Moral tales/The Unkind Daughter

Moral tales (1795–1804)
The Unkind Daughter
3245532Moral tales — The Unkind Daughter1795-1804


AS Mrs. Andrews was one day taking her daily walk in ſearch of objects of charity, ſhe called in at a little cottage, in which ſhe found a poor decrepit old woman, named Betty Parker, fitting ſhivering with cold, and wiping away the tears which ran down the furrows that age had made in her withered cheeks. Touched with theſe ſigns of diſtreſs, Mrs. Andrews kindly inquired into the cauſe of her uneaſineſs, on which the poor creature replied, that it was occaſioned by an unkind daughter. I am ſo old, madam, ſaid ſhe, that I am paſt moſt of the enjoyments of this life, excepting what I could have in the love of my child. But I cannot make ſhift without food to eat. This, I thank God I am able to buy, for the gentry in the neighbourhood are very kind to me in ſending me money; but, lack-a-day, I am lame, and cannot go out to purchaſe what I want, neither can I dreſs victuals for myſelf.

I have, from my youth, been accuſtomed to cleanlineſs, and it is quite a torment to me to be dirty ; yet, here will my unnatural daughter let me fit for hours and hours famiſhing with hunger. If I aſk her to make my bed, ſhe murmurs, and bids me go into the workhouſe. If ſhe ſweeps my room once in a week ſhe thinks ſhe does too much for me. When ſhe waſhes my linen, which is very ſeldom, ſhe grumbles the whole time. Now, my good lady, continued Betty Parker, theſe are hard things for a parent to bear; and I hope God will forgive my being grieved with them, for I cannot help thinking of what I have in former days done for my daughter. I can truly ſay, I have been a tender mother to her, and it is very hard to be uſed in this manner by one whom I have nouriſhed at my breaſt. Many a night have I lain awake after a hard day's work to nurſe and tend her. Many a day have I ſlaved and coiled from morning to night, to get clothes to cover her, and victuals for her to eat ; nay, after her poor dear father died, I have often gone without a meal that I might be able to ſatisfy her hunger : and though I ſay it, ſhe always went neat and clean. It is very hard, indeed, Madam Andrews, it is very hard to be uſed ſo in my old age. Mrs. Andrews comforted the poor woman, by reminding her, that asſhe had, according to her own account, borne all the other evils of life with patience, ſhe ſhould not let her ſpirits ſink now ſhe was drawing near the end of her courſe ; that ſhe ſhould try to raiſe her thoughts to God, and think of the happineſs that is in ſtore for the righteous in the other world. The good old woman's countenance cleared up immediately, and ſhe ſaid, that ſuch thoughts were often her comfort in her hours of ſolitude, though ſometimes ſhe could not help grieving. To be ſure, what ſhe had to complain of, was not to be compared to the ſufferings of her Saviour; and the Teſtament told her, that every Christian ſhould take up their croſs and follow him.

Mrs. Andrews ſaid, ſhe was very glad to hear that ſhe could read, and ſeemed ſo well to underſtand the proper uſe of the Scriptures, and propoſed to read a chapter to her ; this kind offer the good old woman thankfully accepted, and Mrs. Andrews having finiſhed it, had the pleaſure to see that ſhe had given consolation to a worthy heart. She promiſed not only to repeat her viſit to Betty Parker, but to call on the old woman's daughter, and endeavour to prevail on her to be more attentive to her mother for the future. She accordipgly did ſo, and found this unfeeling woman, whoſe name was Hannah Jenkinſon, ſitting at tea with two goſſipping neighbours, who, however, got up and went away when this lady came in. Mrs. Andrews inquired of Hannah how her mother did? on which ſhe replied, that ſhe did not juſtly know, for ſhe had been too buſy to call on her that day. Mrs. Andrews expreſſed her ſurpriſe at her pleading want of time, and began, relating in what condition ſhe had found her mother ; but the unkind daughter, inſtead of ſhowing any concern on the occaſion, anſwered, that her mother did not know what ſhe would have ; and pleaded her own family affairs as a reaſon for not doing more for her. Mrs. Andrews ſaid, that had ſhe found her engaged in them, ſhe ſhould have been ready to allow of her excuse ; but surely, ſhe, who had leisure to ſit down at the tea-table, might find time to succour her poor ancient parent. She deſired Hannah to conſider what would have become of her if her poor mother had been as thoughtless and inattentive to her when ſhe was a little helpleſs infant ; and that ſhe was ſetting a very bad example to her own children, who would very likely pay her in her own way. Hannah Jenkinſon's own children were as yet little ones, and an evil which was at a diſtance ſhe did not ſeem to dread. She endeavoured to throw the blame on her mother, by ſaying, that the old woman was ſo fretful and humourſome, there was no doing any thing to pleaſe to her. I am afraid, Mrs. Jenkinſon, ſaid the lady, that you do not try; but even ſuppoſing that your poor mother is a little tireſome, do you not think it is your duty to bear with the infirmities of your aged parent? Conſider, ſhe has but a ſhort time to live in the world; and it will ſurely fill your heart with remorſe when ſhe is dead and gone, to think that you helped to bring down her grey hairs with ſorrow to the grave. Mrs. Andrews uſed many other arguments, which at length had ſome effect, and Hannah Jenkinſon promiſed to treat her mother with greater kindneſs for the time to come, which ſhe accordingly did, and the good old woman ended her days in peace ; and her daughter rejoiced as long as ſhe lived, that ſhe had altered her behaviour to her. This young woman had been taught to read, but being always of a gay turn, and left to herſelf a good deal while her poor mother went out to work, ſhe got idle habits, and never could be perſuaded to delight in reading the Scriptures, and that was the cauſe of her neglecting ſo material a duty ; but it is to be hoped, that Sunday Schools and Schools of Induſtry, will be a mean of preventing ſuch faults in many daughters whoſe parents cannot attend to them.

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

Public domainPublic domainfalsefalse