SOME time ago I drew up a little contrast between a virtuous and a vi­cious character adapted to the lower people; and intended at first merely for the use of my own parish. It was afterwards printed for sale, at the de­sire of my bookseller;* and as it was better received than I imagined such a trifle could have been, I was in­duced to complete the plan by ano­ther [Page iv]little work of the same kind, a­dapted to the higher ranks of people; to whom I now offer it.

To the two first characters, which are both fictitious, I have added two others, with a view to improve the contrast, and to throw a still stronger light on the power of religion. These two latter characters are taken from real life.

The former of them is extracted chiefly from a book entitled ‘Some passages of the life, and death of John, Earl of Rochester, written by his own direction, on his death-bed, by Gilbert Burnet, bishop of Salis­bury.’—The [Page v] whole of the bish­op's treatise, which records many things not mentioned here, is well worth the attentive perusal of every one, who would see in a strong light the ascendancy of religion over wick­edness.—With the bishop's narrative is commonly printed a sermon preach­ed at Lord Rochester's funeral, which contains many other remarkable par­ticulars. I have extracted some of the most interesting from both.

The last of these little memoirs is the history of a child of Nature—a young African prince, of the name of Naimbanna, who was sent into [Page vi]England by the Sierra Leone com­pany, to be instructed in the christian religion. The materials of this me­moir consist partly of extracts from the reports of that company—and partly of particulars received from those, who kindly took on them the in­struction of this young African.

An apology is perhaps due for thus mixing fiction and reality in the same work. But in real characters we can­not always procure the several circum­stances, and positions in life we wish to exhibit. And as to the impropri­ety of mixing them, in fact, I am in­clined [Page vii]to consider them all of the same species. The two first of these me­moirs do not mean to recommend themselves under the idea of fiction; but as pictures drawn from the life. If indeed they had been embellished with romantic, or unnatural circum­stances, they could not certainly have united with real life. In that case,

—Nec pes, nec caput uni
Reddatur formae.—

But I suppose there is not a single incident in these fictions which hath not been exemplified at different times in a thousand instances in real life; tho perhaps they never all met [Page viii]together in any two persons. They differ therefore, I conceive, from real life no otherwise, than as a landscape composed from selected parts of va­rious countries differs from the por­trait of some real scene. Both are equally copies from nature.—Nay perhaps the fictitious character is the more natural one. The deep repent­ance of Lord Rochester, and the in­genuous mind of Naimbanna, which these pages present, are circumstances full as much, I fear, out of the com­mon road of nature, as any, which occur in the two former of these me­moirs.


MR. WILLOUGHBY was the son of a very worthy father, and of an excellent mother; both of whom took great pains in impressing his mind with an early sense of religion. As he grew up, his father resolved to educate him in a manner very different from the fashionable mode of educating youth. He was afraid of a public school. He was afraid also of a university either at home, or abroad: and still more he [Page 2]was afraid of foreign travel; which, in his opinion, afforded little advan­tage to an English gentleman.

He placed his son therefore at an early age under the care of a neigh­bouring clergyman who had no other charge; and of whose piety and learn­ing he was well assured. With this worthy gentleman, young Mr. Wil­loughby passed several years with great advantage; making at different times, as his education advanced, ex­cursions for amusement, into different parts of the kingdom, sometimes with his father, and sometimes with his tutor.

[Page 3]Mr. Willoughby in the mean time, was often taxed with bringing up his son in so recluse a manner. His reply was; he did not think our pub­lic schools, and universities, made religion so much the grand point of education, as he could wish. They made human learning he thought, take the lead too much. Besides, the dis­sipation of youth in this licentious age made him dread a connection with them. In soberer times he should have been less afraid. ‘I chuse ra­ther, said he, to pursue my own method. My first business is to make my son a good christian, [Page 4]which is the foundation of every thing that is useful, and beneficial. I shall then endeavour to qualify him for that station, in which Pro­vidence hath placed him.’

Accordingly, when he was about the age of eighteen, the old gentleman brought him home; and carrying him one day into his study, he seated him near his own elbow-chair; and taking him by the hand, ‘My dear Frank, said he, I am now growing into years, and wish to disincumber myself from the management of my affairs. You are now of an age to assist me: and there is no assistance, which a fa­ther [Page 5]can have, so desirable as that of a well disposed son. Their inte­rests are the same. Besides, added he, as you are to be bred to your fa­ther's prosession—that of a country gentleman—while you serve me, you will also be learning, if I may so speak, your own trade.’

Nothing could be more agreeable to young Mr. Willoughby, than the idea of being of use to his father. He only feared his own inability. With the assistance however of an old steward, he hoped every thing would go on well. With him therefore at his elbow, he settled accounts—re­newed [Page 6]leases—and eased his father of all trouble, except that of now and then signing his name. And yet he had sufficient time for his books, and the indulgence of his taste in the po­lite arts, of which he was extremely fond, and in which his father greatly encouraged him as a rational amuse­ment.

One thing, in which his father employed him, was to pay regularly all his little pensions to poor widows, superannuated labourers, and old ser­vants, of whom he had several on his list.

Among his own labourers, and [Page 7]those of his tenants, it was his custom also, when the parents were deserving people, to allow four guineas a year for every child above three. But when the eldest went out, the fourth was considered as a third. In paying all these little pensions, which were scattered about the country, Mr. Wil­loughby found no inconvenience, as he made them consistent with his usual exercise on horseback. It was an employment too, in which he found much pleasure, as he was every where joyfully received on so kind an er­rand; and found his own happiness more and more increased, the more [Page 8]he became the instrument of happi­ness to others.

In the mean time his father carried him always with him to the sessions—the assizes—and county-meetings, to initiate him by degrees into the know­ledge of such affairs, as might after­wards engage him. Thus by training him up in the business of a country gentleman, and the various offices of a useful life, he thought he had done more for him, than if he had sent him to the best university in Europe. When they came home from any public meeting, the old gentleman always assisted his son in making ob­servations [Page 9]on men, and things. If he had observed any gentleman, who had behaved with propriety, and was listened to with attention—or any, who had been loud, overbearing, and treated with neglect, he would re­mark to his son the propriety, or the impropriety of every thing he had seen.

While Mr. Willoughby was thus training up an affectionate son in the useful offices of life; and was about to give him more consequence by settling an independence upon him, he was suddenly carried off by a fit [Page 10]of apoplexy, before his son had yet attained his twenty-second year.

In the neighbourhood of Mr. Wil­loughby lived Sir Thomas Leigh, whose eldest son was nearly about the age of Mr. Willoughby. Sir Tho­mas was one of those prudent parents, who blamed exceedingly the recluse manner, in which his neighbour Mr. Willoughby brought up his son; and gave a very different education to his own. He thought a knowledge of the world at large was indispensably necessary to a gentleman of fortune. To see the tricks, and obliquity of [Page 11]mankind with his own eyes, was the only way, he said, by which a young man could be taught to guard against them. Sir Thomas was what the world called a decent man. He was seldom guilty of any open breach of duty; but he had no great solicitude about religion; and thought accom­plishments stood higher in the scale of life, than christian virtues. Under the impression of these ideas he sent his son to a public school, with plenty of money in his pocket to teach him the early use of it. And by the time the young man had gained a very fashionable knowledge in the art of [Page 12]spending it, in which few made a greater proficiency, he was sent to the university, where he found himself in a more enlarged field for displaying his abilities. Here he soon became so well versed in every polite mode of expence, that his father's pocket, tho it had never been a close one to him, began seriously to complain. Sir Thomas apprehending therefore, what indeed he might have apprehended without much sagacity, that Jemmy had gotten into bad company, re­solved prudently to break his con­nections, before it was too late. He hurried him away therefore im­mediately [Page 13]with a genteel young man, who attended him as a sort of some­thing between a tutor and companion, to a foreign university.

It soon however appeared, that bad company may be sound abroad, as well as at home, and that young Mr. Leigh had always the address to get acquainted with the worst.

But the most consummate effort of his genius, was, to corrupt his tutor; which was a matter of great import­ance to him: for while he himself was incessant in drawing bills, his trusty friend was equally assiduous in form­ing plausible excuses. Sometimes [Page 14]finding gentle fault—sometimes palli­ating—and sometimes hinting at the young gentleman's better resolutions, he managed with such dexterity, that he kept himself free from all sus­picion; and by that means was effect­ually enabled to assist his young friend in completely duping his father.

Sir Thomas however had now found by his banker's accounts, that he had gotten wrong a second time in his ideas of education. He called to mind therefore the old proverb, of a rolling stone which gathers no moss, and determined, that Jemmy sould never reside long at any one place; but [Page 15]sould travel from country to coun­try; and so get an enlarged insight into the manners of men.

With this view he dispatched a trusty old Swiss servant to accompany him in his travels, with his pocket-book stuffed with recommendatory letters to all the English ministers at the several courts of Europe.

In consequence of these orders the two friends, who were then at Rouen, set out immediately for Paris. From thence they hurried away to Lyons. Turin received them next. There crossing the Alps, they found them­selves in Italy, which they traversed [Page 16]from the Po to the bay of Naples, During all these journeys, they in­vestigated the manners of different countries in hotels—brothels—gam­ing-houses, and theatres.—At Naples their career was stopped. Mr. Leigh there received an account of his father's death; which was a joyful note to him, not only as he succeeded to his title and estate; but as nobody now could call him to account.

Thus these two young gentlemen, Mr. Willoughby, and Sir James Leigh inherited their paternal estates nearly at the same time. Mr. Wil­loughby [Page 17]could spend an income, clear of all incumbrances, of five thousand a year. Sir James Leigh's estate, independent of his mother's settlement, brought him in more than double that sum. The two young gentlemen had been acquainted from their infancy; and now lived within half a dozen miles of each other; but being men of very different dispo­sitions and pursuits, their intimacy, which had never been great, dwindled into a few ceremonious visits.

Their different dispositions began soon to appear. Mr. Willoughby [Page 18]following the steps of a judicious fa­ther, was in no haste to make any alteration in his house, grounds, or manner of living. What schemes of improvement he had, he prudently considered, before he put them in execution. He thought it prudent also to lay by a little money for these purposes, left they might involve him in difficulties, from which he could not easily free himself.

In the mean time, none of his fa­ther's pensions, or charities, which were very considerable, were discon­tinued. But he paid nothing with so much pleasure as a hundred a year, [Page 19]which his father had settled for life up­on his old tutor. He would gladly have doubled it; but the old gentle­man would not suffer him. ‘Be con­tent, said he, my dear Franky, (which was his common mode of accosting him) be content with what your father has done. He was a very generous man; and if you go be­yond him, I fear you will exceed.’

While Mr. Willoughby acted this prudent part, his neighbour, Sir James, set off in full career. He had scarce taken possession of his estate, when he had half the workmen of the [Page 20]country about him on different pro­jects. But his favorite scheme was a superb pile of stabling, which he built at a vast expence; and then furnished it with a great variety of the best horses, for the road—the field—the race—and the carriage. By the time his stables were com­pletely filled, he had not only con­sumed all the ready money his father had left him, which was no inconsider­able sum; but was obliged to make up deficiencies by borrowing seven thousand pounds. The yearly expence of this vast establishment of grooms, and horses, to which he added a ken­nel [Page 21]of hounds, was not so little as eighteen hundred pounds.

In the mean time, as he detested all thoughts of marriage, he seduced from her friends, a beautiful young woman, the sister of a lieutenant of a man of war, whose dependent state as a mis­tress would free him, he hoped, from all the inconveniences, which he dreaded in a wife. But he had made a few small mistakes, as most people do, who amuse themselves with these licentious calculations In fact, he knew nothing of her, beyond her personal charms; nor had made any observations on her manners [Page 22]and behaviour. Under a meek and modest demeanor she concealed a very violent temper; and under an apparent simplicity of manners, which indicated a ductile spirit, she possessed a very obstinate and re­fractory one. Her insolence soon began to appear; and was such, that he was daily more or less disconcerted by it. From the first, it was her ob­ject to make herself the entire mistress of his family: and from less proceed­ing to more, she ordered coaches, and horses, when she pleased—she directed his motions to different places—she turned away his servants [Page 23]—and even sometimes affronted his company. She had the art however, when she saw she had carried matters too far, to throw in a little soothing submission: and as he was fascinated with her charms, his wrath, tho daily raised, was as often asswaged. Every action of her life shewed she despised him: but she knew her pow­er; and tho she delighted in teizing, and making him miserable, she still held him in the bonds of inchant­ment.

