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bourhood. He died in 1792, leaving Mrs. Buxton in charge of three sons and two daughters, of whom, the subject of this biography was the eldest. His character was early developed, and comprised, even in boyhood, some of the best qualities of our nature. When at school with Dr. Burney, at Greenwich, he had a task imposed on him by an usher, as a punishment for talking in school hours. This was during the Doctor's absence; and on his return, young Buxton appealed to him, stoutly denying the charge. The usher as stoutly asserted it; but Dr. Burney stopped him, saying, “I never found the boy tell a lie, and will not disbelieve him now.' The love of truth thus early shewn, distinguished him through life. He never lost it, and its influence was conspicuous in every stage of his career, and in each department of action. He was emphatically an honest man, in the largest sense of that word. His friends relied on him with implicit faith, and his bitterest opponents, even when charging him with rashness, fanaticism, obstinacy, and spiritual pride, never ventured to impugn his sincerity. He was greatly indebted to his mother for some of his best qualities. Her influence in the formation of his character was considerable. "She was a woman,' he informs us,' of a very vigorous mind, and possessed many of the generous virtues in a very high degree. She was large-minded about everything; disinterested almost to an excess; careless of difficulty, labor, danger, or expense, in the prosecution of any great object. With these nobler qualities were united some of the imperfections which belong to that species of ardent and resolute character. Mrs. Buxton belonged to the Society of Friends, but does not appear to have made any effort to indoctrinate her sons with the principles of that body; and they were consequently baptized in infancy, according to the rites of the church of England. At the age of fifteen, having spent eight years at Dr. Burney's, without making any considerable progress in book learning, he persuaded his mother to allow him to remain at home. When no active amusement presented itself, he would sometimes spend whole days in riding about the lanes, on his old pony, with an amusing book in his hand, while graver studies were entirely laid aside. His manners were rough, and a general waywardness of disposition appears at this time to have characterized him. It was, as his biographer remarks, 'a critical time for his character;' and, happily for himself and for mankind, soft and genial influences were brought to hear on his mind. These arose from his introduction to the family of Mr. Gurney, of Earlham Hall, Norfolk, in 1801. He was then in his sixteenth year, and was charmed by the lively and kindly spirit which pervaded the whole party, (the family consisted of seven daughters and four sons), while he was surprised at finding them all, even the younger portion of the family, zealously occupied in self-education, and full of energy in every pursuit, whether of amusement or of knowledge. He was received by Mr. Gurney's family as one of themselves. They appreciated his character, looked through its outward and superficial roughness, and saw the sterling qualities of a masterly though uncultivated mind. 'He at once,' says his son, 'joined with them in reading and study, and from this visit may be dated a remarkable change in the whole tone of his character; he received a stimulus, not merely in the acquisition of knowledge, but in the formation of studious habits and intellectual tastes; nor could the same influence fail of extending to the refinement of his disposition and manners.' A characteristic anecdote is recorded of Mr. Gurney, which, being brief, we quote for the amusement of our readers. It is still fresh in the memory of his surviving children, and was borrowed by Hook, in his tale of Gilbert Gurney :
• He was a strict preserver of his game, and accordingly had an intense repugnance to every thing bordering on poaching. Upon one occasion, when walking in his park, he heard a shot fired in a neighbouring wood- he hurried to the spot, and his naturally placid temper was considerably ruffled on seeing a young officer with a pheasant at his feet, deliberately reloading his gun. As the young man, however, replied to his rather warm expressions by a polite apology, Mr. Gurney's wrath was somewhat allayed; but he could not refrain from asking the intruder what he would do, if he caught a man trespassing on his premises. I would ask him in to luncheon,' was the reply. The serenity of this impudence was not to be resisted. Mr. Gurney not only invited him to luncheon, but supplied him with dogs and a gamekeeper, and secured him excellent sport for the remainder of the day.'-p. 10.
In after life, Mr. Buxton was accustomed to refer to his connexion with the family at Earlham, as the most potent circumstance of his early days. 'I know no blessing,' he remarked, some years afterwards, of a temporal nature, (and it is not only temporal,) for which I ought to render so many thanks. It has given a colour to my life. Its influence was most positive, and pregnant with good, at that critical period between school and manhood. They were eager for improvement, I caught the infection. I was resolved to please them; and in the college of Dublin, at a distance from all my friends, and all control, their influence, and the desire to please them, kept me hard at my books, and sweetened the toil they gave. Our readers need scarcely be informed, that one of the sons of this family was the late John Joseph Gurney, of Norwich, and that Mrs. Fry was a daughter. It augured well for the future
character and course of Mr. Buxton, that another of the daughters engaged his affection, and became subsequently his wife.
