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An essay by Thomas De Quincey

The Orphan Heiress

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Title:     The Orphan Heiress
Author: Thomas De Quincey [More Titles by De Quincey]

I. VISIT TO LAXTON

My route, after parting from Lord Westport at Birmingham, lay, as I have mentioned in the "Autobiographic Sketches," through Stamford to Laxton, the Northamptonshire seat of Lord Carbery. From Stamford, which I had reached by some intolerable old coach, such as in those days too commonly abused the patience and long-suffering of Young England, I took a post-chaise to Laxton. The distance was but nine miles, and the postilion drove well, so that I could not really have been long upon the road; and yet, from gloomy rumination upon the unhappy destination which I believed myself approaching within three or four months, never had I weathered a journey that seemed to me so long and dreary. As I alighted on the steps at Laxton, the first dinner-bell rang; and I was hurrying to my toilet, when my sister Mary, who had met me in the portico, begged me first of all to come into Lady Carbery's


[Footnote: Lady Carbery.--"To me, individually, she was the one sole friend that ever I could regard as entirely fulfilling the offices of an honest friendship. She had known me from infancy; when I was in my first year of life, she, an orphan and a great heiress, was in her tenth or eleventh."--See closing pages of "_Autobiographic Sketches_."]


dressing-room, her ladyship having something special to communicate, which related (as I understood her) to one Simon. "What Simon? Simon Peter?"--O, no, you irreverend boy, no Simon at all with an S, but Cymon with a C,--Dryden's Cymon,--


"That whistled as he went for want of thought.'"

This one indication was a key to the whole explanation that followed. The sole visitors, it seemed, at that time to Laxton, beside my sister and myself, were Lord and Lady Massey. They were understood to be domesticated at Laxton for a very long stay. In reality, my own private construction of the case (though unauthorized by anything ever hinted to me by Lady Carbery) was, that Lord Massey might probably be under some cloud of pecuniary embarrassments, such as suggested prudentially an absence from Ireland. Meantime, what was it that made him an object of peculiar interest to Lady Carbery? It was the singular revolution which, in one whom all his friends looked upon as sold to constitutional torpor, suddenly, and beyond all hope, had kindled a new and nobler life. Occupied originally by no shadow of any earthly interest, killed by _ennui_, all at once Lord Massey had fallen passionately in love with a fair young countrywoman, well connected, but bringing him no fortune (I report only from hearsay), and endowing him simply with the priceless blessing of her own womanly charms, her delightful society, and her sweet, Irish style of innocent gayety. No transformation that ever legends or romances had reported was more memorable. Lapse of time (for Lord Massey had now been married three or four years), and deep seclusion from general society, had done nothing, apparently, to lower the tone of his happiness. The expression of this happiness was noiseless and unobtrusive; no marks were there of vulgar uxoriousness--nothing that could provoke the sneer of the worldling; but not the less so entirely had the society of his young wife created a new principle of life within him, and evoked some nature hitherto slumbering, and which, no doubt, would else have continued to slumber till his death, that, at moments when he believed himself unobserved, he still wore the aspect of an impassioned lover.


"He beheld
A vision, and adored the thing he saw.
Arabian fiction never filled the world
With half the wonders that were wrought for _him_.
Earth breathed in one great presence of the spring
Her chamber window did surpass in glory
The portals of the dawn."

And in no case was it more literally realized, as daily almost I witnessed, that

"All Paradise
Could, by the simple opening of a door,
Let itself in upon him."

[Footnote: Wordsworth's "Vandracour and Julia."]


For never did the drawing-room door open, and suddenly disclose the beautiful figure of Lady Massey, than a mighty cloud seemed to roll away from the young Irishman's brow. At this time it happened, and indeed it often happened, that Lord Carbery was absent in Ireland. It was probable, therefore, that during the long couple of hours through which the custom of those times bound a man to the dinner-table after the disappearance of the ladies, his time would hang heavily on his hands. To me, therefore, Lady Carbery looked, having first put me in possession of the case, for assistance to her hospitality, under the difficulties I have stated. She thoroughly loved Lady Massey, as, indeed, nobody could help doing; and for _her_ sake, had there been no separate interest surrounding the young lord, it would have been most painful to her that through Lord Carbery's absence a periodic tedium should oppress her guest at that precise season of the day which traditionally dedicated itself to genial enjoyment. Glad, therefore, was she that an ally had come at last to Laxton, who might arm her purposes of hospitality with some powers of self-fulfilment. And yet, for a service of that nature, could she reasonably rely upon me? Odious is the hobble-de-hoy to the mature young man. Generally speaking, that cannot be denied. But in me, though naturally the shyest of human beings, intense commerce with men of every rank, from the highest to the lowest, had availed to dissipate all arrears of _mauvaise honte_; I could talk upon innumerable subjects; and, as the readiest means of entering immediately upon business, I was fresh from Ireland, knew multitudes of those whom Lord Massey either knew or felt an interest in, and, at that happy period of life, found it easy, with three or four glasses of wine, to call back the golden spirits which were now so often deserting me. Renovated, meantime, by a hot bath, I was ready at the second summons of the dinner-bell, and descended a new creature to the drawing-room. Here I was presented to the noble lord and his wife. Lord Massey was in figure shortish, but broad and stout, and wore an amiable expression of face. That I could execute Lady Carbery's commission, I felt satisfied at once. And, accordingly, when the ladies had retired from the dining-room, I found an easy opening, in various circumstances connected with the Laxton stables, for introducing naturally a picturesque and contrasting sketch of the stud and the stables at Westport. The stables and everything connected with the stables at Laxton were magnificent; in fact, far out of symmetry with the house, which, at that time, was elegant and comfortable, but not splendid. As usual in English establishments, all the appointments were complete, and carried to the same point of exquisite finish. The stud of hunters was first-rate and extensive; and the whole scene, at closing the stables for the night, was so splendidly arranged and illuminated, that Lady Carbery would take all her visitors once or twice a week to admire it. On the other hand, at Westport you might fancy yourself overlooking the establishment of some Albanian Pacha. Crowds of irregular helpers and grooms, many of them totally unrecognized by Lord Altamont, some half countenanced by this or that upper servant, some doubtfully tolerated, some _not_ tolerated, but nevertheless slipping in by postern doors when the enemy had withdrawn, made up a strange mob as regarded the human element in this establishment. And Dean Browne regularly asserted that five out of six amongst these helpers he himself could swear to as active boys from Vinegar Hill. Trivial enough, meantime, in our eyes, was any little matter of rebellion that they might have upon their consciences. High treason we willingly winked at. But what we could _not_ wink at was the systematic treason which they committed against our comfort, namely, by teaching our horses all imaginable tricks, and training them up in the way along which they should _not_ go, so that when they were old they were very little likely to depart from it. Such a set of restive, hard-mouthed wretches as Lord Westport and I daily had to bestride, no tongue could describe. There was a cousin of Lord Westport's, subsequently created Lord Oranmore, distinguished for his horsemanship, and always splendidly mounted from his father's stables at Castle M'Garret, to whom our stormy contests with ruined tempers and vicious habits yielded a regular comedy of fun; and, in order to improve it, he would sometimes bribe Lord Westport's treacherous groom into misleading us, when floundering amongst bogs, into the interior labyrinths of these morasses. Deep, however, as the morass, was this man's remorse when, on leaving Westport, I gave him the heavy golden perquisite, which my mother (unaware of the tricks he had practised upon me) had by letter instructed me to give. He was a mere savage boy from the central bogs of Connaught, and, to the great amusement of Lord Westport, he persisted in calling me "your majesty" for the rest of that day; and by all other means open to him he expressed his penitence. But the dean insisted that, no matter for his penitence in the matter of the bogs, he had certainly carried a pike at Vinegar Hill; and probably had stolen a pair of boots at Furnes, when he kindly made a call at the Deanery, in passing through that place to the field of battle. It is always a pleasure to see the engineer of mischief "hoist with his own petard;"


[Footnote: "Hamlet," but also "Ovid:"-- "Lex nec justior ulla est, **Quam necis artifices arte perire sua."]


and it happened that the horses assigned to draw a post-chariot carrying Lord Westport, myself, and the dean, on our return journey to Dublin, were a pair utterly ruined by a certain under-postilion, named Moran. This particular ruin did Mr. Moran boast to have contributed as his separate contribution to the general ruinations of the stables. And the particular object was, that _his_ horses, and consequently himself, might be left in genial laziness. But, as Nemesis would have it, Mr. Moran was the charioteer specially appointed to this particular service. We were to return by easy journeys of twenty-five miles a day, or even less; since every such interval brought us to the house of some hospitable family, connected by friendship or by blood with Lord Altamont. Fervently had Lord Westport pleaded with his father for an allowance of four horses; not at all with any foolish view to fleeting aristocratic splendor, but simply to the luxury of rapid motion. But Lord Altamont was firm in resisting this petition at that time. The remote consequence was, that by way of redressing the violated equilibrium to our feelings, we subscribed throughout Wales to extort six horses from the astonished innkeepers, most of whom declined the requisition, and would furnish only four, on the plea that the leaders would only embarrass the other horses; but one at Bangor, from whom we coolly requested eight, recoiled from our demand as from a sort of miniature treason. How so? Because in this island he had always understood eight horses to be consecrated to royal use. Not at all, we assured him; Pickford, the great carrier, always horsed his wagons with eight. And the law knew of no distinction between wagon and post- chaise, coach-horse or cart-horse. However, we could not compass this point of the eight horses, the double _quadriga_, in one single instance; but the true reason we surmised to be, not the pretended puritanism of loyalty to the house of Guelph, but the running short of the innkeeper's funds. If he had to meet a daily average call for twenty-four horses, then it might well happen that our draft upon him for eight horses at one pull would bankrupt him for a whole day.

But I am anticipating. Returning to Ireland and Mr. Moran, the vicious driver of vicious horses, the immediate consequence to _him_ of this unexpected limitation to a pair of horses was, that all his knavery in one hour recoiled upon himself. The horses whom he had himself trained to vice and restiveness, in the hope that thus his own services and theirs might be less in request, now became the very curse of his life. Every morning, duly as an attempt was made to put them in motion, they began to back, and no arts, gentle or harsh, would for a moment avail to coax or to coerce them into the counter direction. Could retrogression by any metaphysics have been translated into progress, we excelled in that; it was our _forte_; we could have backed to the North Pole. That might be the way to glory, or at least to distinction--_sic itur ad astra_; unfortunately, it was not the way to Dublin. Consequently, on _every_ day of our journey--and the days were ten--not once, but always, we had the same deadly conflict to repeat; and this being always unavailing, found its solution uniformly in the following ultimate resource. Two large-boned horses, usually taken from the plough, were harnessed on as leaders. By main force they hauled our wicked wheelers into the right direction, and forced them, by pure physical superiority, into working. We furnished a joyous and comic spectacle to every town and village through which we passed. The whole community, men and children, came out to assist at our departure; and all alike were diverted, but not the less irritated, by the demoniac obstinacy of the brutes, who seemed under the immediate inspiration of the fiend. Everybody was anxious to share in the scourging which was administered to them right and left; and once propelled into a gallop (or such a gallop as our Brobdignagian leaders could accomplish), they were forced into keeping it up. But, without rehearsing all the details of the case, it may be readily conceived that the amount of trouble distributed amongst our whole party was enormous. Once or twice the friends at whose houses we slept were able to assist us. But generally they either had no horses, or none of the commanding power demanded. Often, again, it happened, as our route was very circuitous, that no inns lay in our neighborhood; or, if there _were_ inns, the horses proved to be of too slight a build. At Ballinasloe, and again at Athlone, half the town came out to help us; and, having no suitable horses, thirty or forty men, with shouts of laughter, pulled at ropes fastened to our pole and splinter- bar, and compelled the snorting demons into a flying gallop. But, naturally, a couple of miles saw this resource exhausted. Then came the necessity of "drawing the covers," as the dean called it; that is, hunting amongst the adjacent farmers for powerful cattle. This labor (O, Jupiter, thanks be for _that_!) fell upon Mr. Moran. And sometimes it would happen that the horses, which it had cost him three or four hours to find, could be spared only for four or five miles. Such a journey can rarely have been accomplished. Our zigzag course had prolonged it into from two hundred and thirty to two hundred and fifty miles; and it is literally true that, of this entire distance from Westport House to Sackville-street, Dublin, not one furlong had been performed under the spontaneous impulse of our own horses. Their diabolic resistance continued to the last. And one may venture to hope that the sense of final subjugation to man must have proved penally bitter to the horses. But, meantime, it vexes one that such wretches should be fed with good old hay and oats; as well littered down also in their stalls as a prebendary; and by many a stranger, ignorant of their true character, should have been patted and caressed. Let us hope that a fate, to which more than once they were nearly forcing _us_, namely, regress over a precipice, may ultimately have been their own. Once I saw such another case dramatically carried through to its natural crisis in the Liverpool Mail. It was on the stage leading into Lichfield; there was no conspiracy, as in our Irish case; one horse only out of the four was the criminal; and, according to the queen's bench (Denman, C. J.), there is no conspiracy competent to one agent; but he was even more signally under a demoniac possession of mutinous resistance to man. The case was really a memorable one. If ever there was a distinct proclamation of rebellion against man, it was made by that brutal horse; and I, therefore, being a passenger on the box, took a note of the case; and on a proper occasion I may be induced to publish it, unless some Houynhm should whinny against me a chancery injunction.

From these wild, Tartar-like stables of Connaught, how vast was the transition to that perfection of elegance, and of adaptation between means and ends, that reigned from centre to circumference through the stables at Laxton! _I_, as it happened, could report to Lord Massey their earlier condition; he to me could report their immediate changes. I won him easily to an interest in my own Irish experiences, so fresh, and in parts so grotesque, wilder also by much in Connaught than in Lord Massey's county of Limerick; whilst he (without affecting any delight in the hunting systems of Northamptonshire and Leicestershire) yet took pleasure in explaining to me those characteristic features of the English midland hunting as centralized at Melton, which even then gave to it the supreme rank for brilliancy and unity of effect amongst all varieties of the chase.


[Footnote: If mere names were allowed to dazzle the judgment, how magnificent to a gallant young Englishman of twenty seems at first the _tiger- hunting_ of India, which yet (when examined searchingly) turns out the meanest and most _cowardly_ mode of hunting known to human experience. _Buffalo-hunting_ is much more dignified as regards the courageous exposure of the hunter; but, from all accounts, its excitement is too momentary and evanescent; one rifle-shot, and the crisis is past. Besides that, the generous and honest character of the buffalo disturbs the cordiality of the sport. The very opposite reason disturbs the interest of _lion-hunting, especially at the Cape. The lion is everywhere a cowardly wretch, unless when sublimed into courage by famine; but, in southern Africa, he is the most currish of enemies. Those who fancied so much adventurousness in the lion conflicts of Mr. Gordon Cumming appear never to have read the missionary travels of Mr. Moffat. The poor missionary, without any arms whatever, came to think lightly of half a dozen lions seen drinking through the twilight at the very same pond or river as himself. Nobody can have any wish to undervalue the adventurous gallantry of Mr. G. Cumming. But, in the single case of the Cape lion, there is an unintentional advantage taken from the traditional name of lion, as though the Cape lion were such as that which ranges the torrid zone.]


Horses had formed the natural and introductory topic of conversation between us. What we severally knew of Ireland, though in different quarters,--what we both knew of Laxton, the barbaric splendor, and the civilized splendor,--had naturally an interest for us both in their contrasts (at one time so picturesque, at another so grotesque), which illuminated our separate recollections. But my quick instinct soon made me aware that a jealousy was gathering in Lord Massey's mind around such a topic, as though too ostentatiously levelled to his particular knowledge, or to his _animal_ condition of taste. But easily I slipped off into another key. At Laxton, it happened that the library was excellent. Founded by whom, I never heard; but certainly, when used by a systematic reader, it showed itself to have been systematically collected; it stretched pretty equably through two centuries,--namely, from about 1600 to 1800,--and might, perhaps, amount to seventeen thousand volumes. Lord Massey was far from illiterate; and his interest in books was unaffected, if limited, and too often interrupted, by defective knowledge. The library was dispersed through six or seven small rooms, lying between the drawing-room in one wing, and the dining-room in the opposite wing. This dispersion, however, already furnished the ground of a rude classification. In some one of these rooms was Lord Massey always to be found, from the forenoon to the evening. And was it any fault of _his_ that his daughter, little Grace, about two years old, pursued him down from her nursery every morning, and insisted upon seeing innumerable pictures, lurking (as she had discovered) in many different recesses of the library? More and more from this quarter it was that we drew the materials of our daily after-dinner conversation. One great discouragement arises commonly to the student, where the particular library in which he reads has been so disordinately collected that he cannot _pursue_ a subject once started. Now, at Laxton, the books had been so judiciously brought together, so many hooks and eyes connected them, that the whole library formed what one might call a series of _strata_, naturally allied, through which you might quarry your way consecutively for many months. On rainy days, and often enough one had occasion to say through rainy weeks, what a delightful resource did this library prove to both of us! And one day it occurred to us, that, whereas the stables and the library were both jewels of attraction, the latter had been by much the least costly. Pretty often I have found, when any opening has existed for making the computation, that, in a library containing a fair proportion of books illustrated with plates, about ten shillings a volume might be taken as expressing, upon a sufficiently large number of volumes, small and great, the fair average cost of the whole. On this basis, the library at Laxton would have cost less than nine thousand pounds. On the other hand, thirty-live horses (hunters, racers, roadsters, carriage-horses, etc.) might have cost about eight thousand pounds, or a little more. But the library entailed no permanent cost beyond the annual loss of interest; the books did not eat, and required no aid from veterinary


[Footnote: "_Veterinary_."--By the way, whence comes this odd-looking word? The word _veterana_ I have met with in monkish writers, to express _domesticated quadrupeds_; and evidently from that word must have originated the word _veterinary_. But the question is still but one step removed; for, how came _veterana_ by that acceptation in rural economy?]


surgeons; whereas, for the horses, not only such ministrations were intermittingly required, but a costly permanent establishment of grooms and helpers. Lord Carbery, who had received an elaborate Etonian education, was even more earnestly a student than his friend Lord Massey, who had probably been educated at home under a private tutor. He read everything connected with general politics (meaning by _general_ not personal politics) and with social philosophy. At Laxton, indeed; it was that I first saw Godwin's "Political Justice;" not the second and emasculated edition in _octavo_, but the original _quarto_ edition, with all its virus as yet undiluted of raw anti-social Jacobinism.

