Part 9 out of 13
myself the mysteries of my new profession. I cannot say that I was
very successful, but the time passed agreeably, and was therefore
not ill spent. Towards evening I flung my work aside, took some
refreshment, and afterwards a walk.
This time I turned up the small footpath of which I have already
spoken. It led in a zigzag manner through thickets of hazel,
elder, and sweet-brier; after following its windings for somewhat
better than a furlong, I heard a gentle sound of water, and
presently came to a small rill, which ran directly across the path.
I was rejoiced at the sight, for I had already experienced the want
of water, which I yet knew must be nigh at hand, as I was in a
place to all appearance occasionally frequented by wandering
people, who I was aware never take up their quarters in places
where water is difficult to be obtained. Forthwith I stretched
myself on the ground, and took a long and delicious draught of the
crystal stream, and then, seating myself in a bush, I continued for
some time gazing on the water as it purled tinkling away in its
channel through an opening in the hazels, and should have probably
continued much longer had not the thought that I had left my
property unprotected compelled me to rise and return to my
Night came on, and a beautiful night it was; up rose the moon, and
innumerable stars decked the firmament of heaven. I sat on the
shaft, my eyes turned upwards. I had found it: there it was
twinkling millions of miles above me, mightiest star of the system
to which we belong: of all stars the one which has most interest
for me--the star Jupiter.
Why have I always taken an interest in thee, O Jupiter? I know
nothing about thee, save what every child knows, that thou art a
big star, whose only light is derived from moons. And is not that
knowledge enough to make me feel an interest in thee? Ay, truly; I
never look at thee without wondering what is going on in thee; what
is life in Jupiter? That there is life in Jupiter who can doubt?
There is life in our own little star, therefore there must be life
in Jupiter, which is not a little star. But how different must
life be in Jupiter from what it is in our own little star! Life
here is life beneath the dear sun--life in Jupiter is life beneath
moons--four moons--no single moon is able to illumine that vast
bulk. All know what life is in our own little star; it is anything
but a routine of happiness here, where the dear sun rises to us
every day: then how sad and moping must life be in mighty Jupiter,
on which no sun ever shines, and which is never lighted save by
pale moonbeams! The thought that there is more sadness and
melancholy in Jupiter than in this world of ours, where, alas!
there is but too much, has always made me take a melancholy
interest in that huge distant star.
Two or three days passed by in much the same manner as the first.
During the morning I worked upon my kettles, and employed the
remaining part of the day as I best could. The whole of this time
I only saw two individuals, rustics, who passed by my encampment
without vouchsafing me a glance; they probably considered
themselves my superiors, as perhaps they were.
One very brilliant morning, as I sat at work in very good spirits,
for by this time I had actually mended in a very creditable way, as
I imagined, two kettles and a frying-pan, I heard a voice which
seemed to proceed from the path leading to the rivulet; at first it
sounded from a considerable distance, but drew nearer by degrees.
I soon remarked that the tones were exceedingly sharp and shrill,
with yet something of childhood in them. Once or twice I
distinguished certain words in the song which the voice was
singing; the words were--but no, I thought again I was probably
mistaken--and then the voice ceased for a time; presently I heard
it again, close to the entrance of the footpath; in another moment
I heard it in the lane or glade in which stood my tent, where it
abruptly stopped, but not before I had heard the very words which I
at first thought I had distinguished.
I turned my head; at the entrance of the footpath, which might be
about thirty yards from the place where I was sitting, I perceived
the figure of a young girl; her face was turned towards me, and she
appeared to be scanning me and my encampment; after a little time
she looked in the other direction, only for a moment, however;
probably observing nothing in that quarter, she again looked
towards me, and almost immediately stepped forward; and, as she
advanced, sang the song which I had heard in the wood, the first
words of which were those which I have already alluded to.
'The Rommany chi
And the Rommany chal
Shall jaw tasaulor
To drab the bawlor,
And dook the gry
Of the farming rye.'
A very pretty song, thought I, falling again hard to work upon my
kettle; a very pretty song, which bodes the farmers much good. Let
them look to their cattle.
'All alone here, brother?' said a voice close by me, in sharp but
not disagreeable tones.
I made no answer, but continued my work, click, click, with the
gravity which became one of my profession. I allowed at least half
a minute to elapse before I even lifted up my eyes.
A girl of about thirteen was standing before me; her features were
very pretty, but with a peculiar expression; her complexion was a
clear olive, and her jet black hair hung back upon her shoulders.
She was rather scantily dressed, and her arms and feet were bare;
round her neck, however, was a handsome string of corals, with
ornaments of gold; in her hand she held a bulrush.
'All alone here, brother?' said the girl, as I looked up; 'all
alone here, in the lane; where are your wife and children?'
'Why do you call me brother?' said I; 'am no brother of yours. Do
you take me for one of your people? I am no gypsy; not I, indeed!'
'Don't be afraid, brother, you are no Roman--Roman indeed, you are
not handsome enough to be a Roman; not black enough, tinker though
you be. If I called you brother, it was because I didn't know what
else to call you. Marry, come up, brother, I should be sorry to
have you for a brother.'
'Then you don't like me?'
'Neither like you nor dislike you, brother; what will you have for
'What's the use of talking to me in that unchristian way; what do
you mean, young gentlewoman?'
'Lord, brother, what a fool you are; every tinker knows what a
kekaubi is. I was asking you what you would have for that kettle.'
'Three-and-sixpence, young gentlewoman; isn't it well mended?'
'Well mended! I could have done it better myself; three-and-
sixpence! it's only fit to be played at football with.'
'I will take no less for it, young gentlewoman; it has caused me a
world of trouble.'
'I never saw a worse mended kettle. I say, brother, your hair is
''Tis nature; your hair is black; nature, nothing but nature.'
'I am young, brother; my hair is black--that's nature: you are
young, brother; your hair is white--that's not nature.'
'I can't help it if it be not, but it is nature after all; did you
never see gray hair on the young?'
'Never! I have heard it is true of a gray lad, and a bad one he
was. Oh, so bad.'
'Sit down on the grass, and tell me all about it, sister; do, to
oblige me, pretty sister.'
'Hey, brother, you don't speak as you did--you don't speak like a
gorgio, you speak like one of us, you call me sister.'
'As you call me brother; I am not an uncivil person after all,
'I say, brother, tell me one thing, and look me in the face--there-
-do you speak Rommany?'
'Rommany! Rommany! what is Rommany?'
'What is Rommany? our language to be sure; tell me, brother, only
one thing, you don't speak Rommany?'
'You say it.'
'I don't say it, I wish to know. Do you speak Rommany?'
'Do you mean thieves' slang--cant? no, I don't speak cant, don't
like it, I only know a few words; they call a sixpence a tanner,
'I don't know,' said the girl, sitting down on the ground, 'I was
almost thinking--well, never mind, you don't know Rommany. I say,
brother, I think I should like to have the kekaubi.'
'I thought you said it was badly mended?'
'Yes, yes, brother, but--'
'I thought you said it was only fit to be played at football with?'
'Yes, yes, brother, but--'
'What will you give for it?'
'Brother, I am the poor person's child, I will give you sixpence
for the kekaubi.'
'Poor person's child; how came you by that necklace?'
'Be civil, brother; am I to have the kekaubi?'
'Not for sixpence; isn't the kettle nicely mended?'
'I never saw a nicer mended kettle, brother; am I to have the
'You like me then?'
'I don't dislike you--I dislike no one; there's only one, and him I
don't dislike, him I hate.'
'Who is he?'
'I scarcely know, I never saw him, but 'tis no affair of yours, you
don't speak Rommany; you will let me have the kekaubi, pretty
'You may have it, but not for sixpence; I'll give it to you.'
'Parraco tute, that is, I thank you, brother; the rikkeni kekaubi
is now mine. O, rare! I thank you kindly, brother.'
Starting up, she flung the bulrush aside which she had hitherto
held in her hand, and, seizing the kettle, she looked at it for a
moment, and then began a kind of dance, flourishing the kettle over
her head the while, and singing -
'The Rommany chi
And the Rommany chal
Shall jaw tasaulor
To drab the bawlor,
And dook the gry
Of the farming rye.
Good-bye, brother, I must be going.'
'Good-bye, sister; why do you sing that wicked song?'
'Wicked song, hey, brother! you don't understand the song!'
'Ha, ha! gypsy daughter,' said I, starting up and clapping my
hands, 'I don't understand Rommany, don't I? You shall see; here's
the answer to your gillie -
'The Rommany chi
And the Rommany chal,
And every pen
The girl, who had given a slight start when I began, remained for
some time after I had concluded the song standing motionless as a
statue, with the kettle in her hand. At length she came towards
me, and stared me full in the face. 'Gray, tall, and talks
Rommany,' said she to herself. In her countenance there was an
expression which I had not seen before--an expression which struck
me as being composed of fear, curiosity, and the deepest hate. It
was momentary, however, and was succeeded by one smiling, frank,
and open. 'Ha, ha, brother,' said she, 'well, I like you all the
better for talking Rommany; it is a sweet language, isn't it?
especially as you sing it. How did you pick it up? But you picked
it up upon the roads, no doubt? Ha, it was funny in you to pretend
not to know it, and you so flush with it all the time; it was not
kind in you, however, to frighten the poor person's child so by
screaming out, but it was kind in you to give the rikkeni kekaubi
to the child of the poor person. She will be grateful to you; she
will bring you her little dog to show you, her pretty juggal; the
poor person's child will come and see you again; you are not going
away to-day, I hope, or to-morrow, pretty brother, gray-haired
brother--you are not going away to-morrow, I hope?'
'Nor the next day,' said I, 'only to take a stroll to see if I can
sell a kettle; good-bye, little sister, Rommany sister, dingy
'Good-bye, tall brother,' said the girl, as she departed, singing
'The Rommany chi,' etc.
'There's something about that girl that I don't understand,' said I
to myself; 'something mysterious. However, it is nothing to me,
she knows not who I am, and if she did, what then?'
