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.3]
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.
1. HANNAH HEWIT.
BOOK V. THE ADVENTURES OF HANNAH HEWIT FROM HER MIRACULOUS ESCAPE TO THE TIME OF HER ENTERING HER TOMB.
1.1. CHAP. I. HANNAH GETS RID OF ONE TROUBLESOME COMPANION, AND FINDS ANOTHER; SHE IS SHOCKED AT A HORRIBLE DISCOVERY; WHICH, HOWEVER, LEADS TO A PLEASURABLE ONE.
No conception, however, lively, no language, however forcible, no pen, however ingenious, ever yet ſucceeded in deſcribing [Page 2] the loſt, the unhinged ſtate of the human mind, when ſudden and dreadful diſtreſs brings on a temporary ſuſpenſion of the mental faculties; much leſs can the tumultuary throng of broken and incoherent ideas be deſcribed, which ſeem to be precipitated from the overloaded heart to the wandering brain, at the doubtful return of imperfect recollection.
Though I ſhould never forget, we re I to live a thouſand years, the freezing horror, the madening agony, I endured when I encountered the murderous glare of the lioneſs, as her eyes flaſhed fire in the moment of ſpringing at me, yet I cannot think I was utterly ſenſeleſs, except for a very ſhort interval. My ſituation was more like that of a frantic bedlamite in a powerful paroxiſm. I ſcreamed, I fought, I reſiſted; and verily believed when, at the moment reaſon began to dawn, I felt ſomething tug my cloaths, that I was covered with wounds, and at my laſt gaſp.
[Page 3] Judge of my aſtoniſhment, reader, when, as my recollection grew more and more perfect, I found myſelf entirely free from injury, and that it was nothing but the cub that occaſioned the tugging which I deſcribed before. If I was aſtoniſhed at this, how was my wonder turned to delight, when looking wildly round me, I beheld the lioneſs ſtretched on a pointed prominence of the rock beneath me and weltering in gore.
The truth was, that as I fell at the very inſtant ſhe ſprung at me, ſhe could not reſiſt the force of her own impetuoſity; and meeting with nothing to oppoſe the violence of the effort ſhe made to ſeize me, ſhe was precipitated over my head into the abyſs beneath. Myſterious Providence, thought I, that can'ſt ſtrengthen the ſingle hair by which our lives are ſuſpended, to mock the force of the tempeſt, and the ferocity of lions. Oh, what an effuſion of [Page 4] gratitude iſſued from my lips! But not faſt enough to relieve my poor loaded heart; I grew dizzy, every artery throbbed, I thought I ſhould again have fainted. At length a flood of thankful tears calmed me into obedient and paſſive reſignation.
And now the poor cub, that ſeemed delighted at my returning to life, frolicked and played about me like a kitten. I could not help taking pleaſure at its awkward antics, and yet it was a pleaſure mingled with dread. Who knew if I attempted to protect it, when it grew older, and got ſtrength, but my life would be the forfeit? Was compaſſion to a brute a ſenſation to be indulged by me? Had I not, in my own ſpecies, experienced the villany of a falſe friend, the barbarity of an unnatural brother, and even the cruelty of an unkind huſband? And could I expect any thing but treachery and deſtruction from a beaſt of prey? No; I was determined [Page 5] to rid myſelf of every fear by deſtroying the object of my apprehenſions.
As I was abſorbed in this meditation, the poor thing came about me in ſo innocent and harmleſs a manner, that all the world could not have induced me to injure it. I ever held life as ſo ſacred a truſt, though Heaven knows, for the benefit's with which it abounds, it is ſcarcely worth preſerving, that I never wantonly, nor perverſely deſtroyed any thing that had animal exiſtence. What new feelings then was I to adopt that could ſo far make me forget my nature as to kill the thing that flew to me for protection.
Beſides, I argued thus: What the mother did was natural. It was in defence of her young, and the mercy of that gracious Providence, who had deſtroyed her to preſerve me, would be ill requited were I to take the life of an innocent and defenceleſs creature, under a dread of my deſtruction, [Page 6] which no chance could accompliſh without the permiſſion of Providence. The utmoſt, therefore, I could prevail upon myſelf to reſolve on was, to loſe the cub by the way, and truſt to chance for the reſt.
Thus I reflected and rambled, making a ſhort ſtay now and then near ſome plantain tree, where I imperfectly ſatisfied my hunger, or dipping out withn a ſhell ſome water from one of thoſe innumerable rivulets which iſſued from the caſcade, to ſlake my thirſt; and all this during a moſt debilitated ſtate of body, become almoſt paralytic with the ſhocking viciſſitudes that had aſſailed my mind.
I found, however, I had more care upon my hands than for myſelf. The poor cub was no more proof againſt hunger than I; and as it would not leave me, I felt it incumbent on me to procure it ſome food. I maſhed the fruit of the [Page 7] plantain into a ſort of a paſte with water, but he would not touch it. I tried him with berries and other fruit, to no purpoſe. At laſt he ſeemed to entice me to the verge of the lawn on the eaſt ſide, where I perceived a declining path, which led in a ſerpentine direction among various ſhrubs, gradually towards the ſea ſhore.
The farther we went on the more eager the cub ſeemed; and as I made but a ſlow progreſs, and was obliged, out of weakneſs, ſeveral times to ſit down, he could ſcarcely contain his impatience. At length he darted away from me, and preſently returned with ſome ſort of fleſh in his mouth, which he laid down at my feet; then ran away again, and then again retuned with more fleſh, which he began to eat.
A moſt uncommon gloom came over me at this circumſtance. Confuſed conjecture pointed out every thing dreadful, [Page 8] and nothing concluſive. My mind ſeemed involved as if ſhutting out faculty; and under the influence of a horrid gloom that diſtorted idea, and paralyzed reflection, I haſtened to obey an impulfe which I knew would lead me to ſomething dreadful, yet which hurried me on with a force reſiſtleſs.
Arrived near the bottom, where a ſkirting of the rock prevented looſe objects from being waſhed into the ſea, gracious God what a horrid ſight did I behold! Bones, heads, legs, arms, and other fragments of human carcaſſes lay ſcattered upon the ſand. My poor heart ſunk within me. Truly, thought I, did I conjecture that the iſland had been deſpoiled of its inhabitants by wild beaſts; truly, did I anticipate a fate that too certainly awaits me; and, though I have once miraculouſly eſcaped, a fate now inevitable that no ſhelter can evade, no vigilance elude.
Thus I walked about, uttering diſtracted [Page 9] and incoherent ſentences, when I diſcerned that, which had I given myſelf time for reflection, would have conſiderably relieved my mind; the bodies of the poor wretches which had been thus mangled were thoſe I had buried. I knew their cloaths, and I knew the wrappers in which I had encloſed them, and from which they had been torn; and this proves the common obſervation, that lions will not prey upon carcaſes, to be falſe.
I ſoon found the mouth of that hollow into which I had plunged the bodies; and, as I knew I was then ſtanding immediately under the wreck, it was my buſineſs ſeriouſly to take ſuch meaſures as would be moſt likely to lead me to my old habitation.
Sunk as I was in deſpair, never did lightning dart quicker acroſs the atmoſphere, than did this ray of hope acroſs [Page 10] my mind; it made in a moment two important diſcoveries. I found that no injury had been done to the living, and I knew exactly where I was.
Looking about, I obſerved a perforation in the rock, which ſeemed to take a horizontal direction. This I determined to explore, taking at the ſame time, every precaution not to be miſled. When I had ventured, as far as I could judge by meaſuring my ſteps, about three hundred yards, all the way upon riſing ground, the opening took two different roads; one almoſt ſttraight on, and the other to the left. As I thought I diſcerned a glimmer of light at the end of that which led to the left, I purſued it, knowing, that if I diſcovered nothing to my ſatisfaction, I could but on my return take again a direction to the left, and I ſhould then ſatisfy myſelf as to where it might lead me.
When I got to the end of this cavern, [Page 11] I found to my great ſurprize, that it opened upon the lawn, and I began now to ſee that it muſt certainly be contiguous to the plain where I had fixed my abode, and that I had only played about it in my ramblings; I therefore determined to return and purſue the ſtraight-forward track which of courſe I ſhould now find by turning to my left. To be brief, I did ſo, when finding the cavern take two directions again, I providentially purſued that which led to the right; and, in a few minutes, obſerved the glimmer of a lamp, which I knew could proceed from no place but my inner apartment which ſerved me for a kitchen, and which lamp I had ſo conſtructed, that it would not only burn for five days, but mark the hours by the decreaſe of the oil.
1.2. CHAP II. HANNAH, LIKE PANDORA, EXPLORES THE FATAL CHEST, FROM WHICH ISSUES ALL MANNER OF EVILS; SHE, HOWEVER, FINDS HOPE AT THE BOTTOM.[Page 12]
FATIGUED to ſuch a degree as to be almoſt bereſt of all power, I with inconceivable difficulty reached my couch, by the ſide of which, my knees involuntarily obeyed their accuſtomed office, while my mind iſſued from my lips.
After a ſhort time, my prayers and tears having wonderfully relieved me, I began a little to recollect myſelf and conſider [Page 13] what to ſet about. My firſt wiſh was to viſit the wreck, and explore the dreadful ſecret that I had ſo imperfectly diſcovered; but finding my mind unequal to ſo trying a taſk, and knowing beſides that night would come on before I could accompliſh it, I adopted what prudence dictated and determined, by refreſhment and repoſe, to ſtrengthen my faculties until they ſhould be able to ſuſtain all conſequences, before I ſought to know, what I feared would require their united force, to bear up my reſolution againſt what I had to endure.
I inſtantly made a fire and began to prepare my ſupper, but when I went to fetch ſome rice, I found it had been viſited by vermin. I had frequently been plundered by a kind of mungooſe, and another animal like the kangaroo, which I uſed to catch in traps; but, by what I could remark, the creature that had been ſo buſy in my abſence was of a ſmaller [Page 14] kind; I was not long, however, in the dark, for the young lion, who had not ſtirred a moment from my ſide, as I was laying my cloth, ſprung acroſs the cavern, and in a moment returned with a large rat, which he laid at my feet.
Extraordinary occurrences, though of ever ſo trivial a nature, always made upon my mind a deep impreſſion. In my preſent lonely ſituation, my nerves perpetually in a tremulous ſtate, no wonder if this diſpoſition had ſtrengthened. I looked at the creature with pleaſure, and, but for apprehenſion could have careſſed it. I recollected my partiaIity for cats, which ſeemed to have been dictated by ſomething intuitive to inure me to the preſence of a ſpecies of animal, which, though naturally ferocious, can be tamed and domeſticated.
I went a great way into this, I knew not why. The noble nature of the lion, [Page 15] thought I, is almoſt a proverb, and ſo many extraordinary circumſtances have been well authenticated concerning him, that there can be no doubt but he is capable of feeling, of honour, of generoſity, and of gratitude. Why then ſhould we heſitate in cultivating the friendſhip of a lion, when we cultivate the friendſhip of men who we know are incapable of all theſe.
Has any body ever dared to diſpute the fact of the gladiator, whoſe life was ſaved by the intervention of providence, that ſent a lion into the circus, out of whoſe foot the man had plucked a thorn, when he accidentally met him in a foreſt? This was more than noble; I know not if it would diſhonour the expreſſion, to call it godlike.
Hannon, a general of a Carthaginian army, after rendering ſome accidental ſervice to a lion, ſo tamed him, that he [Page 16] followed him to the camp, carried his baggage for him, and became an able and valuable domeſtic. This was the noble nature of a brute. See what upon this occaſion was the mean, the groveling feelings of man. The ſuſpicious Carthaginians, whom Hannon had rendered ſervices of a thouſand times greater magnitude than he had rendered the lion, they, puſilanimouſly fearing that a man who could tame lions, would in the end become a formidable and dangerous enemy, baniſhed him from their country.
The beautiful ſtory of Una in Spencer, and the reverence in which a lion is ſuppoſed to hold the ſofter ſex, next came into my mind. In ſhort I went on in ſuch a train of thinking, and ſo bewildered my imagination on this ſubject, that at length, recollecting on a ſudden, that by the ſize of the animal it muſt have been born not far diſtant from the time of the ſhipwreck, I exclaimed, if I could prevail [Page 17] upon myſelf to believe in the doctrine of Pythagoras, I might be tempted to think that the ſoul of Hewit, when it fled his exiſtence, returned to inhabit this noble beaſt, that ſo he might yet be my protector,
During the time theſe my reflections took place in my mind, I looked at the creature with ſuch complacency that he ſeemed delighted. I encouraged him, therefore, called him Leo, and enticed him to eat, but though he lapped up the water, in which ſome rice and plantain had been boiled, which had a ſoft taſte like milk, he ſeemed to have no reliſh for any thing to eat but animal food; I, therefore, gave him permiſſion to eat the rat, at which he came purring about me greatly pleaſed, and then took it into a corner and devoured it.
I now retired to reſt; not, however, [Page 18] without apprehenſion, but not enough to weigh much upon my mind; for after reviving my confidence by a ſupplication, fatigue lulled me into a moſt profound ſleep.
In the morning I found my lion, who, with cat like watch, as Shakeſpear calls it, had waited for me to awake. I aroſe and began to think what I had to do, and to conſider whether I had reſolution enough to encounter the dreadful taſk of exploring the cheſt. I certainly ſound myſelf greatly reſtored, but I was uncommonly depreſſed. After breakfaſt, however, as ſuſpenſe ſeemed to me to be worſe than the worſt certainty, I reſolved, let the conſequence be what it might, to penetrate the, perhaps, fatal ſecret.
Fatal it was, for on opening the cheſt I diſcovered but too plainly that it belonged to my huſband. Oh the horridly cruel feelings that drenched me at every [Page 19] pore as I examined the contents of it! My letters to him, tenderly written, at different times, little preſents that I had made him on his birth day, on mine, on the different anniverſaries of our marriage, new years' gifts, my own portrait, letters he had intended to ſend me, all collected, no doubt, to ſerve him as a conſolation in my abſence, other letters which I could not then examine, and a variety of articles, all as ſo many piles of unmerciful proofs that he for whom I had encountered ſuch wretchedneſs, ſuch peril, was now no more.
Oh God, cried I, this is dreadful! Was it for this I eſcaped from ſhipwreck, from ſavages, from the machinations of a villain, from famine, from the jaws of the lioneſs? Oh that the ſea had ſwallowed me! That I had been killed and eaten! That I had died in defending my honour! that I had ſtarved! that I had ſatiated the [Page 20] hunger of a monſter! any, any fate rather, Oh infinitely rather, than this! but I have ſtill my remedy in my power, and, ſurely, when the various, the complicate agravations are conſidered, if Fate has allotted any particular miniſter to puniſh ſuicide, my unexampled provocation will avert the impending ſtroke, and admitting the plea of ſtern neceſſity, ſoften crime into virtue, and turn the frown of juſtice into the ſmile of mercy.
Conſider, continued I, conſider, Oh God, my deplorable condition! Let me not live to be a prey to reflection, yet let not madneſs drive me to ſelf ſlaughter; rather, if thou ſhall graciouſly determine that the meaſure of my ſufferings is complete, ſtretch forth thy merciful hand and take a life already loſt to all the purpoſes of animation.
It would touch the ſuſceptible reader to the ſoul, could I find language to picture [Page 21] the forlorn, the fallen, the heart ſick ſituation to which I was reduced. At this moment, at the diſtance of a year and a half, my tears blot out the words as I write them, and how Divine Providence ſoothed my mind into, an abandonment, and afterwards into a repentance of my dreadful determination to deſtroy myſelf, that power alone knows, that has permitted me to ſuſtain and to ſurvive ſo many trials, with no comfort but the hope that, my carreer of miſery at an end, I ſhall, in a better world, meet my huſband never to part again.
It is aſtoniſhing with what avidity the human mind after glutting itſelf with inordinate diſtreſs flies to the other extreme, and deceives itſelf into conſolation. Scarcely had I brought myſelf into a ſtate far from compoſure, but ſomething leſs diſtracted, but I chid my haſty fears that had driven me to grieve for, perhaps, an imaginary evil. The arguments I had held [Page 22] before occurred to me again. It was true I had aſcertained the dreadful fact, but it did not actually follow, though probability ſeemed to lend it a colour, that Hewit was on board at the time the ſhip was loſt. He might, by accident, have been left behind; the ſhip might have been driven from her moorings by the ſtorm and he aſhore, for the two boats I had ſeen could not have held any thing like her complement of hands. Theſe and twenty other deluſive hopes, groſs, abſurd, ignorant, nay, all but impoſſible, did I catch at like ſo many ſtraws, to ſave my poor heart from ſinking.
At laſt I was ſo poſſeſſed with this impulſe that I determined to examine the ſhip's books, and every other document that could poſſibly lead me to the real truth; and, indeed, I was ſtongly inclined to do this from another reaſon, which was, that as we were at war with France when the Groſvenot left India, it was poſſible [Page 23] that Hewit might in ſome kind of way been captured and his property detained, though he might have been ſet free.
All theſe vague and inconcluſive conjectures gave way to conviction upon examining the books; for I not only found that he had been a foremaſtman on board that ſhip, but by a ſtation book belonging to one of the mates, that he had not left her at the time ſhe was labouring in the ſtorm, conſequently he muſt have been ſhipwrecked in her.
Nay, at laſt, I found a ſignal book in his own hand writing, which informed me that he fired the very gun as a ſignal of diſtreſs, that awaked me in the dreadful condition I formerly deſcribed as I lay in the cavern. Nay, heart breaking circumſtance, as there was ſcarcely a memorandum in the whole book that had not ſome tender alluſion, by way of comment, to the violent and unexampled affection he bore [Page 24] me, ſo oppoſite this note did he put up a ſupplication to Heaven, that unworthy as he was of me, through the mediation of thoſe prayers, I might then be putting up for him, and which, Heaven knows, at that very moment I was putting up for him, his impending danger might be averted.
To trouble the reader with the effect this diſappointment had on my mind, would be only going over the ſame ground again. The difference was, that as my grief, in the firſt inſtance, was vented in frantic exclamation, ſo, now, it was ſaddened into ſullen deſpair,
My inveſtigation of this buſineſs was not, however, entirely in vain. I found that the Entrepreneur had ſhipped a lioneſs, big with young, as a preſent for the Queen of France; and by the recollection of the beaſt that fled from me at the time of the ſhipwreck, which, doubtleſs, [Page 25] had buffetted the billows and eſcaped to ſhore, and that it could be no other whoſe fangs I had ſo miraculouſly eſcaped, I had no doubt but that it was the mother of poor Leo, and this relieved my mind from any further apprehenſion that beaſts of prey inhabited the iſland.
This, though a negative comfort, was yet a comfort; and as a man would forget for a moment the conſumption that was waſting him upon being relieved from the tooth ache, ſo the malady that I felt and hoped would conſume me, underwent a tranſient ſuſpenſion upon my receiving this aſſurance that the ſhort life I was fated to linger out would not be tormented with the additional pang of ſo terrible an apprehenſion.
1.3. CHAP III. LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS WHICH ASTONISHED HANNAH HEWIT, AND WILL, NO DOUBT, ASTONISH THE READER.[Page 26]
AFTER an examination of more than five hours of different documents, which now and then contained paſſages too powerful for my feelings, I reſolved to return home, and, ſince nothing could flatter me with a reverſe of my wretched fate, alas now too certain, explore no more at a time than I had reſolution to bear.
This leſſon of prudence I not only ſet myſelf, but performed. If a heart breaking [Page 27] circumſtance overpowered me I took the conſolation of reflecting that Providence permitted it, perhaps to prevent ſomething more ſiniſter. Then I would take a ſhort walk, look at the beauties that ſurrounded me, take ſome trifling refreſhment, pat Leo, and then return, peruſe more miſery, and take more relief.
Thus for ſeveral days I went on. I would kiſs John Hewit's hair, encloſed in a trinket, wiſh myſelf with him, and then ſolemnly vow not to haſten my diſſolution. Then read a fragment of a repentant letter, on which I could plainly perceive he had ſhed tears, then drop a tear on it myſelf, then feel a ſlight relief, then place it near my heart, and make a ſolitary dinner.
Then would I peruſe, in a pocket bible, where our different ages were written in his own hand, the day of our marriage, the ages of our children, the laſt of [Page 28] which memorandums he had blotted out, and afterwards reſtored; then, as in agony, the book was falling from my hand, would accident point me out ſome ſacred ſentence, which, admoniſhing my weakneſs, inſpired me with reſolution.
The particulars which I gathered from thoſe papers connected with a chain of events, relative to this hiſtory, were theſe: My brother, the lawyer, while he lay under ſentence of death in Newgate, informed Hewit, that he and Sourby had connived at all the wretchedneſs he had ſuffered, that in the laſt buſineſs Mrs. Vint, who was a caſt off miſtreſs of Sourby, was an inſtrument. It was ſhe who enflamed the paſſions of Hewit, by every art ſhe could deviſe; and, in particular, [Page 29] by exaggerating every thing relative to the interview with Binns at the play; of bringing proof upon proof, through the medium of engines that were employed, that I had met him repeatedly in private before we went to France.
My brother, the lawyer, however, was very little concerned in this. The whole ſcheme was concerted between Sourby and that diabolical woman, of whom, though I did not entirely approve, I had the weakneſs to entertain a good opinion, which, after all, is not wonderful, for I was tired out at laſt; and, except ſome material concern of my own obliged me to be on my guard, I choſe to ſilence the dictates of my own ſagacity rather than be perpetually ſuſpicious.
Theſe two friends. though they hated each other, joined hand and heart in this infernal plot, his point to gain me, her's to gain Hewit. Our ſudden departure for [Page 30] France delayed their meaſures for a time, our return renewed them. The niceſt hints were thrown out, the moſt ſubtle arts employed, even my innocent child was an inſtrument of their infernal infamy, and the reader knows they ſo far ſucceeded as to drive a huſband with a broken heart from her arms, whom, even while he thought her an adultreſs, he loved dearer than the whole world.
When Hewit left me it was his firm determination to go to India, and for that purpoſe he was, as he wrote, under weigh in the Downs in the Vanſitart; and, to ſay the truth, this was a maſter ſtroke of Sourby, all whoſe pleaſures were nothing unleſs the fruit of treachery, for as he hated Mrs. Vint, he wiſhed to deprive her of Hewit, that he might laugh at her, while he had me completely in his power.
But the lady who, in art, was at leaſt a match for the gentleman, choſe to expoſtulate [Page 31] with him upon this; and vowed ſhe would inſtantly acquaint me with every thing and ſo diſconcert all his ſcheme, if he did not cauſe Hewit to be arreſted when the ſhip ſhould arrive at Portſmouth, that ſhe, by ſtepping in and relieving him, might make ſuch merit of her friendſhip as ſhould induce him to be grateful.
This was accordingly done. Hewit was arreſted at Portſmouth, and detained till the ſhip had ſailed, and now good Mrs. Vint choſe very opportunely to happen to be near at hand, and offered either to pay the money or get bail for him. The firſt offer he did not choſe to accept, for, indeed, he did not owe the money, being arreſted upon a perjury. the other, however, with ſome heſitation he did accept, and came to town; but, finding at length, too plainly what return ſhe expected for all this friendſhip, he not only revolted at the conditions, but began to ſee a motive [Page 32] for believing that I might have been wronged.
In this ſituation he fluctuated, and actually made ſeveral attempts to find me; till, at length, when he was on the point of ſurrendering himſelf to priſon in exoneration of his bail, to get rid of the obligation, my brother, the lawyer, ſent for him, as I mentioned before, acquainted him with the whole buſineſs from firſt to laſt, and taught him how to laugh at the action, which was a fraud.
During all this time, by unfortunately taking too much precaution, I miſſed of my huſband, and he of me; nay, the circumſtance is a kind of miracle, for among the documents in the fatal cheſt, I found a duplicate of the very newſpaper in which I had, as the reader remembers, read an account of my brother's being condemned, and which contained, though probably [Page 33] from the ſhock of ſuch dreadful news, I I overlooked it, the following advertiſement.
IF Hannah Hewit, wife of John Hewit, who with the moſt unexampled cruelty left her to wretchedneſs and diſtreſs, without the ſmalleſt provocation, but inſtigated by calumny and treachery, will make known to her miſerable and diſconſolate huſband the place of her abode, ſhe ſhall be ſoon convinced that nothing but a train of the moſt ſubtle and diabolical art could have been the cauſe of his unpardonable conduct, and that it ſhall be the buſineſs of his life, by tenderneſs and contrition, to merit her forgiveneſs. A line addreſſed to J. H. Salopian coffee-houſe, will be remembered with the trueſt gratitude.
Searching further I found the trials of my brother the lawyer, and Sourby at length, in which every nerve was evidently [Page 34] ſtrained, by the whole gang, to ſave them. An alibi was ſet up, ſwearers on their part came to invalidate the evidence for the crown. Mrs Vint, who was taken up as an accomplice, turned king's evidence to have her full revenge on Sourby; and being ſeverely croſs examined by the counſel, grew ſo exaſperated that ſhe threw a candleſtick at his head, for the trial laſted from nine o'clock one morning till three the next, for which ſhe was committed for a contempt of court. In ſhort, though I at the time heard not a ſyllable of it, nor was Mr. Morris acquainted with it, who plodding on minded no buſineſs but his own, it was evident the town muſt have rung of it.
