Hannah Hewit: or, the female Crusoe. Being the history of a woman of uncommon, mental, and personal accomplishments; who, ... was cast away in the Grosvenor East-Indiaman: and became for three years the sole inhabitant of an island, in the South Seas. Supposed to be written by herself. [pt.1]
HANNAH HEWIT; OR, THE FEMALE CRUSOE. BEING THE HISTORY OF A WOMAN OF uncommon, mental, and perſonal accompliſhments; WHO, After a variety of extraordinary and intereſting adventures in almoſt every ſtation of life, from ſplendid proſperity to abject adverſity, WAS CAST AWAY IN THE GROSVENOR EAST-INDIAMAN: And became for three years the ſole inhabitant of AN ISLAND, IN THE SOUTH SEAS.
IT is particularly requeſted that the following Addreſs to the Public, may not be read till after a peruſal of the work itſelf; for, though it is not intended as a key, no ſuch thing being neceſſary, it is ſo far a ſort of elucidation, that a previous knowledge of it might ſerve, by anticipating ſome of the circumſtances, to take off the edge of the reader's curioſity; which, be it as keen as it may, will often be whetted in the courſe of his acquaintance with Hannah Hewit.
THE Readers of Hannah Hewit, having been requeſted to ſuppoſe that her life was written by herſelf, are now entreated to go on and ſuppoſe a little more; and firſt, that her brother, Captain Higgins, to whom Hewit's cheſt was given in care, was ſhipwrecked and loſt, in his paſſage home, on one of the Scilly Iſlands; and that the cargo and different effects of the Dane, and of courſe Hewit's cheſt, fell a prey to the fiſhermen, ſmugglers, and other uncivilized boors who inhabit thoſe iſlands.
Let me then intrude for a further ſuppoſition that Hewit's cheſt, having been thrown among ſome lumber in a cellar, was diſcovered, eight years afterwards, by a Grub-ſtreet Poet; who, tired out by a long ſeries of literary diſappointments, turned miſanthrope, and went to reſide in that obſcure part of the world.
This ſuppoſed, permit me to make intereſt for one more ſuppoſition, that by ſome circuitous route, no matter what, the whole of theſe materials came into my poſſeſſion; that I found them a large, looſe, indigeſted [Page ii] maſs; that I ſeperated, methodized, and regulated them, and that they are now given to the public in that form which I thought would be moſt acceptable.
Theſe ſuppoſitions, let me tell the reader, are not amiſs: Firſt, if Captain Higgins, notwithſtanding his boaſted ſecurity and implicit reliance on the wind, was caſt away, what cauſe would there be to admire the preſcience of Hannah Hewit, who warned him againſt taking the voyage, and actually prevailed on ſeven other perſons to ſtay with her, thereby ſaving their lives.
Next, the ſuppoſition that Hewit's cheſt, filled with manuſcripts, ſhould be thrown about like lumber among a ſet of people who could not read, is really neat enough; and, again, it is not only ingenious to ſay an author ſhould be the firſt to reſcue them from oblivion, but it is fairly in point, being poor, that he ſhould wiſh to get ſomething by them. The only wonder is, that he did not paſs them for his own; except, indeed, we believe that they are his invention, and that, as lady writing is now very faſhionable, he thought it his intereſt to foiſt them upon Hannah, but this laſt will not do, for it knocks up the other ſuppoſitions.
The laſt ſuppoſition, that this work, by ſome means or other, came into my hands, is not to be ſo eaſily cleared; [Page iii] for, account for it how I may, it is impoſſible that I ſhould every where gain credit. My readers, therefore, for I hope there will be a great many, and I am ſure they will all be candid and kind, having ſo handſomely indulged me with ſeveral ſuppoſitions for my accommodation, are reſpectfully requeſted, on this ſubject, to add a ſuppoſition for themſelves.
In the mean time I ſhall ſpeak of this work as if I expected implicit belief that it was found in Hewit's cheſt, not that I mean to ſay, I ever ſaw Hewit's cheſt, for that would be as times go, rather too tickliſh an aſſertion. No, no, I only ſpeak of the manuſcripts. The cheſt was left as a memento on the Scilly Iſland; which undoubted fact, if this hiſtory were of conſequence enough to make ſuch a ſtir about it, I could procure to be authenticated by the ſignatures of the parſon, and churchwardens, and the marks of the overſeers, and half the inhabitants.
But I am afraid I am wrong; and by appearing ſo anxious to eſtabliſh this fact, like the old woman who ſwept the duſt about the houſe till ſhe loſt it, it will be ſuſpected of being no fact at all. I ſhall, therefore, take bolder ground and ſay, that ſo far from not being poſſible, the thing is very likely.
[Page iv] Don't we know that Don Quixote, inſtead of being written by Cervantes, was found, and I believe in a cheſt, among the writings of Cid Hamet Benanjulo? Were not, to our certain knowledge, the entire works of Ariſtotle, as I had occaſion largely to illuſtrate in the Preface to my other Novel, buried in the earth for two hundred and ſeventy years, and afterwards known to be genuine?
Will any body, after this, tell me that I need make myſelf uneaſy, that ſuch a trifling work ſhould have been found in a cheſt only eight years after it was depoſited there? And in what cheſt too? A ſeaman's cheſt. What is a ſeaman without his cheſt? What ſo likely to be found after a ſhipwreck? Where is it more probable that a ſhip ſhould be wrecked than on the Scilly Iſlands? For my part I think it would be impertinence to offer another proof.
Let it, however, be remembered, that the pains I have taken have been ſolely on my own account. I have no wiſh in this buſineſs to get into any public controverſy: 'Let every tub,' or rather cheſt, 'ſtand upon its own bottom.' I cannot help, however, confeſſing that it will be an unſpeakable ſatisfaction to me to find that in elucidating the truth of my own argument, I ſhall have been [Page v] fortunate enough to eſtabliſh and confirm the world's belief of any ſimilar fact; or, which expreſſion is, I believe, more faſhionable—Fac ſimile.
Having now ſo poſitively proved how this hiſtory was found, I ſhall go on to ſhew, firſt, the probability of its having been written by Hannah Hewit, and, ſecondly, how far as to its circumſtances it is entitled to implicit credit from the public.
As to the firſt conſideration—If Hannah Hewit did not write this book, will the reader have the kindneſs to tell me who did? This, I think, is unanſwerable. Indeed, who but ſhe could have given ſo minute and particular an account of all that happened, both before and during the time ſhe was ſecluded from the world. Who could have broached her opinions, explained her reſources, or entered, as it were, into the receſſes of her heart, but herſelf.
There is a vein all the way through, I will not ſay of egotiſm, for Hannah was above being tainted with vanity, but of that laudable ambition, which all men and women too entertain, to ſet up in their own example, a model for the world's imitation: and which cannot be given in colours [Page vi] ſo glowing from the pen of any other as the perſon by whom it is felt.
I believe it will be given me, that this propenſity prevails throughout human nature; and that there is no regular ſyſtem, be it cock fighting, love, eating, reform, ſwearing, dreſſing, bamming, ſimpering, lounging, backbiting, or whatever elſe may happen to be the reigning pleaſure or buſineſs of the moment, but ſome ſon or daughter of creation is emulous to hold out as a worthy example to his or her fellow creatures.
If Hannah could have had a foible, I think it would have been this: Her intellects were ſtrong, her invention prompt, and her concluſions found and juſt. Added to exquiſite feminine ſuſeeptibility, ſhe had a male mind. In ſhort, ſhe had thoſe requiſites without which no female can be abſolutely a writer; and if theſe deceived her into an opinion that a moral application would be made of her work, and that under the idea of doing good for evil, ſhe ſhould do a great deal to pleaſe a world that had done a great deal to vex her, the error will, of courſe, be pardoned in favour of the intention.
Having as completely proved that Hannah wrote her [Page vii] own life, as that it was found in Hewit's cheſt, I ſhall go into the probability of its being authentic; and, then, after a few concluſive remarks, take my leave of the reader.
As to the authenticity of this work for my own part, were I not ſo ſituated as to be under the neceſſity of ſpeaking to it in ſome degree, I ſhould be wholly ſilent; for whenever I take up a book, ſo the matter is entertaining, and the ſentiments are juſt, it is perfectly indifferent to me whether they are conveyed through the medium of fact or fiction; and as to the preſent ſubejct, having never, to the beſt of my recollection, ſeen any more of Mrs. Hewit than of her huſband's cheſt, it would not only be propoſterous folly, but an inſult to the public, which no Hannah Hewit ſhall ever catch me at, were I to pledge myſelf to the literal truth of a ſingle iota throughout the whole buſineſs.
I am, nevertheleſs, ſtrongly inclined to believe that this hiſtory is, at leaſt, eſſentially true: for there are many of the circumſtances, the ſimilarity of which I recognize correctly, and I ſhould be very apt to pin an implicit faith upon the whole exactly as it is here ſet down, were it not that theſe perſons, and theſe circumſtances, are cut out now and then and fitted ſo as to anſwer a judicious purpoſe, [Page viii] inſtead of being ſuffered to ſtand in their original character and form.
For inſtance, I once knew a man ſo extremely like Sourby, that I defy Hannah Hewit to bring forward any plan of domeſtic ruin her Sourby ever meditated, but I'll match with one fabricated by mine. Indeed I ſhould fancy them one and the ſame perſon, if it was not that her Sourby was ſwallowed by a ſhark, whereas I met mine the other day lolling in his chariot,
The conduct of every nefarious lawyer is ſo alike, that it is not wonderful, having, as Walmeſley would have ſaid, ſeen ſome deſperate ſervice, that I ſhould know the exact repreſentative of Lawyer Higgins. The fact is, one trifling difference excepted, I could point at the man, which difference is only this, that Hannah's lawyer was hanged at Tyburn, whereas mine is not hanged yet.
By circumſtances like theſe I am now and then given to believe that in the fulneſs of her zeal, Hannah ſometimes bounced, that is to ſay, poetically, and ſhe was right; for, if it be true, which it is, and a lamentable conſideration into the bargain, that vice is ſeldomer puniſhed than moral juſtice requires, it is fairly the buſineſs of the poet, occaſionally, to call in a ſhark, or a halter, [Page ix] that a literary work may go in [...]o the world not only to encourage the virtues of the good, but to gnaw and choke the conſciences of the bad.
But to continue my examination. I knew the man and have a good reaſon to remember him, who under the title of Captain Higgins, performed that exploit in the Britannia, and afterwards commanded the Eagle: all which, as well as the Vigo buſineſs, his being cheated by his merchants, his going to the Fleet, and afterwards to India, and many other things are to my knowledge literally true.
If it were neceſſary; I might next go into the good natured thoughtleſſneſs of Walmeſley, the weakneſs that perpetually betrayed Hewit into indiſcretion, the unaffected manlineſs of Binns, and the fine mind of young Hewit, and ſay that I virtually knew every one of them; for though I have been pretty roughly treated in the world as well as Hanah, I have ſtill a pleaſure and a willingneſs to confeſs that ſuch characters are to be found. The misfortune is, that being, in the garden of life, though a very beautiful, yet a very humble plant, they are ſo choked up, and trampled upon, that it requires both ſound judgment and keen penetration to diſcover them; and, even then, they are ſo warped and diſtorted, that [Page x] they ſeldom diſplay their native ſweetneſs and beauty, except when nurtured in the ſhades of obſcurity.
Theſe obſervations may ſerve to convince the reader that the characters are drawn in the ſpirit of truth. It will be only neceſſary, therefore, to ſee whether the incidents in this hiſtory are brought about by probable means, which I ſhall certainly not ſhrink from; but it muſt appear reaſonable to any one that I ought here to have a large latitude. If circumſtances ariſe from others which, though they are in their nature improbable, we actually know may and do occaſionally happen, the ground of thoſe circumſtances being ſtrong, the circumſtances will be ſtrong alſo.
For inſtance, when a ſhip is underweigh, upon ever ſo long, or ever ſo hazardous a voyage, how infinite the odds are that ſhe is not caſt away, therefore a ſhipwreck is a very improbable thing; but we know that ſhips have been caſt away, and that the Groſvenor Eaſt Indiaman was one of them; and we alſo know that the crew and paſſengers ſuffered unheard of hardſhips. This is one of the ſtrong conſequences I allude to, which, though not prima facie, a probability, is both as probable and as, natural a conſequence as the commoneſt deduction from the commoneſt cauſe.
[Page xi] It is upon this principle that I would guard the reader from fancying, that though upon the firſt bluſh there may appear ſomething of the extravaganza in this work, there is nothing of the marvellous; and though I ſhall take but little time in doing ſo, I don't deſpair of bringing home to the conviction of the reader a broad and liberal probability, even to the ſame degree that I believe it myſelf, that the work, as I ſaid before, is eſſentially true.
It muſt be remembered, that I advertiſed this work as the hiſtory of a woman of uncommon, mental and perſonal accompliſhments. The latter the reader has a better right to credit than ever reader had to credit the beauty of any heroine yet recorded; for, though a woman, and writing her own hiſtory, ſhe does not at any one time tell you whether ſhe was tall, or ſhort, or fair, or brown, whether her favourite mode of doing execution was by an ogle, a ſmile, a ſigh, a liſp, a pat, a loll, a leer, or a trip, but leaves for proof the force of her charms to the impreſſion they made on her various admirers, from Sourby to the monkies. The word uncommon is, therefore, the moſt proper epithet I could have choſen.
But if Hannah is ſilent on her perſonal accompliſhments, ſhe pays it off by deſcribing thoſe of her mind, even to m [...]nutie; not, however, that ſhe would have done this [Page xii] had it not been poſitively neceſſary, for let an indifferent perſon take up the meaneſt article made by the meaneſt artiza [...], and, but that it is cuſtomary to ſee ſuch articles conſtantly before his eyes, he would think it was performed by miracle. Her difficulty, therefore, was to prove that one perſon could do ſo much, but I can, in my mind, very eaſily get over this.
The principle of every thing is almoſt exactly alike, and the comprehenſion that can clearly and correctly admit this in one inſtance, will, by perſeverence, find little difficulty to admit it in every inſtance. Thus the principle learnt, an active mind has nothing to do but to faſhion and vary it, and every thing in time may be accompliſhed, eſpecially with thoſe who have ſtrength of conception enough to teach themſelves.
I will illuſtrate this, for I cannot make out my poſition too forcibly, by a very extraordinary inſtance. When I was in Beverly, in Yorkſhire, I enquired for a perſon to tune a piano forte, I was told that the organiſt was out of town, but they could ſend for Quiz. Being the firſt time I ever heard the word, and I would not lay a wager that it was not its origin, I was curious to know who they meant by Quiz, when I learnt that the perſon in queſtion was a journeyman taylor, of the name of Oliver, [Page xiii] who had occaſionally worked at every ſort of buſineſs, till at laſt having been captivated by muſic, like the man who was determined to learn Boyer's dictionary by heart, by way of teaching himſelf French, he thought he ſhould get at the whole ſcience of muſic through the medium of tuning piano fortes.
I found Quiz a much more extraordinary creature than he was deſcribed, for I was curious, and he was communicative; without knowing any thing ſyſtematically, it is aſtoniſhing what concluſions he had formed by going over again and again the different diſtances neceſſary for tuning an inſtrument; and then every thing he uſed he had made himſelf. Not having money enough to buy a tuning hammer, he actually took the ſtand of his gooſe to a blackſmith's ſhop and ſhaped one out of it, which I ſaw, and it anſwered the purpoſe even better than tuning hammers in general.
But this is nothing. Two or three patents had been procured for inventions of his ſuggeſtion. One was for clothing of death-head buttons, a machine for the performance of which having ſeen that cloathed four buttons at a time, he made the man a model for one that would cloath forty, who took this friendly advantage of the poor fellow's ingenuity. In ſhort, there is nothing in [Page xiv] mechanics that he could not have undertaken with ſucceſs; and had he been in the ſituation of Hannah Hewit, I have no doubt but he could have accompliſhed every thing ſhe accompliſhed, and yet he was in every other reſpect illiterate and uninformed, what wonder then that ſhe ſhould do all ſhe tells us, who poſſeſſed ſo many ſuperior advantages.
The aſtoniſhing ingenuity of Hannah Hewit being completely got over, I ſhall now examine the incidents in her hiſtory, and, firſt, I believe, it will be allowed me that there is nothing in the three firſt books that bears the ſlighteſt hue of improbability. I ſhall, however, mention the buſineſs of her predicting the fate of France, becauſe it will be ſaid by thoſe who, let me take what pains I may will ſtill believe this book to be my invention, 'that it is eaſy to prophecy a thing after it has happened.' To all ſuch I anſwer, that if I could myſelf have predicted the fate of France nineteen years ago, why could not Hannah Hewit? Nay, I did predict it. So, no doubt, did the Duke of Dorſet, ſo did Count Dillon, whoſe reputations were ſtained by the inſidious whiſpers of that monſter D'Orieans.
So I am ſure did the Emper [...]r. He would never have refuſed to marry a woman who in her death proved herſelf an honour to her ſex, and to human nature, had [Page xv] he not feared that by a cloſer alliance with France, he ſhould intail miſery on his own ſubjects. While they went no further, than wearing cloaths the colour of the Queen's hair, he conſidered it as gallantry and a compliment to his amiable ſiſter, but when they wore the Emperor's eyes, he began to look about him.
In ſhort, he came determined to know the character of the French thoroughly; for this he came incog, for this he mixed with every order of the people, and by this he ſo completely diſcovered a ſpirit of revolt, hid like a ſmothered ſpark, throughout the kingdom, that as an inſtance of it, when he was at Nanci, in Lorraine, had he hinted ſuch a wiſh, they would once more have cut off that province from France, and hailed him its Prince.
Every thing, after the Groſvenor was caſt away, will of courſe be found of that extraordinary kind, which extraordinary exigencies ſeem to juſtify. Hannah's hardſhips, which like Camomile, or Anteus, ſhe reſiſted in proportion as ſhe was oppreſſed, will eaſily be admitted. Even the ſhark, though I treated it with pleaſantry, by no means outrages probability; and as to the lion, to thoſe, whoſe convictions have not yielded to the many inſtances Hannah herſelf has adduced, I ſhall only ſay, that there is at this moment in the Tower, a tyger, a [Page xvi] creature of a much more ferocious nature than the lion, that was the playfellow of a midſhipman all the way from India.
Hannah's eſcape from the lioneſs is alſo reconcileable enough; and, though many ſimilar inſtances may not have occured, there are not wanting ſome to bear us out. Father Philip Dechauſſe, a carmelite, relates a circumſtance ſtill more extraordinary: A Portugeſe ſailing in the Bauge, an Oriental-river, went aſhore to enjoy the beauty of the place. He had ſcarcely walked many paces when a frightful crocodile appeared ready to devour him. He inſtantly recoiled and meaſured his way back again as faſt as poſſible; and, juſt as he ſeemed in ſafety from the jaws of the crocodile, a famiſhed tyger made a ſpring at him, when avoiding him by a providential inclination of his body, the tyger paſſed over the traveller with ſuch force that he fell into the jaws of the crocodile, and became its prey.
But I am got into ſuch length that I cannot now ſtop at trifles. I ſhall, therefore, leaving every thing elſe to the candour of the reader, go to Hannah's winding up the whole, which I beg once more to be pardoned for calling her living apotheoſis, and yet I cannot ſee how I could have uſed a weaker term. I dare ſay every one of her hearers, felt her words like the inſpiration [Page xvii] of a deity, how much more then would thoſe words have borne that reſemblance, could any one have whiſpered that they were a warning to ſave eight ſuch friends, as, ſurely, never met together but upon that iſland, from deſtruction.
Thus I have troubled the reader with ſuch a clue as I flatter myſelf will ſerve to ſhew how this book was found, by whom it was written, and that the circumſtances it contains are within the ſcope of probability; and I would not have any one fancy, upon the faith of my having omitted any thing, that I have not enough to ſay, if ever the probability of the circumſtance ſhould be attacked. Moſt of the difficult things I know to be practicable, and have no doubt but I can prove it by time, place, and perſon; therefore, before any caviler thinks proper to indulge a different opinion, I would have him look to the validity of his own experience, and not pronounce a thing impoſſible, merely becauſe his ability is not equal to the taſk.
And now, if this work ſhould become popular, and the perſons concerned in it attract public curioſity; as it is ten years ſince Captain Higgins left the iſland, and, therefore, the probability, I like the word, is that there are, by this time, plenty of young Hewits, Higginses, and Walmeſleys. I do not think it would be [Page xviii] amiſs, only it would be a pity to diſturb them, if ſome ſhip on a diſcovery were to try all the Comora Iſlands round, till they met with Hannah's Eden; in which caſe we might not only hear what they were about, but eſtabliſh a ſort of place of call for the India ſhips like the Cape of Good Hope and St. Helena; beſides, in that caſe, Hannah might have the ſatisfaction, both of reading her life in print, according to Captain Higgins's words, and alſo of learning the fate of that relation whom ſhe ſo much valued, and for whom ſhe ſo much feared; which conſiderations again would bind the little commonwealth of Edenites with a freſh degree of ſatisfaction to their reſolution of remaining in their Paradiſe.
All this, however, I leave to the public, aſſuring them, that if any more of Hannah's writings ſhould be diſcovered, and depoſited with me, I ſhall lend my helping hand to uſher them into the world, with the ſame fidelity which I have made my ground of conduct in the preſent inſtance. I would, however, recommend a caution, this being a notable age for literary diſcoveries, leſt they ſhould be impoſed upon by ſome ſpurious Hannah Hewit; and, ſo adviſing, that my hint may not be thrown away, and begging pardon for this long intruſion, I ſhall finiſh in the true advertiſing ſtrain, and ſay, beware of counterfeits, for ſuch are abroad.
1.1. CHAP. I. IN WHICH, AFTER A MODEST APOLOGY, THE SUBJECT OF THESE ADVENTURES RELATES A TRAIN OF CIRCUMSTANCES THAT THREW HER EARLY UPON THE WORLD.
HEAVEN only knows whether theſe particulars will ever be made public; but, as they contain the hiſtory of a harmleſs and inoffenſive individual, whoſe life has been chequered by a train of extraordinary events; as they ſhew the firmneſs, and vigour, [Page 2] with which providence vouchſafes to endow the human mind in proportion to its various trials; and, above all, as it proves in every line the indulgent, and benevolent care with which our all merciful Creator is graciouſly pleaſed to watch and protect the meaneſt of his creatures; ſo I think it my duty to truſt theſe ſheets to chance, in hopes, through one of thoſe unforeſeen accidents, by which men are permitted to wonder and admire, many a fair eye, and many a manly heart, may pay a tribute of ſympathy to the memory of Hannah Hewit.
I was born May 10, 1744, in one of thoſe cottages, which are ſcattered through that well known ſpot called Coalbrook Dale. My father, whoſe name was Higgins, worked occaſionally in the coalmines, aſſiſted in burning coke, extracting iron from ore, and poliſhing cylinders; he was an honeſt man, and contrived, with the aſſiſtance of my mother, who ſpun [Page 3] worſted, and knit ſtockings, to keep ſix children, a bed-rid aunt, and my mother's brother, who had been three years deaf and blind in conſequence of an exploſion in a coal-mine: at which time ſeveral perſons were cruſhed to death; and, among the reſt, my brother Peter, who was three years older than I.
