Imagens das páginas





ILL you visit the small village of Lavenham? It is in the county of Suffolk, sixty miles from London. In June 1786, a gentleman with his wife and two little girls, accompanied by trunks and bandboxes, stopped before a large house at one end of the village, a little off the highroad.

The lady wears a weary and depressed look. There is little eagerness or hope on her countenance as she catches the first glimpses of her new home; nor is there much in the street through which they pass to awaken interest or pleasure. It is called Spinners' Street, and is

lined with humble cottages, before which, outof-doors, mothers and daughters ply the wheel, while the father within works his lumbering loom. The whiz and hum of toil is heard from early morning till late at night, yet the labour of eighteen hours hardly suffices to keep hunger from the door; for business is dull, and growing duller. Machinery is beginning to compete with handcraft.

Carding and spinning mills are being built elsewhere; and wool is finding shorter cuts to market. What are Suffolk hands and wheels to do?


That is not our business to answer; but you see it does not look like London. strangers-Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Taylor--are from the metropolis, in quest of more comfort for their growing family than a small income can buy for them in London. The country had an inexpressible charm, as discussed amid city fog and smoke, which a long tedious journey over poor roads and in poorer conveyances had almost, if not quite, dispelled.

Mrs. Taylor's heart sunk. Besides, it had been hard to part with London friends. What had Lavenham to offer in their stead? She

was a woman of sense, however, and suppressed her disgust as well as she could, keeping her eye bravely on the advantages of a change. The house, large and commodious, had been rented for six instead of twenty pounds. Attached to it was a garden, with an arbour, walks, flowers, and fruit; pure air, clear skies, and an abundance of sunshine, completed the desirableness of the new location. Mr. Taylor was bred an engraver. father was an engraver; his brother too. The taste ran in the family-a family of large intelligence, great excellences, and untiring industry; and since his work could be done as well away from London, family interests could be best secured by making a home elsewhere. Independency

They were Independents.


had more than its usual burden of odium at this time. The French Revolution was beginning to convulse the world, and the fair show it was then making in behalf of freedom enlisted many true men on its side. England was alive with discussion. Liberal opinions were expressed in sharp and earnest words, and national renovation was reckoned among

the speedy possibilities of the times. Nonconformity, supposed to be as independent in civil as in ecclesiastical matters, had often to bear injurious suspicions from Tory neighbours and good churchmen.

Mr. Taylor had liberal leanings; his wife was more conservative; but both were too wise and busy to make politics a root of offence unto themselves and others.

In the earlier years of their married life, Mrs. Taylor had given herself with anxious assiduity to family cares. The accomplishments of her maidenhood were laid aside; books were rarely opened; the cultivation of her mind was neglected; and those intellectual tastes which had delighted the lover, were lost to the husband in an absorbing monopoly of domestic duties. An old friend saw the danger.

"Your husband," she said, "may indeed have a housekeeper and a nurse, but I am sure he has no companion; it will be well if in time he does not grow tired of you. The affections of a man of taste cannot fix permanently on a mere plod, and you are certainly nothing better."

Hard but wholesome reproof. A plod! Mrs. Taylor saw it all at a glance. She already felt herself slipping out of sympathy with her husband's pursuits: she retrograding, he going on; of course the distance must widen, and she become less and less capable of a true wife's place.

At breakfast and tea time a book had come with him to table; reading had taken the place of conversation, and social enjoyment was more rarely one of the pleasures of the board.

What could she do? Where was the time? How could she command any for reading and self-improvement? But one servant; the children to take care of; so much to do requiring head and hands incessantly. A bright thought shot through the busy brain.

"I will propose to read aloud at breakfast and tea," she said.

The proposal was made, cordially accepted, and immediately adopted; and it—the habit of reading aloud at meals and in the evening became a cherished family institution. Did it work well?

« AnteriorContinuar »