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  • 1816
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breeze from N.E. and by N. steal over his cheek like the south over a bank of violets; therefore, on walked the philosopher, with his coat unbuttoned and his hat in his hand, careless of whither he went, till he found himself near the enclosure of a little mountain chapel. Passing through the wicket, and stepping over two or three graves, he stood on a rustic tombstone, and peeped through the chapel window, examining the interior with as much curiosity as if he had “forgotten what the inside of a church was made of,” which, it is rather to be feared, was the case. Before him and beneath him were the font, the altar, and the grave; which gave rise to a train of moral reflections on the three great epochs in the course of the _featherless biped_,–birth, marriage, and death. The middle stage of the process arrested his attention; and his imagination placed before him several figures, which he thought, with the addition of his own, would make a very picturesque group; the beautiful Cephalis, “arrayed in her bridal apparel of white;” her friend Caprioletta officiating as bridemaid; Mr Cranium giving her away; and, last, not least, the Reverend Doctor Gaster, intoning the marriage ceremony with the regular orthodox allowance of nasal recitative. Whilst he was feasting his eyes on this imaginary picture, the demon of mistrust insinuated himself into the storehouse of his conceptions, and, removing his figure from the group, substituted that of Mr Panscope, which gave such a violent shock to his feelings, that he suddenly exclaimed, with an extraordinary elevation of voice, _Oimoi kakodaimon, kai tris kakodaimon, kai tetrakis, kai pentakis, kai dodekakis, kai muriakis!_[9.1] to the great terror of the sexton, who was just entering the churchyard, and, not knowing from whence the voice proceeded, _pensa que fut un diableteau_. The sight of the philosopher dispelled his apprehensions, when, growing suddenly valiant, he immediately addressed him:–

“Cot pless your honour, I should n’t have thought of meeting any pody here at this time of the morning, except, look you, it was the tevil–who, to pe sure, toes not often come upon consecrated cround–put for all that, I think I have seen him now and then, in former tays, when old Nanny Llwyd of Llyn-isa was living–Cot teliver us! a terriple old witch to pe sure she was–I tid n’t much like tigging her crave–put I prought two cocks with me–the tevil hates cocks–and tied them py the leg on two tombstones–and I tug, and the cocks crowed, and the tevil kept at a tistance. To pe sure now, if I had n’t peen very prave py nature–as I ought to pe truly–for my father was Owen Ap-Llwyd Ap-Gryffydd Ap-Shenkin Ap-Williams Ap-Thomas Ap-Morgan Ap-Parry Ap-Evan Ap-Rhys, a coot preacher and a lover of _cwrw_[9.2]–I should have thought just now pefore I saw your honour, that the foice I heard was the tevil’s calling Nanny Llwyd–Cot pless us! to pe sure she should have been puried in the middle of the river, where the tevil can’t come, as your honour fery well knows.”

“I am perfectly aware of it,” said Mr Escot.

“True, true,” continued the sexton; “put to pe sure, Owen Thomas of Morfa-Bach will have it that one summer evening–when he went over to Cwm Cynfael in Meirionnydd, apout some cattles he wanted to puy–he saw a strange figure–pless us!–with five horns!–Cot save us! sitting on Hugh Llwyd’s pulpit, which, your honour fery well knows, is a pig rock in the middle of the river—-“

“Of course he was mistaken,” said Mr Escot.

“To pe sure he was,” said the sexton. “For there is no toubt put the tevil, when Owen Thomas saw him, must have peen sitting on a piece of rock in a straight line from him on the other side of the river, where he used to sit, look you, for a whole summer’s tay, while Hugh Llwyd was on his pulpit, and there they used to talk across the water! for Hugh Llwyd, please your honour, never raised the tevil except when he was safe in the middle of the river, which proves that Owen Thomas, in his fright, did n’t pay proper attention to the exact spot where the tevil was.”

The sexton concluded his speech with an approving smile at his own sagacity, in so luminously expounding the nature of Owen Thomas’s mistake.

“I perceive,” said Mr Escot, “you have a very deep insight into things, and can, therefore, perhaps, facilitate the resolution of a question, concerning which, though I have little doubt on the subject, I am desirous of obtaining the most extensive and accurate information.”

The sexton scratched his head, the language of Mr Escot not being to his apprehension quite so luminous as his own.

“You have been sexton here,” continued Mr Escot, in the language of Hamlet, “man and boy, forty years.”

The sexton turned pale. The period Mr Escot named was so nearly the true one, that he began to suspect the personage before him of being rather too familiar with Hugh Llwyd’s sable visitor. Recovering himself a little, he said, “Why, thereapouts, sure enough.”

“During this period, you have of course dug up many bones of the people of ancient times.”

“Pones! Cot pless you, yes! pones as old as the ‘orlt.”

“Perhaps you can show me a few.”

The sexton grinned horribly a ghastly smile. “Will you take your Pible oath you ton’t want them to raise the tevil with?”

“Willingly,” said Mr Escot, smiling; “I have an abstruse reason for the inquiry.”

“Why, if you have an _obtuse_ reason,” said the sexton, who thought this a good opportunity to show that he could pronounce hard words as well as other people; “if you have an _obtuse_ reason, that alters the case.”

So saying he lead the way to the bone-house, from which he began to throw out various bones and skulls of more than common dimensions, and amongst them a skull of very extraordinary magnitude, which he swore by St David was the skull of Cadwallader.

“How do you know this to be his skull?” said Mr Escot.

“He was the piggest man that ever lived, and he was puried here; and this is the piggest skull I ever found: you see now—-“

“Nothing can be more logical,” said Mr Escot. “My good friend will you allow me to take this skull away with me?”

“St Winifred pless us!” exclaimed the sexton, “would you have me haunted py his chost for taking his plessed pones out of consecrated cround? Would you have him come in the tead of the night, and fly away with the roof of my house? Would you have all the crop of my carden come to nothing? for, look you, his epitaph says,

“He that my pones shall ill pestow, Leek in his cround shall never crow.”

“You will ill bestow them,” said Mr Escot, “in confounding them with those of the sons of little men, the degenerate dwarfs of later generations; you will well bestow them in giving them to me: for I will have this illustrious skull bound with a silver rim, and filled with mantling wine, with this inscription, NUNC TANDEM: signifying that that pernicious liquor has at length found its proper receptacle; for, when the wine is in, the brain is out.”

Saying these words, he put a dollar into the hands of the sexton, who instantly stood spellbound by the talismanic influence of the coin, while Mr Escot walked off in triumph with the skull of Cadwallader.

The Skull

When Mr Escot entered the breakfast-room he found the majority of the party assembled, and the little butler very active at his station. Several of the ladies shrieked at the sight of the skull; and Miss Tenorina, starting up in great haste and terror, caused the subversion of a cup of chocolate, which a servant was handing to the Reverend Doctor Gaster, into the nape of the neck of Sir Patrick O’Prism. Sir Patrick, rising impetuously, _to clap an extinguisher_, as he expressed himself, _on the farthing rushlight of the rascal’s life_, pushed over the chair of Marmaduke Milestone, Esquire, who, catching for support at the first thing that came in his way, which happened unluckily to be the corner of the table-cloth, drew it instantaneously with him to the floor, involving plates, cups and saucers, in one promiscuous ruin. But, as the principal _materiel_ of the breakfast apparatus was on the little butler’s side-table, the confusion occasioned by this accident was happily greater than the damage. Miss Tenorina was so agitated that she was obliged to retire: Miss Graziosa accompanied her through pure sisterly affection and sympathy, not without a lingering look at Sir Patrick, who likewise retired to change his coat, but was very expeditious in returning to resume his attack on the cold partridge. The broken cups were cleared away, the cloth relaid, and the array of the table restored with wonderful celerity.

Mr Escot was a little surprised at the scene of confusion which signalised his entrance; but, perfectly unconscious that it originated with the skull of Cadwallader, he advanced to seat himself at the table by the side of the beautiful Cephalis, first placing the skull in a corner, out of the reach of Mr Cranium, who sate eyeing it with lively curiosity, and after several efforts to restrain his impatience, exclaimed, “You seem to have found a rarity.”

“A rarity indeed,” said Mr Escot, cracking an egg as he spoke; “no less than the genuine and indubitable skull of Cadwallader.”

“The skull of Cadwallader!” vociferated Mr Cranium; “O treasure of treasures!”

