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there never was a gentleman in that house, (and she would be bold to say, there had been as good gentlemen there, as in any house in London) who had ever any reason to complain of his conduct. He would wait upon any of my friends, to whom I should think fit to send him, and do all in his power to make matters easy; “and if you please, sir, you are welcome to come down into the parlour, and breakfast with me.” And pray, my good lady, where are you to get your pay ? “O, I will trust to that, sir; I am sure you are a gentleman ; do, sir, come down and breakfast : you will be better after breakfast. Bless your soul, sir, why there have been hundreds, who settled their affairs, and did very well afterwards.” I was prevailed upon to go down to breakfast. There was, in the centre of the entry, a door half way up, with long spikes; every window was barred with iron; escape was impossible; and indeed I had no wish to escape: a kind of mournful insensibility pervaded my soul, for which I was not then disposed to account, but which I have since regarded as an instance of divine goodness, calculated to preserve my little remains of health, as well as that reason, which had frequently tottered in its seat. To the impertinent prattle of the female turnkey I paid no attention, but, hastily swallowing a cup of tea, I retired to my prison. This irritated her; she expected I would have tarried below, and, as is the custom, summoned my friends, who, whether they did any thing for my advantage or not, would, by calling for punch, wine, &c. &c. unquestionably contribute to the advantage of the house. But as I made no proposal of this kind, nor indeed ever intended so to do, they saw it was improbable they should reap any benefit by or from me; and having given me a plentiful share of abuse, and appearing much provoked, that they could not move me to anger, they were preparing to carry me to Newgate, there to leave me among other poor, desperate debtors; and their determination being thus fixed, I was at liberty to continue in my gloomy apartment, and, what I esteemed an especial favour, to remain there uninterrupted. I received no invitation either to dinner, tea, or supper ; they just condescended to inform me, when they came to lock me in, that I should have another lodging the ensuing night: to which I made no reply. My spirits, however, sunk in the prospect of Newgate. There, I was well informed, I could not be alone; there, I knew, my associates would many of them be atrocious offenders, and I was in truth immeasurably distressed. It was now, that every argument, which I had ever read in favour of suicide, was most officiously obtruded upon my mind, and warmly impressed upon my imagination. It was stated, that my Almighty Father could not be angry with me for leaving such a world, in such circumstances; the opposition of reason seemed to result from the prejudices of education; “and,” said illusive fancy, “as it is appointed for all men once to die, to do that to-day, which I may do to-morrow, and what I must shortly do, cannot be very wrong.” It is true, my monitor assured me, that the God, who had created me, was the only proper judge of the exact moment, when I ought to be removed out of time; that He best knew what benefit might accrue to myself, or the community, by my longer continuance in this vale of tears; yet these remarks, with many more of the same description, were not sufficiently imposing to endow me with resolution still to “abide the pelling of the pitiless storm;” and I determined to finish my wretched existence, before the dawning of another morning. This was indeed a night of horror; but, in the moment of executing my fatal, my God-dishonouring purpose, the image of my Eliza, irradiating the prison walls, seemed to stand before me. She appeared as if commissioned by Heaven to soothe my tortured spirit. I prostrated myself before the perhaps imaginary vision, and, for the first moment since I had occupied this dreary abode, my heart softened, and a shower of tears came to my relief; yea, and I was relieved. My soul became calm, and, although every hope from this world was extinct in my bosom, yet I believed Ishould be betterable to accommodate myself, to whatever sufferings the Almighty might think proper to inflict. I passed the remainder of the night in endeavouring to fortify my mind; a pleasing melancholy took possession of my spirit. I drew consolation from remembering, the time of suffering was not long; that there was a rest, a life of uninterrupted felicity, beyond the grave ; that of this rest, this life, no power on earth could deprive me; and that I ought therefore quietly to wait, and patiently to hope, for the salvation of my God. Thus, although my night had been sleepless, my mind became so calm, and my spirit so greatly refreshed, that when the keeper opened the door in the morning, to inform me, that in three hours he should lodge me in Newgate, I answered with unaffected composure: I am ready, sir. In less than an hour, however, I had a new source of inquietude. My brother, William Neale, having received a hint of the arrest, had searched from place to place, until at length finding me, with tears of sympathy he reproached me, even in the presence of the woman, for not immediately summoning him to my relief. This female turnkey, observing the appearance of my brother, and the feeling manner, in which he addressed me, began to hope, notwithstanding what she had termed my
obstinacy, that they should reap some benefitfrom me after all. “Why," said William, “did you not send for me immediately upon your entering this house ?” “Ay, dear sir, so I said: why, dear sir, said I, cannot you send for some of your friends ! for I know'd as how, the gentleman had many friends, and my husband would have gone himself to any part of the town, with all his soul. No one can ever say, that we were backward, in doing every thing in our power to serve and oblige every gentleman, that ever came into our house: and, though I say it, that should not say it, I believe there is not a house, in our way, in London, that has ever had more good people in it, as a body may say, than ours; and, says I, Lord, sir, says I, you need not for to make yourself uneasy; it is no crime, says I, to be in difficulty, or the like of that; the best people in the world, says I, are in the greatest difficulties, says I; I am sure, I have had my share of troubles and difficulties in this world, says I; but I