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Memoirs of Henry Hunt, Esq. Volume 1 by Henry Hunt

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[Note:The use of quotation marks in the text does not accord with modern
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[Illustration: HENRY HUNT, ESQR.]

_Engraved by T. Woolmoth from a Drawing taken in the Kings Bench Prison
the Morning after Judgement was given._

_Published June 5, 1820 by T. Dolby 299 Strand_.


_Written by himself,_



Volume I

Whoever thinks a faultless piece to see,
Thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor e'er shall be.
In every work regard the Writer's end,
Since none can compass more than they intend;
And if the means be just, the conduct true,
Applause, in spite of trivial faults, is due.









_And particularly to the Reformers of Lancashire, who attended the Meeting
of the 16th of August, 1819, held on St Peter's Plain at Manchester, and
more especially to the Reformers of Yorkshire, in which County a Jury
found me Guilty of illegally attending that Meeting, for which, the Court
of King's Bench sentenced me to be imprisoned in Ilchester Jail for_ Two
YEARS _and_ SIX MONTHS, _and at the end of that period, to enter into
recognisances for my good behaviour, for Five Years, Myself in_ ONE

* * * * *

_Ilchester Jail, May 22, 1820_

FRIENDS AND FELLOW COUNTRYMEN, In dedicating this work to you, I will, in
the first instance, briefly record the fact, that--on Monday, the 15th day
of May, Mr. Justice Bayley, as senior puisne Judge of the court of King's
Bench, in a _mild and gentle manner_, passed the above unexampled sentence
upon me for having attended a public meeting at Manchester, by the
invitation of seven hundred inhabitant householders of that town, who
signed a requisition to the Boroughreeve to call the said meeting on the
16th day of August last, for the purpose _"of taking into consideration
the best and most legal means of obtaining a reform in the Commons House
of Parliament."_ This meeting was no sooner assembled to the number of one
hundred and fifty thousand persons, young and old of both sexes, in the
most peaceable and orderly manner, than they were assailed by the
Manchester yeomanry cavalry, who charged the multitude, sword in hand, and
without the slightest provocation or resistance on the part of the people
(as was clearly proved by the trial at York), aided by two troops of the
Cheshire yeomanry, the 15th hussars, the 81st regiment of foot, and two
pieces of flying artillery, sabred, trampled upon, and dispersed the
unoffending and unresisting people, when 14 persons were killed and
upwards of 600 wounded. I, and eleven others, having, by a mere miracle,
escaped the military execution intended for us, were seized and confined
in solitary dungeons in the New Bailey, for eleven days and nights, under
a pretended charge of high treason. At the end of that time, upon a final
examination, I was sent under a military escort, upwards of fifty miles,
to Lancaster Castle, although bail was ready, and waiting to be put in for
me. After this sentence was passed, I was sent to the King's Bench Prison,
where I was confined till four o'clock on the Wednesday following, when I
was conveyed in a chaise to this prison, where I arrived at ten o'clock
the same night, being a distance of 120 miles. Thus, after having been
confined in _three separate jails_ since the 16th of August--the New
Bailey, at Manchester, Lancaster Castle, and the King's Bench, I am doomed
finally to be incarcerated in a dungeon of this, the _fourth jail_, for
two years and six months, while _Hulton_ of _Hulton_, and those benevolent
gentlemen of the Manchester yeomanry cavalry, are at large, without even
the chance of any proceedings, that might lead to the punishment of their
crimes, being instituted against them. Yet, we are gravely told from the
bench, that the laws are equally administered to the _rich_ and to the
_poor_; of the truth of which assertion, the above will, in future ages,
appear as an unexampled specimen.

In addressing this work to you, my brave, patient, and persecuted friends,
I hope to have an opportunity of communicating with you once a month,
during my incarceration, and during the progress of the work, I shall take
care to avoid all exaggerated statements. I shall confine myself to a
strict relation of facts, and I shall be very particular not to gloss over
or slight any one political or public act of my life you shall be in
possession of the faithful history of _that man_ whom you have so
unanimously honoured by the denomination of your _champion_, and in whose
incarceration a deadly blow is, with savage ferocity, aimed at your rights
and liberties--one who, during his whole political career, will be found
to have been the consistent and undeviating advocate of _real_ or _radical
reform_, one who always, under every difficulty, at all times and seasons,
boldly and unequivocally claimed for the people, the right of every man to
have a vote for the members of the Commons House of Parliament, and who
never, under any circumstances, paltered or compromised the great
constitutional principle that "_no Englishman should be taxed without his
own consent_." Even when its most zealous professed advocates had
abandoned the intention of maintaining this proposition, even at the risk
of loosing the friendship of his dearest political connections, he stood
firm upon the solid basis of that incontrovertible principle, "_equal
justice and freedom to all_." No pretended expediency, no crafty policy,
although urged with the greatest force and zeal, by the most experienced
and acute reasoners, neither flattery, bribes, nor threats, could ever,
for one moment, shake his determination to support the principle Of
UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE, or in other words, the right of every freeman to have
a share by his representative in the making of those laws, by which his
life, his liberty, and his property, are to be governed and disposed of. I
allude, more particularly, to the meeting of delegates, (by some called
deputies) in London, some time in the beginning of the year 1817. The
principle of _Universal Suffrage_ was nothing new. I claim no merit in
having proposed any thing novel--this right is as old as the constitution
of England; it had been advocated by Sir Robert, afterwards Lord Raymond,
by Sir William Jones, and afterwards, with great perseverance and ability,
by the Duke of Richmond, who brought a bill into the House of Lords, in
which he claimed this right for the people, and proposed to carry it into
execution. At that time, however, no part of the people had petitioned for
it, and the bill was thrown out. At that period, the attention of the
populace of the metropolis was directed to other matters--they were
engaged in Lord George Gordon's disgraceful riots. The Duke of Richmond,
disgusted at the apathy of the reformers, to which he attributed the
failure of his favourite measure, soon afterwards accepted a place as
master general of the ordnance, and became a complete tool of the
ministers. The cause of reform languished till the year 1816, although
Major Cartwright, Sir F. Burdett, Mr. Cobbett, myself, and many others,
had made frequent efforts to call the people's attention to the only
measure calculated to check the progress--the fatal progress of
corruption, and its consequent effects, unjust and unnecessary war,
profligate expenditure, the funding or _swindling_ system, and the rapid
annual increase of a ruinous and irredeemable debt. It will be said that
these subjects will naturally be included in, and make part of, my
history. They certainly will, but there is one circumstance connected with
the events of 1816 and 1817, which is very imperfectly known to any of the
reformers, and which I feel it a duty to detail to them all before I
proceed any further.

In the latter end of the year 1815 and the beginning of the year 1816, the
evil effects of the war began to be severely felt amongst all classes
throughout the country; and, in the North of England, it was particularly
felt by those employed in the manufactories. Great disturbances prevailed,
and the Luddites, as they were called, committed repeated depredations, by
destroying the machinery of their employers. This ultimately led to the
employment of spies and informers, by the agents of the government; by
which means, many of the unhappy men were convicted and executed. Major
Cartwright and Mr. Cobbett, in the most laudable and praiseworthy manner,
endeavoured, by their writings, and the Major, I believe, by going amongst
them personally, to draw the attention of the starving manufacturers to
the real cause of their distress, and recommended them to petition for
reform instead of destroying the machinery. This had the desired effect,
and petitions drawn up by the Major, praying for reform in the Commons
House of Parliament, and demanding suffrage for those who paid taxes,
poured in from all quarters. In the beginning of November some persons in
London advertised and called a public meeting of the distressed
inhabitants of the metropolis, to be held in Spafields, on the 15th; this
originated with Dr. Watson and some of those who called themselves
Spenceans. As I have learned since, they sent invitations to Sir Francis
Burdett, Major Cartwright, myself, and Lord Cochrane, and even to Mr.
Waithman, and several other political characters, earnestly requesting
them to attend the meeting, to advise with and to assist their distressed
fellow creatures, as to the best means of obtaining relief. In the mean
time, the parties calling the meeting had drawn up and prepared a
_memorial_ to the Prince Regent, which was, if passed, to have been
carried immediately to Carlton House, by the whole of the meeting, and
presented in person to the Regent. When the day arrived, of all the
persons invited as political characters to the meeting, _I_ was the only
one who attended, and, having prevailed upon those who called the meeting
to abandon their famous memorial, and to relinquish the plan of going in a
body to Carlton House, I proposed the resolutions and the petition to his
Royal Highness the Prince; which the next day I caused to be presented to
him by Lord Sidmouth: on the following day his Royal Highness was pleased
so far to comply with the request of the petitioners as to send Four
Thousand Pounds as a subscription to the Spitalfields Soup Committee. The
resolutions proposed by me, and unanimously passed by the most numerous
meeting ever held in this country, avowed the principle of UNIVERSAL
SUFFRAGE; and the petition to the Regent claimed his pecuniary assistance,
as an immediate and temporary relief; but declared that the petitioners
had no hope or expectation of permanent prosperity and happiness, till a
reform of Parliament was effected, which would give to _every man_ a vote
in the representation. This was, therefore, the first time that _universal
suffrage_ was petitioned for at a public meeting; and I had the honour,
and I shall ever feel a pride in the reflection, of being the first man
who publicly proposed at a meeting of the reformers this measure, and of
having caused to be presented the first petition to the throne, praying
the Prince to assist the people in recovering their right of universal
suffrage, in the election of members of the House of Commons. You must all
recollect the infamous manner in which I was attacked and assailed by the
whole of the daily London Press at that time, with the single exception of
_the Statesman_. However, the reformers of the north, south, east, and
west, became instantly alive to the appeal that was made to them in the
resolutions passed at Spa Fields; public meetings were held, and petitions
to the House of Commons were signed, all praying for _universal suffrage_;
and, by the time of the meeting of Parliament, the delegates from
petitioning bodies came up to town, in consequence of a circular letter
signed by Sir Francis Burdett, to consult, and to settle upon the extent
of suffrage and other matters to be recommended, for the adoption of all
the petitioning bodies of reformers throughout the country. This was most
unnecessary, for they had, _one and all_, already adopted the principle,
and followed the example, set them by the inhabitants of the metropolis at
Spa Fields. When the delegates were arrived from _Scotland, Yorkshire,
Lancashire,_ and most of the counties in the north, from _Bath, Bristol,_
and other places in the west, with the petitions entrusted to them, the
signatures to which, together with those of the petitions previously sent
up, did not amount to less than half a million; I came to town as the
delegate from Bath and Bristol, both of which cities had held public
meetings, most numerously attended, and passed similar resolutions to
those agreed to at Spa Fields. The Reformers from each of those cities had
sent me up a petition, to be presented to the House of Commons, praying
for _universal suffrage_, one signed by 24,000 and the other by 25,000
persons. To be brief here, (for I shall detail the circumstances more
fully hereafter, as they make a most important epoch of my life); the
delegates met, 63 in number, at the Crown and Anchor, Major Cartwright in
the chair, who, together with Mr. Jones Burdett, attended as a deputation
from the Hampden Club. The Major, in opening the business of the day,
stated that the members of the Hampden Club, with Sir Francis Burdett at
their head, had come to a resolution to support suffrage to the extent of
householders, _and no further,_ and that they recommended the adoption of
this plan to the delegates. The Major was particularly eloquent, and went
out of the usual course of a chairman, by requesting, almost as a personal
favour to himself, that the delegates would adopt the recommendation of
the Hampden Club. Mr. Cobbett then rose, and, in a speech replete with
every argument which this most clear and powerful reasoner could suggest,
proposed the first resolution, that the meeting should adopt the
recommendation of the Hampden Club, and agree to recommend the reformers
to petition to the extent of _householder suffrage only;_ urging, as Major
Cartwright had done before, the necessity of agreeing to this plan,
because Sir F. Burdett had positively refused to support any petitions for
universal suffrage. This resolution was seconded by Mr. Jno. Allen, my
brother delegate, from Bath, although he had positive instructions not to
agree to any thing short of universal suffrage; but Mr. Cobbett's powerful
though fallacious reasoning, had convinced him, of the necessity of
curtailing the right to householders only. I rose and moved an amendment,
substituting _universal_ for _householder suffrage_, and, with all the
reasoning and energy in my power, I combated the arguments of my friends
Cobbett and Major Cartwright, deprecating the narrow-minded policy that
would deprive 3-4ths of the population of the inherent birthright of every
freeman. My proposition, and the whole of the arguments I used in its
support, were received by a very large majority of the delegates with
enthusiastic approbation; so much so, that it convinced Mr. Cobbett of the
folly as well as the inutility of persisting in his motion. My amendment
having been seconded by Mr. Hulme, from Bolton in Lancashire, and being
supported by a very ingenious argument of my brave friend and fellow
prisoner (now in Lincoln Castle) Mr. Bamford, Mr. Cobbett rose and begged
to withdraw his motion, he having been convinced of the practicability of
universal suffrage by the speech of Mr. Bamford, who had at the time only
said a few words upon that subject. The question was put, and _principle_
carried it against _policy_, there being for my amendment I think 60, and
only 3 for the householder plan. Thus then, my friends, whether I was
right or whether I was wrong, I not only was the first to propose the
adoption of the wild and visionary scheme of _universal suffrage_ at a
great public meeting, but I also stood firm to the cause, when those who
have since so ably advocated the principle, were (in evil hour) from
policy about to abandon it. Let, therefore, all the blame of the reformers
having so determinedly advocated the wild and visionary scheme of
_universal suffrage_ rest upon my shoulders, which, thank God, are quite
broad enough to bear it without feeling it in any degree burdensome,
particularly as Sir F. Burdett has at length come fully up to our mark.
From that time to this I have never deviated from, never shifted to the
right or to the left, but always, at all times, through good report, and
through evil report, undisguisedly enforced and maintained, with all the
ability I possessed, the right of the whole of my fellow-countrymen to be
fairly and freely represented, in the Commons House of Parliament. If
there be any merit in what was then called a stubborn and pertinacious
adherence to this great principle, I am only entitled to share that merit
jointly with Mr. Hulme, Mr. Bamford, and the other brave and patriotic men
who came from different parts of the country, as delegates. Without their
manly support, this measure would have been lost, and the reformers
throughout the kingdom would then have been recommended to abandon the
high ground they had taken; to give up petitions, already signed by half a
million of men for _universal suffrage_; and in its stead to petition for
suffrage to the extent of _householders_, or to the payers of _direct
taxes_ ONLY.--Having established this position, for the correctness of
which I appeal to all the delegates who were present, I shall leave it for
the present, although there are very important matters, and some _very
curious circumstances_ connected with the events of that period, which
have never yet appeared before the public, which must come out, and which
will form a very material part of my history. The government, or rather
the ministers, had their eye upon this meeting of delegates, and they well
knew ALL that passed there; and I should not be surprised if six months of
my imprisonment may be fairly placed to the account of what the editor of
the Macclesfield Courier called, "my most uncompromising
perseverance."--The editor of an obscure Sunday London Newspaper, in
observing upon my sentence, says most exultingly, "_The game its now
up_--with this man we have done, to the people we now turn:" and what do
you think he means to do, how does he propose to relieve their distresses?
In speaking of your prospects of relief he says "_Suffer they must for a
time, it would be vain to deny this, it would be dishonest to hold out any
OR SHORT." So this gentleman tells you first that the game is up, and then
he consoles you by telling you that the game is in your own hands. Was
there ever such paltering, ever such base and stupid attempts to delude
rational beings? The _Morning Post_ of the 23d of May, a few days after my
sentence, gives vent to his malignant joy in the following words.