Never was a family ſo marked by miſfortune as mine. When I was only five years old I loſt my father, my mother, and brother, and ſiſter, in the following extraordinary manner. My father had killed a a large bacon hog, and was preparing to ſinge it, at which ceremony my mother, and ſuch of the children as were able, aſſiſted. Indeed it was a feaſt to us, hogs puddings, and chitterlings, being danties we could not get every day. While we were thus buſily employed, we obſerved an uncommon light in the little hovel that ſerved us for a habitation. It was occaſioned by my little brother, who had put [Page 4] ſtraw under his ſiſter's cradle, a child of ſix months old, and ſet it on fire to ſinge her in imitation of my father, who was ſinging the hog. My father, who divined the cauſe, flew like lightning into the houſe, and being exaſperated at my brother, who was dancing round the cradle all in flames, ſtruck at him, as he thought, with his hand, but it unfortunately contained the fatal knife with which he had killed the hog. The moment he diſcovered what he had done, he raved and ſcreamed out—'That he had killed his child!' Then, full of deſtraction, ran to throw himſelf into the Severn. My mother, now rouſed from that ſtupefaction into which ſhe had been thrown, followed him with ſuch expedition, that ſhe caught hold of him as he reached the margin of the river. Neither force, nor entreaty could prevail on him to abandon his deſperate reſolution. She ſtruggled with him, but in vain; 'till, at length, his ſtrength being ſuperior to her's, as ſhe would not let go her hold, they both fell in and were drowned.
[Page 5] Young as I was, I ſhall never forget the impreſſion this awful ſcene made on my tender mind; and, as if providence, whoſe daughter I am, and whoſe care I have always been, had determined to arm me with proper fortitude for my alarming ſituation, and vigour to ſupport through life the various misfortunes I was born to encounter, my reflections became firm, and deciſive, and I was no longer a child from that moment.
The unhappy condition of thoſe of my family that remained, excited the pity of my father's employer, and we were, by his intereſt, admitted into the workhouſe. I had learnt to ſpin long before this; but, here, I learnt to read, and write; which ſo employed my mind, that I was never ſo happy as when I was improving myſelf. This extraordinary induſtry and application attracted the notice of the vicar, a venerable and moſt amiable man, of whom I ſhall have frequent occaſion to ſpeak. [Page 6] I owe to him thoſe ſentiments that have been the comfort, and conſolation of my life. His name was Williams; and, if he be alive, and ſhould read this, he will have freſh occaſion to commend me for obſerving his leſſons which, though my life has been unfortunate, has kept it irreproachable.
As ſoon as I had perfected myſelf in one thing, I learnt another, and there was no trade practiſed in the workhouſe that I had not ſome notion of. Reading and writing, however, were, at that time, the greateſt pleaſures of my life; and to thoſe employments I devoted all my leiſure hours; but what begat in me the greateſt emulation was reading thoſe works written by my own ſex; who, I confeſs, I ſecretly envied, and devoutly wiſhed that, in time, I might aſpire to the enviable diſtinction of being conſidered as a female writer, little divining ſo fatal a propenſity would only be gratified by recording, upon the [Page 7] leaves of a tree, in an uninhabited iſland, the ſad viciſſitudes of my unfortunate life.
This deſire was conſiderably encreaſed by the ſucceſs that attended Mr. Williams's daughter, a young lady of uncommon talents, and a prodigy of learning. Her poems were read with admiration, and ſhe was conſidered as the beſt lady writer ſince Sapho. To be ſure ſhe wrote a play, which did not ſucceed, but this was attributed to its having been written with ſtrict decency, a circumſtance often neglected I muſt confeſs; but, I hope, for the honour of my ſex, that when their writings verge towards obſcenity, 'tis not becauſe that ſtyle is natural, or habitual to them, but becauſe it is neceſſary to write indelicately to pleaſe an indelicate age.
In this, however, Miſs Williams, whoſe chriſtian name was Margery, conſidered leſs her fame, than her honour; and, I flatter myſelf, I have ſo well profitted by [Page 8] her example, that though I may have, in the courſe of this work, many ſtrong circumſtances to relate, no one will be able to accuſe me of ſuffuſing the check of modeſty with a bluſh.
In addition to the ſmattering of literature I picked up at over hours, which I employed in whatever induſtry I was ſet about at the Vicar's, I ſtudied, ſuperficially, all thoſe accompliſhments which Miſs Williams poſſeſſed in ſo perfect a degree; ſo that, what between the workhouſe and the Vicar's, before I was ten years old, I could ſpin, knit, knot, ſew, ſtitch, darn, make gloves, mend ſhoes, do ruſh, ſtraw, and cane work; write, draw, point a hobnail, and play upon the guitar.
But now a much larger field for the exerciſe of my talents was opened to me. A conſiderable manufacturer, at Wolverhampton, having dined at the Vicar's, and taken notice not only of the adroitneſs [Page 9] with which I had, under the tuition of Miſs Margery Williams, ſet about painting a fireſkreen, but the improvements I had ſuggeſted to the carpenter, as to the principle on which he had mounted it, declared, from what he ſaw, I ſhould be of infinite ſervice in the japanning line, into which employ it is very common to take girls from the workhouſe.
My benefactor caught at this ſuggeſtion, and to be brief, for this is a part of my hiſtory that I ought to compreſs into as narrow a compaſs as poſſible, in leſs than ſix weeks I was bound apprentice to Mr. Smallbrook, who every body muſt remember as an eminent manufacturer in the japan line at Wolverhampton.
My employ was to paint birds, beaſts, butterflies, fruit, and landſcapes, upon urns, tea boards, bread baſkets, and toilette boxes; and I have no doubt but many of my fair readers may be induced, from this [Page 10] paſſage, to wiſh that ſome commode, pincaſe, or patch-box, in their poſſeſſion, may be of my painting. Certainly, if ſuch a fact could be aſcertained, many a trifle that has paſſed theſe hands might, from the ſingular circumſtances of my ſtrange fortune, be conſidered in as curious and valuable a light as the mould of a queen Elizabeth's farthing, or the feathers upon the wing of the hunch-back beetle.
To ſuch as are deſirous of knowing whether they are in poſſeſſion of any veſtige of thoſe toys, and utenſils, which, from 1757, to 1764, were principally ſuggeſted by me, and which have rendered ſo celebrated the manufactory of Pontipool; I ſhall hold out a clue to diſcover the truth. If the ſubject be a ſhepherdeſs getting over a ſtyle, and unconſciouſly betraying the ſymetry of a well turned leg to a concealed ſhepherd, or, as its companion, a Strephon plunging into a tranſparent brook, and buffetting aſide the yielding [Page 11] waves with his ſinewy limbs, while his enamoured Daphne, her lamb by her ſide, ſtands facinated as ſhe peeps through the umbrage of a cloſe enwovened wood, the deſign is ſure to be mine, and, perhaps, the execution.
The laſt ſubject, even at this diſtance of time, forces tears into my eyes, for it brings to my recollection that fatal day I fell in love with John Hewit, the author of all my pains and pleaſures; the only difference in the ſituation of the picture is, that I was varniſhing a plate warmer in the garret, with a cat upon my ſhoulder, and he was tinning a ſaucepan in the ſmithy.
This circumſtance of the cat is extremely well worth attending to, and I am particularly pleaſed, that my noticing it here gives me an opportunity of recollecting that I muſt have had an extraordinary conſideration and reſpect for the unfortunate at my time of life; for I perfectly [Page 12] well remember, that my partiality to cats aroſe from their being an animal that all the world perſecuted: I will confeſs that, being a female, and fond of erudition, I had ſome uneaſy moments leſt my predelection for tabbies might be the means of my becoming an old maid; but, having ſeen John Hewit, I grew perfectly eaſy on that head.
I need not apologize, in this place, to the intelligent reader, who knows that the minuteſt circumſtances are of conſequence in an extraordinary and complicate hiſtory like mine; and I may, perhaps, have, hereafter, reaſon to remark that providence permitted this very prepoſſeſſion, ſingular and almoſt ludicrous as it was, to inſpire me with a deſire of ſoliciting a protection to which I at this moment owe the preſervation of my life and my honour—but of that in its place.
1.2. CHAP. II. SOME REMARKS ON THE FORCE OF DESTINY, AND AN ACCOUNT OF JOHN HEWIT, AND HIS TWO MALE FRIENDS.[Page 13]
THE variety of occupations followed at Wolverhampton, coming in contact with a mind thirſting after improvement, and fertile in invention, like mine, no wonder if my progreſs, as an artiſt and a mechanic, was remarkable. No ingenious device, elegant form, or taſty invention, was put into hand 'till I was conſulted. At length my judgment and opinion became ſo celebrated, that, before I was fifteen, my abilities were conſidered as equal to a fortune, and I might have made my choice among the moſt opulent at Wolverhampton.
[Page 14] Deſtiny, however, which all muſt obey, an obſervation that never was more truly verified than in my wayward fortune, ordained otherwiſe. John Hewit, though a man of indifferent character, bad connections, low converſation, and only an appretice to a tinman; why, or wherefore, I did not know, won my heart in ſpight of me; and, for him, I rejected with diſdain the moſt eligible offers.
Were I to avail myſelf of my privilege as a writer, I might defend my conduct upon various principles; but, as I am writing a life, and not a controverſy, I ſhall only ſpeak of myſelf as a woman, and ſay that, though my conduct was madneſs, I could not have courage to argue with the impulſe I felt; and, therefore, yielded to what I knew would make me miſerable.
To account for my partiality to the object of my affections, his excluſive poſſeſſion [Page 15] of my heart, to the diſcomfiture of ſo many plate-harneſs, button, buckle, and thimble-makers, for the rancour, ſcandal, and ſlander of all the Wolverhampton females; and, in ſhort, for that diſcontent to others, and miſery to myſelf, which I cauſed in my implicit obedience to my deſtiny; I ſhall only ſay, that whatever he might be in other reſpects, John Hewit was the handſomeſt man eyes ever beheld.
That I may not, however, lay under the imputation of ſenſuality, I had many other motives for this conduct. In the firſt place, he had a vile character; and with what pleaſure did I contemplate the glory I ſhould reap in reclaiming him.—Then he was illiterate, uninformed, and brutal; and how could I employ the information I had picked up better than in inſtructing, poliſhing, and civilizing him? Could I have a properer opportunity to put into active practice that beneficence and [Page 16] philanthropy I had learnt from the Vicar and his daughter? To oblige any fellow-creature, is a ſatisfaction to a heart like mine, but to oblige a handſome man, and one whom fate deſtined for her huſband, is ſurely the moſt brilliant trait that ever complimented the diſernment and mind of a female.
John Hewit was the ſon of a cow-driver, near Shefnal. His father had the misfortune to be tried and convicted of a highway robbery; but as every body knew he was not guilty of the theft, which, beyond a doubt, was committed by the ſon of a rich grazier in the neighbourhood, the jury, and, in particular, the father of the thief, who was one of them, recommended him to mercy, in conſequence of which he was only tranſported for life.
The family of old Hewit, conſiſting of a wife and three children, of whom John was the eldeſt, were now obliged to ſhift [Page 17] for themſelves; and John, being admired for his beauty by the wife of a farrier, who, beſides, had a regard for his mother; he was employed, being thirteen years old, to hold the horſes, and to do whatever elſe he could to render himſelf uſeful.
Though this farrier was very like Vulcan, being lame, brutal, and a blackſmith; I cannot ſay his good dame, in the ſmalleſt degree, bore a reſemblance to Venus, except in her paſſion for Adonis, whoſe perfect reſemblance, as far as deſcription goes, ſhe certainly had in her houſe, and Fame does them both injuſtice, or the reſemblance of their amour was alſo realized, for the farrier, before John was fifteen, became ſuch a nay-word that he turned him away, but not 'till he had purloined a ring and a watch, which circumſtance the good lady did not think proper to impart to her huſband.
After this he rambled about with ſome [Page 18] gipſies, and took one ſhort trip to ſea. At laſt good Parſon Williams, who was the conſtant friend of diſtreſs, and who, indeed, had been inſtrumental in ſaving the life of John's father, undertook, out of pity to his mother, to put him out apprentice.
Being heartily tired of his rambles, he took to his buſineſs pretty well; and for two years his maſter was perfectly ſatisfied with him; but, as folly is a combuſtible in which the ſmalleſt ſpark will eaſily cauſe an exploſion, ſo the notice that was taken of him, for being now upwards of ſeventeen, he went by the name of the handſome Tinman, puffed up his vanity to ſuch a degree, that he began to be fully convinced he ſhould make his fortune by means of his perſon.
In this prepoſterous idea he was encouraged by his companions, with whom he was perpetually in the company of [Page 19] looſe women. Among theſe companions was one called Thomas Sourby, a name I have reaſon enough to curſe. This man had ruined the principles of many young men, and young women too, in the neighbourhood, a matter of no great difficulty in a manufacturing place, where ſo many males and females of all ages and complexions promiſcuouſly work together.
He had ſuch conſummate art, and ſuch a perfect knowledge of mankind, that he made them ſubſervient to his pleaſures and convenience, under an idea of teaching them how to go through the world: and was ſo adroit in his buſineſs, that whenever he did amiſs, ſomebody elſe was ſuſpected; and whenever others did what was praiſe worthy, he was ſure to arrogate all the credit. If any one was protected from a thief, or their goods ſaved out of a fire, though he came, perhaps, after the danger was over, he ſo managed it that he was conſidered as the ſole inſtrument [Page 20] of their preſervation; and, on the contrary, if he wired twenty hares, the ſuſpicion lay upon ſomebody elſe.
It is ſingular, however, that nothing could be ſo obvious as his real character, and yet nobody ſaw it. He had no employ, no fortune, no means, yet he was always fluſh of money. He was arrogant, ignorant, and preſuming, yet every body liſtened to his advice. Every body diſpiſed him, every body feared him, and every body courted him.
I divined him, to my misforrune, in a moment. His whole conduct conſiſted but of three qualities, which qualities, whoever, has the unmerciful courage to practiſe, however deſpicable they may appear in the eyes of men of intrinſic merit, will, with the generalty of the world, be loaded with careſſes.
Theſe qualities were, penetration to [Page 21] diſcover the follies of others, impudence to defend your own, and want of feeling to take advantage of both. No man ever poſſeſſed theſe diabolical qualities in a ſtronger degree than Thomas Sourby; and, of courſe, no man could be more calculated to wind round his finger ſuch an eaſy, vain, credulous creature as John Hewit.
There was another young man at Wolverhampton, whoſe name was William Binns. He was exactly the reverſe of Sourby, his heart being as good as the other's was wicked; and, indeed, they were not only marked by contrary ſentiments, but contrary fortunes: Sourby living at random, nobody knew how, and Binns being eſtabliſhed as an active partner with Mr. Gregory, his half uncle, a reſpectable and flouriſhing manufacturer.
[Page 22] Mr. Gregory had a brother, who was many years his partner upon mutual ſhares; this brother died, and left his proportion of the concern to his widow, whoſe maiden name was Binns. She had an idle brother, who, after laviſhing away what his parents could afford him, and loſing many good opportunities of eſtabliſhing himſelf, at laſt forfeited the good opinion of his relations, was diſcarded, and, rather than ſtarve, got an employment, ſomething ſimilar to that of my father, in Coalbrook Dale.
There he married a poor but induſtrious woman, who brought him ſeveral children, and behaved ſo well to him, that he grew more ſober, and diſcreet. This induced his ſiſter, the widow, to conſider him again as her brother; but as low company was his delight, and, indeed, he was not by nature calculated for any liberal, or ingenious purſuit, ſhe contented herſelf with eking out his pittance with a ſmall [Page 23] annuity; and, in other reſpects, contributing at times to his comfort and convenience. She was, alſo, often heard to declare, ſhe ſhould remember his children in her will, and when he ſhould have a boy grown to a proper age, ſhe would take care of his education, and bring him up in the buſineſs in which ſhe yet retained her ſhare, as ſhe was very anxious to keep up the name of Binns.
The unhappy wife of this man fell a victim among others, to that exploſion of a coal-mine, in which, as I have already mentioned, my uncle was ſo materially hurt, and my poor little brother killed. After her loſs the huſband relapſed into his former irregularities. His ſiſter, however, ſtill commiſerated his ſituation, and took his children, now reduced to two, a boy, and a girl, under her protection; and though ſhe would not openly countenance him, prevailed on the beneficent Parſon [Page 24] Williams ſecretly to adminiſter to his neceſſities.
She afterwards died, and left her property between her nephew and niece. The firſt of whom, the very Binns I am ſpeaking of, became Mr. Gregory's partner, and the latter, a very ſweet girl, managed the houſe.
Binns, who was acquainted with Hewit, took a great deal of trouble to ſhew him the abſurdity of his conduct, and, of courſe, got affronted for his pains. This, however, did not check him. He returned to the charge, and perſevered till, at laſt, he ſhewed John ſo ſtrongly the folly of counting upon perſonal advantages with an uncultivated mind, that he, really began to feel a little right pride for the firſt time; and, I own, my wiſh to complete ſuch a meritorious work, originated from receiving this information.
1.3. CHAP. III. AN ACCOUNT OF JOHN HEWIT'S TWO FEMALE FRIENDS, AND A MOST POWERFUL INSTANCE OF THE DREADFUL EFFECTS OF INDISCRETION.[Page 25]
ABOUT this time an affair happened that became a town talk. One Jenny Rhodes, a ſorry huſſey who worked in a large button manufactory, proved with child; and though her connections with the young men in the place were certainly very promiſcuous, ſhe determined to ſwear the child to John Hewit, not becauſe there was a greater probability of his being the father than ſeveral others, but becauſe he had ſlighted her for one Suſan Wingrove, another Wolverhampton girl, who alſo bore a bad character.
[Page 26] This laſt mentioned girl convinced that, if the other had not taken a falſe oath, ſhe had at leaſt ſworn very hard, levelled a whole volley of abuſe at her as ſhe came from her examination before the juſtice.
She reiterated the names of all thoſe to whom Jenny Rhodes had ſhewn her favours, and pointed out plainly, by circumſtances, to the ſatisfaction of a ſurrounding mob, who were wonderfully entertained at this curious ſcene, the great improbability of John's being the father of the child.
It has been remarked, that there is nothing which a diſappointed woman will not meditate, and ſo it happened in the preſent inſtance; for being thus expoſed and laughed at, this wretch conceived the moſt horrid deſign that ever entered a ſubtle head, or was conceived by a vile heart. She knew that John Hewit was to meet [Page 27] this Suſan Wingrove that evening, in a walk, about a mile from the town, called Love-lane. There ſhe concealed herſelf; and watching an opportunity, favourable for her purpoſe, that is to ſay, at the very moment John was croſſing over a ſtyle, and could not ſee what paſſed in the lane, ſhe ruſhed upon this poor wretch, plunged a knife into her boſom, and inſtantly eſcaped.
When Hewit came to the ſpot where he was to meet this girl, he found her weltering in her blood. She ſeemed to have ſome ſigns of life, but could not ſpeak. While he ſtood in a ſtate of diſtraction, wiſhing to adminſter relief to her, and not knowing in what manner, he ſaw Sourby at a diſtance, who, ſummoned by a loud hollow, came up and ſeemed extremely ſhocked at the dreadful ſpectacle before him. He ſhrugged, and called it a ſtrange buſineſs, but ſaid, that it was proper, nevertheleſs, out of charity, to [Page 28] convey the poor creature to ſome place where ſhe might be taken care of.
She was received into a neighbouring cottage, and a ſurgeon ſent for. In the mean time a thouſand enquiries went forward, as to how this murder came about. John told very artleſsly, but with great contradiction and embarraſſment, all he knew; and, upon the whole, ſo ſatisfied his hearers, that, except a few doubts, which took their birth from his perplexity, it was univerſally believed to be ſelf-murder, which, Sourby, taking Hewit by the hand, ſaid, 'he ſincerely believed, for he had ſo good an opinion of his friend, that he was ſure he was incapable of perpetrating ſo attrocious an act.'
In the mean time, by ſome means or other, ſhe whole town had rung with the news, that John Hewit had killed Suſan Wingrove; and the ſurgeon had ſcarcely ſearched her wound, and pronounced that it was mortal, and ſhe muſt infallibly die, [Page 29] when Binns, who from circumſtances, perhaps, had ſeen more of the real truth than any other did, or choſe to ſee, pulled him aſide, and told him to loſe no time in making his eſcape, for that there was a warrant againſt him for murder.
Hewit ever tainted with that cowardice that attends weak minds, took his friends advice and ſlipt away; and now, firſt arrived the miſtreſs of the cottage, who ſaid the poor creature could ſpeak, and the only word ſhe had uttered was 'Hewit.' Next it was diſcovered, that Hewit had run away, for which they blamed one another all round, and laſt, arrived the conſtables to take him up.
Let every young man, who reads this paſſage, take warning by it, and ſhun bad women as he would ſhun inevitable deſtruction, for it is a road to perdition, in which, tread as cautiouſly as he will, he is in danger of periſhing at every ſtep. As [Page 30] ſoon as the poor wretch could ſpeak, ſhe did, indeed, pronounce the name of Hewit, as the good woman of the cottage had informed her neighbours; but had ſhe ſtaid five minutes longer in the room, ſhe would have heard her acquit him of the crime, and accuſe Jenny Rhodes.
A hue and cry was now made after Jenny Rhodes, but the conſtables, who are not remarkable for vigilance either at Wolverhamton, or elſewhere, were again at fault; for when they arrived at her habitation, ſhe had alſo made her eſcape.
The public converſation turned variouſly upon the ſubject. Some would have it that Hewit was the murderer, and that the girl, out of affection to her lover, and hatred to her rival, had accuſed her, and acquitted him. Others inſiſted that it muſt have been Jenny Rhodes, who was known to be a wicked huſſey, adding, that it was very unlikely the poor dying young [Page 31] creature would tell a lie with her laſt breath; and others, again, very ſagaciouſly remarked, that they muſt both have had a hand in it, for that both had ran away. Thoſe words, however, were not her laſt, nor was the ſurgeon's judgment ſo infallible as he had pronounced it, for ſhe ſoon grew better, and in ſix weeks got perfectly well.
Jenny Rhodes, as ſoon as ſhe heard that Suſan Wingrove was out of danger, returned; and as ſhe could not be tried for murder, made no ſcruple to declare that ſhe had given the wound to get rid of them both, for that Hewit was the only man ſhe ever loved, and finding herſelf ſlighted, ſhe reſolved to do one or other, or both, a miſchief the firſt opportunity. In the buſineſs of the child, ſhe alſo acknowledged, ſhe was actuated by revenge, for that Hewit could not poſſibly be the father.
As John was, in every reſpect, innocent, [Page 32] he now became an object of univerſal compaſſion, and every poſſible ſtep was taken to induce him to return, but in vain. His maſter advertiſed him as a runaway apprentice, which advertiſement appeared in the Daily Advertiſer of the 18th of September, 1760, hand bills were diſtributed; no John returned. At laſt at Chriſtmas time, in the year 1763, I am ſure I have reaſon enough to remember the circumſtance, he was paſſed to his pariſh from the coaſt of Suſſex, in a moſt miſerable and emaciated ſtate as a vagrant.
