Public Domain Books
A Scene of Distress; in the School.
It happened one Day, when Mrs. Two-Shoes was diverting the Children after Dinner, as she usually did with some innocent Games, or entertaining and instructive Stories, that a Man arrived with the melancholy News of Sally Jones’s Father being thrown from his Horse, and thought past all Recovery; nay, the Messenger said, that he was seemingly dying, when he came away. Poor Sally was greatly distressed, as indeed were all the School, for she dearly loved her Father, and Mrs. Two-Shoes, and all the Children dearly loved her. It is generally said, that we never know the real Value of our Parents or Friends till we have lost them; but poor Sally felt this by Affection, and her Mistress knew it by Experience. All the School were in Tears, and the Messenger was obliged to return; but before he went, Mrs. Two-Shoes, unknown to the Children, ordered Tom Pidgeon to go home with the Man, and bring a Letter to inform her how Mr. Jones did. They set out together, and the Pidgeon rode on the Man’s Head, (as you see here) for the Man was able to carry the Pidgeon, though the Pidgeon was not able to carry the Man, if he had, they would have been there much sooner, for TomPidgeon was very good, and never staid on an Errand.
Soon after the Man was gone the Pidgeon was lost, and the Concern the Children were under for Mr. Jones and little Sally was in some Measure diverted, and Part of their Attention turned after Tom, who was a great Favourite, and consequently much bewailed. Mrs. Margery, who knew the great Use and Necessity of teaching Children to submit chearfully to the Will of Providence, bid them wipe away their Tears, and then kissing Sally, you must be a good Girl, says she, and depend upon GOD Almighty for his Blessing and Protection; for he is a Father to the Fatherless, and defendeth all those who put their Trust in him. She then told them a Story, which I shall relate in as few Words as possible.
The History of Mr. Lovewell, Father to Lady Lucy.
Mr. Lovewell was born at Bath, and apprenticed to a laborious Trade in London, which being too hard for him, he parted with his Master by Consent, and hired himself as a common Servant to a Merchant in the City. Here he spent his leisure Hours not as Servants too frequently do, in Drinking and Schemes of Pleasure, but in improving his Mind; and among other Acquirements, he made himself a complete Master of Accompts. His Sobriety, Honesty, and the Regard he paid to his Master’s Interest, greatly recommended him in the whole Family, and he had several Offices of Trust committed to his Charge, in which he acquitted himself so well, that the Merchant removed him from the Stable into the Counting-house.
Here he soon made himself Master of the Business, and became so useful to the Merchant, that in regard to his faithful Services, and the Affection he had for him, he married him to his own Niece, a prudent agreeable young Lady; and gave him a Share in the Business. See what Honesty and Industry will do for us. Half the great Men in London, I am told, have made themselves by this Means, and who would but be honest and industrious, when it is so much our Interest and our Duty.
After some Years the Merchant died, and left Mr. Lovewellpossessed of many fine Ships at Sea, and much Money, and he was happy in a Wife, who had brought him a Son and two Daughters, all dutiful and obedient. The Treasures and good Things, however, of this Life are so uncertain, that a Man can never be happy, unless he lays the Foundation for it in his own Mind. So true is that Copy in our Writing Books, which tells us, that a contented Mind is a continual Feast.
After some Years successful Trade, he thought his Circumstances sufficient to insure his own Ships, or, in other Words, to send his Ships and Goods to Sea without being insured by others, as is customary among Merchants; when, unfortunately for him, four of them richly laden were lost at Sea. This he supported with becoming Resolution; but the next Mail brought him Advice, that nine others were taken by the French, with whom we were then at War; and this, together with the Failure of three foreign Merchants whom he had trusted, compleated his Ruin. He was then obliged to call his Creditors together, who took his Effects, and being angry with him for the imprudent Step of not insuring his Ships, left him destitute of all Subsistence. Nor did the Flatterers of his Fortune, those who had lived by his Bounty when in his Prosperity, pay the least Regard either to him or his Family. So true is another Copy, that you will find in your Writing Book, which says, Misfortune tries our Friends. All these Slights of his pretended Friends, and the ill Usage of his Creditors, both he and his Family bore with Christian Fortitude; but other Calamities fell upon him, which he felt more sensibly.
In his Distress, one of his Relations, who lived at Florence, offered to take his Son; and another, who lived at Barbadoes, sent for one of his Daughters. The Ship which his Son sailed in was cast away, and all the Crew supposed to be lost; and the Ship, in which his Daughter went a Passenger, was taken by Pyrates, and one Post brought the miserable Father an Account of the Loss of his two Children. This was the severest Stroke of all: It made him compleatly wretched, and he knew it must have a dreadful Effect on his Wife and Daughter; he therefore endeavoured to conceal it from them. But the perpetual Anxiety he was in, together with the Loss of his Appetite and Want of Rest, soon alarmed his Wife. She found something was labouring in his Breast, which was concealed from her; and one Night being disturbed in a Dream, with what was ever in his Thoughts, and calling out upon his dear Children; she awoke him, and insisted upon knowing the Cause of his Inquietude. Nothing, my Dear, nothing, says he, The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the Name of the Lord. This was sufficient to alarm the poor Woman; she lay till his Spirits were composed, and as she thought asleep, then stealing out of Bed, got the Keys and opened his Bureau, where she found the fatal Account. In the Height of her Distractions, she flew to her Daughter’s Room, and waking her with her Shrieks, put the Letters into her Hands. The young Lady, unable to support this Load of Misery, fell into a Fit, from which it was thought she never could have been recovered. However, at last she revived; but the Shock was so great, that it entirely deprived her of her Speech.
