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Mr. Tooke possessed a comfortable competence for his own family, he had not a sufficient income to defray the heavy charges attendant on the entertainment of so many guests. His friends took upon themselves to supply his hospitable table by innumerable presents of wine, fish, venison, and game of all kinds.
For Sir Francis Burdett, Mr. Tooke felt a strong attachment; and the Baronet was not backward in evincing for him, in return, the most cordial and ardent friendship. In his last moments, it afforded him great satisfaction to observe Sir Francis, and others most dear to him, surrounding his bed. Having fallen into a lethargy, and being supposed to be entirely insensible, his friend mixed up a cordial for him, which Mr. Clive and Dr. Pearson advised him not to administer, as it would be to no purpose ; but the Baronet persevering, and raising Mr. Tooke, the latter opened his eyes, and seeing who offered the draught, took the glass and eagerly drank off the contents.
Horne Tooke was cheerful and facetious to the last : when informed that he had but a short time to live, he observed, that “ he should not be like the man who, being condemned to die at Strasburg, requested time to pray, until the patience of the magistrates was exhausted; and who, afterwards, as a last expedient, begged their permission to close life by a game at his favourite amusement of nine pins ; but who kept bowling on, resolved not to finish the
until the hour for execution was past.”
He particularly desired to be buried in his garden at Wimbledon ; that no funeral ceremony should take place on the occasion ; but that he should be borne to the grave by six of the poorest men in the parish ; each of whom was to receive one guinea. These wishes, however, were not complied with, his friends judging it to be more proper that his body should be deposited in the family vault at Ealing.
It is surprising that a man of Tooke's liberal and expanded mind should have made so unequal a distribution of his property among his children. For some reason, known only to himself, he appointed his daughter, Mary Heart, his sole executrix, and bequeathed to her the whole of his estate and effects, except one or two hundred pounds to her sister !
Horne Tooke, though a man of liberal sentiments, was so far a despot in his family, that the inmates were afraid sometimes to speak, move, or do any thing which might offend him. On one occasion, Sir Francis Burdett's house being full, O'Connor slept at Tooke's. Next morning, coming into the breakfast-room, and having saluted the family, he sat down at a little round table with Mr. Tooke, where the latter was accustomed to breakfast alone.
His daughters, seeing this, appeared very un. easy, and made signs to the stranger to sit at the large table. “O, no;" said O'Connor, “ I am very well here—I shall breakfast with my old friend.”
“So you shall, rebel,” said Mr. Tooke, bursting into a loud laugh, and enjoying the embarrassment of his daughters : — " Girls, bring O'Connor's cup to my table : by G-d! rebel,
you are the only person that has sat down to breakfast with me these eighteen years!”
DROLL SPECIMEN OF COURAGE.
Mr. Tooke was by no means a man of courage; although, from his bold writings, one might fancy him a hero ; a champion ready to defend his opinions with sword or pistol, or even with his fist. One would think that the man who, in answer to an attack of Junius, could write such words as the following, must be a person of no ordinary nerve. They were these :
-“ The King, whose actions justify rebellion to his government, deserves death from the hand of every subject; and, should such a time arrive, I should be as free to act as any.” He made use of a similar remarkable expression in regard to the unfortunate King James, in reference to the desertion of his army. Still Mr. Tooke knew himself to be entirely destitute of real courage ; and he confessed to an intimate friend that he
was a coward. I should have made but a bad soldier,” said he, one day, laughing, “ for I have been all my life a complete coward : bravery is engendered by a long habit of fearlessness of danger, in a heart naturally bold; I never had much of this sort of stamina; and, during the restless life which I have led, the little portion of courage I possessed, oozed out at my finger ends, from the continual fret and worry in which I have been kept. I will tell you the boldest, the bravest, the most courageous thing I ever did in my whole life. I was at a meeting at Croydon, where, having stood forward to advocate a certain question, I was sharply attacked by a fellow of the name of Phillips ; but, however, I gave him such a dressing in reply, that, even whilst I went on tearing him in pieces at every sentence, I was actually afraid that he would horsewhip me when I had done, or send me a challenge to fight him. A pretty thing, by the bye, it would be to see two parsons, with a pair of pistols under their arms, saluting each other, at the early hour of five, on a cold frosty