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The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith

Part 3 out of 4

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repent, and we both shall yet be happy. We shall see many
pleasant days yet, my Olivia!'--'Ah! never, sir, never. The rest
of my wretched life must be infamy abroad and shame at home. But,
alas! papa, you look much paler than you used to do. Could such a
thing as I am give you so much uneasiness? Sure you have too much
wisdom to take the miseries of my guilt upon yourself.'--'Our
wisdom, young woman,' replied I.--'Ah, why so cold a name papa?'
cried she. 'This is the first time you ever called me by so cold
a name.'--'I ask pardon, my darling,' returned I; 'but I was
going to observe, that wisdom makes but a slow defence against
trouble, though at last a sure one.

The landlady now returned to know if we did not chuse a more
genteel apartment, to which assenting, we were shewn a room,
where we could converse more freely. After we had talked
ourselves into some degree of tranquillity, I could not avoid
desiring some account of the gradations that led to her present
wretched situation. 'That villain, sir,' said she, 'from the
first day of our meeting made me honourable, though private,

'Villain indeed,' cried I; 'and yet it in some measure surprizes
me, how a person of Mr Burchell's good sense and seeming honour
could be guilty of such deliberate baseness, and thus step into a
family to undo it.'

'My dear papa,' returned my daughter, 'you labour under a strange
mistake, Mr Burchell never attempted to deceive me. Instead of
that he took every opportunity of privately admonishing me
against the artifices of Mr Thornhill, who I now find was even
worse than he represented him.'--'Mr Thornhill,' interrupted I,
'can it be?' --'Yes, Sir,' returned she, 'it was Mr Thornhill who
seduced me, who employed the two ladies, as he called them, but
who, in fact, were abandoned women of the town, without breeding
or pity, to decoy us up to London. Their artifices, you may
remember would have certainly succeeded, but for Mr Burchell's
letter, who directed those reproaches at them, which we all
applied to ourselves. How he came to have so much influence as to
defeat their intentions, still remains a secret to me; but I am
convinced he was ever our warmest sincerest friend.'

'You amaze me, my dear,' cried I; 'but now I find my first
suspicions of Mr Thornhill's baseness were too well grounded: but
he can triumph in security; for he is rich and we are poor. But
tell me, my child, sure it was no small temptation that could
thus obliterate all the impressions of such an education, and so
virtuous a disposition as thine.'

'Indeed, Sir,' replied she, 'he owes all his triumph to the
desire I had of making him, and not myself, happy. I knew that
the ceremony of our marriage, which was privately performed by a
popish priest, was no way binding, and that I had nothing to
trust to but his honour.' 'What,' interrupted I, 'and were you
indeed married by a priest, and in orders?'--'Indeed, Sir, we
were,' replied she, 'though we were both sworn to conceal his
name.'-- 'Why then, my child, come to my arms again, and now you
are a thousand times more welcome than before; for you are now
his wife to all intents and purposes; nor can all the laws of
man, tho' written upon tables of adamant, lessen the force of
that sacred connexion.'

'Alas, Papa,' replied she, 'you are but little acquainted with
his villainies: he has been married already, by the same priest,
to six or eight wives more, whom, like me, he has deceived and

'Has he so?' cried I, 'then we must hang the priest, and you
shall inform against him to-morrow.'--'But Sir,' returned she,
'will that be right, when I am sworn to secrecy?'--'My dear,' I
replied, 'if you have made such a promise, I cannot, nor will I
tempt you to break it. Even tho' it may benefit the public, you
must not inform against him. In all human institutions a smaller
evil is allowed to procure a greater good; as in politics, a
province may be given away to secure a kingdom; in medicine, a
limb may be lopt off, to preserve the body. But in religion the
law is written, and inflexible, never to do evil. And this law,
my child, is right: for otherwise, if we commit a smaller evil,
to procure a greater good, certain guilt would be thus incurred,
in expectation of contingent advantage. And though the advantage
should certainly follow, yet the interval between commission and
advantage, which is allowed to be guilty, may be that in which we
are called away to answer for the things we have done, and the
volume of human actions is closed for ever. But I interrupt you,
my dear, go on.'

'The very next morning,' continued she, 'I found what little
expectations I was to have from his sincerity. That very morning
he introduced me to two unhappy women more, whom, like me, he had
deceived, but who lived in contented prostitution. I loved him
too tenderly to bear such rivals in his affections, and strove to
forget my infamy in a tumult of pleasures. With this view, I
danced, dressed, and talked; but still was unhappy. The gentlemen
who visited there told me every moment of the power of my charms,
and this only contributed to encrease my melancholy, as I had
thrown all their power quite away. Thus each day I grew more
pensive, and he more insolent, till at last the monster had the
assurance to offer me to a young Baronet of his acquaintance.
Need I describe, Sir, how his ingratitude stung me. My answer to
this proposal was almost madness. I desired to part. As I was
going he offered me a purse; but I flung it at him with
indignation, and burst from him in a rage, that for a while kept
me insensible of the miseries of my situation. But I soon looked
round me, and saw myself a vile, abject, guilty thing, without
one friend in the world to apply to. Just in that interval, a
stage- coach happening to pass by, I took a place, it being my
only aim to be driven at a distance from a wretch I despised and
detested. I was set down here, where, since my arrival, my own
anxiety, and this woman's unkindness, have been my only
companions. The hours of pleasure that I have passed with my
mamma and sister, now grow painful to me. Their sorrows are much;
but mine is greater than theirs; for mine are mixed with guilt
and infamy.'

'Have patience, my child,' cried I, 'and I hope things will yet
be better. Take some repose to-night, and to-morrow I'll carry
you home to your mother and the rest of the family, from whom you
will receive a kind reception. Poor woman, this has gone to her
heart: but she loves you still, Olivia, and will forget it.


Offences are easily pardoned where there is love at bottom

The next morning I took my daughter behind me, and set out on my
return home. As we travelled along, I strove, by every
persuasion, to calm her sorrows and fears, and to arm her with
resolution to bear the presence of her offended mother. I took
every opportunity, from the prospect of a fine country, through
which we passed, to observe how much kinder heaven was to us,
than we to each other, and that the misfortunes of nature's
making were very few. I assured her, that she should never
perceive any change in my affections, and that during my life,
which yet might be long, she might depend upon a guardian and an
instructor. I armed her against the censures of the world, shewed
her that books were sweet unreproaching companions to the
miserable, and that if they could not bring us to enjoy life,
they would at least teach us to endure it.

The hired horse that we rode was to be put up that night at an
inn by the way, within about five miles from my house, and as I
was willing to prepare my family for my daughter's reception, I
determined to leave her that night at the inn, and to return for
her, accompanied by my daughter Sophia, early the next morning.
It was night before we reached our appointed stage: however,
after seeing her provided with a decent apartment, and having
ordered the hostess to prepare proper refreshments, I kissed her,
and proceeded towards home. And now my heart caught new
sensations of pleasure the nearer I approached that peaceful
mansion. As a bird that had been frighted from its nest, my
affections out-went my haste, and hovered round my little
fire-side, with all the rapture of expectation. I called up the
many fond things I had to say, and anticipated the welcome I was
to receive. I already felt my wife's tender embrace, and sniiled
at the joy of my little ones. As I walked but slowly, the night
wained apace. The labourers of the day were all retired to rest;
the lights were out in every cottage; no sounds were heard but of
the shrilling cock, and the deep-mouthed watch-dog, at hollow
distance. I approached my little abode of pleasure, and before I
was within a furlong of the place, our honest mastiff came
running to welcome me.

It was now near mid-night that I came to knock at my door: all
was still and silent: my heart dilated with unutterable
happiness, when, to my amazement, I saw the house bursting out in
a blaze of fire, and every apperture red with conflagration! I
gave a loud convulsive outcry, and fell upon the pavement
insensible. This alarmed my son, who had till this been asleep,
and he perceiving the flames, instantly waked my wife and
daughter, and all running out, naked, and wild with apprehension,
recalled me to life with their anguish. But it was only to
objects of new terror; for the flames had, by this time, caught
the roof of our dwelling, part after part continuing to fall in,
while the family stood, with silent agony, looking on, as if they
enjoyed the blaze. I gazed upon them and upon it by turns, and
then looked round me for my two little ones; but they were not to
be seen. O misery! 'Where,' cried I, 'where are my little ones?'-
-'They are burnt to death in the flames,' says my wife calmly,
'and I will die with them.'--That moment I heard the cry of the
babes within, who were just awaked by the fire, and nothing could
have stopped me. 'Where, where, are my children?' cried I,
rushing through the flames, and bursting the door of the chamber
in which they were confined, 'Where are my little ones?'--'Here,
dear papa, here we are,' cried they together, while the flames
were just catching the bed where they lay. I caught them both in
my arms, and snatched them through the fire as fast as possible,
while just as I was got out, the roof sunk in. 'Now,' cried I,
holding up my children, 'now let the flames burn on, and all my
possessions perish. Here they are, I have saved my, treasure.
Here, my dearest, here are our treasures, and we shall yet be
happy.' We kissed our little darlings a thousand times, they
clasped us round the neck, and seemed to share our transports,
while their mother laughed and wept by turns.

I now stood a calm spectator of the flames, and after some time,
began to perceive that my arm to the shoulder was scorched in a
terrible manner. It was therefore out of my power to give my son
any assistance, either in attempting to save our goods, or
preventing the flames spreading to our corn. By this time, the
neighbours were alarmed, and came running to our assistance; but
all they could do was to stand, like us, spectators of the
calamity. My goods, among which were the notes I had reserved for
my daughters' fortunes, were entirely consumed, except a box,
with some papers that stood in the kitchen, and two or three
things more of little consequence, which my son brought away in
the beginning. The neighbours contributed, however, what they
could to lighten our distress. They brought us cloaths, and
furnished one of our out-houses with kitchen utensils; so that by
day-light we had another, tho' a wretched, dwelling to retire to.
My honest next neighbour, and his children, were not the least
assiduous in providing us with every thing necessary, and
offering what ever consolation untutored benevolence could

When the fears of my family had subsided, curiosity to know the
cause of my long stay began to take place; having therefore
informed them of every particular, I proceeded to prepare them
for the reception of our lost one, and tho' we had nothing but
wretchedness now to impart, I was willing to procure her a
welcome to what we had. This task would have been more difficult
but for our recent calamity, which had humbled my wife's pride,
and blunted it by more poignant afflictions. Being unable to go
for my poor child myself, as my arm grew very painful, I sent my
son and daughter, who soon returned, supporting the wretched
delinquent, who had not the courage to look up at her mother,
whom no instructions of mine could persuade to a perfect
reconciliation; for women have a much stronger sense of female
error than men. 'Ah, madam,' cried her mother, 'this is but a
poor place you are come to after so much finery. My daughter
Sophy and I can afford but little entertainment to persons who
have kept company only with people of distinction. Yes, Miss
Livy, your poor father and I have suffered very much of late; but
I hope heaven will forgive you.'--During this reception, the
unhappy victim stood pale and trembling, unable to weep or to
reply; but I could not continue a silent spectator of her
distress, wherefore assuming a degree of severity in my voice and
manner, which was ever followed with instant submission, 'I
entreat, woman, that my words may be now marked once for all: I
have here brought you back a poor deluded wanderer; her return to
duty demands the revival of our tenderness. The real hardships of
life are now coming fast upon us, let us not therefore encrease
them by dissention among each other. If we live harmoniously
together, we may yet be contented, as there are enough of us to
shut out the censuring world, and keep each other in countenance.
The kindness of heaven is promised to the penitent, and let ours
be directed by the example. Heaven, we are assured, is much more
pleased to view a repentant sinner, than ninety nine persons who
have supported a course of undeviating rectitude. And this is
right; for that single effort by which we stop short in the
downhill path to perdition, is itself a greater exertion of
virtue, than an hundred acts of justice.'


