Read CHAPTER III of The Life and Romances of Mrs. Eliza Haywood, free online book, by George Frisbie Whicher, on


Only once did Eliza Haywood compete with Defoe upon the same ground. Both novelists were alive to the value of sensational matter, but as we have seen, appealed to the reader’s emotional nature from different sides. Defoe with his strong interest in practical life looked for stirring incidents, for strange and surprising adventures on land and sea, for unusual or uncanny occurrences; whereas Mrs. Haywood, less a journalist than a romancer, rested her claim to public favor upon the secure basis of the tender passions. In the books exploiting the deaf and dumb prophet Duncan Campbell, whose fame, once illustrated by notices in the “Tatler” and “Spectator," was becoming a little dimmed by 1720, each writer chose the kind of material that the natural propensity and previous experience of each had trained him or her to use with the greatest success.

Accordingly the “History of the Life and Adventures of Mr. Duncan Campbell, a gentleman who, though deaf and dumb, writes down any stranger’s name at first sight, with their future contingencies of fortune: Now living in Exeter Court, over against the Savoy in the Strand,” published by Curll on 30 April, 1720, and written largely by Defoe, devoted only four chapters directly to the narrative of the conjuror’s life, while four chapters and the Appendix were given over to disquisitions upon the method of teaching deaf and dumb persons to read and write; upon the perception of demons, genii, or familiar spirits; upon the second sight; upon magic in all its branches; and upon the laws against false diviners and soothsayers. Beside showing the keenness of his interest in the supernatural, the author deliberately avoided any occasion for talking gossip or for indulging “persons of airy tempers” with sentimental love-tales. “Instead of making them a bill of fare out of patchwork romances and polluting scandal,” reads the preface signed by Duncan Campbell, “the good old gentleman who wrote the adventures of my life has made it his business to treat them with a great variety of entertaining passages which always terminate in morals that tend to the edification of all readers, of whatsoever sex, age, or profession.” Those who came to consult the seer on affairs of the heart, therefore, received only the scantiest mention from his biographer, and never were the languishing and sighing of Mr. Campbell’s devotees described with any romantic glamor. On the contrary, Defoe portrayed in terse and homely phrases the follies and affectations of the dumb man’s fair clients. The young blooming beauty who found little Duncan “wallowing in the dust” and bribed him with a sugarplum to reveal the name of her future husband; the “sempstress with an itching desire for a parson”; housekeepers in search of stolen goods; the “widow who bounced” from one end of the room to the other and finally “scuttled too airily downstairs for a woman in her clothes”; and the chambermaid disguised as a fine lady, who by “the toss of her head, the jut of the bum, the sidelong leer of the eye” proclaimed her real condition these types are treated by Defoe in a blunt realistic manner entirely foreign to Eliza Haywood’s vein. Some passages, perhaps, by a sentiment too exalted or by a description in romantic style suggest the hand of another writer, possibly Mrs. Haywood, but more probably William Bond, in whose name the reprint of 1728 was issued. But in the main, the book reflected Defoe’s strong tendency to speculate upon unusual and supernatural phenomena, and utterly failed to “divulge the secret intrigues and amours of one part of the sex, to give the other part room to make favorite scandal the subject of their discourse."

That Defoe had refrained from treating one important aspect of Duncan Campbell’s activities he was well aware. “If I was to tell his adventures with regard, for instance, to women that came to consult him, I might, perhaps, have not only written the stories of eleven thousand virgins that died maids, but have had the relations to give of as many married women and widows, and the work would have been endless." In his biography of the Scotch prophet he does not propose to clog the reader with any adventures save the most remarkable and those in various ways mysterious.

