« ÎnapoiContinuați »
gentleman had made two official applications previously. One in 1808, and the other in 1810. But now as he was settled in a Church, the business became momentous and important. I was of course consulted, and those who know the Rev. Matthew Wilks need not be informed that it was necessary he should also be cons sulted.
“ I am sorry that Mr. Wilks's conduct has rendered it neces. sary that his name should occur so often ; but I cannot avoid it in fulfilling my pledge to unfold the character of my calumniating biographer, which I can only do by relating his different courtships, which relation will open the eyes of many parents and guardians, and make them on the alert, when there is too much prying into the secrets of the family by any persons connected with Our Academies.
" It is a lamentable fact, that our young ministers in latter years, are not ‘so anrious about the genuine piety and domestic habits of the ladies, as they are particular in inquiring how much ? This, however, is not done by them direct ; but in general is performed by graver heads, and more unsuspected persons. I do not mean this observation to apply to all the Dissenting Academies; I ain only relating what has come within my own observation; and I am bound to say, that there is a gentleman of high respectability, and who, no doubt, is actuated by a good motive, so far as benefitting the students go, connected with one Academy, of so prying and inquisitive a disposition that he is, by way of distinction, called • The Registering Officer' of all the families within the circumlocution of the Association to which he belongs, and who is, I dare say well acquainted with what is technically termed in the Acade- . mical language, the disposable property of every family in his connexion. But whether this weighing,' this inquiry into how much,' how many of the family," what relations, and grandmothers, uncles, or maiden aunts, and what expectancies,''united with the hundreds of other similar inquiries, does not savour more of this world, than of that kingdom which is in heaven, a few more years will make manifest. At all events it evinces, that many of the candidates for the highest seats in heaven, do not live on faith only, but are willing in their passage to be burdened with a little of this world's dross.
“ In the different journies I had taken to oblige the Rev. Andrew Reed, twice, if not three times, I had been to Reading. At this place lived a wealthy citizen of the name of Holmes, who had a daughter who was noted for her literary taste. When Mr. Reed had been at New-road a few months, and had, as before stated, made up his mind to get settled, he mentioned this lady to me; and from the account he gave of her, I advised him to offer himself to her, which was agreed on, and the determination was to put it into execution at once. However, one day, to my great astonishment, he told me he had been hesitating as it regarded writing to Miss Holmes, and the cause of this versatility he soon informed
me, arose from a conversation he had with Mr. Wilks, all of which he related to me, and which is nearly as follows. Speaking of Miss Holmes, Mr. Wilks said, She wont do, what can her father give her? why, not above two thousand pounds; and what is that? You will have a young family, and be dependant on your people! Now here is the widow at Petersfield, she has got from six to eight thousand pounds. No one to ask leave of! No family! You will have enough to live upon, and you will be independent of your people, and can do as you like.' This is the substance of the conversation that passed between them, as related by Mr. Reed to me, and let him deny it if it be possible. In reply to this, I represented to him the preference of a young lady to a widow, and particularly, as marrying a widow, who was much older than himself, without youthful personal attractions, while she possessed a large fortune, would subject him to the observations of the church and the world, who would begin to question the purity of his motives, which perhaps might render his usefulness ahortive. Besides possessing a beautiful young lady (I thought then she was, for I never had seen her), I observed, her father is in wealthy circumstances, and will probably give you something with her, which expectations are sufficient to counterbalance the widow's purse. These arguments, honestly and affectionately, yet powerfully and vehemently pressed by me, Mr. Reed related to Mr. Wilks. He was obstinate; however, my reasoning prevailed, and it was now settled that Mr. Reed should address Miss Holmes : and as she was under
it was thought most decorous that the letter should be inclosed to her father. This was done, and in the communica. tion to him Mr. Reed made out a pretty good tale, as it regarded his income, prospects, and possessions, in wbich grand aggregate he did not forget to include his library, which I dare say Mr. H. recollects. The tale was good and well told, but Mr. Holmes was an old bird, and was not, as we say in Yorkshire, to be caught with chaff. He had, no doubt, higher views for his daughter than a dissenting minister. He returned the letters, and forbid the correspondence in toto. Not that he was of so high an origin. He is a plain kind of man, and as to business, he had been a cheese, monger in Newgate-street; so, as it regarded rank and origin they were on par; yet Seneca, I should think, according to our clegant novelist's account of him, would have preferred the crockery to the cheesemonger's shop, as of all smells, no smell is the best smell.? And I notice this, as I then thought Mr. Holmes assumed too much in the hasty refusal he sent to Mr. Reed, but since I have seen his daughter, I thoroughly applaud the course he took, as ! have po doubt he thought it was cash, and not his daughter, Mr. Reed' was anxious for. I was quite astonished at the indifferent manner this negative was received ; and much surprized that he was so easily pacified; but then I was judging from my own feelings, and not from observing the conduct of cool and cautious calcu, lators. But my surprise arose to astonishment, when ļ found that the same ink-stand had not wanted replenishing, nor was a new pen
required, only the same one cutting and nibbing, to enable him to write to the widow, in expressions of love the most ardent, and in terms the most adoring. In fact, the letter he had written to Miss Holmes underwent but very little alteration, (although the widow was nearly double her age,) and then dispatched in regular course.