Mr. Willoughby's ideas of domes­tic happiness were very different. [Page 24]He thought a marriage founded in virtue, mutual affection, and mutual interest, gave him a better chance for happiness, than the loose indulgence of a dissolute passion.

About a mile from his house stood a good old mansion, which had often been used as a jointure-house by the widows of the family. Here Mr. Willoughby's mother chose rather to reside, with an only daughter, than to live with her son. The company he was unavoidably obliged to keep, she thought might be some little intrusion on the quiet of her morning and even­ing hours, which she generally spent [Page 25]alone in her chamber, over her bible. But tho the families lived separately, the distance was so small, that they were generally together.

Miss Willoughby had an intimate friend, a young lady of her own age, of the name of Henneage, who gene­rally spent a part of every summer with her. Here Mr. Willoughby, of course, frequently saw her, and as often admired her. But his behave­our was so very distant, that it was im­possible she could take the least notice of it. At length, when he was fully assured of her good qualities, and his own resolution, he ventured to open [Page 26]his mind to his mother, and sister. He soon found he could do nothing more agreeable to them, than to pay his addersses to Miss Henneage. His sister indeed told him, she always sus­pected he had an affection for her; ‘Not, said she, from any thing I ever observed in your behaviour; but because I thought it was im­possible you could look with indif­ference on such excellence.’

Matters being in this train, Mr. Willoughby left it to his mother to open the affair to Miss Henneage; which she did one evening as the young lady came into her chamber to [Page 27]ask, if she had any objection to her taking a walk with Nancy to the dairy-farm? ‘I have no objection at all, my dear Lucy, said Mrs. Wil­loughby; and now you must tell me, whether you have any object­on to what I am going to ask you. On mentioning the affair, Mr. Wil­loughby's pleasing form, and manly adderss, and virtues, that were the theme of every tongue, came suddenly rising at once to her imagination: a sort of palpitating confusion over­spead her whole frame; and she could answer only with a blush. She was above any coquetish airs: and the old [Page 28]lady needed no other language to con­vince her, she had seen her son with as favourable eyes, as he had seen her. ‘Well, my dear, said Mrs. Wil­loughby, go, and take your walk with your friend; only don't stay out so late, as you did last wed­nesday.’

Among other things, which passed between the two friends, in their even­ing walk, on this important occasion, Miss Henneage said, it had been her secret intention, as she was so well provided for by her father, to lead a single life, and spend her time, and for­tune, like her good aunt, in being of [Page 29]service to her neighbours. ‘And I believe said she, nothing but such a temptation as your brother has thrown in my way, could have altered my intention.’

Matters being now settled, and Mr. Willoughby pressing for an early day, she said, as she was not yet nineteen, she could not think of changing her state of life, till at least two years more had passed over her. To this Mr. Willoughby reluctantly consent­ed, upon condition she would spend that time with his mother, and sister. Miss Henneage laughed, and said, she did not ask his consent, nor thought [Page 30]herself tyed by any of his conditions. She was yet her own mistress; and intended to spend the next two years with her good aunt, as she had always done.

As her aunt lived at the distance of thirty miles, this interdict was a severe trial to Mr. Willoughby. But he was obliged to submit; and had only the satisfaction of calling her a cruel, hard-hearted girl. She had the plea­sure however to find, that her judici­ous young friend intirely approved her resolution.

But tho the two years went heavily on, Mr. Willoughby had the happi­ness [Page 31]at length to find, they had an end. His happiness was the happiness of the country. When he brought his lady home from her aunt's, the whole neighbourhood was in a tumult of joy. Among other compliments paid him on the occasion, a very ele­gant copy of verses was laid, by an unknown hand, upon his hall-table, intitled Francis and Lucy, or the happy marriage.

In the mean time, Sir James Leigh was carrying on his improvements, as he called them, with a profusion of ex­pence, that astonished every body. [Page 32]If you walked near his house, you saw groups of labourers, here, and there, and every where—removing ground—widening rivers—building bridges—or employed in other expensive ope­rations ; none of which had been well considered, or was conducted with the least taste, or judgment; for he had too high an opinion of himself to fol­low the advice of any one. His pro­jects were all in opposition to nature. He seemed to delight in difficulties. If a piece of rising ground stood in his way, instead of casting about, how to turn it into a beauty, he would immediately order it, tho of conder­able [Page 33]dimensions, to be removed. Such violence is generally esteemed by all judicious improvers, as absurd, as it is expensive.

Within doors he had a large family of ill-governed servants; who being haughtily treated, and ill-paid, had no regard for their master; and made no scruple of paying themselves by every little fraudulent exaclion; and by purloining whatever they could lay their hands upon. Every thing without doors was in the same stile of prefusion. The waste and pilfering in his stables, and other out-houses, was enormous.

[Page 34]Money however now, as it may well be supposed, began to grow scarce. Borrowing was his first re­source. But as he had different modes of spending money, it became necessary to have different modes of procuring it. As one of the easiest, a friend suggested to him the method of borrowing money on annuities; and introduced him to a grave gentleman, who had always money ready to assist unfortunate young men. From this friend of his necessity he could obtain, whenever the hour of distress came upon him, three, or four thousand pounds with no more trouble than [Page 35]that of signing his name. Poor Sir James, who never looked beyond the pressing exigence, had neither the arithmetic, nor the foresight to cal­culate how much his estate diminished, as his wants were relieved. The course of things however ran on, not-withstanding his supineness; and at the end of ten years, he found he could not spend annually, out of his large estate above four thousand pounds. All this however did not open his eyes. He still went blindly on.

His prudent neighbour, in the mean time, had carryed on his im­provements [Page 36]in a different manner. He went on slowly; but at the end of seven years much was to be seen. His father had never shewn any instances of taste; nor had he ever pretended to it. The son had more refined ideas; but indulged them with great propriety. He not only kept within his abilities; but by collecting la­bourers at those times, when other work was not easily to be had, he made his improvements answer the double end of advantage to himself; and of convenience to his neighbours.

Then again by laying out his plans judiciously at first, he had never occa­sion [Page 37]to alter them afterwards. Many people spend as much in altering, and undoing, as in their original work; which was poor Sir James's case.—He had three times altered the course of a rivulet, that ran through his park; and had as often changed the situation of a bridge. And what was singular, his second thought was generally worse than the first; and his third, than the second. The bare alterations, had turning, the front, of a Temple of Fame, cost him nearly five hundred pounds. The country people gave it afterwards the name of the Temple of Folly.—Mr. Willoughby's improvements were [Page 38]chargeable with none of these ill-di­gested absurdities. What he did, was done.

It was one of his great rules also, never to fight with nature. Her clue guided all his operations. Where she led, he followed: and thus, at the same time he formed the most beauti­ful scenes, and saved more than three fourths of the expence, which his pre­cipitate neighbour would have incur­red by attempting the same thing. Every autumn he made a little addi­tion to his plan; but he meant the full completion of his design to be the amusement of his life. He judici­ously [Page 39]considered, that when a plan is finished, it often becomes insipid: but a growing work seldom fails to be a constant source of pleasure.

That great error of suffering any single part to swallow up the rest, he avoided. Sir James Leigh had con­fessedly the grandest stables in the country; but they were the stables of a prince, not of a country gentleman: they were far beyond the scale of his house, or any of its appendages. In Mr. Willoughby's improvements, and whole economy, you saw nothing but propriety, and proportion. No gentleman made a more elegant ap­pearance—rode [Page 40]a better horse—or had a more genteel equipage. If you entered his house, you saw every thing in the same stile of elegance, and economy: and if you looked into his stables, you saw a sufficient number of good, useful horses; but no super­sluous expence. You saw neither race-horse, nor hunter. Racing he considered as gambling: and as to hunting, he thought its many disa­greeable accompaniments took away from it every idea of an amusement.

As to his servants, many of them were a kind of heir-looms. They had lived with his father—hap known [Page 41]him from a boy—and were at­tached to his interest: while every new servant readily adopted the ways of so orderly a society. Indeed his servants were generally the children of his tenants, and labourers, whom he took early into his house; and ad­vanced as they deserved. From this way of making up his family, he said, he found great advantage. He had not only his own eye upon his ser­vants; but the eye also of their pa­rents. In the mean time, his service, which was indeed an inheritance, was always anxiously sought after. Such of his servants who had lived long with [Page 42]him—had behaved well, as they gen­erally did—and were desirous of set­tling in the world, he always provided for; procuring for one a place, and giving another a farm. For their re­ception he had several little tenements scattered about his estate—some of them within the precincts of his park, which he used to call his out­posts. "It would be a difficult thing, he would say, for a trespasser to attack me on any side with so many faithful eyes about me."

Many of these tenements were in sight of his house—his garden, or his park: and they were built and con­trived [Page 43]in such a manner, as to adorn several little scenes within his view. Some of his neighbours thought these tenements would have had a better effect, if they had been built in the form of churches and abbeys, and castles. But Mr. Willoughby's taste was more simple. He had a great dislike to affectation in every shape; and thought the plain ornaments of nature the most pleasing decorations of a cottage. A tusted grove—a winding road—the margin of a lake—the banks of a river, or some other natural circumstance, were much more [Page 44]pleasing to him, than those pompous trifles, which many people admire.

Among servants brought up, and considered in the affectionate manner, in which Mr. Willoughby considered his servants, there was nothing of that riot, waste, and profusion, which were endless among the servants at the other house. A careful, old housekeeper, a butler, and a groom, who had long managed his kitchen, his cellar, and his stables, saw to the end of every thing. Thus altho Mr. Willoughby lived as hospitably, as generously, and as respectably as any gentleman in the country, and had [Page 45]made many improvements around him—yet by cutting off all needless expence, and by introducing strict economy into such expences, as he thought needful, he not only lived within his income; but he had laid by two, or three thousand pounds, as a little fund against emergencies; to which every year he added something. And if any one mentioned to him his acts of bounty, or generosity, he would say, "Do not tell me of these things. I get scandalously rich, what­ever you may suppose." Indeed he used always to assert that what he gave, [Page 46]made him richer, in a literal sense, instead of poorer.

The great difference between Sir James Leigh's ideas of expence, and Mr. Willoughby's, was this. Sir James denied himself in nothing. Whatever foolish scheme came into his head, let the price be what it might, he considered only the imme­diate gratification.—Mr. Willoughby, on the other hand. denyed himself many things, not because he should not have taken pleasure in them, but because he thought them inadequate to the price he was to pay: that is, in short, he considered himself as the [Page 47]steward of heaven's bounty; and thought he should have acted as un­justly towards his great master, if he had lavished that bounty improperly, as his own steward would have done, if he had embezzled his rents. Give an account of thy stewardship, was a regulating principle with him in all his expences.

If in any amusement Mr. Wil­loughby exceeded, it was in the pur­chase of pictures: and yet in this, he acted with great judgment. If a col­lector resolve to purchase such pic­tures only as are curious, and capital, he may be led into any expence. But [Page 48]pictures of this kind are often less prized for their excellence, than for the master's name, or some other cir­cumstance; which has little connection with their real value. Much better pictures may be frequently bought at a lower price, tho the connoiseur hath not set his stamp upon them. Among pictures of this second class Mr. Willoughby made his collection. He had a good eye; and furnished his whole house for a sum of money, which the curious collector sometimes gives for a single piece. And yet he was not quite satisfied with his ex­pences on this head; tho it was the [Page 49]only expensive amusement, in which he indulged himself. ‘I have been looking (said he, one day to a friend) into my picture-accounts; and I find the pictures in this house have cost me the shameful sum of one thousand, five hundred, and thirty-two pounds. But my father, good man, used to encourage me in these expences; and perhaps his encou­ragement may have carried me too far.’—This self-conviction did not arise in any degree from his in­curring an expence that was incon­venient to him; but merely from the fear of having spent on an amusement [Page 50]what might have been spent on a more proper occasion.

Several of his apartments had been adorned in his father's time, with family-pictures. But they were such miserable representatives cf some very respectable people, that Mr. Wil­loughby used to say, when he looked at them, they belied every anecdote he had ever heard in their favour.

