« ForrigeFortsæt »
rustic neighbourhood, as scrivener, writing out petitions, deeds of conveyance, wills, covenants, etc. with pecuniary gain to himself, and to the great benefit of his employers. These labours (at all times considerable) at one period of the year, viz. between Christmas and Candlemas, when money transactions are settled in this country, were often so intense, that he passed great part of the night, and sometimes whole nights, at his desk. His garden also was tilled by his own hand; he had a right of pasturage upon the mountains for a few sheep and a couple of cows, which required his attend
his family, for this gratification; as the treat could only be provided by dressing at one time the whole, perhaps, of their weekly allowance of fresh animal food; consequently, for a succession of days, the table was covered with cold victuals only. His generosity in old age may be still further illustrated by a little circumstance relating to an orphan grandson, then ten years of age, which I find in a copy of a letter to one of his sons; he requests that half-a-guinea may be left for «little Robert's pocket-money,» who was then at school; entrusting it to the care of a lady, who, as he says, « may sometimes frustrate his squandering it away foolishly,» and pro-ance; with this pastoral occupation, he joined the mising to send him an equal allowance annually for the same purpose. The conclusion of the same letter is so characteristic, that I cannot forbear to transcribe it. We, meaning his wife and himself, «are in our wonted state of health, allowing for the hasty strides of old age knocking daily at our door, and threateningly telling us, we are not only mortal, but must expect ere long to take our leave of our ancient cottage, and lie down in our last dormitory. Pray pardon my neglect to answer yours: let us hear sooner from you, to augment the mirth of the Christmas holidays. Wishing you all the pleasures of the approaching season, I am, dear Son, with lasting sincerity, yours affectionately, <«<ROBERT WALKER.»
He loved old customs and usages, and in some instances stuck to them to his own loss; for, having had a sum of money lodged in the hands of a neighbouring tradesman, when long course of time had raised the rate of interest, and more was offered, he refused to accept it; an act not difficult to one, who, while he was drawing seventeen pounds a year from his curacy, declined, as we have seen, to add the profits of another small benefice to his own, lest he should be suspected of cupidity. From this vice he was utterly free; he made no charge for teaching school; such as could afford to pay, gave him what they pleased. When very young, having kept a diary of his expenses, however trifling, the large amount, at the end of the year, surprised him; and from that time the rule of his life was to be economical, not avaricious. At his decease he left behind him no less a sum than 2000l. ; and such a sense of his various excellences was prevalent in the country, that the epithet of WONDERFUL is to this day attached to his name.
There is in the above sketch something so extraordinary as to require further explanatory details.—And to begin with his industry; eight hours in each day, during five days in the week, and half of Saturday, except when the labours of husbandry were urgent, he was occupied in teaching. His seat was within the rails of the altar; the communion-table was his desk; and, like Shenstone's schoolmistress, the master employed himself at the spinning-wheel, while the children were repeating their lessons by his side. Every evening, after school hours, if not more profitably engaged, he continued the same kind of labour, exchanging, for the benefit of exercise, the small wheel, at which he had sate, for the large one on which wool is spun, the spinner stepping to and fro. Thus, was the wheel constantly in readiness to prevent the waste of a moment's time. Nor was his industry with the pen, when occasion called for it, less eager. Entrusted with extensive management of public and private affairs, he acted, in his
labours of husbandry upon a small scale, renting two or three acres in addition to his own less than one acre of glebe; and the humblest drudgery which the cultvation of these fields required was performed by himself.
