The Leigh family.--Preposterous charge against it.--Beautiful character in Fielding applied to Mr. Leigh by his son.--Author's birthplace, Southgate.--Dr. Trinder, clergyman and physician.--Question of sporting.--Character of Izaak Walton.--Cruelty of a cock- fighter.--Calais and infant heresy.--Porpoises and dolphins.--A despotic brother.--Supernatural fears in childhood.--Anecdote of an oath.--Martial toys.--Infant church-militant.--Manners and customs of the time.--Music and poetry.--Memories of songs.--Authors in vogue.--Pitt and Fox.--Lords and Commons.
I HAVE spoken of the Duke of Chandos, to whose nephew, Mr. Leigh, my father became tutor. Mr. Leigh, who gave me his name, was son of the duke's sister, Lady Caroline, and died a member of Parliament for Addlestrope. He was one of the kindest and gentlest of men, addicted to those tastes for poetry and sequestered pleasure, which have been conspicuous in his son, Lord Leigh; for all which reasons it would seem, and contrary to the usurping qualities in such cases made and provided, he and his family were subjected the other day to one of the most extraordinary charges that a defeated claim ever brought drunken witnesses to set up; no less than the murder and burial of a set of masons, who were employed in building a bridge, and whose destruction in the act of so doing was to bury both them and a monument which they knew of, for ever! To complete the romance of the tragedy, a lady, the wife of the usurper, presides over the catastrophe. She cries, "Let go," while the poor wretches are raising a stone at night-time, amidst a scene of torches and seclusion; and down goes the stone aided by this, tremendous father and son, and crushes the victims of her ambition! She meant, as Cowley says Goliah did of David,
"At once their murder and their monument."
If a charge of the most awful crimes could be dug up