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

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trust that it is not from an idea that a farmer's life is composed merely
of coursing, hunting, shooting, and fishing. These alone, said he, are
very well, when occasionally and moderately used as a recreation; but a
farmer must learn his business before he is capable of conducting and
managing a farm--for, remember the old couplet, "he that by the plough
would thrive, must either hold himself or drive." I would, therefore, have
you think this matter over, before you finally make your choice. If you
should like to be a clergyman, I have now an opportunity of purchasing the
next presentation to a good living, and you will then have secured to you
for life a thousand or perhaps twelve hundred pounds a year; and you will
have nothing else to do, for six days out of the seven, but hunt, shoot,
and fish by day, and play cards and win the money of the farmer's wives
and children by night. Although, continued he, this may appear to you, and
I am ready to admit, that this is, a very inglorious sort of a life, yet
it is a very easy one. All that will be expected of you is to read
prayers, and preach a sermon, which will cost you three pence once a week.
This is the life of modern clergymen; and they might do very well, and get
on very smoothly, in this way, if they did not screw up their _tythes_ too
high, and get drunk too often, so as to cause a serious complaint to be
made to the bishop by some of the parishioners; which you may rest assured
they never will do by you, let your conduct be ever so immoral or ever so
irreligious, provided that you let the farmers have their tythes at an
easy rate. Do that, and no complaint will ever be made against you to the

While my father was thus addressing me, my mother returned from visiting a
poor gypsy woman, who had that morning been delivered of a fine child,
under an adjoining hedge, without any other covering but one of their
small tents, which are merely composed of a sheet thrown over a few arched
sticks, stuck into the ground. She came into the room just in time to hear
the latter part of my father's observations, describing the life of a
modern clergyman. With her accustomed charitable feeling, she said
"really, my dear, although there is too much truth in the picture you have
drawn, yet you have been a little too severe upon the clergy, when
speaking of them in the mass. There are many excellent and worthy men, who
follow the precepts of their great master, who are an ornament to that
society to which they belong, and are, therefore, most deserving members
of, and do great credit to, the profession which you have so
indiscriminately reprobated."

"Do not tell me," said my father, "about ornaments to society; the best of
them are the _drones of society_, and, without contributing any thing to
the common stock, they feed upon the choicest honey, collected by the
labour of the industrious bees. To be sure, when they do the duty allotted
to them conscientiously, and _do not screw up their tythes too high_, they
may be very necessary evils; but you are aware, my dear, that what I say
is true as to most of them that we know; and I am not sorry that Henry
appears to have no inclination towards that course of life."

"But," said my mother, "because some of the clergy bear the character that
you say they do, is that any reason that Henry should follow their
example? If he should be a clergyman, he will have great power of doing
good among his parishioners; he may be a magistrate, or perhaps a Doctor
of Divinity; and who knows but he may by and bye be a bishop?"

My father now began to grow impatient. "A bishop indeed!" said he, "God
forbid that I should ever live to see him act in such a way as to obtain a
bishopric, even if he were to go into the church."

My mother was surprised at this language, and enquired if he would not
wish his son to gain the top of his profession; to which he answered
sternly, (which was not often the case to my mother,) "No, indeed. I would
not. The road to such preferment is generally so disgraceful, that I never
wish to see him tread its path. He will never attain such an _honour_ but
by the most _dishonourable_ means. Would you like to see him the tutor to
the son of some nobleman? This is the first step to promotion. When he is
in that situation, if his pupil should be of an abandoned character and
_he_ will condescend to be his _pimp_ and the pander to his vices, laugh
at his follies, and flatter his vanity: why, then, should this sprig of
nobility hereafter become a minister of state, or a man in power, knowing
the servility of his late tutor, and that he will make a willing tool for
the administration to which he belongs, then, forsooth, he is a proper
man, and may possibly become a bishop."

My mother could not believe that the highest dignities of the church were
ever obtained by such disgraceful means; but my father justified his
assertion by pointing out one or two living instances, that had come
within the reach of his own knowledge. He also pointed out some
dignitaries of the church who lived in his immediate neighbourhood, whom
my mother knew, and was obliged to admit to be very profligate characters.
But she, always wishing to look at the bright, instead of the dark side of
the question, called in turn to his recollection a number of very
excellent and very worthy members of the church, whom they knew to be most
amiable, charitable, and truly religions characters.

Thus ended this conference upon a subject which appeared to be so very
important to my parents. My mother certainly had a great leaning to the
desire of seeing me a clergyman, and I believe it would have been the
summit of her happiness and ambition to have seen me zealously enforcing
those principles of christianity, which she had so faithfully practised.
My father dropped the subject at that time; but he took an early
opportunity of seriously going into the matter in private, and he exhorted
me to give the question a deliberate consideration, as it most materially
concerned my future welfare; adding, "he that sets out wrong is more than
half undone. If," said he "you intend to lead a quiet, easy life, that of
a clergyman will exactly suit you. If you are disposed to make one of the
common herd of mankind, and pass your time away in enjoying the sports of
the field, and the recreations of a social country life, you may live and
die a clergyman, and a very happy man. But if you have any ambition to be
a shining character in the world, that is the very last profession I would
recommend; as I am firmly persuaded that you will have no chance of
becoming eminent, or exalted in rank, unless you will condescend to obtain
it by the most prostituted sycophancy, and a total dereliction of every
manly noble feeling of independence."

If I had been wavering in my decision, or had entertained any doubts
before, this would have turned the scale; but I had already made up my
mind to be a farmer, which determination I seriously and firmly
communicated to my father. "Well then," said he, "you are young enough to
learn, and if you will manfully set your shoulder to the wheel, I have no
doubt of your soon becoming acquainted with the practical part of the
profession, and when you have acquired a knowledge of the practice the
theory will follow very easily. To-morrow you shall make a beginning. You
are now sixteen, and no time is to be lost. God and nature have bestowed
upon you a sound mind, and an active body; and if you properly apply these
inestimable blessings, there is no doubt of your becoming a useful member
of society, and of your making a respectable figure in the world. But
never forget the maxim that I now lay down for your future guidance;
recollect that 'a man can never dirt his hands about his own business;'
and always bear in mind these three old Italian proverbs--first, '_Never
do that by proxy, which you can do yourself._'--Second, '_Never defer till
to-morrow that which can be done well to-day._'--Third, '_Never neglect
small matters and expences._'"

The next morning I was called up early, and, to begin upon my labours, I
drove one of the teams at plough all day. I came home very tired. Not
being accustomed to labour, I found it a very different occupation from
that of attending my studies at school; my feet were sore, and my heels
were galled, but I was deterred from complaining, by seeing that I was
merely performing the same labour that little plough boys, of eight or
nine years of age, were only receiving sixpence a day for doing. Driving
plough was, therefore, not only, soon learned, but it became very irksome
to me; and as I thought myself full as good a man as the lad that was
holding, I demanded, before the week was up, that he should change places
with me. This he refused, and that occurred which is very common upon such
occasions. I threw away the whip, and having seized the handle of the
plough, a struggle ensued, which led to blows. At length, the horses and
plough were both abandoned, and a regular fight took place between myself
and the under carter, who had been holding the plough to which I was the
driver. I soon, however, compelled him to cry "hold!" and without farther
ceremony I took the plough and he the whip. I mention this trivial
circumstance to shew the reader that I was obliged to fight my way into a
practical knowledge of agricultural pursuits; my father well knowing, from
experience, that there was no other method by which I could gain a
complete knowledge of farming, but by the manual performance of every
branch of the profession.

Before I proceed it will not be improper to observe that, in detailing the
events of my own life, I am confined to the strict limits which truth
imposes upon my pen; for if I wished either to exaggerate or to embellish
by any imaginary touches, such as may be admissible, and in fact such as
are indulged in, by the writers of common events, I should be liable to
immediate detection and exposure; because I am detailing circumstances
which, although they are long past, are still in the recollection of
numerous living witnesses. In fact, there is not an occurrence that I have
hitherto mentioned, but what is within the knowledge and the recollection
of many of those witnesses, and very many of the most important events
which I shall have to detail will be familiar to hundreds. On the other
hand, there are certainly many facts and anecdotes, which are only known
to myself and those immediately connected with them, and these, when I
arrive at them, will, I doubt not, be read with a lively interest by those
who are not yet in the secret how many public and private intrigues are
carried on and effected. All that I can promise is, that I will, to the
best of my knowledge and recollection, which I find no ways impaired by
imprisonment, record the truth; and should I, in my anxiety to speak the
truth, sometimes become dull, tiresome, or tedious, I must rely upon the
indulgence of the reader, to attribute it to my desire that the public
should be made acquainted with those circumstances which appear to me to
have materially contributed to the formation of that character which has
been so vilified, abused, and misrepresented, by the venal tools, and
corrupt agents, of a system of persevering, fatal misrule, such as was
never equalled in any age or in any country.

To proceed--I now found that I was encountering greater difficulties than
I had anticipated. Though it was very easy to learn to drive plough, yet
it was a very different thing to be able to hold plough well. I returned
home at night ten times more tired than I was when I drove the first day;
my feet were not only sore, but my legs and arms ached ready to drop off,
and my hands were in a gore of blood, and blistered all over. My poor
mother began now to lament my undertaking, and threw out hints how much
better and easier it would have been to have gone to Oxford, and have been
now preparing myself by study to become a candidate for the black cloth,
and to be a respectable clergyman, instead of being a _clod-hopper_. In
the midst of her advice and admonition my mother did not forget to wash my
hands and feet, and plaster up my lacerated flesh; and as soon as she had
made me comfortable I retired to rest. I rose refreshed, and returned the
next day with renovated vigour to my task. To be brief, I soon because a
good ploughman. My father daily witnessed with considerable anxiety my
zealous and persevering exertions; and as I proceeded, he encouraged me by
the most animating hopes of future prospects; he informed me that he had
remarked with no small pleasure my determination to excel in every thing
that I undertook; and that I set about every thing with an enthusiasm
calculated to surmount all difficulties, which was, as he justly observed,
the only way to attain any object, or to arrive at any degree of

I had now regularly persevered with the most assiduous industry for more
than a fortnight, and although I was but a tall thin stripling, I
perceived that I gathered strength with my labour; and what I at first
found to be the most trying exertion and severe hard work, as I became
acquainted with the art, it appeared a pleasant and cheerful occupation;
for I could now turn a furrow as true and as straight as "the path of an
arrow." My father, who was an excellent and an accomplished husbandman,
never failed during this time to pass some part of the day with me, in
order to instruct me how to set my plough, to fix the share and point, and
so to regulate its various bearings as to make it, at the same time it did
the work well, go easy and pleasant to the holder. This may, perhaps, be
very uninteresting to many sedentary readers, and to those who are mere
passing observers, and who believe that there is no art in holding plough;
but they are very much mistaken who think that any body will make a
farmer, and that to be a good husbandman is the natural result of living
in the country. It is a very common and vulgar saying in the country,
among farmers, when any one has a son that is more stupid than common, "if
he will make nothing else, if he is unfit or incapable of learning any
business or trade, why, he will make a parson." But to make a good farmer,
a man must have served a double apprenticeship to the profession; and
after that, he must be a philosopher and a chemist. No business requires
the exercise of a man's patience and his reasoning faculties so much as
that of a farmer. Every day, nay, every hour, produces something new,
something fresh, which calls forth the active use of his reason, his
exertion, and his talent. No two seasons are alike, and scarcely any two
days. In every other profession or business, a clever intelligent person
can calculate for any given number of hands, nearly, the work of a week, a
month, or almost a year, in advance. The manufacturer or the tradesman has
a constant regular routine of business for his workmen to perform; and if
he be called from his home, for any length of time, he can leave orders
what work almost every man shall do till his return; but the farmer's
occupation, and that of all his servants, changes with the weather; nay,
it becomes his peculiar care, at some periods of the year, to watch with
anxiety every change of the wind, and his business to observe the
direction of every cloud. But as four or five years of my life were passed
in practically acquiring a knowledge of every branch of this most valuable
and respectable occupation, I shall, by reciting the particular
occurrences of that period, as I pass along, convince the readers of this
work, of that which they little suppose to be the case, that it is
absolutely necessary for a man to be a philosopher, before he can be a
good farmer.

My father, having convinced himself of my capability, as well as my
determination to persevere in acquiring the practical manual knowledge of
the various branches belonging to husbandry, now said that he was not only
satisfied, but extremely well pleased, with the progress I had made; and,
therefore, I should now have a respite from such incessant labour, and
should take my poney and accompany him round the farms, to inspect and to
assist him in giving directions to the workmen. A fresh plough boy was
immediately found, and my driver, the vanquished under-carter, again
resumed his situation between the handles of the plough, very well pleased
with my removal. The scene to which I was now introduced opened to my
enquiring eye a new field for observation, and what I had heretofore
passed over as common occurrences, became intensely interesting to me. My
father felt great delight in satisfying my eager enquiries, and, instead
of being annoyed at my unceasing inquisitiveness, he encouraged me to
satisfy myself, and not to leave any one subject till he had made me
comprehend the cause as well as the effect.

