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upon his after life.
His grandfather, who appears to have been an excellent man, when dying, called his little grandson to his bed-side, and said, “ Joseph, keep company chiefly with aged people.” Child as he was, the dying charge made a lasting impression upon his mind; it led him to associate when he could, with those who were older and wiser than himself, and doubtless contributed to that marked respect for the aged, which distinguished his character to the very close of life.
One or two other facts which he often mentioned to his family and friends with expressions of gratitude to God for the merciful interpositions of his providence, are recorded in a memorandum book, bearing the significant and appropriate title of “PROVIDENTIAL MEMORIALS.” The first of these “ Memorials” records a merciful preservation from injury by an explosion of gunpowder in his hand, on the 5th of November, 1774. “At this time, being seven years
I and some other boys were amusing ourselves with gunpowder. I had tied a considerable quantity in a paper very tight, in order that it might make the greater explosion. Having set fire to the paper, I laid it upon the ground, waiting for its going off. But as it did not seem to get forward according to my expectation, I took it up in my hands, and began to blow the paper. While I was doing this, it went off in my face, and very much singed the hair of my eye-brows and eyelids; but I received no other injury. What abundant cause I have to bless God that I did not entirely lose my sight! Insignificant as this circumstance appeared to me at the time, I now see and acknowledge the kind interposition of providence in my favour." • Second Memorial, 1777.- When about ten years
of age, I narrowly escaped drowning on two occasions ; once in the river Irwell, and once in the Duke of Bridgewater's Canal. One of these times I was in imminent danger. I had one day bathed in the Irwell, which runs through Manchester, when the river was quite low. A few days after, I went again when the river was much higher; and without considering its increased depth, leaped in at the same place. It was too deep for me; and as I could not then swim, I must certainly have been drowned, had not some young men who were by
the river side, come in and brought me out. 'Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits!' How great was the care which God at this time exercised over me! Had I been drowned, 1 should certainly have perished for ever; for I was then sinning against much light, young as I was.
Of another merciful deliverance about the same period, which he often mentioned in terms of the liveliest gratitude, the following memorandum is found, written not long before his death.
“At the bottom of Byrom street, near the Old Quay, Manchester, was a gentleman's house, having in front two flights of steps: at the bottom of one of these flights was an iron gate with sharp spikes at the top. One of my favourite amusements was to run up the steps on one side, and down the other, not considering the annoyance to the inmates of the house. On one of these occasions, being pursued by the master of the house, who was justly displeased with the intrusion, and finding the iron gate at the bottom locked, I attempted to leap over it; but the gate being high, my toes caught the sharp-pointed irons, and I fell head foremost. I was stunned with the fall, and a deep wound was made in my forehead, the marks of which remain to this day, though it must have been sixty-four years ago. I might have been killed on the spot. The same gate remained in August last, (1841.) Whenever on my visits to Manchester, I pass that gate, I lift up my heart in gratitude to my gracious preserver.
" When in the slippery paths of youth,
With heedless steps I ran,
“In the year 1779, being then only twelve years of age, I had a great desire to go to sea. It was occasioned
principally by reading the newspaper accounts of the success of our privateers in taking French merchant ships. Notwithstanding the kindness of my parents, and the comfortable situation I had at home, with a good prospect of living with credit in the world, I resolved to be a sailor. With this view I applied to a gentleman in Manchester, who had a share in a privateer, and offered myself to his service. He told me, if I would bring my father with me, he would take me; otherwise he would not. So that design was blasted.