Late that evening as I sat on the shaft of my cart in deep
meditation, with my arms folded, I thought I heard a rustling in
the bushes over against me. I turned my eyes in that direction,
but saw nothing. 'Some bird,' said I; 'an owl, perhaps'; and once
more I fell into meditation; my mind wandered from one thing to
another--musing now on the structure of the Roman tongue--now on
the rise and fall of the Persian power--and now on the powers
vested in recorders at quarter-sessions. I was thinking what a
fine thing it must be to be a recorder of the peace, when, lifting
up my eyes, I saw right opposite, not a culprit at the bar, but,
staring at me through a gap in the bush, a face wild and strange,
half covered with gray hair; I only saw it a moment, the next it
Friend of Slingsby--All quiet--Danger--The two cakes--Children in
the wood--Don't be angry--In deep thought--Temples throbbing--
Deadly sick--Another blow--No answer--How old are you?--Play and
sacrament--Heavy heart--Song of poison--Drow of gypsies--The dog--
Ely's church--Get up, bebee--The vehicle--Can you speak?--The oil.
The next day, at an early hour, I harnessed my little pony, and,
putting my things in my cart, I went on my projected stroll.
Crossing the moor, I arrived in about an hour at a small village,
from which, after a short stay, I proceeded to another, and from
thence to a third. I found that the name of Slingsby was well
known in these parts.
'If you are a friend of Slingsby you must be an honest lad,' said
an ancient crone; 'you shall never want for work whilst I can give
it you. Here, take my kettle, the bottom came out this morning,
and lend me that of yours till you bring it back. I'm not afraid
to trust you--not I. Don't hurry yourself, young man, if you don't
come back for a fortnight I shan't have the worse opinion of you.'
I returned to my quarters at evening, tired, but rejoiced at heart;
I had work before me for several days, having collected various
kekaubies which required mending, in place of those which I left
behind--those which I had been employed upon during the last few
days. I found all quiet in the lane or glade, and, unharnessing my
little horse, I once more pitched my tent in the old spot beneath
the ash, lighted my fire, ate my frugal meal, and then, after
looking for some time at the heavenly bodies, and more particularly
at the star Jupiter, I entered my tent, lay down upon my pallet,
and went to sleep.
Nothing occurred on the following day which requires any particular
notice, nor indeed on the one succeeding that. It was about noon
on the third day that I sat beneath the shade of the ash tree; I
was not at work, for the weather was particularly hot, and I felt
but little inclination to make any exertion. Leaning my back
against the tree, I was not long in falling into a slumber; I
particularly remember that slumber of mine beneath the ash tree,
for it was about the sweetest slumber that I ever enjoyed; how long
I continued in it I do not know; I could almost have wished that it
had lasted to the present time. All of a sudden it appeared to me
that a voice cried in my ear, 'Danger! danger! danger!' Nothing
seemingly could be more distinct than the words which I heard; then
an uneasy sensation came over me, which I strove to get rid of, and
at last succeeded, for I awoke. The gypsy girl was standing just
opposite to me, with her eyes fixed upon my countenance; a singular
kind of little dog stood beside her.
'Ha!' said I, 'was it you that cried danger? What danger is
'Danger, brother, there is no danger; what danger should there be?
I called to my little dog, but that was in the wood; my little
dog's name is not danger, but Stranger; what danger should there
'What, indeed, except in sleeping beneath a tree; what is that you
have got in your hand?'
'Something for you,' said the girl, sitting down and proceeding to
untie a white napkin; 'a pretty manricli, so sweet, so nice; when I
went home to my people I told my grandbebee how kind you had been
to the poor person's child, and when my grandbebee saw the kekaubi,
she said, "Hir mi devlis, it won't do for the poor people to be
ungrateful; by my God, I will bake a cake for the young harko
'But there are two cakes.'
'Yes, brother, two cakes, both for you; my grandbebee meant them
both for you--but list, brother, I will have one of them for
bringing them. I know you will give me one, pretty brother, gray-
haired brother--which shall I have, brother?'
In the napkin were two round cakes, seemingly made of rich and
costly compounds, and precisely similar in form, each weighing
about half a pound.
'Which shall I have, brother?' said the gypsy girl.
'Whichever you please.'
'No, brother, no, the cakes are yours, not mine. It is for you to
'Well, then, give me the one nearest you, and take the other.'
'Yes, brother, yes,' said the girl; and taking the cakes, she flung
them into the air two or three times, catching them as they fell,
and singing the while. 'Pretty brother, gray-haired brother--here,
brother,' said she, 'here is your cake, this other is mine.'
'Are you sure,' said I, taking the cake, 'that this is the one I
'Quite sure, brother; but if you like you can have mine; there's no
difference, however--shall I eat?'
'Yes, sister, eat.'
'See, brother, I do; now, brother, eat, pretty brother, gray-haired
'I am not hungry.'
'Not hungry! well, what then--what has being hungry to do with the
matter? It is my grandbebee's cake which was sent because you were
kind to the poor person's child; eat, brother, eat, and we shall be
like the children in the wood that the gorgios speak of.'
'The children in the wood had nothing to eat.'
'Yes, they had hips and haws; we have better. Eat, brother.'
'See, sister, I do,' and I ate a piece of the cake.
'Well, brother, how do you like it?' said the girl, looking fixedly
'It is very rich and sweet, and yet there is something strange
about it; I don't think I shall eat any more.'
'Fie, brother, fie, to find fault with the poor person's cake; see,
I have nearly eaten mine.'
'That's a pretty little dog.'
'Is it not, brother? that's my juggal, my little sister, as I call
'Come here, juggal,' said I to the animal.
'What do you want with my juggal?' said the girl.
'Only to give her a piece of cake,' said I, offering the dog a
piece which I had just broken off.
'What do you mean?' said the girl, snatching the dog away; 'my
grandbebee's cake is not for dogs.'
'Why, I just now saw you give the animal a piece of yours.'
'You lie, brother, you saw no such thing; but I see how it is, you
wish to affront the poor person's child. I shall go to my house.'
'Keep still, and don't be angry; see, I have eaten the piece which
I offered the dog. I meant no offence. It is a sweet cake after
'Isn't it, brother? I am glad you like it. Offence, brother, no
offence at all! I am so glad you like my grandbebee's cake, but
she will be wanting me at home. Eat one piece more of grandbebee's
cake, and I will go.'
'I am not hungry, I will put the rest by.'
'One piece more before I go, handsome brother, gray-haired
'I will not eat any more, I have already eaten more than I wished
to oblige you; if you must go, good-day to you.'
The girl rose upon her feet, looked hard at me, then at the
remainder of the cake which I held in my hand, and then at me
again, and then stood for a moment or two, as if in deep thought;
presently an air of satisfaction came over her countenance, she
smiled and said, 'Well, brother, well, do as you please, I merely
wished you to eat because you have been so kind to the poor
person's child. She loves you so, that she could have wished to
have seen you eat it all; good-bye, brother, I daresay when I am
gone you will eat some more of it, and if you don't, I daresay you
have eaten enough to--to--show your love for us. After all it was
a poor person's cake, a Rommany manricli, and all you gorgios are
somewhat gorgious. Farewell, brother, pretty brother, gray-haired
brother. Come, juggal.'
I remained under the ash tree seated on the grass for a minute or
two, and endeavoured to resume the occupation in which I had been
engaged before I fell asleep, but I felt no inclination for labour.
I then thought I would sleep again, and once more reclined against
the tree, and slumbered for some little time, but my sleep was more
agitated than before. Something appeared to bear heavy on my
breast, I struggled in my sleep, fell on the grass, and awoke; my
temples were throbbing, there was a burning in my eyes, and my
mouth felt parched; the oppression about the chest which I had felt
in my sleep still continued. 'I must shake off these feelings,'
said I, 'and get upon my legs.' I walked rapidly up and down upon
the green sward; at length, feeling my thirst increase, I directed
my steps down the narrow path to the spring which ran amidst the
bushes; arriving there, I knelt down and drank of the water, but on
lifting up my head I felt thirstier than before; again I drank, but
with the like result; I was about to drink for the third time, when
I felt a dreadful qualm which instantly robbed me of nearly all my
strength. What can be the matter with me? thought I; but I suppose
I have made myself ill by drinking cold water. I got up and made
the best of my way back to my tent; before I reached it the qualm
had seized me again, and I was deadly sick. I flung myself on my
pallet, qualm succeeded qualm, but in the intervals my mouth was
dry and burning, and I felt a frantic desire to drink, but no water
was at hand, and to reach the spring once more was impossible; the
qualms continued, deadly pains shot through my whole frame; I could
bear my agonies no longer, and I fell into a trance or swoon. How
long I continued therein I know not; on recovering, however, I felt
somewhat better, and attempted to lift my head off my couch; the
next moment, however, the qualms and pains returned, if possible,
with greater violence than before. I am dying, thought I, like a
dog, without any help; and then methought I heard a sound at a
distance like people singing, and then once more I relapsed into my
I revived just as a heavy blow sounded upon the canvas of the tent.
I started, but my condition did not permit me to rise; again the
same kind of blow sounded upon the canvas; I thought for a moment
of crying out and requesting assistance, but an inexplicable
something chained my tongue, and now I heard a whisper on the
outside of the tent. 'He does not move, bebee,' said a voice which
I knew. 'I should not wonder if it has done for him already;
however, strike again with your ran'; and then there was another
blow, after which another voice cried aloud in a strange tone, 'Is
the gentleman of the house asleep, or is he taking his dinner?' I
remained quite silent and motionless, and in another moment the
voice continued, 'What, no answer? what can the gentleman of the
house be about that he makes no answer? perhaps the gentleman of
the house may be darning his stockings?' Thereupon a face peered
into the door of the tent, at the farther extremity of which I was
stretched. It was that of a woman, but owing to the posture in
which she stood, with her back to the light, and partly owing to a
large straw bonnet, I could distinguish but very little of the
features of her countenance. I had, however, recognised her voice;
it was that of my old acquaintance, Mrs. Herne. 'Ho, ho, sir!'
said she, 'here you are. Come here, Leonora,' said she to the
gypsy girl, who pressed in at the other side of the door; 'here is
the gentleman, not asleep, but only stretched out after dinner.
Sit down on your ham, child, at the door, I shall do the same.
There--you have seen me before, sir, have you not?'
'The gentleman makes no answer, bebee; perhaps he does not know
'I have known him of old, Leonora,' said Mrs. Herne; 'and, to tell
you the truth, though I spoke to him just now, I expected no
'It's a way he has, bebee, I suppose?'
'Yes, child, it's a way he has.'
'Take off your bonnet, bebee, perhaps he cannot see your face.'
'I do not think that will be of much use, child; however, I will
take off my bonnet--there--and shake out my hair--there--you have
seen this hair before, sir, and this face--'
'No answer, bebee.'
'Though the one was not quite so gray, nor the other so wrinkled.'
