Memoirs of Josef Boruwlaski - CHAP.XIII.

CHAP.XIII.
A more respectable dinner party than that described in the last Chapter -- Cautions and advice respecting our conduct, and those we choose for companions -- The towns of Douglas and Whitehaven contrasted -- Journey from the latter place to Newcastle upon Tyne; kind reception and lucrative concert there -- Arrival in Durham; description of its romantic situation and charming scenery -- Humanity and active benevolence of the Clergy -- Character of Dr. Barrington, the present Bishop -- Introduction to Mr. Smelt, and visit to that gentleman -- Proceeds to Hull -- Series of distressing events -- Quits Hull for London, intending to proceed to America; is prevailed upon to remain in England; receives great kindness from the Archbishop of Dublin, the Misses Metcalfe, Lady Hawarden, and Mr Burdon Hartford.

            AFTER the extraordinary duel related in the preceding chapter, I went to dine with the officers at the barracks, where I met my worthy friend the Mayor, who acquainted the Colonel, that I had spent the preceding evening with the emigrants. I perceived the Colonel was not very well pleased with my visiting them, the motive for which was his kind attention to my welfare; and I have experienced in my travels, that not only he, but the public in general, looked sharp upon my movements, and generously directed my conduct, considering that I had little experience, and that accident had thrown me into the bustling world, which made them take a more than fatherly interest, to give me good morals for my future welfare. When the amiable Mayor explained to him, for what purpose .I had gone, the Colonel was soon satisfied, and expressed his conviction, that no harm was done; but that it would serve to show me the varied shades of human life, and their ill example would give light to my mind, how to avoid bad principles. I could not be more overjoyed than at that moment, in witnessing the interest he took for my person, but was a little afraid my visit might injure my reputation. It seems, he was aware of the authority of public opinion, and that there is no appeal from their judgment, even for the greatest Monarchs, who, great as they are, are often not exempt from bowing before their tribunal.

            In the course of my apprenticeship to the world, during which I have been obliged closely to study the immensity of objects which present themselves to our notice, I have found, that as it is mere accident to be born of poor or of rich parents,. so this accident does not allow arrogance to one, nor meanness to another, but both should keep an even balance in their station. Reflecting also on the singular corruption of our nature, I strove to banish all ridiculous chimeras of fancy, and to curb the unruly passions of envy, and of others which I shall not describe, and which we often see presented to our eyes, like so many strange pictures disguised with all the art of the painter, in order to deceive the public eye, which is ever watchful over our actions. But we must not forget, that the public will continue to exercise their privilege, and nothing can prevent their looking at the concerns of men. A quiet man may sleep secure under the inspection of such legislators: and although this turbulent society often exercises its unlimited power amiss, yet it is good daily to attend its lectures. I have been in the midst of those good conductors and debating advocates, and have heard sentence pronounced on imprudent members, and have remarked, that no respect was paid to their rank or their high abilities. This opened my mind to the nature of their judgments, and I could not adopt their practice; but it served me for a lesson, how to find the true method, by which I might not only avoid the censure of their high tribunal, but so far become their master, as to dispose of them as far as the limited nature of my own affairs would admit, and as far as my political interest could extend. As to this contrivance which I have so boldly exposed, and which, if it will not serve for example, may remain with me; it is not to be supposed a science, but the simple dictate of nature, without the labour of study, and such as does not stand in need of any laboured explanation. I may explain it by this similitude: The smith can without fear touch cold metals, and examine their qualities, which differ greatly one from another; then, understanding the nature of his metal, he is aware that keeping it in such a state of hardness will not give him any profit, and that it must be prepared in a furnace and made flexible, for which purpose these three articles are useful -- fire to make it manageable, pincers to prevent accident, and the hammer to shape it to his fancy. So I think that if we know well their nature, we may by a proper process manage the public, which, to say the truth, is pleased with greater ease, than soups are skimmed and made clear.

            Those who have seen as many nations and remote kingdoms as I have passed through, will agree, that not only empires, but particular towns offer to us various natures of men, which ought to be consulted. The event of this method was visible in Turkey, where the invention of the Koran produced a multitude of sects, as numerous as maggots in a rotten cheese, and government was in no better condition, but nearly in a state of anarchy; therefore, to avoid such errors, the law should be adapted as closely as possible to the nature of the people's disposition, otherwise the government is in danger.

