Part 2 out of 2
breeze from N.E. and by N. steal over his cheek like the south over a
bank of violets; therefore, on walked the philosopher, with his coat
unbuttoned and his hat in his hand, careless of whither he went, till
he found himself near the enclosure of a little mountain chapel.
Passing through the wicket, and stepping over two or three graves, he
stood on a rustic tombstone, and peeped through the chapel window,
examining the interior with as much curiosity as if he had "forgotten
what the inside of a church was made of," which, it is rather to be
feared, was the case. Before him and beneath him were the font, the
altar, and the grave; which gave rise to a train of moral reflections
on the three great epochs in the course of the _featherless
biped_,--birth, marriage, and death. The middle stage of the process
arrested his attention; and his imagination placed before him several
figures, which he thought, with the addition of his own, would make a
very picturesque group; the beautiful Cephalis, "arrayed in her bridal
apparel of white;" her friend Caprioletta officiating as bridemaid; Mr
Cranium giving her away; and, last, not least, the Reverend Doctor
Gaster, intoning the marriage ceremony with the regular orthodox
allowance of nasal recitative. Whilst he was feasting his eyes on this
imaginary picture, the demon of mistrust insinuated himself into the
storehouse of his conceptions, and, removing his figure from the
group, substituted that of Mr Panscope, which gave such a violent
shock to his feelings, that he suddenly exclaimed, with an
extraordinary elevation of voice, _Oimoi kakodaimon, kai tris
kakodaimon, kai tetrakis, kai pentakis, kai dodekakis, kai
muriakis!_[9.1] to the great terror of the sexton, who was just
entering the churchyard, and, not knowing from whence the voice
proceeded, _pensa que fut un diableteau_. The sight of the philosopher
dispelled his apprehensions, when, growing suddenly valiant, he
immediately addressed him:--
"Cot pless your honour, I should n't have thought of meeting any pody
here at this time of the morning, except, look you, it was the
tevil--who, to pe sure, toes not often come upon consecrated
cround--put for all that, I think I have seen him now and then, in
former tays, when old Nanny Llwyd of Llyn-isa was living--Cot teliver
us! a terriple old witch to pe sure she was--I tid n't much like
tigging her crave--put I prought two cocks with me--the tevil hates
cocks--and tied them py the leg on two tombstones--and I tug, and the
cocks crowed, and the tevil kept at a tistance. To pe sure now, if I
had n't peen very prave py nature--as I ought to pe truly--for my
father was Owen Ap-Llwyd Ap-Gryffydd Ap-Shenkin Ap-Williams Ap-Thomas
Ap-Morgan Ap-Parry Ap-Evan Ap-Rhys, a coot preacher and a lover of
_cwrw_[9.2]--I should have thought just now pefore I saw your honour,
that the foice I heard was the tevil's calling Nanny Llwyd--Cot pless
us! to pe sure she should have been puried in the middle of the river,
where the tevil can't come, as your honour fery well knows."
"I am perfectly aware of it," said Mr Escot.
"True, true," continued the sexton; "put to pe sure, Owen Thomas of
Morfa-Bach will have it that one summer evening--when he went over to
Cwm Cynfael in Meirionnydd, apout some cattles he wanted to puy--he
saw a strange figure--pless us!--with five horns!--Cot save us!
sitting on Hugh Llwyd's pulpit, which, your honour fery well knows, is
a pig rock in the middle of the river----"
"Of course he was mistaken," said Mr Escot.
"To pe sure he was," said the sexton. "For there is no toubt put the
tevil, when Owen Thomas saw him, must have peen sitting on a piece of
rock in a straight line from him on the other side of the river, where
he used to sit, look you, for a whole summer's tay, while Hugh Llwyd
was on his pulpit, and there they used to talk across the water! for
Hugh Llwyd, please your honour, never raised the tevil except when he
was safe in the middle of the river, which proves that Owen Thomas, in
his fright, did n't pay proper attention to the exact spot where the
The sexton concluded his speech with an approving smile at his own
sagacity, in so luminously expounding the nature of Owen Thomas's
"I perceive," said Mr Escot, "you have a very deep insight into
things, and can, therefore, perhaps, facilitate the resolution of a
question, concerning which, though I have little doubt on the subject,
I am desirous of obtaining the most extensive and accurate
The sexton scratched his head, the language of Mr Escot not being to
his apprehension quite so luminous as his own.
"You have been sexton here," continued Mr Escot, in the language of
Hamlet, "man and boy, forty years."
The sexton turned pale. The period Mr Escot named was so nearly the
true one, that he began to suspect the personage before him of being
rather too familiar with Hugh Llwyd's sable visitor. Recovering
himself a little, he said, "Why, thereapouts, sure enough."
"During this period, you have of course dug up many bones of the
people of ancient times."
"Pones! Cot pless you, yes! pones as old as the 'orlt."
"Perhaps you can show me a few."
The sexton grinned horribly a ghastly smile. "Will you take your Pible
oath you ton't want them to raise the tevil with?"
"Willingly," said Mr Escot, smiling; "I have an abstruse reason for
"Why, if you have an _obtuse_ reason," said the sexton, who thought
this a good opportunity to show that he could pronounce hard words as
well as other people; "if you have an _obtuse_ reason, that alters the
So saying he lead the way to the bone-house, from which he began to
throw out various bones and skulls of more than common dimensions, and
amongst them a skull of very extraordinary magnitude, which he swore
by St David was the skull of Cadwallader.
"How do you know this to be his skull?" said Mr Escot.
"He was the piggest man that ever lived, and he was puried here; and
this is the piggest skull I ever found: you see now----"
"Nothing can be more logical," said Mr Escot. "My good friend will you
allow me to take this skull away with me?"
"St Winifred pless us!" exclaimed the sexton, "would you have me
haunted py his chost for taking his plessed pones out of consecrated
cround? Would you have him come in the tead of the night, and fly away
with the roof of my house? Would you have all the crop of my carden
come to nothing? for, look you, his epitaph says,
"He that my pones shall ill pestow,
Leek in his cround shall never crow."
"You will ill bestow them," said Mr Escot, "in confounding them with
those of the sons of little men, the degenerate dwarfs of later
generations; you will well bestow them in giving them to me: for I
will have this illustrious skull bound with a silver rim, and filled
with mantling wine, with this inscription, NUNC TANDEM: signifying
that that pernicious liquor has at length found its proper receptacle;
for, when the wine is in, the brain is out."
Saying these words, he put a dollar into the hands of the sexton, who
instantly stood spellbound by the talismanic influence of the coin,
while Mr Escot walked off in triumph with the skull of Cadwallader.
When Mr Escot entered the breakfast-room he found the majority of the
party assembled, and the little butler very active at his station.
Several of the ladies shrieked at the sight of the skull; and Miss
Tenorina, starting up in great haste and terror, caused the subversion
of a cup of chocolate, which a servant was handing to the Reverend
Doctor Gaster, into the nape of the neck of Sir Patrick O'Prism. Sir
Patrick, rising impetuously, _to clap an extinguisher_, as he
expressed himself, _on the farthing rushlight of the rascal's life_,
pushed over the chair of Marmaduke Milestone, Esquire, who, catching
for support at the first thing that came in his way, which happened
unluckily to be the corner of the table-cloth, drew it instantaneously
with him to the floor, involving plates, cups and saucers, in one
promiscuous ruin. But, as the principal _materiel_ of the breakfast
apparatus was on the little butler's side-table, the confusion
occasioned by this accident was happily greater than the damage. Miss
Tenorina was so agitated that she was obliged to retire: Miss Graziosa
accompanied her through pure sisterly affection and sympathy, not
without a lingering look at Sir Patrick, who likewise retired to
change his coat, but was very expeditious in returning to resume his
attack on the cold partridge. The broken cups were cleared away, the
cloth relaid, and the array of the table restored with wonderful
Mr Escot was a little surprised at the scene of confusion which
signalised his entrance; but, perfectly unconscious that it originated
with the skull of Cadwallader, he advanced to seat himself at the
table by the side of the beautiful Cephalis, first placing the skull
in a corner, out of the reach of Mr Cranium, who sate eyeing it with
lively curiosity, and after several efforts to restrain his
impatience, exclaimed, "You seem to have found a rarity."
"A rarity indeed," said Mr Escot, cracking an egg as he spoke; "no
less than the genuine and indubitable skull of Cadwallader."