"The political matters of fact of the last month will descend to
posterity as the proudest _mementos_ of the age in which we
live; never at any period since Trial by Jury has been the
stipulation of our allegiance, never has that grand perfection
of Justice been more sacredly guarded. The trial of Mr. HUNT at
York is a precedent of almost unattainable impartiality in
judicial proceedings. Pending that trial the reports of its
progress gave radicalism a confidence it undisguisedly evinced,
that the result would be favourable to its heart's worst wishes.
The _Io Paens_ of Faction were in full rehearsal, when the
bringers of _evil tidings_ announced the triumph of Truth. The
conviction of a _burlesque on baronetcy_ was expected in sulky
helplessness--but the overthrow of the CHAMPION of LIBERTY, the
ORATOR whose eloquence was to have been the passing dirge of
Justice--_his_ overthrow was the overthrow of thousands. With
_his_, hearts sunk, and menaces grew silent; the monster at his
whetstone dropped the half-sharpened dagger at the conviction of
_Henry Hunt_; and the tool of his excitement unscrewed the
pike-head and threw away the musquet. I have no hesitation in
declaring, that _all_ the numerous verdicts for the Crown, that
of late have asserted the majesty of Law, including the
convictions of high treason, have not done HALF so much for the
real interest of social quiet, as the radically never-dreamt-of
conviction of '_the Lord of the Manor of Glastonbury_.'"

This you see, my friends of Yorkshire, is meant to quiet the conscience of
Mr. SEPTIMUS BROMLEY and his brother TALESMAN. The SPECIAL Gentlemen being
above any thing of the sort. I wish some friend who lives near the said
_Septimus_ would give me a line, and tell me who and what he is, and what
he says for himself. I hope some radical in his neighbourhood will send me
a good and particular account of this gentleman. But I see by the
Newspapers that the _game is not quite up_, or if it is, a new game is
begun. If the Honourable House have got rid of one set of petitioners, a
new set is sprung up, not of radicals to be sure, but a set of
agriculturists, merchants, manufacturers, and shipowners, who all appear
to be petitioning against each other, or at least each of them is
petitioning for that which would add to the distress and ruin of the
other. The Honourable House is placed in a very ticklish and delicate
situation. It does not dare to serve the petitions of these new applicants
as they did our petitions, my friends for reform--kick them out of the
House; but having for the present got rid of the radicals, they have now
plenty of leisure to attend to the numerous petitions of all the rest of
the community. The Yeomanry Cavalry, good souls they are in distress, and
they want another CORN BILL. But then you see his Majesty's Ministers,
kind-hearted creatures, and the considerate merchants, the _Barings_, and
the _Ricardos_, they say this must not be. By management the _New Corn
Bill_ gentry got a majority: my Lord Castlereagh is quite shocked, and
even Mr. Holme Sumner, benevolent heart, he is quite astounded with the
unexpected and undeserved success of his own motion. Mark their
proceedings well, my friends--for you to petition I fear will be in vain,
but mark their proceedings. It so very much resembles the proceedings when
the last Corn Bill was passed, that I have little doubt there is foul play
going on somewhere. The farmers cannot pay their _rents, rates_, and
_taxes_ unless they can do it by a rise in the price of the _quartern
loaf_. Baring and Ricardo do not approve of this--each of them has his
scheme for the relief of the general distress, agricultural and all.
Baring hints, but he only hints, at something _tangible_, he hints that
_rents should be lowered_, and his brother stock-jobber, Ricardo, proposes
then to pay off the national debt, by making the land-holders pay down at
once 15 per cent. upon the value of their estates. The Honourable Members
stare with astonishment at the propositions of these wise law-givers--and
well they may. Although the "game may be up;" although the assertion of
the editor of the Morning Post may be true, "that the verdict against
Henry Hunt has proved the overthrow of thousands, and rendered twice as
much service to the real interest of social quiet, as ALL the other
verdicts for the crown put together;" yet I perceive by the language of a
petition from the inhabitants of the town of Kirkeaton, presented to the
Honourable House by my Lord Milton, that even the locking me up in a jail,
in consequence of this verdict, has neither contributed to remove the
distress, nor to put food into the mouths of the poor reformers of
Kirkeaton. Good God of Heaven! what must Lord Milton be made of to
present, _merely present, mind_, a petition shewing that 1729 of his
constituents, in one parish had been, and were living, or rather starving,
upon 11 3/4_d_. each per week, that the average income of 1729 human
beings in that county, Yorkshire, where he is their _virtual
representative_, is under _one shilling_ per head per week?--Gracious God!
the present member for this county, Sir Thomas Lethbridge, once declared
in the Honourable House, that the language of Sir Francis Burdett made
_"his hair stand on end upon his head."_ To have seen Lord Milton present
such a petition as this, to have heard the officer of the Honourable House
mumble out a description, a recital of the privations and cruel sufferings
of my poor insulted fellow countrymen of Kirkeaton, without rising to say
one word in their behalf; without calling down the vengeance of Heaven and
Earth upon the heads of those who had by their acts reduced the country to
such a state of wretchedness and woe; to have witnessed this, I say,
although it might not have made my hair stand on end, it would, I am sure,
have chilled every drop of blood in my body. I can conscientiously say,
that the mere reading in the Times newspaper the account of your cruel
sufferings, my poor countrymen of Kirkeaton, has given me more pain than a
years' imprisonment would have done, if I could have known that you were
enjoying a fair equivalent for your honest industry. Talk of imprisonment
indeed! why it is a perfect Paradise compared with the wants and
privations which you are doomed to endure. The situation of a prisoner in
this jail, let him be confined for any thing less than high treason or
murder, is heaven upon earth compared to your lot. Let us see; there is a
prisoner who is appointed to wait upon me here, an old soldier, who has
enjoyed rank in the army as an adjutant, but having a large family, and
meeting with many reverses of fortune, he became reduced in his
circumstances, and, in consequence of great persecutions, was at length
driven to seek relief from the parish. The sufferings and privations of
his wife and children daily stared him in the face, without even the hope
of relief; and, brooding over his unmerited persecutions and neglect, he
was driven to drinking, &c. In a fit of temporary delirium he attempted to
lay violent hands upon himself and wife, for which he is sentenced to be
imprisoned here for twelve months. His wife and family are supported by
the parish; and I will now tell you what he receives for his week's
allowance, exclusive of clothes, lodging, fire, and washing, all found by
the county. He gets _one pound and a half of good bread and one penny
every day_. Ten pounds and a half of good white bread, and sevenpence to
purchase potatoes and salt, or milk, per week. Bread and pence, at the
very lowest, two shillings and six-pence per week. Now, if we reckon one
shilling and six-pence, at the very lowest rate, for _washing, lodging,
clothing_, and _firing_, which are all found in plenty and very good of
the sort, he receives the value of four shillings per week. The bread, &c.
is quite as much as, or rather more than, a moderate man can eat; and this
person, who has seen a great deal of the world, seriously informs me that
he enjoys here, happiness, ease, and comfort, compared to what he had to
encounter out of prison; and as he professes to be very well pleased with
waiting upon me, he dreads the approach of his release. Every person in
the jail has the same allowance, and if they choose to work, the Governor
enables them to earn from threepence up to one shilling a-day over.

Now, my good friends of Kirkeaton, although I will not recommend you to do
any thing to get sent to jail, yet, I will tell you what I would do if I
were in your situation. I would work hard from Monday to Saturday, and at
the end of the week if I found that my wages were not sufficient to
support myself, my wife, and children, in the common necessaries of life,
I would, on the following Monday, try a fresh plan. Instead of going to
work, I would go to a neighbouring magistrate, Lord Milton, or Lord
Fitzwilliam, for instance, if they were within reach, and I would tell him
that I had left my wife and family chargeable to the parish, as I was
unable to support them by my labour; but as I knew the leaving of my
family as an incumbrance upon the parish was an offence against the laws,
for which I was liable to be committed to prison, and as I did not wish to
give the parish officers more trouble than was absolutely necessary, I had
come to request his lordship to make out my mittimus, that I might go to
jail as soon and as peaceably as possible. I know what the corrupt knave
of the Morning Post will say, "Ha! he is in a prison himself, and he wants
now to get all his followers there also." But suppose this were the case,
which it is not, you would not, could not, be worse off than Lord Milton's
constituents are. But I have said this a thousand times within the last
five years; nay, I always said this, seeing that a poor labouring man is
twice as well off in a jail as he is out of it, as to meat, drink,
washing, and lodging.

Now, my friends and fellow countrymen, the writing the history of my own
life, during my confinement in a prison, will not, I trust, be considered
presumption in me; because I follow the example of Sir Walter Raleigh and
many other patriotic and eminent men who have gone before me. I am not
much of a copyist, but I am not ashamed of being accused of endeavouring
to imitate the brave and persecuted Napoleon, who is writing his Memoirs
during his imprisonment on the barren rock of St. Helena. Napoleon I
esteem the most illustrious and eminent man of the present age, both as a
profound statesman and a brave and matchless general. Although he never
appeared to evince so sincere a desire as could be wished, to promote the
universal liberty of man to the extent that I contend, and have always
contended for, yet, when I reflect upon the period in which his energetic
mind was allowed to have its full scope of action, and when I recollect
the powerful armies and fleets that he had to contend with, and the
phalanx of tyrants who were at various times leagued together against him,
I am disposed not to examine too nicely and with too critical an eye the
means that he used to defend himself against their unceasing endeavours to
destroy him, and to restore the old tyranny of the Bourbons. He is, like
myself, a prisoner, and imprisoned by the same power; only in his case
they have not even the _forms_ of law to justify them in his detention. He
is a prisoner upon a barren rock, but I have not the least hesitation in
pronouncing him to have been, both in the cabinet and the field, as to
talent and courage, unrivalled in the pages of modern or ancient history.
Neither the reformers nor the people of England had any share in sending
him to St. Helena, nor ought they in fairness to participate in the
disgrace of his detention.

In my humble judgment, the greatest fault he ever committed was, in having
too good an opinion of the justice of the boroughmongers, and relying upon
the liberality of their agents, so far as to be betrayed into that net
which now surrounds him. He always appeared to admire our courts of
justice; but he knew nothing of our system of packing SPECIAL JURIES.

