BOOK II. OLD AND YOUNG.
17. CHAPTER XVII.
Mrs. Farebrother welcomed the guest with a lively formality
and precision. She presently informed him that they were not often
in want of medical aid in that house. She had brought up her
children to wear flannel and not to over-eat themselves, which last
habit she considered the chief reason why people needed doctors.
Lydgate pleaded for those whose fathers and mothers had over-eaten
themselves, but Mrs. Farebrother held that view of things dangerous:
Nature was more just than that; it would be easy for any felon
to say that his ancestors ought to have been hanged instead of him.
If those he had bad fathers and mothers were bad themselves, they were
hanged for that. There was no need to go back on what you couldn't see.
"My mother is like old George the Third," said the Vicar,
"she objects to metaphysics."
"I object to what is wrong, Camden. I say, keep hold of a
few plain truths, and make everything square with them. When I was young,
Mr. Lydgate, there never was any question about right and wrong.
We knew our catechism, and that was enough; we learned our creed and
our duty. Every respectable Church person had the same opinions.
But now, if you speak out of the Prayer-book itself, you are liable
to be contradicted."
"That makes rather a pleasant time of it for those who like
to maintain their own point," said Lydgate.
"But my mother always gives way," said the Vicar, slyly.
"No, no, Camden, you must not lead Mr. Lydgate into a mistake about
ME. I shall never show that disrespect to my parents, to give
up what they taught me. Any one may see what comes of turning.
If you change once, why not twenty times?"
"A man might see good arguments for changing once, and not see
them for changing again," said Lydgate, amused with the decisive
"Excuse me there. If you go upon arguments, they are never wanting,
when a man has no constancy of mind. My father never changed, and he
preached plain moral sermons without arguments, and was a good man--
few better. When you get me a good man made out of arguments,
I will get you a good dinner with reading you the cookery-book. That's
my opinion, and I think anybody's stomach will bear me out."