« PreviousContinue »
walk with her, and so have spoilt all. As soon as she came within sight of the wall, she spied a man sitting upon it. Her heart beat violently. She looked again ; but, alas ! the stranger not only had on a black coat, but neither hair nor eyes answered the description. She now happened to cast her eyes on the churclı-clock, and found she was two hours before her time. This was some comfort. She walked away, and got rid of the two hours, as well as she could, paying great attention as she went, not to walk over any straws which lay across, and carefully looking to see if there were never an old horse-shoe in the way, that infallible symptom of good fortune. While the clock was striking seven, she returned to the church-yard, and, Oh! the wonderful power of fortune-tellers! there she saw him ! there sat the very man ! his hair as light as flax, his eyes as blue as butter-milk, and his shoulders as round as a tub. Every tittle agreed, to the very nosegay in his waistcoat button-hole. At first, indeed, she thought it had been sweetbriar, and, glad to catch at a straw, whispered to herself, It is not he, and I shall marry Jacob still ; but on looking again, she saw it was southernwood plain enough, and that of course all was over. The man accosted her with some very nonsensical, but too acceptable, compliments. "Sally was naturally a modest girl, and, but for Rachel's wicked arts, would not have had courage to talk with a strange man: but how could she resist her fate, you know ? After a little discourse, she asked him, with a trembling heart, what might be his name? “Robert Price, at your service,” was the answer. " Robert Price! that is R. P. as sure as I am alive, and the fortune-teller was a witch ; it is all out! it is all out! O the wonderful art of fortune-tellers !” The little sleep she had that night was disturbed with dreams of
graves, and ghosts, and funerals; but as they were morning dreams, she knew those always went by contraries, and that a funeral denoted a wedding. Still a sigh would now and then heave, to think that in that wedding Jacob could have no part. Such of my readers as know the power which superstition has over the weak and credulous mind, scarcely need be told, that poor Sally's unhappiness was soon completed. She forgot all her vows to Jacob; she at once forsook an honest man whom she loved, and consented to marry a stranger, of whom she knew nothing, from a ridiculous notion that she was compelled to do so by a decree which she had it not in her power to resist. She married this Robert Price, the strange gardener, whom she soon found to be very worthless, and very much in debt. He had no such thing as “money beyond sea," as the fortune-teller had told her ; but, alas ! he had another wife there. He got immediate possession of Sally's twenty pounds. Rachel put in for her share, but he refused to give her a farthing, and bade her get away, or he would have her taken up under the Vagrant Act. He soon ran away from Sally, leaving her to bewail her own weakness; for it was that indeed, and not any irresistible fate, which had been the cause of her ruin. To complete her misery, she herself was suspected of having stolen the silver cup which Rachel had pocketed. Her master, however, would not prosecute her, as she was falling into a deep decline; and she died in a few months of a broken heart-a sad warning to all credulous girls.
Rachel, whenever she got near home, used to drop her trade of fortunetelling, and only dealt in the wares of her basket. Mr. Wilson, the
clergyman, found her one day dealing out some very wicked ballads to some children. Ile went up, with a view to give her a reprimand; but had no sooner begun his exhortation, than up came a constable, followed by several people. “ There she is ; that is she ; that is the old witch who tricked
wife out of the five guineas," said one of them. “Do your office, constable ; seize that old bag. She may tell fortunes and find pots of gold in Taunton gaol, for there she will have nothing else to do!” This was that very Farmer Jenkins, whose wife had been cheated by Rachel of the five guineas. He had taken pains to trace her to her own parish : he did not so much value the loss of the money, as he thought it was a duty he owed the public to clear the country of such vermin. Mr. Wilson immediately committed her. She took her trial at the next assizes, when she was sentenced to a year's imprisonment. In the meantime, the pawnbroker to whom she had sold the silver cup, which she had stolen from poor Sally's master, impeached her; and as the robbery was fully proved upon Rachel, she was sentenced for this crime to Botany Bay : and a happy day it was for the county of Somerset, when such a nuisance was sent out of it. She was transported much about the same time that her husband Giles lost his life in stealing the net from the garden-wall, as related in the second part of Poaching Giles.
