History of Whittington and his cat (3)
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WHITTINGTON AND HIS CAT.
There once lived in a country village, in the reign of King Edward the Third, a man and his wife named Whittington, who had a son called Dick. But his father and mother dying when he was very young, he remembered but little or nothing at all of them, and used to run about the village a poor ragged little fellow. As poor Dick was not old enough to work, he was very badly off; he got but little for his dinner, and sometimes nothing at all for his breakfast; and the people in the village being most of them very poor, Dick did not obtain from them much relief.
For all this, Dick Whittington was a very sharp boy, and was always listening to what every body was talking about. On Sunday he was sure to get near the farmers, as they sat talking on the tombstones in the churchyard, before the parson was come: and once a week you might see Dick leaning against the sign-post of the village ale-house, where the people stopped to drink as they came from the next market town; and when the barber's shop door was open, Dick listened to all the news that his customers told one another.
In this manner Dick heard a great many strange things, particularly about the great city called London; and the old woman with whom Dick lodged, perceiving he had got something in his head, endeavoured to get the secret, which was his intention to go to London. No sooner did she know it, but she, in order to deter him from thinking of such a step, pointed out the happiness and the safety of a country life, on the one hand, and the noise and evils of great cities on the other, in such striking colours, as she hoped would at once fix his choice in favour of a country life.
Whittington listened to what she said with surprise and anxiety; but at length remembering that his kind and tender friend was old, and young as he was, concluded that the difference of opinion between him and her, arose solely from the one being old and loving quietness and ease, and the other being young, wishing to hear and see all that was going forward; under which idea, he resolved to forbear mentioning his wishes in future; for though a stranger to art, he knew that it was cruel to make any one unhappy,—a lesson his kind friend had strongly impressed upon his mind,—and surely those we love for their kindness to us should never be made unhappy. The old woman, a short time afterwards died, soothing herself in her last moments with the idea that she had entirely closed the heart of the poor orphan against any wish for a change; and that he would remain where he was, and there be secure from evil.
Whittington felt her loss with the regret of a child for a beloved parent; and having in vain looked round for a friend to supply her place,—"What have I to do here any longer," cried he, "where my grief is unpitied, and my wants unnoticed! where I may die of famine or despair, and no one feel or care what is to become of me?" He therefore spoke to a waggoner
to let him walk by the side of his waggon to London, as the greatest of favours; and the waggoner happening to be a good-natured and thoughtless fellow, consented without once considering what was afterwards to become of him, adding, he might sleep all night in his waggon. Poor Whittington, transported with joy at his good fortune, packed up the little he could call his own in a small bag, which slinging across his shoulders, he set off, and soon began to beat time with his feet to the waggoner's whistle, without the least fear or dread of what might become of him.
When left for the night in the waggon, his little mind began to set itself to work; he was without one relation in the world, whilst other little boys had a father and mother to protect them, he had neither friends nor money. What could he then hope for? What had he not to fear? But recollecting the last words of his dear friend, that there was a Father to the fatherless, and that he would bless and preserve him if he was only a good child. He implored his pity to a poor helpless child, promising evermore, to the best of his power, to deserve it, and then composed himself to sleep.
He was far on his way when he awoke in the morning; and being relieved in mind and body, he joined his fellow traveller, until the happy moment arrived that he was bid to look up, for there was London before his eyes.
The waggoner having made him partake of his supper, and given him a few pence for the morning, out of pure good nature, left him asleep in the hay loft, into which he had lifted him; bidding good-bye being somewhat touching, he believed, to others feelings as well as his own; but as the people of the inn had no motives, in their opinion, for treating any body kindly, he was early roused by the ostler, and told to go about his business.
Poorinstantly obeyed the word of command, but knew not where to go. All around him was astonishing—he was delighted! Every body seemed happy—every body seemed employed: whence, according to his arithmetic, every body must be getting money; he could therefore have nothing more to do than to seek to gain a master. It was true, indeed, (and he could not help sighing deeply whilst he acknowledged that truth,) he had been bred to no trade whatever—could neither read nor write—"But then," whispered Hope, "you have feet to walk upon, far and wide; hands to work, where no particular skill is required; and a tongue to speak your wants, or deliver a message you may be intrusted with." The poor boy was so enlivened by this hint, that he cried out aloud, "Who is afraid? I have, moreover, in my pocket, sufficient to buy me this day's food. I will therefore spend this whole day in seeing London."
