Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

abatement, and resolved to make dice of his bones. Their cruelty grieved and afflicted him so much, that his sorrow and concern was apparent in his face, and, being asked the reason, he told, That his creditors non-compliance was the cause of it:' Upon which, a doctor in the civil laws, of the place, took him to task; told him his security there; brought examples and precedents, how Tom such an one and Sir John such an one had used their creditors, and brought them to compliance: Unmerciful rogues! What, refuse to take ten shillings in the pound? If I might advise you, they should not have above half a crown, I intend to give mine but eighteen pence; sure you are not such a fool to part with all, and suffer yourself and family to want. Such company, such examples, such documents have washed away the honest first intents of many a man, but, it could not float his; for he still designed, to his power, to satisfy every body; but unwilling to be caged in a closer prison, he there lived, and, spending upon the main stock constantly, it wasted so fast, that, at his next proposal to his creditors, he could offer but five shillings; which was also rejected: And some time after, not being watchful of his ways, the catchpoles seized him, at the suit of an old protesting friend of his, a neighbour, for whom he would have sent, hoping mercy from their former intimate acquaintance; but, the officers telling him it would be to no purpose, since that warrant, which they named to him, was but one amongst twenty they had against him; so, after squeezing him out of twenty shillings for dinner, ale, and brandy, they lodged him in the Compter; where his fellow-prisoners flocked about him, some pulling this way, some that, like watermen at turn of ebb at Billingsgate, all calling for garnish; which clamorous demand never ceased, till he had paid it. The want of liberty made him value it more than ever, and, desiring next to life his liberty, he, with prayers, intreated his creditors to accept of all that he had; but they refused it, and would not believe that he gave a true or just account, though he offered to make oath of it. So, by lying there, the poor man, for necessaries, consumed what merciful men would have been contented with; when the Parliament, out of consideration of the misery, that many (not able to pay their debts) in prison endured, ordered a discharge upon such and such conditions, under the which he was comprehended, and consequently discharged without paying one farthing; whereas, if the creditors had formerly complied, they might have had half their debts, and the man his liberty; so their confining him proved their detriment. And the like happens to others, when the insolvent die in custody; for, where it is not to be had, the king must lose his right.

Observation.

Such has been the fate of many insolvent debtors, and such has proved the return to many uncharitable and cruel creditors; and, I believe, all merciful men will think the last deserved it. Expectation to recover debts by confining an insolvent man, whereby he is debarred of opportunity to acquire wherewithal to pay his debts, is

an Egyptian proposal, to make brick without straw; quod ultra posse non est esse.

It is a very good law in the seigniory of Biscay, 'That no native Biscayner shall be imprisoned for debt above forty-eight hours; but the creditor, in that time, shall have judgment against whatsoever effects shall be found to be his, or what afterwards he, either by labour, art, or otherwise, shall acquire, yet, upon giving security not to depart the seigniory, he shall be discharged out of custody, to get his livelihood.

I have heard, that, in Holland, no creditor shall keep in prison an insolvent debtor, unless he will maintain him there, with subsistence to preserve his life; but here in England, in this point, we out-do the Dutch in cruelty, confining people to starve, contrary to humanity, mercy, or policy. One may as reasonably expect his dog should catch an hare, when chained to a post, as that a poor debtor should, in a gaol, get wherewithal to pay his debts.

Ask but the cruel man, what he would have
From his poor debtor, to his will a slave
Confin'd in prison? presently he'll say,
My money; yet acts quite contrary way
To gain his end; for, how can one expect,
Where no cause moves, there should be an effect?
What silly farmer will confine his cow
From needful herbage, for no harder low
. For food? or, in reason can he believe,
By such confinment, he shall milk receive?
As silly is the hope, when you confine
A man insolvent, for to raise the coin.

Promise of Secrecy in a Conspiracy.

THOUGH I could produce variety of instances, out of ancient history, suitable to this subject, yet I have chose one, which has come to the knowledge, and is still fresh in the memory of almost every Englishman, to shew the little trust and confidence, that is to be given to the solemn promises of secrecy in a conspiracy, or wicked design.