'How came they so, bebee?'
'All along of this gorgio, child.'
'The gentleman in the house, you mean, bebee?'
'Yes, child, the gentleman in the house. God grant that I may
preserve my temper. Do you know, sir, my name? My name is Herne,
which signifies a hairy individual, though neither gray-haired nor
wrinkled. It is not the nature of the Hernes to be gray or
wrinkled, even when they are old, and I am not old.'
'How old are you, bebee?'
'Sixty-five years, child--an inconsiderable number. My mother was
a hundred and one--a considerable age--when she died, yet she had
not one gray hair, and not more than six wrinkles--an
'She had no griefs, bebee?'
'Plenty, child, but not like mine.'
'Not quite so hard to bear, bebee?'
'No, child; my head wanders when I think of them. After the death
of my husband, who came to his end untimeously, I went to live with
a daughter of mine, married out among certain Romans who walk about
the eastern counties, and with whom for some time I found a home
and pleasant society, for they lived right Romanly, which gave my
heart considerable satisfaction, who am a Roman born, and hope to
die so. When I say right Romanly, I mean that they kept to
themselves, and were not much given to blabbing about their private
matters in promiscuous company. Well, things went on in this way
for some time, when one day my son-in-law brings home a young
gorgio of singular and outrageous ugliness, and, without much
preamble, says to me and mine, "This is my pal, ain't he a beauty?
fall down and worship him." "Hold," said I, "I for one will never
consent to such foolishness."'
'That was right, bebee, I think I should have done the same.'
'I think you would, child; but what was the profit of it? The
whole party makes an almighty of this gorgio, lets him into their
ways, says prayers of his making, till things come to such a pass
that my own daughter says to me, "I shall buy myself a veil and
fan, and treat myself to a play and sacrament." "Don't," says I;
says she, "I should like for once in my life to be courtesied to as
a Christian gentlewoman."'
'Very foolish of her, bebee.'
'Wasn't it, child? Where was I? At the fan and sacrament; with a
heavy heart I put seven score miles between us, came back to the
hairy ones, and found them over-given to gorgious companions; said
I, "Foolish manners is catching; all this comes of that there
gorgio." Answers the child Leonora, "Take comfort, bebee; I hate
the gorgios as much as you do."'
'And I say so again, bebee, as much or more.'
'Time flows on, I engage in many matters, in most miscarry. Am
sent to prison; says I to myself, I am become foolish. Am turned
out of prison, and go back to the hairy ones, who receive me not
over courteously; says I, for their unkindness, and my own
foolishness, all the thanks to that gorgio. Answers to me the
child, "I wish I could set eyes upon him, bebee."'
'I did so, bebee; go on.'
'"How shall I know him, bebee?" says the child. "Young and gray,
tall, and speaks Romanly." Runs to me the child, and says, "I've
found him, bebee." "Where, child?" says I. "Come with me, bebee,"
says the child. "That's he," says I, as I looked at my gentleman
through the hedge.'
'Ha, ha! bebee, and here he lies, poisoned like a hog.'
'You have taken drows, sir,' said Mrs. Herne; 'do you hear, sir?
drows; tip him a stave, child, of the song of poison.'
And thereupon the girl clapped her hands, and sang -
'The Rommany churl
And the Rommany girl
To-morrow shall hie
To poison the sty,
And bewitch on the mead
The farmer's steed.'
'Do you hear that, sir?' said Mrs. Herne; 'the child has tipped you
a stave of the song of poison: that is, she has sung it
Christianly, though perhaps you would like to hear it Romanly; you
were always fond of what was Roman. Tip it him Romanly, child.'
'He has heard it Romanly already, bebee; 'twas by that I found him
out, as I told you.'
'Halloo, sir, are you sleeping? you have taken drows; the gentleman
makes no answer. God give me patience!'
'And what if he doesn't, bebee; isn't he poisoned like a hog?
Gentleman, indeed! why call him gentleman? if he ever was one he's
broke, and is now a tinker, a worker of blue metal.'
'That's his way, child, to-day a tinker, to-morrow something else;
and as for being drabbed, I don't know what to say about it.'
'Not drabbed! what do you mean, bebee? but look there, bebee; ha,
ha, look at the gentleman's motions.'
'He is sick, child, sure enough. Ho, ho! sir, you have taken
drows; what, another throe! writhe, sir, writhe; the hog died by
the drow of gypsies; I saw him stretched at evening. That's
yourself, sir. There is no hope, sir, no help, you have taken
drow; shall I tell you your fortune, sir, your dukkerin? God bless
you, pretty gentleman, much trouble will you have to suffer, and
much water to cross; but never mind, pretty gentleman, you shall be
fortunate at the end, and those who hate shall take off their hats
'Hey, bebee!' cried the girl; 'what is this? what do you mean? you
have blessed the gorgio!'
'Blessed him! no, sure; what did I say? Oh, I remember, I'm mad;
well, I can't help it, I said what the dukkerin dook told me; woe's
me, he'll get up yet.'
'Nonsense, bebee! Look at his motions, he's drabbed, spite of
'Don't say so, child; he's sick, 'tis true, but don't laugh at
dukkerin, only folks do that that know no better. I, for one, will
never laugh at the dukkerin dook. Sick again; I wish he was gone.'
'He'll soon be gone, bebee; let's leave him. He's as good as gone;
look there, he's dead.'
'No, he's not, he'll get up--I feel it; can't we hasten him?'
'Hasten him! yes, to be sure; set the dog upon him. Here, juggal,
look in there, my dog.'
The dog made its appearance at the door of the tent, and began to
bark and tear up the ground.
'At him, juggal, at him; he wished to poison, to drab you.
The dog barked violently, and seemed about to spring at my face,
'The dog won't fly at him, child; he flashed at the dog with his
eye, and scared him. He'll get up.'
'Nonsense, bebee! you make me angry; how should he get up?'
'The dook tells me so, and, what's more, I had a dream. I thought
I was at York, standing amidst a crowd to see a man hung, and the
crowd shouted, "There he comes!" and I looked, and, lo! it was the
tinker; before I could cry with joy I was whisked away, and I found
myself in Ely's big church, which was chock full of people to hear
the dean preach, and all eyes were turned to the big pulpit; and
presently I heard them say, "There he mounts!" and I looked up to
the big pulpit, and, lo! the tinker was in the pulpit, and he
raised his arm and began to preach. Anon, I found myself at York
again, just as the drop fell, and I looked up, and I saw not the
tinker, but my own self hanging in the air.'
'You are going mad, bebee; if you want to hasten him, take your
stick and poke him in the eye.'
'That will be of no use, child, the dukkerin tells me so; but I
will try what I can do. Halloo, tinker! you must introduce
yourself into a quiet family, and raise confusion--must you? You
must steal its language, and, what was never done before, write it
down Christianly--must you? Take that--and that'; and she stabbed
violently with her stick towards the end of the tent.
'That's right, bebee, you struck his face; now once more, and let
it be in the eye. Stay, what's that? get up, bebee.'
'What's the matter, child?'
'Some one is coming, come away.'
'Let me make sure of him, child; he'll be up yet.' And thereupon
Mrs. Herne, rising, leaned forward into the tent, and, supporting
herself against the pole, took aim in the direction of the farther
end. 'I will thrust out his eye,' said she; and, lunging with her
stick, she would probably have accomplished her purpose had not at
that moment the pole of the tent given way, whereupon she fell to
the ground, the canvas falling upon her and her intended victim.
'Here's a pretty affair, bebee,' screamed the girl.
'He'll get up, yet,' said Mrs. Herne, from beneath the canvas.
'Get up!--get up yourself; where are you? where is your--Here,
there, bebee, here's the door; there, make haste, they are coming.'
'He'll get up yet,' said Mrs. Herne, recovering her breath; 'the
dock tells me so.'
'Never mind him or the dook; he is drabbed; come away, or we shall
be grabbed--both of us.'
'One more blow, I know where his head lies.'
'You are mad, bebee; leave the fellow--gorgio avella.'
And thereupon the females hurried away.
A vehicle of some kind was evidently drawing nigh; in a little time
it came alongside of the place where lay the fallen tent, and
stopped suddenly. There was a silence for a moment, and then a
parley ensued between two voices, one of which was that of a woman.
It was not in English, but in a deep guttural tongue.
'Peth yw hono sydd yn gorwedd yna ar y ddaear?' said a masculine
'Yn wirionedd--I do not know what it can be,' said the female
voice, in the same tongue.
'Here is a cart, and there are tools; but what is that on the
'Something moves beneath it; and what was that--a groan?'
'Shall I get down?'
'Of course, Peter, some one may want your help?
'Then I will get down, though I do not like this place; it is
frequented by Egyptians, and I do not like their yellow faces, nor
their clibberty clabber, as Master Ellis Wyn says. Now I am down.
It is a tent, Winifred, and see, here is a boy beneath it.
Merciful father! what a face.'
A middle-aged man, with a strongly marked and serious countenance,
dressed in sober-coloured habiliments, had lifted up the stifling
folds of the tent, and was bending over me. 'Can you speak, my
lad?' said he in English; 'what is the matter with you? if you
could but tell me, I could perhaps help you--' 'What is that you
say? I can't hear you. I will kneel down'; and he flung himself
on the ground, and placed his ear close to my mouth. 'Now speak if
you can. Hey! what! no, sure, God forbid!' then starting up, he
cried to a female who sat in the cart, anxiously looking on--
'Gwenwyn! gwenwyn! yw y gwas wedi ei gwenwynaw. The oil!
Winifred, the oil!'
Desired effect--The three oaks--Winifred--Things of time--With
God's will--The preacher--Creature comforts--Croesaw--Welsh and
English--Mayor of Chester.
The oil, which the strangers compelled me to take, produced the
desired effect, though, during at least two hours, it was very
doubtful whether or not my life would be saved. At the end of that
period the man said that with the blessing of God he would answer
for my life. He then demanded whether I thought I could bear to be
removed from the place in which we were; 'for I like it not,' he
continued, 'as something within me tells me that it is not good for
any of us to be here.' I told him, as well as I was able, that I,
too, should be glad to leave the place; whereupon, after collecting
my things, he harnessed my pony, and, with the assistance of the
woman, he contrived to place me in the cart; he then gave me a
draught out of a small phial, and we set forward at a slow pace,
the man walking by the side of the cart in which I lay. It is
probable that the draught consisted of a strong opiate, for after
swallowing it I fell into a deep slumber; on my awaking, I found
that the shadows of night had enveloped the earth--we were still
moving on. Shortly, however, after descending a declivity, we
turned into a lane, at the entrance of which was a gate. This lane
conducted to a meadow, through the middle of which ran a small
brook; it stood between two rising grounds; that on the left, which
was on the farther side of the water, was covered with wood, whilst
the one on the right, which was not so high, was crowned with the
white walls of what appeared to be a farmhouse.
