“We shall be the losers,” continued Sir Thomas. “His going, though only eight miles, will be an unwelcome contraction59 of our family circle; but I should have been deeply mortified60 if any son of mine could reconcile himself to doing less. It is perfectly natural that you should not have thought much on the subject, Mr. Crawford. But a parish has wants and claims which can be known only by a clergyman constantly resident, and which no proxy61 can be capable of satisfying to the same extent. Edmund might, in the common phrase, do the duty of Thornton, that is, he might read prayers and preach, without giving up Mansfield Park: he might ride over every Sunday, to a house nominally62 inhabited, and go through divine service; he might be the clergyman of Thornton Lacey every seventh day, for three or four hours, if that would content him. But it will not. He knows that human nature needs more lessons than a weekly sermon can convey; and that if he does not live among his parishioners, and prove himself, by constant attention, their well-wisher and friend, he does very little either for their good or his own.”
Mr. Crawford bowed his acquiescence.
“I repeat again,” added Sir Thomas, “that Thornton Lacey is the only house in the neighbourhood in which I should not be happy to wait on Mr. Crawford as occupier.”
Mr. Crawford bowed his thanks.
“Sir Thomas,” said Edmund, “undoubtedly63 understands the duty of a parish priest. We must hope his son may prove that he knows it too.”