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bought on the way. Upon his return, he contrived to live as a tutor, and writer for attorneys and authors. He then formed an intimacy with Mr. Clover, a veterinary surgeon of some celebrity. Fransham rode home the horses after they were shod, and whilst the iron was heating, they used both to be employed in Latin exercises and mathematical problems, worked upon a slate hung against the forge. His hatred of all cruelty to animals soon, however, excited the animosity of his companions, who took their revenge, by throwing the hot horse shoes about the shop, by which Franslam's naked feet were several times severely burnt.
About 1771, he lost a kind friend in a Mr. Chute, whose instructor Fransham had been. This rendered his income very scanty. Finding, therefore, that it was not equal to his expenditure, and reflecting that it might be less, he resolved, by way of preparation for the worst possible ill that might befal him, to try with how little he could live. He therefore purchased, daily, a farthing's worth of potatoes, and having likewise bought as much salt as he could obtain for the same sum, he reserved one potatoe every day from those he purchased, as a compensation for the salt he eat with the remainder; nor would he suffer himself to lay in a fresh supply of salt, till the number of potatoes reserved was equal to the number which he could procure for a farthing. In this manner, by boiling the potatoes at the fire of the host with whom at that period he had lodgings, and by making a dinner his only meal, he was enabled to support himself, for some time, at the trifling expense of one farthing per day. That he might be fully prepared for the most abject state of poverty, he resolved also, to try the possibility of sleeping in the open air, and for this purpose, repaired one night to Mousehold Heath; here, with a plaid for his covering, a green turf for his pillow, and the spacious firmament of heaven for his curtain, he slept for several hours. At length, the song of the lark awoke him. A severe cold, caught upon the occasion, prevented him from repeating the experiment again. About this time, he had a singular kind of relaxation, which consisted in throwing a stick, made heavy at one end by lead or iron; after each throw, he used to pace the distance from the place of projection to the place of fall, by means of which, he was enabled, from the increasing length of that distance, to ascertain the degrees of his advancement in skill and muscular strength. This, in time, was exchanged for playing with balls and marbles, beating a drum, and playing the hautboy. The hautboy, burnt one day for fuel, was exchanged for the bilbocatch, which he learned to use with such dexterity, as to be able to catch the ball upon the small or spiked end two hundred
times successively; but beyond the limit of two hundred he could never reach. This was to him a subject of regret, and also of philosophical contemplation. “What cause," he would ask, “can be assigned for my not being able to succeed beyond this number of times? It seems, from the almost infinite efforts which I have made, and made in vain, that this number constitutes a fixed and determinate limit, since I can never exceed it. Is there anything in the formation of my muscles which prevents the possibility of my holding the toy sufficiently steady to succeed after a certain number of times? Is there anything in the constitution of my mind that prevents me from continuing the requisite fixed attention to the subject ?” This toy he carried about with him in his pocket, and if, on attending any of his pupils, he found them not quite ready for his instruction, he instantly took out his bilbo-catch, with which he filled up the vacant minutes in trials to lodge the ball on the small end two hundred and one times, and though he could never obtain this number, yet he would not desist from his efforts, nor pay any attention to his pupils, till he had succeeded two hundred times successively, a number which, though he never could exceed, he could, however, generally accomplish on the first trial.
From what we have already written, it may be gathered that our hero was somewhat of an eccentric character. Nothing ever roused his anger but cruelty. This, more than anything, seems to have given him an aversion to professional Christianity. “In this country," he exclaims, in one of his numerous M.S., “scarcely anything is to be heard from a pulpit against bull-baiting, bear-baiting, cock-throwing, cock-fighting, horse-docking, horse-nicking, horse-racing, stag-hunting, harehunting, duck-hunting, overburdening, roasting or boiling alive, because they are English fashions and English customs, and things in modish practice, the hardened wickedness of which escapes even reproach, so morbid is the general callus of the nation. Accordingly, we find men using religion only as a cloak to their inhumanity, and returning from the place of worship fraught with spleen, pride, avarice, envy, malice, and cruelty,-language, alas, honest John, but too applicable
We have called him honest, for such most indubitably he was. Of this, the following anecdote is a proof. He had purchased at the book-stall of some poor old woman, a small edition of one of the classics, for two shillings; on showing this book to a literary friend, he was informed that from its scarcity it was fairly worth seven shillings. “Do you think so ?” said Fransham. “ I am certain of it," said his friend, "for I gave that sum for a
similar copy only a few days since.” “Well," said Fransham, “I am glad you have mentioned this circumstance, as I will now go and pay the poor old woman the other five shillings." “Why so ?” said his friend; "what necessity can there be for doing that? The old woman, no doubt, had a handsome profit at two shillings, why then should you give her seven ?” “ Why," replied Fransham, if I had purchased the book of an established bookseller, I should not have felt the necessity of returning the other five shillings; because as a tradesman he ought to have known the price of the book, and I should then have thought it probable that his valuation of it was correct, and yours erroneous. But as it was a poor old woman, there can be no doubt but she was unacquainted with the value of this particular edition, and I think I should be doing an unjust act, if I were to take advantage of her ignorance; I therefore feel it my duty to pay her the other five shillings.” He accordingly went immediately to the woman, who received the five shillings with no less surprise than joy, declaring that she had never met with so honest a man before in the whole course of her life.
