Part 11 out of 12
borough: for he had made me his own member, and meant to profit by me
in all possible ways. He had discovered my electioneering talents. I
was very engaging among the women: a matter of no small moment in such
affairs: and 'though I was rather shy of my glass, yet I could sing
an excellent song, which I could likewise make, quite suitable to the
occasion.' He therefore proposed that we should both journey into my
native county, and there exercise all our wit and ingenuity, to aid in
bringing in my old school-fellow, Hector.
It cannot be supposed that, in an affair where the family and the
brother of Olivia were so seriously implicated, I could be totally
unconcerned. With respect to the question of who was the most
virtuous, or the most wise, who the greatest orator, the best patriot,
or the properest person to take a seat among the grand national
council of sages, the Earl or the 'Squire, that was not easily
determined. It was a point therefore that did not disquiet my
conscience. My compliance was consequently given with a hearty good
will; and we both prepared for the holy work.
How it happened that the vice which inevitably attaches itself to such
conduct, self-evident, gross, and glaring as it is, fatal to private
morals and public virtue, odious in its practice and hellish in its
consequences, how the baneful complexion of this monster vice should
at first so totally escape me is more than I can declare. Hurry of
thought, confusion of intellect, and eagerness of passion are the only
probable conjectures I can make. My mind was so intent on the manner
in which I could best prove my respect for Olivia, and all that
related to her, that this appears to have been a gulph vast enough for
all recollection, sense, and idea!
A post-chaise and four soon brought us to the field of battle; and
then I own my blood began to circulate, and my feelings to awaken.
Still it was but gradually that my spirits mounted to the proper tone.
Before we entered the place where the election was to be held, we
heard the jangling of bells and the shouts of men. The postillions
spared neither whip nor spur; and, as we galloped furiously along the
streets, the people came swarming out: the women and children saluting
us with their shrill trebles; and, it being dark, the men crowding to
follow with torches and more sonorous hubbub. Every inn was a scene
of confusion. When we drove up to that which was the head-quarters of
Hector, his partisans immediately flocked round us, and, a courier
having previously announced our arrival, saluted Sir Barnard with
all the force of lungs they could heave: elated in proportion to the
uproar they made.
The 'Squire and his friends, vociferous though they were, and heated
with anticipated triumphs, wine and wassail, heard the glorious din,
learned its cause, and came reeling forth to embrace their puissant
ally. Quitting as they did the fumes of buttocks and sirloins, gammons
and hams, turkies and geese, wines, brandies, beers and tobacco, they
all came reeking; each involved in his own atmosphere.
Their joy was boisterous, and not to be repulsed. Hector was as drunk
as the animal that brought the royal David his sucking pigs; and as
loving as the monster in the Tempest. He could not indeed curse so
poetically: but what he wanted in variety he supplied by repetition;
and his oaths and his raptures were countless.
He bestowed a part of them upon me; for, not only did feasting make
him fond, but, he had just memory enough left to recollect that I was
now become an M.P. and he was not quite sure whether, till he had
gained his election, I might not at present be almost as great a man
as himself. I was moreover his electioneering friend: which virtue
would, for a fortnight to come, be inestimable.
I had been disgusted with the eating and drinking required at the
ready-bought borough of ****: but that was abstinence itself, compared
to the scene in which I had consented to become an actor. Away the
Baronet and I were dragged, by the most jovial crew: Hector our
leader, and seating himself in state at our head.
'Clean glasses!' bellowed the hero; and, seizing his own, smashed it
against the wall: commanding us to follow his noble example. Midway
drunkenness disdains to think: all arms were raised, and destruction
was impending. Fortunately, there were two sober men in company; and,
seeing what had happened, we both loudly called--'Forbear!' 'You
have cut one of the waiters,' added I; addressing myself to Hector,
and pointing to a man whose face was smeared with blood. 'Damn him!'
retorted the brave Hector. 'Put him down in the bill.' The mighty man
was pleased at his own second-hand wit; and, as an old joke is the
soonest understood, they all joined in the laugh.
Eager to make the new comers welcome, that is as drunk as himself,
Hector insisted that the Baronet and I should drink three bumpers
each; and, as the fatigue of travelling had rendered this no difficult
task, we complied.
He then swore we would _set to_ for the night; but I perceived that
his night would not be a long one. Toasts were called for, however,
and liquor was swallowed, till its vapours half deprived the redoubted
Hector of the faculty of speech. At this period, he began to mutter
nonsense, on a subject on which I should have been better pleased with
his silence than his praise. He made the lovely Olivia his theme;
and in the fulness, not of his heart, but, of his stomach, told me
how dearly she loved me--'Yes, my boy, she does, by G----! And she's
right! Damn me, she's right! I say it; by G----, my boy, she's right!
You are my friend!--You are my friend, and she's right. And as for
Lord kiss ---- damn me, he's a sneaking scoundrel! I say it, a
sneaking ----! So she's right! Damn me, she's right!'
He continued to repeat his oaths, and 'She's right,' till, entirely
overpowered, he sunk; and would have dropped from his chair, if the
waiter whom he had cut with the glass had not caught him. Some of the
guests had withdrawn, some were sleeping, and some were senseless:
but the few who could open their eyes, and see to such a distance,
triumphed in the defeat of their leader: which they considered as
victory to themselves.
Riot now paused per force. The Baronet pleaded fatigue, and retired.
I followed his example, and once more found myself alone; left to
ruminate on the methods which men take to make each other happy; on
their different modes of happiness, in their different stations: and
on waiters who, being maimed or killed, are to be charged in the bill.
Though these thoughts were not of the most delightful kind, they did
not prevent me from sleeping. The new day brought new cares; and
presented projects, in which I was required to take my part, that led
me to very serious meditations indeed. The poll was to begin that day
week; and Hector and his friends, roused from the torpor of overloaded
revelry by the importance of the business, assembled to consider how
they should best collect and marshal the voters of whom they supposed
themselves to be certain, and cajole and bring over such as they
imagined might be gained.
Of this labour each man was to take his allotted share; and direct
bribery was openly proposed as the general medium by which the great
end in question was to be promoted.
This was what I had not foreseen. I was not only young but, as I have
before remarked, I had thought but little on the affair: except as
it continually presented the image of Olivia to my mind. I now found
myself most painfully situated. I had discovered principles of human
conduct in which I had gloried. I had asserted them unsparingly; and
had promised myself that from them I would never depart. In doubtful
cases, I might decide and act erroneously: but, when the way was
clear, my conduct should be the same.
These principles I was required to abandon; and the shock was severe.
The transactions which had lately passed in the Baronet's borough
increased the difficulty. In what light could the presents that I had
made be considered? In what were they different from and how much
better than bribes? To these I had submitted when my own interest was
in question. Again: for what purpose had I consented to accompany Sir
Barnard, if not to exert myself in favour of his friend? And not only
his friend but the brother of Olivia; though this was a silent grief,
known only to myself. However I stated my scruples: which, as soon as
they were heard, were the subject of laughter. I repeated them in a
still more serious tone, and was reminded of the facts, and motives
which I have just been mentioning.
The struggle was violent. The arguments I had to urge were something
like insults, on every body present that heard me; and I was answered
sometimes with ridicule, at others with anger, and not unfrequently
with something very like contempt.
The Baronet in particular augured very unfavourably, concerning the
subserviency which he expected from me; and once or twice spoke in a
very dictatorial tone: but, finding himself answered with no little
indignation, he had no remedy but to chew the cud in silence.
Assailed on all sides, as it happened I had the good sense, in despite
of every mockery and insinuation, to remain firm; and the only part I
could be prevailed upon to take determinately was that of aiding in
a fair and open canvas, leaving those who were less conscientious to
distribute bribes. As it was imagined however that I possessed some
abilities, my services were accepted on my own conditions.
Meanwhile the waste that was committed, the bribes that were paid, and
the money that was squandered in every way, as well in London, where
voters were eagerly purchased and sent down by coach loads, as in
distant parts of the county and kingdom, convinced me that the sums
which this election would cost must be enormous. I even thought it my
duty to take an opportunity, in one of Hector's half sober moments,
to remonstrate with all the arguments and energy I could collect; and
endeavoured to persuade him to decline the poll. But my efforts were
useless. He was equally vain of his wealth and his influence. His
purse perhaps was as deep as that of the proud peer; his friends as
numerous; and he would carry his election though he were to mortgage
every foot of land he possessed.
Finding him resolved, I became anxious in his behalf, strained every
nerve, rode in all directions night and day, and so effectually
exerted myself in enquiring who were the independent men likely to be
influenced by honest motives, that I procured him above fifty votes.
With respect to himself, the continual drinking, vociferating, and
riot of the scene had made him so hoarse that, previous to the day of
election, his husky whispers were not audible.
The evening before the poll opened, an incident occurred for which,
at that time, I knew not how to account. It was no less amazing than
incomprehensible. I had returned very much fatigued, after hard
riding, and found a message had been left for me by Sir Barnard; who
desired to speak with me immediately.
I obeyed the summons, and found him alone. He opened the conversation
in a strange blustering tone: complaining of having been neglected,
or insulted; he did not seem to know which; and, to my astonishment,
declared his satisfaction at the scruples which I had professed. He
knew not what to say to such corrupt proceedings. Perhaps an honest
man ought to have no concern in them; and, for his own part, he
certainly should trouble himself no farther on the present occasion.
He had met with but little thanks for what he had already done; and he
had come to a resolution not to bring up his voters.
Acquainted with the corrupt arts by which the promises of these
voters, generally speaking, had been gained, I knew not what to reply:
though I felt no little chagrin. With the aid of Sir Barnard, it was
supposed that Mowbray's election would certainly have been carried:
but without that aid I was persuaded it would as certainly be lost.
This opinion I forcibly repeated: adding that, though elections like
these were destructive beyond description to the general happiness,
and though I could not defend having taken any part whatever in one of
them, yet the mischief in the present instance had already been done.
If Sir Barnard had received any insult, or even suffered any neglect,
I intreated that he would permit me to be the mediator, and state his
griefs: being persuaded, from all I had seen, that nothing injurious
to his person or his interest had been intended.
His answers were evasive. He acted as men frequently do, who have some
secret purpose which they dare not avow: he affected that waspish
irritation of temper to which he was subject on many occasions; but on
none so frequently as when he suspected himself to be wrong.
While we were in the heat of this discourse, a chaise and four drove
up to the door. It was for the Baronet. His trunk and mine were both
prepared, by his orders. The men were buckling the former behind the
carriage; and he requested me to accompany him to town.
