Recollections of John Pounds: John Pounds goes to Chapel by Reverend Henry Hawkes
The following Sunday evening, I saw John Pounds turning round the corner of White Horse Street into High Street; with a group of his scholars about him. It gave me a view of the old man’s deformity to an extent I had no idea of before; though several friends had spoken to me strongly of it.
He would have been a tall man, six feet high, or more, if he could have stood erect; but, as he walked, his body, from the hips to the shoulders, leaned so much forward, that his long back was nearly parallel to the ground. One hip bulged largely out.
But his neck and head turned up with lively vigour; full of self-respect and manly assurance; and showed a countenance all life and animation. His eye was keen, and very observant; but apparently only for things near to him; he seemed not to take any notice of any thing at a distance.
He strode with determined alacrity. In his right hand he grasped a strong straight stick; which, stretching out his long arm in a line with his prostrate back, he struck down perpendicularly, with a force that made the flags ring. His legs were long, rather spare, but well formed, and very energetic. His feet were large, and full of active strength. His strides were long and rapid.
Friend after friend greeted him kindly, as he strode along, some seemed desirous to stop him, and have a chat. He returned their greetings with marked respect and kindliness, but did not stop to speak with any. He was going to the House of God! And it seemed as if nothing could induce him to linger on the way.
It was very impressive to look at him now, and compare his appearance with what he had seen him a few days before, at work in his shop, in the midst of his crowd of scholars. As Mr. told me it would be on Sunday, all now was very different. Every thing about him was clean and becoming, and bespoke a careful regard to person and dress.
Hands and face were all washed. His gray hair, bristling plentifully from under his large broad-brimmed hat, had evidently been combed and brushed. His shirt collar was white. A black stock was neatly fitted just under it. His waistcoat was buttoned up to the top button. His large dark-brown frock coat, which flopped widely about him, was well brushed.
His tight snuff-coloured knee-breeches were buckled neat and close, just under the knee; his bluish-white stockings were very clean. His large strong shoes were very black and bright.
A tallish youth, of staid demeanour, was walking near him; probably one of his former scholars some years before, and now gratefully attached to him from maturing respect and affection. A little girl fondly held him by his left hand, trotting happily beside him. His other scholars all looked peaceful and happy; with no strict restraint, but moving along with a cheerful propriety.
The consciousness of the Lord’s day, and that they were going to the House of God, seemed to imbue them all with a feeling of reverence, and serious pleasantness. The time for the service to commence was a quarter to seven o’clock. About a quarter of an hour before that time John Pounds peacefully entered the House of God, and was quietly followed by his scholars.