About this time my mother, who had been for several years in a very
declining state of health, from a violent nervous affection, which
produced a constant oppressive head-ache, was put to bed of a son, her
sixth child, and to the great joy of my father, as well as all her
friends, as she recovered her strength, and the natural effects of her
lying-in wore off, she appeared also to have recovered her general good
health, and her usual cheerfulness. She was always benignant, kind, and
affectionate, but the effects of an incessant nervous headache had
produced a sombre sadness, which threw a gloom around, and affected the
whole family, and prevented that sort of hilarity and cheerfulness, which
was the usual companion of our abode. My father was of a generous,
hospitable, sociable disposition, and was never so happy and blessed as
when he had his friends surrounding him, and partaking of those comforts
which he had acquired by his industry, skill, and persevering attention to
his business; but even these sociable enjoyments with his friends had been
very much curtailed, by my dear mother's melancholy indisposition.

The restoration of her health was hailed by my father as the greatest
blessing that Divine Providence could have bestowed upon him and his
family; and we were all made to join him in audibly offering up our
nightly prayers and grateful acknowledgments to the allwise and beneficent
Creator, for this to us the greatest of earthly blessings. My father was
enraptured, and a hundred times a day, while he burst forth into sincere
and extatic praise and adoration of the goodness of the Divine Being, he
would enjoin us, his children, never to forget his mercy and loving
kindness, in restoring his dear Elizabeth to health. He also called in his
friends again, to partake of his hospitable and festive board. In fact, he
would sometimes exclaim, to my mother, that he was almost too happy for a
mortal, in this vale of misery and probation. My amiable mother used
gently to chide him, and to tell him that the best way to manifest their
gratitude to Divine Providence, for the happiness which it bestowed, was
never to let a day pass over their heads without doing some good act to
prove their willingness to deserve it. She would add, with her eye beaming
a heavenly smile, "as our blessed Saviour has bestowed every earthly
comfort upon us, let it be part of our duty and our pleasure to dispense
happiness among our poorer and less fortunate neighbours; for recollect,
my dear, 'that all our doings without charity are nothing worth.'"

My mother had not yet been able personally to perform any of her
accustomed charitable visits since her lying in; for she was too strict an
observer of her religious duties, to go from home till she had gone to the
parish church, and publicly offered up her prayers and thanksgivings to
her blessed Creator and Saviour. The following Sunday was fixed upon as
the day for this religious ceremony. My father expostulated; saying that
the church was damp, and that she had better defer it till the next
Sunday, and, in the mean time, take some gentle walks abroad, to enure
herself by degrees to bear the walk and the fatigue of remaining in the
church during the length of the service. He expressed his great dread of
her catching cold, and having a relapse in consequence; but she firmly
replied, that she never feared any evil when she was performing a sacred
religious duty; that God was too wise and too good to permit one of his
creatures to suffer, when in the act of obeying his commands; and she
urged so many pious reasons to shew the necessity of her not delaying to
perform what she termed her indispensable duty, that my father silently,
but very reluctantly, submitted to her decision.

But, alas! alas! my father's prophetic forebodings were but too well
founded! The ways of God are just, and the dispensations of his wisdom are
not to be scanned, much more disputed, by impious man; to submit to his
Divine will without repining, is the imperative duty of every sincere
Christian. I shall never forget the day, nor the care and anxiety of my
excellent father. We set off early, in order to walk leisurely to church,
that my mother should not be so heated as to render her liable to catch
cold; there was my mother leaning on the right upon my father, and on the
left upon me, and two of my sisters, Elizabeth and Sophia, the one about
five, and the other about seven years old, skipping lightly along before
us. My mother enjoyed the walk very much, and as my father led her into
the church, preceded by the clergyman, upon whom we had called in our way
thither, the whole congregation spontaneously rose up to greet and to
welcome their best and kindest benefactress and amiable neighbour. A gleam
of pleasure beamed from every eye, and the curtseys and bows that were
bestowed upon her, as she passed along the aisle, most clearly shewed that
they proceeded from the impulse of grateful hearts. With a heavenly smile
of inward delight, and with an air of the greatest sweetness, she returned
their kind salutations. It was an enviable sight, and it imparted to me
such sensations of pride and delight, as have been seldom, if ever,
equalled since. To see an amiable parent, upon such an occasion, receive
the spontaneous willing homage of three or four hundred, the whole, of her
poorer neighbours, and the sincere congratulations and kind attentions of
all her friends, of this happy village, was a scene never likely to be
erased from the memory; every heart appeared to leap with joy, and it
seemed to me as if that the whole congregation were preparing to join in
prayer, and to participate in the performance of the divine service of the
afternoon, with more than usual earnestness and zealous piety.

My mother, who was a tall, thin, elegant figure, and very fair, had a
roseate flush spread over her delicate features, and she looked beautiful
as she knelt to offer up her grateful and sincere adoration to the
omnipotent, omnipresent, merciful Disposer of All. I believe that my
father was the only person amongst the whole congregation who did not, at
that moment, enjoy unmixed delight. I could discover that his enquiring
eye was more frequently fixed upon my mother, than it was upon his
prayer-book; a sort of uneasy doubt sat visible upon his brow, and it was
plainly to be perceived that his prayers were interrupted by his
meditations upon the fearful consequences which he apprehended might be
the result of my mother's catching cold, by remaining within the walls of
a large damp building, and that building only inhabited for a few hours
once a week. But, while he was anticipating earthly misery by the loss of
the greatest blessing that kind Heaven had ever bestowed upon man, my
angelic mother's soul and body were alike absorbed in the most devout and
earnest prayer. In the mean time, the beautiful rosy hue, that had spread
such a lustre over her fair face, disappeared. My father's intense anxiety
now became so obvious to me that the dreadful uneasiness of mind which he
displayed drew my attention to the paleness which had succeeded the colour
upon her cheek. The instant the clergyman began to pronounce the
concluding prayer, "The peace of God," &c. my father flew across the seat,
while my mother was yet on her knees, joining most fervently and devoutly
in that beautiful sentence, and exclaimed, in a loud half whisper, which
was heard all over the church, "for God's sake! are you not well, my
love!" She appeared surprised at the earnestness of his manner, and rather
hurt at being interrupted in her devotions; but replied, that she was very
well, only a little cold. He hurried her out of the church, and scarcely
gave her time to return the salutations of her neighbours, requesting her
to take his and my arm, and hasten home as fast as possible, to avoid the
effect of a chill which he very much feared that she had taken in the

When we got home she was rather fatigued, but, though the colour that had
adorned her face did not return, she ate her dinner with a good appetite,
and my father began to hope that his fears were groundless. His hope was
soon blighted: my mother suddenly screamed out, saying that she had a
violent pain in one of her feet. She complained of this pain, sometimes in
one foot and sometimes in the other, till bed time; but my father, in
order to hide his own forebodings, endeavoured to rally her, and in a
joking way told her she was going to have the gout. She took some warm
gruel, and retired early to rest.

About twelve o'clock my father came into my bedroom to awake me, and
desired me to rise immediately, take my horse, and go for the family
apothecary, who lived at a distance of about five miles. I, who was
accustomed to rise at a moment's warning, jumped out of bed, and with the
greatest haste performed the sad office. I accompanied the apothecary to
her bedside before two o'clock, for I had made my poney almost fly thither
and back. We found my poor father, who had been anxiously attending the
progress of her disorder, in great distress. She had no sooner gone to bed
than she was seized with cold chills, which continued, with alternate
fever, the paroxysms of which had increased with such violence that she
was already partially delirious. The next day Dr. Barvis[7], from Devizes,
attended her and pronounced her in considerable danger. I mounted my
poney, rode back with him, and soon returned again with the medicine he
had prescribed; but my mother's disorder baffled all their skill and
attention. My poor father was distracted; he never quitted her bedside for
a moment; all his large farming concerns were left to the care of the
servants; he desired me to go to them on the Monday morning, the day after
my mother was taken ill, and to request them all to do their best in each
of their separate departments, and they were left entirely to themselves;
every other thought but what was directed to the attention and care of my
mother was abandoned; my father, whom I had never known to neglect seeing
all his servants once a day at least, and who suffered nothing to be done
unless it was under his immediate direction, would not now listen even to
an inquiry about his business; his whole soul was wrapped up in his
attention to my mother, whose illness he had anticipated with a presaging
spirit, even before it came upon her. I was incessantly employed in going
too and from the medical attendants, and assisting to wait upon my mother;
and from the time of her first attack she took nothing but from the hand
either of myself or my father. Her illness was now pronounced to be a
determined putrid fever, and she was continually in a delirious state. Her
infant son, William, had been kindly received to nurse by an excellent
neighbour, Mrs. Patient of Compton, a most worthy lady, who nursed him and
her own son together, with great good-nature and ease to herself.

My mother grew worse and worse, and was at length pronounced by the
physician past all hopes of recovery. My poor father was frantic; he, who
possessed the most manly resolution and firmness upon all other occasions,
was now by excessive grief and despair reduced almost to the level of a
child; he alternately wept and prayed; but he wept and prayed in vain. I
was at this time under seventeen years of age, and I had scarcely time to
vent my sorrow. Although I was distressed beyond measure at the suffering
of my mother, yet the affliction, the indiscribable anguish, of my father
demanded almost as much of my attention as the illness of my mother. To
see his noble soul bent down to the earth, driven almost to the madness of
desperation, was to me a more heart-rending spectacle than the delirium
which produced a sort of stupor in my mother. She had not been sensible
for any considerable period of time together for two days; and we were
under dreadful apprehensions that she would be taken from us without ever
recovering her reason. This my poor father dreaded excessively; yet the
very thing we most prayed for, proved, when it was ultimately granted to
us, our greatest affliction; so incapable are poor frail mortals of
judging what is best for them under such trying circumstances.

My mother had now lain as it were in a doze for about two hours, and my
father and myself, who were anxiously watching every breath, observed her
awake up, as if it were from a sound sleep; she appeared to feel as if she
had recovered from a trance; she spoke; and to the great joy of my father
and myself she was perfectly collected. But our joy was of the most
transient nature. She looked around in the most melancholy manner, and
having enquired where all the children were gone, she expressed a great
desire to see them before she breathed her last; for she said she was
perfectly sensible of her situation, and she must see her children once
more. They had all been removed to the house of a friend, as those who
remained were considered in imminent danger from infection, the putrid
state of my mother having assumed a very alarming appearance, and no one
was now left, except my father, myself, and the nurse; the maid servant
having already failed with the fever. My poor father had entreated, nay
had commanded _me_ also to save myself by flight; but upon my knees I
implored him to let me remain and participate with him in performing the
last sad office for my dear mother; I told him that I should break my
heart to leave him alone; for he really was now become an object of much
greater pity than my dying parent.

My mother repeated so earnestly her wish to see her children, that they
were immediately sent for, and she took a last sad farewell of them. They
were hastened out of the room, that they might be removed at once from
such a melancholy scene, and from the serious danger of contagion, arising
from the dreadful state of their mother. To those who have never witnessed
a parting of this sort, any attempt of mine to convey to them even a
slight representation of the agony it inflicts on those who undergo it,
would be in vain, for it is impossible. The great exertion of my poor
mother, during this affecting scene, was such as left her almost without
the power of speech; her respiration became excessively quick, and my
afflicted father exclaimed, "I shall never hear her voice again!" She,
however, soon recovered a little, and in the most plaintive strain
lamented her approaching end, and prayed aloud to her blessed Saviour, to
spare her life that she might have the happiness of seeing her children
brought up. In fact, this most excellent of women appeared very much to
dread the hand of death. My father now implored her to be tranquillised,
and, in the most tender and affectionate manner, assured her, that of all
living creatures she was, he thought, the best prepared to enter the
presence of her Creator. She calmly replied that though to her knowledge
she had never intentionally injured any human being, either in _thought,
word, or deed_; though she had never neglected her duty to her Maker, but
had always acted to the best of her judgment so as to deserve his mercy;
yet, she trembled, and doubted, and feared to die. My father now observed
that her voice faltered, and, to draw her attention from such a painful,
heart-rending subject, he asked her if she knew me, supposing that she was
becoming insensible. With the kindest look she took my hand, and gently
replied, "I know him perfectly well, God bless him!" She then seized his
hand also, and instantly expired, grasping both. Thus breathed the last,
of as bright, as lovely, and as perfect a pattern of Christian piety as
ever lived to grace society, and to adorn and bless a husband and family.

My father's sorrow was now become too intense for outward shew; he stood
dumb and motionless, with his eyes fixed and rivetted upon her, in whose
death he felt that he had sustained an irretrievable loss. We had both
still hold of her hands; his mute, immovable figure looked like a statue;
and I fancied that his heart was breaking. I seized him by the hand, and
in the most supplicating manner implored him to leave the room. My extreme
sorrow seemed to awake him from his trance; and I led him gently, and he
followed involuntarily, out of the chamber. Having seated him in his armed
chair, I knelt before him, and threw my head in his lap, there I gave a
loose to my grief, and mingled my tears with those which were now flowing
in streams down his manly cheeks. To endeavour to describe what I felt,
upon this melancholy event, would be puerile in the extreme; none but
those who have been placed in a similar situation are capable of
comprehending the distress which enters the soul of such a husband and
child, who had witnessed the last sad moments of such a wife and mother.

To have dwelt so long upon such a melancholy subject, may, perhaps, appear
to some of my readers to be not only unnecessary, but tedious. I must,
therefore, intreat their indulgence, by confessing my error, if an error
it be. At the same time I must assure them, that I believe this to have
not only been the most important event of my life, but that it was a
matter of more serious importance to me than all the occurrences of my
previous existence multiplied ten times ten fold; and this being the case,
I shall rely upon their kind forgiveness with great confidence; for I feel
that every incident of my life, for many years after this, may be fairly
said to have been influenced in some degree, or in some way or other, by
this ever to be regretted, never to be forgotten, loss.