None but the guilty can be long and completely miserable

Some assiduity was now required to make our present abode as
convenient as possible, and we were soon again qualified to enjoy
our former serenity. Being disabled myself from assisting my son
in our usual occupations, I read to my family from the few books
that were saved, and particularly from such, as, by amusing the
imagination, contributed to ease the heart. Our good neighbours
too came every day with the kindest condolence, and fixed a time
in which they were all to assist at repairing my former dwelling.
Honest farmer Williams was not last among these visitors; but
heartily offered his friendship. He would even have renewed his
addresses to my daughter; but she rejected them in such a manner
as totally represt his future solicitations. Her grief seemed
formed for continuing, and she was the only person of our little
society that a week did not restore to cheerfulness. She now lost
that unblushing innocence which once taught her to respect
herself, and to seek pleasure by pleasing. Anxiety now had taken
strong possession of her mind, her beauty began to be impaired
with her constitution, and neglect still more contributed to
diminish it. Every tender epithet bestowed on her sister brought
a pang to her heart and a tear to her eye; and as one vice, tho'
cured, ever plants others where it has been, so her former guilt,
tho' driven out by repentance, left jealousy and envy behind. I
strove a thousand ways to lessen her care, and even forgot my own
pain in a concern for her's, collecting such amusing passages of
history, as a strong memory and some reading could suggest. 'Our
happiness, my dear,' I would say, 'is in the power of one who can
bring it about a thousand unforeseen ways, that mock our
foresight. If example be necessary to prove this, I'll give you a
story, my child, told us by a grave, tho' sometimes a romancing,

'Matilda was married very young to a Neapolitan nobleman of the
first quality, and found herself a widow and a mother at the age
of fifteen. As she stood one day caressing her infant son in the
open window of an apartment, which hung over the river Volturna,
the child, with a sudden spring, leaped from her arms into the
flood below, and disappeared in a moment. The mother, struck with
instant surprize, and making all effort to save him, plunged in
after; but, far from being able to assist the infant, she herself
with great difficulty escaped to the opposite shore, just when
some French soldiers were plundering the country on that side,
who immediately made her their prisoner.

'As the war was then carried on between the French and Italians
with the utmost inhumanity, they were going at once to perpetrate
those two extremes, suggested by appetite and cruelty. This base
resolution, however, was opposed by a young officer, who, tho'
their retreat required the utmost expedition, placed her behind
him, and brought her in safety to his native city. Her beauty at
first caught his eye, her merit soon after his heart. They were
married; he rose to the highest posts; they lived long together,
and were happy. But the felicity of a soldier can never be called
permanent: after an interval of several years, the troops which
he commanded having met with a repulse, he was obliged to take
shelter in the city where he had lived with his wife. Here they
suffered a siege, and the city at length was taken. Few histories
can produce more various instances of cruelty, than those which
the French and Italians at that time exercised upon each other.
It was resolved by the victors, upon this occasion, to put all
the French prisoners to death; but particularly the husband of
the unfortunate Matilda, as he was principally instrumental in
protracting the siege. Their determinations were, in general,
executed almost as soon as resolved upon. The captive soldier was
led forth, and the executioner, with his sword, stood ready,
while the spectators in gloomy silence awaited the fatal blow,
which was only suspended till the general, who presided as judge,
should give the signal. It was in this interval of anguish and
expectation, that Matilda came to take her last farewell of her
husband and deliverer, deploring her wretched situation, and the
cruelty of fate, that had saved her from perishing by a premature
death in the river Volturna, to be the spectator of still greater
calamities. The general, who was a young man, was struck with
surprize at her beauty, and pity at her distress; but with still
stronger emotions when he heard her mention her former dangers.
He was her son, the infant for whom she had encounter'd so much
danger. He acknowledged her at once as his mother, and fell at
her feet. The rest may be easily supposed: the captive was set
free, and all the happiness that love, friendship, and duty could
confer on each, were united.'

In this manner I would attempt to amuse my daughter; but she
listened with divided attention; for her own misfortunes
engrossed all the pity she once had for those of another, and
nothing gave her ease. In company she dreaded contempt; and in
solitude she only found anxiety. Such was the colour of her
wretchedness, when we received certain information, that Mr
Thornhill was going to be married to Miss Wilmot, for whom I
always suspected he had a real passion, tho' he took every
opportunity before me to express his contempt both of her person
and fortune. This news only served to encrease poor Olivia's
affliction; such a flagrant breach of fidelity, was more than her
courage could support. I was resolved, however, to get more
certain information, and to defeat, if possible, the completion
of his designs, by sending my son to old Mr Wilmot's, with
instructions to know the truth of the report, and to deliver Miss
Wilmot a letter, intimating Mr Thornhill's conduct in my family.
My son went, in pursuance of my directions, and in three days
returned, assuring us of the truth of the account; but that he
had found it impossible to deliver the letter, which he was
therefore obliged to leave, as Mr Thornhill and Miss Wilmot were
visiting round the country. They were to be married, he said, in
a few days, having appeared together at church the Sunday before
he was there, in great spiendour, the bride attended by six young
ladies, and he by as many gentlemen. Their approaching nuptials
filled the whole country with rejoicing, and they usually rode
out together in the grandest equipage that had been seen in the
country for many years. All the friends of both families, he
said, were there, particularly the 'Squire's uncle, Sir William
Thornhill, who bore so good a character. He added, that nothing
but mirth and feasting were going forward; that all the country
praised the young bride's beauty, and the bridegroom's fine
person, and that they were immensely fond of each other;
concluding, that he could not help thinking Mr Thornhill one of
the most happy men in the world.

'Why let him if he can,' returned I: 'but, my son, observe this
bed of straw, and unsheltering roof; those mouldering walls, and
humid floor; my wretched body thus disabled by fire, and my
children weeping round me for bread; you have come home, my
child, to all this, yet here, even here, you see a man that would
not for a thousand worlds exchange situations. O, my children, if
you could but learn to commune with your own hearts, and know
what noble company you can make them, you would little regard the
elegance and splendours of the worthless. Almost all men have
been taught to call life a passage, and themselves the
travellers. The similitude still may be improved when we observe
that the good are joyful and serene, like travellers that are
going towards home; the wicked but by intervals happy, like
travellers that are going into exile.'

My compassion for my poor daughter, overpowered by this new
disaster, interrupted what I had farther to observe. I bade her
mother support her, and after a short time she recovered. She
appeared from that time more calm, and I imagined had gained a
new degree of resolution; but appearances deceived me; for her
tranquility was the langour of over-wrought resentment. A supply
of provisions, charitably sent us by my kind parishioners, seemed
to diffuse new cheerfulness amongst the rest of the family, nor
was I displeased at seeing them once more sprightly and at ease.
It would have been unjust to damp their satisfactions, merely to
condole with resolute melancholy, or to burthen them with a
sadness they did not feel. Thus, once more, the tale went round
and the song was demanded, and cheerfulness condescended to hover
round our little habitation.


Fresh calamities

The next morning the sun rose with peculiar warmth for the
season; so that we agreed to breakfast together on the
honeysuckle bank: where, while we sate, my youngest daughter, at
my request, joined her voice to the concert on the trees about
us. It was in this place my poor Olivia first met her seducer,
and every object served to recall her sadness. But that
melancholy, which is excited by objects of pleasure, or inspired
by sounds of harmony, sooths the heart instead of corroding it.
Her mother too, upon this occasion, felt a pleasing distress, and
wept, and loved her daughter as before. 'Do, my pretty Olivia,'
cried she, 'let us have that little melancholy air your pappa was
so fond of, your sister Sophy has already obliged us. Do child,
it will please your old father.' She complied in a manner so
exquisitely pathetic as moved me.

When lovely woman stoops to folly,
And finds too late that men betray,
What charm can sooth her melancholy,
What art can wash her guilt away?

The only art her guilt to cover,
To hide her shame from every eye,
To give repentance to her lover,
And wring his bosom--is to die.

As she was concluding the last stanza, to which an interruption
in her voice from sorrow gave peculiar softness, the appearance
of Mr Thornhill's equipage at a distance alarmed us all, but
particularly encreased the uneasiness of my eldest daughter, who,
desirous of shunning her betrayer, returned to the house with her
sister. In a few minutes he was alighted from his chariot, and
making up to the place where I was still sitting, enquired after
my health with his usual air of familiarity. 'Sir,' replied I,
'your present assurance only serves to aggravate the baseness of
your character; and there was a time when I would have chastised
your insolence, for presuming thus to appear before me. But now
you are safe; for age has cooled my passions, and my calling
restrains them.'

'I vow, my dear sir,' returned he, 'I am amazed at all this; nor
can I understand what it means! I hope you don't think your
daughter's late excursion with me had any thing criminal in it.'

'Go,' cried I, 'thou art a wretch, a poor pitiful wretch, and
every way a lyar; but your meanness secures you from my anger!
Yet sir, I am descended from a family that would not have borne
this! And so, thou vile thing, to gratify a momentary passion,
thou hast made one poor creature wretched for life, and polluted
a family that had nothing but honour for their portion.'

'If she or you,' returned he, 'are resolved to be miserable, I
cannot help it. But you may still be happy; and whatever opinion
you may have formed of me, you shall ever find me ready to
contribute to it. We can marry her to another in a short time,
and what is more, she may keep her lover beside; for I protest I
shall ever continue to have a true regard for her.'

I found all my passions alarmed at this new degrading proposal;
for though the mind may often be calm under great injuries,
little villainy can at any time get within the soul, and sting it
into rage.--'Avoid my sight, thou reptile,' cried I, 'nor
continue to insult me with thy presence. Were my brave son at
home, he would not suffer this; but I am old, and disabled, and
every way undone.'

'I find,' cried he, 'you are bent upon obliging me to talk in an
harsher manner than I intended. But as I have shewn you what may
be hoped from my friendship, it may not be improper to represent
what may be the consequences of my resentment. My attorney, to
whom your late bond has been transferred, threatens hard, nor do
I know how to prevent the course of justice, except by paying the
money myself, which, as I have been at some expences lately,
previous to my intended marriage, is not so easy to be done. And
then my steward talks of driving for the rent: it is certain he
knows his duty; for I never trouble myself with affairs of that
nature. Yet still I could wish to serve you, and even to have you
and your daughter present at my marriage, which is shortly to be
solemnized with Miss Wilmot; it is even the request of my
charming Arabella herself, whom I hope you will not refuse.'

