« PreviousContinue »
as Job was : who, did not eat his morsel alone, so that the fatherless did not eat thereof;” who “ did not withhold the poor from their desire, or cause the eyes of the widow to fail ;” who “ did not see any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering ; * who “delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him."
It is his business to be hospitable; kind and belpful to strangers ; following those noble gentlemen, Abraham and Lot, who were so ready to invite and entertain strangers with bountiful courtesy.
It is his business to maintain peace, and appease dissensions among his neighbours, interposing his counsel and authority in order thereto : whereto he hath that brave gentleman, Moses, recommended for his pattern.
It is his business to promote the welfare and prosperity of his country with his best endeavours, and by all his interest; in which practice the Sacred History doth propound divers gallant gentlemen (Joseph, Moses, Samuel, Nehemiah, Daniel, Mordecai, and all such renowned patriots) to guide him.
It is his business to govern his family well; to educate his children in piety and virtue; to keep his servants in good order.
It is his business to look to his estate, and to keep it from wasting; that he may sustain the repute of his person and quality with decency; that he may be furnished with ability to do good, may provide well for his family, may be hospitable, may have wherewith to help his brethren; for if, according to St. Paul's injunction, a man should “ work with his own hands, that he may have somewhat to impart to him that needeth;" then must he that hath an estate be careful to preserve it, for the same good purpose.
It is his business to cultivate his mind with knowledge, with generous dispositions, with all worthy accomplishments befitting his condition, and qualifying him for honourable action; so that he may excel, and bear himself above the vulgar level, no less in real inward worth, than in exterior garb; that he be not a gentleman merely in name or show.
It is his business and that no slight or easy business) to eschew the vices, to check the passions, to withstand the temptations, to which his condition is liable; taking heed that his wealth, honour, and power do not betray him unto pride, insolence, or contempt of his poorer brethren; unto injustice or oppression ; unto luxury and riotous excess; unto sloth, stupidity, forgetfulness of God, and irreligious profaneness.
It is a business especially incumbent on him to be careful of his ways, that they may have good influence on others, who are apt to look on him as their guide and pattern.
He should labour and study to be a leader unto virtue, and a notable promoter thereof; directing and exciting men thereto by his exemplary conversation; encouraging them by his countenance and authority; rewarding the goodness of meaner people by his bounty and favour; he should be such a gentleman as Noah, who preached righteousness by his words and works before a profane world.
Such particular affairs hath every person of quality, credit, wealth, and interest, allotted to him by God, and laid on him as duties; the which to discharge faithfully will enough employ a man, and doth require industry, much care, much pains; excluding sloth and negligence: so that it is impossible for a sluggard to be a worthy gentleman, virtuously disposed, a charitable neighbour, a good patriot, a good husband of bis estato; anything of that, to which God, by setting him in such a station, doth call him.
Thus is a gentleman obliged to industry in respect of God, who justly doth exact those labours of piety, charity, and all virtue from him. Farther,
2. He hath also obligations to mankind, demanding industry from him, on ac counts of common humanity, equity, and ingenuity; for,
How can he fairly subsist on the common industry of mankind, without bearing a share thereof 1 How can he well satisfy himself to dwell statelily, to feed daintily, to be finely clad, to maintain a pompous retinue, merely on the sweat and toil of others, without himself rendering a compensation, or making some competent returns of care and pain redounding to the good of his neighbour?
How can he justly claim or reasonably expect from the world the respect agreeable to his rank, if he doth not by worthy performances conduce to the benefit of it? Can men be obliged to regard those from whom they receive no good ?
If no gentleman be tied to serve the public, or to yield help in sustaining the common burdens, and supplying the needs of mankind, then is the whole order merely a burden, and an offence to the world; a race of drones, a pack of ciphers in the commonwealth, standing for nothing, deserving no consideration or regard: and if any are bound, then all are; for why should the whole burden lie on some, while others are exempted ?
It is indeed supposed that all are bound thereto, seeing that all have recompenses publicly allowed to them on such considerations ; divers respects and privileges peculiar to the order, grounded on supposition, that they deserve such advantages by conferring notable benefit on the public, the which indeed it were an arrogance to seek and an iniquity to accept for doing nothing.
It is an insufferable pride for any man to pretend or conceit himself to differ so much from his brethren, that he may be allowed to live in ease and sloth, while the rest of mankind are subject to continual toil and trouble. Moreover,
3. A gentleman is bound to be industrious for his own sake ; it is a duty which he oweth to himself, to his honour, to his interest, to his welfare. He cannot without industry continue like himself, or maintain the honour and repute becoming his quality and state, or secure himself from contempt and disgrace; for to be honourable and slothful are things inconsistent, seeing honour does not grow, nor can subsist without undertaking worthy designs, constantly pursuing them, and happily achieving them; it is the fruit and reward of such actions which are not performed with ease.
