Front Page Titles (by Subject) BRIERY CREEK. - Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 8
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BRIERY CREEK. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 8 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1834). Vol. 8.
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THE PHILOSOPHER AT HOME.
The Sun,—the bright sun of May in the western world,—was going down on the village of Briery Creek, and there was scarcely a soul left within its bounds to observe how the shadows lengthened on the prairie, except Dr. Sneyd; and Dr. Sneyd was too busy to do justice to the spectacle. It was very long since letters and newspapers had been received from England; the rains had interfered with the post; and nothing had been heard at the settlement for a month of what the minister was planning in London, and what the populace was doing in Paris. Dr. Sneyd had learned, in this time, much that was taking place among the worlds overhead; and he now began to be very impatient for tidings respecting the Old World, on which he had been compelled to turn his back, at the moment when its political circumstances began to be the most interesting to him. There had been glimpses of starlight in the intervals of the shifting spring storms, and he had betaken himself, not in vain, to his observatory; but no messenger, with precious leathern bag, had appeared on the partial cessation of the rains to open, beyond the clouds of the political hemisphere, views of the silent rise or sure progress of bright moral truths behind the veil of prejudice and passion which was for a season obscuring their lustre. Day after day had anxious eyes been fixed on the ford of the creek; night after night had the doctor risen, and looked abroad in starlight and in gloom, when the dogs were restless in the court, or a fancied horse-tread was heard in the grassy road before the house.
This evening Dr. Sneyd was taking resolution to file the last newspapers he had received, and to endorse and put away the letters which, having been read till not an atom more of meaning could be extracted from them, might now be kept in some place where they would be safer from friction than in a philosopher's pocket. The filing the newspapers was done with his usual method and alacrity, but his hand shook while endorsing the last of his letters; and he slowly opened the sheet, to look once more at the signature,—not from sentiment, and because it was the signature (for Dr. Sneyd was not a man of sentiment),— but in order to observe once again whether there had been any such tremulousness in the hand that wrote it as might affect the chance of the two old friends meeting again in this world: the chance which he was unwilling to believe so slight as it appeared to Mrs. Sneyd, and his son Arthur, and every body else. Nothing more was discoverable from the writing, and the key was resolutely turned upon the letter. The next glance fell upon the materials of a valuable tele scope, which lay along one side of the room, useless till some glasses should arrive to replace those which had been broken during the rough journey to this remote settlement. Piece by piece was handled, fitted, and laid down again. Then a smile passed over the philosopher's countenance as his eye settled on the filmy orb of the moon, already showing itself, though the sun had not yet touched the western verge of the prairie. It was something to have the same moon to look at through the same telescopes as when he was not alone in science, in the depths of a strange continent. The face of the land had changed; he had become but too well acquainted with the sea; a part of the heavens themselves had passed away, and new worlds of light come before him in their stead; but the same sun shone in at the south window of his study; the same moon waxed and waned above his observatory; and he was eager to be once more recognising her vol-canoes and plains through the instrument which he had succeeded in perfecting for use. This reminded him to note down in their proper places the results of his last observations; and in a single minute, no symptom remained of Dr. Sneyd having old friends whom he longed to see on the other side of the world; or of his having suffered from the deferred hope of tidings; or of his feeling impatient about his large telescope; or of any thing but his being engrossed in his occupation.
Yet he heard the first gentle tap at the south window, and, looking over his spectacles at the little boy who stood outside, found time to bid him come in and wait for liberty to talk. The doctor went on writing, the smile still on his face. and Temmy,—in other words, Temple Temple, heir of Temple Lodge,—crept in at the window, and stole quietly about the room to amuse himself, till his grandfather should be at liberty to attend to him. While the pen scratched the paper, and ceased, and scratched again, Temmy walked along the bookshelves, and peeped into the cylinder of the great telescope, and cast a frightened look behind him on having the misfortune to jingle some glasses, and then slid into the low arm-chair to study for the hundredth time the prints that hung opposite,—the venerable portraits of his grandfather's two most intimate friends. Temmy had learned to look on these wise men of another hemisphere with much of the same respect as on the philosophers of a former age. His grandfather appeared to him incalculably old, and unfathomably wise; and it was his grandfather's own assurance that these two philosophers were older and wiser still. When to this was added the breadth of land and sea across which they dwelt, it was no wonder that, in the eyes of the boy, they had the sanctity of the long-buried dead.
“Where is your grandmamma, Temmy?” asked Dr. Sneyd, at length, putting away his papers. “Do you know whether she is coming to take a walk with me?”
“I cannot find her,” said the boy. “I went all round the garden, and through the orchard—”
“And into the poultry yard?”
“Yes; and every where else. All the doors are open, and the place quite empty. There is nobody at home here, nor in all the village, except at our house.”
“All gone to the squirrel-hunt; or rather to meet the hunters, for the sport must be over by this time; but your grandmamma does not hunt squirrels. We must turn out and find her. I dare say she is gone to the Creek to look for the postman.”
Temmy hoped that all the squirrels were not to be shot. Though there had been far too many lately, he should be sorry if they were all to disappear.
“You will have your own two, in their pretty cage, at any rate, Temmy.”
Temmy's tearful eyes, twisted fingers, and scarlet colour, said the “no” tie could not speak at the moment. Grandpapa liked to get at the bottom of every thing; and he soon discovered that the boy's father had, for some reason unknown, ordered that no more squirrels should be seen in his house, and that the necks of Temmy's favourites should be wrung. Temmy had no other favourites instead. He did not like to begin with any new ones without knowing whether he might keep them; and he had not yet asked his papa what he might be permitted to have.
“We must all have patience, Temmy, about our favourites. I have had a great disappointment about one of mine.”
Temmy brushed away his tears to hear what favourites grandpapa could have. Neither cat, nor squirrel, nor bird had ever met his eye in this house; and the dogs in the court were for use, not play.
Dr. Sneyd pointed to his large telescope, and said that the cylinder, without the lenses, was to him no more than a cage without squirrels would be to Temmy.
“But you will have the glasses by and by, grandpapa, and I——”
“Yes; I hope to have them many months hence, when the snow is thick on the ground, and the sleigh can bring me my packages of glass without breaking them, as the last were broken that came over the log road. But all this time the stars are moving over our heads; and in these fine spring evenings I should like very much to be finding out many things that I must remain ignorant of till next year; and I cannot spare a whole year now so well as when I was younger.”
“Cannot you do something while you are waiting?” was Temmy's question. His uncle Arthur would have been as much diverted at it as Dr Sneyd himself was; for the fact was, Dr. Sneyd had always twice as much planned to be done as any body thought he could get through. Temmy did not know what a large book he was writing, nor how much might be learned by means of the inferior instruments; nor what a number of books the philosopher was to read through, nor how large a correspondence was to be carried on, before the snow could be on the ground again.
“Now let us walk to the creek” was a joyful sound to the boy, who made haste to find the doctor's large straw hat. When the philosopher had put it on, over his thin grey hair, he turned towards one of his many curious mirrors, and laughed at his own image.
“Temmy,” said he, “do you remember me before I wore this large hat? Do you remember my great wig?”
“O yes, and the black, three-cornered hat. I could not think who you were the first day I met you without that wig. But I think I never saw any body else with such a wig.”
“And in England they would not know what to make of me without it. I was just thinking how Dr. Rogers would look at me, if he could see me now, he would call me quite an American,—very like a republican.”
“Are you an American? Are you a republican?”
“I was a republican in England, and in France, and wherever I have been, as much as I am now. As to being an American, I suppose I must call myself one; but I love England very dearly, Temmy. I had rather live there than any where, if it were but safe for me; but we can make ourselves happy here. Whatever happens, we always find afterwards, or shall find when we are wiser, is for our good. Some people at home have made a great mistake about me; but all mistakes will be cleared up some time or other, my dear: and in the mean while, we must not be angry with one another, though we cannot help being sorry for what has happened.”
“I think uncle Arthur is very angry indeed. He said one day that he would never live among those people in England again.”
“I dare say there will be no reason for his living there; but he has promised me to forgive them for misunderstanding and disliking me. And you must promise me the same thing when you grow old enough to see what such a promise means.—Come here, my dear. Stand just where I do, and look up under the eaves. Do you see anything?”
“O, I see a little bird moving!”
Temmy could not tell what bird it was. He was a rather dull child—usually called uncommonly stupid—as indeed he too often appeared. Whither his wits strayed from the midst of the active little world in which he lived, where the wits of everybody else were lively enough, no one could tell—if, indeed, he had any wits. His father thought it impossible that Temple Temple, heir of Temple Lodge and its fifty thousand acres, should not grow up a very important personage. Mrs. Temple had an inward persuasion that no one understood the boy but herself. Dr. Sneyd did not profess so to understand children as to be able to compare Temmy with others, but thought him a good little fellow, and had no doubt he would do very well. Mrs. Sneyd's. hopes and fears on the boy's account varied, while her tender pity was unremitting: and uncle Arthur was full of indignation at Temple for cowing the child's spirit, and thus blunting his intellect. To all other observers it was but too evident that Temmy did not know a martin from a crow, or a sycamore from a thorn.
“That bird is a martin, come to build under our eaves, my dear. If we were to put up a box, I dare say the bird would begin to build in it directly.”
Tommy was for putting up a box, and his grandpapa for furnishing him with favourites which should be out of sight and reach of Mr. Temple. In two minutes, therefore, the philosopher was mounted on a high stool, whence he could reach the low eaves; and Temmy was vibrating on uptoe, holding up at arms' length that which, being emptied of certain mysterious curiosities, (which might belong either to grandpapa's apparatus of science, or grandmamma's of house-wifery.) was now destined to hold the winged curiosities which were flitting round during the operation undertaken on their behalf.
Before descending, the doctor looked about him, on the strange sight of a thriving uninhabited village. Everybody seemed to be out after the squirrel hunters. When, indeed, the higher ground near the Creek was attained, Dr. Sneyd perceived that Mr. Temple's family was at home. On the terrace was the gentleman himself, walking backwards and forwards in his usual after-dinner state, His lady (Dr. Sneyd's only daughter) was stooping among her flowers, while Ephraim, the black boy, was at tending at her heels, and the figures of other servants popped into sight and away again, as they were summoned and dismissed by their master. The tavern, kept by the surgeon of the place, stood empty, if it might be judged by its open doors, where no one went in and out. Dods was not to be seen in the brick-ground; which was a wonder, as Dods was a hard-working man, and his task of making bricks for Mr. Temple's grand alterations had been so much retarded by the late rains that it was expected of Dods that he would lose not a day nor an hour while the weather continued fair. Mrs. Dods was not at work under her porch, as usual, at this hour; nor was the young lawyer, Mr. Johnson, flitting from fence to fence of the cottages on the prairie, to gather up and convey the news of what had befallen since morning. About the rude dwelling within the verge of the forest, there was the usual fluttering of fowls and yelping of dogs; but neither was the half-savage woodsman (only known by the name of Brawn) to be seen loitering about with his axe, nor were his equally uncivilized daughters (the Brawnees) at their sugar troughs under the long row of maples. The Indian corn seemed to have chosen its own place for springing, and to be growing untended; so rude were the fences which surrounded it, and so rank was the prairie grass which struggled with it for possession of the furrows. The expanse of the prairie was undiversified with a single living thing. A solitary tree, or a cluster of bushes here and there, was all that broke the uniformity of the grassy surface, as far as the horizon, where the black forest rose in an even line, and seemed to seclude the region within its embrace. There was not such an absence of sound as of motion. The waters of the Creek, to which Dr. Sneyd and Tommy were proceeding, dashed along, swollen by the late rains, and the flutter and splash of wild fowl were heard from their place of assemblage,—the riffle of the Creek, or the shallows formed by the unevenness of its rocky bottom. There were few bird-notes heard in the forest; but the horses of the settlement were wandering there, with bells about their necks. The breezes could find no entrance into the deep recesses of the woods; but they whispered in their play among the wild vines that hung from a height of fifty feet. There was a stir also among the rhododendrons, thickets of which were left to flourish on the borders of the wood; and with their rustle in the evening wind were mingled the chirping, humming, and buzzing of an indistinguishable variety of insects on the wing and among the grass.
“I see grandmamma coming out of Dods's porch,” cried Temmy. “What has she been there for, all alone?”
“I believe she has been the round of the cottages, feeding the pigs and fowls, because the neighbours are away. This is like your grandmamma, and it explains her being absent so long. You see what haste she is making towards us. Now tell me whether you hear anything on the other side of the Creek.”
Temmy heard something, but he could not say what,—whether winds, or waters, or horses, or in-sects, or all these. Dr. Sneyd thought he heard cart wheels approaching along the smooth natural road which led out of the forest upon the prairie. The light, firm soil of this kind of road was so favourable for carriages, that they did not give the rumbling and creaking notice of their approach which is common on the log road which intersects a marsh. The post messenger was the uppermost person in Dr. Sneyd's thoughts just now, whether waggon wheels or horse tread greeted his ear. He was partly right and partly wrong in his present conjectures. A waggon appeared from among the trees, but it contained nobody whom he could expect to be the bearer of letters;—nobody but Arthur's assistant Isaac, accompained by Mr. Temple's black man Julian, bringing home a stock of groceries and other comforts from a distant store, to which they had been sent to make purchases.
The vehicle came to a halt on the opposite ridge; and no wonder, for it was not easy to see how it was to make further progress. The Creek was very fine to look at in its present state; but it was anything but tempting to travellers. The water, which usually ran clear and shallow, when there was more than enough to fill the deep holes in its bed, now brought mud from its source, and bore on its troubled surface large branches, and even trunks of trees. It was so much swollen from the late rains that its depth was not easily ascertainable; but many a brier which had lately overhung its course from the bank was now swaying in its current, and looking lost in a new element. Isaac and Julian by turns descended the bank to the edge of the water, but could not learn thereby whether or not it was fordable. Their next proceeding was to empty the cart, and drive into the flood by way of experiment.— The water only half filled the vehicle, and the horse kept his footing admirably, so that it was only to drive back again, and to bring the goods, —some on the dry seat of the waggon, and some on the backs of Isaac and Julian, as the one drove, and the other took care of the packages within. Two trips, it was thought, would suffice to bring over the whole, high and dry.
“What are you all about here?” asked Mrs. Sneyd, who had come up unobserved while her husband and grandchild were absorbed in watching the passage of the Creek. “The goods arriving! Bless me! I hope they will get over safely. It would be too provoking if poor Arthur should lose his first batch of luxuries. He has lived so long on Indian corn bread, and hominy, and wild turkeys, and milk, that it is time he should be enjoying his meal of wheaten bread and tea.”
“And the cloth for his new coat is there, grandmamma.”
“Yes; and plenty of spice and other good things for your papa. I do not know what he will say if they are washed away; but I care much more for your coffee, my dear,” continued she, turning to the doctor. “I am afraid your observations and authorship will suffer for want of your coffee. Do try and make Isaac hear that he is to take particular care of the coffee.”
“Not I, my dear,” replied Dr. Sneyd, laughing. “I would advocate Arthur's affairs, if any. But the men seem to be taking all possible care. I should advise their leaving the goods and cart together on the other side, but that I rather think there will be more rain before morning, so as to make matters worse to-morrow, besides the risk of a soaking during the might. Here they come! Now for it! How they dash down the bank! There! They will upset the cart if they do not take care.”
“That great floating tree will upset them. What a pity they did not see it in time! There! I thought so.”
The mischief was done. The trunk, with a new rush of water, was too much for the light waggon. It turned over on its side, precipitating driver, Julian, and all the packages into the muddy stream. The horse scrambled and struggled till Isaac could regain his footing, and set the animal free, while Julian was dashing the water from his face, and snatching at one package after another as they eddied round him, preparatory to being carried down the Creek.
Dr. Sneyd caught the frightened horse, as he scampered up the briery bank. Mrs. Sneyd shouted a variety of directions which would have been excellent, if they could have been heard; while Temmy stood looking stupid.
“Call help, my dear boy,” said Dr. Sneyd.
“Where? I do not know where to go”
“Do you hear the popping of guns in the wood? Some of the hunters are coming back. Go and call them.”
“Where? I do not know which way.”
“In the direction of the guns, my dear. In that quarter, near the large hickory. I think you will find them there.”
Temmy did not know a hickory by sight; but he could see which way Dr. Sneyd's finger pointed; and he soon succeeded in finding the party, and bringing them to the spot.
“Arthur, I am very sorry,” said the doctor, on seeing his son come running to view the disaster. “Mortal accidents, my dear son! We must make up our minds to them.”
“Yes, father, when they are purely accidents: but this is carelessness,—most provoking carelessness.”
“Indeed, the men did make trial of what they were about,” said the doctor.
“The great tree came down so very fast!” added Temmy.
“Yes, yes. I am not blaming Isaac. It was my carelessness in not throwing a bridge over the Creek long ago. Never mind that now! Let us save what we can.”
It was a sorry rescue. The cart was broken, but it could be easily mended. The much-longed-for wheaten flour appeared in the shape of a sack of soiled pulp, which no one would think of swallowing. The coffee might be dried. The tea was not altogether past hope. Sugar, salt, and starch, were melted into one mass. Mr. Temple's spices were supposed to be by this time perfuming the stream two miles below; his wax candles were battered, so that they could, at best, be used only as short ends; and the oil for his hall lamps was diffusing a calm over the surface of the stream. Mrs. Sneyd asked her husband whether some analogous appliance could not be found for the proprietor's ruffled temper, when he should hear of the disaster.
The news could not be long in reaching him, for the other party of squirrel-hunters, bringing with them all the remaining women and children of the village, appeared from the forest, and the tidings spread from mouth to mouth. As soon as Temmy saw that Uncle Arthur was standing still, and looking round him for a moment, he put one of his mistimed questions, at the end of divers remarks.
“How many squirrels have you killed, uncle? I do not think you can have killed any at all; we saw so many as we came up here! Some were running along your snake fence, uncle; and grandpapa says they were not of the same kind as those that run up the trees. But we saw a great many run up the trees, too. I dare say, half a dozen or a dozen. How many have you killed, uncle?”
“Forty-one. The children there will tell you all about it.”
“Forty-one! And how many did David kill? And your whole party, uncle?”
Arthur gave the boy a gentle push towards the sacks of dead squirrels, and Temmy, having no notion why or how he had been troublesome, amused himself with pitying the slaughtered animals, and stroking his cheeks with the brushes of more than a hundred of them. He might have gone on to the whole number bagged,—two hundred and ninety-three,—if his attention had not been called off by the sudden silence which preceded a speech from uncle Arthur.
“Neighbours,” said Arthur, “I take the blame of this mischance upon myself. I will not say that some of you might not have reminded me to bridge the Creek. before I spent my time and money on luxuries that we could have waited for a while longer; but the chief carelessness was mine, I freely own. It seems a strange time to choose for asking a favour of you—”
He was interrupted by many a protestation that his neighbours were ready to help to bridge the Creek; that it was the interest of all that the work should be done, and not a favour to himself alone. He went on:—
“I was going to say that when it happens to you, as now to me, that you wish to exchange the corn that you grow for something that our prairies do not produce, you will feel the want of such a bridge as much as I do now; though I hope through a less disagreeable experience. In self-defence, I must tell you, however, how little able I have been till lately to provide any but the barest necessaries for myself and my men. This will show you that I cannot now pay you for the work you propose to do,”
He was interrupted by assurances that nobody wanted to be paid; that they would have a bridging frolic, as they had before had a raising frolic to build the surgeon's tavern, and a rolling frolic to clear Brawn's patch of ground, and as they meant to have a reaping frolic when the corn should be ripe. It should be a pic-nic. Nobody supposed that Arthur had yet meat, bread, and whisky to spare.
“I own that I have not,” said he. “You know that when I began to till my ground, I had no more capital than was barely sufficient to fence and break up my fields, and feed me and my two labourers while my first crop was growing. Just before it ripened, I had nothing left; but what I had spent was well spent. It proved a productive consumption indeed; for my harvest brought back all I had spent, with increase. This increase was not idly consumed by me. I began to pay attention to my cattle, improved my farm buildings, set up a kiln, and employed a labourer in making bricks. The fruits of my harvest were thus all consumed; but they were again restored with increase. Then I thought I might begin to indulge myself with the enjoyment for which I had toiled so long and so bard. I did not labour merely to have so much corn in my barns, but to enjoy the corn, and whatever else it would bring me,—as we all do,—producing, distributing, and exchanging, that we may afterwards enjoy.”
“Not quite all, Mr. Arthur,” said Johnson, the lawyer. “There is you brother-in-law, Mr. Temple, who seems disposed to enjoy everything, without so much as soiling his fingers with gathering a peach. And there is a certain friend of ours, settled farther east, who toils like a horse, and lives like a beggar, that he may hoard a roomful of dollars.”
“Temple produces by means of the hoarded industry of his fathers,—by means of his capital,” replied Arthur. “And the miser you speak of enjoys his dollars, I suppose, or he would change them away for something else. Well, friends, there is little temptation for us to hoard up our wealth. We have corn instead of dollars, and corn will not keep like dollars.”
“Why should it?” asked Dods the brickmaker. “Who would take the trouble to raise more corn than he wants to eat, if he did not hope to exchange it for something desirable?”
“Very true. Then comes the question, what a man shall choose in exchange. I began pretty well. I laid out some of my surplus in providing for a still greater next year; which, in my circumstances, was my first duty. Then I began to look to the end for which I was working; and I reached forward to it a little too soon. I should have roasted my corn ears and drank milk a little longer, and expended my surplus on a bridge, before I thought of wheaten flour and tea and coffee.”
“Three months hence,” said somebody, “you will be no worse off (except for the corn ears and milk you must consume instead of flour and tea) than if you had had your wish. Your flour and tea would have been clean gone by that time, without any return.”
