Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

tranquillity in prayer!” We hope he did himself. That is the last and best resource for souls stripped of their dearest joys. In communion with the Father of spirits, and approaching him through that Son with whom he is ever well pleased, the desolate find sympathy, and the wounded heart is healed.

Amidst a cloud of domestic sorrow the shade of the great statesman here leaves us. His last days were spent away from his old London haunts, and his remains rest in the grave of his son and brother in the churchyard of Beaconsfield.

XIII, JOHN HOWARD.

On the north side of the priory of St. Bartholomew," says John Stowe, in his “Survey of London,” “is the lane truly called long, which reached from Smithfield to Aldersgate-street.” At the time when our venerable metropolitan topographer recorded this characteristic notice of a well-known locality, it was built on both sides with tenements for brokers, tipplers, and such like;" but the brokers had the predominance afterwards, for an annotator upon Strype describes Long-lane as "a place of note for the sale of apparel, linen and upholsterers' goods, both secondhand and new, but chiefly for old.” It is more than probable, that many a thrifty salesman in that queer old neighbourhood made a decent fortune out of his yearly gains, though only one that we know of has attained to any celebrity. This is certain, that no fortune was ever laid up by any of the diligent sons of trade in our great metropolis, destined to a better use in the hands of the heir and successor, than the fortune of him to whom we now refer. Many a father has felt what the wise man so touchingly expresses : “I hated all the labour which I had taken under the sun, because I should leave it to the man who should be after me; and wbo knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool ?" And survivors have witnessed a sad squandering by the new possessor of money scraped together by much toil, amidst not a little of self-denial. But the prosperous tradesman in Long-lane, whom we are now thinking of, was honoured as the accumulator of riches, which, instead of “perishing through sore travail,” became, through the beneficence of his son, the instrument of mercy to England and the world, surrounding his name with a lustre at which generations to come will look back with reverence and praise.

John Howard kept a shop somewhere about the corner of the place so noted for the sale of upholsterers' goods; and when, by diligently following that line of business, he had obtained enough to enjoy his “otium cum dignitate," he first retired to Enfield, and then removed to Clapton. About 1790, the Clapton residence was described as a venerable mansion situated on the western side of the street, but much decayed, and lately disfigured. Very soon after it was pulled down. There, in 1739, Mr. Howard must have been living in good circumstances, as in that year he paid the fine for not serving as sheriff of London. He had then a son, about thirteen years old, who was probably born in the Clapton house; though considerable obscurity rests on the scene as well as the exact date of his birth. This son was the John Howard on whose name, by universal acclamation, the title of philanthropist has been bestowed a title far surpassing any which heralds can record or sovereigns confer. We fancy we see him in his father's garden-a lad not tall of his age, yet thin and spare, and rather fragile in his make and appearance, with large nose, and eyes sparkling with benevolence, and compressed lips, which show that he carries with him a will too strong to be easily broken. Hair cut short in front and curled behind, and costume somewhat like a full court dress in miniature, complete the portrait. Young Howard went to school for seven years with Mr. Worsley, a good Greek scholar at Hertford ; and was then removed to the care of Mr. Eames, who was tutor in a seminary conducted in Tenter-alley, Moorfields, for the education of both dissenting ministers and laymen. Mr. Eames possessed rare attainments, was a friend of Sir Isaac Newton, and was pronounced by Dr. Watts to be the most learned man he ever knew. But Howard, with these advantages, never turned out a scholar. Strange to say, he not only knew very little Latin, and less Greek, but he could never write his own language with propriety and correctness. But

among

his school associations there occurs one of those instances of generosity with which his history abounds. Mr. Densham was assistant to Mr. Eames, and won the respect and gratitude of Howard. The latter, just before setting out on his last and fatal journey, gave his old tutor an unlimited order to draw on his banker for whatever sum he might stand in need of; but the delicate conscientiousness of the poor scholar was as great as the benevolence of his rich friend; for though at the time having only twelve or thirteen pounds a-year, he diminished his little capital rather than accept the discretionary privilege.

