« AnteriorContinuar »
more modest views of his own vitality, You will certainly, Eusebius, when it he looks to another kind of succession, comes to the point, be taken up as an and that his requests, and the parish incendiary. Words burnt Bristol; and, registers, and the parish churches, my dear friend, yours are occasionally too, are to be handed over to his the “thoughts that breathe, and words friends the Dissenters. Now, Euse- that burn." You never will mince bius, you will have, when one of us matters even with an Act of Parliahonoured clergy, to be the servant to ment that blows hot and cold—that the superintendent.registrar of your authorizes two contradictory things district, resident, perhaps, ten miles First, that people may be coupled tofrom you, to whom every three months gether without God's word at all
, and you are to deliver certified copies of their matrimony be lawful ; and, se. the entries in the register-books. Off condly, that you should be required you must trudge every quarter your solemnly to declare, at the altar, that ten miles with your copies, under pe- all such marriages are “ unlawful" nalty of being found guilty of misde- that is, you are bound to declare that meanour, and appear before the Grand to be unlawful which the same act that Lama, the deputy-registrar, who will so binds you (for you have no other say, when he is at leisure to attend to form given) makes lawful. My dear you, “ Stand, and deliver !" My dear friend, you have too strange and too friend, pause a moment—you will free a spirit for these things. I fear surely be guilty of a misdemeanour; you, with many of us, will be open to and all your parishioners do not know the malice of the base and mean mind. that the pillory is done away with, and ed, who are ready to take advantage will, if they owe you a spite for laugh- of all our slips, inadvertencies, and ing, think themselves entitled to throw omissions ; those who, with the plea of rotten eggs at you, in anticipation of conscience for urging all these changes, the sentence of the court. In the first will have no respect for yours or mine. place, you will never know the quar. I should say that the deputy-registrars ter-day ; in the next place, if told, you are not, in respect of marriage, treated would receive the intimation as an in- much better than the clergy, for they dignity; and should you find yourself are bound to make and attest as a civil by accident or mistake before the great contract, merely that which their condeputy-registrar, you would so be- sciences tell them should be a religious think you of " my Lord Marquis of contract, unless it be intended by this Carabas" and Puss in Boots, or some very clause in the Marriage Act to give other nursery or whimsical tale, that a monopoly of the office to Dissenters. you would laugh in his face, and fling Now, Èusebius, you will have to ask your copy to the winds——and would very impertinent questions yourself, that be safe? Have they not now-a- which I am confident you never can days, contiguous parochial bastiles; do; for every woman that presents and where would you be ? And if there herself at the altar to be married must but for a visit, how would you pity the be asked her age, which all do not poor inmates that must not have a like to tell, and you must (a very odd window that looks out upon the bless- thing indeed) tell
, I know not how ed green fields, nor their own crony you are to learn it, “ her condition,” friends to look in upon them? And not meaning her rank or profession, would not
tell them all, that it is a which forms the next item you are to sin and a shame to separate man and put down for the information of the wife—for they were married upon Deputy Registrar. I am sure I cannot Christian terms, “ that no man should tell what any lady's or others' condiput asunder those whom God hath tion may be, nor am I very curious joined together ?” You would point to know what has been her profession out that our present marriage service previous to marriage; but suppose all says truly, “For be ye well assured, this settled somehow or other, with or that so many as are coupled together without odium to the questioner, you otherwise than God's word doth allow, will have other scrutinies to make, are not joined together by God; neis that I am sure your delicacy will ther is their matrimony lawful." You shrink from; and yet you will not would tell the people that they were relish the certifying to anything you no longer necessarily to be joined to do not know. Yet you are required gether by God, that there might be a to certify, “that you have on such a better pretext for separating them. day baptized a male child produced to you," &c. ; and that some difficulty crones, you will have opponents you may be put in the way of infant bap- wot not of. There is the cunning tisms, which are by this Act discou- man within a few miles of you, who raged, the poor, who now pay nothing, has a wonderful practice; there is the will have to pay one shilling. Take itinerant herbalist, and the drunken great care in your touching these pre- hedge doctor, who entitles himself cious registers of Mr Listers', for if M.D., and talks volubly of the ignoyou soil them you will be subjected rance of professional men in general. to a heavy pecuniary fine; you, in There was
one recently mockery, will furnish yourself with a in this neighbourhood, who might pair of silver tongs. In short, my have made a fortune among the fardear Eusebius, you will expose all mers' wives, from five shilling fees, this legislative folly in a thousand had he known how to keep them. ways, and perhaps make a foot-ball of He had a sure method ; he used to the Whig enactments at the church frequent the village shop, and conporch, and render yourself an object verse half familiarly, and half learnon whom authorities may exercise a edly, with the incomers; and freyindictive tyranny.
