Mr. Falkland had experienced the nullity of all expostulation with Mr. Tyrrel, and was therefore content in the present case with confining his attention to the intended victim. The indignation with which he thought of his neighbour’s character was now grown to such a height, as to fill him with reluctance to the idea of a voluntary interview. There was indeed another affair which had been contemporary with this, that had once more brought these mortal enemies into a state of contest, and had contributed to raise into a temper little short of madness, the already inflamed and corrosive bitterness of Mr. Tyrrel.
There was a tenant of Mr. Tyrrel, one Hawkins; — I cannot mention his name without recollecting the painful tragedies that are annexed to it! This Hawkins had originally been taken up by Mr. Tyrrel, with a view of protecting him from the arbitrary proceedings of a neighbouring squire, though he had now in his turn become an object of persecution to Mr. Tyrrel himself. The first ground of their connection was this:— Hawkins, beside a farm which he rented under the above-mentioned squire, had a small freehold estate that he inherited from his father. This of course entitled him to a vote in the county elections; and, a warmly contested election having occurred, he was required by his landlord to vote for the candidate in whose favour he had himself engaged. Hawkins refused to obey the mandate, and soon after received notice to quit the farm he at that time rented.
It happened that Mr. Tyrrel had interested himself strongly in behalf of the opposite candidate; and, as Mr. Tyrrel’s estate bordered upon the seat of Hawkins’s present residence, the ejected countryman could think of no better expedient than that of riding over to this gentleman’s mansion, and relating the case to him. Mr. Tyrrel heard him through with attention. “Well, friend,” said he, “it is very true that I wished Mr. Jackman to carry his election; but you know it is usual in these cases for tenants to vote just as their landlords please. I do not think proper to encourage rebellion.”—“All that is very right, and please you,” replied Hawkins, “and I would have voted at my landlord’s bidding for any other man in the kingdom but Squire Marlow. You must know one day his huntsman rode over my fence, and so through my best field of standing corn. It was not above a dozen yards about if he had kept the cart-road. The fellow had served me the same sauce, an it please your honour, three or four times before. So I only asked him what he did that for, and whether he had not more conscience than to spoil people’s crops o’ that fashion? Presently the squire came up. He is but a poor, weazen-face chicken of a gentleman, saving your honour’s reverence. And so he flew into a woundy passion, and threatened to horsewhip me. I will do as much in reason to pleasure my landlord as arr a tenant he has; but I will not give my vote to a man that threatens to horsewhip me. And so, your honour, I and my wife and three children are to be turned out of house and home, and what I am to do to maintain them God knows. I have been a hard-working man, and have always lived well, and I do think the case is main hard. Squire Underwood turns me out of my farm; and if your honour do not take me in, I know none of the neighbouring gentry will, for fear, as they say, of encouraging their own tenants to run rusty too.”
This representation was not without its effect upon Mr. Tyrrel. “Well, well, man,” replied he, “we will see what can be done. Order and subordination are very good things; but people should know how much to require. As you tell the story, I cannot see that you are greatly to blame. Marlow is a coxcombical prig, that is the truth on’t; and if a man will expose himself, why, he must even take what follows. I do hate a Frenchified fop with all my soul: and I cannot say that I am much pleased with my neighbour Underwood for taking the part of such a rascal. Hawkins, I think, is your name? You may call on Barnes, my steward, tomorrow, and he shall speak to you.”
While Mr. Tyrrel was speaking, he recollected that he had a farm vacant, of nearly the same value as that which Hawkins at present rented under Mr. Underwood. He immediately consulted his steward, and, finding the thing suitable in every respect, Hawkins was installed out of hand in the catalogue of Mr. Tyrrel’s tenants. Mr. Underwood extremely resented this proceeding, which indeed, as being contrary to the understood conventions of the country gentlemen, few people but Mr. Tyrrel would have ventured upon. There was an end, said Mr. Underwood, to all regulation, if tenants were to be encouraged in such disobedience. It was not a question of this or that candidate, seeing that any gentleman, who was a true friend to his country, would rather lose his election than do a thing which, if once established into a practice, would deprive them for ever of the power of managing any election. The labouring people were sturdy and resolute enough of their own accord; it became every day more difficult to keep them under any subordination; and, if the gentlemen were so ill advised as to neglect the public good, and encourage them in their insolence, there was no foreseeing where it would end.
