Page images


born 1727, died 1801, a daughter of Thomas Mulso, and a friend of Dr. Johnson, Richardson, and Elizabeth Carter, was the author of Letters on the Imprisonment of the Mind, Lond., 1773, 2 vols. 12mo; Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, 1775, 12mo; A Letter to a Newly Married Lady, 1777, 12mo, an Ode prefixed to Elizabeth Carter's Epictetus, 1758, 4to, and the story of Fidelia in The Adventurer, Nos. 77, 78, 79. Posthumous Works, with Life, Lond., 1807, 2 vols. 8vo; 2d edit., 1808, 2 vols. 12mo.

"You make verses, and they are read in public, and I know nothing about them. This very crime, I think, broke the link of amity between Richardson and Miss M[ulso], after a tenderness and confidence of many years."-DR. JOHNSON TO MRS. THRALE, 1780.


[ocr errors]

health, and agility:-to find your soul cleansed from all its faults and infirmities; exalted to the purest and noblest affections; overflowing with divine love and rapturous gratitude!-to have your understanding enlightened and refined; your heart enlarged and purified; and every power and disposition of mind and body adapted to the highest relish of virtue and happiness! Thus accomplished, to be admitted into the society of amiable and happy beings, all united in the most perfect peace and friendship, all breathing nothing but love to God, and to each other;-with them to dwell in scenes more delightful than the richest imagination can paint,-free from every pain and care, and from all possibility of change or satiety; but, above all, to enjoy the more immediate presence of God himself,to be able to comprehend and admire his adorable perfections in a high degree, though still far short of their infinity, to be conscious of his love and favour, and to rejoice in the light of his countenance! But here all imagination fails: we can form no idea of that bliss which may be communicated to us by such a near approach to the source of all beauty and all good: we must content ourselves with believing that it is "what mortal eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive." The crown of all our joys will be, to know that we are secure of possessing them forever,-what a transporting idea!

What a tremendous scene of the last day does the gospel place before our eyes of that day when you and every one of us shall awake from the grave, and behold the Son of God, on his glorious tribunal, attended by millions of celestial beings, of whose superior excellence we can now form no adequate idea, when in presence of all mankind, of those holy angels, and of the great Judge himself, you must give an account of your past life, and hear your final doom, from which there can be no appeal, and which must determine your fate to all eternity then think-if for a moment you can Can you reflect on all these things, and bear the thought-what will be the desola- not feel the most earnest longings after imtion, shame, and anguish of those wretched mortality? Do not all other views and desouls who shall hear those dreadful words: sires seem mean and trifling when compared "Depart from me, ye cursed, into ever- with this? And does not your inmost heart lasting fire, prepared for the devil and his resolve that this shall be the chief and angels."-Oh! cannot support even the constant object of its wishes and pursuit, idea of your becoming one of those undone, through the whole course of your life? If lost creatures! I trust, in God's mercy, that you are not insensible to that desire of hapyou will make a better use of that knowl-piness which seems woven into our nature, edge of his will which he has vouchsafed you and of those amiable dispositions he has given you. Let us therefore turn from this horrid, this insupportable view, and rather endeavour to imagine, as far as is possible, what will be the sensations of your soul if you should hear our heavenly Judge address you in these transporting words:-"Come, thou blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Think what it must be to become an object of the esteem and applause, -not only of all mankind assembled together, but of all the host of heaven, of our blessed Lord himself,-nay, of his and our Almighty Father:-to find your frail flesh changed, in a moment, into a glorious celestial body, endowed with perfect beauty,

you cannot surely be unmoved by the prospect of such a transcendent degree of it! and that continued to all eternity,—perhaps continually increasing. You cannot but dread the forfeiture of such an inheritance as the most insupportable evil! Remember then-remember the conditions on which alone it can be obtained. God will not give to vice, to carelessness, or sloth, the prize he has proposed to virtue. You have every help that can animate your endeavours: You have written laws to direct you,-the example of Christ and his disciples to encourage you, the most awakening motives to engage you, and you have, besides, the comfortable promise of constant assistance from the Holy Spirit, if you diligently and sincerely pray for it. O! let not all this mercy

be lost upon you,—but give your attention to this your only important concern, and accept, with profound gratitude, the inestimable advantages that are thus affectionately offered you.