My father remained absorbed in melancholy, shut himself up, and refused to
see any one till after the last sad office had been performed for my
mother. In the mean time, he gave me instructions to overlook all the
servants, and to superintend their work.

At length the day arrived for performing the ceremony of depositing her
honoured remains in the family vault, which was in the chancel of the
parish church. My father and myself followed as chief-mourners; and,
during the performance of the funeral service, I believe there was not a
dry eye amongst the numerous congregation who attended. Every one felt
that he had sustained a loss. My father was so agitated, that I thought at
one moment he would have thrown himself headlong into the grave, upon my
mother's coffin; and it was with some difficulty that he was drawn from
the sacred spot.

The maid servant was yet confined to her bed, very ill with the fever; and
my eldest sister, who was about thirteen years of age, also fell sick the
morning before the funeral took place. When we returned from church, we
found that she had been obliged to go to bed, and the apothecary declared
that she also had taken the fever. My father was very much alarmed for the
consequences, and he now devoted his whole attention to the care of my
sister, and left me entirely to manage his business.

The servant soon got well, in spite, as it were, of herself; for having
heard the dogs howl very much one night, the circumstance made such an
impression upon her weak, fearful mind, that it was with the greatest
difficulty she could be persuaded that she was better. The howling of the
dogs she considered as a certain omen of her death, and she gave herself
up entirely to this ridiculous notion; nor could any thing short of a most
excellent constitution have saved her from falling a prey to her own
superstition. However, having been almost forced out of her bed, and
persuaded with difficulty to put on her cloaths, she soon found, to her
great astonishment, that she was as well as ever she was in her life, with
the exception of being a little languid from the effects of the fever. The
recovery of poor BETTY KITE was a great comfort to the whole family; for,
although she was one of the plainest women in the world, and also very
illiterate, and full of superstition, yet she was an unequalled servant
both as to cleanliness and work. I was a great plague to her in various
ways. She not being the best tempered woman in the world, I used to
irritate her very much, by imitating the howling of dogs; and the
complaints that she frequently made to my father of my conduct to her were
truly ridiculous.

My father was now left a widower, in the prime of life; (at least he
considered himself quite in the prime of life at the age of fifty-eight)
with six children, myself the least, three sisters and two brothers. With
such a family, the loss of a mother is at all times, and under almost all
circumstances, the most serious and irreparable; but the loss of such a
mother as ours, alas it was most distressing! Ours was indeed a house of
joy turned into a house of mourning; it was not the same house, it was not
the same family. There stood my poor departed mother's chair, and the
sight of the vacant seat perpetually called forth our tears, and sighs,
and lamentations; my father would not have it removed,--but I must quit
this subject, or I shall dwell upon it for ever.

My sister recovered from the fever, but there remained such a languor and
weakness, that it was a long time before she could walk alone. My father
dreaded her loss now almost as much as he had before dreaded that of my
mother; he devoted a great portion of his time to her, and I was still
left to look after his very extensive business. I shall never forget the
authority I now began to assume. I was as dictatorial over the servants,
and gave my commands as peremptorily, as if I had been an old farmer. Some
of the old servants, who knew that my directions were improper, disputed
my commands, and expostulated against my proceedings. However, like a true
Jack in office, feeling that I was clothed with power, I considered this
"brief authority" to be all-sufficient, and, like all other ignorant
upstarts, what I was deficient in knowledge and real information, I made
up in positiveness. But I soon found that by this foolish course, I lost
all influence, and that I was laughed at by the old servants, who knew
very well how to please my father, and I was, therefore, astonished that
they did not know how to please me. My own sense now whispered to me that
I must be wrong, yet, I nevertheless, appealed to my father, and
complained of some of the servants having refused to comply with my
directions. He enquired what those directions were, and he soon taught me
that I ought to have applied for information to, and have followed the
advice of, those very men with whom I had been contending. My father then
pointed out to me the absolute necessity of becoming a master of my own
business, and learning how to do the work myself, before I attempted to
give directions to others. "This want of knowledge," said he, "causes more
than half of the quarrels and squabbles that arise between the master and
the servant. The moment a servant finds out that his master does not
understand the nature of his business, he immediately begins to dispute
his orders, and then there is an end of all authority; the master probably
perseveres in his error, and insists upon it that his servant has not done
his work properly, or that he has not done enough; and the moment a master
orders a servant to do what is unreasonable, that moment the servant
despises the master. And, unless the master knows how himself to shew the
servant with his own hands the way to do any thing, he had better hold his
tongue, and not find any fault whatever. I found my old neighbour Barnes,"
continued he, "the other day in this predicament. Although he has been for
many many years a farmer, and manages his farm as well as most men, yet,
as he was bred up a gardener, he does not know, nor did he ever learn, how
to perform many of the laborious parts of husbandry; and I shall, I am
sure, convince you, from what occurred to him, of the absolute necessity
of acquiring a knowledge of every minute operation belonging to the
affairs of husbandry, before you will be able to manage your business with
ease to yourself, and with satisfaction to your servants. As I was riding
past the risk yard of my worthy friend and neighbour Barnes's farm, I
heard him storming and blustering, quite in a rage with passion. "What is
the matter, friend Barnes? what is it that has ruffed your temper so?" He
was nearly choaked with passion; but at length he informed me, that one of
his labourers, of the name of RODNEY, (who, by-the-bye, I believe had
acquired this nick name from the circumstance of his having been a sailor,
and fought under Admiral Rodney) had behaved to him in the most insolent

"What has he done, neighbour Barnes?"

"Why," said he, "I found fault with the fellow several times, for not
making the _Helms_ properly, for thatching the ricks, and he told me as
often that he could not make them any better, and at length he put his
hand into his pocket, pulled out his purse, and with an oath declared that
he would make an Helm with me for a wager of a shilling." "Well, neighbour
Barnes, what did you do, did you accept his offer, or did you shew him how
to do it without the wager"? "Oh, no, replied he, I will send the insolent
scoundrel about his business." Upon which, guessing that my neighbour did
not understand how to make a helm himself, therefore could not shew the
man how to do it, I said, "let me see the fellow, and talk to him a
little, and hear what he has got to say for himself; and let me see
whether I cannot make him do his work better." We then rode back together
to the man, who was doing his work certainly not so well as it ought to
have been done. "Well, Rodney," said I to him, "what is all this dispute
about, between your master and you?" "Lord, Sir," replied the man, "I do
the work as well as I can; but master is always finding fault, and wont
show me how to do it better. I am very willing to learn, Sir, and if you
will please to show me how, I will do any thing to please in my power." I
then alighted from my horse, and having made some Helms, convinced the man
of his error, by ocular demonstration. He was very thankful for my
kindness, immediately followed my example, and did the remainder of his
work to the thorough satisfaction of his master as well as with ease to
himself. Barnes was now grown cool, and, while he expressed his thanks to
me, he admitted the great superiority that a man who knows the practical
part of his business had over one who only knew the theory."["]

This was the method my father took, to instruct me in useful knowledge;
and, as my sister grew better and gained strength, he by degrees began to
accompany me over his farms again, and in his rounds he made it his
peculiar business to explain every part of the operations that were in
progress by the servants. He appeared to take quite as much delight in
cultivating my mind as he did in cultivating the soil, and no man knew
better than he did how to cultivate the soil and manage a farm in all its
branches. When there was any particular work to do, I always made a hand
in it, and my father never failed to take pains to shew me how to do it
well, and in the most scientific manner; always observing, that no man
could perform his work well unless he appeared to do it easily to himself.
Sowing time came, I learned to sow; haymaking time came, I learned to mow;
harvest came, I learned to reap; in fact, I learned not only to plough, to
sow, to reap, to mow, to pitch, to load, to make ricks, to thrash, and to
winnow, but I made it my study to excel in all these things; and in
recounting some of my feats of activity, strength, agility, and
perseverance in these matters, the reader will recollect that I am
recording them in the life time of numerous individuals, who were
eye-witnesses of these facts, and who worked side by side with me; and as
I know that this work is taken in, and read, not only by my old
school-fellows, but also by my old[8] work-fellows, they who peruse these
pages will take into their consideration, that I am not writing, neither
are they reading, a novel or a romance; that on the contrary, they are
perusing the real facts that have occurred within the knowledge and the
recollection of thousands.

After the labour of the day was over, and the servants had retired to
their homes to obtain their natural rest, to fit them for the toils of the
coming morn, my father used to read, alternately with myself, some useful
or entertaining book; and be frequently lamented that I appeared to give
up so much the study of my Latin books. I had all along spent a few hours,
twice or three times a week, in reading the Classics with the Rev. Mr.
Carrington, the clergyman of the parish, who was an excellent scholar, and
a very sensible, liberal-minded, worthy man. To him I am greatly indebted
for a deal of useful, sound information, and a knowledge of that portion
of mankind with whom my father had never associated. Mr. now the Rev. Dr.
Carrington, the Rector of Berkeley, in Gloucestershire, took great
pleasure in completing my education; and at the end of one year, with the
advantage of this friendly assistance, I believe sincerely that I had
acquired more knowledge, both of literature and of ancient and modern
history, than I should have done in seven years at college.

Although my time was so much occupied in the business of the farms, yet I
longed for the refined instruction of the mind, which was conveyed with so
much kindness, with so much care, and with so much assiduity, by this
worthy and intelligent man. He was at that time denominated by the vulgar,
illiterate, grovelling, low-bred slaves of the day, a _jacobin_; and this
excellent, enlightened being, who possessed more real love of country than
a _legion_ of the reptiles with which he was surrounded, was constantly
exposed to the petty insults of some of his big-bellied, big-headed,
empty-pated neighbours, who termed themselves loyal and constitutional
subjects, and who took upon themselves to point him out as an enemy to his
country, because he did not choose to shut his eyes and join in the
war-whoop, the savage, stupid, ideotic cry against the patriotic efforts
that were then making by the friends of liberty in France, to rescue their
fellow countrymen from the accursed yoke, the double bondage of
superstition and tyranny.

This was the period that the people of England, at all times and in all
ages esteemed the most credulous people in the universe, were made drunk
with their own ignorance and folly. Mr. Paine had now written and
published his wonderful book, his "Rights of Man," and to put down, to
prevent the people from reading, to prejudice the public feeling, and to
misrepresent and to vilify the author and his work, the whole power of
this powerful government was put in motion. I was myself at this time too
young to take any active part in the proceedings; I knew nothing of
politics; I loved my country, and was taught to honour my king; I knew not
what to make of the violence and bigotry of faction; but I always so far
stood by, and gave that support to, my tutor and friend, as to demand that
he should be heard in his own defence, when any of these brutal attacks
were made upon him by his half-savage, half-human assailants. My father
was a loyal, but a liberal-minded man; when he was present, the parson
always had fair play; my father would combat his arguments, but he would
always in return hear his reply, and, although he was a very shrewd,
intelligent, well-informed man, yet I generally observed that Mr.
Carrington had the best of the argument, and that he frequently convinced
my father of the truth of his positions. As my father was obliged, in
fairness, to admit the truth of his opponent's assertions, and the
correctness of his reasonings, and the conclusions which he drew
therefrom, he generally finished by putting in the plea of necessity, and
defending the government and measures of Mr. Pitt, on the ground of
policy. This used to enrage their audience, which consisted of the farmers
of the parish and neighbourhood, among whom was frequently some upstart
puppy, some ineffable coxcomb, one of their sons, perhaps, apprenticed at
the neighbouring town, who came home on a Sunday, at Easter, Whitsuntide,
Michaelmas, or Christmas, on a visit, and who had imbibed a double portion
of the mania, in consequence of his having licked up the froth and saliva
which had been vomited forth by the ministerial agents and tools of the
rotten borough, or corporate town, of which his master was one of the
rotten limbs. How often have I seen one of these self-sufficient cubs,
with all the solemn mummery, without half the sense, of an ape, deliver
what the fool vainly called his opinion, which consisted of the most
stupid and senseless contradictions and assertions, generally finishing
with something which he conceived to be unanswerable, _"as our mayor
said!"_ How often have I felt my blood boil, to hear my worthy friend and
preceptor insulted by one of these contemptible jackanapes. In fact, more
than once, when I found that my friend the clergyman did not condescend
even to return a look of contempt in answer to such despicable trash, I
have taken up the cudgels myself; but, being fully as ignorant of such
matters as my opponent, it generally followed that I retorted nothing more
than flat contradictions to his assertions, and frequently I proposed to
settle the dispute by an appeal to force; and sometimes it actually ended
in blows. My worthy friend used at first to laugh at my zeal most
heartily; but when he found that I more than once concluded by a
_knock-down_ argument, he begged me to moderate my ardour, and
expostulated with me upon the impropriety, as well as the absurdity, of my
following the example of such contemptible opponents, by falling into the
very error which he and all good and honest men must deplore, "that of
resorting to brute force, instead of relying upon truth, reason, and

