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ART. XIÙ. Edal Village : or, the Fortunate Lottery Ticket. In 2 vols. Small 8vo. Price 5s. sewed. Lowndes.
1781. HIS little novel relates, in a strain somewhat lively and
uncommon, the adventures of an honest and benevolenc Thoemaker, to whom fortune had been peculiarly liberal, by a prize of ten thousand pounds in the lottery. Our Author beftows on the hero of his tale a name suitable to his profession Jerry Laft. After giving a short account of his humble birth, parentage, and education, with a touch at the company that frequented his shop-the centre of news to the whole village of Edal, and the beloved resource of little Ben the usher, from
the pains and penalties of idleness,' after his school-hours-the Author proceeds to recount the main adventures of Jerry's life, and that in particular which gave birth to all the rest. Jerry, besides his stock in trade, was possessed of fifteen pounds ready cash-unsuspected, as he imagined, by any body. It was the wages of industry, earned with honesty. Many were the anxious thoughts how to dispose of it: and his anxiety was increased by keeping his thoughts to himself. " What if I should throw the money away?-he reasoned-is it not my own ?-But if I lhould make a fortune with it -- I know then what I would do and why not? - such things have happened, and may
happen again.” Not that the ambition of being the greatest man, and lording it over every one in the village, ever entered into his head. No: if he should chance to become rich-he would still be Jerry Last, and continue to make shoes for his fair customers—he would still live on the same spot; but his little thop should be more complete, and his garden more ornamented : besides, he would clothe such poor folks as could not afford to purchase for themselves, and his goods he could afford to fell under the market-price. In short, poverty should vanish, and misery cease.
These phantasms often wandered through his brain whilft at work : and the more he thought, the more eagerly he wished to accomplish them. The resolution was at length made--and the lottery was fixed upon. · The Author describes, with tolerable success, the different emotions of Jerry's heart on this important trial of his luck; and at last brings the reader to that eventful period which pronounced Jerry a fortunate adventurer. After the space of some weeks, working cheerfully at his trade,' surrounded, as usual, by a company of news-mongers, a perfon, riding very briskly, pointed towards this very spot. Jerry's heart thumped most violently; his colour went and came; his pulse beat quick; the stranger arrived and asked fhort--if Mr. Lait lived there? Be. ing answered in the affirmative–Then I give him joy of his good fortune, says the stranger; his ticket is drawn a ten thousand pound prize! I am come express to acquaint him.
Jerry neither started up in an agony of joy, nor fainted away--though very near it: for notwithstanding repeated refolves of unconcerned bchaviour, if ever this Thould be the case-the found of ten thousand pounds was like the report of a cannon in his ears, and had like to have got the better of his firmness. He felt a sort of dizziness and fickness, such as he had never experienced before :-- a glass of water would have been a cordial :-fortunately every body's eyes were turned towards the stranger, in amaze, asking different questions, whilst Jerry recovered in part, and attempted to proceed with his work. Somebody kindly, though not intentionally, relieved him, by giving him a hearty thump on the back, taking the work out of his hands, skimming it across the room, and telling him he was a happy fellow !
Bob Swift immediately stole away, to communicate this strange news amongst the neighbours :--meeting with Bett Bouncer, he tells her, that Jerry Last had got a great fortune in the lottery. Bett meets Ann Page, and tells her the great news--and how Jerry had found a purse of money.
Ann runs home, and tells her grandmother (who is a little deaf) a long story of a purse--and money--and fuch like :---points towards
the shop where å croud was already collected ;--- and a man on horseback! Ann's incoherent tale- the fight of a horse'man-the sound of a purse--the bustle of the people all put together, produced a suspicion in the old woman, that things were not as they should be :-in short, that. Jerry was turned highwayman: in full persuasion of which, she goes on to propagate her suspicions.
The village was soon in an uproar; for the same with to propagate the news kept many from the scene of action, until they had previously acquainted such and such a neighbour: in consequence of which, and for want of right information, many whimsical stories were quickly circulated ; most of them not much to the advantage of our hero's character. Bob Swift never stopped his career, till he arrived at the end of the village ; but before he finished, he had almost forgot what he published at first starting :--it was said that he affirmed fifty thousand -at least. ... As the news had been so industriously circulated, and variously reported, curiosity to know something more operated upon most to hasten towards Jerry’s habitation. Old age, hobbling upon crutches, was in danger of being overthrown by the impetuosity of youth, running, and overturning every obstruction. Mothers, with crying infants in their arms, awakened out of sleep, could not stay behind :-for if Jerry was a gentleman, they wanted to see how he looked :--and if he was a thief, and going to be hanged, they wished for the last sight of him!
· Jerry's disgrace was at last removed, and the secret was out, which produced many surmisings, exclamations, aspirations, and ejaculations !-which his appearance, for the present, put a stop to. He had withdrawn, after the surprize, occafioned by the messenger, had a little abated, in order to dress himself; which being finished, he fewed himself to the people, and appeared filly enough: for, in his present confused state, he was at a loss how to act, speak, or look.
« His presence, however, operated like a charm upon the bystanders ; for notwithstanding they saw the identical person of Jerry Laft, yet the idea of his being a rich man, produced a sort of awe, and restrained their usual familiarity.'
