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air. My conductor hesitated—he moved towards the meetinghouse, but his head was turned the other way—he stopped.
"Ralph," said he, "did you not see Mr. Ford go into the public house?”
“No, father," said I, "don't think he's up.”
“At all bounds, we had better go and see; for I must not allow him to shame a decent house by tippling on a Sunday morning, in a dram-shop."
We entered. He found there some of his mates. Pint after pint of purl was called for; at length, a gallon of strong ale was placed upon the table, a quart of gin was dashed into it, and the whole warmed with a red-hot poker. I was now instructed to lie. I promised to tell mother that we had gone into a strange chapel; but I made my conditions, that mother should not be any more beaten. It was almost church-time when the landlord put us all out by the back way. The drunken fellows sneaked home-whilst Brandon, taking me by the hand, made violent, and nearly successful, efforts to appear sober.
After a hasty breakfast we went to meeting. My fosterfather looked excessively wild. Mr. Cate was raving in the midst of an extempore prayer, when a heavy fall was heard in the chapel. The minister descended from his desk, and came and prayed over the prostrate victim of intoxication, and, perhaps, of epilepsy, and he pronounced that brother Brandon had got his call, and was now indisputably one of the elect. He did not revive so soon as was expected-his groans were looked upon as indication's of the workings of the Spirit, and when, at length, he was so far recovered as to be led home by two of the congregation, the conversion of the sawyer was dwelt upon by the preacher, from a text preached upon the chapter that relates to the conversion of Saul, and the cases were cited as parallel. Let the opponents of the Established Church rail at it as they will, scenes of such wickedness and impiety could never have happened within its time-honoured walls.
When we returned to dinner, we found that Brandon had so far recovered, as to become very hungry, very proud, and very pharisaically pious. Mr. Cate dined with us. He was full of holy congratulations on the miraculous event. The sawyer received all this with an humble self-consequence, as the infallible dicta of truth, and, apparently, with the utter oblivion of any such things existing, as purl and red-hot pokers. Was he a deep hypocrite, or only a self-deceiver? Who can know the heart of man? However, this call” had the effect of making the “called one" a finished sinner, and of filling up the measure of wretchedness to his wife.
I too have my call-to death's door-A great rise in life-Brandon
allows neither slugs nor sluggards in his sawpit-Is ruined, and beats the reverend Mr. Cate.
All this was preparatory to an event, to me of the utmost importance, which is, perhaps, at this very moment, influencing imperceptibly my mind, and directing my character. Brandcn's call, in our humble circle, made a great deal of noise. He hadde taken care that I should know what drunkenness meant. I thought he ought to have been drunk on the afternoon of his election, yet he so well disguised his intoxication, that he appeared not to be so. I listened attentively to the sermon of the preacher that followed. I no longer doubted. I could not but believe that a grave man in a pulpit could speak any thing but truth, when he spoke so loudly, and spoke for two hours. My mind was a chaos of confusion. I began to be very miserable. The next, or one or two Sundays after, produced the crisis. My dress was always much superior to what could have been expected in the son of a mere operative. I was, at that time, a fair, and mild-featured child, and altogether remarkable among the set who frequented the meeting-house. Mr. Cate had been very powerful indeed, in his description of the infernal regions
of the abiding agonies—the level lake that burneth—the tossing of the waves that glow, and, when he had thrown two or three old women into hysterics, and two or three young ones into fainting fits, amidst the torrent of his oratory, and the groaning, and the “Lord have mercy upon me's," of his audience, he made a sudden pause. There was a dead silence for half a minute, then suddenly lifting his voice, he pointed to me, and exclaimed, “Behold that beautiful child-observe the pure blood mantling in his delicate countenance-but what is he after all but a mouthful for the devil? All those torments, all those tortures, that I have told you of, will be his; there, look at him, he will burn and writhe in pain, and consume for ever, and ever, and ever, and never be destroyed, unless the original sin be washed out from him by the call,' lest he be made hereafter one of the “elect.'”
At this direct address to myself, I neither fainted, shuddered, nor cried—I felt, at the time a little stupified; and it was some hours after (the hideous man's words all the time ringing in my ears) before I fully comprehended my hopeless state of perdition. I looked at the fire as I sat by it and trembled. I went to bed, but not to sleep. No child ever haunted by a ghost story was more terrified than myself, as I lay panting on my tear-steeped pillow. At length, imagination began its dreadful charms the room enlarged itself in its gloom to vast space—I began to hear cries from under my bed. Some dark bodies first of all flitted across the gloaming. My bed began
to rock. I tried to sing a hymn. I thought that the words • came out of my mouth in flames of bright fire. I then called
to mind the offerings from the altars of Cain and Abel. I watched to see if my hymns, turned into fire, and ascended up to heaven. I felt a cold horror when I discovered them scattered from my mouth exactly in the same manner that I had seen the flames in the engraving in our large Bible on the altar of Cain. Then there came a huge block of wood, and stationed itself in the air above me, about six inches from my eyes: I remember no more. I was in a raging fever.
