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women, as it will make in their state, notwithstanding all their professions of piety, which I hope are not insincere, they would carry discontent and envy even into heaven itself, if they could be admitted there."
There was a cousin of my uncle—and of course of my father also, only as she lived in my uncle's neighbourhood, and I only met her at his house, I seem to forget her relationship to my father. She had been left a widow in early life, with two sons and a daughter, and a very slender provision for their maintenance and education. By strict economy and good management, she maintained her station in society, kept up a respectable appearance,
her children a good education, without reducing her little principal. She was a truly estimable woman, highly respected by all who knew her, and, as was justly due, tenderly beloved by all her children. And yet even in that highly favoured and happy family a root of bitterness sprang up, which occasioned much anguish of mind to the tender parent, and threatened a painful alienation between the long united members of her family. It was a spirit of petty jealousy excited and fomented by those with whom the young people became connected. One son had been brought up to the medical profession; the course of his education, and the furnishing his library, had necessarily been expensive, and the devoted mother had strained every nerve to afford him the means of qualifying him to take a high standing in his profession. She had done her utmost, and, in justice to her other children, she could do no more, either by purchasing for him a practice, or furnishing a house. He was compelled
to work his way upwards, by remaining several. years as assistant, and then as junior partner to a gentleman in high practice : and, during that time, by frugality and self-denial, considerable to a young man, but bearing no comparison to what his mother had practised for the sake of her children, obtained the means of furnishing a house. He felt it tedious to continue so long in a subordinate sphere, and to wait for the fulfilment of his cherished visions of domestic bliss; and he was sometimes induced, ungenerously, to think, that his mother might do more to forward his views, and that if he had been the favoured child, she would have done so.
The daughter was about to be married to a young schoolmaster, who was just entering on his profession with encouraging prospects, but with little property. The mother drew largely on her resources for assisting the young couple in their outfit, which of course was expensive, as the establishment on which they entered was considerable. The other son was apprenticed to a trade, and at the end of his time the mother exerted herself almost beyond her power, in advancing a capital for setting him up in business.
Now my uncle had always been the friend and counsellor of this family ; and at one time he observed on the countenance of all, an unusual cast of depression and reserve. Happily for them he did so; for his friendly interference was the means of nipping the evil in its bud. He invited the confidence of
every member of the family, and found that each, by some sinister influence, had been taught to entertain an idea that the others enjoyed a larger share of the mother's favour and exertions.
In this instance there were good sense and good principle to work upon; and it was no difficult task to convince them, that if one had received an expensive education and library, another a distinct sum of money, and a third a valuable supply of household goods, they were all equally sharers in their mother's bounty, as they were in her tender affections; and the difference in the mode of her kindness was justly and kindly adapted to their several circumstances. Humbled and grieved on convicting themselves of having, even for a moment, admitted so unworthy a feeling, each discovered a willingness to take home the largest share of blame, and to acquit the rest. The fault was deplored before God, and forgiving mercy and hallowing influences sought in earnest prayer. The bond of union was happily cemented, the widowed mother eased of her cruel burden, and to the end of her days she was soothed by the delightful sight of a family dwelling in unity, or contending only which could do most to promote the comfort of her who had so completely laid herself out for their welfare.
But I must come to a close. The numerous unhappy instances of petty jealousy that press themselves on my recollection can barely be hinted at.—There was the village apothecary, jealous of his reputation. He had pronounced it utterly impossible that young farmer Round should recover from an illness—impossible, indeed, that he should survive the night. This opinion he had very confidently expressed to several persons, among the rest to Uncle Barnaby. My uncle had a great respect for the young man, and, desirous of knowing the state of his mind under these solemn
circumstances, resolved to pay him a visit. He was readily admitted, and had a pleasing conversation with the sick man ; but, though highly satisfied as to the primary object of his visit, he was not satisfied at being informed by the family, that the doctor had told them they might give him whatever they pleased, for that he could not live twenty-four hours. He suggested the propriety of calling in fürther advice. To this the apothecary somewhat reluctantly consented, still maintaining that the case was perfectly hopeless. It might be so; yet my uncle pleaded for the adoption of the measure, as a satisfaction to the family. He more than pleaded; he went himself and fetched an eminent physician from the county-town. This gentleman considered the case very alarming, yet suggested a somewhat different mode of treatment, at which the apothecary, a man of hasty temper, affected to sneer, as perfectly useless. The case remained for some days in a state of equipoise; the experienced physician discerning enough to stimulate hope and encourage exertion, yet not awakening expectations that, after all, might be disappointed. The apothecary meanwhile maintained that there was not a single indication of amendment, not a chance of recovery. My uncle remarked that the patient had already outlived his expectations, and reminded him of the old proverb, "While there is life there is hope.” The confident practitioner could not but admit that the man was alive, and said that some persons were endued with a peculiar tenacity of life ; but added, that recovery was as impossible as ever. “ With God all things are possible," replied my uncle. “ Yes, to be sure ; God can raise the dead; but that is nothing in the
present case. If ever this person recovers, the science of physic is not worth a single straw.” However, he did recover, and is alive to the present day, and ascribes his recovery, as do all his family and friends, under the blessing of God, to the skill and care of the physician. But the testy apothecary was offended with the man himself, and all his family, and the physician, and Uncle Barnaby, and every body that expressed pleasure in the unexpected recovery. “Did you ever,” said Uncle Barnaby, “see a more exact counterpart of the petulant prophet Jonah, who would rather have seen the destruction of Nineveh and all its inhabitants, than hazard his own professional reputation, though the God who sent him had taken the case into his own hands?” Jonah iv.
There was Miss Berkeley, the rich old maid, at Fairy Dale, who turned away her gardener, an honest, industrious man, with a large family, for a paltry bit of jealousy and pride about a flower. At that time, the numerous and beautiful varieties of geraniums, now so common, were altogether unknown. There was the horse-shoe leaf, the variegated leaf, the ivy-leaf, the oak-leaf, the Bath beauty, and the spice geraniums; and the gardener who could exhibit all these was reckoned skilful indeed. Miss Berkeley's gardener was among the first who obtained new varieties by raising seedlings. The pursuits of a parent generally give a tinge to those of his children ; and John Hill's children sought their amusement in raising flowers. From among a large box of seedlings, one produced a perfectly white blossom : this was reckoned a great curiosity, and a great prize. The boy, who was a scholar in my uncle's school, wished to make