Imatges de pÓgina
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very good to me; and I don't see how I can help "myself."

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"I will tell you," said the lady: "if you will "follow my advice, you may not only maintain yourself honestly, but independently. Only "oblige yourself to live hard for a little time, till Co you have saved five shillings out of your own earnings. Give up that expensive supper at night, "drink only one pint of porter, and no gin at all. "As soon as you have scraped together the five "shillings, carry it back to your false friend; and "if you are industrious, you will, at the end of "the year, have saved 71. 10s. If you can make a shift to live now, when you have this heavy interest to pay, judge how things will mend when your capital becomes your own. You will put "some clothes on your back; and, by leaving the use of spirits, and the company in which you "drink them, your health, your morals, and your "condition, will mend."

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The lady did not talk thus to save her money. She would willingly have given the girl the five shillings; but she thought it was beginning at the wrong end. She wanted to try her. Besides, she knew there was more pleasure, as well as honour, in possessing five shillings of one's own saving, than of another's giving. Betty promised to obey. She owned she had got no good by the company or the liquor at Mrs. Sponge's. She promised that very night to begin saving the expence of the supper; and that she would not taste a drop of gin till she had the five shillings beforehand. The lady, who knew the power of good habits, was contented with this, thinking, that if the girl could abstain for a certain time, it would become easy to her. She therefore, at present, said little about the sin of drinking, and only insisted on the expence of it,

In a very few weeks Betty had aved up the five shillings. She went to carry back this money with great gratitude to Mrs. Sponge. This kind friend began to abuse her most unmercifully. She called her many hard names, not fit to repeat, for having forsaken the supper, by which she swore she herself got nothing at all; but as she had the charity to dress it for such beggarly wretches, she insisted they should pay for it, whether they eat it or not. She also brought in a heavy score for lodging, though Betty had paid for it every night, and had given notice of her intending to quit her. By all these false pretences, she got from her not only her own five shillings, but all the little capital with which Betty was going to set up for herself. All was not sufficient to answer her demands, she declared she would send her to prison; but while she went to call a constable, Betty contrived to make off.

With a light pocket and a heavy heart, she went back to the lady; and with many tears told her sad story. The lady's husband the justice, condescended to listen to Betty's tale. He said Mrs. Sponge had long been upon his books as a receiver of stolen goods. Betty's evidence strengthened his bad opinion of her. "This petty system of usury," said the magistrate," may be thought trifling, but it

will no longer appear so, when you reflect, that "if one of these female sharpers possesses a capital "of seventy shillings, or 31, 10s. with fourteen "steady regular customers, she can realize a fixed "income of one hundred guineas a-year. Add to

this the influence such a loan gives her over these "friendless creatures, by compelling them to eat at "her house, or lodge, or buy liquors, or by taking "their pawns, and you will see the extent of the " evil. I pity these poor victims: you, Betty, shall point out some of them to me. I will endeavour

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to open their eyes on their own bad management. "It is not by giving to the importunate shillings "and half crowns, and turning them adrift to wait "for the next accidental relief, that much good is "done. It saves trouble, indeed, but that trouble being the most valuable part of charity ought not "to be spared; at least by those who have leisure as well as affluence. It is one of the greatest acts "of kindness to the poor to mend their œconomy, "and to give them right views of laying out their "little money to advantage. These poor blinded

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creatures look no farther than to be able to pay "this heavy interest every night, and to obtain the same loan on the same hard terms the next-day. "Thus are they kept in poverty and bondage all "their lives; but I hope as many as hear of this will

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get on a better plan, and I shall be ready to help

any who are willing to help themselves." This worthy magistrate went directly to Mrs. Sponge's with proper officers; and he soon got to the bottom of many iniquities. He not only made her refund poor Betty's money, but committed her to prison for receiving stolen goods, and various other offences, which may, perhaps, make the subject of another history.

Betty was now set up in trade to her heart's content. She had found the benefit of leaving off spirits, and she resolved to drink them no more. The first fruits of this resolution was, that in a fortnight she bought her a new pair of shoes; and as there was now no deduction for interest, or for gin, her earnings became considerable. The lady made her a present of a gown and a hat, on the easy condition that she should go to church. She accepted the terms, at first rather as an act of obedience to the lady, than from a sense of higher duty. But she soon began to go from a better motive. This

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constant attendance at church, joined to the instruc tions of the lady, opened a new world to Betty. She now heard, for the first time, that she was a sinner; that God had given a law which was holy, just, and good; that she had broken this law, had been a swearer, a sabbath-breaker, and had lived without God in the world. All this was sad news to Betty; she knew, indeed, before, that there were sinners, but she thought they were only to be found in the prisons, or at Botany Bay, or in those mournful carts which she had sometimes followed with her barrow, with the unthinking crowd, to Tyburn. She was deeply struck with the great truths revealed in the Scripture, which were quite new to her; her heart smote her, and she became anxious to flee from the wrath to come. She was desirous of improvement, and said, "she would give up all the profits of her "barrow, and go into the hardest service, rather "than live in sin and ignorance."

Betty," said the lady, "I am glad to see you so "well disposed, and will do what I can for you "Your present way of life, to be sure, exposes you "to much danger; but the trade is not unlawful in "itself, and we may please God in any calling, pro"vided it be not a dishonest one. In this great

"town there must be barrow-women to sell fruit. "Do you, then, instead of forsaking your business, "set a good example to those in it, and shew them, "that though a dangerous trade, it need not be a "wicked one. Till Providence points out some sa"fer way of getting your bread, let your compani"ons see, that it is possible to be good even in this. "Your trade being carried on in the open street, "and your fruit bought in an open shop, you are "not so much obliged to keep sinful company as "may be thought. Take a garret in an honest

house, to which you may go home in safety at

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night.

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night. I will give you a bed and a few necessa"ries to furnish your room; and I will also give you 66 a constant Sunday's dinner. A barrow-woman, "blessed be God and our good laws, is as much her 66 own mistress on Sundays as a duchess; and the "church and the Bible are as much open to her. "You may soon learn as much of religion as you "are expected to know. A barrow-woman may

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pray as heartily morning and night, and serve "God as acceptably all day, while she is carrying on "her little trade, as if she had her whole time to 66 spare.

"To do this well, you must mind the following

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"Resist every temptation to cheat.

Never impose bad goods on false pretences. "Never put off bad money for gool. "Never use prophane or uncivil language.

"Never swear your goods cost so much, when "you know it is false. By so doing you are guilty "of two sins in one breath, a lie and an oath.

"To break these rules, will be your chief tempta❝tion. God will mark how you behave under them, "and will reward or punish you accordingly. These "temptations will be as great to you, as higher tri"als are to higher people; but you have the same "God to look to for strength to resist them as they "have. You must pray to him to give you this "strength. You shall attend a Sunday-school, "where you will be taught these good things; and "I will promote you as you shall be found to deserve."

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Poor Betty here burst into tears of joy and gratitude, crying out, "What! shall such a poor friend

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