Whittington, however, soon discovered that seeing London was not so pleasurable a task as he had flattered himself he should find it; for wherever he stopped to gaze on any object that took his fancy, he was driven on this side, and pushed on that: and, in a word, to his great surprise, when he little thought he was in any body's way, he found himself in every body's way.
As the evening drew on he began to feel an anxiety he had not taken into his account; namely, where he could pass the night. He had been cast out at the inn, and had but one penny remaining of the waggoner's bounty. As the only choice he had, however, was either to walk the streets all night, or creep under some bulk to hide himself and try to sleep, he at length fixed on a hard pillow, on which, nevertheless, he could have slept, if undisturbed by the guard of the night; for crying the hour was a source of terror to him, though to all those who felt their safety thereby, it was the voice of gladness.
He passed the next day without food, for his last and only penny had fallen out of his pocket, and had been picked up by some one before he had discovered his loss. Hungry, weary, faint, and deeply dejected, he was ashamed to beg, and knew not who to ask for work: when, on passing a gentleman's door in the Minories, in this deplorable state, he resolved to knock at it, his mind telling him he should be benefited thereby. He
with much difficulty reached the knocker; but unable to support himself, he sunk down on the steps, and the knocker slipped so suddenly out of his hand as to occasion a loud rap, and the door was opened in a moment by the gentleman's cookmaid, a woman of a most unfeeling heart. Highly offended on beholding the low creature she had hurried herself to wait upon, she threatened to spurn him away, if he did not immediately remove himself. At this menaced harsh treatment he endeavoured to get out of her way, but was unable to do so. At this moment the master of the house arrived, whose name was Fitzwarren, a mercer and merchant, with his daughter. Mr. Fitzwarren was all benevolence, his young daughter all compassion towards the distressed; and poor Whittington's heart was so relieved by their looks, that he told his tale in such touching language, that the young lady entreated, and her father ordered the wretched boy to be taken into the house, fed, and put to bed, until he had recovered his strength, and could walk from thence and get his living.
Little Dick would have lived very happily in this worthy family, had it not been for the crabbed cook, who was finding fault and scolding at him from morning till night; and was withal so fond of roasting and basting, that, when the spit was out of her hands, she would be at basting poor Dick's head and shoulders with a broom, or any thing else that happened to fall in her way: till at last her ill usage of him was told to Miss Alice, Mr. Fitzwarren's daughter, who asked the ill-tempered creature, if she was not ashamed to use a little friendless boy so cruelly; and added, she would certainly be turned away if she did not treat him with more kindness.
But though the cook was so ill-tempered, Mr. Fitzwarren's footman was quite the contrary: he had lived in the family many years, was rather elderly, and had once a little boy of his own, who died when about the age of Whittington; so he could not but feel compassion for the poor boy.
As the footman was very fond of reading, he used generally in the evening to entertain his fellow-servants, when they had done their work, with some amusing book. The pleasure our little hero took in hearing him made him very much desire to learn to read too; so the next time the good-natured footman gave him a half-penny, he bought a horn-book with it; and with a little of his help, Dick soon learned his letters, and afterwards to read. About this time, Miss Alice was going out one morning for a walk: and the footman happening to be out of the way, little Dick, who had received from Mr. Fitzwarren a neat suit of clothes, to go to church on Sundays, was ordered to put them on and walk behind her. As they walked along, Miss Alice, seeing a poor woman with one child in her arms, and another at her back, pulled out her purse, and gave her some money; and as she was putting it again into her pocket, she dropped it on the ground, and walked on. Luckily Dick, who was behind, saw what she had done, picked it up, and immediately presented it to her.
Miss in a short time slipped into the kitchen, having formed a a most unfavourable opinion of Mrs. Cook's humanity, from what she had seen of her behaviour to the poor boy, to know how they went on; and, having learned from himself how long he had been a poor orphan, and how he was allured to London, and the
grievous distress that journey had plunged him into, she hastened to her father and mother, with tears in her eyes, and pleaded so successfully for him, that it was agreed, if he proved a good boy, he should remain in the family till he could be better provided for, as the only work that the family could give him, was assisting the cook, cleaning shoes, &c.
But most unfortunately as it then appeared, the choice of where he should sleep being left to the cook, she had the cruelty to hoist him up into a loft, common in old built houses, which, in addition to the hard bed she gave him to lie on, was infested with rats and mice without number.
