Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

subsistence, had they not added the trade of blacksmith, which was perpetuated in the family down to my uncle's time, the eldest son having been uniform. ly brought up to this employmenti a custom which both he and my father observed with respect to their eldest sons.

In the researches I made at Eaton, I found no account of their births, marriages, and deaths. earlier than the year 1555; the parish register not extending farther back than that period. This register informed me, that I was the youngest son of the youngest branch of the family, counting five generations. My grandfather, Thomas, was born in 1598, lived at Eaton till he was too old to continue his trade, when he retired to Banbury, in Oxfordshire, where his son John, who was a dyer, resided, and with whom my father was apprenticed. He died, and was buried there: we saw his monument in 1758. His eldest son lived in the family house at Eaton, which he he. queathed, with the land belonging to it, to his only daughter, who, in concert with her husband, Mr. Fisher, of Wellingborough, afterwards sold it to Mr. Estead. the present proprietor.

My grandfather had four surviving sons, Thomas, John, Benjamin, and Josias. I shall give you such particulars of them as my memory will furnish, not having my papers here. in which you will find a more minute account, if they are not lost during my absence.

Thomas had learned the trade of a blacksmith un. der his father; but, possessing a good natural understanding, he improved it by study, at the solicitation of a gentleman of the name of Palmer, who was at that time the principal inhabitant of the village, and who encouraged, in like manner, all my uncles to cultivate their minds. Thomas thus rendered himselfcompetent to the functions of a country attorney; soon became an essential personage in the affairs of the village; and was one of the chief movers of every public enterprise, as well relative to the county as the town of Northampton. A variety of remarkable ineidents were told us of him at Eaton. After enjoying the esteem and patronage of Lord Halifax, he died January 6, 1702, precisely four years before I was


[ocr errors]

born. The recital that was made us of his life and character, by some aged persons of the village, struck you, I remember, as extraordinary, from its analogy to what you knew of myself. Had he died,” said you, “just four years later, one might have supposed a transmigration of souls."

John, to the best of my belief, was brought up to the trade of a wool-dier.

Benjamin served his apprenticeship in London to a silk-dier. He was an industrious man; I remember him well; for, while I was a child, he joined my father at Boston, and lived for some years in the house with us

A particular affection haił always subsisted between my father and him ; and I was his god-son. He arrived to a great age. He left behind him two quarto volumes of poems in msnuscript, consisting of little fugitive pieces addressed to his friends. He had invented a short-hand, which he taught me, but, hav. ing never made use of it, I have now forgotten it. He was a man of piety, and a constant attendant on the best preachers, whose sermons he took a pleasure in writing down according to the expeditory method he had devised. Many volumes were thus collected by him. He was also extremely fond of politics ; too much so, perhaps, for his situation. I lately found in London a collection which he had made of all the principal pamphlets relative to public affairs, frona the year 1641 to 1717. Many volumes are wanting, as appears by the series of numbers; but there stili remain eight in folio, and twenty-fuur in quarto and octavo. The collection had fallen into the hands of a second-hand bookseller, who, knowing me by have ing sold me some books, brought it to me. My uncle it seems, had left it behind him on his departure for America. about fifty years ago. I found various notes of his writing in the margins. His grandson, Samuel, is now living at Boston.

Our humble fawily had early embraced the Refopmation. They remained faithfully attached during the reign of Queen Mary, when they were in danges of bei molested on count of their zeal against po. pery. They had an English Bible, and, to conceal hthe more securely, they conceived the project of fastening it open, with pack threads across the leaves, on the inside of the lid of the close stool. When my great-grandfather wished to read to his family, he re. versed the lid of the close-stool upon his knees, and passed the leaves from one side to the other, which were held down on each by the pack-thread. One of the children was stationed at the door, to give notice if he saw the proctor (an officer of the spiritual court) make his appearance : in that case, the lid was restored to its place, with the Bible concealed under it as before. I had this anecdote from my uncle Benjamin.

The whole family preserved its attachment to the Church of England till towards the close of the reign of Charles II. when certain ministers, who had been rejected as nonconformists, having held conventicles in Northamptonshire, they were joined by Benjamin and Josias, who adhered to them ever after. The rest of the family continued in the episcopal church.