“You grant that I must go without the pleasure,” said Arthur, smiling. “Never mind that. But you will. not persuade me that it is not a clear loss to have flour spoiled, and sugar and salt melted together in the creek; unless, indeed, they go to fatten the fish in the holes. Besides, there is the mortification of feeling that your toil in making this bridge might have been paid with that which is lost in the purchase of luxuries which none will enjoy.”
Being vehemently exhorted to let this consideration give him no concern, he concluded,
“I will take your advice, thank you. I will not trouble myself or you more about this loss; and I enlarge upon it now only because it may be useful to us as a lesson how to use the fruits of our labour. I have been one of the foremost to laugh at our neighbours in the next settlement for having,—not their useful frolics, like ours of to-morrow,—but their shooting-matches and games in the wood, when the water was so bad that it was a grievance to have to drink it. I was as ready as any one to see that the labour spent, on these pastimes could not be properly afforded, if there were really no hands to spare to dig wells. And now, instead of asking them when they mean to have their welling frolic, our wisest way will be to get our bridge up before there is time for our neighbours to make a laughing-stock of us. When that is done, I shall be far from satisfied. I shall still feel that it is owing to me that my father goes without his coffee, while he is watching it, rough the night when we common men are asleep.
“That is as much Temple's concern as the young man's,” observed the neighbours one to another. “Freely as he flings his money about, one would think Temple might see that the doctor was at least at well supplied with luxuries as himself.” “Why the young man should be left to toil and make capital so painfully and slowly, when Temple squanders so much, is a mystery to every body.” “A quarter of what Temple has spent in making and unmaking his garden would have enabled Arthur Sneyd's new field to produce double, or have improved his team: and Temple himself would have been all the better for the interest it would have yielded, instead of his money bringing no return. But Temple is not the man to lend a helping hand to a young farmer,—be he his brother-in-law or a mere stranger.”
Such were the remarks which Arthur was not supposed to hear, and to which he did not therefore consider himself called upon to reply. Seeing his father and mother in eager consultation with the still dripping Isaac, he speedily completed the arrangements for the next day's meeting, toils, and pleasures, and joined the group. Isaac had but just recollected that in his pocket he brought a packet of letters and several newspapers, which had found their way, in some circuitous manner, to the store where he had bean trafficking. The whole were deplorably soaked with mud. It seemed doubtful whether a line of the writing could ever be made out. But Mrs. Sneyd's cleverness had been proved equal to emergencies nearly as great as this. She had once got rid of the stains of a stand full of ink which had been overset on a parchment which bore a ten-guinea stamp. She had recovered the whole to perfect smoothness, and fitness to be written upon. Many a time had she contrived to restore the writing which had been discharged from her father's manuscript chemical lectures, when spillings from his experiments had occurred scarcely half an hour before the lecture-room began to fill. No wonder her husband was now willing to confide in her skill—no wonder he was anxious to see Temmy home as speedily as possible, that he might watch the processes of dipping and drying and unfolding, on which depended almost the dearest of his enjoyments,—intercourse with faithful friends far away.
THE GENTLEMAN AT HOME.
Master Temple Temple was up early, and watching the weather, the next morning, with far more eagerness than his father would have approved, unless some of his own gentlemanlike pleasures had been in question. If Mr. Temple bad known that his son and heir cared for the convenience of his industrious uncle Arthur, and of a parcel of labourers, the boy would hardly have escaped a long lecture on the depravity of his tastes, and the vulgarity of his sympathies. But Mr. Temple knew nothing that passed prior to his own majestic descent to the breakfast-room, where the silver coffee-pot was steaming fragrantly, and the windows were carefully opened or scrupulously shut, so as to temper the visitations of the outward air, while his lady sat awaiting his mood, and trembling lest he should find nothing that he could eat among the variety of forms of diet into which the few elements at the command of her cook had been combined. Mrs. Temple had never been very happy while within reach of markets and shops; but she was now often tempted to believe that almost all her troubles would be at an end if she had but the means of indulging her husband's fastidious appetite. It was a real misery to be for ever inventing, and for ever in vain, new cookeries of Indian corn, beef, lean pork, geese and turkeys, honey and milk. Beyond these materials, she had nothing to depend upon but chance arrivals of flour, pickles, and groceries; and awfully passed the day when there was any disappointment at breakfast. She would willingly have surrendered She conservatory, her splendid ornaments, the pictures, plate, and even the library, of her house, and the many thousand acres belonging to it, to give to her husband such an unscrupulous appetite as Arthur's, or such a cheerful temper as Dr. Sneyd's. It was hard that her husband's ill-humour about his privations should fall upon her; for she was not the one who did the deed, whatever it might be, which drove the gentleman from English society. The sacrifice was quite as great to her as it could possibly be to him; and there was inexpressible meanness in Temple's aggravating, by complaints of his own share, the suffering which he had himself brought upon her. Temple seemed always to think himself a great man, however; and always greatest when causing the utmost sensation in those about him.
This morning, he stalked into the breakfast room in remarkable state. He looked almost as tall as his wife when about to speak to her, and was as valiant in his threats against the people who disturbed him by passing before ins window, as his son in planning his next encounter with Brawn's great turkey.
“Come away from the window, this moment, Temple. I desire you will never stand there when the people are flocking past in this manner. Nothing gratifies them more. They blow those infernal horns for no other purpose than to draw our attention. Ring the bell, Temple.”
When Marius appeared, in answer to the bell, he was ordered to pull down that blind; and if the people did not go away directly, to bid them begone, and blow their horns somewhere out of his hearing.
“They will be gone soon enough, sir. It is a busy day with them. They are making a frolic to bridge the Creek, because of what happened—”
A terrified glance of Mrs. Temple's stopped the man in his reference to what had taken place the evening before. It was hoped that the stock of coffee might be husbanded till more could arrive, that the idea of chocolate might be insinuated into the gentleman's mind, and that the shortness of the wax candles, and the deficiency of light in the hall at night, might possibly escape observation.
“The bridge over the Creek being much wanted by every body, sir,” continued Marius, “every body is joining the frolic to work at it; that is, if—”
“Not I, nor any of my people. Let me hear no more about it, if you please. I have given no orders to have a bridge built.”
Marius withdrew. The cow-horns were presently no longer heard—not that Marius had done any thing to silence them. He knew that the blowers were not thinking of either him or his master; but merely passing to their place of rendezvous, calling all frolickers together by the way.
“Temple, you find you can live without your squirrels, I hope,” said the tender father. “Now, no crying! I will not have you cry.”
“Bring me your papa's cup, my dear,” interposed his mother; “and persuade him to try these early strawberries. The gardener surprised us this morning with a little plate of strawberries. Tell your papa about the strawberries in the orchard, my dear.”
In the intervals of sobs, and with streaming eyes, Temmy told the happy news that stawberries had spread under all the trees in the orchard, and were so full of blossom, that the gardener thought the orchard would soon look like a field of white clover.
“Wild strawberries, I suppose. Tasteless trash!” was the remark upon this intelligence.
Before a more promising subject was started, the door opened, and Dr. Sneyd appeared. Mr. Temple hastened to rise, put away, with a prodigious crackling and shuffling, the papers he held, quickened Temmy's motions in setting a chair, and pressed coffee and strawberries on “the old gentleman,” as he was wont to call Dr. Sneyd. It was impossible that there could be much sympathy between two men so unlike; but it singularly happened that Dr. Sneyd had a slighter knowledge than any body in the village of the peculiarities of his son-in-law. He was amused at some of his foibles, vexed at others, and he sighed, at times, when he saw changes of looks and temper creeping over his daughter, and thought what she might have been with a more suitable companion: but Temple stood in so much awe of the philosopher as to appear a somewhat different person before him and in any other presence. Temmy now knew that he was safe from misfortune for half an hour; and being unwilling that grandpapa should see traces of tears, he slipped behind the window blind, to make his observations on the troop which was gathering in the distance on the way to the creek. He stood murmuring to himself,—“There goes Big Brawn and the Brawnees! I never saw any women like those Brawnees. I think they could pull up a tall tree by the roots, if they tried. I wonder when they will give me some more honey to taste. “There goes Dods! He must be tired before the frolic begins; for he has been making bricks ever since it was light. I suppose he is afraid papa will be angry if he does not make bricks as fast as he can. Papa was so angry, with the rain for spoiling his bricks before! There goes David——” And so on, through the entire population, out of the bounds of Temple Lodge.
“I came to ask,” said the doctor, “how many of your men you can spare to this frolic to-day. Arthur will be glad of all the assistance that can be had, that the work may be done completely at once”
The reply was, that Arthur seemed an enter-prising young man.
“He is: just made for his lot. But I ought not to call this Arthur's enterprise altogether. The Creek is no more his than it is yours or mine. The erection is for the common good, as the disaster last night”—(a glance from Mrs. Temple to her husband's face, and a peep) from Temmy, from behind the blind)—“was, in fact, a common misfortune”
Mr. Temple took snuff, and asked no questions at present.
“I have been telling my wife,” observed the doctor, “that I am prodigiously tempted to try the strength of my arm myself, to-day.”
“I hope not, my dear sir. Your years—— The advancement of science, you know——Just imagine its being told in Paris, among your friends of the Institute, that you had been helping to build a bridge! Temple, ring the bell.”
Marius was desired to send Ephraim to receive his master's commands. In a few minutes, the door slowly opened, a strange metallic sound was heard, and a little negro boy, stunted in form and mean in countenance, stood bowing in the presence.
“Ephraim, go into the park field, and tell Martin to send as many labourers as he can spare to help to bridge the creek. And as you come back.——”
During this time, Dr. Sneyd had turned on his chair to observe the boy. He now rose rapidly, and went to convince himself that his eyes did not deceive him. It was really true that the right ankle and left wrist of the little lad were connected by a light fetter.
“Who has the key of this chain?” asked Dr. Sneyd of his daughter, who, blushing scarlet, looked towards her husband.
“Give it me,” said the doctor, holding out his hand.
“Excuse me, my dear sir. You do not know the boy.”
“Very true: but that does not alter the case. The key, if you please.”
After a moment's hesitation, it was produced from the waistcoat pocket. Dr. Sneyd set the boy free, bade him make haste to do his master's bidding, and quietly doubling the chain, laid it down on a distant table.
“He never made baste in his life, sir,” protested Mr. Temple. “You do not know the lad, sir, believe me.”
“I do not: and I am sorry to hear such an account of him. This is a place where no one can be allowed to loiter and be idle.”
Ephraim showed that he could make haste; for he lost no time in getting out of the room, when he had received his final orders. At the moment, and for a few moments more, Dr. Sneyd was relating to his daughter the contents of the letters received from England the night before. Mr. Temple meanwhile was stirring the fire, flourishing his handkerchief, and summoning courage to be angry with Dr. Sneyd.
“Do you know, sir,” said he, at length, “that boy is my servant? Let me tell you, that for one gentleman to interfere with another gentleman's servants is——”
Dr. Sneyd was listening so calmly, with his hands resting on the head of his cane, that Temple's words, somehow or other, failed him.
“Such interference is——is——This boy, sir, is my servant.”
“Your servant, but not your slave. Do you know. Temple, it is I who might call you to account, rather than you me. As one of the same race with this boy, I have a right to call you to account for making property of that which is no property. There is no occasion, I trust, for you and me to refer this matter to a magistrate: but, till compelled to do so, 1 have a full right to strike off chains wherever I meet with them.”
“You may meet with them in the woods, or as far over the prairie as you are likely to walk, my dear sir, for this lad is a notorious runaway: he has escaped three times. Nothing short of such an offence could have made me do any thing which might appear harsh. If he runs away again, I assure you I shall be compelled to employ the restraint in question: I give you warning that I must. So, if you should meet him, thus restrained, you know——”
“O, yes; I shall know what to do. I shall take off the chain that he may hie the faster—. I see your conservatory is in great beauty. I imagine you must have adopted Arthur's notion about warming it.”
“Not Mr. Sneyd's. O, no; it was Mrs. Temple's idea.”
“Not originally; it was Arthur who advised me,” declared Mrs. Temple. “I hope you will soon have some of the benefit of his devices about the kitchen-garden, father. The gardener has orders to send you some of the first vegetables and fruit that are ready for gathering; and I am going to carry my mother some flowers today.”
“I was about to ask when you will dine with us,” said Dr. Sneyd. “I think it had better he when some of the good things you speak of are ready; for we have few luxuries to offer you. But When will you come?”
Mr. Temple was sorry that his time was now so occupied with business,—his affairs at the land-office, in addition to all his own concerns,— that he could form no engagements. Mrs. Temple would answer for herself and her son.
Dr. Sneyd was not aware of this new occupation of Mr. Temple's. He was particularly glad to hear of it, and told it to his wife as a piece of very good news. as soon as he got home. They both hoped that their daughter would be all The happier for her husband having something to do and to think about, beyond his own affairs.
“What is all this?” cried Mr. Temple, returning from bowing out Dr. Sneyd with much civility. “What accident happened last night, pray?”
On being told of the upsetting of the waggon, he was not the less angry for his internal consciousness that he caused himself to be treated like a child, by being unable to bear cross accidents. His horse was ordered instantly, his morning gown exchanged for his pretty riding equipments, and his wife and son left to gaze from one window and another to learn, if possible, what was to happen next, and to reason with one another about their lesser troubles, after the manner of tender mothers and confiding children. Temmy saw very clearly that it could do no good to cry whenever squirrels were mentioned, and that it must be much pleasanter to papa to see his boy smile, and to hear him answer cheerfully, than——The child's memory could supply the contrast. This same papa was all the time in great trouble without reasoning. He pursued his way to the Creek as if he had been in mortal terror of the groom who followed at his heels.
“Aside the devil turned for envy,” says Milton. Such a pang has since been the lot of many a splenetic descendant of the arch-fiend, on witnessing happiness that he not only could not share, but could not sympathize in. Such a pang exasperated Mr. Temple on casting his first glance over the scene of the frolic. He despised every body there, from Arthur, now brandishing his rule, now lending a hand to place a heavy beam, to the youngest of Dods's children, who thought she was helping by sticking corn-cobs into the crevices of the logs. He despised Brawn, the woodsman, with his round shoulders. enormous bush of hair, and hands that looked as if they could lift up a house. He despised the daughters, Black Brawnee and Brown Brawnee, as they were called. He was never very easy when he fell in with these girls in the depths of the forest, tapping their row of maple trees, and kneeling at the troughs beneath; or on the flowery prairie, lining the wild bees to their haunt in the hollow tree. He felt himself an object of ridicule to these daughters of the forest, and so insignificant in respect of all the qualifications which they valued, that none of his personal accomplishments gave him any comfortable feeling of confidence in their presence; and the merriment with which they now pursued as sport a toil which would have been death to him, irritated him to a degree which they were amused to witness. He despised the whole apparatus of festivity: the pig roasting in the shade, and the bustle of the women preparing the various messes of corn, and exhibiting their stores of salt beef. He pronounced the whole vulgar,—so excessively vulgar,—that he could not endure that a son of Dr. Sneyds should be assisting in the fête. The axe and mattock sounded in a very annoying way: the buzz of voices and of laughter were highly discreditable to the order of the place; and the work was so rough that, in all probability, he should be obliged to witness some wounds or bruises if he did not get away. So he hastened to conceal his envy from himself, and to express his contempt as plainly as possible.
He raised himself in his stirrups, and called out his men by name. They came forth unwillingly, having but just arrived to join the frolic, and suspecting that their capricious master meant to send them home again. A glance of mutual condolence between two of them was observed by Mr. Temple, and did no good to their cause. They were ordered to return instantly to their work in the park-field, and to appear no more near the Creek this day.
“We will do some of their work in the park-field to-morrow, Mr. Temple,” said Arthur, “if you will let us have the benefit of their labour now.”
Under a sense of infinite obligation, Mr. Temple explained that he permitted none but his own people,—no vagabond woodsmen,—no workmen who came hither because they were driven out of the civilized world,—to touch his land. And, after the losses of the preceding evening, he could not think of giving his men a holiday,— losses of which Arthur had not even had the grace to apprize him. Arthur was surprized. He could not have supposed that such a piece of news could have been long in travelling through the village of Briery Creek, considering that Temple's man had been one of the waggoners, Temple's son a witness of the whole, and the entire population of the place on the spot before the adventure was finished. Why was it more Arthur's duty than any one's else to carry him the disagreeable news?
“Your not having done it, Mr. Sneyd, is of a piece with your conduct about the cattle-marks, sir,—of a piece with the whole of your conduct since you entered upon your speculations in my neighbourhood. My men shall know the story of the cattle-marks, sir, and then we shall see which of them will stir a finger to help you with your bridge.”
“What about the cattle-marks?” asked Arthur, with a perplexed look. “If you told me, I am afraid I have forgotten.”
“You could have given me the earliest intelligence, I fancy, sir. If I mistake not, you haw entered, at the land-office, your design of marking your sheep and pigs with three slanting slits in the right ear.”
This was true.
“And your determination was not made known,—it was not, in fact, taken,—till the fifteenth of last month.”
“I dare say nat. I planned it just before my second visit to the land-office, which was about the middle of last month.”
“Very well, sir; the fifteenth was your day. Now, I have evidence to prove that on the thirteenth I informed my son, who, I understand, informed Dr. Sneyd, that it was my intention to mark my cattle with three slanting slits in the right ear.”
“Well! what then?”
“Why, just that circumstances have so fallen out as to defeat your design, sir, which I will not stop to characterize. I have a connexion with the land-office, sir, which you were perhaps not aware of; and my sheep and pigs will run no risk of being confounded with yours. It is very well to ask—‘What then?’ I should like to know whether my sheep and pigs do not far out-number yours: and how was any one to distinguish the one from the other, straying in the woods and prairies, if all were marked with three slanting slits in the right ear?”
Arthur would not stoop to reply to the insinuations of his brother-in-law. He did, for a moment, condescend to lose his temper, and would probably have frightened the intruder off the ground by an exhibition of passion, if the Brawnees and their father, and a few others who had nothing to hope or fear from Temple, had not relieved him by a timely burst of laughter. Dods dared not laugh, for he was brickmaker to Temple; and much building remained to be done about the lodge. Others, among whom the gentleman's money was distributed in profusion, appeared not to observe what was going on. Arthur only observed, before recommencing his labours,—
“I am surprised to hear all this, Mr. Temple. I thought your cattle had been much too proud to stray about the woods like the beasts of poor, common settlers like us. I am sure when I grow rich enough to have stables, and styes, and pens, such as you can command, my horses will never be beard tinkling their bells in the forest in the evening, and nobody will run over a pig of mine in the prairie.”
“And yet you can spare time to build bridges, Mr. Sneyd; and you can contribute materials for a market-house and a cheese dairy. It is not to every body that you complain of poverty.”
“To no one do I complain of poverty. I am not poor. Nobody present is poor. There was but one short period when any of us could be justly called so; and that was when each of us had barely enough to supply his own actual wants.”
“That did not last long,” said Dods. “In a young settlement like ours, two years ago, every act of labour tells. Ah! there goes my gentle. man! I thought so. He never stays to be reminded what a barbarous place he has got into.”
“Whatever brought him here,” observed Brawn, “is more than any of us can tell. I have seen new settlers enough in my day, my life having lain among new clearings. Many a rough farmer, many a pale mechanic, have I seen; the one looking gloomily into the waste before him, and the other sinking under the toil that was too new to him. And many a trader has passed through with his stores, and many a speculator come to gamble in laud, and go away again. But a beau like this, with a power of money to spend, without caring to earn any, is a thing I have beard tell of far to the east, but never thought to see. It makes one waken one's ears to hear what travellers tell of the reason.”
Arthur could have told the reason, as his neighbours knew; and it was probably the hope that he might forget his discretion that made the gossips of Briery Creek betake themselves to conjectures in his hearing as often as he was believed to have received provocation from Temple. He was never known, however, to deny or confirm anything that was said. It was pretty well understood that Temple had come here because he had made his former place of residence too hot to hold him; but whether he had libelled or slain anybody, made himself odious as an informer, enriched himself by unfair means, or been unfortunate in a duel, it still remained for some accidental revelation to make known.
“How is it, Dods, that you think every act of labour tells in a young settlement?” asked Arthur, on resuming work after a large destruction of roast pig. “I have always understood that labour is worth more the more it is divided; and nowhere is there less division of labour than in a young settlement.”
“Very true. I hold that we are both right, because we are speaking of different states of affairs. Before people have enough of anything to change away, and while each man works for himself, each touch of his finger, if one may say so, supplies some want of his own. No need, in such days, to trouble your head about whether your work will sell! You want a thing; you make it, and use it; and thereby feel how much your work is worth. But the case is different when you have more of a thing than you want, and would fain change it away. You cannot change it away unless others have also some more than they want to use themselves. Then they begin to club their labour together, and divide the work among them, and try by what means they can get the most done; by such division of labour they do get the most done, but it does not follow that the workmen flourish accordingly, as they do when each works for himself:”
“Because it becomes more difficult to calculate how much of each sort of production will be wanted. The matter becomes perplexed by the wishes of so many being concerned. If we could understand those wishes, the more we can get produced, the better it would be for everybody.”
“I have tried both the periods we speak of,” said Dods. “Brickmaking was a fine business indeed in the part of England where I lived when trade was brisk, and manufacturers building country-houses, and speculators running up rows of cottages for weavers. But a sudden change knocked me up when I least expected it. I went on one summer making bricks as before;—for what should I know of the changes that were taking place on the other side of the world, and that spread through our manufacturers, and weavers, and builders, till they reached me? The first I knew of it was, my not selling a brick for the whole season, and seeing house after house deserted, till it was plain that my unbaked bricks must melt in the winter rains, and those in the kilns crumble in the storms, before my labour would be wanted again in that line. As for my little capital, it melted and crumbled away with the bricks it was locked up in. Here mine was, for a long while, the only brick house. I made not a brick too much; so that there was no waste.”