"The skull of Cadwallader!" vociferated Mr Cranium; "O treasure of
Mr Escot then detailed by what means he had become possessed of it,
which gave birth to various remarks from the other individuals of the
party: after which, rising from table, and taking the skull again in
"This skull," said he, "is the skull of a hero, _palai
katatethneiotos_[10.1], and sufficiently demonstrates a point,
concerning which I never myself entertained a doubt, that the human
race is undergoing a gradual process of diminution, in length,
breadth, and thickness. Observe this skull. Even the skull of our
reverend friend, which is the largest and thickest in the company, is
not more than half its size. The frame this skull belonged to could
scarcely have been less than nine feet high. Such is the lamentable
progress of degeneracy and decay. In the course of ages, a boot of the
present generation would form an ample chateau for a large family of
our remote posterity. The mind, too, participates in the contraction
of the body. Poets and philosophers of all ages and nations have
lamented this too visible process of physical and moral deterioration.
'The sons of little men', says Ossian. '_Oioi nun brotoi eisin_,' says
Homer: 'such men as live in these degenerate days.' 'All things,' says
Virgil, 'have a retrocessive tendency, and grow worse and worse by the
inevitable doom of fate.'[10.2] 'We live in the ninth age,' says
Juvenal, 'an age worse than the age of iron; nature has no
metal sufficiently pernicious to give a denomination to its
wickedness.'[10.3] 'Our fathers,' says Horace, 'worse than our
grandfathers, have given birth to us, their more vicious progeny,
who, in our turn, shall become the parents of a still viler
generation.'[10.4] You all know the fable of the buried Pict, who bit
off the end of a pickaxe, with which sacrilegious hands were breaking
open his grave, and called out with a voice like subterranean thunder,
_I perceive the degeneracy of your race by the smallness of your
little finger!_ videlicet, the pickaxe. This, to be sure, is a
fiction; but it shows the prevalent opinion, the feeling, the
conviction, of absolute, universal, irremediable deterioration."
"I should be sorry," said Mr Foster, "that such an opinion should
become universal, independently of my conviction of its fallacy. Its
general admission would tend, in a great measure, to produce the very
evils it appears to lament. What could be its effect, but to check the
ardour of investigation, to extinguish the zeal of philanthropy, to
freeze the current of enterprising hope, to bury in the torpor of
scepticism and in the stagnation of despair, every better faculty of
the human mind, which will necessarily become retrograde in ceasing to
"I am inclined to think, on the contrary," said Mr Escot, "that the
deterioration of man is accelerated by his blindness--in many respects
wilful blindness--to the truth of the fact itself, and to the causes
which produce it; that there is no hope whatever of ameliorating his
condition but in a total and radical change of the whole scheme of
human life, and that the advocates of his indefinite perfectibility
are in reality the greatest enemies to the practical possibility of
their own system, by so strenuously labouring to impress on his
attention that he is going on in a good way, while he is really in a
deplorably bad one."
"I admit," said Mr Foster, "there are many things that may, and
therefore will, be changed for the better."
"Not on the present system," said Mr Escot, "in which every change is
for the worse."
"In matters of taste I am sure it is," said Mr Gall: "there is, in
fact, no such thing as good taste left in the world."
"Oh, Mr Gall!" said Miss Philomela Poppyseed, "I thought my novel----"
"My paintings," said Sir Patrick O'Prism----
"My ode," said Mr Mac Laurel----
"My ballad," said Mr Nightshade----
"My plan for Lord Littlebrain's park," said Marmaduke Milestone,
"My essay," said Mr Treacle----
"My sonata," said Mr Chromatic----
"My claret," said Squire Headlong----
"My lectures," said Mr Cranium----
"Vanity of vanities," said the Reverend Doctor Gaster, turning down an
empty egg-shell; "all is vanity and vexation of spirit."
Among the _dies alba creta notandos_, which the beau monde of the
Cambrian mountains was in the habit of remembering with the greatest
pleasure, and anticipating with the most lively satisfaction, was the
Christmas ball which the ancient family of the Headlongs had been
accustomed to give from time immemorial. Tradition attributed the
honour of its foundation to Headlong Ap-Headlong Ap-Breakneck
Ap-Headlong Ap-Cataract Ap-Pistyll Ap-Rhaidr[11.1] Ap-Headlong, who
lived about the time of the Trojan war. Certain it is, at least, that
a grand chorus was always sung after supper in honour of this
illustrious ancestor of the squire. This ball was, indeed, an aera in
the lives of all the beauty and fashion of Caernarvon, Meirionnydd,
and Anglesea, and, like the Greek Olympiads and the Roman consulates,
served as the main pillar of memory, round which all the events of the
year were suspended and entwined. Thus, in recalling to mind any
circumstance imperfectly recollected, the principal point to be
ascertained was, whether it had occurred in the year of the first,
second, third, or fourth ball of Headlong Ap-Breakneck, or Headlong
Ap-Torrent, or Headlong Ap-Hurricane; and, this being satisfactorily
established, the remainder followed of course in the natural order of
its ancient association.
This eventful anniversary being arrived, every chariot, coach,
barouche and barouchette, landau and landaulet, chaise, curricle,
buggy, whiskey, and tilbury, of the three counties, was in motion: not
a horse was left idle within five miles of any gentleman's seat, from
the high-mettled hunter to the heath-cropping galloway. The ferrymen
of the Menai were at their stations before daybreak, taking a double
allowance of rum and _cwrw_ to strengthen them for the fatigues of the
day. The ivied towers of Caernarvon, the romantic woods of
Tan-y-bwlch, the heathy hills of Kernioggau, the sandy shores of
Tremadoc, the mountain recesses of Bedd-Gelert, and the lonely lakes
of Capel-Cerig, re-echoed to the voices of the delighted ostlers and
postillions, who reaped on this happy day their wintry harvest.
Landlords and landladies, waiters, chambermaids, and toll-gate
keepers, roused themselves from the torpidity which the last solitary
tourist, flying with the yellow leaves on the wings of the autumnal
wind, had left them to enjoy till the returning spring: the bustle of
August was renewed on all the mountain roads, and, in the meanwhile,
Squire Headlong and his little fat butler carried most energetically
into effect the lessons of the _savant_ in the Court of
Quintessence, _qui par engin mirificque jectoit les maisons par les
It was the custom for the guests to assemble at dinner on the day of
the ball, and depart on the following morning after breakfast. Sleep
during this interval was out of the question: the ancient harp of
Cambria suspended the celebration of the noble race of Shenkin, and
the songs of Hoel and Cyveilioc, to ring to the profaner but more
lively modulation of _Voulez vous danser, Mademoiselle?_ in
conjunction with the symphonious scraping of fiddles, the tinkling of
triangles, and the beating of tambourines. Comus and Momus were the
deities of the night; and Bacchus of course was not forgotten by the
male part of the assembly (with them, indeed, a ball was invariably a
scene of "_tipsy dance and jollity_"): the servants flew about with
wine and negus, and the little butler was indefatigable with his
corkscrew, which is reported on one occasion to have grown so hot
under the influence of perpetual friction that it actually set fire to
The company assembled. The dinner, which on this occasion was a
secondary object, was despatched with uncommon celerity. When the
cloth was removed, and the bottle had taken its first round, Mr
Cranium stood up and addressed the company.
"Ladies and gentlemen," said he, "the golden key of mental
phaenomena, which has lain buried for ages in the deepest vein of the
mine of physiological research, is now, by a happy combination of
practical and speculative investigations, grasped, if I may so
express myself, firmly and inexcusably, in the hands of
physiognomical empiricism." The Cambrian visitors listened with
profound attention, not comprehending a single syllable he said, but
concluding he would finish his speech by proposing the health of
Squire Headlong. The gentlemen accordingly tossed off their heeltaps,
and Mr Cranium proceeded: "Ardently desirous, to the extent of my
feeble capacity, of disseminating as much as possible, the
inexhaustible treasures to which this golden key admits the humblest
votary of philosophical truth, I invite you, when you have
sufficiently restored, replenished, refreshed, and exhilarated that
osteosarchaematosplanchnochondroneuromuelous, or to employ a more
intelligible term, osseocarnisanguineoviscericartilaginonervomedullary,
_compages_, or shell, the body, which at once envelopes and developes
that mysterious and inestimable kernel, the desiderative,
determinative, ratiocinative, imaginative, inquisitive, appetitive,
comparative, reminiscent, congeries of ideas and notions, simple and
compound, comprised in the comprehensive denomination of mind,
to take a peep with me into the mechanical arcana of the
anatomico-metaphysical universe. Being not in the least dubitative of
your spontaneous compliance, I proceed," added he, suddenly changing
his tone, "to get everything ready in the library." Saying these
words, he vanished.