'Mr Thornhill,' replied I, 'hear me once for all: as to your
marriage with any but my daughter, that I never will consent to;
and though your friendship could raise me to a throne, or your
resentment sink me to the grave, yet would I despise both. Thou
hast once wofully, irreparably, deceived me. I reposed my heart
upon thine honour, and have found its baseness. Never more,
therefore, expect friendship from me. Go, and possess what
fortune has given thee, beauty, riches, health, and pleasure. Go,
and leave me to want, infamy, disease, and sorrow. Yet humbled as
I am, shall my heart still vindicate its dignity, and though thou
hast my forgiveness, thou shalt ever have my contempt.'

'If so,' returned he, 'depend upon it you shall feel the effects
of this insolence, and we shall shortly see which is the fittest
object of scorn, you or me.'--Upon which he departed abruptly.

My wife and son, who were present at this interview, seemed
terrified with the apprehension. My daughters also, finding that
he was gone, came out to be informed of the result of our
conference, which, when known, alarmed them not less than the
rest. But as to myself, I disregarded the utmost stretch of his
malevolence: he had already struck the blow, and now I stood
prepared to repel every new effort. Like one of those instruments
used in the art of war, which, however thrown, still presents a
point to receive the enemy.

We soon, however, found that he had not threatened in vain; for
the very next morning his steward came to demand my annual rent,
which, by the train of accidents already related, I was unable to
pay. The consequence of my incapacity was his driving my cattle
that evening, and their being appraised and sold the next day for
less than half their value. My wife and children now therefore
entreated me to comply upon any terms, rather than incur certain
destruction. They even begged of me to admit his visits once
more, and used all their little eloquence to paint the calamities
I was going to endure. The terrors of a prison, in so rigorous a
season as the present, with the danger, that threatened my health
from the late accident that happened by the fire. But I continued

'Why, my treasures,' cried I, 'why will you thus attempt to
persuade me to the thing that is not right! My duty has taught me
to forgive him; but my conscience will not permit me to approve.
Would you have me applaud to the world what my heart must
internally condemn? Would you have me tamely sit down and flatter
our infamous betrayer; and to avoid a prison continually suffer
the more galling bonds of mental confinement! No, never. If we
are to be taken from this abode, only let us hold to the right,
and wherever we are thrown, we can still retire to a charming
apartment, when we can look round our own hearts with intrepidity
and with pleasure!'

In this manner we spent that evening. Early the next morning, as
the snow had fallen in great abundance in the night, my son was
employed in clearing it away, and opening a passage before the
door. He had not been thus engaged long, when he came running in,
with looks all pale, to tell us that two strangers, whom he knew
to be officers of justice, were making towards the house.

Just as he spoke they came in, and approaching the bed where I
lay, after previously informing me of their employment and
business, made me their prisoner, bidding me prepare to go with
them to the county gaol, which was eleven miles off.

'My friends,' said I, 'this is severe weather on which you have
come to take me to a prison; and it is particularly unfortunate
at this time, as one of my arms has lately been burnt in a
terrible manner, and it has thrown me into a slight fever, and I
want cloaths to cover me, and I am now too weak and old to walk
far in such deep snow: but if it must be so--'

I then turned to my wife and children, and directed them to get
together what few things were left us, and to prepare immediately
for leaving this place. I entreated them to be expeditious, and
desired my son to assist his elder sister, who, from a
consciousness that she was the cause of all our calamities, was
fallen, and had lost anguish in insensibility. I encouraged my
wife, who, pale and trembling, clasped our affrighted little ones
in her arms, that clung to her bosom in silence, dreading to look
round at the strangers. In the mean time my youngest daughter
prepared for our departure, and as she received several hints to
use dispatch, in about an hour we were ready to depart.


No situation, however wretched it seems, but has some sort of
comfort attending it

We set forward from this peaceful neighbourhood, and walked on
slowly. My eldest daughter being enfeebled by a slow fever, which
had begun for some days to undermine her constitution, one of the
officers, who had an horse, kindly took her behind him; for even
these men cannot entirely divest themselves of humanity. My son
led one of the little ones by the hand, and my wife the other,
while I leaned upon my youngest girl, whose tears fell not for
her own but my distresses.

We were now got from my late dwelling about two miles, when we
saw a crowd running and shouting behind us, consisting of about
fifty of my poorest parishioners. These, with dreadful
imprecations, soon seized upon the two officers of justice, and
swearing they would never see their minister go to gaol while
they had a drop of blood to shed in his defence, were going to
use them with great severity. The consequence might have been
fatal, had I not immediately interposed, and with some difficulty
rescued the officers from the hands of the enraged multitude. My
children, who looked upon my delivery now as certain, appeared
transported with joy, and were incapable of containing their
raptures. But they were soon undeceived, upon hearing me address
the poor deluded people, who came, as they imagined, to do me

'What! my friends,' cried I, 'and is this the way you love me! Is
this the manner you obey the instructions I have given you from
the pulpit! Thus to fly in the face of justice, and bring down
ruin on yourselves and me! Which is your ringleader? Shew me the
man that has thus seduced you. As sure as he lives he shall feel
my resentment. Alas! my dear deluded flock, return back to the
duty you owe to God, to your country, and to me. I shall yet
perhaps one day see you in greater felicity here, and contribute
to make your lives more happy. But let it at least be my comfort
when I pen my fold for immortality, that not one here shall be

They now seemed all repentance, and melting into tears, came one
after the other to bid me farewell. I shook each tenderly by the
hand, and leaving them my blessing, proceeded forward without
meeting any farther interruption. Some hours before night we
reached the town, or rather village; for it consisted but of a
few mean houses, having lost all its former opulence, and
retaining no marks of its ancient superiority but the gaol.

Upon entering, we put up at an inn, where we had such
refreshments as could most readily be procured, and I supped with
my family with my usual cheerfulness. After seeing them properly
accommodated for that night, I next attended the sheriff's
officers to the prison, which had formerly been built for the
purposes of war, and consisted of one large apartment, strongly
grated, and paved with stone, common to both felons and debtors
at certain hours in the four and twenty. Besides this, every
prisoner had a separate cell, where he was locked in for the

I expected upon my entrance to find nothing but lamentations, and
various sounds of misery; but it was very different. The
prisoners seemed all employed in one common design, that of
forgetting thought in merriment or clamour. I was apprized of the
usual perquisite required upon these occasions, and immediately
complied with the demand, though the little money I had was very
near being all exhausted. This was immediately sent away for
liquor, and the whole prison soon was filled with riot, laughter,
and prophaneness.

'How,' cried I to myself, 'shall men so very wicked be chearful,
and shall I be melancholy! I feel only the same confinement with
them, and I think I have more reason to be happy.'

With such reflections I laboured to become chearful; but
chearfulness was never yet produced by effort, which is itself
painful. As I was sitting therefore in a corner of the gaol, in a
pensive posture, one of my fellow prisoners came up, and sitting
by me, entered into conversation. It was my constant rule in life
never to avoid the conversation of any man who seemed to desire
it: for if good, I might profit by his instruction; if bad, he
might be assisted by mine. I found this to be a knowing man, of
strong unlettered sense; but a thorough knowledge of the world,
as it is called, or, more properly speaking, of human nature on
the wrong side. He asked me if I had taken care to provide myself
with a bed, which was a circumstance I had never once attended

'That's unfortunate,' cried he, 'as you are allowed here nothing
but straw, and your apartment is very large and cold. However you
seem to be something of a gentleman, and as I have been one
myself in my time, part of my bed-cloaths are heartily at your

I thanked him, professing my surprize at finding such humanity in
a gaol in misfortunes; adding, to let him see that I was a
scholar, 'That the sage ancient seemed to understand the value of
company in affliction, when he said, Ton kosman aire, ei dos ton
etairon; and in fact,' continued I, 'what is the World if it
affords only solitude?'

'You talk of the world, Sir,' returned my fellow prisoner; 'the
world is in its dotage, and yet the cosmogony or creation of the
world has puzzled the philosophers of every age. What a medly of
opinions have they not broached upon the creation of the world.
Sanconiathon, Manetho, Berosus, and Ocellus Lucanus have all
attempted it in vain. The latter has these words. Anarchon ara
kai atelutaion to pan, which implies'--'I ask pardon, Sir,' cried
I, 'for interrupting so much learning; but I think I have heard
all this before. Have I not had the pleasure of once seeing you
at Welbridge fair, and is not your name Ephraim Jenkinson?' At
this demand he only sighed. 'I suppose you must recollect,'
resumed I, 'one Doctor Primrose, from whom you bought a horse.'

He now at once recollected me; for the gloominess of the place
and the approaching night had prevented his distinguishing my
features before.--'Yes, Sir,' returned Mr Jenkinson, 'I remember
you perfectly well; I bought an horse, but forgot to pay for him.
Your neighbour Flamborough is the only prosecutor I am any way
afraid of at the next assizes: for he intends to swear positively
against me as a coiner. I am heartily sorry, Sir, I ever deceived
you, or indeed any man; for you see,' continued he, shewing his
shackles, 'what my tricks have brought me to.'

'Well, sir,' replied I, 'your kindness in offering me assistance,
when you could expect no return, shall be repaid with my
endeavours to soften or totally suppress Mr Flamborough's
evidence, and I will send my son to him for that purpose the
first opportunity; nor do I in the least doubt but he will comply
with my request, and as to my evidence, you need be under no
uneasiness about that.'

'Well, sit,' cried he, 'all the return I can make shall be yours.
You shall have more than half my bed-cloaths to night, and I'll
take care to stand your friend in the prison, where I think I
have some influence.'

I thanked him, and could not avoid being surprised at the present
youthful change in his aspect; for at the time I had seen him
before he appeared at least sixty.--'Sir,' answered he, you are
little acquainted with the world; I had at that time false hair,
and have learnt the art of counterfeiting every age from
seventeen to seventy. Ah sir, had I but bestowed half the pains
in learning a trade, that I have in learning to be a scoundrel, I
might have been a rich man at this day. But rogue as I am, still
I may be your friend, and that perhaps when you least expect it.'

We were now prevented from further conversation, by the arrival
of the gaoler's servants, who came to call over the prisoners
names, and lock up for the night. A fellow also, with a bundle of
straw for my bed attended, who led me along a dark narrow passage
into a room paved like the common prison, and in one corner of
this I spread my bed, and the cloaths given me by my fellow
prisoner; which done, my conductor, who was civil enough, bade me
a good- night. After my usual meditations, and having praised my
heavenly corrector, I laid myself down and slept with the utmost
tranquility till morning.