In the progress of this work I shall give a brief delineation of the
political movements of the last twelve or fourteen years, or at least of
those events that came within my knowledge, which I believe will include
almost every thing relating to reform and the public characters who have
taken any part in promoting or retarding that desirable object. These
public characters consist of George the Third down to Arthur Thistlewood
inclusive, who are dead and gone; of those who are yet living from George
the Fourth down to Mr. Cobler Preston and Mr. Billsticker Waddington. The
public events will more particularly include the History of the great
Public Meetings held within the last twelve years in Wiltshire, Hampshire,
Somersetshire, Middlesex, London, Westminster, Bristol, Bath, Spa-fields,
Smithfield and Manchester, as well as those held at the Crown & Anchor and
the Freemason's and London Taverns; and likewise of the contested
elections of Bristol, Westminster, London, Bridport, Ludgershal and
Preston, at all of which I took an active part, and therefore am enabled
to detail many curious and interesting anecdotes, facts, intrigues, plots,
under-plots, cabals, &c. which were never before presented to the public,
and which circumstances, together with the secret springs and actions of
those who worked in the back ground, which have hitherto been very
imperfectly understood, shall be brought to light and faithfully recorded;
taking due care not to betray any confidential communications. I shall,
also, as is usual, or at least as is very common, give a short sketch of
my ancestors, not because I can show a long line of them up to the
Conquest, (nor because I esteem this a circumstance to boast of), but I
shall state facts as they have been handed down from father to son by old
family documents, regardless of the sneers of those who, at the same time
and in the very same breath in which they affect to ridicule and despise
all distinctions of this sort, fall themselves into a much greater error
and indulge in a much less excusable folly; that of holding up to public
admiration, esteem and confidence, their own offspring, and bedaubing them
with the most fulsome adulation merely because they are their own progeny;
although every other person except themselves can clearly perceive that
they neither possess talent, intellect, public spirit, nor any other
qualification calculated either to amuse or to instruct. When I see a
sensible man in other respects fall into an inconsistency of this sort, I
am always reminded of the fable of the _Eagle, the Owl, and her young
ones_. The fact is, that I am more proud of my father than of any of my
ancestors, because I know him to have been an excellent and an honest man,
and one who by his industry and talent became a second founder of his
family. But as the object of my labours will be to give you a faithful
history of my _own life_, it is of very little consequence either to you
or me whether I ever had a grand father or not, except as far as relates
to the coincidence of the events of the present time with those which
occurred in the reigns of Charles the First and Second, and during the
protectorship of Cromwell. It may not be amiss to remind you that the
brave and enlightened patriot, _Prynne_, was imprisoned at Dunster Castle
in _this county_ by the tyrant Charles the First. Prynne had his nose
slit, and his ears cut off, for speaking and writing his mind; but it must
not be forgotten, that he lived to see the _tyrant's head struck off_, and
the _infamous judge_ who passed the _cruel sentence_ upon him, brought to
a _just and exemplary punishment_.

In the confident hope that we shall live to see better days, our Country
restored to prosperity, and its inhabitants to freedom and happiness,

I remain,

My friends and fellow-countrymen,

Your faithful and sincere humble servant,




I was born at Widdington Farm, in the parish of Upavon, in the county of
Wilts, on the 6th day of Nov. 1773, and am descended from as ancient and
respectable a family as any in that county, my forefather having arrived
in England with, and attended William the Conqueror, as a colonel in that
army, with which he successfully invaded this country. He became possessed
of very considerable estates in the counties of Wilts and Somerset, which
passed from father to son, down to the period of the civil wars in the
reign of Charles the First, when, in consequence of the tyrannical
government of that weak and wicked prince, _resistance became a duty_;
and, at length, after having by the means of _corrupt judges and packed
juries_, not only amerced and incarcerated, but caused to be executed many
of the wisest, bravest, and most patriotic men of the age, the tyrant was
ultimately brought to justice, and forfeited his head upon a scaffold,
having first been compelled to sign the death warrant for his favourite,
Lord Strafford[1]. When the commonwealth was established, and Cromwell
declared Lord Protector, my great great grandfather, colonel Thomas Hunt,
who was in possession of those estates in Wiltshire, unfortunately took a
decided and prominent part in favour of Charles the Second, who had fled,
and was then remaining in France, waiting an opportunity for his
restoration, and instigating those who were known to be his partisans in
this country, to resist and overthrow the _government and constitution of
the country as then by law established_. Charles was in constant
correspondence with my forefather colonel Hunt, who together with Mr.
Grove and Mr. Penruddock, were all country gentlemen of large property and
considerable influence, residing in the county of Wilts, and avowed
royalists firmly attached to the family of Stuart. And as it was well
known by Cromwell that Charles had a number of powerful partisans in
various parts of the kingdom, he took good care to have all their motions
well watched, and as he kept a host of spies in his employ, they found it
next to impossible to form or arrange any general plan of co-operation,
without its coming to the knowledge of his agents. Many well-digested
schemes had been detected and frustrated, by these watchful well-paid
minions of the Protector, but the royalists were not to be deterred from
their purpose, although many of them received intimation from Oliver that
he was aware of all their plans and intentions: he resting satisfied with
this knowledge, and the conviction that he not only kept their restless
spirits in check, but that he was at all times prepared to put them down
with a high hand, in case they should ever dare to break out into open
violence, or attempt to put their intentions into execution. However, as
Hunt, Grove, and Penruddock, with many other friends in the West, became
very impatient; it was agreed to attempt a general communication by means
of a meeting of the disaffected at[2] a great stag hunt, which was
announced to be about to take place somewhere in the forest, in the
neighbourhood of Wokingham, between Reading and Windsor. To this stag hunt
all the known partisans of the house of Stuart were invited; and when
assembled there in great numbers from all parts of the kingdom, it was
agreed among them, that each man should raise a force agreeable to his
means, some horse and some foot, by a particular day, in order to attack
the troops of Cromwell, who was a great deal too wary and cunning to
suffer such an extraordinary assembly, under any circumstances, and
particularly of such suspicious persons as those who attended the hunt
were known to be, without sending some of his agents to join them, whereby
he might become acquainted with whatever project they might have in
contemplation. They all departed after the hunt was over, having fixed to
be ready and join in the field by a particular day. Cromwell's agents did
their duty, and he was no sooner informed of the plan which was laid, than
he made all due preparation for meeting any force that might be brought
into the field against him by these powerful malcontents. He not only did
this, but he employed his agents to win over some of the most formidable
of his adversaries, by bribes and promises. Having succeeded in this, he
wrote to all the remaining conspirators, and informed them separately,
that he was perfectly aware of all their plots, and of their intention to
bring a force into the field against him on a particular day; he assured
them that he had made all necessary preparations, not only to meet, and to
defeat them with an overwhelming force of well-disciplined troops, but
that he had also made friends of some of those on whom the conspirators
placed their greatest reliance. He concluded by saying, that, as their
project would be sure to end in discomfiture, ruin, and disgrace, he
advised them to abandon their plan altogether; and in that case he
promised each of the parties his pardon, and that it should be taken no
further notice of. This had the desired effect with most of the numerous
partisans of Charles, who had pledged themselves to take the field; for
when they found that all their plans had come to the knowledge of
Cromwell, they anticipated that he would be prepared to meet them with
such a force as it would not be prudent in them to encounter, and, as
prudence is the better part of valour, they at once abandoned their
intended insurrection, and trusted to the clemency of him whom they had
resolved to hurl from the eminence which they professed to say he had
usurped. Not so with the three Wiltshire royalists; they also had received
the circular intimation from Cromwell, but they scorned to be worse than
their words, they took no notice of his proffered pardon, they each raised
a troop of horse as they had promised, and having armed and accoutred
their men by the time appointed, they marched into Salisbury, where
Cromwell's judges were then holding the assizes, and without any further
ceremony struck the first blow, by consigning the Lord Protector's judges
to prison, having liberated the prisoners they were about to try.

The next day they marched into Hampshire towards the appointed rendezvous,
as had been previously agreed upon; but when they arrived there, instead
of meeting, as they expected, any of their friends who were parties at the
stag hunt, they found Cromwell's army who had intimation of their
movements, already there in considerable force, ready to overwhelm them.
However, Cromwell, as usual, endeavoured to carry his point by policy; in
the first instance, rather than sacrifice any lives in such an unequal
conflict, he sent a flag of truce, and promised if they would lay down
their arms they should be pardoned, and all officers and men might return
to their homes without any molestation. A consultation and council of war
was held, when Grove, Hunt, and Penruddock came to a determination to die
sword in hand rather than trust to the clemency of him, whom they deemed
an usurper, and they returned an answer accordingly. In the meantime,
Oliver had sent some of his agents amongst the men, to whom they pointed
out the desperate situation in which their commanders had placed them, and
urged them at once to accept the offer of the Protector and return to
their homes; and when Grove, Hunt, and Penruddock ordered their men to
prepare for the attack, they one and all refused, and immediately lay down
their arms, upon which they were instantly surrounded, and made prisoners;
and instead of Cromwell keeping his word with these poor fellows, he
ordered every common man to be instantly hung upon the boughs of trees and
elsewhere, and the officers to be committed to three separate jails in the
West of England upon a charge of high treason, for making war against the
troops of the Commonwealth, in order to depose the Protector, and with an
intent to alter the government and constitution of the country, as by the
then law established. Upon which charge they were tried, found guilty, and
sentenced by the very judges whom they had before imprisoned at Salisbury,
to be hanged, drawn, and quartered, but upon petition their sentence was
mitigated by Cromwell to that of being beheaded. Colonel Hunt was sent
back after trial to be executed at this very jail, and possibly might have
been confined, if not in the same room, upon the very same spot wherein
his descendant is now writing the account of the transaction, which has
descended by tradition and written documents to him as the heir of the
family, and which written documents in proof thereof, are now in his
possession. However, be that as it may, it is therein recorded that Hunt's
two sisters, Elizabeth and Margery, came to visit him the night previous
to his execution, which was ordered to take place at day-break the next
morning. The regulations of the jail not being so strictly performed as
they are now, his sister Margery slept in his bed all night, while the
Colonel, who had dressed himself in her clothes, walked out of the prison
unperceived with his sister Elizabeth and escaped; but, as it is recorded
by himself, being a stranger in the neighbourhood, and fearful of keeping
in the high-way, he had lost himself in the night and had wandered about,
so that when day-light arrived he had not got so far from the jail but
that he heard the bell toll for his execution. At this awful period he met
a collier carrying a bag of coals upon his horse, and having ascertained
by some conversation that he had with him, that he was friendly to the
cause of the Stuarts and hostile to the Protector, he was induced to
discover himself, and to place his person and his life in his power, of
which he had no reason to repent, as the man proved faithful, and assisted
him to escape to France, where he remained with the second Charles, and
returned in company with him at the time of the restoration.

