« PreviousContinue »
master, we get all this by living in the fear of God.
Far. Why, Thomas, you live so orderly, I should be glad to stop a little longer, that I might hear your way of living
Tho. Why, master it would look so much like bragging and boastiag, were I tell you about our poor way of serving God in our cottage since he has changed my heart, that I should be quite ashamed of myself.
Far. Nay, but I must hear it, that I may tell it to my wife and daughters ; perhaps they may mend their ways,
if I tell them of yours. Tho. Well, master, if madam Littleworth and your daughters can get any good by it, and as you insist upon it, I will tell you how we live, both on week days and on Sundays. When I am called to labour, as soon as my wife and I are out of bed, I kneel down, and go to prayer, by the bed-side; then I go to work. She dresses the children, and sets the house in order.. When I come home to breakfast, the milk porridge, or what my wife can get for us is all ready; we never have any tea but on Sundays, for it will not do for a hardworking family, and many of our neighbours call it Scandal broth.
Far. Ah, Thomas, I fear you are right there, for when my wife and daughters have their gossips, and our little Sam the plough-boy, puts on his livery, that we may look like gentlefolks, I hear nothing else.
Tho. Well, master, I make my eldest boy ask a blessing, and then the victuals goes down with a blessing: Next I make the children say a hymn or some other good lesson out of the books that our: minister gives us.
Then one of the other children returns thanks! After that my wife takes down the Bible, and reads a chapter, and I go to prayer : then I go to work, and as you know, master,,
take my eldest son, Thomas, with me, and he helps me wonderfully; and I do think I can do almost double the work, since I have had him with me. I" really think, master, your daughters would not be able to spend so fast, if I and my son did not work so hard ; but I love to work for a good master.
Far. Well, Thomas, I shall have no objection against raising your son's wages, for he is a good lad.
Tho. Thank you kindly, master, for the times are very sharp, and my son is a growing, hungry boy.But I will tell you what we do next. I come home to dinner: now, you know, master, as we have a bit of a garden, which I dig up at odd times, and we keep a pig, which we kill for the winter, what between the pickings out of the garden, the acorns which the chil. dren pick up out of the 'squire's park, and a little barley meal, it does not cost us much to keep it; so that we can get a slice of bacon, and that relishes the potatoes and garden stuff, and I really think we are as thankful for that, as many a lord is for twenty times as much. Then I make one of the children read a bit of the Pilgrim's Progress, or some other good book, that Mr. Lovegood gives us, and then I go my work; and master, if you please, I'll tell you the thanksgiving hymn, I sing as I walk a long
Far. Well, Thomas, let us hear it, for I am told you could sing as merry a song as any of us, before Mr. Lovegood came into your parish.
Tho. Well then, master, this is my song:
MY heart and my tongue shall unite in the praise
My lot may be lowly, my parentage mean,
Redeem'd from a thousand allurements to sin,
By the sweat of my brow, while I labour for bread,
My labouring dress I shall soon lay aside,
If my fare shall be scant, while I travel below,
If my labouring body goes weary to rest,
Far. I confess, Thomas, you sing better sort of songs than we sing at our Christmas merry-makings; but let us hear how you end the day.
Tho. After my work, I return home; down I sit, and all my children come round me.
I confess, master, I am a little too fond of the twins, they are a pair of brave children: so I put one on one knee, and the other on the other: then I give them all a kiss, and my hearty blessing; for I love them dearly, and could work my skin to the bones to support them. Next I ask them what work they have done, how they have behaved to their mother and to each other : then I make the children read out of some good book, and I tell them what it means, and instruct them as well as I am able. Next we have a bit of supper, as the times afford; and afterwards my wife reaches down the bible, and reads a chapter; then we sing an evening, or some other good hymn, and I go to prayer, after my poor fashion, and then our bed feels sweet to us; for, the Lord be praised! we have nothing to fear : for Poverty keeps the door from thieves, and a peaceable mind soon sets us all asleep.
Far. You havetold how you live: I confess I should be ashamed to tell you how we live ; but, Thomas, I do not pretend to be a Saint; yet the house would be all in an uproar if I was to call my family to say their prayers, as often as you
do. Tho. Many and many a man may say prayers, and never pray.
Far. Aye, true, Thomas; and so I thought when Mr. Dolittle came to our house, while our daughter Polly was likely to die of a brain fever. I thought it was shocking when he came to say his prayers to her, that the man who could come with Madam Dolittle and his children to our house two or three times a year, to supper and cards, (what games and rackets we used to have!) and now he was to say his prayers, which I am sure he would not have done, it Polly had not been sick; but, oh! how it shocked me to hear her ask, for she was out of her mind, after he had done, if they might not have a game at whist? Thomas, I think I must have your parson with me when I die, if I do not like him so well as I should while I live.
Tho. But, master, if I may be so bold, what came of it when Miss Polly recovered? If you sent for Mr. Dolittle to pray with her when she was sick, did you not send for him when she got better, to return thanks?
Far. O no: we forgot all that: but the parson sent a card, as my daughters call it, to tell them, that he and his family would come and see them upon Polly's recovery; and such a piece of work there was
to make out a proper card in return! how they should word it, and how they should spell it: for my daughters having been bred up in a farmer's house, and then sent to a boarding school, are neither farmer's daughters, tor gentléfolks ; but, however, religion was never thought of then.
Tho. Well, master, I must not find fault with your parson; and I think you cannot find fault with mine; but, by your desire, I am next to tell
how we spend the Sunday.
Far. Why every day seems to be a Sunday with you, but as you do not then go to work.
Tho. But, master, we have something better still on the Sunday.
Far. [Taking out his watch.] I cannot walk very fast, and I must not stop longer, as it is almost dinner time; but I will be here again to-morrow, and then you shall tell me how you spend your Sundays, and Here's a shilling for your boy:
Thomas's boy. Thank you, master, and be so good as to thank my young mistresses for the six-pence they gave me, when I brought the band-boxes from Madam Flirt, the milliner's.
Far. Ah! band-boxes! since my daughters have come home from the boarding school, they have all turned out such fine misses, that the family is all of an uproar. Such new-fangled fashions and customs, I never saw before. I rue the day I ever sent my daughters to that boarding school; but I must go : good day, Thomas.
Tho. Your servant master.