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

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"He that fights and runs away,
May live to fight another day;
But he that is in battle slain,
Can never live to fight again,"

_Capt. Astley_, who was too much absorbed in ruminating upon his
melancholy situation to give his friend any other answer than a long and
deep sigh, could not but most sensibly feel that they were in a still
worse plight than the knight of the rueful countenance ever was; for they
had run away without having made any fight at all. So ashamed were they of
their misadventure, that they would not have mentioned it to any one, had
they not been compelled to disclose it to the landlords of the various
inns they had to pass; for the unmannerly fellow had not even left them a
tester to pay the turnpikes.

When they arrived at Everley, Sir John was ashamed to face the troop to
tell them the story, although we were already in the field anxious to see
our commanders dressed up in their new uniform. All the golden dreams of
glory seemed to Sir John to have vanished by this unlucky affair, and
nothing; could induce him to shew himself off to his troop, though his
charger was ready to convey him to the field, and he was urged by all the
expostulations and intreaties of the captain. He therefore sneaked off
home to Rushall, and left the gallant captain to make the best of a bad
bargain by himself.

In the mean time we had been manoeuvring, charging, and wheeling, till we
were almost all tired, waiting for this exhibition. At length we were
informed of the disaster by one of the serjeants, Mr. William Butcher, of
Shercot, who had called at the captain's house to know what was the
matter. The mighty hero at last appeared in view, mounted upon his
charger, riding solemnly towards the troop, dressed in full uniform, the
same which he had worn down from town, with the exception, perhaps, of
_some trifling change_, which might have been rendered necessary by the
disastrous fright he had received upon the road. Some admired the dress,
some pitied the loss sustained by the poor captain, but myself, and many
of those who surrounded me, though we felt the deep disgrace which had
befallen our commander, could scarcely contain ourselves with laughter at
the ridiculous figure he cut, particularly when the event of the robbery
came across our thoughts. I had often heard of a hog in armour, but I had
never before seen any thing that appeared to convey the representation so
much to my mind as the ridiculous figure of our captain.

The very first field-day called to my recollection the sentiments of my
father and the worthy clergyman, Mr. Carrington, as to the patriotism of
these yeomanry corps. Their conversation was entirely about keeping up the
price of corn, keeping down the price of wages, and at the same time
keeping in subjugation the labourers, and silencing their dissatisfaction.
As I rode home from the field the first day, I felt that there was too
much truth in the assertions of Mr. Carrington and my father; I was,
however, determined to do my duty to the best of my power, without
troubling myself about the views and motives of my comrades, and likewise
at all times to resist with all my influence, any act of aggression or
oppression that might be attempted, come from whatever quarter it might.
Nor was I less resolved to be always ready at a short notice to meet the
enemy whenever I should be called upon.

Within one month after I had been in this troop, the labourers of Enford
and the adjoining parishes, smarting under the privations and sufferings
they had to endure, in consequence of the rise in the price of provisions
and the low rate of wages, which latter many of the farmers had decided to
keep down to the old standard, and urged on also by those who ought to
have known better, and who instead of secretly exciting their poorer
neighbours to acts of desperation, ought to have come forward manfully to
advocate their rights; the labourers, under the secret influence of a
designing man or two, all struck their work, and, having assembled in a
large body, they openly avowed their intention to pull down several mills,
which were pointed out, as well as to burn the corn ricks of several
obnoxious individuals. I had been from home, and when I returned, I found
several of the neighbouring farmers assembled at my father's, in the
greatest consternation. Some of those whose premises had been pointed out
for destruction were present; and, although none of my father's property
was threatened, yet several of our servants had joined the rioters, who,
we were informed, were assembled to the number of two or three hundred.
and that they were proceeding towards Netheravon, where they meant to
regale themselves at the public house till the evening, when the work of
destruction was to begin. Each farmer fled to his home, in order to save
what he could, but all were in the greatest dismay. A servant now came to
inform us that our carter, Jerry Truman, who looked after the team at
Weddington farm, had left his horses and joined the rioters, and that two
men had been dispatched up to one of our shepherds upon the down, who had
refused to join them in the morning, to compel him to leave his sheep, and
to join them immediately.

My father, who, as well as myself, had been devising means to prevent, if
possible, the threatened mischief, now said, "though none of our property
is threatened, though we have had no share in oppressing the men, and
though those who by their arbitrary and overbearing conduct to their
servants, have greatly contributed to produce this state of things, are,
now the danger approaches, the first to fly from it, and consequently, for
their past infamously bad treatment of their labourers, and their recent
cowardice, almost deserve what they have brought upon themselves, and that
they should be left to their fate, yet, my son, it is our duty, even if it
were only in pity to the poor misguided men themselves, to endeavour to
avert by some prompt measure, if possible, the threatened calamity." He
added, "but we must be _prompt_ or our efforts will be in vain." I said in
answer, that I had made up my mind to proceed instantly to rescue the
shepherd, who was unwilling either to leave his flock or to join the
rioters; but my father advised me not to waste my time by encountering two
such ruffians as we knew were gone for him; he would, he said, take his
horse and proceed to put the sheep in the fold to prevent their getting
into and destroying the corn; and he would have me ride with all speed to
the only efficient magistrate in the neighbourhood, Mr. Webb, of Milton,
to procure a warrant for the apprehension of Truman, there being no
pretence for his rioting on account of the high price of provisions,
because he was a young unmarried man, and had for wages ten guineas a
year, and all his eatables and drink found for him in the house. "For,"
said he, "if we are armed with a warrant from the civil power, I think we
shall stand a much better chance of preventing mischief, and perhaps
bloodshed, than by any thing that will be done by the yeomanry, but I very
much doubt whether the latter will muster at all, although the alarmed
parties are flying in all directions to the officers, _Astley_ of
_Everly_, _Poore_ of _Rushall_, and _Dyke_ of _Syrencot_[12], for that
purpose:" all of whom were also magistrates. I merely asked my father,
whether I had better not apply to Mr. Astley first for a warrant, as he
only lived four miles off, and in the road to Mr. Webb's, who lived eight
miles distant. His answer was, "certainly not, we must not trust to
chance, proceed at once to Mr. Webb's, for, while you are humdrumming with
Mr. Astley, who will either be afraid or not know how to act, you will
have obtained what we want from Mr. Webb in half the time." I then sprung
on my horse, which, ready saddled, had stood at the gate during this
conference, and, putting him to full speed, I was out of sight in a

As I passed up the field I saw my two gentlemen striding over the fallows
towards the shepherd, whom they had approached within about two hundred
yards. Though I had made up my mind not to interfere with their scheme but
go direct to the magistrate, yet, as they were not a quarter of a mile out
of my road, I could not resist the inclination I felt to check their
progress. I therefore galloped up to them, to demand where they were going
over our private property. They at once boldly avowed their object to be
to make our shepherd leave his flock and join them at Netheravon. I
briefly expostulated, asking if they meant to compel the man to go against
his will; they replied, certainly, that he had refused to accompany them
in the morning, but they had now come to a determination that he should
go. As I found them determined, any further parley was in vain, and I
therefore jumped from my horse, which was in the habit of standing without
being held, and, placing myself before them, I demanded that they should
instantly desist, for they should proceed no further without violence.
They, nevertheless, advanced boldly and were instantly knocked down with
two blows of my fist; one of them remained quietly on the ground, the
other rose to commence a conflict, but he was instantly levelled to the
earth again, and they then both declared they would return with all speed
and leave the shepherd unmolested if I would spare them. I only demanded
that they would brush off in double quick time, with which they complied,
never staying to look behind them. This certainly was a very hasty
although a very successful method of taking the law into my own hands; but
the case was desperate and would not admit of any common remedy.

My horse almost fled to Milton, where luckily I found the worthy and truly
efficient magistrate at home. The oath was administered and the warrant
made out in a few minutes, while his servant gave my panting steed a
little hay and a drop of water, which enabled him to carry me back as
quickly as he had brought me. As I returned, our flock of sheep were
grazing, and the shepherd, having placed himself in my way, as I passed
him, he gratefully thanked me for rescuing him from the danger with which
he had been threatened. I reached home within one hour and a quarter,
having ridden a distance of sixteen miles and procured a warrant, besides
rescuing the shepherd, in that short space of time. I found my father
waiting for me with the tything-man of Littlecot, Mr. Davis, who kept the
Swan, an old gentleman upwards of 70 years of age; and as I was made a
special constable to execute the warrant, we lost not a moment in
proceeding to the scene of action. My father having got a poney ready for
the old gentleman to ride with us, and a fresh horse saddled for me, we
soon reached Netheravon, where we learned of the Rev. Mr. Williams that
the men, to the amount of about two hundred and fifty in number, had taken
possession of a large skittle ground at the back of the Red Lion; that
they had been drinking for an hour, having already taken two quarts of
strong beer each, and were preparing to take another quart each before
they sallied forth, to put in execution the devastating scenes that they
had contemplated. I contrived to communicate with the landlord, who said
that they were so far intoxicated that he dared not refuse them beer, and
that they had taken forcible possession of his cellar, and that nothing
would give him greater relief than to get quit of such troublesome and
desperate customers. I immediately formed a plan to get them out of the
skittle ground, and then to lock the doors and keep them out of the public
house, away from intoxicating liquors, of which they had already taken too
much. I proposed to go into the skittle ground with Davis, the old
constable, and seize Truman, for whose apprehension the warrant was
granted; and if I could get him into the street I had no doubt but the
others would follow in order to rescue him--As soon as this was effected
the people in the Red Lion were to bolt and lock all their doors, and keep
them out of the house. This was thought to be a desperate and a dangerous
plan, but it was a desperate affair, things were drawing fast to a crisis,
and it was of no use to doubt or deliberate.

Having formed my plan, I insisted upon it that my father, who was sixty
years of age, should remain without with the horses. Followed by the old
constable with his staff of office in his hand, I entered, and we had got
up to Truman, who was in the midst of them, before we were as yet scarcely
perceived by many of the groups, who were drinking, and busily arranging
their plan of operations. I shewed the warrant, and having seized Truman
by the collar, who turned as pale as ashes, I told him he must come
instantly with me, and before he had time to reply, or even say a word, I
hurried him through his companions, and I had already brought him to the
door of the yard when they came rushing after him, and had actually got
hold of him, before he was quite out of the door. With one determined
struggle, however, I dragged him by main force into the street, and, as I
had anticipated, the whole of the rioters rushed forward into the street,
and made a desperate effort to rescue him. I knew them all, and
notwithstanding they began to use violence, I held him firm, till I saw
that they were all clear of the yard, and all the doors of the public
house were closed, My father and Davis were unable to come to my
assistance, as I was now surrounded by the whole gang. Though I never felt
more confident or more cool in my life, yet the situation was one not only
of difficulty but of danger. But the principal object being attained, and
the plan having succeeded almost to a miracle, I had only to identify some
of the most determined and violent; and four of those that I knew
perfectly well, two of them being my own work-people, having proceeded to
collar me, while the others used considerable force to release him from
the grasp I had taken of his collar, I yielded him up to their
overpowering numbers; at the same time earnestly recommending to them to
disperse and retire to their homes, as the military were sent for and
expected every moment. Truman was one of the first to fly, and he returned
to his occupation immediately; and in a very short time afterwards the
whole of them had dispersed in different directions, though they might
have proceeded with impunity for aught the yeomanry did, they never having
assembled at all; and, in fact, although I was in the troop myself, I
never thought of sending for them.

My father, and the old constable, Davis, and myself, now returned home,
not a little elated with the success of our exertions in dispersing these
deluded and desperate men. But my father observed, that it would not do to
let the matter rest there, that the persons whom he had seen use great
personal violence to me, who was acting as a peace officer, must be taught
that they were not to violate the laws in such a daring manner with
impunity; and he urged the propriety of my obtaining a warrant to take
them before a magistrate, to answer for the breach of the peace which they
had committed by assaulting me in the execution of a warrant. My father
added, that their leaving their work, their assembling at the public
house, and even obtaining beer almost by force, might have been
overlooked, particularly as no serious mischief had followed; but the
forcible and violent rescue and resistance to the execution of the warrant
of a magistrate could not be overlooked; for, if we were disposed to do
so, it would be an insult to Mr. Webb, the magistrate who had granted it;
and if we treated him, who was the only real efficient magistrate in the
district, with disrespect, we could not expect that he would be disposed
in future to attend so promptly to our representations. I therefore took
my horse the next morning, and rode to Milton before breakfast; and,
having made the necessary depositions, he granted me a warrant for the
apprehension of _Truman_ and four others, who had been particularly
prominent in the rescue, namely, _Hurcot_, _Hale_, _Sheppard_, and
_Rawlings_, all of whom had either struck or laid violent hands upon me.

I had returned and taken my breakfast by ten o'clock, and had just got the
old constable, Davis, and was about to proceed with him to apprehend the
said persons, when four of the gentlemen of the yeomanry cavalry of the
Everly troop, rode boldly into the yard, and up to the door, like _brave
troopers_, saying that they had heard of my having a warrant for
apprehending some of the rioters, and that they were sent by Capt. Astley
to aid and assist in the execution of the warrant, adding, that they were
provided with ball cartridges, &c., and some to spare for me, if I chose
to saddle my charger and take my holsters. I could not avoid asking the
heroes, with rather a sarcastic smile, where they had kept themselves over
night, and why Captain Astley had not either come or sent some of the
troop when there was some real danger, and not waited till all the parties
were separated, and when there was little difficulty in securing the most
desperate of the rioters? I added, that as I had not made any military
show, by dressing myself up in my regimentals, when there was a real riot,
I should at all events trust to the constable's staff now it was all
peaceable; and I begged them to return to their officers with that
message. I however requested one of them, Richard Pocock, of Enford farm,
who now lives near Warminster, and whom I knew to be a tything man, to
doff his regimentals, and then I would admit him to aid and assist in his
civil, but I would not accept of him in his military capacity. This he
immediately complied with, and we took the five persons before the
magistrate, Mr. Webb, of Milton, who insisted upon committing them all to
prison the same night for want of bail, though they begged very hard for
mercy, in which petition I most heartily joined; but the worthy magistrate
would not listen to any such thing, it wanting only a month to the Autumn
Assizes, and I was therefore bound over to prosecute them, very much
against my inclination, as I thereby lost at least three valuable servants
during the harvest; and, as they appeared sensible of their error, I, for
my own part, was contented to let them depart to their homes, but the
magistrate was inexorable, declaring it to be too serious an offence to be
pardoned, without the interposition of a jury.

