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VICAR OF WAKEFIELD.
number. However, my wife always insisted that
as they were the same flesh and blood, they should CHAP. I.
sit with us at the same table : so that if we had
not very rich, we generally had very happy, The description of the Family of Wakefield, in friends about us ; for this remark will hold good
which a kindred likeness prevails as well of through life, that the poorer the guest, the bet, minds as of persons.
ter pleased he ever is with being treated ; and
as some men gaze with admiration at the coI was ever of opinion that the honest man, who lours of a tulip, or the wing of a butterfly, so I married and brought up a large family, did more was by nature an admirer of happy human faces. service than he who continued single, and only However, when any one of our relations was talked of population. From this motive, I had found to be a person of a very bad character, a scarce taken orders a year, before I began to troublesome guest, or one we desired to get rid think seriously of matrimony, and chose my of, upon his leaving my house, I ever took care wife as she did her wedding gown, not for a to lend him a riding-coat, or a pair of boots, or fine glossy surface, but such qualities as would sometimes an horse of small value, and I always wear well. To do her justice, she was a good- had the satisfaction to find he never came back natured, notable woman; and as for breeding, to return them. By this the house was cleared there were few country ladies who could shew of such as we did not like; but never was the more. She could read any English book with- family of Wakefield known to turn the traveller out much spelling; but for pickling, preserving, or the poor dependant out of doors. and cookery, none could excel her. She prided Thus we lived several years in a state of much herself also upon being an excellent contriver in happiness; not but that we sometimes had those house-keeping ; though I could never find that little rubs which Providence sends to enhance We grew richer with all her contrivances. the value of its favours. My orchard was often
However, we loved each other tenderly, and robbed by school-boys, and my wife's custards our fondness increased as we grew old. There plundered by the cats or the children. The was, in fact, nothing that could make us angry squire would sometimes fall asleep in the most with the world, or each other. We had an ele- pathetic parts of my serinon, or his lady return gant house, situate in a fine country, and a good my wife's civilities at church with a mutilated neighbourhood. The year was spent in moral curtsey. But we soon got over the uneasiness or rural amusements, in visiting our rich neigh- caused by such accidents, and usually in three bours, and relieving such as were poor. We had or four days began to wonder how they vexed no revolutions to fear, nor fatigues to undergo; us. all our adventures were by the fire-side, and all My children, the offspring of temperance, as our migrations from the blue bed to the brown. they were educated without softness, so they
As we lived near the road, we often had the were at once well-formed and healthy; my sons traveller or stranger visit us, to taste our goose- hardy and active, my daughters beautiful and berry-wine, for which we had great reputation ; blooming. When I stood in the midst of the and I profess, with the veracity of an historian, little circle, which promised to be the supports that I never knew one of them find fault with of my declining age, I could not avoid repeating it. Our cousins too, even to the fortieth remove, the famous story of Count Abensberg, who, in all remembered their affinity, without any help Henry II's progress through Germany, while from the heralds' office, and came very frequent- other courtiers came with their treasures, brought ly to see us. Some of them did us no great ho- his thirty-two children, and presented them to nour by these claims of kindred; as we had the his sovereign as the most valuable offering he blind, the maimed, and the halt, amongst the had to bestow. In this manner, though I had
but six, I considered them as a very valuable ing, they had but one character—that of being present made to my country, and consequently all equally generous, credulous, simple, and inlooked upon it as my debtor. Our eldest son offensive. was named George, after his uncle, who left us ten thousand pounds. Our second child, a girl, I intended to call after her aunt Grissel ; but
CHAP. II. my wife, who, during her pregnancy, had been reading romances, insisted upon her being call. Family misfortunes--the loss of fortune only serves ed Olivia. In less than another year we had to increase the pride of the worthy. another daughter, and now I was determined that Grissel should be her name ; but a rich re- The temporal concerns of our family were lation taking a fancy to stand godmother, the chiefly committed to my wife's management; girl was by her directions called Sophia ; so that as to the spiritual, I took them entirely under we had two romantic names in the family; but my own direction. The profits of my living, I solemnly protest I had no hand in it. Moses which amounted to about thirty-five pounds 8was our next, and, after an interval of twelve year, I made over to the orphans and widows of years, we had two sons more.
the clergy of our diocese ; for, having a suffiIt would be fruitless to deny my exultation cient fortune of my own, I was careless of temwhen I saw my little ones about me; but the poralities, and felt a secret pleasure in doing my vanity and the satisfaction of my wife were even duty without reward. I also set a resolution of greater than mine. When our visitors would keeping no curate, and of being acquainted with say, “Well, upon my word, Mrs Primrose, you every man in the parish, exhorting the married have the finest children in the whole country.” men to temperance, and the bachelors to matri
-“ Ay, neighbour,” she would answer, “ they mony; so that in a few years it was a common are as Heaven made them--handsome enough, saying, that there were three strange wants at if they be good enough ; for handsome is, that Wakefield--a parson wanting pride, young men handsome does.” And then she would bid the wanting wives, and alehouses wanting cusgirls hold up their heads; who, to conceal no- tomers. thing, were certainly very handsome. Mere out- Matrimony was always one of my favourite side is so very trifling a circumstance with me, topics, and I wrote several sermons to prove its that I should scarce have remembered to men- happiness: but there was a peculiar tenet which tion it, had it not been a general topic of con- I made a point of supporting ; for I maintainversation in the country. Olivia, now about ed, with Whiston, that it was unlawful for a eighteen, had that luxuriancy of beauty with priest of the Church of England, after the death which painters generally draw Hebe ; open, of his first wife, to take a second ; or, to express sprightly, commanding. Sophia's features were it in one word, I valued myself upon being a not so striking at first; but often did more cer- strict monogamist. tain execution ; for they were soft, modest, and I was early initiated into this important disalluring. The one vanquished by a single blow, pute, on which so many laborious volumes have the other by efforts successively repeated. been written. I published some tracts upon the
The temper of a woman is generally formed subject myself, which, as they never sold, I. from the turn of her features ; at least it was so have the consolation of thinking are read only with my daughters. Olivia wished for many by the happy few. Some of my friends called lovers ; Sophia to secure one. Olivia was often this my weak side ; but, alas ! they had not, affected, from too great a desire to please ; So- like me, made it a subject of long contemplaphia even repressed excellence, from her fears tion. The more I reflected upon it, the more to offend. The one entertained me with her vi. important it appeared. I even went a step bevacity when I was gay, the other with her sense yond Whiston in displaying my principles. As when I was serious. But these qualities were he had engraven upon his wife's tomb that she never carried to excess in either, and I have was the only wife of William Whiston; so I often seen them exchange characters for a whole wrote a similar epitaph for my wife, though still day together. A suit of mourning has trans. living, in which I extolled her prudence, ecoformed my coquet into a prude, and a new set nomy, and obedience, till death; and having of ribbons has given her youngest sister more got it copied fair, with an elegant frame, it was than natural vivacity. My eldest son, George, placed over the chimney-piece, where it answerwas bred at Oxford, as I intended him for one ed several very useful purposes. It admonished of the learned professions. My second boy, my wife of her duty to me, and my fidelity to Moses, whom I designed for business, received her; it inspired her with a passion for fame, a sort of miscellaneous education at home. But and constantly put her in mind of her end. it is needless to attempt describing the particu- It was thus, perhaps, from hearing marriage lar characters of young people that had seen but so often recommended, that my eldest son, just very little of the world. In short, a family like- upon leaving college, fixed his affections upon ness prevailed through all; and, properly speak- the daughter of a neighbouring clergyman, who
was a dignitary in the church, and in circum- with some acrimony, which threatened to instances to give her a large fortune ; but fortune terrupt our intended alliance; but on the day bewas her smallest accomplishment. Miss Ara- fore that appointed for the ceremony, we agreed bella Wilmot was allowed by all (except my to discuss the subject at large. two daughters) to be completely pretty. Her It was managed with proper spirit on both youth, health, and innocence, were still height- sicles : he asserted that I was heterodox ; I reened by a complexion so transparent, and such torted the charge: he replied, and I rejoined. a happy sensibility of look, as even age could In the mean time, while the controversy was not gaze on with indifference. As Mr Wilmot hottest, I was called out by one of my relations, knew that I could make a very handsome set- who, with a face of concern, advised me to give tlement on my son, he was not averse to the up the dispute, at least till my son's wedding match; so both families lived together in all
