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a magistrate; but he was restrained likewise by another feeling, which operated also to prevent his taking, in his own parish, the office of churchwarden — an apprehension lest circumstances might continually arise in which he should be unable to do all that his oath would require of him, and he should thereby be tempted to force his conscience. Such a feeling is always deserving of respect. Yet it is much to be lamented when gentlemen well educated, well informed, and, perhaps, well versed in habits of business, decline those offices which, in common with their neighbours, fall to their lot, and leave the management of parochial matters to those who are, in almost every respect, their inferiors. Much good may be done, and some evil prevented, by the constant attendance of those whose rank or talents, or education, give them a right, if not to direct the councils of the parish, yet, at least, to be heard with attention and effect. But though Mr. Bowdler abstained, for the most part, from such interference, he was never an idle spectator of what was passing around him. His good offices were always ready when he thought they were needed. If a neighbour wanted advice or assistance he was at hand to offer it; if any important subject of discussion arose in the parish, he engaged actively in that which he conscientiously believed to be the side of truth and justice; if any more public matter arose, — if) for instance, at a contested election evil principles seemed likely to gain the ascendancy, he was on the alert to support the opposite party; not by loud harangues, or any display of his own zeal, but by useful effective measures, by steady attendance on a committee, or supplying the neglect of less industrious partizans. These were cases, however, of rare occurrence. One which more frequently presented itself was that of endeavouring to reconcile differences, and unite those who were at variance. Such cases, of course, cannot be mentioned more particularly, but when they arose he was wont on true principles to interpose and tender his good offices. To the wants of the poor in the parish wherein he resided he was uniformly attentive, particularly, in supplying those who had families with skimmed milk, and in assisting the women at the time of their confinement. At Christmas it was his uniform practice to give to every poor family a piece or two of beef, in proportion to their numbers, and as many potatoes as could easily be carried. In respect of money, it was a remark made by one who is not in the habit of speaking incorrectly, that he was the most liberal man he ever knew. In fact, his heart and hand were always open; in his contributions to societies he placed himself on a level with persons who had a much larger income than he at any time possessed; his charities to the poor were extensive; to his own family he was bountiful according to his means, or beyond them; and he seemed uneasy till he had found some mode of assisting any friend who was in distress. In this, however, as in every instance, his conduct was governed by strict principle: he would not consent to waste money even in charity; and his beneficence was sometimes accompanied by a word of admonition, which now and then, perhaps, rendered the gift less palatable, though it enhanced its real value. In regard to his personal expenses, Mr. Bowdler was rigidly economical,
i practising a rule which he frequently inculcated, "never to buy any thing which is not wanted, or which cannot be paid for." In truth, it was chiefly by demanding so little for his own expenses, that he was enabled to exercise charity so largely; for even in the latter years of his life his fortune was much smaller than would probably be imagined by those who witnessed his bounty, and heard him speak of the affluence which he enjoyed. During his residence at Hayes, his means were greatly contracted, and he was at last obliged to quit that place and seek a situation better suited to them. But his wants were few; he indulged in no unnecessary expense; he suffered no bills to remain unpaid; he kept strict and regular accounts; and, though he was obliged to deny his family the pleasure of mixing in society, and now and then to make some painful sacrifices, yet he never suffered himself to infringe the rule which he had laid down, of not owing a shilling at the year's end.
A time was now coming, in which the state and circumstances of this country were greatly changed; when we felt and trembled under the shock which had thrown down the altar and throne of France; when her arms laid waste the neighbouring states, and her principles, more dangerous than her arms, spread far and wide a noxious pestilence ; when our navy, and a large portion of our people, caught the infection, our resources seemed likely to fail, and want and distress to come fast upon us. It was "a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness." * The state of the country was then probably such as to cause greater fear for its safety than at any subsequent period.
Under these apprehensions Mr. Bowdler put forth a small pamphlet, entitled "Reform Or Ruin; Take your choice! In which the conduct of the King, the Parliament, the Ministry, the Opposition, the Nobility and Gentry, the Bishops and Clergy, &c. &c. &c. is considered; and That Reform Pointed Out which alone can save the Country."
In this pamphlet, after professing himself "a free-born Briton, and an independent man; who has no place or pension; who has never been at court, nor ever intends to go there; who knows neither the ministry, nor those who oppose them; but has a right to think and speak for himself, and will do so;" he proceeds to point out the disastrous
* Zeph. i. 15.
state of the country, and the remedy which is required, namely, "a thorough reform;" not such as had been proposed by some persons, a reform in parliament, or the lessening of the power of the crown, or abolishing tithes, or establishing a republic on the French plan, — all which schemes Mr. Bowdler discusses shortly, — but "A
THOROUGH REFORM OF PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES AMONG ALL RANKS OF PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THE KINGDOM."
"Let the king and queen," says he, "continue to set an example of piety, regularity, sobriety, and conjugal fidelity to their children, their servants, and all their subjects. Let them drive from their councils and their court all adulterers and adulteresses; all gamblers; all, in short, whose characters are notoriously bad, of either sex, and of every rank.
"Let them avoid even innocent amusements, if liable to produce immorality among others: which, alas! is too often the case.
'Oh hard condition, and twin-born with greatness!
"I can take my Sunday evening's walk, chat with my neighbours, and view the beauties of nature; and no harm done. But if my gracious sovereign could see but a small part of the confusion, idleness, drunkenness, disregard of the Sabbath, and other incalculable ill effects, which are produced not only in Windsor, Eton, and the whole neighbourhood, but even in his capital itself, by his merely ap