« PreviousContinue »
ment, I even here retract my former concessions in the old gentleman's favour, nor will I allow him now to be an husband in any sense of the expression."
It would be endless to describe the different sensations of both families, when I divulged the news of our misfortune; but what others felt was slight to what the lovers appeared to endure. Mr. Wilmot, who seemed before sufficiently inclined to break off the match, was by this blow soon determined: one virtue he had in perfection, which was prudence; too often the only one that is left us at seventy-two.
CHA T. III. A Migration. The fortunate Circumstances of our
Lives are generally found at last to be of our own
procuring: The only hope of our family now was, that the report of our misfortunes might be malicious or pre. mature; but a letter from my agent in town soon came with a confirmation of every particular. The loss of fortune to myself alone would have been trifling; the only uneasiness I felt was for my family, who were to be humbled without an education to render them callous to contempt.
Near a fortnight had passed before I attempted to restrain their affliction; for premature consolation is but the remembrance of sorrow. During this inter, val, , my thoughts were employed on some future means of supporting them; and at last a small cure of fifteen pounds a year was offered me in a distant neighbourhood, where I could still enjoy my principles without molestation. With this proposal I joyfully closed, having determined to increase my salary, by managing a little farm,
Having taken this resolution, my next care was to get together the wrecks of my fortune; and all debts collected and paid, out of fourteen thousand pounds we had but four hundred remaining. My chief atten. tion, therefore, was now to bring down the pride of my family to their circuinstances; for I well knew that aspiring beggary is wretchedness itself. „You cannot be ignorant my children, cried I, „that no prudence of ours could have prevented our late misfortune; but prudence may do much in disappointing its effects. We are now poor, my fondlings, and wisdom bids us conform to our humble situation.
Let us then, without repining, give up those splendours with which numbers are wretched, and seek, in humbler circumstances, that peace with which all may be happy. The poor live pleasantly without our help; why then should not we learn to live without theirs ? No, my children, let us from this moment give up all pretensions to gentility; we have still enough left for happiness if we are wise, and let us draw upon content for the deficiencies of fortune.
As ny eldest son was bred a scholar, I determined to send him to town, where his abilities might contribute to our support and his own. The separation of friends and families is, perhaps, one of the inost distressful circumstances attendant on penúry, The day soon arrived on which we were to disperse for the first tinie. My son, after taking leave of his mother and the rest, who mingled their tears with their kisses, came to ask a blessing from me. This I gave him from my heart, and which, added to five guineas, was all the patrimony I had to bestow. „You are going, my boy, cried l, „to London on foot, in the manner Hooker your great ancestor, travelled there before you. Take from me the sanie horse that was given þim by the good Bishop Jewel, this staff, and take this book too, it will be your comfort on the
: these two lines in it are worth a million; I have been young, and now am old; yet never saw I the righteous man forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread. Let this be your consolation as you travel on. Go, my boy; whatever be thy fortune, let me see thee once a year; still keep a good heart, and farewell.“ As he was possest of integrity and honour, I was under no apprehensions from throwing him naked into the aniphitheatre of life; for I knew he would act a part, whether vanquished or victorious.
His departure only prepared the way for our own, which arrived a few days afterwards. The leaving a neighbourhood in which we had enjoyed so many hours of tranquillity, was not without a tear, which scarce fortitude itself could suppress. Besides, a journey of seventy miles, to a family that had hi. therto never been above ten from 'home, filled us with apprehension; and the cries of the poor, who followed us for sonie miles, contributed to increase it. The first day's journey brought us in safety within thirty miles of our future retreat, and we put up for the night at an obscure inn in a village by the way. When we were shewn a room, I desired the land. lord, in my usual way, to let us have his company, with which he complied, as what he drank would increase the bill next morning. He knew, however, the whole neigbourhood to which I was removing, particularly Squire Thornhill, who was to be my landlord , and who lived within a few miles of the place. This gentleman he described as one who desired to know little niore of the world than its pleasures, being particularly remarkable for his 'attach: ment to the fair sex: He observed that no virtue was able to resist his arts and assiduity, and that scarce, a farmer's daughter within ten miles round but what had 'found him successful and faithless. Athough this account gave me sonie pain, it had a very different effect upon my daughters, whose features seemed to brighten with the expectation of an approaching triumph; nor was my wife less pleased and confident of their allurements and virtue. While our thoughts were thus employed, the hostess entered the room to inform her husband, that the strange gentleman, who had been two days in the house, wanted money, and could not satisfy them for his reckoning. „Want
„Want money!" replied the host ,that must be impossible! for it was no later than yesterday he paid three guineas to our bead'le to spare an old broken soldier that was to be whipped through the town for dog -stealing." The hostess, hotvever, still persisting in her first assertion, he was preparing to leave the room, swearing that he would be satisfied one way or another, when I begged the landlord would introduce me to a stranger of so much charity as he described. With this he complied, shewing in a gentleman who seemed to be about thirty, dressed in clothes that once were laced. His person was well formed, and his face marked with the lines of thinking. He had something short and dry in his address, and seemed not to understand ceremony, or to despise it. Upon the landlord's leaving the room, I could not avoid expressing my con. cern for the stranger at seeing a gentleman in such circumstances, and offered hiin my purse to satisfy the present demand. I take it with all my heart, sir," replied he, and am glad that a late oversight in giving what money I had about me, has shewn me, that there are still some men like you. I must, however, previously intreat being informed of the name and residence of my benefactor, in order to
repay him as soon as possible. In this I satisfied him fully, not only mentioning my nanie and late, misfortune, but the place to which I was going to remove. „This,“ cried he, „happens still more lucky than I hoped for, as I am going the same way myself, having been detained here two days by the floods, which I hope, by to-morrow, will be found passable, I testified the pleasure I should have in his company, and my wife and daughters joining in intreaty, he was prevailed upon to stay supper. The stranger's conversation, which was at once pleașing and instructive, induced me to wish for a continuance of it; but it was now his time to retire, kan and take refreshment against the fatigues of the following day.
The next morning we all set forward together: my family on horseback, while Mr. Burchell our new companion, walked along the foot-path by the road side, observing with a smile, that as we were ill mounted, he would be too generous to attempt leaving us behind. As the floods were not yet subsided, we were obliged to hire a guide, who trotted on before, Mr, Burchell and I bringing up the rear. We lightened the fatigues of the road with philosophical disputes, which he seemed to understand perfectly. But what surprized me most, was, that though he was a money - borrower, he defended his opintos with as much obstinacy as if he had been my patron. He now and then also informed me to whom the different seats belonged that lay in our view as we travelled the road. That,“ cried he, pointing to a very magnificent house which stood at some distance, „belongs to Mr. Thornhill, a young gentleman who enjoys a large fortune, though en--tirely dependent on the will of his uncle, Sir William Thornhill, a gentleman who, content with a little