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VICAR OF WAKEFIELD.
SUPPOSED TO BE WRITTEN BY HIMSELT
CHAPTER. I. The description of the family of Wakefield ; in which a kindred likeness prevails as well of minds as of persons.
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 matrimony, and chose my wife as she did her wedding gown, not for a fine giossy surface, but such qualities as would wear well. To do her justice, she was a good-natured notable woman; and as for breeding, there were few country ladies who could show 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 with age. There was in fact nothing that could make us angry with the world or each other. We had an elegant house, situated in a fine country, and a good neighborhood. The year was spent in moral or rural amusements; in visiting our rich neighbors, and relieving such as were poor. We had no revolutions to fear, nor fa. tigues to undergo; all our adventures were by the fireside, and all our nigrations from the blue bed to the brown.
As we lived near the road, we often had the traveller or stranger 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 us. Some of them did us no great honor by these claims of kin-, dred; as we had the blind, the maimed, and the halt among 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 us, for this remark will hold good through life, that the
poorer the guest, the better pleased he ever is with being treated ; and as soine men gaze with admiration at the colors 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 bad character, a troublesome guest, or one we desired to get rid of, upon his leaving my house I ever took care to lend him a riding coat, or a pair of boots, or sometimes a horse of small value, and I always had the satisfaction of finding 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 kuown to turn the traveller or the poor dependant out of doors.
Thus we lived several years in a state of much happiness, not but that we sometimes had those little rubs which Providençe sends to enhance the value of its favors. 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 pathetie parts of my sermon, or his lady return my wife's civilities at church with a mutilated curtsy. 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 temper ance, as they were educated without softness, so they were at once well formed and healthy ; my sons hardy and active, my daughters dutiful and blooming. When I stood in the midst of the little circle which promised to be the supports of my declining age, I could not avoid repeating the famous story of Count Abensburg, who, in Henry II's progress through Germany, while other courtiers came with their treasures, brought his thirty-two children and presented them to his sovereign as the most valuable offering he had to bestow. In this manner, though I had but six, I considered them as a very valuable present made to my country, and consequently looked
upon it as my debtor. Our eldest son was named George, after his uncle, whc left us ten thousand pounds. Our second child, a girl, I intended to call after her aunt Grissel; but my wife, who had been reading romances, insisted upon
her being called Olivia.
Within a year we had another daughter, and now I was determined that Grissel should be her name; but a rich relation taking a fancy to stand god-mother, the girl was, by her direction, called Sophia ; so that we had two romantic names in the family, but I solemniy 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 the satisfaction of my wife were even greater than mine. When our visiters would say, "Well, upon my word, Mrs. Primrose, you have the finest children in the whole country,'— Ay, neighbor, 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 hand
Mere outside is so 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.
The temper of a wuman is generally formed from the turn of her features, at least it was so with my daughters. Olivia wished for many lovers, Sophia to secure
Olivia was often affected from too great a desire to please. Sophia even rem