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eration their duty towards God and towards their neighbor,


and so far training them in the way that they should go.
In the course of a few years every household, from the
highest to the lowest, (the degrees were neither great
nor many,) had learned to look upon him as their friend.
There was only one in the parish whose members were
upon a parity with him in manners, none in literary cul-
ture ; but in good-will, and in human sympathy, he was
upon a level with them all. Never interfering in the con-
cerns of any family, unless his interference was solicited, he
was consulted upon all occasions of trouble or importance.
Incipient disputes, which would otherwise have afforded
grist for the lawyer's mill, were adjusted by his mediation ;
and anxious parents, when they -had cause to apprehend
that their children were going wrong, knew no better
course than to communicate their fears to him, and re-
quest that he would administer some timely admonition.
Whenever he was thus called on, or had of himself per-
ceived that reproof or warning was required, it was given
in private, or only in presence of the parents, and always
with a gentleness which none but an obdurate disposition
could resist. His influence over the younger part of his
flock was the greater because he was no enemy to any in-
nocent sports, but, on the contrary, was pleased to see them
dance round the May-pole, encouraged them to dress their
doors with oaken boughs on the day of King Charles's
happy restoration, and to wear an oaken garland in the
hat, or an oak-apple on its sprig in the button-hole; went
to see their bonfire on the 5th of November, and enter-
tained the morris-dancers when they called upon him in
their Christmas rounds.

Mr. Bacon was in his parish what a moralizing old poet
wished himself to be, in these pleasing stanzas :

I would I were an excellent divine..

That had the Bible at my fingers' ends,


That men might hear out of this mouth of mine

How God doth make his enemies his friends ;
Rather than with a thundering and long prayer
Be led into presumption, or despair.

This would I be, and would none other be

But a religious servant of my God :
And know there is none other God but He

And willingly to suffer Mercy's rod,
Joy in his grace and live but in his love,
And seek my bliss but in the world above.

And I would frame a kind of faithful prayer

For all estates within the state of grace;
That careful love might never know despair,

Nor servile fear might faithful love deface ;
And this would I both day and night devise
To make my humble spirits exercise.

And I would read the rules of sacred life,

Persuade the troubled soul to patience,
The husband care, and comfort to the wife,

To child and servant due obedience,
Faith to the friend and to the neighbor peace,
That love might live, and quarrels all might cease ;

Pray for the health of all that are diseased,

Confession unto all that are convicted,
And patience unto all that are displeased,

And comfort unto all that are afflicted,
And mercy unto all that have offended,
And graco to all, that all may be amended.*

* N. B., supposed to be Nicholas Breton




Non fumum ex Jidgore, sed ex fumo dare liicem.


IN all Mr. Bacon's views he was fortunate enough to
have ths hearty concurrence of the wealthiest person in the
parish. This was a good man, Allison by name, who, hav-
ing realized a respectable fortune in the metropolis as a
tobacconist, and put out his sons in life according to their
respective inclinations, had retired from business at the age
of threescore, and established himself with an unmarried
daughter, and a maiden sister some ten years younger than
himself, in his native village, that he might there, when his
hour should come, be gathered to his fathers.

u The providence of God," says South, ' has so ordered
the course of things, that there is no action, the usefulness
of which has made it the matter of duty and of a profession,
but a man may bear the continual pursuit of it, without
loathing or satiety. The same shop and trade that employs
a man in his youth, employs him also in his age. Every
morning he rises fresh to his hammer and his anvil : custom
has naturalized his labor to him ; his shop is his element,
and he cannot, with any enjoyment of himself, live out of
it." The great preacher contrasts this with the wearisome-
ness of an idle life, and the misery of a continual round of
what the world calls pleasure. " But now," says he, " if
God has interwoven such a contentment with the works
of our ordinary calling, how much superior and more re-
fined must that be that arises from the survey of a pious
and well-governed life ? "