He did not however send his family-pictures, as many do, into a garret; but hung them up in a large room, which he dedicated to the Manes of his Ancestors. This room he contrived to make one of the most interesting [Page 51]apartments of his house. Tho the pictures were bad, the frames were rich; and made a splendid appearance. Each portrait was numbered; and these numbers referred to a book, which lay on a table covered with green cloth, in the middle of a room. In this book he gave a modest account of all the persons, men, and women, who were assembled on the walls; which accounts he prefaced by saying, that ‘as many of those persons had deserved better treatment, than they had found from the hands of the artists, who had pourtrayed them, he had endeavoured with filial piety [Page 52]to his ancestors, to make up the deficiency.’—The following in­stance will shew the manner in which he drew up these short accounts.

No. IX.

This gentleman, who from the whimsical manner, in which the painter has surrounded him with birds, might be taken for a bird-catcher, is Mr. Willoughby, the ornithologist, son of Sir Francis Willoughby, (No. VIII.) who hath just been mentioned. At the age of thirty seven, at which he died, he had attained more learning, and [Page 53]knowledge in various branches, especially in natural history, than almost any man of his time. And what is still more, he hath ever been looked up to by his grateful poste­rity, as a pattern of virtue.—See his works in the library, (S. 15. 7.) and an account of him by his friend Mr. Ray, the celebrated naturalist, who revised, and published them. Mr. Ray in his preface to his Orni­thology, says, What rendered Mr. Willoughby most commendable, was his eminent virtue, and goodness. I cannot say, that I ever observed such a confluence of excellent qualities in [Page 54]one person. Mr. Ray then enume­rates the several excellent qualities, which he had observed in him.

Thus Mr. Willoughby had the ingenuity to turn a number of bad pictures into a set of very entertaining, companions. For as the persons they represented, had figured in various prosessions of life, and many of them very reputably, he had collected from tradition, letters, and family-records, many amusing anecdotes of most of them.

With three of these pictures he was a little perplexed. Two of them were by Vandyck, and the third by Sir [Page 55]Peter Lely: and as all the three were good, he would have been glad to have hung them up in one of his best rooms. But on consideration, he hung all together, and graced the bad with the good.

Of taste, in any shape, except the most gross and sensual, Sir James Leigh had no idea. Of books he knew nothing. He was totally illite­rate; and in every branch of science intirely ignorant. On his intimacy with the polite arts indeed he valued himself greatly: but his knowledge of them went no further, than that kind of [Page 56]insipid, insignificant prattle, which dis­tinguishes a coxcomb. Few people therefore who had the least pretension, either to taste, or reading, or virtue, or any thing commendable, ever came near him. The company that fre­quented his house, were the spend­thrists—the horse-racers—the game­sters, and other prosligate young fel­lows of the country. Their table-conversation was commonly made up of the occurrences of the last horse­race—the last cock-fight—or the last hunting-match—perhaps at what ta­vern such a dish was best dressed—or where the best wine of such a kind [Page 57]was sold. The brothel too was a common theme among them. And all this conversation was larded with oaths—prophaneness—and obscenity. Loud debates too on these important subjects would often ensue—many clamouring at once—while others were singing filthy songs and catches—till, as the hour grew late, and bottle after bottle, had been called for—all this horrid din sunk by degrees into the beastly stupidity of intoxication.

All such intemperance and irregu­larity, tho not immediately felt in a young constitution, yet will sap it by degrees: and Sir James found, before [Page 58]he was forty, that his vicious pleasures, and common modes of life, had even then begun to call him to a severe account.

In the mean time all those disgust­ing scenes, which were acted in the parlour, were acted over again in the servant's hall; where they were heightened, if possible, with still more abominable brutality.

To all this, Mr. Willloughby's fa­mily was a direct contrast. He was rather a retired man himself, and not fond of company. But his station in life brought many people about him; [Page 59]tho he mixed freely with those only, who were men of approved charac­ter. With these he was always on the best terms. The clergyman of the parish, who was a religious and sensible man, and about his own age, was much his companion. Besides him, there were a few more men of letters in the country; with whose elegant and instructive conversation he always mixed with great pleasure. But when the discourse did not turn on literary subjects, nothing was ever heard at his table, that was not at least innocent, chearful, and good-hu­moured. Often it turned on modes [Page 60]of easing the distresses of the poor, and of adding to their comforts. Most of the benevolent schemes, car­ried on in the parish, of which there were many, took their rise at Mr. Willoughby's table.

At such a board, it may easily be imagined, no irregularity could be admitted. Mr. Willoughby himself lived with that temperance, and so­briety, which all wise men would practise even on worldly motives, tho they did not consider those virtues in the light of christian duties. And in his company no man, if he were even inclined, durst exceed. Saints are [Page 61]commonly painted with a glory round their heads. A sort of splendid at­mosphere somewhat of this kind sur­rounds good men, within the influ­ence of which nothing indecent dare approach.

The amusements of the family were as rational as their conversation. Mr Willoughby's library was a room for use, not for shew. It was adorned with globes, maps, and other suitable appendages. He spent much of his time among his books. Cards were never seen in his house; an aversion to which he inherited from his father, who always thought them the most in­sipid [Page 62]of all amusements. A game at chess he would sometimes play with the vicar; which was commonly a sharp contention between them; and often drew on more eagerness, than Mr. Willoughby liked; each having the vanity to think he was the better player.

In summer also bowls were much in fashion; in which Mr. Willoughby was superior to all his antagonists. The gentlemen who commonly fre­quented his green, used to laugh, and say, they would vote him out of all their matches; for they were sure he exercised himself with his bowls alone. [Page 63]—And this indeed was true enough: for it was his usual practice, when he found himself languid at his book, to step out at a back-door in his study, which opened near the bowling-green, and refresh himself there with a little excrcise.

But his amusements of every kind were moderate, and rational; and his servants having no examples before them, but what tended to their im­provement, fell naturally into all those modes of quietness, regularity and ci­vility, which appeared so amiable in their master; whose endeavour they plainly saw, was to make them happy, [Page 64]and gratify them in every thing that was proper for them.

The employment, and amusements of the neighbouring family were very different. Sir James Leigh acted like a man, who thought a large for­tune had been given him merely to spend in different modes of dissipation. Gaming was his predominant passion. Nothing ingrossed his thoughts so much: nor was any one welcome at his house, who was not addicted to cards, and dice.

Cards, and dice likewise descended into the servant's-hall, where the spirit [Page 65]of gaming, only in a lower stile, reigned with all its associate passions, as much as in the parlour.

But his gaming in the country was comparatively mere amusement. In town, it was a business. At home he played generally with his equals; and tho the practice was vile, it was seldom ruinous. But when he went to Lon­don, and became a cully (as all young adventurers are) in the hands of pro­fessed masters in the art of gaming, it was dreadful indeed. And tho it would be as difficult to persuade these professors to relinquish an art by which they live, as it would be to [Page 66]persuade their brethren of the road to lay aside their crape and pistols; yet one should suppose so many fatal ex­amples might have some weight with the poor cullies, who are drawn into their snares. They should recollect the cautious answer once given to another plunderer;

— Nos vestigia terrent
Omnia te adversum spectantia, nulla retrorsum.

Poor Sir James was a cully of the first order. His servants used to give out, they had rare doings at their house in London. Their master was generally all day in bed: and their [Page 67]mistress was seldom at home. In­deed Sir James commonly spent his nights in a gaming-house; and retired to bed about sunrise.

The same happiness which reigned among Mr. Willoughby's servants, was diffused among his tenants. With them he lived upon the easiest terms. When an old tenant renewed his lease, his rent was never raised, unless some improvement in the land made the reason evident, and the tenant himself saw the propriety of it. It was Mr. Willoughby's great pleasure to see all his tenants thrive under him; and [Page 68]to be of service to such, as had large families, by assisting the parents in pro­viding for them. In cases of unavoid­able misfortunes, he would often for­give rents: and in cases of less urgency he had provided a fund, from which he lent small sums without interest, ei­ther to repair fume little loss—or to purchase with advantage at a good market.—When a tenant, or a la­bourer died, he had especial regard to the widow, and family, which he considered as a trust devolved upon himself, if their circumstances required it. If the widow chose to keep the farm, his steward, or himself, was al­ways [Page 69]ready to give his advice, or as­sistance.—Besides these open instances of kindness, he was continually doing acts of unknown generosity: and in short was considered, wherever his connections extended, as a kind of centre, which drew to it the difficul­ties, and distresses of the whole neigh­bourhood around him.

One indulgence he gave his tenants, which was of no solid advantage in­deed, but very gratifying. He allow­ed them all to kill game upon their own farms—but he allowed this liberty only to the tenant himself, not to his servants. And he used to say, [Page 70]he believed he was a gainer by it: for the tenant thus interested, kept off poachers, and was careful to preserve the game. Whereas, among Sir James's tenants, it was not an uncom­mon thing, when any of them found a nest of eggs in their fields, to crush them. ‘We have no advantage, they would say, from the birds our­selves, why should we seed them for others—especially for such a land­lord as ours?’ In the mean time, Mr. Willoughby's table was plenti­fully supplied. One or other of the tenants was continually sending him in the season, a hare, or a pheasant, [Page 71]or a couple of partridges: and when he wanted game, on any emergence, his gamekeeper could easily get intel­ligence where to find it.

It was his great pleasure, when he rode out, to call on one, or other of his tenants; to whom he had always something to say, that was pleasing; or something to propose that was use­ful. In short, he considered them as a part of his family; and was be­loved and popular among them, be­yond what can be imagined.

Very different was the intercourse between Sir James Leigh and his ten­ants. [Page 72]Nothing pleasing ever passed between them. The steward, and the attorney were the only agents. Rents were raised.—Instant payments were demanded.—Misfortunes were never considered.—Seizures were made.—Guns, and dogs were taken away—Every thing was managed with harsh­ness. He never wished to conciliate people by acts of kindness; but to draw them to his purposes by acts of oppression.—An honest farmer, who lived in my neighbourhood, gave me the following relation.

"A few years ago, said he, I rented a little farm under Sir James Leigh. [Page 73]He was then very busy with his hounds: tho I believe now, poor man! that matter, as well as others, are pretty well over with him. However he then kept two packs of different kinds; and used to put out the young hounds among his farmers, and tenants. Two of his fox-hounds were appointed for me. But as I had young children, and did not much like such company among them, I sent them back to his huntsman with a civil excuse. I was told I should suffer for it: and indeed I did. He let his fences go down in some grounds, which bordered on a large [Page 74]meadow of mine—the only one, which I intended for hay. I com­plained over and over, that his cattle were continually trespassing in my meadow: but I could get no redress. I am sure he let his fences go down on purpose: and I lost more than ten pounds that year by the mischief, that was done me. After this, I believe, nobody durst refuse his hounds.—He served another of his tenants, John Ellis, continued the farmer, the same kind of ill-natured trick. What Ellis had done to dis­oblige him, I forget: but I am sure it must have been some trisling thing, [Page 75]for Ellis was as good tempered man as any in England. Whatever it was however Sir James took high offence, and shewed his revenge by locking up a gate (over which unhappily the lease had left him a power) that led to the farmer's yard. By this piece of tyranny he obliged poor Ellis to car­ry his loaden waggons a mile and a half about."

Thus, in short, the landlord and tenants were always in such a state of war, and disagreeable fermentation, that while Mr. Willoughby's farms were all well let; and half a dozen can­didates appeared for every one that [Page 76]was vacant, Sir James had the mortifi­cation to hear, that several of his best farms were untenanted. They were of course managed by his steward and attorney, who being ill-paid, took good care to pay themselves; so that after the farms had passed through their hands, they produced little or nothing to the landlord. The only solace he had, on these occasions, was to curse his people all round; and swear he was beset on all hands by a pack of rogues, and rascals; and that he did not believe there was a grain of honesty on the face of the earth.

[Page 77]The intercourse also of these two gentlemen with their tradesmen, was as different as every other part of their conduct. Nothing could be more unpunctual than Sir James Leigh. He never sent for a bill; and when it was sent to him, no notice was taken of it. When the trades­man complained, he was told, the bill had been mislaid; and was ordered to send another—or he was told, that several articles were charged in so extraordinary a manner, that it would take some time to look them over. The truth was, no money could be found—especially for such [Page 78]purposes.—Sometimes indeed, when he had had a run of ill-luck at play, he was put to all his shifts even to procure a few guineas. In the mean time, some of his tradesmen would hasten payment by attorney's letters; and others would refuse to serve him longer.