Howard's father did what few men in his circumstances are wont to do. Though he could leave his son a fortune, he determined to bring him up to trade, and therefore bound him apprentice to Messrs. Newnham and Shipley, wholesale grocers in Watling-street. For that old thoroughfare with a Roman name, we must confess some considerable penchant. Memories of the time when the great masters of the world had their provinces in Britain, and Roman manners and Roman hearts covered the banks of the Thames, all about that neighbourhood come thick and fast before the mind's eye, as we sometimes thread that alley-like avenue to London Bridge, in preference to the broader and more crowded highway of Cheapside. Milton's shade, of course, meets us at the corner of Bread-street, and we like to think also of the grocer's apprentice, grown somewhat since we described him at Clapton ; who amidst hogsheads of sugar and chests of tea was acquiring habits of application to business of no little use to him in after life. Meditating on this early portion of Howard's history, our thoughts take the shape so well defined by his last biographer :-“No man can foresee even for an hour the turns of fortune. It is the part of wisdom to be armed and prepared for whatever may befall. Knowledge of a profession is no burden. A gentleman is not the less a gentleman because he is conversant with law, with trade, with medicine; nay, he is then more a gentleman than he otherwise could be, for he is more completely independent. He alone is perfect master of his actions who has a personal means of living-some art or craft, knowledge or skill, of which chance and change cannot divest him: wanting this, his present interest or his fears for the future must often modify his hopes and warp his conscience."

It would seem, however, as if Howard, who had been well schooled in filial obedience, only submitted to the drudgery of the grocer's warehouse, without any liking for scales and ledgers, inasmuch as we find that almost immediately upon his father's death he procured the surrender of his indentures. His apprenticeship obligations were early cancelled upon the payment of a sum of money; but the youth, freed from the yoke of servitude, was by no means disposed to riot in his new-found liberty: with a steadiness and care such as belong to the ripest years of human life, he attended to the preservation, improvement, and proper use of the patrimony he inherited. He personally superintended the repairs of the Clapton house; and as we walk through the main street of that now populous suburb, we think of Howard's visit to the paternal abode, and his recollections amidst the scenes of his boyhood, and call to mind how daily he might be seen close to a buttress of the garden wall, at the hour when the baker was passing with his cart, buying a loaf of the man, and finging it over the wall, and then, with a laugh, saying to his father's gardener, the playmate probably of his own earlier days, "Harry, see if there is not something for you there among the cabbages." The frolicsomeness of Howard in his youth bore the stamp of true kindliness of disposition, and that punctuality in engagements which marked the entire history of Howard in his manhood.

But he did not live in the Clapton house--that was let. His own place of abode was Stoke Newington. He had lodgings there, where he studied and improved his mind. The delicate state of his health required more attentive nursing than he found in the house where he first lodged, so he removed to apartments under the roof of Mrs. Sarah Lowne, a widow of a little property, residing in Church-street, who devoted her time to the care and comfort of the young invalid. He had some rather strange notions, and when they shaped themselves into the form of duty, they always rested upon á very firm substratum of conscientiousness. Though he was only twenty-five, he considered that he could justly repay the lady for her kindness, though she was fifty-two, by nothing less than the offer of his hand in marriage, with the resolution of promoting the happiness of her life who had saved his. The eccentric proposal was at first refused, but being strongly urged, was at length accepted, and Howard amply redeemed his vow.

He always expressed himself as having been happy in his choice, though his domestic enjoyment was of a different character from that which he afterwards so richly reaped during the ten years of wedded companionship he spent with his second wife-his beloved Henrietta. The first Mrs. Howard died in 1755, between two and three years after her marriage, and lies buried in St. Mary's Whitechapel. Howard felt lonely when this tie was dissolved, and broke up housekeeping, giving away his furniture to the poor of the village.

The old gardener we have mentioned received for his share a

« PredošláPokračovať »