I was ill for some weeks, and a helpless invalid for many more. When again I enjoyed perception of the things around me, I found myself in a new house in Red Cross Street, near St. Luke's. My foster parents had opened a shop-it had the appearance of a most respectable fruiterer's. Mr. Brandon had become a small timber merchant-had sawpits in the premises behind the house, and men of his own actually sawing in them. But the most surprising change of all was, that the reverend Mr. Cate was domesticated with us. Brandon, as a master, worked harder than ever he did as a man. My nurse became anxious and careworn, and never seemed happy-for my part, I was so debilitated, that I then took but little notice of any thing. However, the beautiful lady never called. I used to spend my time thinking upon angels and cherubs, and in learning hymns by heart. I suppose that I, like my foster-father, had had my call, but I am sure that after it, I was as much weaker in mind as I was in body. When I became strong enough to be again able to run about, I was once more sent to a day-school, and all that I remember about the matter was, that every day about eleven o'clock I was told to run home and get a wigful of potatoes from Brandon's, the venerable pedagogue coolly taking off his wig, and exchanging it for a red nightcap, until my return with the provender.
Things now wore a dismal aspect at home. At length, one day, the broker sent his men into the shop, who threw all the green grocery about like peelings of onions. They carted away Mr. Brandon's deals, and planks and timber, and not content with all this, they also took away the best of the household furniture. My nurse called Mr. Cate a devil in a white sheet -her husband acted, as he always would do when he was offended, and found himself strong enough, he gave the reverend gentleman, most irreverently, a tremendous beating. The sheep sadly gored the shepherd. Afterwards, when he had nearly killed his pastor, he seceded from his flock, and gave him, under his own hand, a solemn abjuration of the Caterian ienets. How Brandon came to launch out into this expensive and illadvised undertaking of green-groceries and savpits, how he afterwards became involved, and how much the preacher had been guilty in deceiving him, I never clearly understood. However, my nurse never, for a long time after, spoke of the reverend gentleman without applying the corner of her apron to her eyes, or her husband without a hearty malediction. We removed to our old neighbourhood, but, instead of taking a respectable house, we were forced to burrow in mean lodgings.
Another migration from the ruralities of Cut-throat Lane to the
groves of Academus-I am forced into good clothes, and the paths of learning, in spite of my teeth, though I use them spitefully. MISFORTUNES never come single. I don't know why they should. They are but scarecrow, lean visaged, miserable associates, and so they arrive in a body to keep each other in countenance. I had been but a few weeks in our present miserable abode, and had fully recovered my health, though I think that I was a little crazed with the prints, and the subjects of them, over which I daily pored in the large Bible, when the greatest misfortune of all came upon the poor Brandons—and that was, to add to their other losses, the loss of my invaluable self.
The misery was unexpected-it was sudden-it was overwhelming. Brandon was towing a chalked line on a heavy
log of mahogany, unconscious of the mischief that was working at home. He afterwards told me, and I believe him, that he would have opposed the proceeding by force, if force had been requisite. A plain, private, or hired carriage, drove up to the door, and, after ascertaining that the Brandons lived at the house, a business-like looking, elderly gentleman stepped out, paid every demand immediately, and ordered my best clothes on. When I was thus equipped, my nurse was told that she was perfectly welcome to the remainder of my effects, and that I must get into the carriage.
The good woman was thunderstruck. There was a scene. She raved, and I cried, and the four little Brandons, at least three of them, joined in the chorus of lamentation, because the naughty man was going to take brother Ralph away. I had been too well taught by Old Ford, not to visit my indignation upon the shins and hands of the carrier away of captives, in well-applied kicks, and almost rabid bites. There was a great disturbance. The neighbours thought it very odd that the mother should allow her eldest son to be carried off by force, by a stranger, before her eyes, in the middle of the day; but then it was suggested, that “nothing could be well termed odd that concerned little Ned Brandon, for hadn't he been bit last year by a mad dog, and, when so and so had all died raving, he had never nothing at all happen to him.” When the stranger heard this story of the mad dog, (which by-the-by, was fact, and I have the scars to this day,) he shook me off, pale with consternation, and was, no doubt, extremely happy to find that my little teeth had not penetrated the skin. I believe that he heartily repented him of his office. At length he lost all patience. “Woman,” said he, 6 send these people out of the room.” When they had departed, marvelling, he resumed. "I cannot lose my time in altercation. I am commissioned to tell you, that if you keep the boy in one sense, you'll have to keep him in all. You may be sure that I would not trouble myself about such a little ill-bred wretch for a moment, if I did not act with authority, and by orders. Give up the child directly," (I was now sobbing in her arms;) “take your last look at him, for you will never see him again. Come, hand the young gentleman into the carriage."
“I won't go," I screamed out.
“We shall soon see that, master Rattlin," said he, dragging me along, resisting. I bawled out, “My name's not master Rattlin-you’re a liar—and when father comes from the pit he'll wop you."
This threat seemed to have an effect, the very reverse of