Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

A simple inspection of this document will be sufficient to shew that any measure which would violate the public faith with the fund-holders, would not be a measure for the benefit of the poor and to the injury of the rich only, as is generally represented ; but would, in fact, be one calculated only to disgrace the country, to serve nobody, and to defraud of a mere competency more than two hundred and eighty thousand persons, whose incomes from the funds vary between 101. and 6001. per annum. This table, we think, knocks in the head for ever all the declamations that are poured forth by tribunes of the people, and all the hints which are thrown out from more trivial quarters, about what is most iniquitously called an “equitable adjustment.”

Arr. VIII.— The Diary of Ralph Thoresby, F.R.S. Author of the Topo

graphy of Leeds (16771724), now first published from the original manuscript. By the Rev. Joseph Hunter, F. S. A. In two volumes,

large 8vo. London: Colburn and Bentley. 1830. If the friends of sound and useful literature, and the enemies of these piles of trash, which, under the titles of “ Diaries" and “ Memoirs,” have been for some years accumulating on the booksellers' shelves, were to pray for the publication of some work which would make manifest, even to the most stupid reader, the utler worthlessness of most of the volumes of this description which have recently escaped from the hands of the printer,—they could not have desired any occurrence more opportune for their purpose than the appearance of 'Ralph Thoresby's Diary.' It exceeds both in quantity and quality of foolishness, any book of a similar description which has seen the lig!t since the days of old Angelo, the fencing master. At best, when we meet with an intelligible page or two, the silly trifles which they record, and the inconsiderable person who records them, combine, again and again, to force upon us this question,- for what end were so much paper, so much ink, so much steam wasted? What do we gain by reading on and on, wandering over a waste which is as desolate and as barren as the most sandy of the sandy wilds of Asia ?

Who was Ralph Thoresby ?-we asked; for we confess that the fame of his immortal book, ihe “ Topography of Leeds,” published, we hear, in 1715,-a Topography which must be as good a guide through that smoky town now, as it would be through London,had never before reached our ears. Who was this Ralph Thoresby? His reverend editor answers, that he was the son of Mr. John Thoresby, by Ruth his wife, a daughter of Mr. Ralph Idle, whose residence was at Bulmer, an agricultural village, about ten miles north of York.' In 1677, his father, who was a merchant at Leeds, sent him to London, for the purpose of being brought up to the same occupation; and lo! here Ralph's Diary' commences. In the early part of his life, he was a furious Nonconformist. He subsequently gave up his connection with the Dissenters; but, if we may judge from his Diary, he spent the most of his time in London, listening to sermons, though occasionally he would, it seems, go to see a wild beast.

• 15th September. At home most of the day, reading in Mr. Clark's History, Mirror, and Persecutions.

• 16. Die Dom. Mr. Ralphson preached again for Mr. S. from Amos iii. '%; but not to my great satisfaction, seeming, though covertly, to infuse his own principles.

•18. At the Glasshouse Lecture, forenoon, though it was thronged : could hear little : at home in the afternoon.

* 22. I was most part at home, but might have improved my time better than I did ; towards night I went with Elkana Boyse to Southwark, to see the elephant, &c.'—vol. 1. pp. 3, 4.

If the reader be not wiser and better after reading this extract, we must try him with some others.

• Oct. 1. Most part of the forenoon at Guildhall, to see the sheriffs, in their pomp and splendid gallantry, go to take the oath at Westminster, &c. All the afternoon at home with Mrs. Mitley and Mrs. M. Madox, helping them in cutting paper, &c.

•2. Forenoon, heard Dr. Owen preach at Pinner's hall; but, to my shame I confess, how many thoughts and imaginations were in me. After dinner, went to the Strand to inquire after crayons, but in vain.

*3. Went thither again about crayons, and got sixty, a set, for 2s. 60. and several in besides. Rest of the day at home.'-vol. 1. pp. 5, 6.

Voila! Ralph Thoresby at Hull.

July 4. I came with my father for Hull, and had a very good journey. 65. Forenoon viewing the town, and with friends, &c. most of the day; about six o'clock came aboard Thonias Scheman's vessel, was a little sick,(!) and—then somewhat better again.'(!!!)-vol. 1. p. 16.

