« PreviousContinue »
still I may be your friend, and that, perhaps, comfortably too. Thou art now sixteen years when you least expect it.”
old, and hast strength, and it was given thee, We were now prevented from further conver- my son, for very useful purposes ; for it must sation by the arrival of the jailor's servants, who save from famine your helpless parents and facame to call over the prisoners' names, and lock mily. Prepare then this evening, to look out up for the night. A fellow also with a bundle for work against to-morrow, and bring home of straw for my bed attended, who led me along every night what money you earn, for our supa dark narrow passage into a room paved like the port." common prison, and in one corner of this I Having thus instructed him, and settled the . spread my bed, and the clothes given me by my rest, I walked down to the common prison, where fellow-prisoner ; which done, my conductor, I could enjoy more air and room. But I was not who was civil enough, bade me a good night. long there, when the execrations, lewdness, and After my usual meditations, and having praised brutality, that invaded me on every side, drove my heavenly Corrector, I laid myself down, me back to my apartment again. Here I sat and slept with the utmost tranquillity till morn- for some time, pondering upon the strange infa
tuation of wretches, who, finding all mankind in open arms against them, were labouring to make
themselves a future and a tremendous enemy. CHAP. XXVI.
Their insensibility excited my highest com
passion, and blotted my own uneasiness from A reformntion in the Jail. To make Laws com- , my mind. It even appeared a duty incumbent plete, they should reward as well as punish. upon me to attempt to reclaim them. I resol
ved, therefore, once more to return, and in spite The next morning early, I was awakened by of their contempt, to give them my advice, and my family, whom I found in tears at my bed, conquer them by perseverance. Going therefore side. The gloomy appearance of everything among them again, I informed Mr Jenkinson of about us, it seems, had daunted them. Í gently my design; at which he laughed heartily, but rebuked their sorrow, assuring them I had ne communicated it to the rest. The proposal was ver slept with greater tranquillity ; and next received with the greatest good humour, as it. inquired after my eldest daughter, who was not promised to afford a new fund of entertainment among them. They informed me that yester- to persons who had now no other resource for day's uneasiness and fatigue had increased her mirth, but what could be derived from ridicule fever, and it was judged proper to leave her or debauchery. behind. My next care was to send my son to I therefore read them a portion of the service procure a room or two to lodge my family in, as with a loud unaffected voice, and found my aunear the prison as conveniently could be found. dience perfectly merry upon the occasion. Lewd He obeyed, but could only find one apartment, whispers, groans of contrition burlesqued, winkwhich was hired at a small expence, for his mo- ing and coughing, alternately excited laughter. ther and sisters, the jailor with humanity con- However, I continued with my natural solemnisenting to let him and his two little brothers be ty to read on, sensible that what I did might in the prison with me. A bed was therefore pre- amend some, but could itself receive no contapared for them in a corner of the room, which mination from any. I thought answered very conveniently. I was After reading, I entered upon my exhortation, willing, however, previously to know whether which was rather calculated at first to amuse my little children chose to lie in a place which them than to reprove. I previously observed seemed to fright them upon entrance.
that no other motive but their welfare could in“ Well,” cried I, “ my good boys, how do duce me to this; that I was their fellow-pri. you like your bed ? I hope you are not afraid to soner, and now got nothing by preaching. I lie in this room, dark as it appears ?”
was sorry, I said, to bear them so very profane; “ No, papa," says Dick ; * I am not afraid because they got nothing by it, and might lose to lie any where where you are.”
a great deal : “ For, be assured, my friends," “And I,” says Bill, who was yet but four cried I, (“ for you are my friends, however the years old,“ love every place best that my papa world may disclaim your friendship,) though you is in."
