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Dr. Disney, one of the executors, informed me of the legacy of five hundred pounds, which produced as much astonishment in me as any incident of my life. I had not enjoyed the pleasure of his intimacy very long; and felt myself exceedingly gratified indeed to be so regarded by such a man.
That article, at least, of Mr. Dodson's will must have been inserted, or added since my arrival in this place, for the bequest runs, “To Gilbert Wakefield, now a prisoner in Dorchester Gaol,” &c.
I shall soon have finished as much of the Chrysostom as will be advisable for the experiment. Should it answer, there will be, I perceive, good materials for another volume. The printers know my hand so well, that I hope the proofs will come correct without any necessity of giving you trouble.
You will do me justice by expressing to Mr. and Mrs. Barclay, on all occasions, the great interest which I take in their happiness and that of their children, and the sincere esteem which I entertain for them. Mr.
's attention is very grateful;. not because I had the least suspicion of his great intrinsic worth, but because his extreme diffidence and solitary peculiarities render such solicitude much more valuable.
When I write my preface to these translatións" I shall transmit it for your inspection and approbation.
One quarter of my time expires this day; but I have lost all solicitude, or thereabout, on this subject. When you call in Essexstreet, do not fail of giving my affectionate respects to Mr. Lindsey. It is scarcely possible for man to live a more pure, liberal, and conscientious life than he.
My cordial remembrance to your brothers. My family are altogether yours, at all times, with,
My dear Sir,
And unalterable friend,
On the subject of Mr. Dodson's bequest, he expresses himself in similar language to his daughter:—“ In a letter of condolence, which, at the immediate suggestion of your mother, I wrote to Mrs. Dodson, I emplayed such expressions, as a most sincere regard, I may say veneration, for a man, among the most respectable for abilities, and every gentler virtue, naturally excited.
n Of Chrysostom. See supra.
My declarations of esteem were perfectly disinterested and spontaneous; nor could I possibly pre-conceive, from our comparatively short acquaintance, though his behaviour to me was always attentive, and even highly affectionate, that he would have remembered me in his will. I own, independently of his more substantial memorial, I have never been more gratified than by this indication of respect from so amiable and accomplished a character."
While Mr. Wakefield was consoled and animated by an attention to him in captivity, so far beyond " the cold charity of praise;" this captivity was rendered more irksome, than at first, by the illiberal treatment which he began to experience from the keeper of the prison. The subject is mentioned in the following letter, and will be explained more at large in the ensuing chapter.
Dorchester Gaol, Dec, 25, 1799.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
I am sorry for such causes as deprive me of the pleasure of seeing you; but that pleasure will never be enjoyed by my consent
to the sacrifice of important concerns, such as daily press upon you.
In general we all go on very well, and I am very diligent in the pursuit of my object, but think at present of troubling you for no more books.
Indeed I have no room for mány, and some laborious and irksome reading, which must some time have been struggled through, is furnished by my present stock.
This late affair will all blow over, and be productive of some serious good to counterbalance the additional expence. One pleasing consequence, especially, will be an entire separation from such domestic society as was become the principal part of my punishment.
My own conduct has been so unexceptionable here, and is so approved by those gentlemen of the town who visit us, that, with all the partiality of the magistrates, it is not in the power of the adversary [the gaoler] ever to injure me. I never felt more firm and secure, on my own foundation of resolution and good intention, in my life.
Mrs. Wakefield has been distressed by this affair beyond measure; and the forbearance, which I have used, has been entirely in accommodation to her, and indeed of a very proper kind, so that even she will not regret this interruption of our tranquillity any more.