Yet though I was warmly his friend, I own I thought the parson took up the
matter too harshly against the measures of Mr. Pitt, and I could not
understand many of the grounds of complaint which he made against the
proceedings of government. I was taught to believe that those who promoted
the Revolution and guillotined the King of France were bloody-minded
fellows, and that the people of this happy country ought to do any thing
rather than submit to have its streets stained with the blood of their
monarch. I was in the habit of hearing all the ridiculous stories of
invasion, rapine, and murder, and of listening to all the hobgoblin
accounts of what we were to expect from our fellow creatures on the other
side of the channel, and my young mind was worked up to such a pitch, that
I longed to become one of the number of those who were going to resist and
to punish them if ever they dared to invade our happy shores; nay, I
always expressed my determination, if that day should ever arrive, that I
would not remain at home, wasting my time in inglorious ease and safety,
while they were disfiguring the fair face of our favoured Isle with blood
and conquest. My father, who had frequently heard me burst out in loud
declamation and expressions of a patriotic feeling of abhorrence, and
threaten defiance in case any attempt at invasion was made, began to
reason with me upon this subject; and he trusted that I should never put
myself forward to enter any of the volunteer corps, as they were called;
adding "why, do you not see that amongst these men every idea of sincere
patriotism or genuine love of country is a mere joke, a farce? Look
round," said he, "and you will find that nine out of every ten persons who
enter these corps do it at the command of their landlord, or some other
person in power, who is a magistrate, or the immediate agent of

I had never before heard my father talk in this manner; but our little
friend, the clergyman, appeared delighted to think that he had made a
convert of him, and he expressed his pleasure upon ascertaining this fact,
by hearing him talk to and admonish me in the way he did. He joined in my
father's censure of the selfish motives and views of those exclusively
loyal gentry, the yeomanry, and said they were a set of tools of the
government, who wished to enslave the minds as well as the bodies of their
fellow countrymen. "Hold! hold!" said my father to the parson, "you
mistake me if you think I am a convert to your doctrine, I am a truly
loyal man, and a sincere friend of the constitution both in church and
state; and if I thought these volunteer corps were raised for the sole
purpose of repelling the invasion of the French, I would not only wish my
son to enter into one of them, but I would also go myself, old as I am,
rather than live under a foreign domination. My opinion," said he, "always
has been that we ought not to have meddled with the affairs of France;
that we had quite enough to do to mind our own business, and if we could
only take care of our own concerns, and manage them with a little more
economy, and do justice by the people, and keep our magistrates and the
courts of law independent, upright and impartial in their decisions, we
need not dread the French, nor all the foreigners in the world put
together." "Why, really, my friend," replied Mr. Carrington, "you have now
been merely repeating that for which those whom you call jacobins have
been contending: they wish for nothing more than you have said we all
ought to have, with this exception, that they say, that the "only way to
secure this is by the means of a free and equal representation."" "Ah!"
said my father, "there's the rub; that word _equal_ will never go down; do
you want that _equality_ which has caused the shedding of so much blood in
France?" "No, Sir," said the parson, "we want equal justice, equal
political rights; in fact all we want, and all that the people require, to
make them free and happy, is _equal laws_ and an _impartial_ and _just
administration of those laws_, which we shall never have while the present
corrupt system lasts. However," said the clergyman to me, "my young
friend, do nothing hastily; but should you go into any of the yeomanry
corps, with your zealous feeling and patriotic love of country, I fear you
will be woefully disappointed if you expect to find any of your comrades
acting under a corresponding impulse. Their main object appears to be to
secure their corn ricks, and to keep up the price of their grain; and
their landlords, who are the officers of these their tenants, encourage
this measure, that they may be enabled to pay them high rents. Depend upon
it nine tenths of them are actuated by this selfish feeling; therefore,
let me advise you to reserve your disinterested and praiseworthy
patriotism for another and a better occasion." My father said there was
too much truth in our friend's observations, and under this impression I
was induced to forego my design of being among the first to volunteer into
one of these troops that were about to be embodied; and very much to the
satisfaction of my father, as well as to that of my tutor, I resolved to
redouble my attention to the business of the farm.

At this time, in the beginning of the year 1794, great alarm was raised
and propagated all over the country, of the introduction of French
principles. Party spirit ran high in every company and society. A great
portion of the enlightened part of the community protested in very loud
terms against the war, and numerous petitions were sent from various parts
of the country demanding peace. The debates in parliament were very
violent, and Mr. Fox, with an irresistible eloquence and a prophetic
voice, foretold the disasters that were likely to follow, if such a course
of hostility were pursued against the liberties of France, and he accused
the ministers of making and continuing the war for the purpose of
ultimately restoring the tyranny of the Bourbons, and replacing that
family upon the throne. This was disclaimed by all the ministers, and Mr.
Pitt broadly and unequivocally denied that they had any such intention.
The opposition moved to address the King to make peace, but this was
negatived by a large majority, and _war! war! war!_ eternal war against
French principles! was the cry which was resounded by all the agents of
the government throughout the country; and although this was lamented and
deplored by every humane, thinking, rational man, yet such was the fact,
that the nation was drunk with the clamour, and particularly the _lower
orders_ (for they then truly merited the degrading appellation). Church
and King mobs were the order of the day! Every honest man who had the
courage to express his opinion, was denounced as a jacobin; and great
depredations were committed in many parts of the country. Dreadful
outrages of this sort had been perpetrated at Birmingham, as far back as
the year 1792, by the drunken, hired, besotted populace destroying the
houses and property of several worthy and patriotic, and therefore
obnoxious, individuals. At Bath a very worthy man of the name of Campbell
had his house pulled down by one of these drunken church-and-king mobs,
merely because he took in the COURIER NEWSPAPER, published by the
notorious DANIEL STEWART, who was a violent republican, and who propagated
his principles and doctrines in that paper. I am informed that the _hired
wretches_, who acted under authority, actually pulled down this poor
fellow's house to the tune of _God save the King;_ many of the loyal
inhabitants of that loyal town, who were standing by looking on, excited
them to persevere, by joining in the chorus. Poor Campbell was ruined by
the loss of his house and furniture, which broke his heart. The fact of
his taking in the Courier was understood to have arisen from his
acquaintance with Stewart, with whom he had been in the habits of intimacy
when they were both JOURNEYMEN TAYLORS. This notorious DANIEL STEWART, who
has made a _large fortune_ by turning his coat, and devoting the columns
of the Courier to the ministers, is still the same man at the bottom of
his heart; and I understand, from those who are his pot companions, that
he is as violent a _jacobin_ and supporter of revolutionary doctrines over
his cup as he ever was. To call such a miserable creature as this a
_radical_, would be to cast a greater stigma upon the word radical than
all that Castlereagh, Brougham, and Canning ever sent forth against those
who bear it. It is confidently asserted by those who profess to know his
private concerns, that he has feathered his dirty nest well, and that, as
the best means of securing his ill gotten pelf, he has lately invested it
in the _French funds_, to the amount of one hundred thousand pounds!

On the first of June in this year, 1794, the _brave sailors_ under Lord
Howe defeated the French fleet, took seven sail of the line, and brought
them into Spithead; and it was announced that the king and queen and the
royal family were going to Portsmouth, to thank and to congratulate Lord
Howe and those brave officers who had survived the dreadful slaughter of
the engagement. As the _Prince of Wales_, a ninety-six gun ship of war,
was to be launched upon the occasion, a great number of persons from the
part of the world where I lived, which was about fifty miles from
Portsmouth, were going there to see the launch, and to witness the effect
of this bloody battle. I was very anxious to make one of the party, and I
expressed my wish to my father, with which he positively refused to
comply. This refusal arose from some little misunderstanding we had about
a favourite maid servant of his who lived with us at the time, to whom I
had not conducted myself with all the attention that she required. She had
therefore caused that sort of shyness and distance between my father and
me, which rendered my home not so pleasant as it had heretofore been, and
indeed exactly the reverse of what it had been in my poor mother's life
time. My father assigned as a reason for his detaining me, that there was
some hay about, and although this was of very trivial moment, it being a
very small quantity, yet he positively refused to give his consent to my
going. I urged my plea of constant attention to business, and my
extraordinary personal exertions for several years past, wherein I had
done more work than almost any two of his men servants, and I demanded to
know if he had ever seen me neglect his business, or shift from performing
the severest labour? He admitted that he had no fault to find with me, and
that he did not require that I should work so hard; nay, he added, that,
so far from having any complaint to make against me for not working, he
thought I tasked myself too much, and that he was fearful that I should
injure myself by such excessive exertions as he had frequently witnessed.
"Then pray, Sir," said I, "why will you not allow me a little recreation?
this small indulgence?" I promised I would return at the end of two days.
But all would not do. I found that his favourite maid had prejudiced him,
and I was foolish enough to hint this to him, which he resented very
warmly, and gave me a lecture in such language as I had never before
received from him. At length we rose to very high words, and the dispute
was of so serious a nature that he almost ordered me out of doors. It
ended in my declaring that _nothing should deter me_ from going to
Portsmouth, and by his declaring that, if I did, I should never enter his
house again; and in order to put my threat of going out of my power, he
took _my horse_, which was already saddled, instead of his own, and rode
out to the other farm.

Burning with rage at this harsh, this unusual, as well as unjust
treatment, I rushed up stairs, and began dressing myself for the journey.
My sister flew up stairs with tears in her eyes, and upon her knees
implored me not to think of going. I coolly asked her if she had heard
what passed between my father and me. She replied that she had heard it
with the greatest astonishment and dismay, and that she had heard my
determination with the greatest pain. Although she knew too well the cause
of my father's harshness to me, and felt most acutely the reason of his
ill humour, which she herself had sometimes partaken of, and had borne in
silence, yet she dreaded the effect of my leaving home. However, all her
expostulations were in vain; _I had made my resolve_, and that once done
with me, _even then_, nothing but death would have deterred me from
carrying it into effect. Having dressed myself, I saddled my father's
favourite horse, as he had taken mine, and having mounted him, I was
twenty miles on my road to Portsmouth in less than two hours.

I slept with a friend, and started the next morning at four o'clock, to
ride the remaining thirty miles, in order to be there by eleven o'clock,
which was the hour the ship was to be launched. On the other side of
Andover I overtook a gentleman, of the name of NEALE, who, as well as
myself, was also going to Portsmouth, to see the Royal Family. I had known
him a little when a boy at school at Andover, and having soon learned each
others intentions, we agreed to go in company together. We intended to
have breakfasted at Winchester, but we were too early, all the windows and
doors of the inns were shut, and we passed on till we came to Whiteflood,
a small inn by the road side, where we got good corn for our horses, and
an excellent breakfast for ourselves.

We arrived at Gosport about nine o'clock, and having put up our horses we
crossed to Portsmouth about ten. The gates of the dockyard were closed,
and we were told that we were too late to be launched in the man of war,
that the king, queen, and three or four of the princesses were at the
governor's house, and the ship would be launched at eleven precisely. I
had more anxiety about being launched _in_ a ship of war, never having
seen any thing of the sort before, than I had about any thing; therefore I
felt greatly mortified at being too late, and I began to try the
experiment of bribing the gatekeeper, who had positive orders not to let
any one pass after that hour. My friend Neale, seeing it in vain to remain
there, took another course, and said he would get a boat to see the
launch, if he could not get into it; but as I had set my heart upon being
in the ship when it was launched, I remained at the door. As soon as I was
alone with the door-keeper, I renewed my application, and finding that he
began to relax, I plied him close, and he soon put me in the way how to
_cheat the devil_. He asked if I did not know any one who lived in the
dock yard, and I instantly made up my mind to say yes, and urged him to
repeat some of their names. This he did, and I was luckily saved the
disgrace of telling a lie, for the second person he named was an old
school-fellow of mine; and I never in my life claimed acquaintance with
any old friend with so much alacrity and pleasure. A half crown now opened
the gates, and in I went, a fine sunburnt country youth, and made my way
to my friend's house as fast as possible. Another check! he was from home!
I then hastened to the part where the majestic Prince stood upon her few
remaining stocks, ready at a moment's notice for the signal of being
launched into the watery element. But no entrance was to be obtained! all
communication was cut off from the dock to the vessel, except by one step
ladder, strongly guarded, waiting for the arrival of the principal
commissioner, who had gone to conduct the royal family to the sort of
balcony that was erected to enable them to see the whole of the launch
with ease and safety. I now placed myself as near as possible to the foot
of this ladder, anxiously waiting the arrival of the commissioner. At
length the old gentleman arrived, dressed in an admiral's uniform. The
pressure of the crowd _was immense_; but, although it was the first crowd
I had ever had to encounter, I made a dash and forced my way through,
close up to the foot of the ladder and, as the old officer ascended, I
sprang through the sentinels and up the steps, and held him fast by the
skirt of his coat. The sentinels seized me and pulled me back, with great
violence. _I held fast_, and down came the commissioner and myself
together to the bottom of the ladder. The old boy stared, and the
sentinels swore, but I _still held fast_. They endeavoured to release him,
and struck me some hard blows. With one desperate effort, however I sprang
by the commissioner, and was up the ladder like a cat. I was seized at the
top to be handed back again, and as I was about to make a determined
resistance, the commissioner came up and kindly released me, and after a
gentle reprimand for placing him in such danger, I was permitted to remain
on board and to be launched in the _Prince of Wales_; having got on board
more than an hour after all other communication had been cut off from her:
and I obtained this gratification in the presence of thousands, who hailed
the success of my daring perseverence by giving me _three cheers_. This
was the first act of my life that gained me the cheers of a large
multitude, and I was not a little proud of the compliment. I believe there
were upwards of a thousand persons on board, and I was struck with
astonishment at the stupendous magnitude of a ship of war of the first
rate. On the larboard side of this magnificent specimen of the wooden
walls of old England, sat the venerable monarch George the Third with his
Queen and their fine family of Princesses in all their pride and beauty,
two or three of them at that time being remarkably fine young women. I
believe they were accompanied by one of the princes, and on the side of
the king stood the victorious hero of the day, Lord Howe, commonly called
by the sailors, _Black Dick_. In a few minutes, unknown and unobserved by
me, the signal was given, and she glided almost imperceptibly from the
stocks into the middle of the harbour, thus riding most majestically
dignified in the midst of applauding and admiring myriads who hailed her
progress with enthusiastic cheers; the king, the queen, and the princesses
all waving their handkerchiefs. Such was the beauty of this launch, and
such was the skill with which it was accomplished that the only sensation
which I felt was, that the other ships, that were along side of us,
appeared to move gently from us. A boat now came alongside of her, being
hailed by a party, of which the late John Weeks, who then kept the Bush at
Bristol, was one, and he began to descend[9] when a thought struck me,
that as I was the last person, except the commissioner of the Dock-yard,
who came on board, so I should like to be the _first_ out of her; and the
thought was no sooner conceived than I put it in execution.