External respect and a semblance of honour, for the sake of public order, may be due to an exterior rank or title : but to pay this, is not to honour the person, but his title ; because it is supposed that men of real worth and use do bear it ; or lest, by refusing it to one, the whole order may seem disrespected ; but yet true honour
any person who doth not by worthy qualities and good deeds appear to merit it.
Nor can a gentleman without industry uphold his real interests against the attempts of envy, of treachery, of flattery, of sycophantry, of avarice, to which his condition is obnoxious: to preserve his wealth and estate, which are the supports of his quality, he must endure care and pains; otherwise he will by greedy harpies and crafty lurchers be rifled or cozened of his substance; it will of itself go to wreck, and be embezzled by negligence.
He cannot without industry guard his personal welfare from manifold inconveniences, molestations, and mischiefs; idleness itself will be very troublesome and irksome to him. His time will lie on his hands as a pestering incumbrance. His mind will be infested with various distractions and distempers; vain and sad thoughts, foul lusts, and unquiet passions will spring up therein as weeds in a neglected soil. His body will languish and become destitute of health, of vigour, of activity, for want of due exercise. All the mischiefs which naturally do spring from sloth and stupidity will seize op hinu,
4. Thus, on various accounts, a gentleman is engaged to business, and concerned to exercise industry therein ; we may add, that indeed the very nature of geutility, or the true notion of a gentleman, doth imply so much.
For what, I pray, is a gentleman, what properties hath he, what qualities are characteristical or peculiar to him, whereby he is distinguished from others, or raised above the vulgar ? Are they not especially two, courage and courtesy ! which he that wanteth is not otherwise than equivocally a gentleman, as an image or a carcass is a man ; without which, gentility in a conspicuous degree is no more than a vain show, or an empty name : and these plainly do involve industry, do exclude slothfulness ; for courage doth prompt boldly to undertake, and resolutely to despatch great enterprises and employments of difficulty ; it is not seen in a flaunting garb, or strutting deportment; not in hectorly, ruffian-like swaggering or huffing ; not in high looks or big words ; but in stout and gallant deeds, employing vigour of mind and heart to achieve them : how can a man otherwise approve himself courageous, than by signalizing himself in such a way ?
And for courtesy, how otherwise can it be well displayed than in sedulous activity for the good of men ? It surely doth not consist in modish forms of address, or complimental expressions, or hollow professions, commonly void of meauing or sincerity ; but in real performances of beneficence, when occasion doth invite, and in waiting for opportunities to do good; the which practice is accompanied by some care and pain, adding a price to it; for an easy courtesy is therefore small, because easy, and may be deemed to proceed rather from ordinary humanity, than from gentle disposition : so that, in fine, he alone doth appear truly a gentleman who hath the heart to undergo hard tasks for public good, and willingly taketh pains to oblige his neighbours and friends.
5. The work indeed of gentlemen is not so gross, but it may be as smart and painful as any other. For all hard work is not manual ; there are other instruments of action beside the plough, the spade, the hammer, the shuttle : nor doth every work produce sweat and tiring of body : the head may work hard in contrivance of good designs ; the tongue may be very active in dispensing advice, persuasion, comfort, and edification in virtue : a man may bestir himself in "going about to do good :" these are works employing the cleanly industry of a gentleman,
6. In such works it was that the truest and greatest pattern of gentility that ever was did employ himself. Who was that? Even our Lord himself ; for he had no particular trade or profession : no man can be more loose from any engagement to the world than he was ; no man had less need of business or pains-taking than be; for he had a vast estate, being “ heir of all things," all the world being at his disposal ; yea, infinitely more, it being in his power with a word to create whatever he would to serve his need, or satisfy his pleasure ; omnipotency being his treasure and supply ; he had a retinue of angels to wait on him, and minister to him ; whatever sufficiency any man can fancy to himself to dispense with his taking pains, that had he in a far higher degree : yet did he find work for himself, and continually was employed in performing service to God, and imparting benefits to men; nor was ever industry exercised on earth comparable to his.
Gentlemen, therefore, would do well to make him the pattern of their life, to whose industry they must be beholden for their salvation ; in order whereto we recommend them to his grace.
85.—THE PROGRESS OF THE GREAT PLAGUE OF LONDON.
PEPYS. [SANUEL Perys, Secretary to the Admiralty in the reigns of Charles II. and James II., left behind him one of the most curious records of the 17th century-a · Diary,' which was first published in 1825, and has been recently reprinted, with large additions. Pepys was an able man of business, and a tolerably honest public officer in a corrupt age; but we should perhaps care little for him now, in common with many better and wiser whose good actions have been written in water, had he not left us, in this Diary, the most amusing exhibition of garrulous egotism that the world has seen. But he had a right to be egotistic. How could he know that a hundred and fifty years after he was gone he was to be a good jest for ever?" His narrative of the Great Plague, which we pick out from his Diary here and there, is almost as interesting as Defoe's artistical but imaginary history.]
April 30th.-Great fears of the sickness here in the city, it being said that two or three houses are already shut up. God preserve us all!
