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

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to treat my knowledge upon such matters with ridicule, and my interference
in them as preposterous and indecent. I ways, however, _twattle proof_; I
heard all they had to say, but I stuck to my point like a hero; and I took
care not to leave the house long at a time, for fear some scheme to thwart
my views should be put in execution.

At the end of two days, in the evening after supper, the grand attack was
made, by three matrons and the nurse, with the Dr. or mid-wife, whom they
appeared to have enlisted into the service; though as he was a reasonable,
intelligent man, I was not in the least afraid of his hostility, and
particularly as I had previously consulted him upon the subject, and found
that I was perfectly correct as to there being no natural impediment in
the mother. While the Dr. was taking his grog with me, they all, according
to their previously settled scheme, came down stairs in a body, and all
burst upon me at once; loudly declaring, that they would not force the
poor weak mother any longer to destroy herself by such a course, that the
child must certainly die, that it was starved already, and that, unless I
would suffer them to send for a wet nurse in the morning they would leave
the house, and I might stay and kill the child myself, for that they would
not remain to be witnesses of the murder.

I saw through the premeditated assault, and was immoveably silent. One
said that it was cruel; another said that it was indecent; a third that it
was hard-hearted; and a fourth that I did not deserve such a wife or such
a child, for I wished to kill the one and break the heart of the other.

Had I not been cautioned by my excellent father, who, even to the very
letter of this attack, had told me what was likely to happen, I should
never have been able to withstand the treble-toned battery of their
tongues. The doctor, meanwhile, said not a word, unless it was in reply to
a question put by some one of the ladies, and then he took care to answer
in a very equivocal manner, for he saw my usual determination settled upon
my brow. I told them at last; that if they would remain below, I would go
up and consult my wife; I found her bathed in tears; for they had not only
prepared her for the occasion, but they had actually worked upon her fears
for the safety of the child, so far as to persuade her that the child
would be starved, and that she had not milk enough to keep it alive. I
soothed her; I reasoned with her; for I dearly loved her. I assured her
that the child was in the most perfect health, as was evident from its
having never cried a minute since it was born; which was now nearly three
days; that it was contented, and I was sure it would do well; and that she
herself would ultimately thank me for persevering against the will of the
gossips. Her tears were soon dried up, and the pretty babe being again
placed by her side with my own hands, she was quite convinced that it was
neither necessary nor prudent to give way always, even to gossips.

Having left the child comfortably asleep, and the mother happy, her fears
being now dissipated, I returned down stairs to the enraged matrons. I
found them all on the tip-toe of expectation, to hear what I had to say, I
told them that I had no doubt but the mother and child would do very well,
if they would leave her alone; but this enraged them more than ever. They
insisted that the mother should at least have the help of a wet-nurse.
"Well," said I, very calmly, but very determinedly, "if it most be so, it
must. If you are of the same mind to-morrow, and the doctor confirms your
opinion, that the child requires more milk, I will kill the puppies, and
it shall suck my beautiful setter _Juno_, with all my heart; but, by G--d!
it shall never taste the milk of another woman, while its mother is alive,
and as well able to nurse it as she now is."

I said this in such a tone, and with such a manner, as would not admit of
any further reply, and the gossips all marched off to bed, abusing me for
a great brute; but, as they afterwards told me, applauding me for
displaying so much resolution, in spite of their cabal and plot against me
being frustrated. When they were gone, the doctor, Robert Clare of
Devizes, most heartily congratulated me upon my success; adding, that he
never saw such a complete victory gained against such fearful odds, since
he had been in the practice; which was upwards of twenty years. I have
related this circumstance as a matter of duty, for the information and
guidance of all young persons, who may he placed in a similar situation,
and who may not have had the advantage of such good and able advice, as
that which was given me by my excellent father, rather than as boasting of
any merit of my own. Never was a child born that was nursed better, and
thousands of blessings did the mother afterwards bestow upon me, for my
perseverance, by which she was enabled to enjoy the most delightful of all
sensations, that of nursing her own offspring.

Let us now return to my story. The very first time that this child ever
had a moment's illness was the day after my wife returned from the first
Christmas party. This illness was very severe, and it caused great
restlessness; the infant was, indeed, so unwell, that Mrs. Hunt sent an
excuse to the party the next day by me, she being determined to stay at
home and take care of her child, in which resolution I concurred. Still I
had no idea that the dear little thing would not do very well again,
though I was now convinced of the propriety of my father's rebuke, and had
not the least doubt in my own mind that the illness was occasioned by the
mother's long absence from her child. I went to the dinner, and my father
was the first to applaud Mrs. Hunt's prudence in remaining at home;
although, when he heard of the illness of the child, he observed, "The
experience that is bought is the best, so that it is not purchased too

About eleven o'clock at night a message was brought me by a servant, to
say that my child was very ill, and to beg that I would immediately return
home. I mounted my horse, and reached my house half as hour before the
servant, who was upon another horse. When I entered the room--Oh God! the
child was lying dead in its mother's lap, and that mother was sitting
speechless, with her eyes riveted upon her lifeless offspring.--I
instantly caused the little delicate corpse to be removed. It had a smile
upon its lip, and looked as transparent as alabaster; for it had died
without a groan or a struggle. My wife sat petrified; she had never moved
nor spoken since the infant had breathed its last, which was nearly an
hour. The servants were fearful even to touch her or the child; she still
sat motionless with her eyes fixed upon her lap, the spot whence her child
had been removed, and where she had seen it breathe its last. She took not
the least notice of me, neither did she oppose the removal of the child.
Her look was vacant and heart-rending. I tried in vain every means to
rouse her; at length I carried her to her room, and having bathed her feet
in warm water, I was ultimately blessed by witnessing the return of her
reason, which was accompanied by a copious flow of tears.

During the round of gaiety and pleasure which I had enjoyed since I was
married, this was the first check that I had received; but young,
thoughtless, and giddy, as we were, it was a most severe one, both to
myself and my wife. Nor was it merely the loss of our offspring that
occasioned the sorrow of my wife. Her grief was rendered infinitely more
poignant by the circumstance of the deceased infant never having been
baptised. The babe had, in fact, been so healthy, so perfectly free from
the slightest appearance of disease, that we had never thought of sending
for the clergyman of the parish to have the ceremony performed;
particularly as we intended to have it christened so soon as the
nineteenth of January, which was the first anniversary of our wedding day.
The delay will, I am sure, be thought the more excusable, even by the most
scrupulously religious persons, when I inform them, that the clergyman
lived at Milton, a distance of eight miles, that he seldom came into the
parish except on a Sunday, and that even then his visit was generally a
flying visit, as he had two or three churches to serve on that day. He was
besides an excellent sportsman, and consequently it would have been
considered by _me_ at any rate, if not by _him_, as a sort of crime to
have broken in upon a week-day for any such purpose. But I now sincerely
repented of my folly and thoughtlessness, for my wife was inconsolable.
She was bred up strictly to attend to all the forms as well as the duties
of religion, and she, therefore, accused herself of a heinous crime, even
that of having sacrificed the soul of her infant; and then the very
thoughts of having the little corpse committed to its dreary dwelling
without the rites and ceremony of a christian burial, was so dreadful to
her that it almost made her frantic, and she would sometimes break out
into the most piteous wailings, nearly bordering upon desperation. I was
myself most wretched, not so much from the loss of our child, as from the
sorrow and anguish of my wife, whom I most dearly loved; but I found it
necessary to stifle my own feelings, and exert all my soothing aid and
persuasive powers, to calm her agonized mind. At first I was but a poor
comforter. _I had never thought at all of these weighty matters_, and
therefore I felt myself very incompetent to reason upon them in such a way
as was likely to convince and console her. I had been taught, by my
excellent mother, to lisp the Lord's Prayer, the Belief, and the
Catechism, before I at all knew the meaning of it, and almost before I
could speak plainly; I had been bred up in the Christian faith, a strict
church-goer, and, such was the force of custom, that perhaps I had not ten
times in the course of my life closed my eyes, after retiring to rest,
without repeating the Lords Prayer and Belief; though it is probable that
during all that period I had not ten times seriously directed my thoughts
to investigating and reasoning upon the true import and meaning of these
prayers. Such is the strength of early habits and early imbibed notions,
arising from the repetition of a certain number of words and sentences
thrown together, and imprinted upon the young memory, before the mind is
capable of appreciating the meaning or sense of them! I had also, soon
after our marriage, received the sacrament with my wife, because I was
told that to go through this ceremony was proper and necessary. I did
this, as thousands and tens of thousands had, I believe, done before me,
from a conviction that it was right, without ever having reasoned upon the
matter. And now, for the first time, at the age of twenty three, in spite
of myself, or rather in my own defence, I was compelled to think and to
reason also, that I might bring comfort to my almost heart-broken wife. I
reasoned thus--can this be possible, that a little innocent creature, only
two months old, totally incapable of having committed any offence against
God or man, having, indeed, been incapable of acting or thinking at all,
can the all-wise Creator have doomed such an unoffending being to eternal
punishment, because its parents have neglected to have certain forms of
prayer read by a clergyman, and because it has not had performed over it
the ceremony of sprinkling its forehead with water? It was not necessary
for me to question farther, for I at once pronounced it to be not only
preposterous but impious to believe such a thing for a moment.

Having thus satisfied my own mind, I now set about the task of convincing
my wife. I found her hanging over the corpse of our child, and bathing it
with her tears. The first thing which I did was to lead her from the
endearing object of her inexpressible woe. I then not only used the
foregoing argument, but many others of the same reasonable and natural
tendency. She was, however, not easily to be brought over to my opinion,
and besides, in spite of all I could say to remove the impression, she
blamed herself for having left the infant at such a tender age. I also
felt that in this respect I was not less censurable than she was; and I
endeavoured to take all this blame upon myself, by persuading her that she
would not have gone, had she not been desirous of obliging _me_. In
striving to tranquillize her, I had a most arduous duty to perform, yet,
painful as it was, it was at the same time the most delightful occupation
that can be imagined. To console, to comfort, to cheer the drooping
spirits, to heal the wounded sorrowing heart, to remove the dark and
gloomy doubts, and at length to inspire and provoke a smile upon the
quivering lip of her I fondly loved, was to me an entirely new scene. I
could now fully comprehend the poetical expression of "the joy of grief,"
for this was the most extatic joy, it was a hitherto untasted pleasure,
and although it was of a more sober nature than any of those pleasures in
which I had till then participated, yet it made a deeper and more lasting
impression than any of them had made. So strong was it, that the very
recollection of what I then felt, on the first dawn of my wife's return to
something like her usual serenity and cheerfulness, gives me a pleasure,
even while I am locked up in my solitary dungeon, that I believe it is not
the common lot of man to enjoy. Those who really know what bliss it is to
communicate as well as receive true plea sure will never voluntarily
inflict pain. I think I hear some of my more sceptical or prejudiced
readers ask, could these be really the feelings of this man? Is this the
man who only two short months before proposed to suckle his child with his
setter? Yes, I answer, the very same man; nor, in fact, is there, to the
eye of reason, any thing contradictory in his conduct on the two

Let me now revert to my narrative. Though partly won over by the reasons
which I had advanced, my wife, nevertheless, was anxious to have some
confirmation of them from one of greater knowledge in such matters, and
she accordingly hinted a wish to converse with the clergyman. I told her I
had not the least objection if she desired it; but at the same time I
could not help enquiring, what consolation she could expect to derive from
one of those whom she had frequently seen inebriated at my table, and some
of whom, when they were in that state, had incautiously expressed their
opinions upon such matters with so much levity as to disgust her as well
as myself. This was too true, but yet the sanction of a clergyman carried
great weight; custom, early-initiated custom, still proved predominant;
and as I saw she had set her mind upon seeing a clergyman, before she
parted with the little corpse, I did not think it either kind or prudent
to throw any impediment in the way.

For three days I had scarcely left her during a single moment, and, very
fortunately, as we lived in the country, we were not pestered with any
formal, and worse than officious, calls of condolence. I now took my horse
and rode to a friend, a neighbouring clergyman, and invited him to dine
and take a bottle with me. He pleaded a previous engagement; but when I
told him the object of my visit, after having, with a most enquiring eye,
looked me full in the face for half a minute, to discover whether I was
quizzing him or not, he burst forth with an exclamation, and then into a
laugh, almost hysterical: which, having enjoyed for some time, without any
interruption from me, he said, "Why really, my good fellow, I hope you
have too much sense to listen seriously to the trash that is preached up
upon such occasions!" I replied that he might make himself easy not only
about me, but almost so with respect to Mrs. Hunt, as I had nearly argued
her out of all the ridiculous notions that she had imbibed; but that yet,
notwithstanding this, I should be obliged to him, as he was one of the
elect, who had been inspired to take holy orders by "the Holy Ghost," if
he would ride with me and confirm the good work which I had begun. To this
he agreed, on condition that I would first go with him to course a brace
of hares, of which he had just been informed by a shepherd. This offer I
readily accepted, and we returned to dinner together to my house.
Unfortunately, the parson took nearly a bottle of wine before he made up
his mind to say any thing to Mrs. Hunt upon the subject for which he had
been invited; and as a bottle always set his head a "wool-gathering," he
made one of the most ridiculous exhibitions that can possibly be imagined.
Between his desire to make Mrs. Hunt believe that he was a learned and
pious divine, and at the same time his equal desire to impress upon my
mind that he did not believe a word that he was preaching to her, he got
into such a mess, that it was with no small trouble I was enabled to help
him at all out of it; and at last the tea coming in, put an end to one of
the most ludicrous scenes that ever was witnessed. It happened, very
luckily, that Mrs. Hunt was a woman of good sterling sense, and a firm
mind, accompanied by a very quick penetration, or he would, in his
bungling desire to remove, have at least revived, if he had not confirmed,
all her former doubts and scruples.

