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frightened as some others were, because he thought it might do us good in the long run; and he was in hopes that a little poverty might bring on a little penitence. The great grace he labored after, was that of a cheerful submission. He used to say, that if the Lord's Prayer had only contained those four little words, “ Thy will be done,” it would be worth more than the biggest book in the world without them.
Dr. Shepherd, the worthy vicar (with whom the farmer's wife had formerly lived as housekeeper), was very fond of taking a walk with him about his grounds; and he used to say, that he learnt as much from the farmer as the farmer did from him. If the doctor happened to observe, “I am afraid these long rains will spoil this fine piece of oats," the farmer would answer, “ But then, sir, think how good it is for the grass.” If the doctor feared the wheat would be but indifferent, the farmer was sure the rye would turn out well. When grass failed, he did not doubt but turnips would be plentiful. Even for floods and inundations, he would find out some way to justify Providence. “'Tis better," said he, “to have our lands a little overflowed, than that the springs should be dried up, and our cattle faint for lack of water.” When the drought came, he thanked God that the season would be healthy; and high winds, which frightened others, he said, served to clear the air. Whoever or whatever was wrong, he was always sure that Providence was in the right. And he used to say, that a man with ever so small an income, if he had but frugality and temperance, and would cut off all vain desires, and cast his care upon God, was richer than a lord who was tormented by vanity and covetousness. When he saw others in the wrong, he did not, however, abuse them for it, but took care to avoid the same fault. He had sense and spirit enough to break through many old but very bad customs of his neighbors. “If a thing is wrong in itself,” said he one day to Farmer Hodges, “ a whole parish doing it can't make it right. And as to its being an old custom, why, if it be a good one, I like it the better for being old, because it has had the stamp of ages, and the sanction of experience on its worth. But if it be old as well as bad, that is another reason for my trying to put an end to it, that we may not mislead our children as our fathers have misled us."
The Roof-Raising. Some years after he was settled, he built a large new barn. All the workmen were looking forward to the usual holiday
of roof-raising. On this occasion, it was a custom to give a dinner to the workmen, with so much liquor after it, that they got so drunk, that they not only lost the remaining halfday's work, but they were not always able to work the following day.
Mrs. White provided a plentiful dinner for roof-raising, and gave each man his mug of beer. After a hearty meal, they began to grow clamorous for more drink. The farmer said, “My lads, I don't grudge you a few gallons of ale, merely for the sake of saving my liquor, though that is some consideration, especially in these dear times; but I never will, knowingly, help any man to make a beast of himself. I am resolved to break through a bad custom. You are now well refreshed. If you will go cheerfully to your work, you will have half a day's pay to take on Saturday night more than you would have, if this afternoon were wasted in drunkenness. For this, your families will be the better; whereas, were I to give you more liquor, when you have already had enough, I should help to rob them of their bread. But I wish to show you, that I have your good at heart, full as' much as my own profit. If you will now go to work, I will give you another mug at night, when you leave off. Thus your time will be saved, your families helped, and my ale will not go to make reasonable creatures worse than brute beasts."
Here he stopped. “You are in the right on't, master," said Tom the thatcher. “You are a hearty man, farmer," said John Plane, the carpenter. “Come along, boys,” said Tim Brick, the mason: so they all went merrily to work, fortified with a good dinner. There was only one drunken, surly fellow, that refused; this was Dick Guzzle, the smith. Dick never works above two or three days in the week, and spends the others at the Red Lion. He swore, that if the farmer did not give him as much liquor as he liked at roofraising, he would not strike another stroke, but would leave the job unfinished, and he might get hands where he could. Farmer White took him at his word, and paid him off directly, glad enough to get rid of such a sot, whom he had only employed from pity to a large and almost starving family. When the men came for their mug in the evening, the farmer brought out the remains of the cold gammon : they made a hearty supper, and thanked him for having broken through a foolish custom, which was afterwards much left off in that parish; though Dick would not come into it, and lost most of his work in consequence.
Farmer White's laborers were often complaining that things were so dear that they could not buy a bit of meat. He knew it was partly true, but not entirely; for it was before these very hard times that their complaints began. One morning he stepped out, to see how an outhouse which he was thatching went on. He was surprised to find the work at a stand. He walked over to the thatcher's house. “Tom,” said he, “I desire that piece of work may be finished directly. If a shower comes, my grain will be spoiled.” “Indeed, master, I shan't work to-day, nor to-morrow neither,” said Tom. “You forget that 'tis Easter Monday, and to-morrow is Easter Tuesday. And so on Wednesday I shall thatch away, master. But 'tis hard if a poor man, who works all the seasons round, may not enjoy these few holidays, which come but once a year."