swore twelve thousand oaths in a day, it would After this, I allotted to each of the family not put one penny in your purse. Then what what they were to do: My daughter was par- signifies calling every moment upon the devil, ticularly directed to watch her declining sister's and courting his friendship, since you find how health ; my wife was to attend me; my little scurvily he uses vou? He has given you noboys were to read to me. “And as for you, my thing here, you find, but a mouthful of oaths son,” continued I, “it is by the labour of your and an empty belly; and, by the best accounts hands we must all hope to be supported. Your I have of him, he will give you nothing that's wages, as a day-labourer, will be fully sufficient, good hereafter. with proper frugality, to maintain us all, and “ If used ill in our dealings with one man,
we naturally go elsewhere. Were it not worth help wondering at what you could see in my face, your.while, then, just to try how you may like to think me a proper mark for deception." the usage of another Master, who gives you fair “My dear sir," returned the other, “ it was promises, at least, to come to him? Surely, my not your face, but your white stockings and the friends, of all stupidity in the world, his must black ribbon on your hair, that allured me. But, be the greatest, who, after robbing a house, no disparagement to your parts, I have deceived runs to the thief-takers for protection. And yet wiser men than you in my time; and yet, with how are you more wise ? You are all seeking all my tricks, the blockheads have been too many comfort from one that has already betrayed you, for me at last." applying to a more malicious being than any “I suppose,” cried my son, “ that the narthief-taker of them all ; for they only decoy, rative of such a life as yours must be extremely and then hang you; but he decoys and hangs, instructive and amusing." and, what is worst of all, will not let you loose “Not much of either," returned Mr Jenkinafter the hangman has done."
son.--"Those relations which describe the tricks · When I had concluded, I received the com- and vices only of mankind, by increasing our pliments of my audience, some of whom came suspicion in life, retard our success. The traand shook me by the hand, swearing that I was veller that distrusts every person he meets, and a very honest fellow, and that they desired my turns back upon the appearance of every man further acquaintance. I therefore promised to that looks like a robber, seldom arrives in time repeat my lecture next day, and actually concei- at his journey's end. ved some hopes of making a reformation here; “ Indeed I think, from my own experience, for it had ever been my opinion, that no man that the knowing one is the silliest fellow under was past the hour of amendment, every heart the sun. I was thought cunning from my very lying open to the shafts of reproof, if the archer childhood; when but seven years old, the ladies could but take a proper aim. When I had thus would say that I was a perfect little man; at foursatisfied my mind, I went back to my apart teen I knew the world, cocked my hat, and loment, where my wife prepared a frugal meal, ved the ladies ; at twenty, though I was perfectwhile Mr Jenkinson begged leave to add his ly honest, yet every one thought me so cunning, dinner to ours, and partake of the pleasure, as that no one would trust me. Thus I was at last he was kind enough to express it, of my con- obliged to turn sharper in my own defence, and versation. He had not yet seen my family, for have lived ever since, my head throbbing with as they came to my apartment by a door in the schemes to deceive, and my heart palpitating narrow passage already described, by this means with fears of detection. I used often to laugh they avoided the common prison. Jenkinson at at your honest simple neighbour Flamborough, the first interview, therefore, seemed not a little and one way or other generally cheated him once struck with the beauty of my youngest daugh- a-year. Yet still the honest man went forward ter, which her pensive air contributed to height. without suspicion, and grew rich, while I still en, and my little ones did not pass unnoticed. continued tricksy and cunning, and was poor
" Alas, doctor," cried he, « these children without the consolation of being honest. Howare too handsome and too good for such a place ever," continued he, “ let me know your case, as this !"
and what has brought you here; perhaps, though “Why, Mr Jenkinson," replied I, “ thank I have not skill to avoid a gaol myself, I may Heaven, my children are pretty tolerable in mo- extricate my friends." rals, and if they be good, it matters little for the În compliance with his curiosity, I informed
him of the whole train of accidents and follies “I fancy, sir," returned my fellow-prisoner, that had plunged me into my present troubles, " that it must give you great comfort to have and my utter inability to get free. this little family about you."
After hearing my story, and pausing some mi"A comfort, Mr Jenkinson !" replied I;"yes, nutes, he slapt his forehead, as if he had hit upit is indeed a comfort, and I would not be with on something material, and took his leave, sayout them for all the world ; for they can make ing, he would try what could be done. a dungeon scem a palace. There is but one way in this life of wounding my happiness, and that is by injuring them."
CHAP. XXVII. "I am afraid then, sir,” cried he, “ that I am in some measure culpable ; for I think I see
The same Subject continued. hore (looking at my son Moses) one that I have injured, and by whom I wish to be forgiven.” The next morning I communicated to my
My son immediately recollected his voice and wife and children the schemes I had planned of features, though he had before seen him in dis- reforming the prisoners, which they received guise, and taking him by the hand, with a smile, with universal disapprobation, alleging the imforgave him. Yet," "continued he, “ I can't possibility and impropriety of it; adding that
my endeavours would noway contribute to their culiar industry. Thus in less than a fortnight, amendment, but might probably disgrace my I had formed them into something social and calling.