On the following evening, with considerable difficulty, I prevailed on the
mother, to suffer the clerk of the parish to convey the mortal remains of
the little infant in a neat coffin, and deposit it in the church-yard.

Instead of partaking in any of the long round of Christmas merry-makings
which we had so unpropitiously commenced, we now spent our evenings at
home; truly enjoying the greatest of earthly blessings, domestic felicity.
How it is possible for those who have once tasted this, the sweetest of
all human delights, how it is possible for any rational mind afterwards to
submit to be whirled round in the vortex of dissipation, to tolerate, to
endure, the empty, vain, comfortless, nothingness of fashionable
amusements, now appears to me to be almost inexplicable. The real felicity
imparted and received in a happy domestic circle, in one evening, far,
very far surpasses all the pleasures derived from the gaze and throng of
crowded routs and fashionable parties in a whole year. And yet it is not
practicable to convince young minds of this; perhaps it would be improper
to attempt it. May we not believe that few persons, if any, can enjoy
domestic bliss to its fullest extent, unless they have previously
experienced all the wearisomeness, all the unmeaning bustle of the
crowded, fashionable, common-place society of routs and balls? Happy,
however, are they, if such there be, who have minds so constituted as to
enjoy the one, without having been exposed to the previous probation of
the other.

The usual serenity and cheerful disposition of my wife soon returned. She
was young, blooming, fair and sprightly; and whatever pleasure I had in
view, I never half enjoyed it unless she were a partaker of it. I have
always been one of those mortals who think that women were formed to
participate in all our rational pleasures and amusements; and therefore,
with the exception of hunting, I seldom formed any scheme of pleasure
where my wife could not make one of the party. Young, gay and thoughtless,
as I was, and prone to enter into all the scenes of hospitable and
cheerful society, (one fault of which I admit, at that period, consisted
in general of much too free an indulgence of the bottle after dinner) yet,
however unfashionable it might have appeared, I never admitted any such
visitors at my table as rendered it necessary for females to leave the
room almost as soon as the cloth was removed. No language or conversation
was ever tolerated at my board, to which the most chaste female ear might
not listen without a blush. In fact, no man was ever permitted to enter my
door a second time who once dared to utter an indelicate double entendre
in the presence of a female; even if that female were only a servant. It
was, therefore, always the practice at my table for females to stay as
long as they found it pleasant, without being liable to a disgusting hint
to depart, in order that the men who remained might have an opportunity of
disgracing themselves by obscene and loathsome conversation. What a
disgrace this to the national character! what a blot upon the very name of
polished society! what an everlasting stigma upon British hospitality!
what an indelible stain upon English manners! I always found that young
men who had been bred at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge were the
most difficult to keep within the bounds of decorum. The life which these
men lead at college is so dissolute that few of them ever know how to
relish the sweets of domestic virtuous society. This is the greatest
drawback upon the religion of the country, and I blush for the name of
religion while I relate it. I have, in one hour, heard more blasphemy and
more lewd language at the table of one of these clergymen of the
established church, than ever polluted the walls of my house in all my
life. I have heard more obscenity flow from the lips of one of these
hoary-headed dignified pastors of the church of England, aye, one who
resides in this county too, than I ever heard come from the lips of all
the reformers I was ever acquainted with in my life. I can point out half
a score clergymen of this county, some of them magistrates, who are in
this respect a disgrace to human nature, whose debaucheries would fill a
volume, and whose daily conversation over their bottles, after they have
driven their wives and families from their tables, is so degrading, and
consists of such obscenities, that it would even be scouted at the table
of the bribed, queen-slandering Italian witnesses in Cotton Garden. Yet
some of these canting hypocrites, I understand, now begin to prate about
morality! But I ought, and I do apologize to the reader for this
digression, which I was led into by the circumstance of a gentleman, who
dined with me yesterday, having given me a description of one of these
monstrosities, who does not live a hundred miles from this place. More,
however, of this hereafter. Should it please Providence to guard me from
poison and the poniard, I will plainly shew who are the violators of all
morality, who are the blasphemers not only of God, but of Nature also.

My wife, as I have already said, soon recovered her wonted cheerfulness,
which was in no small degree gratifying to me; and as there was also a
prospect of our being blessed with another increase of our family, the
loss of our first child ceased to weigh so heavily upon our spirits. My
father could not refrain from expressing his satisfaction at the salutary
improvement in our manner of living. We kept less expensive company, and,
as he said, we appeared to live more for ourselves. Although he admitted
the loss which we had sustained to be a severe one, yet, as it had
operated as a check upon our giddy and extravagant mode of living, he
confessed that he did not so much regret it, especially as he saw there
was no great danger of the name becoming extinct.--He now often paid us a
visit, and I began not merely to look upon him as a father, but likewise
to enjoy his society, as one of my most valued companions and confidential
friends. At my house he was always a welcome guest, and we were always
received with the greatest kindness at his. I was now beginning to
experience what it is to enjoy true and substantial domestic comfort, and
I promised myself the greatest pleasure, as well as the greatest
advantage, from this friendly intercourse with my intelligent and
much-valued parent. Among other things on which he kindly admonished me,
he once more pointed out to me the folly as well as the unprofitableness
and ingloriousness of remaining in the yeomanry cavalry, which he strongly
advised me to quit, while I could do so with credit to myself--"for," said
he, "I cannot be insensible to your situation; I view with a considerable
degree of alarm your sanguine disposition; and I fear that your enthusiasm
will some day lead you into some serious scrape with the selfish and
unpatriotic officers under whose command you have placed youreself. I know
that you entertain a proper feeling upon the subject; that you are
actuated by the most laudable and disinterested motive, to serve your
country; but, when I reflect upon the sinister views of those who are your
commanders, I dread some disagreement with your officers, that may prove
very unpleasant, and then you may not be able to get rid of your
engagements, without their endeavouring to fix a stigma upon you, in some
way or other. I see that, already, they are all jealous of your
independent spirit. Most of your comrades are the dependants and mere
vassals of their officers; you are almost the only one amongst them that
can say you are free from any obligation to any of them. The officers
dread your spirit, and the privates envy your independence; they are most
of them actuated by selfish views, while you, on the contrary, are glowing
with the amor patriae, and think of nothing but how you can best serve your
country. Such opposite qualities will never amalgamate together, and you
may rely upon it that there is great danger in your situation." I listened
more attentively to my father's reasoning than I had heretofore done,
because his predictions had proved so true that I was convinced of the
correctness of his judgment, and that his superior knowledge of mankind
had taught him how to estimate the views and objects of these men much
better than I could. But yet I could not bear the thought of leaving the
yeomanry at a time when an invasion was threatened by the French, and I
therefore determined not to quit the troop till the return of peace.

During the first year of my marriage I had attended very little to the
great political events which had occurred, on the continent as well as at
home, but I shall slightly touch upon them here for the information of the
reader.--On the 7th of Jan. 1796, the Princess Charlotte of Wales was
born. Alas! poor unhappy, ill-fated, cruelly-treated princess! On the 7th
of February the notorious Daniel Stewart circulated in London, for
stock-swindling purposes, a forged French newspaper called l'Eclair. For
this fraud he was tried and convicted in a penalty of 100_l_. on the third
of July. In this year Bonaparte gained the most signal victories over
Wurmser and other Austrian, Piedmontese, and Italian Commanders, and at
the battles of Lodi, Castiglione, Rivoli, &c. established his character as
a brave and consummate general. Spain had already, towards the end of
1795, concluded not merely a peace with France, but also entered with her
into a treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, which was this year
followed up by her declaring war against Great Britain. In Germany, a
suspension of arms was concluded between France, Bavaria, Wirtemburgh, and
Baden; and Saxony and Hesse agreed to a neutrality, while in Italy peace
was made by Parma, Sardinia, and Naples. Bonaparte and the republican
troops under his command took not less than sixty thousand prisoners in
the course of this campaign, and repeatedly drove before them all the
enemies of their country. Pitt was intriguing with the Court of Russia,
but the Empress Catherine being a decided enemy to him, she died suddenly,
and her son PAUL, who was more friendly to his views, ascended the throne.
Pitt seemed determined at all hazards not to make peace on any terms; but
his cunning friend Wilberforce, and his partizans, being alarmed at the
continuance of the war, the minister was obliged to please them, and
delude the people. For the purpose of temporising therefore, he sent Lord
Malmsbury to France, under the hollow pretence of making peace, when at
the same time he had orders not to accept of any terms. But the French
being aware of the true nature of his errand received him coolly, and
after a stay of eight weeks he was sent packing with a "flea in his ear."

The parliament having been dissolved, the new parliament met on the 9th of
October. A fresh cry of invasion was now raised, and Pitt brought forward
his plan of defence. These preparations caused great alarm throughout the
country, and a great bustle amongst the various corps of yeomanry. Bread
had sold at a moderate rate all the year; the average price being
eightpence halfpenny the quartern loaf. The loan, which was called the
loyalty loan, was eighteen millions, and the amount was subscribed in
fifteen hours. General Washington this year resigned the presidency of
America, and retired into private life, amidst the blessings of his
countrymen; a pure and spotless patriot; a friend to the liberty of
mankind; and the brave assertor of those of his fellow countrymen. Thus
ended the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety six.

The next year another attempt was made to negotiate a peace with the
French, but as the minister, Pitt, was not sincere, Lord Malmsbury having
been sent to Lisle to treat, the French Directory soon discovered that the
measure was only a cheat intended to keep down the dissatisfaction at
home. The negotiation was therefore soon broken off, like the last.
Ireland was in a very disturbed state, bordering upon rebellion. In the
early part of this year many provincial banks stopped payment, in
consequence of a demand on them for gold, and, to complete the climax of
this country's degradation and disgrace, an act of national bankruptcy was
declared on the twenty-seventh day of February; an order in council being
issued on that day, by virtue of which the Bank of England stopped payment
in cash. From that fatal hour, swindling, the most barefaced swindling,
has become legalized! On the eleventh of March, the King, for the first
time, refused to receive the petition of the Common Hall of the City of
London upon the Throne; those who took the lead in the liveries at that
time, basely surrendering the right of their fellow-citizens without a
struggle; and from that hour their boasted privileges were lost, and they
have ever since been degraded to the level of any common assembly. As they
have never made an effort to recover this their natural right of
presenting their petitions or addresses to the king upon the throne, it
must be owned that they have richly merited all the taunts and sneers of
the ministerial press, which have been invariably levelled at them since
that period. To add to the wretched state of the country, a mutiny broke
out amongst the seamen at Spithead, and then at the Nore, the latter of
which proved most formidable, and some blood was shed; but at length,
through the means of promises and bribes, the mutineers were induced to
compromise for some additional pay.

The alarm of invasion having been renewed with redoubled zeal, the
officers commanding yeomanry corps received letters or circulars from the
Lord-Lieutenants of counties to enquire if, in case of the enemy landing,
they would volunteer their services to the full extent of their respective
military districts. Our district was Wilts, Hants, and Dorset. The day was
appointed for the Everly troop to assemble, and to give their answer to
this application. In the meanwhile, the officers were very busy amongst
the men, particularly _Cornet Dyke_, who was our most active officer. My
father informed me of this; and he at once declared that they, the brave
Everly troop, would, now they were put to the test, refuse to go out of
their county. I, however, stoutly maintained, that although the officers
might be so disposed, it was impossible that the men in a body could prove
themselves such despicable cowards; as, if they did refuse to extend their
services, they would ever afterwards be ashamed to look each other in the
face. My father's reply was, "mark my words. Shameful and disgraceful as
it will be, yet I have heard quite sufficient to convince me that a great
majority of them have been _spoken to_, and that they have made up their
minds to refuse to comply with the request of the government; and now,
young man, as I before told you, disgrace will be the lot of the Everly
Troop. I know the officers too well to be deceived, and I should have
thought that the specimen you had of their VALOUR, in the Salisbury
affair, would have completely opened your eyes, unless, indeed, you are
intentionally blind." I told him that I hoped they had been so gibed and
scouted, in consequence of their behaviour upon that occasion, that they
would be ashamed now to give an open refusal to stand forward, when they
were called upon in such a public manner. "Why," said he, "one would think
it is almost impossible; but I know my men so well, that I entertain not
the least doubt upon the subject; and therefore you must get out of it as
well as you can; but let me give you one word of advice." I, however,
began to be impatient of advice upon such a point; for, while we had been
in conversation, I had, as was usual with me, made up my mind how to act,
and I at once told my father that, in case they should refuse to go, I
would resign, and enter instantly into some other troop, who had
volunteered to extend their services. "Oh!" said my father, "what you are
again ready to rush headlong into fresh difficulties! If they refuse to
extend their services, it will, I own, be a very fair ground for your
resignation, and then you may thank God you have had an opportunity of
saving yourself from disgrace, for disgrace I was always convinced such
playing at soldiers must come to at last, especially when I know what sort
of officers are at your head. If you should resign, why not stay at home
with your wife, and attend to your business? Depend upon it, this mode of
acting will prove not only much more profitable to you, but much more
honourable in the end. What can you expect if you go into another troop?
Even though they have volunteered, yet you will find that ninety-nine out
of a hundred of them have entered into the troop from some interested
motive. Your disinterested patriotic intentions will consequently only
raise you enemies in those who will not know how to appreciate your
motives, and those who do comprehend those motives will only be jealous of
you, because you out do them in devotion to the cause which you wish to
promote. If you must be a soldier, give me up the farm, and I will buy you
a commission in some regular regiment at once. You may thus chance to gain
renown or an honourable death; but even there, never expect to obtain
promotion, unless you can conquer your unbending spirit. Promotion is not
gained by merit, but by parliamentary interest, and by servility to your
superior officers. Take my advice, therefore, and if the Everly troop
disgrace themselves, quit them, and think yourself well out of what I
always thought was a scrape." This wise and salutary advice was not
followed by me, though I could not but admit the propriety of it.