Mr. Tyrrel was not of a stamp to be influenced by these remonstrances. Their general spirit was sufficiently conformable to the sentiments he himself entertained; but he was of too vehement a temper to maintain the character of a consistent politician; and, however wrong his conduct might be, he would by no means admit of its being set right by the suggestions of others. The more his patronage of Hawkins was criticised, the more inflexibly he adhered to it; and he was at no loss in clubs and other assemblies to overbear and silence, if not to confute, his censurers. Beside which, Hawkins had certain accomplishments which qualified him to be a favourite with Mr. Tyrrel. The bluntness of his manner and the ruggedness of his temper gave him some resemblance to his landord; and, as these qualities were likely to be more frequently exercised on such persons as had incurred Mr. Tyrrel’s displeasure, than upon Mr. Tyrrel himself, they were not observed without some degree of complacency. In a word, he every day received new marks of distinction from his patron, and after some time was appointed coadjutor to Mr. Barnes under the denomination of bailiff. It was about the same period that he obtained a lease of the farm of which he was tenant.
Mr. Tyrrel determined, as occasion offered, to promote every part of the family of this favoured dependent. Hawkins had a son, a lad of seventeen, of an agreeable person, a ruddy complexion, and of quick and lively parts. This lad was in an uncommon degree the favourite of his father, who seemed to have nothing so much at heart as the future welfare of his son. Mr. Tyrrel had noticed him two or three times with approbation; and the boy, being fond of the sports of the field, had occasionally followed the hounds, and displayed various instances, both of agility and sagacity, in presence of the squire. One day in particular he exhibited himself with uncommon advantage; and Mr. Tyrrel without further delay proposed to his father, to take him into his family, and make him whipper-in to his hounds, till he could provide him with some more lucrative appointment in his service.
This proposal was received by Hawkins with various marks of mortification. He excused himself with hesitation for not accepting the offered favour; said the lad was in many ways useful to him; and hoped his honour would not insist upon depriving him of his assistance. This apology might perhaps have been sufficient with any other man than Mr. Tyrrel; but it was frequently observed of this gentleman that, when he had once formed a determination, however slight, in favour of any measure, he was never afterwards known to give it up, and that the only effect of opposition was to make him eager and inflexible, in pursuit of that to which he had before been nearly indifferent. At first he seemed to receive the apology of Hawkins with good humour, and to see nothing in it but what was reasonable; but afterwards, every time he saw the boy, his desire of retaining him in his service was increased, and he more than once repeated to his father the good disposition in which he felt himself towards him. At length he observed that the lad was no more to be seen mingling in his favourite sports, and he began to suspect that this originated in a determination to thwart him in his projects.
Roused by this suspicion, which, to a man of Mr. Tyrrel’s character, was not of a nature to brook delay, he sent for Hawkins to confer with him. “Hawkins,” said he, in a tone of displeasure, “I am not satisfied with you. I have spoken to you two or three times about this lad of yours, whom I am desirous of taking into favour. What is the reason, sir, that you seem unthankful and averse to my kindness? You ought to know that I am not to be trifled with. I shall not be contented, when I offer my favours, to have them rejected by such fellows as you. I made you what you are; and, if I please, can make you more helpless and miserable than you were when I found you. Have a care!”
“An it please your honour,” said Hawkins, “you have been a very good master to me, and I will tell you the whole truth. I hope you will na be angry. This lad is my favourite, my comfort, and the stay of my age.”
“Well, and what then? Is that a reason you should hinder his preferment?”
“Nay, pray your honour, hear me. I may be very weak for aught I know in this case, but I cannot help it. My father was a clergyman. We have all of us lived in a creditable way; and I cannot bear to think that this poor lad of mine should go to service. For my part, I do not see any good that comes by servants. I do not know, your honour, but, I think, I should not like my Leonard to be such as they. God forgive me, if I wrong them! But this is a very dear case, and I cannot bear to risk my poor boy’s welfare, when I can so easily, if you please, keep him out or harm’s way. At present he is sober and industrious, and, without being pert or surly, knows what is due to him. I know, your honour, that it is main foolish of me to talk to you thus; but your honour has been a good master to me, and I cannot bear to tell you a lie.”
Mr. Tyrrel had heard the whole of this harangue in silence, because he was too much astonished to open his mouth. If a thunderbolt had fallen at his feet, he could not have testified greater surprise. He had thought that Hawkins was so foolishly fond of his son, that he could not bear to trust him out of his presence; but had never in the slightest degree suspected what he now found to be the truth.