I was thunderstruck! I could neither account for such sullen
intemperance nor the secrecy of this haste. I again urgently intreated
I might acquaint Mr. Mowbray, and his committee: but he peremptorily
refused, and repeated his desire that I would accompany him
immediately. No arguments, no prayers, could move him: so that, at
last, I hastily left the room, in search of Hector and his friends.
He guessed my intention, and as soon as I was gone stepped into the
chaise and ordered the boys to drive away full speed: leaving me
behind to act as I should think proper; but with a message that, if I
wished to oblige him, I must mount my horse and ride after him with
all expedition. I might overtake him at the next inn; and our servants
and horses would then follow at leisure.
It was some time before I could find Mowbray, or any of his party.
They were at another inn, promoting the good cause; and, when I
informed them of the intentions of Sir Barnard, they scarcely could
believe me: but, when they heard the chaise was at the door, they
hurried with me; full of anxiety and dismay. We were too late. Sir
Barnard was gone: long out of hearing, and out of sight.
The consternation was extreme. Stupefied as his faculties were, for a
moment Hector was roused. Conjectures were formed, but none presented
themselves that could account for such extraordinary conduct. No one
knew of any offence that had been given the Baronet. It was remarked
indeed, on recollection, that the last day or two he had not testified
the same alacrity and zeal: but no man could guess his motive.
At length the indignation of Hector took vent in a volley of curses,
which were plentifully and emphatically bestowed. And so keenly was
the stroke felt, that he put a very unusual quantity, small though
it was, of variety in his oaths. Not only the body and blood of Sir
Barnard, but his liver, eyes, and heart, were consigned over to Satan.
Even I, though I had procured votes distinct from the interest of
the Baronet, and had refused to follow him to town, in which refusal
I persisted, still I did not escape suspicion. No direct allegation
was made: but the questions that were put to me were sufficiently
expressive of doubt.
The irritated mind is apt at error; and I disdained to make a personal
application of the guilt by which I knew myself uncontaminated.
_The opening of the poll: My first essay at public oratory: The
general feelings of men in favour of virtue, though contradicted by
their practice: The hateful spectacle of a corrupt election, and more
cause of complaint against the Baronet: A false accusation resented_
Passion dispels passion, and care combats care. Sir Barnard was gone,
diligence was the more necessary, and preparations for the approaching
day would not admit of neglect. It may well be said that circumstances
and situation make the man. Hector, who had no habitual capacity for
business or intellect for order, was inspired by the occasion with a
degree of talent of which at other times he was incapable. The fatigue
he underwent was excessive; and, impossible as it was that he should
create any strong sympathy, I still felt some interest in his behalf;
and some alarm at the fixed hoarseness by which his lungs were
threatened, and the alteration which incessant drinking and unusual
efforts had produced in his appearance.
The night was passed with more than ordinary tumult. It was late
before the riotous guests departed; and our rest was short. The day of
beginning contest soon broke upon us, the word of command was given
to muster, and all was in action. The friends of the opposing parties
collected, each round their respective leaders: favours for the hat
and bosom were lavishly distributed: the flags were flying: a band
of music preceded each of the processions: and, when the parties
approached the hustings, each band continued to play its own favourite
air with increasing violence: as if war were to be declared by the
most jarring discord, and harmony driven from the haunts of men.
The grating sounds were increased by balladsingers, marrow-bones and
cleavers, and the vociferous throats of men who seemed to imagine
that, if they were but sufficiently noisy, they could not fail of
The scaffolding was mounted, the candidates appeared, and mouths,
ears, and eyes were open; for the reception of all the wisdom and
patriotism, with all the _comicality_ and _fun_, which the orators
were expected to bestow. A mob delights in being harangued; and is
thrown into raptures by every kind of mountebank.
Jealous perhaps of his own honor, the god of eloquence decreed that
neither the wit nor the wisdom of Hector should that day be heard. He
was too hoarse for any effort to make him audible: but, as stirring
and ambitious spirits on such occasions are always abroad, tongues
were not wanting to trumpet forth his high deserts.
The candidates for oratorical fame were several, I was of the number:
and, as the gloss of my newly acquired dignity dazzled other eyes as
well as my own, I was permitted to take the lead. It was my first
essay; and I felt a momentary alarm: but, full of youthful spirits and
high in blood, I dashed forward; and uttered what first occurred.
My voice was powerful, my nonsense was applauded, my fears vanished,
and I became more collected. The real grievances of mankind, under
the best government that ever yet existed, have at all times been so
numerous that an orator, who makes them his theme, is never in want of
facts and arguments.
Could I then feel this deficiency at an epocha like the one in
question: when means so despotic were daily adopted to curb the
growing spirit of enquiry that despot ministers might pursue measures
so tragical; so subversive of the order which they pretended to
maintain, and so destructive to the happiness they were appointed to
guard? Alas! the topics were so numerous, so melancholy, so almost
maddening, that the man who would paint them truly must temper and
rein-in his feelings with an iron arm: otherwise, imagination will so
hurry him away that, while describing evils past, evils present, and
evils impending, there is danger of his being deemed an incendiary.
I spoke ill. When I remembered what I had said, and what I might and
ought to have said, I was indignant at my own want of recollection.
The applause that I received nevertheless was prodigious: the
acclamations of the mob were even awful. They displayed a feeling of
justice so acute, so prompt, and so powerful, that I was borne out of
myself; and imagined for a moment, not merely that the day of reform
was at hand, but that it was come.
Men are rendered selfish, and corrupt, by the baneful influence of the
systems under which they live: but it is well worthy the attention of
those who believe mankind to be generally capable of great happiness,
and who are desirous to promote it, that, however the wants of the
wretched may tempt them to accept the immediate relief that is within
their reach, they never collectively fail to bestow the most unbounded
applause, on those principles by which their own proceedings are
condemned. They are not in love with baseness: it is forced upon them.
The reader is doubtless aware that Hector and his friends assumed to
themselves the merit of what is called the independent interest; and
that his opponent was supported by the whole influence of the court
party. The numerous groans and hisses, and the few plaudits, bestowed
upon the orators of this party, were additional proofs of what is the
general sense of mankind; and that on the subject of corrupt influence
at least they judge rightly. In this general sense I own that my
soul triumphed: and the pangs which I felt, after the poll began, to
perceive that, whatever men might think, they could forget their duty
and vote only as their interest directed, were undescribable.
However, the party of Hector was strong. The struggle was violent.
Every scandalous art of election was resorted to, by both sides. A
spirit of rancour daily and hourly increased. The opponents came to
frequent blows. Beastly drunkenness, bloated insolence, and profligacy
of principle, met the eye on every side; and I almost hated myself,
not only for being present at and participating in it, but, to
find that I belonged to a race of animals capable of such foul and
From this distress I was relieved by an event which in itself was
very far from satisfactory. The poll had proceeded for some days
with tolerable equality; and Hector had rather the advantage: though
the voters in the interest of Sir Barnard had not given him their
assistance; to which they had frequently been urged. At length, they
appeared. And how great was the surprise and indignation of our whole
party, to see them marshalled on the opposite side, with the favours
of the Idford candidate in their hats, and uniformly come up and poll
On the same day, twelve of the votes which had been promised to me
were likewise brought over to the opposite interest; and ten more of
them refused to poll for either party.
The coincidence of this desertion revived the suspicions of Hector and
his party, concerning me. This sudden turn of the poll against him
rendered his temper ungovernable; and, in the frenzy of passion, he
made no scruple of openly affirming that I was no less guilty than the
It was not merely the consciousness of innocence that I felt. I had
been so indefatigable in every possible way, I had ridden and walked
and talked, I had been his defender, his eulogist, his orator, his
slave, and had as it were so fouled my conscience in his cause that
indignation closed my lips. I disdained reply, or self vindication;
and, casting a glance such as irresistible feeling dictated, left the
committee room in which the accusation was made without answering a
_The return to town: A visit to Sir Barnard: Admission denied:
Enquiries after the wounded stranger, who had disappeared: An
endeavour to guard against misrepresentation: The fears and feelings
My determination was taken, my servant was called, my horses ordered,
and I immediately departed for London. My thoughts were far from
being clear, or of a pleasant kind. The scene I had left was the most
odious that I had ever beheld. Hector I was convinced would lose his
election; and, what was more valuable, his health. I saw prognostics
which I thought could not be mistaken; and which afterward proved as
baleful as I then imagined them to be. Whether the contest might not
ruin the family was more than I knew; and what the effect might be on
Olivia, and even on our hoped for union, I could not foresee.
The enigmatical conduct of Sir Barnard was no less perplexing. His
sudden desertion of Hector, and of the cause which he had so loudly
defended, were alarming. For what other interpretation could be put
upon the voters in the Baronet's interest, who not only refused to
poll according to their promise, but were all of them brought up in
support of the Idford candidate? Yet I was loth to conclude that an
event so fatal to all my hopes, as well to my private affections as to
my public duties, had taken place.
My horses were excellent, and carried us seventy miles in less time
than it would have taken to go post. I intended to have ordered a
chaise for the remainder of the way: but a mail coach was to pass in
half an hour, and I waited. There happened to be a vacancy in which
I seated myself; and by these means I arrived in town early in the
As soon as the day was far enough advanced, my first care was to visit
Sir Barnard; and I own I approached the street and the house with a
foreboding heart. What had happened could not be unintentional. It
was too decided, too abrupt, and had too many marks of unprincipled
treachery. I knocked, made my enquiries, and was informed the Baronet
was not at home. I asked for Lady Bray; and not at home was again the
As this was what I apprehended, it excited but little surprise, though
much vexation. However I left my card; and departed more full of
meditation even than I came. Not at home I had no doubt signified that
my visits were no longer welcome.
Still it was necessary I should know the truth; and, as I had been too
intimate with the family to be ignorant of the haunts of Sir Barnard,
I went to the Cocoa tree, a place to which he daily resorted, and
there lounged away between two and three hours over the papers; hoping
he would come.
I was again disappointed. The Baronet did not make his appearance; and
I began to conjecture that perhaps the servant had told me truly: he
might be out early; on business, or I knew not what.
As it was past his hour at the Cocoa tree, perhaps I should now find
him at home. I therefore went back; and again made my enquiries, and
again received the same dry laconic answer. It had an ill face: but I
had no immediate remedy.