The field day arrived, and I was one of the first upon the ground, which
was a beautiful sheepdrove upon the Downs, between Everly and Amesbury. I
will call this my second campaign. As the several members of the corps
arrived upon the ground, I eagerly accosted them, to know their
determination; but most of them appeared shy, and gave evasive answers. I
could, however, discover that some of them had got their _cue_; and these
began boldly and manfully to inveigh against the want of good faith in the
government, in thus striving to draw the troop into a snare. Some of them
even swore that it was as bad as kidnapping; for that the terms upon which
the troop had been raised were, that its services should not be required
out of the county without the consent of the persons who composed it.
"Aye," said I, "that is very true, and we are now, I understand, called
together to be asked if we will consent, in case of an invasion, to go out
of the county." My speech was broken short by some of them espying our
gallant Cornet, moving majestically but slowly along, over the adjoining
hill. As he approached us, he was saluted by each of the members in their
turn; but, when he came up to me, I fixed my eye upon him with a
scrutinizing glance, and so intent was I in endeavouring to trace if
possible his thoughts, that I actually forgot to offer him the accustomed
salutation, till he reminded me of my inattention, by saying, "good
morning, Mr. Hunt." I apologised for my absence of mind, but the fact was,
that as I eyed our gallant commander, the _dressing-gown scene_ had
involuntarily crept across my brain, and for the moment had so absorbed
all my attention, that I was conscious of nothing but the ludicrous
appearance of the mighty hero on the morn of the battle of Salisbury.

The bugle now sounded, to announce the approach of the gallant captain
Astly, and the troop fell in and was passed through the various manoeuvres
by the cornet. This being over, the cornet, after a short conference with
the captain, formed us into a circle, within which, as far as I recollect,
sat on their chargers, the captain, the cornet, and the Rev. Mr. Polhill,
the chaplain to the troop, who held the principal farm at Everly, which he
rented of our captain. Having read to us the copy of the Secretary of
State's letter to Lord Pembroke, the lord-lieutenant of the county, which
stated that an invasion was meditated by our implacable enemy the French,
that the government anticipated almost daily an attempt to put it into
execution, and that his lordship requested to know whether, in case an
invasion actually occurred, the Everly troop would extend their services
to the military district of Hants, Wilts and Dorset, the cornet addressed
us in a long speech. In this speech the orator did not content himself
with leaving the decision to our unbiassed judgments, nor even with hints
of his dissatisfaction at the proposal; for he boldly expressed his
decided hostility to the measure, and strongly reprobated the idea of
farmers leaving their business by going out of the county. His very
luminous harangue appeared wonderfully successful in convincing a great
proportion of the troop that, by staying at home and looking after our
farms, and protecting our own wheat ricks, we should not only be serving
ourselves, but should also be supporting the government and opposing the
invasion, much more effectually than we should be by marching forty or
fifty miles to the coast, to meet the enemy. He proved to demonstration to
his willing hearers, that it was our duty to stay at home, and
consequently to send an answer to say that, as we had entered the troop
for the purpose of keeping in order the turbulent in our own district, we
did not feel ourselves justified in leaving the county under any
circumstances. He, however concluded in a most heroical strain, by
declaring that, in giving this advice to the troop, he was not actuated by
any fear, (oh no!) of meeting the enemy; on the contrary, he lustily
threatened that if ever they should dare to come into the county of Wilts,
at least near Everly or Syrencot[12], they should receive an exemplary
chastisement for their temerity, and all the world should know of what
sort of men the Everly troop was composed.

I listened to this address with considerable impatience; for such was the
effect of example, that I found several of those who, in the morning, had
expressed their determination, at all hazards, to vote for going; now drew
back; and when I looked at them during this speech I perceived that their
eyes dropped down upon their holster pipes. As soon as the Cornet had
concluded, I put spurs to my charger, and darted out of my place into the
centre of the circle, where, having doffed my helmet, for the first time
in my life I addressed myself publicly to a body of my fellow-countrymen.
I began with these words: "Comrades, if not fellow-soldiers, at any rate
fellow-men, fellow countrymen." I then implored them to reflect upon the
consequences of sending such an answer as had been recommended by the
Cornet; and I warned them, that, if such an answer were sent, an eternal
stigma would be fixed upon the character of the troop. Our conduct upon
the Salisbury affair was, I told them, little known out of the county, and
we had now an opportunity of wiping off the stain from our character; but
if we publicly and deliberately refused to go out of our county to meet
the enemy, in case of invasion, we should justly deserve to be branded as
poltroons and cowards to the latest posterity. This language excited
considerable signs of disapprobation, some few laid their hands upon their
swords, and I recollect two of the troop, Gilbert and Workman, threatened
aloud. I was, however, not to be deterred. I proceeded in my address to
them, and explained the nature of the law in case of invasion; my father
having taken down Blackstone's Commentaries, and read to me an extract
respecting the _posse comitatus_. I pointed out to them, that the law
compelled every man to bear arms against invaders, and that the Yeomanry
Corps, who had been trained, would of course be among the first who would
be compelled to act whether they would or not; and that consequently, if
they did not feel a desire burning within their breasts either
successfully to resist the invader, or fall gloriously in the attempt, if
they did not possess any of the _amor patriae_, yet sound policy ought to
induce them to offer voluntarily those services which the law had the
power of inforcing against their will.

Although this was my first attempt to speak in public, yet, as my
sentiments flowed from my heart, as they were the spontaneous effusions of
an ardent spirit, burning with impatience to evince by deeds, as well as
words, that I really loved my country, and was willing to lay down my life
in its defence, and as I felt indignant at the attempt that had been made
by the Cornet to seduce them, as I thought, from their duty, I did not
want words to express myself, and I believe that it was quite as eloquent
a maiden speech as is made by some Honourable Members in the Honourable
House. At any rate it was prompted by a conviction of public duty, and I
have never regretted it, though I believe that it made me some rancorous
enemies, who have never lost an opportunity, from that day to this, of
speaking ill of me behind my back, and doing me an ill turn when they had
it in their power.

The Cornet scowled, and many of my comrades looked black, and muttered
dissent; but no one seemed inclined to debate the question. At length,
after having in vain waited a short time, to see if any one would come
forward to second my proposition, our worthy Chaplain, the Rev. Mr.
Polhill, gracefully took off his hat, and stepped up between me and some
of those who, unable to refute me, and dreading the result of my appeal,
were almost disposed to draw their swords upon me for the lecture which I
had given them. I shall never forget the venerable air of this truly pious
man, who was upwards of seventy years of age. It commanded instant
attention, and as he fixed his eye steadily upon me, the most solemn
silence reigned around. All the angry passions that my speech had excited
were now calmed into the most serious and silent attention, in the
expectation that he was about to give me a severe reprimand for my
intemperate, and, as some considered it, not only indiscreet but audacious
speech. After some short pause he began. I was, at first, rather in doubt
what course he meant to pursue, though, from his well known honourable and
independent character, I was not in much dread. To the vexation and
astonishment of the troop, his first sentence was a warm eulogium upon
what he was pleased to call my eloquent appeal to their feelings as men,
and to their hearts as Englishmen; and this compliment to me he followed
up with a strain of impassioned eloquence, enough to have made the veriest
coward brave. He repeated all my arguments, but in a style of language far
superior; and, while the tears flowed down his furrowed cheeks, he
implored them to save their character from the disgrace which appeared to
be hovering over them. He said, that however galling had been the words
which had dropped from the lips of his young friend, yet, as he could not
find any others that were more appropriate, he himself must repeat them;
and must plainly tell them, that, if they returned such an answer as was
recommended by the Cornet, they would deserve to be handed down to
posterity as poltroons and cowards. He would, he said, go still further;
they would not only deserve to be thus branded with infamy, but they would
actually be so; and their pusillanimity would be a taint in the blood of
their children's children. He begged, he prayed, he intreated, he implored
that they would not disgrace the name of man by conduct at once so
cowardly and so foolish. But he begged, prayed, intreated and implored in
vain--his venerable character protected him from the boisterous
disapprobation that they had shown towards me, but they heard him unmoved,
or rather as hogs would have listened to the harmonious notes of Orpheus,
with a _grunt_. Still persisting, however, in his efforts to wake a spark
of courage in their cloddish bosoms, he declared that, when the day
arrived that a foreign foe set foot upon British ground, if he could
procure no other conveyance, he would crawl upon his hands and knees to
the coast to meet them, and there, old and feeble as he was, he would make
a bulwark of his shattered frame, to check in the first onset their daring
attempt to destroy our rights and liberties. In fact, he did every thing
that man could do, to persuade them to perform their duty, and to save
their character from such foul irretrievable disgrace. It was, however,
all in vain; for with the exception of myself and the venerable chaplain,
they all held up their hands against going out of the county, and it was
decided that they should send an answer to that effect to the Lord
Lieutenant. I made one more effort, in a short but spirited appeal to
their honour as men, to their character as Englishmen; but all
remonstrance was thrown away. With one accord they stamped the degrading
name of coward upon the colours of the Everly troop of Yeomanry, and I
immediately handed over my sword and pistols, or rather indignantly threw
them upon the ground, declaring that from that hour I no longer belonged
to them, and adding that I would, the next morning, enroll my name in any
corps which had extended its services to the military district, unless
there was one that had volunteered for unlimited service, in which case I
would enroll my name in that corps. I then shook bands with the worthy
chaplain, who warmly applauded my conduct, saying that he never would
attend them again upon any occasion, and that he would much rather have
sacrificed his life than have lived to see so fine a body of his
fellow-countrymen desert, at such a moment their duty to themselves and
their country. I felt so ashamed of their conduct that I put spurs to my
horse and galloped from the field in disgust, lest, by my remaining even
for a short time, I should become contaminated by some portion of their
vile spirit. Thus ended my military career in the Everly troop of
Yeomanry, among the members of which were many private friends, for whom I
entertained a very sincere regard, and who would never have disgraced
themselves in such a way had it not been for the unworthy recommendation
and advice of their officers.

As my father's house lay in my way home, I called on him, to inform him of
the result of the meeting. As I rode into the yard he met, me, and seeing
I had left my sword behind, "Ah!" he exclaimed, "I see that it is just as
I predicted." When I had related to him all that had passed, "Well!" said
he, "this is really too bad to laugh at. The expedition against the old
women at Salisbury was truly ludicrous; but this deliberate act of
cowardice they never can get over; it must and will be blazoned throughout
the whole country. You have done rightly, you had no choice; the man who
after this decision remains a moment in that troop must expect to be
laughed at and despised as long as he lives. But mark my words: prepare
yourself for all sorts of ill nature and slander. They who have not had
the spirit to follow your example will never forgive you, and to gloss
over their own baseness, they will load you with all possible calumny, and
will miss no opportunity to do you an injury. As by your resignation you
have exposed Astley and Dyke to great odium, be careful how you get into
their clutches, or they will squeeze you, rely upon it." I demanded how
they could injure me? "Oh!" said my father, "you know but very little of
mankind; they that seek an opportunity will seldom want an occasion to do
a malicious act. You have been a great sporting crony of Astley's, and
have frequently hunted with him; he keeps a pack of hounds, and has hunted
over my property, and my farms, for many years, and we have sometimes,
though sparingly, sported in return over his. Depend upon it, this will
all be put a stop to now."

I replied that upon an average Astley had hunted ten times over my
father's farms, where we had sported upon his estate once; that Mr.
Astley's hounds met once a week all the season at Littlecot Furze, and
that he could not start a hare upon his own estate, or any part of it,
without a great chance of her running over some part of my father's
property. "That is all very true," said my father, "but, if he cannot be
revenged of you in any other way, he will give up his own hounds, in order
that he may prevent you from coming over any part of his estate." I had
often heard of a man cutting off his own nose to spite his neighbour, but
I did not think that, in this instance, it was very likely to happen.
"Trust me," said he, "within one month he will forbid you from going over
his lands; therefore be on your guard; for be assured that I know the
littleness of his soul better than you do, and he will spare no pains to
be revenged upon you."

I dined with my father, and returned home in the evening, whither I found
the news of the disgrace of the Everly troop had flown before me. My wife
heartily approved of my conduct; for she came from the wrong stock to
approve of any thing dishonourable. I was received with open arms, as I
always had been; but if I had returned and told my wife that I was one of
the number that had refused, in case of invasion, to go out of the county
to oppose the enemy, I sincerely believe, that I should, for the first
time, have met with a very different reception. At all events I should
have deserved it.

On the following morning, before I was quite dressed, a messenger came
with a letter from Lord Bruce, the colonel of the regiment of Wiltshire
yeomanry. I broke the seal and read a very flattering eulogium from his
Lordship, on my gallant conduct in resigning my situation in the Everly
troop, in consequence of the troop having, as his lordship expressed
himself, disgraced itself in such a way as rendered it impossible for an
honourable man to remain in it. After paying me many very high
compliments, he solicited the honour of enrolling in his troop, (the
Marlborough troop,) the name of a gentleman who had acted such a gallant
part. After I had breakfasted, I sat down to write an answer; but before I
had finished it, another messenger arrived, from an officer of the Devizes
troop, to request that I would honour that corps with my name. As,
however, Lord Bruce had applied first, and as in that troop I happened to
have a particular friend, Mr. Thomas Hancock, the banker of Marlborough, I
complied with his lordship's pressing invitation, and enrolled my name in
the Marlborough troop the next day.

