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

Part 6 out of 6

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Tompkins, who lived at Oakley House, near Abingdon; and he had returned it
in the state which I have described, so that my hunting was spoiled for
that season.

Upon my being weighed it was not difficult to account for the lamentable
fate of my lost favourite. I found that I had increased _two stone two
pounds_ during my six weeks comparative inactivity in the King's Bench;
for, although I had taken much more exercise than my fellow prisoner, Mr.
Waddington, yet it was so very different from, and so much less than, that
which I had been in the habit of taking when I was in the country, that I
had increased in size and weight in the rapid manner which I have
described; and to this increase must be attributed the melancholy accident
which occurred to my unfortunate hunter.

My friend Tompkins, who had returned my other hunter broken-winded, in
consequence of his servant's mismanagement in feeding, or his own
indiscreet riding, upon being informed of the circumstance, very coolly
answered, that he was sorry for it; and, in the true stile of a knowing
sportsman, he proposed to accommodate me in return--not by lending me one
of his hunters for the remainder of the season, but by selling me one, a
young horse, as he said, of great power and promise, which would just suit
me; and as a great favour he wrote me word, that he would part with it to
me, as a friend, at the same price which he had given for it. He invited
me to his house to see it, and I accepted his invitation, notwithstanding
his sister-in-law, not knowing of his intention to _oblige_ me with it,
had previously informed me that he was very much dissatisfied with his
purchase; that he had a most unfavourable opinion of the grey horse, and
that he would be happy to part with him at a loss, rather than not get rid
of what he considered as a very bad bargain. From the lady's description
of the horse and of the bad qualities for which Mr. Tompkins wished to
dispose of him, I had, however, formed a more favourable opinion of him,
and I was therefore determined to trust to my own judgment, and go and see
him, particularly as he was well bred. I accordingly visited Oakley for
the purpose, and without one word of higgling I gave him his price, which
was _forty guineas_, my _friend_ assuring me that he did it to oblige me,
and that he considered himself as doing me no small favour. Thus had this
sporting friend, to make amends for the loss he had occasioned me, by
breaking the wind of a favourite and valuable hunter, worth little less
than a hundred guineas, palmed upon me, for forty guineas, as a pretended
boon, a young three years old horse, which he did not think would ever be
worth sixpence! So much for sporting, horse-dealing friendships! However,
I had no reason to repent of my bargain. I got my horse into condition
before I tried him, and he turned out one of the best and most valuable
hunters in the kingdom, to the great mortification of my envious and
obliging friend; for, early in the next season, when he was only four
years old, the Honourable George Bowes, the brother of Lord Strathmore,
offered me three hundred guineas for him. I, however, never parted with
him, which I had reason to repent, for, a few days after I had refused
five hundred guineas for him, my friend Wm. Butcher's horse got loose in
my stable, and by a kick broke his fore leg, when I was obliged to have
him killed, and so ended poor OAKLEY!

I was rather unlucky in my sporting acquaintance, as will be seen by the
following circumstance. Soon after my return from my imprisonment, my
friend Wm. Tinker, of Lavington, and his family came to visit me; after
dinner, amongst other things that I was relating, relative to what had
occurred during my stay at the King's Bench, I mentioned the toast that
was usually drank first by the prisoners every day, which was, "Plaintiffs
in prison, and defendants at liberty." Mrs. Tinker asked whether I and Mr.
Waddington had joined in this toast? I answered, yes; and added, that I
believed it was the first toast drank every day after dinner. This she set
down at once for a very disloyal sentiment, because my nominal plaintiff
or prosecutor was the King against Hunt, and she consequently pronounced
me, as I thought in a mere joke, to be a disloyal man, a jacobin. In this
opinion of hers she was confirmed, by learning that I had called upon
Colonel Despard in the Tower, and hearing me inveigh, in rather warm
language, against packed juries, treacherous lawyers, and corrupt judges,
and also venturing to call in question, "a la Clifford," some of the
measures of the heaven-born minister, she therefore set me down at once in
her mind as a rank jacobin; and, as the sequel will prove, she did not
fail to act upon this impression--for, about a month afterwards, I
received a letter from my only paternal aunt, to say that Mrs. Tinker had
informed her, that, since I had been in London, I became a disloyal man,
and that I had actually drank at my own table the most disloyal toast,
wishing the King to be imprisoned. All my forefathers, said my aunt, had
been loyal men, and one of them, Colonel Thomas Hunt, had been by nothing
short of a miracle saved from losing his head for his loyalty to King
Charles the Second; as therefore I had chosen to take a different course,
by professing different principles, she should alter her will, and leave
that fortune which she had intended for me to some other persons. She most
religiously kept her word; though in my reply I unequivocally disclaimed
any intention of offering the slightest insult to the King, or saying any
thing that could, without the most wanton misconstruction, be deemed
disloyal. Yet I claimed the right to think for myself, and did not admit
that, because I professed the most unbounded loyalty to the King, I ought
to pledge myself to a blind subserviance and attachment to all the
measures of his ministers. All that I could urge against this breach of
confidence, in betraying, nay, in misrepresenting a conversation at my own
table, and the malignity of Mrs. Tinker's motives, were of no avail.
Although this aunt died without any children, and I was her nearest of
kin, yet she made my quondam friend, Tinker, her executor, and never left
me a shilling. The reader will easily conceive that this neither changed
my politics nor increased my confidence in sporting friends. The fact was,
that this old lady was an illegitimate daughter of my grandfather, by a
relation of this Mrs. Tinker, whom he afterwards married. My grandfather
had been induced to leave this daughter a very considerable patrimony, at
the suggestion of my father; and, as she died without issue, it would have
been only an act of justice to have restored the money to its lawful
source. But the kind interference of Mrs. Tinker has sent it in another
direction, and I sincerely wish it may prosper with those who have
obtained it. I envy them not; I have retained my opinions, and they have
got the cash--much good may it do them, I say.