This passage bears upon Mr. Allison's case, partly in the
consolatory fact which it states, and wholly in the applica-



tion which South has made of it. At the age of fourteen
he had been apprenticed to an uncle in Bishopsgate Street
Within ; and twenty years after, on that uncle's death, had
succeeded to his old and well-established business. But
though he had lived there prosperously and happily six and
twenty years longer, he had contracted no such love for it
as to overcome the recollections of his childhood. Grateful
as the smell of snuff and tobacco had become to him, he
still remembered that cowslips and violets were sweeter ;
and that the breath of a May morning was more exhila-
rating than the air of his own shop, impregnated as it was
with the odor of the best Virginia. So having buried his
wife, who was a Londoner, and made over the business to
his eldest son, he returned to his native place, with the
intention of dying there; but he was in sound health of
body and mind, and his green old age seemed to promise,
as far as anything can promise, length of days.

Of his two other sons, one had chosen to be a clergyman,
and approved his choice both by his parts and diligence;
for he had gone off from Merchant-Tailors' School to St.
John's, Oxford, and was then a fellow of that college. The
other was a mate in the Merchants' service, and would soon
have the command of a ship in it. The desire of seeing
the world led him to this way of life ; and that desire had
been unintentionally implanted by his father, who, in making
himself acquainted with everything relating to the herb out
of which his own fortune was raised, had become fond of
reading voyages* and travels. His conversation induced the
lad to read these books, and the books confirmed the incli-
nation which had already been excited ; and, as the boy was
of an adventurous temper, he thought it best to let him
follow the pursuit on which his mind was bent.

The change to a Yorkshire village was not too great for
Mr. Allison, even after residing nearly half a century in
Bishopsgate Street Within. The change in his own house-
hold, indeed, rendered it expedient for him to begin, in this


sense, a new life. He had lost his mate ; the young birds-
were full-fledged and had taken flight ; and it was time that
he should look out a retreat for himself and the single nest-
ling that remained under his wing, now that his son and
successor had brought home a wife. The marriage had
been altogether with his approbation ; but it altered his
position in the house ; and in a still greater degree his
sister's ; moreover, the nest would soon be wanted for an-
other brood. Circumstances thus compelled him to put in
effect what had been the dream of his youth, and the still
remote intention of his middle age.

Miss Allison, like her brother, regarded this removal as a
great and serious change, preparatory to the only greater
one in this world that now remained for both ; but, like
him, she regarded it rather seriously than sadly, or sadly
only in the old sober meaning of the word ; and there was
a soft, sweet, evening sunshine in their prospect, which both
partook, because both had retained a deep affection for the
scenes of their childhood. To Betsey, her niece, nothing
could be more delightful than the expectation of such a re-
moval. She, who was then only entering her teens, had
nothing to regret in leaving London ; and the place to
which she was going was the very spot which, of all others
in this wide world, from the time in which she -was con-
scious of forming a wish, she had wished most to see. Her
brother, the sailor, was not more taken with the story of
Pocahontas and Captain Smith, or Dampier's Voyages, than
she was with her aunt's details of the farm and the dairy at
Thaxted Grange, the May-games and the Christmas gam-
bols, the days that were gone, and the elders who were
departed. To one born and bred in the heart of London,
who had scarcely ever seen a flock of sheep, except when
they were driven through the streets to or from Smithfield,
no fairy tale could present more for the imagination than a
description of green fields and rural life. The charm of
truth heightened it, and the stronger charm of natural


piety; for the personages of the tale were her near kin,
whose names she had learned to love, and whose living
memory she revered, but whose countenances she never
could behold till she should be welcomed by them in the
everlasting mansions of the righteous.

