what indignation do I hear an Ovid, a Cicero or a Rabutin complain of their
misfortunes and hardships, whose greatest calamity was that of being unable to
visit a certain spot of earth, to which they had foolishly attached an idea of
happiness. Their distresses were pleasures, compared to what many of the
adventuring poor every day endure without murmuring. They ate, drank, and
slept; they had slaves to attend them, and were sure of subsistence for life;
while many of their fellow creatures are obliged to wander without a friend to
comfort- or assist them, and even without shelter from the severity of the

have been led into these reflections from accidentally meeting, some days ago,
a poor fellow, whom I knew when a boy, dressed in a sailor’s jacket, and
begging at one of the outlets of the town, with a wooden leg. I knew him to
have been honest and industrious when in the country, and was curious to learn
what had reduced him to his present situation. Wherefore, after giving him what
I thought proper, I desired to know the history of his life and misfortunes,
and the manner in which he was reduced to his present distress. The disabled
soldier, for such he was, though dressed in a sailor’s habit, scratching his
head, and leaning on his crutch, put himself into an attitude to comply with my
request, and gave me his history as follows:

Bill Tibbs

for my misfortunes, master, I can’t pretend to have gone through any more than
other folks; for, except the loss of my limb, and my being obliged to beg, I
don’t know any reason, thank Heaven, that I have to complain. There is Bill
Tibbs, of our regiment, he has lost both his legs, and an eye to boot; but,
thank Heaven, it is not so bad with me yet.

was born in Shropshire; my father was a laborer, and died when I was five years
old, so I was put upon the parish. As he had been a wandering sort of a man,
the parishioners were not able to tell to what parish I belonged, or where I
was born, so they sent me to another parish, and that parish sent me to a
third. I thought in my heart, they kept sending me about so long, that they
would not let me be born in any parish at all; but at last, however, they fixed


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