Had not this Mrs. Tinker been a great croney of Mrs. Hunt's, the connexion
would have ceased from this time. I was, however, always very cautious
what I said afterwards, when Mrs. Tinker was of the party. By her
perversion of a conversation which occurred at my own table, by her
officious misrepresentation of me, she had been the cause of my losing
some thousand pounds. This was the first instance in which I experienced
the serious consequences of sporting liberal opinions. But it was not the
only instance in which this good lady (who was always called _mother_ by
her family and friends, from her very motherly habits) had an opportunity
of doing me a good turn in the same way. Another elderly lady, Mrs. Watts,
of Lavington, who had voluntarily made her will, and left me property and
estates, as being her nearest and only relation, upon being taken ill
desired that I should be sent for; but my evil spirit, Mrs. Tinker, who
was a neighbour, sent for another lady, and they contrived, as they said,
to get the old lady to _alter her will_ in her last moments, and leave her
property away from me to other persons. This was effected in such _a
manner_, and _at such a time_, and _under such circumstances_, that I
should have disputed the will had I not been afraid of exposing a relation
of my own, who was privy and instrumental to this mysterious transaction.
It is sufficient to say, that the old lady never signed her name, although
she wrote a most excellent and legible hand, this precious instrument
bearing only her mark; and the maid servant, who attended her, would have
proved quite sufficient to have set aside the will, and exposed the
parties concerned; but, as one of them was a very near relation of mine,
and one whose faults I have always been anxious to conceal and palliate,
rather than expose and condemn, I put up with the loss without opposing
the proof of the will. There is one fact more connected with this case,
which I will state, to show to what extent the cruelty of some persons
will lead them, when they wish to accomplish a bad action. The maid
informed me, and offered to swear it, that her mistress had constantly,
during several days illness, expressed the most urgent desire to see me,
and was anxious not to sign or to do any thing about her will, till I
arrived. She was, however, as repeatedly put off, by the assurance that I
had been sent for, and did not choose to come, though I was the whole time
at home, at a distance of a few miles, and never received the slightest
intimation of her illness till after her death.

By this circumstance I may with great fairness reckon myself minus about
five thousand pounds; so that the politics which I had learned in the
King's Bench were not to me a source of profit; but, on the contrary, had
proved hitherto most detrimental to my pecuniary interests. But, thank
God! I was never a trading politician; for if I had been such, my losses
would have very soon made me a bankrupt in the cause.

