[This is the heavily cut and expurgated text of the 1832publication of Thomas Gent's autobiography. Clickhere for the fulloriginal text.]
THE name of GENT is well known to the collectors of Englishtopography, and of typographical curiosities, as that of a printerwho sometimes employed his press upon productions of his own; andwho, in his character of author, produced numerous volumes, which arefar from being destitute of merit. To the collectors of portraits, heis known by a fine mezzotinto print, after a painting by NATHANDRAKE.
Even the close inquirers into the history of the county in whichhe resided, and on which his topographical labours were directed,could collect little concerning his life, except what might belearned from his publications; when, lo! a manuscript appears in thehands of Mr. THORPE the bookseller, in Bedford street, Covent garden,in the handwriting of the author, and entitled by him, "Of the Lifeof THOMAS GENT, Printer." It was written in 1746, when he was in hisfifty-third year. This manuscript was discovered by Mr. Thorpe, in acollection from Ireland, the country of which GENT was a native, andwhere he had relations, into whose hands the work may be supposed tohave fallen on the death of its author.
Besides being a very minute account of a man about whom somecuriosity may reasonably be supposed to exist, the narrative containsa few notices of other persons more the object of public interestthan our author, and also of the manners and transactions of histime. Those who feel no curiosity about GENT, may peruse it as theshort and simple annals of a life in which we perceive good conductfinding its appropriate reward; and at the same time, an instance ofthe inconstancy of the world, in the falling fortunes of one in whomthese qualities were still to be found. Those who are familiar withhis published writings, and have formed from them an idea of thepeculiar constitution of his mind, will perceive. that this narrativeis throughout quite characteristical.
Three of the large and closely written folio leaves are lost, thefirst, the third, and the ninth. The first leaf must, doubtless, havecontained an account of his parents, who were residents of Dublin; ofhis education in that city; and of his being placed with a printerthere, to learn the business. We find him, when the narrative opensupon us, forming, on a sudden, the resolution of abandoning hismaster, his family, and his country; and he sets sail for Liverpoolwithout money, and without a rational prospect of gaining any.
HE worst was in leaving my dear parents, but that I hoped would intime be atoned for; in short, I told Arnold that I would accompanyhim: he promised to meet me on Aston's Quay, wherein he failed.However, as Captain Wharton was going to sail, I took some smallprovision, got a shilling of my dear mother, gave a farewell kiss toher and my loving father, (without any word or token of what I had inagitation,) and bought two or three penny loaves out of my stock,which, I think, was about seventeen pence, only that my habit wastolerable, having taken my best suit. And so, on the 9th of August,1710, as we entered the mouth of the bay, a great storm ensued, whichobliged the sailors to cast anchor.
I had crept into the hold, where I lay very sick, by which means Iwas secure from the searches of my indulgent father, one Mr. CharlesHarris, a tidewaiter, and my master aforesaid. On the third day frommy being on board, the wind and weather permitting, we set forward,and the day following came opposite to the shore, on the eminence ofwhich is a place called Park Gate; here, knowing my poor stock wouldnot half amount to the payment of my passage, I offered my waistcoatas a recompense to the master, who, I was previously told, wouldorder me to be severely striped for presuming to enter the shipwithout money. But, indeed, contrary to what was thought, he let twoor three others pass free: when I came to make my offering, "Prettylad," said he, "and is it so poor with you? Why, if I should stripyou of your raiment, you might happen to be starved to death, which Iknow not but might be left at my door; but, child, had my sailorstold me you were hid in the ship, upon my word you should have beendelivered to your friends when they searched for you. What will yourtender parents say, when they come to hear that you are in a strangeland, without support? for my own part, I grieve for your condition.Here, young man, take this sixpence with you, endeavour to getemployment, and take to good ways; for I have children of my own andthat makes me pity you the more, seeing you are but young, and as yetso helpless a creature, for want of friends to assist you, and adviseyou for the best." Such kind expressions coming, as I thought atfirst, from a rough sailor, drew flowing tears from the full sluicesof mine eyes; and while I thanked him the more, with promise if everI met him knowingly, and was of ability, I should more thanrecompense him for his timely generosity, it melted him also, that hecould speak but little more than bidding God bless me, who was ablechiefly to support me, as he had wonderfully many other faithfultravelling adventurers. He ordered one of the sailors to help me intothe boat, as being myself very weak, through the violent tossing ofthe waves; so then, when I landed, the world seemed to turn round,through the giddiness that possessed my poor brains, and really hadalmost deprived me of any thought. I had like to have fallenbackwards into the water, but was kindly supported by some in thecompany, till a walk or two occasioned a due circulation, andrestored me to my faculties.
And now, setting forwards towards Chester, in company with a jollyfat Englishwoman, and an anchorsmith, whom she seemed particularlyfond of, also an Irishwoman, and her seeming husband, we arrived atthat famous city in about three or four hours' time. I was agreeablypleased with the piazzas, under which it is pleasant to walk dry inrainy weather; the noble walls, from whence you have an agreeableprospect; the towers; spacious buildings; and the celebrated riverDee, where the famous king Edgar was rowed by eight tributarykings.
But then no printing press, as I could hear of, was set up inthose parts; neither could my fellow-travellers find anyencouragement in their way: thus, like distressed strangers, we wereall obliged to push forward for London. At first, my companionscalled me Mr. Tommy, by way of eminence; but when they found thetitle did not agree with my empty pockets, they imposed some of theirheavy burdens on my wearied shoulders. This was not very pleasing tomy spirit: but their company was more detestable, when one of the menknocked down a goose that was swimming in a sort of lake near theroad, and both them and their hussies obliged me to wade deep in thewater before I could get it out. This gave me a terrible notion howunfortunate those unhappy people were who fall into bad company; inwhat a sad dilemma they are oftentimes engaged; and, without God'sdelivering providence, might be brought to suffer the very rigor ofjustice, for the vile enormities of other sinful wretches. But these,my now crooked friends, got no good by their hungry theft, for,getting it boiled at a place they thought convenient, it was almostas tough as parchment itself.
Well, we journeyed still further and further, till we lit of acompany of soldiers, travelling on foot, in order to embark forSpain. They had a serjeant with them, and an officer, who wasmounted. They attacked my fellow-travellers, the two men, to take onwith them; this made me like company the worse: so, delivering mybundle, I endeavoured to make off from them all; but Serjeant Kite,and the thin-jawed officer, from his lean Rosinante, ordered one oftheir young fellows nimbly to overtake me, and persuade me backagain, to sup with them that night; but the honest youth, who hadbeen entrapped himself, seeing me very weary, and, after somediscourse, pitying my condition, laid open to me a scene of theirhonesty, if I might give it so good a name. "The officer," said he,"will ride up to you, as I depart on one side; you may seem to agreewith what he says, by bidding you live, as his men do, along withthem; but rise up early next morning, and make the best of your wayfrom us." What he spake was really truth, and I acted accordingly;however, the officer overtook me next day, towards evening: "Iperceive, young man," said he, "you did not like us, by giving us theslip; but you had as well be with us as shun us, for at London youwill be pressed, in spite of your teeth, and meet with far moreuncourteous usage." "Perhaps, sir," said I, "it may be so; but I prayyou, at present, permit me to be of another mind to believe what yousay, because I think I was never designed to be a warrior, but ratherone who, by profession, should rather exhibit their glorious actionsto future ages." "You'll be forced to it," said he, "whether you willor no;" and so rode from me in a huff, which plainly proved what theyoung soldier had told me, whose warning I honourably kept within mybreast, in perfect gratitude, lest he should in anywise suffer forhis goodness to me.
When I reached the ancient town of St. Alban's, so called from thefamous protomartyr of England, I took up my lodgings in the firststreet, at the sign of St. Catherine's Wheel. The good landlordobserving me very lame and tired, asked me what I would have got forsupper; but I honestly told him I had but twopence in the world,which I should pay him for my lodging, that I must fast, and drinknothing but water, till I got to London; but what was a greatertrouble, there were soldiers on the road, who thought to ensnare me,and from whom I had travelled prodigiously hard, to escape theirintended destruction. This open plainness touched so much the heartsof the good man and his wife, that they gave me something to eat,which I was unwilling to receive, and for some time--
[Here is, unfortunately, a chasm in the manuscript. When thenarrative proceeds, we find him in the employ of Mr. Midwinter, andhaving recently made acquaintance with a Dublin schoolfellow, a sonof Sir Richard Levintz. JH]
--When we walked out, I declared the naked truth in everycircumstance. He told me his father, Sir Richard Levintz, who was ajudge in Ireland, had sent him thither to be educated in St. Paul'sschool, where he had been for some time; but of late was ordered totravel into the eastern countries; that he was soon to go on board;and that he was provided with several suits of apparel for thatpurpose. He did not know, he said, as he was going up theMediterranean, but he might see Jerusalem before he returned; thathis ambition was to behold many parts of Asia, if he could; to visitConstantinople, Greece, and Rome, and every noted place. But howfortune would favor him in that respect, he could not tell "however,Tommy," said he, "while I stay in London, I will enjoy your companynow and then, and tomorrow I will come and beg an holyday for you."Accordingly, next day, he came to our house, and besought one for mefrom Madam Midwinter: he was tall, exceedingly beautiful, and had afine address. So much was she attracted with the youth, that she sooncalled me from work, and bid me dress myself to go along with him.Never was a friend more endearing; "Tommy," said he, "whilst we werelads at school, you often obliged me at marbles, at which, Iremember, you was a great bulker; also with tops, flying kites, andother sports, for which you was the most excellent in St. Mary'sparish. Now let us walk out to the fields, towards Islington,Newington, Pancridge, or any other towns, and once more talk of ourjuvenile actions." Accordingly we did so, and in many pleasantarbours he treated me with wine, cider, ale, and cakes, and indeedwhatever I had a mind to. At night, returning, I parted with him athis lodging, near Christ's Hospital; but he had me abroad with himonce or twice more, till he began to enter upon his travels; andthough I often inquired of him, by my friends, to whom I repeated hisgoodness to me, I never had the good fortune to see him after.
But so honourable an acquaintance had this good effect, that Mrs.Midwinter, thinking me none of the very commonest sort of my countryfolks, she began to have a greater respect to me than usual, though(as her circumstances then were not so great as might be wished,) itabated nothing of my hard labour, working many times from five in themorning till twelve at night, and frequently without food frombreakfast time till five or six in the evening, through our hurrywith hawkers. My fellow servants would often give me great uneasinessthrough their authentic nonsense, and unreasonable contempt, whichobliged me, now and then, to have some skirmishes for my quietude, inwhich, I have heartily thanked Providence that I was enabled, thoughwith strong reluctancy, to bring them at last into good manners.
When I was about twenty years old, I think I had been seven yearsat the business, from my first apprenticeship in Ireland, when mymaster, Midwinter, exhibited a glorious spirit of generosity: hecalled me one night to sup with him; his daughter-in-law, BettyWalters, told me there was a fowl prepared for me. It was not longbefore that I was severely beaten for sending him a letter toIslington, complaining I was in a poor philosopher's condition, forwant of a pair of breeches; and though, upon my writing Dr.Sacheverel's sermon after his suspension, for which I waited frommorning till evening to hear him, he had given me what I wanted, anda crownpiece beside, because he took near £30 that week by it;yet still, as he had taken it as a great affront, I imaginedresentment continued in his breast towards me. "No, indeed, Mr.Gent," said Betty, (and that was the first time she gave me the titleof Mr.,) "my father has quite contrary apprehensions, for he respectsyou, and I am sure you will find it so." However, I could not helptrembling, thinking myself undone if he proved now unkind to me; butentering the room, "Take a chair, Mr. Gent," both master and mistresskindly said. They cut me victuals, which, God knows, in reverence tothem, I could hardly taste, and the cup shook in my hand as I pledgedtheir healths, which my master pitying, smiling, said, "I believe,Mr. Gent, I know your thoughts; because I have treated you as aservant, perhaps now and then with correction, only to make youbetter, you may think I shall carry myself with ill-nature to you forthe future. No, my lad, I scorn it; and so does your good mistress,too, whatever you may judge of us both; and, as I am sensible youhave been full seven years at the business, you may, from this night,work with whom you please, under my protection; as yet, I believe,you are utterly unprovided, therefore, I desire you would neitherwant board nor lodging, such as you have had already, whilst I have ahouse to come to. So you see I do not prefer my interest to yourgood; and though you came an almost stranger to me, God forbid that Ishould send you as such abroad; at this time, as I am not so full ofbusiness but what our hands can do, you may make use of thisopportunity by improving more with others: so that take a good heart,be diligent if you are employed, and patient if you are not; andnever fear but every thing will answer for your good at last, as sofar it has done already." And so they both drunk my health, and bidme be cheerful.
It cannot be imagined what great satisfaction these words of mymaster gave me. I desired both of them not to think I should nowthink hard of any usage I might have received by correction, often, Ibelieved, through misrepresentation of others; but if not, I ownedthat youth must either be under discipline, or entirely lost; that Ihad rather cause to rejoice they had been my defenders, and now werebecome a greater blessing than even my natural parents; but, atpresent, I could do no more than return my most humble thanks, forwhose prosperity I should pray as long as life continued to make mesensible of so incumbent a duty.
Upon their asking me what money I had, I told them, my poor stockamounted to no more than a tester; that indeed I had a shilling, butsixpence of it went to pay for a letter that my dear mother happilysent me, wherein, considering my condition, she had ordered me fortyshillings and half a dozen shirts, to be received of Mr. Gurnell,merchant, in Throgmorton street. This was great comfort in soparticular a time.
So the next day I went to wait on him, but he was neither at home,nor on the Exchange; I took a walk into Moorfields, and looking overthe booksellers' stalls, I spied Ayre's Arithmetic, which buying, Iparted with my last sixpence, thinking it would not be long before Ihad a fresh recruit. I went back again, but not finding my merchant,I was obliged to dine with Duke Humphrey: that I might not returnempty, I had patience to fast till about four o'clock, and then itwas, with great joy, that I found him in his habitation. The good mandelivered me what was ordered, with a pious exhortation how to behavemyself in the world; that I should carefully endeavour to shun thepaths of wickedness, and strive to live such a pious life, as mightnot only be conducive to my health and reputation, but be the onlymeans, after death, to obtain a state of felicity which is eternal inthe heavens above. I found, by his modest habit, that he was a sortof Quaker, and returned him thanks for his care and advice, as herichly deserved. However my craving stomach was pained for want oftemporal food, I so well digested this heavenly sustenance that mytender nature could not refrain from tears; and so, humbly takingleave, I went directly to seek a place of business, when luckily, Ihappened to engage with Mrs. Bradford, a quaker, and widow, in Fetterlane, who ordered me to come the next morning. With great spirit andelasticity I flew, as it were, homewards, to the great satisfactionof my kind master and mistress, who asked me, why I did not come todinner? if I was not almost starved? or if I lit of the merchant, anddined with him? I told them the whole truth; and, going to work thenext day, I continued so briskly, that by Saturday night I had earnednear seventeen shillings: so that, having near three pounds in bank,and a new suit of clothes, of about three pounds price, which Mr.Midwinter had given me, exclusive of my other apparel, I thought thatI might do pretty well in the world; in order to which, I furnishedmyself with a new composing iron, called a stick, because ancientlythat useful material was made of wood; a pair of scissors, to cutscaleboards; a sharp bodkin, to correct the letter; and a prettysliding box, to contain them, and preserve all from rustiness; Ibought also a galley, for the pages I was to compose, with otherappurtenances that might be of service to me when occasion shouldrequire.
But as inconsiderate youth is, too soon, over fond of novelty,being invited to another place, under Mr. Mears, in Blackfriars, Ivery indiscreetly parted with my mistress, which entirely lost me thefavour of that knowing gentlewoman. On my entrance amongst a numberof men, besides paying what is called Benmoney, I found, soon after,I was, as it were, to be dubbed as great a cuz as the famous DonQuixote seemed to be when he thought himself a knight, and that theinnkeeper was lord of the castle, in the yard of which he judged thatthe honour was conferred: though the insipid folly thereof, agreeablyto their strange harangues in praise of the protecting charms ofcuzship, which, like the power of Don Waltho Claterbank's infalliblemedicines, would heal all evils, whether curable or not, was not veryagreeable to my hearing; yet, when the master himself insisted itmust be done, I was obliged to submit to that immemorial custom, theorigin of which they could not then explain to me. It commenced bywalking round the chapel, (printing rooms being called such, becausefirst begun to be practised in one at Westminster Abbey;) singing analphabetical anthem, tuned literally to the vowels; striking me,kneeling, with a broadsword; and pouring ale upon my head: my titleswere exhibited much to this effect, "Thomas Gent, baron of CollegeGreen, earl of Fingall, with power to the limits of Dublin bar,captain general of the Teagues, near the Lake of Allen, and lord highadmiral over all the bogs in Ireland." To confirm which, and that Imight not pay over again for the same ceremony, throughforgetfulness, they allowed me godfathers, the first I ever hadbefore, because the Presbyterian minister, at my christening, allowednone at his office; and these, my new pious fathers, were theunreverend Mr. Holt and Mr. Palmer. Nay, there were witnesses also,such as Mr. Fleming, Mr. Gibbins, and Mr. Cocket, stanch journeymenprinters. But after all this work, I began to see the vanity of humangrandeur; for, as I was not yet a freeman, I was discharged as aforeigner in about a fortnight or three weeks' time. This was like ajavelin to my soul, especially when I thought how vainly I had leftMrs. Bradford, in whose house I had lived without envy or danger; Iimagined myself in a worse state than the prodigal, and judged that Iwas highly guilty of incivility, if not ingratitude. But though Ibelieved my capacity for her business might induce her to accept meonce more, yet, fearing her just contempt, I durst not adventureagain to offer my service; therefore I sought for a new place, andinstead of one, got several; in short, I obtained smouting-work, thatis, labouring here and there without settlement, which affording atolerable subsistence, made me endeavour to prove an excellentsmouter, a more profitable title than that of a cuz, I assure you.And now I thought I had as little occasion to value Mears as he hadset by me in discharging me as he did; I was so full of resentment,that when I met the proud fellow, (as I could call him no other, byhis usage,) that I did not shew the least respect, but scorn, andwould never work for him after.
Some months past, when Mr. Midwinter had a letter from Mr. White,at York, that they wanted a young man at the business; and my answerbeing thought too pert or unsatisfactory to the proposal made me, Iwas rejected for a season; but one Isaac, a hawker, happening totravel in the country, went to that city, and being asked questions,if he knew Mr. Midwinter; or me, gave such a character of me, asturned the scales in my favor. Another letter came from Mrs. White,that I might, if I thought fit, have allowed me eighteen pounds ayear, besides board, washing, and lodging. Mr. Midwinter consented Ishould go, since London was to me uncertain, and would be, till thetime should come when I might have the same freedom as others; andindeed, though unwilling to leave so magnificent a city, I thought myconsent became necessary. A guinea was allowed to bear my charges,twenty shillings of which I offered to Crofts, the carrier, a verysurly young fellow as ever I conversed with, but he would have fiveor six shillings more; finding him so stiff with me, I was resolvedto venture on foot. He set out with his horses on Monday, which Iemployed in taking leave of my friends, and particularly, thatevening, of Mr. and Mrs. Midwinter.
The next morning, being Tuesday, the 20th of April, 1714, I setforward, and had not, I think, walked three miles, when a gentleman'sservant, with a horse ready saddled, and himself riding on another,overtook me, and, for a shilling, with a glass or so on the road,allowed me to ride with him in my road as far as Caxton, which wasthe period of his journey. On Wednesday, with difficulty, I reachedStamford; on Thursday, got to Newark, famous for the ancient castlenear Trent, built by Alexander, bishop of Lincoln; Friday, havinglost my road, I got no further than Bawtry; on Saturday, reachedSherburn; on Sunday, was much delighted with the stream of Wharf,near Tadcaster, and the same day arrived at York, about twelveo'clock. The first house I entered to inquire for my new master wasin a printer's, at Petergate, the very dwelling that is now my own,by purchase; but not finding Mr. White therein, a child brought me tohis door, which was opened by the head maiden, that is now my dearspouse. She ushered me into the chamber, where Mrs. White laysomething ill in bed; but the old gentleman was at his dinner, by thefireside, sitting in a noble armchair, with a good large pie beforehim, and made me partake heartily with him. [Mr White had printedthe Prince of Orange's Declaration when it had been refused by allthe printers in London, and was made king's printer for York and fivecounties. See Literary Anecdotes, &c. by John Nichols, vol. iii.p.688. JH] I had a guinea in my shoe lining, which I pulled outto ease my foot, at which the old gentleman smiled, and pleasantlysaid, it was more than he ever had seen a journeyman save before; Icould not but smile too, because that my trunk, with my clothes, andeight guineas, was sent, about a month before, to Ireland, where Iwas resolved to go, and see my friends, had his place not offered tome as it did.
I lived as happy as I could wish in this family, and as I earnedmoney, I bought me clothes, to serve me till I either went to visitmy parents, where my trunk was carried to, or that I could get itsent me over sea; for Mr. White had plenty of business to employseveral persons, there being few printers in England, except London,at that time; none then, I am sure, at Chester, Liverpool,Whitehaven, Preston, Manchester, Kendal, and Leeds, as, for the mostpart, now abound.
The death of Queen Anne, at Kensington, on the 29th of July,occasioned the proclamation of King George I., on the 3rd of Augustfollowing, at York; it was on the steps of the magnificent cathedralthat I perceived the comely tall presence of that most illustriousprelate, Sir William Dawes, the archbishop, in company with the lordmayor and chief citizens, when the ceremony was performed. On the 9thof November, I purchased a watch of Mr. Etherington, a Quaker, inHigh Ouse Gate, which, with the chain, cost me six guineas. On the13th of December, Mr. Andrew Hind and Archibald Ashburn, (the formera broken master printer, the other a journeyman,) came from theirjourney from Ireland to York; they received assistance from some ofthe Scots printers, and me in particular, though the latter proved soproudly ungrateful as not to regard me when I saw him afterwards atLondon. The year following [in April 1715 TG] came another ofthe fraternity from thence, and though I had obliged the man in whatlay in my power, whose name was William Sudworth, yet the wretchdiscovered me to the full in such a vile manner, that I thought himsuch a drunken mad enemy, more worthy to be prayed for than resented,because from secret, while I heard him, I found he knew not what hedid, or, at least, had no reason from me for such inhuman treatment.But my mistress, who knew how to catch at cheap advantages, let meknow that I was little better, and in fact, no other than anapprentice lad; which, considering I had already served seven years,I must needs confess, cut me to the very soul. And in this melancholyhumour being given to versifying, when I had given over business inthe evenings, I attempted to invoke the muses, whilst I wrote somelines of what, so young, I had undergone in this mortal life.