None of the party were disappointed when they had es-
tablished themselves at the Grange. Mr. Allison found full
occupation at first in improving the house, and afterwards
in his fields and garden. Mr. Bacon was just such a clergy-
man as he would have chosen for his parish priest, if it had
been in his power to choose, only he would have had him
provided with a better benefice. The single thing on which
there was a want of agreement between them was, that
the Vicar neither smoked nor took snuff; he was not the
worst company on this account, for he had no dislike to
the fragrance of a pipe ; but his neighbor lost the pleasure
which he would have had in supplying him with the best
Pig-tail, and with Strasburg or Rappee. Miss Allison fell
into the habits of her new station the more easily, because
they were those which she had witnessed in her early
youth ; she distilled waters, dried herbs, and prepared con-
serves, which were at the service of all who needed them
in sickness. Betsey attached herself at first sight to Deborah,
who was about five years elder, and soon became to her as
a sister. The aunt rejoiced in finding so suitable a friend
and companion for her niece ; and as this connection was a
pleasure and an advantage to the Allisons, so was it of the
greatest benefit to Deborah.

What of her ensues

I list not prophesy, but let Time's news
Be known, when 't is brought forth. Of this allow
If ever you have spent time worse ere now ;
If never yet, the Author then doth say,
He wishes earnestly you never may.*

* Shakespeare.




I doubt nothing at all but that you shall like the man every day better
than other ; for verily I think he lacketh not of those qualities which
should become any honest man to have, over and besides the gift of
nature wherewith God hath above the common rate endued him.


MR. ALLISON was as quiet a subject as Peter Hopkins,
but he was not like him a political quietist from indiffer-
ence, for he had a warm sense of loyalty, and a well-rooted
attachment to the constitution of his country in church and
state. His ancestors had suffered in the Great Rebellion,
and much the greater part of their never large estates had
been alienated to raise the fines imposed upon them as de-
linquents. The uncle, whom he succeeded in Bishopsgate
Street, had, in his early apprenticeship, assisted at burning
the Rump, and in maturer years had joined as heartily in
the rejoicings when the Seven Bishops were released from
the Tower: he subscribed to Walker's "Account of the
Sufferings of the Clergy," and had heard sermons preached
by the famous Dr. Scott (which were afterwards incorpo-
rated in his great work upon the Christian Life) in the
church of St. Peter-le-Poor (oddly so called, seeing that
there are few districts within the City of London so rich,
insomuch that the last historian of the metropolis believed
the parish to have scarcely a poor family in it), and in
All-hallows, Lombard Street, where, during the reign of
the Godly, the puritanical vestry passed a resolution, that
if any persons should come to the church " on the day
called Christ's birthday," they should be compelled to
leave it.

In these principles Mr. Allison had grown up ; and with-
out any profession of extra religion, or ever wearing a


sanctified face, he had in the evening of his life attained
" the end of the commandment, which is charity, proceeding
from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and a faith un-
feigned." London in his days was a better school for young
men in trade than it ever was before, or has been since.
The civic power had quietly and imperceptibly put an end
to that club-law which once made the apprentices a tur-
bulent and formidable body, at any moment armed as well
as ready for a riot ; and masters exercised a sort of parental
control over the youth intrusted to them, which in later
times it may be feared has not been so conscientiously ex-
erted, because it is not likely to be so patiently endured.
Trade itself had not then been corrupted by that ruinous
spirit of competition, which, more than any other of the
evils now pressing upon us, deserves to be called the curse
of England in the present age. At all times men have
been to be found, who engaged in hazardous speculations,
gamester like, according to their opportunities, or who, mis-
taking the means for the end, devoted themselves with
miserable fidelity to the service of Mammon. But " Live
and let iive," had not yet become a maxim of obsolete mo-
rality. We had our monarchy, or hierarchy, and our aristoc-
racy, God be praised for the benefits which have been
derived from all three, and God in his mercy continue them
to us ! but we had no plutarchy, no millionnaires, no great
capitalists to break down the honest and industrious trader
with the weight of their overbearing and overwhelming
wealth. They who had enriched themselves in the course
of regular and honorable commerce withdrew from business,
and left the field to others. Feudal tyranny had passed
away, and moneyed tyranny had not yet arisen in its stead,
a tyranny baser in its origin, not more merciful in its
operations, and with less in its appendages to redeem it.

