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477 various revolutions, it was sold to Sir Robert Marsham (created Lord Romney in the reign of George I.), about the beginning of the last century; but his present Lordship has built a large handsome house near the road, which, for the height of its situation, commands a fine prospect of the country. On the first day of August, 1799, his Majesty and the Royal Family visited the Moat, in order to review the Kentish Volunteers, and were entertained with splendour and festivity. The assemblage of royalty drew crowds of spectators from almost every part of the county. A small Temple on the spot commemorates the event. .
At Maidstone are several alms-houses, particularly one in the Moat Road, where I met with an old man of the name of John Brungar, the happiest creature in the world! He had been a paper-maker, and those who had employed him entertained a great regard for him on account of his honest persevering industry. When he went out he dressed very neat, and some respectable families would have him to spend the day with them. In the evening he would act Richard the Third with great humour, and to the high diversion of the young folks. His apartment in the almshouses he kept very clean, and ornamented with pictures from magazines, which he was proud to show his visitors on every occasion. He made his own clothes, dressed his own wig, and performed all the offices of housewifery. With his Bible and Prayer Book he seemed truly happy and contented, and for any thing given him he was overflowing
CURIOUS LETTER. with gratitude; at his decease many bore the last token of respect to his memory. The poor are often accused of ingratitude: this was not the case with John Brungar; and the writer of the subsequent ludicrous letter must be exempted from the charge: he is returning thanks for a suit of old clothes, which appear to have been highly acceptable; the diction is not less remarkable than the contents of the epistle; the present was made by the Rev. S. P., of Hackney, to Mr. J. B., of Daventry—it is too good not to have a place here given it in the “ short but simple annals of the
intents of the
of Hackney, have a place ne
« Reverend and worthy, indulgent and com
passionate, bounteous and ever valuable Sir, « The present you have sent has laid me under an obligation to write rather sooner than I intended, and if I was not to seize the very first opportunity that offered, to return you thanks for the reception of so very valuable a present I should be guilty of such a piece of insensibility, as that the very stones (to allude to the dialect of heaven) would become vocal, and rise up to upbraid me, especially as a few grateful expressions may be so easily uttered without any expense obtained, and the least that can be rendered to any person by whom kindness is bestowed. No one is more ready to acknowledge a benefit, nor perhaps less able to make a retaliation for it than myself. I have it in my heart to do as much, and in my power to do as little in return for favours as any
CURIOUS LETTER. man living. However as far as the value and efficacy of thankful and affectionate expressions extend, am free to do the utmost, and if it were possible for a sheet of paper to contain on the one hand, and if it were not altogether unnecessary on the other, I would give you as many thanks as the cloaths contain threads! I thank you dear Sir for the handsome and very valuable black coatI thank you for the genteel blue coat-I thank you for the neat cloth breeches-I thank you for the pieces you sent to repair them with–I thank you for the beautiful wig-and I thank you for paying the carriage of the whole! Shall I further tell you that I constantly and fervently pray for you, that I have the highest esteem for you, and I am daily forming a thousand wishes for your present and final welfare; dear Sir, I will and need only say, that you have my heart for your favours. I bless God for what you have done for me, and am ready to conclude from this instance of your bounty, that you will be a great friend to me and my family. I thank you, and again I thank you. On Saturday last I received your parcel, immediately had my hair cut off that I might have the honour to appear on the Sabbath in your wig, and being desirous of wearing the black coat once for your sake, went to the meeting in it. My body was never so elegantly arrayed since it came out of the hands of its Creator ! The cloaths fitted me well and looked gracefully upon me. Dear Sir, I thank you, and again I thank you. Was proud to tell 480
CURIOUS LETTER. Mr. A. what a favour you had sent me; Mr. A. seemed quite pleased. Indeed if any person that had seen me in my ragged dirty apparel two years ago, had beheld me last Sabbath so differently dressed in yours, they would have been apt to think that I was the reality of some of Ovid's Metamorphoses, there being so striking a difference between my former and present appearance. Dear Sir, I thank you, and again I thank you, and again I thank you. To conclude, dear Sir, you say in your letter “ I have sent you some cloaths, if you will not refuse them.” Refuse them, refuse them, refuse them-Dear Sir, what do you mean? Am surprised at your expressions. If you had sent me an old pair of shoes and stockings, should have been very thankful for them, much more so for a present so large and rich as yours, the value of which I so well know. Am persuaded they never were yours for ten pounds! Dear Sir, if at any time you have any old garment to spare, or any thing else, I shall thankfully receive it, and my family enjoy the benefits of it. What follows I am ashamed to speak, yet must own that your present would have been rather more complete if you had obliged me with a waistcoat along with it. Have not one proper to wear with the cloaths you sent me, and those being so valuable, and fitting me so well, it will be a pity to break them for that. I have nothing to add but an expression of the sincerest and most prevailing concern for your real happiness, and am dear Sir (what shall always be
481 proud to call myself) my wife and boy is with me your highly benefited and greatly obliged, humble servant.
“N. B. The hand and spelling, and composition, am very sensible is wretched, time short, matter great, tackle bad, and obliged to write in haste. Would do rather better had I more leisure. As I have cut off my hair, am at a loss for a cap; if you have one to dispose of, silk or velvet, should be glad of it.”
The Poor then are not altogether without grateful hearts—and reverting back to honest John Brungar, I could wish the following LINES to be inscribed upon his grave:
Stop reader here, and deign to look
On one without a name,
Of Fortune and of Fame.
Meek virtues filld his breast,
An honest heart his crest.
And thus his motto ran
Before both God and Man,”
Now scorns his pedigree,
To this great Family!
I have throughout my Tour endeavoured to notice. those COMFORTABLE ASYLUMS of old age