Mr Escot then detailed by what means he had become possessed of it, which gave birth to various remarks from the other individuals of the party: after which, rising from table, and taking the skull again in his hand,

“This skull,” said he, “is the skull of a hero, _palai katatethneiotos_[10.1], and sufficiently demonstrates a point, concerning which I never myself entertained a doubt, that the human race is undergoing a gradual process of diminution, in length, breadth, and thickness. Observe this skull. Even the skull of our reverend friend, which is the largest and thickest in the company, is not more than half its size. The frame this skull belonged to could scarcely have been less than nine feet high. Such is the lamentable progress of degeneracy and decay. In the course of ages, a boot of the present generation would form an ample chateau for a large family of our remote posterity. The mind, too, participates in the contraction of the body. Poets and philosophers of all ages and nations have lamented this too visible process of physical and moral deterioration. ‘The sons of little men’, says Ossian. ‘_Oioi nun brotoi eisin_,’ says Homer: ‘such men as live in these degenerate days.’ ‘All things,’ says Virgil, ‘have a retrocessive tendency, and grow worse and worse by the inevitable doom of fate.'[10.2] ‘We live in the ninth age,’ says Juvenal, ‘an age worse than the age of iron; nature has no metal sufficiently pernicious to give a denomination to its wickedness.'[10.3] ‘Our fathers,’ says Horace, ‘worse than our grandfathers, have given birth to us, their more vicious progeny, who, in our turn, shall become the parents of a still viler generation.'[10.4] You all know the fable of the buried Pict, who bit off the end of a pickaxe, with which sacrilegious hands were breaking open his grave, and called out with a voice like subterranean thunder, _I perceive the degeneracy of your race by the smallness of your little finger!_ videlicet, the pickaxe. This, to be sure, is a fiction; but it shows the prevalent opinion, the feeling, the conviction, of absolute, universal, irremediable deterioration.”

“I should be sorry,” said Mr Foster, “that such an opinion should become universal, independently of my conviction of its fallacy. Its general admission would tend, in a great measure, to produce the very evils it appears to lament. What could be its effect, but to check the ardour of investigation, to extinguish the zeal of philanthropy, to freeze the current of enterprising hope, to bury in the torpor of scepticism and in the stagnation of despair, every better faculty of the human mind, which will necessarily become retrograde in ceasing to be progressive?”

“I am inclined to think, on the contrary,” said Mr Escot, “that the deterioration of man is accelerated by his blindness–in many respects wilful blindness–to the truth of the fact itself, and to the causes which produce it; that there is no hope whatever of ameliorating his condition but in a total and radical change of the whole scheme of human life, and that the advocates of his indefinite perfectibility are in reality the greatest enemies to the practical possibility of their own system, by so strenuously labouring to impress on his attention that he is going on in a good way, while he is really in a deplorably bad one.”

“I admit,” said Mr Foster, “there are many things that may, and therefore will, be changed for the better.”

“Not on the present system,” said Mr Escot, “in which every change is for the worse.”

“In matters of taste I am sure it is,” said Mr Gall: “there is, in fact, no such thing as good taste left in the world.”

“Oh, Mr Gall!” said Miss Philomela Poppyseed, “I thought my novel—-“

“My paintings,” said Sir Patrick O’Prism—-

“My ode,” said Mr Mac Laurel—-

“My ballad,” said Mr Nightshade—-

“My plan for Lord Littlebrain’s park,” said Marmaduke Milestone, Esquire—-

“My essay,” said Mr Treacle—-

“My sonata,” said Mr Chromatic—-

“My claret,” said Squire Headlong—-

“My lectures,” said Mr Cranium—-

“Vanity of vanities,” said the Reverend Doctor Gaster, turning down an empty egg-shell; “all is vanity and vexation of spirit.”

The Anniversary

Among the _dies alba creta notandos_, which the beau monde of the Cambrian mountains was in the habit of remembering with the greatest pleasure, and anticipating with the most lively satisfaction, was the Christmas ball which the ancient family of the Headlongs had been accustomed to give from time immemorial. Tradition attributed the honour of its foundation to Headlong Ap-Headlong Ap-Breakneck Ap-Headlong Ap-Cataract Ap-Pistyll Ap-Rhaidr[11.1] Ap-Headlong, who lived about the time of the Trojan war. Certain it is, at least, that a grand chorus was always sung after supper in honour of this illustrious ancestor of the squire. This ball was, indeed, an aera in the lives of all the beauty and fashion of Caernarvon, Meirionnydd, and Anglesea, and, like the Greek Olympiads and the Roman consulates, served as the main pillar of memory, round which all the events of the year were suspended and entwined. Thus, in recalling to mind any circumstance imperfectly recollected, the principal point to be ascertained was, whether it had occurred in the year of the first, second, third, or fourth ball of Headlong Ap-Breakneck, or Headlong Ap-Torrent, or Headlong Ap-Hurricane; and, this being satisfactorily established, the remainder followed of course in the natural order of its ancient association.

This eventful anniversary being arrived, every chariot, coach, barouche and barouchette, landau and landaulet, chaise, curricle, buggy, whiskey, and tilbury, of the three counties, was in motion: not a horse was left idle within five miles of any gentleman’s seat, from the high-mettled hunter to the heath-cropping galloway. The ferrymen of the Menai were at their stations before daybreak, taking a double allowance of rum and _cwrw_ to strengthen them for the fatigues of the day. The ivied towers of Caernarvon, the romantic woods of Tan-y-bwlch, the heathy hills of Kernioggau, the sandy shores of Tremadoc, the mountain recesses of Bedd-Gelert, and the lonely lakes of Capel-Cerig, re-echoed to the voices of the delighted ostlers and postillions, who reaped on this happy day their wintry harvest. Landlords and landladies, waiters, chambermaids, and toll-gate keepers, roused themselves from the torpidity which the last solitary tourist, flying with the yellow leaves on the wings of the autumnal wind, had left them to enjoy till the returning spring: the bustle of August was renewed on all the mountain roads, and, in the meanwhile, Squire Headlong and his little fat butler carried most energetically into effect the lessons of the _savant_ in the Court of Quintessence, _qui par engin mirificque jectoit les maisons par les fenestres_[11.2].

It was the custom for the guests to assemble at dinner on the day of the ball, and depart on the following morning after breakfast. Sleep during this interval was out of the question: the ancient harp of Cambria suspended the celebration of the noble race of Shenkin, and the songs of Hoel and Cyveilioc, to ring to the profaner but more lively modulation of _Voulez vous danser, Mademoiselle?_ in conjunction with the symphonious scraping of fiddles, the tinkling of triangles, and the beating of tambourines. Comus and Momus were the deities of the night; and Bacchus of course was not forgotten by the male part of the assembly (with them, indeed, a ball was invariably a scene of “_tipsy dance and jollity_”): the servants flew about with wine and negus, and the little butler was indefatigable with his corkscrew, which is reported on one occasion to have grown so hot under the influence of perpetual friction that it actually set fire to the cork.

The company assembled. The dinner, which on this occasion was a secondary object, was despatched with uncommon celerity. When the cloth was removed, and the bottle had taken its first round, Mr Cranium stood up and addressed the company.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said he, “the golden key of mental phaenomena, which has lain buried for ages in the deepest vein of the mine of physiological research, is now, by a happy combination of practical and speculative investigations, grasped, if I may so express myself, firmly and inexcusably, in the hands of physiognomical empiricism.” The Cambrian visitors listened with profound attention, not comprehending a single syllable he said, but concluding he would finish his speech by proposing the health of Squire Headlong. The gentlemen accordingly tossed off their heeltaps, and Mr Cranium proceeded: “Ardently desirous, to the extent of my feeble capacity, of disseminating as much as possible, the inexhaustible treasures to which this golden key admits the humblest votary of philosophical truth, I invite you, when you have sufficiently restored, replenished, refreshed, and exhilarated that osteosarchaematosplanchnochondroneuromuelous, or to employ a more intelligible term, osseocarnisanguineoviscericartilaginonervomedullary, _compages_, or shell, the body, which at once envelopes and developes that mysterious and inestimable kernel, the desiderative, determinative, ratiocinative, imaginative, inquisitive, appetitive, comparative, reminiscent, congeries of ideas and notions, simple and compound, comprised in the comprehensive denomination of mind, to take a peep with me into the mechanical arcana of the anatomico-metaphysical universe. Being not in the least dubitative of your spontaneous compliance, I proceed,” added he, suddenly changing his tone, “to get everything ready in the library.” Saying these words, he vanished.

