The Life of James Lackington, Bookseller, 1746-1815

Local History Notes 24: by James Lackington (1791, rev. 1827, ed. Peter Hopkins 2004)

James Lackington was born in 1746 in Somerset, the son of a shoemaker. At ten a travelling pieman, and at 14 an apprentice shoemaker, he then found work in Bristol, where he started to read and buy books. After his first marriage, to Nancy Smith, he left for London, with half a crown (12.5p) in his pocket. He set up a combined bookstall and shoemaker’s shop in Featherstone Street, just north of what became Bunhill Fields. His stock was a sack of old theological books for which he gave a guinea (£1.05) and some scraps of leather. But a loan of £5 from a Wesleyan fund (for much of his life he was a practising Methodist), his own hard work and his wife’s thrift enabled him to build up a stock worth £25 and to give up shoemaking.

The Lackingtons moved to Chiswell Street, a little nearer in to the City, where in 1776 they both caught fever. Dorcas Turton, “the young woman that kept the house, and of whom [they] then rented the shop, parlour, kitchen and garret”, nursed them both, and fell ill herself. Nancy died, but Lackington and Dorcas survived, and shortly afterwards this “charming young woman” became the second Mrs Lackington. “Having drawn another prize in the lottery of wedlock”, wrote Lackington “I repaired the loss of one very valuable woman by the acquisition of another still more valuable”. He was right; Dorcas loved books and proved most helpful in the business.

By 1780 he had developed the trading policies that were to bring him both fame and financial success. His terms became (unusually for the time) cash only; he sold at rock-bottom prices, and he was a pioneer dealer in large quantities of publishers’ ‘remainders’, which he sold at cut price. He also bought up whole libraries, and was soon issuing catalogues of 30,000 volumes and more. By 1791, when his annual profits were £4000, and he wrote the first version of his Memoirs, he had installed himself with Dorcas in a country house in Merton and set up his own carriage.

This was Spring House, the early 18th-century house in Kingston Road, which was demolished in the 1930s and replaced by the Spring House flats. As was quite usual at the time, the Lackingtons leased rather than bought their house, although they could have easily afforded to purchase.

Around this time Lackington became the proprietor of a shop with a frontage of 43 metres (140 feet) at the southwest corner of Finsbury Square. Crowned with a dome from which flew a flag, it was called ‘The Temple of the Muses’, and was one of the capital’s tourist attractions. Within was an immense circular counter, round which it was said was room enough to drive a coach-and-six. ‘Lounging rooms’ were reached by way of a broad staircase, and there was a succession of Galleries, where the stock was cheaper and shabbier the higher one climbed.

Lackington was industrious, shrewd and vain. A tireless self-promoter, he would have been at home on today’s chat-show circuit, and his vaunted love of books seems to have died once his fortune was made. But he tells his own story with relish and (apparent) candour, and it is an entertaining read.

Now you can buy your own abridged edition of his autobiography, which merited the following comment from his editor in 1827:

“It is easy to find more important autobiographies than that of this pertinacious bookseller, sceptic and methodist, but few are more lively, curious, or characteristic.”

Although much material of a general nature has been omitted from our edition, this is still a bumper volume of 68 pages.

Review by Judith Goodman in MHS Bulletin 149 (Mar 2004)

Spring House, Merton – photograph from The Young Woman Vol. II (1893-4)
Extract from 25-inch
Ordnance Survey map of 1894-96,
showing location of Spring House,
Few of these houses
existed when
Lackington was resident in Merton.
Spring House

Spring House, Merton – photograph from The Young Woman Vol. II (1893-4)
Extract from 25-inch
Ordnance Surveymap of 1894-96,
showing location ofSpring House,
Few of these houses
existed when
Lackington wasresident in Merton.
ISBN 1 903899 43 5 Published by Merton Historical Society – February 2004

Further information on Merton Historical Society can be obtained from the Society’s website at , or from
Merton Library & Heritage Service, Merton Civic Centre, London Road, Morden, Surrey. SM4 5DX

BOOKSELLER, 1746-1815
Abridged and introduced by Peter Hopkins
James Lackington’s links with Merton date from around 1791, when he took a lease on Spring House in the Kingston
Road. This five-bay brick house, opposite Church Lane, was erected shortly before 1727, but was destroyed by fires
in 1934-5. Its history has been thoroughly chronicled by the late John Wallace. When Lackington came to Merton,
Spring House was owned by Elizabeth Simon, a widow, who lived at Merton Lodge (later Holm Elms), Wimbledon,
a little further along the Kingston Road. Mrs Simon died in 1798, and her hatchment hangs in St Mary’s Church,
Merton Park. In 1797 she had built ‘an almshouse for the reception of four poor women inhabitants of Merton’, which
still stands on the corner of Kingston Road and Mostyn Road.

1791 was also the year that Lackington published the first edition of his Memoirs, in the form of 46 letters addressed
to a ‘Friend’, recording the ‘forty-five first years’ of his life, but no mention was made of Merton in that volume.
However, a new, enlarged, edition of 1792 has several brief references to Merton, which he had made his ‘chief
residence’. Many editions followed, and the text reproduced in this publication is ‘from the latest edition’, published
in 1827, twelve years after his death, by which time there were 47 letters.

In his Memoirs Lackington recounts his early years of poverty in Somerset, and his apprenticeship at Taunton as
a shoemaker or ‘cobler’ as he frequently spelt it. He also tells of his efforts as a young man to educate himself, and
of his life-long love of books. He came to London in August 1773, with two shillings and sixpence in his pocket and,
with the help of Methodist contacts, soon found lodging and employment. His Methodist friends also helped him
when, in June 1774, he decided to set up his own establishment, combining shoe-making with the sale of books. The
bookselling took over, and by following the principles of ‘small profits’, ‘industry’, and ‘economy’ he eventually
amassed the fortune that enabled him to afford ‘a country house’ in ‘Upper Merton the most rural village in Surrey’.

Those who are conversant in history will not doubt
the fact; several similar instances being recorded of
the sagacity and nice discrimination of these animals.

Those who are conversant in history will not doubt
the fact; several similar instances being recorded of
the sagacity and nice discrimination of these animals.

Lackington’s portrait, forming the Frontispiece to the 13thedition of hisMemoirs, in Merton Local Studies Centre, reproducedby permission of Merton Library and

Heritage Service

The motto


translates as:

‘The shoemaker has profitably ventured beyond his last’

Spring House

Extract from John Rocque’s 1768 Map of Surrey, showing the rural aspect of Merton at this time


Although Lackington’s description of the various Methodist meetings and organisations – the prayer meetings, love-
feasts, watch-nights, classes, bands and select bands – may be of value to the student of 18th-century church history,
there is little to interest the modern reader in the many pages that he devotes to ridiculing the Methodists. So, in the
interests of space, and in the light of Lackington’s later regret that they were ever published, only those extracts that
are integral to the story have been retained in this abridgement.

The constraints of space have also necessitated the omission of the many anecdotes with which Lackington adorned
his narrative. What has been retained amounts to less than a half of the original text, but it contains all the biographical
material, and most of what the bookseller wrote about his business, both philosophy and practice. It also includes
his descriptions of his various travels, including an account of his triumphal return to the Somerset haunts of his

Little detail emerges about Merton, but it is clear that he found it idyllic. In his 7th edition, he writes:

“In fine weather I never leave this place for London but with great reluctance. I have a good private library, and with
a book in my hand I wander from field to field.”

A visit to the local churchyard inspired Lackington to compose an epitaph suitable for a bookseller. It was never used
for that purpose, but another epitaph in Merton churchyard is doubtless his work. This was composed for Dorcas,
his second wife, who died on 27th January 1795, aged 45. His 1792 edition of the Memoirs quotes this epitaph, together
with a tribute to his late wife, but this was not included in the 1827 edition. It has been added on page 67 of this
abridgement. There were some slight differences between the printed version and that engraved on her tomb-stone.

It should be noted that, with each edition of his Memoirs, Lackington made changes to his text. His 1792 edition claims
to have been ‘Corrected, and much enlarged; interspersed with many original humourous Stories, and droll
Anecdotes’, but several minor alterations can also be observed on comparing one edition with another, not least by
way of punctuation. In this abridgement, the spelling and punctuation of the 1827 edition have been retained, together
with his idiosyncratic use of italics.

Following Dorcas’s death, Lackington left Spring House and, within six months, married a relative of his late wife,
Mary Turton of Olveston (or Alveston) in South Gloucestershire. His later life is summarised by the editor of the
1827 edition of hisMemoirs:

“It is only necessary to add, that Mr Lackington retired from the bookselling business with a competent fortune, the
reward of his own ingenuity, industry, and tact in the way of cheap reprinting, in 1798, leaving Mr George Lackington,
a third cousin, at the head of the firm. He took up his residence at Thornbury, in Gloucestershire, in the neighbourhood
of his father-in-law, Mr Turton, a respectable attorney-at-law, of Alvestone, about three miles from Thornbury. He
subsequently purchased two estates in Alvestone, on one of which there was a genteel house, in which he made
various improvements, and took up his abode, keeping a carriage and living in great respectability. Within a year of
the appearance of his ‘Confessions,’ he erected a small chapel on his premises, in which ministers of the Wesleyan
Methodists connection regularly officiated; and ultimately he became himself a local preacher of that body, and held
forth in his turn in the neighbouring villages. His time was now chiefly occupied in visiting the sick, distributing
religious tracts, relieving the distressed poor, and preaching; and he spared no pains to convince all his acquaintances,
that the manner in which he had spent his time in London was far from affording him pleasure on reflection. He also
expressed great sorrow for the manner in which he had spoken of the Methodists in his Memoirs. In 1806 he removed
from Alvestone to Taunton, the town in which he served his apprenticeship, where he purchased some houses, and
expended 3000l. in erecting a chapel for the use of the Wesleyan Methodists, to which he added a salary of 150l. per
annum for the preacher.”

“Mr Lackington continued to reside at Taunton for two years longer, when his health declining, he determined to
live by the sea-side, and finally chose Budleigh Salterton, in Devonshire, for his future abode. Here he built another

“Soon after this event the health of the eccentric subject of this little volume rapidly declined, and he became subject
to epileptic fits. These were succeeded by apoplexy and paralysis, under the effect of which he survived longer than
might have been expected, until at length his decease took place on the 22nd of November 1815, in the seventieth
year of his age, and his remains were interred in Budleigh church-yard.

“It is easy to find more important autobiographies than that of this pertinacious bookseller, sceptic and methodist,
but few are more lively, curious, or characteristic.”

I would like to acknowledge my gratitude to Judith Goodman and to Lionel Green, both of whom generously made
available to me the fruits of their researches into Lackington’s life.


The Temple of the Muses, Finsbury Place

The Temple of the Muses, Finsbury Place

J Feltham, in The Picture of London for 1805, wrote: The
shop of Lackington, in Finsbury Square, may be deemed one of the curiosities of the metropolis, and
deserves to be visited by every stranger, on account of the vast extent of the premises, and of an immense
stock of books which are brought into one point of view.
Lackington himself, in an advertisement of 1789, described the premises as:…
elegant and commodious … for such Ladies and Gentlemen as wish to enjoy a literary Lounge, somewhat
more retired than a Public Shop will admit of. A communication is opened between the Shop and the
ground floor of my Dwelling House. This House is situated at the South West corner of Finsbury Square
and the Shop in Finsbury Place.
On top of the building was a cupola or dome with a flagstaff, from which, it is said, a flag was flown when
Lackington was in residence. The circular counter in the middle of the shop, shown opposite about 1800, was
large enough for a coach and four (some say a coach and six!) to be driven around it. According to E B
Chancellor, in his The History of the Squares of London (1907), this feat was performed by the driver of the
Yarmouth mail-coach, and later by Lackington’s own coachman, with Lackington and two friends as

Books were arranged around a series of circular galleries, where the stock was cheaper and shabbier in
condition the higher one climbed.

The building was destroyed by fire in 1841, but Lackington’s name is preserved in a street name a block south
of Finsbury Square.

A View of Finsbury Square, taken from Artillery Place.
Lackington’s house and shop can be identified by the cupola and flagstaff.


on this wonderful spot until it is late. It is remarkable, The several parts assign’d him here;
that although so many able antiquaries have devoted And, as his heart to truth inclin’d,
their time and attention to the investigation of He studied hard the truth to find.
Stonehenge, it remains still a matter undecided when Much pride he had, ’twas love of fame,

And slighted gold, to get a name;

and for what purpose this amazing pile was formed;

But fame herself prov’d greatest gain,

nor is there less cause of admiration, how stones of

For riches follow’d in her train.

such magnitude were brought hither! I shall not

Much had he read, and much had thought,

presume either to decide on this curious point, or

And yet, you see, he’s come to naught;

offer any conjectures of my own.

Or out of print, as he would say,
To be revis’d some future day;

I have now, sir, not only given you the most material

Free from errata, with addition,

circumstances of my life, but have also super-added

A new, and a complete edition.

a short sketch of some of my travels. And should the
During the winter I purpose spending most of my

fine air of Merton preserve the stock of health and
time in town, where I hope again to enjoy the

spirits which I have acquired in this last excursion, I
company of you, sir, and some others of our

intend during the summer to spend a few hours in the
philosophical friends; and when tired of

middle of three or four days in every week in
philosophizing, we will again sing our old verses,

Chiswell street, devoting the mornings and the
remainder of the evenings to my rural retreat. “What tho’ the many wholly bend,
To things beneath our state,

“Where Cheerfulness, triumphant fair,

Some poorly to be rich contend,

Dispels the painful cloud of care,

And others meanly great.

Oh sweet of language, mild of mien,

There liv’d a few in ev’ry space,

Oh, virtue’s friend, and pleasure’s queen!

Since first our kind began,

By thee our board with flow’rs is crown’d,

Who still maintain’d with better grace

By thee with songs our walks resound;

The dignity of man.”

By thee the sprightly mornings shine,
And evening hours in peace decline.” In the meantime, I am, dear friend, yours.

As my house at Merton is not far from the church P. S. I should deem myself deficient in point ofyard, I was a few evenings since walking in this

justice to the ingenious artist who painted the portrait receptacle of mortality, and recollecting the scene from whence the engraving affixed as a frontispiece between

sir Lucius O’Trigger and Acres, said to

to this volume is taken, if I did not embrace this
myself, “Here is good snug lying in this place.” So I opportunity of acknowledging the approbation it

sat down on one of the graves, and wrote the has been honoured with by all who have seen it, as a following lines, which I hope when I am gone to

striking likeness.
heaven (I am not in haste) my friends will have

The following circumstance, though to many it may

engraved on my tomb-stone.

appear in a ludicrous point of view, yet as it is a fact

LACKINGTON’S EPITAPH. which does not depend solely on my assertion, I shall
Good passenger, one moment stay, not hesitate to mention it.
And contemplate this heap of clay;

Before the portrait was finished, Mrs Lackington,

‘Tis Lackington that claims a pause,
accompanied by another lady, called on the painter

Who strove with death, but lost his cause;
A stranger genius ne’er need be, to view it. Being introduced into a room filled with
Than many a merry year was he. portraits, her little dog (the faithful Argus) being with

Some faults he had; some virtues too; her, immediately ran to that particular portrait, paying
(The devil himself should have his due;) it the same attention as he is always accustomed to do And as dame Fortune’s wheel turn’d round,

the original; which made it necessary to remove him Whether at top or bottom found,

from it, lest he should damage it; though this was not

He never once forgot his station,

accomplished without expressions of dissatisfaction

Nor e’er disown’d a poor relation;

on the part of poor Argus.

In poverty he found content,
Riches ne’er made him insolent. “He knew his lord, he knew and strove to meet,
When poor, he’d rather read than eat; And all he could, his tail, his ears, his eyes,
When rich, books form’d his highest treat. Salute his master, and confess his joys.”
His first great wish, to act with care POPE’S Odyssey.


“Where knights, and beaux, and lords, and sharpers

“Where knights, and beaux, and lords, and sharpers
run, health and happiness! But I could not help pitying Mr

Some to undo, but more to be undone.

Hughes, the manager of the theatre there; as the

Of all the plagues that from the birth of time,

company in general seem to pay but very little

Have rang’d by turns this sublunary clime,

attention to plays, while they can partake of the

And in their various forms the nations curs’d,
pleasure of walking and breathing the sea air with so

The boundless love of play is sure the worst.”
WHIST: a Poem. many of the royal family. But his majesty, whose

humanity is by no means the least of his many virtues,

Here are others again, who, like the genelemen at

will no doubt consider Mr Hughes, who is industrious

Buxton, sit drinking (often red port after salt-water)

to an extreme, as he is scarce a moment idle. For

until three or four in the morning, making a delightful

besides managing his company, performing himself

noise, to compose those in the same house who are

six, sometimes eight, characters in a week, he paints

real invalids, and who, desirous of obtaining rest,

all his own scenes, and attends to many other subjects;

retire early, though frequently to very little purpose.

and although he has had a large expensive family
I have also observed, that all the above places are as (nine children,) the theatre there, and that also at
healthy for horses as they are for their masters. For Exeter, is his own. Weymouth theatre he rebuilt
as the innkeepers depend almost entirely on the about four years since; everything is very neat; his
season, they take great care, and do all they can to scenes are fine, and his company a very good one. I
make these places comfortable. So that if gentlemen saw them perform four pieces with a deal of
have fat, lazy, prancing horses, and want to reduce pleasure, notwithstanding I had often seen the same
them in size and temper, they may be sure to have it in London. I remarked here as I had long before
done in some of the inns and stables at the various done at Bath, that the parts were more equally
watering places, where such hay is procured as must supported than they often are at Drury lane and
infallibly answer the purpose, even though they be Covent garden; for although at those places we have
allowed a double portion of corn. many first-rate actors and actresses, yet sometimes

parts are given to such wretched performers as

There is yet another very great advantage (which I

would not grace a barn, which I never saw done at

had like to have forgot) resulting from attending the

Bath or Weymouth.

watering places. Such gentlemen who happen to
have servants too honest, too industrious, too In our road home, within half a mile of Dorchester,
attentive, too cleanly, too humble, too sober, &c., by we stopped and spent half an hour in looking round
taking them to any of these places, where they have the famous Roman amphitheatre. It is close to the
so much leisure time, and where these party-coloured road on the right hand side, and covers about an acre
gentry meet together so often, and in such numbers, of ground. It is judged that ten thousand people
no one can go away unimproved, except he is a very might without interruption have beheld such exercises
dull fellow indeed. This is not merely my own as were exhibited in this school of the ancients; it is
observation; for several gentlemen of my acquaintance called Mambury, and is supposed to be the completest
assured me that they had always found their servants antiquity of the kind in England.
improved prodigiously after each of these excursions.

I also amused myself, as I travelled through
We purpose setting out for Weymouth in a day or Dorsetshire and Wiltshire, in surveying many of the
two: but as I intend that this shall be my last epistle, numerous camps, fortifications, and barrows; which
I will not conclude it until I arrive at Merton. lasting monuments of antiquity are to be seen in

“If into distant parts I vainly roam, abundance in these counties, a great number of them

And novelty from various objects try, remaining in a perfect state.

My busy thoughts reseek their wonted home,

Nor could I any longer omit the opportunity of

And sicken at the vain variety.”

seeing that stupendous piece of antiquity on Salisbury

Merton, September 11th. — We arrived here safe

Plain, the famous Stonehenge, two miles from

last night, being my birth-day. At Weymouth we had

Amesbury. We spent near two hours there in

the honour of walking several evenings on the

astonishment, and had not night come on, we should

Esplanade, with their majesties and the four princesses.

not have been able to have parted from it so soon.

His majesty seems in perfect health and spirits, and

We found a good inn at Amesbury, which proves

diffuses life and spirits to all around him. Long, very

very convenient to such whom curiosity may detain


An interior view of the extensive Library of
where above Half a Million Volumes are constantly on Sale’
from a trade card


Exterior of The Temple of the Muses about 1800 Exterior of The Temple of the Muses about 1800

all. For what purpose then do such numbers put
themselves to the inconvenience, expense, and trouble,
of travelling (frequently from distant parts of the
kingdom) and that too when many of them are in so
debilitated a state, that their very removal is attended
with extreme danger, and sometimes proves fatal?
But that those waters are not inactive, I am well
convinced, having seen the bad effects arising from
the imprudent use of them, in many instances, as well
as the happy consequences attending their being used
with due caution.

I was first led into these reflections by having been
highly diverted, when I visited Buxton several
summers, with the preposterous and absurd conduct
of some of the company who resorted thither for the
purpose of restoring their health. I remember six or
seven gentlemen informing me, that they were violently
afflicted with the gout and the rheumatism, and had
undertaken this journey in hopes of receiving benefit
by the waters. These gentlemen often rode or walked
about the cold dreary hills, in very damp wet mornings,
and afterwards drank claret from three o’clock in the
afternoon to three the next morning; but I did not
continue here long enough to be a witness of the
happy effects which must inevitably be produced by
a perseverance in such a judicious regimen.

I also visited Freestone, near Boston, in Lincolnshire,
to which place a number of tradesmen and farmers
resorted with their wives, in hopes of receiving
benefit from the use of the salt water, in a variety of
complaints; which they had been advised to do by
the faculty, for a month, with particular directions to
bathe every other day, and on the intermediate days
to drink half a pint of the water in the course of that
day. But these wise people, on duly considering the
matter, were fully convinced that this would detain
them from their families and business longer than
was altogether convenient; and also (which they
supposed their medical friends never thought of)
that they could bathe the full number of times, and
drink the prescribed quantity of the water in a week
or a fortnight at farthest, and thus not only expedite
the cure, but likewise enable them to return to their
families and business so much earlier, as well as save
the necessary expenses attending their continuing for
such a length of time at the watering place. These
united considerations appeared to them so consistent
with prudence and economy, that they resolved to
put them into immediate practice. I remonstrated
with several of these good people on the impropriety
of their conduct; but whether they concluded I was
a party interested in detaining them on the spot, or

whether they deemed my judgment inferior to their
own, I know not; but I observed that some of them
bathed several times in a day, and, drank salt water by
the quart, the consequence of which was, that they left
the place when the time expired which they had
prescribed to themselves, much worse than they
came. Some indeed were so very weak, that I am
persuaded they could with difficulty reach their
homes alive. And in these cases the want of success,
instead of being attributed to the folly of the patients,
is generally transferred to the waters, and to the want
of judgment in those who advised the use of them.

I assure you, my dear friend, this is pretty much the
case at Lyme. My rooms commanding a view of the
sea, I have this and several other days noticed many
decent looking men going down the beach three or
four times in as many hours, and drinking a pint of
water each time. I have made the same observation
at Margate, Brighton, Hastings, Eastbourne, Seaton,
Charmouth, and other places, so that the observation
of Crabshaw’s nurse, in “The Adventures of Sir
Lancelot Greaves” has frequently occurred to me:
“Blessed be G— (said she) my patient is in a fair way!
His apozem has had a blessed effect! Five and-
twenty stools since three o’clock in the morning!”

Relating these particulars to a medical friend, he
informed me that such specimens of ignorance and
obstinacy were by no means confined to the watering
places; as he had in the course of his practice met with
repeated instances, where patients with a view of
hastening the cure, and getting out of the doctor’s
hands (whom the vulgar charitably suppose wish to
retain them there as long as possible) have swallowed
a half pint mixture intended for several doses at once,
and a whole box of pills in the same manner. The
consequence of which have been, that from the
violence of the operations they have remained in his
hands a considerable time — some so long as life
(thus foolishly trifled with) lasted.

But here are many of another class, some of whom,
though not all, came on purpose to bathe, but during
the whole of their continuance here, never found
time to bathe once. Some hasten to the billiard-room
as soon as they are out of their beds in the morning,
and there they continue until bed-time again. A few
of these are indeed much benefited, being cured of
consumptions in their purses, while others become
proportionably as much emaciated. And a great
number, both of ladies and gentlemen, devote the
whole of their time to dressing, eating, and playing at
whist. Charming exercise it must be! as they frequently
sit still in their chairs for eight or ten hours together.

6 63

From such a state of poverty and wretchedness,
good God, deliver every worthy character.

From such a state of poverty and wretchedness,
good God, deliver every worthy character.

“He faints, he sinks, with mighty joys opprest,

But as returning life regains its seat,

And his breath lengthens, and his pulses beat,

Yes, I believe, he cries, almighty Jove!

Heav’n rules as yet, and gods there are above.”

The old woman retained her senses and knowledge

during the whole of the time we were with them.

“They breath’d their prayer, long may such goodness


’twas all they gave, ’twas all they had to give.”

On enquiry I found, that what little property they had

possessed had been all expended for some years.

“How many once in Fortune’s lap high fed,

Solicit the cold hand of charity!

To shock us more — solicit in vain!”


Amidst this dreary scene, it was some alleviation to
learn that their pious son had given them weekly as
much as he could afford from his own little family,
and I have added enough to render them as
comfortable as their great age can possibly admit of.
But for your sake and my own, I will drop this
gloomy subject, which to me proved one of the
most affecting scenes that ever I experienced in the
whole course of my life; and I believe that had I not
afforded them relief, the dreary scene would have
followed my haunted imagination to the grave. It is
a fine speech that Metastasio puts into the mouth of

“What wouldst thou leave me, friend, if thou deniest


The glorious privilege of doing good?

Shall I my only joy forego;

No more my kind protection shew

To those by fortune’s frown pursu’d;

No more exalt each virtuous friend,

No more a bounteous hand extend,

T’ enrich the worthy and the good?”



“Ye who amid this feverish world would wear

A body free of pain, of cares the mind,

Fly the rank city; shun its turbid air:

Breathe not the chaos of eternal smoke

And volatile corruption from the dead,
The dying, sickening, and the living world
Exhal’d, to sully heaven’s transparent dome
With dim mortality. It is not air
That from a thousand lungs reeks back to thine,
Sated with exhalations, rank and fell,
The spoil of dunghills, and the putrid thaw
Of Nature; when from shape and texture she
Relapsed into fighting elements.
It is not air, but floats a nauseous mass
Of all obscene, corrupt, offensive things,
Much moisture hurts: here a sordid bath,
With daily rancour fraught, relaxes more
The solids than simple moisture can.”

ARMSTRONG’S Art of Health.

Lyme, Sept. 4, 1791.

BEING now at one of those places usually called
watering places, that is, a place where invalids resort
in great numbers for the real or pretended purpose
of drinking the waters for which each particular
situation is in repute, and bathing in them with a view
to the restoration of their health; I shall trouble you
with a few observations which have occurred to me
on the subject. I cannot entertain a doubt but that
many by this practice have been highly benefited; but
at the same time I must observe that such relief is only
to be reasonably expected where the parties possess
a sufficient share of prudence to conform to those
rules which are laid down to them by those who are
best acquainted with the nature of the several
complaints, the strength or weakness of their
constitutions, and the different virtues those several
waters possess, so as properly to adapt them to each
particular case, by drinking the waters at proper
stated periods, as well as in proper doses: besides
conforming to such a regimen as shall co-operate
with them in producing the desired effect. But,
where invalids neglect all, or indeed any of those
rules, is it not rather an absurdity to expect relief? —
I will endeavour to explain myself:

Those waters either possess powerful virtues, or they
do not. If they do, is it not obvious that some
judgment and caution is necessary in the use of them,
which must either produce good or bad effects,
according to the prudence with which they are
applied? If, on the other hand, they are of so
insignificant a nature, that they may be used at any
time, and in any proportion, without injury; and that
too in disorders and constitutions very much varying
from each other, then surely the inference must be,
that no dependence is to be placed on them, and
consequently it matters not if they are never used at


The title page of the 1827 edition of Lackington’s Memoirs,
from which the text of this booklet was taken.


Our coffin adds a nail no doubt,

Our coffin adds a nail no doubt,

I own I like to laugh, and hate to sigh,

And think, that risibility was giv’n

For human happiness, by gracious heav’n,

And that we came not into life to cry;

To wear long faces, just as if our maker,

The God of goodness, was an undertaker,

Well pleas’d to wrap the soul’s unlucky mien,

In sorrow’s dismal crape or bombasine.

Methinks I hear the lord of nature say,

“Fools how you plague me! Go, be wise, be gay.

Mirth be your motto — merry be your heart;

Good laughs are pleasant inoffensive things.”



Many of my acquaintances have frequently expressed a desire
of obtaining from myself such particulars as they could rely
on, of my passage through life.

I have even been repeatedly threatened, by some particular
friends, that, if I declined drawing up a narrative, they were
determined to do it for me. One of the first mentioned
gentlemen prevailed on me (as the most likely mode to
bring it to a period) to devote now and then a spare hour
in minuting down some of the most material occurrences
of my life, and to send them to him in an epistolary form,
intending to digest the whole into a regular narrative for
publication; that gentleman however on perusal was of
opinion that it would be additionally acceptable to the
curious part of the public, if exhibited to them in the plain
and simple manner in which these letters were written, as
thus tending to display such traits and features of a somewhat
original character, and give a more perfect idea of “I, great I,
the little hero of each tale,” than any other mode that could
have been adopted, especially as many intelligent persons
were confident I could not write at all, while others kindly
attributed to me what I never wrote.

“Then think

That he who thus is forc’d to speak,

Unless commanded, would have died in silence.”

If among the multitude of memoirs under which the press
has groaned, and with which it still continues to be tortured,
the following sheets should afford some degree of
entertainment, as a relaxation from more grave and solid
studies, to an inquisitive and candid reader (those of an
opposite description are not to be pleased with the ablest
performance,) and he should deem it not the worst nor the
most expensive among the numerous tribe, I shall esteem
myself amply rewarded; had I however been disposed to be
more attentive to entertainment and less to veracity, I might
to many have rendered it much more agreeable though less
satisfactory to myself; as I believe the observation long since
made to be just, that few books are so ill written but that
something may be gleaned from their perusal.