« How !" cried I, “ relinquish the that harmony which generally precedes an ex- cause of truth, and let him be a husband, alpected alliance. Being convinced, by experience, ready driven to the very verge of absurdity ? that the days of courtship are the most happy. You might as well advise me to give up my forof our lives, I was willing enough to lengthen tune as my argument.”—“ Your fortune," rethe period; and the various amusements which turned my friend, “ I am now sorry to inform the young couple every day shared in each you, is almost nothing. The merchant in town, other's company, seemed to increase their pas- in whose hands your money was lodged, has sion. We were generally awakened in the morn- gone off, to avoid a statute of bankruptcy, and is ing by music, and on fine days rode a hunting. thought not to have left a shilling in the pound. The hours between breakfast and dinner the la- I was unwilling to shock you or the family with dies devoted to dress and study; they usually the account, till after the wedding ; but now it read a page, and then gazed at themselves in may serve to moderate your warmth in the arthe glass, which even philosophers might own gument; for I suppose your own prudence will often presented the page of greatest beauty. At enforce the necessity of dissembling, at least till dinner my wife took the lead ; for, as she al- your son has the young lady's fortune secure. ways insisted upon carving every thing herself, “ Well," returned I, “ if what you tell me it being her mother's way, she gave us, upon be true, and if I am to be a beggar, it shall these occasions, the history of every dish. When never make me a rascal, or induce me to diswe had dined, to prevent the ladies leaving us, avow my principles. I'll go this moment, and I generally ordered the table to be removed ; inform the company of my circumstances; and and sometimes, with the music-master's assist- as for the argument, I even here retract my ance, the girls would give us a very agreeable former concessions in the old gentleman's faconcert. Walking out, drinking tea, country- vour, nor will I allow him now to be a husband dances, and forfeits, shortened the rest of the in any sense of the expression.". day, without the assistance of cards, as I hated It would be endless to describe the different all manner of gaming, except backgammon, at sensations of both families, when I divulged the which my old friend and I sometimes took a news of our misfortune ; but what others felt two-penny hit. Nor can I here pass over an was slight to what the lovers appeared to enominous circumstance that happened the last dure. Mr Wilmot, who seemed before suffitime we played together ; I only wanted to fling ciently inclined to break off the match, was by a quatre, and yet I threw deuce-ace five times this blow soon determined ; one virtue he had running.
in perfection, which was prudence—too often Some months were elapsed in this manner, the only one that is left us at seventy-two. till at last it was thought convenient to fix a day for the nuptials of the young couple, who seemed earnestly to desire it. During the pre
CHAP. III. parations for the wedding, I need not describe the busy importance of my wife, nor the sly A Migration—the fortunate circumstances of our looks of my daughters; in fact, my attention lives are generally found at last to be of our was fixed on another object--the completing a own procuring: tract which I intended shortly to publish, in defence of my favourite principle. As I looked The only hope of our family now was, that upon this as a masterpiece both for argument the report of our misfortunes might be maliciand style, I could not, in the pride of my heart, ous or premature ; but a letter from my agent avoid shewing it to my old friend, Mr Wilmot, in town soon came with a confirmation of every as I made no doubt of receiving his approba- particular. The loss of fortune to myself alone tion ; but, not till too late, I discovered that he would have been trifling; the only uneasiness. was most violently attached to the contrary opi- I felt was for my family, who were to be humnion, and with good reason ; for he was at that bled, without an education to render them caltime actually courting a fourth wife. This, as lous to contempt. may be expected, produced a dispute attended Near a fortnight had passed before I attempt
ed to restrain their affliction ; for premature con- would act a good part, whether vanquished or solation is but the remembrancer of sorrow. victorious. During this interval, my thoughts were employ- His departure only prepared the way for our ed on some future means of supporting them ; own, which arrived a few days afterwards. The and at last a small cure of fifteen pounds a-year leaving a neighbourhood in which we had enwas offered me in a distant neighbourhood, joyed so many hours of tranquillity, was not where I could still enjoy my principles without without a tear, which scarce fortitude itself molestation. With this proposal I joyfully clo- could suppress. Besides, a journey of seventy sed, having determined to increase my salary by miles, to a family that had hitherto never been managing a little farm.
