the breakfast-room of the inn; where his two supporters deposited
him safely in a large arm-chair, with his wounded leg comfortably
stretched out on another. The morning being extremely cold, he
contrived to be seated as near the fire as was consistent with his
other object of having a perfect command of the table and its
apparatus; which consisted not only of the ordinary comforts of tea
and toast, but of a delicious supply of new-laid eggs, and a
magnificent round of beef; against which Mr Escot immediately pointed
all the artillery of his eloquence, declaring the use of animal food,
conjointly with that of fire, to be one of the principal causes of the
present degeneracy of mankind. "The natural and original man," said
he, "lived in the woods: the roots and fruits of the earth supplied
his simple nutriment: he had few desires, and no diseases. But, when
he began to sacrifice victims on the altar of superstition, to pursue
the goat and the deer, and, by the pernicious invention of fire, to
pervert their flesh into food, luxury, disease, and premature death,
were let loose upon the world. Such is clearly the correct
interpretation of the fable of Prometheus, which is the symbolical
portraiture of that disastrous epoch, when man first applied fire to
culinary purposes, and thereby surrendered his liver to the vulture of
disease. From that period the stature of mankind has been in a state
of gradual diminution, and I have not the least doubt that it will
continue to grow _small by degrees, and lamentably less_, till the
whole race will vanish imperceptibly from the face of the earth."
"I cannot agree," said Mr Foster, "in the consequences being so very
disastrous. I admit, that in some respects the use of animal food
retards, though it cannot materially inhibit, the perfectibility of
the species. But the use of fire was indispensably necessary, as
AEschylus and Virgil expressly assert, to give being to the various
arts of life, which, in their rapid and interminable progress, will
finally conduct every individual of the race to the philosophic
pinnacle of pure and perfect felicity."
"In the controversy concerning animal and vegetable food," said Mr
Jenkison, "there is much to be said on both sides; and, the question
being in equipoise, I content myself with a mixed diet, and make a
point of eating whatever is placed before me, provided it be good in
In this opinion his two brother philosophers practically coincided,
though they both ran down the theory as highly detrimental to the best
interests of man.
"I am really astonished," said the Reverend Doctor Gaster, gracefully
picking off the supernal fragments of an egg he had just cracked, and
clearing away a space at the top for the reception of a small piece of
butter--"I am really astonished, gentlemen, at the very heterodox
opinions I have heard you deliver: since nothing can be more obvious
than that all animals were created solely and exclusively for the use
"Even the tiger that devours him?" said Mr Escot.
"Certainly," said Doctor Gaster.
"How do you prove it?" said Mr Escot.
"It requires no proof," said Doctor Gaster: "it is a point of
doctrine. It is written, therefore it is so."
"Nothing can be more logical," said Mr Jenkison. "It has been said,"
continued he, "that the ox was expressly made to be eaten by man: it
may be said, by a parity of reasoning, that man was expressly made to
be eaten by the tiger: but as wild oxen exist where there are no men,
and men where there are no tigers, it would seem that in these
instances they do not properly answer the ends of their creation."
"It is a mystery," said Doctor Gaster.
"Not to launch into the question of final causes," said Mr Escot,
helping himself at the same time to a slice of beef, "concerning which
I will candidly acknowledge I am as profoundly ignorant as the most
dogmatical theologian possibly can be, I just wish to observe, that
the pure and peaceful manners which Homer ascribes to the Lotophagi,
and which at this day characterise many nations (the Hindoos, for
example, who subsist exclusively on the fruits of the earth), depose
very strongly in favour of a vegetable regimen."
"It may be said, on the contrary," said Mr Foster, "that animal food
acts on the mind as manure does on flowers, forcing them into a degree
of expansion they would not otherwise have attained. If we can imagine
a philosophical auricula falling into a train of theoretical
meditation on its original and natural nutriment, till it should work
itself up into a profound abomination of bullock's blood,
sugar-baker's scum, and other _unnatural_ ingredients of that rich
composition of soil which had brought it to perfection[2.1], and
insist on being planted in common earth, it would have all the
advantage of natural theory on its side that the most strenuous
advocate of the vegetable system could desire; but it would soon
discover the practical error of its retrograde experiment by its
lamentable inferiority in strength and beauty to all the auriculas
around it. I am afraid, in some instances at least, this analogy holds
true with respect to mind. No one will make a comparison, in point of
mental power, between the Hindoos and the ancient Greeks."
"The anatomy of the human stomach," said Mr Escot, "and the formation
of the teeth, clearly place man in the class of frugivorous animals."
"Many anatomists," said Mr Foster, "are of a different opinion, and
agree in discerning the characteristics of the carnivorous classes."
"I am no anatomist," said Mr Jenkison, "and cannot decide where
doctors disagree; in the meantime, I conclude that man is omnivorous,
and on that conclusion I act."
"Your conclusion is truly orthodox," said the Reverend Doctor Gaster:
"indeed, the loaves and fishes are typical of a mixed diet; and the
practice of the Church in all ages shows----"
"That it never loses sight of the loaves and fishes," said Mr Escot.
"It never loses sight of any point of sound doctrine," said the
The coachman now informed them their time was elapsed; nor could all
the pathetic remonstrances of the reverend divine, who declared he had
not half breakfasted, succeed in gaining one minute from the
"You will allow," said Mr Foster, as soon as they were again in
motion, "that the wild man of the woods could not transport himself
over two hundred miles of forest, with as much facility as one of
these vehicles transports you and me through the heart of this
"I am certain," said Mr Escot, "that a wild man can travel an immense
distance without fatigue; but what is the advantage of locomotion? The
wild man is happy in one spot, and there he remains: the civilised man
is wretched in every place he happens to be in, and then congratulates
himself on being accommodated with a machine, that will whirl him to
another, where he will be just as miserable as ever."
We shall now leave the mail-coach to find its way to Capel Cerig, the
nearest point of the Holyhead road to the dwelling of Squire Headlong.
In the midst of that scene of confusion thrice confounded, in which we
left the inhabitants of Headlong Hall, arrived the lovely Caprioletta
Headlong, the Squire's sister (whom he had sent for, from the
residence of her maiden aunt at Caernarvon, to do the honours of his
house), beaming like light on chaos, to arrange disorder and harmonise
discord. The tempestuous spirit of her brother became instantaneously
as smooth as the surface of the lake of Llanberris; and the little fat
butler "plessed Cot, and St Tafit, and the peautiful tamsel," for
being permitted to move about the house in his natural pace. In less
than twenty-four hours after her arrival, everything was disposed in
its proper station, and the Squire began to be all impatience for the
appearance of his promised guests.
The first visitor with whom he had the felicity of shaking hands was
Marmaduke Milestone, Esquire, who arrived with a portfolio under his
arm. Mr Milestone[3.1] was a picturesque landscape gardener of the
first celebrity, who was not without hopes of persuading Squire
Headlong to put his romantic pleasure-grounds under a process of
improvement, promising himself a signal triumph for his incomparable
art in the difficult and, therefore, glorious achievement of polishing
and trimming the rocks of Llanberris.
Next arrived a post-chaise from the inn at Capel Cerig, containing the
Reverend Doctor Gaster. It appeared, that, when the mail-coach
deposited its valuable cargo, early on the second morning, at the inn
at Capel Cerig, there was only one post-chaise to be had; it was
therefore determined that the reverend Doctor and the luggage should
proceed in the chaise, and that the three philosophers should walk.
When the reverend gentleman first seated himself in the chaise, the
windows were down all round; but he allowed it to drive off under the
idea that he could easily pull them up. This task, however, he had
considerable difficulty in accomplishing, and when he had succeeded,
it availed him little; for the frames and glasses had long since
discontinued their ancient familiarity. He had, however, no
alternative but to proceed, and to comfort himself, as he went, with
some choice quotations from the book of Job. The road led along the
edges of tremendous chasms, with torrents dashing in the bottom; so
that, if his teeth had not chattered with cold, they would have done
so with fear. The Squire shook him heartily by the hand, and
congratulated him on his safe arrival at Headlong Hall. The Doctor
returned the squeeze, and assured him that the congratulation was by
no means misapplied.
Next came the three philosophers, highly delighted with their walk,
and full of rapturous exclamations on the sublime beauties of the
The Doctor shrugged up his shoulders, and confessed he preferred the
scenery of Putney and Kew, where a man could go comfortably to sleep
in his chaise, without being in momentary terror of being hurled
headlong down a precipice.