Having thus vented the diversity of my flowing passions, I mademyself as easy as possible with Mr. White, till the year expired thatI was hired for; though offered to be continued, I would not agree tostay another year, till I had seen my friends in Ireland. Yet whatmade my departure somewhat uneasy, I scarce then well knew how, wasthrough respect of Mrs. Alice Guy, (the young woman who I said firstopened the door to me,) upper maiden to Mrs. White, who, I waspersuaded to believe, had the like mutual kindness for me: she wasthe daughter of Mr. Richard Guy, schoolmaster, at Ingleton, nearLancashire; had very good natural parts, quick understanding, was ofa fine complexion, and very amiable in her features. Indeed, I wasnot very forward in love, or desire of matrimony, till I knew theworld better, and, consequently, more able to provide such a handsomemaintenance as, I confess, I had ambition enough to desire; but yetmy heart could not absolutely slight a lovely young creature, as topretend I had no esteem for her charms, which had captivated others,and particularly my master's grandson, Mr. Charles Bourne, who wasmore deserving than any. However, I told her, (because myirresolution should not anticipate her advancement,) that I shouldrespect her as one of the dearest of friends; and receiving a littledog from her, as a companion on the road, I had the honour to beaccompanied, as far as Bramham Moor, by my rival, on Saturday, the15th of May; being attended also with my late companions, Mr. JohnMickle, Mr. Penman, Mr. John Harvey, and others. In Yorkshire Itravelled through Leeds, Brighurst, Ealand, and over BlackstoneHedge; in Lancashire, through Ribondale, Rochdale, Bury, Bolton,Ashton, Prescot, and Liverpool. As I could not readily meet with aship bound for Ireland, I thought to have worked with Mr. Terry, theprinter of this latter town, but, the man seeming to have no morebusiness than he thought he could manage, and not in the least, as Ithought, courteous to me, a stranger, I made no hesitation, butdirectly crossed the river, in the ferry boat, to Estham, and sotravelled to Park Gate; the Betty galley, with colours displayed,commanded by Captain Briscoe, was ready to sail with the first fairwind: I called to mind how much I was indebted to Providence in thestate I was in, compared to that when I first beheld that place. Theinns and public houses being full, I lodged at Nesson, a mile fromthe shore: at first I did not like the house, on account of theordinary travellers I 'spied there, which the landlady perceiving, "I see," said she, "you are not a common traveller, young man, by yourhabit and linen, and therefore you shall have a clean bed toyourself:" and indeed it was so, in a little snug room, where, nextmorning, I was wonderfully pleased with the reflection that the sun,rising, made on the counterpane, being complete patchwork, likeJoseph's coat, and, for aught I know, made up with as great a varietyof colours. As I had formed a resolution to hire a fisherboat tocarry me over the estuary, into Wales, my good-natured landladyagreeably called me to arise, with news that the captain wasimmediately preparing to sail, and that his streamers and ensignsgave indications that now the wind was fair for the voyage: quickly Idressed myself, took some refreshment, returned her thanks, withgenerous payment, refreshed my little dog, and so set forward to thevessel, wherein I joyfully entered with him; the flowing tide comingto its fulness, and turning upon its ebb, the anchors were quicklyweighed up from the sand. The waves were very boisterous along theWelsh coast, according to the violence of the wind: we got into acreek near Holyhead that night, which is the most extreme point ofWales that lies opposite to Dublin; and here our captain, beinghailed, went ashore, and brought along with him the Rev. Mr.Dubourdieu, a clergyman, who belonged to the Episcopal French churchin the cathedral dedicated to St. Patrick, in Dublin. He was a tall,swarthy, venerable, and pious gentleman; but the sailors terriblyswore that they thought that they should have no good, for they wouldas lieve see the devil as a parson, to stop them in this manner inthe middle of their voyage: and indeed, as it fell out, they seemedto be frightful prognosticators indeed, for, a little after, awfulphenomena darkened the elements, succeeded by such a terrible stormthat confounded all the passengers, and made the sailors pray, curse,and labour without intermission. For some days we were tossed aboutin this dangerous manner, that (as I heard afterwards,) many inIreland had concluded our gallant ship and all her crew were utterlylost; for we were driven considerably towards the north, and not farfrom Scotland, but from thence made hard shift to shelter in theharbour of Douglas, in the Isle of Man, about a quarter of a milefrom the town. That day the quality thought fit to go on shore andrefresh themselves; whilst we that remained espied a funeralprocession solemnly walking to an adjacent village, where the corpsewas interred. Towards night, as the boat was returning with thecaptain and the rest, the pilot told the great danger they were in bythe high winds, and was afraid he could not attain the ship. "Rowon," says the master, being drunk; but the man still representing thecase, he struck at him for his care. "Nay then," said the pilot, "Iam as little afraid to die as you; you may repent striking me beforea few moments pass." Upon which he pulled up as commanded, but of asudden the boat was almost over turned, and the company decentlywashed more than they expected. "Turn, my lads, to the shore," saidthe captain: " Pilot, I will make you amends, and am heartily sorryfor what I have done." So they lodged at Douglas, with a resolutionto stay for better weather; and, the next day, the boat was sent forthose who were willing to come ashore, with a relation of whathappened: I gladly embraced the opportunity, as being very sick withthe tossing of the vessel. We continued here about eleven days: atfirst provisions were very reason able, but more ships being drivento the harbour occasioned a scantiness while they continued. Somewere much put to it for beds; but it fortunately happened that I metwith an ingenious Irishman, Mr. Thomas Kendall, who was a lastmaker,and employed in the family of the Right Reverend Father-in-God Dr.Wilson, Bishop of Sodor, in that island; and besides was very acutein making viols: and letting him know that I was going to my dearparents, he was so good as to allow me to take share of his bed,which was large enough for both of us. For my board he recommended meto the family of Mr. John Corris, who dressed me any thing I wantedat a very easy expense, so that I could not expect to find betterusage in any strange part of the universe. I might have had at firsta good pullet for four pence, and a quart of strong brandy for anEnglish shilling, which went there for fourteen pence.
I often used pensively to walk along the shore, the sands beingvery smooth, except the outward margent, where lay pretty stones andshells. The passage towards the north is terminated by a high rock,that falls gradually into the sea, and, I believe, lies for a greatway beneath the surface of the water. One day I 'spied a smallpassage, by which I ascended, to have a better view of the country.There seemed, by the gradations (only fit for one person at a time),as if the steps had been hewn out by the labour of some ancienthermit; for on the apex there was a seat too, that gave me a vastprospect of the ocean, and the place seemed to me as romantic asCalypso's island, where she would have enervated the vigour of divineTelemachus, had he not been defended by Minerva, under the shadow ofMentor. Here it was that my melancholy thoughts inspired me with asort of poetical genius to contemplate on the unsettled affairs ofthis transitory life.
Upon Sunday following I went to hear divine service in the churchof the village, where the corpse had been carried, as I mentionedbefore: and there I heard the Reverend Mr. Lancaster, an Englishgentleman, preach a funeral oration on the much lamented death ofthat gentlewoman, Mrs. Anne Stacey, who was spouse to one of thetwelve senators there that rule in the nature of a parliament. Ithink, as well as I could hear or remember, the minister insistedthat none of his auditors should too absolutely judge, that allsuicides were in a state of damnation, for that many good andvirtuous people had been overcome through a strange melancholy andother wild disorders, not readily to be accounted for: that as to thedeceased, they knew it was the effect of a high fever that occasionedher to call for a knife to pare an apple, which was as foolishlygiven her, and excessive pain that incited her to rip open herbowels, which issued forth with her life; that her former innocenceand virtue, with her many charities to the poor and distressed, wouldno doubt be put into the balance with her last unhappiness, and,through the mercy of God, outweigh that crime and other enormities,which few (heaven knows,) but what are subject to. And, therefore,instead of uncharitable reflections, it rather should make us fly tothe never failing refuge of powerful prayer, to be delivered from thehorrid temptations of the devil, who sought all opportunities,especially in adversity and sickness, to ruin our precious andimmortal souls, whom he would not have protected by holy angels,that, however, often snatch them from the dragon's power, and conveythem to eternal rest beyond all sin and danger.
Another remarkable thing was at the visitation of the clergy. Thegood Bishop, I think, sat as judge, when a young fellow was cited forseducing a young damsel, to whom he had promised marriage: hislordship most piously laid before him the heinousness of his crime;that even the restitution he should be obliged to make was not asufficient retaliation, or expiation of his guilt, without a thoroughrepentance for what he had committed against God; but if a just senseand detestation of his faults plainly appeared by his futurebehaviour in being a good husband and truly reformed Christian, whythen he could give him assurance that he should recover the favor ofHeaven and his fellow creatures, to the salvation of his soul andbody. The trembling youth, melting into tears, (which set several ofthe spectators weeping also,) made not the least hesitation to marryhis deluded creature, whose fair cheeks were also pitifully bedewed,as a token of her affection; and I make not the least question butthat the holy prelate took speedy care that the solemn rites of thechurch should be soon performed between them.
I had a very willing mind to have seen Peel, Ramsey, and CastleTowns only that I dreaded to lose my passage; and as it was, I hadlike to have lost it, from going on board that ship on this occasion.As I sat one rainy evening at a publichouse, an exciseman was also atthe fireside near me: when I was innocently praising God for hispreservation of our ship's company, he deridingly mocked and hintedas if Almighty God had no hand in human concerns that way, and ourescape might only be imputed to the mere effects of chance; for whatwere we better than, probably, many good people that the same seashad swallowed up? had we greater reason to expect greater favors? andif not, was it not (though we might shew our gratitude by sundryhighest indications,) an imputation upon the divine mercy andbenignity that they were not saved as well as we? "No, no," said he,"think not that your preservation was any concern of his, whosesphere only obtains that happiness which we fondly imagine, throughexcess of fear or devotion, doth also descend to us."
" Sir," said I, " why God suffers some to die sooner, or by moreuncommon deaths, than others, I think becomes not any mortal toocuriously to inquire. He may be willing at one time to take us from amore evil day, I mean from committing more evil, whereby our saddestruction might become inevitable. Perhaps, too, it might be, byimmediate death, to bring them to speedy punishment for cryinginiquities: and, for ought we know, through unbounded love, to callthem to his happiness, as a quick reward for having done their dutyto him in the best manner they were able. His pleasure in these casesis to be submitted to, and well thought of; but your argument is farfrom being so, which robs poor and afflicted travellers of theirgreatest comfort on earth, by making them of all men most miserable;that is, by denying the hope of God and Christ, with the assistanceof the Blessed Spirit, in their greatest distresses, when they knownot how soon their precious souls may be demanded of them. What canbe more wicked than to hear you deny this? What more piercing to meunder such circumstances, when I know my chiefest consolation is inthe Lord; when I know there is nothing in the shadow of death canrevive our sorrowful spirits more than the glorious thoughts ofeverlasting life; and nothing more strong to support us here than thelove of Heaven, whose watchful eye is continually over the faithful,who seek divine truth and hold fast by the promises revealed tous."
Though I was but young, and not much learned, polemically toengage with a man of his age and capacity, with a sort ofmathematical genius, yet I argued as well as I could from the HolyScriptures, wherein so many miracles abound, to prove not only hisDivine existence, but those admirable attributes intermingled withlove and compassion towards those of the large household of faith whoplace their confidence in him. That all our properties of goodness,aptitude, agreement, beauty, virtue, and reason centred in Him whogave us being, and from whom we derive all celestial improvementsthat will reinstate the soul in greater glory. And I reiterated thathis care and love became manifested chiefly in giving his own son todie for our salvation, and sending his Holy Spirit to guide andcomfort us in all the contingences of this mortal life, as well as tofree us from sin and misery. Not to mention, from Eusebius, Justin,and others, those indubitable miracles that were performed in severalages of the church, especially in regard to saints, martyrs, andconfessors, who owned Christ's divinity and assistance in their verylast moments, and expired with joy in the midst of the most crueltorments.
Upon this he seemed to laugh heartily at me, and called me a poorpious philosopher; but I gave him such language, in the spirit ofmeekness, as I thought the case required, considering a text I hadread "Not to provoke a heathen lest he sin," and such that I had nooccasion to repent of. The company round us seemed mightily pleasedwith what I said, called him an atheistical, foolish, unmannerlyfellow, and told him that he had now met with his match. Upon this heflung away in a huff, and then I told them, I was far from publicdisputation, if he had not occasioned by words which I thought werevery impious, especially to a stranger, but was sorry lest I hadtrespassed too much to hinder their discourse on other matters.
But they were very well pleased at his absence, willingly treatedme, and told me he was continually affronting innocent persons. Theyadded, they would speak of me to the Bishop's Gentleman, who was thenin Douglas, and that he would take me to Castle Town, where I shouldwant no assistance, till some ship or other was ready to sail forIreland. Besides, that his lordship would be respectful to one of myprofession, as he was a friend to the press, and greatly contributedto the printing of the Common Prayer in English and Manx, for thebenefit of the people of the island. With this pretty talk of theirs,and the benefit of the sparkling liquor in clear glasses, we were allexhilarated to an high degree, and sat rather too long, as I felt byan aching head the next morning.
The sailors not knowing where to find me, had hoisted anchor, andwhen I arose about eight o'clock, the ship was vanished from mysight, behind a rock that screened me from its view; my concern wasvery great, till coming to the brink of the water, I found two otherpassengers, who had been left as well as I, agreeing with a boatmanto follow the ship, with whom I gladly included myself into theirbargain; but just as I was going to step in, my little dog, Isuppose, not well pleased to venture again on the ocean, lookedstrangely affrighted, and began to run away: grieved to leave him,for the sake of her who gave him to me, I ran after him, till a rockthat jutted into the sea stopt him, the boatman crying most of thetime, "we'll go without you, if you don't come quickly!" but when Igot him, I threw him over my shoulders, as one would do a sheep, andso run, panting, to them, whom I found had too tender hearts to leaveme behind them. When I came aboard, I was accosted by the minister,the gentlewomen, and one Mr. Harvey, a student designed for TrinityCollege, with "Where have you been, young man? what was you afraidof, that you could not tell us where you lodged? all of us have beenin sad concern about you; however, we are glad you have overtook usin so good a time." I heartily thanked them for their well wishes,and so we got into Dublin Harbour that very day, and, by the boatmenfrom Ring's End, were carried to shore. Here, and at Lazar's hill, wewere welcomed by many people, who had before been in terribleconsternation, fearing the long expected ship was entirely lost, andnow their hearts were filled with transporting joy.
When I came to my father's house, as our dutiful custom is there,I fell on my knees to ask his blessing. The good old man took me up,with tears in his eyes, kissed me, saying "Tommy, I scarcely knewthee." My mother being at my sister Standish's, near the Strand, Iwent thither and found her in the parlour; and she as little knew me,till falling in the same posture, I discovered her wandering son. Thechildren, my nephews and nieces, ran out of the pleasant garden tobehold their uncle; and, in short, I was as much made of as my heartcould desire. But the most fond of me was my dear niece, AnneStandish, a perfect beauty. Often did we walk till late hours in thegarden; she could tell me almost every passage in Cassandra, acelebrated romance that I had bought for her at London. She wasbeloved by a gentleman of the same college where her brother, Mr.John Standish, was educated, and her countenance was so amiable, asif the rose and lily met together, that I think the young gentlewomanmight have charmed the greatest personage on earth; but above all,which graced her modest behaviour, she was a most pious youngcreature, and exceedingly charitable to the poor.
After this, it was not long before I engaged myself as journeymanwith Mr. Thomas Hume, in Copper alley; one whose mother was wellacquainted with mine, and had her son brought up very prettily in theBlue Coat Hospital, much like that of the famous St. Bartholomew, inLondon. Being put out to Mr. Francis Dickson, who kept a printingoffice, he became enabled at length to set up for himself, andprinted many good books. But here I met with a sad persecution frommy old master, Powell, [In Dunton's Farewell to Dublin, thisfirst master of Gent is thus described: "His person is handsome, I donot know whether he knows it or no, and his mind has as many charms.he is the very life and spirit where he comes, and it is impossibleto be sad if he sets upon it; he is a man of a great deal of wit andsense, and, I hope, of as much honesty; in the mean time, he isneither scurrilous nor profane, but a good man and a good printer, aswell as a good companion." JH] who employed officers to seize mefor leaving my apprenticeship with him. This was a cutting stroke,though I own it might be expected, and with extreme sorrow pierced meeven, I may say, to the very marrow of my soul. In this poorcondition I became the ludicrous sport of common Irish journeymen,and particularly of the scamperers from London, which usage Iafterwards remembered in an Hudibrastic poem, of which I shall takenotice in its proper place. In this melancholy situation, beingforced to keep out of harms way, I received a comfortable letter fromMrs. Midwinter, in London, (who knew nothing of my trouble,) that ifI pleased to return to her spouse, I should never want a home whileshe lived: meanwhile my dear father, my brother-in-law Mr. JamesStandish, and another gentleman visited Mr. Powell, and offered acertain sum for my releasement; but this obsequiousness made himinsist the more on higher matters, so that, upon due consideration,finding there was no other, and indeed no better remedy, that thebest of men had their troubles, nay, that King George himself justthen, had an unnatural rebellion raised in his kingdom, which, on mycoming thither, I had not as much as heard of, that no inclemenciesor dangers could be worse to me than Powell's tyranny, joined, forought I could tell, with cruel revenge, and to frighten othersthrough my example, and that I had a good kingdom to return to atpleasure; I say when I considered all this with my friends, aresolution was formed and agreed to, that I should privately leave mynative country once more, and wisdom taught me to keep all a secretwithin my own breast till times proved better with me. About thattime I received a letter from my dearest, at York, that I expectedthither; and thither, too, purely again to enjoy her company, was Iresolved to direct my course. I took leave of all friends, on the 8thof July, who seemed much concerned at our parting: but my unluckywhelp, that a little before, while taking a glass with Mr. Hume, hadtorn my new hat in pieces, seemed nowise affected at my taking boat,so I let the rascal stay with my dear parents, who were fond of himfor my sake, as he was of them for his own; nor was he less pleasant,by his tricks, to the neighbourhood, who called him Yorkshire, fromthe county I had brought him. Coming on the sea, we were becalmed, orif a breeze sprung out, it was rather contrary to our desires; sothat it was the 12th instant when I arrived at Park Gate, where I hadcause to thank God I was escaped once more from a man I was now surehad proved an inflexible enemy indeed. On the 13th, I hired a horseto Eastham, and took boat for Liverpool: it was of a market day, sothat the vessel was mostly filled with a parcel of lovely damsels,who had baskets of provisions to sell, as any person, I believe,might see in the whole universal world; and the same encomium mightbe given those of Lancashire. After landing, who should I observe butmy late friend Mr. Kendall, who had been so kind to me, in the Isleof Man. With joyful surprise I took him by the hand, led him to apublichouse, treated him, and gave him a thousand thanks for hishumane and Christian carriage towards me in distress.
[Here is another chasm, and when the narrative proceeds, he ison his way to London, having, as it appears, spent some time in York;the years are 1715 and 1716. JH]
But the next morning, getting about a mile from that town, afellow steps from out of a hedge, as if by his staring and uncombedhair, ugly gait, and other insignia of a villain, he had made thathis nocturnal habitation; upon my asking whither he was going, hesaid, "too and fro in the earth, for every place was alike to him."Being a stiff strong man, I neither liked him or his style, when,luckily, a honest countryman, on horseback, passing by, I went tohim, told him I did not like the company I had met with, and desiredhim to bear me away behind him, and I would satisfy him for histrouble; accordingly, I lost my ill-looked chap, met the opportunityof a coach the last day's journey, and got safe to London, aboutthree o'clock in the afternoon.
Whilst working there with my master Midwinter, I met with verybarbarous usage from one Henry Lingard, a fellow apprentice, son to achairman that plied at the court end of the town. He used to say,"did I think to get my freedom? no, he should take care to preventme;" and such like stuff used to be the daily entertainment I metwith from him. I believe he was set on by a journeyman, who, withoutany just reason, was as vexed because I was in a way to gain it, inspite of their malice; but one day, this Lingard, hindering me fromwork, swore he would fight me, whether I would or no: I gave him allthe good words I could, to be quiet, but in vain; grieved to theheart, I offered him money, to let me live easy the time I had tostay; that to make a noise in the house would be very ridiculous, anddispleasing to our superiors: all signified nothing; thrash me, hewould. "Well, Spark," said I, "well can I perceive those spitefularrows, levelled to make me miserable, do not all come out of yourquiver; I wish they that put you on, like a dog, to worry me, wouldappear as open as you do." "Dog!" said he, in disdain; with that helets drive the first stroke, which obliged me to return hissalutation. I beat him heartily in the case room, and then wetumbled, like fighting cats, down stairs, amongst the presses. Thelyetrough standing at the bottom, he happened to fall with his headtherein, when that unholy liquid smeared him to some purpose: wedescended down another pair of grades, where the paperbank tumbledafter us for company into the back kitchen; and, notwithstanding hisgreat strength, it was my happy fortune, through God's goodprovidence, to give him that just, though severe, correction, that heran howling like a dog indeed that had lost his ears, to complain ofme to his indulgent parents, who, far more reasonable, upon mytelling them, impartially, the whole state of the case, made mattersup between us, through desire of our good master and mistress, and,afterwards, never young persons proved better friends than he and Itogether.
