Night and Morning, Volume 1

Produced by David Widger

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Book I



Much has been written by critics, especially by those in Germany (the
native land of criticism), upon the important question, whether to please
or to instruct should be the end of Fiction—whether a moral purpose is
or is not in harmony with the undidactic spirit perceptible in the higher
works of the imagination. And the general result of the discussion has
been in favour of those who have contended that Moral Design, rigidly so
called, should be excluded from the aims of the Poet; that his Art should
regard only the Beautiful, and be contented with the indirect moral
tendencies, which can never fail the creation of the Beautiful.
Certainly, in fiction, to interest, to please, and sportively to elevate
—to take man from the low passions, and the miserable troubles of life,
into a higher region, to beguile weary and selfish pain, to excite a
genuine sorrow at vicissitudes not his own, to raise the passions into
sympathy with heroic struggles—and to admit the soul into that serener
atmosphere from which it rarely returns to ordinary existence, without
some memory or association which ought to enlarge the domain of thought
and exalt the motives of action;—such, without other moral result or
object, may satisfy the Poet,* and constitute the highest and most
universal morality he can effect. But subordinate to this, which is not
the duty, but the necessity, of all Fiction that outlasts the hour, the
writer of imagination may well permit to himself other purposes and
objects, taking care that they be not too sharply defined, and too
obviously meant to contract the Poet into the Lecturer—the Fiction into
the Homily. The delight in Shylock is not less vivid for the Humanity it
latently but profoundly inculcates; the healthful merriment of the
Tartufe is not less enjoyed for the exposure of the Hypocrisy it
denounces. We need not demand from Shakespeare or from Moliere other
morality than that which Genius unconsciously throws around it—the
natural light which it reflects; but if some great principle which guides
us practically in the daily intercourse with men becomes in the general
lustre more clear and more pronounced, we gain doubly, by the general
tendency and the particular result.

*[I use the word Poet in its proper sense, as applicable to any
writer, whether in verse or prose, who invents or creates.]

Long since, in searching for new regions in the Art to which I am a
servant, it seemed to me that they might be found lying far, and rarely
trodden, beyond that range of conventional morality in which Novelist
after Novelist had entrenched himself—amongst those subtle recesses in
the ethics of human life in which Truth and Falsehood dwell undisturbed
and unseparated. The vast and dark Poetry around us—the Poetry of
Modern Civilisation and Daily Existence, is shut out from us in much, by
the shadowy giants of Prejudice and Fear. He who would arrive at the
Fairy Land must face the Phantoms. Betimes, I set myself to the task of
investigating the motley world to which our progress in humanity—has
attained, caring little what misrepresentation I incurred, what hostility
I provoked, in searching through a devious labyrinth for the foot-tracks
of Truth.

In the pursuit of this object, I am, not vainly, conscious that I have
had my influence on my time—that I have contributed, though humbly and
indirectly, to the benefits which Public Opinion has extorted from
Governments and Laws. While (to content myself with a single example)
the ignorant or malicious were decrying the moral of Paul Clifford, I
consoled myself with perceiving that its truths had stricken deep—that
many, whom formal essays might not reach, were enlisted by the picture
and the popular force of Fiction into the service of that large and
Catholic Humanity which frankly examines into the causes of crime, which
ameliorates the ills of society by seeking to amend the circumstances by
which they are occasioned; and commences the great work of justice to
mankind by proportioning the punishment to the offence. That work, I
know, had its share in the wise and great relaxation of our Criminal
Code—it has had its share in results yet more valuable, because leading
to more comprehensive reforms-viz., in the courageous facing of the ills
which the mock decorum of timidity would shun to contemplate, but which,
till fairly fronted, in the spirit of practical Christianity, sap daily,
more and more, the walls in which blind Indolence would protect itself
from restless Misery and rampant Hunger. For it is not till Art has told
the unthinking that nothing (rightly treated) is too low for its breath
to vivify and its wings to raise, that the Herd awaken from their chronic
lethargy of contempt, and the Lawgiver is compelled to redress what the
Poet has lifted into esteem. In thus enlarging the boundaries of the
Novelist, from trite and conventional to untrodden ends, I have seen, not
with the jealousy of an author, but with the pride of an Originator, that
I have served as a guide to later and abler writers, both in England and
abroad. If at times, while imitating, they have mistaken me, I am not.
answerable for their errors; or if, more often, they have improved where
they borrowed, I am not envious of their laurels. They owe me at least
this, that I prepared the way for their reception, and that they would
have been less popular and more misrepresented, if the outcry which
bursts upon the first researches into new directions had not exhausted
its noisy vehemence upon me.

