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dred and ten pounds to a friend, to put to some use : “For, as I cannot now," said he, “ work myself, I must make my money work for me.” His friend advised him to put his money into the funds; having, as well as he could, made him understand what is meant by the funds. Baker followed his advice. Besides this property, he had two or three small sums, put out to interest, in private hands : and a little tenement, which he reserved for himself to live in ; with two or three patches of ground, that lay near it, and served to employ him.
He often lamented that young fellows do not depend more on themselves; and lay money by, without breaking into it. Fourpence a week would amount to near a pound in the year. At harvest, some little matter might be added to it. And if this practice were begun early in life, it might, in a few years, amount to a comfortable support in sickness, or old age. “But few young fellows,” said he, “ look forward to those times. They never think of more, than of living from hand to mouth.—If I had spent my money at the alehouse, as many do, I should now, in my old age, have been in the poor-house."
His manner of spending his time, was rather different from what it used to be. He worked only a little, every morning, in his grounds; or in his garden ; or in procuring fuel. The rest of his time he spent in reading, and in devotion. He had always been a serious man ; but a busy life had never allowed him much time for any thing but business. He had now got above the world ; had his time much to himself; and spent a great part of it in reading the Bible. He had the use of his eyes to the last: and generally, though by himself, read aloud; which he thought made the more impression on his memory. Oftener than once, as I have approached his lonely cottage, I have thought I heard voices : but when I entered, the old man was sitting alone, with his Bible before him. He had as strong natural parts, as any person almost I ever met with. He easily understood, not only the general meaning, and intention, of the Gospel, but many of the more difficult passages in it. What our Saviour said, was, he thought, very easy; and much of what St. Paul said.
As he lived quite alone in his little cottage, on the edge of the forest, he was often, I am sorry to say, exposed to the depredations of the dishonest. Many little thefts, when he was watched out of his house, were committed ; and one night there was a robbery of a very serious nature. On the day before Lymington fair, the old man had received some interest money, (about five guineas,) to purchase a few necessaries. This being probably known, two men, at midnight, broke into his house. One of them pressing a bolster over his face, pinned him down with his knees; while the other sought for the money, which was presently found. I heard him speak of the robbery next day ; and his behaviour raised him in my opinion. He spoke with the caution of an honest man. The thieves had a dark lantern, he said, with them: he thought he could swear to one of them; but he durst not venture it, where a man's life, and character, were concerned.He mentioned his loss, as far as his money was concerned, with Christian indifference. His chief distress was for those who had committed the deed. To him, he said, they had done little injury. By the blessing of God, he doubted not, he had sufficient to support him, as long as he lived.
Though he had now enough before him, he continued still to live with his usual frugality. He did not love or save money, merely for its own sake: but as it might be the means of carrying him independently to the end of his life; and that the remainder might be of some little use to his family. Many of his neighbours thought he might have indulged himself rather more, as he had the means to do it: and as they themselves probably would have done in the same circumstances; and thus they might have spent all they had laid up for their old age, not knowing how long God might lengthen out their lives. He lived, however, as he had been accustomed to live, in the best of his days; for, in many parts of his life, he had been put to shifts. He had always good cheese in his house, and good bread, which was his common food. He used to brew now and then a bushel of malt; so that he was seldom without a little cask of beer. His garden produced him plenty of cabbages : and every year he bought at Lymington fair, a side of bacon; a bit of which he would, now and then, put into his pot, with a cabbage. Butter and tea were not among his necessaries. On this provision, he never had a day's sickness ; and even at those times, when his food was less nourishing, he was able to do every thing, to which the strength of man is equal.
He was now near eighty: his limbs began to fail; and he was subject to rheumatic pains, which seized his right leg, and made exercise very troublesome to him. However, notwithstanding this infirmity, and his living a mile from the church, he rarely missed taking a painful walk to it, every Sunday. The weather must have been very bad to prevent him. And though he was now become very deaf, he did not think even that a reason for keeping from church. What an example did he set to those, who, though in perfect health, instead of making the sabbath a day for obtaining instruction, and begging God's blessing on the week, profane it, by making it a day of pastime, and often a day of drinking, and other wickedness !—He was constant also at the sacrament; which he always esteemed a part of his duty.
He was confined to his house about six weeks before he died. His illness was a mere decay of nature. His legs swelled ; and his constitution was broken up. He now consented to have somebody live in his cottage with him, to wait upon him.
He kept his bed about three days; and was sensible to the last. He was in considerable pain : but he bore it with great resignation ; and with that firmness, and manliness, with which he had supported all the hard duties of a persevering life of industry. He died on the fifteenth of May, 1791 ; and desired that the fifty-first psalm might be sung before his corpse, as he was carried through the church-yard to his grave.
On his death, his property amounted to about four hundred pounds. That a man, in the lowest station, should, with a constant attention to money, in the course of a long life, raise that sum, or a greater, is not wonderful: but that a man, in the lowest station, should leave such a sum behind him, after having discharged all the duties of life with uprightness, and propriety, is such an example of an independent spirit, and of the force of industry and frugality, as deserves to be recorded for the benefit of others.
The following inscription stands over his grave in Boldre church-yard.
Rests from his labour
William Baker ;
To this parish.
And died in 1791. The above account was written by the minister of the parish : .who, on the death of William Baker, preached a sermon, in which he strongly recommended to his parishioners, to imitate the excellent conduct and character of their deceased neighbour.
The pious shepherd. David SAUNDERS of West Lavington, in Wiltshire, was born in the year 1717. When he was young, he enjoyed the privilege (which was then not so common as it now is) of being taught to read; and particularly to read the Bible.
He was employed more than thirty years, as the shepherd on one farm; and was remarkable for his prudence, industry, and piety. His occupation afforded many materials for reflection; and gave him much leisure for it. Besides, he conversed daily with his Bible, and always found matter there for his meditation; while' every object which he beheld, the fields, the sheep, the firmament, as well as his own employment, often brought to his recollection, a psalm, a prophecy, a parable, or some other portion of Scripture.