Thus the wicked wretch, who had been the cauſe of all this miſchief, ſtayed upon the ſpot, brazening out every thing, and glorying in her infamy; while he, whoſe crime amounted, at moſt, to imprudence, bore all the puniſhment.
But the decree was juſt. Bold guilt will ever, in the end, find its reward. The [Page 33] law will overtake it, and ſo it did here, for Jenny Rhodes was hanged at Warwick two years afterwards, ſor the murder of this very child ſhe falſely ſwore to Hewit; but imprudence carries with it its own puniſhment: It is a coward in vice, and trembles at ſcare-crow conſequences, invented by fear. Had John Hewit felt himſelf fully conſcious that his conduct had been completely irreproachable, he would have braved an inveſtigation; but as he knew he had aſſociated with wretches who were capable of ſwearing his life away, innocence itſelf was no ſhield for him; and, out of deſpair, he left his home to become a wanderer and to ſuffer, as the reader ſhall ſee, puniſhment enough. Let not young men, therefore, be imprudent. The torture cannot puniſh innocence; the mind can ſmile at it: Whereas ſelf reproaching imprudence will goad the mind until it find a torture for itſelf; which, indeed, is its only eſcape from infamy, for [Page 34] I'll venture to ſay, that any young man, who has been repeatedly imprudent, and has not reproached himſelf, has gone a great way, indeed, towards villany.
But if it be difficult for a young man to retreat from imprudence—what muſt it be for a young woman? The world are very little inclined to ſoften imprudence with the mild name of misfortune; and it is generally impoſſible, and always very difficult for the poor wretch hertſelf, howſoever well ſhe may be inclined, to overcome the contumely and ſcorn that is conſtantly thrown upon her. Thus one crime follows another, and unhappy wretches of this deſcription, are loſt, firſt to themſelves, and afterwards to ſociety, except when ſome extraordinary circumſtance points out to the world a mode of reconciliation, they, themſelves, have not the courage to adopt. Both theſe conſequences happened in the preſent caſe. [Page 35] Jenny Rhodes was hanged, and Suſan Wingrove, having leiſure to repent of her paſt life upon a ſick bed, became, afterwards, by the good offices of Parſon Williams, a ſincere penitent, and was treated as an unfortunate woman, entitled to the countenance of her ſex, and the conſideration of ſociety.
1.4. CHAP. IV. TOUCHES UPON SAGACITY AND PRUDENCE, AND INFORMS THE READER OF SOME PARTICULARS RELATIVE TO HANNAH'S ELDEST BROTHER.[Page 36]
JOHN HEWIT had ſcarcely left the country when I got a complete inſight into the buſineſs that had terminated ſo unfortunately for him. I found that he and the two women had been dupes to Sourby, who contrived the whole with the diabolical intention of getting rid of them all; and theſe were his reaſons: He was tired of a connection with Jenny Rhodes, by whom he had that child, which ſhe falſely ſwore to Hewit; he loved Suſan Wingrove, of whom he was determined to be revenged, becauſe ſhe preferred Hewit to him; and he deteſted [Page 37] Hewit for perpetually ſtepping before him in the favour of women, notwithſtanding all his own arts; and, beſides all this, he had a more powerful motive: a ſecret deſign againſt me: in which, he thought, he ſtood no chance of ſucceſs unleſs he could put Hewit out of the way.
I have already ſaid, that I thoroughly knew the heart and principles of this man; this knowledge with which one would think I was inſpired, ſeemed to guard me againſt all his practices, and it was retentively keeping to myſelf how completely I had in my mind developed his character, that gave me opportunity, not only of fruſtrating all his deſigns, but of coming at their motives.
Hewit had hardly turned his back when Sourby unmaſked, and gave me clearly to underſtand that he wiſhed me to conſider him as a lover. Timed as this declaration [Page 38] was, I could not but ſee, in a moment, into the whole myſtery. I concealed, however, my ſuſpicions; and turning his own arts againſt himſelf, I contrived, by leading queſtions, in different converſations, to come, in parcels, at the whole of what I have juſt related; nor even young and inexperienced as I was, is there any thing extraordinary in this? He was too vain of his influence over others to believe he could poſſibly be vulnerable himſelf; beſides he had conquered and deceived experienced and artful women; what need then of much caution with one ſo artleſs as I was? This foible I played upon. I pretended to liſten to him with pleaſure, till I had wormed out of him enough for my purpoſe; I then unmaſked in my turn, and ſhewed him he was in my power; but, like Tamerline, bid him keep his own wicked ſecret and be ſafe, upon condition, he never troubled me again with his nauſeous love.
[Page 39] It is ſo eafy for women, completely virtuous, to penetrate the arts of deſigning lovers, that I am aſtoniſhed they ever fall into a ſnare. The confident and brutal manner in which Clariſſa confeſſes Lovelace eyed her in the coach from Hampſtead, would have been enough for me; and, however, through the medium of exaggeration, ſuch circumſtances upon paper, may ſerve as a warning, I'll venture to ſay, the woman, in real life, who notices and feels the force of ſuch a look from a profligate lover, and is afterwards betrayed, lends a helping hand to her own deſtruction.
As to myſelf I had long made my determination to have John Hewit, or remain ſingle; otherwiſe, as I have before noticed, I could have had my choice of huſbands; and among the reſt, who, like Edwin, ſighed, but never ſpoke of love, was that honeſt creature Binns.
[Page 40] That part of my life which paſt during the abſence of Hewit, was certainly little more than a chaſm in an active hiſtory like mine; I, therfore, as if I felt a preſentiment of all that was to befal me, was conſtantly employed in qualifying myſelf in every thing that could counteract the evils of life, and, above all, in ſtoring my mind with every gift and ingredient neceſſary to become the beſt wife in the world.
So much was my mind occupied in this manner, that nothing was more common than to hear people ſay, that if Hannah Hewit were to be thrown deſtitute upon an uninhabited iſland, ſhe would find ſo many reſources in her own ingenuity as to give her little reaſon to regret her ſeperation from ſociety, which remarks I never heard but I ſhuddered; though at that time, nothing could be farther from my thoughts, than that I ſhould have ſuch [Page 41] deplorable cauſe to call that ingenuity into action.
It may not be amiſs, in the interval, before Hewit's return, at which time this hiſtory will become more active, to give ſome account of what became of my own family. The reader will remember the untimely fate of my father and mother, and my little brother and ſiſter; and that after that unfortunate circumſtance, there remained only my uncle and aunt, and my two brothers. My uncle and aunt died in the workhouſe. My eldeſt brobrother, who was nine years older than I, and of a wild diſpoſition, ran away and entered on board of ſhip; and my other brother, who was not ſo old by four years, having learnt to write a fine hand, was taken into the houſe of an attorney; and, at laſt, became ſo uſeful to him, that he articled him as a clerk.
Wild as my eldeſt brother was, his [Page 42] mind was noble, and he had an enterpriſing ſpirit. I knew him to be incapable of any thing vile, or unworthy; and, therefore, had not the leaſt doubt but that he would honourably make his way through the world. It was not long before I was convinced of this, for as he had a great affection for me, and had faithfully kept up a correſpondence with me, as often as his precarious way of life gave him opportunity, I not only became acquainted with all that he did, but had it in my power, by means of anſwers to his letters, to give him a little ſiſterly advice; which, though in his light way, he commented on with great humour, he certainly took in good part, and never failed kindly to thank me for.
My brother, when a private man, was choſen by the admiral as his cockſwain. He was afterwards placed upon the quarter deck; and, in proceſs of time, paſſed as a lieutenant; but as promotion in the [Page 43] navy was ſlow, and many young men of gallantry had, at that time, a thirſt for privateering, though he had not intereſt to procure a command for himſelf, he got to be firſt lieutenant of a very fine privateer out of Briſtol, of twenty-eight guns, called the Britannia.
This was about ſix months after John Hewit left Wolverhampton; and my brother being at that time cruiſing in the channel, and, of courſe, frequently in and out of port, I heard from him often; which, indeed, was almoſt unneceſſary, for the newſpapers were perpetually ſpeaking of his valour and conduct; and though only ſecond in command in a privateer, his character, as a naval officer, ſtood very high.
About this time he was concerned in an adventure that made a great noiſe, the particulars of which he imparted to [Page 44] me in a letter, and I cannot do better than lay it before my readers. I have certainly no copy of it, but am able to tranſcribe it from my memory with great fidelity. It will ſerve to give an excellent trait of his character.
I HAVE ſtruck a ſtroke that has made my fortune. If I had failed, I ſhould have been hanged. What I did was mutiny; I have ſucceeded, and the world, and eſpecially the merchants of Briſtol, will call it magnanimity. But this is the nature of mankind.
Not to keep you in ſuſpenſe, we fell in, four days ago, with a loggerheaded St. Domingo man, richly laden with cotton and indigo, but almoſt double our [Page 46] force. We called a counſel of the officers, and the captain was againſt fighting her, and by all the laws of prudence he was right. Being, however, a kind of now or never buſineſs for me, I took advantage of the anxiety of the fine fellows who longed to have a bruſh at her, and uſed every argument in my power to obtain his conſent, but in vain—curſedly mortifying! to loſe ſuch a prize, ſuch a regale to ſo many jolly dogs and their families. I took another touch at perſuading him, it would not do, he repreſented the riſk we ran, and the almoſt utter impoſſibility of avoiding being taken; he appealed particularly to me, whether I did not know him for a man of courage, and ſaid this was not courage, it was madneſs. Lord I knew every word he uttered to be truth; but what then, had we not a fine ſtupid looking hull in ſight, lined with bales of cotton. Ah Hannah! if you had but ſeen how we were ſtanding up to her when we received poſitive orders to put [Page 47] about ſhip and run away, damme you would have done as I did. Come my lads, ſaid I, we'll fight her. The wicked rogues, what dye think they did? They gave me three cheers. 'Very well,' ſaid the captain, 'remember I have no hand in this, this is mutiny.' Dye hear that, my boys, ſaid I, the captain orders all hands to quarters. So on I went, you ſee, as my brother the lawyer ſays, ſecundem artem; ſanctioning all my orders with the captain's name, while he was curſing away in the cabin, and ſwearing he would bring me to a court martial. Well, what would you have? We knocked her about gloriouſly! It would have done your heart good to have been with us. At laſt, running long ſide of her, captain, ſaid I, I am going by your orders to board the St. Domingo man: No ſooner ſaid than done; whip I was aboard her in the poiſing of a capſtern bar. Struck her colours with my own hand, you jade, got her papers, battened every thing right and tight. Well, what dye ye think [Page 48] was the next thing? Found two women in the cabin; there was a prize! I don't know how it is, but you never knew a fellow in your life that was in half ſo good a cue for making love as when he had juſt been a fighting; and then I had been out of ſight of ſhore ſo long. I bruſhed up to them both—what do you think happened? Turning my eyes towards the ſtate room, a poor unfortunate woman lay at her length; the poor ſoul had received her commiſſion for the next world; but looking further, a helpleſs little infant—The little toad has, at this moment, got hold of my finger, Hannah—Let me write you little ſlut do! Well ſhe was to all appearance dead. She had fallen, it ſeems, with her mother, and lain for more than a quarter of an hour weltering in blood, 'till ſhe had ſcreamed herſelf hoarſe, and loſt her ſtrength. This, you ſee, I learnt from my two enamoratas, who had ſeen all this, and had given the poor little ſoul no aſſiſtance. I was deviliſhly in love [Page 49] with them now to be ſure. You never heard ſuch fine love language in your life. I curſed them for two infernal hell-cats, and bid them beſtir themſelves and aſſiſt the poor little creature, or I'd put them in irons. Well, away I went to work, brought her to, got a fire; but the beſt of it was, our people not hearing any thing of me, thought I was murdered, ſo aboard they came in a ſhoal. What dye think I was about? Making pap for little Britannia. I mean to call her Britannia Hannah. I have taken good care of her ever ſince. Whenever I can ſpare time, ſhe is upon my knee, and then, by way of mortifying the jezabels, who would have let her die without help, I make them turn out watch, and watch to nurſe her. But, Hannah, you are to underſtand theſe are not Engliſh women, they are a ſort of Spaniſh mulattos. No, no, I have ſeen a pretty many countries, but either for beauty, or goodneſs, there are no women in the world like the Engliſh. The mother of my little [Page 50] charge was an American. Her features are very beautiful; and ſo after a bit of a ſnivel, for you know I am a woman in theſe matters, I had her treated with all decency, and then committed her to Davy Jones's locker; and for want of a chaplain, I ſaid the burial ſervice myſelf, and, perhaps, with as much ſincerity, as his reverence. And ſo you ſee the love I was in ſuch a curſed hurry to entertain for the dingy ladies, I transferred to the mother of my little ſmiling companion. You don't know what good company ſhe is, though ſhe can't ſpeak; but that you know ſhe'll pay off with intereſt when ſhe grows up. I [...]ll make her fortune if I live. But don't you think I have made a good diſtinction? No, no; that is my pride; a true ſailor never thinksof ſkin deep pleaſures whenever any thing comes acroſs him that intereſts the heart.
But I muſt be brief, as the Ghoſt ſays in Hamlet, 'The prize is going to leave [Page 51] us.' I have put on board the ſecond lieutenant, as prize-maſter, Jack Ringbolt, Dick Dawſon, Joe Muſgrove, and the clevereſt fellow, of an ordinary ſeaman, I ever met with, one Charles Walmſley, I entered him myſelf at Briſtol, he is a deviliſh ſightly ſellow, and ſings a good ſong, but what's better, as we boarded the St. Domingo man, he ſent a Spaniſh raſcal to Abraham's boſom juſt as he was aiming a a pole ax at my head.
Now after all, I'll tell you what, I am almoſt ſorry for what has been done; the captain is ſulky, and won't avail himſelf of of our good fortune. He has taken the command of the ſhip again, and ordered us to go for Briſtol, where, he ſays, he'll bring us to account. Lord love him, I know him to be as good a man as ever lived, and as clever a ſeaman as ever ſtept between ſtem and ſtern; a valuable friend, an affectionate huſband, and a tender father; but I have ruined him for all that, [Page 52] by diſobeying his orders, and yet his orders were reaſonable. 'Tis true he'll convince his owners that we were guilty of mutiny, but will he convince them, that this St. Domingo man, is not worth five and fifty thouſand pounds? But I hope to reconcile him before we arrive; in which caſe he ſhall freely have all the glory of the battle, and I'll content myſelf with having ſaved little Britannia from a watery grave. In either caſe, I know, you love me well enough to give me your approbation. Adieu, the firſt box of indigo we unpack I'll ſend you as a preſent to blue your cloaths, being,
Your affectionate brother, THOMAS HIGGINS.
1.6. CHAP. VI. THE SEQUEL OF CAPTAIN HIGGINS'S INFORMATION—A LETTER FROM CHARLES WAMLESLEY—AND SOME ACCOUNT OF HANNAH'S SECOND BROTHER.[Page 53]
THE event turned out as my brother had predicted. He was carried round Briſtol on the ſailor's ſhoulders, the owners immediately ſubſcribed to build a privateer of thity-ſix guns, the largeſt that ever ſailed out of that port; and the poor captain was adviſed to ſtay at home with his family, and looked upon as a very peaceable, worthy member of ſociety, but as one not fit to command a fighting ſhip; nay, he could never after get an employ in the merchant's ſervice; for, of courſe, he [Page 54] who would not not attack an enemy, could not defend himſelf.
I muſt do my brother the juſtice to ſay, that he was indefatigable in defending the reputation of his captain; but all his efforts were conſidered as handſome inſtances of his own forbearance and diſintereſtedneſs, and only ſerved, while they the better confirmed him in the good opinion of his employers to load the poor unfortunate captain with additional obliquy.
At length the veſſel was ready, and never was there greater parade upon any ſimilar occaſion. She was launched with as much form and ceremony as a firſt rate. A ball was given to the ladies, favours were worn, glaſſes were blown with the names of the ſhip and commander, cut on their rims, Fan mounts carried her portrait; in ſhort, expectation was never more a tip toe, nor was it ever better gratified. His ſucceſs was aſtoniſhing, and [Page 55] he found himſelf preſently worth ſeventeen thouſand pounds, his ſhare of the prize money ariſing from his different captures.
For my own part I grew as rich as a Jew, and as happy as a queen; for he was continually ſending me preſents, and would have had me come and live with him at Briſtol, where, ſailor like, he had a houſe open to all comers; but I was bound both by inclination and duty to ſtay where I was; for, I own, I could not give over the hope I had of, once more, ſeeing John Hewit; and then again, exchanging a life of induſtry for a life of idleneſs, was little ſuited to my taſte; beſides I was an apprentice in a worthy family, and had my points of honour to conſider as well as my brother had his.
This trade continued for a year and a half. At length, nothing was heard of my brother, nor his ſhip, and the conjectures [Page 56] of all his friends were that he was either loſt, or taken. After I had been about three months in this ſtate of uncertainty, I received, by the poſt, the following letter,
TO MRS. HANNAH HIGGINS, LIVING AT MR. SMALLBROOK'S, MANUFACTURER, WOLVERHAMPTON.
MRS. HANNAH, MADAM,
BEING, for the preſent, diſabled of the uſe of my right arm by reaſon of a wound from a ſplinter in running under the fort of Vigo, I write by the hand of the gentleman, next in command, I being, by your brother's goodneſs, firſt lieutenant, to let you know that I am very much afraid your brother's hanged; but don't be alarmed, let them hang him at their peril; if they do, I'll run up the two Spaniards at the yard arm, and ſo I have ſent them word.
[Page 57] The thing is, your brother has been conquered by treachery, fair fighting would never have done it. Laſt Saturday was a fortnight, at two o'clock, P. M. we put into Vigo for water. Captain Higgins was invited aſhore by the governor, in a very handſome manner, that I muſt needs ſay, but let a Spaniard alone. They had, it ſeems, declared war againſt England, and we being at ſea, never heard of it.
So after giving my captain a good dinner, he got a very pretty piece of news for his deſert. They told him he was a priſoner, and deſired he would ſend inſtructions to me, his firſt lieutenant, to deliver up the ſhip and cargo to two ſwarthy raſcals of Spaniards that they ſent aboard of us. Captain Higgins, who always valued his owners' intereſt above his own, wrote on the margin, in a figure hand, that nobody underſtood but he and I, theſe words, 'Walmeſley don't regard what I [Page 58] have written above, but ſlip your cable and out to ſea. Whatever becomes of me ſhew your uſual readineſs to oblige me by obeying my orders.'
I ſcratched my head and looked like a fool. There was not a moment to loſe. At laſt it came into my mind, that by keeping the two Spaniards we might ſave our captain. So I got them below, gave them ſome liqoeurs, notified my orders, and we were under a flowing topſail in the ſtriking of a jack. As ſoon as the Spaniards diſcovered what we were after, they ſaid I had better go back for that we ſhould ſee captain Higgins hanging on the town walls. Well, ſaid I, my lads, give a good look out, and if it be ſo, run up theſe good gentlemen; that will be ſome revenge at any rate: two to one will be odds.
But now we had ſomething elſe to think of, we were running under the fort, [Page 59] and gloriouſly pepper us they did! But never mind that, I have brought the veſſel ſafely to Liſbon, Spaniards and all, and have applied to the Engliſh Conſul, and he ſays he'll do what he can for us; and as I knew nothing would give your brother ſo much ſatisfaction as relieving you from any uneaſineſs you might be under, upon his account, I have troubled you with theſe few lines, being all at preſent from,
Your humble ſervant, CHARLES WALMESLEY.
This letter gave me conſiderable uneaſineſs. The uncertainty of my brother's fate was a dreadful reflection to me, and there was little probability that I ſhould be very ſoon relieved from my ſuſpenſe. But there were other circumſtances which cauſed me many unpleaſant thoughts. This Charles Walmeſley my brother had in his letters repreſented to me as a handſome man, and a worthy character; and, [Page 60] indeed, in his plain, but ſtrongly affectionate manner, had requeſted I would think of him as a huſband, declaring that, if on their return I ſhould like him, he would ſhare his laſt ſixpence with us.
I certainly had a proper ſenſe of his kindneſs, and turned the matter in my mind very frequently, but thoſe, who know any thing of love, will confeſs with me, that oppoſition confirms his reign, and obſtacles ſerve only to ſtimulate his exertions. My brother's idea of a handſome man might not be to my taſte, and then all the world could not have bribed me to marry a ſailor; again, how to give up the flattering expectation of reforming poor Hewit, who was a handſome man to my taſte. Theſe and other reflections created a conflict in my mind between my wiſhes and thoſe of my brother. My excuſes to him, however, had been nothing more than that it was a ſtrange thing, even upon his recommendation, to fall in love with a [Page 61] man I had never ſeen, I might not think on the ſubject like him; that an agreeable companion to him on board ſhip, might be ill calculated to make himſelf agreeable to me aſhore; and that it did not follow, becauſe he was a good ſeaman, and an honourable character, he would make ſuch a huſband as I ſhould approve of.
Theſe excuſes were always combated with ſuch ſort of anſwers, as ſeemed as if he had ſome perſon who was a ſpy upon my actions, 'He knew my reaſons—I did not like worth and honour; I liked profligacy, and a vagrant.' In ſhort, he, at length, pofitively gave me to underſtand that he was perfectly acquainted with my partiality for Hewit; but aſſured me, if ever I expected to receive any countenance from him, I muſt think of no other perſon than Walmeſley.
It came into my mind immediately, that Sourby was the cauſe of all this; [Page 62] for as every body had heard of my brother, and even the newſpapers inſtructed any body how to addreſs him, nothing could be eaſier than for Sourby to give this information relative to me, which I had no doubt his malignant mind would induce him to repreſent in every poſſible way to my diſadvantage.
It was at the time I was preparing to combat this treachery, which I had ſo ſagaciouſly diſcovered, that I received the letter from Walmeſley, which, I own, had a moſt extraordinary effect on my mind. It was ſo full of gratitude to my brother, ſo perſonally brave, ſo ſenſible as to conduct, and then, the poor fellow, with his arm in a ſling, to think of ſending me word of my brother's misfortune, not, apparently, out of ſolicitude on my account, but becauſe he thought it would give his benefactor pleaſure, and all this without a word of love. If he had ſeen and known me ever ſo, he could not have taken ſo complete [Page 63] a method of intereſting me in his favour. I own I felt this moſt ſenſibly; and ſo little does human reaſon take reflection with it, that I wiſhed for a moment there was no ſuch perſon in the world as John Hewit.
As I was conſtrained to wait till my patience was fairly worne out before this matter was elucidated, I cannot do better than employ that tedious interval in ſpeaking of my other brother, who was as great a diſgrace and reproach to me, as my elder brother was an honour, and a credit.