At Laxton it was that I first saw the entire aggregate labors, brigaded, as it were, and paraded as if for martial review, of that most industrious benefactor to the early stages of our English historical literature, Thomas Hearne. Three hundred guineas, I believe, had been the price paid cheerfully at one time for a complete set of Hearne. At Laxton, also, it was that first I saw the total array of works edited by Dr. Birch. It was a complete _armilustrium_, a _recognitio_, or mustering, as it were, not of pompous Praetorian cohorts, or unique guardsmen, but of the yeomanry, the militia, or what, under the old form of expression, you might regard as the _trained bands_ of our literature--the fund from which ultimately, or in the last resort, students look for the materials of our vast and myriad-faced literature. A French author of eminence, fifty years back, having occasion to speak of our English literature collectively, in reference to the one point of its _variety_, being also a man of honor, and disdaining that sort of patriotism which sacrifices the truth to nationality, speaks of our pretensions in these words: _Les Anglois qui ont une litterature infiniment plus variee que la notre_. This fact is a feature in our national pretensions that could ever have been regarded doubtfully merely through insufficient knowledge. Dr. Johnson, indeed, made it the distinguishing merit of the French, that they "have a book upon every subject." But Dr. Johnson was not only capricious as regards temper and variable humors, but as regards the inequality of his knowledge. Incoherent and unsystematic was Dr. Johnson's information in most cases. Hence his extravagant misappraisement of Knolles, the Turkish historian, which is exposed so severely by Spittler, the German, who, again, is himself miserably superficial in his analysis of English history. Hence the feeble credulity which Dr. Johnson showed with respect to the forgery of De Foe (under the masque of Captain Carleton) upon the Catalonian campaign of Lord Peterborough. But it is singular that a literature, so unrivalled as ours in its compass and variety, should not have produced any, even the shallowest, manual of itself. And thus it happens, for example, that writers so laborious and serviceable as Birch are in any popular sense scarcely known. I showed to Lord Massey, among others of his works, that which relates to Lord Worcester's (that is, Lord Glamorgan's) negotiations with the Papal nuncio in Ireland, about the year 1644, &c.; Connected with these negotiations were many names amongst Lord Massey's own ancestors; so that here he suddenly alighted upon a fund of archeologic memorabilia, connecting what interested him as an Irishman in general with what most interested him as the head of a particular family. It is remarkable, also, as an indication of the _general_ nobility and elevation which had accompanied the revolution in his life, that concurrently with the constitutional torpor previously besetting him, had melted away the intellectual torpor under which he had found books until recently of little practical value. Lady Carbery had herself told me that the two revolutions went on simultaneously. He began to take an interest in literature when life itself unfolded a new interest, under the companionship of his youthful wife. And here, by the way, as subsequently in scores of other instances, I saw broad evidences of the credulity with which we have adopted into our grave political faith the rash and malicious sketches of our novelists. With Fielding commenced the practice of systematically traducing our order of country gentlemen. His picture of Squire Western is not only a malicious, but also an incongruous libel. The squire's ordinary language is impossible, being alternately bookish and absurdly rustic. In reality, the conventional dialect ascribed to the rustic order in general--to peasants even more than to gentlemen--in our English plays and novels, is a childish and fantastic babble, belonging to no form of real breathing life; nowhere intelligible; not in _any_ province; whilst, at the same time, all provinces--Somersetshire, Devonshire, Hampshire--are confounded with our midland counties; and positively the diction of Parricombe and Charricombe from Exmoor Forest is mixed up with the pure Icelandic forms of the English lakes, of North Yorkshire, and of Northumberland. In Scotland, it needs but a slight intercourse with the peasantry to distinguish various dialects--the Aberdonian and Fifeshire, for instance, how easily distinguished, even by an English alien, from the western dialects of Ayrshire, &c.;! And I have heard it said, by Scottish purists in this matter, that even Sir Walter Scott is chargeable with considerable licentiousness in the management of his colloquial Scotch. Yet, generally speaking, it bears the strongest impress of truthfulness. But, on the other hand, how false and powerless does this same Sir Walter become, when the necessities of his tale oblige him at any time to come amongst the English peasantry! His magic wand is instantaneously broken; and he moves along by a babble of impossible forms, as fantastic as any that our London theatres have traditionally ascribed to English rustics, to English sailors, and to Irishmen universally. Fielding is open to the same stern criticism, as a deliberate falsehood-monger; and from the same cause--want of energy to face the difficulty of mastering a real living idiom. This defect in language, however, I cite only as one feature in the complex falsehood which disfigures Fielding's portrait of the English country gentleman. Meantime the question arises, Did he mean his Squire Western for a _representative_ portrait? Possibly not. He might design it expressly as a sketch of an individual, and by no means of a class. And the fault may be, after all, not in _him_, the writer, but in _us_, the falsely interpreting readers. But, be that as it may, and figure to ourselves as we may the rustic squire of a hundred to a hundred and fifty years back (though manifestly at utter war, in the portraitures of our novelists, with the realities handed down to us by our Parliamentary annals), on that _arena_ we are dealing with objects of pure speculative curiosity. Far different is the same question, when practically treated for purposes of present legislation or philosophic inference. One hundred years ago, such was the difficulty of social intercourse, simply from the difficulty of locomotion (though even then this difficulty was much lowered to the English, as beyond comparison the most equestrian of nations), that it is possible to imagine a shade of difference as still distinguishing the town-bred man from the rustic; though, considering the multiplied distribution of our assize towns, our cathedral towns, our sea-ports, and our universities, all so many recurring centres of civility, it is not very easy to imagine such a thing in an island no larger than ours. But can any human indulgence be extended to the credulity which assumes the same possibility as existing for us in the very middle of the nineteenth century? At a time when every week sees the town banker drawn from our rural gentry; railway directors in every quarter transferring themselves indifferently from town to country, from country to town; lawyers, clergymen, medical men, magistrates, local judges, &c.;, all shifting in and out between town and country; rural families all intermarrying on terms of the widest freedom with town families; all again, in the persons of their children, meeting for study at the same schools, colleges, military academies, &c.; by what furious forgetfulness of the realities belonging to the case, has it been possible for writers in public journals to persist in arguing national questions upon the assumption of a bisection in our population--a double current, on the one side steeped to the lips in town prejudices, on the other side traditionally sold to rustic views and doctrines? Such double currents, like the Rhone flowing through the Lake of Geneva, and yet refusing to intermingle, probably _did_ exist, and had an important significance in the Low Countries of the fifteenth century, or between the privileged cities and the unprivileged country of Germany down to the Thirty Years' War; but, for us, they are in the last degree fabulous distinctions, pure fairy tales; and the social economist or the historian who builds on such phantoms as that of a rustic aristocracy still retaining any substantial grounds of distinction from the town aristocracies, proclaims the hollowness of any and all his doctrines that depend upon such assumptions. Lord Carbery was a thorough fox-hunter. The fox- hunting of the adjacent county of Leicestershire was not then what it is now. The state of the land was radically different for the foot of the horse, the nature and distribution of the fences was different; so that a class of horses thoroughly different was then required. But then, as now, it offered the finest exhibition of the fox-chase that is known in Europe; and then, as now, this is the best adapted among all known varieties of hunting to the exhibition of adventurous and skilful riding, and generally, perhaps, to the development of manly and athletic qualities. Lord Carbery, during the season, might be immoderately addicted to this mode of sporting, having naturally a pleasurable feeling connected with his own reputation as a skilful and fearless horseman. But, though the chases were in those days longer than they are at present, small was the amount of time really abstracted from that which he had disposable for general purposes; amongst which purposes ranked foremost his literary pursuits. And, however much he transcended the prevailing conception of his order, as sketched by satiric and often ignorant novelists, he might be regarded, in all that concerned the liberalization of his views, as pretty fairly representing that order. Thus, through every _real_ experience, the crazy notion of a rural aristocracy flowing apart from the urban aristocracy, and standing on a different level of culture as to intellect, of polish as to manners, and of interests as to social objects, a notion at all times false as a fact, now at length became with all thoughtful men monstrous as a possibility.

Meantime Lord Massey was reached by reports, both through Lady Carbery and myself, of something which interested him more profoundly than all earthly records of horsemanship, or any conceivable questions connected with books. Lady Carbery, with a view to the amusement of Lady Massey and my sister, for both of whom youth and previous seclusion had created a natural interest in all such scenes, accepted two or three times in every week dinner invitations to all the families on her visiting list, and lying within her winter circle, which was measured, by a radius of about seventeen miles. For, dreadful as were the roads in those days, when the Bath, the Bristol, or the Dover mail was equally perplexed oftentimes to accomplish Mr. Palmer's rate of seven miles an hour, a distance of seventeen was yet easily accomplished in one hundred minutes by the powerful Laxton horses. Magnificent was the Laxton turn-out; and in the roomy travelling coach of Lady Carbery, made large enough to receive upon occasion even a bed, it would have been an idle scruple to fear the crowding a party which mustered only three besides myself. For Lord Massey uniformly declined joining us; in which I believe that he was right. A schoolboy like myself had fortunately no dignity to lose. But Lord Massey, a needy Irish peer (or, strictly speaking, since the Union no peer at all, though still an hereditary lord), was bound to be trebly vigilant over his surviving honors. This he owed to his country as well as to his family. He recoiled from what he figured to himself (but too often falsely figured) as the haughty and disdainful English nobility---all so rich, all so polished in manner, all so punctiliously correct in the ritual of _bienseance_. Lord Carbery might face them gayly and boldly: for _he_ was rich, and, although possessing Irish estates and an Irish mansion, was a thorough Englishman by education and early association. "But I," said Lord Massey, "had a careless Irish education, and am never quite sure that I may not be trespassing on some mysterious law of English good-breeding." In vain I suggested to him that most of what passed amongst foreigners and amongst Irishmen for English _hauteur_ was pure reserve, which, among all people that were bound over by the inevitable restraints of their rank (imposing, it must be remembered, jealous duties as well as privileges), was sure to become the operative feeling. I contended that in the English situation there was no escaping this English reserve, except by great impudence and defective sensibility; and that, if examined, reserve was the truest expression of respect towards those who were its objects. In vain did Lady Carbery back me in this representation. He stood firm, and never once accompanied us to any dinner-party. Northamptonshire, I know not why, is (or then was) more thickly sown with aristocratic families than any in the kingdom. Many elegant and pretty women there naturally were in these parties; but undoubtedly our two Laxton baronesses shone advantageously amongst them. A boy like myself could lay no restraint upon the after-dinner feelings of the gentlemen; and almost uniformly I heard such verdicts passed upon the personal attractions of both, but especially Lady Massey, as tended greatly to soothe the feelings of Lord Massey. It is singular that Lady Massey universally carried off the palm of unlimited homage. Lady Carbery was a regular beauty, and publicly known for such; both were fine figures, and apparently not older than twenty-six; but in her Irish friend people felt something more thoroughly artless and feminine--for the masculine understanding of Lady Carbery in some way communicated its commanding expression to her deportment. I reported to Lord Massey, in terms of unexceptionable decorum, those flattering expressions of homage, which sometimes from the lips of young men, partially under the influence of wine, had taken a form somewhat too enthusiastic for a literal repetition to a chivalrous and adoring husband.

Meantime, the reader has been kept long enough at Laxton to warrant me in presuming some curiosity or interest to have gathered within his mind about the mistress of the mansion. Who was Lady Carbery? what was her present position, and what had been her original position, in society? All readers of Bishop Jeremy Taylor


[Footnote: The Life of Jeremy Taylor, by Reginald Heber, Bishop of Calcutta, is most elaborately incorrect. From want of research, and a chronology in some places thoroughly erroneous, various important facts are utterly misstated; and what is most to be regretted, in a matter deeply affecting the bishop's candor and Christian charity, namely, a controversial correspondence with a Somersetshire Dissenting clergyman, the wildest misconception has vitiated the entire result. That fractional and splintered condition, into which some person had cut up the controversy with a view to his own more convenient study of its chief elements, Heber had misconceived as the actual form in which these parts had been originally exchanged between the disputants--a blunder of the worst consequence, and having the effect of translating general expressions (such as recorded a moral indignation against ancient fallacies or evasions connected with the dispute) into direct ebullitions of scorn or displeasure personally against his immediate antagonist. And the charge of intolerance and defective charity becomes thus very much stronger against the poor bishop, because it takes the shape of a confession extorted by mere force of truth from an else reluctant apologist, that would most gladly have denied everything that he _could_ deny. The Life needs more than ever to be accurately written, since it has been thus chaotically mis-narrated by a prelate of so much undeniable talent. I once began a very elaborate life myself, and in these words: "Jeremy Taylor, the most eloquent and the subtlest of Christian philosophers, was the son of a barber, and the son-in-law of a king,"--alluding to the tradition (imperfectly verified, I believe) that he married an illegitimate daughter of Charles I. But this sketch was begun more than thirty years ago; and I retired from the labor as too overwhelmingly exacting in all that related to the philosophy and theology of that man 80 "myriad-minded," and of that century so anarchical.]


must be aware of that religious Lady Carbery, who was the munificent (and, for her kindness, one might say the filial) patroness of the all-eloquent and subtle divine. She died before the Restoration, and, consequently, before her spiritual director could have ascended the Episcopal throne. The title of Carbery was at that time an earldom; the earl married again, arid his second countess was also a devout patroness of Taylor. Having no peerage at hand, I do not know by what mode of derivation the modern title of the nineteenth century had descended from the old one of the seventeenth. I presume that some collateral branch of the original family had succeeded to the barony when the limitations of the original settlement had extinguished the earldom. But to me, who saw revived another religious Lady Carbery, distinguished for her beauty and accomplishments, it was interesting to read of the two successive ladies who had borne that title one hundred and sixty years before, and whom no reader of Jeremy Taylor is ever allowed to forget, since almost all his books are dedicated to one or other of the pious family that had protected him. Once more there was a religious Lady Carbery, supporting locally the Church of England, patronizing schools, diffusing the most extensive relief to every mode of indigence or distress. A century and a half ago such a Lady Carbery was in South Wales, at the "Golden Grove;" now such another Lady Carbery was in central England, at Laxton. The two cases, divided by six generations, interchanged a reciprocal interest, since in both cases it was young ladies, under the age of thirty, that originated the movement, and in both cases these ladies bore the same title; and I will therefore retrace rapidly the outline of that contemporary case so familiarly known to myself.

Colonel Watson and General Smith had been amongst the earliest friends of my mother's family. Both served for many years in India: the first in the Company's army, the other upon the staff of the king's forces in that country. Each, about the same time, made a visit to England, and each of them, I believe, with the same principal purpose of providing for the education of his daughter; for each happened to have one sole child, which child, in each case, was a girl of singular beauty; and both of these little ladies were entitled to very large fortunes. The colonel and the general, being on brotherly terms of intimacy, resolved to combine their plans for the welfare of their daughters. What they wanted was, not a lady that could teach them any special arts or accomplishments--all these could be purchased;--but the two qualifications indispensable for the difficult situation of lady- superintendent over two children so singularly separated from all relatives whatever, were, in the first place, knowledge of the world, and integrity for keeping at a distance all showy adventurers that might else offer themselves, with unusual advantages, as suitors for the favor of two great heiresses; and, secondly, manners exquisitely polished. Looking to that last requisition, it seems romantic to mention, that the lady selected for the post, with the fullest approbation of both officers, was one who began life as the daughter of a little Lincolnshire farmer. What her maiden name had been, I do not at this moment remember; but this name was of very little importance, being soon merged in that of Harvey, bestowed on her at the altar by a country gentleman. The squire--not very rich, I believe, but rich enough to rank as a matrimonial prize in the lottery of a country girl, whom one single step of descent in life might have brought within sight of menial service--had been captivated by the young woman's beauty; and this, at that period, when accompanied by the advantages of youth, must have been resplendent. I, who had known her all my life, down to my sixteenth year (during which year she died), and who naturally, therefore, referred her origin back to some remote ancestral generation, nevertheless, in her sole case, was made to feel that there might be some justification for the Church of England discountenancing in her Liturgy, "marriage with your great-grandmother; neither shalt thou marry thy great-grandfather's widow." She, poor thing! at that time was thinking little of marriage; for even then, though known only to herself and her _femme de chambre_, that dreadful organic malady (cancer) was raising its adder's crest, under which finally she died. But, in spite of languor interchanging continually with disfiguring anguish, she still impressed one as a regal beauty. Her person, indeed, and figure, _would_ have tended towards such a standard; but all was counteracted, and thrown back into the mould of sweet natural womanhood, by the cherubic beauty of her features. These it was--these features, so purely childlike--that reconciled me in a moment of time to great-grandmotherhood. The stories about Ninon de l'Enclos are French fables--speaking plainly, are falsehoods; and sorry I am that a nation so amiable as the French should habitually disregard truth, when coming into collision with their love for the extravagant. But, if anything could reconcile me to these monstrous old fibs about Ninon at ninety, it would be the remembrance of this English enchantress on the high-road to seventy. Guess, reader, what she must have been at twenty-eight to thirty-two, when she became the widow of the Gerenian horseman, Harvey. How bewitching she must have looked in her widow's caps! So had once thought Colonel Watson, who happened to be in England at that period; and to the charming widow this man of war propounded his hand in marriage. This hand, this martial hand, for reason inexplicable to me, Mrs. Harvey declined; and the colonel bounced off in a rage to Bengal. There were others who saw young Mrs. Harvey, as well as Colonel Watson. And amongst them was an ancient German gentleman, to what century belonging I do not know, who had every possible bad quality known to European experience, and a solitary good one, namely, eight hundred thousand pounds sterling. The man's name was Schreiber. Schreiber was an aggregate resulting from the conflux of all conceivable bad qualities. That was the elementary base of Schreiber; and the superstructure, or Corinthian decoration of his frontispiece, was, that Schreiber cultivated one sole science, namely, the science of taking snuff. Here were two separate objects for contemplation: one, bright as Aurora--that radiant Koh-i-noor, or mountain of light--the eight hundred thousand pounds; the other, sad, fuscous, begrimed with the snuff of ages, namely, the most ancient Schreiber. Ah! if they _could_ have been divided--these twin yoke- fellows--and that ladies might have the privilege of choosing between them! For the moment there was no prudent course open to Mrs. Harvey, but that of marrying Schreiber (which she did, and survived); and, subsequently, when the state of the market became favorable to such "conversions" of stock, then the new Mrs. Schreiber parted from Schreiber, and disposed of her interest in Schreiber at a settled rate in three per cent. consols and terminable annuities; for every _coupon_ of Schreiber receiving a _bonus_ of so many thousand pounds, paid down according to the rate agreed on by the lawyers of the two parties; or, strictly speaking, _quarrelled on_ between the adverse factions; for agreement it was hard to effect upon any point. The deadly fear which had been breathed into him by Mrs. Schreiber's scale of expenditure in a Park Lane house proved her most salutary ally. Coerced by this horrid vision, Schreiber consented (which else he never would have done) to grant her an allowance, for life, of about two thousand per annum. Could _that_ be reckoned an anodyne for the torment connected with a course of Schreiber? I pretend to no opinion.