Trade, in Mr. Allison's days, was a school of thrift and
probity, as much as of profit and loss ; such his shop had


been when he succeeded to it upon his uncle's decease, and
such it continued to be when he transmitted it to his son.
Old Mr. Strahan the printer (the founder of his typarchical
dynasty) said to Dr. Johnson, that " there are few ways in
Avhich a man can be more innocently employed than in get-
ting money"; and he added, that "the more one thinks of
this the juster it will appear. 1 ' Johnson agreed with him ;
and though it was a money-maker's observation, and though
the more it is considered now, the more fallacious it will be
found, the general system of trade might have justified it
at that time. The entrance of an exciseman never occa-
sioned any alarm or apprehension at No. 113 Bishopsgate
Street Within, nor any uncomfortable feeling, unless the
officer happened to be one who, by giving unnecessary
trouble, and by gratuitous incivility in the exercise of
authority, made an equitable law odious in its execution.
They never there mixed weeds with their tobacco, nor
adulterated it in any worse way ; and their snuff was never
rendered more pungent by stirring into it a certain propor-
tion of pounded glass. The duties were honestly paid, with
a clear perception that the impost fell lightly upon all whom
it affected, and affected those only who chose to indulge
themselves in a pleasure which was still cheap, and which,
without any injurious privation, they might forego. Nay,
when our good man expatiated upon the uses of tobacco,
which Mr. Bacon demurred at, and the Doctor sometimes
playfully disputed, he ventured an opinion, that among the
final causes for which so excellent an herb had been cre-
ated, the facilities afforded by it towards raising the revenue
in a well-governed country like our own, might be one.

There was a strong family likeness between him and his
sister, both in countenance and disposition. Elizabeth Alli-
son was a person for whom the best and wisest man might
have thanked Providence if she had been allotted to him for
helpmate. But though she had, in Shakespeare's language.


" withered on the virgin thorn," hers had not been a life of
single blessedness : she had been a blessing first to her par-
ents; then to her brother and her brother's family, where she
relieved an amiable but sickly sister-in-law from those do-
mestic offices which require activity and forethought ; lastly,
after the di.-persion of his sons, the transfer of the business
to the eldest, and the breaking-up of his old establishment,
to the widower and his daughter, the only child who cleaved
to him, not like Ruth to Naomi, by a meritorious act of
duty, for in her case it was in the ordinary course of things,
without either sacrifice or choice ; but the effect in endear-
ing her to him was the same.

In advanced stages of society, and nowhere more than in
England at this time, the tendency of all things is to weaken
the relations between parent and child, and frequently to de-
stroy them, reducing human nature in this respect nearer to
the level of animal life. Perhaps the greater number of
male children who are " born into the world," in our part
of it, are put out at as early an age, proportionately, as the
young bird is driven from its nest, or the young beast turned
off by its dam as being capable of feeding and protecting
itself; and in many instances they are as totally lost to the
parent, though not in like manner forgotten. Mr. Allison
never saw all his children together after his removal from
London. The only time when his three sons met at the
Grange was when they came there to attend their father's
funeral ; nor would they then have been assembled, if the
Captain's ship had not happened to have recently arrived in

This is a state of things more favorable to the wealth
than to the happiness of nations. It was a natural and pious
custom in patriarchal times that the dead should be gath-
ered unto their people. " Bury me," said Jacob, when he
gave his dying charge to his sons, "bury me with my
fathers in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which


is before Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham
bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite, for a posses-
sion of a burying-place. There they buried Abraham and
Sarah his wife ; there they buried Isaac and Rebecca his
wife ; and there I buried Leah." Had such a passage
occurred in Homer, or in Dante, all critics would have con-
curred in admiring the truth and beauty of the sentiment.
He had buried his beloved Rachel by the way where she
died ; but, although he remembered this at his death, the
orders which he gave were, that his own remains should be
laid in the sepulchre of his fathers. The same feeling pre-
vails among many, or most of those savage tribes who are
not utterly degraded. With them the tree is not left to lie
where it falls. The body of one who dies on an expedition
is interred on the spot, if distance or other circumstances
render it inconvenient to transport the corpse; but, how-
ever long the journey, it is considered as a sacred duty that
the bones should at some time or other be brought home.
In Scotland, where the common rites of sepulture are
performed with less decency than in any other Christian
country, the care with which family burial-grounds in the
remoter parts are preserved, may be referred as much to
natural feeling as to hereditary pride.

