There are, I think, Sentiments in the following Letter from my Friend Captain SENTRY, which discover a rational and equal Frame of Mind, as well prepared for an advantageous as an unfortunate Change of Condition.
Coverley-Hall, Nov. 15, Worcestershire.
'I am come to the Succession of the Estate of my honoured Kinsman Sir ROGER DE COVERLEY; and I assure you I find it no easy Task to keep up the Figure of Master of the Fortune which was so handsomely enjoyed by that honest plain Man. I cannot (with respect to the great Obligations I have, be it spoken) reflect upon his Character, but I am confirmed in the Truth which I have, I think, heard spoken at the Club, to wit, That a Man of a warm and well-disposed Heart with a very small Capacity, is highly superior in human Society to him who with the greatest Talents is cold and languid in his Affections. But, alas! why do I make a difficulty in speaking of my worthy Ancestor's Failings? His little Absurdities and Incapacity for the Conversation of the politest Men are dead with him, and his greater Qualities are even now useful to him. I know not whether by naming those Disabilities I do not enhance his Merit, since he has left behind him a Reputation in his Country which would be worth the Pains of the wisest Man's whole Life to arrive at. By the way I must observe to you, that many of your Readers have mistook that Passage in your Writings, wherein Sir ROGER is reported to have enquired into the private Character of the young Woman at the Tavern. I know you mentioned that Circumstance as an Instance of the Simplicity and Innocence of his Mind, which made him imagine it a very easy thing to reclaim one of those Criminals, and not as an Inclination in him to be guilty with her. The less discerning of your Readers cannot enter into that Delicacy of Description in the Character: But indeed my chief Business at this time is to represent to you my present State of Mind, and the Satisfactions I promise to my self in the Possession of my new Fortune. I have continued all Sir ROGER'S Servants, except such as it was a Relief to dismiss into little Beings within my Manor: Those who are in a List of the good Knight's own Hand to be taken care of by me, I have quartered upon such as have taken new Leases of me, and added so many Advantages during the Lives of the Persons so quartered, that it is the Interest of those whom they are joined with, to cherish and befriend them upon all Occasions. I find a considerable Sum of ready Money, which I am laying out among my Dependants at the common Interest, but with a Design to lend it according to their Merit, rather than according to their Ability. I shall lay a Tax upon such as I have highly obliged, to become Security to me for such of their own poor Youth, whether Male or Female, as want Help towards getting into some Being in the World. I hope I shall be able to manage my Affairs so, as to improve my Fortune every Year, by doing Acts of Kindness. I will lend my Money to the Use of none but indigent Men, secured by such as have ceased to be indigent by the Favour of my Family or my self. What makes this the more practicable, is, that if they will do any one Good with my Money, they are welcome to it upon their own Security: And I make no Exception against it, because the Persons who enter into the Obligations, do it for their own Family. I have laid out four thousand Pounds this way, and it is not to be imagined what a Crowd of People are obliged by it. In Cases where Sir ROGER has recommended, I have lent Money to put out Children, with a Clause which makes void the Obligation, in case the Infant dies before he is out of his Apprenticeship; by which means the Kindred and Masters are extremely careful of breeding him to Industry, that he may repay it himself by his Labour, in three Years Journeywork after his Time is out, for the Use of his Securities. Opportunities of this kind are all that have occurred since I came to my Estate; but I assure you I will preserve a constant Disposition to catch at all the Occasions I can to promote the Good and Happiness of my Neighbourhood.
'But give me leave to lay before you a little Establishment which has grown out of my past Life, that I doubt not, will administer great Satisfaction to me in that Part of it, whatever that is, which is to come.
'There is a Prejudice in favour of the Way of Life to which a Man has been educated, which I know not whether it would not be faulty to overcome: It is like a Partiality to the Interest of one's own Country before that of any other Nation. It is from an Habit of Thinking, grown upon me from my Youth spent in Arms, that I have ever held Gentlemen, who have preserved Modesty, Good-nature, Justice, and Humanity in a Soldier's Life, to be the most valuable and worthy Persons of the human Race. To pass through imminent Dangers, suffer painful Watchings, frightful Alarms, and laborious Marches for the greater part of a Man's Time, and pass the rest in a Sobriety conformable to the Rules of the most virtuous civil Life, is a Merit too great to deserve the Treatment it usually meets with among the other part of the World. But I assure you, Sir, were there not very many who have this Worth, we could never have seen the glorious Events which we have in our Days. I need not say more to illustrate the Character of a Soldier, than to tell you he is the very contrary to him you observe loud, sawcy, and over-bearing in a red Coat about Town. But I was going to tell you, that in Honour of the Profession of Arms, I have set apart a certain Sum of Money for a Table for such Gentlemen as have served their Country in the Army, and will please from Time to Time to sojourn all, or any Part of the Year, at Coverley. Such of them as will do me that Honour, shall find Horses, Servants, and all things necessary for their Accommodation and Enjoyment of all the Conveniences of Life in a pleasant various Country. If Colonel Camperfelt be in Town, and his Abilities are not employ'd another way in the Service, there is no Man would be more welcome here. That Gentleman's thorough Knowledge in his Profession, together with the Simplicity of his Manners, and Goodness of his Heart, would induce others like him to honour my Abode; and I should be glad my Acquaintance would take themselves to be invited or not, as their Characters have an Affinity to his.
'I would have all my Friends know, that they need not fear (though I am become a Country Gentleman) I will trespass against their Temperance and Sobriety. No, Sir, I shall retain so much of the good Sentiments for the Conduct of Life, which we cultivated in each other at our Club, as to contemn all inordinate Pleasures: But particularly remember, with our beloved Tully, that the Delight in Food consists in Desire, not Satiety. They who most passionately pursue Pleasure, seldomest arrive at it. Now I am writing to a Philosopher, I cannot forbear mentioning the Satisfaction I took in the Passage I read Yesterday in the same Tully. A Nobleman of Athens made a Compliment to Plato the Morning after he had supped at his House, Your Entertainments do not only please when you give them, but also the Day after.
_I am, My worthy Friend,
Your most obedient humble Servant,_
WILLIAM SENTRY.Translation of motto: