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father-in-law, the worthy gentleman who gave the shepherd's wife the blankets, in the first part of this history, arrived at the parsonage before Mr. Johnson left it, and assisted in fitting up the clerk's cottage.
Mr. Johnson took his leave, promising to call on the worthy minister and his new clerk once a year, in his summer's journey over the plain, as long as it should please God to spare his life. He had every reason to be satisfied with the objects of his bounty. The shepherd's zeal and piety made him a blessing to the rising generation. The old resorted to his school for the benefit of hearing the young instructed; and the clergyman had the pleasure of seeing that he was rewarded, for the protection he gave the school, by the great increase in his congregation. The shepherd not only exhorted both parents and children to the indispensable duty of a regular attendance at church, but, by his pious counsels, he drew them thither, and, by his plain and prudent instructions, enabled them to understand, and of course delight in, the public worship of God.
THE TWO SHOEMAKERS.
Jack Brown and James Stock were two lads apprenticed, at nearly the same time, to Mr. Williams, a shoemaker, in a small town in Oxfordshire: they were pretty near the same age, but of very different characters and dispositions.
Brown was eldest son to a farmer in good circumstances, who gave the usual apprentice fee with him. Being a wild, giddy boy, whom his father could not well manage, or instruct in farming, he thought it better to send him out to learn a trade at a distance, than to let him idle about at home; for Jack always preferred bird's-nesting and marbles to any other employment. He would trifle away half the day, when his father thought he was at school, with any boys he could meet with, who were as idle as himself; and never could be prevailed upon to do or to learn any thing, while a game at taw could be had for love or money. All this time, his little brothers, much younger than himself, were beginning to follow the plough, or to carry the corn to mill as soon as they were able to mount a cart-horse.
Jack, however, who was a lively boy, and did not naturally want either sense or good nature, might have turned out well enough, if he had not had the misfortune to be his mother's favorite. She concealed and forgave all his faults. To be sure, he was a little wild, she would say, but he would not make the worse man for that; for Jack had a good spirit of his own, and she would not have it broke, and so make a mope of the boy. The farmer, for a quiet life, as it is called, gave up all these points to his wife, and, with them, gave up the future virtue and happiness of his child. He was a laborious and industrious man, but had no religion: he thought only of the gains and advantages of the present day, and never took the future into the account. His wife managed him entirely; and, as she was really notable, he did not trouble his head about any thing further. If she had been careless in her dairy, he would have stormed and sworn; but, as she only ruined one child by indulgence, and almost broke the hearts of the rest by unkindness, he gave himself little concern about the matter. The cheese, certainly, was good; and that, indeed, is a great point; but she was neglectful of her children, and a tyrant to her servants. Her husband's substance, indeed, was not wasted, but his happiness was not consulted. His house, it is true, was not dirty, but it was the abode of fury, ill-temper, and covetousness. And the farmer, though he did not care for liquor, was too often driven to the publichouse in an evening, because his own was neither quiet nor comfortable. The mother was always scolding, and the children were always crying.
Jack, however, notwithstanding his idleness, picked up a little reading and writing, but never would learn to cast an account—that- was too much labor. His mother was desirous he should continue at school, not so much for the sake of his learning,—which she had not sense enough to value, —but to save her darling from the fatigue of labor; for, if he had not gone to school, she knew he must have gone to work; and she thought the former was the least tiresome of the two. Indeed, this foolish woman had such an opinion of his genius, that she used, from a child, to think he was too wise for any thing but a parson, and hoped she should live to see him one. She did not wish to see her son a minister because she loved either learning or piety, but because she thought it would make Jack a gentleman, and set him above his brothers.
Farmer Brown still hoped, that, though Jack was likely to make but an idle and ignorant farmer, yet he might make no bad tradesman, when he should be removed from the indulgences of a father's house, and from a silly mother, whose fondness kept him back in every thing. This woman was enraged when she found that so fine a scholar as she took Jack to be, was to be put apprentice to a shoemaker. The farmer, however, for the first time in his life, would have his own way. But being a worldly man, and too apt to mind only what is falsely called the main chance, instead of being careful to look out for a sober, prudent, and religious master for his son, he left all that to accident, as if it had been a thing of little or no consequence. This is a very common fault; and fathers who are guilty of it, are in a great measure answerable for the future sins and errors of their children, when they come out into the world, and set up for themselves. If a man gives his son a good education, a good example, and a good master, it is, indeed, possible that the son may not turn out well, but it does not often happen; and when it does, the father has no blame resting on him; and it is a great point towards a man's comfort to have his conscience quiet' in that respect, however God may think fit to overrule events.
The farmer however took care to desire his friends to inquire for a shoemaker who had good business, and was a good workman; and the mother did not forget to put in her word, and desired that it might be one who was not too strict; for Jack had been brought up tenderly, was a meek boy, and could not bear to be contradicted in any thing. And this is the common notion of meekness among people who do not take up their notions on rational and Christian grounds.
Mr. Williams was recommended to the farmer as being the best shoemaker in the town in which he lived, and far from a strict master; and, without further inquiries, to Mr. Williams he went.
James Stock, who was the son of an honest laborer in the next village, was bound out by the parish, in consideration of his father having so numerous a family, that he was not able to put him out himself. James was in every thing the very reverse of his new companion. He was a modest, industrious, pious youth, and, though so poor, and the child of a laborer, was a much better scholar than Jack, who was a wealthy farmer's son. His father had, it is true, been able to give him but very little schooling, for he was obliged to be put to work when quite a child. When very young, he used to run of errands for Mr. Thomas, the curate of the parish—a very kind-hearted young gentleman, who boarded next door to his father's cottage. He used also to rub down and saddle his horse, and do any other little job for him, in the most civil, obliging manner. All this so recommended him to the clergyman, that he would often send for him in of an evening, after he had done his day's work in the field, and condescended to teach him himself to write and cast accounts, as well as to instruct him in the principles of his religion. It was not merely out of kindness for the little good-natured services James did him, that he showed him this favor, but also for his readiness in the catechism, and his devout behavior at church.
The first thing that drew the minister's attention to this boy, was the following :—He had frequently given him halfpence and pence for holding his horse and carrying him to water, before he was big enough to be further useful to him. On Christmas-day, he was surprised to see James at church, reading out of a handsome new prayer-book: he wondered how he came by it, for he knew there was nobody in the parish likely to have given it to him, for at that time there were no Sunday-schools; and the father could not afford it, he was sure.
"Well, James," said he, as he saw him when they came out, "you made a good figure at church to-day; it made you look like a man and a Christian, not only to have so handsome a book, but to be so ready in all parts of the service. How came you by that book?" James owned, modestly, that he had been a whole year saving up the money by single halfpence, all of which had been of the minister's own giving; and that, in all that time, he had not spent a single farthing on his own diversions. "My dear boy," said good Mr. Thomas, "I am much mistaken if thou dost not turn out well in the world, for two reasons:—First, from thy saving turn and self-denying temper; and next, because thou didst devote the first eighteen-pence thou wast ever worth in the world to so good a purpose."
James bowed and blushed; and from that time Mr. Thomas began to take more notice of him, and to instruct him, as I said above. As James soon grew able to do him more considerable service, he would now and then give him sixpence. This he constantly saved till it became a little sum, with which he bought shoes and stockings; well knowing that his poor father, with a hard family and low wages, could not buy them for him. As to what little money he earned himself by his daily labor in the field, he constantly carried it to his mother every Saturday night, to buy bread for the family, which was a pretty help to them.
As James was not over stout in his make, his father thankfully accepted the offer of the parish officers to bind out his son to a trade. This good man, however, had not, like farmer Brown, the liberty of choosing a master for his son, or he would carefully have inquired if he was a proper man to have the care of youth; but Williams the shoemaker wag already fixed on, by those who were to put the boy out, who told him, if he wanted a master, it must be him or none; for the overseers had a better opinion of Williams than he deserved, and thought it would be the making of the boy to go to him. The father knew that beggars must not be choosers; so he fitted out James for his new place, having, indeed, little to give him besides his blessing.
The worthy Mr. Thomas, however, kindly gave him an old coat and waistcoat, which his mother, who was a neat and notable woman, contrived to make up for him herself, without a farthing expense; and when it was turned and