IN A LETTER from Mrs. HEARTWHOLE, to DAME NICHOLLS, at High Wood Alms-houses, on her Fears of the French Invasion.


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From Mrs. Heartwhole to Dame Nicholls.

My good Friend,

YOUR two daughters dined at our house last Sunday. It gave me great pleasure to see them, and to find them look so well, and appear to be so comfortably settled. You may be sure I did not fail to make very particular enquiries after you, and very glad I was to find you had had no returns of your cough, but had been strong and hearty all the winter. I was in hopes too of hear­ing that you were in your usual cheerful spirits, but your girls tell me, you have long been quite miserable from your fears of the French. Mary says, you sit by the fire and fancy how things will be when once their army has got footing in old England, till you imagine they are really come, every time you hear any little noise or bustle; and that you are afraid of walking down the village after dark, for fear of meeting them; and that you go to bed in terror every night, lest they should come and murder you before the morning.

My worthy old friend, I cannot but grieve that now you are placed in that happy asylum you have long wished for, that your children are all settled to your satisfaction, that you should make yourself wretched with the fears of an evil which, perhaps, never may arrive. I am sure you will agree with me, that we should never allow ourselves to be terrified without reason; let us then examine the matter a little cooly, and see what cause we have [Page 3]for alarm, and what consolation could be had if all you dread was really to happen.

You should not forget that you are above forty miles from the sea, so that if our enemies were to land on the nearest sea coast they possibly could, and march immediately to your village, they still could not be with you in a moment. News flies very quick you know, so that they cannot well come upon you unawares, without your having had any notice that they are in the country. If there comes a party of foot soldiers they cannot march so quick but that there will be time for the news to spread from place to place before them; and if there comes an army of horse soldiers, the landing the horses must take some time, so that in this case too, you will certainly have notice of their being landed before they can possibly reach you. You see then while all continues still and quiet, you may go to rest in peace without any fear of being disturbed; for if they do come, you need never fear but you will, one way or other, have warning beforehand. Well! you will say, but supposing they cannot take us quite by sur­prize, what assurance have I that in a week's time they may not come and put an end to my life, or turn me out of doors to beg or to starve. I must indeed agree with you that we are in a dangerous state. The king and the parliament by the prepa­rations they have made, shew that they think we have a great deal to fear; but yet it is the opinion of many wise and sensible people, that there is a great reason to hope that we shall beat the French fleet at sea, so as wholly to prevent their coming to invade us; or else that if they do make good their landing, the spirit of free born Englishmen [Page 4]will make them fight so manfully in defence of their country and their liberties, that the enemy will never be able to make slaves of us, or to ad­vance far into our land. For my own part, I will confess to you, I have great hopes that by the bles­sing of God, the means used for our defence will be successful. Our danger is great I allow, but shall we dare to say that we are in such a state that the Almighty cannot deliver us? You and I, my good woman, have both lived too long not to be able to call to mind many examples, both in pub­lic and private affairs, when things have turned out much better than we expected, and unlooked for help has been obtained when we seemed to be on the brink of ruin. You remember the rebellion in the year forty-five, what a fright were we all in when the Pretender talked of marching to Finch­ley; but the goodness of God protected us. The duke of Cumberland defeated the rebel army, and it did not come farther than Derby. But we will talk of what has happened nearer the present time. The French you know have been threatening to invade us ever since the beginning of the war, and many people have been in a continual fright; but by two or three great victories at sea, or by one means or other under the direction of Providence, here we are still in safety, though almost all the rest of the world are involved in the seat of war, and overwhelmed with confusion. Three or four years ago, you know there were continual meet­ings of wicked and seditious people to try to over­throw the King and Parliament, and to bring us into the same state as the French; but these bad designs were not permitted to succeed. Then again last year, when there was a mutiny in our sleet; [Page 5]did it not then seem as if all was over with us, for what could we hope, if our seamen, our defence, turned against us; but you remember how it end­ed. The ringleaders were brought to punishment, and the rest returned to their duty.