The Welsh squires now imagined they had caught a glimpse of his
meaning, and set him down in their minds for a sort of gentleman
conjuror, who intended to amuse them before the ball with some tricks
of legerdemain. Under this impression, they became very impatient to
follow him, as they had made up their minds not to be drunk before
supper. The ladies, too, were extremely curious to witness an
exhibition which had been announced in so singular a preamble; and the
squire, having previously insisted on every gentleman tossing off a
half-pint bumper, adjourned the whole party to the library, where they
were not a little surprised to discover Mr Cranium seated, in a
pensive attitude, at a large table, decorated with a copious variety
Some of the ladies were so much shocked at this extraordinary display,
that a scene of great confusion ensued. Fans were very actively
exercised, and water was strenuously called for by some of the most
officious of the gentlemen; on which the little butler entered with a
large allowance of liquid, which bore, indeed, the name of _water_,
but was in reality a very powerful spirit. This was the only species
of water which the little butler had ever heard called for in Headlong
Hall. The mistake was not attended with any evil effects: for the
fluid was no sooner applied to the lips of the fainting fair ones,
than it resuscitated them with an expedition truly miraculous.
Order was at length restored; the audience took their seats, and the
craniological orator held forth in the following terms:
"Physiologists have been much puzzled to account for the varieties of
moral character in men, as well as for the remarkable similarity of
habit and disposition in all the individual animals of every other
respective species. A few brief sentences, perspicuously worded, and
scientifically arranged, will enumerate all the characteristics of a
lion, or a tiger, or a wolf, or a bear, or a squirrel, or a goat, or a
horse, or an ass, or a rat, or a cat, or a hog, or a dog; and whatever
is physiologically predicted of any individual lion, tiger, wolf,
bear, squirrel, goat, horse, ass, hog, or dog, will be found to hold
true of all lions, tigers, wolves, bears, squirrels, goats, horses,
asses, hogs, and dogs, whatsoever. Now, in man, the very reverse of
this appears to be the case; for he has so few distinct and
characteristic marks which hold true of all his species, that
philosophers in all ages have found it a task of infinite difficulty
to give him a definition. Hence one has defined him to be a
_featherless biped_, a definition which is equally applicable to an
unfledged fowl: another to be _an animal which forms opinions_, than
which nothing can be more inaccurate, for a very small number of the
species form opinions, and the remainder take them upon trust, without
investigation or inquiry.
"Again, man has been defined to be _an animal that carries a stick_:
an attribute which undoubtedly belongs to man only, but not to all men
always; though it uniformly characterises some of the graver and more
imposing varieties, such as physicians, oran-outangs, and lords in
"We cannot define man to be a reasoning animal, for we do not dispute
that idiots are men; to say nothing of that very numerous description
of persons who consider themselves reasoning animals, and are so
denominated by the ironical courtesy of the world, who labour,
nevertheless, under a very gross delusion in that essential
"It appears to me that man may be correctly defined an animal, which,
without any peculiar or distinguishing faculty of its own, is, as it
were, a bundle or compound of faculties of other animals, by a
distinct enumeration of which any individual of the species may be
satisfactorily described. This is manifest, even in the ordinary
language of conversation, when, in summing up, for example, the
qualities of an accomplished courtier, we say he has the vanity of a
peacock, the cunning of a fox, the treachery of an hyaena, the
cold-heartedness of a cat, and the servility of a jackal. That this is
perfectly consentaneous to scientific truth, will appear in the
further progress of these observations.
"Every particular faculty of the mind has its corresponding organ in
the brain. In proportion as any particular faculty or propensity
acquires paramount activity in any individual, these organs develope
themselves, and their development becomes externally obvious by
corresponding lumps and bumps, exuberances and protuberances, on the
osseous compages of the occiput and sinciput. In all animals but man,
the same organ is equally developed in every individual of the
species: for instance, that of migration in the swallow, that of
destruction in the tiger, that of architecture in the beaver, and that
of parental affection in the bear. The human brain, however, consists,
as I have said, of a bundle or compound of all the faculties of all
other animals; and from the greater development of one or more of
these, in the infinite varieties of combination, result all the
peculiarities of individual character.
"Here is the skull of a beaver, and that of Sir Christopher Wren. You
observe, in both these specimens, the prodigious development of the
organ of constructiveness.
"Here is the skull of a bullfinch, and that of an eminent fiddler. You
may compare the organ of music.
"Here is the skull of a tiger. You observe the organ of carnage. Here
is the skull of a fox. You observe the organ of plunder. Here is the
skull of a peacock. You observe the organ of vanity. Here is the skull
of an illustrious robber, who, after a long and triumphant process of
depredation and murder, was suddenly checked in his career by means of
a certain quality inherent in preparations of hemp, which, for the
sake of perspicuity, I shall call _suspensiveness_. Here is the skull
of a conqueror, who, after over-running several kingdoms, burning a
number of cities, and causing the deaths of two or three millions of
men, women, and children, was entombed with all the pageantry of
public lamentation, and figured as the hero of several thousand odes
and a round dozen of epics; while the poor highwayman was twice
'At the gallows first, and after in a ballad,
Sung to a villainous tune.'
"You observe, in both these skulls, the combined development of the
organs of carnage, plunder, and vanity, which I have separately
pointed out in the tiger, the fox, and the peacock. The greater
enlargement of the organ of vanity in the hero is the only criterion
by which I can distinguish them from each other. Born with the same
faculties, and the same propensities, these two men were formed by
nature to run the same career: the different combinations of external
circumstances decided the differences of their destinies.
"Here is the skull of a Newfoundland dog. You observe the organ of
benevolence, and that of attachment. Here is a human skull, in which
you may observe a very striking negation of both these organs; and an
equally striking development of those of destruction, cunning,
avarice, and self-love. This was one of the most illustrious statesmen
that ever flourished in the page of history.
"Here is the skull of a turnspit, which, after a wretched life of
_dirty work_, was turned out of doors to die on a dunghill. I have
been induced to preserve it, in consequence of its remarkable
similarity to this, which belonged to a courtly poet, who having grown
grey in flattering the great, was cast off in the same manner to
perish by the same catastrophe."
_After these, and several other illustrations, during which the skulls
were handed round for the inspection of the company, Mr Cranium
"It is obvious, from what I have said, that no man can hope for
worldly honour or advancement, who is not placed in such a relation to
external circumstances as may be consentaneous to his peculiar
cerebral organs; and I would advise every parent, who has the welfare
of his son at heart, to procure as extensive a collection as possible
of the skulls of animals, and, before determining on the choice of a
profession, to compare with the utmost nicety their bumps and
protuberances with those of the skull of his son. If the development
of the organ of destruction point out a similarity between the youth
and the tiger, let him be brought to some profession (whether that of
a butcher, a soldier, or a physician, may be regulated by
circumstances) in which he may be furnished with a licence to kill:
as, without such licence, the indulgence of his natural propensity may
lead to the untimely rescission of his vital thread, 'with edge of
penny cord and vile reproach.' If he show an analogy with the jackal,
let all possible influence be used to procure him a place at court,
where he will infallibly thrive. If his skull bear a marked
resemblance to that of a magpie, it cannot be doubted that he will
prove an admirable lawyer; and if with this advantageous conformation
be combined any similitude to that of an owl, very confident hopes may
be formed of his becoming a judge."
A furious flourish of music was now heard from the ball-room, the
squire having secretly dispatched the little butler to order it to
strike up, by way of a hint to Mr Cranium to finish his harangue. The
company took the hint and adjourned tumultuously, having just
understood as much of the lecture as furnished them with amusement for
the ensuing twelvemonth, in feeling the skulls of all their
The ball-room was adorned with great taste and elegance, under the
direction of Miss Caprioletta and her friend Miss Cephalis, who were
themselves its most beautiful ornaments, even though romantic Meirion,
the pre-eminent in loveliness, sent many of its loveliest daughters to
grace the festive scene. Numberless were the solicitations of the
dazzled swains of Cambria for the honour of the two first dances with
the one or the other of these fascinating friends; but little availed,
on this occasion, the pedigree lineally traced from Caractacus or King
Arthur; their two philosophical lovers, neither of whom could have
given the least account of his great-great-grandfather, had engaged
them many days before. Mr Panscope chafed and fretted like Llugwy in
his bed of rocks, when the object of his adoration stood up with his
rival: but he consoled himself with a lively damsel from the vale of
Edeirnion, having first compelled Miss Cephalis to promise him her
hand for the fourth set.
The ball was accordingly opened by Miss Caprioletta and Mr Foster,
which gave rise to much speculation among the Welsh gentry, as to who
this Mr Foster could be; some of the more learned among them secretly
resolving to investigate most profoundly the antiquity of the name of
Foster, and ascertain what right a person so denominated could have to
open the most illustrious of all possible balls with the lovely
Caprioletta Headlong, the only sister of Harry Headlong, Esquire, of
Headlong Hall, in the Vale of Llanberris, the only surviving male
representative of the antediluvian family of Headlong Ap-Rhaiader.
When the first two dances were ended, Mr Escot, who did not choose to
dance with any one but his adorable Cephalis, looking round for a
convenient seat, discovered Mr Jenkison in a corner by the side of the
Reverend Doctor Gaster, who was keeping excellent time with his nose
to the lively melody of the harp and fiddle. Mr Escot seated himself
by the side of Mr Jenkison, and inquired if he took no part in the
amusement of the night?
No. The universal cheerfulness of the company induces me to rise; the
trouble of such violent exercise induces me to sit still. Did I see a
young lady in want of a partner, gallantry would incite me to offer
myself as her devoted knight for half an hour: but, as I perceive
there are enough without me, that motive is null. I have been weighing
these points _pro_ and _con_, and remain _in statu quo_.
I have danced, contrary to my system, as I have done many other things
since I have been here, from a motive that you will easily guess. (_Mr
Jenkison smiled._) I have great objections to dancing. The wild and
original man is a calm and contemplative animal. The stings of natural
appetite alone rouse him to action. He satisfies his hunger with roots
and fruits, unvitiated by the malignant adhibition of fire, and all
its diabolical processes of elixion and assation; he slakes his thirst
in the mountain-stream, _summisgetai tae epituchousae_, and returns to
his peaceful state of meditative repose.
Like the metaphysical statue of Condillac.
With all its senses and purely natural faculties developed, certainly.
Imagine this tranquil and passionless being, occupied in his first
meditation on the simple question of _Where am I? Whence do I come?
And what is the end of my existence?_ Then suddenly place before him a
chandelier, a fiddler, and a magnificent beau in silk stockings and
pumps, bounding, skipping, swinging, capering, and throwing himself
into ten thousand attitudes, till his face glows with fever, and
distils with perspiration: the first impulse excited in his mind by
such an apparition will be that of violent fear, which, by the
reiterated perception of its harmlessness, will subside into simple
astonishment. Then let any genius, sufficiently powerful to impress on
his mind all the terms of the communication, impart to him, that after
a long process of ages, when his race shall have attained what some
people think proper to denominate a very advanced stage of
perfectibility, the most favoured and distinguished of the community
shall meet by hundreds, to grin, and labour, and gesticulate, like the
phantasma before him, from sunset to sunrise, while all nature is at
rest, and that they shall consider this a happy and pleasurable mode
of existence, and furnishing the most delightful of all possible
contrasts to what they will call his vegetative state: would he not
groan from his inmost soul for the lamentable condition of his
I know not what your wild and original man might think of the matter
in the abstract; but comparatively, I conceive, he would be better
pleased with the vision of such a scene as this, than with that of a
party of Indians (who would have all the advantage of being nearly as
wild as himself), dancing their infernal war-dance round a midnight
fire in a North American forest.
Not if you should impart to him the true nature of both, by laying
open to his view the springs of action in both parties.
To do this with effect, you must make him a profound metaphysician,
and thus transfer him at once from his wild and original state to a
very advanced stage of intellectual progression; whether that
progression be towards good or evil, I leave you and our friend Foster
to settle between you.
I wish to make no change in his habits and feelings, but to give him,
hypothetically, so much mental illumination, as will enable him to
take a clear view of two distinct stages of the deterioration of his
posterity, that he may be enabled to compare them with each other, and
with his own more happy condition. The Indian, dancing round the
midnight fire, is very far deteriorated; but the magnificent beau,
dancing to the light of chandeliers, is infinitely more so. The Indian
is a hunter: he makes great use of fire, and subsists almost entirely
on animal food. The malevolent passions that spring from these
pernicious habits involve him in perpetual war. He is, therefore,
necessitated, for his own preservation, to keep all the energies of
his nature in constant activity: to this end his midnight war-dance is
very powerfully subservient, and, though in itself a frightful
spectacle, is at least justifiable on the iron plea of necessity.
On the same iron plea, the modern system of dancing is more
justifiable. The Indian dances to prepare himself for killing his
enemy: but while the beaux and belles of our assemblies dance, they
are in the very act of killing theirs--TIME!--a more inveterate and
formidable foe than any the Indian has to contend with; for, however
completely and ingeniously killed, he is sure to rise again, "with
twenty mortal murders on his crown," leading his army of blue devils,
with ennui in the van, and vapours in the rear.
Your observation militates on my side of the question; and it is a
strong argument in favour of the Indian, that he has no such enemy to
There is certainly a great deal to be said against dancing: there is
also a great deal to be said in its favour. The first side of the
question I leave for the present to you: on the latter, I may venture
to allege that no amusement seems more natural and more congenial to
youth than this. It has the advantage of bringing young persons of
both sexes together, in a manner which its publicity renders perfectly
unexceptionable, enabling them to see and know each other better than,
perhaps, any other mode of general association. _Tete-a-tetes_ are
dangerous things. Small family parties are too much under mutual
observation. A ball-room appears to me almost the only scene uniting
that degree of rational and innocent liberty of intercourse, which it
is desirable to promote as much as possible between young persons,
with that scrupulous attention to the delicacy and propriety of female
conduct, which I consider the fundamental basis of all our most
valuable social relations.
There would be some plausibility in your argument, if it were not the
very essence of this species of intercourse to exhibit them to each
other under false colours. Here all is show, and varnish, and
hypocrisy, and coquetry; they dress up their moral character for the
evening at the same toilet where they manufacture their shapes and
faces. Ill-temper lies buried under a studied accumulation of smiles.
Envy, hatred, and malice, retreat from the countenance, to entrench
themselves more deeply in the heart. Treachery lurks under the flowers
of courtesy. Ignorance and folly take refuge in that unmeaning gabble
which it would be profanation to call language, and which even those
whom long experience in "the dreary intercourse of daily life" has
screwed up to such a pitch of stoical endurance that they can listen
to it by the hour, have branded with the ignominious appellation of
"_small talk_." Small indeed!--the absolute minimum of the infinitely
Go on. I have said all I intended to say on the favourable side. I
shall have great pleasure in hearing you balance the argument.
I expect you to confess that I shall have more than balanced it. A
ball-room is an epitome of all that is most worthless and unamiable in
the great sphere of human life. Every petty and malignant passion is
called into play. Coquetry is perpetually on the alert to captivate,
caprice to mortify, and vanity to take offence. One amiable female is
rendered miserable for the evening by seeing another, whom she
intended to outshine, in a more attractive dress than her own; while
the other omits no method of giving stings to her triumph, which she
enjoys with all the secret arrogance of an oriental sultana. Another
is compelled to dance with a _monster_ she abhors. A third has set her
heart on dancing with a particular partner, perhaps for the amiable
motive of annoying one of her _dear friends_: not only he does not ask
her, but she sees him dancing with that identical _dear friend_, whom
from that moment she hates more cordially than ever. Perhaps, what is
worse than all, she has set her heart on refusing some impertinent
fop, who does not give her the opportunity.--As to the men, the case
is very nearly the same with them. To be sure, they have the privilege
of making the first advances, and are, therefore, less liable to have
an odious partner forced upon them; though this sometimes happens, as
I know by woeful experience: but it is seldom they can procure the
very partner they prefer; and when they do, the absurd necessity of
changing every two dances forces them away, and leaves them only the
miserable alternative of taking up with something disagreeable perhaps
in itself, and at all events rendered so by contrast, or of retreating
into some solitary corner, to vent their spleen on the first idle
coxcomb they can find.
I hope that is not the motive which brings you to me.
Clearly not. But the most afflicting consideration of all is, that
these malignant and miserable feelings are masked under that uniform
disguise of pretended benevolence, _that fine and delicate irony,
called politeness, which gives so much ease and pliability to the
mutual intercourse of civilised man, and enables him to assume the
appearance of every virtue without the reality of one_.[13.1]
The second set of dances was now terminated, and Mr Escot flew off to
reclaim the hand of the beautiful Cephalis, with whom he figured away
with surprising alacrity, and probably felt at least as happy among
the chandeliers and silk stockings, at which he had just been railing,
as he would have been in an American forest, making one in an Indian
ring, by the light of a blazing fire, even though his hand had been
locked in that of the most beautiful _squaw_ that ever listened to the
roar of Niagara.
