Hannah More.

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to lament her loss. She soon found out she was
undone ; and wrote in a strain of bitter repent-
ance 'to ask him for forgiveness. She owned
that her husband, whom she had supposed to be
a man of fashion in disguise, was a low person
in distressed circumstances. She implored that
her father, though he refused to give her bus-
band that fortune for which alone it was now
too plain he had married her, would at least al-
low her some subsistence ; for that Mr. Incle
was much in debt, and she feared in danger of
a jail.

The father's heart was half melted at this ac-
count, and his affection was for a time awaken-
ed. But Mrs. Bragwell' opposed his sending her
any assistance. She always made it a point of
duty never to forgive ; for she said it only en-
couraged those who had done wrong once to do
worse next time. For her part she had never
yet been guilty of so mean and pitiful a weak-
ness as to forgive any one ; for to pardon an in-
jury always showed either want of spirit to feel
it, or want of power to resent it. She was re-
solved she would never squander the money for
which she had worked early and late, on a bag-
gage who had thrown herself away on a beggar*
while she had a daughter single, who might yet
raise her family by a great match. I am sorry
to say that Mrs. Brag well's anger was not owing
to the ondutifulness of the daughter, or the
worthlessness of the husband ; poverty was in
her eyes the grand crime. The doctrine of for-
giveness, as a religious principle, made no more
a part of Mr. Bragwell's system than of his
wifo's ; but in natural foeling, particularly for
this offending daughter, he much exceeded
her.

In a few months the youngest Miss Bragwell
desired leave to return home u'om Mr. Worthy's.
She had, indeed, only consented to go thither
as a less evil of the two, than staying in her
father's house afler her sister's elopement But
the sobriety and simplicity of Mr. Worthy's
family were irksome to her. Habits of vanity
and idleness were become so rooted in her mind,
that any degree of restraint was a burthen ; and
though she was outwardly civil, it was easy to
see that she longed to get away. She resolved,
however, to profit by lier sister's faults ; and
made her parents easy by assuring them she
never would throw herseR away on a man wh9
1009 toorth natHng, Encouraged by these pro-
mises, which her parents thought mcluded the
whole sum and substance ofnuman wisdom,
and which was all they said they could in rea
son expect, her father allowed her to come
home.

Mr. Worthy, who accompanied her, found
Mr. Bragwell gloomy and dejected. As his
house was no longer a scene of vanity and fes-
tivity, Mr. Bragwell tried to make himself and
his friend believe that he was grown religious ;
whereas he was only become discontented. As
he had always fancied that piety was a raelan-
choly, gloomy thing, and as ho felt his own

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THE WORKS OF HANNAH MORE.



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muio really gloomy, he was willing to think
that he was growing pious. He had, indeed,
cone more constantly to church, and had taken
leaa pleasure in feasting and cards, and now
and then read a chapter in the Bible ; but all
this was because his spirits were low, and not
because his heart was changed. The outward
actions were more regular, but the inward man
was the same. Tbe forms of religion were re-
sorted to as a painful duty : but this only added
to his misery, while he was utterly ignorant of
Its spirit and its power. He still, however, re-
served religion as a loathsome medicine, to
which he feared he must have recourse at last,
and of which he even now considered every ab-
stinence from pleasure, oj every exercise of
piety, as a bitter dose. His health also was
impaired, so that his friend found him in a pi-
tiable state, neither able to receive pleasure
from the world, which he so dearly lovedf nor
from religion which he so greatly feared. He
expected to have been much commended by
Worthy for the change in his way of life ; but
Worthy, who saw that the alteration was only
owing to the loss of animal spirits, and to the
casual absence of temptation, was cautious of
flattering him too much. * I thought Mr. Wor-
thy,' said he, • to have received more comfort
from you. I was told too, that religion was full
of comfort, but I do not much find it.' — * You
were told the truth,' replied Worthy ; * religion
is full of comfort, but you must first be brought
into a state fit to receive it before it can become
so ; you most be brought to a deep and hum-
bling sense of sin. To cive you com^rt while
yoo are puffed op with high thoughts of your-
•elf^ would be to give you a strong cordial in a
high fever. Religion keeps back her cordials
till the patient is lowered and emptied : emptied
of self^ Mr. Bragwell. If you had a wonnd, it
must be examined and cleansed, ay, and probed
too, before it would be safe to pot on a healing
plfister. Curing it to the outward eye, while it
was corrupt at bottom, would only bring on a
mortification, and you would be a dead man,
while you trusted that the plaster was curing
yoo. Yon must be, indeed, a Christian before
fon can be entitled to the comforts of Chris-
lianity.'