At this time, however, though the sentiments which I entertained upon
public matters were never concealed, but were, when occasion required,
expressed openly, and without reservation, I attended much more to my
business, to the sports of the field, and to my own pleasures, than I did
to politics. My farming concerns were well regulated and attended to,
though I spent a great portion of my time in fox-hunting and shooting, and
likewise kept a great deal of company; scarcely a day in the week passed
that I was not out at a party, or had one at my own house, but much more
frequently at home. This period I consider as far the least interesting
portion of my life. I kept an excellent table, had a good cellar of wine,
and there was never any lack of visitors to partake of it. The old adage,
"that fools make feasts and wise men partake of them," I cannot refrain
from acknowledging to have been pretty much realized at Chisenbury House.
When I look back, and recollect the train of hangers-on that constantly
surrounded my table, amongst the number of whom was always a parson or
two, I am induced to exclaim, in the language of Solomon, "it was all
vanity and vexation of spirit!" My life was a scene of uninterrupted
gaiety and dissipation--one continued round of pleasure. I had barely time
to attend to my own personal concerns; for no sooner was one party of
pleasure ended than another was made. The hounds met at this cover to-day,
at that to-morrow, and so on through the week. Dinners, balls, plays,
hunting, shooting, fishing, and driving, in addition to my large farming
concerns, which required my attendance at markets and fairs, and which
business I never neglected, even in this heyday of levity and vanity; all
these things combined, left me no leisure to think or reflect, and
scarcely time to sleep--for no sooner was one pleasure or amusement ended
than I found that I had engaged to participate in another; and I joined in
them all with my usual enthusiasm. In the midst of all this giddy round of
mirth and folly, I enjoyed less real pleasure and satisfaction, than I had
done at any former period of my life. I saw and felt that there was little
sincerity in the attachment of my companions; for there was no real
friendship in their hearts, though they would praise my wine, admire my
viands, and bestow the most unqualified compliments upon the liberality
with which they were dispensed. Their praise on this score was certainly
merited; for whether it was a dinner party or a ball, at Chisenbury House,
no expense or trouble was spared to make the guests happy, and to send
them away delighted with the entertainment.

What a scene is this for me to look back upon. I might be said to have got
into the whirlpool, into the very vortex of endless dissipation and folly!
I saw and felt my error, but I knew not how to retreat. My wife, too,
entered into the very marrow of this round of pleasure and gay society.
The means to support all this were never wanting; for I found myself in
possession of landed property in Wilts and Somerset, at Littlecot and
Glastonbury, of the value of upwards of six hundred pounds a year, besides
all the large farming business which my father had left me. There was,
therefore, no deficiency of money; and I owe it to myself to say, that
large as was my expenditure, I took care never to live fully up to my
income; but had every year something considerable to lay by or to assist a
friend with.

Fond as I then was of pleasure, no man attended more strictly to his
farming business than I did; and the farms of no man in the kingdom were
managed better, or were in higher condition. My farms at that time were
like gardens, and much cleaner and freer from weeds than most gardens; and
I had the best flock of Southdown sheep in the country, bearing the very
finest fleeces, the wool of which I sold for the very highest price in the
kingdom. I one year sold my wool, consisting of _four thousand fleeces_,
for a penny a pound more than was given for the boasted wool shorn from
the flock of the famous Mr. Elman, of Glind, in Sussex. When, at an
agricultural meeting, he was told of this fact, he very coolly answered,
that his wool was most decidedly the best, and that the superiority of
price which Mr. Hunt had obtained arose merely from the want of judgment
in the purchaser. This question was, however, set at rest the very next
year--for the wool dealer who had purchased Mr. Elman's wool, having heard
of my flock, came all the way out of Sussex, from the neighbourhood of
Chichester, and purchased my fleeces at _three half-pence_ a pound more
than he had given for the crack Sussex wool, and he paid for the carriage,
a distance of fifty miles, into the bargain. After this, Mr. Elman never
disputed the point as to the superior quality of my wool. I mention this
circumstance merely to show how determined I was to excel in every thing
which I undertook--at least, that I did every thing with enthusiasm. I
afterwards sold eight thousand fleeces at once, to some manufacturers,
Dean, Forsey, and Co. of Chard, in this county, at the highest price that
any wool sold for that season. Mr. Dean subsequently purchased _twenty
lambs_ at my sale, that he might have some of the stock; which he sold to
me again, when I called upon him some time afterwards. Out of this
circumstance, an infamous and scurrilous falsehood was propagated in the
columns of the _Taunton Courier_, representing me as having swindled my
friend Mr. Dean out of a flock of sheep. When I come to that period of my
history, I shall fully explain the affair to the satisfaction of every
candid person, and I shall convince every honest man, that the columns of
the _Taunton Courier_ have been made the vehicle to promulgate the most
barfaced and wanton falsehood against me, to serve a political purpose;
and that, in this instance, the _Taunton Courier_ has never been exceeded
in infamy, even by the falsehoods of its brother _Courier_ in London.