Such were the facts: and exactly at this point in her career had Mrs. Schreiber arrived, when, once more, Colonel Watson and General Smith were visiting England, and for the last time, on the errand of settling permanently some suitable establishment for their two infant daughters. The superintendence of this they desired to devolve upon some lady, qualified by her manners and her connections for introducing the young ladies, when old enough, into general society. Mrs. Schreiber was the very person required. Intellectually she had no great pretensions; but these she did not need: her character was irreproachable, her manners were polished, and her own income placed her far above all mercenary temptations. She had not thought fit to accept the station of Colonel Watson's wife, but some unavowed feeling prompted her to undertake, with enthusiasm, the duties of a mother to the colonel's daughter. Chiefly on Miss Watson's account it was at first that she extended her maternal cares to General Smith's daughter; but very soon so sweet and winning was the disposition of Miss Smith that Mrs. Schreiber apparently loved _her_ the best.

Both, however, appeared under a combination of circumstances too singularly romantic to fail of creating an interest that was universal. Both were solitary children, unchallenged by any relatives. Neither had ever known what it was to taste of love, paternal or maternal. Their mothers had been long dead--not consciously seen by either; and their fathers, not surviving their last departure from home long enough to see them again, died before returning from India. What a world of desolation seemed to exist for them! How silent was every hall into which, by natural right, they should have had entrance! Several people, kind, cordial people, men and women, were scattered over England, that, during their days of infancy, would have delighted to receive them; but, by some fatality, when they reached their fifteenth year, and might have been deemed old enough to undertake visits, all of these paternal friends, except two, had died; nor had they, by that time, any relatives at all that remained alive, or were eligible as associates. Strange, indeed, was the contrast between the silent past of their lives and that populous future to which their large fortunes would probably introduce them. Throw open a door in the rear that should lay bare the long vista of chambers through which their childhood might symbolically be represented as having travelled--what silence! what solemn solitude! Open a door in advance that should do the same figurative office for the future--suddenly what a jubilation! what a tumult of festal greetings!

But the succeeding stages of life did not, perhaps, in either case fully correspond to the early promise. Rank and station the two young ladies attained; but rank and station do not always throw people upon prominent stages of action or display. Many a family, possessing both rank and wealth, and not undistinguished possibly by natural endowments of an order fitted for brilliant popularity, never emerge from obscurity, or not into any splendor that can be called national; sometimes, perhaps, from a temper unfitted for worthy struggles in the head of the house; possibly from a haughty, possibly a dignified disdain of popular arts, hatred of petty rhetoric, petty sycophantic courtships, petty canvassing tricks; or again, in many cases, because accidents of ill-luck have intercepted the fair proportion of success due to the merits of the person; whence, oftentimes, a hasty self- surrender to impulses of permanent disgust. But, more frequently than any other cause, I fancy that impatience of the long struggle required for any distinguished success interferes to thin the ranks of competitors for the prizes of public ambition. Perseverance is soon refrigerated in those who fall back under any result, defeated or not defeated, upon splendid mansions and luxuries of every kind, already far beyond their needs or their wishes. The soldier described by the Roman satirist as one who had lost his purse, was likely enough, under the desperation of his misfortune, to see nothing formidable in any obstacle that crossed his path towards another supplementary purse; whilst the very same obstacle might reasonably alarm one who, in retreating, fell back under the battlements of twenty thousand per annum. In the present case, there was nothing at all to move wonder in the final result under so continual a siege of temptation from the seductions of voluptuous ease; the only wonder is, that one of the young ladies, namely, Miss Watson, whose mind was masculine, and in some directions aspiring, should so readily have acquiesced in a result which she might have anticipated from the beginning.

Happy was the childhood, happy the early dawn of womanhood, which these two young ladies passed under the guardianship of Mrs. Schreiber. Education in those days was not the austere old lady that she is now. At least, in the case of young ladies, her exactions were merciful and considerate. If Miss Smith sang pretty well, and Miss Watson _very_ well, and with the power of singing difficult _part_ music at sight, they did so for the same reason that the lark sings, and chiefly under the same gentle tuition--that of nature, glad almighty nature, breathing inspiration from her Delphic tripod of happiness, and health, and hope. Mrs. Schreiber pretended to no intellectual gifts whatever; and yet, practically, she was wiser than many who have the greatest. First of all other tasks which she imposed upon her wards, was that of daily exercise, and exercise carried to _excess_. She insisted upon four hours' exercise daily; and, as young ladies walk fast, _that_ would have yielded, at the rate of three and a half miles per hour, thirteen plus one third miles. But only two and a half hours were given to walking; the other one and a half to riding. No day was a day of rest; absolutely none. Days so stormy that they "kept the raven to her nest," snow the heaviest, winds the most frantic, were never listened to as any ground of reprieve from the ordinary exaction. I once knew (that is, not personally, for I never saw her, but through the reports of her many friends) an intrepid lady,


[Footnote: If I remember rightly, some account is given of this palestric lady and her stern Pedo-gymnastics, in a clever book on household medicine and surgery under circumstances of inevitable seclusion from professional aid, written about the year 1820-22, by Mr. Haden, a surgeon of London.]


living in the city of London (that is, technically the _city_, as opposed to Westminster, etc., Mary-le- bone, etc.), who made a point of turning out her newborn infants for a pretty long airing, even on the day of their birth. It made no difference to her whether the month were July or January; good, undeniable air is to be had in either month. Once only she was baffled, and most indignant it made her, because the little thing chose to be born at half-past nine P. M.; so that, by the time its toilet was finished, bonnet and cloak all properly adjusted, the watchman was calling "Past eleven, and a cloudy night;" upon which, most reluctantly, she was obliged to countermand the orders for that day's exercise, and considered herself, like the Emperor Titus, to have lost a day. But what came of the London lady's or of Mrs. Schreiber's Spartan discipline? Did the little blind kittens of Gracechurch-street, who were ordered by their penthesilean mamma, on the very day of their nativity, to face the most cruel winds--did _they_, or did Mrs. Schreiber's wards, justify, in after life, this fierce discipline, by commensurate results of hardiness? In words written beyond all doubt by Shakspeare, though not generally recognized as his, it might have been said to any one of this Amazonian brood,--


"Now mild may be thy life;
For a more blust'rous birth had never babe.
Quiet and gentle be thy temperature;
For thou'rt the rudeliest welcomed to this world
That e'er was woman's child. Happy be the sequel!
Thou hast as chiding a nativity
As fire, air, water, earth, and heaven, can make,
To herald thee from darkness!"

---Pericles, Act III.

As to the city kittens, I heard that the treatment prospered; but the man who reported this added, that by original constitution they were as strong as Meux's dray-horses; and thus, after all, they may simply illustrate the old logical _dictum_ ascribed to some medical man, that the reason why London children of the wealthier classes are noticeable even to a proverb for their robustness and bloom, is because none but those who are already vigorous to excess, and who start with advantages of health far beyond the average scale, have much chance of surviving that most searching quarantine, which, in such


[Footnote: For myself, meantime, I am far from assenting to all the romantic abuse applied to the sewerage and the church-yards of London, and even more violently to the river Thames. As a tidal river, even: beyond the metropolitan bridges, the Thames undoubtedly does much towards cleansing the atmosphere, whatever may be the condition of its waters. And one most erroneous postulate there is from which the _Times_ starts in all its arguments, namely, this, that supposing the Thames to be even a vast sewer, in short, the _cloaca maxima_ of London, there is in that arrangement of things any special reproach applying to our mighty English capital. On the contrary, _all_ great cities that ever were founded have sought out, as their first and elementary condition, the adjacency of some great cleansing river. In the long process of development through which cities pass, commerce and other functions of civilization come to usurp upon the earlier functions of such rivers, and sometimes (through increasing efforts of luxurious refinement) may come entirely to absorb them. But, in the infancy of every great city, the chief function for which she looks to her river is that of purification. Be thou my huge _cloaca_, says infant Babylon to the Euphrates, says infant Nineveh to the Tigris, says infant Rome to the Tiber. So far is that reproach from having any special application to London. Smoke is not unwholesome; in many circumstances it is salubrious, as a counter-agent to worse influences. Even sewerage is chiefly insalubrious from its moisture, and not, in any degree yet demonstrated, from its odor.]


an atmosphere, they are summoned to weather at starting. Coming, however, to the special case of Mrs. Schreiber's household, I am bound to report that in no instance have I known young ladies so thoroughly steeled against all the ordinary host of petty maladies which, by way of antithesis to the capital warfare of dangerous complaints, might be called the _guerilla_ nosology; influenza, for instance, in milder forms, catarrh, headache, toothache, dyspepsia in transitory shapes, etc. Always the spirits of the two girls were exuberant; the enjoyment of life seemed to be intense, and never did I know either of them to suffer from _ennui_. My conscious knowledge of them commenced when I was about two years old, they being from ten to twelve years older. Mrs. Schreiber had been amongst my mother's earliest friends as Mrs. Harvey, and in days when my mother had opportunities of doing her seasonable services. And as there were three special advantages which adorned my mother, and which ranked in Mrs. Schreiber's estimate as the highest which earth could show, namely: 1 degrees, that she spoke and wrote English with singular elegance; 2 degrees, that her manners were eminently polished; and 3 degrees, that, even in that early stage of my mother's life, a certain tone of religiosity, and even of ascetic devotion, was already diffused as a luminous mist that served to exalt the coloring of her morality. To this extent Mrs. Schreiber approved of religion; but nothing of a sectarian cast could she have tolerated; nor had she anything of that nature to apprehend from my mother. Viewing my mother, therefore, as a pure model of an English matron, and feeling for her, besides, a deeper sentiment of friendship and affection than for anybody else on her visiting list, it was natural enough that she should come with her wards on an annual visit to "The Farm" (a pretty, rustic dwelling occupied by my father in the neighborhood of Manchester), and subsequently (when _that_ arose) to Greenhay.


[Footnote: "_Greenhay_."--As this name might, under a false interpretation, seem absurd as including incongruous elements, I ought, in justification of my mother, who devised the name, to have mentioned that _hay_ was meant for the old English word (derived from the old French word _haie_) indicating a rural enclosure. Conventionally, a _hay_ or _haie_ was understood to mean a country-house within a verdant ring-fence, narrower than a park: which word park, in Scotch use, means any enclosure whatever, though not twelve feet square; but in English use (witness Captain Burt's wager about Culloden parks) means an enclosure measured by square miles, and usually accounted to want its appropriate furniture, unless tenanted by deer. By the way, it is a singular illustration of a fact illustrated in one way or other every hour, namely, of the imperfect knowledge which England possesses of England, that, within these last eight or nine months, I saw in the _Illustrated London News_ an article assuming that the red deer was unknown in England. Whereas, if the writer had ever been at the English lakes during the hunting season, he might have seen it actually hunted over Martindale forest and its purlieus. Or, again, in Devonshire and Cornwall, over Dartmoor, etc., and, I believe, in many other regions, though naturally narrowing as civilization widens. The writer is equally wrong in supposing the prevailing deer of our parks to be the _roe_ deer, which are very little known. It is the _fallow_ deer that chiefly people our parks. Red deer were also found at Blenheim, in Oxfordshire, when it was visited by Dr. Johnson, as may be seen in "Boswell."]


As my father always retained a town-house in Manchester (somewhere in Fountain-street), and, though a plain, unpretending man, was literary to the extent of having written a book, all things were so arranged that there was no possibility of any commercial mementos ever penetrating to the rural retreat of his family; such mementos, I mean, as, by reviving painful recollections of that ancient Schreiber, who was or ought to be by this time extinct, would naturally be odious and distressing. Here, therefore, liberated from all jealousy of overlooking eyes, such as haunted persons of their expectations at Brighton, Weymouth, Sidmouth, or Bath, Miss Smith and Miss Watson used to surrender themselves without restraint to their glad animal impulses of girlish gayety, like the fawns of antelopes when suddenly transferred from tiger-haunted thickets to the serene preserves of secluded rajahs. On these visits it was, that I, as a young pet whom they carried about like a doll from my second to my eighth or ninth year, learned to know them; so as to take a fraternal interest in the succeeding periods of their lives. Their fathers I certainly had not seen; nor had they, consciously. These two fathers must both have died in India, before my inquiries had begun to travel in that direction. But, as old acquaintances of my mother's, both had visited The Farm before I was born; and about General Smith, in particular, there had survived amongst the servants a remembrance which seemed to us (that is to them and to myself) ludicrously awful, though, at that time, the practice was common throughout our Indian possessions. He had a Hindoo servant with him; and this servant every night stretched himself along the "sill" or outer threshold of the door; so that he might have been trodden on by the general when retiring to rest; and from this it was but a moderate step in advance to say that he _was_ trodden on. Upon which basis many other wonders were naturally reared. Miss Smith's father, therefore, furnished matter for a not very amiable tradition; but Miss Smith herself was the sweetest-tempered and the loveliest of girls, and the most thoroughly English in the style of her beauty. Far different every way was Miss Watson. In person she was a finished beauty of the very highest pretensions, and generally recognized as such; that is to say, her figure was fine and queenly; her features were exquisitely cut, as regarded their forms and the correspondences of their parts; and usually by artists her face was said to be Grecian. Perhaps the nostrils, mouth, and forehead, might be so; but nothing could be less Grecian, or more eccentric in form and position, than the eyes. They were placed obliquely, in a way that I do not remember to have seen repeated in any other face whatever. Large they were, and particularly long, tending to an almond-shape; equally strange, in fact, as to color, shape, and position: but the remarkable position of these eyes would have absorbed your gaze to the obliteration of all other features or peculiarities in the face, were it not for one other even more remarkable distinction affecting her complexion: this lay in a suffusion that mantled upon her cheeks, of a color amounting almost to carmine. Perhaps it might be no more than what Pindar meant by the _porphyreon phos erotos_, which Gray has falsely


[Footnote: Falsely, because poxphuxeos rarely, perhaps, means in the Greek use what we mean properly by _purple_, and _could_ not mean it in the Pindaric passage; much oftener it denotes some shade of _crimson_, or else of _puniceus_, or blood-red. Gibbon was never more mistaken than when he argued that all the endless disputing about the _purpureus_ of the ancients might have been evaded by attending to its Greek designation, namely, _porphyry_-colored: since, said he, porphyry is always of the same color. Not at all. Porphyry, I have heard, runs through as large a gamut of hues as marble; but, if this should be an exaggeration, at all events porphyry is far from being so monochromatic as Gibbon's argument would presume. The truth is, colors were as loosely and latitudinarially distinguished by the Greeks and Romans as degrees of affinity and consanguinity are everywhere. _My son-in-law_, says a woman, and she means _my stepson._ _My cousin_, she says, and she means any mode of relationship in the wide, wide world. _Nos neveux_, says a French writer, and means not _our nephews_, but _our grandchildren_, or more generally _our descendants_.]


translated as "the bloom of young desire, and PURPLE light of love." It was not unpleasing, and gave a lustre to the eyes, but it added to the eccentricity of the face; and by all strangers it was presumed to be an artificial color, resulting from some mode of applying a preparation more brilliant than rouge. But to us children, so constantly admitted to her toilet, it was well known to be entirely natural. Generally speaking, it is not likely to assist the effect of a young woman's charms, that she presents any such variety in her style of countenance as could naturally be called _odd_. But Miss Watson, by the somewhat scenical effect resulting from the harmony between her fine figure and her fine countenance, triumphed over all that might else have been thought a blemish; and when she was presented at court on occasion of her marriage, the king himself pronounced her, to friends of Mrs. Schreiber, the most splendid of all the brides that had yet given lustre to his reign. In such cases the judgments of rustic, undisciplined tastes, though marked by narrowness, and often by involuntary obedience to vulgar ideals (which, for instance, makes them insensible to all the deep sanctities of beauty that sleep amongst the Italian varieties of the Madonna face), is not without its appropriate truth. Servants and rustics all thrilled in sympathy with the sweet English loveliness of Miss Smith; but all alike acknowledged, with spontaneous looks of homage, the fine presence and finished beauty of Miss Watson. Naturally, from the splendor with which they were surrounded, and the notoriety of their great expectations,--so much to dazzle in one direction, and, on the other hand, something for as tender a sentiment as pity, in the fact of both from so early an age having been united in the calamity of orphanage,-- go where they might, these young women drew all eyes upon themselves; and from the _audible_ comparisons sometimes made between them, it might be imagined that if ever there were a situation fitted to nourish rivalship and jealousy, between two girls, here it might be anticipated in daily operation. But, left to themselves, the yearnings of the female heart tend naturally towards what is noble; and, unless where it has been tried too heavily by artificial incitements applied to the pride, I do not believe that women generally are disposed to any unfriendly jealousy of each other. Why should they? Almost every woman, when strengthened in those charms which nature has given to her by such as she can in many ways give to herself, must feel that she has her own separate domain of empire unaffected by the most sovereign beauty upon earth. Every man that ever existed has probably his own peculiar talent (if only it were detected), in which he would be found to excel all the rest of his race. And in every female face possessing any attractions at all, no matter what may be her general inferiority, there lurks some secret peculiarity of expression--some mesmeric individuality--which is valid within its narrower range--limited superiority over the supreme of beauties within a narrow circle. It is unintelligibly but mesmerically potent, this secret fascination attached to features oftentimes that are absolutely plain; and as one of many cases within my own range of positive experience, I remember in confirmation, at this moment, that in a clergyman's family, counting three daughters, all on a visit to my mother, the youngest, Miss F---- P----, who was strikingly and memorably plain, never walked out on the Clifton Downs unattended, but she was followed home by a crowd of admiring men, anxious to learn her rank and abode; whilst the middle sister, eminently handsome, levied no such _visible_ tribute of admiration on the public.

