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REV. JOHN MURRAY.
Containing an Account of the Author's Birth and Parentage, until the Decease of his Father.
How sweetly roll'd over the morning of life,
But soon was the morning of life clouded o'er,
Too soon was I forc'd to abandon the shore,
YOUR earnest solicitations, my inestimable, my best friend, have, with me, the force of commands, and consequently I am irresistibly compelled to retrace, for your gratification, as many of the incidents of early life, as live in my memory. Assured of your indulgence, I unhesitatingly commit to your candor, and to your discretion, the following sheets,
I am induced to regret, that my anecdotes of this charming season are not more multiplied. Were my recollection perfect, my enjoyments would be reiterated, but this would not be right, therefore it is not so; every season has its enjoyments, and the God of Nature has thought proper to keep them distinct and appropriate.
I think, if I mistake not, I was ushered into this state of being on the 10th day of December, in the year of our Lord, 1741, four years before the rebellion in Scotland, of forty-five. I mention this circumstance, as it proved to me, in early life, a source of some vexation. The rebellion terminated in the destruction of many of the
Scotch nobility of my name; and this same rebellion was long the subject of political controversy, which generally terminated in the execration of the Scots, and, on account of my name, I was looked upon as a party concerned.
I drew my first breath in the island of Great Britain, in the town of Alton, in Hampshire. This town boasts a Church, a Presbyterian and a Quaker meeting-house; a celebrated free school, an extensive and very useful manufacture, and it is environed by a plantation of hops. Alton is seated on the River Wey, 18 miles eastnorth-east of South-Hampton, and 48 miles west-south-west of London.
Being the first born of my parents, it is not wonderful that my appearance gave much joy, nor that the little complaints, incident to infancy, gave great apprehension. It was in consequence of some little indisposition, that they solicited and obtained for me private baptism. My parents were both sincerely religious, though members of different sects. My father was an Episcopalian, my mother a Presbyterian; yet religion never disturbed the harmony of the family. My mother believed, as most good women then believed, that husbands ought to have the direction, especially in concerns of such vast importance, as to involve the future well-being of their children; and of course it was agreed, that I should receive from the hands of an Episcopalian minister the rite of private baptism; and as this ordinance, in this private manner, is not administered, except the infant is supposed in danger of going out of the world in an unregenerate state, before it can be brought to the church, I take for granted I was, by my apprehensive parents, believed in imminent danger; yet, through succeeding years, I seemed almost exempt from the casualties of childhood. I am told that my parents, and grand parents, had much joy in me; that I never broke their rest nor disturbed their repose not even in weaning; that I was a healthy, good-humored child, of a ruddy complexion, and that the equality of my disposition became proverbial. I found the use of my feet before I had completed my first year, but the gift of utterance was still postponed. I was hardly two years old, when I had a sister born; this sister was presented at the baptismal font, and, according to the custom in our Church, I was carried to be received, that is, all who are privately baptized, must, if they live, be publicly received in the congregation. The priest took me in his arms, and, having prayed, according to the form made use of on such occasions, I articulated with an audible voice, AMEN. The congregation were astonished, and I have frequently heard my parents say, this was the first word I ever uttered, and that a long time elapsed, before I could distinctly articulate any other. Indulged, as I said, by bounteous nature, with much serenity of mind, every one was happy with me. I was fond of being abroad, and a servant was generally employed to gratify me. During these repeated rambles, I experienced some hair-breadth
'scapes,' which, while they excited the wonder of my good parents, they failed not to record. From these frequent promenades, I derived that vigorous constitution, or at least its stability, which has prolonged my abode in this vale of tears, through many serious disorders, which have seemed to promise my emancipation. I do not remember the time when I did not behold the works of Nature with delight; such as the drapery of the heavens, and the flowers of the garden, and of the fields; and I perfectly recollect, before I was clothed in masculine habiliments, that I was delightedly occupied in opening the ground, throwing it into some form, and planting, in regular order, little sprigs broken from the gooseberry, or currant bushes. My pleasures of this nature were, however, soon interrupted by going to school: this was my first affliction; yet, to imperious necessity, the sweet pliability of human nature soon conformed my mind: nay, it was more than conformed; I derived even felicity, from the approbation of my school dame, from the pictures in my books, and especially from the acquaintance I formed with my school-mates.
It does not appear to me that I was what the world calls naturally vicious. I was neither querulous, nor quarrelsome; I cannot trace in my mind a vestige of envy. I rejoiced in every advantage possessed by my little comrades, and my father was accustomed to exclaim, Never, I believe, was such a boy; he absolutely delights as inuch in the new garments worn by the children of our neighbors, as in his own :' and indeed, as far as I can recollect during this sweet morning of life, my most complete satisfaction resulted from the gratification of others. I never enjoyed any thing alone; my earliest pleasures were social, and I was eager to reciprocate every good office. It is true I encountered difficulties, from the various dispositions of those with whom I associated, but, in my infant bosom, rancor or implacability found no place. Being however too fond of play, and ambitious of imitating my seniors, I had little time for reading; yet I learned, and at six years old could read a chapter in the Bible, not indeed very correctly, but I rarely paused at a word; however difficult, still I read on. My father, I remember, used sometimes to laugh out a levity which, by the way, he seldom indulged-but he did sometimes laugh out, and say, 'This boy sticks at nothing; he has a most astonishing invention: how it is he utters such sounds, and passes on with such ra pidity, I cannot conceive:' but my blunders were more frequently marked by a staggering box on the ear, which necessitated me to stop, when I was obliged to recommence, and go over the whole again. This conduct originated, even at this early age, more fear than affection for my father. I was studious to avoid his presence, and I richly enjoyed his absence. To my brothers and sisters, who were multiplied with uncommon rapidity, I was warmly attached; and as our mother contributed all in her power to our gratification, our pleasures were not surpassed by those of any little group which came under our observation.