Should the insignificance of my Life induce any person better
qualified to present the world with his, big with interesting
events, my disposing of several large editions of that
performance will afford me more solid satisfaction as a
bookseller than any success or emolument which can possibly
arise from this my first and most probably last essay as an

If unfortunately any of my kind readers should find the
book so horrid dull and stupid that they cannot get through
it, or if they do, and wish not to travel the same road again,
I here declare my perfect readiness to supply them with
abundance of books, much more witty, much more ——
whatever they please. They never shall want books while L.
is able to assist them; and whether they prefer one of his
writing, or that of any other author, he protests he will not
be in the smallest degree offended: let every author make the
same declaration if he can. …

I will therefore conclude with a wish, that my readers may
enjoy the feast with the same good humour with which I
have prepared it. They will meet with some solid though not
much coarse food, and the major part, I hope light and easy
of digestion; those with keen appetites will partake of each
dish while others, more delicate, may select such dishes as
are more light and better adapted to their palates; they are
all genuine British fare; but, lest they should be at a loss to
know what the entertainment consists of, I beg leave to
inform them that it contains forty-seven dishes of various
sizes, which (if they calculate the expense of their admission
tickets) they will find does not amount to two-pence per
dish; and what I hope they will consider as immensely
valuable … a striking likeness of their Cook into the bargain.

… Ladies and gentlemen, pray be seated; you are heartily
welcome, and much good may it do you.


When I put the first edition to the press, I really intended
to print but a small number; so that when I was prevailed
on, by some of my friends, to print a very large impression,
I had not the least idea of ever being able to sell the whole;
and of course had not any intention of printing other
editions. But the rapid sale of the work, and the many letters
which I am continually receiving from gentlemen, in various
parts of Great Britain and Ireland, who are pleased to
honour me with their approbation and thanks, encouraged
me to read the whole over with more attention, to correct
such typographical errors as had escaped my observation,
and to improve the language in numberless places; and yet
many errors still remain.

In executing this plan, I perceived that I had omitted to
introduce many things which would have been an
improvement to the work; and while inserting them, others
occurred to my memory, so that most parts of the work are
now very much enlarged. But although these additions have
increased the expenses of printing and paper to near double
yet I have added but sixpence to the price.


William Jones, esq., of Foxdowne, near Wellington,
informed me of a remarkable prognostication in my
favour; he told me that when I was a boy, about
twelve years of age, Mr Paul, then a very considerable
wholesale linendraper, in Friday street, London, (I
believe still living) passing by my father’s house one
day, stopped at the door and asked various questions
about some guinea-pigs which I had in a box. My
answers, it seems, pleased and surprised him, and
turning towards Mr Jones, said, “Depend upon it,
sir, that boy will one day rise far above the situation
that his present mean circumstances seem to promise.”
So who knows what a great man I may yet be? —

“A double pica in the book of fame!”
Give me leave to introduce another prediction,
though not altogether so pleasing as that just related.
An Italian gentleman, and if we may judge by
appearance, a person of rank, was some years since
looking at some books of palmistry in my shop, and
at the same time endeavoured to convince me of the
reality of that science. In the midst of his discourse,
he suddenly seized my right hand, and looking for
some time with great attention on the various lines,
he informed me that I had twice been in danger of
losing my life, once by water, and once by a wound
in my head: he was certainly right, but I believe by
chance, as I have many other times been in very great
danger. He added, that I had much of the goddess
Venus in me, but much more of Mars; and assured
me that I should go to the wars, and arrive at great
honour. He likewise informed me, that I should die
by fire-arms pointed over a wall. — How far the
former part of this gentleman’s prediction may be
relied on, I will not pretend to decide, but the last part
of it was lately very near coming to such a decision
as would have proved the fallibility of that part of his
prognostication, though even in that case he might
have pleaded his being pretty near the matter of fact,
only substituting gunpowder instead of fire-arms,
and I should not have had it in my power to contend
the point with him. I will endeavour to render this
intelligible: On Tuesday, the fifth of July 1791, I very
nearly escaped being blown up with the powder-
mills belonging to Mr Bridges, at Ewell, near Merton
in Surrey. A quarter of an hour before that event took
place, I was riding out within one mile of the mills,
and having enquired of Mr Rose, at Coombe Farm,
for the way that leads round by the mills, I actually
rode part of the way, with an intent of visiting them.
But somehow or other, I scarce knew why, I turned
my horse about, and a few minutes after I had done


so I saw the fatal catastrophe; which happening by
day, resembled a large cloud of smoke, of a very light
colour, and the report reached my ears immediately
after. I instantly concluded it could be nothing less
than the powder-mills blown up; and on my return
to my house at Merton I soon learnt that it was the
very identical powder-mill that in all probability I
should have been in, or close by, at the time of the
explosion. By this accident it seems four men were
killed, some of whom had large families. The bodies
were so much mangled by the explosion, that they
could not be distinguished from each other, and the
head of one of them was thrown to a great distance.

But to proceed with my journey: I esteem myself
peculiarly happy, on one account in particular, that I
undertook it; and have only to regret it did not take
place sooner, as it tended to undeceive me in a matter
in which I had long been in an error. The case was
this: I had for seven years past supposed that the
parents of my first wife were dead; and on enquiring
after them of Mr Cash, at Bridgewater, he confirmed
the report. However, as we passed through North
Petherton, being but a mile from the place where
they formerly lived, I could not help stopping to find
out the time when they died, and what other
particulars I could learn relative to them; but, to my
very great surprise, I was informed that they were
both living at Newton, two miles distant. On this
information I gave the coachman orders to drive us
there, but still could scarcely credit that they really
were alive. — But oh, my it is utterly impossible for
me to describe the sensations of Mrs Lackington and
myself on entering

“———————— The cobwebb’d cottage,

With ragged wall of mould’ring mud.”

which contained them!

“Then poverty, grim spectre, rose,

And horror o’er the prospect threw.”


There we found — two

“Poor human ruins, tottering o’er the grave.”
The dim light on our entrance seemed a little to flash
in the socket, and every moment threatened to
disappear for ever! while their “pale withered hands
were stretched out towards me, trembling at once
with eagerness and age.” Never before did I feel the
full force of Shakspeare’s description,

“———————— Last scene of all

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness, and mere oblivion:

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

In Bristol, Exbridge, Bridgewater, Taunton,
Wellington, and other places, I amused myself with
calling on some of my masters, with whom I had
about twenty years before worked as a journeyman
shoemaker. I addressed each with, “Pray, sir, have
you got any occasion?” which is the term made use
of by journeymen in that useful occupation, when
seeking employment. Most of those honest men had
quite forgot my person, as many of them had not
seen me since I worked for them: so that it is not easy
for you to conceive with what surprise and
astonishment they gazed on me. For you must know
that I had the vanity (I call it humour) to do this in my
chariot, attended by my servants; and on telling them
who I was, all appeared to be very happy to see me.

In Bristol, Exbridge, Bridgewater, Taunton,
Wellington, and other places, I amused myself with
calling on some of my masters, with whom I had
about twenty years before worked as a journeyman
shoemaker. I addressed each with, “Pray, sir, have
you got any occasion?” which is the term made use
of by journeymen in that useful occupation, when
seeking employment. Most of those honest men had
quite forgot my person, as many of them had not
seen me since I worked for them: so that it is not easy
for you to conceive with what surprise and
astonishment they gazed on me. For you must know
that I had the vanity (I call it humour) to do this in my
chariot, attended by my servants; and on telling them
who I was, all appeared to be very happy to see me.

Some little friendship form’d and cherish’d here.”
And I assure you, my friend, it afforded much real
pleasure to see so many of my old acquaintances alive
and well, and tolerably happy. The following lines
often occurred to my mind:

“Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife,

Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray:

Along the cool sequester’d vale of life

They keep the noiseless tenor of their way.”

At Taunton and Wellington it seemed the unanimous
determination of all the poorest sort, that I should by
no means be deficient in old acquaintance.

“Faithful mem’ry wakes each past delight,

Each youthful transport bursting on the sight,

Equal in years when frolic sports display,

And Phoebus gladdens with a brighter ray,”

GREEN’S Apollonius Rhodius.

Some poor souls declared that they had known me
for fifty years (that is, years before I was born;) others
had danced me in their arms a thousand times; nay,
better still, some knew my grandmother; but, best of
all, one old man claimed acquaintance with me, for
having seen me many times on the top of a six and-
twenty round ladder, balanced on the chin of a merry
Andrew! The old man was however egregiously
mistaken, as I never was so precariously exalted, my
ambition, as you well know, taking a very different
turn. But that was of no consequence: all the old
fellow wanted was a shilling — and I gave it him. No
matter (as Sterne says) from what motive. I never
examine into these things. This I observed, that none
of them were common beggars, but poor useful
labouring people; (giving to common strollers is but
encouraging idleness and every other vice;) and as
small matters made many happy, I was supremely so

to be the means of contributing to their comfort.
And indeed who would hesitate at being the means
of diffusing happiness on such easy terms, and with
so little trouble?

“His faithful kin, though forty times remov’d,
Will let him hear how tenderly he’s lov’d;
Silence when he harangues will ne’er be broke,
But ev’ry tongue repeat his poorest joke.”

The bells rang merrily all the day of my arrival. I was
also honoured with the attention of many of the
most respectable people in and near Wellington and
other parts; some of whom were pleased to inform
me, that the reason of their paying a particular
attention to me was their having heard, and now
having themselves an opportunity of observing, that
I did not so far forget myself, as many proud upstarts
had done; that the notice I took of my poor relations
and old acquaintance merited the respect and
approbation of every real gentleman.

“By dear experience every day we find,
That riches commonly degrade the mind,
That he who, train’d through want’s instructive
Had prov’d a man of sense, becomes a fool.
As dirt on all beneath himself looks down,
Nor feels for any sorrow but his own.”

ROBERTSON’S Miscellanies.

They were also pleased to express a wish, that as soon
as I could dispose of my business, I would come
down and spend the remainder of my days among
them. Those ideas were pleasing to me, and perhaps
may be realized; I wish it may be soon.

“There could I trifle carelessly away,
The milder evening of life’s clouded day.
From business, and the world’s intrusion free,
With books, with love, with friendship and with
No farther want, no wish yet unpossest,
Could e’er disturb my unambitious breast.”

This reception was the more pleasing, as I have
sometimes observed a contrary conduct practised
by some who have been pleased to stile themselves
gentlemen, and on that score think they have a right
to treat men of business (however respectable they
may be) as by much their inferiors; and it too often
happens that one of those petty gentry who possess
but a hundred or two per annum, will behave in a
haughty manner to a man of business who spends as
many thousands; but such should be told, that a real
gentleman in any company will never either by word
or action attempt to make the meanest person feel his
inferiority, but on the contrary.



“Why should my birth keep down my mounting


Are not all creatures subject unto time;

To time, who doth abuse the world,

And fills it full of hotch-podge bastardy?

There’s legions now of beggars on the earth,

That their original did spring from kings;

And many monarchs now, whose fathers were

The riff-raff of their age; for time and fortune

Wears out a noble train to beggary;

And from the dunghill millions do advance

To state; and mark, in this admiring world

This is the course, which in the name of fate

Is seen as often as it whirls about;

The river Thames that by our door doth run,

His first beginning is but small and shallow,

Yet keeping on his course grows to a sea.”



Were I inclined to pride myself in genealogical
descent, I might here boast, that the family were
originally settled at White Lackington, in
Somersetshire, which obtained its name from one of
my famous ancestors, and give you a long detail of
their grandeur, &c., but, having as little leisure as
inclination to boast of what, if true, would add
nothing to my merits, I shall for the present only say,
that I was born at Wellington in Somersetshire, on the
31st of August, (old style) 1746. My father, George
Lackington, was a journeyman shoemaker, who had
incurred the displeasure of my grandfather for
marrying my mother, whose maiden name was Joan
Trott. She was the daughter of a poor weaver in
Wellington; a good honest man, whose end was
remarkable, though not very fortunate: in the road
between Taunton and Wellington, he was found
drowned in a ditch, where the water scarcely covered
his face: he was, ’tis conjectured,

“———— Drunk when he died.”
This happened some years before the marriage of
my father and mother.

My grandfather, George Lackington, had been a
gentleman-farmer at Langford, a village two miles
from Wellington, and acquired a pretty considerable
property. But my father’s mother dying when my
father was but about thirteen years of age, my
grandfather, who had two daughters, bound my
father apprentice to a Mr Hordly, a master-shoemaker
in Wellington, with an intention of setting him up in
that business at the expiration of his time. But my
father worked a year or two as a journeyman, and


then displeased his father by marrying a woman
without a shilling, of a mean family, and who
supported herself by spinning of wool into yarn, so
that my mother was delivered of your friend and
humble servant, her first-born, and hope of the
family, in my grandmother Trott’s poor cottage; and
that good old woman carried me privately to church,
unknown to my father, who was (nominally) a
Quaker, that being the religion of his ancestors.

About the year 1750, my father having three or four
children, and my mother proving an excellent wife,
my grandfather’s resentment had nearly subsided, so
that he supplied him with money to open a shop for
himself. But that which was intended to be of very
great service to him and his family, eventually proved
extremely unfortunate to himself and them; for, as
soon as he found he was more at ease in his
circumstances, he contracted a fatal habit of drinking,
and of course his business was neglected; so that after
several fruitless attempts of my grandfather to keep
him in trade, he was, partly by a very large family, but
more by his habitual drunkenness, reduced to his old
state of a journeyman shoemaker. Yet so infatuated
was he with the love of liquor, that the endearing ties
of husband and father could not restrain him: by
which baneful habit himself and family were involved
in the extremest poverty.

“To mortal men great loads allotted be;
But of all packs, no pack like poverty.”

So that neither myself, my brothers, or sisters, are
indebted to a father scarcely for anything that can
endear his memory, or cause us to reflect on him with

“Children, the blind effects of love and chance,
Bear from their birth the impression of a slave.”

My father and mother might have said with


“How adverse runs the destiny of some creatures!

Some only can get riches and no children;

We only can get children and no riches;

Then ’tis the prudent part to check our will,

And, till our state rise, make our blood stand still.”

But to our mother we are indebted for everything.
“She was a woman, take her for all in all, I shall not
look on her like again.” Never did I know or hear of
a woman who worked and lived so hard as she did
to support eleven children: and were I to relate the
particulars, it would not gain credit. I shall only
observe that, for many years together, she worked

nineteen or twenty hours out of every twenty-four; to see several ancient dames lift up their hands and
even when very near her time, sometimes at one hour eyes with astonishment, while I repeated by memory
she was seen walking backwards and forwards by several chapters out of the New Testament,
her spinning-wheel, and her midwife sent for the concluding me, from this specimen, to be a prodigy
next. Whenever she was asked to drink a half-pint of of science. But my career of learning was soon at an
ale, at any shop where she had been laying out a end, when my mother became so poor that she
trifling sum, she always asked leave to take it home could not afford the mighty sum of two-pence per
to her husband, who was always so mean and selfish week for my schooling. Besides, I was obliged to
as to drink it. supply the place of a nurse to several of my brothers
and sisters. The consequence of which was, that what

nineteen or twenty hours out of every twenty-four; to see several ancient dames lift up their hands and
even when very near her time, sometimes at one hour eyes with astonishment, while I repeated by memory
she was seen walking backwards and forwards by several chapters out of the New Testament,
her spinning-wheel, and her midwife sent for the concluding me, from this specimen, to be a prodigy
next. Whenever she was asked to drink a half-pint of of science. But my career of learning was soon at an
ale, at any shop where she had been laying out a end, when my mother became so poor that she
trifling sum, she always asked leave to take it home could not afford the mighty sum of two-pence per
to her husband, who was always so mean and selfish week for my schooling. Besides, I was obliged to
as to drink it. supply the place of a nurse to several of my brothers
and sisters. The consequence of which was, that what

little I had learned was presently forgot; instead of

every kind of liquor, water excepted; her food was

learning to read, &c. it very early became my chief

chiefly broth, (little better than water and oatmeal,)

delight to excel in all kinds of boyish mischiefs; and

turnips, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, &c; her children

I soon arrived to be the captain and leader of all the

fared something better, but not much, as you may

boys in the neighbourhood.

well suppose. When I reflect on the astonishing
“The sprightliest of the sprightly throng,

hardships and sufferings of so worthy a woman, and

The foremost of the train.” MISS BOWDLER.

her helpless infants, I find myself ready to curse the
husband and father that could thus involve them in So that if any old woman’s lanthorn was kicked out
such a deplorable scene of misery and distress. It is of her hand, or drawn up a sign post, or if anything

dreadful to add, that his habitual drunkenness was fastened to her tail, or if her door was nailed up,
shortened his days nearly one half, and that about I was sure to be accused as the author, whether I
twenty years since he died, unregretted by his own really were so or not.
children; nay more, while nature shed tears over his

But one of my tricks had nearly proved fatal to me.
grave, reason was thankful:

I had observed that yawning was infectious; and with
“A parting tear to nature must be paid, a determination to have some sport, I collected
Nature, in spite of us, will be obey’d.” several boys together one market-day evening, and

Thankful that the cause of their poverty and misery instructed them to go amongst the butchers; whither

was taken out of the way, I accompanied them. We placed ourselves at proper
“The pious tear the sons and daughters shed; distances, and, at a signal given, all began to yawn as
Thus they, whom long he wrong’d, bewail’d him wide as we could; which immediately had the desired
dead: effect, the whole butcher-row was set a yawning; on
With rev’rence they perform his obsequies, which I and my companions burst into a hearty
And bear their sorrows as beseems the wise.” laugh, and took to our heels. The trick pleased us so


well that, two or three weeks after, we attempted to
Read this, ye inhuman parents, and shudder! Was a renew it. But one of the butchers, who was half
law made to banish all such fathers, would it not be drunk, perceiving our intention, snatched up his
a just, nay even a mild law? I have my doubts whether cleaver and threw it me, which knocked off my hat
children should not be taught to despise and detest without doing me any harm
an unnatural brutal parent, as much as they are to love

I was about ten years of age, when a man began to

and revere a good one.

cry apple-pies about the streets: I took great notice of

LETTER III. his methods of selling his pies, and thought I could
“So have I wander’d ere those days were past, do it much better than he. I communicated to a
That childhood calls her own. Ah, happy days, neighbouring baker my thoughts on the subject in
That recollection loves, unstain’d with vice, such a manner as gave him a very good opinion of
Why are ye gone so soon?” —— my abilities for a pie-merchant, and he prevailed on


my father to let me live with him. My manner of
As I was the eldest, and my father for the first few crying pies, and my activity in selling them, soon
years a careful hard-working man, I fared something made me the favourite of all such as purchased

better than my brothers and sisters. I was put for two halfpenny apple-pies and halfpenny plum-puddings,
or three years to a day-school, kept by an old so that in a few weeks the old pie-merchant shut up
woman; and well remember how proud I used to be his shop. You see, friend, that I soon began to “make


Like you, with gay, good humour’d eye, LETTER XLVI.
And be my spirit light as air,

“Good scene expected, evil unforeseen,
Call life a jest, and laugh at care.”

Appear by turns as fortune shifts the scene;
In saying thus much, I do not mean to infer that we Some rais’d aloft come tumbling down amain,
ought not to be inspired with a laudable ambition to Then fall so hard, they bound and rise again.”
excel, not those of other countries only, but even DRYDEN’S Virgil.
those with whom we are more intimately connected; “New turns and changes every day
but that should be done without drawing invidious Are of inconstant chance the constant arts;

Soon fortune gives, soon takes away,

comparisons of the merits or demerits of others. In

She comes, embraces, nauseates you, and parts.

short, let it be the earnest endeavour of each country,

But if she stays or if she goes,

and every individual of that country in particular,

The wise man little joy or little sorrow knows;

united under our amiable monarch, to strive which

For over all there hangs a doubtful fate,

shall have a superior claim to the title of being good

And few there be that’re always fortunate.
men, useful members of society, friends to the whole One gains by what another is bereft:
human race, and peaceable subjects of a government, The frugal destinies have only left
which though not absolutely in a state of perfection, A common bank of happiness below,
(and can that man be really deemed wise who Maintain’d, like nature, by an ebb and flow.”
HOW’S Indian Emperor.

expects to meet with perfection in any human
establishment?) is still happily superior to every other I DID not intend to trouble you or the public within the known world. an account of any more of my wonderful

travels, but

being now at Lyme, for want of other amusement

But to return to Edinburgh. The old town, so called,
this rainy morning, I thought that a short account of

has not much to boast of; but the new town is by far
this journey might afford you some entertainment.

the most complete and elegant I ever saw.
My state of health being but indifferent, and Mrs

In various towns of England and Scotland, I have

Lackington’s still worse, I was induced to try what

indeed seen some good streets, and many good
effect a journey would produce;

houses; but in this the whole is uniformly fine; not one
house, much less a whole street, that can be termed “When med’cine fails, amusement should be
indifferent in the whole town. sought,

Though but to soothe the miseries of thought.”
And here let me do justice to North British hospitality,

It being immaterial what part I travelled to, and as I

and their very polite attention to such Englishmen

had not for a long time seen my native place, and

who happen to travel to the “land of cakes.” I can

perhaps might not be furnished with another

truly say, that the polite and friendly behaviour of the

opportunity, we resolved to visit it.

inhabitants towards Mrs Lackington and myself

“And many a year elaps’d, return to view

claims our warmest gratitude and sincerest thanks.

Where once the cottage stood, the hawthorn grew,

This the more civilized part of my countrymen will

Remembrance wakes with all her busy train,

readily believe; and as to those of another description

Swells at my breast————————
(happily but a comparatively small number, I trust)

I still had hopes, for pride attends us still,’
are welcome to treat my assertion with that contempt Amidst the swains to shew my book-learn’d skill.
usually attendant on prejudice, which is the result of Yes, let the rich deride, with proud disdain,
ignorance. The simple blessings of the lowly train,
To me more dear, congenial to my heart,

I returned each time through Buxton, where staying

One native charm, than all the gloss of art;
a week or two, I visited Castleton, and spent several

Spontaneous joys, where nature has its play,
hours in exploring that stupendous cavern, called the The soul adopts, and owns their first-born sway:
Devil’s A—— in the Peake. I also surveyed Poole’s Lightly they frolic o’er the vacant mind,
Hole, near Buxton, and purchased a great variety of Unenvied, unmolested, unconfin’d.”
petrifactions. In our way home I saw the great GOLDSMITH.
marble manufactory at Aston, in the water, spent

Accordingly in July last, 1791, we set out fromsome days at Matlock, the most romantic village that

Merton, which I now make my chief residence,
I ever saw, but the sight of it cost me dear; as we were

taking Bath, Bristol, &c., in our way to my native conveyed there in an old crazy post-chaise, in which

place Wellington.
I caught a violent cold, the lining being very damp.


married gentlemen;” which was quickly replied to by of the many melancholy effects resulting from the
both in the affirmative; and thus we saved our fair ridiculous practice of screaming. But I crave pardon
one the trouble of exerting herself in another scream, of the ladies: when I begin passing censure on them,
and ourselves the punishment of hearing it. it is high time to close my epistle (which if not very
long will perhaps be deemed sufficiently impertinent).

married gentlemen;” which was quickly replied to by of the many melancholy effects resulting from the
both in the affirmative; and thus we saved our fair ridiculous practice of screaming. But I crave pardon
one the trouble of exerting herself in another scream, of the ladies: when I begin passing censure on them,
and ourselves the punishment of hearing it. it is high time to close my epistle (which if not very
long will perhaps be deemed sufficiently impertinent).

Were I, as a South Briton, called upon to give my fair

by our escape from it, and becoming every moment

and unprejudiced opinion respecting the national

still lighter by the exclusion of small trunks, boxes,

character of the natives of Scotland and those of

parcels, great coats, &c.; they, in imitation of our

England, and I flatter myself I have had ample

example, making leaps, some from the inside of the

opportunities of observing the peculiar traits of both

carriage, and others from the boot; whether

countries, I would say, that if we in England excel

occasioned by the repulsion of the carriage and its

them in some virtues, they no less shine in others, and

appendages, or the attraction of the earth, I am not

if the North Britons possess some peculiar frailties

sufficiently versed in philosophy to decide. Posterity,

and prejudices, we of the South are not entirely free

when they peruse my labours, no doubt will determine

from ours; so that were the virtues and vices of a

this weighty point, and transmit it to the remotest

certain number of each country placed in an

period of time, properly dignified by F.R.S. in Phil.

hydrostatical balance (it must however be a pretty


large one,) I believe it very difficult to prognosticate
The horses finding themselves less incumbered, and which of the two would preponderate. It is true, I
urged on by the noise of the doors continually have met with one very great villain in Scotland, in Mr
flapping, increased their speed: happily however the S. which only tends to prove there are probably

carriage was stopped before it entered the city, and scoundrels to be found everywhere, and that, without
no damage was sustained either by the horses or the taking the trouble which Diogenes did, in search of
carriage. Before we left the inn, our careful son of the an honest man; and I am much afraid, were I to
whip arrived, not in the least injured, but rather enquire of some North Britons, they could without
benefited by his disaster, suddenly transformed into any great difficulty point out to me some of my own
a state of perfect sobriety; after him followed two countrymen as bad.
countrymen laden with the several articles which had

I detest all national prejudices, as I think it betrays

been so violently ejected. As I reflected that this

great weakness in the parties who are influenced by

unguarded man might not always be equally successful,

them. Every nation of the habitable globe, nay each

either to himself or his passengers, as in the present

particular province of those countries, has certainly

instance, I obtained a promise from the innkeeper

some peculiar traits belonging to it which distinguish

never to permit him to drive any carriage in future,

it from its neighbours. But if we are disposed to view

in the management of which he had any concern. But

one another with the severity of criticism, how easy,

I have since learned that the innkeeper did not keep

nay, how frequently do we discover superior virtues

his word, as he soon permitted him to drive the same

(as we think) as well as abilities in that particular spot

diligence; and a few months after, being drunk as

which gave birth to ourselves, and equally divested of

usual, he fell from the box, and was killed on the spot.

that strict impartiality which alone can enable us to
It is astonishing what a number of fatal accidents judge properly, discover proportionable blemishes
continually happen from carelessness and the want in the natives of other countries?
of sobriety in this thoughtless race of beings. I was “But travellers who want the will
informed that, only two days previous to my arrival To mark the shapes of good and ill,
at Durham, a coachman quitting his box to step into With vacant stare through Europe range,

And deem all bad, because ’tis strange.

an adjacent house, in his absence the horses began to
Through varying modes of life, we trace

move gently, and a lady in the carriage giving a loud

The finer trait, the latent grace,

scream, the noise occasioned the horses to set off at

Quite free from spleen’s incumb’ring load,

full gallop, in consequence of which a lady of

At little evils on the road;

Durham, happening unfortunately at that instant to

So while the path of life I tread,
be crossing the way, was thrown down, and the

A path to me with briars spread;
wheels passing over her, she died on the spot — one Let me its tangled mazes spy,


a noise in the world.” I lived with this baker about meeting with some good ale, he could not find in his
twelve or fifteen months, in which time I sold such heart to part from it until late at night. When we were
large quantities of pies, puddings, cakes, &c. that he returning home by the way of Rockwell Green,
often declared to his friends in my hearing, that I had (commonly called Rogue Green, from a gang of
been the means of extricating him from the robbers and house-breakers who formerly lived
embarrassing circumstances in which he was known there,) having just past the bridge, we were met by
to be involved prior to my entering his service. several men and women, who appeared to be very
much frightened, being in great agitation. They

During the time I continued with this baker, many

informed us that they were returning back to Rogue

complaints were repeatedly made against me for the

Green, in order to sleep there that night, having been

childish follies I had been guilty of, such as throwing

prevented from going home to Wellington by a

snow-balls, frightening people by flinging serpents

dreadful apparition, which they had all seen in the

and crackers into their houses, &c. I also happened

hollow way, about a quarter of a mile distant; adding,

one day to overturn my master’s son, a child about

that a person having been murdered there formerly,

four years old, whom I had been driving in a

the ghost had walked ever since; that they had never

wheelbarrow. Dreading the consequences, I

before paid much attention to the well-known report;

immediately flew from my master’s house, and (it

but now they were obliged to credit it, having had

being evening) went to a glazier’s house and procured

occular demonstration.

a parcel of broken glass; I also provided myself with
“Aided by fancy, terror lifts his head,

a pocketful of peas; and thus equipped, made fine

And leaves the dreary mansions of the dead;

diversion for myself and my unlucky companions,

In shapes more various mocks at human care,

by going to a number of houses, one after another,

Than e’er the fabled Proteus us’d to wear;

discharging a handful of peas at the windows, and

Now, in the lonely way each trav’ller’s dread,

throwing down another handful of glass in the street

He stalks a giant shape without a head;
at the same instant, which made such a noise as very Now in the haunted house, his dread domain,
much frightened many people, who had no doubt of The curtain draws, and shakes the clinking chain;
their windows being broken into a thousand pieces. Hence fabled ghosts arise, and spectres dire,
This adventure, together with throwing the child out Theme of each ev’ning tale by winter’s fire.”

of the wheelbarrow, produced such a clamour
against me amongst the old women, that I would not My father had drank too large a quantity of ale to be return to my master, and not knowing what else to much afraid

of anything, and I (who could not let slip

do, I went home to my father, who, you may easily such an opportunity of shewing my courage)
conceive, could not afford to keep me idle, so I was seconded matters for the poor terrified people to soon set down by his side to learn his own trade; and return with

us; and as I offered to lead the van, they

I continued with him several years, working when he were prevailed on to make the attempt once more;
worked, and while he was keeping Saint Monday, I but said, that it was rather presumptuous, and hoped was with boys of my own age, fighting, cudgel that no dreadful

consequence would ensue, as all the

playing, wrestling, &c. &c. company, they trusted, were honest hearted, and
intended no harm to any person: they moreover


added, that “God certainly was above the devil.” I

“Who gather round, and wonder at the tale
then advanced, and kept before the company about

Of horrid apparition, tall and ghastly,
That walks at dead of night, or takes his stand, fifty yards,
O’er some new-open’d grave: and (strange to tell!) “Whistling aloud to bear my courage up.”
Evanishes at crowing of the cock.”

But when we had walked about a quarter of a mile,

BLAIR’S Grave.

