Moral tales/The Desponding Couple

Moral tales (1795–1804)
The Desponding Couple
3245594Moral tales — The Desponding Couple1795-1804


THE door of the cottage ſtood open, and as Mrs. Andrews was entering ſhe beheld a very neat, decent looking young woman with a ſpinning wheel ſtanding by her, which ſhe had been obliged to ſtop, having a young infant ſucking, and two other ſmall children hanging at her knees, crying for a bit of bread, which ſhe had not to give them. The afflicted mother her arm round them, and preſſed them to her heart, and, with a look of extreme anguiſh, lifted up her eyes to heaven, and cried out, Lord have mercy on my dear babes! Mrs. Andrews was greately afflicted at the ſight, and immediately diſpatched a neighbour's child after the baker, who was in ſight, and he ſoon returned with a loaf, in the mean time ſhe ſtepped into the houſe, and eagerly aſked the poor woman whether ſhe had loſt her huſband ? He is not dead, Madam, replied ſhe, but he is as bad as left to me, for he has been out of work ſome time, and has been enticed away by ſome idle fellows, who have tempted him to ſpend what little he ſaved laſt harveſt, and now he is running up a ſcore at the alehouſe, while I and my children are ſtarving at home ; for I cannot do much towards getting a livelihood with ſo many little children, nor will the pariſh relieve me while my huſband goes on as he does. How comes it about, ſaid the lady, that he is not at work ? I underſtood Mr. Andrews that he offered to employ all the men whom he found the other day at the George, and I ſuppoſe your huſband was one of them ? On hearing this the poor woman's countenance looked more cheerful, and ſhe ſaid, that he had indeed told her that he was going to work for the ſquire, but ſhe was afraid he had only ſaid ſo to pacify her, and that ſince his departure the baker had called upon her to deſire to be paid for ſeveral loaves ſhe had lately had, and refuſed to truſt her any longer, which threw her into the ſtate of deſpair in which Mrs. Andrews had found her.

The good lady, who felt the ſincereſt pity for this poor woman, immediately gave ſome bread to the children, and then took out her purſe, and gave her half a crown, comforting her with an aſſurance, that Mr. Andrews would readily employ her huſband if he would work; on which the woman ſaid that ſhe never knew him idle when he could get work to do; and as for his temper, there was not a better in the world than his before he met with croſſes; but ſhe had reaſon to think the old ſaying true, When Poverty comes in at the Door, Love flies out at the Window. Let us hope then, ſaid the lady, that when Induſtry has driven Poverty out of doors Love will ſoon return back again; but, at all events, let me advise you, not to give way to ſorrow and deſpondency. Your huſband, you ſay, is good-natured; if ſo, his tenderness muſt be hurt at seeing you in affliction and tears; and I am inclined to think he is the very man who told Mr. Andrews, that he went to the public houſe for no other reaſon, but becauſe he could not bear to ſee his wife take on; therefore let me preſuade you to ſummon up a good reſolution, and to put on a cheerful countenance when he returns home at noon-- Get a bit of dinner ready for him, and let him enjoy comfort in his own houſe, and I will venture to ſay he will not go abroad in ſearch of happiness ; for nothing ſeems wanting here but a little money to clear off old ſcores, and buy neceſſaries ; and in reſpect to the firſt, I will ſet your heart at eaſe, the other your huſband's wages will accompliſh.

The good woman was quite cheered with the lady's kindness, who inquired into the ſtate of her debts, which amounted only to a few ſhillings to the baker and at the chandler's ſhop ; theſe Mrs. Andrews promiſed to pay as ſhe returned home. So you ſee, ſaid ſhe, Mrs. Philips, that your caſe is not ſo bad as you thought it was : I obſerved as I entered, added the lady, that you prayed to God to have mercy upon your children. He who knows all things, paſt, preſent, and to come, knew that you would do ſo, and his providence guided my ſteps to your houſe, and made me the inſtrument of relieving your diſtress, which has given me great pleaſure, I aſſure you. It is very wonderful, continued the lady, to obſerve the ways of Providence, and how faithfully the Almighty fulfils his promiſes of never forſaking thoſe who love and fear him, when they call upon him in the day of trouble. But people like you, Mrs. Philips, who are, as I apprehend, rather inclined to be low ſpirited, are apt to forget theſe promiſes, eſpecially if they do not go to church, which perhaps is the caſe with you. The woman replied, that with three little children ſhe could not go to church. Well, replied the lady, I wiſh every poor woman had as good an excuſe to offer for abſenting themſelves from divine worſhip ; but I hope you find leiſure to read your Bible ; The woman replied, that ſhe had been in too much grief to read lately, but now ſhe was happier ſhe would certainly do ſo.