Although there were two or three persons going down the ladder on the side
of the ship before me, yet I made a spring and jumped fourteen or fifteen
feet, and reached the boat first, at the imminent risk of swamping her. I
did not get any cheers for this, but many a reprimand for my temerity.
But, as my poor father used at that time to say, that it was a word and a
blow with me; I was very quick in forming a plan, and when I had once made
up my mind, it was generally executed with the rapidity of lightening. I
returned, and dined at the Fountain Inn with the party from Bath and
Bristol, and in the evening I called again upon my old school fellow,
whose father held some situation and lived in the dock yard, but I do not
now recollect his name. He was at home, and was very happy to see me, and
having introduced me to his father, mothers and sisters, together with
some friends who were on a visit, I drank tea with them; and being offered
it, I most willingly accepted part of his bed, a valuable acquisition to
me, as a bed was not to be had, either in, or within ten miles of
Portsmouth, for love or money.

Before I rose in the morning, my young friend informed me that, in the
course of the forenoon, I should have an opportunity of seeing the royal
family, as they were going to inspect the dock-yard, and on that account
the gates were kept closed, that they might not be annoyed by the crowd,
which would otherwise have impeded their progress. He said that he must
not appear, but he thought I might, as a stranger, take an opportunity of
getting very near them, without creating any particular notice.

I took the hint, and thanked him most cordially for the information; and
when the royal party came round, I joined them without any ceremony. They
were attended by very few persons, among whom were Lord Howe and the
_commissioner_ to whom I had caused such a fall the day before: the latter
eyed me immediately, and shook his head, but in such a good humoured way
that it encouraged me to remain rather than otherwise. I therefore now
joined the party, at a respectful distance. At the entrance of the cable
room lay a piece of a very large cable, about six feet long, to which Lord
Howe called the attention of the royal family, by stating that it was part
of the cable of the _French admiral's ship_, and that it had been shot off
at that length by two balls from the English fleet, which were supposed to
have struck it at the same moment at six feet distance. Lord Howe also
said that there was a twelve pounder ball stuck into it also, but as it
lay on the ground, and they could not see it, he ordered one of the
attendants to heave it upon its end. It was however, too heavy, and the
man could not accomplish it, but let it fall back again. The commissioner
was calling some one to assist, when I sprung forward, and having seized
it, I heaved it upright in an instant; for which the gallant admiral as
well as the commissioner thanked me, and I held it nearly a quarter of an
hour, while the king and all the family examined it, as it was esteemed a
great curiosity, and a striking proof of the heat and severity of the
engagement. The king very politely now thanked me, and the queen
particularly so, and expressed a desire that some one should help me to
sink it down again, fearing that it was too heavy for me; but I was
anxious to shew my strength, as well as my gallantry, and I sunk it into
its place on the ground again, with great ease. The princesses deigned a
smile, which I esteemed a very high reward. After this I went round the
whole dock yard with the party, and offered my assistance whenever it was
wanted, which was accepted with the greatest politeness; the princesses
entering at times freely into conversation with me.

At length the commissioner took me aside, and asked me how I came into the
dock yard. I stated the fact to him as it was, and he then said he had his
Majesty's command to ask my name. I told him my name, what was my
occupation, and whence I came; and the king hearing that I was the son of
a large Wiltshire farmer, asked me many questions relating to the crops,
&c. &c. all of which I answered very much to his satisfaction, and when
they departed, he politely took leave of me. The reader may easily
conceive that I was not a little proud of the opportunity I had of being
so near, and of having such means of conversing with, the royal party.

I forgot to notice, that the _Prince of Wales_, the ship which was
launched the day before, had been got back again into Dock, the same
afternoon, and was this day exhibited to his majesty _completely
copper-bottomed_, which operation had been performed in _twenty-four
hours_ by the workmen in the yard; an instance of speed and of the power
of well-directed and incessant labour, which never was before, and
probably never has since, been equalled in the annals of ship-building. I
went on board some of the captured French ships of war, that had been
cleared up from the carnage of the battle for the inspection of the royal
visitors; but, notwithstanding the care which had been taken to put them
in a state fit to be viewed, the visible proofs of the horrible slaughter
met the eye in every direction, and the recollection of the sight, even at
this distance of time, makes the heart sicken.

Although I was at this time in the zenith of my loyalty, I could not avoid
enquiring of myself whether all this blood and carnage, all this waste of
valuable life, was absolutely necessary? Whether no means could have been
devised to settle the point in dispute, without resorting to arms, and
sacrificing the best blood of both countries? On the one hand, the too
common feeling was, that it was absolutely necessary, and almost all those
who were the loudest in their lamentations, and who appeared most to
deplore the dreadful loss of so many gallant men, were at the same time
the greatest advocates of the war, and boldly justified it upon the score
of dire necessity; adding, that it was better a few should suffer in war,
than that the whole country should be overrun by an invading army, which
they would have us to believe was composed of such monsters as would never
rest satisfied, unless they murdered us all, young and old, male and
female. The republicans of France were described as wild beasts of the
most ferocious kind, whose only delight was in blood, and who never spared
either _age_ or _sex_. But yet it often occurred to me, should but the
opinion, the representations of my worthy friend and tutor be correct,
that not the French republicans, but those who supported the war, the
English ministers, were the bloody minded monsters; that they, as he
asserted, were the cause of the war, in order to restore the old tyranny
that had desolated France, and had for so many centuries enslaved a brave,
an intelligent, and a truly gallant people? These reflections would
frequently come across my mind; but we were told they were threatening to
invade us, and the threat of an invasion always roused the spirit of every
British heart, and made it glow with the desire to repel them.

I had now seen nearly all the sights, and as I had been absent from home
four days, I began to bend my thoughts that way; but the reflection that I
had left my father, not only without his leave, but also against his
consent, now began to render every thing that others appeared to enjoy
very irksome to me. I, however, mustered courage, took my horse, and
reached home in the afternoon of the fifth day. At the door I met my
father, who received me in the most hostile manner. He lavished his
imprecations upon my head, and as he burst out of the room, he, in a
paroxysm of passion, ordered me to quit his house, and see his face no
more. Springing by me in a menacing manner, he repeated his denunciations,
declaring that I should not remain under his roof. He then went to the
stable, took his horse, which I had just brought home, mounted it, and
rode away towards his Farms.

Young and foolish as I was, I felt that I had given him cause of just
complaint, although I thought his conduct displayed an unnecessary and
unbecoming rigour, in refusing me such an indulgence in the first
instance? My eldest sister implored me to endeavour to conciliate my
father, and informed me how uneasy he had been since my first departure,
and what a wretched house they had had at home. But his determined aspect
at leaving me, the threats which he held out, and the peremptory tone in
which he ordered me to depart from his house, appeared to me to admit of
no alternative; and therefore, with a desperate determination I hastened
up stairs, and packed up a small portmanteau, and, in less than half an
hour, in spite of the entreaties of my sister, I was mounted upon my own
horse, and took a final leave, as I expected, of that home where I had
passed so many delightful happy days.

As I embraced my afflicted sister, who had fainted upon seeing my
determination, and who was now relieved by a flood of tears, I could not
refrain from calling aloud upon the angelic spirit of my dear departed
mother, who had she been alive this dreadful calamity had never befallen
me or our family. I tore myself from my sister, who was in an agony of
grief, and who now upon her knees implored me to think of my father, and
how miserable my leaving home again, under such distressing circumstances,
would make him; she used all the arguments which her reason could suggest,
to persuade me that it was my duty to bear with his temper, and to submit
to his will, however arbitrary. But, as I was now of age, and as I had
laboured incessantly in my father's business for nearly five years, and
had scarcely ever left it for a day, I was mortified at his unnecessary
severity, in denying me the privilege of a day or two upon such an
occasion; and, besides, as my father's temper was very much altered since
the death of my mother, and my home was become not at all comfortable of
late, I was unfortunately not in the humour to brook such harsh treatment;
nor indeed, did I know how it was possible for me to remain after his
determined behaviour at quitting me. I therefore, most unwisely and most
imprudently, started off as I thought to seek my fortune; determined, at
all events, if I could not live in my father's house, that I would leave
the kingdom.

I rode to Bath, a distance of thirty miles, in about three hours, whence,
having baited my horse, I rode forward to Bristol, where I arrived and put
up at the _White Lion_, in Broad-street, about eight o'clock; having
ridden from Portsmouth to Bristol, a distance of ninety five miles, in
about thirteen hours. I was not known to any one at the inn, nor to any
one in Bristol except a Mr. Gresley, of whom my father rented Littlecot
Farm. I found him out immediately, and he received me with great kindness,
expressing himself most happy to see me, as he had repeatedly given me
invitations to come and visit him. I carefully concealed the rupture with
my father, and, very luckily for me, I was in very good hands, as my
friend, although an easy voluptuary, was nevertheless an amiable and a
good-hearted man, and took care to check instead of encouraging me in any
soft of debauchery, which a youth of my age was so likely to fall into in
such a profligate city.

I began the very next day to look out for some situation amongst the
captains of vessels outward bound, and I was soon introduced to a very
worthy man, a friend of Mr. Gresley's, who, in the course of ten days, was
about to sail to Africa in the command of a vessel upon the slave trade. I
soon imparted to him my wish to go abroad in some active situation; but I
bound him to secrecy, even with my friend Gresley. He professed to be very
much pleased with me, but endeavoured, by every means in his power, to
prevail upon me to abandon my design; and he pointed out to me, in very
glowing colours, all the miseries and all the perils which were incident
to a sea-faring life, and did every thing that he possibly could, to
persuade me to return to my father's house. At length I told him that I
was irrevocably determined to look out for a situation, and to close with
the first captain who would give me a birth, and the longer the voyage the
better I should be pleased with it; for I was resolved upon leaving
England, as I could not bear the thoughts of remaining in this country,
and an alien from the house of my father. At last, after he had
ascertained that I was immutably resolved to go to sea, he at once made me
an offer of taking me out as his _clerk and cabin friend_. I jumped at the
offer, but told him that I had but little money, and was, perhaps, ill
prepared for such a voyage. He then made one more trial to prevail upon me
to return, but with as little success as before. Finding that it was in
vain to reason any further, he then said that be would equip me the next
morning, at his own expense, with all the necessary clothing, &c. &c. for
the voyage; and he added, that if he were successful, of which he had no
doubt, he would pay me something handsome for my services, which he
anticipated would be very valuable to him.

The morning came without my having closed my eyes, I having been entirely
occupied the whole of the night with the thoughts of my undertaking, to
which I looked forward with the greatest enthusiasm, regardless of the
atrocious occupation upon which I was about to enter. In fact, it did not
once occur to me, that the slave trade was any worse than any other trade,
so little had I thought upon it, and so little did I know of the nature of
it at that time. Thousands being engaged in it, who were protected by the
laws, it never came into my head that I was about to commit any moral
crime. Indeed, I was driven to such a state of desperation by the quarrel
which I had had with my father, and was so indignant at what I thought his
cruel treatment, that I was a fit subject for any enterprise, even had it
been ten times more desperate than that in which I was about to engage;
and, having once made up my mind to the thing, I thought of nothing else
till my trunk of clothes was ready and on board. That being effected, I
went down with the captain, and took possession of my cabin and birth in
the vessel, which lay off King's-road, and, as she was ready to sail with
the first fair wind, I should have staid on board had not the captain
insisted upon my taking leave of Mr. Gresley, and sending my horse back to
my father. Although I considered the horse as my own, and had been offered
thirty guineas for him, yet such was the liberality and proper feeling of
the captain, that he absolutely refused to take me unless I returned the
horse, and I consequently, in his presence, hired a man to take him off
the next morning.