In this Novel of Night and Morning I have had various ends in view—
subordinate, I grant, to the higher and more durable morality which
belongs to the Ideal, and instructs us playfully while it interests, in
the passions, and through the heart. First—to deal fearlessly with that
universal unsoundness in social justice which makes distinctions so
marked and iniquitous between Vice and Crime—viz., between the
corrupting habits and the violent act—which scarce touches the former
with the lightest twig in the fasces—which lifts against the latter the
edge of the Lictor’s axe. Let a child steal an apple in sport, let a
starveling steal a roll in despair, and Law conducts them to the Prison,
for evil commune to mellow them for the gibbet. But let a man spend one
apprenticeship from youth to old age in vice—let him devote a fortune,
perhaps colossal, to the wholesale demoralisation of his kind—and he may
be surrounded with the adulation of the so-called virtuous, and be served
upon its knee, by that Lackey—the Modern World! I say not that Law can,
or that Law should, reach the Vice as it does the Crime; but I say, that
Opinion may be more than the servile shadow of Law. I impress not here,
as in Paul Clifford, a material moral to work its effect on the
Journals, at the Hastings, through Constituents, and on Legislation;—I
direct myself to a channel less active, more tardy, but as sure—to the
Conscience—that reigns elder and superior to all Law, in men’s hearts
and souls;—I utter boldly and loudly a truth, if not all untold,
murmured feebly and falteringly before, sooner or later it will find its
way into the judgment and the conduct, and shape out a tribunal which
requires not robe or ermine.

Secondly—In this work I have sought to lift the mask from the timid
selfishness which too often with us bears the name of Respectability.
Purposely avoiding all attraction that may savour of extravagance,
patiently subduing every tone and every hue to the aspect of those whom
we meet daily in our thoroughfares, I have shown in Robert Beaufort the
man of decorous phrase and bloodless action—the systematic self-server—
in whom the world forgive the lack of all that is generous, warm, and
noble, in order to respect the passive acquiescence in methodical
conventions and hollow forms. And how common such men are with us in
this century, and how inviting and how necessary their delineation, may
be seen in this,—that the popular and pre-eminent Observer of the age in
which we live has since placed their prototype in vigorous colours upon
imperishable canvas.—[Need I say that I allude to the Pecksniff of Mr.

There is yet another object with which I have identified my tale. I
trust that I am not insensible to such advantages as arise from the
diffusion of education really sound, and knowledge really available;—for
these, as the right of my countrymen, I have contended always. But of
late years there has been danger that what ought to be an important truth
may be perverted into a pestilent fallacy. Whether for rich or for poor,
disappointment must ever await the endeavour to give knowledge without
labour, and experience without trial. Cheap literature and popular
treatises do not in themselves suffice to fit the nerves of man for the
strife below, and lift his aspirations, in healthful confidence above.
He who seeks to divorce toil from knowledge deprives knowledge of its
most valuable property.—the strengthening of the mind by exercise. We
learn what really braces and elevates us only in proportion to the effort
it costs us. Nor is it in Books alone, nor in Books chiefly, that we are
made conscious of our strength as Men; Life is the great Schoolmaster,
Experience the mighty Volume. He who has made one stern sacrifice of
self has acquired more than he will ever glean from the odds and ends of
popular philosophy. And the man the least scholastic may be more robust
in the power that is knowledge, and approach nearer to the Arch-Seraphim,
than Bacon himself, if he cling fast to two simple maxims—”Be honest in
temptation, and in Adversity believe in God.” Such moral, attempted
before in Eugene Aram, I have enforced more directly here; and out of
such convictions I have created hero and heroine, placing them in their
primitive and natural characters, with aid more from life than books,—
from courage the one, from affection the other—amidst the feeble
Hermaphrodites of our sickly civilisation;—examples of resolute Manhood
and tender Womanhood.

