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I was ever of opinion that the honest man, who married and brought up a large family, did more service than he who continued single, and only talked of population. From this motive, I had scarce taken orders a year before I began to think seriously of matrimony, and chose my wife as she did her wedding-gown—not for a fine glossy surface, but such qualities as would wear well. To do her justice, she was a good-natured, notable woman, and as for education, there were few country ladies who could shew more.
She could read any English book without much spelling; but for pickling, preserving, and cookery, none could excel her. She prided herself also upon being an excellent contriver in housekeeping; though
I could never find that we grew richer with all her contrivances.
However, we loved each other tenderly, and our fondness increased as we grew old. There was, in fact, nothing that could make us angry with the world or each other. We had an elegant house, situate in a fine country, and a good neighbourhood. The year was spent in moral or rural amusements, in visiting our rich neighbours, and relieving such as were poor. We had no revolutions to fear, nor fatigues to undergo ; all our adventures were by the fireșide, and all our migrations from the blue bed to the brown.
As we lived near the road, we often had the traveller or stranger to visit us, to taste our gooseberry-wine, for which we had great reputation ; and I profess, with the veracity of an historian, that I never knew one of them find fault with it. Our cousins, too, even to the fortieth remove, all remembered their affinity, without any help from the herald's office, and came very frequently to see
Some of them did us no great honour by these claims of kindred; as we had the blind, the maimed, and the halt amongst the number. However, my wife always insisted that, as they were the same flesh and blood, they should sit with us at the same table; so that, if we had not very rich, we generally had very happy friends about to lend him a riding-coat, or a pair of boots, or sometimes a horse of small value, and I always had the satisfaction to find that he never came back to return them. By this the house was cleared of such as we did not like; but never was the family of Wakefield known to turn the traveller or the poor dependent out of doors.
for this remark will hold good through life, that the poorer the guest, the better pleased he ever is with being treated ; and as some men gaze with admiration at the colours of a tulip or the wing of a butterfly, so I was by nature an admirer of happy human faces. However, when any one of our relations was found to be a person of a very bad character, a troublesome guest, or one we desired to get rid of, upon his leaving my house, I ever took care
Thus we lived several years in a state of much happiness; not but that we sometimes had those little rubs which Providence sends to enhance the value of its favours. My orchard was often robbed by school-boys, and my wife's custards plundered by the cats or the children. The squire would sometimes fall asleep in the most pathetic parts of my sermon, or his lady return my wife's civilities at church with a mutilated courtesy. But we soon got over the uneasiness caused by such accidents, and usually in three or four days began to wonder how they vexed us.
My children, the offspring of temperance, as they were educated without softness, so they were at once wellformed and healthy; my sons hardy and active, my daughters beautiful and blooming. Our eldest son 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 my wife, who had lately been reading romances, insisted upon her being called Olivia. In less than another year, we had another daughter, and now I was determined that Grissel should be her name; but a rich relation taking a faney to stand godmother, the girl was by her directions called Sophia ; so that we had two romantic names in the family ; but I solemnly protest I had no hand in it. Moses was our next, and after an interval of twelve years, we had two sons more.
It would be fruitless to deny my exultation when I saw
my little ones about me; but the vanity and satisfaction of my wife were even greater than mine. When our visitors would say: 'Well, upon my word, Mrs Primrose, you have the finest children in the whole country.' 'Ay,' neighbour,' she would answer, they are as Heaven made them—handsome enough, if they be good enough ; for handsome is that handsome does.' And then she would bid the girls hold up their heads, who, to conceal nothing, were certainly very handsome. Mere outside is so very trifling a circumstance with me, that I should scarce have remembered to mention it, had it not been a general topic of conversation in the country. Olivia, now about eighteen, had that luxuriancy of beauty, with which painters generally draw Hebe-open, sprightly, and commanding. Sophia's features were not so striking at first, but often did more certain execution ; for they were soft, modest, and alluring. The one vanquished by a single blow, the other by efforts successively repeated.
My eldest son, George, was bred at Oxford, as I intended him for one of the learned professions. My second boy, Moses, whom I designed for business, received a sort of miscellaneous education at home. But it is needless to attempt describing the particular characters of young people that had seen but very little of the world. In short, a family-likeness prevailed through all; and, properly speaking, they had but one character—that of being all equally generous, credulous, simple, and inoffensive.
THE VOTER'S SONG.
1. They knew that I was poor,
They thought that I was base, And would readily endure
To be covered with disgrace.
Who on dirty Mammon doat;
And I'll give it, if I can,
Like a man, boys, a man.
2. No, no;
When I'm mingled with the dust.
Shall be strengthened by the thought, That their father was not one To be bought, boys, bought.
It is my country's due,
And I'll give it, if I can,
Like a man, boys, a man.