My next most pressing object of attention was the wounded stranger;
whom I had left under the care of the physician, and whom I
immediately determined to enquire after: not without some silent
reproaches to myself, for having so long been absent on schemes such
as those in which I had been concerned, to the neglect of perhaps a
more serious duty. For duty seemed to require that men should rather
abstain from elections, such as they are at present, than become
aiders and abettors of them.
My horses not being arrived, and disliking the vehicle of a hackney
coach, I walked forward to the inn at which the stranger had been
left; musing much on the prospect before me, which was once more
beginning to be heavily overcast.
Being come to my journey's end, I found the stranger had been removed
two days after I left him to London: but the people of the inn could
give me no farther intelligence, concerning him or the place of his
I then asked them to direct me to the house of the physician: which
they did, but told me that he had left the kingdom.
Determined however to make every possible enquiry, I went to the
house; where I found only a person who was left in charge of the
premises, and who knew nothing more than that the physician was gone
with a patient to Lisbon.
These little incidents, trifling as they appeared, afforded me an
excellent proof of the absurdity of false modesty: which induces men,
from the egoistical fear of being thought vain, to conceal or disguise
the truth. The physician had bestowed high eulogiums on my humanity:
after which, he had hinted a desire, but with well-bred reserve, to
know who I was; and I, catching the apparent delicacy of his feelings
and thinking but very little on the subject, imagined there would be
ostentation in personally taking to myself his praises, by giving him
my name and place of abode. I therefore told him I would answer that
question when we became better acquainted; if he should then find he
had no reason to alter his good opinion of me.
Thus do men by affecting not to be vain, indulge a kind of double
refined vanity; and lead themselves and others into error.
Being disappointed in all my enquiries of this day, my next care was
to see Miss Wilmot. Surrounded as I was by persons who thought me
inimical to them, and therefore were probably my inveterate enemies, I
knew not what false reports might be spread; nor how to guard against
them in the public opinion. But I had one consolation. Olivia had
declared she was resolved to enquire, before she again gave the least
credit to calumny. It was therefore essentially necessary that I
should acquaint Miss Wilmot with all that had passed.
It was now evening; and, when I came to her lodgings, I found her
brother and Turl both there. Though my absence had been short, the
meeting gave me no little pleasure. It would likewise save me the
trouble of a thrice told tale: for to friends like these my heart was
always open; and I had something like an abhorrence of concealment,
and secret transactions. I wished them to share in all my joys; and,
as to my griefs, they not only excited their sympathy but produced
remarks and counsel, by which they had often been cured.
I told my story; and it may well be imagined my hearers were neither
inattentive nor unmoved. The selfishness and depravity into which
men are driven, and the vices of which being thus impelled they are
capable, exemplified as these vices were in my narration, drew heavy
sighs from the gentle and kind hearted Lydia, made her much oppressed
brother groan in spirit, and excited in Turl those comprehensive
powers that trace the history of facts through a long succession, and
teach, by miseries that are past, how miseries in future are to be
The general feeling however was that danger was hovering over me. The
indignation of Wilmot, at the treatment of men who most endeavoured to
deserve well of their age and country, was very strong.
Neither was Turl less moved. His manner was placid, yet his feelings
were acute. But, though they might vibrate for a moment toward
discord, they touched the true harmony at last. He who has fixed
principles of action is soon called to a recollection of his duties,
and the manner in which he ought to act.
Roused by his friendship for me, I should rather say by his affection,
he collected his faculties; and presented to the imagination so
sublime a picture of fortitude, and of the virtue of enduring injuries
and oppression with dignity, that he prepared my mind most admirably
for the trials that were to succeed.
_A second and more successful attempt to obtain an interview with the
Baronet: An enigmatical dialogue: The meaning of which however may be
It was not only the wish of my heart but it was quite necessary for me
to see Mr. Evelyn. However, it was exceedingly desirable that I should
previously meet the Baronet: lest, in what I should say, my surmises
might be false; and I might produce a family disagreement between
persons who would both have conferred essential benefits on me, if the
supposed defection of Sir Barnard should not be true. I determined
therefore once more to go to the Cocoa tree and wait.
As it happened, waiting was not necessary. The Baronet was there; and,
though there was something of coldness in his manner, it was by no
means what my fears had taught me to expect. Salutation having passed,
I requested to speak with him. We retired into a private room; and he
began by telling me he was glad to see me again in town; and no longer
continuing to support a person whom he no longer esteemed his friend.
At hearing this remark, and the significance with which it was
delivered, my evil augury returned upon me in full force. I answered
that I had quitted Mr. Mowbray not because I had deserted his
interest, but because I had been unjustly accused. 'Accused of what,
'Of having been influenced by you to betray a party which I had
pretended to espouse.'
'And were you not influenced by me, Mr. Trevor?'
'I never can be influenced by any man, Sir Barnard, to commit an
action which my heart condemns.'
'Do you mean, Mr. Trevor, that your heart condemns me?'
'The question is very direct; and I am not desirous of wounding your
feelings, Sir Barnard: but I must not be guilty of falsehood. I
certainly wish you had acted otherwise.'
'Then you pretend to set up for yourself, Mr. Trevor; and to have no
deference whatever for me, and my opinions.'
'Personally, as a gentleman who meant to do me service, I wish to
preserve every respect for you, Sir Barnard. But I hope you do not
expect of me any deference that should, on any occasion whatever,
induce me to abandon either my public or my private duties.' 'Very
well, Mr. Trevor. Very well. I dare say you are so perfectly
acquainted with your duties that no man on earth, not even he who
had been your greatest friend, could induce you to alter any of your
'I should hope, Sir Barnard, that either friend or enemy might so
induce me: provided he had truth and reason on his side.'
'Very well, Mr. Trevor. All that is very fine. I dare say you
understand your own interest, and will take your own road: even though
you might if you pleased travel more at your ease, and in better
company, by going another way.'
'Will you be kind enough to explain yourself, Sir Barnard?'
'No, Mr. Trevor. I shall give no explanations, till I am sure I am
talking to my friend: my fast friend, Mr. Trevor: that will think and
act with me. If you will give me your word and honor as a gentleman to
that, why then we will talk together.'
'If by thinking and acting together, Sir Barnard, you mean that
you expect I should blindly and implicitly conform to any
tergiversation--I mean to any change--'
'You need explain yourself no farther, Mr. Trevor. I very well
understand your meaning. My friend is my friend, Mr. Trevor; and he
is no other man's friend, Mr. Trevor. I could not but suppose you
understood all that perfectly at first; and I am very sorry to be so
much deceived. But it is my misfortune to be always deceived, and
'Entrapped, Sir Barnard! I hope you do not apply that word to me?'
'Nay, nay, Mr. Trevor, I want no quarrelling.'
'Nor do I, Sir Barnard. But, if you suppose me capable of taking any
advantage of what you may now think an ill-placed confidence in me,
you egregiously mistake both my intentions and my character.'
'I hope I do, Mr. Trevor. You have a great fluency: but I hope I do.'
I saw him preparing to go; and, being exceedingly anxious to have a
determinate answer, I added--'Let me intreat you, Sir Barnard, to give
me an explicit declaration of what you expect from me.'
'You must excuse me, Mr. Trevor. I shall say no more, at present. You
say I mistake your intentions. I hope I do. Time will tell. When you
are my friend, I shall be very glad to see you; and so will Lady Bray.
Good morning to you, Mr. Trevor.'
_Reflections on the mutability of fortune, on money expended, and
on the duties of love and friendship: A strange incident, shewing
the propensity of man to superstitious terrors: A lamentable and
Well might I forebode the approach of evil: and, except that complaint
is of no avail, is waste of time, is unhappiness and therefore is
immoral, well might I complain of those sudden strokes of fate by
which, whenever my prospects began to be flattering, they were
suddenly obscured in darkness and despair. But, if I had not supposed
myself marked in an extraordinary manner as the child of fortune, to
whose smiles and frowns I seemed to be capriciously subjected, I know
not what should have induced me to have written my history; or rather
the history of my youth; for of what is yet reserved for me I am still
Not that I pretend to consider the hypocrisy, selfishness and
profligacy of titled folly, and church pride, as things in themselves
extraordinary. It was the coincidence and the number and manner of
them, by which in the crisis of my fate I seemed to be so repeatedly
and so peculiarly affected, that occasioned surprise and pain.
Yet what was all that I had hitherto felt from persons like these,
when I remember that which I was now immediately doomed to feel? The
perverted and the vicious it is true can excite emotion, and excite
it strongly. But how comparatively feeble does their utmost malice
seem, as far as it affects only ourselves, when brought in competition
with the thunder-bolt that strikes the virtuous; that shuts the
gate of hope; and that robs us of those unspeakable pleasures which
imagination has fondly stored, as a grand resource against evil, fall
when and how it may?
Parting from the Baronet, expecting what was almost certain some
change of political sentiment, no matter how brought about, by which
my flattering expectations were at once to be rooted up, my thoughts
inevitably flowed into that train which was bitterness little
short of anguish. Mr. Evelyn was a man of such peculiar virtue and
disinterested benevolence, of a heart so generous and so little
capable of accusing me in consequence of the baseness of others, that
to have suspected him of such a mistake would have been the height of
injustice. But I could not forget the sums that he had advanced, in
all four hundred pounds, the more than probable failure of all the
plans for which they had been advanced, and the incapacity I had and
should have to repay these sums.
Neither could I forbear to take a retrospective view of the manner in
which they had been expended. Could I approve of that manner? Could I
forget how short a time it was, though I had squandered my own money,
since I had forfeited no atom of my independence by accepting the
earnings of others? Suppose this parliamentary plan to fail, and fail
it must, for there were no hopes that I could honestly retain my seat,
to what other means could I resort? While I continued to indulge
in wild and extravagant schemes of enriching myself, by which I
did but impoverish others, ought I to require of Olivia to partake
of my folly, and its consequences? Had I nothing but the cup of
wretchedness to offer, and must I still urge her to drink? Was it not
my duty rather to tear myself at once away from her; and place some
insurmountable barrier between us, that should relieve her from such
an ill-fated predilection?
Full of these thoughts, I proceeded toward the residence of Mr.
Evelyn. It was necessary that I should see him immediately: for
silence would have been the meanest deceit. I went with an afflicted
heart. But how did I return? Why do I say afflicted? No! Anguish, real
anguish, since I had known him, had not yet reached me. But it was
coming. It was rushing forward, like a torrent; to bear away inferior
cares and sorrows, and engulph them wholly.