I saw at some distance before us in the hedge, theI must not forget an odd adventure that happened dreadful apparition that had so terrified our company.
when I was about twelve years of age, as it tends to Here it is! (said I). “Lord have mercy upon us!”
show in part my dauntless disposition, which replied some of the company, making a full stop; and discovered itself on many occasions in the very early would have gone

back, but shame prevented them.
part of my life. I still kept my distance before, and called out to them
to follow me, assuring them that I was determined

I had one day walked with my father to Holywell

to see what it was. They then fell one behind another,

lake, a village two miles from Wellington, where


and advanced in single files. As I proceeded I too was “Envy at last crawls forth, from hell’s dire throng,
seized with a timid apprehension, but durst not own Of all the direfull’st! Her black locks hung long,
Attir’d with curling serpents; her pale skin

and advanced in single files. As I proceeded I too was “Envy at last crawls forth, from hell’s dire throng,
seized with a timid apprehension, but durst not own Of all the direfull’st! Her black locks hung long,
Attir’d with curling serpents; her pale skin

hair heave my hat from my head, and my teeth to

And at her breast stuck vipers, which did prey

chatter in my mouth. In fact, I was greatly agitated at

Upon her panting heart both night and day,

what I saw; the object much resembled the human

Sucking black blood from thence: which to repair,

figure as to shape, but the size was prodigious.

Both day and night they left fresh poisons there.
However, I had promised to see what it was, and for

Her garments were deep-stain’d with human gore,
that purpose I obstinately ventured on about thirty And torn by her own hands, in which she bore
yards from the place where I first had sight of it. I A knotted whip and bowl, which to the brim,
then perceived that it was only a very short tree, Did green gall, and the juice of wormwood swim;
whose limbs had been newly cut off, the, doing of With which when she was drunk, she furious grew,
And lash’d herself; thus from th’ accursed crew,

which had made it much resemble a giant. I then
Envy, the worst of fiends, herself presents,

called to the company, and informed them, with a

Envy, good only when she herself torments.

hearty laugh, that they had been frightened at the


stump of a tree.

“———— The true condition of Envy is,

This story caused excellent diversion for a long time Dolor alienae felicitatis; to have
afterwards in Wellington, and I was mentioned as a Our eyes continually fix’d upon another
hero. Man’s prosperity, that is, his chief happiness,

And to grieve at that.”
The pleasure and satisfaction I received from the

I was fourteen years and a half old when I went with

discovery, and the honour I acquired for the courage

my father to work at Taunton, seven miles from

I possessed in making it, has, I believe, had much

Wellington. We had been there about a fortnight,

influence on me ever since; as I cannot recollect that

when my father informed our master, George

in any one instance I have ever observed the least fear

Bowden, that he would return to Wellington again.

of apparitions, spirits, &c. since.

Mr Bowden was then pleased to inform my father “What education did at first receive,

that he had taken a liking to me, and proposed taking

Our ripen’d age confirms us to believe.”

me apprentice, I seconded Mr Bowden’s motion


(having a better prospect in continuing with Mr

LETTER V. Bowden than in returning to Wellington with my
“————Were thy education ne’er so mean, father,) as he offered to take me without any premium,
Having thy limbs, a thousand fair courses and to find me in everything. My father accepted his

Offer themselves to thy election.”

offer, and I was immediately bound apprentice for BEN JONSON’S Every Man in his Humour.

seven years to Mr George and Mrs Mary Bowden, as Laugh if you are wise.” MARTIAL.

honest and worthy a couple as ever carried on a trade.
During the time that I lived with the baker, my name

“Religious, punctual, frugal, and so forth;
became so celebrated for selling a large number of Their word would pass for more than they were pies, puddings, &c. that for several years following, worth.”
application was made to my father, for him to POPE.
permit me to sell almanacks a few market days

They carefully attended to their shop six days in the

before and after Christmas. In this employ I took

week, and on the seventh went with their family twice

great delight, the country people being highly pleased

to an Anabaptist meeting; where little attention was

with me, and purchasing a great number of my

paid to speculative doctrines, but where sound

almanacks, which excited envy in the itinerant venders

morality was constantly inculcated.

of Moore, Wing, Poor Robin, &c. to such a degree,

For modes of faith let graceless zealots fight,

that my father often expressed his anxiety lest they

His can’t be wrong whose life is in the right.”

should some way or other do me a mischief. But I

But in this, as in many other places of worship, it was

had not the least concern, for possessing a light pair

performed in a dull spiritless manner, so that the

of heels, I always kept at a proper distance.

excellent morality taught there was not so much O, my friend, little did I imagine at that time, that I attended to as it would have been had it been
should ever excite the same poor mean spirit in many enforced, or re-enforced by the captivating powers of the booksellers of London and other places! But, of oratory.


no means calculated to display their lovely the ditch on the right hand, and the next but just
countenances to advantage; as I am persuaded the escaping that on the left; at other times we experienced
brank would cast such a gloom on the fairest of them striking proofs of the inability of our conductor
as would tend much to diminish the influence of their against the number of one-horse coal carts, not to
charms, and give pain to every beholder. It may be mention their frequently running foul of us for being
prudent, notwithstanding, still to preserve it in on the wrong side of the road; (for drivers of
terrorem, as who knows what future times may coaches and carts can be to the full as savage towards
produce? As I esteem it a very ingenious contrivance, each other in the country as in London): however,
and as there may be parts of the country still to be notwithstanding all these “hair-breadth escapes,” we
found where the application of such a machine may retained our seats till we arrived within three quarters
be useful in some Christian families (I will not say in of a mile of Durham, when at length the specific
all, having sufficient grounds for asserting the contrary) gravity of the driver’s head preponderating over all
I here present you with an accurate sketch of it. the other parts of his frame united, precipitated him
with violence from the elevated station, he had, till

then (though with difficulty) possessed, to his parent
earth. There were three unfortunate passengers in the
carriage, left to the discretion of the horses, viz. a
gentleman, an innkeeper’s wife, and your humble
servant; the lady in strict compliance with the practice
of her sex in similar situations, on seeing the rapid
descent of our charioteer, immediately honoured us
with a loud and shrill shriek; the quadrupeds, not
accustomed to this pretty female note so much as the
sonorous voice of a coachman, mistook for a signal
to mend their pace, and they, habituated to pay all
due obedience to the commands of their superiors

of the biped creation, when understood by them,

together with the manner of its application: that if any

and finding no check, instantly proceeded to a full

ingenious artist should be applied to, he may not be

gallop; and we, however reluctantly, followed them

at a loss how it is to be made. I would however

down a gentle descent, not at a gentle rate, but with

advice such a one to be cautious in offering them to

prodigious velocity. As I was quite calm and collected,

public sale, and by no means to advertise them

I coolly reconnoitred the road before us, and

(especially if a married man, or having any views

observing that it was perfectly clear, as for half a mile

towards matrimony.)

not a coal-cart was to be seen, although we had lately

LETTER XLIII. passed several score, I began to reason with my
“Oh, land of cakes! how oft my eyes companions, and they speedily became calm enough
Desire to see thy mountains rise! to assist in holding a council what was best to be done
How Fancy loves thy steeps to climb, in our critical situation. Our debates were quickly

So wild, so solemn, so sublime.”

ended, as we were unanimous in opinion that, if we
“All the stage-coaches that travel so fast, once entered the city of Durham, the carriage must
Must get now and then an unfortunate cast.” inevitably be torn to pieces, owing to the variety of
IN my first journey to Scotland I sometimes travelled turnings and obstructions we should have to encounter,
post, but often entered the different stagecoaches, we therefore entered into an immediate resolution,

&c. for a stage or two, when I happened to see any nem. con. that to open the doors and exhibit our agility
setting out so as to suit my time and inclination: but in leaping out, was, of “two evils, choosing the least;”
at last I had pretty nearly paid dear for it, as the driver this we instantly did in as careful a manner as possible;

of the diligence from Darlington to Durham we first alighted on our feet, and next complimented
happened to be much inebriated, and before his the ground with our noses, without receiving much
quitting Darlington had almost overset us: not injury. Our female companion indeed, by being

observing the man was drunk, we attributed the fault rather too precipitate, alighted in a manner which on
to the horses; we were however very speedily any other occasion would not have appeared strictly
undeceived in that respect by many concurrent decent, of which she, poor lady! was so sensible, that
circumstances, so that we were one minute nearly in she immediately “hoped as how we were both


At Newcastle, I passed a day or two in the year 1787, informed, dances exceedingly well, keeping exact
where I was much delighted with viewing a singular time with the music, whether it is played slow or
phenomenon in natural history, namely, the celebrated quick. When it is considered what an intense application
crow’s nest affixed above the weathercock, on the must have been used, both on the part of the teacher
upper extremity of the exchange, in the market-and his fair pupil, to produce such a happy effect, it
place. In the year 1783, as I was well informed, the surely reflects great credit on each of the parties.
crows first built this curious nest, and succeeded in

At Newcastle, I passed a day or two in the year 1787, informed, dances exceedingly well, keeping exact
where I was much delighted with viewing a singular time with the music, whether it is played slow or
phenomenon in natural history, namely, the celebrated quick. When it is considered what an intense application
crow’s nest affixed above the weathercock, on the must have been used, both on the part of the teacher
upper extremity of the exchange, in the market-and his fair pupil, to produce such a happy effect, it
place. In the year 1783, as I was well informed, the surely reflects great credit on each of the parties.
crows first built this curious nest, and succeeded in

hatching and rearing their young. In the following

Mrs Lackington, this young lady became the first

year they attempted to rebuild it: but a contest

object of inquiry, and we were both introduced to

ensuing among some of the sable fraternity, after a


fierce engagement they were obliged to relinquish it,

and the nest was demolished by the victorious party I have lately been informed of a lady now in London,
before it was finished. This bad success however did who, although she is deaf, takes great delight in
not deter the original builders and possessors from music, and when asked how she is affected by it, she
returning in the year 1785, when they took quiet answers that she feels it at her breast and at the

possession of their freehold, rebuilt the premises, bottom of her feet.
and reared another family. This they repeated the

Being on the subject of curiosities, and having just

three following years with equal success, and when I

related the pleasure I experienced on account of a

was there in the year 1790 much of the nest remained,

lady acquiring the use of speech, permit me now to

but the crows had forsaken it. The above occurrence,

present you with another rarity indeed! — somewhat

though to many it may appear incredible, is an

connected with the former, no doubt, but intended

undoubted fact. That crows should come into the

as an effectual remedy (temporary at least) for an

centre of a populous town to build their nests is of

opposite complaint of the same organs, viz. too

itself remarkable, but much more so that they should

great a volubility of speech, with which (as it is said)

prefer a weathercock to any other situation, where

many females are so infected, as sometimes to lead

the whole family and their habitation turned round

them to exceed the bounds of due moderation and

with every puff of wind, though they were perfectly

female decorum, and even display itself in the

secured from falling by the spike of iron which rose

utterance of such harsh (though frequently inarticulate)

above the fane, around which the whole made their

terms as tend too much to disgrace the unhappy

revolutions; and as on one side the nest was higher

patient, and violently affect the auditory nerves of all

than on the other, that part being always to windward,

persons within a considerable distance. — To quit

by this ingenious contrivance of the feathered


architects the inside of the nest was continually kept
in a proper degree of warmth. I never recollect these At the town hall I was shewn a piece of antiquity,
various circumstances without being lost in admiration called a brank. It consists of a combination of iron
at the extraordinary sagacity of these birds. fillets, and is fastened to the head by a lock fixed to

the back part of it; a thin plate of iron goes into the

In Newcastle however I met with a greater curiosity,

mouth, sufficiently strong however to confine the

as well as a more amiable subject of it, than a crow’s

tongue, and thus prevent the wearer from making

nest, to excite my astonishment.

any use of that restless member. The use of this piece
In my first journey, Mr Fisher the bookseller of machinery is to punish notorious scolds. I am
introduced me to his daughter, a charming young pleased to find that it is now considered merely as a
lady, who being unfortunately born deaf, was matter of curiosity, the females of that town happily
consequently dumb, till a gentleman a few years since having not the smallest occasion, for the application
taught her to understand what was said to her by the of so harsh an instrument: whether it is that all
motion of the lips. I had the pleasure of conversing females apprehensive of being included in that
with her several times, and found that she had much description, have travelled southward, to avoid the
of the Scotch accent, which, as Mr Fisher informed danger of so degrading an exhibition, or whatever
me, she acquired of the gentleman who taught her other reason is assigned, I forgot to enquire. It
not only to understand the conversation of others however affords me pleasure to reflect, that the
but to speak, he being a native of that country; he ladies of Newcastle are left at liberty to adopt a head-
remarked also, that she never had spoken the dress of their own choosing, confident that they
Newcastle dialect. This young lady, I was also possess a more refined taste than to fix upon one by


I well remember, that although I constantly attended “What right, what true, what fit we justly call,
this place, it was a year or two before I took the least And this was all our care — for this is all.”
notice of the sermon which was read; nor had I any They then supped, and went early to bed, perfectly
idea that I had the least concern in what the minister satisfied with having done their duty; and each having
was (as it is called) preaching about. For, a quiet conscience soon fell into the arms of “nature’s

“Who a cold, dull, lifeless drawling keeps, soft nurse, sweet sleep.”
One half his audience laughs, whilst t’other sleeps. “And thus whatever be our station,
Our hearts in spite of us declare;

Sermons, like plays, some please us at the ear,
We feel peculiar consolation,

But never will a serious reading bear;
And taste of happiness a share.”

Some in the closet edify enough,

That from the pulpit seem’d but sorry stuff.
‘Tis thus there are who by ill reading spoil

I cannot here omit mentioning a very singular custom Young’s pointed sense, or Atterbury’s style!

of my master’s: every morning, at all seasons of the

While others, by the force of eloquence,

year, and in all weathers, he rose about three o’clock,

Make that seem fine, which scarce is common sense.

took a walk by the river side round Frenchware-

But some will preach without the least pretence

field, stopped at an alehouse that was early open, to

To virtue, learning, art, or eloquence.
drink half a pint of ale, came back before six o’clock,

Why not? you cry: they plainly see, no doubt —
A priest may grow right reverend without.” then called up his people to work, and went to bed

ART OF PREACHING. again about seven.

LETTER VI. Thus was the good man’s family jogging easily and
“Youth is the stock whence grafted superstition quietly on, no one doubting but he should go to
Shoots with unbounded vigour.” heaven when he died, and every one hoping it would

MILLER’S Mahomet. be a good while first.
“——All must lament that he’s under such banners,

“A man should be religious, not superstitious,”
As evil community spoils our good manners.”

But, alas! the dreadful crisis was at hand that put an

end to the happiness and peace of this little family. I At the time that I was bound apprentice, my master

had been an apprentice about twelve or fifteen had two sons, the eldest about seventeen years old,

months, when my master’s eldest son George the youngest fourteen. The eldest had just been

happened to go and hear a sermon by one of Mr baptized, and introduced as a member of the

Wesley’s preachers, and who had left the plough-tail Arianistical dipping community where my master

to preach the pure and unadulterated Gospel of Christ.
and his family attended. The boy was a very sober

By this sermon the fallow ground of poor George’s industrious youth, and gave his father and mother

heart was ploughed up, he was now persuaded that much pleasure. The youngest was also a good lad.

the innocent and good life he had led would only sink Thus everything continued well for some time after

him deeper into hell; in short, he found out that he I had been added to the family. Both of the boys had

had never been converted, and of course was in a very good natural parts, and had learned to read,

state of damnation without benefit of clergy. But he write, keep accounts, &c. But they had been at

did not long continue in this damnable state, but soon schools where no variety of books had been

became one of
introduced, so that all they had read was the bible. My

“————————The sanctified band,

master’s whole library consisted of a school-size

Who all holy mysteries well understand.”
bible, Watts’s Psalms and Hymns, Foot’s Tract on

Baptism, Culpepper’s Herbal, the History of the

He persuaded himself that he had passed through the

Gentle Craft, an old imperfect volume of Receipts in

new birth, and was quite sure that his name was

Physic, Surgery, &c., and the Ready Reckoner. The

registered in the Book of Life, and (to the great grief

ideas of the family were as circumscribed as their

of his parents) he was in reality become anew creature.

library. My master called attention to business and
working hard, “minding the main chance.” On “’twas methodistic grace that made him toss and

Sundays all went to meeting; my master on that day

Which in his entrails did like jalap rumble.”

said a short grace before dinner, and the boys read

OVID’S Epist. Burlesqued.

a few chapters in the bible, took a walk for an hour
or two, then read a chapter or two more.


George had no sooner made things sure for himself, I soon made a little progress in reading; in the mean
than he began to extend his concern to his father, time I also went to the Methodist meeting. There, as
mother, brother, and me; and very kindly gave us to “enthusiasm is the child of melancholy” I caught the
understand that he was sure we were in a very infection. The first that I heard was one Thomas
deplorable state, “without hope, and without God in Bryant, known in Taunton by the name of the
the world,” being under the curse of the Law. … Damnation Preacher (he had just left off cobbling
soles of another kind.) His sermon frightened me

George had no sooner made things sure for himself, I soon made a little progress in reading; in the mean
than he began to extend his concern to his father, time I also went to the Methodist meeting. There, as
mother, brother, and me; and very kindly gave us to “enthusiasm is the child of melancholy” I caught the
understand that he was sure we were in a very infection. The first that I heard was one Thomas
deplorable state, “without hope, and without God in Bryant, known in Taunton by the name of the
the world,” being under the curse of the Law. … Damnation Preacher (he had just left off cobbling
soles of another kind.) His sermon frightened me

most terribly. I soon after went to hear an old

conversations, but my good mistress would sit

Scotchman, and he assured his congregation that they

down for hours together with her bible in her lap,

would be damned, and double damned, and treble

from which she would read such scriptures as

damned, and damned for ever, if they died without

proved the necessity of living a good life, performing

what he called faith.

good works, &c. … Unfortunately the good woman
“Conj’rers like, on fire and brimstone dwell,

had no great talents for controversy; however, George

And draw each moving argument from hell.”

had a very tenacious memory, and employed all his


thoughts on these subjects, so that John his younger

brother, and I also (two competent judges no doubt) This marvellous doctrine and noisy rant and enthusiasm
thought that he had the best of the arguments on soon worked on my passions, and made me believe
these edifying subjects. myself to be really in the damnable condition that
they represented; and in this miserable state I

But John soon got out of the damnable state, and

continued for about a month, being all that time

assured us that all his sins were forgiven, merely by

unable to work myself up to the proper key.

believing that he had passed from death into life, and
had union and communion with God. He now At last, by singing and repeating enthusiastic amorous
became as merry as before he had been sorrowful, hymns, and ignorantly applying particular texts of
and sang in Mr Wesley’s strain, scripture, I got my imagination to the proper pitch,

and thus was I born again in an instant, became a very

“Not a doubt shall arise
To darken the skies, great favourite of heaven,

Nor hide for a moment my God from my eyes.” “And with my new invented patent eyes,

John sang to me, and said to me a deal in this Saw heav’n and all the angels in the skies.”

wonderful strain, of which I did not comprehend

one syllable. I had angels to attend all my steps, and was as familiar
His words were loose with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as any old
As heaps of sand, and scatter’d wide from sense. woman in Mr Wesley’s connection; which, by the

So high he mounted in his airy throne, bye, is saying a great deal.
That when the wind had got into his head,


It turn’d his brains to frenzy.”
But these extraordinary accounts and discourses, THE enthusiastic notions which I had imbibed, and
together with the controversies between the mother the desire I had to be talking about religious mysteries,
and the sons, made me think they knew many &c. answered one valuable purpose; as it caused me
matters of which I was totally ignorant. This to embrace every opportunity to learn to read, so
created in me a desire for knowledge, that I might that I could soon read the easy parts of the bible, Mr
know who was right and who was wrong. But to Wesley’s hymns, &c. and every leisure minute was so
my great mortification, I could not read. I knew employed,
most of the letters, and a few easy words, and I set

In the winter I was obliged to attend my work from

about learning with all my might. My mistress

six in the morning until ten at night. In the summer

would sometimes instruct me, and having three-

half year I only worked as long as we could see

halfpence per week allowed me by my mother,

without candle; but notwithstanding the close attention

this money I gave to John (my master’s youngest

I was obliged to pay to my trade, yet for a long time

son) and for every three-halfpence he taught me to

I read ten chapters in the bible every day: I also read

spell one hour. This was done in the dark, as we

and learned many hymns, and as soon as I could

were not allowed a candle after we were sent up

procure some of Mr Wesley’s tracts, sermons, &c. I

stairs to bed.

read them also…


have not furnished me with an opportunity of and afford you some pleasing dreams, when
making the tour of Europe, or tracing the source of “Tir’d nature’s sweet restorer, balmy sleep,
the river Nile, much less circumnavigating the globe. His ready visit pays.”
And even supposing I had been possessed both of

I shall therefore not trouble you with a detail of bad the time and inclination for such extensive undertakings,

roads, the impositions of innkeepers, what food I the disadvantages which I labour under for want of

partook of, how many bottles of wine were drank,
having received a proper education would have

the height of steeples, &c.; a sufficiency of this, I trust,
disqualified me from making such remarks and

has already appeared in different writers. Thus much observations as naturally present themselves to those

by way of preparation for my journies. I now set out.
who have been fortunate enough to possess that
In September 1787, I set off for Edinburgh; and in

advantage, and of course are qualified to present the
all the principal towns through which I passed, was

world with a variety of subjects equally curious and
led from a motive of curiosity, as well as with a view

instructive: though it is not without reluctance, I think
towards obtaining some valuable purchases, to

it necessary here to observe, that some of these
examine the booksellers’ shops for scarce and valuable

gentlemen, not content with giving a true account of
books; but although I went by the way of York,

what actually occurred to them, and supposing that
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, &c., and returned through

plain matter of fact would not be sufficiently
Glasgow, Carlisle, Leeds, Lancaster, Preston,

interesting to excite that superior degree of attention
Manchester, and other considerable places, I was

and admiration which they were ambitious as authors
much surprised, as well as disappointed, at meeting

to acquire, they have thought proper to intermix so
with very few of the works of the most esteemed

much of the marvellous into their narrations, as has
authors; and those few consisted in general of ordinary

been the occasion of many persons reading them
editions, besides an assemblage of common trifling

with such diffidence as to doubt the truth of many
books, bound in sheep, and that too in a very bad

relations, which though really strictly consistent with
manner. It is true, at York and Leeds there were a few

veracity, yet being novel and uncommon, they were
(and but very few) good books; but in all the other

unwilling to credit, lest they should incur the censure
towns between London and Edinburgh nothing but

of being possessed of a superior degree of weakness
trash was to be found; in the latter city indeed a few

and credulity. This I am also confident has induced
capital articles are kept, but in no other part of

many a modest author to omit passages, which,

though really true, he was cautious of publishing,
from a fear of being subjected to the same severe In 1790 I repeated my journey, and was much an imadversions, or what is still worse, being suspected mortified to be

under a necessity of confirming my of wilfully imposing on his readers. Recent instances former observations. This remarkable deficiency in of which, were it necessary,

I could adduce; but I shall the article of books is however not peculiar to the proceed with cautioning you from being alarmed northern parts of England; as I have


lest I should fall into either of these errors; nothing travelled into the western parts, and found abundant

very marvellous will occur in what I mean to present cause for dissatisfaction on the same account, so that
you with, though I shall not be intimidated from I may venture without fear of contradiction to assert,
relating real facts, from the apprehension of not that London, as in all other articles of commerce, is

being credited. As an additional recommendation, likewise the grand emporium of Great Britain for

(no doubt,) the history of my travels will be books, engrossing nearly the whole of what is valuable interspersed with such remarks on men and manners in that very

extensive, beneficial, and I may add as have presented themselves to me during my lucrative, branch of trade. As to Ireland I shall only

peregrinations; and this I previously, warn you will be observe, that if the booksellers in that part of the

done in my “accustomed desultory manner,” from empire do not shine in the possession of valuable which, as Mr Pennant says in his History of London, books, they must

certainly be allowed to possess” I am too old to depart,” that is, as Dr Johnson superior industry in reprinting the works of every

might possibly have explained it; “Sir, you are then English author of merit as soon as published, and too old to mend.” But you, my dear friend, are not very liberally

endeavouring to disseminate them, in a so fastidious a critic: although you may find the surreptitious manner, through every part of our whole very dull, it shall not be

very long; so that if it island, though the attempt now generally proves does not act as a cordial to enliven your spirits, it may abortive, to the great loss and

injury of the ingenious(if read in the evening) prove a powerful narcotic, projectors.


articles are sold, they become known by being of others, in diffusing through the world such an
handed about in various circles of acquaintances, immense number of books, by which many have
many of whom wishing to be possessed of the same been enlightened and taught to think, and from mere
books, without enquiring the price of their friends, animals have become rational beings. With a book,
step into the first bookseller’s shop, and give their the poor man in his intervals from labour forgets his
orders for articles which they never would have hard lot, or learns to bear it with pleasure, whilst in
heard of, had not I, by selling them cheap, been the intellectual pleasures he can vie with kings. Books
original cause of their being dispersed abroad; so that afford comfort to the afflicted, and consolation to
by means of the plan pursued in my shop, whole the prisoner; books are our most constant and most
editions of books are sold off, and new editions faithful companions and friends, of which we never
printed of the works of authors, who but for that are cloyed.
circumstance would have been scarce noticed at all. “What heartfelt bliss! what pleasure-winged hours!

articles are sold, they become known by being of others, in diffusing through the world such an
handed about in various circles of acquaintances, immense number of books, by which many have
many of whom wishing to be possessed of the same been enlightened and taught to think, and from mere
books, without enquiring the price of their friends, animals have become rational beings. With a book,
step into the first bookseller’s shop, and give their the poor man in his intervals from labour forgets his
orders for articles which they never would have hard lot, or learns to bear it with pleasure, whilst in
heard of, had not I, by selling them cheap, been the intellectual pleasures he can vie with kings. Books
original cause of their being dispersed abroad; so that afford comfort to the afflicted, and consolation to
by means of the plan pursued in my shop, whole the prisoner; books are our most constant and most
editions of books are sold off, and new editions faithful companions and friends, of which we never
printed of the works of authors, who but for that are cloyed.
circumstance would have been scarce noticed at all. “What heartfelt bliss! what pleasure-winged hours!

But (say they) you not only sell such books cheap as

We by their favour Tyber’s banks enjoy,

are but little known, but you even sell a great deal

The temples trace, and share their noble games;

under price the very first-rate articles, however well

Enter the crowded theatre at will;
they may be known, or however highly they may be

March to the forum, hear the consul plead,
thought of by the literary world. I acknowledge the Are present in the thundering Capitol charge, and again repeat that, as I do not give any When Tully speaks; at

softer hours attend
credit, I really ought to do so; and I may add, that in Harmonious Virgil to his Mantuan farm,
some measure I am obliged to do it; for who would Or Baia’s shore: how often drink his strains,

Rural, or epic sweet! How often rove

come out of their way to Chiswell street, to pay me
With Horace, bard and moralist benign,

the same price in ready money as they might purchase

With happy Horace rove, in fragrant paths

for at the first shop they came to, and have credit

Of myrtle bowers, by Tivoli’s cascade.

also. And although first-rate authors are very well

Hail, precious pages! that amuse and teach,

known, yet I well know that by selling them cheaper

Exalt the genius, and improve the breast;
than others many are purchased of me that never

But chiefly thou, supreme philosophy,
would have been purchased at the full price, and Shed thy best influence; with thy train appear every book that is sold tends to spread the fame of Of graces mild


the author, and rapidly extends the sale, and as I Tutor of human life! Auspicious guide,
before remarked, sends more customers to other Whose faithful clue unravels ev’ry maze,
shops as well as to my own. Whose skill can disengage the tangled thorn,

And smooth the rock to down! whose magic powers I must also inform you, that besides five or six private Control each storm, and bid the roar be still.”
catalogues of books in sheets, for booksellers only, DR S. DAVIES.
I publish two catalogues for the public every year,


and of each of those public catalogues I print above

“This is a traveller, sir; knows men and manners; and

three thousand copies, most of those copies are lent

has ploughed up sea so far, till both the poles have

about from one to another, so that supposing only

knocked; has seen the sun take coach, and can four persons see each copy, twenty-four thousand distinguish the colour of his horses, and their kinds,
persons look over my catalogues annually; no other and had a Flanders mare leaped there.”
mode of advertising bears the least proportion to it. BEAUMONT and FLETCHER’S Scornful Lady.

I could say much more on this subject, but will not AMONGST the variety of occurrences with which
unnecessarily take up your time, as I trust what is here I have endeavoured to entertain you, perhaps not all
advanced will convey full conviction to your mind, equally interesting, (and the most material of them, I
and as I believe it is universally known and allowed, am duly sensible, not entitling me to the claim of
that no man ever promoted the sale of books in an being esteemed a writer possessed of the very first
equal degree with your old friend, and as in reading abilities this age or nation has produced,) I recollect
I have experienced many thousand happy hours, and my not yet having given you an account of my
which still engrosses the largest portion of my time, principal travels. Possibly you might very readily
and gives me more real pleasure and solid satisfaction pardon that omission, as from what has already
than all other things in the world; you cannot conceive appeared, it must be evident the engagements which
what agreeable sensations I enjoy, on reflecting on from time to time have fully engrossed my attention,
my having contributed so much towards the pleasures


I had such good eyes, that I often read by the light of three hundred yards towards the meeting house; but
the moon, as my master would never permit me to alas! I could run no farther, my feet and ancles were
take a candle into my room, and that prohibition I most intolerably bruised, so that I was obliged to be
looked upon as a kind of persecution, but I always carried back and put to bed; and it was more than a
comforted myself with the thoughts of my being a month before I recovered the use of my limbs. I was
dear child of God; and as such, that it was impossible ignorant enough to think that the Lord had not used
for me to escape persecution from the children of the me very well, and resolved not to put so much trust
devil, which epithets I verypiously applied to my good in him for the future.
master and mistress. And so ignorantly and

This my rash adventure made a great noise in the

imprudently zealous (being a real Methodist) was I

town, and was talked of many miles round. Some

for the good of their precious souls, as sometimes to

few admired my amazing strength of faith, but the

give them broad hints of it, and of the dangerous state

major part pitied me, as a poor ignorant deluded and

they were in. Their pious good old minister, the

infatuated boy.

reverend Mr Harrison, I called “a blind leader of the

“The neighbours star’d and sigh’d, yet blessed the

blind;” and I more than once assured my mistress,


that both he and his whole flock were in a state of

Some deem’d him wondrous wise, some believed

damnation; being without the assurance of their sins

him mad.”

being pardoned, they must be “strangers to the hope

of Israel, and without God in the world.” My good


mistress wisely thought that a good stick was the best
“One makes the rugged paths so smooth and even

way of arguing with such an ignorant infatuated boy

None but an ill-bred man can miss of heaven.

as I was, and had often recourse to it; but I took care

Another quits his stockings, breeches, shirt,

to give her a deal of trouble; for whenever I was

Because he fancies virtue dwells in dirt:

ordered in my turn to read the bible, I always selected

While all concur to take away the stress such chapters as I thought militated against Arians,

From weightier points, and lay it on the less.”
Socinians, &c. and such verses as I deemed favourable STILLINGFLEET on Conversation.
to the doctrine of original sin, justification by faith,

“‘Gad, I’ve a thriving traffic in my eye.
imputed righteousness, the doctrine of the trinity, &c. Near the mad mansions of Moorfields I’ll bawl;
On such parts I always placed a particular emphasis, Friends, fathers, mothers, sisters, sons and all,
which puzzled and teazed the old lady a good deal. … Shut up your shops, and listen to my call!”