            What I have said of the different natures of mankind, may be illustrated by the remarkable contrast I observed between the town of Douglas and the rich Whitehaven.

            Douglas inspired me with respect and love, and taught me to remember its kind reception; the town of Whitehaven seemed like a hive of industrious bees, with watchful care, forbidding the butterfly to taste their honey. I therefore took leave, and crossed the county of Cumberland, which abounding in barren mountains cannot boast of the fertility of her soil. I went into the country no further than Carlisle, finding nothing to attract my attention, and from thence proceeded to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I had no reason to repent my visit to that town, the inhabitants of which generously took notice of me, and by their kindness changed the gloomy aspect of my affairs, putting me in a state of defence, which enabled me briskly to repulse the attacks of want. General Dickson, Mr Abbs, and Mr Gibson, gave me proofs of their good dispositions, and of the national benevolence, which was exerted, not less nobly in improving the situation of an individual like myself, than in supporting considerable kingdoms by their liberality; not only loading them with immense sums of money, but clothing the nakedness of their faithful subjects. And as they must have enjoyed the fruits of this bounty with additional pleasure, from receiving it at the hands of so generous a nation; so in my case I felt proud of the exertions of my protectors, who procured me a lucrative concert, in addition to many other kindnesses conferred on me. Two celebrated performers, Mr. Wright and Mr. Monro, both generously offered me their assistance, and performed that evening with many other gentlemen their friends: so that the concert room was not only well filled, through the interest of my benefactors, but graced by many of the most beautiful ladies, who appeared to enchant every eye, and inspire universal admiration, by the gracefulness of their persons, and the lovely complexions they had inherited from nature.

            The circumstances of my situation soon compelled me to quit Newcastle, which the generous reception I had experienced, and charming society I had met there, made me leave with great regret. I cannot speak of Newcastle without mentioning my obligations to Mr. Walker, from the very active interest he took in promoting my benefit. He ordered many thousands of bills to be delivered from his printing-office; and, in addition to this, inserted the advertisement of my concert in several newspapers. These articles must have amounted to a considerable expence; but he refused to accept any other compensation than my gratitude, which, warm as it is, can never sufficiently repay his generosity.

            General Dickson kindly advised me to visit the City of Durham, and thus dispersed the darkness and gloomy uncertainty of my prospects. He put me into the hands of his friend Mr. Ebdon, to whom, on my arrival, I presented his letter. This introduction to such a worthy man, afforded me not only the advantage of a generous reception from himself, and friendly admittance to his house, but also of being made acquainted with a select society. The pleasure I enjoyed in his company and interesting conversation, and that of his amiable family, made such an impression on my mind, that I said to myself: "Though travelling is a troublesome life, yet its fatigues are repaid by meeting with such friends as these." I was not only delighted with the liveliness of his discourse and quickness of his repartee, but had the still greater happiness of being the intimate friend of a man richly endued from above with virtuous principles. The merit of the Misses Ebdon is equally to be admired, who are the very same picture, in respect to character, as their father: the same good qualities are to be found in their dispositions, exciting them to acts of benevolence as far as their power extends. Their feelings leave no room to doubt the goodness of their hearts, and purity of their sentiments which, it must be no less gratifying to them to possess, than it was flattering to me to be introduced to such a worthy family.

            My time was spent most pleasantly in the society. of my friends, or in examining the wonderful situation of the City of Durham. I was much struck with the river Wear, which runs round it in the shape of a horseshoe: it might with little trouble be made an island, but in its present state it bears the name of a peninsula. Close to the neck of land, are the remains of a tower, surrounded by the handsome garden of the Bishop's palace, and beautifying the point of the peninsula. The Cathedral is a most ancient and grand edifice, in a picturesque situation, with an extreme declivity on the south and west sides down to the river, the banks of which are wooded in profusion, and present that appearance of romantic wildness which is among the greatest beauties of nature. Great improvements have been made in them by the Dean and Chapter, who give them up to the enjoyment of the public.