humane, and had the pleasure of regarding my“ Excuse me," returned I; “ these people, self as a legislator, who had brought men from however fallen, are still men; and that is a very their native ferocity, into friendship and obedigood title to my affections. Good counsel re- ence. jected, returns to enrich the giver's bosom; and And it were highly to be wished, that legisla. though the instruction I communicate may not tive power would thus direct the law rather to amend them, yet it will assuredly mend myself. reformation than severity ; that it would seem If these wretches, my children, were princes, convinced that the work of eradicating crimes there would be thousands ready to offer their is not by making punishments familiar, but forministry; but, in my opinion, the heart that is midable. Then, instead of our present prisons, buried in a dungeon, is as precious as that seat, which find or make men guilty, which inclose ed upon a throne. Yes, my treasures, if I can wretches for the cornmission of one crime, and mend them I will; perhaps they will not all return them, if returned alive, fitted for the perdespise me: perhaps I may catch up even one petration of thousands—it were to be wished we from the gulph, and that will be great gain ; for had, as in other parts of Europe, places of peniis there upon earth a gem so precious as the hu- tence and solitude, where the accused might be man soul?'
attended by such as could give them repentance, Thus saying, I left them, and descended to if guilty, or new motives to virtue, if innocent. the common prison, where I found the prisoners And this, but not the increasing punishments, very merry, expecting my arrival; and each pre- is the way to mend a state: nor can I avoid even pared with some gaol-trick to play upon the Doc- questioning the validity of that right which so tor. Thus, as I was going to begin, one turned cial combinations have assumed, of capitally my wig awry, as if by accident, and then asked punishing offences of a slight nature. In cases my pardon. A second, who stood at some dis- of murder their right is obvious, as it is the duty tance, had a knack of spitting through his teeth, of us all, from the law of self-defence, to cut off which fell in showers upon my book. A third that man who has shewn a disregard for the life would cry, “ Amen !” in such an affected tone of another. Against such all nature rises in as gave the rest great delight. A fourth had arms; but it is not so against him who steals slily picked my pocket of my spectacles. But my property. Natural law gives me no right to there was one whose trick gave more universal take away his life, as by that the horse he steals pleasure than all the rest; for, observing the is as much his property as mine. If, then, I manner in which I had disposed my books on have any right, it must be from a compact made the table before me, he very dextrously displa- between us, that he who deprives the other of ced one of them, and put an obscene jest-book his horse, shall die. But this is a false compact; of his own in the place. However, I took no no- because no man has a right to barter his life, any tice of all this mischievous group of little beings more than take it away, as it is not his own. And could do, but went on, perfectly sensible that besides, the compact is inadequate, and would what was ridiculous in my attempt would excite be set aside even in a court of modern equity, as mirth only the first or second time, while what there is a great penalty for a trifling inconveniwas serious would be permanent. My design ence, since it is far better that two men should succeeded, and in less than six days some were live, than that one man shouldride. Buta compact penitent, and all attentive.
that is false between two men, is equally so beIt was now that I applauded my perseverance tween a hundred or a hundred thousand ; for and address, at thus giving sensibility to wretches as ten millions of circles can never make a square, divested of every moral feeling, and now began so the united voice of myriads cannot lend the to think of doing them temporal services also, smallest foundation to falsehood. It is thus that by rendering their situation somewhat more reason speaks, and untutored nature says the comfortable. Their time had hitherto been di- same thing. Savages, that are directed by na. vided between famine and excess, tumultuous tural law alone, are tender of the lives of each riot, and bitter repining. Their only employ- other; they seldom shed blood but to retaliate ment was quarrelling among each other, playing former cruelty. at cribbage, and cutting tobacco-stoppers. From Our Saxon ancestors, fierce as they were in this last mode of idle industry I took the hint war, had but few executions in times of peace ; of setting such as chose to work, at cutting pegs and in all commencing governments, that have for tobacconists and shoemakers, the proper the print of nature still strong upon them, scarce wood being bought by a general subscription, any crime is held capital. and, when manufactured, sold by my appoint. It is among the citizens of a refined commument; so that each earned something every day; nity, that penal laws, which are in the hands of a trifle indeed, but sufficient to maintain him. the rich, are laid upon the poor. Government,
I did not stop here, but instituted fines for the while it grows older, seems to acquire the mopunishment of immorality, and rewards for pe- roseness of age ; and as if our property were become dearer in proportion as it increased ; as if " but why this dejection, Livy? I hope, my the more enormous our wealth, the more exten- love, you have too great a regard for me, to per sive our fears-all our possessions are paled up mit disappointment thus to undermine a life with new edicts every day, and hung round with which I prize as my own. Be cheerful, my gibbets, to scare every invader.