Whittington, nevertheless, resolved not to complain, for, under the roof with such worthy people as Mr. Fitzwarren and his wife, not forgetting their little daughter, he thought his lot had fallen in good ground; but, as delivering himself from such great annoyances was a grand object, he resolved to buy a cat with the first money he got. Nor was it long before he had both the means and the opportunity of so doing; for, very early in the morning, within the same week, a little girl passed the door as he was cleaning it, with a cat in her arms; which she offered to sell, but wanted more money than he could raise. But perceiving he had tears in his eyes, and a tempting penny in his hand, she came down to his price.
The delighted boy hastened, unperceived, to his loft, before the cook opened her eyes; and finding a wicker basket with a cover, which being in dirty condition, and out of use, he thought he might venture to take, for his cat to live in during his absence in the day, to prevent her running out of the loft, and the cook from getting a sight of her; for he knew her ill-temper to be such, that if she ever beheld her, she would turn her out into the street.
Having surmounted these prodigious difficulties, he began tohimself at stolen moments, when he ran up stairs to ask Puss how she did, with thinking what name he should give her; when hoping she might one day become a favourite with his young mistress, he called her Felice.
Poor Whittington's cat, besides being an excellent mouser, had all the sportive talents of her tribe. Whence, as soon as her master found himself perfectly freed from his late tormentors, he began to call them into exercise; and accordingly having received a few lessons only, Puss would creep into his pocket like a squirrel, follow him as far as he would permit her, and like a little puppy dog, jump over his hands at command. In a word, she became as lively and entertaining a companion, as she had proved herself to be a useful one, and was the whole solace of his life. In one of these happy moments, for they were the only happy moments he ever enjoyed, out of his kind master and mistress's presence, he was at length surprised by his young lady; for cook being gone out, he forgot to guard against other visitors; and, at his young mistress's request, Puss went through all her pretty manoeuvrings, with equal honour to herself and her master.
Whittington besought the young lady not to mention a word of her discovery to any person on earth, and she was so good as to promise she would comply with his request; and being, moreover, greatly pleased with Puss, she contrived to have a quarter of an hour's play with her every day, when the family dined at home.
Puss, as well as her master, improving much on acquaintance, Miss Fitzwarren (though drawing was taught but to few in those days) drew Whittington and his cat to perfection; and was so kind as to let the picture become an ornament of his loft, and proud enoughwas of possessing such a gift. These happy moments were, however, short-lived, for the poor boy was the slave of a barbarous woman's temper, who not only made him turnspit, but spurned him and beat him at will.
Miss Fitzwarren and Whittington were nearly of the same age; her person was not beautiful, but the very first-rate of agreeable, and her disposition truly amiable, No wonder, therefore, that to a poor lad, smarting under all the evils of a contrary disposition, she should appear nothing less than an angel; whilst the modesty of Whittington's demeanour, his uncommonly good language for his condition, his grateful and respectful conduct, made her his friend; insomuch, that she begged her father would let one of the clerks teach the poor fellow to write, as he was an orphan, and had no other chance of learning what might be so useful to him in future. One of the clerks was therefore ordered to set him copies, and hear him read; and his improvement was astonishing.
Mr. Fitzwarren being a silk mercer, and a great merchant, imported large quantities of silk from India, just in the state it was spun by the little worms, thence called silk worms. Of course this gentleman sent out such articles as were best received abroad in exchange; and it being his benevolent custom, when a ship, freighted at his own expense, was ready to sail, to call his family around him, that every one might provide a little venture, according to their wishes or abilities, to be improved to the best advantage by the kind care of the captain, who was a man after his own heart. On looking about him on such an occasion, the poor lad had hid himself, from the shame of being the only one incapable of benefiting by his master's liberal offer. Miss begged she might call him; when her voice instantly drew him forth, and she would not return to the parlour without him.missed Whittington, and had him sought for; but
"You have been weeping," said she, "with Puss, I suppose; but wherefore do you shed tears thus, over a creature that neither can understand your grief, nor in any degree soothe it?" "She does both," replied Whittington: "she is lively when I am lively, and sorrowful when I am sorrowful; for, pardon my freedom, Miss, she reads my feelings, as you have had the goodness to do, in my face."
