The Ayrshire Legatees (Chapter 7, page 2 of 10)


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Chapter 7

LETTER XXI

The Rev. Z. Pringle, D.D., to Mr. Micklewham, Schoolmaster and
Session-Clerk, Garnock DEAR SIR--I have received your letter of the 24th, which has given me a
great surprise to hear, that Mr. Craig was married as far back as
Christmas, to his own servant lass Betty, and me to know nothing of it,
nor you neither, until it was time to be speaking to the midwife. To be
sure, Mr. Craig, who is an elder, and a very rigid man, in his
animadversions on the immoralities that come before the session, must
have had his own good reasons for keeping his marriage so long a secret.
Tell him, however, from me, that I wish both him and Mrs. Craig much joy
and felicity; but he should be milder for the future on the
thoughtlessness of youth and headstrong passions. Not that I insinuate
that there has been any occasion in the conduct of such a godly man to
cause a suspicion; but it's wonderful how he was married in December, and
I cannot say that I am altogether so proud to hear it as I am at all
times of the well-doing of my people. Really the way that Mr. Daff has
comported himself in this matter is greatly to his credit; and I doubt if
the thing had happened with him, that Mr. Craig would have sifted with a
sharp eye how he came to be married in December, and without bridal and
banquet. For my part, I could not have thought it of Mr. Craig, but it's
done now, and the less we say about it the better; so I think with Mr.
Daff, that it must be looked over; but when I return, I will speak both
to the husband and wife, and not without letting them have an inkling of
what I think about their being married in December, which was a great
shame, even if there was no sin in it. But I will say no more; for
truly, Mr. Micklewham, the longer we live in this world, and the farther
we go, and the better we know ourselves, the less reason have we to think
slightingly of our neighbours; but the more to convince our hearts and
understandings, that we are all prone to evil, and desperately wicked.
For where does hypocrisy not abound? and I have had my own experience
here, that what a man is to the world, and to his own heart, is a very
different thing.

In my last letter, I gave you a pleasing notification of the growth, as I
thought, of spirituality in this Babylon of deceitfulness, thinking that
you and my people would be gladdened with the tidings of the repute and
estimation in which your minister was held, and I have dealt largely in
the way of public charity. But I doubt that I have been governed by a
spirit of ostentation, and not with that lowly-mindedness, without which
all almsgiving is but a serving of the altars of Belzebub; for the
chastening hand has been laid upon me, but with the kindness and pity
which a tender father hath for his dear children.

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