I mention this fact, one of a thousand similar facts, simply by way of reminding the reader of what he must himself have often witnessed; namely, that no woman is condemned by nature to any ignoble necessity of repining against the power of other women; her own may be far more confined, but within its own circle may possibly, measured against that of the haughtiest beauty, be the profounder. However, waiving the question thus generally put here, and as it specially affected these two young women that virtually were sisters, any question of precedency in power or display, when brought into collision with sisterly affection, had not a momentary existence. Each had soon redundant proofs of her own power to attract suitors without end; and, for the more or the less, _that_ was felt to be a matter of accident. Never, on this earth, I am satisfied, did that pure sisterly love breathe a more steady inspiration than now into the hearts and through the acts of these two generous girls; neither was there any sacrifice which either would have refused _to_ or _for_ the other. The period, however, was now rapidly shortening during which they would have any opportunity for testifying this reciprocal love. Suitors were flocking around them, as rank as cormorants in a storm. The grim old chancellor (one, if not both, of the young ladies having been a ward in Chancery) had all his legal jealousies awakened on their behalf. The worshipful order of _adventurers_ and _fortune-hunters_, at that time chiefly imported from Ireland, as in times more recent from Germany, and other moustachoed parts of the continent, could not live under the raking fire of Mrs. Schreiber, on the one side, with her female tact and her knowledge of life, and of the chancellor, with his huge discretional power, on the other. That particular chancellor, whom the chronology of the case brought chiefly into connection with Miss Watson's interests, was (if my childish remembrances do not greatly mislead me) the iracund Lord Thurlow. Lovers and wooers this grim lawyer regarded as the most impertinent order of animals in universal zoology; and of these, in Miss Watson's case, he had a whole menagerie to tend. Penelope, according to some school-boy remembrance of mine, had one hundred and eighteen suitors. These young ladies had almost as many. Heavens! I what a crew of Comus to follow or to lead! And what a suitable person was this truculent old lord on the woolsack to enact the part of shepherd--Corydon, suppose, or Alphesibeus--to this goodly set of lambs! How he must have admired the hero of the "Odyssey," who in one way or other accounted for all the wooers that "sorned" upon his house, and had a receipt for their bodies from the grave-digger of Ithaca! But even this wily descendant of Sisyphus would have found it no such easy matter to deal with the English suitors, who were not the feeble voluptuaries of the Ionian Islands, that suffered themselves to be butchered as unresistingly as sheep in the shambles--actually standing at one end of a banqueting-room to be shot at with bows and arrows, not having pluck enough to make a rush--but were _game_ men; all young, strong, rich, and in most cases technically "noble;" all, besides, contending for one or other of two prizes a thousand times better fitted to inspire romantic ardor than the poor, withered Penelope. One, by the way, amongst these suitors (I speak of those who addressed Miss Watson), merits a separate commemoration, as having drawn from Sheridan his very happiest _impromptu_--and an _impromptu_ that was really such--(the rarest of all things from Sheridan). This was Lord Belgrave, eldest son of Lord Grosvenor-then an earl, but at some period, long subsequent to this, raised to the Marquisate of Westminster, a title naturally suggesting in itself a connection with the vast Grosvenor property, sweeping across the whole area of that most aristocratic region in the metropolis now called _Belgravia_, which was then a name unknown; and this Hesperian region had as yet no architectural value, and consequently no ground- rent value, simply because the world of fashion and distinction had as yet not expanded itself in that direction. In those days the territorial importance of this great house rested exclusively upon its connection with the county of Chester. In this connection it was that the young Viscount Belgrave had been introduced, by his family interest, into the House of Commons; he had delivered his maiden speech with some effect; and had been heard favorably on various subsequent occasions; on one of which it was that, to the extreme surprise of the house, he terminated his speech with a passage from Demosthenes--not presented in English, but in sounding Attic Greek. Latin is a privileged dialect in parliament. But Greek! It would not have been at all more startling to the usages of the house, had his lordship quoted Persic or Telinga. Still, though felt as something verging on the ridiculous, there was an indulgent feeling to a young man fresh from academic bowers, which would not have protected a mature man of the world. Everybody bit his lips, and as yet did _not_ laugh. But the final issue stood on the edge of a razor. A gas, an inflammable atmosphere, was trembling sympathetically through the whole excited audience; all depended on a match being applied to this gas whilst yet in the very act of escaping. Deepest silence still prevailed; and, had any commonplace member risen to address the house in an ordinary business key, all would have blown over. Unhappily for Lord Belgrave, in that critical moment up rose the one solitary man, to wit, Sheridan, whose look, whose voice, whose traditional character, formed a prologue to what was coming. Here let the reader understand that, throughout the "Iliad," all speeches or commands, questions or answers, are introduced by Homer under some peculiar formula. For instance, replies are usually introduced thus:


"But him answering thus addressed the sovereign Agamemnon;"


or; in sonorous Greek:


"Ton d' apameibomenos prosephe kreion Agamemnon;"


or, again, according to the circumstances:


"But him sternly surveying saluted the swift-footed Achilles;"
"Ton d'ar', upodra idon, prosephe podas okus Achilleus."


This being premised, and that every one of the audience, though pretending to no Greek, yet, from his school-boy remembrances, was as well acquainted with these _formule_ as with the scriptural formula of _Verily, verily, I say unto you, &c.;_, Sheridan, without needing to break its force by explanations, solemnly opened thus:


"Ton d' apameibomenos prosephe Sheridanios heros."

Simply to have commenced his answer in Greek would have sufficiently met the comic expectation then thrilling the house; but, when it happened that this Greek (so suitable to the occasion) was also the one sole morsel of Greek that everybody in that assembly understood, the effect, as may be supposed, was overwhelming, and wrapt the whole house in what might be called a fiery explosion of laughter. Meantime, as prizes in the matrimonial lottery, and prizes in all senses, both young ladies were soon carried off. Miss Smith, whose expectations I never happened to hear estimated, married a great West India proprietor; and Miss Watson, who (according to the popular report) would succeed to six thousand a year on her twenty-first birthday, married Lord Carbery. Miss Watson inherited also from her father something which would not generally be rated very highly, namely, a chancery lawsuit, with the East India Company for defendant. However, if the company is a potent antagonist, thus far it is an eligible one, that, in the event of losing the suit, the honorable company is solvent; and such an event, after some nine or ten years' delay, did really befall the company. The question at issue respected some docks which Colonel Watson had built for the company in some Indian port. And in the end this lawsuit, though so many years doubtful in its issue, proved very valuable to Miss Watson; I have heard (but cannot vouch for it) not less valuable than that large part of her property which had been paid over without demur upon her twenty-first birth-day. Both young ladies married happily; but in marriage they found their separation, and in that separation a shock to their daily comfort which was never replaced to either. As to Miss Smith's husband, I did not know him; but Lord Carbery was every way an estimable man; in some things worthy of admiration; and his wife never ceased to esteem and admire him. But she yearned for the society of her early friend; and this being placed out of her reach by the accidents of life, she fell early into a sort of disgust with her own advantages of wealth and station, which, promising so much, were found able to perform nothing at all in this first and last desire of her heart. A portrait of her friend hung in the drawing- room; but Lady Carbery did not willingly answer the questions that were sometimes prompted by its extraordinary loveliness. There are women to whom a female friendship is indispensable, and cannot be supplied by any companion of the other sex. That blessing, therefore, of her golden youth, turned eventually into a curse for her after-life; for I believe that, through one accident or another, they never met again after they became married women. To me, as one of those who had known and loved Miss Smith, Lady Carbery always turned the more sunny side of her nature; but to the world generally she presented a chilling and somewhat severe aspect--as to a vast illusion that rested upon pillars of mockery and frauds. Honors, beauty of the first order, wealth, and the power which follows wealth as its shadow--what could these do? what _had_ they done? In proportion as they had settled heavily upon herself, she had found them to entail a load of responsibility; and those claims upon her she had labored to fulfil conscientiously; but else they had only precipitated the rupture of such tics as had given sweetness to her life.

From the first, therefore, I had been aware, on this visit to Laxton, that Lady Carbery had changed, and was changing. She had become religious; so much I knew from my sister's letters. And, in fact, this change had been due to her intercourse with my mother. But, in reality, her premature disgust with the world would, at any rate, have made her such; and, had any mode of monastic life existed for Protestants, I believe that she would before this have entered it, supposing Lord Carbery to have consented. People generally would have stated the case most erroneously; they would have said that she was sinking into gloom under religious influences; whereas the very contrary was the truth; namely, that, having sunk into gloomy discontent with life, and its miserable performances as contrasted with its promises, she sought relief and support to her wounded feelings from religion.

But the change brought with it a difficult trial to myself. She recoiled, by natural temperament and by refinement of taste, from all modes of religious enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is a large word, and in many cases I could not go along with her; but _canting_ of all descriptions was odious to both of us alike. To cultivate religious knowledge in an intellectual way, she very well understood that she must study divinity. And she relied upon me for assisting her. Not that she made the mistake of ascribing to me any knowledge on that subject; but I could learn; and, whatsoever I _had_ learned, she knew, by experience, that I could make abundantly plain to her understanding. Wherever I did _not_ understand, I was far too sincere to dissemble that fact. Where I _did_ understand, I could enable _her_ to understand.

On the subject of theology, it was not easy indeed for anybody, man or boy, to be more ignorant than myself. My studies in that field had been none at all. Nor was this any subject for wonder, or (considering my age) for blame. In reality, to make theology into a captivating study for the young, it must be translated into controversial theology. And in what way could such a polemic interest be evoked except through political partisanship? But such partisanship connects itself naturally with the irritability of sectarianism, and but little with the majestic repose of a church such as the Romish or the Anglican, founded upon the broad basis of national majorities, and sheltered from danger, or the sense of danger, by state protection. Dissenters stand upon another footing. The Dissenter from the national church, whether in England or in France, is reminded by his own distinguishing religious opinions of the historic struggles through which those opinions have travelled. The doctrines which give to his own sect a peculiar denomination are also those which record its honorable political conflicts; so that his own connection, through his religious brotherhood, with the civil history of his country, furnishes a standing motive of pride for some acquaintance more or less with divinity; since it is by deviating painfully, conscientiously, and at some periods dangerously, from the established divinity, that his fathers have achieved their station in the great drama of the national evolution.

But, whilst I was ignorant of theology, as a direct and separate branch of study, the points are so many at which theology inosculates with philosophy, and with endless casual and random suggestions of the self- prompted reason, that inevitably from that same moment in which I began to find a motive for directing my thoughts to this new subject, I wanted not something to say that might have perplexed an antagonist, or (in default of such a vicious associate) that might have amused a friend, more especially a friend so predisposed to a high estimate of myself as Lady Carbery. Sometimes I did more than amuse her; I startled her, and I even startled myself, with distinctions that to this hour strike me as profoundly just, and as undeniably novel. Two out of many I will here repeat; and with the more confidence, that in these two I can be sure of repeating the exact thoughts; whereas, in very many other cases, it would not be so certain that they might not have been insensibly modified by cross-lights or disturbing shadows from intervening speculations.

1. Lady Carbery one day told me that she could not see any reasonable ground for what is said of Christ, and elsewhere of John the Baptist, that he opened his mission by preaching "repentance." Why "repentance"? Why then, more than at any other time? Her reason for addressing this remark to me was, that she fancied there might be some error in the translation of the Greek expression. I replied that, in my opinion, there was; and that I had myself always been irritated by the entire irrelevance of the English word, and by something very like cant, on which the whole burden of the passage is thrown. How was it any natural preparation for a vast spiritual revolution, that men should first of all acknowledge any special duty of repentance? The repentance, if any movement of that nature could intelligibly be supposed called for, should more naturally _follow_ this great revolution--which, as yet, both in its principle and in its purpose, was altogether mysterious--than herald it, or ground it. In my opinion, the Greek word _metanoia_ concealed a most profound meaning--a meaning of prodigious compass--which bore no allusion to any ideas whatever of repentance. The _meta_ carried with it an emphatic expression of its original idea--the idea of transfer, of translation, of transformation; or, if we prefer a Grecian to a Roman apparelling, the idea of a _metamorphosis_. And this idea, to what is it applied? Upon what object is this idea of spiritual transfiguration made to bear? Simply upon the _noetic_ or intellectual faculty--the faculty of shaping and conceiving things under their true relations. The holy herald of Christ, and Christ himself the finisher of prophecy, made proclamation alike of the same mysterious summons, as a baptism or rite of initiation; namely, _Metanoei_. Henceforth transfigure your theory of moral truth; the old theory is laid aside as infinitely insufficient; a new and spiritual revelation is established. _Metanoeite_--contemplate moral truth as radiating from a new centre; apprehend it under transfigured relations.

John the Baptist, like other earlier prophets, delivered a message which, probably enough, he did not himself more than dimly understand, and never in its full compass of meaning. Christ occupied another station. Not only was he the original Interpreter, but he was himself the Author--Founder, at once, and Finisher--of that great transfiguration applied to ethics, which he and the Baptist alike announced as forming the code for the new and revolutionary era now opening its endless career. The human race was summoned to bring a transfiguring sense and spirit of interpretation (_metanoia_) to a transfigured ethics--an altered organ to an altered object. This is by far the grandest miracle recorded in Scripture. No exhibition of blank power--not the arresting of the earth's motion--not the calling back of the dead unto life, can approach in grandeur to this miracle which we all daily behold; namely, the inconceivable mystery of having written and sculptured upon the tablets of man's heart a new code of moral distinctions, all modifying--many reversing--the old ones. What would have been thought of any prophet, if he should have promised to transfigure the celestial mechanics; if he had said, I will create a new pole-star, a new zodiac, and new laws of gravitation; briefly, I will make new earth and new heavens? And yet a thousand times more awful it was to undertake the writing of new laws upon the spiritual conscience of man. _Metanoeite_ (was the cry from the wilderness), wheel into a new centre your moral system; _geocentric_ has that system been up to this hour--that is, having earth and the earthly for its starting-point; henceforward make it _heliocentric_ (that is, with the sun, or the heavenly for its principle of motion).

2. A second remark of mine was, perhaps, not more important, but it was, on the whole, better calculated to startle the prevailing preconceptions; for, as to the new system of morals introduced by Christ, generally speaking, it is too dimly apprehended in its great differential features to allow of its miraculous character being adequately appreciated; one flagrant illustration of which is furnished by our experience in Affghanistan, where some officers, wishing to impress Akhbar Khan with the beauty of Christianity, very judiciously repeated to him the Lord's Prayer and the Sermon on the Mount, by both of which the Khan was profoundly affected, and often recurred to them; but others, under the notion of conveying to him a more _comprehensive_ view of the Scriptural ethics, repeated to him the Ten Commandments; although, with the sole exception of the two first, forbidding idolatry and Polytheism, there is no word in these which could have displeased or surprised a Pagan, and therefore nothing characteristic of Christianity. Meantime my second remark was substantially this which follows: What is a religion? To Christians it means, over and above a mode of worship, a dogmatic (that is, a doctrinal) system; a great body of doctrinal truths, moral and spiritual. But to the ancients (to the Greeks and Romans, for instance), it meant nothing of the kind. A religion was simply a _cultus_, a _threskeia_, a mode of ritual worship, in which there might be two differences, namely: 1. As to the particular deity who furnished the motive to the worship; 2. As to the ceremonial, or mode of conducting the worship. But in no case was there so much as a pretence of communicating any religious truths, far less any moral truths. The obstinate error rooted in modern minds is, that, doubtless, the moral instruction was bad, as being heathen; but that still it was as good as heathen opportunities allowed it to be. No mistake can be greater. Moral instruction had no existence even in the plan or intention of the religious service. The Pagan priest or flamen never dreamed of any function like that of _teaching_ as in any way connected with his office. He no more undertook to teach morals than to teach geography or cookery. He taught nothing. What he undertook was, simply to _do_: namely, to present authoritatively (that is, authorized and supported by some civil community, Corinth, or Athens, or Rome, which he represented) the homage and gratitude of that community to the particular deity adored. As to morals or just opinions upon the relations to man of the several divinities, all this was resigned to the teaching of nature; and for any polemic functions the teaching was resigned to the professional philosophers--academic, peripatetic, stoic, etc. By religion it was utterly ignored.

The reader must do me the favor to fix his attention upon the real question at issue. What I say--what then I said to Lady Carbery--is this: that, by failing to notice as a _differential_ feature of Christianity this involution of a doctrinal part, we elevate Paganism to a dignity which it never dreamed of. Thus, for instance, in the Eleusinian mysteries, what was the main business transacted? I, for my part, in harmony with my universal theory on this subject,--namely, that there could be no doctrinal truth delivered in a Pagan religion,-- have always maintained that the only end and purpose of the mysteries was a more solemn and impressive worship of a particular goddess. Warburton, on the other hand, would insist upon it that some great affirmative doctrines, interesting to man, such as the immortality of the soul, a futurity of retribution, &c.;, might be here commemorated. And now, nearly a hundred years after Warburton, what is the opinion of scholars upon this point? Two of the latest and profoundest I will cite:--1. Lobeck, in his "Aglaophamus," expressly repels all such notions; 2. Otfried Mueller, in the twelfth chapter, twenty-fourth section, of his "Introduction to a System of Mythology," says: "I have here gone on the assumption which I consider unavoidable, that there was no regular instruction, no dogmatical communication, connected with the Grecian worship in general. _There could be nothing_ of the kind introduced into the public service from the way in which it was conducted, for the priest _did not address the people at all_." These opinions, which exactly tallied with my own assertion to Lady Carbery, that all religion amongst the Pagans resolved itself into a mere system of ceremonial worship, a pompous and elaborate _cultus_, were not brought forward in Germany until about ten or twelve years ago; whereas, my doctrine was expressly insisted on in 1800; that is, forty years earlier than any of these German writers had turned their thoughts in that direction.

Had I, then, really all that originality on this subject which for many years I secretly claimed? Substantially I had, because this great distinction between the modern (or Christian) idea of "a religion" and the ancient (or Pagan) idea of "a religion," I had nowhere openly seen expressed in words. To myself exclusively I was indebted for it. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that this conception must have been long ago germinating in the world, and perhaps bearing fruit. This is past all denial, since, about thirteen or fourteen years ago, I read in some journal (a French journal, I think) this statement: namely, that some oriental people--Turks, according to my present impression, but it might have been Arabs--make an old traditional distinction (so said the French journal) between what they call "religions of the book" and all other religions. The religions of the book, according to them, are three, all equally founded upon written and producible documents, namely: first, the Judaic system, resting upon the Pentateuch, or more truly, I should imagine, upon the Law and the Prophets; secondly, the Christian system, resting upon the Old and New Testaments; thirdly, the Mahometan system, resting confessedly upon the Koran. The very meaning, therefore, of styling these systems, by way of honorable distinction, _religions of the book_, is, not that accidentally they had written vouchers for their creed, whereas the others had only oral vouchers, but that they severally offer to men's acceptance a large body of philosophic truth, such as requires and presupposes a book. Whereas the various religions contradistinguished from these three-- namely, the whole body of Pagan idolatries--are mere forms of adoration addressed to many different divinities; and the brief reason why they are essentially opposed to religions of the book is, not that they _have_ not, but logically that they _cannot_ have, books or documents, inasmuch as they have no truths to deliver. They do not profess to teach anything whatsoever. What they profess, as their justifying distinction, is, to adore a certain deity, or a certain collective Pantheon, according to certain old authorized forms-- authorized, that is to say, by fixed, ancient, and oftentimes local traditions.

What was the great practical inference from the new distinction which I offered? It was this: that Christianity (which included Judaism as its own germinal principle, and Islamism as its own adaptation to a barbarous and imperfect civilization) carried along with itself its own authentication; since, whilst other religions introduced men simply to ceremonies and usages, which could furnish no aliment or material for their intellect, Christianity provided an eternal _palestra_ or place of exercise for the human understanding vitalized by human affections: for every problem whatever, interesting to the human intellect, provided only that it bears a _moral_ aspect, immediately passes into the field of religious speculation. Religion had thus become the great organ of human culture. Lady Carbery advanced half-way to meet me in these new views, finding my credentials as a theologian in my earnestness and my sincerity. She herself was painfully and sorrowfully in earnest. She had come at this early age of seven or eight and twenty, to the most bitter sense of hollowness, and (in a philosophic sense) of _treachery_ as under-lying all things that stood round her; and she sought escape, if escape there were, through religion. Religion was to be sought in the Bible. But was the Bible intelligible at the first glance? Far from it. Search the Scriptures, was the cry in Protestant lands amongst all people, however much at war with each other. But I often told her that this was a vain pretence, without some knowledge of Greek. Or perhaps not always and absolutely a pretence; because, undoubtedly, it is true that oftentimes mere ignorant simplicity may, by bringing into direct collision passages that are reciprocally illustrative, restrain an error or illuminate a truth. And a reason, which I have since given in print (a reason additional to Bentley's), for neglecting the thirty thousand various readings collected by the diligence of the New Testament collators, applied also to this case, namely: That, first, the transcendent nature, and, secondly, the _recurrent_ nature, of Scriptural truths cause them to surmount verbal disturbances. A doctrine, for instance, which is sowed broadcast over the Scriptures, and recurs, on an average, three times in every chapter, cannot be affected by the casual inaccuracy of a phrase, since the phrase is continually varied. And, therefore, I would not deny the possibility of an effectual searching by very unlearned persons. Our authorized translators of the Bible in the Shakspearian age were not in any exquisite sense learned men; they were very able men, and in a better sense able than if they had been philologically profound scholars, which at that time, from the imperfect culture of philology, they could not easily have been; men they were whom religious feeling guided correctly in choosing their expressions, and with whom the state of the language in some respects cooperated, by furnishing a diction more homely, fervent, and pathetic, than would now be available. For their apostolic functions English was the language most in demand. But in polemic or controversial cases Greek is indispensable. And of this Lady Carbery was sufficiently convinced by my own demur on the word _metanoia_. If I were right, how profoundly wrong must those have been whom my new explanation superseded. She resolved, therefore, immediately on my suggesting it, that she would learn Greek; or, at least, that limited form of Greek which was required for the New Testament. In the language of Terence, dictum factum--no sooner said than done. On the very next morning we all rode in to Stamford, our nearest town for such a purpose, and astounded the bookseller's apprentice by ordering four copies of the Clarendon Press Greek Testament, three copies of Parkhurst's Greek and English Lexicon, and three copies of some grammar, but what I have now forgotten. The books were to come down by the mail-coach without delay. Consequently, we were soon at work. Lady Massey and my sister, not being sustained by the same interest as Lady Carbery, eventually relaxed in their attention. But Lady Carbery was quite in earnest, and very soon became expert in the original language of the New Testament.

I wished much that she should have gone on to the study of Herodotus. And I described to her the situation of the vivacious and mercurial Athenian, in the early period of Pericles, as repeating in its main features, for the great advantage of that Grecian Froissart, the situation of Adam during his earliest hours in Paradise, himself being the describer to the affable archangel. The same genial climate there was; the same luxuriation of nature in her early prime; the same ignorance of his own origin in the tenant of this lovely scenery; and the same eager desire to learn it.


[Footnote:
"About me round I saw
Hill, dale, and shady woods, and sunny plains,
And liquid lapse of murmuring streams; by these
Creatures that lived and moved, and walked or flew;
Birds on the branches warbling; all things smiled;
With fragrance and with joy my heart o'erflowed.
Myself I then perused, and limb by limb
Surveyed, and sometimes went, and sometimes ran
With supple joints, as lively vigor led;
_But who I was or where, or from what cause_,
Knew not."--_Paradise Lost_, Book viii.


The _who_, the _where_ (in any extended sense, that is, as regarded the _external_ relations of his own country), and the _from what cause_--all these were precisely what the Grecian did _not_ know, and first learned from Herodotus.
]


The very truth, and mere facts of history, reaching Herodotus through such a haze of remote abstraction, and suffering a sort of refraction at each translation from atmosphere to atmosphere, whilst continually the uninteresting parts dropped away as the whole moved onwards, unavoidably assumed the attractions of romance. And thus it has happened that the air of marvellousness, which seems connected with the choice and preferences of Herodotus, is in reality the natural gift of his position. Culling from a field of many nations and many generations, reasonably he preferred such narratives as, though possible enough, wore the coloring of romance. Without any violation of the truth, the mere extent of his field as to space and time gave him great advantages for the wild and the marvellous. Meantime, this purpose of ours with regard to Herodotus was defeated. Whilst we were making preparations for it, suddenly one morning from his Limerick estate of Carass returned Lord Carbery. And, by accident, his welcome was a rough one; for, happening to find Lady Carbery in the breakfast-room, and naturally throwing his arm about her neck to kiss her, "Ruffian," a monster of a Newfoundland dog, singularly beautiful in his coloring, and almost as powerful as a leopard, flew at him vindictively as at a stranger committing an assault, and his mistress had great difficulty in calling him off. Lord Carbery smiled a little at our Greek studies; and, in turn, made us smile, who knew the original object of these studies, when he suggested mildly that three or four books of the "Iliad" would have been as easily mastered, and might have more fully rewarded our trouble. I contented myself with replying (for I knew how little Lady Carbery would have liked to plead the _religious_ motive to her husband), that Parkhurst (and there was at that time no other Greek- _English_ Lexicon) would not have been available for Homer; neither, it is true, would he have been available for Herodotus. But, considering the simplicity and uniformity of style in both these authors, I had formed a plan (not very hard of execution) for interleaving Parkhurst with such additional words as might have been easily mustered from the special dictionaries (Greco-Latin) dedicated separately to the service of the historian and of the poet. I do not believe that more than fifteen hundred _extra_ words would have been required; and these, entered at the rate of twenty per hour, would have occupied only ten days, for seven and a half hours each. However, from one cause or other, this plan was never brought to bear. The preliminary labor upon the lexicon always enforced a delay; and any delay, in such case, makes an opening for the irruption of a thousand unforeseen hindrances, that finally cause the whole plan to droop insensibly. The time came at last for leaving Laxton, and I did not see Lady Carbery again for nearly an entire year.

In passing through the park-gates of Laxton, on my departure northward, powerfully, and as if "with the might of waters," my mind turned round to contemplate that strange enlargement of my experience which had happened to me within the last three months. I had seen, and become familiarly acquainted with, a young man, who had in a manner died to every object around him, had died an intellectual death, and suddenly had been called back to life and real happiness--had been, in effect, raised from the dead--by the accident of meeting a congenial female companion. But, secondly, that very lady from whose lips I first heard this remarkable case of blight and restoration, had herself passed through an equal though not a similar blight, and was now seeking earnestly, though with what success I could never estimate, some similar restoration to some new mode of hopeful existence, through intercourse with religious philosophy. What vast revolutions (vast for the individual) within how narrow a circle! What blindness to approaching catastrophes, in the midst of what nearness to the light! And for myself, whom accident had made the silent observer of these changes, was it not likely enough that I also was rushing forward to court and woo some frantic mode of evading an endurance that by patience might have been borne, or by thoughtfulness might have been disarmed? Misgivingly I went forwards, feeling forever that, through clouds of thick darkness, I was continually nearing a danger, or was myself perhaps wilfully provoking a trial, before which my constitutional despondency would cause me to lie down without a struggle.

II. THE PRIORY.


To teach is to learn: according to an old experience, it is the very best mode of learning--the surest, and the shortest. And hence, perhaps, it may be, that in the middle ages by the monkish word _scholaris_ was meant indifferently he that learned and he that taught. Never in any equal number of months had my understanding so much expanded as during this visit to Laxton. The incessant demand made upon me by Lady Carbery for solutions of the many difficulties besetting the study of divinity and the Greek Testament, or for such approximations to solutions as my resources would furnish, forced me into a preternatural tension of all the faculties applicable to that purpose. Lady Carbery insisted upon calling me her "Admirable Crichton;" and it was in vain that I demurred to this honorary title upon two grounds: first, as being one towards which I had no natural aptitudes or predisposing advantages; secondly (which made her stare), as carrying with it no real or enviable distinction. The splendor supposed to be connected with the attainments of Crichton I protested against, as altogether imaginary. How far that person really had the accomplishments ascribed to him, I waived as a question not worth investigating. My objection commenced at an earlier point: real or not real, the accomplishments were, as I insisted, vulgar and trivial. Vulgar, that is, when put forward as exponents or adequate expressions of intellectual grandeur. The whole rested on a misconception; the limitary idea of knowledge was confounded with the infinite idea of power. To have a quickness in copying or mimicking other men, and in learning to do dexterously what _they_ did clumsily,--ostentatiously to keep glittering before men's eyes a thaumaturgic versatility such as that of a rope-dancer, or of an Indian juggler, in petty accomplishments,--was a mode of the very vulgarest ambition: one effort of productive power,--a little book, for instance, which should impress or should agitate several successive generations of men, even though far below the higher efforts of human creative art--as, for example, the "De Imitatione Christi," or "The Pilgrim's Progress," or" Robinson Crusoe," or "The Vicar of Wakefield,"--was worth any conceivable amount of attainments when rated as an evidence of anything that could justly denominate a man "admirable." One felicitous ballad of forty lines might have enthroned Crichton as really admirable, whilst the pretensions actually put forward on his behalf simply install him as a cleverish or dexterous ape. However, as Lady Carbery did not forego her purpose of causing me to shine under every angle, it would have been ungrateful in me to refuse my cooperation with her plans, however little they might wear a face of promise. Accordingly I surrendered myself for two hours daily to the lessons in horsemanship of a principal groom who ranked as a first-rate rough-rider; and I gathered manifold experiences amongst the horses--so different from the wild, hard-mouthed horses at Westport, that were often vicious, and sometimes trained to vice. Here, though spirited, the horses were pretty generally gentle, and all had been regularly broke. My education was not entirely neglected even as regarded sportsmanship; that great branch of philosophy being confided to one of the keepers, who was very attentive to me, in deference to the interest in myself expressed by his idolized mistress, but otherwise regarded me probably as an object of mysterious curiosity rather than of sublunary hope.

Equally, in fact, as regarded my physics and my metaphysics,--in short, upon all lines of advance that interested my ambition,--I was going rapidly ahead. And, speaking seriously, in what regarded my intellectual expansion, never before or since had I been so distinctly made aware of it. No longer did it seem to move upon the hour-hand, whose advance, though certain, is yet a pure matter of inference, but upon the seconds'-hand, which _visibly_ comes on at a trotting pace. Everything prospered, except my own present happiness, and the possibility of any happiness for some years to come. About two months after leaving Laxton, my fate in the worst shape I had anticipated was solemnly and definitively settled. My guardians agreed that the most prudent course, with a view to my pecuniary interests, was to place me at the Manchester Grammar School; not with a view to further improvement in my classical knowledge, though the head-master was a sound scholar, but simply with a view to one of the school _exhibitions_.


[Footnote: "_Exhibitions_."--This is the technical name in many cases, corresponding to the _burse_ or _bursaries_ of the continent; from which word burse is derived, I believe, the German term _Bursch_,--that is, a bursarius, or student, who lives at college upon the salary allowed by such a bursary. Some years ago the editor of a Glasgow daily paper called upon Oxford and Cambridge, with a patronizing flourish, to imitate some one or more of the Scottish universities in founding such systems of aliment for poor students otherwise excluded from academic advantages. Evidently he was unaware that they had existed for centuries before the state of civilization in Scotland had allowed any opening for the foundation of colleges or academic life. Scottish bursaries, or exhibitions (a term which Shakspeare uses, very near the close of the first act in the "Two Gentlemen of Verona," as the technical expression in England), were few, and not generally, I believe, exceeding ten pounds a-year. The English were many, and of more ancient standing, and running from forty pounds to one hundred pounds a-year. Such was the simple difference between the two countries: otherwise they agreed altogether.]


Amongst the countless establishments, scattered all over England by the noble munificence of English men and English women in past generations, for connecting the provincial towns with the two royal universities of the land, this Manchester school was one; in addition to other great local advantages (namely, _inter alia_, a fine old library and an ecclesiastical foundation, which in this present generation has furnished the materials for a bishopric of Manchester, with its deanery and chapter), this noble foundation secured a number of exhibitions at Brasenose College, Oxford, to those pupils of the school who should study at Manchester for three consecutive years. The pecuniary amount of these exhibitions has since then increased considerably through the accumulation of funds, which the commercial character of that great city had caused to be neglected. At that time, I believe each exhibition yielded about forty guineas a- year, and was legally tenable for seven successive years. Now, to me this would have offered a most seasonable advantage, had it been resorted to some two years earlier. My small patrimonial inheritance gave to me, as it did to each of my four brothers, exactly one hundred and fifty pounds a-year: and to each of my sisters exactly one hundred pounds a-year. The Manchester exhibition of forty guineas a-year would have raised this income for seven years to a sum close upon two hundred pounds a-year. But at present I was half-way on the road to the completion of my sixteenth year. Commencing my period of pupilage from that time, I should not have finished it until I had travelled half-way through my nineteenth year. And the specific evil that already weighed upon me with a sickening oppression was the premature expansion of my mind; and, as a foremost consequence, intolerance of boyish society. I ought to have entered upon my _triennium_ of school-boy servitude at the age of thirteen. As things were,--a delay with which I had nothing to do myself,--this and the native character of my mind had thrown the whole arrangement awry. For the better half of the three years I endured it patiently. But it had at length begun to eat more corrosively into my peace of mind than ever I had anticipated. The head-master was substantially superannuated for the duties of his place. Not that intellectually he showed any symptoms of decay: but in the spirits and physical energies requisite for his duties he did: not so much age, as disease, it was that incapacitated him. In the course of a long day, beginning at seven A. M. and stretching down to five P. M., he succeeded in reaching the further end of his duties. But how? Simply by consolidating pretty nearly into one continuous scene of labor the entire ten hours. The full hour of relaxation which the traditions of this ancient school and the by-laws had consecrated to breakfast was narrowed into ten, or even seven minutes. The two hours' interval, in like manner prescribed by the old usages from twelve to two P. M., was pared down to forty minutes, or less. In this way he walked conscientiously through the services of the day, fulfilling to the letter every section the minutest of the traditional rubric. But he purchased this consummation at the price of all comfort to himself: and, having done _that_, he felt himself the more entitled to neglect the comfort of others. The case was singular: he neither showed any indulgence to himself more than to others (which, however, could do nothing towards indemnifying others for the severe confinement which his physical decay inflicted upon them--a point wholly forgotten by him); nor, secondly, in thus tenaciously holding on to his place did he (I am satisfied) govern himself by any mercenary thought or wish, but simply by an austere sense of duty. He discharged his public functions with constant fidelity, and with superfluity of learning; and felt, perhaps not unreasonably, that possibly the same learning united with the same zeal might not revolve as a matter of course in the event of his resigning the place. I hide from myself no part of the honorable motives which might (and probably _did_) exclusively govern him in adhering to the place. But not by one atom the less did the grievous results of his inability to grapple with his duties weigh upon all within his sphere, and upon myself, by cutting up the time available for exercise, most ruinously.

Precisely at the worst crisis of this intolerable darkness (for such, without exaggeration, it was in its effects upon my spirits) arose, and for five or six months steadily continued, a consolation of that nature which hardly in dreams I could have anticipated. For even in dreams would it have seemed reasonable, or natural, that Laxton, with its entire society, should transfer itself to Manchester? Some mighty caliph, or lamp-bearing Aladdin, might have worked such marvels: but else who, or by what machinery? Nevertheless, without either caliph or Aladdin, and by the most natural of mere human agencies, this change was suddenly accomplished.

Mr. White, whom I have already had occasion to mention elsewhere, was in those days the most eminent surgeon by much in the north of England. He had by one whole generation run before the phrenologists and craniologists,--having already measured innumerable skulls amongst the omnigenous seafaring population of Liverpool, illustrating all the races of men,--and was in society a most urbane and pleasant companion. On my mother's suggestion, he had been summoned to Laxton, in the hope that he might mitigate the torments of Mrs. Schreiber's malady. If I am right in supposing that to have been cancer, I presume that he could not have added much to the prescriptions of the local doctor. And yet, on the other hand, it is a fact--so slowly did new views travel in those days, when scientific journals were few, and roads were heavy-- that ten years later than this period I knew a case, namely, the case of a butcher's wife in Somersetshire who had never enjoyed the benefit of hemlock in relieving the pangs of a cancerous complaint, until an accident brought Mr. Hey, son to the celebrated Hey of Leeds, into the poor woman's neighborhood.

What might be the quality or the extent of that relief with which Mr. White was able to crown the expectations of poor Mrs. Schreiber, I do not know; but that the relief could not have been imaginary is certain, for he was earnestly invited to repeat his visits, costly as unavoidably they were. Mrs. Schreiber did not reside at Laxton. Tenderly as she loved Lady Carbery, it did not seem consistent with her dignity that she should take a station that might have been grossly misinterpreted; and accordingly she bought or hired a miniature kind of villa, called _Tixover_, distant about four miles from Laxton. A residence in such a house, so sad and silent at this period of affliction for its mistress, would have offered too cheerless a life to Mr. White. He took up his abode, therefore, at Laxton during his earliest visit; and this happened to coincide with that particular visit of my own during which I was initiating Lady Carbery into the mysteries of New Testament Greek. Already as an infant I had known Mr. White; but now, when daily riding over to Tixover in company, and daily meeting at breakfast and dinner, we became intimate. Greatly I profited by this intimacy; and some part of my pleasure in the Laxton plan of migration to Manchester was drawn from the prospect of renewing it. Such a migration was suggested by Mr. White himself; and fortunately he _could_ suggest it without even the appearance of any mercenary views. His interest lay the other way. The large special retainer, which it was felt but reasonable to pay him under circumstances so peculiar, naturally disturbed Mr. White; whilst the benefits of visits so discontinuous became more and more doubtful. He proposed it, therefore, as a measure of prudence, that Mrs. Schreiber should take up her abode in Manchester. This counsel was adopted; and the entire Laxton party in one week struck their Northamptonshire tents, dived, as it were, into momentary darkness, by a loitering journey of stages, short and few, out of consideration for the invalid, and rose again in the gloomy streets of Manchester.

Gloomy they were at that time--mud below, smoke above--for no torch of improvement had yet explored the ancient habitations of this Lancashire capital. Elsewhere I have expressed the inexhaustible admiration which I cherish for the _moral_ qualities, the unrivalled energy and perseverance, of that native Lancashire population, as yet not much alloyed with Celtic adulteration. My feelings towards them are the same as were eloquently and impressively avowed by the late eminent Dr. Cooke Taylor, after an _official_ inquiry into their situation. But in those days the Manchester people realized the aspiration of the noble Scythian; not the place it was that glorified _them_, but they that glorified the place. No great city (which technically it then was not, but simply a town or large village) could present so repulsive an exterior as the Manchester of that day. Lodgings of _any_ sort could with difficulty be obtained, and at last only by breaking up the party. The poor suffering lady, with her two friends, Lady Carbery and my mother, hired one house, Lord and Lady Massey another, and two others were occupied by attendants--all the servants, except one lady's-maid, being every night separated by a quarter of a mile from their mistresses. To me, however, all these discomforts were scarcely apparent in the prodigious revolution for the better which was now impressed upon the tenor of my daily life. I lived in the house of the head-master; but every night I had leave to adjourn for four or five hours to the drawing-room of Lady Carbery. Her anxiety about Mrs. Schreiber would not allow of her going abroad into society, unless upon the rarest occasions. And I, on my part, was too happy in her conversation--so bold, so novel, and so earnest--voluntarily to have missed any one hour of it.

Here, by the way, let me mention that on this occasion arose a case of pretended "_tuft-hunting_," which I, who stood by a silent observer, could not but feel to involve a malicious calumny. Naturally it happened that coroneted carriages, superb horses, and numerous servants, in a town so unostentatious and homely as the Manchester of that day, drew the public gaze, and effectually advertised the visit of the Laxton ladies. Respect for the motive which had prompted this visit cooperated with admiration for the distinguished personal qualities of Lady Carbery, to draw upon her from several leading families in the town such little services and attentions as pass naturally, under a spontaneous law of courtesy, between those who are at home and those who suffer under the disadvantages of _strangership_. The Manchester people, who made friendly advances to Lady Carbery, did so, I am persuaded, with no ulterior objects whatsoever of pressing into the circle of an aristocratic person; neither did Lady Carbery herself interpret their attentions in any such ungenerous spirit, but accepted them cordially, as those expressions of disinterested goodness which I am persuaded that in reality they were. Amongst the families that were thus attentive to her, in throwing open for her use various local advantages of baths, libraries, picture-galleries, etc., were the wife and daughters of Mr. White himself. Now, one of these daughters was herself the wife of a baronet, Sir Richard Clayton, who had honorably distinguished himself in literature by translating and _improving_ the work of Tenhove the Dutchman (or Belgian?) upon the house of the _De' Medici_--a work which Mr. Roscoe considered "the most engaging work that has, perhaps, ever appeared on a subject of literary history." Introduced as Lady Clayton had been amongst the elite of our aristocracy, it could not be supposed that she would be at all solicitous about an introduction to the wife of an Irish nobleman, simply _as_ such, and apart from her personal endowments. Those endowments, it is true,--namely, the beauty and the talents of Lady Carbery, made known in Manchester through Mr. White's report of them, and combined with the knowledge of her generous devotion to her dying friend, secluding her steadily from all society through a period of very many months,--did, and reasonably might, interest many Manchester people on her behalf. In all this there was nothing to be ashamed of; and, judging from what personally I witnessed, this seems to have been the true nature and extent of the "tuft-hunting;" and I have noticed it at all simply because there is a habit almost national growing up amongst us of imputing to each other some mode of unmanly prostration before the aristocracy, but with as little foundation for the charge generally, I believe, as I am satisfied there was in this particular instance.

Mr. White possessed a museum--formed chiefly by himself, and originally, perhaps, directed simply to professional objects, such as would have little chance for engaging the attention of females. But surgeons and speculative physicians, beyond all other classes of intellectual men, cultivate the most enlarged and liberal curiosity; so that Mr. White's museum furnished attractions to an unusually large variety of tastes. I had myself already seen it; and it struck me that Mr. White would be gratified if Lady Carbery would herself ask to see it; which accordingly she did; and thus at once removed the painful feeling that he might be extorting from her an expression of interest in his collection which she did not really feel.

Amongst the objects which gave a scientific interest to the collection, naturally I have forgotten one and all--first, midst, and last; for this is one of the cases in which we all felicitate ourselves upon the art and gift of forgetting; that art which the great Athenian


[Footnote: "The great Athenian"--Themistocles.]


noticed as amongst the _desiderata_ of human life--that gift which, if in some rare cases it belongs only to the regal prerogatives of the grave, fortunately in many thousands of other cases is accorded by the treachery of a human brain. Heavens! what a curse it were, if every chaos, which is stamped upon the mind by fairs such as that London fair of St. Bartholomew in years long past, or by the records of battles and skirmishes through the monotonous pages of history, or by the catalogues of libraries stretching over a dozen measured miles, could not be erased, but arrayed itself in endless files incapable of obliteration, as often as the eyes of our human memory happened to throw back their gaze in that direction! Heaven be praised, I have forgotten everything; all the earthly trophies of skill or curious research; even the erolithes, that might possibly _not_ be earthly, but presents from some superior planet. Nothing survives, except the _humanities_ of the collection; and amongst these, two only I will molest the reader by noticing. One of the two was a _mummy;_ the other was a _skeleton_. I, that had previously seen the museum, warned Lady Carbery of both; but much it mortified us that only the skeleton was shown. Perhaps the mummy was too closely connected with the personal history of Mr. White for exhibition to strangers; it was that of a lady who had been attended medically for some years by Mr. White, and had owed much alleviation of her sufferings to his inventive skill. She had, therefore, felt herself called upon to memorialize her gratitude by a very large bequest--not less (I have heard) than twenty-five thousand pounds; but with this condition annexed to the gift--that she should be embalmed as perfectly as the resources in that art of London and Paris could accomplish, and that once a year Mr. White, accompanied by two witnesses of credit, should withdraw the veil from her face. The lady was placed in a common English clock-case, having the usual glass face; but a veil of white velvet obscured from all profane eyes the silent features behind. The clock I had myself seen, when a child, and had gazed upon it with inexpressible awe. But, naturally, on my report of the case, the whole of our party were devoured by a curiosity to see the departed fair one. Had Mr. White, indeed, furnished us with the key of the museum, leaving us to our own discretion, but restricting us only (like a cruel Bluebeard) from looking into any ante-room, great is my fear that the perfidious question would have arisen amongst us--what o'clock it was? and all possible ante-rooms would have given way to the just fury of our passions. I submitted to Lady Carbery, as a liberty which might be excused by the torrid extremity of our thirst after knowledge, that she (as our leader) should throw out some angling question moving in the line of our desires; upon which hint Mr. White, if he had any touch of indulgence to human infirmity--unless Mount Caucasus were his mother, and a she-wolf his nurse--would surely relent, and act as his conscience must suggest. But Lady Carbery reminded me of the three Calendars in the "Arabian Nights," and argued that, as the ladies of Bagdad were justified in calling upon a body of porters to kick those gentlemen into the street, being people who had abused the indulgences of hospitality, much more might Mr. White do so with us; for the Calendars were the children of kings (Shahzades), which we were not; and had found their curiosity far more furiously irritated; in fact, Zobeide had no right to trifle with any man's curiosity in that ferocious extent; and a counter right arose, as any chancery of human nature would have ruled, to demand a solution of what had been so maliciously arranged towards an anguish of insupportable temptation. Thus, however, it happened that the mummy, who left such valuable legacies, and founded such bilious fevers of curiosity, was not seen by us; nor even the miserable clock-case.

The mummy, therefore, was not seen; but the skeleton was. Who was he? It is not every day that one makes the acquaintance of a skeleton; and with regard to such a thing--thing, shall one say, or person?--there is a favorable presumption from beforehand; which is this: As he is of no use, neither profitable nor ornamental to any person whatever, absolutely _de trop_ in good society, what but distinguished merit of some kind or other could induce any man to interfere with that gravitating tendency that by an eternal _nisus_ is pulling him below ground? Lodgings are dear in England. True it is that, according to the vile usage on the continent, one room serves a skeleton for bed- room and sitting-room; neither is his expense heavy, as regards wax- lights, fire, or "bif-steck." But still, even a skeleton is chargeable; and, if any dispute should arise about his maintenance, the parish will do nothing. Mr. White's skeleton, therefore, being costly, was presumably meritorious, before we had seen him or heard a word in his behalf. It was, in fact, the skeleton of an eminent robber, or perhaps of a murderer. But I, for my part, reserved a faint right of suspense. And as to the profession of robber in those days exercised on the roads of England, it was a liberal profession, which required more accomplishments than either the bar or the pulpit: from the beginning it presumed a most bountiful endowment of heroic qualifications-- strength, health, agility, and exquisite horsemanship, intrepidity of the first order, presence of mind, courtesy, and a general ambidexterity of powers for facing all accidents, and for turning to a good account all unlooked-for contingencies. The finest men in England, physically speaking, throughout the eighteenth century, the very noblest specimens of man considered as an animal, were beyond a doubt the mounted robbers who cultivated their profession on the great leading roads, namely, on the road from London to York (technically known as "the great north road"); on the road west to Bath, and thence to Exeter and Plymouth; north-westwards from London to Oxford, and thence to Chester; eastwards to Tunbridge; southwards by east to Dover; then inclining westwards to Portsmouth; more so still, through Salisbury to Dorsetshire and Wilts. These great roads were farmed out as so many Roman provinces amongst pro-consuls. Yes, but with a difference, you will say, in respect of moral principles. Certainly with a difference; for the English highwayman had a sort of conscience for gala-days, which could not often be said of the Roman governor or procurator. At this moment we see that the opening for the forger of bank-notes is brilliant; but practically it languishes, as being too brilliant; it demands an array of talent for engraving, etc., which, wherever it exists, is sufficient to carry a man forward upon principles reputed honorable. Why, then, should _he_ court danger and disreputability? But in that century the special talents which led to distinction upon the high road had oftentimes no career open to them elsewhere. The mounted robber on the highways of England, in an age when all gentlemen travelled with fire-arms, lived in an element of danger and adventurous gallantry; which, even from those who could least allow him any portion of their esteem, extorted sometimes a good deal of their unwilling admiration. By the necessities of the case, he brought into his perilous profession some brilliant qualities-- intrepidity, address, promptitude of decision; and, if to these he added courtesy, and a spirit (native or adopted) of forbearing generosity, he seemed almost a man that merited public encouragement; since very plausibly it might be argued that his profession was sure to exist; that, if he were removed, a successor would inevitably arise, and that successor might or might _not_ carry the same liberal and humanizing temper into his practice. The man whose skeleton was now before us had ranked amongst the most chivalrous of his order, and was regarded by some people as vindicating the national honor in a point where not very long before it had suffered a transient eclipse. In the preceding generation, it had been felt as throwing a shade of disgrace over the public honor, that the championship of England upon the high road fell for a time into French hands; upon French prowess rested the burden of English honor, or, in Gallic phrase, of English _glory_. Claude Duval, a French man of undeniable courage, handsome, and noted for his chivalrous devotion to women, had been honored, on his condemnation to the gallows, by the tears of many ladies who attended his trial, and by their sympathizing visits during his imprisonment. But the robber represented by the skeleton in Mr. White's museum (whom let us call X, since his true name has perished) added to the same heroic qualities a person far more superb. Still it was a dreadful drawback from his pretensions, if he had really practised as a murderer. Upon what ground did that suspicion arise? In candor (for candor is due even to a skeleton) it ought to be mentioned that the charge, if it amounted to so much, arose with a lady from some part of Cheshire--the district of Knutsford, I believe;--but, wherever it was, in the same district, during the latter part of his career, had resided our X. At first he was not suspected even as a robber--as yet not so much as suspected of being suspicious; in a simple rustic neighborhood, amongst good-natured peasants, for a long time he was regarded with simple curiosity, rather than suspicion; and even the curiosity pointed to his horse more than to himself. The robber had made himself popular amongst the kind-hearted rustics by his general courtesy. Courtesy and the spirit of neighborliness go a great way amongst country people; and the worst construction of the case was, that he might be an embarrassed gentleman from Manchester or Liverpool, hiding himself from his creditors, who are notoriously a very immoral class of people. At length, however, a violent suspicion broke loose against him; for it was ascertained that on certain nights, when, perhaps, he had _extra_ motives for concealing the fact of having been abroad, he drew woollen stockings over his horse's feet, with the purpose of deadening the sound in riding up a brick-paved entry, common to his own stable and that of a respectable neighbor. Thus far there was a reasonable foundation laid for suspicion; but suspicion of what? Because a man attends to the darning of his horse's stockings, why must he be meditating murder? The fact is--and known from the very first to a select party of amateurs--that X, our superb-looking skeleton, did, about three o'clock on a rainy Wednesday morning, in the dead of winter, ride silently out of Knutsford; and about forty-eight hours afterwards, on a rainy Friday, silently and softly did that same superb blood-horse, carrying that same blood-man, namely, our friend the superb skeleton, pace up the quiet brick entry, in a neat pair of socks, on his return.

During that interval of forty-eight hours, an atrocious murder was committed in the ancient city of Bristol. By whom? That question is to this day unanswered. The scene of it was a house on the west side of the College Green, which is in fact that same quadrangle planted with trees, and having on its southern side the Bristol Cathedral, up and down which, early in the reign of George III., Chatterton walked in jubilant spirits with fair young women of Bristol; up and down which, some thirty years later, Robert Southey and S. T. C. walked with young Bristol belles from a later generation. The subjects of the murder were an elderly lady bearing some such name as Rusborough, and her female servant. Mystery there was none as to the motive of the murder-- manifestly it was a hoard of money that had attracted the assassin; but there was great perplexity as to the agent or agents concerned in the atrocious act, and as to the mode by which an entrance, under the known precautions of the lady, could have been effected. Because a thorough- bred horse could easily have accomplished the distance to and fro (say three hundred miles) within the forty-eight hours, and because the two extreme dates of this forty-eight hours' absence tallied with the requisitions of the Bristol tragedy, it did not follow that X must have had a hand in it. And yet, had these coincidences _then_ been observed, they would certainly--now that strong suspicions had been directed to the man from the extraordinary character of his nocturnal precautions--not have passed without investigation. But the remoteness of Bristol, and the rarity of newspapers in those days, caused these indications to pass unnoticed. Bristol knew of no such Knutsford highwayman--Knutsford knew of no such Bristol murder. It is singular enough that these earlier grounds of suspicion against X were not viewed as such by anybody, until they came to be combined with another and final ground. Then the presumptions seemed conclusive. But, by that time, X himself had been executed for a robbery; had been manufactured into a skeleton by the famous surgeon, Cruickshank, assisted by Mr. White and other pupils. All interest in the case had subsided in Knutsford, that could now have cleared up the case satisfactorily; and thus it happened that to this day the riddle, which was read pretty decisively in a northern county, still remains a riddle in the south. When I saw the College Green house in 1809-10, it was apparently empty, and, as I was told, had always been empty since the murder: forty years had not cicatrized the bloody remembrance; and, to this day, perhaps, it remains amongst the gloomy traditions of Bristol.

But whether the Bristol house has or has not shaken off that odor of blood which offended the nostrils of tenants, it is, I believe, certain that the city annals have not shaken off the mystery: which yet to certain people in Knutsford, as I have said, and to us the spectators of the skeleton, immediately upon hearing one damning fact from the lips of Mr. White, seemed to melt away and evaporate as convincingly as if we had heard the explanation issuing in the terms of a confession from the mouth of the skeleton itself. What, then, _was_ the fact? With pain, and reluctantly, we felt its force, as we looked at the royal skeleton, and reflected on the many evidences which he had given of courage, and perhaps of other noble qualities. The ugly fact was this: In a few weeks after the College Green tragedy, Knutsford, and the whole neighborhood as far as Warrington (the half-way town between Liverpool and Manchester), were deluged with gold and silver coins, moidores, and dollars, from the Spanish mint of Mexico, etc. These, during the frequent scarcities of English silver currency, were notoriously current in England. Now, it is an unhappy fact, and subsequently became known to the Bristol and London police, that a considerable part of poor Mrs. Rusborough's treasure lay in such coins, gold and silver, from the Spanish colonial mints.

Lady Carbery at this period made an effort to teach me Hebrew, by way of repaying in _kind_ my pains in teaching Greek to _her_. Where, and upon what motive, she had herself begun to learn Hebrew, I forget: but in Manchester she had resumed this study with energy on a casual impulse derived from a certain Dr. Bailey, a clergyman of this city, who had published a Hebrew Grammar. The doctor was the most unworldly and guileless of men. Amongst his orthodox brethren he was reputed a "Methodist;" and not without reason; for some of his Low- Church views he pushed into practical extravagances that looked like fanaticism, or even like insanity. Lady Carbery wished naturally to testify her gratitude for his services by various splendid presents: but nothing would the good doctor accept, unless it assumed a shape that might be available for the service of the paupers amongst his congregation. The Hebrew studies, however, notwithstanding the personal assistance which we drew from the kindness of Dr. Bailey, languished. For this there were several reasons; but it was enough that the systematic vagueness in the pronunciation of this, as of the other Oriental languages, disgusted both of us. A word which could not be pronounced with any certainty, was not in a true sense possessed. Let it be understood, however, that it was not the correct and original pronunciation that we cared for--_that_ has perished probably beyond recall, even in the case of Greek, in spite of the Asiatic and the Insular Greeks--what we demanded in vain was any pronunciation whatever that should be articulate, apprehensible, and intercommunicable, such as might differentiate the words: whereas a system of mere vowels too inadequately strengthened by consonants, seemed to leave all words pretty nearly alike. One day, in a pause of languor amongst these arid Hebrew studies, I read to her, with a beating heart, "The Ancient Mariner." It had been first published in 1798; and, about this time (1801), was re-published in the first _two_-volume edition of "The Lyrical Ballads." Well I knew Lady Carbery's constitutional inaptitude for poetry; and not for the world would I have sought sympathy from her or from anybody else upon that part of the L. B. which belonged to Wordsworth. But I fancied that the wildness of this tale, and the triple majesties of Solitude, of Mist, and of the Ancient Unknown Sea, might have won her into relenting; and, in fact, she listened with gravity and deep attention. But, on reviewing afterwards in conversation such passages as she happened to remember, she laughed at the finest parts, and shocked me by calling the mariner himself "an old quiz;" protesting that the latter part of his homily to the wedding guest clearly pointed him out as the very man meant by Providence for a stipendiary curate to the good Dr. Bailey in his over-crowded church.


[Footnote: St. James', according to my present recollection.]


With an albatross perched on his shoulder, and who might be introduced to the congregation as the immediate organ of his conversion, and supported by the droning of a bassoon, she represented the mariner lecturing to advantage in English; the doctor overhead in the pulpit enforcing it in Hebrew. Angry I was, though forced to laugh. But of what use is anger or argument in a duel with female criticism? Our ponderous masculine wits are no match for the mercurial fancy of women. Once, however, I had a triumph: to my great surprise, one day, she suddenly repeated by heart, to Dr. Bailey, the beautiful passage--


"It ceased, yet still the sails made on," &c.;


asking what he thought of _that?_ As it happened, the simple, childlike doctor had more sensibility than herself; for, though he had never in his whole homely life read more of poetry than he had drunk of Tokay or Constantia,--in fact, had scarcely heard tell of any poetry but Watts' Hymns,--he seemed petrified: and at last, with a deep sigh, as if recovering from the spasms of a new birth, said, "I never heard anything so beautiful in my whole life."

During the long stay of the Laxton party in Manchester, occurred a Christmas; and at Christmas--that is, at the approach of this great Christian festival, so properly substituted in England for the Pagan festival of January and the New Year--there was, according to ancient usage, on the breaking up for the holidays, at the Grammar School, a solemn celebration of the season by public speeches. Among the six speakers, I, of course (as one of the three boys who composed the head class), held a distinguished place; and it followed, also, as a matter of course, that all my friends congregated on this occasion to do me honor. What I had to recite was a copy of Latin verses (Alcaics) on the recent conquest of Malta. _Melite Britannis Subacta_--this was the title of my worshipful nonsense. The whole strength of the Laxton party had mustered on this occasion. Lady Carbery made a point of bringing in her party every creature whom she could influence. And, probably, there were in that crowded audience many old Manchester friends of my father, loving his memory, and thinking to honor it by kindness to his son. Furious, at any rate, was the applause which greeted me: furious was my own disgust. Frantic were the clamors as I concluded my nonsense. Frantic was my inner sense of shame at the childish exhibition to which, unavoidably, I was making myself a party. Lady Carbery had, at first, directed towards me occasional glances, expressing a comic sympathy with the thoughts which she supposed to be occupying my mind. But these glances ceased; and I was recalled by the gloomy sadness in her altered countenance to some sense of my own extravagant and disproportionate frenzy on this occasion: from the indulgent kindness with which she honored me, her countenance on this occasion became a mirror to my own. At night she assured me, when talking over the case, that she had never witnessed an expression of such settled misery, and also (so she fancied) of misanthropy, as that which darkened my countenance in those moments of apparent public triumph, no matter how trivial the occasion, and amidst an uproar of friendly felicitation. I look back to that state of mind as almost a criminal reproach to myself, if it were not for the facts of the case. But, in excuse for myself, this fact, above all others, ought to be mentioned--that, over and above the killing oppression to my too sensitive system of the monotonous school tasks, and the ruinous want of exercise, I had fallen under medical advice the most misleading that it is possible to imagine. The physician and the surgeon of my family were men too eminent, it seemed to me, and, consequently, with time too notoriously bearing a high pecuniary value, for any school-boy to detain them with complaints. Under these circumstances, I threw myself for aid, in a case so simple that any clever boy in a druggist's shop would have known how to treat it, upon the advice of an old, old apothecary, who had full authority from my guardians to run up a most furious account against me for medicine. This being the regular mode of payment, inevitably, and unconsciously, he was biased to a mode of treatment; namely, by drastic medicines varied without end, which fearfully exasperated the complaint. This complaint, as I now know, was the simplest possible derangement of the liver, a torpor in its action that might have been put to rights in three days. In fact, one week's pedestrian travelling amongst the Caernarvonshire mountains effected a revolution in my health such as left me nothing to complain of.

An odd thing happened by the merest accident. I, when my Alcaics had run down their foolish larum, instead of resuming my official place as one of the trinity who composed the head class, took a seat by the side of Lady Carbery. On the other side of her was seated a stranger: and this stranger, whom mere chance had thrown next to her, was Lord Belgrave, her old and at one time (as some people fancied) favored suitor. In this there was nothing at all extraordinary. Lord Grey de Wilton, an old _alumnus_ of this Manchester Grammar School, and an _alumnus_ during the early reign of this same _Archididascalus_, made a point of showing honor to his ancient tutor, especially now when reputed to be decaying; and with the same view he brought Lord Belgrave, who had become his son-in-law after his rejection by Lady Carbery. The whole was a very natural accident. But Lady Carbery was not sufficiently bronzed by worldly habits to treat this accident with _nonchalance_. She did not _to the public eye_ betray any embarrassment; but afterwards she told me that no incident could have been more distressing to her.

Some months after this, the Laxton party quitted Manchester, having no further motive for staying. Mrs. Schreiber was now confessedly dying: medical skill could do no more for her; and this being so, there was no reason why she should continue to exchange her own quiet little Rutlandshire cottage for the discomforts of smoky lodgings. Lady Carbery retired like some golden pageant amongst the clouds; thick darkness succeeded; the ancient torpor reestablished itself; and my health grew distressingly worse. Then it was, after dreadful self- conflicts, that I took the unhappy resolution of which the results are recorded in the "Opium Confessions." At this point, the reader must understand, comes in that chapter of my life; and for all which concerns that delirious period I refer him to those "Confessions." Some anxiety I had, on leaving Manchester, lest my mother should suffer too much from this rash step; and on that impulse I altered the direction of my wanderings; not going (as I had originally planned) to the English Lakes, but making first of all for St. John's Priory, Chester, at that time my mother's residence. There I found my maternal uncle, Captain Penson, of the Bengal establishment, just recently come home on a two years' leave of absence; and there I had an interview with my mother. By a temporary arrangement I received a weekly allowance, which would have enabled me to live in _any_ district of Wales, either North or South; for Wales, both North and South, is (or at any rate _was_) a land of exemplary cheapness. For instance, at Talyllyn, in Merionethshire, or anywhere off the line of tourists, I and a lieutenant in our English navy paid sixpence uniformly for a handsome dinner; sixpence, I mean, apiece. But two months later came a golden blockhead, who instructed the people that it was "sinful" to charge less than three shillings. In Wales, meantime, I suffered grievously from want of books; and fancying, in my profound ignorance of the world, that I could borrow money upon my own expectations, or, at least, that I could do so with the joint security of Lord Westport (now Earl of Altamont, upon his father's elevation to the Marquisate of Sligo), or (failing _that_) with the security of his amiable and friendly cousin, the Earl of Desart, I had the unpardonable folly to quit the deep tranquillities of North Wales for the uproars, and perils, and the certain miseries, of London. I had borrowed ten guineas from Lady Carbery; and at that time, when my purpose was known to nobody, I might have borrowed any sum I pleased. But I could never again avail myself of that resource, because I must have given some address, in order to insure the receipt of Lady Carbery's answer; and in that case, so sternly conscientious was she, that, under the notion of saving me from ruin, my address would have been immediately communicated to my guardians, and by them would have been confided to the unrivalled detective talents, in those days, of Townsend, or some other Bow-street officer.

* * * * *

That episode, or impassioned parenthesis in my life, which is comprehended in "The Confessions of the Opium-Eater," had finished; suppose it over and gone, and once more, after the storms of London, suppose me resting from my dreadful remembrances, in the deep monastic tranquillity, of St. John's Priory; and just then, by accident, with no associates except my mother and my uncle. What was the Priory like? Was it young or old, handsome or plain? What was my uncle the captain like? Young or old, handsome or plain? Wait a little, my reader; give me time, and I will tell you all. My uncle's leave of absence from India had not expired; in fact, it had nine or ten months still to run; and this accident furnished us all with an opportunity of witnessing his preternatural activity. One morning early in April of the year 1803, a gentleman called at the Priory, and mentioned, as the news of the morning brought down by the London mail, that there had been a very hot and very sudden "press" along the Thames, and simultaneously at the outports. Indeed, before this the spiteful tone of Sebastiani's Report, together with the arrogant comment in the _Moniteur_ on the supposed inability of Great Britain to contend "single-handed" with France; and, finally, the public brutality to our ambassador, had prepared us all for war. But, then, might not all this blow over? No; apart from any choice or preference of war on the part of Napoleon, his very existence depended upon war. He lived by and through the army. Without a succession of wars and martial glories in reserve for the army, what interest had _they_ in Napoleon? This was obscurely acknowledged by everybody. More or less consciously perceived, a feeling deep and strong ran through the nation that it was vain to seek expedients or delays; a mighty strife had to be fought out, which could not be evaded. Thence it was that the volunteer system was so rapidly and earnestly developed. As a first stage in the process of national enthusiasm, this was invaluable. The first impulse drew out the material.

Next, as might have been foreseen, came an experience which taught us seasonably that these redundant materials, crude and miscellaneous, required a winnowing and sifting, which very soon we had; and the result was, an incomparable militia. Chester shone conspicuously in this noble competition. But here, as elsewhere, at first there was no cavalry. Upon that arose a knot of gentlemen, chiefly those who hunted, and in a very few hours laid the foundation of a small cavalry force. Three troops were raised in the _city_ of Chester, one of the three being given to my uncle. The whole were under the command of Colonel Dod, who had a landed estate in the county, and who (like my uncle) had been in India. But Colonel Dod and the captains of the two other troops gave comparatively little aid. The whole working activities of the system rested with my uncle. Then first I saw energy: then first I knew what it meant. All the officers of the three troops exchanged dinner-parties with each other; and consequently they dined at the Priory often enough to make us acquainted with their characteristic qualities. That period had not yet passed away, though it was already passing, when gentlemen did not willingly leave the dinner-table in a state of absolute sobriety. Colonel Dod and my uncle had learned in Bengal, under the coercion of the climate, habits of temperance. But the others (though few, perhaps, might be systematic drinkers) were careless in this respect, and drank under social excitement quite enough to lay bare the ruling tendencies of their several characters. Being English, naturally the majority were energetic, and beyond all things despised dreaming _faineans_ (such, for instance, as we find the politicians, or even the conspirators, of Italy, Spain, and Germany, whose whole power of action evaporates in talking, and histrionically gesticulating). Yet still the best of them seemed inert by comparison with my uncle, and to regard _his_ standard of action and exertion as trespassing to a needless degree upon ordinary human comfort.

Commonplace, meantime, my uncle was in the character of his intellect; there he fell a thousand leagues below my mother, to whom he looked up with affectionate astonishment. But, as a man of action, he ran so far ahead of men generally, that he ceased to impress one as commonplace. He, if any man ever did, realized the Roman poet's description of being _natus rebus agendis_--sent into this world not for talking, but for doing; not for counsel, but for execution. On that field he was a portentous man, a monster; and, viewing him as such, I am disposed to concede a few words to what modern slang denominates his "antecedents."

Two brothers and one sister (namely, my mother) composed the household choir of children gathering round the hearth of my maternal grand- parents, whose name was Penson. My grandfather at one time held an office under the king; how named, I once heard, but have forgotten; only this I remember, that it was an office which conferred the title of _Esquire;_ so that upon each and all of his several coffins, lead, oak, mahogany, he was entitled to proclaim himself an _Armiger;_ which, observe, is the newest, oldest, most classic mode of saying that one is privileged to bear arms in a sense intelligible only to the Herald's College. This _Armiger_, this undeniable Squire, was doubly distinguished: first, by his iron constitution and impregnable health; which were of such quality, and like the sword of Michael, the warrior-angel ("Paradise Lost," B. vi.), had "from the armory of God been given him tempered so," that no insurance office, trafficking in life-annuities, would have ventured to look him in the face. People thought him good, like a cat, for eight or nine generations; nor did any man perceive at what avenue death could find, or disease could force, a practicable breach; and yet, such anchorage have all human hopes, in the very midst of these windy anticipations, this same granite grandpapa of mine, not yet very far ahead of sixty, being in fact three-score years and none, suddenly struck his flag, and found himself, in his privileged character of _Armiger_, needing those door (coffin-door) plates, which all reasonable people had supposed to be reserved for the manufacturing hands of some remote century. "_Armiger_, pack up your traps"-- "Collige sarcinas"--"Squire, you're wanted:" these dreadful citations were inevitable; come they must; but surely, as everybody thought, not in the eighteenth, or, perhaps, even the nineteenth century. _Diis aliter visum._ My grandfather, built for an _Aeonian_ duration, did not come within hail of myself; whilst his gentle partner, my grandmother, who made no show of extra longevity, lived down into my period, and had the benefit of my acquaintance through half a dozen years. If she turned this piece of good fortune to no great practical account, that (you know) was no fault of mine. Doubtless, I was ready with my advice, freely and gratuitously, if she had condescended to ask for it. Returning to my grandfather: the other distinguishing endowment, by which he was so favorably known and remembered amongst his friends, was the magical versatility of his talents, and his power of self-accommodation to all humors, tempers, and ages.


"Omnis Aristippum decuit color, et status, et res."


And in allusion to this line from Horace it was, that amongst his literary friends he was known familiarly by the name of Aristippus. His sons, Edward and Thomas, resembled him, by all accounts, in nothing; neither physically, nor in moral versatility. These two sons of the Squire, Edward and Thomas, through some traditional prejudice in the family, had always directed their views to the military profession. In such a case, the king's army is naturally that to which a young man's expectations turn. But to wait, and after all by possibility to wait in vain, did not suit my fiery grandfather. The interest which he could put into motion was considerable; but it was more applicable to the service of the East India Company than to any branch of the home service. This interest was so exerted that in one day he obtained a lieutenantcy in the Company's service for each of his sons. About 1780 or 1781, both young men, aged severally sixteen and seventeen years, went out to join their regiments, both regiments being on the Bengal establishment. Very different were their fates; yet their qualifications ought to have been the same, or differing only as sixteen differs from seventeen; and also as sixteen overflowing with levity differs from seventeen prematurely thoughtful. Edward Penson was early noticed for his high principle, for his benignity, and for a thoughtfulness somewhat sorrowful, that seemed to have caught in childhood some fugitive glimpse of his own too brief career. At noonday, in some part of Bengal, he went out of doors bareheaded, and died in a few hours.

In 1800-1801, my mother had become dissatisfied with Bath as a residence; and, being free from all ties connecting her with any one county of England rather than another, she resolved to traverse the most attractive parts of the island, and, upon personal inspection, to select a home; not a ready-built home, but the ground on which she might herself create one; for it happened that amongst the few infirmities besetting my mother's habits and constitution of mind, was the costly one of seeking her chief intellectual excitement in architectural creations. She individually might be said to have built Greenhay; since to _her_ views of domestic elegance and propriety my father had resigned _almost_ everything. This was her _coup- d'essai_; secondly, she built the complement to the Priory in Cheshire, which cost about one thousand pounds; thirdly, Westhay, in Somersetshire, about twelve miles from Bristol, which, including the land attached to the house, cost twelve thousand five hundred pounds, not including subsequent additions; but this was built at the cost of my uncle; finally, Weston Lea, close to Bath, which being designed simply for herself in old age, with a moderate establishment of four servants (and some reasonable provision of accommodations for a few visitors), cost originally, I believe, not more than one thousand pounds--excluding, however, the cost of all after alterations.

It may serve to show how inevitably an amateur architect, without professional aid and counsel, will be defrauded, that the first of these houses, which cost six thousand pounds, sold for no more than twenty-five hundred pounds, and the third for no more than five thousand pounds. The person who superintended the workmen, and had the whole practical management of one amongst these four houses, was a common builder, without capital or education, and the greatest knave that personally I have known. It may illustrate the way in which lady architects, without professional aid, are and ever will be defrauded, that, after all was finished, and the entire wood-work was to be measured and valued, each party, of course, needing to be represented by a professional agent, naturally the knavish builder was ready at earliest dawn with _his_ agent; but, as regarded my mother's interest, the task of engaging such an agent had been confided to a neighboring clergyman,--"evangelical," of course, and a humble sycophant of Hannah More, but otherwise the most helpless of human beings, baptized or infidel. He contented himself with instructing a young gentleman, aged about fifteen, to take his pony and ride over to a distant cathedral town, which was honored by the abode of a virtuous though drunken surveyor. This respectable drunkard he was to engage, and also with obvious discretion to fee beforehand. All which was done: the drunken surveyor had a sort of fits, it was understood, that always towards sunset inclined him to assume the horizontal posture. Fortunately, however, for that part of mankind whom circumstances had brought under the necessity of communicating with him, these fits were intermitting; so that, for instance, in the present case, upon a severe call arising for his pocketing the fee of ten guineas, he astonished his whole household by suddenly standing bolt upright as stiff as a poker; his sister remarking to the young gentleman that he (the visitor) was in luck that evening: it wasn't everybody that could get that length in dealing with Mr. X. O. However, it is distressing to relate that the fits immediately returned; and, with that degree of exasperation which made it dangerous to suggest the idea of a receipt; since that must have required the vertical attitude. Whether that attitude ever was recovered by the unfortunate gentleman, I do not know. Forty-and-four years have passed since then. Almost everybody connected with the case has had time to assume permanently the horizontal posture,--namely, that knave of a builder, whose knaveries (gilded by that morning sun of June) were controlled by nobody; that sycophantish parson; that young gentleman of fifteen (now, alas! fifty- nine), who must long since have sown his wild oats; that unhappy pony of eighteen (now, alas! sixty-two, if living; ah! venerable pony, that must (or mustest) now require thy oats to be boiled); in short, one and all of these venerabilities--knaves, ponies, drunkards, receipts--have descended, I believe, to chaos or to Hades, with hardly one exception. Chancery itself, though somewhat of an Indian juggler, could not play with such aerial balls as these.

