Dec. 8, 1797.
Beloved, the joy of my heart, and the crown of my rejoicing; grace and peace be with thee.
I AM sent to thee with good tidings, having received letters and authority from the high priest of our profession, that an act of grace hath passed in the high court of heaven in behalf of poor debtors, and that a gaol delivery is now really publishing; and the wonderful proceedings of the most benevolent King of kings in this business is as follows. A herald goes first and sounds a trumpet, and makes an oration, in which he summonses all debtors to appear before their great creditor. Those who take the alarm, and obey the summons, are ordered to examine their bills and books. The ancient records by Moses are searched; the book of our great creditor's remembrance is, opened, and the whole contents of it are set before the debtor's eyes, ranged in order, and the sum cast up at the bottom; and next, all the bills that have been filed against the debtor in the court of equity within, are brought to light and searched up; and, upon a very moderate computation, the score in the general amounts to about ten thousand talents. Upon the sight and sense of this they are immediately apprehended and taken up, and forthwith confined in a close prison; when the key of obduracy and the bolt of infidelity are turned and bolted upon them, and no light allowed them but only a hole in the door, through which they . may look, and before which their debt books are placed: this is all the light they have, and these are the only things which they are allowed to see. To work they go with all their might, and -think to discharge the debt, and clear themselves by beating of hemp. "This their way is their folly." However, they. go on, crying out, "Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all." But when Saturday night comes they peep through the hole, and find no less than five hundred pence added to the old score. In order to rectify this matter, and to remedy this disease, they resolve on the next Monday to make eight days a week, by working over hours, and to stick a little closer to the block: but before two days roll over their heads they look again, and find fifty pence added to the old tally; and the little they had done was done so badly, that the whole of it was returned upon their hands again, and they were ordered to be loaded with irons, to receive five hundred lashes, and then to be sold, and all that they had, and payment to be made. This sunk them all into self despair, and extorted this bitter cry from them, "Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great." Upon the back of this came a herald in the King's name, and with the King's proclamation, saying, "Having nothing to pay, I frankly forgive them all." And out they came, as white as the snow in Salmon. Thus real poverty, beggary, and absolute insolvency, recommend us to the King's clemency, and to all the benefits of the aforesaid act. Hence it appears that resolving, promising payment, labouring and toiling in hopes of counterbalancing, or rubbing off, are breath and labour spent in vain; and that of all the trades which are followed in this way begging is the best; for so it is written, "taketh the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, even the princes of the people, and to make them inherit the throne of glory; for the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, and he hath set the world upon them." In this business, knocking, calling, crying, craving, and imploring, are sure to carry the point sooner or later, if it be well followed.
Sister mumper, adieu! Good success at the brass knocker; this is the desire and prayer of him who cannot dig, but is not ashamed to beg, and who is in such indigent circumstances as either to beg or starve.