A true bill was found against them by the grand jury at the assizes, and
they were put to the bar. I appeared against them, but employed no
counsel; they had engaged Mr, Jekyl, at that period one of the most
eminent counsel upon the western circuit. After the court had heard the
evidence of myself and Mr. Davis, Mr. Jekyl made a most eloquent appeal to
the jury, a _common not_ a SPECIAL jury: he called some witnesses to their
character, but no one appearing, _I offered myself_ to give three of them,
who had been my father's servants, a character for sobriety and industry,
with which the court and counsel appeared much pleased. Their case went to
the jury, who instantly found them all guilty of the rescue and assault,
upon which I addressed the Court as the prosecutor, and petitioned that
they might be restored to their afflicted families, and I promised to take
them back immediately into the situations which they had before occupied
in my father's service. The humane judge, who participated in my feelings,
after having given them a suitable admonition, and called their attention
to my disinterested kindness, telling them they were entirely indebted to
my humanity for the lenity he should shew them, and having paid me a most
gratifying compliment, dismissed them with the punishment of a fine of a
shilling each, which I immediately paid for them. The whole court were
loud in their praises of my behaviour upon the occasion; but I felt ten
thousand times more satisfaction in doing a generous act than I did in all
the compliments which were bestowed upon me. I took the men into my
father's service directly, and I can safely say that I never for one
moment since had any reason to repent the exertion I made to save them
from punishment. Some of them lived many years in my service, and Truman
remained with me as long as I was in the farming business, and actually
was one of those who followed me out of Wiltshire into Sussex, when I went
to reside there, a distance of a hundred and twenty miles. Four out of the
five men are still alive, and I would cheerfully trust my life in either
of their hands, if it were necessary; and I sincerely believe there is not
one of them but would willingly risk his life to serve me.

I am writing this account in my dungeon, at eleven o'clock at night, on
the 20th of September, 1820, and it is impossible for any one who reads it
not to draw a comparison between my conduct and that of my persecutors. I
would not part with the sweet delightful reflection which the remembrance
of this ONE act of my life conveys to my mind, for all the wealth in the
possession of those who have been concerned in consigning me to be
incarcerated _without mercy_ in this dungeon for TWO YEARS and SIX MONTHS;
according to common calculation _full one quarter of the remaining part of
my natural life_. Let the reader only consider the spirit in which I acted
towards those who had violated the laws of their country, by resisting
with force the warrant of a magistrate, and who had violently assaulted
the peace officer in his duty in executing that warrant, and then contrast
it with the vindictive proceedings against me, for having attended a
public meeting, legally and constitutionally assembled, to remonstrate
with the throne against the cruel privations and sufferings of the people,
where no breach of the peace was committed, where not even the slightest
resistance was made or even premeditated against the civil power. "Look at
this picture, and look at that." I have had the consolation of being
repeatedly thanked in the most earnest manner by these poor fellows, for
my humanity in interposing with the court to spare them from punishment;
but I have felt still a much higher pleasure when they have offered up
their thanks to me for having ventured my life "to snatch them from the
jaws of the gallows," when they were incautiously about to rush into them,
by pulling down mills, and burning wheat ricks. These might well have been
called poor deluded creatures. These men were literally deluded, and those
who urged them on were _deluded_ by what was then called the liberal part
of the press. In fact, almost the whole daily press of that period united
in a conspiracy to delude the people, by railing at and exciting the
multitude against BUTCHERS, BAKERS, and FARMERS, to whom not only the
fools, but the knaves of the daily press attributed the high price of

The liberal part of the press was so ignorant and so besotted as to vomit
forth its daily denunciations against the avariciousness of millers,
butchers, bakers, and farmers, and to endeavour to inflame the suffering
people, by teaching them that these persons conspired together to keep up
the price of provisions to an unnatural height, solely to put money in
their own pockets. The ministerial press of that day, under the controul
of Pitt, (and he was cunning enough to contrive to bribe almost all the
talent belonging to the press,) chimed in ding dong with their less
cunning opponents; for they knew that it was Pitt's policy to draw the
public attention from the real cause of the distress, from the real cause
of the high price of provisions, which they were well aware was the
enormous increase of the taxes; and by the joint efforts of the Whig and
Tory press, (for there was no other at that time,) they contrived to
_delude_ the poor people, the _lower orders_, to such a degree, that there
was seldom half a year passed away without a considerable number of
persons being consigned to an untimely end, for having been concerned in
wreaking their vengeance upon some miller, farmer, butcher, or baker, or
other dealer in human food. These poor fellows might truly be stiled the
_deluded multitude_; and the _deluders_, the conductors of the public
press, were but too successful in their efforts to continue them in
ignorance. Let any sober-minded, rational, sensible man only look back to
the columns of the public press, in the years 1795, and 96--the Times for
instance; let him take a file of the Times of that day, and for many many
years after that, even up to 1815 and 1816, and compare the language, the
stile, and the tenor of their articles with the language of the present
day in the same papers. How many riots, how many hangings, how many
special commissions we can trace back, all proceeding from the delusions
of the public press! How many persons have lost their lives for
plundering, pulling down, and burning the property of millers, butchers,
and bakers; how much blood has been spilt, every drop of which blood may
be fairly placed at the door of those who urged these poor fellows on, and
instigated them to acts of violence against those classes of persons, by
falsely accusing them of being the cause of the high price of provisions.

There is as much difference between the Times of 1795 and the Times of
1820 as there is between a _drunken riotous Church-and-King-mob_ of 1791
to 96, pulling down and burning the property of Dr. Priestley at
Birmingham, poor Campbell of Bath, burning mills, wheat ricks, destroying
machinery, &c. &c., and the _peaceable, sober, rational, constitutional_,
assemblies of the people in 1816, 1817, 1818, and 1819, deliberately
petitioning the legislature to remove the burthens of the people, by
abolishing sinecure places, and unnecessary pensions, and praying for a
constitutional reform in the Commons' House of Parliament. My readers will
excuse the digression I have made; this subject cannot be too often dwelt
upon, but, as I shall have repeated opportunities of calling the attention
of my fellow countrymen to this particular point, I will now proceed to
the more immediate object of these memoirs.

I was now incessant in my application to every branch of the farming
business, and, as I have before intimated, I performed prodigies of labour
upon various occasions. My father had now taken another very large
adjoining farm of nearly a thousand acres, Chisenbury farm, and was
therefore become one of the largest farmers in England, yet we managed
this business with the greatest ease; and what others called very severe
labour, I practised as a relaxation from business, such as learning the
cavalry exercise, in which I had now become a considerable adept; in fact,
I bore the character of being one of the most active, and at the same time
one of the most powerful, young men in the county; and my feats of
activity and strength were proverbial. I would mix in the frolicks of a
country wake, or revel, as they were called in Wiltshire, and contend,
generally successfully, with the first proficients of the day, in
wrestling jumping in sacks, backsword, or single stick playing, and have
borne off many a prize. I once went to a Whitsuntide revel, with my friend
and partner, Jesse Caster of Upavon, and I believe we bore off every
prize--the gold-laced hat, the wrestling prize; the gold-laced hat, the
backsword prize; a pair of buckskin breeches, the prize for jumping or
running in sacks; the old cheese, the bowling prize; and eleven
half-crowns, the prize played for at cricket in the morning: indeed I and
Caster obtained every prize; and, as I gained the majority, of course I
had the choice of the fairest damsel in the village at the dance in the
evening. There was no exercise, no exertion, no labour that ever fatigued
me. I could and did often work all day and dance all night; and this, at
particular festive seasons of the year, I have followed for a week or ten
days together without ever taking off my clothes to go to bed. There was
no excess of labour, heat or cold, winter or summer, that ever hurt me. I
remember once going up stairs, about ten o'clock, with the rest of my
father's family, but, instead of going to bed, I dressed myself, descended
the window by a ladder, mounted my horse and rode to Upper Collingborn,
where I had been invited to a dance, a distance of ten miles, and having
danced till three o'clock in the morning I returned home, mounted the
ladder into the window, and had just changed my best for my working
clothes when my father called me, as the clock struck four, to get up,
upon which I was out the first of the family, time enough to remove the
ladder before any one saw it, so that the circumstance was never known to
any one.

The young parson of the parish was generally my companion on these
occasions, but as he was his own master, he went to and returned from the
dance at his leisure, in fact, he generally got too top heavy before the
evening was over to return home, and therefore usually slept out. I could
tell some of the most ridiculous stories and curious adventures that
happened to my young friend, when he was under the influence of Bacchus,
but as I shall have occasion to say a great deal of this personage
hereafter, I will pass it over for the present. But as, from my having
lived a very great part of my life in country places, I have spent a
considerable portion of my days in the society of clergymen, and as it is
one of my principal objects in giving a faithful history of my life, to be
particular in shewing my readers the sort of society that I kept, as well
as how I was enabled to form my opinion of mankind, I shall faithfully
delineate these characters, to the best of my judgment, always taking care
to lean on the charitable side, and to draw occasionally a veil over the
infirmities of human nature, as they were exemplified in the clergy of the
church of England. I understand that some of my readers have already
attributed to me a desire to lower the character of the clergymen of the
established church, and they instance my description of the character of
the Rev. T. Griffiths, the master of the free grammar school at Andover.
But, as a proof that I have not done him any injustice, I have had
confirmed, by the living testimony of many of my school-fellows, the truth
as well as the lenient description that I gave of his character. Mr.
Cotton of Edgerly, my tenant, and steward of my manor of Glastonbury, has
been to see me since be read the account, and he says it is a most
faithful picture as far as it goes; but he called to my recollection the
tyrant pedagogue having pulled off the ear of two boys, one in his
presence, and one in mine. John Butcher, whose father then lived at
Westcombe, was one of them, and he[11] has reminded me also of Griffiths
having taken a very thick heavy slate, and with both hands broken it over
the head of Dr. now Sir ---- Gibbs, of Bath, physician to the late Queen,
who very fortunately had a thicker scull than boys in general, or he would
in all probability have fractured it. It will therefore be seen that I did
in no way exceed the truth, and, so far from wishing to degrade the
clergy, I shall only reprobate those acts in which they degrade
themselves. I have known many excellent clergymen, Mr. Carrington to wit,
and I know many most worthy clergymen now; and I have also known some of
the most abandoned of human beings, who have been a disgrace to that holy
office. In due course I shall shortly detail the _moral character_ of two
clergymen of this diocese, as a specimen of human depravity, both of them
living under the nose of the bishop.

I will now proceed with my narrative. The price of corn was by this time
considerably enhanced, and in consequence of a new duty, malt had risen
from 2s. 6d. to 7s. 6d. a bushel. Labourers three years before could
purchase with a week's wages, two bushels of malt and a pound of hops,
enough to make a nice little cask of good wholesome beer, for them to
carry with them into the field, in grass mowing and harvest. That quantity
was now nearly doubled also in price. Three years before they could
purchase with their week's wages twelve quartern loaves; they could now
only purchase with their week's wages six quartern loaves instead of
twelve, the quartern loaf having now risen to one shilling. The labourers
that used before to be very well off, and consequently very well
satisfied, complained loudly of these hardships, and demanded higher
wages; the answer of the farmer was, "it is very true that we sell our
corn for a much higher price than we did, but we cannot afford to raise
the wages of the labourers, for we pay all the increase of price away in
taxes, and the increase in our rents, as well as in every other necessary
of life, our tea, salt, iron, leather, &c.; you must, therefore, have
patience, and wait for better times. Our rulers, and Mr. Pitt
particularly, says we may look forward with a confident hope that we shall
soon have better times for us all." Thus the poor man, from the very first
year of the war, began to feel the cruel effects of high prices, and he
was made to suffer this for many years without any rise in his wages.
Almost all the common necessaries of life were doubled, while he was told
to wait with patience from day to day, from week to week, from month to
month, and from year to year, still buoyed up with the false hope of
better times, which were eternally promised with matchless impudence by
the prime minister, who constantly boasted of the wealth and power of the
nation, which he was wasting, and which he lavished with an unsparing
hand, to carry on an unjust, an unnecessary, cruel, and vindictive war
against the people of France, because they had made a hold, a manly, and a
successful effort to throw off the galling yoke of one of the most
infamous and detestable tyrannies that ever disgraced the character of an
enlightened people. It was very true the landholders grew rich from the
great advance in the price of land, and the farmer grew rich from the
advance in the price of grain; but, alas! the labourer began to suffer,
and has continued to suffer; his privations have increased in the exact
proportion to the increase of taxation, from that day to this.