“Oh, ho, you are a gentleman, are you? A pretty gentleman truly! your father was a clergyman! Your family is too good to enter into my service! Why you impudent rascal! was it for this that I took you up, when Mr. Underwood dismissed you for your insolence to him? Have I been nursing a viper in my bosom? Pretty master’s manners will be contaminated truly? He will not know what is due to him, but will be accustomed to obey orders! You insufferable villain! Get out of my sight! Depend upon it, I will have no gentlemen on my estate! I will off with them, root and branch, bag and baggage! So do you hear, sir? come to me tomorrow morning, bring your son, and ask my pardon; or, take my word for it, I will make you so miserable, you shall wish you had never been born.”
This treatment was too much for Hawkins’s patience. “There is no need, your honour, that I should come to you again about this affair. I have taken up my determination, and no time can make any change in it. I am main sorry to displease your worship, and I know that you can do me a great deal of mischief. But I hope you will not be so hardhearted as to ruin a father only for being fond of his child, even if so be that his fondness should make him do a foolish thing. But I cannot help it, your honour: you must do as you please. The poorest neger, as a man may say, has some point that he will not part with. I will lose all that I have, and go to day-labour, and my son too, if needs must; but I will not make a gentleman’s servant of him.”
“Very well, friend; very well!” replied Mr. Tyrrel, foaming with rage. “Depend upon it, I will remember you! Your pride shall have a downfal! God damn it! is it come to this? Shall a rascal that farms his forty acres, pretend to beard the lord of the manor? I will tread you into paste! Let me advise you, scoundrel, to shut up your house and fly, as if the devil was behind you! You may think yourself happy, if I be not too quick for you yet, if you escape in a whole skin! I would not suffer such a villain to remain upon my land a day longer, if I could gain the Indies by it!”
“Not so fast, your honour,” answered Hawkins, sturdily. “I hope you will think better of it, and see that I have not been to blame. But if you should not, there is some harm that you can do me, and some harm that you cannot. Though I am a plain, working man, your honour, do you see? yet I am a man still. No; I have got a lease of my farm, and I shall not quit it o’ thaten. I hope there is some law for poor folk, as well as for rich.”
Mr. Tyrrel, unused to contradiction, was provoked beyond bearing at the courage and independent spirit of his retainer. There was not a tenant upon his estate, or at least not one of Hawkins’s mediocrity of fortune, whom the general policy of landowners, and still more the arbitrary and uncontrollable temper of Mr. Tyrrel, did not effectually restrain from acts of open defiance.
“Excellent, upon my soul! God damn my blood! but you are a rare fellow. You have a lease, have you? You will not quit, not you! a pretty pass things are come to, if a lease can protect such fellows as you against the lord of a manor! But you are for a trial of skill? Oh, very well, friend, very well! With all my soul! Since it is come to that, we will show you some pretty sport before we have done! But get out of my sight, you rascal! I have not another word to say to you! Never darken my doors again.”
Hawkins (to borrow the language of the world) was guilty in this affair of a double imprudence. He talked to his landlord in a more peremptory manner than the constitution and practices of this country allow a dependent to assume. But above all, having been thus hurried away by his resentment, he ought to have foreseen the consequences. It was mere madness in him to think of contesting with a man of Mr. Tyrrel’s eminence and fortune. It was a fawn contending with a lion. Nothing could have been more easy to predict, than that it was of no avail for him to have right on his side, when his adversary had influence and wealth, and therefore could so victoriously justify any extravagancies that he might think proper to commit. This maxim was completely illustrated in the sequel. Wealth and despotism easily know how to engage those laws as the coadjutors of their oppression, which were perhaps at first intended [witless and miserable precaution!] for the safeguards of the poor.
From this moment Mr Tyrrel was bent upon Hawkins’s destruction; and he left no means unemployed that could either harass or injure the object of his persecution. He deprived him of his appointment of bailiff, and directed Barnes and his other dependents to do him ill offices upon all occasions. Mr. Tyrrel, by the tenure of his manor, was impropriator of the great tithes, and this circumstance afforded him frequent opportunities of petty altercation. The land of one part of Hawkins’s farm, though covered with corn, was lower than the rest; and consequently exposed to occasional inundations from a river by which it was bounded. Mr. Tyrrel had a dam belonging to this river privately cut, about a fortnight before the season of harvest, and laid the whole under water. He ordered his servants to pull away the fences of the higher ground during the night, and to turn in his cattle, to the utter destruction of the crop. These expedients, however, applied to only one part of the property of this unfortunate man. But Mr. Tyrrel did not stop here. A sudden mortality took place among Hawkins’s live stock, attended with very suspicious circumstances. Hawkins’s vigilance was strongly excited by this event, and he at length succeeded in tracing the matter so accurately, that he conceived he could bring it home to Mr. Tyrrel himself.
