Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

a

tract my former concessions in the old gentleman's mined to send him to town, where his abilities favour, nor will I allow him now to be a husband might contribute to our support and his own. The in any sense of the expression.”

separation of friends and families is, perhaps, ono It would be endless to describe the different sen- of the most distressful circumstances attendant on sations of both families when I divulged the news penury. The day soon arrived on which we were of our misfortune: but what others felt was slight to disperse for the first time. My son, after taking to what the lovers appeared to endure. Mr. Wil- leave of his mother and the rest, who mingled their mot, who seemed before sufficiently inclined to tears and their kisses, came to ask a blessing from break off the match, was by this blow soon deter- me. This I gave him from my heart, and which, mined: one virtue he had in perfection, which was added to five guineas, was all the patrimony I had prudence, too often the only one that is left us at now to bestow. “You are going, my boy,” cried seventy-two.

I, "to London on foot, in the manner Hooker, your great ancestor, travelled there before you.

Take from me the same horse that was given him CHAPTER III.

by the good Bishop Jewel, this staff, and this book

too, it will be your comfort on the way: these two A Migration. - The fortunate circumstances of our lives are lines in it are worth a million, 'I have been young,

generally found at last to be of our own procuring. and now am old; yet never saw I' the righteous The only hope of our family now was, that the man forsaken, or his seed begging their bread.' report of our misfortune might be malicious or pre- Let this be your consolation as you travel on. Go, mature; but a letter from my agent in town soon my boy; whatever, be thy fortune, let me see thee came with a confirmation of every particular. The once a-year; still keep a good heart, and farewell." loss of fortune to myself alone would have been As he was possessed of integrity and honour, I was trifling; the only uneasiness I felt was for my fami- under no apprehensions from throwing him naked ly, who were to be humble without an education into the amphitheatre of life; for I knew he would to render them callous to contempt.

act a good part, whether vanquished or victorious. Near a fortnight had passed before I attempted His departure only prepared the way for our to restrain their affliction; for premature consola- own, which arrived a few days afterwards. The tion is but the remembrance of sorrow. During leaving a neighhourhood in which we had enjoyed this interval, my thoughts were employed on some so many hours of tranquillity, was not without a future means of supporting them; and at last a tear which scarcely fortitude itself could suppress. small cure of fifteen pounds a year was offered me Besides, a journey of seventy miles to a family that in a distant neighbourhood, where I could still en-had hitherto never been above ten from home, filled joy my principles without molestation. With this us with apprehension; and the cries of the poor, proposal I joyfully closed, having determined to who followed us for some miles, contributed to inincrease my salary by managing a little farm. crease it. The first day's journey brought us in

Having taken this resolution, my next care was safety within thirty miles of our future retreat, to get together the wrecks of my fortune; and, all and we put up for the night at an obscure inn in a debts collected and paid, out of fourteen thousand village by the way. When we were shown a room, pounds we had but four hundred remaining. My I desired the landlord, in my usual way, to let us chief attention, therefore, was now to bring down have his company, with which he complied, as the pride of my family to their circumstances; for 1 what he drank would increase the bill next mornwell knew that aspiring beggary is wretchedness ing. He knew, however, the whole neighbouritself. “You can not be ignorant, my children,” hood to which I was removing, particularly 'Squire cried I, " that no prudence of ours could have pre-Thornhill, who was to be my landlord, and who vented our late misfortune; but prudence may do lived within a few miles of the place. This gentlemuch in disappointing its effects. We are now man he described as one who desired to know little poor, my fondlings, and wisdom bids us conform more of the world than its pleasures, being particuto our humble situation. Let us then, without re-larly remarkable for his attachment to the fair sex. pining, give up those splendours with which num-He observed that no virtue was able to resist his bers are wretched, and seek in humbler circum- arts and assiduity, and that scarcely a farmer's stances that peace with which all may be happy. daughter within ten miles round, but what had The poor live pleasantly without our help, why found him successful and faithless. Though this then should not we learn to live without theirs? account gave me some pain, it had a very different No, my children, let us from this moment give up effect upon my daughters, whose features seemed all pretensions to gentility; we have still enough to brighten with the expectation of an approaching left for happiness if we are wise, and let us draw triumph; nor was my wife less pleased and confiupon content for the deficiencies of fortune.” dent of their allurements and virtue. While our