All this gave him little distress. He had no regard for any thing, in which honour, or honesty, or even bare decency was concerned. He had as little for his own interest, which suf­fered at all points by thus putting himself intirely into the hands of others, and disabling himself from [Page 79]either rectifying a mistake, or guarding against a fraud. In short, if he could dexterously evade the pressing mo­ment, it was all he desired.

In the mean time, Mr. Willough­by's affairs were managed with the ut­most regulariiy. He knew the con­tents of each bill, and could easily check an improper charge.—Very exact people are often solicitous to pay all their bills at the end of every week, or some other short period. But such rigid punctuality is some­times inconvenient to tradesmen; who rather wish, when their money [Page 80]is safe, to let it lie, till they have occa­sion to use it. Of this Mr. Wil­loughby was aware: and wishing al­ways to accomodate himself as much as possible, to the convenience of others, he desired all his tradesmen to send in their accounts, when it was most agreeable to themselves. They should be answered immediately. Only for his own convenience he de­sired, that none of them might stand out longer than half a year.

But the most essential difference between these two gentlemen, was in the article of religion. In Mr. Wil­loughby's [Page 81]family you immediately saw you were in a christian country. That beautiful simplicity, and deco­rum of manners, which may be called the garb of religion, might be seen in every part of it: and the more you were conversant in it, the more you saw of its religious deportment. Eve­ry morning and evening, the bell rang for prayers. Whether company was in the house, or not, it made no diffe­rence. Ceremony to man was never suffered to interfere with a duty to God. Religious books were often read. Bibles, and other good books were seen lying on parlour-windows, [Page 82]and tables; and it was thought no impropriety to converse on religious subjects. Sunday was strictly ob­served. Mr. Willoughby and his fa­mily, with as many of the servants, as could be spared, went regularly to church—the sacrament was frequented—and great care was taken to keep up a religious impression among the ser­vants. Sunday was never a day of invitation, and company. The ser­vants therefore had as much respite as possible from the business of the par­lour, the kitchen, and the stable.

[Page 83]As to christianity, in Sir James Leigh's family, it was out of the question. There was not even the least sign of religious decorum. You could not distinguish Sunday from any other day. Cards, and gaming, and drinking, were indiscriminately practised. The servants followed the example of their master; and if any of them was better disposed, and shewed the least degree of seriousness, he was immediately laughed out of it. Sir James's house indeed lay under so bad a name, that no young persons, either men, or women, who had any regard for their characters, would live [Page 84]there: so that in fact, it was filled with such servants only, as nobody else would hire: nor indeed would any decent person hire a servant that had lived in so disreputable a family.

While Mr. Willoughby led the re­spectable life we have seen in his own neighbourhood, and was beloved, wherever he was known, an event came on, which shewed, he was equally re­spected throughout the county. At the general election a candidate offered himself, by no means acceptable to the general sense of the freeholders. But as nobody opposed him, he must [Page 85]of course be elected. In this dilemma the gentlemen of the county, threw their eyes on Mr Willoughby, as a popular man—of good fortune—of an established character—of an ancient family, long seated in the county, and every way the most likely to draw the esteem of all parties, Mr. Willough­by told them he was not ambitious of serving in parliament; but at all times attentive to the interests of the county. As he thought it imprudent however to risk his fortune in a con­tested election, he hoped they would excuse his stipulating for support. On this head he was made perfeclly [Page 86]easy; but at the same time assured, that if he would only declare himself, all opposition would cease. This assurance was well founded. It was no sooner known, that Mr. Wil­loughby offered himself, than the unanimous voice of the county ap­peared in his favour—the offensive candidate declined; and Mr. Wil­loughby was elected at the trifling expence of two hundred pounds—even which, the gentlemen of the county were desirous to pay, if he would have suffered them.

When he was in the house, he was respected by the minister, and often [Page 87]voted with him: but he was not of his phalanx, and as often voted against him. From all favours he kept aloof; considering them as bribes, which were in some shape to be repaid. This disinterested conduct gave him so much credit in the house, that all the young members who had not addicted themselves to party; but meant honestly to their country, thought they could not do better, than look up to Mr. Willoughby; and in all questions to follow his lead.

At the time when Mr. Willoughby was thus complimented by the gen­tlemen [Page 88]of his county with a seat in par­liament (which by the way they would never allow him afterwards to relin­quish, till age made it a burden to him) Sir James Leigh in the neigh­bouring county, received as great an affront. He was exactly in the case of the offensive candidate, who had been antagonist to Mr. Willoughby, having obtruded himself against the inclination of all the leading gentle­men of the county, by whom he was thoroughly despised. A warm oppo­sition was immediately set on foot. With his usual folly and disregard to consequences, he obstinately per­severed; [Page 89]and was at length disgrace­fully thrown out, after he had spent, at the lowest calculation, twenty-five thousand pounds.—This was a heavy stroke upon his affairs, already greatly in the wane. He sought parliament indeed only as an asylum; or, if pos­sible, to better his fortune: but by this unsuccessful attempt, he found his difficulties doubly increased. Some of his best tenements, and farms had already been disposed of, to silence his creditors, rather than to pay them. The best part of his estate was deeply mortgaged: and all his timber was cut down and sold. [Page 90]Many thousand trees were felled, which were still in a growing state. In short, his extravagancies of various kinds had run him quite aground; and this last election-affair had almost compleated his ruin.

Another disagreeable business also happened soon after the election. Sir James's mother had a settlement upon his estate of two thousand pounds a year, which had never been regularly paid. But at this time, the arrears were very large. Having made many ineffectual demands, she called upon him one morning; and after much heat and passion on both sides, she [Page 91]left him with a threat to put the affair into her lawyer's hands; which she did soon afterwards, and obliged him to pay in one sum near eleven thou­sand pounds, which he now found it very difficult to procure.

More than twenty years had now elapsed, since these two gentlemen had taken possession of their estates. Du­ring the first six, or seven years, we have seen Sir James carrying on such immense works, as astonished every body. But they had all long since been discontinued. One foolish pro­ject after another, had subsided. No­thing [Page 92]was finished. The whole com­pass of his intended improvements was now a scene of wild, expensive desolation. What he had done, and what he had undone—what he had begun, and what he had yet only plan­ned, were all blended together in one mass of confusion.

In the mean time Mr. Willoughby's improvements, which had gone on leisurely, had now attained great per­fection. His trees were well-grown; and he had the satisfaction to see the plan, which he had originally formed with so much judgment, now opening [Page 93]more and more into scenes of beauty. Every thing was in excellent order: his trees, and his shrubs were healthy: his lawns and his walks perfectly neat. It was easy to see, the hand, which had executed all this elegance, was still extended over it.

His farms too, and all the profitable parts of his estate, were in the same excellent order. While poor Sir James had not a farm house, that was not almost in ruins, Mr. Willoughby's estate was a model of regularity, and good management. It was one of his great pleasures to see his tenants under good roofs; and he thought nothing [Page 94]was lost by making every thing con­venient about them. What timber he cut down, was only such as called for the axe; and in its room he planted thousands of trees all over his domains, wherever wood could possibly grow with advantage—in the corners of fields particularly; which mode of planting, if it be managed properly, turns a field into a lawn.—By judicious per­sons it was calculated, that by plant­ing, draining, and other improve­ments, he had increased the value of his estate, since he took possession of it, at least fifty thousand pounds. And tho he seldom raised his old ten­ants, [Page 95]yet in his new leases, tho they were always moderate, he added seve­ral hundred pounds to his yearly rental.

The last event of Sir James's ca­reer was the most miserable of all. The woman, with whom he lived, was now become intolerable to him. In­deed she had been one cause, and no inconsiderable one, of the ruin of his affairs. Her debts, which he had twice paid, amounted to sums of con­sequence. Her very dress required the rental of a good farm to support. Nothing was too expensive for her. [Page 96]In short, she was the very genius of prodigality. Her girls also, (for she had five) vyed in finery with the first-rate misses in the country: tho in the article of education, it must be allow­ed, an intire saving had been made.

While her youth, and beauty lasted, she knew how to assuage any tumult she might have raised; and long therefore continued to reign the intire mistress of his family. But five, and twenty years, joined to an irregular life, had now effaced her charms. Her elegant form was become heavy and bloated. Her fine complexion was grown red and pimpled. She [Page 97]had lost several of her teeth: and the natural violence of her temper, hav­ing chaced away all the rosy smiles, and dimples of youth, had taken stern possession of all her features. As the means of soothing, therefore were gone, a continued scene of quarrel, ani­mosity, and bitterness ensued. What was at first only dislike on one side, had now changed into a thorough dis­gust on both.

Sir James had long wished to rid himself of this incumbrance: but she had such an ascendancy over him, at first by her beauty, and afterwards by the violence of her temper, that he [Page 98]never could, indeed he never durst, propose it. Wearied at length how­ever by her extravagance, and pro­voking insolence, he determined, at all events, to rouse himself, and throw off an evil, which was now be­yond all sufferance. He told her therefore plainly, that he could keep her in his house no longer; and that she might repair to such a place (a house of his own in a distant village) where she should find he had not left her destitute.

No mad heroine on a stage, could display more fury, than she did on this occasion. ‘What! after se­ducing [Page 99]her, and robbing her of her innocence, did he mean to turn her out of his house? Was she, and her poor girls to go begging about the country?—No: she vowed revenge. She did not set her own life at a farthing in compa­rison with her revenge: and if he dared to mention such an insult to her again, she would shew him, what an injured, and inraged woman could do.’

Soon afterwards, her brother, the lieutenant, appeared upon the stage. He entered the house rudely; and without any ceremony, told Sir [Page 100]James in a surly tone, that he should find his poor injured sister had a friend, who would revenge her wrongs, if he attempted to use her ill.—And to impress his menace more strongly, he was often seen, from the parlour windows, swaggering about the park with his hat fiercely cocked, and a long sword by his side, as if he was ready to be called in on the first summons.

No poor wretch was ever so mise­rably harrassed, as Sir James. His misfortunes, (or rather his distresses, for they were all of his own bringing on) had now sunk his spirits, and [Page 101]totally unmanned him. He needed not such a spectre always before his windows to keep him within. Duns, and writs, and jails, were frightful ideas, and always in his thoughts. If he went to the door, he feared a bailiff in every bush.—As to the affair of the woman, he determined to make up matters as well as he could; and submit again to that ty­ranny, which he could not throw off; tho he feared it would now be more insufferable than ever.

In no very short time, however he was relieved, as far as getting rid of this nuisance could relieve him. [Page 102]While she lived with him, tho totally negligent of his affairs, she had been very intent on her own: and had se­cured a good purse for herself; which in the wreck of his fortune, she found no very difficult matter. But when she now saw there was nothing more to be had, she had no inclination to stay longer; and took an oppor­tunity early one morning to disappear, carrying the family-jewels with her, (which she would never suffer him to dispose of) and what else of value she could easily pack up. Her brother waited for her with a chaise at the [Page 103]park-gate; and where they went, no­body could tell.

The next day however Sir James received a note from her, intimating, that, ‘As she found he had lost all af­fection for her, she would no longer distress him with her presence, Nor would she intrude farther on his bounty. The little things he had given her, would sufficiently maintain her: only she begged, he would, for her fake, take a fatherly care of the poor children she had left him.’—Three of them, now young women, (poor uneducated creatures) were growing up to be as [Page 104]great plagues, as their mother had been. What to do with them; and what to do with himself, were matters of distraction to him.

But the jewels were his first con­cern. As they were very valuable, and what he had looked on as his last stake, he determined to pursue her with a warrant. But his attorney told him, that considering how things had been circumstanced between them, and that she had often been seen with those jewels about her in public, he much doubted, whether he could re­cover them, even if he should be able [Page 105]to find her. He was obliged therefore to desist.

At length, having sold his last un­settled acre, and collected from the wreck of his affairs, all he could, he gave his poor girls little more than was just sufficient to keep them from starving; and with the rest, he en­deavoured to find a refuge abroad from the distresses he suffered at home.

All these evils he had brought up­on himself, together with the total ruin of his constitution, before he had attained the age of forty-seven. What became of him afterwards, was [Page 106]never certainly known: but it was commonly supposed, he ended his days in some obscure part of Italy, or Switzerland.