Advancing along the meadow, we presently came to a place where grew
three immense oaks, almost on the side of the brook, over which
they flung their arms, so as to shade it as with a canopy; the
ground beneath was bare of grass, and nearly as hard and smooth as
the floor of a barn. Having led his own cart on one side of the
midmost tree, and my own on the other, the stranger said to me,
'This is the spot where my wife and myself generally tarry in the
summer season, when we come into these parts. We are about to pass
the night here. I suppose you will have no objection to do the
same? Indeed, I do not see what else you could do under present
circumstances.' After receiving my answer, in which I, of course,
expressed my readiness to assent to his proposal, he proceeded to
unharness his horse, and, feeling myself much better, I got down,
and began to make the necessary preparations for passing the night
beneath the oak.
Whilst thus engaged, I felt myself touched on the shoulder, and,
looking round, perceived the woman, whom the stranger called
Winifred, standing close to me. The moon was shining brightly upon
her, and I observed that she was very good-looking, with a composed
yet cheerful expression of countenance; her dress was plain and
primitive, very much resembling that of a Quaker. She held a straw
bonnet in her hand. 'I am glad to see thee moving about, young
man,' said she, in a soft, placid tone; 'I could scarcely have
expected it. Thou must be wondrous strong; many, after what thou
hast suffered, would not have stood on their feet for weeks and
months. What do I say?--Peter, my husband, who is skilled in
medicine, just now told me that not one in five hundred would have
survived what thou hast this day undergone; but allow me to ask
thee one thing, Hast thou returned thanks to God for thy
deliverance?' I made no answer, and the woman, after a pause,
said, 'Excuse me, young man, but do you know anything of God?'
'Very little,' I replied, 'but I should say He must be a wondrous
strong person, if He made all those big bright things up above
there, to say nothing of the ground on which we stand, which bears
beings like these oaks, each of which is fifty times as strong as
myself, and will live twenty times as long.' The woman was silent
for some moments, and then said, 'I scarcely know in what spirit
thy words are uttered. If thou art serious, however, I would
caution thee against supposing that the power of God is more
manifested in these trees, or even in those bright stars above us,
than in thyself--they are things of time, but thou art a being
destined to an eternity; it depends upon thyself whether thy
eternity shall be one of joy or sorrow.'
Here she was interrupted by the man, who exclaimed from the other
side of the tree, 'Winifred, it is getting late, you had better go
up to the house on the hill to inform our friends of our arrival,
or they will have retired for the night.' 'True,' said Winifred,
and forthwith wended her way to the house in question, returning
shortly with another woman, whom the man, speaking in the same
language which I had heard him first use, greeted by the name of
Mary; the woman replied in the same tongue, but almost immediately
said, in English, 'We hoped to have heard you speak to-night,
Peter, but we cannot expect that now, seeing that it is so late,
owing to your having been detained by the way, as Winifred tells
me; nothing remains for you to do now but to sup--to-morrow, with
God's will, we shall hear you.' 'And to-night, also, with God's
will, provided you be so disposed. Let those of your family come
hither.' 'They will be hither presently,' said Mary, 'for knowing
that thou art arrived, they will, of course, come and bid thee
welcome.' And scarcely had she spoke, when I beheld a party of
people descending the moonlit side of the hill. They soon arrived
at the place where we were; they might amount in all to twelve
individuals. The principal person was a tall, athletic man, of
about forty, dressed like a plain country farmer; this was, I soon
found, the husband of Mary; the rest of the group consisted of the
children of these two, and their domestic servants. One after
another they all shook Peter by the hand, men and women, boys and
girls, and expressed their joy at seeing him. After which he said,
'Now, friends, if you please, I will speak a few words to you.' A
stool was then brought him from the cart, which he stepped on, and
the people arranging themselves round him, some standing, some
seated on the ground, he forthwith began to address them in a
clear, distinct voice; and the subject of his discourse was the
necessity, in all human beings, of a change of heart.
The preacher was better than his promise, for, instead of speaking
a few words, he preached for at least three-quarters of an hour;
none of the audience, however, showed the slightest symptom of
weariness; on the contrary, the hope of each individual appeared to
hang upon the words which proceeded from his mouth. At the
conclusion of the sermon or discourse the whole assembly again
shook Peter by the hand, and returned to their house, the mistress
of the family saying, as she departed, 'I shall soon be back,
Peter; I go but to make arrangements for the supper of thyself and
company'; and, in effect, she presently returned, attended by a
young woman, who bore a tray in her hands. 'Set it down, Jessy,'
said the mistress to the girl, 'and then betake thyself to thy
rest, I shall remain here for a little time to talk with my
friends.' The girl departed, and the preacher and the two females
placed themselves on the ground about the tray. The man gave
thanks, and himself and his wife appeared to be about to eat, when
the latter suddenly placed her hand upon his arm, and said
something to him in a low voice, whereupon he exclaimed, 'Ay,
truly, we were both forgetful'; and then getting up, he came
towards me, who stood a little way off, leaning against the wheel
of my cart; and, taking me by the hand, he said, 'Pardon us, young
man, we were both so engaged in our own creature-comforts, that we
forgot thee, but it is not too late to repair our fault; wilt thou
not join us, and taste our bread and milk?' 'I cannot eat,' I
replied, 'but I think I could drink a little milk'; whereupon he
led me to the rest, and seating me by his side, he poured some milk
into a horn cup, saying, '"Croesaw." That,' added he, with a
smile, 'is Welsh for welcome.'
The fare upon the tray was of the simplest description, consisting
of bread, cheese, milk, and curds. My two friends partook with a
good appetite. 'Mary,' said the preacher, addressing himself to
the woman of the house, 'every time I come to visit thee, I find
thee less inclined to speak Welsh. I suppose, in a little time,
thou wilt entirely have forgotten it; hast thou taught it to any of
thy children?' 'The two eldest understand a few words,' said the
woman, 'but my husband does not wish them to learn it; he says
sometimes, jocularly, that though it pleased him to marry a Welsh
wife, it does not please him to have Welsh children. Who, I have
heard him say, would be a Welshman, if he could be an Englishman?'
'I for one,' said the preacher, somewhat hastily; 'not to be king
of all England would I give up my birthright as a Welshman. Your
husband is an excellent person, Mary, but I am afraid he is
somewhat prejudiced.' 'You do him justice, Peter, in saying that
he is an excellent person,' sail the woman; 'as to being
prejudiced, I scarcely know what to say, but he thinks that two
languages in the same kingdom are almost as bad as two kings.'
'That's no bad observation,' said the preacher, 'and it is
generally the case; yet, thank God, the Welsh and English go on
very well, side by side, and I hope will do so till the Almighty
calls all men to their long account.' 'They jog on very well now,'
said the woman; 'but I have heard my husband say that it was not
always so, and that the Welsh, in old times, were a violent and
ferocious people, for that once they hanged the mayor of Chester.'
'Ha, ha!' said the preacher, and his eyes flashed in the moonlight;
'he told you that, did he?' 'Yes,' said Mary; 'once, when the
mayor of Chester, with some of his people, was present at one of
the fairs over the border, a quarrel arose between the Welsh and
the English, and the Welsh beat the English, and hanged the mayor.'
'Your husband is a clever man,' said Peter, 'and knows a great
deal; did he tell you the name of the leader of the Welsh? No!
then I will: the leader of the Welsh on that occasion was -. He
was a powerful chieftain, and there was an old feud between him and
the men of Chester. Afterwards, when two hundred of the men of
Chester invaded his country to take revenge for their mayor, he
enticed them into a tower, set fire to it, and burnt them all.
That--was a very fine, noble--God forgive me, what was I about to
say--a very bad, violent man; but, Mary, this is very carnal and
unprofitable conversation, and in holding it we set a very bad
example to the young man here--let us change the subject.'
They then began to talk on religious matters. At length Mary
departed to her abode, and the preacher and his wife retired to
their tilted cart.
'Poor fellow, he seems to be almost brutally ignorant,' said Peter,
addressing his wife in their native language, after they had bidden
me farewell for the night.
'I am afraid he is,' said Winifred, 'yet my heart warms to the poor
lad, he seems so forlorn.'
Morning hymn--Much alone--John Bunyan--Beholden to nobody--Sixty-
five--Sober greeting--Early Sabbaths--Finny brood--The porch--No
fortune-telling--The master's niece--Doing good--Two or three
things--Groans and voices--Pechod Ysprydd Glan.
I slept soundly during that night, partly owing to the influence of
the opiate. Early in the morning I was awakened by the voices of
Peter and his wife, who were singing a morning hymn in their own
language. Both subsequently prayed long and fervently. I lay
still till their devotions were completed, and then left my tent.
'Good morning,' said Peter, 'how dost thou feel?' 'Much better,'
said I, 'than I could have expected.' 'I am glad of it,' said
Peter. 'Art thou hungry? yonder comes our breakfast,' pointing to
the same young woman I had seen the preceding night, who was again
descending the hill bearing the tray upon her head.
'What dust thou intend to do, young man, this day?' said Peter,
when we had about half finished breakfast. 'Do,' said I; 'as I do
other days, what I can.' 'And dost thou pass this day as thou dost
other days?' said Peter. 'Why not?' said I; 'what is there in this
day different from the rest? it seems to be of the same colour as
yesterday.' 'Art thou aware,' said the wife, interposing, 'what
day it is? that it is Sabbath? that it is Sunday?' 'No,' said I,
'I did not know that it was Sunday.' 'And how did that happen?'
said Winifred, with a sigh. 'To tell you the truth,' said I, 'I
live very much alone, and pay very little heed to the passing of
time.' 'And yet of what infinite importance is time,' said
Winifred. 'Art thou not aware that every year brings thee nearer
to thy end?' 'I do not think,' said I, 'that I am so near my end
as I was yesterday.' 'Yes, thou art,' said the woman; 'thou wast
not doomed to die yesterday; an invisible hand was watching over
thee yesterday; but thy day will come, therefore improve the time;
be grateful that thou wast saved yesterday; and, oh! reflect on one
thing; if thou hadst died yesterday, where wouldst thou have been
now?' 'Cast into the earth, perhaps,' said I. 'I have heard Mr.