Mr Milestone observed, that there were great capabilities in the
scenery, but it wanted shaving and polishing. If he could but have it
under his care for a single twelvemonth, he assured them no one would
be able to know it again.
Mr Jenkison thought the scenery was just what it ought to be, and
required no alteration.
Mr Foster thought it could be improved, but doubted if that effect
would be produced by the system of Mr Milestone.
Mr Escot did not think that any human being could improve it, but had
no doubt of its having changed very considerably for the worse, since
the days when the now barren rocks were covered with the immense
forest of Snowdon, which must have contained a very fine race of wild
men, not less than ten feet high.
The next arrival was that of Mr Cranium, and his lovely daughter Miss
Cephalis Cranium, who flew to the arms of her dear friend Caprioletta,
with all that warmth of friendship which young ladies usually assume
towards each other in the presence of young gentlemen.[3.2]
Miss Cephalis blushed like a carnation at the sight of Mr Escot, and
Mr Escot glowed like a corn-poppy at the sight of Miss Cephalis. It
was at least obvious to all observers, that he could imagine the
possibility of one change for the better, even in this terrestrial
theatre of universal deterioration.
Mr Cranium's eyes wandered from Mr Escot to his daughter, and from his
daughter to Mr Escot; and his complexion, in the course of the
scrutiny, underwent several variations, from the dark red of the peony
to the deep blue of the convolvulus.
Mr Escot had formerly been the received lover of Miss Cephalis, till
he incurred the indignation of her father by laughing at a very
profound craniological dissertation which the old gentleman delivered;
nor had Mr Escot yet discovered the means of mollifying his wrath.
Mr Cranium carried in his own hands a bag, the contents of which were
too precious to be intrusted to any one but himself; and earnestly
entreated to be shown to the chamber appropriated for his reception,
that he might deposit his treasure in safety. The little butler was
accordingly summoned to conduct him to his _cubiculum_.
Next arrived a post-chaise, carrying four insides, whose extreme
thinness enabled them to travel thus economically without experiencing
the slightest inconvenience. These four personages were, two very
profound critics, Mr Gall and Mr Treacle, who followed the trade of
reviewers, but occasionally indulged themselves in the composition of
bad poetry; and two very multitudinous versifiers, Mr Nightshade and
Mr Mac Laurel, who followed the trade of poetry, but occasionally
indulged themselves in the composition of bad criticism. Mr Nightshade
and Mr Mac Laurel were the two senior lieutenants of a very formidable
corps of critics, of whom Timothy Treacle, Esquire, was captain, and
Geoffrey Gall, Esquire, generalissimo.
The last arrivals were Mr Cornelius Chromatic, the most profound and
scientific of all amateurs of the fiddle, with his two blooming
daughters, Miss Tenorina and Miss Graziosa; Sir Patrick O'Prism, a
dilettante painter of high renown, and his maiden aunt, Miss Philomela
Poppyseed, an indefatigable compounder of novels, written for the
express purpose of supporting every species of superstition and
prejudice; and Mr Panscope, the chemical, botanical, geological,
astronomical, mathematical, metaphysical, meteorological, anatomical,
physiological, galvanistical, musical, pictorial, bibliographical,
critical philosopher, who had run through the whole circle of the
sciences, and understood them all equally well.
Mr Milestone was impatient to take a walk round the grounds, that he
might examine how far the system of clumping and levelling could be
carried advantageously into effect. The ladies retired to enjoy each
other's society in the first happy moments of meeting: the Reverend
Doctor Gaster sat by the library fire, in profound meditation over a
volume of the "_Almanach des Gourmands_:" Mr Panscope sat in the
opposite corner with a volume of Rees' Cyclopaedia: Mr Cranium was
busy upstairs: Mr Chromatic retreated to the music-room, where he
fiddled through a book of solos before the ringing of the first dinner
bell. The remainder of the party supported Mr Milestone's proposition;
and, accordingly, Squire Headlong and Mr Milestone leading the van,
they commenced their perambulation.
"I perceive," said Mr Milestone, after they had walked a few paces,
"these grounds have never been touched by the finger of taste."
"The place is quite a wilderness," said Squire Headlong: "for, during
the latter part of my father's life, while I was _finishing_ my
_education_, he troubled himself about nothing but the cellar, and
suffered everything else to go to rack and ruin. A mere wilderness, as
you see, even now in December; but in summer a complete nursery of
briers, a forest of thistles, a plantation of nettles, without any
live stock but goats, that have eaten up all the bark of the trees.
Here you see is the pedestal of a statue, with only half a leg and
four toes remaining: there were many here once. When I was a boy, I
used to sit every day on the shoulders of Hercules: what became of
_him_ I have never been able to ascertain. Neptune has been lying
these seven years in the dust-hole; Atlas had his head knocked off to
fit him for propping a shed; and only the day before yesterday we
fished Bacchus out of the horse-pond."
"My dear sir," said Mr Milestone, "accord me your permission to wave
the wand of enchantment over your grounds. The rocks shall be blown
up, the trees shall be cut down, the wilderness and all its goats
shall vanish like mist. Pagodas and Chinese bridges, gravel walks and
shrubberies, bowling-greens, canals, and clumps of larch, shall rise
upon its ruins. One age, sir, has brought to light the treasures of
ancient learning; a second has penetrated into the depths of
metaphysics; a third has brought to perfection the science of
astronomy; but it was reserved for the exclusive genius of the present
times, to invent the noble art of picturesque gardening, which has
given, as it were, a new tint to the complexion of nature, and a new
outline to the physiognomy of the universe!"
"Give me leave," said Sir Patrick O'Prism, "to take an exception to
that same. Your system of levelling, and trimming, and clipping, and
docking, and clumping, and polishing, and cropping, and shaving,
destroys all the beautiful intricacies of natural luxuriance, and all
the graduated harmonies of light and shade, melting into one another,
as you see them on that rock over yonder. I never saw one of your
improved places, as you call them, and which are nothing but big
bowling-greens, like sheets of green paper, with a parcel of round
clumps scattered over them, like so many spots of ink, flicked at
random out of a pen,[4.1] and a solitary animal here and there looking
as if it were lost, that I did not think it was for all the world like
Hounslow Heath, thinly sprinkled over with bushes and highwaymen."
"Sir," said Mr Milestone, "you will have the goodness to make a
distinction between the picturesque and the beautiful."
"Will I?" said Sir Patrick, "och! but I won't. For what is beautiful?
That what pleases the eye. And what pleases the eye? Tints variously
broken and blended. Now, tints variously broken and blended constitute
"Allow me," said Mr Gall. "I distinguish the picturesque and the
beautiful, and I add to them, in the laying out of grounds, a third
and distinct character, which I call _unexpectedness_."
"Pray, sir," said Mr Milestone, "by what name do you distinguish this
character, when a person walks round the grounds for the second
Mr Gall bit his lips, and inwardly vowed to revenge himself on
Milestone, by cutting up his next publication.
A long controversy now ensued concerning the picturesque and the
beautiful, highly edifying to Squire Headlong.
The three philosophers stopped, as they wound round a projecting point
of rock, to contemplate a little boat which was gliding over the
tranquil surface of the lake below.
"The blessings of civilisation," said Mr Foster, "extend themselves to
the meanest individuals of the community. That boatman, singing as he
sails along, is, I have no doubt, a very happy, and, comparatively to
the men of his class some centuries back, a very enlightened and
"As a partisan of the system of the moral perfectibility of the human
race," said Mr Escot,--who was always for considering things on a
large scale, and whose thoughts immediately wandered from the lake to
the ocean, from the little boat to a ship of the line,--"you will
probably be able to point out to me the degree of improvement that you
suppose to have taken place in the character of a sailor, from the
days when Jason sailed through the Cyanean Symplegades, or Noah moored
his ark on the summit of Ararat."
"If you talk to me," said Mr Foster, "of mythological personages, of
course I cannot meet you on fair grounds."
"We will begin, if you please, then," said Mr Escot, "no further back
than the battle of Salamis; and I will ask you if you think the
mariners of England are, in any one respect, morally or
intellectually, superior to those who then preserved the liberties of
Greece, under the direction of Themistocles?"
"I will venture to assert," said Mr Foster, "that considered merely as
sailors, which is the only fair mode of judging them, they are as far
superior to the Athenians, as the structure of our ships is superior
to that of theirs. Would not one English seventy-four, think you, have
been sufficient to have sunk, burned, and put to flight, all the
Persian and Grecian vessels in that memorable bay? Contemplate the
progress of naval architecture, and the slow, but immense succession
of concatenated intelligence, by which it has gradually attained its
present stage of perfectibility. In this, as in all other branches of
art and science, every generation possesses all the knowledge of the
preceding, and adds to it its own discoveries in a progression to
which there seems no limit. The skill requisite to direct these
immense machines is proportionate to their magnitude and complicated
mechanism; and, therefore, the English sailor, considered merely as a
sailor, is vastly superior to the ancient Greek."
