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said of him, what Lady Mary Wortley said of her kinsman, Henry Fielding, “ that give him his leg of mutton and bottle of wine, and in the very thick of calamity he would be happy for the time being.” Too well able to seize a passing moment of enjoyment, he was always scheming, never performing: always looking forward with some romantic plan which was sure to succeed, and never put in practice. I believe he wrote more titles of non-existing books than Rabelais. At length, he found his mistake. My poor father! He grew deeply acquainted with prisons, and began to lose his graces and his good name, and became irritable with conscious error, and almost took hope out of the heart that loved him, and was too often glad to escape out of its society. Yet such an art had he of making his home comfortable when he chose, and of settling himself to the most tranquil pleasures, that if she could have ceased to look forward about her children, I believe, with all his faults, those evenings would have brought unmingled satisfaction to her, when after settling the little apartment, brightening the fire, and bringing out the coffee, my mo
ther knew that her husband was going to read Saurin or Barrow to her, with his fine voice, and unequivocal enjoyment.
We thus struggled on between quiet and disturbance, between placid readings and frightful knocks at the door, and sickness, and calamity, and hopes which hardly ever forsook
One of my brothers went to sea, -a great blow to my poor mother. The next was articled to an attorney. My brother Robert became pupil to an engraver, and my
brother John apprentice to Mr. Reynell, the printer, whose kindly manners, and deep iron voice, I well remember and respect. I had also a regard for the speaking trumpet, which ran all the way up his tall house, and conveyed his rugged whispers to his men. And his goodly wife, proud of her husband's grandfather, the Bishop; never shall I forget how much I loved her for her portly smiles and good dinners, and how often she used to make me measure heights with her fair daughter Caroline, and found me wanting; which I thought not quite so hospitable.
As my father's misfortunes, in the first instance, were owing to feelings the most respected, so the causes of them subsequently (and the reader will be good enough to keep this in mind) were not unmixed with feelings of the kindest nature. He hampered himself greatly with becoming security for other people; and, though unable to settle himself to any regular work, his pen was always at the service of those who required it for memorials or other helps. As to his children, he was healthy and sanguine, and always looked forward to being able to do something for them; and something for them he did, if it was only in grafting his animal spirits on the maternal stock, and setting them an example of independent thinking. But he did more. He really took great care, considering his unbusiness-like habits, towards settling them in some line of life. It is our faults, not his, if we have not been all so successful as we might have been: at least, it is no more his fault, than that of the West Indian blood of which we all partake, and which has disposed all of us, more or less, to a certain aversion from business. And if it may be some vanity in us, at least it is no dishonour to our turn of mind, to hope, that we may have been the means of circulating more knowledge and entertainment in society, than if he had attained the bishoprick he looked for, and left us ticketed and labelled among the acquiescent.
Towards the latter part of his life, my father's affairs were greatly retrieved by the help of his sister, Mrs. Dayrell, who came over with a property from Barbadoes. My aunt was generous; part of her property came among us also by a marriage; and my father's West Indian sun was again warm upon him. On his sister's death, to be sure, his struggles recommenced, though nothing in comparison to what they had been. Recommence, however, they did; and yet so sanguine was he in his intentions to the last, and so accustomed had my mother been to try to believe in him, and to persuade herself she did, that, not long before she died, he made the most solemn
promises of amendment, which by chance I could not help overhearing, and which she received with a tenderness and a tone of joy, the remembrance of which brings the tears into my eyes. My father had one taste well suited to his profession, and in him, I used to think, remarkable. He was very fond of sermons, which he was rarely tired of reading, or my mother of hearing. I have mentioned the effect which these used to have upon her. When she died, he could not bear to think she was dead; yet retaining, in the midst of his tears, his indestructible tendency to seize on a cheering reflection, he turned his very despair into consolation; and in saying "She is not dead, but sleeps,” I verily believe the image became almost a literal thing with him. Besides his fondness for sermons, he was a great reader of the Bible. His
His copy of it is scored with manuscript; and I believe he read a portion of it every morning to the last, let him have been as right or as wrong as he pleased for the rest of the day. This was not hypocrisy : it was habit, and real fondness; though, while he was no hypocrite, he was not, I must confess, remarkable for being explicit about himself; nor did he cease to dogmatise in a sort of official manner upon faith and virtue, lenient as he thought himself bound to be