“And the same may be said of the work you do for Mr. Temple. There may be an exact calculation how many bricks are wanted, so that you can proportion your supply exactly to the demand.”
“And use the advantage of division of labour too, sir. No fear of a glut coming unawares, when I have the whole of our little range under my own eye. One of my boys may dig the clay, and another harrow the bricks to the kiln, and the eldest tend the fires, while I am moulding, and no fear of our all being thrown out at once by an unexpected glut; and the more disastrously, perhaps, for our having turned our mutual help to the best account.”
“I rather think your labour is stimulated rather than relaxed by the high wages you get here, Mr. Dods.”
“Why, yes. That seems the natural effect of high wages, whatever people may say of the desperate hard work of such poor creatures as the Glasgow weavers, or the Manchester spinners. I say, look to the Irish, who have very poor wages. Do they work hard? I say, look to the labourers in India. They have miserable wages. Do they work hard? The difference between these and the Lancashire spinners seems to me to be, that in India and Ireland, some sort of subsistence,—rice and potatoes, poor enough, —is to be bad for little labour, and little more can be gained by greater labour; while the Lancashire poor can only get a bare subsistence by excessive labour, and therefore they labour excessively. Put a poor diet of rice within reach of the Lancashire spinner, with the knowledge that he can get nothing better, and he will do as little work as will procure him a bare subsistence of rice. But try all three with high wages, in circumstances where they may add one comfort after another to their store, and you will see whether they will relax in their toils till they have got all that labour can obtain.”
“I say, look to the reason of the case, and it will tell the same story as the facts. If a man is lazy, and loves idleness more than the good things which industry will bring, there is an end of the matter, as far as he is concerned. He is an exception to common rules. But, as tong as there is no end to the comforts and luxuries which most men prefer to idleness, there will be no end of exertion to obtain them. I believe You and your sons work harder than you did two years ago, though you have ten times as many comforts about you.”
“And my wife, too, I assure you. At first, we used to sit down tired before the end of the day, and if we had bread enough for supper, and blankets to spread on the floor of our log-house, were apt to think we could do no more that day. But when we had wherewith to get salt beef, we thought we could work a little harder for something pleasanter to drink with it than the brackish water which was used by us all at first, for want of a sweeter draught. In like manner, when we once had a brick cottage, there was no end of our toil to get things to put rote it;—first, bedsteads, and seats, and a table; and then crockery, and hardware, and matting for the floors; and now my wife has set her mind upon carpets, and a looking-glass for her customers to fancy her handiwork by. She says ladies always admire her gowns and bonnets most when they see them on themselves. It was but this morning that my wife vowed that a handsome looking-glass was a necessary of life to her. We should all have laughed enough at the idea of such a speech two years ago.”
“And with the wish, your wife brings the power to obtain these comforts.”
“The wish would be worth little without the power; which makes it a merciful arrangement that the wish only grows with the power. If my wife had longed for a looking-glass before she was able to set about earning one with her mantua-making and milliner's work, she would have been suffering under a useless trouble. No: it is a good thing that while people are solitary, producing only for themselves, there is no demand for other people's goods—”
“I should say ‘desire.’ There is no demand till the power and the will are joined. If your wife had pined for a mirror two years ago, there would have been no demand for it on her part. To-morrow, if she offers a travelling trader a smart assortment of caps—or, what is the same thing, if she sells her caps to the women of Briery Creek, and gives the trader the money for his mirror,—she makes a real and effective demand. It seems to me a blessed arrangement, too, that there ts always somewhat wherewith to supply this demand, and exactly enough to supply it.”
“Ay, sir; if we were but sharp-sighted enough to take care that the quality was as exactly fitted to human wishes as the quantity. Since we none of us produce more than we want, just for the pleasure of toiling. it is as plain as possible that every man's surplus constitutes a demand. Well! every man's surplus is also his neighbour's supply. The instrument of demand that every man brings is also his instrument of supply; so that, in point of quantity, there is always a precise provision made for human wants.”
“Yes: and if mistakes are made as to the kinds of articles that are wished for, there is always the consolation that such mistakes will correct one another, as long as there can never be too much of everything. If what we have just said be true. there being too much of one thing proves that there must be too little of another; and the production of the one will be slackened, and that of the other quickened, till they are made equal. If your wife makes up more caps by half than are wanted, caps will be ruinously cheap, The Brawnees will give much less maple sugar for their caps—”
The Brawnees never wore caps, Arthur was reminded.
“But they will, in time, take my word for it, if they remain among us. Wed! your wife will refuse to sell her caps at so great a loss. She will lay them by till the present generation of caps is worn out, and go and tap the maple trees for herself, rather than pay others dearly for it. In this case, the glut is of caps; and the deficiency is of maple sugar.”
“My wife's gains must depend on her own judgment in adapting her millinery to the wants of her customers. If she makes half as many caps again as are needed, she deserves to lose, and to have to go out sugar-making for herself.”
“Yes: calculation may avail in a small society like this. In a larger and more complicated society, the most that prudence can do is to watch the changes of wants and wishes, as shown by variations of price. This would avail for all practical purposes, if wants and wishes were left to themselves. They are so at Briery Creek, and therefore every trader at Briery Creek has fair play. But it is not so where bounties, and prohibitions, and unequal taxation are made to interfere among buyers and sellers: where such disturbing influences exist, the trader has not fair play; and it would be a miracle indeed if he could adapt his supply to the demand,—or, in other words, be satisfied in his own demand. What is moving in the wood there, Duds? What takes all our people away from their work when it is so nearly finished?”
“It must be some rare sight,” observed Dods. “Every one, look ye, man, woman, and child, skipping over the new bridge while half of it is prettily gravelled, and the other half still hare and slippery. See how they scramble over the heap of gravel left in the middle! I suppose I must follow where they lead, and bring you the news, sir.” Before Dods had time to complete his first passage over the new bridge, the news told itself. A. company of soldiers, on their way to occupy a military post near, emerged from the green depths of the forest, and appeared to be making straight for the ford, without looking to the right hand or to the left. Their pleasure was instantly visible when, their attention being attracted by a shout from the throng of settlers, they perceived a substantial bridge, finished except the gravelling, overhanging the stream through which they had expected to he compelled to wade. They received with hearty good-will their commander's directions to pay toll of their labour for their passage. Never was a public work finished in a more joyous style. The heap of gravel was levelled in a trice; and, by particular desire, a substantial handrail was fixed for the benefit of careless children, or of any whose nerves might be affected by the sight of the restless waters below. Temple was riding along a ridge whence he could look down, and hoped to observe how much the work was retarded by his labourers being withdrawn. When he saw that no help of his was wanted,— that the erection was now complete, the refuse logs being piled up out of the way, the boughs carried off for fuel, the tools collected, and preparations made for the crowning repast,—he put spurs to his horse, and cast hard words at his groom for allowing him to forget that he was likely to be late home to dinner.
Arthur, meantime, was engaged with the commander, who explained that his men and he would be glad of the advantage of attending divine service on the Sunday, if there was any place within reach of their post where they might do so. The only place of worship at present in Briery Creek was Dr. Sneyd's house, where be bad conducted service since his arrival, for the benefit of all who wished to attend. The commander was very anxious to be permitted, with his company, to join tile assemblage; Arthur had no doubt of his father's willingness. The question was, where they should assemble, Dr. Sneyd's house not being large enough for so many. One proposed the verge of the forest; but Dr. Sneyd was not, at his age made to abide; changes of weather like the hardy settlers about him. Arthur's barn was too far off for the convenience of all parties. Nobody was disposed to ask from Mr. Temple any favour which, being graciously granted for one Sunday, might be withdrawn before the next. Could the market-house be made fit for the purpose? It was a rude building, without seats, and occupied with traffic till the Saturday evening; but the neighbours,—promised to vacate in time to have it cleared,—prepared with log seats, and some sort of pulpit,—and made a temple meet for the worship of the heart.
Dr. Sneyd's afternoon walk brought him to the spot in time to promise to do his part. His blessing was ready for the work newly completed, and for the parting; cup with which the men of peace dismissed the men of war, in a spirit of mutual good-will.
The settlers at Briery Creek followed the old custom of the mother country, of holding their market on a Saturday. Saturday was an anxious day to some, a joyous day to others, and a busy day to all. Many a mother bent her steps to the market-house, doubting whether she should be able to meet with the delicate food she desired for her baby just weaned, or for her invalid husband, getting up from the fever, and following her cookery with eager eyes. Many a child held its mother's apron, and watched her bargaining in the hope that some new and tempting article of food would be carried home, after a long sameness; or that the unexpected cheapness of her purchases would enable her to present him with the long-promised straw hat. or, at least, a pocket-full of candy from the Brawnees' sugar pans. The whole village was early astir; and Dr. Sneyd, when he preferred a stroll along the bank of the creek to a turn in the market-house with his lady, could distinguish from a distance the solitariness of the farm-yards and dwellings, and the convergence of driver, drover, rider, and walking trader, towards the point of attraction.
Arthur was the centre of all observation. He offered more for sale than anybody else: he bought more; and he had the largest division of the market-house, excepting always the corner reserved for the passing trader, who could spread out riches far transcending what even Arthur could boast. To such, the young farmer left it to exhibit bear and beaver skins, leather, and store of salted venison, If he came from the North or West; and hardware, cotton, cloth and silk goods, books and stationery, if he was on his way from the East. Any of these, or all in their turn, Arthur bought: but his sales, various as they were considered, were confined to a few articles of food. He traded, not for wealth of money, but of comfort. His purchases were of two kinds, neither of which were destined for sale, as were those of the trader to whom he yielded precedence in the market-house. He bought implements to replace those which were worn out; and this kind of purchase was a similar sort of expenditure to that of the seed-corn which was put into the ground, and the repairs bestowed upon his fences and barn;—it was an expenditure of capital—capital consumed for purposes of reproduction with increase. With the surplus left after thus replacing his former capital, and perpetually adding to it, Arthur purchased articles of unproductive consumption; some for his house, which was becoming so much prettier than a bachelor could want, that the gossips of Briery Creek began to speculate on whom he had chosen to share the occupancy; some for his table, as the sugar of the Brawnees; some for his person, as the stout leggings which Dods occupied himself in making in rainy weather; and some for his friends, as when he could lay hold of a political journal for his lather, or of a fur tippet for his mother, or of a set of pencils for Temmy. to sketch with when he came to the farm. (Arthur seldom went to Mr. Temple's; but he found time to give Temmy many a drawing-lesson at the farm.) Now that Arthur had not only a growing capital, but a surplus after replacing it—a revenue, which furnished him with more comforts perpetually, he was unwilling that his sister should feel so hurt as he knew she did at her husband not having assisted him with capital, from the time that he took his farm in the shape of a patch of prairie. In the early days of his enterprise, he would have been truly thankful for such an addition to his small stock of dollars as would have enabled him to cultivate a larger extent of ground, and live less hardly while his little property was growing faster; but now that be had surmounted his first difficulties, and was actually justified in enlarging his unproductive expenditure, he wished Mrs. Temple to forget that her husband had declined assisting her brother, and be satisfied that the rich man had not been able to hinder the prosperity he would not promote.
The prosperity of the whole village would have increased more rapidly than it did, if all the inhabitants had as careful in their consumption as Arthur. Not only did Temple expend lavishly in caprices as well as luxuries, and the surgeon-tavern-keeper tempt many a labourer and small proprietor to spend that in whisky which ought to have been laid out (if not productively) in enjoyments that were innocent,— but there was a prevalence of wasteful habits, but which Arthur and his establishment might have served as a sufficient example. The merit of the order which was observable on his farm was partly due to himself, partly to Mrs. Sneyd, (who kept a maternal eye on all his interests,) and party to Isaac's wife, who superintended his dairy and dwelling-house.
On this market morning,—after a day of extraordinary fatigue,—the state of the place at six o'clock might have shamed many a farm-house in a region where there is a superabundance instead of a dearth of female service. Isaac's wife had no maid to help her but her own little maidens of four and three years old; yet, by six o'clock, of her employer was driving his market-cart to the place of traffic, the milk was duly set by in the pans, the poultry were fed, the tallow with which she was about to make candles was preparing while she made the beds, and the little girls, were washing up the breakfast things in the kitchen—the elder tenderly wiping the cups and basins which the younger had washed in the basins bowl which her mother had placed and wooden for her in the middle of the floor, as the place whence it was most certain that it could fall no lower. The pigs were in their proper place, within a fence, which had a roof in one corner for their shelter in bad weather. The horses and cattle were all properly marked, and duly made musical with bells, when turned out into the woods. There was a well of pure water, so guarded, that the children and other young animals could not run into it unawares; and all the wild beasts of the forest had tried the strength of the fences in vain. Arthur had not, therefore, had to pay for the luxurious feasts of his enemies of the earth or air, or for any of that consumption which may, in a special sense, be called unproductive, since it yields neither profit to the substance nor pleasure to the mind. If a similar economy had pervaded the settlement, its gross annual produce would have more rapidly increased, and a larger revenue would have been set at liberty to promote the civilization of the society in improving the comfort of individuals.
Brawn and his daughters could never be made to attend to this. The resources which they wasted would have tilled many an acre of good land, or have built a school-house, or have turned their habitation of logs into a respectable brick tenement, with grassy field and fruitful garden. They preferred what they called ease and liberty; and the waste they caused might be considered as revenue spent on a pleasure,—a very unintelligible pleasure,—of their own choice. As long as they supported themselves without defrauding their neighbours, (and fraud was the last thing they could have been made to understand,) no one had a right to interfere with their methods of enjoyment any more than with Temple's conservatory, or Dr. Sneyd's library, or Mrs. Dods's passion for mirrors and old china; but it was allowable to be sorry for so depraved a taste, and to have a very decided opinion of its injuriousness to society, and consequent immorality. This very morning there was dire confusion in their corner of the settlement. For some days the girls had been bee-hunting, being anxious to bring the first honey of the season into the market. In order to make up for the time spent on the new bridge, they were abroad at sunrise this day to track the wild bees in their earliest flight; but after such a fashion, that it would have answered better to them to be at home and asleep. Yet they succeeded in their object. The morning was just such as to tempt all things that fly from the hollow tree, from which the mists had drawn off, leaving a diamond token on every leaf. The sun began to shine warm through the summer haze, and the wild flowers of the prairie to look up and brighten at his presence. As the brown sisters threaded the narrow ways of the woods, bursting through the wild vines, and bringing a shower of dew on their heads from sycamore and beech, many a winged creature hummed, or buzzed, or flitted by the languid drone, or the fierce hornet, or white butterflies in pairs, chasing one another into the loftiest and greenest recess of the leafy canopy. Presently came the honey-bee, winging its way to the sunny space—the natural herb-garden, to which the girls were hastening; and when there, what a hovering, and buzzing, and sipping, and flitting was going on! The bee-women laughed in anticipation of their sport as they drew on their leathern mittens, and applied themselves to catch a loaded bee in each hand. They agreed on their respective stations of experiment, and separating, let fly their prisoners, one by one, tracking the homeward course of each, with a practised eye, through a maze of boughs, and flickering lights and shadows, and clustered stems, which would have perplexed the vision of a novice. The four bees being let fly from different stations, the point at which their lines of flight must intersect each other was that at which the honeycomb might be surely found; and a rich store it was,—liquid, clear, and fragrant,—such as would assuredly make the mouth water of every little person in the village who had advanced beyond a milk diet. Another and another hollow tree was found thus to give forth sweetness from its decay, till the bee-women shook back the lank hair from before their eyes gathered up such tatters of their woollen garments as they had not left on the bushes by the way, and addressed themselves to return. On their walk it was that they discovered that they had lost more this morning than many such a ramble as theirs could repay.
A vast cluttering and screaming of fowls was the first thing that drew off their attention from their fragrant load. Some of the poor poultry that their father had been plucking alive (as he was wont to do six time a year) had evidently made their escape from his hands half plucked, and were now making short flights, higher and farther from home, so that it was more probable that they would join their wild acquaintance, the turkeys or the prairie fowl, than return to roost among the logs. Next appeared,—now entangling its hind legs among the vines, now poking its snout into a ground-squirrel's nest, and now scuttling away from pursuit,—a fine young porker, which had been shut up from its rambles for some time past. The sisters gave chase to their own property; but all in vain: their pursuit only drove the animal farther into the wood, and they hastened home to give notice of the disaster. They could see nothing of Brawn about the house, but could not look farther for him till they had discovered the meaning of the light smoke which issued from the door and the crevices of the log-wall. Black Brawnee's best gown was burning before the fire,—the splendid cotton gown, with a scarlet ground and a pattern of golden flowers, which, to the astonishment of every body, flowers, she had taken a fancy to buy of a passing trader, and which she had washed and hung up to dry in preparation for the market: it was smouldering away, leaving only a fragment to tell the tale. Next came a moan from an enclosure behind the cottage, and there lay a favourite young colt with two legs so broken that it was plain the poor animal would never more stand. How it happened could not be learned from the dumb beast, nor from the two or three other beasts that were huddled together in this place, where they had no business to be. It seemed as if, in some grand panic, the animals had tumbled over one another, leaving the colt to be the chief sufferer. But where was Brawn himself? He was moaning, too, in a hollow place in the wood, where he had made a false leap, and fallen so as to sprain his ankle, while in pursuit of the runaway porker.
“What brought ye here?” asked the brown damsel, as she raised her father with one application of strength.
“What carried the porker into the forest?” he asked, in reply.
“Ask him. We did not give him room,” said one.
“No need,” retorted the other. “Who left the gate open?”
“That did we both, this morning, for the cause that there is no fastening.”
“No latch; but a fastening there is. I knotted the rope last night, and so might you this morning. The loss of the porker comes of losing the lamb.”
“My lamb!” was repeated, with every variety of lamentation, by both the damsels. It was too true. For want of a latch, the gate of the enclosure was tied with a rope. The damsels found the tying too troublesome, and merely pulled it after them. Little by little it had swung open. A sharp-set wild cat had stolen in to make choice of a meal, and run out again with the pet lamb. The master had followed the lamb, and the porker made the best of his opportunity, and followed the master. Then ensued the hue and cry which drove the beasts over the poor colt; and, meantime, the scarlet gown, one sleeve of which had been puffed into the fire by Brawn's hasty exit, was accelerating the smoking of the dried beef which hung from the rafters. A vast unproductive consumption for one morning!
The damsels made nothing of carrying their father home, and, after bathing his ankle, laying him down on his back to study the rafters till they should return from the market. It was a much harder task to go to market; the one without her scarlet and yellow gown, and the other with grief for her lamb lying heavy at her heart.
They found their pigs very trying to their tempers this morning. Instead of killing them, and carrying them to market in that quiet state, as usual, the damsels had resolved to make the attempt to drive them; as from the abundance of pork in all its forms in the market just now, a sale was very uncertain. To drive pigs along a high road is not a very easy task; what then must it be in a wild country, where it is difficult even to follow their vagaries, and nearly impossible to reclaim them? The Brawnees agreed that to prevent such vagaries offered the only hope of getting to market in time; and one therefore belled the old hog which was to be her special charge, while the other was to promote to the utmost the effect of the bell-music on the younger members of the drove. The task was not made easier by the poor beasts having been very ill-fed. There was little in the coarse, sour prairie grass to tempt them: but patches of juicy green were but too visible here and there where travellers had encamped, feeding their beasts with hay, and leaving the seeds of the perennial verdure which was to spring up after the next rains. Nothing could keep the old hog and the headlong train from these patches, whether they lay far or near; insomuch that the sisters were twenty times tempted to leave their swine to their own devices, and sell no pork that day. But the not selling involved the not buying; and this thought generated new efforts of patience and of skill. When they arrived at the scene of exchange, and cast a glance on Mrs. Dods's display of cotton garments set off with here and there a muslin cap, and paraphernalia of pink and green; or on a pile of butter which they were not neat-handed enough to rival; or into wicker baskets of crockery, or upon the trader's ample store of blankets, knives, horn spoons, and plumes of red and blue feathers, they felt that it would indeed have been cruel to be compelled to quit the market without any of the articles that were offered to their choice. Nobody, however, inquired for their pigs. One neighbour was even saucy enough to laugh at their appearance.
“You had better buy a load of my pumpkins,” “Said Kendall, the surgeon and tavern-keeper. Your swine will be more fit for market next week, if you feed them on my fine pumpkins in the meanwhile.”
“When we want pumpkins,” said one of them, “we will go to those that have ground to grow them on. You have not bought a field, and grown pumpkins since yesterday, I suppose?”
“By no means. I have a slip of a garden, let me tell you; and, though it is but a slip, it is of rare mellow mould, where the vines strike at every joint as they run. My wife has kept enough for pies for all the travellers that may pass before next spring. One load is bespoken at four dollars; and you will take the other, if you are wise. There are a few gourds with them. too.”
“Gourds! Who cares for gourds?”
“Who can do without gourds, say I? I am sure we, at the tavern, could not, so dear as crockery is at this place. Cut off the lop, and. you have a bottle; cut off top and tail, and you have a funnel; cut it in two, and you have cups; slice off one side and you have a ladle. Take my gourds, I advise you, and set yonder crockery-man at defiance, with his monstrous prices and brittle ware.”
“We have no drunken guests to break our cups and bottles; and as for prices, how do you know that they are a matter of concern to us? If we take your load, it shall be the pumpkins without the gourds.”
“You will take the pumpkins, then?”
“If you take the sum out in pork or honey. We want our dollars for the crockery-man.”
“Pork, no! I think we shall all grunt soon. We are pretty sure to have no Jews come our way. We all have bacon for the morning meal; and a pig for dinner, and salt pork for supper. When one whistles to the birds, there comes a squeal instead of a chirp; and as sure as one walks in the dark, one stumbles over a pig. Our children learn to grunt before they set about speaking. No pork for me! We have a glut of pigs.”
