Hannah More.

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idle can guess. Afler my child was asleep at
night, 1 read a chapter in the Bible to my pa-
rents, whose eyes now began to fail them. We
then thanked God over our frugal supper of po-
tatoes, and talked over the holy men of old, the
saints, and the martyrs, who would have thought
our homely fare a luxury. We compared our
peace, and liberty, and safety, with their bonds,
and imprisonment, and tortures; and should
have been ashamed of a murmur. We then
joined in prayer, in which my absent parents
and my husband were never forgotten, and went
to rest in charity with the whole world, and at
peace in our own souls.*

*0h! my forgiving child!* interrupted Mr.
Bragwell, sobbing ; * and didst thou really pray
for thy unnatural father? and didst thou lay
thee down in rest and peace ? Then, let me tell
thee, thou wast better off than thy mother and
I were. — But no more of this; go on.'

* Whether my father-in-law had .worked be-
yond his strength, in order to support me and
my child, I know not, bht he was taken dan-
gerously ill. While he lay in this state, be re-
ceived an account that my husband was dead
in the West-Indies of the yellow fever, which
has carried off such numbers of our countrymen:
we all wept together, and prayed that his awful
death might quicken us in preparing for our
own. This shock, joined to the fatigue of nursing
her sick husband, soon brought my poor mother
to death's door. I nursed them both, and felt a
satisfaction in giving them all I had to bestow,
mv attendance, my tears, and ray prayers. I,
who was once so nice and so proud, so disdain-
ful in the midst of plenty, and so impatient un-
der the smallest inconvenience, was now enabled
to glorify God by my activity and by my sub-
mission. Though the sorrows of my heart were
enlarged, I cast my burthen on Him who cares
$jr the weary and heavy laden. After having

watched by these poor people the whole nigbt
I sat down to breakfast on my dry crust and
coarse dish of tea, witliout a murmur : my great-
est grief was, lest I should bring away the in-
fection to m^ dear boy ; for the fever was now
become putrid. I prayed to know what it was
my duty to do between my dying parents and
my helpless child. To take care of the sick and
aged, seemed to be my first duty ; so I offered
up my child to Him who is the father of the
fatherless, and be in mercy spared him to

* The cheerful piety with which these good
people breathed their last, proved to me, that the
temper of mind with which the pious poor com-
monly meet death, is the grand compensation
made them by Providence for all the hardships
of their inferior condition. If they have had few
joys and comforts in life already, and have still
fewer hopes in store, is not all fully made up to
them by their being enabled to leave this world
with stronger desires of heaven, and without
those bitter regrets after the good things of this
life, which add to the dying tortures of the
worldly rich? To the forlorn and destitute,
death is not so terrible as it is to him who siU
at ea$e in hi$ posseisiontt and who fears that
this night his soul shall be required of him.'

Mr. Bragwell felt this remark more deeply
than his daughter meant he should. He wept,
and bade her proceed.

* I followed my departed parents to the same
grave, and wept over them, but not as one who
had no hope. They had neither houses nor lands
to leave me, but they left me their Bible, their
blessing, and their example, of which I humbly
trust I shall feel the licnefits when all the riches
of this world shall have an end. Their few
effects, consisting of some poor household goods,
and some working-tools, hardly sufBced to pay
their funeral expenses. I was soon attacked
with the same fever, and saw myself, as I
thought, dying the second time; my danger
was the same, but my views were changed. I
now saw eternity in a more awful light than I
had done before, when I wickedly thought death
might be gloomily called upon as a refuge from
every common trouble. Though I had still rea-
son to be humble on account of my sin, yet, by
the grace of God, I saw death stripped of his
sting and robbed of his terrors, MnmgA him who
loved me, and gute Mmself for me ; and in the
extremity of pain, my $oul rejoiced in God my

* I recovered, however, and was chiefly sup-

rjrted by the kind clergyman's charity. When
felt myself nourished and cheered by a little
tea or broth, which he daily sent me from his
own slender provision, my heart smote me, to
think how I had daily sat down at home to a
plentiful dinner, without any sense of thankful-
ness for my own abundance, or without inquir-
ing whether my poor sick neighbours were
starving : and I sorrowfully remembered, that
what my poor sister and I used to waste through
daintiness, would now have comfbrtably fed my-
self and child. Believe me, my dear mother, a
labouring man who has been brought low by a
fever, might often be restored to his work tome
weeks sooner, if on his recovery he wu noii-