During the several years, that Sir James Leigh was thus harrassed with an imperious woman, whom he detest­ed, but could not shake off, Mr. Willoughby was enjoying the full happiness of domestic comfort. He had married a lady every way deserv­ing of him. They had but one mind between them, which was centered in making each other happy; and in dif­fusing happiness, as far as they could, [Page 107]around them. The first object of their care was the education of their little family; and they had the satis­faction to see them grow up with every hopeful appearance.

As their eldest son advanced to­wards manhood, the old people of the parish used to say, he put them much in mind of what his father had been at his age. He was the same engaging youth, with his auburn hair hanging in curls about his shoulders—modest, civil, and obliging to every body; and most pleased, when he had the power given him of pleasing others.

[Page 108]He married, as his father had done, early in life; and equally to the satis­faction of his parents. On this event his father settled an estate of two thousand a year upon him; and put him in possession of that house, which his grandmother had formerly occu­pied.

Mr. Willoughby was now happy in his grandchildren. Seldom a day passed, in which two or three of them did not come to play upon the lawn, before his study-windows; and would run in, one at a time, to deliver some message from mama; or to ask for one of his sticks to ride upon.

[Page 109]Mr. Willoughby lived many years after his son's marriage, with a greater share of felicity, than happens to most men. He was happy in himself—in his fame—in his fortunes—in his children—and above all, in his excel­lent Lucy, who doubled all his plea­sures—divided all his cares—and lessened all his pains.


MEMOIRS OF JOHN WILMOT, Earl of Rochester.

JOHN WILMOT, Earl of Ro­chester, in Charles the second's reign, possessed more the graces of an ele­gant person—was better bred—and was more lively and agreeable in conversation, than almost any man of his time. While his manners made him universally engaging; his parts and knowledge introduced him to men of genius, and letters. He was fond of reading; and found one of his greatest pleasures to arise from in­creasing [Page 114]his knowledge. His dispo­sition too was naturally good. He was well natured, obliging to every body, and never backward in serving a friend.

He finished his education abroad, under the conduct of a very worthy tutor: and brought home with him a greater variety of just observations on men, and things, than most young men are able to collect

To his other accomplishments he added the splendor of military glory; having served twice with the Earl of Sandwich, as a volunteer in the Dutch war, with great reputation.—And [Page 115]what gave a polish to all his accom­plishments and good qualities, was the unassuming modesty of his behaviour. He himself was the only person who appeared unconscious of the superi­ority of his parts and knowledge.

Thus qualified, he was fatally in­troduced to the licentious court of Charles the second, who made him one of the gentlemen of his bedcham­ber, and ranger of Woodstock park.

The life of a courtier gave a new turn to his ideas. He became the idol of all the gay, the profligate, and unprin­cipled young people, with whom that court abounded. His manners were [Page 116]so engaging, and his wit, and humour so entertaining, especially when a little inlivened with wine, that he was continually beset by those, who watched every opportunity of enjoying his company.

Tho Lord Rochester had a taste for literature, he soon also felt a taste for pleasure, which in the end destroyed every principle of virtue.—In the early part of his life he had a relish only for the company of men of genius, sense, and learning. But court man­ners rendered him less nice. He was frequently obliged to mix with trifling, illiterate, and vicious people: and [Page 117]finding he could unbend himself among them, and be perfectly at his ease; he began to find a relish in their company; and by degrees to like no other company so well.

Thus entered among profligate people, he soon became eminent. As he was superior to all his compa­nions in wit and genius, he soon out­did them all likewise in every kind of depravity. He gave a loose to his appetites, and courted pleasure in every form. During five years of his life, he confessed, he was hardly ever in such a state as could be called perfectly sober; and in this time was guilty of a [Page 118]thousand strange extravagancies. He would go about the country in various shapes, seldom without some profli­gate intention—chiefly in pursuit of some low amour. But whatever cha­racter he assumed—a farmer—a sailor—a razor-grinder—a beggar—or any other—he acted his part in every dis­guise, so incomparably well, that if he had met even an intimate friend, as he frequently did, he would pass undis­covered; and would afterwards tell his friend some circumstances of his life, which the other thought he only could have known by witchcrast. Once being obliged to keep out of the way, [Page 119]he became a mountebank on Tower­hill; and was enough acquainted with physic, to delude the populace into an opinion of his wonderful abilities. In this profession, he used to say, he could have made a very comfortable subsistence, if he had wished it.

Nor was he more abandoned to the indulgence of his appetites, than loose to every principle of common honesty. Pleasure was his only pursuit. This led him into expence. Expence pro­duced necessity; and necessity, disho­nesty. Professions of friendship to those whom he mortally hated, and intended, if he could, to ruin—un­meaning [Page 120]oaths and vows in his ad­dresses to women—tricks put upon tradesmen, and creditors, to deceive, and cheat them, with a variety of other dishonest practices, were com­mon with him. In short, no man ever gave himself up to pleasure with more eagerness—was lest restrained by principle in the pursuit of it—was better qualified to procure it—or had a higher relish for the enjoyment of it when procured.

But one great obstacle still obtruded itself on these joyous pursuits. Tho he had not principle enough to re­strain his actions, he had enough to [Page 121]alarm his conscience. Mere morality he was able to manage pretty well; were it not for its inconvenient con­nection with religion. It was neces­sary for him therefore to reason down all the troublesome reflections, which arose on this subject; and with this view he had gotten together all the common-place arguments he could invent, or collect—many of them ta­ken up from those, whom on any other subject he would have despised.

It cannot be supposed, that a mind so full of intelligence as his was, could easily be divested of every idea of re­ligion. The being of a God he al­lowed. [Page 122]He said, he never could con­ceive the world to be made by chance; the productions and regula­rity of nature, proclaimed beyond contradiction an infinite power. But then he wished to infer from various circumstances, which he did not care to examine deeply, that this power had little concern with the affairs of men. He could not, he said, attribute hu­man passions—hate, or love—to a per­fect being. That would be to form a Deity on heathen theology: and therefore, where there was neither love nor hatred, he could not suppose [Page 123]there could be either reward, or pu­nishment.

Then again he thought, that to love God, was presumptuous—to fear him, superstitious. Prayer he thought could be of no use, as it was not to be imagined the Deity was so weak, as to be wrought on by the im­portunities of man. All religious worship therefore, except, as he would say, in a gay humour, a few hymns in celebration of the divine majesty, he supposed to be useless.

Two maxims in morality he con­fessed he could not but hold, however little he had lived up to them.—That [Page 124]we should do nothing to injure ano­ther; nor any thing to prejudice our­selves—particularly our own health: but that the gratification of our appetites, when it did not interfere with either of these points, he endeavoured to persuade himself was very lawful. It was unreasonable he thought to sup­pose they were put into man, merely to be restrained.

It was his favourite doctrine, that self-interest governed the world; and that it was right it should do so. What was general benevolence, he would ask, but putting one man's hap­piness in the power of another? [Page 125]Whereas, if every man took care of himself, the business was in safer hands, and the end would be better answered.

Still however the doctrine of a fu­ture state recurred, notwithstanding all his endeavours to stifle it; and was more in his way than any thing else; as he could not believe the soul would be dissolved by death. What might become of it, he could not pretend to say: but still he persuaded himself the doctrine of rewards and punishments was not included in its immortality. That doctrine, he wished to believe, was big with absurdity. Heaven ap­peared [Page 126]to him too good for the best; and hell too bad for the worst. And indeed he conceived, if God was the good Being he was represented, he could not, consistently with that good­ness, make any of his creatures mise­rable.

Thus he had formed a sort of re­ligion for himself which he had con­trived to answer an unprincipled life. As for the religion of the bible, he found it of too rigid a texture to mold into any commodious form. He was obliged therefore to strike the bible entirely out of his scheme. In order to this, like other infidels, he would [Page 127]listen to no evidence in its favour; but thought every objection, tho he might have found it answered over and over, highly worth his attention.

As for the inspiration of the scrip­tures, he used to say, he knew not what it meant. He could not conceive, how God should reveal his secrets to men. Nor indeed could he see any occasion for revealed religion at all, as he had no idea of man's having been ever placed in a better state than he was in at present. And even if a revelation had been necessary, one should have thought it would have been more extensive; and have taken [Page 128]place long before the time of Augustus Caesar.—As to prophecies, and mi­racles, the world had ever been full of such wonderful stories—and he sup­posed they all depended intirely on the credulity and folly of mankind.—The scriptures, he thought, carried on their very face the marks of impo­sition: the stile and manner of writing—the various contradictions, which he found in them—the disorder in point of time—and many other things, he owned, had sufficient weight with him to destroy their credibility.—Be­sides, he said if a man could not believe, which was his case, faith could neither [Page 129]be forced upon him, nor required—and the mysteries of scripture, such as the trinity—the incarnation—the atonement, and some others, were to him wholly incomprehensible.

But of all things, he plumed his in­fidelity most upon the bad lives of the professors of christianity. As the clergyman, he said, had studied reli­gion, he must of course be best acquainted with the evidences of it: and if these evidences had no effect on him, it was shrewdly to be suspected, there was no weight in them. When he saw clergymen therefore at court, using so many mean arts, as he [Page 130]often did, in obtaining preferment, he could not suppose, they conceived better of the christian religion, than he himself did.

Thus we have taken a short view of the abandoned life of this uncom­monly wicked profligate. We have seen the pleas he made use of to cover his vices; and the arguments he used with himself, such as they were, to strengthen his infidelity. His whole life indeed was only a struggle against conviction: for a man of his sense could not avoid perceiving that when he debased religion, he put a force [Page 131]upon nature.—Let us now see the end of all this: and how it concluded at length in the triumph of religion.

Whilst this noble profligate enjoyed his health, and met with no checks from nature in the pursuit of pleasure, all was well. His mind was occupied in a thousand pleasureable engage­ments—reflection was turned aside—and his conscience in a great degree silenced.—But vicious enjoyments have seldom an extended date. Be­fore he had attained his thirtieth year, Lord Rochester had out-run his con­stitution and found every access of pleasure to be an access also of dis­ease. [Page 132]He was now worn down to a shadow; and consumptive symptoms were increasing daily upon him. But what threatened the most immediate danger, was an ulcer, which his phy­sicians thought was forming in his bladder. As it gave him however no great uneasiness, he hoped it might disperse without any fatal effects. And indeed he found himself after­wards so well, that having occasion to visit his estate in Somersetshire, he undertook the journey with his usual impetuosity, and rode post. But the heat, and violence of the exercise so in­flamed the ulcer, which might proba­bly [Page 133]with care and quietness, have dis­persed, that he was obliged to return in his coach to Woodstock-lodge, very much out of order.

God affords all sinners opportunities of reflection—some circumstances in each man's life, which, if they were as properly accepted, as they are graci­ously intended, would lead him to repentance. Some men are drawn by cords of love. But severe calamities only can bring others to reflection. When they feel the world failing under them; and its best promises ending in deceit, if they are not hard­ened [Page 134]beyond all reflection, they natu­rally look round for something that can administer comfort.

This was the case of the Earl of Rocheser. He had lived a pleasure­able, and a vicious life, The plea­sure was now gone, the remembrance of the wickedness alone was left. It shocked him to think he had given up his health, his fortune, his friends, his character—every thing in this world that was valuable, for what he now only remembered with horror.

But this was so far mere worldly compunction. It led however to more serious reflection.—As this [Page 135]world sailed, the next drew nearer: and as he always had some conception of a future state, tho he wished not to suppose it a state of retribution, his active mind could not help being anxious for better information. He knew he had never examined into these matters with any attention him­self; and therefore could not but doubt his own crude reasonings, which never could amount to more than mere conjecture. His friends there­fore, particularly his mother, the Countess Dowager of Rochester, en­deavoured to get serious people about him; hoping they might put thoughts [Page 136]into his mind, which his own active spirit would easily pursue.—Among these, the chief were Mr. Parsons, her chaplain—and Dr. Burnet, afterwards bishop of Salisbury. One or other of these was frequently with him, and by degrees he took pleasare in their conversation. To Dr. Burnet he shewed a particular attachment; and desired him, on his death-bed, to give the world an account of the conver­sations that passed between them. "I have done much mischief, said he, in my life-time; I should wish to make some amends for it at my death." [Page 137]To these two gentlemen Lord Ro­chester laid open, without scruple, all the vile opinions he had held in the early part of his life. He never, he said, was satisfied with them. He al­ways felt strong remorse of conscience; tho too often, he feared it was found­ed on his having ruined himself in this world. Yet sometimes he believ­ed, the disquietude of his mind had a better principle. ‘I remember once, said he, at the house of a person of quality, where several of us pro­phane young fellows had met toge­ther, I undertook the cause of atheism: and I was thought to have [Page 138]performed my part so well, that I was overwhelmed with applause. But as I left the company, I felt myself exceedingly shocked at what had passed; and could not help breaking out into some such solilo­quy as this—Good Heavens! that a man, who walks upright—who sees around him the wonderful works of God—and has the use of his senses and reason—could ever abuse them in so horridly prophane a manner!’ Indeed, he would say, in the worst part of his life, he never could, with all his reasoning, persuade himself into atheism. He was some­thing [Page 139]like the devils: he believed and trembled.