But as indigenous flowers are eradicated by the spade and
plough, so this feeling is destroyed in the stirring and bust-
ling intercourse of commercial life. No room is left for it ;
as little of it at this time remains in wide America as in
thickly-peopled England. That to which soldiers and sail-
ors are reconciled by the spirit of their profession, and the
chances of war and of the seas, the love of adventure and
the desire of advancement cause others to regard with the
same indifference ; and these motives are so prevalent, that
the dispersion of families and the consequent disruption of
natural ties, if not occasioned by necessity, would now
in most instances be the effect of choice. Even those


to whom it is an inevitable evil, and who feel it deeply as
such, look upon it as something in the appointed course of
things, as much as infirmity and age and death.

It is well for us that in early life we never think of the
vicissitudes which lie before us ; or look to them only \* ith
pleasurable anticipations as they approach.


Knows naught of changes : Age hath traced them oft,
Expects and can interpret them.*

The thought of them, when it comes across us in middle
life brings with it only a transient sadness, like the shadow
of a passing cloud. We turn our eyes from them while
they are in prospect ; but when they are in retrospect
many a longing, lingering look is cast behind. So long as
Mr. Allison was in business, he looked to Thaxted Grange
as the place where he hoped one day to enjoy the blessings
of retirement, that otium cum dignitate, which in a certain
sense the prudent citizen is more likely to attain than the
successful statesman. It was the pleasure of recollection
that gave this hope its zest and its strength. But after the
object which during so many years he had held in view had
been obtained, his day-dreams, if he had allowed them to
take their course, would have recurred more frequently to
Bishopsgate Street than they had ever wandered from
thence to the scenes of his boyhood. They recurred
thither oftener than he wished, although few men have
been more masters of themselves ; and then the remem-
brance of his wife, whom he had lost by a lingering disease
in middle age; and of the children, those who had died
during their childhood, and those who in reality were almost
as much lost to him in the ways of the world, made him
alway turn for comfort to the prospect of that better state
of existence in which they should once more all be gathered

* Isaac Comnenus.


together, and where there would be neither change nor part-
ing. His thoughts often fell into this train, when on sum-
mer evenings he was taking a solitary pipe in his arbor,
with the church in sight, and the churchyard wherein, at no
distant time, he was to be laid in his last abode. Such
musings induced a sense of sober piety, of thankfulness
for former blessings, contentment with the present, and
humble yet sure and certain hope for futurity, which might
vainly have been sought at prayer-meetings or evening lec-
tures, where indeed little good can ever be obtained with-
out some deleterious admixture, or alloy of baser feelings.

The happiness which he had found in retirement was of
a different kind from what he had contemplated; for the
shades of evening were gathering when he reached the
place of his long wished for rest, and the picture of it which
had imprinted itself on his imagination was a morning
view. But he had been prepared for this by that slow
change, of which we are not aware during its progress till
we see it reflected in others, and are thus made conscious
of it in ourselves ; and he found a satisfaction in the station
which he occupied there, too worthy in its nature to be
called pride, and which had not entered into his anticipa-
tions. It is said to have been a saying of George the
Third, that the happiest condition in which an English-
man could be placed, was just below that wherein it would
have been necessary for him to act as a Justice of the Peace,
and above that which would have rendered him liable to
parochial duties. This was just Mr. Allison's position ;
there w r as nothing which brought him into rivalry or com-
petition with the surrounding Squirarchy, and the yeomen
and peasantry respected him for his own character, as well

Online Libraryi00bostFavorite authors in prose and poetry → online text (page 58 of 66)