He was, as I have ſaid already, articled to an attorney; but inſtead of bending his mind to make his profeſſion an inſtrument of comfort and convenience to his fellow creatures, his uniform ſtudy was to harraſs and diſtreſs them. If he was ſent to ſerve a writ, or levy an execution, it was not ſufficient to inſult the poor wretch its ſacrifice; he enjoyed with a deteſtible pleaſure, the miſery of the wife, [Page 64] and the terror of the children; and with the moſt ingenious cruelty, magnified their apprehenſions.
His idea ſeemed to be, that hardneſs of heart and ſubtilty were the only characteriſtic requiſites in the practice of an attorney. But how he could acquire all this is aſtoniſhing; for really Mr. Cleverly, with whom he lived, was a quiet worthy character, who had gone through life with great credit and reſpectability, and then living at ſo remote a part of the world! But I don't know how it is, there ſeems to be an inherent ſpark of mental virus in our natures, that like the leaven in our conſtitutions, which is ſaid to generate the ſmall pox, when it comes in contact with that contagious malady, ſtamps our minds beautiful, or deformed, according to its degree of ſtrength and influence. If we are but ſlightly affected with it, our feelings reach no further than ſolly, but if ſeverely, vice, and all its hideous train, [Page 65] mark every feature of the mind; and this was never more truly exemplified than in my brother, who, from an infant, be the game or play what it might, was ſure to get his companions into ſome litigation; till, at laſt, finding the country no place for ſuch aſpiring talents, he ran away from his maſter, who was glad enough to get rid of him, and arrived in London, the true ſcene of action for genius like his.
From circumſtances that afterwards came to my knowledge, I am enabled to relate the following particulars of him. When he firſt arrived in town, his brother lawyers were ſhy of him, fearing he might have been tainted in the country with fooliſh prejudices, or ſcruples, but in a ſhort time they became ſo well convinced to the contrary, that he got a great deal of practice as an agent; and it was very ſoon remarked, as a great feather in his cap, that he could ſwear to a ſervice, puzzle a declaration, [Page 66] inſtruct a willing evidence, or ſmooth an honeſt one, with any practitioner of his age belonging to the courts.
At length he began to figure away upon his own account; and, thanks to the vindictive ſpirit of mankind, became fluſh of money. He turned his hand to every thing. He would parade the receſſes of a priſon, and drain the purſes of the poor wretches immerſed there, by adviſing them to iſſue ſuperſedeaſes, bring habeas corpuſes, or ſue for groats. He would court the alliance of Jews in Duke's Place, to be inſtrumental in obtaining poſt obits, and purchaſing annuities. He would be houſe-adviſer to a bailiff the better to ſqueeze, and perplex the affairs of the debtors whom that bailiff might chance to have in his cuſtody. He would manufacture bankruptcies. He would connive at ſwindling, in ſhort, there cannot be a nefarious villany which thoſe peſts of ſociety, pettifogging attornies [Page 67] perpetually practice, but he would, occaſionally, engage in, ſo he could make it turn to account.
Having now prodigious practice, he married a woman he knew to have been kept by a man of faſhion, who, he hoped, would pay her attention afterwards; that thus he might be able to hamper him in an action of crim. con. and either huſh the matter up, by a handſome compoſition, or recover large damages, ſhould it be brought to trial; in which latter caſe, he would be enabled to get rid of the woman, and marry another from the ſame views. He was, however, deceived in this, for ſhe made an honeſt wife in ſpight of his teeth, which ſo irritated him, that he beat her for not proſtituting herſelf; but upon her making a heavy complaint againſt him, he was obliged to conſent to a ſeparate maintenance.
[Page 68] This circumſtance gave him not a little uneaſineſs, for ſhe was unavoidably in poſſeſſion of ſome of his ſecret practices. To get rid, therefore, of every ill conſequence that might ariſe from her diſcovering him, he connived at a proſecution againſt himſelf for a perjury, before ſhe could be ripe for any ſuch attack, and thus, by properly preparing the evidence, he avoided all poſſible danger, becauſe no man can be tried for the ſame offence a ſecond time.
Of this crime every one believed him guilty; but ſince the law did not find him ſo, mere opinions were to him of very little conſequence. In Newgate he was viſited by people of faſhion; when he was acquitted, a hired rabble gave a ſhout of applauſe, and he ſpent that evening at one of the firſt gaming houſes in town, and though he was kicked out for want of money, he returned in a ſhort [Page 69] time with his pockets well lined, and, afterwards reigned maſter of a Pharoah Bank, from whence he uſed to ſay, he had ſeen men riſe nabobs at night who had been beggars in the morning, and others beggars who in the morning had been nabobs.
1.7. CHAP. VII. TWO ATTEMPTS AT A RAPE UPON POOR HANNAH, ONE BY SOURBY, AND THE OTHER BY NOBODY KNOWS WHO, TOGETHER WITH THE HEROISM OF BINNS, AND THE ARRIVAL OF A STRANGER.[Page 70]
MATTERS were in this ſtate, my elder brother I knew not where, and my other brother I cared not where, when a very extraordinary circumſtance happened.—Sourby had, notwithſtanding his frequent repulſes, peſtered me at times with his fulſome love; and, one day, made an attempt to violate my honour, when Binns reſcued me from his power, and gave him a ſevere chaſtiſement; after which, upon my threatening, at Mr. Smallbrook's deſire, to proſecute him for attempting to [Page 71] commit a rape, he left Wolverhampton, and we had not heard of him for a conſiderable time.
Binns, who was rejoiced at his rival's abſence, paid me, after this, more particular attention, and ventured, now and then, to hint, that if Hewit did not return, his aſſiduity might, probably, in the end, conquer my indifference.
Something I ſaw plainly he was meditating; and one day, upon my treating him with more than ordinary civility, I thought I diſerned in his eyes a peculiar kind of ſelf ſatisfaction, like that which I have ſpoken of before to have been noticed by Clariſſa in the eyes of Lovelace. He being, however, a lover of a very different ſtamp, I had no apprehenſions upon this account; and having received, on his leaving me, a very diſagreeable piece of news, my mind was ſo totally [Page 72] abſorbed in it, that Binns, and the whole converſation went out of my head.
The intelligence I received was, that one Mrs. Crow, a poor old ſoul, who had been Miſs Williams's nurſe, and whom, on that account, as well as her being a moſt pious and good woman, I treated, as far as my circumſtances could permit me, with every attention and kindneſs in my power, was taken dangerouſly ill and requeſted to ſee me. This was in the afternoon, and as it was winter time, and Mrs. Crow lived two miles out of town, it was nearly dark before I reached her houſe.
To my very great aſtoniſhment I found her in perfect health; at which I was ſo delighted, that I had chatted away ſome time before I conſidered this falfe intelligence muſt have been ſent me with ſome bad deſign. Mrs. Crow joined me in this opinion, and we determined that I [Page 73] ſhould ſtay there all night, for it was now quite dark, when who ſhould come in but the very man who had brought me the meſſage.
We both began queſtioning him, and were informed that Binns had ſent him; and as I had paid him handſomely, for he was a kind of errand man, and, occaſionally, a porter in the town, he ſaid, he had come himſelf to ſee how poor Mrs. Crow did, and to know if he could render her any further ſervice.
There was ſomething ſo ingenuous in this confeſſion, that, without heſitation, I agreed that he ſhould be my guide home, for, after all, there was ſome work to be given out early in the morning, which nobody could fit but myſelf, and, however, ſatisfied I might be as to Mr. Smallbrook's conſiderateneſs, I made it a rule never to neglect his buſineſs, unleſs upon any preſſing occaſion; as this would have been, [Page 74] had it not been cleared up, in which caſe he would have blamed me for ſtanding upon ſo much ceremony.
As to Binns, I own, I never was ſo aſtoniſhed in my life as at what I had heard, but I did not ſuppoſe, ſingular as his conduct was, I had any thing to appre hend from it, becauſe he had always appeared to me to be a man of ſtrict honour; beſides I was well guarded, and I felt a peculiar impulſe, which never in my life has deceived me, that I ſhould come to no harm.
It was uncommonly dark, and if my guide had not been furniſhed with a lantern by Mrs. Crow, we ſhould ſcarcely been able to ſind our way. For a good diſtance we went on pretty well, but there was ſomething, at laſt, in the buſineſs I did not like. The fellow was every minute crying out huſh, don't you hear a noiſe? And this when there was no cauſe [Page 75] for apprehenſion; and, therefore, it muſt have been to frighten me, By and bye, when we came exactly to that part of Love-lane, where Jenny Rhodes ſtabbed Suſan Wingrove, he cried out—'Lord have mercy upon us,' fell down, and extinguiſhed the light.
Full of vexation, and, indeed, ſuſpicion, I groped about, and called to the man, but received no anſwer. I had very little time to deliberate, when a man caught me in his arms and began to grow very rude. I ſcreamed out—'Huſh,' cried he, in a whiſper, 'don't you know me? I am Binns—I can no longer reſiſt my paſſion for you, and this moment ſhall witneſs my happineſs.'
He ſpoke not another word, but began to treat me with ſuch violent rudeneſs, that in ſpight of all my reſiſtance, I began to entertain the moſt dreadful apprehenſions. [Page 76] I entreated, prayed, ſcreamed, ſtruggled; till at length my ſtrength became totally exhauſted, and I fainted away.
I had not been long in this ſituation when the voice of Binns, for he ſpoke loud enough now, reiterated in my ears. He ſeemed ſo rejoiced at my returning to life, that I thought the man would have gone mad with pleaſure. As I was perfectly convinced my honour was ſafe, I took this for repentance, and ſeverely lectured him for his ſtrange and violent conduct. He called Heaven to witneſs he had uſed no ſuch conduct towards me, but on the contrary, had been ſo fortunate as to reſcue me, once more, from the hands of a raviſher.
I ſaid, I was glad of any thing that had induced him to repent of his brutality, but that what he uttered was falſe, for it was plain he had not only ſent the ſham [Page 77] meſſage, but had tutored the man, who brought it, how to betray me into his power.
He declared, by all that was ſacred, he did not comprehend me, and was going on when a man, with a lantern in his hand, came running up to us; and having held the light firſt to Binns's face, and then to mine, cried, 'I have not ſtrength to ſupport myſelf!' and fell down.
We now left off our altercation, and began to inquire into the ſituation of the poor fallen man, but we had not purſued our good offices a moment, when ſeeing a number of people come towards us with lights, Binns cried out, ''Tis he, Hannah, as ſure as you are born, 'tis John Hewit!'
'You are right, meſſmate,' ſaid the man on the ground, 'I am John Hewit ſure enough, but I am very weak; and flurying myſelf to come up with you, it [Page 78] overcome the little ſtrength I had left, but I ſhall be better preſently. They tell me I ſhall have a good birth at the workhouſe; and after I have taken a little ſtowage in my hold, there is no fear but I ſhall right.'
A poſſee now came up. They conſiſted of pariſh officers, conſtables, and a number of idle people, who were collected together out of curioſity. We learnt that they were conveying ſome paupers to the workhouſe, which was ſituate about a quarter of a mile further, one of theſe was John Hewit, who had been ſhipwrecked on the coaſt of Suſſex; and upon telling his name and pariſh, had been paſſed home as a vagrant. They added, that on hearing ſome perſon at a diſtance ſcream violently, they were coming up as expediciouſly as they could, but not faſt enough for Hewit's impatience; who, weak as he was, ſnatched a lantern out of the conſtable's hand, and ran towards [Page 79] us with ſuch ſpeed, that the effort overcame him in the manner before deſcribed.
Binns ſaid he had been told of this circumſtance, and was going to the workhouſe to uſe his beſt intereſt for Hewit's accommodation, when he alſo heard a ſcreaming; and, being conſiderably nearer, was fortunate enough to lend me the aſſiſtance I ſtood in need of.
I gave Binns's declaration what degree of credit I thought proper; but chuſing, at preſent, to agree to this interpretation of his conduct, I anſwered the various enquiries that were made in ſuch a way as induced the by ſtanders to believe that I had been ſet upon by ſome robber, and reſcued by the gallantry of Binns, who ſeemed, in their opinion, to be born for my champion, for there was no perſon preſent who had not heard of his preſerving [Page 80] my honour from the rude attempts of Sourby.
A number of ſagacious obſervations were now made, ſome of them not very good natured; one ſaid that, "Love-lane was a very good place for people to meet in the dark." Another ſaid, "Some people ſqueaked out when nobody was a hurting them." One talked ſomething about mock modeſty; another, "What a fine thing it was to be a favourite of the ladies." To all which Binns made very ſuitable anſwers. As to myſelf, I was involved in ſuch a train of thinking that I had neither ſpirits, nor ability to make any reply, and if I had wiſhed to do ſo, perhaps, my contempt would have withheld me; and as for poor Hewit, who ſeemed very ill, he appeared to liſten to the whole in ſullen ſilence.
As this ſtrange ſcene wore more and [Page 81] more a very ſerious complexion, I haſtened to put a ſtop to it; and deſiring Binns to accompany me home, I parted from this motley tribe, firſt aſſuring Hewit that I would mention his caſe that very evening to Mr. Smallbrook, who I had no doubt would do every thing in his power to ſerve him. He ſeemed ſcarcely to thank me, and we parted.
Going home I inſiſted upon an explanation from Binns, of all his ſtrange conduct; telling him, as circumſtances I ſuppoſed he muſt have known, of every thing I knew relative to the falſe meſſage, and Benjamin Dark the meſſenger's coming to Mrs. Crow's, which had occaſioned all that had happened in Love-lane.
He declared, moſt ſolemnly, that what he had before told me was the literal truth. He ſaid he had heard in the morning, from the maſter of the workhouſe, that Hewit and ſome other paupers, who [Page 82] had been examined at the Quarter Seſſions for the county, were that day expected; that it had immediately ſtruck him he certainly, now, could have no chance of gaining my affection, and, therefore, the utmoſt he ſhould expect would be my friendſhip, which, he ſaid, he was determined to deſerve by every means in his power; that to effect this, he was reſolved to do every thing he could to ſerve and aſſiſt Hewit, that he was even delighted with his project, which, he declared, had given him more ſubſtantial pleaſure than ever he had felt in his life, and it was this very pleaſure that infuſed into his countenance the confident ſatisfaction, of which the reader may remember I had taken ſuch particular notice in the morning; ſo that, for that time, my ſagacity was fallible.
He ſaid he would have returned to the workhouſe after ſeeing me home; but from the temper Hewit ſeemed then to be [Page 83] in, it was better let alone; beſides, the maſter was his particular friend, and would be ſure to pay Hewit every poſſible attention; and, after all, one night was ſoon paſſed, and in the morning there could be no doubt but matters would be cleared to the ſatisfaction of every body.
Admitting all this to be truth, it ſhould appear that this Benjamin Dark was the ruffian who had ſet upon me. In which caſe he muſt have made uſe of Binns's name, as the moſt likely perſon I would, in ſuch a caſe, have relied upon; and it now ſtruck me, that as the fellow came at different times on buſineſs to our houſe, he uſed to venture at ſome awkward compliments, and paſs ſome rough jokes that ſeemed, then, to have nothing particular in them, but which appeared, now, to mean, ſuppoſing Binns to have told the truth, a good deal.
The morning, however, was to elucidate [Page 84] every thing, to that the diſpute was referred. Binns aſſured me he would find Dark and confront him face to face, and deſired I would form no favourable opinion of his conduct but in proportion as it ſhould appear unobjectionable from an impartial inveſtigation of it.
1.8. CHAP. VIII. THE MYSTERY OF THE RAPE LEADS TO ANOTHER MYSTERY OF A MORE COMPLEX KIND; WHICH NOT ONLY POSES THE SAGACITY OF HANNAH, BUT OF ALL WOLVERHAMPTON.[Page 85]
IT will very eaſily be credited that I ſcarcely cloſed my eyes the whole night. A variety of conflicting ideas agitated my mind, and I very plainly ſaw I was in ſuch a ſituation that I had need of a protector. My talents were ſuch an object of envy, and my conduct was ſo exemplary, that I had no doubt, if I continued long in a ſingle ſtate, but the vulgar malignity of the wretches, who had too little principle to imitate me, would, one day or other, induce them to fabricate [Page 86] ſome lie, with ſuch artful circumſtances, as might gain general credit; and then all my towering proſpects of ſuperiority would vaniſh into air.
From all thoſe combatting conſiderations, I thought it incumbent on me to form an immediate reſolution. John Hewit was now come back; on him I had ſet my heart: What then? I could not make the firſt declaration; and though he would find plenty of informers, of whom he would learn that my name, on his account, had been finely bandied about in his abſence; yet, it did not follow, that this would appear a matter of any moment to him; his ſtrange conduct, the night before, had given me no expectation that it would; and after all he might be married himſelf.
I determined, therefore, whatever might have been my former thoughts, that if there was any unſurmountable bar to my [Page 87] union with Hewit, it ſtill ſhould not hinder me, qualified as I was, from ſettling in life. The next object, therefore, that preſented itſelf was Walmeſley; whom, yet why, or wherefore, I did not know, I could not get out of my head. A match with him would gratify my brother; and then he appeared to be ſuch a worthy, good creature! but then, where was he? and again, if he were to return, how could I bear to think of marrying a ſailor; And it was very little likely that he would give up his profeſſion on my account.
Diſmiſſing Walmeſley from my mind, I was naturally led to think of Binns, who I certainly had a moſt ſincere friendſhip for; and who, if he made out the ſtory of Love-lane in his favour, had really many and various calls upon my gratitude; but I don't know how it was, I never thought of him as a huſband without ſhuddering. He was a very well looking young man; and people would ſay, by [Page 88] way of low wit, that after all, Hewit ſtood no chance; for any body might ſee Binns and Hannah Higgins would be man and wife, they were ſo alike each other.
Thus I went on tormenting myſelf, and putting this queſtion into every poſſible point of view; my poor heart, like the faithful needle, reverting perpetually to John Hewit, the only point that had any attraction for it.
I had ſcarcely breakfaſted when Binns came to inform me, that Benjamin Dark had made his eſcape in the night, and had taken with him ſeveral letters and notes, with which he had been, as was very cuſtomery, entruſted to deliver to the poſtoffice; and, added, that as his honeſty had never been before impeached, and it was impoſſible he could have addreſs enough to paſs theſe notes, the gentleman, who had ſuſtained the loſs, conjectured that he was only an inſtrument in [Page 89] the hands of ſome more artful perſon, and they were, therefore, drawing up a proper hand bill to circulate all over the country, ſo that whoever ſhould be concerned in the buſineſs might be detected.
Binns ſaid, that he hoped the alacrity he ſhould ſhew in forwarding this detection, would ſerve to acquit him, in my opinion, of any improper intention as to his conduct of the evening before; and, added, that as Hewit was come back, and there could be no chance of obtaining my heart, he would with the greateſt pleaſure exert his utmoſt endeavours to bring about our union; in effecting which, though he ſhould, of courſe, loſe all proſpect of being my lover, he hoped he ſhould merit, by his aſſiduity, ſo far my eſteem that I might conſider him as a brother.
There was ſomething ſo truly noble in the whole of this declaration, that I thanked him in the handſomeſt terms for [Page 90] his uncommon kindneſs, and ſincere friendſhip; and aſſured him, that whoever poſſeſſed my love, I ſhould ever conſider him, in the higheſt degree, entitled to my gratitude.
He now undertook to viſit Hewit, and completely to overcome, in his mind, whatever prejudices he might have imbibed from what he had ſeen and heard in Love-lane; which, no doubt, had been ſufficiently exaggerated ſince. This converſation, he ſaid, he would manage with the propereſt delicacy towards me, which would ſpare me a great deal of awkward embarraſſment, and he would afterwards take care to inform me of the ſtate of Hewit's mind, that I might make up my own ſo as to act according to circumſtances,
The beneficence, mingled in this friendſhip, brought tears into my eyes. Whoever I marry, ſaid I, God ſend, [Page 91] for the ſake of my ſuſceptible heart, that he may have a mind like yours; and yet, ſaid I, 'Mr. Binns, ſo capricious is human nature, though I highly value you for your noble ſentiments, and count your friendſhip as the higheſt compliment that was ever paid from exalted worth, to unprotected honour, if there was not another man upon the face of the earth, I don't know how it is, but pray be not offended at my frankneſs, I could not think of you as a huſband.'
He ſaid he had long ſeen it, and ſo far from being offended at my frankneſs, he admired it. He then took leave of me to go to Hewit; and in the afternoon, when he called upon me again, informed me that he could not tell what to make of his embaſſy; Hewit had ſaid, that it was his intention to return to his maſter, who, he had no doubt, when all the hardſhips he had undergone were conſidered, would not be averſe to receiving him, as it was [Page 92] now very much his wiſh to ſtick to his buſineſs, and make up for loſt time; but that he did not chuſe to owe this favour, or any other, to any perſon's ſolicitation whatever.
Binns ſaid he had but an awkard account to give of his love negociation, which he had determined to enter upon collaterally, collecting what he had to gather from Hewit, by introducing a converſation on the adventures of the night before. Hewit did not ſeem to place an implicit faith in what Binns advanced; on the contrary, gave hints, according to his idea, not much to my advantage, ſaying, 'he had heard a little of the young lady's conduct, for he had ſailed in her brother's ſhip, and had there learnt that ſhe was promiſed to one Walmeſley, her brother's firſt lieutenant.'
How Hewit came aboard the ſhip, I could not poſſibly conceive, but this appeared [Page 93] to unravel the ſtrange circumſtance of that intelligence which my brother had got relative to my ſentiments. I no longer blamed Sourby; for the blame, if any, was clearly imputable to Hewit himſelf, who, very naturally, did what he could to combat Walmeſley's pretenſions, the better to eſtabliſh his own; and, I confeſs, I felt myſelf flattered at the circumſtance, for it proved, whatever might be his ſullenneſs at preſent, that his thoughts had been occupied on me; and, again, the adroit means he muſt have uſed to manage this, ſo as not to diſcover he was the very Hewit, had not only the fervour, but the ingenuity of love; and, therefore, proved that his ſentiments of me were as favourable as I could wiſh.
I told Binns that my brother had certainly made me a propoſal to marry Walmeſley, who had done his duty nobly and honourably, but as he was a perſon I had never ſeen, I had no doubt but, [Page 94] upon a proper repreſentation of the matter, he would be eaſily induced to forego his intenſion in favour of Hewit, who, in this inſtance, of happening to be on board his ſhip, might, perhaps, have done his duty too. More converſation, of this kind, paſſed, and Binns reiterated his promiſes of friendſhip and ſervices with great warmth, and after making ſome arrangement, as to the mode of managing matters concerning Hewit, we parted.
The firſt thing I heard the next morning was, that Binns had gone unexpectedly to London the night before. I was ſo aſtoniſhed at this extraordinary intelligence, that I begged Mr. Smallbrook would enquire of his uncle, with whom I before mentioned he was in partnerſhip, what could poſſibly have cauſed ſo unexpected an event; the uncle ſaid, for anſwer, that it had originated from a very ſingular miſtake. He had received information that a conſiderable houſe, with [Page 95] which he was connected in town, was on the eve of failing; and that by a ſpeedy application for a ſettlement of accounts, perhaps, their concerns would eſcape the general wreck.
