« PreviousContinue »
HISTORY OF MR.F
HISTORY OF MR. FANTOM. 51 ferved, that he was not fond of jokes, and proceeded to read the letter. It expressed an earnest wish that his late master would condescend to pay him one visit in his dark and doleful abode; as he wished to say a few words to him, before the dreadful sentence of the law, which had already been pronounced, should be executed.
"Let us go and see the poor fellow," said Trueman; “it is but a morning's " ride. If he is really so near his end it 6 would be cruel to refuse him.”_" Not “ I truly;" said Fantom; “ he deserves “ nothing at my hands but the halter he is ► likely to meet with.-Such port is not “ to be had for money! and the spoons, “ part of my new dozen !”_" As to the of wine," said Trueman, “ Į am afraid “you must give that up, but the only “ way to get any tidings of the spoons is “ to go and hear what he has to say ; “ I have no doubt but he will make such a confession as may be rery useful to
“ others, which, you know, is one grand " advantage of punishments; and, besides, “ we may afford him fome little comfort.”
" As to comfort, he deserves none from 6 me," said Fantom; " and as to his “confessions, they can be of no use to me, " but as they give me a chance of getting “ my spoons; so I do not much care if I “ do take a ride with you.”
When they came to the prison Mr. Trueman's tender heart funk within him. He deplored the corrupt nature of man, which makes such rigorous confinement indispensably needful, not merely for the punishment of the offender, but for the fafety of society. Fantom, from mere trick and habit, was just preparing a speech on general benevolence, and the cruelty of imprisonment: for he had a set of sentiments collected from the new philofophy which he always kept by him. The nam. ing a man in power brought out the ready cut and dried phrases against oppression. The idea of rank included every
vice, that of poverty every virtue; and he was furnished with all the invectives against the cruelty of laws, punishments, and prisons, which the new lexicon has produced. But his mechanical benevolence was suddenly checked; the recol. lection of his old port and his new spoons cooled his ardour, and he went on without saying a word. We
When they reached the cell where the unhappy William was confined, they stopped at the door. The poor wretch had thrown himself on the ground, as well as his chains would permit. · He groaned piteously; and was so swal. lowed up with a sense of his own miseries, that he neither heard the door open, nor saw the gentlemen. He was attempting to pray, but in an agony which made his words hardly intelligible. Thus much they could make out" God be merciful “ to me a finner, the chief of sinners !" then, suddenly attempting to start up, but prevented by his irons, he roared out,
E 3 . "O God!
“ O God! thou canst not be merciful to “ me, for I have denied thee; I have ridi. “culed my Saviour who died for me; I “ have broken his laws; I have derided “ his word; I have resisted his fpirit; I 6 have laughed at that heaven which is “ fhut against nie; I have denied the truth “ of those torments which await me. To“ morrow! to-morrow! O for a longer “ space for repentance ! O for a short re“ prieve from hell !"
Mr. Trueman wept fo loud that it drew the attention of the criminal, who now lifted up his eyes, and cast on his laté master a look fo dreadful, that Fantom wished for a moment that he had given up all hope of the spoons, rather than have exposed himself to such a scene. At length the poor wretch said, in a voice that would have melted a heart of stone ? 6.0, Sir, 66 are you there? I did indeed wilh to 6 see you before my dreadful sentence is “ put in execution. Oh, Sir! to-morrow! .66 to-morrow! But I have a confession to 13
“make to you.” This revived Mr. Fantom, who again ventured to glance a hope at the spoons. “ Sir," said William, “ I could not die without making my con« fession."-" Aye, and restitution too, I 6 hope,” replied Fantom. 6 where are “ my spoons ?”-“Sir, they are gone with « the rest of my wretched booty. But “ oh, Sir! those spoons make so petty an' « article in my black account, that I hardly " think of them. Murder! Sir, murder is “ the crime for which I am justly doomed o to die. Oh, Sir! who can abide the “ anger of an offended God? Who can “ dwell with everlasting burnings ?” As this was a question which even a philosopher could not answer, Mr. Fantom was going to steal off, especially as he now gave up all hope of the spoons; but Wil. liam called him back: “Stay, Sir, stay, “ I conjure you, as you will anfwer it at " the bar of God. You must hear the 6 fins of which you have been the occa“fion. You are the cause of my being .