In the beginning of this year, (5th of April, 95,) the Prince of Wales was
married to his first cousin the Princess Caroline of Brunswick, a match
which was very much approved by John Bull, as she was young and beautiful,
possessing all those attractions which were likely to render the marriage
state happy; although there was something that John grumbled a little
about, as he had not only to pay the piper, by an additional yearly salary
for his Royal Highness, which was raised by the parliament to ONE HUNDRED
AND TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND POUNDS PER ANNUM, but he was likewise called upon
to _pay the Prince's debts_, which amounted to SIX HUNDRED AND NINETEEN
THOUSAND POUNDS, was the amount of the account laid before parliament.
John, however, was then in comparative prosperity, and the money was paid
with great good humour, in the hope that this wild prince would, now he
was married to an amiable and a lovely woman, become more rational, and
less debauched and extravagant. At this time also the trial of Mr.
Hastings was brought to a conclusion; this had been going on seven years
before the House of Lords, and he was now acquitted. There were
considerable riots and disturbances in various parts of the country, in
consequence of the high price of corn; wheat having now, for the first
time in the eighteenth century, risen as high as ten shillings a bushel.
The wages of the labourer in the parish of Enford still remained at six
shillings a week, which caused much grumbling and many complaints, as they
were become now tired of "waiting with patience for better times." The
country was considerably agitated too, by a report of a mutiny in the
Oxford Militia, who were quartered at Newhaven, in the neighbourhood of
Brighton. This also arose in consequence of the high price of provisions.
The privates of this regiment had seized a quantity of flour, and sold it
to their comrades and others, at a reasonable price. I remember that this
caused great alarm amongst the farmers, as they knew that without the aid
of the soldiers they would not be able to keep up the price of their
grain. The riot, however, was soon quelled, and those concerned in it were
tried by a court martial, many of them were severely flogged, and, to the
great joy of the yeomanry, two of them, COOK and PARISH, were shot. In the
carrying of this sentence into execution there were great doubts
entertained, by many of the officers, whether the other regiments of
militia and fencibles, which were in camp there, would not join the Oxford
regiment, and rescue their comrades. The greatest precautions were
therefore taken. The Prince's regiment, the 10th dragoons, was marched
from Hounslow and Windsor, where it was stationed to perform king's duty.
The men had ball cartridges served out to them, and they were drawn up in
the rear of the militia regiments, which were all flanked by the artillery
with lighted matches, ready to rake them if they made the least movement;
and the 10th light dragoons were supported by the Lancashire and Cinque
Port fencibles. But the sentence was executed without any resistance on
the 1st of June; the riot having occurred on the 17th of May.

I mention this circumstance, because it caused great agitation throughout
the country, and because I am enabled to speak of the particular facts
from the information which I receive from him who is now acting as my
servant, and who was present doing his duty as a corporal of the said 10th
regiment of dragoons, in which regiment he was a warrant officer for many
years; and I find his information as to these matters most valuable to me.
Gracious God! what scenes has he been an eye-witness of! This persecuted
man was promoted to the 18th regiment of dragoons, commanded by Col.
CHARLES STEWART, the brother of Lord Castlereagh; from thence he was
removed, or rather removed himself, and was made adjutant to the
Somersetshire volunteers, which were commanded by HILEY ADDINGTON, the
brother of Lord Sidmouth. But, having detected his commanding officer, and
exposed his peculations, he was dismissed without a court martial, and by
unheard-of persecutions driven to that extremity which sent him here. He
has indeed a tale unfolded to me, enough to harrow up the soul of any one
who has not the heart of a savage. I now know what were the feelings of
the British soldiers, even at that epoch. Having arrived at that period of
life which may fairly be called manhood, I felt an interest in all the
political occurrences of the day, and had by means of the society of our
worthy curate, Mr. Carrington, been enabled pretty clearly to judge of the
views of the different political parties and factions in the country. I
was a most decided advocate for the general measures of the government,
although I abhorred some of the tyrannical acts of the ministers. I was an
enthusiastic admirer of our beautiful constitution, the history of which I
read at that time with great avidity, believing that it was in all its
material points carried practically into effect, notwithstanding my friend
and tutor had so strenuously endeavoured to convince me that it was only
the theory that deserved any admiration.

About this time a great many public meetings were held, and a clamour for
peace was very general throughout the country; and when the king went to
open the parliament he was grossly insulted, hissed, hooted, groaned at,
and pelted, and one of the glasses of the state carriage was broken,
supposed to have been done with a ball from an air-gun. Five hundred of
the Tenth Dragoons escorted his Majesty from Windsor to Piccadilly, where
the whole regiment of the Fifteenth Dragoons was assembled to conduct the
King to the House of Peers to open the Parliament. After the Fifteenth had
relieved the Tenth, it returned from Piccadilly, and halted at
Knightsbridge barracks, which were then first occupied by it: the men had
orders to remain in readiness the whole night with their horses standing
saddled, and they themselves sleeping in the stable with them. That was
the first time the King had ever been escorted by more than a serjeant's
guard, and I think we may set it fairly down that from that time the laws
of England have been passed under the protection and the influence of the
military. This enabled Mr. Pitt to execute measures hostile to the
liberties of the people. Two bills were immediately passed; one to prevent
seditious meetings, and the other called Lord Grenville's gagging bill.
The British minister was, in fact, become the ruler of the destinies of
Europe; he had contrived, by means of British gold, to procure in France
the committal of the most atrocious and bloody deeds that human nature is
capable of, and this was inhumanly effected in order to delude mankind
with the idea that any change in the form of any government, however bad
and tyrannical, must always be followed by such deeds. In this he was too
successful; for, by these means alone, he was enabled to alarm the timid,
disgust the more rational, and prevail upon the great mass of his
suffering countrymen to submit to these arbitrary acts, and to endure
their present ills, however galling, rather than run the risk of greater
by a change. This was the policy of the British ministry, and I sincerely
believe that all the atrocities that had been committed in Paris, all the
blood that had been spilt, all the massacres that had been perpetrated,
were hired and paid for by British gold, drawn from the pockets of the
gulled and besotted people, for the purpose, as they were made to believe,
of preventing the commission of similar atrocities in our own country. In
fact, the labour, the industry, and the talent of the people, the
industrious and hard-working people of England, were now heavily taxed to
subsidize every despot of the continent; and the wealth of the nation,
drawn from the sweat of the poor man's brow, was squandered with a lavish
hand, to hire and to pay every assassin and every cut throat by trade in
Europe, to enable them to prolong the war against the liberties of France,
and thereby to prevent a reform and redress of grievances at home. In the
mean time the National Convention of France were boasting of their
victories; it was asserted that they had gained twenty-seven pitched
battles, taken one hundred and sixteen strong places, ninety-one thousand
prisoners, and three thousand eight hundred pieces of cannon. During this
year the son of Lewis the Sixteenth died in prison, and on the
twenty-eighth of July, the army of emigrants which landed at Quiberon bay
was totally destroyed. A most curious circumstance also happened: Hanover
made peace with France, so that our amiable allies, the good people of
Hanover, made peace with the King of England's most deadly enemy. It was
also in this year that Stanislaus, King of Poland resigned his crown, and
his kingdom was partitioned among his rapacious neighbours, Austria,
Prussia, and Russia.

This year was a very turbulent one for Great Britain, there being riots in
many parts of the kingdom in consequence of the high price of bread, the
quartern loaf of which continued above a shilling, during the whole year.
At Salisbury symptoms of rioting broke out one market day; some of the
farmers, attending the market, were hustled and insulted; some of the
sacks of corn were also cut by the rioters, and the corn let about the
marketplace; and the Cornet of the Everley troop of cavalry, Mr. William
Dyke, of Syrencot[12], near Amesbury, one of the largest farmers in the
west of England, who attended the market at Salisbury with his corn, was
insulted and ill-used by the people. The windows of his carriage were
broken, and the vehicle was otherwise injured, as he was escaping out of
the town towards his home in the afternoon. The antipathy of the people
was directed towards him particularly, because he had been very
instrumental in causing the _little bushel_, of the Winchester measure, of
eight gallons, to be introduced generally in the county of Wilts, instead
of the old bushel, which contained nine gallons, and in some instances ten
gallons. My father's district contained full ten gallons, and when the
little bushel was established, four of our bushels made exactly five of
the Winchester measure such was the aversion of my father, as well as of
myself, to the, new regulation, that when the law was enforced to compel
every one to use it, even then we ever afterwards, to this day, put 5
bushels into each sack, so that they were always of the same size and
weight as they were before the measure was altered. However, Mr. Dyke, our
cornet, was singled out, on account of his being the ring-leader, in what
the poor called a conspiracy to lessen the size of the bushel, and at the
same time to keep up the price of corn. The mob, as they pelted his
carriage with brick bats, as his horses galloped, or rather fled, through
the town, intimated that if he came the next week they would serve him
still worse. This was a great offence, and which was not to be borne. To
pelt 'Squire Dyke, the gallant cornet of the Everly troop, was such a
heinous and daring outrage, that it could not, consistently with our
honour, be suffered to pass with impunity, and every one in the
neighbourhood was made to tremble for the fate of the rioters. Every
member of the troop, and I of course, among the rest, received a formal
summons to be in readiness to join on the following Tuesday, to march to
Salisbury, to quell any riot that might take place; and, at all events, to
guard our gallant commander Mr. Dyke, while he went to the market to sell
his corn; for it was very properly considered, that, in case the cornet of
a troop of yeomanry was allowed to be deterred from attending the market
to sell his grain, no farmer would in future be able to attend without
being in danger, not only of losing his corn, but of having his head
broken into the bargain.

The thing got wind and was the general topic of conversation all over that
part of the county. The rioters had publicly intimated their intention of
assembling on the next market day at Salisbury, and compelling the farmers
to sell their corn at a moderate price, or abide by the consequences; and
it was blazoned all over the country that the Everly troop had received
orders and meant to march to Salisbury on that day, to join the Salisbury
troop, for the purpose of chastising the temerity of the disorderly
multitude. The bloody conflict that was anticipated caused many a manly
heart to palpitate, and many a rosy cheek to lose its blooming colour and
to be overspread with a pale sallow hue. The mighty battles that had
caused such a sensation throughout the whole of the civilized world, the
terrors that had been created by the combats which had been fought by
_Moreau_, by _Jourdan_, by _Wurmser_, and all the other great generals
upon the continent, were entirely forgotten, or thought but little of, in
the vicinity of Amesbury and Everly. Nothing was talked of, or meditated
upon, but the expected dreadful battle of Salisbury: the quivering and
almost bloodless lip of every one who ventured to speak upon the subject,
showed visible signs of terror and dismay; every face, indeed, seemed to
give "dreadful note of preparation." This was my first campaign; and, as
it was the only opportunity I ever had of distinguishing myself in the
active service of my country in this way as a soldier, and as a volunteer
yeomanry cavalry man too, I must entreat the indulgence and particular
attention of the gentle reader, while I give a faithful narrative, an
unvarnished tale, of the whole affair. This being the solitary instance in
which I was called into the field of battle while I was in the service, I
must entreat those who do me the honour to read my Memoirs, to extend
their forgiveness to me if I should prove somewhat tedious; but to my fair
readers, my female friends, I will promise before hand, that there shall
be no over-strained description of the bloody work of war, &c.: I will
faithfully relate the particulars as they actually occurred, without fear
or favour; being willing to take my share of the honour as well as the
odium of the fate of war.

It will be recollected, that Mr. Dyke was only a Cornet as yet in the
troop, and of course it was contemplated, as is usual upon these occasions
amongst the subalterns of the army, previous to an engagement, that in
case of a warm contest there would be promotion. Mr. Dyke, or rather
Cornet Dyke, rode over early on the Wednesday following to Captain Astley,
to inform him of what had happened, and requested him to give an order for
the summoning of the troop, to muster on the following Tuesday; and the
place of rendezvous was fixed at the Cornet's house, as that was on the
road to Salisbury. The gallant Captain complied immediately, and the
orderly man was hurried off to inform the different members of the corps
in time, that they might be prepared and well equipped by the important
day; so that we had all of us nearly a whole week to ponder upon the
probable chances of the impending conflict. The whole week was spent in
surmises how it would all end; some longed for the fray, others, as I have
since understood, were preparing for the worst, and occupied their time in
settling their worldly affairs, so that making of wills was the best trade
going for that week. My father, who knew all the parties well, kept up his
spirits; for he at once confidently asserted that there would be no blood
spilt, while the troop was under the command of his neighbour, Captain
Astley; and he really carried his jokes so far, that I was sometimes
almost disposed to be angry myself. "Ah, my dear boy," he used to say, "it
is very well for you that our friend Carrington in gone to Berkeley
Castle; for if he were here he would laugh till his sides cracked to hear
what is going on." I demanded, why so? "Why," said he, "your gallant
Captain is run away already; he is _gone to Boreham_." The fact was, that,
as soon as Dyke had left the Captain, he called his favourite servant
_Douse_, without whose advice he never did any thing at that time, and
having related the object of Cornet Dyke's visit, he said, "What say you,
Douse, to this affair?" "Why," replied Douse, "Damn the Cornet! he is got
into the scrape, and let him get out of it himself in the best way he
can." Douse gave this advice more for the safety of his own carcase than
for the honour of his master; for Douse, who was the groom and the
constant attendant of the Captain, fancied that he himself began to smell
powder already; besides he knew his man well, and he knew that his advice
would be acceptable. He was right in his calculation; for the Captain,
drawing himself up, said, "Right, you are right, Douse! damn the fellow,
as you say, let him fight his own battles, and get out of his own scrapes,
as well as he can. But what shall I do, Douse? What excuse shall I
make?"--"O" says Douse, "order your carriage and go to Boreham, and then
you know you will be from home, and that will be a sufficient excuse." A
beam of pleasure sparkled in the Captain's eye, and he at once adopted the
faithful groom and valet's advice. He then wrote to Sir John Methuen
Poore, the Lieutenant, and honestly told him that, as he was not concerned
in Dyke's keeping up the price of his wheat, he should not attend at
Salisbury, as he was going to Boreham, where he had particular business.
Boreham was near Warminster, not more than 20 miles from Salisbury, and
Everly was 16 miles. However, it was soon buzzed about that the Captain
was from home, and that he _was gone to Boreham_--which was ever
afterwards a _byeword_ amongst the members of the troop when any one had
sneaked out of performing his duty; the exclamation then was, "he's gone
to Boreham!" Sir John Poore took the hint, and wrote to his friend Cornet
Dyke, to say that he had particular business that required his presence in
London, where he was going the next day. This desertion in the hour of
danger, of our Captain and our Lieutenant, flew like lightning through the
district, and I shall never forget my father when he related the latter
circumstance to me; he could not get it out for the life of him for
laughing. "However," said he, "you have got the Cornet left, and he is a
_prudent man_, and I'll warrant you there is no harm will come to any of

