Obrázky stránek

character as a combination of illustrious virtues. Her heart was deeply interested in the abolition of the slave trade, and when lying on her dying bed, she sent repeatedly for Sir Fowell, and urged him to make the cause and condition of the slave the first object of his life. Almost her last act was to reiterate this solemn charge, but she could then only utter a few broken words, and nearly expired in the effort. The baronet never lost the impression of her earnestness, and he often referred to it as having prepared his mind for his future exertions in that important work.

Mrs. Gurney's sons were (we believe) all philanthropic and useful members of society ; we frequently read of them as co-operators with Mrs. Fry in her labours. Some of them accompanied her on her journeys abroad. Joseph John is the most distinguished, as it was he who laid before the public a work on the “ State of Prisons in England and Scotland”-drawn from personal inspection--which led to very considerable reforms, MRS. BUXTON,


Mrs. BUXTON, who was a member of the Society of Friends, was left a widow with several children when her eldest son (Thomas Fowell) was only six years of age. She was a woman of sound sense, strong mind, and superior abilities ; but she had peculiar notions with regard to the proper mode of educating her boys, which we rather state as matters of fact, than altogether hold up as a model for imitation. Her desire was, “that her sons should have strong, vigorous, decided characters, mental independence, moral courage, and unconquerable will.” Her idea of man was, “robustness, power, self-trust, general capacity for any achievement he might deem it right to undertake, united with candour and benevolence, loving thoughts, sympathy with suffering, and hostility to injustice and wrong.” She had a thorough contempt for weakness and effeminacy, and to counteract any tendency to those evils, she perhaps went to the extreme on the contrary side. Fowell early acquired the habit of thinking for himself

, and to this habitual independence and decision, he attributed the success he met with in after life. Connected

• The following brief sketch is gathered from the Rev. Thomas Binney's “Lecture to Young Men," delivered before the Young Men's Christian Association, Exeter Hall,

with this independence, however, Mrs. Buxton tried to inspire all her children with those sentiments which would induce self-denial and self-sacrifice, and make them thoughtful for the happiness of others. That her efforts were successful in Fowell's case may be seen in his general conduct; and that he himself attributed the benevolence and stability of his character to the early instruction he had received from her, may be seen by a remark he once made to her. It was this, “I constantly feel, especially in action and exertion for others, the effects of principles early implanted by you in my mind.”

He had a very exalted idea of his mother's character, both as regarded intellect and moral worth ; and his love for her was strong. his childhood, implicit obedience to herself had been one of her established rules, she, nevertheless, gave him much liberty, and, as he was rather of a violent and domineering temper, he felt his importance, as being the eldest, and acted the little tyrant over his brothers and sister, as well as the servants. Once when this fault was noticed to his mother by a friend, she said—“Never mind, he is self-willed now

-you will see it turn out well in the end." In that instance it did turn out well, but this was certainly not a principle to be generally


acted upon.

It appears, however, that these outbreaks sometimes caused Mrs. Buxton great uneasiness. Once, when he was about twelve years old, during the Christmas holidays, Master Fowell was put out of temper by some opposition to his will, and he, in anger, struck his sister's governess. As a punishment for this offence, his mother threatened to leave him at school, when his brothers returned home for

[ocr errors]

66 When

the Easter holidays. Circumstances afterwards led her to think that it would not be advisable to carry her threat into effect: she, therefore, went down to the academy, at Greenwich, to see him, and try to draw forth an apology which might form a plea for her leniency. His reply was a mixture of heroism and hardihood, but there was so much of the latter in it, that his parent, after all, thought it right to leave him to his punishment.

Fowell remained at this school till he was about fourteen, but he did not make much progress in learning, from sheer idleness. He got other boys to do his exercises for bim. He himself says, I left school I had learned little or nothing." The next twelve months were passed at home with his mother; still, he made no effort at self-improvement, but spent his time in riding, shooting, boating, and reading light works for amusement.

About this period a circumstance occurred which gave a fresh bent to his whole mind, and had a powerful influence on his conduct. This was his acquaintance with the Gurney family. He had formed a friendship with John Gurney, the eldest son, and was invited to Earham Hall, on a visit for a month. Here a new world seemed opened to irim. He was introduced to a large family of intelligent, intellectual, and attractive young people, who were making strenuous efforts at mental cultivation, at the same time that they mingled with and adorned polished society.

Buxton's natural disposition and acquired habits had given a roughness to his manners, which formed a striking contrast to the elegant circle in which he now found himself, and he became painfully conscious of his deficiency: a laudable ambition was, however, the

[ocr errors]


result of this discovery, and with the promptness and resoluteness of purpose, which ever characterised his actions, he immediately commenced a course of study, and encouraged an intellectual taste. “I know no blessing of a temporal nature," he afterwards said, “ for which I ought to be more thankful than my connection with the Gurney family. It has given a colour to my life. Its influence was most positive and pregnant with good at that critical period, between school and manhood. They were eager for improvement: I caught the infection. I was resolved to please them; and, in the college at Dublin, at a distance from all my friends and all control, their influence kept me hard at my books and sweetened the toil they gave. The distinctions I gained (little valuable as distinctions, but valuable because habits of industry, perseverance, and reflection, were necessary to them) were exclusively the result of the animating passion in my mind, to carry back to them the prizes which they prompted and enabled me to win.'

This happy change in the young man's pursuits and desires doubtless gave his mother very great pleasure. It was a change for which she had been long looking with trusting faith. It was not, however, produced by that change of heart which afterwards determined his actions and aims.

Again, in a letter to one of his sons, at a subsequent period of his life, he says :

“I am sure that a young man may be very much what he pleases. In my own case it was so. I made my resolutions, and I acted up to them. I gave up all desultory reading : I

gave up shooting

. During the five years I was in Ireland (at college)

« PředchozíPokračovat »