How true the prediction of my father was, will be seen hereafter, and it
soon began to be verified. Before the week was out, I was honoured with a
visit from old John Sainsbury, the Everly keeper, who served me with
notices from Mr. Astley and all his vassals, not to trespass upon any part
of his estates; or from henceforth I should be treated as a wilful
trespasser. At the same time he informed me, that his master was grown
exceedingly fond of seeing the hares very plenty upon his manors, and that
he had _disposed of his hounds_. This was so precisely what my father had
anticipated, that I almost began to think that he possessed some
extraordinary means of becoming acquainted with the intentions of men,
more than those furnished by common observation. I sent my compliments to
the gallant Capt. and desired him to mark his hares, by burning them in
the horns, and to teach his keepers to persuade them to stay at home; for
if I caught any of them straying upon my father's property, I should
certainly make them pay forfeit, and would, if I could, prevent a single
one of them from returning to tell the fate of their companions. The
reader will understand that the property at Everly belonging to Mr.
Astley, joined my father's, without any other division than a mere furrow
struck with the plough, between the arable lands; and that the division
between the down lands consisted of old bound balls, which were merely
small heaps of the sod thrown up together, perhaps some hundred years
before; so that those who were not aware of this circumstance, might pass
over the plain twenty times, without ever observing that there was any
thing to mark the separation; so slight and imperceptible are the
landmarks that divide all the estates that are situated upon Salisbury

The first field day of the Marlborough troop came and I joined their
ranks. I was fully equipped; the whole of the regiment being dressed in
the same uniform as that which was worn by the Everly troop, no alteration
was necessary; and as each person supplied himself, at his own expence,
with uniform and accoutrements, the arms alone being given by the
government, I required nothing but a sword and a brace of pistols, with
which I was instantly provided. My new comrades had all volunteered to
extend their services, which was my inducement for joining them; but they
cut a very sorry figure in the field, both as to their accoutrements and
regimentals, and they were not half so well mounted as my late comrades. I
could have selected half a score of horses out of the Everly troop that
were worth the whole of those of the Marlborough; and as for their
discipline, if they had been drilled every day for a year, they would not
have been equal to the troop which I had left. Lord Bruce, the colonel,
was a complete novice, and he suffered himself to be led by the nose by a
serjeant of the 15th, of the name of Walker, who knew little more about
the matter than himself. I, however, attended from day to day, without any
one attempting to teach me any thing. There were certain fines levied for
particular faults, in all these troops, such as for absence without
sufficient cause, talking in the ranks, coming to the field too late, not
being dressed in uniform, &c. &c.; but I was never reprimanded, fined, or
sent to drill, while I was in the troop. We had a dinner at the Castle, at
Marlborough, his Lordship in the chair; but as most of the troop were
composed of his father's, Lord Aylesbury's tenants, and his dependants,
and tradesmen, or belonged to the corporation of the rottenest of rotten
boroughs, Marlborough and Great Bedwin, there were very few, except myself
and my friends, Hancock and Hitchcock, who dared to say their souls were
their own. His lordship was always very polite to me, but he did not
appear to relish my delivering my sentiments, which I did with great
freedom, upon these occasions. In the field, in the ranks, I knew how to
conduct myself, and never failed to pay implicit attention to my duty, nor
ever deviated from the strictest discipline; but, when I was at his
lordship's table; or at a mess with the troop, I knew of no distinction; I
never felt any other controul than that which was dictated by politeness
and good manners. Perhaps, young as I was, I might have been thought to
have delivered myself upon some occasions, and upon some subjects, with
too much freedom; and being always bred up with the idea that nothing was
so base and degrading as a slavish disposition, I might, in my endeavour
to avoid this, have erred by falling too much into the opposite extreme;
but the natural bent of my disposition always led me to avoid giving
offence to any one intentionally. My maxim was, never to offer an insult
to any one, and to be particularly careful not to say any thing to hurt
the feelings of any person in an inferior station of life to my own; never
to take umbrage lightly; but if anyone, be he who he might, gentle or
simple, offered me a premeditated insult, always to resent it upon the
spot, whatever might be the consequence of my so doing.

I now contracted a very intimate acquaintance with Mr. Thomas Hancock the
Banker, and always made his house my home when I went to Marlborough,
though my wife's elder brother kept the Castle Inn, where I was always
welcome. This brother and myself were, however, never particularly
intimate, for we were of very different dispositions. He had been, as I
have often heard his father say, and himself acknowledge, a very wild,
dissipated youth; but as the "wildest colts make the tamest horses," so
had this gentleman put on a very sober sedate demeanour, while he was yet
but a young man; and the loss of his wife, who left him with a large young
family, increased rather than diminished the grave turn of his mind. His
acquaintance lay mostly among the dependents and tenants of his landlord,
Lord Aylesbury, and as his chief pursuit appeared to me to be directed
towards amassing a fortune, and as our tastes were cast in a very
different mould, our friendship, though we were upon very good terms, was
not of the inseparable kind. He was very much respected among the persons
whom I have before described, with whom he associated; and as he knew well
on which side his bread was buttered, he took good care to pay particular
attention to the steward of Lord Aylesbury. Nor, as the "grey mare was
always the better horse" in that family, did he forget to pay due court to
the steward's lady, who, to my taste, was one of the most disgusting of
disgusting women, both in person and manners. When he first lost his wife,
who was a pretty, amiable, fascinating woman, he seemed as if he would
sink under the loss, and we at one time feared that he would never recover
from his dejected state. We were, however, agreeably disappointed, as we
found that "time wore off the deepest afflictions;" but I own that I
imbibed rather a prejudice against him, when I soon after discovered that
he was upon the point of marrying another lady, a buxom widow, the very
reverse sort of woman to his deceased wife. This lady was the widow of a
grocer, who had left her some little property, and she was therefore too
much of a lady to marry an Innkeeper, and she had sufficient influence
over him to make him quit the Inn, and commence gentleman coach master
before she gave him her hand.

One day, in the beginning of August in this year, just as I was preparing
to commence harvest by wheat reaping, I received a message from my father,
to say he wished to see me, as he was not well. I enquired of the servant
whether my father was seriously indisposed, and I received for answer that
he had kept his bed all day. At this season of the year, I had generally a
horse standing saddled in the stable, and although my dinner was just
going upon the table, I mounted, and having desired my family not to wait
for me, I appeared at my father's bed-side, who lived at a distance of two
miles from Widdington, in less time than that in which many persons who
were called active would have put on their boots and changed their coat. I
had always been bred up to act with decision, and make all my movements in
quick time; and as the servant had also made no delay, my father expressed
his surprise and pleasure at the rapidity with which I had attended to his
wish. I found him flushed in the face, and with a strong quick pulse. He
told me that be had had the misfortune to run a thorn in his leg as he was
getting through a hedge the day before, that he had endeavoured in vain to
extract it, that it had caused him considerable pain, and had brought on
so much fever in the night as to produce delirium. He had had it fomented
in the morning, and was in hopes that he was better, but now the
inflammation was so much increased that he was fearful of another restless
night. I begged to see his leg, and I found it to be so much inflamed,
that I wished him immediately to send for the family surgeon, or some
better advice. He answered that, if he were not better, he would in the
morning. In the mean time, he requested me to look round his farms, and
attend to his servants. I told him that I would most cheerfully do so, but
that I must entreat him to let me send for some medical man. I had no
opinion of our family surgeon, yet I thought, as he was a man of very
extensive practice, that he would, at any rate, give my father something
to abate the irritation and fever, without the possibility of doing harm.
As my father would not consent to have any other person sent for, it was
agreed that I should dispatch a messenger to Pewsey, a distance of five
miles, while I rode round his farm, to see what the servants were doing.

As soon as I got down stairs I mounted my horse, and, not choosing to
trust to the uncertainty of sending a servant, I galloped the five miles
in about twenty minutes. The doctor was from home, but I soon traced him
out, and by intreaty I got him to make his old mare put her "best leg
before," and he was in a very short time in my father's bed room. After
having heard his statement, and examined his leg, he recommended bleeding,
which was immediately performed. Young and inexperienced as I was, I
suggested the propriety of some cooling cathartick; but our doctor said
no; my father required sleep, he must take a little warm gruel, and he
would send him some physick in the morning. As my father felt drowsy, he
requested me to go home; and hoping that he should have a better night, he
requested that I would look after his business next day, and that I would
come and see him in the forenoon. He had a most excellent nurse in my
eldest sister, who was his housekeeper; and I left him I own without any
sanguine hopes of finding him much better in the morning, although I did
not apprehend that any thing very serious was likely to arise from his

When I got home, I told my wife that I was fearful my father was laid up
for the harvest, and I must have her assistance more amongst my servants
than I had before required of her, as I was convinced that I should have
to attend to the whole of my father's large and extensive business as well
as my own, and I must make my arrangements accordingly. Instead of waiting
for the forenoon, I called upon my father before 4 o'clock the next
morning. When I reached his house my sister was up; she had not been in
bed since I saw her; my poor father's leg had been very painful all night,
and his fever had again occasioned delirium. I found him in a burning
fever, and his inflammation alarmingly increased in his leg: since I left
him, he had not, he told me, slept a single moment. I at once proposed to
have better advice, and urged the necessity of procuring that advice in
time. But who should we get? I recommended my surgeon, Mr. Robert Clare of
Devizes. My father had always professed an objection to him, because he
said he was a drinking profligate character, but I pleaded that he was an
intelligent surgeon, and I soon got over my father's scruples, which I had
no sooner done than I was for effecting the object. Devizes was twelve
miles distant, but with me the greater the distance the less delay was to
be made. I therefore ordered a trustworthy servant to do his best to
manage the business, and I was at Devizes and had called the doctor up and
was at breakfast before the clock struck six. In ten minutes after that
time our horses were at the door, and the proper medicines being prepared,
I had them in my pocket and was mounted. Mr. Clare's foot was also in his
stirrup, and, he was giving some directions to his assistant, when a man
came galloping up to the door with one of his hands wrapped up in a
handkerchief, streaming with blood. We enquired what was the matter, to
which he replied that he was a birdkeeper, and that wishing to draw a
charge of shot he had held the gun upside down, with the intent to shake
the shot into his hand; but by some accident the gun had gone off, and the
charge had passed through the middle of his hand. At this moment up came
another man on horseback, to say that a neighbouring lady was taken in
labour, and that the doctor or his assistant must come that moment, as
"'twas missusses vust child, and mayster was vrightened out of his
senses." Clare dispatched Duffet his assistant off to the good lady in the
straw; and then said, "Harry, if you will get off your horse and assist
me, we will manage matters for this poor fellow." "Ah," said the man,
"_cut off my hand_ as quick as you can, sir, for I have left all the rooks
eating my master's corn, and I long to get back again to send them about
their business." The doctor smiled as he unbound his hand, which was in a
most shocking mangled state. Instead of proceeding to amputate the hand,
the doctor, after having washed it in warm water, informed him that he
would save his thumb and little finger, if he would stand steady while he
took off the three middle fingers. "Very well, sir, if you please, but be
sharp," was his reply.--I held his arm, and Mr. Clare, who was a skilful
surgeon, in a very few minutes took out the three middle fingers nearly up
to the wrist, and having bound up the wound and pressed the thumb and
little finger nearly together, he desired the man to ride slowly home, and
told him that he would see him again on his return from my father.

The doctor always rode excellent horses, and having mounted one of his
very best, and the road lying over the Downs, we arrived at my father's
house twenty minutes before eight o'clock. I had already ridden a distance
of twenty-six miles. Mr. Clare having examined my father's leg, pronounced
the case to be a serious one, and at once recommended that Mr. Grant, an
eminent surgeon of Bath, should be called in, as well as Dr. Hill a
physician, (for form's sake) from Devizes. He said to my father, whom he
knew to be a man of an uncommonly firm mind, "I know you will not be
alarmed, Sir, but we must have good advice and assistance, or your leg is
in such a state that I fear amputation may be necessary. I have therefore
desired your son to send or go for Mr. Grant, of Bath, to assist me, who
is one of the most eminent men in the profession." My father firmly
replied, "if you think, Sir, that it is absolutely necessary, never wait
for Mr. Grant, but take off my leg at once."--"No, Sir," replied Clare, "I
shall not advise that at present. I will do all that is necessary for you
now; but let your son depart for Mr. Grant immediately. I know your son's
expedition, and I know that he will be more likely to prevail upon Mr.
Grant to come than any one we can send. In the mean time I will bring over
Dr. Hill from Devizes, and see you in the afternoon."