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naked and strongtbenod by a good bit from a
&riner*t table. heM than is oilen thrown to a
fiiroarite spaniel would suffice ; so that the ex-
peiMC would be almost nothing to the giver,
while to the receiver it would bring health, and
•trength, and comfort, and recruited life. And
It is with regret I must observe, that young
wooMn in our station are less attentive to the
comforts of the poor, less active in visiting the
cottages of the sick, less desirous of instructing
the young, and working for the a^d, than many
kdies of higher rank. The multitude of oppor.
tunities of Uiis sort which we neglect, among
the families of our father's distressed tenants
and workmen, will I fear, one day appear
against us.

• By the time I was tolerably recovered, I was
forced to leave the house. I had no human
prospect of subsistence. I humbly asked of Grod
to direct my steps, and to give me entire obe-
dience to his will I then cast my eye mourn-
fully on my cliild ; and though prayer had re-
l^eved my heart of a load whicn without it would
have been intolerable, my tears flowed fast,
while I cried out in the bitterness of my soul.
How many hired servants of my father have
bread enough, and to spare, and I perish with
hunger. This text appeared a kind of answer
to my prayer, and gave me courage to make one
more attempt to souen you in my favour. I re-
solved to set out directly to find you, to confess
Biv disobedience, and to beg a scanty pittance,
with which I and my child might be meanly
supported in some distant country, where we
should not, by our presence, disgrace our more
happy relations. We set out and travelled as
&st as my weak health and poor 6eorge*s little
feet and rag-^ed shoes would permit 1 brought
a Uttie bundle of such work and necessaries as
I had led, by selling which we subsisted on the
road.' — * I hope/ interrupted Brag well, • there
were no cabbn^.nots in it 7* — * At least,* said
her mother, ' I hope you did not sell them near
home ?* — * No ; I had none lefl, said Mrs. Incle,
• or I should have done it I got many a lift in
a wagon for my child and my bundle, which
wo a great relief to me, as I should diave had
hcth to carry. And hero I cannot help saying,
I wish drivers would not be too hard in their
demands, if they help a poor sick traveller on a
mUe or two, it proves a great relief to weary
bodies and naked feet; and such little cheap
charities may be considered as the cup of eoid
water, which, if given on right grounds, shall
not Use its reward.^ Here Bragwell sighed to
think that when mounted on his fine bay mare,
or driving his neat chaise, it had never once
crossed his mind that the poor way-worn foot
traveller was not equally at his ease, nor had it
ever occnrred to him that shoes wrere a neces-
«ry aoeommodation. Those who want nothing
ere apt to forget how many there are who want
every thing. Mrs. Incle went on : * I got to this
viil^ about seven this evening ; and while I
•at on the church yard wall to rest and meditate
bow I should make myself known at home, I
•aw a funeral; I inquired whose it was, and^
learnt it was my sister's. This was too much
for me, and I sank down in a fit, and knew no-
thmg that happened to me from that moment,
Vet.L L

I till I found myself in the workhouse with my
I father and Mr. Worthy.' *.

Here Mrs. Incle stopped. Grief, shame, pride,
and remorse, had quite overcome Mr. BragwelL
He wept like a child, and said he ho^^ied his
daughter would pray for him ; for that he was
not in a condition to pray for himself, though he
found nothing else could give him any comfort
His deep dejection brought on a fit of sickness.
' O ! said he, I now begin to feci an expression
in the sacrament which I used to repeat without
thinking it had any meaning, the remembrance
of my sins is grievous, the burthen of them is in-
tolerable. O ! it is awful to think what a sinner
a man may be, and yet retain a decent charac-
ter I How many thousands are in my condition,
taking to themselves all the credit of their pros-
perity, instead of giving God the glory ! heaping
up riches to their nurt, instead of dealing their
bread to the hungry ! O! let those who hear of
the Bragwell family, never say that vanity is a
little sin. In me it has been the fruitful parent
of a thousand sins — selfishness, hardness of
heart, fbrgetfulness of God. In one of my sons,
vanity was the cause of rapine, injustice extra-
vagance, ruin, self-murder. Both my daughters
were undone by vanity, though it only wore the
more harmless shape of dress, idleness, and die-
sipation. The husband of my daughter Incle it •
destroyed, by leading him to live above his sta-
tion, and to despise labeur. Vanity ensnared
the souls even of his pk)us parents, for while it
led them to wish their son in a better condition,
it led them to allow such indulgences as were
unfit for his own. O ! you who hear of us, hum-
ble yourselves under the mighty hand of God
resist high thoughts ; let every imagination bo
brought into obedience to the Son of God. If
you set a value on finery look into that grave ;
behold the mouldering body of my Betsey, who
now says to Corruption, thou art my father, and
to the worm, thou art my mother and my sister*
Look to the bloody and brainless head of her
husband. O, Mr. Worthy, how docs Providence
mock at human foresight ! I have been greedy
of gain, that the son of Mt. Squeeze might be a
great man ; he is dead ; while the child of Ti-
mothy Incle, whom I bad doomed to beggary,
will be my heir. Mr. Worthy, to you I commit
this boy's education ; teach him to value his im-
mortal soul more, and the good things of this
life less than I have done. Bring him up in the
fear of God, and in the government of his pas-
sions. Teach him that unbelief and pride are
at the root of all sin. I have found this to my
cost I trusted in my riches ; I said, ** to-mor-
row shall be as this day and more abundant" I
did not remember that for all these things Ood
would brin^ me tojudgmtmt. I am not sure that
I believed in a judgment: I am not sure that I
believed in a God.'

Bragwell at length grew better, but he never
recovered his spirits. The conduct of Mrs. Incle
through life was that of an humble Christian.
She sold all her sister's finery which her father
had given her, and gave the money to the poor ;
ssij'^ng, * It did not become one who professed
penitence to return to the gayeties of life.' Mr.
Bragwell did not oppose this ; not that he had
fully acquired a just notion of the self-denying

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■pint of religion, bat havinr a head not very
clear at making distinctions, ne was never able,
after the sight of Squeeze's mangled body, to
think of gayety and grandeur, without think-
ing at the same time of a pistol and bloody brains;
for, at his Hrst introduction into gay life had
presented him with all these objects at one view,
he never aAerwards could separate them in hb
mind. He even kept his fine beaufet of plate
always shut ; because it brought to his mind the
grand unpaid-for sideboard that he had seen laid
out for Mr. Squeeze's sapper, to the romem-
brauce of which he could not help tacking the
idea of debts, prisons, executions, and self-

Mr. Braj7well*8 heart had beea so buried ik
the love cf the world, and evil habits had be.
come BO rooted in him, that the progross he
made in religion was very slow ; yet he earn-
estly prayed and struggled against sin and
vanity; and when his unfeeling wife declared
she could not love the boy unless he was called
by their name instead of Incle, Mr. BragweU
would never consent, saying he stood in need
of every help against pride. He also eot the
letter which Squeeze wrote just before ne shot
himself, framed and glazed ; this he hung up
in his chamber, and made it a rule to go and
read it as often as he found his heart disposed to



* It u all for the best,* said Mrs. Simpson,
whenever any misfbrtone befel her. She had
ffot such a habit of vindicating Providence, that
instead of weeping and wailing under the most
trying dispensations, her chief care was to con-
vince herself and others, that however great
might be her sufferings, and however little they
eouid be accounted for at present, yet that the
Judge of all the earth could not but do right
Instead of trving to clear herself from any pos-
sible blame that might attach to her under those
misfortunes which, to speak after the manner
of men, she might seem not to have de$eroed^
she was always the first to justify Him who had
inflicted it It was not that she snperstitiously
converted every visitation into a pani9hment:
■he entertained more correct ideas of tfiat God
who overrules all events, t^e knew that some
ealamities were sent to exercise her faith, others
to purify her heart ; some to chastise her rebel,
lious will, and all to remind her that this * was
not her rest ;* that this world was not the scene,
for the full and final display of retributive jus-
tice. The honour of God was dearer to her than
her own credit, and her chief desire was- to turn
all events to his glory.

Though Mrs. Simpson was the daughter of a
clergyman, and the widow of a genteel trades-
roan, she had been reduced by a succession of
misfortunes, to accept of a room in an alms-
house. Instead of repining at the change ; in.
■tead of dwelling on her former gentility and
Mying, *how handsomely she had lived once;
and how hard it was to be reduced ; and she
little thought ever to end her days in an alms-
house ;' which is the common language of those
who were never so well off before ; she was
thankful that such an asylum was provided for
want and age ; and blessed Grod that it was to
the Christian dispensation alone that such pious
institutions owed their birth.

