A. D. 1698.
In the beginning of February, Mr. Fenton (who had bought Mr. Ibbetson's
concerns in the oil trade) and I took a journey into Lancashire, but
found no prospect of business answerable to the trouble and hazard in
passing Blackstone-edge, where we had a sore storm of snow on the height
of it, when it was fair sunshine on both sides, but we found the snow
so drifted, that in some of the lanes it was as high as man and horse.
In other places so thin spread that it served barely to cover the ice,
so that upon the slanting side of a hill, my horse in a moment's time
lost all his feet and fell upon my left leg, in which I had severe pain
all night, and more or less for a long time after, but, blessed be God
! no bone was broken.
We lodged at Rochdale, where after we had reckoned with one we dealt with, I enquired after the memorable old clerk, who in his time buried 1,100 persons. At Manchester I was much concerned for the death of all my old friends, Mr. New-come, Mr. Tildsley, Mr. Martindale, and Mr. Illing-worth, (all now entered upon the joy of their Lord.) I enquired for his valuable MSS. but fear they are all lost. There was not a face that I knew, but good old Mrs. Frankland, (with whom I had boarded my sister Idle,) who continues useful in her station.
Mr. Richard Idle, vicar of Rodwell, who married my only sister, being under the like melancholy circumstances with my brother Jeremiah Thoresby, and his creditors more severe than the former, it was said he had to pay for part of his education at Cambridge, though it must be confessed that both families lived at too high a rate, and could not be content with such food and raiment as my wife and I. The younger brother was by them always styled brother Thoresby, and the elder only Ralph', but if our frugality had not in some measure equalled their too great generosity, we might have been in danger of being utterly ruined altogether.
I was now in a most piteous condition, both my brothers forced to abscond, and I left alone to take care of their wives and children ; my own sister in child-bed, and sister-in-law at the pit's brink, and twelve children, including my own, to provide for, and I in the poorest condition that ever I was, to sustain them, being 600/. deep in my poor brother's concern, and above 1000/. in Mr. Ibbetson's, of which I never got one farthing (though his ungrateful son is so grand in his coach) besides I was perpetually dunned by some of their creditors, and once actually arrested, (the first, and I hope it will be the last time, that ever I was in the bailiff's hands.)
This was at the suit of Mrs. F., the most unconscionable woman, I think, that ever pretended to so much religion, ordering me to be arrested, not only without demanding the debt, but contrary to her faith and promise when I offered to pay it her, and when I sent for my sister Wilson, (who was then indebted to me double the sum) to be bail for me, she was likewise arrested for another debt that she might have had for asking. I would not reflect upon the innocent, or blame others for her barbarous-ness, which might have ruined my family, yet cannot but think strange of this Presbyterian revenge, not upon me only, but one of the same society.
She was, I confess, ashamed of this; and sorry after she saw the monies immediately advanced and paid, but her daughter, (a Nonconformist minister's wife) most impudently argued in defence of the practice, and received the full amount of the interest. I went immediately to Alderman Potter, to whom I was engaged for another hundred pounds, on poor brother Jerry's account, and acquainted him with the whole matter, offering to give further security (the bond being in effect, single) till I could get in my own monies: he took the tender unkindly, and offered to lend me as many hundred pounds as I pleased, upon my single bond. This was a comfort and respect, though blessed be God, I needed not to make use of his kind offer.
But these afflictions, together with that of Mr. Ibbetson's, had so shattered my constitution, that my spirits were sank within me, and sleep departed from my eyes ; so that mostly the nights from twelve to five were spent in fruitless tossings, many faint qualms and cold clammy sweats, that looked like the languid efforts of struggling nature to overcome an insuperable difficulty.
Under these difficulties, I had not one relation to direct and assist: my uncle Idle was dead a little before, and my nephew, Wilson, not yet grown up ; none but widows and orphans there, and in other families, those under more pitiful circumstances, from whose husbands I received most doleful letters, one or two almost every day, to solicit one person or another in this or the other melancholy affair, which, as they wrote, half distracted them, and I am sure so fatigued me with walking mile after mile, by day and by night, (sometimes till past two before I could reach home,) their affairs requiring secrecy and speed, that now upon a serious review many years after, I wonder how I was sustained.
The concerns of my brother-in-law, Mr. Idle, Vicar of Rodwell, were also yet very much perplexed. I rode to Bishopthorp on his account; his Grace was pre-engaged in that affair, of the living I went to solicit for, but was very courteous, presented me with some curiosities, and received me most courteously, as did also the learned Dr. Gale at York, and stayed me full late at the Deanery. Their civilities helped to revive my drooping spirits, and the antiquities I met with there, and at Brotherton, Castleford, Pontefract, and Almanbury, (where I rode at the Mayor's request with him and the Vicar, to pay our respects to Sir John Kaye,) diverted me, and I think did somewhat influence Dr. Manlove; who, upon a designed alteration at the chapel, would have had me his Deacon, which I rejected: but to evidence my Christian charity, I willingly at his request perused his manuscript designed for the press, which was really ingenious and pious. But I was now, blessed be God ! more fully satisfied in communicating with the public. Archbishop Sharp had recommended my case to a very eminent divine, Mr. John Humfrey, noted as well for his moderation as piety, who to use his own expression, was though a Nonconformist minister, a Conformist parishioner.
Sept. 4, 1698. Die Dom. I received the blessed sacrament
of the Lord's Supper, at the hands of our good Vicar, Mr. Killingbeck.
About this time, a distemper began in the night: I burnt vehemently, but by a blessing upon the physician's advice, the fever proved as moderate as could reasonably be expected, though its preying upon the spirits brought me so weak, that many despaired of my life, and therefore I made my will; and as my perplexed affairs (which were my greatest trouble, because of my dear wife and poor children) would permit, endeavoured to settle my concerns, &c. In the midst of all which I was, through the goodness of my God, much supported by the taste of his love. O Lord, if a faint glimpse to a poor frail creature here below be so ravishing, what, oh what, will the beatific vision be !
Nov. 1, 1698, was the first time I put a coat on for nine weeks ; I then ventured abroad for monies to defray charges: and now to divert myself a little, till I recovered strength to go about business, I spent much of my time amongst my books and coins, for several of which I now made pasteboard tables to place them in, or nests, as Mr. Evelyn calls them in his Numismata, from which learned and obliging author, I received a kind (but too complimentive) letter during my sickness.
That week, the Lord Fairfax, Justice Kirk, and Mr. Bryan Fairfax of London, coming to town, sent for me to congratulate my recovery, and came to see the museum; but I hastened away as soon as I could possibly do with any tolerable decency, to what I thought a more suitable employment under my present circumstances, to hear Mr. Johnson, senior, and another aged minister, preach thanksgiving sermons upon the recovery of his son from a fit of sickness, wherein I heartily joined.
This month I bought the house, late br
other Jerry Thoresby's, of Mr. J. B. now Alderman, whom I thought too severe in exacting interest for the interest due from my poor brother, though he knew that I lost even the principal itself.