Page images

and diminished its immorality and extravagance in the same proportion.

The good women, being now supplied with yeast from each other's brewings, would have baked, but two difficulties still remained. Many of them had no ovens; for since the new bad management had crept in, many cottages have been built without this convenience. Fuel also was scarce at Weston. Mrs. Jones advised the building a large parish oven. Sir John subscribed, to be rid of her importunity; and the squire, because he thought every improvement in economy would reduce the poor's rate. It was soon accomplished; and to this oven, at a certain hour, three times a week, the elder children carried their loaves which their mothers had made at home, and paid a halfpenny, or a penny, according to their size, for the baking.

Mrs. Jones found that no poor women in Weston could buy a little milk, as the farmers' wives did not care to rob their dairies. This was a great distress, especially when the children were sick. So Mrs. Jones advised Mrs. Sparks, at the Cross, to keep a couple of cows, and sell out the milk by halfpenny-worths. She did so, and found, that though this plan gave her some additional trouble, she got full as much by it, as if she had made cheese and butter. She also sold rice at a cheap rate; so that, with the help of the milk and the public oven, a fine rice pudding was to be had for a trifle.

Charity School for Servants. The girls” school, in the parish, was fallen into neglect; for though many would be subscribers, yet no one would look after it. I wish this was the case at Weston only : many schools have come to nothing, and many parishes are quite destitute of schools, because too many gentry neglect to make it a part of the duty of their grown-up daughters to inspect the instruction of the poor. It was not in Mr. Simpson's way to see if girls were taught to work. The best clergyman cannot do every thing. This is ladies' business. Mrs. Jones consulted her counselor, Mrs. Betty, and they went every Friday to the school, where they invited mothers, as well as daughters to come, and learn to cut out to the best advantage. Mrs. Jones had not been bred to these things; but by means of Mrs. Cowper's excellent cuttingout book, she soon became mistress of the whole art. She not only had the girls taught to make and mend, but to wash and iron too. She also allowed the mother or eldest daughter of every family to come once a week, and learn how to dress one cheap dish. One Friday, which was cookingday, who should pass by but the squire, with his gun and dogs ? He looked into the school for the first time.“ Well, madam,” said he, “what good are you doing here? What are your girls learning and earning ? Where are your manufactures? Where is your spinning and your carding?" “Sir,” said she, “this is a small parish, and you know ours is not a manufacturing county; so that when these girls are women, they will not be much employed in spinning. We must, in the kind of good we attempt to do, consult the local genius of the place; I do not think it will answer to introduce spinning, for instance, in a country where it is quite new. However, we teach them a little of it, and still more of knitting, that they may be able to get up a small piece of household linen once a year, and provide the family with stockings, by employing the odds and ends of their time in these ways. But there is another manufacture, which I am carrying on, and I know of none within my own reach which is so valuable.” “What can that be?" said the squire. To make good wives for working men,said she. “Is not mine an excellent staple commodity? I am teaching these girls the arts of industry and good management. It is little encouragement to an honest man to work hard all the week, if his wages are wasted by a slattern at home. Most of these girls will probably become wives to the poor, or servants to the rich; to such, the common arts of life are of great value: now, as there is little opportunity for learning these at the school-house, I intend to propose that such gentry as have sober servants shall allow one of these girls to come and work in their families one day in a week, when the housekeeper, the cook, the house-maid, or the laundry-maid, shall be required to instruct them in their several departments. This I conceive to be the best way of training good servants. They should serve this kind of regular apprenticeship to various sorts of labor. Girls who come out of charity-schools, where they have been employed in knitting, sewing, and reading, are not sufficiently prepared for hard and laborious employments. I do not in general approve of teaching charity children to write, for the same reason. I confine within very strict limits my plan of educating the poor. A thorough knowledge of religion, and of some of those coarser arts of life, by which the community may be best benefited, includes the whole stock of instruction, which, unless in very extraordinary cases, I would wish to bestow."