* I am aChri<;tian,'said Mr, Bragwell ; * many
jf my friends are Christians, but I do not see
it has done us much good.' — * Christianity it-
self,' answered Worthy, * cannot make us good,
unless it be applied to our hearts. Christian
privileges will not make us Christians, unless
we make use of them. On Ihat shelf I see stands
jour medicine. The doctor orders you take it
Have you taken it V — • Yes,' replied Bragwell.
' Are you the better for it 7' said Worthy. * I
think I am,' he replied. * But,' added Mr. Wor-
thy, * are yoo the better because tbe doctor has
ordered it merely, or because you have also
taken it?' — *What a foolish question,' cried
Bragwell ; * Why to be sure the doctor might
be the best doctor, and his physic the best phy-
sic in the world ; but if it stood for ever on the
•helfl I could not expect to be cured by it. My
doctor is not a mountebank. He does not pretend
to cure by i charm. The physic is good, and as
k suits my case, though it is bitter, I take it'

Vol. I



• You have now,' said Mr. Worthy, • explain
ed undesignedly the reason why religion docs
so little good in the world. It is not a mounte-
bank ; it does not work by a charm ; but it offers
to cure your worst corruptions by wholesome,
though sometimes bitter prescriptions. But you
will not take them ; you will not apply to God
with the same earnest desire to be healed with
which you apply to your doctor ; you will not
confess your sins to one as honestly as you tell
your symptoms to the other, nor read your Bible
with the same faith and submission with which
you take your medicine. In reading it, however,
you must take care not to apply to yourself the
comforts which are not suited to your case. You
must, by the grace of God, be brought into a
condition to be entitled to tbe promises, before
jrou can expect the comfort of them. Conviction
18 not conversion ; that worldly discontent, which
is the effect of worldly disappointment, is not
that godly Borrow which worheth repentance. Be-
sides, while you have been pursuing all the gra-
tifications of the world, do not complain that you
have not all the comforts of religion too. Could
you live in the full enjoyment ol both, the Bible
would not be true,^

Bragwell, Well, sir, but I do a ffood action
sometimes; and God, who knows he did not
make us perfect, will accept it, and for the sake
of my good actions will forgive my faults.

Worthy, Depend upon it God will never for
give your sins for the sake of your virtues
There is no commutation tax there. But he
will forgive them on your sincere repentance,
for the sake of Jesus Christ Goodness is not
a single act to be done ; so that a man can say, I
have achieved it, and the thing is over ; but it
is a habit that is to be constantly maintained ;
it is a continual struggle with the opposite vice.
No man must reckon himself good for any thing
he has already done ; though he may consider
it as an evidence that he is in the right way, if
he feels a constant disposition to resist every
evil temper. But every Christian grace wiU
always find work enough; and he must not
fancy that because he has conquered once, his
virtue may now sit down and take a holyday.

Bragwell, But I thought we Christians, need
not be watchful against sin ; because Christ, as
you so oflen tell me, died for sinners.

Worthy, Do not deceive yourself: the evan.
gelical doctrines, while they so highly exalt a
Saviour do not diminish the heinousness of sin,
they rather magnify it. Do not comfort your-
self by extenuation or mitigation of sin ; but by
repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord
Jesus Christ It is not by diminishing or deny-
ing your debt ; but by confessing it, by owning
you have nothing to pay, that forgiveness is to
be hoped.

BragweU, I don't understand you. You want
to have me as good as a saint, and as penitent
as a sinner at the same time.

Worthy, I expect of every real Christian, that
is, every real penitent, that he should labour to
get his heart and life impressed with the stamp
of the Gospel. I expect to see him aimingr at a
conformity in spirit and in practice to the will
of God in Jesus Christ I expect to see him
gradually attaining towards an entire change

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THE WORKS OF HANNAH MORE.



firom fais natural self. When I see a man at
constant war with those several pursuits and
tempers which are with peculiar propriety term<
ed worldly^ it is a plain proof to me that the
chan^ must have passed on him which the
|rospeI emphatically terms becoming *a new
man.*

BragweU, I hope then I am altered enough
to please you. I am suro affliction has ma!de
such a change in me, that my best friends l^ard-
iy know me to be the same mai|.