Whittington assured his master he had every due sense of his kindness, but had not an article he could call his own. His young lady entreated she might buy something for him; but her father told her that would not do, for it must be his own, to be a caught the word, he ordered puss to be brought, and made Whittington deliver her up, with his own hands to the captain; but not until Miss, in order to show the value of Dick's venture to all present, had made her perform all her sportive tricks, to the equal surprise and pleasure of the whole company, except the cook; who beheld the boy part from her, with a heart-breaking look, wholly unmoved.venture. "You have, Dick, a cat," said Miss. The poor lad burst into tears; but his master's ear having
Whittington a second time hid himself, to conceal his grief from all eyes; but strange to tell, the whole scene operated so maliciously on the cook's mind, from thinking the boy was too kindly treated, and such like ideas, that she made it her daily practice to tease and torment him; either about having parted with his poor cat, that he pretended to have so much love for, she would say; or his vanity and folly in setting so high a value on her. "A fine cargo, no doubt," cried she, “she will bring you in return! Perhaps herself; that is," she would add, “her skin stuffed, to supply the place of her lifeless body, and to make her look as if she was alive!"
Whittington was so distressed by these taunts and jeers, that he was obliged to call all his reason, and all the good lessons his old deceased friend had taught him, in aid, to enable him to support them; for her unprovoked malice embittered his life: and the more especially, as, by losing his cat, he was cut off from the consoling looks and words of his dear young mistress.
At length, however, quite terrified at his own feelings, without having the relief of breathing them to any one, he resolved to run away; for in his opinion, to die of grief that ought to be conquered, or by human means, was alike offensive to his Maker. Having tied up a trifle or two, he contrived to slip them out of doors, and soon follow them. He stopped and looked back on the paradise he had quitted with grief. Never should he hear his master's kind voice more; never more receive his mistress's gentle commands, nor behold his dear young lady again! But finding the more he lingered, the more languid his resolution became, he set off, and never once stopped until he reached the stone at the foot of Highgate Hill; which, from his having there rested himself, is called "Whittington's Stone" to this day.
The poor fellow's mind was so agitated, he knew not what he saw or heard, until roused into attention by Bow bells, which, as it was their custom on All-hallow's day, began to ring a peal; that, by the force of fancy, sounded in his ear,—
Turn again Whittington,
Lord Mayor of London!
He suddenly jumped up, and rubbed his eyes, that he might be certain he was awake. "Ah!" cried he, "is it I—the forlorn, the outcast Whittington, that shall be Lord Mayor?” Then shall I see those I love best once again!" Still the bells continued their song, "It is enough," said Whittington; "what would not any one endure to arrive at such greatness and such honour! I will therefore go back, and patiently sustain all I must suffer, only to gain myself a chance for such glory and such happiness;" and thus making hope his walking-stick, returned back, exercising it against despairing thoughts: and all this was unobserved by any one.
Whilst Whittington was bowing his neck to the yoke of an usurped tyranny, Puss and her fellow voyagers made way, proceeding with all sail for the East; but navigation was then a
and difficult art; for the compass, that now tells us how to steer, was then wholly unknown. Whence the winds and the waves sported with ships, and often tossed them out of their latitude; as was the case with "Unicorn," to the delay and alarm of all on board.
Puss, during her passage, however, presented the captain with a young family of kittens; who grew up as sportive as their mother, and thereby diverted the sailors many a tedious hour. Hopeless, however, at length, of regaining their lost track, and terrified by the view of their reduced provisions, (for, at sea, the remedy for such an evil is dreadful but to think of,) they were reduced to the horrible extremity of casting lots who should die, when they were relieved in the moment of their deepest despair, by seeing land; and this land, when they reached it, proved to be a kingdom on the African coast, abounding with mines of wealth.
The arrival of a ship on this coast was so pleasurable, because so unusual a thing, that the king sent some of his high courtiers to congratulate them on their safety, if compelled by a tempest to visit them. The captain made suitable returns to their compliments; and accepted the invitation sent him by the king and queen, together with such persons as he chose should share the honour, to dine with them. But what must be his surprise, when, on an elegant dinner being served up, an
incredible number of rats and mice rushed forth and devoured it, or, at least, rendered what they left behind them unfit to be eaten.
The captain, extremely astonished, asked if these vermin were not very offensive. The king answered, in the pathetic lines which we, the historians of Whittington, have heard sung by his most sable Majesty's representative,
Me no breakfast, dine, nor sup,
Rat he come, and eat all up.
Ting a ring, ting, &c.