born in Pallas, Ireland, 1728, died in London, 1774, will always be known by his poems of The Traveller, Lond., 1764, and The Deserted Village, Lond., 1770, 4to, and his novel, The Vicar of Wakefield, Lond., 1766,

2 vols. 12mo. For notices of his comedies, The Good-Natured Man and She Stoops to Conquer, his histories, The Citizen of the World, and other works we refer to his biographies by Prior, Irving, and Forster. Miscellaneous Works, with Life (by Bishop Percy), Lond., 1801, 4 vols. 8vo; by James Prior, Lond., 1837, 4 vols. 8vo (with Life, 6 vols. 8vo); by P. Cunningham, 1855, 4 Of his Poems there are many

vols. 8vo. editions.

"The admirable ease and grace of the narrative as well as the pleasing truth with which the principal characters are designed, make the Vicar of Wakefield one of the most delicious morsels of fictitious compositions on which the human mind was ever employed. . . . We read the Vicar of Wakefield in youth and in age; we return to it again and again, and bless the memory of an author who contrives so well to reconcile us to human nature."-SIR WALTER SCOTT: Life of Goldsmith. "The delineation of this character [that of the "excellent Wakefield"] on his course of life through joys and sorrows, the ever-increasing interest of the story, by the combination of the entirely natural with the strange and the singular, make this novel one of the best which has ever been written." -GÖTHE: Truth and Poetry; from My Own Life, English trans.


I was ever of opinion that the honest man who married and brought up a large family, did more service than he who continued single and only talked of population.

From this motive, I had scarcely taken orders a year before I began to think seriously of matrimony, and chose my wife as she did her wedding-gown, not for a fine glossy surface, but such qualities as would wear well. To do her justice, she was a good-natured notable woman; and as for breeding, there were few country ladies who could shew more. She could read any English book without much spelling; but for pickling, preserving, and cookery, none could excel her. She prided herself also upon being an excellent contriver in housekeeping; though I could never find that we grew richer with all her contrivance.

However, we loved each other tenderly,


and our fondness increased as we grew old. There was in fact nothing that could make us angry with the world or each other. We had an elegant house, situated in a fine country, and a good neighbourhood. year was spent in moral or rural amusements, in visiting our rich neighours, and relieving such as were poor. We had no revolutions to fear, nor fatigues to undergo; all our adventures were by the fireside, and all our migrations from the blue bed to the brown.

As we lived near the road, we often had the traveller or stranger visit us to taste our gooseberry wine, for which we had great reputation; and I profess with the veracity of an historian, that I never knew one of them to find fault with it. Our cousins too, even to the fortieth remove, all remembered their affinity, without any help from the heralds' office, and came very frequently to see us. Some of them did us no great honour by these claims of kindred; as we had the blind, the maimed, and the halt amongst the number. However, my wife always insisted that, as they were the same flesh and blood, they should sit with us at the same table. So that, if we had not very rich, we had generally very happy, friends about us: for this remark will hold good through life, that the poorer the guest, the better pleased he ever is with being treated: and as some men gaze with admiration at the colours of a tulip, or the wing of a butterfly, so I was by nature an admirer of happy human faces. However, when any one of our relations was found to be a person of very bad character. a troublesome guest, or one we desired to get rid of, upon his leaving my house I ever took care to lend him a riding-coat, or a pair of boots, or sometimes an horse of small value, and I always had the satisfaction of finding he never came back to return them. By this the house was cleared of such as we did not like; but never was the family of Wakefield known to turn the traveller, or the poor dependent, out of doors.

