« ForrigeFortsett »
“We set off early in the afternoon; and as we were passing through the turn-pike-gate our attention was arrested by a female who was sitting in the porch with an infant child in her arms, and another, about eight years old, standing by her side. There was an elegant neatness in her appearance, which at the same time indicated the extreme of poverty; and the unaffected modesty of her look made an appeal to our feelings, which we were neither able nor disposed to withstand.” p. 2.
London: PRINTED FOR FRANCIS WESTLEY, 10, STATIONERS’
COURT, AND AVE-MARIA-LANE.
A VISIT TO THE RECTORY.
66 There is a tide in the affairs of men,
An engagement had been made, when the ladies were at the Villa, to pay a visit to the Rectory; and Mrs. John Roscoe very cheerfully consented to make one of the party; but her husband declined, as he stood engaged to meet a few clerical brethren at the Rev. Mr. C- We set off early in the afternoon; and as we were passing through the turnpike-gate our attention was arrested by a female, who was sitting in the porch with an infant child in her arms, and another, about. eight years old, standing by her side. There was an elegant neatness in her appearance, which at the same time indicated the extreme of poverty; and the unaffected modesty of her look made an appeal to our feelings, which we were neither able nor disposed to withstand. We all knew that the annals of human woe record
many tales of sorrow, which the sentimental, philanthropist reads for the pleasure of the strong excitement which they produce; and we also knew, that artifice will sometimes give to misfortune a colouring and a description so highly wrought as to exceed the bounds of probability; but on this occasion we all listened with solemn interest to the narrative of grief which the sufferer reluctantly told us, fully conscious, from her manners and her tone, that she detailed facts which her
had seen, and her own heart had felt. She informed us, that she was the only surviving child of a respectable tradesman who once lived in the town of B- ; that her father, who had been a man of property, had given her a genteel education, and on the day of her marriage presented her husband with a fortune of £2000, which he was to employ in his trade. "My husband," she said, “ unfortunately had a taste for show; he was fond of company; but I was not aware
that we were living beyond our income till the scene of wretchedness burst upon us in all its aggravations of misery. My father was ruined by the failure of a country bank; and it had such an effect upon his mind that he did not long survive it. This shock, which was like an earthquake passing under my domestic happiness, had scarcely been felt, before my husband became involved in trouble. We had a few faithful friends who offered us their sympathy; and one, who stepped for, ward to save us from ruin; but his advice and his warnings were rejected; and the gaming table was resorted to as an expedient against approaching calamity. But this accelerated and increased the evil. My husband failed; and there was only the wreck of a large property for the creditors. He was thrown into prison : there he lived in the worst of society, supported by the labour of my own hands till he obtained his discharge; when he left me and my children, ignorant of the place of his residence, and of his course of life. I lived for three years not knowing whether I was a widow or a wife; during which time it pleased Divine Providence to take from me two sons and a daughter; when I received a letter from my husband, informing me that he was in a good situation in London; and expressing a wish that I would go and live with him. I broke up my little establishment, and went; but I soon found that my most poignant sorrows were yet to be endured. He had obtained a very lucrative situation in a merchant's counting house, who had known us in the more prosperous days of our life; and his income was more than adequate for our support.
But his habits had not been corrected by his misfortunes; he grew worse and worse. The love he once had for me was given to strange women; the theatre and the billiard room were the places of his evening and his midnight resorts; till, hurried on by the evil propensities of his nature, he did a deed which has now left me a widow, and these two children, fatherless. Twelve months only have elapsed since I left my little home of contentment to meet this overwhelming storm; and as we shifted our lodgings three times while in London, I could gain no parochial relief to take me back to the scene of my earlier bliss and woe. I sold the few things that re
mained to me after the landlord had distrained for bis rept, and set off with this babe, born to me in London, and this other child, in a stage waggon; to reach PWhen asleep, the first night, either a fellow traveller, or the driver of the waggon, took from me the little moncy and the few articles of dress I had in
and could not pay him his fare he refused to let me proceed with him. Yesterday I walked ten miles without tasting any food except a few turnips, which bunger, and the cries of my boy compelled me to tako from a field; but as I reached the town of W- in the evening, a humane gentleman gave me a shilling, with which I procured a night's lodging and a few biscuits. To-day we have travelled the same distance on the same fare; till the good man who keeps this gate kindly gave unto us some other food, and permission to rest ourselves.”
This statement was corroborated by the testimony of Mr. Llewe!lin, who, on ascertaining her name, and a few other circumstances, said he recollected the commitment of her husband, and expressed, in concurrence with the rest of the company, his regret that the law had inflicted the severity of its punishment. We instantaneously resolved to defray her travelling expences, and gave her a few pounds in addition, that she might not be driven to seek relief from the parish as soon as she reached P. “Pray," said Mrs. John Roscoe, who was so deeply affected by her tale that she could not refrain from weeping, " by what means do you expect to support yourself and children?” “Indeed, Madam," she replied, “I cannot tell. I kept a day school for young ladies before I went to London, and had a flattering prospect before me; but the ignominious death of my husband will preclude me from resuming that occupation with any hope of success. Though I did not share in his crime, yet I must in his infamy; which will excite so many prejudices against my moral fitness to become a preceptress of the youthful mind, that I dare not venture on the experiment."
Mrs. Stevens. “Oh no! there is too much compassion in the human heart to turn away from the sufferings of a disconsolate widow, as though they were the idle tales of wanton fully; and too much goodness to
suffer the innocent to sink into contempt and infamy because the guilty have been involved in the fatal consequences of their crimes. Have you no friend yet living, who can be touched with the feeling of your infirmities? and who, being touched, may prove willing and able to assist you?”
I hope, Madam,” she replied, with a more elevated tone of voice, “I have one in heaven; but I do not know that I have one on earth. Friends grow not thick on every bough; especially on those whose fruit has fallen, and whose leaves are withered.”
Mrs. Stevens. “ But if you have a friend in heaven, you have one on earth; as he who represents himself the Husband of the widow, and the Father of the fatherless, has all power in earth as well as in heaven: and though you cannot see him, nor perceive the operations of his hand, yet he can open springs in the desert, and make the wilderness of desolation a fruitful field; he can silence the tongue of the gainsayer --allay prejudice--influence opinions—and raise up friends where we expect to meet with foes."
We requested her, on leaving, to write as soon as possible after her arrival at P---; and assured her that if we could, in any possible way, assist her, she might command our services.
envy not the man of fortune who exhausts his resources in his personal gratifications, or who accumulates wealth for the spendthrifts of a future generation; while he keeps aloof from objects of human wretchedness, assigning as an excuse for withholding relief, when solicited, that he does not wish to have the reputation of a charitable man. Oh no! - I can pass by his splendid mansion without casting one lingering look; and feel compelled, if I see him pass before me, to turn away, that my eye may fall on some less offensive object. He loses by his parsimony more than he gains; and exchanges the reputation of honour for the stigma of disgrace.
may love himself—but he will not gain the love of others ; and though he may be surrounded by many who pay the homage of respect, and offer up the incense of fattery, yet they secretly despise the object of their adulation, and look forward to the day of his departure