The uncle ſaid, that, upon this news, his nephew had ſeemed very anxious to make the application in perſon, becauſe, being a party, he could more immediately act as neceſſity ſhould point out, than if the matter was conducted by an agent. He thought, he ſaid, that there was a particular earneſtneſs in this zeal, which he greatly commended him for, and he immediately conſented to his ſetting out; but, he added, that the precaution was from firſt to laſt unneceſſary; for he had that morning not only received remittances, which ſet him perfectly at eaſe, as to the ſolvency of the concern, but large orders on their own account, as well as from other reſpectable houſes through their recommendation.
[Page 96] He ſaid, whence this curious buſineſs could originate, he was at a loſs to gueſs, but his nephew would, in a minute diſcover the fraud, and of courſe take coach and come back again. This prediction, however, was not verified, for he did not return, nor have I ſet eyes on him but once, and that but for a moment, and by a mere accident, from that time to this.
The falſe intelligence, in the courſe of a few days, was attributed to Binns himſelf; ſo was the falſe meſſage I had received through Benjamin Dark; and, indeed, now was the embezzlement of the notes; for, otherwiſe, how could it have been worth his while to have, left a reputable buſineſs, in which he had a handſome concern, for he did not appear to have taken any conſiderable property, or ſum of money of his own.
And, indeed, this involved the buſineſs in complete myſtery. His character [Page 97] had been the faireſt that ever was known. His uncle had a great value for him, and intended, when he had once ſettled, to have retired and left him and his ſiſter the whole concern, firſt drawing a handſome income out of it for his own ſupport.
Having, perhaps, more charity than my neighbours, I was, on theſe accounts, the laſt that yielded to what every day's obſervation ſeemed to confirm, for which I was not a little reflected on. It was ſaid I muſt be out of my ſenſes. If he had not embezzled the notes, who had? If he had not made Benjamin Dark the inſtrument of his intention to ruin me, who had? In ſhort, I could not help, at laſt, inclining towards the general opinion; and as the moſt natural excuſe I could make for him, I attributed all his conduct to his love for me, which had induced him to contrive a plan for my ruin, he had not the heart to accompliſh, to take, afterwards, the ſupererogate, and romantic reſolution [Page 98] of bringing about my union with Hewit; and in ſhort, of forming all thoſe ſtrange and nonſenſical reſolutions, which could enter the head of no man out of Bedlam, except a man in love.
Yet to take leave of his principles as well as his friends, was a thing beyond my comprehenſion; no young man upon earth ever went ſo far into life with a more unblemiſhed character. He was quoted as an example for all the men, and admired and eſteemed among the worthy part of the women; nay, he was the laſt in the world to profit by the folly he had committed, for he knew nothing of trick, or deceit, and all thoſe who valued him, who were not a few, in Wolverhampton, naturally expected that he would manage the accompliſhment of his fraud ſo awkwardly, that they ſhould hear of his being detected and brought back.
Nothing of this, however, happened. [Page 99] The intelligence we got of Binns was that he was ſet down ſafely in the Borough; and ſhortly afterwards left the inn to go, as he ſaid, into the city, but that he never returned; and, in the mean time, as the money for ſeveral of the notes had been received before proper intelligence could be ſent to ſtop their payment, the moſt probable conjecture was, that he had gone abroad. All this appeared ſo feaſible to the uncle, that though he was under no obligation ſo to do, he declared, that if his nephew did not return in a twelve-month and a day, and if in the mean time the gentlemen who were loſers upon this account, did not receive ſome ſatisfactory reaſon to render it unneceſſary, he would, rather than throw a ſlur upon his family, reimburſe their loſſes.
This handſome conduct ſo operated, that the hand bill was not publiſhed, leſt Binns might be apprehended, and ſuffer an ignominious death. I own none of theſe [Page 100] circumſtances pleaſed me, I could not from my ſoul fully believe him guilty; and though it ſo happened that this fraud was committed exactly at the time when his inconſiderate love for me induced him to leave his friends, there was ſuch inherent goodneſs in his compoſition, that I could not reconcile to myſelf how one and the ſame man could be a valuable member of ſociety and a vile cheat.
I knew, however, that my feeble voice, had I exerted it, would have had but little weight againſt a whole town, who were every day hearing, or forging ſome freſh proof of his guilt, a circumſtance to me, of all others, aſtoniſhing; but it never, in any inſtance, proved to be otherwiſe, for circulate a ſtory to a man's advantage, ſee, if credited at all, with what reluctance it is credited; and then he has done no more than he ought; whereas, accuſe the beſt man in the world of a nefarious act, and the very ſuſpicion ſhall hunt him to his [Page 101] grave. Some 'thought it would come to that,' others 'had ſuſpected it a good while before;' in ſhort, a thouſand undandſome and unfeeling hints and ſneers are inſinuated about; and though the unfortunate wretch may have done many poſitive acts to merit eſteem and admiration, yet this one implied crime is a blot large enough to eclipſe all his virtues, and, in the midſt of friends, he may die for want of an advocate.
1.9. CHAP. IX. HANNAH RECEIVES A VISIT FROM MISS BINNS, WHO PERPLEXES MATTERS A LITTLE MORE. THIS NAIL IS CLINCHED BY A LETTER FROM DARK.[Page 102]
I WAS tormented with theſe cogitations when my ſweet friend, Miſs Binns, called on me, and ſaid, ſhe had ſomething very particular to communicate to me; before, however, I inform the reader what the nature of her buſineſs was, I ſhall go into ſome particulars relative to that young lady, with whom I had unceaſingly continued on a footing of intimacy, though other matters of more immediate importance to this hiſtory, have hitherto prevented me from noticing it.
[Page 103] I have already mentioned that the widow Gregory took Binns and his ſiſter under her protection, as well to keep their manners from being tainted by the influence of thoſe bad examples before their eyes in the conduct of their profligate father, as to reſcue her maiden name of Binns from oblivion; for the old lady being of Welch extraction, was not a little proud of her anceſtors, though her genealogical tree had a very uncertain root, and was now ſo blighted that it boaſted but one branch, and that a very rotten one. Seeing the young ſcion, Binns, however, ſhoot from it ſtrong, handſome, and full of vigour, ſhe was determined to tranſplant it into her own nurſery, where, by her foſtering care, it might improve and flouriſh, and, at length, reſtore the tree to its priſtine luxuriance.
This was the widow's darling contemplation; and though ſhe was a very good woman, 'tis more than probable, had there [Page 104] been no ſon in the caſe, her brother's children would not have been removed from Coalbrook Dale to Wolverhampton.—Thus Binns's fortune was her peculiar care; but finding in his ſiſter every thing ſhe could wiſh for that was amiable, and dutiful, ſhe, at her death, made no diſtinction between them.
The affection of Miſs Binns for her brother, was of ſo tender a nature, that it bordered upon the romantic. She was jealous of every one, to whom he paid particular attention, and refuſed, for his ſake, every offer made to her. She certainly had a warm and ſincere friendſhip for me, but I am convinced it aroſe from my uniform and immoveable determination, not to conſider Binns in the light of a lover; otherwiſe, I have no doubt, but I ſhould have poſſeſſed very little of her eſteem.
The unlimited confidence between us frequently gave me opportunity of expoſtulating [Page 105] with her upon this ſtrange conduct. I repreſented to her that it was very natural, and very laudable to love a brother; but it was the duty of a ſiſter to wiſh that a brother ſhould eſtabliſh himſelf in the world, and that the good of ſociety called upon her to do the ſame; beſides, if her brother did not marry, what would become of the Welch pedigree.
Her anſwer was, ſhe loved goodneſs and honour, and, therefore, ſhe loved her brother; that ſhe did not think any woman could deſerve him; that, as to herſelf, it would be time enough to think of a huſband when he had got a wife; and as to her aunt's projects, as ſhe had not lived to ſee them fulfilled, it was no great matter, in her opinion, even if they never were to be fulfilled at all.
This was the character of Miſs Binns, who now came to me to make an important diſcovery. She told me, that from ſome myſterious circumſtances, ſhe had lately become [Page 106] acquainted with, there appeared very little doubt of her brother's guilt; but even were he guilty to the utmoſt extent of what had been ſuſpected, there was ſtill ſomething amiable in the motive, though egregiouſly weak and unpardonable in the tranſaction.
She gave me to underſtand that her brother had become a ſacrifice to filial duty. She had known, over and above the money her father received through Mr. Williams, which her aunt had enjoined them both never to augment, that Binns had privately ſupplied him with ſums at different times and had alſo paid ſeveral debts. This ſhe did not blame; for, in fact, ſhe had winked at it; but ſhe began at laſt to be ſeriouſly uneaſy, for he had not only had many interviews with his father, at a diſtance from town, but had encouraged him to come clandeſtinely to his uncle's, where they were perpetually cloſeted, as if concerting ſome ſcheme. Nay, the very night before he went to London, ſhe ſaw him let him out through [Page 107] a back garden, and heard him ſay, "Be faithful to me, and this buſineſs will make your fortune."
Upon a further enquiry ſhe had learnt that the father was gone off as well as the ſon. She had, therefore, very ſtrong reaſon to ſuppoſe that he had been enthralled by the artful machinations of a parent to commit a crime which, though the tranſaction baſſled common ſenſe, and ſet probability at defiance, appeared, nevertheleſs, to be true; firſt, by his flight, then by his father's; and, again, becauſe there was no trace of a diſcovery by which it could attach to any body elſe.
She ſaid that ſhe came to me as the trueſt friend ſhe had, to confide in me her ſuſpicions, and the cauſe of them, and to aſk my advice, as to whether it was proper to acquaint her uncle Gregory with them; I ſaid, that after his generous conduct, I ſhould conſider it a very blameable thing, indeed, if ſhe concealed from him a ſingle [Page 108] ſyllable. She, at length, agreed with me, and after laying together every thing we could deviſe to excuſe Binns, without the ſmalleſt ſhadow of ſucceſs, we promiſed to continue kind friends to each other, and parted.
TO MRS. HANNY HIGGINS.
This is to let u no that Binns his a grate rog. Hee a got al thee munny for the nots, and lef me in lurche. Harde tims, Mrs. Hanny, when rogs cant hange together. I do ſuphoſe hit is dangurouſe to cum bak, ſo I bee gwain to ſee to ſave me lif, but I thort it rit to quainte u, that incent peepel mainte ſufer fur giltie villiuns, ſo no more hat preſente.
Yours tel deth, To comhand, BEN DARK.
The letter from Dark, which I immediately communicated to Miſs Binns, ſerved, with a variety of corroborating circumſtances, to render my efforts to eſtabliſh the innocence of Binns altogether fruitleſs; I, therefore, though I was not yet ſatisfied in my mind, talked as little on the ſubject as poſſible, nor did I make anſwer to any of thoſe who, now and then, would din in my ears what a guilty wretch he was; but, that guilty or innocent, I pitied him from my ſoul; for, if guilty, what between his own mind, and his accuſers' rancour, he had already received puniſhment enough; and, if innocent, nothing could make him amends for what he ſuffered.
2. HANNAH HEWIT.
BOOK II. CONTAINING THE ADVENTURES OF HANNAH HEWIT FROM THE TIME OF JOHN'S RETURN TO THE PERIOD OF HER MARRIAGE.
2.1. CHAP. I. A FURTHER ACCOUNT OF JOHN HEWIT—A HINT, OR TWO, CONCERNING SUNDAY SCHOOLS—AND SOME PARTICULARS RELATIVE TO CAPTAIN HIGGINS AND CHARLES WALMESLEY.
I SHALL now ſpeak of Hewit, who two days after he came to Wolverhampton, was taken extremely ill at his maſter's houſe, where he had received a moſt cordial welcome. [Page 112] I could not, with any propriety, viſit him myſelf, but I prevailed on Mrs. Crow, to ſee him, and do every thing in her power to give him aſſiſtance. This truſt I knew ſhe would diſcharge, in every reſpect, to my ſatisfaction, for ſhe was acquainted with my intentions relative to Hewit, and approved of them; and having this opportunity of being near him, ſhe did not ſail to avail herſelf of it.
Her excuſe for calling on him was, that as he had formerly been taken by the hand by Parſon Williams, ſhe was ſure it would give the good Vicar pleaſure to hear of his determination to leave off wandering, and become a ſober man.—From this ſhe would take occaſion to advert to the good that gentleman had done in the neighbourhood, and how many thoughtleſs young people would have been thrown away if he had not intereſted himſelf in their favour. This gave her an opportunity of noticing what a credit I had [Page 113] been to his recommendation, and how much I was the admiration of the whole place, with the exception, indeed, of a few worthleſs people, whoſe good, or ill word, it was not worth my while to concern myſelf about.
He replied very little to all this at firſt, but as he grew better, he became very curious about me. He had heard, as I ſaid before, many ſtories he did not like, told with an invidious intention; and, in particular, he could not ſtomach the laſt buſineſs in Love-lane; but the good old lady ſet him right in every reſpect; and, at laſt, he profeſſed a wiſh to ſee me, adding, he had ſomething very particular, indeed, to ſay to me concerning my brother.
I had been told, as the reader knows, of Hewit's being on board my brother's ſhip, and had made my own remarks on his conduct in relation to Walmeſley; but it [Page 114] now ſtruck me that he had told Binns my brother was determined I ſhould marry Walmeſley, and I imagined he wanted to ſee how my ſentiments were on that ſubject. I, therefore, longed for an interview with him, beſides, I thought it poſſible that he might give me ſome account of my brother, who I much wiſhed to hear of.
As he was now able to walk out, I agreed to meet him at Mrs. Crow's houſe, where, every Sunday, it was my cuſtom to inſtruct poor children in their ſpiritual and temporal duty. It had always been my idea, that if the labouring people had ſome rational mode of employing the Sunday, they would be leſs inclined to frequent alehouſes, and get into debauchery, particularly in manufacturing towns. I uſed, therefore, by way of an example for others, better enabled, both as to abilities and means, than myſelf, to teach as many children as appeared deſirous of improving themſelves in reading, writing, [Page 115] arithmetic, and in ſhort, whatever might be neceſſary for the common purpoſes of life; and that it might not be all labour, I added, by way of amuſement, a little muſic, ſuch as hymns, anthems, and oratorios; I believe, through me, Wolverhampton was the firſt place where the works of the immortal Handel were introduced, which are now ſo well known, and underſtood in country towns.
It had often occurred to me, that all minds ought to be enlightened; that human creatures were all made of the ſame materials; and that nature, in her general endowments, paid no regard to rank and diſtinction, but that ſhe often gifted with ſtrong intellects the mean and lowly, and branded with groſs ignorance the high and dignified; that great talents, and brilliant genius, were as unconfined as the heavenly eſſence that inſpired them, and that the genial ſun delights to ſhine as reſplendantly on a cottage as on a palace.
[Page 116] I had no doubt but this philanthropic ſcheme of mine would, one day or other, be univerſally adopted; and, indeed, before the fatal day I left my native country, I had the inexpreſſible pleaſure of ſeeing it, in an infant ſtate, carried into effect. If it ſhould have generally obtained at the time I am now writing, I have no doubt but it has operated to the honour of morality, the promotion of induſtry, and the advantage of order and good government. There were certainly, however, ſome who did not ſpare to ſay, but envy will always be cavilling, that were this the caſe, it would become a ſerious and an alarming evil; for as there are never wanting malignant ſpirits, who hatch infernal deſigns to ſap the foundation of domeſtic quiet, and make men ſwerve from their different duties of huſband, father, friend, and ſubject; ſo, if ever any ſuch wretch, to gratify his own helliſh purpoſes, ſhould wiſh to unhinge order, and introduce anarchy, he had nothing to [Page 117] do but ſpeciouſly to appeal without truth, without argument, without common ſenſe, to the bewildered imaginations of the multitude, through the medium of that very ſuperficial and ineffectual information with which I had aſtoniſhed, but not convinced their minds.
But this futile obſervation refutes itſelf; and though it is impoſſible that I, in this deſolate place, can ſpeak to what paſſes in my own country, yet, I'll venture to ſay, it is in no ſimilar danger, for the purity of true Engliſh blood will always prove an antidote to the poiſon of any ſuch viper.
After my ſchool hours were over, I had, as I before mentioned, appointed John Hewit to meet me at Mrs. Crow's; and, indeed, my deſign on him was to beg his aſſiſtance in my philanthropic plan, which I had no doubt would greatly contribute [Page 118] to ſoften his manners, and fit him for the purpoſes of ſociety.
As he had told Mrs. Crow, that what he had to ſay to me was very material; ſo, indeed, I found it; for, after a proper preparation, I learnt that my brother had been ſhipwrecked with him, and very probably drowned, for that none of the crew, as far as his knowledge went, eſcaped, except himſelf, and Walmeſley.
I was extremely ſhocked at this intelligence, as the reader may well ſuppoſe; but as it was never my inclination to make my particular misfortunes an inconvenience to my friends, I made an effort to recover myſelf as ſoon as poſſible, and begged he would relate all that had happened to him ſince he had left Wolverhampton.
JOHN HEWIT now began to relate his adventures; and as one judges better of a man's feelings by his own language, than by any ſubſtitute for it, I ſhall here endeavour to ſet his ſtory down in the very words he told it:
"I can only ſay," ſaid John, in anſwer to my noticing that he had enough to tell me; "that you have hit it; there is enough, indeed, if it was but of the right ſort. When I left Wolverhampton, with the five guineas Binns would force upon me, all's one for that, I may pay him one day [Page 120] or other may hap, I ſteered for Worceſter, being determined to puſh for Briſtol, and to go to ſea. Well, the firſt thing that happened was, they took me up for a deſerter, ſtole my money, and marched me to their head quarters at Birmingham; and there, after keeping me in a dungeon for four days, and bringing me to a court martial, I was ordered, by the name of Robert Grigſby, to receive three hundred laſhes, as it was my firſt offence; God knows it was an offence I had not committed, but I muſt needs ſay I could give but a poor account of myſelf, and ſo I was had out and tied up to the halbert.
"I had received about ſixty, or ſeventy laſhes, when a party came and enquired what was doing? They were anſwered, 'No great matter, only flogging a deſerter, one Robert Grigſby.' 'Why, damme, that's impoſſible,' ſaid the other, 'here's Robert Grigſby handſomely handcuffed; we took him this morning.' 'Oh! [Page 121] that's another thing,' ſaid the ſerjeant, 'leave off drummer, ſome little miſtake here, I find.' "So I was untied, and eſcorted back to the inn.
"The hand bill that advertiſed a reward for the apprehenſion of Grigſby, certainly deſcribed a perſon exactly my ſize and complexion; but when we came face to face, we were not like at all; but as they had no power to diſcharge me, without their officer, who was gone upon a party of pleaſure, with ſome milliner's apprentices, to ſee the Leaſowes and Hagley, and other places about the country, I was crammed into the dungeon for two days more, and then brought up for re-examination. The officer, who was the lefthanded ſon of a demi-rep of diſtinction by a trooper in the guards, ſaid it was all owing to my own ſulkineſs; for if I had given a proper account of myſelf, I might have come off well enough;" 'but come,' ſaid he, 'my lad, you have had a taſte of [Page 122] our life, and ſo what ſay you, ſuppoſe you enliſt?'
"I told him the taſte I had had would ſerve me for a meal, and only begged that I might have what belonged to me, and be permitted to go. He aſked me what I meant? I ſaid they had taken five guineas from me, and ſome ſilver. They all ſwore moſt righteouſly that I lied, and ſaid I muſt be a hardened villain, indeed, to accuſe poor harmleſs fellows of ſuch a crime, when they were only doing the King's duty; yes, ſaid I, and you were doing the King's duty, I ſuppoſe, when you apprehended me for another. Here the officer interpoſed, who, certainly, had not done his duty in not ſuſpending all proceedings againſt me 'till the party had returned, who alone knew Grigſby. He ſaid I might thank my ſtars I had come off ſo well; that it was neceſſary to perſecute the military law with rigour, and that there was not ſo fine a code of ethics in the world as [Page 123] the articles of war;" 'for,' ſaid he, 'if any one ſtrikes his commanding officer, he ſhall be inflicted upon with death, or worſe puniſhment.'
"That, ſaid I is what you want to inflict upon me, for it is worſe than death for a poor innocent fellow to ſtarve in a dungeon, and be ſlogged for a crime he is not guilty of, while his friends are wondering what is become of him." 'Ay!' ſaid he, 'and where now, Mr. Conundrum, are your friends waiting for you?' "I had now got a ſtory by heart, and ſaid, at Briſtol." 'Well, that we ſhall ſee,' ſaid he, 'I ſhall give you over to the civil power; and if Mr. Juſtice is ſatisfied that you are compos, you may go to your friends whenever you will, ſo no animoſity my friend, theſe little broolies will happen, and it is all fortune de queer.'
"Queer enough, thought I. So I was had before the Juſtice, as a ſuſpicious [Page 124] perſon, that could not give any account of himſelf. They firſt ſent me to Bridewell 'till the examining day, where every body that had been robbed, was deſired to attend.
"When the day came, I was examined like an horſe at a fair. One ſaid, 'that if I had been a little ſhorter, he could have almoſt ſworn I was the man that cheated him by dropping a ring one day at market.' Another ſaid, 'he had a good mind to ſwear I had ſtolen his horſe; for though he was fifty miles off at the time, every body told him it was juſt ſuch another ill looking fellow.' One man ſaid, 'he could not exactly ſay who I was, but he recollected, perfectly, that he had often ſeen me with a ſtraw in my ſhoe, at the aſſize hall at Warwick;' and another 'remembered, as if it had been but yeſterday, that I had been arraigned at the Old Baily by the name of Sligo, alias hard favoured Jack.'
[Page 125] "Why all theſe people ſhould be ſo deſirous of my being hanged, who had never done them an injury, I could not imagine; nor, indeed, did I much care. My only fear was that the real murder would come out, and that the wretch, who had committed it, would ſwear my life away. However, it did not, and I was diſcharged, after making out a pretty good ſtory, by ſaying I was a ſailor, and that I belonged to the Brittannia Privateer which the newſpapers informed me was muſtering her compliment of hands, and on board which ſhip I knew your brother was firſt lieutenant.
"It was in vain to ſay any thing about my money, ſo I ſet off without it, and a thought came acroſs me, that as it was Stourbitch fair, I might, by holding horſes, or doing any job that was wanted, pick up a few ſhillings. My only fear was, that in ſuch a public place, I ſhould be known; ſo I put a black patch upon my eye, [Page 126] ſtained my ſkin with wallnut ſhells, and cut my hair cloſe to my head.
"When I got to the fair, I found them all alive; but the firſt thing I took notice of was a company of players, who were very buſy preparing a booth. As I ſtood looking on, one of them aſked me, by the name of Blinky, to lend them a hand; and finding I went readily to work, they gave me ſome bread and cheeſe, and ſome beer, to encourage me. At laſt they found me ſo uſeful, that I was chief cook and pilot with them, and at night, when we were at ſupper, all of us hey fellow well met, ladies and gentlemen, kings, coblers, and harlequins; they ſwore I was ſuch a comical dog, that they would take me in upon a ſhare. Indeed, without vanity, I was as good a one for their purpoſe as any in the company, for I could play upon the fiddle, ſing a ſong, and dance a hornpipe, as you know Mrs. Hannah.