As the circumstances attending his escape are in my opinion very
interesting, I shall give them as they have been handed down to me,
although they may be by some considered as tedious in the detail; yet as
they are circumstances very imperfectly recorded, only in the early
editions of Lord Clarendon's History of the Rebellion, and as they relate
to events somewhat similar to the present times, wherein a prominent part
was taken by one of my forefathers, I trust that they will not be esteemed
superfluous, as making a component part of my memoirs, in reference to the
political part taken by one of my family at this important epoch of the
English history. The collier took him up behind on his horse, dressed as
he was in female attire, and having struck across the country by some
private roads, he arrived at his habitation, a lone cottage situated on
the side of a large common, where he remained concealed, anxiously
awaiting the approach of night, and dreading[3] every moment the
appearance of the officers of justice in pursuit of their victim. In the
mean time the collier had procured two muskets and a blunderbuss, which he
had got loaded, determined to stand by the Colonel, who, if driven to
extremities, was resolved to sell his life as dearly as possible, but not
to be taken again alive. But, to return to the jail; when the officers of
death arrived to unbolt the door of the intended victim, what must have
been their surprise and indignation to have found in his bed a woman, a
brave and patriotic female, who gloried in having saved the life of a high
spirited and beloved brother! With what delight have we read of the
conduct of Madame Lavalette, who saved her husband from an untimely death
by similar means, who, by her virtuous devotion, rescued the victim marked
out for the treacherous revenge of a weak, wicked, and pusillanimous
prince; with what pleasure has every humane and patriotic bosom been
roused into admiration, at the noble, generous, and successful exertions
of Sir R. Wilson and his friends, to assist in snatching the life of that
devoted victim, from the bloody hand of the executioner! But many brave
men have voluntarily sacrificed themselves to save the life of a friend;
in the pages of history, we find that many an excellent wife has done the
same to save a beloved husband; but where shall we find a similar instance
of disinterested devotion in a sister?--To be the descendant of such a
woman--to bear the same name and belong to her family, is in itself
something that I am proud to boast of. With what delight have I (while yet
a boy) listened to this recital, while my father dwelt on it with rapture;
his eye glistening with a dignified pride as he recounted the tale of this
heroine of the family! How often have I been sent up stairs to unlock the
old oak chest, and to bring down the musty records of these eventful days,
that they might be unrolled either to refresh my father's memory, or to
vouch for particular acts and circumstances! How many times, subsequently,
has it been my lot to turn to this or that particular event, and while he
enjoyed his pipe, how often did I at his command read the minute detail as
I found it written, upon the old musty parchments and papers! However, to
proceed, Colonel Desbrow, who then had the command of Oliver's troops at
this place, was instantly informed of the flight of the prisoner; he
ordered Margery to appear before him, which she did habited in her
brother's clothes, and he threatened to have her executed instantly,
without judge or jury, in her brother's stead, if she did not immediately
inform him of the whole plot, and assist in the re-capture of her brother.
She calmly replied, that she had not the least objection to comply with
his demand as far as she knew of the plot. She confessed that she went
into the prison to visit her brother with the intention to effect his
escape if possible; that neither her brother, nor even her sister, had the
slightest knowledge of her intentions till she proposed it to him in the
prison, that there she found him resigned to his fate, and it was with the
greatest difficulty that she at last prevailed upon him to put it into
practice; that all she knew of him was, that he had left the room with her
sister Elizabeth, but which way or where he was gone she knew nothing;
then, with great and dignified firmness, she added, even if she had known
any thing of his route, Colonel Desbrow must be aware, that as she had the
courage and goodness to plan and effect his escape, no threats, not even
the torture, should induce her to do any thing that might place him in
their power again. Elizabeth was instantly taken into custody and examined
also, but she knew nothing more than her sister. They were both consigned
to the dungeon that he had quitted, and the scaffold, although it remained
fixed for some days, it mourned for the loss of its victim, and the gaping
multitude daily stared in vain for the consummation of the bloody
sacrifice. Col. Desbrow sent off dispatches to the Government, raised a
Hue and Cry to search every house they came to, and dispatched messengers
to all the out-ports, so that neither pains, expense, nor trouble were
spared to retake the fugitive. In the mean time the sentence of Grove and
Penruddock was put in execution. They were both beheaded on the same
morning, one at Exeter, and the other at some other jail. It is a very
remarkable coincidence of circumstances, that at the time myself, the
lineal heir and descendant of Colonel Hunt, am confined in this jail by
the state policy of the day, Colonel Desbrow, the lineal descendant of the
very Colonel Desbrow, who then had the command of this district as a
soldier and servant of Cromwell, is at this very time an officer in the
service of the present reigning family, and, I believe, an attendant about
the person of the Sovereign. Colonel Hunt remained concealed in the
cottage of his protector, but when night came they were too agitated to
retire to rest; they therefore barricadoed the door of their little
fortress as well as they could, and, having put out the lights, took their
station at the bed-room window, each with a loaded firelock, and all the
arms and ammunition they could muster for re-loading, preparatory to the
best and most determined defence in case of necessity. In this they were
ably and resolutely assisted by the wife of the collier, both of whom are
recorded to have evinced the most heroic courage, coolness, and presence
of mind upon this, to them, desperate and trying occasion, which qualities
were soon put to the test, by the sudden and boisterous arrival of the
_Hue & Cry_, consisting of 8 or 10 mounted troops, accompanied by an
officer belonging to the Sheriff. As that which followed relating to this
rencontre is described minutely, and in the most simple manner, I will
give it _verbatim_, as I find it recorded in the family document, from
which I have taken the whole narrative. Colonel Hunt and the Collier were
standing at the window, each with a loaded musket; the collier's wife
stood behind, with a loaded blunderbuss in one hand, and with the other
she was to supply the powder and slugs, for they had no ball, for
reloading. They were in this order when the commander of the gang loudly
halloed and demanded admittance. This, as was agreed upon by the party
within, was repeated three times before any answer was given, or any
movement made from within. At length, the Collier opened the casement of
the thatched cottage, and, rubbing his eyes as if he had just awoke out of
his first sleep, he exclaimed, in the broad Somersetshire dialect, "What's
thow want makin such a naise there?" The reply was, "We want admittance:
we are the Hue and Cry, come to search every house for a prisoner that has
escaped from Ilchester jail in woman's clothes." At which the Collier
exclaimed, "Ha, ha, ha! what a pack of fools, to come to look for a man in
woman's clothes at this time o' the night." The officer, with a stern
voice, demanded immediate admittance, saying, that they had a warrant,
signed by Colonel Desbrow, for searching every house; and that, unless he
came down and opened the door, they would force their way in immediately;
upon which the Collier turned round and said, as if speaking to his wife,
"Come, dame, you must get up and strike a light, and we will let the
gentlemen in presently." There was then some pretended delay in finding
the tinder-box, and at length the Collier began striking the steel with
the flint, and, after bestowing a few curses on the dampness of the
tinder, intentionally struck down the tinderbox, tinder and all, upon
which he said, "There, now, they must come in and search in the dark." All
this time they were actually preparing to fire upon the Hue and Cry, and
just as they had taken aim, and were upon the point of drawing their
triggers, the Captain of the gang gave the Collier two or three heavy
curses, and said to his men, "Come, let us be off to some more likely
place: there is nobody here but that stupid fellow, that does not appear
to know his right hand from his left." They therefore galloped off to
search the next house, leaving to Colonel Hunt and his faithful friends in
adversity, the uninterrupted possession of his safe and secure retreat;
where he remained concealed, till, in the disguise of some of the
Collier's clothes, he contrived, soon afterwards, to escape to France,
accompanied by his friend. He was received by Charles with open arms, with
every demonstration of gratitude, and professions of future reward, in
case he should succeed in re-establishing himself upon the throne of
England. In the meanwhile, Cromwell, enraged at the escape of one, who had
discovered such intrepid and persevering hostility to his power,
confiscated the whole of his estates, kept his sisters, Elizabeth and
Margery, close prisoners in this jail, and frequently threatened to
execute the latter, unless Hunt would return from France, and surrender
himself to his fate. This reaching the ears of Colonel Hunt in France, and
fearing for the safety of such excellent sisters, he at length resolved to
return and rescue them from their unpleasant and precarious situation, by
resigning himself into the hands of Cromwell.--Charles remonstrated in
vain, as Hunt appeared resolute in his determination. The Prince,
therefore, put him under arrest, and forcibly detained him in custody to
prevent him from surrendering himself. His two sisters were confined _two
years._ When they were set at liberty, Charles released him from his
confinement; he remained in constant attendance about his person, returned
with him in the same vessel, and assisted in his restoration to the
throne, which had been withheld from him during the life of Cromwell.

Colonel Hunt, as well as all his friends, expected the immediate
restoration of his estates, which had been confiscated. In fact no one
could have expected less than this act of justice at least, in return for
his long, zealous and faithful services. But, on the contrary, the secret
advisers of the grateful prince recommended to him by all means to
endeavour to conciliate his enemies, and to let his friends shift for
themselves, which advice he followed to the letter in this instance. As
Colonel Hunt's estates had fallen into powerful hands, Charles absolutely
refused to take any measures for their restoration. Thus was this faithful
partisan of royalty rewarded for all his services, by one of the basest
acts of ingratitude that ever disgraced the character even of a prince.
How truly verified was the prophetic and sublime admonition of Scripture,
"Put not your trust in princes." However, Colonel Hunt was offered the
Chancellorship of the Duchy of Lancaster for life, which offer he
indignantly refused, and in disgust retired into the country, where he
married and passed the remainder of his life in tranquillity, accompanied
by his sisters, upon a small estate in the parish of Enford in the county
of Wilts, which had been overlooked by the agents of Cromwell. Here, with
the property he had with his lady, and the wreck of his fortune, he
sustained the character of a gentleman to a good old age, leaving an only
son, to whom Queen Anne gave the colonelcy of a regiment of foot. This was
the last of my family who was ever in the employment of the government, or
who ever received one shilling of the public money in any capacity

This little estate descended to my grandfather, who married Miss Biggs of
Stockton, and, at his death, it came, considerably encumbered, to my
father, in the year 1774, the year after I was born. Finding, during the
life time of his father, that this was a very poor property to live upon
as a gentleman, he turned his mind to business, and to the improvement of
his fortune. He married at the age of forty-one to Miss Powell who was
only nineteen, the eldest daughter of a respectable farmer of Week near
Devizes, and went to live at Widdington, in the parish of Upavon, a lone
farm situated upon Salisbury Plain, not within one mile of any other house
whatever. The 6th day of November, 1773, gave birth to the author of these
memoirs, and as I was the first born, my father having a great deal of the
old family pride about him, the event was commemorated in a very memorable
and extraordinary manner. It was the custom of the country to celebrate
the birth of a child by inviting the friends and neighbours to partake of
a _sugar-toast_ feast, which consisted of toast well baked, sliced in
layers, in a large bowl, interspersed with sugar and nutmeg, well soaked
in boiling ale, or what was called in that country, good old October. My
father as soon as he was about to marry, anticipating the natural result,
prepared and provided two hogsheads of real stingo for the occasion, it
being brewed exactly fifteen bushels to the hogshead, which he liberally
determined should be devoted to celebrate the happy event, which was
literally carried into effect. I have very often heard those who were
present, and who participated in the good cheer and rejoicing, mention
these circumstances. It was usual, in that part of the country, upon these
occasions, to have a day fixed and set apart for the feast, when all the
neighbours were invited to partake and drink to the health of the good
lady in the straw, and long life to the little stranger. But upon this
occasion my father set no bounds to his joy, and determined to keep it up,
which he did, till the whole to the last hoop of the stingo was gone. I
have heard the nurse say that she toasted bread from morning till night
for a fortnight, and that in the whole there could not have been less
bread used than what was made from two bags of flour. The 6th of November
was annually celebrated as long as my father lived, by a dinner which he
gave to his neighbours and friends, and one thing was never forgotten,
which was a bumper toast to the memory of Colonel Thomas and Miss Margery
Hunt; which generally concluded by the production of the sword, which
Charles the second took from his side and presented to the Colonel on his
arrival in France, which my father with great pride exhibited to his
friends, frequently accompanied by some part of the foregoing narrative.

My mother was of a weak and nervous constitution, and I inherited in some
degree, when a child, her complaint, for I was very delicate, although
remarkable for activity and high spirits. I remember about a month before
I first went to school, which was at the early age of only five years and
a half, I rode to Magdalen-hill fair near Winchester, a distance of
thirty-one miles, and back again the same day, with my father. To ride
sixty-two miles in one day for a boy not five years and a half old, which
I did without any apparent fatigue, was considered rather an extraordinary
omen of my future capability for active exertion. I was sent to a
boarding-school at Tilshead in Wiltshire, at five and a half years of age,
and, my father told me at my departure, "that I was going to begin a
little world for myself." Before I mounted my poney he seriously gave me
his blessing and his parting advice, which was delivered in a very
emphatic manner, my mother anxiously listening, while a tear glistened in
her eye. "Go," said he, "my dear, and may heaven bless and direct all your
actions, so that you may grow up to be an honest, a brave, and a good man;
but remember well what I now say: you must fight your own battles amongst
your schoolfellows as well as you can. If I ever hear that you are
quarrelsome I shall detest you, but if I find that you are a coward I will
disown and disinherit you." This was the language of one of the best of
fathers to his son, a child of five years and a half old, and it speaks
volumes as to the character of the man and the parent. This school, which
was situated in a healthy village upon Salisbury Plain, consisted of a
master and an usher, who had the care and instruction of sixty-three boys.
The scholars were better fed than taught; but as a healthy situation was
more looked to than their education, by the parents of those children who
were sent there, the discipline was calculated to give general
satisfaction. We learned to read (the Bible), to write, and cast accounts,
and at the end of one year I was taken from this school.

Beyond the common-place events incident to an early initiation into the
tricks and frolics of a school-boy, there occurred, during my stay at this
place, nothing worthy of being introduced here; with the exception,
however, of one very important circumstance, relative to the strict
discipline maintained by my father, in all cases where there was the
slightest deviation from truth. A violation of truth was always sure to be
punished by him with the greatest severity. As the circumstance to which I
allude made a strong and lasting impression upon my mind, and in a great
measure laid the foundation for my general rule of action ever since, I
shall faithfully record it.

During the year that I was at Tilshead I came home for the Midsummer
holidays. On the last Thursday, before I returned, I accompanied my father
to Devizes market, and while he was taking his dinner and selling his corn
I was directed to go to Week, about half a mile distant, to dine with and
see my grandfather. I set off to walk thither, but on my road there was a
number of persons collected on the green, seeing some soldiers fire at a
target--The firing was kept up in rapid succession. I felt alarmed and was
fearful of passing them; I therefore, returned into the town, and having
passed the time away in play with some boys that I met, I returned to my
father at the inn and answered the questions that he put to me, relative
to my grandfather, so as to make him believe that I had been there as he
desired me, being _ashamed_ to confess the truth, that I was afraid to
pass the soldiers. On the following Monday, I went to school again,
without thinking any more of the falsehood that I had been guilty of;
however, about six o'clock in the afternoon of the next Friday, I was
surprised and delighted to see my father ride up to the door of the
school-yard. I ran to meet him, but he received me rather coolly, which I
scarcely perceived; but he asked to see Mr. Cooper, my master, who came
out and invited him to get off his horse, which he declined, and said that
I might ride a little way with him on his road home, if my master had no
objection, and I could walk back; which was readily assented to--All this
was done with a dignified calmness which I did not comprehend. However, as
I rode along, seated before him; he began to question me as to the truth
of some transactions, that had passed during the holidays, and at length
came to the visit to my grandfather. The whole fabrication flashed across
my mind at once, and the mighty secret of all his apparent solemnity had
such an effect upon my nerves that I should, I am sure, have fallen from
the horse if he had not held me on.