Hitherto I had not frequented the Methodist meetings
IN the fourth year of my apprenticeship my master

by the consent or knowledge of my master and
died. Now although he was a good husband, a good

mistress; nor had my zeal been so great as to make
father, and a good master, &c., yet, as he had not the

me openly violate their commands. But as my zeal
increased much faster than my knowledge, I soon methodistical faith, and could not pronounce the
Shibboleth of that sect, I piously feared that he was

disregarded their orders, and without hesitation ran
gone to hell.

away to hear a methodistical sermon as often as I
could find an opportunity. One Sunday morning at

My mistress thought that his death was hastened by eight o’clock my mistress seeing her sons set off, and

his uneasy reflections on the bad behaviour of his knowing that they were gone to a Methodist meeting,

sons, after they commenced Methodists, as before determined to prevent me from doing the same by

they were converted each was dutiful and attended to
locking the door, which she accordingly did; on

his trade, but after they became saints they attended which, in a superstitious mood, I opened the bible

so much to their spiritual concerns that they acted as for direction what to do, (ignorant Methodists often

though they supposed they were to be fed and practise the same superstitious method,) and the first

clothed by miracles …
words I read were these, “He has given his angels

As I had been bound to my mistress as well as my

charge concerning thee, lest at any time thou shouldest

master, I was of course an apprentice still. But after

dash thy foot against a stone.” This was enough for

my master’s death I obtained more liberty of

me; so without a moment’s hesitation, I ran up two

conscience, (as I called it,) so that I not only went to

pair of stairs to my own room, and out of the
hear the Methodist sermons, but was also admitted

window I leaped, to the great terror of my poor

into their society; and I believe they never had a more

mistress. I got up immediately, and ran about two or

devout enthusiastical member; for several years I


regularly attended every sermon and all their private Here I had nearly sunk for ever into meanness,

regularly attended every sermon and all their private Here I had nearly sunk for ever into meanness,
“I, like a hackney-coachman, knew I had no longer open houses to eat and drink in at free
Short way to heav’n by a clew, cost; and having refused bribes, I was nearly out of
Could cut across, and save the road cash.
That guided to the blest abode.”

I began the world with an unsuspecting heart, and


was tricked out of about three pounds (every shilling
I was first converted to Methodism when I was I was possessed of) and part of my clothes, by some
about sixteen years of age; from that time until I was country sharpers. Having one coat and two waistcoats
twenty-one I was a sincere enthusiast, and every spare left, I lent my best waistcoat to an acquaintance, who
hour I enjoyed I dedicated to the study of the bible, left the town and forgot to return it.
reading methodistical books, learning hymns, hearing

However, I did not sink quite so low as the

sermons, meeting in societies, &c. My memory was

commonalty of journeymen shoemakers, but in

very tenacious, so that everything I read I made my

general worked very hard, and spent my money in

own. I could have repeated several volumes of

better company.

hymns; when I heard a sermon, I could have preached

“To know good, preferring specious ill,

it again, and nearly in the same words; my bible had

Reason becomes a cully to the will;

hundreds of leaves folded down, and thousands of

Thus man, perversely fond to roam astray,

marks against such texts as I thought favoured the

Hoodwinks the guide assigned to shew the way,
doctrines (or whims) which I had imbibed. So that And in life’s voyage, like the pilot fares,
I stood forth as the champion of Methodism Who breaks the compass, and contemns the stars.”
wherever I came. FENTON.

But alas! my godly strict life at length suffered Notwithstanding, at times I was very uneasy, and
interruption. I will give you a farther account of the although I had not been at any methodistical meeting
Methodists when I come to the time when I finally during the time that I had lived this dissipated life, yet
left their society. my mind was not freed entirely from the superstitious
fears I had there imbibed; so that whenever any

The election for two members of parliament was

person asked me, what would become of me (that

strongly contested at Taunton just as I attained my

had lived such a holy life) if I should die in the state

twenty-first year; and being now of age, the six or

of backsliding from “the good old way?” I always

seven months which I had to serve of my

acknowledged that I should be eternally damned,

apprenticeship were purchased of my mistress by

were that to be the case. But I must confess that I was

some friends of two of the contending candidates;

not much afraid of dying in such a state, as I was too

so that I was at once set free in the midst of a scene

much prepossessed with the methodistical notions

of riot and dissipation.

of free-grace, that would not let me be finally lost,
“Present example gets within our guard,

presuming that I must wait as it were for a second call

And acts with double force, by few repell’d.”

to repentance, justification, &c., which I had been


taught to believe might take place instantaneously,

“Nor shame nor honour could prevail,

and put the devil to flight in a hurry, and so matters

To keep me thus from turning tail.”

would be all right again. And I have known many As I had a vote, and was also possessed of a few ideas

who, having these ideas, have continued to live very above those of my rank and situation, my company

profligate lives to the end of the chapter.
was courted by some who were in a much higher
I often privately took the bible to bed with me, and

sphere; and (probably what they partly intended) in
in the long summer mornings read for hours together

such company I soon forgot my godly or
in bed, but this did not in the least influence my

methodistical connections, and ran into the opposite
conduct. As you know great events often arise from

extremes so that for several months most of my
little causes, I am now going to relate a circumstance,

spare hour; were devoted to the
trivial in itself, though productive of a more

“Young-ey’d god of wine! parent of joys!

considerable change in my situation than any I had yet

Frolic and full of thee, while the cold sons


Of temperance, the fools of thought and care,
Lay stretch’d in sober slumbers.”
MALLET’S Eurydice.


But to insinuate that I am getting money for no good (who was my sister); the other child has both her
purpose, is false and invidious.* The great apostle St parents living, but they are poor; many others of my
Paul, who was an humble follower of Christ, thought relations are in the same circumstances, and stand in
he might be permitted to boast of himself a little. need of my assistance, so that —

“If e’er I’ve mourn’d my humble, lowly state,

False modesty,” says Bruyere, “is the most cunning

If e’er I’ve bow’d my knee at fortune’s shrine,

sort of vanity, by this a man never appears what he

If e’er a wish escap’d me to be great,

is.” After which, I suppose it will not be thought very

The fervent prayer, humanity, was thine.

presumptuous in me, if I should state a few facts,

Perish the man who hears the piteous tale

merely to justify my conduct in carrying on my trade

Unmov’d, to whom the heart-felt glow’s unknown,
beyond the time that certain persons would prescribe On whom the widow’s plaints could ne’er prevail,
to me. Nor made the injur’d wretch’s cause his own.
How little knows he the extatic joy,

It is now about five years since I began to entertain

The thrilling bliss of cheering wan despair!

serious thoughts of going out of business, on account

How little knows the pleasing warm employ,

of the bad state of health which both Mrs Lackington

That calls the grateful tribute of a tear.
and myself have laboured under; and having no The splendid dome, the vaulted rock to rear,
desire to be rich, we adopted Swift’s prayer. The glare of pride and pomp be, grandeur, thine!
“Preserve, almighty Providence! To wipe from misery’s eye the wailing tear,
Just what you gave me — competence, And soothe the oppressed orphan’s woe, be mine.”

Remov’d from all th’ ambitious scene, It has also been frequently said, that by selling my Nor puff’d by pride, nor sunk by spleen.”

books very cheap, I have materially injured other
But it was then suggested by several of my friends, booksellers both in town and country. But I still deny
that as I had about fifty poor relations, a great the charge: and here I will first observe, that I have as
number of whom are children, others are old and just a reason to complain of them for giving credit,
nearly helpless, and that many had justly formed as they can have for my selling cheap and giving no
some expectations from me: therefore to give up credit; as it is well known that there are many
such a trade as I was in possession of, before I was thousands of people everywhere to be found who
absolutely obliged to do it, would be a kind of will decline purchasing at a shop where credit is
injustice to those whom, by the ties of blood, I was denied, when they can find shopkeepers enough
in some measure bound to relieve and protect. who will readily give it; and as I frequently lose
“Twice five-and-twenty cousins have implor’d customers who having always been accustomed to
That help his purse, they cry, can well afford.” have credit, they will not take the trouble to pay for
COMFORTS OF MARRIAGE. every article as sent home; these of course deal at
those shops who follow the old mode of business;

These and other considerations induced me to waive

so that in such cases I might say to the proprietors of

the thoughts of precipitating myself out of so extensive

these shops, “You ought not to give any person

and lucrative a business; and in the meantime I apply

credit, because by so doing you are taking customers

a part of the profits of it to maintain my good old

from me.” As to my hurting the trade by selling

mother, who is alive at Wellington in Somersetshire,

cheap, they are, upon the whole, mistaken; for

her native place. I have two aged men and one

although no doubt some instances will occur, in

woman whom I support: and I have also four

which they may observe that the preference is given

children to maintain and educate, three of these

to my shop, and the books purchased of me on

children have lost their father, and also their mother

account of their being cheap; yet they never consider
how many books they dispose of on the very same
account. As, however, this may appear rather

* When I wrote my Life in 1791, I had no partner. In the
paradoxical, I will explain my meaning farther.

summer of 1793, I sold Mr Robert Allen one-fourth share
of the profits of my trade. This young gentleman was

I now sell more than one hundred thousand volumes

brought up in my shop, and of course is well acquainted

annually; many who purchase part of these, do so

with my method of doing business; and having been a
witness to the profitable effects resulting from small profits, solely on account of their cheapness; many thousands
is as much in love with that mode of transacting business of these books would have been destroyed, as I have
as I am; and as the trade is continually increasing, I suppose before remarked, but for my selling them on thoseI shall be obliged to take another quarter partner very

very moderate terms; now when thousands of these

soon, as I cannot bear to see even trifles neglected.


so to do, I should no longer meet with the very penny for a turnpike. I have one person in the shop
extraordinary encouragement and support which I whose constant employment it is to receive all the
have hitherto experienced; neither should I have the cash, and discharge all bills that are brought for
smallest claim to a continuance of it under such payment; and if Mrs Lackington wants money for
circumstances. housekeeping, &c., or if I want money for hobby-
LETTER XLI. horses, &c., we take five or ten guineas, pocket it, and
set down the sum taken out of trade as expended;

so to do, I should no longer meet with the very penny for a turnpike. I have one person in the shop
extraordinary encouragement and support which I whose constant employment it is to receive all the
have hitherto experienced; neither should I have the cash, and discharge all bills that are brought for
smallest claim to a continuance of it under such payment; and if Mrs Lackington wants money for
circumstances. housekeeping, &c., or if I want money for hobby-
LETTER XLI. horses, &c., we take five or ten guineas, pocket it, and
set down the sum taken out of trade as expended;
And to your funds and acres join your sense.” when that is gone, we repeat our application, but
YOUNG’S Love of Fame. never take the trouble of setting down the items. But
“Learn what thou ow’st thy country and thy friend, such of my servants as are entrusted to lay out money
What’s requisite to spare, and what to spend.” are always obliged to give in their accounts, to shew
DRYDEN’S Persius. how each sum has been expended.

THE open manner of stating my profits will no “Bless’d who with order their affairs dispose,
But rude confusion is the source of woes.”

doubt appear strange to many who are not acquainted

COOKE’S Hesiod.

with my singular conduct in that and other respects.
But you, sir, know that I have for fourteen years past It may not be improper here to take a little notice of
kept a strict account of my profits. Every book in my some very late insinuations of my old envious friends.
possession, before it is offered to sale, is marked with It has been suggested that I am now grown immensely
a private mark of what it cost me, and with a public rich, and that having already more property than I
mark of what it is to be sold for; and every article, can reasonably expect to live to expend, and no
whether the price is sixpence or sixty pounds, is young family to provide for, I for these reasons
entered in a day-book as it is sold, with the price it ought to decline my business, and no longer engross
cost and the money it sold for: and each night the trade to myself that ought to be divided into a
profits of the day are cast up by one of my shopmen, number of channels, and thus support many families.
as every one of them understand my private marks. In answer to which I will observe, that some of these
Every Saturday night the profits of the week are objectors were in trade before me, and when I first
added together and mentioned before all my embarked in the profession of a bookseller, despised
shopmen, &c., the week’s profits, and also the me for my mean beginning. When afterwards I
expenses of the week are then entered one opposite adopted my plan of selling cheap, and for ready-
the other, in a book kept for the purpose; the whole money only, they made themselves very merry at my
sum taken in the week is also set down, and the sum expense for expecting to succeed by so ridiculous a
that has been paid for books bought. These accounts project, (as they in their consummate wisdom were
are kept publicly in my shop, and ever have been so, pleased to term it,) and predestined my ruin, so that
as I never saw any reason for concealing them, nor no doubt I ought to comply with anything they
was ever jealous of any of my men’s profiting by my desire, however unreasonable it may appear to me.
example and taking away any of my business, as I

To deny that I have a competence would be

always found that such of them as did set up for

unpardonable ingratitude to the public, to go no

themselves came to my shop, and purchased to the


amount of ten times more than they hindered me

“‘Tis one thing madly to despise my store:

from selling. By keeping an account of my profits,

Another not to heed to treasure more;

and also of my expenses, I have always known how

Glad like a boy to snatch the first good day,

to regulate the latter by the former. “To live above

And pleas’d if sordid want be far away.

our station shews a proud heart; and to live under it,

What is’t to me (a passenger, God wot)

discovers a narrow soul.” Horace says, Whether the vessel be first rate or not.
“A part I will enjoy as well as keep, The ship itself may make a better figure,
My heir may sigh and think it want of grace; But I that sail, neither less nor bigger;

But sure no statute in his favour says, I neither strut with ev’ry fav’ring breath,
How free or frugal I shall pass my days. Nor strive with all the tempest in my teeth;
I get and sometimes spend, at others spare, In power, wit, figure, virtue, fortune, plac’d,
Divided between carelessness and care.” Behind the foremost, and before the last.

Divided between carelessness and care,

And I have done that without the trifling way of

Sometimes I spend, at other times I spare.”

setting down a halfpenny-worth of matches, or a



I was twenty-one years of age the 11th of September women of her description, I was quite unhappy on
1767; the election was over the latter end of March her account, for fear that being in a strange place she
1768. It was in this year that my new master’s wife might be in want and distress; which thought induced
insisted on my purchasing milk of a milk-maid who me to offer to several of my countrymen five
was a customer at the shop; which command I shillings to the first who should bring me an account
refused to comply with, as I had a smart little milk-where I might find her; but I did not see her until
maid of my own. But as my mistress “wore the several weeks after that.
breeches,” my master was obliged, by his wife’s “Some foe to his upright intent order, to inform me that I must comply with her Finds out his weaker part;
mandate, or get another master. I left him without Virtue engages his assent,
hesitation, and the same afternoon went to Wellington, But pleasure wins the heart.
took leave of my father and mother, and informed ‘Tis here the folly of the wise,

Through all his arts we view,

them of my intention to go to Bristol. After two or

And while his tongue the charge denies,

three days I returned to Taunton, where I stayed a

His conscience owns it true.”

day or two more. In which time I became enamoured


with, or infatuated by, the beautiful Nancy Trott; and
although I saw the impropriety of the measure, yet I The Taunton carrier gave me a letter from my good
could not resist the fair tempter, who prevailed with mistress Bowden (who by marrying again had changed

me to permit her to accompany me in my journey. her name to Dingle.) The contents of this letter very
much surprised me. It informed me that a day or two

“Reason was given to curb our headstrong will,

before I fell out with my last mistress (which was the

And yet but shows a weak physician’s skill;
Gives nothing while the raging fit does last, ‘ trifling cause of my leaving Taunton) Betty Tucker, a
But stays to cure it when the worst is past. common lass, had sworn a child to me; that the
Reason’s a staff for age, when nature’s gone; parish officers had been to my master’s shop within
But youth is strong enough to walk alone.” an hour after I had left it to go to Wellington, and that
DRYDEN’S Con. of Gran.

they had been at Wellington just as I had left that

We rested a week in Bridgewater, where I worked place; and afterwards hearing that I was in
hard and got money to convey us to Exbridge, Bridgewater, they had pursued me thither. But the
seventeen miles on this side Bristol; and there I saw morning on which they arrived, I had set off for

my conduct in such a point of view as made me to Exbridge; and believing that I had intentionally fled
resolve to leave her. before them, they had given over this chase for the

“In well-feign’d accents, now they hail my ear,

My life, my love, my charmer, or my dear. Reflecting on this affair, although my conduct wasAs if these sounds, these joyless sounds could prove

very far from entitling me to entertain such a

The smallest particle of genuine love.

supposition, yet I was then weak enough to imagine

O! purchas’d love, retailed through half the town,

that, being a particular favourite of heaven, a kind of

Where each may share on paying half-a-crown;

miracle had been wrought to save me from a prison,

Where every air of tenderness is art,

or from marrying a woman I could not bear the idea

And not one word the language of the heart;
Where all is mockery of Cupid’s reign, of living with a single week; and as I had not any
Ends in remorse, in wetchedness and pain.” knowledge of her being with child (not having seen
ART OF LIVING IN LONDON. her for three months before) I had not taken any
measure to avoid the consequence, but put myself in

My finances amounted to three shillings and one

the way of the officers: for, as I have just told you,

penny, out of which I gave her half a crown; and with

after I had taken leave of my father and mother, I

the remaining seven-pence, without informing her of

went back to Taunton, and walked about publicly

my purpose, I set off for Bristol, where I arrived in

one whole day, and part of another. This girl was

a few hours, and got work the same evening.

delivered about two months afterwards of a still-

A few days after, I went to the inn where the Taunton born child, so that I was never troubled for expenses.
carrier put up, to enquire after Miss Trott, as I wanted Methinks you are ready to say with Pomfret,
to know if she had returned safe to Taunton. I was

“‘Tis easy to descend into the snare,

informed that she was in Bristol nearly as soon as I

By the pernicious conduct of the fair:
was. Knowing but little of the world, and still less of But safely to return from their abode,

Requires the wit, the prudence of a God.”




I was his soul: he liv’d not but in me.

We were so close link’d in each other’s breast,

The rivets were not found that join’d us first.”

DRYDEN’S All for Love.

IN my last I mentioned my arrival at Bristol, where
I took a lodging in a street called (I think,) Queen-
street, in Castle-street, at the house of a Mr James; a
much more decent residence than commonly falls to
the lot of journeymen shoemakers.

In this house I found a Mr John Jones, a genteel
young man, just turned of twenty-one years of age;
he was also a son of Crispin, and made women’s
stuff shoes, which he sold by the dozen to warehouses.
This Mr Jones and I were very soon intimate; we kept
ourselves neatly dressed, and in general worked hard,
spending our money chiefly in the company of
women. As

“All men have follies, which they blindly trace

Through the dark turnings of a dubious maze.

But happy those who by a prudent care

Retreat betimes from the fallacious snare.”


We followed this course about four months. During
this time Mr Jones once persuaded me to go with
him to the playhouse, where we saw Shakespear’s
fine comedy of “As you like it.” This was a feast
indeed to me, who had never before seen nor even
read any theatrical production. It is impossible for
me to describe my sensations on the occasion.
Between the play and the entertainment (which was
the “Mayor of Garratt”) Mr Edward Shuter
performed a short piece called “The Drunken Man.”
This was the only time that I ever saw that
extraordinary genius, but he made such an impression
on my mind that it is impossible I ever should forget

It is singular enough that about this time, although I
could not write, yet I composed several songs, one
of which was sold for a guinea; some were given to
the Bristol printers, who printed them, and the
ballad-singers sang them about the streets, on which
occasions I was as proud as though I had composed
an opera.

“Obscurely born — no generous friend he found,

To lead his trembling steps o’er classic ground;

No patron fill’d his heart with flatt’ring hope;

No tutor’d lesson gave his genius scope;

And yet he soar’d beyond the spells that bind

The slow perception of the vulgar mind.”


My friend Mr Jones was my secretary, who before
I came to live with him had not the least relish for
books, and I had only read a few enthusiastic authors,
together with Pomfret’s poems; this last I could
almost repeat by memory; however I made the most
of my little stock of literature, and strongly
recommended the purchasing of books to Mr Jones.
But so ignorant were we on the subject, that neither
of us knew what books were fit for our perusal, nor
what to enquire for, as we had scarce ever heard or
seen even any title pages, except a few of the religious
sort, which at that time we had no relish for. So that
we were at a loss how to increase our small stock of
science. And here I cannot help thinking that had
Fortune thrown proper books in our way, we
should have imbibed a just taste for literature, and
soon made some tolerable progress; but such was
our obscurity, that it was next to impossible for us
ever to emerge from it.

“The mind untaught, in vain,
Her powers, tho’ blooming vigour nourish,
Hopes in perfect pride to flourish;
Culture must her might maintain.”


As we could not tell what to ask for, we were
ashamed to go into the booksellers’ shops, and I
assure you, my friend, that there are thousands now
in England in the very same situation; many, very
many, have come to my shop, who have discovered
an enquiring mind, but were totally at a loss what to
ask for, and who had no friend to direct them.

“———————Reason grows apace, and calls
For the kind hand of an assiduous care.
Delightful task! to rear the tender thought,
To teach the young idea how to shoot,
To pour the fresh instruction o’er the mind,
To breathe th’ enlivening spirit, and to fix
The gen’rous purpose in the glowing breast.”


One day, as my friend Jones and I were strolling
about the fair that is annually held in and near St
James’s church-yard, we saw a stall of books, and in
looking over the title pages, I met with Hobbes’s
Translation of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. I had
somehow or other heard that Homer was a great
poet, but unfortunately I had never heard of Pope’s
translation of him, so we very eagerly purchased that
by Hobbes. At this stall I also purchased Walker’s
poetical paraphrase of Epictetus’s morals; and home
we went, perfectly well pleased with our bargains.

We that evening began with Hobbes’s Homer, but
found it very difficult for us to read, owing to the


“As April when painting the furrows,
Drives winter away to the pole;
Old port, by dispelling life’s sorrows,
Relaxes the frost of the soul.”

It was some years before I discovered that a lodging
in the country was very healthy. Gay’s lines were then

“Long in the noisy town I’ve been immur’d,

Respir’d in smoke, and all its cares endur’d.”
The year after, my country lodging by regular gradation
was transformed into a country house, and in another
year the inconveniences attending a stage coach were
remedied by a chariot.

“My precious rib has ventured to declare,
‘Tis vulgar on one’s legs to take the air.”

For four years, Upper Holloway was to me an
elysium; then Surrey appeared unquestionably the
most beautiful county in England, and Upper Merton
the most rural village in Surrey. So now Merton is
selected as the seat of occasional philosophical

“Here on a single plank thrown safe ashore,
I hear the tumult of the distant throng,
As that of seas remote or dying storms.
Here like a shepherd gazing from his hut,
Touching his reed or leaning on his staff,
Eager ambition’s fiery chace I see;
I see the circling hunt of noisy men
Burst law’s inclosure, leap the mounds of right,
Pursuing and pursu’d, each others prey.”


But I assure you, my dear friend, that in every step of
my progress, envy and malevolence have pursued
me close.

When, by the advice of that eminent physician, Dr
Lettsom, I purchased a horse, and saved my life by
the exercise it afforded me, the old adage, “set a
beggar on horseback and he’ll ride to the devil,” was
deemed fully verified; but when Mrs Lackington
mounted another, “they were very sorry to see
people so young in business run on at so great a rate.”
The occasional relaxation which we enjoyed in the
country was censured as an abominable piece of
pride; but when the carriage and servants in livery
appeared, “they would not be the first to hurt a
foolish tradesman’s character; but if (as was but too
probable) the docket was not already struck, the
Gazette would soon settle that point.”

“Base envy withers at another’s joy,
And hates that excellence it cannot reach.”


“It is no less a proof (says Dr Johnson) of eminence
to have many enemies, than many friends.”

But I have been lately informed that these good-
natured and compassionate people have for some
time found it necessary to alter their story.

“No more shall want thy weary hand restrain,

Henceforth good days and plenty shall betide:

The gods will for the good old age provide;

A glorious change attends thy low estate;

Sudden and mighty riches round thee wait;

Be wise, and use the lucky hour of fate.”

ROWE’S Lucan.

It seems that at last they have discovered the secret
springs from whence I drew my wealth; however,
they do not quite agree in their accounts, for although
some can tell you the very number of my fortunate
lottery-ticket, others are as positive that I found
banknotes in an old book, to the amount of many
thousand pounds, and, if they please, can even tell
you the title of the very fortunate old book that
contained this treasure. But you shall receive it from
me, which you will deem authority to the full as
unexceptionable. I assure you then, upon my honour,
that I found the whole of what I am possessed of, in

— small profits, bound by industry, and clasped by
“Gilt toils for gain at honour’s vast expense,
Heaven throws the trifle into innocence,
And fixes happiness in hell’s despite,
The necessary consequence of right.”
The profits of my business the present year, 1791,
will amount to four thousand pounds.* What it will
increase to I know not; but if my health will permit
me to carry it on a few years longer, there is very great
probability, considering the rapid increase which
each succeeding year has produced, that the profits
will be double what they now are; for I here pledge
my reputation as a tradesman never to deviate from
my old plan of giving as much for libraries as it is
possible for a tradesman to give, and selling them,
and new publications also, for the same small profits
that have been attended with such astonishing success
for some years past. And I hope that my assistants
will also persevere in that attentive, obliging mode of
conduct which has so long distinguished No. 46 and
47, Chiswell street, Moorfields; conscious, that should
I ever be weak enough to adopt an opposite line of
conduct, or permit those who act under my direction

* Since this was wrote my business is enlarged; in
1792, my profits were about 5,000l.

Yet let them only share the praises due; “Your business ne’er defer from day to day,
If few their wants, their pleasures are but few, Sorrow and poverty attend delay,
Since every want that stimulates the breast But lo! the careful man shall always find
Becomes a source of pleasure when redrest. Encrease of wealth according to his mind.”
Hence from such lands each pleasing science flies, COOKE’S Hesiod.
That first excites desire, and then supplies.

Yet let them only share the praises due; “Your business ne’er defer from day to day,
If few their wants, their pleasures are but few, Sorrow and poverty attend delay,
Since every want that stimulates the breast But lo! the careful man shall always find
Becomes a source of pleasure when redrest. Encrease of wealth according to his mind.”
Hence from such lands each pleasing science flies, COOKE’S Hesiod.
That first excites desire, and then supplies.

Unknown to them when sensual pleasures cloy,

have beheld my increasing stock with the utmost

To fill the languid pause with finer joy;

astonishment, they being entirely at a loss to conceive

Unknown those powers that raise the soul to flame,
Catch every nerve, and vibrate through the frame; by what means I have been enabled to make good
Their level life is but a mould’ring fire, all my payments; and for several years, in the beginning
Nor quench’d by want, nor fann’d by strong desire, of my business, some of the trade repeatedly asserted
Unfit for raptures, or if raptures cheer, that it was totally impossible that I could continue toOn some high festival of once a-year, pay for the large numbers of

books that I continually

In wild excess the vulgar breast takes fire,

purchased; and ten years since, being induced to take

Till buried in debauch, the bliss expire.

a journey into my own county with a view to the
restoration of my health, which had been materially

“But not their joys alone thus coarsely flow,

injured by intense application to catalogue-making,

Their morals, like their pleasures, are but low:

too much reading, &c., during the six weeks that I

For, as refinement stops, from sire to son,
Unalter’d, unimprov’d, their manners run; retired into the west, Mrs Lackington was perpetually
And love’s and friendship’s finely pointed dart interrogated respecting the time that I was expected
Fall blunted from each indurated heart; to return. This was done in such a manner as evidently

Some sterner virtues o’er the mountain’s breast, showed that many thought I never intended to return May sit like falcons low’ring on the nest, at all. But how great

was their surprise, when as aBut all the gentler morals, such as play

prelude to my return, I sent home several waggon

Thro’ life’s more cultivated walks, and charm our

loads of books which I had purchased in the country.

These far dispers’d, on tim’rous pinions fly, As I never had any part of the miser in my composition,
To sport and flutter in the kinder sky.” I always proportioned my expenses according to my

It is worth remarking, that the introducing profits; that is, I have for many years expended two-
histories, romances, stories, poems, &c. into thirds of the profits of my trade; which proportion
schools, has been a very great means of diffusing of expenditure I never exceeded.
a general taste for reading among all ranks of “Things to the owners minds their merit square;
people. While in schools the children only read the Good, if well used; if ill, they evils are.”

bible (which was the case in many schools a few If you will please to refer to Dr Johnson’s ‘Idler’ for years ago) children then did not make so early a “the Progress

of Ned Drugget,” you will see much progress in reading as they have since; they have of the progress of your humble servant depicted.
been pleased and entertained as well as instructed, Like Ned, in the beginning I opened and shut my and this relish for books in many will last as long own shop, and

welcomed a friend by a shake of the as life. hand. About a year after, I beckoned across the way
for a pot of good porter. A few years after that, I

I am also informed that literature is making a still
sometimes invited my friends to dinner, and provided

more rapid progress in Germany, and that there
them a roasted fillet of veal; in a progressive course,

are at this time seven thousand living authors in
the ham was introduced, and a pudding was the next

that country, and that everybody reads.
addition made to the feast. For some time a glass of


brandy and water was a luxury; a glass of Mr “Happy the man that has each fortune tried

Beaufoy’s raisin wine succeeded; and as soon as two-
To whom she much has given, much denied,

thirds of my profits enabled me to afford good red

With abstinence all delicates he sees,

port, it immediately appeared; nor was sherry long

And can regale himself with toast and cheese.”