child, and we may yet see happier days.” I cannot tell whether it is from the number of “You have ever, sir," replied she, “ been our penal laws, or the licentiousness of our peo- kind to me, and it adds to my pain, that I shall ple, that this country should shew more convicts never have an opportunity of sharing that hapin a year than half the dominions of Europe piness you promise. Happiness, I fear, is no united. Perhaps it is owing to both; for they longer reserved for me here, and I long to be mutually produce each other. When by indisc rid of a place where I have only found distress. criminate penal laws a nation beholds the same Indeed, sir, I wish you would make a proper punishment affixed to dissimilar degrees of guilt, submission to Mr Thornhill: it may, in some from perceiving no distinction in the penalty, measure, induce him to pity you, and it will give the people are led to lose all serise of distinction me relief in dying." in the crime, and this distinction is the bulwark “Never, child,” replied I, “ never will I be of all morality: thus the multitude of laws pro- brought to acknowledge my daughter a prosti. duce new vices, and new vices call for fresh re- tute; for though the world may look upon your straints.
offence with scorn, let it be mine to regard it as It were to be wished, then, that power, in- a mark of credulity, not of guilt. My dear, I stead of contriving new laws to punish vice; in- am noways miserable in this place, however disstead of drawing hard the cords of society till a mal it may seem; and be assured, that while convulsion came to burst them ; instead of cut you continue to bless me by living, he shall neting away wretches as useless, before we have ver have my consent to make you more wretched tried their utility; instead of converting correc- by marrying another.” tion into vengeance,-it were to be wished that After the departure of my daughter, my felwe tried the restrictive arts of government, and low-prisoner, who was by at this interview, senmade law the protector, but not the tyrant, of sibly enough expostulated upon my obstinacy, the people. We should then find, that creatures in refusing a submission which promised to give whose souls are held as dross, only wanted the me freedom. He observed, that the rest of hand of a refiner; we should then find, that my family were not to be sacrificed to the peace wretches, now stuck up for long tortures, lest of one child alone, and she the only one who luxury should feel a momentary pang, might, if had offended me. ~ Besides," added he, “I properly treated, serve to sinew the state in times don't know if it be just thus to obstruct the of danger; that as their faces are like ours, their union of man and wife, which you do at prehearts are so too; that few minds are so base, as sent, by refusing to consent to a match which that perseverance cannot amend ; that a man you cannot hinder, but may render unhappy." may see his last crime without dying for it; and “Sir," replied I, “you are unacquainted with that very little blood will serve to cement our the man that oppresses us. I am very sensible security.
that no submission I can make could procure me liberty even for an hour. I am told, that, even
in this very room, a debtor of his, no later than CHAP. XXVIII.
last year, died for want. But, though my sub
mission and approbation could transfer me from Happiness and Misery rather the result of Prun hence to the most beautiful apartment he is pos
dence than of Virtue in this life; temporal sessed of, yet I would grant neither, as someevils or felicities being regarded by Heaven as thing whispers me, that it would be giving a things merely in themselves trifling, and une sanction to adultery. While my daughter lives, worthy its care in the distribution.
no other marriage of his shall ever be legal in
my eye. Were she removed, indeed, I should I had now been confined more than a fort- be the basest of men, from any resentment of night, but had not since my arrival been visited my own, to attempt putting asunder those who by my dear Olivia, and I greatly longed to see her. wish for an union. No; villain as he is, I should Having communicated my wishes to my wife, then wish him married, to prevent the consethe next morning the poor girl entered my apart- quences of his future debaucheries. But now, ment, leaning on her sister's arm. The change should I not be the most cruel of all fathers, to which I saw in her countenance struck me. The sign an instrument which must send my child numberless graces that once resided there were to the grave, merely to avoid a prison myself ; now fled, and the hand of death seemed to have and thus, to escape one pang, break my child's moulded every feature to alarm me. Her tem- heart with a thousand ?” He acquiesced in the ples were sunk, her forehead was tense, and a justice of this answer, but could not avoid obfatal paleness sat upon her cheek.