Unexpected events are sometimes peculiarly marked, by certain uncommon
incidental circumstances. As I was walking hastily forward, anxious to
meet Mr. Evelyn at home, I saw a coffin borne before me by four men at
some distance. Their pace was brisk. I had several streets to pass,
before I arrived at the house where Mr. Evelyn had apartments; and
still the coffin turned the way that I was to go.
I overtook and went before it: but the gloomy object had excited my
attention, and I presently looked behind me. Still it took the same
route. I looked again, and again; and it was continually at my heels.
It is strange how imagination will work, and how ideas will suggest
themselves. I wished it any where else; but it seemed to pursue me.
At length I came to my journey's end; and, having knocked at the door,
looked round with a kind of infatuated fear. The coffin was following,
and I stood with an absurd and fanciful trepidation, waiting that
I might once see it fairly past the door. Yet I was no bigot, no
believer in omens, and was almost ashamed of an idea which the coffin
itself and the gloomy state of my mind had suggested: but which was in
reality superstitious. The servant came, and the door was opened: but
the coffin approached, and I would not stir till it should pass me.
Pass it did. But where? Into the passage.
I stood speechless. The men asked where it was to go? 'Into the first
floor,' was the answer.
It was the apartment of Mr. Evelyn.
Heavens! What was the pang that shot across my brain? I gasped for
utterance: but still was dumb. A dread so terrible had seized me that
there I stood; motionless and stupefied.
The woman who opened the door and directed the men belonged to the
house; and, just as the bearers were proceeding with the coffin up
stairs, Matthew, the country servant, who had attended Mr. Evelyn in
the dissecting room the first night of our meeting, came in.
The moment he saw me, the poor fellow burst into tears; and
His look and the tone of his voice were sufficient. There was but one
event that could have produced them, in such an extraordinary and
unfeigned degree of grief. My horrible fears were fulfilled.
He paused a moment, sobbed, and again cried in a most piercing and
lamentable tone, 'My poor master!'
I must draw the curtain over feelings that I cannot pretend to paint.
How long I stood, what I first said, or what my looks were, are things
of which I know nothing. I only recollect that my eyes were stone, and
had not a tear to shed.
_A proof of the danger of not attending to trifles: A feeble attempt
to characterise a man of uncommon virtue: The dying anxieties of Mr.
The melancholy particulars of this strange tragedy were that,
three days before, Mr. Evelyn, being then in perfect health, had
been dissecting a limb in a high state of putrescence. During the
operation, the instrument had slipped, and made what he considered
only as a scratch of the skin; and so slight that he did not
immediately deem it worthy of notice: though, when he had ended, he
felt a tingling; and then thought it prudent to wash with vinegar, and
bind it up to keep out the air.
He was so busily engaged, during the day, that he paid no more
attention to it; though he once or twice felt a throbbing that was
unusual. Being fatigued, and finding his spirits rather agitated, he
took a gentle opiate at going to rest: but was waked in the middle of
the night, by symptoms of a very alarming kind. The morbid humour that
was introduced into the system, small as it probably was in quantity,
was so active that Mr. Evelyn was seized with a violent inflammatory
fever: so that he was delirious when he woke, and died in less than
eight and forty hours after he received this slight wound.
Such is the uncertain fate of man, in this state of ignorance. To such
sudden accidents of sickness and death are the good and the bad, the
foolish and the wise, continually subject; and such at present is the
frail tenure of life that the man in whose hall we feasted on Monday,
or the blooming beauty with whom we sung and danced, ere the week
passes away, are descended to the grave.
What tribute can friendship or affection pay, to the memory of a
man like this? There is only one that is worthy of his virtues; and
that is to record them: that, he being gone, his example may inspire
the benevolence he practised; and teach others to communicate the
blessings he conferred.
Oh that I had the power to pourtray those virtues in all their lustre!
Ages unborn would then rejoice, that such a man had lived; and feel
the benefits he would have bestowed. But it is a task that cannot be
accomplished in a few pages. His life was a vast volume of the best of
actions, which originated in the best of principles. Peace, love, and
reverence, be with his memory.
For my own part, if, in addition to that uncommon public worth which
he possessed, and that noble scale of morality by which he regulated
his life, the personal kindness which he heaped on me be remembered, I
must have less of affection than savage brutality, did no portion of
his spirit inspire me while I speak of these events.
Nor did his friendship end while understanding had the least remaining
power. His last act of benevolence was a strenuous but incoherent
effort to prevent the mischief which, disturbed as his functions were,
he still had recollection enough to apprehend would fall on me.
The reader is informed of the mortgage I gave Mr. Evelyn, when I
received not merely a qualification but the possession of an estate;
and I imagine he will not think I was too scrupulously careful, to
guard and prove the honesty of my intentions, when I further tell him
that, for the sums of money which Mr. Evelyn advanced, I insisted on
giving my promissory notes for repayment. I was pertinacious, and
would accept such favours on no other terms.
This mortgage and these notes were lying in the possession of Mr.
Evelyn, at the time of his death. He had apprehended no danger, till
the fever and the delirium seized him: at the beginning of which he
called his servant, Matthew (I tell the story as the poor fellow told
it to me), and, giving him a key, bade him go down to his bureau, and
search among his papers for a parchment and some notes, that were tied
together with red tape.
Having uttered this, he began to talk in a wild and wandering manner;
of fetters, and prisons; and asked Matthew if he knew why such
places were built? 'So make haste, Matthew,' said he, 'and burn the
parchment, and burn the notes, and burn the bureau. After which, you
know, all will be safe, Matthew; and they can never harm Mr. Trevor.
You love Mr. Trevor, Matthew: do not you?'
His recollection then seemed to return; and he asked, 'Of what have I
been talking? Go, Matthew; seek the parchment and the notes: tied with
red tape. Observe: there is no other parchment tied with red tape.
Bring them to me directly.'
Matthew had taken the key; but just as he was going the Doctor, who
had been sent for, arrived.
Matthew went, however, as he was directed; and, applying the key to
the lock, found it was a wrong one.
The Doctor, alarmed for the state in which he saw Mr. Evelyn,
immediately wrote a prescription, and rang for the servant to run and
have it prepared at the shop of the next apothecary. Matthew answered
the bell; and Mr. Evelyn seeing him eagerly demanded--'Where is the
parchment? Have you brought me the parchment? Why do not you bring me
the parchment?' 'For,' said Matthew, 'I held out the key; and he saw I
had nothing else in my hands.'
The Doctor asked Matthew what parchment his master wanted? And Matthew
replied, he could not tell: except that his master said it was in the
bureau, and tied with red tape. 'Why do not you bring it?' said Mr.
Evelyn. Then turning to the Doctor, added--'It is a bundle of misery;
and you know, sir, we ought to drive all misery from the face of the
earth. I cannot tell how it came in my possession. Why do you not go
and bring it me, Matthew? And pray, sir, do you see it destroyed.
Promise me that; I beg you will! Because Mr. Trevor is in the country.
I am afraid elections are but bad things. What, sir, is your opinion?
For I think I shall die; and he will then have no friend on earth to
secure him the poll.'
'Seeing my poor master was so disturbed in his mind,' said Matthew,
'the doctor _bid_ me run as fast as I could for the stuff he had
ordered: which I did. But I was obliged to wait till it was made
up; and when I _come_ back my poor dear master was more distracting
light-headed than ever. But still he kept raving about the parchment;
and his cousin, Sir Barnard; and you, Mr. Trevor: all which the Doctor
said we must not heed, because he did not know what he said. Though,
for all that, I could not but mightily fear there was something hung
heavy on his mind: for, as long as ever he could be heard to speak,
he kept calling every now and then for the parchment. And after that,
when he lay heaving for breath and rattling in the throat and nobody
could tell a word that he said, he kept moving his lips just in the
same manner as when he could make himself heard. I do believe he was
calling for it almost as the breath left his body. And I cannot but
say that I wish I had found it, and brought it to him; for the ease
and quiet of his soul.'
_Doubts concerning the justice of wills and testaments: The provident
care of the Baronet: A demonstration of his ardent love for his
country: Hector loses his election: My determination to accept the
When a man discovers that the pathos of his story, and the virtues
which he has in contemplation, are entirely beyond the power of
language, what method can he take but that of leaving off abruptly:
that he may suffer the imagination to perform an office to which any
other effort is inadequate? As Mr. Evelyn lived so he died. To prevent
evil and to do unbounded good was his ruling passion. It never left
him, till life departed.
It is a phenomenon which has frequently been remarked that, in a state
of delirium, the mind has its luminous moments: during which it seems
to have a more clear and comprehensive view of consequences than in
its more sober periods of health. The evil that excited so strong and
painful an alarm in the mind of my dying friend was no idle dream. The
Baronet was his heir at law. Mr. Evelyn had made no will: for not only
was his death premature but, knowing the mischiefs that have arisen
from disputes concerning testamentary bequests, he strongly doubted of
the morality of making any. It was never his intention to hoard; and,
hoping or I might rather say expecting to have a clear prospect of
the approach of death, his plan was to distribute all the personal
property in his possession before he died, in the manner that he
should suppose would be most useful.
However, whether it were a just sense of rectitude or an improper
pride of heart, I own that I felt pleased, as far as myself was
concerned, that the intentions of Mr. Evelyn, when he called for the
parchment, were not executed. I did not indeed foresee all that was to
happen: but I felt an abhorrence of being liable to be suspected of I
know not what imputed arts, or crimes; by the aid of which malice or
selfishness might assert I had come into the possession of so large a
part of Mr. Evelyn's property.
Not that, if the deeds and notes had been destroyed, I should have
thought it just to have retained the estate that I held. But my virtue
was not fated to be put to this trial. When I met Sir Barnard at the
Cocoa tree, he not only knew of the decease of Mr. Evelyn but had
ordered seals to be placed on all the locks; under which it was
imagined that papers or effects might be secured. Having heard the
story of Matthew, I could have no doubt but that the mortgage deeds,
and the notes for sums received, would now fall into the Baronet's
It is true I might, if I pleased, bid him defiance. No: I ought not
to have said, if I pleased; but, if I could condescend to acknowledge
myself a scoundrel. He had made me his own member, and had himself
impowered me to avoid the punishment which is assigned by law to
unfortunate debtors: for, under this best of governments, such as a
representative of the people was now my privilege. This immaculate
constitution, to which all the homage that man can pay is insufficient
worship, vaunted as it is and revered by all parties, or all parties
are broad day liars, for all and each strive to be most loud and
extravagant in praise of it, this constitution in its very essence
decrees that things which are vile and unjust, in one man, are right
and lawful, in another.