"You make a distinction, of course," said Mr Escot, "between
scientific and moral perfectibility?"
"I conceive," said Mr Foster, "that men are virtuous in proportion as
they are enlightened; and that, as every generation increases in
knowledge, it also increases in virtue."
"I wish it were so," said Mr Escot; "but to me the very reverse
appears to be the fact. The progress of knowledge is not general: it
is confined to a chosen few of every age. How far these are better
than their neighbours, we may examine by and bye. The mass of mankind
is composed of beasts of burden, mere clods, and tools of their
superiors. By enlarging and complicating your machines, you degrade,
not exalt, the human animals you employ to direct them. When the
boatswain of a seventy-four pipes all hands to the main tack, and
flourishes his rope's end over the shoulders of the poor fellows who
are tugging at the ropes, do you perceive so dignified, so gratifying
a picture, as Ulysses exhorting his dear friends, his ERIAERES
'ETAIROI, to ply their oars with energy? You will say, Ulysses was a
fabulous character. But the economy of his vessel is drawn from
nature. Every man on board has a character and a will of his own. He
talks to them, argues with them, convinces them; and they obey him,
because they love him, and know the reason of his orders. Now, as I
have said before, all singleness of character is lost. We divide men
into herds like cattle: an individual man, if you strip him of all
that is extraneous to himself, is the most wretched and contemptible
creature on the face of the earth. The sciences advance. True. A few
years of study puts a modern mathematician in possession of more than
Newton knew, and leaves him at leisure to add new discoveries of his
own. Agreed. But does this make him a Newton? Does it put him in
possession of that range of intellect, that grasp of mind, from which
the discoveries of Newton sprang? It is mental power that I look for:
if you can demonstrate the increase of that, I will give up the field.
benevolence--self-oblivion--universal philanthropy--these are the
qualities I desire to find, and of which I contend that every
succeeding age produces fewer examples. I repeat it; there is scarcely
such a thing to be found as a single individual man; a few classes
compose the whole frame of society, and when you know one of a class
you know the whole of it. Give me the wild man of the woods; the
original, unthinking, unscientific, unlogical savage: in him there is
at least some good; but, in a civilised, sophisticated, cold-blooded,
mechanical, calculating slave of Mammon and the world, there is
none--absolutely none. Sir, if I fall into a river, an unsophisticated
man will jump in and bring me out; but a philosopher will look on with
the utmost calmness, and consider me in the light of a projectile,
and, making a calculation of the degree of force with which I have
impinged the surface, the resistance of the fluid, the velocity of the
current, and the depth of the water in that particular place, he will
ascertain with the greatest nicety in what part of the mud at the
bottom I may probably be found, at any given distance of time from the
moment of my first immersion."
Mr Foster was preparing to reply, when the first dinner-bell rang, and
he immediately commenced a precipitate return towards the house;
followed by his two companions, who both admitted that he was now
leading the way to at least a temporary period of physical
amelioration: "but, alas!" added Mr Escot, after a moment's
reflection, "Epulae NOCUERE repostae![4.3]"
The sun was now terminating his diurnal course, and the lights were
glittering on the festal board. When the ladies had retired, and the
Burgundy had taken two or three tours of the table, the following
conversation took place:--
Push about the bottle: Mr Escot, it stands with you. No heeltaps. As
to skylight, liberty-hall.
_Mr Mac Laurel._
Really, Squire Headlong, this is the vara nectar itsel. Ye hae
saretainly discovered the tarrestrial paradise, but it flows wi' a
better leecor than milk an' honey.
_The Reverend Doctor Gaster._
Hem! Mr Mac Laurel! there is a degree of profaneness in that
observation, which I should not have looked for in so staunch a
supporter of church and state. Milk and honey was the pure food of the
antediluvian patriarchs, who knew not the use of the grape, happily
for them.--(_Tossing off a bumper of Burgundy._)
Happy, indeed! The first inhabitants of the world knew not the use
either of wine or animal food; it is, therefore, by no means
incredible that they lived to the age of several centuries, free from
war, and commerce, and arbitrary government, and every other species
of desolating wickedness. But man was then a very different animal to
what he now is: he had not the faculty of speech; he was not
encumbered with clothes; he lived in the open air; his first step out
of which, as Hamlet truly observes, is _into his grave_[5.1]. His
first dwellings, of course, were the hollows of trees and rocks. In
process of time he began to build: thence grew villages; thence grew
cities. Luxury, oppression, poverty, misery, and disease kept pace
with the progress of his pretended improvements, till, from a free,
strong, healthy, peaceful animal, he has become a weak, distempered,
cruel, carnivorous slave.
_The Reverend Doctor Gaster._
Your doctrine is orthodox, in so far as you assert that the original
man was not encumbered with clothes, and that he lived in the open
air; but, as to the faculty of speech, that, it is certain, he had,
for the authority of Moses----
Of course, sir, I do not presume to dissent from the very exalted
authority of that most enlightened astronomer and profound
cosmogonist, who had, moreover, the advantage of being inspired; but
when I indulge myself with a ramble in the fields of speculation, and
attempt to deduce what is probable and rational from the sources of
analysis, experience, and comparison, I confess I am too often apt to
lose sight of the doctrines of that great fountain of theological and
Push about the bottle.
Do you suppose the mere animal life of a wild man, living on acorns,
and sleeping on the ground, comparable in felicity to that of a
Newton, ranging through unlimited space, and penetrating into the
arcana of universal motion--to that of a Locke, unravelling the
labyrinth of mind--to that of a Lavoisier, detecting the minutest
combinations of matter, and reducing all nature to its elements--to
that of a Shakespeare, piercing and developing the springs of
passion--or of a Milton, identifying himself, as it were, with the
beings of an invisible world?
You suppose extreme cases: but, on the score of happiness, what
comparison can you make between the tranquil being of the wild man of
the woods and the wretched and turbulent existence of Milton, the
victim of persecution, poverty, blindness, and neglect? The records of
literature demonstrate that Happiness and Intelligence are seldom
sisters. Even if it were otherwise, it would prove nothing. The many
are always sacrificed to the few. Where one man advances, hundreds
retrograde; and the balance is always in favour of universal
Virtue is independent of external circumstances. The exalted
understanding looks into the truth of things, and, in its own peaceful
contemplations, rises superior to the world. No philosopher would
resign his mental acquisitions for the purchase of any terrestrial
In other words, no man whatever would resign his identity, which is
nothing more than the consciousness of his perceptions, as the price
of any acquisition. But every man, without exception, would willingly
effect a very material change in his relative situation to other
individuals. Unluckily for the rest of your argument, the
understanding of literary people is for the most part _exalted_, as
you express it, not so much by the love of truth and virtue, as by
arrogance and self-sufficiency; and there is, perhaps, less
disinterestedness, less liberality, less general benevolence, and more
envy, hatred, and uncharitableness among them, than among any other
description of men.
(_The eye of Mr Escot, as he pronounced these words, rested very
innocently and unintentionally on Mr Gall._)
You allude, sir, I presume, to my review.
Pardon me, sir. You will be convinced it is impossible I can allude to
your review, when I assure you that I have never read a single page of
_Mr Gall, Mr Treacle, Mr Nightshade, and Mr Mac Laurel._
Never read our review! ! ! !
Never. I look on periodical criticism in general to be a species of
shop, where panegyric and defamation are sold, wholesale, retail, and
for exportation. I am not inclined to be a purchaser of these
commodities, or to encourage a trade which I consider pregnant with
_Mr Mac Laurel._
I can readily conceive, sir, ye wou'd na wullingly encoorage ony
dealer in panegeeric: but, frae the manner in which ye speak o' the
first creetics an' scholars o' the age, I shou'd think ye wou'd hae a
leetle mair predilaction for deefamation.
I have no predilection, sir, for defamation. I make a point of
speaking the truth on all occasions; and it seldom happens that the
truth can be spoken without some stricken deer pronouncing it a libel.
You are perhaps, sir, an enemy to literature in general?
If I were, sir, I should be a better friend to periodical critics.