About the month of September, I received a letter from my dear,which acquainted me that the poor condemned persons had felt theutmost severity of the law, for the mean value of three halfpence,which neither of them had received, I confess I was much astonishedwhen I considered how very common it is with men, sportingly to ask apint of ale, or the value thereof, on the road, without the leastintention of robbery; for if so, it were highly criminal if they tookbut a farthing or nothing, since the making people stand to deliveris putting them in bodily fear, and punishable as if they had takenever so great a sum. But I, like others, could not be satisfied withthe credibility of the evidence; nor would I, in this case, judge illof the printer, though, through his means, while on my master'sbusiness, I had been shamefully abused by one Banks, a coppernosedrustic, who kept the cock pit; and I wish I may not judge wrong, if Ithink that the temptation of the reward for taking highwaymen, provedthe grand inducement to swear away the poor creatures' lives. But atthat time, as the determinations of law were above my tendercapacity, I could say nothing more but heartily wish the deplorablesufferers a happy immortality, hoping, at the final tribunal, theywould meet with an infinitely more favorable Judge: and what seemedto me to render them more worthy of Divine mercy, and tender pity oftheir fellow creatures, was the speech which Barron wrote with hisown hand, and desired might be made public in print; and both he andBourne confirmed the same at Tyburn, near York, on Saturday, the 8thof September, just before they were obliged to change this mortallife for a better. People were very much affected at their behaviour,both in regard to their vindication and sufferings; and though thesword of justice had lawfully smitten them according to the evidence,in which neither judge nor jury were to be blamed, yet charity madethem to believe that the poor sufferers were really guiltless ofdesigning to commit any robbery, though they had acted a veryfoolish, and, as it happened, a fatal indiscretion. But Barron spokeand wrote very plainly, that his life was taken away unlawfully andunjustly, that, for his part, he was at a distance from those men whowere concerned in so wretched a case, by the breaking of hisshoebuckle, which prevented his coming near them while it was inagitation; that is, he was not so close up to them as to beconcerned, much less charged with what was acted, but yet he was notso far off neither, but that he heard Townshend beg a little money toget a drink, for truly that he had none to purchase a sup; whereuponMr. King said that he had no more than three halfpence, which hereadily gave him. But Mr. Jackson seemed a hero in defence of what hehad, and told him, if he expected any, he must fight for it first. Iam of opinion, that had Mr. Jackson been assaulted by a commonfootpad with a pistol, his courage would soon have been cooled frommaking resistance, and I wish his mind did not then give him, thatthese poor fellows without weapons, could not be such as he, for acursed reward, was willing to prove them; and, on the other hand, nodoubt but Townshend was surprised at such a proposition, which madehim reply that he was nowise inclined for fighting, which argues hehad no design of committing a robbery; and I think so too, for fewstanch rogues are not only for taking what they can, but for blows,and often worse, in order to make their escape, and preventdiscovery. Barron, employed in fastening his shoe, was not come upuntil all was over, and separated; and, therefore, solemnly declaredthat none of his companions, he believed, and for himself he was sureof, had the least thoughts of committing a robbery: for the reason oftheir going out of town, was to seek a deserter, who had beendrinking with them at the Cart and Wheel, in Feeze gate, and forwhose loss the serjeant had threatened he would make them pay;whereupon, rightly conceiving the fellow was gone to his father's, atNorthallerton, they took the road to Clifton, wherein this unhappyaction of three halfpence happened. But a thought striking into theirheads that they would return to York, and declare to the officerstheir intent, by the information they had where he was gone, which itproved by being seen there next day, they stopped from their intendedjourney, to put in practice their resolution: but it was not longbefore they met with Bing and Jackson, accompanied by assistants, tosecure them as offenders! surprised and grieved, they scorned to betaken as such, and so went to their quarters. There it was thatBarron and Bourne were secured, which, when Townshend heard of , whoonly had the three halfpence, he secured himself by making off, andnever was heard of after, whilst they were strictly examined, hardsworn against, and led to prison, though entirely innocent. This wasthe effect of Barron's apology; but at his death, his charity wentfurther; he freely forgave them, however, what they had done, thoughhe never committed that or any other crime that merited heavypunishment from mankind, but, indeed, that he had been guilty of tooimmoderate love towards women of pleasure, drinking, and keepingcompany; "things," he said, "that were but too common in the world,and the ready ways to misfortune."
As to Bourne, he challenged any person to say he ever did theleast wrong, and accused Jackson of down right perjury, insistingthat he never demanded any money of them, or offered the least abuse.Thus these two poor creatures died for being unhappily in the companyof a foolish fellow, who yet was so wise as to shun theirs when underimpending danger, when he was the most highly concerned.
Such a speech, howsoever just it might have been, (which none butheaven and the criminals satisfactorily knew,) had I then worked withMrs. White, I should have endeavoured to have dissuaded her from theprinting thereof; at least, I would have omitted those names, anddressed it in such language as might have as fully displayed theirinnocence, without falling under those losses which designingpersons, who valued not the lives of the most harmless people, wouldrejoice should also be made their prey. But she, not having the leastlove for the reputation of Jackson, who served an apprenticeship withher husband, (nor was there any the like respect lost on his side,)she was resolved to print the same, as it seemed to tend to hisdisinterest, not considering of those disadvantages she becamethereby obliged to sustain.
Her son-in-law, from Newcastle, unsatisfied with the share hisfather had left him, was at York at that time, and, as I heard,incited her to the completion of it, either, I presume, not carefullyreflecting on the danger, or, perhaps, not caring how much his kindstepmother, (if I may so use the epithet for she was more kind, Ibelieve, than he deserved,) might be oppressed, so that he mightwickedly profit by the ruin of her and her grandson, whose name wasjoined with hers in the said printed paper, though, as I wrotebefore, she acted as entire mistress, by agreement. This publicationof the late prisoner's last sayings so wounded the reputation of Mr.King amongst the people in general, that he sent his wife to complainof the same to Mrs. White, and to persuade her to ask pardon aspublicly in print, by way of recantation. But madam was rather tooobstinate, and indeed, I think much to blame, (since so small amatter would have prevented what followed,) in refusing to yield tobe in any error, or give the least satisfaction by owning that shehad been imposed upon, matter growing to a ferment, there wanted noadvice to her enemies, who had little to lose, and so much to expect;by suing her to take the advantage of the law, which quite gave itssentiment against her, Mr. Bourne being cleared by the judge, as aminor under tuition, by which judgment she lost near fourscorepounds.
This success to her adversaries emboldened them to attack Mr.Morphew, the publisher at London, in whose monthly pamphlet the samespeech, or words like it, had been inserted. But he was so wise as toprevent their sinister design, by applying himself to the judge, who,no doubt, gave him that advice which he took by submitting to arecantation; by which means he pleased Mr. Serjeant, and saved hispurse from their mercy. But the unfortunate Mrs. White's troubleswere not ended; for now, Jackson began to send his puffs abroad, howhe would bring her once more under the lash, for wounding thereputation of so honest a man! And, 'tis not to be doubted but,pushed on by his ancient hatred, the action had certainly beenbrought against her, a second time, for the same paper, if his handshad not been palmed with twenty guineas, paid him by Mr. MartinLantro, barrister at law, nephew to Mr. White, who was uneasy toleave his aunt, being her heir, till she was freed from this vexationalso, and then he returned to Lyon's inn, at London, where hereceived his learned education. He was a worthy gentleman, who, at mywriting to him of the poverty that the sister of Mrs. White wasfallen into, and but indifferently used by a snarling husband, heallowed this poor aunt of his six guineas a year, which I paid to herby his order, till death released her from all care andnecessity.
As to King and Jackson, they gloried awhile with the money theygot as a reward for taking up highwaymen, and with what was obtainedthrough Mrs. White's misfortunes. But they were often twitted with itnot withstanding their threatenings to any that should tell them ofit. One of them did not long survive, but the other did, till afterthe time that Bower was condemned for the robbery of Mr. Harris, ofGiggleswick; at the pardon of whom, and his being defended by alearned pen, (in consideration that Garbut, one of the high party,had before been cleared,) his son being employed in printing forBower's side, in his newspaper, an answer was put up at the CommonHall gate, which complained that Jackson was believed for an actiondone at twilight, as he said, by men who robbed them of three halfpence, for which they had been hanged, and had not the money neither;and that it was strange, plain testimony of the young gentlemanagainst Bower, the verdict of a jury, and just sentence of the law,should be questioned, through a partial defence of such a wretch whomore richly deserved hanging, by all appearance. This so nettled oldJackson, who indeed was not to be blamed for what his foolishmeanspirited son printed, that he did not long survive it.
I assure my reader that I have related the case with the greatestimpartiality; and as I believe the unfortunate sufferers who died atTyburn, through his evidence, were happy as to the enjoyment of theirfleeting souls, so I wish that of Mr. Jackson, through a secretrepentance, may appear without any accusation against it at the greattribunal.
I should not have mentioned this shocking digression, if I had notascertained how much Mrs. White was affected at my absence. Oftenwould she say to my dearest, "Alas, had poor Gent been with me!though young, he was adorned with prudence, and I am sure would nothave done any thing whereby I could have been hurt in this barbarousmanner: how does he do? does he never write to you? I wonder what'sthe reason he never lets me know so much as how he lives." Afterthis, her illnesses came on apace, and she suffered extremeafflictions, though she had all the assistance that learned doctorsor other skilful persons could afford. Her first husband was aclergyman at Wakefield, and she was very happy in her last. She wasof comely stature, pretty features, and generally goodconditioned,but of too great passions when put out of quiet temper. However, hercharity to the poor could wipe away a multitude of faults that way;so that, when she sickened, none could be more deservedly lamented bythem. She continued for a long while in a languishing pitifulcondition, attended carefully by my dear, whom she looked upon littleless than if she had been her own daughter. All this while I was ascareful in saving what I earned as possible, but yet could notperceive a prospect of settlement, whereby to maintain a spouse likeher as I judged she deserved; and I could not bear the thoughts tobring her from a good settlement, without I could certainly make usboth happy in a better.
In the year 1717, I had the great happiness of being made freemanof the company of Stationers, at their spacious hall, in Warwicklane; and afterwards, on the 9th of October, in the same year,commenced citizen of London, at Guildhall, notwithstanding the falseobjection raised against me in the court, by one Cornish, that I hadbeen married in my apprenticeship; but my master, Midwinter, provedhim a notorious liar, and he was reprehended by the warden andothers. We dined at a tavern that day, and my part of the treat, withother expenses came to about three pounds. A little time after, myparents sent me word that they had given the five pounds I orderedfor my first master Powell's discharge, if he would accept thereof;which, at length, he received with a willing heart, and wished me allmanner of happiness. Thus I became absolutely free, both in Englandand Ireland, which made me give sincere thanks to the Almighty fromthe inward recesses of my soul.
And now, thinking of my kind usage in the Isle of Man, Iendeavoured, in some poetical lines, to give it the best character Iwas able to do. Thus I diverted myself in expressing my gratitude toGod and man for benefits received; and now no place of good businesswas denied me, neither wanted I that diligence that was necessary formy profit. But still it was my fortune, though I entirely loved theyoung woman, to dread wedlock, fearing so great an expense as thatstate of life requires, especially from a servant to become superiorto others. However, I kept correspondence with my dear, my intentbeing, some time or other, to set up in a proper place in thecountry, for as yet my purse was far from being sufficient; nor wouldit have been for a long time, had I stayed with Mr. Midwinter, forthe maintenance he allowed I should take at York, which were but thesame as he afforded till I became a citizen, when I thought I couldprovide for myself, and perhaps others, in a much better manner. Inshort, as I told him I was for going, he took it so much to heartthat, to vex me, I was ordered to depart immediately, without afortnight's warning in such cases, which fixed in my mind as deep aresentment. What I acted, I modestly judged to be agreeable toreason, though he called me a jesuitical dog, for carrying myself sohumbly till I had gained my ends: but I told him that I had learntthat submission from none but Jesus, who took on him the form of aservant for our sakes; and if he wished me ill, it was more than everI should suppose of him or his spouse, both of whom, I hoped, wouldever be blessed with perfect happiness; that whatever they thought ofme, I imagined my case was the harder, since I knew they were notunprovided with servants, though their anger would not allow me timeto seek a new master; however, I would not aggravate them by morewords. " Sir," said he, "have you no copies of mine in your trunk,which you may think to get printed in another place?" "Well, master!"answered I, "this wounds me more than the worst action you could havedone by me; here's the key, open it; take them if you find such, andseize every thing I have, for a just forfeit for my infidelity." Atwhich Madame Midwinter said "My dear, don't be too hard, neither,upon the young man, since he will go; perhaps he may repent first,when he finds the want of business; don't spoil what you have donefor him, nor hinder him from getting a living in the best manner heis able." Hereupon I returned her my dutiful thanks, and meeklydeparted.
Some hours had not passed when I waited on Mr. Watts, who promisedme business upon the first occasion he had for a new journeyman.Thinking it would not be long I took a lodging at the King's Headcourt, in Drury lane, at eighteenpence per week, and had a bed in thefirst fore room, a pretty sort of a parlour, to myself, for I carednot to have any man as a companion, through cheapness, but would givemore to lie alone. After some days, the landlady, who took notice ofthat deep melancholy which afflicted me for being out of business,proved very kind, and said a great many pretty things to comfort me.I suppose to know my pulse, she asked me if I knew the picture of theChevalier which was in my chamber? But I had other things to thinkon, or I might, on play nights, have seen Prince George and PrincessCaroline visiting the theatre. My notions were not so much fixed ongreat personages, (though, in a political thought, I did not want theleast sense of the most humble and dutiful respect to our superiorsin church and state,) as how to spend my time well, and procure anhonest livelihood in a troublesome world. I was obliged with sorrowto remove into the city, and constrained to labour at the press, withjobs done at various houses, since work at case was not so brisk butwhat there were enough of hands to perform. My strength was now putto its utmost stretch, till it happened that I applied to thecourteous and ingenious Mr. Wilkins, in Little Britain; on his askingwith whom and where I served my time, he thought, as it was a balladhouse, that I must, in consequence, be insufficient for his politebusiness; but upon my desiring him to try me, and if disliked, todischarge me without wages, he became, upon trial of me, so satisfiedwith my work and behaviour, that he resolved I should be one of hisconstant servants. In his house I wrought alternately at press andcase, the latter mostly on the Bishop of Bangor's Answer to theConvocation; but was much maligned, without the least occasion, bySamuel Negus, [Of Watts, Wilkins and Negus, notices may be foundin the Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, by Mr Nichols;where is, also, (vol. i, p.305,) a copy of the list of printersdistinguished according to their political bias, of which Gent, notwithout reason, afterwards complains.JH] a journeyman, who hadbeen for a time apprentice with Mr. Midwinter as well as I: thatinvidious creature, wanting more homage than there was occasion for,used often to twit me that it was through his means I was kept in.How that was, I did not know; but I am sure his peevishness made melong to be out again, to which I may add my great fatigue at thepress, furthered on such a desire when I could be employed moresuitable to my genius and constitution. My landlord, Mr. John Purser,the joiner, informing me one night, that the aforesaid Mr. Wattswanted a compositor, and would willingly accept me, which he couldnot do before, I gladly waited on that gentleman, and gave warning toMr. Wilkins, who, sorry to part, would fain engage me, that if I leftMr. Watts, I should apply to him again. So I went from him; but alittle after, the same Negus quarrelling with an apprentice, "What!"said the lad, "will you drive me from my master, as I am sure you didpoor Mr. Gent, that harmless young man?" which Mr. Wilkins happeningto hear of, protested that if he had known it before, (which mygenerous temper scorned to take notice of,) he would not havepermitted him to order me to the press, but rather parted from him,and kept me entirely to the case, which would have prevented my goingto any other; which grieved Negus to such a degree, that the basewretch sent a complaint to the house where I was, by an old printercalled Father Peyte, as if I intended to leave Mr. Watts and return,and have the bringing up of an apprentice, to his prejudice; but hisapprehensions appearing groundless, plainly shewed what he afterwardsproved, for this very fellow composed a list of all the masterprinters in England, (and, through malice, put me in amongst them, ata time when I was not arrived at that careful degree, but actuallyworking as a journeyman with old Mr. Henry Woodfall, exhibiting thetitles of "high" and "low," and those of which he was uncertain as totheir principles. This he sent to the secretary of state, in hopes tohave a power as messenger of the press; a copy of which, from theoffice, being given to Mr. Watts, his petition and catalogue wereprinted and distributed amongst the profession, especially themasters, among whom the wretch was one at that time; but the rascalbeing sufficiently exposed, lost his credit, and was obliged toreturn into the condition from whence he came. One Clemson, whom hehad made a pressman, as being brother to his wife, went as a commonsoldier to Gibraltar, the daughter of whom was a poor hawker, though,I believe, the most harmless of the family.
In the year 1718, the venerable Archbishop Dawes came to London,having either been indisposed the year before, or, as a good prelate,did not care to be present or concerned when the executions wereobliged to be performed on some illustrious criminals. This was onlyowing to the tenderness of his spirit, ever inclined to mercy, whilsthis loyalty, like the sun in glory, shone with conspicuous rays oflustre, and his piety soared even to heaven itself. As I heard himpreach in York, I was comforted to behold him in the pulpits of St.Magnus and St. Clements Danes, in London; and his discourses were soheavenly, his deportment so sweetly majestic, with so charming anelocution, that unusual transports could not fail to bless me, andall who heard him, with sincere devotion.
And now I thought myself happy, when the thoughts of my dearestoften occurred to my mind: God knows, it is but too common, and thatwith the best and most considerate persons, that something or othereither gives them disquietude, or makes them seek after it. It was mychance, one day, to be sent for by the Rev. Mr. Smith, near Fosterlane, who told me he had heard of my character, and as Mr. Crossgrovewas breaking off partnership with Mr. Hasbert, of Norwich, if I wouldaccept of his place, or take so much standing wages as would subsistme, and part of the business for encouragement, he would recommendme: after some consideration, we struck up an agreement; and, a fewhours after, I had a letter of encouragement from Ireland, as also amournful one from my parents, that they were very infirm, and oncemore extremely desirous to see me before they died. On this Irelinquished my intended journey to Norwich, though the stagecoachwas ordered to receive me; but took care to recommend Mr. RobertRaikes in my room, who is now settled master in Gloucester. I partedalso from Mr. Watts; wrote a lamenting letter to my dear in York,bewailing that I could not find a proper place, as yet, to settle in;told her that I was leaving the kingdom, and reminded her, by whathad past, that she could not be ignorant where to direct, if shethought proper so to do; that I was far from slighting her, andresigned her to none but the protection of heaven. But sure neverpoor creature afflicted with melancholy that I was upon my journey!my soul did seem to utter within me, Wretch that I am, what am Idoing? and whither going? my parents, it's true, as they wereconstantly most affectionate, so indeed they are, especially in faradvanced years, peculiar objects of my care and esteem: but am I notonly leaving England, the Paradise of the world, to which, as anyloyal subject, I have now an indubitable right, but am I not alsodeparting, for ought I know, for ever from the dearest creature uponearth? from her that loved me when I knew not well how to respectmyself, who was wont to give me sweet counsel in order for my futurehappiness, equally partook of those deep sorrows which our tenderlove had occasioned, was willing to undergo all hazards with me inthis troublesome life, whose kind letters had so often proved likehealing balm to my languishing condition, and whose constancy, had Ibeen as equally faithful, and not so timorous of being espoused,through too many perplexing doubts, would never have been unshaken,and without question would have promoted the greatest happiness forwhich I was created. Thus were my agitations so great that, comingnear Chester, I fell so suddenly ill one night, that I expected deathbefore the morning; but recovering, and hearing that passengers hadwaited long at Park Gate for a passage, I would not stay to ask Mr.Ince, a master printer, newly set up for business, but travelled toHolyhead in about four days, and sailed in the packet boat, commandedby Captain Avery. I was very wet, and much fatigued, but one of thesailors was so good, for a small matter, to let me have his cabin,dried my garments, and carefully attended me, for which I generouslyrewarded him. Early in the morning we took boat in the harbour; butnot being able to make up to Dublin, we crossed three leagues, to getto Dunleary, about five miles southeast of the city: we were sonumbed with cold, that when we landed, we could scarcely stand uponthe sands; but striving till the blood returned into its channelswith heat, we got to a house, awakened the people, had a fire lightedof furze bushes, and got some refreshments. The captain, and postboy,with some gentlemen, got horses, but I ventured on foot, withoutfearful apprehension; on the rising of the sun, I had almostagreeable prospect of the gentry's seats near the shore, and soonafter arrived once more at the house of my father.
None could be more kindly received by my friends than I was; ourneighbours used to plague me, in asking What news? Some time after,we heard of that wicked intention of John Sheperd, to slay the Lord'sanointed; the Irish are very loyal to King George and the royalfamily, and judged it well done to execute so strange a youth, whohad much better have minded his painting, than to harbour the leastunworthy thought of our gracious sovereign. So much do they honourthe memory of King William the Third, that it is punishable in theleast to traduce it, whose equestrian effigy, in brass, is fixed as agreat ornament, in College green.
I had the pleasure here of visiting my sister Standish's family,when I pleased, walking in the garden joining to their pleasanthouse, near the Strand, and conversing with my pretty nephews, andbeautiful nieces, as I often did; especially with my dear niece, Mrs.Anne Standish, many a pleasant hour by ourselves, talking of history,travels, and the transactions of the most illustrious personages ofboth sexes: but now and then, when she would touch of their love, Ibelieve, to know if ever I had felt its unerring dart, my dearest inEngland quickly recurred to my wandering thoughts, and filled myheart with such strong emotions, that my sudden sighs could not butreveal my inward trouble, which did not pass by unobserved, though Istrove to hide them.
But indeed, after some time, I found cause enough to give meuneasiness, for the business, though I wrought with kind Mr. Hume,who gave me what he could well spare, was not near so beneficial aswhat I had at London; but the affection I bore to my dear parents, soI could but obtain common subsistence, took all thoughts of furtheradvantages away, till Mr. Alexander Campbell, a Scotchman, in thesame printing office with me, getting me in liquor, obtained apromise that, when he was determined, I should accompany him toEngland, where there was a greater likelihood of prosperity.Accordingly, he so pressed me, and gave such reasons to my dearparents, that it was not worth while to stay there for such smallbusiness as we enjoyed, that they consented we should go together;but alas, their melting tears made mine to flow, and bedewed mypillow every night after that I had lodged with them: "What, Tommy,"my mother would sometimes say, "this English damsel of yours, Isuppose, is the chiefest reason why you slight us, and your nativecountry; well," added she, "the ways of Providence, I know, areunsearchable, and whether I live to see you again or no, I shall prayGod to be your defender and preserver."
I thought it not fit to accumulate sorrows to us all, by returningany afflicting answers, but taking an opportunity whilst she wasabroad on her business, I embarked, with my friend, once more forEngland; but it was our hard fortune, through contrary winds, to getno farther than Holyhead. From hence, loaded with clothes, afterpainful steps, we ascended the high mountain of Penmaenmawr, apromontory of a prodigious height, which gave us a sweat to somepurpose; the narrowness of the passage, though made more safe thanformerly, as it might strike a terror, so its prospect was somewaypleasing, to behold so vast a space on the ocean, and contemplate thewonders of the Almighty on the deep. With greater joy we descendedthe hill, or rather a number of them contained on the large extent,as it were, like the Alps in France; but greater still, to find ahouse of good entertainment subsiding near the bottom thereof: theretaking refreshment, there luckily passed by some carmen with horsesnot over loaden, who, for four shillings or thereabouts, carried meand my goods to West Chester; and I must confess, the poor honestWelshmen took great care of me, so that we had a hearty drink atparting.
I left my friend as a journeyman to Mr. Cook, the printer, (whohad bought the materials of the executors of the late Mr. Ince,) andarriving at London, I applied myself again to Mr. Watts, who readilyemployed me; but at a new lodging, near Long Acre, throughcarelessness of the landlady laying wet sheets on the bed, I had sucha terrible night, with pain all over me, that, what with the sweat ofmy body, and the dampness through moisture, the sheets were as wet asif newly washed in the Thames; for my part, I could scarcely walk tothe printing house, and when I came there, my ghastly appearance madethe men desire me to return, for I was more fit for my bed than towork; but when I desired them to let me stay, and told what I thoughtwas the reason, they cursed my kind hostess: when I returned at nightI found her drying the sheets, she was sorry for what happened, andever after took special care of my safety.