[Page 127] "When they found this, I was no man to be trifled with. Buſineſs was chalked out for me, and the part of Jack in Diſtreſs was advertiſed, with a ſong and a hornpipe, in character, by a real ſailor, who had the misfortune to loſe one of his eyes in the field of battle.
"To have ſeen the ſhifts we were all put to, and our comical diſtreſs, while we prepared for action, you would have laughed at, and pitied us; paper handkerchiefs were made for the ladies, the gentlemens' legs were chalked to make ſtockings, and gilt leather hilts were tacked to wooden ſwords. But the ſcarceſt article was ſhirts. I ſhall never forget the diſtreſs of one of the actors, and how he enjoyed it. He had ſent his beſt ſhirt, he had but another, to be waſhed, and the waſherwoman had returned it by her little girl, who ſaid, 'her mammy could not waſh that ſhirt, for if ſhe did, it was ſo rotten, ſhe ſhould rub it all to pieces,' with all the [Page 128] good humour in the world. 'My ſweet little cherub of the waſh-houſe,' ſaid he, 'tell that empreſs of ſoap ſuds, your mama, if ſhe is afraid of rubbing the ſhirt to pieces, to pin it up againſt the wall and throw a pail of water at it.'
"Indeed, for the little time I was with them, I never ſaw people ſo miſerable, and ſo merry. At laſt the night came when I was to make my appearance. I had got through the ſong a ſecond time, for it was encored, and was in the middle of the hornpipe, when who ſhould I ſee, ſtaring me full in the face, but Joe Taylor, our Bridewell keeper here at Wolverhampton.
"Convinced he was come with a warrant to ſeize me, eſpecially as he muſt have known my voice again, I could not make another ſtep; but ſhuffled, and ſhuffled about, in confuſſion, 'till, at laſt, I darted behind the ſcenes, ran out of the [Page 129] booth, cleared the fair, and was two miles off before I ventured to look round; nor was I then ſatisfied that I was out of danger, for nothing could get it out of my head but that I was ſtill purſued.
"I, nevertheleſs, went a little ſlower, and this convinced me my fears were not groundleſs, for I not only heard footſteps, but, preſently, a voice. Liſtening, however, with more attention, ſomebody called out, in a tone that I knew perfectly well. 'Blinky,' and then, 'what faſter ſtill? Nay, and thou'lt run, I'll trot as well as thee:' and other ſpeeches from plays, in imitation of different actors, by which I, at laſt, found that it was one Charles Walmeſley, a mimic, and fearing no danger from him, I halted till he came.
"He informed me that Joe Taylor had not come for me, but for him; that one of the actors had learnt this from the [Page 130] man who ſold beer at the next booth, and had adviſed him to eſcape. This happening juſt as I ran out of the booth, he followed me as faſt as poſſible, under an idea that I might be making my eſcape from the ſame perſon; for, in my cups, one night, I was fooliſh enough to hint that I was afraid of the Philiſtines, as they called the officers of juſtice.
"WELL, Walmeſley and I—'Nay, but ſtop,' ſaid I, 'Walmeſley! Charles Walmeſley! ſurely this is not the man my brother wants me to marry! and yet you went to ſea together, were caſt away together, and ſaved together; it can be no other perſon.'
"You ſhall know all in good time," ſaid Hewit, "for the matter of that, Walmeſley and I have never been ſeparated ſince that day, 'till I left him upon the coaſt of Suſſex. Well, on we came, [Page 132] but I ſhould tell you, that at the time he made his eſcape, he was going on in the character of a bear, to dance and play upon the fiddle; ſo that when he overtook me, he was completely dreſſed in a very handſome bear ſkin; and having no time to loſe, he ſaid he had brought the fiddle along with him to raiſe the wind, as he called it, if it ſhould be neceſſary, that is to ſay, by pawning it.
"A thought ſtruck me, that we could make the fiddle tum to better account; and I propoſed to Walmeſley, that he ſhould, 'till we got into caſh, ſtill perſonate the bear, and that I would fiddle to his dancing through the different villages, by which means we ſhould, certainly, get undiſcovered to Briſtol, where, I told him, I would introduce him to a man, the moſt likely of all others to make his fortune; meaning your brother, for that mimickry and humour ſuited his taſte exactly.
[Page 133] "He ſnapt at the propoſal, and on we went. My bear was admired by men, women, and children. He tumbled, danced, played at quarter-ſtaff, drank the company's health, and did a thouſand monkey tricks. One day, however, Walmeſley had like to have payed for his frolie. A butcher wanted to have him baited. I ſaid I did not dare bait him, for that at Coventry, where, by the bye, we had never been, he hugged ſo many dogs to death, that the mayor would not ſign my travelling licence, which I pretended, though no ſuch thing can be granted, to have in form, without I gave ſecurity never to bait him again; the mayor very juſtly obſerving, that bear dancing was a funny recreative amuſement, but bear baiting was cruel and not tolerated by act of parliament. 'And he was right,' ſaid a lawyer, 'bear baiting, or baiting bears, is exploded, and nulled, and voided, by anno ſecundUS, liber ſecunDO Guliemus ſecundUM.'
[Page 134] "I ſaid, beſides, that the poor creature, ever ſince they made him drink punch with too much acid in it, at Stourbitch fair, had been a good deal diſordered, and hoped, as he done more than it was in the power of any other bear to do, upon the truth of which I offered to bet a hundred guineas, they would, with their uſual indulgence, excuſe the baiting.
"This, however, did not ſatisfy the butcher, who, with a whiſtle, brought to him a moſt powerful bull dog, that at the hint of, 'to him, my boy,' flew like a tyger at poor Walmeſley. The lawyer told the butcher at his peril to proceed; for that if dog killed bear, an action would lay to recover the value of ſaid bear, and he would undertake to maintain it. My rhetoric proved, however, of more uſe than the lawyer's; for laying on the dog with the bear's pole, I ſent him yelping away.
[Page 135] "The butcher aſked if an action would not lay for that? The lawyer ſaid, 'No; dog ſet upon bear, and the maſter, or owner of dog ſtood by aiding, abetting, and comforting; therefore, maſter, or owner of bear had only acted ſe oſfendendo, or in his own defence; for bear was the ſame as himſelf, ſeeing that a man may defend a domeſtic as if he were naturalibus & bonus fidum, defending himſelf. Now, though dog was a domeſtic too, he was not a domeſtic in the ſame degree of conſanguinity, that is to ſay, uſe, or utility, as ſome call it, as bear; for by bear, bear-warder, by licence from his worſhip, the mayor of Coventry, who was a wiſe and an upright man, and knew how to make extinctions, got his livelihood; now it could not be ſaid, that butcher got his livelihood by dog; he might be ſaid to ſecure his livelihood by dog, but he did not get his livelihood by dog; and, again, as to the value of the bipeds, or animals, he little thought one of them was a biped, by the [Page 136] bye, there was a great diſtinction, bears fleſh was valuable, it made Weſtphalia hams, ſaviloys, and polony ſauſages; indeed, it had been ſaid, that the ſame thing had been done with dogs fleſh; but how had it been done? Not legalibus pactum. It muſt have been an overt act, and, therefore hidden, now ſelling bear's fleſh was a covert act, and therefore open, and after all, there could be no compariſon in the flavor.
'In ſhort,' ſaid the lawyer, 'as that glorious character lord Chatham ſaid, as every man's houſe is his caſtle, his dwarf, his giant, and his bugle horn; as every maſter has a right to protect his domeſtic, or his domeſtic animal, as a bear is a domeſtic animal ſuperior to a dog, becauſe a dog is a domeſtic animal inferior to a bear, action, certainly, would lay againſt maſter of dog, for an aſſault on bear, he ſtanding by, as aforeſaid, aiding, abetting, and comforting; but as he was not ſo great a [Page 137] friend to ſetting people together by the ears, as butcher had ſeemed to be to ſet dogs and bears together by the ears, he ſhould propoſe that a large quantity of punch, in bowl, or bowls, ſhould be provided, to be paid for on delivery by Butcher, and that, in ſaid punch, all animoſity, or querelous contention, ſhould be drowned, liquidated, and waſhed away.'
"Every body having an intereſt in this propoſal, it was unanimouſly agreed to, the lawyer taking to himſelf great praiſe for his able and judicious deciſion; and the butcher not thinking it worth while to enter into any further contention, as he knew he had to make friends with him concerning a little poaching buſineſs, which was to come on at the next adjournment of the Quarter Seſſions. Peace, therefore, being reſtored, I locked Bruin up in the ſtable of the inn, and went to join the company.
[Page 138] "The firſt moment I could get away, under pretence of feeding the bear, I locked myſelf into the ſtable, and had a converſation with Walmeſley. We agreed, as we had plenty of caſh to carry us on to Briſtol, to ſet out as ſoon as poſſible, and have nothing more to do with bear baiting; but determined, firſt of all, to have a little fun at the expence of the butcher, I carried ſome cloaths, that I had bought the day before, into the ſtable, Walmeſley dreſſed himſelf in them, I let him out privately with the bear-ſkin, which he hid in a neighbouring field; and when this was done, I ran to the houſe in the greateſt confuſion, and ſaid ſomebody had ſtolen the bear.
"A hue and cry was now ſet up, but no bear was to be found. The butcher, as I expected, enjoyed this pretended diſtreſs, and the lawyer, as I alſo expected, ſaw, in a minute, that the butcher muſt have [Page 139] been the cauſe of it, and the punch having been put pretty freely about, the altercation grew high. He ſaid it was a ſhame to obſtruct a man in the honeſt perſecution of his avocations; 'honeſt,' ſaid the butcher, 'why will you purtend that a ſtrolling vagabond of a bear-keeper, is for to be compared to a man of property, and a tradeſman, ſuch as I be?'
'Sir, I'd have you to know,' ſaid the lawyer, 'that bear dancing is a tolerable employment, and has been ſanctioned and permitted for centries. Did you never hear of Valentine and Orſon, Bear-gardens, Synods, and Hudibras? That great lawyer ſays, ſpeaking of Synods and Bear-gardens—
"And thus a Synod and a Bear-ward,"Do differ only in a mere word."
'That is to ſay, they are collaterally the ſame, and there is not a pin to chuſe. Now if ſynods, which are a religious invocation, [Page 140] ſanctified, and hyperbolized, by mandates, manifeſtos, and mandamuſes, iſſuing from corpus ecleſiaſticus, or the ſpiritual court; will any body tell me that bair dancing is not a tolerable employment? Clear, clear, cried the company.'
'Tolerable, or not tolerable,' ſaid the butcher, 'I know 'tis a ſhame that a vaga-bond of a fellow ſhould come here and knock my dogs about; damme, I'll lame his bear yet, if I catch him. I wiſh there was a law to keep all bears out of the kingdom. They may well ſay the laws want mending! I know this, that ſince the ladies have uſed bear's greaſe, the mutton fat is all blowed upon, and ſince Weſphaly hams, and theſe things have been all the kick, we don't ſell half ſo much pork as we uſed to do; a damned ſhame that honeſt tradeſmen ſhould be left to pay taxes, and ſtarve, while ſuch fellows as theſe comes about and runs away with all our money; and then, the cruel raſcal, making [Page 141] his bear hug all the dogs to death; if it was ſticking a calf, or a lamb, it would be another gueſs thing; that's allowable and in the way of buſineſs.
"This is all very well," ſaid I, 'gentlemen, but, in the mean time, what am I to do for my bear? I ſtrongly ſuſpect Mr. Butcher, you have had a hand in this buſineſs; and I won't leave the place 'till I am ſatisfied." 'I'll ſatisfy thee with a douſe in the chops preſently,' ſaid the butcher, 'damned if do'ant;' 'touch him at your peril,' ſaid the lawyer, 'how dare you break the peace in my preſence? I'll have action, corum nobis, informationis and idicctmentatis againſt you.' The butcher raved, I laughed, for I could not think of quarrelling with a man I had ſo provoked, when, all of a ſudden, news came that the bear was found.
"This news was brought by Walmeſley himſelf, who now entered with the [Page 142] ſcouting party, that had been ſent after the bear; 'he ſaid, 'he had ſeen him about two miles off in the hands of a butcher, who was alſo driving ſome ſheep. Sir,' ſaid he, addreſſing himſelf to me, 'I thought it was your bear, for I recollect ſeeing him dance at a village I was paſſing through; but, for God's ſake,' added he, 'give me ſomething to eat, 'tis impoſſible to talk about bears when one is ſo curſedly hungry.' Some cold beef was ſet before him, and he went on talking and eating.
'As I was ſaying, gentlemen, the bear uſed to drink the company's health. If you pleaſe I'll imitate him, for I am curſedly dry—deviliſh good; well enquiring of the butcher who he was, and what he was going to do with the bear, he ſaid he belonged to maſter Grim.' 'That's enough,' ſaid the lawyer, 'the act of the ſervant is the act of the maſter. Where were you driving this bear to, Mr. Grim?' 'Why, damme, if you en't all mad,' ſaid [Page 143] the butcher, 'I know nothing about your damned bear.'
'Oh!' ſaid Walmeſley, 'I'll tell you where they were driving him, they were driving him to the pound, where I ſaw poor Bruin ſafe, and even 'there broke off and came away.' 'The lawyer ſwore an action would lay for falſe impriſonment in Banco Regis,' "I ſwore I would inſtantly employ him to bring it; and the butcher ſwore that we and our actions might go to the devil. He owned that his man moſt certainly muſt have been that way driving ſheep, becauſe he had ſent him, but that he knew of no buſineſs he had with the bear, and, therefore, would not ſtand to any thing he had thought proper to do. The lawyer ſaid, 'We ſhould ſee how matters ſtood; if it could be proved that the butcher had not done the thing with malice purpenſe; that if it was an act of the ſervant, ſolus cum ſolo, without the precipitation of his maſter. If bear-ward found [Page 144] bear uninjured, unmutilated, unimpaired; he ſhould adviſe a week's wages of the man to be ſtopt, put down, expended, and laid out in punch for the good of the company. The butcher himſelf thought this but fair, in which he was, of courſe, joined by all the reſt, and we ſet out in a body to releaſe Bruin, all but Walmeſley, who ſaid he had no leiſure to look after bears, for that he muſt be a good many miles off before ſun ſet.
"When we had got about a quarter of a mile, I pretended to have forgot the proper halter for the bear, and ſaid, I ſhould be very ſorry to drive him in any other, for fear he ſhould be galled; for that the poor creature was ſick enough before; and, I dared ſay, he had not been a bit the better for being driven about. They all thought this reaſonable, and promiſed to walk ſlowly on; but how ſlow they went, or how far, I never heard, for I joined Walmeſley, who was waiting for [Page 145] me in a ſield out of their ſight, and we ſcampered acroſs the country as hard as we could drive; 'till, after halting, now and then, for refreſhment, we were, before ſunſet, at leaſt ten miles from the village.
"WE were now ſafe out of danger, and, yet, how it happened I don't know, for if the country people had not been a ſet of ſtupid louts, we ſhould have been twenty times found out; though, I muſt needs ſay, what with the glaſs eyes, a falſe tongue upon wires, and a ſtring that pulled the ears up and down, all which were managed very dexteriouſly, Walmeſley made a deviliſh good bear; and then I took care to keep the people at a diſtance, under a notion that he would bite them, I can't help laughing to think how many fools we made.
[Page 147] "Well, as I ſaid, being out of danger, we ſat ourſelves down to ſupper, and Walmeſley told me all his adventures, and from that moment—but, however, that's no matter; I had better tell you my own ſtory, and let him, if ever he ſhould come to make love to you, tell his.
"Well, being come to Briſtol, I ſoon found out your brother's rendezvous, and Walmeſley and Hewet were entered aboard the Brittannia, at the ſame time. We went to ſea, and though your brother is a dear good ſoul for encouraging every body, yet poor Hewit was entirely loſt, and Walmeſley was all and all. To be ſure he did all he could to make himſelf beloved, and he ſucceeded; and I will ſay this, there is ſomething in your brother ſo taking, and ſo noble, that it is impoſſible to know him and not fight through fire and water for him; and now I'll let you into a ſecret, Mrs Hannah; I had all my life thought that people could not live [Page 148] free without being profligates; but your brother convinced me to the contrary; for though he drinks and ſwears, and loves a pretty girl as well as any fine fellow that ever lived, I don't think there's a biſhop in the kingdom has more goodneſs, no, damme, nor more religion neither."
I ſmiled at this and thought I began to ſee that one rake had made a convert of another. What he uttered of my brother I knew to be truth; and, indeed, ſo does the reader know it. His letter ſufficiently proves he was all heart and could diſguiſe nothing, but expreſſed thoſe ideas that were conſonant to goodneſs and ſuſceptibility juſt as they were conceived; and through life this is the faireſt criterion of ſincerity. No man can ſtudy to be good, it muſt be in his nature; Why then ſtudy to explain goodneſs? Let the ebulition take its courſe; and as nothing is ſo chearful as innocence, let the eyes gliſten [Page 149] with pleaſure till they are dimmed by ſenſibility. A tear, the reſult of a ſmile, is a tribute to humanity; a ſmile, the reſult of a tear, is a ſacrifice to hypocriſy.
"Well," continued Hewit, "you know moſt of what paſt till after the Vigo buſineſs. Walmeſley was ſoon made an officer, and when your brother commanded the Eagle, he was his firſt lieutenant. To be ſure, in the Vigo affair, he did behave well. I ſtood by and ſaw that letter he bid the ſecond lieutenant write to you, and, to ſay the truth, twas I that firſt thought of it.
"Now you ſee I am going to tell you what paſſed after that time. When we had brought home the Eagle ſafe to Briſtol, our next care was to ſee what could be done for Captain Higgins. The owners did not chuſe to have any thing to do with it, for fear of endangering the ſafety of the ſhip, for ſhe certainly was very [Page 150] fairly captured at Vigo; and though they were truly ſenſible of your brother's gallantry and good conduct, they would not let their money ſtand idle; ſo, to make ſure of the thing, they fitted her out, gave a lubberly fellow the command of her, and the next news was, that ſhe was taken by a French frigate and carried into Bourdeaux.
"They now did not chuſe to know any thing more about your brother than if they had never ſeen him; ſo that he might rot in a dungeon and welcome, for any thing they cared. A choice ſet of us went aboard a Portugueſe and ſailed for Liſbon; where, to our great ſatisfaction, we found your brother ſafe and ſound. Walmeſley had left the two Spaniſh hoſtages under the care of the Engliſh Conſul, who had given them their parole, firſt pledging his word of honour to Walmeſley, that they ſhould not have their entire liberty till the Governor of Vigo had releaſed Captain [Page 151] Higgins; which, upon his repreſentation, they did, reſerving a right to demand of the owners of the Eagle, the value of the ſhip. How they will get out of the ſcrape I can't ſay; for my part, I hope they will be fairly trounced, if it be only for ſerving your brother ſuch a raſcally trick.
"Well, now Mrs. Hannah, there is but little more to tell you, but that little is bad enough. We had no buſineſs to be kicking our heels at Liſbon, and ſo we got aboard a Portugueſe to come home; and ſo making the channel, we were prettily knocked about for four days, and, at laſt, ſtranded upon the coaſt of Suſſex.
"You ſee, ſhe ſtruck upon a ſand bank, with the tide at ebb; ſo we did all we could to clear her by the flood; but it would not do, we found ſhe would not float; ſo, at laſt, finding ſhe filled faſt, we took to the boats, with a ſtiff gale from [Page 152] the land, and the devil of a ſurf. We tugged, and tugged; by and bye, we loſt ſight of the other boat, and, I ſuppoſe, ſhe ſunk. You ſee, your brother and I happened to be in different boats, I ſhould have liked to have had a birth with the Captain, even if I had gone down with him, but theſe things can't always be as we wiſh; ſo after we had been at this pretty work, I ſuppoſe, two hours, a ſudden ſquall capſized the boat.
"It happened that I had a clumſy oar in my haud, ſo I laid it acroſs my breaſt, and made it ſerve me for a pair of corks; and by that time I was handſomely tired, I began to find that I could touch ground. This gave me heart, and I trudged luſtily on till I was ſafely landed. So telling them at the next town that my name was John Hewit, and this was my pariſh, they paſſed me here as a vagrant.
[Page 153] 'You are not certain,' ſaid I, 'that the boat my brother was in ſunk? "Not certain," ſaid Hewit, "but I fear it ſunk. To be ſure, as the wind blew ſo ſtrong off the land, they might have been driven to ſea; but that would have been worſe! for how could ſuch a nutſhell live in a rough ſea in the channel, where the wind and tide were quarreling like the bubbling of a pot?"
'And what became of walmeſley?' ſaid I, "God knows," ſaid John, "whether he is alive or dead. Walmeſley and Hewit parted when the boat went down. I will, however, ſay this of him; that whether dead or alive, Walmeſley was a worthy fellow; and, however, he may be my rival, I have a great value for him, and ſo I have often told your brother.
"He has a droll way of doing things, to be ſure, but his heart en't the worſe. [Page 154] If he tells you he has been guttling and drinking away all his money, and that he had great enjoyment in it, he means that he has done ſo by the mouths of others; for the eating and drinking, to his mind, is the feeding thoſe who want a dinner, and his greateſt enjoyment is to relieve a fellow creature in diſtreſs. If ever you ſee him, you'll hear him talk of his menu plaiſirs, and he'll give it a turn, as if it meant youthful irregularity; and faith, in one ſenſe, ſo it is, for there are very few young men who regularly pity misfortune, or receive pleaſure by giving comfort to the afflicted.
"But come Mrs. Hannah," ſaid he, whether your brother be ſaved, or not; "whatever may be gone with Walmeſley; I ſhould be glad if you would conſider me as a friend. I am not the ſame John Hewit I was when I left this place; I have ſmarted for my folly; and I mean now to ſtick to my trade, that I may always have [Page 155] ſomething to fly to, in caſe of neceſſity; and if, after ſome time, you ſhould find me ſober and induſtrious, unleſs you meet with a better huſband; in ſo many words, I ſhould be glad to have you."
I was very much penetrated with this handſome character he had given of his rival, and could not help telling him ſo. He made a ſuitable reply, and we parted at Mr. Smallbrook's door, for he ſaw me home, in very good humour with each other. As, in our way, we were neceſſarily obliged to paſs through Love-lane, I could not refrain from mentioning the circumſtance of Jenny Rhodes, and Suſan Wingrove, and all the conſequences of that buſineſs; this brought up Sourby, and Binns; the firſt of whom, he ſaid, "he was now too well convinced was an infamous wretch; and the latter he was as willing as I was to think well of;" indeed, he concluded with me, that villainy had [Page 156] been played off againſt him, in which, he ſaid, "he ſhould not be ſurprized, if my brother, the lawyer, had ſome concern." In ſhort, he ſaid, "he had yet a very long hiſtory to tell me, of one ſort, or other, but that he ſhould defer it till we become certain whether my brother was alive, or dead, becauſe," ſaid he, "it would come more properly from his mouth than mine."