Early in the trial it went hard with my brother; and, indeed, ſuch a catalogue of black deeds came out againſt him, that the jury very ſoon made up their minds. This was not exactly the caſe in relation to Sourby, to whoſe ſuperior cunning after [Page 35] all my brother had been the dupe. Points of law were artfully thrown in the way of conviction, perſons of diſtinction, particularly a lord, appeared to give him the character of a gentleman, and a man of probity and honour; and though the bench, and, indeed the jury, conſidered him as the greater villain of the two, yet his crime was ſo warily committed, and his defence ſo artfully undertaken, that there was no bringing home to him the crime of forgery with intent to defraud.
Every power, however, in the breaſt of the judges, was ſtretched to puniſh Sourby, and his ſentence was to be tranſported to the coaſt of Africa for life. Nor did they ſpare, in the paſſing this ſentence, to mark his attrocity, nay, thoſe faſhionable gentlemen, who appeared to gloſs over ſo infamous a character, were ſeverely glanced at; and greatly to the honour of the bench was this conduct. The [Page 36] poor wretch, who breaks a baker's window to ſteal a loaf, that a ſtarving family may ſatisfy the cravings of hunger, muſt be hanged; nor will a ſingle creature appear in his behalf, nor a counſel plead his cauſe, for he is poor. The faſhionable villain, whoſe ſtudy is domeſtic ruin, ſhall have the firſt legal abilities to ſupport his cauſe, and perſons of the firſt diſtinction to give him a fair character, becauſe he is rich.
I would aſk, does an advocate think he ſupports the honour of the bar by receiving the brief and fee of a client whoſe infamous character he, in common with all the world, is acquainted with? Does a lord believe he has not uttered virtual perjury when he has given a man the character of honeſt and honourable, whom he knows has ſpent many, many thouſands, without ever having received a ſingle ſhilling in his life that he has either earned or inherited.
[Page 37] To crown this buſineſs, I cannot refrain from mentioning a letter of Mrs. Vint to Sourby in anſwer to one, where he upbraids her for becoming king's evidence. She moſt triumphantly glories in the proſpect ſhe has of ſeeing him hanged; ſhe ridicules him for one, who in the progreſs of his nefarious profeſſion, had acted like an idiot and a bungler; upbraids him for not leaving Hewit to her management; telling him that his malignant mind could never bear that any perſon ſhould receive a ſatisfaction but himſelf. She laughs at him for the folly of having ſo often miſſed the accompliſhment of his deſigns upon me. She anticipates all the mortification and all the ignominy he is to ſuffer. She tries him, caſts him, condemns him, puts the halter round his neck, draws the cap over his eyes, and at laſt, with a moſt ſolemn aſſeveration, that the declaration comes from the bottom of her ſoul, ſhe vows ſhe would give a year of her own life to have the pleaſure of aſſiſting the [Page 38] hangman. Then to finiſh all ſhe adds, 'But what was to be expected of one whoſe father, an Iriſh White Boy, was called murdering Murdoch, and whoſe mother left the more creditable purlieus of Billingſgate to ſupport an infamous life by betraying innocence to proſtitution.
Well, ſaid I, upon reading this, did Heaven direct its vengeance. It could no longer wink at ſuch complicate, ſuch monſtrous villainy, but ſent that ſhark, at once its miniſter of juſtice to puniſh him, and of mercy to protect me.
1.4. CHAP. IV. LEO BECOMES VERY USFEUL; HANNAH TURNS BUILDER, AND ERECTS THE SHELL OF A VERY ELEGANT STRUCTURE.[Page 39]
MANY other documents did I diſcover, which, however, are of no further moment to the reader, than as ſerving for a corroboration of all I have related; and now, having let two months elapſe with no other employ than feaſting my mind with a food it devoured and nauſeated, I became collected enough to look round me and ſee in earneſt what plan I had beſt adopt.
[Page 40] Certainty is ſo preferable to ſuſpenſe, that I now began thus to reaſon with myſelf: Suppoſe I had never diſcovered the fatal cheſt, how would it have mended my ſituation? I ſhould have had reaſon to believe that poor Hewit was yet alive. What then, as to him, but wretchedneſs of mind, mixed with the pangs of compunction? What, as to me, but ſolitarineſs and uncertainty, while he was wandering through the world in ſearch of her he would never find.
But to be ſo near him and yet loſe him! That pang was ſevere, but it was inevitable. The hand of Fate was in it, we were born to ſeparate never to meet again; and I was in a better ſituation to taſte the miſery, bitter as it was, where I could ſooth my own ſorrows by the ſweet recollection that I had not deſerved them, than in a vain, idle world, where the trivial and unfeeling would have ridiculed a [Page 41] pious duty to which their pitiable and trifling minds were inſenſible.
On the the other hand, for ſuch a ſituation I was not unmindful how many comforts, as far as I was capable of comfort, I poſſeſſed; in a deſolate iſland where one would think I ſhould find nothing but danger and famine, I was ſafe and in the midſt of plenty. The riches of the eaſt courted my acceptance, and my faithful lion ſecured me from every peril.
My poor Leo who, moſt fortunately for me, became my protector! for I ſoon began to diſcover, though I had been pretty ſecure from annoyance before I emptied the ſhip of her proviſions, that having now ſuch a magazine I ſhould ſoon have been overrun by depredators. As to the rats which I at firſt wondered at, for they were European rats, I found upon recollection, they muſt have come from the ſhip, and, being few in number, [Page 42] might ſoon be diſperſed, but creatures now came about me of ſeveral deſcriptions; nay, the ſmaller ſort of the monkeys at laſt ſcented my ſtore.
Leo, however, ſoon rooted them all; and, in a fortnight, I was ptetty well convinced I ſhould have no further trouble. At firſt, I own, I was very much alarmed, leſt his preying upon animal food, might one day or other make him forget his duty; but theſe apprehenſions ſoon ceaſed. I treated him exactly as I would a favourite cat, made palatable meſſes for him, and gave him no animal food but what I previouſly dreſſed, which no doubt ſoftened his natural ferocity, for no lamb ever was ſo gentle, no ſpaniel ſo obedient.
One circumſtance very probably contributed to the attention and fidelity I received from Leo. After I had had him about a fortnight, he purſued a kind of racoon, which turned round and defending itſelf, [Page 43] Leo ſoon conquered him; but, exactly as I have known a rat turn in deſpair againſt a large dog, ſo this naſty animal, by way of a deſperate effort, flew at Leo's eyes, and faſtened its talon ſo deep into one of them, that I had great fear he would have loſt the ſight of it. I turned occuliſt upon this occaſion; and, by proper applications, made a perfect cure of him in the courſe of ſomething more than three weeks, and this the reader will readily grant, inſured me his gratitude.
Under all theſe conſiderations, having balanced the good and the bad, having ſeen the folly of deſpair, the impoſſibility of radical relief, the certainty of as much comfort as ſuch a ſituation would admit, I fairly looked my fortune full in the face, and plainly ſaw, all things conſidered, that miſerable as I was, there were thouſands in the world infinitely worſe off.
I had now been on this deſolate iſland [Page 44] exactly a year; and, having weathered the firſt rainy ſeaſon, and being not yet forty, there was little probability but I might ſee many more days paſs over my head than would be welcome to me. In order to beguile the time, therefore, as much as poſſible, I was determined to go upon ſome large plan, that I might fully employ my mind, and give free ſcope for my ingenuity.
Having made this my object of contemplation for many days, I at at laſt digeſted every thing. Firſt of all, I was determined to change my place of abode, for I had no doubt but living within the rock had been in a great meaſure the cauſe of the different illneſſes I had been afflicted with, beſides it was dreary and had a tendency rather to inſpire, than diſpel gloom. I, therefore, reſolved to erect a proper building, calculated for pleaſure and convenience, in a ſituation on the lawn which was ſufficiently ſhaded from [Page 45] the ſouth ſun, and ſheltered from the north wind, with a large expanſion of verdure that terminated, before me, with the promontary that I have already deſcribed to extend like a terrace and over look the ſea; on the right, with the caſcade, and on the left, with thoſe majeſtic trees, tier upon tier, that made a large ſegment of that natural amphitheatre into which the whole was ſo beautifully formed.
I had a great deal to think of. A ſlight building would have been blown down by the firſt hurricane, or waſhed away by the rain; and though I had a variety of materials, it did not appear that they would ſerve to erect any edifice proof againſt ſuch accidents. I had an idea of planting trees and interlacing ſpars, junk, and other things, ſo as in time to make a firm wall, its foundation fairly rooted in the earth; but this would require time to bring it to perfection, and I wanted a [Page 46] place to reſide in immediately, beſides, there would be no ingenuity in it.
I muſt have a place, thought I, in which ſtrength ſhall vie with ſymetry; which ſhall evince taſte, elegance, a knowledge of proportion; that ſhall at once brave the fury of the ſtorm, ſtem the courſe of the inundation, and yet be handſome and ornamental.
I reſolved to build a wall of an oval form. My roof I was determined ſhould be flat, with a low dome in the center; by this means I knew I ſhould oppoſe ſuch a body of ſtrength and roundneſs to the weather as would ſo completely ſhelter me, that the wind and rain could find no lodgment from any quarter, and then I ſhould be perfectly ſecure from all external apprehenſion.
This ſhell once completed, I planned [Page 47] to divide it within into a veſtibule, a ſaloon, a ſtorehouſe, a kitchen, a chapel, and a dormitory; which ſeveral partitions would ſerve to ſtrengthen it ſtill more, and give me opportunity, with perfect convenience to follow all my occupations, but I ſhall firſt deſcribe how I managed to erect the ſhell,
I could have caſt the whole wall in moulds in the nature of London Wall, or any other walls ſurrounding great cities, but I choſe rather to build it with brick and mortar. My brick I formed from that earth which lay about in plenty, and which I have before deſcribed as bearing a ſtrong reſemblance to the petunſe, with which, with the aſſiſtance of the kaolin, they in China make porcelaine. The kaolin admitting only of a ſemivitrification, and the petunſe being capable of completely vitrifying. Theſe bricks, I think, I formed upon a better principle [Page 48] than thoſe which are made in England, and this I ſhall particularly deſcribe, as, perhaps, it may induce an imitation of my plan; and ill as the world deſerves at my hands, I am not ſo churliſh as to, withhold any thing that can be of uſe to my fellow creatures, greatly as they have profited, though I have never done ſo by my ingenuity.
As to mortar, I had noticed a part of the rock, indeed many parts of it, that had been fairly ſlaked at the commencement of the rainy reaſon. This was nothing more than lime rendered quick by the heat of the ſun, whoſe power, the rock containing a quantity of calcareous gas, had opened the pores and expelled it by calcination, exactly as the ſame operation is performed by fire.
I, therefore, got together a quantity of theſe lime ſtones, thus almoſt ready burnt [Page 49] to my hands; as to the other ingredient, ſand, there could be no difficulty of courſe in finding that; and, with theſe materials, having firſt made me a trowel, a level, and every neceſſary tool for my purpoſe, I turned bricklayer, and built me an oval brick wall, ſtrengthened, occaſionally, with bond timber, fifty-four feet by thirty-ſix, and thirteen feet high from the ſurface of the earth, allowing two feet more for the foundation.
Before I could form my roof, it was neceſſary I ſhould mark out my interior plan. I deſcribed in the center, a circle of eighteen feet diameter, I then formed it into an octagon, which I intended to call my ſaloon, ſo that there were eighteen feet left, either way towards the ends, and nine feet towards the ſides. The ſpace for my door was towards the ſouth, and the ſpace between that and the ſaloon formed a veſtibule. On the other ſide, [Page 50] behind the ſaloon, I had a ſpace exactly the ſize of the veſtibule, which I intended to make into a dormitory; and now having drawn theſe lines, there remained towards each end a ſpace ſomething in the form of the letter D. One of theſe, that towards the weſt, I ſeparated exactly in the middle, one part to ſerve for a kitchen, the other for a ſtore-room, and the remaining D, I intended to uſe as a chapel, the altar being at the end, and ſtanding north and ſouth.
At the point of every angle given me by theſe forms, I placed an upright, eleven feet high. I next formed my roof to dovetail into the ends of theſe uprights, and intermixed it with ſmaller quartering; and now I had got the complete ſkeleton of my building. My next buſineſs was to raiſe a dome from the octagon in the center, which I did by forming eight pieces of baſket work into gores, leaving four appertures for a ſkylight. Theſe being placed [Page 51] in their proper ſituations, and drawn to a point, I laced them together, firſt with oziers, and then afterwards with ſmall cordage, after this I cut gores of the ſame ſize out of ſail-cloth; and having ſewed them ſtrongly together, they took the form of a cap for the baſketing, ſo that the whole was now a complete dome.
With the flat part of the roof I had very little trouble, for I firſt nailed ſail-cloth over it, tarred, and afterwards copper; and now being covered in, I had nothing to do but to encloſe my apartments, and to decorate them.
I began with my dormitory, which I encloſed every where with ſail-cloth, and hung afterwards with chintz, next I encloſed my kichen with painted ſail-cloth only, and furniſhed it with utenſils made out of the ſhip's copper; after this I fitted up my ſtore-room, in the ſame manner, and this was [Page 52] all I was able to do, and to houſe all my treaſure, before the arrival of the birds, a ſecond time, gave me notice that I muſt make every thing wind and water tight againſt the approaching rainy ſeaſon.
The reader will recollect that my wall was thirteen feet high, and that my ceiling was no more than eleven, ſo that the flat part of the roof was not ſo high by two feet as the wall, which formed a parapet round it. In order, therefore, to divert the rain, I had at given diſtances, left perforations in the building of the wall like the ſcuppers of a ſhip, which were ſure to anſwer every purpoſe.
The foundation of the building no weather could injure. I had, therefore, nothing to do but to look to the windows: of theſe there were two that looked into the veſtibule, two into the kitchen, two into the ſtore-room, one into my dormitory, and four into the chapel, beſides four [Page 53] others which were framed into the dome to ſerve as a ſkylight for the octagons.
Having found ſeveral of the cabin windows pretty ſound, which were, of courſe, unſhipped early in the ſtorm, to make room for the dead lights, I reſolved to uſe them as far as they would go, knowing that the ſame dead lights, in the ſame extremity, would again ſerve to replace them. As to the ſkylight, I was not able there to uſe glaſs at all, I, therefore, ſtretched fine calico acroſs the appertures on the inſide, having firſt given it three or four complete coats of gum, ſo as to render it properly tranſparent.
I had now my kitchen, my ſtore-room, and my dormitory entirely completed and furniſhed. I determined, therefore, to employ the ſhort time that remained before the rainy ſeaſon, in getting eggs, catching young birds, and laying in ſuch [Page 54] ſtores as might ſerve to vary my food and eke it out the longer.
I had my annoyance, the monkies to encounter as before, but, indeed, I had ſeen a great deal more of them ſince I had changed my ſituation from the plain to the lawn, on account of the cocoa nuts, which they ſeemed very fond of, and as they threw them with force upon the rocks to break them, I had nothing to do at any time but to watch and, protected by Leo, to help myſelf whenever I thought proper.
1.5. CHAP. V. THE BUILDING GETS INTO A VERY FORWARD STATE, DURING ITS PROGRESS THE READER WILL HAVE REASON TO ADMIRE THE PERSEVERANCE AND INGENUITY OF HANNAH HEWIT.[Page 55]
THE birds were now gone, and the rainy ſeaſon began again to ſet in, I therefore reſolved to get ready the inſide of my building. I had paved my ſtore-room and kitchen with large grey bricks, or rather tiles, as thoſe were places of common uſe; but having in my reſearches found earth of a variety of colours, that would mould into any form, I reſolved to floor the reſt [Page 56] of the apartments variouſly, according to the uſes to which they were to be appropriated.
My dormitory I raiſed upon quartering and laid down in it a regular flooring of wood, for I conſidered that ſleeping warm and comfortable would be greatly conducive to the preſervation of my health. Over this I laid ſail-cloth, and, again over that coarſe chintz; ſo that it formed altogether a beautiful carpet. My bed furniture was made of a fine muſlin ſpread over a bedſtead in the form of a canopy, my bed was down, and my coverlid a clear muſlin, worked in ſilks with roſes and violets, and extended over a rich ſtraw-coloured taffeta. My toilette was compoſed of a ſprigged muſlin, the colours lilac and green, which I ſtretched over a pink taffeta, and the ſides of the room, as I mentioned before, being hung with a fine chintz, it formed upon the [Page 57] whole, an elegant and comfortable bed chamber.
I floored the veſtibule alternately with black and white ſquare tiles; and, having taken care properly to vein them in the moulding, it had all the effect of marble, I then hung it with ſail-cloth, as I had done the kitchen and ſtore room, and over that paſted India paper.
My ſaloon, which I meant to appropriate to purpoſes of amuſement, I reſolved to decorate as neatly as poſſible. I therefore formed a fancy floor, ſomething like moſaic work, lined the dome firſt with ſail-cloth, and then India paper cut into fanciful forms, and, afterwards, painted the ſides a pearl colour; which, as I intended to decorate it with pictures, I thought would have a ſtill and harmonious effect.
[Page 58] My chapel being an object of more attentive conſideration than my other apartments, I reſolved to lay it out in a manner proper to inſpire devotion. The floor was moſaic, but of a grander and more ſtriking kind than that of my ſaloon, the ſides, formed of ſail-cloth, I diſpoſed into compartments with an intention in time to fill them with paintings, the ſubjects taken from ſcripture, and between them appeared niches holding urns, on which I meant to place inſcriptions, each ſacred to the memory of ſome friend, or deſcriptive of ſome event wherein the mercy of Providence had manifeſted itſelf in my favour.
At the back I erected a neat altar, and on the table laid the bible I had found in the fatal cheſt, behind which I placed two ſkulls and the bones of four arms inteſected as cloſely as poffible as a memento mori. Reader, gueſs whoſe ſkulls and [Page 59] whoſe bones theſe were! whoſe could they be, to revive a wiſh that I had experienced a ſimilar fate, but thoſe of the huſband and wife whom I had found embracing each other, and embraced by death.
I did not inform the reader that a few days after I regained the cavern, I took a whole morning to inter the mangled remains of thoſe poor wretches that the lioneſs had ſcattered upon the ſand; at which time having found that unhappy couple in a ſtate leſs mutilated than the reſt, I reſerved theſe ſad relicts to ſerve for the ſolemn uſe I had now put them to.
All this work, without any of the ornamental part, performed a little at a time, took me the whole of the rainy ſeaſon, which ſeemed to be ſhorter and leſs violent than the laſt. During its [Page 60] continuance, though I was, now and then, indiſpoſed and had a kind of aguiſh fever, I cannot ſay I had any ſerious illneſs; greatly owing, no doubt, to the comfortable manner in which I was houſed, and alſo probably to my keeping my mind in continual occupation.
Leſt it ſhould appear extraordinary that in nine months I ſhould have brought a building of ſuch magnitude to this ſtate of forwardneſs, with no artificer in any one of the branches but myſelf, I will ſhew that I found all I did eaſily practicable.
It muſt, firſt of all, be given me that I was perfectly miſtreſs of every myſtery in building; which, after what the reader has known of me, will, I think, be very readily admitted. As to all the materials, except the brick and mortar, I was furniſhed from the wreck with three times as much as I wanted. As to wood work, I [Page 61] had yards, ſpars, ſprits, booms, handſpecs, marlinſpikes, and many other reſources; and if I wanted any thing to bend into particular forms, canes and other acquatic plants in prodigious variety, grew every where around me,
The ſhip's ropes were of very particular uſe to me, for with them I interlaced and bound every thing together, particularly about the roof, ſo as to add conſiderably to its ſtrength, and then for iron work, I could not poſſibly want that where there were ſuch a plenty of ring bolts, rag bolts, fender bolts, boot hooks, fiſh hooks, foot hooks, can hooks, and cat hooks.
The difficulty, if there were any, ſhould ſeem to proceed from my inability to manage objects of ſuch a maſſy and ponderous kind; but this objection will be completely done away when it is conſidered [Page 62] there is not a poſſible reſource againſt every inconvenience of this nature but is to be found on board a ſhip; and if five or ſix men can navigate a veſſel of two hundred and fifty tons in all weathers, take in her laden, diſcharge it, weigh her anchors, cat them, and, in ſhort, find themſelves equal to every neceſſary labour, what difficulty could I poſſibly find in removing a body of five, or ſix hundred weight to a ſhort diſtance.
It is not ſtrength in ſuch a caſe, it is the multiplication of mechanical power. If I wanted to raiſe a perpendicular, I have already deſcribed, how eaſily it was to be done by means of a tackle; which by the action and reaction of blocks, may be managed till the purchaſe ſhall lighten five hundred weight to a feather.
If I wanted to haul any thing to a given diſtance, by deſcribing the nature [Page 63] of warping a veſſel out of a harbour, or heaving up an anchor, which weighs ſeveral tons, excluſive of the preſſure of the water, uncalculable as to weight, and which may be done with eaſe by ſix or eight men, how very eaſily muſt I have been able to accompliſh the removal of ſix hundred weight by means of my capſtern.
Beſides I had a labourer, and a very able one. Leo, with two paniers upon his back, would carry me three thouſand bricks of a day; at laſt I made a cart for him, and fairly put him in harneſs; and ſuch was his gratitude to me, that no racer at Newmarket, on whom thouſands were betted, or ſet of ponies in Hyde Park, who paraded with the toaſt of the day, for Heaven knows every modern toaſt is almoſt an ephemeron, could prance along with more pride, or more grace than did this noble creature.
[Page 64] I confeſs after all that my perſeverance was beyond credibility; but without it, nothing is to be accompliſhed, and with it, almoſt every thing. My labour ſolaced me, and it is well it did, for my mind was naturally ſo active and ſo continually aſpiring, that had I not cheated myfelf of grief, by giving every encouragement to its activity, I ſhould either have ſaddened into melancholy, or have been exaſperated into diſtraction.
Nor can I charge myſelf with any thing romantic, extravagant, or unbecoming. Why ſhould I be a churl and refuſe to profit of the treaſure Fortune had thrown in my way. I don't think that any hermit ever ſlept upon moſs who could get down; and though I believe in my conſcience that I ſhould be the being of all others that could ſit down eaſieſt contented with the pooreſt lot; yet, though I have ſo little of that envy in me, which I formerly [Page 65] deſcribed, that the tranſlation would ſcarcely excite in me a ſmile, I cannot ſay I ſhould find any reluctance in exchanging with the richeſt.
To be plain. Even though obſcurity and oblivion were to draw an eternal veil over me and my ſtory, whether my days were to be few or many, ſtill was there nothing reprehenſible in my perſeverance. A tendency to preſerve my health, to glorify him who gave me endowments, by a continual exertion of them, to conſider that in a mortal to repine is to rebel, in ſhort, in every moral ſenſe, correctly and conſcienceouſly to do my duty, and to ſtrengthen myſelf againſt every trial, could have nothing in it blameable or unworthy, and even if the ambition of making known the merit of my various ſufferings, my irreproachable love, or my uncommon fortitude, made a part of that ſtrong deſire to [Page 66] diſplay thoſe abilities, ſuch as they were, with which Heaven had endowed me, though ſuch ambition ſhould never be gratified, I had not done the ſmalleſt injury to the meaneſt worm; and, therefore, could find nothing with which I had a right to reproach myſelf.
Indeed, if my labours were to have excited all the world to viſit my iſland as in admiration of a prodigy, I could not have purſued them with a more unremitted attention, nor could I get rid of the idea, that though ſo much love, ſo much fortitude, ſo much patience, ſo much reſignation, had been manifeſted in vain, as to the benefit of their poſſeſſor, yet theſe exemplary qualities would not be exerciſed in vain, as to the benefit of the world.
1.6. CHAP VI. HANNAH HAVING BUILT A HOUSE WANTS A GARDEN; SHE ACCOMPLISHES HER WISH, AND GETS VERY FORWARD IN HER DIFFERENT STUDIES.[Page 67]
HAVING ſo far ſucceeded in a building calculated ſo well for uſe and pleaſure, I reſolved to relax a little and purſue amuſement, and labour, turn by turn. The rainy ſeaſon being now over, and my habitation having pretty well ſtood that and the ſtorm that accompanied it, I began again to taſte that air in which flitted a thouſand perfumes, and to regard thoſe [Page 68] objects, which renovated by nutritious moiſter, felt additional ſtrength and looked more beautifully verdant.
And now it ſtruck me that having a houſe I ought to have a garden. To be ſure no pleaſure ground was ever laid out by capability—Brown with more grandeur, or ſtocked with more beautiful ſhrubbery, than the ſplendid expanſe both behind and before my houſe; but orange trees only bore oranges, citron tree, citrons, and ſo on. I was determined, by innoculation, grafting and inarching, to make the caſſia tree bear olives, the ſhaddock teem with pomgranates, and the plantain bend with cluſters of tamerinds.
Beſides I had found in the ſhip a multiplicity of flower ſeeds, all claſſed and named, which were intended for the gardens at Verſailles. Then I had bulbes, tuberous, and other roots, and layers, and [Page 69] ſuckers, and offsets. With theſe how well I might ſtock a flower garden? And again I had potatoes, beans, peas, onions, garlick, and a variety of other articles with which the French ſtuff their ſoup maigre, and their ſauces, and which would, of courſe, form a very pretty variety for my kitchen garden.
In ſhort I ſoon made a hoe, a rake, and a ſpade; and having determined to devote firſt two hours in a day, and, afterwards, an hour or ſo occaſionally, in the courſe of a month I began every way to feel the benefit of my labour, for it being the kind of exerciſe in which I ever took delight, an employ peculiarly calculated to inſpire moral ideas, and fit the mind for the pureſt of contemplation, it gave me bodily and mental health, and agreeably ſet off the value of my other occupations.
I had certainly now employment [Page 70] enough on my hands. I gardened, I wrote, I painted, I played on the the guittar, or the mandoline, I carved, I modelled, in ſhort I did whatever neceſſity or inclination induced me to, and it is beyond credibility, ſolaced by ſo many amuſements, all of them rational; how ſtrongly my mind bore up againſt its troubles.
I never in my life, as the reader muſt have ſeen, could bear to paſs an idle moment. If I was in view of nature, I contemplated her beauties. If night hid her from my eyes, ſtill was ſhe in mind, and ſtill was I forming projects to manifeſt her various perfections. I cannot ſay I could go ſo far as Sir John Fielding, who ſaid in my preſence, "that he was glad he was blind, becauſe it gave him more perfect opportunity for contemplation." But, I think, were it the pleaſure of Providence to afflict me in any way, I ſhould as much as it is [Page 71] in the power of a human being, find ſome reſource to ſupply the deficiency, like the provident ant, who does not ſtay to lament that her habitation is deſtroyed, but who immediately conſiders through what medium ſhe can form a new one.
Solomon tells the ſluggard to go to the ant, miracle certainly of induſtry! He might have told the ignorant to go the bee, as great a miracle of ingenuity. I have a thouſand times thought what an admirable inſtance of ſhrewd contrivance it is that the cells of a honeycomb, taking a hexangular form, the whole ſpace is not only occupied in a way the moſt convenient to its inhabitants, but there is not the ſmalleſt room, no not the thickneſs of a hair loſt or confounded. But were I to go on in this ſtrain, I could expatiate for ever, and yet find no obſervation worthy the wonderful theme. Wonderful indeed! From the very ſpider, who waves his entrails [Page 72] into a net to catch his prey, to the obliging ſilkworm, who ſpins away his ſubſtance that the coquette may catch her's
Though I have been betrayed into this rapſody, I mean nothing more by it than that, with ingenuity, method will accompliſh any thing. I ever found it ſo, and it was peculiarly neceſſary, in my preſent ſituation, to put my wits to the teſt, and thus I was enabled to perfect ſo many things, which, but for the explanations I have gone into, would have appeared incredible; but, which, thus explained, the reader will allow muſt have been eaſily practicable.
I had found aboard the Entrepreneur, as before noticed, a great variety of colours for painting; but, beſides this, I had now made from earth, bones, flowers, the blood of the ſea ſnake, and other materials, [Page 73] ſome admirable colours of my own. Oils, and varniſhes, I had brought to ſuch perfection, that I had no doubt but in time I ſhould rival the famous varniſh in which the beautiful tone of the cremona fiddle is ſaid to conſiſt.
Thus I was completely ſtocked with materials for painting. As for muſic, I had a harp, a guitar, a mandolina, two fiddles, ſeveral flutes, and a viol di gamba, beſides a very large aſſortment of ſtrings, both in catgut and wire, and, as I was determined to make a piano-forte for my ſaloon, I had no doubt in the end of fitting up an organ in my chapel.
As for writing, I had a long time abandoned the plantain leaf, being well ſupplied with pen, ink, and paper; and thus I was now prepared to write my hiſtory, to paint it, and to ſet it to muſic, and all this I was determined in ſome [Page 74] degree to perform even, as I have repeatedly ſaid, though time ſhould bury me and my labours in the ſame oblivion.
In the firſt place, as the works of ſuch ſuperior authors as Shakeſpeare, and Milton, make their way to the public through the medium of paintings and engravings, what chance would a narrative of ſimple though extraordinary facts ſtand of being introduced to the world, unaſſiſted by the pencil or the graver. Again, as every thing written by ladies is expected to teem with poetry, particularly ſonnets, it ſtruck me that a few ſtanzas now and then ſet to muſic, would throw in a novelty which might give it a fillup and ſend it more rapidly into circulation. To be ſure it is but a ſorry mode of recommendation, it is like ſweetening with molaſſes; which, though pleaſant to the palate, is loathſome to the ſtomach and conceals the flavour of the beverage; but as poor Walmeſley would have ſaid had he been [Page 75] alive and heard me make the remark, all this we muſt do to comply with the taſte of the town.
At the ſame time I have not the ſmalleſt wiſh to inſinuate any thing againſt the reſpective merits of arts, or artiſts, my quarrel is that nothing ſtands upon its own foundation The world will not take for granted, the naked beauty of the object that preſents itſelf. It muſt be dreſſed, and Heaven knows it is ſometimes ſo dreſſed, that what was meant to ornament and embelliſh ſerves only to caracature and diſguiſe.
A literary production, a painting, or any other work of genuis ſhould make its own appeal to the public. Its merits will manifeſt themſelves without the aid of adventitious aſſiſtance; its demerits no adventitious aſſiſtance can bolſter up. An execrable poem, at which the public has [Page 76] been in raptures, ſtands a chance of failing through the medium of a print that laughs at any reigning folly, and an admirable play, on the point of being damned; may work out its ſalvation by the opportune appearance of a ghoſt, or an elephant.
But I reconcile it this way—Engliſhmen will have a good deal for their money, and to ſay truth, how can it be expected that they ſhould purchaſe a work of literature, be it the hiſtory of the bible, of their own country, of the Catabaws, of plants, of the heavenly conſtellations, of mites, of air, unleſs circulated through the medium of ſixpenny numbers, with the united advantages of being aſſiſted by the whole body of arts, when the quartern loaf is at the enormous expence of ſixpence three farthings.
Theſe conſiderations induced me to enforce [Page 77] the particulars of my hiſtory in every poſſible way that the fertility of my imagination would permit me; and as the fatal cheſt, which contained ſo many intereſting documents, relative to poor Hewit, had furniſhed me with ſad proof of the moſt material facts my hiſtory contains; ſo I was determined to depoſit my labours there, that the world, if ever they ſhould be diſcovered, might learn through that medium a ſtory which, though extraordinary enough in itſelf, might, perhaps, become more worthy of attention when ſo many fortuitous circumſtances ſhould lend it weight and reſponſibility.
I own I had one objection to cramming every thing into the cheſt, and it was this. One of thoſe poets who, in my proſperity, I taught to impoſe upon the public, had made a large ſum of money by publiſhing Fac Similes of writings, drawings, and other documents ſaid to have been found in a trunk, and actually written by the famous [Page 78] Ben Jonſon, cotemporary of Shakepeare. Among the reſt there was a letter in Queen Elizabeth's own hand writing, commending one of thoſe maſques he is well known to have written for her court, and inviting him to attend the performance of it, facetiouſly calling him, in imitation of Johſon's character of Juſtice Clement, in his ſpeech to Brainworm, "a merry knave."
Out of this cheſt I alſo proved that Jonſon and Shakeſpeare were upon the beſt terms, and ſo far from Jonſon's having ever ſaid that inſtead of not blotting out a line Shakeſpeare ought to have blotted out thouſands, there is a letter which expreſsly no [...]es that if any one could have the temerity to ſtrike a ſingle word out of Shakeſpeare, or to torture his meaning in any manner, it ought to be deemed literary ſacrilege.
What a ſevere ſatire, by anticipation, [Page 79] Jonſon had here written againſt Shakeſpeare's numerous commentators, but I ought not to dwell upon this ſubject. I only introduced it to ſhew how very ſimilar, ſometimes, invention is to fact, and alſo, that though every body believed what I inſinuated, had they opened their eyes, they would have found that there was not one word of truth in it, for I did nothing more than retail over again the ſtory of Chatterton.
But the beſt thing in this buſineſs, and that which made the greateſt noiſe was a ſong, with which Ben Jonſon was ſo delighted that he treaſured it up as a model for rapturous love, though the intelligent reader will plainly ſee it was as great an impoſition as the reſt. I had, indeed, an idea of ſporting a play ſuppoſed to be ſent by Shakeſpear to Jonſon for his opinion, but I ſaw in a moment that it would only be ſtraining the ſtring until it ſnapt. A few looſe things which bore the [Page 80] genuine marks of having been written by ſo great a man, might be pretty well managed, as they would naturally paſs for what he conſidered as trifles, and probably intended to burn; but a play! No, no, thought I, the Engliſh may be credulous, but their credulity proceeds from the exceſs of their good nature, their own inherent integrity, and their willingneſs to admit what is ſeriouſly and ſolemnly averred to be fact, not from their want of underſtanding, and critical diſcrimination, upon either of which whoever groſsly impoſes, may be aſſured of that reſentment his temerity ſo richly deſerves.
The little ſong in queſtion, which is ſuppoſed to be written to Anne Hatheaway, who all the world knows received the addreſſes and afterwards became the wife of Shakeſpear, I ſhall ſubjoin, juſt to ſhew how eaſily an impoſition of this kind gains current belief.
1.7. CHAP VII. HANNAH CELEBRATES THE ANNIVERSARIES OF MEMORABLE DAYS, STUDIES CHEMISTRY, AND MAKES AN AUTOMATON. THE BIRDS AND THE MONKIES PAY HER ANOTHER VISIT, AT WHICH TIME LEO RESCUES HER FROM A PERILOUS SITUATION.[Page 83]
I HAD now full employ, all of which I might particularly enumerate were it not that if I did ſo, my hiſtory would appear little better than a journal, and yet it is material to notice how much I gained upon time by keeping, in all I did, to an exact regularity, and how this mode vavaried my pleaſures as well as my employments.
[Page 84] In the firſt place, as there was ſcarcely a day of the year but marked ſome extraordinary circumſtance of my life, I always commemorated it by a form ſuitable to the occaſion. My prayers, my food, my employments, my very dreſs, ſpoke ſomething analagous. Every diſtreſsful event was a faſt, every providential eſcape a thankſgiving. Thus my poetry was heroic, pathetic, elegiac, paſtoral, ſerious, or comic; my painting was grand, terrific, affecting, pleaſing, familiar, or caracature; my muſic was majeſtic, melting, magical inſinuating, ſimple, or groteſque, according to circumſtances.
I had ſo many memorable days to notice, that I divided them into claſſes. Thoſe of a more intereſting deſcription, ſuch as Hewit's birth-day, my own, our marriage, our ſeparation, his ſhipwreck, mine, the day I landed on my iſland, my eſcape from the lioneſs, and others, which the reader can point out as well as I, and [Page 85] which ſhew what fragile tenements we inhabit, were among the firſt claſs, and were ſuitably ſolemnized.
But were I minutely to deſcribe the rotation of my calender, which was as numerouſly ſtocked, and I am as ſure as honeſtly as the Pope's, it would be like ſlyly intimating to the reader a recapitulation of the circumſtances of my life, leſt through inattention, or indifference, they might any of them have been paſſed by.
I ſhall only ſay, therefore, that having no country but my own iſland, no world but of my own creating, no communication but with my own ideas, that I might not loſe the exerciſe of that reaſon by which human creatures are diſtinguiſhed, ſome to their honour, ſome to their execration, beyond all other animals, I made that country, that world, that ſociety, out of what I had known and experienced; which had this advantage beyond living in an actual [Page 86] world, that, like the ſalutary air of Malta, Ireland, and ſome other places, where noxious animals are not known to exiſt, ſo neither envy. nor ſlander, nor, indeed, one of the mental evils that iſſued from Pandora's box dared to draw its poiſonous breath in the pure atmoſphere of my dominions.
I don't know how far the reader may be pleaſed with theſe trifling matters, but to me they made up a delightful, becauſe an inoffenſive and rational ſeries of enjoyments. It would have been, indeed, with me, to-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow; had I not found ſome ingenious means of cheating the tedious hours. I had no ambition to gratify that fools might wonder, I had no ſum to amaſs for my heir to ſquander, I had no domeſtic happineſs for my friends to envy, I did not lead a life, my life was all retroſpection; and had I not found employment for my faculties by contemplating as on a dream, [Page 87] or reading as in a book, paſt occurrences of my extraordinary life, I muſt have lingered on a vacant uſeleſs exiſtence; a living chaos, abſorbed in a chaſm of time.
Employing myſelf, however, rather more rationally, as I had nothing to wiſh for but to join poor Hewit, and dared not accelerate the means; I thought I ſhould render my life more acceptable to him who beſtowed it by blending chearfulneſs with reſignation; and, therefore, went on providing for what was to happen on the morrow, though that morrow was, which, by the bye, happens perpetually in the world, only a repetition of what had paſſed long before.
As in my retroſpective almanack two, and ſometimes three events would happen on the ſame day of the year, it generally introduced ſome extraordinary or whimſical coincidence; for inſtance, on the very day of the month Sourby had been [Page 88] ſwallowed by the ſhark did we thirteen years before receive the news that our fortune had been ſwallowed up by him and his confederates. The day of the year on which I had put the impudent monkey to death in the cavern, did I give a rude coxcomb, at a maſquerade, a ſlap in the face. I had reaſon enough to remember it, for Hewit had like to have been involved in a duel.
On the day of the year I ſaw the Queen of France in all her ſplendour, was I by accident in a mob, where they were leading a poor wretch with a halter about her neck to be whipt at the cart's tail. The day of the year on which my brother, the lawyer, was hanged for forgery, he had been many years before honourably acquitted of a perjury, of which he was guilty, and Hewit had been falſely puniſhed for the crime of deſertion, of which he was innocent.
[Page 89] I ſhall not dwell upon obſervations of this kind, I think the reader will be intereſted in whatever relates to me; and if ſo, it will not be a matter of indifference to learn that I filled my time by employments worthy a mind made up to every extraordinary and trying occaſion.
By the time the birds made their next appearance I had got wonderfully forward in all my undertakings. I had painted and framed twelve pictures for my ſaloon, all ſubjects from my own life; four ſcripture pieces were hung in my chapel, and I had gone into a number of other ſtudies, particularly pneumatic chemiſtry, in which I had made ſome wonderful diſcoveries as to the nature of different gaſes; and among the reſt, I clearly proved by decompounding water, that it is not an element but a compoſition of two airs; and as a poſitive demonſtration of the truth of this experiment, by uniting theſe two airs, I recompoſed them into water again.
[Page 90] I heartily wiſh for the ſake of my fellows creatures, whoſe welfare, though I ſhall never witneſs, my heart, nevertheleſs, yearns after, that ſome ingenious practitioner may have made the ſame notable diſcovery; for though ſimples and natural remedies are fully competent, to cure colds, fevers, and other common complaints, which many an old woman with Culpepper in her hand, has eradicated, as ſecumden artem, as the whole tribe of Warwick-lane could have done; yet, as luxury is every day adding to the catalogue of natural diſorders ſo many artificial ones; as the muſcles; of which medical men know but little, the nervous ſyſtem, of which they know leſs, and the ſpleen, of which they know nothing at all, are now ſuppoſed to be the ſeat of complaints our anceſtors never heard of; ſo it is but fair that galenical pharmacy ſhould give way to chemical, and that vital fire, nearly extinguiſhed by the dinner and the bottle, ſhould receive a prometheon renovation [Page 91] by chemical fire, iſſuing from the retort, or the crucible.
In particular I would recommend a cloſe attention to this doctrine of air; for as life depends upon reſpiration, as the man who breathes freeſt, loudeſt and longeſt, is in the beſt health, as no man can breathe free, loud, or long, who inhales an air that diſagrees with his conſtitution, ſo we have nothing to do but to pick and chuſe till we have found that air moſt conduſive to health, and thus breathe phyſic inſtead of taking it in pills or by ſpoonfulls.
From Levoifier on chemiſtry, I took moſt of theſe hints; which books, together with many others on different ſubjects, I found on board the Entrepreneur; but what pleaſed me moſt, was a work that treated on mechanics, a ſtudy I was peculiarly qualified for, and in which I had [Page 92] ever taken delight, and which, indeed, in my ſituation, was more material to me than any other.
As I was abſorbed in ſtudy one day on the power of mechanical operations, juſt after having ſeparated the movements of a time piece, in order to clean it, it ſtruck me that I ſhould find no great difficulty in making an automaton. I had ſeen the cheſs player introduced with great ſucceſs about the year 1774, and knew perfectly upon what principle it acted, but this was not enough for me. To make any object mechanically come and go, and ape common actions like Archytus's flying dove, Regiomontanus's wooden eagle, or his iron fly, was unworthy my genius, it was only the the ſecond edition of Lady Catharina with the magic lantern. I was determined to make an automaton that ſhould ſpeak, and nothing appeared to me more eaſy.
[Page 93] A common penny toy cries cuckoo as plain as the cuckoo itſelf; if, therefore, I had choſe to content myſelf with keeping to open words the buſineſs would ſoon have been effected; for inſtance, an automaton, or rather an autologon, might ſoon be taught to ſpeak Italian, but I determined my automaton ſhould ſpeak Engliſh; naſals, gutterals, and all. How I was charmed at the circumſtance! It would be a ſort of companion to me! It continually ran in my head, and I was determined to loſe no time in bringing it to perfection.
To be brief, having made my figure and tried a variety of movements, I ſound, by adding a pair of bellows, I ſhould, in time, in great meaſure carry my point. The principal I went upon was that of a muſical clock, which utters open ſounds through the medium of pent air conveyed occaſionally into different pipes. Inſtead, therefore, of a ſucceſſion of regular ſounds [Page 94] forming a muſical melody upon the diapaſon, flute, or other ſtop producing notes by means of circular perforations, I made the ſounds iſſue from reeds formed as nearly as poſſible in the ſhape into which the fauces are purſed or dilated in the act of ſpeaking; and inſtead of thoſe tubes, from whence iſſue the mellow even tone of the flute, and diapaſon, I made all my pipes in imitation of the vox humane, the clarinet, and the baſſoon, all which have a ſound ſomething reſembling the human voice.
As out of the common octave, with the addition of the ſharp fourth, and the flat ſeventh, may be formed a great variety of melody; or to come nearer the matter, as you may count the different changes upon eight bells until you are ſtunned and tired; ſo a great deal of converſation may be made out of a very few common place words. I preſently taught my figure a variety of interjections. He would cry out Oh, ah, humph, as correctly as a critic [Page 95] who was aſked if he recollected a particular beauty in Shakeſpeare; I made him ſigh as naturally as a ſelf approving Adonis who expected you to fall in love with him; he would whiſtle as vacantly as a daſhing fellow who had juſt received a uſeleſs admonition from his injured father; and he would laugh as triumphantly as an impudent rake who had juſt put modeſty to the bluſh.
When I had brought my contrivance to this I ſelected a few words, that by tranſpoſition and retranſpoſition would form different ſentences; and by this method, this kind of anagram in language, I made my figure converſe pretty well. At firſt I was wenderfully pleaſed with my contrivance, but there was ſomething ſo hollow and ſo ghoſtly in the ſound that, after a time, I grew perfectly ſhocked at it, particularly at night; and having taught it to ſay 'O ow I luv u Anna;' it [Page 96] ſpoke, or I fancied it ſpoke, ſo much in the tone of John Hewit's voice, who from a natural dialect pronounced with difficulty the aſpiration H, that I began to fear it might introduce a melancholy which would trench upon all thoſe laudable reſolutions I had ſo properly and ſo firmly made.
I, therefore determined, leſt my nerves ſhould be affected, for a time at leaſt, to lay by my ſpeaking figure; and as the rainy ſeaſon was likely to come on ſoon, which never failed of itſelf by keeping me within doors, and depreſſing my ſpirits, to turn my mind too much to gloomy objects, I placed it in a corner of my dormitory, reſolving never to uſe it unleſs when I could be ſure my reſolution would be equal to the trial.
Though theſe circumſtances can afford the reader but little amuſement, I truſt I ſhall be excuſed for having mentioned [Page 97] them. To exerciſe my mind was my greateſt pleaſure, and my greateſt comfort; and thoſe who have moſt indulgence will be happieſt to find that a lone woman, who had not a ſingle motive for life, ſhould have the fortitude, the prudence, the religion to live miſerable and reſigned.
I had now been two years and a half without ſeeing a human face when the birds paid me a third viſit. I took this hint to lay in my uſual ſtock, and protected by Leo, who was now grown a moſt beautiful animal, I ſet about birds neſting in ſpight of the monkies. I had been tollerably ſucceſsful, and had met with little annoyance for ſome time. I could not help noticing, however, a large baboon that leered at me from behind ſome rock or ſtump of a tree, wherever I went. In vain did Leo ſcamper after him up the rocks, whenever he could he returned to the charge, and it is inconceivable how [Page 98] nauſeous and diſagreeable his antics were.
One afternoon, having diſpatched Leo for a baſket of eggs I had left behind me, I was ſitting on a cane garden chair before my door when that ugly wretch the baboon ſurprized me. He caught me in his arms, and it was vain that I endeavoured to diſengage myſelf from his graſp, I ſcreamed and rent the air with my cries, all hope ſeemed in vain, and what might have been the conſequence Heaven knows if my noble protector, on hearing my voice, had not flown to my aſſiſtance.
To have ſeen him was to have ſeen a guardian angel. His generous tenderneſs for me, and his ineffable contempt for his foe were in the ſame moment manifeſt in his eyes. It was like a gallant Engliſhman protecting innocence from diſtreſs. It was like Binns. He diſengaged [Page 99] the horrid wretch from me with the moſt cautious care; then, ſeeing I was ſafe, terrified him with all the apprehenſion of death, and then, as if thinking him too inſignificant for his revenge, ſpurned at him and permitted him to eſcape.
1.8. CHAP. VIII. HANNAH EXPERIENCING DISAGREEABLE EFFECTS FROM THE RAINY SEASON, GETS FIRST INTO A CONSUMPTION, AND AFTERWARDS INTO THE HORRORS.[Page 100]
THE birds having taken their departure, the rain ſoon after ſet in. I, therefore, betook myſelf to painting and ornamenting, being determined to complete my building in every reſpect by the time it ſhould be fine weather; after which, if I ſhould want employ, I might build a pleaſure houſe upon the mountain, where, by catching young ones, and breeding them up tame, I might keep deer and [Page 101] buffaloes in a ſort of kraal, or encloſure, in the manner they were kept by the Caffres.
I ſet about my ſaloon and ſoon added ſix or eight pictures to my catalogue with their proper frames carved and gilt; in which laſt labour it is aſtoniſhing what occaſion I had to admire the maleability of gold. I beat out a ſingle louis d'ore into as many ſlips or leaves as, by calculation, had they been paper and converted into notes of only ſix livres each, would have amounted to ſeven thouſand one hundred and thirty-three livres.
I went on with great alacrity, but the rain being inceſſant, and attended with a chilling air, I grew, I can't ſay ill, but impatient and gloomy. In this ſituation I took a wrong method. I thought, as I had found upon all occaſions facing an enemy, to be the ſureſt way of getting rid [Page 102] of him, fancy never failing to magnify fear, ſo I changed my ground, and in proportion as I grew melancholy, indulged my ſadneſs by working in the chapel; and once or twice I was fool hardy enough to try the experiment of my ſpeaking figure, adding to it a new movement, in the nature of an alarum clock, by which it ſpoke at any given diſtance of time.
This laſt experiment I moſt heartily repented, for it threw me into ſuch a dejection of ſpirits, that I greatly feared I ſhould have all the horror of the firſt rainy ſeaſon to go over again. I, therefore, determined to put up the autologon for good and all. Nothing, however, could keep me out of the chapel; where, though dreadfully dejected, I was greatly relieved by prayer and the conſciouſneſs that the all ſeeing eye of the Creator was benignly regarding me in a ſacred place which I had moſt uprightly conſecrated to his honour.
[Page 103] Theſe conſiderations at times greatly relieved me, and, in particular gave me ſome little comfort, by enabling me to argue with myſelf. Why thought I ſhould any fear, however awful, depreſs my ſpirits? Am I now to learn that I am alone in a world which it is not material to myſelf or to creation whether I leave now or when age and deformity ſhall have rendered my life ſtill more a burden?
What ſhall I do when the pangs of death are on me? When I am ſinking to that reſt which alone can be the oblivion of my cares. Should I not betray a mind grovling and unworthy were I to weep that I have no kind friend to comfort me, no trembling hand to cloſe my dying eyes, no devout prieſt to adminiſter comfort to my parting ſoul, or ſing a requiem over my grave, no charitable ſexton to hide my periſhable remains.