After all, that I had undergone, I must confess, I thought werebut my just deserts for being so long absent from my dear, and yet Icould not well help it. I had a little money, it is very true, but nocertain home wherein to invite her. I knew she was well fixed; and itpierced me to the very heart to think if, through any miscarriage ormisfortune, I should alter her condition for the worse instead of thebetter; upon this account my letters to her at that time was not soamorously obliging as they ought to have been from a sincere lover bywhich she had reason, however she might have been mistaken, to thinkthat I had failed in my part of those tender engagements which hadpassed between us. But to proceed in my long narrative.
My friend and fellow traveller, Mr. Campbell, coming from Chesterto London, got into the same house with me, when there happened anaffair, soon after that, which entirely lost me that place. Near theoffice, it happened, that Mr. Francis Clifton, who had a liberaleducation at Oxford, but proved a Roman Catholic, had set up a press,and printed a newspaper. His journeyman sickening, he was in greatdistress for a hand; so hearing of me and others, we were sent for toan alehouse, where, opening his want, I ventured to assist him for aday or two. But this being discovered, was very ill interpreted, andMr. Clifton offering me largely, though himself was in poorcircumstances, made me resolve entirely to take my chance in hisaffairs; and so I did in that kind manner that, upon his beingarrested for debt, I attended him while under custody of one Earle,so named, a rascally and cruel bailiff, to get out of whose clutches,I paid the money, without expecting any interest, and only took, assecurity, some furniture he could spare for my lodging.
The usage he received whilst in hold, gave me such horrid distasteto that sort of vermin, that I never cared to have the least societywith them; for scarce one action was cleared, but another was readyto be clapped on, and a follower sent about to the creditors toprepare fresh ones. But Mr. Clifton had not been long delivered whenhe became apprehensive that an extent was designed to be levelledfrom powerful enemies; to shun the merciless effects of which, hemoved his goods into the liberty of the fleet, and there becameentered as a prisoner. Here an old Yorkshire gentlewoman who lived inSt. John's street, let him have whatever he wanted; the Catholicsoften relieved him; and he was equally as ready to oblige them in hispublications. He paid me honestly almost every week, as my constancyand labour deserved. Some time, in extreme weather have I workedunder a mean shed, adjoining to the prison wall, when snow and rainhave fallen alternately on the cases; yet the number of widemouthedstentorian hawkers, brisk trade, and very often a glass of good ale,revived the drooping spirits of me and other workmen. I have oftenadmired at the success of this person in his station; for, whetherthrough pity of mankind, or the immediate hand of Divine Providenceto his family, advantageous jobs so often flowed upon him, as gavehim cause to be merry under his heavy misfortunes. I remember once apiece of work came in from a reverend bishop, whose pen was employedin vindicating the reputation of Mr. Kesley, an honest clergyman, whowas committed to the King's Bench prison, through an action ofscandalum magnatum, though many thought the truth was, he had onlyhinted in private to a certain noble an heinous crime, that oncebrought down fire from heaven, and which was revealed to him by avalet de chambre upon a bed of sickness, when in a state ofrepentance. And, though I composed the letters, and think, if mymemory does not fail me, that I helped to work the matter off atpress, too, yet I was not permitted to know who was the authorthereof but, however, when finished, the papers were packed up, anddelivered to my care; and the same night, my master hiring a coach,we were driven to Westminster where we entered into a large sort ofmonastic building.
Soon were we ushered into a spacious hall, where we sat near alarge table, covered with an ancient carpet of curious work, andwhereon was soon laid a bottle of wine for our entertainment. In alittle time, we were visited by a grave gentleman in a black layhabit, who entertained us with one pleasant discourse or other. Hebid us be secret; "for," said he, "the imprisoned divine does notknow who is his defender; if he did, I know his temper: in a sort oftransport he would reveal it, and so I should be blamed for my goodoffice; and, whether his intention was designed to show hisgratitude, yet if a man is hurt by a friend, the damage is the sameas if done by an enemy; to prevent which, is the reason I desire thisconcealment." "You need not fear me, sir," said my master; "and I,good sir," added I, "you may be less afraid of; for I protest I donot know where I am, much less your person; nor heard where I shouldbe driven, or if I shall not be drove to Jerusalem before I get homeagain; nay, I shall forget I ever did the job by tomorrow; and,consequently, shall never answer any questions about it, if demanded.Yet, sir, I shall secretly remember your generosity, and drink toyour health with this brimful glass." Thereupon, this set them both alaughing; and truly I was got merrily tipsy, so merry, that I hardlyknew how I was driven homewards. For my part, I was ever inclined tosecrecy and fidelity; and, therefore, I was no wise inquisitiveconcerning our hospitable entertainer; yet I thought the imprisonedclergyman was happy, though he knew it not, in having so illustriousa friend, who privately strove for his releasement. But, happeningafterwards to behold a state prisoner in a coach, guarded fromWestminster to the tower, God bless me, thought I, it was no lessthan the Bishop of Rochester, Dr. Atterbury, by whom my master and Ihad been treated! Then came to my mind his every feature, but thenaltered through indisposition, and grief for being under royaldispleasure. Though I never approved the least thing whereby a manmight be attainted, yet I generally had compassion for theunfortunate; I was more confirmed it was he, because I heard somepeople say at that visit, that we were got into the Dean's yard; and,consequently, it was his house, though I then did not know it; butafterwards learned that the Bishop of Rochester was always Dean ofWestminster. I thanked God from my heart, that we had done nothing ofoffence, at that time, on any political account; a thing thatproduces such direful consequences.
During my stay with Mr. Clifton, which, without my design, drewmany of Mr. Midwinter's customers from him, I was often solicited bythe latter to return again, and he would allow the same premium asthe former did, of twenty shillings per week. But not only was Iafraid of an inducement to beguile me, and so turn me out, destituteof a friend, when his turn was again served, but also could not bewithout a just reprehension of acting a very dishonourable part, incauselessly leaving a person who had not, as yet, given me the leastreason for separation.
Madam Midwinter did often desire that I should return again totheir service; and, for that purpose, sent Mr. Robert Turner, who wasformerly my fellow apprentice. But that awful reverence I knew Ishould be obliged to submit to, the fear of an alteration in theirtempers, or that I should offend them so as to feel theirdispleasure, as I had done before, made me resolve to keep, as longas I could, where I seemed to be more steadily settled. Thus ouraffairs continued, both persons opposing each other; of which therehappened this year, 1719, an unhappy occasion, through the executionof Mr. John Matthews, a young printer, for no less than high treason.I think, eleven of the judges were upon the bench at his trial; hisown brother, happening to be in the court, proved his hand writing,as others did of his printing a work, called "Vox Populi, Vox Dei." Ibeheld him drawn on a sledge, as I stood near St. Sepulchre's church;his clothes were exceeding neat, the lining of his coat a richPersian silk, and every other thing as befitted a gentleman. I wastold he talked, like a philosopher, of death, to some young ladies,who came to take their farewell, and suffered with a perfectresignation. He was the son of an eminent printer in Towerditch, whodied about three years before: and his body, through favor of thegovernment, his corpse unquartered, was laid in the church of St.Botolph, near Aldersgate. One Vesey, a journeyman, who was principalevidence against him, did not long survive the youth; at his burial,in an obscure part of Islington churchyard, many of the printers'boys, who run of errands, called devils, made a noise like such, withtheir ball stocks, carried thither for that purpose; the minister wasmuch interrupted thereby in the burial service, and shamefulindignities were committed at the grave. But these indignities beingtaken notice of, what printers had been at Islington that day, hadtheir names sent off to the courts at Westminster, where it costtheir pockets pretty well before their persons were discharged fromtrouble. Happily I was informed, at Wood's close, of the intendedprocession; but desirous to be out of harm's way, I shunned the crewof demons, with their incendiaries to a mischief, and took anothercontrary way.
But, after some months, I went to the same town of Islington upona very dutiful occasion, inspired with pure gratitude in memory toher, whom I shall remember whilst the sense of thought remains withinme. 'Twas occasioned by the much lamented death of Mrs. ElizabethMidwinter, [Interred in Islington, near the steeple, on Sundaythe 14th. TG] who departed this mortal life on Wednesday,February 10th, 1719Ú20. Indeed, considering her formergoodness, though it was sometimes mixed with severity, when shepleased to chastise her children and servants when she thought themdeserving of punishment, yet being tempered with quick reconcilement,many times with presents, that overbalanced our light sufferings.
I was resolved to attend at her funeral though uninvited, were Iobliged even to walk on foot ten miles from London. I procured a lockof her hair, which I intended to have curiously set in a neat stonering, and so have worn it as a dear memorial. Her body, within a finecoffin covered with black cloth, was respectfully placed in a hearse,attended by her spouse in a mourning coach, by himself, who wasfollowed by two or three more, filled with relations or friends.Arriving at the parish church of Islington whilst the office for thedead was reading, many tears were shed, particularly by a fellowservant, accompanied with mine, with the greatest sincerity, I amsure, for my own part. People of whom she had taken country lodgingsin that town, and others, were not wanting in tender respect towardsher. She was deposited on the west side of the churchyard, near herfirst husband, Mr. James Walker; and when the minister had ended thismournful solemnity, and the company departed, I concluded, upon atombstone adjacent to her remains, the following
Lo! underneath this heap of mould,
My mistress dear is laid;
A wife, none better could behold,
None chaster when a maid.
Weep, passenger, when you pass by
This little space of earth;
And think the same death you and I
Must pay, with loss of breath.
In certain hope to rise again,
'Tis here her body lies,
'Till it ascends, with Christ to reign
In Heaven, above the skies.
So, reader, meditate your state,
And let your thoughts prepare
To meet, with solid joys complete,
Your Saviour in the air.
My behaviour whilst attending her funeral, did not pass unobservedby Mr. Midwinter, or his friends; he sent for me that night, andwould fain have persuaded me to have given lawful warning to Mr.Clifton, and come to him. He told me that his daughter-in-law'sunhappy marriage with a mean fellow had gone a great way to break theheart of his late spouse. He now urged his heavy grief and greatdistress; how honourable it would be to me, and acceptable to him, ifI would but comply, or if not, to do it as soon as I could withconvenience. Thus knowing the impetuosity of his desires, I soothedhim as much as I could with obliging words; but inwardly was resolvedto keep my station, till I had a juster reason than an invitation,which I thought, as before, somewhat precarious; though I judgedwrong, I need must confess, as by what hereafter will appear. Nay,such was my strong attachment, that it made me also resist thearguments of some of the profession, against working for such aforeigner as Mr. Clifton was styled, and, as it were, slight thatimminent danger which my master had vainly brought upon the familyand particularly touched himself, for bold touches on politicalaffairs.
Thus estranged, from certain hopes of quietude, I so continued forseveral months; in which time, I confess, I was willing to part fromhim, if I could gain his consent. But his averseness was beyondmeasure, even when I told him I could procure him a servant equal, ifnot superior, to me. His temper was very obstinate in relation, butthis I looked upon as proceeding from respect and impartiality,though I afterwards found the contrary from him. As he had a desirefor those goods that were in my hands, I let him have them without apenny interest; and thought it a particular satisfaction that I wasable to relieve him in his extremity. He had, besides, obliged me inprinting a little book I wrote, intitled, "Teague's Ramble," a satireI had written on some of our profession, who richly deserved fortheir unmerciful usage to me and others, their fellow creatures;wherein only the guilty were made to feel its sting, and the innocentcommended. But, at length, an accident happening, and the strangeviolence of his temper therein, (contrary to the sentiment of thecomic poet,) to preserve his reputation against the vile assault of arecorded villain that could not hurt it, caused a final separation,and a thorough annihilation of friendship; which, God knows, at leastI think, I had never given the least occasion for. The matter wasthus: There lived then a common hackney writer, named RichardBurridge, who sold written pamphlets, for about half a crown each, tothe printers. This man I had known from the beginning of myapprenticeship at London; for my master used to send me to him, inNewgate, for copies: whether, at that time, he was confined there fordebt, or for writing a burlesque, called "The Dutch Catechism," Iwill not positively affirm; but, to me, he appeared a cursing,profligate wretch, as any of his fraternity in that woeful prison.He, afterwards, was released; but, in a little time, came to beimmured, for debt, I think, within the Gate house, at Westminster. Sothat it being too long a walk, and Mrs. Midwinter being fullysatisfied with my genius at the pen, obliged me, in myapprenticeship, to turn author for them too; in which office, myharmless style in relating occurrences that daily happened, provedvery acceptable to the public. This was not pleasing to Burridge, nomore than he himself became agreeable to human and divine laws; for,whilst drinking Geneva to excess, he would frequently quarrel withthe other prisoners; and one time, in company with George Taylor, hedrank such healths, in a blasphemous manner, that I almost think aretoo nefandous to be repeated, though in pious detestation thereof.But, by what they said, 'twas plain they owned the power of Beelzebubas their master, against divine omnipotency, to whom they wishedconfusion! and, to the souls of the departed, horrid condemnation atthe resurrection! words, that in some places would have brought themto the flames, as diabolical testimonies of wickedness. It wasthought by some, that this their infernal policy was thus wickedlyexhibited to get free of that prison, and to obtain a hole inNewgate, which they might think more proper for their interest.Whether themselves thought so or not, it proved, however, true; forthey were moved thither by virtue of habeas corpus, tried at the OldBailey, ordered to be pilloried; and I once saw them exalted withoutTemple bar. They had gotten skullcaps made of printing balls, stuffedwith wool, which I was desired to carry to them, but these proved butweak helmets to avoid the eggs and stones that were made to fly atthem by the furious mob, who had almost knocked out one of Burridge'seyes, who was thought the greatest villain of the two: but, with theother, he deeply marked the person whom he thought had hit such anunlucky blow; so that, when he came down, he drew out his penknife,strove to make up to the youth he mistrusted; and, I believe, wouldhave stabbed him to the heart, were it not for the interposition ofthe attending officers of justice. Afterwards, he wrote a book,called "Religio Libertini," giving an account of his past life,humbly desiring pardon of God and man, and professing that, from anatheist, he was become a convert. People who did know him weredeceived, and likewise those who had given him good advice; so that,what was said by the poet, of such who endeavoured to wash theEthiopian, might have been applied: "Abluis Æthiopem, quidfrustra? ah, desine; noctis;" "Illustrare nigræ nemo potesttenebras:" for the same Burridge afterwards stole a book of mine fromout of Mr. Midwinter's printing house; and I lamenting and tellingwhom I suspected, he so taxed the fellow with it, that he brought itback to me, and said he only took it in jest, and designed to returnit when he had read the Epicurean philosophy contained therein. Myeasy temper went so far as to believe him still a convert: but myopinion changed when invited to our weighgoose; he following thecourse of a disloyal health, I scorned to pledge the monster, to thegreat offence of the company; but giving them the reason, that I hadlately taken allegiance to King George, on my commencing citizen ofLondon, and that I should abide by my principle, without concerningmyself about what they did, they appeared easy; otherwise, I believeI should have been basely treated, only that my master told them, ifthey hurt me, they would deprive him of his best servant. Besides, intruth, I judged it very dangerous to pledge one, on such an occasion,who, without the least remorse, had shot his blasphemous speechesagainst Heaven to such an high degree as I have mentioned; a wretchwho valued not, for his ends, to turn informer against even those hehad a hand in corrupting. However, neither Mr. Clifton or I wereshortened as to our kindness towards this unworthy scribbler;supplying him not only with money, but even necessaries of life, tillthe following piece of villainy set us for ever against him in ourdefence.
Burridge having sold a copy to Mr. Clifton, likewise disposed of atranscript of the same to another printer, which is very unfairdealing, as it was done without consent, in a private manner; forthere should be no more proprietors but the first, to whom it isdisposed, since he that is first published will render the other'sendeavours of none effect, but rather a great loss to one of themthat is so deceived. And now, as Kingston assizes was approaching, mymaster would not trust him on another account, lest, in a carelessmanner, he should take the trials so as not to be acceptable to thepublic; therefore, by him, and the family, it was resolved that Ishould be sent on Saturday, when judge Eyre was to enter into thattown. I had not been long there before I perceived him, attended witha numerous company of gentlemen, and others, who, either in respector curiosity, besides business, compose such like grand appearances;whilst, on the other hand, the poor creatures, either through crimesor misfortunes, turn to our view the different scenes of infelicityand misery.
I heard the trial of one Carrick, a young man who looked like asubaltern officer, for killing one of his companions, at which asoldier standing by, said he deserved to he hanged: he came off with"guilty of manslaughter," but was afterwards executed at Tyburn, fora robbery of Squire Young, in Lincoln's Inn Fields. I took notice ofa very pretty young damsel, of the town of Dorking, in Surrey, whohad unhappily given a lad a blow or two in a ditch, where she hadfollowed him, of which, it was presumed, he sickened and died; butshe was cleared, as having no intention of his death. There was alsotried Mr. Reeves, whose wife kept an haberdasher's shop on theStrand, while he, with one Ryley, an Irishman, were unlawfulcollectors on the highway. Never did I hear a person plead for hislife with greater argument or eloquence: he got clear of about threeindictments, though one swore he had met him disguised in aminister's gown and cassock; and I well knew, by sight, the gentlemanhe borrowed them of, near St. Bartholomew close, after he had escapedfrom jail, who was taken up and put there in his room, and irons putupon him: which so affected the good clergyman, that though hisinnocence soon cleared him, he died with grief, at the very thoughtsof the scandal that had been thrown upon him. But at last, agentleman, who had been robbed of about seventy pounds, and knew him,by the crape mufflers being blown from his face, swore so positivelythat he was the very man that took it from him, when he could illspare it from his family, that the jury could do no less than findhim guilty, and, according to his sentence for death, he sufferedwith resignation: it was a pity a man, who understood the French andother tongues so well as he did, had not taken to good ways, wherebyhe might have been an ornament to his country. Another trial was of awretched sexton, (who seems to have been imitated lately by oneBurton, a glazier, in York,) for stealing dead bodies out of theirgraves, and selling them, as represented in the Beggar's Opera, tothose fleaing rascals, the surgeons: but he was cleared of the newindictment, in consideration that he had already suffered a year'simprisonment on former accusations of the like nature. But a poor oldman being brought to the bar for sheep stealing, loaded with age andinfirmities, was as moving a spectacle as could demand compassion:weeping and trembling, he was led to the bar, craving mercy, sayingit was his first crime, and that, if he was pardoned, he would not doso any more. It was so brought in, that the judge ordered him a smartwhipping but not with too much severity, and immediately after to bedischarged, in consideration of his poverty. But a man, who had beena builder, had passed through several offices in the parish, wassentenced to be transported, because, having an house to repair foranother, and there being goods locked up in one particular room, heand his servants mistook them for their own, and disposed of them tomake themselves merry: but I believe this judgment was in terrorem toothers, lest they should happen to commit the like mistake, for Inever heard that the prisoner was sent beyond the sea. These, andother trials, too many to enumerate here, I carefully wrote down, andsent to Mr. Clifton, then in Old Bailey, who took care to get themcomposed, till I should return with their determinate acquittals, orcondemnations.
Whilst from the court, I had leisure time to take notice of theantiquity of the town so called from an ancient royal castle, whichhad been the residence of the Saxon kings, and where the twoEthelreds, Athelstane, Edwin, and Edward the martyr, had theircoronation; for several of their pictures, as also that of King John,are in the church, as benefactors. Abundance of pretty epitaphsornament the stone pavement, one of which I particularly took noticeof, was that of a pious young lady.
But one morning, rising very early, I passed over its statelybridge with twenty arches; and being told his lordship would not bevery early that morning on trials, I was resolved to see HamptonCourt. Never had I a pleasanter walk, of about two or three miles,between such lofty trees on each side of the road, while the birdswere singing their early matins, and every natural production lookedwith a solemn majesty, as became the work of the divine Creator ofthe universe; but art shone with a surprising perfection whilst Iviewed the three grand areas of that illustrious palace, the noblestaircases, the lofty stately pillars leading to the park, near thepleasant banks of the river Thames, that I thought myself blessedwithin a terrestrial paradise; neither did the stream, when all wasover, afford me less entertainment, whilst I returned in a largeboat, with several others, towards London: the shores on each sidebeing adorned with fair towns, with adjacent gardens, such asRichmond, Brentford, Thistleworth, and other delightful views, aswere sufficient to melt or raise the soul into various ecstasies orraptures; from contemplation of which, I am sorry to return to talkof the rogue who occasioned this excursion.
I had not been, I think, above two days at London after thisjourney and voyage, and happening to stand at Mr. Clifton's door, butup comes Burridge, and called me many abusive names, telling me I hadtaken his property from him, and without much more formality, Isuppose through a previous knavish design, struck me over the face. Icould do no less, I thought, than defend myself, by kicking up hisheels, and laying him upon his back, just before the gate of Blackand White court, in the Old Bailey; and for all his repeated blows,methinks I should have dealt pretty even with him, if my master hadnot come out of the house, to whom he had the greatest malice, forthen he left me, and I went in; but he flew directly at Mr. Clifton,who laid him sprawling in the middle of the kennel, and then came inlikewise. The villain, quick at revenge, first broke the windows; andthen, in his mad fit, went directly to Sir William Withers, andunjustly swore that we had robbed him of half a guinea in the king'shigh way, or open street, at four o'clock in the afternoon: whereas,I never saw a piece of gold with the fellow in my life, but, on thecontrary, had often relieved him, as I wrote before. But themagistrate, who was suspicious that what he said was through malice,was very unwilling to grant such a warrant, till he violentlyinsisted upon it; and then he went about vapouring that as for him,he did not value his own reputation, but as he knew we did ours, hewould take it from us, by sending us to jail, which then neither hewould not do, till the near approaching sessions was just past, thatso we might have the longer confinement before the succeeding meetingof the court. This I was acquainted of, by Mr. Pollington, an Exetergentleman; upon which, I went to Sir William Withers, and when I toldhim the whole affair, to which he gave most serious attention: "Youngman," said he, "I thought, indeed, that the fellow was a merevillain, by his words and actions; and by your coming to me, whom hehas sworn against, I take you to be an honest person, and thereforewont secure you, which I might, if I pleased; and if he should getthe constable to serve my warrant, though I cannot free you fromprison, yet I shall be your friend so much as to acquaint the courtwith your behaviour." So I parted, between joy and sorrow; for as Idid not care to be falsely imprisoned on a rogue's account, if Icould avoid it, 1 got some of my friends to argue with the wretchhimself; nay, his wife and children cried " Don't hurt poor young Mr.Gent, whatever you do with Clifton," they so wrought with the fellow,who, knowing his guilt, was for letting all cease, if Mr. Cliftonwould do so too. But far from that, Mr. Clifton insisted to have hischaracter openly justified, and, arresting him for breaking thewindows, Burridge was sent to the Compter.