In the year 1699, several angry discontented men clubbed to the hatching a plot or conspiracy for subverting the present government; and, for the more certainty of effecting it, designed, contrary to honour, and common humanity, to take off the present head, that the limbs might be in confusion, wanting an immediate director for their motion; so in the hurly-burly to have proclaimed one, who unhappily has too much proclaimed himself.

There is no need of mentioning their design at large, or the progress they had made, every man knowing the drift of their conspiracy, and the conspirators; so I will only take notice, that, after their plot was laid, the assassinators agreed on, and secrecy sworn to, at the Sun-tavern, and other places, some of them (false, first to

their country, then to their adherents). discovered the conspiracy. I wish it were done out of a repentant principle, and believing a promise to do evil ought not to be kept; but their covetous solliciting for rewards induces me to believe, that the principle of self*interest was the chief motive of their discovery; but, let it proceed from what cause soever, it is apparent, that the obligations, under which they were engaged, were not of force to keep the secret undiscovered. The like discoveries have been made at Venice, at Rome, at Genoa, and in almost all the kingdoms on the earth, tho' the greatest cautions and securities that self-preservation, or aspiring ambition could invent, to tie up the confessing tongue, have been made use of. He that will be a villain, in attempting a great evil, is not to be trusted; for it is probable he would be so in a lesser, especially if he expects to reap advantage by it.

Observation.

Seldom any resolution is so fixed, but that apparent benefit, as self-preservation, or riches, will alter it, especially when the resolve is evil; for no man, though never so much prompted by ambition, avarice, lust, or revenge, but has a monitor within, which dictates to him, that his resolve and attempt is evil in itself; and, from what one's reason informs to be bad, a man is easily drawn from effecting. So we find many men who dare undauntedly look death in the face, in a just cause, will recant and appear cowards, when ill is to be attempted; from whence has proceeded many discoveries of plots and conspiracies, to the secrecy of which, men have obliged themselves by all the ties that are counted sacred and binding. Such are to be counted repentants, because they discover the design out of an odium to the evil. But some, without considering good or evil, in relation to futurity, discover the secret conspiracies with them intrusted, not for conscience, but for lucre sake; others, when their first heat is over, grow pusillanimous, and confess to save their lives; sometimes infinite wisdom confounds their counsels and devices, leads them into errors and mistakes, and, by ways unimaginable, brings to light the hidden things of darkness.

Whilst a protecting Providence does sway,
Whilst men inspired dictates do obey,
Whilst life has value, and reward has love,
Protested secrecy in ill does prove
Of small validity; the first will act
What's consonant to justice of a fact:
The second by impulsive power command,
What won't man do to keep his wasting sand?
And bountiful reward makes men betray
Their dearest kin, and friendship wipes away.
Subject to power, and tempted by a bait,
Too pleasing to deny, of little weight
Proves promis'd privacy; then why should I
Meddle in plots, in hopes of secrecy?

The Progress of an Enquirer after Places.

THOUGH disappointments are, in some degree or other, most commonly the companions that attend and thwart the hopes and expectations of all mankind; yet have I not observed more disappointments generally to accompany any attempt, than I have the endeavours, and designs, to get into reputable places and employments, as by the sequel will appear.