These, assuredly, are circumstances in the life of our hero which it would have been most unpardonable in him to bave omitted in his Diary. It is worth while to consider for a moment the dismal consequences that would have followed, if this apprentice lad, after becoming ' a little sick' on board Tom Scheman's vessel, did really not get 'somewhat better again.' Let us reflect upon this : and, reader, when thy meditations on this important subject are over, thou mayest behold our traveller at Rotterdam, whither he went in order to learn thoroughly the Dutch system of commerce. The following entries in his Diary are glorious specimens of its utility:

•15. I went to Mr. William Brent's, schoolmaster, in order to my learning the Dutch lingua.

• 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27. (Where thinkest thou, oh gentle reader ?) Most of time at school.'!!!—vol. 1. p. 20.

Again, let us listen to his Dutch strains.

• Nov. 6. Die Dom. Very ill most of the day, sweating much in bed till four o'clock.

•7. Somewhat better.

8. Indifferently when up, but by reason of bad nights, lost a great part of the forenoon.

•9. At, Rotterdam, to try the benefit of a walk.
*10. Was finely all the day.'!!!-vol. 1. pp. 23, 24.

The poor school-boy, it appears, was attacked, soon after this, with an ague, which drove him home to Yorkshire once more. The death of his father devolved upon him the cares of business at an early age. But we collect little from his · Diary'of his progress in trade. He seenis to have been chiefly taken up at this time in collecting prints, and pasting them in common-place-books, in writing extracts from memoirs of great men, and hearing sermons. Sometimes, too, he took a cheerful glass, for which, however, he afterwards thumps his breast most lustily.

March 15. Spent all day vainly and idly walking or talking, or doing worse-drinking in company, and though not to excess, yet more than was necessary. Evening, at Mr. J. Wi's in the same humour, &c. Væ ve mihi peccatori.' !-vol. 1. p. 80.

Somewhere about the year 1684, Ralph took unto himself a wife, of whose meekness, modesty, and submission, he speaks in the highest terms. After the occurrence of such a serious event as this, we should expect that his Diary would become more manly, and present some facts connected with the political events of the day. At all events, we thought we should not be disappointed, if we carefully examined his journal for 1688. But, alas, when we come to the latter part of that eventful year, we find that Ralph was no politician. His record of the revolution betrays almost the weakness of idiotcy.

• Sept. 30.* A strange face of affairs presents itself. We were told of an invasion from Holland, and that a Dutch fleet was seen off Scarborough and Hull; but it proved to be Torbay, where the Prince of Orange landed the 5th November, 1688. We underlings knew not what to make of these affairs, nor is it my design to intermix public with my private memoirs, otherwise than as they were merciful or afflictive to me and my family, with the neighbourhood; therefore shall take no notice of King James's abdication, (!) the seizing of York by the Earl of Danby, afterwards Duke of Leeds, Lord Fairfax, &c., or the reading in the Moot-hall, at Leeds, the Prince of Orange's declaration, by Jasper Blythman, Esq. afterwards recorder.”!!-vol. 1. p. 188.

He does, however, immediately after break in upon this sage resolution, by giving a furious account of the 'flying army of Irish and massacring Papists, who, with unheard of cruelty, burnt and killed all before them.' Such was the alarm on one occasion, that 'the drums beat, the bells rang backward, the women shrieked, and such dreadful consternation seized upon all persons ; some men, with their wives and children, left all behind them (even monies and plate upon the tables), and ran for shelter to the barns

*The editor of the Diary does not reconcile the dates in this passage.

and haystacks in the fields. Among the fugitives we expected to find Ralph Thoresby, Esq., but he, on the contrary, boldly took horse and arms to oppose the Papists, with thousands of others, when, just as they were all eager for the fray, it turned out to have been 'a false alarm, taken from some drunken people, who cried out horribly, murder! murder!' For such an age of fanaticism and folly, no man of the time was better suited than our hero. He was in himself an epitome of the mental imbecility and frenzy which so peculiarly characterized those evil times.

It would be a mere waste of time, if we were to proceed with any thing like regularity through these tiresome volumes. As the man grows older, he becomes more and more taken up with sermons and charities; things doubtless excellent in themselves, but which are not, at least to the extent that we have them here, very interesting subjects for a published Diary. The tone of his mind may be clearly traced through the following passages, which are extracted at random from his journal for 1722, when he was in the sixtyfourth year of his age :

* May 22. Read and wrote till eleven; after abroad, inquisitive after the astonishing effects of the thunder-shower last Friday, in the vicinage of Halifax, where it took down part of Ripponden Chapel, bore down two mills, and several houses and bridges, about twenty persons said to be drowned ; corpses washed out of graves, &c.

*23. Read Danbuz, &c.; wrote to my Lady Betty Hastings, till eleven; afternoon, at the funeral of Mrs. Robinson, widow, who diedin the ninety-second year of her age: she was one of the four that died the last half-year, whose ages amounted to 400 years.