At other times he would confess, that notwithstanding his own licenti­ous actions, he always felt a secret value for an honest man; and always thought morality sat well on others. But he owned he had never felt any reverence for the gospel—nor had ever taken that pains in seeking into its evidence, which a matter of that apparent importance required.—The first thing, he told Dr. Burnet, which made him think seriously of christianity, was a conversation he had with Mr. Parsons; who speaking of [Page 140]prophecy, pointed out to him the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah; and shewed him how exactly the sufferings of our Saviour described there, agreed with the account given of them by the evangelists; tho it is certain the book of Isaiah was written many ages before our Saviour lived, and is esteemed by the Jews at this day to be divinely inspired. This comparison so intirely satisfied his understanding, that the passion of our Saviour he said, appeared as clear and plain to to him, as any object he ever saw re­presented in a glass. The original, and the image were exactly alike.—This [Page 141]passage from Isaiah he got by heart, and frequently soothed himself by re­peating it.

And here let us pause a moment. As God affords all sinners opportuni­ties of reflection, so does he likewise afford them various means of conver­sion, according to their various dispo­sitions, and different modes of think­ing. One man is struck with the wonderful works of God. The imagination of another fastens on some beautiful analogy of nature. A third is awakened by some pious life he has read—or some sermon he has [Page 142]heard—or conversation that has struck him. A fourth is affected by the sim­plicity, and purity of scriptural pre­cepts, or examples. From one or other of these sources, or something else perhaps in the divine economy, which forcibly strikes his mind, the sin­ner will often through the grace of God assisting his pious endeavours, take the beginning of a new life.—Lord Ro­chester we have seen, was first brought to a sense of religion by the wonder­ful coincidence between the prophe­cies and the history of Christ.

Having thus gained as it were, a glimpse of christianity, his intuitive [Page 143]mind easily proceeded. From sim­ply contemplating the sufferings of Christ, he began to inquire into the cause of those sufferings. He saw in a strong light his own wicked life, and the heinousness of sin; and devoutly acknowledged the necessity of a Redeemer. ‘O blessed God! he would cry, can such a creature as I have been, gain acceptance from thee! Can there be any mercy for me! Will God own such a wretch!—Never, never, he would add, but through the infinite merits of a Re­deemer—never, but by the pur­chase of his blood.’—Then again, [Page 144]a sense of his own guilt slowing in strongly upon him, he would cry out, (striking his hands together) he had been the vilest dog, the sun ever shone upon: and thought the life of a starving leper, crawling in a ditch, as he expressed himself, more enviable than a life like his.

In short, his whole frame being thus intirely changed, he carried into religion all those strong feelings, and warm passions, which had led him so violently astray in the paths of vice.

In a calmer interval, he would speak of the foolish, and absurd phi­losophy of the late Mr. Hobbes, and [Page 145]others of that stamp. "Aye, he would cry, these were my ruin. These phi­losophers helped to undo me."

Then laying his hand on the bible, he would say, "There is true philo­sophy.—This is the wisdom that speaks to the heart. A bad life, is the only grand objection to this book. And it is surely a bad way in examin­ing the truth of it, to begin with ca­villing. Let us examine first the evidence and tendency of it, and try whether that will not blunt the edge of many objections."

In short, christianity had taken such full possession of his mind, that [Page 146]altho he had been at first awakened from his criminal life by dreadful ap­prehensions, and horrors, his conversi­on was now founded on a firm belief of the gospel; his mind became daily more calm; and he prayed to God with all earnestness for his grace and holy spirit to assilst him in keeping steady to the resolutions he had form­ed.—In his devotions, he would sometimes use his own prayers; which Mr. Parsons, who was often with him at prayer, used to say, were truly excellent.

As his heart seemed thus changed, [Page 147]the habits of his life were changed with it,

He was very solicitous to have all his debts paid; many of which he had contracted without any design of pay­ing them at all.

Acts of restitution also he ordered, when restitution was in his power. When it was not, he prayed to God earnestly to forgive him, and merci­fully to accept a sincere intention.

The thoughts of his corrupt wri­tings gave him great distress. They could not be recalled: but he hoped, that whoever heard of them, would hear also of; the distress they had given [Page 148]him. Such of his writings however, as were unpublished—all his lascivious pictures—and every thing else that had a bad tendency, he strictly order­ed his executors to burn.

Injuries which he had received himself, many of them great, and pro­voking, he declared in the presence of God, he forgave from his heart; and was ready to do any act of kindness in his power, to those who had offended him.

He had formerly indulged such a habit of swearing, that oaths made a part of his common conversation: and when he was heated, they were [Page 149]frightful. But he had now so wholly mastered this vile habit, that bishop Burnet tells us, when fits of pain came upon him, which were frequent, and violent, he never heard any thing like an oath escape him. On one oc­casion indeed, when he was surffering under an acute paroxysm of his disor­der, and had sent a servant for some­thing, which he thought he might have brought sooner, he cried out, "That d—d fellow I suppose is lost." When the bishop remarked it, he said, ‘Aye, you see how this lan­guage of fiends still hangs about me—Who deserves d—g so much as [Page 150]myself?—God forgive me!’—Ex­cept on this occasion, the bishop ob­serves, he never heard even a hasty expression come from him. To his servants indeed, during his whole ill­ness, he was kind, considerate, and even affectionate; giving them as little trouble as he could help; and apolo­gizing for every extraordinary trouble he was obliged to put upon them. —His regard for them he still shewed more effectually in his will.

Among his other faults, he had shewn much unkindness to his rela­tions. He had paid little respect to his mother—he had neglected his Lady; [Page 151]and been inattentive to his children. His behaviour in all these instances, was now wholly changed. To his mother it was respectful in the greatest degree—to his Lady, tender and af­fectionate. She was a very amiable woman; and having been recovered from the church of Rome, in which she had been brought up, it gave him, he said, unspeakable satisfaction to re­ceive the holy sacrament with her, from the hands of a protestant clergy­man.—Her gentle attention to him in his illness, which was unwearied, filled him with the tenderest remorse, and a thousand nameless sensibilities.—For [Page 152]his children's happiness he seemed highly concerned. He had a son, and three daughters; and would often call them to him, and speak to them in so affecting a manner, as no words but his own, could express. Once as the bishop was sitting by him, when his children were with him, he cried out, "See how good, God has been to me in giving me so many blessings— What an ungracious dog have I been!"

On another occasion, speaking of the great concern he was under for their pious education, he earnestly hoped his son would never be a wit— [Page 153]that is, said he, one of those wretched beings, who pride themselves in scoff­ing at God, and religion. An honest and religious man, he added, is a cha­racter, beyond any thing fortune, and honours have to give. He then blessed them, and prayed for them; and committed them to the protection of God.

It was a favourite topic with him, whenever he had opportunity, to set himself up as a melancholy example to deter others from a bad life.—A gentlemen of some quality called, one day to see him. ‘Aye, look at me, said Lord Rochester, and see what [Page 154]a man is reduced to, who has spent his life in scoffing at God, and religion. You and I, my good friend, have been old sinners toge­ther; and therefore I am the more free with you. I hope you will see your wickedness, as I have seen mine. Depend upon it, my friend, we have been mistaken in our con­ceits. Our opinions are ill-found­ed. Therefore may God grant you repentance!’

Bishop Burnet also tells us, that Lord Rochester gave it to him in charge, a little before his death, to tell a certain person from him, for whose [Page 155]welfare he was much concerned; that altho there were nothing to come, after this life; yet all the pleasures he had ever known in sin, would have been ill bought with half the torture he had felt on the recollection of them.

Thus this noble Lord had done much in a little time. His sins had been great: his repentance was severe: and, as his hours shortened, he became perfectly composed; and expressed a willingness, and even a wish to die. He hoped he should never relapse, if God should grant him a longer life: but he thought he could never expect [Page 156]to be in a better state to die, than he was in at that time. ‘And indeed, says bishop Burnet, I had every reason to believe him perfectly sin­cere. I remember, continues the bishop, after his having had many sleepless nights, a dose of laudanum was administered to him without his knowledge. The effect of it was a most refreshing sleep. In the morning he found himself so per­fectly well, that he thought his dis­order was now come to a crisis; and that nothing ailed him, but weak­ness, which he supposed would in a little time go off. As he was fully [Page 157]possessed with this idea, he enter­tained me with the scheme of his future life. He would retire from the world, he said, and spend the remainder of his days, in study, in­nocence, and piety.’ And the bishop had no doubt but he was sin­cere; and that if he had lived, he would have put all this in execution. The joys of religion seemed to have taken so much hold of him, that it was not likely he would ever again have given them up for the pleasures of sin.

But this relaxation from pain was soon over. When the refreshment of [Page 158]the night went off, it left him in the same state in which it found him. Two days longer he languished.— But nature was now entirely exhausted. The discharge from the ulcer was so great, that his whole body was in a manner, consumed. He was frequent­ly also in violent pain: and from lying so long in one posture, the depressed parts began to mortify. Notwith­standing however all this distress, his composure, and resignation were won­derful. He spoke little—was heard to pray servently; and on the 26th of July, 1680, in the thirty-third year of his age, he died at Woodstock-park [Page 159]in Oxfordshire.—About a month be­fore he died, he dictated the following paper, which he signed with his own hand; and had it regularly attested.

"For the benefit of all those, whom I may have drawn into sin by my ex­ample, and encouragement, I leave to the world this my last declaration, which I deliver in the presence of the great God, who knows the secrets of all hearts, and before whom I am now ap­pearing to be judged—that from the bottom of my soul, I detest and abhor the whole course of my former wicked life; and that I think I can never sufficiently [Page 160]admire the goodness of God, who has given me a true sense of the pernici­ous opinions, and vile practices, in which I have hitherto lived without hope, and without God in the world—having been an open enemy to Jesus Christ, and doing the utmost despight to the holy spirit of grace—and that the greatest testimony of my charity to such is, to warn them in the name of God, and as they regard the welfare of their immortal souls, no more to deny his being, or his providence, or despise his goodness—no more to make a mock of sin, or contemn the pure and excellent religion of my ever blessed Redeemer [Page 161]through whose merits alone, I, one of the greatest of sinners, do yet hope for mercy and forgiveness. Amen.

  • Anne Rochester.
  • Robert Parsons.

Such was the life of this very ex­traordinary man. It resolves itself into three distinct periods—each, in its way equally wonderful. In the first, he appeared in the polite world, as the most accomplished gentleman [Page 162]of his time. In the second, he be­came the most abandoned profligate: and in the last, the most sincere peni­tent.

What a happy man might he have been, if he could have kept his de­sires within the bounds of virtue, and have added religion to the blessings he enjoyed! He had every thing that the world could give: but grasping at pleasure in excess, he found it misery. A harrassed mind, and a dis­eased body were the fruits of his vici­ous pleasures—the loss of every worldly enjoyment—and at a period, [Page 163]when life is in its prime, the decrepi­tude of age.

He had the wisdom however at last to turn his sufferings to account; and see his errors, before it was too late. But what remorse, horror, and an­guish did it cost him, before he arriv­ed at that peaceful serenity, which he might with innocence have enjoyed to a late period of life.

Some are inclined, through zeal for the honour of God, to take from the force of these extraordinary conver­sions, by supposing, that God arbitra­rily vouchsafes a peculiar influx of [Page 164]his grace to one man, which he denies to another—that we have nothing there­fore to do in the work of such conver­sions ourselves: they are the entire work of God; and the greater the sin­ner the more abundant often is the grace.

No doubt, it is a doctrine of scrip­ture, that all our goodness is derived from God: but it is the doctrine of scripture also that our own endeav­ours must co-operate with God's goodness, and make his grace effectu­al. When we are told that God worketh in us both to will, and to do of his good pleasure; that is, through his good pleasure that he worketh in [Page 165]us at all; we are told also, that we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Every opinion there­fore, however well-meant, which has a tendency to check our own pious endeavours; and to lay the whole work, if I may so speak, on God, ap­pears to be equally unscriptural, and mischievous.