In the year 1801, I grew twelve quarters of best oats per acre, upon eight
acres of poor down land, at Widdington, the rent of which was not more
than ten shillings an acre. They were sown after an uncommonly fine crop
of turnips, that averaged fifty tons to an acre. The land had been very
highly manured, both from the farm-yard and the fold, for the turnips,
which had been hoed three times. It was the heaviest and finest crop of
oats that I ever saw, and they stood full six feet high in the straw. I
was sitting on horseback, looking on while they were mowing them, and I
recollect that when Thomas Airs, one of the mowers, who was full six feet
high, swept his scythe into the standing corn, the ears of the oats
frequently struck his hat as he walked along. It was very fine weather,
and they were carried in and made into a rick by themselves, without
taking any rain. In the spring they were thrashed out, and all sold for
seed, at three pounds a quarter. Now, as they averaged twelve quarters an
acre, the sale amounted to thirty-six pounds an acre; nearly three times
the value of the fee-simple of the land. There was also more than three
tons of straw upon each acre, and as, during that season, straw sold at
six pounds per ton, the actual value of the produce (taking off one pound
a ton for the carriage of the straw) was 50_l_. per acre, while the
fee-simple of the land would not have sold for 20_l_. per acre.

I have related this to shew what enormous profits were gained by good
farmers at those times. About this period it was, that the late Lord
Warwick, speaking in the House of Lords, of the state of insolence to
which the farmers had arrived, and alluding to their extravagant course of
living, assured his right honourable hearers, that some of them had
reached such a pitch of luxury, that they actually drank brandy with their
wine. This caused a laugh, but their lordships little knew how literally
true the assertion was. His lordship alluded to a gentleman farmer, of the
name of Jackson, who lived at ---- farm, in the county of Warwick, and who
then always took brandy with his wine. I, too, remember a humorous farmer,
and a very worthy fellow, of the name of Mackerell, of Collingbourn, who
frequently afterwards did the same thing, at the principal market room at
the Bear, at Devizes; at the head of which table I at that time presided
every week. Mackerell used to call this liquor (brandy and wine) Lord
Warwick; and another farmer used always to drink a nob of white sugar in
each glass of claret; for, be it known to the reader, that I have
repeatedly seen drank at that table, on a market day, by twelve or
fourteen farmers, two dozen of old port, and, as a finish, two dozen of
claret. Then they would mount their chargers, and off they would go in a
body, each of them with two or three hundred pounds in his pocket; and the
Lord have mercy upon the poor fellow who interrupted them, or failed to
get out of their way upon their road home! No set of men ever carried
their heads higher than they did; no set of men were ever more inflated or
more purse proud, than were the great body of the farmers during these
times of their boundless prosperity. For many years, the average price of
wheat was fifteen shillings a Winchester bushel; and as I recollect, and
shall never forget, the way in which they carried themselves during these
halcyon days of their happy fortune, I should like much to have a peep
into Devizes market now, of a Thursday, or into Warminster market of a
Saturday, just to see the contrast, just to observe how they look, and how
they conduct themselves, now they are selling their best wheat for seven
shillings a bushel, which is less than half the former price, while the
rent is the same, the taxes the same, and the poor rates are higher,
instead of lower! At that period, it only took me a hundred sacks of wheat
to pay my rent of Widdington farm. How many sacks must farmer Maslen sell
now to pay his rent of the same farm! I should not wonder if three hundred
sacks would fall short of paying it this year. At that epoch Mr. Pocock,
who rented Enford farm of Mr. Benett, could pay his _rent_, _taxes_, and
_poor rates_, for the sum at which he could sell _three hundred_ sacks of
wheat. The present tenant, Mr. Fay[26], must, in this present year, 1821,
sell _one thousand_ sacks of wheat, to raise the money to pay his _rent_,
_taxes_, and _poor rates_. What a falling off for the farmers! Let us hope
that they will display somewhat more fortitude and patience, in the days
of their adversity, than they did moderation, Christian forbearance, and
temper, in their days of prosperity.

On the ninth of February, in this year, peace was signed, at Luneville,
between our beloved ally, Austria, and France. On the second of March, the
state prisoners were liberated, some of whom had been cruelly confined for
many years under the suspension bill; and, on the seventeenth of March,
1801, there was a complete change in the British ministry, by a deep
juggle of Mr. Pitt, who resigned. He and his colleagues were succeeded by
Mr. Addington, the Speaker of the House of Commons, and his family and
friends. On the twenty-first, Sir Ralph Abercromby was killed at the
bloody battle of Alexandria, in Egypt; and, on the same day, negociations
for peace were entered into, between England and France, by Lord
Hawkesbury and M. Otto. On the second of April, the Danish fleet of
twenty-eight sail, anchored off Copenhagen, was all taken or destroyed by
Lord Nelson. Such was the fury of the battle, and such was the bravery
with which the Danes defended themselves, that, after great carnage on
both sides, some of the English ships employed on the occasion were nearly
silenced by the batteries. Nelson, perceiving this, sent in a flag of
truce and offered terms, which the Danish governor accepted. On the
nineteenth, the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act, and the Seditious Act,
passed by a large majority, in both Houses of Parliament; and immediately
afterwards, the ministerial indemnity bill also passed. On the sixth of
May, the famous motion was made by Lord Temple, the present Marquis of
Buckingham, for a new writ for Old Sarum, to exclude Mr. Horne Tooke from
the House of Commons; he having been elected for that rotten borough by
Lord Camelford, who was then the proprietor of it. The ground of his being
ineligible to sit in the Honourable House was, that he had formerly taken
priest's orders. This fact being proved, a law was passed, by which Mr.
Horne Tooke was excluded from sitting in future. Lord Camelford was so
enraged at this measure, that he threatened to return his black servant as
the member; and it is thought he would have actually done so, if it had
not been for the earnest entreaties of Lord Grenville, who was a relation
of Lord Camelford. On the twenty-second of July, there was a grand review
of the volunteer corps in Hyde Park. The number assembled was four
thousand eight hundred.

On the first of October, preliminary articles of peace, fifteen in number,
were signed, between England and France, by Lord Hawkesbury and M. Otto.
On the 10th of October, Old Michaelmas-day, Gen. Lauriston arrived in
London, with the ratifications of the Treaty of Peace between Great
Britain and France; and the General was drawn through the streets by the
populace. There were very violent debates in both Houses of Parliament,
against the Preliminaries of Peace. The opposition dissented from calling
it a Glorious Peace; but the ministers carried it by very large
majorities. During this year, the price of bread and all sorts of
provisions had been remarkably high; at one period the quartern loaf sold
for _one shilling_ and _tenpence halfpenny_, and the poor suffered very
much throughout the country. The great mass of the people, therefore,
hailed the approach of peace with France, in hopes of better times; and
every one appeared rejoiced at the cessation of the horrible carnage of
war, which had been raging with so much violence. The French ministers
were very well satisfied with the Court of St. James's, who had at last
formally acknowledged Napoleon as the head of the French Government.
Although there were many, amongst the opposition, who denounced the
preliminaries as a hollow truce, declaring that if peace was concluded
upon so unsatisfactory a basis, and so disadvantageous for Great Britain,
the English Government would soon be obliged to violate the treaty, which
must lead to fresh hostilities; I, for one, sincerely rejoiced at the
return of peace; for I had long been convinced that the war was carried
on, not to preserve this country from the horrors of the French
revolution; that it had never been waged for any of its avowed purposes;
that it had from the beginning been a war against the principles of
liberty, established by the revolution in France, which had been attacked
by every despotic power in Europe; every one of which powers the French
troops had, under the banners of liberty, defeated over and over again. I
now looked upon the object of the war with a very different eye from what
I had formerly done, and I took a more correct and dispassionate view of
its cause, and the intentions of those who first declared hostilities,
than what I did when I first enrolled my name amongst the members of the
yeomanry cavalry. I had now had time to reflect, the six weeks which I had
passed in the neighbourhood of the King's Bench, where I had access to
some of the most experienced and intelligent men in the kingdom, had not
been spent in vain. The time that a man spends in a prison is not always
thrown away, as I have found by experience; and I shall, I trust, be able
to prove by and by, to the satisfaction of my numerous readers, that the
time I have spent in this Bastile has been the most valuable part of my
life. I never before knew what real leisure was. I have enjoyed retirement
as much as any man in England; but then I have been always surrounded with
my family and friends; I have never, before now, known what it was to have
seven or eight hours of a day exclusively to myself. I am locked up in
solitary confinement in my dungeon every night, at six o'clock, without my
having the power to go to any one, and without any one having the power to
come to me, excepting the turnkey, which, thank God! never happens now
after locking-up time, though it used to be the case very frequently when
I first came here. It is considered a violation of the rules to go near a
prisoner, unless upon a great emergency, after he is locked up; but it was
not deemed any violation of rules for the turnkey to be constantly coming
to my dungeon, and, with an authoritative rattling of the lock of the
door, marching in to say that Mr. Bridle, the gaoler, wanted a newspaper,
&c. &c. However, that is all at an end, and I am never interrupted. I can
sit down with a book or a pen at six o'clock, almost with a certainty of
not being interrupted by any living creature, for six, seven, or eight
hours at a time. My keepers think this the greatest punishment that can be
inflicted upon me; but, on the contrary, I contrive to turn their malice
to advantage, and make this the most valuable time of my life. Few men can
boast such a luxury. I really enjoy it beyond description. No thanks to my
persecutors; and I should not be surprised if, when they read this, which
I know they all will, if they were to devise some means to deprive me of
this comfort of retirement. I have made them feel, and I will continue to
make them feel, that though I expose their petty tyranny, and their little
acts of meanness towards me, yet, that my mind is above the reach of their
vindictive malice. I understand that some of them are praying for the
suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, that they may have me delivered over
to their power; that I may be left to their unrestrained will, to inflict
torture upon me in secret--well! and what then? I will laugh at their
torture, and make them painfully conscious of their own insignificance,
even while they stand over me and inflict it.

When I was in the King's Bench, I had none of those trials. My time passed
very pleasantly, and as a great portion of it passed in the best of
society, amongst some of the most intelligent men of the age, my time was
not thrown away. I was induced to think for myself, and to form my own
opinion of public men and public measures, without placing, as I had
hitherto done, an implicit reliance upon the opinions of others whom I
supposed to have had more experience, and better means of judging of such
matters, than I had. I began not only to think but to act, for myself.
Among the many facts that I ascertained, not the least important was,
"_that common fame was a common liar_." Mr. Clifford had brought me
acquainted with all the tricks, frauds, and deceptions of the public
press; and, to convince me that almost the whole of the public press of
that day was venal and corrupt, he proved to a demonstration, by some
_practical experiments_, that for a _few pounds_, any thing, however
absurd, might be universally promulgated; particularly if the absurdity
was in favour of the ruling powers. For instance, he wrote a paragraph,
the greatest hoax that ever was, in praise of the mild and amiable
manners, the courtesy, and the humanity of Harry Dundas. Now, said he, to
show you how this will be promulgated by the venal press, and how it will
be swallowed by John Bull, give me _five shillings_, and I will put it
into the hands of one of the runners for collecting information for the
papers, and you shall see it in all the newspapers, both in London and the
country. I produced the crown-piece immediately, and out it came, in one
of the morning papers, the next day; and as he had predicted, it was
copied into all the London and country papers. Thus the humanity and
suavity of one of the most unfeeling and impudent Scotchmen that ever
crossed the Tweed, was cried up to the skies, and he was eulogised by some
of them as the very cream of the milk of human kindness! Then as to public
opinion, and the popularity of the leading characters of the day, Mr. Fox,
to wit,--Mr. Clifford has a hundred times declared to me, that this great
Westminster patriot was never drawn home in his carriage from the hustings
in his life, by the populace, without the persons who drew him being
regularly _hired_ and _paid_ for it. The price was always _thirty
shillings_, to be divided amongst twenty persons, a shilling _dry_, and
six-pence _wet_, each person. Clifford assured me this office, of hiring
the men to draw their candidates home, was frequently allotted to him, and
that it was invariably the same with Mr. Horne Tooke, and Mr. Chamberlain,
alias John Wilkes; and that he would undertake to have me or Mr.
Waddington drawn through the streets of London, from Whitechapel to
Piccadilly, for the same sum. At this time there was in fact very little
disinterested patriotism amongst the working classes of the community.
They had, for so many years, been made the regular dupes of those who were
called the Opposition Members of Parliament, without that faction,
denominated the Whigs, having ever done any essential service for the
people at large, that public feeling, amongst the labouring classes of
mechanics and manufacturers, was at a very low ebb. Nor is this to be at
all wondered at, because none, not one, of these great leading public
characters ever professed to accomplish any thing that would openly,
tangibly, and immediately give any political rights to the people at
large.--Whenever the Opposition or Whigs wished to oust their opponents,
or harrass them in their places, they used to call public meetings in
London, Westminster, and other places; and they never failed to get the
multitude to pass any Whig resolutions which they might choose to submit
to them; there never being, at that time, any body to oppose or expose
their factious and party measures. The people, in London and Westminster,
always supported the Opposition against the Ministers; but they had
nevertheless, sense enough to discover that there was no direct intention
in the Opposition to render any immediate or effectual benefit to the
people. Whatever the Whigs promised, it was all remote and in perspective.
It cannot, therefore, excite surprise that there should have been none of
that enthusiasm which has been so evidently manifested by the people
within the last seven years. How many score times have I been drawn by the
populace?--and yet it never, in the whole course of my life, cost me or
any of my friends, the value of a pot of porter for any thing of the sort.
It is easy to account for this alteration in the popular feeling. The
change has been brought about in consequence of myself, and those who have
acted with me, having openly avowed our determination to endeavour to
obtain for the people equal political rights, which will lead to equal
justice; to procure for every sane adult a vote, an equal share in the
representative branch of the government, in the Commons' House of
Parliament; to procure for every man that which the constitution says he
is entitled to, and that which the law presumes he has, namely, a share in
choosing those Members of the People's, or Commons' House of Parliament;
who have a third share in making those _laws_, by which the lives, the
liberties, and the property of the people are regulated and disposed of.

But to return to my narrative--I was now living in the zenith of
thoughtlessness, if I may be permitted to call it by so mild an
appellation. I had a large income, and I contrived to live nearly, though
not quite, up to it, by keeping a great deal of expensive company, and an
expensive establishment, both within and without doors. In all this my
wife fully participated; but I attribute no blame to her for this. It was
_my_ business and my duty to know better, and to act otherwise. There is
no excuse for me, as I did know that I was leading what might be fairly
and justly called a dissolute life: I do not mean to admit that there was
any thing which is generally termed criminal in my conduct, but I must
say, if I tell the truth, which I am determined to do at all hazards, that
I led a very dissipated existence.

When I look back soberly, and divest myself of fashionable prejudices, I
cannot conscientiously call it by any milder name. In fact, though my
habits at that period were similar to those of thousands and thousands of
fashionable families in the country, who are looked upon as most
respectable and correct people, I cannot look back but with regret upon
the manner in which I spent this most valuable portion of my time.
Hunting, shooting, coursing, or fishing all day, and every day; and then
at night, instead of passing it with my family and children in the calm,
serene, delightful joys of a domestic and rational fireside, I had always
a large party at home, or made one amongst the number at a friend's house.
Seldom were we in bed till two or three o'clock in the morning. The next
day brought sporting, and the next night a ball, or a card party, or a
drinking party; and thus I was hurried from one scene of dissipation to
another, without ever allowing myself time scarcely to look round, seldom
to look back, and never seriously to reflect. It was with me even in
dissipation, as it was in every thing else that I engaged in, that I was
enthusiastic. In this record of my errors and failings, the reader must
therefore prepare himself to hear, at any rate, of some thumping faults;
and although I do not deserve, and do not expect, to escape the deep
censure of some, yet I rely upon the liberal indulgence of the more
virtuous portion of the community, who know that it is the lot of man to
err, but that it is godlike to make allowances for human infirmities, and
to forgive them. And, after relating all my errors, I shall boldly say, in
the language of our Saviour, "Let him that is without fault cast the first

In the midst of this life of thoughtless gaiety and pleasure, I was always
greatly attached to female society, and I gave the preference to those
amusements where females were of the party, such as dancing, music, and
those card parties where they could join. In consequence of this, I
frequently escaped those Bacchanalian carousals to which many of my
intimate friends and companions were strongly addicted. Not that I mean to
pretend, that, when I made one of those parties, I ever flinched. No; I
took my bottle as freely as any of them; but, thanks to a good
constitution, never to excess, or rather never so as to become inebriated.
Dancing I enjoyed, and participated in to excess. My partiality to female
society led me into many extravagancies, and into some difficulties; for I
could not pay moderate attention to a lady. My partner, if I admired her,
received my enthusiastic attention; for, though I was a married man, yet I
suffered no single man to outdo me in polite assiduities to my partner.
This sometimes drew down upon me the anger, and upon one occasion the
unjust suspicion, of Mrs. Hunt. A young lady, who was upon a visit in our
family, had attracted my particular notice. She was handsome, elegant,
lively, and fascinating, and I was at first led to pay her more marked
respect, because I discovered that it excited the envy of a widow lady of
Andover, who came with her on a visit to our house. She, like many of her
fellows, because she never possessed any of those personal charms, or
acquired accomplishments, that please all who come within the reach of
their influence, was uncommonly envious of those who did; and, setting
herself up as a sort of duenna to this young lady, undertook to take her
to task, for receiving with so much ease and unconcern, my extremely
marked attention, which she declared made my wife very unhappy.--This was,
at that moment, a barefaced falsehood of the old hag, though she contrived
afterwards by her arts, insinuations, and fabrications, to produce that
effect in the breast of Mrs. Hunt. The old widow, whom I shall for
convenience sake call Mrs. Butler, at first was successful in thwarting,
as she said, her young friend's amusement, and in rendering miserable the
person whom she affected to pity; but at last, by carrying her calumnies
too far, she failed altogether in her diabolical schemes; for, having
represented to Mrs. Hunt that she had seen me take a gross and indecent
liberty with the young lady, the falsehood struck my wife so forcibly,
that the object of it was very visible even to her jaundiced eye, and
without ceremony she ordered her carriage, and packed the slanderer off to
her own home, very properly forbidding her ever entering her door again.

