Page images

o not my will, but thine, O God, be done.' To get it by heart should be our study, and much time it will take up; but will amply repay all our pains; the more perfect we are in it the better, for it is no less our happiness than our duty; there is no happiness without it.”

Having mentioned his studies and his friends at the period of time, before he published any thing, I now proceed to point out one of the most admirable traits in his character, I mean his extensive charities, founded as they were in the purest Christian motives, so extensive in their amount, and so singular in the mode of distribution. Being mindful of the apostolical injunction, to lay by in store as God had prospered him, this good man, from the amount of all his profits and income, annually deducted two several tenth parts. These he immediately entered in his private books of account, under the heads respectively of Clericus and Pauper ; and from the instant of thus appropriating them, he considered himself holding, as a trustee, for these two charitable funds. It sometimes happened, from a want of proper objects presenting themselves, that one or both of these funds were considerably in cash. But when that was the case, Mr. Stevens was always found to be a most faithful steward for the poor, religiously accounting for every farthing, and allowing interest upon the capital, thus once appropriated in his hands, till the whole was expended. But it more frequently occurred, that one full tenth of his income was insufficient to answer the numerous charges, with which his munificence, loaded each of these funds, particularly the latter. By that an annual deficit, to a considerable amount, during many of the latter years of his life, was experienced: but Mr. Stevens always found means to supply the want, by making to the account of Pauper, or Clericus, as the case might be, a free gift of such further sum as its exigencies required. These accounts, since the death of this good man, I have seen, and have observed the al-, lowance of interest, &c. in the manner above stated. Besides these two accounts of Clericus and Pauper, thus liberally supplied by this great cultivator of true charity, he had another head in his books of account, entitled, Gifts; which, if possible, displays the true Christian temper of this excellent man even more than those I have already mentioned. Under the head of Gifts then, were aranged not only expences to a large amount, which might properly be so considered, such as presents of books, wine, or other things to friends, to whom he either wished to shew these marks of gratitude for kindness he received at their hands; or who could not conveniently purchase these things themselves : but also many other acts of bounty, which, to a man less scrupulous than Mr. Stevens, in discriminating the provinces of different virtues, would have appeared to be, acts of charity. He considered them, however, as gifts, lest by regarding them as charities, he should either exhaust the patrimony of Pauper, or Clericus, if they continued to be each limited to one-tenth; or if either was encreased, by adding gifts to either fund, he should seem to rate himself, as being more charitable than he really was. For instance, under the title of Gifts, he entered about 5001, which he advanced to an amiable and excellent friend of mine, (and this account, that friend, to his honour, has communicated to me by a statement under his own hand) to enable him to complete his studies at the University, and which he never would allow to be considered as a debt. He was very methodical and exact in his mode of keeping his private accounts; and his habit was, at the end of each year, to abstract under the heads of Pauper, Clericus, gifts, books, pocket expences, journies, and clothes,

the amount of all his disbursements, setting against this the whole amount of his income received in the same year. These abstracts lay in so narrow a compass, that a single sheet of paper, presented in one view, a complete statement of the receipts and disbursements for several years. They were intended only for his private use and information, and were very rarely seen even by those who were most in his confidence. An intimate friend being once indulged, as a particular favour, with a sight of one of these sheets, observed, that every private expence of this extraordinary man, in the course of a whole year, was comprised within about 3001. while the aggregate of Clericus, Pauper, and Gifts, considerably exceeded 6001.; the whole income in that year amounting to about 12001. It will be required, in what way were these great charities of this most benevolent. man expended ? I answer, whatever his hand found to do, he did it with all his might: wherever a case of real distress was stated, as arising in private life, his heart and purse were open, and his services also, if necessary, were afforded. To the best of our public institutions, as enabling individuals to do the most possible good, at the least expence, he was a liberal contributor; and not only gave his money, but what was of much greater moment, he gave to them much of his valuable time. When such men, as Mr. Stevens, thus dedicate themselves to superintend the administration of public charities, it is the best security to the public, that the real objects of the respective institutions are ever kept in view, and that the funds are well administered. Indeed, the author of this work with pleasure and heart-felt satisfaction relates it, that he knows no public charity in this kingdom, where the most anxious attention is not paid to afford the particular relief intended, (whether the body or mind, or both, be the object of cure:) where that relief is not afforded

in the most ready, grateful, and pleasing shape, and where the funds are not respectively administered with all the economy, consistent with the comfort and happiness of the individuals, who are the subjects of the public benevolence. And let me here be allowed to say, that the anxious attention paid, and the valuable time employed in the superintendance of our national institutions, by the learned, the rich, the honourable, and the noble, of this country, induce us to entertain a hope, that there is much Christian piety and charity remaining in this *happy land; that there are still many righteous among us, for whose sake this country will yet be spared; and that true Christian piety and charity will never be separated from the British character, till time shall be no more. , :

The indigent clergy and their families were the particular objects of Mr. Stevens's charities, and, therefore, when in the time of Archbishop Cornwallis, he was elected the treasurer of Queen Anne's bounty, it gave him peculiar satisfaction, as it was an office, for which he was well qualified, in every respect suiting his temper and turn of mind; as it gave him the opportunity of mixing more with the clergy in general, to many of whom he had long been attached, both from principle, and the course of his studies; of frequently meeting and conversing with the bishops of the church; of enquiring into the wants and distresses of that most useful body of men, the clergy; 'of relieving them from his own purse, when the funds of the charity were not applicable to their case, and of treating them with tenderness and respect. He had twice served the office of Steward to the Feast of the Sons of the Clergy, once in 1762, Dr. Horne being the preacher 'upon that occasion; and again in 1787. To the Corporation of the Widows of the Clergy, and to the Clergy Orphan School, particularly to the latter, he had long been a liberal, nay,

[ocr errors]

a large benefactor: for that school being supposed to be in want of means to hold out relief to as many as required its aid, Mr. Stevens, for many years before his death, contributed 501. per annum, over and above his ordinary subscription. He was a member of the Corporation for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts; of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge at Home; a governor of Christ's Hospital of Bridewell and Bethlem Hospitals of the Magdalen Charity, of which, for many years, he had been one of the committee; and of a variety of other charities, which I only do not name, because the reader would be fatigued with the enumeration. The truth is, Providence had blessed his industry with great success; he was a bachelor; he had no vices nor inordinate appetites to gratify; and he was anxious upon all occasions, by the most ample relief to the poor and needy of every description, to prove himself a wise, faithful, and liberal steward of those bounties entrusted, by Heaven, to his care. I have it in a letter now lying before me from Mrs. Horne, the widow of the Bishop; and he has also said it to myself many times, that he never gave his name to a fashionable public subscription; for the fashion would make it fill : but that he kept his money for those who wanted it more, because they had nobody to bring their cause into public notice. He took occasions also to be charitable and to do good wherever he saw the occasion called for it without solicitation. Thus a clergyman, of the deepest learning, and most exalted piety, the utility of whose life to society the writer of this account is well able to appreciate, and whom he rejoices to be allowed to call his friend, having the misfortune to have a blind son, and several other children; the late Peter Waldo, Esq. (a man whom I believe to have been such another, as the subject of this Memoir, for learning, charity, and . piety,)

« PreviousContinue »