Woriky. Tnat is not the change I mean. *Tis
true, from a merry man you are become a
gloomy man ; but that is because you have been
disappoinCsd in your schemes : the principle re-
mains unaltered. A great match for your single
daughter would at once restore all the spirits
you have lost by the imprudence of your mar-
ried one. The change the Gospel requires is of
quite another cast : it is having * a new heart
and a right spirit;' — it is being 'God*s work-
maoship ;* — it is being * created anew in Christ
Jesus unto good works ;* — it is becoming * new
creatures ;' — it is * old things being done away,
and all things made new ;* — it is by so ' learn,
ing the truth as it is in Jesus — to the putting
off the old man, and putting on the new, which
oiler Grod is created in righteousness and true
holiness;* — it is by * partaking of the divine na-
ture.' Pray observe, Mr. Bragwell, these are
not my words, nor words picked out of any fa-
naticaJ book ; they are the words of that Gospel
jrou profess to believe ; it is not a new doctrine,
It is as old as our religion itself. Though I can-
not but observe, that men are more reluctant in
believing, mora averse to adopting this doctrine
than almost any other: and indeed I do not
wonder at it ; for there is perhaps no one which
■o attacks corruption in its strong holds ; no one
which so thoroughly prohibits a lazy Christian
from uniting a life of sinful indulgence with an
outward profession of piety.

BragweU now seemed resolved to set about
the matter in earnest ; but he resolved in his own
strength : he never thought of applying for as-
sistance to the Fountain of Wisdom ; to Him
who givcth might to them who have no strength.
Unluckily, the very day Mr. Worthy took leave,
there happened to be a grand ball at the next
town, on account of the assizes. An assiz^-bali,
courteous reader ! is a scene to which gentle-
men and ladies periodically resort to celebrate
the crimes and calamities of their fellow-crea-
tures, by dancing and music, and to divert them-
selves with feasting and drinking, while un-
happy wretches are receiving sentence of death.

To this ball Miss Bragwell went, dressed out
with a double portion of finery, pouring out on
her head, in addition to her own ornaments, the
whole band-box of feathers, beads, and flowers,
her sister had lefl behind her. While she was
at th^ ball her father formed many plans of re-
ligious reformation ; he talked of lessening his
^ business, that he might have more leisure for
devotion; though not just now, vrhWe the mar-
kcte were so high ; and then he began to think
of sending a handsome subscription to the In-
firmary ; though, on second thoughts he con-
eluded he need not be in a hurry, but might as
irell leave it in his will ; though to give, and re-



pent, and reform, were tiiree things he was bent
upon. But when his daughter came home at
night so happy and so fine ! and telling how she
had danced with squire Squeeze, the great corn
contractor, and how many fine things he had
said to her, Mr. Bragwell felt the old spirit of
the world return in its full force. A marriage
with Mr. Dashall Squeeze, the cbntractctr, was
beyond his hopes; for Mr. Squeeze was sufv
posed from a very low beginning to have gul
rich during the war.

As for Mr. Squeeze, he had picked up as much
of the history of his partner between the dances
as he desired ; he was convinced there would
be no money wanting ; for Miss Bragwell, who
was now looked on as an only child, must needs
be a great fortune, and Mr. Squeeze was too
much used to advantageous contracts to let this
slip. As he was gaudily dressed, and possessed
all the arts of vulgar flattery. Miss Bragwell
eagerly caught at his proposal to wait on her
faUier next day. Squeeze was quite a man afler
Bragwell's own heart, a genius at getting mo*
ney, a fine dashing fbllow at spenoing it. He
told his wife that this was the very sort of man
for his daughter; for he got money like a Jew
and spent it like a pruice ; but whether it was
fairly got, or wisely spent, he was too much a
man of the world to inquire. Mrs. Bragwell
was not so run away with by appearances, hut
that she desired her husband to be careful, and
make himself quite sure, it was the right Mr.
Squeeze, and no impostor. But being assured
by her husband that Betsey would certainly
keep her carriage, she never gave herself one
thought with what sort of a man she was to ride
in it To have one of her daughters drive in
her own coach, filled up all her ideas of human
happiness, and drove the other daughter quite
out of her head. The marriage *.vas celebrated
with great splendour, and Mr. and Mrs. Sf^ueeae
set on for London, where they had taken a
house. t