This was so settled, and without delay I had changed my horse and galloped
back to Devizes; with Mr. Clare, in my way to Bath. As we passed along he
informed me, seriously, that my father was not merely in a dangerous
state, but that he had not even the slightest hopes of his recovery. I was
thunder-struck; I had hardly ever thought of such a thing. My father, at
the age of 63, was one of the most healthy, vigorous, active men in the
kingdom, and had scarcely ever had a day's serious illness in his life. To
see him walk, ride, mount his horse, or in fact do any thing; he was so
active, so alert, that his motions were more like a youth of eighteen or
twenty than those of an old man; and to look upon him, no one would guess
his age to be much above forty, though his hair lead been as white as the
driven snow for years. The truth was, that he had all his life been an
active, temperate, prudent man, and at the age of sixty his constitution
had never received a single shock. I have often heard him say, that he had
never been ill since he had the small pox, which he caught in the natural
way, when a boy at the age of eight years. In the drawing-room, he
frequently shamed myself, as well as all the young men of the village; for
he was the most polite and attentive man I ever saw. If a lady dropped her
fan, her shawl, her handkerchief, nay even a pin, he was the first to
spring to her aid and pick it up; and this he would do in less time than
one of our modern yawning, lounging, dandies would take to drawl out "pray
Maam shall I have the honour, &c." He would take a cheerful bottle, and
make one of the merriest of the gayest party, but never to excess; for he
was arrived at that time of life that he knew how to enjoy every pleasure
in moderation. He had acquired wealth sufficient for all his wants, and
enough to assist a friend; and, where he had a confidence, he was
unlimited in his generosity. If he saw a man persecuted unjustly, he was
sure to become his friend. In one respect this had led him into a great
error, he having advanced to a brewer of Bath as much as seven thousand
pounds, without much better than personal security. He had the finest
farms in that part of the county, and they were cultivated like gardens;
no man was surrounded with brighter prospects, or was possessed of greater
worldly blessings; and When Mr. Clare seriously told me that he had no
hopes of his recovery, I was absolutely overpowered with astonishment and
anguish, and was incapable of uttering a single sentence. "If," said he,
"your father ever recovers it will be a miracle; it is too late to attempt
amputation. If I had seen him yesterday, before he was bled, his life
might have been saved; but my opinion is, that if the Pewsey doctor had
taken a pistol and shot him through the head, he would not have been more
instrumental to his death than he was at the moment when he took a pound
of blood from him in the state in which his leg must have been last night.
Between you and I, he is a murdered man, and I do not believe that all the
surgeons on earth can save him without a miracle; but we must see what can
be done. I know you will not be long riding the thirty miles, to Bath.
When you return, call at my house, and leave word at what time Mr. Grant
will come, and I will accompany him to Littlecot, either to-night or
to-morrow morning. As you go through Devizes call likewise upon old Hill
the physician, and make him ride over this afternoon. We must let him earn
a guinea or two, as he wants it badly enough, and there is no chance of
his doing any harm, for he will not venture to alter what I have ordered,
unless I am present. As soon as Grant comes we will do our best; though I
assure you I cannot give you any hopes."

As I had to ride a distance of sixty miles, I calculated the time I should
be on the road, and as I was to go thither and back on the same horse, and
it was very hot weather, I somewhat slackened my pace, that I might not
knock up the poor animal. As I passed through Devizes, I left word for Dr.
Hill to repair immediately to my father's; and without loosing one single
moment for my own refreshment, I reached my friend's, at the brewery in
Walcot Street, a few minutes before one o'clock, having come the thirty
miles in some thing less than three hours. Two men were instantly set to
clean and refresh my horse, to prepare him for my return, while I hastened
to find Mr. Grant. He was visiting his patients, for he at that time had
the best practice in Bath. Seeing my distress, his servant readily
accompanied me to that part of the town where he was most likely to meet
with his master; and we soon found the doctor, coming out of a gentleman's
house in Brock Street.[21] Upon my accosting him with considerable
earnestness and agitation, he invited me to return with him into the
house, where I informed him of my earnest desire that he should proceed
forthwith, in a chaise and four, to see, and if possible, save my father.
To this pressing application he replied that, sorry as he was to be
obliged to refuse, he must nevertheless do so, it being impracticable for
him to leave Bath; but he added, that his old friend, Bob Clare, was as
able a man, and as good a judge how to proceed in such a case, as himself
or any surgeon or physician in England. I urged that it was Mr. Clare's
most particular wish that he should come; that Mr. Clare had not time to
write, or he would have explained that it was a peculiar case. I then
described it, together with the symptoms, as well as I could. He shook his
head, and said at once, "I fear, if I could go, that I should be too late.
That Pewsey doctor can kill much easier than I can cure. The taking of
blood away at such a moment was most stupid, it was most damnable; he
ought to have put blood into him, instead of taking it away. I fear, after
that, there is no hopes. What says Bob Clare?" "I am sorry to say, sir,
that you are too well agreed in your opinion; but for God's sake lose no
time to fly and do your utmost to save the best of parents." He repeated
that it was impossible; for that he had the most important engagements
that evening, to break which would never be pardoned, either by his
patients, or by the medical men who were coming over, one of them from
Clifton, on purpose to meet him. He said, however, that he would recommend
me to a friend, who would, perhaps, be able to attend me; and he assured
me that he was a very clever man, quite as capable as himself in such an
affair. No, this would not do for me; Mr. Clare wished the assistance of
Mr. Grant, and I would not accept of any one else. I implored, I wept,
and, in agony of supplication, I knelt and seized his knees, declaring
that I would not loose my hold till he had promised to go to see my
father. I offered him any sum that he might demand, and assured him that I
would engage to procure such post horses, as would take him there and back
in six hours. He gazed upon me with astonishment. At length be exclaimed,
"your uncommon filial piety has triumphed. No money should have induced me
to leave Bath under my present circumstances; but such devotedness, such
unfeigned and unusual affection in a son for a father, I never before
witnessed:" and turning round to the lady of the house, who, with her two
daughters, had been drawn to the spot by my raving agony, he said, "I
should be for ever ashamed of myself if I did not yield to the prayers of
such unbounded filial affection."--Then addressing me, "return," said he,
"my young friend, and inform Clare that I will take him up in the morning
at six o'clock, and we will be at your father's before eight. I see that
you think there is great delay in this, but nothing on earth could induce
me to leave Bath before I have seen my patients here. I have an important
engagement, a consultation, which will not be concluded before one in the
morning. Instead of going to bed, I will start at two in a chaise with
four horses, and will be at Devizes by six; and do you take care that Bob
is ready, so as not to keep me waiting, for I shall be there to a minute."
I could not help sighing, and looking doubtfully, and as he took my hand,
I said, "are you sure that you will come? Are you sure that nothing will
prevent you?" "My good lad," he replied, "in our profession we are so
often put in mind of the uncertainty of life, that we are sure of nothing
but _death_. But this you may rely upon, that if I am alive and able to
come, I will be at Devizes at six o'clock, and at your father's by eight."
I thanked him most earnestly, and enquired if I could do any thing to
forward his good intention, by hiring or bespeaking the horses for his
carriage. To this enquiry he replied, that his servant would take care of
that; but that I might order horses to be ready for him at Devizes. I
consequently assured him that four of the best post horses in the kingdom
should be ready and waiting for him at Mr. Clare's door, by the time he
arrived there; and this I could safely promise, as I had the interest to
procure such from the Bear Inn. I now took leave of him, and he gave me
the most friendly salutation; and so did the lady and her two daughters,
who had looked and listened to my entreaties with a great degree of
interest. Nor had they confined themselves to silent good wishes, for they
had most fervently joined in supplicating the doctor to comply with my
request; and they now expressed their earnest hopes for the recovery of my
father; which was balm to my ears.

I returned to my friend's, where I had left my horse; and, having taken
some slight refreshment, I proceeded without loss of time towards home.
Such a melancholy journey I never took before, nor have ever taken since!
My mind was wholly absorbed in the reflection that it was possible I
should so soon lose the best of fathers, of whose real value I seemed
never to have had a true estimation till now that I felt the dread of
losing him. A thousand sad forebodings hurried across my brain, and I
began already to feel that I had lost the best, the truest and the most
sincere friend whom I had in the world. Thus it is with poor weak mortals;
they seldom know how to appreciate the most inestimable blessings, till
they are in danger of being deprived of them! In this sad state I soon
reached Devizes, a distance of nineteen miles, on my return, scarcely
having noticed any of the objects which I had passed. I called upon Mr.
Clare, and left a note for him, to be ready by six o'clock in the morning,
and I ordered four of the best post horses at the Bear to be in waiting at
Mr. Clare's door at that hour. Then, without making any other delay, I
spurred forward, and reached my father's house within a few minutes of
three o'clock. I found him much in the same state as when I left him at
eight in the morning. My journey to Bath and back, _sixty miles_, I had
completed including my stay there, in seven hours; having now ridden, in
the whole, upon two horses, a distance of eighty-six miles.

My poor father, who had been anxiously expecting my return, expressed
great satisfaction at my speed; and taking my hand, he said, "Ah! you are
a generous, kind-hearted soul. I told your sister that, if you could find
Mr. Grant in any reasonable time, you would return by three o'clock. I
knew the horse would carry you the sixty miles in six hours; and I also
knew that nothing on earth would delay you when your father's health,
probably his life, was at stake. Well," added he, "what says Mr. Grant,
will he come?" "Yes, sir, he will be here by eight o'clock in the morning
or before; in the mean while, I find that Mr. Clare has ordered you to
take some medicine that he has sent." "And has he not ordered any thing to
be done to my leg; no fomentation or any other thing?" "No, sir." "Why
then," said he, "I fear he gives it up for lost; because, unless something
is done to stop the inflammation that is going on there, a mortification
must follow"--and having said these words he sunk back upon his pillow,
resigned and composed. His leg was not quite so painful as it had been;
for the fact was, that mortification had actually taken place, when Mr.
Clare first saw it in the morning.

My father now said that, after my very great exertion, in riding such a
distance, which he had reckoned up, while I was gone, as being eighty-six
miles, rest must be necessary for me; and he therefore did not choose that
I should ride any farther, for fear I should make myself ill also;
otherwise, he felt a great desire to know how the reaping went on, as
neither of us had seen the reapers since they began. I gaily told him I
was not at all exhausted; and that if such a thing could in the least add
to his pleasure or his comfort, I knew that I could ride to Bath and back
again without any difficulty. I added, that as to the reapers, I had
anticipated what would be his wish, and consequently, before I came in, I
had ordered the saddle to be put upon his horse; and, after my sister had
given me some tea, I intended to see all the reapers, both upon his farms
and my own--"Ah, my dear son!" he replied, "it must be all yours during
this harvest at any rate; no cure that can be performed upon me will
enable me to get about during this harvest. I am delighted with your
alacrity to please me; and, as I have full confidence in you, and know
your capability, I shall not give myself one moment's uneasiness about the

Having taken some tea with my father and sister, I mounted the third
horse, and rode round the fields, and saw every one of the reapers and
other servants. I recollect that there were seventy-six reapers at work in
my father's fields, and twenty-eight in mine, making in the whole one
hundred and four persons, who had that day begun reaping our wheat crop,
which was remarkably fine. I had an opportunity, for the first time since
I left home, which was about half-past three in the morning, to call and
see my wife; of whom I had not had a sight, though I had passed by the
house both in going and returning to Devizes and back, and to Bath and
back, four times during the day. I informed her of the true situation of
my father, and told her that I should return and sit up with him all

By the time I had performed my task it was between nine and ten o'clock,
and I had literally tired the third horse. My poor father objected so
strongly to my sitting up, that about twelve o'clock I retired to an
adjoining room to rest myself, but to sleep I found it impossible. I rose
again at four, and after I had enquired how he had passed the night, I
rode again round the farms more to pass away the hours previous to the
arrival of the surgeons and the physician than for any other purpose. A
little before eight, according to their appointment, they drove into the
yard in Mr. Grant's chariot with four horses. Oh God! what a moment for
me! I shall never forget the agitated state of my mind, divided as it was
between hope and fear. At the same instant that I hastened them to the
bed-room of my father, I would have given any thing to have delayed the
fatal, much-dreaded decision. But no time was to be lost. Seeing the agony
in which I stood speechless before them, Mr. Grant took me by the hand,
and said, "my good young friend, you must exert all your courage, and be
prepared for the worst; my old friend Clare has given me such a
description of your father's leg, that I have no hopes of a favourable
result." Old Dr. Hill, the physician, now said, "come! come! Mr. Grant, do
you bear up; do not make the young man down-hearted, "there are a great
many slips between the cup and the lip." It is not so bad as you imagine."
Good Heaven! what a strong recollection I at this moment have, of the look
of scorn and contempt which Mr. Grant bestowed upon the old Devizes
physician! He did not utter a word, but his look was enough.

Having informed my father of their arrival, they all three proceeded to
his bed-room; a most awful anxious moment for me, and I never before
prayed so devoutly for any thing in my life, as I now did for a propitious
decision from Mr. Grant. After the first salutation was over, the surgeons
began to examine his leg; and Mr. Grant pointed out to Clare a deep red
streak, that passed up the inside of his thigh, quite up to the body. He
asked my father whether he had any objection to have his leg opened; to
which my father promptly replied "not in the least. I beg you will do any
thing you think proper." Mr. Grant then said it would be necessary to make
a pretty deep incision, to ascertain the state of the inflamed part.
"Proceed as you please, sir," said my father, "I am quite capable of
bearing pain." Mr. Clare then made an incision in the calf of his leg,
three inches deep, quite down to the bone, and five or six inches in
length. The flesh appeared as black as mahogany, and very little blood
flowed. This my father bore without the least flinching. Some cloths were
wrapped round it, and they desired him to lie down, and compose himself a
little. "I will lie down, sir," he replied, "but I hope that I do not
appear discomposed." All this while I stood like a statue, as pale as
ashes, watching every look of Mr. Grant with intense anxiety. "Well, sir,"
said Mr. Grant, "I will consult with Mr. Clare, who understands these
matters quite as well as I do, and, in fact, as well as any surgeon in
England, and we will settle the course you shall follow. Your leg is in a
dreadful state, but we will see what can be done for you."