As my eldest son was bred a scholar, I deter- thoughts were thus employed, the hostess entered

a

6

a

the room to inform her husband, that the strange" That,” cried he, pointing to a very magnificent gentleman, who had been two days in the house, house which stood at some distance, " belongs to wanted money, and could not satisfy them for his Mr. Thornhill, a young gentleman who enjoys a reckoning. "Want money!” replied the host, | large fortune, though entirely dependent on the " that must be impossible; for it was no later than will of his uncle, Sir William Thornhill, a gentleyesterday he paid three guineas to our beadle to man who, content with a little himself, permits his spare an old broken soldier that was to be whipped nephew to enjoy the rest, and chiefly resides in through the town for dog-stealing.” The hostess, town.” “What!” cried I, "is, my young landlord however, still persisting in her first assertion, he then the nephew of a man, whose virtues, genewas preparing to leave the room, swearing that he rosity, and singularities are so universally known? would be satisfied one way or another, when I beg- I have heard Sir William Thornhill represented ged the landlord would introduce me to a stranger as one of the most generous yet whimsical men in of so much charity as he described. With this he the kingdom; a man of consummate benevolence."complicd, showing in a gentleman who seemed to "Something, perhaps, too much so," replied Mr. be about thirty, dressed in clothes that once were Burchell, at least he carried benevolence to an laced. His person was well formed, and his face excess when young; for his passions were then marked with the lines of thinking. He had some strong, and as they were all upon the side of virthing short and dry in his address, and seemed not tue, they led it up to a romantic extreme. He earto understand ceremony, or to despise it. Upon ly began to aim at the qualifications of the soldier the landlord's leaving the room, I could not avoid and scholar; was soon distinguished in the army, expressing my concern to the stranger at seeing and had some reputation among men of learning. a gentleman in such circumstances, and offered Adulation ever follows the ambitious; for such alone hin my purse to satisfy the present demand. “I receive most pleasure from flattery. He was surtake it with all my heart, sir," replied he, "and am rounded with crowds, who showed him only one glad that a late oversight, in giving what money 1 side of their character: so that he began to lose a had about me, has shown me that there are still regard for private interest in universal sympathy. some men like you. I must, however, previously He loved all mankind; for fortune prevented him entreat being informed of the name and residence from knowing that there were rascals. Physicians of my benefactor, in order to repay him as soon as tell us of a disorder, in which the whole body is so possible.” In this I satisfied him fully, not only exquisitely sensible that the slightest touch gives mentioning my name and late misfortunes, but the pain : what some have thus suffered in their perplace to which I was going to remove. “This,” sons, this gentleman felt in his mind. The slightest cried he, “happens still more luckily than I hoped distress, whether real or fictitious, touched him to for

, as I am going the same way myself, having the quick, and his soul laboured under a sickly senbeen detained here two days by the floods, which I sibility of the miseries of others. Thus disposed hope by to-morrow will be found passable.” I tes- to relieve, it will be easily conjectured he found tified the pleasure I should have in his company, numbers disposed to solicit; his profusions began and my wife and daughters joining in entreaty, he to impair his fortune, but not his good-nature; that, was prevailed upon to stay supper. The stranger's indeed, was seen to increase as the other seemed to conversation, which was at once pleasing and in- decay: he grew improvident as he grew poor; and structive, induced me to wish for a continuance of though he talked like a man of sense, his actions it; but it was now high time to retire and take re were those of a fool. Still, however, being surfreshment against the fatigues of the following day. rounded with importunity, and no longer able to

The next morning we all set forward together : satisfy every request that was made him, instead of my family on horseback, while Mr. BURCHELL, our money he gave promises. They were all he had new companion, walked along the foot-path by the to bestow, and he had not resolution enough to road-side, observing with a smile, that as we were give any man pain by a denial. By this he drew 1 mounted, he would be too generous to attempt round him crowds of dependents, whom he was sure leaving us behind. As the floods were not yet to disappoint, yet he wished to relieve. These sabsided, we were obliged to hire a guide, who trot- hung upon him for a time, and left him with merittod on before, Mr. Burchell and I bringing up the ed reproaches and contempt. But in proportion Fear. We lightened the fatigues of the road with as he became contemptible to others, he became philosophical disputes, which he seemed to under-despicable to himself. His mind had leaned upon stand perfectly. But what surprised me most was, their adulation, and that support taken away, he that though he was a money-borrower, he defend- could find no pleasure in the applause of his heart, ed his opinions with as much obstinacy as if he which he had never learned to reverence. The had been my patron. He now and then also in- world now began to wear a different aspect; the formed me to whom the different seats belonged Aattery of his friends began to dwindle into simple that lay in our view as we travelled the road. (approbation. Approbation soon took the moro