Upon this, I represented to Mr. Clifton, that the oath of avillain could never affect his character, but imprisonment, thoughinnocent, might hurt it, and mine, on whom my daily bread depended;for malicious persons would never then want matter of reproach whenthey were evil-minded: if, as a master, he was above the frowns offortune himself, I besought him to consider me, and my friends, whowould be much afflicted by such a report; that the trouble andexpense would be great on our side, and would be nothing to him, whohad neither money nor reputation to lose; and that if he would notoblige me so far, since I was sure I could make all envy cease, hemust not wonder if he had obliged me to seek peace in another place,where I could find it. I could not help bursting into tears at ourcondition; but all was in vain, he would scarcely listen to me; and alittle after, Burridge, though in prison, got the warrant served uponMr. Clifton, stuck to his false oath, and sent him to Newgate, whilstI was obliged to keep awhile concealed.
My neighbours and friends knowing that, if I was taken, I musthave been committed also, they thought it pity that I should sufferthrough the villainy of one, or the folly of the other; I visited thepleasant country towns, taking a useful book or two for mycomforters, when I fetched many a melancholy sigh; and when Ireturned, used to amuse my spirit with the antiquities of Westminsterabbey.
I received a letter from Mr Clifton, to visit him in hisconfinement; but as I heard he was enraged that the warrant had notreached me to bear him company, I had the less reason to trust myselfto a man of so ungovernable a temper, who thought his opinion wasalways to be preferred. I then considered the axiom, "Non fidendumiis, qui impetu voluntatis, non ratione feruntur," and he seemed tobe one of those whose will would grasp at more power than reasonsometimes allowed; besides, I did not care to come to a jail governedby keepers little inferior to so many infernal devils, who, likeDemocritus's head on a mopstick, were laughing at the miseries ofmankind, living by the crimes, and, too often, the deplorablemisfortunes of others. Whilst I remained in this melancholycondition, Mr. Midwinter set on some persons to find my retirement,and to persuade me now to leave Mr. Clifton; who accordinglyrepresented to me, that he deserved it for his obstinacy, and for hisdesire to have me in prison with him; that I could never expect tolive safe with such a man hereafter, who taxed me with ingratitudefor deserting him, when, with greater reason, that bad vice mighthave been applied to him; that I should have eight weeks' paymentbeforehand, for working so long a time, which would be some comfort,though a future disagreement should happen, which should not be Mr.Midwinter's fault, and hoped it would not be my own.
These pressing reasons, added to my distress, prevailed with me tocomply; and then it was I became loaded with reproaches from Mr.Clifton and his friends. God knows if I deserved them, for I am notmy own judge in that case; but many said that I chose the better wayin such a dilemma. Still I escaped the warrant, though sought afteras if I had really been a highwayman. But the sessions being come, asMr. Clifton was brought to the bar, the court (who well knew the vilecharacter of the prosecutor,) smiled upon the prisoner; and thelearned judge, having heard of the villain's malice, seemed angrythat such a cause should be brought before the bench, commandingimmediately that Mr. Clifton should be set at liberty; by whichjudgment I became released from any apprehension on account of thewarrant. Nor was it long before Burridge, by some flaw he found, oradvantage taken, by omission in the law, got clear of hisimprisonment for breaking the windows; so, being equally malicious,they were thought the fittest persons to deal with one another. Butmy greatest friend was Mr. James Read, a worthy master printer, who,in a manner, obliged Burridge to forbear hurting of me, however heused his mortal adversary, Mr. Clifton, who was ill respected; and,indeed, I soon after found, that the latter deserved the usage) inpart, that he had received; for it was contrived, that some of hisfriends should get into my company, and, to extort money, draw wordsfrom me that might bring me under the lash of the law, though theyperjured themselves by this combination.
When they could not get their vile ends as they would of me, aScotch rascal, with a vile harlot, and himself, heinously contrivedto terrify me, by asserting I had abused their characters, which,truly, then was not worth mentioning; aye, and revenge they wouldhave, if they ransacked the common law and ecclesiastical court forjustice; and to such an amazing height of impudence and nonsense werethey grown, that they abused me in the open streets. But I, bearingtheir vile usage with utter silence, and yet resolving to spend thelast farthing in my just vindication, they never durst attack me,fearing I might bring them to open shame.
Afterwards, the same Clifton proved himself a villain, in movingoff to France with the money of a brewer, to whom he was steward, andleft his bondsmen to answer for what damage he had done thereby.There he died, but his family returned to London; and his son, Ibelieve, though he did not discover himself, visited me, as awretched traveller, at York, some years after, whom I kindlyentertained, as my general custom is to strangers. I continued withMr. Midwinter, happy enough, till such time that he was resolved tomarry again: his choice was of Mrs. Elizabeth Norris, a young widow,daughter of Mr. Thomas Norris, a very rich bookseller, on LondonBridge, whose country seat was at Holloway, about a short mile fromIslington. Mrs. Ann Desternell, [She died in childbed about theyear 1725. TG] a poetess, used to carry his letters, underpretext of being a customer.
His presents were extraordinary, as I heard, proportionable to hisexpectations: he presented her with a fine necklace, worth thirtypounds; and so much got the master of her affections, that sheresolved, at all hazards, to be married to him, though her father wasrather against it, but, being his only child, and fearing her loss,would not lay any absolute commands upon her; in short, she obtainedher desire, and our new mistress was brought home, who, indeed, was avery meek, good-natured gentlewoman. Both the dwelling house andprinting office, in Pye Corner, were made larger, by addition of thenext tenements thereto; and a lease being granted, my master, at hisown expense, had employed workmen, in a manner, to metamorphose thewhole. They told him, at first, a less charge, by half, than whatthey wrote in their bills; and I know not how, from being thoughtrich a little before their courtship, there suddenly appeared avisible alteration to the contrary. I was much grieved thereat, andfain would have gotten another place, as thinking my wages were tooextraordinary for him to pay; and I ever was for having Good hands,good hire, neither more nor less than what I honestly had earned,which would be good both to master and man. But while I was in thistottering condition, I was sent for by a young man, of late marriedto a widow, to the Fortune of War alehouse, near the entrance intoWest Smithfield and being seated, he told me, he was sure that I wasa kinsman of his, for he had often inquired for me amongst thesadlers, thinking I had been one, as my father was, but happilyheard, by a lodger of his, one Mrs. Mickle, that I was a printer, forher husband had been fellow workman with me at York. He also declaredthat his name was Thomas Gent, as well as mine; that his own father,Ralph, once a creditable baker at Uttoxeter, came up to London afterhis mother deceased, and died at his house, the sign of the Unicorn,in Kent street, Southwark; was own brother to my dear father inIreland, who, long since, had visited his English relations, with hisdaughter, Rebekah; and giving other plain testimonies, desired me towrite to my dear father, if it was not true. I was very glad to seehim, believed what he said authentic, because Mr. Mickle, then dead,had been my fellow workman at York, and an honest Scot he was, ifever there was such; and when I wrote to my dear father of thesethings, he answered he was sufficiently satisfied that I might ownhim for my kinsman. Accordingly, I often visited Southwark; and hisspouse, he, and I, respected one another as kindred.
A little after, I happened to take lodgings at a widow woman'shouse, opposite Sea Cole lane; there I had a bed to myself, because Inever cared, after my 'prenticeship was expired, to lie with any manwhatever. The landlady, it seems, made a journeyman barber in theplace to lie in another room, that I might have a little one fittingfor me, which I knew nothing of, or had any desire after what wasanother's property. The fellow owed me a grudge, however; and the oldjade, I believe, was a very wicked woman, as may appear, by thedanger that I fell into. It happened, that one Sunday, being invitedto dine with Mr. Dodd, a master printer, (whose wife, the daughter ofMr. Bliss, from Exeter, I knew before he married her,) I was shewn,afterwards, the beauties of his house, and turning the last stairs,which went a different way from the rest, and not minding them,through talk of the pictures on the staircase, I fell slanting overthe bannister to the bottom, and bruised my side in a very sadmanner. I soon, upon that accident, took my leave, and went fromthence, which was opposite the ancient palace of St. Bride's Well, toa brandy shop, near the stairs ascending to the Black Fryars, where,in as proper spiritual liquor as they gave me, I pretty well bathedmyself, and then went to tell the misfortune to my kinsman and hisspouse. At night, as I returned by water, I had scarce landed fromone boat, but a person was brought in another, who had been taken outof the river, where he was cast by the oversetting of one of thosevessels, by which his companion was drowned, and the waterman hadswam to shore. "Lord! thy name be praised," said I, privately, "thatthrough thy providence I am yet preserved, though worthy, for myomissions, to be punished with thy heavy displeasure!"
Coming to my lodgings, who should I see, but my landlady and thesaid barber drinking Geneva, or drams, together, which I did notknow, till then, she had sold: the fellow asked me how I did, and ifI would keep them company, but I innocently told them my misfortune,got a candle, and so went to bed. I had scarce got between thesheets, but the rogue came up, and whilst he was bursting open thedoor, I slipt out, and stood on one side in the dark, trembling,whilst he struck violently against the boards at the bed's head: thecowardly scoundrel, for aught I know, designed to ruin me, and tookthe advantage by my illness; but as I was escaping down stairs, hegot hold of me, at which, finding my life was at stake, I fellfuriously at him, and brought him down to the lowest room. The hussy,taking his part, would have had me up again, but calling a watchman,I would not return, but lay in her bed, while she ascended with thevillain. In the morning, I ordered my trunk to be carried away: and,by ten o'clock, she waited on me at the printing office, to excusethe matter; she offered to fall on her knees, to beg pardon forherself and the fellow, knowing that if I had catched him by aconstable, I might have sent him to Newgate; but her crocodile tearsproved vain; I paid the wretch what I owed. She lost a good lodger;and that day, or next, I purchased a bed, which cost me fortyshillings, with a chair, table, candlestick, earthenware, and otherlittle necessaries, till, by degrees, I had many pretty things tofill a larger room than what I had taken from Mr. Franklin,watchmaker, in Fleet lane; and found great comfort that I could liveas I pleased, whilst master of my own habitation.
Happening, at a lucky time, to meet my old friend, Mr. Evan Ellis,who printed the bellman's verses at Christmas, for which, sometimes,I had the honour of being the poet, and used to get heartily treated:"Tommy," said he, "I am persuaded that, some time or other, you'llset up a press in the country, where, I believe, you have a prettynorthern lass at heart; and, as I believe you save money, and canspare it, I can help you to a good pennyworth, preparatory to yourdesign." Accordingly, they proved to be some founts of letters thatMr. Mist designed for the furnace, of which I bought a considerablequantity: that gentleman using me very courteously, in regard of apaper I wrote, which was printed and sold, concerning his misfortuneswhilst under the government's displeasure, before his news became, asit were, lost in a Fog. [That is, Mist's journal was after called"Fog's." TG] For, as I treated his moral character with greattenderness, as indeed he deserved, so he was now pleased to rememberit, in a very kind manner, in the price that he set me to give forthem. Some time after, I purchased a fount of Pica, almost new, ofthe widow Bodingham, resolving to venture in the world with mydearest, who, at first, gave me encouragement; but my purse beingmuch exhausted by these two purchases, I still worked on for furthersupplies: after which, I bought my little press, with which I did,now and then, a job of my own, for diversion, though thesepreparations, I found, were not very pleasing to Mr. Midwinter, whichwere not bought with a design to hurt him; but it was purely theeffect of Providence, that seemed to push me forward in thiscontinually transient life. Having a promise of business from abookseller, when I did set up entirely, I bought of Mr. James a newfount of Small Pica, which cost, one time or other, above twentypounds, and several other materials, of various people, till my stockbecame much enlarged: but still I worked with Mr. Midwinter.
I hope it will not seem downright enthusiasm if I mention astrange dream that I had one night: it was, that being seized by somemen, I was conducted by them to a small room, shaped like an oblong,at one end of which seemed a smoky hole, wherein they told me washell itself, but that they had not commission to put me therein. Idesired to peep if I could spy Elysieum, but thought I perceivednothing but vapours and flames mingle together; that then I was takeninto another apartment, rather larger, where they consulted awhile:and then they locked me in a third, as though I was, by its awfulgloominess, to prepare for death, where were a bed, chair, table,book, and candle. Being left here to meditate, as I thought, the faceof a fine grey haired old man, I remember, much like a grandfather ofmine, appeared on the wall, with his eyes moving, that I wassatisfied could be no image or picture; that, in amazement, I tookthe courage to ask, Why he seemed to visit me in that melancholysituation? He answered, 'Twas through Almighty goodness and power."If so," said I, "I pray you then assist me:" at which, smiling, heseemed to vanish in a gliding manner; and I awoke, much surprised,about the deadtime of the night. I slept little after, till towardsthe morning, and the clock struck seven before I awakened, when,rising, I went to work; but about ten, a deep oppression seized myspirits, and my body was affected with an unusual trembling. I leftthe printing office, and returned to my lodgings, where, complainingto my neighbour, I was advised to take something that might make mesweat; and telling them my dream, "I pray God," said Mr. Parry to hisspouse, "that nothing soon befalls the poor young man, for I do notlike it."
When I went to bed, and they concluded I was warm, they sent whatthey had prepared I should take, by their young daughter, of abouteleven years of age: after I had supped it, the child locked thedoor, and returned to her parents. I was blessed with fine slumberstill, about one or two o'clock in the morning, I was alarmed by astrange thundering noise at the door. I asked who was there; and whatthey would have? They answered they must and would come in; and,without assigning any other reason, they violently burst open thedoor. Being undrest, and all over in a sweat, in miserable pain, Ilooked in a woeful condition; when Mr. Crawford, one of the king'smessengers, took hold of my hands, and seized a pretty pistol thatlay near me, a pair of which I had procured, from Holland, as adefence against thieves or housebreakers, which was never afterreturned me: but the insolence of Kent, his companion, I could scarcebear, when, helping on my clothes, he went to search my pockets forwhat written papers he could find therein. I called him blockhead,and told him, had I been in another condition, I might, perhaps, havelaid him by the heels; at which he scornfully said, he never shouldfear a ghost, intimating that I seemed little better than a Spirit atthat time. Being obliged to submit, I only besought them to let meknow if their warrant specified any crime that I had done, for I wastruly insensible of any that could occasion such usage? They thentold me of an information lodged at the Secretary's office, beforeMr. De la Faye, about some lines concerning the imprisoned Bishop ofRochester, that had given offence, and which I should be, in time,made sensible of; but as I knew it was a notorious falsity, and, as Ithought, contrived by some wicked enemy, whom I partly guessed, Iinsisted no further, only desired, whilst I was fully dressingmyself, that, as they beheld me defenceless, without a family to lookafter my effects, they would be so good as to see the door fastenedwhich they had broken, so that I might not be robbed, during myconfinement, of what I had so honestly and painfully earned. This,indeed, they complied with, and descending the stairs with them, Ifound the passages below and the courtyard filled to the very gatewith constables, watchmen, and others, which called to my remembrancemy injured Saviour's apprehension in the garden of Gethsemane, whereHe, all innocence and divine, sweat drops of blood; but I, a poorsinful wretch, thought much, at this time, to feel what only seemedlike water. They made me get into a coach, which they ordered todrive towards Newgate; and coming near St. Sepulchre's church, I wasbrought to the pavement on the east side, into a publichouse, andplaced in a room with a guard at the door, so that I could not stir,but I was carefully attended by a grimlooked, ill-natured fellow.
My pains came to that extremity, that I was obliged to alleviatethem with a quartern of brandy; after which, I was amazed to find mymaster, Mr. Midwinter, brought in as a prisoner, and left with mealso. "What, sir," said I, "have they made me appear greater thanyou, by placing me first in the warrant for our apprehension? me, whoam but your servant, and, you know, has wrote nothing for you thislong time, except an abridgment of three volumes of 'Crusoe' intoone, or being otherwise employed in the affairs of printing only?"But we had not long communed, before others were brought in, and who,amongst the rest, but my beloved friend, Mr. Clifton, also! uponwhich, I observed a profound silence. But when we were to be carriedto Westminster, I besought the messenger that I might not be seatedin the same coach with him, but accompany Mr. Midwinter, which hegranted.
At length we arrived at Manchester court, where we found a veryfine house, with a centinel at the door; but within, though veryspacious, we felt the fusty smell of a prison. When I came into myapartment, it answered exactly, in the bigness and form, to that Ihad imagined in my dream: in the morning, I viewed on the staircase afine picture of St. Augustine, which, I judged, had once been theproperty of some state prisoner; I could, from the high window,behold the spacious river Thames, and hear the dashing of the flowingwaters against the walls that kept it within due bounds. Such apleasant prospect appeared from my humble back apartment, where I hada bed without curtains, a table, with a little looking glass, and achair to sit on; but in the next room, forward, was confined thatunhappy young Irish clergyman, Mr. Neypoe: unhappy gentleman indeed!through the reflections of the Bishop of Rochester, (how deserving Icannot tell,) as well as of the noted Mr. Dennys Kelly, then bothprisoners in the Tower. I used to hear him talk to himself, when hisraving fits came on; and now and then would he sing psalms with sucha melodious voice as produced both admiration and pity from me, whowas an object of commiseration myself, in being awhile debarred fromfriends to see me, or the use of pen, ink, and paper, to write tothem.
But scarce two days were past, when I was ordered to have myapartment changed to one below, more gloomy, but larger, where I hadopportunity to inquire, of the genteel and handsome maiden, Hannah,what was the reason of Mr. Neypoe's confinement: she told me it wassomething in a high degree relating to the Bishop of Rochester. Heremy friends were allowed to visit me, my bed was decently curtained,and softer, and my table handsomer spread. I had, afterwards, furtherliberties in the house and yard; and, after three days more, asnothing could be proved against me, I was honourably discharged.Immediately I took boat, I think it was from palaceyard stairs, inwhich my head seemed to be affected with a strange giddiness; andwhen I safely arrived at home, some of my kinder neighbours appearedvery joyful at my return. My poor linnet, whose death I very muchfeared would come to pass, saluted me with her long, pleasant,chirping notes, and, indeed, the pretty creature had occasion to bethe most joyful, for her necessary stock was almost exhausted, and Iwas come just in the critical time to yield her a fresh supply.
I had not been long at liberty before Mrs. Hannah, the messenger'smaid, by whom I was used very courteously, made me a visit, andacquainted me that the Rev. Mr. Neypoe was found dead in the Thames,as though he had been drowned. "When you left us," said she, "thehigh room you first was in was judged, by the messenger, to be thesecurest place to keep him from making an escape." "It's very strangeto me," said I, "if that was the reason; because I think no apartmentwas stronger than where he was confined, through the nails that I seedriven into some of the boards; nor any place fitter, from which hemight have been secured by the sentry at the door of the house, hadhe attempted to break from thence: but proceed, I pray." "Why," saidshe, "the evening before, I went up to wait on him, as usual, andfound him sitting on the bed in a very melancholy condition: he hadon his hands a new pair of white gloves, which, he supposed, wouldserve him till his funeral; and that he thought his death wasapproaching: that same night he tied the sheets and blankets fasttogether, and made all to the stancheon of the window; descending,without noise to wake us, from that vast height into the paved yard.He then must have climbed over the high walls, and passed over two orthree others, till he came to the river, into which descending,hoping, no doubt, it might not have been out of his depth, heexperienced the contrary, for there he was immerged and lost! Theneighbouring justice," added she, "made inquiry as if he had been onpurpose made away with; but it coming to nothing but a noise, thecorpse was interred." Thus ended the maiden, Hannah, whom I went tosee afterwards, but never could find her. But I often pitied the poorgentleman's fate, because, if he had lived, he might have defendedhis reputation, which was so bitterly inveighed against by thelearned Bishop I have mentioned, as well as by the speech of hiscountryman, Mr. Kelly, the year after; for a nation has a right to besatisfied on such important occasions.
My stock of goods growing larger by my careful industry, I movedinto the next house, where I set up my press and letters in a lightroom that was adjoining to the garden of the fleet prison, where thegentlemen prisoners took their diversion; and here I published,truly, some things relating to the Bishop, worked by hired servants,that made some amends for what I had suffered through wronginformation on his account; and whilst I pleased the people by anartful taking title, I strove to instil into them the principles ofloyalty, love, and obedience. Thus I helped an under class of myfellow creatures by keeping servants on occasion, and Mr. Midwinter,as a servant, by my constancy in his business; though, I confess, thefatigue was exceedingly great, and almost above what I could manage.I imagined that, after some little time, things would so fall out,that I should have occasion to invite my dear to London; but oneSunday morning, as my shoes were japanning by a little boy, at theend of the lane, there came Mr. John Hoyle, who had been a long timein a messenger's custody on suspicion for reprinting " Vox Populi,Vox Dei," under direction of Mrs. Powell, whom he wrought with asjourneyman: "Mr. Gent," said he, "I have been to York to see myparents, and am but just, as it were, returned to London; I amheartily glad to see you, but sorry to tell, that you have lost yourold sweetheart, for I assure you, that she is really married to yourrival, Mr. Bourne." I was so thunderstruck, that I could scarcelyreturn an answer: all former thoughts crowding into my mind; theconsideration of spending my substance on a business I would not haveengaged in as a master but for her sake, my own remissness that hadoccasioned it, and withal, that she could not, in such a case, bemuch blamed for mending her fortune: all these threw me under a verydeep concern, and occasioned me to misjudge on many occasions. My oldvein of poetry flowed in upon me, which gave some vent to my passion;so I wrote a copy of verses, agreeing to the tune of "Such Charms hasPhillis," &c., then much in request, and proper for the flute,that I became acquainted with. When I had done, as I did not carethat Mr. Midwinter should know of my great disappointment, I gave thecopy, except the last stanza, to Mr. Dodd, who, printing the same,sold thousands of them, for which he offered me a price; but as itwas on my own proper concern, I scorned to accept of any thing,except a glass of comfort or so, and became so gracious with him andhis spouse, that if I did not often visit them, they were offended.Yet here I perceived something in matrimony that might have weaned mefrom affection that way; for this couple often jarred for verytrifling occasions, as I thought; she would twit him with a formerlover of his, and this jealousy of hers would just drive him tomadness. Once he threw a thing at her, which struck me in theforehead, and set me bleeding, with which they both appeared mightilyconcerned, and craved pardon, which I readily granted, though I camenot so frequently afterward; but one time, taking notice of a stonering on my finger, in which was some of my dear mother's hair, sherequested, that if I died first, I might bequeath it to her: "Pray,madam," said I, "and what, on the like consideration of death, willyou please to leave me?" "This pretty picture of Narcissus," answeredshe, "which my own hands painted on the glass." To this we agreed,only speaking to her husband: "My dear," said she, "if I die first,pray let it be handsomely framed, and delivered, for my sake, to Mr.Gent." The dear creature shortly after fell ill; so bad that,expecting death, she earnestly desired that I would receive theblessed sacrament with her; though unworthy, I could not refuse it;but the parson, being brought from a coffeehouse, was extremelyill-natured, quarrelled with the nurse about the cleanliness of acup, and, having administered it, hoped that she would die inpleasure, without giving him much more trouble. Her devotion inreceiving it was extraordinary; she embraced the heavenly viaticum ina degree of transport, and she had the good nature not to answer hisindifferent speech at departure. It was not long before she sweetlydeparted this life: I saw her coffin when brought home, which indeedwas very handsome; but I thought it strange that her lovely corpse(for she was a beautiful young gentlewoman,) should be laid thereinby the joiner's servants, whilst the unconcerned husband and hisrelations were joyfully carousing belowstairs. She was buried in St.Bride's churchyard; and before my acquaintance ceased with him, hedelivered me the picture, handsomely framed, which I now keep in mybedchamber. I made him no more visits, because I did not know if theymight be acceptable; especially I thought it prudent to omit themwhen I heard of his sudden new marriage, little thinking that Ishould afterwards become her servant: she was a neat person, daughterto a sea captain, who had her educated at the boarding school atHackney. She was a widow, left with a pretty son, when Mr. Doddmarried her, who only lived till he also had a child by her; and onhis deathbed desired, if possible, she might procure me as ajourneyman to manage the business, which came to pass, as towards thesequel of the first part of my life will appear.