And, “O yes," said the lords in waiting, the king would give half his treasures to be free of them; for they not only destroy his dinner, but they disturb him even in his chamber, so that he is obliged to be watched while he sleeps.
The captain jumped for joy, remembering poor Whittington's hard case, and the cat he had intrusted to his care, and told the king he had a creature on board his ship, that would destroy the vermin, and save the kingdom.
The king was overjoyed."Bring this creature to me,” says he; "and if she can really perform what you say, I will load your ship with gold dust and ivory in exchange for her."
Away ran the captain to the ship, while another dinner was providing, and, taking puss under his arm, returned to the hovel, called a palace, in time to see the second dinner meet with the same fate as the first.
The cat, at the sight of them, did not wait for bidding, but sprung from the captain's arm, and in a few moments laid the greatest part of the rats and mice dead at her feet, while the rest, in the greatest fright imaginable, scampered away to their hiding-places. She was then stroked and patted by every one; and the sum given for her is well known to have been immense, if even exaggerated by fame in some small degree.
Her majesty, however, with Puss in her lap, where she had very speedily sung herself fast asleep, appeared lost in thought; the cause of which being inquired into, she said, “That in feeling the past, she could not forbear being alarmed for the future; as there could be little doubt, if the cat died, the offensive animals would renew their old practices, which could not fail exciting tenfold distress and disgust by their having been for some time free from their violence." How agreeable, therefore, must the news be, that the captain could furnish them with a whole family, sufficient, in process of time, to stock the kingdom!
The queen had a tender mind, and having heard the captain (at her own request,) many times repeat poor Whittington's history, his orphan infancy, his friendless state, and his distress at parting from his cat, though for the greatest hoped-for advantage, she told the king, and his majesty was perfectly of the same opinion, that having made them so happy, it was their duty to render him happy also; " therefore," cried she, "tell him to receive back his beloved cat, lest, without that addition to his wealth, he may be unable to enjoy all we bestow upon him." Puss was accordingly recommitted to her wicker-basket, by the queen's own hands, having first tried and proved that the progeny she left behind, were as capable as herself of protecting the palace from the late invaders.
The captain now a second time hoisted his flag, unfurled his sails, and, with a fair wind, and most encouraging gale, set sail for England; but the ship “Unicorn" had for so many months been unheard of, that Mr. Fitzwarren concluded it was buried, and all it contained, in the deep. And whilst poor Whittington was shocked at remembering his loss, when so many of his fellow-beings were gone to the bottom, yet was he unable to forget the love he bore his cat, or forbear to lament he had exposed her to the perils of the sea.
Mr. Fitzwarren, to whom the captain was endeared from his manifold virtues, he setting him down for a human gem, above all price, was greatly concerned to think he was no more. One morning, however, when these friendly regrets were nearly overpowering his mind, who should he behold at the door, but the very man he utterly despaired of ever seeing again.
The meeting was touching on both sides; and ladies being present, were much affected at the view thereof. When, no longer able to suppress her desire to know how Puss had borne the voyage, Miss Fitzwarren telling the captain as much, he immediately opened on their knowledge the wonderful events that animal had produced; adding, that he much feared it would be dangerous to let the poor lad know all his good fortune at once! or, even to be made master of the wealth he had brought him. "Let him be called," cried Mr. Fitzwarren—"instantly called," said the worthy man, with heartfelt joy at the news: "gifts of Providence must be held sacred; and the whole gift of Providence, on this occasion, is the orphan's due.”
Whittington slowly appeared; but his appearance was most dismaying, for the cook had just complimented him with a ladle of dripping over his clothes; which, though by no means the best he was master of, were decent, and more than suited to the business he was engaged in: namely, turning the spit, and cleaning his master's shoes.
"My worthy fellow," said Mr. Fitzwarren, seizing his dirty hand, "be of good cheer: patient sufferers seldom pass unrewarded. Instead, therefore, of the scullery and the kitchen, to which you never more return, you are—yes, my late forlorn child—you are now become any equal; and as with me, virtue, much rather than money, makes the man, you shall, henceforth, in honour of your virtue, be my beloved friend, my favourite companion." Whittington's astonishment rendered him for some time speechless; the ladies wept without reserve; and Mr. Fitzwarren and the captain turned aside their heads, to hide a humane and manly tear, that would not be suppressed.