            I was surprised to hear of such a liberal disposition; and my curiosity inducing me to make further inquiry, I was highly gratified by the information I received. A friend, whom I highly respect, acquainted me that they are a body distinguished for their munificence, employing their revenue chiefly in the practice of good actions, and in repairing the Cathedral, or their splendid houses, as has been done by the Rev. Dr. Haggitt, and Rev. Dr. Prosser, and the Hon. and Rev. Mr. Grey, with a view to circulate money among the poor working people; expending also large sums in subscription to hospitals, and in other public undertakings for the good of the nation: all which expenses occupy much of their revenues. Indeed, their keeping the romantic and beautiful banks of Durham in repair, on purpose to please the inhabitants, must require a considerable sum yearly. Yet I find from my worthy friend, that their benevolence makes them forget all these heavy expenses. I cannot forbear to add, that Lord and Lady Barrington, at Sedgefield, are looked upon as the parents of the distressed, and that their charitable attention to the poor is as remarkable as the distinguished title they have attained. My friend informed me, that his Lordship the Bishop of St. David's, whose bishopric is well known to be of small emolument, and whose dignified rank must necessarily require much to support it, when the living of Northallerton some time ago became vacant, and his Lordship's seniority in the Chapter, afforded him a desirable opportunity of improving his income, by merely taking possession of that to which the law gave him an undoubted right, he refused this living on its being offered to him, with the reply, that as he should not be able personally to discharge its duties, his conscience would not allow him to accept it. "This noble act," I observed, "surpasses all my conceptions of virtue." "I am afraid," answered my friend, "that the great Doctors now assembled in Congress at Vienna, will not be able to produce from their University, such distinguished masters as they are, so striking an example of virtue."

            At Sunderland, I found that the Rev. Dr. Gray, Rector of Bishopwearmouth, generously dedicated his time to the advantage of the inhabitants, by promoting several schools for the poor children of that place; and that Mrs. Gray has the benevolence personally to attend to two hundred girls. This respectable Divine, I understand, does not confine his charity merely to the poor children of his own parish, but with universal benevolence and smiling benignity, calls around him the needy and distressed of all descriptions, and gives them every facility of emerging from their wretchedness. Among others, my friend related to me an anecdote of this body, which I noted in my memorandum book, as travellers are accustomed to do when they meet with any thing particularly worthy of observation. An officer and his wife came from Newcastle, on a visit to their friend in. Durham: the officer being a gentleman of considerable information, and possessing great wit, had the power of making himself agreeable to company with very little trouble. One evening, at a party, he was amusing his' auditors with serious and jocose conversation, when his lady interrupted him in rather an unpleasant way, describing to her neighbour the new fashions, which had come out that year. Those two ladies now engrossed the conversation so completely to themselves, and entered into such a detailed account of fashionable dresses, that every one had given up all hopes of getting in a single word, when at last the Captain, without ceremony, cut short the dialogue, by begging his wife not to exhaust herself, for fear she should get a brain fever, but to let him give an account of the battle of Salamanca, which he accordingly began. If this narration may be relied on, his company displayed such gallantry in this engagement, that they destroyed 800 French, in killed, wounded, and missing; and that the French standard was taken by his lieutenant. His lady, who found silence a very grievous penance, here observed, "My dear, this very same lieutenant is now a prisoner in Durham gaol for debt." A respectable clergyman, the Rev. W. Baverstock, who was present in the company, on heating this, was so much surprised, and his feelings were so much affected, that he went to inquire whether he deserved assistance, and if it should be found he did, to set him at liberty. He found, to his satisfaction, that this gentleman had contracted his debts merely from his desire to maintain a respectable appearance as an officer, and not, as we often find is the case, from dissipated conduct. The worthy Baverstock then endeavoured to deliver him from his captivity, but in vain; as he found that he could not, at the lowest estimation, supply from his own income the demand of the creditors. Happily, however, knowing where to find those whose merciful dispositions would make them gladly step forward to relieve such unmerited distress, he went without delay to that amiable man, the Rev. R. G. Bouyer, and explained to him all the particulars concerning this unfortunate officer. Mr. Bouyer immediately took him under his protection, and engaged that he should be relieved from his distressful situation. Baverstock, in the fullness of his joy, could not help relating the affair to the rest of that worthy body I have mentioned before, the Bishop of Lichfield, Dr. Price, Dr. Zouch, the Rev. H. Phillpotts, and the Rev. D. Durell; whose virtues and humanity inspiring them with the same feelings, they joined the Rev. Mr. Bouyer in providing a sum of money to satisfy the troublesome creditors, and the officer was immediately set at liberty.