It was, as near as I can remember, about the beginning of the year1723, when Mr. Midwinter ordered me to paper up all the printingletters, in so extraordinary a manner that is seldom or never donebut with a design of removal to move off, and prevent a seizure fordebt. I implicitly obeyed, without the least inquiry why he did it,but I was not so blind as not to perceive the drift, nor well pleasedthat others were acquainted with the secret, and my fidelitymistrusted; but as I had a sincere respect for him, I kept all withinmy breast, till I knew the carts were to come in the night time, andcarry all away into the Mint; then it was I took my little box, inwhich I had my own necessaries, and several pounds in silver, for Inever trusted all my money in one place, I had put an hundred poundsout to use in Ireland, the interest of which I allowed to my dearparents, who were my faithful stewards; but Mr. Midwinter falling outwith me, as I had it privately under my coat lap, fearing it shouldbe lost, gave me some uneasiness, before I could get liberty toconvey it to my own lodgings. "Sir," said I, "you never need fear anydiscovery through me: your misfortune becomes mine, since, I know, Iam never to serve you any more; but I always dreaded such a parting,which never was through any fault of mine, nor do I impute it toyours, but your misfortune, not to be described, since, by thismeans, our mistress is separated from you too, in being sent home toher father, or, as I hear, will soon be." He looked fiercely sullenat me, neither paying my accustomary wages, or requiring myattendance the next day, as he had done others. This I took veryunkindly, but thought it my duty to submit, except in privatelymoving off my own, without the least intention of hurt, nor was therein that the least occasion of fear, it being a very dark night.However, I waited upon him at his new habitation in the Mint, onMonday, where I found him so strange that he would scarcely speak tome: God forgive the wretch who made the difference! I think I haveguessed him; and if so, I lent him what he never had the honesty topay. As I found my master not willing I should so much as look intothe house, for fear, I suppose, I should learn how to order my ownmaterials, as I afterwards heard, I turned about to depart; but toldhim, that his coldness was more grievous to me than any woefulprospect I could conceive. He said it could not be helped: I said Iwished him and his all imaginary happiness, and that what I came forwas, purely to crown our separation in a friendly manner. "Nay," saidhe, "rather for the money I owe you." "For that," I answered, "youare heartily welcome to, and more, sir, if you please, since I haveearned sufficiently in your service." "Why then," said he, "it shallnot be said that your old master, though now a Minter, shall now beoutdone in point of generosity:" and so, obliging me to go into analehouse, he gave me my money to a farthing, with as kind wishes as Iused to him; "Though," added he, "I must act against you in trade, asthe world, through necessity, obliges most people to do, even amongstthe nearest relations." Thus parting, I became quite out ofsubjection to any master.
Being near Kent street, I thought it proper to visit my newrelations: but alas! they, too, were flown in the Mint, from whence Iwas but just come. Strange vicissitudes in life! and happy asylum,thought I, for the distressed! I sought and found my poor cousin sickin bed of a fever, his spouse attending him, and their numerous goodshuddled together in very little room: having mutually comforted eachother, I went to my apartments, and put my goods in better order. Iprinted a collection of songs proper for the summer's entertainment:a little book of Emblems, and a "Preparation for Death," kept me atwork for some months after, with bills for the cockpits, which weredone twice a week; but business failing, and journeywork being briskin great houses, I applied to Mr. Henry Woodfall, who readilyaccepted me, and I helped to finish the part that he had of a learnedDictionary.
Whilst with him, I got servants of my own to print, at my press,"the Bishop of Rochester's Effigy," to which were added someinoffensive verses that pleased all parties, which sold very well.When I finished what Mr. Woodfall had to do, I kept at home a littlewhile, and was sent for again, with whom I continued till thebanishment of the aforesaid prelate, and the execution of CounsellorLayer: on whose few dying words I formed observations in nature of alarge speech, and had a run of sale for about three dayssuccessively, which obliged me to keep in my own apartments, theunruly hawkers being ready to pull my press in pieces for the goods.After the hurry was over, I returned to my master, and continuingsome time, he, one morning, told me that, the night before, being inthe club of master printers of the higher class, he laughed heartilyupon my account. "Pray, why so, sir!" said I; "how came I to be thetheme?" "Why," said he, "has not that fellow, Sam Negus, put youamongst the catalogue of masters, and placed you in Pye Corner?"["GENT, Pye Corner," occurs among the printers, whom Negusdenominates "High flyers." The list may be seen in "LiteraryAnecdotes of the Eighteenth Century," vol. i. pp.289, 312.JH]"It's like his blunders," said I; "but how came he to print such acatalogue?" "Why," replied he, "the creature, who is now set up as amaster himself, is not satisfied, but wants to be messenger of thepress; so that he has exhibited what printing houses there are inEngland to the Secretary of State, to shew his readiness to visitthem, provided he is furnished with authority and profit; he hasmentioned who he thought were of high or low principles, but is sadlymistaken, for he has called whigs tories, and tories whigs, aswretched in calculations as Sir John Wronghead in his vote; and I'llassure you, Mr. Gent, that you're amongst the tories." "'Tis throughsuch a rascal as him," answered I, " that I was made a stateprisoner; but has he obtained his ends?" "No," said Mr. Woodfall,"the Secretary, laughing at the list, bantered Mr. Watts with what ahopeful company there was of the profession, and gave him a copy,which being brought into Wild court, the men joyfully put it to thepress, and dispersed the paltry petition, too much honoured by thenames of creditable persons he had traduced, throughout the membersof the profession, that so the vile wretch might be justly exposed.""He well deserved it!" thought I, and so dropt him.
Our business not being so brisk as usual, I returned to my ownapartments; and, joining in work with a master in the Fleet, printedsome small pieces on religion. An old schoolfellow, who had studiedphysic in foreign parts, and really commenced doctor, John Greev,M.D. having found me out, invited me to his house, near the Minories.I dined with him and his spouse, who had lately borne him a prettyinfant: and King George the First returning from Germany, I printedfor him this year (1724) an ode thus intituled, " Ad CæsaremBritannicum e Germaniâ redeuntem Ode; Londini, typisThomæ Gent, in vico vulgo dicto Fleet lane, pro usu Authoris,ann. 1724." After this, Mr. Woodfall was so kind to recommend me tothe ingenious Mr. Richardson, in Salisbury court; with whom I staidto finish his part of the Dictionary which he had from thebooksellers, composed of English, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. On myreturn home, I adventured to do a book of Emblems, in duodecimo,imitating the learned Hermanius Hugo, of the order of the Holy Jesus;and Mr. Hotham, on London bridge, being partner, we ventured to printoff a thousand, which, at this time, seem to be near sold off. This,I think, was the last work I did of any great consequence in London:and, having little to do at home, I wrought in the house of Mrs.Susannah Collins, an ancient gentlewoman, who lived near me, in Blackand White Court, in the Old Bailey. For some weeks, I lived in greatfelicity, for I found the art of gaining her temper. She had a wickedson, called Master John, who, contracting debts by his extravagantliving, was thrown into the Counter: she, good gentlewoman,forgetting how he once sued her for some legacy, almost to anexcommunication, had pity for him, who had not the least regard forher. She gave me money to release him, which, with some difficulty, Idid, from that close prison; and took the loathsome wretch from hisfilthy bed on the ground, in a coach with me home. It was greatProvidence that, in the unpleasant action, I became not smitten withthe jail distemper that he was then afflicted with; considering that,a little afterwards, it fell to his aged mother's lot, and then awicked maidservant took opportunity to make off with some of herriches, and particularly a gold repeating watch, with all the costlytrinkets about it; but, whilst sailing in a boat, towards Gravesend,the striking thereof alarmed a gentleman that was therein, who,perceiving her person nor habit to agree with so rich a prize,command the boatman to land near the next town, carried her before ajustice, to whom she confessed the whole matter, was, by habeascorpus, brought to Newgate, at the sessions received condemnation todeath, but through the goodness of her mistress, languishing on herdeathbed, she was sent beyond the sea; after which, Madam Collinsdeparted this mortal life, it was on Sunday the 2nd of June; andabout two days after, was interred in the west end of St. Sepulchre'schurch, near the north aisle; I believe, near the body of the deputyof the ward, her once affectionate husband. The executors continuedme in their service, at twenty shillings per week, in bringing thematerials from their confused condition, and helping to weigh theletters, in order to make a division of the substance amongst them,and cease their jarring disagreements. After which, I was paid veryhonestly, and honourably discharged, which set me once more atliberty, either to contrive business in my own habitation, or else towork as a journeyman with others.
And now it happened, that the widow of the late Mr. Dodd, who haddesired, on his deathbed, to get me to assist her wheneveropportunity served, wanted a person to manage her printing business.Mr. Richard Purser, whom I used to employ, informed me of it; andthat she was willing to allow what others had given me. Indeed, I hadformed an intention to dispose of my materials, since I wasdisappointed of my first love; and, therefore, was more willing toenter into the service of this gentlewoman. Accordingly, I made myapplication, to which she readily consented. I found the printingoffice in great confusion; but, by hard working, convinced her thatshe did not part with her money in vain. Indeed, she was a mostagreeable person, and I thought her worthy of the best of spouses:for, sure, there never could be a finer economist, or sweeter motherto her dear children, whom she kept exceedingly decent. I have dinedwith her, but then, as in reason, I allowed what was fitting for mymeals; and her conversation, agreeably to her fine education, almostwounded me with love, and, at the same time, commanded a becomingreverence. What made her excellent carriage the more endearing was,that I now must never expect to behold my first love at York; thoughI heard, by travellers, that not only she, but her husband used toinquire after me. Indeed, I was sensible that Mr. Bourne, though alikely young man, was not one of the most healthful persons, but farfrom imagining otherwise than that he might have outlived me, whothen was worn almost to a shadow. But see the wonderful effects ofDivine Providence in all things!
It was one Sunday morning that Mr. Philip Wood, a quondam partnerat Mr. Midwinter's, entering my chambers, where I sometimes used toemploy him too, when slack of business in other places, "Tommy," saidhe, "all these fine materials of yours must be moved to York:" atwhich, wondering, "What mean you?" said I. "Aye," said he, "and youmust go too, without it's your own fault; for your first sweetheartis now at liberty, and left in good circumstances by her dear spouse,who deceased but of late." "I pray heaven," answered I "that hisprecious soul may be happy; and, for aught I know, it may be as yousay, for indeed I think I may not trifle with a widow, as I haveformerly done with a maid." I made an excuse to my mistress, that Ihad business in Ireland, but that I hoped to be at my own lodgings inabout a month's time; if not, as I had placed every thing in order,she might easily, by any other person, carry on the business. But shesaid, she would not have any beside me in that station I enjoyed;and, therefore, should expect my return to her again: but,respectfully taking leave, I never beheld her after; though, I heard,she was after very indifferently married. I had taken care that mygoods should be privately packed up, and hired a little warehouse toput them in, ready to be sent, by sea or land, to where I shouldorder; and I pitched upon Mr. Campbell, my fellow traveller, as myconfidant in this affair, desiring my cousins to assist him; all ofwhom I took leave of at the Black Swan in Holborn, where I had paidmy passage, in the stagecoach, which brought me to York in four days'time. Here I found my dearest once more, though much altered to whatshe was about ten years before, that I had not seen her: there was noneed for new courtship; but decency suspended the ceremony ofmarriage for some time. I wrote to her uncle, Mr. White, atNewcastle; but he, having more his own interest at heart than ourgood, not only was very much against us, but did all that was in hispower to keep us asunder: however, acquainting my parents with mydesign, they did not think fit to contradict my inclinations, butsent me their blessing. My goods being safely arrived from London,added greatly to the former printing house; but very bad servantsoccasioned great uneasiness to me. However, I continued peaceableagainst all opposition of her uncle, or those who unjustly castreflections upon my being a stranger; till my dearest, at length,considering the ill consequences of delay in her business, as well asthe former ties of love that passed innocently between us, by wordand writing, gave full consent to have the nuptials celebrated, whichwere performed that very day of the late Archbishop's installation[Launcelot Blackburne, D.D. formerly Bishop of Exeter. TG],by the Rev. Mr. Knight, being the 10th of December, in the statelycathedral, dedicated to St. Peter.
THE learned Bishop Pearson has given a rhetorical abridgment ofthe life of man, from the time of weaning till under the rigiddiscipline of the rod, either by parents at home, or teachers in theschools; and might have added, the often too severe usage in longapprenticeships; above which, he ascends to that of a master, whom hewittily styles but as a servant general to his family: an office fullof trouble, not to mention all those griefs that accompany usbesides, through the strange vicissitudes that attend it,intermingled especially with the most serious thoughts of futurity,according as we do our duty.
From the late condition of a servant, was I changed to be amaster! from a citizen of London, so much esteemed for urbanity, wasbecome, through the virtue of twenty-seven pounds, the like at York;but over such servants that, becoming reluctant to my new authority,gave me exceeding great trouble in my proceedings, as they had donebefore to their too kind mistress, by neglect, in the time of herwidowhood. What concerned me too was, that I found her temper muchaltered from that sweet natural softness, and most tender affection,that rendered her so amiable to me while I was more juvenile, and shea maiden. Not less sincere, I must own, but with that presumptive airand conceited opinion, like Mrs. Day, in the play of "The Committee,"that made me imagine an epidemical distemper reigned among the goodwomen, which too often unreasonably prevailed, even to ruinthemselves and families, or if prevented by Divine Providence,frequently proved the sad cause of great contention and disquietude.However, as I knew I was but then a novice in the intricate laws ofmatrimony, and that nothing but a thorough annihilation candisentangle or break that chain which oft produces a strangeconcatenation for future disorders, I endeavoured to comply with asort of stoical resolution, to some very harsh rules that, otherwise,would have grated my human understanding. For as, by this change, Ihad given a voluntary wound to my wonted liberty, now attacked in themaintenance partly of pretended friends, spunging parasites, andflatterers, who imposed on good nature to our great damage; so, inthis conjugal captivity, as I may term it, I was fully resolved,likewise in a Christian sense, to make my yoke as easy as possible,thereby to give no offence to custom or law of any kind. The tenderaffection that a good husband naturally has to the wife of his bosomis such, as to make him often pass by the greatest insults that canbe offered to human nature: such, I mean, are the senseless provokingarguments that can be used by the latter against the interest of theformer, who is mostly concerned in defence for her safety, who willnot be awoke from delusion till poverty appears, shews theingratitude of false friends in prosperity, and brings her to sadrepentance in adversity: she then will wish she had been foreseeingas her husband, when it is too late; condemn her foolish credulity,and abhor those who have caused her to differ from the sentiments ofher truest friend, whose days she has embittered with the mostundutiful aggravations, to render every thing uncomfortable tohim.
My dear's uncle, White, as he called himself, kept a printingoffice at Newcastle-on-Tyne, where, having had no opposer, he heapedup riches in abundance; and yet so greedy of more, that, before ourmarriage, he offered my dear, his niece, fifty pounds a year toresign the materials and all that she was worth in stock to hismanagement. The wretch (for so I call him) was formerly so muchmistrusted by his own father, that he would not trust my predecessorto his proffered courtesy, but provided for him in his will: soobnoxious to his mother-in-law, Mrs. White, that she left him butlittle, or next to nothing; so disregarded by his nephew, that mydear could scarcely, through her good nature, prevail with him,whilst dying, to bequeath him his watch, cane, and about sevenguineas, which she thought, perhaps, might induce him to futurekindness towards her; but she ungratefully found the contrary, andhad better reason to have kept it. He had done all he could toprevent our marriage, and breathed forth little else than the mostdestructive opposition against us; giving, as it were, a sanction tohis malice, that what he intended was truly for the good of hisfamily, which every honest man ought to regard antecedently superiorto all other motives; that nieceship was now inconsistent with hisinterest: and told me plainly, that he would oppose me in all mydoings to the very utmost of his power: though I had made it plainlyappear that he need not esteem me so contemptible a person as he did,being sprung from reputable people, was a citizen of several cities,that I was not only free from debt but, by my great industry, hadcleared about two hundred pounds. But what I said was disregarded;and nothing but a melancholy prospect of future diskindnesses wasplaced before my eyes; though my circumstances, I think, were as goodas those of his niece, my spouse, who had a house, indeed, thateastward, next the bookseller's in Stonegate, held very precariously;which was, very unhappily, in the year 1723, the remainder of aprebendal lease, in the possession of Joseph Leach, a singing man,maker of starch, and sheriff of this city; which cost above twohundred pounds, (I think two hundred and two pounds ten shillings,)which was daily in danger of being lost, through the falling lives ofpeople, whose names had been long inserted therein. An hundred poundswas borrowed of Francis Barrowby, an attorney, who drew the deeds,and who proved himself either fool or knave, or both, in promotingsuch a bargain; because, being prevented in the renewal, there wasgreat danger of losing the whole in a little time; and did not getwhat was laid out during the fifteen years, &c. it was enjoyed,the interest of which would have yielded about one hundred and fiftypounds, and their principal secured; not to mention the variousrepairs, which cost considerable sums, and the disappointment ofdwelling therein, to be freed from those wicked landladies thatendeavoured to distress them by raising their rents.
Here I found a newspaper printed, but utterly spoiled by beingcompiled by a meanspirited, self-conceited Quaker, whom I discharged;but who had the wicked conscience to extort from me for half a year'sservice that way, pretending an engagement for it, though I performedthe labour; and afterwards proved but a very sorry friend, if not anenemy. The servants, who were most ungovernable before our marriage,proved but very little better after, though I used them with thegreatest lenity; they loitered away the time, were quite idle in myabsence, and betrayed their malignity by bitter aspersions, sounworthy to many of our London youth, that I became sorry almost todeath that I was ever placed over such incorrigible wretches.
1725. My dear parents, who approved of my marriage, growing veryancient, desired once more to see me, and to deliver into my ownhands what money I had intrusted them with. I yielded to theirdesire, with the consent of my spouse, who was pretty far gone withchild; and, riding to Liverpool, I could find no ship but one, boundfor Ireland, a little vessel, commanded by a native of Portugal, whohad no other hands but those of a French lad, his apprentice, andanother tolerable sailor; in a vessel very tight, but too little andunfit, as she was heavy laden with earthenware, for those troublesomeseas. However, we sailed pretty well the first day; and, at night, Iwas mightily taken with the harmonious voice of the French lad, whowas guiding the helm, and singing really as delightfully as the poetshave feigned of the melodious syrens of the Sicilian seas. The nextday, as we approached nearer the Hill of Houth, a storm arose, whichput us in exceeding danger, for want of sufficient number of sailors.The captain feeling a terrible squall of wind, as he called it, saidhe, "if such another comes quickly, we shall be all overturned andlost!" and a little after, he called to us under deck to prepare fordeath. This caused tears to trickle down some of our cheeks; for,indeed, the ship so terribly rolled, with such violence, from oneside to the other, and the waters dashing in so fast, that we weremore terrified every moment with fear of being overwhelmed.
The passengers, beside me, were two women, one of them a Quaker,and a youth from Yorkshire, who said his intention was to apply for agentleman's service. "Captain," said I, "don't despair, in God'sname, and I'll help you as long as I am able." I got up, and did sohard labour at the pump, that I was in a lather with sweat, andfrequently nigh covered with the waves. At length, being near spent,I besought some of them to call the young man, to ease me a little;but they told me he was very sick in the bed, and could not rise, norwould he lay down his beads, but resolved to continue earnest in hisdevotions to the last: upon which, taking breath, I reassumed my latepost, till my hands were piteously blistered; but, unwilling to bewashed away, I was resolved that the ship should serve for my coffinas well as others. As I was descending, the good woman who owned theearthenware, desired me to have them thrown overboard, that our livesmight be saved; but we, more profitably for her, judged otherwise;and at last, our distress being espied from afar, some skilful pilotscame, in a large boat, to our relief. We then cast anchor, as theydirected; drank a cheeruping glass, congratulated each other on ourhappy deliverance, rallied the captain for his timidity, andpatiently heard the good Quaker woman deliver such a sermon as madeus conclude she was filled with inspiration.
Thus pleasantly we continued, till the tide began to flow towardsthe shore. "Captain," said the pilot, "had you persisted whilst thetide was against you, an hundred to one but, as night came on, youwould have certainly been lost, not knowing where to cast anchor; butnow, I thank God, you are safe for this voyage. I suppose you wasnever on this coast before; and I am very glad that it was my fortuneto help a stranger." Then we sweetly sailed into the bay; and,entering into a large river, walled north and south, we viewed thepleasant town of Ringsend; and, soon after, landed upon Aston's Key,from whence, once more, I visited the house of my parents. I wasinvited to lodge at my rich sister Standish's, but not thinking toleave my dear father and mother while I stayed, I had a bed spread onthe floor, near beside them. Besides this, as I heard that death hadremoved my beautiful fair niece, Anne Standish, I was less mindful ofvisiting the family; though I paid them all other respect that couldbe expected, and was acceptable to my nephew, who belonged to TrinityCollege, and is now a clergyman in the north of Ireland. My mother Ifound languishing upon her deathbed, and my poor father but in a weakcondition; but what added to my grief was, that they were surrounded,as it were, by my sister Clark's unruly children. I continued withthem about a fortnight, in which time I bought a quantity of linencloth, as thinking it the best commodity I could dispose of inEngland.
Whilst I was thus employed, I received a letter from my spouse,that her villanous uncle being come again from Newcastle, was settingup, against us, a printing office, with one Robert Ward; and,therefore, she desired my quick return. I was then truly amazed atthe knave's treachery, who, not long before, had desired mycorrespondence as a relation; which being granted, caused him, inwriting, to approve of my dutiful behaviour. I now perceived, as itwere, that the axe was laid to the root of my tree of life, to fellit down; or, at least, a wedge was driven that in time, by continuedstrokes, might split our needy affairs into pieces. I took shippingas soon as possible; but, while my goods were putting into stowage, Iwas much insulted, in a public house on the quay, by one Taylor, apragmatic, drunken, and quarrelsome tinner, without any occasion, forwhich God forgive him. I entered into a far better ship than before;the master a stout comely man, and furnished with able sailors. Ourvoyage was very pleasant till we reached High Lake; and being, bystress of weather, obliged to anchor against the town, a seizure wasmade of some brandy, by the hardhearted officer; who took even whatbelonged to the poor apprentices, whose tears at that sad partingcould not cause in him the least remorse of conscience. But atLiverpool we met with kinder usage; where I was very fortunate ingetting my goods despatched away by the carrier, who was just settingout for York, and left me a brave strong horse to ride home atpleasure.