At length, after I had confessed the whole truth, which he did not appear
to believe, he broke out into the following exclamation, "you have been
guilty of an abominable falsehood, and you have now, as is always the
case, told me another artful lie, in order to screen yourself from the
punishment which you deserve, and to give you which I have ridden over
here eight miles on purpose. Your conduct has almost broken your afflicted
mother's heart, and has rendered me completely miserable. I would rather
follow you to the grave than live to see you bearing the character of a
liar, and I will now nearly half kill you for your infamous behaviour."
Upon which he lifted me off by the side of the road, on the down, no
person being within hearing or sight, and having alighted, and tied his
horse to a bush, all remonstrance and intreaties on my part proved in
vain: he made me strip off my coat, and, with a smart stick, he gave me a
most severe flogging. As he helped me on with my coat, and sent me back to
school, I saw the big tear trickle down his noble, manly cheek; a
convincing proof to me, even at that time, that he suffered much more in
performing such a painful duty to save a child from disgrace, than I did
in receiving such a severe, though well-merited, chastisement. Although I
thought the punishment very harsh at the time, yet I felt conscious that I
deserved it; and he performed the heart-rending task in such a manner as
convinced me of its justice, and the more I reflected upon it the more I
was satisfied that it arose from the greatest parental affection. It made
the most lasting impression upon my mind, and stamped my determination, at
all hazards, to speak the truth in future. The kindness of my father and
mother was such, that they never mentioned the subject afterwards, till I
was grown up to manhood, and thanked him for it. It was a severe but
excellent lesson for me, and I have always found that as honesty is the
best policy, so is truth in the end always sure to prevail. Although I
know I am sent here for speaking boldly and publicly the _truth_, and for
always under every circumstance acting up to its lovely and substantial
precepts; yet I never felt more grateful than I do at this moment, to my
excellent and noble-minded father, for inculcating the principle of always
speaking the truth, notwithstanding that I am suffering for practising it.
He used to say nothing could be more dangerous than the doctrine so
frequently promulgated, "that the truth should not be spoken at all
times;" thus leaving it to be inferred that falsehood was sometimes
justifiable. Although, he added, there are times when it may be prudent
for a man not to speak at all, yet when he does speak, nothing but a
time-serving coward would hesitate to speak boldly the truth. This was the
language of that man to whom I owe my existence, and from whom I imbibed,
at a very early age, those principles of veracity, justice, humanity, and
public spirit, the free exercise of which, although it consigned his
forefather as well as his descendant to the _same_ prison; yet, such is
the consoling and heart-cheering effect of following the dictates of an
honest mind, that it not only tranquillizes the passions, and checks their
overflowing the due bounds of discretion, while under the influence of
prosperity, but also conveys to the persecuted captive that inward
satisfaction, which makes reflection, even in a prison, a source of
delight, and teaches him to despise that outward shew of mirth and
affected gaiety which accompany the selfish votaries of pleasure, who
sacrifice every honest independent principle at the shrine of fashion,
till the man is degraded to a mere time-serving pander in the Temple of

When I left this school, Mr. Cooper, the master, came round during the
holidays, as was customary, to collect his bills. My father, having
settled the amount and invited him to dine, informed him of his intention
to remove me to Hursley, in Hampshire; which he did at the recommendation
of Sir Thomas Heathcot, whom he had met at Mr. Wyndham's, at Dinton, of
whom my father rented Widdington Farm. Mr. Cooper, who was one of the best
hearted and worthy men that perhaps ever lived, and who possessed as
little of the pedantry and stiffness of a schoolmaster, as any man who had
spent his life in such an occupation, replied, that he was very sorry to
part with me, as he had no doubt I should some day make as clever, and he
hoped as good, a man as my father. The only fault in me of which he had to
complain was, that I was too volatile, and inattentive to my books; but he
added, that he could already discover sufficient capacity to enable me,
with a little steadiness, to become a very good scholar. Then, addressing
himself particularly to my mother, he said, that he was bound in justice
to declare, that he had not a more tractable or better-disposed boy in his
school; that I was a generous and warm-hearted lad, and that my
school-fellows would be sorry to hear that I was going to leave them. He
spent the day with my father and mother, and in the most benignant and
good-humoured manner, recounted some of the idle boyish tricks and
frolicks that he had detected me in; assuring them, at the same time, that
I had been punished only _once_ during my stay with him, and that was for
a venial offence, which was committed out of school hours.

Young as I was, being under seven years of age, when I left this school,
I, nevertheless, formed connections and attachments, which have existed to
this hour with unabated sincerity and uninterrupted friendship. And, as a
gratifying proof of this fact, one of my then school fellows, Mr. Thomas
Cousens, of Heytesbury, with whom I have ever since that period been on
the most friendly footing, was the very first person who came to visit me
after my arrival at this prison. He no sooner heard of my sentence than he
mounted his horse, and before I had scarcely had time to look round my new
habitation, the name of my friend Cousens was announced, who had ridden
upwards of thirty miles; and, in the true spirit of disinterested genuine
friendship, proffered not only his hand but his heart, to serve me in any
way that lay in his power. I have indeed received innumerable proofs of
kindness and sympathy from various quarters of the empire, since my
arrival here; but the recollection of this prompt and efficient testimony
of the sincerity of his friendship, will only be forgotten by me in the

Upon the death of my grandfather, at this period, my father went to reside
at Littlecot Farm, in the parish of Enford; but he still occupied
Widdington Farm. Having spent two or three days, by invitation, with his
landlord, Mr. Wyndham, of Dinton, where he met Sir Thomas Heathcot, of
Hursley Park, who was the brother of Mrs. Wyndham, he was prevailed upon,
by the joint intercession of Sir Thomas and Mr. as well as Mrs. Wyndham,
to send me to be educated at Hursley, where Sir Thomas was patronising in
a school a very worthy man, of the name of Alner, the brother of Mr.
Alner, of Salisbury, who for so many years had the conducting and
arranging the materials which composed the Western Almanack. Mr. and Mrs.
Wyndham had also promised to send their three eldest sons at the same time
to the same school, and one or two sons of Mr. Wyndham, of Salisbury, were
also going there; and the worthy baronet, who never did a kind action by
halves, promised my father, who was a great favourite with him, that he
would take the same care of me, and shew me the same attention that he did
to his nephews; which promise he did not forget to perform during my stay
at Hursley School, which was about two years and a half.

Mr. Alner was a remarkably good penman and accountant, as well as a great
proficient in teaching the use of the globes. Here I became an adept in
writing, arithmetic, and geography, which were the principal things to be
learned at that school. During my stay there, I was in the frequent habit
of spending the Sunday with the young Wyndham's at Hursley Park; and, as
often as my father came to see me, the old baronet insisted upon his
making the Lodge his home. Kindness, generosity, and hospitality, welcomed
every visitor to Hursley Lodge, during the life of Sir Thomas; in fact,
his philanthropy was such, that it not only extended to his own tenants,
but to his brother-in-law's tenants, and to the whole of the surrounding
neighbourhood. Perhaps there never were two country gentlemen, who did
greater credit to the character of genuine old English hospitality, than
the then owners of Hursley Lodge, in Hampshire, and Dinton House, in
Wiltshire. My old school-fellow, the present proprietor of Dinton, still
keeps up the character of an hospitable English country gentleman; but,
alas! Hursley Lodge, since the death of old Sir Thomas----but, as I cannot
say any thing favourable, either from my own knowledge, or from the report
of others, I will content myself with saying nothing.

I left this school at the age of ten years. During the holidays I had
frequent means of seeing, and now first began to reflect, and make my
observations upon, the situation of the labouring poor of the parish of
Enford; for my mother devoted a very great portion of her time to
relieving the wants of those who, either through illness or accident,
stood in need of assistance; and although she was herself in a very weakly
state of health, yet neither inclemency of the weather, nor the distance,
ever deterred her from going in person to visit, to comfort, and to
assist, those of her fellow-creatures who were in distress. It was quite
enough for her to know, that any of her poor neighbours were in want, to
command her immediate aid. How often, when she was about to relieve some
one whom they supposed to be an unworthy object, who had brought want on
his own head by misconduct or crime, have I heard even my father, as well
as other friends, endeavour in vain to persuade her, that her
indiscriminate charity did almost as much harm as good. Her answer always
was, having first quoted some amiable Christian precept, "would you leave
them to starve, and thus drive them to despair? They are in want of bread;
and, after I have relieved them from their present distress, I shall have
some claim to their attention; and by setting them a _good Christian
example_, I shall be the better enabled to enforce the mild and wholesome
doctrines of religion. Surely, I shall have a much better chance of
reforming and reclaiming them by the _practice of kindness_, than I should
have by treating them with neglect, or casting on them the chilling and
forbidding look of harshness." And here let me observe, that if there ever
was a human being who acted up to the spirit and letter of Christianity,
both in profession and practice, I believe my excellent departed mother to
have been that mortal. Her greatest pleasure consisted in doing good; and
to pour the healing balm of comfort into the wounded and afflicted breast,
was to her the very essence of delight. Surrounded by every comfort
herself, her very existence appeared to depend upon her power to make
others participate in those comforts: no living creature in distress was
ever turned away from her door without being relieved. I could fill a
volume in her praise, without being able to do her common justice.

I was now become of sufficient age, to be at once a companion and an
assistant in these charitable peregrinations. There was not a threshold in
the village but she had crossed at one time or another, in order to render
some act of kindness or attention; and, as she passed along, the grateful
inhabitants of every cottage came forth to bestow upon her their
spontaneous and fervent blessings, whilst those who were rolling in
wealth, and puffed up with pride, were suffered to pass unheeded by. Here
it was that my little heart first began to pant for the power to do good;
and I longed to receive, and to deserve such blessings, as were lavished
with grateful lips upon my angelic mother by the poor of all
denominations. I now began to pity their wants and sufferings, and to
participate and rejoice in their happiness. When I expressed a desire for
riches, to enable me to purchase such blessings as were bestowed upon her,
how often did my beloved mother reprove me in the kindest manner, and
endeavour to impress upon my young mind this valuable truth, that wealth
did not always afford the best means of doing good. She used to say, that
those who sincerely wished to do an act of charity, seldom wanted the
means of doing something to relieve the wants, and soothe the afflictions,
of those who were pining in wretchedness and want; for, said she, even a
kind consoling word, combined with a very little personal attention, is
frequently esteemed more valuable, and even proved to be more useful, than
money, to those whose spirits as well as bodies are pressed down to the
earth by unforeseen and frequently unmerited misfortune. These examples
opened to my susceptible mind a new field for reflection, and the scenes
of misery[4] I witnessed, although at that period they were not numerous,
and required to be sought for to be known, yet they created a sympathy in
my young breast, which I flatter myself I have ever cherished, and from
that period I may date the origin of my philanthropy. My mother saw the
impression which it had made upon the mind of her son, and having kindled
the sacred fire of benevolence, she took good care to fan the flame, by
giving me the means of exercising those charitable feelings, which she had
by her example created. Added to these, as well as all the other moral
virtues, this excellent woman practised the most pious and scrupulous
attention to her religious duties. Her motto was

"Teach me to feel another's woe,
To hide the fault I see;
That mercy I to others shew,
That mercy shew to me."

While my mother was instilling into my mind, and teaching me to practice,
the mild and lowly principles of Christianity, my father never failed to
hold up for my admiration and example, the exploits of the noble,
generous, brave, and renowned heroes of antiquity. Pope was his favourite
author; and of all Pope's works, his Universal Prayer, and his Translation
of Homer, were the theme of his never-ceasing and unqualified panegyric.
The former he never failed to repeat aloud, night and morning, in the most
fervent and impassioned manner. He made me learn it, and recommended me to
follow his example, by making it the daily expression of my praise and
adoration of the Allwise and Supreme Disposer of events. He could repeat
every line of the Iliad; and, what was more remarkable, he could begin at
any one line and proceed with the greatest fluency and correctness, even
to the end of any chapter or book. In short, he endeavoured to instil into
my breast the _patriotic principle of disinterested love of country_.
Although he was himself a man of business and of the world, he never
failed to hold up for my example, those heroes who had lived and died
alone for their country. Hector was his favourite warrior, and he appeared
to have obtained the dearest wish of his heart when, coming into my room
by accident one day, he found me reading aloud, and repeating the speech
of Hector to Andromache. I was taken by surprise, and laid down the book;
but he entreated me to continue the subject, and to oblige him I began the
dialogue again, and he repeated the part of Andromache. Although
heretofore a very shy boy, I now became warm, and at length impassioned;
he encouraged me, and before we had concluded I almost fancied myself a
hero. He was delighted; he took me in his arms, he embraced and caressed
me; he saw that I had caught the "_electric spark_;" he wept over me with
rapture, and he exclaimed aloud, in a sort of frantic extacy, "The name of
HUNT will again be recorded in the page of history, and I feel that you,
my dear boy, are destined to restore the fame of our family; and I hope to
live to see you prove yourself worthy of your ancestors."