Hawkins had hitherto carefully avoided, notwithstanding the injuries he had suffered, the attempting to right himself by legal process; being of opinion that law was better adapted for a weapon of tyranny in the hands of the rich, than for a shield to protect the humbler part of the community against their usurpations. In this last instance however he conceived that the offence was so atrocious, as to make it impossible that any rank could protect the culprit against the severity of justice. In the sequel, he saw reason to applaud himself for his former inactivity in this respect, and to repent that any motive had been strong enough to persuade him into a contrary system.
This was the very point to which Mr. Tyrrel wanted to bring him, and he could scarcely credit his good fortune, when he was told that Hawkins had entered an action. His congratulation upon this occasion was immoderate, as he now conceived that the ruin of his late favourite was irretrievable. He consulted his attorney, and urged him by every motive he could devise, to employ the whole series of his subterfuges in the present affair. The direct repelling of the charge exhibited against him was the least part of his care; the business was, by affidavits, motions, pleas, demurrers, flaws, and appeals, to protract the question from term to term, and from court to court. It would, as Mr. Tyrrel argued, be the disgrace of a civilized country, if a gentleman, when insolently attacked in law by the scum of the earth, could not convert the cause into a question of the longest purse, and stick in the skirts of his adversary till he had reduced him to beggary.
Mr. Tyrrel, however, was by no means so far engrossed by his law-suit, as to neglect other methods of proceeding offensively against his tenant. Among the various expedients that suggested themselves, there was one, which, though it tended rather to torment than irreparably injure the sufferer, was not rejected. This was derived from the particular situation of Hawkins’s house, barns, stacks, and outhouses. They were placed at the extremity of a slip of land connecting them with the rest of the farm, and were surrounded on three sides by fields, in the occupation of one of Mr. Tyrrel’s tenants most devoted to the pleasures of his landlord. The road to the market-town ran at the bottom of the largest of these fields, and was directly in view of the front of the house. No inconvenience had yet arisen from that circumstance, as there had always been a broad path, that intersected this field, and led directly from Hawkins’s house to the road. This path, or private road, was now, by concert of Mr. Tyrrel and his obliging tenant, shut up, so as to make Hawkins a sort of prisoner in his own domains, and oblige him to go near a mile about for the purposes of his traffic.
Young Hawkins, the lad who had been the original subject of dispute between his father and the squire, had much of his father’s spirit, and felt an uncontrollable indignation against the successive acts of despotism of which he was a witness. His resentment was the greater, because the sufferings to which his parent was exposed, all of them flowed from affection to him, at the same time that he could not propose removing the ground of dispute, as by so doing he would seem to fly in the face of his father’s paternal kindness. Upon the present occasion, without asking any counsel but of his own impatient resentment, he went in the middle of the night, and removed all the obstructions that had been placed in the way of the old path, broke the padlocks that had been fixed, and threw open the gates.
In these operations he did not proceed unobserved, and the next day a warrant was issued for apprehending him. He was accordingly carried before a meeting of justices, and by them committed to the county gaol, to take his trial for the felony at the next assizes. Mr. Tyrrel was determined to prosecute the offence with the greatest severity; and his attorney, having made the proper enquiries for that purpose, undertook to bring it under that clause of the act 9 Geo. I. commonly called the Black Act, which declares that “any person, armed with a sword, or other offensive weapon, and having his face blackened, or being otherwise disguised, appearing in any warren or place where hares or conies have been or shall be usually kept, and being thereof duly convicted, shall be adjudged guilty of felony, and shall suffer death, as in cases of felony, without benefit of clergy.” Young Hawkins, it seemed, had buttoned the cape of his great coat over his face, as soon as he perceived himself to be observed, and he was furnished with a wrenching-iron for the purpose of breaking the padlocks. The attorney further undertook to prove, by sufficient witnesses, that the field in question was a warren in which hares were regularly fed. Mr. Tyrrel seized upon these pretences with inexpressible satisfaction. He prevailed upon the justices, by the picture he drew of the obstinacy and insolence of the Hawkinses, fully to commit the lad upon this miserable charge; and it was by no means so certain as paternal affection would have desired, that the same overpowering influence would not cause in the sequel the penal clause to be executed in all its strictness.
