Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

verted to God. He was, however, remarkably fond of hearing the Scriptures read.

The next case is that of a man whom I trust to have undergone the great change of heart, which is indispensable to fit us for the kingdom of God. He was, during many years, a coalheaver by occupation, and of exceedingly intemperate habits. If the reader saw this man sitting placidly in his seat at listening to the Gospel, and partaking of the emblems of our Saviour's dying love, he would perhaps be surprised to learn that the individual before him was formerly a companion of fighting men, and has waded through much wickedness.

His father was professedly a Thames fisherman, and followed that occupation until his death; but he added to it one not so reconcilable to honesty, he was a smuggler. He married a second time, and expended as much as eight hundred pounds in little more than twelve months after his marriage, attending Drury Lane, Vauxhall, Ranelagh, etc.

, totally neglecting his occupation, and indulging in all kinds of extravagances and folly. When his money was nearly spent, he again purchased a fishing craft and nets, and resumed his former occupation. “Gentlemen,” says Mr. H., “would be closeted with my father, and the best china service was brought out for tea. I was never allowed to know what they talked about, but I have seen many a dozen golden guineas lay on the table, and then it was, Good

.

“ I can

night, Mr. H., it's all arranged,' and father would be away with his craft perhaps a week, fishing, I was told, but I was never allowed to go on those kind of fishing voyages. Mr. H. generally accompanied his father, when really engaged in fishing, for some years, and became well acquainted with the river, from Battersea to the Nore. count up eighteen dead bodies we have picked up," said he, “sometimes in the net; father used to search them, and then we took them ashore and buried them.” He does not appear to have received any religious instruction whatever from his father, but to have been initiated into much vice. His father appears to have placed more faith in a child's caul, which he wore upon him in foul weather, than in aught Divine. At last, perhaps to please the step-mother, he turned his child away. Edward appears to have been little loth to depart, tired of ill usage. “I had an aunt,” said he,“ poor woman, who sometimes gave me good advice," (I forget whether he said she was in a workhouse.)

She would say, 'Edward, my lad, whatever you do, keep your hands from what dont belong to you.' After being turned adrift by his father at the tender age of fourteen, he wandered about, associating with bad characters, lying in the parks part of the day, sleeping sometimes in a bed, when he could raise the pence to pay for it, but frequently under the fruit shambles in Covent Garden market.

About this time he was very near coming to be hanged. He became acquainted with two dissolute youths, one was apprenticed to an uncle, a silversmith in St. Martin's Lane. A burglary was planned as they lay on the grass in St. James's Park. “It was all to be done so easy,” said Mr. H., “and my share was to be so large, that

a

66

a

[ocr errors]

I was nearly drawn into it--the temptation was so strong upon me--but my aunt's words seemed to come into my mind, and a kind of terror came upon me, so that I did not go.” The burglary was committed, the burglars detected, and one, a boy like himself, (he was now about seventeen,) was hung, and the nephew transported. “It was shocking to see what quantities of people was hung in those days," said Mr. H., “mere boys.”

This acted as a caution to my poor friend respecting common honesty, which he never forgot. He, however, pursued the same vagabond kind of life, sometimes raising a meal's victuals in very odd ways, and sometimes destitute of food or bed. After this he went out as a mariner to China, and met with some strange incidents of travel, wallowing also in much sin. Returning home, he became

. a coalheaver, an occupation which formerly enabled men to earn considerable wages by great exertion, and in a short space of time. He would then attend prize fights, bear and bull baits, cock, rat, and badger pits, the theatres, etc., and drink, and waste his money, and then return to his work, when, as it is expressed, “stumped out.”

Mr. H. was a great drunkard and swearer, and, to use his own expression, “set the Almighty at defiance in a manner it's horrid to think on." Such outrageous ways might be expected to bring premature decay, even on a good constitution.

Working beyond his strength at the coalheaving, fulfilling inordinate task-work to raise money for debauchery, having laid about for many years previously on the ground, exposed to damps, at last Mr. H. received a bodily affliction so as to be unable to continue his occupation, and was reduced to beggary. His former companion having died, he then cohabited

with another woman, and they traversed the country for years, as what are called tramps, selling matches, laces; sleeping in barns, outhouses, etc.; and subsisting by cadging, or begging, rather than by the sale of wares. During the winter he hired a room in a court upon my district, and lived there when I was appointed to the district.

To use his own expression, "Before I was visited and instructed, I knew no more than a horse or a cow.”

Mr. H. has now long been a member of a Christian church and a communicant, and is of course lawfully married to the person who is now his companion. He has taught himself to read and to write in his old age, and copies out portions of the Scriptures. He is a man of faith and prayer, possesses a "good hope through grace,” and his language breathes a grateful testimony to the goodness of that Saviour, who, as he says, " has preserved him in a many ways,

,

“ blessed be His name !

The next case is a shadow to this sunbeam, but mercy, it will be seen, shone through the cloud. Those who make light of religious or moral obligations upon which they have entered, frequently present awful warnings to the world, that the Almighty is not to be trifled with :

The

's have long resided on my district. The father, but especially the mother, were formerly drunkards, Mrs. was a great drunkard, and their destitution, in consequence of the excesses of both, was very great. At length a brighter ray broke upon their history--they happily became interested in the total abstinence movement, and both signed the pledge. A striking improvement soon became visible. They raised a comfortable home around them, and for some years were strictly sober. Both belonged to benefit clubs connected with the temperance movement.

An inundation from the Fleet Ditch happened in this neighbourhood, and a number of houses were saturated with water. Mr. became wet through in cleaning his goods after this flood had subsided, and remaining in his wet clothes, laid the foundation of a rheumatic disorder, which prevented his following his employment (that of selling fish in the streets) for many months. He had, however, a comfortable provision from his club during the whole of his long illness; and it was a pleasure to me to see this poor man sitting by his own fireside, when able to sit up, with his hymn-book in hand, his wife busily engaged with her employment, the brush business, and the whole family comfortably provided for, although the father was unable to work. They were indeed reaping the benefits of temperance. Neither, however, I have reason to believe, were truly converted Christians, although staunch teetotallers. In the conversations I have held with them, I could not but observe this with sorrow. They were very hopeful characters, but they did not possess the spiritual experience of the children of God. Reliance on self was not extinguished.

A moment of temptation came, which they had

« PreviousContinue »