A reformation in the gaol. To make laws complete, they should
reward as well as punish

The next morning early I was awakened by my family, whom I found
in tears at my bed-side. The gloomy strength of every thing about
us, it seems, had daunted them. I gently rebuked their sorrow,
assuring them I had never slept with greater tranquility, and
next enquired after my eldest daughter, who was not among them.
They informed me that yesterday's uneasiness and fatigue had
encreased her fever, and it was judged proper to leave her
behind. My next care was to send my son to procure a room or two
to lodge the family in, as near the prison as conveniently could
be found. He obeyed; but could only find one apartment, which was
hired at a small expence, for his mother and sisters, the gaoler
with humanity consenting to let him and his two little brothers
lie in the prison with me. A bed was therefore prepared for them
in a corner of the room, which I thought answered very
conveniently. I was willing however previously to know whether my
little children chose to lie in a place which seemed to fright
them upon entrance.

'Well,' cried I, 'my good boys, how do you like your bed? I hope
you are not afraid to lie in this room, dark as it appears.'

'No, papa,' says Dick, 'I am not afraid to lie any where where
you are.'

'And I,' says Bill, who was yet but four years old, 'love every
place best that my papa is in.'

After this, I allotted to each of the family what they were to
do. My daughter was particularly directed to watch her declining
sister's health; my wife was to attend me; my little boys were to
read to me: 'And as for you, my son,' continued I, 'it is by the
labour of your hands we must all hope to be supported. Your
wages, as a day-labourer, will be full sufficient, with proper
frugality, to maintain us all, and comfortably too. Thou art now
sixteen years old, and hast strength, and it was given thee, my
son, for very useful purposes; for it must save from famine your
helpless parents and family. Prepare then this evening to look
out for work against to-morrow, and bring home every night what
money you earn, for our support.'

Having thus instructed him, and settled the rest, I walked down
to the common prison, where I could enjoy more air and room. But
I was not long there when the execrations, lewdness, and
brutality that invaded me on every side, drove me back to my
apartment again. Here I sate for some time, pondering upon the
strange infatuation of wretches, who finding all mankind in open
arms against them, were labouring to make themselves a future and
a tremendous enemy.

Their insensibility excited my highest compassion, and blotted my
own uneasiness from my mind. It even appeared a duty incumbent
upon me to attempt to reclaim them. I resolved therefore once
more to return, and in spite of their contempt to give them my
advice, and conquer them by perseverance. Going therefore among
them again, I informed Mr Jenkinson of my design, at which he
laughed heartily, but communicated it to the rest. The proposal
was received with the greatest good-humour, as it promised to
afford a new fund of entertainment to persons who had now no
other resource for mirth, but what could be derived from ridicule
or debauchery.

I therefore read them a portion of the service with a loud
unaffected voice, and found my audience perfectly merry upon the
occasion. Lewd whispers, groans of contrition burlesqued, winking
and coughing, alternately excited laughter. However, I continued
with my natural solemnity to read on, sensible that what I did
might amend some, but could itself receive no contamination from

After reading, I entered upon my exhortation, which was rather
calculated at first to amuse them than to reprove. I previously
observed, that no other motive but their welfare could induce me
to this; that I was their fellow prisoner, and now got nothing by
preaching. I was sorry, I said, to hear them so very prophane;
because they got nothing by it, but might lose a great deal: 'For
be assured, my friends,' cried I, 'for you are my friends,
however the world may disclaim your friendship, though you swore
twelve thousand oaths in a day, it would not put one penny in
your purse. Then what signifies calling every moment upon the
devil, and courting his friendship, since you find how scurvily
he uses you. He has given you nothing here, you find, but a
mouthful of oaths and an empty belly; and by the best accounts I
have of him, he will give you nothing that's good hereafter.

'If used ill in our dealings with one man, we naturally go
elsewhere. Were it not worth your while then, just to try how you
may like the usage of another master, who gives you fair promises
at least to come to him. Surely, my Friends, of all stupidity in
the world, his must be greatest, who, after robbing an house,
runs to the thieftakers for protection. And yet how are you more
wise? You are all seeking comfort from one that has already
betrayed you, applying to a more malicious being than any
thieftaker of them all; for they only decoy, and then hang you;
but he decoys and hangs, and what is worst of all, will not let
you loose after the hangman has done.'

When I had concluded, I received the compliments of my audience,
some of whom came and shook me by the hand, swearing that I was a
very honest fellow, and that they desired my further
acquaintance. I therefore promised to repeat my lecture next day,
and actually conceived some hopes of making a reformation here;
for it had ever been my opinion, that no man was past the hour of
amendment, every heart lying open to the shafts of reproof, if
the archer could but take a proper aim. When I had thus satisfied
my mind, I went back to my apartment, where my wife had prepared
a frugal meal, while Mr Jenkinson begged leave to add his dinner
to ours, and partake of the pleasure, as he was kind enough to
express it of my conversation. He had not yet seen my family, for
as they came to my apartment by a door in the narrow passage,
already described, by this means they avoided the common prison.
Jenkinson at the first interview therefore seemed not a little
struck with the beauty of my youngest daughter, which her pensive
air contributed to heighten, and my little ones did not pass

'Alas, Doctor,' cried he, 'these children are too handsome and
too good for such a place as this!'

Why, Mr Jenkinson', replied I, 'thank heaven my children are
pretty tolerable in morals, and if they be good, it matters
little for the rest.'

'I fancy, sir,' returned my fellow prisoner, 'that it must give
you great comfort to have this little family about you.'

'A comfort, Mr Jenkinson,' replied I, 'yes it is indeed a
comfort, and I would not be without them for all the world; for
they can make a dungeon seem a palace. There is but one way in
this life of wounding my happiness, and that is by injuring

'I am afraid then, sir,' cried he, 'that I am in some measure
culpable; for I think I see here (looking at my son Moses) one
that I have injured, and by whom I wish to be forgiven.'

My son immediately recollected his voice and features, though he
had before seen him in disguise, and taking him by the hand, with
a smile forgave him. 'Yet,' continued he, 'I can't help wondering
at what you could see in my face, to think me a proper mark for

'My dear sir,' returned the other, 'it was not your face, but
your white stockings and the black ribband in your hair, that
allured me. But no disparagement to your parts, I have deceived
wiser men than you in my time; and yet, with all my tricks, the
blockheads have been too many for me at last.'

'I suppose,' cried my son, 'that the narrative of such a life as
yours must be extremely instructive and amusing.'

'Not much of either,' returned Mr Jenkinson. 'Those relations
which describe the tricks and vices only of mankind, by
increasing our suspicion in life, retard our success. The
traveller that distrusts every person he meets, and turns back
upon the appearance of every man that looks like a robber, seldom
arrives in time at his journey's end.

'Indeed I think from my own experience, that the knowing one is
the silliest fellow under the sun. I was thought cunning from my
very childhood; when but seven years old the ladies would say
that I was a perfect little man; at fourteen I knew the world,
cocked my hat, and loved the ladies; at twenty, though I was
perfectly honest, yet every one thought me so cunning, that not
one would trust me. Thus I was at last obliged to turn sharper in
my own defence, and have lived ever since, my head throbbing with
schemes to deceive, and my heart palpitating with fears of

'I used often to laugh at your honest simple neighbour
Flamborough, and one way or another generally cheated him once a
year. Yet still the honest man went forward without suspicion,
and grew rich, while I still continued tricksy and cunning, and
was poor, without the consolation of being honest.

'However,' continued he, 'let me know your case, and what has
brought you here; perhaps though I have not skill to avoid a gaol
myself, I may extricate my friends.'

In compliance with his curiosity, I informed him of the whole
train of accidents and follies that had plunged me into my
present troubles, and my utter inability to get free.

After hearing my story, and pausing some minutes, he slapt his
forehead, as if he had hit upon something material, and took his
leave, saying he would try what could be done.


The same subject continued

The next morning I communicated to my wife and children the
scheme I had planned of reforming the prisoners, which they
received with universal disapprobation, alledging the
impossibility and impropriety of it; adding, that my endeavours
would no way contribute to their amendment, but might probably
disgrace my calling.

'Excuse me,' returned I, 'these people, however fallen, are still
men, and that is a very good title to my affections. Good council
rejected returns to enrich the giver's bosom; and though the
instruction I communicate may not mend them, yet it will
assuredly mend myself. If these wretches, my children, were
princes, there would be thousands ready to offer their ministry;
but, in my opinion, the heart that is buried in a dungeon is as
precious as that seated upon a throne. Yes, my treasures, if I
can mend them I will; perhaps they will not all despise me.
Perhaps I may catch up even one from the gulph, and, that will be
great gain; for is there upon earth a gem so precious as the
human soul?'

Thus saying, I left them, and descended to the common prison,
where I found the prisoners very merry, expecting my arrival; and
each prepared with some gaol trick to play upon the doctor. Thus,
as I was going to begin, one turned my wig awry, as if by
accident, and then asked my pardon. A second, who stood at some
distance, had a knack of spitting through his teeth, which fell
in showers upon my book. A third would cry amen in such an
affected tone as gave the rest great delight. A fourth had slily
picked my pocket of my spectacles. But there was one whose trick
gave more universal pleasure than all the rest; for observing the
manner in which I had disposed my books on the table before me,
he very dextrously displaced one of them, and put an obscene
jest-book of his own in the place. However I took no notice of
all that this mischievous groupe of little beings could do; but
went on, perfectly sensible that what was ridiculous in my
attempt, would excite mirth only the first or second time, while
what was serious would be permanent. My design succeeded, and in
less than six days some were penitent, and all attentive.

It was now that I applauded my perseverance and address, at thus
giving sensibility to wretches divested of every moral feeling,
and now began to think of doing them temporal services also, by
rendering their situation somewhat more comfortable. Their time
had hitherto been divided between famine and excess, tumultous
riot and bitter repining. Their only employment was quarrelling
among each other, playing at cribbage, and cutting tobacco
stoppers. From this last mode of idle industry I took the hint of
setting such as chose to work at cutting pegs for tobacconists
and shoemakers, the proper wood being bought by a general
subscription, and when manufactured, sold by my appointment; so
that each earned something every day: a trifle indeed, but
sufficient to maintain him.

I did not stop here, but instituted fines for the punishment of
immorality, and rewards for peculiar industry. Thus in less than
a fortnight I had formed them into something social and humane,
and had the pleasure of regarding myself as a legislator, who had
brought men from their native ferocity into friendship and

And it were highly to be wished, that legislative power would
thus direct the law rather to reformation than severity. That it
would seem convinced that the work of eradicating crimes is not
by making punishments familiar, but formidable. Then instead of
our present prisons, which find or make men guilty, which enclose
wretches for the commission of one crime, and return them, if
returned alive, fitted for the perpetration of thousands; we
should see, as in other parts of Europe, places of penitence and
solitude, where the accused might be attended by such as could
give them repentance if guilty, or new motives to virtue if
innocent. And this, but not the increasing punishments, is the
way to mend a state: nor can I avoid even questioning the
validity of that right which social combinations have assumed of
capitally punishing offences of a slight nature. In cases of
murder their right is obvious, as it is the duty of us all, from
the law of self-defence, to cut off that man who has shewn a
disregard for the life of another. Against such, all nature
arises in arms; but it is not so against him who steals my
property. Natural law gives me no right to take away his life, as
by that the horse he steals is as much his property as mine. If
then I have any right, it must be from a compact made between us,
that he who deprives the other of his horse shall die. But this
is a false compact; because no man has a right to barter his
life, no more than to take it away, as it is not his own. And
beside, the compact is inadequate, and would be set aside even in
a court of modern equity, as there is a great penalty for a very
trifling convenience, since it is far better that two men should
live, than that one man should ride. But a compact that is false
between two men, is equally so between an hundred, or an hundred
thousand; for as ten millions of circles can never make a square,
so the united voice of myriads cannot lend the smallest
foundation to falsehood. It is thus that reason speaks, and
untutored nature says the same thing. Savages that are directed
by natural law alone are very tender of the lives of each other;
they seldom shed blood but to retaliate former cruelty.