“ Tom," said the farmer, “when these days were first put into our Prayer-book, the good men who ordained them to be kept, little thought that the time would come, when holy-day should mean drunken-day, and that the seasons which they meant to distinguish by superior piety, should be converted into seasons of more than ordinary excess. How much dost think now I shall pay thee for this piece of thatch?” “Why, you know, master, you have let it to me by the great. I think between this and to-morrow night, as the weather is so fine, I could clear about four shillings, after I have paid my boy; but thatching does not come often, and other work is not so profitable." " Very well, Tom; and how much now do you think you may spend in these two holidays?” “Why, master, if the ale is pleasant, and the company merry, I do not expect to get off for less than three shillings." “ Tom, can you do pounds, shillings, and pence?” “I can make a little score, master, behind the kitchen door, with a bit of chalk, which is as much as I want." “Well, Tom, add the four shillings you would have earned to the three you intend to spend, what does that make?” “Let me see! three and four make seven. Seven shillings, master.” “Tom, you often tell me the times are so bad that you can never buy a bit of meat. Now, here is the cost of two joints at once; to say nothing of the sin of wasting time and getting drunk.” « I never once thought of that," said Tom. “Now, Tom," said the farmer, “ if I were you, I would step over to Butcher Jobbins's, buy a shoulder of mutton, which being left from Saturday's market, you will get a little cheaper. This I would make my wife bake in a deep dish full of potatoes. I would then go to work, and
when the dinner was ready, I would go and enjoy it with my wife and children; you need not give the mutton to the brats; the potatoes will have all the gravy, and be very savory for them.” “Ay, but I've got no beer, master; the times are so hard, that a poor man can't afford to brew a drop of drink now, as we used to do.”
"Times are bad, and malt is very dear, Tom, and yet both don't prevent you from spending seven shillings in keeping holiday. Now, send for a quart of ale, as it is to be a feast; and you will even then be four shillings richer than if you had gone to the public-house. I would have you put by these four shillings, till you can add a couple to them; with this, I would get a bushel of malt, and my wife should brew it, and you may take a pint of your own beer at home of a night, which will do you more good than a gallon at the Red Lion.” “I have a great mind to take your advice, master; but I shall be made such fun of at the Lion! they will so laugh at me, if I don't go!” “Let those laugh that win, Tom.” “But, master, I have got a friend to meet there." - Then ask your friend to come and eat a bit of your cold mutton at night; and here is sixpence for another pot, if you will promise to brew a small cask of your own." "Thank you, master, and so I will; and I won't go to the Lion. Come, boy, bring the helm, and fetch the ladder.” And so Tom was upon the roof in a twinkling. The barn was thatched; the' mutton bought; the beer brewed; the friend invited; and the holiday enjoyed.
The Sheep-Shearing. Dr. Shepherd happened to say to Farmer White one day, that there was nothing he disliked more than the manner in which sheep-shearing and harvest-home were kept by some in his parish. “What,” said the good doctor, “just when we are blest with a prosperous gathering in of these natural riches of our land, the fleece of our flocks; when our barns are crowned with plenty, and we have, through the divine blessing on our honest labor, reaped the fruits of the earth in due season; is that very time to be set apart for ribaldry, and riot, and drunkenness? Do we thank God for his mercies, by making ourselves unworthy and unfit to enjoy them? When he crowns the year with his goodness, shall we affront him by our impiety? It is more than a common insult to his providence; it is a worse than brutal return to Him who openeth his hand and filleth all things living with plenteousness."
“I thank you for the hint, sir," said the farmer. “I am resolved to rejoice though, and others shall rejoice with me; and we will have a merry night on't.”
So Mrs. White dressed a very plentiful supper of meat and pudding, and spread out two tables. The farmer sat at the head of one, consisting of some of his neighbors, and all his work-people. At the other sat his wife, with two long benches on each side of her. On these benches sat all the old and infirm poor, especially those who lived in the workhouse, and had no day of festivity to look forward to in the whole year, but this. On the grass, in the little court, sat the children of his laborers, and of the other poor, whose employment it had been to gather flowers, and dress and adorn the horns of the ram; for the farmer did not wish to put an end to any old custom, if it was innocent. His own children stood by the table, and he gave them plenty of pudding, which they carried to the children of the poor, with a little draught of cider to every one. The farmer, who never sat down without begging a blessing on his meal, did it with suitable solemnity on the present joyful occasion.
Dr. Shepherd practised one very useful method, which I dare say was not peculiar to himself; a method of which, I doubt not, other country clergymen have found the advantage. He was often on the watch to observe those seasons when a number of his parishioners were assembled together, not only at any season of festivity, but at their work. He has been known to turn a walk through a hay field to good account; and has been found to do as much good by a few minutes' discourse with a little knot of reapers, as by his Sunday's sermon. He commonly introduced his religious observations by some questions relating to their employment : he first gained their 'affections by his kindness, and then converted his influence over them to their souls' good. The interest he took in their worldly affairs opened their hearts to the reception of those divine truths which he was always earnest to impress upon them. By these methods, too, he got acquainted with their several characters, their spiritual wants, their individual sins, dangers, and temptations, which enabled him to preach with more knowledge and successful application, than those ministers can do who are unacquainted with the state of their congregations. It was a remark of Dr. Shepherd's, that a thorough acquaintance with human nature was one of the most important species of knowledge a clergyman could possess.
The sheep-shearing feast, though orderly and decent, was