May I simply take the liberty to inquire into the basis of your
I conceive that periodical criticism disseminates superficial
knowledge, and its perpetual adjunct, vanity; that it checks in the
youthful mind the habit of thinking for itself; that it delivers
partial opinions, and thereby misleads the judgment; that it is never
conducted with a view to the general interests of literature, but to
serve the interested ends of individuals, and the miserable purposes
_Mr Mac Laurel._
Ye ken, sir, a mon mun leeve.
While he can live honourably, naturally, justly, certainly: no longer.
_Mr Mac Laurel._
Every mon, sir, leeves according to his ain notions of honour an'
justice: there is a wee defference amang the learned wi' respact to
the defineetion o' the terms.
I believe it is generally admitted that one of the ingredients of
justice is disinterestedness.
_Mr Mac Laurel._
It is na admetted, sir, amang the pheelosophers of Edinbroo', that
there is ony sic thing as desenterestedness in the warld, or that a
mon can care for onything sae much as his ain sel: for ye mun observe,
sir, every mon has his ain parteecular feelings of what is gude, an'
beautifu', an' consentaneous to his ain indiveedual nature, an'
desires to see every thing aboot him in that parteecular state which
is maist conformable to his ain notions o' the moral an' poleetical
fetness o' things. Twa men, sir, shall purchase a piece o' grund
atween 'em, and ae mon shall cover his half wi' a park----
Beautifully laid out in lawns and clumps, with a belt of trees at the
circumference, and an artificial lake in the centre.
_Mr Mac Laurel._
Exactly, sir: an' shall keep it a' for his ain sel: an' the other mon
shall divide his half into leetle farms of twa or three acres----
Like those of the Roman republic, and build a cottage on each of them,
and cover his land with a simple, innocent, and smiling population,
who shall owe, not only their happiness, but their existence, to his
_Mr Mac Laurel._
Exactly, sir: an' ye will ca' the first mon selfish, an' the second
desenterested; but the pheelosophical truth is semply this, that the
ane is pleased wi' looking at trees, an' the other wi' seeing people
happy an' comfortable. It is aunly a matter of indiveedual feeling. A
paisant saves a mon's life for the same reason that a hero or a
footpad cuts his thrapple: an' a pheelosopher delevers a mon frae a
preson, for the same reason that a tailor or a prime meenester puts
him into it: because it is conformable to his ain parteecular feelings
o' the moral an' poleetical fetness o' things.
Wake the Reverend Doctor. Doctor, the bottle stands with you.
_The Reverend Doctor Gaster._
It is an error of which I am seldom guilty.
_Mr Mac Laurel._
Noo, ye ken, sir, every mon is the centre of his ain system, an'
endaivours as much as possible to adapt every thing aroond him to his
ain parteecular views.
Thus, sir, I presume, it suits the particular views of a poet, at one
time to take the part of the people against their oppressors, and at
another, to take the part of the oppressors, against the people.
_Mr Mac Laurel._
Ye mun alloo, sir, that poetry is a sort of ware or commodity, that is
brought into the public market wi' a' other descreptions of
merchandise, an' that a mon is pairfectly justified in getting the
best price he can for his article. Noo, there are three reasons for
taking the part o' the people; the first is, when general leeberty an'
public happiness are conformable to your ain parteecular feelings o'
the moral an' poleetical fetness o' things: the second is, when they
happen to be, as it were, in a state of exceetabeelity, an' ye think
ye can get a gude price for your commodity, by flingin' in a leetle
seasoning o' pheelanthropy an' republican speerit; the third is, when
ye think ye can bully the menestry into gieing ye a place or a pansion
to hau'd your din, an' in that case, ye point an attack against them
within the pale o' the law; an' if they tak nae heed o' ye, ye open a
stronger fire; an' the less heed they tak, the mair ye bawl; an' the
mair factious ye grow, always within the pale o' the law, till they
send a plenipotentiary to treat wi' ye for yoursel, an' then the mair
popular ye happen to be, the better price ye fetch.
Off with your heeltaps.
I perfectly agree with Mr Mac Laurel in his definition of self-love
and disinterestedness: every man's actions are determined by his
peculiar views, and those views are determined by the organisation of
his skull. A man in whom the organ of benevolence is not developed,
cannot be benevolent: he in whom it is so, cannot be otherwise. The
organ of self-love is prodigiously developed in the greater number of
subjects that have fallen under my observation.
Much less I presume, among savage than civilised men, who, _constant
only to the love of self, and consistent only in their aim to deceive,
are always actuated by the hope of personal advantage, or by the dread
of personal punishment_[5.2].
You have, of course, found very copious specimens of the organs of
hypocrisy, destruction, and avarice.
Secretiveness, destructiveness, and covetiveness. You may add, if you
please, that of constructiveness.
Meaning, I presume, the organ of building; which I contend to be not a
natural organ of the _featherless biped_.
Pardon me: it is here.--(_As he said these words, he produced a skull
from his pocket, and placed it on the table to the great surprise of
the company._)--This was the skull of Sir Christopher Wren. You
observe this protuberance--(_The skull was handed round the table._)
I contend that the original unsophisticated man was by no means
constructive. He lived in the open air, under a tree.
_The Reverend Doctor Gaster._
The tree of life. Unquestionably. Till he had tasted the forbidden
At which period, probably, the organ of constructiveness was added to
his anatomy, as a punishment for his transgression.
There could not have been a more severe one, since the propensity
which has led him to building cities has proved the greatest curse of
(_taking the skull._) _Memento mori._ Come, a bumper of Burgundy.
A very classical application, Squire Headlong. The Romans were in the
practice of adhibiting skulls at their banquets, and sometimes little
skeletons of silver, as a silent admonition to the guests to enjoy
life while it lasted.
_The Reverend Doctor Gaster._
Sound doctrine, Mr Nightshade.
I question its soundness. The use of vinous spirit has a tremendous
influence in the deterioration of the human race.
I fear, indeed, it operates as a considerable check to the progress of
the species towards moral and intellectual perfection. Yet many great
men have been of opinion that it exalts the imagination, fires the
genius, accelerates the flow of ideas, and imparts to dispositions
naturally cold and deliberative that enthusiastic sublimation which is
the source of greatness and energy.
_Laudibus arguitur vini vinosus Homerus._[5.3]
I conceive the use of wine to be always pernicious in excess, but
often useful in moderation: it certainly kills some, but it saves the
lives of others: I find that an occasional glass, taken with judgment
and caution, has a very salutary effect in maintaining that
equilibrium of the system, which it is always my aim to preserve; and
this calm and temperate use of wine was, no doubt, what Homer meant to
inculcate, when he said: _Par de depas oinoio, piein hote thumos
Good. Pass the bottle. (_Un morne silence_). Sir Christopher does not
seem to have raised our spirits. Chromatic, favour us with a specimen
of your vocal powers. Something in point.
Mr Chromatic, without further preface, immediately struck up the
In his last binn Sir Peter lies,
Who knew not what it was to frown:
Death took him mellow, by surprise,
And in his cellar stopped him down.
Through all our land we could not boast
A knight more gay, more prompt than he,
To rise and fill a bumper toast,
And pass it round with THREE TIMES THREE.
None better knew the feast to sway,
Or keep Mirth's boat in better trim;
For Nature had but little clay
Like that of which she moulded him.
The meanest guest that graced his board
Was there the freest of the free,
His bumper toast when Peter poured,
And passed it round with THREE TIMES THREE.
He kept at true good humour's mark
The social flow of pleasure's tide:
He never made a brow look dark,
Nor caused a tear, but when he died.
No sorrow round his tomb should dwell:
More pleased his gay old ghost would be,
For funeral song, and passing bell,
To hear no sound but THREE TIMES THREE.
(_Hammering of knuckles and glasses and shouts of bravo!_)
(_Suddenly emerging from a deep reverie._) I have heard, with the most
profound attention, every thing which the gentleman on the other side
of the table has thought proper to advance on the subject of human
deterioration; and I must take the liberty to remark, that it augurs a
very considerable degree of presumption in any individual, to set
himself up against the _authority_ of so many great men, as may be
marshalled in metaphysical phalanx under the opposite banners of the
controversy; such as Aristotle, Plato, the scholiast on Aristophanes,
St Chrysostom, St Jerome, St Athanasius, Orpheus, Pindar, Simonides,
Gronovius, Hemsterhusius, Longinus, Sir Isaac Newton, Thomas Paine,
Doctor Paley, the King of Prussia, the King of Poland, Cicero,
Monsieur Gautier, Hippocrates, Machiavelli, Milton, Colley Cibber,
Bojardo, Gregory Nazianzenus, Locke, D'Alembert, Boccaccio, Daniel
Defoe, Erasmus, Doctor Smollett, Zimmermann, Solomon, Confucius,
Zoroaster, and Thomas-a-Kempis.