friendly form of advice, and advice, when rejected, own grounds, and were equal strangers to opuproduced their reproaches. He now therefore found, lence and poverty. As they had almost all the that such friends as benefits had gathered round conveniencies of life within themselves, they selhim, were little estimable: he now found that a dom visited towns or cities, in search of superfluiman's own heart must be ever given to gain that of ty. Remote from the polite, they still retained the another. I now found, that-that-I forget what primeval simplicity of manners; and frugal by habit, I was going to observe: in short, sir, he resolved to they scarcely knew that temperance was a virtue. respect himself, and laid down a plan of restoring They wrought with cheerfulness on days of lahis falling fortune. For this purpose, in his own bour; but observed festivals as intervals of idleness whimsical manner, he travelled through Europe and pleasure. They kept up the Christmas carol, on foot, and now, though he has scarcely attained sent true love-knots on Valentine morning, ate the age of thirty, his circumstances are more afflu- pancakes on Shrove-tide, showed their wit on the ent than ever. At present, his bounties are more first of April, and religiously cracked nuts on Mirational and moderate than before; but still he pre-chaelmas eve. Being apprised of our approach, the serves the character of a humorist, and dinds most whole neighbourhood came out to meet their minispleasure in eccentric virtues.”

ter, dressed in their finest clothes, and preceded by My attention was so much taken up by Mr. a pipe and tabor. A feast also was provided for Burchell's account, that I scarcely looked forward our reception, at which we sat cheerfully down; as we went along, till we were alarmed by the cries and what the conversation wanted in wit, was made of my family, when turning, I perceived my young- up in laughter. est daughter in the midst of a rapid stream, thrown Our little habitation was situated at the foot of from her horse, and struggling with the torrent. a sloping hill, sheltered with a beautiful underwood She had sunk twice, nor was it in my power to behind, and a prattling river before: on one side a disengage myself in time to bring her relief. My meadow, on the other a green. My farm consisted sensations were even too violent to permit my at- of about twenty acres of excellent land, having tempting her rescue: she must have certainly given a hundred pounds for my predecessor's goodperished had not my companion, perceiving her will

. Nothing could exceed the neatness of my danger, instantly plunged in to her relief, and, with little enclosures; the elms and hedge-rows appearsome difficulty, brought her in safety to the oppo-ing with inexpressible beauty. My house consite shore. By taking the current a little farther sisted of but one story, and was covered with up, the rest of the family got safely over, where we thatch, which gave it an air of great snugness; the had an opportunity of joining our acknowledg- walls on the inside were nicely white-washed, and ments to her's. Her gratitude may be more readi- my daughters undertook to adorn them with picly imagined than described: she thanked her de-tures of their own designing. Though the same liverer more with looks than words, and continued room served us for parlour and kitchen, that only to lean upon his arm, as if still willing to receive made it the warmer. Besides, as it was kept with assistance. My wife also hoped one day to have the utmost neatness, the dishes, plates, and copthe pleasure of returning his kindness at her own pers being well scoured, and all disposed in bright house. Thus, after we were refreshed at the next rows on the shelves, the eye was agreeably relievinn, and had dined together, as Mr. Burchell was ed, and did not want richer furniture. There were going to a different part of the country, he took three other apartments, one for my wife and me, leave; and we pursued our journey; my wife ob- another for our two daughters, within our own, serving as he went, that she liked him extremely, and the third, with two beds, for the rest of the and protesting, that if he had birth and fortune to children. entitle him to match into such a family as our's, The little republic to which I gave laws, was she knew no man she would sooner fix upon. i regulated in the following manner: by sun-rise we could not but smile to hear her talk in this lofty all assembled in our common apartment; the fire strain; but I was never much displeased with those being previously kindled by the servant. After harmless delusions that tend to make us more we had saluted each other with proper ceremony, happy.

for I always thought fit to keep up some mechani. cal forms of good-breeding, without which freedom

ever destroys friendship, we all bent in gratitude to CHAPTER IV.

that Being, who gave us another day. This duty

being performed, my son and I went to pursue our A proof that even the humblest fortune may grant happiness, usual industry abroad, while my wife and daughters which depends not on circumstances but constitution. employed themselves in providing breakfast, which

was always ready at a certain time. I allowed The place of our retreat was in a little neigh- half an hour for this meal, and an hour for dinner; bourhood, consisting of farmers, who tilled their which time was taken up in innocent mirth be

6

a

tween my wife and daughters, and in philosophical my children,” continued I, more gravely, “those arguments between my son and me.