Well then: by the aid of this constitution, which I too must praise if
I would escape whipping, I might seat myself as Sir Barnard's member,
and aid to countenance and make laws, to which I and the other wise
law-makers my coadjutors should not be subject. I might, however
offensive the term may be to certain delicate ears, I might become a
privileged swindler; and rob every man who should do me the injustice
to think me honest.
It cannot be supposed that so dear a lover and so ardent an admirer of
the constitution, as Sir Barnard was, should once suspect that I would
not benefit myself by all its blessings: that is, that I would not
cheat him to the very best of my ability. This supposition had induced
him, during our conversation at the Cocoa tree, to struggle with and
keep down those indignant risings with which, notwithstanding the
modulated tone of his voice, I could see he was more than half
After what I had heard and situated as I was at present, I had very
little doubt either of the purity of his patriotism or the manner in
which it would affect me. Still however I had some. There might be a
change in his politics; but it might neither be of the nature nor of
the extent that I feared.
But these doubts did not distress me long. They were entirely removed,
by that most authentic source of intelligence the Gazette; in which,
about a fortnight after the death of Mr. Evelyn, I read the following
unequivocal proof of the Baronet's inordinate love of his country.
'The King has been pleased to grant the dignity of a Baron of the
kingdom of Great Britain to Sir Barnard Bray, Baronet; by the name
stile and title of Baron Bray, of Bray hall in the county of Somerset;
and to the heirs male of his body, lawfully begotten.'
I was now no longer at a loss for the reason of the Baronet's late
sudden departure, and the desertion of his political friends at the
election. What are friends? What are elections? What is our country,
compared to the smiles of a prime minister; and the titles he can
bestow? Nothing now was wanting to the honor of the house of Bray! It
might in time I own pant after a Dukedom; and a Duke of Bray might as
justly be stiled princely and most puissant as many another Duke. But
at present it was full with satisfaction.
This court document, brief though it was, spoke volumes. It was a
flash of lightning, that gave me a distinct view of the black and
dreadful abyss that was immediately before me; and into which I
foresaw I must be plunged.
On the same day, I read that the Idford candidate had been returned
for the county of ****; and that consequently Hector had lost his
This was not all. Heated by the illiberal practices which always
attend such contentions, knowing the bribery that he had used himself,
and convinced that he could prove the same corrupt means to have been
resorted to by his opponent, he was not satisfied with the devastation
he had already committed upon his fortune; but was determined to
demand a _scrutiny_: and if he should be foiled in that effort, he was
resolved to try the merits of the election before a committee of the
house of commons. Such was the report that was immediately propagated;
and which was afterward verified by facts.
With respect to myself, convinced as I was of its danger, I had made
my choice. My fixed purpose was to vacate my seat in parliament. It
might perhaps be questioned, since the pretended voters had in reality
no voice, and their imaginary representative was no more than a person
nominated by the new Lord Bray, whether I ought to resign an office
which, as I supposed, I should fill for the good of mankind; and
give place to some person who, obedient to his leader, would do the
But one act of baseness cannot authorize another. To bear about me a
sense of self-degradation, a certainty that I was sheltering myself
from the power of my late patron by a privilege which I considered as
highly vicious, a subterfuge such as every man who deserves the name
ought to despise and spurn at, this was insufferable. I had lost
much: for I had lost hopes that had been extravagant and unbounded in
promise: but I had not lost a conscious rectitude of heart, without
which existence was not to be endured.
_The comedy of Wilmot successful: The wounded stranger seen at a
distance: Oratory abandoned with regret: The dangers that attend being
honest: A new invitation from Hector: A journey deferred by an arrest,
and another accidental sight of the stranger_
It is happy for man that there is scarcely any state of suffering,
whether of mind or body, in which pain is unremitting; and wholly
unmixed with pleasure. If he be unhappy himself, it will be strange
should there be no one more fortunate for whom he has an affection:
no friend that is more prosperous, and in whose prosperity he takes
The season of the year had arrived when the comedy of Wilmot had been
put into rehearsal, and was to be performed. It was a trying occasion;
and those who knew him loved him too well to be absent; though the few
intimate friends who had read the piece had no doubt of its success.
The partial failure of his tragedy had produced no jealousy of
rivalship: though, as its merits had been publicly acknowledged, it
had incurred no disgrace. In private life, he was beloved; and, as a
public man, his merits had not yet created him enemies. He has since,
indeed, in that respect, not been so fortunate. But he has never
thought it just to complain: being convinced that mistake, though it
should be rectified, should not be resented.
The evening of representation arrived, the house was crowded, the
company brilliant, and the plaudits with which the author was honoured
established his reputation, and confirmed the judgment of his friends.
During the performance, I sat in the boxes; and, among the spectators
in the pit, I discovered a man whose hair was white, whose locks were
venerable, and who I was well convinced was the stranger whom I had
found wounded at the entrance of Barnes common. I was in a side-box,
and he was near the opposite pit door; so that the distance made it
rather doubtful: yet the more I looked the more I was convinced it was
the same person. The comedy was nearly ended when I first saw him; and
I determined, as soon as I had heard the epilogue, to go and satisfy
myself how far my persuasion was true.
I went round to the door; but the pit was so crowded that it was with
difficulty I could make my way to the seat. When I was there my labour
was lost: I could not find him; and, enquiring for him by description
of the persons near where he sat, they told me that such a gentleman
had been there; but that he complained of the heat, and had left the
house immediately after the curtain dropped.
This incident gave me considerable chagrin. However, as his person
was very remarkable, and being persuaded he was actually the wounded
stranger, I conceived hopes that I should again meet him; in some
place where the danger of losing sight of him would not be so great.
There being no expectation of his return, I went in search of my
friends: in company with whom, rejoicing in the success of Wilmot and
glorying in the acquisition of poetry and the stage, I wholly forgot
myself and my own affairs, and spent one more very delightful evening.
These affairs however were not long to be forgotten. The returns of
the elections throughout Great Britain had all been made, and the new
parliament summoned to assemble. It was with infinite and deep regret
that I found myself excluded by my own sense of rectitude. I would
willingly have taken my seat, had it been only for one night: for I
was eagerly desirous of an opportunity to deliver my thoughts, and
urge some of those useful truths which may be uttered with more safety
there than in less privileged places.
But I was too well acquainted with the customs and forms of the
house to hope that this opportunity could now be found. I had no
parliamentary friends; no supporters; and there was not the least
probability that a youth so wholly unknown _should catch the speaker's
eye_, whose notice so many were ready to solicit.
These things having been duly weighed, I had already applied for the
chiltern hundreds and my seat was declared vacated: to the great joy
of Lord Bray; and his now bosom friend, the Earl of Idford. This joy
was the greater because it was an event of which they had not the
least expectation. The due forms of law had been observed, the seals
had been removed from the locks of my late inestimable friend, his
cousin the new peer was in possession of the mortgage and the notes
for money received, and he had no conception of any motives that could
induce me to an act which must leave me entirely at his mercy.
It cannot however be supposed, as I have already said, that I had any
intention to retain the estate; which I had received from Mr. Evelyn
as a qualification, and a support. It was now the property of Lord
Bray; and obligation to him was a thing that would not admit of a
question. I did not therefore wait for any notice from his lordship,
or his attorney, but desired Mr. Hilary to inform him that I was ready
at any time to give up the deeds, and receive back the mortgage.
This would have been a trifle. It was not a sacrifice; but a riddance:
by which, could it have ended here, I should have regained something
of that elasticity of heart which independence only can feel. Here,
however, it could not end. I was obliged to instruct Mr. Hilary to add
that I was willing to give my own personal security, by bond or in any
manner my creditor should please, for money received and interest due:
but to acknowledge that I had no immediate means of payment. In other
words, that my person was entirely at the disposal of himself and the
law. I might have reminded him that more than half of my debt was
incurred by _genteel presents_ to his craving electors; and that he
had informed me that it was a necessary expence: but to this I could
The little business which, during his life, Mr. Evelyn had in law
Mr. Hilary had always transacted. He had a sincere regard for me,
and a reverence for the memory of his late kinsman; whose earnest
recommendation of me he did not forget. Being well acquainted with the
character of Lord Bray, he foresaw and warned me of my danger. While
a baronet, to behold himself a peer had been his lordship's darling
passion: but that was now gratified; and, as he was proud, he was
likewise revengeful. In this case, however, to warn was useless. I had
no alternative, except by means that were dishonorable.
Nor was the resentment of Lord Bray single, or so much to be
apprehended as that of the Earl, with whom he had entered into strict
alliance. My behaviour to Lord Idford had uniformly been what he
deemed so very insolent that his antipathy may be said to have taken
birth at my first act of disobedience: my refusal to dine at the
second table. Since then, as he conceived, it had been progressive in
aggravation. My scorn of his selfish politics, my attempt to continue
the Letters of Themistocles, and write him who was the supposed author
of them into disgrace, the pamphlet of which I was the author, the
activity with which I had canvassed in favour of Mowbray, and to sum
up all my daring to rival him with the woman on whom he would have
conferred his person, his dignity, and his other great qualities, were
all of them injuries that rankled at his heart. When these things are
remembered, few will feel surprised that the Earl should indulge a
passion which is in itself so active: or that he should induce Lord
Bray to pursue that kind of conduct to which he was already so much
The danger however must be faced; and Mr. Hilary wrote, as my
attorney, to state the circumstances above recited. A week elapsed
before he received an answer: but at the end of that time his
lordship's attorney replied, that personal security for so large a sum
could not be accepted: my bond would be no better than the notes I had
given: and that I was required immediately to pay what was due, to the
estate and heirs of the late Mr. Evelyn.
The spirit in which this note was written proved the temper of my
creditor; and an incident soon occurred by which his propensity to
persecute was called into action. The scrutiny which Hector had
demanded was over, and decided against him: but, understanding that
there was an absolute breach between me and Lord Bray, Mowbray was
convinced that he had accused me falsely. As he was almost certain
that he could prove bribery and corruption to have been practised by
his opponent, he persisted in determining to bring it before the house
of commons. This business kept him still in the country, where he and
his partisans were busily collecting information.