The “method of swelling distorted and commented trifles into volumes” he is content to leave to the writers of fable and romance. It was not long before the press-agents of the dumb presager found a romancer willing to undertake the task that Defoe neglected. Mrs. Haywood in her association with Aaron Hill and his circle could hardly have escaped knowing William Bond, who in 1724 was playing Steele to Hill’s Addison in producing the numbers of the “Plain Dealer.” Instigated perhaps by him, the rising young novelist contributed on 19 March, 1724, the second considerable work on the fortune-teller, under the caption: “A Spy upon the Conjurer: or, a Collection of Surprising Stories, with Names, Places, and particular Circumstances relating to Mr. Duncan Campbell, commonly known by the Name of the Deaf and Dumb Man; and the astonishing Penetration and Event of his Predictions. Written to my Lord by a Lady, who for more than Twenty Years past; has made it her Business to observe all Transactions in the Life and Conversation of Mr. Campbell."

“As long as Atalantis shall be read,” some readers were sure to find little to their taste in the curious information contained in the first biography of Campbell, but Mrs. Haywood was not reluctant to gratify an appetite for scandal when she could profitably cater to it. Developing the clue afforded her by the announcement in Defoe’s “Life and Adventures” of a forthcoming little pocket volume of original letters that passed between Mr. Campbell and his correspondents, she composed a number of epistles as coming from all sorts of applicants to the prophet. These missives, however, were preceded by a long letter addressed to an anonymous lord and signed “Justicia,” which was chiefly concocted of anecdotes illustrative of the dumb man’s powers. Unlike the incidents in Defoe’s work, the greater number of the stories relate to love affairs in the course of which one party or the other invoked the seer’s assistance. Although the author was thoroughly acquainted with the previous history of Mr. Campbell, she was evidently more interested in the phenomena of passion than in the theory of divination, A brief discussion of astrology, witchcraft, and dreams easily led her to a narrative of “Mr. Campbell’s sincerity exemplify’d, in the story of a lady injured in the tenderest part by a pretended friend.” A glance through the table of contents reveals the preponderance of such headings as “A strange story of a young lady, who came to ask the name of her husband”; “A whimsical story of an old lady who wanted a husband”; “Reflections on the inconstancy of men. A proof of it in a ruin’d girl, that came to ask Mr. Campbell’s advice”; “A story of my Lady Love-Puppy”; “A merry story of a lady’s chamber-maid, cook-maid, and coach-man,” and so on. Evidences of an attempt to suggest, if not actual references to, contemporary scandal, are to be found in such items as “A strange instance of vanity and jealousy in the behaviour of Mrs. F “; “The particulars of the fate of Mrs. J L “; and “A story of the Duke of ’s mistress.” It is not surprising that “Memoirs of a Certain Island” appeared within six months of “A Spy upon the Conjurer.”

When “Justicia” refers to her personal relations with the lord to whom her letter is addressed, her comments are still more in keeping with the acknowledged forte of the lady novelist. They are permeated with the tenderest emotions. The author of “Moll Flanders” and “The Fortunate Mistress” might moralize upon the unhappy consequences of love, but he was inclined to regard passion with an equal mind. He stated facts simply. Love, in his opinion, was not a strong motive when uncombined with interest. But Eliza Haywood held the romantic watchword of all for love, and her books are a continual illustration of Amor vincit omnia. In the present case her words seem to indicate that the passions of love and jealousy so often experienced by her characters were not unfamiliar to her own breast. Even Duncan Campbell’s predictions were unable to alter her destiny.

“But tho’ I was far enough from disbelieving what he said, yet Youth, Passion, and Inadvertency render’d his Cautions ineffectual. It was in his Hand-Writing I first beheld the dear fatal Name, which has since been the utter Destruction of my Peace: It was from him I knew I should be undone by Love and the Perfidy of Mankind, before I had the least Notion of the one, or had seen any of the other charming enough to give me either Pain or Pleasure.... Yet besotted as I was, I had neither the Power of defending myself from the Assaults of Love, nor Thought sufficient to enable me to make those Preparations which were necessary for my future Support, while I had yet the means” ....

“Yet so it is with our inconsiderate Sex! To vent a present Passion, for the short liv’d Ease of railing at the Baseness of an ungrateful Lover, to gain a little Pity, we proclaim our Folly, and become the Jest of all who know us. A forsaken Woman immediately grows the Object of Derision, rallied by the Men, and pointed at by every little Flirt, who fancies herself secure in her own Charms of never being so, and thinks ’tis want of Merit only makes a Wretch.