Squire Headlong was now beset by his maiden aunt, Miss Brindle-mew
Grimalkin Phoebe Tabitha Ap-Headlong, on one side, and Sir Patrick
O'Prism on the other; the former insisting that he should immediately
procure her a partner; the latter earnestly requesting the same
interference in behalf of Miss Philomela Poppyseed. The squire thought
to emancipate himself from his two petitioners by making them dance
with each other; but Sir Patrick vehemently pleading a prior
engagement, the squire threw his eyes around till they alighted on Mr
Jenkison and the Reverend Doctor Gaster; both of whom, after waking
the latter, he pressed into the service. The doctor, arising with a
strange kind of guttural sound, which was half a yawn and half a
groan, was handed by the officious squire to Miss Philomela, who
received him with sullen dignity: she had not yet forgotten his
falling asleep during the first chapter of her novel, while she was
condescending to detail to him the outlines of four superlative
volumes. The doctor, on his part, had most completely forgotten it;
and though he thought there was something in her physiognomy rather
more forbidding than usual, he gave himself no concern about the
cause, and had not the least suspicion that it was at all connected
with himself. Miss Brindle-mew was very well contented with Mr
Jenkison, and gave him two or three ogles, accompanied by a most
risible distortion of the countenance which she intended for a
captivating smile. As to Mr Jenkison, it was all one to him with whom
he danced, or whether he danced or not: he was therefore just as well
pleased as if he had been left alone in his corner; which is probably
more than could have been said of any other human being under similar
At the end of the third set, supper was announced; and the party,
pairing off like turtles, adjourned to the supper-room. The squire was
now the happiest of mortal men, and the little butler the most
laborious. The centre of the largest table was decorated with a model
of Snowdon, surmounted with an enormous artificial leek, the leaves of
angelica, and the bulb of blancmange. A little way from the summit was
a tarn, or mountain-pool, supplied through concealed tubes with an
inexhaustible flow of milk-punch, which, dashing in cascades down the
miniature rocks, fell into the more capacious lake below, washing the
mimic foundations of Headlong Hall. The reverend doctor handed Miss
Philomela to the chair most conveniently situated for enjoying this
interesting scene, protesting he had never before been sufficiently
impressed with the magnificence of that mountain, which he now
perceived to be well worthy of all the fame it had obtained.
"Now, when they had eaten and were satisfied," Squire Headlong called
on Mr Chromatic for a song; who, with the assistance of his two
accomplished daughters, regaled the ears of the company with the
Grey Twilight, from her shadowy hill,
Discolours Nature's vernal bloom,
And sheds on grove, and field, and rill,
One placid tint of deepening gloom.
The sailor sighs 'mid shoreless seas,
Touched by the thought of friends afar,
As, fanned by ocean's flowing breeze,
He gazes on the western star.
The wanderer hears, in pensive dream,
The accents of the last farewell,
As, pausing by the mountain stream,
He listens to the evening bell.
This terzetto was of course much applauded; Mr Milestone observing,
that he thought the figure in the last verse would have been more
picturesque, if it had been represented with its arms folded and its
back against a tree; or leaning on its staff, with a cockle-shell in
its hat, like a pilgrim of ancient times.
Mr Chromatic professed himself astonished that a gentleman of genuine
modern taste, like Mr Milestone, should consider the words of a song
of any consequence whatever, seeing that they were at the best only a
species of pegs, for the more convenient suspension of crotchets and
quavers. This remark drew on him a very severe reprimand from Mr Mac
Laurel, who said to him, "Dinna ye ken, sir, that soond is a thing
utterly worthless in itsel, and only effectual in agreeable
excitements, as far as it is an aicho to sense? Is there ony soond
mair meeserable an' peetifu' than the scrape o' a feddle, when it does
na touch ony chord i' the human sensorium? Is there ony mair divine
than the deep note o' a bagpipe, when it breathes the auncient
meelodies o' leeberty an' love? It is true, there are peculiar trains
o' feeling an' sentiment, which parteecular combinations o' meelody
are calculated to excite; an' sae far music can produce its effect
without words: but it does na follow, that, when ye put words to it,
it becomes a matter of indefference what they are; for a gude strain
of impassioned poetry will greatly increase the effect, and a tessue
o' nonsensical doggrel will destroy it a' thegither. Noo, as gude
poetry can produce its effect without music, sae will gude music
without poetry; and as gude music will be mair pooerfu' by itsel' than
wi' bad poetry, sae will gude poetry than wi' bad music: but, when ye
put gude music an' gude poetry thegither, ye produce the divinest
compound o' sentimental harmony that can possibly find its way through
the lug to the saul."
Mr Chromatic admitted that there was much justice in these
observations, but still maintained the subserviency of poetry to
music. Mr Mac Laurel as strenuously maintained the contrary; and a
furious war of words was proceeding to perilous lengths, when the
squire interposed his authority towards the reproduction of peace,
which was forthwith concluded, and all animosities drowned in a
libation of milk-punch, the Reverend Doctor Gaster officiating as high
priest on the occasion.
Mr Chromatic now requested Miss Caprioletta to favour the company with
an air. The young lady immediately complied, and sung the following
"O Mary, my sister, thy sorrow give o'er,
I soon shall return, girl, and leave thee no more:
But with children so fair, and a husband so kind,
I shall feel less regret when I leave thee behind.
"I have made thee a bench for the door of thy cot,
And more would I give thee, but more I have not:
Sit and think of me there, in the warm summer day,
And give me three kisses, my labour to pay."
She gave him three kisses, and forth did he fare.
And long did he wander, and no one knew where;
And long from her cottage, through sunshine and rain,
She watched his return, but he came not again.
Her children grew up, and her husband grew grey;
She sate on the bench through the long summer day:
One evening, when twilight was deep on the shore,
There came an old soldier, and stood by the door.
In English he spoke, and none knew what he said,
But her oatcake and milk on the table she spread;
Then he sate to his supper, and blithely he sung,
And she knew the dear sounds of her own native tongue:
"O rich are the feasts in the Englishman's hall,
And the wine sparkles bright in the goblets of Gaul:
But their mingled attractions I well could withstand,
For the milk and the oatcake of Meirion's dear land."
"And art thou a Welchman, old soldier?" she cried.
"Many years have I wandered," the stranger replied:
"'Twixt Danube and Thames many rivers there be,
But the bright waves of Cynfael are fairest to me.
"I felled the grey oak, ere I hastened to roam,
And I fashioned a bench for the door of my home;
And well my dear sister my labour repaid,
Who gave me three kisses when first it was made.
"In the old English soldier thy brother appears:
Here is gold in abundance, the saving of years:
Give me oatcake and milk in return for my store,
And a seat by thy side on the bench at the door."
Various other songs succeeded, which, as we are not composing a song
book, we shall lay aside for the present.
An old squire, who had not missed one of these anniversaries, during
more than half a century, now stood up, and filling a half-pint
bumper, pronounced, with a stentorian voice--"To the immortal memory
of Headlong Ap-Rhaiader, and to the health of his noble descendant and
worthy representative!" This example was followed by all the gentlemen
present. The harp struck up a triumphal strain; and, the old squire
already mentioned, vociferating the first stave, they sang, or rather
roared, the following
Hail to the Headlong! the Headlong Ap-Headlong!
All hail to the Headlong, the Headlong Ap-Headlong!
The Headlong Ap-Headlong
Ap-Cataract Ap-Pistyll Ap-Rhaiader Ap-Headlong!
The bright bowl we steep in the name of the Headlong:
Let the youths pledge it deep to the Headlong Ap-Headlong,
And the rosy-lipped lasses
Touch the brim as it passes,
And kiss the red tide for the Headlong Ap-Headlong!
The loud harp resounds in the hall of the Headlong:
The light step rebounds in the hall of the Headlong:
Where shall music invite us,
Or beauty delight us,
If not in the hall of the Headlong Ap-Headlong?
Huzza! to the health of the Headlong Ap-Headlong!
Fill the bowl, fill in floods, to the health of the Headlong!
Till the stream ruby-glowing,
On all sides o'erflowing,
Shall fall in cascades to the health of the Headlong!
The Headlong Ap-Headlong
Ap-Cataract Ap-Pistyll Ap-Rhaiader Ap-Headlong!
Squire Headlong returned thanks with an appropriate libation, and the
company re-adjourned to the ballroom, where they kept it up till
sunrise, when the little butler summoned them to breakfast.