The Welsh squires now imagined they had caught a glimpse of his meaning, and set him down in their minds for a sort of gentleman conjuror, who intended to amuse them before the ball with some tricks of legerdemain. Under this impression, they became very impatient to follow him, as they had made up their minds not to be drunk before supper. The ladies, too, were extremely curious to witness an exhibition which had been announced in so singular a preamble; and the squire, having previously insisted on every gentleman tossing off a half-pint bumper, adjourned the whole party to the library, where they were not a little surprised to discover Mr Cranium seated, in a pensive attitude, at a large table, decorated with a copious variety of skulls.

Some of the ladies were so much shocked at this extraordinary display, that a scene of great confusion ensued. Fans were very actively exercised, and water was strenuously called for by some of the most officious of the gentlemen; on which the little butler entered with a large allowance of liquid, which bore, indeed, the name of _water_, but was in reality a very powerful spirit. This was the only species of water which the little butler had ever heard called for in Headlong Hall. The mistake was not attended with any evil effects: for the fluid was no sooner applied to the lips of the fainting fair ones, than it resuscitated them with an expedition truly miraculous.

Order was at length restored; the audience took their seats, and the craniological orator held forth in the following terms:

The Lecture

“Physiologists have been much puzzled to account for the varieties of moral character in men, as well as for the remarkable similarity of habit and disposition in all the individual animals of every other respective species. A few brief sentences, perspicuously worded, and scientifically arranged, will enumerate all the characteristics of a lion, or a tiger, or a wolf, or a bear, or a squirrel, or a goat, or a horse, or an ass, or a rat, or a cat, or a hog, or a dog; and whatever is physiologically predicted of any individual lion, tiger, wolf, bear, squirrel, goat, horse, ass, hog, or dog, will be found to hold true of all lions, tigers, wolves, bears, squirrels, goats, horses, asses, hogs, and dogs, whatsoever. Now, in man, the very reverse of this appears to be the case; for he has so few distinct and characteristic marks which hold true of all his species, that philosophers in all ages have found it a task of infinite difficulty to give him a definition. Hence one has defined him to be a _featherless biped_, a definition which is equally applicable to an unfledged fowl: another to be _an animal which forms opinions_, than which nothing can be more inaccurate, for a very small number of the species form opinions, and the remainder take them upon trust, without investigation or inquiry.

“Again, man has been defined to be _an animal that carries a stick_: an attribute which undoubtedly belongs to man only, but not to all men always; though it uniformly characterises some of the graver and more imposing varieties, such as physicians, oran-outangs, and lords in waiting.

“We cannot define man to be a reasoning animal, for we do not dispute that idiots are men; to say nothing of that very numerous description of persons who consider themselves reasoning animals, and are so denominated by the ironical courtesy of the world, who labour, nevertheless, under a very gross delusion in that essential particular.

“It appears to me that man may be correctly defined an animal, which, without any peculiar or distinguishing faculty of its own, is, as it were, a bundle or compound of faculties of other animals, by a distinct enumeration of which any individual of the species may be satisfactorily described. This is manifest, even in the ordinary language of conversation, when, in summing up, for example, the qualities of an accomplished courtier, we say he has the vanity of a peacock, the cunning of a fox, the treachery of an hyaena, the cold-heartedness of a cat, and the servility of a jackal. That this is perfectly consentaneous to scientific truth, will appear in the further progress of these observations.

“Every particular faculty of the mind has its corresponding organ in the brain. In proportion as any particular faculty or propensity acquires paramount activity in any individual, these organs develope themselves, and their development becomes externally obvious by corresponding lumps and bumps, exuberances and protuberances, on the osseous compages of the occiput and sinciput. In all animals but man, the same organ is equally developed in every individual of the species: for instance, that of migration in the swallow, that of destruction in the tiger, that of architecture in the beaver, and that of parental affection in the bear. The human brain, however, consists, as I have said, of a bundle or compound of all the faculties of all other animals; and from the greater development of one or more of these, in the infinite varieties of combination, result all the peculiarities of individual character.

“Here is the skull of a beaver, and that of Sir Christopher Wren. You observe, in both these specimens, the prodigious development of the organ of constructiveness.

“Here is the skull of a bullfinch, and that of an eminent fiddler. You may compare the organ of music.

“Here is the skull of a tiger. You observe the organ of carnage. Here is the skull of a fox. You observe the organ of plunder. Here is the skull of a peacock. You observe the organ of vanity. Here is the skull of an illustrious robber, who, after a long and triumphant process of depredation and murder, was suddenly checked in his career by means of a certain quality inherent in preparations of hemp, which, for the sake of perspicuity, I shall call _suspensiveness_. Here is the skull of a conqueror, who, after over-running several kingdoms, burning a number of cities, and causing the deaths of two or three millions of men, women, and children, was entombed with all the pageantry of public lamentation, and figured as the hero of several thousand odes and a round dozen of epics; while the poor highwayman was twice executed–

‘At the gallows first, and after in a ballad, Sung to a villainous tune.’

“You observe, in both these skulls, the combined development of the organs of carnage, plunder, and vanity, which I have separately pointed out in the tiger, the fox, and the peacock. The greater enlargement of the organ of vanity in the hero is the only criterion by which I can distinguish them from each other. Born with the same faculties, and the same propensities, these two men were formed by nature to run the same career: the different combinations of external circumstances decided the differences of their destinies.

“Here is the skull of a Newfoundland dog. You observe the organ of benevolence, and that of attachment. Here is a human skull, in which you may observe a very striking negation of both these organs; and an equally striking development of those of destruction, cunning, avarice, and self-love. This was one of the most illustrious statesmen that ever flourished in the page of history.

“Here is the skull of a turnspit, which, after a wretched life of _dirty work_, was turned out of doors to die on a dunghill. I have been induced to preserve it, in consequence of its remarkable similarity to this, which belonged to a courtly poet, who having grown grey in flattering the great, was cast off in the same manner to perish by the same catastrophe.”

_After these, and several other illustrations, during which the skulls were handed round for the inspection of the company, Mr Cranium proceeded thus:–_

“It is obvious, from what I have said, that no man can hope for worldly honour or advancement, who is not placed in such a relation to external circumstances as may be consentaneous to his peculiar cerebral organs; and I would advise every parent, who has the welfare of his son at heart, to procure as extensive a collection as possible of the skulls of animals, and, before determining on the choice of a profession, to compare with the utmost nicety their bumps and protuberances with those of the skull of his son. If the development of the organ of destruction point out a similarity between the youth and the tiger, let him be brought to some profession (whether that of a butcher, a soldier, or a physician, may be regulated by circumstances) in which he may be furnished with a licence to kill: as, without such licence, the indulgence of his natural propensity may lead to the untimely rescission of his vital thread, ‘with edge of penny cord and vile reproach.’ If he show an analogy with the jackal, let all possible influence be used to procure him a place at court, where he will infallibly thrive. If his skull bear a marked resemblance to that of a magpie, it cannot be doubted that he will prove an admirable lawyer; and if with this advantageous conformation be combined any similitude to that of an owl, very confident hopes may be formed of his becoming a judge.”

A furious flourish of music was now heard from the ball-room, the squire having secretly dispatched the little butler to order it to strike up, by way of a hint to Mr Cranium to finish his harangue. The company took the hint and adjourned tumultuously, having just understood as much of the lecture as furnished them with amusement for the ensuing twelvemonth, in feeling the skulls of all their acquaintance.

The Ball

The ball-room was adorned with great taste and elegance, under the direction of Miss Caprioletta and her friend Miss Cephalis, who were themselves its most beautiful ornaments, even though romantic Meirion, the pre-eminent in loveliness, sent many of its loveliest daughters to grace the festive scene. Numberless were the solicitations of the dazzled swains of Cambria for the honour of the two first dances with the one or the other of these fascinating friends; but little availed, on this occasion, the pedigree lineally traced from Caractacus or King Arthur; their two philosophical lovers, neither of whom could have given the least account of his great-great-grandfather, had engaged them many days before. Mr Panscope chafed and fretted like Llugwy in his bed of rocks, when the object of his adoration stood up with his rival: but he consoled himself with a lively damsel from the vale of Edeirnion, having first compelled Miss Cephalis to promise him her hand for the fourth set.

The ball was accordingly opened by Miss Caprioletta and Mr Foster, which gave rise to much speculation among the Welsh gentry, as to who this Mr Foster could be; some of the more learned among them secretly resolving to investigate most profoundly the antiquity of the name of Foster, and ascertain what right a person so denominated could have to open the most illustrious of all possible balls with the lovely Caprioletta Headlong, the only sister of Harry Headlong, Esquire, of Headlong Hall, in the Vale of Llanberris, the only surviving male representative of the antediluvian family of Headlong Ap-Rhaiader.

