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Richardson published nothing, we believe, after his “Sir Charles Grandison;' but it is important to notice, that his literary labours did not interfere with his attention to business, or impede his commercial success. In 1754 we find him chosen Master of the Stationers' Company; and some years after he purchased half of the patent of king's printer. He had by this time, indeed, amassed a respectable fortune, which enabled him to indulge himself with the luxury of a country residence, where he spent the latter part of his life in the society of his friends, and the enjoy ment of the public admiration which his writings had procured for him. He died in the year 1761, at the age of seventy-two.
Booksellers and Printers continued. W. Hutton; R. Dodsley; Afmon; Cruden; the Panckouckes; Rothscholtz; Bagford; Ames; Herbert; Patterson.—Literary Pursuits in other Trades. Walton; Defoe; Lillo.
WILLIAM Hutton was born in 1723, in the town of Derby, where his father was a working woolcomber, burdened with a large family, for whom his utmost exertions scarcely sufficed to procure subsistence. “My poor mother,” says his son in the interesting account he has left of his life, “more than once, one infant on her knee, and a few more hanging about her, have all fasted a whole day; and when food arrived, she has suffered them with a tear to take her share.” Of his mother Hutton always retained the tenderest recollection. After a long endurance of this struggle, she died when he was only in his tenth year, and he and his brothers and sisters were left to the charge of their father, who, now become almost reckless from continued misfortune, and loosened as it were from his chief stay, soon made matters worse than ever by taking to the alehouse, and often literally leaving his children to the mere mercies of chance. “At one time,” says Hutton, “I fasted from breakfast one day till noon the next, and even then dined upon only flour and water boiled into a hasty-pudding.” His father appears to have been a man of a strong understanding, but of violent passions, over which he had little command, Notwithstanding his own dissoluteness, he was a despotic disciplinarian in regard to his children, and was wont to correct their slightest faults with terrible severity.
In the midst of all this misery their education could scarcely fail to be but indifferently attended to. In fact, even if they had been kept at school, the instructions they received there could have availed little against such utter domestic neglect. The schoolmaster can seldom do much if he has not an auxiliary at home. William tells us that he was sent, when five years old, to a “Mr. Thomas Meat, of harsh memory, who often,” he adds, “took occasion to beat my head against the wall, holding it by the hair, but never could beat any learning into it; I hated all books but those of pictures.” He continued his attendance, however, for about two years, when he was taken away, and, although only a child of seven years old, sent to work at a silk mill.
Tender as was the age of many of his companions here, he was the youngest and least of them all; being indeed too short to reach the engine, in consequence of which a pair of high pattens was fixed on his feet by the superintendents, which he dragged about with him for a year. He gives a melancholy account of his sufferings in this situation. “I had now," says he, (and the reader will remember what a mere child he still was,) “to rise at five every morning during seven years; submit to the came whenever convenient to the master; be the constant companion of the most rude and vulgar of the human race, never taught by nature, nor ever wishing to be taught.” His master at last, he tells us, having on one occasion made a wound on his back while beating him, struck it, in administering a succeeding punishment, with the point of his cane, which brought it into such a state, that a mortification was apprehended.
He arrived at the close of this weary bondage in his fourteenth year, when he was bound apprentice again for seven years more to a brother of his father, a stocking-weaver at Nottingham. This person, though a man of regular habits of life, and kept pretty much in awe by a wife, who, on pretence of enforcing the duty of temperate living, halfstarved both him and his apprentices, seems to have had naturally not a little of the violent and tyrannical disposition of his family, which would occasionally break out in an unaccountable storm. His nephew, now a youth of seventeen, and beginning to be conscious of approaching manhood, had been about three years in his house, when, having one day failed in finishing a piece of work he had been set to, he was first scolded by his uncle for his neglect, and then beaten by the enraged man with merciless severity. The disgrace was too much for him to forget. He watched his opportunity, and fled from the house, taking with him his clothes in a bundle, and two shillings from a larger sum which he found in his uncle's desk, being without another penny in the world. His own tale of this forlorn adventure is interesting and pathetic in the extreme. The first night he slept in the fields. The whole of the next day he continued his wanderings, scarcely knowing in what direction, and almost utterly without object or hope. “Arriving the same evening,” the narrative then proceeds, “within the precincts of Lichfield, I approached a barn, where I intended to lodge; but finding the door shut, I opened my parcels in the fields, dressed, hid my bags near a hedge, and took a view of the city for about two hours, though very sore-footed. Returning to the spot about nine, I undressed, bagged up my things in decent order, and prepared for rest; but, alas! I had a bed to seek. About a stone's cast from the place stood another barn, which perhaps might furnish me with a lodging. I thought it needless to take the bags while I examined the place, as my stay would be
very short. The second barn yielding no relief, I returned in about ten minutes. But what was my surprise when I perceived the bags were gone ! Terror seized me. I roared after the rascal, but might as well have been silent, for thieves seldom come at a call. Running, raving, and lamenting, about the fields and roads, employed some time. I was too much immersed in distress to find relief in tears. They refused to flow. I described the bags, and told the affair to all I met. I found pity, or seeming pity, from all, but redress from . none. I saw my hearers dwindle with the twilight; and, by eleven o'clock, I found myself in the open street, left to tell my mournful tale to the silent night.
“It is not easy to place a human being in a more distressed situation. My finances were nothing; a stranger to the world, and the world to me; no employ, nor likely to procure any; no food to eat, or place of rest; all the little property I had upon earth taken from me; nay, even hope, that last and constant friend of the unfortunate, forsook me. I was in a more wretched condition than he who has nothing to lose. An eye may roll over these lines when the heart that writes them shall be still. May that eye move without a tear! I sought repose in the street upon a butcher's block.”
Next day he resumed his wanderings, and appeasing his hunger chiefly from the turnip-fields by the way side, at length reached Birmingham. But we need not pursue the story further. The catastrophe was what might have been expected. He resolved at last, in his utter desolation, to throw himself upon the protection of his father: and the affair ended, within less than a week after his flight, in his return to his uncle's house, and the ratification of a treaty of mutual forgiveness and forgetfulness by all parties.