Mr. Bragwell now tried to forget that he had
any other daughter; and if some thoughts «f
the resolutions he had made of entering on a
more religious course would sometimes force
themselves upon him, they were put off, like the
repentance of Felix, to a more convenient season;
and finding he was likely to have a grandchlldf
he became more worldly and more ambitious
than ever ; thinking this a just pretence for add-
ing house to house, and field to field. And there
is no stratagem by which men more fatally de-
ceive themselves, than when they make even
unborn children a pretence for that rapinn, or
that hoarding, of which their own covetouiiness
is the true motive. Whenever he ventured to
write to Mr. Worthy about the wealth, the gay-
ety, and the grandeur of Mr. and Mrs. Squeeze,
that faithful friend honestly reminded him of
the vanity and uncertainty of worldly greatness,
and the error he had been guilty of in marrying
his daughter before he had taken time to in-
quire into the real character of the man, saying,
that he could not help foreboding that thu hap-
piness of .a match made at a ball might have an
untimely end.

Notwithstanding Mr. Bragwell had paid dowm
a larger fortune than was prudent, for fear Mr.
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Sqaeete should Qj o^ yet he was surpriased to
receive verj soon a pressing letter from him, de-
siring him to advance a considerable sum, as he
had the offer of an advantageous purchase^
which he most lose for want of money. Brag-
well was staggered, and refused to comply ; but
his wife told him he must not be shabby to such
a gentleman as squire Squeeze ; for that she
beard on all sides such accounts of their grandeur,
their feasts, their carriages, and their liveries,
that she and her husband ought even to deny
themselves comforts to oblige such a generous
son, who did all this in honour of their daugh-
ter ; besides, if he did not send the money soon,
they might be obliged to lay down their coach,
and then she should never be able to show her
face again. At length Mr. Bragwell lent him
the money on his bond ; he knew Squeeze's in-
come was lar^ ; ibr he had carefully inquired
mto this particular, and for the rest he took his
word. Mrs. Squeeze also got great presents
ftom her mother, by representing to her how
expensively they were forced to live to keep up
their credit, and what honour she was confer-
ring on the family of the Bragwells, by spend-
ing tiieir money in such grand company.
Among many other letters she wrote her the
following:

* TO MRS. BRAGWELL.

* You canH imagine, dear mother, how charm-
ingly we live. — I lie a-bed almost all day, and
am up all night ; but it is never dark for all
that, for we bum such numbers of candles all at
once, that the sun would be of no use at all in
London. Then I am so happy ! for we are never

Juiet a moment, Sundays or working-days ; nay,
should not know which was whidi, only that
we have most pleasure on a Sunday ; because
it is the only day on which people have nothing
to do but to divert themselves. Then the great
folks are all so kind, and so good ; they have not
a bit of pride, for they will come and eat and
drink, and win my money, jusi as if I was their
equal ; and if I have got but a cold, they are so
very unhappy thai they send to know how I do ;
and though I suppose they cant rest till the foot-
man has told them, yet they arc so polite, that
if I have been dying they seem to have forgot-
ten it the next time we meet, ano not to know
but they have seen roe the day before. Oh ! they
are true friends ; and for ever smiling, and so
food of one another, that they like to meet and
enjoy one another's company by hundreds, and
always think the more the merrier. I shall ne-
ver be tired of such a. delightful life.

* Your dutiful daughter,

*BxTS£v Squkkzc'

The style of her letters, however, altered in a
tew months. She owned that though things
went on gayer and grander than ever, yet she
hardly ever saw her husband, except her house
was full of company and cards, or dancing was
going on ; that be was oflen so busy abroad he
could not come home all night ; that he always
borrowed the money her mother sent her when
he was going out on this nightiv business ; and
that the last time she had askea him for money
hfb cursed and swore, and bid her apply to tfaie



old farmer and his rib, who were made of mo-
ney. This letter Mrs. Bragwell concealed from
her husband.