When the first two dances were ended, Mr Escot, who did not choose to dance with any one but his adorable Cephalis, looking round for a convenient seat, discovered Mr Jenkison in a corner by the side of the Reverend Doctor Gaster, who was keeping excellent time with his nose to the lively melody of the harp and fiddle. Mr Escot seated himself by the side of Mr Jenkison, and inquired if he took no part in the amusement of the night?

_Mr Jenkison._
No. The universal cheerfulness of the company induces me to rise; the trouble of such violent exercise induces me to sit still. Did I see a young lady in want of a partner, gallantry would incite me to offer myself as her devoted knight for half an hour: but, as I perceive there are enough without me, that motive is null. I have been weighing these points _pro_ and _con_, and remain _in statu quo_.

_Mr Escot._
I have danced, contrary to my system, as I have done many other things since I have been here, from a motive that you will easily guess. (_Mr Jenkison smiled._) I have great objections to dancing. The wild and original man is a calm and contemplative animal. The stings of natural appetite alone rouse him to action. He satisfies his hunger with roots and fruits, unvitiated by the malignant adhibition of fire, and all its diabolical processes of elixion and assation; he slakes his thirst in the mountain-stream, _summisgetai tae epituchousae_, and returns to his peaceful state of meditative repose.

_Mr Jenkison._
Like the metaphysical statue of Condillac.

_Mr Escot._
With all its senses and purely natural faculties developed, certainly. Imagine this tranquil and passionless being, occupied in his first meditation on the simple question of _Where am I? Whence do I come? And what is the end of my existence?_ Then suddenly place before him a chandelier, a fiddler, and a magnificent beau in silk stockings and pumps, bounding, skipping, swinging, capering, and throwing himself into ten thousand attitudes, till his face glows with fever, and distils with perspiration: the first impulse excited in his mind by such an apparition will be that of violent fear, which, by the reiterated perception of its harmlessness, will subside into simple astonishment. Then let any genius, sufficiently powerful to impress on his mind all the terms of the communication, impart to him, that after a long process of ages, when his race shall have attained what some people think proper to denominate a very advanced stage of perfectibility, the most favoured and distinguished of the community shall meet by hundreds, to grin, and labour, and gesticulate, like the phantasma before him, from sunset to sunrise, while all nature is at rest, and that they shall consider this a happy and pleasurable mode of existence, and furnishing the most delightful of all possible contrasts to what they will call his vegetative state: would he not groan from his inmost soul for the lamentable condition of his posterity?

_Mr Jenkison._
I know not what your wild and original man might think of the matter in the abstract; but comparatively, I conceive, he would be better pleased with the vision of such a scene as this, than with that of a party of Indians (who would have all the advantage of being nearly as wild as himself), dancing their infernal war-dance round a midnight fire in a North American forest.

_Mr Escot._
Not if you should impart to him the true nature of both, by laying open to his view the springs of action in both parties.

_Mr Jenkison._
To do this with effect, you must make him a profound metaphysician, and thus transfer him at once from his wild and original state to a very advanced stage of intellectual progression; whether that progression be towards good or evil, I leave you and our friend Foster to settle between you.

_Mr Escot._
I wish to make no change in his habits and feelings, but to give him, hypothetically, so much mental illumination, as will enable him to take a clear view of two distinct stages of the deterioration of his posterity, that he may be enabled to compare them with each other, and with his own more happy condition. The Indian, dancing round the midnight fire, is very far deteriorated; but the magnificent beau, dancing to the light of chandeliers, is infinitely more so. The Indian is a hunter: he makes great use of fire, and subsists almost entirely on animal food. The malevolent passions that spring from these pernicious habits involve him in perpetual war. He is, therefore, necessitated, for his own preservation, to keep all the energies of his nature in constant activity: to this end his midnight war-dance is very powerfully subservient, and, though in itself a frightful spectacle, is at least justifiable on the iron plea of necessity.

_Mr Jenkison._
On the same iron plea, the modern system of dancing is more justifiable. The Indian dances to prepare himself for killing his enemy: but while the beaux and belles of our assemblies dance, they are in the very act of killing theirs–TIME!–a more inveterate and formidable foe than any the Indian has to contend with; for, however completely and ingeniously killed, he is sure to rise again, “with twenty mortal murders on his crown,” leading his army of blue devils, with ennui in the van, and vapours in the rear.

_Mr Escot._
Your observation militates on my side of the question; and it is a strong argument in favour of the Indian, that he has no such enemy to kill.

_Mr Jenkison._
There is certainly a great deal to be said against dancing: there is also a great deal to be said in its favour. The first side of the question I leave for the present to you: on the latter, I may venture to allege that no amusement seems more natural and more congenial to youth than this. It has the advantage of bringing young persons of both sexes together, in a manner which its publicity renders perfectly unexceptionable, enabling them to see and know each other better than, perhaps, any other mode of general association. _Tete-a-tetes_ are dangerous things. Small family parties are too much under mutual observation. A ball-room appears to me almost the only scene uniting that degree of rational and innocent liberty of intercourse, which it is desirable to promote as much as possible between young persons, with that scrupulous attention to the delicacy and propriety of female conduct, which I consider the fundamental basis of all our most valuable social relations.

_Mr Escot._
There would be some plausibility in your argument, if it were not the very essence of this species of intercourse to exhibit them to each other under false colours. Here all is show, and varnish, and hypocrisy, and coquetry; they dress up their moral character for the evening at the same toilet where they manufacture their shapes and faces. Ill-temper lies buried under a studied accumulation of smiles. Envy, hatred, and malice, retreat from the countenance, to entrench themselves more deeply in the heart. Treachery lurks under the flowers of courtesy. Ignorance and folly take refuge in that unmeaning gabble which it would be profanation to call language, and which even those whom long experience in “the dreary intercourse of daily life” has screwed up to such a pitch of stoical endurance that they can listen to it by the hour, have branded with the ignominious appellation of “_small talk_.” Small indeed!–the absolute minimum of the infinitely little.

_Mr Jenkison._
Go on. I have said all I intended to say on the favourable side. I shall have great pleasure in hearing you balance the argument.

_Mr Escot._
I expect you to confess that I shall have more than balanced it. A ball-room is an epitome of all that is most worthless and unamiable in the great sphere of human life. Every petty and malignant passion is called into play. Coquetry is perpetually on the alert to captivate, caprice to mortify, and vanity to take offence. One amiable female is rendered miserable for the evening by seeing another, whom she intended to outshine, in a more attractive dress than her own; while the other omits no method of giving stings to her triumph, which she enjoys with all the secret arrogance of an oriental sultana. Another is compelled to dance with a _monster_ she abhors. A third has set her heart on dancing with a particular partner, perhaps for the amiable motive of annoying one of her _dear friends_: not only he does not ask her, but she sees him dancing with that identical _dear friend_, whom from that moment she hates more cordially than ever. Perhaps, what is worse than all, she has set her heart on refusing some impertinent fop, who does not give her the opportunity.–As to the men, the case is very nearly the same with them. To be sure, they have the privilege of making the first advances, and are, therefore, less liable to have an odious partner forced upon them; though this sometimes happens, as I know by woeful experience: but it is seldom they can procure the very partner they prefer; and when they do, the absurd necessity of changing every two dances forces them away, and leaves them only the miserable alternative of taking up with something disagreeable perhaps in itself, and at all events rendered so by contrast, or of retreating into some solitary corner, to vent their spleen on the first idle coxcomb they can find.

_Mr Jenkison._
I hope that is not the motive which brings you to me.

_Mr Escot._
Clearly not. But the most afflicting consideration of all is, that these malignant and miserable feelings are masked under that uniform disguise of pretended benevolence, _that fine and delicate irony, called politeness, which gives so much ease and pliability to the mutual intercourse of civilised man, and enables him to assume the appearance of every virtue without the reality of one_.[13.1]

The second set of dances was now terminated, and Mr Escot flew off to reclaim the hand of the beautiful Cephalis, with whom he figured away with surprising alacrity, and probably felt at least as happy among the chandeliers and silk stockings, at which he had just been railing, as he would have been in an American forest, making one in an Indian ring, by the light of a blazing fire, even though his hand had been locked in that of the most beautiful _squaw_ that ever listened to the roar of Niagara.