The Author next describes the revelries of the people of Edal Village, on their neighbour's good fortune--conducted by Ben the butcher, for his own emolument, at the expence of honest Jerry. We must pass over the variety of subjects which are incidentally glanced at, or more designedly discusled--together with the episode of Nanny and Lubbin, and haste to the more striking events of our hero's life, after the acquisition of his fortune.
Jerry's wish was, to make the people happy; and it was to promote so benevolent an end, that he listened to the advice of the
interested butcher-who proposed a roasted ox, in order to make a splendid holiday for the villagers. Riot and disorder, intemperance, and fierce contentions, were the effects of a public rejoicing for Jerry's good fortune. His wishes were not anfwered according to his expectations—for Jerry was no friend to drunkenness, swearing, and loud uproar. His temper was mild and placid: but, in his wishes and attempts to communicate the happiness he felt, he was not always capable of distinguishing the means that were proper to effect it, from those which had a tendency to render bis benevolent intentions abortive. Jerry's mistake was the source of much disquiet to his mind. His situation was by no means enviable: he had a first glimpse of this great truth, that “ Riches bring their cares.” It was the with of his heart, after the space of a few days, to have returned to his work; but he had not courage enough to attempt the trial. The country affords none of those diversions, by which a person, who has no better employment, may kill the time, as the phrase is. Walking from place to place, from morning till evening, was most infipid amusement to one accustomed (to), and who still wished, to be in active life. His thoughts were in that confused state, that reading had lost its usual charms. Drinking, to a sober person, is harder than the most laborious drudgery : and he verily dreaded the name of entertainmentshis first had succeeded so badly.---There was one thing towards which Jerry looked with satisfaction, and this was an intended journey to London, as it would answer the different purposes of converting his paper into hard money, and seeing the town and its diversions.'
Our hero's companions, in this journey, were his old friend, the little usher, and Mr. Pounce, the attorney. There is nothing particularly striking in the character of the latter. He is like most other country-attornies, a man of consequence in the little circle of his practice !--and wholly bent on turning every thing, and every body, to his advantage. Little Ben is the Iquire of our Sir Jerry: and the Author fancies, that he fees
fome similarity betwixt his two heroes, and the celebrated Tom Jones, and his facetious companion Partridge:' and stops a moment to compare them.' He had better have gone on with his story. The comparison is neither for the credit of himself, or his heroes. Any two men, picked out at random from the medley of mankind, would have as much fimilarity to Jones and Partridge, as Jerry and Ben are said to have. The Author grants indeed--and what is strange too, he makes the concession, just after he Itops to make the comparison that • Jerry Laft had little in common with Jones, except a good perfon.' For our parts, we think Jerry Lait is more like Tobit than Tom Jones. As to liitle Ben, though as contcmptible
and worthless a being as Partridge, yet he wants every requifite to make him that entertaining character which the latter bem comes in the magic band of the inimitable FIELDING.
In the journey to London, fome trifing occurrences are now ticed ; and several common-place observations are made on them. On che arrival of our heroes, the Author describes the state of their minds on the first day's excurfion, and their visits at Guildhall (which had been the temple of Jerry's good fortune), Westminster-Abbey, and the Chapel-Royal. Little Ben's foolish rencounter with a girl of the town ; his talent at bargainmaking, and 'his. attempts that way, in a 'slop-hop in Monmouth-street, conclude the first volume.
The second open's with an account of our traveller's first visit to the Play-house. Here we found the want of Partridge! Why will Authors doubly expose their lack of invention, by attempting to tread that ground which 'hath already been occupied by superior genius?
After visiting a work-hop, 'for the purpose of asking those who sung cheerily at their labour, whether they were happy or not ? and having been unanimously anfwered in the negative, the Author conducts Jerry-now Mr. Last, and his friend the little Uther, attended by Mr. Pounce the attorney, to the Bank, where they meet a motley herd of Jews, Gentiles, Turks, Infidels, and Christians, who, though they may differ in opinion about some particulars, all agree, with great zeal, one hour in the day, and every day in the week, and every week in the year, to offer their devotions to the great god Mammon, the tutelar deity of this temple. [Voltaire hath expressed this idea, and nearly in the same words, in his Letters on the English Nation, when he speaks of the Royal Exchange.) At last, after a preface to a character,' and a description of the character itlelf-which is that of a prating, bragging, officious, good-humoured Innholder—the Author brings his travellers back to Edal Village. Their appearance at church is next described ; and the reflections on little Ben are just and pertinent enough. He was frequently viewing himself; and as soon as church-service was over, when people fell into little groups to hear the news of the week, Ben's voice was heard upon the clack, but without either square or compass, and in a very authoritative tone--for he had been abroad.. -It would not do. He was treated with contempt, being considered as an interloper, and having stepped into a place, which, if it had not been already filled, Self taid, he might have been the happy person instead. Mr. Last had money, and was the gentleman; but Ben was ftill the licite ufber, in new suit, through the bounty of his friend, in confequence of being a favourite. Ben's reason at present was blinded by folly: the rebuffs he will by and by meet with, will let him know