Although Fransham, in the days of his prosperity, when he was earning nearly a guinea a-week, resumed the use of shoes and stockings, yet his dress had a very singular appearance. In hot weather he would hang his short, green jacket across his arm, and he would carry his large, full-brimmed hat in his hand. While walking, one close and sultry day, in this manner, he was met by an opulent manufacturer, a member of the Society of Friends, who being well acquainted with Fransham, and with the eccentricity of his character, accosted him with, “Why Johnny, thee look cool and comfortable, notwithstanding the heat of the weather.” “ Most likely,” said Fransham, “but thou lookest very hot and uncomfortable, and verily thou wilt continue to look so, for thou hast not courage enough to follow my example, since thou darest not show thyself at Friends' meeting-house with thy coat on thy arm, and thy hat in thy hand, although thou professest thyself to be indifferent to the customs of this world.” To this the Friend replied, “ No, Johnny, no, decency forbids it, I like to have some regard to decency.' “Well then,” rejoined Fransham, “do thou, for the sake of decency, continue to wear thy thick cloth coat and great, heavy hat, on a hot, sultry day; and I, for the sake of comfort, will continue to carry my jacket on my arm, and my hat in my hand.” The singularity of Fransham's appearance, and the fame of his learning, obtained for him, among the ignorant, the reputation of a fortune-teller. His reception, however, of two ladies, who visited him in that capacity, was such as to put a stop to all similar visits for the future.
Fortune smiled on Fransham. He saved a hundred pounds. Like many before, and since, he was much perplexed as to how this large sum could be most profitably employed. Banks and bankers did not stand high in his estimation. He used to observe that Virgil had no faith in banks, as might be seen by his third Eclogue, where he says, “Non bene ripe creditur-it is not safe to trust the bank.” He resolved, therefore, to place his money
in the hands of a merchant to whom he was known, and in whom he had confidence. Unfortunately, this merchant failed. Fransham, however, had, from some cause or other, withdrawn, only a few weeks before, seventy-five pounds. Still there remained twenty-five pounds, which, to a man in his situation, was a considerable sum to lose, and the loss of which to most people, would, under such circumstances, have been a subject of grievous affliction, and loud lament; not so, however, with Fransham, for no sooner did he hear of the event, than he bastened home, and calling Mr. Robinson, he burst forth with exclamations of joy at his singular good fortune, telling him that he had saved seventy-five pounds.” “How so ?” said his host. “Why !” said he," a gentleman, in whose hands I had placed one hundred pounds, has failed, and only a few weeks since, I withdrew seventy-five pounds; how uncommonly fortunate!” “Why, yes," said Mr. Robinson; "fortunate in having withdrawn seventy-five pounds, but unfortunate in having twenty-five pounds still remaining, which will prove no gain to you, but a loss.” “I tell you, sir,” replied Fransham, “it is a clear gain of seventy-five pounds, a considerable part of which I have spent in books. Here; look here !” said he, pointing to his library ; “not one of these should I have had if I had not withdrawn the seventy-five pounds, these, therefore, and all the money in my closet, besides, are so much clear gain. Seventy-five pounds actually saved !” Mr. Robinson, finding it impossible to convince him that he had sustained any loss by the event, gave up the argument, leaving Fransham in full possession of the belief, that instead of having lost twenty-five pounds, he had gained seventy-five. Fransham's philosophy was of the right kind —from evil it could gather good. He had early learnt that happiness—according to the poet
“Our being's end and aim,” resided in the mind consisted of something from within, not from without.
Amongst other singularities told of Fransham, was the following. While he lived with Mr. Robinson, a neighbouring out-house was converted into a stable, and the apparent carelessness of the groom, who attended this stable in the evening
with a lighted candle, excited in his mind the apprehension of fire. This apprehension daily increased, and he, therefore, thought it necessary to adopt some means of precaution against so direful a calamity. After well weighing in his mind the different methods which occurred to him, he at length resolved upon the following expedient. He procured a ladder, which he constantly kept in his bed-room, ready to put out of his window, for his descent, the moment he should receive an alarm. That he might, however, be the better able to effect his escape with despatch and safety, he used to practice himself daily in running up and down this ladder, with a small box or trunk, which he had got made of such a size, as just to contain his five manuscript volumes, and which he likewise constantly kept placed upon his window ready for emergency. This practice soon made him perfect. He acquired a dexterity, unequalled by that of any London lamp-lighter, and as his hour for repeating the experiment was twelve o'clock at noon, he was frequently the object of amusement to the curious ; particularly on a Sunday, for many would then, on their return from church, or chapel, step aside into Mr. Robinson's yard, to see our hero at his singular employment. But a new idea struck him-notwithstanding that he had acquired a dexterity which could not fail to have insured his escape, in case of timely alarm, yet from the soundness with which he was accustomed to sleep, he recollected that it was not only possible, but probable, that he might not awake till the fire should reach his very room, and thus prevent him from adopting his expedient. For this new evil there was no remedy, but a removal from the spot, which accordingly took place.
Fransham enjoyed a sound and uninterrupted state of health. It was his opinion, however, that the value of health could only be estimated by a comparison with sickness,—that happiness was increased by contrasting it with misery. In conformity, therefore, with this opinion, he would sometimes call, in his walks, at the shop of a confectioner, where he would eat to repletion, of the various tarts, cakes, fruits, etc., till he produced a violent head-ache, that he might have the felicity of curing this head ache, by copious draughts of strong tea, and that thus he might be reminded of the inestimable value of uninterrupted health. With Dr. Armstrong, Fransham thought
• Meantime, I would not always dread the bowl,