He had experienced my utility in the course of the election, he wished
to enjoy the same advantage at present, and he and his committee
likewise discovered that my evidence was essentially necessary. He
therefore wrote me an apology, spoke in the handsomest terms he could
recollect of the services I had done him, requested me to come down
once more to aid him in his present attempt, and stated the points
on which my future testimony would be useful. He further informed me
that a gentleman of the law, whom he named, was to set off the morning
after I should receive the letter, at ten o'clock, and come post; and
that he should be much obliged to me if I would take a seat in the
The letter was read in the committee room, as a matter of business;
and in this committee room Lord Idford had a secret agent, from whom
he gained intelligence of all their proceedings that deserved notice.
Desirous as I was of obliging the brother of Olivia, I made no
hesitation to comply. The evening before I was to go down into
*****, I went to Mr. Hilary; to acquaint him with the place of my
destination, and the manner in which he might direct to me, if any
thing new should occur. The agents of Lord Bray, or to speak more
truly of the Earl, had been exceedingly industrious; and a writ was
already procured. It was intended to take me as I stepped into the
chaise, or that evening if possible, and accordingly the door where
I lived was watched, and I was seen to come out. My usual pace was
brisk, but I happened now to be in haste; and, as they told me
themselves, the setters lost sight of me for some time, were afterward
cautious of coming up to me in any public street where a rescue was
probable, and followed me till I came almost to the door of Mr.
Here there was a carriage standing; and, to my great surprise and joy,
I saw Mr. Hilary with a light, conducting out the very person whom I
had some time before discovered in the pit, and whom I now knew to be
the wounded stranger.
I hesitated whether I ought to spring forward, and intrude my
enquiries immediately upon him, or make them of Mr. Hilary, with whom
it appeared he was acquainted; and, at this instant, the bailiff and
his two men came up with me, and told me I was their prisoner.
While I stood astonished at this sudden and at that precise time
unexpected event, the carriage with the stranger in it drove away; and
Mr. Hilary shut the door without seeing me.
There is a sense of indignity and disgrace in being arrested, at which
all those who have not been frequently subjected to it revolt. I was
wholly ignorant of the manners of the people who had laid their hands
upon me. I had heard of giving bail: but I had likewise heard that it
was a thing of danger, to which men were generally averse; and I had
a bitter repugnance to ask any thing which I thought it was likely
should be refused. Neither had I any probable person to ask: for my
little law reading had taught me that the sureties of a debtor must be
Unwilling therefore to trouble Mr. Hilary, and finding myself without
resource, I desired the bailiff to take me wherever he pleased, or
wherever the law directed. 'I suppose, Sir, you do not mean we should
take you to jail?' said the bailiff.
Ignorant as I was and surprised at the question, I asked where else
they meant to take me? He replied 'To my house, Sir: or to any other
lock up house that you choose.'
'A lock up house, Sir!' said I. 'Pray what is that?'
The bailiff knew not how to give a direct answer; but replied 'There
_is_ some lock up houses at which a gentleman may be treated like a
gentleman: though I cannot say but there _is_ others that _is_ shabby
enough. I see very well, Sir, you are a young gentleman, and do not
know the trim of such things: so, if you please to go to my house, you
will find very civil usage. I can tell by your cut, Sir, that you are
no scrub; so my wife will take care to furnish you with every thing
that is genteel and polite.'
The man smelled excessively of brandy and tobacco; which,
corresponding with his gait, looks, and language, seemed an
introduction to the purgatory to which I was doomed. I thought proper
however to accept his offer, and go to the house where I was to be
treated with so much politeness and gentility.
_The good breeding of a bailiff: A period of dejection: A visit from
Mr. Hilary: The hopes he conceives_
The bailiff and one of his followers walked beside me, cautiously
keeping in advance; and the other marched behind till we came to
a stand of coaches, and I was asked whether one of them should be
called? I was thoroughly ashamed of my company: but a deep sense
of indignity confuses thought; and, till it was proposed by the
bailiff, I had forgotten that there was such a thing as a coach.
His proposal was immediately accepted; and we were driven through
Lincoln's-inn-fields into Carey-street, where we were obliged to
alight and pass through several narrow allies.
I had no great expectations of the gentility of the bailiff's abode:
but, slender as they were, the few I had were disappointed. I was
wholly unused to such places: this I suspect was one of the meanest of
them; and the approach to the house, as well as all that was in it,
bespoke wretchedness, and inspired disgust.
As soon as we entered the doors, the bailiff called aloud for
Charlotte (the name of his wife) and desired her to bring light
into the drawing room. 'Why what do you talk of, George?' replied
Charlotte. 'Are you drunk? Don't you know the gentleman is there that
you brought in this morning?'
'Do you think I don't know what I am about?' answered George. 'I have
brought another gentleman: so that there gentleman must come down, and
_hoik_ into the best parlour.'
'I am sure,' retorted Charlotte with great vivacity and significance,
'he has behaved vastly proper, since he came into my house. He has had
friends with him all afternoon; and dined, and called for wine, and
done every thing that was genteel.'
Though half in a trance, I was sufficiently awake to understand her
meaning. I therefore interrupted the bailiff, who had begun to reply
with passion. 'You are very right, Madam;' said I. 'The gentleman must
not be disturbed. I have no friends that drink wine; and I drink none
This hint was quite sufficient. Neither the drawing room nor the best
parlour were now to be had; and I was shewn into a dirty back place,
which was little more than a closet, decorated with a wooden cut of
Lord Lovat over the mantle piece, and corresponding pictures of the
king and queen on each side.
Before she shut the door, Charlotte demanded 'if I chose to have some
more coals on the fire? And whether I would have two candles or one?'
'Whatever you please madam,' I replied. 'Nay, sir,' said she pertly,
'that is just as you please.' I made no answer, and she shut the door
with a dissatisfied air; which she locked on the outside.
At any other time, this George and Charlotte, with their drawing-room,
would have presented many whimsical associations to my mind: but at
present my attention was called to the iron bars of the one window of
my prison hole; and to the recollection that, in all probability, I
was now shut up for life. The weight of evil was so oppressive that I
sat motionless, in sullen stupefaction, for a considerable time.
Hearing no sound whatever, the bailiff I suppose was alarmed: for he
unlocked the door, and coming in abruptly exclaimed 'Oh! I thought it
could not be!' Meaning probably that I could not possibly have escaped
through the window. Recollecting himself, he asked 'if I did not think
proper to send to some friends?' To which I laconically answered,
'But I suppose you mean to give bail, sir?'
'I have none to give.'
'I perceive how it is, sir. You are not used to the business; and so
you are cast down. You must bethink yourself: for I dare say a young
gentleman like you will find bail fast enough; _becase_ why, the sum
is not quite four hundred and forty pounds. We have people enough
_which_ will go of any message for you; so I would advise you to send,
though it is late; _becase_, as you _says_ you don't drink, there will
be no good much in your staying here. Not but what we have as good
beds, and as good wines and all sorts of liquors, and can get any
thing else as good as a gentleman needs lick his lips to. There _is_
never _no_ complaints at our house. So you had better take my advice,
and cheer up your spirits; and get a little something good in your
belly, in the way of eating and drinking; and send to let your
friends know as how you are _nabbed_: _becase_ nothing can come of it
otherwise, neither to you nor _no_body else.'
His discourse awakened me enough to remind me of the necessity of
sending to the gentleman, with whom I had intended to travel the next
day, and inform him of the impossibility of my taking the journey.
This led me to reflect further. The remark of the bailiff was just:
delay was prejudicial. What had happened could not be kept secret,
secrecy was in itself vicious, and to increase evil by procrastination
was cowardly. Thus far roused, I presently conceived and determined
on my plan. I saw no probability of avoiding a prison: but, being in
this house, I was resolved first to see my friends. I had already sold
my horses, and discharged my servant. Clarke, I knew, would reproach
me, if I did not accept his goods offices in my distress; when such
good offices as he could perform would be most necessary. I intended
therefore to request him the next morning to go round and inform such
of my friends as I wished to see: but, as the bailiff told me it
would be proper to send for my attorney immediately, I thought proper
to dispatch a messenger; with one note to him, and another to the
gentleman with whom I was to have travelled.
Mr. Hilary was at home and came instantly on the receipt of my billet.
When he saw me, he endeavoured to smile; and not appear in the least
surprised, or affected. But his feelings betrayed him; the tears
started into his eyes, and he was obliged to turn away his face. He
made an effort, however, and recovered himself: after which, he rather
endeavoured to enter into easy conversation than to talk of business.
By this I suspected that he neither durst trust himself nor me; till a
little time should have reconciled us to the scene.
This was a proper opportunity for enquiries which my sudden misfortune
had not made me forget. I questioned him concerning the stranger,
whose person I described; and mentioned my having seen Mr. Hilary
light him out of the house, the moment before I was arrested.
'What do you know of him?' said Mr. Hilary, with an eager air. 'Have
you ever seen him before?'
'Yes; if I am not very much mistaken.'
'Nay but tell me, what do you know?'
'First answer me concerning who and what he is?'
'A gentleman of large fortune, the last of his family, and a great
'Has he met with any accident lately?'
'Yes. But why do you ask?'
'And why do you seem so much awakened by the question?'
'Because he is excessively desirous of discovering some gentleman, who
found him after he had been robbed, and left, supposed to be dead;
that he may if possible reward his preserver. Now there are some
circumstances, as related by the people of an inn to which he was
taken, that have suggested a thought to me which, should it prove
true, would give me inexpressible pleasure.'
'What are they?'
'That the good Samaritan, who performed this act of humanity, was a
young gentleman with a servant out of livery; that he and his man
rode two blood horses, both bright bays; that the servant's name was
Samuel; and that the master was in person very like you. All which
correspond; and I really believe, by your smiling, that it actually
'Suppose it: what then?'
'Why then I am sure you have gained a friend, who will never suffer
you to go to prison.'
