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and nothing being said about minerals, no kind of mineral substance or preparation can be adapted to the purposes of medicine. The old man had boundless faith in certain infallible family receipts, of infusions or decoctions of British herbs, handed down from generation to generation, as of sovereign use under all the maladies that flesh is heir to. By the help of these, in conjunction with a sound constitution and a temperate life, Mr. Dormer enjoyed a good portion of health and activity to old age. When his health began to fail, he was continually lamenting the loss of his old friend, and declaring that he could place no confidence in any of the modern race of medical men. He was sure they would poison him with calomel. At length, after much persuasion, and in order to satisfy his daughter, Mr. Dormer consented to see the successor of his late friend, an honest and intelligent man, who kindly entered into, and bore with, the little peculiarities and prejudices of his patient. He candidly told him that medicine could do but little for him; and that the particular class of
medicines against which he had so strong an antipathy, would, in his case, be neither necessary nor proper. This seemed to win the old man's confidence, and he continued to receive the visits of his doctor, and made no further question as to his prescriptions; but, after his death, old Betty confessed to her young mistress, that the medicines, at the appointed hour of taking them, had, by the express injunction of the patient, been regularly thrown away. Thus was the “ruling passion strong in death."
Before I dismiss old Mr. Dormer, I must mention one instance in which he carried out his
opposition to the habits of the times, much to his own spiritual privation, in a matter which excited much sympathy towards him, in the minds of his minister and the fellow Christians with whom he was associated; but in which they could not feel themselves justified in sacrificing the interests of many to the feelings of one. Mr. Dormer had been always accustomed to attend public worship twice on the Lord's-day, and in the evening to read a sermon to his household. In his latter years, the practice of evening preaching was very generally adopted, and was found very useful, in bringing under the sound of the gospel, multitudes who had been accustomed to spend the sabbath evening in dissipation or idleness. In the congregation with which Mr. Dormer worshipped, the measure was not very soon adopted : for the minister, and several of the old standards, like himself, preferred employing the evening in domestic worship and instruction, and a decided opposition was anticipated on his part. But, at length, the desire became so general, and the prospect of usefulness so evident, that it seemed a duty to sacrifice individual preference to general good. Mr. Dormer's was the only dissentient vote to the proposed measure of engaging an assistant minister to take the afternoon service, and establishing an evening lecture. Every possible means was tried to meet and conciliate his feelings. It was known that he assembled his family exactly at five o'clock, and that they separated at half-past six. The time of the afternoon and evening services was so arranged as to admit of his attending either, without interference with his domestic order. But no, he could not attend in the after
noon, because it was a minister to whom he had not been accustomed ; and he could not attend in the evening, because he had always been used to go out in the afternoon. Thus he went on for several years, depriving himself and his family of privileges after which they pined, and considering himself as deeply injured by the minister and congregation. The afternoon preacher he had never even seen; and he had become very shy of his old pastor. Two or three years before his death, Mr. Dormer was laid aside for several weeks by an accident. My uncle frequently visited him, and happily succeeded in introducing the young minister, and in re-establishing the intimacy of the old gentleman with his long-valued pastor. Afflictions are sometimes sanctified in softening down prejudices, and mellowing the feelings. It was so in this case.
Mr. Dormer became truly thankful for the visits of both these gentlemen, one or other of whom kindly conducted the domestic service on the Lord's day evening, until Mr. Dormer was able to resume it himself. After his recovery, he resumed his seat in the sanctuary every sabbath afternoon; and on several occasions was known even to attend the evening lecture. He also added a codicil to his will, bequeathing a testimonial of friendship to both the ministers, and each of the friends who had opposed his views about the evening lecture, with an expression of regret that he had ever spoken or thought hardly of them.
NOVELTY. The preceding chapter introduced to the reader my uncle's neighbour Mr. Kennedy, who was as
famous for the eager adoption of every thing new, as was Mr. Dormer for his rigid adherence to every thing old. Meet with him when and where you would, he was sure to be full of some new project, and the newest was invariably the best that ever entered the mind of man.
It was, however, a matter of no unfrequent occurrence for his opinion so completely to change its position and aspect, that, in less than six months, the project which had been exalted as the very best was degraded as the very worst. I will mention a few instances of his versatility.
'My dear sir,” he said to my uncle, “have you heard of this new plant, the mangel-wurzel ?”
“ Yes,” said my uncle, “I have heard it well spoken of, and intend to give it a trial. I have ordered a small piece of land to be parted off for the purpose. I was in company the other day with a practical agriculturist, who strongly recommends it for the use of cattle.”
“Oh, not for cattle merely. It is useful for ten thousand
and by far the most profitable crop that can be raised. I intend to devote the whole of my land to it; in fact, all hands are at this moment employed in getting it in ; and I should strongly recommend you to do the same. If all agriculturists were as sensible of its value as myself, there would be many thousands of acres immediately devoted to its growth."
Perhaps more than could well be spared from other purposes. I hope that in your zeal for mangel-wurzel, you modern farmers will not forget that wheat, barley, oats, and beans, also are useful.”
No fear of their being forgotten while your
self and old Dormer act as conservatives for the county of every thing that is old-fashioned. I have been arguing with Dormer these two hours and more, but he is as stubborn as a mule. He will not sow even an ounce of the seed on all his extensive grounds; and why? just because it is new.”
“I do not agree with my friend Dormer there ; though it is new, it may be good : that remains to be proved. Meanwhile I prefer, for the present year, trying the experiment on a small scale ; then, according as it turns out, I shall be able to form a judgment to what extent it may be desirable to cultivate it in future.”
“ Well, I am no half-and-half man; when I do take up a thing, I go into it with all my heart. Let me earnestly recommend you to devote at least a few acres to it. It is sure to answer. When you see the produce of your small piece of land, you will regret that you had not ten times as much." “ Then it will be
stock another year ; meanwhile, there are enough of you eager experimentalists to try the matter on a larger scale, and I most sincerely wish you all the success you anticipate.'
Well, Mr. Kennedy," said Mr. Dormer, some months afterwards, “how comes on your newfangled crop of mangel-wurzel? I suppose you clear a hundred per cent. more than by the old staple growth.” My uncle, who was present, observed that the subject did not appear particularly agreeable to Mr. Kennedy, and endeavoured to spare him the embarrassment of a reply, by saying that he had a little plot of the plant, and was much pleased with it. The produce was very satisfactory, and it appeared to answer the purposes for which