Our Saxon ancestors, fierce as they were in war, had but few
executions in times of peace; and in all commencing governments
that have the print of nature still strong upon them, scarce any
crime is held capital.

It is among the citizens of a refined community that penal laws,
which are in the hands of the rich, are laid upon the poor.
Government, while it grows older, seems to acquire the moroseness
of age; and as if our property were become dearer in proportion
as it increased, as if the more enormous our wealth, the more
extensive our fears, all our possessions are paled up with new
edicts every day, and hung round with gibbets to scare every

I cannot tell whether it is from the number of our penal laws, or
the licentiousness of our people, that this country should shew
more convicts in a year, than half the dominions of Europe
united. Perhaps it is owing to both; for they mutually produce
each other. When by indiscriminate penal laws a nation beholds
the same punishment affixed to dissimilar degrees of guilt, from
perceiving no distinction in the penalty, the people are led to
lose all sense of distinction in the crime, and this distinction
is the bulwark of all morality: thus the multitude of laws
produce new vices, and new vices call for fresh restraints.

It were to be wished then that power, instead a contriving new
laws to punish vice, instead of drawing hard the cards of society
till a convulsion come to burst them, instead of cutting away
wretches as useless, before we have tried their utility, instead
of converting correction into vengeance, it were to be wished
that we tried the restrictive arts of government, and made law
the protector, but not the tyrant of the people. We should then
find that creatures, whose souls are held as dross, only wanted
the hand of a refiner; we should then find that wretches, now
stuck up for long tortures, lest luxury should feel a momentary
pang, might, if properly treated, serve to sinew the state in
times of danger; that, as their faces are like ours, their hearts
are so too; that few minds are so base as that perseverance
cannot amend; that a man may see his last crime without dying for
it; and that very little blood will serve to cement our security.


Happiness and misery rather the result of prudence than of virtue
in this life. Temporal evils or felicities being regarded by
heaven as things merely in themselves trifling and unworthy its
care in the distribution

I had now been confined more than a fortnight, but had not since
my arrival been visited by my dear Olivia, and I greatly longed
to see her. Having communicated my wishes to my wife, the next
morning the poor girl entered my apartment, leaning on her
sister's arm. The change which I saw in her countenance struck
me. The numberless graces that once resided there were now fled,
and the hand of death seemed to have molded every feature to
alarm me. Her temples were sunk, her forehead was tense, and a
fatal paleness sate upon her cheek.

'I am glad to see thee, my dear,' cried I; 'but why this
dejection Livy? I hope, my love, you have too great a regard for
me, to permit disappointment thus to undermine a life which I
prize as my own. Be chearful child, and we yet may see happier

'You have ever, sir,' replied she, 'been kind to me, and it adds
to my pain that I shall never have an opportunity of sharing that
happiness you promise. Happiness, I fear, is no longer reserved
for me here; and I long to be rid of a place where I have only
found distress. Indeed, sir, I wish you would make a proper
submission to Mr Thornhill; it may, in some measure, induce him
to pity you, and it will give me relief in dying.'

'Never, child,' replied I, 'never will I be brought to
acknowledge my daughter a prostitute; for tho' the world may look
upon your offence with scorn, let it be mine to regard it as a
mark of credulity, not of guilt. My dear, I am no way miserable
in this place, however dismal it may seem, and be assured that
while you continue to bless me by living, he shall never have my
consent to make you more wretched by marrying another.'

After the departure of my daughter, my fellow prisoner, who was
by at this interview, sensibly enough expostulated upon my
obstinacy, in refusing a submission, which promised to give me
freedom. He observed, that the rest of my family was not to be
sacrificed to the peace of one child alone, and she the only one
who had offended me. 'Beside,' added he, 'I don't know if it be
just thus to obstruct the union of man and wife, which you do at
present, by refusing to consent to a match which you cannot
hinder, but may render unhappy.'

'Sir,' replied I, 'you are unacquainted with the man that
oppresses us. I am very sensible that no submission I can make
could procure me liberty even for an hour. I am told that even in
this very room a debtor of his, no later than last year, died for
want. But though my submission and approbation could transfer me
from hence, to the most beautiful apartment he is possessed of;
yet I would grant neither, as something whispers me that it would
be giving a sanction to adultery. While my daughter lives, no
other marriage of his shall ever be legal in my eye. Were she
removed, indeed, I should be the basest of men, from any
resentment of my own, to attempt putting asunder those who wish
for an union. No, villain as he is, I should then wish him
married, to prevent the consequences of his future debaucheries.
But now should I not be the most cruel of all fathers, to sign an
Instrument which must send my child to the grave, merely to avoid
a prison myself; and thus to escape one pang, break my child's
heart with a thousand?'

He acquiesced in the justice of this answer, but could not avoid
observing, that he feared my daughter's life was already too much
wasted to keep me long a prisoner. 'However,' continued he,
'though you refuse to submit to the nephew, I hope you have no
objections to laying your case before the uncle, who has the
first character in the kingdom for every thing that is just and
good. I would advise you to send him a letter by the post,
intimating all his nephew's ill usage, and my life for it that in
three days you shall have an answer.' I thank'd him for the hint,
and instantly set about complying; but I wanted paper, and
unluckily all our money had been laid out that morning in
provisions, however he supplied me.

For the three ensuing days I was in a state of anxiety, to know
what reception my letter might meet with; but in the mean time
was frequently solicited by my wife to submit to any conditions
rather than remain here, and every hour received repeated
accounts of the decline of my daughter's health. The third day
and the fourth arrived, but I received no answer to my letter:
the complaints of a stranger against a favourite nephew, were no
way likely to succeed; so that these hopes soon vanished like all
my former. My mind, however, still supported itself though
confinement and bad air began to make a visible alteration in my
health, and my arm that had suffered in the fire, grew worse. My
children however sate by me, and while I was stretched on my
straw, read to me by turns, or listened and wept at my
instructions. But my daughter's health declined faster than mine;
every message from her contributed to encrease my apprehensions
and pain. The fifth morning after I had written the letter which
was sent to sit William Thornhill, I was alarmed with an account
that she was speechless. Now it was, that confinement was truly
painful to me; my soul was bursting from its prison to be near
the pillow of my child, to comfort, to strengthen her, to receive
her last wishes, and teach her soul the way to heaven! Another
account came. She was expiring, and yet I was debarred the small
comfort of weeping by her. My fellow prisoner, some time after,
came with the last account. He bade me be patient. She was dead!-
-The next morning he returned, and found me with my two little
ones, now my only companions, who were using all their innocent
efforts to comfort me. They entreated to read to me, and bade me
not to cry, for I was now too old to weep. 'And is not my sister
an angel, now, pappa,' cried the eldest, 'and why then are you
sorry for her? I wish I were an angel out of this frightful
place, if my pappa were with me.' 'Yes,' added my youngest
darling, 'Heaven, where my sister is, is a finer place than this,
and there are none but good people there, and the people here are
very bad.'

Mr Jenkinson interupted their harmless prattle, by observing that
now my daughter was no more, I should seriously think of the rest
of my family, and attempt to save my own life, which was every
day declining, for want of necessaries and wholesome air. He
added, that it was now incumbent on me to sacrifice any pride or
resentment of my own, to the welfare of those who depended on me
for support; and that I was now, both by reason and justice,
obliged to try to reconcile my landlord.

'Heaven be praised,' replied I, 'there is no pride left me now, I
should detest my own heart if I saw either pride or resentment
lurking there. On the contrary, as my oppressor has been once my
parishioner, I hope one day to present him up an unpolluted soul
at the eternal tribunal. No, sir, I have no resentment now, and
though he has taken from me what I held dearer than all his
treasures, though he has wrung my heart, for I am sick almost to
fainting, very sick, my fellow prisoner, yet that shall never
inspire me with vengeance. I am now willing to approve his
marriage, and if this submission can do him any pleasure, let him
know, that if I have done him any injury, I am sorry for it.' Mr
Jenkinson took pen and ink, and wrote down my submission nearly
as I have exprest it, to which I signed my name. My son was
employed to carry the letter to Mr Thornhill, who was then at his
seat in the country. He went, and in about six hours returned
with a verbal answer. He had some difficulty, he said, to get a
sight of his landlord, as the servants were insolent and
suspicious; but he accidentally saw him as he was going out upon
business, preparing for his marriage, which was to be in three
days. He continued to inform us, that he stept up in the humblest
manner, and delivered the letter, which, when Mr Thornhill had
read, he said that all submission was now too late and
unnecessary; that he had heard of our application to his uncle,
which met with the contempt it deserved; and as for the rest,
that all future applications should be directed to his attorney,
not to him. He observed, however, that as he had a very good
opinion of the discretion of the two young ladies, they might
have been the most agreeable intercessors.

'Well, sir,' said I to my fellow prisoner, 'you now discover the
temper of the man that oppresses me. He can at once be facetious
and cruel; but let him use me as he will, I shall soon be free,
in spite of all his bolts to restrain me. I am now drawing
towards an abode that looks brighter as I approach it: this
expectation cheers my afflictions, and though I leave an helpless
family of orphans behind me, yet they will not be utterly
forsaken; some friend, perhaps, will be found to assist them for
the sake of their poor father, and some may charitably relieve
them for the sake of their heavenly father.'

Just as I spoke, my wife, whom I had not seen that day before,
appeared with looks of terror, and making efforts, but unable to
speak. 'Why, my love,' cried I, 'why will you thus encrease my
afflictions by your own, what though no submissions can turn our
severe mister, tho' he has doomed me to die in this place of
wretchedness, and though we have lost a darling child, yet still
you will find comfort in your other children when I shall be no
more.' 'We have indeed lost,' returned she, 'a darling child. My
Sophia, my dearest, is gone, snatched from us, carried off by

'How madam,' cried my fellow prisoner, 'Miss Sophia carried off
by villains, sure it cannot be?'

She could only answer with a fixed look and a flood of tears. But
one of the prisoners' wives, who was present, and came in with
her, gave us a more distinct account: she informed us that as my
wife, my daughter, and herself, were taking a walk together on
the great road a little way out of the village, a post-chaise and
pair drove up to them and instantly stopt. Upon which, a well
drest man, but not Mr Thornhill, stepping out, clasped my
daughter round the waist, and forcing her in, bid the postillion
drive on, so that they were out of sight in a moment.

