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_The Adventures of Hugh Trevor_
--'TIS SO PAT TO ALL THE TRIBE
EACH SWEARS THAT WAS LEVELLED AT ME.
Every man of determined inquiry, who will ask, without the dread of
discovering more than he dares believe, what is divinity? what is law?
what is physic? what is war? and what is trade? will have great reason
to doubt at some times of the virtue, and at others of the utility, of
each of these different employments. What profession should a man of
principle, who is anxiously desirous to promote individual and general
happiness, chuse for his son? The question has perplexed many parents,
and certainly deserves a serious examination. Is a novel a good mode
for discussing it, or a proper vehicle for moral truth? Of this some
perhaps will be inclined to doubt. Others, whose intellectual powers
were indubitably of the first order, have considered the art of novel
writing as very essentially connected with moral instruction. Of this
opinion was the famous Turgot, who we are told affirmed that more
grand moral truths had been promulgated by novel writers than by any
other class of men.
But, though I consider the choice of a profession as the interesting
question agitated in the following work, I have endeavoured to keep
another important inquiry continually in view. This inquiry is, the
growth of intellect. Philosophers have lately paid much attention
to the progress of mind; the subject is with good reason become a
favourite with them, and the more the individual and the general
history of man is examined the more proofs do they discover in
support of his perfectability. Man is continually impelled, by the
vicissitudes of life, to great vicissitudes of opinion and conduct. He
is a being necessarily subject to change; and the inquiry of wisdom
ought continually to be, how may he change for the better? From
individual facts, and from them alone, can general knowledge be
Two men of different opinions were once conversing. The one scoffed at
innate ideas, instinctive principles, and occult causes: the other was
a believer in natural gifts, and an active fabricator of suppositions.
Suggest but the slightest hint and he would erect a hypothesis which
no argument, at least none that he would listen to, could overthrow.
So convinced was he of the force of intuitive powers, and natural
propensities, as existing in himself, that, having proposed to write
a treatise to prove that apple trees might bear oysters, or something
equally true and equally important, he was determined he said to
seek for no exterior aid or communication, from books, or things, or
men; being convinced that the activity of his own mind would afford
intuitive argument, of more worth than all the adulterated and
suspicious facts that experience could afford.
To this his antagonist replied, he knew but of one mode of obtaining
knowledge; which was by the senses. Whether this knowledge entered
at the eye, the ear, the papillary nerves, the olfactory, or by that
more general sense which we call feeling, was, he argued, of little
consequence; but at some or all of these it must enter, for he had
never discovered any other inlet. If however the system of his
opponent were true, he could only say that, in all probability, his
intended treatise would have been written in the highest perfection
had he begun and ended it before he had been born.
If this reasoning be just, I think we may conclude that the man of
forty will be somewhat more informed than the infant, who has but
just seen the light. Deductions of a like kind will teach us that
the collective knowledge of ages is superior to the rude dawning of
the savage state; and if this be so, of which I find it difficult
to doubt, it surely is not absolutely impossible but that men may
continue thus to collect knowledge; and that ten thousand years hence,
if this good world should last so long, they may possibly learn
their alphabet in something less time than we do even now, in these
For these reasons, I have occasionally called the attention of the
reader to the lessons received by the principal character of the
following work, to the changes they produced in him, and to the
progress of his understanding. I conclude with adding that in my
opinion, all well written books, that discuss the actions of men, are
in reality so many histories of the progress of mind; and, if what I
now suppose be truth, it is highly advantageous to the reader to be
aware of this truth.
_My birth: Family dignity insulted: Resentment of my grandfather:
Parental traits of character_
There are moments in which every man is apt to imagine, that the
history of his own life is the most important of all histories. The
gloom and sunshine, with which my short existence has been chequered,
lead me to suppose that a narrative of these vicissitudes may be
interesting to others, as well as to myself.
In the opinion of some people, my misfortunes began before I was born.
The rector of ***, my grandfather, was as vain of his ancestry, as a
German baron: and perhaps with no less reason, being convinced that
Adam himself was his great progenitor. My mother, not having the
fear of her father before her eyes, forgetful of the family dignity,
disgraced herself, and contaminated the blood of her offspring, by
marrying a farmer's son. Had she married a gentleman, what that very
different being, which a gentleman doubtless must have generated,
might have been, is more than I, as I now am, can pretend to divine.
As it is, however low it may sink me in the reader's opinion, truth
obliges me to own, I am but of a mongrel breed.
The delinquency of my mother was aggravated by the daringness of her
disobedience; for the rector, having a foresight of what was likely to
happen, had laid his express command on her never to see Hugh Trevor,
my father, more, on the very night that she eloped. Add to which,
she had the example of an elder sister, to terrify her from such
dereliction of duty; who, having married a rake, had been left a
widow, poor, desolate, and helpless, and obliged to live an unhappy
dependent on her offended father. 'I'll please my eye though I break
my heart,' said my mother.
She kept her word. Young Hugh was an athletic, well proportioned,
handsome man; of a sanguine temper, prone to pleasure, a frequenter
of wakes and fairs, and much addicted to speculate; particularly in
cards, cocking, and horse-racing.
Discarded by the rector, who was obstinately irreconcileable,
my mother went with her husband to reside in the house of her
father-in-law. Folly visits all orders of men. Farmers, as well as
lords and rectors, can be proud of their families. The match was
considered as an acquisition of dignity to the house of Trevor; and
my mother, bringing such an addition of honour, was most graciously
Here she remained something more than a year; and here, ten months
after the marriage, I was born. I had not openly assumed the form
which the vanity of man has dignified with divine above a fortnight,
before my grandfather, Trevor, died. He had been what is usually
called a good father; had lived in reputation, and had brought up
a large and expensive family. But as good in this sense usually
signifies indulgent, not wise, he had rather afforded his children the
means, and taught them the art, of spending money than of saving. His
circumstances were suspected, the creditors were hasty to prefer their
claims, and it soon appeared that he had died insolvent. The family
was consequently dispersed, and I, thus early, was in danger of being
turned, a poor, wailing, imbecil wanderer, on a world in which the
sacred rights of _meum_ and _tuum_ daily suffer thousands to perish.
Fortunately, considering the exigence of the moment, my father, who
was enterprising, adroit, and loquacious, prevailed on some friends
to lend him money to stock the farm, of the lease of which he was now
in possession. In this he succeeded the more easily, because he had
already acquired the character of an excellent judge of agricultural
affairs. He was known to be acute at driving bargains, could value
sheep, heifers, steers, and bullocks better than a Leicestershire
drover, was an excellent judge of horse flesh, and, during his
father's life, had several times proved he knew the exact moment of
striking earnest. Had fate sent him to a minister's levee instead of a
market for quadrupeds, he would have been a great politician! He would
have bought and sold with as much dexterity as any dealer in black
cattle the kingdom can boast!
At the first approach of misfortune, my mother had felt great
despondency; but when she saw her young husband so active, animated,
and fruitful in resource, her hopes presently began to brighten. The
parish where the rector resided was four miles from Trevor farm,
and the desolate prospect that at first presented itself to the
imagination of my mother had induced her to write, with no little
contrition, and all the pathos she could collect, to implore pardon
for her offence. But in vain. Her humiliation, intreaties, and dread
of want, excited sensations of triumph and obduracy, but not of
compassion, in the bosom of the man of God. The rector was implacable:
his pride was wounded, his prejudices insulted, and his anger rouzed.
He had, beside, his own money in his own pocket, and there he was
willing it should remain. Now we all know that pride, prejudice,
anger, and avarice, are four of the most perverse imps the _dramatis
personae_ of the passions can afford. The irreparable wrong done
to the family dignity, and the proper vengeance it became parental
authority to inflict, on such presumption as my father had been
guilty of, and such derogatory meanness as that of my mother, were
The severity of her father rendered the fortunate efforts of her
husband tenfold delightful. They mutually exulted in that futurity
that should enable them to set the unkind rector at defiance; and Hugh
often boasted he would prove, though but a farmer, that the blood
in his veins was as warm, and perhaps as pure, as that of any proud
parson's in the kingdom.
These were pleasant and flourishing but fleeting days. My father,
when he went to the fair to purchase his team, happened to see a fine
hunter on sale. It was a beautiful beast. Who could forbear to prefer
him and his noble form, high blood, and spirited action, to the
slouching dull and clumsy cart-horse? Hugh Trevor was not a man so
deficient in taste; he therefore, instead of a team of five, brought
home three horses for the plough, and this high bred hunter for his
pleasure. My mother herself, when she saw the animal, and heard her
husband's encomiums, could not but admire; nay she had even some
inclination to approve: especially when she listened to what follows.
'My dear Jane,' said my father to her, after alighting from the back
of his hunter, which he had walked, trotted, and galloped, to convince
her how perfect he was in all his paces, 'My dear Jane, we have an
excellent farm; the land is in good condition, the fences sound, and
the soil rich: no man in this county understands seeding, cropping,
and marketing better than I do: we shall improve our stock and double
our rent' (it was a hundred and fifty pounds per annum) 'the first
year. I shall soon meet with a smart nag, fit for the side saddle, and
shall easily make you a good horse woman; and then, when the seed is
in the ground, we may be allowed to take a little pleasure. Perhaps we
may ride by the rector's door, and if he should not ask us in we will
not break our hearts. Who knows but, in time, we may have cause to be
as purse proud as himself?'
My father, as it appears, was sanguine, high spirited, and not without
resentment. My mother, though her fancy was not quite so active, did
not think his reasoning much amiss; and recollected the jaunts they
were to take between seed time and harvest with complacency.
_Progress of my education, and conjectures on its consequences_
Bold in his projects, lucky in his bargains, and fertile in resources,
every thing, for a time, which my father undertook, seemed to prosper.
In the interim, I grew apace; and, according to the old phrase, was my
father's pride and my mother's joy. His free humour, and the delight
she took in exhibiting her boy, had occasioned me, in early infancy,
to be handed from arm to arm, and so familiarized to a variety of
countenances, as soon to be entirely exempted from the usual fears
of children. My father's bargains and sales brought me continually
acquainted with strange faces. He was vain of me, fond of having me
with him, and, as he called it, of case-hardening me. I became full
of prattle, inquisitive, had an incessant flow of spirits, and often
put interrogatories so whimsical, or so uncommon, as to make myself
From inclination, indeed, and not from plan, my father took some
trouble in my education; which I suspect was productive of unforeseen
effects. He played with me as a cat does with her kitten, and taught
me all the tricks of which he was master. They were chiefly indeed of
a bodily kind; such as holding me over his head erect on the palm of
his hand; putting me into various postures; making me tumble in as
many ways as he could devise; pitching me on the back of his hunter,
and accustoming me to sit on full trot; with abundance of other
antics, at which he found me apt; yet, being accompanied with laughter
and shouts, and now and then a hard knock, they tended, or I am
mistaken, not only to give bodily activity, but to awaken some of the
powers of mind; among which one of the foremost is fortitude. Insomuch
that, since I have had the honour to become a philosopher, I have
begun to doubt whether, hereafter, when the world shall be wiser, the
art of tumbling may not possibly supercede the art of dancing? But
this by the by.