This brought into the room my mother, who was struck with astonishment at
the unusual manner of my father. He repeated to her that be had, he
thought, discovered in me such seeds as would grow up and produce fruit of
future fame. She smiled in the most benignant manner, and said, he must
trust to time to realize such hopes; but at all events she could answer
for one thing, which was, that the seeds of humanity and philanthropy were
implanted in my breast; for she had hailed, with great satisfaction, the
proof that I could feel for others, and that it was a pleasure to me to
relieve the wants and sufferings of my fellow creatures; and therefore,
she fondly hoped, that I should make a good man and a good Christian; and
addressing herself to my father, she added, "we will, my dear, trust to
chance whether he ever makes a hero or not." I mention these particular
incidents, to shew what pains were taken by my excellent, noble-minded
father, and my amiable, tender-hearted, and affectionate mother, to instil
into my young mind those precepts which each conceived would be most
conducive to my future happiness. My fathers great object appeared to be,
to fire the young aspiring hope with deeds of honour, courage, and
patriotism. My mother's more gentle nature induced her to cultivate the
genial soil with the milder virtues, making Christian piety and charity
the foundation of all her present and future hopes. There never lived a
child that had more pains and care bestowed upon him, by his parents, than
I had. My father inherited and practised the noblest qualities; he was an
intelligent, industrious, strictly honest, honourable, high-spirited
Englishman; the motto, taken from his favourite author, was constantly
upon his lips, "An honest man is the noblest work of God." My mother may
be correctly described in one short sentence, to have been a gentle,
virtuous, amiable, charitable, and truly pious Christian.

Having now left the school at Hursley, where I had learned all that could
be learned there, my father received from Mr. Alner, the worthy master,
very similar assurances to those he had previously received from Mr.
Cooper: that I was a high-spirited, generous, volatile lad, capable of
learning any thing that I chose to apply myself to; but that I was rather
more fond of excelling in feats of activity, than of a strict adherence to
my studies.

I was now sent to the grammar school at Andover, under the care of the
Rev. Thomas Griffith, where I was to enter upon the study of the classics.
My father took me on a Saturday, that being a market-day at Andover; and
having introduced me to Mr. and Mrs. Griffith, he did not forget to give
me the character he had received from the masters of the two schools which
I had previously left; adding his own testimony, in confirmation of my
being of a kind, generous, and open disposition. Mrs. Griffith received us
very politely; and, as she had a very prepossessing manner, I felt pleased
with the prospect before me, although I thought I saw something that I did
not much like in the countenance of Mr. Griffith, who was a muscular,
swarthy, dark-looking person, with rather a forbidding air. My father,
having given me his blessing, took his leave, and consigned me to my new
master, who led me into the school; and, as it was then past eleven
o'clock, he gave me an Enfield's Speaker, and desired me to look it over,
as he should not place me in any class until Monday. The school hours were
up at twelve o'clock, Saturday afternoon being always a holiday, and
consequently I did not consider that I had any task to learn on that day.
I was therefore more employed in thinking of my mother at home, and in
looking round the school, surveying my new companions, than I was with the
volume. At length I caught my master's eye, and as he seemed to be
smiling, as I thought at me, I returned it, as an earnest of my sense of
his kindness. But alas! as it will appear, I mistook my man. He beckoned
to me, and called me up to his desk, at the other end of the school. I
obeyed; "Pray, Sir," said he, "what were you laughing at?" I found I was
deceived, and I stood silent, unable to answer the interrogatory; upon
which he gave me a severe box under the ear, which made me reel again, and
nearly knocked me down. He then sternly said, "Go, Sir, to your seat, and
mind your business, and in future take care how you let me catch you
laughing again." This at once impressed upon my mind the ferocity and
cowardice of his nature; for I had not been in the school at the time more
than ten minutes. It was such an act of injustice, cruelty, and tyranny,
and so very different from any thing that I had ever before experienced,
that I was almost stupified with indignation; but, recovering myself a
little, I was upon the point of rushing out of the school, and flying to
my father, who must have been yet at the inn in the town. I looked towards
the door; it stood enticingly open, and if my pride had not come to my
assistance, I should most assuredly have indulged the first impulse of my
resentment. From that moment to this, however, I have never thought of the
circumstance, without regretting that I did not follow that impulse.
However, I sat down; but, from that time, I never failed to consider him
as an unjust and cruel petty tyrant; nor did I ever, for one moment
afterward, look up to him even with common respect.

I continued at this place for nearly two years and a half, during which
time, in common with many of my school-fellows, I had to endure the cruel,
unnecessary, and wanton punishments, indiscriminately inflicted by this
modern Dionysius. I soon became hardened, and set all controul at
defiance; and, instead of my pride being hurt, or being ashamed of
punishment, it became a boast and a pride to brave it, and to bear it with
indifference and contempt. This monster in human form would come into the
school and flog half a dozen boys before he sat down, under some pretence
or other; either that he had heard some noise in their bedroom the night
before, or that they had not washed their hands clean; nay, he sometimes
flogged a boy without ever telling him what it was for; and frequently,
while his hand was in, he would, gnashing his large white teeth, which
looked white from the same cause that a chimney-sweeper's teeth look so,
merely because they were such a great contrast to his black fiend-like
visage, he would dart his eye round the different classes to see which boy
he should fix upon as his next victim. During these disgusting periods,
with the exception of two or three favourites, every one's heart
palpitated within his agitated breast. When this vindictive mania was upon
him, myself and three or four other boys were almost certain to come in
for a share. In fact, when his eye came to my class, I would almost
involuntarily lay down my book, and meet his horrid gaze, as if prepared
to receive a beckon from him to come out. If he passed me over, which was
very seldom, it was considered as a miracle. Frequently, while he was
punishing me, and while the blood was running almost in streams from my
lacerated back, I have looked him steadily in the face, and I could fancy
I saw him enjoying the same sort of savage ferocious delight, that a
hungry wolf would discover in gorging upon the mangled vitals of the
unoffending lamb. Such is the effect which tyranny produces upon the noble
mind, that although I was of a tender delicate frame, and rather of a
timid nature, yet I soon became so inured to punishment, that I constantly
bore the most severe flogging without altering a muscle of my face,
notwithstanding I frequently received from ten to twenty lashes from the
recently made instrument of torture, which was composed of new _birch
twigs_, each stroke from which drew the blood; and it was no uncommon
thing, after I had left the room, to get some other boy to pick out the
spills which were left sticking in my lacerated flesh, some of them more
than half an inch long. Nay, at last it became so bad that one of the
washerwomen made a serious complaint to Mrs. Griffith, about the horrid
state of my linen. Mrs. Griffith's expostulations were in vain, although
they were made in the most urgent and pressing manner in my hearing.

I speak of myself here, but there were several other boys, who were
punished equally without justice and without mercy, as well as myself. To
recite particular acts of this sort would be as disgusting as they would
be tedious and uninteresting. But there was a nice lad, of the name of
George Blandford, that he had literally flogged into a _hardened
dunce_--he had whipped every power of learning out of him, and then he
whipped him daily because he could not learn. At length his elder brother,
who slept in the same room with me, planned their escape from the school.
I went down stairs with them very early one morning, and having let them
out I locked the doors again, and returned to my bed, without being
detected. Griffith, however, called me up to his desk, and having charged
me with having assisted in their escape, I boldly admitted the fact,
rather than tell a lie; upon which I received a most severe flogging
before he set off to reclaim the fugitives. The Blandfords escaped all
pursuit, and reached their home; and fortunately for them their parents
never suffered them to return. As for myself, he continued to flog, and I
continued to set him at defiance. One more act of his extreme injustice I
will relate, to shew how unfit he was to have the care of children; and as
a caution to parents not to place them in the power of such men,
particularly under the care of such clergymen, who, while they practise
every species of _tyranny, injustice,_ and _cruelty_, upon their pupils,
contrive to escape detection by covering their real character with the
garb of religion, and thus hide the most atrocious acts under the cloak of
their hypocritical sanctity.

Immediately before the holidays, there was a prize to be written for,
which prize was a handsome pen-knife. The Rev. Hugh Stevens, a gentleman
in every respect exactly the reverse of Mr. Griffith, was the principal
assistant and writing-master, who always decided which was the best
written piece; and he at once declared that I was the winner. Griffith,
who had never before interfered in a matter of this kind, was enraged that
I should be successful, in spite of his malignant exertions always to put
me back; and he insisted upon it, that a boy of the name of Butcher had
written his piece better than mine, and that he should have the prize. Mr.
Stevens felt indignant at this barefaced act of partiality and gross
injustice, and would not be come a party to it. After having expostulated
some time in vain, he handed me over the prize upon his own
responsibility, in the presence of the enraged parson; and desired
Griffith, if he wished to favour Butcher, to do it by giving him a knife
out of his own pocket, which he actually did, in order to sneak out of the
business. By these repeated acts of injustice and cruelty he, however,
soon lost his school. Another boy, Mrs. Griffith's own nephew, whose name
was Bradley, now ran away, for setting a hollow tree on fire in the public
parade, called the Acre.

To shew what acts of tyranny and oppression will drive even a lad to do,
in the way of hardened resistance, observe the following instance
Seventeen of the boys were to be flogged for making a bonfire on the 5th
of November, myself of course among the number; many of them were large
boys, and we were left together while Griffith was busily employed making
up a number of rods out of half a dozen new birch brooms, a great many
dozens of which he bought every year at Weyhill fair, expressly for that
purpose. While he was thus amiably occupied, although I was one of the
smallest and youngest among them, I volunteered to recommend forcible
resistance; and proposed, if they would all stick together, that when he
came into the school we would seize him, lay him down, tie him hand and
foot, and give him a good flogging, instead of taking the flogging
ourselves; and I believe that I went so far as to offer to become myself
the operator. This was listened to for a moment, but such is the effect of
tyranny upon the human mind, that the majority were for remaining passive
slaves, and accordingly we all patiently suffered him to flog us one after
the other. When it came to my turn I looked him in the face, and received
any punishment with a hardened indifference, which enraged him to such a
degree, that he gave me a double dose; declaring at one time, as he
gnashed his teeth, that he would flog me till I did cry out. In spite of
his threat, however, he became tired first; for I believe I should have
expired under his bloody hand before I would have uttered a single sigh or
a groan. I must do my fellow-sufferers the justice to say, that the whole
seventeen acted in the same manner, not one of them gratified his tender
ear with a shriek, a groan, or even a complaint.

Our play ground was the church yard, at the back of the school; a very
improper place indeed for boys to amuse themselves in, as it was covered
with graves, and tomb and head stones, over which it was our occupation to
be constantly jumping. The churchwardens complained to Griffith of the
injury done to the graves by our jumping on them, and Griffith, tyrant
like, always ready to curtail any indulgence and liberty we had, however
previously limited it might be, instead of appropriating a fresh play
ground to our use, threatened to punish any boy who was found jumping over
the tomb stones, or upon the graves, and prohibited almost every species
of amusement that we had hitherto enjoyed. A consultation was held, and it
was agreed, in order to be revenged upon the churchwardens, that we would
all meet, in the dusk of the evening, or rather as soon as it was dark,
and that every one should throw a stone into the chancel window. When the
time arrived, this was _religiously_ performed; and I believe myself and
some half dozen more remained, while the rest were scampering off, and had
a second throw, although the first did ample execution, and made a
tremendous crash, particularly at that still hour of the night. The noise
brought all the neighbours out of their houses, who perceived us flying;
but we all escaped, and got into the school, without the detection of any
one in particular. However, as it was known that some of the boys had done
this, we were, all told by Griffith, the next day, that unless we gave up
the boy or boys who did it, to be flogged, he would not grant a holiday
the whole half year; and he only gave us till two o'clock in the afternoon
to consider of what he had said.

During the play hours, between twelve and two o'clock, the whole time was
occupied in devising expedients how to avert this dreadful denunciation,
which was to deprive us of our usual holidays. At length it was declared
that all expedients were in vain; and that, unless some one would
undertake to bear the brunt, and sacrifice himself for the _common good_,
they must all submit to be incarcerated within the walls of the school the
whole half-year, without any recreation whatever. One of the largest boys
said, if any one would volunteer to do this, the others would not only,
with gratitude, subscribe the sum required to pay for mending the window,
but would also subscribe a handsome sum, as a reward for him who would
undertake to receive the punishment.

After this speech, silence reigned around for a time; but all eyes were
soon fixed upon me, with a sort of anxious supplicating hope. I stepped
forward with a determined air. I was hailed with a general cheer, and I
soon realized their hopes, by boldly saying, that I would take the
flogging, although it must and would no doubt be a very severe one;
provided that they would subscribe to pay for mending the window, but that
I scorned to receive any thing more for myself than the reward of their
good opinion, and the consciousness of having made a generous sacrifice of
myself, in order to relieve the whole of my school fellows from a dilemma
which was in no other way to be overcome. I was cheered and caressed, and
was led back to the school, a sort of willing captive, and surrendered up
to the vengeance of the master, as the culprit who had been guilty of a
crime very little short of, and bordering upon, sacrilege. Two or three of
the boys came forward, and stated that they had been eye witnesses of the
transaction, and had seen me break the window, by throwing repeatedly at
it with a hatful of stones. Although Griffith knew this to be a falsehood,
as it was ascertained that it was done at one smash, by all the boys, yet,
he received the communication with a savage delight; and, having put on
one of his usual _smiles, a "ghastly grin_," he ordered me to prepare for
the punishment due to my temerity. The very boy who had proposed the
measure was selected to take me on his back, to hold me while I received
the flogging, which was inflicted with such savage cruelty, and extended
to such a length of time, that with some difficulty I was, by being led
into the air, prevented from fainting. Now the result! after coming out of
the school I was, I own, extolled by some, and caressed by others; but
many laughed at my folly behind my back, some even taunted me at times
with having broken the church windows; but, from first to last, they never
subscribed _one penny_ towards paying for the window, and I was left to do
it myself, which was accomplished by my week's allowance being stopped for
the whole half-year, and the remainder was placed to my account, and sent
home to my father, in the following item--"for breaking church windows 4s.
6d." And, to this very day, I bear the character in the town of Andover of
being the person who, when a boy at school, broke the church windows.