I was to see Mr. Gresley by appointment at the White Lion at nine o'clock
that evening, and was to go down with the captain, at eight the next day,
to the vessel, which was to weigh anchor at ten, and drop down the Bristol
Channel with the tide. The wind being fair, we expected to be off
Ilfracombe the same night. Every thing was arranged; I had written home,
and taken leave of my father and my sister, lamenting the cause, but
rejoicing in the prospect, of my voyage; I had drank tea with the captain,
and was anxiously waiting the arrival of our mutual friend Gresley to
break the affair to him, and at the same time to take leave of him, when
the waiter announced a gentleman enquiring for Mr. Hunt. I rose to
receive, as I supposed, my friend Gresley, and was prepared to give him a
brief explanation of my intentions, when, lo! who should walk in but an
intimate friend of my father's, who had just arrived in his own carriage
from Bath, in search of the fugitive. He immediately produced a letter
from my father, not only inviting my return home, not only promising
forgiveness to me, but actually intreating _my_ forgiveness for his
harshness towards me, and imploring me to hasten home, and relieve him
from the terrible state of misery to which my absence had reduced him. The
language of his letter was such as would have melted the heart of a much
more hardened offender than I was--but, I had made an engagement with the
captain, and I told my father's friend that I was sorry that he was come
too late, but that no consideration whatever should make me run from the
engagement which I had contracted with him, at my own particular request.
It is true that I felt an irresistible impulse to embrace my beloved
father again; that to be restored to his good opinion was a treasure to
me, far surpassing all and every prospect that my sanguine hopes had
painted in the most vivid colours upon my enthusiastic imagination, and
that I felt for a moment a struggle between _honour and duty_; yet, I am
almost ashamed to relate it, but the truth must be told, that I instantly
declared that as I had gone so far, no power on earth should deter me from
fulfilling my engagement with Captain ----. This worthy, warm-hearted, and
disinterested fellow, however, instantly protested, that under such
circumstances, with such a prospect of my being restored to my family and
friends, nothing in the world should induce him to take me with him.

At this moment, my friend Gresley arrived, and heard, from the captain and
my father's friend, my obstinate resolve with the greatest astonishment.
He assured me that, unless I instantly gave up all thoughts of going, he
would get a warrant from his friend, the mayor, to detain me by force.
This was, however, unnecessary; for, after the captain's generous and
manly avowal, I yielded without farther delay to the earnest entreaties of
all present, and I believe that the worthy captain felt as much real
delight and happiness at the result as anyone of the party. My father's
friend offered to pay the captain for any expence that he had been put to
on my account, but the latter positively refused to take a farthing,
adding, that he should sell what he had provided for me for two hundred
per cent. profit, and that he would rather lose two hundred per cent. than
forego the pleasure he felt at the idea of a reconciliation, between his
young friend and his father.

The kindness of my father's letter had a great effect upon me; the
expressions of sorrow which it contained at my departure, and the
assurance, that he would be completely miserable till my return, recalled
all his former kindness to me, and I would instantly have set out on my
way home, although it was now dusk, and it rained in torrents, I had
already ordered my horse to be saddled--that horse which I had the same
evening paid a man twelve shillings to take back to my father's house
without his master, I was now eager to mount myself, that I might fly to
receive my parent's blessing, and acknowledge my error in disobeying his
commands. But my friends all entreated me to defer my departure till the
morning, to which I reluctantly consented, and retired to bed about twelve
o'clock, after having taken a most affectionate leave of the _worthy,
generous, and kind-hearted captain_. Good God! how often have I been since
rivetted to the earth, as it were with astonishment, when I contemplated
such a man being employed upon such a cruel, unjust, unchristian,
murderous traffic as that of the _slave trade_!

I certainly retired to my bed, having ordered the ostler to get my horse
ready by three o'clock; but no rest did I obtain. For the first time in my
life, I now learned what it was to go to bed without being able to go to
sleep; for two long hours, I tossed and turned about a thousand times, but
deep had flown from my eyes. I heard the quarters strike, and the watchman
go his lonely round; my thoughts were all at home, and I was wretched till
I threw myself at my poor distressed father's feet, to claim with a
certainty of receiving his blessing and forgiveness. I, who, but a few
hours before, expected and intended to bid farewell to my native land, and
to leave behind me all that was dear and valuable to me in this world; I,
who was prepared to sail the next morning, almost without regret, and had
thoughtlessly undertaken to become one of those who were the most horrid
and most unnatural of all unnatural and horrid thieves and murderers; I,
who should have gone to bed and slept as sound as a rock under such
circumstances till I was called in the morning, could not, now I was about
to return to my kindest friends, and to make myself and my father happy, I
could not sleep one moment. Gracious God! upon what a precipice had I
stood! from what a world of misery was I rescued, by the kind hand of
Providence! for if I had gone upon such an errand, and if I had been
instrumental in robbing one _human being or fellow creature_ of his life,
or of what was more valuable to him--his LIBERTY, it would afterwards have
been to me a source of never-failing misery. Thank God! I was saved from
that pang. Had my father's messenger come twelve hours later, I should
have been sailed, and in all probability have been a participator in such
crimes as I should never have forgiven myself, for having joined in

The clock struck two; I could remain in bed no longer; I jumped up, and
having found my way into the yard, I roused the ostler, and having got my
horse saddled, I passed Temple Gate just as the clock struck three; and
without drawing bit more than once, I reached home before nine o'clock, a
distance of forty-five miles. My father and my sister met me at the door;
but to attempt to describe the affecting reconciliation would be only
doing an injustice to my own feelings. My poor father, however, would
scarcely allow me to offer any apology for my undutiful behaviour; he took
all the blame to himself; he had reflected more than I had upon the
consequences of my voyage, the full particulars of which I found he knew,
he having received an account of my every movement, and known all my
plans, which had in confidence been communicated by the honest captain to
Mr. Gresley, that he might apprise my father of them and endeavour by all
the means in his power to procure for me, if possible, a reconciliation
before he sailed; he being resolved to convince himself that all hopes of
that desirable object were fruitless ere he permitted me to accompany him.
This was an instance of the most disinterested friendship, and I have
every reason to believe that he even delayed the sailing of the vessel for
several days, in order to give time for Mr. Gresley to send to my father.
This information Mr. Gresley communicated without delay, and my father no
sooner received it, than he dispatched a confidential messenger, his
neighbour, Mr. John Coward of Enford, with a strict injunction not to
spare any pains to find me, and to hasten my return home.

My Father who had hitherto, since the death, of my mother, conducted
himself towards me with a degree of austerity and rigid discipline not
altogether calculated to conciliate my hasty disposition, now relaxed his
usual strictness, and ever afterwards proved himself not only a kind
parent, but an indulgent and sincere Friend.--He lamented upon this
occasion the severe loss of my mother, in which I most heartily joined;
for we both attributed the late dispute and separation to the want of an
amiable mediator, which, if my poor mother had been alive, she would have
been upon this, as she had been in many former instances, in which she had
been of the greatest utility and benefit, as a peace-maker and promoter of
family happiness and concord. My father, who had long since witnessed with
some anxiety my aspiring disposition, now began to dread the evil
consequences of those lofty notions of patriotism, and that disinterested
love of country, which in my earlier years he had taken so much pains to
instil into my young mind, and had been so anxious that I should imbibe.
He now viewed my daring spirit with a mingled pleasure and pain; he
dreaded the result of such ardent feelings, because he foresaw that they
would lead me into the greatest difficulties and dangers, unless he
checked them by timely control. He now freely told me that he was actuated
by this motive when he refused to give me his consent to go to Portsmouth,
to witness the effects of Lord Howe's brilliant victory over the French
fleet. He told me, too, that he had the same object in view, when, the
summer before, he refused my application, to go and see the grand review
on Bagshot Heath. It was, however, at too late a period that he began to
check my patriotic ardour; he had, himself, "bent the twig," and it had
grown too powerfully in the direction which he had given to it to be
directed to any other. Although I was no politician at that time, yet my
bosom glowed with as sacred a love of country, with as strong a
predilection for the rights and liberties of the people, with as pure
disinterested love of truth and justice, as ever warmed the youthful heart
of man.--yet, notwithstanding I was a loyal man to the backbone, I never
joined in, or approved of, the persecution of any one, for holding
opinions different from those which I, myself, openly professed. I knew
many persons who were called _jacobins_ at this time, and although I
thought them violent in their principles and professions, yet I never
quarrelled with any of them upon the score of opinion. I was always the
first to stand forward to protect the oppressed; and I began sincerely to
sympathise with the labouring poor. I had now, for some years, worked with
them side by side, day by day, week by week, month by month, and year year
by year. I had toiled in the field with the labourers of my father; I had
heard their complaints; I had witnessed their increasing privations; and
although I often checked the ebullition of their discontent, which I
sometimes attributed to disaffection, yet I never mocked their misery, I
never persecuted or oppressed any one, because he was considered a
disaffected person, or what was a synonymous term a jacobin. In fact, I
sometimes got myself into very disagreeable situations, for expressing my
love of fair play. Once, in particular, I remember I was in the boxes at
the theatre at Salisbury, when there was a violent party call for "God
save the King." I was one of the loyal who as loudly demanded this tune to
be played as any loyal man in the house; after some trifling opposition
the call was complied with, and the performers came forward upon the stage
and sung it: there was then a call for hats off, and I have no doubt that
I was as zealous in this call as any one, because, in the first place I
really was a loyal man, and I was in the side boxes with a very loyal
party. There was, however, one person, in the centre of the front row of
the pit, who kept his hat on, and steadily refused to pull it off. This
caused a great uproar, and a general call to turn him out. At length, some
persons near him attempted to pull his hat off by force; but he defended
himself for some time with great success, and kept his hat still on his
head. By this time the national air was finished, but still there was a
call to pull his hat off and to turn him out; he was surrounded now by
numbers, who, urged on by those in the boxes, not only forcibly deprived
him of his hat, but likewise began to use him ill. I was now as loud in my
demand for _fair play_ as I had been previously for hats off. They still
persisted in their endeavour to turn him out, which he as manfully
resisted, although he was surrounded with a host of foes, without any one,
not even his friends who were with him, offering to give any assistance. I
cried shame! shame! shame! as loud as I could, and demanded fair play. He
had by this time at least a dozen assailing him at once, and they had
actually got him upon the spikes of the orchestra, with an intention to
throw him over out of the pit among the musicians. I felt enraged and
indignant at such unmanly conduct, and at length I sprung out of the box
into the pit, and having rushed up to him, I dealt the cowardly crew that
were attacking him some heavy falls, and soon cleared off the gang, so
that the person, whom they had literally got hanging upon the spikes, was
enabled to extricate himself. In effecting this, I received as well as
gave many severe blows; and by some I was considered as very foolish for
interfering, while all the loyal loudly blamed me for preventing his being
turned out. Although I very much disapproved of the gentleman's taste and
stubbornness, yet I could not look on and see a fellow man ill-used for
expressing his opinion, because that opinion was contrary to my own
sentiments. However, the play now proceeded, and the gentleman, Mr John
Axford of Eastcot, was allowed to keep his seat and his hat on,
uninterrupted, to the end of the performance.

In consequence of this circumstance, I afterwards became very intimate
with Mr. Axford, who was very grateful for my assistance, and I, although
I disapproved of his politics, could not but admire his independent
spirit. He was a man of a most amiable character, much intelligence, and a
quick penetration; a great reader of the political history of this and the
neighbouring countries, he possessed the most retentive memory, and could
repeat almost all that he read. Of the French Revolution, and of Mr.
Paine's Rights of Man, he was an enthusiastic admirer, and a determined
enemy to the war that England was carrying on against the people of
France. In fact, he was a lover of truth, justice and liberty, and
therefore was of course denominated a jacobin. He lived and died railing
against the unjust and unnecessary war which the ministers of England were
waging against liberty in France; and as he was a warm admirer of Mr. Fox,
he entered into almost all his views, and joined him in forcibly
predicting all that has since occurred, as to the ruin of the country by
debt and insupportable taxation. He was, indeed, a spirited and
enlightened advocate of genuine freedom; and he never failed, even in the
worst of times, publicly to avow his sentiments. He certainly possessed
more real political knowledge, and a more correct knowledge of the
situation and the affairs of the country, than any man with whom I have
ever met, with the exception of Mr. Cobbett. Although I knew him for many
years before I concurred in his sentiments, yet I found him a sincere
friend, and a most intelligent companion, and his death was lamented more
by me than that of any political acquaintance I ever had. He died before I
was much of a politician, and before I appeared much in public life; but
from him I learned much which I have never forgotten, and which has been,
and ever will be, of the greatest service to me as a public man. Were I
not to pay this well-deserved tribute to his memory, I should prove myself
to have been unworthy of his friendship, and undeserving of my own

He was always denounced as a jacobin by the ignorant, and by the
interested sycophants of the day; but his merit and his public spirit were
duly estimated by all good and impartial men that knew him, and by no one
more than by the _late_, the _first_, Marquis of Lansdown, with whom he
was particularly intimate.