He also assisted his neighbours in hay-making and shearing their flocks, and in the performance of this latter service he was eminently dexterous. They, in their turn, complimented him with the present of a haycock, or a fleece; less as a recompense for this particular service than as a general acknowledgment. The Sabbath was in a strict sense kept holy; the Sunday evenings being devoted to reading the Scripture and family prayer. The principal festivals appointed by the Church were also duly observed; but through every other day in the week, through every week in the year, he was incessantly occupied in work of hand or mind; not allowing a moment for recreation, except upon a Saturday afternoon, when he indulged himself with a Newspaper, or sometimes with a Magazine. The frugality and temperance established in his house, were as admirable as the industry. Nothing to which the name of luxury could be given was there known; in the latter part of his life, indeed, when tea had been brought into almost general use, it was provided for visitors, and for such of his own family as returned occasionally to his roof, and had been accustomed to this refreshment elsewhere; but neither he nor his wife ever partook of it. The raiment worn by his family was comely and decent, but as simple as their diet; the home-spun materials were made up into apparel by their own hands. At the time of the decease of this thrifty pair, their cottage contained a large store of webs of woollen and linen cloth, woven from thread of their own spinning. And it is remarkable that the pew in the chapel in which the family used to sit, remained a few years ago neatly lined with woollen cloth spun by the pastor's own hands. It is the only pew in the chapel so distinguished; and I know of no other instance of his conformity to the delicate accommodations of modern times. The fuel of the house, like that of their neighbours, consisted of peat, procured from the mosses by their own labour. The lights by which, in the winter evenings, their work was performed, were of their own manufacture, such as still continue to be used in these cottages; they are made of the pith of rushes dipped in any unctuous substance that the house affords. White candles, as tallow candles are here called, were reserved to honour the Christmas festivals, and were perhaps produced upon no other occasions. Once a month, during the proper season, a sheep was drawn from their small mountain flock, and killed for the use of the family; and a cow towards the close of the year, was! salted and dried, for winter provision: the hide was
tanned to furnish them with shoes. By these various from the following memorandum by one of his de- ¦ resources, this venerable clergyman reared a numerous family, not only preserving them, as he affectingly says, << from wanting the necessaries of life;» but afforded them an unstinted education, and the means of raising themselves in society.
It might have been concluded that no one could thus, as it were, have converted his body into a machine of industry for the humblest uses, and kept his thoughts so frequently bent upon secular concerns, without grievous injury to the more precious parts of his nature. How could the powers of intellect thrive, or its graces be displayed, in the midst of circumstances apparently so unfavourable, and where, to the direct cultivation of the mind, so small a portion of time was allotted? But, in this extraordinary man, things in their nature adverse were reconciled; his conversation was remarkable, not only for being chaste and pure, but for the degree in which it was fervent and eloquent; his written style was correct, simple, and animated. Nor did his affections suffer more than his intellect; he was tenderly alive to all the duties of his pastoral office: the poor and needy « he never sent empty away,»the stranger was fed and refreshed in passing that unfrequented vale,—the sick were visited; and the feelings of humanity found further exercise among the distresses and embarrassments in the worldly estate of his neighbours, with which his talents for business made him acquainted; and the disinterestedness, impartiality, and uprightness which he maintained in the management of all affairs confided to him, were virtues seldom separated in his own conscience from religious obligations. Nor could such conduct fail to remind those who witnessed it of a spirit nobler than law or custom: they felt convictions which, but for such intercourse, could not have been afforded, that, as in the practice of their pastor, there was no guile, so in his faith there was nothing hollow; and we are warranted in believing, that upon these occasions, selfishness, obstinacy, and discord would often give way before the breathings of his good-will and saintly integrity. It may be presumed also, while his humble congregation were listening to the moral precepts which he delivered from the pulpit, and to the Christian exhortations that they should love their neighbour as themselves, and do as they would be done unto, that peculiar efficacy was given to the preacher's labours by recollections in the minds of his congregation, that they were called upon to do no more than his own actions were daily setting before their