Imatges de pÓgina
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his instruction ; if bad, he might be assisted by mine. I found this to be a knowing man, of strong unlettered sense, but a thorough knowledge of the world, as it is called, or, more properly speaking, of human nature on the wrong side. He asked me if I had taken care to provide myself with a bed, which was a circumstance I had never once attended to.

“ That's unfortunate,” cried he, " as you are allowed here nothing but straw, and your apartment is very large and cold. However, you seem to be something of a gentleman, and, as I have been one myself in my time, part of my bedclothes are heartily at your service.'

I thanked him, professing my surprise at finding such humanity in a jail in misfortunes ; adding, to let him see that I was a scholar, “ That the sage ancient seemed to understand the value of company in affliction, when he said Ton kosmon aire, ei dos ton etairon ; and, in fact,” continued I,“ what is the world if it affords only solitude ?"

“ You talk of the world, sir, returned my fellow prisoner ; “ the world is in its dotage ; and yet the cosmogony or creation of the world has puzzled the philosophers of every age. What a medley of opinions have they not broached upon the creation of the world! Sanchoniathon, Manetho, Berosus, and Ocellus Lucanus, have all attempted it in vain. The latter has these words, Anarchon ara kai atelutaion to pan, which implies”-“ I ask pardon, sir,” cried I, “ for interrupting so much learning ; but I think I have heard all this before. Have I not had the pleasure of once seeing you at Wellbridge fair, and is not your name Ephraim Jenkinson ?” At this demand he only sighed.

“ I suppose you must recollect,” resumed I, one Doctor Primrose, from whom you bought a horse ?”

He now at once recollected me ; for the gloominess of the place and the approaching night had prevented his distinguishing my features before. “ Yes, sir," returned Mr Jenkinson, “ I remember you perfectly well ; I bought a horse, but forgot to pay for him. Your neighbour Flamborough is the only prosecutor I am any way afraid of at the next assizes ; for he intends to swear positively against me as a coiner. I am heartily sorry, sir, I ever deceived you, or indeed any man ; for you see," continued he, shewing his shackles, “ what my tricks have brought me to.”

• Well, sir,” replied I, “your kindness in offering me assistance when you could expect no return, shall be repaid

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with my endeavours to soften, or totally suppress Mr Flamborough’s evidence, and I will send my son to him for that purpose the first opportunity; nor do I in the least doubt but he will comply with my request ; and as to my own evidence, you need be under no uneasiness about that."

Well, sir,” cried he, “ all the return I can make shall be yours. You shall have more than half my bed-clothes tonight, and I'll take care to stand your friend in the prison, where I think I have some influence.”

I thanked him, and could not avoid being surprised at the present youthful change in his aspect; for at the time I had seen him before, he appeared at least sixty. • Sir," answered he, “ you are little acquainted with the world; I had, at that time, false hair, and have learned the art of counterfeiting every age from seventeen to seventy. Ah, sir! had I but bestowed half the pains in learning a trade, that I have in learning to be a scoundrel, I might have been a rich man at this day. But, rogue as I am, still I may be your friend, and that, perhaps, when you least expect it.”

We were now prevented from farther conversation, by the arrival of the jailer's servants, who came to call over the prisoners' names, and lock up for the night. A fellow also, with a bundle of straw for my bed, attended, who led me along a dark narrow passage, into a room paved like the common prison, and in one corner of this I spread my bed, and the clothes given me by my fellow prisoner; which done, my conductor, who was civil enough, bade me a good night, After my usual meditations, and having praised my Heavenly Corrector, I laid myself down, and slept with the utmost tranquillity till morning.

CHAPTER XXVI.

A REFORMATION IN THE JAIL : TO MAKE LAWS COMPLETE, THEY

SHOULD REWARD AS WELL AS PUNISH.

The next morning early, I was awakened by my family, whom I found in tears at my bed side. The gloomy strength of every thing about us, it seems, had daunted them. I gently rebuked their sorrow, assuring them I had never slept with greater tranquillity, and next inquired after my eldest

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daughter, who was not among them. They informied me that yesterday's uneasiness and fatigue had increased her fever, and it was judged proper to leave her behind. My next care was to send my son to procure a room or two to lodge the family in, as near the prison as conveniently could be found. He obeyed; but could only find one apartment, which was hired at a small expense for his mother and sisters, the jailer, with humanity, consenting to let him and his two little brothers lie in the prison with me. A bed was therefore prepared for them in a corner of the room, which I thought answered very conveniently. I was willing, however, previously to know whether my little children chose to lie in a place which seemed to fright them upon entrance. Well,” cried I, “ my good boys, how do you

like

your bed ? I hope you are not afraid to lie in this room, dark as it appears ?" “No, papa," says Dick, “ I am not afraid to lie

any

where, where

you are.” “ And 1,” says Bill, who was yet but four years old, “ love every place best that my papa is in.”