One fine evening, as she was sitting reading
her Bible on the little bench shaded with honey-
suckles, just before her door, who should come
and sit down by her but Mrs. Betty, who had

formerly been lady's maid at the nobleman's
house in the village of which Mrs. Simpson's
father had been minister. — Betty, eiter a life of
vanity, was, bv a train of misfortunes, brought
to this very alms-house; and though she had
taken no care by frugalit v and prudence to avoid
it, she thought it a hardship and disgrace, ia
stead of being thankful, as she ought to have
been, for such a retreat At first she did not
know Mrs. Simpson ; her large bonnet, cloak,
and brown stuff gown (for she always made her
appearance conform to her circumstances) being
very different from tlie dress she had been used
to wear when Mrs. Betty has seen her dining at
the great house ; and time and sorrow had much
altered her countenance. But when Mrs. Simp
son kindly addressed her as an old acquaintance,
she screamed with surprise—* What ! you, ma*
dam ?* cried she : * you in an alms-house, living
on charity : *yon, who used to be so charitable
yourself, that "fxm. never suffered any distress in
the parish which you could prevent V * That
may be one reason, Betty,' replied Mrs. Simp,
son, • why Providence has provided this rofbge
for my old age. — And my heart overflows with
gratitude when I look back on his g^oodneas.

* No such great goodness, methinks,' said Betty;

* why you were bom and bred a lady, and are
now reduced to live in an alms-house. * Betty,
I was born and bred a sinner, undeserving of
the mercies I have received.' * No such great
mercies,* said Betty. * Why, I heard you had
been turned out of doors ; that your husband
had broke ; and that you had been in danger of
starving, though I did not know what was be.
come of you. * It is all true, Betty, glory bo to
God ! it is all true.

* Well,' said Betty, * you are an odd sort of a
gentlewoman. If from a prosperous condition
I had been made a bankrupt, a widow, and a
beggar, I should have thought it no such mighty
matter to be thankful for : but there is no ac-
counting for taste. The neighbours used to say
that all your troubles must needs be a judgment
upon you ; but I who knew how good you were,

* A proflifftte wit of a nef^hboarin^ countnr haviof attamptod to tarn this doctrine into ridieulis nnder
same title here assumed, it occurred to tlis author that it mi^ht not b3 altogethor useless to illustrate tlis
ioetrine os Chriitian principles.

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thought it very hard yon should suffer so much ;
bat DOW I see jou reduced to an alms-house, I
beg your pardon, madam, but I am afraid the
Deign boars were in the right, and that so many
misfortunes could never have happened to you
without you had committed a great many sins
to deserve them ; for I always thought that God
is so just that he punishes us for alTour bad a&>
tions, and rewards as for all our ^d ones.*
* So he does, Betty ; but he does it m his own
wvy, and at his own time, and not according
to our notions of good and evil ; for his ways
are not as our ways.-— God, indeed, punbhes
the bad, and rewards the good ; but he does not
do it fully and finally in Uiis world. Indeed he
does not set such a value on outward things as
to make riches, and rank, and beautv, and
health, the reward of piety ; that would be act-
ing like weak and erring men, and not like a
just and holj God. Our belief in a future state
of rewards and punishments is not always so
strong as it ought to be, even now ; but how to-
tally would our faith fkil, if we regularly saw
every thing made even in this world. We shall
lose nothing by having pay-day put off. The
longest voya^ make the best returns. So far
am I from thinking that God is less just, and
future happiness less certain, because I see the
wicked sometimes prosper, and the righteous
suffer in this world, that I am rather led to be-
lieve that God is more just and heaven more
certain : for, in the first place, God will not put
off his favourite chiklren with so poor a lot as
the good things of this world ; and next, seeing
Ihst the best men here below do not often attain
to the best things ; why it only serves to strong-
en my belief that they are not the best thmga
in His eye ; and He has most assuredly reserved
for those that love Him such * good things as
eye has not seen nor ear heard.' God, by keep-
ing man in Paradise while he was innocent, and
turning him into this world as soon as he had
sinned, gave a plain proof that he never intend-
ed the world, even in its happiest state, as a
place of reward. My father gave me good prin-
ciples and useful knowledge; and while he
taught me by a habit of constant employment,
to be, if I may so say, independent of the
world ; yet he led me to a constant sense of
dependence on God.* * I do not see, however,*
interrupted Mrs. Betty, * that your religion has
been of any use to you. It has been so far
from preserving you fVom trouble, that I think
jou have had more than the usual share.*