“Wine whets the wit, improves its native force,

“One solid dish his week-day meals affords,

And gives a pleasing flavour to discourse,

And added pudding consecrates the Lord’s.”

By making all our spirits debonnair,
Throws off the fears, the sediments of care.”


obscurity of the translation, which, together with the The frequency of newly-opened graves, which we
indifferent language, and want of poetical merit in saw from our windows, furnished me with
the translator, somewhat disappointed us; however opportunities for descanting on the uncertainty of
we had from time to time many a hard puzzling hour life and all sublunary enjoyments; I assured them that
with him. nothing deserved attention but what related to our
everlasting state, and that they might on their

But as to Walker’s Epictetus, although that had not

repentance receive in one moment the pardon of all

much poetical merit, yet it was very easy to be read,

their sins, have a foretaste of the joys of heaven, and

and as easily understood. The principles of the Stoics

know that their names were enrolled in the book of

charmed me so much, that I made the book my

life. I farther protested that they had no time to lose,

companion wherever I went, and read it over and

that they all stood on the very verge of hell, and the

over in raptures, thinking that my mind was secured

breaking-brink of eternal torments, with a great deal

against all the smiles or frowns of fortune.

more of such edifying stuff.

“When foes revil’d, or friends betray’d,

Our hearts have wrung perhaps with sorrow; The youngest brother soon became a convert, and
But a firm effort always made Miss Betsy was “born again” soon after.
Complete resources for tomorrow.

“Lo! in the twinkling of an eye,

Their souls were frank’d for kingdom come.”
“Then why repine at vice elate,

But I had a tight job to convert my friend John; he

For injur’d worth our courage drown;

held out, and often cursed me heartily, and sang

Let us who cannot alter fate,
Mind no men’s business but our own.” prophane songs all day long.

But about four or five weeks after my re-conversion,
I now grew weary of dissipating my time, and began John was also converted, and became a favourite of
to think of employing my spare hours in something heaven, so that we considered ourselves as a holy
more satisfactory. For want of something else to do, community,
I went one evening to hear Mr John Wesley preach “Who knew the seat of Paradise,
in Broadmead, and being completely tired of the Could tell in what degree it lies;
way of life that I had lived, more or less, ever since Could deepest mysteries unriddle,
I had been out of my apprenticeship, and happening As easily as thread a needle.”
to have no other pursuit or hobby-horse, there was HUDIBRAS.
a kind of vacuity in my mind; in this state I was very LETTER XIV.
susceptible of any impressions, so that when I came

“————— He was a shrewd philosopher,
to hear Mr Wesley, my old fanatical notions returned And had read every text and gloss over,
full upon me, and I was once more carried away by Whate’er the crabbed’st author hath,
the tide of enthusiasm. He understood b’implicit faith;
Whatever sceptic could enquire for,

About this time we left our habitation in Queenstreet,

For ev’ry why he had a wherefore’;
and took lodgings of Mr Jones’s mother, on St

Knew more than forty of them do,
Philip’s Plain, where lived a brother of Mr Jones, As far as words and terms could go,
who was about seventeen years of age. Soon after we All which he understood by rote,
had removed to this place, the brother, whose name And as occasion serv’d would quote;
was Richard Jones, was permitted to work in the No matter whether right or wrong,
They might be either said or sung.”

same room with my friend and me. They had also a

sister about twenty years of age, who frequently
joined our company. MR John Jones and myself were now greater friends
than ever, so that one would on no account stir out

Our room overlooked the church-yard, which

of the house without the other.

contributed to increase my gloomy ideas, and I had
so much of the spiritual Quixotism in me, that I soon Mr Jones had the advantage of me in temporals, he
began to think that it was not enough for me to save could get more money than I could, but as to grace
my own soul, but I ought in conscience to attempt and spiritual gifts I had much the advantage of all our
the conversion of my companions, who I really community, so that I was their spiritual director; and
believed were in the high road to hell, and every if they thought that any of their acquaintance held any
moment liable to eternal damnation. … opinions that were not quite sound and orthodox,


such were introduced to me, in order that I might the same time. (Sunday nights excepted.) But lest we
convince them of their errors. In fact, I was looked should oversleep the time allowed, one of us sat up
upon as an apostle, so that whatever I asserted was to work until the time appointed for the others to
received as pure gospel, nor was anything undertaken rise, and when all were up, my friend John and your
without my advice. humble servant took it by turns to read aloud to the

such were introduced to me, in order that I might the same time. (Sunday nights excepted.) But lest we
convince them of their errors. In fact, I was looked should oversleep the time allowed, one of us sat up
upon as an apostle, so that whatever I asserted was to work until the time appointed for the others to
received as pure gospel, nor was anything undertaken rise, and when all were up, my friend John and your
without my advice. humble servant took it by turns to read aloud to the

We all worked very hard, particularly Mr John
“Such there are, denied by stars unkind,

Jones and I, in order to get money to purchase

The seasons to exert the noble mind,

books, and for some months every shilling we

Should watch occasions, and attend the hours,

could spare was laid out at old book-shops, stalls,

And catch the moments, to indulge their pow’rs.”

&c., insomuch that in a short time we had what we

called a very good library. This choice collection
But this mad scheme of ours had nearly been

consisted of Polhill on Precious Faith, Polhill on the
attended with very serious consequences. One night,

Decrees, Shepherd’s Sound Believer, Bunyan’s
it being my turn to watch, I removed to the fire

Pilgrim’s Progress, Bunyan’s Good News for the
side, to read some particular passage, and the

Vilest of Sinners, his Heavenly Footman, his Grace
candlestick which we worked by not being

abounding to the Chief of Sinners, his Life and
convenient to move about, and there being no

Death of Mr Badman, his Holy War in the town of
other at that time in the room, I set up the candle

Mansoul, Hervey’s Meditations, Hervey’s Dialogues,
against the handle of a pewter pot, and was so

Roger’s Seven Helps to Heaven, Hall’s Jacob’s
extremely heavy (owing to much watchfulness) that

Ladder, Divine Breathings of a Devout Soul, Adams
I fell fast asleep, and had like never to have awaked

on the Second Epistle of Peter, Adams’s Sermons
again, for the candle burned down to the handle of

on the Black Devil, the White Devil, &c. &c.
the pot, melted it off, and then fell on the chair on

Colling’s Divine Cordial for the Soul, Pearse’s
which it stood; so that Mr Jones found me in the

Soul’s Espousal to Christ, Erskine’s Gospel Sonnets,
morning fast asleep, and part of the chair consumed,

the Death of Abel, the Faith of God’s Elect,
which alarmed us all very much, and made us more

Manton on the Epistle of St James, Pamble’s

Works, Baxter’s Shove for a Heavy-a***d Christian,
his Call to the Unconverted, Mary Magdalen’s But still we continued our plan of living, so that we Funeral Tears, Mrs Moore’s Evidences for Heaven, made a rapid

progress in what we called spiritual Mead’s Almost a Christian, the Sure Guide to and divine knowledge, and were soon masters of Heaven, Brooks on Assurance, God’s

Revenge the various arguments made use of by most against Murder, Brooks’s Heaven upon Earth, the polemical divines, &c.
Pathway to Heaven, Wilcox’s Guide to Eternal

And the better to guard my pupils from what I

Glory, Derham’s Unsearchable Riches of Christ,

called false doctrines, I used often to engage them

his Exposition of Revelations, Alleine’s Sure Guide

in various controversies, in which I sometimes took

to Heaven, the Sincere Convert, Watson’s Heaven

one side of the question, sometimes the other, in

taken by Storm, Heaven’s Vengeance, Wall’s None

order to make them well versed in controversy, and

but Christ, Aristotle’s Masterpiece, Coles on God’s

acquainted with the strength of their adversaries. So

Sovereignty, Chamock on Providence, Young’s

that I was, by turns, a Calvinist, an Arminian, an

Short and Sure Guide to Salvation, Wesley’s Sermons,

Arian, a Socinian, a Deist, and even an Atheist. And

Journals, Tracts, &c.; and others of the same

after they had said all they could to confute me, I


would point out where they had failed, and added We had indeed a few of a better sort, as Gay’s such arguments as I was master of, and in general

Fables, Pomfret’s Poems, Milton’s Paradise Lost, we were all satisfied. But when we happened to besides Hobbes’s Homer, and Walker’s Epictetus, have any doubts we had

recourse to the bible and mentioned in my last letter. commentators of our own side of the question; and
I assure you, my dear friend, this was a very fine

But what we wanted in judgment in choosing our
hobby-horse, which, like Aaron’s serpent,

library we made up in application; so anxious were
swallowed up all the other hobby-horses.

we to read a great deal, that we allowed ourselves
but about three hours sleep in twenty-four, and for “Light minds are pleased with trifles.” — OVID.
some months together we never were all in bed at


I have been informed, that when circulating libraries being entirely neglected, they seldom are capable of
were first opened, the booksellers were much alarmed, rational conversation, and of course are neglected
and their rapid increase added to their fears, and led and despised. But this is not the case with English
them to think that the sale of books would be much ladies; they now in general read, not only novels,
diminished by such libraries. But experience has although many of that class are excellent productions
proved that the sale of books, so far from being and tend to polish both the heart and head; but they
diminished by them, has been greatly promoted, as also read the best books in the English language, and
from those repositories many thousand families many read the best works in various languages; and
have been cheaply supplied with books, by which the there are some thousands of ladies who come to my
taste for reading has become much more general, shop, that know as well what books to chuse and are
and thousands of books are purchased every year by as well acquainted with works of taste and genius as
such as have first borrowed them at those libraries, any gentlemen in the kingdom, notwithstanding the
and after reading, approving of them, become sneer against novel-readers, &c.

purchasers. “The rights of women, says a female pen,
Are to do everything as well as men.

Circulating libraries have also greatly contributed

And since the sex at length has been inclin’d

towards the amusement and cultivation of the other

To cultivate that useful part, the mind;

sex; by far the greatest part of ladies have now a taste

Since they have learnt to read, to write, to spell;

for books.

Since some of them have writ, and use it well;

“——Learning, once the man’s exclusive pride, Let us not force them back with brow severe,

Seems verging fast towards the female side.” Within the pale of ignorance and fear,

Confin’d entirely to domestic arts,

It is true that I do not, with Miss Mary Wolstonecraft,

Producing only children, pies and tarts.”

“earnestly wish to see the distinction of sex


confounded in society,” not even with her exception,
“unless where love animates the behaviour.” And yet I am sorry that doctor Gregory had some reason for
I differ widely from those gentlemen who would giving the following advice to his daughters:— “If
prevent the ladies from acquiring a taste for books; you happen (says he) to have any learning, keep it a
and as yet I have never seen any solid reason advanced profound secret, especially from the men, who
why ladies should not polish their understandings, generally look with a jealous and malignant eye on a
and render themselves fit companions for men of woman of great parts.” My God, what sort of men
sense. And I have often thought that one great reason must these be, and what degrading ideas must they
why some gentlemen spend all their leisure hours have of women! Butler, when he wrote this couplet,
abroad, is, for want of rational companions at home; seems to have been one of that sort.
for, if a gentleman happens to marry a fine lady, as “The souls of women are so small,
justly painted by Miss Wolstonecraft, or the square That some believe they’ve none at all.”
elbow family drudge, as drawn to the life by the same REMAINS.
hand, I must confess that I see no great inducement

The Sunday-schools are spreading very fast in most that he has to desire the company of his wife, as she

parts of England, which will accelerate the diffusion scarce can be called a rational companion, or one fit

of knowledge among the lower classes of the to be entrusted with the education of her children;

community, and in a very few years exceedingly and even Rousseau is obliged to acknowledge that it

increase the sale of books. Here permit me earnestly “is a melancholy thing for a father of a family, who

to call on every honest bookseller (I trust my call will is fond of home, to be obliged to be always wrapped

not be in vain) as well as on every friend to the up in himself, and to have nobody about him to

extension of knowledge, to unite (as you I am confident
whom he can impart his sentiments.” Lord Lyttleton

will) in a hearty Amen.
advises well in the two following lines:

Let such as doubt whether the enlightening of the

“O you, my fair, endeavour to possess

understandings of the lower orders of society, makes

An elegance of mind, as well as dress.”

them happier, or be of any utility to a state, read the I cannot help thinking that the reason why some of

following lines (particularly the last twelve) by Dr

the eastern nations treat the ladies with such contempt,

Goldsmith, taken from his Traveller.

and look upon them in such a degrading point of

“These are the charms to barren states assign’d,

view, is owing to their marrying them when mere

Their wants are few, their wishes all confin’d,

children both as to age and understanding, which last


But it would be an endless task to set down the there is anything in the newspapers of consequence,
various and opposite articles that are constantly that draws many to the coffee-house, where they
called for in my shop. To talk to these different chat away the evenings, instead of visiting the shops
pursuers after happiness, or amusement, has given of booksellers (as they ought to do, no doubt) or
me much pleasure, and afforded me some knowledge reading at home. The best time for bookselling, is
of mankind, and also of books; and to hear the when there is no kind of news stirring; then many of
debates that frequently occur between the different those who for months would have done nothing but
purchasers is a fine amusement; so that I have talk of war or peace, revolutions, and counter-
sometimes compared my shop to a stage. And I revolutions, &c. &c., for want of other amusement
assure you that a variety of characters, strongly will have recourse to books; so that I have often
marked, constantly made their appearance. experienced that the report of a war, or the trial of

But it would be an endless task to set down the there is anything in the newspapers of consequence,
various and opposite articles that are constantly that draws many to the coffee-house, where they
called for in my shop. To talk to these different chat away the evenings, instead of visiting the shops
pursuers after happiness, or amusement, has given of booksellers (as they ought to do, no doubt) or
me much pleasure, and afforded me some knowledge reading at home. The best time for bookselling, is
of mankind, and also of books; and to hear the when there is no kind of news stirring; then many of
debates that frequently occur between the different those who for months would have done nothing but
purchasers is a fine amusement; so that I have talk of war or peace, revolutions, and counter-
sometimes compared my shop to a stage. And I revolutions, &c. &c., for want of other amusement
assure you that a variety of characters, strongly will have recourse to books; so that I have often
marked, constantly made their appearance. experienced that the report of a war, or the trial of

Before I conclude this letter, I cannot help observing

How youth from manhood differs in its views,
that the sale of books in general has increased

And how old age still other paths pursues;
How zeal in Pricus nothing more than heats, prodigiously within the last twenty years. According
In Codex burns, and ruins all it meets; to the best estimation I have been able to make, I

How freedom now a lovely face shall wear, suppose that more than four times the number of
Now shock us in the likeness of a bear; books are sold now than were sold twenty years How jealousy in some resembles hate,

since. The poorer sort of farmers, and even the poor In others seems but love grown delicate;

country people in general, who before that period

How modesty is often pride refin’d,

spent their winter evenings in relating stories of

And virtue but the canker of the mind;

witches, ghosts, hobgoblins, &c., now shorten the

How love of riches, grandeur, life and fame,

winter nights by hearing their sons and daughters

Wear different shapes, and yet are still the same.”
read tales, romances, &c.; and on entering their

houses, you may see Tom Jones, Roderick Random,

Would my health permit my constant attendance, I

and other entertaining books, stuck up on their

should prefer it to everything in life (reading excepted)

bacon racks, &c. If John goes to town with a load of

and you may recollect that for some years I sought

hay, he is charged to be sure not to forget to bring

no other amusement whatever. It was at a bookseller’s

home ‘Peregrine Pickle’s Adventures;’ and when

shop at Athens, that Zeno, after his great loss by

Dolly is sent to market to sell her eggs, she is

shipwreck, found consolation in reading Xenophon:

commissioned to purchase, ‘The History of Pamela

there he soon forgot his loss. Where (says he to the

Andrews.’ In short, all ranks and degrees now read.

bookseller) do these sort of men live? The philosopher

But the most rapid increase of the sale of books has

Crates was at the door, whom Zeno followed, and

been since the termination of the late war.

from that hour became his disciple.
A number of book-clubs are also formed in every

Having been long habituated to make remarks on

part of England, where each member subscribes a

whatever I saw or heard, is another reason why I

certain sum quarterly to purchase books; in some of

have succeeded so well in my business. I have for the

these clubs the books, after they have been read by

last seven years successively told my acquaintances

all the subscribers, are sold among them to the

before the year began, how much money I should

highest bidders, and the money produced by such

take in the course of it, without once failing of taking

sale, is expended in fresh purchases, by which prudent

the sum mentioned. I formed my judgment by

and judicious mode each member has it in his power

observing what kind of stock in trade I had in hand,

to become possessed of the work of any particular

and by considering how that stock was adapted to

author he may judge deserving a superior degree of

the different tastes and pursuits of the times; in doing

attention; and the members at large enjoy the advantage

this I was obliged to be pretty well informed of the

of a continual succession of different publications,

state of politics in Europe, as I have always found

instead of being restricted to a repeated perusal of

that bookselling is much affected by the political state

the same authors; which must have been the case with

of affairs. For as mankind are in search of amusement,

many, if so rational a plan had not been adopted.

they often embrace the first that offers; so that if


LETTER XV. contented in all situations, although at times they have
“Laugh where you must; be candid where you can.” been very gloomy indeed. Dryden says,
POPE. “We to ourselves may all our wishes grant,
“Know then, that always when you come, For nothing coveting, we nothing want.”
You’ll find me sitting on my bum: DRYDEN’S Indian Emperor.
Or lying on a couch, surrounded

And in another place he says,

With tables, pens, and books, confounded;

“They cannot want who wish not to have more:

Wrapt up in lofty speculation,
Who ever said an anchoret was poor?”

As if on the safety of the nation.” HUME.

DRYDEN’S Secret Love.IN the course of my reading, I learned that there had
been various sects of philosophers amongst the The pleasure of eating and drinking I entirely despised,
Greeks, Romans, &c., and I well remembered the and for some time carried this disposition to an
names of the most eminent of them. At an old book extreme, and even to the present time I feel a very
shop I purchased Plato on the Immortality of the great indifference about these matters; when in
Soul, Plutarch’s Morals, Seneca’s Morals, Epicurus’s company, I frequently dine off one dish, when there
Morals, the Morals of Confucius the Chinese are twenty on the table. The account of Epicurus

Philosopher, and a few others. I now can scarcely living in his garden, at the expense of about a
help thinking that I received more real benefit from halfpenny per day, and that when he added a little
reading and studying them and Epictetus, than from cheese to his bread on particular occasions, he
all other books that I had read before, or have ever considered it as a luxury, filled me with raptures.
read since that time. “He talk’d of virtue, and of human bliss,

“I read the labours of the pen, What else so fit for man to settle well?

And thought them more than common men.” And still his long researches met in this,

This truth of truths which nothing can repel—

I was but about twenty-two years of age when I first

From virtue’s fount the purest joys outwell

began to read those fine moral productions; and I

Sweet rills of thought that cheer the conscious soul,
assure you, my friend, that they made a very deep and

While vice pours forth the troubled streams of hell;
lasting impression on my mind. By reading them, I Which, howe’er disguis’d, at last will dole;
was taught to bear the unavoidable evils attending Will through the tortur’d breast their fiery torrent
humanity, and to supply all my wants by contracting roll.”
or restraining my desires. THOMSON.

“To mend my virtues, and exalt my thought, From that moment I began to live on bread and tea,

What the bright sons of Greece and Rome have and for a considerable time did not partake of any wrote,

other viands, but in those I indulged myself three or

O’er day and night I turn; in them we find

four times a day. My reasons for living in this

A rich repast for the luxurious mind.” COOKE.

abstemious manner were in order to save money to It is now twenty-three years since I first perused

purchase books, to wean myself from the gross them, during which time I do not recollect that I have

pleasures of eating and drinking, &c. and to purge ever felt one anxious painful wish to get money,

my mind, and to make it more susceptible of estates, or any way to better my condition:

intellectual pleasures; and here I cannot help
“Indeed, my friend, were I to find remarking, that the term Epicure, when applied to
That wealth could e’er my real wishes gain; one who makes the pleasures of the table his chief

Had e’er disturb’d my thoughtful mind,

good, casts an unjust reflection on Epicurus, and

Or cost one serious moment’s pain;

conveys a wrong idea of that contemplative and very

I should have said, that all the rules,

abstemious philosopher, for although he asserted

I learn’d of moralists and schools,

that pleasure was the chief or supreme good, yet he

Were very useless, very vain.”

also as strongly asserted that it was the tranquillity of

And yet I have never since that time let slip any fair

the mind, and intellectual pleasure, that he so extolled

opportunity of doing it. Be contented, says Isocrates,

and recommended. “This pleasure,” says he, “that is

with what you have, and seek at the same time to

the very centre of our happiness, consists in nothing

make the best improvement of it you can. So that all

else than having our mind free from disturbance, and

I mean is, that I have not been over solicitous to

our body free from pain; drunkenness, excessive

obtain anything that I did not possess; but could at all

eating, niceness in our liquors, and all that seasons

times say, with St Paul, that I have learned to be


good cheer, have nothing in them that can make life in that I was disappointed, nor could I get a constant
happy; there is nothing but frugality and tranquillity seat of work until I came to Exeter, and of that place
of mind that establish this happy state; it is this calm I was soon tired; but being informed that a Mr John
that facilitates our distinguishing betwixt those things Taylor of Kingsbridge (forty miles below Exeter)
that ought to be our choice, and those, we ought to wanted such a hand, I went down and was gladly
shun, it is by the means thereof that we discard those received by Mr Taylor, whose name inspires me with
notions that discompose this first mover of our life.” gratitude, as he never treated me as a journeyman, but

good cheer, have nothing in them that can make life in that I was disappointed, nor could I get a constant
happy; there is nothing but frugality and tranquillity seat of work until I came to Exeter, and of that place
of mind that establish this happy state; it is this calm I was soon tired; but being informed that a Mr John
that facilitates our distinguishing betwixt those things Taylor of Kingsbridge (forty miles below Exeter)
that ought to be our choice, and those, we ought to wanted such a hand, I went down and was gladly
shun, it is by the means thereof that we discard those received by Mr Taylor, whose name inspires me with
notions that discompose this first mover of our life.” gratitude, as he never treated me as a journeyman, but
made me his companion. Nor was any part of my

That pleasure was the chiefest good, time ever spent in a more agreeable, pleasing manner

(And was perhaps in the right, if rightly understood) than that which I passed in this retired place, or I

His life he to his doctrines brought, believe more profitable to a master. I was the first

And in a garden’s shade that sovereign pleasure man he ever had that was able to make stuff and silk


shoes, and it being also known that I came from

Whoever a true Epicure would be,

Bristol, this had great weight with the country ladies,

May there find cheap and virtuous luxury.”

and procured my master customers, who generally

COWLEY’S Garden.

sent for me to take measure of their feet, and I was
St Evremont, in his vindication of Epicurus, says, looked upon by all to be the best workman in the “Ignorant men know not his worth. Wise men have town, although I had

not been brought up to given large and honourable testimonies of his exalted stuffwork, nor had ever entirely made one stuff or virtue and sublime precepts. They have

fully proved silk shoe before. Nor should I have presumed to his pleasures to be as severe as the Stoic’s virtue; that proclaim myself a stuff-man, had there been any

such to be debauched like Epicurus, a man must be as workmen in the place; but as there were none, Isober as Zeno. His temperance was so great that his boldly ventured

and succeeded very well, nor did any ordinary diet was nothing but bread and water. The one in the town ever know that it was my first Stoics and all other philosophers

agree with Epicurus attempt in that branch.
in this; that the true felicity of life is to be free from

During the time that I lived here, I as usual was

perturbations, to understand our duty towards God

obliged to employ one or other of my acquaintance

and man, and to enjoy the present without any

to write my letters for me. This procured me much

anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse

praise among the young men as a good inditer of

ourselves either with hopes or fears; to curb and

letters. (I need not inform you that they were not

restrain our unruly appetites; to rest satisfied with

good judges.) My master said to me one day, he was

what we have, which is abundantly sufficient, for he

surprized that I did not learn to write my own letters;

that is content wants nothing.”

and added, that he was sure that I could learn to do

“Some place the bliss in action, some in ease;

it in a very short time. The thought pleased me much,

Those call it pleasure, and contentment these;

and without any delay I set about it, by taking up any

Some, sunk to beasts, find pleasure end in pain;

pieces of paper that had writing on them, and

Some, swell’d to gods, confess e’en virtue vain.”
POPE. imitating the letters as well as I could. I employed my

leisure hours in this way for near two months, after

I continued the above self-denying life until I left

which time I wrote my own letters, in a bad hand,

Bristol, which was on Whitsunday in 1769. I had for

you may be sure; but it was plain and easy to read,

some time before been pointing out to my friend

which was all I cared for; nor to the present moment

John Jones some of the pleasures and advantages of

can I write much better, as I never would have any

travelling, so that I easily prevailed on him to

person to teach me, nor was I ever possessed of

accompany me towards the west of England; and in

patience enough to employ time sufficient to learn to

the evening we arrived at Bridgewater, where Mr

write well; and yet as soon as I was able to scribble,

Jones got work. He was employed by Mr Cash, with

I wrote verses on some trifle or other every day for

whom he continued near twelve months, and in the

years together.

end married Mr Cash’s daughter, a very pretty and
very amiable little woman, with some fortune. When Out of some thousands I at present recollect the
my friend was offered work by Mr Cash, I prevailed following, which I placed by the side of the figure of
on him to accept of it, assuring him that I had no a clergyman in his robes, with his hands and eyes
doubt of my being able to get work at Taunton; but lifted up; this image stood over the fire-place in my



other motives I will leave to such as are acquainted
with me to determine, but I reasoned thus: if I sell a
book too dear, I perhaps lose that customer and his
friends for ever, but if I sell articles considerably
under their real value the purchaser will come again
and recommend my shop to his acquaintances, so
that from the principles of self-interest I would sell
cheap; I always was inclined to reason in this manner,
and nine years since a very trifling circumstance
operated much upon my mind, and fully convinced
me my judgment was right on that head. Mrs
Lackington had bought a piece of linen to make me
some shirts; when the linendraper’s man brought it
into my shop three ladies were present, and on seeing
the cloth opened, asked Mrs L. what it cost per yard;
on being told the price, they all said it was very cheap,
and each lady went and purchased the same quantity,
to make shirts for their husbands; those pieces were
again displayed to their acquaintances, so that the
linendraper got a deal of custom from that very
circumstance: and I resolved to do likewise. However
trifling this anecdote may appear, you will pardon
me, for introducing it, when you reflect that it was
productive of very beneficial consequences, and that
many greater effects have arisen from as trivial
causes. We are even told that sir Isaac Newton would
probably never have studied the system of gravitation
had he not been under an apple-tree when some of
the fruit loosened from the branches and fell to the
earth; it was the question of a simple gardener
concerning a pump that led Galileo to study and
discover the weight of the air. To the tones of a
Welch harp are we indebted for the bard of Gray;
and Gibbon formed the design of that truly great
work, his History of the ‘Decline of the Roman
Empire,’ while viewing the ruins of the Capitol.

“Lull’d in the countless chambers of the brain,

Our thoughts are link’d by many a hidden chain;

Awake but one, and lo, what myriads rise!

Each stamps its image as the other flies.”



But among all the schools where the knowledge of
mankind is to be acquired, I know of none equal to
that of a bookseller’s shop. A bookseller who has any
taste in literature, may be said to feed his mind as
cooks’ and butchers’ wives get fat by the smell of
meat. If the master is of an inquisitive and
communicative turn, and is in a considerable line of
business, his shop will then be a place of resort for
men, women, and children, of various nations, and
of more various capacities, dispositions, &c.


“Who there but wishes to prolong his stay,

And on those cases cast a ling’ring look;

For who to thoughtless ignorance a prey

Neglects to hold short dalliance with a book.

Reports attract the lawyer’s parting eyes,

Novels Lord Fopling and Sir Plume require,

For songs and plays the voice of beauty cries;

And sense and nature Grandison desire.”