At length, “You, Sir," cried Whittington, "are much too good to sport with the unhappy, or to wound the defenceless. I therefore believe what you tell me to be true, because you tell it me; as unable as I am to comprehend wherefore such blessings are poured down on my head. Those trunks," continued he, pointing to them, "are marked, I see, as mine: but, oh, Sir, that mark is a false one!—they are yours and you must either deign to consider them as such, or their contents can never be enjoyed in any manner by me."
"Idle, idle," said Mr. Fitzwarren. “Do not, dearest Sir," resumed Whittington, “do not plunge me into despair do not drive me from your beloved presence, in the very moment you wish to see me happy. Allow me to be humble, your grateful friend, if such is your generous desire; but take the wealth, for your friendship is all the riches, all the honour, and all the happiness, I would obtain!" “Bravo! my dear Whittington," cried Mr. Fitzwarren: "and be your happiness whatever you choose to make it."
Whittington rose, and was preparing to retire to improve his dress. "Hold! hold!" said the captain: "these trunks are not all the king and queen have sent you. Holla, there!" cried he, to a sailor in the hall, “bring in that article." When, lo! what should present itself to the delighted eyes of Whittington, but the well-known wicker basket, out of which leaped Mrs. Puss, and paid her due compliments to the company; for the creature knew them all, rubbed her head against her master's face, twirled herself round Mr. Fitzwarren's legs, looked up at Mrs. Fitzwarren, and purred; and jumping up into Miss Fitzwarren's lap, composed herself, and seemed to feel herself perfectly at home. But on her master's retiring to dress, she eagerly followed him; and such was the pleasure her return gave him, that he forgot his wealth whilst he caressed her, and promised her he would never part with her more to the end of her or his life.
Mr. Fitzwarren told his wife and the captain that, in the first knowledge of Whittington's amazing good fortune, he did not dare to oppose either his humour or his wishes, lest allcircumstances of his new condition should be too much for him to bear; but so soon as his mind recovered its firmness, he would duly regulate matters between them. He spoke highly of the merits of both his head and his heart, and said he would pledge himself for his doing honour to himself, his country, and mankind, by rendering his wealth a blessing to multitudes: "For," continued this gentleman, "it is evident to me, the poor worthy fellow will perform all the different parts assigned him by Providence, on the great stage of human life, with first rate claims to applause; and that, however humble his entrance, his exit will be glorious.
Whittington soon rejoined them, dressed in his Sunday's clothes, and a very smart well-looking youth he became, with little advantage from his wardrobe; made his very best bow with a very good grace; took his seat, (happy, happy creature, as his countenance bespoke him,) between his master and mistress; being not only invited, but kindly commanded so to do, with his old friend, Mrs. Puss, purring at his feet; and dinner being served up, except a blush or two of grateful diffidence and modest sensibility, proved by his whole behaviour, he was at length got into his real, right place.
The next thing to this establishment of his happiness, his great concern was to reward every person that had been indulgent or serviceable to him; not forgetting the waggoner who brought him to London; or even the Cook herself, whoso very unkindness to him, he said, had wrought out his good fortune: for, had she not lodged him in the loft, he had never bought his cat. And what obligations must he then be under to his young lady, who was particularly and immediately the cause of his sending her abroad! The cook, however, was never able to behold him, from the ill treatment she had given him, without confusion of both heart and face; though he cheerfully and repeatedly desired her to cease to remember what he had forgot, and to look upon him henceforward only as a friend.
To the captain, under Mr. Fitzwarren's instruction, or rather restraining voice, (for Whittington's gratitude knew no bounds,) he made a noble present. He rejoiced the heart of the whole ship's crew by his bounty; and, in closing the lid of the jewel box, sent as a part of the purchase of his cat, which was of great value, he wrote thereon, Miss Fitzwarren, who received a nod from her father, not to contradict him at that time. "And, my honoured madam," said he to his mistress, "what token of my respect, my—my—feelings, (for his heart had not an expression equal to his wish,) can I offer you?" "Give me your hand," replied that worthy woman, "let have the pleasure of seeing you composed, for your present happiness is too agitating for your spirits, and you will greatly oblige me."
