20th January 1800
My dear sister Mary Duval died at my house at Blackheath in the 88th year of her age. Note she came down with me from London on a visit the 23 inst and was as well as any person could be and looked as well as any one of her age could do.
Blackheath 1st February 1800
Note the Quarton loaf is at this time . . . [16 1/2?] and everything else very dear.
Thoughts on the present scarcity of wheat and bread.
One mode of relief suggested has been that, the highest and middling rank of men limiting to a very moderate proportion the quantity of bread expended in their respective families. This is certainly in every point of view, a very benevolent expedient. The less bread consumed by the rich, the more of course there will be left for the poor, and the less temptation there will be for hoarding up wheat, or indeed want for this particular article, and the greater probability there is that the price will fall.
Besides this, when the lower orders see their wealthy brethren voluntarily deny themselves some of the comforts of life, for their sakes, they will readily and patiently submit to the privation they must necessarily endure. It is to be hoped therefore that this salutary regulation, this wise and humane act of abstemiousness, will universally prevail among those whom providence had blessed with affluence or with competence. But do not let us stop here. Let us avoid all superfluities and luxuries and needless delicacies of the table, as much as possible, not for the purpose of parsimony or avarice, but for the direct applying the savings arising from this reform to the relief of our poor neighbours, and thereby render our frugality the source of their plenty.
How reasonable creatures can enjoy the living constantly luxuriously at a very great unnecessary expense at most xx of their lives, but more particularly at this, when thousands of our fellow creatures are starving for want is not to be accounted for, but from fashion and folly, to show their riches and power. General health and peace of mind, they cannot possess, and yet wonderful to reflect upon, it is evident that the highest and generally speaking the most sensible of the people, down to the lowest classes and clubs of men, do not act upon any, or indeed the most important business, without what is called great dinners as if their chief enjoyment consisted in eating and drinking to excess. O Man! Do you never reflect on this? Would it not be conducive to your health and happiness in this world to refine your desires by your reason, that you might be blessed with health and always with a cheerful mind, in giving up all superfluities for the benefit of the industrious distressed poor.
Nothing is truly pursuable to such an animal as man except what is correspondent or at least, not contrary to justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude, which are esteemed for their importance, the very hinges of all morality.
What if the stateliest buildings were thy own,
What, if the choicest fruits they table crown?
If thou hast heaps on heaps of gold in store,
And each succeeding year still adding more?
What if thou had it the fairest, kindest wife
To be the sweet companion of thy life?
If thou are blessed with sons, a large estate
And all around magnificent and great
What if thou’st comely valiant rich and strong
And teachest others in each act, each tongue,
If thou hast numerous servants at command
All things in store and ready to thy hand,
If thou wert king commander of a nation,
Full thousand happy years without vexation,
If fortune raised thee to the highest station
Of grandeur, wealth and dignity. What then?
Soon very soon, all ends and comes to nought.
Obey the Almighty’s will, from hence arise
All happiness within, in this all glory lies.
The consciousness of meaning well, afford a sincere and heart-felt consolation, at that awful period of his existence who is blessed therewith, when all worldly prospects are shrouded in the gloom of approaching dissolution, when the reflection, on one humane or meer well natured, deed, will be of more worth than all the riches, honours or applause, which the avarice, the ambitious, or the pride of humane nature so anxiously yet so vainly pursue.
The cheerful mind
Nor wealth, nor power experience shows can heal the minds tumultuous woes, nor lull those clam’rous cares to rest, which frequent haunt the great man’s breast.
In vain the unsettled rover flies, in hopes of finding happier skies, in vain he changes climes and air, but still unhappy self is there.
The cheerful mind, above pomp or power, wisely enjoys the present hour, and stranger to the great man’s fears, defies tomorrow and it’s cares.
Thoughts on Doctor Dodds unhappy Fate.
Every day’s experience ought more and more to convince the world that happiness in humane life, depends more on small virtues, than on splendid qualities, and that without several negative qualities, splendid qualities are of little use in the common transactions of the day. Let mankind then who would wish their children happy, rather than great, give them ideas and habits which will befriend them, in the common transactions of the day. Of these none are more valuable than economy.
27th October 1800.
Death of George Marsh, Commissioner of the Navy