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no future reckoning. Oh, sir! there is a hell, dreadful, inconceivable, eternal!" Here, through the excess of anguish, the poor fellow fainted away. Mr. Fantom, who did not at all relish this scene, said to his friend, "Well, sir, we will go, if you please, for you see there is nothing to be done."
"Sir," replied Mr. Trueman, mournfully, "you may go if you please, but I shall stay, for I see there is a great deal to be done."—"What!" rejoined the other, "do you think it possible his life can be saved?"—"No, indeed," said Trueman; "but I hope it is possible his soul may be saved."— "I do not understand these things," said Fantom, making toward the door.—" Nor I neither," said Trueman; "but, as a fellow-sinner, I am bound to do what I can for this poor man. Do you go home, Mr. Fantom, and finish your Treatise on Universal Benevolence, and the Blessed Effects of Philosophy; and, hark ye, be sure you let the frontispiece of your book represent William on the gibbet: that will be what our minister calls a practical illustration. You know I hate theories: this is realizing; this is philosophy made easy to the meanest capacity. This is the precious fruit which grows on that darling tree; so many slips of which have been transplanted from that land of liberty, of which it is the native, but which, with all your digging, planting, watering, dunging, and dressing, will, I trust, never thrive in this Messed land of ours."
Mr. Fantom sneaked off, to finish his work at home; and Mr. Trueman staid to finish his in the prison. He passed the night with the wretched convict; he prayed with him and for him, and read to him the penitential psalms, and some portions of the Gospel. But he was too humble and too prudent a man to venture out of his depth by arguments and consolations which he was not warranted to use: this he left for the clergyman; but he pressed on William the great duty of making the only amends now in his power, to those whom he had led astray. They then drew up the following paper, which Mr. Trueman got printed, and gave away, at the place of execution :—
TJie last Words, Confession, and Dying Speech of William Wilson, who was executed at Chelmsford, for Murder.
'I was bred up in the fear of God, and lived with credit in many sober families, in which I was a faithful servant; but, being tempted by a little higher wages, I left a good place to go and live with Mr. Fantom, who, however, made good none of his fine promises, but proved a hard master— full of fine words and charitable speeches in favor of the poor; but apt to oppress, overwork, and underpay them. In his service I was not allowed time to go to church. This troubled me at first, till I overheard my master say, that going to church was a superstitious prejudice, and only meant for the vulgar. Upon this I resolved to go no more; for I thought there could not be two religions, one for the master, and one for the servant. Finding my master never prayed, I, too, left off praying: this gave Satan great power over me, so that I from that time fell into almost every sin. I was very uneasy at first, and my conscience gave me no rest; but I was soon reconciled by overhearing my master and another gentleman say, that death was only an eternal sleep, and hell and judgment were but an invention of priests, to keep the poor in order. I mention this as a warning to all masters and mistresses, to take care what they converse about while servants are waiting at table. They cannot tell how many souls they have sent to perdition by such loose talk. The crime for which I die is the natural consequence of the principles I learnt of my master. A rich man, indeed, who throws off religion, may escape the gallows, because want does not drive him to commit those crimes which lead to it; but what shall restrain a needy man, who has been taught that there is no dreadful reckoning? Honesty is but a dream, without the awful sanctions of heaven and hell. Virtue is but a shadow, if it be stripped of the terrors and the promises of the gospel. Morality is but an empty name, if it be destitute of the principle and power of Christianity. Oh, my dear fellow-servants! take warning by my sad fate : never be tempted away from a sober service for the sake of a little more wages; never venture your immortal souls in houses where God is not feared. And now hear me, O my God, though I have blasphemed thee! forgive me, O my Savior, though I have denied thee! O Lord most holy, O God most mighty, deliver me from the bitter pains of eternal death, and receive my soul, for His sake who died for sinners.