The opinions I have here put forth are not in fashion at this day. But I
have never consulted the popular any more than the sectarian, Prejudice.
Alone and unaided I have hewn out my way, from first to last, by the
force of my own convictions. The corn springs up in the field centuries
after the first sower is forgotten. Works may perish with the workman;
but, if truthful, their results are in the works of others, imitating,
borrowing, enlarging, and improving, in the everlasting Cycle of Industry
and Thought.

Knebworth, 1845.


I have nothing to add to the preceding pages, written six years ago, as
to the objects and aims of this work; except to say, and by no means as a
boast, that the work lays claims to one kind of interest which I
certainly never desired to effect for it—viz., in exemplifying the
glorious uncertainty of the Law. For, humbly aware of the blunders which
Novelists not belonging to the legal profession are apt to commit, when
they summon to the denouement of a plot the aid of a deity so
mysterious as Themis, I submitted to an eminent lawyer the whole case of
“Beaufort versus Beaufort,” as it stands in this Novel. And the pages
which refer to that suit were not only written from the opinion annexed
to the brief I sent in, but submitted to the eye of my counsel, and
revised by his pen.—(N.B. He was feed.) Judge then my dismay when I
heard long afterwards that the late Mr. O’Connell disputed the soundness
of the law I had thus bought and paid for! “Who shall decide when
doctors disagree?” All I can say is, that I took the best opinion that
love or money could get me; and I should add, that my lawyer, unawed by
the alleged ipse dixit of the great Agitator (to be sure, he is dead),
still stoutly maintains his own views of the question.

[I have, however, thought it prudent so far to meet the objection
suggested by Mr. O’Connell, as to make a slight alteration in this
edition, which will probably prevent the objection, if correct,
being of any material practical effect on the disposition of that
visionary El Dorado—the Beaufort Property.]

Let me hope that the right heir will live long enough to come under the
Statute of Limitations. Possession is nine points of the law, and Time
may give the tenth.




                    ”Noch in meines Lebens Lenze

                    War ich and ich wandert’ aus,

                    Und der Jugend frohe Tanze

                    Liess ich in des Vaters Haus.”

SCHILLER, Der Pilgrim.


               ”Now rests our vicar. They who knew him best,

               Proclaim his life to have been entirely rest;

               Not one so old has left this world of sin,

               More like the being that he entered in.”—CRABBE.

In one of the Welsh counties is a small village called A——. It is
somewhat removed from the high road, and is, therefore, but little known
to those luxurious amateurs of the picturesque, who view nature through
the windows of a carriage and four. Nor, indeed, is there anything,
whether of scenery or association, in the place itself, sufficient to
allure the more sturdy enthusiast from the beaten tracks which tourists
and guide-books prescribe to those who search the Sublime and Beautiful
amidst the mountain homes of the ancient Britons. Still, on the whole,
the village is not without its attractions. It is placed in a small
valley, through which winds and leaps down many a rocky fall, a clear,
babbling, noisy rivulet, that affords excellent sport to the brethren of
the angle. Thither, accordingly, in the summer season occasionally
resort the Waltons of the neighbourhood—young farmers, retired traders,
with now and then a stray artist, or a roving student from one of the
universities. Hence the solitary hostelry of A——, being somewhat more
frequented, is also more clean and comfortable than could reasonably be
anticipated from the insignificance and remoteness of the village.