“Honey, then. Your wife wants honey for her pumpkin-pies; and I have heard that you set out mead sometimes at your tavern.”
“And till you cheapen your sugar, we want honey to sweeten our travellers' coffee, and treat the children with. How much honey will you give me for my load?”
The damsel was checked in her answer by her sister, who perceived that many eyes were turned towards their fragrant store, and that no other bee-hunters seemed to be in the market. A dollar a gallon was the price announced by the sisters, after a consultation. Mr. Kendall shook his head, and stood aside for awhile. The truth was, he was full as much in want of honey for his purposes as an apothecary, as his wife for her coffee and pies. He was resolved to get some, at whatever price, and waited to put in his word at the first favourable opportunity.
Arthur was no less determined upon a purchase of sweets. His mother began to be in distress about her preserves. Her fruit was all ripe, and craving to be preserved; but the destined sugar had gone to sweeten the waters in the Creek. She entreated her son to bring her some honey. None could be found in the woods near the farm. Every body was hay-making, or about to make hay, and could not go out bee-hunting. The Brawnees were the only resource.
“I want some of your honey,” said he, catching the eye of the damsel of the burned gown, over the group which intervened.
“You shall have it, and no one else,” was her reply.
She was again checked by her sister, who knew her disposition to serve Arthur, at the expense of her own interests, and those of every body else.
“What will you give?” asked the more prudent one.
“Pigs; we can agree on the price.”
The one sister shook her head; the other suddenly discovered that it would be a good plan to improve and enlarge their wealth of swine while swine were cheap. She offered her five gallons of honey for one fat pig; which offer caused her sister much consternation, and made Kendall hope that the honey would be his, after all.
“No, no,” said Arthur. “Your terms are not fair—”
“Then I will get another gallon or two before the sun goes down, to make up——”
“I mean altogether tile other way,” replied Arthur. “I do not want to force my pigs upon you; but if you take them, you shall have them cheap, since there is but a poor demand for them to-day. You shall have two of those pigs for your five gallons; and if your sister thinks that not enough, the difference shall be made up in fresh butter.”
While the bargain was being discussed, one sister controlling the generosity of the other, and her admiration of Arthur's generosity, while Arther was thinking of nothing but fair play, Kendall wandered away discontented, seeing that his chance was over.
“You do not happen to have any honey to sell, Mrs Dods?” said he, as he passed the stall of cottons and muslins.
“O, dear, no, Mr. Kendall. It is what I want above every thing. Really, it is impossible to persuade an eve to look at my caps to-day, though the pattern has never been introduced here before. There is no use in my attempting to deal with ladies who dress in such a strange style as Brawn's daughters. Nothing would look becoming on them; or I am sure I would make a sacrifice even on this tasty new thing, to get something to sweeten my husband's toddy with. Indeed I expect to be obliged to make a sacrifice, at all events, to-day; as I beg you will tell Mrs. Kendall. There being such a profusion of pigs, and so little honey to-day, seems to have put us all out as to our prices.”
“How happens it, Mrs. Dods?”
“In the first place, they say, there was never such a season known for young pigs. The price has fallen so that the plenty does more harm than good to the owner; as is the complaint of farmers, you know, when the crops are better than ordinary you they cannot enlarge their market at will. Then, again, cannot seems to have been miscalculation;—no one appears to have been aware that every body would bring pigs, and nobody any honey, expect those slovenly, young women.”
“Ah! both causes of glut in full operation!” exclaimed Kendall. “The caprice of seasons, and the miscalculation of man!”
“And of woman too, Mr. Kendall. If you will believe me, I have been at work early and late, after my fashions, this week; ay, I declined going to see the bridge finished and put off our wedding-day treat, for the sake of getting my stock into pretty order by to-day; and I have scarcely had a bid yet, or even a word from a neighbour, till you came. I did not calculate on the demand for honey, and the neglect of every thing else. Every body is complaining of the same thing.”
“It seems strange, Mrs. Dods, that while we all want to sell, and all to buy, we cannot make our wants agree. I bring my demand to Mr. Arthur,—my load of pumpkins and request of honey or sugar. He wants no pumpkins and has no honey. I bring the same to you. You want no pumpkins, and offer the caps. Now I might perhaps get dollars for my pumpkins; but I want only one cap—”
“You do want one, then! Here is a pretty thing, that would just suit your wife——”
“Let me go on. I bring my demand to those dark girls: and the best of it is, they do want pumpkins, and could let me have honey; but the young farmer comes between, with his superfluity of pigs, to offer a better bargain; so that I suffer equally from the glut of pork and the dearth of honey.”
“We are all suffering, so that any stranger would say that there is a glut of every thing but honey. Neither millinery, nor blankets, nor knives, nor flower-seeds are selling yet. But I believe there is no glut of any thing but pigs. If we could put them out of the market, and put honey out of people's heads, I have little doubt we should exchange, to our mutual satisfaction, as many articles as would set against each other, till few would be left.”
“I hope to see this happen before night, and then I may be rid of my pumpkins, and carry home a cap at a price we should neither of us grumble at, and keep the rest of my dollars for honey hereafter.”
“Next week. No doubt, there will be a fine supply of it next week. Perhaps a glut: for a glut often follows close upon a scarcity.”
“Which should make us careful to husband our stocks till we are sure we can renew them; like the wise Joseph in Egypt.—That puts a thing into my head. I have a good mind to take the girls' offer of pigs for my pumpkins. Who knows but there may be a scarcity of pork after all this plenty—which is apt to make people wasteful? If they will, they shall have half a load for two of their lean animals; and I will keep the other half load to feed them upon.”
“Ah! that is always the way people's wishes grow with opportunity. This morning, you thought of no such thins; as keeping pigs; and now, before night, you will have two.”
“To be sure, Mrs. Dods. Very natural! The demand always grows as wealth grows, you know. When the farmer makes his land yield double by good tillage, he demands double the commodities he demanded before; and if nature gives us a multitude of pigs, a new demand will open in the same way.”
“And there is a double supply at the same time,—of corn by the farmer, and of pigs by the porkseller. Well! in either case, there is a better chance opened for mv caps. The more wealth there is, the better hope of a sale of millinery. You must not forget that, Mr. Kendall. You promised to take one of my caps, you know.”
“Why, so I did; but how to pay for it, I am sure I don't know. I am not going to sell my load for money, you see.”
“Well, I will tell you how. Get three lean pigs, and part with a few more pumpkins. I will take a pig for this pretty cap. I am somewhat of your opinion that pigs will soon be worth more than they are now.”
“And so you help to quicken the demand.”
“Yes. My boys will manage to keep the animal,—behind the house, or in the brickfield. And it would be a thousand pities your wife should not have this cap. I had her before my mind's eye while making it, I do assure you:— and it will soon lose its bloom if it goes into my window, or upon my shelves again.”
The negotiation was happily concluded; and, by the end of the day, when pigs and honey were put out of the question, a brisk traffic took place in the remaining articles, respecting which the wishes of the buyers and sellers agreed better than they had done about the disproportioned commodities. All had come with a demand; and each one's instrument of demand was his neighbour's means of supply: so that the market would have been entirely cleared, if they had but known one another's wishes well enough to calculate what kinds of produce they should bring. If this had been done, there would have been more honey; and if, from a caprice of nature, there had been still more pigs than usual, the only consequence would have been that the demander of pork would have received more of it to his bargain, or that the supplier of pigs would have kept back some of his pork, to be an additional future instrument of demand. In this case, no one would have lost, and some one would have gained.
As it was, Arthur was a loser. He paid much more for honey than would probably be necessary the next week. But he thought himself in another sense a gainer,—in proportion to the pleasure of obliging his mother. The Brawnees carried home two thirds of a load of pumpkins, two fat pigs, and a cherished store of fresh butter, in the place of their five gallons of honey and three lean swine. They were decidedly gainers; though not, perhaps, to the extent they might have been if they had been unscrupulous about pressing their customer hard. Any one but Arthur would have been made to yield more wealth than this; but they were well content with having pleased him, and repaired in part the losses of the morning.
Other parties left little to be removed in preparation for the Sunday. Having carried home their purchases first, they returned for the small remainder of their stock; and the evening closed with a sort of minor frolic, the children running after the stray feathers their mothers were sweeping away, and the men ranging logs for seats, and providing a platform and desk for the use ot Dr Sneyd. One or two serious people were alarmed at the act of thus turning a house of merchandise into a temple of worship; but the greater number thought that the main consideration was to gather together as many worshippers as could be collected in the heart of their wilderness. Such an accession as was now promised to their congregation seemed to mark an era in the history of their community.
Temmy was fond of feeling his grandfather's hand upon his shoulder any day of the week; but on the Sunday evening, in particular, it was delightful to the boy to share the leisure of the family. Many a tale of old times had Mrs. Sneyd then to tell; many a curious secret of things in earth, air, and heaven had the doctor to disclose; and uncle Arthur was always ready to hear of the doings of the last week, and to promise favours for the time to come. It was seldom that Temmy could enjoy a whole evening of such pleasures;— only when Mr. Temple chose to make an excursion, and carry his lady with him, or to go to bed at eight o'clock because his ennui had by that time become intolerable. Usually, Temmy could be spared only for an hour or two, and was sure to be fetched away in the midst of the most interesting of all his grand-mamma's stories, or the most anxious of the doctor's experiments.
This evening,—the evening of the day of opening the market-house for worship,—the poor boy had given up all hope of getting beyond the boundaries of the Lodge. Mr. Temple was, as he said, very ill; as every body else would have said,—in a very intolerable humour. He could not bear sunshine or sound. His wife must sit behind closed shutters, and was grievously punished for her inability to keep the birds from singing. Temmy must not move from the foot of the sofa, except to ring the bell every two minutes, and carry scolding messages every quarter of an hour; in return for which he was reproved till he cried for moving about, and opening and shutting the door. At length, to the great joy of every body, the gentleman went to bed. having drunk as much wine as his, head would bear, and finding no relief to his many ailments from that sort of medicine. This final measure was accomplished just in time for the drawing-room windows to be thrown open to the level rays of the sun, and the last breath of the closing flowers. The wine was carried away, and Ephraim called for to attend his young master to Dr. Sneyd's. Temmy was to explain why Mrs. Temple could not leave home this evening, and he might stay till Dr. Sneyd himself should think it time for him to return. Without the usual formalities of pony, groom, and what not, Temmy was soon on the way, and in another half-hour had nearly forgotten papa's terrible headache under the blessed influence of grand-papa's ease of heart.
Uncle Arthur was sitting astride on the low window-sill of the study, with Temmy hanging on his shoulder, when a golden planet showed itself above the black line of the forest. The moon had not risen, so that there was no rival in the heaven; and when the evening had darkened a little more, Temmy fancied that this bright orb cast a faint light upon his grandfather's silver hairs, and over uncle Arthur's handsome, weather-browned face. Temmy had often heard that his father had much beauty; and certainly his picture seemed to have been taken a great many times; yet the boy always forgot to look for this beauty except when some of these pictures were brought cut, while he admired uncle Arthur's dark eyes, and beautiful smile and high forehead, more and more every time he saw him. It was very lucky that uncle Arthur looked so well without combing his eyebrows, and oiling his hair, and using three sorts of soap for his hands, and three different steel instruments, of mysterious construction, for his nails; for the young farmer had no time for such amusements. It was also well that he was not troubled with fears for his complexion from the summer's sun, or from the evening air in the keenest night of winter. This was lucky, even as far as his good looks were concerned, for, if he looked well by candle-light, he looked better in the joyous, busy noon; and more dignified still when taking his rest in the moonlight; and, as Temmy now thought, noblest of all while under the stars. If papa could see him now, perhaps he would not laugh so very much as usual about uncle Arthur's being tanned, and letting his hair go as it would.
“Shall we mount to the telescopes, father?” asked Arthur. “The boy will have time to enjoy them to-night. I will lake care of him home, if Ephraim dares not stay.”
Dr. Sneyd rose briskly observing that it would indeed be a pity to lose such an evening. Temmy grasped his grandmamma's hand, hoping that she was going too. He scarcely knew why, but he felt the observatory to be a very awful place, particularly at night, when only a faint bluish light came in through the crevices of the shifting boards; or a stray beam, mysteriously bright, fell from the end of the slanting telescope, and visibly moved on the floor. Grandpapa was rather apt to forget Temmy when he once got into the observatory, and to leave him shivering in a dark corner, wondering why every body spoke low in this place, and afraid to ask whether the stars really made any music which mortal ears might listen for. When grandpapa did remember the boy, he was not aware that he was uneasy and out of breath, but would call him here and send him there, just as he did in the study in broad daylight. It had been very different with grandmamma, the only time she had mounted hither with him. She had held his hand all the while, and found out that, tall as he was grown, he could see better by sitting on her knee; and she had clasped him round the waist, as if she had found out that he trembled. Perhaps she had heard his teeth chatter, though grandpapa did not. Temmy hoped they would not chatter to-night, as he did not wish that uncle Arthur should hear them; but Mrs. Sneyd was not to be at hand. She declared that she should be less tired with walking to the lodge than with mounting to the observatory. She would go and spend an hour with her daughter, and have some talk with Ephraim by the way.
There needed no excuse for Temmy's being out of breath, after mounting all the stairs in the house, and the ladder of the observatory to boot; and the planet which he was to see being still low in the sky was reason enough for uncle Arthur to hold him up to the end of the telescope. He did not recover his breath, however, as the moments passed on. This was a larger instrument than he had ever looked through before, and his present impressions were quite different from any former experience. The palpable roundness of the orb, the unfathomable black depth in which it moved solitary, the silence,—all were as if new to him.
“You see it ?” asked Arthur.
Another long silence, during which the boy breathed yet more heavily.
“You see it still?”
“No, uncle Arthur.”
“My dear boy, why did you not tell me? We must overtake it. There! there it is once more! You must not let it travel out of sight again.”
“How can I stop it?” thought Temmy, and he would fam have pressed his hands before his eyes, as the silent vision traversed the space more brightly and more rapidly, it seemed to him, every moment. Arthur showed him, however,—not how to stop the planet, but how to move the instrument so as not to lose sight of it: he then put a stool under him, and told him he could now manage for himself. Dr. Sneyd had something to show his son on the other side of the heavens.
If Temmy had had the spheres themselves to manage, he could scarcely have been in a greater trepidation. He assured himself repeatedly that friends were at hand, but his head throbbed so that he could scarcely hear their whispers, and the orb now seemed to be dancing as he had seen the reflection of the sun dance in a shaken basin of water. He would look at something else. He jerked the telescope, and flash went one light after another before his eyes, as if the stars themselves were going out with a blaze. This would never do. He must look at something earthly. After another jerk to each side, which did not serve his purpose, he pushed it up, and saw—something which might belong to any of the worlds in being,—for Temmy knew no more about it than that it was most horrible. An enormous black object swept across the area of vision, again and again, as quick as lightning. It would not leave off. Temmy uttered a shriek of terror, and half slipped, half tumbled from his stool.
“What has the boy found? What can be the matter?” asked grandpapa. Arthur presently laughed, and told Temmy he was very clever to have found what he should have thought it very difficult to discover from this place—Arthur's own mill;—the new windmill on the mound, whose sails were now turning rapidly in the evening breeze. It was some comfort to learn that his panic was not much to be wondered at. Uncle Arthur knew what it was to take in too near a range with a large telescope. He had done so once, and had been startled with an apparition of two red cheeks and two staring blue eyes, apparently within half an inch of the end of his own nose.
“Here, Temmy,” said Dr. Sneyd, “try whether you can read in this book.”
“Shall I go and get a candle, grandpapa?”
“No, no. I want to see whether a little star yonder will be our candle. Lay the book in this gleam of light, and try whether you can read.”
Many strange things were still whisking before Temmy's eyes, but he could make out the small print of the book. He was then shown the star that gave the light,—one of the smallest in a bright constellation. He heartily wished that nobody would ask him to look at any more stars to-night, and soon managed to slip away to the little table, and show that he was amused with turning a greater and a lesser light upon the book, and showing with how little he could read the title-page, and with how much the small type of the notes. The next pleasant thing that happened was the lamp being lighted.
“Father,” said Arthur, “you seldom have me for an assistant now. I am neither tired nor busy to-night, and the sky is clear. Suppose we make a long watch.”
Dr. Sneyd was only too happy. He produced a light in one of his magical ways, and hung the shade on the lamp, while Arthur arranged his pens and paper, and laid his watch on the table. Dr. Sneyd took his place at the best telescope now in readiness, after various screwing and unscrewings, and shiftings of the moveable boards. Arthur meanwhile was cutting a pencil, with which he invited Temmy to draw beside him. Uncle Arthur thought Temmy would draw very well if he chose. In a little while nothing was to be heard but the brief directions of Dr. Sneyd to his secretary, and the ticking of the watch on the table.
Temmy was fast asleep, with his head resting on his drawing, when he was called from below, to go home.
“Just see him down the ladder,” said Dr. Sneyd.
“No, thank you, grandpapa; I can always get down.” In truth, Temmy always went down much more quickly than he came up.
The next time a cloud came in the way, Dr. Sneyd observed,
“Temple is ruining that boy. He will leave him no nerve,—no sense. What will his many thousand acres be worth to him without?”
“Do you think he will ever have those many thousand acres, sir?”
“I almost wish he may not. Perhaps his best chance would be in his being left to manage for himself in some such way as you have done, Arthur. Such a call on his energies would be the best thing for him, if it did not come too late.
Arthur had a strong persuasion that it might come at any time. He was by no means satisfied, that the many thousand acres were still Temple's. He was very sure that much of the gentleman's wealth must have evaporated during bis incessant transmutations of meadows into pleasure-grounds, and flower-gardens into shrubberies, and hot-houses into baths, and stables into picturesque cottages, and cottages into stables again. He was seldom seen three times on the same horse; and it was certain that the money he had locked up in land would never be productive while he remained its owner. Who would come and settle under such a proprietor, when land as good, and liberty to boot, was to be had elsewhere? Temple himself was contracting his cultivation every year. The more he laid out unproductively, the less remained to be employed productively. If Arthur had had one-tenth part of what Temple had wasted since he settled at Briery Creek, his days of anxiety and excessive toil might have been over long ago.
“It is all for the best, Arthur. You would not have been happy in the possession of Temple's money, subject to his caprices, poor man! Nobody is more easy than I am under pecuniary obligation; but all depends on the quarter whence it comes, and the purposes for which the assistance is designed. I accepted this observatory from you, you remember, when I knew that it cost you something to give up your time and labour to it; and I dare say I should have accepted the same thing from Temple, if he had happened to offer it, because, in such a case, the good of science could be the only object. But, if I were you, I would rather work my own way up in the world than connect myself with such a man as Temple. The first time he wanted something to fidget himself about, he would be for calling out of your hands all he had lent you.”
“One would almost bear such a risk,” said Arthur, “for the sake of the settlement. My poor sister makes the best of matters by talking everywhere of the quantity of labour her husband employs. But I think she must see that that employment must soon come to an end if no returns issue from it. I am sure I should be glad to employ much more labour, and in a way which would yield a maintenance for a still greater quantity next year, if I had the laying out of the money Temple wastes on his caprices. I am not complaining, father, on my own account. My hardest time is over, and I shall soon be doing as well as I could wish. I am now thinking of the interests of the place at large. It seems too hard that the richest man among us should at the same time keep away new settlers by holding more land than he can cultivate, waste his capital, instead of putting it out to those who would employ it for his and the common good, and praise himself mightily for his liberal expenditure, holding the entire community obliged to him for it, every time he buys a new luxury which will yield no good beyond his own selfish pleasure.”
“I am afraid you think the community has little to thank me for, Arthur? Perhaps, in our present state of affairs, the money I have ought to go towards tilling the ground, instead of exploring the heavens.”
“My dear sir, no. I differ from you entirely. You do not live beyond your income, nor—”
“Give your mother the credit of that, Arthur. But for her, my little property would have flown up to the moon long ago.”
“But, father, I was going to say that what I and others here produce is but the means of living, after all. It would be deplorable to sacrifice the end to them.”
“What end ? Do you mean the pleasure of star-gazing? I should be delighted to hear that.”
“Pleasure,—whether of star-gazing, or of any thing else that is innocent and virtuous,—that is really happiness. If Temple is really happy over his foreign wines, I am sure I have no more objection to his drinking them than to my men enjoying their cider. Let it be his end, if he is capable of no higher, as long as his pleasures do not consume more than his income. Much more may I be willing that you should enjoy your star-gazing, when out of the gratification to yourself arises the knowledge which ennobles human life, and the truth for which, if wc do not live now, we shall assuredly live hereafter.”
“I have always trusted, Arthur, that the means which have been bestowed upon me would not prove to be lost. Otherwise, I would have taken my axe on my shoulder, and marched off to the forest with you.”
“Father, it is for such as you that forests and prairies should be made to yield double, if the skill of man could ensure such fruitfulness. It is for such as you that the husbandman should lead forth his sons before the dawn, and instruct them to be happy in toiling for him whose light in yon high place is yet twinkling,—who has been working out God's truth for men's use while they slept.”
“Our husbandmen are not of the kind you speak of, Arthur. I see them look up as they pass, as if they thought this high chamber a folly of the same sort as Temple's Chinese alcove.”
“I think you mistake them, sir. I can answer for those with whom I have to do. They see all the difference between Temple's restless discontent and your cheerfulness. They see that he has no thought beyond himself, while you have objects of high and serious interest ever before your mind's eye; objects which, not comprehending, they can respect, because the issue is a manifestation of wisdom and benignity.”