I presume, sir, you are one of those who value an _authority_ more
than a reason.
The _authority_, sir, of all these great men, whose works, as well as
the whole of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the entire series of the
Monthly Review, the complete set of the Variorum Classics, and the
Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions, I have read through from
beginning to end, deposes, with irrefragable refutation, against your
ratiocinative speculations, wherein you seem desirous, by the futile
process of analytical dialectics, to subvert the pyramidal structure
of synthetically deduced opinions, which have withstood the secular
revolutions of physiological disquisition, and which I maintain to be
transcendentally self-evident, categorically certain, and
Bravo! Pass the bottle. The very best speech that ever was made.
It has only the slight disadvantage of being unintelligible.
I am not obliged, sir, as Dr Johnson observed on a similar occasion,
to furnish you with an understanding.
I fear, sir, you would have some difficulty in furnishing me with such
an article from your own stock.
'Sdeath, sir, do you question my understanding?
I only question, sir, where I expect a reply; which, from things that
have no existence, I am not visionary enough to anticipate.
I beg leave to observe, sir, that my language was perfectly
perspicuous, and etymologically correct; and, I conceive, I have
demonstrated what I shall now take the liberty to say in plain terms,
that all your opinions are extremely absurd.
I should be sorry, sir, to advance any opinion that you would not
Death and fury, sir----
Say no more, sir. That apology is quite sufficient.
Even so, sir. You have lost your temper, which I consider equivalent
to a confession that you have the worst of the argument.
Lightning and devils! sir----
No civil war!--Temperance, in the name of Bacchus!--A glee! a glee!
_Music has charms to bend the knotted oak._ Sir Patrick, you'll join?
_Sir Patrick O'Prism._
Troth, with all my heart; for, by my soul, I'm bothered completely.
Agreed, then; you, and I, and Chromatic. Bumpers! Come, strike up.
Squire Headlong, Mr Chromatic, and Sir Patrick O'Prism, each holding a
bumper, immediately vociferated the following
A heeltap! a heeltap! I never could bear it!
So fill me a bumper, a bumper of claret!
Let the bottle pass freely, don't shirk it nor spare it,
For a heeltap! a heeltap! I never could bear it!
No skylight! no twilight! while Bacchus rules o'er us:
No thinking! no shrinking! all drinking in chorus:
Let us moisten our clay, since 'tis thirsty and porous:
No thinking! no shrinking! all drinking in chorus!
_By Squire Headlong, Mr Chromatic, Sir Patrick O'Prism, Mr
Panscope, Mr Jenkison, Mr Gall, Mr Treacle, Mr Nightshade, Mr Mac
Laurel, Mr Cranium, Mr Milestone, and the Reverend Dr Gaster._
A heeltap! a heeltap! I never could bear it!
So fill me a bumper, a bumper of claret!
Let the bottle pass freely, don't shirk it nor spare it,
For a heeltap! a heeltap! I never could bear it!
'OMADOS KAI DOUPOS OROREI'
The little butler now waddled in with a summons from the ladies to tea
and coffee. The squire was unwilling to leave his Burgundy. Mr Escot
strenuously urged the necessity of immediate adjournment, observing,
that the longer they continued drinking the worse they should be. Mr
Foster seconded the motion, declaring the transition from the bottle
to female society to be an indisputable amelioration of the state of
the sensitive man. Mr Jenkison allowed the squire and his two brother
philosophers to settle the point between them, concluding that he was
just as well in one place as another. The question of adjournment was
then put, and carried by a large majority.
Mr Panscope, highly irritated by the cool contempt with which Mr Escot
had treated him, sate sipping his coffee and meditating revenge. He
was not long in discovering the passion of his antagonist for the
beautiful Cephalis, for whom he had himself a species of predilection;
and it was also obvious to him, that there was some lurking anger in
the mind of her father, unfavourable to the hopes of his rival. The
stimulus of revenge, superadded to that of preconceived inclination,
determined him, after due deliberation, to _cut out_ Mr Escot in the
young lady's favour. The practicability of this design he did not
trouble himself to investigate; for the havoc he had made in the
hearts of some silly girls, who were extremely vulnerable to flattery,
and who, not understanding a word he said, considered him a
_prodigious clever man_, had impressed him with an unhesitating idea
of his own irresistibility. He had not only the requisites already
specified for fascinating female vanity, he could likewise fiddle with
tolerable dexterity, though by no means so _quick_ as Mr Chromatic
(for our readers are of course aware that rapidity of execution, not
delicacy of expression, constitutes the scientific perfection of
modern music), and could warble a fashionable love-ditty with
considerable affectation of feeling: besides this, he was always
extremely well dressed, and was heir-apparent to an estate of ten
thousand a-year. The influence which the latter consideration might
have on the minds of the majority of his female acquaintance, whose
morals had been formed by the novels of such writers as Miss Philomela
Poppyseed, did not once enter into his calculation of his own personal
attractions. Relying, therefore, on past success, he determined _to
appeal to his fortune_, and already, in imagination, considered
himself sole lord and master of the affections of the beautiful
Mr Escot and Mr Foster were the only two of the party who had entered
the library (to which the ladies had retired, and which was interior
to the music-room) in a state of perfect sobriety. Mr Escot had placed
himself next to the beautiful Cephalis: Mr Cranium had laid aside much
of the terror of his frown; the short craniological conversation,
which had passed between him and Mr Escot, had softened his heart in
his favour; and the copious libations of Burgundy in which he had
indulged had smoothed his brow into unusual serenity.
Mr Foster placed himself near the lovely Caprioletta, whose artless
and innocent conversation had already made an impression on his
The Reverend Doctor Gaster seated himself in the corner of a sofa near
Miss Philomela Poppyseed. Miss Philomela detailed to him the plan of a
very moral and aristocratical novel she was preparing for the press,
and continued holding forth, with her eyes half shut, till a
long-drawn nasal tone from the reverend divine compelled her suddenly
to open them in all the indignation of surprise. The cessation of the
hum of her voice awakened the reverend gentleman, who, lifting up
first one eyelid, then the other, articulated, or rather murmured,
"Admirably planned, indeed!"
"I have not quite finished, sir," said Miss Philomela, bridling. "Will
you have the goodness to inform me where I left off?"
The doctor hummed a while, and at length answered: "I think you had
just laid it down as a position, that a thousand a-year is an
indispensable ingredient in the passion of love, and that no man, who
is not so far gifted by _nature_, can reasonably presume to feel that
passion himself, or be correctly the object of it with a well-educated
"That, sir," said Miss Philomela, highly incensed, "is the fundamental
principle which I lay down in the first chapter, and which the whole
four volumes, of which I detailed to you the outline, are intended to
set in a strong practical light."
"Bless me!" said the doctor, "what a nap I must have had!"
Miss Philomela flung away to the side of her dear friends Gall and
Treacle, under whose fostering patronage she had been puffed into an
extensive reputation, much to the advantage of the young ladies of the
age, whom she taught to consider themselves as a sort of commodity, to
be put up at public auction, and knocked down to the highest bidder.
Mr Nightshade and Mr Mac Laurel joined the trio; and it was secretly
resolved, that Miss Philomela should furnish them with a portion of
her manuscripts, and that Messieurs Gall & Co. should devote the
following morning to cutting and drying a critique on a work
calculated to prove so extensively beneficial, that Mr Gall protested
he really _envied_ the writer.
While this amiable and enlightened quintetto were busily employed in
flattering one another, Mr Cranium retired to complete the
preparations he had begun in the morning for a lecture, with which he
intended, on some future evening, to favour the company: Sir Patrick
O'Prism walked out into the grounds to study the effect of moonlight
on the snow-clad mountains: Mr Foster and Mr Escot continued to make
love, and Mr Panscope to digest his plan of attack on the heart of
Miss Cephalis: Mr Jenkison sate by the fire, reading _Much Ado about
Nothing_: the Reverend Doctor Gaster was still enjoying the benefit of
Miss Philomela's opiate, and serenading the company from his solitary
corner: Mr Chromatic was reading music, and occasionally humming a
note: and Mr Milestone had produced his portfolio for the edification
and amusement of Miss Tenorina, Miss Graziosa, and Squire Headlong, to
whom he was pointing out the various beauties of his plan for Lord
This, you perceive, is the natural state of one part of the grounds.
