Imatges de pàgina
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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 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 amend 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 twelve thousand oaths 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 thieftakers 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 thieftaker 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 the hand, swearing that I was a very honest fellow, and that they desired my further 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 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 nar

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row 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 handsome 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 feilow prisoner, “ that it must give you great comfort to have all this little family about you.'

“ X comfort, Mr. Jenkinson !” replied I,“ yes, it is 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 he, “ I can't help wondering at what you could see in my face to think me a proper mark for deception.”

My dear sir,” returned the other," it was not your face, but your white stockings and the black riband in your hair, that allured me. But, no disparagement to your parts, I have deceived wiser men

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than you in my time; and yet with all my tricks the blockheads have been too many for me at last.”

“ I suppose,” cried my son, “ that the narrative of such a life as yours must be extremely instructive and amusing."

“ Not much of either," returned Mr. Jenkinson. “Those relations which describe the tricks and vices only of mankind, by increasing our suspicion in life retard our success. The traveller that distrusts every person he meets, and turns back upon the appearance of every man that looks like a robber, seldom arrives in time at his journey's end.

“ Indeed I think, from my own experience, that the knowing one is the silliest fellow under the sun. I was thought cunning from my very childhood ; when but seven years old the ladies would say that I was a perfect little man; at fourteen I knew the world, cocked my hat, and loved the ladies ; at twenty, though I was perfectly honest, yet every one thought me so cunning that not one would trust me. Thus I was at last obliged to turn sharper in my own defence, and have lived ever since, my head throbbing with schemes to deceive, and my heart palpitating with fears of detection. I used often to laugh at your honest simple neighbour Flamborough, and one way or another generally cheated him once a year. Yet still the honest man went forward without suspicion, and grew rich, while I still continued tricksy and cunning, and was poor, without the consolation of being honest. However," continued he,“ let me know your case, and what has brought you here ; perhaps, though I have not skill to avoid a gaol myself, I may extricate

my friends."

In compliance with his curiosity, I informed him of the whole train of accidents and follies that had plunged me into my present troubles, and my utter inability to get free.

After hearing my story, and pausing some minutes, he slapped his forehead as if he had hit upon something material, and took his leave, saying he would try what could be done.

CHAP. XXVII.

THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.

The next morning I communicated to my wife and children the scheme I had planned of reforming the prisoners, which they received with universal disapprobation, alleging the impossibility and impropriety of it; adding, that my endeavours would no way contribute to their amendment, but might probably disgrace my calling.

“Excuse me," returned I,“ these people however fallen are still men, and that is a very good title to my affections. Good counsel rejected returns to enrich the giver's bosom; and though the instruction I communicate may not mend them, yet it will assuredly mend myself. If these wretches, my children, were princes, there would be thousands ready to offer their ministry; but in my opinion the heart that is buried in a dungeon is as precious as that seated upon a throne. Yes, my treasures, if I can mend them I will; perhaps they will not all despise me. Perhaps I may catch up even one from the gulf, and

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