Nor was my mother, on her part, altogether deficient in activity.
Exclusive of providing me with a sister, who from some accident or
other was but a puling, wrangling, rickety young lady, she initiated
me in the mysteries and pleasures of the alphabet. The rector had
taken some trouble to make his daughters good English scholars; and
my mother, though she had retained much of his solemn song, could not
only read currently, and articulate clearly, but made some attempts to
understand what she read. It must be acknowledged, however, that her
efforts were but feeble.
I know not how it happened that I very early became in love with this
divine art, but such was the fact. I could spell boldly at two years
and a half old, and in less than six months more could read the
collects, epistles, and gospels, without being stopped by one word in
twenty. Soon afterward I attacked the Bible, and in a few months the
tenth chapter of Nehemiah himself could not terrify me. My father
bought me many tragical ditties; such as Chevy Chace, the Children in
the Wood, Death and the Lady, and, which were infinitely the richest
gems in my library, Robin Hood's Garland, and the History of Jack the
Giant-killer. To render these treasures more captivating, observing
the delight it gave me, he used sometimes to sing the adventures of
Robin Hood with me; whether to the right tunes, or to music of his own
composing, is more than I know.
By accidents of this and the like kind, I became so much my father's
play-thing, and toy, that, his affairs then going on prosperously,
he put me in breeches before I was four years old, bought me a pony,
which he christened Gray Bob, buckled me to the saddle for safety, and
with a leading rein used frequently to take me with him to markets,
fairs, and races.
But, before I proceed to relate more of my infantine adventures, it
will be necessary to introduce a kinsman of mine to the reader's
acquaintance; of whom, though the alliance were now of some standing,
he has yet never heard.
_Rational courtship, and prudent views of widowed lovers: A strange
doubt hinted: The husband's code: Laws are quickly prescribed, and Yes
is easily said_
I have already mentioned my aunt, her imprudent first marriage,
the rector's resentment, who used to pronounce himself the most
unfortunate of men, in undutiful children, and her irksome dependence
on his bounty. With this aunt Mr. Elford, a man of much worth,
considerable knowledge, and great integrity of intention, became
acquainted, and by a variety of motives was prompted to pay her his
No people are so certain of the happiness of a state of wedlock as a
couple courting. Some difference however must be made, between lovers
who have never married, and lovers who, having made the experiment,
find it possible that a drop of gall may now and then embitter the
cup of honey. My aunt's first husband had been a man of an easy
disposition, and readily swayed to good or ill. She had seldom
suffered contradiction from him, or heard reproach. A kind of good
humoured indolence had accustomed him rather to ward off accusation
with banter, or to be silent under it, than to contend. His
extravagance had obliged her to study the strictest economy; she,
therefore, was the ostensible person; she regulated, she corrected,
she complained. She had a tincture of the rector in her composition,
and her husband's follies afforded sufficient opportunities for the
exercise of her office.
After his death, which happened early, the wrecks of his originally
small fortune, scarcely afforded her subsistence for a year. By
many humble but grating concessions on her part, and no less proud
upbraidings on the part of her father, she was first allowed a
trifling annuity, almost too scanty to afford the means of life, and,
as it were in resentment to the unpardonable conduct of my mother, was
afterward permitted to return to the parsonage house.
The state of subjection in which she was kept, the dissatisfaction
this evidently created, the gloom that was visible in her countenance,
and that seemed to oppress her heart, added to a disconsolate and
habitual taciturnity, soon occasioned Mr. Elford to consider her with
compassion: and the very question--can I not afford her relief? gave
birth to ideas of a still more tender nature.
These were seconded by a retrospect to his own situation. He had lost
a beloved wife, who had left him an infant daughter, in whose future
felicity he was strongly interested. He had often considered the
subject of education, and had become the determined enemy of
boarding-schools, where every thing is taught and nothing understood;
where airs, graces, mouth primming, shoulder-setting and elbow-holding
are studied, and affectation, formality, hypocrisy, and pride are
acquired; and where children the most promising are presently
transformed into vain, pert misses, who imagine that to perk up their
heads, turn out their toes, and exhibit the ostentatious opulence
of their relations, in a tawdry ball night dress, is the summit of
Determined that his child should be sent to no such academy, he
considered a second marriage as necessary. Though an excellent
economist, he was utterly a stranger to avarice. My aunt was neither
rich, nor handsome, nor young; being, according to the rector's
account, on the debtor side of his books, of an adust complection,
atrabilarious in look and temper, thirty-four, and two years older
than Mr. Elford. But he imagined he could make her happy; or at least
could relieve her from a state little less than miserable. He likewise
supposed that she was well fitted to promote plans which he held to be
wise. Errors in moral calculations frequently escape undetected, even
by the most accurate.
But, as he was very sincere and honest in his intentions, he
thought proper, while paying his court to her, to explain what his
expectations were, and the reasons on which they were grounded. His
system was, there must be government; and, if government, there must
be governors. This by the by I believe to be a radical mistake in
politics; though I likewise believe there is not one man in fifty
thousand who would not scoff at me for the supposition. Proceeding
in his hypothesis, he concluded that the strongest understanding had
a prescriptive and inherent right to govern; and with great candour,
thus laying down the law to my aunt, he undisguisedly avowed a
conviction that his understanding was the strongest, and that to
govern would be his inherent right.
His words were so powerful, his arguments so excellent, his statement
of them so clear, and all his deductions so indubitable, that my aunt
had not the least objection to offer. 'That must be allowed--that
cannot be denied--nothing can be more reasonable'--were her continual
answers. The consequence of all this was a marriage: and my aunt
having been noted for her prudence, during the life of her first
husband, (though not indeed in having made him her husband) and Mr.
Elford's character, for propriety, rectitude and good intention, being
still more permanently established, there was not the least doubt
entertained, especially by the parties, but that this would be a happy
Having thus brought the reader and Mr. Elford together, I must now
proceed to relate the manner in which I myself and my good uncle first
_My curiosity leads me into danger, but introduces me to a friend, who
discovers that he is my uncle_
In the month of August, and the city of *****, a fair is annually
held, in which, during those halcyon days of prosperity, my father was
an active trafficker. Thither the neighbouring gentry, yeomanry, and
dealers in general, repaired, as the best mart in the county, at which
to expend their money. It was fifteen miles from Trevor farm.
Curiosity is an incessant impulse to youth. I intreated to go, and my
petition was favourably received. When we were there, in consequence
of some bargain or sale, it happened that my father had occasion to
ride, with a farmer, to a place at some distance from the fair, and
in the interim to leave me in the care of the bar-maid of the inn, at
which we had put up.
He had not been long gone before I, eager to see what could be seen,
broke loose from my keeper, who was too busy to pay much attention
to me, and strolled into the throng. I wandered about, without any
suspicion of danger, from place to place, I know not how long, to
drink in all the knowledge that could enter at my eyes.
How I came there I cannot tell, but at last it appears I had rambled
into a coffee-house, put questions to the guests, who found amusement
in the novelty of my undaunted air, appearance, and prattle, and,
having taken up a newspaper and begun to display my talent, was placed
upon a table to read it aloud to the company.
The astonished farmers could scarcely believe their ears, so much was
I, a four-year-old child, their superior in learning. Some of them
were not certain that I was not an imp of Satan, so utterly did
my performance exceed credibility. My beauty too at this age was
uncommon; my limbs were straight and strong, my cheeks of the purest
red and white, and my full flaxen hair hung in short ringlets down my
neck. The mistress and bar-maid kissed me, the men gave me money, and
they all eagerly enquired who I was, where I was going, and how I had
In the height of this scene it happened that Mr. Elford came in, who,
though two years married to my aunt, till that time had never seen
me. Though his understanding prevented any stupid wonder, yet he felt
uncommon emotion for a child, unknown to everybody, yet happy and
fearless, and so attractive in manners, form, and intelligence. He
asked, what was my name? I answered, little Hugh. From whence did I
come? From home--Who brought me? Gray Bob.--Where was I going? To see
In the midst of these interrogatories, a beggar, with a child at her
back, and another that she led, came into the coffee-room. In one hand
I had a cake, given me by one of the company, which I had begun to
eat; and in the other the money, that the kindness and amazement of my
auditors had forced upon me. The woman intreated piteously for relief;
and the landlord, angry that his guests should be disturbed, advanced
to turn her out. She again intreated with great earnestness for
charity. That she inspired me with some share of pity, seems certain
for I held out my hand with the money to her, and said--Here!
Pleased with my promptness, Mr. Elford bade her take it, and she
obeyed. The child at her back, seeing my cake, stretched out its arm;
I understood its language, and was going to give it the cake, but
checked myself, and said, No; you must not have all; your brother
must have a bit; and broke it between them. Seized with one of those
emotions, to which some few people are subject, Mr. Elford snatched me
in his arms, kissed me, and exclaimed--My good boy, I prophecy thou
wilt one day be a brave fellow!
Just as this was passing, the city bellman took his stand opposite the
coffee-house door; and, with his _O yes_, gave notice that I was lost;
concluding with a description of my age, dress, name, and place of
Mr. Elford immediately conjectured his business, went to listen, was
struck when he heard the particulars, and hastily returned to ask me
if my name was Hugh Trevor? I answered, yes; little Hugh. He instantly
ran after the bellman, told him the boy was found, and I was conducted
by Mr. Elford and the bellman, with a crowd in their retinue, back to
my terrified father; between whom and my uncle an acquaintance from
this time commenced.
_Benevolent stratagem of my uncle defeated by the unlucky and foolish
triumph of my father: The anger and oath of the rector_
Mr. Elford cultivated a small estate of his own, lying about ten miles
from Trevor farm, and beyond that village of which my grandfather was
the spiritual guide. The daughter for whose sake he had first been
prompted to marry again was dead, and this perhaps was one cause that
strengthened his affection for me. He frequently rode over to visit
us, made himself my play-mate and favourite, encouraged a greater
degree of intimacy between the sisters, who were not too cordially
inclined toward each other, and soon obtained permission to take me
home with him for a fortnight. The disposition he shewed to aid my
father, and the possibility that I might one day be his heir, readily
induced my parents to comply.
Mr. Elford, as his history will shew, was perhaps liable to greater
mistakes than might have been expected from a man of so much
understanding, ardour, and goodness of intention; but, though like
other men occasionally blind to his own errors, he could not but feel
pain at the obduracy of the rector's conduct toward my mother. For
this reason, on my first visit to his house, he concerted a plan by
which he hoped to effect a reconciliation. From the incidents that
occurred, I think it probable that he would have accomplished his
purpose, had it not been for a trick that my father played, by which
this well meant scheme was rendered abortive.
Squire Mowbray, the lord of the manor in which lay the village where
my grandfather lived, kept his coach and his post chariot. The rector,
who had a secret enmity to him, or rather to that influence by which
his own power was diminished, kept his coach and his post chariot too,
lest he should openly avow inferiority, and his dignity be called in
question. To add to these honours, he was drawn by a pair of bays.