Thus loaded with Misery, and unable to bear the Slights and Disdain of those who had formerly professed themselves Friends, this unhappy Family retired into a Country, where they were unknown, in order to hide themselves from the World; when, to support their Independency, the Father laboured as well as he could at Husbandry, and the Mother and Daughter sometimes got spinning and knitting Work, to help to furnish the Means of Subsistence; which however was so precarious and uncertain, that they often, for many Weeks together, lived on nothing but Cabbage and Bread boiled in Water. But God never forsaketh the Righteous, nor suffereth those to perish who put their Trust in him. At this Time a Lady, who was just come to England, sent to take a pleasant Seat ready furnished in that Neighbourhood, and the Person who was employed for the Purpose, was ordered to deliver a Bank Note of an hundred Pounds to Mr. Lovewell, another hundred to his Wife, and fifty to the Daughter, desiring them to take Possession of the House, and get it well aired against she came down, which would be in two or three Days at most. This, to People who were almost starving, was a sweet and seasonable Relief, and they were all sollicitous to know their Benefactress, but of that the Messenger himself was too ignorant to inform them. However, she came down sooner than was expected, and with Tears embraced them again and again: After which she told the Father and Mother she had heard from their Daughter, who was her Acquaintance, and that she was well and on her Return to England. This was the agreeable Subject of their Conversation till after Dinner, when drinking their Healths, she again with Tears saluted them, and falling upon her Knees asked their Blessings.
Tis impossible to express the mutual Joy which this occasioned. Their Conversation was made up of the most endearing Expressions, intermingled with Tears and Caresses. Their Torrent of Joy, however, was for a Moment interrupted, by a Chariot which stopped at the Gate, and which brought as they thought a very unseasonable Visitor, and therefore she sent to be excused from seeing Company.
But this had no Effect, for a Gentleman richly dressed jumped out of the Chariot, and pursuing the Servant into the Parlour saluted them round, who were all astonished at his Behaviour. But when the Tears trickled from his Cheeks, the Daughter, who had been some Years dumb, immediately cried out, my Brother! my Brother! my Brother! and from that Instant recovered her Speech. The mutual Joy which this occasioned, is better felt than expressed. Those who have proper Sentiments of Humanity, Gratitude, and filial Piety will rejoice at the Event, and those who have a proper Idea of the Goodness of God, and his gracious Providence, will from this, as well as other Instances of his Goodness and Mercy, glorify his holy Name, and magnify his Wisdom and Power, who is a Shield to the Righteous, and defendeth all those who put their Trust in him.
As you, my dear Children, may be sollicitous to know how this happy Event was brought about, I must inform you, that Mr. Lovewell’s Son, when the Ship foundered, had with some others got into the long Boat, and was taken up by a Ship at Sea, and carried to the East Indies, where in a little Time he made a large Fortune; and the Pirates who took his Daughter, attempted to rob her of her Chastity; but finding her Inflexible, and determined to die rather than to submit, some of them behaved to her in a very cruel Manner; but others, who had more Honour and Generosity, became her Defenders; upon which a Quarrel arose between them, and the Captain, who was the worst of the Gang, being killed, the rest of the Crew carried the Ship into a Port of the Manilla Islands, belonging to the Spaniards; where, when her Story was known, she was treated with great Respect, and courted by a young Gentleman, who was taken ill of a Fever, and died before the Marriage was agreed on, but left her his whole Fortune.
You see, my dear Sally, how wonderfully these People were preserved, and made happy after such extreme Distress; we are therefore never to despair, even under the greatest Misfortunes, for GOD Almighty is All-powerful and can deliver us at any Time. Remember Job, but I think you have not read so far, take the Bible, Billy Jones, and read the History of that good and patient Man. At this Instant something was heard to slap at the Window, Wow, wow, wow, says Jumper, and attempted to leap up and open the Door, at which the Children were surprized; but Mrs. Margery knowing what it was, opened the Casement, as Noah did the Window of the Ark, and drew in Tom Pidgeon with a Letter, and see here he is.
As soon as he was placed on the Table, he walked up to little Sally, and dropping the Letter, cried, Co, Co, Coo, as much as to say, there read it. Now this poor Pidgeon had travelled fifty Miles in about an Hour, to bring Sally this Letter, and who would destroy such pretty Creatures.–But let us read the Letter.
My dear Sally,
GOD Almighty has been very merciful, and restored your Pappa to us again, who is now so well as to be able to sit up. I hear you are a good Girl, my Dear, and I hope you will never forget to praise the Lord for this his great Goodness and Mercy to us–What a sad Thing it would have been if your Father had died, and left both you and me, and little Tommy in Distress, and without a Friend: Your Father sends his Blessing with mine–Be good, my dear Child, and God Almighty will also bless you, whose Blessing is above all Things.
I am, my Dear Sally,
Your ever affectionate Mother,