“For my dear Lord, I am sensible, tho’ our Wounds have been a long time heal’d, there yet remains a Tenderness, which, if touch’d, will smart afresh. The Darts of Passion, such as we have felt, make too indeliable an Impression ever to be quite eraz’d; they are not content with the eternal Sear they leave on the Reputation ...” .

These passages are in substance and style after Eliza Haywood’s manner, while the experiences therein hinted at do not differ essentially from the circumstances of her own life.

The various aspects of love and jealousy are also the theme of the second and third parts of “A Spy upon the Conjurer." The two packets of letters were merely imaginary, unless the pseudonymous signatures of some of the missives may have aided contemporary readers to “smoke” allusions to current gossip. At any rate the references are now happily beyond our power to fathom.

Apparently the taste for Duncan Campbell anecdotes was stimulated by the piquant sauce of scandal, for beside the several issues of “A Spy upon the Conjurer” a second and smaller volume of the same sort was published on 10 May, 1725. This sixpenny pamphlet of forty pages, entitled “The Dumb Projector: Being a Surprizing Account of a Trip to Holland made by Mr. Duncan Campbell. With the Manner of his Reception and Behaviour there. As also the various and diverting Occurrences that happened on his Departure,” was, like the former work, couched in the form of a letter to a nobleman and signed “Justicia.” Both from internal evidence and from the style it can be assigned with confidence to the author of “A Spy upon the Conjurer.” The story, relating how Mr. Campbell was induced to go into Holland in the hope of making his fortune, how he was disappointed, the extraordinary instances of his power, and his adventures amatory and otherwise, is of little importance as a narrative. The account differs widely from that of Campbell’s trip to the Netherlands in the “Life and Adventures” of 1720.

Soon after the publication of “The Dumb Projector” Defoe also made a second contribution to the now considerable Duncan Campbell literature under the title of “The Friendly Daemon: or, the Generous Apparition. Being a True Narrative of a Miraculous Cure newly performed upon ... Dr. Duncan Campbell, by a familiar Spirit, that appeared to him in a white surplice, like a Cathedral Singing Boy.” The quotation of the story from Glanvil already used by the prophet’s original biographer, and the keen interest in questions of the supernatural displayed by the writer, make the attribution of this piece to Defoe a practical certainty. Evidently, then, Eliza Haywood was not the only one to profit by keeping alive the celebrity of the fortune-teller.

The year 1728 was marked by the reissue of the “Life and Adventures” as “The Supernatural Philosopher ... by William Bond,” whose probable connection with the work has already been discussed, and by the publication in the “Craftsman" of a letter, signed “Fidelia,” describing a visit to Duncan Campbell. The writer, who professes an intense admiration for Mr. Caleb D’Anvers and all his works, relates how the dumb oracle, after writing down her name, had prophesied that the Craftsman would certainly gain his point in 1729. She concludes with praise of Mr. Campbell, and an offer to conduct Caleb to visit him on the ensuing Saturday. That the communication was not to be regarded as a companion-piece to the letter from Dulcibela Thankley in the “Spectator” (N, was the purport of the editorial statement which introduced it: “I shall make no other Apology for the Vanity, which I may seem guilty of in publishing the following Letter, than assuring the Reader it is genuine, and that I do it in Complyance with the repeated Importunity of a fair Correspondent.” The style of the letter does not strongly suggest that of “A Spy upon the Conjurer,” though the concluding sentence, “Love shall be there too, who waits forever upon Wit,” is a sentiment after Eliza’s heart. And moreover, though “Fidelia” and “Justicia” may be one and the same persons, Mr. D’Anvers’ assurances that the letter is genuine are not to be relied upon with too much confidence, for had he wished to praise himself, he would naturally have resorted to some such device.