At this period, 1794, the whole country was greatly agitated with
political discussions; every one having an eye upon the bloody and
ferocious proceedings committed under the tyranny of Robespierre in Paris.
This caused great alarm in England, for fear of the progress of French
principles, and all the alarmists rallied round the Pitt administration,
and war, war, eternal war against French principles, was the watch-word of
the day. The parliament met in January, and the enormous supplies were
granted almost without any opposition. Eighty thousand men were voted for
the sea, forty thousand for the land-service, and likewise one hundred
thousand militia, and FORTY THOUSAND SUBSIDISED GERMANS. The estimates for
this service amounted to NINETEEN MILLIONS. In order to keep the people in
good humour, and to make them submit to pay the enormous increase of
taxation, the threat of INVASION was held out, and described with all its
horrors as being about to be realised. This set the John Bulls half-mad;
and, like men half-mad, half-drunk, they were ready to swallow any thing
that the minister of the day prescribed. Voluntary contributions, and
volunteer corps were raised all over the country. In the mean time Mr.
Pitt, who had deserted the cause of reform, of which, previous to his
coming into power, he had been one of the warmest and most zealous
advocates, true, _apostate-like_, took care to presecute all his former
associates, who were too honest to abandon that cause which he had
betrayed. In Scotland, that excellent and worthy man, Mr. Maurice
Margarot, and others were transported for fourteen years for having been
members of the British Convention. Mr. Thos. Walker, of Manchester, was
tried on a false accusation of high treason, at Lancaster; but was
honourably acquitted. Messrs Hardy, Tooke, Joyce, and Thelwall, were also
indicted and tried upon a pretended charge of high treason, at the Old
Bailey in London; but this premeditated cold-blooded attempt of the
ministers to destroy these innocent men, their political opponents, by
setting on the plea of constructive treason, was frustrated by the verdict
of an honest London jury. Messrs. Tooke and Thelwall were very able, and
perhaps the most powerful, advocates of liberty in England at that time;
and the ministers of the day might, with some men, have justified the
attempt to destroy such enemies upon the score of STATE POLICY; but their
attempt upon poor HARDY, who was a simple, inoffensive, harmless, plodding
shoemaker, possessing neither talent, influence, nor the smallest power to
do them any harm whatever, this was a proof of the vindictive and bloody
intentions of the men in office; and it caused a great sensation
throughout the country, and the verdicts of the jury were hailed with
pleasure by every honest thinking man in the kingdom, who was not under
the influence of an unjust prejudice. The reign of terror was now
proclaimed, and a great number of worthy men were imprisoned in dungeons,
under the suspension of the Habeas Corpus act, which tyrannical proceeding
greatly agitated the whole country. This, therefore, will not be an
improper place, to record, and bring to the recollection of the public,
_who_ were the men in power, under _whose auspices_ and by whose
directions these acts were perpetrated against the lives and liberties of
the people, and particularly against those who with patriotic energy
opposed those measures which they foretold, with a prophetic warning
voice, would bring this country to that wretched state of poverty and
slavery to which it is now reduced. Although I was too young at that time
to be much of a politician, and did not enter publicly into any of the
measures for or against these proceedings, yet, as I shall henceforward
record the particular political occurrences of each succeeding year, I
shall also take care to put upon record the names of those who were at the
head of the administration, and who took a prominent part in carrying them
into execution. Mr. PITT may be truly said to have been the ruler of the
destinies of this mighty kingdom, and by means of British gold and British
blood, he ruled also the destinies of Europe. He was the administration of
England.--He is gone, but there are some who are still alive, and who I
hope will live long enough to be brought to justice, and to answer for the
share they had in committing these atrocities upon the people. During
these times LORD GRENVILLE was Secretary of State; the Hon. Henry
Addington, now LORD SIDMOUTH, was Speaker of the House of Commons; Sir
John Scott, now LORD ELDON, was Attorney General, and conducted these
prosecutions in such a way as led to his promotion to be Lord High
Chancellor of England, where he has made such an immense sum of money, and
accumulated such a princely fortune. In the early part of this year, the
marriage of the Duke of SUSSEX with Lady Augusta Murray was made public,
which caused a great noise in the country.

During all these eventful transactions, I was labouring incessantly in my
vocation, as a farmer, and I was now become a complete master of every
branch of the profession, there being no part of it that I had not
performed with my own hands. Perhaps to speak of my personal exertions in
this way may be deemed by many superfluous, but on reflection they will, I
hope, not consider this to be the case. Hundreds, who are now living, were
eye-witnesses of what I may almost call the prodigies of strength and
personal labour performed by myself, and some of my father's servants, and
I shall merely mention a few of the circumstances to shew the reader that
in every thing I undertook I always performed it with such an enthusiasm,
and determined perseverance, that nothing could resist the accomplishment
of my undertakings. My father encouraged this desire that I evinced to
excel, and to perform unexampled deeds of labour, and feats of strength;
although he frequently expressed his fears that I should injure myself by
too great bodily exertion, and by too frequently straining my muscular
powers to their utmost stretch. I had undertaken and performed every
species of labour, connected with a very large farming business; I had
sown more acres of ground with corn in one day than any other man; I had
thrashed three quarters of barley, each succeeding day, for a fortnight
together, and that too at a time when some of the servants complained of
the difficulty of thrashing one quarter per day; I had pitched more loads
of corn in a day than had ever been recorded of any other person: in fact,
my father confessed that I got more work performed by the same number of
hands than he ever did when he was a young man; and for _him_ this was
admitting a great deal. I did this by good words and kindness towards my
fellow labourers; by always animating and cheering them on with my
example; by always placing myself in the heat of the battle; by taking the
most difficult and most laborious part. I always began every work by
saying to those around me COME let us do this, or let us do that, instead
of GO do this, or do that. My poor father always observed that it entirely
depended upon which of these little monosyllables, COME or GO, was made
use of, whether the work was done well or ill, expeditiously or
dilatorily. When any particular work was doing, my father's servants were
always in the field, and the job was begun, before those of our neighbours
had yet left their homes; and in changeable weather we had frequently
carried our hay or corn, and finished the rick or stack, before the rain
came on, while others had yet scarcely begun and were caught by the rain
in the worst situation possible. I have frequently, in the harvest time,
when we anticipated rain, been up, and a mile out in the field, pitching
the first load of wheat by two or before three o'clock in the morning,
while the carters were harnessing and bringing out the other teams. While
this load was being drawn home I had got my breakfast, and was ready to
begin laying the first sheaf of the wheat-rick, which many times I had
finished, though consisting of thirty large loads of sheaves, before the
middle of the day; by which means, if the rain came, we had secured
perhaps one hundred sacks of wheat, and these would prove worth from five
to ten shillings a sack more than that which was left out to take the
rain. If it proved a false alarm, and the weather was fine, we got a
second rick finished by night, and thereby had secured two hundred instead
of one hundred sacks of wheat in one day. It will be asked by some, how
did the labourers relish this extra toil and double work? The answer is
easy--perfectly well. I always took care to have them amply rewarded in
proportion to their exertions; and I never failed to add something,
besides good words and kind treatment, for the cheerfulness and alacrity
with which they approached and performed the task. I always made the
wheat-ricks, and I have many times made two ricks, containing thirty loads
in each rick, in one day. This work of making wheat-ricks, in very hot
weather, which is generally the case, is much the hardest and most severe
work, if done well, belonging to the farming business; and I was so
thoroughly convinced of this, that I always allowed the person who
afterwards made my wheat-ricks, a pint of ale as often, during the day, as
he chose to ask for it. For many years had I now made all my father's
ricks of hay and corn, and the wheat-ricks were the admiration of the
whole country. I also thatched many of them; that is, I made the ricks by
day, and I frequently thatched them by night, or at least before the
common labourers came to work in the morning. I was never tired of labour
and active exertions; and at this period, the labourers possessed all the
strength and vigour of the English peasantry of former days.
Notwithstanding they began to feel the effects of war and to suffer some
privations, in consequence of the rise of price in provisions, caused by
the increase of taxation, they had yet a barrel of good beer to go to in
hay-making and harvest time, and the young men at least could gain a
comfortable subsistence of the necessaries of life by their daily labour.
Few of them, indeed, could now boast of a "pig in the sty," a treasure
which they had, till very lately, always possessed; yet they could
occasionally purchase a pound of bacon or other meat, although at a very
considerable increase in the price. They soon, however, felt, and keenly
felt, that their condition was altered, and was still rapidly altering for
the worse, they consequently grew less tractable and cheerful in their
dispositions; they went to their daily labour with more reluctance, and
became more sullen and discontented as their privations increased; but
still they were not emaciated, and become languid and weak, as most of
them now are, for the want of a sufficiency of the common necessaries of
life. As a proof of this, I will mention a day's work done by myself and
three others, all of whom are now alive, and living in the parish of
Euford; but, alas! how altered, how wretched in circumstances, compared to
what they were at the time respecting which I write, when they were able
and willing to do, and did accomplish, as much work with great ease in one
day, as would now occupy them, I am sure, for four days. In fact, such is
the alteration in their state, from having lived so badly, and worked so
hard for the last twenty years, that they are become so reduced in bodily
strength, that they would now feel more fatigue in doing one quarter of
the work in a day than they did in performing the whole at that time. The
names of the men are Barnaby Marshal, Thomas Ayres, and James Pinnels.
These three men and myself have frequently winnowed large heaps of corn in
a day, and we once accomplished the winnowing sixty sacks of wheat in one
day--thirty sacks being considered a good day's work for four men. In one
instance, two men in each of two adjoining barns had thrashed a very large
heap of wheat, which had yielded so well, that we estimated each heap to
contain _forty sacks_ of the best wheat, and every one calculated upon its
being two smart day's work to winnow it. However, on the day appointed to
winnow one of these heaps, some time in the beginning of May, myself and
some young friends in the neighbourhood, had agreed to meet in the
evening, for the purpose of shooting rooks; I therefore requested the
three persons above named to be in readiness to begin winnowing at or soon
after five instead of six o'clock in the morning. The winnowing tackle was
prepared over night, I had got the doors of the barn open before hand, and
not one of them was behind the time appointed, they well knowing that the
exhilarating jug of "nut brown ale" would not be wanting upon such an
occasion. As the church clock struck five every man was at his post, and
the merry van went briskly round. As each well knew his duty, so that no
labour should be lost, we had made such rapid progress by six o'clock,
that is to say in one hour, that Ayres in a joke said, "If we continue at
this rate, master, we shall be able to finish both heaps instead of one."
A joke of that sort was never thrown away upon me, and accordingly, I
immediately adopted the idea; for having once conceived a project, I never
hesitated, but instantly began to put it in execution. I said that it was
certainly two good day's work for four _common men_, but if they would
back me, we would see if _we_ could not do two good days work in _one_
day. My fellow workmen, who were become almost as great enthusiasts as
myself, spontaneously replied, "With all our hearts, master, if you say
the word we will try, we are not afraid to attempt any thing you will
undertake." Two more men were employed to bring the heap from the other
barn, and add it to that which we had begun, and the result was, that when
the clock struck six in the evening, we, four of us had completely
winnowed and finished eighty-one sacks of best wheat, besides tailing, and
had loaded the waggon with thirty of them for market the next day. I
having carried the thirty sacks into the waggon myself, now washed,
cleaned, and dressed myself, and had joined my friends in the field,
partaking of the sport of rook shooting, before half-past six in the
evening; and I took care that my three fellow-labourers should be rewarded
with the first three dozen of young rooks that were killed. As a proof
that the corn was well winnowed, my father sold it at the next market-day,
at Devizes, for three shillings per sack higher than any other sample in
the market.

I now met with a very great loss, as my worthy friend and preceptor, Mr.
Carrington, the curate, with whom I had passed so many pleasant hours, and
from whom I had received so much valuable information, and such good and
useful advice, was about to leave the vicarage of Enford, he having been
offered, and accepted, the situation of tutor to the sons of the Earl of
Berkley, and as this was the likely road to preferment, I rejoiced in his
success, although I very much lamented his absence. He was, to say the
least of him, an excellent neighbour and a very worthy man. He was
cheerful, amiable, and conciliating in his manners; he possessed a very
superior understanding, which he had much improved and embellished by his
application to the study of the most useful and refined literature, he
having received a very liberal education; and though he was an excellent
classical scholar he was neither a pedant nor a bigot; he lived a moral,
sober, and rational life, worthy the example of his parishioners, and
although he was not enabled to be very bountiful, having only sixty pounds
a year as his salary, and his house to live in; he nevertheless honestly
paid every one as he went, and saved some small trifle for a wet day. By
all his neighbours he was much beloved, and his society much courted by
those who knew how to estimate the value of a superior mind, and an
enlightened and comprehensive understanding. He took great delight in
imparting to me the knowledge which he had acquired, and when he left the
parish of Enford, no one felt his loss more acutely or lamented it more
sincerely than I did. Because he had the sense and the penetration to
discover, and the honesty to reprobate the fatal mad-headed measures of
Mr. Pitt, he was denounced by the vulgar, the ignorant, and the bigotted,
by the venal and by the corrupt as a Jacobin; but he was admired by all
good and liberal men of all parties, and his society was courted by every
rational, thinking, and intelligent man in the country round where he
lived. The society that I met at his house was my greatest solace and
comfort after the fatigues and the labours of the day. I was always
welcome, and I never passed an hour in his society without having gained
some useful information, or some substantial accomplishment.