above ten from home, filled us with apprehenHaving taken this resolution, my next care sion, and the cries of the poor, who followed us was to get together the wrecks of my fortune ; for some miles, contributed to increase it. The and, all debts collected and paid, out of fourteen first day's journey brought us in safety within thousand pounds we had but four hundred re- thirty miles of our future retreat, and we put maining; My chief attention, therefore, was up for the night at an obscure inn, in a village now to bring down the pride of the family to by the way. When we were shewn a room, I their circumstances; for I well knew that aspi- desired the landlord, in my usual way, to let us ring beggary is wretchedness itself. “ You can- have his company, with which he complied, as not be ignorant, my children,” cried I, “ that what he drank would increase the bill next no prudence of ours could have prevented our morning. He knew, however, the whole neighlate misfortune ; but prudence may do much in bourhood to which I was removing, particulardisappointing its effects. We are now poor, my ly Squire Thornhill, who was to be my landlord, fondlings, and wisdom bids us to conform to and who lived within a few miles of the place. our humble situation. Let us then, without re- This gentleman he described as one who desired pining, give up those splendours with which to know little more of the world than its pleanumbers are wretched, and seek, in humble cir- sures, being particularly remarkable for his atcumstances, that peace with which all may be tachment to the fair sex. He observed, that no happy. The poor live pleasantly without our virtue was able to resist his arts and assiduity, help; why then should not we learn to live with- and that there was scarce a farmer's daughter out theirs ? No, my children, let us from this within ten miles round but what had found him moment give up all pretensions to gentility ; we successful and faithless. Though this account have still enough left for happiness, if we are gave me some pain, it had a very different effect wise, and let us draw upon content for the de- upon my daughters, whose features seemed to ficiencies of fortune.”
brighten with the expectation of an approaching As my eldest son was bred a scholar, I deter- triumph ; nor was my wife less pleased and conmined to send him to town, where his abilities fident of their allurements and virtue. While might contribute to our support and his own. our thoughts were thus employed, the hostess The separation of friends and families is, per- entered the room to inform her husband, that haps, one of the most distressful circumstances the strange gentleman, who had been two days attendant on penury. The day soon arrived on in the house, wanted money, and could not sawhich we were to disperse for the first time. tisfy them for his reckoning.“ Want money!" My son, after taking leave of his mother and replied the host, “ that must be impossible ; for the rest, who mingled their tears with their it was no later than yesterday, he paid three kisses, came to ask a blessing from me. This I guineas to our beadle to spare an old broken solgave him from my heart, and which, added to dier that was to be whipped through the town five guineas, was all the patrimony I bad now for dog-stealing." "The hostess, however, still to bestow. “ You are going, my boy,” cried I, persisting in her first assertion, he was preparing “ to London on foot, in the manner Hooker, to leave the room, swearing that he would be your great ancestor, travelled there before you. satisfied one way or another, when I begged the Take from me the same horse that was given landlord would introduce me to a stranger of so him by the good Bishop Jewel—this staff; and much charity as he described. With this he take this book too, it will be your comfort on complied, shewing in a gentleman who seemed the way; these two lines in it are worth a mil. to be about thirty, dressed in clothes that once lion—I have been young, and now am old; yet were laced. His person was well-formed, and never saw I the righteous man forsaken, nor his his face marked with the lines of thinking. He seed begging their breud. Let this be your con- had something short and dry in his address, and solation as you travel on. Go, my boy. What- seemed not to understand ceremony, or to deever be thy fortune, let me see thee once a-year; spise it. Upon the landlord's leaving the room, still keep a good heart, and farewell.” As hé I could not avoid expressing my concern for the was possessed of integrity and honour, I was stranger, at seeing a gentleman in such circumunder no apprehensions from throwing him na- stances, and offered him my purse to satisty the ked into the amphitheatre of life ; for I knew he present demand, “ I take it with all my heart,
sir," replied he, “and am glad that a late over- only one side of their character ; so that he besight, in giving what money I had about me, has gan to lose a regard for private interest in unishewn me, that there are still some men like versal sympathy. He loved all mankind ; for you. I must, however, previously entreat being fortune prevented him from knowing that they informed of the name and residence of my bene- were rascals. Physicians tell us of a disorder in factor, in order to repay him as soon as possible.' which the whole body is so exquisitely sensible, In this I satisfied him fully, not only mention, that the slightest touch gives pain : what some ing my name, and late misfortune, but the place have thus suffered in their persons, this gentleto which I was going to remove." This,” cried man felt in his mind. The slightest distress, he, “ happens still more lucky than I hoped for, whether real or fictitious, touched him to the as I am going the same way myself, having been quick, and his soul laboured under a sickly sendetained here two days by the floods, which, I sibility of the miseries of others. Thus disposed hope, by to-morrow, will be found passable.” I to relieve, it will be easily conjectured he found testified the pleasure I should have in his com- numbers disposed to solicit. His profusion bepany, and my wife and daughters joining in en- gan to impair his fortune, but not his good-natreaty, he was prevailed upon to stay supper. ture ; that, indeed, was seen to increase as the The stranger's conversation, which was at once other seemed to decay; he grew improvident, as pleasing and instructive, induced me to wish for he grew poor; and though he talked like a man à continuance of it; but it was now high time of sense, his actions were those of a fool. Still, to retire, and take refreshment against the fa- however, being surrounded with importunity, tigues of the following day.