Squire Headlong was now beset by his maiden aunt, Miss Brindle-mew Grimalkin Phoebe Tabitha Ap-Headlong, on one side, and Sir Patrick O’Prism on the other; the former insisting that he should immediately procure her a partner; the latter earnestly requesting the same interference in behalf of Miss Philomela Poppyseed. The squire thought to emancipate himself from his two petitioners by making them dance with each other; but Sir Patrick vehemently pleading a prior engagement, the squire threw his eyes around till they alighted on Mr Jenkison and the Reverend Doctor Gaster; both of whom, after waking the latter, he pressed into the service. The doctor, arising with a strange kind of guttural sound, which was half a yawn and half a groan, was handed by the officious squire to Miss Philomela, who received him with sullen dignity: she had not yet forgotten his falling asleep during the first chapter of her novel, while she was condescending to detail to him the outlines of four superlative volumes. The doctor, on his part, had most completely forgotten it; and though he thought there was something in her physiognomy rather more forbidding than usual, he gave himself no concern about the cause, and had not the least suspicion that it was at all connected with himself. Miss Brindle-mew was very well contented with Mr Jenkison, and gave him two or three ogles, accompanied by a most risible distortion of the countenance which she intended for a captivating smile. As to Mr Jenkison, it was all one to him with whom he danced, or whether he danced or not: he was therefore just as well pleased as if he had been left alone in his corner; which is probably more than could have been said of any other human being under similar circumstances.

At the end of the third set, supper was announced; and the party, pairing off like turtles, adjourned to the supper-room. The squire was now the happiest of mortal men, and the little butler the most laborious. The centre of the largest table was decorated with a model of Snowdon, surmounted with an enormous artificial leek, the leaves of angelica, and the bulb of blancmange. A little way from the summit was a tarn, or mountain-pool, supplied through concealed tubes with an inexhaustible flow of milk-punch, which, dashing in cascades down the miniature rocks, fell into the more capacious lake below, washing the mimic foundations of Headlong Hall. The reverend doctor handed Miss Philomela to the chair most conveniently situated for enjoying this interesting scene, protesting he had never before been sufficiently impressed with the magnificence of that mountain, which he now perceived to be well worthy of all the fame it had obtained.

“Now, when they had eaten and were satisfied,” Squire Headlong called on Mr Chromatic for a song; who, with the assistance of his two accomplished daughters, regaled the ears of the company with the following


Grey Twilight, from her shadowy hill, Discolours Nature’s vernal bloom,
And sheds on grove, and field, and rill, One placid tint of deepening gloom.

The sailor sighs ‘mid shoreless seas, Touched by the thought of friends afar, As, fanned by ocean’s flowing breeze,
He gazes on the western star.

The wanderer hears, in pensive dream, The accents of the last farewell,
As, pausing by the mountain stream, He listens to the evening bell.

This terzetto was of course much applauded; Mr Milestone observing, that he thought the figure in the last verse would have been more picturesque, if it had been represented with its arms folded and its back against a tree; or leaning on its staff, with a cockle-shell in its hat, like a pilgrim of ancient times.

Mr Chromatic professed himself astonished that a gentleman of genuine modern taste, like Mr Milestone, should consider the words of a song of any consequence whatever, seeing that they were at the best only a species of pegs, for the more convenient suspension of crotchets and quavers. This remark drew on him a very severe reprimand from Mr Mac Laurel, who said to him, “Dinna ye ken, sir, that soond is a thing utterly worthless in itsel, and only effectual in agreeable excitements, as far as it is an aicho to sense? Is there ony soond mair meeserable an’ peetifu’ than the scrape o’ a feddle, when it does na touch ony chord i’ the human sensorium? Is there ony mair divine than the deep note o’ a bagpipe, when it breathes the auncient meelodies o’ leeberty an’ love? It is true, there are peculiar trains o’ feeling an’ sentiment, which parteecular combinations o’ meelody are calculated to excite; an’ sae far music can produce its effect without words: but it does na follow, that, when ye put words to it, it becomes a matter of indefference what they are; for a gude strain of impassioned poetry will greatly increase the effect, and a tessue o’ nonsensical doggrel will destroy it a’ thegither. Noo, as gude poetry can produce its effect without music, sae will gude music without poetry; and as gude music will be mair pooerfu’ by itsel’ than wi’ bad poetry, sae will gude poetry than wi’ bad music: but, when ye put gude music an’ gude poetry thegither, ye produce the divinest compound o’ sentimental harmony that can possibly find its way through the lug to the saul.”

Mr Chromatic admitted that there was much justice in these observations, but still maintained the subserviency of poetry to music. Mr Mac Laurel as strenuously maintained the contrary; and a furious war of words was proceeding to perilous lengths, when the squire interposed his authority towards the reproduction of peace, which was forthwith concluded, and all animosities drowned in a libation of milk-punch, the Reverend Doctor Gaster officiating as high priest on the occasion.

Mr Chromatic now requested Miss Caprioletta to favour the company with an air. The young lady immediately complied, and sung the following simple


“O Mary, my sister, thy sorrow give o’er, I soon shall return, girl, and leave thee no more: But with children so fair, and a husband so kind, I shall feel less regret when I leave thee behind.

“I have made thee a bench for the door of thy cot, And more would I give thee, but more I have not: Sit and think of me there, in the warm summer day, And give me three kisses, my labour to pay.”

She gave him three kisses, and forth did he fare. And long did he wander, and no one knew where; And long from her cottage, through sunshine and rain, She watched his return, but he came not again.

Her children grew up, and her husband grew grey; She sate on the bench through the long summer day: One evening, when twilight was deep on the shore, There came an old soldier, and stood by the door.

In English he spoke, and none knew what he said, But her oatcake and milk on the table she spread; Then he sate to his supper, and blithely he sung, And she knew the dear sounds of her own native tongue:

“O rich are the feasts in the Englishman’s hall, And the wine sparkles bright in the goblets of Gaul: But their mingled attractions I well could withstand, For the milk and the oatcake of Meirion’s dear land.”

“And art thou a Welchman, old soldier?” she cried. “Many years have I wandered,” the stranger replied: “‘Twixt Danube and Thames many rivers there be, But the bright waves of Cynfael are fairest to me.

“I felled the grey oak, ere I hastened to roam, And I fashioned a bench for the door of my home; And well my dear sister my labour repaid, Who gave me three kisses when first it was made.

“In the old English soldier thy brother appears: Here is gold in abundance, the saving of years: Give me oatcake and milk in return for my store, And a seat by thy side on the bench at the door.”

Various other songs succeeded, which, as we are not composing a song book, we shall lay aside for the present.

An old squire, who had not missed one of these anniversaries, during more than half a century, now stood up, and filling a half-pint bumper, pronounced, with a stentorian voice–“To the immortal memory of Headlong Ap-Rhaiader, and to the health of his noble descendant and worthy representative!” This example was followed by all the gentlemen present. The harp struck up a triumphal strain; and, the old squire already mentioned, vociferating the first stave, they sang, or rather roared, the following


Hail to the Headlong! the Headlong Ap-Headlong! All hail to the Headlong, the Headlong Ap-Headlong! The Headlong Ap-Headlong
Ap-Breakneck Ap-Headlong
Ap-Cataract Ap-Pistyll Ap-Rhaiader Ap-Headlong!

The bright bowl we steep in the name of the Headlong: Let the youths pledge it deep to the Headlong Ap-Headlong, And the rosy-lipped lasses
Touch the brim as it passes,
And kiss the red tide for the Headlong Ap-Headlong!

The loud harp resounds in the hall of the Headlong: The light step rebounds in the hall of the Headlong: Where shall music invite us,
Or beauty delight us,
If not in the hall of the Headlong Ap-Headlong?

Huzza! to the health of the Headlong Ap-Headlong! Fill the bowl, fill in floods, to the health of the Headlong! Till the stream ruby-glowing,
On all sides o’erflowing,
Shall fall in cascades to the health of the Headlong! The Headlong Ap-Headlong
Ap-Breakneck Ap-Headlong
Ap-Cataract Ap-Pistyll Ap-Rhaiader Ap-Headlong!

Squire Headlong returned thanks with an appropriate libation, and the company re-adjourned to the ballroom, where they kept it up till sunrise, when the little butler summoned them to breakfast.