At length, on some change in public affairs,
Mr. Squeeze, who had made an overcharge of
some thousand pounds in one article, lost his
contract i he was found to owe a large debt to
government, and his accounts must be made up
immediately. This was impossible ; he bad no*
only spent his large income, without making
any provision for his family, but had contracted
heav^' debts by gaming and other vices. His
creditors poured in upon him. He wrote to
Bragwell to borrow another sum ; but without
hintmg at the loss of his contract These re-
peated demands made Bragwell so uneasy, that
instead of sending him the money, he resolved
to go himself secretly to London, and judge by
his own eyes how things were going on, as his
mind strangely misgave him. He got to Mr.
Squeeze's house at^ut eleven at night, and
knocked gently, concluding that they must
needs be gone to bed. But what was his asto-
nishment to find the hall was full of men ; he
pushed through in spite of them, though to his
great surprise they insisted on knowing his
name, saying they must carry it to their lady.
This affronted him : he refused, saying, * It is
not because I am ashamed of my name. It will
pass for thousands in any market in the west of
England. Is this your London manners, not to
let a man of my credit in without knowing his
name indeed !* What was his amazement to
see every room as full of card-tables and of fine
gentlemen and ladies as it would hold. All was
so light, and so say and so fostive and so grand,
that he reproached himself for bis suspicions,
thought nothing too good for them, and resolved
secretly to give Squeeze another five hundred
pounds to help to keep up so much grandeur
and happiness. At length seeing a footman he
knew, he asked him where were nis master and
mistress, for he could not pick them out among
the company ; or rather his ideas were so con-
fused with the splendour of the scene, that he
did not know whether they were there or not
The man said, that his master had just sent for
his ladv up stairs, and he believed that he was
not well. Mr. Bragwell said he would go up
himself and look for his daughter, as he could
not speak so freely to her before all that com-
pany.

He went up, knocked at the chamber door,
and its not being opened, made him push it with
some violence. He heard a bustling noise with-
in, and again made a fruitless attempt to open
the door. At this the noise increased, and Mr.
Bragwell was struck to the heart at the sound
of a pistol from within. He now kicked oo vio-
lently against the door that it burst open, when
the first sight he saw was his daughter falling to
the ground in a fit, and Mr. Squeeze dying by a
shot from a pistol which was dropping out of
his hand. Mr. Bragwell was not the only per-
son whom the sound of the pistol had alarmed.
The servants, the company, all heard it, and all
ran up to this scene of horror. Those who had
the best of the game took care to bring up their
tricks in their hands, having had the prudence
to leave the very few who could be trusted, ta



156



THE WORKS OF HANNAH MORE.



watch the stakes, while those who had a pros- ^
pect of losing profited b? the confbsion, and
threw up their cards. All was dismay and ter-
ror. Some ran for a surgeon, others examined
the dying man ; some removed Mrs. Squeeze to
her bed, while poor Bragwell could neither see
nor hear, nor do any thinff. One of the com-
pany took up a letter whi(£ lay open upon the
table, and was addressed to him ; they read it,
hoping it might explain the horrid mystery. It
was as follows:

* TO ME. WtUkOWELL,

*Sir — Fetch home your daughter; I baTe
ruined her, myself, and the child to which she
every hour expects to be a mother. I have lost
my contract. My debts are immense. You refuse
me money ; I must die then ; but I will die like a
man of spirit. They wait to take me to prison ; I
have two executions in my house ; but I have ten
card-tables in it. I would die as I have lived.
I invited all this company, and have drunk hard
since dinner to get primed for the idreadfbl
deed. My wife refuses to write to you for an-
other thousand, and she must take the conse-
quences. Vanity has been my ruin; it has
caused all m^ crimes. Whoever is resolved to
live beyond his income is liable to every sin. He
can never say to himself Thus far shalt thoa
go and no farther. Vanity led me to commit
acts of rapine, that I might live in splendour ;
vanity makes me commit self-murder, because
I will not live in poverty. The new philosophy
•ajTs, that death is an eternal sleep; but the
new philosophy lies. Do you take heed ; it is
too late for me : the dreadful gulf yawns to
•wallow me ; I plunge into perdition : there is
no repentance in the grave, no hope in heU.
Your*s, ^c.

* Dashall Squeeze.*

The dead body was removed, and Mr. Brag,
well remaining almost without speech or motion,
the company began to think of^ retiring, much
out of humour at having their party so dis-
agreeably broken np: they comforted them-
selves, however, that it was so early (for it was
now scarcely twelve) they could finish their
evenin|r at another party or two ; so completely
do habits of pleasure^ as it is called, harden the
heart, and steel it not only against virtuous im-
pressions, but against natural feelings! Now
It was, that those who had niffhtly rioted at the



Online LibraryHannah MoreThe complete works of Hannah More → online text (page 32 of 135)