St. Paul's case is mentioned, and that of the thief on the cross, as in­stances of sudden, and peculiar effu­sions of grace. But neither of them seems to be a case in point. St. Paul was a man of great piety. His disposition was always good; and his [Page 166]practice agreeable to what he thought the will of God. He was only under a violent prejudice, which it pleased God to remove by an open miracle.

As to the thief on the cross, we may suppose he had then the first religious opportunity he had ever had—and that the sight of his suffering Saviour wrought in him at once a full con­viction. The history does not give us the least ground for more, or to be­lieve he received any peculiar interfe­rence of grace, which was denied to his companion.

In short, we are not told in what manner the grace of God co-operates with man. But we are told, that [Page 167]God is no respecter of persons: and every part of scripture injoins us the practice of a holy life founded on our faith in Christ.

Others again, who are less concern­ed about religion, would take from the force of such conversions, as this of Lord Rochester, by attributing them to a melancholy oppression of spirits; or by resolving them into en­thusiasm or superstition. But why should any of these causes be assigned to Lord Rochester's conversion? Does it appear from the history of his life that he was under any oppressi­on [Page 168]of spirits—that he was under any fear, but what was the effect of guilt—which is the very medium of every conversion; and which all wicked men must feel, before they can be brought to a sense of their wickedness?—Does it appear, that there was any thing enthusiastic, or superstitious in his ideas of christianity? and particu­larly, in his declaration at his death?—or in short, does it appear that he held any opinion, which all sober christians do not, at all times hold? If so; why should we attribute to a bad cause, what has the fairest pretensions to the best?

[Page 169]Besides, all who were about Lord Rochester at the time of his death, speak of his faculties as perfectly lucid, and equal to what they had ever been. Bishop Burnet perhaps takes more than ordinary pains to wipe off any supposition, that at the time of his death, he was under any particular weakness of imagination; and speaks of the great vivacity of his discourse, which was equal at that time, to what he had ever observed in the days of his most perfect health.


MEMOIRS OF NAIMBANNA, A Young African Prince.

WHEN the Sierra Leone com­pany were first settled, they endeav­oured to bring over to their friendship all the petty African princes in their neighbourhood. Among others, they applied to a chief, of the name of Naimbanna, who was remarkable for a good disposition, and an acute un­derstanding. He easily saw the in­tention of the company was friendly to Africa, and entered into amity with them.

[Page 174]They spoke to him about the slave-trade, and gave him reasons for wish­ing to have it abolished. He was convinced of its vileness; and de­clared, that not one of his subjects should ever go into slavery again.

By degrees they began to talk to him about religion. But he was ra­ther wary on that head. It seems he had received a prejudice against christianity, from the following cir­cumstance.

The Portugueze had, at that time, several missionaries about the country, who under the pretence of preaching christianity, sold charms to the na­tives; [Page 175]and in exchange received ivory, gold dust, and other commodities for the merchants, by whom they were employed. Among their converts, was one of Naimbanna's chief friends; who had afterwards many conversa­tions with Naimbanna on the subject of religion; and endeavoured to make a convert of him also. He told Naimbanna, that the christian re­ligion was the best religion in the world; for a man could do no­thing so bad, which the priests of that religion would not forgive for a mere trifle. Naimbanna with great acuteness of mind, told him, [Page 176]he thought a good religion would never suffer that; and refused to be a christian. On talking therefore with the gentlemen of the factory, on this subject, and finding they pro­fessed christianity, as well as the Portugueze missionaries, he conclud­ed their tenets were the same, and paid little attention to them.

By degrees however he found, that the factory contained a very good sort of people—that they lived happily among themselves, and did not sell pardons for gold dust as the Portu­gueze did. He began therefore to think more favourably both of them and their religion.

[Page 177]But tho it appears he had a much juster opinion of christianity, than he had received from the Portugueze missionaries; yet he was still back­ward either in receiving it himself, or in making it the religion of his country. He was well convinced of the barbarous state of his own people, on a comparison with Europeans, and wished for nothing more than a refor­mation among them—especially in re­ligion. But as he found there were several kinds of religion in the world, he wished to know which was the best, before he introduced any.

[Page 178]To ascertain this point as well as he could, he took the following method. He sent one of his sons into Turkey, among the Mahometans—a second in­to Portugal, among the papists; sup­posing probably that the missionaries did not teach their religion properly—and a third he recommended to the Sierra Leone company, desiring they would send him into England, to be there instructed in the religion of the country. By the report of his sons, it appears, he meant to be directed in the choice of a national religion.

Of the two former of these young men we have no particulars; only [Page 179]that one of them became very vicious. It is the last mentioned, tho, I believe, the eldest, who bore his father's name, Naimbanna, to whom this account be­longs. The Sierra Leone company received the charge of him with great pleasure, believing that nothing could have a better effect in promoting their benevolent schemes, than mak­ing him a good christian.

Young Naimbanna was a perfect African in his form. He was black, had woolly hair, thick lips, and that blunt singularity of feature, with which the African face is commonly marked. While he was with the [Page 180]company, he seemed a well-disposed, tractable youth; but when opposed, impatient, fierce, and subject to vio­lent passions.

In the first ship that sailed, he was sent to England, where he arrived in the year 1791. We may imagine with what astonishment he surveyed every object that came before him: but his curiosity in prudent hands became from the first, the medium of useful instruction.

During his voyage he had picked up a little of the English language; to which he was not a perfect stranger when he embarked. He had gotten [Page 181]hold of several words and phrases; and tho he could not speak it with any degree of fluency, he could under­stand much of what he heard spoken; which greatly facilitated his learning it, when he came to it in a more re­gular way.

The difficulty of learning to speak, and read, being in a great degree sub­dued, he was put upon the grand point, for which he was sent into England—that of being instructed in the christian religion. The gentle­men to whose care he had been recom­mended, alternately took him under their protection; and each gave up [Page 182]his whole time to him, faithfully dis­charging the trust he had voluntarily, and without any emolument under­taken.

Naimbanna was first convinced that the bible was the word of God; the most material parts of which—of the old testament, as well as of the new—were explained to him. The great necessity of a Saviour from the sinful­ness of man was pointed out—the end and design of christianity—its doctrines—its precepts, and its sanctions, were all made intelligible to him. With a clearness of understanding, which astonished those who took the [Page 183]care of instructing him, he made these divine truths familiar to him: and having no prejudices to oppose, but the absurdities of his own country, which were easily subdued, he re­ceived the gospel with joy; and car­ried it home to his heart as the means of happiness both in this world and the next.

His love for reading the scriptures, and hearing them ready, was such, that he was never tired of the exercise.* [Page 184]Every other part of learning that he was put upon, as arithmetic for in­stance, was heavy work with him; and he soon began to complain of fatigue: but even when he was most fatigued, if he was asked to read in the bible, he was always ready; and generally expressed his readiness by some emo­tions of joy. In short, he considered the bible as the rule which was to di­rect his life; and he made a real use of every piece of instruction he ob­tained from it. This was evident in all his actions. If his behaviour was at any time wrong, and a passage of scripture was shewn to him, which [Page 185]forbad the impropriety or wrong be­haviour, whatever it was, he instantly complied with the rule he received. Of this there were many instances.

One related to dress. He had a little touch of vanity about him—was fond of finery—admired it in other people, and was always ready to adorn himself. His kind instructors told him these were childish inclinations—that decency, and propriety of dress were pleasing: but that foppery was disgusting. Above all, they told him the scripture idea was very different. The christian was ordered to be cloath­ed with humility; and to put on the [Page 186]ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. Such passages, whenever they were suggested to him, checked all the little vanities of his heart; and made him ashamed of what he had just before so eagerly desired.

The irritable passions, where lay his weakest side, were conquered in the same way. His friends once car­ried him to the house of commons to hear a debate on the slave trade; which colonel Tarlton defended with some warmth. When Naimbanna came out of the house, he exclaimed with great vehemence and indignation, that he would kill that man where­ever [Page 187]he met him; for he told stories of his country. He told people that his countrymen would not work; and that was a great story. His country­men would work; but Englishmcn would not buy work; they would buy only men.—His friends told him, he should not be so angry with colonel Tarlton; for perhaps he had been misinformed, and knew no better. Besides they told him, that at any rate, he had no right to kill him; for God says, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, faith the Lord. This calmed him in a moment: and he never after­wards expressed the least indignation [Page 188]at colonel Tarlton; but would have been ready to have shewn him any friendly office, if it had fallen in his way.

At another time, when he saw a drayman using his horse ill; he fired at it exceedingly; and declared in a vio­lent passion, he would get a gun, and shoot that fellow directly. He would always, he said, carry a gun about him to kill such sort of people, for they deserved to be killed. But his anger was presently asswaged, by some such passage from scripture, as, Be ye angry and sin not: let not the sun go down up­on your wrath.

[Page 189]Among the difficulties, in which his new religion involved him, one respected his wives. He had married three; but he clearly saw the new testa­ment allowed only one. What should he do with the other two? Then again, if he should repudiate two of them, which should he retain? In justice he thought he should keep her, whom he had married first. But she was not the wife of his affections. He loved the second best. In short, he shewed so much tenderness of con­science on this, and every other point, that he seemed anxious about nothing, but to know what his religion required [Page 190]him to do. When be could determine the rectitude of an action, he set an example to christians, by shewing he thought there was no difficulty in the performance. Whether he met with any casuist, to set him right in the matter of his wives, I never heard. It is certain however, that while he con­tinued in England, he shewed no sign, in any instance, of infidelity to his African engagements.

With regard to liquor, which is a great temptation to an African, he was, from the first, perfectly sober. He said, his father had ordered him never to drink more at a time than a [Page 191]single glass of wine, when he came in­to England; and he considered his fa­ther's injunction as sacred. It was probably founded on the knowledge of his son's warmth of temper, which he seared wine might inflame. On this head therefore all the instruction he wanted, was to turn his temperance into a christian virtue, by practising it with a sincere desire to please God.

Among the gay scenes, which Na­imbanna could not but often see, he never mixed. His friends were very solicitous to keep him from all pleasu­rable dissipation, which might possibly have corrupted that beautiful simpli­city [Page 192]of mind, which was so characte­ristic in him: tho indeed he never shewed a desire to join in any diver­sion, which they did not intirely ap­prove. Dancing assemblies were the only meetings of amusement, for which he shewed the least inclination. But tho his friends were unwilling to trust him in any gay, promiscuous meetings of that kind, they were very ready to indulge him in a dance at home.; and he enjoyed the exercise with great alacrity, jumping and ca­pering, after the manner of his coun­try, with an agility, which was too violent for any body but himself.— [Page 193]He was fond also of riding on horse­back; but when he got upon a horse, there was no governing his desire of rapid motion.

He had now been a year and a half in England, and had been well in­structed in the christian religion, which he perfectly understood. He was baptized therefore; and now on­ly waited for the first opportunity of going home, which did not happen till about five or fix months after­wards.

In the mean time two great points were the burthen of his thoughts, and [Page 194]gave him much distress. The first related to his father, whose death, he had heard, had happened about a year after he left the country. The great cause of his solicitude was his uncertainty, whether his father had died a christian. He knew he had been well-disposed to christianity: but he had never heard, whether he had fully embraced it.

His other difficulty regarded him­self. He had now attained the end he aimed at. He had been instructed in a religion, which, he was convinced, would promote the happiness of his people, if it could be established [Page 195]among them. But how was that to be done? With regard to himself, he had had wise, and learned men to in­struct him. But what could his abili­ties do in such a work?—especially considering the wild, and savage man­ners of his countrymen. In every light, the greatness of the attempt perplexed him.

With a mind distressed by these dif­ficulties, he took an affectionate leave of his kind friends in England, and embarked for Africa in one of the company's ships, which was named after him, the Naimbanna.

