תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

and kept themselves drunk with gin, while I lay unable to move in my bed, and was ready to perish, partly owing to want of cleanliness and proper care. Thus situated, I must inevitably have fallen a victim, had it not been for my sister Dorothy, wife of Mr Northam of Lambeth, and my sister Elizabeth, wife of Mr Bell in Soho.

Dreadful are the ills
Which cruel fortune brings on human kind."

FRANCKLIN's Sophocles. These kind sisters, as soon as they were informed of the deplorable state in which I lay, notwithstanding some misunderstanding which subsisted between us, and prevented me from sending for them, hastened to me, and each sat up with me alternately, so that I had one or the other with me every night; and, contrary to all expectation, I recovered.

But this recovery was in a very slow manner.

As soon as I was able to enquire into the state of my affairs, I found that Mr Wheeler, sack and ropemaker in Old street, and Messrs Bottomly and Shaw, carpenters and sash-makers in Bunhill row, had saved me from ruin, by locking up my shop, which contained my little all. Had not this been done, the nurses would no doubt have contrived means to have emptied my shop, as effectually as they had done my drawers.

The above gentlemen not only took care of my shop, but also advanced money to pay such expences as occurred; and as my wife was dead, they assisted in making my will in favour of my mother.

These worthy gentlemen belong to Mr Wesley's society (and notwithstanding they have imbibed many enthusiastic whims) yet would they be an honour to any society, and are a credit to human nature. I hope that I never shall recollect their kindness with. out being filled with the warmest sentiments of gratitude towards them.

I never had any opportunity_of returning Mr Wheeler's kindness; but Messrs Bottomly and Shaw have had many hundred pounds of me for work, and are still my carpenters, and ever shall be as long as I shall live near them, and have a house to repair.

“ He that hath nature in him must be grateful :
'Tis the Creator's primary great law,
That links the chain of being to each other,
Joining the greater to the lesser nature,
Trying the weak and strong, the poor and powerful,

Subduing men to brutes, and even brutes to men." There is fine passage in Ajax, a tragedy by Sophocles, as translated by Dr Francklin, and as it is a wife speaking to her husband is the more remarkable. Tecmessa says to Ajax

“ Thou art my all, My only safeguard : do not, do not leave me! Nought so becomes a man as gratitude For good received, and noble deeds are still The offspring of benevolence, whilst he With whom remembrance dies of blessings past, Is vile and worthless." On my recovery I also learnt that Miss Dorcas Turton (the young woman that kept the house, and of whom I then rented the shop, parlour, kitchen, and garret) having out of kindness to my wife occasionally assisted her during her illness, had caught the same dreadful disorder, she was then very dangerously ill, and people shunned the house as much as if the plague had been in it. So that when I opened my shop again, I was stared at as though I had actually returned from the other world; and it was a considerable time before many of my former customers could credit that I really was in existence, it having been repeatedly reported that I was also dead.

Montaigne says, “ That sorrow is a passion which the world has endeavoured to honour, by clothing it with the goodly titles of wisdom, virtue; &c., which is

a foolish and vile disguise; the Italians call it by its proper name, ill-nature, for in truth (says he) it is always a mean base passion; and for that reason the Stoics forbad their wise men to be any way affected with it."

Whether Montaigne be right or not, I will not determine; but I got rid of my sorrow as fast as I could, thinking that I could not give a better proof of my having loved my former wife, than by getting another as soon as I could.

“ Man may be happy, if he will,

I've said so often, and I think so still : Doctrine to make the millions stare !

Know then, each mortal is an actual Jove ;

Can brew what weather he shall most approve,
Or wind, or calm, or foul, or fair.
But here's the mischief-man's an ass I

say;
Too fond of thunder, light’ning, storm, and rain ;
He hides the charming, cheering ray,

That spreads a smile, o'er hill and plain!
Dark he must court the skull, and spade, and shroud,
The mistress of his soul must be a cloud !”

PETER PINDAR. Miss Dorcas Turton was a charming young woman, and you must now be made farther acquainted with her. She is the daughter of Mr Samuel Turton of Staffordshire ; her mother by marriage still retained her maiden name, which was Miss Jemima Turton of Oxfordshire, grand-daughter of the honourable sir John Turton, knight, one of the judges of the Court of King's Bench. Mr Samuel Turton had a large fortune of his own, and about twenty thousand pounds with his wife Miss Jemima, but by law suits, and an unhappy turn for gaming, he dissipated nearly the whole of it, and was obliged to have recourse to trade to help to support his family.

« 'Tis lost at dice, what ancient honour won ;
Hard, when the father plays away the son."

but as

He opened a shop as a sadler's ironmonger ; he was but little acquainted with trade, and as his old propensity to gaming never quitted him, it is no won. der that he did not succeed in his business; and to crown all his other follies, he was bound for a false friend in a large sum: this completed his ruin.

His wife died in January 1773, and his final ruin ensued a few months after ; so that from that time to his death he was partly supported by his daughter Miss Dorcas Turton, who cheerfully submitted to keep a school, and worked very hard at plain work, by which means she kept her father from want.

“ The worst of ills to poverty allied,
Is the proud scoff: it hurts man's honest pride."

Owen's Juvenal. The old gentleman died a few months after I came into the shop. Being partly acquainted with this young lady's goodness to her father, I concluded that so amiable a daughter was very likely to make a good wife; I also knew that she was immoderately fond of books, and would frequently read until morning; this turn of mind in her was the greatest of all recommendations to me, who having acquired a few ideas, was at that time restless to increase them : so that I was in raptures with the bare thoughts of having a woman to read with, and also to read to me.

“Of all the pleasures, noble and refiu’d,
Which form the taste and cultivate the mind,
In ev'ry realm where science darts its beams,
From Thale's ice, to Afric's golden streams,
From climes where Phebus pours his orient ray,
To the fair regions of declining day,
The 'Feast of Reason, which from READING springs,
To reas'ning man the highest solace brings.
'Tis books a lasting pleasure can supply,
Charm while we live, and teach us how to die."

LACKINGTON's Shop-bill.

I embraced the first opportunity after her recovery to make her acquainted with my mind, and as we were no strangers to each others' characters and circumstances, there was no need of a long formal courtship; so I prevailed on her not to defer our union longer than the 30th of January 1776, when for the second time I entered into the holy state of matri. mony.

Wedded love is founded on esteem,
Which the fair merits of the mind engage :
For those are charms that never can decay,
But time, which gives new whiteness to the swan,
Improves their lustre.”

FENTON.
I am, dear friend, yours.

LETTER XXV.

“ Reason re-baptiz'd me when adult :
Weigh'd true from false, in her impartial scale.
Truth, radient goddess ! sallies on my soul !
And puts delusion's dusky train to fight.” Young.
“ All the mystic lights were quench’d.”

LEE.
“ To thee philosophy! to thee the light,
The guide of mortals through their mental night,
By whom the world in all its views is shown,
Our guide through nature's works, and in our own,
Who place in order being's wond'rous chain,
Save where those puzzling, stubborn links remain
By art divine involv'd, which man can ne'er explain.

CRABBE.

[ocr errors]

Dear Friend, I am now in February 1776, arrived at an important period of my life. Being lately recovered from a very

« הקודםהמשך »