May 7th. The hottest day that ever I felt in my life. This day, much against my will, I did in Drury Lane see two or three houses marked with a red cross upon the doors, and “Lord have mercy upon us," writ there ; which was a sad sight to me, being the first of the kind that to my remembrance I ever saw.
July 12th. A solemn fast-day for the plague growing upon us. 13th. Above 700 died of the plague this week.
18th. I was much troubled this day to hear at Westminster, how the officers do bury the dead in the open Tuttle-fields, pretending want of room elsewhere.
20th. Walked to Redriffe, where I hear the sickness is, and indeed is scattered almost every where. There dying 1089 of the plague this week. My lady Carteret did this day give me a bottle of plague-water home with me.
21st. Late in my chamber, setting some papers in order ; the plague growing very raging, and my apprehensions of it great.
26th. The king having dined, he came down, and I went in the barge with him, I sitting at the door. Down to Woolwich (and there I just saw, and kissed my wife, and saw some of her painting, which is very curious ; and away again to the king), and back again with him in the barge, hearing him and the duke talk, and seeing and observing their manner of discourse. And God forgive me! though I admire them with all the duty possible, yet the more a man considers and observes them, the less he finds of difference between them and other men, though (blessed be God!) they are both princes of great nobleness and spirits. The Duke of Monmouth is the most skittish, leaping gallant that ever I saw, always in action, vaulting or leaping, or clambering. Sad news of the deaths of so many in the parish of the plague, forty last night. The bell always going. This day poor Robin Shaw at Backewell's died, and Backewell himself now in Flanders. The King himself asked about Shaw, and, being told he was dead, said he was very sorry for it. The sickress is got into our parish this week, and is got, indeed, every where ; so that I begin to think of setting things in order, which I pray God enable me to put both as to soul and body.
28th. set out with my lady Sandwich all alone with her with six horses to DagenIST QUARTER.
hams, going by water to the Ferry. And a pleasant going, and a good discourse ; and when there, very merry, and the young couple now well acquainted. But, Lord! to see in what fear all the people here do live. How they are afraid of us that come to them, insomuch that I am troubled at it, and wish myself away. But some cause they have ; for the chaplain, with whom but a week or two ago we were here mighty high disputing, is since fallen into a fever and dead, being gone hence to a friend's a good way off. A sober and healthful man. These considerations make us all hasten the marriage, and resolve it upon Monday next.
30th. It was a sad noise to hear our bell to toll and ring so often to day, either for deaths or burials; I think five or six times.
31st. Thus I ended this month with the greatest joy that ever I did any in my life, because I have spent the greatest part of it with abundance of joy, and honour, and pleasant journeys, and brave entertainments, and without cost of money; and at last live to see the business ended with great content on all sides. Thus we end this month, as I said, after the greatest glut of content that ever I had; only under some difficulty because of the plague, which grows mightily upon us, the last week being about 1700 or 1800 of the plague.
August 3rd. To Dagenhams. All the way people, citizens, walking to and fro, enquire how the plague is in the city this week by the bill ; which by chance, at Greenwich, I had heard was 2020 of the plague, and 3000 and odd of all diseases. By and by, met my Lord Crewe returning ; Mr. Marr telling me by the way hov a maid-servant of Mr. John Wright's (who lives thereabouts) falling sick of the plague, she was removed to an outhouse, and a nurse appointed to look to her ; who, being once absent, the maid got out of the house at the window, and run away. The nurse coming a knocking, and having no answer believed she was dead, and went and told Mr. Wright so; who and his lady were in great strait what to do to get her buried. At last resolved to go to Brentwood hard by, being in the parish, and there get people to do it. But they would not ; so he went home full of trouble, and in the way met the wench walking over the common, which frighted him worse than before ; and was forced to send people to take her, which he did ; and they got one of the pest coaches and put her into it to carry her to a pest-house. And passing in a narrow lane Sir Anthony Browne, with his brother and some friends in the coach, met this coach with the curtains drawn close. The brother being a young man, and believing there might be some lady in it that would not be seen, and the way being narrow, he thrust his head out of his own into her coach, and to look, and there saw somebody look very ill, and in a sick dress, and stunk mightily ; which the coachman also cried out upon. And presently they come up to some people that stood looking after it, and told our gallants that it was a maid of Mr. Wright's, carried away sick of the plague ; which put the young gentleman into a fright had almost cost him his life, but is now well again.
8th. To my office a little, and then to the Duke of Albemarle's about some business. The streets empty all the way, now even in London, which is a sad sight. And to Westminster Hall, where talking, hearing very sad stories from Mrs. Mumford ; among others, of Mr. Michell's sons' family. And poor Will, that used to sell us ale at the Hall-door, his wife and three children died, all I think in a day. So home through the City again, wishing I may have taken no ill in going ; but I will go, I think, no more thither.
10th. By and by to the office, where we sat all the morning ; in great trouble to see the bill this week rise so high, to above 4000 in all, and of them about 3000 of the plague. Home to draw over anew my will, which I had bound myself by oath to dispatch to-morrow night; the town growing so unhealthy, that a man cannot depend upon living two days.