gowns may be altered into something of a plainer As we rose with the sun, so we never pursued cut; for finery is very unbecoming in us, who want our labours after it was gone down, but returned the means of decency. 'I do not know whether such home to the expecting family; where smiling looks, founcing and shredding is becoming even in the a neat hearth, and pleasant fire, were prepared for rich, if we consider, upon a moderate calculation, our reception. Nor were we without guests : that the nakedness of the indigent world might be sometimes Farmer Flamborough, our talkative clothed from the trimmings of the vain." neighbour, and often the blind piper, would pay us This remonstrance had the proper effect; they a visit, and taste our gooseberry-wine; for the mak. went with great composure, that very instant, to ing of which we had lost neither the receipt nor the change their dress; and the next day I had the sareputation. These harmless people had several tisfaction of finding my daughters, at their own reways of being good company; while one played, the quest, employed in cutting up their trains into other would sing some soothing ballad, Johnny Sunday waistcoats for Dick and Bill, the two little Armstrong's last good night, or the cruelty of Bar- ones, and, what was still more satisfactory, the bara Allen. The night was concluded in the man- gowns seemed improved by this curtailing. per we began the morning, my youngest boys being appointed to read the lessons of the day; and he that read loudest, distinctest, and best, was to have

CHAPTER V. a halfpenny on Sunday to put in the poor's box.

When Sunday came, it was indeed a day of a new and great acquaintance introduced.-What we placo finery, which all my sumptuary edicts could not most hopes upon, generally proves most fatal. restrain. How well soever I fancied my lectures At a small distance from the house, my predeagainst pride had conquered the vanity of my cessor had made a seat, overshadowed by a hedge daughters; yet I found them still secretly attached of hawthorn and honeysuckle. Here, when the to all their former finery: they still loved laces, ri- weather was fine and our labour soon finished, we bands, bugles, and catgut; my wife herself retained usually sat together, to enjoy an extensive landa passion for her crimson paduasoy, because I for- scape in the calm of the evening. Here too we merly happened to say it became her.

drank tea, which was now become an occasional The first Sunday in particular their behaviour banquet; and as we had it but seldom, it diffused a served to mortify me; I had desired my girls the new joy, the preparations for it being made with no preceding night to be dressed early the next day; small share of bustle and ceremony. On these ocfor I always loved to be at church a good while be- casions our two little ones always read to us, and fore the rest of the congregation. They punctually they were regularly served after we had done. obeyed my directions; but when we were to assem- Sometimes, to give a variety to our amusements, ble in the morning at breakfast, down came my the girls sang to the guitar; and while they thus wife and daughters dressed out in all their former formed a little concert, my wife and I would stroll splendoar: their hair plastered up with pomatum, down the sloping field, that was embellished with their faces patched to taste, their trains bundled up blue-bells and centaury, talk of our children with in a heap behind, and rustling at every motion. I rapture, and enjoy the breeze that wasted both could not help smiling at their vanity, particularly health and harmony. that of my wife, from whom I expected more dis- In this manner we began to find that every situacretion. In this exigence, therefore, my only re- tion in life might bring its own peculiar pleasures: source was to order my son, with an important air, every morning awaked us to a repetition of toil; to call our coach. The girls were amazed at the but the evening repaid it with vacant hilarity. command; but I repeated it with more solemnity It was about the beginning of autumn, on a holithan before—“Surely, my dear, you jest,” cried day, for I kept such as intervals of relaxation from my wife, "we can walk it perfectly well: we want labour, that I had drawn out my family to our usual Do coach to carry us now." "You mistake, child,” place of amusement, and our young musicians bereturned I, "we do want a coach; for if we walk to gan their usual concert. As we were thus enchurch in this trim, the very children in the parish gaged, we saw a stag bound nimbly by, within will hoot after us.”—“Indeed,” replied my wife, “I about twenty paces of where we were sitting, and always imagined that my Charles was fond of see- by its panting it seemed pressed by the hunters. ing his children neat and handsome about him."- We had not much time to reflect upon the poor "You may be as neat as you please,” interrupted animals distress, when we perceived the dogs and 1, "and I shall love you the better for it; but all horsemen come sweeping along at some distance this is not neatness, but frippery. These ruflings, behind, and making the very path it had taken. I and pinkings, and patchings, will only make us was instantly for returning in with my family ; but hated by all the wives of all our neighbours. No, either curiosity, or surprise, or some more hidden