It happened that one of these animals became unfit for service,
was sold, and another was wanting as his successor. A neighbouring
horse-breeder had one that was a good match, and for which the rector
had bidden money, but not enough. My father, in the mean time, had
purchased this and other horses of the owner; and the rector, when it
was too late, sent to offer the man his own price.
The breeder made application to my father to have the horse again,
with an allowance of profit; to which he consented, till he was
accidentally told for whom the horse was designed. Flushed with
temporary success and fallacious hopes, Hugh was happy to find an
opportunity of shewing that he could resent as well as the rector, and
exultingly swore he should not have the horse, if he would purchase
him at his weight in gold.
The message, with a due increase of insulting aggravation, was
conveyed to the divine; who was so exasperated by this audacious act
of insolence and gratuitous rebellion, that he went down on his knees,
and took a solemn oath never to forget or forgive the injury.
Whether this became an apostle of peace, or whether divines are all
and unexceptionably apostles of peace, are questions which I do not
here pretend to analyze.
Ignorant of this event, and glowing with the desire of affording me
a grandfather's protection, Mr. Elford pursued his little plot. The
rector had always wished for a male heir, the offspring of his own
loins; but in this he had not been indulged, by those powers that
regulate such matters. A son of his own being therefore past hope, Mr.
Elford imagined he might perhaps find consolation in the succedaneum
of a grandson.
Accordingly, a few days after my arrival at his house, where I was to
stay a fortnight, he invited the rector, who had never yet seen me, to
dinner. Without telling him who I was, my uncle made me so diverting,
by the art with which he knew how to manage me, that the old
gentleman, quite surprized, declared I was a very extraordinary child.
So fearless and free was my behaviour, that the rector and I presently
became familiar. I shook hands with him, sat on his knee, felt in his
pocket, gave him the history of Gray Bob, and asked for a penny to buy
me a whip. My request being granted, I wanted immediately to have a
horse saddled, that I might ride to market, and make my purchase; and
the good humour with which I received the information, that this was
a favour not to be obtained, further gained on the old theologian's
heart. I asked if he had a horse. He answered, yes, he had many
horses; and that if I would go home with him, he would let me ride
them all. Come, let us go, said I, taking hold of his hand, and
Mr. Elford, waiting for the proper moment, and interrupting me, asked
my grandfather--'If you, Sir, had but such a little fellow of your
own, what would you do with him?'--'Do!' exclaimed the rector: 'I
would make a man of him. Oh that he had been mine twenty years
ago!'--'And why not, O that he were mine now?' answered Mr. Elford--'I
could be well contented that he were.' As he said this, the rector,
strange to tell, sighed--'Your wishes then are gratified,' continued
Mr. Elford: 'he is your own.'--'How?'--'Your grandson!'
The reverend pastor was taken by surprise. Certain associations had
been set afloat, and the desire of realizing the vision had for a
moment obliterated the recollection of revenge. 'Go, Hugh,' said Mr.
Elford, 'and kiss your grandfather.' Without asking any questions,
or shewing the least token of reluctance, I went up to him, as I was
bidden, to give the kiss; but my good-humoured face, stretched out
arms, and projecting chin, were presented in vain: the words Hugh and
grandfather had conjured up the fiend, and the rector sat motionless.
Not accustomed to meet and therefore not expecting repulse, I climbed
up his chair, stayed myself by the breast of his coat, and sat down on
his knee. The recollection of his daughter's crime, his contaminated
blood, and the insufferable insolence of my father, came strongly upon
him. He scowled at me, seized me by the arms, flung me from him with
something like violence, and walked hastily out of the house.
The tide of passion ran so high that he would not stay to dine, but
departed, muttering anger at the conduct of Mr. Elford, and repeating
asseverations of eternal resentment and maledictions against undutiful
Mr. Elford felt an emotion something stronger than grief, to see a
pastor of the flock of Christ thus cherish the spirit of persecution.
On me the scene made but little impression. I had no apprehension that
the day was coming, when this inflexible guide of Christians would
find his prayers effectual, and his prophecies of vengeance fulfilled.
How could I know that there was so hateful a vice as malignity? The
holy seer did not indeed indulge his wrath quite so far as Elisha, at
least not openly; he did not curse me in the name of the Lord, nor did
she-bears come out of the wood to devour me; but I soon enough had
my share of misfortune. Preachers of peace, it appears, were always
irritable: but to do them justice, I believe they are something less
so now than they were of old.
_My different preceptors and early propensities: I ride to hunt with
my father, which is productive of a strange and terrible adventure_
My father's affairs still continued to wear the appearance of success,
and by the aid of Mr. Elford, he extended his speculations. For some
few years my time passed merrily away. Under the tuition of my father,
I gained health, strength, and intrepidity; and was taught to sip ale,
eat hung beef, ride like a hero, climb trees, run, jump, and swim;
that, as he said, I might face the world without fear. I grew strong
of muscle, and my thews and sinews became alert and elastic in the
execution of their office.
To my uncle I was indebted for hints and notions of a more refined
and elevated nature. By familiar instances, he endeavoured to make me
distinguish between resisting wrongs and revenging them; and to feel
the pleasure, not only of aiding the weak, but of pardoning the
From the books which I found in his house, I likewise early acquired
a religious propensity, which was encouraged by my aunt with all her
power, and seconded by my mother. Their education, and the dogmas they
had heard from the rector, had given them very high notions of the
dignity of the clerical character; in the superior presence of which,
temporal things, laymen, and civil magistracy itself, sunk into
insignificance. The perusal of Fox's Book of Martyrs, of which I was
so fond that I would sit with my aunt for hours, before I was eight
years old, and read it to her, aided their efforts: and this childhood
bias, as will be seen, greatly influenced my first pursuits in life.
We are all the creatures of the necessities under which we exist. The
history of man is but the history of these necessities, and of the
impulse, emotion, or mind, by them begotten. Of the incidents of my
childhood, that which made the deepest impression upon me I am now
going to relate.
The daring Hugh, my father, who feared no colours, had long been
accustomed, whenever he could find time, and often indeed when he
could not, to follow the fox hounds, and hunt with his landlord, the
Squire himself. Among his other bargains, he had lately bought one of
the Squire's brood mares, Bay Meg, that had been sold because she had
twice cast her foal. On the eve of my ninth returning birth-day, being
in a gay humour (he was seldom sad) he said to me, 'I shall go out
to-morrow morning with Squire Mowbray's hounds, Hugh; will you get
up and go with me?' My heart bounded at the proposal. 'Yes,' said I.
'Lord, husband,' exclaimed my mother, 'would you break the child's
neck?' 'There is no fear,' retorted I. 'Well said, Hugh', continued my
father; 'you shall ride Bay Meg; you are but a feather, she will carry
you with ease, and will not run away with you.' 'Never fear that,'
replied I, stoutly. My mother at first made some opposition, but
my father laughed, and I coaxed, intreated, and teazed, till she
complied; for this was by no means the first scene of the kind.
I went to bed with an overjoyed heart, and a head so full of the
morrow that I was up dressed and ready the first in the house. The
horses were brought out, my father and I mounted, we soon came up with
the sportsmen, and away we went in quest of a fox.
We were at first unlucky, and it was late in the day before Reynard
was found; but about noon the hounds opened, he started in view, and
the sport began.
The chace happened to be long, heavy, and continued for many miles. My
father was an eager sportsman. He valued himself both upon his hunter
and his horsemanship; and who should be first in at the death was
an honour that he would contend with the keenest sportsman in the
kingdom, though it were the Squire himself. The running was so severe
that Bay Meg became willing to lag. He looked behind, called after
me to push on, and I obeyed, and laid on her with whip and heel, as
lustily as I could. My father, anxious to keep sight of me yet not
lose the hounds, pulled in a little, and the hunted animal, in hopes
of finding cover, made toward a wood. Being prevented from entering
it, he skirted along its sides, and turning the corner, the hindmost
sportsmen followed by a short cut through the wood.
Keeping my eye on my father, I likewise struck into the wood, but,
taking a wrong direction, was presently entangled among the trees and
brambles, and entirely at a loss. I afterward learned that my father,
having lost sight of me for some minutes, stopped, hoping I should
come up; and then rode back to seek me, while I was spurring forward
in a contrary line.
After many efforts, stoppages, and windings, I at last made my way
through the wood, and came to the entrance of an extensive heath. The
hounds, though at a great distance, were still in hearing, and Bay
Meg, accustomed to the sport, erected her ears and listened after them
with great attention. For some time longer she obeyed the whip, and
increased her gallop, evidently with a desire to come up with them;
but after a while, finding they were out of hearing, she grew sulky,
slackened her pace, tired, and at last fairly stood still. I had been
so much used to horses that, perceiving her humour, I had the sagacity
to turn her head homeward, and she then went on again, though with a
sullen and sluggish pace.
On looking round however, and considering, my alarm began. I was in
the middle of an extensive heath, or moor, with no living creature,
house, or object in sight, except here and there a scattered shrub and
a few sheep. It was winter, and the day was far advanced: add to this
the wind had risen, and when I turned about, was in my face, and blew
a sharp sleet which then began to fall full in my eyes, half blinded
me and the mare, and offended her nostrils so much that she once more
wheeled about, and refused to proceed either one way or the other.
Not yet quite daunted, while I was making every effort to bring her
round, a gust of wind blew off my hat. Forgetting that Bay Meg was
tall and I short, and that there was neither gate nor mounting stone
to be seen, I alighted to recover my hat. Being down, to get up again
was impossible; my foot could not reach the stirrup.
The lowering sky, the approach of darkness, and the utter desert in
which I found myself at length conjured up the full distress of the
scene, which seized upon my imagination, and I burst into tears.
I continued sobbing, crying, and tugging at Bay Meg, till night had
fairly overtaken us. At last I found myself beside some white railing,
which was the boundary of a race course within the distance. This at
first seemed to promise me relief: with great difficulty I coaxed Bay
Meg up to it, climbed upon the railing, and hoped once more to mount.
But in vain; the perverse animal set her face to me, nor could any
language I was master of prevail on her to approach sideways; and if I
lifted my whip, she did but run backward and pull me down.
This contest continued I know not how long, till quite hopeless I gave
it up, and again proceeded to lead her, not knowing where or in what
direction I was going. After a time the moon appeared, and a very
indifferent afternoon was succeeded by a fine night. I continued
sobbing, but still proceeded, as fast as I could prevail on Bay Meg
to follow me, till propitious fortune brought me to a road, where the
wheels had cut deep ruts, and the tread of horses had left the ridges
high. Here I once again essayed to mount, and by the help of the
Still I knew not where I was, nor what to do; except that my only
chance was to go on.