eyes. The afternoon service in the chapel was less numerously attended than that of the morning, but by a more serious auditory; the lesson from the New Testament, on those occasions, was accompanied by Burkitt's Commentaries. These lessons he read with impassion-, ed emphasis, frequently drawing tears from his hearers, and leaving a lasting impression upon their minds. His devotional feelings and the powers of his own mind were further exercised, along with those of his family, in perusing the Scriptures; not only on the Sunday evenings, but on every other evening, while the rest of the household were at work, some one of the children, : and in her turn the servant, for the sake of practice in reading, or for instruction, read the Bible aloud; and in this manner the whole was repeatedly gone through. That no common importance was attached to the observance of religious ordinances by his family, appears
scendants, which I am tempted to insert at length, as it is characteristic, and somewhat curious. «There is a small chapel in the county palatine of Lancaster, where a certain clergyman has regularly officiated above sixty years, and a few months ago administered the sacrament of the Lord's Supper in the same, to a decent number of devout communicants. After the clergyman had received himself, the first company out of the assembly who approached the altar, and kneeled down to be partakers of the sacred elements, consisted of the parson's wife, to whom he had been married upwards of sixty years: one son and his wife; four daughters, each with her husband; whose ages, all added together, amount to above 714 years. The several and respective distances from the place of each of their abodes to the chapel where they all communicated, will measure more than 1000 English miles. Though the narration will appear surprising, it is without doubt a fact that the same persons, exactly four years before, met at the same place, and all joined in performance of the same venerable duty.>>
He was indeed most zealously attached to the doctrine and frame of the Established Church. We have seen him congratulating himself that he had no dissenters in his cure of any denomination. Some allowance must be made for the state of opinion when lus first religious impressions were received, before the reader will acquit him of bigotry, when I mention, that at the time of the augmentation of the cure, he refused to invest part of the money in the purchase of an estate offered to him upon advantageous terms, because the proprietor was a Quaker; whether from scrupulous apprehension that a blessing would not attend a contract framed for the benefit of the Church between persons not in religious sympathy with each other; or, as a seeker of peace, he was afraid of the uncomplying disposition which at one time was too frequently conspicuous in that sect. Of this an instance had fallen under his own notice; for, while he taught school at Loweswater, certain persons of that denomination had refused to pay annual interest due under the title of Church-stock; a great hardship upon the incumbent, for the curacy of Loweswater was then scarcely less poor than that of Seathwaite. To what degree this prejudice of his was blameable need not be determined;-certain it is, that he was not only desirous, as he himself says, to live in peace, but in love, with all men. He was placable, and charitable in his judgments; and, however correct in conduct and rigorous to himself, he was ever ready to forgive the trespasses of others, and to soften the censure that was cast upon their frailties.--It would be unpardonable to omit that, in the maintenance of his virtues, he received due support from the Partner of his long life. She was equally strict in attending to her share of their joint cares, nor less diligent in her appro- i priate occupations. A person who had been some time their servant in the latter part of their lives, concluded the panegyric of her mistress by saying to me, «sbe was no less excellent than her husband; she was good to the poor, she was good to every thing! » vived for a short time this virtuous companion. When she died, he ordered that her body should be borne to
Mr Walker's charity being of that kind which a seeketh not her own, he would rather forego his rights than distrain for dues which the parties liable refused to pay as a point of conscience.
the grave by three of her daughters and one granddaughter; and, when the corpse was lifted from the threshold, he insisted upon lending his aid, and feeling about, for he was theu almost blind, took hold of a napkin fixed to the coffin; and, as a bearer of the body, entered the Chapel, a few steps from the lowly Par
What a contrast does the life of this obscurely-seated, and, in point of worldly wealth, poorly-repaid Churchman, present to that of a Cardinal Wolsey!
O't is a burthen, Cromwell, 't is a burthen,
<< This Curacy was twice augmented by Queen Anne's bounty. The first payment, with great difficulty, was paid to Mr John Curwen of London, on the 9th of May, 1724, deposited by me, Henry Forest, Curate of Loweswater. Ye said 9th of May, ye said Mr. Curwen went to the office and saw my name registered there, etc. This, by the Providence of God, came by lot to this pcor place.