An English gentleman, who, by hospitality amongst his country neighbours, had spent the greatest part of his estate; having very little, besides the mansion-seat of his family left, seeing himself slighted by those very men who had largely tasted of his bounty, seriously began to consider, how he should still support himself in some credible reputation; and, after he had run over several designing thoughts, and built castles in the air, he at last fixed upon the common hopes of getting a place, or employ, at London. To effect which, he presently sold the remaining part of his estate; and to London he came, to put in practice the scheme he had drawn, for raising once again his fortune. His first application was, to be sure, to one of the worthy burgesses that served for a neighbouring corporation, who, by the charms of bribery, and by virtue of his strong drink, had carried the election nemine contradicente; him he acquainted with his design, and desired his kind assistanee, who presently promised fair for country sake tho' he was an Irishman. Upon his promise, every morning he danced attendance, at the levee of my dear joy; and, when he walked, he kept cringing on his larboard quarter, not presuming to go cheek by jowl with one of the representatives of the nation; who had the same business during the whole sessions of parliament, that he had during the term-time, two motions a day, to Westminister and back again; but finding his waiting, and the other's promises, would signify the same thing, and the senator being gone to Tunbridge, where the proverb was on his side, he bethought himself what farther methods were to be taken; and luckily finding, on a coffee-house table, a paper intituled, A collection for improvement of husbandry and trade, by John Houghton, F. R. S.' wherein he found, that he knew of several that wanted men so or so qualified or recommended, and several that were so and so qualified and recommended, that wanted the employments which others wanted to have officiated. At first view, he thought this paper as a pillar of light to guide him in the dark: But, upon examining the inquiries after places and employs, and those that wanted agents, found they answered one. another's occasions, and that there was not one agent inquired after, but there was the same place sought for; so he despaired of success from that, seeing every one's occasion might be supplied.

[ocr errors]

Though his sleep, or rather slumbers, was unquiet and short, occasioned by the concern that hagged his thoughts about his future earthly well being, yet his lying awake was more tormenting to him, as much as impending want had then a more lively impression,

A

or

than his drowsy fancy could represent. So, trying as it were to avoid himself, he arose, slighting beauish formality, soon dressed himself, and went to Man's coffee-house; where, though it was early in the morning, he found talkative Will, a tall elderly man, with his own hair, diverting the company, sometimes in English, sometimes in French; in both languages he told stories as improbable to be true as all D. O's narrative. He took upon him the statesman, and told the company he knew of funds that would have raised money enough to defray the charge of the war, without being any pressure to the subject: He blamed all that he was pleased to think mismanagement in the concerns of the nation; and then gravely told them, how all might be prevented, which every blockhead can do, after the act is past; and, for the future, how he would have things managed; but mercy upon us, if affairs were to be dered by his managery (looking upon his conduct) it may reasonably be believed, they would have been ten times worse directed. After he had railed at several particular persons, whose names he did not tell (but described them plainer than I do him) he grumbled at the bounty bestowed upon favourites. But I suppose his cousin Harry's humour then possessed him, who always rails when he is poor; but whilst a bounty is in his pocket (which never wears it out) he is as much for praisng, as when penniless in railing and reflecting. If variety be pleasing, sure Mr. William's discourse was diverting; for he run over stories (as much as the time would allow) of men and women, of all qualities, all sorts of countries, governments, languages, horses, dogs, cocks, wine, snuff, &c. as positively as if he had been an eye or ear-witness, had travelled them all over, been a privy counsellor in every one of them; a professor of languages, owned, or laid wagers, drank, tasted, or snuffed of every But at last took opportunity (tho' no occasion offered) to tell how nigh he was related to, and how he was beloved and respected by a Dutch English nobleman; which at last startled my inquirer from the confusion the medley of his discourse had put him into, and brought into his thought, that this gentleman's interest might do him a kindness.

sort:

His approaching necessity having made him confident beyond his natural temper, he presently enquired the gentleman's name and lodging, and that day waited upon him, and, in short, desired his favour towards helping him to an employ fit for a gentleman, and, at the same time, promised to be grateful. Mr. William, who never wants complimental civility, told him, that he would assist him in what lay in his power, and mentioned to him several places that he might endeavour to get; but, knowing none then vacant, he desired he would meet him on the morrow, when he would bring a man (meaning his cousin Harry) whom the cobweb laws cannot confine (though in close confinement) who knew of forty to be disposed of. The next day, according to appointment, they all met, and Harry cajoled my enquirer, and fitted his humour to a t; indeed, he must be of a very stingy temper whom he cannot please,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »