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character, all had been sunk, without remembrance or benefit, to mankind !
Such have been my reasons for publishing the Life of Mr. Elwes; and I feel pleasure, that while I may have given those smaller traits of action which best delineate character, I can truly and conscientiously say, I have not omitted one circumstance, in my memory, that was honorable to the man, whose history I have written.
With this honest assurance, I present the Memoir, thus reprinted, to the public. Their approbation of it, more kind, perhaps, than just, has called for its republication.
On doing this, I give it as a voluntary tribute to a bookseller of merit and diligence; and I wish him, unbenefited myself, every success: but before I close this account, I ought not to omit the expression of my thanks to some Members of the House of Commons, who favoured me with different anecdotes of Mr. Elwes, not entirely known to myself; and still more particularly to Thomas Ruggles, Esq. of Spainshall, in the County of Essex, for the communication of some very beautiful verses, seen at the end of the Narrative; and to Thomas Walford, Esq. of Clare, in the County of Suffolk, for the very complete Pedigree of the Elwes' Family, which leads this work; and which his very accurate researches into every interesting anecdote, could alone have' supplied.
OF THE LATE
JOHN ELWES, ESQ.
The family name of Mr. Elwes was Meggot: and as his name was · John, the conjunction of Jack Meggot, made strangers sometimes imagine that his intimates were addressing him by an assumed appellation. His father was a brewer of great eminence. His dwelling-house and offices were situated in Southwark; a borough formerly represented in parliament by his grandfather, Sir George Meggot. Mr. Clowes is now in possession of the above premises. He purchased, during his life, the estate now in possession of the family at Marcham, in Berkshire, of the Calverts, who were in the same line. The father died while the late Mr. Elwes was only four years old ; so, little of the character of Mr. Elwes is to be attributed to him; but from the mother it may be traced at once-for though she was left nearly one hundred thousand pounds by her husband-she starved herself to death!
The only children from the marriage were Mr. Elwes, and à daughter who married the father of the late Colonel Timms —and from thence came the intail of some part of the present estate.
At an early period of life he was sent to Westminster School, where he remained for ten or twelve years. During that time he certainly had not misapplied his talents - for he was a good classical scholar to the last - and it is a circumstance not a little remarkable, though well authenticated, that he never read afterwards. Never was he seen at any period of his future life with a book ; nor has he in all his different houses left behind him, books that would, were they collected together, sell for two pounds. His knowlege in accounts was still more trifling—and in some measure may account for the total ignorance he was always in as to his own affairs. * The contemporaries of Mr. Elwes, at Westminster, were
Mr. Worsley, late master of the Board of Works, and the present Lord Mansfield; who, at that time, had no objection to borrow all that young Elwes even then would lend. His lordship, however, has since changed his disposition, though Mr. Elwes never altered his.
From Westminster School, Mr. Elwes removed to Geneva, where he soon entered on pursuits more agreeable to him than study. The riding-master of the academy there, had then to boast, perhaps, three of the best riders in Europe. Mr. Worsley, Mr. Elwes, and Sir Sydney Meadows. Of the three, Elwes was reckoned the most desperate : the young horses were always put into his hands, and he was the rough-rider to the other two.
During this period he was introduced to Voltaire, whom he somewhat resembled in point of appearance : but though he has mentioned this circumstance, the genius, the fortune, the character of Voltaire never seemed to strike him—they were out of his contemplation, and his way: the horses in the riding-school he remembered much longer, and their respective qualities made a much deeper impression on him.
On his return to England, after an absence of two or three years, he was to be introduced to his uncle, the late Sir Harvey Élwes, who was then living at Stoke, in Suffolk, perhaps the most perfect picture of buman penury that ever existed. The attempts at saving money were, in him, so extraordinary, that Mr. Elwes, perhaps, never quite reached them, even at the last period of his
To Sir Harvey Elwes he was to be the heir, and of course it was requisite to please him. On this account it was necessary, even in old Mr. Elwes, to masquerade a little ; and as he was at that time in the world, and its affairs, he dressed like other people. This would not have done for Sir Harvey. So the nephew used to stop at a little inn at Chelmsford, which he did not much like, and begin to dress in character--a pair of small iron buckles, worsted stockings darned, a worn-qut old coat, and a tattered waistcoat, were put on, and onwards he rode to visit his
faction, and seemed pleased to find his heir attempting to come up with him in the race of avarice. There would they sit-saving pair!