When sufficient time, in Mr. Fitzwarren's opinion, had elapsed, to render them all tranquil, and as he called it, rational creatures, he was first surprised, and next quite angry, at Whittington's persisting to refuse the possession of his fortune, even at length to the degree of telling him he did not deserve it. Whittington defended his conduct with much address; "For, Sir," said he, “I wish toindependent; that is, to make myself happy in my own way. What wealth Providence has so miraculously given me, I know not how to dispose of, or enjoy; I must be broke in, Sir, to my good fortune. by degrees. What money is of my own getting, I shall know the value of—shall feel my own; and, by habit, all the flutter of astonishment, which my heart is now unable to throw off, will gradually : but to rush from the extremity of poverty into unbounded prosperity, believe me, Sir, I have no powers equal to sustaining the shock; and you must, therefore, either have the goodness to save me from myself, or leave me to be undone."
There was so much good sense and worthy-mindedness in his argument, that Mr. Fitzwarren was overcome. "I consent to be your banker," said he, "your guardian, so long as you choose to call yourself a minor; but shall rejoice to be informed, that my much-valued Whittington is no longer a boy, and, of course, capable of acting for himself.”
Whittington being now, as he called it, master of himself, withdrew from his friends to collect his thoughts, and begin to be calmly happy. He recalled to his memory every moral and excellent lesson his worthy deceased friend had given him. "Blessed spirit!" cried he, "the person to whom I owe my birth are wholly unknown to me; but your tender compassion for my orphan state, which flowed solely from the benevolence of your heart; that guarded that my soul should prove upright, my life useful to myself and others, and my death happy: I feel myself unutterably indebted to you; nor shall they, to the best of my ability, be unfulfilled. Your good will for me, therefore, shall teach me universal good will for my fellow beings; your kind relief of my infant necessities, make me acquire wealth as a steward for those who want the means of subsistence; and your virtues, by my practising them, give more glory to my name, than all that honours and riches can bestow."in my helpless infancy; watched over my growth; and, above all, the manifold acts of kindness bestowed upon me; your anxiety and daily prayers
Accordingly Whittington soon started forth the man of business; and amongst the other money-getting methods he pursued, bought up in Leadenhall Market, all that was then, and is at this time, in Ireland called the offal—that is, the intestines of cattle; superintended their cleaning, until in a fit condition to be exposed tofor those ranks that were glad to make a cheap purchase, of however coarse food; and refuse was sold for dogs' and cats' meat, with very considerable profit. He moreover, according to Stowe, dealt largely in wool, cloth, leather, and pearls; much worn by the British ladies at that time. Out of the returns of which, he went about feeding hungry, clothing the naked, releasing the prisoner, and wiping the tears from tho cheeks of the worthy distressed, wherever he found them. All his undertakings flourished in his hands; and, in this fulness of self-obtained prosperity, Mr. Fitzwarren resolved to question him as to his motive of conduct, respecting the purchase-money for his cat: for Mr. Fitzwarren, as a kind father, was anxious to his beloved and only child the of an honest and valuable man.
But poor Whittington was so careful to conceal his regard for Miss Fitzwarren, lest it should be thought presumptuous, and thereby deprive him of the friendship of a family he so highly prized, that no one suspected such a thing; and his master from delicacy, and the fear of laying a constraint on his grateful feelings, had never so much as hinted at the subject. "My beloved fellow," said he, however, to himmorning when they were quite by themselves, "wherefore do you exclude me from a knowledge of what passes in your heart?—what its views—what its desires are:—as also why you, who are so active in making others happy, are so backward in promoting your own happiness?" Whittington sighed, cast his eyes on the ground, and from the high respect he bore his master, (as he would still often call him,) could only say, "You, Sir, have a daughter."
Mr. Fitzwarren on behaviour; whilst every worthy woman must be charmed with his goodness of heart, he caught him by the hand, and said, "Be it so:—let the name of father be added to the name of friend, and therefore make me completely happy. She is yours, my Whittington, if with her own consent." "And without her own consent, I would die," replied Whittington, "before I would receive her hand." Miss and her mother were sent for, and never was there a party endeared to each other. Mr. Fitzwarren called Whittington his son elect; Mrs. Fitzwarren, her dearest boy: and Miss Fitzwarren confessed she preferred him to his whole sex.instant recollected many instances of tender attachment that, with all his caution, had escaped him; and, being convinced that no young woman, whose affections were not engaged, could dislike either his person or his
The humility of Mr. Whittington's mind arising from a strong sense of his duty to society in general, prevented his temper from exhilarating into arrogance, petulance, or superciliousness: though suddenly grown rich, and become equal to the first merchants in the, pride had no share in the of his circumstances.