This act of ingratitude was enough to have broken the public spirit of
almost any one but myself. I have, from that day to this, been in the
constant habit of making personal and pecuniary sacrifices for the _common
good_; but human nature, as taken in the mass, was faithfully imaged, even
in a school; and I can safely say, that the only reward which I have ever
received, from that day to this, for all my public services, devotion, and
sacrifices, consists in the substantial reflection that I have never had
any selfish, sinister motives, but that I have always been actuated by the
most disinterested philanthropy, and inflexible love of country. How many
good men have I seen even in my own time, stand forward the zealous
advocates of the people's rights, who have flitted upon the public stage
but a very short period, and we have heard no more of them! what is the
cause of this dereliction? The inference generally is, that all mankind
are alike; none are to be trusted. But the fact is this, many really
disinterested, truly patriotic men have been driven from off the field by
the infamous slanders of the corrupt daily press. Many of them were men
who would have faced a cannon's mouth, or would have suffered the most
horrid punishment, even the torture, rather than have deserted the public
cause; but they were incapable of bearing up against the malignant
slanders, base assertions, and foul attacks of the public press.

There are also many who have come before the public with very patriotic
feelings, and who have at the same time calculated upon receiving a public
reward; at any rate, they have expected to be saved harmless in their
pockets; that the expence of any public exertion would at least be repaid
by those who surrounded them, and who cheered and applauded their every
exertion.--But, no! so sure as a man entertains any notion or expectation
of this sort, so sure is he to meet with cruel disappointment, the very
first time he places himself in a situation to try the experiment. Thus,
otherwise a very good man, he feels at once disgusted with public
ingratitude, and not having calculated upon such conduct, and not perhaps
ever having tried the experiment, _as I did_ while at school, he retires
with scorn and indignation from public life, or he turns over to some new
faction in place or power, who have both the means and inclination to
reward him for his apostacy.

To proceed with the narrative, Griffith did every thing he could to
prevent my getting on in my studies; but I always contrived to say my
lesson, even to him, so as to escape punishment; and, out of all the
floggings I got at this school, I was never once punished for not learning
my task. Indeed, when I had to say my lesson to Mr. Stevens, I did it with
ease, and frequently left off at the head of the class, having worked my
way up during _his_ examination. In fact, when I said my lesson to Mr.
Stevens, I _generally_ left off at the head or top of the class; but when
I said it to Griffith, I was sure _always_ to finish at the _bottom_.

After having endured this sort of discipline nearly two years and a half,
Griffith, one evening, came into the school, after having had _bad sport
in shooting_, as if to wreak that vengeance upon the boys which the
partridges had escaped. He walked up the school, throwing his eyes to the
right and to the left, to seek for some proper objects; at length he fixed
upon a boy of the name of Ludlow, and, having ordered him to prepare for a
flogging, Ludlow expostulated, and demanded to know what he had done to
justify the punishment? Griffith hesitated, and assigned some trifling
reason, frivolous even had it not been unfounded; but he persisted, and
gave Ludlow the flogging. As usual he called me up, and upon his ordering
me to prepare, I followed the example of Ludlow, and demanded the reason;
he gave me a box on the ear, and told me he would inform me after I had
received the flogging. When he had given me this chastisement, as usual
very severely, he said, "Now, sir, this is for what you did yesterday, and
I will flog you to-morrow for what you did the day before," (mentioning at
the same time some trivial circumstance,) "unless you should do something
in the meanwhile to deserve it." Thus he taught me to look forward to a
flogging every day for five or six days to come! This was a little too
bad; to live in anticipation, nay of a certainty, of being flogged every
day for the next week; and I consequently determined to embrace the first
opportunity of taking French leave. I communicated my intention to Ludlow,
who slept in the same room, and he, feeling indignant at the injustice
done him, determined to accompany me.

The next day, being a half holiday, I was to be confined at home to learn
some lines, instead of going out to walk with the rest of the boys; and
Ludlow having agreed to sham illness in the morning, we hoped that we
should by that means be left at home together by ourselves, and if a fair
opportunity offered, we resolved that we would be off. Every thing turned
out as we had anticipated. Ludlow was very ill, and Mrs. Griffith, who was
a very humane, kind-hearted woman, made him lie in bed, where he was
nursed with tea and toast, and other nice things that were necessary for a
sick person. About three o'clock all the other boys went out with the
usher, to take their after noon's walk. I was left at home, and ordered to
remain in the school, to learn a very hard task out of some book, or to
take a flogging in the morning. I went immediately up stairs to inform my
companion that the coast was clear; he jumped out of bed, and put on his
cloaths, and in a few minutes we walked down stairs, out of the back door,
across the church yard; and in less than a quarter of an hour we were on
our road to Weyhill, leaving Mrs. Griffith to take her patient's physic
herself, and any one that chose, to learn the lines that the Parson had
set me.

As we passed along we saw our master and his friend shooting in a field
adjoining the road. We began to quake for fear, but he was too busily
engaged with his sport to notice us; and, creeping along under the hedge,
we passed on unnoticed. Ludlow's parents lived at Devizes, a distance of
twenty-seven miles from Andover; Enford, the residence of my father, was a
little more than fifteen miles on the same road. We lost no time, and,
having kept on a good pace, we arrived at Enford soon after six o'clock.
This was some time in October, and it was quite dark before we got within
sight of the house. We had agreed that Ludlow should sleep with me, and
proceed on to his own house the next morning. When we reached the door my
heart began to sink within me, and I was actually afraid to enter; for now
I began to dread the anger of my father, which was much more terrible to
me than the tyranny of Griffith. At length one of the servants, James
Jukes, came by, and I begged him to go in and inform my father of my being
come home. He told me that my father was from home, but he hastened in,
for the purpose of informing my mother. This, however, was not necessary,
for we followed him, and stood before my mother, who gave a shriek of
astonishment. We told her the story, but she instantly dispatched the
servant for my father, who was gone to visit a neighbour. Ludlow was very
brave upon this occasion. Before my father arrived, my mother had given us
a supper of Apple pie; and, as we were very tired, and as I wished to
avoid the presence of my father as long as I could, we requested to go to
bed; but my mother would not admit of this till he was come home.

At length, the well known knock at the door announced his approach--I
never before felt such a sensation of fear as I did at this moment. He
came in, and having sternly surveyed us, after a short pause, he said,
"Pray gentlemen, what wind brought you here?" I was speechless; but Ludlow
boldly replied, "the severity of our Master, Sir." "Well," he rejoined,
"and my severity shall flog you back again to-morrow," upon which we were
immediately packed off to bed, which my Mother had taken care to provide
for us.

As soon as we were alone in the bed room, Ludlow began to complain of the
injustice of my Father; adding, that he had no right to take him back,
that he might do what he pleased as to his son, but he should not take
_him_ back. I told him this was very brave talking, but that he knew
nothing of my Father if he expected to escape, either by blustering or
reasoning. If, however, he was determined to proceed home, I would do any
thing in my power to get him out of the house very early in the
morning.--This was at once agreed upon, to be attempted at all events. We
lay awake till day break, when he got up. Having put on his cloaths, we
crept down stairs very quietly, and I unlocked the door, and having shaken
him by the hand, and wished him better success than I was likely to meet
with, he departed for Devizes. I returned to bed, and being called up in
the morning, my Father, when he entered the breakfast room, demanded why
Ludlow did not get up. I told him the truth, that he had been gone for
four hours, and must by that time have reached his own home. My Father
made no reply, but with a very stern look he left the room, as I
afterwards understood from my Mother, to attend a court-leet at Updavon,
where he had engaged to meet his friend and landlord Mr. Wyndham. He
informed that gentlemen of the circumstance of my having run away from
school, and added, that he intended to take me back early in the morning,
a step in the propriety of which Mr. Wyndham heartily concurred--However,
in the course of the day, a messenger came with a letter from Griffith to
my Father, which was delivered to him in the presence of his landlord. The
letter was couched in the most coarse and unfeeling language; he charged
my Father with being the author and instigator of all my faults, and
accused him of having not only encouraged me in disobeying his orders, but
also of conniving at my running away from the school.--This was a most
fortunate circumstance for me, and the only thing that could have saved me
from being taken back again. Mr. Wyndham told my Father that nothing on
earth ought to prevail upon him to place his son again under the care of
such a monster; and they now both became just as determinedly hostile to
my return as they had previously been agreed that I ought to go back.

In the course of a few days, my Father rode over to Andover, and sent for
Griffith down to the Star Inn, to pay him his bill. Having expostulated
with him upon his conduct to me, and his still more unfeeling conduct if
possible to himself; Griffith chose to bluster and bully, upon which my
father coolly turned him out of the room, telling him that his gown alone
saved him from the chastisement that he merited; a privilege which the
parson did not choose to waive. He, therefore sneaked off, in order to
save himself from being either kicked or horse-whipped. Ludlow was taken
back to the School by his Father, and having subsequently formed
connections, he got into business, and has lived in the own of Andover
ever since. Within two years of this time Griffith's school dwindled down
to nothing, and soon afterwards, execrated by every boy that had ever been
under his care, he returned to Wales, from whence he came.

In detailing these occurrences of my boyhood, I have been thus particular
for two purposes; first, to shew the reader the tyranny I had to encounter
before I was yet thirteen years of age, and the effect it produced upon my
mind, as well as the determined manner in which I resisted oppression,
even at that time; and, secondly, with the hope that it will be a warning
to all those who may read these memoirs, to avoid sending their children
to be flogged out of every good quality, and rendered miserable, without
the least chance of improvement, by one of these petty tyrants. The
greatest care and circumspection should be exercised by parents, for they
have a sacred duty to perform, in the selection of those with whom they
intrust the care and education of their children. As to this school, it
was a stain upon and a disgrace to the character of English education: in
Scotland such a school would not have existed a month, and the master
would have been indicted.

I was next placed under the care of the Rev. James Evans, who kept a very
respectable school in Castle Street, at Salisbury. This gentleman was also
a Welshman; and, as I had taken a great antipathy to Reverend Welshmen, I
felt rather uncomfortable when I ascertained that he came from the land of
goats. My fears, however, were groundless; he was a gentleman in every
respect the reverse of him of whom I have so recently spoken. To be sure
he was pedantic enough, having been all his life a school-master; but he
was a humane, kind-hearted man, and his strictness was assumed, for the
purpose of maintaining by discipline a due subordination in the school.
His lady, Mrs. Evans, was also a combination of good qualities, and I
believe there never was a more happy couple. She delighted to make every
body happy about her. As for myself, the good disposition that I took with
me to Andover, was in a great measure flogged out of me there; I was
become impatient of controul, and had imbibed an ungovernable spirit,
which led me into difficulties and disappointments, that I should
otherwise have avoided. I have often lamented the trouble that I gave this
worthy man, as well as his lady, and many years back thought it my duty to
take an occasion of expressing the sorrow I felt for any uneasiness that I
had caused them during my stay there.

The life which I led here was a life, of pleasure compared to that which I
led at the place I had quitted, and although it was impossible for me to
recover that which I lost at Andover, either in disposition or in
learning, yet I acquired ten times more real knowledge of books in one
year at this school, under Mr. Evans, than I did at Andover in the two
years and a half that I existed there. I remained nearly three years at
Salisbury, at the end of which time I was become a pretty good latin
scholar, and could construe Virgil and Horace with considerable ease to
myself. I was an excellent penman, and a pretty good mathematician, as
well as a complete master of mensuration. I had for many years been a
pupil of the celebrated Mr. Goodall, and as I was acknowledged by him to
have arrived at a great degree of perfection in elegantly "tripping it on
the light fantastic toe," he frequently took me to exhibit at his balls,
both in Salisbury and other places. I was, in good truth, excessively fond
of dancing, and I was not a little proud, at one of the race balls, to be
selected by Mr. Goodall, who was master of the ceremonies, to stand one of
the first three couple with the Prince of Wales, (my partner Miss S.
Mahon) to enable his royal Highness to accomplish the figure of _Maney
Musk_, for the first time introduced at Salisbury, by his Royal Highness.