The chorus which celebrated the antiquity of her lineage, had been
ringing all night in the ears of Miss Brindle-mew Grimalkin Phoebe
Tabitha Ap-Headlong, when, taking the squire aside, while the visitors
were sipping their tea and coffee, "Nephew Harry," said she, "I have
been noting your behaviour, during the several stages of the ball and
supper; and, though I cannot tax you with any want of gallantry, for
you are a very gallant young man, Nephew Harry, very gallant--I wish I
could say as much for every one" (added she, throwing a spiteful look
towards a distant corner, where Mr Jenkison was sitting with great
_nonchalance_, and at the moment dipping a rusk in a cup of
chocolate); "but I lament to perceive that you were at least as
pleased with your lakes of milk-punch, and your bottles of Champagne
and Burgundy, as with any of your delightful partners. Now, though I
can readily excuse this degree of incombustibility in the descendant
of a family so remarkable in all ages for personal beauty as ours, yet
I lament it exceedingly, when I consider that, in conjunction with
your present predilection for the easy life of a bachelor, it may
possibly prove the means of causing our ancient genealogical tree,
which has its roots, if I may so speak, in the foundations of the
world, to terminate suddenly in a point: unless you feel yourself
moved by my exhortations to follow the example of all your ancestors,
by choosing yourself a fitting and suitable helpmate to immortalize
the pedigree of Headlong Ap-Rhaiader."
"Egad!" said Squire Headlong, "that is very true, I'll marry directly.
A good opportunity to fix on some one, now they are all here; and I'll
pop the question without further ceremony."
"What think you," said the old lady, "of Miss Nanny Glen-Du, the
lineal descendant of Llewelyn Ap-Yorwerth?"
"She won't do," said Squire Headlong.
"What say you, then," said the lady, "to Miss Williams, of
Pontyglasrhydyrallt, the descendant of the ancient family of----?"
"I don't like her," said Squire Headlong; "and as to her ancient
family, that is a matter of no consequence. I have antiquity enough
for two. They are all moderns, people of yesterday, in comparison with
us. What signify six or seven centuries, which are the most they can
"Why, to be sure," said the aunt, "on that view of the question,
it is no consequence. What think you, then, of Miss Owen, of
Nidd-y-Gygfraen? She will have six thousand a year."
"I would not have her," said Squire Headlong, "if she had fifty. I'll
think of somebody presently. I should like to be married on the same
day with Caprioletta."
"Caprioletta!" said Miss Brindle-mew; "without my being consulted."
"Consulted!" said the squire: "I was commissioned to tell you, but
somehow or other I let it slip. However, she is going to be married to
my friend Mr Foster, the philosopher."
"Oh!" said the maiden aunt, "that a daughter of our ancient
family should marry a philosopher! It is enough to make the bones of
all the Ap-Rhaiaders turn in their graves!"
"I happen to be more enlightened," said Squire Headlong, "than
any of my ancestors were. Besides, it is Caprioletta's affair, not
mine. I tell you, the matter is settled, fixed, determined; and so am
I, to be married on the same day. I don't know, now I think of it,
whom I can choose better than one of the daughters of my friend
"A Saxon!" said the aunt, turning up her nose, and was commencing a
vehement remonstrance; but the squire, exclaiming "Music has charms!"
flew over to Mr Chromatic, and, with a hearty slap on the shoulder,
asked him "how he should like him for a son-in-law?" Mr Chromatic,
rubbing his shoulder, and highly delighted with the proposal,
answered, "Very much indeed:" but, proceeding to ascertain which of
his daughters had captivated the squire, the squire demurred, and was
unable to satisfy his curiosity. "I hope," said Mr Chromatic, "it may
be Tenorina; for I imagine Graziosa has conceived a _penchant_ for Sir
Patrick O'Prism."--"Tenorina, exactly," said Squire Headlong; and
became so impatient to bring the matter to a conclusion, that Mr
Chromatic undertook to communicate with his daughter immediately. The
young lady proved to be as ready as the squire, and the preliminaries
were arranged in little more than five minutes.
Mr Chromatic's words, that he imagined his daughter Graziosa had
conceived a _penchant_ for Sir Patrick O'Prism, were not lost on the
squire, who at once determined to have as many companions in the
scrape as possible, and who, as soon as he could tear himself from Mrs
Headlong elect, took three flying bounds across the room to the
baronet, and said, "So, Sir Patrick, I find you and I are going to be
"Are we?" said Sir Patrick: "then sure won't I wish you joy, and
myself too? for this is the first I have heard of it."
"Well," said Squire Headlong, "I have made up my mind to it, and you
must not disappoint me."
"To be sure I won't, if I can help it," said Sir Patrick; "and I am
very much obliged to you for taking so much trouble off my hands. And
pray, now, who is it that I am to be metamorphosing into Lady
"Miss Graziosa Chromatic," said the squire.
"Och violet and vermilion!" said Sir Patrick; "though I never thought
of it before, I dare say she will suit me as well as another: but then
you must persuade the ould Orpheus to draw out a few _notes_ of rather
a more magical description than those he is so fond of scraping on his
"To be sure he shall," said the squire; and, immediately returning to
Mr Chromatic, concluded the negotiation for Sir Patrick as
expeditiously as he had done for himself.
The squire next addressed himself to Mr Escot: "Here are three couple
of us going to throw off together, with the Reverend Doctor Gaster for
whipper-in: now, I think you cannot do better than make the fourth
with Miss Cephalis; and then, as my father-in-law that is to be would
say, we shall compose a very harmonious octave."
"Indeed," said Mr Escot, "nothing would be more agreeable to both of
us than such an arrangement: but the old gentleman, since I first knew
him, has changed, like the rest of the world, very lamentably for the
worse: now, we wish to bring him to reason, if possible, though we
mean to dispense with his consent, if he should prove much longer
"I'll settle him," said Squire Headlong; and immediately posted up to
Mr Cranium, informing him that four marriages were about to take place
by way of a merry winding up of the Christmas festivities.
"Indeed!" said Mr Cranium; "and who are the parties?"
"In the first place," said the squire, "my sister and Mr Foster: in
the second, Miss Graziosa Chromatic and Sir Patrick O'Prism: in the
third, Miss Tenorina Chromatic and your humble servant: and in the
fourth to which, by the by, your consent is wanted----"
"Oho!" said Mr Cranium.
"Your daughter," said Squire Headlong.
"And Mr Panscope?" said Mr Cranium.
"And Mr Escot," said Squire Headlong. "What would you have better? He
has ten thousand virtues."
"So has Mr Panscope," said Mr Cranium; "he has ten thousand a year."
"Virtues?" said Squire Headlong.
"Pounds," said Mr Cranium.
"I have set my mind on Mr Escot," said the squire.
"I am much obliged to you," said Mr Cranium, "for dethroning me from
my paternal authority."
"Who fished you out of the water?" said Squire Headlong.
"What is that to the purpose?" said Mr Cranium. "The whole
process of the action was mechanical and necessary. The application of
the poker necessitated the ignition of the powder: the ignition
necessitated the explosion: the explosion necessitated my sudden
fright, which necessitated my sudden jump, which, from a necessity
equally powerful, was in a curvilinear ascent: the descent, being in a
corresponding curve, and commencing at a point perpendicular to the
extreme line of the edge of the tower, I was, by the necessity of
gravitation, attracted, first, through the ivy, and secondly through
the hazel, and thirdly through the ash, into the water beneath. The
motive or impulse thus adhibited in the person of a drowning man, was
as powerful on his material compages as the force of gravitation on
mine; and he could no more help jumping into the water than I could
help falling into it."
"All perfectly true," said Squire Headlong; "and, on the same
principle, you make no distinction between the man who knocks you down
and him who picks you up."
"I make this distinction," said Mr Cranium, "that I avoid the former
as a machine containing a peculiar _cataballitive_ quality, which I
have found to be not consentaneous to my mode of pleasurable
existence; but I attach no moral merit or demerit to either of them,
as these terms are usually employed, seeing that they are equally
creatures of necessity, and must act as they do from the nature of
their organisation. I no more blame or praise a man for what is called
vice or virtue, than I tax a tuft of hemlock with malevolence, or
discover great philanthropy in a field of potatoes, seeing that the
men and the plants are equally incapacitated, by their original
internal organisation, and the combinations and modifications of
external circumstances, from being any thing but what they are. _Quod
victus fateare necesse est_."
"Yet you destroy the hemlock," said Squire Headlong, "and cultivate
the potato; that is my way, at least."