serving, that he feared my daughter's life was “I am glad to see thee, my dear,” cried I; already too much wasted to keep me long a prisoner. « However,” continued he, “ though life, which was every day declining for want of you refuse to submit to the nephew, I hope you necessaries and wholesome air. He added, that have no objection to laying your case before the it was now incumbent on me to sacrifice any uncle, who has the first character in the king- pride or resentment of my own to the welfare of dom for every thing that is just and good. I those who depended on me for support ; and that would advise you to send him a letter by the I was now, both by reason and justice, obliged post, intimating all his nephew's ill usage, and to try to reconcile my landlord. my life for it, that, in three days, you shall have “Heaven be praised,” replied I," there is no an answer.” I thanked him for the hint, and pride left me now. I should detest my own instantly set about complying ; but I wanted heart, if I saw either pride or resentment lurke paper, and unluckily all our money had been ing there. On the contrary, as my oppressor laid out that morning in provisions; however, has been once my parishioner, I hope one day he supplied me.
to present him up an unpolluted soul at the For the three ensuing days I was in a state of eternal tribunal. No, sir, I have no resentment anxiety, to know what reception my letter might now: and though he has taken from me what meet with ; but in the meantime was frequent. I held dearer than all his treasures, though he ly solicited by my wife to submit to any condi- has wrung my heart, for I am sick almost to tions rather than remain here, and every hour fainting, very sick, my fellow-prisoner, yet that received repcated accounts of the decline of my shall never inspire me with vengeance. I am daughter's health. The third day and the fourth now willing to approve his marriage, and if this arrived, but I received no answer to my letter; submission can do him any pleasure, let him the complaints of a stranger against a favourite know, that if I have done him any injury, I am nephew, were noway likely to succeed ; so that sorry for it.” Mr Jenkinson took pen and ink, these hopes soon vanished, like all my former. and wrote down my submission nearly as I had My mind, however, still supported itself, though expressed it, to which I signed my name. My confinement and bad air began to make a visible son was employed to carry the letter to Mr alteration in my health, and my arm that had Thornhill, who was then at his seat in the counsuffered in the fire grew worse. My children, try. He went, and in about six hours returned however, sat by me, and, while I was stretched with a verbal answer. He had some difficulty, on my straw, real to me by turns, or listened he said, to get a sight of his landlord, as the sure and wept at my instructions. But my daughter's vants were insolent and suspicious; but he achealth declined faster than mine, every message cidentally saw him as he was going out upon from her contributed to increase my apprehen- business, preparing for his marriage, which was sions and pain. The fifth morning after I had to be in three days. He continued to inform us, written the letter which was sent Sir William that he stept up in the humblest manner, and Thornhill, I was alarmed with an account that delivered the letter, which, when Mr Thornhill she was speechless. Now it was that confine. had read, he said that all submission was now ment was truly painful to me; my soul was too late and unnecessary; that he had heard of bursting from its prison, to be near the pillow of our application to his uncle, which met with my child, to comfort, to strengthen her, to re- the contempt it deserved ; and as for the rest, ceive her last wishes, and teach her soul the way that all future applications should be directed to heaven. Another account came-she was ex- to his attorney, not to him. He observed, how. piring, and yet I was debarred the small com ever, that as he had a very good opinion of the fort of weeping by her. My fellow-prisoner, discretion of the two young ladies, they might some time after, came with the last account. have been the most agreeable intercessors. He bade me be patient-she was dead! The “Well, sir,” said I to my fellow-prisoner, next morning he returned, and found me with “ you now discover the temper of the man who my two little ones, now my only companions, oppresses me. He can at once be facetious and who were using all their innocent efforts to com cruel ; but let him use me as he will, I shall fort me. They entreated to read to me, and soon be free, in spite of all his bolts to restrain bade me not cry, for I was now too old to weep. me. I am now drawing towards an abode that “ And is not my sister an angel now, papa ?” looks brighter as I approach it; this expectation cried the eldest," and why then are you sorry cheers my afflictions, and though I leave a helpfor her? I wish I were an angel, out of this less family of orphans behind me, yet they will frightful place, if my papa were with me." not be utterly forsaken ; some friend, perhaps, " Yes,” added my youngest darling, “ heaven, will be found to assist them for the sake of their where my sister is, is a finer place than this poor father, and some may charitably relieve and there are none but good people there, and them for the sake of their Heavenly Father." the people here are very bad."
Just as I spoke, my wife, whom I had not Mr Jenkinson interrupted their harmless seen that day before, appeared with looks of terprattle, by observing, that, now my daughter ror, and making efforts, but unable, to speak. was no more, I should seriously think of the “Why, my love," cried 1, " why will you thus · rest of my family, and attempt to save iny own increase my afflictions by your own? What