We should think of these past deliverances Mrs. Nicholls to make us grateful to God, and to keep up our courage in the present danger; has not He who has preserved us through so many perils, still the same power to protect us? Let us then trust in him and cheerfully hope the best▪ Let us not grumble at the taxes, as if they were intended only to enrich the King or Mr. Pitt, but let us remember that it is owing to them, we are so happy to have an army and navy so well equipped and ready at hand to defend us. Happily for you and I, my old friend, we have not the cares of governing the nation upon our shoulders. All we have to do is to fear God and do our duty in our private station, and then we can never tell how much we may each one of us be the means of drawing down the bles­sing of God upon our country. Recollect that Sodom would have been saved if but ten righteous persons had been found in it.

But notwithstanding all I have said, I cannot deny but that the times are very bad; and God thinking fit to punish the wickedness of some, and to try the faith of others, may permit us to fall into the hands of our enemies. Well, my good friend! and if it should be so, have we not been long taught to consider this life only as a journey to a better? Do we not know that we are each day liable to all sorts of distress? What will it much sig­nify whether our houses catch fire by accident, or are set on fire by the French? Whether an English [Page 6]or a French robber takes away our property? or whether we die upon our beds of a tormenting dis­ease, or are put to death at once by the enemy's sword. There is nothing so terrible in a violent death as is often supposed. It is but shortening the way to Heaven, and depriving us a few days or a few years of life, that would most likely have brought with it many cares and infirmities. Though the French stay away, we must die once, and they can put us to death but once, let them do their worst against us. How excellent then is the ad­vice of our Saviour, "Fear not them which kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do."

But you will say to me, perhaps as you did some time ago, "I am not good enough to die. It is that thought that makes me afraid." I would not lead you to think too well of yourself; but when I consider how much you have tried to obey your Creator, and how honestly and religiously you have brought up your family, I am apt to suppose that I know few people better prepared for death than yourself. But the best among us have done so many wrong things, that we should have cause to be alarmed if it was not for the gracious promises of God, and the intercession of his beloved Son. But now the sting of death is taken away. Jesus Christ has died for us, and if we believe in him and repent, we need not fear but we shall obtain that high happiness he came into the world to procure for us.

But possibly you will reply, you do not fear the French so much for yourself as for your children. You cannot bear the thought that your sons should die in battle, your daughters suffer from the vio­lence [Page 7]of wicked soldiers, and your little grand­children wander about some one way and some another, and either be starved to death or fall into bad hands.

These are sad melancholy suppositions indeed, and I hope none of them will ever come true. You should consider, that because a country is invaded by an enemy, it does not follow that every person is a dreadful sufferer. Thousands in different places, those in a low station particularly, live on still in the same way undisturbed and unthought of. May you and yours be among this number, if the French should really come as they threaten to do.

But whatever becomes of your children, remem­ber they will be under the protection of Heaven. They are all good and virtuous, so that your first wishes are granted. Trust God for the rest. Not one hair of their head can perish without his know­ledge. They are his children as well as yours, and he loves them better than you can possibly do. He will make them as happy now as may be consistent with their everlasting happiness; and will you not submit to his will, if he sees it necessary to appoint that through much tribulation they shall enter into his kingdom? If he brings them into difficulties, he will give them strength to bear up under them. He will be the widow's consolation and the orphan's hope.

Farewel my worthy old friend. Think of what I have written. Try to get up your spirits, and do not let your whole family be unhappy from see­ing you wretched. What would you say to the old soldier, who after fighting for years by the side of his general, turns coward and runs away [Page 8]from him, in the last engagement? Then what will you say to the aged Christian; who after having borne up cheerfully under many afflictions, suffers himself at last to be cast down, and almost to give up his trust in the Lord. It is true, the times are hard, and to us who have families, the prospect before us is a little dark and dreary; but let us look above these earthly clouds, and we shall see all bright again in Heaven.

Your's ever affectionately, HANNAH HEARTWHOLE

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