Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE BOROUGH.

LETTER XIII.

THE ALMS-HOUSE AND TRUSTEES.

Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame.

There are a sort of men whose visages
Do cream and mantle like a standing pool,
And do'a wilful stillness entertain,
With purpose to be dress'd in an opinion;
As who should say, 66 I am Sir Oracle,
“ And when I ope my lips let no dog bark.”

Merchant of Venice.

Sum felix ; quis enim neget? felixque manebo ;
Hoc quoque quis dubitet ? Tutum me copia fecit.

The frugal Merchant-Rivalship in Modes of Frugality

Private Exceptions to the general Manners—Alms-House
built-Its Description-Founder dies-Six Trustees-
Sir Denys Brand, a Principal-His Eulogium in the
Chronicles of the Day—Truth reckoned invidious on these
Occasions—An Explanation of the Magnanimity and
Wisdom of Sir Denys-His Kinds of Moderation and
Humility-Laughton, his Successor, a planning, ambi-
tious, wealthy Man—Advancement in Life his perpetual
Object, and all Things made the Means of it-His Idea of
Falsehood—His Resentment dangerous: how removed
Success produces Love of Flattery: his daily Gratification
-His Merits and Acts of Kindness-His

Choice of Alms-Men-In this Respect meritorious-His Predecessor not so cautious.

proper

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

THE BOROUGH.

LETTER XIII.

THE ALMS-HOUSE AND TRUSTEES.

LEAVE now our streets, and in yon plain behold
Those pleasant seats for the reduced and old ;
A merchant's gift, whose wife and children died,
When he to saving all his powers applied ;
He wore his coat till bare was every thread,
And with the meanest fare his body fed.
He had a female cousin, who with care
Walk'd in his steps and learn'd of him to spare ;
With emulation and success they strove,
Improving still, still seeking to improve,
As if that useful knowledge they would gain-
How little food would human life sustain:
No pauper came their table's crums to crave;
Scraping they lived, but not a scrap they gave:
When beggars saw the frugal merchant pass,
It moved their pity, and they said, “ Alas !

[ocr errors]

“ Hard is thy fate, my brother,” and they felt
A beggar's pride as they that pity dealt:
The dogs, who learn of man to scorn the

poor,
Bark'd him away from ev'ry decent door;
While they.who saw him bare, but thought him rich,
To show respect or scorn, they knew not which.

But while our merchant seem'd so base and mean, He had his wanderings, sometimes, “ not unseen;" To give in secret was a favourite act, Yet more than once they took him in the fact : To scenes of various wo he nightly went, And serious sums in healing misery spent ; Oft has he cheer'd the wretched, at a rate For which he daily might have dined on plate; He has been seen-his hair all silver-white, Shaking and shining—as he stole by night, To feed unenvied on his still delight. A two-fold taste he had ; to give and spare, Both were his duties, and had equal care ; It was his joy, to sit alone and fast, Then send a widow and her boys repast : Tears in his eyes would, spite of him, appear, But he from other eyes has kept the tear: All in a wint’ry night from far he came, To soothe the sorrows of a suff'ring dame; Whose husband robb’d him, and to whom he meant A lingʻring, but reforming punishment :

« PreviousContinue »