Crotchet Castle HTML version

to think that his name was Edward Matthew. The more effectually to sink the
Mac, he christened his villa "Crotchet Castle," and determined to hand down to
posterity the honours of Crotchet of Crotchet. He found it essential to his dignity
to furnish himself with a coat of arms, which, after the proper ceremonies
(payment being the principal), he obtained, videlicet: Crest, a crotchet rampant,
in A sharp; Arms, three empty bladders, turgescent, to show how opinions are
formed; three bags of gold, pendent, to show why they are maintained; three
naked swords, tranchant, to show how they are administered; and three barbers'
blocks, gaspant, to show how they are swallowed.
Mr. Crotchet was left a widower, with two children; and, after the death of his
wife, so strong was his sense of the blessed comfort she had been to him, that
he determined never to give any other woman an opportunity of obliterating the
happy recollection.
He was not without a plausible pretence for styling his villa a castle, for, in its
immediate vicinity, and within his own enclosed domain, were the manifest
traces, on the brow of the hill, of a Roman station, or castellum, which was still
called the "Castle" by the country people. The primitive mounds and trenches,
merely overgrown with greensward, with a few patches of juniper and box on the
vallum, and a solitary ancient beech surmounting the place of the praetorium,
presented nearly the same depths, heights, slopes, and forms, which the Roman
soldiers had originally given them. From this cartel Mr. Crotchet christened his
villa. With his rustic neighbours he was, of course, immediately and necessarily a
squire: Squire Crotchet of the Castle; and he seemed to himself to settle down as
naturally into an English country gentleman, as if his parentage had been as
innocent of both Scotland and Jerusalem, as his education was of Rome and
But as, though you expel nature with a pitch-fork, she will yet always come back;
he could not become, like a true-born English squire, part and parcel of the
barley-giving earth; he could not find in game-bagging, poacher-shooting,
trespasser-pounding, footpath-stopping, common-enclosing, rack-renting, and all
the other liberal pursuits and pastimes which make a country gentleman an
ornament to the world and a blessing to the poor: he could not find in these
valuable and amiable occupations, and in a corresponding range of ideas, nearly
commensurate with that of the great King Nebuchadnezzar when he was turned
out to grass; he could not find in this great variety of useful action, and vast field
of comprehensive thought, modes of filling up his time that accorded with his
Caledonian instinct. The inborn love of disputation, which the excitements and
engagements of a life of business had smothered, burst forth through the calmer
surface of a rural life. He grew as fain as Captain Jamy, "to hear some argument
betwixt ony tway," and being very hospitable in his establishment, and liberal in
his invitations, a numerous detachment from the advanced guard of the "march
of intellect," often marched down to Crotchet Castle.
When the fashionable season filled London with exhibitors of all descriptions,
lecturers and else, Mr. Crotchet was in his glory; for, in addition to the perennial
literati of the metropolis, he had the advantage of the visits of a number of hardy
annuals, chiefly from the north, who, as the interval of their metropolitan flowering