'Now,' cried I, 'the sum of my misery is made up, nor is it in
the power of any thing on earth to give me another pang. What!
not one left! not to leave me one! the monster! the child that
was next my heart! she had the beauty of an angel, and almost the
wisdom of an angel. But support that woman, nor let her fall. Not
to leave me one!'--'Alas! my husband,' said my wife, 'you seem to
want comfort even more than I. Our distresses are great; but I
could bear this and more, if I saw you but easy. They may take
away my children and all the world, if they leave me but you.'

My Son, who was present, endeavoured to moderate our grief; he
bade us take comfort, for he hoped that we might still have
reason to be thankful.--'My child,' cried I, 'look round the
world, and see if there be any happiness left me now. Is not
every ray of comfort shut out; while all our bright prospects
only lie beyond the grave!'--'My dear father,' returned he, 'I
hope there is still something that will give you an interval of
satisfaction; for I have a letter from my brother George'--'What
of him, child,' interrupted I, 'does he know our misery. I hope
my boy is exempt from any part of what his wretched family
suffers?'--'Yes, sir,' returned he, 'he is perfectly gay,
chearful, and happy. His letter brings nothing but good news; he
is the favourite of his colonel, who promises to procure him the
very next lieutenancy that becomes vacant!'

'And are you sure of all this,' cried my wife, 'are you sure that
nothing ill has befallen my boy?'--'Nothing indeed, madam,'
returned my son, 'you shall see the letter, which will give you
the highest pleasure; and if any thing can procure you comfort, I
am sure that will.' 'But are you sure,' still repeated she, 'that
the letter is from himself, and that he is really so happy?'--
'Yes, Madam,' replied he, 'it is certainly his, and he will one
day be the credit and the support of our family!'--'Then I thank
providence,' cried she, 'that my last letter to him has
miscarried.' 'Yes, my dear,' continued she, turning to me, 'I
will now confess that though the hand of heaven is sore upon us
in other instances, it has been favourable here. By the last
letter I wrote my son, which was in the bitterness of anger, I
desired him, upon his mother's blessing, and if he had the heart
of a man, to see justice done his father and sister, and avenge
our cause. But thanks be to him that directs all things, it has
miscarried, and I am at rest.' 'Woman,' cried I, 'thou hast done
very ill, and at another time my reproaches might have been more
severe. Oh! what a tremendous gulph hast thou escaped, that would
have buried both thee and him in endless ruin. Providence,
indeed, has here been kinder to us than we to ourselves. It has
reserved that son to be the father and protector of my children
when I shall be away. How unjustly did I complain of being stript
of every comfort, when still I hear that he is happy and
insensible of our afflictions; still kept in reserve to support
his widowed mother, and to protect his brothers and sisters. But
what sisters has he left, he has no sisters now, they are all
gone, robbed from me, and I am undone.'--'Father,' interrupted my
son, 'I beg you will give me leave to read this letter, I know it
will please you.' Upon which, with my permission, he read as

Honoured Sir,--I have called off my imagination a few moments
from the pleasures that surround me, to fix it upon objects that
are still more pleasing, the dear little fire-side at home. My
fancy draws that harmless groupe as listening to every line of
this with great composure. I view those faces with delight which
never felt the deforming hand of ambition or distress! But
whatever your happiness may be at home, I am sure it will be some
addition to it, to hear that I am perfectly pleased with my
situation, and every way happy here.

Our regiment is countermanded and is not to leave the kingdom;
the colonel, who professes himself my friend, takes me with him
to all companies where he is acquainted, and after my first visit
I generally find myself received with encreased respect upon
repeating it. I danced last night with Lady G-, and could I
forget you know whom, I might be perhaps successful. But it is my
fate still to remember others, while I am myself forgotten by
most of my absent friends, and in this number, I fear, Sir, that
I must consider you; for I have long expected the pleasure of a
letter from home to no purpose. Olivia and Sophia too, promised
to write, but seem to have forgotten me. Tell them they are two
arrant little baggages, and that I am this moment in a most
violent passion with them: yet still, I know not how, tho' I want
to bluster a little, my heart is respondent only to softer
emotions. Then tell them, sir, that after all, I love them
affectionately, and be assured of my ever remaining

Your dutiful son.

'In all our miseries,' cried I, 'what thanks have we not to
return, that one at least of our family is exempted from what we
suffer. Heaven be his guard, and keep my boy thus happy to be the
supporter of his widowed mother, and the father of these two
babes, which is all the patrimony I can now bequeath him. May he
keep their innocence from the temptations of want, and be their
conductor in the paths of honour.' I had scarce said these words,
when a noise, like that of a tumult, seemed to proceed from the
prison below; it died away soon after, and a clanking of fetters
was heard along the passage that led to my apartment. The keeper
of the prison entered, holding a man all bloody, wounded and
fettered with the heaviest irons. I looked with compassion on the
wretch as he approached me, but with horror when I found it was
my own son.--'My George! My George! and do I find thee thus.
Wounded! Fettered! Is this thy happiness! Is this the manner you
return to me! O that this sight could break my heart at once and
let me die!'

'Where, Sir, is your fortitude,' returned my son with an intrepid
voice. 'I must suffer, my life is forfeited, and let them take

I tried to restrain my passions for a few minutes in silence, but
I thought I should have died with the effort--'O my boy, my heart
weeps to behold thee thus, and I cannot, cannot help it. In the
moment that I thought thee blest, and prayed for thy safety, to
behold thee thus again! Chained, wounded. And yet the death of
the youthful is happy. But I am old, a very old man, and have
lived to see this day. To see my children all untimely falling
about me, while I continue a wretched survivor in the midst of
ruin! May all the curses that ever sunk a soul fall heavy upon
the murderer of my children. May he live, like me, to see--'

'Hold, Sir,' replied my son, 'or I shall blush for thee. How,
Sir, forgetful of your age, your holy calling, thus to arrogate
the justice of heaven, and fling those curses upward that must
soon descend to crush thy own grey head with destruction! No,
Sir, let it be your care now to fit me for that vile death I must
shortly suffer, to arm me with hope and resolution, to give me
courage to drink of that bitterness which must shortly be my

'My child, you must not die: I am sure no offence of thine can
deserve so vile a punishment. My George could never be guilty of
any crime to make his ancestors ashamed of him.'

'Mine, Sir,' returned my son, 'is, I fear, an unpardonable one.
When I received my mother's letter from home, I immediately came
down, determined to punish the betrayer of our honour, and sent
him an order to meet me, which he answered, not in person, but by
his dispatching four of his domestics to seize me. I wounded one
who first assaulted me, and I fear desperately, but the rest made
me their prisoner. The coward is determined to put the law in
execution against me, the proofs are undeniable, I have sent a
challenge, and as I am the first transgressor upon the statute, I
see no hopes of pardon. But you have often charmed me with your
lessons of fortitude, let me now, Sir, find them in your

'And, my son, you shall find them. I am now raised above this
world, and all the pleasures it can produce. From this moment I
break from my heart all the ties that held it down to earth, and
will prepare to fit us both for eternity. Yes, my son, I will
point out the way, and my soul shall guide yours in the ascent,
for we will take our flight together. I now see and am convinced
you can expect no pardon here, and I can only exhort you to seek
it at that greatest tribunal where we both shall shortly answer.
But let us not be niggardly in our exhortation, but let all our
fellow prisoners have a share: good gaoler let them be permitted
to stand here, while I attempt to improve them.' Thus saying, I
made an effort to rise from my straw, but wanted strength, and
was able only to recline against the wall. The prisoners
assembled according to my direction, for they loved to hear my
council, my son and his mother supported me on either side, I
looked and saw that none were wanting, and then addressed them
with the following exhortation.


The equal dealings of providence demonstrated with regard to the
happy and the miserable here below. That from the nature of
pleasure and pain, the wretched must be repaid the balance of
their sufferings in the life hereafter

My friends, my children, and fellow sufferers, when I reflect on
the distribution of good and evil here below, I find that much
has been given man to enjoy, yet still more to suffer. Though we
should examine the whole world, we shall not find one man so
happy as to have nothing left to wish for; but we daily see
thousands who by suicide shew us they have nothing left to hope.
In this life then it appears that we cannot be entirely blest;
but yet we may be completely miserable!

Why man should thus feel pain, why our wretchedness should be
requisite in the formation of universal felicity, why, when all
other systems are made perfect by the perfection of their
subordinate parts, the great system should require for its
perfection, parts that are not only subordinate to others, but
imperfect in themselves? These are questions that never can be
explained, and might be useless if known. On this subject
providence has thought fit to elude our curiosity, satisfied with
granting us motives to consolation.

In this situation, man has called in the friendly assistance of
philosophy, and heaven seeing the incapacity of that to console
him, has given him the aid of religion. The consolations of
philosophy are very amusing, but often fallacious. It tells us
that life is filled with comforts, if we will but enjoy them; and
on the other hand, that though we unavoidably have miseries here,
life is short, and they will soon be over. Thus do these
consolations destroy each other; for if life is a place of
comfort, its shortness must be misery, and if it be long, our
griefs are protracted. Thus philosophy is weak; but religion
comforts in an higher strain. Man is here, it tells us, fitting
up his mind, and preparing it for another abode. When the good
man leaves the body and is all a glorious mind, he will find he
has been making himself a heaven of happiness here, while the
wretch that has been maimed and contaminated by his vices,
shrinks from his body with terror, and finds that he has
anticipated the vengeance of heaven. To religion then we must
hold in every circumstance of life for our truest comfort; for if
already we are happy, it is a pleasure to think that we can make
that happiness unending, and if we are miserable, it is very
consoling to think that there is a place of rest. Thus to the
fortunate religion holds out a continuance of bliss, to the
wretched a change from pain.

But though religion is very kind to all men, it has promised
peculiar rewards to the unhappy; the sick, the naked, the
houseless, the heavy-laden, and the prisoner, have ever most
frequent promises in our sacred law. The author of our religion
every where professes himself the wretch's friend, and unlike the
false ones of this world, bestows all his caresses upon the
forlorn. The unthinking have censured this as partiality, as a
preference without merit to deserve it. But they never reflect
that it is not in the power even of heaven itself to make the
offer of unceasing felicity as great a gift to the happy as to
the miserable. To the first eternity is but a single blessing,
since at most it but encreases what they already possess. To the
latter it is a double advantage; for it diminishes their pain
here, and rewards them with heavenly bliss hereafter.

But providence is in another respect kinder to the poor than the
rich; for as it thus makes the life after death more desirable,
so it smooths the passage there. The wretched have had a long
familiarity with every face of terror. The man of sorrow lays
himself quietly down, without possessions to regret, and but few
ties to stop his departure: he feels only nature's pang in the
final separation, and this is no way greater than he has often
fainted under before; for after a certain degree of pain, every
new breach that death opens in the constitution, nature kindly
covers with insensibility.