Mr. Grant now took my father by the hand, and was wishing him good
morning, when my father, holding his hand, firmly raised himself upon his
bed, and said, "I am very much obliged to you, Mr. Grant, for the trouble
you have taken to come such a long journey to see me; and my son will most
cheerfully remunerate you. There is, however, one thing more which I shall
request you to do before you leave me. It is that you will give me your
candid and honest opinion of my situation. Have you any well-grounded
hopes of my recovery? If you have not, you will confer a great obligation
upon me by saying so." Doctor Hill, who was standing at the other side of
the bed, prevented any answer, by saying, "Come! come! Mr. Hunt, you are
low spirited; come! come! you must not indulge in any such notions; you
will do very well again by and by." Upon which my father, turning
indignantly round, replied with a firm and rather strong voice, "stand
back, and keep your peace for once, Dr. Hill, and do not expose
yourself--I am neither low-spirited, nor so weak as to be put off by your
common-place cant. Have the modesty, at any rate, to listen with patience
to what I am going to say to Mr. Grant, who appears to be a sensible,
honest man, or else be so obliging as to leave the room." Then, turning
back to Mr. Grant, he said, "I have, sir, contrived so to live as not to
fear to die. You are a perfect stranger to me; but you have the character
of knowing your profession well, and also of being a humane man; at least
my son informs me that you have been induced to take this journey more
from humanity than for your fee. I have therefore, a perfect reliance upon
your judgment with respect to my case; you see that I have nerve to hear
my fate; and it will be a great relief to my mind, and it will afford me
even comparative consolation, to be informed of it from your lips, rather
than be left in suspence. Nay, I appeal to your humanity, to speak the
truth boldly at once, to save my poor afflicted son the pain of
communicating it."

Having said this, my father paused, to receive a reply. Oh! what an
agonising, heart-rending moment was this for me! Mr. Grant took my
father's hand, and seriously delivered himself as follows:--"After what
you have said, sir; after the calm and manly appeal which you have made to
me, and with so laudable and rational a desire to spare pain to the
feelings of your son, I should be doing an injustice to my own sense of
duty, and be imposing upon you, if I were to withhold any longer my honest
opinion; which is this, that, as a mortification had taken place, for many
hours even before Clare first saw you, and as it has approached your body,
I cannot, unless some very extraordinary interposition of Providence shall
occur, see any hopes of your recovery."

My father, who, during this sad speech, had looked him firmly in the face,
calmly and rather cheerfully replied, "I thank you, sir, most sincerely. I
am content! the Lord's will be done! Pray take care of my poor son." The
last words of the Doctor had produced such an awful effect upon me, that,
unperceived by them, I had sunk senseless into a chair.

As soon as I recovered a little I was led out of the room, more dead than
alive; and even at this moment the words of Mr. Grant vibrate afresh upon
my ear. Though I had anticipated such an answer, and had, indeed, no
reason to expect any other, yet when the blow came, it was much more
stunning, much more overwhelming, than I had any idea of. I was dumb with
sorrow; I now, by cruel experience, understood, what dumb sorrow meant. I
could neither speak nor give vent to my feelings by tears. The agony of my
poor sister, who saw enough to convince her what was the fatal sentence,
and who immediately went into violent hysterics, was the first thing that
recalled me to myself. The sight of her distress roused me from my
lethargy; yet it was with a sort of stupor that I moved to her assistance,
and when she had in some degree recovered, my brain was still whirled
round and bewildered. I had received such a shock that all the world
appeared as one vacant blank before my eyes.

Mr. Clare, at length, called my attention to the wish of Mr Grant to
return; and the chaise being brought to the door, he reminded me of the
doctor's fee. I asked Clare what would be proper; to which he replied that
twenty guineas would be handsome. I, however, gave him thirty, with which
he expressed himself very well satisfied; and on his departure he politely
requested that he might be numbered among my friends. I made my friend
Clare promise to return in the evening; and poor Hill, who had eyed with a
mixture of surprise and envy the large sum paid to Mr. Grant, received his
two guineas for his two visits, and left the place, cursing, I have no
doubt, Mr. Grant in his heart, for having spoken out so plainly as to
render his future visits useless, and thereby deprived him of three or
four more guineas in fees.

The moment they were gone I returned to my father, endeavouring to
suppress my sorrow as much as possible. Taking me by the hand, he said,
most tenderly, "My dear son, though I do not feel myself weak, yet, as we
must part so soon, pass as much of your time with me as you conveniently
can; for I feel at present in very sound mind, and I shall be enabled to
give you some good advice, which I hope will be of lasting service to you;
and, as it will be given at such a time as this, I am sure that it will
sink deep into your heart. In the first place you must not give way to
sorrow; for you must be a father to your sister, and to your unfortunate
little brothers, who are at school in London. I shall not for one moment
repine upon my own account. I am not afraid to meet a merciful Creator; he
is not the implacable being that some find it their interest to represent
him. I always have had, and shall, to the last, continue to have, full and
implicit confidence in his loving kindness and mercy. Be you, therefore,
calm and temperate in your grief, and consider that you have a great duty
to perform. It must be your task to comfort your father in his last
moments, when, perhaps, by the exhaustion of his bodily powers, he may
become weak in mind. If this be the Divine will, which, however, may
Heaven avert, be it your care to soothe, to comfort, and to cherish; and,
if possible, collect and controul my wandering senses. Promise me that you
will not leave me long at a time. In you I place my trust, and I know you
will not deceive me." I solemnly assured him that I would not leave the
house. "Nay,["] said he, "do not say so; all our large farms, with two or
three hundred servants, require your attendance, sometimes; but do not
leave me long at a time. I feel no symptoms of my approaching end. Send
for your wife. She will comfort and be a good companion for your sister,
and will assist her to nurse me. I know that you will all make me as
comfortable as you can while I remain here." To which I replied, by
entreating him not to doubt my affectionate attention.

Mr. Clare and Mr. Grant had both told me that they thought it impossible
that he could live more than three days at the most, as the mortification
had approached the vital parts.--As he was a very hearty strong man, with
a sound constitution, it was possible that he might live full three days;
but, nevertheless, as some change might bring on his dissolution much
sooner, he ought, they said, to lose no time in settling his affairs. He,
himself, began on this subject, by saying, "You know that I made my will
since your mother's death, and I see no cause to alter the distribution of
my property. I have dealt fairly by all my children. You will possess the
manor and estate of Glastonbury, by heirship, in addition to what I have
given you. I wish to make a codicil, to appoint you a trustee, in the
place of one of those whom I appointed when you were a minor." My uncle
Powell, my mother's brother, who was named as a trustee, and his attorney,
were, therefore, sent for, and the necessary alteration was made without
delay; and without giving my father any trouble, or uneasiness whatever.

As the mortification encreased, his leg grew less painful, and in the
night he had some sweet sleep; but I could not be prevailed upon to leave
his bed-side for a moment. I devoured every syllable that fell from his
lips; and I thought I had suffered the greatest loss if he required any
thing, and I was not upon the spot to furnish him with it. My sister was
quite knocked up; nature was over-powered; and as I now found the
assistance of Mrs. Hunt to be absolutely necessary, she was sent for in
the morning. Without her we should have been greatly at a loss; for my
poor sister was now more in need of being nursed herself than able to
assist in nursing my father, whom we contrived to keep perfectly easy and
free from any serious pain till his death. His amazing strength of
constitution went beyond the calculation of the doctors; for he lived four
days and nearly five nights, after the mortification had visibly passed
into his body. During the whole of this time, even to the very last, he
was perfectly sensible, and not till he ceased to exist, did he cease to
possess all his faculties in the soundest state.

The next morning after Mr. Grant had been, and confirmed his approaching
end, he begged to have my sister's piano forte brought up into his bed
room; and when he grew fatigued with giving me his kind admonitions, he
was much pleased and refreshed by my sister's playing and singing. He was
always passionately fond of music, and was a tolerable amateur himself,
and it appeared to give him as much pleasure as ever to hear her play and
sing "Angels ever bright and fair," &c. &c. Sacred music was mostly his
choice upon this occasion, yet he would sometimes request a lively and
cheerful air. These tunes frequently lulled him into a sweet sleep, which
he now and then enjoyed for an hour at a time; during which period I never
failed to watch over him with the most pious care, never suffering him to
be disturbed upon any occasion.

During the whole of this time he talked of his approaching dissolution
with the greatest calmness and composure; and he gave orders how he would
be buried, and named those of his servants who should carry him to the
church, to lay him by the side of his dear Elizabeth. He often repeated
Pope's universal prayer, and frequently expressed his gratitude that he
did not feel as his beloved wife Elizabeth had done at her decease, the
moment of which he greatly lamented was clouded with doubts and fears; a
circumstance which he had always attributed to bodily weakness; and he
prayed devoutly to the author of his being not to suffer his mind to be
impaired while he had life in his body. He felt that he had lived the life
of an honest man, and had never failed in strictly doing his duty towards
his neighbours; he declared that he had gone regularly to church, as an
example to his servants and his family, but believed that one private act
of devotion was more acceptable in the eyes of a benificent and all-wise
divinity, than any mere outward form of public worship. It was, he said,
the greatest consolation to him in his last trial, to reflect that he had
been honest and upright in all his dealings, and that in his conduct to
his fellow creatures, he had uniformly kept in view the sublime precept of
"Do unto others as you would they should do unto you." This, he said, was
his chief consolation in the hour of trial; and he most emphatically urged
us to follow his example, particularly in that respect, as "honesty was
the best policy." Recalling to his memory and mentioning all the little
menial errors that he had committed, he assured us that they gave him not
the least uneasiness; that God was too wise, too just, too good, and too
forgiving, to record such faults, and to make his creatures suffer for
them where they had not been vicious and premeditated.

In this way, for four days, he spent the close of his existence,
principally with me; urging and inculcating every good, honest, and noble
principle; cautioning me against the effects likely to result from my
great enthusiasm, and pointing out to me the path which he thought would
lead to happiness, honour, and renown; and he constantly offered up the
most pious and devout thanks to Heaven, for having permitted him to remain
so long after he had received notice of his approaching dissolution, as to
enable him to give me so much good advice. He anticipated that I should do
well and prosper in the world, if my daring independent spirit did not
lead me into difficulties; he continued to express great doubts about the
prudence of my remaining in the yeomanry cavalry; he said that he had
always dreaded some great evil would arise out of it to me; and he
submitted whether it would not be much to my advantage to leave it. His
death, would, he said, be a most ample reason for my quitting it, as I
should have such a large business upon my hand, that it would require
every moment of my time to attend to it. "And if you want an excuse,"
added he, "say it was one of the last wishes of your father that you
should do so; but recollect, my dear son, I do not bind you down to any
promise of the sort; I only throw out this hint, if you choose to make an
excuse. I must, however say, that an honourable and brave man, should
never think it necessary to make any excuse for doing that which be deems
right and proper. You will recollect these observations and feel their
justice, after I am dead and gone; when you will have no sincere friend to
advise and admonish you. I own I wish I could have lived another year or
two for your sake; as we were now just begun to live as father and son
ought to live, upon the most friendly footing. You would have assisted and
protected me in my old age; and I know, and you will so feel, that I
should have been of the most important service to you. You decide too
hastily; you are quick and impetuous; your young hot blood leads you on
incautiously into unnecessary dangers and difficulties. The truth is, you
are young; and therefore I would not have you otherwise disposed than you
are. I have long discovered a noble generous spirit to be the ruling
passion of your soul; and all your faults even result from an amiable and
a praiseworthy enthusiastic desire to excell. You only want prudence and
experience to direct you; but that experience which you might have
acquired from me you must now purchase. To have lived to direct, to advise
and admonish you, would have been a great happiness to me. But the Lord's
will be done! I have given you a good education; I have made you a
complete master of your business, as a farmer; God has blessed you with a
strong mind, and a sound body; and few young men of your age will begin
the world with brighter prospects; you will have a large business upon
your hands, that will keep you out of idleness; though, in fact, I do not
suspect you of any tendency to idleness; but I hope this fine business
will keep you out of mischief. You must be a father to your poor little
brothers, who are so unfortunate as to require double care. Your uncle
Powell has promised that he will take care of your sisters; but be sure
and give them repeated advice not to be led away, against their better
judgment, to adopt his form of religion, that of a Quaker. I have not the
slightest objection to the Quakers; but I have always found the church of
England quite good enough for those who have been bred up in that
persuasion. I do not think any one would be justified in dissenting from
the church of England till he has acted up to all the Christian precepts
of that church. But now, that we are on the subject of religion, and the
church of England, mark what I say upon my death bed. It will, I know,
sink deeper into your young mind than any thing that I could have said at
any other time. Do not, my dear son, for one moment imagine that I wish to
inculcate the idea that, as I approach my Maker, I profess to believe all
those mummeries that I have hitherto dared to disbelieve and dispute. You
know that I never joined in Saint Athanasius's Creed. All such unchristian
denunciations I ever held, and I still hold, to be blasphemous
impositions. Many of the forms of the church also are superstitious and
ridiculous; but the moral precepts of the Christian faith are wise and
good. I have never meddled in religious discussions; I have always formed
my own opinion to the best of my judgment and belief; and if in any of
those opinions I have erred, I have not the least shadow of doubt upon my
mind that a wise, just and beneficent Creator and father of all, will
pardon my errors. I do not feel the least disposed now to investigate, or
puzzle myself, in my last moments, in a vain endeavour to enquire whether
I have been right or wrong; the Lord's will be done, say I, and may he in
his goodness assist you to continue an honest and an upright man amongst
your fellow men. Do your duty by your neighbour, and worship your Maker
agreeably to the dictates of your own conscience, and you will live happy;
and when the time comes (for, recollect that it must come with ALL) and
when it comes with you, my dear son, may you be as well prepared as your
father is to enter the presence of your Maker."