Hæc testor H. FOREST.>>
In another place he records, that the sycamore trees were planted in the church-yard in 1710.
He died in 1741, having been curate thirty-four years. It is not improbable that II. Forest was the gentleman who assisted Robert Walker in his classical studies at Loweswater.
To this parish-register is prefixed a motto, of which the following verses are a part.
Invigilate viri, tacito nam tempora gressu
We have been dwelling upon images of peace in the moral world, that have brought us again to the quiet enclosure of consecrated ground, in which this venerable pair lie interred. The sounding brook, that rolls close by the church-yard, without disturbing feeling or meditation, is now unfortunately laid bare; but not long ago it participated, with the chapel, the shade of some stately ash-trees, which will not spring again. While the spectator from this spot is looking round upon the girdle of stony mountains that encompasses the vale, masses of rock, out of which monuments for all men that ever existed might have been hewn, it would surprise him to be told, as with truth he might be, that the plain blue slab dedicated to the memory of this aged pair, is a production of a quarry in North Wales. It was sent as a mark of respect by one of their descen-able for being written in very early youth. dauts from the vale of Festiniog, a region almost as beautiful as that in which it now lies!
Upon the Seathwaite-Brook, at a small distance from the Parsonage, has been erected a mill for spinning yarn; it is a mean and disagreeable object, though not unimportant to the spectator, as calling to mind the momentous changes wrought by such inventions in the frame of society-changes which have proved especially I unfavourable to these mountain solitudes. So much had been effected by those new powers, before the subject of the preceding biographical sketch closed his life, that their operation could not escape his notice, and doubtless excited touching reflections upon the comparatively insignificant results of his own manual industry. But Robert Walker was not a man of times and circumstances; had he lived at a later period, the principle of duty would have produced application as unremitting; the same energy of character would have been displayed, though in many instances with widely-different effects.
With pleasure I annex, as illustrative and confirmatory of the above account, Extracts from a Paper in the Christian Remembrancer, October, 1819: it bears an assumed signature, but is known to be the work of the Rev. Robert Bamford, vicar of Bishopton, in the county of Durham; a great-grandson of Mr Walker, whose worth it commemorates, by a record not the less valu
«<llis house was a nursery of virtue. All the inmates were industrious, and cleanly, and happy. Sobriety, neatness, quietness, characterized the whole family. No railings, no idleness, no indulgence of passion, were permitted. Every child, however young, had its appointed engagements; every hand was busy. Knitting, spinning, reading, writing, mending clothes, making shoes, were by the different children constantly performing. The father himself sitting amongst them, and guiding their thoughts, was engaged in the same occupations.
«He sate up late, and rose early; when the family were at rest, he retired to a little room which he had built on the roof of his house. He had slated it, and fitted it up with shelves for his books, his stock of cloth, wearing apparel, and his utensils. There many a cold winter's night, without fire, while the roof was glazed with ice, did he remain reading or writing, till the day dawned. He taught the children in the chapel, for there was no school-house. Yet in that cold, damp place he Having mentioned in this narrative the vale of Lowes-never had a fire. He used to send the children in parwater as a place where Mr Walker taught school, I will add a few memoranda from its parish-register, respecting a person apparently of desires as moderate, with whom he must have been intimate during his residence there.
Let him that would, ascend the tottering seat
HENAT FOREST, Curate.
Honour, the idol which the most adore,
ties either to his own fire at home, or make them ruu
the mountain's side.
<< It may be further mentioned, that he was a passionate admirer of nature; she was his mother, and he was a dutiful child. While engaged on the mountains, it was his greatest pleasure to view the rising sun; and in tranquil evenings, as it slided behind the hills, he blessed its departure. He was skilled in fossils and plants; a constant observer of the stars and winds: the atmosphere was his delight. He made many experiments on its nature and properties. In summer he used to gather a multitude of flies and insects, and, by his entertaining description, amuse and instruct his children. They
Henry Forest came to Loweswater, 1708, being 25 years shared all his daily employments, and derived many senof age."
timents of love and benevolence from his observations on
the works and productions of nature. Whether they were following him in the field, or surrounding him in school, he took every opportunity of storing their minds with useful information.-Nor was the circle of his influence confined to Seathwaite. Many a distant mother has told her child of Mr Walker, and begged him to be as good a man.