quently when a proper dupe left the You tell me that you have been shop, he used to remark to the bygiving some attention to the study of standers, that he could see by that medicine, that you may be useful to the person's complexion, interlarding poor. I fear you vainly flatter your- unintelligible words, that he or she self: although, now that the poor are was going into a dropsy, and somefarmed out at a few farthings per times a disease whose name the poor head—a price at which none but the ignorant creatures never heard of, lowest of the profession can come for taking care to be always intelligible ward, or those who look upon the in the main point, that he could avert advantage thereby offered of subjects the dreadful malady. From this for experiment, I am not surprised ingenuity he had much practice, and that one so humane as yourself should acquired a reputation for wonderful think some medical knowledge requi- cures. But, oh! Eusebius, the cruel site in the clergy, to prevent the herbalist, I never can forget that effects of this cruelty of the Poor-Law man, nor the sight lie showed me. Commissioner; and yet your know- The case was this : the sexton's wife ledge will gain you no credit. You was suffering from a cancer ; I inwill have powerful rivals, who will terested myself much about her, and think you encroach upon their privi- made interest with my friend, a most leges; and should you practice large- able surgeon, and humane, sensible ly, and prevail on the sick to take man, to see her ; he did so, and told your remedies, before you have been me nothing could be done for her long in the parish, you will find many then, but to retard the progress of the a death put down at your door, as a disease; and he liberally supplied her sin and a shame. Do you think (to with bandages. In this state she put say nothing of neighbouring Ladies herself under the travelling herbalist. Bountiful), that the old village crones He very soon made a horrible wound, will quietly give up the sovereign and promised a cure in a few weeks, virtue of their simples, their oils, their receiving as earnest money about extracts, their profits, and their pre- forty shillings. She suffered dreadful scriptive right of killing their neigh- tortures from his corroding applicabours after the old fashion, to please tions; but, clinging to life, endured a curate, and one of such vagaries, all in hope of a cure. I desired to be they will add! Infants will still die sent for at his next visit. In a few of gin and Daffy's Elixir, and the days I met him in the sick-room, and wonder will be pretty widely circu. told him he was attempting impossilated that you are not haunted by bilities, and inflicting unnecessary their ghosts. And should you quit pain. He removed the cloths, bared the parish, and visit it again after her side, and roughly pulled out a many years, depend upon it, though quantity of tow, which he had thrust from a different cause, you will have into the wound, a deep hole, which as much reason as Gil Blas had, when seemed to enter her very vitals, and he came in sight of Valladolid, to sigh put it in again, saying that he would and say,
“alas, there I practised forfeit his life if he did not entirely physic. And, besides these old
I told him he was working
at his peril. If he cured her, I would of practising upon brutes, has acquired take care that his name should be wonderful decision. A poor carpencelebrated, and the cure well known; ter had cut his thumb sadly, the cat. but that if he failed, I would try to tle-doctor happened to be near, and the utmost to punish him. He merely was sent for to dress it ; but with the replied, that he would forfeit his life greatest seeming indifference, he whipif he failed. The poor creature did ped out his knife and cut it off entirely. not live a week after this. I con- The man was a carpenter, and it would sulted my medical friend as to the have been unquestionably proper to best mode of punishing the man, and have tried to save it. But decision to my surprise learnt that he was pro. had been acquired, and excision is atected by law, if he could show that kin to it. he had practised so many years, and
The wind in the east, that I could do nothing with him. Did the herbalist flatter himself into
neither good for man nor beast, a belief of probable success? It is is a co
common saying-hence many poor charitable to hope he did ; and I now people conclude, that if what is bad should be more willing to entertain for man is bad for beast, so what is such a hope, as I have heard that good for beast is good for man. A the man has been found murdered poor small farmer, seeing a quantity of under a hedge. But the poor ought turpentine administered to his cow, to be protected from ignorance and fancied soon afterwards that it would presumption — the poor particularly, cure him; and not being particular in for they totally unable to the quantity, took half-a-pint, which distinguish real merit from rash killed him. This was bad enough; pretensions in any medical practi- but there was something ludicrous in tioner. Speaking of this horrible the tragical catastrophe of the next disease, I must mention, that a very