The word friend conjured up a train of ideas, which almost overcame
me. 'I have lost a friend,' said I, 'who would not have suffered me to
go to prison. But he is gone. I accepted even _his_ favours with an
aching and unwilling heart; and prison itself will not, I suspect, be
so painful to me as more obligations of the same kind, and conferred
by a person who, though I am strongly prepossessed in his favour, I
scarcely can hope should equal Mr. Evelyn. And, if he even did, an
extravagant supposition, I should still hesitate: I doubt if a prison
itself be so hateful as a knowledge that I am only out of one on
sufferance; and that, when any caprice shall seize my creditor, I may
be hunted like a ferocious beast; and commanded to my den, like a
Mr. Hilary endeavoured to combat this train of thinking: but it was
not to be conquered. The short period of trial since the death of
Mr. Evelyn had afforded me too many proofs of the painful sensations
which such a knowledge can excite; and of the propensity which I had
to give them encouragement. To be as I have said the slave of any
man's temper, not as an effort of duty but from a sense of fear, was
insufferable. A prison, locks, bolts, and bread and water, were to be
Mr. Hilary sat with me till bed time; and, not only to put the bailiff
in good humour, but to cheer my heart and his own, ordered supper,
and drank more plentifully of wine than was his custom: urging me to
follow his example. I did not refuse: for I had a contempt for any
thing that had the appearance of an incapacity to endure whatever the
tyranny of rancorous men and unjust laws could inflict. The stranger,
he told me, was gone down into the country; from whence he would
return within a week: but he forbore to mention his name, as he had
been instructed; the stranger having enquiries to make, which induced
him to keep it secret.
Before he left me, Mr. Hilary received instructions from me to be
given to Clarke: after which we quitted the best parlour, into which
we had been introduced with great ceremony to sup; and I retired to
try how soundly I could sleep, in one of the good beds of a lock-up
_Morning visitors: A generous proposal rejected: The affectionate
friendship of Miss Wilmot: A very unexpected visitor: His
extraordinary conduct, and a scene of reconciliation: A letter which
excites delightful sensations_
The morning came, the diligence of Mr. Hilary was that of a friend,
and the best parlour was soon filled: the reader will easily guess by
whom. There is an undescribable pleasure, when we are persecuted by
one set of human beings, to receive marks of affection from another.
It is a strong consolation to know that kindness and justice have not
wholly forsaken the earth.
Wilmot, Clarke, and Turl were with me. I called for breakfast; and
felt a gratification at enjoying another social meal, before being
immured in I knew not what kind of dungeon. Charlotte and her maid,
Pol, were very alert; and I believe she almost repented that I was not
in the drawing-room, since she found I had so many friends.
Clarke was asked to partake; but answered with a 'no thank you, Mr.
Trevor.' I supposed it was awkward bashfulness. I did him wrong. He
had a more refined and feeling motive: for, when I pressed him very
earnestly, he replied--'At another time, Mr. Trevor, such a favour
would make me happy; and you know I have not refused: but, just now,
why it would look as if, because you are under misfortunes, I might
Honest-hearted generous fellow! He was still the same. But he
breakfasted with us. Be assured, good reader, he breakfasted with us.
And now I had a contest to undergo, which was maintained with so much
obstinacy that it became truly painful. Wilmot, in consequence of the
success of his comedy, had the power to discharge my debt; and on this
at first he peremptorily insisted. But it was what I could not accept.
He was, I knew, an Evelyn in soul: but I too panted to be something.
I could not endure to rob him of the labour of a life, and walk at
large oppressed by the consciousness of impotence: of a depressed and
sunken spirit; of which groveling meanness would be the chief feature.
Such at least were my sensations: and they were too impetuous to be
In the ardour we mutually felt, Turl was appealed to by both. At
first he strongly inclined to the side of Wilmot: but, hearing my
reasons and perceiving the anguish which the proposal gave, he at
length said--'Let us pause awhile. We are friends. Imprisonment is a
detestable thing; and there is no danger that, as friends, we should
suffer each other to endure it long, if there should be any possible
and honest means of imparting freedom. We need make no professions. In
one part of his argument, Mr. Trevor is undoubtedly right. If he can
relieve himself, by his abilities and industry, which he is persuaded
he can, it is his duty. For it will not only increase his immediate
happiness, but it will give confidence to his efforts, and strength
to his mind: qualities that are inestimable. Impediments serve but to
rouse the man of genius. To reject aid from a sentiment of haughtiness
is a vice: but to despair of our own resources is the death of all
true greatness of character. In any case, suspend your contest; in
which, though from the best of motives, you are both too warm. Examine
your arguments at leisure. If Mr. Trevor can be rendered most happy
and useful by accepting your offer, it will then be just in him to
cede: but remember once more we are friends, that know each other's
worth; and it will be just that I should partake in his release. To
this I know you will both joyfully consent. If good can be done, you
will not deny me my share!'
It was characteristic of Turl never to speak on serious occasions
without leaving a deep impression on his hearers. Wilmot heaved a
profound sigh, but was silent.
Having thus far prevailed, I was desirous of being immediately removed
to prison: but to this they both vehemently objected. It had an air of
ostentation: of affecting to love misery for misery's sake. Time ought
to be taken for consideration; and evil should not be sported with,
though when unavoidable it ought to be endured with fortitude.
While these debates took place, it was no uninteresting spectacle
to contemplate the changes in the countenance of Clarke. Before
the adventure of Bath, he had risen much above the level of his
companions: but now, when he saw a man willing to part with all he
possessed to rescue another from prison, and heard strong reasons why
it was probable the offer ought not to be accepted, his feelings were
all in arms. His passions, while Wilmot pleaded, were ready to break
their bounds; and, when he listened to the answers that were returned,
his mind was filled and expanded. He discovered that there is a
disinterested grandeur in morality, of which he had no previous
conception. He was in a new world; and a dark room, with barred
windows, was heaven in all its splendor.
Having agreed to follow their advice, Wilmot and Turl left me; with a
promise to return early in the evening: but poor Clarke said 'he had
no heart for work that day; and he could not abide to leave me shut
up by myself. He saw plainly enough I had true friends; such as would
never forsake me: and no more would he, though he could do me no
good.' When however I represented to him my wish to be alone, that I
might consider on my situation, and requested he would dine with his
family, and bring some books from my lodgings in the evening, he
The morning of the day was chiefly consumed; and I was not suffered
long to remain alone. I had scarcely dined before a coach stopped at
the door, and Charlotte came in with demure significance in her face.
'There is a young lady, sir,' said she, '_which_ says her name is
Wilmot, _which_ wants to see you.'
At this moment, she was the most agreeable visitor that could have
arrived. Her heart was full, her eyes were swollen, and red with
weeping, and, as soon as she entered the room, she again burst into
It has often been asked why sorrows like these should excite so much
gratification? The answer is evident. They are not only tokens of
personal respect and affection, but they are proofs that injustice
cannot be committed without being perceptibly and often deeply felt by
others, as well as by those on whom it is exercised.
When she had appeased her feelings sufficiently to be able to speak, I
found that, like her brother, she was come with a disinterested plan
for my relief. She began by blaming herself for not having strenuously
enough opposed my forbearance with respect to Wakefield; and pleaded
with great energy of feeling to persuade me immediately to do myself
right. I took the first favourable opportunity to interrupt her; and
enquired if she had seen or heard any thing of Wakefield since the
letter he wrote? She answered, he had been with her above an hour that
'In what temper of mind was he?'
'Not at you?'
'Oh no: at Lord Bray: at your persecutors: at the world in general. He
says you are not fit to live in it: you are no match for it. You have
been persuading him, contrary to all history and experience, that men
are capable of virtue and happiness. In short, he owns that he was
more than half convinced: but that he believes he shall be obliged to
relapse into his former opinions.'
'I have persuaded him?'
'So he says.'
'I cannot tell. I thought from his discourse that he had met with
While we were engaged in this conversation, Charlotte again entered;
and told me there was a gentleman of the name of Wakefield, who
desired to see me. 'Is it possible?' exclaimed Miss Wilmot.
The door opened, and he appeared. 'Belmont!' cried I, with surprise.
'Why did you announce yourself by the name of Wakefield?'
He stretched out his hand to me, and turned his face aside: then
recovering himself replied 'The farce is over.'
'What do you mean?'
'That I suppose you will despise me. But do, if you please: for,
though I love you, I too despise to fear you. I have done you various
wrongs. My name is Wakefield. I have been one of the infernal
instruments to bring you here: but I am come to make you all the
atonement in my power, and take you out. Forgive me only so far as not
to insult me, by repeating your contempt of that villain Wakefield.
It is a damned undigestible term: but I deserved it; and you applied
it to me without intending an affront. I know you are as brave as you
are generous. Till I met with you, I thought myself the first man in
the world: but, notwithstanding my evasive raillery, I felt your hand
upon me. I sunk under you. There was something in you that excited my
envy, at first; and afterward, perhaps, a better passion. What damned
accidents they were that made me what I have been I cannot tell. I
know not what I shall be: but I know what I am. I disdain penitential
promises. If you will be my friend, here is my hand. Good fortune or
bad, we will share it together.'
Thus invited, could I refrain? Oh no. I cannot describe the scene
that passed. We did not embrace, for we were no actors; and, as our
passions for a time were too big for utterance, we were silent.
Miss Wilmot at length looked up; and, while the tears were streaming
down her cheeks, her countenance assumed an expression infinitely
beyond smiling, though something like it, while she exclaimed--'This
is a happy day!'
Her eye first met mine, and then Wakefield's. He instantly hung his
head, and said--'Lydia! When we were alone, I could just endure to
look at you: but now I cannot. Yet I am an ass. What is done is done.
The affections that I have are yours: but I must not, no nor I will
not be afraid, even of my own thoughts. I know I have nothing to fear
from you. Man is a strange animal; and may be many things in the
course of a short life.'
Wakefield then rang the bell, and desired the bailiff would send
immediately to Lord Bray's attorney; that my debts might be settled,
and I released; and to call, as he knew they must for form's sake, and
see that there were no more detainers.
Hearing him give these directions, I could not but ask his meaning?
'What,' replied he, with generous indignation, 'do you suppose that I
am come to cant about virtue? That, at least, is a vice of which you
have never yet found me guilty. I am here to pay your debts, with
money in my possession. Whether, in a court of law, it would be proved
to be yours or mine I neither know nor care. But there is something
better that I do know: which is that, if I were in your place and you
in mine, you would not long let me remain in a house like this. With
respect to the future, I am partly persuaded we shall neither of us
act the miser.'
Miss Wilmot again exclaimed--'This is a happy day!'
Wakefield was impatient to see me released; and was well acquainted
with bailiffs. 'If you are expeditious,' said he to George, 'you will
have a guinea for your industry. If you are dilatory, not a farthing
more than your fees.'
The promised guinea gave the messenger wings; and in less than an hour
the debt was discharged, and a receipt in full delivered.
Just as this account was closed, another messenger came from a
different quarter. The anxiety of Miss Wilmot had induced her to take
a bold step. In the first emotions of grief, she wrote to Olivia; and
informed her of every circumstance, as well as of the place of my
detention. This information produced the following letter, and the
bills inclosed; as mentioned in its contents.