            I cannot help mentioning, before I conclude, that a School on the Madras System has, for these several years, been established in this city, for the purpose of educating the children of the poor, in order to improve their morals, and enlarge their minds. The author of this benevolent Institution is the Rev. R. G. Bouyer. I have been told, that this extraordinary and venerable Prebendary exercises, with unwearied industry, his mental powers in new inventions to serve his fellow-creatures. Such a man is a greater benefit to his nation than the treasures of kings.

            The Bishop is a descendant of the ancient family of the Barringtons; and, as Count Palatine of Durham, enjoys privileges equal to those formerly possessed by the Prince bishop of Warmia, who was invested with a power which the Polish nation could not prevent him from exercising. I have learned from the information of my friends, and from the history of this Palatinate, that the Lord Bishop, in his principality of Durham, (placed as he is in the midst of a generous nation, who give him little trouble compared with that which Bishops on the Continent often experience, as in the principalities of Warmia and Courland, and others that have expired, and are now no more to be found), can make choice, according to his own pleasure, of his Chancellor, High Sheriff, Attorney General, Solicitor General, and many other respectable officers, who attend their duties in his courts of justice. As to the personal character of the Lord Bishop, I was highly gratified to hear from strangers, as wall as from the natives of his Palatinate, that he is distinguished for the practice of good and generous actions. and looks minutely after those who may stand in need of his assistance, and that he has improved with the greatest care a disposition naturally amiable. A store of honey is to be found in his polite conversation, and his appearance in public exhibits none of that stiffness which too often accompanies elevated stations.

            The City of Durham, which is the metropolis of the Palatinate, has not an imposing appearance, as it contains not many buildings of fine architecture: but this disadvantage is abundantly compensated by the hospitality and kindness of its amiable inhabitants, and occasionally, by their brilliant assemblies which give us so favourable an opportunity to admire the elegant and beautiful features of the ladies.

            Amongst variety of respectable persons, I met here a gentleman of high rank, of the name of Smelt, who not only possessed elevated sentiments, but (as I discovered from his conversation) great knowledge, and a sound understanding. He honoured me with an invitation to stay at his country-house, near Northallerton, on my road to Hull, whither I expected to go soon, which I accepted, and met with a most kind reception. I remained there some time, where I had the pleasure of witnessing the affects of his bountiful heart in relieving the distresses of his fellow-creatures, and maintaining many families reduced from affluence to a state of poverty. He was pleased with my conversation, as all travellers have something to tell, finding in their road many new subjects of remark, and begged me to stay with him till he should receive a letter from London, as he expected he should have something to communicate which concerned my interest. This declaration greatly surprised me, as I had not an idea what he could mean. I remained for some time in uncertainty, wondering who could take so much concern in my future destiny; for continued adversity had impressed me with an idea, that nothing but misery was left in store for me. At last, he received a letter from his friend, the Duke of Gloucester, brother to the King, who sent a sum of money for me, with a promise that his Majesty would put down his name for a hundred pounds, and waited only for the arrival of his dear friend Mr. Smelt, to give it into his hand. So flattering an expression from a Monarch gave me reason to think, my amiable benefactor would hasten to London immediately; but, to give me still further proofs of his generosity, he spent some time in collecting a subscription, having .a powerful friend in Lord Mulgrave (who was his relation, and a Member of Parliament distinguished for his wisdom and virtue); he soon raised a considerable sum, and saying to me, "Since you are unfortunately destitute of natural protectors, allow me, as a father, to direct your future welfare." fie sent that money to his worthy friend the, Rev. R. G. Bouyer, to dispose of for my interest. I willingly gave up, not only my concerns, but my whole heart to his disposal: he made no objections to my going to Hull, when he knew I had a concert to give there; hut he expressed his particular wish, that I would wait in that town till his return from London. After his departure, the aspect of my affairs was dismally changed. The first news I heard was the death of the Duke of Gloucester, and soon after, that of the King's illness, without any hope of his recovery; and to complete my grievances, my dear Mr. smelt, on his arrival at home, dropped down and expired, so that I never beheld him more. The loss of such a patron afflicted sty heart with cruel pangs; and my sudden downfall from the height of prosperity to the abyss of despair overwhelmed my faculties, and left me in such a state, as if I had suddenly awaked from a delirious dream. When the transports of my grief were abated, a train of melancholy reflections succeeded, against the attack of which I had no consolation wherein I could take refuge, but what I might derive from the consideration, that the fate imposed upon mortality is fixed by laws irrevocable, and severs without distinction the closest ties which bind us to each other. When I looked back upon the scenes of my past life, through the dark medium in which I viewed them, they presented nothing but a gloomy and cheerless picture; and I felt almost tempted to regard myself, as marked out by fortune to be the victim of grief and sorrow. Despair inspired me with a degree of fortitude. "Now," I exclaimed, "when I have lost in my dear friend the most valuable treasure, and the greatest happiness this world can furnish, I need not greatly fear the worst my future lot may have in store for me: I, that have weathered some of life's roughest storms, need not shrink from venturing myself once more on the tempestuous ocean."