“ This affair, however, was proceeded in with caution. As soon as Mr. Wilks became acquainted with Mr. Holmes's refusal, he renewed the business about Mrs. Cave. Reed was ordered at once to write to her, which he did, but she refused him. At this Mr. Reed was somewhat chagrined, as Mr. Wilks had told him she was in love with him ; and that he could have her by holding up finger,' all of which Mr. Reed believed, as he fell into the common error of most vain young men, who think they can have any woman merely by asking. When Reed took the answer to Mr. Wilks, he sent him back for a copy of his own letter.' What! (exclaimed this acute physiognomist) do you call this a love letter ? why, it is like milk and water ! "It wont do to write this way. Cool, calcu. lating, whim-wham stuff! Why an old man like me would not write in that way! I will write to her, and you must write again.' Reed used to relate the conversations to me, and I have no doubt; whatever Reed may aver to the contrary, that Mr. Wilks will do me the justice to say it is substantially correct. Mr. Wilks did write to her, and a pretty letter it was. Almost immediately after the receipt of it, she went to a friend of mine at Portsea, a particular acquaintance of her's (at whose request I forbear at present to mention many particulars relative to this courtship, and other things she has told me,) saying she was almost hunted down by Mr. Wilks to have Reed, but she did not want to marry; and she shewed her Mr. Wilks's letter, which was at once a fatherly admo. nition to her, and an excuse for his protegee's ungallant mode of writing, yet it was in Mr. Wilks's blunt characteristic style. The following words I dare say he recollects – You are a fool :- And as for Reed he is a LUMP of PIETY.' Reed made his second attack, just after this admonitory and soothing epistle of Mr. Wilks. However, now they could not shake the widow's fortitude; neither to be frightened by Mr. Wilks's appellations, nor soothed by Mr. Reed's dictated assumption of dying love, overwhelming disuppointment, inconsolable sorrow, or imperishable and unhealable wounds. Nor was she to be beaten into consent by the powerful arm of this mighty spiritual Ajax ; nor won by all the winning strains of a youth, who, although the vanity of a Narcissus united to that of Niobe were concentrated in him, now approached this wealthy widow with the professed ardour of a Leander. What inspiration does not wealth engender!” Vol. I. p. 147.
We shall not venture to comment upon this statement. From the wild strain in which Mr. Barnett occasionally indulges, it is not possible to put implicit confidence in his assertions; but they have the semblance and garb of truth :
and if his work be a fiction, it is at least an ingenious and entertaining one. He follows his reverend friend into the pulpit, and charges him with manifold faults and omissions. The account of the manner in which he conducts himself towards his parents may be taken as a fair speciinen of the rest. If Mr. Reed can shew that this account is false, it is due to his own character to adduce the proof, and consign Mr. Barnett to the merited fate of a gross and malicious libeller.
