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A SINGULAR PRAYER.
MANY ingenious folks-of that class, which in proverbial language sees farther into a mill-stone than its neighbours-have never been able to bring themselves to believe in the character of Louis the Eleventh, as drawn by Sir Walter Scott in Quentin Durward. Even history itself has failed to convince them that a man could play fast and loose with his conscience as Louis is described to have done; yet here we have a man in our own country, and not so very long ago, who seemed to keep his reckonings with Heaven much after the same fashion. I allude to John Ward, of Hackney. This worthy and pious man, whose ideas of religion would have done honour to the most ignorant and bigotted of the Scotch covenanters, is the very John Ward, upon whom Pope has conferred an infamous immortality by placing him, where no doubt he well deserved to be placed, in company with Chartres and the devil.
"Like doctors thus, when much dispute has past,
Both fairly owning riches in effect
No grace of Heaven, no token of th' elect,
Giv'n to the fool, the mad, the vain, the evil,
To Ward, to Waters, Chartres, and the devil." *
He is said in early life to have been engaged in a floorcloth manufactory, and in process of time obtaining wealth, and the consideration which in England more especially belongs to it, he became the representative in parliament of the borough of Melcombe Regis. The wisdom of his constituents was quickly proved by his soon afterwards "making a mistake”—as a certain historian quaintly terms it—" in respect to a deed in which the interest of the Duchess of Buckingham was implicated." The consequence of this mistake was a prosecution by the Duchess for forgery, and, the jury returning a verdict against him, he had the misfortune of doing penance by a public exhibition of himself in the pillory, and was expelled the House of Commons. Probably, however, he grieved as little for the loss of honour as Falstaff himself did when he made his celebrated oration upon that very perishable commodity; but a blow quickly followed, to which such a man as Ward was by no means likely to be insensible. He had an action brought against him by the South-Sea Company for the recovery of fifty thousand pounds, which he had assisted the well known director, Sir John Blount, to conceal, and the Company recovered the full amount of damages laid in their declaration. The consequence of the verdict thus given against him was an execution which swept away all the furniture and effects of his house in Church Street.* But this proving very insufficient to meet so heavy a demand, or even to cover the costs of the action, it was manifest that his estates and tangible property would be in danger, and to obviate the pe ril he did not scruple to forge a deed of prior conveyance. His opponents met and defeated this attempt by a suit in chancery, and with all his ingenuity he was compelled to surrender a portion, and that no small one, of his ill-got
*At the corner of Dalston Lane, from the upper extremity of Hackney, through Dalston to Kingsland.
possessions, after having endured a long imprisonment, the tedium of which he is said to have relieved by the amusement of torturing animals.
It may perhaps be thought that history, as is sometimes the case, has caught up a popular prejudice, and been unjust to the memory of this man; but the following paper-and it was that which formed my chief object in bringing him before the bar of the public—will sufficiently show that he was likely enough to be guilty of all that has been ascribed to him. It is in fact a prayer the Miser's Prayer-and was found in Ward's own hand-writing amongst a variety of other curious documents.
"O Lord, thou knowest that I have nine estates in the city of London, and likewise that I have lately purchased an estate in fee simple in the county of Essex; I beseech thee to preserve the two counties of Middlesex and Essex from fire and earthquakes; and as I have a mortgage in Hertfordshire, I beg of thee likewise to have an eye of compassion on that county; and for the rest of the counties thou mayest deal with them as thou art pleased. Oh Lord, enable the bank to answer all their bills, and make all my debtors good men. Give a prosperous voyage and return to the Mermaid sloop, because I have ensured it; and as thou hast said the days of the wicked are but short, I trust in thee that thou wilt not forget thy promise, as I have purchased an estate in reversion, which will be mine on the death of that profligate young man, Sir J. L. Keep my friends from sinking, and preserve me from thieves and housebreakers; and make all my servants so honest and faithful that they may attend to my interests, and never cheat me out of my property, night or day."
This is one of the many examples on record and in our own experience of men combining in themselves the ut
most fanaticism of religion with the total absence of any thing like moral feeling. As to Hackney, it always abounded in subjects for the Newgate Calendar, and has contributed more largely to the list of Old Bailey heroes than any other village of the same dimensions. Its principal boasts are Richard Turpin, Jack the Painter, and John Hall, the chimney-sweep, whose fame has been handed down to posterity in the well-known ballad of,
CLARY (Horminum, Herminium). Mizaldus, as great a collector in his way, of curiosities as Pliny himself, affirms that the leaves of the garden-clary draw out thorns from the flesh, and accelerate difficult and protracted labours. Being mixed with wine they exhilarate the mind and excite the passions, provided they be taken in moderation; if indulged in too freely they affect the head by the potency of their odour.*
The Moon. Of all the superstitions attached to the moon, and they are by no means few-the strangest is one mentioned by Spartianus, and which I do not recollect meeting with in any other believer in the incredible. He says that those people, who hold the Moon to be a female, and so call her, will always be found slaves to women, while those, who consider the moon of the male gender, will always rule their wives. Now, of all the
European nations there is, I believe, but one-the Ger
* "Folia hormini sativi, quæ nostra est Orvalla, trita aculeos ac spinas è corporibus detrahunt, morantesque partus et difficiles accelerant. Vino injecta mentem exhilarant, excussis animi nebulis, ac Venerem stimulant. Sed liberalius sumpta caput tentant odoris vi et gravitate." Ant. Mizaldus, Memorabilium Centuria Novem.--Cent. ii., Apothegm 82, p. 27.