Public Domain Books
What happened at Farmer Grove’s; and how she gratified him for the Use of his Room.
While at Mr. Grove’s, which was in the Heart of the Village, she not only taught the Children in the Day Time, but the Farmer’s Servants, and all the Neighbours, to read and write in the Evening; and it was a constant Practice before they went away, to make them all go to Prayers, and sing Psalms. By this Means, the People grew extremely regular, his Servants were always at Home, instead of being at the Ale-house, and he had more Work done than ever. This gave not only Mr. Grove, but all the Neighbours, an high Opinion of her good Sense and prudent Behaviour: And she was so much esteemed, that most of the Differences in the Parish were left to her Decision; and if a Man and Wife quarrelled (which sometimes happened in that Part of the Kingdom) both Parties certainly came to her for Advice. Every Body knows, that Martha Wilson was a passionate scolding Jade, and that John her husband, was a surly ill-tempered Fellow. These were one Day brought by the Neighbours for Margery to talk to them, when they fairly quarrelled before her, and were going to Blows; but she stepping between them, thus addressed the Husband; John, says she, you are a Man, and ought to have more Sense than to fly in a Passion, at every Word that is said amiss by your Wife; and Martha, says she, you ought to know your Duty better, than to say any Thing to aggravate your Husband’s Resentment. These frequent Quarrels, arise from the Indulgence of your violent Passions; for I know, you both love one another, notwithstanding what has passed between you. Now, pray tell me John, and tell me Martha, when you have had a Quarrel the over Night, are you not both sorry for it the next Day? They both declared that they were: Why then, says she, I’ll tell you how to prevent this for the future, if you will both promise to take my Advice. They both promised her. You know, says she, that a small Spark will set Fire to Tinder, and that Tinder properly placed will fire a House; an angry Word is with you as that Spark, for you are both as touchy as Tinder, and very often make your own House too hot to hold you. To prevent this, therefore, and to live happily for the future, you must solemnly agree, that if one speaks an angry Word, the other will not answer, ’till he or she has distinctly called over all the Letters in the Alphabet, and the other not reply, ’till he has told twenty; by this Means your Passions will be stifled, and Reason will have Time to take the Rule.
This is the best Recipe that was ever given for a married Couple to live in Peace: Though John and his Wife frequently attempted to quarrel afterwards, they never could get their Passions to any considerable Height, for there was something so droll in thus carrying on the Dispute, that before they got to the End of the Argument, they saw the Absurdity of it, laughed, kissed, and were Friends.
Just as Mrs. Margery had settled this Difference between John and his Wife, the Children (who had been sent out to play, while that Business was transacting) returned some in Tears, and others very disconsolate, for the Loss of a little Dormouse they were very fond of, and which was just dead. Mrs. Margery, who had the Art of moralizing and drawing Instructions from every Accident, took this Opportunity of reading them a Lecture on the Uncertainty of Life, and the Necessity of being always prepared for Death. You should get up in the Morning, says she, and to conduct yourselves, as if that Day was to be your last, and lie down at Night, as if you never expected to see this World any more. This may be done, says she, without abating of your Chearfulness, for you are not to consider Death as an Evil, but as a Convenience, as an useful Pilot, who is to convey you to a Place of greater Happiness: Therefore, play my dear Children, and be merry; but be innocent and good. The good Man sets Death at Defiance, for his Darts are only dreadful to the Wicked.
After this, she permitted the Children to bury the little Dormouse, and desired one of them to write his Epitaph, and here it is.
Epitaph on a DORMOUSE, really written by a little BOY.
In Paper Case, Hard by this Place, Dead a poor Dormouse lies; And soon or late, Summon’d by Fate, Each Prince, each Monarch dies.
Ye Sons of Verse, While I rehearse, Attend instructive Rhyme; No Sins had Dor, To answer for, Repent of yours in Time.