Rather let me in this, as in all other [Page 104] exigencies provide for the ſolemn occaſion; and, having to the glory of that Creator, who permitted me to exiſt, exerciſed thoſe endowments he mercifully gave me to prolong my exiſtence, ſo let me meet death with the fortitude that I have endured life.
Let me expect the dreadful and conſoling moment when this world and all its glories ſhall paſs away from me. Should it be prompt, it will be but one pang; ſhould it be lingering, let me with piety and reſignation endure what cannot be averted; and when at laſt the icy hand of death ſhall chill my forehead, let me retire to ſome modeſt tomb ſuited to receive ſuch humble remains.
It is inconceivable how this laſt idea poſſeſſed me. I determined at once to execute the deſign I had formed; and after a few days, during which ſpace I would ſit and muſe for ſix or eight hours [Page 105] at a time indulging my ſad, yet pleaſing melancholy, I began my work; and, in a week more, had erected a plain, neat tomb, ornamented with ſuitable decorations, and an impreſſive inſcription referring to the fatal cheſt for further information.
Into this tomb, which was lined with black, I conveyed a couch with a kind of canopy, ornamented with ſuch artificial leaves and flowers as beſpoke my character. Like poor Ophelia, I had panſies for remembrance, and I had rue. The heliotrope beſpoke my conſtancy, a whithered laurel denoted my unavailing deſire of fame, an olive deſcribed me at peace with all the world, camomile expreſſed my patient endurance of injury, the ephemeron, my tranſient hope, and the xeranthemum, my never ending deſpair.
Here did I determine, if my ſtrength [Page 106] and reſolution ſhould permit me, to encloſe myſelf whenever I ſhould find my diſſolution approach; after which, whether my retreat were ever to be diſcovered or to remain a ſecret from all the world, I ſhould have done a becoming duty towards God and towards man.
I never atchieved any thing of this extraordinary kind but it conſoled me. I now begin to think of death as calmly as I had formerly indulged the idea diſtractedly; and for ſeveral days, I was in a temper to reſign my life without a ſigh. The next thing that ſtruck me was that poor Hewit merited a tribute of reſpect at my hands; and, as I had placed my tomb on one ſide of the altar, I reſolved to erect one for him on the other. This I alſo accompliſhed, but had ſcarcely done ſo, before I was well convinced I had better have let it alone.
My mind that I had flattered with falſe [Page 107] hopes, was not conſoled, it was deceived; and while I deluſively fancied I had been adminiſtering relief to my deſpair, I was only confirming it. I had not noticed, in the eagerneſs of my employment, that too great an exertion of reſolution impaired my health; that every ſigh, as it came from my heart, affected my lungs; in ſhort, under the idea of a cough, I felt, at laſt, every ſymptom of an approaching conſumption.
I loſt ſtrength every day, and by the time the rainy ſeaſon was over, I was a perfect ſkeleton. Having now an opportunity of taking the freſh air, with all thoſe beautiful advantages that I have formerly deſcribed, though waſting perceptibly, I hoped I might yet recover, ſtill mindful, however deſirous of death, it was my duty to prolong my life by every means in my power.
I had an idea that if I could frequently [Page 108] take the air on the mountain, it might lend ſome help towards reſtoring me; but how to get there? I could no more have climbed the mountain than have flown to it. At laſt it ſtruck me that Leo ſhould convey me; for which purpoſe I mounted a garden chair upon a carriage; and having put him on a beautiful ſilk harneſs, the good creature, whoſe very look conveyed affection and fidelity, drew me with an air ſo proud and majeſtic, that I ſeemed ſome deity in her car. Alas, it was only in appearance! for had the Deity felt ſo weak and ſo emaciated as I did, ſhe would have preferred annihilation to immortality.
Our journies were long or ſhort according to circumſtances. Sometimes we merely took an airing, and ſometimes we ſtayed all day, and took proviſion with us. One day having been on a long tour, as we returned towards the evening, I ſaw ſomething ſtruggling in a thicket; and [Page 109] alighting, I diſcovered that it was a young buffalo. It inſtantly occurred to me that veal broth was a very nouriſhing thing, and proper for a perſon in a conſumption, and had no doubt, eſpecially as I had taſted nothing of that kind for ſuch a length a time, it might greatly contribute towards my recovery, ſo flattering is the nature of that complaint, that it catches more at ſtraws than any other.
I diſentangled the poor creature and began to deliberate about killing it; but I plainly found I ſhould make but a very indifferent butcher. Leo, indeed, if I had given the word, would have lain him dead in an inſtant; not elſe, for I verily believe, unleſs by my command, which was to him a fiat, he would not, unleſs preſſed by hunger, have killed a fly. At all adventures I thought it was better to poſtpone ſo diſagreeable a buſineſs till we ſhould get home, ſo I made a halter for the poor [Page 110] trembling thing, and led him on behind my carriage.
It being late I penned my calf up till the morning; when after conſidering the matter the major part of the night, I was fallying forth to releaſe him and to truſt to chance for my cure, uttering as I went along, no; life is as precious in that creature as it is in me, let me preſerve his life and truſt to Providence to reſtore mine.
No ſooner had theſe words iſſued from my mouth, when I heard an uncommon bellowing. It was the mother of the poor creature who had traced his footſteps from the mountain. Oh how did I here exult! How much more nutritious than veal broth was milk, how much more proper for a conſumptive complaint, and then I ſhould take away no life, truly here had virtue its reward; I had been merciful to [Page 111] the calf, and Heaven in return had been merciful to me. Well charming Sbakeſpeare, haſt thou ſweetly ſaid that 'mercy is twice bleſt.' I have often conſidered that paſſage as one of the moſt ſublime in all the works of our great bard. Nay, I am extremely deceived, if the celebrated Miſs Seward is not of the ſame opinion; for if I recollect right, one of her poems, which deſcribes ſome character full of benignity, has this line—
"With all the twice bleſſed Angel in her eye."
After I had permitted the calf to ſuck its fill, and thus continued to prolong life inſtead of deſtroying it, I milked the mother. I then permitted her to graze about the lawn, being under no apprehenſion of loſing her while I confined her young one. Thus, after a ſhort time, ſhe became very tractable, and ſuffered herſelf to be milked twice a day as regularly as an Alderney cow.
[Page 112] In the mean time the milk very ſenſibly gained upon my diſorder, and in about ſix weeks from the time I firſt drank it, I found myſelf in a convaleſcent ſtate, but though I had no doubt with care I ſhould recover, ſtill a naſty hectic fever lurked about me; my fleſh perpetually burnt, I had a weak, low, and quick pulſe; my ſleep was no manner of refreſhment, but on the contrary was attended with ſtartings and frightful dreams.
Had I not known that this fever was an attendant on a conſumption, and that theſe dreams were ſymptoms of it, I ſhould have been tempted to believe ſome awful event was at hand; for I ſcarcely ever ſlept but ſome myſterious viſion appeared to me. Hewit, my brother, Binns, Walmeſley, Sourby, were perpetually ſwimming before me in ſo many fantaſtic ſhapes, that when I awoke I ſeemed to be on the verge of madneſs; nay, at laſt, I [Page 113] began to think very ſeriouſly of theſe extraordinary warnings, and felt a mixed ſenſation of hope and dread, that my diſorder would return, and that the next rainy ſeaſon, or, perhaps, a ſhorter period, would find me ſilently reclined in my tomb.
My conſumption certainly went off and with it all the ſymptoms of the fever except the dreams which increaſed in a moſt wonderful manner; willing however, to conſult my ſenſes and my reaſon, and thus attribute theſe viſitations to their natural cauſe, I concluded that, as in conſequence of being convaleſcent, I had grown more plethoric, from thence had ariſen thoſe horrid dreams, which certainly were now become of a more ſanguinary kind, and related to nothing but wounds and murder.
Under this idea, I abſtained from too [Page 114] much food that had milk in it, or any other ingredient likely to engender blood too faſt. This ſeemed actually to have its effect, and for a fortnight, I ſlept much leſs diſturbed and found myſelf in better health.
I had come home one evening pretty tired, and having made rather a heartier meal than uſual, I reſted the firſt part of the night very ſound. Towards the morning I dreamt I ſaw poor Leo full of wounds and breathing his laſt. I was crying for the loſs of him when John Hewit knelt by my ſide, and with a thouſand ſoft and tender expreſſions, entreated me to go with him to where he ſaid we ſhould both be happy.
There was ſomething ſo winning, yet ſo repugnant, as I thought to my wiſhes, in his ſolicitations, that I alternately repulſed and carreſſed him. At laſt, my mind being wrought up to a violent conflict, [Page 115] I awoke, when, hardly knowing where I was, and doubting whether what I had ſeen and heard was a dream or reality, a hollow voice, like that I had heard in my dream, cried out—"A ow I luv u Anna!"
Upon hearing theſe ſounds uttered ſo unexpectedly, I ſcreamed and fell into ſtrong hyſterics, which, though I was in my ſenſes the whole time, and knew they had been uttered by the ſpeaking figure, in conſequence of my having, by miſtake, ſet the alarum movement the night before inſtead of taking it off, laſted me a complete hour; and when I recovered, though I found Leo ſafe, and that the ſounds had been cauſed by my own imprudent negligence, I was ſo ſhocked that I continued ill the whole day, and was obliged to muſter up all my firmneſs, and to call to mind how many reiterated reſolutions I had made, to rely on the protection of [Page 116] Providence, before I could prevail on myſelf to go to bed at night.
My ſpirits were ſo unſettled that my horrid dreams began to return, I dreamt that the owners of the French Eaſt-Indiaman came to ſtrip me of all I had, and told me I muſt reſtore my goods to their rightful poſſeſſors. In a ſtate of diſtraction, I thought I flew into the chapel, where the ſkulls of Monſieur and Madame D'Oliviere ſpoke to me, crying out, "Liſten to us, we are Oracles, you ſhall be tranſlated to Heaven, and reap a juſt reward for all your ſufferings." Then they thanked me for my pious care of their remains; then flew to kiſs me; Oh what a nauſeous ſenſation! It awoke me; I feel the clamy preſſure of their hollow jaws at this moment.
From this night I determined to bid adieu to ſleep. Yet what was to ſuſtain nature? No matter; the ſooner my exiſtence [Page 117] terminated the better! this might be impiety, but I could bear no more than the mind I poſſeſſed permitted. I was a mortal, and, therefore, could boaſt no more than the imbecility of a mortal. The ſtring of my reſolution had been wound up until it had cracked, the muſic of hope was turned to the diſſonance of deſpair.
1.9. CHAP IX. HANNAH'S DISTRESS BECOMES MORE AND MORE POIGNANT: SHE MEETS WITH A MOST AFFECTING LOSS, AND AFTERWARDS TAKES HER LEAVE OF THE WORLD.[Page 118]
I HAD continued in this dreadful deſpondency ten or twelve days; now ſhivering with apprehenſion, now wild with terror, now lowered with ſullen melancholy, now melted into tears, the whole time not daring to ſleep but at fits and ſtarts, when nature oppreſſed me, and I ſettled into a kind of ſerene ſadneſs.
I had taken the matter every way, and [Page 119] nothing could convince me but that my fate was at hand. I, therefore, ſat down camly to expect it. Having brought my mind to this, nothing could exceed the tranquility in which I felt myſelf. I indulged the idea, I feaſted on it as on luxury, which received ſuch a zeſt from reflections on my blameleſs life, that I chid the tedious hours which ſtood between me and the moment when I ſhould find Heaven and John Hewit.
Here, as the triumph of my virtue, hung a portrait of the gallant Binns reſcuing me from the violent hands of the villain Sourby. There, as an eternal reproach to the world and its follies, were Hewit and I in our new ridiculous dreſſes gazed at like meteors, [Page 120] as we drove round the Ring in Hyde Park. Further on, as a uſeful leſſon to fallen pride, and a picture of conjugal affection and honeſt induſtry, were we ſallying forth, he as a razor grinder, and I ſelling trinkets, and leading an humble aſs bearing my two children in paniers.
My receiving the fatal letter from whence originated all my ſufferings, the death of my poor ſuſpected infant, my embarking for India, my meeting with my brother, my parting from him, my being ſhipwrecked, my being torn from my companions, my finding Trout to be Sourby, his juſt fate, my eſcape from the lioneſs, Leo's exulation at having reſcued me from the monkey, all gave ſome proof of tenderneſs, or reſolution, or affection, or fortitude, or ſome other quality, which taught me I had deſerved to live and therefore was prepared to die.
Thoſe merits that had depended on myſelf, [Page 121] led me into a reflection on the miſeries I had been afflicted with, and which had depended on Providence. Not conſcious that from my own neglect I had merited affliction, though I did not dare arraign Providence, I modeſtly took leave to ſcrutinize its motives; and having fairly weighed every conſideration, and reflected that virtue can never be puniſhed by a power all juſt, all good, all beneficent, but for its own ſake, I calmly concluded that Providence had made this world my ſcourge, my woe, my miſery, that I might the better reliſh thoſe joys which were preparing for me in the next.
Thus deeply reflecting, ſedately weighing, and, I am afraid, abſurdly judging, what I had ſhunned in ſleep followed me waking. My life was all a dream, or rather madneſs; for inſtead of my being ſhocked at horrid images, the more horrid the image the more I was delighted.
[Page 122] My only diſturbance was the parting with Leo. I would look at him, and talk to him as if he had been endowed with reaſon, and, indeed, if actions are a proof of it, ſo he was. Never did I trace in the noble creature an unworthy motive, would I could ſay ſo much of humanity. Ah my poor Leo! Would I cry—while a flood of tears guſhed from my eyes—I ſhall leave thee in a troubleſome world. I was the only inhabitant of this iſland of my kind, now thou will be the only one of thine. Thou haſt followed me, watched me, and protected me. May thy blameleſs life never know a pang. Alas he is delighted with my carreſſes! He tries to recall me to life. My good, my worthy, my faithful Leo, it is too late, we ſhall part, indeed we ſhall, very, very ſoon.
Finding in all this time no material alteration in my health, for with the other qualities of madneſs, I had cunning enough to eat and drink, I grew impatient. Come, [Page 123] ſaid I, Leo, one day, let us go out and ſeek that fate that will not come home to us. So ſaying I ſallied forth—Oh would I had not—my ever faithful Leo proudly following me.
I had wildly ſtrayed to a conſiderable diſtance, when chance led me to the verge of the promontory, where I grew ſo diſordered, that I had almoſt made up my mind to leap forward. At this inſtant a hideous baboon ruſhed from the very brake whence the lioneſs had formerly flown to ſeize me. Leo, delighted with being permitted to follow me, was ſcampering over the lawn. He ſaw in a moment my danger, and flew like lightening to my aſſiſtance. He roared, his eyes flaſhed fire, his rage was ungovernable, he darted at his prey, which venturing to avoid him, to the very edge of the promontory, they both fell over, and Oh miſerable, miſerable hour! my poor Leo ſhared the fate of his mother!
[Page 124] It was a mercy I did not follow him. I ran, I rambled, I ventured into the moſt imminent danger to lend him aſſiſtance, my ſhrieks and lamentations all the while reverberated by a hundred echos, but in vain, he was dead; on a jet of the rock that no human art could approach, he lay ſtretched by the ſide of his mother, whoſe carcaſe had been a prey to the birds, and whoſe ſkeleton had whitened in the ſun.
Now was I completely overcome, the terrible accident happening in my ſight, in my behalf, in my defence. Unaccuſtomed as I was to kindneſs, and meltingly ſuſceptible of gratitude, my feelings added to the complication of conflicting ſenſations with which I was before diſtracted, drove me to ſomething more than madneſs. As I wandered I ſcarcely knew where, I ſcreamed, I laughed, I ſung, and exhibited every ſhocking diſtraction of a miſerable lunatic.
[Page 125] All this while, my feet as much miſled as my ſenſes, I erred further and further from my home; and, in proportion as I found myſelf aſtray, my diſtraction encreaſed. My ears were aſſailed with a thouſand noiſes, the winds ſeemed to whiſtle with the harmony of fifty Eolian harps. I heard voices, I anſwered them, I fancied myſelf in the company of Angels; till accident having placed me in the path that led to my houſe, poſſeſſed with an idea that the awful hour was approaching, when the mercy of Heaven would ſnatch me from the miſeries of earth, I ſolemnly walked on, entered my building, bid a formal adieu to every object that had been intereſting to me, went into my chapel, knelt at the altar, put up a pathetic prayer, embraced the ſkulls, kiſſed the name of John Hewit in the bible, entered my tomb, encloſed myſelf, reclined upon my couch, and inſtantly in death, loſt the world and all its vanities.
2. HANNAH HEWIT.
BOOK VI. THE ADVENTURES OF HANNAH HEWIT FROM THE MOMENT SHE HAD A GLIMPSE OF HOPE TO THE COMPLETION OF HER HAPPINESS.
DEATH did I well call the ſleep into which I had fallen on my entering my tomb. It laſted me till the next morning, when I was awoke by a confuſed noiſe [Page 128] that iſſued from every apartment. It is aſtoniſhing how ſelf preſervation actuates the mind. My diſtraction was gone, my recollection was completely returned; I knew where I was, and knew there was ſome cauſe at hand that demanded vigourous reſolution.
I thanked fortune that had led me to this tomb, perhaps, to preſerve me. I plainly heard human voices, and reſolved to remain quiet that I might diſcover the truth. If thoſe I heard were friends, I had cauſe to thank Heaven that gave me an aſſylum to offer them, if enemies, reſpect for the dead would ſecure me an aſſylum in the ſilent tomb.
I had not long to deliberate before two men entered the chapel. "Why, hollo! Jack," cried one, "we are aboard a church." 'I told you,' ſaid the other, 'we ſhould be brought up at laſt. You [Page 129] would not believe what I told you yeſterday. You thought as I had got too much beer aboard, but the thing was as I ſaid.
'You ſee I was ſtrolling about to ſee how the land lay, thinking upon Jen Williams, when I thinks, thinks I, that there before me is either a ghoſt, or a devil, or a woman in a white gown. Now do you ſee, except a ſhip under ſail, I does not think that the world can produce you a ſight ſo lovely as a woman in a white gown.
'Well, you ſee I gave chace, and for a time ſtood after her pretty well; but ſhe, having a better chart of the courſe than I, hauled her wind and ſtood for ſome new cut, that I had not the ſkill to to weather; ſo, being obliged to double a point of land, I made ſo many trips that at laſt I found':—
"Well that being the caſe," ſaid his companion, "you ſay you can read, tell us what does they cyphers there mean upon that booby hutch in the corner." 'Why its ſomebody that's buried there,' ſaid the other.' "Read"! 'Yes, I believe I can, or elſe I ſhould never have been quarter-maſter.' Stay let me take a little bacco. Now for it: "Sacred, ſacred", don't you hear? you ſee we are in a ſacred place, Is your hat off? That's right, but come let us go on. "Sacred to the memory", 'Of Who?' "John Hewit!" 'Whew!' "who was ſhipwrecked on this coaſt June 9, 1783.' 'The devil he was! come along meſsmate.' "Why this is a pretty joke, ſaid the other, "let us find the captain." So without [Page 131] further ceremony they went out of the chapel.
My ſituation here the reader will eaſily conceive, I ſoon found I had no cauſe of alarm, for this diſcovery convinced me there muſt be ſome Engliſh ſhip upon the coaſt, and that I could be in no danger from my own countrymen, eſpecially with ſuch a ſtory as I had to tell. I was reſolved however to keep concealed till I had heard every thing; and in proportion as this intereſting converſation between the ſailors advanced, ſo my anxiety increaſed, but when I noticed the ſurprize, and thoſe equivocal expreſſions of the ſailors concerning my huſband, I thought my heart would have throbbed through my boſom. Being accuſtomed, however, to check every thing like Hope, I ſtill had the fortitude to remain ſilent.
Theſe obſervations paſſed over, and [Page 132] this reſolution was taken, as tranſient as a gleam of lightning. I found my whole place taken poſſeſſion of and voices iſſuing from every part. "Where! where!" preſently cried one, and then, as ſeveral perſons entered the chapel, one of them came up to my tomb and read, with great eagerneſs, 'Sacred to the memory of Hannah Hewit,' and was going on, when a voice cried out with great vehemence, "Thou maw deteſtable gorged with the deareſt morſel of the earth;" and then inſtantly, in a tone of diſtraction, another voice uttered, 'Oh Heaven have I lived to ſee this day!'
The firſt I thought was the voice of Binns, the ſecond of Walmeſley, and the laſt I knew to be that of my huſband. I could hold no longer; tearing open the doors of the tomb, and preſenting myſelf to their aſtoniſhed ſight, I flew to his arms, fell upon his neck, and burſt into tears of [Page 133] joy and gratitude, while Walmeſley flew about the room like a bedlamite, crying out, 'She lives, ſhe breathes, and we ſhall ſtill be bleſt; our kind propitious ſtars overpay us now for all our ſorrows paſt.'
The ſcene that followed nor tongue, nor pen, nor pencil can deſcribe. Surprize, pleaſute, anxiety, curioſity, every body felt, but nobody gratified. One affectionate enquiry was anſwered by another, all was confuſion and incoherence. Binns was delighted, Hewit was entranced, I was ſilently putting up a prayer to Heaven, and Walmeſley, in the language of Shakeſpeare, Rowe, and Otway, was invoking all the powers that protect virtue, to ſhower down bleſſings on our heads; when, to complete the groupe, entered to my unſpeakable delight and aſtoniſhment, my brother.
What could I think of all this? I [Page 134] knew, my heart knew, by a thouſand nameleſs and conſoling pleaſures, that I held Hewit in my arms; his heart palpitated in uniſon with mine; Binns appeared the affectionate friendly creature I had ever known him, poor Walmeſley, who knew no pleaſure but the happineſs of his friends, uttered through his memory the delight which his heart dictated; and my brother's manly ſoul ſtood confeſſed in his eyes, as he beheld his loved his long loſt ſiſter.
It was not, however, in the power of our beſt reſolution for a long time, to give us collection enough to elucidate the cauſe of this extraordinary meeting. Their wonder at finding me upon a deſolate iſland in the midſt of plenty; my aſtoniſhment at ſeeing ſo many friends, ſome of whom appeared to have ariſen from their graves, collected together; ſeemed ſuch a deluſion, that, had we [Page 135] been under the power of enchantment, we could not have exhibited a more ſtriking picture of doubtful certainty.
The queſtions of how can this be poſſible? by what accident could this happen? what power could have preſerved you? on their ſide, and how could you eſcape ſhipwreck? how did you meet together? what chance brought you here? on mine, being uttered almoſt all in a breath, each of which required a long and ſubſtantial anſwer; we found, after we had wearied ourſelves with inquiries, which it would take ſo much time to reſolve, we ſhould reap very little ſatisfaction till our prudence had got the better of our wonder.
Certain, therefore, of the fact, thankful to Providence for it, convinced that this was the Heavenly reward for my ſufferings, ſo myſteriouſly promiſed me; I propoſed [Page 136] that we ſhould for a ſhort time wave all curioſity; and, inſtead of enquiring how we had become happy, thank that Being in whoſe preſence we ſtood, and who had deigned to witneſs our union, that through his gracious goodneſs, we had thus miraculouſly met together.
In this propoſal every one willingly joined. Hewit claſped me to his heart, my brother ſaid I was ſtill his angel of a ſiſter, Binns lifted his eyes to Heaven, Walmeſley vociferated, 'then there are gods, and virtue is their care', and the poor ſailors ſaid they did not mind praying for a week together, if they had ſuch a chaplain; and after this, ſo ſweet a calm came acroſs our minds, that we were in a ſtate deliberately to diſcuſs the particulars of all our fortunes.
They agreed very willingly that my anxiety ſhould be gratified firſt; and as, of [Page 137] courſe, the adventures of my huſband were of the greateſt moment to me, I was very eager to hear them, we therefore adjourned from the chapel into the ſaloon, where after we had taken ſome refreſhment and had exchanged ſuch general intelligence, as that I had been caſt away in the Groſvenor, and eſcaped in an extraordinary manner to that iſland, where I had not ſeen a human creature alive for more than three years, and that they had met together in India, were now bound in a Dane to Europe, and had, by accident, put in there for water, Hewit was preparing to gratify my curioſity, when my brother, who had been whiſpering Binns, ſaid, 'that as there was nothing in Hewit's adventures he was a ſtranger to, he had better go aboard and ſee how matters were going on there.'
Binns took the ſailors with him, and [Page 138] I was left with my brother, Walmeſley, and Hewit; who now, at my earneſt deſire, proceeded to relate a long train of adventures, having, in anſwer to my anxious enquiry, firſt ſatisfied me that my ſon was alive and in perfect health.
MY brother aſked me if I had any ſuch thing as a pipe, and being anſwered in the negative, ſaid, no matter he had a ſagar in his pocket; which having lighted, and made a bowl of arrack punch, he told Hewit to leave off fondling and begin, deſiring Walmeſley to pay attention, who anſwered, that he could ſit all night to hear good counſel.