Thus we lived several years in a state of much happiness; not but that we sometimes had those little rubs which Providence sends to enchance the value of its favours. My orchard was often robbed by schoolboys, and my wife's custards plundered by the cats or the children. The 'Squire would sometimes fall asleep in the most pathetic parts of my sermon, or his lady return my wife's civilities at church with a mutilated courtesy. But we soon got over the uneasiness caused by such accidents, and usually in three or four days began to wonder how they vexed us.

My children, the offspring of temperance, as they were educated without softness, so they were at once well-formed and healthy:

my sons hardy and active, my daughters beautiful and blooming. When I stood in the midst of the little circle, which promised to be the supports of my declining age, I could not avoid repeating the famous story of Count Abensberg, who, in Henry II.'s progress through Germany, while other courtiers came with their treasures, brought his thirty-two children, and presented them to his sovereign as the most valuable offering he had to bestow. In this manner, though I had but six, I considered them as a very valuable present made to my country, and consequently looked upon it as my debtor.

Our oldest son was named George, after his uncle, who left us ten thousand pounds. Our second child, a girl, I intended to call after her aunt Grissel; but my wife, who, during her pregnancy, had been reading romances, insisted upon her being called Olivia. In less than another year we had another daughter, and now I was determined that Grissel should be her name; but a rich relation taking a fancy to stand godmother, the girl was, by her directions, called Sophia: so that we had two romantic names in the family but I solemnly protest I had no hand in it. Moses was our next, and after an interval of twelve years we had two sons



It would be fruitless to deny exultation when I saw my little ones about me; but the vanity and the satisfaction of my wife were even greater than mine. When our visitors would say, "Well, upon my word, Mrs. Primrose, you have the finest children in the whole country."-"Ay, neighbour," she would answer, 66 they are as heaven made them,-handsome enough, if they be good enough; for handsome is that handsome does." And then she would bid the girls hold up their heads; who, to conceal nothing, were certainly very handsome. Mere outside is so very trifling a circumstance with me, that I should scarcely have remembered to mention it, had it not been a general topic of conversation in the country. Olivia, now about eighteen, had that luxuriancy of beauty with which painters generally draw Hebe; open, sprightly, and commanding. Sophia's features were not so striking at first; but often did more certain execution; for they were soft, modest, and alluring. The one vanquished by a single blow, the other by efforts successfully repeated.


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 service.

"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 wanting.'

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 further 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 night. 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 apprised 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 rout, laughter, and profaneness.

"How!" cried I to myself, "shall men so very wicked be cheerful, 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 cheerful; but cheerfulness 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 fellowprisoners 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 to.

"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 bedclothes are heartily at your service."

I thanked him, professing my surprise 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 kosmon 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 medley of opinions have they not


broached upon the creation of the world! Sanchoniathon, Mantheo, 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 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 Dr. 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 a horse, but forgot to pay for him."

The Vicar of Wakefield, Ch. xxvi.


The next morning as soon as I awaked I found my eldest son sitting by my bedside, who came to increase my joy with another turn of fortune in my favour. First having released me from the settlement that I had made the day before in his favour, he let me know that my merchant who had failed in town was arrested at Antwerp, and there had given up effects to a much greater amount than what was due to his creditors. My boy's generosity pleased me almost as much as this unlooked-for good fortune. But I had some doubts whether I ought in justice to accept his offer. While I was pondering upon this, Sir William entered the room, to whom I communicated my doubts. His opinion was, that as my son was already possessed of a very affluent fortune by his marriage, I might accept his offer without any hesitation. His business, however, was to inform me, that as he had the night before sent for the licenses, and expected them every hour, he hoped that I would not refuse my assistance in making all the company happy that morning. A footman entered while we were speaking, to tell us that the messenger was returned, and, as I was by this time ready, I went down, where I found the whole company as merry as affluence and innocence could make them. However, as they were now preparing for a very solemn ceremony, their laughter entirely displeased me. I told them of the grave, becoming, and sublime deportment they should assume upon this mystical occasion, and read them two homilies and a thesis of my own composing, in order to prepare them. Yet they still seemed perfectly refractory and ungovernable. Even as we were going along to church,