had better, says I, have them here, than in a worse place: I hope, I shall atone for all my sins here.” Thus did this creature's tongue run, and would have continued so to do, had not my brother asked, if I had breakfasted ? “Ay, sir, I am glad to hear you say something of that. The poor gentleman has not seemed to care any thing about eating, or drinking : for my part, I was frightened, in the dread of the poor gentleman's dying in the house; I would have urged him over and over again ; but said I, may be he will think as how, that I mean my own interest, and so I did not care to say much about it; but, sir, the poor gentleman can't think you have any interest.” “Get breakfast, ma'am.” “Tea or coffee, gentlemen 7” “Both, ma'am, and, do you hear, let us have a private room.” “Yes, sir.” When left alone, my friend, and brother, again reproached me for delaying my communications to him. I frankly told him, that I was so far from being disposed to solicit his aid, that I seriously regretted he had discovered me; that I had no wish to involve my friends in my difficulties; that I would much rather continue a prisoner, for the remainder of my life, than incur obligations, which I had no prospect of discharging. “Pho, pho,” said he, “this is idle talk. You cannot believe, you would be the only sufferer from your continuing in durance.” But I should not suffer long. “You know not how long, however ; drop the subject, here is breakfast; sit you down, and let us breakfast together; we will resume our subject by and by.” Yes, William, we will resume our subject, by and by ; but suffer me to observe, you shall not come under bonds on my account, neither shall you discharge my debts; consent to this stipulation, or I touch no break
fast. “Pshaw, pshaw, how whimsical; but eat your breakfast, man : I promise, I will do neither.” We then breakfasted in peace, and I derived a mournful kind of pleasure, from the assurance, that I should not involve the brother of my Eliza in my ruin. But, how great was my astonishment, when he ordered in the officer, who was also master of the house, when, after demanding and discharging his bill, he produced a receipt in full from my creditor, and a complete discharge for me. Thus was I liberated from the fangs of these harpies, and I accompanied this commiserating brother to his hospitable mansion, where he related to me the means, by which he had discovered me. Quitting this noble-minded friend, I hastened home to my suffering mother, who was in agonies on my account; ignorant where I was, or what was my situation, her apprehensions were of the most fearful kind. We mingled our tears, while she most affectionately endeavoured to soothe me, and to bind up my broken heart; but my only remaining hope was, that, in this distempered state, I had not long to suffer. But, alas ! here also I was deceived ; long, very long have I continued, and with heart-felt sorrow, to tread this thorny maze. The brothers of my departed angel combined to help me forward; many plans were proposed for me ; a sum of money was hired to place me, as a partner, in a mercantile house, and my brothers were my bondsmen I detested the thought of new prospects from such a world as this, but, to my beloved William, I was largely in debt; he had a growing family, and both gratitude, as well as justice, demanded I should make every effort for his remuneration. Thus I again became a melancholy man of business. It was supposed the road, not only to competency, but to affluence, was open before me, and I was pronounced in flourishing eircumstances. It was, for those who loved me, a pleasing dream ; but soon the golden vision vanished, and I awoke to the certainty of its being no more than a dream. Again I returned to my lonely dwelling ; pleased with the thought, that my solitude would no more be interrupted ; again I detested the world, and all which it could bestow. Thus a few more melancholy months rolled mournfully away, and I expected to finish my days in the retirement, to which I was devoted. One consideration, however, still pressed heavily upon my mind. The very considerable sums, for which I was indebted to my generous brother, was, to me, a mighty burden ; and this beloved brother, availing himself of my anxiety on this account, once more set me afloat. Many were the efforts, to which I consented ; great were my mental sacrifices. But one expedient remained; it was a mournful expedient. I will not delineate. I pause; I throw a veil over many revolving months; let it suffice to say, my purpose was gained, my debts were paid, my pecuniary circumstances easy; but this was all. How mysterious are the ways of heaven how many torturing scenes I have passed through But, blessed be God, I have passed through them. Thanks be to the Father of mercies, they can no more be reiterated : My newly acquired competency possessed no charms for me; I derived no satisfaction from any thing around me. In fact, I had nothing in prospect, and hope seemed to have expired in my bosom.
CHAPTER V. The bereaved man, quitting his native shores, embarks for America : indulging the fond hope of sequestering himself in the solitude for which he sighed. But, contrary to his erpectations, a series of circumstances combine to produce him a Promulgator of the Gospel of God, our Saviour. r
Death's sable pall o'er all my pleasures thrown,
HAVING, as has been described, laid the companion of my youth, the wife of my bosom, in the grave; my spirit still hovered round her tomb. It has been seen, that my life seemed devoted to misery; that I wept at all times, except when I turned my attention to that bright world, upon which, I imagined, I was verging ; that I wished the act of putting a period to a weary life had ranked among the Christian virtues; that I never more passionately longed for any good, than for the period, which was to put an end to my existence; that I had but few acquaintance, that I wished not to form new connexions; that I was sick of the world, and all which it could bestow ; that the retirement of my lonely dwelling was most acceptable to me; that I abhorred the thought of expecting any thing like happiness in this world ; and, that I thus passed weeks and months, verily believing, that I should thus finish days, which, I cherished a soothing hope, would soon be numbered. Through those sad scenes of sorrow, to which I was condemned, I had one friend, one earthly friend, from whom I derived real consolation. This friend was Mr. James Relly, the man who had been made o