I have thought it my duty to print this little history, as a kind warning to all you young men and maidens, not to have anything to say to cheats, impostors, cunning-women, fortune-tellers, conjurors, and interpreters of dreams. Listen to me, your true friend, when I assure you that God never reveals to weak and wicked women those secret designs of his providence which no human wisdom is able to foresec. To consult these false oracles is not only foolish but sinful. It is foolish, because they are themselves as ignorant as those whom they pretend to teach ; and it is sinful, because it is prying into that futurity, which God, in mercy as well as wisdom, hides from men. God indeed orders all things; but when you have a mind to do a foolish thing, do not fancy you are fated to do it. This is tempting Providence, and not trusting him. It is indeed charging God with folly. Prudence is his gift, and you obey him better when you make use of prudence, under the direction of prayer, than when you madly run into ruin, and think you are only submitting to your fate. Never fancy that you are compelled to undo yourself, or to rush upon your own destruction, in compliance with any supposed fatality. Never believe that God conceals his will from a sober Christian who obcys his laws, and reveals it to a vagabond gipsy, who runs up and down breaking the laws both of God and man. King Saul never consulted the witch till he had left off serving God. The Bible will direct us what to do, better than any conjuror ; and there are are no days unlucky, but those which we make so by our own vanity, sin, and folly.
BY WILL CHIP, A COUNTRY CARPENTER.
It is a privilege to be prescribed to in things about which our minds would otherwise be tost with various apprehensions. And for pleasure, I shall profess myself so far from doating on that popular idol, Liberty, that I hardly think it possible for any kind of obedience to be more painful than an unrestrained liberty. Were there not true bounds, of magistrates, of laws, of piety, of reason in the heart, every man would have a fool, nay, a mad tyrant, to his master, that would multiply him more sorrows than the briars and thorns did to Adam, when he was freed from the bliss at once, and the restraint, of paradise, and became a greater slave in the wilderness than in the inclosure.—Dr. Hammond's Sernions.
A DIALOGUE BETWEEN JACK ANVIL, THE BLACKSMITH
AND TOM HOD, THE MASON.
Tom. No, no, work's plenty enough, if a man had but the heart to go to it.
Jack. What book art reading ? Why dost look so like a hang-dog ?
Tom (looking on his book). Cause enough. Why, I find here that I am very unhappy, and very miserable ; which I should never have known, if I had not had the good luck to meet with this book. Oh ! 'tis a precious book !
Jack. A good sign, tho’—that you can't find out you're unhappy, without looking into a book for it! What is the matter?
Tom. Matter? Why, I want liberty,
Jack. Liberty! That's bad, indeed ! What! has any one fetched a warrant for thee? Come, man, cheer up, I'll be bound for thee. Thou art an honest fellow in the main, tho' thou dost tipple and prate a little too much at the Rose and Crown.
Tom. No, no, I want a new constitution. Jack. Indeed! Why I thought thou hadst been a desperate healthy fellow. Send for the doctor directly.
Tom. I'm not sick; I want liberty and equality, and the rights of man.
Jack. Oh, now I understand thee. What; thou art a leveller and a republican, I warrant ?
Tom. I'm a friend of the people. I want a reform.
Tom. Pooh ! I want freedom and happiness, the same as they have got in France.
Jack. What, Tom, we imitate them! We follow the French! Why, they only began all this mischief at first, in order to be just what roe are already ; and what a blessed land must this be, to be in actual possession of all they ever hoped to gain by all their hurly-burly. Imitate them,
indeed! Why, I'd sooner go to the Negroes to get learning, or to the Turks to get religion, than to the French for freedom and happiness.
Tom. What do you mean by that ? ar’n't the French free?
Jack. Free, Tom! ay, free with a witness. They are all so free, that there's nobody safe. They make free to rob whom they will, and kill whom they will. If they don't like a man's looks, they make free to hang him without judge or jury, and the next lamp-post serves for the gallows; so then they call themselves free, because you see they have no law left to condemn them, and no king to take them up and hang them for it.
Tom. Ah, but, Jack, didn't their king formerly hang people for nothing, too ? and besides, were not they all papists before the Revolution ?
Jack. Why, true enough, they had but a poor sort of religion ; but bad is better than none, Tom. And so was the government bad enough too ; for they could clap an innocent man into prison, and keep him there too, as long as they would, and never say, with your leave, or by your leave, gentlemen of the jury. But what's all that to us?
Tom. To us! Why, don't our governors put many of our poor folks in prison against their will? What are all the jails for? Down with the jails, I say ! all men should be free.