I had not proceeded far before the traces of road began to diminish,
and I struck into another path that seemed more beaten. This gradually
disappeared, and I soon found myself on the level green-sward, without
any marks of footing for my guide. To relieve this new distress I
turned to the right, hoping again to recover the track I had lost;
instead of which, after riding on I know not how far, I found the
heath begin to grow marshy. Again I turned, but so unfortunately that
every step the mare set sunk her deeper and deeper in a bog, till
at last she could not drag herself out. My danger was extreme; but
I rightly conjectured the bog would support me singly, better than
it would me and the mare: I therefore jumped off, kept hold of the
bridle, which I threw over her head, and by shifting my ground
prevented myself from sinking very deep, while I continued my
endeavours to relieve the mare. She made a lucky plunge, and I,
turning her head in a different direction as much as possible, found
myself in part released from this danger: though I was obliged to
proceed every step with the utmost precaution.
Once more dismounted, wearied, and despairing, I had no resource but
to wander I knew not whither, or lie down perishing with cold on a
damp moor, while a severe frost was setting in. Great as my distress
was, I had too much courage to sink under it, and I went on, giving
some relief to my affliction by sobs and tears.
These various circumstances continued till the night began to be far
advanced; but after two or three hours of most tedious and weary
wandering I again came to a rising ground, by the help of which with
great efforts I once more contrived to mount. I was no sooner in the
saddle than I thought I saw a light at a distance, which sometimes
seemed to glimmer and as often disappeared. Toward this however I
determined to direct my course, and proceeded losing and recovering it
till I could catch sight of it no more.
Continuing in the same direction for some time, I came to a barn.
Benumbed, fatigued, and ready as I was to drop from the saddle, I
entered it as joyfully as a shipwrecked sailor climbs a barren rock.
I scarcely could dismount, and it was with great difficulty I could
unbuckle and take off the bridle of Bay Meg: but my hands were so
frost bitten and my perseverance so exhausted, that the saddle was
beyond my ability. I therefore shut the door, and left her to feed
on what she could find; while I went and laid myself down among some
trusses of straw, that were heaped on one side.
The pain of my thawing hands would not immediately suffer me to go to
sleep, and, just as it was beginning to decrease and I to slumber,
the door opened and a woman came in. My fears were again alarmed, for
as I listened I heard her weep bitterly. In no long time afterward
a man leaned forward, through the door, and said--'Mary! Art thou
there?'--To which she replied with a sob--'Yea, Tummas; I be here.'
My half frozen blood and my fears again afloat made me tremble through
every limb; and there was something in the grief of the woman, and
particularly in the voice of the man, which had no tendency to calm my
agitation. I could see distinctly, for the moon shone full in at the
door. He entered the barn, they sat down together, and after some
trifling questions I heard the following dialogue.
'And so, Mary, thou say'st thou beest with child?'
'Yea, Tummas, that I too surely be; the more is my hard hap.'
'And what dost thou mean to do?'
'Nay, Tummas, what doon you mean to do?'
'No matter for that--Thou threatest me, last night, that thou wouldst
swear thy bastard to me.'
'For shame, for shame, Tummas, to talk o'that'n! If it mun be a
bastard, thou well knowest it is a bastard of thy own begetting.'
'I know better.'
'Oh Christ! Tummas: canst thou look in my face and tell me that?'
'Yea, I can.'
'Thou art a base false man, Tummas!'
'Don't call names.'
'Thou knowest thou art. What canst thou hope for, after swearing so
wickedly as thou didst to be true to me and marry me, but that the
devil should come for thee alive?'
'No matter for that. If I must go to the devil, it shall not be for
nothing. But mayhap thou hadst a better a kept a good tongue in thy
'Thou hadst a better a kept an honest one in thine, Tummas.'
'I'll make thee repent taunting me, as thou hast done, afore folks;
and _threaping_ and _threating_ to lay thy bastard at my door.'
'Do thy worst! Thou hast brought me to shame and misery, and hast
sworn thyself to the bottomless pit: what canst thou do more?'
'Thou shall see.'
As he said this, he deliberately drew a knife from his pocket, and
began to whet it upon his shoe--I was breathless: my hair stood on
end--The woman exclaimed:
'Jesus God! Tummas; What dost thou mean?'
'Say thy prayers!'
'Merciful Saviour! Why, thou wilt not murder me, Tummas?'
'Thou shalt never go alive out of this place.'
'Christ have mercy upon my sinful soul!'
'I'll do thy business.'
'For the gracious love of the merciful heaven, Tummas, bethink
'I'll teach thee to swear thy ugly bastard brat to me!'
'I wunnot, Tummas; I wunnot! For Christ Jesus sake bethink thyself!
Dunnot murder me, Tummas! Oh, dunnot murder me! I'll never trouble
thee, Tummas, while I have breath; I'll never trouble thee! Indeed,
indeed, I wunnot!'
'I know thee better: tomorrow thou would'st tell all; this and all.'
'Never, Tummas: as God shall pardon my sins, never, never, never!'
The poor creature screamed with agony, while the determined fellow
kept whetting his knife. At last she made a sudden spring and
endeavoured to seize his arm; but, missing her aim, he immediately
struck her with his fist and began to stab her.
Unable to contain myself, I shrieked with no less horror and
vociferation than the poor mangled creature. The mare herself took
fright, and sprang, with the snorting of terror and clattering of
hoofs, with her shoulder against the door, endeavouring to get out.
This unexpected noise, aiding his guilt, inspired the murdering wretch
with instantaneous dread, and he immediately took to flight; leaving
the woman weltering in her blood, groaning, and, as I supposed,
Impelled by my fears and the horror of the scene, I had no longer any
feeling of cold, or sense of debility. I ran to the door, shut it, and
finding a fork that stood beside it made as good a cross bar-fastening
as I was able. I then resolutely set my own shoulder to it, and there
remained, I know not how long, in momentary dread the murderer would
return. The woman's groans seemed to diminish, as if she were dying;
and I durst neither stir nor speak; for I feared to do any thing but
The energy of my terror was so great that it was very very long before
I was weary enough of my situation to be obliged to move. Fatigue, and
a dead silence without, at length however induced me first to change
my position, and after a time, gradually and with great caution, to
open the door and look out. Neither hearing nor seeing any thing, I
waited awhile, and then ventured so far as to walk round the barn;
though in the utmost trepidation, and possessed by the most horrid
fears, which were increased by a great increase of darkness; the moon
being then either descending or hidden behind the clouds.
Having made no discoveries, except that every thing was quiet, I
once more entered the barn, where all was still as death. The woman
had ceased to groan; nor could I, though I listened with the most
solicitous attention, hear her breathe. Horror returned in all its
force, and I stood immoveable, unknowing what to resolve on or what to
attempt. At length I took courage and exclaimed, 'In the name of God,
if you are alive, speak!'
The very sound of my own voice inspired unutterable terror; which
was augmented by a heavy and long confined groan, proceeding from
the woman. She had retained her breath, fearing the return of the
assassin. The answer that followed her groan was, 'If you are a
Christian soul, get me some help.' I told her I was lost, benighted,
and did not know where to go for any. She replied there was a town,
not half a mile distant, at the back of the barn; and named the very
place at which my aunt and uncle Elford lived.
As soon as surprise and joy would permit, I asked if she knew Mr.
Elford. Her answer was, 'I am his servant; and this is his barn.'
Various recollections immediately crouded upon me, and the scene and
the voice of poor Mary, to which a moment before I had been so utter
a stranger, became familiar to me. 'It is I, Mary; little Hugh,' said
I. 'Don't you know me?' A dismal 'Oh!' excited no doubt by the most
painful associations, was her answer. I desired her to be quiet and
patient, while I ran for aid; assuring her I would soon be back, for
that I now knew where I was, and was perfectly acquainted with the
Accordingly away I ran, with all the speed I had, to my uncle's house;
where, when I arrived, I knocked at the door, pelted the window, and
called as vociferously as I could for them to rise. The house-dog
barked violently, and my uncle was soon at the window, with my aunt
at his back, demanding with surprise and dissatisfaction who I was,
and what I wanted? I exclaimed, 'Come down, uncle! A man has been
murdering your maid Mary! She will be dead if you do not make haste!'
'Good God!' cried my aunt, pressing forward; 'Child! Hugh Trevor!
Nephew! Is it you?' 'Yes, yes, aunt,' answered I: 'make haste and try
to save the poor creature's life!'
The astonishment excited by such a messenger, bringing such a message,
and at such an hour, may well be imagined. Master, mistress, and
servants, were immediately in motion, and the doors opened. Question
succeeded question; exclamations were incessant; and my answers
quickly communicated much of the terror I myself had felt.
Regulating his proceedings according to my account, Mr. Elford
dispatched a servant to the surgeon; and, having prepared a hurdle by
way of litter, went with me and two of his men to the barn.
My aunt was very loath I should return; but my spirits, by the various
incidents of the night, were much too active to suffer me to feel
either hunger, weariness, or want of sleep; and Mr. Elford recollected
I might be useful, in preventing the terrors of poor Mary at our
approach; for which reason he suffered me to run before, and inform
her that help was coming.
When I came to the barn, the moment I set my foot over the threshold,
my terrors of murder and of her having expired all returned. After a
short pause, I called with a trembling voice, 'Mary! Are you alive?'
and my heart bounded with joy to hear her, though dolefully, answer,
Mr. Elford and his attendants soon came up; and the remainder of
the story of poor Mary was, that, being removed and put to bed, her
wounds though deep and dangerous were found not to be mortal; that
she recovered in a few weeks, and by the influence of Mr. Elford was
retained in my aunt's service; to the great scandal of the place,
where it was affirmed that such hussies and their bastards ought to be
whipped from parish to parish, and so, as I suppose, whipped out of
the world; that in two months time she was delivered of a fine boy,
whom, when my uncle left the country, she maintained by her own hard
earnings; and that in the extremity of her distress, when she thought
herself at the point of death, she obstinately refused to declare who
was her intended murderer; and though, by his having been known to be
her _sweetheart_, and his flight from the country where he never more
appeared, people were sufficiently convinced who the man was, yet her
pertinacious theme was--_she would never be his accuser: if God could
pardon him, she could_.
_Mistakes and family quarrels of Mr. and Mrs. Elford: His departure,
and exile: with the letters he wrote_
And now the period approached when the pleasures of the days of
childhood were to terminate, and when I was to experience an abundance
of those rude disasters under which the poor, the friendless, and the
The first stroke which the malice of fortune aimed at me was the
voluntary banishment of my uncle. Though I have forborne to interrupt
my narrative by a recapitulation of the unhappy bickerings that took
place between Mr. Elford and my aunt, soon after their marriage, yet
these bickerings were very frequent, very bitter, and at last very
fatal. Instead of the happiness which they and every body had thought
so certain, they were completely wretched.
My youth had not prevented me lately from remarking, when at their
house, the steady and severe silence which Mr. Elford endeavoured
to preserve, and the fixed dissatisfaction and gloom of my aunt.
Notwithstanding the efforts they made, especially Mr. Elford, not
to suffer their unhappiness to extend beyond themselves, it became
frequently painful, even for me, to be in their company. He indeed was
often in part successful, in these efforts; but she seldom, or never.