Another farmer, of great expeold man in the parish had one in his rience, upon which he prided himself, lip, which was so slow in its progress, and who, though not professional, was that he at last died of extreme old ago, an amateur cow-doctor, was taken very and not of the disorder; he was stone ill with internal inflammation. Hav. deaf. I knew a case in which a very ing suffered great agonies, his family eminent man in London acted very insisted upon sending for medical aid ; indiscreetly. The gentleman under- but, alas, the poor man tasked his own went an operation, and it was removed experience before the medical man arfrom his lip. I met him very shortly rived. When he entered the room, after, and he appeared quite well, and the farmer was out of pain, and said in high spirits ; in a day or two after, he never was better in his life, adding, he felt a little irritation in his lip, and “ Now, sir, as I have a liking to you, instantly went to London to an emi- and always had, I'll just tell ye how I nent surgeon, who advised him to ap- cured myself. I ha' given it to many ply to a medical man in his own place, a cow; and I'll tell thee the remedy, as to whom he gave him a letter. This it may be of use to you in your pracwas an injudicious step-for the poor tice." He then detailed such horrible man, travelling more than a hundred items of inflammatory and combustible miles with this letter in his pocket, substances, as I will not venture to put could not resist the temptation of open- down on paper. The fact was, that ing the letter, that he might study in mortification had immediately resulted the mean while his best means of a from the dose, and in a few hours he cure—when, what was his horror to
Had you been there, find the letter consigned him indeed Eusebius, and prevailed upon the poor to the care of a medical practitioner, fellow, in that state, to have taken the but without the slightest hope, and most simple matter, all his family more unfortunately still, expressed the would have said how well he was till tortures, as well as the death to which he took your medicine. “ Throw phythe disease would shortly subject him. sic to the dogs," Eusebius, for I am On bis arrival home, he shut himself quite sure yours will never do for man, up, tried to be resigned to his fate, woman, nor child. never left his room again, and died in Nothing is more striking to a minigreat agonies. There is also the cat. ster, and oftentimes nothing more distle-doctor, who often arrives at consi- heartening, than the indifference with derable celebrity; and from his babit which his parishioners ineet death.
was no more.
It is rarely that one expresses a strong bis door-he was able to walk about desire to live. The very persons his little garden. At length I obwhom you would expect to see most served that, as I entered his cottage, alarmed, or most desirous of life, are he would make his escape at another often the least so. I should generally door. On one occasion, his wife, conclude, that the presence of the cler- nearly his own age, shut the door by gyman is more advantageous to the which he would have escaped, purrelatives than the sick. Besides the posely, so that he had no help for it, great debility of sickness incapacita- but to seat himself sullenly in his chimting the dying from any mental exer- ney-corner, and endure my presence. tion, there is the gradual loss of senses, I saw him, as he thought unobserved, and the wretchedness of extreme old clench his aged fist at his wife, and age, when the sight and hearing have put on an expression of imbecile malong since failed. Deafness is so ex- lignity. This a little roused the old tremely common in rural parishes, that woman, who told him he was a bad man, it is one of the greatest obstacles to and had bad friends—that he had betmaking the impression we would wish. ter listen to the parson. This put me And, let me add, that there is some- on the enquiry ; but first I questioned thing so ludicrous, and apparently ir- him as to what could be the cause of religious in uttering solemn warnings, his change,—did he not believe as he and truths, and texts of Scripture, in formerly did ? He did not know that a voice at its utmost stretch, that you he did ; all he knew was, that some often shrink from the attempt. Poor people believed very differently, and people have universally one remark, he did not see what great harm he had when you point out to them how little ever done, and he was not afraid to good you can do, when the sick have die. Upon enquiry, I then found from age or other infirmity, lost all that a workman had come out from sense of hearing and understanding — the neighbouring town, and having “ The prayer of a righteous man work to do at a gentleman's house availeth much," is the constant reply. . about a mile off, had taken lodgWhere there is this superstition, I ings within a few doors of this poor should think it right to withhold pray- cottager.