On what ground it was that my mother quarrelled with the advantages of Bath, so many and so conspicuous, I cannot guess. At that time, namely, the opening of the nineteenth century, the old traditionary custom of the place had established for young and old the luxury of sedan-chairs. Nine tenths, at least, of the colds and catarrhs, those initial stages of all pulmonary complaints (the capital scourge of England), are caught in the transit between the door of a carriage and the genial atmosphere of the drawing-room. By a sedan-chair all this danger was evaded: your two chairmen marched right into the hall: the hall-door was closed; and not until then was the roof and the door of your chair opened: the translation was--from one room to another. To my mother, and many in her situation, the sedan-chair recommended itself also by advantages of another class. Immediately on coming to Bath her carriage was "laid up in ordinary." The trifling rent of a coach-house, some slight annual repairs, and the tax, composed the whole annual cost. At that time, and throughout the war, the usual estimate for the cost of a close carriage in London was three hundred and twenty pounds; since, in order to have the certain services of two horses, it was indispensable to keep three. Add to this the coachman, the wear-and-tear of harness, and the duty; and, even in Bath, a cheaper place than London, you could not accomplish the total service under two hundred and seventy pounds. Now, except the duty, all this expense was at once superseded by the sedan-chair--rarely costing you above ten shillings a week, that is, twenty-five guineas a year, and liberating you from all care or anxiety. The duty on four wheels, it is true, was suddenly exalted by Mr. Pitt's triple assessment from twelve guineas to thirty-six; but what a trifle by comparison with the cost of horses and coachman! And, then, no demands for money were ever met so cheerfully by my mother as those which went to support Mr. Pitt's policy against Jacobinism and Regicide. At present, after five years' sinecure existence, unless on the rare summons of a journey, this dormant carriage was suddenly undocked, and put into commission. Taking with her two servants, and one of my sisters, my mother now entered upon a _periplus_, or systematic circumnavigation of all England; and in England only-- through the admirable machinery matured for such a purpose, namely, inns, innkeepers, servants, horses, all first-rate of their class--it was possible to pursue such a scheme in the midst of domestic comfort. My mother's resolution was--to see all England with her own eyes, and to judge for herself upon the qualifications of each county, each town (not being a bustling seat of commerce), and each village (having any advantages of scenery), for contributing the main elements towards a home that might justify her in building a house. The qualifications insisted on were these five: good medical advice somewhere in the neighborhood; first-rate means of education; elegant (or, what most people might think, aristocratic) society; agreeable scenery: and so far the difficulty was not insuperable in the way of finding all the four advantages concentrated. But my mother insisted on a fifth, which in those days insured the instant shipwreck of the entire scheme; this was a church of England parish clergyman, who was to be strictly orthodox, faithful to the articles of our English church, yet to these articles as interpreted by Evangelical divinity. My mother's views were precisely those of her friend Mrs. Hannah More, of Wilberforce, of Henry Thornton, of Zachary Macaulay (father of the historian), and generally of those who were then known amongst sneerers as "the Clapham saints." This one requisition it was on which the scheme foundered. And the fact merits recording as an exposition of the broad religious difference between the England of that day and of this. At present, no difficulty would be found as to this fifth requisition. "Evangelical" clergymen are now sown broad-cast; at that period, there were not, on an average, above six or eight in each of the fifty-two counties.

The conditions, as a whole, were in fact incapable of being realized; where two or three were attained, three or two failed. It was too much to exact so many advantages from any one place, unless London; or really, if any other place could be looked to with hope in such a chase, that place was Bath--the very city my mother was preparing to leave. Yet, had this been otherwise, and the prospect of success more promising, I have not a doubt that the pretty gem, which suddenly was offered at a price unintelligibly low, in the ancient city of Chester, would have availed (as instantly it _did_ avail, and, perhaps, ought to have availed) in obscuring those five conditions of which else each separately for itself had seemed a _conditio sine qua non_. This gem was an ancient house, on a miniature scale, called the _Priory_; and, until the dissolution of religious houses in the earlier half of the sixteenth century, had formed part of the Priory attached to the ancient church (still flourishing) of St. John's. Towards the end of the sixteenth and through the first quarter of the seventeenth century, this Priory had been in the occupation of Sir Robert Cotton, the antiquary, the friend of Ben Jonson, of Coke, of Selden, etc., and advantageously known as one of those who applied his legal and historical knowledge to the bending back into constitutional moulds of those despotic twists which new interests and false counsels had developed in the Tudor and Stuart dynasties. It was an exceedingly pretty place; and the kitchen, upon the ground story, which had a noble groined ceiling of stone, indicated, by its disproportionate scale, the magnitude of the establishment to which once it had ministered. Attached to this splendid kitchen were tributary offices, etc. On the upper story were exactly five rooms: namely, a servants' dormitory, meant in Sir Robert's day for two beds


[Footnote: The contrivance amongst our ancestors, even at haughty Cambridge and haughtier Oxford, was, that one bed rising six inches from the floor ran (in the day- time) under a loftier bed; it ran upon castors or little wheels. The learned word for a little wheel is _trochlea_; from which Grecian and Latin term comes the English word _truckle_-bed.]


at the least; and a servants' sitting-room. These were shut off into a separate section, with a little staircase (like a ship's companion- ladder) and a little lobby of its own. But the principal section on this upper story had been dedicated to the use of Sir Robert, and consisted of a pretty old hall, lighted by an old monastic-painted window in the door of entrance; secondly, a rather elegant dining-room; thirdly, a bed-room. The glory of the house internally lay in the monastic kitchen; and, secondly, in what a Frenchman would have called, properly, Sir Robert's own _apartment_


[Footnote: _Apartment_.-- Our English use of the word "apartment" is absurd, since it leads to total misconceptions. We read in French memoirs innumerable of _the king's apartment_, of _the queen's apartment_, etc., and for us English the question arises, How? Had the king, had her majesty, only one room? But, my friend, they might have a thousand rooms, and yet have only one apartment. An apartment means, in the continental use, a section or _compartment_ of an edifice.]


of three rooms; but, thirdly and chiefly, in a pile of ruined archways, most picturesque so far as they went, but so small that Drury Lane could easily have found room for them on its stage. These stood in the miniature pleasure-ground, and were constantly resorted to by artists for specimens of architectural decays, or of nature working for the concealment of such decays by her ordinary processes of gorgeous floral vegetation. Ten rooms there may have been in the Priory, as offered to my mother for less than five hundred pounds. A drawing-room, bed-rooms, dressing-rooms, etc., making about ten more, were added by my mother for a sum under one thousand pounds. The same miniature scale was observed in all these additions. And, as the Priory was not within the walls of the city, whilst the river Dee, flowing immediately below, secured it from annoyance on one side, and the church, with its adjacent church-yard, insulated it from the tumults of life on all the other sides, an atmosphere of conventual stillness and tranquillity brooded over it and all around it forever.

Such was the house, such was the society, in which I now found myself; and upon the whole I might describe myself as being, according to the modern phrase, "in a false position." I had, for instance, a vast superiority, as was to have been expected, in bookish attainments, and in adroitness of logic; whilst, on the other hand, I was ridiculously short-sighted or blind in all fields of ordinary human experience. It must not be supposed that I regarded my own particular points of superiority, or that I used them, with any vanity or view to present advantages. On the contrary, I sickened over them, and labored to defeat them. But in vain I sowed errors in my premises, or planted absurdities in my assumptions. Vainly I tried such blunders as putting four terms into a syllogism, which, as all the world knows, ought to run on three; a tripod it ought to be, by all rules known to man, and, behold, I forced it to become a quadruped. Upon my uncle's military haste, and tumultuous energy in pressing his opinions, all such delicate refinements were absolutely thrown away. With disgust _I_ saw, with disgust _he_ saw, that too apparently the advantage lay with me in the result; and, whilst I worked like a dragon to place myself in the wrong, some fiend apparently so counterworked me, that eternally I was reminded of the Manx half-pennies, which lately I had continually seen current in North Wales, bearing for their heraldic distinction three human legs in armor, but so placed in relation to each other that always one leg is vertical and mounting guard on behalf of the other two, which, therefore, are enabled to sprawl aloft in the air--in fact, to be as absurdly negligent as they choose, relying upon their vigilant brother below, and upon the written legend or motto, STABIT QUOCUNQUE JECERIS (Stand it will upright, though you should fling it in any conceivable direction). What gave another feature of distraction and incoherency to my position was, that I still occupied the position of a reputed boy, nay, a child, in the estimate of my audience, and of a child in disgrace. Time enough had not passed since my elopement from school to win for me, in minds so fresh from that remembrance, a station of purification and assoilment. Oxford might avail to assoil me, and to throw into a distant retrospect my boyish trespasses; but as yet Oxford had not arrived. I committed, besides, a great fault in taking often a tone of mock seriousness, when the detection of the playful extravagance was left to the discernment or quick sympathy of the hearer; and I was blind to the fact, that neither my mother nor my uncle was distinguished by any natural liveliness of vision for the comic, or any toleration for the extravagant. My mother, for example, had an awful sense of conscientious fidelity in the payment of taxes. Many a respectable family I have known that would privately have encouraged a smuggler, and, in consequence, were beset continually by mock smugglers, offering, with airs of affected mystery, home commodities liable to no custom-house objections whatsoever, only at a hyperbolical price. I remember even the case of a duke, who bought in Piccadilly, under laughable circumstances of complex disguise, some silk handkerchiefs, falsely pretending to be foreign, and was so incensed at finding himself to have been committing no breach of law whatever, but simply to have been paying double the ordinary shop price, that he pulled up the _soi-disant_ smuggler to Bowstreet, even at the certain price of exposure to himself. The charge he alleged against the man was the untenable one of _not_ being a smuggler. My mother, on the contrary, pronounced all such attempts at cheating the king, or, as I less harshly termed it, cheating the tax-gatherer, as being equal in guilt to a fraud upon one's neighbor, or to direct appropriation of another man's purse. I, on my part, held, that government, having often defrauded me through its agent and creature the post-office, by monstrous over-charges on letters, had thus created in my behalf a right of retaliation. And dreadfully it annoyed my mother, that I, stating this right in a very plausible rule-of-three form--namely, As is the income of the said fraudulent government to my poor patrimonial income of one hundred and fifty pounds per annum, so is any one special fraud (as, for instance, that of yesterday morning, amounting to thirteen pence upon a single letter) to that equitable penalty which I am entitled to recover upon the goods and chattels (wherever found) of the ill-advised Britannic government. During the war with Napoleon, the income of this government ran, to all amounts, between fifty and seventy millions pounds sterling. Awful, therefore, seemed the inheritance of retaliation, inexhaustible the fund of reprisals, into which I stepped. Since, even a single case of robbery, such as I could plead by dozens, in the course of a few years, though no more than thirteen pence, yet multiplied into seventy million times two hundred and forty pence, _minus_ one hundred and fifty pounds, made a very comfortable property. The right was clear; and the sole difficulty lay in asserting it; in fact, that same difficulty which beset the philosopher of old, in arguing with the Emperor Hadrian; namely, the want of thirty legions for the purpose of clearly pointing out to Cesar where it was that the truth lay; the secret truth; that rarest of all "nuggets."

This counter-challenge of government, as the first mover in a system of frauds, annoyed, but also perplexed my mother exceedingly. For an argument that shaped itself into a rule-of-three illustration seemed really to wear too candid an aspect for summary and absolute rejection.

Such discussions wore to me a comic shape. But altogether serious were the disputes upon INDIA--a topic on separate grounds equally interesting to us all, as the mightiest of English colonies, and the superbest monument of demoniac English energy, revealing itself in such men as Clive, Hastings, and soon after in the two Wellesleys. To my mother, as the grave of one brother, as the home of another, and as a new centre from which Christianity (she hoped) would mount like an eagle; for just about that time the Bible Society was preparing its initial movements; whilst to my uncle India appeared as the _arena_ upon which his activities were yet to find their adequate career. With respect to the Christianization of India, my uncle assumed a hope which he did not really feel; and in another point, more trying to himself personally, he had soon an opportunity for showing the sincerity of this deference to his spiritual-minded sister. For, very soon after his return to India, he received a civil appointment (_Superintendent of Military Buildings in Bengal_), highly lucrative, and the more so as it could be held conjointly with his military rank; but a good deal of its pecuniary advantages was said to lie in fees, or perquisites, privately offered, but perfectly regular and official, which my mother (misunderstanding the Indian system) chose to call "bribes." A very ugly word was _that_; but I argued that even at home, even in the courts at Westminster, in the very fountains of justice, private fees constituted one part of the salaries--a fair and official part, so long as Parliament had not made such fees illegal by commuting them for known and fixed equivalents.

It was mere ignorance of India, as I dutifully insisted against "Mamma," that could confound these regular oriental "nuzzers" with the clandestine wages of corruption. The _pot-de-vin_ of French tradition, the pair of gloves (though at one time very costly gloves) to an English judge of assize on certain occasions, never was offered nor received in the light of a bribe. And (until regularly abolished by the legislature) I insisted--but vainly insisted--that these and similar _honoraria_ ought to be accepted, because else you were lowering the prescriptive rights and value of the office, which you--a mere _locum tenens_ for some coming successor--had no right to do upon a solitary scruple or crotchet, arising probably from dyspepsia. Better men, no doubt, than ever stood in _your_ stockings, had pocketed thankfully the gifts of ancient, time-honored custom. My uncle, however, though not with the carnal recusancy which besieged the spiritual efforts of poor Cuthbert Headrigg, that incorrigible worldling, yet still with intermitting doubts, followed my mother's earnest entreaties, and the more meritoriously (I conceive), as he yielded, in a point deeply affecting his interest, to a system of arguments very imperfectly convincing to his understanding. He held the office in question for as much (I believe) as eighteen or nineteen years; and, by knowing old bilious Indians, who laughed immoderately at my uncle and my mother, as the proper growth of a priory or some such monastic establishment, I have been assured that nothing short of two hundred thousand pounds ought, under the long tenure of office, to have been remitted to England. But, then, said one of these gentlemen, if your uncle lived (as I have heard that he did) in Calcutta and Meer-ut, at the rate of four thousand pounds a year, _that_ would account for a considerable share of a mine which else would seem to have been worked in vain. Unquestionably, my uncle's system of living was under no circumstances a self-denying one. To enjoy, and to make others enjoy--_that_ was his law of action. Indeed, a more liberal creature, or one of more princely munificence, never lived.

It might seem useless to call back any fragment of conversations relating to India which passed more than fifty years ago, were it not for two reasons: one of which is this,--that the errors (natural at that time) which I vehemently opposed, not from any greater knowledge that I had, but from closer reflection, are even now the prevailing errors of the English people. My mother, for instance, uniformly spoke of the English as the subverters of ancient thrones. I, on the contrary, insisted that nothing political was ancient in India. Our own original opponents, the Rajahs of Oude and Bengal, had been all upstarts: in the Mysore, again, our more recent opponents, Hyder, and his son Tippoo, were new men altogether, whose grandfathers were quite unknown. Why was it that my mother, why is it that the English public at this day, connect so false an image--that of high, cloudy antiquity --with the thrones of India? It is simply from an old habit of associating the spirit of change and rapid revolution with the activities of Europe; so that, by a natural reaction of thought, the Orient is figured as the home of motionless monotony. In things religious, in habits, in costume, it _is_ so. But so far otherwise in things political, that no instance can be alleged of any dynasty or system of government that has endured beyond a century or two in the East. Taking India in particular, the Mogul dynasty, established by Baber, the great-grandson of Timour, did not subsist in any vigor for two centuries; and yet this was by far the most durable of all established princely houses. Another argument against England urged by my mother (but equally urged by the English people at this day) was, that she had in no eminent sense been a benefactress to India; or, expressing it in words of later date, that the only memorials of our rule, supposing us suddenly ejected from India, would be vast heaps of champagne-bottles. I, on the other hand, alleged that our benefits, like all truly great and lasting benefits (religious benefits, for instance), must not be sought in external memorials of stone and masonry. Higher by far than the Mogul gifts of mile-stones, or travelling stations, or even roads and tanks, were the gifts of security, of peace, of law, and settled order. These blessings were travelling as fast as our rule advanced. I could not _then_ appeal to the cases of Thuggee extirpated, of the Pindanees (full fifteen thousand bloody murderers) forever exterminated, or of the Marhattas bridled forever--a robber nation that previously had descended at intervals with a force of sometimes one hundred and fifty thousand troopers upon the afflicted province of Bengal, and Oude its neighbor; because these were events as yet unborn. But they were the natural extensions of that beneficent system on which I rested my argument. The two terrors of India at that particular time were Holkar and Scindiah (pronounced _Sindy_), who were soon cut short in their career by the hostilities which they provoked with us, but would else have proved, in combination, a deadlier scourge to India than either Hyder or his ferocious son. My mother, in fact, a great reader of the poet Cowper, drew from _him_ her notions of Anglo-Indian policy and its effects. Cowper, in his "Task," puts the question,--


"Is India free? and does she wear her plumed
And jewelled turban with a smile of peace,
Or do we grind her still?"

Pretty much the same authority it is which the British public of this day has for its craze upon the subject of English oppression amongst the Hindoos.

My uncle, meantime, who from his Indian experience should reasonably have known so much better, was disposed, from the mere passive habits of hearing and reading unresistingly so many assaults of this tone against our Indian policy, to go along with my mother. But he was too just, when forced into reflection upon the subject, not to bend at times to my way of stating the case for England. Suddenly, however, our Indian discussions were brought to a close by the following incident. My uncle had brought with him to England some Arabian horses, and amongst them a beautiful young Persian mare, called Sumroo, the gentlest of her race. Sumroo it was that he happened to be riding, upon a frosty day. Unused to ice, she came down with him, and broke his right leg. This accident laid him up for a month, during which my mother and I read to him by turns. One book, which one day fell to my share by accident, was De Foe's "Memoirs of a Cavalier." This book attempts to give a picture of the Parliamentary war; but in some places an unfair, and everywhere a most superficial account. I said so; and my uncle, who had an old craze in behalf of the book, opposed me with asperity; and, in the course of what he said, under some movement of ill-temper, he asked me, in a way which I felt to be taunting, how I could consent to waste my time as I did. Without any answering warmth, I explained that my guardians, having quarrelled with me, would not grant for my use anything beyond my school allowance of one hundred pounds per annum. But was it not possible that even this sum might by economy be made to meet the necessities of the case? I replied that, from what I had heard, very probably it was. Would I undertake an Oxford life upon such terms? Most gladly, I said. Upon that opening he spoke to my mother; and the result was, that, within seven days from the above conversation, I found myself entering that time-honored university.


[The end]
Thomas De Quincey's essay: The Orphan Heiress

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