« Mr. and Mrs. Reed being desirous of doing the best they could for their children, and incurring heavy expences for their son Andrew, while he was at the Academy, (for his mother's hand was almost always in her pocket for him,) for books, clothing, pocket-money, &c. they kept no more rooms for their own use than they absolutely wanted. In fact, so bent were they on this one object, that they not only deprived themselves of those little comforts which their station and business would have afforded, and their age required, but they put themselves to great personal inconvenience ; insomuch that the back garret in which old Mr. Reed, who was a watchmaker, worked by day, was in the night converted into a bed-room for poor Martha; and the kitchen, in which we lived and had our meals, became a bed-room at night for poor Peter; there being only four rooms in the house, independently of the shop, besides those which I occupied. The family being thus circumstanced, on Andrew's leaving the Academy, they had no place to put him, unless he chose to have a turn-up bed in the dining-room. To this small personal inconvenience, neither his pride, nor his love of indulgence could submit, although he permitted me to do it, as before stated; and, what is still more degrading to him, suffered me, while thus inconvenienced, and while he was in the receipt of nearly three times my income, to pay his owir father for his indulgence and convenience. Yet his parsimonious disposition inclined him to take shelter under the roof of his mother, well knowing that neither money nor pains would be spared (which often was the case to the ignorance of the father, which I dare say Mrs. Reed has informed him since) by his affectionate mother, to procure hiin those little niceties of which he is so fund *, but for which he appears to be indifferent.” Vol. I. p. 113.
“In general, when he had been preaching, his mother prepared a boiled fowl and oyster-sauce, ready against his return ; but the father scarcely looked at it until his son had eaten the breast and wings; and when poor Peter and Martha got the bones, they thought themselves lucky if they found any meat on them. The warmest seat in the kitchen also (even to the exclusion of his pious, aged, and venerable father, from his corner chair) was given to him by his mother, who, with the anxiety of an Eastern tyrant's slave, used to listen for his rap at the door with lively trembling,' which was like an electric shock upon her I have often laughed, and so has she, almost to hysterics, when I haye
N VOL. XX. AUGUST, 1823.
ART. VIII. Don Juan. Cantos VI. VII. VIII.
John Hunt. 1823.
There was a time when the friends of literature and virtue mourned over the occasional perversion of Lord Byron's splendid talents, and anticipated the time when they might be unexceptionably employed ; nor was this very unnatural. The lines beginning
“ When coldness wraps this suffering clay," and many other scattered passages in his works, seemed to indicate a high tone of moral feeling, and a love of lofty speculations, which might in due time and under proper regulation have rendered him a second Milton. It is needless however to remark, that all expectations of this sort have long ago subsided in the minds of the more serious and thinking part of the community; and even the silliest of our damsels have ceased to exclaim over their well-lilled albums,
« Oh what a noble mind is here o'erthrown,
Like sweet bells jangled out of tune and harsh." The spell and mystery which it was his Lordship's pleasure to cast about himself and his adventures, have become as stale and palpable as most other pieces of solemn charlatanerie ; and his tall scornful heroes, all of one family, with hearts as black as their heads, and lips curling as regularly and duly as their whiskers, have ceased to be identified with his own person. Even the Dream, that choice and characteristic piece of egotism, is regarded as a detail of very common occurrences. A great boy falls in love, as
seen poor Peter (for he was a good-tempered, open, facetious lad) jump up in imitation of her. When a knock similar to young Andrew's, was made at the door, Peter would, continuing his imitation, jocosely cry out, “ Here he comes-take care-get the slippers-now the supper-get out of the way !” &c. This young novelist's taste although much altered since that period, as it regards his mind, it being turned from solid and useful reading to Aimsy and romantic writings, is the same as it regards his physical appetite. When Mr. William Bridgman called on his father to settle my account with them, in November, 1820, (they then lodged in part of their son's house, in Cannon-street Road) a thundering knock at the door, announced the approach of some great personage. His anxious mother flew to the door, it was her son, she immediately, said to him,
What shall I get for you, my dear?' He answered as abruptly as a Siberian boor, ' A sausage, and then shut the door, but opened it again and exclaimed, • Mind ! let them be nicely done! He did not know Mr. Bridgman was there. Often since then my generous friend and myself have had a hearty laugh, when his kind mother Mrs. Bridgman has asked me when I have called in, what I would take, when I answered, • A sausage, nicely done.' For the information of his friends who may be at a loss what to get to please him, and may not know what sausages he likes, I beg to inform them, he likes the Epping,' and not beef sausages.'