This was the finishing stroke to Hawkins’s miseries: as he was not deficient in courage, he had stood up against his other persecutions without flinching. He was not unaware of the advantages which our laws and customs give to the rich over the poor, in contentions of this kind. But, being once involved, there was a stubbornness in his nature that would not allow him to retract, and he suffered himself to hope, rather than expect, a favourable issue. But in this last event he was wounded in the point that was nearest his heart. He had feared to have his son contaminated and debased by a servile station, and he now saw him transferred to the seminary of a gaol. He was even uncertain as to the issue of his imprisonment, and trembled to think what the tyranny of wealth might effect to blast his hopes for ever.
From this moment his heart died within him. He had trusted to persevering industry and skill, to save the wreck of his little property from the vulgar spite of his landlord. But he had now no longer any spirit to exert those efforts which his situation more than ever required. Mr. Tyrrel proceeded without remission in his machinations; Hawkins’s affairs every day grew more desperate, and the squire, watching the occasion, took the earliest opportunity of seizing upon his remaining property in the mode of a distress for rent.
It was precisely in this stage of the affair, that Mr. Falkland and Mr. Tyrrel accidentally met, in a private road near the habitation of the latter. They were on horseback, and Mr. Falkland was going to the house of the unfortunate tenant, who seemed upon the point of perishing under his landlord’s malice. He had been just made acquainted with the tale of this persecution. It had indeed been an additional aggravation of Hawkins’s calamity, that Mr. Falkland, whose interference might otherwise have saved him, had been absent from the neighbourhood for a considerable time. He had been three months in London, and from thence had gone to visit his estates in another part of the island. The proud and self-confident spirit of this poor fellow always disposed him to depend, as long as possible, upon his own exertions. He had avoided applying to Mr. Falkland, or indeed indulging himself in any manner in communicating and bewailing his hard hap, in the beginning of the contention, and, when the extremity grew more urgent, and he would have been willing to recede in some degree from the stubbornness of his measures, he found it no longer in his power. After an absence of considerable duration, Mr. Falkland at length returned somewhat unexpectedly; and having learned, among the first articles of country intelligence, the distresses of this unfortunate yeoman, he resolved to ride over to his house the next morning, and surprise him with all the relief it was in his power to bestow.
At sight of Mr. Tyrrel in this unexpected rencounter, his face reddened with indignation. His first feeling, as he afterwards said, was to avoid him; but finding that he must pass him, he conceived that it would be want of spirit not to acquaint him with his feelings on the present occasion.
“Mr. Tyrrel,” said he, somewhat abruptly, “I am sorry for a piece of news which I have just heard.”
“And pray, sir, what is your sorrow to me?”
“A great deal, sir: it is caused by the distresses of a poor tenant of yours, Hawkins. If your steward have proceeded without your authority, I think it right to inform you what he has done; and, if he have had your authority, I would gladly persuade you to think better of it.”
“Mr. Falkland, it would be quite as well if you would mind your own business, and leave me to mind mine. I want no monitor, and I will have none.”
“You mistake, Mr. Tyrrel; I am minding my own business. If I see you fall into a pit, it is my business to draw you out and save your life. If I see you pursuing a wrong mode of conduct, it is my business to set you right and save your honour.”
“Zounds, sir, do not think to put your conundrums upon me! Is not the man my tenant? Is not my estate my own? What signifies calling it mine, if I am not to have the direction of it? Sir, I pay for what I have: I owe no man a penny; and I will not put my estate to nurse to you, nor the best he that wears a head.”
“It is very true,” said Mr. Falkland, avoiding any direct notice of the last words of Mr. Tyrrel, “that there is a distinction of ranks. I believe that distinction is a good thing, and necessary to the peace of mankind. But, however necessary it may be, we must acknowledge that it puts some hardship upon the lower orders of society. It makes one’s heart ache to think, that one man is born to the inheritance of every superfluity, while the whole share of another, without any demerit of his, is drudgery and starving; and that all this is indispensable. We that are rich, Mr. Tyrrel, must do every thing in our power to lighten the yoke of these unfortunate people. We must not use the advantage that accident has given us with an unmerciful hand. Poor wretches! they are pressed almost beyond bearing as it is; and, if we unfeelingly give another turn to the machine, they will be crushed into atoms.”