Thus providence has given the wretched two advantages over the
happy, in this life, greater felicity in dying, and in heaven all
that superiority of pleasure which arises from contrasted
enjoyment. And this superiority, my friends, is no small
advantage, and seems to be one of the pleasures of the poor man
in the parable; for though he was already in heaven, and felt all
the raptures it could give, yet it was mentioned as an addition
to his happiness, that he had once been wretched and now was
comforted, that he had known what it was to be miserable, and now
felt what it was to be happy.

Thus, my friends, you see religion does what philosophy could
never do: it shews the equal dealings of heaven to the happy and
the unhappy, and levels all human enjoyments to nearly the same
standard. It gives to both rich and poor the same happiness
hereafter, and equal hopes to aspire after it; but if the rich
have the advantage of enjoying pleasure here, the poor have the
endless satisfaction of knowing what it was once to be miserable,
when crowned with endless felicity hereafter; and even though
this should be called a small advantage, yet being an eternal
one, it must make up by duration what the temporal happiness of
the great may have exceeded by intenseness.

These are therefore the consolations which the wretched have
peculiar to themselves, and in which they are above the rest of
mankind; in other respects they are below them. They who would
know the miseries of the poor must see life and endure it. To
declaim on the temporal advantages they enjoy, is only repeating
what none either believe or practise. The men who have the
necessaries of living are not poor, and they who want them must
be miserable. Yes, my friends, we must be miserable. No vain
efforts of a refined imagination can sooth the wants of nature,
can give elastic sweetness to the dank vapour of a dungeon, or
ease to the throbbings of a broken heart. Let the philosopher
from his couch of softness tell us that we can resist all these.
Alas! the effort by which we resist them is still the greatest
pain! Death is slight, and any man may sustain it; but torments
are dreadful, and these no man can endure.

To us then, my friends, the promises of happiness in heaven
should be peculiarly dear; for if our reward be in this life
alone, we are then indeed of all men the most miserable. When I
look round these gloomy walls, made to terrify, as well as to
confine us; this light that only serves to shew the horrors of
the place, those shackles that tyranny has imposed, or crime made
necessary; when I survey these emaciated looks, and hear those
groans, O my friends, what a glorious exchange would heaven be
for these. To fly through regions unconfined as air, to bask in
the sunshine of eternal bliss, to carrol over endless hymns of
praise, to have no master to threaten or insult us, but the form
of goodness himself for ever in our eyes, when I think of these
things, death becomes the messenger of very glad tidings; when I
think of these things, his sharpest arrow becomes the staff of my
support; when I think of these things, what is there in life
worth having; when I think of these things, what is there that
should not be spurned away: kings in their palaces should groan
for such advantages; but we, humbled as we are, should yearn for

And shall these things be ours? Ours they will certainly be if we
but try for them; and what is a comfort, we are shut out from
many temptations that would retard our pursuit. Only let us try
for them, and they will certainly be ours, and what is still a
comfort, shortly too; for if we look back on past life, it
appears but a very short span, and whatever we may think of the
rest of life, it will yet be found of less duration; as we grow
older, the days seem to grow shorter, and our intimacy with time,
ever lessens the perception of his stay. Then let us take comfort
now, for we shall soon be at our journey's end; we shall soon lay
down the heavy burthen laid by heaven upon us, and though death,
the only friend of the wretched, for a little while mocks the
weary traveller with the view, and like his horizon, still flies
before him; yet the time will certainly and shortly come, when we
shall cease from our toil; when the luxurious great ones of the
world shall no more tread us to the earth; when we shall think
with pleasure on our sufferings below; when we shall be
surrounded with all our friends, or such as deserved our
friendship; when our bliss shall be unutterable, and still, to
crown all, unending.


Happier prospects begin to appear. Let us be inflexible, and
fortune will at last change in our favour

When I had thus finished and my audience was retired, the gaoler,
who was one of the most humane of his profession, hoped I would
not be displeased, as what he did was but his duty, observing
that he must be obliged to remove my son into a stronger cell,
but that he should be permitted to revisit me every morning. I
thanked him for his clemency, and grasping my boy's hand, bade
him farewell, and be mindful of the great duty that was before

I again, therefore laid me down, and one of my little ones sate
by my bedside reading, when Mr Jenkinson entering, informed me
that there was news of my daughter; for that she was seen by a
person about two hours before in a strange gentleman's company,
and that they had stopt at a neighbouring village for
refreshment, and seemed as if returning to town. He had scarce
delivered this news, when the gaoler came with looks of haste and
pleasure, to inform me, that my daughter was found. Moses came
running in a moment after, crying out that his sister Sophy was
below and coming up with our old friend Mr Burchell.

Just as he delivered this news my dearest girl entered, and with
looks almost wild with pleasure, ran to kiss me in a transport of
affection. Her mother's tears and silence also shewed her
pleasure.--'Here, pappa,' cried the charming girl, 'here is the
brave man to whom I owe my delivery; to this gentleman's
intrepidity I am indebted for my happiness and safety--' A kiss
from Mr Burchell, whose pleasure seemed even greater than hers,
interrupted what she was going to add.

'Ah, Mr Burchell,' cried I, 'this is but a wretched habitation
you now find us in; and we are now very different from what you
last saw us. You were ever our friend: we have long discovered
our errors with regard to you, and repented of our ingratitude.
After the vile usage you then received at my hands I am almost
ashamed to behold your face; yet I hope you'll forgive me, as I
was deceived by a base ungenerous wretch, who, under the mask of
friendship, has undone me.'

'It is impossible,' replied Mr Burchell, 'that I should forgive
you, as you never deserved my resentment. I partly saw your
delusion then, and as it was out of my power to restrain, I could
only pity it!'

'It was ever my conjecture,' cried I, 'that your mind was noble;
but now I find it so. But tell me, my dear child, how hast thou
been relieved, or who the ruffians were who carried thee away?'

'Indeed, Sir,' replied she, 'as to the villain who carried me
off, I am yet ignorant. For as my mamma and I were walking out,
he came behind us, and almost before I could call for help,
forced me into the post-chaise, and in an instant the horses
drove away. I met several on the road, to whom I cried out for
assistance; but they disregarded my entreaties. In the mean time
the ruffian himself used every art to hinder me from crying out:
he flattered and threatened by turns, and swore that if I
continued but silent, he intended no harm. In the mean time I had
broken the canvas that he, had drawn up, and whom should I
perceive at some distance but your old friend Mr Burchell,
walking along with his usual swiftness, with the great stick for
which we used so much to ridicule him. As soon as we came within
hearing, I called out to him by name, and entreated his help. I
repeated my exclamations several times, upon which, with a very
loud voice, he bid the postillion stop; but the boy took no
notice, but drove on with still greater speed. I now thought he
could never overtake us, when in less than a minute I saw Mr
Burchell come running up by the side of the horses, and with one
blow knock the postillion to the ground. The horses when he was
fallen soon stopt of themselves, and the ruffian stepping out,
with oaths and menaces drew his sword, and ordered him at his
peril to retire; but Mr Burchell running up, shivered his sword
to pieces, and then pursued him for near a quarter of a mile; but
he made his escape. I was at this time come out myself, willing
to assist my deliverer; but he soon returned to me in triumph.
The postillion, who was recovered, was going to make his escape
too; but Mr Burchell ordered him at his peril to mount again, and
drive back to town. Finding it impossible to resist, he
reluctantly complied, though the wound he had received seemed, to
me at least, to be dangerous. He continued to complain of the
pain as we drove along, so that he at last excited Mr Burchell's
compassion, who, at my request, exchanged him for another at an
inn where we called on our return.'

'Welcome then,' cried I, 'my child, and thou her gallant
deliverer, a thousand welcomes. Though our chear is but wretched,
yet our hearts are ready to receive you. And now, Mr Burchell, as
you have delivered my girl, if you think her a recompence she is
yours, if you can stoop to an alliance with a family so poor as
mine, take her, obtain her consent, as I know you have her heart,
and you have mine. And let me tell you, Sir, that I give you no
small treasure, she has been celebrated for beauty it is true,
but that is not my meaning, I give you up a treasure in her

'But I suppose, Sir,' cried Mr Burchell, 'that you are apprized
of my circumstances, and of my incapacity to support her as she

'If your present objection,' replied I, 'be meant as an evasion
of my offer, I desist: but I know no man so worthy to deserve her
as you; and if I could give her thousands, and thousands sought
her from me, yet my honest brave Burchell should be my dearest

To all this his silence alone seemed to give a mortifying
refusal, and without the least reply to my offer, he demanded if
we could not be furnished with refreshments from the next inn, to
which being answered in the affirmative, he ordered them to send
in the best dinner that could be provided upon such short notice.
He bespoke also a dozen of their best wine; and some cordials for
me. Adding, with a smile, that he would stretch a little for
once, and tho' in a prison, asserted he was never better disposed
to be merry. The waiter soon made his appearance with
preparations for dinner, a table was lent us by the gaoler, who
seemed remarkably assiduous, the wine was disposed in order, and
two very well-drest dishes were brought in.

My daughter had not yet heard of her poor brother's melancholy
situation, and we all seemed unwilling to damp her cheerfulness
by the relation. But it was in vain that I attempted to appear
chearful, the circumstances of my unfortunate son broke through
all efforts to dissemble; so that I was at last obliged to damp
our mirth by relating his misfortunes, and wishing that he might
be permitted to share with us in this little interval of
satisfaction. After my guests were recovered, from the
consternation my account had produced, I requested also that Mr
Jenkinson, a fellow prisoner, might be admitted, and the gaoler
granted my request with an air of unusual submission. The
clanking of my son's irons was no sooner heard along the passage,
than his sister ran impatiently to meet him; while Mr Burchell,
in the mean time, asked me if my son's name were George, to which
replying in the affirmative, he still continued silent. As soon
as my boy entered the room, I could perceive he regarded Mr
Burchell with a look of astonishment and reverence. 'Come on,'
cried I, 'my son, though we are fallen very low, yet providence
has been pleased to grant us some small relaxation from pain. Thy
sister is restored to us, and there is her deliverer: to that
brave man it is that I am indebted for yet having a daughter,
give him, my boy, the hand of friendship, he deserves our warmest

My son seemed all this while regardless of what I said, and still
continued fixed at respectful distance.--'My dear brother,' cried
his sister, 'why don't you thank my good deliverer; the brave
should ever love each other.'

He still continued his silence and astonishment, till our guest
at last perceived himself to be known, and assuming all his
native dignity, desired my son to come forward. Never before had
I seen any thing so truly majestic as the air he assumed upon
this occasion. The greatest object in the universe, says a
certain philosopher, is a good man struggling with adversity; yet
there is still a greater, which is the good man that comes to
relieve it. After he had regarded my son for some time with a
superior air, 'I again find,' said he, 'unthinking boy, that the
same crime--' But here he was interrupted by one of the gaoler's
servants, who came to inform us that a person of distinction, who
had driven into town with a chariot and several attendants, sent
his respects to the gentleman that was with us, and begged to
know when he should think proper to be waited upon.--'Bid the
fellow wait,' cried our guest, 'till I shall have leisure to
receive him;' and then turning to my son, 'I again find, Sir,'
proceeded he, 'that you are guilty of the same offence for which
you once had my reproof, and for which the law is now preparing
its justest punishments. You imagine, perhaps, that a contempt
for your own life, gives you a right to take that of another: but
where, Sir, is the difference between a duelist who hazards a
life of no value, and the murderer who acts with greater
security? Is it any diminution of the gamester's fraud when he
alledges that he has staked a counter?'