HAVING retired I began to ruminate on what I had heard. Hewit had told a round and unvarniſhed tale, as Othello ſays, yet there appeared, to me, ſomething myſterious in it. He, as well as Walmeſley, had done his utmoſt to gain my brother's eſteem, and yet Walmeſley ſeemed to have poſſeſſed it all. I very much feared that there were ſomething to come out, if ever I ſhould ſee my brother, that would not tell much to Hewit's credit. One thing was certain, however, that he now [Page 158] ſeemed heartily contrite, and I yet hoped, even though Walmeſley were to return, that I might manage matters ſo as honourably to think of Hewit with my brother's conſent.
As there was a good deal of prize money due to Hewit at Briſtol, his maſter and Mr. Smallbrook adviſed him to go there and enquire after it, in which advice I heartily joined them, in hopes it might be the means of learning what was become of my brother.
He had not been gone but two days, when, as I was copying a portrait of him in enamel, which I had taken before he went, a perſon enquired for me, who ſaid his name was Walmeſley. I was all in a flutter at this news, when, to my aſtoniſhment and ſatisfaction, he entered and delivered me a letter from my brother.
Delighted as I was to hear that my brother [Page 159] lived, and anxious to read his letter, I could not help eying this Walmeſley from head to foot; and, I think, I never conceived ſo hearty an averſon for any body at firſt ſight in my life. He ſeemed, an inſignificant, whiffling coxcomb; but as I am always juſt, and as I knew that my brother would not have had a predelection for any perſon, who was not, in ſome degree, worthy his partiality, I ſuſpended my judgment; and deſiring him to ſit down, read the letter, which contained what follows:
MY DEAR SISTER,
This letter will be handed to you by Charles Walmeſley, who will have enough to tell you till I ſee you myſelf, which, I hope, will be in a day or two, if my crazy timbers will let me proceed, ſor they have been curſedly ſhattered by this laſt ſquall. You muſt know we were all ſtranded on the coaſt of Suſſex; and [Page 160] taking to the boat, we were blown out to ſea, where, by good luck, we were taken up by a mackeral hoy; I call 'em cats, they'll live any how.
Well, after kicking about pretty merrily for three days, we made the land; and, as I generally find ſomebody or other I know, I pick up an old ſhipmate, the commander of a trader, who I ſaved from going to priſon, by retaking him from the French. He is now a pilot, and I have a notion, a bit of a ſmuggler, but that's no buſineſs of mine. He gave us all a hearty welcome, and furniſhed me with quintibles enough to make your port, where I ſhall expect you properly to rig me out, for my wardrobe's gone to Davy Jones's locker. After that, I ſhall go and call thoſe raſcals, at Briſtol, to account; they have uſed me very ill Hannah; but I'll tell you more when I ſee you, in the mean time take good care of Walmeſley, [Page 161] I dare ſay you'll like him, he is a droll dog, does a dancing bear to a nicety, ſo, till I join company, adieu.
Your affectionate brother, THOMAS HIGGINS.
I underſtood, from Walmeſley, that in his way to me, my brother had been taken ill on the road; but impatient to let me know he was living, he had diſpatched his friend with this letter. I aſked a thouſand queſtions, to which I received very ſingular, but not very ſatisfactory anſwers. In ſhort, I found Mr. Walmeſley, though a harmleſs character, a very conceited, ſelf-ſufficient ſort of a gentleman; and though he began to aſſume the lover, and availed himſelf of my brother's promiſes in his favour, I had very little doubt, when we ſhould all come face to face, but John Hewit's pretenſions would appear to have a more ſolid foundation than Walmeſley's.
[Page 162] In the mean time I amuſed myſelf with his excentricities, and plainly ſaw he was the very man, in a convivial moment, to win my brother; and, as Mr. Smallbrook inſiſted on his being in the houſe, I muſt ſay we found him a very entertaining companion. He was full of anecdote and pleaſantry, and anſwered fairly to the character that Hewit had given of him.
The next day after Walmeſley arrived, I wrote to Hewit, to tell him that my brother was alive, and coming to Wolverhampton, and, therefore, he had better return and conſult with him on the means of obtaining what was due to him at Briſtol. I alſo told him, by way of accelerating his journey, that Mr. Walmeſley had brought a letter from my brother, and was at that time ſoliciting my hand and heart. To this letter I received an anſwer, which convinced me he was a good deal picqued. [Page 163] However, he ſaid, he would ſet out the next day, and had no doubt but he ſhould give a good account of the gentleman when he arrived; and that, after all, if my brother perſiſted on my marrying Walmeſley, and I ſhould conſent, it would be his buſineſs to ſubmit with patience.
My ſituation ſeemed now to be a very critical one. I had a lover who very warmly beſieged me, a brother, who I expected every hour to ſecond the pretenſions of that lover, which brother I tenderly loved, and who was trebly welcome from having eſcaped a moſt dreadful fate, and in the mean time was nearly loſing, from a point of falſe delicacy, the man who really poſſeſſed my affections, and who truly gave me his.
In two days my brother arrived, and the next day after, arrived Hewit. My pleaſure at ſeeing my brother, will be [Page 164] eaſier conceived than expreſſed. He informed me of all thoſe particulars which the reader knows relative to the Vigo buſineſs, and ſome others, to which I was a ſtranger myſelf; and, among the reſt, that my brother, the lawyer, and Sourby had been carrying on a nefarious trade, relative to taking up goods and diſcounting bills; that they lived away in a great ſtyle in London, kept their chariots, and mixed in the firſt company; and that their plan was, to prevent detection, by ſacrificing ſome innocent perſon, on whom, by a train of circumſtances, they contrived ſuſpicion ſhould fall to exonerate themſelves. He added, that he had gathered all this information from a clerk of my brother's, who had run away and entered on board a ſhip, for fear of being indicted for perjury, for you know ſaid he, the old ſaying, Hannah, "the ſea and the gallows," hey!
At a proper opportunity I came to a [Page 165] round explanation with my brother upon the ſubject of Walmeſley and Hewit. He liſtened to me with more attention than I expected; and, at laſt, ſaid, he only wiſhed that Walmeſley ſhould have fair play. "Let him," ſaid he, "honeſtly tell his ſtory, and what his pretenſions are to your partiality; and, when he has finiſhed, if it ſhould appear that Hewit has a ſuperior title, in God's name marry Hewit. Hewit is a good fellow to my knowledge."
I ſaid, I was very willing to put it upon that iſſue. Walmeſley's pretenſions were at beſt collateral. A man, who had, in ſo many ways, been eſſentially ſerviceable in my brother's preſervation, certainly, had every claim upon my gratitude; but he had never ſeen me till within a few days, or I him; and, therefore, love was out of the queſtion. He acknowledged the juſtice of my reaſoning, but begged I would hear Walmeſley out, after which [Page 166] he would leave me at full liberty to decide as I ſhould think proper. This, of courſe, I agreed to, and that very day, after dinner, Walmeſley began, in form, to relate his life and adventures.
"YOU have heard," ſaid Walmeſley, "of one Billy Shakeſpear, a nice fellow Billy was, and how he ſaid, ſays he, 'All the the world's a ſtage, and all the men and women in it merely players;' and never was there a truer thing ſaid.
"Why, now I—I ought to know ſomething, for I was born in the dreſſing-room, ſuckled in the flies, educated in the lobby, and brought up in the property-room; and yet, Sir, ſhall the verieſt hind, [Page 168] the ſtupideſt lout, the dulleſt clod, overtop me in my profeſſion; there is ſomething more than natural in this, if philoſophy could find it out.
"So much for exordium. Now for my hiſtory. My father—methinks I ſee my father—you underſtand me, in my mind's eye, for I never ſaw him any where elſe, to my knowledge; but to the purpoſe. My father, that is to ſay, my mother's huſband, who, for a debt of her contracting, had been confined at the time of my birth, a twelvemonth in the Fleet, where, I am well informed, ſhe never paid him a ſingle viſit, was—I love a long parentheſis—ſhaver to the houſe. He was a man, for a few ounces of phlebotomy, the extirpation of a ſtump, the frothing of a lather, or the fancy of a caxen—I ſhall not look upon his like again.
"So much for my reputed father; who my real father was, I could never [Page 169] trace. As I was cradled in the thunder trunk, I have been ſometimes tempted, in imitation of Alexander, to believe I ſprung from Jupiter; but, being more behind the ſcences than Alexander was, and knowing better than he did, that gods, goddeſſes, and heroes, are not only meer, but queer mortals when they are undreſſed, I corrected my towering hopes, and contented myſelf with reducing the matter to the moſt probable conjecture I could form; which was, that the contention lay between Mercury, Bajazet, Caliban, and a ſcene ſhifter.
"But this ſecret, like many others, relative to the origin of great men, women, and children, muſt reſt for ever in oblivion. Whether my mother ever intended to diſcover it, or whether ſhe could have diſcovered it, if ſhe had intended it, I cannot ſay; the myſtery certainly never came out; for having taken a fancy to wire dancing, and embarked for Ireland, [Page 170] in company with the notorious Maddox, and the no leſs notorious The Cibber; ſhe was ſent to tell the fiſhes that I was the queen's ſon Cloten.
"Little Walmeſley, however, finding me apt, brought me up, and treated me as much like a ſon as if I had been ever ſo honeſt madam's iſſue, nor did I ill repay his tender care; for I ſoon went on in proceſſions, held up trains, perſonated devils and cupids; and, at length, arrived at the envied diſtinction of repreſenting the little Duke of York, and being ſmothered in the Tower.
"Were I all my tale to unfold, even from my boyiſh days to the very moment you bid me tell it, you would hear of nothing but battles, breaches, and hair breadth eſcapes; but the battles would be with foils, the breaches would be of articles, and the hair breadth eſcapes would be from the bailiffs. All this to hear, [Page 171] would you, my dear Miſs Hewit, moſt ſeriouſly incline, you would love me for the dangers I had paſt, and I ſhould love you that you did pity them.
"Therefore as brevity is the ſoul of wit, and tediouſneſs its outward limbs, and flouriſhes, I will be brief. I was ſoon noticed in the threatre; nay, not to ſpeak it profanely, I was a bit of a ſavourite in every part of the houſe. I would let puns in the green-room, drink crank in the muſic-room, or hold a candle in the dreſſing-room, with any body of my inches on the boards.
"Theſe ſhining qualities ſoon brought me into great repute with the twenty-ſhilling actors; who were obliged, like other ſubalterns, to live like gentlemen, after deducting three-fourths of their pay to find themſelves in ſtage neceſſaries. There was, however, a collateral conſideration in this buſineſs. Five ſhillings in full weeks, [Page 172] and three and ſixpence in Lent, not being an appointment ſufficiently ſplendid to keep up heroic dignity; they were now and then under the neceſſity of applying to little Walmeſley; who having an infinity of buſineſs in the caxen way, and beſides, having alſo, juſt before my mother's departure, compounded a crim. con. affair with a celebrated actor, who was afraid of his wife, though ſhe, by the way, had about nine gallants, the rogue had become a little Craeſus.
"To him, therefore, they had recource; and he, on the moderate terms of a crown in the pound, would advance, perhaps, a few pieces for a month; to which the rogues would ſeriouſly incline and think there was much kindneſs in the Jew.
"It ſometimes, however, happened, for lack of means, owing to the importunity of ſome waſherwoman, the rapacity of ſome huſſey, or the brutality of ſome [Page 173] landlord, they were not quite ſo punctual in their payments as they ought to have been. Upon theſe occaſions they never failed to entreat my good offices, which were not always adminiſtered without effect; that is to ſay, upon the advance of the premium. Many a reſpite from captivity, have I obtained for caged Bajazets, and dugeoned Luſignans; Samſons have been ſaved from the Philiſtines by my eloquence; nay, like another Theſeus, have I reſcued virgins from the devouring jaws of that minotaur, a bailiff.
"I became now of great uſe to little Walmeſley. I had reading and writing, which, as Dogberry ſays, come by nature, at my fingers' ends; whereas, the Tonſor could only make his mark. This being ſo, as ſo it ſeems to be, he kept his accounts, rather lamely, indeed, in no other way than by marking with a piece of chalk on the inſide of an old ſcrutoire, exactly [Page 174] in the manner of a ſcore at an ale-houſe, the different monies he had advanced to the actors. Thus frequent miſtakes happened, to which I gave a helping hand by, now and then, when he was drunk, and had left his bureau open, rubbing out a round O with a croſs, which ſignified half a crown, and putting the half crown in my pocket for my own proper ſpending.
"If two men ride upon a horſe, one muſt ride behind. The little latherer thinking no more than the man that was going to be hanged, did of his dying day, of the tricks I had played him; which, by the bye, I conſidered as a fair reimburſement of that money I had earned in my profeſſion, after repeated trials of my honeſty, ſuch as leaving ſix penny worth of halfpence upon the chimney piece, which I muſt have been a great fool to have touched, well knowing why it was placed there; he began to let me into all [Page 175] his uſurious myſteries; and, but that I was forbid to tell the ſecrets of my priſon-houſe, I could a tale unfold—
"In ſhort, you will be aſtoniſhed to hear that this muck-worm, beſides notes, bonds, undertakings, and cognovits, had amaſſed together, partly in money, and partly in valuables, eleven hundred pounds. Nay, if I tell you a lie, ſpit in my face, and call me a horſe, I ſay eleven hundred pounds; and then there was ſcarcely a depoſit that did not tell ſome curious hiſtory. Here lay a diamond hoop, that ſome old enamorato had ſtolen from the finger of his cara ſpoſa, as ſhe lay aſleep, to purchaſe the virtue of a theatrical veſtal, who had three huſbands alive and merry. There a pair of paſte buckles, which ſome old love ſtricken devotee had purchaſed with her huſband's caſh, in her way from the Tabernacle, to win an hour's dalliance with her angel of an actor, who had juſt been perſonating a devil; nay, there [Page 176] were more of theſe things than I have thoughts to give them ſcope, or time to tell them in.
"But the moſt curious hiſtory that came to our knowledge was this; One of the bona robas, whoſe huſband winked at her intrigues, had a very elegant ſet of jewels given her by a nobleman. She had beſides, an affair of galantry with a figure dancer, and it was known that ſhe laviſhed large ſums of money on him, which ſhe had received from the ſame quarter. Not that ſhe was ungrateful to her huſband, for he, now and then, ſhared her generoſity too.
"After a time, the huſband being in want of caſh, for money's a good ſoldier and will on, he took an opportunity, when ſhe was theatrically indiſpoſed, and could not ſport her jewels, of carrying them to a jeweller. His requeſt was that the jewels might be imitated, for he that is robbed, [Page 177] not knowing what is ſtolen, let him not know it, he is not robbed at all, told the jeweller, that over and above the expence, he would make him a liberal amends.
"The jeweller being an honeſt man, ay honeſt! for, to be honeſt as the world goes! begged to be excuſed. In ſhort, it came out that the jewels had been imitated at the deſire of the wife, that the figure dancer had received the major part of the money, and that the real diamonds had been repurchaſed by a man of faſhion, and given as a tour de gallantrie, to the lady of the nobleman who had originally given them to the actreſs.
"But were I as tedious as a prince, I could waſte it all upon your worſhip. Well, my papa, the barber, and I ſhaved the people pretty cloſe. There was one thing, to be ſure, I could not bear. It was almoſt always our practice to ſend in a bill and a bailiff. Now, really, that hurt [Page 178] me. To ſee a hero, or a devil, or a ghoſt, after he had ſtrutted, and fretted his hour upon the ſtage, and had ſtuck his fork into a ſmoaking mutton chop, at the Blue-poſts, torne away in ſight of Heaven, Oh it was pityful! 'twas wonderous pityful!
"In ſhort, it was ſo pityful, that I expoſtulated with old Shylock;-and, when he anſwered me with ſome ſanctified ſpeech, told him that the devil could quote ſcripture for his purpoſe. What do you think happened? He gave me ſome little civil hint about kicking me out of the houſe, a ſort of a ſpiritual ſhove; and becauſe I had made free, now and then, with our common ſtock, for no other purpoſe in the world, than for the innocent amuſement of keeping a girl and a gig, he talked of robbery and ſending to Newgate.
"I determined, from that moment, to be up with him; but, ſaid I to myſelf, remember Hermolaus and be huſhed. Falſe [Page 179] face muſt hide what the foul heart doth know. I promiſed to mend my manners, and try, if poſſible, to be as great a raſcal as himſelf. In the mean time, I was like a mole working under ground; I tampered with my conſpirators, met them over a jorum of the righteous, at the very witching time of night; and, when I found them ripe for revolt, I told them that I wore a dagger, and I could wiſh it—
"They underſtood me in a moment, and ſwore to live and die with Bedamer. To deſcend from my ſtilts.—To three of thoſe actors who had been very much fleeced; neat fellows, lads of ſpunk, though they had arrived no farther in their profeſſion than, 'Sir, the coach waits;' or, 'Ma'am your muff and tippet ſtops the way,' Did I broch my intention. I adviſed them to bring actions againſt Walmeſley for uſury, in which caſe they would, each of them, recover three times the money that had been advanced. They [Page 180] were tickled with the propoſal, and promiſed to fulfil the conditions, which were theſe:
"As they could never recover, without my helping hand, and as I muſt give up the little razor ſtropper, if I lent them a helping hand, I inſiſted upon a poſitive agreement, that my name ſhould not be mentioned in the buſineſs, till I ſhould give permiſſion; and that whatever money might be recovered, ſhould be veſted in my hands, for the purpoſe of taking a town, and opening a country theatre, of which theatre I ſhould be ſole and excluſive manager. Oh glorious thought! By Heaven I will indulge it, though but in fancy!
"Mortified as they were at their ill treatment in town, where, they ſaid, ſuch fellows as Garrick and Barry, ran away with all the applauſe, they looked forward with delight to the time when we [Page 181] ſhould be the admiration of the gaping bumkins. One ſaw the 'ſquire's daughter ogle him from the boxes; another was actually conducting a young lady from a boarding ſchool down a ladder of ropes, that like a tackle ſtair to the high top gallant of his joy—In ſhort, they were ſo big with expectation, that we had, in idea, got a wardrobe, ſcenes, decorations, and rings, and things, and fine array; but hold, ſaid I, we count the ſpoil before the field is won.
"Walmeſley ſtill lives, in fraud and uſery reigns,"When he comes down, then ſhall we count our gains."
"THEY ſwore to obey me in every thing, and we ſet our engines to work. The actions were commenced, and as the noſe tweaker had advanced, at different times, twenty-ſeven pounds to one, thirty-three to another, and fifty to the third, the groſs ſum of three hundred and thirty pounds, was expected to come into the common ſtock.
"He laughed at all this, and told me, not ſuſpecting I was in the ſecret, that he would threaten to do 'em up with the manager; [Page 183] and as to maſter Wiggins, the pettifogging attorney, who had brought the actions, he'd ſcare him with the ghoſt of his laſt perjury, 'beſides,' ſaid he, Charley, nothing can be done without thee in the buſineſs, and it would be hard, indeed, if father and ſon could not be true to each other.' So ſaying, he put five guineas into my hand, I anſwered, I ſhould in all my beſt obey him, and he rejoined, that it was a loving and fair reply.
"In the mean time Term came on, and matters had gone as far as a notice of trial. The actors had counteracted every one of his precautions, which he looked upon as the cunning of old Wiggins, who knew all his practices, and how to guard againſt them; whereas, had I not prompted my actors, old Wiggins would have thrown them upon their backs, for he had inwardly chuckled at being employed, expecting, in the end, to ſerve [Page 184] his friend Walmeſley, with whom he had had a quarrel.
"Wiggins neither expected the actors would have been equal to the inſtructions they had given him, nor did Walmeſley think Wiggins would have acted ſo vindictively, if there had not been ſome collateral reaſon. In ſhort, theſe two worthy gentlemen, knew ſo much of each others' tricks, that they were mutually afraid of coming into court; and, therefore, were both determined to have a private interview, which was very eaſily effected, for though they had not ſpoke together for ſeveral months, they often met at ſome alehouſe, or other, near Clifford's, or Serjeant's Inn, where the Jew, my father, often went, either to ſwear to a debt, or to attend as a hired bail.
"Upon comparing notes they began to ſuſpect me, but this conſequence I foreſaw, [Page 185] and was prepared for it, or any other that might follow. They might fret me, but they could not play upon me. The old hair-roaſter gave me to underſtand, by a ſtrange alteration in his manner, what was going forward in his mind. After a great deal of humming, and haing, he aſked, 'if matters ſhould come to a trial, what ſort of evidence I ſhould give?'
"I anſwered the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Why, what the devil, ſaid I, would you have me lay perjury to my ſoul! No; not for Venice. In ſhort, ſaid I, if you aſk me what I think of the matter, you are damned all of one ſide like an ill roaſted egg.
'Well, well; but,' ſaid he, 'you know theſe young fellows; don't you think that matters can be accommodated?' Accommodated, ſaid I, why ay, that's a good word. It comes from accomodo; accommodated [Page 186] is a good word; it is as much as to ſay, that when a man is accommodated, he is—accommodated.
'Pooh, pooh, nonſenſe,' ſaid old pinching irons, 'will you ſerve me in it?' To ſerve myſelf, good couſin; for, look you, when you have ſettled it, I'll claim of you that bracelet, the rings and other of thoſe moveables of which our good couſins, the cozened actreſſes, once ſtood poſſeſſed.
"At laſt, we came to a right underſtanding, and I was to have fifty pounds, if I could ſettle the matter at any price, ſhort of bringing it into court. My award, as arbitrator, was, that maſter barber ſhould refund the original ſums, allow three months intereſt upon them, and pay all coſts; which terms, with great reluctance, were fulfilled; after this I told old pull-tail, that he was queered, bamboozled, [Page 187] and jockeyed, for that I was going with lads fit to ſeize the world, and rule it when 'twas wildeſt.
"Being let into the ſecret, nothing could exceed his fury. He ſaw into the whole plan, and ſwore he would indite us for a conſpiracy. I laughed at his folly, and whiſpered two or three things in his ear that brought him into better temper. He could not ſo far rule himſelf, however, but that he ſwore I ſhould ſtarve. Hang, ſaid I, ſtarve or drown, 'twill be in a better cauſe. At laſt, I told him to make himſelf eaſy as to me; and for him, when the trade of uſury failed, if he behaved himſelf well, I would make him barber to the company.
"Now were our brows bound with victorious wreaths. The newſpapers teemed with advertiſements for young actors, and actreſſes, the manager to be ſeen at the Black Lyon; valet de chambres, and [Page 188] ladies' maids, were applied to for cloaths to furniſh our wardrobe; I coaxed away the colour-grinder to the houſe, who had taken umbrage, becauſe the manager would not permit him to invent and execute a pantomime with his own hands; got hold of a deviliſh good tumbler, a fine fellow, a little too bold, had like to have broken his neck once, by attempting to imitate the Fall of Niagara; got the copies of all the new pieces, by bribing the under-prompter; and now, being every way ſtocked with materials, money, and merit; we daſhed off and took the town of Stock-bridge, in Hampſhire; where, by beat of drum, we proclaimed the play of The Suſpicious Huſband.‘The part of Ranger by
With the Country Dance after the manner of
"Stockbridge was a horrid place; and if it had not been for the officers of two troops of dragoons, who treated the farmers' [Page 189] daughters, and invited us, to mum a little, at their public treats, we ſhould have made a queer thing of it; but what was this to lads of fire like us? Did not the millener's 'prentice, the pretty landlady at the Roſe, and the daughter of farmer Fuſſocks, call me the gallant, gay Lothario? In ſhort, though we left Stock-bridge about fifty pounds poorer than we had come into it, 'twas ſo much pleaſure for ſo much money, care killed a cat, up tail's all, and a fig for the hangman, and ſo we laughed it off.