Hewit, who knew exactly how much [Page 140] I had learnt from my brother, ſaid, 'My dear Hannah will recollect in what diſtraction of mind I wrote that letter to captain Higgins, in which I mentioned that I was fully convinced of her innocence through the information of her wretched brother; who, unnatural as he had been certainly, as his end approached, appeared deſirous of attoning for the miſery he had brought upon a ſiſter who had no fault but the poſſeſſion of that honour to which he had ever been a ſtranger.
'But,' ſaid he, 'let us not dwell on that; whatever might be his crimes, they were expiated by the forfeiture of his life.' "They were", ſaid Walmſley, I ſaw him die. No action of his life became him like the leaving it."
'It was through him,' continued Hewit, 'that Sourby had, by means of Mrs. Vint, found out the circumſtance of your being ſituated in a lodging near town; [Page 141] and if he had not been taken up, ſome diabolical ſcheme would certainly have been ſet on foot againſt your honour.
'Having, however, enough to turn his thoughts to, he, of courſe, deſiſted; and as that good lady could not, or would not, inform him exactly where you were, becauſe, not to mince the matter, ſhe was determined only to aſſiſt his deſigns againſt you in proportion, as ſhe ſucceeded in her deſigns againſt me, he never was particularly acquainted with your reſidence, and, therefore, you may be aſſured I was not.
'If I could have put on the character of Sourby, I might, perhaps, have made an inſtrument of Mrs. Vint to have diſcovered you; but as my return to her fulſome love was invective and contemptuouſneſs, I gained nothing by this half intelligence; and it is probable, that till this [Page 142] moment I ſhould have been utterly in the dark concerning you, had not the ſtrangeſt accident in the world conducted me, but not till it was too late, to your lodgings.
'Being perpetually upon the look out near town, in hopes that ſome fortunate accident might guide me to you, I fell in at Strombolo Gardens, near Chelſea, with a ſurgeon of the name of Greenhead, who ſailed aboard your brother. He went afterwards as ſurgeon to a man of war, and had now a family, and was ſettled very reputably at Chelſea,
'This gentleman knew me only by the name of Walmeſley; and in conſequence of the regard he had for your brother, and the many gales we had weathered together, he received me very cordially.' I knew him, ſaid I, he is as good a creature as ever exiſted. 'I will convince you in [Page 143] a minute,' ſaid Hewit, 'that we mean the ſame man.
'I called on him one day, and finding him in his ſtudy, where he had a kind of muſeum, I noticed in a frame the figure of a coffin lid. I began to joke the doctor and allude to the ſervant, who underſtanding conſequences upon being ſent for the apothecary brought the ſurgeon, the phyſician, the parſon, and the the undertaker.'
"If you knew the ſtory of that buſineſs," ſaid he, "you would not jeſt. I would not take an hundred guineas for it. The lady it concerns is now on her way to India, the device was done by her pencil, and the inſcription is in her own hand writing. She drew and wrote it as a pattern for the undertaker to make a coffin plate, who buried her child."
the daughter of John and Hannah Hewit,
Auguſt 4, 1776,
December 26, 1780.’
"Why you are mad," ſaid my friend, "your child!" 'My child, anſwered I diſtractedly, I murdered it. I broke her heart by my infamous ſuſpicions, who was as immaculate as innocence; drove her to penury and want, and then this inoffenſive little one, the victim of my folly, became a prey to poverty and diſeaſe.'
"No, no," ſaid Greenhead, "that never would have been the caſe while it had a mother who was one of the moſt ingenius and induſtrious woman that ever exiſted." 'Add, ſaid I, the moſt amiable, and the moſt wronged.' "I am afraid ſo," anſwered he, "for though [Page 145] her delicacy and prudence prevented her from complaining, it was evident ſhe had a huſband who little deſerved ſo much virtue and goodneſs. But, Mr. Walmeſley, ſaid he, I had no idea, when I took you by the hand as an old friend, who I had known to poſſeſs all the manly honour of a true tar, that I ſhould be obliged to upbraid you with having, under the feigned name of Hewit, betrayed and abandoned a woman that would have done honour to the firſt abilities and the firſt diſtinction.
'I told him his reproach did him credit and me juſtice. I accuſed myſelf of the moſt egregious folly and raſhneſs, but aſſured him, that if he would have the patience to liſten to me, he would find there was nothing villainous nor diſhonourable in what I had done. I then entered into every thing, told him my real name was Hewit, and my feigned name Walmeſley; acquainted with my reaſons for my conduct [Page 146] in that buſineſs, and this brought out to his aſtoniſhment that you were the ſiſter of captain Higgins. In ſhort I concealed nothing from him, not even my being undeceived by your brother, nor my advertiſements in the newſpapers, and finiſhed by ſaying that I had been now upon the look out near to [...]n for your reſidence, more than four months, which I ſhould never, perhaps, have diſcovered, if it had not been for this extraordinary accident.
'He heartily pitied me, ſaid it gave him particular pleaſure to find himſelf ſo agreeably undeceived, and promiſed me every friendſhip and aſſiſtance in his power. He lamented very much that he had not diſcovered your being the ſiſter of captain Higgins, in which caſe, he ſaid, you ſhould have been in his own houſe, and he would have acted the part of a brother by you, until he could have given you into the hands of a repentant huſband; but added he, ſhe was ſo reſerved and ſo cautious, [Page 147] that it would have been highly improper and indeed totally uſeleſs, to have exacted from her more than ſhe was willing to diſcloſe; ſo I choſe to prove myſelf a friend by attention and reſpect, inſtead of being curious about what I had no right to know, and which I was ſure, by the propriety of her conduct, ſhe had both a delicate and an honorable motive for concealing.
'Greenhead and I that very day paid a viſit to your lodgings, where the good woman of the houſe, underſtanding who I was, gave me a very ſevere lecture, for which I thanked her moſt ſincerely. She confirmed the intelligence of your being on your way to India, informed me that ſhe herſelf had ſeen you aboard, and ſaid God would bleſs and protect you whereever you went; for that you was a thouſand times better than any huſband deſerved; and as for me, if I was to take [Page 148] a hundred years to repent, I could not be good enough to merit ſuch a wife.
'This good lady conducted us to Mr. Morris's houſe, where I got another ſcolding which I not only bore with patience, but received with gratitude. When they found how infamouſly I had been deceived, and how proper my intentions were, they gave me every intelligence they could reſpecting you; and really, as I had no doubt of finding you with your brother, who you know I had long perſuaded you to join, I began to entertain hopes that a few months would again unite us.
'As ſoon as the ſeaſon came round, I made an early application to get out to India, but could not ſucceed on board any ſhip bound to Surat. I therefore, was obliged to put up with a birth in the London bound to Madras, where I ſafely arrived the 4th of Auguſt, 1782.' "Then ſaid I, you arrived ſafely in the London, at [Page 149] Madras, on the very day I was ſhipwrecked in the Groſvenor, on the coaſt of Africa.
'My ſweet Hannah,' ſaid Hewit, 'what thou haſt endured! would I could have added it to the ſevere hardſhips which have been my lot ſince that day. But if a life of love and repentance—' "Avaſt, avaſt," ſaid my brother, "keep your love and repentance till you get alone. I ſuppoſe you can let us turn in here, Hannah?" 'Oh yes, ſaid I, I have plenty of accommodation for you all;' "and any proviſions?" 'Plenty;' "that is enough; Jack go on with your ſtory, I want to hear her's."
'Well,' continued Hewit, 'from the moment I fet my foot aſhore in India, I was unlucky in every thing I undertook. As the moſt rational mode of proceeding, I took a paſſage in a coaſter, and in eleven weeks arrived at Surat. There, by a [Page 150] letter left for me by your brother, with one encloſed from you, I learnt every thing I wanted to know; and as you conjured me to return immediately to England, I, long determined never again to do any thing but obey your wiſhes, ſought for a ſhip without delay.
'It unluckily happened that the Engliſh ſhips had all returned, which were bound from the Malabar coaſt; and as we were at war with France, at leaſt the news of the peace had not reached India, I thought I ſhould find it difficult to get a paſſage in a Frenchman, beſides, you know I don't much ſtomach the people.
'It was, however, no time for me to be nice. Week after week paſſed away, and I grew at laſt very impatient, till hearing that the Entrepreneur, a French Eaſt-Indiaman from Rajahpore to Bordeaux, was ready to ſail from the Dutch port of [Page 151] Cannonore, I ſignified to an old ſkipper your brother knew, that I ſhould be glad to work my paſſage in her. He, who was a linguiſt and knew the trim of theſe things, undertook to bring me through the buſineſs. I paſſed among the Dutch for a Frenchman, and among the French for a Dutch man; but finding the matter more difficult than I apprehended, I was upon the point of giving it up when an accident moſt unexpectedly brought it about for me.
'I met a lady one day whom I thought I had ſomewhere ſeen. She ſtopt under the ſame idea to look at me.' "Binns in the play-houſe lobby, ſaid I, but I won't be jealous." 'No, my ſweet Hannah,' ſaid he, you have too much good ſenſe to be guilty of any ſuch egregious ſolly, for egregious it was, as you will find when you know all.
'Well, we ſoon knew each other. [Page 152] You remember I had the good fortune in Paris, to ſave the life of a little boy, whom I ſnatched from under the wheels of a coach, which, a moment later, would have gone over him. His danger was firſt announced by the ſcreams of his ſiſter. Madmoiſelle Dupont, ſaid I, I have thought of it an hundred times, as one of the many providental circumſtances that have come to my knowledge.' "Well, it was Madmoiſelle Dupont you met; I recollect ſhe went to India." 'She did,' ſaid Hewit,' 'not after an unkind, unworthy huſband as you did, but to find a kind and a worthy one, his name was D'Oliviere.
"D'Oliviere, ſaid I, gracious Heaven! Then riſing and opening the door that led to the chapel, do you ſee that altar, thoſe ſkulls? They are the ſkulls of that wretched couple." 'The ways of Heaven,' ſaid Walmeſley, 'are dark and intricate, puzzled with mazes, and perplexed with errors.' "Why where are we got?" ſaid my [Page 153] brother, "one would think this was Lapland, and that we were among the witches!" 'Well, but,' ſaid Hewit, in aſtoniſhment, 'if this is the caſe—' "Be calm, ſaid I, and go on with your ſtory, I ſhall aſtoniſh you more before I have done."
'Well,' ſaid Hewit, 'this lady introduced me to her huſband; who learning the nature of her obligations to me, though only a paſſenger himſelf, and of courſe without power aboard, ſaid he had no doubt but he could prevail upon the captain to take me. This he did; I was to work my paſſage, and this good lady and gentleman promiſed to ſhew me every attention in their power, which promiſe they faithfully kept.
'And now began my troubles with a witneſs. We had not two days in ſucceſſion that we could call good weather, [Page 154] for almoſt four months. We were for ever ſcudding juſt as the wind thought proper to kick us. At laſt, in the tougheſt gale I ever ſaw, or, I hope, ever ſhall, we got bump aſhore—'
"Between thoſe rocks, ſaid I." 'Here!' ſaid Hewit, 'why what a fine reckoning we kept then! To be ſure we had not ſeen fun, nor moon, nor hardly one another, for ſix or eight days. We all thought we were near the Cape. Oh it was moſt ſhocking work! I fired the firſt ſignal of diſtreſs.' "You did, ſaid I, you noted it in your ſignal book, and wiſhed that I might be praying for you when at that very moment I was on my knees invoking every power to bleſs and protect you."
'Divine creature! ſaid Hewit, 'is it poſſible I could be ſo near happineſs, and yet deprived of every bleſſing? But I had not ſuffered enough, my crime was not ſufficiently puniſhed. Well, after [Page 155] firing three or four times more, our ſignals were anſwered by a blaze of light from the ſhore,' "which proceeded from a pile of wood that I had ſet fire to, ſaid I, I felt, I almoſt knew you were there, and my love for my huſband inſpired the thought. Go on."
'Finding,' continued Hewit, 'that at every ſignal the flame increaſed, we agreed to lay by till day-light and then venture aſhore in our boats. In the firſt that was hoiſted out I got a place. It was then ſcarcely day and with all our ſkill we could not make the ſhore; but, being by the ſurge driven round the point of a rock, we preſently found ourſelves out at ſea.
'There were nineteen in the boat, ſeven of whom including myſelf, after beating about at the mercy of the elements for ſix days, without any proviſion but which had been ſnatched up at the moment of leaving the ſhip, were taken up by the Adventure, [Page 156] a brig bound to the South Seas upon diſcoveries. Of the remainder ſome were waſhed overboard and others died of fatigue or hunger.
'What became, therefore, of the reſt of the crew and paſſengers of the Entrepeneur I knew not.' "They all, ſaid I, periſhed in my ſight, except ten, who remained on board the wreck. Their bodies I afterwards found and conſigned to the grave. Among theſe were Monſieur and Madame D'Oliviere, whoſe bones and ſkulls I preſerved in ſacred remembrance of a huſband and wife, who died in each others arms."
"I NOW begin," ſaid my brother, "to ſee how you came by your geer, and all this plenty about you. I did not know what to think of it at firſt; but pray who built this fine palace of yours?" 'I did, ſaid I.' "Well," ſaid he, "you ſhall tell us all about it. Upon my ſoul if I did not know you to be my ſiſter, I ſhould take you to be ſome Queen of the Fairies in the Arabian Nights Entertainments. This looks more like magic than reality."
[Page 158] 'Well,' ſaid I, let Hewit finiſh his ſtory and then I'll convince you, however wonderful appearances may ſeem, under the guidance of Providence that has graciouſly protected me, every thing here has been created by the ſuggeſtions of my fancy, and the labour of my hands.' "Where ſhall my wonder or my praiſe begin ſaid Walmeſley." 'Wet your whiſtle and go on with your ſtory Jack,' ſaid my brother, Hannah here's God bleſs thee my girl.'
'The adventure as I told you," ſaid Hewit, was bound on a voyage of diſcoveries. Her orders were to get if poſſible eighteen degrees beyond the antartic circle. It ſeems that ſome notable diſcoverer had proved in a long treatiſe, to the ſatisfaction of the Royal Society, that there was certainly an untouched continent in the South Sea; which when it ſhould be once taken poſſeſſion of, would make all thoſe in numerable iſlands tributary to it, [Page 159] juſt as almoſt imperceptible gobules of quickſilver, are ſwept into one large body. So to find this continent in nubibus they ſailed; and, that they might do the thing in a ſeamanlike manner, they ſtood away from England for the Azores, and thence directly acroſs the Atlantic to Davis's Straits, upon this principle; that, as Columbus in looking for the Eaſt Indies found out the Weſt, ſo by keeping to the North they ſhould have the whole South before them; or, ſaid I, as dogs get to that hedge oppoſite to the weather, that they may better ſnuff up the air of the whole field.
'Our captain lent me the whole treatiſe, and to be ſure it contained ſome of the moſt curious reaſoning that ever entered the imagination of a bedlamite; and all to prove that this continent was eaſily diſcoverable. I muſt give you one inſtance of it.
[Page 160] 'All the world knows ſays this reaſoner, thanks to Sir Iſaac Newton, that the world is not exactly ſpherical; but I ſhall hazard a much ſtronger opinion, which if it prove truth, may, perhaps, take in not only the various errors in relation to the longitude, but all errors and variations of every deſcription, and ſhew the origin of winds, tides, currents, vortexes, and every other ſpecies of natural phenomenae, to be matters as ſelf evident as daylight.
'My conjecture is this. The globe is not only flatted at the poles but regularly all over, like a circular building in cants, making 129,600 ſquare degrees. Thus the French philoſophers meaſured a ſhort degree towards the pole, and a long one at the equator, not, however, becauſe there is any real difference between two given degrees, but becauſe, I beg I may be attended to, they hit at one place upon the two [Page 161] oppoſite points of a quadrangle, and at the other they meaſured from parallel to parallel, which is alſo the boundary of the ſquare. So that Sir Iſaac Newton, this admitted, triumphed by accident; for, had the angular meaſurement been taken at the pole and the parallel at the equator, Caſſini would have reaped an honour which chance, at which, out of love to my dear country, I rejoice, conferred on our immortal Engliſhman.
'Thus like the ſpiculae in the circulation of mercury, which are as it were ſo many weapons that enable the quickſilver to fight with its natural enemy the diſeaſe, are the points of theſe angles a well imagined defence to combat with winds, meteors, and other elementary foes; and I ſhould hope no one will be abſurd enough to contradict ſo reaſonable a doctrine, ſince every creature has its means of defence from a gnat to a rhinorceros, and a [Page 162] man muſt be mad, indeed, to contend that nature, who gave briſtles to the hedgehog, and quils to the porcupine, could be ſo ſcandalouſly improvident, as to ſend the world into ſuch a war of elements unarmed.
'Beſides I ſhall go further. The moon is unqueſtionably armed in the ſame manner, and what is called her horns are no other than thoſe very angles. The poets indeed, by this expreſſion have taken leave to ſay, that the earth and the moon are a lantern to each other, but they have miſtaken the truth; they are a mirror to each other, or rather a multitude of ſquare mirrors regularly framed; otherwiſe how could they convey ſo ſtrong a light by reflection? a diamond emits the beſt reflected brilliancy of any object known to us, but even that gem gives it not in perfection, till it has been in the hands of the lapidary; therefore, without any great ſtretch of probability, it is not [Page 163] hard to believe that an unpoliſhed lump of land and water could convey ſo cheerful a light, at ſuch an immenſe diſtance, and that merely by reflection, had not nature turned lapidary and given it this exquiſite poliſh, which was, perhaps, the change it underwent when it aroſe out of Chaos. Nay, did not the ſun's warmth contradict me, I ſhould ſay that the difference of his luſtre, compared to the luſtre of the moon, aroſe merely from this circumſtance, that one was ſlightly poliſhed in the manner of a table diamond, and the other highly like a brilliant.
'Encouraged by all this fine reaſoning to find out a continent in the South Sea, was the Adventure, pelting on, as I ſaid before, towards the antartic circle. For my part I ſhould have been better pleaſed if ſhe had been bound for England, but it was not my buſineſs to ſtart difficulties with people who had juſt ſaved my life.
[Page 164] 'They were glad enough to get us aboard, being rather barren of hands; three of the crew having died of the ſcurvy, one having been knocked out the boat by the tail of a grampus, four left upon a deſolate iſland, becauſe they excited a mutiny, and two poor devils having been killed and eaten by ſavages.
'I don't know what ſort of advantage people propoſe to themſelves in theſe voyages of diſcovery; I ſoon, for one thing diſcovered that we were all a ſet of fools. At one place where we landed we were pleaſed enough to ſcamper back again as hard as we could drive for fear of being knocked in the head; and at other places we were glad to come off without being roaſted, or devoured by crocodiles.
'To be ſure, as a mighty affair, we did take poſſeſſion of a barren iſland; and after having buried with great ſolemnity a Queen Anne's farthing, an Iriſh harp, [Page 165] and a Scotch bank note, we ſet up a poſt with a writing on it in large characters, juſt as you put up ſteel traps and ſpring guns, to inform all thoſe Phaenecians, Malayans, Japaneſe, and other inhabitants of that quarter of the globe, who happened to underſtand Engliſh, that this lump of ſand, which we had dignified by the title of New Britain, was from that date to be conſidered as a part of the Engliſh territories.
'We penetrated as far as we could ſouthward, and landed at ſeveral places, which were certainly iſlands, or pieces of floating ice. At laſt, being very ſhort of proviſions, and eaten up with the ſcurvy, we were obliged to return as wiſe as we went; and having in our way back bought feathers, frogs, and flying cats, which we paid for with tenpenny nails, and having, beſides, collected a prodigious number of humming birds, ſhells, ſnakes eggs, fiſh down, crocodiles' teeth; crabs' eyes, together with two and twenty claſſes [Page 166] of animalculae, and numberleſs other articles, after being out a year and a half, all which time we were never within ſixty degrees of the line, we arrived in a moſt crazy condition at Manilla.
'I was now in the moſt curious place I had ever touch at in my life, for the people being of all nations and perſuaſions, revile, trick, and laugh at one another. the Chineſe cheat the Malays, the Malays the Ethiopians, the Pintendos rob the Portugeſe, while all join together to elude the vigilence of the Spaniards, who, in their turn, laugh at the Engliſh for ſuffering them to ſit down quietly in their government, though they never paid more than half their ranſom.
'Being refitted and well victualed, for our captain had good credentials to ſhew, both from government and the Royal Society, we ſailed, with a fair wind, to edify the Engliſh with the wonderful diſcoveries we had made; but ſcarcely had [Page 167] we paſſed the Gulf of Siam and got into the Straights of Mallacca, when we were captured by a French pirate of conſiderable force, which was bound to Pekin with a cargo of Jeſuits on board.
'Theſe Jeſuits having confiſcated ſome religious treaſure, had determined to tranſport themſelves from France, to avoid the fury of the government. The government, however, was too cunning for them; for, getting ſcent of their fraud and not wiſhing to brand them publickly in France, on account of the veil they think it politic to throw over the peculations of prieſts, the captain of the veſſel which the Jeſuits had hired, received a private order from the general of the police, to deprive them of their ill gotten wealth when they ſhould arrive in a certain latitude, to fix a mark of infamy upon their ſhoulders, and then leave them aſhore on the coaſt of Africa.
[Page 168] 'When they came to the place where this ſcene was to be acted, one of the Jeſuits, having overheard a converſation between the captain and his chief mate, ſaw into the whole buſineſs; upon which a private counſel was held among the Jeſuits, and a motion was carried to throw the captain and the mate overboard, and ſeize the ſhip. This was executed almoſt as ſoon as reſolved. The captain, the mate, and two or three others, were huſtled into the ſea, and the reſt expeditiouſly battened down below, where they were told their treatment would depend upon their conduct.
'After a long parly, it was agreed that the ſailors ſhould be at liberty to trade upon their own bottoms as pirates, the Jeſuits only deſiring to be landed ſafely with their property at China, and it was in their way there they had met with and captured us. We had now our choice [Page 169] either to turn pirates and cruiſe in company, or to be ſet aſhore on the firſt deſolate iſland, to become a prey to wild beaſts.
'Two of the French men were yet alive who had been ſaved out of the Entrepreneur. Theſe begged they might accompany the Jeſuits, and join in their laudable plan of converting the inhabitants of China to the true faith. This being agreed to, they were decorated with a mock tonſor, and enveloped in a piece of old black baize. In this ſituation they took an oath to adhere to the intereſts of the fraternity and to keep its ſecrets, which the Jeſuits ſwore was the only ceremony of induction they had ever gone through.
'As to the captain, myſelf and the reſt of the crew, by way of chooſing the leaſt of two evils, we agreed to join the [Page 170] pirates and thus every body being ſatisfied, we proceeded towards China with a fair wind.
'Being now all rogues alike, it was agreed that every man ſhould relate his adventures. The ſailors had very little more to ſay than that they had made a number of voyages, the profits of which they had ſpent as ſoon as poſſible after their arrival in port; and that they had been perpetually the dupes of proſtitutes and falſe friends, none of whom would acknowledge them whenever they came home in diſtreſs.
'As for the Jeſuits their lives were curious enough. If it won't tire you I will repeat ſome of the particulars. I begged he would. One of them ſaid he was the left-hand ſon of one nobleman, and had been page to another, from whoſe family he was driven out for theft. After this, rather than ſtarve, he amuſed himſelf [Page 171] with picking pockets in the churches while he was kneeling for a benediction; but being detected one day by a prieſt who had ſtood in admiration of his dexterity, he had got him admitted as porter to a convent of Carthuſian monks; and having qualified himſelf in every reſpect for trading upon his own foundation, he was admitted into the brotherhood; where he had procured as much wealth to be left to the church, that is to ſay to him and his fraternity, as had occaſioned the ruin of forty individuals; he had abſolved ſeveral ſinners of ſacrilege, upon condition they gave him back their plunder, he had had thirteen children, though he had taken the vow of celibacy whom he had bred up, the boys being eight in number, till they were of a proper age to ſend as a venture to the new world, and made the girls nuns in a certain convent, where he had connived at the deſtruction of their virtue, to enrich himſelf with the contributions of their ſeducers.
[Page 172] 'He ſaid in the commiſſion of theſe and innumerable other pranks equally attrocious, he had taken care to lead a life of the moſt edifying ſanctity; till the reputation of his ſuperior cunning had attracted the notice of the Jeſuits, who had invited him to become a member of their order, in which ſituation he had acted to their advantage and his own.
'A ſecond ſaid, that having been a captain of dragoons, and killed a man in a duel, he had fled to the church for ſanctuary; where being admitted till the matter could be huſhed up, he liked the converſation of the prieſts ſo well, that under a pretence of ſorrow for having committed murder, he had prevailed upon them to admit him a member of their ſociety.
'He ſaid he had been guilty, with very little variation, of all the crimes related by his holy brother; but having a forwarder, and more open degree of impudence [Page 173] than his companions, one of whom took upon him to be very laviſh of his admonitions, he was determined to be revenged; when finding his ſanctified preceptor rather too familiar with a certain abbeſs, of whoſe favours he himſelf had been a partaker, he took the liberty of chucking the gentleman out of the window, which was ſo reſented by the order, that the conſequence would have been fatal to himſelf but for the abbeſs, who would not give him up.