to which I led the way, all gravity had quite forsaken them, and I was often tempted to turn back in indignation. In church a new dilemma arose, which promised no easy solution. This was, which couple should be married first: my son's bride warmly insisted that Lady Thornhill (that was to be) should take the lead; but this the other refused with equal ardour, protesting she would not be guilty of such rudeness for the world. The argument was supported for some time between both with equal obstinacy and good-breeding. But as I stood all this time with my book ready, I was at last quite tired of the contest, and shutting it, "I perceive," cried I," that none of you have a mind to be married, and I think we had as good go back again; for I suppose there will be no business done here to-day."-This at once reduced them to reason. The Baronet and his lady were first married, and then my son and his lovely partner.

I had previously that morning given orders that a coach should be sent for my honest neighbour Flamborough and his family, by which means, upon our return to the inn, we had the pleasure of finding the two Miss Flamboroughs alighted before us. Mr. Jenkinson gave his hand to the eldest and my son Moses led up the other (and I have since found that he has taken a real liking to the girl, and my consent and bounty he shall have whenever he thinks proper to command them). We were no sooner returned to the inn, but numbers of my parishioners, hearing of my success, came to congratulate me; but among the rest were those who rose to rescue me, and whom I formerly rebuked with much sharpness. I told the story to Sir William, my son-in-law, who went out and reproved them with great severity; but finding them quite disheartened by his harsh reproof, he gave them half-a-guinea a piece to drink his health and raise their dejected spirits.

Soon after this we were called to a very genteel entertainment, which was dressed by Mr. Thornhill's cook. And it may not be improper to observe with respect to that gentleman, that he now resides in quality of companion at a relation's house, being very well liked, and seldom sitting at the side-table, except when there is no room at the other; for they make no stranger of him. His time is pretty much taken up in keeping his relation, who is a little melancholy, in spirits, and in learning to blow the French-horn. My eldest daughter, however, still remembers him with regret and she has even told me, though I make a great secret of it, that when he reforms she may be brought to relent. But to return. for I am not apt to digress thus, when we

were to sit down to dinner our ceremonies were going to be renewed. The question was, Whether my eldest daughter, as being a matron, should not sit above the two young brides; but the debate was cut short by my son George, who proposed that the company should sit indiscriminately, every gentleman by his lady. This was received with great approbation by all, excepting my wife, who I could perceive was not perfectly satisfied, as she expected to have had the pleasure of sitting at the head of the table and carving all the meat for all the company. But notwithstanding this, it is impossible to describe our good humour. I can't say whether we had more wit among us now than usual; but I am certain we had more laughing, which answered the end as well. One jest I particularly remember: old Mr. Wilmot drinking to Moses, whose head was turned another way, my son replied, "Madam, I thank you.' Upon which the old gentleman, winking upon the rest of the company, observed that he was thinking of his mistress, at which jest I thought the two Miss Flamboroughs would have died with laughing. As soon as dinner was over. according to my old custom, I requested that the table might be taken away, to have the pleasure of seeing all my family assembled once more by a cheerful fireside. My two little ones sate upon each knee, the rest of the company by their partners. I had nothing now on this side of the grave to wish for all my cares were over, my pleasure was unspeakable. It now only remained that my gratitude in good fortune should exceed my former submission in adversity. The Vicar of Wakefield, Ch. xxxii.

[ocr errors]


The history of the rise of language and learning is calculated to gratify curiosity rather than to satisfy the understanding. An account of that period only, when language and learning arrived at its highest perfection, is the most conducive to real improvement, since it at once raises emulation, and directs to the proper objects. The age of Leo X. in Italy is confessed to be the Augustan age with them. The French writers seem agreed to give the same appellation to that of Louis XIV.; but the English are as yet undetermined with respect to themselves.

Some have looked upon the writers in the times of Queen Elizabeth as the true standard for future imitation; others have descended to the reign of James I., and others still lower, to that of Charles II. Were I to be permitted to offer an opinion upon this subject, I should readily give my vote for

« EelmineJätka »