King Edward the Third being then at war, solicited a subsidy. In thisMr. Whittington joined in £10,000, an astonishing sum in those days from one individual. What contributed much in favour of Whittington, was exclusion of the Lombard merchants. These, and the Jews abroad, conducted at that time the whole financial of the City of London; but Mr. Whittington, upon their departure, came in for a share of it.
About this put into his place, to finish the year; and this is the first mention of his being knighted, and of his great importance in the city at that time, being only about ten years after his coming there.the king demanded of the City of London to advance him £4000, upon the poll-tax, and the Mayor, Adam Staple, proving backward in performing the same, he was by the king turned out of that office, and Sir Richard Whittington
In 1377, the first year of King Richard II. he was called by summons to the parliament. Thus we see Whittington, from a poor deserted and forlorn boy, conducting the concerns of the first and most renowned republic in any kingdom of the world; for so must the City of London be considered, governing itself independently by its own laws.
Thus he grew in riches and fame the most considerable of the citizens, greatly beloved by all, especially the poor, several hundreds of whom he publicly or secretly assisted or supplied.
About this time it was that he married his master's daughter, Miss Fitzwarren; and at their wedding was present, among other noble characters, the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, &c.
According to the banner, once existing in Guildhall, but since destroyed by the fire which consumed the city, Whittington served his first mayoralty in 1397. He was now near forty years of age, of a goodly form, and chosen into the office by his fellow citizens, whose approbation of hisis a sound and substantial proof that he was a good, loyal, and patriotic man.
His second mayoralty occurred in 1408, in the reign of Henry IV. His third and last service of Mayor happened in 1419, in Henry the Fifth's time, in which situation he behaved with his usual prudence. Though age had now taken off much of his activity, yet he was the most vigilant magistrate of his time. Soon after Henry's conquest of France, Sir Richard entertained him and his queen at Guildhall, in such grand style, that he was pleased to say, "Never prince had such a subject;" and conferred upon him and some of the aldermen the honour of knighthood.
At this entertainment the king particularly praised the fire, which was made of choice wood, mixed with mace, cloves, and other spices; on which Sir Richard said, he would endeavour to make one still moreto his majesty, and immediately tore, and threw into the fire, the king's bond for 10,000 marks to the company of mercers; 12,500 to the chamber of London; 12,000 to the mercers, staplers, goldsmiths, haberdashers, vintners, brewers, and bakers; 8000 marks each. "All these," said Sir Richard," with divers others lent for the payment of your soldiers in France, I have taken in and discharged to the amount of £60,000 sterling. Can your majesty desire to see such another sight?” The king and nobles were struck dumb with surprise at his wealth and liberality.
Sir Richard spent the remainder of his days in honourable retirement at home, in his house in Grub-street, beloved by rich and poor. By his wife he left two sons, some of whose posterity are still worthy citizens. He built many charitable houses, founded a church in Vintry Ward, Upper Thames-street, dedicated to St. Michael. he built a vault, for the sepulchre of his father and mother-in-law, and the remainder of the Fitzwarren family, and where himself and wife lay afterwards.
In 1413,founded an alms-house and college, on College-hill; which was afterwards suppressed by an order of council in King Edward the Seventh's time. And his alms houses remained till late years, when they were pulled down, and an elegant gothic structure erected near the foot of Highgate-hill, at the entrance of the Tunnel-road: these are under the direction of the Mercer's Company, who allow each pensioner 3s. 10d. per week.
The executors of the will of Richard Whittington constituted five chaplains in his college founded in this church; which were confirmed by the king in the third of Henry VI.
Sir Richard Whittington was three times buried, by his executors, under a fair monument; then in the reign of Edward VI., the parson of that church, thinking some great riches (as he said) to be buried with him, caused his monument to be broken, his body to be spoiled of his leaden sheet, and again the second time to be buried; and in the reign of Queen Mary, the parishioners were forced to take him up to lap him in lead, as afore, to bury him a third time, and to place his monument, or the like, over him again, which remained; and so he rested, tillgreat fire of London, in 1666, violated his resting place again.
Sir Richard built the gate and prison of Newgate as it formerly stood; gave large sums to Bartholomew's Hospital: founded a library in Grey Friars; endowed Christ's Hospital with a considerable sum; built Guildhall Chapel, and the east end ofHall.
Dame Alice, his wife, died in the 63d year of her age; after which he never remarried, though he outlived her near twenty years. At last he died like the patriarch, full of age and honour, leaving a good name to posterity.
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