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“ Oh, very
you had been to Bath, or some such place. Ís P. a very pretty place ?" pretty,” said Fanny, '“ full of such beautiful trees.
“ Is there any assembly there, or a play-house ?"
" Oh dear, no; and if there was, of course we should not
Why, you do not think there is any harm, do
" To me, madam, it would be wrong. Well, for my part,” said Miss Jennings, “ it always does me good, for one learns such uncommon fine lessons against all that is wrong. Shakespeare, and Gray, and Lord Byron, and Hudibras, that wrote School for Scandal." Oh, that Charles ! he's a delightsome creatured and then his brother pretending to be so good !-such a hypocrite! I dare say you remember Mrs. Kemp?” “I do not,
“I do not, indeed.” At this moment, to the relief of all parties, Mrs. Finch came in. Mrs. Finch was of that quiet order of beings, asserting nothing, claiming nothing ; yet, with a rational, consistent mind, acting in a firm plain manner, possessing a fine person rather above the common size, what you would call a comely woman, and whose years seemed to claim the privilege of respect, and was allowed to be what her departed brother called her, "a nice woman.”. Her steady walk to her seat, in
the midst of Miss Jennings's communications, seemed to put a damp upon them, and to raise the spirits of Esther; for Fanny was of that playful turn of mind, that has a keen sense of the ridiculous, and she had been mischievously disposed to bring the conversation forward again. So she said, “ These ladies, Mrs. Finch, were speaking of the advantages of the theatre, and of what fine lessons are to be learned there. What do you think?” “ For my part," said Mrs. Finch, “I am no judge; I never was at a play, I had always something else to do; my father had a very large farm, and my brother, when I lived with him, you know, had this farm. I was always obliged to be up very early, to see after the servants, and indeed to work for myself, as all farmers' daughters must. So, by the time gentry were going to the play, I was thinking of going to bed.” The Miss Jennings looked rather queer: it bore hard upon their own station; and however Miss Jennings and Miss Amelia might feel, Miss Tiny, with an undaunted Hippancy, began.
“ That might be the fashion in your days, ma'am, but we were brought up quite different; Í never liked farming business for my part, and couldn't make a bit of cheese or any thing of that sort.” “I suppose your land is
arable ?” said Miss Jemima. 66 No indeed,” said Miss Tiny, “ there's plenty of butter and cheese made on our farm." Mrs. Finch, when she was stirred by any thing which she thought really wrong, could give a plain lecture with very good sense, and it struck her regular mind in a most blameable point of view, that young women without any property should be brought up to do nothing. So she said, “ I cannot tell of what use the present mode of education of farmers' daughters may prove, but it strikes me that it can only lead to poverty and distress. Farmers' sons must be afraid of marrying a wife who can bring them no money, nor help to get any. Gentlemen would not, of course, marry the daughters of their tenants, if they did it could not make either party happy. If they marry tradesmen, and know nothing of trade, they can be of no use; and however kind a husband may be to his pretty wife for two or three months, before the first year is over he will begin to wish her to be of some use.
T have heard Mr. Cooper say, that our good Creator formed us all to do something. The farmer's wife ought certainly to know how
every thing should be done, if she does not do it; a tradesman's wife should serve in the shop. A gentleman's wife
should know more than I can name; she should be quite a companion for him, my dears, and that's what no farmer can afford to have his daughter taught.”
This quiet sensible speech had the effect of silencing the party except Miss Tiny, whose levity was incorrigible. “I should think, ma'am, every body knows their own business best; my pa and ma always wished us to be happy. I have often heard pa say, young people would be young people; time enough for sorrow, when the black ox treads on your toe. Pa never liked to see us moping; and ma always said, she loved her girls to see the world ;—didn't she, Lou’y ? Miss Lou’y was too deeply offended, she only bowed her head, and looking at something which hung before her, whether watch or not I cannot say, pretended that the time she could spare was elapsed, and with many dignified bends and elegant tosses of her head, she bade adieu to Mrs. Finch and the ladies, only turning to Mrs. Kemp, hoped they should be good neighbours; and away tripped the Miss Jennings's.
Mrs. Finch, with her arms folded, sat musing, at last exclaiming, “ Poor silly, very silly young creatures! I do pity you. Do you know, my dear,” turning to Mrs. Kemp, “ if the report I heard was true,
that their father was got very low in the world ?” No, madam, I really do not know;
I never saw these young ladies more than two or three times, once when they wished to employ me about some dresses, and once at my marriage, when you may remember they came to church.” * Yes, indeed, I do, and thought it very indelicate.” Mrs. Finch's visit continued only a few days after Michael's return; she had promised Fanny to spend one day there, and it was pleasing to see the neat happy young creature receiving her old mistress. There was no pretension, there was no apology; she gave the best she had to offer, and by one of those unaccountable propensities in children, for which it is impossible to assign a cause, the little Fanny, hitherto as shy as possible, clung closely to Mrs. Finch and Jemima.
Some long-headed parent might have foreseen future advantage in this infantine endearment; but Fanny's simple mind built no castles for her baby, she only said, “1 must bring her up, ma'am, to wait on you; aunt Kemp must teach her to plait your caps, and I must make her a tidy maid."
But not to dwell on trifles, we must bid farewell to Mrs. Finch, and allow her to return to her well ordered home, and passing a few months