'Alas, Sir,' cried I, 'whoever you are, pity the poor misguided
creature; for what he has done was in obedience to a deluded
mother, who in the bitterness of her resentment required him upon
her blessing to avenge her quarrel. Here, Sir, is the letter,
which will serve to convince you of her imprudence and diminish
his guilt.'

He took the letter, and hastily read it over. 'This,' says he,
'though not a perfect excuse, is such a palliation of his fault,
as induces me to forgive him. And now, Sir,' continued he, kindly
taking my son by the hand, 'I see you are surprised at finding me
here; but I have often visited prisons upon occasions less
interesting. I am now come to see justice done a worthy man, for
whom I have the most sincere esteem. I have long been a disguised
spectator of thy father's benevolence. I have at his little
dwelling enjoyed respect uncontaminated by flattery, and have
received that happiness that courts could not give, from the
amusing simplicity around his fire-side. My nephew has been
apprized of my intentions of coming here, and I find is arrived;
it would be wronging him and you to condemn him without
examination: if there be injury, there shall be redress; and this
I may say without boasting, that none have ever taxed the
injustice of Sir William Thornhill.'

We now found the personage whom we had so long entertained as an
harmless amusing companion was no other than the celebrated Sir
William Thornhill, to whose virtues and singularities scarce any
were strangers. The poor Mr Burchell was in reality a man of
large fortune and great interest, to whom senates listened with
applause, and whom party heard with conviction; who was the
friend of his country, but loyal to his king. My poor wife
recollecting her former familiarity, seemed to shrink with
apprehension; but Sophia, who a few moments before thought him
her own, now perceiving the immense distance to which he was
removed by fortune, was unable to conceal her tears.

'Ah, Sir,' cried my wife, with a piteous aspect, 'how is it
possible that I can ever have your forgiveness; the slights you
received from me the last time I had the honour of seeing you at
our house, and the jokes which I audaciously threw out, these
jokes, Sir, I fear can never be forgiven.'

'My dear good lady,' returned he with a smile, 'if you had your
joke, I had my answer: I'll leave it to all the company if mine
were not as good as yours. To say the truth, I know no body whom
I am disposed to be angry with at present but the fellow who so
frighted my little girl here. I had not even time to examine the
rascal's person so as to describe him in an advertisement. Can
you tell me, Sophia, my dear, whether you should know him again?'

'Indeed, Sir,' replied she, 'I can't be positive; yet now I
recollect he had a large mark over one of his eye-brows.' 'I ask
pardon, madam,' interrupted Jenkinson, who was by, 'but be so
good as to inform me if the fellow wore his own red hair?'--'Yes,
I think so,' cried Sophia.--'And did your honour,' continued he,
turning to Sir William, 'observe the length of his legs?'--'I
can't be sure of their length,' cried the Baronet, 'but I am
convinced of their swiftness; for he out-ran me, which is what I
thought few men in the kingdom could have done.'--'Please your
honour,' cried Jenkinson, 'I know the man: it is certainly the
same; the best runner in England; he has beaten Pinwire of
Newcastle, Timothy Baxter is his name, I know him perfectly, and
the very place of his retreat this moment. If your honour will
bid Mr Gaoler let two of his men go with me, I'll engage to
produce him to you in an hour at farthest.' Upon this the gaoler
was called, who instantly appearing, Sir William demanded if he
knew him. 'Yes, please your honour,' reply'd the gaoler, 'I know
Sir William Thornhill well, and every body that knows any thing
of him, will desire to know more of him.'--'Well then,' said the
Baronet, 'my request is, that you will permit this man and two of
your servants to go upon a message by my authority, and as I am
in the commission of the peace, I undertake to secure you.'--
'Your promise is sufficient,' replied the other, 'and you may at
a minute's warning send them over England whenever your honour
thinks fit.'

In pursuance of the gaoler's compliance, Jenkinson was dispatched
in search of Timothy Baxter, while we were amused with the
assiduity of our youngest boy Bill, who had just come in and
climbed up to Sir William's neck in order to kiss him. His mother
was immediately going to chastise his familiarity, but the worthy
man prevented her; and taking the child, all ragged as he was,
upon his knee, 'What, Bill, you chubby rogue,' cried he, 'do you
remember your old friend Burchell; and Dick too, my honest
veteran, are you here, you shall find I have not forgot you.' So
saying, he gave each a large piece of gingerbread, which the poor
fellows eat very heartily, as they had got that morning but a
very scanty breakfast.

We now sate down to dinner, which was almost cold; but
previously, my arm still continuing painful, Sir William wrote a
prescription, for he had made the study of physic his amusement,
and was more than moderately skilled in the profession: this
being sent to an apothecary who lived in the place, my arm was
dressed, and I found almost instantaneous relief. We were waited
upon at dinner by the gaoler himself, who was willing to do our
guest all the honour in his power. But before we had well dined,
another message was brought from his nephew, desiring permission
to appear, in order to vindicate his innocence and honour, with
which request the Baronet complied, and desired Mr Thornhill to
be introduced.


Former benevolence now repaid with unexpected interest

Mr Thornhill made his entrance with a smile, which he seldom
wanted, and was going to embrace his uncle, which the other
repulsed with an air of disdain. 'No fawning, Sir, at present,'
cried the Baronet, with a look of severity, 'the only way to my
heart is by the road of honour; but here I only see complicated
instances of falsehood, cowardice, and oppression. How is it,
Sir, that this poor man, for whom I know you professed a
friendship, is used thus hardly? His daughter vilely seduced, as
a recompence for his hospitality, and he himself thrown into a
prison perhaps but for resenting the insult? His son too, whom
you feared to face as a man--'

'Is it possible, Sir,' interrupted his nephew, 'that my uncle
could object that as a crime which his repeated instructions
alone have persuaded me to avoid.'

'Your rebuke,' cried Sir William, 'is just; you have acted in
this instance prudently and well, though not quite as your father
would have done: my brother indeed was the soul of honour; but
thou-- yes you have acted in this instance perfectly right, and
it has my warmest approbation.'

'And I hope,' said his nephew, 'that the rest of my conduct will
not be found to deserve censure. I appeared, Sir, with this
gentleman's daughter at some places of public amusement; thus
what was levity, scandal called by a harsher name, and it was
reported that I had debauched her. I waited on her father in
person, willing to clear the thing to his satisfaction, and he
received me only with insult and abuse. A s for the rest, with
regard to his being here, my attorney and steward can best inform
you, as I commit the management of business entirely to them. If
he has contracted debts and is unwilling or even unable to pay
them, it is their business to proceed in this manner, and I see
no hardship or injustice in pursuing the most legal means of

'If this,' cried Sir William, 'be as you have stated it, there is
nothing unpardonable in your offence, and though your conduct
might have been more generous in not suffering this gentleman to
be oppressed by subordinate tyranny, yet it has been at least

'He cannot contradict a single particular,' replied the 'Squire,
'I defy him to do so, and several of my servants are ready to
attest what I say. Thus, Sir,' continued he, finding that I was
silent, for in fact I could not contradict him, 'thus, Sir, my
own innocence is vindicated; but though at your entreaty I am
ready to forgive this gentleman every other offence, yet his
attempts to lessen me in your esteem, excite a resentment that I
cannot govern. And this too at a time when his son was actually
preparing to take away my life; this, I say, was such guilt, that
I am determined to let the law take its course. I have here the
challenge that was sent me and two witnesses to prove it; one of
my servants has been wounded dangerously, and even though my
uncle himself should dissuade me, which I know he will not, yet I
will see public justice done, and he shall suffer for it.'

'Thou monster,' cried my wife, 'hast thou not had vengeance
enough already, but must my poor boy feel thy cruelty. I hope
that good Sir William will protect us, for my son is as innocent
as a child; I am sure he is, and never did harm to man.'

'Madam,' replied the good man, 'your wishes for his safety are
not greater than mine; but I am sorry to find his guilt too
plain; and if my nephew persists--' But the appearance of
Jenkinson and the gaoler's two servants now called off our
attention, who entered, haling in a tall man, very genteelly
drest, and answering the description already given of the ruffian
who had carried off my daughter--'Here,' cried Jenkinson, pulling
him in, 'here we have him, and if ever there was a candidate for
Tyburn, this is one.'

The moment Mr Thornhill perceived the prisoner, and Jenkinson,
who had him in custody, he seemed to shrink back with terror. His
face became pale with conscious guilt, and he would have
withdrawn; but Jenkinson, who perceived his design, stopt him--
'What, 'Squire,' cried he, 'are you ashamed of your two old
acquaintances, Jenkinson and Baxter: but this is the way that all
great men forget their friends, though I am resolved we will not
forget you. Our prisoner, please your honour,' continued he,
turning to Sir William, 'has already confessed all. This is the
gentleman reported to be so dangerously wounded: He declares that
it was Mr Thornhill who first put him upon this affair, that he
gave him the cloaths he now wears to appear like a gentleman, and
furnished him with the post-chaise. The plan was laid between
them that he should carry off the young lady to a place of
safety, and that there he should threaten and terrify her; but Mr
Thornhill was to come in in the mean time, as if by accident, to
her rescue, and that they should fight awhile and then he was to
run off, by which Mr Thornhill would have the better opportunity
of gaining her affections himself under the character of her

Sir William remembered the coat to have been frequently worn by
his nephew, and all the rest the prisoner himself confirmed by a
more circumstantial account; concluding, that Mr Thornhill had
often declared to him that he was in love with both sisters at
the same time.

'Heavens,' cried Sir William, 'what a viper have I been fostering
in my bosom! And so fond of public justice too as he seemed to
be. But he shall have it; secure him, Mr Gaoler--yet hold, I fear
there is not legal evidence to detain him.'

Upon this, Mr Thornhill, with the utmost humility, entreated that
two such abandoned wretches might not be admitted as evidences
against him, but that his servants should be examined.--'Your
servants ' replied Sir William, 'wretch, call them yours no
longer: but come let us hear what those fellows have to say, let
his butler be called.'

When the butler was introduced, he soon perceived by his former
master's looks that all his power was now over. 'Tell me,' cried
Sir William sternly, 'have you ever seen your master and that
fellow drest up in his cloaths in company together?' 'Yes, please
your honour,' cried the butler, 'a thousand times: he was the man
that always brought him his ladies.'--'How,' interrupted young Mr
Thornhill, 'this to my face!'--'Yes,' replied the butler, 'or to
any man's face. To tell you a truth, Master Thornhill, I never
either loved you or liked you, and I don't care if I tell you now
a piece of my mind.'--'Now then,' cried Jenkinson, 'tell his
honour whether you know any thing of me.'--'I can't say,' replied

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