The Proposals

The chorus which celebrated the antiquity of her lineage, had been ringing all night in the ears of Miss Brindle-mew Grimalkin Phoebe Tabitha Ap-Headlong, when, taking the squire aside, while the visitors were sipping their tea and coffee, “Nephew Harry,” said she, “I have been noting your behaviour, during the several stages of the ball and supper; and, though I cannot tax you with any want of gallantry, for you are a very gallant young man, Nephew Harry, very gallant–I wish I could say as much for every one” (added she, throwing a spiteful look towards a distant corner, where Mr Jenkison was sitting with great _nonchalance_, and at the moment dipping a rusk in a cup of chocolate); “but I lament to perceive that you were at least as pleased with your lakes of milk-punch, and your bottles of Champagne and Burgundy, as with any of your delightful partners. Now, though I can readily excuse this degree of incombustibility in the descendant of a family so remarkable in all ages for personal beauty as ours, yet I lament it exceedingly, when I consider that, in conjunction with your present predilection for the easy life of a bachelor, it may possibly prove the means of causing our ancient genealogical tree, which has its roots, if I may so speak, in the foundations of the world, to terminate suddenly in a point: unless you feel yourself moved by my exhortations to follow the example of all your ancestors, by choosing yourself a fitting and suitable helpmate to immortalize the pedigree of Headlong Ap-Rhaiader.”

“Egad!” said Squire Headlong, “that is very true, I’ll marry directly. A good opportunity to fix on some one, now they are all here; and I’ll pop the question without further ceremony.”

“What think you,” said the old lady, “of Miss Nanny Glen-Du, the lineal descendant of Llewelyn Ap-Yorwerth?”

“She won’t do,” said Squire Headlong.

“What say you, then,” said the lady, “to Miss Williams, of Pontyglasrhydyrallt, the descendant of the ancient family of—-?”

“I don’t like her,” said Squire Headlong; “and as to her ancient family, that is a matter of no consequence. I have antiquity enough for two. They are all moderns, people of yesterday, in comparison with us. What signify six or seven centuries, which are the most they can make up?”

“Why, to be sure,” said the aunt, “on that view of the question, it is no consequence. What think you, then, of Miss Owen, of Nidd-y-Gygfraen? She will have six thousand a year.”

“I would not have her,” said Squire Headlong, “if she had fifty. I’ll think of somebody presently. I should like to be married on the same day with Caprioletta.”

“Caprioletta!” said Miss Brindle-mew; “without my being consulted.”

“Consulted!” said the squire: “I was commissioned to tell you, but somehow or other I let it slip. However, she is going to be married to my friend Mr Foster, the philosopher.”

“Oh!” said the maiden aunt, “that a daughter of our ancient family should marry a philosopher! It is enough to make the bones of all the Ap-Rhaiaders turn in their graves!”

“I happen to be more enlightened,” said Squire Headlong, “than any of my ancestors were. Besides, it is Caprioletta’s affair, not mine. I tell you, the matter is settled, fixed, determined; and so am I, to be married on the same day. I don’t know, now I think of it, whom I can choose better than one of the daughters of my friend Chromatic.”

“A Saxon!” said the aunt, turning up her nose, and was commencing a vehement remonstrance; but the squire, exclaiming “Music has charms!” flew over to Mr Chromatic, and, with a hearty slap on the shoulder, asked him “how he should like him for a son-in-law?” Mr Chromatic, rubbing his shoulder, and highly delighted with the proposal, answered, “Very much indeed:” but, proceeding to ascertain which of his daughters had captivated the squire, the squire demurred, and was unable to satisfy his curiosity. “I hope,” said Mr Chromatic, “it may be Tenorina; for I imagine Graziosa has conceived a _penchant_ for Sir Patrick O’Prism.”–“Tenorina, exactly,” said Squire Headlong; and became so impatient to bring the matter to a conclusion, that Mr Chromatic undertook to communicate with his daughter immediately. The young lady proved to be as ready as the squire, and the preliminaries were arranged in little more than five minutes.

Mr Chromatic’s words, that he imagined his daughter Graziosa had conceived a _penchant_ for Sir Patrick O’Prism, were not lost on the squire, who at once determined to have as many companions in the scrape as possible, and who, as soon as he could tear himself from Mrs Headlong elect, took three flying bounds across the room to the baronet, and said, “So, Sir Patrick, I find you and I are going to be married?”

“Are we?” said Sir Patrick: “then sure won’t I wish you joy, and myself too? for this is the first I have heard of it.”

“Well,” said Squire Headlong, “I have made up my mind to it, and you must not disappoint me.”

“To be sure I won’t, if I can help it,” said Sir Patrick; “and I am very much obliged to you for taking so much trouble off my hands. And pray, now, who is it that I am to be metamorphosing into Lady O’Prism?”

“Miss Graziosa Chromatic,” said the squire.

“Och violet and vermilion!” said Sir Patrick; “though I never thought of it before, I dare say she will suit me as well as another: but then you must persuade the ould Orpheus to draw out a few _notes_ of rather a more magical description than those he is so fond of scraping on his crazy violin.”

“To be sure he shall,” said the squire; and, immediately returning to Mr Chromatic, concluded the negotiation for Sir Patrick as expeditiously as he had done for himself.

The squire next addressed himself to Mr Escot: “Here are three couple of us going to throw off together, with the Reverend Doctor Gaster for whipper-in: now, I think you cannot do better than make the fourth with Miss Cephalis; and then, as my father-in-law that is to be would say, we shall compose a very harmonious octave.”

“Indeed,” said Mr Escot, “nothing would be more agreeable to both of us than such an arrangement: but the old gentleman, since I first knew him, has changed, like the rest of the world, very lamentably for the worse: now, we wish to bring him to reason, if possible, though we mean to dispense with his consent, if he should prove much longer refractory.”

“I’ll settle him,” said Squire Headlong; and immediately posted up to Mr Cranium, informing him that four marriages were about to take place by way of a merry winding up of the Christmas festivities.

“Indeed!” said Mr Cranium; “and who are the parties?”

“In the first place,” said the squire, “my sister and Mr Foster: in the second, Miss Graziosa Chromatic and Sir Patrick O’Prism: in the third, Miss Tenorina Chromatic and your humble servant: and in the fourth to which, by the by, your consent is wanted—-“

“Oho!” said Mr Cranium.

“Your daughter,” said Squire Headlong.

“And Mr Panscope?” said Mr Cranium.

“And Mr Escot,” said Squire Headlong. “What would you have better? He has ten thousand virtues.”

“So has Mr Panscope,” said Mr Cranium; “he has ten thousand a year.”

“Virtues?” said Squire Headlong.

“Pounds,” said Mr Cranium.

“I have set my mind on Mr Escot,” said the squire.

“I am much obliged to you,” said Mr Cranium, “for dethroning me from my paternal authority.”

“Who fished you out of the water?” said Squire Headlong.

“What is that to the purpose?” said Mr Cranium. “The whole process of the action was mechanical and necessary. The application of the poker necessitated the ignition of the powder: the ignition necessitated the explosion: the explosion necessitated my sudden fright, which necessitated my sudden jump, which, from a necessity equally powerful, was in a curvilinear ascent: the descent, being in a corresponding curve, and commencing at a point perpendicular to the extreme line of the edge of the tower, I was, by the necessity of gravitation, attracted, first, through the ivy, and secondly through the hazel, and thirdly through the ash, into the water beneath. The motive or impulse thus adhibited in the person of a drowning man, was as powerful on his material compages as the force of gravitation on mine; and he could no more help jumping into the water than I could help falling into it.”

“All perfectly true,” said Squire Headlong; “and, on the same principle, you make no distinction between the man who knocks you down and him who picks you up.”

“I make this distinction,” said Mr Cranium, “that I avoid the former as a machine containing a peculiar _cataballitive_ quality, which I have found to be not consentaneous to my mode of pleasurable existence; but I attach no moral merit or demerit to either of them, as these terms are usually employed, seeing that they are equally creatures of necessity, and must act as they do from the nature of their organisation. I no more blame or praise a man for what is called vice or virtue, than I tax a tuft of hemlock with malevolence, or discover great philanthropy in a field of potatoes, seeing that the men and the plants are equally incapacitated, by their original internal organisation, and the combinations and modifications of external circumstances, from being any thing but what they are. _Quod victus fateare necesse est_.”

“Yet you destroy the hemlock,” said Squire Headlong, “and cultivate the potato; that is my way, at least.”