[Page 196]On the departure of this amiable youth, we cannot help sympathizing with his generous feelings on the state of his country, which all humane peo­ple must unite in deploring. Much do we admire the Sierra Leone com­pany for their beneficent endeavours to rescue it from that miserable state of darkness, in which it is involved. But nothing perhaps places its wretched bondage in a more striking light, than such a character as we have just been exhibiting. When we were taught to believe the African had scarce a rank among human beings, it injured our feelings less to think of [Page 197]the base condition to which he was reduced. But when we see in him such instances of fine affections—such generous sentiments—such aptitude to receive religious truth—and have every reason to believe, that instances of this kind are to be found, more or less, in all parts of this unhappy country;* what a shocking idea [Page 198]does it present to see all these fine feelings damped; and thousands of these wretched sufferers, with all their generous propensities about them, lost to themselves—and to society—and dragged away into all the misery, and abject necessities, which follow slavery.

[Page 199]We lest Naimbanna embarking for Africa, in a state of mind rather tending to despondency. He had too much sensibility about him to enjoy any settled repose. Tho he had al­ways shewn great affection for his own country, and relations, yet the kind­nesses he had received from his friends in England had impressed him [Page 200]strongly; and it was not without a great struggle with himself that he broke away from them at last.

The distress he felt was the greater, as the society he now mixed in at sea was very different from that he had left behind. The profligate manners, and licentious language of the ship's company, shocked him ex­ceedingly. The purity of his mind could not bear it. He hoped in a christian country, he should always have found himself among christians. But he was greatly disappointed. The company he was in, appeared to him as ignorant; and uninformed as [Page 201]his own savage countrymen; and much less innocent in their manners. At length, the oaths, and abominable conversation he continually heard, disgusted him so much, that he com­plained to the captain of the ship, and desired him to put a stop to such in­decent language. The captain en­deavoured to check it; but with little effect; which gave Naimbanna new distress.

But what still more than all was the great burden of his mind, was the difficulty he foresaw in his attempt to introduce christianity among his countrymen. Many were the schemes [Page 202]he thought of. But insuperable obstacles seemed to arise on every side.

All this perplexity, which his active, and generous mind underwent, recoil­ed upon himself. His thoughts were continually on the stretch; and, as it was thought, at length occasioned a fever, which seized him, as his voyage was nearly at an end. His malady in­creasing, was attended with a delirium, which lest him only few lucid inter­vals. In these his mind always shone out full of religious hope, and patient resignation to the will of God.

[Page 203]During one of these intervals he told Mr. Graham, (a fellow-passenger, with whom he was most intimate) that he began to think he should be called away, before he had an opportunity to tell his mother of the mercies of God towards him, and of his obligati­ons to the Sierra Leone company. He then desired him to take pen and ink, and write his will. The will, as follows was written in the presence of captain Wooles, and of James Cato, a black servant, who attended Naim­banna. It was afterwards regretted, that Mr. Graham had not written the will exactly in the language, which [Page 204]Naimbanna dictated, instead of giving it a legal cast.

On board the Naimbanna, July 14, 1793.

I, Henry Granville Naimbanna, having been, for some days, very un­well, and being apprehensive, that I may not reach my friends, have commu­nicated the underwritten, in the pre­sence of the subscribers.—It is my will, and desire, that my brother Bartholo­mew do pay to the Sierra Leone com­pany thirteen tons of rice, or the value thereof, being in consideration of the sums expended by the said company on [Page 205]my account.—And likewise, that my said brother shall pay the sum of fifty pounds sterling to Henry Thornton, Esq. for money advanced by him on my ac­count.—It is my will also, that my bro­ther Bartholomew shall possess all my estates, real, and personal, till my son Lewis shall be of age; and that he shall deliver unto my said son, all that he re­ceives from me for him; and that he will always endeavour to be on a good understanding with the Sierra Leone company. I particularly request him, as far as he can, to oppose the slave trade; and that nothing injurious may be impnted to the Sierra Leone company [Page 206]by any evil-minded men, whose interest may be to oppose that worthy company. —I here declare in the presence of that God, in whom I place my trust, that du­ring my stay in England, I always en­joyed very good health; and received the greatest kindness from all those, whose care I was under; and that, at my leaving England, I was in perfect health.—It is likewise my request, that my brother shall send to the Suzee coun­try for the cows, that belonged to my fa­ther; and that he will present three of them to the governor and council of the Sierra Leone company. And if he does not find that number of cows, that he [Page 207]will purchase three others, and give them in my name.—I farther desire, that my brother will pay James Dean Cato, who attended me as my servant, the sum of five bars.—

When Mr. Graham had written thus far, Naimbanna complained of fatigue; and said, he would finish his will after he had taken a little rest. But soon after, his fever came on with increased violence, and his delirium scarce ever left him afterwards.

In this will, we see the workings of his generous mind, which seems chiefly to have been intent on two [Page 208]things—the remuneration of his friends (tho they would not accept his kind legacies) and the prevention of any mischief befalling the company from his dying in their hands. It is probable, if he had finished his will, he would have added other legacies; for several English gentlemen were kind to him, as well as Mr. Thorn­ton.

The night after Naimbanna had made his will, the vessel, tho close on the African coast, durst not attempt to land, as the wind was contrary, and there was danger of running on the Scarries bank. The next morning [Page 209]however, tho the wind was still con­trary, Mr. Graham went off to the settlement in an open boat, to procure medical aid. But when the physician came on board, the poor youth was only just alive: and in that state he was carried to the settlement the next morning, July the 17th, when the ship came to an anchor.

On the first account of Naimbanna's illness, an express had been sent to inform his friends at Robanna: and soon after he landed, his mother, bro­thers, sister, and other relations came to the settlement. His wives it is [Page 210]probable, lived in some distant part, as they are not mentioned. The dis­tracted looks of his mother, and the wildness of his sister's grief affected every one. His cousin Henry, an inge­nuous youth, who stood among them, attracted the attention of all by the so­lemn sorrow of his countenance, which seemed to discover a heart full of ten­derness and woe. His brother Bar­tholomew was the only one, who ap­peared little concerned, and gave much offence to the gentlemen of the factory, by the indifference of his behaviour.

[Page 211]In the mean time, the dying youth appeared every moment drawing near­er the close of life. His voice failing more and more, the little he said, was with difficulty understood. Once, or twice, those around him caught hold of something like our Saviour's words, Many are called, but few are chosen.

About an hour before he died, his voice wholly failed. He was awhile restless and uneasy; till turning his head on his pillow, he found an easier posture, and lay perfectly quiet. About seven o'clock in the evening of the same day, on which he was [Page 212]brought on shore, he expired without a groan.

When his mother and other rela­tions found his breath was gone, their shrieks, and agonizing cries were dis­tressing beyond measure. Instantly, in a kind of frantic madness, they snatched up his body, hurried it into a canoe, and went off with it to Robanna.

Some of the gentlemen of the factory immediately followed in boats with a cossin. When the corpse was laid decently into it, Mr. Horne, the clergyman, read the funeral service ever it, amidst a number of people; [Page 213]and finished with an extempore prayer. The ceremony was conducted with so much solemnity, and performed in so affecting a manner, that the impression was communicated through the whole ignorant croud. They drew closer and closer, as Mr. Horne continued to speak; and tho they understood not a syllable of what he said, they listened to him with great attention; and bore witness, with every mark of sorrow, to the powers of sympathy.—After the ceremony was over, the gentlemen of the factory retired to their boats, leav­ing the corpse, as his friends desired, to [Page 214]be buried after the manner of the country.—We mix our grief with theirs; and shut up in the inscrutable counsels of God, all inquiries into the reasons why so invaluable life was per­mitted to be cut off, just at the time of its greatest probable utility.

In his pocket-book were sound-after his death, two litle notes, which shew the wonderful sensibility of his mind in religious matters. They re­late to a cirumstance already taken notice of—the disgust he took at the behaviour of the ship's company. [Page 215]The first seems to have been written soon after he embarked.

I shall take care of this company which I now fallen into, for they swears good deal, and talks all manner of wickedness, and filthy. All these things can I be able to resist this temptation? No, I cannot, but the Lord will deliver me.

The other memorandum was pro­bably written after he had complained to the captain.

June 23, 1793.—I have this day declared, that if Sierra Leone's vessels should be like to Naimbanna, or have a company like her, I will never think of [Page 216]coming to England again, tho I have friends there as dear to me as the last: words my father spoke, when he gave up the ghost.

It was not however without reason, that Naimbanna, who knew his coun­trymen, had been so solicitous in his will, to settle the state of his health, when he left England. Tho the peo­ple appeared pleased at first with the attention, which the company had shewn to their young prince; yet a rumour soon began to spread, and, gain credit among them, that he had been poisoned by the captain of the [Page 217]ship; and a spirit was rising in the country, in some degree fomented, it was supposed, by Naimbanna's brother Bartholomew, which seemed to fore­bode disagreeable consequences. The company had occasion for all their address to satisfy the people, and bring them to a right understanding of the case; which however they at length with great prudence effected.



THE observations which seem naturally to arise from these several little histories, are these.

The two first exemplify—that if a man of fortune would live most at his ease, he must live within his income—that a moderate and temperate use of the blessings, which God hath intrust­ed to him, affords as much happiness, [Page 219]as those blessings can produce—much more than a licentious abuse of them —that his enjoyments are in fact multiplied by distributing from his overplus to those in need—that this can only be done by economy, and the abridgment of many of his own desires—that a religious life is the only means of procuring him real happiness in this world—that fortune alone can never be a fource of happi­ness—that no fortune can secure a man against the misery, and distress, which folly and extravagance occasion—that when vice is added to folly, and extravagance, they never fail to [Page 220]produce in conjunction, a very com­plicated scene of misery—that a pro­fligate man of fortune is a curse to his neighbourhood: in return for the blessings which God hath given him, he first corrupts his own family; and then by his licentious manners spreads vice, and dissipation through the country—and lastly, that altho few men attain so perfect a character; or can be so basely depraved, as the two persons here represented—yet in the same proportion, in which they approach the one character, or the other, they will feel the happiness, or [Page 221]misery, which naturally belongs to each.

In the next memoir, the effects of religion on our future interests are chiefly considered. It would be an unfaithful picture, unless it pointed out the temporal calamities also con­sequent on vice; but its primary in­tention is to illustrate the triumph of religion over wickedness.

The most accomplished libertine cannot pretend to more shining qua­lities, or greater powers of mind, than Lord Rochester possessed. If a man of his parts and knowledge therefore [Page 222]could not satisfy himself with his deistical arguments, it is hardly to be supposed, that other infidels of inferi­or parts can hit upon arguments that are more satisfactory. They should learn therefore to be a little more modest; and to doubt, whether their own conclusions are quite so safe, as they are willing to believe them.

Again, the most abandoned libertine cannot enjoy more of the guilty plea­sures of life than Lord Rochester did. If then these guilty pleasures, when en­joyed in the highest degree, ended in the keenest; distress—if nothing could remove this distress, but a sincere re­pentance, [Page 223]and the hopes of forgiveness through the atonement of Christ—if religion thus gave peace and happiness to one of the greatest sinners that ever lived—if it, and it alone could quiet his dying moments, and make him happier in the thoughts of leaving the world, than he had ever been in possessing it—it follows, that the plea­sures of sin are merely the baits of wickedness—that religion alone af­fords solid comfort; and is indeed that alone, on which we can depend for happiness in every circumstance, and in every period of our lives.

[Page 224]The last of these memoirs shews re­ligion in that genuine purity, in which we selclom see it. Amidst the refine­ments of learning, and philosophy— the courtesies of the world—the max­ims of trade—and corrupting amuse­ments of life—we see christianity tricked out in a variety of dresses, in which it is always disguised, and often deformed. Were we with honest and open hearts, to see religion stripped of all these false colours, it would strike us, as it did the early ages, to whom it was first preached, with its powerful influence in improving the nature of man.

[Page 225]To illustrate this truth is the busi­ness of the little narrative before us. A rude African comes amongst us, to­tally void of all ideas of religion. He is kept aloof from the pleasure­able, and corrupting scenes of life. Christianity in its genuine form is placed before him. From his own wants, and imperfections he infers its necessity. From its holiness he infers its truth. He imbibes its genius. He changes his savage manners. He be­comes a new man. He is shocked at vice in the professors of christi­anity; and sees no difference himself [Page 226]between knowing his duty, and prac­tising it.

In short, the story of Naimbanna, is a beautiful illustration of our blessed Saviour's injunction to receive the gospel as little children: and it should convince us, that if we are desirous to receive it in this manner, we should endeavour carefully to se­parate it from the customs and prac­tices of the world; which is one of the most necessary, and at the same time one of the severest duties of a state of trial.

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