I had not rode above a few miles from the town but, overtaking agood looking countryman, and falling into discourse, I asked him whatnews was stirring? who answered "Sir, l know of nothing more orgreater than that, this day, (November 3rd, 1725), is to be hangedthe greatest rogue in England, called Jonathan Wild." I had seen thatthiefcatcher several times about the Old Bailey in London; andparticularly took notice of him when he rode triumphantly, withpistols before the criminals, whilst conveying to the place ofexecution; I hated him, because John Monk, my fellow apprentice, wasseduced to become in his book, whom, peradventure, he would havehanged also, if a violent fever had not sent him to IslingtonChurchyard, to the alternate grief and joy of his aged father, as Ihave mentioned in the first part of my life. I thought the justjudgment of the vindictive hand of fate was fallen upon the guiltywretch, so characterised in the Beggar's Opera, by the name ofInforming Peachum, which will remain indelible to future ages; and Iheard he was pelted by the populace to the place of execution: sothose fleaing rascals, the surgeons, as the same piece styles them,stole his corpse from its grave, in St. Pancras's churchyard, inwhich sacred ground it seemed unfit he should be interred amongstmany noble and pious personages.
The next day I continued my journey so briskly that, about twelveo'clock at night, I arrived at my house in York, to the great joy ofmy spouse, who told me that her barbarous uncle had dined with her inmy absence; which shewed the fellow was a perfect compound ofnonsense, villainy, hypocrisy, and impudence. His full maliceappeared a little after, for he actually joined with the aforesaidWard, who had been his father's footboy, but, having married a wifewith a fortune, had bought a press, with other materials, in order toset up a master printer. They published a newspaper, which whilstthey cried up, almost in the same breath they ran down mine with thateager bitterness of spirit which they had instilled into them, inwhich they were assisted by a relation, brother to his wife, withsuch a strange phiz, by a piked nose, fallen mouth, and projectingchin, that had he been likewise graced with a tail, would have madeas complete a monkey as Asia, Africa, or America, nay, the wholeworld could produce.
His business was to go to the houses of my customers, andsubstituting his papers in the room of what I sent; and the prices ofgoods were lowered by one third, supposing their riches in Newcastlewould support them through all expenses, whilst they endeavoured toruin me at York. A melancholy reflection, to find that my marriagehad made me as criminal as a person guilty of the greatest demerits;and that nothing appeared but a gloomy prospect of rage and power Iwas to struggle with, in order to preserve me and mine from seemingdestruction! What a vast disparity was now from my former condition!in London, enjoying plenty of business, and beloved by the best;oppressed in York, and, as it were, prosecuted by a tyrannicalvillain; and that, too, after I had paid for a freedom, in order fora settlement, to be turned out, with scorn, as the worst ofvagabonds! and this, too, by wretches that were inferior to me, ashave been since proved in various respects, as have been apparent tothe world. But it was not long before his partner, Ward, failed fordebt; and was glad to become my journeyman, whom I screened, thoughhe had threatened my ruin.
On Sunday the 10th of October, 1725, my dear spouse was happilybrought to bed of a son, whom I had gotten privately baptizedCharles, by the Rev. Mr. Dingley, and publicly, in the cathedral, bythe Rev. Mr. Knight, at the font which then stood at the west end ofthe nave, near the venerable remains of Archbishop Melton. Mr.Lambert, a gentleman of the spiritual court, and Mr. Dowbiggin,schoolmaster, of Thornton, near Pickering, were godfathers; thoughone Mr. Bateman, another schoolmaster, stood for the latter, byproxy. It proved a beautiful child as possibly our eyes could havebeheld; but, unhappily, was taken with convulsion fits. One Sunday,in particular, as just going to eat our dinner, (to which Mr. Wardand his wife were invited,) the child was suddenly taken, and turnedas black as ebony itself; but, on its recovery, like the sunappearing through a cloud, all the charms of infant lovelinessreturned, and the features of an angel, which he was soon to be,resumed their wonted place in his amiable countenance. The Sundayfollowing, having such another fit, all the assistance possible wasadministered on so mournful an occasion. I wished for its life, andyet I scarce knew well why; I was not very sorry to think of itsdeath, considering what it might have been exposed to, throughoppression of its woeful parents by the villain aforesaid, who wasplotting our ruin to his utmost power, as that of his partner, myjourneyman, Ward; whom I took, on horseback, August l9th, 1726,privately behind me to Hull, where I saw him on board a ship ridingin the Humber.
A servant of mine, being corrupted to print an unstampednewspaper, one that had been stamped was taken from a customer'shouse, and the spurious one put into its place; of which, informationwas made to William Thompson, esq. that I had acted contrary to actof parliament, and incurred a penalty of fifty pounds. A search wasmade after more of them, but they were found stamped; yet I was sentfor, and, knowing my innocence, my just anger rose in proportion tomy sudden surprise. Mr. Carty, the lord mayor's clerk, perceiving meabused, examined the matter with the greatest scrutiny; and, onstamped paper, the following testimonials were exhibited:
William Bradley, apprentice to Thomas Gent, of the city of York,printer; John Macferson and William Nost, printers and journeymen tothe said Thomas Gent; and Mary Pybus, spinster, his servant; jointlyand severally make oath: and, first, the said William Bradley andJohn Macferson, for themselves, say and depose that they wereservants to, and lived in the house of, the said Mr. Gent, someconsiderable time before he received the instructions from the Stampoffice, to print his news upon stamped paper; and that, since hisreceiving the said instructions or orders, he was very exact, notonly as to himself, but also in giving these deponents frequentorders and strict charge to yield all due obedience to the saidinstructions, by printing the news upon stamped paper. And,accordingly, these deponents never printed any newspapers for thesaid Thomas Gent, to be sold or published, but what were duly stampedaccording to the directions contained in the said instructions.Neither did he himself print or publish any news, to the privity orknowledge of these deponents, but what were duly stamped, asaforesaid.
And this deponent, William Nost, deposeth that, since his enteringupon the said Mr. Gent's service, he has observed the said Mr. Gent'ssingular care and vigilance was very extraordinary, lest that anynews should pass the press unstamped, and his frequent givingdirections, as aforesaid .
And this deponent, Mary Pybus, heard her said master, Mr. Gent,frequently repeat his directions concerning the said news, asaforesaid; so great was his care in relation to the stamping of them:from all which, all these deponents, William Bradley, John Macferson,William Nost, and Mary Pybus, verily and sincerely believe that thesaid Mr. Gent never printed any news other than upon stamped papersince he received the foregoing instructions; and that he neverdefrauded, or intended to defraud his majesty of any part of the saidduty; and that if a single sheet escaped, or came out of the pressunstamped, it was intended for a proof sheet, and for no other use;and that if any such sheet came out of the printing house, itproceeded from the indiscretion of some of the servants at the press;who, through inadvertency, may carry the same in their pockets, whenuseless to Mr. Gent. And the deponent John Macferson, saith that hehath frequently carried such sheets in his pocket, with no other viewthan to light a pipe of tobacco; and that one night, meeting withTelpha, servant to Mr. John White, printer, he believes he gave himone of the said proof sheets, or other sheet, which this deponentprinted for his own use, to keep for the use aforesaid, or to disposeof it as he thought fit, a thing too common with journeymen.
By this it very plainly appears that Scotch Macpherson, myjourneyman, printed the paper unstamped, unknown to me, and gave itto Telpha, the Scot, White's journeyman. The two latter, the alehousewoman Mrs. Reynoldson told me, came to her house, and White asked fortheir newspaper, and privately changed the unstamped one for it; nodoubt burning the right one, and making an information with what wasas false as themselves were villainous.
White denied his having all hand in it; but Mr. Thompson told me,it was from one that was related to me, and yet my greatest enemy!And who could this be but White? in which, if he had proceeded, Imight have brought the fellow's ears to prove my innocence, whothought to have forced me to London, before the commissioners. Suchalmost nefandous usage, stirred up Mr. Carty to write the followingparagraph of my vindication, in the news, which I thus exactlytranscribe.
YORK, Feb. 6th, 1725. From an attempt lately made upon me, I thinkmyself obliged to beg my pardon and attention whilst I inform them ofthe misfortune which I am now likely to labour under; and which, Ihope, may be applied by them severally, in some degree, to afavorable sense of me. Since I came into this city, I do not know anyperson I have offended in word or deed; and such was, and still shallbe my desire and inclination to preserve and keep myself free fromoffence. Yet one dangerous and designing enemy unjustly endeavours,as much as possible, to circumvent me in my business, and transplantme from my place of settlement. And his efforts herein, notsubsisting altogether with his emulation, he had recourse to animaginary and more powerful frightful remedy, to terrify me with theapproaching or ensuing fatal effects of it; and, consequently, makeme fly, and thereby gain his ends. And in order to this, has beenvery dexterous and artful in the contrivance of his malicious andpreconcerted design, by charging me with an information of havingdefrauded his majesty of a duty of one halfpenny, imposed byParliament upon the single newspapers, or mercuries, sold andpublished by me; and this, with a view of drawing upon me thedispleasure of the government, and subject me thereby, to the penaltyof fifty pounds, limited by Act of Parliament, for such fraud. Imust, therefore, acquaint my readers and the public that, since theprohibition I received in this behalf, I have complied, and stillshall comply, with the tenour and meaning of the Act aforesaid; so asnot to print, or direct to be printed, or knowingly suffered orpermitted to be printed, or sold, or received money for, or publishedany newspapers since the receipt of the prohibition above mentioned,any other than what were duly stamped, according to the meaning ofthe said Act.
And for the truth whereof, I appeal to Heaven, and to the personswho are pleased to favour me with their custom, and who, when theways by tempestuous storms, were rendered unpassable, were deprivedof being supplied with the news by me, for want of stamps beingbrought to me, according to my expectation, as well as the depositionof my servant and journeymen, taken before a proper person, recitingmy constant charge and direction to them, from time to time, to becautious and exact not to print any news but upon stamps; and whichthey have sworn they have accordingly. And yet, after all this, mydesigning adversary, has found a single sheet unstamped at a publichouse, as he says, which may be a proof sheet, carried by one of myservants, inadvertently, in his pocket; or, by chance, misplaced; or,by corruption, obtained by him; which could not be very difficult,when the integrity of servants is not altogether to be relied on inthis age. And thus is the thunderingbolt of his prosecution foundedand balanced. And as none but my adversary, who by the foregoingmatter, may be easily guessed, and hereafter shall be fully known indue time, could discern or find out this fraudulent contrivance ofmine; I hope his judicious observation will furnish him with betterreasons, and arguments more prevalent, than his quickening spirit ofspleen and malice can suggest to justify him. From what has beensaid, I hope it will appear that the ruin of me, my wife, and family,is the only scope and design aimed at by this information; all hisother underhand means proving weak and abortive.
Lastly, I humbly beseech my readers, to prevent this designingman's gaining more of his ends over me, to secure the person whoshall bring, sell, or publish any news unstamped in my name; and thathe, my said adversary, would seriously consider how every honest manwill censure him for endeavouring to force an innocent person fromhis spouse and family by such unaccountable ways, and unchristianproceedings.
P.S. Any other might, notwithstanding the utmost precaution, bemade liable to the same unhappiness in the like manner andoccasion.
Thus concluded Mr. Carty's kindness for me.
But, afterwards, I found Macpherson a corrupted villain to others;and well, by a perverse rascal, might be made a rogue. For he washired by Woodhouse, a bailiff, to betray his fellow servant, Ward,into his clutches; for which he was obliged to run away from myservice, with fiddlers and pipers, before I returned from Hull,fearing my just resentment for his knavery, August 1726.
I would not have made this digression, were it not to lay open thecruelty of our barbarous uncle, who yet had some periodical fits ofgoodness, in considering what he had done to us, when too late to berecalled.
One time he vouchsafed to visit the nurse, gave her a shilling,and blessed my child, who, he said, was a lovely creature. But, alas!better had it been for his interest and ours, that he had notcommenced so great an enemy. The child having its continuance offits, my spouse caused the nurse to bring it home; but its cries andsighs being so piercing to our souls, she returned with him to herhouse.
The last fit came on it on the 12th of March, 1725, [1726NS] just as it was fully dressed in its perfect beauty, whichovercame that sable colour that was wont to shade its lovelycountenance in those terrible attacks; but then it was conquered bydeath, who left its body in so sweet a condition, that any spectatormight have imagined it an angel asleep, newly arrived in thistransitory world. It only gave a sigh, as the nurse told me, and thenparted for ever.
I paid the church funeral expenses to that covetous priestBradley, who did nothing for it, though I buried its pretty corpse inthe church of St. Michael le Belfrey; where it was laid, on thebreast of Mr. Charles Bourne, my predecessor, in the chancel on thesouth side of the altar.
I continued, though without profit, but rather lost, to print thenews, that our adversaries should not suddenly triumph over us.
1726. In these times, I printed some books learnedly translatedinto English by Mr. John Clarke, schoolmaster, in Hull; the columnsof the two languages being opposite one to the other, for the greaterease of young tyros in learning, as well as those who had obtainedsome indifferent proficiency therein. Two editions I did of Erasmus.To my journeyman I had Mr. Whitburne Wells, nephew to the celebrateddoctor in divinity of that surname, who wrote a book in geography, inGreek and Latin; but having no goodwill to his kinsman, he listed inthe army, where his merit and wit obtained him the honour of being aserjeant at Gibraltar. Another journeyman was John Brooker,originally from Ireland; little better, when mellow, than a lunatic,and, quite drunk, a perfect madman. Another was called ThomasDickenson, a sort of interloper, but a good workman, considering hislameness; saucy, sly, conceited, and very offensive when there was noother occasion, but only requiring him to be cleanly, and notoffensive to others by his rubbish, which his unreasonablecovetousness would not allow time to make away. He had been long inScotland, where he married; became a stroller; was sent fromconstable to constable, to Belfrey's parish; afterwards wrought atDoncaster with Mr. Ward; and, at length, died in or near London. Ihad also for my journeyman, Mr. Pattison, a good-natured, honestScot, the best that ever I knew of the sort; and Smith, of the samecountry, but I think as false a loon as ever came out of it. I wasoften grieved that my necessity should oblige me to employ some ofthose ungrateful vermin, and others, particularly one Jackson, a meansenseless wretch, to whom yet I gave the best London prices.
1728. The opposition continuing still against me by our unmercifuluncle, I was obliged to contrive some business, rather than go backin the world; and, by an almost unheard of attempt, to seek a livingby recalling the dead, as it were, to life, to afford me and minethat sustenance which the living seemed to deny me. The thoughtsprung from some curiosities that I had found, and by what I waslikely to procure, relating to the antiquities of York. My resolutionbecame so rivetted in me, and being spurred on by necessity, that Ipublished the proposals of my design in the year 1729. It was veryfar from real pleasure when I heard that some people had scrupled myreal ability, and that others feared to trust me with thesubscription money. I was one time, I believe, for half an hour, veryindecently abused at a merry meeting, by a fellow who reflected onMr. Gent, as he called me, though he knew not I was the very personhe was talking to; and should, for me, have continued ignorant,through my innocent nature, if one of the company, who had sufferedhim to prate a long while, could bear no longer, but discovering hismistake, called him a blockhead for his vile imprudence; and obligedhim to leave the place. But what most of all astonished me was theusage of old Hildyard, a neighbouring bookseller, who sent to my shophis then simple son John, to tell me that, if I printed any thingrelating to the city, he would sue me in an action of two thousandpounds damages. I asked why, and for what? The silly fellow told methat his father had printed a book of the mayors and sheriffs of Yorkalready, and would have no other to be done. So had the impudence tomark out those periods of my proposals that had given him offence, byclashing against his interest. This put me upon viewing that book;and, upon inquiry, I found that his production was mere theft from alawyer's copy, only with an addition of a fulsome dedication or two,as much for instruction to the readers, as the almost bare catalogueof names it contained. Upon which, being provoked a second time bythe said simple coxcomb, I returned word to the old fellow that, if Icopied after such a wretched threadbare piece, he might arrest me ifhe pleased; so turned the blockhead out of my house. I still went onand received subscription money, though my timorous spouse, for sometime, would have had me desisted, because the old man was powerfullyrich; and, beside, had stood as a father when we were married. Thuswas I tormented with her whimpering note of, perhaps, sincere love,on the one hand, and on the other, with reproaches and threatenings,which were all counterbalanced with the merry subscribers thatdisplayed their goodness on my pious design. As a gratefulrecompense, I took, indeed, great pains in every church, having manyof the sepulchral monuments washed and cleansed, to come as perfectlyas I could to the characters; many of which were almost delible, anddiurnally conveyed them to my press. It so happened that LordPercival and Mr. Scawen, viewing the antiquities of the Minster, wereinformed by Mr. Moon, the verger, what I was upon; and that it was agreat pity if my generous proposals did not meet that encouragementthat was due to so worthy an undertaking. And who should they inquireof me, but of old Mr. Hildyard, where I lived, that they mightsubscribe! Unquestionably a great mortification to him, who had thusinsulted me, a citizen as good as himself; and who should he sendwith them but the empty-brained, puffing, puppylike fellow his son,to shew them the way, and to examine what I had collected for thatpurpose. And though all seemed in embryo, by the many divided piecesand interlineations of what I had written, they were pleased to givemy price for six books; and promised, if I enlarged more than I thenintended, they would reward me in proportion to my industry. While Iwas upon the work, Hammond, the quacking bookseller, who reported hehad some manuscripts relating to the purpose, in a manner pretendedto oblige me to take him in a partner. He told Beckwith, his halfbrother, being a running stationer, that he would print a book ofYork too, if I did not let him join with me. I was not willing atfirst, but thinking him a fit antagonist against old Hildyard, Ireturned word by old Tom, he should have his desire, provided he hadno part of what I had received from subscribers. Upon this, agreeing,the impression, which I only designed to be five hundred, wasaugmented to one thousand, with a clause that, whoever was out ofbooks first, should sell for the other, paying two shillings each insheets, till the whole number were disposed of. [I took Hammondin partly also to ease me in the great expense I had been at; but thewretch would never communicate to me any of his manuscripts, whichmight have done me some good, but reserved them for sale to Dr.D--ke, my contemporary historian: so that the whole weight lay uponme, which made me venture to ascend the most lofty dangerous places,to explore the curious paintings in glass; as well as into gloomycemeteries, to restore the long dead to recent memory. TG]
1730. When I had published the work, my joy was inexpressible, tobe told what a kind reception it met with from persons of both sexes,and all ranks and conditions. I returned thanks to Heaven that I hadwritten what was thought worthy to be read; and not misjudged, by themost learned, to have treated that church with the least want ofrespect, which our ancestors had raised to the glory of Almighty God;and which, I believe, for a fine Gothic building, is not to beexcelled by an illustrious piece of architecture in the wholeuniverse. That I had done my best, was taken as candidly as the mostbeautiful work of the ablest artist; so that, as I was sensible of myown inability, I held myself to be under the highest obligation tothe public. In a particular manner, I could not but reverence thatnoble lord, my generous subscriber, who wrote to me the followingletter:
Charlton; June 23, 1730.
Your three books of the History of York were delivered meyesterday in London, on my return from the Bath. I have not had timeyet to peruse them, but I perceive there is a great deal of curiousand uncommon matter laboriously collected, which cannot fail toentertain and instruct. I thank you, sir, for your care in sendingthem so punctually and safely, and am,
Your very humble servant,
But I had a very merry epistle on a serious subject, concerning anomission; the author thinking I was quite in the wrong to entitle mywork a sacred history, since, as he said, only evangelical writingsought to be termed such. But yet he kindly seemed to excuse me, asthinking I did it purely in honour of Almighty God; and desired me,if ever I reprinted the book, not to omit a memorial of the Rev.Anthony Wright, who was interred beneath the great lantern, orlargest tower; which I took notice of when I came to publish a secondvolume of antiquities, as hereafter will be mentioned.
I had several admirers, who were surprised to think a person soobscure as I was generally deemed, should have the courage to ventureon so noble and pious a design; nor was I free from the sarcasticscoffs of others, whose envy was far superior to their judgments:for, at a perambulation, one Mr. Wiseacre reported, in ridicule, whata parcel of stuff I had collected, such as old illegible monumentsand inscriptions in churches, before the days of their ancientgrannams. "Aye," said the Rev. Mr. Knight, "has he done so? And doyou, sir, call these affectionate memorials only wretched stuff? Iassure you I think quite contrary; that, instead of base reflections,he deserves commendable praises; and, please God, I will buy one ofthem for my serious perusal:" which the good gentleman accordinglydid, and was pleased to tell me that, what I had collected deserved alarger volume, and worthy of a better price. Mr. Hildyard, from anenemy turned my friend also, bought and sold many, and continued inkindness to his dying day; being sorry, I had reason to believe, forthe great trouble he at first had given to me and my family, by hisunreasonable threatenings: so that I had an almost generalapprobation, which so grieved our silly uncle, and those people underhim, as to presume to disgrace my works in their newspapers; but Ireturned them such smart usage as cured them.
It was in this year, on the 3rd of April, that I took HenryAddison for my apprentice. He was nephew to the Rev. Mr. JamesAddison, vicar of Bishopsthorpe, near this city, who gave me with himfifteen pounds. The lad was brought up at Sedbergh school, provedvery skilful in the business, honestly served his time, andhandsomely provides for his wife and three lovely young daughters,brought up by an affectionate mother. About the time of his firstcoming to me, I printed Suetonius in Latin and English, for theaforesaid Mr. John Clarke, of Hull, in a demy octavo, closelyexhibited.
In 1731, having printed a translation of Oppian's Cynegeticks, forDr. Mawer, the Supplement for the Polyglott Bible passed through mypress. And then my dear and I, considering our woeful purchase inStonegate, in which we durst not enter lest, if the old gentlewomanshould die, we should fall into the mercy of the great R, who waitedfor that melancholy period to us; we bought the house where we nowlive, in Petergate, opposite Mr. Shaw's, which we let to theingenious Mr. Henry Hindeley, clockmaker, for seven pounds ayear.
1732. I printed a book for Mr. Thomas Baxter, schoolmaster, inCrathorn, Yorkshire, intituled, "The Circle Squared," but as it neverproved of any effect, it was converted to waste paper, to the greatmortification of the author. A different reception Mr. Clarke'sJustin received this year, which was learnedly translated.