“I do,” said Mr Cranium; “because I know that the farinaceous qualities of the potato will tend to preserve the great requisites of unity and coalescence in the various constituent portions of my animal republic; and that the hemlock, if gathered by mistake for parsley, chopped up small with butter, and eaten with a boiled chicken, would necessitate a great derangement, and perhaps a total decomposition, of my corporeal mechanism.”

“Very well,” said the squire; “then you are necessitated to like Mr Escot better than Mr Panscope?”

“That is a _non sequitur_,” said Mr Cranium.

“Then this is a _sequitur_,” said the squire: “your daughter and Mr Escot are necessitated to love one another; and, unless you feel necessitated to adhibit your consent, they will feel necessitated to dispense with it; since it does appear to moral and political economists to be essentially inherent in the eternal fitness of things.”

Mr Cranium fell into a profound reverie: emerging from which, he said, looking Squire Headlong full in the face, “Do you think Mr Escot would give me that skull?”

“Skull!” said Squire Headlong.

“Yes,” said Mr Cranium, “the skull of Cadwallader.”

“To be sure he will,” said the squire.

“Ascertain the point,” said Mr Cranium.

“How can you doubt it?” said the squire.

“I simply know,” said Mr Cranium, “that if it were once in my possession, I would not part with it for any acquisition on earth, much less for a wife. I have had one: and, as marriage has been compared to a pill, I can very safely assert that _one is a dose_; and my reason for thinking that he will not part with it is, that its extraordinary magnitude tends to support his system, as much as its very marked protuberances tend to support mine; and you know his own system is of all things the dearest to every man of liberal thinking and a philosophical tendency.”

The Squire flew over to Mr Escot. “I told you,” said he, “I would settle him: but there is a very hard condition attached to his compliance.”

“I submit to it,” said Mr Escot, “be it what it may.”

“Nothing less,” said Squire Headlong, “than the absolute and unconditional surrender of the skull of Cadwallader.”

“I resign it,” said Mr Escot.

“The skull is yours,” said the squire, skipping over to Mr Cranium.

“I am perfectly satisfied,” said Mr Cranium.

“The lady is yours,” said the squire, skipping back to Mr Escot.

“I am the happiest man alive,” said Mr Escot.

“Come,” said the squire, “then there is an amelioration in the state of the sensitive man.”

“A slight oscillation of good in the instance of a solitary individual,” answered Mr Escot, “by no means affects the solidity of my opinions concerning the general deterioration of the civilised world; which when I can be induced to contemplate with feelings of satisfaction, I doubt not but that I may be persuaded _to be in love with tortures, and to think charitably of the rack_[14.1].”

Saying these words, he flew off as nimbly as Squire Headlong himself, to impart the happy intelligence to his beautiful Cephalis.

Mr Cranium now walked up to Mr Panscope, to condole with him on the disappointment of their mutual hopes. Mr Panscope begged him not to distress himself on the subject, observing, that the monotonous system of female education brought every individual of the sex to so remarkable an approximation of similarity, that no wise man would suffer himself to be annoyed by a loss so easily repaired; and that there was much truth, though not much elegance, in a remark which he had heard made on a similar occasion by a post-captain of his acquaintance, “that there never was a fish taken out of the sea, but left another as good behind.”

Mr Cranium replied that no two individuals having all the organs of the skull similarly developed, the universal resemblance of which Mr Panscope had spoken could not possibly exist. Mr Panscope rejoined; and a long discussion ensued, concerning the comparative influence of natural organisation and artificial education, in which the beautiful Cephalis was totally lost sight of, and which ended, as most controversies do, by each party continuing firm in his own opinion, and professing his profound astonishment at the blindness and prejudices of the other.

In the meanwhile, a great confusion had arisen at the outer doors, the departure of the ball-visitors being impeded by a circumstance which the experience of ages had discovered no means to obviate. The grooms, coachmen, and postillions, were all drunk. It was proposed that the gentlemen should officiate in their places: but the gentlemen were almost all in the same condition. This was a fearful dilemma: but a very diligent investigation brought to light a few servants and a few gentlemen not above _half-seas-over_; and by an equitable distribution of these rarities, the greater part of the guests were enabled to set forward, with very nearly an even chance of not having their necks broken before they reached home.

The Conclusion

The squire and his select party of philosophers and dilettanti were again left in peaceful possession of Headlong Hall: and, as the former made a point of never losing a moment in the accomplishment of a favourite object, he did not suffer many days to elapse, before the spiritual metamorphosis of eight into four was effected by the clerical dexterity of the Reverend Doctor Gaster.

Immediately after the ceremony, the whole party dispersed, the squire having first extracted from every one of his chosen guests a positive promise to re-assemble in August, when they would be better enabled, in its most appropriate season, to form a correct judgment of Cambrian hospitality.

Mr Jenkison shook hands at parting with his two brother philosophers. “According to your respective systems,” said he, “I ought to congratulate _you_ on a change for the better, which I do most cordially: and to condole with _you_ on a change for the worse, though, when I consider whom you have chosen, I should violate every principle of probability in doing so.”

“You will do well,” said Mr Foster, “to follow our example. The extensive circle of general philanthropy, which, in the present advanced stage of human nature, comprehends in its circumference the destinies of the whole species, originated, and still proceeds, from that narrower circle of domestic affection, which first set limits to the empire of selfishness, and, by purifying the passions and enlarging the affections of mankind, has given to the views of benevolence an increasing and illimitable expansion, which will finally diffuse happiness and peace over the whole surface of the world.”

“The affection,” said Mr Escot, “of two congenial spirits, united not by legal bondage and superstitious imposture, but by mutual confidence and reciprocal virtues, is the only counterbalancing consolation in this scene of mischief and misery. But how rarely is this the case according to the present system of marriage! So far from being a central point of expansion to the great circle of universal benevolence, it serves only to concentrate the feelings of natural sympathy in the reflected selfishness of family interest, and to substitute for the _humani nihil alienum puto_ of youthful philanthropy, the _charity begins at home_ of maturer years. And what accession of individual happiness is acquired by this oblivion of the general good? Luxury, despotism, and avarice have so seized and entangled nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand of the human race, that the matrimonial compact, which ought to be the most easy, the most free, and the most simple of all engagements, is become the most slavish and complicated,–a mere question of finance,–a system of bargain, and barter, and commerce, and trick, and chicanery, and dissimulation, and fraud. Is there one instance in ten thousand, in which the buds of first affection are not most cruelly and hopelessly blasted, by avarice, or ambition, or arbitrary power? Females, condemned during the whole flower of their youth to a worse than monastic celibacy, irrevocably debarred from the hope to which their first affections pointed, will, at a certain period of life, as the natural delicacy of taste and feeling is gradually worn away by the attrition of society, become willing to take up with any coxcomb or scoundrel, whom that merciless and mercenary gang of cold-blooded slaves and assassins, called, in the ordinary prostitution of language _friends_, may agree in designating as a _prudent choice_. Young men, on the other hand, are driven by the same vile superstitions from the company of the most amiable and modest of the opposite sex, to that of those miserable victims and outcasts of a world which dares to call itself virtuous, whom that very society whose pernicious institutions first caused their aberrations,–consigning them, without one tear of pity or one struggle of remorse, to penury, infamy, and disease,–condemns to bear the burden of its own atrocious absurdities! Thus, the youth of one sex is consumed in slavery, disappointment, and spleen; that of the other, in frantic folly and selfish intemperance: till at length, on the necks of a couple so enfeebled, so perverted, so distempered both in body and soul, society throws the yoke of marriage: that yoke which, once rivetted on the necks of its victims, clings to them like the poisoned garments of Nessus or Medea. What can be expected from these ill-assorted yoke-fellows, but that, like two ill-tempered hounds, coupled by a tyrannical sportsman, they should drag on their indissoluble fetter, snarling and growling, and pulling in different directions? What can be expected for their wretched offspring, but sickness and suffering, premature decrepitude, and untimely death? In this, as in every other institution of civilised society, avarice, luxury, and disease constitute the TRIANGULAR HARMONY of the life of man. Avarice conducts him to the abyss of toil and crime: luxury seizes on his ill-gotten spoil; and, while he revels in her enchantments, or groans beneath her tyranny, disease bursts upon him, and sweeps him from the earth.”

“Your theory,” said Mr Jenkison, “forms an admirable counterpoise to your example. As far as I am attracted by the one, I am repelled by the other. Thus, the scales of my philosophical balance remain eternally equiponderant, and I see no reason to say of either of them, OICHETAI EIS AIDAO[15.1].”