My parents were the religious children of religious parents, and grand parents: they were the more religious on that account; and, as the descendants of ancient noble families value themselves on their pedigree, stimulating their children from considerations of ancestry to act up to the illustrious examples which they exhibit and emblazon, uniformly insisting that they shall avoid mixing with the plebeian race; so, as soon as I appeared to pay attention to interesting tales, I was made acquainted with the characters of my grand pa
My paternal grandfather, however, possessed only negative religion; that is, his affection for my grandmother obliged him to conform to her, in every thing; and he esteemed himself happy, in being blest with a wife, who, from principle and inclination, was both able and willing to take upon herself the care and culture of her children. How long this grandfather lived, I am unable to say; but my grandmother was, with respect to her religious attachments, more fortunate in a second marriage. She was united to a Mr. Beattie, a man of considerable note, in every point of view. It was by this gentleman's name, 1 became acquainted with my grandmother: I remember, when very young, to have seen his picture, which gave me a very high idea of his person. It was his son, who was governor of the fortress, in the harbor of Cork. My grandmother soon lost this second husband, and never married again. She was, in the morning and meridian of her life, a celebrated beauty: the remains of a fine face were visible when I knew her: I never beheld a more beautiful old lady. Traces of affluence were conspicuous in her dwelling, her furniture, and apparel; she was an immedate descendant of an ancient and honorable family in France; her father's name was Barroux, one of the noblesse, and a dweller in the town of Painboeuf, on the river Loire, between the city of Nantes, and the mouth of said river. Mr. Barroux having buried his lady, who left him two daughters, thought proper, as was then the custom of people of distinctiou, to educate his eldest daughter in England; this step banished her from her native country, and from her father: she never saw either more. Attaching herself to a family of Episcopalians, she became a zealous Protestant, which, together with her selecting a husband of the same persuasion, confirmed her an exile forever. The irritated feeling of her father admitted no appeal: his affections were totally alienated: he was a high-spirited, obstinate man, and he swore in his wrath, he would wed the first woman he met, provided he could obtain her consent, and she was not absolutely disgusting. The first who presented happened to be his chambermaid he made known to her his vow, was accepted with gratitude, and they were speedily married. Not many years after this event, the old gentleman died, leaving no issue by his second marriage: and, as he left no wili, his daughter, who continued under the paternal roof, entered into possession of the whole estate; she, however, survived her father only three
weeks, when my grandmother became the only legal heir to the property, both of her father and her sister.
A large share of the personal estate was conveyed to England, by two priests; and the real estate was tendered to my grandmother, on condition that she would read her recantation, renounce the damnable doctrines of the Church of England, and receive the Host, as the real presence. My grandmother, and my father, after a conference, which continued but a few moments, cheerfully concurred in a relinquishment of the estate, and united in declaring, that, ou terms so calculated to prostrate their integrity, they would not accept the whole kingdom of France. The clergyman returned to the Gallic shore, and the person left in the house, for the purpose of taking charge of the estate, until the heirs at law should recover their senses, continued in the quiet possession of an inheritance, worth five hundred pounds sterling per annum. When the estate was thus, upon religious principles, surrendered, I was about five years of age; but having frequently heard my father circumstantially relate the transaction, as I advanced in life, my bosom often acknowledged a latent wish, that he had accepted an inheritance to which his natural claim was indubitable, upon the terms offered by the ecclesiastics, which were, that my grandmother and my fa ther should, in so many words, qualify themselves for the possession of their right, while, in their hearts, they continued to judge for themselves. But from a conduct so questionable, the guileless heart of my upright parent spontaneously revolted; and, for myself, while revolving years gave me to exult in his decision, the detec tion of so reprehensible a principle, in my own bosom, and at so early a period, originated much contrition. Yet, notwithstanding the very considerable sacrifice made by my father, his uniform efforts commanded all the necessaries, and many of the elegancies of life. His children multiplied; four sons and five daughters augmented his felicities; he received from nature a strong mind, his parents bestowed upon him a good education, and he was universally respected and beloved.
The parents of my mother were well known to me; her father's name was James Rolt, his ancestors were all English; he was in early life a bon-vivant, and even when he became the head of a family, his reprehensible pursuits were nothing diminished; the silent suffering of his wedded companion were strongly expressed in her wan countenance and broken health. The circumstances of his conversion from dissipation to a life of severe piety were rather remarkable, and were considered in his day as miraculous.
Of the piety of my paternal grandfather, or my maternal grandmother, I have little to say. I have never heard that they allowed themselves in any improper indulgences, and as they were the admirers of their devout companions, it is a fair conclusion, that they were at least negatively pious, and that if they did not lead, they cheerfully followed, in cultivating a pious disposition in the minds