            Impelled by such reflections, I immediately left Hull, and set off for London in order to embark for America. But, as soon as I arrived there, I had the happiness to find the aspect of my fortune much improved. My kind benefactresses, the Misses Metcalfe, perceiving me to be deprived of every support, and plunged in the deepest misery, compassionated my distress; and, actuated by the most generous concern for my future welfare, vouchsafed to honour me with their protection, and to supply me with a sum or money, which has enabled me to enjoy the comforts of life. The only return which I am able to make for such benevolence is to describe it, and to make known to my readers the source of my independence. But how can I find words to express my gratitude for their unrequited bounty conferred upon me, from the very moment of my arrival in England! Conscious, however, as I am, how inadequate must be all language to describe my feelings, I shall attempt to manifest to the world my deep sense of that beneficence which was so kindly exerted to relieve me from misery and want, and of the goodness of those blessed beings, who appeared like the rainbow in the storm, to disperse the dark clouds which had so long hung over my fortunes, and to announce to me the dawn of brighter prospects. How flattering was it to find myself honoured with the notice and protection of a family, endowed with such elevated sentiments of mind as that of Metcalfe, after having met with so many persons who seemed to pay me no regard, nor even to consider me as a fellow-creature, much less as one whose heart beats with all the feeling of an honest man!

            To one possessed of tender sensibility, how painful are the reflections excited by such treatment! Happy must I esteem myself, that I have met with so many more whose liberal minds taught them to view me in a far different light -- most happy, that Providence has enabled me to rank you, my benefactresses, as chief among the number. Fortunate was the lot that placed me within the limits of that extensive sphere, which your benevolence embraces. I owe it to that protection, which you so graciously conferred upon me, that I have not been compelled, by the necessity of my unhappy situation, still to wander, God knows whither, with his Providence alone for my guide. Be assured, that I will ever retain, in the inmost recesses of my soul, the delightful remembrance of your goodness; and that my heart will never cease to cherish those sentiments of gratitude with which your benevolence has impressed it; nor to pour forth its earnest wish that the Supreme Being may ever bless you with his choicest blessings.