'This ſpirited conduct of the lady, added he, who they knew if they accuſed would recriminate, brought about a parley: when it was agreed that under a new appelation I ſhould take the enſigns of another order, and that they would give out that I had been put to death in private for the murder of the friar, by a particular inquiſitorial mandate, which they actually obtained for that purpoſe. The Jeſuits, he ſaid, had received him amongſt them, [Page 174] and what had paſſed ſince was not unknown to the company.
'A third ſaid, he could prove his lineal deſcent from the very prieſt who had the immortal honour, or, as ſome ſay, execration, of propoſing the firſt expedition to the Holy Land. His own birth was, indeed, rather obſcure, being ſon to a man who got his bread by making crucifixes, and painting flames upon the black baize, uſed at every auta de fe.
'He ſaid, that being twelve years old, he was made a ſort of runner to a priſon of the Inquiſition; where, being obſerved to have a particular taſte for augmenting the miſery of the victims, he was early promoted to be one of the torturers, in which religious practice he would be bold to ſay, he had introduced more ingenious refinements than one would think the wit of man could invent, or the heart permit him to exerciſe; and all this, he ſaid, he found [Page 175] the more neceſſary, becauſe, people under the influence of that holy court, were tortured to confeſs ſins they had never committed. The Jeſuits, however, he ſaid cajoled him from this ſituation, though ſo extremely pleaſant and comfortable, well knowing that a man ſo brought up would be a conſiderable acquiſition to their community.
'A fourth ſaid, he had been a Jew; but, having ridiculed ſome of the ceremonies of that religion, and in particular their abſtinence from pork, he had been anathematized, and his hair, toe nails, ſpine, marrow, kidneys, midriff, brains, arteries, ſkin, lungs, teeth, bowels, muſcles, head, heels, and every other part about him, ſolemnly and formally damned to all eternity.
'Thus deſerted by his own religion, he thought he could not do better than place himſelf under the protection of ſome other. He, therefore, turned mahometan, and was ſoon after the principal projector of the [Page 176] largeſt fire that ever happened among the Jewiſh inhabitants of Conſtantinople.
'At this fire, he ſaid, he got pretty warm; but fearing he ſhould be found out as the ringleader of the miſchief, he took the earlieſt opportunity of leaving that part of the world. The riches, however, that he had ſaved out of the fire, went as merily as they came; for falling in with a rover, he was carried into Algiers and ſold for a ſlave. He, however, contrived, in conjunction with two Roman Catholic prieſts to raiſe an inſurrection; and having murdered their maſter and his family, and ſeized one of his ſhips, they releaſed the crews of two galleys, and finally arrived at a Spaniſh in port ſafety.
'Knowing it would be to no purpoſe to ſeek a reconciliation with the faithful, he turned Methodiſt; in which ſituation he had ſent ſeven old women to bedlam, induced one miſerable ſinner to poiſon himſelf that he might have a freer communication with his wife, and made ſeveral others become bankrupts to the ruin of their families.
'He was whipt and tranſported from England, branded in Holland, puniſhed with the ſingle knout in Ruſſia, and baniſhed to the copper mines in Siberia, whence he eſcaped in company with eight other ſlaves, namely, a philoſopher, a bigot, a prieſt, a Jew, a French trooper, an Italian [Page 178] ſinger, a Portugeſe bravo, and an Engliſh traveller; the latter of whom, when their diſtreſſes became intollerable, politely hung himſelf that they might eat him.
'Having travelled, he ſaid, through a prodigious tract of country, during which time they ſuffered innumerable hardſhips, they arrived at Eaſtern Tartary, where, by the prieſt's advice, they converted a hord of ſavages, and afterwards plundered them to procure the means of their eſcape into Europe; where, after a time, having arrived in ſafety, his friend, the prieſt, had procured him admiſſion into the community of the Jeſuits.
'Having given you, ſaid Hewet, this ſample of theſe holy hypocrites, you will not wonder that the captain of the Adventure and I formed a ſcheme to get out of their clutches. The pirates had at firſt put one of their own people to command our ſhip, and diſtributed our crew among [Page 179] their own, but after a time they did not think this precaution neceſſary; for, finding that we met them half way in every thing, and that we were more anxious for plunder when we fell in with a prize than they, all which conduct was put on, as a point of honour and a proof of their confidence, they reinſtated the captain in his command and gave the crew preciſely their former ſituations.
'The pirates had formed a deſign to rob the Jeſuits before they ſhould come to port, in which deſign we pretended to agree, and the Jeſuits, on their part, had concerted a plan to give up the pirates to juſtice, and make the ſhip and cargo their own. How they managed, however, I neither know nor care. As ſoon as an opportunity offered we gave them the ſlip in the night, exactly as Walmeſley and I had tricked the attorney and the butcher, and in about a month afterwards, now four [Page 180] months ago, I had the good fortune to join company with captain Higgins, Walmeſley, and a few other friends at Bengal.
"With them I embarked in a Dane for Europe; and being for once in my life under the power of a guardian angel, my puniſhments are paſt, and I am at laſt, in your arms, rewarded for my conſtancy and perſeverance. And now, my dear Hannah, ſo may I proſper as I ſolemnly and ſacredly adhere to every deſire of yours.' "Swear," ſaid Walmeſley, 'I do,' ſaid Hewit, 'to obey whatever ſhe deſires, as I would the command of ſome ſuperior power, on whoſe pleaſure my life and happineſs depended.'
"Well, perhaps, I may put you to the trial, ſaid I." 'Do,' ſaid Hewit, 'never will I indulge an idea, a wiſh, or a deſire, but what ſhall be dictated by you.' "It is deeply ſworn," ſaid Walmeſley. 'If [Page 181] he ſhould break it now,' ſaid my brother. "Come, come," cried Hewit, "I cannot bear a jeſt on this ſubject; I ſhould be the moſt infamous of all villains could I do otherwiſe than implicitly ſtudy the wiſhes of ſo much goodneſs and virtue."
HEWIT having finiſhed his ſtory, I was very ſolicitous to hear what had happened to the reſt, and particularly to Binns, the myſtery of whoſe long abſence and various adventures, which, of courſe, they could unravel, excited in me the higheſt curioſity. My brother, however, inſiſted upon having every thing in order, nor could I even prevail on them to tell me how Walmeſley came alive, who, as we had been over and over again informed, died in Ireland.
[Page 183] My brother ſaid that Binns would relate his own ſtory, which I ſhould find intereſting enough; and as to Walmeſley, he ſhould give us his the next morning at Breakfaſt, for that there would hardly be time enough to hear mine that night, and he was determined not to turn in till he had learnt every particular.
Finding I had nothing elſe for it, I did as he deſired me, taking up my ſtory from the time I ſailed in the Groſvenor, every thing that had paſſed before, being, of courſe known to them through him, from whom I had concealed no part of my adventures. The dreadful hardſhips I had with my poor companions ſuſtained on the coaſt of Africa, excited the tendereſt intereſt in the breaſt of Hewit and my brother; and as to poor Walmeſley, he was every now and then ſtalking about and uttering, "By day and night but this is wonderous ſtrange," or ſome other quotation from a play.
[Page 184] But when I came to ſpeak of Sourby and his carrying me off, I thought poor Hewit would have fallen from his ſeat.' "Oh the villain," ſaid he, "born to thwart my happineſs in every part of the world! Tell me, my dear Hannah—" Make yourſelf eaſy, ſaid I, my honour was preſerved by M'Daniel the carpenter's mate, who you knew brother.
"I did know him," ſaid my brother, "he was always a good lad—What is become of him?" 'He landed with me, ſaid I, on this iſland, but he did not ſurvive an hour; he had received his death blow from Sourby.' "What an infernal villain!" ſaid my brother. "Well, all the poor lad wiſhed was to provide for his aged mother; I know where to find her, and I'll take care, for his ſake, ſhe ſhall never want."
'But what became of Sourby?' ſaid my huſband, haſtily. "Are there no [Page 185] bolts in Heaven?" ſaid Walmeſley. 'Do tell me,' ſaid my brother, 'that the horrible ſcoundrel was blaſted by a flaſh of lightning, or that the devil fetched him away alive, or ſome thing or other, to eaſe my curioſity.' "He was ſwallowed in my preſence, ſaid I, by a ſhark."
'That's right! that's right!' ſaid my brother. "Gracious, juſt, and merciful God," ſaid Hewit, "thy hand was there." 'Well,' but ſaid Walmeſley, 'that ſhark was a cannibal;' 'Owing I ſuppoſe,' ſaid my brother, 'to his being bred up upon the coaſt of Africa. He muſt have had a delicious meal; it would have given me pleaſure to have minced it for him, a little beforehand.'
Well, well, ſaid I, but if you interrupt me in this manner, I ſhall never get to the end of my ſtory, and you will pleaſe to recollect I am anxious to hear [Page 186] yours. "I beg your pardon," ſaid my brother, "it is your fault Jack, you are ſo curſedly impatient—go on Hannah;" then taking up the bowl, "Here's may the devil be merciful to him, and that's more than he deſerves."
I now methodized all I had already told them, and then went regularly on with what I had further to ſay. They commiſerated the fate of poor M'Daniel, wondered at my aſtoniſhing perſeverence, could ſcarcely conceive how I had kept my ſenſes in the midſt of ſo many and ſuch extraordinary trials, admired the ſecundity of my genius in which I had found ſo many various and comfortable reſources, all which they could ſcarcely have credited, had they not well known my abilities, and the wonderful fortitude with which Heaven had endowed me.
The whole buſineſs of the ſhipwreck, and the ingenious means by which I had [Page 187] ſupplied myſelf with whatever I wanted, were next ſubjects of their admiration. After this I came to my wonderful eſcape from the lioneſs, my return to the cavern, the particulars of thoſe documents I had found in Hewit's cheſt, my domeſticating the young lion, which almoſt excited in Hewit another fit of jealouſly, for I told him I had had a companion whoſe worth and fidelity I ſhould ever regret; that he had watched me, valued me, and loved me; that he was my conſtant companion, my faithful friend, and my generous protector; that at laſt he loſt his life in defence of my honour, and, that no tears were ever more poignant or more ſincere, than thoſe I had ſhed at his death.
He anſwered generouſly to this, that he held my honour in ſo ſacred a light that he would anſwer with his life for the propriety of my conduct, whatever it might turn out upon an explanation. I told him [Page 188] he did me juſtice, and that he would deplore the loſs of the noble creature I had alluded to, as much as I did.
I then explained myſelf, and they were delighted at the circumſtance, which I was charmed to find they did not conſider as any thing extraordinary. My brother ſaid that a laſcar uſed to traverſe the wilds of Arabia, as a meſſenger from the different armies with no other guide or protector than a lion, from whoſe carcaſe he had plucked a poiſoned arrow, and by ſucking the wound had cured it; and he might ſtill, ſaid he, have had the generous creature for his guide, but that a certain nabob thought it expedient to hang the laſcar to prevent his telling tales. Leo, however, revenged him; for, though he came too late to ſave his benefactors life, to the aſtoniſhment of the populace, he flew at the executioner and tore him to pieces; and, perhaps, he might have done [Page 189] the ſame by the nabob if he could have got at him, and no harm into the bargain.
Hewit ſaid that Leo's mother was the moſt harmleſs creature that ever was ſeen, for that the officer who had the care of her uſed to play with her like a cat, and as to Walmeſley, he ſaid he would rather truſt a lion than a man at any time; for, ſaid he, truſt not a man he is by nature falſe, diſſembling, fickle, cruel, and ungrateful; but a lion, Oh the gentle monſter! why I once at a country fair put my head into a lion's mouth out of a bit of fun.
Indeed, indeed, ſaid I, Hewit you muſt forgive me if I think of Leo as long as I live with the greateſt tenderneſs. He was my faithful friend, my kind companion, my willing aſſiſtant. He was ſent me by providence to leſſen my labours, to alleviate my diſtreſſes, to preſerve my honour, to be my generous guardian, my [Page 190] valiant ſafeguard, my noble champion, till Heaven ſhould reſtore my natural protector.
'Laud we the gods,' ſaid Walmeſley, 'and let our crooked ſmoke climb to their noſtrils!' "Be quiet, you Walmeſley," ſaid my brother, "and let her go on; and, you Hewit, who had tenderly caught me in his arms, and ſwore that it ſhould be the buſineſs of his life to love and oblige me. Can't you have done with your raptures? come, Hannah, let us hear a little more, poor Leo! Well, next to a ſhark, I ſhall in future like a lion.'
'Having by their interruptions, obliged me to tell my ſtory in this disjointed way, I was under the neceſſity of recapitulating many circumſtances over and over again. My brother, in particular, made me dwell upon the expedients I had uſed, and the methods I had purſued to erect, decorate, and furniſh ſuch a building, [Page 191] which I explained to him ſo ſatisfactorily, that he wondered no longer at any thing but my courage and perſeverance.
Having finiſhed all I had to ſay in the beſt manner that I could with ſo many interruptions, we began to think of ſupper; and while I was beſtirring myſelf for that purpoſe, Hewit, my brother, and Walmeſley, paid a viſit to every part of my manſion. As I was cooking I could not avoid hearing their remarks. The cabin is convenient, ſaid Walmeſley, there you are Jack, ſaid my brother, razors to grind! ſciſſars to grind! how the jade loves you; well, though ſhe is my ſiſter, I dont think her equal is to be met with upon the face of the earth.
Her equal, ſaid Hewit, ſee in future whether all the treachery of hell, ſhall make a fool of me again! See with what pains ſhe has traced her various fortunes with her pencil, all marked with ſome [Page 192] affectionate proof that though I, idiot as I was, had forſaken her, ſhe had nobly forgiven the wrong and ſtill loved the unworthy author of her ſufferings. But her mind was always ſuperior to mine, and by all that's juſt ſhe ſhall implicitly guide me to my laſt gaſp.
See, ſee, ſaid my brother, here is Walmeſley at the begging grate of Leiceſter goal. "Who calls on Achmet," ſaid Walmeſley, you may well ſay that, ſaid my brother, the words are coming out of your mouth.
After theſe and other remarks in the ſaloon, they entered the chapel; where the different inſcriptions on the urns excited in them the tendereſt ſenſations, nor could they read ſo many tributes of eſteem to their remembrance, ſo many grateful acknowledgements of the bounty of Providence, ſo many moral and religious proofs of pious reſignation, [Page 193] without being deeply impreſſed with admiration, at the ſacred and holy ſenſe in which I held my duty towards my Creator.
They contemplated the ſkulls with awful veneration; and, when Hewit took up the bible, I ſaw him in an agony. The tears wet his manly cheeks, his ſighs ſeemed to rend his very heart, his eyes were lifted to Heaven; till at length in a burſt of fervid admiration, he fell on his knees at the altar, and entreated that the heavieſt judgment of Heaven might be ſhowered on his head, if he ſhould ever again give me cauſe to heave a ſingle ſigh.
The tombs were next viſited. In Hewit's tomb was depoſited the cheſt which contained all thoſe documents I have already mentioned, beſides the hiſtory of my ſad life up to the period of [Page 194] thoſe reflections, juſt before I loſt poor Leo, that induced me to believe my latter end was approaching. Theſe I had carefully arranged in hopes that time might one day bring them to light, for the information, and I flattered myſelf, edification of the world, little expecting I ſhould have ſo complete a cataſtrophe to add to my adventures.
At the end of the inſcription on my own tomb, I referred the reader for further information to the cheſt that thus there might be no miſtake. All this method and regularity they very much admired. They then examined the inſide of my tomb, and were wonderfully ſtruck with all they ſaw, but particularly the allegorical alluſions contained in the artificial flowers. There is rue for you, Hewit, ſaid Walmeſley, well then upon my ſoul this is too much! ſaid my brother, too much, Sir, ſaid Walmeſley, why thought and affiiction, paſſion, hell [Page 195] itſelf, ſhe turns to favour and to prettineſs.
I now ſummoned them all to ſupper, and had the pleaſure to receive their compliments on my cookery, which, together with all the reſt according to them was admirable, we were very comfortable, my brother in particular; who, at laſt having drank arrack punch pretty plentifully, grew quite facecious. He told Hewit he was a happy raſcal, talked of wedding nights, of making up for loſt time, and other inoffenſive jokes, kindly meant and kindly taken. At laſt we prevailed on him to go to bed, Walmeſley followed his example, and now, after an abſence of five years, I retired to the arms of my huſband.
WHILE I prepared breakfaſt next morning, the three friends walked out to examine the beauties around my dwelling, and when they returned, were of courſe very laviſh in the praiſes of all they had ſeen. How ſhould you like to live here? ſaid I. My brother anſwered that for a life aſhore he ſhould like it very well. Walmeſley ſaid it was a paradiſe of never ending ſweets, and Hewit ſaid any place would be a paradiſe with me.
[Page 197] Breakfaſt being over, I reminded Walmeſley that it was now his turn to tell his ſtory, come, ſaid I, Mr. Walmeſley, don't you think I am impatient to her how you could make ſuch a blunder as to come here after dying in Ireland? Dying, ſaid Walmeſley, Oh, no, no ſuch thing, they buried me to be ſure, but I was not dead, I took care of that.
Curious enough, certainly it was—You ſee there was a poor pains taking fellow with a wife in a conſumption, an old mother, and a ſick child; ſo, becauſe he could not pay a debt of thirteen pounds, for no reaſon upon earth but that he had not a ſingle halfpenny in the world, they took the bed from under theſe poor devils, for they had but one among them. Did you ever hear of ſuch a ſet of raſcals?
Well thinks I to myſelf what's to be done now? Suppoſe thou letteſt them [Page 198] have thy bed? ſaid good nature. Hold, ſaid churliſhneſs, what art thou to do thyſelf? manage in the beſt manner thou can'ſt, ſaid generoſity; charity begins at home, ſaid prudence; a good deed finds its own reward, ſaid virtue, if you get ſick who is to pay the doctor? ſaid illnature.
At laſt, my conſcience hanging about the neck of my heart, ladies or gentlemen, ſaid I, or whatever you are that keep this pother o'er my head, ſince you are equal in your opinions upon this ſubject, if you will permit me I will have a caſting vote; and as I never valued myſelf nor ever ſhall, when I could or can oblige any body elſe, which by the way is an iriſciſm, for the true way of valuing oneſelf is to oblige any body elſe, that vote ſhall be that the people have the bed.
Who knows but I may be in the ſame ſituation myſelf? I have taken one ſtep [Page 199] towards it already; I am without a bed. I want nothing now but the wife in a conſumption, the old mother, and the ſick child.
So I gave them the bed. I lie, I ſold it to them, they paid me for it by a ſmile and a tear, valuable enough to have purchaſed a whole upholſterer's ſhop. It muſt be confeſſed that I caught a devil of a cold by lying on the ground, and the apothecary adviſed me to have my bed back again, ſaying, that if I had not he could not anſwer for the conſequence; "Slave," ſaid I, "I have ſet my life upon a caſt, and I will ſtand the hazard of the die."
The apothecary ſaid, very truly that he could not anſwer for the conſequence. My cold introduced an old acquaintance to me called the rheumatiſm. I cod I had it now hip and thigh. The doctor plied me with phyſic by wholeſale; but one [Page 200] day, having informed me that he ſhould ſend a cordial mixture for me to take, and an embrocation to rub myſelf with, he made a blunder, which was natural enough, you know, being an Iriſhman, and labelled the bottles wrong; ſo that I ſwallowed the embrocation and rubbed myſelf with the cordial mixture.
The conſequence of all this was, that the embrocation, having in it a plentiful quantity of opium, ſet me to ſleep. This ſleep they miſtook for death. It is a pity but I had been a Roman Catholic, I ſhould have been waked; and being put into my coffin, and afterwards into my grave, juſt as the words, "aſhes to aſhes, and duſt to duſt," were repeated, and the ſexton had thrown a ſhovel of dirt upon me, whether from the noiſe, or the cold, or whether the influence of the opiate had ceaſed, I know not, but I awoke, knocked pretty ſtoutly, and was let out.
[Page 201] 'It turned out a glorious thing. The manager doubled my ſalary, under an idea that my ſtory would excite curioſity. He had it made into a farce, where I acted a dead man to the life. I got a good benefit, grew quite a favourite; why, Sir, my death immortalized me!
'About this time, one Meſſink had an offer to manage the Theatre at Calcutta, I fancy this was juſt about when you returned from France. He made me a very liberal propoſal to take me with him as his factotem; and under an idea that I ſhould find captain Higgins there, after maturely weighing all conſequences, after conſidering that I had not a friend, nor an acquaintance upon the face of the earth, except yourſelves, that cared three farthings whether I made my exit off the ſtage, or out of the world, I determined to try my fortune among ſavages and men of Inde.
[Page 202] 'After boxing the compaſs and buffetting the billows for eight or nine months, I arrived in the kingdom of Bengal. Meſſink firſt took poſſeſſion of the theatre, and I, in quality of treaſurer, prompter, property man, and, occaſionally, performer. In ſhort, the ſcrub of the family, according to Dr. Johnſon's explanation of factotum, began to enter upon my vocation.
'My next idea was to enquire after captain Higgins. But, Lord, how did I know that Surat was on the other ſide of the Indian peninſula? I had taken it in my head that it was only a ſtone's throw from Calcutta. Well, ſaid I, travellers muſt be content. So on we went aſtoniſhing the Nabobs. Well, well, ſaid I, theſe rupees are no bad things.
'Thus time wore on. There were we lolling in Eaſtern luxury. Still all I thought of was ſomehow or other to get [Page 203] at the captain. I ventured two letters, but I found afterwards they never reached him. At laſt, like Cleopatra on the river Cydnus,
comes the captain, ſailing up the Ganges, as ſtately as a ſwan upon the Thames. Played Serjeant Kite for my benefit. All the gentlemen uſed to play at Calcutta. Oh how I have heard them tear a paſſion to rags! A better thing for me than the blackſmith at Birmingham."Her galley down, the ſilver Cydnus rolled,"Purple the ſails, the ſtreamers waved with gold."
'I never was ſo rejoiced in my life. Well, we had talk enough about you. This was juſt after your brother had put you on board the Groſvenor for England. "You ſee," ſaid my brother, "that I had no intention of going higher on the Coramandal Coaſt than Madras; but finding I ſhould not be able to get my credentials [Page 204] ſo properly from the Nabob, and meeting, with an advantageous offer to carry a freight, I was prevailed upon to ſtand on for Calcutta. It was curious enough, that Jack He wit, ſhould have quitted Madras only a week, by his account, before I arrived at it, not that it would have made any difference, for if I had met with him, inſtead of his going to Surat, I ſhould have ſent him packing after you."
Indeed, ſaid I, it would have made a material difference; for, in that caſe, I certainly ſhould not have ſeen him here, nor would any thing, perhaps, have turned out as it has. I have remarked with aſtoniſhment, the ſteps that have led to this wonderful meeting, and my mind is completely made up; the hand of Providence is in it all—but go on Mr. Walmeſley.
'Faith Ma'am,' ſaid Walmeſley, 'there is not much to ſay. I could divide and ſubdivide [Page 205] all the little nonſenſes that make up a life ſo frivolous and inſignificant as mine but it would be only to retail the former narrative which made you laugh ſo at Wolverhampton. Actors, either off or on the ſtage, like mill horſes, go on the ſame dull round, another and another ſtill ſucceeds, and the laſt fool's as ſtupid as the former.
'Your brother would fain have had me ſcamper with him over the Red Sea; but hold you, hold you, ſaid I, I cod there may be miſchief enough done without I! I am a reſtleſs ſpirit, they may want to lay me. An obvious joke, a fooliſh figure, but farewell it, for I will be brief.
'Captain Higgins finding I would not accompany him, made me faithfully promiſe him to wait until his return, telling me that we would then take a trip to England, where he had no doubt but we [Page 206] ſhould find you and Hewit happy and comfortable; and then, ſaid he, we'll lay all our hulks in a convenient birth, where when the voyage of life ſhall be at an end, we may take a ſpell of ſleep, out of which we ſhall never wake till the angel Gabriel pipes all hands.
'I was charmed with this, for I love to cope with him in theſe humours, for then he is full of matter. So being a devil of a fellow at promiſe, he found me when he came back exactly in the ſame place where he left me, ſtuck as faſt as if I had been one of the twelve Caeſar's done by a ſealcutter. I found him exactly the ſame creature; ſmoked as many ſagars, drank as much grog, cracked as many jokes, and did as many good natured things as ever.
'Away we went to work, ſold our ſhip and cargo, ſacked the rupees, and prepared all matters for our return to the [Page 207] land of beef and pudding. Every thing now appeared as if it was coming to a climax; we ſeemed as if we were all to meet together like players at the end of the laſt act. One morning as captain Higgins and I were going along, we met captain Higgins—' "Why what a ſtupid fellow you are, ſaid my brother, how could I meet myſelf? You mean Hewit."
