Sidor som bilder

After my father had lived some years with Mr. Mills, his future prospect was blasted, of what he was promised to have from him.

Mr. Mills was a man given to drinking, so that he had a mortgage of fifty pounds upon his estate ; and after that the man contrived to get Mr. Mills in liquor, and he got him to sign away the whole estate for fifty pounds. After Mr. Mills found what he had done he was like a madman, and used to cry over my father, and say, my dear boy, my dear child, I have ruined thee for ever! I should not so much lament my own loss, if it was not for your sake.” With his excess of sorrow he gave himself up to drinking, and did not live long after ; but he spent all he had before he died. Then my father was Jeft as an orphan in the world, having no friend or relation to assist him, as the captain that married my grandmother had spent all her property, so that she could not do anything for my father, and he was brought up to farming with his uncle, and in that capacity he went as a servant.

Now I shall return to my father's brother John. He was brought up by a relation of his mother's ; and he was mate of a ship; but before they were grown up young men, their father's brother in Hertfordshire died; and no one ever looked after the property, for the children. My father's brother was a remarkably religious young man ; and the last time he went to sea he took an affectionate leave of my father, and said, “ my dear brother, I hope we shall meet in a better world! I don't believe I shall ever see you more in this.” When he was coming home he wrote a letter to his mother, that he should take a ship for London, as he intended to go to Hertfordshire, to seek for his father's relation, to find out the property. She sent him a letter immediately, that she had been greatly troubled in dreams about him, that he was 95 drowned, and desired he would come in a ship to Topsham, which he complied with. The captain discovering another ship many leagues before him, said he would be in Topsham before her ; and, in order to effect it, he steered his ship a nearer course, and she running on a rock was dashed to pieces; all the crew, except one man, went to the bottom, who saved himself on a broken plank, and was picked up by another vessel passing by. On his arrival to Topsham he related the circumstance of the ship's perishing, as above described. Here was his end, according to his own predictions, and his mother's dream.

Now I shall return to my father. When he was about one-and-twenty he married, and took a farm: his wife died in child-bed ; his second wife was my mother, daughter of Mr. Godfrey, who was a very respectable farmer in Ortery St. Mary, and of very religious parents. After they married, my father took a large farm at Exmouth, where he got acquainted with an attorney, whose name was Southcott; and in some law-business that my father was called to as a witness, one of the gentlemen spoke rather affrontingly to my father. Mr. Southcott rose up, and spoke very warmly, and said he would not see my father abused; for he was of as good a family as he, or either gentleman present ; and was the first of the family that had ever known what it was to work, and the estate that belonged to my father had been in possession of the family for seven generations; and told my father, if he would go to London, and prove his grandfather's will he would get him the estate for five pounds. But this was in the time of war, when pressing was great both for landsmen and seamen, and my father was afraid he should be pressed, and therefore wished to defer it. Before the war was over Mr. Southcott died, and my father gave up all

[ocr errors]

thoughts of seeking after his estate, and thought his own hands should support him; but he launched into business at a very bad time for farmers wheat being sold at two shillings and threepence a bushel, barley for fourteen pence, oats for seven pence, and butter for threepence per pound, cheese for a penny. So that the expense of the labour in many things was more than the increase paid; for, I have heard my father and mother say, many years they have lost fifty pounds a year by renting the estate, though my father was allowed by every one to be as good a husbandman as ever ploughed an acre of ground; and a more industrious couple could never come together; and yet still they had difficulties to go through in the beginning, which they both bore with courage and fortitude.

When the term was out, of the seven years, my mother's father died; and then they took the farm at Tarford, that he had rented, and where I was born in the year 1750. In that farm they did exceedingly well, and my father managed it so well, that he said he should get fifty pounds a year by fenting; but as soon as he had broke up the furze, brakes, and the barren ground, and brought it into good pasture, there was a neighbour of my, father's who coveted the farm, when he saw to what a flourishing state my father had brought it. This man, whose name was Anley, went to Mr. Brooks, my father's landlord, and asked him, if 'he did not want money sometimes? He said, yes, he did. He asked if my father kept up his rent close? He said, pretty well; but not always so close as he could wish. Anley answered, if you let his rent go behind, and turn him out, I will pay the rent before it is due, and you may have a twelvemonth's rent before it is due, if you like. Mr. Brooks was pleased with this offer; and as my father had laid out so much money in improving 97 the farm, thinking he should enjoy the fruits of his labour afterwards, which would have paid him double in a short time; but doing all this, he had not his rent always ready at the time; and Mr. Brooks contrived a way to prevent his paying it, by doing what appeared at first a very kind act. On a market day, as my father was driving a flock of sheep to Exeter market, on purpose to sell them, to pay Mr. Brooks his rent at Midsummer, he overtook him, and asked if he was going to sell his sheep; and whether he would not sell them at a disadvantage at that time? My father said, “I must sell them, sir, to get your honour the rent." He said, “never mind that, I will wait; if it be a bad market, don't sell them.” My father thanked him, and said he should not, if it was a very bad market; and finding it was so, he drove the sheep home again, and did not get his rent ready in August. In the midst of the harvest, when my father was reaping, to his astonishment, Mr. Brooks had put two bailiffs into the house, to seize for the half-year's rent; and he did not owe him three quarters till Michaelmas. My mother went to Fair-inile, to Mr. Channon's, to borrow some money; he came immediately, and told Mr. Brooks what an ungrateful; wicked thing he had done, after my father had bestowed so much money in improving his farm, for him to distress him, when he owed him only a half-year's rent, and said, “ if you are afraid to trust the farmer, I am not,” and paid down the money directly. This cruel conduct of Mr. Brooks provoked my father to very great anger, so that words rose high on both sides; and Mr. Brooks wanted to make a different covenant, which my father said he would

never sign; and as many gentlemen went to my · father and offered him their

farms, and he thought he should get another as good as that was, here


my father's passion got the better of his reason; as he gave warning to quit the farm on the following Lady-day, and left all his labour for an enemy to reap the benefit of it. But here my father saw his folly too late, in giving way to the violence of his passion and anger; for when he went to the gentlemen to apply for the farms, which they had offered him, they applied to Mr. Brooks to inquire his character. Mr. Brooks said he was poor but honest. They said that would not do, if he had not money to make the best of his farm. So, when Lady-day came, he was obliged to sell off part of his stock, and took a small farm at Gettisham, where the ground had been so impoverished for the want of dressing, that the first year they could not make the rent of the place. But all this my father bore with manly courage and fortitude. He was a hard-working, industrious man himself, and had a partner in my mother that joined with him; and all his family he brought up to the same industry.

But now comes the awful scene, when all his courage and fortitude left him, that he said his · troubles were greater than he could bear. After living eighteen years in this farm, my mother died, and my sister kept his house. Å farmer's son, who lived near my father, paid his addresses to my sister. He was a man of good property; and after keeping company with her for some years, he used every art to seduce her, which she resisted; but by the violence of his conduct, my father was obliged to have recourse to the law; and my sister went down into the west country, to another sister, who was married and settled there; then I went home and kept house for my father. The disappointed malice of the man directly turned against my father, and he sought every way to ruin him. His stock

his farm died in an extraordinary manner; but I cannot


« FöregåendeFortsätt »