To adduce a few instances by way of illustration:—
Here you may find an old bawd inquiring for ‘The
Countess of Huntingdon’s Hymn-book;’ an old
worn-out rake for ‘Harris’s List of Covent-garden
Ladies;’ simple Simon, for ‘The Art of Writing Love-
letters;’ and Dolly for a Dream-book; the lady of true
taste and delicacy wants ‘Louisa Mathews;’ and my
lady’s maid, ‘Ovid’s Art of Love;’ a doubting Christian
calls for ‘The Crumbs of Comfort;’ and a practical
Antinomian for ‘Eton’s Honeycomb of Free
Justification;’ the pious churchwoman for ‘The Week’s
Preparation;’ and the Atheist for ‘Hammond’s Letter
to Dr Priestly,’ ‘Toulmin’s Eternity of the World,’
and ‘Hume’s Dialogues on Natural Religion;’ the
mathematician for Sanderson’s Fluxions;’ and the
beau, for ‘The Toilet of Flora;’ the courtier, for
‘Macchiavel’s Prince,’ or ‘Burke on the Revolution in
France;’ and a republican for ‘Paine’s Rights of Man;’
the tap-room politician wants ‘The History of Wat
Tyler’ or of ‘The Fisherman of Naples;’ and an old
Chelsea pensioner calls for ‘The History of the Wars
of glorious Queen Anne;’ the critic calls for ‘Bayle’s
Historical Dictionary,’ ‘Blair’s Lectures,’ ‘Johnson’s
Lives of the Poets, and the last month’s reviews;’ and
my barber wants the ‘Sessions Paper’ or the ‘Trial of
John the Painter,’ the freethinker asks for ‘Hume’s
Essays;’ and the young student for ‘Leland’s View of
Deistical Writers;’ the fortuneteller wants ‘Sibley’s
Translation of Placidus de Titus,’ or ‘Sanderson’s
Secrets of Palmistry;’ and the sceptic wants ‘Cornelius
Agrippa’s Vanity of the Arts and Sciences;’ an old
hardened sinner wants ‘Bunyan’s Good News for
the vilest of Men;’ and a moral Christian wants ‘The
Whole Duty of Man;’ the Roman Catholic wants
‘The Lives of the Saints;’ the Protestant wants ‘Fox’s
Book of Martyrs;’ one asks for ‘An Account of
Animal Magnetism;’ another for ‘The Victorious
Philosopher’s Stone discovered;’ one wants the ‘Death
of Abel;’ another desires to have ‘The Spanish Rogue;’
one wants an ‘Ecclesiastical History;’ another, ‘The
Tyburn Chronicle;’ one wants ‘Johnson’s Lives of the
Highwaymen;’ another wants ‘Gibbon’s Lives of
Pious Women;’ Miss W————h calls for ‘Euclid
in Greek;’ and a young divine for ‘Juliet Grenville, a
novel;’ and the philosopher dips into everything.

say) rational assembly, has composed what I think a hands) remain a monument of his knowledge and
just character of him, free from that fulsome application.” — But to proceed.
panegyric which too often degrades those it is meant

say) rational assembly, has composed what I think a hands) remain a monument of his knowledge and
just character of him, free from that fulsome application.” — But to proceed.
panegyric which too often degrades those it is meant

to celebrate, and conveys to all who knew the parties

I could almost subscribe to the opinions of Herillus

the idea of having been designed as a burlesque

the philosopher, who placed in learning the sovereign

instead of an encomium; however, as you may not

good, and maintained that it was alone sufficient to

have seen it (though in print), and it will engross but

make us wise and happy; others have said that

a very little of your time to peruse, I shall here beg

“learning is the mother of all virtue, and that vice is

leave to insert it.

produced from ignorance.” Although that is not “With what surprise posterity shall see

strictly true, yet I cannot help regretting the

A panegyric penn’d without a fee!”

disadvantages I labour under by having been deprived “On Sunday, May 24, 1789, died at his house in of the benefits of an early education, as it is a loss that Worship

street, Moorfields, aged 50, Mr Ralph can scarcely be repaired in any situation. How much Tinley; one who had not dignity of birth or elevated more difficult then was

it for me to attain any degree

rank in life to boast of, but who possessed what is far of proficiency, when involved in the concerns of a superior to either, a solid understanding, amiable large

manners, a due sense of religion, and an industrious

“Without a genius learning soars in vain,
disposition. Instead of riches Providence blessed

And without learning, genius sinks again;
him with a good share of health, and a mind Their force united, crowns the sprightly reign.”
contented with an humble situation. Those hours ELPHINSTON’S Horace.
which he could spare from a proper attention to the

The instructions that I received from men and books

duties of a husband and a father, and manual labour

were often like the seeds sown among thorns, the

as a shoemaker, were incessantly employed in the

cares of the world choaked them:

improvement of his mind in various branches of

“My head was full of household cares,

science; in many of which he attained a proficiency,

And necessary dull affairs.” LORD LYTTLETON.

totally divested of that affectation of superiority
So that although I understand a little of many

which little minds assume. These qualities rendered
branches of literature, yet my knowledge is, after all,

him respected by all who knew him as an intelligent
I freely confess, but superficial; which indeed I need

man and a most agreeable companion. Among
not have told you. As Montaigne said two hundred

other acquisitions, entomology was his peculiar delight.
years ago, I may say now, “I have a smatch of

Thus far the prospect is pleasing. It is a painful task
everything, and nothing thoroughly, a-la-mode Française.

to add, that this amiable person fell a victim to an
As to my natural parts, I often find them to bow

unhappy error in taking a medicine. The evening
under the burden; my fancy and judgment do but

previous to his decease he spent in a philosophical
grope in the dark, staggering, tripping, and stumbling;

society, of which he had many years been a member,
and when I have gone as far as I can I am by no means

and where his attendance had been constant, but
satisfied; I see more land still before me, but so

finding himself indisposed, he in the morning early
wrapped up in clouds, that my dim sight cannot

had recourse to a phial of antimonial wine, which had
distinguish what it is.” However, superficial as it is, it

long been in his possession, and of which only a small
affords me an endless source of pleasure.

part remained. This, most unfortunately, he
swallowed; and it having by long maceration acquired “And books are still my highest joy,
an extraordinary degree of strength, and being These earliest please, and latest cloy.”


rendered turbid by mixing with the metallic particles,
it produced the effect of a violent poison, occasioning It has also been of very great use to me in business,
almost instantaneous death. May his fate prove a as it enabled me to put a value on thousands of
warning to others to be careful how they venture to articles before I knew what such books were
confide in their own judgment in so intricate a science commonly sold at: ’tis true I was sometimes mistaken,
as medicine! — His valuable cabinet of insects, both and have sold a very great number of different
foreign and domestic, supposed to be one of the articles much lower than. I ought, even on my own
completest (of a private collection) in the kingdom, plan of selling very cheap, yet that never gave me the
all scientifically arranged with peculiar neatness and in least concern; but if I discovered that I had (as
the finest preservation, will (if it falls into proper sometimes was the case) sold any articles too dear, it

gave me much uneasiness; for whether I had any


Here’s a shoemaker’s chaplain has negative merit, In every sermon that I heard him preach, he would
As his vice he ne’er flatters or ruffles his spirit; sometimes make them ready to burst with laughter,
No wages receiving, his conscience is clear;

and the next moment drown them in tears; indeed it Not prone to deceiving, he’s nothing to fear.

was scarcely possible for the most guarded to escape

‘Tis true he is silent — but that’s nothing new;

the effect …

And if you’d repent, his attitude view;
With uplifted hands all vice to reprove, LETTER XVI

How solemn he stands, his eyes fix’d above! “Love, the most generous passion of the mind;
As a kind of contrast I will insert an epigram that I The softest refuge innocence can find;
wrote but a few days since on an ignorant Methodist The soft director of unguided youth,

Fraught with kind wishes, and secured by truth;


The cordial drop heav’n in our cup has thrown,

A stupid fellow told me t’other day,

To make the nauseous draught of life go down;

That by the spirit he could preach and pray;

On which one only blessing God might raise,

Let none then say that miracles have ceas’d,

In lands of atheists subsidies of praise;

As God still opes the mouth of beast;

For none did e’er so dull and stupid prove,

And asses now can speak as plain

But felt a God, and bless’d his pow’r, in love.”

As e’er they could in Balaam’s reign.

But I always wrote as fast as I could, without

I MUST now request you to go back with me a few

endeavouring to write well; and that this is my

years, as I have not yet made you acquainted with my

present practice, I need not inform you.

principal amours. I was about seventeen years of age
I came to this place in but a weak state of body; when an adventure discovered, that although I was however, the healthy situation of the town, together so very

spiritual, as I before informed you, I was
with bathing in the salt water, soon restored me to notwithstanding susceptible of another kind of
perfect health. I passed thirteen months here in a very impression.
happy manner; but the wages for work being very

“Oh, let me still enjoy the cheerful day,
low, and as I had spent much time in writing hymns Till many years unheeded o’er me roll;
to every song tune that I knew, besides a number of Pleas’d in my age I trifle life away,
love verses, letters, &c. I was very poor, and to And tell how much I lov’d ere I grew old.”
complete all, I began to keep a deal of company, in HAMMOND’S Love Elegies.
which I gave a loose to my natural gaiety of

Being at farmer Gamlin’s at Charlton, four miles disposition, much more than was consistent with the

from Taunton, to hear a Methodist sermon, I fell grave, sedate ideas which I had formed of a religious

desperately in love with the farmer’s handsome character; all which made me resolve to leave

Kingsbridge, which I did in 1770.

“Her home-spun dress in simple neatness lies,
I travelled as far as Exeter the first day, where I And for no glaring equipage she sighs.
worked about a fortnight, and saved sufficient to She gratefully receives what heav’n has sent,

And, rich in poverty, enjoys content.

carry me to Bridgewater, where I worked two or

Her reputation which is all her boast,

three weeks more. Before I arrived there Mr John

In a malicious visit ne’er was lost.

Jones had gone back to reside at Bristol, but as soon

No midnight masquerade her beauty wears,

as he heard of my being in Bridgewater, he and his

And health, not paint, the fading bloom repairs.

brother Richard sent me an invitation to come to

If love’s soft passions in her bosom reign,
Bristol again and live with them. Finding that I did An equal passion warms her happy swain.”
not immediately comply, they both came to GAY.
Bridgewater, and declared their intentions of not

At that time I abounded in spiritual gifts, which

returning to Bristol without me; so that after a day or

induced this honest rustic maid to be very kind to me,

two I yielded to their solicitations, and again lived

and to walk several fields with me in my road back

very comfortably with them, their mother and sister.

to Taunton, talking all the way of her spiritual distress
I think it was about this period that I went several and godly concerns; while I poured heavenly comfort
times to the Tabernacle, and heard Mr George into her soul, and talked so long of divine love, until
Whitefield; and of all the preachers that ever I I found that my affection for her was not altogether
attended, never did I meet with one that had such a of that spiritual nature. And yet
perfect command over the passions of his audience.


“We lov’d without transgressing virtue’s bounds: With this dear girl I spent all my leisure time, for two
We fix’d the limits of our tenderest thoughts, or three years; so that we enjoyed together hundreds Came to the verge of honour, and there stopp’d;

“We lov’d without transgressing virtue’s bounds: With this dear girl I spent all my leisure time, for two
We fix’d the limits of our tenderest thoughts, or three years; so that we enjoyed together hundreds Came to the verge of honour, and there stopp’d;

“O days of bliss!

If this be sin, angels might live with more;

To equal this

And mingle rays of minds less pure than ours.”

Olympus strives in vain;

DRYDEN’S Love Triumphant.

O happy pair,

After this you may be sure that I did not let slip any O happy fair!
opportunity of hearing sermons at farmer Gamlin’s; O happy, happy swain!”
and I generally prevailed with Nancy Smith, my JOANNES SECUNDUS.

charming spiritual dairy-maid, to accompany me

But still I never could entirely forget my charming part of the way home, and at every gate I accompanied

innocent dairy-maid. In fact, I had love enough for my spiritual advice with a kiss.

both, to have taken either for better or worse; but my
“——Oh then the longest summer’s day being an apprentice prevented me from marrying at
Seem’d too, too much in haste; still the full heart that time.

Had not imparted half: ’twas happiness
Too exquisite to last. Of joys departed “Absence,” says Rochefoucault, “lessens moderate
Never to return, how painful the remembrance!” passions, but increases great ones, like the wind

BLAIR’S Grave. which blows out tapers, but kindles fire.”

But alas! these comfortable Sunday walks were soon It is true, I had the greatest love for Nancy Smith; but
at an end; as my charming Nancy Smith, for some Hannah Allen had the advantage of Nancy, as I could
reason or other (I have forgot what) left her place, see Hannah almost every day, and Nancy only once
and went to live as dairy-maid with a farmer in the or twice in about three years. However, I at last fell
marsh country, between Bridgewater and Bristol, out with Hannah (on what occasion I cannot recollect)
seventeen miles from Taunton, so that I did not see and I sent Nancy a letter, which made up matters
her for near two years afterwards, during which time with her; for, like Sterne, I was “always in love with
I gave spiritual advice to another holy sister, whose one goddess or other;” and Xenophon in his banquet,
name was Hannah Allen. informs us, that the divine Socrates said, that he never
“Sure philosophy, reason, and coolness must prove remembered that he was ever without being in love,
Defences unequal to shield us from love.” nor would he part from the company without saying

C.J. FOX. something on “the attributes of that great power; he
resembles but a child, says he, who by his power is
I prevailed on this lovely maid to attend the Methodist

master of all things, and is grafted into the very

preaching at five o’clock on Monday mornings, and

essence and constitution of the soul of man.”

we often met at three or four, so that we had an hour
or two to spend in walking and conversation on Soon after, Nancy Smith came to live for a little time

spiritual affairs. Had you seen and heard us on the at her father’s house at Petherton, near Bridgewater,
cold frosty mornings, it would have put you in mind seven miles from Taunton. This happened during the of Milton’s Devils, whom he represents as at times election at

Taunton, when I was changed from a starving with cold: strict Methodist to a rake; and although the wedding
“Others apart, sat on a hill, retir’d, ring was purchased, and we were to have been

In thoughts more elevate, and reason’d high married in a few days, yet the marriage was put off
Of Providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate; on account of my dissipated character.
Fix’d fate, free-will, foreknowledge absolute;

“With wine I strove to soothe my love-sick soul,

And found no end in wandering mazes lost.”

But vengeful Cupid dash’d with tears the bowl:


All mad with rage, to kinder nymphs I flew.”
But I assure you, my friend, that we were sometimes GRAINGER’S Tibullus.
like the Galatians of old; we began in the spirit, and

I soon after set off for Bristol, as I before informed

ended in the flesh.

you; nor did I see her after that, until my return from

“Now on the moss-bank, beneath the shade, Kingsbridge, when I saw her several times prior to For hours of love, or meditation made;

my setting off for Bristol with my friend Jones, and To the soft passion I my heart resign,

his brother Richard.

To make the long obdurate maiden mine.”


At one time I had a strong inclination to learn French, My big heart melts in sympathising tears.
but as soon as I was enabled to make out and abridge What are the splendours of the gaudy court,
Its tinsel trappings, and its pageant pomps?

title-pages, so as to insert them right in my catalogues,
To me far happier seems the banish’d lord,

I left off for what appeared to me more pleasing as

Amid Siberia’s unrejoicing wilds.” WARTON.

well as more necessary pursuits; reflecting that as I
Another great source of amusement as well as

began so late in life, and had probably but a very
knowledge I have met with in reading almost all the

short period to live, (and I paid some regard to what
best novels; by the best, I mean those written by

Helvetius has asserted, viz. that “No man acquires
Cervantes, Fielding, Smollet, Richardson, Miss Burney,

any new ideas after he is forty-five years of age.”) I
Voltaire, Marmontel, Sterne, Le Sage, Goldsmith,

had no time to bestow on the attainment of languages.
Mackenzie, Dr Moore, Green, C. Smith, Gunning,

“‘Tis weak in any man to lavish pains,

Lee, Reeves, Lennox, Radcliffe, and some others.

And rifle and confound his brains.”
And I have often thought, with Fielding, that some

I therefore contented myself with reading all the

of those publications have given us a more genuine

translations of the classics, and inserted the originals

history of man, in what are called romances, than is

in my catalogues as well as I could; and when

sometimes to be found under the more respectable

sometimes I happened to put the genitive or dative

titles of history, biography, &c.; I have indeed dipped

case instead of the nominative or accusative, my

into everything, as Dr Armstrong advises.

customers kindly considered this as a venial fault,

“Toy with your books, and as the various fits

which they readily pardoned, and bought the books

Of humour seize you, from philosophy


To fable shift, from serious Antonine
As I have indefatigably used my best endeavours to To Rabelais’ ravings, and from prose to song,
acquire knowledge, I never thought I had the smallest While reading pleases, but no longer read.

And read aloud resounding Homer’s strains,

reason to be ashamed on account of my deficiency,

And wield the thunder of Demosthenes.

especially as I never made pretensions to erudition,

The chest so exercised, improves its thoughts,

or affected to possess what I knew I was deficient in.

And quick vibrations thro’ the bowels drive

“A bookseller (says Mr Paterson in his Joineriana) is

The restless blood, which in unactive days

in general a bad judge of everything — but his

Would loiter else, through unelastic tubes:
stupidity shines most conspicuously in that particular Deem it not trifling, while I recommend branch of knowledge by which he is to get his What posture suits; to

stand and sit by turns,
bread.” Dr Young’s couplet you will therefore think As nature prompts, is best, but o’er your leaves
equally applicable to many others as well as myself: To lean for ever cramps the vital parts,
And robs the fine machinery of its play.”

“Unlearned men of books assume the care,


As eunuchs are the guardians of the fair.”
LOVE OF FAME. In order to obtain some ideas in astronomy,
geography, electricity, pneumatics, &c., I attended a

I had like to have forgot to inform you that I have
few lectures given by the late eminent Mr Ferguson,

also read most of our best plays, and am so fond of
the present very ingenious Mr Walker, and others;

the theatre, that in the winter season I have often been
and for some time several gentlemen spent two or

at Drury lane or Covent garden four or five evenings
three evenings in a week at my house, for the purpose

in a week.
of improvement in science. At these meetings we

“———— There cultivate my mind

made the best use of our time with globes, telescopes,

With the soft thrillings of the tragic muse,
microscopes, electrical machines, air pumps, air guns,

Divine Melpomene, sweet pity’s nurse,
Queen of the stately step, and flowing pall. a good bottle of wine, and other philosophical
Nor let Monimia mourn with streaming eyes, instruments ——
Her joys incestuous, and polluted love:

The mention of which revives in my memory the loss

Now let soft Juliet in the gaping tomb

I sustained by the premature death of a worthy

Print the last kiss on her true Romeo’s lips,
philosophical friend, whom you have met when you

His lips yet reeking from the deadly draught.
Or Jaffier kneel for one forgiving look. occasionally did us the honour of making one of the
Nor seldom let the Moor on Desdemona evening party, and benefiting us by your instructions.

Pour the misguided threats of jealous rage. I could say much in his praise, but shall forbear, as
By soft degrees the manly torrent steals another friend, who was also one of this (I may truly From my swoln eyes, and at a brother’s woe


branch of trade it is next to impossible for me to have And yet, at last, what little fruit he gains —
any formidable rivals, as it requires an uncommon A beggar’s harvest glean’d with mighty pains!”

branch of trade it is next to impossible for me to have And yet, at last, what little fruit he gains —
any formidable rivals, as it requires an uncommon A beggar’s harvest glean’d with mighty pains!”

enlarging my business every year, and the more it is learned and foreign languages. Many have thought extended the cheaper I can afford to sell; so that that from the

beginning I always kept shopmen to though I may be pursued, I cannot be overtaken, furnish me with instructions necessary to carry on my

except I should (as some others have done) be so business; but you and all my old friends and infatuated and blinded by prosperity, as to think that acquaintances well

know that not to have been the the public would continue their favours, even though case, as for the first thirteen years after I became a the plan of business were

reversed. But as the first bookseller I never had one shopman who knew king of Bohemia kept his country shoes by him, to anything of the worth of books, or how to write

a remind him from whence he was taken, I have put single page of catalogue properly, much less to a motto on the doors of my carriage, constantly to compile the whole. I

always wrote them myself, so remind me to what I am indebted for my prosperity, long as my health would permit: indeed I continued

viz. the practice for years after my health was much
impaired by too constant an application to that and


reading; and when I was at last obliged to give up And I assure you, sir, that reflecting on the means by

writing them, I for several catalogues stood by and which I have been enabled to support a carriage adds

dictated to others; even to the present time I take not a little to the pleasure of riding in it. I believe I

some little part in their compilation; and as I ever did may, without being deemed censorious, assert, that

I still continue to fix the price to every book that is there are some who ride in their carriages who

sold in my shop, except such articles as are both cannot reflect on the means by which they were

bought and sold again while I am out of town. I have acquired with an equal degree of satisfaction.

now many assistants in my shop, who buy, sell, and
“If splendour charm not, yet avoid the scorn in short transact the major part of my business.
That treads on lowly stations, think of some

As to the little knowledge of literature I possess, it

Assiduous booby mounting o’er your head,
was acquired by dint of application. In the beginning

And thence with saucy grandeur looking down;
Think of (reflection’s stab!) the pitying friend, I attached myself very closely to the study of divinity
With shoulder shrugg’d, and sorry. Think that time and moral philosophy, so that I became tolerably

Has golden minutes, if discreetly seiz’d. acquainted with all the points controverted between
Riches and fame are industry’s reward. divines; after having read the great champions for The nimble runner courses fortune down,

Christianity, I next read the works of Toulmin, lord And then he banquets, for she feeds the bold.”

Herbert, Tindal, Chub, Morgan, Collins, Hammond,


Woolston, Annet, Mandeville, Shaftesbury, D’Argens,

LETTER XXXVIII Bolingbroke, Williams, Helvetius, Voltaire, and many
“Those who would learning’s glorious kingdom find, other free-thinkers. I have also read most of our
The dear-bought treasure of the trading mind, English poets, and the best translations of the Greek
From many dangers must themselves acquit, and Latin classics, and also of the Italian and French

And more than Sylla and Carybdis meet.

poets; nor did I omit to read history, voyages, travels,

Oh! what an ocean must be voyaged o’er,

natural history, biography, &c.

To gain a prospect of the shilling store!

“Survey the globe, each ruder realm explore,

Resisting rocks oppose th’ enquiring soul,

From reason’s faintest ray to Newton soar;

And adverse waves retard it as they roll.

What different spheres to human bliss assign’d!

The little knowledge now which man obtains,

What slow gradations, in the scale of mind.

From outward objects and from sense he gains;

Yet mark in each these mystic wonders wrought,

He like a wretched slave must plod and sweat,

Oh mark the sleepless energies of thought!”

By day must toil, by night that toil repeat;


Detail from a map of Somersetshire, from James Bell’s A New Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales
of 1834, with some of the places mentioned in the text highlighted


LETTER XVII As bless’d as man could be.
Clarinda, who his heart possess’d,

LETTER XVII As bless’d as man could be.
Clarinda, who his heart possess’d,

His bread in independent state,
With head reclin’d upon his breast,

Who never begs, and seldom eats,
Sat toying by his side.

Himself can fix, or change his fate.”
Palemon with a heart elate,

Pray’d to Almighty Jove,

“If you will use the little that you have,

That it might ever be his fate,

More has not heav’n to give, or you to crave;

Just so to live and love.”

Cease to complain. He never can be poor
Who has sufficient, and who wants no more. It is true, we had laid in eatables sufficient for a day
If but from cold, and pining hunger free, or two, in which time we knew we could by our
The richest monarch can but equal thee.” work procure more, which we very cheerfully set
HORACE IMITATED. about, singing together the following lines of Dr

I HAD not long resided a second time with my good
Bristol friends, before I renewed my correspondence “Our portion is not large indeed,
with my old sweetheart Nancy Smith. I informed her But then how little do we need?

For Nature’s calls are few;

that my attachment to hooks, together with travelling

In this the art of living lies:

from place to place, and also my total disregard for

To want no more than may suffice,

money, had prevented me from saving any; and that

And make that little do.”

while I remained in a single unsettled state, I was

The above, and the following ode by Mr Fitzgerald,

never likely to accumulate it. I also pressed her very

did we scores of times repeat, even with raptures!

much to come to Bristol to be married, which she

soon complied with: and married we were, at St “No glory I covet, no riches I want,
Ambition is nothing to me:

Peter’s church, towards the end of the year 1770; near

The one thing I beg of kind heaven to grant,

seven years after my first making love to her.

Is, a mind independent and free.

“When join’d in band and heart, to church we went,

By passion unruffled, untainted by pride,

Mutual in vows, and pris’ners by consent.

By reason my life let me square;

My Nancy’s heart beat high, with mix’d alarms,

The wants of my nature are cheaply supplied,

But trembling beauty glow’d with double charms:

And the rest are but folly and care.

In her soft breast a modest struggle rose,

Those blessings which Providence kindly has lent,

How she should seem to like the lot she chose:

I’ll justly and gratefully prize;

A smile she thought would dress her looks too gay;

While sweet meditation and cheerful content,

A frown might seem too sad, and blast the day.

Shall make me both healthy and wise.

But while nor this, nor that, her will could bow,

In the pleasures the great man’s possessions display,

She walk’d, and look’d, and charm’d, and knew not

Unenvied I’ll challenge my part;


For every fair object my eyes can survey,

Our hands at length th’ unchanging fiat bound,

Contributes to gladden my heart.

And our glad souls sprung out to meet the sound.

How vainly thro’ infinite trouble and strife,

Joys meeting joys unite, and stronger shine;

The many their labours employ;

For passion purified is half divine:

When all that is truly delightful in life.

Now NANCY thou art mine, I cried — and she

Is what all, if they will, may enjoy.”

Sigh’d soft — now JEMMY thou art lord of me!”

After having worked on stuff-work in the country,

I could not bear the idea of returning to the leather We kept our wedding at the house of my friends the

branch, so that I attempted and obtained a seat of Messrs Jones’s, and at bed-time retired to ready

stuff in Bristol. But better work being required there

furnished lodgings, which we had before provided,

than in Kingsbridge, &c., I was obliged to take so at half-a-crown per week. Our finances were but just

much care to please my master, that at first I could

sufficient to pay the expenses of the day, for the next

not get more than nine shillings a-week, and my wife morning, in searching our pockets (which we did not

could get but very little, as she was learning to binddo in a careless manner) we discovered that we had

stuff-shoes, and had never been much used to her

but one halfpenny to begin the world with. But—

needle; so that what with the expense of ready

“The hearth was clean, the fire clear, furnished lodging, fire, candles, &c., we had but little The kettle on for tea;

left for purchasing provisions.
Palemon, in his elbow chair,


How happy should I have deemed myself in the Not to mention those purchased of authors, and
earlier stage of my life, if I could have met with the town and country booksellers, by private contract,
opportunity which every one capable of reading may &c., to a very considerable amount. My expenses
now enjoy, of obtaining books at so easy a rate: had were also exceedingly increased by the necessity I was
that been the case, the catalogue of my juvenile under of keeping each article in a variety of different
library, with which I presented you in a former letter, kinds of bindings, to suit the various tastes of my
would have made a more respectable appearance, customers: besides paying my bills for the above, I
and I might possibly have been enabled when I was always obliged to find ready money to pay for
purchased Young’s ‘Night Thoughts’ for a Christmas libraries and parcels of second-hand books, which
dinner, to have at the same time bought a joint of after a while poured in upon me from town and
meat, and thus enjoyed both a mental and corporeal country; so that I often look back with astonishment
feast, as well as pleased my wife, (which I need not at my courage (or temerity, if you please) in purchasing,
inform you the ladies say every good husband ought and my wonderful success in taking money sufficient
to do.) But after all, quere, whether if I had enjoyed to pay the extensive demands that were perpetually
such an advantage, should I ever have thought of made upon me, as there is not another instance of
commencing bookseller? If not, should I have been success so rapid and constant under such
the great man I now feel myself, and hope you circumstances. Some indeed there have been, who
acknowledge me to be? for two or three years purchased away very fast, but
could not persevere, as they were unable to sell with


equal rapidity: for no one that has not a quick sale can

“Books, of all earthly things my chief delight;

possibly succeed with large numbers. For, supposing

My exercise by day, and dreams by night;

that a bookseller expends a thousand pounds in the

Dispassion’d masters, friends without deceit,
purchase of four articles (I have often done that in

Who flatter not; companions ever sweet;

With whom I’m always cheerful, from whom rise, only one article) and these are bought at a quarter the

Improv’d and better, if not good and wise, usual price, the interest of the money is fifty pounds

Grave, faithful counsellors, who all excite, a year; besides which some allowance must be made

Instruct and strengthen to behave aright; for warehouse room, insurance from fire, &c., so

Admonish us, when fortune makes her court,

that granting he might sell a few of each article every

And, when she’s absent, solace and support.

year at four times the price he first paid for them, yet

Happy the man to whom ye are well known,

if he does not sell enough to pay the interest and other

‘Tis his own fault if ever he’s alone.”

expenses of those that remain, he is, after all, on the


losing side; which has been the case with the major ALTHOUGH the result of the plan which I adopted

part of such as have purchased a large number of one for reducing the price of books, as mentioned in my

book; and I have known many instances of last, was a vast increase of purchasers, yet at the same booksellers purchasing articles at a quarter the price,
time I found a prodigious accumulation of my

and selling them at the full price, and yet have not had expenses, which will not appear strange, when I

two per cent. for their money.
inform you, that I made proportionably large

For several years together I thought I should be

purchases, such as two hundred copies of one book,

obliged to desist from purchasing a large number of

three hundred of another, five hundred of a third, a

any one article, for although by not giving any credit

thousand of a fourth, two thousand of a fifth, nay,

I was enabled to sell very cheap, yet the heavy stock

sometimes I have purchased six thousand copies of

of books in sheets often disheartened me, so that I

one book, and at one time I actually had no less than

more than once resolved to leave off purchasing all

ten thousand copies of Watts’s Psalms, and the same

such articles where the number was very large. But,

number of his Hymns, in my possession. In addition

somehow or other, a torrent of business suddenly

to these I purchased very large numbers of many

poured in upon me on all sides, so that I very soon

thousand different articles at trade sales of all sorts,

forgot my resolution of not making large purchases,

as bankrupt sales, sales of such as had retired from

and now find my account in firmly adhering to that

business, others caused by the death of booksellers,

method; and being universally known for making

sales to reduce large stocks, annual sales, &c. That you

large purchases, most of the trade in town and

may form some idea, I must inform you that at one

country, and also authors of every description, are

of the above sales I have purchased books to the

continually furnishing me with opportunities. In this

amount of five thousand pounds in one afternoon.


LETTER XXXV. mine; and by a variety of pitiful insinuations and dark

LETTER XXXV. mine; and by a variety of pitiful insinuations and dark

Ascribes his gettings to his parts and merit.” I had already acquired with the public, determined

POPE. (as they wisely concluded) thus to effect my ruin;

“Weak truth cannot your reputation save, which indeed they daily prognosticated, with a

The knaves will all agree to call you knave: demon-like spirit, must inevitably very speedily follow.