After this I allotted to each of the family what they were to do. My daughter was particularly directed to watch her aeciining sister's health ; my wife was to attend me ; my little boys were to read to me : “ And as for you, my son, continued I, “ it is by the labour of your hands we must all hope to be supported. Your wages as a day-labourer will be fully sufficient, with proper frugality, to maintain us all, and comfortably too. Thou art now sixteen years old, and nast strength ; and it was given thee, my son, for very useful

purposes ; for it must save from famine your helpless parents and family. Prepare then, this evening, to look out for work against to-morrow, and bring home every night what money you earn for our support.”

Having thus instructed him, and settled the rest, I walked down to the common prison, where I could enjoy more air and room.

But I was not long there when the execrations, lewdness, and brutality that invaded me on every side, drove me back to my apartment again. Here 1 sat for some time pondering upon the strange infatuation of wretches, who, finding all mankind in open arms against them, were labouring to make themselves a future and a tremendous enemy.

Their insensibility excited my highest compassion, and

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blotted my own uneasiness from my mind. It even appeared a duty incumbent upon me to attempt to reclaim them. I resolved, therefore, once more to return, and, in spite of their contempt, to give them my advice, and conquer them by my perseverance. Going, therefore, among them again, I'informed Mr Jenkinson of my design, at which he laughed heartily, but communicated it to the rest.

The proposal was received with the greatest good humour, as it promised to afford a new fund of entertainment to persons who had now no other resource for mirth, but what could be derived from ridicule or debauchery.

I therefore read them a portion of the service with a loud unaffected voice, and found my audience perfectly merry upon the occasion. Lewd whispers, groans of contrition burlesqued, winking and coughing, alternately excited laughter. However, I continued with my natural solemnity to read on, sensible that what I did might mend some, but could itself receive no contamination from any.

After reading, I entered upon my exhortation, which was rather calculated at first to amuse them than to

reprove.

I previously observed, that no other motive but their welfare could induce me to this ; that I was their fellow-prisoner, and now got nothing by preaching. I was sorry, I said, to hear them so very profane ; because they got nothing by it, but might lose a great deal : “ For be assured, my friends,". cried I,-“ for you are my friends, however the world may disclaim your friendship,—though you swore a thousand oaths in a day, it would not put one penny in your purse.

Then what signifies calling every moment upon the devil, and courting his friendship, since you find how scurvily he uses you? He has given you nothing here, you find, but a mouthful of oaths and an empty belly ; and, by the best accounts I have of him, he will give you nothing that's good hereafter.

“ If used ill in our dealings with one man, we naturally go elsewhere. Were it not worth your while, then, just to try how you may like the usage of another master, who gives you fair promises at least to come to him ? Surely, my friends, of all stupidity in the world, his must be the greatest, who, after robbing a house, runs to the thief-takers for protection. And yet, how are you more wise ? You are all seeking comfort from one that has already betrayed you, applying to a more malicious being than any thief-taker of them all; for they only decoy and then hang you ; but he decoys and hangs, and, what is worst of all, will not let you loose after the hangman has done."

When I had concluded, I received the compliments of my audience, some of whom came and shook me by thehand, swearing that I was a very honest fellow, and that they desired my farther acquaintance. I therefore promised; to repeat my lecture next day, and actually conceived some hopes of making a reformation here ; for it had ever been, my opinion, that no man was past the hour of amendment, every heart lying open to the shafts of reproof, if the archer could but take a proper aim. When I had thus satisfied my mind, I went back to my apartment, where my wife prepared a frugal meal, while Mr Jenkinson begged leave to add his dinner to ours, and partake of the pleasure, as he was kind enough to express it, of my conversation. He had: not yet seen my family ; for as they came to my apartment by a door in the narrow passage already described, by this means they avoided the common prison. Jenkinson at the first interview, therefore, seemed not a little struck with the beauty of my youngest daughter, which her pensive air contributed to heighten ; and my little ones did not pass unnoticed.

“ Alas, Doctor," cried he, “ these children are too hande some and too good for such a place as this!”

Why, Mr Jenkinson,” replied I, “ thank Heaven, my children are pretty tolerable in morals ; and if they be good, it matters little for the rest."

“ I fancy, sir," returned my fellow prisoner, " that it must give you great comfort to have all this little family about you."

“ A comfort, Mr Jenkinson !” replied I ; indeed a comfort, and I would not be without them for all the world ; for they can make a dungeon seem a palace. There is but one way in this life of wounding my happiness, and that is by injuring them.”

“ I am afraid then, sir," cried he, “that I am in some measure culpable; for I think I see here, (looking at my son Moses,) one that I have injured, and by whom I wish to be forgiven.”

My son immediately recollected his voice and features, though he had before seen him in disguise, and taking him by the hand, with a smile, forgave him. “ Yet,” continued

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