I will relate only one particular occurrence which I had to encounter at
this school, and which, but for a mere accident, would have fixed upon my
character an indelible stain; and I am especially induced to notice it by
the circumstance of its having been grossly misrepresented by the venal
part of the public press. I believe it appeared either in one or both of
those sinks of corruption, those stews of falsehood, those unblushing
vehicles of calumny and lies, the Morning Post and the Courier, viz.
"_that Hunt, when a boy, was turned out of a school for robbing one of his
schoolfellows_." Although I believe there is not one disinterested
intelligent person in a thousand, who reads those papers, that ever gives
the least credit to any of those atrocious falsehoods with which their
columns are constantly filled, yet the baseness and cowardice of their
intentions are not the less disgraceful on that account. To proceed, my
bedfellow, whose name was Scott, when he arose one morning, discovered
that, during the night, his Breeches had been removed from under his
pillow, and his purse, which contained a guinea and two or three
shillings, had been taken out of the pocket, ransacked of its contents,
and then replaced under the pillow. Scott missed the money as he was
getting up, and, having mentioned the thing, all the boys collected round
him to hear his account of the story. There were also some boys who came
out of another room up stairs, and amongst them a boy of the name of Best,
who, after having heard what Scott had to say, at once declared that it
was impossible for any one but the boy who had slept with him in the same
bed to have stolen the money. I instantly fired up, and endeavoured to
knock down the scoundrel, who had by implication charged me with the
theft. A battle ensued, in which Best got the worst of it, and amongst
other things a black eye; which being perceived by Mr. Evans, when we got
into the school, I was punished with an imposition for having given it to
him; notwithstanding I informed the master that it arose in consequence of
his having falsely charged me with a theft. Upon this an investigation
took place. Scott proved that he had the money when he went to bed; I also
spoke to the knowledge of that fact; all which Best urged as a presumptive
proof of my guilt. Appearances were against me, and my having so suddenly
attacked Best for the insinuation, rather increased than diminished those

After breakfast Mr. Evans called me into his parlour, where there was no
one but himself and Mrs. Evans, and addressed me in a very solemn manner,
trusting, he said, that I would instantly confess to him that _I had
played some trick with the money_, and restore it to him; in which case,
he would endeavour to hush the matter up as well as he could. I stood
gasping with astonishment, without being able to give an immediate answer;
not before believing that he had any suspicion of me. He proceeded as
follows, "it is no use for you to deny it, Master Hunt, as I know those
who will prove that they saw you take the money." My surprise was now
turned to indignation. I protested vehemently against the truth of his
assertion, and dared him to the proof. I denied, in the most solemn
manner, that I knew any thing of the money, and demanded, with more than
common earnestness, that he would bring forth my accusers, that I might
meet them face to face.

Mrs. Evans now came forward, and earnestly entreated her husband, in
common justice, if there was any person who had seen me, or if he had any
proof that I took the money, or knew any thing of it, that he would bring
them forward; and, if he had not, that he would at least, admit that he
had no ground for saying what he had said. Mr. Evans felt the force of her
observation, and seeing that I denied the fact so unequivocally, he said
that he had no proof of the fact, that he had gone too far, that as
circumstances appeared strong against me at first, and it appeared that I
was embarrassed, he thought it best to charge me boldly with it, to induce
me to confess at once. Mrs. Evans, who was a good creature, and a sincere
lover of justice, possessing too a great deal of discrimination, inveighed
in very strong terms against charging a boy with theft, and casting
aspersions upon his character, without any foundation or proof whatever.
She added, that I had been at the school nearly three[5] years, without
ever having created any suspicion of my honesty, or without doing the
slightest act upon which they could ground such a charge:--that she had
frequently trusted me with money to execute errands and commissions for
her, that I had always done it with the strictest regularity, and the most
scrupulous regard to honesty; and, raising her voice, she said she would
herself be bound for my innocence upon this occasion; adding, with great
warmth, there was not an honester lad in the school, and that some of
those who threw out dark hints of suspicion against Master Hunt, were much
more likely, from their general character, to have robbed Scott than he

In consequence of this tone being taken by my kind friend, whose memory I
have always held, and ever shall hold, in the highest veneration, Mr.
Evans slightly apologized for having asserted that he had proof of my
guilt; saying in excuse that it was his duty to do every thing in his
power to unravel the mystery. "You may go Master Hunt," said Mrs. Evans;
and in the kindest possible manner she endeavoured to console me for the
injustice I had suffered, by telling me that the thief would certainly be
found out, and then those that had accused me would be ashamed of

As I walked out of the parlour up the play ground, many of my school
fellows approached, to know the result of such a long conference--"Well,
Hunt, is there any thing made out likely to clear up this affair?" all of
them anxious to see me fairly acquitted of the charge. I exclaimed in a
loud voice, "what a d----d liar that _Taffy Evans_ is--He first declared
that some one had seen me take the money, and afterwards confessed it was
no such thing." Mr. Evans, who had followed me out of the parlour, and
had, unperceived by me, walked up his garden, which was only separated
from the play ground by some pales and a slight low yew hedge, heard this
as plain as any of the boys, In a very emphatic tone, and close to my
elbow, he, to my utter confusion, said, "really Master Hunt! Pray, sir, go
to your room, and we will settle that account as soon as we go into
school," which was in a few minutes after.

I certainly now expected that I should have a severe flogging, and so did
all my school fellows; but I was agreeably disappointed when he arrived in
the school, by his addressing me in a very serious manner, as follows,
"Master Hunt, I now set you an imposition of one hundred lines of Virgil
to learn by Friday, and the next time I ever hear you make use of such
words I will certainly give you a flogging." The lines were learnt, and so
ended that part of the story.

As, however, no discovery was made about the money, I felt very uneasy;
not that I believed any of the boys had any suspicion of me, and Scott
himself constantly declared that he had not the slightest idea that I knew
any thing of the matter. Notwithstanding this, there was sometimes an
insinuation thrown out, which rendered my life very miserable; and Best,
the boy who had first accused me, although from the drubbing he got he was
deterred from repeating the assertion, yet he would frequently ask in my
hearing, "_who stole Scott's money?_" A month had nearly passed, and with
most of the Boys the affair began to wear off, and it was seldom
mentioned; not so with me, it pressed very heavily upon my mind, and
instead of being one of the most lively and cheerful boys in the school, I
was now become quite serious, and even melancholy, and was frequently
observed to shed tears. My Friends endeavoured to rally me out of this
what they called sulky mood; I replied that I could not help it, that I
should never again be happy till it was discovered who it was that took my
bed-fellow's Money; and that its being lost while I was his bed fellow,
certainly threw a sort of suspicion on me, that I could not get over, and
to labour under which rendered me completely miserable. They all
endeavoured to laugh me out of this humour, and I must say that Scott
himself did every thing in his power to relieve me; but it was all in
vain, I not only grew melancholy, but I began to lose my appetite, and as
I looked very thin and ill, Mrs. Evans was really somewhat alarmed, and
said every thing she could to comfort me. Alas! it was all in vain, and I
really began to think that I should fall a victim to a false accusation,
for I had no sleep by night, nor ease by day.

Taken from the lower part of the Meadow behind the Bell Inn.

_a. The part occupied by Mr. Hunt.
b. The Top of the Keeper's House.
c. The part occupied by the Debtors
d. The part occupied by the Time people
f. The part occupied by the Task Master & Matron
Behind this is the part occupied by the Females
g. The Lodge or entrance & occupied by the chief Turnkey
h. The Keeper's stable and Chaise House._]

Mrs. Evans now proposed to send for my father, which in a few days she
did. When he arrived and was informed of the circumstances, he felt
greatly distressed. I was sent for into the parlour; my father was shocked
at my appearing in such ill health, and the agony of his feelings was
intense at the cause of my illness. He intreated me, by the love I bore
towards him and my mother, to confess the truth; if I had in an unguarded
moment been led into an error, the only reparation was openly to confess
it, and, in that case, he offered immediately to repay Scott his money,
and to make him a handsome present besides; in fact he promised to do any
thing. Before he would allow me to make an answer, he went almost upon his
knees, and implored me to tell him the whole truth, proffering at the same
time his entire forgiveness if I had done it. I assured him, in the most
serious and solemn manner, that I knew nothing whatever of the money, that
it had made me very unhappy indeed, that I had had no sleep for the last
eight or ten nights, and had lost my appetite, and that I was become very
weak and ill; which illness he found, by feeling my pulse, was attended
with a very considerable fever. He proposed to take me home for a short
time, to restore my health; but this I objected to, as being likely to
give a colour to the charge. It was therefore settled that I should take
some medicine, prescribed by Mr. Stills[6], to calm my spirits and allay
my fever.

My father returned home almost broken-hearted, and I continued in the same
melancholy and hopeless state. However, in the evening of the next Sunday,
a boy came running up to me almost breathless, and declared that he had
discovered the thief, who had stolen the money. I eagerly entreated him to
explain himself--he answered that Charles Best, together with his brother
James, had just brought in a hatful of _Carraway Comfits_, which be said
he had bought with five shillings, given to him by his father. The Father
of these boys lived in the town, and they had been home on the Sunday, as
was usual, to dine with him. They had just returned from their visit,
about eight o'clock in the evening, and Charles, the eldest, the fellow
who had accused me of being the thief, had now brought these comfits in
his hat, saying that his father had given him _five shillings_, which he
had expended at once in this way. My friend directly declared that it was
a falsehood, that his father was a cursedly stingy old fellow, and that he
had never before returned with more than sixpence in his pocket; and he
added, suppose his father or any other person had given him _five
shillings_, it was very unlikely that he would lay it all out at once in
such a manner. I requested Best to show us his purse, to see if he had any
more money in it. This he declined to do; and, as his brother James began
to shuffle, and did not confirm him altogether in his story, I immediately
seized him by the collar, and having tripped up his heels, called for
assistance to search him. This we accomplished with some difficulty, and
having got at his purse, we found it contained _sixteen shillings_ in
silver more. He now changed his tale, and asserted that his father had
given him a _guinea_, which he had changed at Mrs. Hadding's the
pie-woman; that he had purchased five shillings-worth of carraway comfits,
and the sixteen shillings was the remainder of the change.

By the manner of his telling this story it was evidently false. Some of
the boys accordingly kept him in custody, while myself and my friend, who
had first brought me the intelligence, rushed out of the house, regardless
of the consequences, and proceeded as fast as possible to the house of old
Best, either to have this account confirmed or denied. On our reaching the
door we knocked with great authority, and upon the servant's opening it,
we marched in without any ceremony, and demanded an audience of his master
immediately, as we had some very important business with him. The servant
informed him of our visit, and he came out of the parlour to us, and
demanded what business we could have with him at that time of night, it
being then nearly nine o'clock. We first asked if his sons had been home
to dine with him; he answered yes, and that they had left his house
upwards of an hour ago, in order to return to the school, and he wished to
know whether they had not arrived before we left it. We replied that they
had. We then asked him if he had given his son Charles any money; he at
once said, "Certainly not." We then asked him if he had given him a
guinea; he replied, "Certainly not." His mother might have given him
sixpence, but if she did it was without his knowledge. He then returned
into the parlour; and we heard him ask his wife if she had given Charles
any money to-day, the answer was, "No, my dear."

This was quite enough for us, and without waiting any further ceremony, we
started off back to the school. In the mean time, Best, having ascertained
that we were gone to his father to make enquiry, had confessed that it was
he who had stolen the money out of Scott's pocket; and when we returned he
was surrounded by all the boys, who were upbraiding and taunting him with
his villainy; but they were all more enraged with him for his baseness in
accusing me of the theft, than they were with the theft itself. I was the
only one who expressed any pity for him, and had the weakness to solicit
for that mercy to be shewn to him which he had denied to me. The next
morning he was expelled the school; but, in consideration of his family
very little was said about it--however, they soon left the town, which it
was generally understood was occasioned by this unfortunate event. My
father was sent for, and he came over immediately, to participate with me
in the happiness I felt, at being so completely exculpated from all
suspicion; and every endeavour was made to render me, as far as it was
possible, compensation for my sufferings.

I trust that this circumstance will prove to the reader the danger and the
injustice of condemning any person upon mere circumstantial evidence. How
cautious ought jurors upon their oaths to be, not to find men guilty upon
mere circumstances; and, particularly, when their verdict may give the
party over, _bound hand and foot_, and place his life or his liberty at
the disposal of corrupt, wicked, cruel, and vindictive judges!

I now recovered my health and strength, and prosecuted my studies till I
was nearly sixteen years of age. My father then, on condition of my taking
orders, and going into the Church, proposed to send me to Oxford, and to
purchase the next presentation to a living of upwards of a thousand a
year, which was offered to him at that time at a very moderate price;
subject to the life of the incumbent, who was upwards of seventy years of
age. This I declined, as I had a great wish to be a farmer; and, at the
same time, had a particular objection to the Church, an objection which
principally originated in the dislike I had to Parson Griffith, and to the
way in which he enforced the precepts of Christianity.

My father desired me to reflect well upon it, before I made up my mind;
though I could discover that he was not at all displeased at my
determination. He would not, he said, prejudice my choice, but whether I
was a clergyman, or whether I was a farmer, he hoped I should make a good,
a brave, and an honest man; but he added, "if you intend to be a farmer, I

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