Mr. Trueman would never leave this poor penitent till he was launched into eternity, but attended him with the minister in the cart. This pious clergyman never cared to say what he thought of William's state. When Mr. Trueman ventured to mention his hope, that though his penitence was late, yet it was sincere, and spoke of the dying thief on the cross as a ground of encouragement, the minister, with a very serious look, made this answer:—" Sir, that instance is too often brought forward on occasions to which it does not apply: I do not choose to say any thing to your application of it in the present case, but I will answer you in the words of a good man speaking of the penitent thief: 'There is one such instance given, that nobody might despair; and there is but one, that nobody might presume.'"
Poor William was turned off just a quarter before eleven; and may the Lord have had mercy on his soul!
TWO WEALTHY FARMERS;
HISTORY OF MR. BRAGWELL.
IN SEVEN PARTS.
Mr. Bragwell and Mr. Worthy happened to meet last year at Weyhill-fair. They were glad to see each other, as they had but seldom met of late; Mr. Bragwell having removed some years before from Mr. Worthy's neighborhood, to a distant village, where he had bought an estate.
Mr. Bragwell was a substantial farmer and grazier. He had risen in the world by what worldly men call a run of good fortune. He had also been a man of great industry; that is, he had paid a diligent and constant attention to his own interest. He understood business, and had a knack of turning almost every thing to his own advantage. He had that sort of sense which good men call cunning, and knaves call wisdom. He was too prudent ever to do any thing so wrong that the law could take hold of him; yet he was not over scrupulous about the morality of an action, when the prospect of enriching himself by it was very great, and the chance of hurting his character was small. The corn he sent home to his customers was not always quite so good as the samples he had produced at market: and he now and then forgot to name some capital blemish in the horses he sold at the fair. He scorned to be guilty of the petty frauds of cheating in weights and measures, for he thought that was a beggarly sin; but he valued himself on his skill in making a bargain, and fancied it showed his superior knowledge of the world, to take advantage of the ignorance of a dealer.
It was his constant rule to undervalue every thing he was about to buy, and to overvalue every thing he was about to sell; but as he seldom lost sight of his discretion, he avoided every thing that was very shameful; so that he was considered merely as a hard dealer, and a keen hand at a bargain. Now and then, when he had been caught in pushing his own advantage too far, he contrived to get out of the scrape by turning the whole into a jest, saying it was a good take in, a rare joke, and that he had only a mind to divert himself with the folly of his neighbor, who could be so easily imposed on.
Mr. Bragwell, however, in his way, set a high value on character; not, indeed, that he had a right sense of its worth; he did not consider reputation as desirable because it increases influence, and for that reason strengthens the hands of a good man, and enlarges his sphere of usefulness; but he made the advantage of reputation, as well as of every other good, centre in himself. Had he observed a strict attention to principle, he feared he should not have got on so fast in the world as those do who consult expediency rather than probity; while, without a certain degree of character, he knew also, that he should forfeit that confidence which put other men in his power, and would set them as much on their guard against him, as he, who thought all mankind pretty much alike, was on his guard against them.
Mr. Bragwell had one favorite maxim; namely, that * man's success in life was a sure proof of his wisdom; ard that all failure and misfortune was the consequence of a rasa's own folly. As this opinion was first taken up by him torn vanity and ignorance, so it was more and more confirnvd by his own prosperity. He saw that he himself had succeeded greatly without either money or education to begft with; and he therefore now despised every man, however excellent his character or talents might be, who had not the^arae success in life. His natural disposition was not particularly bad, but prosperity had hardened his heart. He rr*de his own progress in life the rule by which the conduc- of al' other men was to be judged, without any allowanc-- for their peculiar disadvantages, or the visitations of providence. He thought, for his part, that every man of sense could command success on his undertakings, and contrcV and dispose the events of his own life.
But though he considered those who Aad ha* less success than himself as no better than fools, yst he tid not extend this opinion to Mr. Worthy, whom he looked upon not only as a good but a wise man. They bad bee> bred up when children in the same house; but with th« difference, that
TOL. I. 2