Chapter 1

[1.1] Foster, quasi _Phostaer_,–from _phaos_ and _taereo_, lucem servo, conservo, observo, custodio,–one who watches over and guards the light; a sense in which the word is often used amongst us, when we speak of _fostering_ a flame.

[1.2] Escot, quasi _es skoton_, _in tenebras_, scilicet, intuens; one who is always looking into the dark side of the question.

[1.3] Jenkison: This name may be derived from _aien ex ison_, _semper ex aequalibus_–scilicet, mensuris omnia metiens: one who from equal measures divides and distributes all things: one who from equal measures can always produce arguments on both sides of a question, with so much nicety and exactness, as to keep the said question eternally pending, and the balance of the controversy perpetually in statu quo. By an aphaeresis of the _a_, an elision of the second _e_, and an easy and natural mutation of _x_ into _k_, the derivation of this name proceeds according to the strictest principles of etymology: _aien ex ison–Ien ex ison–Ien ek ison–Ien ‘k ison–Ienkison_–Ienkison–Jenkison.

[1.4] Gaster: scilicet _Gastaer_–Venter, et praeterea nihil.

Chapter 2

[2.1] See Emmerton on the Auricula.

Chapter 3

[3.1] Mr Knight, in a note to the Landscape, having taken the liberty of laughing at a notable device of a celebrated _improver_, for giving greatness of character to a place, and showing an undivided extent of property, by placing the family arms on the neighbouring _milestones_, the improver retorted on him with a charge of misquotation, misrepresentation, and malice prepense. Mr Knight, in the preface to the second edition of his poem, quotes the improver’s words:–“The market-house, or other public edifice, or even a _mere stone with distances_, may bear the arms of the family:” and adds:–“By a _mere stone with distances_, the author of the Landscape certainly thought he meant a _milestone_; but, if he did not, any other interpretation which he may think more advantageous to himself shall readily be adopted, as it will equally answer the purpose of the quotation.” The improver, however, did not condescend to explain what he really meant by a _mere stone with distances_, though he strenuously maintained that he did _not_ mean a _milestone._ His idea, therefore, stands on record, invested with all the sublimity that obscurity can confer.

[3.2] “Il est constant qu’elles se baisent de meilleur coeur, et se caressent avec plus de grace devant les hommes, fieres d’aiguiser impunement leur convoitise par l’image des faveurs qu’elles savent leur faire envier.”–Rousseau, _Emile_, liv. 5.

Chapter 4

[4.1] See Price on the Picturesque.

[4.2] See Knight on Taste, and the Edinburgh Review, No. XIV.

[4.3] Protracted banquets have been copious sources of evil.

Chapter 5

[5.1] See Lord Monboddo’s Ancient Metaphysics.

[5.2] Drummond’s Academical Questions.

[5.3] Homer is proved to have been a lover of wine by the praises he bestows upon it.

[5.4] A cup of wine at hand, to drink as inclination prompts.

Chapter 6

[6.1] See Knight on Taste.

[6.2] This stanza is imitated from Machiavelli’s _Capitolo dell’ Occasione_.

Chapter 7

[7.1] Fragments of a demolished world.

[7.2] Took’s Diversions of Purley.

Chapter 8

[8.1] Some readers will, perhaps, recollect the Archbishop of Prague, who also was an excellent sportsman, and who,

Com’ era scritto in certi suoi giornali, Ucciso avea con le sue proprie mani
Un numero infinito d’animali:
Cinquemila con quindici fagiani,
Seimila lepri, ottantantre cignali, E per disgrazia, ancor _tredici cani_, &c.

Chapter 9

[9.1] Me miserable! and thrice miserable! and four times, and five times, and twelve times, and ten thousand times miserable!

[9.2] Pronounced cooroo–the Welsh word for _ale._

Chapter 10

[10.1] Long since dead.

[10.2] Georg. I. 199.

[10.3] Sat. XIII. 28.

[10.4] Carm. III. 6, 46.

Chapter 11

[11.1] Pistyll, in Welch, signifies a cataract, and Rhaidr a cascade.

[11.2] Rabelais.

Chapter 13

[13.1] Rousseau, Discours sur les Sciences.

[13.2] Imitated from a passage in the Purgatorio of Dante.

Chapter 14

[14.1] Jeremy Taylor.

Chapter 15

[15.1] _It descends to the shades_: or, in other words, _it goes to the devil_.



Form: printed book
Title: Headlong Hall
Author: Thomas Love Peacock
Publisher: J. M. Dent & Co. at Aldine House, 69 Great Eastern St., London.
Date: 1891
Editor: Richard Garnett, LLD.
Printer: Turnbull and Spears, Printers, Edinburgh. British Library
Shelfmark: 012611.i.37/1
Description: tan cloth over board binding, 122mm x 184mm x 21mm, 176 pages plus 2 at front and 1 at back


Chapter head and foot decorations have been deleted — to simplify production to purely text.

Decorative chapter-start drop-caps have been replaced with capitals — to simplify production to purely text.

Page numbers and headers have been deleted — the new document is unpaginated.

Fullstops have been deleted from chapter titles and song titles — they are superfluous.

All notes have been moved to the end of the document — to suit the unpaginated format.

All notes by the editor Richard Garnett have been deleted — to remove (insubstantial) attachments to the original text.

Chapter 1 paragraph 7: inserted closing quotes after “perpetually in statu quo.” — they appear to be missing, since the speech is not continued in the next paragraph.

Chapter 1 paragraph 8: deleted fullstop after “astronomy—-” — the sentence is truncated, it does not end.

Chapter 1 paragraph 9: deleted fullstop after “selfishness—-” — the sentence is truncated, it does not end.

Chapter 1 paragraph 10: deleted fullstop after “cloth—-” — the sentence is truncated, it does not end.

Chapter 1 paragraph 11: inserted a comma after “sprained ankle” — there is a small comma-sized gap at the end of the line where a comma appears to have been omitted.

Chapter 2 paragraph 1: deleted comma after “oils” in “oils, and colours” — “and” clusters things in an item, not separates items, in this list.

Chapter 4 paragraph 13: inserted closing quotes after “summit of Ararat.” — they appear to be missing, since the speech is not continued in the next paragraph.

Chapter 5 paragraph 33: replaced emdash before “Exactly, sir: an’ ye” with fullstop and space — it appears to be an erroneous inconsistency, there being no other like instances in speech indication.

Chapter 7 paragraph 5: deleted closing quotes after “confracti mundi rudera:” — the phrase is not quoted, and the speech does not end there.

Chapter 7 paragraph 6: replaced “procession” with “precession” in “The procession of the equinoxes” — it appears to be a spelling error, since Mr Foster is informed on the subject and not tending to make such mistakes.

Chapter 7 paragraph 17: inserted “_Mr Escot._” at start of paragraph before “Nor is” — to follow consistent indication and layout of speech.

Chapter 8 paragraph 1: replaced “befel” with “befell” — it appears to be a spelling error.

Chapter 9 paragraph 16: replaced fullstop with questionmark after “the tevil with” — the sentence is a question.

Chapter 9 paragraph 22: replaced fullstop with questionmark after “away with me” — the sentence is a question.

Chapter 9 paragraph 23: replaced “b” with “p” in “by his chost” — the sexton in all other cases says “py” instead of “by”.

Chapter 10 paragraph 6: inserted single closing quote after “_Oioi nun brotoi eisin_” — it appears to be missing.

Chapter 11 paragraph 3: replaced “y” in “Vouley” with “z” — it appears to be a spelling error.

Chapter 12 paragraph 1: replaced “wolves” in “individual lion, tiger, wolves,” with “wolf” — it is a list of singulars.

Chapter 12 paragraph 9: inserted paragraph start and opening quotes before “You observe, in both these skulls” — blockquotes cannot be inside paragraphs in the layout scheme.

Chapter 12 paragraph 13: inserted closing quotes after “becoming a judge.” — they appear to be missing, since the speech is not continued in the next paragraph.

Chapter 13 paragraph 17: replaced “woful” with “woeful” in “by woful experience” — it appears to be a spelling error.

Chapter 13 ballad: replaced “feats” with “feasts” in “O rich are the feats” — it appears to be a spelling error.

Chapter 14 paragraph 3: replaced fullstop with questionmark after “Llewelyn Ap-Yorwerth” — the sentence is a question.

Chapter 14 paragraph 5: inserted comma after “said the lady” — one would be expected here.

Chapter 14 paragraph 27: capitalised “Squire” in “”Your daughter,” said squire Headlong.” — all other instances of “Squire Headlong” are capitalised.