I have, I think, shewn the reader enough to impress him with the idea of
the incessant pains, the unwearied exertion, of my excellent parent, to
inculcate the true principles of honour, morality, and religion upon the
mind of his son. He well knew that what he said upon these matters, at
such an awful period, was sure to make a lasting impression upon the
memory of his son: for whose benefit he appeared to live even to the last.
When, at times, he became exhausted with his anxiety to serve me, he would
say, "now, my dear boy, go down stairs and get some refreshment, while I
meditate, while I commune with God in private, and silently adore his
goodness. Come again soon; but, in the mean time, do not let any one
disturb my meditations." When I crept quietly back again, I sometimes
found him with his hands clasped, still in the act of silent prayer. On
seeing me, he would cease, and say, "it is all well;" and then he would
return to the most interesting discourse with me. At other times I found
him in the most sweet and delightful sleep; his countenance as placid as
in the most happy and prosperous moments of his life; as if he were
blessed with health and spirits. He always awoke cheerful, and apparently
refreshed, and would relate some delightful dream which he had had,
frequently consisting of a happy meeting and heavenly conversation with
his dear departed Elizabeth, my mother. God of heaven! what did I not feel
in those interesting and trying moments! Any weeping, any gloomy sorrow in
his presence, he forbad; for he said we all ought to bless the hour, and
to rejoice to see a beloved parent upheld at such a moment by his Creator,
so as to be enabled to die with such serenity and firmness, and to set
such an example to his children. In this manner passed away three days and
nights after Mr. Grant had pronounced it impossible for my father to
recover. As all the medical men had agreed that it was not probable that
he would survive more than two days, I had every now and then a faint hope
that the strength of his constitution would overcome the mortification.
Mr. Clare, however, who attended daily, repressed that hope by pronouncing
it impossible for my father to live. His predictions were verified by the
event. On the morning of the fourth day it was evident that my parent grew
weak; his voice failed him, he had much greater difficulty in holding any
conversation, and his breathing was much less frequent; yet he was calm
and cheerful, and felt pleasure in hearing my sister play upon the
piano-forte, which caused him a short slumber after each tune.

About the middle of the day, he desired to be alone with me; and taking my
hand, with a benignant smile, he said, in a weak but tender tone, "my
dearest son, your father's time for quitting this mortal life is arrived.
I find that the hand of death is upon me." After a pause of half a minute,
to recover from the exertion, he continued, "you will soon lose your best
and truest friend. I would not wish to make you a misanthropist; I would
not, because it is unnatural at your age, have you suspect all mankind;
but of this you may rest assured, that there are few, very few in the
world, who will not flatter you if they can get any thing by it. There are
none who will tell you of your faults with the candid kindness of a
friend; some, indeed, may taunt you with them, in order to irritate and
provoke you; but, before another sun rises, you will have lost the only
one who must be naturally anxious to advise and admonish you with a pure
and disinterested friendship. Young and sanguine as you are, you will be
thrown upon the wide world, to think and act for yourself; but your
prospects are bright, your father has done his best for you, and in his
last moments he will pray for your success and happiness in life. My only
sorrow is at leaving your little unfortunate brothers. You must be a
father to them, and I have left them an ample fortune, to repay you well
for any trouble you may have with them. I know you will be a kind brother
to them, and I hope, in return, that they will be grateful to you. I have
little dread on your account, for though you are young, yet God and your
father have done their duty towards you so bountifully, that there is
every prospect of your doing well in the world. I only wish I could have
lived to have seen you well out of the yeomanry cavalry! Recollect my last
words--you will always find 'honesty the best policy;' therefore always
'do unto others as you would that they should do unto you,' and take care
so to live that, when death calls, you may be prepared to follow him, as I
now am, in humble but confiding hope, and without repining."

My poor father held me firmly by the hand and looked me steadily in the
face, though his eyes grew dim, and his voice was so interrupted by the
difficulty of respiration, which now much increased, that he was greatly
exhausted. At length he sunk gently back upon his pillow, ejaculating "the
Lord's will be done; the Lord be praised." His eyes were fixed and death
had overspread his face with a sombre hue; he held my hand about three
hours, but never spoke more; lying all the while perfectly still,
apparently without the least pain or uneasiness, either in body or mind.
In this state he continued till near eight o'clock in the evening, of the
27th of August, 1797, when the best of fathers drew his last breath, and
gently slid into the arms of death, without a groan, a struggle, or even a
sigh, to the inexpressible grief of his affectionate and deeply-afflicted
son. His hand still retained its hold of mine, and I now gave vent to that
unbounded sorrow which I had heretofore suppressed and smothered, because
I would not make him uneasy. It is to me in my dungeon a source of
never-failing pleasure to reflect that all that it was possible for one
man to do to save the life of another I did, to save his life; and at any
one moment, after his doom was pronounced by the doctors, I would have
sacrificed my life, nay, if I had had a thousand lives I would have died
by torture a thousand times, to have saved his life. But he had taught me
not only by precept, but by example, to bow to the will of God. There
never lived a better man, nor a better father; nor did ever a son sustain
a greater loss than I did by his death. It has been said, with great
truth, that he was the second founder of his family.

After he drew his last breath, I remained kneeling by his bed-side
absorbed in grief and silent prayer for nearly an hour, before any one of
the family came to me. At length my wife came to my aid, and being roused
by her I performed the sad sacred office of closing his eyes for ever.

I shall not make any apology to the reader, for having dwelt so long on
this melancholy scene. I trust that it will prove one of the most
instructive parts of my history. In fact, and in truth, I would not write
another line, if I did not fondly hope that almost every part of my life
may prove instructive, as well as entertaining, to my fellow creatures and
the rising generation; particularly to those who may embark upon the wide,
rough, boisterous, and dangerous ocean of politics. When I recite my own
errors, and it has already been seen, that I have committed many and great
ones, I am rewarded for the pain I feel in the recollection of them, by
the hope that they may prove a beacon and a warning to those young persons
who may do me the honour to read these pages; and where they find that the
impulse of honourable generous feelings, unguided by prudence, has led me
into a wrong course, I trust that the young reader will learn, from my
mistakes, how to temper his zeal with that discretion which may enable him
to steer clear of those perilous quicksands upon which I have so
frequently struck.

What a great misfortune for me was the death of my father! Before I was
yet twenty-four years of age, with a mind unformed, and I may say, in the
common acceptation of the phrase, very young of my age; here was I left in
the uncontrolled possession of one of the largest farming concerns in the
kingdom! I had a young wife, and a family of my own coming on; and had
five sisters and brothers, younger than myself, left without father or
mother. I was immediately obliged to attend to the farms, which had had no
master to look over them for the last week, that week the most busy one in
the year; and I had likewise to give orders for the funeral of my departed
father. Exertion was indispensable. It was no use for me to lie down and
cry God help me! Necessity, however painful to my feelings, compelled me
to see to every thing, because I had no friend either to do it for me, or
even to assist me. The whole lay upon the hands of myself and my wife, who
was of the greatest assistance to my poor sister, who almost sunk under
her afflicting loss.

It was fortunately fine weather, and the wheat harvest was nearly finished
before my father was buried. When the awful day of his funeral came, I
performed the last sad and solemn office for him, as I had faithfully
promised to him that I would, and saw him laid by the side of my poor
mother in the silent grave, the tomb and vault of his ancestors, in the
chancel of the parish church of Enford, in the county of Wilts.

This melancholy scene made the most lasting impression upon my memory, and
such was the effect of the kind benevolent and endearing conversations
which I had held with my father, during the four last days of his life,
after he knew that he could not survive his illness, that for seven years
afterwards, I used in my sleep to hold the most delightful converse in my
dreams with the spirit of my beloved parent; in all of which he appeared
most anxious for my welfare, and advised, admonished, and kindly cautioned
me against every impending evil; so that he was not only the best of
fathers when living, but he proved my kind and fostering guardian angel
after his death. No young man ever had better advice bestowed upon him
than I had; unceasing kind and paternal advice, as well as the best
example. Nor was any one ever more sensible of the great and irreparable
loss be had sustained than I was; or ever more sincerely deplored the loss
of a beloved parent, than I did the loss of my father. Mine was not that
sort of sorrow which puts on a gloomy outside, the garb of woe, while the
heart beats to a merry tune. But, though I did not assume any hypocritical
outward sorrow, yet I was really and truly most sad at heart. The constant
employment of the body and the full occupation of the mind is, however,
always the very best antidote to grief, and those my business furnished me
with, to the fullest extent. When my father died, what he rented, and what
he left of his own, was nearly all the tything of Littlecot, as well as
Chisenbury farm, and I was in possession of Widdington farm, about two
miles distant. All the farms were now in my occupation, and, as I thought
it proper to live more centrical, I took Chisenbury House, a large
old-fashioned, handsome mansion; and as soon as I could fit it up and
furnish it, I went to reside there. This was considered by some as being
rather an imprudent and extravagant step; for it would require a
considerable income to keep up an establishment such as a house like that
demanded. The reader will be able to estimate its size, when I inform him
that there were not less than fifty two windows in it to be paid for to
the assessed taxes; the number of them, however, I had the prudence to
reduce considerably. But, in spite of all my prudence, it could not,
considering the scale on which my arrangements were formed, be otherwise
than a very expensive residence. Still it was not more, perhaps, than I
was fairly entitled to, as the profits arising from my large well
cultivated farms enabled me to vie with men of five or six thousand a
year, in my domestic establishment. My stables were stored with hunters;
my kennels with dogs; my cellars were well stocked with wine and the best
old October; and my table always amply furnished the best of viands to my
friends. My wife, who was quite as fond of company as I was, made her
female guests uniformly welcome. We kept a hospitable house, and we never
wanted for company to fill it, or a parson to say grace to a good dinner.
At this time we had another daughter born, and every thing went most
prosperously with me in the world. My friend, Dr. Clare of Devizes, who
was a sporting man, purchased at Lord Audley's sale a handsome curricle,
which he offered me, and we soon struck a bargain. Curricles were all the
vogue at that time; therefore a dashing young man without a curricle was
nothing; and as my wife was a great driver, as well as a good horsewoman,
a curricle was almost indispensable.

Let no one suppose, from reading this, that I was become a careless
squanderer. The habits of economy which, almost from my infancy, I lead
imbibed in consequence of the example that I had always before my eyes,
did not desert me even under these circumstances. By management I lived as
well, kept as good a house, and had my whole establishment so arranged, as
to make quite as good an appearance for a thousand or fifteen hundred a
year as many persons make who spend more than thrice that sum. I had at
all times plenty of money, and I had every comfort and luxury about me;
but in the midst of all this apparent extravagance, I never forgot the
poor. All my servants were well paid and well fed, and I scarcely ever
failed to attend the parish pay table, to see that those who held the
office of overseer turned no one away, who was really in distress, without
affording him relief. Thus early I gained the character of being _the
friend of the poor_. I always pleaded the cause of the widow, the orphan,
the aged, and infirm; and, being the largest paymaster in the parish to
the fund of the poor, I never pleaded in vain. The idle, the indolent, and
the dissolute, I left to fight their own battles; but the infirm, the
aged, the widow, and the orphan never fruitlessly sued when I was present,
and, as I have just said, I seldom failed to attend; if I did I was sure
to hear complaints. My readers will recollect that I am writing these
Memoirs during the life-time of hundreds who can speak to this fact; and I
speak of it not as boasting, but with the firm conviction that it can be
substantiated by hundreds who lived in the parish, and that there is not
one who will contradict it. The _friend of the poor_ is a title which I
earned very early in life, and I hope that I shall deserve to carry it to
my grave. Sorry, however, as I should be to lose this honourable title, I
would ten thousand times rather lose it than lose the heart-cheering,
soul-inspiring reflection that I have always been their friend not for the
name, but for the pleasure I felt in protecting and assisting my less
fortunate fellow-creatures, when they were in distress. It may be said, if
you are really so, why not rest satisfied with the pleasure of knowing it?
Why do you sound your own trumpet, and endeavour to blazon it forth to the
world? My answer is, because my being incarcerated here for _two years and
six months_ has induced me to become my own historian, and I will
endeavour to be so faithfully; and I feel that I have need to put upon
record all my good qualities, as a set-off to balance my bad qualities. Of
the latter I have disclosed a great many already, and as I proceed I shall
have to record still more. Now, as we are told that charity covers a
multitude of sins, if I possess this good quality of charity, and if I
prove that I always exercised it, I think I should not be doing common
justice to myself or to my friends, if out of false modesty I were to keep
silence. Those who have read my work hitherto will not fail to have
discovered that, from my early days, I have proved myself to have been
animated by an ardent love of country, that I possessed a sort of inherent
patriotism, without having at all entered into politics. A patriot I
consider to be a man who is devoted to the laws and constitution of his
country in their purity; a defender of the rights and liberties of the
people, and one who does his best to promote their happiness and welfare.

Merely possessing the good quality of being charitable, by no means makes
a patriot. Therefore, I am not professing any claim to patriotism, on the
ground of my being at that period a friend to the poor. In the first
place, I believe that charity and a sympathy for the sufferings of my
fellow-creatures are inherent qualities of my breast; at any rate I know
that I felt them in all their purity as long ago as I can remember. In the
next place, I was taught to practice charity by the example of my amiable
and excellent mother, who possessed as much christian charity, as well as
piety, as any mortal that ever lived; she was, indeed the very milk of
human kindness; and although my father taught me to exercise the virtue
with more discretion, yet he never checked it.