Wrong’d shall he live, insulted o’er, opprest, This conduct however was far from intimidating

Who dares be less a villain than the rest.”

me, as the effect proved directly opposite to what SATIRE AGAINST MAN.

they wished for and expected, and I found the
WHEN I was first initiated into the various respect and confidence of the public continually
manoeuvres practised by booksellers, I found it increasing, which added very considerably to the
customary among them, (which practice still number of my customers: it being an unquestionable
continues,) that when any books had not gone off so fact that, before I adopted this plan, great numbers
rapidly as expected, or so fast as to pay for keeping of persons were very desirous of possessing some
them in store, they would put what remained of such particular books, for which however (from various
articles into private sales, where only booksellers are motives) they were not inclined to pay the original
admitted, and of them only such as were invited by price; as some availed themselves of the opportunity
having a catalogue sent them. At one of these sales, of borrowing from a friend, or from a circulating
I have frequently seen seventy or eighty thousand library, or having once read them, though they held
volumes sold after dinner, including books of every the works in esteem, might deem them too dear to
description, good, bad, and indifferent; by this means purchase; or they might have a copy by them, which
they were distributed through the trade. from their own and family’s frequent use (or lending

to friends) might not be in so good a condition as

When first invited to these trade sales, I was very

they could wish, though rather than purchase them

much surprised to learn that it was common for such

again at the full price they would keep those they had;

as purchased remainders to destroy one half or three

or again, they might be desirous to purchase them to

fourths of such books, and to charge the full

make presents of, or they might have a commission

publication price, or nearly that, for such as they kept

from a correspondent in the country, or abroad, and

on hand; and there was a kind of standing order

wish to gain a small profit on the articles for their

amongst the trade, that, in case any one was known

trouble, not to mention the great numbers that

to sell articles under the publication price, such a

would have been given to the poor.

person was to be excluded from trade sales; so blind
were copyrightholders to their own interest. Thousands of others have been effectually prevented

from purchasing, (though anxious so to do) whose

For a short time I cautiously complied with this

circumstances in life would not permit them to pay

custom; but I soon began to reflect that many of

the full price, and thus were totally excluded from the

these books so destroyed possessed much merit, and

advantage of improving their understandings, and

only wanted to be better known; and that if others

enjoying a rational entertainment. And you may be

were not worth six shillings they were worth three, or

assured that it affords me the most pleasing

two, and so in proportion, for higher or lower-

satisfaction, independent of the emoluments which

priced books.

have accrued to me from this plan, when I reflect
From that time I resolved not to destroy any books what prodigious numbers in inferior or reduced
that were worth saving, but to sell them off at half, situations of life have been essentially benefited in
or a quarter, of the publication prices. By selling them consequence of being thus enabled to indulge their
in this cheap manner I have disposed of many natural propensity for the acquisition of knowledge
hundred thousand volumes, many thousands of on easy terms: nay, I could almost be vain enough to
which have been intrinsically worth their original assert, that I have thereby been highly instrumental in
prices. This part of my conduct, however, though diffusing that general desire for reading now so
evidently highly beneficial to the community, and prevalent among the inferior orders of society,
even to booksellers, created me many enemies among which most certainly, though it may not prove
the trade; some of the meaner part of whom, instead equally instructive to all, keeps them from employing
of employing their time and abilities in attending to their time and money, if not to bad, at least to less
the increase of their own business aimed at reducing rational purposes.


To increase our straits, my old friend being somewhat measure become burthensome to her. We had in
displeased at our leaving him and his relations, took cash two shillings and nine-pence, half-a-crown of
an early opportunity to tell me that I was indebted to which we had carefully locked up in a box, to be
him near forty shillings, of two years standing. It is saved as a resource on any extraordinary emergence.
more dishonourable (says Rochefoucault) to distrust This money supported us two or three days, in which
our friends, than to be deceived by them. I was not time I recovered without the help of medicine: but
convinced of the justice of the claim, but to avoid my wife continued ill near six months, and was
dispute I paid him in about two months. confined to her bed the greatest part of the time;

“But if friends prove unfaithful, and fortune’s a w—e, which illness may very easily be accounted for.

Still may I be virtuous, although I am poor.”

Before she came to Bristol, she had ever been used

to a very active life, and had always lived in the
During nearly the whole of which time it was country, so that in coming to dwell in a populous city,
extremely severe weather, and yet we made four she had exchanged much exercise and good air for
shillings and sixpence per week pay for the whole of a sedentary life and very bad air; and this I presume
what we consumed in eating and drinking. Strong was the cause of all her illness from time to time,
beer we had none, nor any other liquor, (the pure which at length, as unfortunately as effectually,
element excepted), and instead of tea, or rather undermined her constitution. During her first six
coffee, we toasted a piece of bread; at other times we months’ illness, I lived many days solely on water-
fried some wheat, which when boiled in water made gruel. “What nature requires, (says Montaigne), is so
a tolerable substitute for coffee; and as to animal small a matter, that by its littleness it escapes the gripes
food we made use of but little, and that little we of fortune;” for as I could not afford to pay a nurse,
boiled and made broth of. much of my time was taken up in attendance on her,
“The recollection of past toils is sweet.” and most of my money expended in procuring
EURIPIDES. medicines, together with such trifles as she could eat
and drink. But what added extremely to my calamity

During the whole of this time we never once wished

was the being within the hearing of her groans, which

for anything that we had not got, but were quite

were caused by the excruciating pains in her head,

contented, and with a good grace, in reality made a

which for months together defied the power of

virtue of necessity. We


“Trembled not with vain desires,

Few the things which life requires.” It is impossible for words to describe the keenness

FRANCIS’S Horace. of my sensations during this long term; yet as to

myself, my poverty and being obliged to live upon

And the subject of our prayer was,
water-gruel gave me not the least uneasiness.

“This day be bread and peace our lot,
All else beneath the sun, “In ruffling seasons I was calm,
And smil’d when fortune frown’d.” YOUNG.

Thou know’st if best bestow’d or not,

And let thy will be done.” But the necessity of being continually in the sight and
LETTER XVIII. hearing of a beloved object, a young, charming,

“To temper thus the stronger fires handsome, innocent wife—

Of youth he strove, for well he knew, “Who sick in bed lay gasping for her breath;

Boundless as thought tho’ man’s desires, Her eyes, like dying lamps, sunk in their sockets,

The real wants of life are few.” Now glar’d, and now drew back their feeble light:

CARTWRIGHT. Faintly her speech fell from her fault’ring tongue

“In adverse hours an equal mind maintain.” In interrupted accents, as she strove

FRANCIS’S Horace. With strong agonies that shook her limbs

And writh’d her tortur’d features into forms

IN a few days after we had paid the last five shillings

Hideous to sight.”

of the debt claimed by my friend Mr Jones, we were

BELLER’S Injured Innocence.
both together taken so ill as to be confined to our

How I supported this long dreary scene I know not;

bed, but the good woman of the house, our landlady,

the bare recollection of which is exceedingly painful,

came to our room and did a few trifles for us. She

even at this distance of time.

seemed very much alarmed at our situation, or rather
for her own, I suppose, as thinking we might in some


“Lo, from amidst affliction’s night This holy brother was also a journeyman shoemaker,
Hope burst all radiant on the sight; who had arrived at the summit of his expectations,
Her words the troubled bosom soothe.

“Lo, from amidst affliction’s night This holy brother was also a journeyman shoemaker,
Hope burst all radiant on the sight; who had arrived at the summit of his expectations,
Her words the troubled bosom soothe.

to express himself,) that is, by letting nearly the whole

Hope ne’er is wanting to their aid,

of it out in lodgings, he was enabled to pay the rent.

Who tread the path of truth.

This house was in White-cross street, which I found

‘Tis I, who smooth the rugged way,

out the morning after my arrival, where I procured

I, who close the eyes of sorrow,
a lodging, and Mr Heath, in Fore street, supplied me

And with glad visions of tomorrow,
Repair the weary soul’s decay.” with plenty of work.
BEATTIE’S Ode to Hope. “I laugh’d then and whistled, and sang too most

At last, when everything that seemed to promise

Saying, just to a hair I’ve made both ends meet.

relief had been tried in vain, some old woman

Derry down.”

recommended cephalic snuff. I own I had not much


faith in it; however, I procured it, and in a short time
“I’ll travel no more — I’ll try a London audience —

after she was much relieved from the intolerable pain

Who knows but I may get an engagement?”

in her head, but yet continued in a very bad state of


health; her constitution having suffered such a dreadful

“When superstition (bane of manly virtues!)

shock, I thought that no means could be used so

Strikes root within the soul, it overruns

likely to restore it, as a removal to her native air.

And kills the power of reason.”

Accordingly I left my seat of work at Bristol, and

PHILLIP’S Duke of Gloucester.
returned with her to Taunton, which is about seven
AT this time I was as visionary and superstitious as

miles from Petherton, her native place. But in Taunton
ever I had been at any proceeding period, for

I could not procure so much work as I could do; so
although I had read some sensible books, and had

that as soon as I thought she could bear the air of
thereby acquired a few rational ideas, yet, having had

Bristol we returned thither, where she soon relapsed,
a methodistical wife for near three years, and my

and we again went back to Taunton. This removing
keeping methodistical company, together with the

to Taunton was repeated about five times in little
gloomy notions which in spite of reason and

more than two years and a half.
philosophy I had imbibed during the frequent, long,

“Of chance or change, O let not man complain,

and indeed almost constant illness of my wife, the

Else shall he never cease to wail!
consequence was, that those few rational or liberal

For, from the imperial dome, to where the swain
Rears the lone cottage in the silent dale, ideas which I had before treasured up, were at my
All feel th’ assault of fortune’s fickle gale.” coming to London in a dormant state, or borne
MINSTREL. down by the torrent of enthusiastic whims, and
fanatical chimeras.

But at last, finding that she had long fits of illness at

Taunton also, as well as at Bristol, with a view of ———— “Oh! what a reasonless machine
Can superstition make the reas’ner man!”

having a better price for my work I resolved to visit
MALLET’S Mahomet.

London; and, as I had not money sufficient to bear
the expenses of both to town, I left her all the money So that as soon as I procured a lodging and work, my
I could spare, and took a place on the outside of the next enquiry was for Mr Wesley’s gospel-shops: and
stage coach, and the second day arrived at the on producing my class and band tickets from Taunton
metropolis, in August 1773, with two shillings and I was put into a class, and a week or two after
sixpence in my pocket, and recollecting the address admitted into a band.
of an old townsman, who was also a spiritual

But it was several weeks before I could firmly resolve


to continue in London; as I really was struck with “Whose hair in greasy locks hung down,

horror for the fate of it, more particularly on Sundays,

As strait as candles from the crown,

as I found so few went to church, and so many were

To shade the borders of his face,

walking and riding about for pleasure, and the lower

Whose outward signs of inward grace

class getting drunk, quarrelling, fighting, working,

Were only visible in spiteful
buying, selling, &c. I had seen so much of the same

Grimaces, very stern and frightful.”
BUTLER’S Posth. Works. kind in Bristol, that I often wondered how God

permitted it to stand; but London I found infinitely


“To Malice, sure, I’m much oblig’d, I believe no one ever knew or heard of a covetous
On every side by Calumny besieg’d; man that would sell his goods cheap: but every one Yet Envy I could almost call thee friend.”

has heard of such characters selling very dear; and
So that whether I am righteous or not, all these when a covetous person makes a purchase, is it likely
afflictions have worked together for my good. But, that he should offer a generous price? Is he not when
I assure you, that my temporal salvation was not buying, influenced by the same avaricious disposition
effected without “conditions.” As every envious as when selling? And, on the other hand, I cannot help
transaction was to me an additional spur to exertion, thinking (I am aware of the inference) that one who
I am therefore not a little indebted to Messrs Envy, has been constantly selling cheap for a series of years
Detraction, and Co., for my present prosperity; must possess some degree of generosity: that this
though I assure you this is the only debt I am disposition has prevailed in me when I have been
determined not to pay. Green says, called to purchase, and when libraries or parcels of
“Happy the man who innocent, books have been sent to me, thousands in the three
Grieves not at ills he can’t prevent: kingdoms can witness. And, however paradoxical it
And when he can’t prevent foul play, may appear, I will add, that I can afford to give more
Enjoys the follies of the fray.” SPLEEN. for books now, than I could if I sold them much
LETTER XXXIV. dearer. For, were I to sell them dear, I should be ten
“Constant at shop and ‘Change, his gains were sure: times longer in selling them; and the expenses for

His givings rare; save halfpence to the poor.” warehouse room, insurance from fire, together with
IN the first three years after I refused to give credit the interest of the money lying long in a dead stock,
to any person, my business increased much, and as would prevent my giving a large price when books
the whole of my profit (after paying all expenses) was were offered for sale.
laid out in books, my stock was continually enlarged,

But it did not appear in this point of view to the so that my catalogues in the year seventeen hundred

public in the more early stages of my business, until and eighty-four were very much augmented in size.

being often sent for after other booksellers had The first contained twelve thousand, and the second

made offers for libraries, and finding that I would thirty thousand volumes: this increase was not merely

give more than they had offered, it was communicated in numbers, but also in value, as a very great part of

from one to another until it became publicly known:
these volumes was better, that is, books of a higher

and the following method, which I adopted some price. But notwithstanding the great increase of my

years since, has put the matter beyond the shadow ofbusiness, I still met with many difficulties on account

a doubt:
of my selling books cheap; one of these, I confess, I
When I am called upon to purchase any library or

did not foresee: as the more convinced the public
parcel of books, either myself or my assistants

were of my acting strictly conformable to the plan I
carefully examine them, and if desired to fix a price,

had adopted, the more this objection gained ground,
I mention at a word the utmost that I will give for

and even to this day is not entirely done away. This
them, which I always take care shall be as much as any

difficulty was, in making private purchases of libraries
bookseller can afford to give: but if the seller entertains

and parcels of books, many of my customers for
any doubts respecting the price offered, and chooses

several years had no objection to buying of me
to try other booksellers, he pays me five per cent. for

because I sold cheap; but were not equally inclined to
valuing the books; and as he knows what I have

sell me such books as they had no use for, or libraries
valued them at, he tries among the trade, and when

that were left them at the death of relations, &c. They
he finds that he cannot get any greater sum offered,

reasoned (very plausibly, it must be confessed) thus:
on returning to me he not only receives the price I at

“Lackington sells very cheap; he therefore will not
first offered, but also a return of the five per cent.

give much for what is offered him for sale. I will go
which was paid me for the valuation.

to those who sell very dear; as the more they sell their
books for, the more they can afford to give for But to such as fix a price on their own books I make them.” no charge (if in, or very near town), either taking them
at the price at which they are offered to me, or, if that

This mode of reasoning, however specious it seems
appear too much, immediately declining the purchase.

at first, will on due reflection appear nugatory and
erroneous, for the following reasons: This equitable mode I have the pleasure to find has
given the public the utmost satisfaction.


LETTER XXXIII. found it difficult to remit small sums that were under
“There is a tide in the affairs of men, bankers’ notes, (which difficulty is now done away,
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; as all post-masters receive small sums of money, and
Omitted, all the voyage of their life give drafts for the same on the post-office in London;)
Is bound in shallows and in miseries: and others to whom I was a stranger, did not like to

LETTER XXXIII. found it difficult to remit small sums that were under
“There is a tide in the affairs of men, bankers’ notes, (which difficulty is now done away,
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; as all post-masters receive small sums of money, and
Omitted, all the voyage of their life give drafts for the same on the post-office in London;)
Is bound in shallows and in miseries: and others to whom I was a stranger, did not like to

send the money first, as not knowing how I should

And we must take the current when it serves,

treat them, and suspecting by the price of the articles,

Or lose our ventures.”

there must certainly be some deception. Many

SHAKSPEARE’S Julius Cesar.

unacquainted with my plan of business, were much IT was some time in the year seventeen hundred and offended, until the advantages accruing to them eighty, when I

resolved from that period to give no from it were duly explained, when they very readily

person whatever any credit. I was induced to make acceded to it. As to the anger of such, who though this resolution from various motives: I had observed, they were

acquainted with it, were still determined to that where credit was given, most bills were not paid deal on credit only, I considered that as of little

within six months, many not within a twelvemonth, consequence, from an opinion that some of them and some not within two years. Indeed, many would have been as much

enraged when their bills tradesmen have accounts of seven years’ standing; were sent in, had credit been given them.
and some bills are never paid. The losses sustained by

I had also difficulties of another nature to encounter;

the interest of money in long credits, and by those

when first I began to sell very cheap, many came to

bills that were not paid at all; the inconveniences

my shop prepossessed against my goods, and of

attending not having the ready money to lay out in

course often saw faults where none existed; so that

trade to the best advantage, together with the great

the best editions were merely from prejudice deemed

loss of time in keeping accounts, and collecting debts,

very bad editions, and the best bindings said to be

convinced me, that if I could but establish a ready-

inferior workmanship, for no other reason but

money business, without any exceptions, I should be

because I sold them so cheap; and I often received

enabled to sell every article very cheap.

letters from the country, to know if such and such

“Let all the learn’d say all they can,

articles were really as I stated them in my catalogues,

‘Tis ready money makes the man.”

and if they really were the best editions; if really in calf;

When I communicated my ideas on this subject to

and really elegantly bound; with many other reallys.

some of my acquaintances, I was much laughed at

Oh, my friend! I really was afraid for some years that

and ridiculed; and it was thought that I might as well

I should be really mad with vexation. But these letters

attempt to rebuild the tower of Babel, as to establish

of reallys have for years happily ceased, and the

a large business without giving credit. But,

public are now really and thoroughly convinced that

notwithstanding this discouragement, and even you,

I will not assert in my catalogues what is not really

my dear friend, expressing your doubts of the

true. But imagine, if you can, what I must have felt,

practicability of my scheme, I determined to make

on hearing the very best of goods depreciated, on no

the experiment; and began by plainly marking in

other account whatever, but because they were not

every book facing the title the lowest price that I

charged at a higher price!

would take for it; which being much lower than the
common market prices, I not only retained my It is also worth observing, that there were not
wanting among the booksellers, some who were

former customers, but soon increased their numbers.
But, my dear sir, you can scarce imagine what mean enough to assert that all my books were bound
in sheep; and many other unmanly artifices were

difficulties I encountered for several years together.
I even sometimes thought of relinquishing this my practised; all of which so far from injuring me, as

favourite scheme altogether, as by it I was obliged to basely intended, turned to my account; for when
gentlemen were brought to my shop by their friends,

deny credit to my very acquaintance; I was also under
a necessity of refusing it to the most respectable to purchase some trifling article, or were led into it by
curiosity, they were often very much surprised to see

characters, as no exception was or now is made, not
even in favour of nobility; my porters being strictly many thousands of volumes in elegant and superb
enjoined, by one general order, to bring back all bindings. The natural conclusion was, that if I had not
held forth to the public better terms than others, I

books not previously paid for, except they receive
the amount on delivery. Again, many in the country should not have been so much envied and


worse, and seriously trembled for fear the measure word he would oblige me with it for five-and twenty
of iniquity was quite full, and that every hour would shillings, which was the very money that it cost him.
be its last. However, I at length concluded, that if On hearing this I crossed the shop in a trice, in order
London was a second Sodom, I was a second Lot; to set off home again, but the door had a fastening
and these comfortable ideas reconciled me to the to it beyond my comprehension, nor would the
thoughts of living in it. good man let me out before I had made him an
“I said, it was a wretched place, offer. I told him I had so little money about me that
Unfit for any child of grace; I could not offer anything, and again desired that he
‘Tis ripe for judgment: Satan’s seat, would let me out. But he persisted, and at last I told
The sink of sin, and hell complete; him that my landlord had informed me that he had

In ev’ry street of trulls a troop,

purchased such another coat for ten shillings and And ev’ry cook-maid wears a hoop.”

sixpence; on which he began to give himself airs, and


assured me that, however some people came by their
And some of Mr Wesley’s people gave me great goods, for his part, he always paid for his. I heartily
comfort by assuring me, that “the Lord had much wished myself out of the shop, but in vain, as he
people in this city:” which I soon discovered to be seemed determined not to part with me until I had
true, as I got acquainted with many of those righteous, made some offer. I then told him that I had but ten
chosen saints, who modestly arrogate to themselves shillings and sixpence, and of course could not offer
that they are the peculiar favourites of heaven, and him any more than I had got. I now expected more
consequently that any place they reside in must be abuse from him, but instead of that the patient good
safe! man told me, that as he perhaps might get something

by me another time, I should have the coat for my

In a month I saved money sufficient to bring up my

half-guinea, although it was worth more than double

wife, and she had a tolerable state of health; of my

the money.

master I obtained some stuff-shoes for her to bind,
and nearly as much as she could do. Having now About the end of November I received an account
plenty of work and higher wages, we were tolerably of the death of my grandfather.
easy in our circumstances, more so than ever we had “The good old gentleman expir’d,
been, so that we soon procured a few clothes. My And decently to heav’n retir’d.”
wife had all her life before done very well with a

I was also informed that he had left a will in favour
superfine broad cloth cloak, but now I prevailed on

of my grandmother-in-law’s relations, who became her to have one of silk.

possessed of all his effects, except a small freehold
Until this winter I had never found out that I wanted estate, which he left to my youngest brother, because
a great coat, but now I made that important discovery. he happened to be called George, (which was the

name of my grandfather,) and ten pounds a-piece to

“A winter garment now demands your care,
each of his other grand-children.

To guard the body from the inclement air;

Soft be the inward vest, the outward strong,

So totally unacquainted was I with the modes of

And large to wrap you warm, down reaching long.”

transacting business, that I could not point out any

COOKE’S Hesiod.

method of having my ten pounds sent up to London,
My landlord shewed me one made of a coarse kind at least, no mode that the executor of the will would
of Bath-coating, which he purchased new at a shop approve of; it being such a prodigious sum, that the
in Rosemary lane, for ten shillings and sixpence; so greatest caution was used on both sides; so that it cost
that the next half-guinea I had to spare, away I went me about half the money in going down for it and
to Rosemary lane, and (to my great surprise,) was in returning to town again. This was in extremely
hauled into a shop by a fellow who was walking up hard frosty weather, (I think some time in December,)
and down before the door of a slopseller, where I and being on the outside of a stagecoach, I was so
was soon fitted with a great-coat of the same sort as very cold, that when I came to the inn where the
that of my landlord. I asked the price; but how great passengers dined, I went directly to the fire, which
was my astonishment, when the honest shopman struck the cold inward, so that I had but a very
told me, that he was so taken with my clean, honest, narrow escape from instant death. This happened in
industrious looks, that he would let me have it going down. In returning back to town I had other
cheaper than he would his own brother, so in one misfortunes to encounter. The cold weather still


continuing, I thought the basket warmer than the Here perhaps I may with great propriety quote the
roof, and about six miles from Salisbury, I went back following lines of Gray:
into it. But on getting out of it, in the inn yard at
continuing, I thought the basket warmer than the Here perhaps I may with great propriety quote the
roof, and about six miles from Salisbury, I went back following lines of Gray:
into it. But on getting out of it, in the inn yard at
Salisbury, I heard some money jingle and on searching Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
my pockets, I discovered that I had lost about sixteen Nor grandeur hear with a disdainful smile.
shillings, two or three of which I found in the basket, The short and simple annals of the poor.”
the rest had fallen through on the road; and no doubt LETTER XX.
the whole of what I had left of my ten pounds would “Thus dwelt poor ——, of few goods possest,
have gone the same way, had I not (for fear of A bed, board, tankard, and six cups at best:
highwaymen) sewed it up in my clothes. I recollected Item, Wesley’s head, old books, and rotten chest;
that Seneca had said, “A wise and good man is proof His bed was scant, for his short wife too short;

His cups were earthen, all of smaller sort.”

against all accidents of fate; and that a brave man is
OWEN’S Juvenal.

a match for fortune;” and knowing myself to be
“Fixt in an elbow chair at ease,

both wise, good, and brave, I bore the loss of my
I choose companions as I please.”

silver with the temper of a Stoic; and, like Epictetus,


reasoned, that I could not have lost it if I had not first

“Hail, precious pages I that amuse and teach,

had it; and that as I had lost it, why it was all the same

Exalt the genius, and improve the breast.

as though it had never been in my possession.

A feast for ages. Oh thou banquet nice!
But a more dreadful misfortune befell me the next Where the soul riots with secure excess.
morning; the extreme severe weather still continuing, What heartfelt bliss! What pleasure-winged hours!”


in order to keep me from dying with cold, I drank
some purl and gin, which (not being used to drink WITH the remainder of the money we purchased anything strong) made me so drunk, that the coachman household goods; but

as we then had not sufficient put me inside the carriage for fear I should fall off the to furnish a room, we worked hard, and lived still
roof. I there met with some of the jovial sort, who harder, so that in a short time we had a room
had also drunk to keep out the cold, so that I found furnished with our own goods; and I believe that it

them in high glee: being asked to sing them a song, is not possible for you to imagine with what pleasure I immediately complied, and, forgetting that I was and

satisfaction we looked round the room and
one of the holy brethren, I sung song for song with surveyed our property: I believe that Alexander the the merriest of them; only several times between the Great never

reflected on his immense acquisitions

acts, I turned up the whites of my eyes, and uttered with half the heartfelt enjoyment which we experienced a few ejaculations, as “Lord forgive me!” “Oh on this

capital attainment.
Christ! what am I doing?” and a few more of the

“How happy is the man whose early lot,
same pious sort.

Hath made him master of a furnish’d cot!”
“The veriest hermit in the nation,

After our room was furnished, as we still enjoyed a May yield, God knows, to strong temptation.”

better state of health than we did at Bristol and


Taunton, and had also more work and higher wages,
However, after eating a good dinner, and refraining we often added something or other to our stock of
from liquor, I became nearly sober, and by the time wearing apparel.
I arrived in town, quite so; though in a terrible

“Industrious habits in each bosom reign,
agitation of mind, by reflecting on what I had done; And industry begets a love of gain,
and was so ashamed of the affair, that I concealed it Hence all the good from opulence that springs.”
from my wife, that I might not grieve her righteous GOLDSMITH.
soul with the knowledge of so dreadful a fall: so that

Nor did I forget the old book-shops: but frequently

she with great pleasure ripped open the places in my

added an old book to my small collection; and I

clothes, which contained my treasure, and with a

really have often purchased books with the money

heart full of gratitude, piously thanked Providence

that should have been expended in purchasing

for affording us such a supply, and hoped that the

something to eat; a striking instance of which follows:

Lord would enable us to make a good use of it.
At the time we were purchasing household goods

“Whatever can good or ill befall,

we kept ourselves very short of money, and on

Faithful partner she of all.”
WESLEY’S Melissa. Christmas eve we had but half-a-crown left to buy


alchymical books, printed above a century ago, many 1780. He appointed the twentieth of May following.
of them in bad condition, this led him to insert neat On that day we accordingly dissolved the partnership;
in the catalogue to many articles, which were only and, as he had more money in the trade than myself,
neat when compared with such as were in very bad he took my notes for what I was deficient, which was
condition; so that when we produced such books as a great favour done to me. We parted in great
were called neat in our catalogue, we often got friendship, which continued to the day of his death;
ourselves laughed at, and sometimes our neat articles he generally called every morning to see us, and learn
were heartily damned. We had also a deal of trouble our concerns, and we constantly informed him of all
on another score: Mr Dennis inserted a number of that had passed the preceding day; as how much cash
articles without the authors’ names, and assured me we had taken, what were the profits, what purchases
that the books were well known, and to mention the we had made, what bills we had to pay, &c., and he
authors was often useless. The fact was, Mr Dennis sometimes lent me money to help to pay them.
knew who wrote those articles; but was soon

At his death he left behind him in his private library

convinced that many others did not, as we were

the best collection of scarce valuable mystical and

often obliged to produce them merely to let our

alchymical books that ever was collected by one

customers see who were the authors. We however

person. In his lifetime he prized these kind of books

took twenty pounds the first week the books were

above everything; in collecting them he never cared

on sale, which we thought a large sum. The increase

what price he paid for them. This led him to think,

of our stock augmented our customers in proportion,

after he became a bookseller, that other book-

so that Mr Dennis, finding that his money turned to

collectors should pay their money as freely as he had

a better account in bookselling than in the funds, very

done his, which was often a subject of debate

soon lent the stock near two hundred pounds, which

between him and me, as I was for selling everything

I still turned to a good account. We went on very

cheap, in order to secure those customers already

friendly and prosperously for little more than two

obtained, as well as increase their numbers.

years; when one night Mr Dennis hinted that he
thought I was making purchases too fast, on which In Selden’s Table Talk is the following odd passage:
I grew warm, and reminded him of an article in our “The giving a bookseller his price for his books has
partnership agreement, by which I was to be sole this advantage: he that will do so shall have the refusal

purchaser, and was at liberty to make what purchases of whatsoever comes to his hand, and so by that
I should judge proper. I also reminded him of the means get many things which otherwise he never
profits which my purchases produced, and he should have seen.” He adds, “So it is in giving a bawd
reminded me of his having more money in the trade her own price.” But I hope he did not mean to
than I had. We were indeed both very warm; and on compare the booksellers to old bawds. Different
my saying, that if he was displeased with any part of professions are oddly jumbled together in the
my conduct, he was at liberty to quit the partnership, following lines:
he in great warmth replied that he would. The above “No surgeon will extract a tooth,
passed at Mr Dennis’s house in Hoxton square; I then No strumpet exercise her trade,
bade him good night. When Mr Dennis called at the No parson preach eternal truth,
shop the next day, he asked me if I continued in the Where not a sixpence can be made.”
same mind I was in the preceding night? I assured Mr Dennis was, at the time of his death, about fifty
him that I did. He then demanded of me whether I years of age. He informed me that in his childhood
insisted on his keeping his word to quit the partnership? and youth he was weakly to an extreme, so that no
I replied, I did not insist on it, as I had taken him a one who knew him ever thought he could live to be
partner for three years, nearly one third part of which twenty years of age; however, he enjoyed an
time was unexpired; but I added, that as I had always uninterrupted state of health for nearly the last forty
found him strictly a man of his word, I supposed he years of his life; this he ascribed to his strictly adhering
would prove himself so in the present instance, and to the rules laid down by Cornaro and Tryon in their
not assert one thing at night and another in the books on Health, Long Life, and Happiness. His
morning. On which he observed, that as he was not unexpected death was in consequence of a fever
provided with a shop, he must take some time to caught by sitting in a cold damp room.
look for one. I told him that he might take as long a “O’er the sad reliques of each friend sincere,
time as he thought necessary. This was in March The happiest mortal, sure, may spare a tear.”