*No,* said Mrs. Simpson;* nor did Christi-
mnity ever pretend to exempt its followers from
trouble ; this is no part of the promise. Nav,
the contrary is rather stipulated ; * in the world
je shall have tribulation.* — But if it has not
taught me to escape sorrow, I humUy hope it
has taught me how to bear it If it fatas taught
me not to feel, it has taught me not to murmur.
I will tell you a little of my story. As my fa-
ther could save little or nothing for me, he was
rerf desirous of seeing roe married to a young
gentleman in the neighbourhood, who expressed
a regard for me. But while he was anxiously
mgiged in bringing this about, my good father

• How very anlu<:ky .' interrupted Bettr-

*No, Betty,* replied Mrs. Simpson, * it was
very providential ; this man, though he main-
taioed a decent character, had a good fortune,
and lived soberlv, yet he would not have made
me happy.* • Why what could you want more
of a man V said Betty. * Religion,* returned
Mrs. Simpson. * As my father made a credit-
able appearance,*and was very charitable ; and
as I was an only child, this gentleman conclud-
ed that he could give me a considerable fortune ;
for he did not know that all the poor in his pa-
rish are the children of every pious clergyman.
Finding I had little or nothing left me, he with-
drew his attentions.* *What a sad thing!*
cried Betty. * No, it was all for the best ; Pro-
vidence overruled his covetousness for my good.
I could not have been happy with a man whose
soul was set on the perishable things of this
world ; nor did I esteem him, though I laboured
to submit my own inclinations to those of my
kind father. The very circumstance of being
left pennyless produced the direct contrary et-
feet on Mr. Simpson : he was a sensible young
man, engaged in a prosperous business : we ha3
long highly valued each other; but while my
father lived, he thought me above his hopes
We were married ; I found him an amiable, in-
dustrious, good-tempered man ; he respected re-
lijBrion and religious people ; but with excellent
dispositions, I had the grief to find him less
pious than I had hoped. He was ambitious, and
a little too much immersed in worldly schemes ;
and though I knew it was all done for my sake,
yet that did not blind me so far es to make me
think it right. He attached himself so eagerly
to business, that he thought every hour lost in
which he was not doing something that would
tend to raise me to what ho called my proper
rank. The more prosperous he grew the less
religious he became ; and I began to find that
one might be unhappy with a husband one ten-
derly loved. One day as he was standing on
some stops to reach down a parcel of goods he
fell from the top and broke his leg in two places.*

* What a dreadful misfortune !* said Mrs.
Betty. — *Wliat a signal blessing!* said Mrs.
Simpson. * Here I am sure I had reason to say
all was for the best; from that?ery hour in
which my outward troubles began, I date the
beginning of my happiness. Severe sufl'erlng,
a near prospect of death, absence from the world,
silence, reflection, and above all, the divine
blessings on the prayers and scriptures I read
to him, were the means used by our merciful
Father to turn my husband's heart — During
this confinement he was awakened to a deep
sense of his own sinfulness, of the vanity of all
this world has to bestow, and of his great need
of a Saviour. It was many months before he
could leave his bed ; during this time his busi-
ness was neglected. His principal clerk took
advantage of his absence to receive large sums
of money in his name, and absconded. On hear-
ing of this great loss, our creditors came faster
upon us than we could answer their demands ;
they grew more impatient as wc were less able
to satisfy them; one misfortuno followed an-
other; tilt at length Mr. Simpson became a
I * What an evil !* exclaimed Mrs. Betty. • Yet

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It led iu the end to niach good/ resumed Mrs.
Simpson. * We were forced to leave the town
m which we had lived with so much credit
and comfort, and to betake ourselves to a mean
lodging in a neighbouring village, till my hus-
band*8 strength should be recruited, and till we
could have time to look about ma and see what
was to be done. The first night we got to this
poor dwelling, my husband felt very sorrowful,
not for his own sake, but that he had brought

Online LibraryHannah MoreThe complete works of Hannah More → online text (page 34 of 135)