'I have no words to speak my feelings. I have never yet had an
opportunity, since I thought the love I bear you justifiable, to
declare them. This is the time. To be silent now would argue a
distrust of you, which would degrade me; and render me unworthy both
of you and the dignified virtues by which your conduct is guided.
Every new fact that I hear of you does but increase that affection;
which I find ennobled by being so worthily placed. After the proofs
you have so repeatedly given, it would be cowardice and hypocrisy to
'I inclose you five hundred pounds. They are my own. I would sooner
even see you suffer than be guilty of an action which I know you could
not approve. They are what I have reserved, from money allowed me,
to be employed on any urgent occasion. Surely there can be few more
urgent than the present. Your refusal of them would wound me to the
soul. It would break my heart. I need not add any thing more.
Who will tell me that virtue is not its own reward? Who will affirm
that to conquer selfish desires, to render the passions subservient to
reason, and to make those principles we commend in others rules for
ourselves, is not the way to be happy? The tide of joy was full to
overflowing! And yet, when I recollected that, though no longer a
prisoner it was denied me to obey the yearnings of my heart and pass
the threshold of Olivia, how suddenly did it ebb!
_A journey to aid Hector once more projected: An interview with the
wounded stranger: A discovery of great importance_
I shall forbear to repeat the joy and congratulations of friends, with
other less events; and hasten to one which gave a more surprising turn
to my affairs than even any that I had yet experienced. The morning
after my release, it was my intention to go down into the county
of ****: agreeable to the desire of Hector. Of this I informed Mr.
Hilary, the evening before: but, as I was become very cautious in
money matters, I meant to go by the coach.
When he heard this, Mr. Hilary smiled: and told me, if I would go
post, he believed he could find me a companion, who would willingly
bear half the expence.
I enquired who? and found it was no other than the stranger. He had
been down into Cambridgeshire, to settle some affairs; and was now
preparing for a journey into my native county, for purposes which he
will himself presently explain. A proposal more agreeable than this
could not have been made to me; and it was agreed that we should meet
and breakfast with Mr. Hilary. When I made the appointment, Mr. Hilary
pressed me with unusual earnestness not to be induced to break it, by
any accident whatever.
The morning came, I was punctual, and the stranger was there. He
had slept at the house of Mr. Hilary. 'This, sir,' said the latter,
presenting me, 'is the young gentleman of whose acquaintance you are
so very desirous.'
The stranger regarded me earnestly; and, with great emotion in his
countenance, asked--'Are you, sir, the humane person, who found me
almost expiring; and by whose care I am now among the living?'
'I hope, sir, you do not think there was any thing extraordinary in
what I did?'
'I wish I had not reason so to think. How many there are who, from
mean and selfish motives, would have passed me I cannot say: but there
are few indeed that would have discharged the office you undertook
with so much unaffected and generous benevolence. I am in your debt,
sir, not only for my recovery, for which I can never repay you, but
literally for money expended. I shall forbear thanks, for I have none
that are adequate; but suffer me to rid myself of petty obligations.'
'I understand, sir, that you are rich, and I am not. I therefore
inform you, without hesitation, I left twenty pounds with the
'You may well suppose that I returned, after my recovery, to enquire
for my preserver. I was then informed of your whole proceedings; and
of the anxiety with which, after your journey, you came to complete
the charitable office you had begun. And I own, sir, that I was so
desirous of seeing a person who, in the very fervour of youth, could
act and feel as you have done that, one excepted, you are the man on
earth I am most happy to meet.'
'Mr. Hilary tells me that we are to be travelling companions.'
'Most willingly. I have long been a wanderer, and am lately returned
to end my days in my native land. During my absence, the elder
branches of my family are all deceased. I brought back with me more
than sufficient for my own wants: but their property has descended to
me, and I now very unexpectedly find myself wealthy.'
'And have you no descendants, sir?'
'None. I am at present in search of a distant relation: whom if I
should find, and find him such as my present hopes and past knowledge
have pictured him, I shall be one of the happiest of men. To make this
and another enquiry is the purpose of the journey I now mean to take.
When I left England, I had no intention ever to return: I therefore
resolved to hold no correspondence with the persons whom I have left;
that I might not revive the memory of scenes and events which had been
full of anguish. By accident, about eighteen months ago, being then at
Grand Cairo I was informed that a person of my family had long been
dead. This determined me to settle my concerns abroad, and revisit my
native country. As however my informer spoke only from report, I am
desirous, before I make myself known, to verify this fact. I have my
reasons; which, from what I have said, you may suspect to be those of
resentment. But not so; they are only what I conceive to be necessary
precautions. Acrimony and anger have long since died away; and I have
but too much cause to condemn those actions of my life in which they
were indulged. The relation, whom I hope to find, I may unfortunately
discover to be more likely to misuse the wealth, that has devolved to
me by the death of the elder branches of my family, than to make it a
blessing to himself and others. It is true he is not my heir at law. I
have no heir: what I possess is at my own disposal. But he was once my
greatest favourite: and I would avoid any action that should excite
hopes which it might be weakness and vice in me to gratify.'
This short narrative was not merely delivered with a serious air; but
it was accompanied with somewhat of a plaintive tone, that rendered
the venerable stranger unusually interesting. It likewise excited
various wild yet not impossible conjectures in my mind, which made me
very eager to pursue the discourse. Mr. Hilary, whose mind had been
full of conjectures mingled with doubt, had not informed him of my
'Is the person,' said I, 'in search of whom you mean to take this
journey young, or old?'
'About four and twenty. He was the son of my wife's sister; therefore
my relation only by marriage. He was certainly the most extraordinary
child I ever beheld. I cannot recollect him but with inconceivable
emotions of affection. Of all the sportive little creatures I ever
met with, he was the most active, the most undaunted, and the most
winning. Heaven bless the sweet boy! He was my delight. My eyes
overflow whenever I recall to mind the feats of his childhood, which
can never be long forgotten by me. My wife and her sister had been at
variance, and the first time I saw him was at a fair; when he was not
five years old. I found him placed on a table, where he stood reading
the newspaper to country farmers; who were collected round him, and
hearing him with astonishment. They seemed to doubt if he could
possibly be a child, born of a woman; and were more inclined to think
him a supernatural being. His flaxen curly hair, his intelligent eyes,
his rosy cheeks, his strong and proportioned limbs, and his cheerful
animated countenance, rendered him the most beautiful and most
endearing of human creatures. The discriminating sensibility which he
displayed was enchanting. Oh should he be living, should I find him,
and should he be at present all that his infancy promised, God of
heaven and earth! I should expire. The pleasure would be too mighty
for my years. But, should I survive it, I should once again before I
die feel the animating fervor of youth.'
I listened in amazement. I was not then acquainted with all the
incidents of my childhood so perfectly as, by hearing them repeated,
I since have been: but I knew enough of them to be persuaded the
discourse that I had heard could relate only to me. I paused. I gazed.
My eyes were riveted upon the narrator. At length I exclaimed--'What I
have just heard, sir, has excited very strange ideas. They seem almost
impossible: and yet I am persuaded they are true. Pardon a question
which I cannot refrain to ask. Surely I cannot be mistaken! Your name
'You are my--'
'Speak! Go on! What am I?'
'Heavens! Mr. Trevor! Is that your name?'
'Oh! God! Oh! God! Oh! God!--Hugh! Little Hugh! My boy! My sweet boy!'
Mr. Elford was almost overcome. In a moment he again cried--'My
saviour too! Still the same! Courageous, humane, generous! All that my
soul could desire! Oh shield me, deliver me from this excess of joy!'
One event only excepted, little remains to be told of my story; and
that one is doubtless anticipated by the imagination of the reader.
To describe the enquiries that passed between me and my uncle, the
various fortunes we had encountered, and the feelings they excited,
would be to write his history and tediously repeat my own. My
difficulties now disappeared. I was the acknowledged heir of a man
of great wealth: therefore, I myself am become a great man. Heaven
preserve me from becoming indolent, proud, and oppressive! I have
not yet forgotten that oppression exists, that pride is its chief
counsellor, that activity and usefulness are the sacred duties of both
rich and poor, that the wealth entrusted to my distribution is the
property of those whom most it can benefit, that I am a creature of
very few wants, but that those few in others as well as in myself are
imperious, and that I have felt them in all their rigour. Neither
have I yet shut my doors on one of my former friends. But I am
comparatively young in prosperity. How long I shall be able to
persevere in this eccentric conduct time must tell. At present I must
proceed, and mention the few remaining circumstances with which the
reader may wish to be acquainted.
After my uncle had heard me describe Olivia, and mention the motives
which induced me to wish to aid her brother, he immediately determined
on taking the journey we had before proposed. We neither of us wished
to separate. Robust in 'a green old age,' he had no fear of fatigue
from travelling this distance; and it would be a pleasure to revisit,
in my company, scenes which would bring my former sports and pranks to
his recollection. He heard from me a confirmation of the death of Mrs.
Elford; and heard it with the same tokens of melancholy in his face
which he had betrayed, when he spoke of her himself.
That I should have wished before I took this journey, short as it was,
to have seen Olivia, related all my good fortune and partaken in the
pleasure it would excite in her, may well be imagined: but forms,
and delicacies, and I know not what habitual feelings, forbad me the
enjoyment of this premature bliss. I wrote however, and not only to
her but to those tried and invaluable friends who were not to be
We found Hector in a lamentable state. Instead of the bluff robust
form, which but shortly before he had worn, his limbs were shrunk, his
cheeks formerly of a high red were wan and hollow, his voice was gone,
his lungs were affected, and his cough was incessant. He had himself
at last begun to think his life in danger; and was preparing to return
to town for advice: consequently our stay was short. His reception
of me however was friendly. The increasing debility which he felt
softened his manners; and, when he understood the good fortune that
had befallen me, he seemed sincerely to rejoice.
And now let me request the reader to call to mind, not only my first
emotions of love for Olivia, and the violence of the passion that
preyed upon me while struggling between hope and despair, but those
late testimonies of affection, such as a mind so dignified as hers
could bestow; and then let him imagine what our meeting must be.
Should he expect me to describe her, such as she was and is, in all
her attractions, all her beauties, and all her various excellence, he
expects an impossible task. To be beloved by her, to be found worthy
of her, and to call her mine, are blessings that infinitely exceed
momentary rapture: they are lasting and indubitable happiness.
I know not if it will give him pleasure to be told that, could I