<< Once, when I was very young, I had the pleasure of seeing and hearing that venerable old man in his goth year, and even then, the calmness, the force, the perspicuity of his sermon, sanctified and adorned by the wisdom of grey hairs, and the authority of virtue, had such an effect upon my mind, that I never see a hoaryheaded clergyman, without thinking of Mr Walker ***. He allowed no dissenter or methodist to interfere in the instruction of the souls committed to his cure: and so successful were his exertions, that he had not one dissenter of any denomination whatever in the whole parish. Though he avoided all religious controversies, yet when age had silvered his head, and virtuous piety had secured to his appearance reverence and silent honour, no one, however determined in his hatred of apostolic descent, could have listened to his discourse on ecclesiastical history, and ancient times, without thinking, that one of the beloved apostles had returned to mortality, and in that vale of peace had come to exemplify the
beauty of holiness in the life and character of Mr Walker.
« Until the sickness of his wife, a few months previous to her death, his health and spirits and faculties were unimpaired. But this misfortune gave him such a shock. that his constitution gradually decayed. His senses, except sight, still preserved their powers. He never preached with steadiness after his wife's death. His voice faltered: he always looked at the seat she had used.. He could not pass her tomb without tears. when alone, sad and melancholy, though still among his friends kind and good-humoured. He went to bed about 12 o'clock the night before his death. As his custom was, he went, tottering and leaning upon his daughter's arm, to examine the heavens, and meditate a few moments in the shines to night!" He said those words, sighed, and laid down. At six next morning he was found a corpse. Many a tear, and many a heavy heart, and many a grateful blessing followed him to the grave.»>
'How clear the moon
Note 3. Sonnet xxxiv.
We feel that we are greater than we know. And feel that I am happier than I know.-MILTOS. The allusion to the Greek Poet will be obvious to the classical reader.
She has a world of ready wealth,
One impulse from a vernal wood May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things: -We murder to dissect.
Enough of Science and of Art;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
WRITTEN IN GERMANY,
ON ONE OF THE COLDEST DAYS OF THE CENTURY.
The Reader must be apprised, that the Stoves in North Germany generally have the impression of a galloping Horse upon them, this being part of the Brunswick Arms.
A PLAGUE on your languages, German and Norse!
And the tongs and the poker, instead of that Horse
See that Fly, a disconsolate creature! perhaps
And, sorrow for him! the dull treacherous heat
Alas! how he fumbles about the domains
He cannot find out in what track he must crawl,'
Stock-still there he stands like a traveller bemazed; The best of his skill he has tried;
His feelers, methinks, I can see him put forth
Till summer comes up from the South, and with crowds Of thy brethren a march thou shouldst sound through the clouds,
And back to the forests again!
Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree, which stands near the Lake of Esthwaite, on a desolate Part of the Shore, commanding a beautiful Prospect.
NAY, Traveller! rest. This lonely Yew-tree stands
Who he was
That piled these stones, and with the mossy sod
Of lofty hopes, he to the world went forth
To the East and the West, to the South and the North; The beauty, still more beauteous! Nor, that time, But he finds neither Guide-post nor Guide.
How his spindles sink under him, foot, leg, and thigh;
Between life and death his blood freezes and thaws;
No Brother, no Mate has he near him-while I
As if green summer grass were the floor of my room,
Yet, God is my witness, thou small helpless Thing! Thy life I would gladly sustain
When nature had subdued him to herself,
Till his eye streamed with tears. In this deep vale
If Thou be one whose heart the holy forms
Of young imagination have kept pure,
Is littleness; that he who feels contempt