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asking more than he intended to take, and as Mr. Fox plainly told him that he should pursue a different plan, it seemed natural to suppose that Mr. R. would be alarmed at the thought of entrusting his money to one who entertained notions so different from his own : for he had said to him in reply, “that if he did not serve on Sundays, as well as on other days, he would lose all his business.” So far, however, was this from being the case, that it greatly increased: and in a very few years he paid back the whole amount. Enjoying now an unsullied reputation, and an encreasing business, fully adequate to the support of a family, he began seriously to listen to the solicitations of his friends, who had frequently urged him to marry. With regard to an event of this nature, there were three things which he resolved not to do. He would not marry a person who was not pious: —he would not have a wife until he could well maintain her: — and he would not marry any woman without her father's consent. To these resolutions he adhered, and he was singularly happy in his choice of Miss Tabor, daughter of Mr. Jonathan Tabor, a merchant in Essex." The sincerity of her disposition; her cheerful piety, and unaffected kindness, will long be remembered by those who knew her; and as a mother, she will ever live in the tender recollection of her surviving children. Her nephew, since deceased (Mr. I. C. Tabor), when informed of her death, made the following pleasing mention of her, in a letter to one of the family: “Here is another ripe
* Mr. Tabor was a man very highly esteemed for his integrity and eminent piety; and it is much to be regretted that no memoir of him has been preserved.
spirit dropt from the column of our ancestry.* Your mother was an example to her sex: and you may now say ‘ Grave! the guardian of her dust, Grave! the treasury of the skies; Every atom of thy trust Rests in hope again to rise.'” Before Mr. Fox was out of his time, he, and one of his sisters joined the church at Burton-on-theWater, then under the pastoral care of the Rev. Benjamin Beddome. The only serious book in his master's possession (except the Bible), proved the means of his conversion. The want of religious privileges at Oxford, previous to the settlement of Mr. Hinton there, was, as may be supposed, a source of much anxiety and concern. For some time he attended the ministry of Dr. Haweis; but being a Dissenter from principle, he wished to unite with those whose views were entirely accordant with his own, and therefore resolved on quitting Oxford. About seven years after his marriage, he put this resolution in practice, and went up to London. But at his first settling there he met with some discouragement. The business did not answer his expectation, and he was seized with a violent fever, which was feared would terminate in his death. On this trying occasion, his father-inlaw, Mr. Tabor, called his friends together (as his custom was upon all emergencies), and they united in earnest supplication for his recovery. Immediately as prayer was ended, one of the company, a man of extraordinary piety said, “Mr. Fox will live.” + And certain it is, that from that time he
"...Alluding to a genealogical tree of the family.
t That such impressions have been often felt, and often been made good, cannot be contradicted.— Edit.
began to amend. Business by degrees improved; he went entirely into the wholesale, and at length into the mercantile line, and prospered beyond all expectation. He had now the happiness of Mr. Booth's ministry and acquaintance; and was chosen a deacon of the Church in Prescot Street:* He enjoyed Mr. Booth's friendship, with that of other valuable characters, whose friendship was a source of much delight to him. Useful and respected at this period in no common degree he, in later years. looked back upon the time with regret, and called those days his halcyon days. As a proof of his benevolence, it might be mentioned that he clothed all the poor of his native village, men, women and children, and set up. a daily school for the instruction of as many as were willing to attend it. In the midst of his commercial concerns, his mind dwelt on the idea of Universal Instruction. He expressed to several of his friends, not only a wish that every poor person in the kingdom might be taught to read, but perseveringly recommended the establishment of a society, equal to the support of so important an undertaking. The design, however, was considered by most as impracticable, and no one would venture to undertake it. It was not till May 1785 that he made his views public, and this was done at a meeting called for another purpose, at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry; when he introduced the subject in a speech, which appeared in the Christian Instructor for January, 1820. The gentlemen then present
* Neither the Editor of the Congregational Magazine in 1820, nor the Author of the Life of Mr. Raikes, have mentioned that Mr. Fox was of the Baptist denomination.
being willing to forward the proposed design, it was agreed to call a meeting on the 16th of August at the same place, and an address for this purpose was accordingly sent round to the clergy and principal inhabitants of London. Between the first and second meetings, the Sunday School system was suggested to Mr. Fox. This method of religious instruction afforded at once the prospect of realizing his intentions, and occasioned his correspondence with Mr. Raikes, the father of that system. * The following letter from Mr. R. was in consequence of Mr. Fox's expressing a wish for a further account of his plan.
