THE next morning as soon as I awoke I found my eldest son sitting by m_edside, who came to increase my joy with another turn of fortune in my favor.
First having released me from the settlement that I had made the day before i_is favor, he let me know that my merchant who had failed in town was arreste_t Antwerp, and there had given up effects to a much greater amount than wha_as due to his creditors. My boy's generosity pleased me almost as much a_his unlooked-for good fortune. But I had some doubts whether I ought i_ustice to accept his offer. While I was pondering upon this, Sir Willia_ntered the room, to whom I communicated my doubts. His opinion was that as m_on was already possessed of a very affluent fortune by his marriage, I migh_ccept his offer without any hesitation. His business, however, was to infor_e that, as he had the night before sent for the licenses, and expected the_very hour, he hoped that I would not refuse my assistance in making all th_ompany happy that morning. A footman entered while we were speaking, to tel_s that the messenger was returned, and as I was by this time ready I wen_own, where I found the whole company as merry as affluence and innocenc_ould make them. However, as they were now preparing for a very solem_eremony, their laughter entirely displeased me. I told them of the grave,
becoming and sublime deportment they should assume upon this mystica_ccasion, and read them two homilies and a thesis of my own composing, i_rder to prepare them. Yet they still seemed perfectly refractory an_ngovernable. Even as we were going along to church, to which I led the way,
all gravity had quite forsaken them, and I was often tempted to turn back i_ndignation. In church a new dilemma arose, which promised no easy solution.
This was, which couple should be married first. My son's bride warmly insiste_hat Lady Thornhill (that was to be) should take the lead; but this the othe_efused with equal ardor, protesting she would not be guilty of such rudenes_or the world. The argument was supported for some time between both wit_qual obstinacy and good-breeding. But as I stood all this time with my boo_eady, I was at last quite tired of the contest, and shutting it, "_erceive," cried I, "that none of you have a mind to be married, and I thin_e had as good go back again; for I suppose there will be no business don_ere today." This at once reduced them to reason. The baronet and his lad_ere first married, and then my son and his lovely partner.
I had previously that morning given orders that a coach should be sent for m_onest neighbor Flamborough and his family, by which means, upon our return t_he inn, we had the pleasure of finding the two Miss Flamboroughs alighte_efore us. Mr. Jenkinson gave his hand to the eldest, and my son Moses led u_he other (and I have since found that he has taken a real liking to the girl,
and my consent and bounty he shall have, whenever he thinks proper to deman_hem). We were no sooner returned to the inn, but numbers of my parishioners,
hearing of my success, came to congratulate me, but among the rest were thos_ho rose to rescue me, and whom I formerly rebuked with such sharpness. I tol_he story to Sir William, my son-in-law, who went out and reproved them wit_reat severity; but finding them quite disheartened by his harsh reproof, h_ave them half-a-guinea a-piece to drink his health and raise their dejecte_pirits.
Soon after this we were called to a very genteel entertainment, which wa_ressed by Mr. Thornhill's cook. And it may not be improper to observe wit_espect to that gentleman, that he now resides in quality of companion at _elation's house, being very well liked, and seldom sitting at the side-tabl_xcept when there is no room at the other; for they make no stranger of him.
His time is pretty much taken up in keeping his relation, who is a littl_elancholy, in spirits, and in learning to blow the French horn. My eldes_aughter, however, still remembers him with regret; and she has even told me,
though I make a great secret of it, that when he reforms she may be brought t_elent.
But to return, for I am not apt to digress thus, when we were to sit down t_inner, our ceremonies were going to be renewed. The question was, whether m_ldest daughter, as being a matron, should not sit above the two young brides;
but the debate was cut short by my son George, who proposed that the compan_hould sit indiscriminately, every gentleman by his lady. This was receive_ith great approbation by all, excepting my wife, who, I could perceive, wa_ot perfectly satisfied, as she expected to have had the pleasure of sittin_t the head of the table and carving all the meat for all the company. Bu_otwithstanding this, it is impossible to describe our good humor. I can't sa_hether we had more wit among us than usual; but I am certain we had mor_aughing, which answered the end as well. One jest I particularly remember:
old Mr. Wilmot drinking to Moses, whose head was turned another way, my so_eplied: "Madam, I thank you." Upon which the old gentleman, winking upon th_est of the company, observed that he was thinking of his mistress. At whic_est I thought the two Miss Flamboroughs would have died with laughing. A_oon as dinner was over, according to my old custom, I requested that th_able might be taken away, to have the pleasure of seeing all my famil_ssembled once more by a cheerful fireside. My two little ones sat upon eac_nee, the company by their partners. I had nothing, now on this side of th_rave to wish for; all my cares were over; my pleasure was unspeakable. It no_nly remained that my gratitude in good fortune should exceed my forme_ubmission in adversity.