and no longer able to satisfy every request that The next morning we all set forward together: was inade of him, instead of money he gave promy family on horseback, while Mr Burchell, mises ; they were all he had to bestow, and he our new companion, walked along the foot-path had not resolution enough to give any man pain by the road-side, observing, with a smile, that by a denial. By this he drew round him crowds as we were ill mounted, he would be tou gene- of dependants, whom he was sure to disappoint, rous to attempt leaving us behind. As the floods yet wished to relieve. These hung upon him for were not yet subsided, we were obliged to hire a time, and left him with merited reproaches and a guide, who trotted on before, Mr Burchell and contempt. But in proportion as he becaine conI bringing up the rear. We lightened the fa- temptible to others, he became despicable to tigues of the road with philosophical disputes, himself. His mind had leaned upon their aduwhich he seemed to understand perfectly. But lation, and, that support taken away, he could what surprised me most was, that, though he find no pleasure in the applause of his heart, was a money-borrower, he defended his opinions which he had never learned to reverence. The with as much obstinacy as if he had been my pa- world now began to wear a different aspect ; the tron. He now and then also informed me to whom flattery of his friends began to dwindle into the different seats belonged that lay in our view simple approbation. Approbation soon took the as we travelled the road. “ That,” cried he, more friendly form of advice ; and advice, when pointing to a very magnificent house which stood rejected, produced their reproaches. He now, at some distance, “ belongs to Mr Thornbill, a therefore, found that such friends as benefits young gentleman who enjoys a large fortune, had gathered round him, were little estimable ; though entirely dependant on the will of his he now found that a man's own heart must be uncle, Sir William l'hornbill, a gentleman who, ever given to gain that of another. I now found content with a little bimself, permits his nephew that--that-I forgot what I was going to obto enjoy the rest, and chiefly resides in town.' serve : in short, sir, he resolved to respect him-"What !” cried I, " is my young landlord, self, and laid down a plan of restoring his fallen then, the nephew of a man whose virtues, ge- fortune. For this purpose, in his own whimsinerosity, and singularities, are so universally cal manner, he travelled through Europe on known? I have heard Sir William Thornhill foot; and now, though he has scarce attained represented as one of the most generous, yet the age of thirty, his circumstances are more whimsical, men in the kingdom ; a man of con- affluent than ever. At present his bounties are summate benevolence.”—“Something, perhaps, more rational and moderate than before ; but he too much so," replied Mr Burchell : “ at least still preserves the character of a humourist, and he carried benevolence to an excess when young; finds most pleasure in eccentric virtues." for his passions were then strong, and as they My attention was so much taken up by Mr all were upon the side of virtue, they led it up Burchell's account, that I scarce looked forward to a romantic extreme. . He early began to aim as we went along, till we were alarmed by the at the qualifications of the soldier and the scho- cries of my family; when, turning, I perceived lar; was soon distinguished in the army, and my youngest daughter in the midst of a rapid had some reputation among men of learning. stream, thrown from her horse, and struggling Adulation ever follows the ambitious; for such with the torrent. She had sunk twice, nor was alone receive most pleasure from flattery. He it in iny power to disengage myself in time to was surrounded with crowds, who shewed him bring her relief. My sensations were even too