            Before I had the happiness to enjoy the protection of the family of Metcalfe, I was anxious, in furtherance of the plan which I had. projected, to give a concert, as I had then the opportunity of a free passage for America. I happened, just at that time to meet with his Lordship the Archbishop of Dublin, and his lady, who had, during my stay in Ireland, honoured me with their patronage, and given me repeated proofs of their bounty. As I was so well acquainted with the noble dispositions of these eminent personages, whose greatest pleasure consisted in anxious and unremitted endeavours to promote the happiness of their fellow-creatures, and whose manners, though perfectly correspondent to their illustrious birth and high situation, were far from being formal and ceremonious, I ventured to request a renewal of their favour I also, took the liberty to solicit Lord and Lady Hawarden, that they would honour me, by affording to my concert their patronage and protection. I was induced to make this bold request, by the circumstance of Lord Hawarden being the son-in-law of the Archbishop, and of the latter having honoured me with his particular notice. Lady Hawarden, generously extended to me her patronage, which could not fail of procuring me a good benefit. The flattering circumstance of her protection of my concert is far, however, from being the only instance of her kindness, which it becomes my pleasing task to acknowledge. She crowned her favours by sending me a present, for fear I should be in want, and by placing annually in the hand of the amiable Miss Metcalfe, a sum of money to be remitted to me in Durham. Thus has her generosity compelled me to add my poor tribute to the sum of universal esteem and admiration, which must be paid by those who know the virtues and the graces, which ennoble and adorn her. But here I must stop: although my lively feelings may inspire me with language in some degree capable of expressing my gratitude, they cannot impart to me talents, of the want of which I am too conscious. That character, therefore, which my humble abilities would but injure by attempting to describe, I must content myself with admiring in silence. In addition to the many instances of kindness for which I am indebted to the illustrious family of the Hawardens, it becomes my pleasing duty to record the noble action of Colonel Greville, who gave me a striking proof of the delicacy of his sentiments, and of his feeling disposition, by generously presenting me with the sum of ?100, as a help to increase my income. This money was remitted by Mr. Metcalfe, and by Mr. Muir brother-in-law of my protectresses, to that amiable and worthy gentleman the Rev. R. G. Bouyer, who was so kind as to add it to the sum which had been provided by my dear friend Mr. Smelt.

            Notwithstanding the auspicious appearance which my affairs now began to assume, I had not yet recovered from despair, and still felt anxious to put in execution my purposed voyage to America. But as I had never been in the habit of keeping any thing secret from my benefactresses, who were acquainted with all my affairs from the beginning to the end, I disclosed to them my intentions. I could easily perceive, although they gave me no opinion as to my having determined well or that what I had communicated had given them a gloomy impression, and the conversation terminated with their expressing a wish that I would accompany them next day into the country, to dine with Mrs. Muir their sister, who was unwell, and had a desire to see me. I went with them accordingly at the time appointed: everything had been prepared for my reception; and on my arrival, it was announced to me, that I need trouble my mind no more with ideas of going to the other side of the water, to glean for my living. At this fortunate moment, I received from their benevolent hands, a sum of money sufficient to procure me independence, and the enjoyment of a quiet, happy life. Such an unlooked-for reverse of fortune, thus terminating at once the troubles and fatigues to which I had been for so many years accustomed, excited in my breast a tumult of astonishment and joy, which deprived me of all power to give utterance to the emotions of my heart. My looks alone were capable of conveying the least idea of the transports and ecstasies of my gratitude towards the benevolent and amiable family of Metcalfe, for this last act of their beneficence, which so nobly crowned their former bounties.

            I should prove myself but ill deserving of the many good friends it has been my happiness to meet with, were I, whilst memory is employed in the delightful task of contemplating their kindness, to forget the name of Burdon of Hartford. This gentleman, being under an apprehension that I might be in want, offered, with the most unlimited generosity, to supply my necessities. I could not think of abusing the goodness of so noble and generous a heart, by unnecessarily availing myself of his liberal offer, and was therefore obliged to confess, that my circumstances were then such as placed me above the reach of want. He was a good deal surprised at this declaration, and no doubt concerned, that he was deprived of an opportunity of exercising his bounty. But let me assure his worthy family, that his kind intentions towards me have impressed me with sentiments of gratitude to his memory, which can never be extinguished but with life itself.

            I am now drawing near to the conclusion of my wandering life, being arrived at that period in which I quitted the busy stage where I had performed a part in so many tragic and comic scenes, and retired to the quiet enjoyment of an asylum from its cares and perplexities, which had been the object of my wishes from my earliest days. It was in the happy land of England that I found this blessing.

 

Prev Next