Petulengro say that to be cast into the earth is the natural end of
man.' 'Who is Mr. Petulengro?' said Peter, interrupting his wife,
as she was about to speak. 'Master of the horse-shoe,' said I;
'and, according to his own account, king of Egypt.' 'I
understand,' said Peter, 'head of some family of wandering
Egyptians--they are a race utterly godless. Art thou of them?--but
no, thou art not, thou hast not their yellow blood. I suppose thou
belongest to the family of wandering artisans called -. I do not
like you the worse for belonging to them. A mighty speaker of old
sprang up from amidst that family.' 'Who was he?' said I. 'John
Bunyan,' replied Peter, reverently, 'and the mention of his name
reminds me that I have to preach this day; wilt thou go and hear?
the distance is not great, only half a mile.' 'No,' said I, 'I
will not go and hear.' 'Wherefore?' said Peter. 'I belong to the
church,' said I, 'and not to the congregations.' 'Oh! the pride of
that church,' said Peter, addressing his wife in their own tongue,
'exemplified even in the lowest and most ignorant of its members.
Then thou, doubtless, meanest to go to church,' said Peter, again
addressing me; 'there is a church on the other side of that wooded
hill.' 'No,' said I, 'I do not mean to go to church.' 'May I ask
thee wherefore?' said Peter. 'Because,' said I, 'I prefer
remaining beneath the shade of these trees, listening to the sound
of the leaves and the tinkling of the waters.'
'Then thou intendest to remain here?' said Peter, looking fixedly
at me. 'If I do not intrude,' said I; 'but if I do, I will wander
away; I wish to be beholden to nobody--perhaps you wish me to go?'
'On the contrary,' said Peter, 'I wish you to stay. I begin to see
something in thee which has much interest for me; but we must now
bid thee farewell for the rest of the day, the time is drawing nigh
for us to repair to the place of preaching; before we leave thee
alone, however, I should wish to ask thee a question--Didst thou
seek thy own destruction yesterday, and didst thou wilfully take
that poison?' 'No,' said I; 'had I known there had been poison in
the cake I certainly should not have taken it.' 'And who gave it
thee?' said Peter. 'An enemy of mine,' I replied. 'Who is thy
enemy?' 'An Egyptian sorceress and poison-monger.' 'Thy enemy is
a female. I fear thou hadst given her cause to hate thee--of what
did she complain?' 'That I had stolen the tongue out of her head.'
'I do not understand thee--is she young?' 'About sixty-five.'
Here Winifred interposed. 'Thou didst call her just now by hard
names, young man,' said she; 'I trust thou dost bear no malice
against her.' 'No,' said I, 'I bear no malice against her.' 'Thou
art not wishing to deliver her into the hand of what is called
justice?' 'By no means,' said I; 'I have lived long enough upon
the roads not to cry out for the constable when my finger is
broken. I consider this poisoning as an accident of the roads; one
of those to which those who travel are occasionally subject.' 'In
short, thou forgivest thine adversary?' 'Both now and for ever,'
said I. 'Truly,' said Winifred, 'the spirit which the young man
displayeth pleases me much; I should be loth that he left us yet.
I have no doubt that, with the blessing of God, and a little of thy
exhortation, he will turn out a true Christian before he leaveth
us.' 'My exhortation!' said Peter, and a dark shade passed over
his countenance; 'thou forgettest what I am--I--I--but I am
forgetting myself; the Lord's will be done; and now put away the
things, for I perceive that our friends are coming to attend us to
the place of meeting.'
Again the family which I had seen the night before descended the
hill from their abode. They were now dressed in their Sunday's
best. The master of the house led the way. They presently joined
us, when a quiet sober greeting ensued on each side. After a
little time Peter shook me by the hand and bade me farewell till
the evening; Winifred did the same, adding that she hoped I should
be visited by sweet and holy thoughts. The whole party then moved
off in the direction by which we had come the preceding night,
Peter and the master leading the way, followed by Winifred and the
mistress of the family. As I gazed on their departing forms, I
felt almost inclined to follow them to their place of worship. I
did not stir, however, but remained leaning against my oak with my
hands behind me.
And after a time I sat me down at the foot of the oak with my face
turned towards the water, and, folding my hands, I fell into deep
meditation. I thought on the early Sabbaths of my life, and the
manner in which I was wont to pass them. How carefully I said my
prayers when I got up on the Sabbath morn, and how carefully I
combed my hair and brushed my clothes in order that I might do
credit to the Sabbath day. I thought of the old church at pretty
D-, the dignified rector, and yet more dignified clerk. I though
of England's grand Liturgy, and Tate and Brady's sonorous
minstrelsy. I thought of the Holy Book, portions of which I was in
the habit of reading between service. I thought, too, of the
evening walk which I sometimes took in fine weather like the
present, with my mother and brother--a quiet sober walk, during
which I would not break into a run, even to chase a butterfly, or
yet more a honey-bee, being fully convinced of the dread importance
of the day which God had hallowed. And how glad I was when I had
got over the Sabbath day without having done anything to profane
it. And how soundly I slept on the Sabbath night after the toil of
being very good throughout the day.
And when I had mused on those times a long while, I sighed and said
to myself, I am much altered since then; am I altered for the
better? And then I looked at my hands and my apparel, and sighed
again. I was not wont of yore to appear thus on the Sabbath day.
For a long time I continued in a state of deep meditation, till at
last I lifted up my eyes to the sun, which, as usual during that
glorious summer, was shining in unclouded majesty; and then I
lowered them to the sparkling water, in which hundreds of the finny
brood were disporting themselves, and then I thought what a fine
thing it was to be a fish on such a fine summer day, and I wished
myself a fish, or at least amongst the fishes; and then I looked at
my hands again, and then, bending over the water, I looked at my
face in the crystal mirror, and started when I saw it, for it
looked squalid and miserable.
Forthwith I started up, and said to myself, I should like to bathe
and cleanse myself from the squalor produced by my late hard life
and by Mrs. Herne's drow. I wonder if there is any harm in bathing
on the Sabbath day. I will ask Winifred when she comes home; in
the meantime I will bathe, provided I can find a fitting place.
But the brook, though a very delightful place for fish to disport
in, was shallow, and by no means adapted for the recreation of so
large a being as myself; it was, moreover, exposed, though I saw
nobody at hand, nor heard a single human voice or sound. Following
the winding of the brook, I left the meadow, and, passing through
two or three thickets, came to a place where between lofty banks
the water ran deep and dark, and there I bathed, imbibing new tone
and vigour into my languid and exhausted frame.
Having put on my clothes, I returned by the way I had come to my
vehicle beneath the oak tree. From thence, for want of something
better to do, I strolled up the hill, on the top of which stood the
farm-house; it was a large and commodious building built
principally of stone, and seeming of some antiquity, with a porch,
on either side of which was an oaken bench. On the right was
seated a young woman with a book in her hand, the same who had
brought the tray to my friends and myself.
'Good-day,' said I, 'pretty damsel, sitting in the farm porch.'
'Good-day,' said the girl, looking at me for a moment, and then
fixing her eyes on her book.
'That's a nice book you are reading,' said I.
The girl looked at me with surprise. 'How do you know what book it
is?' said she.
'How do I know--never mind; but a nice book it is--no love, no
fortune-telling in it.'
The girl looked at me half offended. 'Fortune-telling!' said she,
'I should think not. But you know nothing about it'; and she bent
her head once more over the book.
'I tell you what, young person,' said I, 'I know all about that
book; what will you wager that I do not?'
'I never wager,' said the girl.
'Shall I tell you the name of it,' said I, 'O daughter of the
The girl half started. 'I should never have thought,' said she,
half timidly, 'that you could have guessed it.'
'I did not guess it,' said I, 'I knew it; and meet and proper it is
that you should read it.'
'Why so?' said the girl.
'Can the daughter of the dairy read a more fitting book than the
'Where do you come from?' said the girl.
'Out of the water,' said I. 'Don't start, I have been bathing; are
you fond of the water?'
'No,' said the girl, heaving a sigh; 'I am not fond of the water,
that is, of the sea'; and here she sighed again.
'The sea is a wide gulf,' said I, 'and frequently separates
The girl sobbed.
'Why are you alone here?' said I.
'I take my turn with the rest,' said the girl, 'to keep at home on
'And you are--' said I.
'The master's niece!' said the girl. 'How came you to know it?
But why did you not go with the rest and with your friends?'
'Who are those you call my friends?' said I.
'Peter and his wife.'
'And who are they?' said I.
'Do you not know?' said the girl; 'you came with them.'
'They found me ill by the way,' said I; 'and they relieved me: I
know nothing about them.'
'I thought you knew everything,' said the girl.
'There are two or three things which I do not know, and this is one
of them. Who are they?'
'Did you never hear of the great Welsh preacher, Peter Williams?'
'Never,' said I.
'Well,' said the girl, 'this is he, and Winifred is his wife, and a
nice person she is. Some people say, indeed, that she is as good a
preacher as her husband, though of that matter I can say nothing,
having never heard her preach. So these two wander over all Wales
and the greater part of England, comforting the hearts of the
people with their doctrine, and doing all the good they can. They
frequently come here, for the mistress is a Welsh woman, and an old
friend of both, and then they take up their abode in the cart
beneath the old oaks down there by the stream.'
'And what is their reason for doing so?' said I; 'would it not be
more comfortable to sleep beneath a roof?'
'I know not their reasons,' said the girl, 'but so it is; they
never sleep beneath a roof unless the weather is very severe. I
once heard the mistress say that Peter had something heavy upon his
mind; perhaps that is the cause. If he is unhappy, all I can say
is, that I wish him otherwise, for he is a good man and a kind--'
'Thank you,' said I, 'I will now depart.'
'Hem!' said the girl, 'I was wishing--'
'What? to ask me a question?'
'Not exactly; but you seem to know everything; you mentioned, I
'Do you wish me to tell your fortune?'
'By no means; but I have a friend at a distance at sea, and I
should wish to know--'
'When he will come back? I have told you already there are two or
three things which I do not know--this is another of them.
However, I should not be surprised if he were to come back some of
these days; I would if I were in his place. In the meantime be
patient, attend to the dairy, and read the Dairyman's Daughter when
you have nothing better to do.'
It was late in the evening when the party of the morning returned.