My father Josias, married early in life. the went with his wife and three children, to New-England, about the year 1682. Conventicles being at that time prohibited by law, and frequently disturbed, some considerable persons of his acquaintance determined to go to America, where they hoped to enjoy the free exercise of their religion, and my father was prevaila ed on to accompany them.

My father had also by the same wife, four children born in America, and ten others by a second wife, making in all seventeen I remember to have seen thirteen seated together at his table, who all arrived at years of maturity, and were married. I was the last of the sons, and the youngest child, excepting two daughters. I was born at Boston, in New-England. My mother, the second wife, was Abiak Fol. ger, daughter of Peter Folger one of the first colonists of New-England, of whom Cotton Mather makes honourable mention, in his Ecclesiastical History of that province, as "a pious and learned Englishman,if I rightly recollect his expression. I have been told of his haven written a variety of little pieces; but there appears to be only one in print, which I met with many years ago. It was published in the year 1675

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

and as in familiar verse, agreeable to the tastes of the times and the country. The author addresses himself to the governors for the time being, speaks for liberty of conscience, and in favour of the anabaptists, quakers, and other sectaries, who had suffered persecution. To this persecution he attributes the wars with the natives, and other calamities which afflicted the countty, regarding them as the judgements of God in punishment of so odious an offence, and he exhorts the government to the repeal of laws so contrary to charity. The poem appeared to be written with a manly freedom and a pleasing simplicity. I recollect the six concluding lines, though I have for. gotten the order of words of the two first : the sense of which was, that his censures were dictated by benevolence, and that, of consequence, he wished to be known as the author; because, said he, I hate from my very soul dissimulation,

From Sherburn,* where I dwell,

I therefore put my name,
Your friend, who means you well,

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


[ocr errors]

My brothers were all put apprentices to different trades. With respect to myself, I was sent, at the age of eight years, to a grammar-school. My father destined me for the church, and already regarded me as the chaplain of my family. The promptitude with which, from my infancy, I had learned to read, for I do not remember to have been ever without this acquirement, and the encouragement of his friends, who assured him that I should one day certainly become a man of letters, confirmed him in this design. My uncle Benjamin approved also of the scheme, and promised to give me all his volumes of sermuns, written, as I have said, in the short-hand of his inven. tion, if I would take the pains to learn it.

I remained, however, scarcely a year at the grammar-school,although in this short interval, I had risen from the middle to the head of my class, from thence

*Town in the island of Nantucket.

to the class immediately above, and was to pass at the end of the year, to the one next in order. But my father, burdened with a numerous family, found that he was incapable, without subjecting himself to difficulties, of providing for the expenses of a colle, giate education, and considering, besides, as I heard him say to his friends that a person so educated were often poorly provided for, he renounced hisfirst intentions, took me from the grammar-school, and sent me to a school for writing and arithmetic, kept by Mr. George Brownwell, who was a skilful master, and succeeded very well in his profession by employing gentle means only, and such as were calculated to encourage his scholars. Under him, I soon acquired an excellent hand; but I failed in arithmetic, and made therein no sort of progress.

At ten years of age, I was called home to assist my father in his occupation, which was that of soap-boil

. er and tallow-chandler ; a business to which he had served no apprenticeship, but which he embraced on his arrival in New Engiand, because he found his own, that of dier, in too little request to enable him to maintain his family. I was accordingly employ. ed in cutting the wicks, filling the moulds, taking care of the shop, carrying messages, &c.

This business displeased me, and I felt a strong inclination for a sea life; but my father set his face against it. The vicinity of the water, however gave me frequent opportunities of venturing myself both upon and within it, and I soon acquired the art of swimming and of manageing a boat. When embarked with other children, the helm was commonly de: puted to me, particularly on difficult occasions; and in every other project I was almost always the leader of the troop, whom I sometimes involved in em? barrasments. I shall give an instance of this, which demonstrates an early disposition of mind for public enterprises, though the one in question was not conducted by justice.

The mill-pond was terminated on one side by a marsh, upon the borders of which we were accustomed to take our stand, at high water, to angle for small fish. By dint of walking, we bad converted

« ZurückWeiter »