"I do," said Mr Cranium; "because I know that the farinaceous
qualities of the potato will tend to preserve the great requisites of
unity and coalescence in the various constituent portions of my animal
republic; and that the hemlock, if gathered by mistake for parsley,
chopped up small with butter, and eaten with a boiled chicken, would
necessitate a great derangement, and perhaps a total decomposition, of
my corporeal mechanism."
"Very well," said the squire; "then you are necessitated to like Mr
Escot better than Mr Panscope?"
"That is a _non sequitur_," said Mr Cranium.
"Then this is a _sequitur_," said the squire: "your daughter and Mr
Escot are necessitated to love one another; and, unless you feel
necessitated to adhibit your consent, they will feel necessitated to
dispense with it; since it does appear to moral and political
economists to be essentially inherent in the eternal fitness of
Mr Cranium fell into a profound reverie: emerging from which, he said,
looking Squire Headlong full in the face, "Do you think Mr Escot would
give me that skull?"
"Skull!" said Squire Headlong.
"Yes," said Mr Cranium, "the skull of Cadwallader."
"To be sure he will," said the squire.
"Ascertain the point," said Mr Cranium.
"How can you doubt it?" said the squire.
"I simply know," said Mr Cranium, "that if it were once in my
possession, I would not part with it for any acquisition on earth,
much less for a wife. I have had one: and, as marriage has been
compared to a pill, I can very safely assert that _one is a dose_; and
my reason for thinking that he will not part with it is, that its
extraordinary magnitude tends to support his system, as much as its
very marked protuberances tend to support mine; and you know his own
system is of all things the dearest to every man of liberal thinking
and a philosophical tendency."
The Squire flew over to Mr Escot. "I told you," said he, "I would
settle him: but there is a very hard condition attached to his
"I submit to it," said Mr Escot, "be it what it may."
"Nothing less," said Squire Headlong, "than the absolute and
unconditional surrender of the skull of Cadwallader."
"I resign it," said Mr Escot.
"The skull is yours," said the squire, skipping over to Mr Cranium.
"I am perfectly satisfied," said Mr Cranium.
"The lady is yours," said the squire, skipping back to Mr Escot.
"I am the happiest man alive," said Mr Escot.
"Come," said the squire, "then there is an amelioration in the state
of the sensitive man."
"A slight oscillation of good in the instance of a solitary
individual," answered Mr Escot, "by no means affects the solidity of
my opinions concerning the general deterioration of the civilised
world; which when I can be induced to contemplate with feelings of
satisfaction, I doubt not but that I may be persuaded _to be in love
with tortures, and to think charitably of the rack_[14.1]."
Saying these words, he flew off as nimbly as Squire Headlong himself,
to impart the happy intelligence to his beautiful Cephalis.
Mr Cranium now walked up to Mr Panscope, to condole with him on the
disappointment of their mutual hopes. Mr Panscope begged him not to
distress himself on the subject, observing, that the monotonous system
of female education brought every individual of the sex to so
remarkable an approximation of similarity, that no wise man would
suffer himself to be annoyed by a loss so easily repaired; and that
there was much truth, though not much elegance, in a remark which he
had heard made on a similar occasion by a post-captain of his
acquaintance, "that there never was a fish taken out of the sea, but
left another as good behind."
Mr Cranium replied that no two individuals having all the organs of
the skull similarly developed, the universal resemblance of which Mr
Panscope had spoken could not possibly exist. Mr Panscope rejoined;
and a long discussion ensued, concerning the comparative influence of
natural organisation and artificial education, in which the beautiful
Cephalis was totally lost sight of, and which ended, as most
controversies do, by each party continuing firm in his own opinion,
and professing his profound astonishment at the blindness and
prejudices of the other.
In the meanwhile, a great confusion had arisen at the outer doors, the
departure of the ball-visitors being impeded by a circumstance which
the experience of ages had discovered no means to obviate. The grooms,
coachmen, and postillions, were all drunk. It was proposed that the
gentlemen should officiate in their places: but the gentlemen were
almost all in the same condition. This was a fearful dilemma: but a
very diligent investigation brought to light a few servants and a few
gentlemen not above _half-seas-over_; and by an equitable distribution
of these rarities, the greater part of the guests were enabled to set
forward, with very nearly an even chance of not having their necks
broken before they reached home.
The squire and his select party of philosophers and dilettanti were
again left in peaceful possession of Headlong Hall: and, as the former
made a point of never losing a moment in the accomplishment of a
favourite object, he did not suffer many days to elapse, before the
spiritual metamorphosis of eight into four was effected by the
clerical dexterity of the Reverend Doctor Gaster.
Immediately after the ceremony, the whole party dispersed, the squire
having first extracted from every one of his chosen guests a positive
promise to re-assemble in August, when they would be better enabled,
in its most appropriate season, to form a correct judgment of Cambrian
Mr Jenkison shook hands at parting with his two brother philosophers.
"According to your respective systems," said he, "I ought to
congratulate _you_ on a change for the better, which I do most
cordially: and to condole with _you_ on a change for the worse,
though, when I consider whom you have chosen, I should violate every
principle of probability in doing so."
"You will do well," said Mr Foster, "to follow our example. The
extensive circle of general philanthropy, which, in the present
advanced stage of human nature, comprehends in its circumference the
destinies of the whole species, originated, and still proceeds, from
that narrower circle of domestic affection, which first set limits to
the empire of selfishness, and, by purifying the passions and
enlarging the affections of mankind, has given to the views of
benevolence an increasing and illimitable expansion, which will
finally diffuse happiness and peace over the whole surface of the
"The affection," said Mr Escot, "of two congenial spirits, united not
by legal bondage and superstitious imposture, but by mutual confidence
and reciprocal virtues, is the only counterbalancing consolation in
this scene of mischief and misery. But how rarely is this the case
according to the present system of marriage! So far from being a
central point of expansion to the great circle of universal
benevolence, it serves only to concentrate the feelings of natural
sympathy in the reflected selfishness of family interest, and to
substitute for the _humani nihil alienum puto_ of youthful
philanthropy, the _charity begins at home_ of maturer years. And what
accession of individual happiness is acquired by this oblivion of the
general good? Luxury, despotism, and avarice have so seized and
entangled nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand of the
human race, that the matrimonial compact, which ought to be the most
easy, the most free, and the most simple of all engagements, is become
the most slavish and complicated,--a mere question of finance,--a
system of bargain, and barter, and commerce, and trick, and chicanery,
and dissimulation, and fraud. Is there one instance in ten thousand,
in which the buds of first affection are not most cruelly and
hopelessly blasted, by avarice, or ambition, or arbitrary power?
Females, condemned during the whole flower of their youth to a worse
than monastic celibacy, irrevocably debarred from the hope to which
their first affections pointed, will, at a certain period of life, as
the natural delicacy of taste and feeling is gradually worn away by
the attrition of society, become willing to take up with any coxcomb
or scoundrel, whom that merciless and mercenary gang of cold-blooded
slaves and assassins, called, in the ordinary prostitution of language
_friends_, may agree in designating as a _prudent choice_. Young men,
on the other hand, are driven by the same vile superstitions from the
company of the most amiable and modest of the opposite sex, to that of
those miserable victims and outcasts of a world which dares to call
itself virtuous, whom that very society whose pernicious institutions
first caused their aberrations,--consigning them, without one tear of
pity or one struggle of remorse, to penury, infamy, and
disease,--condemns to bear the burden of its own atrocious
absurdities! Thus, the youth of one sex is consumed in slavery,
disappointment, and spleen; that of the other, in frantic folly and
selfish intemperance: till at length, on the necks of a couple so
enfeebled, so perverted, so distempered both in body and soul, society
throws the yoke of marriage: that yoke which, once rivetted on the
necks of its victims, clings to them like the poisoned garments of
Nessus or Medea. What can be expected from these ill-assorted
yoke-fellows, but that, like two ill-tempered hounds, coupled by a
tyrannical sportsman, they should drag on their indissoluble fetter,
snarling and growling, and pulling in different directions? What can
be expected for their wretched offspring, but sickness and suffering,
premature decrepitude, and untimely death? In this, as in every other
institution of civilised society, avarice, luxury, and disease
constitute the TRIANGULAR HARMONY of the life of man. Avarice conducts
him to the abyss of toil and crime: luxury seizes on his ill-gotten
spoil; and, while he revels in her enchantments, or groans beneath her
tyranny, disease bursts upon him, and sweeps him from the earth."