1733. My nephew, Arthur Clarke, aforesaid, was sent with materialsto furnish a printing office in Scarborough; from which we had a fairprospect of the ocean. The gentry from the Spa used to visit us, tohave their names, and see the playhouse bills and other work printed;and, at York, I published my History of Rippon, with the antiquitiesof the most noted towns in the county. An eminent and learnedclergyman reading my Treatise of Christianity, with the sufferings ofour blessed Saviour and his apostles, was pleased to tell Mr.Knowlton, that he had never perused a more instructive and patheticabstract, that melted him even into tears. Too great an approbation Imight, in modesty, justly suppose; however, it gave me infinitesatisfaction to find those things approved, which some vile wretcheshad condemned.
In 1734, I printed "Miscellanea Curiosa," for Mr. Thomas Turner; awork which got credit both to the author and to me, for the beautifulperformance thereof: it was published quarterly; but for want ofsufficient encouragement, the work ceased in less than a year's time,when the mathematic types ceased also to be of any use to me. On the7th of June this year, I took Francis Hildyard, grandson to the oldbookseller aforesaid, to be my apprentice, but so dull and slow afellow I never had before or since. I oft repented I had such anunprofitable servant, and had little redress upon my complaint to Mr.Lambert, his uncle, who put him to me, or his poor father, of meancondition, who having lost a place, for wrong voting, in thegovernment, was at length glad to be clerk to the company of thesmiths; whose fate it was to fall down dead in the open street. Hisunfortunate son, to me, on King Charles's day of martyrdom, as he wasfowling, missed his mark, and shot his fellow apprentice, StephenClarke, into the thigh, to my great loss; but, providentially, nobone was broken, and the most dangerous parts untouched; so that, bythe skill and care of that ingenious surgeon, Mr. Shipton, he becameperfectly sound again, in about a quarter of a year's time. ButHildyard, though sensible of my damage, never exerted himself in hisduty to me; but, instead thereof, worked in my absence some senselessreflections upon election matters, for his own profit, which my goodnature passed by; and I assure my reader that, at the expiration ofhis time, I delivered his indenture with great satisfaction.
In 1735, a Scotchman, whom Mr. White had owned for a servant sevenyears, seceding from the newspaper as to the name which wasmentioned, young Mr. Alexander Staples, son to my old back friend,Mr. Robert Staples, at London, the celebrated disposer of Dr. Daffy'selixir, was instigated by White to do good in York, which he was notable himself to accomplish with satisfaction. The young manaccordingly arrived, took a gallant house in Coney street, printedthe news, and really was as great a puff as ever I had seen before. Ireally judged him to be a good-natured youth, till I inserted somelines in my journal which gave him umbrage; as though his prettyadvertising pictures and Daffy's elixir were reflected upon, thoughhis name or paper were not mentioned therein.
I was charged with being the author; the shorthand writer ofTurpin's Life, Kyle, fell into a passion, and proceeded to lyinginterpretations: Staples was, like Hudibras, going to the lawyer tofind out in what manner he could deal with me: but after fullconsultation at a club, a resolution was taken to wound, and, ifpossible, jolt my brains out with English and Latin verses; andtruly, such jargon was printed against me, that was enough to infecta man with Scotch scabbado, but not in the least to impair hisunderstanding. I never took notice of their unlearned filth, or suchlike cannibal vermin as Dugdale writes of in the Monasticon, invarious centuries, utter enemies to our natives of England orIreland, especially to the latter, and even false to themselves. But,by the by, in a future work, I compared the devourers of people'sreputations to those cannibals whom the Conqueror, William the first,punished: "Pictura vitrea quæ, est in claustro de Strenshalemonstrat Scotos, qui prope fines Anglorum habitant, fuisse vel adGulielmi Nothi tempora anthropophagos & hanc immanitatem àGulielmi gladio fuisse punitam." But as Mr. Staples, I knew, was bornin England, and seduced by Mr. White, I had a respect for him as ayouth, that was unacquainted with my nature. We after became friends,and did mutual kindnesses for each other; and as he became moreentangled in the world, and found the cruel deceit thereof, hetreated me the more obligingly in his requesting letters. To hisgreat expense, he courted a young lady at Newcastle, in which beingunsuccessful, his circumstances became more suspected by discerningpeople.
1736. This year I published my History of Hull: after which mypublisher, Mr. Wilford, failed in London. I comforted, instead ofafflicting the man, under his heavy misfortunes, which he aftergratefully remembered in mentioning my work in his "Lives ofIllustrious Personages," in folio, and generously ordered one of themto be given, as a present, as some small atonement (the utmost he wasable,) for the loss that I had sustained by him.
In 1736, Mr. Francis Drake published his "Eboracum," or YorkHistory, in two volumes: a noble work, to give him his due, as myfriend, Browne Willis, esq. styles it in his letter to me, whichcontains also most curious and entertaining accounts of the adjoiningAynsty. But, amongst other writers, he has thus exhibited these wordsof me and my humble performance: "The last thing," saith he, "which Ishall mention, is to inform the public, that I have seen and read asmall octavo printed tract, the title page of which bears thisinscription, 'The Antient and Modern History of the Famous City ofYork, and, in a particular manner, of its magnificent Cathedral,commonly called York Minster, &c.; the whole diligently collectedby T. G.: York, printed, &c., 1730.' I have nothing to say tothis work, but to assure my contemporary historian, that I havestolen little or nothing from his laborious performance, wherein Mr.T. G., as author, printer, and publisher of the work himself,endeavouring to get a livelihood for his family, deservescommendation for his industry."
I could expatiate very justly and sharply on the whole of thisridiculous paragraph, unbecoming his character as a gentleman: but Ishall touch on it a very little; for he proved a threatener, too, bytelling me, that authors had already treated of the Minster, and thatif I did any thing to border on their copies, I should incur thepenalty of an Act of Parliament. What he uttered in terrorem I couldbut inwardly smile at, which, no doubt, he perceived well enough;and, being ascertained of my resolution, lent me Willis's Book ofCathedrals, which I accepted of, but would not copy after, having thechurch so near me, and perceiving the wretched mistakes of thatpublication. Besides, Mr. Drake was a subscriber to, but a reflectoron me to Mr. Samuel Smith, when he perceived a discourse I had made,introductory to History, in my newspapers. As to the smallness of thetract, I am sure the book was multum in parvo, and it should havebeen larger, if the city had but blessed me with one fourth of fiftypounds which he received, which, with other contributions from awilling party, and the generosity of others, could not but impel himforcibly to make a shining work, whether otherwise he would or no.And as to his stealing any thing of mine, that expression, soexceeding vulgar, might well have been spared in a polite doctor,since such are seldom charged with theft, except stealing people outof their graves; besides, he was very welcome to any thing that I hadpainfully collected. I never called any a fool in folio, as theinveterately provoked Sam Smith did, before an assembly inScarborough: and if any of my friends had said that he was obliged towhat I had performed, their offence was none of mine. And therefore,thinking his character like his commendation, and both veryludicrous, I esteemed myself under no obligation to thank him, in theleast, for what he had written; but much rather those gentlemen andladies who pleased to approve of my performance, and took it as apocket companion in their pleasant journey on the roads, whilstriding in their coaches, or as an entertainer in their closets.[There is no vindicating the manner in which Drake speaks of thisperformance of Gent; which was not, like too many modern books oftopography, a mere bundle of pillage from the works of ingenious andpainstaking authors, but consisting, for the most part, of matterhonestly collected, and not, before his time, made public by thepress. The passage, therefore, deserves to stand; but it must not beconcealed, as a trait of good feeling in Gent, that he has cancelledthis passage, and, with a hand enfeebled with age and misfortune, hasadded this note: "1766. The Doctor has proved, since, a great friendto me,--I pray God bless him most sincerely, and shall do, I trust,to my life's end." JH]
This year, on the 4th of May, I took Stephen Clarke for myapprentice: he was the son of the Rev. Mr. Stephen Clarke, M.A.,rector of Burythorpe, near Malton, who gave me with him twentypounds. The youth honestly served his time, and went to London, whereI wish him all the good fortune that he can expect or desire,according to his merits.
1737. Having but too much time to spare, rather than be indolent,I studied music on the harp, flute, and other instruments. And, onthe 15th of August, I took apprentice Robert Moon, nephew to Mr.Moon, one of the vergers, who gave me twenty guineas with him: heserved his time, and is now a master in Preston, Lancashire, where hewed a handsome young woman, who brought him an agreeable fortune.
1738. This year I wrote and printed a pastoral dialogue on themuch lamented death of the Right Honourable and illustrious CharlesHoward, Earl of Carlisle, who died the 1st of May, at Bath; whichpoem was universally received with kindness and approbation, more, Imay well think, in regard to the merits of the deceased, than to anyof mine in the performance, though I dressed it up in as soft amanner as I could wish; with which a most learned doctor in divinity,Dr. John Mawer, rector of Middleton Tyas, near Richmond, and anexcellent poet, was graciously pleased to send me his kindapprobation, to my no small consolation.
About the 13th of January, 1738, Mr. Alexander Staples was quitebroken up by Dr. Burton; and, not long after, the Messrs. CæsarWard and Richard Chandler became possessors of his printingmaterials: besides, they carried on abundance of business in thebookselling way, having had shops at London, York, and Scarborough.The latter collected divers volumes on Parliamentary affairs, and bythe run they seemed to take, one would have imagined that he wouldhave ascended to the apex of his desires; but, alas! his thoughtssoared too high, and sunk his fortunes so low, by the debts he hadcontracted, that rather than become a despicable object to the world,or bear the miseries of a prison, he put a period to his life, bydischarging a pistol into his head, as he lay reclined on his bed. AsI knew the man formerly, I was very sorry to hear of his tragicalsuicide, an action that for awhile seemed to obumbrate the glories ofCæsar, who found such a deficiency in his partner's accounts,so great a want of money, and such a woeful sight of flowingcreditors, that made him succumb under the obligation to a statute ofbankruptcy; during which time he has been much reflected on by aScot, who had been his servant, and obnoxious for awhile to manypersons, who were not thoroughly acquainted with him. But he nowbrightly appears again, amidst the dissipating clouds of distress, inthe publication of a paper, that transcends those of hiscontemporaries as much as the rising sun does the falling stars.
In January 1739, the frost having been extremely intense, therivers became so frozen, that I printed names upon the ice. It was adangerous spot on the south side of the bridge, where I first set up,as it were, a new kind of press, only a roller wrapt about withblankets. Whilst reading the verses I had made to follow the names,wherein King George was most loyally inserted, some soldiers roundabout made great acclamations, with other good people; but the icesuddenly crackling, they almost as quickly run away, whilst I, whothen did not hear well, neither guessed the meaning, fell to work,and wondered at them as much for retiring so precipitately as they atme for staying: but taking courage, they stoutly returned back,brought company, and I took some pence amongst them. After this, Imoved my shop to and fro, to the great satisfaction of younggentlemen, ladies, and others, who were very liberal on the occasion.[Here is introduced a long and uninteresting account of themanner in which he was deprived of the house in Stonegate, which washeld under a prebendal lease. JH]
1741. Having printed the news for several years, for want ofencouragement, I was obliged to give it up about this time: I hadstudied and endeavoured, to my utmost ability, to make it bear, butthe strength of the Craftsman, with my misfortunes, had now quiteovercome me. I peaceably dropt into oblivion, without any ludicrousanimadversions of my contemporary brethren. I lost, by death, one ofthe best of lodgers, in room of whom I got one of the worst; but,what grieved me not a little, was the death of that fine tallpersonage, my patron, the Rev. Mr. Hitch: he had, I believe,overheated himself at the strife about obtaining votes for members ofParliament, that threw him into a mortal fever, which, on the 26th ofDecember, conveyed his precious soul, I hope, into the blessedregions of a glorious immortality. [From York Courant, Number846, printed by Caesar Ward, York, December 29, 1741: "Last week,died, the Rev. Mr. Hitch, rector of Boswell, and chaplain to H. R.Highness the Prince of Wales." TG] Now all my hopes were arrivedat their final period; what my late patron might have gained, had herenewed, was entirely lost to his friends. But he was of a honourabledisposition, and scorned that the church or his successors shouldsuffer through any base compliance: he well knew how I was served,and what the alderman intended, as well as his right interest, not tobe imposed upon. I am told, had he lived longer, such was the favorhe found at court, that he was in a fair way of getting a bishopricin Ireland, but God thought fit to take him to himself; on whom Imade the following lines:
Lamented shade! thy kindness done to me,
But, what was dearer, pity shewn to mine,
Though now amongst the shining saints you be,
Thy fate we'll mourn, and venerate your shrine!
Till heaven, like you, who stops our streaming tears,
Shall, through death's summons, free our souls from cares.
Mr. Laurence Sterne, nephew to a doctor of divinity of thatsurname, having obtained his prebend, how he agreed with the aldermanI cannot tell; but I found it was in vain for me to make applicationto him, since Mr. Hitch could not relieve me; however, it was somecomfort to see how Henry Hitch, esq. wrote of me from London to theRev. Mr. Wilkinson, in the following year:
"By your directions," said he, "given me to you, I find you arewith Mr. Gent, the printer: that honest man had hard treatment fromAlderman Read. If my dead relation had had longer days, he would haverelieved him; I wish you would recommend him to Mr. Sterne."
But as I perceived I was for ever ejected, my friends thought itvain to make fresh application. God forgive the alderman! with thesame breath I pray, sincerely, that none of my concerns may have anyentanglement with such a great r-- like him, that so I may be freedfrom utter destruction.
But to the increase of my misfortunes, the then steward, as hecalled himself, Jeremiah Rudsdell, a presbyterian baker, began toassert a right to receive the rents of the house I lived in in Coffeeyard, though, on the 15th of June, the year before, he disclaimed allright, for the future, to being concerned, before Mr. Thomas Oliver,and told me to pay it to Mrs. Atkinson, (widow of John Atkinson,vulgarly called Sir John Cheese,) for she only was empowered toreceive it, not only as part of her own share, but to take the shareof her daughter and Mr. Gouge, to whom she was to be accountable.After this, he troubled himself no further about repairs, which wereleft entirely to the said Mrs. Jane Atkinson, who lodged in my houseabout a year, or a year within two or three days, and owed me forboard, and attendance given her by my servants as a gentlewoman; butshe, and her sister, and brother-in-law, Gouge, falling out, Rudsdellgets, I suppose, a new power, and (when I least expected any suchmatter,) seizes part of my goods in the shop and kitchen, and clapsbailiffs into my house, through the direction of Yawood, an attorney.My house in Petergate being then empty, I was repairing it foranother tenant, in the room of the ingenious Mr. Hendley, who hadgiven me warning, and was removed into Stonegate, meanwhile Mrs.Atkinson repleving the goods. But a little after my spouse, fearing afresh seizure, through what she had heard, consented I should repairour own, so as to be fit for a printing office, and leave our formerabode for ever. Through its wretched owners, that unhappy estate waspurchased in Stonegate, which the alderman before mentioned hadgotten possession from us. 'Twas fresh oppression that, in 1729, hadso provoked us, that we were very near taking a lease of Mr. SheriffLambert's house, in Petergate; and now this last insult which hadflown about, that I was near broke, besides other dangers, weresufficient reason to give our landlady warning to seek a new tenant,if she pleased: Mr. Blanchard, of the Spiritual Court, was presentwhen I spoke, and more fully repeated after I had ceased, and then Ipresented her a paper, in which was written
"May 1, 1742.
"TO MRS. JANE ATKINSON:
"MADAM, this is to give you notice, and your daughter, likewiseyour brother and sister Gouge, and Mrs. Remmington, or any who are,or may be concerned, as landlord or landladies of the house in CoffeeYard and stable adjacent, that I shall leave entirely your or theirhouse and stable, and be no more a tenant to any of your or theiragents, in anywise, after Martinmas next: and as I have with you(although with some reluctancy,) been, as it were, obliged to sign abond for replevin of my seized goods, I shall, God willing, clearthem of all demands, where appears a right upon balance, when the lawof the kingdom shall settle matters according to justice and equity.You have been set over me as a landlady, and yet is my lodger andboarder, notwithstanding, indebted to me, which, you know, must beallowed.
"I am, madam,
"Your humble servant,
She said she accepted my warning, and I might go when I pleased: Itold her I blamed not her so much as I did others, and gave her softexpressions to please her. But I heard, when we were departed, shefell into tears, and so alternately into other strange passions.
After this, I was at great expense and labour in moving my goods;and, I remember, my new building was but just covered with the leadsand surrounded by a walk, when it was told me, that the house I wasleaving was advertised to be let, in the public newspaper, which Ipurchased of Thomas Wilson, baker, in Stonegate. It was in the "YorkCourant," Number 868, printed for Cæsar Ward, bookseller, datedTuesday, June 1, 1742, viz.
"TO BE LET,
"The house where Mr. Thomas Gent, printer, now lives, in CoffeeYard, York, to be entered on at Martinmas next: inquire of Mr.Bernard Awmonds, grocer, in Castle Gate, York.
"N.B. It hath been a printing office above an hundred years."
During my troubles, I received two letters from Browne Willis,esq. which I beg leave to mention here, as a grateful memorial ofhim.
"To Mr. Thomas Gent, in the City of York.
"Whaddon Hall, near Fenny, Stratford, Bucks." November 22, l740.
"I AM concerned to let a brother antiquary's letter lie near threeweeks unanswered; but the truth is, I wanted some of my relations,members of Parliament, to frank my scroll; and also hoped to have hadyour new work sent me down hither, and have wrote two letters to mybookseller to despatch it to me: but he is in so bad a state ofhealth, and not like to live, that it is neglected, and so I sent toa gentleman to take it at Mr. Overton's. If I am pretty well, asindeed I am very much otherwise, I hope, at Christmas, or soon after,to be in town, and shall be glad to recommend your performance. Ithought you proposed another edition of the History of York; if youdo intend it, exhibit one, perhaps I may help you, as I would havedone had you put any queries to me. Cannot you give any dedicationsin Yorkshire, &c. not printed already by me? Any corrections orimprovements to what I have published will be very acceptable, andshall rejoice if any forward your laborious designs, as being, goodsir, your most assured friend and devoted servant to command,
"P. S. I hope Mr. Selby and Dr. Drake are well.
The aforesaid letter was the last I received from Browne Willis,esq., who, I hear, is departed this mortal life, happy for him, Itrust, though much lamented by others who, with pleasure, haveperused his indefatigable labours.
About August 1744, I built a tower upon my house, which very muchstrengthened the whole building and platform, by joining the chimneywith a communication to the southern wall, so that there appeared aregular conjunction and uniformity; besides, the floor of the tower,was a shelter to the door of the leads, which, before, let in therain, and rotted my new stairs. By this addition, my house seems thehighest in the city, and affords an agreeable prospect round thecountry: we have an wholesome air whenever we please to ascend,especially the mornings and evenings, with great conveniency for mybusiness, when overcrowded in the narrow rooms below; and severalgentlemen have, occasionally, taken a serious pipe, to talk ofaffairs in printing; as well as neighbours, to satisfy theircuriosity, in viewing the flowers that grow almost round about uponthe walls. One of my apprentices, Joseph Nickson, cut the followingsketch hereof, which I here place as a memorial, to be rememberedwhen I am in the grave, should the building, by some futurepossessor, happen to be demolished.
[This cut, which like too many of Gent's book embellishmentswill not bear to be copied, is at the head of an advertisement, ofwhich a copy is pasted on the last leaf of the manuscript. It ischaracteristic of him. JH]
A person descended from the Gents in Staffordshire, freeman ofLondon, York, and two other remarkable cities, lawful printer andstationer; a lover of these English northern parts, in which, as aright master, he has brought up several reputable servants; and,under God's divine providence, hitherto protected his family, to thecomfort also of some needy, but honest deserving people. Within hisnew well-contrived office, abovesaid, printing work is performed in acurious and judicious manner, having sets of fine characters for theGreek, Latin, English, Mathematics, &c. He sells the Histories ofRome, France, England, particularly of this ancient City, Aynsty, andextensive County, in five volumes; likewise a book of the holy lifeof St. Winifred, and her wonderful Cambrian fountain. He hasstimulated an ingenious founder to cast such musical types, for thecommon press, as never yet were exhibited; and has prepared a newedition for his York History against the time when the few remainingof that first and large impression are disposed of, wherein willappear several remarkable occurrences and amendments, if it pleasesthe Divine Majesty to grant him life at the publication thereof.
Psallite Domino, in citharâ, in citharâ et vocePsalmi: in tubis ductilibus, et voce tubæ corneæ.
Ipsi vero in vanum quæsierunt animam meam, introibunt ininferiora terræ:
tradentur in manus gladii: partes vulpium erunt.
[This is presumably one of Gent's advertisements, printed in1743. FJG]
Gent's affairs, we may perceive, were beginning to decline at thetime when this narrative is closed. It does not appear that he evercontinued the story: it would, it is to be feared, have been but anarrative of a course of life which was bound in shallows and inmiseries. He continued, indeed, to reside at his house in Petergate;but new and more enterprising printers arose in that northernmetropolis; till, at length, Gent's press became in little request.His topographical resources were exhausted in his three works onYork, Rippon, and Hull; and it is little of valuable information ofany kind that is to be derived from his "History of the East Windowin York Minster," which he published in 1762, when, as Mr. Goughsays, he was sinking under age and necessity. [BritishTopography, vol. ii. p. 428.]
Still he had friends who respected him, and were willing to assisthim. A portrait was painted of him by one of the Drakes, a family whowere particularly attentive to him in his old age. This portraitappears to have been exhibited for his benefit; and there was amezzotinto engraving from it by Valentine Green, of which a copy isprefixed to this volume. It is said by some who knew him, to be anadmirable resemblance of him, with his fine loose flowing silveryhair, and wanting only the fresh and ruddy appearance of hiscountenance. A play was twice performed for his benefit. These thingscontributed "To smooth the harsh severities of age;" one of his ownlines, and not the worst, in perhaps the latest of hiscompositions.
Were any one to attempt to make a catalogue of the works of Gent,he would find it a harder task than ever bibliographer performed. Allhis principal writings have been mentioned: but beside them, he whocould be at once author, printer, and publisher, and who was drivenby necessity to make every exertion, must, we are sure, have producednumerous smaller tracts, some with his name, and some without;neither, indeed, is it a very tempting inquiry.
But the writer of this little supplementary notice possesses oneof the later tracts of Gent, which deserves to be taken notice of, asbeing the longest of his attempts in verse, and on account of thesingularity of its mode of publication: it is a translation intoEnglish verse, with some additions, of the "ReliquiæEboracenses," an elegant poem, on the Roman affairs in Brigantia, byDr. Heneage Dering, sometime Dean of Rippon. It is printed on thecoarsest paper, and in the rudest manner; it has no title page, butthe following note is prefixed, in the handwriting of Genthimself:
Designed to be advertised and published, soon as proper paper canbe afforded, either through beneficent subscription, or generosity tothe laborious well-known author, whose Icon was lately exhibited, togeneral satisfaction.
This must have been about the year 1772. He died at his house inYork, on the 19th of May, 1778, in the eighty-seventh year of hisage; and was interred in the church of St. Michael le Belfrey.