Mr. Raikes to Mr. Fox. Gloucester, June 20, 1785. SIR,
You may justly suppose that an apology was utterly unnecessary for a letter like yours. I am full of admiration at the great, the noble design of the society you speak of as forming. If it were possible that my poor abilities could be rendered in any degree useful to you, point out the object, and you will find me not inactive. Allow me to refer you to a letter I wrote about a week ago to Jonas Hanway, Esq. upon the subject of Sunday Schools; if you ask him for a sight of it, I dare say he will send it to you. With respect to the possibility of teaching children, by the attendance they give upon the Sunday, I thought with you, at my first onset, that little was to be gained;
* Mr. Raikes does not appear to have expected that his system would be generally adopted. Mr. Fox has the honour of giving o universality to Sunday Schools.
but I now find that it has suggested to the parents, that the little progress we make on the Sunday might be improved; and that they have, therefore, engaged to give the teacher a penny a week to admit the children once or twice a day, during the recess from work, at dinner time, or evening, to take a lesson every day in the week. To one of my teachers, who lives in the worst part of our suburbs, I allow 2s. a week extra (besides the shilling I give her for Sunday’s employ,) to let all that are willing come and read in this manner. I see admirable effects from this addition to my scheme. I find mothers of the children, and grown up young women, have begged to be admitted to partake of this benefit. Sorry I am to say that none of the other sex have shown the same desire. A clergyman from Painswick called upon me this afternoon, and expressed his surprise at the progress made there. Many boys now can read, who certainly have no other opportunity than what they derive from their Sunday instruction. This, he assured me was the fact. I hear the people in the forest of Dean have begun to set this machine in motion. A person from Mitchel Dean called upon me a few days ago, to report their progress. “Sir” says he, “we have now many children, who, three months ago, knew not a letter from a cart wheel, (that was his expression) who can now repeat hymns in a manner that would astonish you.” I have been out of town, or I should have answered your polite letter sooner. I now have only time to give you these facts. When you have seen my letter to Mr. Hanway, you will be able to judge whether further use can be made of the little experience I have
had in this attempt at civilization. I can only say, shew wherein I can be useful, and command without reserve. Your most obedient serVant, R. Raikes.
The second meeting at the King's Head Tavern was very respectably attended. Mr. Thomas Hunt was in the chair; but neither he nor any of the gentlemen present being disposed to speak, Mr. Fox was under the necessity of again stating the object he had in view ; which, having met with general approbation, he was requested to dispatch a circular letter to various individuals, with a view of obtaining a more general meeting. This letter had Mr. Fox's signature, and the meeting was announced for the 30th of August, when the celebrated Jonas Hanway, Esq. was called to the chair. Nothing decisive, however, passed at this time; but at a subsequent meeting, the plan proposed by Mr. Fox was unanimously adopted, and the Sunday School Society formed. Many interesting letters relative to this Society, are now entirely lost; amongst which were some from the dean of Lincoln, who very warmly advocated it, and preached a sermon on the occasion. We shall give only one more letter from Mr. Raikes, written about two years after the business was brought forward. Mr. Raikes to Mr. Fox. DEAR SIR, I REGRET that the variety of my business and engagements when I was last in town, prevented me from devoting an afternoon to the enjoyment of your ..". The loss was mine; for I find few pleasures equal to those which arise from the conversation of men who are endeavouring to promote
the glory of the creator, and the good of their fellow creatures. I consider you, too, with the greater respect, as I believe you were one of the first encouragers at the outset of the little plan I was the humble instrument of suggesting to the world. I thank you my good friend for communicating the pleasing recital from Colchester. * What a wide and extensive field of rational enjoyment opens to our view, could we allow the improvement of human nature to become the source of pleasure. Instead of training horses to the course, and viewing with delight their exertions at Newmarket, let our men of fortune turn their eyes to an exhibition like that at Colchester. It will impart to them a small portion of that solid enjoyment which a mind like yours must receive from the glorious sight. Children more neglected than the beasts of the field, are now taught to relish the comfort of decency and good order, and to know that their own happiness greatly depends on their promoting the happiness of others. When the community begins to reap the benefit of these principles, let us hope that this nation will manifest to the world the blessed effects of a general diffusion of Christianity. The great reformers of past times have been only removing obstructions in our way. Let us hope
* An account of the first Anniversary of the Sunday School at that place, at which Mr. Fox was present. After describing the scene, he adds—“Not a single occurrence interposed to embitter, or in the least to interrupt the pleasures of the day; all was harmony, peace and love: for, however divided in political sentiment, or separated from each other by diversity of religious opinion ; in this important undertaking, wherein the glory of God and the good of mankind are so intimately concerned, the most perfect unanimity has, from its commencement, constantly prevailed.”