Here is a wood, never yet touched by the finger of taste; thick,
intricate, and gloomy. Here is a little stream, dashing from stone to
stone, and overshadowed with these untrimmed boughs.
The sweet romantic spot! How beautifully the birds must sing there on
a summer evening!
Dear sister! how can you endure the horrid thicket?
You are right, Miss Graziosa: your taste is correct--perfectly
_en regle_. Now, here is the same place corrected--trimmed--polished
--decorated--adorned. Here sweeps a plantation, in that beautiful regular
curve: there winds a gravel walk: here are parts of the old wood, left in
these majestic circular clumps, disposed at equal distances with
wonderful symmetry: there are some single shrubs scattered in elegant
profusion: here a Portugal laurel, there a juniper; here a laurustinus,
there a spruce fir; here a larch, there a lilac; here a rhododendron,
there an arbutus. The stream, you see, is become a canal: the banks are
perfectly smooth and green, sloping to the water's edge: and there is
Lord Littlebrain, rowing in an elegant boat.
Here is another part of the grounds in its natural state. Here is a
large rock, with the mountain-ash rooted in its fissures, overgrown,
as you see, with ivy and moss; and from this part of it bursts a
little fountain, that runs bubbling down its rugged sides.
O how beautiful! How I should love the melody of that miniature
Beautiful, Miss Tenorina! Hideous. Base, common, and popular. Such a
thing as you may see anywhere, in wild and mountainous districts. Now,
observe the metamorphosis. Here is the same rock, cut into the shape
of a giant. In one hand he holds a horn, through which that little
fountain is thrown to a prodigious elevation. In the other is a
ponderous stone, so exactly balanced as to be apparently ready to fall
on the head of any person who may happen to be beneath[6.1]: and there
is Lord Littlebrain walking under it.
Miraculous, by Mahomet!
This is the summit of a hill, covered, as you perceive, with wood, and
with those mossy stones scattered at random under the trees.
What a delightful spot to read in, on a summer's day! The air must be
so pure, and the wind must sound so divinely in the tops of those old
Bad taste, Miss Tenorina. Bad taste, I assure you. Here is the spot
improved. The trees are cut down: the stones are cleared away: this is
an octagonal pavilion, exactly on the centre of the summit: and there
you see Lord Littlebrain, on the top of the pavilion, enjoying the
prospect with a telescope.
Here is a rugged mountainous road, leading through impervious shades:
the ass and the four goats characterise a wild uncultured scene. Here,
as you perceive, it is totally changed into a beautiful gravel-road,
gracefully curving through a belt of limes: and there is Lord
Littlebrain driving four-in-hand.
Egregious, by Jupiter!
Here is Littlebrain Castle, a Gothic, moss-grown structure, half
bosomed in trees. Near the casement of that turret is an owl peeping
from the ivy.
And devilish wise he looks.
Here is the new house, without a tree near it, standing in the midst
of an undulating lawn: a white, polished, angular building, reflected
to a nicety in this waveless lake: and there you see Lord Littlebrain
looking out of the window.
And devilish wise he looks too. You shall cut me a giant before you
Good. I'll order down my little corps of pioneers.
During this conversation, a hot dispute had arisen between Messieurs
Gall and Nightshade; the latter pertinaciously insisting on having his
new poem reviewed by Treacle, who he knew would extol it most loftily,
and not by Gall, whose sarcastic commendation he held in superlative
horror. The remonstrances of Squire Headlong silenced the disputants,
but did not mollify the inflexible Gall, nor appease the irritated
Nightshade, who secretly resolved that, on his return to London, he
would beat his drum in Grub Street, form a mastigophoric corps of his
own, and hoist the standard of determined opposition against this
Sir Patrick O'Prism now entered, and, after some rapturous
exclamations on the effect of the mountain-moonlight, entreated that
one of the young ladies would favour him with a song. Miss Tenorina
and Miss Graziosa now enchanted the company with some very scientific
compositions, which, as usual, excited admiration and astonishment in
every one, without a single particle of genuine pleasure. The
beautiful Cephalis being then summoned to take her station at the
harp, sang with feeling and simplicity the following air:--
LOVE AND OPPORTUNITY
Oh! who art thou, so swiftly flying?
My name is Love, the child replied:
Swifter I pass than south-winds sighing,
Or streams, through summer vales that glide.
And who art thou, his flight pursuing?
'Tis cold Neglect whom now you see:
The little god you there are viewing,
Will die, if once he's touched by me.
Oh! who art thou so fast proceeding,
Ne'er glancing back thine eyes of flame?
Marked but by few, through earth I'm speeding,
And Opportunity's my name.
What form is that, which scowls beside thee?
Repentance is the form you see:
Learn then, the fate may yet betide thee:
She seizes them who seize not me.[6.2]
The little butler now appeared with a summons to supper, shortly after
which the party dispersed for the night.
It was an old custom in Headlong Hall to have breakfast ready at
eight, and continue it till two; that the various guests might rise at
their own hour, breakfast when they came down, and employ the morning
as they thought proper; the squire only expecting that they should
punctually assemble at dinner. During the whole of this period, the
little butler stood sentinel at a side-table near the fire, copiously
furnished with all the apparatus of tea, coffee, chocolate, milk,
cream, eggs, rolls, toast, muffins, bread, butter, potted beef, cold
fowl and partridge, ham, tongue, and anchovy. The Reverend Doctor
Gaster found himself rather _queasy_ in the morning, therefore
preferred breakfasting in bed, on a mug of buttered ale and an anchovy
toast. The three philosophers made their appearance at eight, and
enjoyed _les premices des depouilles_. Mr Foster proposed that, as it
was a fine frosty morning, and they were all good pedestrians, they
should take a walk to Tremadoc, to see the improvements carrying on in
that vicinity. This being readily acceded to, they began their walk.
After their departure, appeared Squire Headlong and Mr Milestone, who
agreed, over their muffin and partridge, to walk together to a ruined
tower, within the precincts of the squire's grounds, which Mr
Milestone thought he could improve.
The other guests dropped in by ones and twos, and made their
respective arrangements for the morning. Mr Panscope took a little
ramble with Mr Cranium, in the course of which, the former professed a
great enthusiasm for the science of craniology, and a great deal of
love for the beautiful Cephalis, adding a few words about his
expectations; the old gentleman was unable to withstand this triple
battery, and it was accordingly determined--after the manner of the
heroic age, in which it was deemed superfluous to consult the opinions
and feelings of the lady, as to the manner in which she should be
disposed of--that the lovely Miss Cranium should be made the happy
bride of the accomplished Mr Panscope. We shall leave them for the
present to settle preliminaries, while we accompany the three
philosophers in their walk to Tremadoc.
The vale contracted as they advanced, and, when they had passed the
termination of the lake, their road wound along a narrow and romantic
pass, through the middle of which an impetuous torrent dashed over
vast fragments of stone. The pass was bordered on both sides by
perpendicular rocks, broken into the wildest forms of fantastic
"These are, indeed," said Mr Escot, "_confracti mundi rudera_[7.1]:
yet they must be feeble images of the valleys of the Andes, where the
philosophic eye may contemplate, in their utmost extent, the effects
of that tremendous convulsion which destroyed the perpendicularity of
the poles, and inundated this globe with that torrent of physical
evil, from which the greater torrent of moral evil has issued, that
will continue to roll on, with an expansive power and an accelerated
impetus, till the whole human race shall be swept away in its vortex."
"The precession of the equinoxes," said Mr Foster, "will gradually
ameliorate the physical state of our planet, till the ecliptic shall
again coincide with the equator, and the equal diffusion of light and
heat over the whole surface of the earth typify the equal and happy
existence of man, who will then have attained the final step of pure
and perfect intelligence."