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

motive, held my wife and daughters to their seats. (cluded, she protested she could see no reason why The huntsman, who rode foremost, passed us with the two Miss Wrinkles should marry great forgreat swiftness, followed by four or five persons tunes, and her children get none. As this last armore who seemed in equal haste. At last, a young gument was directed to me, I protested I could see gentleman of a more genteel appearance than the no reason for it neither, nor why Mr. Simkins got rest came forward, and for a while regarding us, the ten thousand pound prize in the lottery, and instead of pursuing the chase, stopped short, and we sat down with a blank. "I protest, Charles," giving his horse to a servant who attended, ap- cried my wife, "this is the way you always damp proached us with a careless superior air. He my girls and me when we are in spirits. Tell me, seemed to want no introduction, but was going to Sophy, my dear, what do you think of our new salute my daughters, as one certain of a kind re- visiter? Don't you think he seemed to be goodception; but they had early learned the lesson of natured ?"—"Immensely so indeed, mamma,” relooking presumption out of countenance. Upon plied she, "I think he has a great deal to say upon which he let us know his name was Thornhill, and every thing, and is never at a loss; and the more that he was owner of the estate that lay for some trifling the subject, the more he has to say.”extent round us. He again therefore offered to Yes," cried Olivia, “he is well enough for a man; salute the female part of the family, and such was but for my part, I don't much like him, he is so the power of fortune and fine clothes, that he found extremely impudent and familiar; but on the guitar no second repulse. As his address, though confi- he is shocking." These two last speeches I interdent, was easy, we soon became more familiar; and preted by contraries. I found by this, that Sophia perceiving musical instruments lying near, he beg- internally despised, as much as Olivia secretly adged to be favoured with a song. As I did not ap- mired him.—"Whatever may be your opinions of prove of such disproportioned acquaintances, I him, my children," cried I, "to confess the truth, swinked upon my daughters in order to prevent he has not prepossessed me in his favoar. Distheir compliance; but my hint was counteracted by proportioned friendships ever terminate in disgust; one from their mother; so that, with a cheerful air, and I thought, notwithstanding all his ease, that he they gave us a favourite song of Dryden's. Mr. seemed perfectly sensible of the distance between Thornhill seemed highly delighted with their per- us. Let us kcep to companions of our own rank. formance and choice, and then took up the guitar There is no character more contemptible than a himself. He played but very indifferently; how- man that is a fortune-hunter; and I can see no ever, my eldest daughter repaid his former applause reason why fortune-hunting women should not be with interest, and assured him that his tones were contemptible too. Thus, at best, we shall be conlouder than even those of her master. At this com- temptible if his views be honourable ; but if they be pliment he bowed, which she returned with a cour- otherwise! I should shudder but to think of that. tesy. He praised her taste, and she commended It is true I have no apprehensions from the conhis understanding: an age could not have made duct of my children, but I think there are some them better acquainted : while the fond mother, too, from his character.”—I would have proceeded, but equally happy, insisted upon her landlord's stepping for the interruption of a servant from the 'squire, in, and tasting a glass of her gooseberry. The who, with his compliments, sent us a side of veniwhole family seemed earnest to please him: my son, and a promise to dine with us some days after. girls attempted to entertain him with topics they This well-timed present pleaded more powerfully thought most modern, while Moses, on the con

in his favour, than any thing I had trary, gave him a question or two from the an- viate. I therefore continued silent, satisfied with cients, for which he had the satisfaction of being just having pointed out danger, and leaving it to laughed at: my little ones were no less busy, and their own discretion to avoid it. That virtue which fondly stuck close to the stranger. All my endea- requires to be ever guarded is scarcely worth the vours could scarcely keep their dirty fingers from sentinel

. handling and tarnishing the lace on his clothes, and lifting up the flaps of his pocket-holes, to see what was there. At the approach of evening he

CHAPTER VI. took leave; but not till he had requested permission to renew his visit, which, as he was our landlord,

The Happiness of a Country Fire-side. we most readily agreed to.

As we carried on the former dispute with some As soon as he was gone, my wife called a coun- degree of warmth, in order to accommodate matcil on the conduct of the day. She was of opinion, ters, it was universally agreed, that we should have that it was a most fortunate hit; for that she had a part of the venison for supper; and the girls known even stranger things at last brought to bear. undertook the task with alacrity. "I am sorry," She hoped again to see the day in which we might cried I, " that we have no neighbour or stranger to hold up our heads with the best of them; and con- take a part in this good cheer: feasts of this kind

[ocr errors]

say could ob

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »