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I had the liberty of going when I pleased to a capital shooting place. I never went but twice. In short, I considered every hour as precious, and I made everything bend to my determination, not to be behind any of my companions, and then I speedily passed from one species of character to another. I had been a boy fond of pleasure and idleness. I became speedily a youth of steady habits and application, and of irresistible resolution. I soon gained the ground I had lost; and I found those things which were difficult, and almost impossible to my idleness, easy enough to my.industry; and much of my happiness, and all my prosperity in life have resulted from the change."
It is not surprising that the young man should select a partner for life from the amiable and gifted family to which he was so much attached. Hannah Gurney was about his own age, lovely in her character, and every way attractive. Their union took place in 1807, very soon after he was one-andtwenty. Fowell was not at that time in very good circumstances, owing to his expectations of property from an estate in Ireland, being disappointed, and his mother having failed in some speculations she had made with the hope of bettering the condition of her family ; but he shortly afterwards became a clerk in his uncle's counting-house, with the arrangement that if his conduct were steady, he should become a partner at the end of three years. In this situation he devoted himself with very great earnestness/indeed, whatever he did was with all his might.
Mrs. Buxton had a severe trial to endure in the misconduct of one of her younger sons, who was
a wild wayward lad, and went to sea. taken very ill in India, and returned to England just in time to get ashore and to go into an hospital and die. She was, however, not without a hope that he died penitent, and the exemplary conduct of her eldest son, who was then about five-and-twenty, was a great alleviation. He was her stay and comfort in her sorrow. He hastened down to the poor youth, and did all for him that fraternal affection could prompt on this trying occasion. Indeed he acted like a father to all the members of the family.
Mrs. Buxton's other son died a few years subsequently, but under happier circumstances. He gave full assurance of his Christian principles, and breathed his last with anticipations of a brighter future. The loss of this young man was deeply felt by his brother Fowell, who was tenderly attached to him, and had a high admiration for his talents. At this time Fowell Buxton was happily influenced by principles of piety which were drawn out on the above occasions. We will now try to trace his religious character.
Mr. Buxton (his father) was a man of sound sense and great worth, and a member of the Church of England. He was a sheriff of the county of Devon, and being possessed of enlarged benevolence, this office induced him to pay particular attention to the state of the gaols under his inspection. As Fowell was only six years old when his father died, it is not to be expected that he exercised much influence in the formation of the boy's character, but his mother doubtless held up these noble traits for his imitation, and this, probably, ultimately led to his exertions for the reform of prisons. Mrs. Bux
ton's plans for cultivating a high tone of morals in her children were evidently based on religious principles, and although there was very little indication of religious feeling in Fowell's childhood, there is no doubt but that he was in some degree influenced by these principles even then. When at school he was so distinguished for truthfulness, that, on one occasion, when an usher charged him with some fault which he denied, the master directly said, “I have never known the boy tell a falsehood, and I will not disbelieve him
When about twenty years of age, whilst travelling through Scotland with some of the Gurney family, he
purchased a Bible for the express purpose of reading a portion from it daily. This purpose he carried out, and from that time his religious impressions deepened. Referring to this period, he himself
says, “ Formerly I read the Bible generally rather as a duty than as a pleasure, but now I read the Scriptures with great interest, and I must say happiness. I am sure that some of the happiest hours that I spend are while I am reading the Bible, which is as great a favourite as a book can be.
I never before felt so assured that the only means of being happy is from seeking the assistance of a superior Being, or, so inclined, to endeavour to submit myself to the direction of principle.”
afterwards he was attacked with a dangerous illness, which not only gave his religious impressions still greater depth, but produced comfort. “It would,” he says-speaking of the change in the state of his mind-be difficult to express the satisfaction and joy which I derived from this alteration. “Now know I that my Redeemer
liveth,' was the sentiment uppermost in my mind, and in the merits of that Redeemer I felt a confidence that made me look on the prospect of death with perfect indifference. No one action of my life presented itself with any sort of consolation. I knew that by myself I stood justly condemned, but I felt released from the penalties of sin by the blood of our sacrifice. In Him was all my trust.”
He often reverted to this illness, and it was a memorable season to him. Sir Fowell Buxton was afterwards eminently a man of prayer. The following are his remarks on its efficacy. “Prayer," said he, “is throwing up the heart to God continually. Not always using words, but casting up the thoughts to Him. Every thing leads me to prayer ; and I always find it answered, both in little and great things. I often wonder at the slow progress I have made of late years in religion ; but in one respect I feel a difference. I see the hand of a Directing Providence in the events of life—the lesser as well as the greater--and this is of great importance to me, for the belief that our actions, if attempted aright, are guided and directed by superior wisdom, is to me one of the greatest inducements to prayer; and I do think that the little trials I have met with, have materially contributed to produce within me a habit of prayer.” When he was engaged in parliamentary business, he and some other christian friends associated with him in his political labours were in the habit, when the debate permitted, of taking tea together at the house of one who lived near. Here they read a portion of the Holy Scriptures, and prayed before they entered on their business. With such a preparation of the mind and heart, we might expect
that the Divine blessing would attend their labours in the senate.
It may be observed that Sir Fowell Buxton entered on his parliamentary career from the purest and most exalted motives. His call to that important position originated in the following circumstances. In the year 1816, when he was about thirty, he delivered a speech at a meeting held for the relief of the Spitalfields' weavers, and it made such an impression on the public mind, at the time it was delivered, and through the medium of the newspapers, that it induced the king to make a large donation, and attracted the attention of Mr. Wilberforce, who wrote to him, urging him to devote his talents and influence to the senate, deeming it his appropriate sphere. Sir Fowell had before been invited to represent the University, at which he had been a student, but had declined ; now, however, he thought it his duty to prepare himself for public life, and he therefore studied hard for that purpose.
The following year he published his book on “Prison Discipline," a work which was duly appreciated and highly beneficial to the cause he advocated.
But the great work for which Providence had evidently designed this good and earnest man, was The Abolition of Slavery in the Colonies. Mr. Wilberforce selected him to succeed to the leadership of that great movement, and he devoted to it his time, his strength, his talents, and his whole heart.
We, in the last sketch, spoke of the influence which Priscilla Gurney exerted over her brotherin-law, in inducing him to undertake this cause. His wife also, fully sympathized in his plans, and