“Enough! enough!” cried the doctor. “I have no complaint to make of my neighbours, I am sure. I should be a very ungrateful man, if I fancied I had. I am fully aware of the general disposition of men to venerate science, and to afford large aid to those who pursue it, on a principle of faith in its results. My belief in this is not at all shaken by what befel me in England; but, as I have appeared here accidentally,—a philosopher suddenly lighting in an infant community instead of having grown up out of it, it was fair to doubt the light in which I am regarded. If the people hated me as a magician, or despised me as an idle man, I think it would be no wonder.”
“I am glad you hold your faith, father, in the natural veneration of society for the great ends of human life. I believe it must be a strong influence, indeed, which can poison men's minds against their legislators, and philosophers, and other wise men who neither dig nor manufacture. I believe it must be such a silver tongue as never yet spoke that could persuade any nation that its philosophers are not its best benefactors.”
“True. It was not the English nation that drove me hither; and those who did it never complained of my pursuits,—only of what they supposed my principles. I wish I could bear all the sorrow of the mistake.”
“Be satisfied to let them bear some of it, father. It will help to guard them against a repetition of it. I am sure your own share is enough.”
“In one sense it is, Arthur. Do you know, I find myself somewhat changed. I perceive it when I settle myself down to my pursuits; and to a greater extent than I anticipated. It may be owing in part to the want of the facilities I had enjoyed for so many years, and never thought to part with more. I sometimes wonder whether I should be the same man again at home, among——But let all that pass. What I was thinking of, and what your mother and I oftenest think of, is the hardship of your having to bear a part,— so large a part in our misfortune. I should wonder to see you toiling as you do, from month to month,—(for I know that wealth is no great object with you,)—if I did not suspect——But I beg your pardon. I have no right to force your confidence.”
“Go on, father.”
“Well, to say the truth, I suspect that you left something more behind you than you gave us reason to suppose. If you had not come of your own free choice, this idea would have made both your mother and me very unhappy.”
“I have hopes that she will come, father. I have been waiting to tell you, only for a prospect of the time when I might go for her. Nothing is settled, or I would have told you long ago; but I have hopes.”
Dr. Sneyd was so long silent, thinking how easily the use of some of Temple's wasted money would have completed Arthur's happiness ere this, —benefiting Temple and the whole community at the same time,—that his son feared he was disappointed. He had no apprehension of his being displeased at any part of his conduct.
“I hoped tile prospect would have given you pleasure, father,” he said, in a tone of deep mortification.
“My dear son, so it does—the greatest satisfaction, I assure you; though, indeed, I do not know how you were to become aware of it with-out my telling you. I know my wife's opinion of her to be the same as my own. I only hope she will be to you all that may repay you for what you have been to us: indeed, I have no doubt of it.”
Arthur was perfectly happy; happy enough to observe that the clouds were parting, and that,—as science had been so lately pronounced the great end for which his father was living,—it was a pity his observations should not be renewed.
“If science be the great object we think it,” observed the doctor the next time he was obliged to suspend his labours, “it seems strange that it should be pursued by so few. At present, for one who devotes himself to the end, thousands look not beyond the mere means of living. I am not afraid to call it the end to you, though I would not have done so in my pulpit this morning without explanation. We understand one another.”
“Perfectly; that since the full recognition of truth is virtue, science is the true end. I hope, I believe, I discern the method by which more and more labour will be withdrawn from the means to be transferred to the end. For a long time past,—ever since I have been in the habit of comparing you and your pursuits with the people about you and their pursuits—ever since I came here,—I have been arriving at my present conviction, that every circumstance of our social condition,—the most trifling worldly interest of the meanest of us,—bears its relation to this great issue, and aids the force of tendency towards it.”
“You have come hither for something worth gaining, then: it is worth while to cross land and sea for such a conviction. Can I aid you with confirmation from the stars?”
“No doubt; for all knowledge, come whence it may,—from incalculable heights or unfathomable depths,—all new knowledge of the forces of nature affords the means of setting free a quantity of human labour to be turned to new purposes. In the infancy of the race, the mind had no instruments but the unassisted hands. By degrees, the aid of other natural forces was called in; by degrees, those forces have been overruled to more and more extended purposes, and further powers brought into subjection, setting free, at every new stage of acquisition, an immense proportion of human labour, and affording a glimpse, —almost too bright to be met by our yet feeble vision,—of times when material production—the means of living, shall be turned over to the machinery of nature, only superintended by man, whose life may then be devoted to science, ‘worthy of the name.’ which may, in its turn, have then become the means to some yet higher end than is at present within our ken.”
“In those days, then, instead of half-a-dozen labourers being virtuously employed in production for themselves and one unproductive philosopher, the six labourers will themselves have become philosophers, supported and cherished by the forces of nature, controlled by the intellect of perhaps one productive labourer.”
“Just so; the original philosopher being the cause of this easy production by his ascertainment of the natural forces in question. This result is merely the protraction of the process which has been going on from the earliest infancy of the race. If Noah, in his first moonlight walk upon Ararat, could have seen mirrored in the watery waste the long procession of gigantic powers which time should lead forth to pass under the yoke of man, would he not have decided (in his blindness to the new future of man) that nothing would be left for man to do?”
“Probably. And in order to exhibit to him the whole case, he must be carried forward to man's new point of view.”
“And so it will be with some second Noah, whose happier lot it shall be to see knowledge cover the earth, bearing on its bosom all that is worthy of the new heavens and new earth; while all that is unworthy of them is sunk and lost. By the agency of his gigantic servants he may be raised to that pinnacle of the universe whence he may choose to look forth again, and see what new services are appointed to man, and who are the guides and guardians allotted to his higher state.”
“And what will he behold?——But it is foolish to inquire. One must be there to know.”
“To know fully. But though we can but barely speculate upon what he will see, we may decidedly pronounce upon what he will not see. We cannot tell how many galaxies will be perceived to complete the circle of Nature's crown, nor what echoes of her diapason shall be wafted to the intent spirit. We cannot tell how near he may be permitted to approach to behold the evolution of a truth from apparent nothingness, as we are apt to fancy a seraph watches the creation of one of yonder worlds—first distinguishing the dim apparition of an orb emerging from the vacuum, then seeing it moulded into order, and animated with warmth, and invested with light, till myriads of adorers are attracted to behold it sent forth by the hand of silence on its everlasting way. We cannot tell to what depth man may then safely plunge, to repose in the sea-caves, and listen to the new tale that its thunders interpret, and collect around him the tributaries of knowledge that come thronging down the green vistas of ocean light. We cannot tell what way will be opened before him to the dim chambers of the earth, where Patience presides, while her slow and blind agents work in dumb concert from age to age, till, the hour being come, the spirit of the volcano, or the angel of the deluge, arrives to burst their prison-house. Of all these things we can yet have but a faint conception; but of some things which will not be we can speak with certainty.”
“That when these inanimate powers are found to be our best servants, the immortal mind of man will be released from the drudgery which may be better performed by them. Then, never more will the precious term of human life be spent in a single manual operation; never more will the elastic limbs of children grow rigid under one uniform and excessive exercise; never more will the spirit sit, self-gnawing, in the fetters to which it has been condemned by the tyranny of ignorance, which must have its gratifications. Then bellows may breathe in the tainted streams of our factories; and human lungs be spared, and men's dwellings be filled with luxuries, and no husband-man be reduced from his sovereignty of reason to a similitude with the cattle of his pastures. But much labour has already been set free by the employment of the agency of nature; and how little has been given to science!”
“It seems as if there must ever be an intermediate state between the discovery of an instrument and its application to its final use. I am far from complaining, as you know, of the nature of human demands being what it has been, as, from time to time, liberated industry has afforded a new supply. I am far from complaining that new graces have grown up within the domains of the rich, and that new notions of convenience require a larger satisfaction day by day. Even when I perceive that a hundred heads and hands are necessary to the furnishing forth of a gentleman's equipage, and that the wardrobe of a lady must consist of, at least, a hundred and sixty articles, I am far from wishing that the world should be set back to a period when men produced nothing but what was undeniably essential.”
“You would rather lead it on to the time when consumption will not be stimulated as it is at present?”
“When it shall be of a somewhat different kind. A perpetual stimulus seems to me to be provided for by labour being more and more set at liberty, since all the fruits of labour constitute at once the demand and the supply. But the desires and tastes which have grown up under a superabundance of labour and a dearth of science are not those which may be looked for when new science (which is as much the effect as the cause of new methods of production) shall have opened fresh worlds to human tastes. The spread of luxury, whether it be pronounced a good or an evil, is, I conceive, of limited duration. It has served, and it still serves, to employ a part of the race and amuse another part, while the transition is being made from one kind of simplicity to another,—from animal simplicity to intellectual simplicity.”
“The mechanism of society thus resembles the mechanism of man's art. What was done as a simple operation by the human arm, is effected as a complicated operation by instruments of wood and steel. But the time surely comes when this complexity is reduced, and the brute instrument is brought into a closer and a still closer analogy with the original human mechanism. The more advanced the art, the simpler the mechanism.”
“Just so. If, in respect of our household furniture, equal purposes of convenience are found to be answered by a smaller variety of articles, the industry which is thus released will be free to turn to the fine arts,—to the multiplication of objects which embody truth and set forth beauty, —objects which cannot be too extensively multiplied. If our ladies, at the same time, discover that equal grace and more convenience are attained by a simpler costume, a more than classical simplicity will prevail, and the toil of operatives will be transferred to some higher species of production.”
“We should lose no time, then, in making a list of the present essentials of a lady's wardrobe, to be preserved among the records of the race. Isaiah has presented one, which exhibits the maidens of Judea in their days of wealth. But I believe they are transcended by the damsels of Britain.”
“I am sure the British ladies transcend the Jewish in their method of justifying their luxury. The Jewesses were satisfied that they enjoyed luxury, and looked no farther. The modern ladies extol it as a social virtue,—except the few who denounce the very enjoyment of it as a crime. How long will the two parties go on disputing whether luxury be a virtue or a crime?”
“Till they cease to float themselves on the surface of morals on the support of old maxims of morality; till they look with their own eyes into the evidence of circumstance, and learn to make an induction for themselves. They will see that each side of the question has its right and its wrong; that there is no harm, but much good in enjoyment, regarded by itself; and that there is no good, but much harm in causing toil which tends to the extinction of enjoyment.”
“In other words, that Dr. B.'s pleasure in his picture gallery is a virtuous pleasure while he spends upon it only what he can well spare; and that Temple's hot-houses are a vicious luxury, if, as we suspect, he is expending upon them the capital on which he has taught his labourers to depend as a subsistence fund.”
“Exactly; and that the milk-maid may virtuously be married in the silk gown which her bridegroom thinks becoming, provided it is purchased with her surplus earnings; while an empress has no business with a yard of ribbon if she buys it after having parted with the last shilling of her revenue at the gaming-table. Silk is beautiful. If this were all, let every body wear silk; but if the consequence of procuring silk be more pain to somebody than the wearing of silk gives pleasure, it becomes a sin to wear silk. A thriving London tradesman may thus innocently dress his wife and nine daughters in Genoa velvet, while the spendthrift nobleman may do a guilty deed in arraying himself in a new fashion of silk hose.”
“Our countrywomen may be expected to defend all luxurious expenditure as a virtue, while their countrymen,—the greyheaded as well as youths,—are overheard extolling a war expenditure as a public good. Both proceed on the notion that benefit resides in mere consumption, instead of in the reproduction or in the enjoyment which results; that toil is the good itself, instead of the condition of the good, without which toil is an evil.”
“If war can be defended as a mode of expenditure by any but gunsmiths and army clothiers, there is no saying what curse we may not next find out to be a blessing. Of all kinds of unproductive consumption, that occasioned by war is the very worst. Life, and the means of life, are there extinguished together, and one might as well try to cause the resurrection of a slain army on the field of battle, as hope for any return to the toil of the labourers who equipped them for the strife. The sweat of the artisan falls as fruitless as the tears of the widow and orphan. For every man that dies of his wounds abroad, there is another that pines in hunger at home. The hero of to-day may fancy his laurels easily won; but he ought to know that his descendants of the hundredth generation will not have been able to pay the last farthing of their purchase-money.”
“And this is paid, not so much out of the luxuries of the rich as the necessaries of the poor. It is not so much one kind of unproductive consumption being exchanged for another as a productive consumption being stinted for the sake of an unproductive. The rich may contribute some of their revenue to the support of a war, but the middling classes give,—some a portion of their capital, and others the revenue of which they would otherwise make capital,—so that even if the debts of a war were not carried forward to a future age, the evil consequences of an abstraction of capital are.”
“It appears, however, as if unproductive consumption was much lessened at home during a war. One may see the difference in the very aspect of the streets in London, and yet more in the columns of newspapers. Puffing declines as soon as a war breaks out,—not that puffing is a sign of any thing but a glut of the article puffed, —but this decline of puffing signifies rather a cessation of the production of the community than such a large demand as needs no stimulating.”
“Yes; one may now see in London fire-arms or scarlet cloth exhibited at the windows of an establishment where, during the peace, might be found ‘the acmè of paper-hanging;’ and where might formerly be had floor-cloth of a marvellous number of yards without seam, whose praises were blazoned in large letters from the roof to the ground, ball cartridges are piled, and gun powder stands guarded, day and night. Since gluts work their own cure, and puffing comes of gluts, puffing is only a temporary absurdity. Long may it be before we are afflicted with it here!”
“Afflicted?—Well! looked at by itself, perhaps it is an affliction, as all violations of truth, all exhibitions of folly, are; but one may draw pleasure too from every thing which is a sign of the times.”
“O, yes; there is not only the strong present pleasure of philosophising on states of society, but every indication of what it serves to the thinker, at the same time, as a prophecy of better things that shall be. But, do you not find it pleasanter to go to worship, as we went this morning, through green pastures and by still waters, where human industry made its appeals to us in eloquent silence, and men's dwellings bore entire the aspect of sabbath repose, than to pass through paved streets, with a horizon of brick-walls, and tokens on every side, not only of week day labour, but of struggle for subsistence, and subservience for bread? The London shop-keepers do not remove their signs on a Sunday. If one catches a glimpse here and there of a spectacled old gentleman reading his Bible in the first-floor parlour, or meets a train of spruce children issuing from their father's door at the sound of the church-bell, one sees, at the same time, that their business is to push the sale of floor-cloth without seam, and to boast of the acmè of paper-hanging.”
“There may be more immediate pleasure in the one Sabbath walk than in the other, Arthur, but they yield, perhaps, equally the aliment of piety. Whatever indicates the condition of man, points out, not only the species of duty owing to man, but the species of homage due to God.— the character of the petitions appropriate to the season. All the methods of going to worship may serve the purpose of preparation for the sanctuary. The nobleman may lean back in his carriage to meditate; the priest may stalk along in reverie, unconscious of all around him; the citizen-father may look with pride on the train of little ones with whom he may spend the leisure of this day; and the observing philanthropist may go forth early and see a thousand incidents by the way, and all may alike enter the church-door with raised and softened hearts.”
“And all listen with equal faith to the promise of peace on earth and good-will to men?”
“Yes, and the observer not the least, if he observe for holy purposes.”
“O, father, think of the gin-shop and the news-office that he must pass by the way! They are infinitely worse than the visible puffery. Think of the thronged green-grocer's shop, where yon may see a widow in her soiled weeds, flushed with drink, careless of the little ones that cling to her gown, hungering as they are for the few potatoes which are all she can purchase after having had her morning dram!—Think of the father cheapening the refuse of the Saturday's market, and passing on, at last, wondering when his pale family will again taste meat! Think of the insolent footmen, impeding the way to the church-door, while they amuse themselves with the latest record of licentiousness in the paper of the day!”
“I have often seen all this, Arthur, and have found in it——”
“Nothing that necessarily hardens the heart, I know; on the contrary, the compassion excited is so painful that devotion is at times the only refuge. But as for the congeniality——”
“What is the value of faith, if it cannot assimilate all things to itself? And as for Christian faith, where and amidst what circumstances did it arise? Was it necessary, in going up to the temple, to overlook the blind beside the way, and to stop the ears when the contention of brethren was heard, and to avoid the proud Pharisee and the degraded publican? Was the repose of the spirit broken when an adultress entered the sacred precincts? Were the avenues to the temple blocked up that the holy might worship in peace? And when they issued forth, were they sent home to their closets, forbidden to look to the right hand or to the left for fear of defilement?”
“If so, it was by order of the Pharisees. You are right, father. The holiest did not even find it necessary to resort to mountain solitudes, or to the abodes of those who were pure as themselves, for the support of their faith or the repose of their devotion. Aliment for piety was found at the table of the publican, and among the sufferers beside Bethesda. To the pure every emotion became a refining process, and whatever was not found congenial was made so. It may certainly be the same with the wise and the benignant of every age.”
“It is indeed a halting faith which dreads as common that which God has cleansed and sanctified; and where is God's own mark to be recognized but in the presence of joy and sorrow, of which he is the sole originator and distributor? Whatever bears a relation to joy and sorrow is a call to devotion; and no path to the sanctuary is more sacred than another, while there are traces of human beings by the way.”
“You prefer then the pastures which tell of our prosperity to the wilds of the prairie; and I observed that you dwelt upon the portraits of familiar faces before you left your study this morning.”
“I did; and many a time have I dwelt quite as earnestly on strange faces in which shone no friendship for me, and no consciousness of the objects of the day. I read in their human countenance,—human, whether it be vile or noble,— the promise, that as all things are for some use, and as all men contribute while all have need, the due distribution will in time be made, causes of contention be done away, and the sources of social misery be dried up, so that——”
“So that we may, through all present dismay and vicissitude, look forward to ultimate peace on earth and good-will towards men. Yes, all things are of use to some, from the stalk of flax that waves in my field below, to Orion now showing himself as the black cloud draws off,—all for purposes of support to body or mind,—all, whether appropriated, or left at large because they cannot be appropriated. Let us hope that each will, at length, have his share; and as Providence has placed no limit to the enjoyment of his gifts but that of food, we may learn so to understand one another's desires as mutually to satisfy them; so that there may not be too much of one thing to the injury of some, and too little of another thing, to the deprivation of more.”
“If we could but calculate the present uses of any one gift!” said Dr. Sneyd, smiling; “but this is a task for the philosophers of another age, or another state. I would fain know how many living beings are reposing or pasturing on your flax-stalk, and how much service will be rendered in the course of the processes it has to go through. I would fain know how many besides ourselves are drawing from yonder constellation knowledge and pleasure.”
“More than there are stars in the heaven, besides the myriads that have their home in one or other of its worlds. What more knowledge are we to derive to-night?”
And Arthur returned to his seat and his task, which he had quitted while the sky was clouded. His father observed, with surprise, how far the twinkling lights had travelled from their former place.
“It is later than I thought, Arthur,” said he. “I ought not to have kept you so long from your rest, busy as your days are.”
Arthur was quite disposed to go on, till sunrise, if his father wished to take advantage of his services. He must meet his men very early in the dewy morning to mow, and the night was now so far advanced that it would be as well to watch it out. Dr. Sneyd was very thankful for his aid. When they had satisfied themselves that the household were gone to rest, and had replenished the lamp, nothing but brief directions and the ticking of the watch was again heard in this upper chamber till the chirping of birds summoned the mower to fetch his scythe.
The true cause of Mr. Temple's Sunday headache was spleen at the occurrence of the morning. That Dr. Sneyd should preach, and in a market-house, and that soldiers should come some miles to hear him was, he declared, a perfect scandal to the settlement. He could not countenance it.
The scandal continued, without the countenance of the scrupulous gentleman, till the autumn, when the reason of certain magnificent doings at Temple Hall began to be apparent. Probably the only persons who could have told what all this new building meant were forbidden to do so, as Mrs. Sneyd could never obtain a word from her daughter in return for all her conjectures about what the Lodge was to grow into at last, the builders having no sooner done one task than they had to set about another. There was infinite hurry and bustle about these last additions. Workmen were brought from a distance to relieve those on the spot, that no part of the long summer days might be lost. Wall rose above wall; beam followed beam from the forest, and planks issued from the sawpit with marvellous speed. One would have thought the President was expected on a visit before winter; and, in fact, a rumour was current in the village that some new capitalists were coming to look about them, and were to be tempted to abide on some of the great man's lands. This seemed the more probable as a substantial house was being built in the Lodge grounds, besides the new wing (as it appeared to be) of the mansion itself. Every body agreed that this house must be intended for somebody.
The truth burst forth, one day late in the autumn, that seats instead of partitions were being put up in the new building, and that the windows were to be unlike those of the rest of the house:—in short, that it was to be a chapel. The servants spread abroad the fact that company was expected in a few days; to stay, they believed, all the winter.—Ay! till the new house should be ready, every body supposed. Meantime, Mrs. Temple said nothing more to her family than that friends of Mr. Temple's were shortly coming to stay at the Lodge. She had never seen them, and knew but little about them:—hoped they might prove an acquisition to her father:—depended upon Arthur's civillties, if he should have it in his power,—and so forth.
It was seldom that Mr. Temple called on his father-in-law,—especially in the middle of the day, when less irksome things could be found to do; but, one bright noon, he was perceived approaching the house, driving the barouche, in which were seated two ladies and a gentleman, besides the heir of Temple Lodge. Dr. Sneyd stepped out of his low window into the garden, and met them near the gate, where he was introduced to the Rev. Ralph Hesselden, pastor of Briery Creek, and Mrs. Hesselden.
The picturesque clergyman and his showy lady testified all outward respect to the venerable old man before them. They forgot for a moment what they had been told of his politics being “sad, very sad; quite deplorable,” — and remembered only that he was the father of their hostess. It was not till a full half hour after that they became duly shocked at a man of his powers having been given over to the delusions of human reason, and at his profaneness in having dared to set up for a guide to others while he was himself blinded in the darkness of error. There was so little that told of delusion in the calm simplicity of the doctor's countenance, and something so unlike profaneness and presumption it his mild and serious manners, that it was not surprising that his guests were so long in discovering the evil that was in him.
