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Inn, on the Mendip Hills. The history of the
giant cheese, from this moment, becomes exceedingly
obscure. Individual testimony fades away,
and report- the vaguest kind of report- only
stands in its place. This report asserts that the
giant cheese was tried, and found lamentably
wanting. Its greatest friends, after tasting it,
could not conscientiously pronounce it to be first-
rate. It went the way of all giants, leviathans,
mammoths, and nine-days' wonders. Let us draw
a veil over its wretched ending: it was given to
the pigs.

Though dead, and consumed in every material
sense, like many more once famous animate and
inanimate giants, it still lives again in immortal
verse. His grace the Duke of Woodlands
composed a song about it, which he had wedded
to immortal music, and which, after the fashion
of Homer, he was proud of singing to himself.


I SUPPOSE I write this in the desperate hope
of awakening sympathy in some human heart,
albeit I shall never know it. It is a dreadful
thing to go to the gallows abhorred by everybody:
it is a more dreadful thing to have
deserved it.

Not the gallows! it is not that I am afraid of.
When I heard the words, " To be hanged by the
neck till you are dead," I could have blessed
the judge for that righteous and most merciful
sentence. Anything to escape from the intolerable
loathing of my fellow-creatures! Yet
there is not one of them who, in detestation
of my crime, has less of pity for me than I
myself. The thought of pain, of suffering by way
of expiation, is a relief to me; I would have it
crueler, more shameful, if it might be. No
horror that could be inflicted, would compare
with the tremendous agony of living on, after
such a deed. I must hope, as I suppose we all
do, that death will bring some change involving,
if not pardon and peace, some oblivion of the
unendurable present. At times, I fancy it will
all prove a dreadful dream; that I never did it.

I set out to relate how it happened. As no
eye will read this until the hand which writes it,
is mouldering in the grave, I can have no object
to serve but the avowed one of soliciting a grain
of compassion, which, I know, can never be
accorded while I live.

From my childhood, as far back as I can
remember, I was of an eager, passionate nature,
impulsive to a degree which would often have
covered me with confusion and ridicule, but for
the check of an unconquerable shyness, partly
inherent, partly the result of circumstances. A
plain-featured, awkward boy, a posthumous son
by my mother's first marriage (she wedded again
in the second year of her widowhood), my
surroundings might have been happier. I was
brought up strictly rather than affectionately,
under the care of a stepfather. He ruled
his family absolutely, but with as much
justice as was consonant with a certain narrow-
mindedness common to men of his stamp. I
think his creed, one of the severest as regards
this life and the next, intensified this defect of
his nature; I am sure it did not make him, or my
mother, or me, any better or happier. She had
not sufficient force of character, and respected
that of her husband too much to attempt or to
effect any modification of it. So he had his own
way in everything.

I never loved my stepfather. His relation to
me had, I believe, no share in influencing my
feelings; they would have been the same had he
been my real father: indeed I always considered
him as such. I may have taken advantage of
the fact of my paternity in disobeying him in
after life, but I certainly dared not do it then.

Ours was a dull household: mine was a sombre
boyhood. I had plenty of repression, little love;
that little bestowed timidly by my mother, the
instincts of whose heart were wiser than the
dictates of her husband's head. I believe her
child stood paramount in her affections, and that
she had given him a stepfather for his sake,
rather than her own, being left very poor at her
husband's decease. But she never exhibited
this partiality so openly as to excite his successor's
suspicion or jealousy. He might have
grown kinder if he had had children of his own;
but, with the exception of a baby which died in
its infancy, my mother brought him none. I have
heard that he seemed sorry and disappointed at

We lived in London, but saw little or no
company, went to no parties, balls, theatres, or
entertainments, my stepfather's creed and
inclination disposing him against all such
indulgences. He sent me to a good day-school,
kept me to my tasks at home, allowed me no
more play that could be prevented, and hated
all books, except " serious" ones. " A pack of
lies and nonsense," was his ordinary denunciation
of works of fiction. I read them secretly,
when the opportunity offered; they afford me
almost the only pleasant retrospection I retain
of my boy-days. I mention these things but
in illustration of the circumstances amid which
my character was formed.

Passionate, impulsive, and shy, these, I
repeat, were its predominant features; the latter
resulting from my comparative isolation from
youth of my own age, and from a consciousness
of awkwardness and plainness of feature. I
was joked on both suojects by my schoolfellows
until I became angrily sensitive to them,
and painfully confirmed in my shame-facedness.
This, and the repressive influences at home,
induced a morbid habit of reserve, which my
approbativeness often burst through, to my
subsequent chagrin and mortification. As any
indication of temper brought correction or sharp
comment from my stepfather, I had additional
reason for self-control, but, until manhood, I
never attained much more than the semblance
of it. Then it deceived people, and in some
degree myself, with respect to my disposition.
If none ot this had been forced upon me, if my
eager, ardent nature had been allowed healthy
vent; if what was good within me had ripened