At length the awful morning arrived, and by this time I really had imbibed
a great deal of my father's notion of the thing, and began to think that
it would, after all, turn out very little better than a hoax, or something
for the public to laugh at. I own I did not like the object of the
expedition much; neither did I relish the idea of going to draw my sword
upon a defenceless, unarmed multitude; but my father turned it all into
ridicule--he said we were only old-woman frighteners, and he quoted first
some farwell lines of Pope's Homer, addressed by Hector to Andromache,
before he went out to meet Achilles; then he quoted Hudibras, and then he
would give a few lines of the character of Falstaff, the then again of
Bobadil. The fatal day was, however, come, and I mounted in good time to
proceed to the rendezvous at our Cornet's house at Syrencot.[12] As I rode
along with some of my comrades, I could not avoid cracking a few jokes
about the nature of our expedition, and the unsoldier-like service on
which we were about to be employed. I shall never forget the serious or
rather gloomy appearance of my neighbour and friend, honest John Coward,
of Longstreet; his naturally long dark visage was extended to a more than
usual length, and the tender pathetic way in which he took leave of Jenny
at the door, as he mounted his charger, was a genuine specimen of the mock
heroic. At length he entreated me not to make fun of such a momentous and
solemn undertaking; then fetching a deep sigh, he said he prayed to God
that it might all end well, and that no lives might be lost. In this mood
we arrived in front of Mr. Cornet Dyke's house, where we found the horses
being led about of some few of the troop, who had got there before us.
Being invited to alight, and take some refreshment, we dismounted, and
gave our horses to the care of the men who were attending in considerable
numbers, for the purpose of walking them about while we regaled ourselves.
They were the _thrashers, carters_, and other _labourers_, of our Cornet,
and, as they well knew the errand upon which we were going, they eyed us
with no slight degree of suspicion and ill-will. We had to be sure lost
our _Captain_ and our _Lieutenant_, but we consoled ourselves with the
idea that we had got our Cornet safe; that he could not run away and leave
us in the lurch; although my friend Coward had thrown out some dark hints,
as we came along, by which it appeared to me that there was a hope in his
mind, that something _would yet turn up_, to prevent us from marching at
once to _danger_ and to _glory_; and I could see plainly enough that he
was quite willing to forego all the flattering rewards of the latter, if
he could only be sure of escaping from the former.

When we entered the house, we found such of our comrades as had arrived
before us, seated round a table, enjoying a handsome cold collation, which
was spread thereon for the occasion. There was cold ham, fowls tongue, &c.
&c. tea, coffee, wine and beer in great profusion; and, if I recollect
right, there were no less than three rooms furnished with the same
substantial proof of our Cornet's hospitality: so that, as he arrived,
each member of the troop was provided with a liberal allowance of good old
English cheer. This being the first time that our hero had ever given a
treat of any sort to the troop, it was hailed by some as an auspicious
omen; and I could not help observing, to my next neighbour at the table,
who was Mr. William Butcher, junior, that the brick-bats which had been
levelled at our Cornet's bead had at all events opened an avenue to his
heart. A general laugh was caused by this remark; though it drew on us a
reprimand from Butcher's uncle, who was a sergeant. I also observed to
Butcher, that my friend and neighbour, Coward, not only played a good
knife and fork, but did ample justice to the _Old October_. An unusual
flush about the gills shewed, indeed, that his blood was beginning to
circulate pretty rapidly, and by the time he had taken another glass or
two he began to talk big, and crack his jokes with the best of us. As some
of the party, in endeavouring to keep up their spirits, were already "half
seas over," Mr. Serjeant-major Pinkey now very properly interposed; and as
every one had taken what was at least quite sufficient, the things were
removed, and we began to look at our watches, which showed us that time
was gliding pretty quickly away, and that we ought to recommence our
march. On our entrance we had been desired by the servants to make
ourselves welcome, but our _Cornet_ had not yet made his appearance.
Having waited a considerable time, I took the liberty to ring the bell and
desire the servant to inform his master that we were all in readiness to
start, and waited only for our commander. Although generally speaking,
this was considered as very proper, yet some of the older members thought
it was very impertinent in _me_, who was a mere stripling at the time. The
servant went up stairs to deliver the message, but still we remained
without an answer; and my new acquaintance, William Butcher, having
whispered to me loud enough for many of our comrades to hear, "That he
should not be surprised to see our leader come forth by-and-by, like
Hamlet's Ghost, armed in complete steel," this was received by some with a
_smile_, by the more discreet with a _frown_. Still, however, no Cornet
appeared. At length, in spite of sour looks and rebukes, I rang the bell
once more, and begged the servant to let us know whether his master was
coming or not.

All my father's observations now came forcibly across my mind; I began to
thing that his quotations from Hudibras and Shakespeare had too much truth
in them; and I prepared myself for some extraordinary conduct on the part
of our Commander. It was well I did so, amazed indeed should I have been.
My last message had the desired effect. After we had been anxiously
waiting for more than an hour, the door at length opened, and in walked
the _Cornet_--but, instead of being dressed in _armour_, he had not even
got on his _regimentals_. To our utter astonishment, confusion and dismay,
instead of marching firmly forth armed "_cap-a-pe_" with nodding plume,
and his bright and trusty steel girt round his loins, eager for the fight;
lo and behold! he crept slowly and solemnly along, clad in a _long flannel
dressing gown and a pair of scarlet slippers_. Notwithstanding all my
father had prepared me for, this scene so far surpassed all that his
ridicule had anticipated, that I can solemnly aver that I had never before
felt such a sensation, and as I have never since felt any thing like it, I
am totally unable to describe my feelings. We were all struck motionless,
and every one, as he involuntarily rose, appeared to dart a look of eager
enquiry without being able to open his lips. The trembling ---- at length
broke silence, and in a faultering under tone he spoke, or rather whined
as follows:--"Gentlemen, I am very sorry for having kept you waiting so
long." One of the troop, who had been plying the Cornet's old stingo
pretty freely, interrupted him, in a voice as opposite to that of the
Cornet as the roaring of a cannon is to the chirping of a cricket, and
replied "Never mind, Sir, about any apology, but put on your regimentals
as fast as you can, or we shall get to Salisbury after all the mischief is
done." The Cornet proceeded--"I am very sorry, Gentlemen; it is very
unlucky; but, about three o'clock this morning, _I was suddenly seized
with such a violent pain in my bowels_, that Mrs. Dyke says it will be
very imprudent for me to leave the house _in my present state_, for fear
of catching cold; and in fact _I think so too_, and she insists upon it
that I shall not go with you."

In the midst of this affecting scene I too was seized suddenly, but in
rather a different way; for an appropriate couplet which my father had
repeated in the morning, and with which I was very angry then, now came so
forcibly across my memory, that not being able to suppress my feelings, I
burst out into what is vulgarly called a _horse laugh_; in which I was
joined by Butcher and some of my comrades. The poor Cornet, however,
pitiously proceeded, as well as a man could do with such a _twinging belly
ach_, and said, "That he really was very sorry for it; but as it could not
be helped now, he trusted that we would proceed under the command of
Serjeant-major Pinkney, and he was quite sure that we should conduct
ourselves in a manner that would do credit to the troop. He added that he
would send a servant with us, who would return and let him know how
matters stood, and in case his presence was absolutely necessary, he would
endeavour to come over to Salisbury in his carriage, _provided that Mrs.
Dyke would permit him to leave home_." Heaven and earth, here was a
catastrophe! I sincerely believe, if I had not been an eye witness of this
transaction, that I should have thought to this hour that some of the
characters drawn by Shakespeare were ridiculously absurd and unnatural;
but this scene in real life so far exceeded any thing I had ever seen
represented upon the stage, that I have never since disputed the
correctness of our inimitable bard, in his conceptions of human nature,
and the justice with which he has delineated its various characters.
_Squire Dyke_ now returned up stairs to his inconsolable lady, and his
amiable anxious family; and having mounted our chargers we marched off
towards Salisbury, with the _gallant Serjeant-major_ at our head. As we
rode along, or rather marched two a-breast, my comrade was Mr. William
Butcher of Urchfont, with whom I that day contracted an intimacy which
lasted as long as we remained together in the same county, and which was
continued by a friendly intercourse up to the period of his premature
death a few years back. We were passing Bulford, about two miles before we
reached Amesbury, when we observed the Serjeant-major and Butcher's uncle,
who was another Serjeant, in deep and serious conference, upon which I
exclaimed, by G-d, Butcher, your uncle and Pinkney are holding a council
of war; and I will bet my life that some new difficulty will arise, so as
after all to prevent our marching to the scene of action. I had scarcely
spoken the words before our _then Commander_ fell back, and joined myself
and Butcher, who were heading the troop next to the officers: and Pinkney
addressed me as follows:--"We have been considering the matter over, Hunt,
and Butcher thinks that we are proceeding not only upon a hazardous but a
very foolish expedition; for he says that, as there is no commissioned
officer with us, any act of ours will, in the eye of the law be deemed
illegal. What say you to this?" Having given the wink to my friend, I
replied as follows:--"I believe that Serjeant Butcher is quite right as to
his law, and that in case any person should be killed, there is no doubt
but we shall every man Jack of us be tried for murder. But, if you ask my
opinion. I am for proceeding immediately; for we had much better be _tried
and hanged_ to boot, than live to be pointed at as fools and cowards for
the remainder of our days." "Ah!" exclaimed Serjeant Butcher, "that is
very pretty talking for you, young fellow; but we are too old to be caught
_tripping_ (I suppose he meant _swinging_) in such a way. We have made up
our minds to _halt_ at Amesbury, where we will dine; and in the mean time
we will send over Mr. Dyke's servant to Salisbury, and should there be any
_riot_ he can return and let us know, and we can quickly be there, as
Amesbury is only seven miles from thence." He likewise very prudently
observed, that "it would be exceedingly foolish to march there to create a
riot, when, by staying away, all danger or mischief might be avoided."

As the council of war had settled[13] the business, all my sarcastic
observations merely tended to irritate, without the least chance of
changing their final determination; and we, therefore, gallantly marched
into Amesbury, where, having halted in front of Mrs. Purnell's house, the
sign of the George and the Dragon, our commander gave the word for the
landlady to advance, from whom he boldly demanded, whether she thought
that she could provide beef steaks for sixty in half an hour, as the troop
could not halt longer than an hour, they being extremely anxious to reach
Salisbury. Mrs. Purnell, who was an excellent landlady, as well as an
excellent woman, was too good a judge of business to turn away such a
spanking order; with an engaging smile she replied, that she could hardly
undertake to supply us all with beef steaks, but that, if we would
dismount, she would do the best she could. The offer was hailed and
accepted without further ceremony, and every man got as good a birth for
his horse as circumstances would admit. Another council of war was then
called, and another very grave question was discussed with all the
solemnity of a camp scene, immediately preceding a battle. This momentous
question was, how much each man should be allowed to drink after dinner,
and, on due deliberation, it was at length resolved, and proclaimed aloud,
that every one might take what beer he liked at dinner, but that no person
should take more than a pint of wine after dinner. The reader will
recollect that we had only marched about _three miles and a half since we
had all taken such an EXHILIRATING luncheon at our Cornet's house._

At the expiration of an hour the steaks were pronounced to be ready, and
we all fell to without ceremony. Mrs. Purnell at that time brewed her own
ale, which was very different from the nauseous and deleterious trash that
is now supplied to such houses by those common pests of society, _common
brewers_. As many of the young farmers belonging to the troop had not got
rid of the effects of what they had taken at their luncheon, they plied
the tankard of good old nappy freely with their dinner; so much so,
indeed, that before the cloth was removed there were never less than eight
or ten talking loud at a time; and, long before each man had finished half
a bottle of wine, three-fourths of the troop were drunk. The following
scene ensued. Two of the gallant heroes, being deprived of the chance of
making war upon the old women and boys at Salisbury, who had the week
before pelted their Cornet, actually stripped and had a pitched battle.
All command was at an end. The Serjeant-major fruitlessly endeavoured to
call them to order; they were all now become too vain and too valiant to
be under the controul of any one. Some had mounted their horses, and swore
that they would immediately proceed to Salisbury, as they were sure Dyke's
servant was killed, or he would have returned long, before; others were
grinding their swords; and one, having more courage or more wine aboard
than the rest, was actually seen setting his weapon upon the hone of the
barber of the place. But as the servant of Cornet Dyke had now returned,
to say that it was all peaceable, and no chance of a riot, some of the
party actually proposed to march over to Salisbury, to shew that they were
not _afraid_. As there was _no danger_, and the major part of the troop
were three parts drunk, it only required a CAPTAIN BIRLEY to lead them on,
and a SQUIRE HULTON to give the word, to have caused a scene in which,
though it would not have been equal in atrocity and cruelty to the murders
of the 16th of August, at Manchester, the blood of innocent and unarmed,
although misled persons, might, and in all human probability would have
been spilt. However, by the advice of myself and a few other, who had
retained our senses, and who felt degraded in our own estimation by the
whole of these proceedings, the Serjeant-major ordered all present to be
dismissed, and each to depart to his home in the best way he could. This
was done, but the whole of this little town of Amesbury was thrown into
confusion by the drunken and ridiculous proceedings of some of the men
before they left it--and thus ended the battle, that was to have been, of

I returned to my father thoroughly abashed and ashamed of the transaction;
but, when I related to him the account of the _belly-ach and long faced,
dressing-gown scene_, I really thought he would have cracked his sides
with laughing; and, as I had entered the troop against his wish and better
judgment, he did not spare me in some of his remarks. "And now," said he,
"young man, I hope you will another time be more disposed to attend to the
advice of your father, who has lived so many years longer than yourself,
and has been thereby enabled to form a much more correct judgement of
mankind than you can possibly do." "But," added he, "that wisdom which is
gained by experience is always the most lasting, and generally the most
advantageous, so that it be not purchased too dear." I own I did not
profit so much as I ought to have done by the sound advice of such an
excellent father; but, as he used frequently to say, as an excuse for any
indiscretion of mine, produced from the enthusiasm of my disposition,
"Well, it cannot be helped; there is no putting old heads upon young
shoulders." This was not only very liberal in him, but perfectly true; and
the wise Supreme has very properly ordained that it should be so. I have,
however, never ceased to regret my own imprudence and folly in not
listening more attentively to the kind advice and prudent admonition of
one who was so capable and so anxious to bestow it upon me.