"After this; Oh! we had ſuch marchings, and counter marchings, from Rumſey to Alton, from Alton to Reading, from Reading to Hungerford, from Hungerford to Landſdown fair; drums beating, trumpets braying, but the curſe of it was, we got poorer and poorer; I did pity an unfortunate Frenchman, who we took as a dancer at Reading.
[Page 190] "The Frenchman was to have a ſhare and a benefit. I explained to him that the ſhare would be no great matter; it might be three and ſixpence, or, perhaps, only fourpence, and three pieces of candle; but that the benefit—'Ah dat is very well, ſaid Monſieur, 'mon benefice! dat is good to have benefice.'
"When the benefit night came, the receipt of the houſe turned out to be ſix pounds, ſeventeen ſhillings. Next morning the Frenchman called upon me to receive the profits of his benefit; I'll ſettle it with you directly, Sir, ſaid I. The expence of the houſe is eight pounds, and the receipt of the houſe, laſt night, was ſix pounds, ſeventeen ſhillings; ſo that, if you will pay me one pound, three ſhillings, the buſineſs will be ſettled. 'Settle! ſettle de devil; you muſt pay me my benefice!' Benefit, why don't I tell you that you muſt pay me one pound [Page 191] three ſhillings! 'Pay you? Cot tam, vere it is then my benefice?' Good God, ſaid I, you don't underſtand. 'I underſtand extremely well—you make your charge a eight pone, you make come ſix pone, ſeventeen ſhellang i de hoſſe, ſo I moſt pay vom pone e tre ſhellang. Fell den, code ſone, vere is my benefice?
"It was in vain that I attempted to convince him, by numberleſs examples, that nothing was ſo common as for performers to loſe money at their benefits. He could not reconcile ſuch a contradiction as that a benefit might be a loſs, and all I could get from him was, 'Sare, you are not honeſt man, you promiſe benefice, I beg you tell me ou eſt que mon benefice.'
"After a good deal of altercation, as I did not like to part with him, I told him he ſhould make his own terms, when [Page 192] he ſaid, 'that ſince benefice, was malafice, he would have two chare, and no benefice.' I told him he might be caught at that, and ſo it turned out, for, at the next town, we ſhared nothing.
"THUS we actors live," continued Walmeſley, "we live! Zounds, 'tis impoſſible to tell how we live. One curſed circumſtance was, that we were always lighting the candle at both ends; always ſpending as much again as we got; ſo that, upon a fair calculation, the more we gained the worſe we were off. Why, Sir, in leſs than a twelvemonth there was not a devil of us but was in debt in five different towns; but ſtill we were as jovial as beggars upon ſtraw; for, except a black eye or ſo, in conſequence of a quarrel about ſome [Page 194] dulcinea, who was conſtant to us all round, I muſt do the company the juſtice to ſay, there never was a ſet of more amiable officers.
"But the fun we took moſt delight in was, what we call bamming; and it muſt be acknowledged, this was my peculiar forte. Whenever we took a town, we were ſure to find ſome green-horn, or other, whom we preſently infected with the ſpouting mania. Theſe ſoft ſirs we uſed to teach a ſong, or a ſpeech; till they have ſo ranted, and ſo bellowed, that you would have thought nature's journeymen had made men, and not made them well, they imitated humanity ſo abominably.
"I made one excellent benefit at Nottingham, and another at Birmingham, by manoeuvres of this kind. At Nottingham I got hold of the mayor's ſon, a precious lank haired bit of a noodle; I told [Page 195] him he was the young youth in the world to repreſent great perſonages; for, ſaid I, ſome are born great, ſome atchieve greatneſs, and others have greatneſs thruſt upon 'em. Icod, Sir, he invited me to drink tea with his mamma. This did the buſineſs. I talked, Oh gods! how I did talk! The mayor was quelling a riot among the ſtocking weavers, ſo, you ſee, the mamma being, at home, not only the mare but the grey mare, it was agreed that Mrs. Mayoreſs ſhould beſpeak King Richard the Third, and that little Zackery ſhould perform the Prince of Wales.
"To clinch the buſineſs, the mayoreſs invited all Nottingham, except the ladies in check aprons, to a hop, and circulated my tickets round the room. I had a glorious houſe, performed Richard myſelf, every thing went off nobly, the young Prince was applauded to the very echo that did applaud again; for, though he had a gait like a dab chick, a voice [Page 196] like an ungreaſed wheel, and a dialect as querulous as three hammers upon an anvil, yet every one there, being ſubject to the ſame infirmities, like the hunched backed man, who thought the camel the moſt beautiful object in exiſtence, found out a freſh perfection in every ſpeech he uttered; and thus he never came out with 'Niow you my Loord,' or the like; but we were ſtunned with the applauſe.
"I muſt give you one inſtance. In the ſcene where the young Prince is ſhocked at the idea of being lodged at the Tower, Treſſel ſays, 'I hope all will be well;' this was my hero's anſwer, 'I do whuope zo too, but coom to the Tiower, zin it mun be zo.'
"Shall I tell you the Birmingham buſineſs? Come I ſee you wiſh to know it. My flat there was a fine thick headed blackſmith, with lungs like a Stentor. I taught him the Early Horn, and made him [Page 197] ſing it ſo loud, that one day he broke a pane of glaſs in the tap-room we frequented, with his cadence. At laſt I coaxed him to ſing it for my benefit; deviliſh warm fellow, put off, by agreement, three hundred tickets.
"When he came on the ſtage, before the band ſtruck up, he had a mind to pitch his voice, ſo he began, 'Ti, too, tum, taw!' 'Damn your ti, too, tum, taw,' cried a man in the gallery. My friend eying the fellow with ineffable diſdain, cried out, 'Why then damn you! Damn me if I ſing any more.' So off he went, and this was all the audience heard of him or the Early Horn.
"But I ſhould have told ye, that long before this I had ceaſed to be a manager, occaſioned, Sir, by jealouſy, that green eyed monſter. To be ſure I did keep all the good parts to myſelf; but what is [Page 198] there that a manager will not attempt? They told me, one day, that as our agreement was when we found it a loſing game, to cut, and part the property; ſo it was now high time to take that ſtep while there was any property to part.
"I expoſtulated, threatened, and entreated, to no purpoſe, my authority was all gone, Othello's occupation was no more. They ſaid it was every one now for himſelf, and God for us all. That they had worked long enough for me, I might now work for myſelf. In ſhort, I ſaw it was all over with me. I knew well enough their power. I certainly had an idle, thoughtleſs way of involving the concern, by way of ſecurity, whenever they would ſupply me with a little looſe caſh for my menu plaiſirs, and thus I had mortgaged over one day, perhaps, a thunder trunk, and a ſhower of rain; another, half a dozen ermine coronation robes, [Page 199] made out of ſlannel, or elſe a collection of worſted wigs; till, in fact, the ſtock was virtually their own.
"But never count the terms; once and a million. All my rethoric was thrown away. I might as well have bid the lamb preach to the pityleſs wolf! They continued firm to their purpoſe; and, finding me determined not to abdicate my throne, beckoned to a gentleman, ſtanding hard by, who, touching me on the ſhoulder, informed me I was his priſoner.
"Is it even ſo? Said I; then I defy you ſtars! Sir, ſaid I to the bailiff, you ſhould be a gentleman; keep off the rabble, that I may entertain my fate with decency. 'Will you,' ſaid one, 'aſk favour of the Senate?' Curſed be your Senate! ſaid I, that Jemmy Twitcher ſhould peach me, I own, ſurprizes me; but 'tis a plain proof that the world is all alike, and that [Page 200] even our gang can no more truſt one another than other people.
"Oh! ſaid I, take example by this ye managers. Let not the liſp, the ſmile, nor the ruſtlings of ſilks betray your poor heart to women; let not your treaſurers accept drafts for you; your wardrobe-keeper run you up with the tradeſmen; borrow not your performers' money, nor mortgage your property above four times over; leſt your men grow inſolent, your women indiſpoſed, leſt, inſtead of your managing the company, the company ſhould manage you; and in the fury of your remorſe, you take away what was not yours to give—'Have you done,' ſaid one; 'Nay,' ſaid another, 'if you have not, to it again, we'll wait your leiſure.'
"My pretty geniuſes finiſhed, by telling me that they had agreed to ſell my quondam property, now made over to [Page 201] them, to the notorious Mr. Linnet, who was in treaty with the mayor of Wincheſter, for that ancient and learned city. That he had promiſed to engage them all on handſome ſhares, and would include me, provided I were inclined to embark in the ſcheme; but that I muſt not expect to perform capital parts, as they had Gibbs, Gawdry, and other actors of that deſcription in the company.
"Cromwell, ſaid I to little Dick Douce, a monſtrous good fellow, you remember him, Hewit, at Stourbitch, I did not think, in all my miſeries, to have ſhed a tear! but lead me in, take an inventory of all I have to the laſt penny, it is the company's.
"To make ſhort of my ſtory; after the accounts had been drawn out, and the expences fairly paid, I found myſelf in the poſſeſſion of the groſs ſum of ſeven pounds, five ſhillings and fourpence, halfpenny, [Page 202] one coat, two ſhirts, a pair of ſtockings, and ſeven wigs. At ſuch a time to ſhut me out! I did regret parting from poor Douce. I aſked him to correſpond with me; 'I can't,' ſaid he; How dye mean can't? You can write letters; 'I don't think I can,' ſaid the poor fellow, 'I have written nothing but orders and promiſory notes for theſe fifteen years.'
"The next freak I took into my head was to be in love. I got an engagement at Stilton, and was fortunate enough to play the principals; Romeo, Old Philpot, and the like. A great brewer's daughter ſent me a billet doux; attended the appointment; ſaw her at the window lamenting her hard fortune to the hard apples and pears in the orchard; ſettled the plan of elopement; ſwore to her beauty, Helen and Hero were but hildings and harlots. Got one of her father's dray horſes; this, Roan, ſaid I, ſhall be my throne! mounted the chay cart; bear [Page 203] me, ſaid I, Bucephalus among the billows! Off we went, bye dad! hey for Gretna Green! Wounds we had a power of croſſes upon the road; no putting Dobbin into a trot; Oh! ſaid I, that I ſhould expect a horſe to run away that never did any thing but walk!
"Shall I go on, or have I ſaid enough? After we had got about three miles in two hours and a half, ſpouting Romeo and Juliet all the way, like two intriguing ducks in a mill-pond, I heard the tread of horſemen; and, preſently, received, my beaver being up, a blow over the pericranium that felled me to the earth. Oh, ſaid I, thou cutteſt my head off with a golden ax, and ſmileſt upon the ſtroke that murders me![Page 204]
"Away they went, bearing off poor Juliet; no tears could move 'em; next morning I was informed that I had better decamp, for the brewer had been with the juſtice to lay his complaint, who was of opinion I might be taken up for horſe ſtealing.
[Page 205] "At this hint, I can't ſay I ſpake; for inſtead of uttering a ſyllable, I ſat off as hard as I could drive. When I came to Wellingborough, I ſaw a croud, and, preſently, found it was occaſioned by a Mountebank, who had juſt aſcended his ſtage. Aſtoniſhed to ſee him without a Merry Andrew, I was informed that poor Pickle had broke his thigh at the laſt town, vaulting the ſlack rope; but that the Doctor had ſent for another famous for mummification, geſticulation, and imitation.
"Well knowing that this was a pretence to bam the multitude; and being perfectly capable of anſwering all the quack ſlang, I called out to make room for me, for that I was come. The Doctor did not know what to make of this at firſt; but being ſatisfied by a flaſh intimation, or two, he welcomed me by the names of Pickle, Drybones, Screwmuſcle, and ſo on. I jumped upon the ſtage; and having [Page 206] dreſſed myſelf in my predeceſſor's jacket, mummed, geſticulated, and imitated to ſuch a degree, that they threw up their ſhillings, for the chance of the ſilver ſpoon, in great abundance. As to the Doctor, he was ſo delighted, that he offered to take me into partnerſhip upon the ſpot.
"I ſtayed with him, however, no longer than 'till his Merry Andrew had recovered, exacting no more than my expences, and a reaſonable preſent, to which he generouſly added, which, he ſaid, might be of ſervice to me, ſeveral receipts to counterfeit patent quack medicines. He alſo recommended me to his friend the manager of a company of comedians at Coventry, who, ſhortly after, took Stourbitch fair, at which place I became acquainted, as I ſuppoſe you have already heard, with, then my friend, now, alas, my rival, John Hewit.
[Page 207] "Well, Miſs Higgins, after we had eſcaped from the Philiſtines, I ſuppoſe you are not a ſtranger to all that happened, from the bear-baiting buſineſs to our being caſt away upon the coaſt of Suſſex. It was upon the coaſt of Suſſex, was it not Captain? You ſee, after Hewit and I had eſcaped in ſafety from the country boors, we determined that the fortune of one ſhould be the fortune of the other; marry, how! tropically. So, you ſee, Mrs. Hannah, I don't know how you can do, unleſs you marry us both.
"But ſtay, where was I? Oh! when Hewit and I parted—'Parted! ſaid I, I underſtood'—"Oh yes," cried Walmeſley, "'tis very eaſily underſtood—Parted! what a ſtupid fellow I muſt be; but we who are true lovers, have ſtrange vagaries, I mean met never to part. Brothers, another Gemini; in ſhort, Hewit became Walmeſley, and Walmeſley became Hewit; for when Hewit went to Briſtol, Walmeſley—no [Page 208] that's not it—Walmeſley went to Briſtol, and Hewit, that is to ſay, Walmeſley, no, Hewit; the Prince found the fiſherman, no, I am wrong, the fiſherman found the Prince, and Hewit, I mean the fiſherman, and then Walmeſley, I would ſay the Prince; no, Hewit, ſtay, I am wrong, Walmeſley—Thus you ſee the Prince, and Hewit, and Walmeſley, and the fiſherman, and, and, and now I think I have made the matter perfectly clear."
2.9. CHAP. IX. IN WHICH THE FOREGOING AENIGMA IS CLEARED UP, AND HANNAH HIGGINS IS MARRIED TO JOHN HEWIT.[Page 209]
HERE my brother and Hewit fell into a hearty fit of laughter at Walmeſley's very curious way of clearing the matter up; and told him he never acted better in his life. 'Well, then if that's the caſe,' ſaid he, 'I ſuppoſe I may go and undreſs—With all my heart, I am glad my part is done ſo ſoon.'
Beginning now to ſee a little into the buſineſs; upon my word, ſaid I, you are a pretty ſet; but don't you think it was [Page 210] rather cruel to amuſe yourſelves at my expence? 'Why, I'll tell you what, Hannah,' ſaid my brother, 'I was determined to be pilot in this buſineſs myſelf. Young girls, in love affairs, you ſee, generally go to ſea without rudder or compaſs. I had a mind, therefore, to ſee how the land lay; and this whimſical intermixture of Walmeſley and Hewit having happened, I thought it a good opportunity of trying whether you were ſailing with a ſquall that might overſet you, or a ſteady breeze likely to bring you into port.'
I thank you, ſaid I, for your affection, though I could have ſpared you the trouble of a trial that has intruded on me many diſagreeable moments; but any thing to convince my brother, that his ſiſter ſhall never prove unworthy of him; and now pray, clear as Mr. Walmeſley has made this hiſtory, I ſhould be glad to have it a little better elucidated.
[Page 211] 'The buſineſs,' ſaid my brother, 'is no more than this: Hewit and Walmeſley finding, or rather fancying, themſelves in danger of being purſued, agreed to aſſume each other's name; ſo that from the moment they parted, Hewit became Walmeſley, and Walmeſley Hewit; and the trick was this: If Hewit ſhould be caught by the name of Walmeſley, he might eaſily prove he was not the man, and ſo of the other.'
"When glory, like a dazzling eagle, ſtood"Perched on my beaver in the grannic flood."
Why, ma'am, as we were riding in latitude ninety-two, gallopping away upon the back of the Iſle of Wight, juſt as the mizen peak was furled to the cat head, your brother, amid-ſhips, running out a [Page 212] flying jib-boom, and I ſtanding abaft the taffarel—
'I wiſh you had been with us,' ſaid my brother, 'with all my ſoul, we ſhould have had ten times more fun than we had; but the fact is, having taken a liking to John Hewit, who I entered aboard by the name of Walmeſley; he generouſly told me every particular of his love for you, and ſaid, he had certainly rendered himſelf very unworthy of you; but that it ſhould be his ſtudy, in future, to merit your good opinion.
'This added to the ſervice he did me, for you know, Hannah, I love a gallant fellow, induced me to promote him; but ſtill continued him under the name of Walmeſley, both to try your heart, and to avoid any unpleaſant explanation with the ſhip's company.'
And pray, ſaid I to Hewit, was your [Page 213] arm in a ſling, Mr. Walmeſley, by reaſon of a wound you received under the Fort of Vigo, when you ſent that letter? 'It certainly was,' ſaid John, 'but if it had not, I ſhould have got ſomebody elſe to have written that expreſs; for, otherwiſe, you would have known my hand writing.
Then, ſaid I, I certainly have been very completely deceived; but there is one thing more: What became of the real Mr. Walmeſley, under the falſe name of Hewit, ever ſince the bear-baiting buſineſs, and how came he to bring that letter, and where did you find him? I am anxious to know all this; for now I have no fear of him as a lover, I am extremely pleaſed with him as an acquaintance.
'Why,' ſaid my brother, 'as I was journeying on to find you here, deviliſh ill to be ſure I was; and among the reſt [Page 214] of my plagues, I had, as Shakeſpear calls it, a raging tooth; this was at Saxmundham, and aſking the landlord whether they had in the neighbourhood an operator that could unſhip it without carrying away any of my upper works, he told me there was one Doctor Hewit in the town, who performed miracles in that way. That he did eyes, cataracts, palates, and hair lips, cut corns, gave ſhocks, fumigated, and ſomentated; that he was the ſon of a ſeventh ſon, that there was not ſuch a dab, within a hundred miles, at a burſten-child, or a hollow tooth; and that his Turlington, and Daffey, had done wonders; but then, added the landlord, he is mighty ſoft in other reſpects; all he gets, the fooliſh man gives away to the poor.
I was ſtruck with the name, and ſtill more with the character, on which, though he has ſaid nothing of it, Hewit uſed very [Page 215] much to enlarge. I recollected, that when he ſeparated from Hewit, he determined to ſet up in this way, in conſequence of having been ſupplied with proper inſtructions by the Quack Doctor, to whom he was Merry Andrew at Wellingborough. Nothing, therefore, could get it out of my head but that it was Walmeſley himſelf. I begged he might be ſent for. Lord we knew one another in two minutes, like a couple of free-maſons. The word, ſaid I, 'Sweet Marjorum,' ſaid the Doctor, 'Paſs,' anſwered I. 'Why now, upon my ſoul,' ſaid he, 'that is very extraordinary, there never was but one man in the world that I ſettled that with.' I know it, ſaid I, a nameſake of yours; his name was John Hewit. He has betrayed you. You remember the circumſtance of ſtealing the horſe at Stilton! Now you ſee that horſe has turned out to be a mare—
"And, ſays Sir John, the ſtatutes all declare,"That man muſt needs be hanged that ſteals a mare."
[Page 216] 'Come, come,' ſaid he, 'you are a good fellow, this will do, landlord, bring ſome punch. How is he? I love him, the fellow faſcinated me, put powder in my drink; I was planet ſtruck. Why, Sir, I had almoſt conſented to face the ſalt ſea and hear the deep mouth cannon, Jove's thunder's counterfeit. Oh!' added he, 'that villainous ſalt petre ſhould be dug from the harmleſs bowels of the earth, that ſo many brave fellows have laid low.
'Well, but ſtay, how is John? I wiſh this damned fellow would come with the punch. Here, landlord! Oh, he is as tedious as a tired horſe! Come, come, we have got it at laſt. If you pleaſe, Sir, we'll drink his health. Here he goes; the ſtupideſt fellow for a head, and the fineſt fellow for a heart in the world; "Here's may ſucceſs attend his plot, and Hannah Higgins be his denonement."
[Page 217] 'Higgins!' continued he, 'What the devil have we got here! Let me twig your buttons—"Succeſs to the Eagle Galley, Thomas Higgins, commander." Have we not Hiren here? He then told me that he had, that morning, ſeen my friend the pilot, who had gone upon a little buſineſs to Saxmundham, from whom he learnt, not only my ſtory, but that Hewit was ſafe, and had been paſſed as a pauper to Wolverhampton, which latter intelligence was news to me.
'Seeing diſguiſe was totally unneceſſary, we fairly unbent; and as I was taken with a violent fever that very night, and unable to proceed, I ſent Walmeſley forward with proper inſtructions. I knew perfectly well that Hewit had not betrayed me, and that the preſence of Walmeſley would properly entangle the plot of our comedy, till I ſhould arrive to manage the denouement, and wind up the cataſtrophe. [Page 218] This is now done, and you have nothing to do, by way of perfecting the reſemblance of a drama, but to give your hand to the hero of the piece.'
'And what am I to do,' ſaid Walmeſley; I ſhould have loſt my ſheep, ſaid I, anſwering him in his own way, if it had not bleated. 'Thy fortune ſhall be my care,' cried my brother; 'and while I have a guinea you ſhall freely command a part of it? 'Why then my golden dream is out,' ſaid Walmeſley; 'and it ſhall be realized,' ſaid my brother, and I wiſh my fortune was ample enough to indulge you in your menu plaiſirs, as you call them.' 'No more of that if thou loveſt me Hall,' anſwered Walmeſley.
Having now the ſanction of my brother's conſent to a marriage with the man I loved, though, I hope, that neither in this inſtance, nor in any other, I have ever [Page 219] loſt ſight of proper feminine delicacy, I will not affect to deny, that I guaranteed my brother's propoſal by giving Hewit my hand freely, and without reſerve.
On the following Sunday we became man and wife. Good Parſon Williams performed the ceremony, my brother gave me away, Miſs Binns and Miſs Williams were the bridemaids, the latter of whom wrote an elegant little poem on the occaſion, by way of epithalamium, which Walmeſley repeated, after dinner, with good emphaſis, and good diſcretion.
Mr. Smallbrook, and Mr. Gregory, were of the party, and poor Mrs. Crow ſuperintended the kitchen. The little children I had taught on a Sunday, were all feaſted; the manufacturers throughout the place, either at my inſtance, or at the inſtance of their employers, who had all a reſpect for me, made a jovial day of it; and, except a ſigh to the memory of [Page 220] Binns, whoſe health we drank after dinner, which both his ſiſter and I accompanied with a tear, I truly believe that no occaſion, be it ever ſo popular, or ſo intereſting, could have diffuſed more general joy among all degrees of perſons, than did, at Wolverhampton, the union of John Hewit and Hannah Higgins.