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jury both to himself and people, in pardoning even any one of those who have been led astray from their duty, however the circumstances which induced them to it either really are, or may have been, represented to him.
These remonstrances, as well as the papers they contribute to the filling up, will soon be buried in oblivion ; but if they should have any weight, as I hope they never will, I could wish they might be immortalized to the shame and confusion of the authors; since I can never be bidught to believe they write in this manner, inspired by any true affection to his majesty's person or government; but rather that so unseasonable a zeal is calculated to serve purposes, neither for the glory of the one, or true interest of the other.
The number, however, of those who preach this doctrine of severe justice, is but small, to those who are unwarily seduced by it. To them I therefore speak at this time, and should think myself happy if I could prevail on them to see the fallacy of it.
I would not have you imagine, that, because I have mentioned those who have been convicted of high treason, I mean to particularize them as the most proper objects of compassion: no, I abhor, equally with yourselves, a crime of
so black and heinous a nature: it was only as at present they engross the attention of the town (and places were advertised to be let out to such as were desirous of beholding the execution, and were actually hired for that purpose by some persons whom it would better have become to have employed their time and money in a different manner), that I took the liberty of expressing my sentiments of the matter; for, in truth, it is not the fate of the guilty, but the humour of such who testify an impatience and kind of fondness for being eye-witnesses of it, that gives me the most concern.
The meanest and most common malefactors, who are condemned every sessions, are yet your fellowcreatures,, have the same share in futurity with yourselves; and that depravity of human nature which has brought them to so sad an end, should, methinks, rather excite in
emotions of shame and sorrow, than any of a contrary sort.
It is not therefore this person, nor that crime, be the one never so dangerous, or the other never so detestable, that, according to my way of thinking, can excuse beholding the punishment with
any sort of pleasure, or even with indifference. Besides, as I believe there is no one so wholly void of natural aifection, as to be a wil
ling spectator of any
of his kindred's fate in this manner, though never so justly incurred; the running to behold that of others, denotes such a selfishness, such an unconcern for every body in whose life or honour you have no immediate interest, as you ought, methinks, to be ashamed of testifying; and would take off great part of the pity all calamities have a right to claim, should any person of this stamp meet with the same incident that one, who took too much delight in such shows, did a few years ago.
A poor labouring man in the west of England had a son, who, when he came to be about eleven or twelve years of age, discovered a quickness of apprehension and ready wit beyond what could be expected in a boy that had never been at any school, and could neither write nor read: the smart answers he gave whenever he was asked any questions, and many things were told of him, made him be taken notice of by a neighbouring gentleman of a good estate, who, when he saw him with his father in the field, would often call to him and talk to him.
This worthy person thought it a pity that a lad of so good a capacity should be brought up to follow the plough; he therefore took him from his father, clothed him in clean, decent
apparel, and had him instructed as far as was
for an ordinary tradesman, him to London to a pewterer, of whom he had some knowledge; and soon after, coming up himself to Parliament, bound him apprentice.
The charity was not thrown away: the young man was extremely ingenious at his business, very honest and obliging, and had no other fault than an insatiable curiosity of seeing every thing he found others' eager to be spectators of; but his master overlooked this in him, in consideration of his good qualities, and they agreed extremely well the whole time they were together. His apprenticeship being expired, he married a young woman, to whom he had' the good fortune to be agreeable: she had a better por. tion than his circumstances could have giveni room to hope for; and his patron making a considerable addition to the sum she brought, set him up
in a handsome manner; and being so, his honesty, industry, and frugality, soon ím. proved his stock, and in a very few years he became a man of consequence among those of his trade.
Finding himself perfectly at ease, and having a good journeyman whom he could entrust with his business, he began to have a desire of seeing his old father, and the place which had
given him birth, and to take his wife with him on this visit. She was a good sort of woman, and perhaps, like most of her sex, fond of a jaunt into the country, did not oppose his inclination in the least; and the matter being soon agreed upon between them, he hired a horse, mounted her behind him, and set out for Devonshire. I shall pass over the particulars of their journey, as having nothing in it material to my purpose; and only tell you, that when they came within a few miles of the vil. lage to which they were going, they saw a great number of people, some riding, others running, towards a road which turned out of that they were in ; and on asking the occasion of this unusual concourse, he was told they were going to see the execution of a man who was to be hanged for sheep-stealing.
His natural curiosity for such spectacles would not suffer him to pursue his journey, without gratifying that prevailing passion; and, in spite of all his wife, who would not go with him, could say to hinder him, he left her at the first inn they came to, and following the crowd he saw before him with all the speed he could, till he came to the gallows (which he very well remembered, having, when a boy, seen many a one brought to it), he got thither