The last volume relating to the Scotch wizard did not appear until 1732, two years after Campbell’s death. “Secret Memoirs of the late Mr. Duncan Campbel, The famous Deaf and Dumb Gentleman. Written by Himself, who ordered they should be publish’d after his Decease,” consisted of 164 pages devoted to miscellaneous anecdotes of the prophet, a reprint of Defoe’s “Friendly Daemon” , “Original Letters sent to Mr. Campbel by his Consulters” , and “An Appendix, By Way of Vindication of Mr. Duncan Campbel, Against That groundless Aspersion cast upon him, That he but pretended to be Deaf and Dumb. By a Friend of the Deceased” . The authorship of this book has received but slight attention from students of Defoe, and still remains something of a puzzle. No external evidence on the point has yet come to light, but some probable conclusions may be reached through an examination of the substance and style.

In the first place, there is no probability the statement on the title-page notwithstanding that Mr. Campbell himself had anything to do with the composition of the “Memoirs.” Since the magician had taken no part in the literary exploitation of his fame during his lifetime, it is fair to infer that he did not begin to do so two years after his death. Moreover, each of the three writers, Bond, Defoe, and Eliza Haywood, already identified with the Campbell pamphlets was perfectly capable of passing off fiction as feigned biography. Both the author of “Memoirs of a Cavalier” and the scribbler of secret histories had repeatedly used the device. There is no evidence, however, that William Bond had any connection with the present work, but a large share of it was almost certainly done by Defoe and Mrs. Haywood.

The former had died full of years on 26 April, 1731, about a year before the “Secret Memoirs” was published. It is possible, however, that he may have assembled most of the material for the book and composed a number of pages. The inclusion of his “Friendly Daemon” makes this suspicion not unlikely. And furthermore, certain anecdotes told in the first section, particularly in the first eighty pages, are such stories as would have appealed to Defoe’s penchant for the uncanny, and might well have been selected by him. The style is not different from that of pieces known to be his.

But that the author of “Robinson Crusoe” would have told the “little History” of the young woman without a fortune who obtains the husband she desires by means of a magic cake is scarcely probable, for the story is a sentimental tale that would have appealed to love-sick Lydia Languishes. As far as we know, Defoe remained hard-headed to the last. But Mrs. Haywood when she was not a scandal-monger, was a sentimentalist. The story would have suited her temperament and the tastes of her readers. It is told so much in her manner that one could swear that the originator of the anecdote was aut Eliza, aut diabola. A few pages further on appears the incident of a swaggerer who enters the royal vault of Westminster Abbey at dead of night on a wager, and having the tail of his coat twitched by the knife he has stuck in the ground, is frightened into a faint a story which Mrs. Haywood later retold in different words in her “Female Spectator." The “Secret Memoirs” further informs us by a casual remark of Mr. Campbell’s that Eliza Haywood was well acquainted with the seer.

“Sometimes, when surrounded by my Friends, such as Anthony Hammond, Esq; Mr. Philip Horneck, Mr. Philips, Mr. , Mrs. Centlivre, Mrs. Fowk, Mrs. Eliza Haywood, and other celebrated Wits, of which my House, for some Years has been the general Rendezvous, a good Bowl of Punch before me, and the Glass going round in a constant Circle of Mirth and Good Humour, I have, in a Moment, beheld Sights which has froze my very Blood, and put me into Agonies that disordered the whole Company” .

The last anecdote in the first section is a repetition at some length of the story of Campbell’s adventures in Holland, not as related in Defoe’s “Life and Adventures,” but according to the version in Mrs Haywood’s “Dumb Projector.” The beginning, which has to do with a grave old gentleman who was bit by a viper, is told in almost the same words; indeed some letters that passed between the characters are identically the same, and the end, though much abbreviated, contains a number of sentences taken word for word from the earlier telling of the story. Finally, Mrs. Haywood was the first and hitherto the only writer of the Campbell pamphlets who had printed letters supposedly addressed to the prophet by his clients. The device was peculiarly hers. The “Original Letters sent to Mr. Campbel by his Consulters” in the “Secret Memoirs” are similar to those already composed by her for “A Spy upon the Conjurer.” There is no reason to think that she did not invent the later epistles as well as the former.