'No, I don't; we did not meet Hewit till three days afterwards; I mean, Oh Lord, I mean Mr. Binns, that's the gentleman's name, I think. So you ſee Binns and the young gentleman, that is to ſay, Hewit, no Higgins.' 'Come, come, ſaid I, Mr. Walmeſley, you are going to give us the ſecond edition of the prince and the fiſherman.' 'No I en't, ſaid Walmeſley, 'there was no fiſherman in the caſe, the gentleman is—but here's Jack Meggot, who does not wiſh you to know it, will tell you the whole ſtory in two minutes, while I have been half an hour explaining [Page 208] it, and you don't know any thing about it yet.'
"The fact is," ſaid my brother, "we met with Binns, and afterwards with Hewit, and a friend or two more; and having agreed with a Dane to bring us to Europe, here we all are, and I hope you are glad to ſee us. What do you ſay to that Hannah?"
Nothing, ſaid I. 'Nothing can come of nothing,' ſaid Walmeſley; 'ſpeak again.' If I did, ſaid I, it would anſwer no purpoſe; there is certainly ſome myſtery behind; and as I have had enough within theſe laſt four and twenty hours to put my reſolution to the teſt, you are right to manage my feelings leſt they ſhould be too much overcome. Only, ſaid I, let me know the complexion of what I am yet to hear.
We have nothing to diſcloſe to you, [Page 209] my dear Hannah, ſaid Hewit, but what will give you pleaſure, and here comes a proof of it. At theſe words a moſt charming young man entered the room, and falling at my feet aſked my bleſſing.
2.6. CHAP VI. CONTAINING THE HISTORY OF AN EXEMPLARY YOUNG MAN, SOME PERTINENT OBSERVATIONS, AND A FURTHER DISCOVERY.[Page 201]
No one but a mother can judge of the ſenſations I felt when I ſtrained in my arms the very pratler, now grown into manhood, who uſed to delight me on my little iſland, where, in the midſt of proſperity, I would retire to get rid of the world's impertinence.
I had early traced an underſtanding in this dear boy moſt uncommonly penetrating for his years, which increaſed aſtoniſhingly as he grew up. His mind purſued [Page 211] every thing with ſuch avidity, that his intelligence was unbounded, and his diſcrimination was ſo nice and perſpicuous, that in all my obſervation and my reading I never met ſuch a reaſoner.
As a proof of his capacity, he taught himſelf Arabic, and the language of the Hindoos, on his paſſage out to India, and it was through theſe advantages that he was appointed, though little more than a child, to a conſiderable ſituation up the country.
In addition to theſe advantages, his manners were the moſt winning in the world. To the ſweeteſt and eveneſt temper, he added the moſt ſolicitous and conciliating attention. He was as brave as fortitude without raſhneſs, and as mild as humility without meanneſs. What joy then to behold after ſo long an abſence ſuch a ſon, ſuch a treaſure! I can only ſay [Page 212] my joy, unaccuſtomed as I was to pleaſure, was immoderate; and, if in the fullneſs of my heart, I now recall it upon paper, let no one but a parent comment on it. Thoſe who are not parents may think I have ſaid too much, every parent will wonder I could ſay ſo little.
My ſon at my earneſt deſire related the particulars of his fortune, which might make a little novel by itſelf, and be called the Progreſs of Induſtry; for never were there talents ſo worthily employed, purſuits ſo ſenſibly planned, ſo reſolutely undertaken, or ſo laudably purſued. It ſpoke him the true Engliſhman of oppulence; with ſpirit, abilities, and accompliſhments, to repel a foe, regulate a counting houſe, or ornament a ſenate.
Were the country invaded, he did his duty bravely in the field; were the produce of the Eaſt to be waſted acroſs the Pacific Ocean to agrandize his native [Page 213] country, he eſtimated the honourable average of loſs and gain, and and regulated account between merchant and merchant. If the exigencies of the ſtate rendered it neceſſary to call in ſuperior abilities, his voice was the moſt eloquent in the counſel. In ſhort he was a pattern for what a young man ſhould be, and what almoſt any young man tolerably gifted may be, by nothing more than keeping this one ſimple maxim in view, never to be indolent.
Would not one imagine with ſuch admirable talents, ſuch true rectitude, that this dear youth was not wherever he came an object of eſteem and reſpect! Nothing like it. He was the perpetual object of envy and calumny. Every poltroon envied his bravery, every knave his integrity, and every fool his underſtanding. He was tracherouſly ſtabbed by a cowardly aſſaſin; who, fancying he had killed him, took the honour to himſelf of a [Page 214] glorious action the ſweet youth had nobly performed; falſe accounts had been ſurreptiouſly foiſted into ſome bills of lading, of which he had the regulation, by a ſwindling adventurer with a view to impeach his honour; and a charge of intention to innovate and new mould the ſtate, had ſubjected him to a tryal for having uttered an oration, that for eloquence might have honoured Demoſthenes, and for wiſdom have given reputation to Solon.
Thus, an honour to human nature, human nature did every thing it could to diſhonour him. His good ſenſe was ſhrewdneſs and a diſguiſe for knavery, his modeſty, ſlyneſs and cloak for hypocriſy, if he was humble it was diſſimulation, if manly it was temerity, in ſhort we were mother and ſon; and having perhaps our minds a little better ſtored than our neighbours, they, poor creatures, ſeemed to [Page 215] have nothing for it but to lower our faculties, to the level of theirs.
The beſt trait of his mind was that, though a miſanthrope, he was not a man hater. He did not diſpiſe his fellow creatures, he pitied them. All which in a young man no more than one and twenty, may be conſidered as preſumption, and perhaps impertinence, but when it is recollected that this young man of one and twenty, had thought more and to better purpoſe in any given month, than many an old man of ſixty does during his whole life, the wonder will be with all the ſtrong affections and antipathies of youth to ſtimulate his choice, his mind did not harden into hate, rather than ſoften into pity.
Yet ought not his ill treatment to prevent any young man from aſpiring. Knowledge is a moſt charming companion; and upon the principle which the [Page 216] proverb holds out, that a contented mind is a continual feaſt, ſo an accompliſhed mind is a continual amuſement; beſides there is a great conſolation in not deſerving to be ill treated, and the calumny of the world will little affect a man of good ſenſe, while the rectitude of his heart contradicts it.
Beſides the conſideration reaches farther. Benefits ariſing from the gifts of nature induce gratitude, gratitude inſpires every other virtue, and thus the human mind has a ſucceſſion of pleaſures within itſelf, and every pleaſure the reſult of reffection. But I entreat the reader to pardon me for this intruſion. I could not avoid recommending this valuable conduct, ſo exemplified in my own ſon, and explaining its advantages that young men may ſee, however, envy may purſue induſtrious merit, it cannot leſſon its ſterling value, whereas the vice and folly that ſprings from indolence; however men of [Page 217] ſenſe may pity, is the but of every fool, and the prey of every knave.
During my ſon's relation of his ſtory, which he delivered in modeſt and eloquent language, I could not help noticing that he continually alluded to the obligations he was under to his uncle, notwithſtanding my brother was at no part of the time in the way, to do him any perſonal ſervice. I therefore concluded that he had ſet agents about him to watch his conduct, and be of occaſional aſſiſtance to him.
This I hinted, and was very thankful to my brother, for his tender care of his nephew. 'Avaſt,' ſaid my brother, 'put the ſaddle upon the right horſe, I knew very little about my nephew; nay, to own the truth, as I never love to make the worſt of any thing, what I told you [Page 218] at Surat, about his ſituation at Benares was only hearſay.
'I had many vague and ſtrange conjectures concerning my nephew at that time, but to have tormented you with them would not only have been unneceſſary, but cruel; for if he was in a ſituation to need friends or aſſiſtance, your interference could have done him no ſervice, I therefore, amuſed you with what I thought would moſt conſole you, without making you wretched about your ſon, when you were already ſufficiently wretched about your huſband.'
'But however,' ſaid he, 'it came upon its legs in the end; for though I did not get the news till my return from the Red Sea, had I ſtaid but a fortnight longer before I ſailed on that voyage, I ſhould not only have known that the flying report of his being well ſituated at Benares was [Page 219] truth, but to what uncle he had been ſo much obliged.'
What uncle! ſaid I, in aſtoniſhment, but bleſs me here are ladies and with them a gentleman I never ſaw before. 'Well, ſaid Domine,' ſaid my brother, 'he ſticks cloſe to the women.' "Yes," ſaid Walmeſley, "but he is honeſt for all he wears black." 'Give me leave good folks to introduce you,' ſaid my brother. 'This, my dear ſiſter, is the Reverend Mr. Grey, this is, you'll be charmed to know who this is, this is little Britannia; ſhe married a fine fellow one Dick Lovejoy, who ſailed with me, and ſhe came over with him as in duty bound to India, where he died and left her to my care. Hewit knew him, and you have heard of him, Hannah, it was the very man who turned amanuenſis for Hewit, alias Walmeſley, when he ſent you an account of the Vigo buſineſs; but to proceed. This is your [Page 220] niece, and a ſweet girl ſhe is, though I ſay it; and, though laſt not leaſt in love, this is Mrs. Higgins.'
Here, my old friend whom I had known by the name of Binns, came up and warmly ſaluted me, calling me her dear ſiſter. Heavens! ſaid I, what am I to think of this, brother? Are you married? and to my dear old friend too? "And ſuppoſe I was," ſaid my brother, "ſhould you be angry Hannah?" No, indeed, ſaid I, I ſhould be delighted.
"Well then I am ſorry I cannot obblige you this time," ſaid my brother, "She deſerves every thing, ſhe is lovely and ſhe is amiable; but, though the world cannot produce you a fellow that more admires the beauty, or would ſooner defend the honour of your ſex, I would not marry the perſon of Venus, with the virtue of Diana tacked to it." 'No that he would not,' ſaid Walmeſley, [Page 221] 'though every god did ſeemed to ſet his ſeal, to give the world aſſurance of a woman.'
"She belongs," added my brother, "to a noble fellow, for whom you have an affection and an eſteem; to a man whom all the world muſt admire, to a man in whoſe praiſe, for I love valour and generoſity, I could talk for this half hour, but that here he comes and I don't like to praiſe people to their faces."
"Mr. Binns," ſaid I, "looking round me." 'No Lord,' ſaid Walmeſley, 'captain Higgins, the very captain Higgins we met; only you would inſiſt upon his being a prince and a fiſherman.' "Nay, nay, ſaid I"—'It is truth,' ſaid Binns, catching me in his arms, 'my dear Hannah I am your brother!"
BEING a little recovered from the aſtoniſhment into which I had been thrown, I expreſſed myſelf to my friends around me in terms of the warmeſt gratitude for the thoughtful, the delicate manner, in which they had introduced this ſucceſſion of diſcoveries; which, ſtrong as my mind was, had they been more abrupt might have been attended with the worſt conſequences; and what endeared their conduct doubly to me was, that it could ariſe from no motive but tender and kind conſideration.
[Page 223] What a reverſe of fortune did I now experience. I had not only a huſband reſtored to me, who had been the object of all my pain and pleaſure during my life, but I had a ſon that I could proudly own. I had one brother, of whoſe fraternal affection I had received a thouſand proofs, and another who had proved himſelf every way a brother, at the time I knew him ſor no other than a kind and diſintereſted friend. Beſides my tender friend who I had long loved, was now my ſiſter; and no wonder if ſuch unlooked for happineſs, required the exertion of my utmoſt ſortitude.
After a peal of congratulations, and many ſuitable remarks on the wonderful chain of events, that had ſo miraculouſly brought us together, my new brother at my particular requeſt, related his ſtory, with which it is now high time I ſhould acquaint the reader.
[Page 224] 'You all know," ſaid my brother, 'that a perſon of the name of Binns, lived in Coalbrook Dale, who though he was himſelf of an idle and a profligate character, had for a wife a moſt worthy and amiable woman. I have heard Mr. Williams, when I believed her to have been my mother, ſpeak of her in terms of the higheſt praiſe, and well he might, if ſhe bore the ſlighteſt reſemblance to her daughter, whoſe virtues, when I thought her my ſiſter, were ever the objects of my admiration, and ſince ſhe has been my wife, now eighteen years, they have manifeſted themſelves in ſo many tender and attentive inſtances of affectionate kindneſs, which Heaven knows, have been rigourouſly put to the teſt, that I muſt be, which I hope is not in my nature, moſt diſhonourable and ungrateful, if I did not, through life, make her happineſs my ſtudy.
'You have heard, that in the year 1743, [Page 225] there was an exploſion in a coal mine, this unfortunate woman, with ſeveral other perſons, and particularly a brother of yours called Peter, were killed; but this was not the fact, for it was my wife's brother that was killed, and not yours, I am your brother, and the extraordinary circumſtance of my being brought up as the ſon of Binns, aroſe from nothing more than that having loſt his ſon, and knowing that the countenance and ſupport of his ſiſter would wholly depend on the chance of her having a male heir to keep up her name, he ſtole me, who happened to be on the ſpot, though unhurt, carried me home, paſſed me for his ſon, which deceit my age and complexion favoured, and thus accompliſhed his deſigns againſt the purſe of his ſiſter.
'Mrs. Binns,' continued my brother, 'when ſhe made her will, at which time ſhe fancied I was her nephew, reſtricted both me and her daughter from aſſiſting her brother to the injury of our own circumſtances. This, however, did not prevent his levying contributions on us both; until at laſt his conduct was ſo arrogant that had I not ſuppoſed him my father, I ſhould have broke up all ſort of communication with him, which he ſaw, and I could plainly perceive he was bent on ſome ſort of revenge.
'About this time a clerk of our worthy brother, the lawyer, called upon me, and ſaid he had ſomething to communicate that nearly concerned me. I was ſhy of him at firſt; but finding that the confedracy, for whom he often perjured himſelf, [Page 227] had marked him for deſtruction on account of ſome diſcoveries he had made, which put them a good deal in his power, I had no farther doubt that he meant to ſerve me, eſpecially as my own ears were to be witneſſes of what he wanted me to believe.
'He told me that the miſchief which threatened me was planned by his maſter, and my reputed father; that he did not know the nature of it, but inſtructed me where to place myſelf ſo as to hear a converſation between them. He ſaid he certainly had an eye to reward but would not accept a halfpenny until I was convinced he deſerved it.
'This was ſo fair that I concealed him until I had ſatisfied myſelf, and having done ſo, I gave him money for the purpoſe of affecting his eſcape. What I learnt was the ſecret of my being your brother, [Page 228] and this conſultation, between Binns and the lawyer, was to ſee how they could make it turn to their mutual account. They had no doubt, when I found that I had no pretenſion to any part of Mr. Binns's fortune, but I ſhould be glad enough to come into any propoſal that they might hold out to me.
'A variety of ſchemes were hit upon, at laſt a moſt fortunate one, as they thought ſuggeſted itſelf, which was that my ſuppoſed father ſhould make me acquainted with the truth, and adviſe me to agree with him in ſaying that I was not the impoſtor but that his daughter was; in which caſe I might inſiſt upon the whole property, half of which he was to receive as a reward for his treachery in my behalf.
'The lawyer was not to appear in it, but he and his friends, with whom Mr. Binns ſeemed to have been pretty well acquainted, were to have a fellow feeling. [Page 229] Apprized as I was of all that was to follow, I had made up my mind as to how I ſhould act. Having heard the propoſal, I begged to conſider of it, and after a time appeared reluctantly to yield to it.
'In the mean time it was extremely difficult to ſay what ought to be my real conduct. I was determined certainly not to conceal a tittle of the truth, but it ſtruck me, that if I managed adroitly, I might get at the knowledge of ſome of thoſe honourable practices in which my dear brother, the lawyer, and his worthy confederate Sourby, were engaged.
'With this view I played with the buſineſs, and it turned out as I expected. Mr. Binns, not being ſo artful as the reſt of the fraternity, ſoon made me acquainted with a few tranſactions, which as I had wiſhed for a full revenge on Sourby, gave me a particular pleaſure, I promiſed him mountains, and which was greatly to his [Page 230] taſte, that I would conceal a large part of the property, and make it appear leſs than it was, in order that he might with the greater facility cheat his friends out of their ſhare. In ſhort, ſaid I, one night as I let him out of the garden, ſucceed in this, meaning a further diſcovery, and I'll make your fortune.'
'Which myſterious words, ſaid I, my dear ſiſer and I conſtrued into a proof of your guilt.' "I know it," ſaid my brother, "indeed all my conduct muſt have appeared very ſtrange to you at that time. My turning from the lover to the friend and brother, my ſolicitude in favour of Hewit, all which, I declare, delighted me more than any ſatisfaction I had ever felt in my life, and then the proſpect I had of expoſing, and, perhaps, puniſhing Sourby; all, filled my mind, even though my whole fortune ſhould have been the ſacrifice, with reflections that my honour approved.
[Page 231] 'I hope I ever had a pleaſure in ſhewing myſelf a diſintereſted character, and, among the reſt, it was from this motive that I ſeized the opportunity with ſo much alacrity of going to town at the time we received the falſe intelligence that one of our correſpondents had ſtopt payment, but I little dreamed that from Mr. Binns's tardineſs the worthy knot growing ſuſpicious, had not only choſe to remove me out of the way, that I might be ſuſpected of having committed the fraud of the notes, which they were then meditating, but their worthy friend alſo, that, under an idea we were father and ſon, we might mutually be ſubject to the ſame ſuſpicion in Wolverhampton, to exonerate them.
'The remainder of my fortune, which I ſhall relate in as ſummary a way as poſſible, is of another complexion. I had ſcarcely alighted at an inn in the Borough when I was forced into a houſe in St. George's Fields, by ſome kidnappers. I [Page 232] was then, in the night conveyed to Graveſend, put on board an Indiaman, afterwards taken to Portſmouth, and from thence the ſhip went to ſea; nor did I get rid of my handcuffs, which had been put on me under the idea that I was a deſerter, till we cleared the channel.
'Being arrived in India I was put into the ranks; and as I had been ſent abroad with a bad character, I was pretty handſomely diſciplined. I bore it, however, with what fortitude I could, and it was not long before an officer of ſome conſideration, ſeeing ſomething about me above my condition, payed me attention, and in in a ſhort time got me promoted to a halbert.
'I was now glad that I had an opportunity of ſerving the poor ſoldiers; who, having been for the moſt part kidnapped in the ſame manner that I had, were excluſive of the inconvenience of ſtruggling [Page 233] with a ſtrange climate, ſubject to many hardſhips which they had no right to experience.
'One day I ſaw two men chained together at a diſtance; and aſking who they were, was informed that they were two notorious rogues whom the ſoldiers were bringing to me that I might repreſent their caſe to the officer. Under the idea that I could ſerve two fellow creatures, I was charmed at an opportunity of inveſtigating the crime laid to their charge, which I imagined, as uſual, was inſtigated to get ſmart money from them; but judge my aſtoniſhment when I learnt that they were accuſed of no leſs than an intention of betraying me, at the head of a ſerjeant's guard, to the enemy, on the very next morning, when I was to have been on duty on a reconnoitering party, and how that aſtoniſhment was increaſed when I found them to be Binns and Dark.
[Page 234] 'My ſituation, at this moment, was very critical. I had certainly no affection for Dark, but could not bear that one I had ſo long conſidered as my father, and who, in reality, was the father of her I had been accuſtomed to love and eſteem as my ſiſter, ſhould ſuffer at my inſtance an ignominious death, for it was my duty to become his accuſer. I, therefore, ordered that they might be remanded, and ſaid that I ſhould inform the commanding officer of their crime and iſſue his orders accordingly.
'In the mean time as I had not owned them, and they dared not own me, they thought, in a conſultation together, they might turn the tables, and by accuſing me, ſave themſelves, which would anſwer all their original purpoſe; for the moment they had found I was in the camp, and their ſuperior in rank, thinking, becauſe they would have ſerved me ſo, that as ſoon as I diſcovered them I ſhould take care, [Page 235] right or wrong, to have them puniſhed, they concerted this ſcheme to get me out of the way.
Little, however, ſuſpecting this, I went to the officer, who had promoted me, and honeſtly informed him who they were, and my wiſhes concerning them. I aſked his advice as to how I ought to act upon ſo delicate an occaſion, and intreated him as far as he could properly to indulge my feelings, which he himſelf applauded. He promiſed to do every thing becoming in the buſineſs, and adviſed me, without reſerve, to acquaint the commanding officer with what I had been told concerning them, without introducing any thing relative to myſelf, or appearing to be in any reſpect intereſted.
'I did as I was deſired, but the next morning I was ſurrounded by ſix men, deprived of my ſword, and made a priſoner. [Page 236] I was immediately tried by a court martial; Binns and Dark were my accuſers, who ſwore I had inveigled them to aſſiſt in betraying my guard to the enemy, with whom I had concerted a plan to ſurprize the camp; which, after putting the picquets to the ſword, they had no doubt, led on by me, apparently a friend, they ſhould completely rout, and thus, at leaſt, diſconcert our meaſures for the whole campaign.
'This teſtimony was corroborated by a corporal, a ſhocking fellow, who I certainly hated, becauſe of his cruelty to the men, and over whoſe head I had become a ſerjeant. My patron and benefactor ſaid what he could for me certainly, but, after all, he himſelf had no poſitive knowledge of me, and if I had deceived him, it only proved the conſummate art I muſt have been maſter of. In ſhort, the ſtory was ſo well told, and ſo artfully conducted, that I was found guilty of an intention of betraying [Page 237] the Engliſh troops to the enemy, and ſentenced to be ſhot the very next morning.
'The awful preparations were making. The coffin was brought into my cell, the flannel waiſtcoat was prepared, the drums were muffled, and every other ceremony uſual upon ſuch occaſions, was going forward, when my friend, the officer, ruſhed in, ſtruck off my fetters, and told me I was pardoned.
'It ſeems, on the evening of the day I was tried, the officers had met in a counſel of war, when it was reported that the ſerjeant, who had undertaken the poſt of honour I was to have commanded in the morning, and which, by the way, was a matter concerted between my patron and I, as a guide to my further promotion, had been ſurrendered and taken by the enemy, but that a quarter guard coming up they were reſcued, and the enemy made [Page 238] priſoners in return. This appeared, at firſt, to corroborate my guilt; but it was afterwards clearly found that Binns and Dark had concerted the whole buſineſs, and had been in the enemy's camp to give them intelligence; and particularly cautioned them not to expect my participation in the plan, for on the contrary, their wiſeſt way would be to execute me immediately, leſt ſomething ſiniſter ſhould follow, which I was capable of planning, and bold enough to execute; and in conſequence of this they were actually going to hang the poor ſerjeant, my ſubſtitute, when, as I ſaid before, the quarter guard came up and ſurrounded them.
'Binns and Dark were immediately ſent for and told that their iniquity was diſcovered. My friend, who was now charmed to have an opportunity of inveſtigating whether I deſerved his favour or not, upon the faith of my ſtory, acquainted them with all thoſe particulars relative to [Page 239] me which happened at Wolverhampton; when, upon offering to produce evidence to ſubſtantiate every tittle of what he alledged, they fell on their knees and implored for mercy. We were, however, in ſuch a ſituation that no mercy could be granted to ſuch offenders, and they were both condemned to ſuffer that death to which I had before been unjuſtly ſentenced.
'I was ſtill very wretched. My friend, the officer, ſaw it, and promiſed to do what he could to ſave the life of Binns. This, to be brief, he accompliſhed. Dark was ſhot, and Binns drummed out of the regiment. His fate, however, was only poſtponed, for being afterwards received in a regiment of Seapoys, he was put to death by a faithful Laſcar in the moment of attempting for plunder, the life of that very officer who at my ſolicitation had generouſly ſaved his.
[Page 240] 'While Binns and Dark were under ſentence of death, I learnt from them how they had been ſerved by their kind friends in England. Binns was kidnapped about the time I was, but they continued to make an inſtrument of Dark till he had written you that letter, in which he told you my father and I were great rogues, and then he was handcuffed and ſent to keep company with his friends.
"Why Sir," ſaid Walmeſley, "theſe tools do ſuch rogues moſt ſervice in the end, for when they have drained what they need, it is but ſqueezing them and ſpunge, they are dry again." 'Well ſaid Walmeſley,' cried my elder brother. 'From Dark alſo I learnt,' continued my brother Peter, 'that it was to Sourby he betrayed you in Love-lane; and now having diſpoſed of them, I ſhall proceed to other matters.
'My conduct was ſo well approved [Page 241] of during that campaign, that I obtained a pair of colours, and after it was over a lieutenancy, but to my great misfortune I loſt my noble friend. He and I, and a few others, were ſurrounded. I did what I could to defend him, and narrowly eſcaped death myſelf, but we were ſo out-numbered, that though a party came and ſaved what few the conflict had left alive, he, after performing prodigies of valour, fell covered with wounds and glory.
'During a truce, our regiment happened to be at Calcutta, where being frequently invited to the houſes of large factors, and other oppulent ſettlers, I was told one day I ſhould be introduced to ſome young ladies who had come over to India to get huſbands.' "One of them in particular," ſaid my friend, "would ſuit you exactly, as you are a ſoldier of fortune, for ſhe is very rich already, and makes no ſcruple to declare that ſhe came [Page 242] purpoſely in ſearch of ſome perſon not ſo fortunately off. Now whether ſhe means any particular perſon I cannot ſay, but if ſhe does not, and any handſome young man of addreſs and underſtanding will ſerve her turn, I don't ſee why you ſhould not ſtand as good a chance as another."