Still my desire to go to sea was unabated, and in July, 1780, I set off with two other boys for Liverpool, on a Sunday morning. Having walked upwards of twenty miles, we took up our lodging in a barn. My mind was greatly agitated; for I durst not think of sleeping without prayer; and I saw that my prayers would be an abominatio to God while I lived in sir In that perplexed state of mind I fell asleep. We arose about four o'clock in the morning. One of my companions resolved to return home. I and the other persisted in our resolution to go forward. So we parted. After we had proceeded some miles we overtook two men, who travelled about the country selling lace, &c. They inquired where we were going, and we readily informed them. They seemed
much pleased, and wished us to keep them company. They informed us that they could find us a good ship; told us many fine stories, and treated us with meat and drink. When we came within a few miles of Liverpool, the men would not venture any further, being informed that the press was very hot in the town. So we left them and went forward. However, one of them soon came running after us; and I being the youngest, he took me back with him, saying he would take me to my mother. I lodged with them that night at a public house near Prescot, a little market town about eight miles from Liverpool; and they treated me with much kindness. The next morning, they left me some hours at the public house, while they went to Prescot. At last I thought of going away; but the landlady hindered me, saying, the men had not paid for their lodging, meat, &c., that they were gone away, and she supposed I was to follow them. But, she said, she would keep me. I protested with tears, that I knew nothing of
them, nor ever saw them in my life till the day before. All I could say amounted to nothing. She thought, as she well might from circumstances,—that I was one well instructed in the art of deceiving. So I was kept prisoner. At length, however, they came, and I was set at liberty. I suppose they had been seeking for an opportunity to dispose of me to some master of a ship. When they came back, they fell out with the mistress of the house, and went away towards Warrington, where a fair was to be held in a few days. In the way, they gave me meat, drink, and money. Their intention, I believe, was to take me to Warrington, and there to make a bargain for me with some who were seeking hands for the privateers at the fair. But, providentially, before we reached Warrington, my mother, who was coming in the coach in search of me, took me out of their hands, and carried me home that night.
I often reflect upon this part of my life with gratitude.
Every part of the conduct of the men above mentioned, so far as I can now recollect it, confirms me in the opinion that they designed something bad. How shall I sufficiently praise my God for making even the evil designs of these men the means of my preservation. Had they not stopped me, I certainly should have gone forward to Liverpool. The time when they returned to Prescot, the manner in which they were detained there, and every other apparently accidental circumstance contributed to promote my preservation. Such evident proofs of the interposition of Divine Providence in my favour, ought to make me unfeignedly thankful. Bless the Lord, O my soul, who has in this particular delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling
“In the beginning of January, 1781, I set off again for Liverpool, determined to be a sailor. Soon after I started, my dear mother, having obtained some knowledge of it, followed me on horseback, accompanied by my eldest brother, James. They overtook me just before I entered Warrington, and brought me safe home that night. Had they been five minutes later, it is probable they never would have found me, as I intended to engage myself with the officers of a privateer, who were seeking hands at Warrington.
In this affair, I see cause, 1. To humble myself before God on account of my wickedness. I sinned against him and against my parents. I did this too, while my own conscience upbraided and condemned me; for at that time I was continually followed with convictions. 2. To bless God for preserving me. How dreadful might have been the consequences, had I gone to sea! I might have lost my limbs, my life, my soul ! I will praise the Lord while I have breath or being. 3. I ought to have an entire confidence in Him for the future. I will, through grace, trust in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.
“ After this, I was so affected and melted with seeing the distress of my dear mother and friends, that I resolved I never would put them to any more pain in that way; which, blessed be God, has been the case. When I review these follies of my life, and consider how seasonably the providence of God interposed in my favour, I am lost in wonder, love, and praise. May
May all my future life display his glory!
From this time he gave up all thoughts of going to sea, and resolved to settle and apply himself to business.
The following month, February, 1781, much to his satisfaction, he was bound apprentice for seven years to Mr. G. W. In this situation he enjoyed great advantages for acquiring a thorough knowledge of the business, by which his attention began to be engrossed, in the hope that “sometime he should make a figure in the world.” In a few months Mr. G. W.'s business became exceedingly depressed ; and, being a worldly minded man, of careful and saving habits, he began to fear that not having sufficient employment for his apprentice, he should lose by him.
About this time, Messrs. Charles Wood and Phillips wanted a lad about his age to assist Mr. John Taylor, who had the management of their large manufactory. Being recommended to them by a kind friend, he went, with Mr. G. W.'s leave, a few weeks on trial ; after which, as all parties were agreed, he was turned over from Mr. G. W. to Messrs. C. Wood & Co. for the term of years
and on the conditions mentioned in his indentures.
Trivial as these circumstances may appear, they were