" What have you got on the fire, madam?said the squire;. “ for your pot really smells as savory as if Sir John's French cook had filled it.” “Sir," replied Mrs. Jones, “I have lately got acquainted with Mrs. White, who has given us an account of her cheap dishes and nice cookery, in one of the Cheap Repository little books.* Mrs. Betty and I have made all her dishes, and very good they are; and we have got several others of our own. Every Friday we come here, and dress one. These good women see how it is done, and learn to dress it at their own houses. I take home part for my own dinner, and what is left I give to each in turn. I hope I have opened their eyes on a sad mistake they had got intothat we think any thing is good enough for the poor. Now, I do not think any thing good enough for the poor which is not clean, wholesome, and palatable ; and what I myself would not cheerfully eat, if my circumstances required it.”

“Pray, Mrs. Betty,” said the squire, “oblige me with a basin of your soup.” The squire found it so good after his walk, that he was almost sorry he had promised to buy no more legs of beef, and declared, that not one sheep's head should ever go to his kennel again. He begged his cook might have the receipt ; and Mrs. Jones wrote it out for her. She has also been so obliging as to favor me with a copy of all her receipts. And as I hate all monopoly, and see no reason why such cheap, nourishing, and savory dishes should be confined to the parish of Weston, I print them, that all other parishes may have the same advantage. Not only the poor, but all persons with small incomes, may be glad of them.

“ Well, madam," said Mr. Simpson, who came in soon after, “which is best, to sit down and cry over our misfortunes, or to bestir ourselves to do. our duty to the world?“Sir,” replied Mrs. Jones, “I thank you for the useful lesson you have given me. You have taught me that an excessive indulgence of sorrow is not piety, but selfishness; that the best remedy for our own afflictions is to lessen the afflictions of others, and thus evidence our submission to the will of God, who perhaps sent these very trials to abate our own selflove, and to stimulate our exertions for the good of others. You have taught me that our time and talents are to be employed with zeal in God's service, if we wish for his favor here or hereafter; and that one great employment of those talents, which he requires, is the promotion of the present, and much more the future happiness of all around us. You have taught me that much good may be done with little money; and that the heart, the head, and the hands, are of

* See the Way to Plenty, for a number of cheap receipts.

some use, as well as the purse. I have also learned another lesson, which I hope not to forget, that Providence, in sending these extraordinary seasons of scarcity and distress, which we have lately twice experienced, has been pleased to overrule these trying events to the general good; for it has not only excited the rich to an increased liberality, as to actual contribution, but it has led them to get more acquainted with the local wants of their poorer brethren, and to interest themselves in their comfort; it has led to improved modes of economy, and to a more feeling kind of beneficence. Above all, without abating any thing of a just subordination, it has brought the affluent to a nearer knowledge of the persons and characters of their indigent neighbors; it has literally brought “the rich and poor to meet together;' and this I look upon to be one of the essential advantages attending Sunday schools also, where they are carried on upon true principles, and are sanctioned by the visits, as well as supported by the contributions of the wealthy."

May all who read this account of Mrs. Jones, and who are under the same circumstances, go and do likewise !


I PROMISED, in the “ Cure for Melancholy," to give some account of the manner in which Mrs. Jones set up her school. She did not much fear being able to raise the money; birt money is of little use, unless some persons of sense and piety can be found to direct these institutions. Not that I would discourage those who set them up, even in the most ordinary manner, and from mere views of worldly policy. It is something gained to rescue children from idling away their Sabbath in the fields or the streets. It is no small thing to keep them from those tricks to which a day of leisure tempts the idle and the ignorant. It is something for them to be taught to read; it is much to be taught to read the Bible ; and much, indeed, to be carried regularly to church. But all this is not enough. To bring these institutions to answer their highest end, can only be effected by God's blessing on the best-directed means, and choice of able teachers, and a diligent attention in some pious gentry to visit and inspect the schools.

On Recommendations. Mrs. Jones had one talent that eminently qualified her to do good, namely, judgment; this, even in the gay part of her life, had kept her from many mistakes; but though she had sometimes been deceived herself, she was very careful not to deceive others, by recommending people to fill any office for which they were unfit, either through selfishness or false kindness. She used to say, there is always some one appropriate quality which every person must possess, in order to fit them for any particular employment. “Even in this quality," said she to Mr. Simpson the clergyman, “I do not expect perfection ; but if they are destitute of this, whatever good qualities they may possess besides, though they may do for some other employment, they will not do for this. If I want a pair of shoes, I go to a shoemaker; I do not go to a man of another trade, however ingenious he may be, to ask him if he cannot contrive to make me a pair of shoes. When I

« PreviousContinue »