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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 drest in an opinion,
As who should say, I am Sir Oracle,
• And when I ope my lips let no dog bark.'.
Merchant of Venice.
Sum felix; quis enim neget? felisque manebo;
Hoc quoque quis dubitet ? Tutum me copia fecit.
THE ALMS-HOUSE AND TRUSTEES.
The frugal Merchant.-Riralship in Modes of Frugality.
- Private Exceptions to the general Manners. --AlmsHouse 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, ambitious, 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 proper Choice of Alms-Men. - In this respect meritorious. - His Predecessor not so cautious.
LEAVE now our Streets, and in yon Plain behold
Those pleasant Seats for the Reduc'd 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 Crumbs to crave,
Scraping they liv'd, but not a Scrap they gave:
When Beggars saw the frugal Merchant pass,
It mov'd their Pity, and they said, “ Alas!
“ 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 din’d 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 wintry 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 ling'ring, but reforming Punishment:
Home then he walk'd, and found his Anger rise,
When Fire and Rush-light met his troubled Eyes;
But these extinguish'd, and his Prayer addrest
To Heaven in hope, he calmly sank to rest.
His seventieth Year was past, and then was seen
A Building rising on the Northern Green,
There was no blinding all his Neighbours' Eyes,
Or surely no one would have seen it rise:
Twelve Rooms contiguous stood, and six were near,
There Men were plac'd, and sober Matrons here;
There were behind, small useful Gardens made,
Benches before, and Trees to give them shade;
In the first Room were seen, above, below,
Some marks of Taste, a few attempts at Show;
The Founder's Picture and his Arms were there,
(Not till he left us,) and an elbow'd Chair;
There, ʼmid these signs of his superior Place,
Sat the mild Ruler of this humble Race.
Within the Row are Men who strove in vain,
Through Years of Trouble, Wealth and Ease to gain;
Less must they have than an appointed Sum,
And Freemen been, or hither must not come;
They should be decent and command Respect
(Though needing Fortune), whom these Doors protect,
And should for thirty dismal Years have tried
For Peace unfelt and Competence denied.
Strange! thato'er Men thus train'd in Sorrow's School,
Power must be held and they must live by Rule;
Infirm, corrected by Misfortunes, old,
Their Habits settled and their Passions cold;
Of Health, Wealth, Power, and worldly Cares, bereft,
Still must they not at Liberty be left;
There must be one to rule them, to restrain
And guide the Movements of his erring Train.