'I thanked him for his compliment, and ſaid, that ſuch diſintereſtedneſs was a charming feature in a wife, after which, company coming in, we talked of different matters. My friend was ſoon after called out, and preſently ſent a ſervant for me.' "Zounds," ſaid he, "you are a lucky fellow. I have received a letter from the lady I ſpoke of, by way of excuſe for her not attending us, but it appears to me that you are the cauſe, for my letter encloſes one to you, which ſhe begs I would deliver to you, having heard you were to be here this evening, and not knowing, otherwiſe, how to direct to you."
[Page 243] 'I am then the cauſe, ſaid I, as I opened the letter, and the happieſt man that ever exiſted. Excuſe me to the company, I'll call on you to-morrow. So ſaying, without further ceremony I left him.
'Who do you think wrote that letter? The dear author of it is by your ſide; and the motive of that and every other part of her conduct is ſo flattering, ſo endearing to me, that no Hewit, dearly Hannah as he may love you, and worthily as you may deſerve him, ſhall ever outdo me in tenderneſs and attention.
'I knew the hand writing, of courſe, [Page 244] the moment I ſaw it; but how ſhe could know me by the name of Higgins I could not conceive; indeed, ſhe little imagined ſhe was writing to me, but having heard from ſome friends, who were of the party, that one captain Higgins was to be there, ſhe, under an idea that it was my brother Thomas, was impatient to ſee him, in hopes of gathering ſome ſort of intelligence from him, and feared if ſhe put thoſe queſtions to him in a mixed company, it might intereſt her too much.
'This caution happened to be very neceſſary, for our interview was tender enough, as you may conceive. Her delight at finding that I was not her brother, and my gratitude at hearing that ſhe had left her own country to riſk the chance of hearing of me, were of too intereſting a nature to be expreſſed before witneſſes. In ſhort, as we had loved one another tenderly as brother and ſiſter, ſo, every bar being now removed, we vowed a few days [Page 245] afterwards at the altar, to love one another tenderly as man and wife.
'We were ſoon torne, however, from each others arms. My honour, as a ſoldier, raiſed as I was from the ranks, and reſpect to his memory, to whom my promotion was owing, would not ſuffer me to ſell out, I ſerved ſeveral campaigns with the uſual ſucceſs of others.' "Who," ſaid Walmeſley, "ſuch the bubble reputation in the cannon's mouth." 'Exactly,' ſaid my brother, 'and many a bitter pang, while I have been on this endleſs ſearch, has my abſence cauſed her whoſe tenderneſs deſerved more attention. At length, for a ſervice I was fortunate enough to perform, I was ſent expreſs to England, where, by a moſt extraordinary accident, I ſaw you ſiſter, and by another as extraordinary, loſt an opportunity of explaining what would have prevented every trouble you have ſince experienced,
[Page 246] 'My ſtay in England was only three weeks; where, with the approbation of the Eaſt-India Company, I reſigned my military employ, and accepted a civil one in the reſidency of Benares, for which place, on my arrival in India, I ſet out with my wife and daughter.
'I had been at Benares three years, when I heard of the great merit of a young man at Oude, whoſe name was Hewit, and with what addreſs he had defended himſelf againſt his enemies, who, jealous of ſuch abilities in ſuch a youth, had often attempted his overthrow. I had alſo heard of ſome brave actions that he had performed in the field, but as I knew ſeveral of the ſame name, as I had never heard that you had a ſon, nor could conceive, if you had, through what channel he could be in India; though pleaſed with what I had heard in his praiſe, as I ſhould be to hear the commendation of any other extraordinary [Page 247] young man, I did not attempt at any communication with him, and to prove that this is natural, he had heard and thought of me in the ſame manner.
'I had been at Benares about two years. After this when, in common with others, I had heard of a moſt ſerious charge that was about to be exhibited againſt this young man, who was repreſented as ſo enterprizing as to have formed a plan of giving up a part of the country to the ravages of a certain adjacent Rajah, the circumſtance ſtruck me as a matter of ſo extraordinary a nature, that I intereſted myſelf, I knew not why, in the buſineſs, and fortunately came at the whole diabolical plot, which, had it ſucceeded, would have cruſhed him. I ſet out to Oude with my documents, and juſt as his enemies were on the point of prevailing againſt him, begged leave to be heard. My defence of him was ſo ſound, ſo complete, that he was honourably acquitted, and [Page 248] thoſe who had planned his deſtruction were attached.
'He conſidered me as a guardian angel ſent to ſave him; and in the courſe of his modeſt acknowledgments for the ſervice I had rendered him, we diſcovered we were uncle and nephew. Finding that nothing could induce him to have any thing further to do with public affairs, and, indeed, being heartily tired myſelf of mixing with people who were not contented without multiplying their fortune through the medium of rapine and plunder, which neither he nor I ever practiſed, I invited him to Benares, where he reſided with me the laſt three years; when, having ſome time giving up my employ, at the earneſt ſolicitation of my wife, I agreed to leave India with a view to paſs the remainder of our lives in England.
'Being arrived at Calcutta, we called on our friend Charteris, of whom enquiring [Page 249] for a ſhip for England, we had the good fortune to be introduced to my brother Thomas.' "And now, my dear ſiſter," ſaid my elder brother, "you really have heard all our budget of news." To every word I have heard, ſaid I, I have ſomething to reply; but let us devote this day to enjoyment. To-morrow you ſhall fully become acquainted with my opinion, and my reſolution.
2.8. CHAP VIII. WHICH MIGHT BE CALLED, IF THE TERM COULD BE SO FAR STRAINED, THE LIVING APOTHEOSIS OF HANNAH HEWIT.[Page 250]
As ſoon as we had breakfaſted, and were ſeated on the lawn before my door, in view of all thoſe beautiful and pictureſque objects which I have ſo frequently deſcribed, my company manifeſted ſome impatience to hear thoſe remarks on their various fortunes which I told them I had to make, and for which I had ſeverally prepared them, as far as it was neceſſary on the preceding day.
The poſition, on which I meant to animadvert, [Page 251] and which I begged to be allowed, was that ſo many extraordinary and unheard of circumſtances could not have combined in ſo remote a part of the world, to bring a number of friends together, friends ſo dear to each other, friends who, out of that ſmall circle, had nothing upon earth of value, without the expreſs intervention of providence.
If am anſwered, ſaid I, that nothing is more common than for natives of England to go to India, and that many friendſhips have been formed there, which afterwards grew and improved at home, I ſhall anſwer that it does not apply in the preſent caſe. We none of us voluntarily went to India. We were impelled, beckoned there, and by an irreſiſtable impulſe; but, ſaid I, what brought us here? A miracle! Performed, if we are wiſe, to complete our happineſs.
The labrynth of our lives has been ſo [Page 252] impervious, and the clue ſo difficult to find, that if the whole had been invented and written down, it could not have been managed with more art. Is it not wonderful that my brother Peter no farther explained himſelf in the lobby of the playhouſe, and that all further explanation was prevented by our ſetting out the next morning to France?
Again, notwithſtanding, my wretched brother, in acquainting my huſband of Sourby's deteſtable plot againſt our peace, muſt have mentioned, over and over again, that the perſon called Binns was my brother, is it not aſtoniſhing, that all the documents, in the cheſt, ſpeak of every thing in ſuch general terms, that I did not become acquainted with the circumſtance until it was related yeſterday by my brother himſelf? No; the ecclairiſſement was to take place here; here we were to meet; here we were to compare notes; here we were to conſult [Page 253] upon what footing to enſure our future happineſs.
Take up any one of our ſtories, in almoſt any part of it, and you will find it a kind of index pointing to this day. Whenever we have been within a hair's breadth of individual happineſs, ſome ſingular event has prevented it; Why? That we might now be happy together. Nor could this happineſs be accompliſhed till the malignant fiends that were perpetually thwarting our hopes and refining our virtue, like gold in the fire, were no more.
When this event was confirmed, though at ſo many diſtant parts of the world, Fate called us together as a ſhepherd calls his ſheep into the fold. Will you ſay this was chance? Was it chance that I have been three years on this deſolate iſland, as it were to expect you? Was it chance that my huſband was hurried to different parts of the world for the ſame three years [Page 254] to touch at Calcutta? Was it chance that Mr. Walmeſley ſhould be the ſame three years reſident there? Was it chance that my brother Peter, after he had found my ſon and ſaved his reputation, ſhould reſide the ſame three years at Benares, and then bring him to the ſame ſpot? Was it chance that brought ſo many friends to the ſame place in one mind, with one determination, though no one of them individually knew of another's intention? And laſtly; when this band of friends were all met together, was it chance that ſent them to diſcover in ſo remote, ſo deſolate a ſpot, the only object that would complete their happineſs?
Was this chance? Miracles do not happen by chance. No; we are a ſet whoſe uncommon trials have never warped us from our moral duties. Our lives have been watched by that eye that regards virtue with benignity, and this happy meeting is the reward of our truth and fidelity.
[Page 255] Let us now ſee how to be thankful for this bleſſing. I have contemplated, I have weighed, I have conſidered, and I think, indeed, I know there is but one way. Nor let my obſervation be diſregarded; contemplation is more nearly allied to prophecy than is generally imagined. Beings, eſtranged from a converſe with the world, if they cheriſh virtue almoſt commune with the Deity, and concluſions beam acroſs ſuch minds, as rational as truth, and as certain as fate.
I never yet miſtook the ſalutary warnings conveyed in ſuch ſenſations, nor can I thoſe which earneſtly aſſail me at this moment. Dear friends, ſo long loſt, ſo lately found, ſo neceſſary to one another's happineſs, do not caſt from you the certain, the valuable treaſure you poſſeſs. I conjure you to ſeize the only opportunity you have ever had in your power of ſecuring permanent bliſs.
Would you be completely bleſt, would [Page 256] ye never know care, nor anxiety, nor ſorrow. Would ye eſcape the viles of treachery, the practice of villany, the malignity of envy, and all the accumulated miſeries and misfortunes certain to attend a communication with ſociety, tempt not the world again. Let us enjoy a happineſs which our firſt parents ſorfeited by indulging a fatal curioſity. We have here an Eden, it will be our own faults if we do not make it a Paradiſe.
"Why, ay," ſaid Walmeſley, "a man may rot even here." And why not, ſaid I, Mr. Walmeſley? Have you found any thing in the world ſo very grateful, ſo very thankful, in return for all your labour in vain, goodneſs and generoſity, that ſhould induce you to run the riſk of getting into gaol again, or being buried alive for thoſe who did not care if you were buried in good earneſt? "Oh, no," ſaid Walmeſley, "you miſunderſtand me, I think with you. 'In ſuch a ſhabby, ragged, raſcally world, the poſt of honour is a private ſtation.'
[Page 257] 'Well, but Hannah,' ſaid my brother Thomas, 'though certainly your harrangue is full of eloquence, and happens to be every word truth, you don't ſeriouſly, I hope, think of giving up the world.'
Can you tell me brother, ſaid I, in what ſtation happineſs is to be found? Is it in the cottage? No; the poor peaſant ſhall toil out a laborious and weariſome life in penury and want, a ſtranger even to that plenty laviſhed on his maſter's hounds. Is it on the throne? No; the King ſhall be a pattern of goodneſs and virtue, ſhall love his ſubjects like his children, ſhall ſtimulate them to honour by his example, ſhall watch their intereſt, ſtudy their welfare, conciliate and cheriſh their affections, and by gracious, great, and godlike qualities, manifeſt himſelf as the vicegerent of the Deity; yet ſhall ſome diabolical fiend, ſome lurking traytor, ſome dark aſſaſin, [Page 258] ſome malignant foe to order, morality, and every ſocial virtue, be continually diſturbing his repoſe, and cowardly terrifying his amiable conſort, and his lovely progeny, with the perpetual glare of a dagger.
Is this a world then in which a reaſonable being ſhould covet a reſidence? Where envy and her malignant train are perpetually upon the watch to blaſt every bud of virtue? In ſuch a world to be accuſed is to be condemned; and but for conſcious rectitude, which, to the world, carries no letter of recommendation, a man may as well be hanged at Tyburn as be honourably acquitted at the Old Bailey.
Let us then not ſully our happineſs by mixing with a world where virtue itſelf can find no ſafety. We are all mortals, and, here at leaſt, are ſure that no temptation can corrupt us; for the human mind is mutable, and, like wax, is capable of receiving [Page 259] various impreſſions; and my reflections have convinced me that perfection will continue ſo long as it is ſecluded from the world, but too often, when it is mixed with the world, like a drop of milk in a ſink, it will be loſt and confounded, partaking of the colour, ſtench, and quality, of that loathſome filth in which it is abſorbed.
'For my own part,' ſaid my brother Thomas, 'I certainly ſhall not take your advice, but we are pretty nearly of a mind for all that; you chuſe your world in one ſpot, I find mine wherever I go. Thoſe, you know, you wiſh to conſider as friends, I only want acquaintance, though, I believe, you will all do me the juſtice to ſay, my heart is pretty warm too. but I'll tell you one reaſon for this whim of mine; I don't like any thing to touch me too nearly, it would make me a milkſop; therefore, while you refine on pleaſures, I [Page 260] take mine as they come; and this will be the conſequence; your enjoyments will be more perfect than mine, but you will find a bitterer pang than I ſhall at parting from them.'
Heaven forbid, ſaid I, my dear brother, that I ſhould uſe any arguments to induce you to do that of which you would repent, or wiſh that any fears with which I may be poſſeſſed, ſhould ſhake whatever reſolution you may have made. That would be to arraign the very Providence in which I ſo implicitly put my truſt. Should I tell you that I have been once ſhipwrecked, and, therefore, dare not venture in a ſhip again, you would laugh at my womaniſh apprehenſions.
'Indeed I ſhould,' ſaid my brother, 'if you are afraid for me on that account, I thank you for your love, but give yourſelf no concern. I am none of your unfortunate adventurers, who, like Dutchmen, [Page 261] are always aſhore ſome where or other; my way is to arrive ſafe ſhip and cargo. No, no, Old Boreas has too great a regard for me to do me any harm.'
At this inſtant, I know not why, I burſt into a flood of tears. 'Nay, nay,' ſaid my brother, 'my dear Hannah, but you know this is—'I beg your pardon, ſaid I, the ſenſation was involuntary, I aſſure you I would not give you a moment's uneaſineſs—'Well, well,' ſaid he, taking me tenderly by the hand, 'don't let your concern for me afflict you; I ſhall arrive ſafe in Old England never fear, and ſo, I hope, will you for all your apprehenſions.'
As for me, ſaid I, I ſolemnly vow to end my days in this place; my dear huſband has promiſed to ſtay with me, And now, though I have thought it a duty, a moſt tender, a moſt neceſſary, a moſt ſacred duty, to offer what I have ſaid to all your reflections, I will not utter another [Page 262] word to influence any of your determinations, not even that of my ſon. A choice of ſo ſerious a nature ſhould be made from conviction, not from perſuaſion.
"For me," ſaid my brother Peter, "to my mind conviction has followed every word you have uttered. Sacred truth has fallen from your tongue, and I have felt the force of your arguments like inſpiration. Certainly every part of the world is new to us; and without your ſociety, we could be no where perfectly happy. I, therefore, moſt ſolemnly declare that if upon reflection my wife and daughter find nothing in it repugnant to their inclinations, I ſhall conſent to your propoſal upon your own principle of chuſing rational happineſs."
'As to me my love,' ſaid my ſiſter, 'my firſt happineſs in life, from the moment I could remember, was yourſelf; to this moment I have not altered my [Page 263] opinion; and, therefore, as there can be no world for me but where you are, ſo that part of the world muſt be moſt agreeable to me where I have moſt of your company, and particularly in the ſociety of a ſiſter I have ever tenderly loved.
My niece was now conſulted, who ſweetly anſwered that ſhe ſhould be implicitly guided by her father and mother. "Well, then," ſaid my brother Thomas, "If that's the caſe, my nephew Jack will ſtay of courſe." At theſe words, my ſon and my niece bluſhed and looked confounded. "That's right," faid my brother, "don't be aſhamed of that, Old Diogenes ſaid, 'that a bluſh was the colour of virtue.' The fact is, and I ſuppoſe you have all ſeen it, that they love each other." 'We do,' ſaid my ſon, 'with the moſt tender, the moſt honourable affection.' "That," ſaid my brother, "is what I call honeſty. Well, ſince that's the caſe, let Domine tack them together. [Page 264] There is another ſtroke of Providence for you, ſiſter, he came here on purpoſe." My dear brother, ſaid I—"I beg your pardon," ſaid he, "you know I muſt have my joke if the ſhip was ſinking.
"Well, Walmeſley," continued my brother, "what ſay you? You won't ſtay I am ſure." 'Yes, but I will, though,' ſaid Walmeſley, 'my fate cries out, "why, Lord, if I don't ſtay they will have nothing to laugh at." Then turning to me, 'go on, I'll follow thee.' "I'll be even with you then," ſaid my brother, "Britannia ſhall go with me I am determined." 'And would you,' ſaid Walmeſley, 'leave me all alone like a turtle to bemoan the abſence of my mate! a ſingle ſtocking, half a pair of ſheers.'
"No, no," ſaid my brother, "you ſhall ſtay and ſtudy philoſophy." 'Hang up philoſophy,' ſaid Walmeſley, 'unleſs philoſophy could make a Juliet!' And [Page 265] ſo you are in love, ſaid I, Mr. Walmeſley. 'Yes, madam, a thing of my own; a poor humour of mine, to take that which no man elſe will. "Trip Audrey, where is Sir Oliver Martext?"
"Well," ſaid my brother, "to uſe your own manner, I don't like my favours to come hard from me. Britannia has made me her guardian, and I conſent to your marrying her, and ſo, you ſee, it all falls right. Since you are determined to have a little England of your own, you ought to have a Britannia among you; and if the lion had lived, the reſemblance would have been perfect."
Ah my poor Leo! ſaid I. "Well, well," ſaid my brother, "Jack Hewit will protect you from the monkies better than he did; and now, ſince it mun be ſo, as the mayor's ſon ſaid at Nottingham, let Domine do his duty, and then people your iſland as faſt as poſſible."
[Page 266] That, ſaid I, ſhall go as chance may direct it. "Oh Lord!" ſaid my brother, "chance will direct it very well. It will be very hard, indeed, if you can't people this iſland, when the ſame number of perſons once peopled the whole world."
2.9. CHAP IX. IN WHICH, HANNAH HAVING BROUGHT UP THE LEE WAY OF HER LIFE, CAPTAIN HIGGINS SAILS, AND THE HISTORY CONCLUDES WITH A MORAL REFLECTION.[Page 267]
IT was not long before I found that every argument I uſed might have been ſpared; for as it is unconceivable what a heavenly place we were in, ſo the propriety of making it a medium of never ending happineſs became more apparent to every mind, in proportion as their ideas were expanded by its beauty. I own this delighted me. To [Page 268] owe their pleaſure to their own election, not tomy perſuaſion, was a ſatisfaction to me doubly and trebly welcome, for I ſhould have been miſerable, indeed, had there been a chance of a ſingle ſigh among my friends at the expence of their forced conſent in complaiſance to me.
I, nevertheleſs, went over the whole ground again; and finding them firmly attached to their reſolution, I from that moment conſidered every thing like common buſineſs, My brother Thomas conſented to ſtay a fortnight to celebrate the double wedding of my ſon and my niece, and of Walmeſley and Britannia.—This interval it was agreed I ſhould employ in finiſhing my hiſtory, which he faithfully promiſed to get publiſhed, telling me that as he did not much underſtand thoſe matters, Domine ſhould ſtand by and ſee fair play and take care, being a man of letters, to correct the preſs.
[Page 269] Finding that nothing would ſhake our determination, he now bent his whole attention to make us comfortable. He landed from the Dane ſome fine Arabian horſes, a mare with foal, three goats, two kids, and ſeveral Chineſe pigs; all which kindneſs, however, he would very often interlard with obſervations of how rueful we ſhould look when we once loſt ſight of him, and what a glorious laugh he ſhould have againſt us when we got tired and ſought our fortune in a ſkiff of our own building.
I let him jeſt while I wrote; mean while my huſband, my brother, my ſon and Walmeſley, were all cutting out buſineſs, and planning pleaſure for us all; while my ſiſter, my niece, and Britannia were delighted to ſee their huſbands ſo rationally employed, and ſtudying what way they could make their perſons and their conduct moſt agreeable to them. In [Page 270] ſhort, we began already to find our place a little heaven upon earth, and I could plainly ſee the only emulation among us would be who ſhould moſt endeavour to realize that idea.
In the evenings I uſed to read to them what I had written in the courſe of the day; in which they all agreed I had given a faithful repreſentation of their characters, and their fortunes. The comments ariſing from what they heard were expreſſions of wonder, and confirmations of their reſolution, which, as uſual, produced a new effort to enſnare my brother into our plan, to which we generally received ſome ſatirical compliment on our having minds ſuperior to the reſt of our fellow creatures, and ſome ſuch arch remark, as that he ſhould try what he could to eſtabliſh a commercial treaty between Great Britain and her New Colony. "But," added he, "I don't ſee any thing at preſent you have [Page 271] to export but monkies, and we have plenty of thoſe already."
We, on our ſide, did not fail to rally him. When he aſked us what he ſhould do with our money? 'Take it,' ſaid Walmeſley, 'we have ſold you poiſon, you have ſold us none.' Hewit told him, that by the time he had emptied his purſe in ſatisfying thoſe ſharks the landlords, laying to for painted galleys, and relieving the diſtreſſes of honeſt fellows, he would begin to think of his friends in the South Seas. "Well," ſaid my brother, "if it ſhould be ſo, I have made a good obſervation, I know where to find you, and I am ſure you will give me a ſnug birth. In that caſe too, I ſhall not only be able to bring Hannah an account of her life in print, but ſhall be able to tell her how many converts her pains to reform the world will have produced, though between ourſelves, Jack, I think, without any of her prophetic [Page 272] pretenſions, I could tell her that now. No, no, ſhe has a ſtrong mind, but I don't think it Herculean enough to cleanſe that augean ſtable the world."
I told him that I had no hope of accompliſhing any ſuch impoſſible taſk. If the vice I had painted appeared ugly, and the virtue beautiful, it was all I had a right to expect; that done, men muſt think for themſelves. There is no telling mankind, ſaid I, how to be right, nor how to be happy, that knowledge is born with us, and we feel inſulted at hearing an explanation of what we already know. But it is not ſimply to be happy, it is to be happy by rule, by mode, by taſte; thus pleaſure leads to folly, folly to vice, and vice to misfortune, yet nothing is ſo eaſy as to avoid the evil and chuſe the good, but it all ariſes from the perverſeneſs of human nature; and if Jupiter's tubs were promiſcuouſly preſented to mortals for ſale, [Page 273] I know not whether the plagues would not turn out more marketable than the pleaſures.
But my hiſtory is arrived at the very moment in which I am writing; I muſt, therefore, arrange it, and depoſit it, with every neceſſary document, in Hewit's cheſt, that my brother may have every poſſible proof, on his publiſhing it, that all the particulars it contains are true and genuine.
To-morrow we ſhall all have the painful taſk of parting with that dear, that valuable relation. The ſhip will then be underweigh, Heaven ſend that it may arriver at its deſtined port. Many a tear will witneſs our ſeparation, many a wiſh will be wafted in a ſigh that the gale may be propitious; of what my feelings will be at parting, the reader muſt form an idea, juſt as a painter conceals a face his pencil cannot [Page 274] expreſs, and leaves that deſcription of the torne heart it ought to convey to the imagination of the ſpectator.
And now, gentle reader, if I pant for peace, for eaſe, for tranquility, after ſo much turbulence and trouble; if I prefer content and retirement to reſtleneſs and buſtle; a quiet ſpot to a buſy world; an unknown obſcure corner, to my own magnificent and flouriſhing country; think me not loſt to ambition, to pride, to curioſity, to popularity, I am a mortal and poſſeſs them all.
Rather commend me, that made up of paſſions in common with my fellow creatures, I am content to wage no future war with deſtiny. Look at my fortune and confeſs me born, not for myſelf, but for an example to others. Blame me not if I have learnt to know, that, in the world, friendſhip is a name, fame a bubble, honour a jeſt, merit a but for envy, beauty [Page 275] the ridicule of impudence, and virtue the prey of ſlander. Be not hard with me if I grieve, that from the moment of my obſcure birth to the moment of my ſequeſtration from the world, I never found, except in my dear brother, and thoſe who retire with me, a ſingle diſintereſted friend.
Let unprecedented conſiderations excuſe unprecedented conduct; and if, at laſt, I err, and in my error embrace my fate, let it induce, for my conſolation, and for your pity, a recollection of his Divine words, who has benificently taught us, that‘"THERE IS AN ESPECIAL PROVIDENCE IN THE FALL OF A SPARROW."’