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I had a friend that lov'd me :
DRYDEN's All for Love.
Dear Friend, In my last I mentioned my arrival at Bristol, where I took a lodging in a street called (I think,) Queenstreet, in Castle-street, at the house of a Mr James; a much more decent residence than commonly falls to the lot of journeymen shoemakers.
In this house I found a Mr John Jones, a genteel young man, just turned of twenty-one years of age ; he was also a son of Crispin, and made women's stuff shoes, which he sold by the dozen to warehouses. This Mr Jones and I were very soon intimate ; we kept ourselves neatly dressed, and in general worked hard, spending our money chiefly in the company of
POMFRET. We followed this course about four months. During this time Mr Jones once persuaded me to go with him to the playhouse, where we saw Shakespear's
fine comedy of “ As you like it.” This was a feast indeed to me, who had never before seen nor even read any theatrical production. It is impossible for me to describe my sensations on the occasion. Between the play and the entertainment (which was the “ Mayor of Garratt") Mr Edward Shuter performed a short piece called
“The Drunken Man." This was the only time that I ever saw that extraordinary genius, but he made such an impression on my mind that it is impossible I ever should forget him. I believe it is not generally known, as few would have ever suspected, that this child of Momus was also a child of grace.
Since the publication of the first edition of these Memoirs, I have read “ The Memoirs of Mr Tate Wilkinson, Patentee of the Theatres Royal of York and Hull,” and was much surprised to learn that the famous Ned Shuter was a gracious soul. I will give you a passage or two out of Mr Wilkinson's Mémoirs, vol. iii. page 27, &c. “My imitation of Mr Whitefield was beyond compare. Mr Foote was struck by stepping in by chance and once hearing Whitefield; the mixture of whose absurdity, whim, consequence and extravagance pleased his fancy and entertained him highly, as Whitefield was that day dealing out damnation, fire and brimstone, as cheerfully as if they were so many blessings. What pity it is that our fears only and not our reason will bring conviction but reason handled by unaffected pure piety and religion would be a day of woe to methodism.
“Mr Foote was only a spy at Whitefield's academy, while I (says Mr Wilkinson) had been a zealot; for some seasons before my encounter at Covent-garden with Mr Foote, my attendance had been constant with my friend Shuter, and as he actually was one of the new-born, and paid large sums to Whitefield, I was always permitted to stay with him, for he was really bewildered in his brains, more by his wishing to acquire imaginary grace, than by all his drinking; and whenever he was warm with the bottle, and with only a friend or two, like Mawworm, he could not mind his shop, because he thought it a sin, and wished to go a-preaching; for Shuter, like Mawworm, believed he had a call. I have gone with Shuter at six in the morning of a Sunday at Tottenham-court
-1; then before ten to Mr Wesley's in Long-acre ;
at eleven again at Tottenham-court-road Tabernacle ; dined near Bedlam (a very proper place for us both) with a party of the holy ones; went at three to Mr Wesley's theatre; then from that to Whitefield's till eight; and then shut up, to commune with the family compact.”—Page 29. "Ihaving had so much practice, while a zealot, I really obtained and exhibited a much stronger likeness of Whitefield than Mr Foote did. The week before my. Covent-garden exhibition, I met Shuter at the Tabernacle; a great coolness had continued for some time, as we had not spoke, or even looked at each other since the breach between us in 1758.; but as we were met together in a place of charity and forgiveness to all who subscribed to the preacher, we became very sociable, and before White. field's lecture was done we were perfectly reconciled ; we adjourned to the Rose, and by three the next morning were sworn friends, and continued so until his death. Ned Shuter was a lively, spirited, shrewd companion; a superior in natural whim and humour surely never inhabited a human breast; for what he said and did was all his own, as it was with difficulty he could read the parts he had to play, and could not write at all; he had attained to sign an order, but no
Nature could not here bestow her gifts to greater advantage than on poor Ned, as what she gave he made shine, not only conspicuously but brilliantly, and to the delight of all who knew him on or off the stage. He might truly be dubbed the child of nature. He was no man's enemy but his own ; peace, rest, and happiness I hope he now possesses, for the poor, the friendless and the stranger he often comforted, and when sometimes reduced by his follies, he never could see a real object in misery, and resist giving at least half he was worth to his distressed fellow creature.” – Page 5, vol. iii. “But, Oh ye saints of your own creating, I will preach to you; mark! judge not of plays and players, lest you be judged; those who are the most censorious on the infirmities of others,
are usually most notoriously guilty of far greater failings themselves; and sanctified methodistical slander is of all the most severe, bitter and cruel.”
Page 6. “In the comedy of the ‘Hypocrite,' the Colonel says he supposes they go to the play for the benefit of the brethren. Cantwell answers, “The charity covereth the sin,' which was actually the case, for in 1757, as Shuter was bountiful to the Ta. bernacle, Mr Whitefield not only permitted but advised his hearers to attend Shuter's benefit; but for that night only.” Alas, poor Shuter !
It is singular enough that about this time, although I could not write, yet I composed several songs, one of which was sold for a guinea ; some were given to the Bristol printers, who printed them, and the bal. lad-singers sang them about the streets, on which occasions I was as proud as though I had composed an opera.
“Obscurely born—no generous friend he found,
Mrs ROBINSON. My friend Mr Jones was my secretary, who before I came to live with him had not the least relish for books, and I had only read a few enthusiastic authors, together with Pomfret's poems; this last I could almost repeat by memory; however I made the most of my little stock of literature, and strongly recommended the purchasing of books to Mr Jones. But so ignorant were we on the subject, that neither of us knew what books were fit for our perusal, nor what to enquire for, as we had scarce ever heard or seen even any title pages, except a few of the religious sort, which at that time we had no relish for. So that we were at a loss how to increase our small stock of science. And here I cannot help thinking that had
Fortune thrown proper books in our way, we should have imbibed a just taste for literature, and soon made some tolerable progress; but such was our obscurity, that it was next to impossible for us ever to emerge from it.
“ The mind untaught, in vain,
MR PINKERTON. As we could not tell what to ask for, we were ashamed to go into the booksellers’ shops, and I assure you, my friend, that there are thousands now in England in the very same situation ; many, very many, have come to my shop, who have discovered an enquiring mind, but were totally at a loss what to ask for, and who had no friend to direct them.
-Reason grows apace, and calls
THOMSON. One day, as my friend Jones and I were strolling about the fair that is annually held in and near St James's church-yard, we saw a stall of books, and in looking over the title pages, I met with Hobbes's Translation of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. I had somehow or other heard that Homer was a great poet, but unfortunately I had never heard of Pope's translation of him, so we very eagerly purchased that by Hobbes. At this stall I also purchased Walker's poetical paraphrasę of Epictetus's morals; and home we went, perfectly well pleased with our bargains.
We that evening began with Hobbes's Homer, but found it very difficult for us to read, owing to the ob