I have been asked by the publishers who bring out this book to add yet a
mite to the mass of writing which has appeared in regard to the late
events, for how are the mighty fallen! and, as when an oak announces its
downfall through the forest, so here it was only natural that the little
fowl should fly and flap, with outcries (sometimes) of sharp shrillness!
Much, then, has been written and said; and if I now place my small word
with the books already sprung out of what we call "The Revival" and,
rather blatantly, the "Abolition of Christianity," my excuse lies in the
circumstance that during those storms I was much with Aubrey Langler,
and that, long before those events, I was probably his closest friend.
I can, therefore, give details as to that gracious life and the strifes
in which he had a hand not very possible to another writer.
It was my way to stay with Langler at least thrice a year. My crowded
town-life was a rude enough contrast with his eremite mood, so I rarely
failed to avail myself of his invitations. Of these he gave me one in
the August of the year of the Pope's visit, and shortly afterwards I
started for Alresford (Swandale lies five miles north-west of Alresford
There happened to travel in the rail-train with me a remarkable man:
certainly, I think that I never beheld a larger human being, except in
an exhibition. We were alone in my carriage, and I was able to take note
of him. His vast jacket was of satin, and from every button ran two
cords of silk, ending in a barrel-shaped ornament of silk, such as used,
I believe, to be called "frogs"; his shirt was frilled and limp; and he
wore four or five rings. This was enough to prove him a foreigner,
though otherwise his dress was ordinary. He sat with his fat legs wide
apart, smiling at the world in the most good-humoured, yet sneering way,
showing some very long top teeth.
All the time his hand travelled to and fro, fro and to, in a rub along
the tightly-clad length of his thigh.