• 29. Morning, Dr. Brook preached the anniversary Sermon from Psalm lxxvii. 14,-let us, to our utmost, promote a national reformation, the way to which is, every person to reform one.

"31. Finished the perusal of Lord Cobham's trial, a curiosity, printed beyond the sea at the beginning of the Reformation; wrote to Mr. Smith of Melsonby; afternoon, upon Manor business, till evening.

June 3. Die Dom. Read Vines and Henry. The Vicar proceeded from Peter ii, 1, 4, to the third head, what is required in order to confirmation. He particularly inveighed against plays, which reproof was the more necessary, because we have had in town a company of players six or eight weeks, which has seduced many, and got abundance of silver. Afternoon, walked to Holbeck, where Mr. Paley preached from “ It is God gives the increase." I afterwards called with the Vicar at Alderman Milner's, to visit his son Cotton, from Staffordshire.

• 4. Read Danbuz and Henry; wrote till eleven, after fretting at a letter from Mr. Pendlebury, full of acrimony.

• August 1. Morning, read Danbuz and Henry; then wrote to sons with 201. bill, advising to moderation, that others' intemperate zeal may not drive us to extremes. Mr. P. preached the anniversary sermon, and was sharp (as he ought) against anti-monarchical principles, but very tender of giving the least offence to non-jurors. After, to visit cousin Ald., and cousin S. after evening prayers.

. 3. Read and wrote till eleven ; concluded Sir James Ware's Antiquities and History of Ireland, with his Commentary of the Prelates and Writers ; is a useful book, but full of errata in the press, &c.

10. Read and wrote till eleven; after at Parson Robinson's, to learn what he has bequeathed to pious uses, which is considerable ; see the particulars elsewhere; after which, visited by soine Londoners, to see the curiasities, with whom at a tenant's full late.

• 14. Read and wrote till eleven; after, had visitants to see museum till evening; after, sent for by Sir Roger Beckwith, about Norman and English coins. .:23. Read; then writing about business till eleven; afternoon, with the Vicar, to see the foundation of the new Church in Boor-lane, and then showing the museum to a native of Norway; after, to visit cousin Aldburgh. · 24. Received letters from Cambridge, that rejoiced my heart, for my son Richard's performances, &c.

27. Morning, read; then with workmen till near four, when, after an anthem sung by the charity children at the parish church, the mayor and aldermen, with the clergy and gentry, went in procession to the Burrowlane, where Parson Robinson laid the first stone of the new church (and three guineas under it for the workmen,) there was great rejoicing, and if the loud huzza seemed carnal to some, there was, I question not, much spiritual rejoicing in others; I stayed till past nine.

Sept. 6. Consulting manuscripts, &c. in a case wherein lawyer Wilson desired my assistance relating to Guisely living.

10. Read Danbuz, &c. till past two; had Parson Barnard and two of his quondam scholars, Mr. Mangy and cousin J. Whitaker, in library, till near evening prayers.

• 12. Read and wrote till eleven ; dined at cousin Cookson's with cousin Idle, of London, with whom and Vicar, at the charity-school and new church till evening ; at supper with them at cousin Wilson's.

14. Afternoon, transcribing notes from Chancellor Pearson's manuscript till evening.

17. Morning, read Danbuz, and transcribed from Dr. Pearson's manuscript till eleven ; and afternoon, till four, 10 wait of the Lord Irwin, at cousin Wilson's.

* 24. Morning, read; then wrote to the Bishop of Lincoln till eleven. Afternoon, to visit cousin Aldburgh; in return, Mr. Sagar gave me an account of the apparition himself saw; wrote a little till evening prayers.

27. Read Danbuz, and finished the perusal of Dr. Johnston,* of Abbey Lands, 1687, wherein he would palliate matters; with this is bound up a curiosity. Pope Innocent the Elevenih's decree for suppres. sing the office of the Immaculate Conception, and several indulgencies. After dinner at the Bank; read and wrote, &c.

. 30. Die Dom. Read Whitby. Mr. Craister preached ingeniously from Eccles. vii. 16, “ Be not righteous over much," against indiscretion: showing that many things in themselves good, may be had in excess; even

* • Thoresby's old friend, Dr. Nathaniel Johnston, of Pontefract. The intent of the tract was to show the sufficiency of the titles to lands, formerly Abbey lands, founded on grants made by Henry VIII, and his successors.'

« ZurückWeiter »