"It is by no means clear," said Mr Jenkison, "that the axis of the
earth was ever perpendicular to the plane of its orbit, or that it
ever will be so. Explosion and convulsion are necessary to the
maintenance of either hypothesis: for La Place has demonstrated, that
the precession of the equinoxes is only a secular equation of a very
long period, which, of course, proves nothing either on one side or
They now emerged, by a winding ascent, from the vale of Llanberris,
and after some little time arrived at Bedd Gelert. Proceeding through
the sublimely romantic pass of Aberglaslynn, their road led along the
edge of Traeth Mawr, a vast arm of the sea, which they then beheld in
all the magnificence of the flowing tide. Another five miles brought
them to the embankment, which has since been completed, and which, by
connecting the two counties of Meirionnydd and Caernarvon, excludes
the sea from an extensive tract. The embankment, which was carried on
at the same time from both the opposite coasts, was then very nearly
meeting in the centre. They walked to the extremity of that part of it
which was thrown out from the Caernarvonshire shore. The tide was now
ebbing: it had filled the vast basin within, forming a lake about five
miles in length and more than one in breadth. As they looked upwards
with their backs to the open sea, they beheld a scene which no other
in this country can parallel, and which the admirers of the
magnificence of nature will ever remember with regret, whatever
consolation may be derived from the probable utility of the works
which have excluded the waters from their ancient receptacle. Vast
rocks and precipices, intersected with little torrents, formed the
barrier on the left: on the right, the triple summit of Moelwyn reared
its majestic boundary: in the depth was that sea of mountains, the
wild and stormy outline of the Snowdonian chain, with the giant Wyddfa
towering in the midst. The mountain-frame remains unchanged,
unchangeable: but the liquid mirror it enclosed is gone.
The tide ebbed with rapidity: the waters within, retained by the
embankment, poured through its two points an impetuous cataract,
curling and boiling in innumerable eddies, and making a tumultuous
melody admirably in unison with the surrounding scene. The three
philosophers looked on in silence; and at length unwillingly turned
away, and proceeded to the little town of Tremadoc, which is built on
land recovered in a similar manner from the sea. After inspecting the
manufactories, and refreshing themselves at the inn on a cold saddle
of mutton and a bottle of sherry, they retraced their steps towards
Headlong Hall, commenting as they went on the various objects they had
I regret that time did not allow us to see the caves on the sea-shore.
There is one of which the depth is said to be unknown. There is a
tradition in the country, that an adventurous fiddler once resolved to
explore it; that he entered, and never returned; but that the
subterranean sound of a fiddle was heard at a farm-house seven miles
inland. It is, therefore, concluded that he lost his way in the
labyrinth of caverns, supposed to exist under the rocky soil of this
part of the country.
A supposition that must always remain in force, unless a second
fiddler, equally adventurous and more successful, should return with
an accurate report of the true state of the fact.
What think you of the little colony we have just been inspecting; a
city, as it were, in its cradle?
With all the weakness of infancy, and all the vices of maturer age. I
confess, the sight of those manufactories, which have suddenly sprung
up, like fungous excrescences, in the bosom of these wild and desolate
scenes, impressed me with as much horror and amazement as the sudden
appearance of the stocking manufactory struck into the mind of
Rousseau, when, in a lonely valley of the Alps, he had just
congratulated himself on finding a spot where man had never been.
The manufacturing system is not yet purified from some evils which
necessarily attend it, but which I conceive are greatly overbalanced
by their concomitant advantages. Contemplate the vast sum of human
industry to which this system so essentially contributes: seas covered
with vessels, ports resounding with life, profound researches,
scientific inventions, complicated mechanism, canals carried over deep
valleys, and through the bosoms of hills: employment and existence
thus given to innumerable families, and the multiplied comforts and
conveniences of life diffused over the whole community.
You present to me a complicated picture of artificial life, and
require me to admire it. Seas covered with vessels: every one of which
contains two or three tyrants, and from fifty to a thousand slaves,
ignorant, gross, perverted, and active only in mischief. Ports
resounding with life: in other words, with noise and drunkenness, the
mingled din of avarice, intemperance, and prostitution. Profound
researches, scientific inventions: to what end? To contract the sum of
human wants? to teach the art of living on a little? to disseminate
independence, liberty, and health? No; to multiply factitious desires,
to stimulate depraved appetites, to invent unnatural wants, to heap up
incense on the shrine of luxury, and accumulate expedients of selfish
and ruinous profusion. Complicated machinery: behold its blessings.
Twenty years ago, at the door of every cottage sate the good woman
with her spinning-wheel: the children, if not more profitably employed
than in gathering heath and sticks, at least laid in a stock of health
and strength to sustain the labours of maturer years. Where is the
spinning-wheel now, and every simple and insulated occupation of the
industrious cottager? Wherever this boasted machinery is established,
the children of the poor are death-doomed from their cradles. Look for
one moment at midnight into a cotton-mill, amidst the smell of oil,
the smoke of lamps, the rattling of wheels, the dizzy and complicated
motions of diabolical mechanism: contemplate the little human machines
that keep play with the revolutions of the iron work, robbed at that
hour of their natural rest, as of air and exercise by day: observe
their pale and ghastly features, more ghastly in that baleful and
malignant light, and tell me if you do not fancy yourself on the
threshold of Virgil's hell, where
Continuo auditae voces, vagitus et ingens,
_Infantumque animae flentes_, in limine primo,
Quos _dulcis vitae exsortes_, et ab ubere raptos,
_Abstulit atra dies_, et FUNERE MERSIT ACERBO!
As Mr Escot said this, a little rosy-cheeked girl, with a basket of
heath on her head, came tripping down the side of one of the rocks on
the left. The force of contrast struck even on the phlegmatic spirit
of Mr Jenkison, and he almost inclined for a moment to the doctrine of
deterioration. Mr Escot continued:
Nor is the lot of the parents more enviable. Sedentary victims of
unhealthy toil, they have neither the corporeal energy of the savage,
nor the mental acquisitions of the civilised man. Mind, indeed, they
have none, and scarcely animal life. They are mere automata, component
parts of the enormous machines which administer to the pampered
appetites of the few, who consider themselves the most valuable
portion of a state, because they consume in indolence the fruits of
the earth, and contribute nothing to the benefit of the community.
That these are evils cannot be denied; but they have their
counterbalancing advantages. That a man should pass the day in a
furnace and the night in a cellar, is bad for the individual, but good
for others who enjoy the benefit of his labour.
By what right do they so?
By the right of all property and all possession: _le droit du plus
Do you justify that principle?
I neither justify nor condemn it. It is practically recognised in all
societies; and, though it is certainly the source of enormous evil, I
conceive it is also the source of abundant good, or it would not have
so many supporters.
That is by no means a consequence. Do we not every day see men
supporting the most enormous evils, which they know to be so with
respect to others, and which in reality are so with respect to
themselves, though an erroneous view of their own miserable
self-interest induces them to think otherwise?
Good and evil exist only as they are perceived. I cannot therefore
understand, how that which a man perceives to be good can be in
reality an evil to him: indeed, the word _reality_ only signifies
The views of such a man I contend are false. If he could be made to
see the truth----
He sees his own truth. Truth is that which a man _troweth_. Where
there is no man there is no truth. Thus the truth of one is not the
truth of another.[7.2]
I am aware of the etymology; but I contend that there is an universal
and immutable truth, deducible from the nature of things.
By whom deducible? Philosophers have investigated the nature of things
for centuries, yet no two of them will agree in _trowing_ the same
The progress of philosophical investigation, and the rapidly
increasing accuracy of human knowledge, approximate by degrees the
diversities of opinion; so that, in process of time, moral science
will be susceptible of mathematical demonstration; and, clear and
indisputable principles being universally recognised, the coincidence
of deduction will necessarily follow.
Possibly when the inroads of luxury and disease shall have
exterminated nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and
ninety-nine of every million of the human race, the remaining
fractional units may congregate into one point, and come to something
like the same conclusion.
I doubt it much. I conceive, if only we three were survivors of the
whole system of terrestrial being, we should never agree in our
decisions as to the cause of the calamity.
Be that as it may, I think you must at least assent to the following
positions: that the many are sacrificed to the few; that ninety-nine
in a hundred are occupied in a perpetual struggle for the preservation
of a perilous and precarious existence, while the remaining one
wallows in all the redundancies of luxury that can be wrung from their
labours and privations; that luxury and liberty are incompatible; and
that every new want you invent for civilised man is a new instrument
of torture for him who cannot indulge it.
They had now regained the shores of the lake, when the conversation
was suddenly interrupted by a tremendous explosion, followed by a
violent splashing of water, and various sounds of tumult and
confusion, which induced them to quicken their pace towards the spot
whence they proceeded.