Many of the young people of the village, who did not associate much with
Mr. Carrington, and who were neither capable of appreciating his merits,
nor of deriving pleasure from his refined society, were delighted to find
that there was a gay young buck of a Clergyman, just returned from Oxford,
who was to occupy the situation of my worthy friend. But, alas, what a
contrast! I did not expect to find such another kind and amiable companion
and friend as him that I had lost; but I anticipated that he would be a
scholar, and a man of the world, and at all events a suitable associate
for myself. But, as he is no more, I shall be very brief: he was, in a
word, in every thing the reverse, the very opposite of Mr. Carrington. The
Sunday arrived, and my father, as the principal person in the village,
always anxious to be the first to shew his attention to a stranger, and
particularly when that stranger was clothed in the dress of _Pastor_ of
the parish, waited upon him at the Inn or Pot-House, where he had taken up
his quarters, and not only invited him to dine, but also offered him a bed
and a stall for his horse till he was better provided at the Vicarage. I,
of course, accompanied my father, and we had little difficulty in getting
over the first introduction. He was a young man of easy manners and
address, and without the least ceremony, accepted the invitation to dine,
&c; but he informed us, that he had made a bargain, and had taken lodgings
and intended to board, with the landlady at the Swan, as he could not bear
the thoughts of living in a dull country Vicarage House by himself. We
went to Church, where he _dashed through_ the service in _double quick
time_, and "tipped us," as he had previously informed me he would, a
_Rattling Sermon_, as a specimen of his style of oratory. He appeared a
clever thoughtless youth, of Twenty-five; but the rake, as my father said,
"stood confessed in his eye," and its effects sat visible upon his brow.
After dinner he took his wine like a _Parson_, and before he had finished
a bottle he was as drunk as a _Lord_; so much so, that he was utterly
incapable of performing the afternoon duty without exposing his situation
to the whole congregation. My father was shocked at his indiscretion, and
sent a hasty excuse to put off the afternoon service. As drunkenness was
not encouraged, nor even tolerated, in my father's house, he was very
anxious to conceal the circumstance of the young Parson having become so
much intoxicated at his table as to be incapable of performing his duty;
and he felt it the greater disgrace, as he was the principal
Church-warden, as well as the principal parishioner. I took the hopeful
and Reverend young gentleman, who had been so recently inspired by the
_Holy Ghost_ to take Priest's Orders, a walk into the fields, to recover
him a little, as my father thought him a very improper guest to introduce
into the drawing-room to his daughters. In the course of our walk he
professed a very sincere and warm friendship for me, and promised himself
a world of pleasure in my society; and he frankly and unblushingly
informed me, that he had brought with him from Oxford a bad venereal
complaint, which, he added, was most unfortunate, as he was fearful that
he should inoculate all the pretty damsels belonging to his new flock,
which would be a _cursed Bore_.

I premised by saying that I should be very brief, but I fear that some of
my moral male, as well as all my female, readers will think that as to
this young Clergyman of the Church of England I have already said too
much; but sorry am I to declare that in the little which I have said, I
have drawn his character too faithfully. He lived but a short time; having
soon fallen a victim to his profligate course of life. He was little more
than a year, I think, the Pastor of the Parish, and he administered the
sacrament, and performed all the other offices of the Curate, when the
effects of his drinking did not interfere with it, and during this time he
always lodged at the public house. This was a sad example for the people
of the parish! The young farmers were already too much addicted to
drinking, but they had been heretofore kept in check, and under some sort
of controul, by the admonition and by the example of their late Clergyman,
who, during all the years that he had resided there, was never known to be
intoxicated, or in any way, disguised in liquor. To be sure he was a
_Jacobin_, but he was, nevertheless, a _sober, moral, amiable Man_; and,
although he was no bigot, he most strictly, regularly, and rigidly
performed the sacred duty he had undertaken, with great satisfaction to
his parishioners, and with great credit to himself, as a Man, a Clergyman,
and a Christian. But, during the life of his successor, they had no
Jacobin; he was a furious Church and Kingman, although a complete free
thinker over his cups, and would get drunk and roar God save the King with
any drunken loyalist in the district; and, to shew his zeal in this way,
he entered and served as a private, and dressed in the uniform, of the
Everly troop of yeomanry Cavalry just raised. He was, however, too
enervated and too emaciated to acquire any knowledge of the military
exercise; and, what was rather remarkable, there was another young sprig
of the Church to keep him in countenance, who was also a private in the
same troop of yeomanry. Although I sometimes made one of the bacchanalian
party of our Curate, yet I felt most severely the difference between this
society and that of Mr. Carrington.

Upon the death of this infatuated young man, another Curate was sent down
by the Vicar, who was the Rev. John Prince, the Chaplain to the Magdalen,
and who it was thought would be more particular in the choice of those
with whom he trusted the care of the souls of his parishioners. Our new
Curate arrived fresh from Oxford, and as he brought letters of
recommendation to my father, from the Vicar, who was a very worthy and a
most circumspect man, he invited him to his house, and he proved to be a
much more rational young man than his predecessor. Though he did not
evince any great knowledge of the world, yet he had mixed in good society,
and I promised myself a great acquisition in his acquaintance. We soon,
however, found that he had not been educated at Oxford for nothing; he had
acquired a habit of taking his bottle freely, and, as he had not a very
hard head, he was frequently very much intoxicated before his more robust
neighbours were scarcely yet warmed with their glasses. This was a
dreadful misfortune for my young friend, as well as for myself, for he was
an intelligent young man when he was sober; but, the moment the wine began
to operate, he was one of the completest fools in christendom; he was then
as great as a king, and always when he was the most contemptible, he
fancied himself a very great man, and never failed to boast of his
superiority of education, and his having taken his degree at Christ
Church. This he was always sure to do when he had lost the little talent
and intellect that he possessed when he was sober. At the very moment that
he was looked upon with a degree of mingled _pity_ and _contempt_ by those
around him, he was sure to assume a ridiculous superiority over his more
rational companions; merely, as he professed, because he was brought up at

There was about this time great talk of an invasion by the French. The
ministers, having granted large subsidies, and having imposed new taxes,
found it necessary to frighten John Bull with the idea of being invaded.
Great alarm was therefore excited throughout the country; volunteer corps
and troops of yeomanry were raising all over the island. Provisions had by
this time increased in price, every article of common consumption was
nearly doubled, and great dissatisfaction was evinced amongst the
labouring poor; there were riots in many parts of the country, and much
mischief was done by burning wheat-ricks, and pulling down mills, in
consequence of the high price of bread. But the dread of invasion was in
every one's mouth, and nothing else was talked of. I, therefore, was one
who anticipated nothing less than an immediate attempt, and I applied to
my father, and requested that he would purchase me a proper charger, and
let me enter into a troop of the yeomanry cavalry. He expostulated and
strongly urged me to desist, and he repeated his former arguments; but I
replied that I was ashamed to stand by and to look on, with my arms
folded, while all the youth and vigour of the country were flying to arms
in order to repel the expected attempts of a desperate and powerful
invading foe. He endeavoured to convince me of the folly of my enthusiasm,
urging that most of those who had enrolled themselves in the yeomanry,
were solely actuated by a desire to take care of their own property, that
they were impelled to take up arms merely by selfish motives, and without
possessing a spark of the _amor patriae_. He recalled to my recollection
the immense sacrifices made by our forefather, Colonel Thomas Hunt, in the
reign of the Charles's; he pointed out the noble domains and productive
estates that were confiscated by Cromwell, in consequence of my ancestor's
zeal in the cause of his prince, and he begged me to remember how he was
rewarded for his services; asking me what reason I had to expect a better
fate, or a higher reward, than my forefather had obtained for all his
exertions, dangers, and sacrifices, which were the loss of his estates and
the ingratitude of the prince that he so faithfully served?

All this might be, and was very true, but I reasoned with myself thus: My
forefather took up arms in favour of a tyrant, to support him in most
arbitrary measures against his own countrymen; but my only wish is to arm
myself against a foreign invader, whose great object I am told is to
enslave after having conquered the people of my native land. All reasoning
with me was consequently in vain. I had made up my mind not to stand idle
and be a looker-on in such times; the fervour of my youth had been worked
upon by the delusion of the day, and it would not admit of this restraint;
therefore, without farther ceremony, in spite of my father's
expostulations, I enrolled my name as a member of the Everly Troop of
Yeomanry, under the command of the _gallant_ Captain ASTLEY. I knew the
Captain to Be a poor creature, and as little cut out for a warrior as any
man I had ever met with; he was built like Ajax, but as for skill or
valour I believed him to possess neither. I had, however, no fears of
being left to be led into the field of battle by the worthy justice. In
case it should ever come to that issue, I had no doubt that proper and
experienced officers would be appointed to lead us on. I bought an
excellent thoroughbred charger, near sixteen hands high; for, although my
own horse was a very good one, and better than eight out of ten in the
troop, yet, as he was rather under the regulation size, I was determined
to be as well mounted as any man in the regiment, and as I was well known
to be a good rider, and a bold and determined fox-hunter, the captain was
very much delighted with what he was pleased to call a "wonderful
acquisition to his corps." My father also, now I was entered, was as
anxious as myself that I should not be outdone by any one. I therefore
immediately employed a drill serjeant, who was engaged to instruct the
troop in their exercise, and who had been drilling them for some time
past; and before the first field-day arrived for me to attend, my
instructor pronounced me fit for service, and as well disciplined as any
man in the troop. Perhaps I had bestowed as much pains, and had spent as
much time, as any of them, though I had been drilled only for about a
fortnight, for I was at it every day two or three hours. In truth, I was
an apt scholar, and being already an excellent horseman, and extremely
active, I could before I had ever joined, perform most of the evolutions,
and, as the serjeant said, do any thing as well as himself. He told me
that in many of my brother soldiers I should meet with some stupid heavy
fellows, and that he could teach me more in a day than many of them would
learn in a year. The following Monday was appointed for us to assemble and
POORE, who had gone to London for the purpose, were expected to attend,
armed _cap-a-pie_, and dressed complete in their NEW UNIFORM, as a
specimen of what we were in future to wear.

The reader will recollect that I am now about to give a faithful history
of my military services; and I must therefore entreat his indulgence,
while I put upon record some such circumstances, and occurrences as he
will be little prepared to hear, unless it have been his fate to be a
member of some volunteer corps, under the command of such officers as
Captain ASTLEY, Lieutenant Sir John POORE, and Cornet DYKE. Without
farther comment then, the two gallant officers, ASTLEY, and POORE, started
the week before to London, to superintend the making, and to arrange with
the army taylor the particulars of the _uniform_. Having been very
particular in getting the taylor, breeches-maker, boot, and even
spur-maker, to fit them to a T, on the Friday they both appeared,
accoutred from head to toe, at Edmonds's, Somerset coffee house, in the
Strand, and really cut no small "swell" as they marched up and down the
coffee room. They would then take a turn down the Strand, as far as Exeter
Exchange, and if, luckily for him, Polito had seen them, he might possibly
have made a good bargain by chewing them amongst the other wild beasts
which he exhibited to the wondering multitude. They next showed off in
full uniform, with their broad swords by their sides, in the front boxes
of Drury Lane Theatre; and, as the Wiltshire was one of the first
regiments of yeomanry that was raised and clothed, they excited no small
curiosity amongst the Londoners. On Saturday morning they again entered
the coffee room in all their trappings, and having each purchased a brace
of excellent pistols, they appeared eager to begin the campaign without
waiting the arrival of the French troops; and as Clark and Haines, two
notorious highwaymen were at[10] this time levying their nightly
contributions upon Hounslow Heath, they more than hinted their intention
of capturing or killing these desperadoes, in case they should fall in
with them during their march down into the country, which they had given
due notice they intended to commence on that afternoon.

About two o'clock, the captain's travelling carriage and four was brought
to the door of the coffee house. These circumstances were detailed to me
by a gentleman present, and who really was rather alarmed at their warlike
appearance and war-disposed manner and language. Having seated themselves
with all their military finery in the carriage, they carefully placed
their _two brace of horse pistols_ in the front pocket, taking care to
leave the _butt-ends_ sticking out, threateningly visible to every eye
that surveyed them. A crowd was collected round the carriage to witness
the departure of these mighty warriors, whose appearance denoted a most
determined conflict, in case any thing should occur to give them an
opportunity of showing how worthy they were to command, and to lead into
the heat of battle a body of their countrymen, who were "seeking the
bubble reputation even in the cannon's mouth." About four o'clock they
arrived at the Bush at Staines, having taken care to pass Hounslow Heath,
the half-anticipated scene of action, by day light. Having by this piece
of generalship escaped the danger so far, they slept that night at Mr.
White's excellent inn at Staines' Bridge. The next morning, Sunday, after
taking a good breakfast, dressed and armed as before, in all their
military array, they took up their pistols, which had been placed by them
on the table, and then adjourned into the garden, whence they fired them
into the Thames, at once to try how true they would carry the balls, and
to give notice to the surrounding and astonished passengers upon the
bridge that they travelled like warriors, prepared for any emergency that
might arise. Having re-loaded their pistols in the presence of Mr. Joseph
White, and each of them taken a glass of noyeau to exhilarate their
spirits, the horses were ordered too, and the carriage was now brought to
the front door. Having taken another turn round the bowling green in the
garden, to exhibit themselves to the gaping multitude, who were now
collected in considerable numbers upon the bridge, brought thither in
consequence of the discharging of pistols on a Sunday morning, and who
were waiting to see their departure, they entered the carriage in the same
formal manner as they had done at the door of the Somerset coffee house,
and having carefully and deliberately placed their pistols again in the
front pocket, with their but-ends, as before, appearing very prominent out
of the chaise window, they proceeded on their march with a sort of solemn
gravity, which excited the surprise of some few, but the laughter of the
greater portion, of their beholders.

It was on a Sunday morning, about eight o'clock, when they started from
Staines in this warlike attitude; their helmets glittering in the sun,
like the peacock vain of his plumes. They, however, little dreamt of the
disaster that was in store for them. Having passed Virginia Water, and as
the postboy was taking them leisurely along up the steep hill leading to
Bagshot, who should ride up to the side of the chaise but a single
highwayman, who, having ordered the boy to halt, deliberately demanded
their money and watches. The yeomanry heroes looked at each other, and
then at their pistols; but neither of them had the power of putting forth
a hand to grasp either of them. The highwayman again hastily demanded his
prize, which was immediately granted, our heroes handing over to him their
purses, containing about sixty guineas and two valuable family gold
watches. It is said that Sir John Poore, after having recovered a little
from the fright, endeavoured to raise his inconsolable companion from the
stupor in which this sad misfortune had left him, by repeating the
following lines of Hudibras:

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