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Wor. Indeed, Thomas, had we acted such a part, the old proverb had been true against us, “ A fool and his money are soon parted.” But I hope my daughter will prove a very useful helpmate to that good young minister.
Tho. ’Las, your honour, you cannot tell how they talk of Mr. Merryman all the parish over, and what stories the people tell of his humble, and good natured ways: though 'Squire Wild, that lives in his parish, never comes to hear him ; but orders that his pew should be locked up, that none of the poor people, who come from far, should go into his pew: and so good Mr. Merryman has ordered a pair of steps to be made, that people may get over into the 'Squire's pew, because he did not choose to break the lock; but he says nobody has a right to lock up their
pews, if they won't come there themselves. And so the people can get over very well, and then the rest of the poor people sit upon the steps. 'Squire Wild was great enougle with Mr. Merryman, while they were all living together in the same wicked way; and now and then he would come to Church, but he would do nothing but laugh and jeer with Madam Wild and his daughters all the time: and now he says every thing that he can think of against Mr. Merryman, poor dear young gentleman !
Wor. That is not at all to be wondered at, Thomas, while “ the carnal mind is enmity against God." But Mr. Merryman is quite in the right of it; no family should lock up a pew if they do not fill it themselves : though he does very wisely in opposing bad measures with as much mildness as he can. But did not the people want to be feasted upon the occasion ?
Tho. O no, your honour! Mr. Merryman said he should make no feast but for the poor: and so he sent five guineas to the baker's, to be given away among such poor as he and the overseers might think fit.
Wor. Only five guineas, Thomas !
Tho. Why, your honour, I thought that was a desperate big sum ; but then he ordered five guineas more to be sent to the butcher's, that a bit of meat might be given to every poor man, that was to have the loaf of bread. His heart is wonderfully set on doing good.
Wor. Why, Thomas, the only proof that we are good, is when we are enabled by the grace of God to do good : every tree is known alone by its fruits. But Mr. Merryman tells us he kept you all Friday and Saturday, talking about his little husbandry affairs, and that he would make you stop over the Sunday; how did poor Betty do without you all the time?
Tho. Why, to be sure, Betty and I never were so long away from each other since we have been married, and now it is fourteen years, come a fortnight after next Mapleton fair day. It seemed to us a longful time to be apart; and we both of us found it desperate hard work to part with our poor daughter: but there she is goue to a charming place; and young Madam Merryman takes to her wonderfully. The Lord bless the child, and give her grace!
Wor. Aye, Thomas, that sets all right, and keeps all right: but how is it that you cannot bear to part with your children, when you have so many of them?
Tho. The Lord be praised, we have none too many! Betty and I have always noticed it, the more we have of them, the more the Lord blesses us. Whenever we seem to be a little sharp run, one good body or another, besides your honour, is always sending us something; we want nothing but thankful hearts.
Wor. Why, as Mr. Lovely's great uncle has left him his fortune, he talks of taking your eldest son, Thomas, off your
hands. Tho. To be sure, it is very
kind of the young gentleEdward of the Golden Lion, has told me a deal about him. But it will be a desperate hard gripe for me
and Betty to part with him. How movingly he talked about a sermon our minister preached a few Sundays ago, upon the wise and foolish virgins !* Dear child, he was quite in tears while he was saying how much afraid he was lest he should be among the foolish virgins ; and Betty and I were as much overcome at his talk as he
Wor. Well, Thomas, this should give you encouragement to bring up your children “ in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
Tho. Why, I'll assure your honour that Betty, who is gone to live with Madam Merryman, is a very pretty spirited child: though little Sammy is a mighty stomachful boy; but by the Lord's blessing, he may get better as he gets older.
Wor. But, Thomas, if Mr. Lovely should ever choosc to take your son, you must not object to it. I have no doubt that it will be the making of him, if he turns out well,
Tho. Oh no! if the young 'Squire should choose to take him I shall be sure to follow your honour's advice, and let him go : though they say he lives a desperate way off, almost half as far as London.
Mrs. Wor. But, Thomas, how did you like Mr. Merryman on the Sunday?
Tho. Like him, madam! Who could but choose to like him : excepting Mr. Lovegood, I think he must be one of the finest men in all the world.
Wor. I suppose there was a fine crowd to see Mr. Merryman bring his bride to Church, for the first time,
Tho. Why your honour knows it is always crowded ; for Rector Grumble of the next parish, has been preaching such scolding sermons against modern 'thusists,
* This must certainly have been the same sermon that so much offended Mr. Lovely. See Dialogue XXIV.
that he has driven all the people away. Some of them go off to a dissenting meeting, where they say a very good man preaches, and a great many more of them come to Mr. Merryman's Church; and yet Rector Grumble keeps scolding at the empty pews as bad as ever.
Mrs. Wor. I hope Mr. Merryman does not scold in return.
Tho. He scold, dear gentleman! It would be a hard matter to set him a scolding. He has such a sweet loving heart of his own, since it has been changed by the grace of God! But to be sure the Church was wonderfully crowded. I am sure it was mighty moving : I never was so affected in all my born days. Mrs. Wor. What was so moving, Thomas ?
Tho. Why, madam, there was such a wonderful fine garland placed over the gate of the church-yard, and on the side of it, there was a writing in great large letters, "God bless the happy pair !" and on the other side, " Long live the family of the Worthys !" and then your honour, there was over the garland a painting like two hands taking hold of each other, and holding two hearts joined together; and out of the two hearts, there was a fame of fire, and in that flame there was a writing, in these words, “ God is love." And as soon as Mr. Merryman and his lady came into the church, the singers struck up with such a charming fine hymn, I don't think Mr. Lovegood could have made a better.
Wor. Why, perhaps Mr. Lovegood made it, Thomas, for he was in the secret about the marriage: but we have seen a copy of it.
Tho. It was the same hymn your honour, that they sung in the court yard, the night Mr. Merryman and madam came home. And then the singers would have me with them, to help them pitch the tune; but instead of singing, alas your honour! the sight of it so much affected me, in seeing the people stand up, as though they were all praying for a blessing on them, at the same time, it made me quite cry for joy: if it had been King George. and Queen Charlotte, the people could not have given them more honour. The Lord grant that they may be as happy as Betty and I.
Mrs. Wor. I should suppose all this love and affection from the good people were enough to overset my daughter.
Tho. Why, madam, I heard when she came into her pew, she was so overcome that she had almost swoun
Wor. Well, Thomas, I have put my daughter into very good hands; and what is best of all, I trust they are both in the hands of the Lord.
Tho. Ah! but your honour knows that he was not in the hands of the Lord before he heard our dear minister at the visitation, and when he was running after all sorts of romancing nonsenses. And now there are some folk who can scarcely help making their sports at him, though he lives such a different life, from what he did in his wicked unregenerate days.
Wor. Why, has any one been laughing at him of late?
Tho. Why, they say, old Mr. Quibble, the lawyer, met him the other day, while he was carrying a poor old woman's basket on his horse, because she appeared so weak, that she could not carry it herself, while she was walking along the road to market; and there lawyer Quibble, they say, made such a jeering and joking at him for it, when he was at 'Squire Wild's. But such sort of hard-hearted lawyers have no conceivance what the tender-hearted ministers of Christ feel when they see their fellow creatures in such distress.
Mrs. Wor. Well, well, Thomas, we shall not be ashamed of our son-in-law for such easy, good-natured tricks as these ; but did he not want you and your family to