"Your theory," said Mr Jenkison, "forms an admirable counterpoise to
your example. As far as I am attracted by the one, I am repelled by
the other. Thus, the scales of my philosophical balance remain
eternally equiponderant, and I see no reason to say of either of them,
OICHETAI EIS AIDAO[15.1]."
[1.1] Foster, quasi _Phostaer_,--from _phaos_ and _taereo_, lucem
servo, conservo, observo, custodio,--one who watches over and guards
the light; a sense in which the word is often used amongst us, when we
speak of _fostering_ a flame.
[1.2] Escot, quasi _es skoton_, _in tenebras_, scilicet, intuens; one
who is always looking into the dark side of the question.
[1.3] Jenkison: This name may be derived from _aien ex ison_, _semper
ex aequalibus_--scilicet, mensuris omnia metiens: one who from equal
measures divides and distributes all things: one who from equal
measures can always produce arguments on both sides of a question,
with so much nicety and exactness, as to keep the said question
eternally pending, and the balance of the controversy perpetually in
statu quo. By an aphaeresis of the _a_, an elision of the second _e_,
and an easy and natural mutation of _x_ into _k_, the derivation of
this name proceeds according to the strictest principles of
etymology: _aien ex ison--Ien ex ison--Ien ek ison--Ien 'k
[1.4] Gaster: scilicet _Gastaer_--Venter, et praeterea nihil.
[2.1] See Emmerton on the Auricula.
[3.1] Mr Knight, in a note to the Landscape, having taken the liberty
of laughing at a notable device of a celebrated _improver_, for giving
greatness of character to a place, and showing an undivided extent of
property, by placing the family arms on the neighbouring _milestones_,
the improver retorted on him with a charge of misquotation,
misrepresentation, and malice prepense. Mr Knight, in the preface to
the second edition of his poem, quotes the improver's words:--"The
market-house, or other public edifice, or even a _mere stone with
distances_, may bear the arms of the family:" and adds:--"By a _mere
stone with distances_, the author of the Landscape certainly thought
he meant a _milestone_; but, if he did not, any other interpretation
which he may think more advantageous to himself shall readily be
adopted, as it will equally answer the purpose of the quotation." The
improver, however, did not condescend to explain what he really meant
by a _mere stone with distances_, though he strenuously maintained
that he did _not_ mean a _milestone._ His idea, therefore, stands on
record, invested with all the sublimity that obscurity can confer.
[3.2] "Il est constant qu'elles se baisent de meilleur coeur, et se
caressent avec plus de grace devant les hommes, fieres d'aiguiser
impunement leur convoitise par l'image des faveurs qu'elles savent
leur faire envier."--Rousseau, _Emile_, liv. 5.
[4.1] See Price on the Picturesque.
[4.2] See Knight on Taste, and the Edinburgh Review, No. XIV.
[4.3] Protracted banquets have been copious sources of evil.
[5.1] See Lord Monboddo's Ancient Metaphysics.
[5.2] Drummond's Academical Questions.
[5.3] Homer is proved to have been a lover of wine by the praises he
bestows upon it.
[5.4] A cup of wine at hand, to drink as inclination prompts.
[6.1] See Knight on Taste.
[6.2] This stanza is imitated from Machiavelli's _Capitolo dell'
[7.1] Fragments of a demolished world.
[7.2] Took's Diversions of Purley.
[8.1] Some readers will, perhaps, recollect the Archbishop of Prague,
who also was an excellent sportsman, and who,
Com' era scritto in certi suoi giornali,
Ucciso avea con le sue proprie mani
Un numero infinito d'animali:
Cinquemila con quindici fagiani,
Seimila lepri, ottantantre cignali,
E per disgrazia, ancor _tredici cani_, &c.
[9.1] Me miserable! and thrice miserable! and four times, and five
times, and twelve times, and ten thousand times miserable!
[9.2] Pronounced cooroo--the Welsh word for _ale._
[10.1] Long since dead.
[10.2] Georg. I. 199.
[10.3] Sat. XIII. 28.
[10.4] Carm. III. 6, 46.
[11.1] Pistyll, in Welch, signifies a cataract, and Rhaidr a cascade.
[13.1] Rousseau, Discours sur les Sciences.
[13.2] Imitated from a passage in the Purgatorio of Dante.
[14.1] Jeremy Taylor.
[15.1] _It descends to the shades_: or, in other words, _it goes to
Form: printed book
Title: Headlong Hall
Author: Thomas Love Peacock
Publisher: J. M. Dent & Co. at Aldine House, 69 Great Eastern
Editor: Richard Garnett, LLD.
Printer: Turnbull and Spears, Printers, Edinburgh.
Description: tan cloth over board binding, 122mm x 184mm x 21mm,
176 pages plus 2 at front and 1 at back
Chapter head and foot decorations have been deleted -- to simplify
production to purely text.
Decorative chapter-start drop-caps have been replaced with capitals
-- to simplify production to purely text.
Page numbers and headers have been deleted -- the new document is
Fullstops have been deleted from chapter titles and song titles --
they are superfluous.
All notes have been moved to the end of the document -- to suit the
All notes by the editor Richard Garnett have been deleted -- to remove
(insubstantial) attachments to the original text.
Chapter 1 paragraph 7: inserted closing quotes after "perpetually in
statu quo." -- they appear to be missing, since the speech is not
continued in the next paragraph.
Chapter 1 paragraph 8: deleted fullstop after "astronomy----" -- the
sentence is truncated, it does not end.
Chapter 1 paragraph 9: deleted fullstop after "selfishness----" -- the
sentence is truncated, it does not end.
Chapter 1 paragraph 10: deleted fullstop after "cloth----" -- the
sentence is truncated, it does not end.
Chapter 1 paragraph 11: inserted a comma after "sprained ankle" --
there is a small comma-sized gap at the end of the line where a comma
appears to have been omitted.
Chapter 2 paragraph 1: deleted comma after "oils" in "oils, and
colours" -- "and" clusters things in an item, not separates items, in
Chapter 4 paragraph 13: inserted closing quotes after "summit of
Ararat." -- they appear to be missing, since the speech is not
continued in the next paragraph.
Chapter 5 paragraph 33: replaced emdash before "Exactly, sir: an' ye"
with fullstop and space -- it appears to be an erroneous
inconsistency, there being no other like instances in speech
Chapter 7 paragraph 5: deleted closing quotes after "confracti mundi
rudera:" -- the phrase is not quoted, and the speech does not end
Chapter 7 paragraph 6: replaced "procession" with "precession" in "The
procession of the equinoxes" -- it appears to be a spelling error,
since Mr Foster is informed on the subject and not tending to make
Chapter 7 paragraph 17: inserted "_Mr Escot._" at start of paragraph
before "Nor is" -- to follow consistent indication and layout of
Chapter 8 paragraph 1: replaced "befel" with "befell" -- it appears to
be a spelling error.
Chapter 9 paragraph 16: replaced fullstop with questionmark after "the
tevil with" -- the sentence is a question.
Chapter 9 paragraph 22: replaced fullstop with questionmark after
"away with me" -- the sentence is a question.
Chapter 9 paragraph 23: replaced "b" with "p" in "by his chost" -- the
sexton in all other cases says "py" instead of "by".
Chapter 10 paragraph 6: inserted single closing quote after "_Oioi nun
brotoi eisin_" -- it appears to be missing.
Chapter 11 paragraph 3: replaced "y" in "Vouley" with "z" -- it
appears to be a spelling error.
Chapter 12 paragraph 1: replaced "wolves" in "individual lion, tiger,
wolves," with "wolf" -- it is a list of singulars.
Chapter 12 paragraph 9: inserted paragraph start and opening quotes
before "You observe, in both these skulls" -- blockquotes cannot be
inside paragraphs in the layout scheme.
Chapter 12 paragraph 13: inserted closing quotes after "becoming a
judge." -- they appear to be missing, since the speech is not
continued in the next paragraph.
Chapter 13 paragraph 17: replaced "woful" with "woeful" in "by woful
experience" -- it appears to be a spelling error.
Chapter 13 ballad: replaced "feats" with "feasts" in "O rich are the
feats" -- it appears to be a spelling error.
Chapter 14 paragraph 3: replaced fullstop with questionmark after
"Llewelyn Ap-Yorwerth" -- the sentence is a question.
Chapter 14 paragraph 5: inserted comma after "said the lady" -- one
would be expected here.
Chapter 14 paragraph 27: capitalised "Squire" in ""Your daughter,"
said squire Headlong." -- all other instances of "Squire Headlong" are