Mrs. Sneyd was busy about a task into which she put no small share of her energies. She had heard that nothing that could be eaten was half so good as pomegranate preserve, well made. In concert with Arthur, she had grown promegranates with great success, and she was this morning engaged in preserving them; using her utmost skill, in the hope that if it should prove an impossible thing to make her husband care for one preserve rather than another while he was in health, this might be an acceptable refreshment in case of sickness; or that, at least, Temmy would relish the luxury; and possibly Temple himself be soothed by it in one of the fits of spleen with which he was apt to cloud the morning meal.—The mess was stewing, and the lady sipping and stirring, when her husband came to tell her who had arrived, when to request her to appear;—came instead of sending, to give her the opportunity of removing all traces of mortification before she entered the room.
“Mr. and Mrs. Who?—a pastor? what, a methodist?—chaplain at the Lodge, and pastor of Briery Creek?—My dear, this is aimed at you.”
“One can hardly say that, as I only preached because there was no one else.—I must not stay. You will come directly, my dear.”
“I do not see how I can, my dear,”—glancing from her husband to her stewpan, under a sense of outraged affection with respect to both of them. “To take one so by surprise! I am sure it was done on purpose.”
“Then let us carry it off with as little consternation as we can. Peggy will take your place.”
“And spoil all I have been doing, I know. And my face is so scorched, I am not fit to be seen.—I'll tell you what, my dear,” she went on, surrendering her long spoon to Peggy, and whisking off her apron,—“if I appear now, I will not go and hear this man preach. I cannot be expected to do that.”
“We will see about that when Sunday comes” the doctor turned back to say, as he hastened back to the party who were amusing themselves with admiring the early drawings of Mrs. Temple, which hung against the walls of her mother's parlour. The doctor brought in with him a literary journal of a later date than any which had arrived at the Lodge, and no one suspected that he had been ministering to his wife's good manners. Mrs. Temple was in pain for what might follow the introduction.
There was no occasion for her inward tremors, nor for Dr. Sneyd's quick glance at his wife over his spectacles. Mrs. Sneyd might be fully trusted to preserve her husband's dignity. She instantly appeared,—so courteous and self-possessed that no one could have perceived that she had been hurried. The scorched cheeks passed with the strangers for the ruddy health attendant on a country life, and they benevolently rejoiced that she seemed likely to have some time before her yet, in which to retract her heresies, and repent of all that she had believed and acted upon through life. It was cheering to think of the safety that might await her, if she should happily survive the doctor, and come under their immediate guidance.
The ladies were left to themselves while Temple was grimacing (as he did in certain states of nervousness) and whipping the shining toe of his right boot, and the other gentleman making the plunge into science and literature in which the doctor always led the way when he could lay hold of a man of education. One shade of disappointment after another passed over his countenance when he was met with questions whether one philosopher was not pursuing his researches into regions whence many bad returned infidels,—with conjectures whether an eminent patriot was not living without God in the world,— and with doubts whether a venerable philanthropist might still be confided in, since he had gone hand in hand in a good work with a man of doubtful seriousness. At last, his patience seemed to be put to the proof, for his daughter heard him say,
“Well, sir, as neither you nor I are infidels, nor likely to become so, suppose we let that matter pass. Our part is with the good tidings of great deeds doing on the other side of the world. The faith of the doers is between themselves and their God.”
“But, sir, consider the value of a lost soul—”
“I have so much hope of many souls being saved by every measure of wise policy and true philanthropy, that I cannot mar my satisfaction by groundless doubts of the safety of the movers. Let us take advantage of the permission to judge them by their fruits, and then, it seems to me, we may make ourselves very easy respecting them. Can you satisfy me about this new method,— it is of immense importance—of grinding lenses”
Mr. Hesselden could scarcely listen further, so shocked was he with the doctor's levity and laxity in being eager about bringing new worlds within human ken, while there seemed to the pious a doubt whether the agents of divine wisdom and benignity would be cared for by him who sent them.—Mr. Hesselden solemnly elevated his eyebrows, as he looked towards his wife; and the glance took effect. The lady began inquiring of Mrs. Sneyd respecting the spiritual affairs of the settlement. She hoped the population had a serious turn.
“Why, Madam,” replied Mrs. Sneyd, “every thing has so conduced to sober the minds of our neighbours, that there has been little room yet for frivolity among us. The circumstances of hardship, of one kind or another, that led us all from our old homes were very serious; and it is a serious matter to quit country and family and friends; and the first casting about for subsistence in a new land is enough to bring thought into the wildest brain; and now, when we have gathered many comforts about us, and can thank Providence with full hearts, we are not at liberty for idleness and levity. I assure you that Dr. Sneyd has had to enlarge more against anxiety for the morrow than against carelessness or vain-glory.”
“I rejoice to hear it. This is good as far as it goes. But I was inquiring about more important affairs.”
“In more important matters still, I hope you will find much that is encouraging. We are naturally free from the vices of extreme wealth or poverty. Among the few whose labours have proved fruitful, there is a sobriety of manners which I think will please you; and none are so poor as to be tempted to dishonesty, or driven into recklessness. The cry of 'stop thief' has never been heard in Briery Creek, and you will neither meet a drunken man nor a damsel dressed in tawdy finery.—By the way, Louisa,” she continued, addressing her daughter, “I am sorry there Is any difficulty about Rundell's getting more land, and Chapman's setting up a general store. I have some fears that as our neighbours' earnings increase, we may see them spent in idle luxuries, unless there is a facility in making a profitable investment.”
“Where is the difficulty, ma'am?” asked Mrs. Temple. “If Rundell wants land, I rather think Mr. Temple has plenty for him.”
“I understand not.”
Mrs. Temple was about to argue the matter on the ground of her husband's thousands of uncultivated acres, but recollecting that there might be more in the matter than was apparent to her, she stopped short, and there was a pause.—At length, Mrs. Hesselden, turning the fullest aspect of her enormous white chip bonnet on Mrs. Sneyd, supposed that as the neighbourhood was so very moral, there were no public amusements in Briery Creek.
“I am sorry to say there are none at present. Dr. Sneyd and my son begin, next week, a humble attempt at a place of evening resort; and now that Mr. Hesselden will be here to assist them, I hope our people will soon be provided with a sufficiency of harmless amusement.”
“You begin next week ?—A prayer meeting ?” asked the lady, turning to Mrs. Temple. Mrs. Temple believed not.
“We have our meetings for intercourse on the subjects you refer to,” replied Mrs. Sneyd; “but I understood you to be inquiring about places of amusement. My son presented the settlement with a cricket ground lately.”
“A cricket ground, was it?” said Mrs. Temple. “I thought it had been a bleaching ground. I understood, it was the ladies of the place who were to be the better for his bounty.”
“That is true also. The same ground serves the washers on the Monday morning, and the cricketers on the Saturday afternoon. You must know, Mrs Hesselden, there is much trouble here in getting soap enough,—and also candles,—for the purposes of all. There is some objection, I find, to a general store being set up; so that only the richer of our neighbours can obtain a regular supply of certain necessary articles; and the poorer ones are just those who find it most expensive and troublesome to make all the soap and candles they want. My son, knowing how much consumption is saved by association, as he says, had a view to these poorer settlers in opening the bleaching ground. They are truly glad to get their linen washed twice as well in the field as at home, and at half the expense of soap. They are very willing to clear the place for the cricketers three afternoons in the week; and are already beginning to pay off the cost incurred for the shed, with the boilers and troughs. I really hardly know; which is the prettiest sight,— the games of the active young men, when they forget the worldly calculations which are apt to engross new settlers too much,—or the merry maidens in the field at noon, spreading out linen and blankets of a whiteness that would be envied by most of the professional laundresses that I have known.”
“All these things,” observed Mrs. Hesselden, “are of inferior consequence. I mean——”
“Very true: I mention them chiefly as signs of the times—not as the limit to which our improvements have extended. We are anxious to provide a reading-room for the youths, at the same time that we open our school. My daughter has no doubt told you about the school which she is helping to form. We find that the newspapers and journals which were always deposited in the cricket-ground were so much relished by the players in the intervals of their games, that Dr. Sneyd and my son have determined to light up and warm the school-house every evening during the winter, to be the resort of all who choose to go. Dr. Sneyd carries there the humble beginning of a museum of natural history, which it must be the care of our neighbours to improve. They can easily do so by exchanging the productions of our forest and prairie for what may be obtained from the societies Dr. Sneyd is connected with in England and France, All the publications sent to us will find their way to the school-house; and when the snow comes to enable a sleigh to bring us the packages of glass we have been waiting for these eight months, the doctor will erect his large telescope, and send an inferior one down to the village for the use of his star-gazing neighbours.”
Observing Mrs. Hesselden's supercilious silence, Mrs. Sneyd proceeded, smiling,
“I have had my share in the ordering of the affair, and have carried two points, nem. con. The women are allowed as free ingress as their husbands and brothers. I mentioned that candles were scarce, and you do not need to be told that much sewing must be done in our households. By bringing their work to the school-house, (which is within a stone's throw of most of the doors,) many of our hard-working mothers and daughters will be spared the trouble and expense of making above half as many candles as if each must have one burning during the whole of the long evenings of winter. What is more important,—they will the benefit of the reading and other amusements that may be going on. My other point is the dancing. I told Dr. Sneyd that if he carried a telescope, and made them chill themselves with star-gazing, I must beg leave to carry a fiddle for them to warm their feet by when they had done. Two fiddlers have turned up already, and there are rumours of a flute-player; and I have half promised my grandchild to lead off the first dance, if he will persuade my son to take me for a partner.”
Mrs. Hesselden hoped that others would also be allowed to carry their points, and then there would be prayer on meeting and parting in the school-house. If it should be found that such an exercise was incompatible with the dancing part of the scheme, she trusted Mrs. Sneyd saw which must give way.”
Mrs. Sneyd would advocate no practice which was incompatible with religious duty. In the present case, she thought that the only concession required was that each exercise should have its proper season. None of the usual objections to dancing would hold good here, she continued. No shivering wretches stood without, while the rich were making merry. There was no inducement to extravagance, and no room for imprudence, and no encouragement to idleness. There was no scope for these vices among the working-class of Briery Creek, and dancing was to them (what it would be in many another place, if permitted) an innocent enjoyment, a preventive of much solitary self-indulgence, and a sweetener of many tempers. In a society whose great danger was the growth of a binding spirit of worldliness, social mirth was an antidote which no moralist would condemn, and which he would not dare to despise.
Mrs. Hesselden, fearing that she could never make Mrs. Sneyd comprehend how much more she and her husband were than mere moralists, quitted the subject till she could explain to Mrs. Temple on the way home, that though the presence of the Sneyds had undoubtedly been of great use in fostering a morality which was better than nothing, yet it was evidently high time that more should be added, and certainly a great blessing to Briery Creek that her husband and she had arrived to breathe inspiration into the social mass which was now lying,—if not dead,— yet under the shadow of death.
Mrs. Sneyd found time, before returning to her pomegranates, to take a last wondering look at the immensity of Mrs. Hesselden's chip bonnet, as it floated, splendid in its variegated trimming, over the shrubs in her passage to the garden gate.
“I can never make out,” she observed to her husband, “why so many of these very strict religious people dress so luxuriously as they do. Here is this lady,—infinitely scandalized, I perceive, at our having introduced dancing,— dressed after such a fashion as our maidens never saw before. If they begin to bedizen themselves with the money which might be spent profitably in increasing the means of subsistence, or innocently in procuring substantial comforts which are now difficult to be had, I shall lay the blame on Mrs. Hesselden's bonnet. I remember observing that I never saw so splendid a show-room for dress as the new church we attended, in—— street, the Sunday before we left London. It is very odd.”
“Not more strange, my dear, than that the Friends should addict themselves much to the furnishing their houses with expensive furniture, and their tables with more costly and various foods than other people. Not more strange than that Martin, the Methodist, should turn strolling player when he gave up his methodism; or that the Irish betake themselves to rebellion when stopped in their merry-makings; or that the English artizan takes to the gin-shop when the fiddle is prohibited in the public-house. Not more strange, my dear, than that the steam of your kettle should come out at the lid, if you stop up the spout, or than that”
“O, you put me in mind of my preserves! But how did you think Louisa looked to-day?”
“Not very well. There was a something—I do not know what——”
“Well, I wondered whether you would observe. It may be the contrast of Mrs. Hesselden's dress that made me remark the thing so much. It really vexed me to see Louisa so dressed. That collar was darned like any stocking-heel; and how she got her bonnet ribbons dyed in this place, I cannot think. What can be the meaning of her being so shabby? It is so contrary to her taste,—unless she has taken up a new taste, for want of something to do.”
Dr. Sneyd shook his head. He knew that Temple left his lady no lack of something to do. Temmy had also dropped a piece of information about wax candles lately, which convinced the doctor that the lady at the Hall was now compelled to economize to the last degree in her own expenditure, whatever indulgence might still be afforded to her tyrant's tastes.
“He looks wretchedly too,” observed Mrs. Sneyd. “Not all his spruceness could hide it, if he was as spruce as ever. But there is a change in him too. One might almost call his ensemble slovenly to-day, though it would be neatness itself in many another man. I believe he half kills himself with snuff. He did nothing but open and shut his box to-day. So much snuff must be very bad for a nervous man like him.”
“Do you know, my dear,” said the doctor, “I have been thinking lately whether we are not all rather hard upon that poor man——Yes, yes, I know. I am not going to defend, only to excuse him a little. I am as unhappy as you can be about all that Louisa has to go through with him, and about his spoiling that poor boy for life, —doing all that can be done to make him a dolt. But I am sure the man suffers—suffers dreadfully.”
“Nay, you need but look in his face to see whether he is a happy man or not; but what his ailments are, I do not pretend to say. His nerves torture him, I am certain—”
Mrs. Sneyd insinuated speculations about indulgence in brandy, opium, spices, &c., and about remorse, fear, and the whole demon band of the passions. Dr. Sneyd's conjecture was that Temple's affairs were in an unsatisfactory condition, and that this trouble, acting on the mind of a coward, probably drove him to the use of sufficient stimulus to irritate instead of relieving him. Great allowance, he insisted, should be made for a man in so pitiable a state, even by the parents of his wife. This was so effectually admitted by the good lady, that she not only sent a double portion of pomegranate preserve to the Lodge, but restrained her anger when she heard that Rundell could not obtain liberty to invest as he pleased the capital he had saved, owing to Temple's evil influence at tile land-office; and that Arthur's interests were wantonly injured by his interference. Arthur had taken great pains to secure a supply of fresh meat and fresh butter for the approaching winter; and besides the hope of profit from his fine sheep and cows, he had the assurance of the gratitude of his neighbours, who had grown heartily weary of salt pork and salt butter the winter before. But Mr. Temple now set up a grand salting establishment; and made it generally understood that only those who were prudent enough to furnish themselves with his cheap salt provision, rather than Mr. Sneyd's dear mutton, should have his custom in the market, and his countenance at the land office. Arthur's first-slain sheep had to be eaten up by his father's household and his own; and it was a piece of great forbearance in Mrs. Sneyd, when she heard that Arthur meant to kill no more mutton, to say only, “The poor little man punishes nobody so much as himself. I do not see how he can relish his own fresh mutton very much, while he prevents other people having any.”
“He cannot altogether prevent that, mother,” said Arthur. “He may prevent mutton bearing any price in the market, and cut off my gains; but we may still slay a sheep now and them for ourselves; and find neighbours who will quietly make such an exchange of presents as will take off what we cannot consume. But I wish I could see an end of this dictation,—this tyranny.”
“It does seem rather strange to have come to a land of freedom to be in the power of such a despot. I wonder the people do not shake him off, and send him to play the tyrant farther in the wilds.”
“They are only waiting till his substance is all consumed, I fancy. He has such a hold over the investments of some, and finds so much employment for the labour of others, that they will submit to everything for a time. But his hour will come, if he does not beware.”
“It may be all very well for those who have investments to take time to extricate their capital from his grasp,” said Mrs. Sneyd; “but as for the builders and gardeners he employs, I think they would be wiser if they carried their labour where they might depend on a more lasting demand for it. Anybody may see that if he spends more every year in undoing what he did the year before, his substance must soon come to an end, and his labourers become his creditors. If I were they, I would rather go and build barns that are paid for by the preservation of the corn that is in them, and till fields that will maintain the labour of tillage, and set more to work next year, than turn round a fine house from south to west, and from west to south, and change shrubberies into lawns, and lawns into flower-gardens, knowing that such waste must come to an end.”
“But some do not believe that it is waste, mother. They see the money that pays them still in existence, still going the round of the market; and they talk (as some people in England do about royal palaces, and spendthrift noblemen's establishments) of the blessing of a liberal expenditure, and the patriotism of employing so much labour.”
“Which would be all very well if the labourers lived upon the sight of the money they are paid with. But, as long as that money is changed many times over for bread and clothing, which all disappears in the process, it is difficult to make out that anything is gained but the pleasure,— which may be justifiable or not, according to the circumstances of the employers. In the end, the money remains as it was before, and instead of so much food and clothing, there is a royal palace. If you do not like your palace, and pull it down and rebuild it, the money exists as before, and for a double quantity of food and clothing, you still have a palace.”
“The wrong notion you speak of arises partly,” said Dr. Sneyd, “from a confusion between one sort of unproductive expenditure and another. People hear of its being a fine thing to employ a crowd of labourers in making a new line of road, or building a bridge, and they immediately suppose it must be a patriotic thing to employ a crowd of labourers in building any thing.”
“I think they might perceive that, though corn does not grow on a high road, that, nor bridges yield manufactures, the value of corn lauds may be doubled by opening a way to a new market, and that an unused water power may begin to yield wealth from the moment that there is a bridge over which buyers may come for it. It is a misfortune to Briery Creek that Temple is more of a selfish palace-fancier than a patriotic bridge and road maker.”
The first Sunday of the opening of the chapel, Temple appeared in a character which he had only once before attempted to support. On the occasion of using the market-house for service, he had approached the door, cast a glance within upon the company of soldiers, and the village population at their worship, while their aged friend was leading their devotions, and hastily departed, thankful that he was too pious to join in such a service as this. He took the part of a religious man that day, and now was the time for him to resume the character. Under the idea that the market-house might be opened as usual for Dr. Sneyd, making his own appear like an opposition place of worship, he spared no pains to secure a majority in point of audience. He had managed to ride past the military post, and be gracious with the soldiers. His domestics puffed gracious the chapel and chaplain at market, the day before, and the leading villagers received intimation of good sittings being appropriated to them. These pains might have been spared. All who desired might know that Dr. Sneyd, his wife, son, and servants intended to be present, as a matter of course.
When they entered, Temple looked nearly as much surprised as if they had at the moment arrived from England. He made a prodigious bustle about having them accommodated in a seat next his own, and condescendingly sent them books, and inquired into the sufficiency of hassocks. During the greater part of the service he stood up, as if he could not listen with sufficient attention while sitting, like other people. Yet he cleared his throat if any body moved, and sent his pert glance into every corner to command a reverential demeanour, while his chaplain was enforcing, as the prime glory and charm of a place of worship, that there, and there alone, all are equal and all are free. Little Ephraim cowered behind the coachman while the preacher insisted that here the humblest slave might stand erect on the ground of his humanity; and the butler stepped on tiptoe half way down the aisle to huff Jenkins the ditcher for coming so high up, at the very moment that something was quoted about a gold ring and purple raiment in the synagogue.
It was true the preacher and his message had not so good a chance of being attended to as they might have on future Sundays. The bustle produced by the anticipation of the occasion did not subside on the arrival of the occasion. The fine large chip bonnets had been procured, and the trimming and sending them home had been achieved by the Saturday night. But it remained to wear them for the first time: not only to support the consciousness of a new piece of finery, but to compare the fine bonnets with the shabby head-gear of other people, with each other, and, finally, with Mrs. Hesselden's. Then, while Mrs. Dods was thus contemplating the effect of her own peculiar species of architecture, her husband could not but look round him, and remember that every individual brick of this pile had been fashioned by himself and his lads. The builder scanned the measurements of the windows and the ceiling. Two or three boys and girls shuffled their feet on the matting which their mother had woven. A trader from the north gradually made up his mind to approach the ladies after service, for the purpose of recommending fur pouches for the feet during the severe season that was approaching. The Brawnees, unincumbered by any thing beyond their working-day apparel, were among the best listeners. Temmy was so alarmed at the prospect of having to give his father, for the first time, an account of the sermon, that he could not have taken in a word of it, even if he had not been miserable at seeing the tears coursing one another down his mother's cheeks during the whole time of the service. Her left hand hung by her side, but he did not dare to touch it. He looked at Mrs. Hesselden to try to find out whether she thought his mother was ill; or whether the sermon was affecting; or whether this was the consequence of something that had been said at breakfast against grandpapa. Grandpapa seemed to be listening very serenely to the sermon, and that was a better comfort than Mrs, Hesselden's countenance,— so grave, that Temmy feared to provoke a cross word if he looked at her again.