I had now been labouring incessantly in my avocations on my father's farms
for five years, in acquiring a competent knowledge of and clear insight
into the farming business; and I must say that my father was at all times
fully disposed to give me credit for my exertions. This season I had taken
upon myself to make one of five mowers who cut down all my father's spring
corn, consisting of very little short of three hundred acres of barley and
oats. It being a perfectly fine harvest season, we had not, the whole
time, one day sufficiently wet to stop mowing; and on a Saturday night it
was all down, with the exception of one piece of oats, consisting of
seventeen acres and a half; a very heavy crop growing upon newly broken or
burn-baked ground. On Saturday night I proposed to my partners that we
should make an effort to cut down this piece of oats on the Monday,
although it lay three miles and a half from home, adjoining Everly field.
This was thought to be an impracticable undertaking; each, however,
promised to be there by four o'clock in the morning, and to start from
home as the clock struck three. As it would take an hour to walk three
miles and a half with the scythes on their backs, it was agreed that they
should carry my scythe, and that I should bring the bottles and bag upon
my poney.

On the Sunday I was engaged to dine and pass the day at Heytesbury, a
distance of nearly twenty miles from my father's house, where I was going
to meet a young lady, who was on a visit there, and to whom I was
betrothed, without the consent of my father. How this betrothing came
about I must now inform my readers. I had often heard my father speak in
very high terms of Miss Halcomb, the daughter of his old acquaintance, Mr.
Wm. Halcomb, who kept the Bear Inn at Devizes, well known to be one of the
very best inns between London and Bath, which inn had been previously kept
by the late Mr. Lawrence, the father of the present Sir Thomas Lawrence,
who I believe was born there. My father was always talking to my sisters
in praise of the industry and the accomplishments of this young lady,
particularly when any thing was not quite so well managed as it ought to
be; he would then exclaim, "Ah! How much better Miss Halcomb would have
done it!" My eldest sister used sometimes to reply, rather petulantly,
"Why do you not invite this lady to come and see us? perhaps I should then
be enabled to acquire some of her talent to please." "Well," said my
father one day, "I have no objection. You shall ride with me to-morrow,
and call upon her, and I will then invite Mr. Halcomb to bring his
daughters and return the visit." My sister agreed to this, and, as she
herself told me, she was prepared to dislike this lady, merely because my
father had so often made such severe comparisons, that she had almost
become a bugbear to her. Not so with me; I was already half in love with
her from my father's description, although I had never seen her; and upon
their return was eager to know when we should have the pleasure of seeing
her and her family. The day, however, was not fixed at that time; but a
remarkable circumstance ultimately produced the so much longed-for
interview with this young lady, and I own I had made up my mind secretly
to admire her person, as much as from my father's description, I admired
her good qualities. Had my father but even slightly guessed what was
working in my breast, he would never have invited Miss Halcomb to
Littlecot; he having a much higher object in view for his son, both as to
fortune and rank.

It is rather extraordinary, but I longed excessively to see this lady. At
length the following occurrence led to the event which I had anticipated
with so much anxiety. My father had ridden to London, and taken his friend
Coward with him as a companion. On their return, having started early on a
Sunday morning, they rode, as was my father's custom, twenty miles before
breakfast, which brought them to the Windmill, at Salt Hill. They rode
into the yard, and having called for the hostler, the landlord, Mr.
Botham, came up to them and made his bow. Having learned, in the course of
his conversation with them, that they came from the neighbourhood of
Devizes, he enquired if my father knew Mr. Halcomb who kept the Bear Inn,
to which my father replied, that he not only knew but was particularly
intimate with him; a reply which led to a more familiar conversation.

As soon as they had finished breakfast, the landlord entered the room, and
invited them to walk into the garden and take some fruit; an invitation
which was accepted. From thence they had a full view of Windsor Castle,
which being admired by Coward, Mr. Botham enquired if they had ever seen
Windsor. The answer being in the negative,--"Well, Gentlemen," said he,
"If you will favour me with your company to dinner, I will take you over
in a chaise, shew you the King's farms, the Queen's dairy, &c. after which
we will walk over the Castle, and go to the Chapel Royal where you will
have an opportunity of seeing all the Royal Family, who are at Windsor, as
they scarcely ever fail in fine weather to attend divine service."
Coward's eyes sparkled with joy at the proposal, and he looked with
anxious expectation for my father's answer. The latter replied that it
would have been a great treat to him, particularly to have inspected the
King's farms; but that he was, nevertheless, reluctantly obliged to
decline this polite offer, as they were under the necessity of reaching
home the next morning, and had made arrangements for sleeping that night
at Newbury, a distance of nearly forty miles from Salt Hill, much too far
for their horses to take them after dinner. "If that be all the objection
you have," replied Botham, "we will soon settle that: I will send a steady
man on to Reading with your horses, who shall get them well cleaned and
fed, and after we have seen Windsor, and you have dined and taken one of
the best bottles of old port my house can produce, and drank the health of
my friend Halcomb, I will put the best pair of horses I have in my stables
to a post chaise, in which you shall be taken to Reading in such style as
will give you a specimen of the way in which we conduct posting at the
London end of the Bath road. By the time that you arrive at Reading your
horses will have had good time to feed, and will be fresh to take you on
to Newbury as early as you have named." Coward begged my father to accept
so very excellent a proposal, and declared that it would not only be a
great deal better for their horses, but a great accommodation to them; and
in this Coward was very sincere, for he did not altogether like my
father's long rides on horseback, as my father seldom travelled less than
sixty miles a day, when upon a journey. But my father, who was a man of
the world, looking Botham firmly in the face said, "I assure you, Sir,
that your proposition staggers me a little. Your offer is most polite and
very generous; but, as I am not in the habit of receiving such liberality
from strangers, how am I to account for the pressing manner in which you
have offered it? I cannot for one moment believe that a person in your
respectable situation can have any unworthy motive; but you must excuse me
for declining to assent to your proposition, unless you will inform me in
what way I may have an opportunity of returning the compliment, or, at any
rate, point out some probable motive that has induced you to proffer it."
"Sir," said Botham, I will do both; in the first place, I have received
many civilities, and in fact great acts of kindness, from Mr. Halcomb
which, as he has never been here, I have never had an opportunity of
returning. I have, therefore, seized this occasion of being civil to one
of his friends. In the next place, if you will fix a day, when I can meet
Mr. Halcomb and his daughters at your house, I will pay you a visit in
return with pleasure, although it is a distance of sixty miles. We
innkeepers, you know, travel not only expeditiously, but very cheaply.
"Enough," said my father. "Give me your hand, we will chearfully place
ourselves at your disposal till four or five o'clock in the afternoon."
The business was thus settled, to the great joy of poor Coward, who was
almost dumb with fear, lest my father should decline such an opportunity
of seeing Windsor and the Royal Family.

To Windsor they accordingly went, and were greatly entertained with what
they saw, which was every thing that was to be seen about the Castle, as
Mr. Botham was well acquainted with the upper servants in attendance
there; they also got a seat at the Chapel Royal, very near the Royal
Family, and having spent a pleasant day, Mr. Botham kept his word, by
conveying them in a post chaise to Reading, a distance of twenty miles, in
about an hour and a half.

When my father returned he related this circumstance to me and my sisters;
and Coward overwhelmed us with his praises of Mr. Botham. My father then
said that he would fix an early day, for Mr. Halcomb and his daughters to
come and meet him. Coward observed that he must have a very great regard
for his friend, to travel one hundred and twenty miles, merely to dine
with him. "Ah! Coward," said my father, "You know little of mankind! it
did not require any very extraordinary degree of penetration to discover
that Mr. Botham entertained a greater friendship for one of the
_daughters_ than he did for her father."--"Why, yes," replied Coward, "I
now remember that he devoured your praises of Miss Halcomb with great
avidity." "To tell you the truth," said my father, "Mr. Botham informed me
that he wished for an alliance with the eldest daughter of his friend;
and, as I think it a good match, and Salt Hill will be an excellent home
for her, I will do every thing that lies in my power to promote their

For the moment, this information was death to my hopes, and seemed to
strike daggers to my heart; for I was literally over head and ears in love
with this unknown lady, merely from what I had heard my father say of her.
But as I could not learn from my father that she had in any way encouraged
the hopes of Botham, I felt, after a little reflection, no fears for the
result, and without farther consideration, resolutely made up my mind to
be his rival. This furnishes a striking example how liable young persons,
possessing minds of a sanguine nature, are to be talked into any thing.

The day was fixed for the party, and my poor father little thought that
his son, who could not by any process of reasoning be supposed to have any
thing more than the common feeling which actuates the minds of young
people when they anticipate meeting some friends of their own age, he
little thought that his son looked forward to the day with a much more
intense anxiety than either of the individuals that he expected would play
so prominent a character, and on whose account the party was solely made
up. The day at length arrived, and my father had made such preparations as
he conceived were due to the polite attention and hospitality that he had
received at the hands of Mr. Botham. My father was not one of that class
of personages who are so very common, and who pride themselves upon being
match makers; this being the only instance in which I ever knew him to
interfere in any thing of the sort; but he, nevertheless, really appeared
to enter into this scheme with all the ardour of an old proficient. I
believe, however, that he did it with the best of motives, under the full
impression that he was serving all parties, as it struck him that it would
be an union which bid fair to promote the mutual advantage and happiness
of the two families. The reader will indeed perceive that he was not an
adept in the art of match making, as, had he been so, he certainly would
not have communicated the secret to us young folks.

The dinner hour now approached, and a chaise drove up to the door;
containing the two Miss Halcombs, accompanied by their brother, on
horseback. My father having introduced them to me, Mr. Halcomb made an
apology for the absence of his father who was ill, and presented a letter,
which had been sent to him by the coach from Botham, directed for my
father. The latter having opened and read it, he looked very grave and
disconcerted, and said, addressing himself to the young lady, "I am very
sorry to inform you, Madam, that I find by this letter, which I have
received from Mr. Botham, that we shall be deprived of the pleasure of his
company, in consequence, as he informs me, of his unexpectedly having a
large party from town, who have ordered a dinner, which totally precludes
the possibility of his leaving home." This caused a slight blush upon the
cheek of Miss Halcomb, who very modestly replied, "that she was sorry my
father was deprived of the company of his friend; but," looking round to
me and my sister, she added with a smile, "we will endeavour to bear the
loss with fortitude, and spend the day as pleasantly as we can without
him." It might have been very natural for me to feel an inward pleasure at
the absence of one whom I had expected to meet as a rival; but to tell the
truth, I felt very differently, for I at once set him down as an opponent
not worth contending with, and I could not help despising him for his want
of gallantry. I had also eagerly watched the countenance of the lady, to
endeavour, if possible, to collect whether this Mr. Botham had made any
impression upon her heart or not; and from the apathy which it manifested,
I felt very little fear on his account. My father was sadly mortified at
the circumstance; both at the absence of his old friend Halcomb, and his
new acquaintance Botham. However, we spent a very pleasant day, and, as I
had already made up my mind to be, I _was_ over head and ears in love with
the lady. My attentions, in fact, were so pointed and unreserved, that I
saw that my father began to repent that he had ever had any thing to do
with match making.