This picture was not without its effect, even upon the obdurate mind of Mr. Tyrrel. —“Well, sir, I am no tyrant. I know very well that tyranny is a bad thing. But you do not infer from thence that these people are to do as they please, and never meet with their deserts?”
“Mr. Tyrrel, I see that you are shaken in your animosity. Suffer me to hail the new-born benevolence of your nature. Go with me to Hawkins. Do not let us talk of his deserts! Poor fellow! he has suffered almost all that human nature can endure. Let your forgiveness upon this occasion be the earnest of good neighbourhood and friendship between you and me.”
“No, sir, I will not go. I own there is something in what you say. I always knew you had the wit to make good your own story, and tell a plausible tale. But I will not be come over thus. It has been my character, when I had once conceived a scheme of vengeance, never to forego it; and I will not change that character. I took up Hawkins when every body forsook him, and made a man of him; and the ungrateful rascal has only insulted me for my pains. Curse me, if I ever forgive him! It would be a good jest indeed, if I were to forgive the insolence of my own creature at the desire of a man like you that has been my perpetual plague.”
“For God’s sake, Mr. Tyrrel, have some reason in your resentment! Let us suppose that Hawkins has behaved unjustifiably, and insulted you: is that an offence that never can be expiated? Must the father be ruined, and the son hanged, to glut your resentment?”
“Damn me, sir, but you may talk your heart out; you shall get nothing of me. I shall never forgive myself for having listened to you for a moment. I will suffer nobody to stop the stream of my resentment; if I ever were to forgive him, it should be at nobody’s, entreaty but my own. But, sir, I never will. If he and all his family were at my feet, I would order them all to be hanged the next minute, if my power were as good as my will.”
“And this is your decision, is it? Mr. Tyrrel, I am ashamed of you! Almighty God! to hear you talk gives one a loathing for the institutions and regulations of society, and would induce one to fly the very face of man! But, no! society casts you out; man abominates you. No wealth, no rank, can buy out your stain. You will live deserted in the midst of your species; you will go into crowded societies, and no one will deign so much as to salute you. They will fly from your glance as they would from the gaze of a basilisk. Where do you expect to find the hearts of flint that shall sympathise with yours? You have the stamp of misery, incessant, undivided, unpitied misery!”
Thus saying, Mr. Falkland gave spurs to his horse, rudely pushed beside Mr. Tyrrel, and was presently out of sight. Flaming indignation annihilated even his favourite sense of honour, and he regarded his neighbour as a wretch, with whom it was impossible even to enter into contention. For the latter, he remained for the present motionless and petrified. The glowing enthusiasm of Mr. Falkland was such as might well have unnerved the stoutest foe. Mr. Tyrrel, in spite of himself, was blasted with the compunctions of guilt, and unable to string himself for the contest. The picture Mr. Falkland had drawn was prophetic. It described what Mr. Tyrrel chiefly feared; and what in its commencements he thought he already felt. It was responsive to the whispering of his own meditations; it simply gave body and voice to the spectre that haunted him, and to the terrors of which he was an hourly prey.
By and by, however, he recovered. The more he had been temporarily confounded, the fiercer was his resentment when he came to himself. Such hatred never existed in a human bosom without marking its progress with violence and death. Mr. Tyrrel, however, felt no inclination to have recourse to personal defiance. He was the furthest in the world from a coward; but his genius sunk before the genius of Falkland. He left his vengeance to the disposal of circumstances. He was secure that his animosity would never be forgotten nor diminished by the interposition of any time or events. Vengeance was his nightly dream, and the uppermost of his waking thoughts.
Mr. Falkland had departed from this conference with a confirmed disapprobation of the conduct of his neighbour, and an unalterable resolution to do every thing in his power to relieve the distresses of Hawkins. But he was too late. When he arrived, he found the house already evacuated by its master. The family was removed nobody knew whither; Hawkins had absconded, and, what was still more extraordinary, the boy Hawkins had escaped on the very same day from the county gaol. The enquiries Mr. Falkland set on foot after them were fruitless; no traces could be found of the catastrophe of these unhappy people. That catastrophe I shall shortly have occasion to relate, and it will be found pregnant with horror, beyond what the blackest misanthropy could readily have suggested.
I go on with my tale. I go on to relate those incidents in which my own fate was so mysteriously involved. I lift the curtain, and bring forward the last act of the tragedy.
Last updated Thursday, October 22, 2015 at 14:24