When my father died he was the Vicar's churchwarden, as well as the
principal overseer of the parish of Enford; and, of course, as I came into
possession of his estates and farms in that parish, I continued in the
parochial offices, as his substitute, till the next Easter. During that
time it was a severe winter, and I exercised my own discretion, and
without any ceremony raised the pay of the poor, particularly of the aged
and infirm, those whose labours were done. I found their pay at two
shillings and sixpence per week each; I raised it to three and sixpence
each, and in some instances, as in cases of infirmity, still higher; and,
when some of the parishioners mentioned their objections, to the measure,
I declined to reduce the allowance, but offered to pay out of my own
pocket the advance which I had made, in case of my conduct being
disapproved of at a meeting or vestry. No meeting, was, however, called;
nor in this large parish, where the population is above six hundred, was
there any complaint made to the magistrates by any pauper against me
during the whole time I was in office.

When Easter came, I being the largest paymaster in the parish, it was my
turn, by rotation, to serve the office two years longer, and my name was
placed at the head of the list that was sent in to the magistrates for
their approval. The practice is, for the parishioners, at the annual
Easter meeting, to send in a list of three or four names, to give the
magistrates a choice in the appointment of two: but as the two names that
are placed first and second are those that are considered by the resident
proprietors as the proper persons, and whose turn it is to serve the
office, the magistrates seldom or ever, without some very substantial
reason, pass them over and appoint any of the others, whose names are
placed, as a mere form, below them. In this parish, which was known to be
well conducted, the circumstance of passing over the recommendation of the
principal inhabitant was never known to have happened. My name being the
first, I had no doubt but that I should be obliged to remain in this
disagreeable and troublesome office. I was, however, deceived. My
disposition to give to the poor more liberal relief than had been
heretofore granted to them, had been too evident during the short time
that, in the winter season, I had been in office. The considerable and
permanent advance that I had made to all the old people in the parish, who
were no longer able to labour, had got wind, and this was canvassed
amongst the magistrates, who were all farmers, some of them very large
farmers in the neighbourhood; and who should be the magistrates of this
district, but the valorous officers of the gallant Everly troop, Messrs.
ASTLEY, POORE, and DYKE, the latter being nearly as large a farmer as
myself, and employing a great number of labourers! It never entered into
my head for a moment that I should be objected to; on the contrary, I
should rather have expected that this worthy bench of JUSTASSES would have
been pleased with the opportunity of fixing me in what was generally
considered a troublesome and harassing office; one which in such a large
parish would require a considerable portion of a man's time to execute it
properly: even when there was least to be done, it occupied three or four
hours every other Sunday to attend in the vestry room, at the pay table,
to hear the complaints and to relieve the wants of those who were in
distress. This I had never neglected, nor left, as others had frequently
done, to the care of servants.

The parish books were returned from the justices, and lo and behold! my
name was passed over, and a little apron farmer was appointed in my stead.
At the first view of the case, I felt a weighty responsibility and trouble
taken, as it were, off my shoulders; and I was, as I conceived, released
from a great deal of labour which I had anticipated; and I heartily
despised the petty malice, the little dirty insult, intended me by the
magistrates, who, in their desire to annoy me, had in fact rendered me a
great service. On my speaking of it in this way to my old housekeeper, who
first brought me the news, she archly addressed me as follows:--"Ah, sir!
I know your heart too well to believe that this will save you any trouble.
Though you are not in office, yet as you pay so much towards the relief of
the poor, and feel so much for them, you will not desert them. You will, I
am sure, still attend the pay table and see justice done them at any
rate." This was quite enough for me. While she was speaking, a thousand
ideas crowded my imagination, and like lightening, I resolved to put them
into execution. I said nothing, but the next Sunday, after the service of
the day was over, I attended the pay table, as I had constantly done while
I held the office. It was so unusual for any one to attend but the two
overseers, that it was instantly noticed by the poor who were in waiting.
I sat silent, but that was quite enough; every one was paid the same as
they had been the week before, when I was the paymaster; though I knew
that it had been agreed upon to dock them.

There was scarcely a single servant of my own whose name was upon the
books; for my wish was, that they should always earn sufficient by their
labour to support their families, without going to the parish. While I was
in office myself, I acted on this system, without making any remonstrance
with those farmers who paid their labourers about half price, and sent
them to the parish for the remaining sum which was required for their
support. But I now made up my mind not to bear this grievance any longer,
without an effort to remove it. I, therefore, got the overseers to call a
special meeting at the vestry, to take these matters into consideration.
At this meeting I proposed that every farmer in the parish should raise
his servants' wages, to enable them to keep their families; at any rate
those who were able bodied men. There was scarcely any objection made to
this, and it was carried unanimously. But I soon found that this measure
was eluded, and of course would not answer. Several of the farmers turned
off half their servants, and others all of them, and hired servants out of
the parish, whom they could procure for less wages. I, however, always
persisted in engaging my servants to earn enough to keep themselves and
families without going to the parish; which most of them did, till all
sorts of provisions were risen to double if not treble their usual price.

One thing I shall here _forestall_, which is the fact that I continued for
nine years afterwards to occupy a very great portion of the parish, and
consequently to pay a great portion of the parish rates; but, though my
name was placed at the head of the list and sent in to the _magistrates_,
every Easter during that time, yet I was never appointed _the overseer of
the poor_; and this because I had set an example of too great liberality
towards them when I was in office. Notwithstanding this, I never failed to
advocate, and with success, the cause of the aged, the infirm, the widow,
and the orphan, not only in my own parishes, but also in those surrounding
me; and every act of oppression that was practised in the district where I
lived was always communicated to me, and as far as I had it in my power I
obtained redress for the oppressed. I very soon, therefore became an
object of suspicion and dread amongst the petty tyrants of that district;
and by them I was denominated "a busy meddling fellow;" but as a set off
to this, I received the thanks, the blessings of the poor, and the love of
my servants, whom I looked upon as my friends and neighbours. I had as
much work done for my money as any man; I paid my servants well; but I did
what was of much more consequence to my interest. I treated them with
kindness, and addressed them as fellow-creatures and fellow-freemen;
instead of doing as many did, and which is unhappily much too frequently
the practice, to treat labourers and servants as if they were brutes and
slaves. By these means I managed a very large business with the greatest
ease imaginable. My servants looked up to me as a friend and protector; as
one who was at all times ready to stand forward to shield them from any
oppression; and, on the other hand, I placed the greatest confidence in
them to guard my property and my interest: I was seldom deceived; for I
not only found them faithful at that time, but they are grateful even to
this day. All this I attribute solely to my always treating them with
kindness and _justice_. No part of their affection did I ever obtain by
any unfair or surreptitious means. I never encouraged indolence, idleness,
or profligacy of any sort, and an habitual drunkard I never kept in my

Contrary to my father's advice, I still continued in the Marlborough Troop
of Yeomanry Cavalry. His last words were, however, quite prophetic as to
the danger that I was in, by remaining amongst a set of men whose notions
were so very far from being actuated by a pure love of country. Still, as
the threat of invasion continued to be held up to the country as likely to
be executed, I could not make up my mind to quit their ranks. I felt an
ardour to be one of the first to meet a foreign foe, if ever they dared to
invade us, and I therefore continued to join the troop as often as it was
convenient; and as I was perfectly acquainted with my duty, and resolved
to perform it, I was never once fined for any breach of the rules or
regulations, which were made and agreed to for the guidance of the members
of the troop; and I was upon particular good terms with the commander of
it, Lord Bruce, the eldest son of the Earl of Aylesbury, who always
treated me with polite attention.

The officers of the Everly Troop of Yeomanry had, as they thought, offered
me an insult, and one which I had no power to resent; they were his
Majesty's Justices of the Peace, and if they chose to mix up their revenge
with their duty of conservators of the peace, I had no power to prevent
it, nor, as they kept their own council, could I ever remonstrate. Aware,
as I was, of the insult intended by their passing over my name; yet, as I
was glad to be out of the office, and had taken such a course as would
enable me to protect the poor from any partial or unjust treatment, and as
I still was appointed the Vicar's Churchwarden, I felt little or no
resentment on that account. I had expected neither candour, liberality nor
_justice_ from them, and they had not disappointed me; I was therefore
quite indifferent on that score. But as my father always had a sort of
presentiment that something would turn out unpleasant to me before I got
quit of the volunteer service, I was exceedingly guarded in all my
movements in the Marlborough troop; and was particularly careful never to
omit any part of my duty, or to do any thing in violation of the rules or
regulations; and I believe that I was almost the only man in the troop
that had not been fined over and over again. In fact, as the fines were
very moderate--for instance, I believe it was only half a crown for being
absent from the field days, and not even that if there were a reasonable
excuse for non-attendance--they did not inspire the members with much
dread. This was the only punishment for non-attendance.

In the midst of all my fancied security, a circumstance, however, occurred
that proved all my father's prognostications to be well founded. The
reader will not have forgotten that I was become an expert sportsman; and,
agreeable to my usual enthusiasm in all that I undertook, he will not be
surprised to hear that I was also become what is called a good shot.
During the month of September I had killed one hundred and twenty brace of
partridges, and I was engaged to take the first day's pheasant shooting,
on the first of October, with my friend and comrade, Mr. Thos. Hancock,
the banker, of Marlborough. Lord Aylesbury, the proprietor of Marlborough
Forest, possessed very extensive estates and large manors round this
district, almost the whole of which he made _one large preserve_ of game;
but, as it was necessary that he should keep his tools, the members of the
corporation of his rottenest of rotten close boroughs, Marlborough, in
good humour, he allotted one small manor, at a distance of several miles
from his principal preserve, where all his tenants and the inhabitants of
the town of Marlborough and their friends, were allowed to shoot and sport
without interruption, whenever they pleased. To this place my friend
Hancock had promised to take me for a day's sport; he himself being, as
will presently appear, a very poor shot. I went to Mr. Hancock's to sleep
the night previously, and, like a true and keen sportsman, I was up and
dressed, eager for the sport, before it was day-light. In fact, it was
necessary that we should be early, as there was a host of cockney and
other sportsmen, who always sallied forth from Marlborough on that day;
and as the manor was not large the ground was generally pretty thickly
occupied before sun rise on the first of October; for it will be
recollected that, on these gala days, _"tag, rag, and bobtail,"_ all had
leave, whether they were qualified or not, and all who professed to be
sportsmen hurried there, whether they had certificates or not.

My friend and myself, attended by our servants, mounted our horses, and as
we rode along we passed two or three parties who were on foot, and who had
got the start of us; but we soon reached farmer Edward Vezey's, of Grove,
upon whose farm we intended to take our day's sport. As we had ridden a
distance of four or five miles the sun was now up, and as we heard several
shots fired we put up our horses and proceeded immediately to the field;
being too eager sportsmen to wait to take the breakfast which Mrs. Vezey
had prepared for us. The farmer informed us that the game was very
plentiful; and when we entered the first stubble field, we saw a nide of
fourteen pheasants run into the hedge row. This was a fine earnest of our
sport; and as I had never before been a shooting where they were so
plenty, I expressed great anxiety to begin the slaughter without delay.
The farmer, however, checked my ardour, and increased my surprise when he
told me that he had ten such nides upon his farm. The sport began; and,
having a double barrelled gun, I killed a brace, a cock and a hen; my
friend and the farmer both missed. The latter requested me not to kill
hens, as he would procure me plenty of shots at cocks. We had with us my
dogs, which were staunch and steady, and they were now pointing again. I
brought down a brace of cocks with another double shot. My friends both
missed again, and laughed heartily at each other; particularly when they
found that I was sure to kill enough for all the party. As we proceeded I
killed a leash more, so that I had three brace and a half out of the first
nide of fourteen. Several of the others had been marked down, and the
farmer said we were sure to find them all again; but I proposed to look
for fresh birds, instead of following those which had escaped. This was
agreed to; and, at the further end of the very next field which we
entered, we discovered another set running into the hedge row. When ten
o'clock arrived I proposed a cessation of hostilities, that we might
retire and take some breakfast; for I declared that I was ashamed to kill
any more. I had had twenty shots, and had bagged nine brace and a half of
cocks and one hen pheasant; having been lucky enough, as my dogs brought
all their game, to save every bird without a feather being scarcely
rumpled. My friends had thirty shots between them, and had killed one
bird; in fact, they were altogether as bad shots as I was a good
one.--Though, during the whole time, we had not been a quarter of a mile
from the house, yet, I believe that while I was out, I heard at least a
hundred shots fired--so thickly were we surrounded with the rotten borough
sportsmen and their friends. After this we returned to the farmer's house,
where Mrs. Vezey had provided an excellent breakfast, not only for us but
for my dogs, which were caressed as prodigies; and the game, consisting of
ten brace of cock pheasants and a hen, was spread in triumph on the floor.

Having enjoyed such a breakfast as keen sportsmen are accustomed to take,
in the course of which we talked over the feats of the morning, and
bestowed many well earned encomiums upon the staunchness and sagacity of
my dogs, my friends proposed to start again for the field, till dinner
time. I, however, positively refused to budge an inch, declaring that I
would not fire another shot that day. I was, I told them, more than
content with having killed ten brace of pheasants in one day, and
therefore I would remain at home with Mrs. Vezey, till they returned. They
tried hard to prevail upon me to accompany them, but I resisted their
entreaties: they then endeavoured to rally me out of my plan, but I had
made up my mind not to go out again, and consequently all their bantering
was of no avail. I was not to be moved even by the good humoured jokes of
the farmer, about my remaining alone with his wife; and, finding me to be
immoveable, they set out by themselves. At length they returned, bringing
with them one solitary pheasant, though they acknowledged that they had
had ten shots each; and they were afterwards candid enough to confess that
the dogs had actually caught that. Nothing daunted by their bad shooting,

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