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Court, they had by long usage assumed to themselves certain local and self-constituted privileges and exemptions, which rendered it unapproachable by any officers or emissaries of the civil power, who were universally denounced as mad-dogs, and subjected to be treated as such, and even put to death with as little ceremony or remorse. I speak of what actually occurred within my own immediate knowledge, whilst I resided with my father, in more instances than one, and those instances would be shocking to relate. To stem these daring outrages, and to stand in opposition to these barbarous customs, was an undertaking, that demanded both philanthropy and courage, and my father of course was the very man to attempt it. Justice and generosity were the instruments he employed, and I saw the work of reformation so auspiciously begun, and so steadily pursued by him, as convinced me that minds the most degenerate may be to a degree reclaimed by actions, that come home to their feelings, and are evidently directed to the sole purposes of amending their manners, and improving their condition. To suppose they were a race of beings stupidly vicious, devoid of sensibility, and delivered over by their natural inertness to barbarism and ignorance, would be the very falsest character that could be conceived of them; it is on the contrary to the quickness of their apprehensive faculties, to the precipitancy and unrestrained vivacity of their talents and passions, that we must look for the causes, and in some degree for the excuse of their excesses : together with their ferocious propensities there are blended and compounded humours so truly comic, eccentricities so peculiar, and attachments and affections at times so inconceivably ardent, that it is not possible to contemplate them in their natural characters without being diverted by extravagancies, which we cannot seriously approve, and captivated by professions, which we cannot implicitly give credit to.
The bishop held a considerable parcel of land, arable and grazing, in his hands, or more properly speaking in the phrase of the country, a large demesne, with a numerous tribe of labourers, gardeners, turf-cutters, herdsmen and handicraft-men of various denominations. His first object, and that not an easy one to attain, was to induce them to pursue the same
methods of husbandry as were practised in England, and to observe the same neat and cleanly course of cultivation.
This was a great point gained ; they began it with unwillingness, and watched it with suspicion : their idle neighbours, who were without employ, ridi.. culed the work, and predicted that their hay stacks would take fire, and their corn be rendered unfit for use ; but in the further course of time, when they experienced the advantages of this process, and witnessed the striking contrast of these productive lands, compared with the slovenly grounds around them, they began to acknowledge their own errors, and to reform them. With these operations the improvements of their own habitations were contrived to keep pace: their cabins soon wore a more comfortable and decent appearance; they furnished them with chimnies, and emerged out of the smoke, in which they had buried and suffocated their families and themselves. When these old habits were corrected within doors, on the outside of every one of them there was to be seen a stack of hay, made in the English fashion, thatched and secured from the weather, and a lot of potatoes, care
fully planted and kept clean, which, with a suitable proportion of turf, secured the year's provision both for man and beast. When these comforts were placed in their view, they were easily led to turn their attention to the better appearance of their persons, and this reform was not a little furthered by the premium of a Sunday's dinner to all, who should present themselves in clean linen and with well-combed hair, without the customary addition of a scare-crow wig, so that the swarthy Milesian no longer appeared with a yellow wig upon his coal-black hair, nor the yellow Dane with a coal-black wig upon his long red locks: the old barbarous custom also of working in a great coat loosely thrown over the shoulders, with the sleeves dangling by the sides, was now dismissed, and the bishop's labourers turned into the field, stript to their shirts, proud to shew themselves in whole linen, so that in them vanity operated as a virtue, and piqued them to excel in industry as much as they did in appearance. As for me,
As for me, I was so delighted with contemplating a kind of new creation, of which my father was the author, that I devoted the greatest portion of my time to his works, and had full powers to prosecute his good intentions to whatever extent I might find opportunities for carrying them. This commission was to me most gratifying, nor have any hours in my past life been more truly satisfactory, than those in which I was thus occupied as the administrator of his unbounded benevolence to his dependant fellow creatures. My father, being one of the governors of the Linen Board, availed himself also of the opportunity for introducing a branch of that valuable manufacture into his neighbourhood, and a great number of spinning-wheels were distributed, and much good linen made in consequence of that measure. The superintendance of this improving manufacture furnished an interesting occupation to my mother's active mind, and it flourished under her care.
In the month of October my father removed his family to Dublin, and from thence I returned to resume my official duty at the Board of Trade. In the course of this winter I brought out my first comedy, entitled The Brothers, at Covent Garden theatre, then under the direction of Mr. Harris and his associates, joint proprietors with him.' I had