The old woman said he er, certainly such as the sick may be called himself a “ Sinian ;" and I vesupposed to hear, and direct a lecture rily believe she thought it meant an and discourse to the attendants on the encourager of sin : " and a' reads a sick-bed; and I think it right, on such book here,” said she, “ that nobody occasions, to call up as many of the can't understand ; but that there's no family and friends as may be collected. wicked place for ever and ever ; and a I knew one instance of a man who pack of things that ha' turned his prayed very fervently to live a little senses topsyturvy; and I knows it longer. He had been a labouring man can't be good, for he ain't no longer -and for a labouring man,“pretty well kind like to me." This account gave to do." He had never had sickness ; me great pain ; mischief was doing all was strong, stout, and hale; of perhaps around me, and how hard to combat? seventy-two or three years of age. He It is very unpardonable to shake the then had a paralytic attack, and sent faith of the aged, and remove from
He continued in a doubtful them, in their last days of pain, sickstate some time. At every visit I ness, bodily and mental infirmity, their paid him, he earnestly prayed, and only solace, a Christian hope. "I wish hoped to be allowed once more to sit that those who do so would first conin the sun before his cottage.door, and sider, if, in uprooting all from the then he would be so thankful, and so heart, they find the soil really fit for good! How seldom are these self- the new seed they would throw in. formed resolutions of much avail! Ten to one that they leave nothing He was able to sit and sun himself at but entire barrenness and desolation his cottage-door, and often did I sit and all for what? To make a worthless there with him, and remind him how proselyte to philosophy, and to divihe bad prayed for that as a blessing, nity, without mediation, when they, and that it had been granted. But who would thus new-engraft the old by degrees I found him pass from si- tree, do not believe that it is essential lence to sullenness. I was evidently to the safety of their convert, that they not a welcome visitor. He was en
should believe otherwise than they abled to do more than sun himself at have been wont to believe.
Not very long after this the man had another - delirium tremens,” brought on by seizure. He then, himself, anxiously habitual intoxication. But the poor sent for me. He cried like a child- woman who, as I mentioned, acted the and was in all respects, perhaps, as part of nurse, took the matter very ill weak as one. I was much struck with when apprised of her danger. She the contrast of the mental imbecility was almost the only one I knew that in his whole expression, and the yet expressed much horror at dying. This remaining sturdiness of constitution in woman has before come under my obhis appearance ; he did not look very servation, immediately upon my first ill, and though at so advanced an age, entering upon the curacy, and in a he had not, I think, a white hair, but manner that had something of the lua strong, dark, curly head, as if he dicrous in it. I had been called to were not more than thirty. That was attend her mother, a very old woman, my last visit-he died.
the widow of a small farmer. She was There is not a human being who then in a dying state ; but I should would more rejoice in the innocent conclude she had been a gossipping, mirth of others than you, my dear curious woman; and retained her Eusebius, but when the sot, the pro- ruling passion, curiosity, strong in fligate, the idle, meet for revel, “ there death. The first time I visited her I is death in the pot. How lamentable was accompanied by my wife. I supand how awful is the following case :--- pose the people in the house saw us A man of education, and of one of the coming, and announced it to her. I learned professions, and of consider talked to her some time, and as my able talent, became, after various de- words became more serious, as suiting grees of misconduct, greatly embar- the solemn occasion of a death-bed, for rassed in circumstances, and entirely such it was, the old dame appeared lost his rank in society, and his repu- restless, and was rather trying to look tation. I believe he had no means than looking about her, till at length but the annuity of a woman with whom she interrupted me querulously thus-he lived. They took a house in my “ I do want to see the parson's wife.” parish. Cut off from better society, to My wife came forward, bent towards which they were born, they still found her, and said some soft or gentle thing, many among the villagers willing to as women, and parson's wives partiidle away unprofitable hours with cularly, know best how to say ; when them, especially when the temptation the old lady, looking with evident cuof drowning care was proposed. On riosity, said, “What! you the parson's one such occasion no very small party wife ? such a little bit of a thing as was assembled. I think there was you?” Now, my wife is of a middle dancing ; there certainly was much in- size; but in her second childhood the toxication. A common mason was poor old creature, always thinking the ainong the number, and in the course parson and his wife to be the first, and of the night he was carried up into a in that sense the biggest people in the room and laid on a bed. After an hour parish, concluded their bodily magnior two his wife went up to see him, tude must be equivalent to that of prize and found him-dead. I know not oxen, The daughter followed us to what immediately passed, but the end the door, then into the road, repeating of the night's revel was the death of at every other step “ Oh sir, I'll three persons ; at least I so concluded. never forget the Lord.” I looked The man above mentioned who gave back after I had gone a little the feast, did not long survive. I can- there was she standing, and speaking. not state the precise time, but very ill I thought she had something to say, he was. A fever came on,-in his last and went back--she only made a drop, illness—the last day-he addressed a but not at all like Goldsmith's “mu. person thus :-“ They think I'm an tilated curtsy," and repeated againunbeliever, but I am not, and should “ Oh, no, sir, I never, never, will forlike to see the clergyman.". I went, get the Lord !” And this was the but I was not allowed to see him. Very poor woman who was so rapidly taken soon after this a middle-aged woman off by that fever. who attended him as a sort of nurse, was The effect of fever which I am about seized with the same fever, which took to mention, is probably very well her off in a very short time. Not then, known to medical men, but to me it but I should think not a very long was strange, and I shall nut easily fortime after, one of that party died of get it, for the case had another inte.