The farmer and his family repaired at once to their abode, and my
two friends joined me beneath the tree. Peter sat down at the foot
of the oak, and said nothing. Supper was brought by a servant, not
the damsel of the porch. We sat round the tray, Peter said grace,
but scarcely anything else; he appeared sad and dejected, his wife
looked anxiously upon him. I was as silent as my friends; after a
little time we retired to our separate places of rest.
About midnight I was awakened by a noise; I started up and
listened; it appeared to me that I heard voices and groans. In a
moment I had issued from my tent--all was silent--but the next
moment I again heard groans and voices; they proceeded from the
tilted cart where Peter and his wife lay; I drew near, again there
was a pause, and then I heard the voice of Peter, in an accent of
extreme anguish, exclaim, 'Pechod Ysprydd Glan--O pechod Ysprydd
Glan!' and then he uttered a deep groan. Anon, I heard the voice
of Winifred, and never shall I forget the sweetness and gentleness
of the tones of her voice in the stillness of that night. I did
not understand all she said--she spoke in her native language, and
I was some way apart; she appeared to endeavour to console her
husband, but he seemed to refuse all comfort, and, with many
groans, repeated--'Pechod Ysprydd Glan--O pechod Ysprydd Glan!' I
felt I had no right to pry into their afflictions, and retired.
Now 'pechod Ysprydd Glan,' interpreted, is the sin against the Holy
The following day--Pride--Thriving trade--Tylwyth Teg--Ellis Wyn--
Sleeping hard--Incalculable good--Fearful agony--The tale.
Peter and his wife did not proceed on any expedition during the
following day. The former strolled gloomily about the fields, and
the latter passed many hours in the farmhouse. Towards evening,
without saying a word to either, I departed with my vehicle, and
finding my way to a small town at some distance, I laid in a store
of various articles, with which I returned. It was night, and my
two friends were seated beneath the oak; they had just completed
their frugal supper. 'We waited for thee some time,' said
Winifred, 'but, finding that thou didst not come, we began without
thee; but sit down, I pray thee, there is still enough for thee.'
'I will sit down,' said I, 'but I require no supper, for I have
eaten where I have been': nothing more particular occurred at the
time. Next morning the kind pair invited me to share their
breakfast. 'I will not share your breakfast,' said I. 'Wherefore
not?' said Winifred, anxiously. 'Because,' said I, 'it is not
proper that I be beholden to you for meat and drink.' 'But we are
beholden to other people,' said Winifred. 'Yes,' said I, 'but you
preach to them, and give them ghostly advice, which considerably
alters the matter; not that I would receive anything from them, if
I preached to them six times a day.' 'Thou art not fond of
receiving favours, then, young man,' said Winifred. 'I am not,'
said I. 'And of conferring favours?' 'Nothing affords me greater
pleasure,' said I, 'than to confer favours.' 'What a disposition,'
said Winifred, holding up her hands; 'and this is pride, genuine
pride--that feeling which the world agrees to call so noble. Oh,
how mean a thing is pride! never before did I see all the meanness
of what is called pride!'
'But how wilt thou live, friend,' said Peter; 'dost thou not intend
to eat?' 'When I went out last night,' said I, 'I laid in a
provision.' 'Thou hast laid in a provision!' said Peter, 'pray let
us see it. Really, friend,' said he, after I had produced it,
'thou must drive a thriving trade; here are provisions enough to
last three people for several days. Here are butter and eggs, here
is tea, here is sugar, and there is a flitch. I hope thou wilt let
us partake of some of thy fare.' 'I should be very happy if you
would,' said I. 'Doubt not but we shall,' said Peter; 'Winifred
shall have some of thy flitch cooked for dinner. In the meantime,
sit down, young man, and breakfast at our expense--we will dine at
On the evening of that day, Peter and myself sat alone beneath the
oak. We fell into conversation; Peter was at first melancholy, but
he soon became more cheerful, fluent, and entertaining. I spoke
but little; but I observed that sometimes what I said surprised the
good Methodist. We had been silent some time. At length, lifting
up my eyes to the broad and leafy canopy of the trees, I said,
having nothing better to remark, 'What a noble tree! I wonder if
the fairies ever dance beneath it.'
'Fairies!' said Peter, 'fairies! how came you, young man, to know
anything about the fair family?'
'I am an Englishman,' said I, 'and of course know something about
fairies; England was once a famous place for them.'
'Was once, I grant you,' said Peter, 'but is so no longer. I have
travelled for years about England, and never heard them mentioned
before; the belief in them has died away, and even their name seems
to be forgotten. If you had said you were a Welshman, I should not
have been surprised. The Welsh have much to say of the Tylwyth
Teg, or fair family, and many believe in them.'
'And do you believe in them?' said I.
'I scarcely know what to say. Wise and good men have been of
opinion that they are nothing but devils, who, under the form of
pretty and amiable spirits, would fain allure poor human beings; I
see nothing irrational in the supposition.'
'Do you believe in devils, then?'
'Do I believe in devils, young man?' said Peter, and his frame was
shaken as if by convulsions. 'If I do not believe in devils, why
am I here at the present moment?'
'You know best,' said I; 'but I don't believe that fairies are
devils, and I don't wish to hear them insulted. What learned men
have said they are devils?'
'Many have said it, young man, and, amongst others, Master Ellis
Wyn, in that wonderful book of his, the Bardd Cwsg.'
'The Bardd Cwsg,' said I; 'what kind of book is that? I have never
heard of that book before.'
'Heard of it before; I suppose not; how should you have heard of it
before? By the bye, can you read?'
'Very tolerably,' said I; 'so there are fairies in this book. What
do you call it--the Bardd Cwsg?'
'Yes, the Bardd Cwsg. You pronounce Welsh very fairly; have you
ever been in Wales?'
'Never,' said I.
'Not been in Wales; then, of course, you don't understand Welsh;
but we were talking of the Bardd Cwsg--yes, there are fairies in
the Bardd Cwsg,--the author of it, Master Ellis Wyn, was carried
away in his sleep by them over mountains and valleys, rivers and
great waters, incurring mighty perils at their hands, till he was
rescued from them by an angel of the Most High, who subsequently
showed him many wonderful things.'
'I beg your pardon,' said I, 'but what were those wonderful
'I see, young man,' said Peter, smiling, 'that you are not without
curiosity; but I can easily pardon any one for being curious about
the wonders contained in the book of Master Ellis Wyn. The angel
showed him the course of this world, its pomps and vanities, its
cruelty and its pride, its crimes and deceits. On another
occasion, the angel showed him Death in his nether palace,
surrounded by his grisly ministers, and by those who are
continually falling victims to his power. And, on a third
occasion, the state of the condemned in their place of everlasting
'But this was all in his sleep,' said I, 'was it not?'
'Yes,' said Peter, 'in his sleep; and on that account the book is
called Gweledigaethau y Bardd Cwsg, or, Visions of the Sleeping
'I do not care for wonders which occur in sleep,' said I. 'I
prefer real ones; and perhaps, notwithstanding what he says, the
man had no visions at all--they are probably of his own invention.'
'They are substantially true, young man,' said Peter; 'like the
dreams of Bunyan, they are founded on three tremendous facts, Sin,
Death, and Hell; and like his they have done incalculable good, at
least in my own country, in the language of which they are written.
Many a guilty conscience has the Bardd Cwsg aroused with its
dreadful sights, its strong sighs, its puffs of smoke from the pit,
and its showers of sparks from the mouth of the yet lower gulf of--
Unknown--were it not for the Bardd Cwsg perhaps I might not be
'I would sooner hear your own tale,' said I, 'than all the visions
of the Bardd Cwsg.'
Peter shook, bent his form nearly double, and covered his face with
his hands. I sat still and motionless, with my eyes fixed upon
him. Presently Winifred descended the hill, and joined us. 'What
is the matter?' said she, looking at her husband, who still
remained in the posture I have described. He made no answer;
whereupon, laying her hand gently on his shoulder, she said, in the
peculiar soft and tender tone which I had heard her use on a former
occasion, 'Take comfort, Peter; what has happened now to afflict
thee?' Peter removed his hand from his face. 'The old pain, the
old pain,' said he; 'I was talking with this young man, and he
would fain know what brought me here, he would fain hear my tale,
Winifred--my sin: O pechod Ysprydd Glan! O pechod Ysprydd Glan!'
and the poor man fell into a more fearful agony than before. Tears
trickled down Winifred's face, I saw them trickling by the
moonlight, as she gazed upon the writhing form of her afflicted
husband. I arose from my seat. 'I am the cause of all this,' said
I, 'by my folly and imprudence, and it is thus I have returned your
kindness and hospitality; I will depart from you and wander my
way.' I was retiring, but Peter sprang up and detained me. 'Go
not,' said he, 'you were not in fault; if there be any fault in the
case it was mine; if I suffer, I am but paying the penalty of my
own iniquity'; he then paused, and appeared to be considering: at
length he said, 'Many things which thou hast seen and heard
connected with me require explanation; thou wishest to know my
tale, I will tell it thee, but not now, not to-night; I am too much
Two evenings later, when we were again seated beneath the oak,
Peter took the hand of his wife in his own, and then, in tones
broken and almost inarticulate, commenced telling me his tale--the
tale of the Pechod Ysprydd Glan.
Taking a cup--Getting to heaven--After breakfast-- Wooden gallery--
Mechanical habit--Reserved and gloomy--Last words--A long time--
From the clouds--Ray of hope--Momentary chill--Pleasing
'I was born in the heart of North Wales, the son of a respectable
farmer, and am the youngest of seven brothers.
'My father was a member of the Church of England, and was what is
generally called a serious man. He went to church regularly, and
read the Bible every Sunday evening; in his moments of leisure he
was fond of holding religious discourse both with his family and
'One autumn afternoon, on a week day, my father sat with one of his
neighbours taking a cup of ale by the oak table in our stone
kitchen. I sat near them, and listened to their discourse. I was
at that time seven years of age. They were talking of religious
matters. "It is a hard matter to get to heaven," said my father.
"Exceedingly so," said the other. "However, I don't despond; none
need despair of getting to heaven, save those who have committed
the sin against the Holy Ghost."
'"Ah!" said my father, "thank God I never committed that--how awful
must be the state of a person who has committed the sin against the
Holy Ghost. I can scarcely think of it without my hair standing on
end"; and then my father and his friend began talking of the nature
of the sin against the Holy Ghost, and I heard them say what it
was, as I sat with greedy ears listening to their discourse.