Mr. Buxton expected to inherit considerable property in Ireland, and his mother therefore deemed it advisable that his education should be completed at Dublin. With this view he was placed in the family of Mr. Moore, of Donnybrook, who prepared pupils for the university; and, in October, 1803, he entered Trinity College, as a fellow-commoner. His college life was distinguished by unusual honors; and at its close he was earnestly pressed to offer himself as a candidate for the representation of the University, which, however, he wisely declined. During his residence in Dublin, he labored with great assiduity. His visits to Earlham were now bearing fruit. His habits became fixed, his character matured. He abandoned the loose and desultory style of his former life, and applied himself with characteristic energy to the proper business of the hour. He evidently felt that he had lost much by past remissness, and resolved to make up for it by redoubled exertion. His resolutions were not fruitless. His power of will was great, and it was now happily called into requisition, and was wisely directed. Throughout life he was prompt, and determined. What he resolved on was immediately done. There was no long interval between the season of reflection and of action. Whatever suspense may have marked his judgment before his decision was taken, there was no vacillation afterwards. Unsteadiness was foreign from his nature. To resolve and to act were but different stages of one process, and they invariably followed each other. The vagrant boy of Earl's Colne, who loved fishing and field-sports far better than books, gave no promise of the unwearied and distinguished student of Trinity College. But Earlham had interposed between the two, and its ennobling influences had prepared the way for all that followed. The polish it gave to the outer man was exceeded by the change wrought within. It constituted the transition stage, and was ever regarded with complacency and gratitude. He awoke to a sense of what was due to himself, and the effect is thus described, in a letter to his son, written late in life :
I am very sure that a young man may be very much what he pleases. In my own case it was so. I left school, where I had learnt little or nothing, at about the age of fourteen. I spent the next year at home, learning to hunt and shoot. Then it was that the prospect of going to College opened upon me, and such thoughts as I have expressed in this letter occurred to my mind. I made my resolutions, and I acted up to them : I gave up all desultory reading, I never looked into a novel or a newspaper- I gave up shooting. During the five years I was in Ireland, I had the liberty of going when I pleased to a capital shooting place. I never went but twice. In short, I considered every hour as precious, and I made every thing bend to my determination not to be behind any of my companions,—and thus I speedily passed from one species of character to another. I had been a boy fond of pleasure and idleness, reading only books of unprofitable entertainment-I became speedily a youth of steady habits of application, and irresistible resolution. I soon gained the ground I had lost, and I found those things which were dif. ficult and almost impossible to my idleness, easy enough to my industry; and much of my happiness and all my prosperity in life have resulted from the change I made at your age. It all rests with yourself. If you seriously resolve to be energetic and industrious, depend upon it you will for your whole life have reason to rejoice that you were wise enough to form and to act upon that determination.'-p. 15.
It was during this period, also, that an important change was first indicated in his religious views. "I am sure,' he says, about September 1806, 'that some of the happiest hours that I spend here are while I am reading our Bible, which is as great a favourite as a book can be. I never before felt so assured, that the only means of being happy, is from seek. ing the assistance of a superior being. His views subsequently became clearer, and his feelings more habitually devout. The ministry of the Rev. Josiah Pratt, at Wheeler Chapel, Spitalfields, contributed mainly to this end, and was constantly referred to by Mr. Buxton, as having led to his first real acquaintance with the doctrines of Christianity. The basis of his religious character, however, was laid previously to his acquaintance with this estimable clergyman, but his influence advanced and matured that character, till it appeared in the beautiful proportions visible in his subsequent life. An over-ruling providence, which shapes events in conformity with its own design, was, from the first, preparing him for his noble calling. As yet he did not see his destination, but now that his course is fulfilled, we recognise the wisdom which presided over its earlier stages. Whatever I have done for Africa,' said Mr. Buxton to Mr. Pratt, the seeds of it were sown in my heart in Wheeler Street Chapel.'
Mr. Buxton was married to Miss Hannah Gurney on the 13th of May, 1807, and resided for a short time at a small cottage' near Weymouth. He had originally contemplated the legal profession, but having been disappointed in his expectation of Irish property, he wisely resolved to apply himself to business, and thought of becoming a Blackwell-Hall factor. This, however, was frustrated by the offer of a situation in the brewery of his uncles, with the prospect of a partnership at the expiration of three years. He joyfully accepted the proposal, and writing to his mother in July, 1808, tells her, I was up this morning at four, and do not expect to finish my day's work before twelve to-night. He was now a thorough man of business, and devoted himself, with exemplary diligence, to his vocation. His near relationship to the conductors of the brewery was a great advantage, but his progress in life depended mainly on himself. He evidently felt this, and with his accustomed decision applied himself to his calling. His correspondence, therefore, was less extensive than in previous and succeeding years. He applied himself vigorously to his proper work, and soon obtained such a knowledge of the various departments of the brewery, as enabled him to introduce material improvements into its management. He did not, however, wholly abandon his favorite studies, and appears to have indulged, even at this early period, the idea of some day entering parliament. The subject of capital punishments engaged many of his leisure hours, and he took an active part in all the charitable objects of the Spitalfields district, more especially those connected with education, the Bible Society, and the deep sufferings of the weavers.'
A severe illness, in 1813, greatly deepened his religious convictions, and gave a fixedness to his character which it never lost. It was then,' he remarked, fifteen years afterwards, 'that some clouds in my mind were dispersed; and from that day to this, whatever reason I may have had to distrust my own salvation, I have never been harrassed by a doubt respecting our revealed religion. The healthfulness of his religion was shown in its activity. There was nothing moping or melancholy in it. It was not mere sentimentalism, a thing of feeling or of words, but an active, potent, and universal element of life. It led him to shun rather than to seek retirement, and readily to avail himself of every opportunity which occurred to mitigate the sufferings of others. The opposite of this is frequently the case, and much injury is thereby done to religion, as a large amount of useful service is withdrawn from the cause of practical benevolence. Nothing can be more foreign from genuine Christianity, than the sickly sentimentalism which thus assumes her name. The Divine Redeemer went about doing good, and Mr. Buxton imitated his example with most commendable diligence. The system of prison discipline early engaged his notice. It was at this time in a wretched state. Our prisons were nurseries of crime. So far from diminishing its amount, they contributed fearfully both to its extent and its enormity. Juvenile offenders were brought into contact with the vilest criminals, and many innocent persons committed on suspicion, received their first lessons in crime within the walls of our jails. The whole arrangements of these esta.