Though my wife behaved with becoming spirit upon this occasion, by
banishing such a fiend in human form from her house, yet the latent sparks
of jealousy which had been lodged in her breast were still too visible to
be concealed. I was stung by being subject to such unjust suspicions, and,
instead of taking the prudent and proper course, conscious of the purity
and innocence of my feelings with respect to our young visitor, I
continued, nay, redoubled, my zealous devotion. Instead of healing the
breach that this fracas had made, I braved it out; and what before was
only the polite attention, which I was always in the habit of paying to an
interesting female, became now, to all outward appearance, an enthusiastic
attachment. Unfortunately, too, the young lady, feeling indignant at the
groundless and unjust ideas of Mrs. Hunt, too readily fell into my views,
and appeared to be very much pleased with my open and increased
assiduities. This added fuel to the fire; it led to the most unpleasant
consequences, and laid the foundation for those little bickerings which
are too apt to create, at length, a mutual indifference. However, after
having braved the affair out for a few days, the young lady returned
amongst her friends, who had the sincerity and candour to represent to her
the imprudence of her conduct; and this flirtation, which was so innocent
in fact, but so injurious in its result, was at once put an end to. I have
related this seemingly uninteresting affair, first to shew and admit the
folly of which I was guilty, for folly it was, to say the least of it; and
next, as a warning to my young readers, to avoid the rock of tampering
with and irritating the feelings of those whom they ought to love and
cherish. I sincerely believe if a man once excites jealousy in the breast
of his wife, whether well founded or not, the virus that it engenders is
of such a corroding nature that it is seldom, if ever, totally eradicated.
Married persons, therefore, can never be too circumspect in their conduct.
Though I never offered the most distant insult, or ever took even the most
innocent liberty, with this young lady, yet I admit that I was guilty of
an act of gross and wanton imprudence. I was guilty of great injustice to
the young lady, and of greater injustice to Mrs. Hunt; and I feel at this
moment, that, to induce the reader to forgive this faulty part of my
conduct, will require a considerable portion of liberality and good
nature, and of that amiable Christian virtue which teaches a person
conscious of his own innocence, to look with charity upon the failings of



[1] _for_ Stafford, _read_ Strafford.
[2] _for_ a great, _read_ at a great.
[3] _for_ preading, _read_ dreading.
[4] _for_ scenes which, _read_ scenes of misery.
[5] _for_ five, _read_ three.
[6] _for_ Dr. Stills, _read_ Mr. Stills.
[7] _for_ Barwis, _read_ Barvis.
[8] _for_ loud, _read_ old.
[9] _for_ ascend, _read_ descend.
[10] _for_ this time, _read_ at this time.
[11] _after_ Westcombe, _read_ was one of them, and he.
[12] _for_ Sycencot, _read_ Syrencot.
[13] _for_ settled to the, _read_ settled the.
[14] _for_ say, _read_ says.
[15] _for_ wer, _read_ were.
[16] _read_ were given without delay.
[17] _read_ went over with me in a chaise.
[18] _for_ hat, _read_ that.
[19] _for_ mothers, _read_ mother.
[20] _for_ listen to, _read_ listen to it.
[21] _for_ Brook-street, _read_ Brock-street.
[22] _for_ the Bear-inn, _read_ the inn.
[23] _for_ East-street, _read_ East Kent.
[24] _read_ the prosecutors moved, the Court of King's
Bench to remove the venue out of Kent, upon
the ground, that the farmers were prejudiced
so much in favour of Mr. Waddington, that
they could not obtain a fair jury.
[25] _for_ when she reached, _read_ when we reached.
[26] _for_ Mr. Foy, _read_ Mr. Fay.

[Note: The errata listed here have been applied to this text. The
page & line originally quoted have been replaced by alphabetical markers
[n], which refer to similar markers placed in the text where such
amendments were made.

[12] Sycencot -> Syrencot--referred to a single page/line. Syrencot is the
location of Dyke's house; it occurs at 3 other places in the text--these
have been changed and marked.
[16] deletes 'for furniture &c.'
[17] replaces 'went over in a chaise to Devizes the evening before.'
[24] replaces 'he moved the Court of King's Bench to remove the _venue_
out of Kent, on the score of a prejudice having been raised against him in
that county.' ]

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