It was not known, till the ladies of the village ranged themselves round the work-table in the school-house, one chilly evening, soon afterwards, how great bad been the bustle of preparation before the fine chip bonnets made their appearance in the chapel. All hearts, even those of rival milliners, were laid open by the sight of the roaring wood fire, the superior candles, the hearty welcome and the smiling company that awaited them as they dropped in at the place of entertainment,—the women with their sewing apparatus, and their husbands and brothers ready for whatever occupation might have been devised for their leisure evening hours. While these latter crowded round the little library, to see of what it consisted, the sewers placed their benches round the deal table, snuffed their candies, and opened their bundles of work. Mrs. Dods made no mystery of her task. She was cutting up a large chip bonnet to make two small hats for her youngest boy and girl, owning that, not having calculated on any one else attempting to gratify the rage for imitating Mrs. Hesselden, she had injured her speculation by overstocking the market. The lawyer's lady had been reckoned upon as a certain customer; but it turned out,— however true that the lawyer's lady must have a chip bonnet,—that the builder's wife had just then entered upon a rivalship with the brickmaker's wife, and had stuck up at her window bonnets a trifle cheaper than those of Mrs. Dods. It only remained for Mrs. Dods to show how pretty her little folks looked in hats of the fashionable material, in hopes that the demand might spread to children.
“If it does, Mrs. Dods, Martha Jenkins will have the same reason to complain of you that you have to complain of being interfered with. It is unknown the trouble that Jenkins has had, following the river till he came to the beavers, and then hunting them, and preparing their skins at home, and all that, while Martha spared no pains to make beaver hats for all the boys and girls in the place. It will be rather hard if you cut her out.”
“And you can do it only by lowering your price ruinously,” observed Mrs. Sneyd. “I should think any mother in Briery Creek would rather keep her child's ears from freezing by putting on her a warm beaver, than dress her out prettily in a light chip, at this season. Nothing but a great difference in price can give yours the preference, I should think, Mrs. Dods.”
“Then such a difference there must be,” Mrs. Dods replied. “I had rather sell my article cheap than not sell it at all. Another time I shall take care how I run myself out at elbows in providing for a new fashion among the ladies.”
Mrs. Sneyd thought that those were engaged in the safest traffic who dealt in articles in the commonest use,—who looked for custom chiefly from the lower, i.e. the larger classes of the people. From their, numbers, those classes are always the greatest consumers; and, from the regularity of their productive industry, they are also the most regular consumers. It seemed probable that the demand for Martha Jenkins's beavers would prove superior in the long run to that for Mrs. Dods's varied supply, though poor Martha might suffer for a while from the glut of chips which occasioned loss to all sellers of bonnets, at present, and gain to all sellers of whatever was given in exchange for bonnets. Fat for candles was scarcely to be had since Temple had discouraged the sale of fresh meat. Mrs. Dods was deplorably in want of candles. She made a bargain with a neighbour for some in return for the hat now under her hands. How few she was to receive, it vexed her to think; but there was no help for it till somebody should supply the deficiency of candles, or till new heads should crave covering.
It now appeared that the ladies were not the only persons who had brought their work. When it came to be decided who should be the reader, it was unanimously agreed that some one who had no employment for his hands should undertake the office. Dods had leathern mittens to make for the less hardy of the woodsmen. Others occupied themselves in platting straw, making mops, cutting pegs to be employed in roofing, and cobbling shoes. Arthur drew sketches for Temmy to copy. Such was always the pretence for Arthur's drawings; but a neighbour who cast a peep over his shoulder, from time to time, could not help thinking that the sketch was of the present party, with Dr. Sneyd in the seat of honour by the fire-side, Mrs. Sneyd knitting in the shadow, that the full benefit of the candles might be yielded to those whose occupation required It; Isaac, who had received the honour of the first appointment as reader, holding his book rather primly, and pitching his voice in a key which seemed to cause a tendency to giggle among some of the least wise of his auditors; and, lastly, the employed listeners, as they sat in various postures, and in many lights, as the blaze from the logs now flickered low, and now leaped up to lighten all the room. Each of these was suspected to be destined to find a place in Arthur's sketch.
It was a pity Temmy was not here to take a drawing lesson, his uncle thought. These evening meetings afforded just the opportunity that was wanted; for Arthur could seldom find time to sit down and make his little nephew as good an artist as he believed he might become. It was not till quite late, when the party would have begun dancing if some one had not given a broad hint about the doctor's telescope, that Temmy appeared. Nobody heard his steed approach the door, and every body wondered to see him. It was thought that Mr. Temple would have allowed no one belonging to him to mix with those whom he was pleased to call the common people of the place. Unguarded, the boy would indeed have been exposed to no such risk of contamination; but Mr. Hesselden had promised to be there, and it was believed that, under his wing, the boy would take no harm, while Mr. Temple's object, of preserving a connexion with whatever passed in his neighbourhood, might be fulfilled.
Mr. Hesselden was not there; and if it was desirable that Temple's representative should make a dignified appearance on this new occasion, never was a representative more unfortunately chosen. The little fellow crept to his grandmamma's side, shivering and half crying. The good lady observed that it was indeed very cold, chafed his hands, requested Rundell to throw another log or two on the fire, and comforted the boy with assurances that he was come in time to dance with her. Every body was ready with protestations that it was indeed remarkably cold. It was thought the beauty of the woods was nearly over for this season. In a few days more it was probable that the myriads of stems in the forest would be wholly bare, and little green but the mosses left for the eye to rest upon under the woven canopy of boughs. Few evergreens grew near, so that the forest was as remarkably gloomy in winter as it was bright in the season of leaves.
When the window was opened, that the star-gazers might reconnoitre the heavens, it was found that the air was thick with snow;—snow was falling in a cloud.
“Do but see!” cried Arthur. “No stargazing to-night, nor dancing either, I fancy, if we mean to get home before it is knee-deep. Temmy, did it snow when you came?”
“O, yes,” answered the boy, his teeth chattering at the recollection.
“Why did not you tell us, my dear?” asked Mrs. Sneyd.
The doctor was inwardly glad that there was so good a reason for Mr. Hesselden's absence.
“No wonder we did not hear the horse trot up to the door,” observed some one. “Come, ladies, put up your work, unless you mean to stay here till the next thaw.”
A child or two was present who was delighted to think of the way to the school-house being impassable till the next thaw.
“Stay a bit,” cried Rundell, coming in from the door, and pulling it after him. “l am not going without my brand, and a fine blazing one too,—with such noises abroad.”
“Wolves. A strong pack of them, to judge by the cry.”
All who possessed sheep were now troubled with dire apprehensions: and their fears were not allayed when Temmy let fall that wolves were howling, as the groom thought, on every side, during his ride from the Lodge. The boy had never been so alarmed in his life; and he laid a firm grasp on uncle Arthur's coat-collar when there was talk of going home again.
“You must let me go, Temmy. I must look after my lambs without more loss of time. If you had not been the strangest boy in the world, you would have given us notice to do so, long ago. I cannot conceive what makes you so silent about little things that happen.”
Mrs. Sneyd could very well account for that which puzzled Arthur. She understood little minds, anti had watched, only too anxiously, the process by which continual checking had rendered her grand-child afraid to tell that there was snow, or that wolves were abroad.
“Come, lads,” cried Arthur. “Who cares for his sheep? Fetch your arms, and meet me at the poplar by the Kiln, anti we will sally out to the pens, and have a wolf-hunt.”
There was much glee at the prospect of this frolic; the more that such an one had not been expected to occur yet awhile. So early a commencement of winter had not happened within the experience of any inhabitant of Briery Creek. The swine in the woods had not yet exhausted their feast of autumn berries; and fallen apples and peaches enough remained to feed them for a month. The usual signal of the advance of the season,—these animals digging for hickory nuts among the rotting leaves,—had not been observed, In short, the snow had taken every body by surprise, unless it was the wolves.
Dr. Sneyd lighted and guided home his wife and Temmy, in almost as high spirits as the youngest of the wolf-hunters. The season of sleighing was come, and his precious package of glass might soon be attainable. Dire as were the disasters which befel the party on their way,—the wetting, the loss of the track, the stumbles, the dread of wild, beasts, and Temmy's disappearance for ten seconds in a treacherous hollow,— the doctor did not find himself able to regret the state of the weather. He fixed his thoughts ou the interests of science, and was consoled for every mischance.
If he had foreseen all that would result from this night's adventure, he would not have watched with so much pleasure for the lights along the verge of the forest, when the snow had ceased; nor have been amused at the tribute of wolves' heads which he found the next morning deposited in his porch.
A FATHER'S HOPE.
For several days an unwonted stillness reigned in Dr. Sneyd's abode;—from the day that the fever under which Arthur was labouring had appeared of a serious character. While it was supposed to be merely a severe cold, caught on the night of the wolf-hunt, all had gone on as much in the common way as could be expected under the novelty of a sick person being in the house; but from the moment that there was a hint of danger, all was studious quiet. The surgeon stepped stealthily up stairs, and the heavy-footed maids did their best not to shake the floors they trod Mrs. Temple conducted her consultations with her father in a whisper, though the study door was shut; and there was thus only too much opportunity for the patient's voice to be heard all over the house, when his fever ran high.
Temmy did not like to stay away, though he was very unhappy while on the spot. When he could not slip in behind the surgeon, he avoided the hall by entering the study through the garden-window. Than he could sit unobserved in the tow chair; and, what was better, unemployed. He had an earnest desire to be of use, but so deep a conviction that he never could be useful, that it was a misery to him to be asked to do any thing. If requested merely to go an errand, or to watch for a messenger, he felt as if his uncle's life depended on what he might see and say and do, within a few minutes; and he was therefore apt to see wrong, and speak amiss, and do the very reverse of what he ought to do. All this was only more tolerable than being at home;—either alone, in momentary terror of his father coming in; or with his father, listening to complaints of Mrs. Temple's absence, or invited to an ill-timed facetiousness which he dared not decline, however sick at heart he might be.
He had just crouched down in the great chair one morning, (supposing that Dr. Sneyd, who was bending over a letter at the table, had not seen him enter,) when Mrs. Temple appeared from the sick chamber. As she found time, in the first place, to kiss the forehead of her boy, whom she had not seen since the preceding afternoon, he took courage to ask,
“Is uncle Arthur better?”
Mrs. Temple could not reply otherwise than by a melancholy shake of the head. Dr. Sneyd turned round.
“No, my dear,” he said. “Your uncle is not better. Louisa,” he continued, observing his daughter's haggard and agitated countenance, “you must rest. This last night has been too much for you.”
Arthur had dropped asleep at last, Mrs. Temple said; a troubled sleep, which she feared would soon be at an end; but she saw the surgeon coming up, and wished to receive him below, and ask him—A sudden thought seemed to strike her.
“My dear. go up to your uncle's room—”
Temmy drew back, anti very nearly said “No.”
“You can leave your shoes at the bottom of the stairs. Ask your grandmamma to come down to us; and do you sit at the bottom of the bed, and watch your uncle's sleep. If he seems likely to wake, call me. If not, sit quiet till I come.”
Temmy moved slowly away. He had not once been in the room since the illness began, and nothing could exceed the awe he felt of what he might behold. He dared not linger, and therefore stole in, and delivered his message in so low a whisper that his grandmamma could not hear it till she had beckoned him out to the landing. She then went down, making a sign to him to take her place. It was now necessary to look into the bed; and Temmy sat with his eyes fixed, till his head shook involuntarily with his efforts to keep a steady gaze on his uncle's face. That face seemed to change its form, hue and motion every instant, and sometimes Temmy fancied that the patient was suffocating, and then that he had ceased to breathe, according to the state that his own senses were in. Sometimes the relaxed and shrunken hand seemed to make an effort to grasp the bed clothes, and then Temmy's was instantly outstretched, with a start, to the hand-bell with which he was to summon help. How altered was the face before him! So hollow, and wearing such an expression of misery! There was just sufficient likeness to uncle Arthur to enable Temmy to believe that it was he; and quite enough difference to suggest his being possessed; or, in some sort, not quite uncle Arthur. He wished somebody would come. How was he to know how soon he should ring the bell?
This was soon decided. Without a moment's warning, Arthur opened his eyes wide, and sat up in the bed, looking at Temmy, till the boy nearly screamed, and never thought of ringing the bell. When he saw, however, that Arthur was attempting to get out of bed, he rang hastily, and then ran to him, saying,
“O, uncle, do lie down again, that I may tell you about the lamb that got so torn, you know. I have a great deal to tell you about that lamb, and the old ewe too. And Isaac says——”
“Ay, the lamb, the lamb,” feebly said Arthur, sinking back upon his pillow.
When Dr. Sneyd presently appeared, he found Arthur listening dully, painfully, with his glazed eyes fixed on the boy, who was telling, in a hurried manner of forced cheerfulness, a long story about the lamb that was getting well. He broke off when help appeared.
“O grandpapa, he woke in such a hurry! He tried to get out of bed, grandpapa.”
“Yes, my dear, I understand You did just the right thing, Temmy; and now you may go down. None of us could have done better, my dear boy.”
Any one who had met Temmy crying on the stairs would have rather supposed that he had done just the wrong thing. Yet Temmy was a different boy from that hour. He even thought that he should not much mind being in uncle Arthur's room again, if any body should wish to send him there. It was yet sometime before the event of this illness was considered as decided, and as the days passed on, there became less and less occasion for inquiry in words, each morning. Whenever Dr. Sneyd's countenance was remarkably placid, and his manner particularly quiet, Temmy knew that his uncle was worse. It was rarely, and during very brief intervals, that he was considered better. Strange things happened now and then which made the boy question whether the world was just now going on in its usual course. It was not very strange to hear his papa question Mrs. Temple, during the short periods of her being at home, about Arthur's will; whether he had one; how it was supposed his property would be left; and whether he was ever sensible enough to make any alterations that might be desirable under the late growth of his little property. It was not strange that Mr. Temple should ask these questions, nor that they should be answered briefly and with tears: but it was strange that papa went one day himself into the grapery, and cut with his own hands the very finest grapes for Arthur, and permitted Temmy to carry, them, though they filled a rather large basket. It seemed strange that Mr. Kendall, apt as he was, when every body was well, to joke in season and out of season with guests and neighbours, should now be grave from morning till night, and often through the night, watching, considering, inventing, assisting, till Mrs. Sneyd said that, if Arthur recovered, he would owe his life, under God, to the care of his medical friend. It was strange to see a physician arrive from a great distance, twice in one week, and go away again as soon as his horse was refreshed: though nothing could be more natural than the anxiety of the villagers who stood at their doors, ready to accost the physician as he went away, doors, and to try to learn how much hope he really thought there was of Arthur's recovery. It was very strange to meet Dr. Sneyd, one morning, with Arthur's axe on his shoulder, going out to do some work in the woods that Arthur had been talking about all night, and wanted grievously to be doing himself till Dr. Sneyd had promised that he, and nobody else, should accomplish it for him. It was strange that Mr. Hesselden should choose that time, of all others, to turn back with Dr. Sneyd, and ask why he had not been sent for to the patient's bed-side, urging that it was dreadful to think what might become of him hereafter, if it should please God to remove him in his present feeble condition of mind. Of all strange things it seemed the strangest that any one should dare to add to such trouble as the greyhaired father must be suffering, and that Mr. Hesselden should fancy himself better qualified than Dr. Sneyd to watch over the religious state of this virtuous son of a pious parent. Even Temmy could understand enough to be disgusted, and to venerate the humble dignity with which Mr. Hesselden's officiousness was checked, and the calmness with which it was at once admitted that Arthur's period of probation seemed to be fast drawing to a dose. But nothing astonished the boy so much as some circumstances relating to his mother. Temmy never knew before that she was fond of uncle Arthur,—or of any one, unless it was himself. When his papa was not by, her manner was usually high and cold to every body; and it had become more strikingly so since he had observed her dress to be shabby. He was now awe-struck when he saw her sit sobbing behind the curtain, with both hands covering her face. But it was much worse to see her one day, after standing for a long while gazing on the sunken countenance before her, cast herself down by the bedside and cry,
“O, Arthur—Arthur—you will not look at me!”
Temmy could not stay to see what happened. He took refuge with his grandpapa, who, on hearing what had overpowered him, led him up again to the chamber, where Louisa was on her knees, weeping quietly with her face hid in the bed clothes. She was not now in so much need of comfort. Arthur had turned his eyes upon her, and, she thought, attempted to speak. She believed she could now watch by him till the last without repining; but it had been dreary,—most dreary, to see him wasting without one sign of love or consciousness.
“What must it be then, my dear daughter, to watch for months and years in vain for such a sign?” The doctor held in his hand a letter which Temmy had for some day observed that his grandfather seemed unable to part with. It told that the most beloved of his old friends had had an attack of paralysis. It was little probable that he would write or send message more.'
“That it should happen just at this time!” murmured Louisa.
“I grieve for you, my dear. You have many years before you, and the loss of this brother— But for your mother and me it is not altogether so trying. We cannot have very long to remain; and the more it pleases God to wean us from this world, the less anxiety there will be in leaving it. If the old friends we loved, and the young we depended on, go first, the next world is made all the brighter; and it is with that world that we have now most to do.”
“But of all losses—that Arthur must be the One—”
“This is the one we could be least prepared for, and from this there is perhaps, the strongest recoil,—especially when we think of this boy,”— laving his hand on Temmy's head. “But it is enough that it is the fittest for us. If we cannot see this, we cannot but believe it; and let the Lord do what seemeth to him good.”
“But such a son! Such a man—”
“Ah! there is precious consolation! No father's—no mother's heart—Hear me, Arthur”—and he laid. his hand on that of his son— “No parent's heart had ever more perfect repose upon a child than we have had upon you, my dear son!”
“He hears you.”
“If not now, I trust he shall know it hereafter. His mother and I have never been thankless, I believe, for what God has given us in our children; but now is the time to feel truly what His bounty has been. Some time hence, we may find ourselves growing weary under our loss, however we may acquiesce: but now there is the support given through him who is the resurrection and the life,—this support without drawback, without fear. Thank God!”
After a pause, Mrs. Temple said, hesitatingly,
“You have seen Mr. Hesselden?”
“I have. He believes that there is presumption in the strength of my hope. But it seems to me that there would be great presumption in doubt and dread. If my son were a man of a worldly mind,—if his affections were given to wealth and fame, or to lower objects still, it would become us to kneel and cry, day and night, for more time, before he must enter the state where, with such a spirit, he must find himself poor and miserable and blind and naked. But his Maker has so guided him that his affections have been fixed on objects which will not be left behind in this world, or buried away with the body, leaving him desolate in the presence of his God. He loves knowledge, and for long past he has lived on benevolence; and he will do the same hence-forth and for ever, if the gospel, in which he has delighted from his youth up, say true. Far be it from us to doubt his being happy in thus living for the prime ends of his being!”
Mrs. Temple was still silent.
“You are thinking of the other side of his character,” observed Dr. Sneyd; “of that dark side which every fallible creature has. Here would be my fear, if I feared at all. But l do not fear for Arthur that species of suffering which he has ever courted here. I believe he was always sooner or later thankful for the disappointment of unreasonable desires, and the mortifications of pride, and all retribution for sins and follies. There is no reason to suppose that he will shrink from the retribution which will in like manner follow such sins and follies as he may carry with him into another state. All desires whose gratification cannot enter there will be starved out. The process will be painful; but the subject of this pain will be the first to acquiesce in it. We, therefore, will not murmur nor fear.”
“If all this be true, if it be religious, how many torment themselves and one another in vain about the terrors of the gospel!”
“Very many. For my part, whatever terrors I might feel without the gospel,—and I can imagine that they might be many and great,—I cannot conceive of any being left when the gospel is taken home to the understanding and the heart. it so strips away all the delusions, amidst which alone terror can arise under the recognition of a benignant Providence, as to leave a broad unincumbered basis for faith to rest upon; a faith which must pass from strength to strength, divesting itself of one weakness and pain after another, till the end comes when perfect love casts out fear;—a consummation which can never be reached by more than a few, while arbitrary sufferings are connected with the word of God in the unauthorized way which is too common at present. No! if there be one characteristic of the gospel rather than another, it is its repudiating terrors—(and terrors belong only to ignorance)—by casting a new and searching light on the operations of Providence, and showing how happiness is the issue of them all. Surely, daughter, there is no presumption in saying this, to the glory of Him who gave the gospel.”
“I trust not, father.”
“My dear, with as much confidence as an apostle, were he here, would desire your brother to arise and walk before us all, do I say to him, if he can yet hear me, 'Fear not, for God is with thee.' I wish I feared as little for you, Louisa; but indeed this heavy grief is bearing you down. God comfort you, my child! for we perceive that we cannot.”
With a passion of grief, Louisa prayed that she might not be left the only child of her parents. She had never been, she never should be, to them what she ought. Arthur must not go. Her father led her away, soothing her self-reproaches, and giving her hope, by showing how much of his hope for this world depended on her. She made a speedy effort to compose herself, as she could not bear to be long absent from Arthur's bedside. Her mother was now there, acting with all the silent self-possession which she had preserved throughout.
The snow was all melted before the morning when the funeral train set forth from Dr. Sneyd's door. On leaving the gate, the party turned,—. not in the direction of the chapel, but towards the forest. As Mr. Hesselden could not in conscience countenance such a departure as that of Arthur,—lost in unbelief, and unrelieved of his sins as he believed the sufferer to have been,—it was thought better that the interment should take place as if no Mr. Hesselden had been there, and no chapel built; and the whole was conducted as on one former occasion since the establishment of the settlement. The plain coffin was carried by four of the villagers, and followed by all the rest, except a very few who remained about the Lodge. Mrs. Snyed would not hear of her husband's going through the service unsupported by any of his family. Mrs. Temple's presence was out of the question. Mr. Sneyd and Temmy therefore walked with Dr. Sneyd. When arrived at the open green space appointed, the family sat down beside the coffin, while the men who had brought spades dug a grave, and those who had borne axes felled trees with which to secure the body from the beasts of the forest. There was something soothing rather than the contrary in observing how all went on as if the spectators had been gazing with their usual ease upon the operations of nature. The squirrels ran among the leaves which gaudily carpeted the ground in the shade: the cattle browzed carelessly, tinkling their bells among the trees. A lark sprang up from the ground-nest where she was sitting solitary when the grave-diggers stirred the long grass in which she had been hidden; and a deer, which bad taken alarm at the shock of the woodsmen's axes, made a timid survey of the party, and bounded away into the dark parts of the wood. The children, who were brought for the purpose of showing respect to the departed, could scarcely be kept in order by their anxious parents, during the time of preparation. They would pick up glossy brown nuts that lay at their feet; and trudged rustling through all the leaves they could manage to tread upon, in hopes of dislodging mice or other small animals to which they might give chase. One little girl, with all a little girl's love for bright colours, secured a handful of the scarlet leaves of the maple, the deep yellow of the walnut and hickory, and the pink of the wild vine; and, using the coffin for a table, began laying out her treasure there in a circle. Dr. Sneyd was watching her with a placid smile, when the mother, in an agony of confusion, ran to put a stop to the amusement. The doctor would not let the child be interfered with. He seemed to have pleasure in entering into the feelings of as many about him as could not enter into his.
