John_Pilkington - LETTER XIV.

LETTER XIV.

From Mrs. PILKINGTON to Lord KINGSBOROUGH.

            My LORD,
            TO evade your bounty, is as impossible as to parry Jove's thunder, and I have met it when I most sought to shun it. I shall not tease your Lordship with endeavouring to express what I think of you; for this, my Lord, would be but giving pain to your virtues, and show how defective both my thoughts and our language is. For my part, I can find no words to dress the sensations of my soul in, and therefore must be silent about them, hoping that the heart which is capable of inspiring them, may define what I own myself unequal to; but I sincerely declare to you, my Lord, I have had so much money of late, that I have been at a loss what to do with it. Bishops, Priests and Deans liberally supply me, without my being at the pains to solicit their benevolence. I receive sums of money from unknown hands; nay, even the ladies now begin to honour me with their correspondence and contributions.—I went the other day to my printer to receive some arrears, and saw there a formal stiff fellow in black, with his own lank hair, who I concluded was a parson. I asked Powel who he was. He told me the great Mr. Wesley, and that he was certain I should be highly delighted with his conversation, if I would do him the favour to stay to dinner. As my curiosity was up, I consented to the invitation; but though I started every subject that could possibly seduce him into a general conversation, yet I. could not, for the soul of me, wrench a sentence from him, more than that it would give him all imaginable pleasure if he could prevail on me to go and hear him preach. Yes, Sir, said I, but I would fain hear you talk first: I am told you are a gentleman and a scholar. For my part, Sir, when I go to church, it is to that established by law; to which, notwithstanding that some of her clergy are little better than they should be, I am so heartily reconciled, that it will be a hard matter now to make a Methodist of me.——Well, Madam, said Mr. Wesley, if you'll let me wait on you at your house, we will then, over a dish of tea, converse of this matter. As I was impatient to hear what this sanctified Levite had to advance, I said I should expect him at breakfast the next morning. Madam, said he, if God is willing, I will go, and I am not without hopes of seeing you a sister in Christ.

            He came according to appointment at eight o'clock, and at his entrance made me a very courtly bow. I was surprised, even before he spoke, to see the extraordinary alteration in his countenance; the muscles of which were the preceding day dropped to that flatness, that his visage was a perfect blank; but they were now braced up to their proper functions, and he appeared a sprightly young fellow.

            I never suffered more pain, Madam, said he, than I did yesterday, lest Mrs. Pilkington should believe me the stupid animal I affected: but I may be sincere enough to tell you, Madam, this seeming sadness and solemnity is of the utmost use in my vocation and, you know, Madam, as Falstaff says, "May not a man labour in his vocation?" Powel and his wife were Anabaptists, but are now followers of me; and 'tis natural to suppose I'll obtain as many as I can, as well as Mrs. Pilkington endeavours to fill her subscription list; upon which, Madam, I beg to be incog. and so saying, he presented me with a couple of guineas.—Now, Doctor, said I, do you consider what you've been about? How do you know, that the moment you depart, I may not take the pen and publish all this? Madam, said he, I know by your writings, that it is not in your nature to do a premeditated injury to one who has reposed a confidence in your honour and understanding; and besides, not one of my followers would believe a syllable of it, I have so effectually gained an ascendency over their faith. I told Mr. Wesley, his opinion of me was just as

 

"I'd not betray my trust to gain the universe."

            He then talked of books, plays, music, painting, statuary; and in short, every subject that could convince me he was a man of taste and true breeding. Now, Madam, said he, as I've been so candid with you, it is entirely in your power to serve me, by speaking kindly of me to Powel's family.—I promised to speak the truth, that I never received more satisfaction from the discourse of any divine in my life, nor ever knew one who was half so honest and ingenuous.—Upon the whole, my Lord, I saw no difference between this prophet and other gentlemen, but that he drank for breakfast milk and warm water, instead of tea and milk. —What I say to my honoured friend, Lord Kingsborough, will, I am certain, go no farther; especially, my Lord, when it is a desire of mine that this interview should be kept secret.

            Mr. Wesley had scarce departed, when I was visited by another clergyman, who first subscribed very generously to my writings, and then said;—I hope, Mrs. Pilkington, you have made no mention of me? Of you, Sir, said I; upon my word I don't even know you. My name, Madam, said he, is J——b; I had the favour to see you at the Archbishop of Dublin's, at Tallaght, many years ago. Oh! Sir, I now recollect you, you came home with me in a coach. Yes, Madam, said he, and I hope you will never repeat the indiscretion I was guilty of at that time. Indeed, Sir, it never once entered into my head; but now you have been so obliging to remind me of it, I shall be able to make two or three admirable pages on the subject. For heaven's sake, good Madam, said he, don't entirely ruin me; I have a wife, who is already jealous, and such a thing might be the parting of us. After bantering the parson a little more, I promised to be as silent as the grave.—Having made his mind easy, he sat down and gave me the following little history of his marriage:

            You must know, my Lord, he is an English gentleman, and consequently has a good living in Ireland. As he was on his road from London to Chester, he happened to be taken suddenly ill, and stopped at a neat little house, some small distance from the highway, where he was very hospitably received by a young gentleman and his sister, who kept the house. They prevailed on him to stay all night, and amongst other discourse the young gentleman told Mr. J——b, that his sister and himself had ten thousand pounds apiece, and lived very comfortably upon the interest of it; so that by carefully avoiding extremes, they were always able to entertain their friends genteelly. The parson is a lusty jolly fellow, not endowed with any qualities, that may prevent his rising in the church, such as wit, or too strong perception, therefore he said but little, and retired to rest. In the morning he prepared to pursue his journey, but the young lady insisted on his staying one day more for her sake; this he accordingly did, but never, as he assured me, made the least tender of love to her. The third morning he set out, and got as far as Parkgate; but being detained there by contrary winds, was overtaken by the young gentleman, who spoke to him in this concise manner:

            Sir, my sister, who is a worthy modest girl, has taken a fancy to you, and says she can't be happy without you. As I love her too well, not to do all in my power to make her easy, I have myself come to ask you in marriage for her; so, Sir, if you will accept my offer, do me the favour to go back with me.—Mr. J——b, who had a great liking to the lady, readily received his proposal, went back, and was married the next day.—He received her fortune very justly, and, but that her extreme fondness makes her liable to jealousy, they would be the happiest couple on earth.

            Pray, my Lord, when I grow like the Archbishop of Sangrada in Gil Blas, a little tedious and dull, and so forth, be so obliging to tell me of it, before I expose myself; for though I have scribbled so much here I am in the humour to write as much more.
            I am, My Lord, &c.
            LÆTITIA PILKINGTON

            P.S. The pane of glass the epigram was on I broke, and shall never think of it more.

 

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