The Complete English Tradesman Part 12

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_Wife_.--As good as you have broke; don't presume; no man in trade can say he won't break.

_Husb._--Yes, yes; I can say I won't break.

_Wife_.--I am glad to hear it; I hope you have a knack, then, beyond other tradesmen.

_Husb._--No, I have not neither; any man may say so as well as I; and no man need break, if he will act the part of an honest man.

_Wife_.--How is that, pray?

_Husb._--Why, give up all faithfully to his creditors, as soon as he finds there is a deficiency in his stock, and yet that there is enough left to pay them.

_Wife_.--Well, I don't understand those things, but I desire you would tell me what it is troubles you now; and if it be any thing of that kind, yet I think you should let me know it.

_Husb._--Why should I trouble you with it?

_Wife_.--It would be very unkind to let me know nothing till it comes and swallows you up and me too, all on a sudden; I must know it, then; pray tell it me now.

_Husb._--Why, then, I will tell you; indeed, I am not going to break, and I hope I am in no danger of it, at least not yet.

_Wife_.--I thank you, my dear, for that; but still, though it is some satisfaction to me to be a.s.sured of so much, yet I find there is something in it; and your way of speaking is ambiguous and doubtful. I entreat you, be plain and free with me. What is at the bottom of it?--why won't you tell me?--what have I done, that I am not to be trusted with a thing that so nearly concerns me?

_Husb._--I have told you, my dear; pray be easy; I am not going to break, I tell you.

_Wife_.--Well, but let us talk a little more seriously of it; you are not going to break, that is, not just now, not yet, you said; but, my dear, if it is then not just at hand, but may happen, or is in view at some distance, may not some steps be taken to prevent it for the present, and to save us from it at last too.

_Husb._--What steps could you think of, if that were the case?

_Wife_.--Indeed it is not much that is in a wife's power, but I am ready to do what lies in me, and what becomes me; and first, pray let us live lower. Do you think I would live as I do, if I thought your income would not bear it? No, indeed.

_Husb._--You have touched me in the most sensible part, my dear; you have found out what has been my grief; you need make no further inquiries.

_Wife_.--Was that your grief?--and would you never be so kind to your wife as to let her know it?

_Husb._--How could I mention so unkind a thing to you?

_Wife_.--Would it not have been more unkind to have let things run on to destruction, and left your wife to the reproach of the world, as having ruined you by her expensive living?

_Husb._--That's true, my dear; and it may be I might have spoke to you at last, but I could not do it now; it looks so cruel and so hard to lower your figure, and make you look little in the eyes of the world, for you know they judge all by outsides, that I could not bear it.

_Wife_.--It would be a great deal more cruel to let me run on, and be really an instrument to ruin, my husband, when, G.o.d knows, I thought I was within the compa.s.s of your gettings, and that a great way; and you know you always prompted me to go fine, to treat handsomely, to keep more servants, and every thing of that kind. Could I doubt but that you could afford it very well?

_Husb._--That's true, but I see it is otherwise now; and though I cannot help it, I could not mention it to you, nor, for ought I know, should I ever have done it.

_Wife_.--Why! you said just now you should have done it.

_Husb._--Ay, at last, perhaps, I might, when things had been past recovery.

_Wife_.--That is to say, when you were ruined and undone, and could not show your head, I should know it; or when a statute of bankrupt had come out, and the creditors had come and turned us out of doors, then I should have known it--that would have been a barbarous sort of kindness.

_Husb._--What could I do? I could not help it.

_Wife_.--Just so our old acquaintance G--W--did; his poor wife knew not one word of it, nor so much as suspected it, but thought him in as flouris.h.i.+ng circ.u.mstances as ever; till on a sudden he was arrested in an action for a great sum, so great that he could not find bail, and the next day an execution on another action was served in the house, and swept away the very bed from under her; and the poor lady, that brought him 3000 portion, was turned into the street with five small children to take care of.

_Husb._--Her case was very sad, indeed.

_Wife_.--But was not he a barbarous wretch to her, to let her know nothing of her circ.u.mstances? She was at the ball but the day before, in her velvet suit, and with her jewels on, and they reproach her with it every day.

_Husb._--She did go too fine, indeed.

_Wife_.--Do you think she would have done so, if she had known any thing of his circ.u.mstances?

_Husb._--It may be not.

_Wife_.--No, no; she is a lady of too much sense, to allow us to suggest it.

_Husb._--And why did he not let her have some notice of it?

_Wife_.--Why, he makes the same dull excuse you speak of; he could not bear to speak to her of it, and it looked so unkind to do any thing to straiten her, he could not do it, it would break his heart, and the like; and now he has broke her heart.

_Husb._--I know it is hard to break in upon one's wife in such a manner, where there is any true kindness and affection; but--

_Wife_.--But! but what? Were there really a true kindness and affection, as is the pretence, it would be quite otherwise; he would not break his own heart, forsooth, but chose rather to break his wife's heart! he could not be so cruel to tell her of it, and therefore left her to be cruelly and villanously insulted, as she was, by the bailiffs and creditors. Was that his kindness to her?

_Husb._--Well, my dear, I have not brought you to that, I hope.

_Wife_.--No, my dear, and I hope you will not; however, you shall not say I will not do every thing I can to prevent it; and, if it lies on my side, you are safe.

_Husb._--What will you do to prevent it? Come, let's see, what can you do?

_Wife_.--Why, first, I keep five maids, you see, and a footman; I shall immediately give three of my maids warning, and the fellow also, and save you that part of the expense.

_Husb._--How can you do that?--you can't do your business.

_Wife_.--Yes, yes, there's n.o.body knows what they can do till they are tried; two maids may do all my house-business, and I'll look after my children myself; and if I live to see them grown a little bigger, I'll make them help one another, and keep but one maid; I hope that will be one step towards helping it.

_Husb_.--And what will all your friends and acquaintance, and the world, say to it?

_Wife_.--Not half so much as they would to see you break, and the world believe it be by my high living, keeping a house full of servants, and do nothing myself.

_Husb_.--They will say I am going to break upon your doing thus, and that's the way to make it so.

_Wife_.--I had rather a hundred should say you were going to break, than one could say you were really broke already.

_Husb_.--But it is dangerous to have it talked of, I say.

_Wife_.--No, no; they will say we are taking effectual ways to prevent breaking.

_Husb_.--But it will put a slur upon yourself too. I cannot bear any mortifications upon you, any more than I can upon myself.

The Complete English Tradesman Part 12

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The Complete English Tradesman Part 12 summary

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