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ers; yet when he came to die, he had a conceivance that his son would ruin his family by his wicked, wild ways, and would oftentimes talk to him very gravely, about reforming his manners, but it was more out of fear lest he should spend all his money, than any thing else ; and that made him so mighty desirous that he should marry my daughter, that he might get into a sober family, as he called it; though he had drunk himself into a dropsy, by tippling with every body who came into his house.
Sir Thos. The father then was not such an extravagant spendthrift as his son.
Far. Oh! no, his main delight was to get all the custom he could : he did not care who was ruined by their drunken ways at his house, if he could but make himself rich, through their wickedness and folly.
Sir Thos. The existence of such houses is a very great evil. They are the ruin of thousands.
Wor. You should have said, of tens of thousands.If, however, I could but reach them, they should not long exist; but as almost all the town of Mapleton is under the influence of Lord Rakish, there is no doing any good in that place; what I attempt to suppress, that he is sure to support. Our own village and neighbourhood is kept in tolerable order; and it grieves me that I can proceed no further.
Sir Thos. Well, and I have attempted to persuade my worthy friend, Doctor Orderly, to act with me magistrate ; but his objection always was, that he should only perplex his mind, and, after all, be able to do little or no good : for that there are two or three of the Clergy, who are by no means like the Doctor, and they are entirely under the management of some of the gentry in the neighbourhood, who are in the commission, and who are quite loose and careless, and mind nothing but their sports ; and no good can be expected, while it rests with bad people, to correct the bad manners of others, especially when the Clergy degrade themselves by submiting to be the dupes of the profligate among the great : but as the old man was so very anxious that his son might reform, I hope before he died, he reformed himself
Far. Ah, Sir ! we make a bad hand of it when we reform ourselves.
There is an old schoolmaster in our parish, Master Goodenough, the 'Squire knows him, and he desired him to settle his affairs, and to send for Mr. Dolittle to give him the sacrament; and while they were lifting him up in his bed, he fell back and died, before ever he had made his will, or received the sacrament; and his death soon proved the ruination of all the family.
Sir Thos. How so, Mr. Littleworth?
Far. Why, Sir, directly as his father died, he laid his hands upon all he had left behind him ; and before he was well cold in his grave, he set off at such a rate, while every good-for-nothing fellow was after him, far and near.
For though his old father, in his wicked way, had mustered up full two thousand pounds, yet in a little more than fourteen months, it was all gone.
Sir Thos. How, in the name of wonder, could he, in his line, squander away such a deal of money in so short a time?
Far. Why, Sir, first of all, the extravagant blade gave eighty guineas for a very fine hunter; but this he said would pay him very well, as it would bring a deal of their sort of rakish company to his house; but instead of their being his guests, he would treat them all; and then try if he could not pay himself back again by gaming with them ; and then they would make him half drunk, and pick his pocket of hundreds.
Sir Thos. No wonder that he so soon ruined himself, if he got connected with a set of gamblers and sharpers.
Far. Why, your honour, he was after them morning, noon and night; and then he got acquainted with that strange wild blade, 'Squire Madcap, who knows how to take care of himself, while he can trick others : and because the 'Squire knew he had a little money, he pretended to be very gracious with him; and he got him to give two hundred guineas for a race-horse, which was to beat all the horses in the country. And away he went with him to Gambleton races, cracking and boasting as how he was worth double the
money, as he thought he was to get thousands by him. And there, by his gamings and bettings, he lost five hundred pounds, and came home to his wife half mad through disappointment and
rage. Sir Thos. No wonder that he brought himself to ruin by such extravagances as these.—Those public horseraces are the destruction of thousands ; I never suffer any of my family to go near them.
Far. Aye, and when he found that his money was almost all gone, he would be swearing by his Maker, in the most blaspheming way, that either he would go on to ruination, or fetch it all back again ; and it was not above fourteen months after his father's death, before what the old man had got in his wicked ways, was all spent by this rakish blade, in ways, if possible, much wickeder still. Aye, and what is worse than all, he has ruined his poor mother, and unmarried sister into the bargain, by spending what by right should have come to them; though as to his sister, she is a sad saucy puss as ever lived ; and no wonder, when we consider how they bred her up; but I must say nothing on that score : the Lord be praised that I was not permitted to live according to the natural corruptions of my heart, all the days of my life!
Sir Thos. This has proved a very unfortunate match for your daughter.
Far. Ah, Sir! though he appeared mighty loving to her at first, yet they had not been married together above a month, before she began to rue the day that ever she saw him. There she would be coming to our house, to tell of all her grievances, when he would be away from
his rakish tricks, night after night ; and when I heard that he had got linked in with that desperate fellow, Sam Blood, who has been in gaol before now, I thought what would become of it; and my poor daughter feels all the more since she knows I could not persuade her against the match ; but now she hears he is cast for death, and left for execution, she is almost distracted.
Wor. This is a terrible family calamity, and justice must at times be stern. I fear it will be very difficult to prevent the fatal stroke, especially as the young man has been known to be so wild and worthless. And his connection with that horrid fellow, Sam Blood, will go much against both him and young Sparkish, though I am told that Sam Blood is by far the most daring and villanous of the three.
Sir Thos. I am not as yet acquainted with the particulars of the offence. Far. If
honour can but save his life, I shall be glad to tell
all I know. After he had lost all he was worth among these gamblers by his horse-racings, excepting the little maintenance I settled on my daughter, and what he still got by selling liquors, his next project was to see if he could not fetch back his money again by cock-fighting.
Wor. So that when he could not afford to game in a more extravagant way, he attempted it in another style.
Loveg. These abominably cruel sports are productive of a deal of evil, wherever they are permitted to exist.
Sir Thos. I suppressed one of their cock-pits not long ago, that some loose rakes were attempting to promote in our neighbourhood, though it was with some difficulty, through the negligence and connivance of some other magistrates in those parts.
Far. It had been well for Will Frolic, if there had been none of those places within his reach; for there he went off to Gambleton with his fighting-cocks, and we never heard of him for three days, till after he was committed to gaol.
Wor. Will you tell Sir Thomas how this unhappy event took place ?
Far. Why, your honour knows how Sam Blood and Ned Sparkish, and my son-in-law, all went to that wicked town, where Lord Rakish and 'Squire Wild were to have first a bull-baiting, next a boxing-match, then a badgerhunt, and afterwards a cock-fight in the evening. I don't think there are two such gentlemen blackguards to be found any where like them ; for all the other common blackguards are sure to be after them, far and wide.
Loveg. You must excuse the strong language of my good old friend, Sir Thomas. And no wonder, since he has felt such mischievous consequences from their bad example.
Sir Thos. Oh! no, Mr. Littleworth is quite right. If I thought I had two such blackguards as helpers in my stables, I should surely turn them off, lest they should corrupt the rest ; neither estate nor titles can make the real gentleman after all. [To Farmer Littleworth.] But, Sir, will you continue your story?
Far. Why, Sir, after they had been at it all day, betting and gaming with the swindlers and sharpers, who came together from all parts of the country, they were in hopes that they should get it back again by their cock-fight in the evening: and there they quite did it all up, and got themselves in debt into the bargain;