'I lay awake the greater part of the night musing upon what I had
heard. I kept wondering to myself what must be the state of a
person who had committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, and how he
must feel. Once or twice I felt a strong inclination to commit it,
a strange kind of fear, however, prevented me; at last I determined
not to commit it, and, having said my prayers, I fell asleep.
'When I awoke in the morning the first thing I thought of was the
mysterious sin, and a voice within me seemed to say, "Commit it";
and I felt a strong temptation to do so, even stronger than in the
night. I was just about to yield, when the same dread, of which I
have already spoken, came over me, and, springing out of bed, I
went down on my knees. I slept in a small room alone, to which I
ascended by a wooden stair, open to the sky. I have often thought
since that it is not a good thing for children to sleep alone.
'After breakfast I went to school, and endeavoured to employ myself
upon my tasks, but all in vain; I could think of nothing but the
sin against the Holy Ghost; my eyes, instead of being fixed upon my
book, wandered in vacancy. My master observed my inattention, and
chid me. The time came for saying my task, and I had not acquired
it. My master reproached me, and, yet more, he beat me; I felt
shame and anger, and I went home with a full determination to
commit the sin against the Holy Ghost.
'But when I got home my father ordered me to do something connected
with the farm, so that I was compelled to exert myself; I was
occupied till night, and was so busy that I almost forgot the sin
and my late resolution. My work completed, I took my supper, and
went to my room; I began my prayers, and, when they were ended, I
thought of the sin, but the temptation was slight, I felt very
tired, and was presently asleep.
'Thus, you see, I had plenty of time allotted me by a gracious and
kind God to reflect on what I was about to do. He did not permit
the enemy of souls to take me by surprise, and to hurry me at once
into the commission of that which was to be my ruin here and
hereafter. Whatever I did was of my own free will, after I had had
time to reflect. Thus God is justified; He had no hand in my
destruction, but, on the contrary, He did all that was compatible
with justice to prevent it. I hasten to the fatal moment. Awaking
in the night, I determined that nothing should prevent my
committing the sin. Arising from my bed, I went out upon the
wooden gallery; and having stood for a few moments looking at the
stars, with which the heavens were thickly strewn, I laid myself
down, and supporting my face with my hand, I murmured out words of
horror, words not to be repeated, and in this manner I committed
the sin against the Holy Ghost.
'When the words were uttered I sat up upon the topmost step of the
gallery; for some time I felt stunned in somewhat the same manner
as I once subsequently felt after being stung by an adder. I soon
arose, however, and retired to my bed, where, notwithstanding what
I had done, I was not slow in falling asleep.
'I awoke several times during the night, each time with the dim
idea that something strange and monstrous had occurred, but I
presently fell asleep again; in the morning I awoke with the same
vague feeling, but presently recollection returned, and I
remembered that I had committed the sin against the Holy Ghost. I
lay musing for some time on what I had done, and I felt rather
stunned, as before; at last I arose and got out of bed, dressed
myself, and then went down on my knees, and was about to pray from
the force of mechanical habit; before I said a word, however, I
recollected myself, and got up again. What was the use of praying?
I thought; I had committed the sin against the Holy Ghost.
'I went to school, but sat stupefied. I was again chidden, again
beaten, by my master. I felt no anger this time, and scarcely
heeded the strokes. I looked, however, at my master's face, and
thought to myself, you are beating me for being idle, as you
suppose; poor man, what would you do if you knew I had committed
the sin against the Holy Ghost?
'Days and weeks passed by. I had once been cheerful, and fond of
the society of children of my own age; but I was now reserved and
gloomy. It seemed to me that a gulf separated me from all my
fellow-creatures. I used to look at my brothers and schoolfellows,
and think how different I was from them; they had not done what I
had. I seemed, in my own eyes, a lone monstrous being, and yet,
strange to say, I felt a kind of pride in being so. I was unhappy,
but I frequently thought to myself, I have done what no one else
would dare to do; there was something grand in the idea; I had yet
to learn the horror of my condition.
'Time passed on, and I began to think less of what I had done; I
began once more to take pleasure in my childish sports; I was
active, and excelled at football and the like all the lads of my
age. I likewise began, what I had never done before, to take
pleasure in the exercises of the school. I made great progress in
Welsh and English grammar, and learnt to construe Latin. My master
no longer chid or beat me, but one day told my father that he had
no doubt that one day I should be an honour to Wales.
'Shortly after this my father fell sick; the progress of the
disorder was rapid; feeling his end approaching, he called his
children before him. After tenderly embracing us, he said "God
bless you, my children, I am going from you, but take comfort, I
trust that we shall all meet again in heaven."
'As he uttered these last words, horror took entire possession of
me. Meet my father in heaven,--how could I ever hope to meet him
there? I looked wildly at my brethren and at my mother; they were
all bathed in tears, but how I envied them. They might hope to
meet my father in heaven, but how different were they from me, they
had never committed the unpardonable sin.
'In a few days my father died; he left his family in comfortable
circumstances, at least such as would be considered so in Wales,
where the wants of the people are few. My elder brother carried on
the farm for the benefit of my mother and us all. In course of
time my brothers were put out to various trades. I still remained
at school, but without being a source of expense to my relations,
as I was by this time able to assist my master in the business of
'I was diligent both in self-improvement and in the instruction of
others; nevertheless, a horrible weight pressed upon my breast; I
knew I was a lost being; that for me there was no hope; that,
though all others might be saved, I must of necessity be lost; I
had committed the unpardonable sin, for which I was doomed to
eternal punishment, in the flaming gulf, as soon as life was over!-
-and how long could I hope to live? perhaps fifty years; at the end
of which I must go to my place; and then I would count the months
and the days, nay, even the hours, which yet intervened between me
and my doom. Sometimes I would comfort myself with the idea that a
long time would elapse before my time would be out; but then again
I thought that, however long the term might be, it must be out at
last; and then I would fall into an agony, during which I would
almost wish that the term were out, and that I were in my place;
the horrors of which I thought could scarcely be worse than what I
'There was one thought about this time which caused me unutterable
grief and shame, perhaps more shame than grief. It was that my
father, who was gone to heaven, and was there daily holding
communion with his God, was by this time aware of my crime. I
imagined him looking down from the clouds upon his wretched son,
with a countenance of inexpressible horror. When this idea was
upon me, I would often rush to some secret place to hide myself; to
some thicket, where I would cast myself on the ground, and thrust
my head into a thick bush, in order to escape from the horror-
struck glance of my father above in the clouds; and there I would
continue groaning till the agony had, in some degree, passed away.
'The wretchedness of my state increasing daily, it at last became
apparent to the master of the school, who questioned me earnestly
and affectionately. I, however, gave him no satisfactory answer,
being apprehensive that, if I unbosomed myself, I should become as
much an object of horror to him as I had long been to myself. At
length he suspected that I was unsettled in my intellects; and,
fearing probably the ill effect of my presence upon his scholars,
he advised me to go home; which I was glad to do, as I felt myself
every day becoming less qualified for the duties of the office
which I had undertaken.
'So I returned home to my mother and my brother, who received me
with the greatest kindness and affection. I now determined to
devote myself to husbandry, and assist my brother in the business
of the farm. I was still, however, very much distressed. One fine
morning, however, as I was at work in the field, and the birds were
carolling around me, a ray of hope began to break upon my poor dark
soul. I looked at the earth and looked at the sky, and felt as I
had not done for many a year; presently a delicious feeling stole
over me. I was beginning to enjoy existence. I shall never forget
that hour. I flung myself on the soil, and kissed it; then,
springing up with a sudden impulse, I rushed into the depths of a
neighbouring wood, and, falling upon my knees, did what I had not
done for a long, long time--prayed to God.
'A change, an entire change, seemed to have come over me. I was no
longer gloomy and despairing, but gay and happy. My slumbers were
light and easy; not disturbed, as before, by frightful dreams. I
arose with the lark, and like him uttered a cheerful song of praise
to God, frequently and earnestly, and was particularly cautious not
to do anything which I considered might cause His displeasure.
'At church I was constant, and when there listened with deepest
attention to every word which proceeded from the mouth of the
minister. In a little time it appeared to me that I had become a
good, very good, young man. At times the recollection of the sin
would return, and I would feel a momentary chill; but the thought
quickly vanished, and I again felt happy and secure.
'One Sunday morning, after I had said my prayers, I felt
particularly joyous. I thought of the innocent and virtuous life I
was leading; and when the recollection of the sin intruded for a
moment, said, "I am sure God will never utterly cast away so good a
creature as myself." I went to church, and was as usual attentive.
The subject of the sermon was on the duty of searching the
Scriptures: all I knew of them was from the liturgy. I now,
however, determined to read them, and perfect the good work which I
had begun. My father's Bible was upon the shelf, and on that
evening I took it with me to my chamber. I placed it on the table,
and sat down. My heart was filled with pleasing anticipation. I
opened the book at random, and began to read; the first passage on
which my eyes lighted was the following:-
'"He who committeth the sin against the Holy Ghost shall not be
forgiven, either in this world or the next."'
Here Peter was seized with convulsive tremors. Winifred sobbed
violently. I got up, and went away. Returning in about a quarter
of an hour, I found him more calm; he motioned me to sit down; and,
after a short pause, continued his narration.
Hasty farewell--Lofty rock--Wrestlings of Jacob--No rest--Ways of
Providence--Two females--Foot of the Cross--Enemy of souls--
Perplexed--Lucky hour--Valetudinarian--Methodists--Fervent in
prayer--You Saxons--Weak creatures--Very agreeable--Almost happy--
Kindness and solicitude.
'Where was I, young man? Oh, I remember, at the fatal passage
which removed all hope. I will not dwell on what I felt. I closed
my eyes, and wished that I might be dreaming; but it was no dream,
but a terrific reality: I will not dwell on that period, I should
only shock you. I could not bear my feelings; so, bidding my
friends a hasty farewell, I abandoned myself to horror and despair,
and ran wild through Wales, climbing mountains and wading streams.