At a time in which my narrative opens, the village boasted a sociable,
agreeable, careless, half-starved parson, who never failed to introduce
himself to any of the anglers who, during the summer months, passed a day
or two in the little valley. The Rev. Mr. Caleb Price had been educated
at the University of Cambridge, where he had contrived, in three years,
to run through a little fortune of L3500. It is true, that he acquired
in return the art of making milkpunch, the science of pugilism, and the
reputation of one of the best-natured, rattling, open-hearted companions
whom you could desire by your side in a tandem to Newmarket, or in a row
with the bargemen. By the help of these gifts and accomplishments, he
had not failed to find favour, while his money lasted, with the young
aristocracy of the “Gentle Mother.” And, though the very reverse of an
ambitious or calculating man, he had certainly nourished the belief that
some one of the “hats” or “tinsel gowns”—i.e., young lords or fellow-
commoners, with whom he was on such excellent terms, and who supped with
him so often, would do something for him in the way of a living. But it
so happened that when Mr. Caleb Price had, with a little difficulty,
scrambled through his degree, and found himself a Bachelor of Arts and at
the end of his finances, his grand acquaintances parted from him to their
various posts in the State Militant of Life. And, with the exception of
one, joyous and reckless as himself, Mr. Caleb Price found that when
Money makes itself wings it flies away with our friends. As poor Price
had earned no academical distinction, so he could expect no advancement
from his college; no fellowship; no tutorship leading hereafter to
livings, stalls, and deaneries. Poverty began already to stare him in
the face, when the only friend who, having shared his prosperity,
remained true to his adverse fate,—a friend, fortunately for him, of
high connections and brilliant prospects—succeeded in obtaining for him
the humble living of A——. To this primitive spot the once jovial
roisterer cheerfully retired—contrived to live contented upon an income
somewhat less than he had formerly given to his groom—preached very
short sermons to a very scanty and ignorant congregation, some of whom
only understood Welsh—did good to the poor and sick in his own careless,
slovenly way—and, uncheered or unvexed by wife and children, he rose in
summer with the lark and in winter went to bed at nine precisely, to save
coals and candles. For the rest, he was the most skilful angler in the
whole county; and so willing to communicate the results of his experience
as to the most taking colour of the flies, and the most favoured haunts
of the trout—that he had given especial orders at the inn, that whenever
any strange gentleman came to fish, Mr. Caleb Price should be immediately
sent for. In this, to be sure, our worthy pastor had his usual
recompense. First, if the stranger were tolerably liberal, Mr. Price was
asked to dinner at the inn; and, secondly, if this failed, from the
poverty or the churlishness of the obliged party, Mr. Price still had an
opportunity to hear the last news—to talk about the Great World—in a
word, to exchange ideas, and perhaps to get an old newspaper, or an odd
number of a magazine.

Now, it so happened that one afternoon in October, when the periodical
excursions of the anglers, becoming gradually rarer and more rare, had
altogether ceased, Mr. Caleb Price was summoned from his parlour in which
he had been employed in the fabrication of a net for his cabbages, by a
little white-headed boy, who came to say there was a gentleman at the inn
who wished immediately to see him—a strange gentleman, who had never
been there before.

Mr. Price threw down his net, seized his hat, and, in less than five
minutes, he was in the best room of the little inn.

The person there awaiting him was a man who, though plainly clad in a
velveteen shooting-jacket, had an air and mien greatly above those common
to the pedestrian visitors of A——. He was tall, and of one of those
athletic forms in which vigour in youth is too often followed by
corpulence in age. At this period, however, in the full prime of
manhood—the ample chest and sinewy limbs, seen to full advantage in
their simple and manly dress—could not fail to excite that popular
admiration which is always given to strength in the one sex as to
delicacy in the other. The stranger was walking impatiently to and fro
the small apartment when Mr. Price entered; and then, turning to the
clergyman a countenance handsome and striking, but yet more prepossessing
from its expression of frankness than from the regularity of its
features,—he stopped short, held out his hand, and said, with a gay
laugh, as he glanced over the parson’s threadbare and slovenly costume,
“My poor Caleb!—what a metamorphosis!—I should not have known you

“What! you! Is it possible, my dear fellow?—how glad I am to see you!

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