-with a single stick on the fire, and with one glass of wine, occasionally, betwixt them, talking of the extravagance of the times; and when evening shut in, they would retire to rest--as “ going to bed saved candle-light.”
But the nephew had then, what he had always, a very extraordinary appetite--and this would have been a monstrous offence in the eye of the uncle : so Mr. Elweg was obliged to pick up a dinner first, with some neighbour in the country, and then return to Sir Harvey with a little diminutive appetite that was quite engaging. ....
A partridge, a small pudding, and a potatoe, did the business ! and the fire was suffered to go out while Sir Harvey was at dinner, as eating was quite exercise enough. ...
But as Mr. Elwes inherited from Sir Harvey a great part of the present fortune---somewhat of their histories become necessarily intermixed : and, I trust, a small digression to give the picture of Sir Harvey, will not be thought unamusing or foreign to the subject. He was, as may be imagịned, a most singular characters and the way in which he lived was not less so. His seclusion from the world nearly reached that of a hermit: and could the extremity of his avarice have been taken out of the question, a more blameless life was never led. s Of this character--a few singular çircumstances shall be given :
and to men of modern times and more dissipated manners, used to hurry, and accustomed to continual variety such a system of living as he pursued, will scarcely appear credible. But the picture is real and curious. It will serve to show « There is living out of London”—and that a man may at length so effectually retire into himself-that there may remain little else but vegetation in a human shape.
- Providence, perhaps, has wisely ordered it, that the possessors
of estates should change like the succession of seasons :--the day of tillage and the seed-time--the harvest and the consumption of it in due order, follow each other; and in the scale of events, are all necessary alike. Thiş succession was exemplified in the character of Sir Harvey Elwes, who succeeded to Sir Jervaise, a very worthy gentleman, that had involved as far as they would go, all the estates he received and left behind him. On his death, Sir Harvey found himself nominally possessed of some thousands a year, but really with an income of one hundred pounds per annum. He said, on his arrival at Stoke, the family-seat," that never would he leave it till he had entirely cleared the paternal estate ;"—and he lived to do that and to realize above one
hundred thousand pounds in addition. . But he was formed of the yery materials to make perfect--the
character of a miser. In his youth he had been given over for - a consumption, so he had no constitution and 110 passions : he was
timid, shy, and diffident in the extreme : of a thin, spare habit of body, and without a friend on earth.
As he had no acquaintance, no books, and no turn for reading Lathe hoarding up, and the counting his money, was his greatest joy. The next to that was-partridge-setting : at which he was so great an adept, and game was then so plentiful that he has been known to take 500 brace of birds in one season. But he lived on partridges he and his whole little household consisting of one man and two maids. What they could not eat he turned out again, as he never gave away any thing.
During the partridge-season, Sir Harvey and his man never missed a day, if the weather was tolerable-and his breed of dogs being remarkably good, he seldom failed in taking great quantities of gamę. At all times, he wore a black velvet cap much over his face-a worn-out full-dressed suit of clothes, and an old great coat, with worsted stockings drawn up over his knees. He rode a thin thorough-bred horse, and « the horse and his rider” both looked as if a gust of wind would have blown them away together.
When the day was not so fine as to tempt him abroad, he would walk backwards and forwards in his old hall, to save the expense of fire. ..
If a farmer in his neighborhood came in, he would strike a light in a tinder-box that he kept by him, and putting one single stick on the grate, would not add another till the first was nearly burnt out.
As he had but little connexion with London, he always had three or four thousand pounds at a time in his house. A set of fellows, who were afterwards known by the appellation of the Thackstead gang-and who were all hanged - formed a plan to rob him. They were totally unsuspected at the time, as each had some apparent occupation during the day, and went out only at night, and when they had got intelligence of any great booty.
It was the custom of Sir Harvey to go up into his bed-chamber at eight o'clock, where, after taking a basin of water-gruel, by the light of a small fire, he went to bed-to save the unnecessary extravagance of a candle. .
The gang, who knew the hour when his servant went to the stable, leaving their horses in a small grove on the Essex side of the river, walked across and hid themselves in the church porch, till they saw the man come up to his horses. They then immediately fell on him, and after some little struggle they bound and gagged him : they then ran up towards the house, tied the two maids together, and going up to Sir Harvey, presented their pistols, and demanded his money.
At no part of his life did Sir Harvey ever behave so well as in