'Climbing mountains and wading streams, I ran wild about, I was
burnt by the sun, drenched by the rain, and had frequently at night
no other covering than the sky, or the humid roof of some cave; but
nothing seemed to affect my constitution; probably the fire which
burned within me counteracted what I suffered from without. During
the space of three years I scarcely knew what befell me; my life
was a dream--a wild, horrible dream; more than once I believe I was
in the hands of robbers, and once in the hands of gypsies. I liked
the last description of people least of all; I could not abide
their yellow faces, or their ceaseless clabber. Escaping from
these beings, whose countenances and godless discourse brought to
my mind the demons of the deep Unknown, I still ran wild through
Wales, I know not how long. On one occasion, coming in some degree
to my recollection, I felt myself quite unable to bear the horrors
of my situation; looking round I found myself near the sea;
instantly the idea came into my head that I would cast myself into
it, and thus anticipate my final doom. I hesitated a moment, but a
voice within me seemed to tell me that I could do no better; the
sea was near, and I could not swim, so I determined to fling myself
into the sea. As I was running along at great speed, in the
direction of a lofty rock, which beetled over the waters, I
suddenly felt myself seized by the coat. I strove to tear myself
away, but in vain; looking round, I perceived a venerable hale old
man, who had hold of me. "Let me go!" said I, fiercely. "I will
not let thee go," said the old man, and now, instead of with one,
he grappled me with both hands. "In whose name dost thou detain
me?" said I, scarcely knowing what I said. "In the name of my
Master, who made thee and yonder sea; and has said to the sea, So
far shalt thou come, and no farther, and to thee, Thou shalt do no
murder." "Has not a man a right to do what he pleases with his
own?" said I. "He has," said the old man, "but thy life is not thy
own; thou art accountable for it to thy God. Nay, I will not let
thee go," he continued, as I again struggled; "if thou struggle
with me the whole day I will not let thee go, as Charles Wesley
says, in his 'Wrestlings of Jacob'; and see, it is of no use
struggling, for I am, in the strength of my Master, stronger than
thou"; and indeed, all of a sudden I had become very weak and
exhausted; whereupon the old man, beholding my situation, took me
by the arm and led me gently to a neighbouring town, which stood
behind a hill, and which I had not before observed; presently he
opened the door of a respectable-looking house, which stood beside
a large building having the appearance of a chapel, and conducted
me into a small room, with a great many books in it. Having caused
me to sit down, he stood looking at me for some time, occasionally
heaving a sigh. I was, indeed, haggard and forlorn. "Who art
thou?" he said at last. "A miserable man," I replied. "What makes
thee miserable?" said the old man. "A hideous crime," I replied.
"I can find no rest; like Cain I wander here and there." The old
man turned pale. "Hast thou taken another's life?" said he; "if
so, I advise thee to surrender thyself to the magistrate; thou
canst do no better; thy doing so will be the best proof of thy
repentance; and though there be no hope for thee in this world
there may be much in the next." "No," said I, "I have never taken
another's life." "What then, another's goods? If so, restore them
sevenfold, if possible: or, if it be not in thy power, and thy
conscience accuse thee, surrender thyself to the magistrate, and
make the only satisfaction thou art able." "I have taken no one's
goods," said I. "Of what art thou guilty, then?" said he. "Art
thou a drunkard? a profligate?" "Alas, no," said I; "I am neither
of these; would that I were no worse."
'Thereupon the old man looked steadfastly at me for some time;
then, after appearing to reflect, he said, "Young man, I have a
great desire to know your name." "What matters it to you what is
my name?" said I; "you know nothing of me." "Perhaps you are
mistaken," said the old man, looking kindly at me; "but at all
events tell me your name." I hesitated a moment, and then told him
who I was, whereupon he exclaimed with much emotion, "I thought so;
how wonderful are the ways of Providence. I have heard of thee,
young man, and know thy mother well. Only a month ago, when upon a
journey, I experienced much kindness from her. She was speaking to
me of her lost child, with tears; she told me that you were one of
the best of sons, but that some strange idea appeared to have
occupied your mind. Despair not, my son. If thou hast been
afflicted, I doubt not but that thy affliction will eventually turn
out to thy benefit; I doubt not but that thou wilt be preserved, as
an example of the great mercy of God. I will now kneel down and
pray for thee, my son."
'He knelt down, and prayed long and fervently. I remained standing
for some time; at length I knelt down likewise. I scarcely knew
what he was saying, but when he concluded I said "Amen."
'And when we had risen from our knees, the old man left me for a
short time, and on his return led me into another room, where were
two females; one was an elderly person, the wife of the old man,--
the other was a young woman of very prepossessing appearance (hang
not down thy head, Winifred), who I soon found was a distant
relation of the old man,--both received me with great kindness, the
old man having doubtless previously told them who I was.
'I stayed several days in the good man's house. I had still the
greater portion of a small sum which I happened to have about me
when I departed on my dolorous wandering, and with this I purchased
clothes, and altered my appearance considerably. On the evening of
the second day my friend said, "I am going to preach, perhaps you
will come and hear me." I consented, and we all went, not to a
church, but to the large building next the house; for the old man,
though a clergyman, was not of the established persuasion, and
there the old man mounted a pulpit, and began to preach. "Come
unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden," etc. etc., was
his text. His sermon was long, but I still bear the greater
portion of it in my mind.
'The substance of it was that Jesus was at all times ready to take
upon Himself the burden of our sins, provided we came to Him with a
humble and contrite spirit, and begged His help. This doctrine was
new to me; I had often been at church, but had never heard it
preached before, at least so distinctly. When he said that all men
might be saved, I shook, for I expected he would add, all except
those who had committed the mysterious sin; but no, all men were to
be saved who with a humble and contrite spirit would come to Jesus,
cast themselves at the foot of His cross, and accept pardon through
the merits of His blood-shedding alone. "Therefore, my friends,"
said he, in conclusion, "despair not--however guilty you may be,
despair not--however desperate your condition may seem," said he,
fixing his eyes upon me, "despair not. There is nothing more
foolish and more wicked than despair; over-weening confidence is
not more foolish than despair; both are the favourite weapons of
the enemy of souls."
'This discourse gave rise in my mind to no slight perplexity. I
had read in the Scriptures that he who committeth a certain sin
shall never be forgiven, and that there is no hope for him either
in this world or the next. And here was a man, a good man
certainly, and one who, of necessity, was thoroughly acquainted
with the Scriptures, who told me that any one might be forgiven,
however wicked, who would only trust in Christ and in the merits of
His blood-shedding. Did I believe in Christ? Ay, truly. Was I
willing to be saved by Christ? Ay, truly. Did I trust in Christ?
I trusted that Christ would save every one but myself. And why not
myself? simply because the Scriptures had told me that he who has
committed the sin against the Holy Ghost can never be saved, and I
had committed the sin against the Holy Ghost,--perhaps the only one
who ever had committed it. How could I hope? The Scriptures could
not lie, and yet here was this good old man, profoundly versed in
the Scriptures, who bade me hope; would he lie? No. But did the
old man know my case? Ah, no, he did not know my case! but yet he
had bid me hope, whatever I had done, provided I would go to Jesus.
But how could I think of going to Jesus, when the Scriptures told
me plainly that all would be useless? I was perplexed, and yet a
ray of hope began to dawn in my soul. I thought of consulting the
good man, but I was afraid he would drive away the small glimmer.
I was afraid he would say, "Oh yes, every one is to be saved,
except a wretch like you; I was not aware before that there was
anything so horrible,--begone!" Once or twice the old man
questioned me on the subject of my misery, but I evaded him; once,
indeed, when he looked particularly benevolent, I think I should
have unbosomed myself to him, but we were interrupted. He never
pressed me much; perhaps he was delicate in probing my mind, as we
were then of different persuasions. Hence he advised me to seek
the advice of some powerful minister in my own church; there were
many such in it, he said.
'I stayed several days in the family, during which time I more than
once heard my venerable friend preach; each time he preached, he
exhorted his hearers not to despair. The whole family were kind to
me; his wife frequently discoursed with me, and also the young
person to whom I have already alluded. It appeared to me that the
latter took a peculiar interest in my fate.
'At last my friend said to me, "It is now time thou shouldest
return to thy mother and thy brother." So I arose, and departed to
my mother and my brother; and at my departure my old friend gave me
his blessing, and his wife and the young person shed tears, the
last especially. And when my mother saw me, she shed tears, and
fell on my neck and kissed me, and my brother took me by the hand
and bade me welcome; and when our first emotions were subsided, my
mother said, "I trust thou art come in a lucky hour. A few weeks
ago my cousin (whose favourite thou always wast) died and left thee
his heir--left thee the goodly farm in which he lived. I trust, my
son, that thou wilt now settle, and be a comfort to me in my old
days." And I answered, "I will, if so please the Lord"; and I said
to myself, "God grant that this bequest be a token of the Lord's
'And in a few days I departed to take possession of my farm; it was
about twenty miles from my mother's house, in a beautiful but
rather wild district; I arrived at the fall of the leaf. All day
long I busied myself with my farm, and thus kept my mind employed.
At night, however, I felt rather solitary, and I frequently wished
for a companion. Each night and morning I prayed fervently unto
the Lord; for His hand had been very heavy upon me, and I feared
'There was one thing connected with my new abode which gave me
considerable uneasiness--the want of spiritual instruction. There
was a church, indeed, close at hand, in which service was
occasionally performed, but in so hurried and heartless a manner
that I derived little benefit from it. The clergyman to whom the
benefice belonged was a valetudinarian, who passed his time in
London, or at some watering-place, entrusting the care of his flock
to the curate of a distant parish, who gave himself very little
trouble about the matter. Now I wanted every Sunday to hear from
the pulpit words of consolation and encouragement, similar to those
which I had heard uttered from the pulpit by my good and venerable
friend, but I was debarred from this privilege. At length, one day
being in conversation with one of my labourers, a staid and serious
man, I spoke to him of the matter which lay heavy upon my mind;
whereupon, looking me wistfully in the face, he said, "Master, the
want of religious instruction in my church was what drove me to the
Methodists." "The Methodists," said I, "are there any in these
parts?" "There is a chapel," said he, "only half a mile distant,
at which there are two services every Sunday, and other two during
the week." Now it happened that my venerable friend was of the
Methodist persuasion, and when I heard the poor man talk in this
manner, I said to him, "May I go with you next Sunday?" "Why not?"
said he; so I went with the labourer on the ensuing Sabbath to the
meeting of the Methodists.
'I liked the preaching which I heard at the chapel very well,
though it was not quite so comfortable as that of my old friend,
the preacher being in some respects a different kind of man. It,
however, did me good, and I went again, and continued to do so,
though I did not become a regular member of the body at that time.
'I had now the benefit of religious instruction, and also to a
certain extent of religious fellowship, for the preacher and