In all the thoughts, words, and actions of Squire Headlong, there was
a remarkable alacrity of progression, which almost annihilated the
interval between conception and execution. He was utterly regardless
of obstacles, and seemed to have expunged their very name from his
vocabulary. His designs were never nipped in their infancy by the
contemplation of those trivial difficulties which often turn awry the
current of enterprise; and, though the rapidity of his movements was
sometimes arrested by a more formidable barrier, either naturally
existing in the pursuit he had undertaken, or created by his own
impetuosity, he seldom failed to succeed either in knocking it down or
cutting his way through it. He had little idea of gradation: he saw no
interval between the first step and the last, but pounced upon his
object with the impetus of a mountain cataract. This rapidity of
movement, indeed, subjected him to some disasters which cooler spirits
would have escaped. He was an excellent sportsman, and almost always
killed his game; but now and then he killed his dog.[8.1] Rocks,
streams, hedges, gates, and ditches, were objects of no account in his
estimation; though a dislocated shoulder, several severe bruises, and
two or three narrow escapes for his neck, might have been expected to
teach him a certain degree of caution in effecting his transitions. He
was so singularly alert in climbing precipices and traversing
torrents, that, when he went out on a shooting party, he was very soon
left to continue his sport alone, for he was sure to dash up or down
some nearly perpendicular path, where no one else had either ability
or inclination to follow. He had a pleasure boat on the lake, which he
steered with amazing dexterity; but as he always indulged himself in
the utmost possible latitude of sail, he was occasionally upset by a
sudden gust, and was indebted to his skill in the art of swimming for
the opportunity of tempering with a copious libation of wine the
unnatural frigidity introduced into his stomach by the extraordinary
intrusion of water, an element which he had religiously determined
should never pass his lips, but of which, on these occasions, he was
sometimes compelled to swallow no inconsiderable quantity. This
circumstance alone, of the various disasters that befell him,
occasioned him any permanent affliction, and he accordingly noted the
day in his pocket-book as a _dies nefastus_, with this simple
abstract, and brief chronicle of the calamity: _Mem. Swallowed two or
three pints of water_: without any notice whatever of the concomitant
circumstances. These days, of which there were several, were set apart
in Headlong Hall for the purpose of anniversary expiation; and, as
often as the day returned on which the squire had swallowed water, he
not only made a point of swallowing a treble allowance of wine
himself, but imposed a heavy mulct on every one of his servants who
should be detected in a state of sobriety after sunset: but their
conduct on these occasions was so uniformly exemplary, that no
instance of the infliction of the penalty appears on record.
The squire and Mr Milestone, as we have already said, had set out
immediately after breakfast to examine the capabilities of the
scenery. The object that most attracted Mr Milestone's admiration was
a ruined tower on a projecting point of rock, almost totally overgrown
with ivy. This ivy, Mr Milestone observed, required trimming and
clearing in various parts: a little pointing and polishing was also
necessary for the dilapidated walls: and the whole effect would be
materially increased by a plantation of spruce fir, interspersed with
cypress and juniper, the present rugged and broken ascent from the
land side being first converted into a beautiful slope, which might be
easily effected by blowing up a part of the rock with gunpowder,
laying on a quantity of fine mould, and covering the whole with an
elegant stratum of turf.
Squire Headlong caught with avidity at this suggestion; and, as he had
always a store of gunpowder in the house, for the accommodation of
himself and his shooting visitors, and for the supply of a small
battery of cannon, which he kept for his private amusement, he
insisted on commencing operations immediately. Accordingly, he bounded
back to the house, and very speedily returned, accompanied by the
little butler, and half a dozen servants and labourers, with pickaxes
and gunpowder, a hanging stove and a poker, together with a basket of
cold meat and two or three bottles of Madeira: for the Squire thought,
with many others, that a copious supply of provision is a very
necessary ingredient in all rural amusements.
Mr Milestone superintended the proceedings. The rock was excavated,
the powder introduced, the apertures strongly blockaded with fragments
of stone: a long train was laid to a spot which Mr Milestone fixed on
as sufficiently remote from the possibility of harm: the Squire seized
the poker, and, after flourishing it in the air with a degree of
dexterity which induced the rest of the party to leave him in solitary
possession of an extensive circumference, applied the end of it to the
train; and the rapidly communicated ignition ran hissing along the
surface of the soil.
At this critical moment, Mr Cranium and Mr Panscope appeared at the
top of the tower, which, unseeing and unseen, they had ascended on the
opposite side to that where the Squire and Mr Milestone were
conducting their operations. Their sudden appearance a little dismayed
the Squire, who, however, comforted himself with the reflection, that
the tower was perfectly safe, or at least was intended to be so, and
that his friends were in no probable danger but of a knock on the head
from a flying fragment of stone.
The succession of these thoughts in the mind of the Squire was
commensurate in rapidity to the progress of the ignition, which having
reached its extremity, the explosion took place, and the shattered
rock was hurled into the air in the midst of fire and smoke.
Mr Milestone had properly calculated the force of the explosion; for
the tower remained untouched: but the Squire, in his consolatory
reflections, had omitted the consideration of the influence of sudden
fear, which had so violent an effect on Mr Cranium, who was just
commencing a speech concerning the very fine prospect from the top of
the tower, that, cutting short the thread of his observations, he
bounded, under the elastic influence of terror, several feet into the
air. His ascent being unluckily a little out of the perpendicular, he
descended with a proportionate curve from the apex of his projection,
and alighted not on the wall of the tower, but in an ivy-bush by its
side, which, giving way beneath him, transferred him to a tuft of
hazel at its base, which, after upholding him an instant, consigned
him to the boughs of an ash that had rooted itself in a fissure about
half way down the rock, which finally transmitted him to the waters
Squire Headlong anxiously watched the tower as the smoke which at
first enveloped it rolled away; but when this shadowy curtain was
withdrawn, and Mr Panscope was discovered, _solus_, in a tragical
attitude, his apprehensions became boundless, and he concluded that
the unlucky collision of a flying fragment of rock had indeed
emancipated the spirit of the craniologist from its terrestrial
Mr Escot had considerably outstripped his companions, and arrived at
the scene of the disaster just as Mr Cranium, being utterly destitute
of natatorial skill, was in imminent danger of final submersion. The
deteriorationist, who had cultivated this valuable art with great
success, immediately plunged in to his assistance, and brought him
alive and in safety to a shelving part of the shore. Their landing was
hailed with a view-holla from the delighted Squire, who, shaking them
both heartily by the hand, and making ten thousand lame apologies to
Mr Cranium, concluded by asking, in a pathetic tone, _How much water
he had swallowed?_ and without waiting for his answer, filled a large
tumbler with Madeira, and insisted on his tossing it off, which was no
sooner said than done. Mr Jenkison and Mr Foster now made their
appearance. Mr Panscope descended the tower, which he vowed never
again to approach within a quarter of a mile. The tumbler of Madeira
was replenished, and handed round to recruit the spirits of the party,
which now began to move towards Headlong Hall, the Squire capering for
joy in the van, and the little fat butler waddling in the rear.
The Squire took care that Mr Cranium should be seated next to him at
dinner, and plied him so hard with Madeira to prevent him, as he said,
from taking cold, that long before the ladies sent in their summons to
coffee, every organ in his brain was in a complete state of
revolution, and the Squire was under the necessity of ringing for
three or four servants to carry him to bed, observing, with a smile of
great satisfaction, that he was in a very excellent way for escaping
any ill consequences that might have resulted from his accident.
The beautiful Cephalis, being thus freed from his _surveillance_, was
enabled, during the course of the evening, to develop to his preserver
the full extent of her gratitude.
Mr Escot passed a sleepless night, the ordinary effect of love,
according to some amatory poets, who seem to have composed their
whining ditties for the benevolent purpose of bestowing on others that
gentle slumber of which they so pathetically lament the privation. The
deteriorationist entered into a profound moral soliloquy, in which he
first examined _whether a philosopher ought to be in love?_ Having
decided this point affirmatively against Plato and Lucretius, he next
examined, _whether that passion ought to have the effect of keeping a
philosopher awake?_ Having decided this negatively, he resolved to go
to sleep immediately: not being able to accomplish this to his
satisfaction, he tossed and tumbled, like Achilles or Orlando, first
on one side, then on the other; repeated to himself several hundred
lines of poetry; counted a thousand; began again, and counted another
thousand: in vain: the beautiful Cephalis was the predominant image in
all his soliloquies, in all his repetitions: even in the numerical
process from which he sought relief, he did but associate the idea of
number with that of his dear tormentor, till she appeared to his
mind's eye in a thousand similitudes, distinct, not different. These
thousand images, indeed, were but one; and yet the one was a thousand,
a sort of uni-multiplex phantasma, which will be very intelligible to
He arose with the first peep of day, and sallied forth to enjoy the
balmy breeze of morning, which any but a lover might have thought too
cool; for it was an intense frost, the sun had not risen, and the wind
was rather fresh from north-east and by north. But a lover, who, like
Ladurlad in the Curse of Kehama, always has, or at least is supposed
to have, "a fire in his heart and a fire in his brain," feels a wintry