Their mutual discontent was the more easily increased to misery,
because it happened between people who each had the character of
prudent; and whose partiality individually acquitted them of that
disorder, which the want of good temper alone had produced.
In making an estimate of the probable conveniences and inconveniences,
agreements and disagreements, that might happen between them, they had
reciprocally been deceived.
Mr. Elford had endeavoured to provide against this, by a plain
declaration of his sentiments and expectations; which Mrs. Elford had
too inconsiderately concluded she should continue to think rational
and just. She imagined there was no fear of violent quarrels, between
a man of so much understanding as Mr. Elford and a woman so disposed
to listen to reason as herself. She was ignorant of the power of
habit over her temper. The rector had taught her pride, marriage had
taught her misfortune, and pride and misfortune had made her fretful,
melancholy and moody. She had suffered no opposition from her first
husband; her will had been his law; and she knew not, till she had
made the trial, how difficult it is to concede with a good grace. The
least thing that offended her threw her into tears. The passions of
Mr. Elford and my aunt were mutually too much inflamed for either of
them to draw equitable and wise conclusions, and tears he held to be a
false, insulting, and odious mode of proclaiming him a tyrant: it was
to say, I dare not utter my complaints in words, but my tears I cannot
restrain! Too angry to doubt of or examine his reasons, convinced of
his own humanity, and his desire to see and make her happy, such an
accusation he considered so violently unjust as to be unpardonable.
It must be owned, she did not confine her grief to weeping; she
was often seized with fits of hysteric passion, in which the most
outrageous and false accusations were indulged. To reply to them,
or attempt to disprove what he knew to be so absurd, he thought
derogatory to innocence; and the world half suspected him to be the
tyrant he had been painted. This increased his sense of injury, and
consequently did not diminish the affliction of my aunt.
Of the happiness, indeed, which was to result from this marriage,
she had conceived romantic ideas; and when she found herself again
involved in the cares of a family, liable to the control of a man who
expected the utmost propriety and order, who looked with a strict eye
over every department, and whose opinion did not always coincide with
her own, she became constantly peevish, and her former gloom grew
ten fold more gloomy. She pined after that connubial affection which
their reciprocal conduct was calculated to destroy; and from the hasty
decisions of passion convinced herself, that no part of the blame
was justly her own. Mr. Elford was no less obstinate in the contrary
opinion. Taking philosophy such as he found it, he like his neighbours
too hastily concluded there were duties and affairs for which men were
fitted, but of which women were incapable. Blending much truth with
some falsehood, he thus argued:
'The leading features in the character of an amiable and good woman
are mildness, complacency, and equanimity of temper. The man, if he be
a provident and worthy husband, is immersed in a thousand cares: his
mind is agitated, his memory loaded, and his body fatigued. He returns
from the bustle of the world chagrined perhaps at disappointments,
angry at indolent or perfidious people, and terrified lest his
unavoidable connections with such people should make him appear to be
indolent or perfidious himself. Is this a time for the wife of his
bosom, his dearest most intimate friend, to add to his vexations and
increase the fever of an overburthened mind, by a contumelious tongue
or a discontented brow? Business, in its most prosperous state, is
full of anxiety, labour, and turmoil. Oh! how dear to the memory of
man is that wife who clothes her face in smiles; who uses gentle
expressions, and who makes her lap soft to receive and hush his cares
to rest. There is not in all nature so fascinating an object as a
faithful, tender, and affectionate wife!'
Had he wished for a wife who, instead of indulging the caprice of
indolence would have awakened him to energy, and have taught him to
be just not captious, his desires would have been more rational:
but, to a man who had formed a system of obedience to authority, and
not to reason, the arguments he used were irrefragable. To a woman
who imagined that obedience, in all cases, was the badge of abject
slavery, they were absurd. Thus opposite in principle and in practice,
their unhappy state of existence finally became so intolerable, to one
of them at least, as to occasion the violent measure and the painful
sensations described by Mr. Elford in the following letter.
'TO MRS. ELFORD,
'The bitterness of unjust reproach, the invectives of an ungoverned
tongue, the rancorous accusations of a stubborn heart, these, wretched
as they long have made me, to me are now no more. Forgetful man! No
more? You I can forsake; but where shall I fly to rid myself of them?
You have riveted them upon me, and while I have life they can never
die. With you I have travelled through the vale of tears: you, like
misery personified, have held the cup of sorrow; have fed me with
affliction, strewed thorns beneath my feet by day, and wound adders
round my pillow by night. Absence itself cannot afford a cure. Yes,
reconcile it to your conscience how you may, you have given my peace a
'You cannot forget, when I first thought of you for a wife, the
plainness and sincerity with which I acted. I carefully stated that
my family was reputable but not rich, and that I was a younger
brother; that my wealth was not great; but that it was sufficient,
with industry and the character I had established, to gratify the
desires of people whose hearts were not vitiated, and whose wants
were bounded. I conscientiously repeated my ideas concerning the
regulations and economy of a well governed family; and of the parts
which it became the husband and the wife to take. That was the time
in which you ought to have made your objections: but then every thing
was just, every thing was rational; and from your ready acquiescence
to my proposals and the admiration with which you seemed to receive
them, I had no doubt of enjoying that serene that delightful state of
connubial happiness, so often desired and so seldom obtained.
'On such conditions and with such views, I confidently entered with
you into a partnership which unhappily cannot be dissolved. The
irrevocable contract was scarcely ratified before it was violated.
With a temper habitually gloomy and suspicious, and a mind incapable
of bending to those inevitable little anxieties and vexations which
occur in the most quiet families, you soon discovered your propensity
to repel every thing that your jealous and fanciful temper deemed an
infringement of your privileges.
'Let your own heart testify how long and how ardently I endeavoured,
by mildness and the most simple and convincing reasons, to bring you
back to your duty. But in vain: causes of disagreement became so
frequent, and injury succeeded injury so fast, that I was obliged to
proceed to those gentle severities which are all that a husband, who
preserves a proper respect for himself, can inflict. And gentle they
certainly were, when compared to the contumely by which they were
provoked. I forbore those tender and endearing epithets, by which
former affection should be continually revived. I then avoided and
indeed refused to converse with you, except in the company of a third
person or as far as necessity obliged me. Sorry am I to say that,
instead of warning you to shun the rocks of mischief, my efforts did
but aggravate your folly.
'It is true you had your hours of contrition, in which, with tears
and prayers and unbounded acknowledgments of the absurdity of your
conduct, together with solemn assurances of reformation, you have for
a moment recalled my lost love, and made me hope you would acquire
some power over the discordant passions that devoured you. But these
promises were so often repeated, and so continually forgotten, that at
length they afforded neither hope nor ease: they had only been gleams
of sunshine, foreboding that the tempest would soon return with
increasing violence. Yes, partial as I know you, and blind to your own
errors, you cannot deny that at last you approached the fury, rather
than the woman.
'To a man like me, of a delicate temper, quick at discovering errors
and eager to redress them, even in cases where they do not personally
affect myself but indefatigable where they do, this eternal discord,
these quarrels and despicable brawls are become insupportable. I have
endured the torture seven miserable years, and surely that is no
slight trial: surely that is sufficient to prove I have not wanted
patience or fortitude. To be a good husband and a provident father,
and to protect those that depend on me from injury and want, are
qualities which I believe the whole world will allow me, you alone
excepted. _You_ upbraid me with faults; _you_ accuse me of crimes;
_you_ proclaim me a tyrant. When I am gone, when your passions have
subsided, and when you feel the want of me, you will be more just. You
will then lament that nothing, short of this desperate proof, could
convince you of the criminality of your conduct.
'Where I shall seek, where find, or where endure existence, or to what
hospitable or inhospitable shore I shall wander, I know not yet: I
only know that in England it cannot, shall not be. We have lived long
enough in misery; which, everlastingly to avoid, seas or death shall
everlastingly divide us.
This letter, although it contained many marks of that impatience which
had increased his family misfortunes, could only have been written by
a man of virtue, whose very austerity had in it a preponderance of
benevolent intention. Such was my uncle; whose memory, though but a
child, I often had occasion to regret.
By various plausible pretexts, with the hope of forwarding a fortune
that was to descend to me, Mr. Elford had been prevailed on to lend
my father several sums of money, to the amount of seven hundred
pounds. My uncle too had found other occasions for the exercise of
his humanity. His property had been hastily sold, and therefore
disadvantageously, so that the sum with which he went to seek his
fortune on foreign shores was but small. He was enough acquainted with
my father's affairs to know that of the money lent to him there was
To me he wrote a letter which will sufficiently shew how kind he would
have been, had he possessed the power. It was inclosed in one to my
father, with directions to suffer me to read it now, and that it
should be preserved and given to me when age should have matured my
understanding. The following were its contents.
'TO HUGH TREVOR.
'My dear boy: young as you are, I have conceived a friendship and
affection for you, which perhaps inflict as severe a pang, at the
present moment, as any one of the distressing circumstances that
occasion my flight. Had I wealth to leave, I would endeavour to secure
you from the baneful effects of poverty; as it is, accept all that
I have to give, my best wishes, my dearest love, and a little good
advice. Though your understanding is greatly above your years, yet
you cannot have experience and knowledge enough of sorrow to conceive
what my feelings are: but if hereafter you should remember me, and
if at that most serious moment when you enter on the marriage state
you should wish for a friend like me to advise with, let this letter
supply my place. The miseries I have endured, by my mistakes on the
subject, are so strongly imprinted on my mind, that I can think
of nothing else; and, inapplicable as it may seem to your present
course of thought, I cannot persuade myself but that it is the most
interesting of all topics, upon which I could write to you.
'Of the wisdom of entering into the marriage state, and of the virtue
of the institution, I have lately begun to entertain the most serious
doubts. Whether they are well founded, or are the consequences of my
own mistakes of conduct, I dare not at this moment determine: but,
while the present forms of society exist, should you arrive at manhood
the probability is that you will marry. If then you should ever think
of marriage, think of it as a duty; and not merely as the means of
self gratification, or the indulgence of some childish and irrational
passion, which irrational people dignify with the name of love. Let
the affection you conceive for woman be founded on the qualities of
'But above all things first examine yourself, whether you can endure
opposition without anger; and next put the woman you intend to
marry to the same test; for, unless you are mutually unshaken in
your resolutions on this head, if you marry you are miserable. The
task of man and wife is reciprocally arduous. She should be mild,
good-humoured, cheerful and tender; he cool, rational, and vigilant;
without acrimony, devoid of captiousness, and free from passion. It is
mutually their duty to inspect and to expostulate, but to beware how
they reprove. Where gentleness and equanimity of temper are wanting,
happiness never can be obtained. Believe me, my dear boy, I have never
stood so low in my own opinion as when I have caught myself betrayed
into petulance, and descending to passion. The combats I have
maintained to overcome this weakness are inconceivable.