If, then, a number of anecdotes in the “Secret Memoirs” are suggestive of Mrs. Haywood’s known writings, and if one of them remained in her memory thirteen years later; if the pamphlet carefully alludes to Eliza Haywood as one of the dumb seer’s particular friends, and if it repeats in slightly different form her peculiar account of the dumb projector’s journey into Holland; and if, finally, the book contains a series of letters to Campbell from fictitious correspondents fashioned on the last already used by her, we may conclude that in all likelihood the authoress whose name had previously been associated with Duncan Campbell literature was again concerned in writing or revising this latest work. At least a cautious critic can say that there is no inherent improbability in the theory that Defoe with journalistic instinct, thinking that Campbell’s death in 1730 might stimulate public interest in the wizard, had drafted in the rough the manuscript of a new biography, but was prevented by the troubles of his last days from completing it; that after his death the manuscript fell into the hands of Mrs. Haywood, or perhaps was given to her by the publishers Millan and Chrichley to finish; that she revised the material already written, supplemented it with new and old matter of her own, composed a packet of Original Letters, and sent the volume to press. The origin of the “Appendix, by Way of Vindication of Mr. Duncan Campbel” remains unknown, and any theory about the authorship of the “Secret Memoirs” must be regarded in last analysis as largely conjectural.

Though the author of the original “Life and Adventures” has received most of the credit due to Campbell’s biographer, Mrs. Haywood, as we have seen, was not less active in exploiting the deaf and dumb gentleman. Her “Spy upon the Conjurer” was fubbed off upon the public as often as Defoe’s earlier volume, and neither writer could claim any advantage over the other from his second and slighter contribution. Each held successfully his own coign of vantage. Eliza Haywood, in contemporary opinion, outranked Defoe almost as far as an interpreter of the heart as he surpassed her in concocting an account of a new marvel or a tale of strange adventure. The arbitress of the passions indeed wrote nothing to compare in popularity with “Robinson Crusoe,” but before 1740 her “Love in Excess” ran through as many editions as “Moll Flanders” and its abridgments, while “Idalia: or, the Unfortunate Mistress” had been reprinted three times separately and twice with her collected novels before a reissue of Defoe’s “Fortunate Mistress” was undertaken. When in 1740 Applebee published a new edition of “Roxana,” he had it supplemented by “a continuation of nearly one hundred and fifty pages, many of which are filled with rubbish about women named Cleomira and Belinda." Here again Mrs. Haywood’s red herring crossed the trail of Defoe, for oddly enough the sheets thus accurately characterized were transcribed word for word from Eliza’s second novel, “The British Recluse.” At the point where the heroine swallows a sleeping potion supposing it poison, faints, and is thought to be dead, the narrative breaks off abruptly with the words:

“Though the History of Cleomira and Belinda’s Misfortunes, may be thought foreign to my Affairs ... yet it is absolutely necessary I should give it a Place, because it is the Source, or Spring, of many strange and uncommon Scenes, which happened to me during the remaining Part of my Life, and which I cannot give an Account of without” ...

The pages which follow relate how Roxana became reconciled to her daughter, died in peace, and was buried at Hornsey. The curious reader finds, however, no further mention of Belinda and her friend. Evidently Applebee’s hack simply stole as much copy as he needed from an almost forgotten book, trusting to receive his money before the fraud was discovered. The volumes of Eliza Haywood were indeed a mine of emotional scenes, and those who wished to read of warm desires or palpitating passions had to turn to her romances or do without. Wretched as her work seems in comparison to the modern novel, it was for the time being the nearest approach to idealistic fiction and to the analysis of human feelings. Defoe’s romances of incident were the triumphant culmination of the picaresque type; Mrs. Haywood’s sentimental tales were in many respects mere vague inchoations of a form as yet to be produced. But when freed from the impurities of intrigue and from the taint of scandal, the novel of heart interest became the dominant type of English fiction. Unfortunately, however, Eliza Haywood was too practical a writer to outrun her generation. The success of “A Spy upon the Conjurer” may have convinced her that a ready market awaited stories of amorous adventure and hinted libel. At any rate, she soon set out to gratify the craving for books of that nature in a series of writings which redounded little to her credit, though they brought her wide notoriety.