Jack. Harkee, Tom, a few rogues in prison keep the rest in order, and then honest men go about their business in safety, afraid of nobody; that's the way to be free. And let me tell thee, Tom, thou and I are tried by our peers as much as a lord is. Why, the king can't send me to prison, if I do no harm; and if I do there's reason good why I should go there. I may go to law with Sir John at the great castle yonder ; and he no more dares lift his little finger against me than if I were his equal. A lord is hanged for hanging matter, as thou or I should be; and if it be any comfort to thee, I myself remember a peer of the realm being hanged for killing his man, just the same as the man would have been for killing him."
Tom. A lord ! Well, that is some comfort, to be sure. But have you read the Rights of Man?
Jack. No, not I; I had rather by half read “The Whole Duty of Man." I have but little time for reading, and such as I should therefore only read a bit of the best.
Tom. Don't tell me of those old-fashioned notions. Why should not we have the same fine things they have got in France ? I'm for a constitution—and organization-and equalization—and fraternization.
Jack. Do be quiet. Now, Tom, only suppose this nonsensical equality was to take place ; why, it would not last while
Jack Robinson ; or suppose it could — suppose, in the general division, our new rulers were to give us half an acre of ground a-piece ; we could, to be sure, raise potatoes on it for the use of our families ; but as every other man would be equally busy in raising potatoes for his family, why then, you see, if thou wast to break thy spade, I, whose trade it is, should no longer be able to mend it. Neighbour Snip would have no time to make us a suit of clothes, nor the clothier to weave the cloth; for all the world would be gone a digging. And as to boots and shoes, the want of some one to make them for us, would be a still greater grievance than the tax on leather.
* Lord Ferrers, hanged in 1760, for killing his stoward.
If we should be sick, there would be no doctor's stuff for us ; for doctor would be digging too. And if necessity did not compel, and if no inequality subsisted, we could not get a chimney swept, or a load of coal from pit, for love or money.
Tom. But still I should have no one over my head. Jack. That's a mistake : I'm stronger than thou; and Standish, the exciseman, is a better scholar; so that we should not remain equal a minute. I should out-fight thee, and he'd out-wit thee. And if such a sturdy fellow as I am, was to come and break down thy hedge for a little firing, or take away the crop from thy ground, I'm not so sure that these new-fangled laws would see thee righted. I tell thee, Tom, we have a fine constitution already, and our forefathers thought so.
Tom. They were a pack of fools, and had never read the Rights of Man.
Jack. I'll tell thee a story. When sir John married, my lady, who is a little fantastical, and likes to do everything like the French, begged him to pull down yonder fine old castle, and build it up in her frippery way. No, says sir John, what! shall I pull down this noble building, raised by the wisdom of my brave ancestors; which outstood the civil wars, and only underwent a little needful repair at the Revolution ; a castle which all my neighbours come to take a pattern by—shall I pull it all down, I say, only because there may be a dark closet, or an awkward passage, or an inconvenient room or two in it ? Our ancestors took time for what they did. They understood foundation work; no running up your little slight lath-and-plaster buildings, which are up in a day, and down in a night. My lady mumpt and grumbled ; but the castle was let stand, and a glorious building it is; tho' there may be a trifling fault or two, and tho' a few decays want stopping ; so now and then they mend a little thing, and they'll go on mending, I dare say, as they have leisure, to the end of the chapter, if they are let alone. But no pull-me-down works. What is it you are crying out for, Tom ?
Tom. Why, for a perfect government?
Jack. You might as well cry for the moon. There's nothing perfect in this world, take my word for it: tho' sir John says, we come nearer to it than any country in the world ever did.
Tom. I don't see why we are to work like slaves, while others roll about in their coaches, feed on the fat of the land, and do nothing.
Jack. My little maid brought home a little story-book from the charityschool t'other day, in which was a bit of a fable about the belly and the limbs. The hands said, I won't work any longer to feed this lazy belly, who sits in state like a lord, and does nothing. Said the feet, I won't walk and tire myself to carry him about, let him shift for himself; so said all the members; just as your levellers and republicans do now. And what was the consequence? Why, the belly was pinched, to be sure, and grew thin upon it; but the hands and the feet, and the rest of the members, suffered so much for want of their old nourishment, which the belly had been all the time administering, while they accused him of sitting in idle state, that they all fell sick, pined away, and would have died, if they had not come to their senses just in time to save their lives, as I hope all you will do.
Tom. But the times- but the taxes ! Jack.