that the day is approaching when “the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” The number of children admitted into a state of culture in this short period, seems to me little less miraculous than the draught of fishes, and would incline us to think that the prophecy above quoted is advancing to its completion. Some French gentlemen, members of the Royal Academy at Paris, were with me last week; and were so thoroughly impressed with the probable effects of this scheme of civilization, that they have taken all the pieces I have written on the subject, and intend proposing establishments of a similar nature in some of their parishes in the provinces, by way of experiment. We have seen the rapid progress of Christianity. Dr. Adam Smith, who has so ably written on the Wealth of Nations says, “No plan has promised to effect a change of manners with equal ease and simplicity, since the days of the Apostles.” I have sent you my paper of this week, that you may see we are extending towards Wales, with the improvement of a School of Industry. I have only room to add that I am, Dear Sir, your sincere friend and servant July 12, 1787. R. RAIKEs.
P. S.–Send me “the World,” in which the Colchester letter appeared."
In the summer of this year, 1787, he left London as a residence, and removed to a favourite spot near Colchester; but the situation not agreeing with Mrs. Fox's health, he returned in a little more than two years, and took a house
* It was published in the paper called “ the World,” June 1787.
at Islington, where he remained till 1799. Having purchased the manor and estate at Clapton, his native village, where two of his brothers were still living, and also a sister not many miles distant; he felt an earnest desire to pass the remainder of his days amongst them. The house, however, not offering a comfortable residence, he rented a seat of Mr. Waller's about four miles off. This was a place to which he was greatly attached; but Mr. Waller's brother wishing to take possession of it, after living there little more than a year, he removed to Leachlade, and there he continued to reside till within two years and a half of his death. At Cirencester where he was destined to terminate his earthly career, the loss of hearing greatly distressed him, as it prevented his attending with any comfort on the ministry of Mr. White, though it did not deprive him of his society. Living as he did to the advanced age of ninety, his memory as may be supposed, failed him with regard to recent occurrences, but he would frequently dwell with the most minute exactness on the events of his childhood, as though they had occurred but yesterday. Being of a remarkably active turn, the privations and infirmities of age were peculiarly distressing to him, and he would sometimes say, “Never wish to be old. I am now in the twelfth chapter of Ecclesiastes, and the grasshopper is a burden to me.” Speaking to his daughter one day respecting her departed mother, he gave a striking and very affecting idea of the vanity of life, by saying, “But it is all nothing to me now, it is like a dream l’” Had not the hope of a better state of existence brightened the
scene, such a reflection would have been painful in the extreme : but, though he regretted that it was not with him as in years that were past, yet he had a supporting hope which enabled him to meet the last enemy with composure; and a short time previous to his departure, he was heard to exclaim, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He expired on the 1st of April, 1826, and his remains were, by his own desire, removed from Cirencester to Leachlade, where a few years before, he had buried his wife and a beloved daughter.
Thus far the memoir was written by a very near relation of Mr. Fox; for the remaining part we are indebted to a friend to whom many interesting documents have been committed to his use for a work which is now in progress.
Mr. Fox never wished to be considered the originator of Sunday Schools; he considered this honour as belonging to Mr. Raikes. As a proof of this, the following extract from a letter to the late Rev. Dr. Duncan is given: — It is dated “Donnyland, July 20, 1787; Rev. Sir, Though since my retirement to this delightful situation, I have been much taken up by its native beauties, I have not forgotten my promise to correct an error in the preface to your excellent little catechism for the benefit of Sunday Schools. Permit me to say, Sir, in justice to Mr. Raikes, that instead of his early adopting the Sunday Schools established by the London Society, you will find by the enclosed extract that that Society took the hint from him.”
But the idea of a plan of Universal Education originated with Mr. Fox, and the honour of the pro
ject of uniting Episcopalian Chris
tians with all sects of Protestant Dissenters to carry the design iuto