As zeal a pestilent disease, where I kept books, and could readily get any article
To charity and peace.” BUTLER’S Remains. that was asked for. Accordingly, when I was out on
So that for a long time I was constantly teased with business my shop was well attended. This constant
their impertinent nonsense. I believe that never was attention and good usage procured me many
a poor devil so plagued. customers, and I soon perceived that I could sell
As zeal a pestilent disease, where I kept books, and could readily get any article
To charity and peace.” BUTLER’S Remains. that was asked for. Accordingly, when I was out on
So that for a long time I was constantly teased with business my shop was well attended. This constant
their impertinent nonsense. I believe that never was attention and good usage procured me many
a poor devil so plagued. customers, and I soon perceived that I could sell
double and treble the quantity of books if I had a
Her dire anathemas against you dart.” larger stock. But how to enlarge it I knew not, except
HENRIADE. by slow degrees, as my profits should enable me; for
as I was almost a stranger in London, I had but few

Some as they passed by my door in their way to the

acquaintances, and these few were not of the opulent

Foundery would only make a stop and lift up their

sort. I also saw that the town abounded with cheats,

hands, turn up the whites of their eyes, shake their

swindlers, &c., who obtained money and other

heads, groan, and pass on. Many would call in and

property under false pretences, of which the credulous

take me aside, and after making rueful faces, address

were defrauded, which often prevented me from

me with, “Oh, brother Lackington! I am very sorry

endeavouring to borrow, lest I should be suspected

to find that you who began in the spirit are now like

of having the same bad designs.

to end in the flesh. Pray, brother, do remember Lot’s
wife.” Another would interrupt me in my business, I was several times so hard put to it for cash to
to tell me, that “He that putteth his hand to the purchase parcels of books which were offered to
plough, and looketh back, is unfit for the kingdom.” me, that I more than once pawned my watch and a
Another had just called as he was passing by to suit of clothes, and twice I pawned some books for
caution me against the bewitching snares of prosperity. money to purchase others.
Others again called to know if I was as happy then

Soon after I commenced bookseller I became

as I was when I constantly sought the Lord with my

acquainted with what Pope calls “the noblest work

brethren, in prayer-meeting, in class, in band, &c.

of God,” an honest man. This was Mr John Dennis,

When I assured them that I was more happy, they in

an oilman in Cannon street (father of the present

a very solemn manner assured me that I was under

John Dennis, bookseller.) This gentleman had often

a very great delusion of the devil; and when I by

visited me during my long illness, and having seen me

chance happened to laugh at their enthusiastic rant,

tranquil and serene when on the very point of death,

some have run out of my shop, declaring that they

he formed a favourable conclusion that I too must

were afraid to stay under the same roof with me, lest

be an honest man, as I had so quiet a conscience at

the house should fall on their heads. Sometimes I

such an awful period. Having retained these ideas of

have been accosted in such an alarming manner as

me after my recovery, and being perfectly well

though the house was on fire, with “Oh! brother!

acquainted with my circumstances, he one day offered

brother! you are fast asleep! and the flames of hell are

to become a partner in my business, and to advance

taking hold of you;” which reminds me of the

money in proportion to my stock. This confidential

following lines:—

offer I soon accepted: early in 1778 he became

“Were hell demolish’d now,

partner; and we very soon laid out his money in

Another must be had for you;

second-hand books, which increased the stock at

That providence were falsely nam’d,

once to double.

If such a monster is not damn’d.”

ROBERTSON’S Miscellanies. I soon after this proposed printing a sale catalogue,
LETTER XXXII. to which, after making a few objections, Mr Dennis
consented. This catalogue of twelve thousand volumes

“Passion, ’tis true, may hurry us along;
Sometimes the just may deviate into wrong.” (such as they were) was published in 1779. My
VOLTAIRE by Francklin. partner’s name was not in the title-page, the address
was only “J. Lackington and Co., No. 46, Chiswell

My new wife’s attachment to books was a very

street.” This our first publication produced very

fortunate circumstance for us both, not only as it was

opposite effects on those who perused it; in some it

a perpetual source of rational amusement, but also as

excited much mirth, in others an equal proportion of

it tended to promote my trade: her extreme love for

anger. The major part of it was written by me, but Mr

books made her delight to be in the shop, so that she

Dennis wrote many pages of it; and as his own

soon became perfectly acquainted with every part of

private library consisted of scarce, old, mystical and

it, and (as my stock increased) with other rooms


a Christmas dinner. My wife desired that I would go and informed me that a little shop and parlour were
to market and purchase this festival dinner, and off to be let in Featherstone street, adding, that if I was
I set for that purpose; but in the way I saw an old to take it, I might there get some work as a master.
book-shop, and I could not resist the temptation of I without hesitation told him that I liked the idea, and
going in; intending only to expend sixpence or hinted that I would sell books also. Mr Boyd then
ninepence out of my half-a-crown. But I stumbled asked me how I came to think of selling books? I
upon Young’s Night Thoughts — forgot my dinner informed him that until that moment it had never

— down went my half-crown — and I hastened once entered into my thoughts; but that when he
home, vastly delighted with the acquisition. When my proposed my taking the shop it instantaneously
wife asked me where was our Christmas dinner, I occurred to my mind, that for several months past I
told her it was in my pocket. — In your pocket (said had observed a great increase in a certain old book
she); that is a strange place! How could you think of shop; and that I was persuaded I knew as much of
stuffing a joint of meat into your pocket?” I assured old books as the person who kept it. I farther
her that it would take no harm. But as I was in no observed, that I loved books, and that if I could but
haste to take it out, she began to be more particular, be a bookseller I should then have plenty of books
and enquired what I had got, &c. On which I began to read, which was the greatest motive I could
to harangue on the superiority of intellectual pleasures conceive to induce me to make the attempt. My
over sensual gratifications, and observed that the friend on this assured me, that he would get the shop
brute creation enjoyed the latter in a much higher for me, and with a loud laugh added, “When you are
degree than man. And that a man, that was not lord mayor, you shall use all your interest to get me
possessed of intellectual enjoyments, was but a two-made an alderman.” Which I engaged not to forget
legged brute. to perform.
“In all my wanderings round the world of care,

I was proceeding in this strain: “And so, (said she,)

In all my grief — and God has giv’n my share —

instead of buying a dinner, I suppose you have, as you

I still had hopes to see some better days.”

have done before, being buying books with the
My private library at this time consisted of Fletchers’s

Checks to Antinomianism, &c. 5 volumes; Watts’s

“Pray what is the value of Newton or Locke?

Improvement of the Mind, Young’s Night Thoughts;

Do they lessen the price of potatoes or corn?

Wake’s Translation of the Apostolical Epistles;

When poverty comes, can they soften the shock,
Or teach us how hunger is patiently borne? Fleetwood’s Life of Christ; the first twenty numbers
You spend half your life-time in poring on books; of Hinton’s Dictionary of the Arts and Sciences;
What a mountain of wit must be cramm’d in that some of Wesley’s journals, and some of the pious

skull! lives published by him; and about a dozen other
And yet, if a man were to judge by your looks, volumes of the latter sort, besides odd magazines,
Perhaps he would think you confoundedly dull.”

&c. And to set me up in style, Mr Boyd recommended
I confessed I had bought Young’s Night Thoughts me to the friends of a holy brother lately gone to
“And I think (said I) that I have acted wisely; for had heaven, and of whom I purchased a bagful of old
I bought a dinner we should have eaten it tomorrow, books, chiefly divinity, for a guinea.
and the pleasure would have been soon over: but

With this stock, and some odd scraps of leather,

should we live fifty years longer, we shall have the

which, together with all my books, were worth

Night Thoughts to feast upon.” This was too powerful

about five pounds, I opened shop on Midsummer

an argument to admit of any farther debate; in short,

day 1774, in Featherstone street, in the parish of St

my wife was convinced. Down I sat, and began to

Luke; and I was as well pleased in surveying my little

read with as much enthusiasm as the good doctor

shop with my name over it, as was Nebuchadnezzar,

possessed when he wrote it; and so much did it excite

when he said, “Is not this great Babylon that I have

my attention as well as approbation, that I retained

built?” and my good wife often perceiving the

the greatest part of it in my memory. A couplet of

pleasure that I took in my shop, piously cautioned me

Persius, as Englished, might have been applied to me:

against setting my mind on the riches of this world,

“For this you gain your meagre looks,

and assured me that it was all but vanity. “You are

And sacrifice your dinner to your books.”

very right, my dear, (I sometimes replied;) and to Sometime in June 1774, as we sat at work in our

keep our minds as spiritual as we can, we will always room, Mr Boyd, one of Mr Wesley’s people, called

attend our class and band meetings, hear as many


sermons, &c. at the Foundery, on week days, as “London — the public there are candid and generous,
possible, and on sabbath days we will mind nothing and before my merit can have time to create me enemies,
I’ll save money, and a fig for the Sultan and Sophy.”

sermons, &c. at the Foundery, on week days, as “London — the public there are candid and generous,
possible, and on sabbath days we will mind nothing and before my merit can have time to create me enemies,
I’ll save money, and a fig for the Sultan and Sophy.”

fetched in on Saturday nights, nor will we dress even
a potatoe on the sabbath. We will still attend the This immense stock I deemed too valuable to be
preaching at five o’clock in the morning; at eight go buried in Featherstone street, and a shop and parlour
to the prayer meeting; at ten to the public worship at being to let in Chiswell street. No 46, I took them.
the Foundery; hear Mr Perry at Cripplegate at two; This was at that time, and for fourteen years
be at the preaching at the Foundery at five; meet with afterwards, a very dull and obscure situation; as few
the general society at six; meet in the united bands at ever passed through it besides Spitalfields weavers
seven, and again be at the prayer meeting at eight; and on hanging days, and Methodists on preaching nights;
then come home, and read and pray by ourselves.” but still it was much better adapted for business than

Featherstone street.


“————— Strange vicissitudes of human fate! A few weeks after I came into this street I bade a final
Still alt’ring, never in a steady state; adieu to the gentle craft, and converted my little stock
Good after ill, and after pain delight; of leather, &c. into old books; and a great sale I had,

Alternate, like the scenes of day and night.

considering my stock, which was not only extremely

Since every one who lives is born to die,

small, but contained very little variety, as it principally

And none can boast entire felicity:

consisted of divinity; for as I had not much

With equal mind what happens let us bear,

knowledge, so I seldom ventured out of my depth.

Nor joy nor grieve too much for things beyond our

Indeed, there was one class of books, which for the

Like pilgrims, to the appointed place we tend: first year or two that I called myself a bookseller, I
The world’s an inn, and death’s the journey’s end.” would not sell; for such was my ignorance, bigotry,
DRYDEN’S Palemon and Arcite. superstition, (or what you please,) that I
conscientiously destroyed such books as fell into my

NOTWITHSTANDING the obscurity of the street,

hands which were written by free-thinkers; for really

and the mean appearance of my shop, yet I soon

supposing them to be dictated by his sable highness,

found customers for what few books I had, and I as

I would neither read them myself nor sell them to

soon laid out the money in other old trash, which was


daily brought for sale.
You will perhaps be surprised when I inform you,

At that time Mr Wesley’s people had a sum of money

that there are in London (and I suppose in other

which was kept on purpose to lend out, for three

populous places) persons who purchase every article

months, without interest, to such of their society

which they have occasion for (and also many articles

whose characters were good, and who wanted a

which they have no occasion for, nor ever will) at

temporary relief. To increase my little stock, I

stalls, beggarly shops, pawnbrokers, &c., under the

borrowed five pounds out of this fund, which was

idea of purchasing cheaper than they could at

of great service to me.

respectable shops, and of men of property. A In our new situation we lived in a very frugal manner, considerable number of these kind of customers I
often dining on potatoes, and quenching our thirst had in the beginning, who forsook my shop as soon

with water, being absolutely determined, if possible, as I began to appear more respectable, by introducing to make some provision for such dismal times as better

order, possessing more valuable books, and sickness, shortness of work, &c., which we had been having acquired a better judgment, &c.
so frequently involved in before, and could scarcely Notwithstanding which, I declare to you, upon my help expecting to be our fate again. My wife honour, that these

very bargain-hunters have given foreboded it much more than I did, being of a more me double the price that I now charge for thousands

melancholy turn of mind. and tens of thousands of volumes. For, as a tradesman
“————————— Women ever love increases in respectability and opulence, his
To brood o’er sorrows, and indulge their woe.” opportunities of purchasing increase proportionably,

FRANCKLIN’S Sophocles. and the more he buys and sells, the more he becomes
I lived in this street six months, and in that time a judge of the real value of his goods. It was for want
increased my stock from five pounds to twenty-five of the experience and judgment, stock, &c., that for
pounds. several years I was in the habit of charging more than


Dr Watts, in his poem entitled Few Happy Matches, I now also began to read with great pleasure the
supposes that souls come forth in pairs, male and rational and moderate divines of all denominations:
female, and that the reason why there are so many and a year or two after I began with metaphysics, in
unhappy matches, is occasioned by many souls losing the intricate, though pleasing labyrinths of which I
their partners in the way to this lower world. That the have occasionally since wandered, nor am I ever
happy matches take place when souls arrive safely, and likely to find my way out.
meeting again instinctively, impel the bodies they animate “Like a guide in a mist have I rambled about,
towards each other, so as to produce a hymeneal And now come at last where at first I set out;
union. So that, according to the good doctor’s And unless for new light we have reason to hope,
hypothesis, it must be very dangerous indeed for a In darkness it must be my fortune to grope.”
person to be married more than once; but perhaps I am not in the least uneasy on that head, as I have no
such cases as mine might be exceptions to the general doubt of being in my last moments able to adopt the
rule, and three souls might come out together, but how language of one of the greatest men that ever existed.
very fortunate was I to meet with both my partners!

“Great God, whose being by thy works is known,
Hear my last words from thy eternal throne:

Reflecting on the above united circumstances, I found

If I mistook, ’twas while thy law I sought,

in my heart an unusual sensation, such as until then I

I may have err’d, but thou wert in each thought;

had been a stranger to, and something within me

Fearless I look beyond the opening grave,

adopted the sentiments of Anacreon, when he said,

And cannot think the God who being gave,
“Hence, sorrows, hence, nor rudely dare The God whose favours made my bliss o’erflow,
Disturb my transient span; Has doom’d me, after death, to endless woe.”

Be mine to live (adieu to care)

In the meantime I can sincerely adopt the following

As cheerful as I can.”

lines of Mr Pope:
My mind began to expand, intellectual light and

“If I am right, thy grace impart,

pleasure broke in and dispelled the gloom of fanatical

Still in the right to stay;
melancholy; the sourness of my natural temper,

If I am wrong, O teach my heart which had been much increased by superstition, To find the better way.”

(called by Swift, “the spleen of the soul,”) in part gave

Having begun to think rationally, and reason freely

way, and was succeeded by cheerfulness and some

on religious matters, you may be sure I did not long

degree of good-nature.

remain in Mr Wesley’s society. No,
I now began to enjoy many innocent pleasures and “A ray of welcome light disclosed my path!
recreations in life, without the fear of being eternally Joyful I left the shadowy realms of death,
damned for a laugh, a joke, or for spending a And hail’d the op’ning glories of the sky.
sociable evening with a few friends, going to the BOYD’S Dante’s Inferno.
playhouse, &c. &c. LETTER XXVI

-——— “The hours so spent shall live, “Good morrow to thee: How dost do?
Not unapplauded in the book of heav’n, I only just call’d in, to shew
For dear and precious as the moments are My love upon this blessed day,
Permitted man, they are not all for deeds As I by chance came by this way.”
Of active virtue, give we none to vice, BUTLER’S Posth. Works.
And heav’n will not reparation ask

“Let not your weak unknowing hand For many a summer’s day and winter’s eve,

Presume God’s bolts to throw,
So spent as best amuses us.

And deal damnation round the land,
We trifle all, and he that best deserves,

On each you judge his foe.”
Is but a trifler, — ’tis a trifling world.”

I had no sooner left Mr Wesley’s society, and begun


to talk a little more like a rational being, than I found In short, I saw that true religion was no way

that I had incurred the hatred of some, the pity of incompatible with, or an enemy to rational pleasures

others, the envy of many, and the displeasure of all
of any kind. As life (says one) is the gift of heaven, it

Mr Wesley’s — old women.
is religion to enjoy it.

“No seared conscience is so fell
“Fools by excess make varied pleasure pall, As that which has been burnt with zeal;
The wise man’s moderate, and enjoys them all.” For Christian charity’s as well,
VOLTAIRE, by Francklin. A great impediment to zeal,


her maiden name, which was Miss Jemima Turton of were no strangers to each others’ characters and
Oxfordshire, grand-daughter of the honourable sir circumstances, there was no need of a long formal
John Turton, knight, one of the judges of the Court courtship; so I prevailed on her not to defer our
of King’s Bench. Mr Samuel Turton had a large union longer than the 30th of January 1776, when for
fortune of his own, and about twenty thousand the second time I entered into the holy state of
pounds with his wife Miss Jemima, but by law suits, matrimony.
and an unhappy turn for gaming, he dissipated nearly “——— Wedded love is founded on esteem,
the whole of it, and was obliged to have recourse to Which the fair merits of the mind engage:
trade to help to support his family. For those are charms that never can decay,

her maiden name, which was Miss Jemima Turton of were no strangers to each others’ characters and
Oxfordshire, grand-daughter of the honourable sir circumstances, there was no need of a long formal
John Turton, knight, one of the judges of the Court courtship; so I prevailed on her not to defer our
of King’s Bench. Mr Samuel Turton had a large union longer than the 30th of January 1776, when for
fortune of his own, and about twenty thousand the second time I entered into the holy state of
pounds with his wife Miss Jemima, but by law suits, matrimony.
and an unhappy turn for gaming, he dissipated nearly “——— Wedded love is founded on esteem,
the whole of it, and was obliged to have recourse to Which the fair merits of the mind engage:
trade to help to support his family. For those are charms that never can decay,

“‘Tis lost at dice, what ancient honour won;

Improves their lustre.” FENTON.

Hard, when the father plays away the son.”


He opened a shop as a sadler’s ironmonger; but as he
“Reason re-baptiz’d me when adult:

was but little acquainted with trade, and as his old

Weigh’d true from false, in her impartial scale.

propensity to gaming never quitted him, it is no

Truth, radient goddess! sallies on my soul!

wonder that he did not succeed in his business; and

And puts delusion’s dusky train to flight.”

to crown all his other follies, he was bound for a false


friend in a large sum: this completed his ruin.

“All the mystic lights were quench’d.”
His wife died in January 1773, and his final ruin LEE.
ensued a few months after; so that from that time to “To thee philosophy! to thee the light,
his death he was partly supported by his daughter The guide of mortals through their mental night,
Miss Dorcas Turton, who cheerfully submitted to By whom the world in all its views is shown,

Our guide through nature’s works, and in our own,

keep a school, and worked very hard at plain work,
Who place in order being’s wond’rous chain,

by which means she kept her father from want.

Save where those puzzling, stubborn links remain

“The worst of ills to poverty allied,

By art divine involved, which man can ne’er explain.

Is the proud scoff: it hurts man’s honest pride.”


OWEN’S Juvenal.
I AM now in February 1776, arrived at an important

The old gentleman died a few months after I came

period of my life. Being lately recovered from a very

into the shop. Being partly acquainted with this young

painful, dangerous, and hopeless illness, I found

lady’s goodness to her father, I concluded that so

myself once more in a confirmed state of health,

amiable a daughter was very likely to make a good

surrounded by my little stock in trade, which was but

wife, I also knew that she was immoderately fond of

just saved from thieves, and which to me was an

books, and would frequently read until morning; this

immense treasure.

turn of mind in her was the greatest of all

“Pass some fleeting moments by,

recommendations to me, who having acquired a few

All at once the tempests fly;

ideas, was at that time restless to increase them: so

Instant shifts the clouded scene;

that I was in raptures with the bare thoughts of

Heav’n renews its smiles serene.”
having a woman to read with, and also to read to me.

WEST’S Pindar.
“Of all the pleasures, noble and refin’d,

Add to the above, my having won a second time in

Which form the taste and cultivate the mind,

a game where the odds were so much against me; or,

In ev’ry realm where science darts its beams,

to use another simile, my having drawn another prize

From Thale’s ice, to Afric’s golden streams,
in the lottery of wedlock, and thus, like John Buncle,

From climes where Phoebus pours his orient ray,
To the fair regions of declining day, repaired the loss of one very valuable woman by the
The ‘Feast of Reason,’ which from READING acquisition of another still more valuable.

“O woman! let the libertine decry,
To reas’ning man the highest solace brings.

Rail at the virtuous love he never felt,
‘Tis books a lasting pleasure can supply,

Nor wish’d to feel. — Among the sex there are Charm while we live, and teach us how to die.”

Numbers as greatly good as they are fair;
LACKINGTON’s Shop-bill.

Where rival virtues strive which brightens most,
Beauty the smallest excellence they boast;

I embraced the first opportunity after her recovery
Where all unite substantial bliss to prove,

to make her acquainted with my mind, and as we

And give mankind in them a taste of joys above.”


46 Chiswell
The Temple of
the Muses,
Extract from Richard Horwood’s map of London, 1792-9, showing the locations of Lackington’s shops


double the price I do for many thousand articles. But She was in reality one of the best of women; and
professed bargain-hunters often purchase old locks although for about four years she was ill the greatest
at the stalls in Moorfields, when half the wards are part of the time, which involved me in the very depth
rusted off or taken out, and give more for them than of poverty and distress, yet I never once repented
they would have paid for new ones to any reputable having married her.
ironmonger. And what numerous instances of this ——— “Still busy meddling memory,
infatuation do we meet with daily at sales by auction, In barbarous succession, musters up
not of books only, but of many other articles, of The past endearments of our softer hours,
which I could here adduce a variety of glaring Tenacious of his theme.” BLAIR’S Grave.
instances: but (not to tire you) a few of recent date ‘Tis true she was enthusiastical to an extreme, and of
shall suffice. At the sale of Mr Rigby’s books at Mr course very superstitious and visionary, but as I was
Christie’s, Martyn’s Dictionary of Natural History very far gone myself, I did not think that a fault in her.
sold for fifteen guineas, which then stood in my

double the price I do for many thousand articles. But She was in reality one of the best of women; and
professed bargain-hunters often purchase old locks although for about four years she was ill the greatest
at the stalls in Moorfields, when half the wards are part of the time, which involved me in the very depth
rusted off or taken out, and give more for them than of poverty and distress, yet I never once repented
they would have paid for new ones to any reputable having married her.
ironmonger. And what numerous instances of this ——— “Still busy meddling memory,
infatuation do we meet with daily at sales by auction, In barbarous succession, musters up
not of books only, but of many other articles, of The past endearments of our softer hours,
which I could here adduce a variety of glaring Tenacious of his theme.” BLAIR’S Grave.
instances: but (not to tire you) a few of recent date ‘Tis true she was enthusiastical to an extreme, and of
shall suffice. At the sale of Mr Rigby’s books at Mr course very superstitious and visionary, but as I was
Christie’s, Martyn’s Dictionary of Natural History very far gone myself, I did not think that a fault in her.
sold for fifteen guineas, which then stood in my

Indeed she much exceeded me, and most others that

and many others in the same manner. At sir George

ever fell under my observation, as she in reality totally

Colebrook’s sale, the octavo edition of the Tatler

neglected and disregarded every kind of pleasure

sold for two guineas and a half. At a sale a few weeks

whatever, but those of a spiritual (or visionary)

since, Rapin’s History, in folio, the two first volumes

nature. Methinks I here see you smile: but I assure you

only, (instead of five,) sold for upwards of five

she made no exception; but was a complete devotee,

pounds! I charge for the same from ten shillings and

and what is more remarkable, without pride or ill-

sixpence to one pound ten shillings. I sell great


numbers of books to pawnbrokers, who sell them

“Intentions so pure, and such meekness of spirit,

out of their windows at much higher prices, the

Must of course, and of light, heaven’s kingdom

purchasers believing that they are buying bargains,


and that such articles have been pawned; and it is not

only books that pawnbrokers purchase, but various


other matters, and they always purchase the worst
“Domestic happiness, thou only bliss

kind of every article they sell. I will even add, that
Of paradise that has surviv’d the fall!

many shops which are called pawnbrokers, never

Thou art the nurse, of virtue, in thine arms

take in any pawn, yet can live by selling things which

She smiles, appearing, as in truth she is,

are supposed to be kept over time.

Heav’n born and destin’d for the skies again.”
I went on prosperously until some time in September COWPER.
1775, when I was suddenly taken ill of a dreadful “Woman! man’s chiefest good, by heav’n design’d
fever; and, eight or ten days after, my wife was seized To glad the heart, and humanize the mind;

To sooth each angry care, abate the strife,

with the same disorder.
And lull the passions as we walk through life.”

“Human hopes, now mounting high,


On the swelling surge of joy;
Now with unexpected woe, I continued in the above-mentioned dreadful fever

Sinking to the depths below.” WEST’S Pindar. many weeks, and my life was despaired of by all that
At that time I kept only a boy to help in my shop, so came near me. During which time, my wife, whom
that I fear, while I lay ill, my wife had too much care I affectionately loved, died and was buried, without
and anxiety on her mind. I have been told that, before my once having a sight of her. What added much to
she was confined to her bed, she walked about in a my misfortunes, several nurses that were hired to
delirious state; in which she did not long continue, but take care of me and my wife, proved so abandoned
contrary to all expectation died, in a fit of enthusiastic and depraved as to have lost all sense of moral
rant, on the ninth of November, surrounded by obligation, and every tender feeling for one who to
several methodistical preachers. all appearance was just on the point of death: several
of these monsters in female shape robbed my

“Invidious death! how dost thou rend in sunder
Whom love has knit and sympathy made one? drawers of linen, &c., and kept themselves drunk

A tie so stubborn.”—— BLAIR’S Grave. with gin, while I lay unable to move in my bed, and


was ready to perish, partly owing to want of cleanliness ———————— “Thou art my all,
and proper care. Thus situated, I must inevitably have My only safeguard: do not, do not leave me!
Nought so becomes a man as gratitude

fallen a victim, had it not been for my sister Dorothy,
For good received, and noble deeds are still

wife of Mr Northam of Lambeth, and my sister

The offspring of benevolence, whilst he

Elizabeth, wife of Mr Bell in Soho.

With whom remembrance dies of blessings past,
“————— Dreadful are the ills

Is vile and worthless.”
Which cruel fortune brings on human kind.”

On my recovery I also learnt that Miss Dorcas

FRANCKLIN’S Sophocles.

Turton (the young woman that kept the house, and These kind sisters, as soon as they were informed of

of whom I then rented the shop, parlour, kitchen,
the deplorable state in which I lay, notwithstanding

and garret) having out of kindness to my wife some misunderstanding which subsisted between us,

occasionally assisted her during her illness, had caught and prevented me from sending for them, hastened

the same dreadful disorder, she was then very to me, and each sat up with me alternately, so that I

dangerously ill, and people shunned the house as had one or the other with me every night; and,

much as if the plague had been in it. So that when I contrary to all expectation, I recovered. But this

opened my shop again, I was stared at as though I recovery was in a very slow manner.

had actually returned from the other world; and it
was a considerable time before many of my former

As soon as I was able to enquire into the state of my
customers could credit that I really was in existence,

affairs, I found that Mr Wheeler, sack and ropemaker
it having been repeatedly reported that I was also

in Old street, and Messrs Bottomly and Shaw,

carpenters and sash-makers in Bunhill row, had
saved me from ruin, by locking up my shop, which

Montaigne says, “That sorrow is a passion which the contained my little all. Had not this been done, the

world has endeavoured to honour, by clothing it nurses would no doubt have contrived means to

with the goodly titles of wisdom, virtue, &c., which have emptied my shop, as effectually as they had

is a foolish and vile disguise; the Italians call it by its done my drawers.

proper name, ill-nature, for in truth (says he) it is
always a mean base passion; and for that reason the

The above gentlemen not only took care of my shop,
Stoics forbad their wise men to be any way affected

but also advanced money to pay such expences as
with it.”

occurred; and as my wife was dead, they assisted in
making my will in favour of my mother.

Whether Montaigne be right or not, I will not
determine; but I got rid of my sorrow as fast as I

These worthy gentlemen belong to Mr Wesley’s
could, thinking that I could not give a better proof of

society (and notwithstanding they have imbibed
my having loved my former wife, than by getting

many enthusiastic whims) yet would they be an
another as soon as I could.

honour to any society, and are a credit to human
nature. I hope that I never shall recollect their kindness “Man may be happy, if he will,
without being filled with the warmest sentiments of I’ve said so often, and I think so still:

Doctrine to make the millions stare!

gratitude towards them.
Know then, each mortal is an actual Jove;
I never had any opportunity of returning Mr Wheeler’s Can brew what weather he shall most approve,
kindness; but Messrs Bottomly and Shaw have had Or wind, or calm, or foul, or fair.
many hundred pounds of me for work, and are still But here’s the mischief—man’s an ass I say;
my carpenters, and ever shall be as long as I shall live Too fond of thunder, light’ning, storm, and rain;
He hides the charming, cheering ray,

near them, and have a house to repair.
That spreads a smile, o’er hill and plain!

“He that hath nature in him must be grateful:

Dark he must court the skull, and spade, and

‘Tis the Creator’s primary great law,


That links the chain of being to each other,

The mistress of his soul must be a cloud!”

Joining the greater to the lesser nature,


Trying the weak and strong, the poor and powerful,
Subduing men to brutes, and even brutes to men.” Miss Dorcas Turton was a charming young woman,
and you must now be made farther acquainted with

There is fine passage in Ajax, a tragedy by Sophocles,
her. She is the daughter of Mr Samuel Turton of

as translated by Dr Francklin, and as it is a wife
Staffordshire; her mother by marriage still retained

speaking to her husband is the more remarkable.
Tecmessa says to Ajax—