'Whether it be constitutional in me or habitual I cannot
determine'--[Had Mr. Elford been more a philosopher, he would have
known that frequent anger is merely a habit.]--'but I suspect that
to this I chiefly owe my present misfortunes, as I am half persuaded
there is no woman that may not be moulded into what form her husband
pleases, provided he possess a superior understanding and an entire
command of his temper. But Oh! how severe the task to preserve a
perfect equality in despite of the ill humour, caprice, or injustice
of a woman for whom you undergo a thousand difficulties, encounter
continual labours, and undauntedly expose yourself to every fatigue
and danger!--I blush to think I have sunk beneath the trial.--But we
have both gone too far to recede: we have mutually said and done what
never can be forgotten.
'As good temper is the basis of connubial felicity, means must be
taken by which it may be cultivated and preserved. From the first hour
of marriage, beware of too much familiarity, and of encouraging or of
taking liberties. Be as circumspect in your behaviour as if a stranger
were present, and dread deviating from that respect which is due from
man to woman, and from woman to man, in a single state. This does not
imply coldness, or formality, but the cheerful intercourse of good
sense. Behave as you would to a person from whom you are happy to
receive a visit, and with whose company you are delighted. Should you
indulge those ebullitions of passionate fondness which lose sight of
these limits, it is impossible to foretell to what they may lead. A
caress neglected, or supposed to be neglected, a kiss not returned
with the like warmth, or a fond pressure not answered with equal
ardour, may poison a mind which applauds itself for the delicacy of
'Do not expect to find your wife all perfection. I know the romance
of lovers: they read descriptions in which the imagination has been
exhausted, to depict enamoured youth superior to every terrestrial
being; and they are convinced that, above all others, the object
of their own particular choice has never yet been equalled. Such
fanciful and silly people, when time and experience have something
allayed their ardour, will often find their dainty taste offended at
discovering a mole on the bosom, or a yellow shade in the neck, or any
other trifling bodily blemish, which was as visible before marriage as
after, had they looked with the same scrutinizing eyes. Be resolute in
repelling every emotion of anger or disgust. Never permit a choleric
or bitter expression to escape you; for wedded love is but too often
of a tender and perishable nature, and such rude potions are its
'I look back at what I have been writing, and am astonished at the
subject I have chosen. But the torrent of my thoughts is irresistible:
they hurry me away, and persuade me that though young, it is yet
possible you may hereafter remember me, and at a time when perhaps
you shall have arrived at the exercise of many of those noble virtues
which are now only in the bud. I have a great affection for you, my
dear nephew, and should be glad that, if you then cannot think kindly,
you should at least think justly; and that you should possess some
faint picture of the present state of my feelings. Could you but know
all the emotions of my heart, you would bear witness to its honesty;
and would own that its efforts have been strenuous, unremitted, and
sincere, though unfortunate.
'Years pass quickly away: yet a little while and you will be an actor
in this busy world, of which at present your knowledge is small. I am
doomed never to see you more; but, while I have life and memory, I
shall never forget you.
_My father becomes a bankrupt: Flies the country: Lists for an East
India soldier, and dies on ship-board: Distress of my mother; and the
beginning of my misfortunes: I am bound apprentice: Characteristic
traits of my master: The dreadful sufferings I undergo; and my narrow
escapes with life_
Young as I was, I perfectly remember that the strange departure of my
uncle Elford produced a very sensible effect upon me. It may well be
imagined that, when my understanding was more mature, the perusal of
this affectionate letter, and the recollection of his kindness to me
in my days of childhood, excited no little emotion.
As for my aunt, prepared as she had been for some violent catastrophe
to their quarrelling, she was either so struck by the letter and
the remembrance of past follies, or so fearful of the comments and
scrutiny of the neighbourhood, that within a month after he was
missing she quitted the country, and went to reside at the city of
****, where in less than a year she died. Her departure was private,
and the place of her retreat was not known till her last illness;
when intelligence was sent to the rector, to whom she bequeathed such
property as she possessed.
The absence of my uncle contributed to hasten the approach of that
cloudy reverse at which I have already hinted. For some time the
ruin of my father's affairs had been prevented by the sums which his
eloquence had wrung from the well-meaning Mr. Elford. Hugh was no
contemptible orator on these occasions. Hope seldom forsook him, and
he built so securely on what he hoped might come to pass as sometimes
to assert the thing had already happened. Such convenient mistakes are
daily made. If indeed the good graces of fortune would but have kept
pace with his expectations, England would not have afforded a more
flourishing or gallant yeoman. But, like monopolizers in general,
he was apt to speculate a little too deeply. Eager to enjoy, he was
impatient to obtain the means of enjoyment. So that, at one time,
the turning up of the jack at all fours was to make his fortune; but
how provoking! it happened to be the ten: at another it depended
on a duck-wing cock, which (who could have foreseen so strange an
accident?) disgraced the best feeder in the kingdom, by running away:
and it more than once did not want half a neck's length of being
realized by a favourite horse; yet was lost, contrary to the most
accurate calculations which, as the learned in these matters affirm,
had been made from Wheatherby's Racing Calendar.
Thus to repeated disappointments in his bets and his bargains, and to
his neglect of his farming affairs, it was owing that, in anno domini
---- when I was nine years and a half old, after having expended
the property with which he had been supplied, and incurred debts to
the amount of little less than a thousand pounds, my father found
it prudent to depart by night in the basket of the stage coach for
London. And prudent it certainly was, for his effects had not only
been seized in execution of a bond and judgment, but the bailiffs from
all quarters were at his heels.
My mother at this time was pregnant; the sister I have mentioned was
dead; but I had a fine healthy brother about three years old, and it
was agreed that we should follow to the great city, as soon as he had
found employment; which, according to his notions, was the most easy
It so happened, however, that he had not been there a full month
before the trifling sum he and my mother had collected for his
immediate existence was lost, by the turn of a die; contrary to his
certain conviction that he had discovered, at a hazard table, the
ready way to repair all past mistakes.
To send for wife and children was now out of the question. Destitute
of support, without the means of obtaining another shilling, after
fasting a day and a half, his courage, that is his appetite, could
hold out no longer, and he enlisted for an East-India soldier; having
first convinced himself, by the soundest arguments, that he should
immediately be made a serjeant; which perhaps was no improbable
calculation; that he should then soon get a commission, and that he
should undoubtedly return a commanding officer, or general in chief,
to the surprise of his friends and the utter confusion of the rector,
and all those whom he accounted his persecutors.
That these great events might not actually have happened who shall
pretend to say? Miracles of old were plentiful; and even in these
unbelieving days strange things have come to pass. But all his
unbounded hopes, many of which he had stated in his last letter to
my mother, were unexpectedly subverted, by an accident to which it
appears men in general are subject. He caught a fever, while the ship
in which he was to be a passenger lay waiting in the Downs for a wind;
and, in spite of the surgeon and his whole chest of medicines, died:
of all which events there was a circumstantial account, transmitted by
one of his comrades to my mother.
The ruin of prospects so fair, the desolation of a house and homeless
woman, with two orphan children, and pregnant of a third, and the
loss of a husband, who at the worst of times had always kept hope
alive, were sufficient causes of affliction to my mother. Tears were
plentifully shed, and daily and nightly wailings were indulged.
Every resource was soon exhausted, and immediate relief became
necessary. To whom could she apply? To whom, but the rector? She wrote
to him in terms the most moving, the most humiliating, and indeed
the most abject, that her imagination could suggest. But in vain: no
prayers, no tears, no terrors, of this world or of the next, could
move him. The father, and the divine, were equally inexorable. He
pleaded his oath, but he remembered his revenge. After the first
letter he would receive no more, and when she wrote again and again,
with the direction in a different hand, and using other little
stratagems, he returned no answer.
From this extreme distress, and from the intolerable disgrace, as my
mother supposed it to be, of coming on the parish, we were relieved,
to the best of her ability, by a poor widow woman with four children;
who had formerly lived a servant in the Trevor family, and who,
after her husband's death, maintained herself and her orphans with
incredible industry, and with no other aid but the produce of a cow,
that she fed chiefly on the common where her cottage stood. The active
good sense with which she did every thing that was entrusted to her,
was the cause that she never wanted employment; and she exerted her
utmost attention to make her children, as they grew up, as useful as
By this woman's advice and aid, my mother applied herself to spinning;
and it was agreed that I should either drive the plough or be put
apprentice, as soon as I could find a master.
For my own part, all my sources of pleasure and improvement were at
once retrenched. That I had not horses to ride, a father to play with
and caress me, and a kind uncle to instruct and delight me, were among
the least of my misfortunes. Reading, that great field of enjoyment,
which was daily opening more amply upon me, was totally cut off. My
curiosity had been awakened, my memory praised, and my acuteness
admired: in an instant, as it were, all these joys were vanished.
Previous to my uncle's departure, I had found another mode of
obtaining knowledge, and applause. He was musical, and a few persons
of the like turn, scattered through the neighbouring hamlets, used
occasionally to meet at his house; where they exercised themselves
in singing, from the works of Croft, Green, Boyce, Purcell, Handel,
and such authors as they possessed. One of them played the bassoon,
another the flute, and a third the violin, I had a quick ear, was
attracted by their harmony, and began to join in their concerts. A
treble voice was a great acquisition; I was apt and they encouraged
me, by frequent praise and admiration. My uncle gave me Arnold's
Psalmody, in which I eagerly studied the rudiments of the science: but
this book, with the rest, was swept away in the general wreck; and I,
after having had a glimpse of the enchanted land of knowledge, was
cast back, apparently to perish in the gloomy deserts of ignorance. I
had no source of information, except my mother; and her stores, at the
best, were scanty: at present, labour left her but little leisure, and
the little she had was spent in complaint.
The poor widow, indeed, willingly did me every kindness in her power;
but that alas was small. With this honest-hearted creature I remained
eight months, going out to a day's work whenever I could get one, to
weed, drive the plough, set potatoes, or any thing else that they
would put me to: till at last a farmer, finding me expert, agreed to
take me as an apprentice; on condition that I should serve him till I
was one and twenty. The offer was joyfully accepted by my mother, and
I had spirit and understanding enough to be happy that I could thus
provide for myself.
I had soon reason to repent; my master was the most passionate madman
I ever beheld; and, when in a passion, the most mischievous. His
cattle, his horses, his servants, his wife, his children, were each of
them in turn the objects of his fury.
The accidents that happened from his ungovernable choler were
continual, and his cruelty, when in these fits, was incredible; though
at other times, strange to tell, he was remarkably compassionate. He
one day beat out the eye of a calf, because it would not instantly
take the milk he offered. Another time he pursued a goose, that ran
away from him when he flung it oats; and was so enraged, by the
efforts it made to escape, that he first tore off its wing and then
twisted its neck round. On a third occasion he bit off a pig's ear,
because it struggled and cried while he was ringing it. One of his
children was lamed, and, though nobody knew how it happened, every
body gave him credit for the accident. Yet he had his paroxysms of
fondness for his children, and for the lame boy in particular. Indeed
it was generally remarked that he was the most cruel to those for whom
he had the greatest affection. The perception of his own absurdity
did but increase his rage, till it was exhausted; after which he has
sometimes been seen to burst into tears, at the recollection of his
own madness and inhumanity.
