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desirous that I should undertake some work; but almost every thing is impracticable here, without all my books, which I shall never remove; aud, indeed, I have got some, which I wish at Hackney, and which came with a view to my Lexicon; an arduous work, to be executed hereafter, as far as it rests with me, if I survive this period.
I have been made very uneasy by a report from Hackney, that my Barnes's Euripides, 2 vols. 4to. by Beck, could not be found: but I trust they are mistaken. I had them with me at the King's Bench, and cannot conceive how they can be lost. The loss of any of those books, in which there are my marginal notes, the result of many irretrievable hours, would give me more uneasiness than all the circumstances of the prosecution put together.
Our people are at their house; I have seen none of them this day. My affectionate remembrance to your brothers. In hopes of a speedy interview, I remain yours as ever, most truly,
On the refusal of the magistrates to allow their residence in the prison, his family had procured a house near to the gaol, that they might make full use of the permission to
go there as often as they chose. That any evil could result from such a liberty can scarcely be supposed. Yet, in this case, it soon appeared that
man, proud man," “ Drest in a little brief authority,"
could not resist the occasion of displaying his power over those who had no means of opposition. This privilege, after the enjoyment of it for a few weeks, was suddenly denied to Mrs. Wakefield, and her children. The order to which Mr. Wakefield has referred, was issued by the majority of the magistrates, among whom there were a few very honourable exceptions. This restraint continued to the end of his imprisonment.
Such a harsh, and seemingly unnecessary exercise of authority, could not have been expected from men whose minds were endued with the common feelings of humanity. The magistrates, however, who made this order, are reputed to be gentlemen of great respectability of character. What is still more extraordinary, they are themselves husbands and fathers, and on that account better qualified to estimate the painful consequences which would inevitably result, and which, it may be
reasonably presumed, they intended should result, from such a measure.
We are utterly at a loss to conjecture by what principles these gentlemen were guided in thus abridging the comforts of a virtuous and affectionate family, who, after every
alleviation of their misfortunes, must still have been subject to many privations. Indeed, the conduct of the magistrates, upon this occasion, which it is our duty to record, can scarcely he resolved into any thing but the influence of party-zeal and political prejudice, the baneful effects of which in checking all the generous propensities of the heart are so frequent and so deplorable.
The restraint thus imposed was a serious injury to Mr. Wakefield. It deprived him, in a considerable degree, of domestic society, the chief source of his happiness, and his principal relaxation from a laborious application to his studies. He lamented also that the education of his daughters, which he superintended himself, would materially suffer by their entire separation for three days in the week.
To them he devoted a part of each of those days on which his family were permitted to
visit the prison. Without losing sight of his favorite object, the elucidation of the scriptures, he also read with them several valuable works, both ancient and modern. For, on the subject of education, he had long entertained sentiments very different from those generally adopted. As no one had a greater respect for the female character, so none thought more highly of the powers of the female understanding. In his opinion, with similar advantages of cultivation, it might rival the attainments of the most accomplished of the other
In the present circumstances, he judged it best to place his sons at school. The eldest of the two who were at Dorchester, was sent to the Grammar School in that town under the Rev. Mr. Richmond, from whom Mr.Wakefield received many civilities.
For the care and education of his second son, during the whole term of his own imprisonment, he was indebted to the friendship of the Rev. Mr. Shepherd, of Gateacre, near Liverpool, well known to the literary world by his“ Life of Poggio Bracciolini. That gentleman, at the commencement of the father's troubles, kindly insisted on taking charge of the son in his own family; declining every
compensation but the indulgence of his liberal feelings.
Though reluctant to impose such a burden, Mr. Wakefield could not decline an "offer pressed upon him with a zeal of friendship, which derives additional value from the consideration of their comparatively short acquaintance.
For the liberty we have used of introducing this circumstance, without soliciting Mr. Shepherd's consent, we cannot offer a better apology than the sentiment of a great moralist, that “it is a loss to mankind when any good action is forgotten.”
To a mind of Mr. Wakefield's vigorous cast, nothing could be less supportable than inactivity. Soon after his arrival at Dorchester he resumed his application to his studies, which had been so long interrupted, as well by the tedious expectation of his trial, as by the cares and embarrassments with which that event was attended.
The supply of books which he could conveniently remove from Hackney was necessarily very small, and by no means sufficient
Life of Savage.