I found Miss Halcomb not only to possess all the good qualities that my
father had ever described, but in my estimation she possessed ten thousand
times more charms than my fervid imagination previously formed. My
attentions were received with that politeness which was becoming an
amiable, a virtuous and an accomplished female, on the first interview
with a young man, to whom she had never given one thought before; but it
was very flattering to me to find that those attentions were not
considered obtrusive or disagreeable. I perceived that my father sat upon
thorns, and that he was very much pleased to find that the young ladies
declined the invitation of my sister to remain all night, although I added
my intreaties to those of my sister, and this too in so earnest a manner,
that my father could not refrain from saying that he should be very happy
if the young ladies would remain all night with his daughter, but really
he was fearful that my _homely way_ of pressing them to stay would be
considered as being very rude. Notwithstanding they had made up their
minds to go, yet I could see that they were not offended at the _homely
way_ (as my father called it) in which I enforced my suit. I enlarged upon
the darkness of the evening, the badness of the roads, and a thousand
other obstacles which I presented to their view; but when I found that all
was in vain; I seized an occasion to withdraw, while they were at tea, and
taking off one of the wheels of the chaise I conveyed it unobserved into
the rick yard, where I secreted it under some straw. I then returned and
took my leave, saying that I had an appointment to meet some friends at a
neighbouring fair, which was actually the case. Then, mounting my horse,
off I rode. It happened as I had anticipated. When the horses were brought
out to be put to the chaise, the boy was astonished to find that one of
the hind-wheels was gone; and as it was a physical impossibility for any
one to find it that night, the young ladies were obliged to accept my
sister's offer, in which my father now sincerely joined, since he found
that I had left home: though he did not hesitate to pronounce me to be the
culprit who had, in one of my ridiculous frolics, stolen the wheel off the
chaise. Upon my return, I was charged with the act, which I freely
confessed, assigning as an excuse, my fears for the safety of the young
females, travelling such bad roads in such a dark night.

Within a very few days after this event, I gained Miss Halcomb's consent
to ask her father's permission to pay my addresses in form; and within a
week from that time, I demanded her hand in marriage. The old gentleman,
however, very properly replied, that, although he had no objection to me
as a son-in-law, he could not give his consent to any such hasty measure,
till he had seen my father, to know if it met with his approbation. I
frankly told him that he might save himself the trouble and mortification
of applying to my father, who, as soon as I mentioned my attachment to
Miss Halcomb, and that I had offered her my hand and heart, (which at the
same time I informed him she had kindly accepted,) had thrown himself into
a violent passion, and swore, that unless I gave up my prize, and
abandoned all further intentions of marrying an innkeeper's daughter, he
would disinherit me, and cut me off with a shilling. This was quite enough
to fix my determination, and I at once told old Mr. Halcomb, that I hoped
he would act a more considerate part, for, as I had gained his daughter's
consent, and as I was of age, and his daughter very nearly so, all the
fathers in Christendom, nor all the powers on earth, should prevent me
from making her my wife. The old gentleman very clearly saw that it was of
no use to endeavour to deter me from my purpose by vain vows or threats;
he therefore took a more rational course; he endeavoured to win me over by
persuasion; and at length, by this conciliatory conduct, and by an
assurance that he would not stand personally in the way, but that he would
take every means consistent with the feelings of a man of honour to soften
down the rigour of my father, he prevailed upon me to give up all
intention of taking any hasty or premature step, which might involve us
all in very unpleasant difficulties. This was a course which was sure to
succeed with me, and I promised him that I would do nothing without his
knowledge. Now, I am convinced that if Mr. Halcomb had acted in the same
way that my father did, if he had forbidden me his house, and endeavoured
by force to prevent my access to his daughter, such was my spirit of
opposition, such an abhorrence had I of being _driven_ into or out of any
measure, such an innate hatred had I of every thing like tyrannical force,
that I am quite sure if he had so acted, I having got the lady's consent,
I am quite sure I should have run away with her in a week, in spite of all
that could have been done to prevent me. If my father, on the contrary,
had taken a similar course with Mr. Halcomb, if he had kindly advised me,
and endeavoured to prevail upon the by mild and gentle means, I do not say
that he would, or that he ought, to, have succeeded in making me give up
the lady, but I am quite clear that he would have had a much better chance
of success. Nay, if he had appeared careless, and left me to myself, I was
at that time of such a volatile disposition, that such a hasty attachment
might possibly have been weakened, or it might have worn off by time; but
the very course which he took, irrevocably fixed my fate as to marriage. I
was of age, and I had always made up my mind that I was, and ought to be,
my own master upon this subject. I am still of the same opinion; I still
hold that parents have no right to make their children miserable by any
arbitrary dictation upon a question of such vital importance as that of
whom they shall marry. Parents have an undoubted right, nay it is an
imperious duty which they owe to their children, to direct their choice
with respect to suitable connections, and they have a right to interpose
the authority of their advice and recommendation to their children. But
the law of God and of man says[14], that the parties about to be united
ought to exercise their own free choice. The law says that no person shall
marry who is under age, without the consent of his or her parents; and the
law has very justly drawn this line. The law, therefore, very properly
contemplates that no parent shall have the absolute controul over the
person of a child in this matter after that child has come of age.

I have, probably, detained the reader much longer upon this subject than
is either entertaining or edifying, but as this occurrence paved the way
for that important part of my history, my marriage, I feel it a duty which
I owe to myself, and to those who do me the honour to read these Memoirs,
and more particularly to the Radicals, to be more explicit than I
otherwise should be, if the venal press, and particularly the profligate
Editors and Proprietors of that press, in order to gratify their political
employers and partisans, had not, upon so many occasions, and with such
brutal and savage coarseness, when they could neither answer my arguments
nor contradict the truths that I promulgated, sought to cover their defeat
and their infamy by accusing me of having deserted my wife, and left her
to starve. Fearless of the consequences, I shall, therefore, as I go
along, place the circumstances fairly and honestly before the public, and
leave them to draw their own conclusions, as to the correctness, not to
say any thing of the honesty, of the base assertions which are made by the
toots of my political adversaries. At this moment, however, I will merely
state briefly this fact, that, in the year 1802, more than eighteen years
ago, I was separated from my wife by mutual consent. We had three
children; two sons and a daughter. It was agreed that the daughter should
live with the mother, and the sons with me; but that both mother and
father should have free access to each of the children, and the children
the same access to the parents; and as I made a most liberal settlement
upon my wife, (the particulars of which I shall not withhold,) there has
been no complaint uttered by either party; no living creature ever having
heard me make even the slightest insinuation against my wife, or ever cast
the most remote reflection upon her character or conduct; neither has it
ever come to the knowledge of myself or any of my friends that my wife has
spoken one disrespectful word against me. As we have both always lamented,
as a misfortune, the circumstances which led to our separation, so we both
have carefully abstained from heightening and adding to the poignancy of
that misfortune, by mutual accusations, revilings, and recriminations,
which would have been as base as they would have been proved to he
unfounded. If, on the contrary, I had deserted my wife, after having, when
I was first married, surrounded her by prostitutes and courtezans; if I
had been intriguing with every loose and abandoned female that came within
the precincts of a profligate circle; if, after having driven her from my
home, friendless and unprovided for; if, after having personally insulted
her, I had hired spies and informers to traduce her character; if I had
employed and paid the most abandoned characters, and had suborned them to
swear away her life and her honour; if, when this plot had been detected
and exposed, and her innocence had been proved by the very means that I
had employed to blast her reputation and to destroy her; if I had still,
in the most unfeeling and unnatural manner, separated her from, and cut
off all communication with, her child, under the hollow and false pretence
that she was not a proper person to be entrusted with the care of her own
daughter; if, I say, I had driven her out of the country, and, having done
this, if I had hired another gang of base villains, not only to dog and
watch her steps, but to seduce and bribe her servants to betray her; if I
had rewarded these villains, _even with my own money_, to fabricate and
propagate all sorts of calumnies against her abroad, while their infamous
agents at home were reiterating and magnifying those falsehoods; if I had
bribed the dastardly hireling press to libel and villify her; if in fact,
I had carried my persecutions and deadly hatred so far as at last _to
break the heart of her daughter_; if, upon her return, I had made another
atrocious attempt to destroy her by means of hired, bribed and suborned
foreign witnesses; if I had done these things, or any of them, I should
have been an execrable and detestable villain, and I should have merited
the scorn of every man and woman in the universe: but, even then, even if
I had been guilty of all these horrible and unnatural deeds, it would,
even under these abhorrent circumstances, have been base in the extreme in
the doubled-faced, black-hearted villains of the _Courier_, the _dull
Post_ and the _mock Times_ to attack me in the way they have repeatedly
done about my wife; because there are not three _such abandoned profligate
unprincipled_ monsters under the canopy of heaven. Even the _virtuous_ Mr.
Perry, of the Morning Chronicle, has, when an occasion offered,
endeavoured to varnish over his own character by attacking me about my
wife. But, when I remind Mr. Perry that his wife, or at least the person
he called one of his wives, was a Miss HULL, a butcher's daughter of the
above-named town of Devizes, and that I know that those "who have glass
heads, should be very careful how they throw stones;" I trust he will be
more guarded in future.

I now request my readers to accept my apology for this long digression,
and, without further comment, I will resume the thread of my narrative. I
have now introduced the reader to Miss Halcomb, who was destined to be my
wife; and I also have before said that I event to send a Sunday with her
at Heytesbury, a distance of nearly thirty miles from my father's house.
The reader will recollect, too, that I had engaged with my father's mowers
to meet them at four o'clock on the Monday, morning upwards of three miles
from home, in order to attack a field of oats, of seventeen acres and a
half, a very heavy crop, to see if we, (five in number,) could not cut
them down the same day. The time, however, passed so delightfully and so
rapidly in the society of an amiable and lovely female, to whom I was
betrothed, that the clock had unobserved by me struck twelve more than
half an hour; and, before I could muster up resolution enough to tear
myself from the clear object of all my hopes, the respectable family, with
whom my intended wife was visiting, had given me more than one hint of its
being past their usual time of retiring to rest. However, upon another
hint being given by the prudent matron of the family, I took my leave, and
having mounted my faithful steed I bent my course over the downs, twenty
miles across Salisbury Plain. As I quitted the village, or rather the
rotten borough, of Heytesbury, the church clock struck _one_; Which for
the first time recalled to my recollection the promise I had made, as well
as my resolution to perform an uncommon day's mowing, which was to
commence at twenty-three miles distance at four o'clock.

With a heart as light as a feather, I reached home at three o'clock, when
my father's servant informed me that the mowers had been gone forward
nearly half an hour, and that they had left the bottles to be filled and
carried to the field by me. Finding that I was rather behind my time, I
merely then pulled off my coat and waistcoat, and put on my frock. I did
not wait to take off either my tight leather breeches, (which were the
fashion at that time,) or my boots; but as soon as the servant had filled
the bottles with ale, I mounted a poney, and reached the field of oats,
just as the other four men were stripped and whetting their scythes in
order to begin; a thing which they had never before had an opportunity of
doing, throughout the whole harvest, as the first stroke was uniformly
struck by myself. They waited while I threw off my frock and took off my
spurs, and having unbuttoned the knees of my breeches, we set to; and in
ten minutes after the sun had sunk below the horizon, the last swarth was
laid flat, and not an oat left standing; a day's work which stands
unrivalled in that country, and which is the more uncommon, as, in fact,
there were only four scythes at work during the greater part of the day;
for, it being excessively hot, one of the men, the worst mower of course,
was principally employed in riding to and from the Inn at Everly, to
replenish the bottles. This was indispensible, every man being allowed as
much ale as he could drink, with the exception of the two last bottles,
containing three quarts each, which I was obliged to prohibit from being
tapped till the oats were all down, as some of my partners by this time
began to discover evident symptoms of inebriety. As we finished the last
stroke, a very severe flash of lightning announced the approach of a
storm, which had been gathering for several hours. I advised the men to
hasten home, but they declared, now that the mowing was finished, they
would finish the bottles before they left the field, and they kept their
words. I hurried home as fast as my pony could gallop, and got in doors
just in time to escape one of the most tremendous thunder-storms I ever
witnessed; my four companions got jollily drunk, and slept upon the open
down, drenched in rain all night; and although I met two of them returning
home, the next morning at four o'clock, in a most wretched state, yet such
was their hardy nature that neither of them took the least cold.

I have detailed this day's work as the last perhaps of the sort with which
I shall trouble the reader. It was, as I have already intimated, such a
day's work as had never been accomplished by five mowers before, or has
been since, in that part of the world; and it will be recollected that I
performed my share with out having had any sleep or rest. But to me, at
that time, I never appeared to want any rest--I frequently worked till ten
o'clock, and after taking my supper, and conversing with my father,
arranging the proceedings for the next morning, I was very often not in
bed till after eleven; yet I was very commonly up and dressed again by
half past 3, and never in the summer time was in bed after four. It is a
very extraordinary fact, that those who labour hard in the fields all day
require the least sleep; at all events the smallest quantity of time in
bed; for when they get thither, they enjoy and receive as much real sleep,
they receive as much real refreshment in four hours, as the indolent, the
idle, or the sedentary do in double the time. When the mind is active and
well employed I now find it has the same effect upon me as laborious
bodily exercise, for I sleep as sound as a rock here, and when my mind is
fully occupied, and kept upon a proper stretch during the day, six or
seven hours rest in bed is quite ample; but when my mind is less employed,
or occupied by light reading, and not exerted in its usual way, then I
require more rest in bed, and I can sleep eight or even nine hours. It is,
however, very seldom indeed that I give way to such negligence and
sluggishness. I go to rest usually between eleven and twelve, and I am
always up before seven. I was always instructed by my father to consider
indolence as one of the greatest faults; it was, in fact, a sin of the
first magnitude in his vocabulary.--Indolence, he always said was the
harbinger of every vice, of every evil. And the Songs of Solomon and his
Proverbs were on every occasion ready to support his opinion. He would say
to the sluggard, "Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be
wise." He would forgive many a fault in a servant, but at habitual lyer in
bed, he would get rid of immediately, unless he could break him of the bad

My father for some time was very positive, and very determined to prevent
me from marrying an Innkeeper's daughter; and at length I undertook to
reason with him upon the subject. I demanded if he knew any thing in the
slightest degree affecting the character of the young lady? His answer was
"No; quite the reverse." I asked if he had not, at all times, and
perpetually, spoken in the highest terms of her conduct, and whether he
had not, in my hearing, held her up as a pattern of propriety, and an
example to my sisters? All this he admitted to be true: but she had no
fortune, and he had expected me to marry a lady of fortune and family; at
the same time he pointed out several, whom he should have been pleased to
acknowledge as his daughter-in-law. I then demanded, whether, if she were,
fit to be held up by him as a pattern for his daughters, she were likely
to degrade his son as his wife? But, then, she had no fortune, and she was
an Innkeeper's daughter. I begged then to know if he had any thing to urge
against her father? No, indeed, he was a truly honourable and upright man.
Then I would reply, "how often, Sir, have I been taught by you, in the
language of your favourite author Pope, to look upon "_an honest man as
the noblest work of God._"["] This would make him fly off, and, although
he would admit this to be very true, yet he would not give his consent.

At length, having found that I persevered in my visits to the young lady,
and having ascertained from my sister that I was preparing for the
wedding, he addressed me as follows, one evening when we were alone:--"So,
I find from your sister, that you are determined, in spite of my
remonstrances, to marry Miss Halcomb? It is very true that, as you are of
age, I cannot prevent your union with that young lady; the law empowers
you to make your own choice; but, recollect the law does not compel me to.
If you had selected Miss ---- or Miss ----," naming several young ladies
of fortune, "I would have come down handsomely, and you might have lived
like a gentleman; and if you had chosen to be a farmer, you might have
occupied your own estate; but if you '_make a hard bed you must lie upon
it._' Although this is a vulgar saying, yet it is a very just one; and you
may rely upon it that it applies to your case most pointedly." I began to
be impatient, and replied warmly, that I had to thank God for a sound body
and an ardent mind, and I also had to thank him, any father, for the best
of instruction and example; and that he had given me a proof, by his own
industry and perseverance, that a man might not only be happy, but that he
might also acquire wealth, without having much capital to begin with; and
that I was not in the least afraid of the effects of lying upon a hard-bed
by night, so that I had peace and comfort by day.--"Ah, my dear son," said
he, "it is very true that I have devoted my life to business, and by
incessant application and industry have acquired a considerable fortune;"
and with tears in his eyes, he added "alas! you are now going, by one
false step, to blast my fondest hopes: by this match you are going, in one
hour, to beat down and destroy all the bright prospects, all my plans for
promoting your future well-being and consequence in life! Do you believe,
can you for a moment be so silly as to imagine, that I have toiled from
morning till night, that I have laboured with such incessant assiduity,
scarcely giving myself time to enjoy even my meals; and do you think that
I have been so anxious, merely to get money, merely to acquire riches?
Believe me, my dear son, I have never been led away by any such grovelling
notions; I have had higher and more noble objects in view. In fact, and in
truth, my great, my sole aim has always been to make _you a man of
consequence_ in the county; and although I know that riches alone will
neither make a man happy nor respected, yet without wealth I know not how
a man in this country can acquire any celebrity in it. With wealth, if a
man have but a common share of understanding, he is at once pronounced a
wise man, and he is looked up to as a prodigy; when his own native talent
alone would not more than fit him for a menial office. Look for instance
at our neighbours; there is. Mr. Astley of Everly, who is surrounded by
every comfort; he has at his command not only horses, servants, and
carriages, but he has a numerous body of tenantry, who submit to be his
mere vassals, and will do any act, however dirty or mean, at his nod. He
is your commander of the troop of Yeomanry; he keeps hounds; and has many
manors well stocked with game; and he is a Magistrate of the county, and
ignorant as he is, yet he dispenses the laws, or rather issues his
arbitrary mandates to the whole surrounding neighbourhood. In fact, he
possesses great power, and _all his power is derived from his wealth
alone._ Let me ask you, who know him well, what would he be without his
wealth? Strip him of his estates and his riches, what would he be fit for?
I wait," said he firmly, "for your honest reply."--The question was put so
home and so unexpected, and when I turned my thoughts towards our gallant
captain, without wealth and power, he presented to my imagination such a
_forlorn, helpless, wretched being_--that I actually burst out a laughing.
"Really," said my father, "I am not in a laughing mood; but tell me,
seriously, if you know of any situation in life in which, either on the
score of his talent, his knowledge, or his ability of any kind, he would
be capable of keeping his wife and family from starving? Tell me honestly
whether, if he were left to provide for himself, you do not think he would
be upon the parish books in a fortnight?"

I answered that, in my opinion, no one who knew the captain would, for a
moment, dispute the correctness of the conclusion which he had drawn; but,
I added, "I hope, Sir, that you do not compare me to such a man as Captain
Astley; and I hope, too, that you will allow me to ask you a question in
return. Do you not believe, Sir, that if I, your son, were obliged to go
to day-labour to-morrow, I could earn sufficient to support, not only
myself, but also a wife and family, by that sort of industry and zealous
application which I have always shewn in your business?" The reply was, "I
know you are able and willing to do as much as any man; but, do you
consider that I have given you an education which cost me upwards of five
hundred pounds, and have you spent ten years and a half of your life at
the best schools, under the best masters whom I could procure you, only to
enable you to earn twenty or thirty shillings a week as a day-labourer;
have you, no higher ambition than that?"

I rejoined warmly, "Yes, Sir, my ambition made me always aspire to much
higher things and so did the treatment which I always received from you
heretofore; but now, that you talk of abandoning me to 'lie upon a hard
bed,' and intimate that, unless I give up the object of my choice, I am
not to expect any thing from you, the scene is changed, and, under such
circumstances, my spirit would, I trust, never suffer me to be dependent
upon any one, while I have health and strength to obtain an honest though
a plain livelihood."

I plainly perceived that this sort of reasoning did not suit my father, he
reddened, and sneeringly exclaimed, "your spirit, indeed! I suppose your
spirit will ultimately induce you to drive one of your intended
father-in-law's coaches; or, perhaps, you may be promoted to the situation
of head-ostler, and that will be a post considerably above a
day-labourer." This was said with a degree of bitter ironry that was
little calculated to lead me into submission. By such a course he meant to
work upon my pride, but his language produced a contrary effect to that
which he intended: for I found any indignation arise to such a pitch, that
I sternly answered "No, sir! whatever you may think of my spirit, you will
find that I inherit too much of my father's character either to degrade
myself by any such course, or be intimidated by any false notions of
pride, from doing that which is honourable."

Having said this, I quitted the room, without waiting for a reply, and
retired to bed much earlier than usual. I was, however, too much ruffled
to go to sleep, and, after having tossed and turned about for half an
hour, I suddenly rose, dressed myself, walked quietly down stairs, and
going into the back kitchen I put on my boots, and then went deliberately
into the stable, where I saddled my horse, and in a few minutes I was on
my road to Devizes. I arrived at that place just as the family were
locking up to go to rest, and, while a bed was preparing for me, I
explained to Miss H. the object of my visit, which was to demand her hand
from her father in the morning, and to fix the day of our nuptials before
I left the house. The lady had often before witnessed, with some degree of
pain, the warmth of my disposition, for I was, as I have already hinted,
of a sanguine, volatile nature; and she had always observed, that, when
bent upon any particular object, I was never deterred, and seldom
persuaded, from attempting to accomplish it; but she had never before seen
me so determined and resolved upon any point as I now was. She
endeavoured, nevertheless, to persuade me from so rash a step; arguing
that she had little hope of her father being brought over to comply with
my wishes, by means of any such peremptory arguments as I had used to her.
But it was all in vain. I assured her that before I left the house, I
would solicit her father's consent to fix the day for our wedding; and
that, if he refused to comply, I should demand the performance of her
promise, to consent at once to our union without it. She first reminded me
of her being under age, and next, with a degree of firmness that I did not
expect, she expressed considerable doubts about acceding to my demand,
under such circumstances. I hastily, and as firmly, added, that the day
should be fixed before I left the house, _or never_. She started at my
vehement and peremptory manner, and with much good sense, began to reason
with me, and to shew how ill-calculated such overbearing proceedings were
either to prevail upon her father, or, what was of more consequence, to
secure her love. If before marriage I evinced such an arbitrary
disposition, and uttered my commands in such a peremptory tone, what
security, she said, should she have for my not playing the tyrant
afterwards? She, therefore, not only felt it to be her duty to refuse, but
really I had so alarmed her, that she could not give her consent under any
such sort of threat; as her compliance would appear to come rather from
terror than inclination. This was followed by her bursting into tears,
occasioned by the exertion she had made to tell me her resolve. I repeated
my protestations, and did every thing to soothe her fears, and, as she was
now summoned by her sister to retire to rest, we parted for the night,
both of us in a very wretched state of mind.

Affected as I was by her agitated feelings, my composition was of too
determined a nature to allow me to give way; having once determined,
nothing but death could have deterred me from persevering, and, while I
was going to bed, I deliberately resolved to keep my word. Nor was this
only the start of the moment; on the contrary, I am quite sure that had
not the parties complied with my wish, to fix the day before I left the
house, I should never have been the husband of Miss Halcomb.

I was resolved to be plain and honest with the father, and to disguise
nothing from him, and in case he should refuse his consent, I was equally
resolved to leave nothing untried to gain the consent of the lady; if she
withheld it I had brought myself, much as I loved her, to give up for ever
all hopes, all intention, of being united, or of having any further
communication, with her. With this determination I went to sleep, though
with full confidence that I should succeed, notwithstanding the repulse I
had received from her before we parted. My fair readers, will, I fear,
call me a conceited puppy for my pains; but I assure them it was not
vanity; it was part of my nature to be sanguine and determined in any
thing, in every thing, that I undertook; for I believed that success
seldom completely crowned an enterprise, unless he who wished to obtain it
had confidence that he should succeed.

When I came to the breakfast table in the morning, I could perceive that
the fair object of my hopes had not enjoyed so much repose as I had done
daring the night. Her heart appeared to be ill at ease. I had never slept
better or sounder in my life. This is another extraordinary part of my
composition, or rather of my constitution; namely, the physical operation
of the Mental power over the animal frame. The more intense the operation
of my mind during the day, the better do I sleep at night; the greater the
object which I have to accomplish in the morning, the more serene is my
sleep; so that when I have any weighty business to perform that requires
the exertion of my whole mental as well as bodily powers, instead of being
agitated with the anxiety arising from the importance of the undertaking,
I am quite the reverse, I am perfectly tranquil, I am sure to sleep well;
and to awake so much refreshed in the morning, as to enable me to commence
the business of the day not only with vigour, but also with my senses
quite collected, and with the greatest calmness of mind.

I appeared upon this occasion so easy and so quiet, yet altogether so
determined, that I often afterwards heard my wife say that she, for the
first time, began to suspect the sincerity of my passion; its ardour she
never doubted. The fact was, that if I had harboured all the doubts that
she did, as to the success of my application to her father, I might have
felt as uneasy as she did; and should have been thereby rendered incapable
of successfully combating his arguments or objections.

The moment the breakfast was over I requested a private conference with
him, when I honestly told him every thing that had passed between my
father and me, and that I had given up all hopes of gaining his consent,
adding, that I had come to the resolution of laying the case fairly before
him, but that I was determined to have his answer at once whether he would
consent to our union, so that a day might be fixed, or whether he would
leave me to do my best to obtain his daughter's consent, which I was
resolved to do in case of his opposing my wishes.

Seeing my determination, the old gentleman answered that, although he
lamented the absence of my father's sanction, yet he would keep his word
with me and his daughter, and would not withhold his consent, if it were
her desire that he should give it. He valued the happiness of his child he
said, and, as he thought I had always acted a fair and open part with him,
he would do the same by me. He would, however, leave it entirely to his
daughter; if she chose to fix the day he would not object to it; and if it
were so, he would do all in his power to render us happy. He likewise
expressed a sincere hope that his old friend, my father, would do nothing
to make us otherwise, and that he would become reconciled to the match
hereafter, even if he would not give his consent before. Mr. Halcomb then,
for the first time, hinted what sum he intended to give his daughter as a
portion. I told him that, for the present, I would hear nothing of the
sort; that, as my father would not enable me to make a settlement upon his
daughter, I would trust entirely to him, and that I never wished him to
mention the subject to me till we were married.

I now flew to the young lady with the joyful tidings, and was received, as
I expected, with open arms; and before ten o'clock that evening the day
was fixed for our wedding, about six weeks from that time. Thus was I, at
the age of twenty-two, and very young and inexperienced of my age also,
about to take a wife against the consent of my father, without a house, a
home, or twenty pounds in the world and perfectly careless whether her
father gave its five or five hundred pounds. To have a wife was my
determination, and, now the day was fixed, I returned to my father's
house, and entered into his business again with all my usual zeal and

The first opportunity I informed him of the arrangement that was made,
upon hearing which he flew into a violent passion, and vowed vengeance.
Nor did he fail to try the last effort, which was to endeavour to make Mr.
Halcomb's pride operate, so as to prevent the match. The next market day
he had a private interview with him, and did every thing in his power to
accomplish his object. His opponent had the best of the argument, but he
retorted his insinuations with such a degree of spirit, that, for a while,
my father had hopes of success. Mr. Halcomb, however, soon crushed his
hopes, by telling him that he had given me and his daughter his word, and
that nothing which he had said in his anger should induce him to break it.
My father when requested to see the young lady, which was readily assented
to. In the course of his interview with her, he made every effort to
persuade her to abandon such a "_mad project_," as he was pleased to term
it, and she listened to, and answered, all his arguments with great
modesty and forbearance. He urged the folly of such a match, and told her
he was sure she would live to repent it; he warned her that such sudden
and inconsiderate unions seldom if ever turned out well; he pointed out to
her my hasty, enthusiastic, volatile disposition; he said that I had seen
nothing of the world, and that, whatever might be her charms, when I got
into the world I might see other objects that might induce me to repent of
having been so hasty; he mentioned the probability of a large family of
children, without the means of supporting them; in fact, he tried every
thing that man could do; he begged, he prayed, and he threatened. All was
in vain. The only promise that he could obtain from her was, that she
would inform me of all he said, and that she would leave the decision to

This to him was worse than no promise at all, and he retired to the market
room and took his dinner, perfectly dissatisfied with the little, or
gather no progress which he had made. However, when the evening came,
instead of calling for his horse to go home as usual, he sent for Halcomb,
and told him that, as it was a dark evening, and he was not very well, if
he would permit him, he would drink tea and spend the evening with his
family, and take a bed there that night. Mr. Halcomb, who was a
warm-hearted, generous, forgiving fellow, readily pardoned all the
insulting language that he had heard in the morning, accepted his offer by
a hearty shake of the hand, and without further ceremony introduced him
into his private room to his family. Mrs. Halcomb, however, the
mother-in-law of the lady, having learned what had passed in the morning,
and expecting nothing less than a fresh attempt to frustrate the match, no
sooner fixed her piercing eyes upon him, after he was seated, than she
drew up, and without waiting for any explanation, began to resent the
insult which he had offered to her profession. He, however, demanded a
parley, and a truce to all hostility, as he was come to offer the olive
branch; assuring her that as a match could not be avoided, he was
determined to make the best of what must be endured. In the course of the
evening he had a private interview with the young lady, and after
extorting a solemn pledge from her that she would not inform me of it till
we were married, he gave her his consent and promised to acknowledge her
as his daughter-in-law. This solemn pledge to keep silence till our union
was completed he made her give, because he wished to see how far I would
go without his consent; and she kept her word; although the fact certainly
came to my knowledge through a third person. My father took the first
opportunity of telling me that, as I was determined to marry against his
will, he should do but little for me, compared to what he would have done
if I had married to please him. He would, he said, give me, or rather he
would lend me, the stock upon Widdington farm, and I might begin to
furnish my house as soon as I pleased; but I must do this out of the
fortune which I was to have with my wife. There was a most excellent stock
upon this farm, the rent of which was three hundred pounds a year. There
were[15] fifteen or sixteen hundred of the finest Southdown sheep, the
very best in the county, as this was a fine sheep farm, in fact,
principally so; twelve cows; six most valuable cart horses, and all other
live and dead stock complete. With this arrangement I was perfectly
content, and indeed it was much better than I had any reason to expect.
The farm was, in reality, a very beautiful one, with a very good house,
and all necessary appendages attached to it. I now seemed to be in a fair
way of obtaining the height of my ambition. This happy intelligence I lost
no time in communicating to the family at Devizes, and the necessary
orders [16] were given without delay. I left it all to the lady, as it was
to be paid for out of her fortune. Few young men entered into life with
fairer prospects in the farming line; very few farmers in the county had
such a stock of all sorts; in truth, nothing was wanting.

The happy day at length arrived. It was the twelfth of January. My sister,
who was to be one of the bride-maids, and my friend the clergyman of
Enford, who was to marry us, [17] went over with me in a chaise. Upon
retiring to rest, having undressed myself, I sat down in an easy chair,
meditating upon the serious engagement into which I was to enter on the
morrow. In this situation I fell fast asleep, and did not awake till three
o'clock in the morning, when I had caught a dreadful cold, and was in a
shivering fit, which I could not get rid of till I arose in the morning. I
was excessively ill the whole of the day. We were taken to the church in a
post coach, and being married we returned to breakfast, where a large
party was assembled to greet us. We were engaged to dine at the Castle, at
Marlborough, which Inn was kept by my wife's brother. We, the married
couple, in a chaise, and two post coaches, each with four beautiful grey
horses, with the rest of the party, accordingly set out to Marlborough,
where we spent the day, during the whole of which I suffered great pain,
being all the time extremely ill. We returned to Devizes to tea, after
taking which we were to go home to Widdington. Just as we were about to
start, Mr. Halcombe took me aside with his son into the next room, and
holding out a canvass bag, he said, "here, my son, is all that I can
afford to give you with my daughter. In this bag is a thousand pounds. I
wish it were ten times as much; but, such as it is, may God grant you to
enjoy it! I have no doubt but it will wear well, as it was got honestly."

This again was more than I expected, as the only time I had ever permitted
him to speak about money, the old gentlemen hinted at no more than five
hundred pounds; but I believe my father had said something which made him
double the sum. I thanked him most heartily; not forgetting to add, that
his daughter was the prize at which I had aimed, and not the money. He
replied, that he should give his other daughter the same, without
trenching upon what he meant to give his sons. In fact, he had at this
time provided for them. However, before we parted, one of his sons,
William, who was then the manager of the Bear, called me on one side, and
said, that as his brother James was just going into business, if I had no
particular use for the money, he should be obliged if I would lend him
500_l_. of it, upon their joint notes. I instantly complied, told out half
my wife's portion, and lent it to her brother, upon his word to give me a
note for it, which he did the first time that I saw him afterwards. I
believe, if they had asked me for the whole thousand, I should cheerfully
have parted with it to them. The five hundred pounds remained in their
hands for nearly ten years, and was not withdrawn by me till several years
after my separation from my wife. I mention this circumstance merely to
shew how these gentlemen felt as to my separation from their sister. In
fact they as well as myself considered it to be a misfortune which ought
to be lamented on all sides, rather than as a reason for entertaining any
vindictive feeling towards me.

We now set off in a coach towards our future residence, Widdington Farm, a
distance of ten miles. The company consisted of myself, the bride, her
sister and mine, who were the two bride maids, and the clergyman. I had,
by this time, completely recovered from the effect of my cold; but, what
was rather remarkable, before we had accomplished half our journey, we
discovered that the bride had suddenly lost her voice, without feeling any
pain or illness. So completely had she lost it, that she could not
articulate a single syllable, otherwise than in a whisper. I was very much
alarmed at first, but as she assured us it was only a cold, and that she
felt not the least pain or uneasiness whatever; and as, with perfect good
humour, she congratulated me on being about to take to my home "a quiet
wife," the alarm gradually passed off.

Widdington Farm lies about a mile from the turnpike road, and when the
carriage turned out of the high road I was obliged, as it was dark, to get
on the coach box to direct the post boys; and, after considerable
difficulty, we reached the house; it being a road over which a chaise
probably had not passed since my father left the farm, twenty years before
this period. Although every thing was prepared comfortably for our
reception, yet a lone farm, in a valley upon the downs, which compose
Salisbury Plain, and not a house within a mile, was quite a different
thing from the cheerful scenes to which Mrs. Hunt and her sister had been
accustomed. A deep silence reigned around; not a tree nor even a bush was
to be seen; and, since we left the turnpike road, the carriage having
passed over the turf for nearly the last mile, the well-known sound of
wheels rattling over the stones had never once vibrated upon the ears of
those who were so much accustomed to it; altogether, it was so very
different from every thing to which the ladies had ever before been
habituated, that, even after I had introduced them into the parlour, which
was well lighted up, and where the hospitable board seemed almost to
invite their welcome, yet I could see that Miss Halcombe looked at her
sister almost in a state of despondency, as much as to say, "God of
Heaven! what enchanted castle are we come to at last?" However, when we
were once seated round the table, with the door closed, the solitary gloom
speedily vanished, for we soon made it appear that there was as much
cheerfullness to be obtained in a lone farm house as there was in one of
the most public and best frequented inns upon the Bath road. Miss
Halcombe, as a matter of delicacy, had always declined to see this
residence before she was married, notwithstanding I had repeatedly pressed
her to ride over and give orders about the arrangement of the house, and
other domestic affairs. During the first fortnight that we were married,
my wife never spoke one word louder than a whisper. At the end of that
time her voice returned, to the great joy of myself and all her friends.
The honeymoon passed with uninterrupted felicity; in fact it was a
honeymoon all the year round, and we were blessed with an endearing pledge
of our loves before the honeymoon appeared even in its wane. Nearly a year
had now gone by in one unbroken scene of pleasure and gay delight. My wife
was of a cheerful disposition, and fond of company, in which I most
cordially participated, and consequently we were seldom without plenty of
visitors. As soon as we were married I purchased two more horses and a
gig; thus my establishment at once consisted of three horses and a gig,
and when to these are added grey-hounds and pointers, &c. &c. the reader
will perceive that I cut a dashing figure, whether at home, at the table,
in the field, or on the road. I drove two thorough-bred mares in a tandem,
with which I could and did accomplish, in a trot, fourteen miles within
the hour; I was almost always the first in the chase, having become a
subscriber to a pack of hounds; and my pointers were as well bred, and as
well broken, as any sportsman's in the county.

I was now become that of which my father had always entertained the
greatest dread; namely, a complete sportsman. Frequently when he called, I
was from home, either hunting, shooting, or partaking of the social
society which is the concomitant of those who delight in the sports of the
field. He would ride round my farm, but there all was in the most regular
order, and he could find no other fault with any thing he saw going on
there than the absence of the master. Yet he was uneasy; for he well knew
that the profits of Widdington Farm would not support such extravagance
and revelry as he was pleased to call it. The stock, it is true, was in
good order, and the crops were well cultivated, and thriving; never
better. Still he was not ignorant of the expense attending a house always
thronged with visitors, a stable and kennel full of horses and dogs, and
the master entering with ardour into the sports of the field. He
remonstrated; but I was young, thoughtless and giddy; my wife was the
same. Rent-day came. Three hundred pounds was due to Mr. Wyndham for rent;
my father knew I was not prepared; he was certain, from the manner in
which I had lived, that[18] I could not have saved any money. Without
saying one word to me on the subject, he paid the rent himself. But he did
not fail again to urge the strongest remonstrances. No farm in the county
was in better condition, or better looked after; the times were good; and
if the farm had been my own, I could just have managed to live in a very
respectable way; for no man knew better how to make the most of every
thing, and very few put it into practice more rigidly than I did; yet, on
the other hand, I could very well manage to spend all the gains whatever
they were, and as my father paid the rent, as well as stocked the farm, it
was quite as good as if it were my own. My father, however, threatened me,
and remonstrated with my wife, on our keeping so much company, and being
guilty of such extravagance. But she could not be induced to think that we
did any thing in a more extravagant way than we were bred up to, which was
very true; and, as I was full as prone to the enjoyment of society as she
was, we seldom refused an invitation, and never failed to return it.

Christmas arrived, and with it, of course, the social merry-making that at
this time was kept up with the greatest spirit in this part of the
country; where every one gave a Christmas feast, which was attended by all
the neighbours for several miles round. We were invited to the first. Some
difficulty presented itself with respect to Mrs. Hunt's accepting the
invitation, as our daughter was only two months old; but this impediment
was soon removed. The little child was in excellent health, and the nurse,
it was thought, would take great care of it in the mother's absence. This
was settled as much to my satisfaction as to that of my wife: for I
enjoyed little pleasure unless she was with me to partake of it.

When the day came, we mounted our horses and she being an excellent
horsewoman, we galloped off to meet our friends at a distance of four
miles, and we reached the place without the slightest accident, though it
was one of the most severe frosts I was ever out in. About three o'clock
the next morning we returned in the same way. I shall never forget the
look of my father, when he saw her come into the room, and involuntarily
exclaimed "for God's sake, Mrs. Hunt, where is your child?" She answered
it was at home. He turned his eyes up and said no more; but I felt this as
a most severe rebuke, and for the, first time I began to think that a
mother leaving her child was not quite so proper. He soon took an
opportunity to speak to me aside, and having asked me whether I was mad,
to bring my wife away from a young sucking child in such weather, he
added, "you acted very prudently and firmly, I understand, when, your
child was born, as to her suckling it, but now you are going to destroy
the child by suffering the mother to remain from it twelve or fourteen
hours at a time." I listened, indeed, to this wholesome advice; but, in
the thoughtlessness of my heart, unfortunately, I passed it of without
paying it that attention, to which, coming from one with such experience
as my father had, it was so well entitled.

What my father alluded to, about my firm conduct when my child was born,
was this. My mother having always nursed her own children, I was bred up
with the notion that it ought to be so, and I still entertained the
greatest antipathy to my offspring sucking any other woman but its
mother.[19] My father had, on his side, already guarded me against all the
arts and tricks played off by gossips, upon such an occasion. Upon this
subject, therefore, I had always expressed a strong and decided feeling to
my wife, in which she appeared to participate.

When the child was born, the mother was attended by the mother-in-law, and
two or three matrons, besides the midwife, &c. &c. They all knew my
determination about the mother nursing the child, and every attempt was
apparently made to carry it into effect. At length a hint was given of
some fears as to its practicability. I would not listen to it[20] for a
moment. Another hint was given, and then a broader and a broader hint; but
I still made light of it, and said we would persevere. On consulting with
my wife I found there was no natural impediment, and that she was well
disposed to exert herself, to comply with my wishes; but I found that the
gossips, and particularly the mother-in-law, had been labouring to impress
on her mind, not only that there was a difficulty, but that there was an
inconvenience, and even impropriety. I was not to be deterred from my
purpose, and did every thing in my power to persuade her to persevere. I
saw that the child enjoyed the breast very much, and that it did not give
the mother so much pain as I had apprehended; and my mind was, therefore,
more resolved than ever to carry this point; although I had never before
had to contend with such powerful antagonists as the gossips, who affected

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