I no longer wonder, ſaid Mrs Andrews, at your great dejection of spirits, when I hear that you throw aſide the only cordial that can ſupport the mind under the trials you have lately met with : let me perſuade you for the future, to have immediate recourſe to the Scriptures whenever you are in any kind of affliction. I do not mean to recommend to you to ſpend ſo much time in reading as ſhall break in on your family employments, it will be ſufficient to read a ſmall portion of them at once. Many of the Pſalms of David are particularly calculated to afford comfort, and are in general very eaſy to underſtand ; and ſo are ſome of our Saviour's discourſes. You may alſo read in the Scriptures, of both the Old and New Teſtament, how wonderfully God's faithful ſervants were often delivered out of trouble, or ſupported under it. But above all you would, by reading the Scriptures, learn to look forwards to a world of everlaſting happineſs; and the hope of immoral joys would ſtrengthen your mind to endure with patience all the evils of life which will be ended in a few ſhort years.

Mrs. Philips thanked the lady for her good advice, and ſaid ſhe would certainly follow it in every reſpect. Mrs. Andrews then left her, in order to perform the promiſe ſhe had made of paying her debts.

The good woman's ſpirits were quite revived by the kindneſs of the lady, and ſhe lifted up her heart in thankfulness to God for ſending her ſuch ſeaſonable relief, and reſolved to truſt in his mercy for the future; ſhe then laid her little infant into the cradle, and leaving the eldeſt to rock it, with a ſtrict injunction not to leave it till ſhe returned, ſhe ſtept with all poſſible haſte to the butcher's and bought a bit of mutton, which ſhe put in the ſaucepan for her huſband's dinner.

Benjamin Philips, who know nothing of the lady's viſit, left his work with a heavy heart: he had as yet received no wages, and not having a ſingle penny in his pocket, he dreaded to ſee his wife, yet he dared not to go to the alehouſe, because he was afraid of offending the ſquire, who had made in one condition of his ſetting the men to work, that all who were near enough, ſhould go home to their families at noon. As he drew nearer the houſe his heart failed him, and he flung himſelf down on a bench which was before his door ; but was soon roused by his eldeſt child, who ran out and cried, Daddy! Daddy! come to dinner, it is ſmoking hot on the table. Aſtoniſhed at theſe words the father ſtarted up, and haſtily entered his houſe, where he beheld a ſight that filled his heart with joy. A table, ſpread with neatneſs and plenty, to which he had long been a ſtranger, and his wife with a happy countenance inviting him to partake of the welcome repaſt.

He eagerly aſked, by what means ſhe had procured it? which she related, and they then ſat down to enjoy it, which he had but little time to do, as part of his dinner hour had been waſted on the bench, and he ſoon heard the bell ring to ſummon the workmen to their ſeveral employments.

Inſtead of dreading the return of evening Philips now impatiently longed for it, nor were his pleaſing expectations diſappointed -he found his dear Bet cheerful and happy, his little ones playful and quiet, and paſſed a moſt comfortable evening, his wife repeated what the good lady had ſaid to her, and her huſband agreed to join with her in the courſe of life which Mrs. Andrews had recommended.

From that time the huſband and wife went church once every Sunday if they poſſibly could, and the man managed to look after the little ones while his wife was at church in the afternoon, and in the ſummer time they uſed to take a walk in the fields together, and after the elder children were in bed it was his cuſtom to fit and read to his wife, while she nurſed the little one to ſleep. In the courſe of a few years they had ſeveral children, but they brought them up to do something or other, as soon as ever they were able, and in consequence of their hoeſty, induſtry and cleanliness, the family was greatly noticed by the gentry in the neighbourhood, who frequently aſſifted them with their bounty in one way or other, so that they never after were in very great diſtress, but lived on the whole cheerful & happy.

This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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