He was quite prepared for his office at the moment when all was ready for him. None who were present had ever beheld or listened to a funeral service so impressive as this of the greyheaded father over the grave of his son. The few, the very few natural tears shed at the moment of final surrender did not impair the dignity of the service, nor, most assuredly, the acceptableness of the devotion from which, as much as from human grief, they sprang. The doctor would himself see the grave filled up, and the felled trees so arranged upon it as to render it perfectly safe. Then he was ready to be the support of his wife home: and at his own gate, he forgot none who had paid this last mark of respect to his son. He shook hands with them every one, and touched his hat to them when he withdrew within the gate.
Mrs. Sneyd wistfully followed him into his study, instead of going to seek her daughter.— Was he going to write?
“Yes, my dear. There is one in England to whom these tidings are first due from ourselves. I shall write but little; for hers will be an affliction with which we must not intermeddle. At least, it is natural for Arthur's father to think so. Will you stay beside me? or are you going to Louisa?”
“I ought to write to Mrs. Rogers; and I think I will do it now, beside you. And yet— Louisa—Tell me, dear, which I shall do.”
There was something in the listlessness and indecision of tone with which this was said that more nearly overset Dr. Sneyd's fortitude than any thing that had happened this day. Conquering his emotion, he said,
“Let us both take a turn in the garden first, and then—”—and he drew his wife's arm within his own, and led her out. Temmy was there,—lingering, solitary and disconsolate in one of the walks. the servants had told him that he must not go up to his mamma; they believed she was asleep; and then Temmy did not know where to go, and was not at all sure how much he might do on the day of a funeral. In exerting themselves to cheer him, the doctor and Mrs. Sneyd revived each other; amt when Mrs. Temple arose, head-achy and feverish, and went to the window for air, she was surprised to see her father with his spade in his hand, looking on while Mrs. Sneyd and Temmy sought out the last remains of the autumn fruit in the orchard.
When the long evening had set in, and the most necessary of the letters were written, little seemed left to be done but to take care of Mrs. Temple, whose grief had, for the present, much impaired her health. She lay shivering on a couch drawn very near the fire; and her mother began to feel so uneasy at the continuance of her head ache that she was really glad when Mr. Kendall came up from the village to enquire after the family. It was like his usual kind attention; and perhaps he said no more than the occasion might justify of distress of mind being the cause of indisposition. Yet his manner struck Mrs. Sneyd as being peculiarly solemn,—somewhat inquisitive, and, on the whole, unsatisfactory. Mrs. Temple also asked herself for a moment whether Kendall could possibly know that she was not a happy wife, and would dare to exhibit his knowledge to her. But she was not strong enough to support the dignified manner necessary on such a supposition; and she preferred dismissing the thought. She was recommended to rest as much as possible; to turn her mind from painful subjects; and, above all, to remain where she was. She must not think of going home at present;—a declaration for which every body present was heartily thankful.
When Temmy had attended the surgeon to the door, he returned; and instead of seating himself at his drawing, as before, wandered from window to window, listening, and seeming very uncomfortable. Dr. Sneyd invited him to the fire-side, and made room for him between his knees; but Temmy could not be happy even there,—the night was so stormy, and it was raining so very heavily!
“Well, my dear?”
“And uncle Arthur is out in the wood, all alone, and every body else so comfortable at home!”
“My boy, your uncle can never more be hurt by storm or heat, by night dew or rain. We will not forget him while we are comfortable, as you say, by our fire-side; but it is we ourselves, the living, who have to be sheltered and tended with care and pains, like so many infants, while perhaps the departed make sport of these things, and look back upon the needful care of the body as grown men look down upon the cradles they were rocked in, and the cushions spread for them to fall upon when they learned to walk. Uncle Arthur may know more about storms than we; but we know that they will never more beat upon his head.”
Temmy believed this; yet he could not help thinking of the soaked grass, and the dripping boughs, and the groaning of the forest in the wind,—and even of the panther and the wild cat snuffing round the grave they could not reach. He could not help feeling as if his uncle was deserted; and he had moreover the fear that, though he could never, never think less of him than now, others would fall more and more into their old way of talking and laughing in the light of the fire, without casting a thought towards the forest or any thing that it contained. He felt as if he was, in such a case, called upon to vindicate uncle Arthur's claims to solemn remembrance, and pondered the feasibility of staying at home alone to think about uncle Arthur when the time should be again come for every body else to be reading and working, or dancing, during the evenings at the schoolhouse. Mrs. Sneyd believed all that her husband had just said to Temmy; and the scripture which he read this evening to his family, about the heavenly transcending the earthly, did not pass idly over her ear; yet she so far felt with Temmy that she looked out, forest-wards, for long before she tried to rest; and, with the first grey of the morning, was again at the same station. On the first occasion, she was somewhat surprised by two things that she saw;—many lights flitting about the village, and on the road to the Lodge,— and a faint glimmer, like the spark of a glowworm, in the opposite direction, as if precisely on the solitary spot where Arthur lay. Dr. Sneyd could not distinguish it through the storm; but on being assured that there was certainly some light, supposed that it might be one of the meteoric fires which were wont to dart out of the damp brakes, and run along the close alleys of the forest, like swift torch-bearers of the night. For the restlessness in the village he could not so easily account: nor did he take much pains to do so; for he was wearied out,—and the sleep of the innocent, the repose of the pious, awaited him.
“From this he was unwillingly awakened, at peep of dawn, by Mrs, Sneyd, who was certain that she had distinguished the figure of a man, closely muffled, pacing the garden. She had previously fancied she heard a horse-tread in the turf road,
“My dear,” said the doctor, “who should it be? We have no thieves here, you know; and what should anybody else want in our garden at this hour?”
“Why—you will not believe me, I dare say,—but I have a strong impression,—I cannot help thinking it is Temple.”
Dr. Sneyd was at the window without another word. It was still so dark that he could not distinguish the intruder till he passed directly before the window. At that moment the doctor threw up the sash. The wind blew in chilly, bringing the autumnal scent of decaying vegetation from the woods; but the rain was over. The driving clouds let out a faint glimmer from the east; but all besides was darkness, except a little yellow light which was still wandering on the prairie, and which now appeared not far distant from the paling of the orchard.
“Mr. Temple, is it you?” asked Dr. Sneyd. “What brings you here?”
The gentleman appeared excessively nervous. He could only relate that he wanted to see his wife,—that he must see Mrs. Temple instantly. She must come down to him,—down to the window, at least. He positively could not enter the house. He had not a moment to spare. He was on business of life and death. He must insist on Mrs. Temple being called.
She was so, as the intelligence of her being ill seemed to effect no change in the gentleman's determination. He appeared to think that she would have ample time to get well afterwards. When her mother had seen that she was duly wrapped up, and her father had himself opened the shutter of the study window, to avoid awakening the servants' curiosity, both withdrew to their own apartment, without asking further questions of Temple.
“Did you see anybody else, my dear?” the doctor inquired. Mrs. Sneyd was surprised at the question.
“Because—I did. Did you see no torch or lantern behind the palings? I am sure there was a dark face peeping through to see what we were doing.”
A pang of horror shot through Mrs. Sneyd when she asked her husband whether he supposed it was an Indian. O, no; only a half-savage. He believed it to be one of the Brawnees. If so, Mrs. Sneyd could account for the light in the forest, as well as for the maiden being so far from home at this hour. She had marked her extreme grief at the interment the day before, and other things previously, which gave her the idea that Arthur's grave had been lighted and guarded by one who would have been only too happy to have watched over him while he lived.
It was even so, as Mrs. Sneyd afterwards ascertained. The maiden hung lanterns round the space occupied by the grave, every night, till all danger was over of Arthur's remains being interfered with. The family could not refuse to be gratified with this mark of devotion;—except Temple, who would have been glad if the shadows of the night had availed to shroud his proceedings from curious eyes.
When the gate was heard to swing on its hinges, and the tread of a horse was again distinguishable on the soaked ground, Mrs. Sneyd thought she might look out upon the stairs, and watch her daughter to her chamber. But Mrs. Temple was already there. Not wishing to be asked any questions: she had gone up softly, and as softly closed her door; so that her parents, not choosing to disturb her, must wait till the morning for the satisfaction of their uneasy curiosity.
THE END OF THE MATTER.
The truth was not long in becoming known when the daylight called the villagers abroad. Temple was gone. He had fled from his creditors, and to escape the vengeance of the land-office for his embezzlement of funds which had come into his hands in the transaction of its business. His creditors might make what they could of that which he left behind; but his mansion, shrubberies, conservatories, and ornamental furniture could by no method be made to compensate for the property which had flown to the moon, or somewhere else where it was as little accessible. The estate, disposed of to the greatest possible advantage, could not be made worth more than what was spent upon it in its present form; and the enormous waste which had been perpetrated in wanton caprices could never be repaired.
Temple had spent more than his income, from the time he set foot in America, if not before. He was only careless at first, forgetting to provide for contingencies, and being regularly astonished, as often as he looked into his affairs, at discovering how much his expenses had exceeded his expectations. He next found it easier to avoid looking too closely into his affairs than to control his passion for ostentation: and from that moment, he trod the downward path of the spendthrift; raising money by any means that he could devise, and trusting that fate or something would help him before all was spent. Fate did not come in as a helper till he could turn nothing more of his own into dollars without the humiliation of appearing to retrench; and to submit to this was quite out of the question. So he compelled his lady to darn and dye, and make her old wardrobe serve; restricted her allowance for housekeeping in all the departments that he had nothing to do with; and betook himself to embezzlement This served his purpose for a short time; but, on the day of Arthur's funeral, a stranger was observed to have arrived in the place, without an introduction to Mr. Temple. Temple's unpaid labourers had lately taken the liberty of asking for their money, and, actuated by some unknown impulse, had this evening come up with torches through the rain: to call the gentleman to account, and show him that they would not be trifled with any longer. It was time to be off; and Temple waited only till the village was quiet, before he stole to the stables, saddled his horse with his own bands, just called to tell his wife that he could not at present say whether he should send for her, or whether she might never see or hear from him more, and turned his back on Briery Creek for ever. Whether his wife would choose to go to him was a question which did not seem to occur to his mind.
A passing traveller, looking down upon Briery Creek from the neighbouring ridge, might perhaps ask the name of the social benefactor who had ornamented the district with yon splendid mansion, presented the village with a place of worship, and the shell, at least, of a parsonage; had reclaimed those green lawns from the wild prairie, and cleared the woodland in the rear so as to leave, conspicuous in beauty, clumps of the noblest forest trees. Such a stranger ought not to use the term “benefactor '' till he knew whence came the means by which all this work was wrought. If from a revenue which could supply these graces after all needful purposes had been fulfilled, well and good. Such an expenditure would then have been truly beneficent. It is a benignant act to embellish God's earth for the use and delight of man. But if there is not revenue enough for such objects,—if they are attained by the sacrifice of those funds on whose reproduction society depends for subsistence, the act, from being beneficent, becomes criminal. The mansion is built out of the maintenance of the labourer; and that which should have been bread to the next generation is turned into barren stone. Temple was a criminal before he committed fraud. He injured society by exhausting its material resources, and leaving no adequate substitute for them. If he had lavished his capital, as Dr. Sneyd laid out his revenue, in the pursuit of science, it is very possible that, though such an expenditure might require justification in comparison with Dr. Sneyd's, the good he would effect might have so superabounded above the harm as to have made society his debtor,—(as in many a case where philosophers have expended all their substance in perfecting a discovery or invention,)—but Temple had done nothing like this. The beauty of his estate, however desirable in itself, was no equivalent for the cost of happiness through which it was produced. He had no claim to a share of the almost unlimited credit allowed, by the common consent of society, to its highest class of benefactors,—the explorers of Providence.
Arthur had done little less than Temple in the way of adorning Briery Creek; and how differently! His smiling fields, his flocks spreading over the prairie, his own house, and the dwellings of his labourers, increasing in number and improving in comfort every year, were as beautiful in the eye of a right-minded observer as the grander abode of his brother-in-law. There were indications also of new graces which were to arise in their proper time. The clearings were made with a view to the future beauty of the little estate; creepers were already spreading over the white front of the house, and no little pains had been bestowed upon the garden. Yet, so far from any suffering by Arthur's expenditure, every body had been benefited. A larger fund had remained had the close of each year for the employment of labour during the next; and if new labourers were induced to come from a distance and settle here, it was not that they might be kept busy and overpaid for a time, and afterwards be left unemployed and defrauded of part of their dues, but that they and their children after them might prosper with the prosperity of their employer. Temple had absconded, leaving a name which would be mentioned with either contempt or abhorrence as long as it would be mentioned at all. Arthur had departed, surrounded with the blessings of those who regarded him as a benefactor. He had left a legacy of substantial wealth to the society in which he had lived, and a name which would be perpetuated with honour.
It was hoped that the effects of Arthur's good deeds would long outlast those of Temple's evil ones. In all communities that can boast of any considerable degree of civilization, there are many accumulators to one spendthrift. The principle of accumulation is so strong, that it has been perpetually found an overmatch for the extravagance of ostentatious governments, and for the wholesale waste of war. The capital of every tolerably governed state has been found to be gradually on the increase, however much misery might, through mismanagement, be inflicted on certain portions of the people. It was to be hoped that such would be the process in Briery Creek; that the little capitals which had been saved by the humbler residents would be more freely employed in putting labour into action, than while the great man had been there to buy up all that was to be had. It might be hoped that the losses of the defrauded labourers might thus be in time repaired, and new acquisitions made. Again:—there was now no one to interfere with the exchanges in the markets, and thus perplex the calculations of producers, causing deficiencies of some articles and gluts of others;—inequalities which no foresight could guard against. Every one might now have as much fresh meat, and as little salt, as he chose; and the general taste would regulate the supply in the market, to the security of those who sold and the satisfaction of those who bought. It would be well for certain nations if those who attempt interference with commerce on a larger scale could be as easily scared away as Temple; their dictation (in the form of bounties and prohibitions) expiring as they withdrew. Greater, in proportion to their greater influence in society, would be the rejoicing at their departure, than that with which Temple's disappearance was hailed, when the first dismay of his poorer creditors was overcome.
The ease which was thus occasioned was not confined to those who had merely a business connexion with him. No one liked to tell his notions upon so delicate a matter; but a significant smile went round, some months after, when it was remarked how uncommonly well Mrs. Temple was looking, and how gracious she had become, and what a different kind of boy Temmy now promised to be from any thing that was expected of him formerly. The air of the farm was pronounced to be a fine thing for them both.
Yes; the farm,—Arthur's farm. Tide estate was of course left to his family; and it was the most obvious thing in the world that Mrs. Temple should establish herself in it, and superintend its management, with Isaac and his wife to assist her, till Temmy should be old and wise enough to take it into his own charge. The lady herself proposed this plan; and it was a fortunate thing that she had always been fond of a dairy and poultry yard, and of a country life altogether. The pride which had chilled all who came near her during “the winter of her discontent,” gradually thawed under the genial influence of freedom and ease. Her parents once more recognized in her the Louisa Sneyd who had been so long lost to them, and every body but the Hesseldens thought her so improved that she could not have been known for the same person;—even as to beauty,—so much brighter did she look carrying up a present of eggs and cream-cheese to her mother, in the early morning, than sauntering through the heat from her carriage, entrenched behind her parasol, with the liveried servant at her heels, burdened with her pocket-handkerchief and a pineapple for the doctor's eating.
She was never afraid of being too early at her father's. Dr. Sneyd was as fond of country occupations as she; and when he had not been in his observatory for half the night, might be found at sunrise digging or planting in his garden. His grievous loss had not destroyed his energies; it had rather stimulated them, by attaching him for the short remainder of his days to the place of his present abode. He had gradually relaxed in his desire to see England again, and had now relinquished the idea entirely,—not through indolence, or because the circle of his old friends at home was no longer complete, but because,— free from superstition as he was,—his son being buried there attached him to the place. Here he, and his wife, and their daughter, and grandchild, could speak of Arthur more frequently, more easily, more happily, than they could ever learn to do elsewhere. They could carry forward his designs, work in his stead, and feel, act, and talk as if he were still one of them. Not only did they thus happily regard him in the broad sunshine, when amidst the lively hum of voices from the village they were apt to fancy that they could distinguish his; but, ill the dead of night, when the doctor was alone in his observatory, or sometimes assisted by Mrs. Sneyd. (who had taken pains to qualify herself thus late to aid her husband,) bright thoughts of the departed would accompany the planets in their courses, and hopes were in attendance which did not vanish with the morning light, or grow dark in the evening shade. The large telescope was not, for some time, of the use that was expected, for want of such an assistant as Arthur. A sigh would occasionally escape from Dr. Sneyd when he felt how Arthur would have enjoyed a newly-made discovery,—how he might have suggested the means of removing a difficulty. Then a smile would succeed at the bare imagination of how much greater things might be revealed in Arthur's new sphere of habitation; and at the conviction that the progress of God's truth can never be hurtfully delayed, whether its individual agents are left to work here, or removed to a different destination elsewhere.
Hopes, different in kind, but precious in their way, rested now on Temmy,—soon to be called by the less undignified name of Temple. The boy had brightened, in intellect and in spirits, from the hour that he began to surmount his agitation at the idea of being some day sole master of the farm. There was something tangible in farm-learning, which he felt he could master when there was no one to rebuke and ridicule almost every thing he attempted; and in this department he had a model before him on which his attention was for ever fixed. Uncle Arthur was the plea for every new thing he proposed to attempt; and, by dint of incessant recourse to it, he attempted many things which he would not otherwise have dreamed of. Among other visions for the future, he saw himself holding the pen in the observatory, sans peur et sans reproche.
He was some time in learning to attend to two things at once; and all his merits and demerits might safely be discussed within a yard of his ear, while he was buried in mathematics or wielding his pencil; which he always contrived to do at odd moments.
“What is he about now?” was the question that passed between the trio who were observing him, one evening, when he had been silent some time, and appeared to be lightly sketching on a scrap of paper which lay before him.
“Ephraim's cabin, I dare say,” observed his mother. “We are to have a frolic in a few days, to raise a cabin for Ephraim, who has worked wonderfully hard in the prospect of having a dwelling of his own. It is Temple's affair altogether; and I know his head has been full of it for days past. He wishes that Ephraim's cabin should be second to none on the estate.”
“Let us see what he will make of it,” said the doctor, putting on his spectacles, and stepping softly behind Temple. He looked on, over the youth's shoulder, for a few minutes, with a quiet smile, and then beckoned his wife.
This second movement Temple observed. He looked up hastily.
“Very like my dear boy! It is very like. It is something worth living for, Temple, to be so remembered.
“So remembered as this, Sir! It is so easy to copy the face, the——”
“The outward man? It is a great pleasure to us that you find it so; but it gives us infinitely more to see that you can copy after a better manner still. We can see a likeness there too, Temple.”
Having illustrated the leading principles which regulate the Production, Distribution, and Exchange of Wealth, we proceed to consider the laws of its Consumption.
Of these four operations, the three first are means to the attainment of the last as an end.
Consumption by individuals is the subject before us. Government consumption will be treated of hereafter.
Summary of Principles illustrated in this volume.
Consumption is of two kinds, productive and unproductive.
The object of the one is the restoration, with increase, in some new form, of that which is consumed. The object of the other is the enjoyment of some good through the sacrifice of that which is consumed.
That which is consumed productively is capital, reappearing for future use. That which is consumed unproductively ceases to be capital, or any thing else. It is wholly lost.
Such loss is desirable or the contrary in proportion as the happiness resulting from the sacrifice exceeds or falls short of the happiness belonging to the continued possession of the consumable commodity.
The total of what is produced is called the gross produce.
That which remains, after replacing the capital consumed, is called the net produce.
While a man produces only that which he himself consumes, there is no demand and supply.
If a man produces more of one thing than he consumes, it is for the sake of obtaining something which another man produces, over and above what he consumes.
Each brings the two requisites of a demand; viz., the wish for a supply, and a commodity wherewith to obtain it.
This commodity, which is the instrument of demand, is, at the same time, the instrument of supply.
Though the respective commodities of no two producers may be exactly suitable to their respective wishes, or equivalent in amount, yet, as every man's instrument of demand and supply is identical, the aggregate demand of society must be precisely equal to its supply.
In other words, a general glut is impossible.
A partial glut is an evil which induces its own remedy; and the more quickly, the greater the evil; since, the aggregate demand and supply being always equal, a superabundance of one commodity testifies to the deficiency of another; and, all exchangers being anxious to exchange the deficient article for that which is superabundant, the production of the former will be quickened, and that of the latter slackened.
A new creation of capital, employed in the production of the deficient commodity, may thus remedy a glut.
A new creation of capital is always a benefit to society, by constituting a new demand.
It follows that all unproductive consumption of capital is an injury to society, by contracting the demand. In other words, an expenditure which avoidably exceeds the revenue is a social crime.
All interference which perplexes the calculations of producers, and thus causes the danger of a glut, is also a social crime.