One habit arising from his excessive vivacity was that, when he wanted
any thing done, he expected the person nearest to him should not
only instantly obey, but conceive what he meant from the pointing of
his finger, the turn of his head, or the motion of his eye, without
speaking a word; while the dread of his anger stupified and rendered
the person against whom it was directed motionless.
I continued for an unexampled length of time to be his favourite. The
family remarked, at first with surprise, and afterward either with a
sense of injustice or of enmity, the restraint he put upon himself,
and the great partiality with which he treated me. My superior
quickness excited his admiration; he held me up as an example, and
laid the flattering unction to his soul that he was no tyrant; on the
contrary, when people had but common sense, nobody was more kind.
But old habits, though they may suffer a temporary disguise, are
devils incarnate. The tide of passion at length broke loose, and with
redoubled violence for having suffered constraint. To add to the
misfortune, my thirst after knowledge was the cause, or at least the
pretext, of this change. It happened that an old book of arithmetic
fell in my way, and, as this was at that time the sole treasure of
instruction within my reach, I made it my constant companion, carried
it in my bosom, and pored over it whenever I could steal a moment to
myself. In the heinous act of reading this book I was twice detected,
by my moody master. The first time he cautioned me, with fire in his
eyes, never to let him catch me idling my time in that manner again;
and the second he snatched hold of my ear and gave me so sudden and
violent a pull that he brought me to the ground. He did worse, he took
away my book, and locked it up.
Hostilities having thus commenced, they soon grew hot, and were
pursued with bitterness, tyranny, and malignity. Proceeding from bad
to worse, after a while every thing I did was wrong. In proportion as
his frenzy became hateful or rather terrible to his own imagination,
his cruelty increased. He seemed, in my instance, to have the dread
upon him of committing some injury so violent as perhaps to bring him
to the gallows; and several times in his chafing fits declared his
This idea haunted him so much that he adopted a new mode of conduct
with me, and, instead of kicking me, knocking me down, or hurling the
first thing that came to hand at me, gave himself time enough to take
the horsewhip. Yet he could not always be thus cautious; and even when
he was, such infernal discipline, though less dangerous, was more
The scenes I went through with this man, the sufferings I endured, and
the stupifying terrors that seized me if I saw but his shadow, I can
never forget. Every thing I did was a motive for chastisement; one
day it was for having turned the horses out to graze, and the very
next for suffering them to stand in the stable. The cattle of his
neighbour, for whom he had a mortal enmity, broke into his field
during the night; and for this I was most unmercifully flogged the
next morning. The pretence was my not having told him that the fence
was defective. Rainy weather made him fret, and then I was sure of a
beating. If it were fine, he was all hurry, anxiety, and impatience;
and to escape the wicked itching of his fingers was impossible.
One effect that he produced might be thought remarkable, had we not
the history of Sparta in its favour; and did we not occasionally
observe the like in other boys, under tyrannical treatment. The
efforts I was obliged to make, to endure the terrible punishment
he inflicted and live, at last rendered me, to a certain degree,
insensible of pain. They were powerfully aided indeed by the indignant
detestation which I felt, and by the something like defiance with
which it enabled me to treat him.
This on one occasion exasperated him so much that, seeing me support
the lash without a tear and as if disdaining complaint, he franticly
snatched up a pitch-fork, drove it at me, and, I luckily avoiding it,
struck the prongs into the barn-door; with the exclamation, 'Damn your
soul! I'll make you feel me!' The moment after he was seized with a
sense of his own lunacy, turned as pale as death, and stood aghast
with horror! My supposed crime was that I had eaten some milk, the
last of which I myself had seen the dog lap. Perceiving the terror of
his mind, I took courage and told him, 'Jowler eat the milk: I saw
him, just as he had done. I would not tell you, because I knew if I
had you would have hanged the poor dog.' This short sentence had such
an effect upon him that he dropped on his knees, the tears rolling
from his eyes, and cried out in an undescribable agony, 'Lord have
mercy upon my sinful soul! I shall surely come to be hanged!'
The terror of this lesson remained longer than those who knew him
would have expected; but it insensibly wore away.
The efforts I made in the interval to conciliate and avoid wakening
the fiend were strenuous, but ineffectual. I shrunk from no labour,
and the business with which he intrusted me shewed the confidence he
placed in my activity and intelligence. At eleven years old I drove
the loaded team, to market or elsewhere, without a superintendant. I
was sent in every direction across the country, to bring home sheep,
deliver calves to the butcher, fetch cattle, cart coals, or any thing
else within my strength.
Various were the distresses in which these duties, and the distempered
choler of my master, involved me. On one occasion a wicked boy set
his dog at my sheep, and drove them into a turnip field; out of which
I could not get them but with great difficulty and loss of time, of
which my master demanded a severe account. A calf once broke from me
and foolishly tumbled into a water-pit, from which I delivered it at
the hazard of my life. Another time, when the roads were heavy, my
waggon was set fast in a clay rut, where I was detained above an hour;
two drivers refusing to give me a pull because they had both lived
with my malicious master; and a third being only prevailed on, for
this master of mine was generally hated, by my prayers and tears and
the picture I drew of my own distress.
At length the violence of his temper recovered its full elasticity;
which was a second time chiefly excited by my earnest longing after
knowledge. Notwithstanding that my book was taken from me, my mind
was often occupied with the arithmetic I had learned in better days,
which had been strongly revived by its contents. At the employment
this afforded me I was twice caught by my master; once multiplying
and dividing with a nail against the paling, and the second time
extracting the square root with chalk on the wall.
These misdemeanours were aggravated by another incident. I one morning
happened to find, by good luck as I thought, a half-crown piece
that was lying on the high road. The moment I was possessed of this
treasure, I began to consider how it ought to be expended. I was in
great want of shoes, stockings, and other things; but with those my
master was bound to provide me; and, if I attempted to supply myself,
the probability was that he would beat me, for not having given him
After pondering again and again on the necessaries I might obtain,
the luxuries in which I might indulge, and, what was infinitely more
tempting, the stores of learning with which such a sum would furnish
me, the recollection of my mother, brother, and sister, for so
the young one proved to be, and their distress, with that of the
benevolent poor creature who afforded them a shelter, seized me so
strongly that I thought it would be wicked not to send my half-crown
where it was so much wanted. But how to convey it thither? That was
the difficulty. I had no means, no messenger, no soul in whom I durst
confide. I therefore resolved for the present to conceal it by pinning
it in the lining of my waistcoat; and this was one of those unforeseen
events that are generally called lucky chances.
My master's devil was again let loose, and a most uncontrolable devil
he was. I had overslept myself, a very uncommon accident with me,
and had put him into one of his hateful humours. At breakfast, while
eating his bread and cheese, I was set to watch the milk that stood on
the fire to boil. By some accident I forgot my office; he saw it rise
in the pipkin, looked toward me, could not catch my eye, and, seized
with one of his unaccountably hellish fits, sprang forward just as the
milk began to boil over, and struck at me with a clasped knife that he
held in his hand!
Fortunately for me, the point found resistance, by the saving
intervention of my half-crown! The clasp gave way with the violence of
the blow, and shutting made a deep gash in his own hand.
Again he turned pale, and, as the blood smeared the floor, knew not I
believe whether it was mine or his own. My dame trembling called out,
'Are you hurt, Hugh?' for she too saw the blood, and knew not whose it
was. I answered, 'No:' but with a tremulous voice, being in dread of
more blows. They soon descended upon me, after he had discovered his
mistake, and it was with difficulty that I escaped being thrown behind
This was not the end of the history of my half-crown. I kept it above
three months till I happened to be sent to the market town, with a
load of hay. Here, in passing through the street, my eye as usual was
attracted by the bookseller's window. I had not forgotten how rich
I was, and could not resist. I went in, examined some of the stores
the shop contained, and with great difficulty restrained myself to
the purchase of the Seven Champions of Christendom, which cost me a
shilling. The other eighteen pence I found an opportunity, it being
market day, of sending by a neighbour to my mother; with an injunction
that six-pence of it should be given to her poor hostess.
With what eagerness I read the valiant deeds of these valiant knights,
as I rode home in my empty cart, I will leave the reader to divine:
but he will probably pity me when I inform him that I was so deeply
engaged in my book as not to perceive the arrival of the cart at
my master's yard gate, and that he himself stood at the barn door,
contemplating me in the profound negligence of my studies.
Riding in the cart, neglecting the team, having a new book, and
reading in it, formed a catalogue of crimes too black to hope for
pardon. Not the horse but the cart whip was the instrument of
vengeance; and, after having tired himself and left weals of a
finger's breadth on my body, arms, legs, and thighs, he completed his
malice this time, not by locking up but by burning my book. I had
already lived a year and a half under the tortures of this demon, till
they became so intolerable that at last I determined to run away. I
was confirmed in this resolution by another dangerous incident, which
terrified me more even than any of the preceding, and convinced me
that if I stayed any longer with this villainous savage I could not
I was one day driving the plough for him when a young horse, not half
broken in, was the second in the team. I used my utmost endeavours but
could not manage him, and the lunatic my master, who was as strong as
he was ferocious, caught up a stone and aimed it at the colt (at least
so from his manner at the moment I supposed) but struck me with it,
and knocked me down immediately in the furrow, where the plough was
coming. I saw the plough-share that in an instant was to cut me in
two; but the madman, with an incredible effort, started it out of
the earth and flung it fairly over me! Unable however to recover his
balance, he trod upon my forehead with his hob-nailed shoe, and cut a
deep gash just over my eye, and another in my skull: whether with the
same foot or in what manner I do not know. My eye was presently closed
up, and my hair steeped in the blood that flowed plentifully from both
There I lay, stunned for a moment, while he was obliged to attend to
the frightened colt, which forced the other horses to run, and was
become wholly unmanageable. When I recovered I heard him holloa, and
saw him struggling with the horses at the farther end of the field;
but the impression of the danger I had just escaped was so strong that
my resolution of running away came upon me with irresistible force,
and, perceiving him so thoroughly engaged, I immediately put it in
I imagine it was some time before he missed me, and he then probably
conjectured I was gone home. Be it as it will, I used my legs without
molestation; and, committing myself to chance and the wide world, made
the best of my way.
_My flight: Desponding thoughts: Adventure with a stranger on the
road: I am promised relief, but learn a fearful secret that again
plunges me in doubt and anxiety: I reveal myself to a near relation:
The struggles of passion_
The animation that fear gave me was so great that, though I felt my
shirt collar drenched in the blood that flowed from my wounds, I
continued to run for at least four miles; and though my pace at length
slackened into a walk I still hurried eagerly forward. The dread of
again falling into his power, after an attempt so audacious as this,
deprived me of any other sense of pain, afforded me strength, and made
me forget the completely desolate state to which I had reduced myself.
I had no money, no food, no friend in the world. I durst not return to
my mother; she was the first person of whom the tyrant would enquire
after me. To avoid him was the only plan I yet thought of, and thus
impelled I pursued my road.
So long as I was acquainted with the country through which I
travelled, I went on without hesitation; but as soon as I found
myself entirely beyond my knowledge, I began to look about me. The
questions--Where am I? Whither am I going? What am I to do?--inspired
a succession of rising fears, which the joy of my deliverance could
scarcely counterbalance. I regretted the rash haste with which I
had parted with my half-crown. I had not a farthing on earth, I had
nothing to sell, nothing to eat, no soul to give me a morsel. It was
noon, when I fled from the ploughed field; I had been hard at work
from three o'clock in the morning, had since travelled at least
twelve or fourteen miles, wounded as I was, and began to feel myself
excessively weary, stiff, and craving after food. Where I had got the
notion, whether from father, mother, aunt, or uncle, I know not, but
I had been taught that to beg was an indelible disgrace; and to steal
every body had told me was the road to Tyburn. Starve or hang; that is
the law. If I even asked for work, who wanted my service? Who would
give me any? Who would not enquire where I came from, and to whom I
These and many more tormenting ideas were forced upon me by the
situation in which I found myself; till at last I was so overcome with
fears and fatigue that I sat down to debate whether it were not best,
or rather whether I should not be absolutely forced, to turn back.
Still, however, when I came to reflect on the sufferings I had
endured, the dangers I had escaped, and the horrible punishment that
awaited me if I returned, any expedient seemed better than that
terrific project. The distance too, exhausted as I thought myself, was
an additional fear, and for a moment I doubted whether I should not
lie down and die.
Young minds hold death in peculiar horror, and the very thought
inspired returning energy. Among my cogitations I had not forgotten
the rector: he was obdurate, hard hearted, and even cruel. But was
he so cruel as the fiend from whom I had escaped? From a latent and
undefined kind of feeling, I had made toward that side of the country
where his village lay; and was, as I supposed, within four or five
miles of it. The resolution of making an effort to gain his protection
came upon me, and I rose with some alacrity to put it in practice. He
kept horses, a coachman, and a stable-boy; he had a garden; he farmed
a little, for his amusement. In any of these capacities I could be
useful, and, if he would but give me bread, I would do whatever he
would put me to. He could not surely be so stony hearted as to refuse.
I was inexperienced, and knew not the force of rancour.
I pursued my way ruminating on these hopes, fears, and disasters,
toward a village that I saw at a distance, where I intended to inquire
the road I meant to take. Descending a hill I came to a bridge, over a
rivulet of some depth, with a carriage way through the water.
Just as I had passed it, I met a post-chariot that drove into the
stream. I was walking forward with my face toward the village, till
I suddenly heard a cry of distress, and looking behind me saw the
carriage overturned in the water. I ran with all speed back to the
brook: the body of the carriage was almost covered, the horses were
both down, and the postillion, entangled between them, called aloud
for help! or his master would be drowned. I plunged into the water
without fear, having, as I have elsewhere noticed, long ago learned to
swim. Perceiving the extreme danger of the person in the carriage, I
struck directly toward the door, which I opened and relieved him, or
confined as he was he must have been almost instantly suffocated. His
terror was exceedingly great, and as soon as he was fairly on his
feet, he exclaimed with prodigious eagerness, 'God for ever bless
you, my good boy; you have saved my life!'--The pallidness of his
countenance expressed very strongly the danger of perishing in which
he had felt himself.
We then both waded out of the water, he sat down on the side of the
bridge, and I called to some men in a neighbouring field to come
and help the postillion. I then returned to the gentleman, who was
shivering as if in an ague fit. I asked if I should run and get him
help, for he seemed very ill? 'You are a compassionate brave little
fellow,' said he; and, looking more earnestly at me, exclaimed, 'I
hope you are not hurt; how came you so bloody?' I knew not what to
say, and returned no answer. 'You do not speak, child?' said he. 'Let
me go and get you some help, Sir,' replied I--'Nay, nay, but are you
hurt?'--'Not more than I was before this accident'--'Where do you come
from?'--I was silent--'Who are you?'--'A poor friendless boy'--'Have
you not a father?'--'No'--'A mother?'--'Yes: but she is forsaken by
her father, and cannot get bread for herself?'--'How came you in this
condition?'--'My master knocked me down and trod on me'--'Knocked you
down and trod on you?'--'Yes: he was very cruel to me'--'Cruel indeed!
Did he often treat you ill?'--'I do not know what other poor boys
suffer, but he was so passionate that I was never safe.'--'And you
have run away from him?'--'I was afraid he would murder me'--'Poor
creature! Your eye is black, your forehead cut, and your hair quite
clotted with blood'--'I have a bad gash in my head; but I can bear
it. You shake worse and worse; let me go and get you some help; the
village is not far off.'--'I feel I am not well'--'Shall I call one of
the men?'--'Do, my good fellow.'
I ran, and the men came; they had set the carriage on its wheels, but
it was entirely wet, and not fit to ride in. The gentleman therefore
leaned on one of them, walked slowly back to the village, and desired
me to follow. I gladly obeyed the order. He had pitied me, I had saved
his life; if I could not make a friend I was in danger of starving,
and I began to hope that I had now found one.
The best accommodations that the only inn in the village afforded were
quickly procured. At first the gentleman ordered a post-chaise, to
return home; but he soon felt himself so ill that he desired a bed
might be got ready, and in the mean time sent to the nearest medical
man, both for himself and to examine my wounds. What was still better,
he ordered the people of the house to give me whatever I chose to eat
and drink, and told them he had certainly been a dead man at that
moment, if it had not been for me. But he would not forget me; he
would take care of me as long as he lived.
This was joyful news indeed; or rather something much more exquisite
than joyful. My heart melted when I heard him; I burst into tears, and
replied, 'I would willingly die to serve him.' He then went to bed,
and as evening came on the fever with which he was attacked increased.
The anxiety I felt was excessive, and I was so earnest in my
intreaties to sit and watch by him, that he was prevailed on to grant
my request. From what I can now recollect, I imagine the apothecary
gave him the common remedy, Dr. James's powders. When the medicine no
longer operated he fell into a sound sleep, about eleven o'clock, and
when he awoke the next morning found himself much refreshed and free
In the interim my wounds had been dressed, and to make the truth of
my story evident, I took care to shew the bruises, and black and blue
marks, with which my body was plentifully covered. Every favourable
circumstance, every precaution, every effort was now indeed become
necessary; for, late in the evening, I accidentally learned a secret
of the most important and hope-inspiring, yet alarming nature. My all
was at stake, my very existence seemed to depend on the person who it
is true had promised to be my protector, but who, perhaps, when he
should hear who I was, might again become my persecutor. The man to
whom I had attached myself, whose life I had saved, and who had avowed
a sense of the obligation, was no other than my grandfather!
The moment I heard this terrific intelligence, it chilled and animated
me alternately; and, as soon as I could recollect myself, I determined
not to quit his apartment all night. No persuasions could prevail
on me; and when the chambermaid, who sat up with him, attempted to
use force, I was so violent in my resistance that she desisted, and
suffered me to remain in quiet.
When he awoke in the morning I trembled at the sound of his voice. I
remembered the oath he had sworn, which my mother had often affirmed
he would never break. He was totally changed, in my idea, from the
gentleman whose life I had saved the day before. There had not indeed
been any thing particularly winning in his aspect; but then there was
a strong sense of danger, and of obligation to the instrument of his
escape, who interested him something the more by being unfortunate.
But an oath, solemnly taken by a man of so sacred a character? The
thought was dreadful!
His curtains were drawn, and my trepidation increased. 'What, my good
boy,' said he, 'are you up and here already?' 'He has never been in
bed,' answered the chambermaid. 'We could not get him out of the
room.' I replied in a faint voice, such as my fears inspired, 'I hoped
he was better.' 'Yes, yes,' said he, 'I have had a good sleep, and
feel as if I wanted my breakfast; go, my girl, and let it be got
The chambermaid obeyed his orders, and he continued--'Why did not you
go to bed, child?'--'It did not become me to leave you'--'How so?' 'I
hope I know my duty better'--'Your duty!'--'Yes, Sir'--'You seem to be
an extraordinary boy; you act with great spirit, and talk with more
good sense than I should expect from your poverty and education'--'So
I ought to do, Sir; though I am desolate, I have been brought up
better than most poor boys'--'Ay indeed!'
The apothecary entered, and, after having paid all necessary attention
to his patient, informed him of the state in which he had found me;
talked of my wounds and bruises, and the cruelty of the man that could
inflict them; repeated several of the anecdotes of his tyranny, which
I had told him, and concluded with remarks on my good fortune, in
having found so kind a protector.
'The boy has saved my life,' said my grandfather, 'and he shall not
want a friend.' 'Are you quite sure of that, Sir?' answered I, with
emphatical anxiety. 'Never, while I live,' replied the rector. 'Nay,
but are you quite quite positive?' 'Do you doubt my word, boy?'--'That
is very wrong of you indeed, child,' said the apothecary.--A thought
suddenly struck me. If he would but take an oath, said I to myself?
The oath, the oath! that was what I dreaded! An opposite oath seemed
to be my only safe-guard. I continued--'I swear, Sir, while I have
life never to forsake you, but to be dutiful and true to you'--'Swear
boy?'--'Yes, Sir, most solemnly.'--I spoke with great fervor--'You are
an unaccountable boy'--'Oh that _you_ would never forsake _me_'--'I
tell you I will not'--'Oh that you never would!'--'Won't you believe
me?'--'Oh that you never never would!'--'The boy I believe wants me to
swear too'--'Ay; do, Sir; take an oath not to disown me; and indeed
indeed I'll die willingly to deserve your favour'--'Disown you'--'Nay,
Sir, but take an oath. You say I saved your life; I would lay down
my own again and again to save it. Do not deny me, do not turn me to
starve, or send me back to be murdered by my barbarous master'--'I
tell you I will not'--'Nay but'--'Well then I swear, boy, I will
not'--'Do you indeed duly and truly swear?'--'Solemnly, boy! I take
heaven to witness that, if you are not guilty of something very
wicked, while I live I will provide for you.'--I fell on my knees,
caught hold of his hand, burst into tears, and exclaimed with
sobs--'God in heaven bless my dear dear good grandfather! He has
forgiven me! He has forgiven me!' 'Grandfather?' 'I am Hugh Trevor.'
Never did I behold so sudden a change in the human countenance! The
rector's eyes glared at me! There was something ghastly in the sunken
form of his features! My shirt was still red, and my coat spotted with
blood; the hair had been cut away from the wound on my head, which was
covered with a large plaister. My eye was black, and swelled up, and
my forehead too was plaistered above the eye-brow. My body he had been
told was covered with bruises, tears bathed my cheeks, and my face was
agitated with something like convulsive emotions. This strange figure
was suddenly changed into his grandson! It was an apparition he knew
not how to endure. To be claimed by such a wretched creature, to
have been himself the author of his wretchedness, to have had an
oath extorted from him, in direct violation of an opposite oath,
to feel this universal shock to his pride and his prejudices was a
complication of jarring sensations that confounded him. To resist was