berries. The front door opened. " There comes
Harry Norton, just in time for some strawber-
ries, " exclaimed Alice. " Oh, dear, no ! it's Mr.
Anthon ; it won't be quite so pleasant to give
them up to him. "
Charles rose to vacate his seat, saying, " Give
him my share, mother. "
" Oh, no ! mine, " said Alice.
" He shall have both. Thank you, my chil-
dren ; one would be hardly enough to offer
Charles and Alice retired to a window, while
Mr. Anthon seated himself in the vacated chair,
and fell to devouring the berries. " Bless my
heart, " he exclaimed after he had finished them,
" I believe you have given me your place, chil-
dren, and your strawberries too ; and you look
just as contented as if you had eaten them
yourselves. It's lucky it was not my young
ones, ā the house would not have held them.
There's a great difference in children ; yours,
Barclay, seem gentlemen and ladies, ready
made to your hand. " Mr. Barclay well knew
they were not " ready made " but he abstained
from disturbing the self-complacent belief that
all differences were made by nature. " Speaking
of gentlemen and ladies, " resumed Mr. Anthon,
"I called to consult you about the propriety
A FAMILY DINNER. 41
of people of our condition sending their chil-
dren to a dancing-school. Wife is for their go-
ing, but women folks, ā your pardon, ma'am,"
(to Mrs. Barclay), "are always for outside
show; so I told her I would uot say yea or no,
till I had heard the pros and cons from you.
The first thing to be settled is, whether dancing
is desirable. "
" Do you mean, whether we desire it, Mr.
Anthon ? I guess we do ! "
" I dare say, miss, but that is nothing to the
"I beg your pardon, my friend, that is very
much to the purpose. If the children relish
dancing, it is an argument in its favor. Youth
must have amusement. Active amusements
are best. If we lived in the country, where our
children could have free exercise in the open
air, dancing would be unimportant ; but while
they are condemned to the unnatural life of a
city, we should supply them with every arti-
ficial means of developing and improving their
persons. I hope never to see my girls dance to
display tine dancing, ā this would mortify me ;
nor would I have them waste their time and
health in dancing in crowded rooms, at un-
seasonable hours : but when you and I, An-
thon, and a half a dozen friends are talking over
news and politics, and what not, it is enliven-
ing to our children to dance away for an hoar
or two after the piano or the flute, or what-
ever instrument they may happen to have."
"Good lack! do you mean your children
shall learn music too ? "
" If they fancy it. Alice already plays toler-
ably, and Charles plays a very good accompa-
niment on the flute. I wish them to learn
whatever will increase the attractions of their
home, and tend to raise them above coarse
" Oh ! this is all very well for rich people. "
" But far more important for us, Anthon.
Dancing, certainly ; as I think, there is noth-
ing that conduces more to ease and grace, than
learning to dance, ā learning to make legs, as
Locke says. "
" What a funny expression ! " exclaimed
Mary, who, as well as the rest, was an atten-
tive listener to the conversation.
" Yes, my dear, odd enough ; but Mr. Locke
probably meant learning to use them gracefully.
The legs and arms of boys who are never taught
to dance, are apt to be in their own and every
one's else way. I do not wish my boys to suf-
fer as I have from blundering into a room, and
feeling when I had to bow to half a dozen gen-
tlemen and ladies, as if I had to run a muck.
I said, I consider dancing far more important
A FAMILY DINNER. 43
to our children than to what are called fashion-
able people, and for the reason that they have
other opportunities of cultivating graceful and
"They have more occasion for them."
'ā¢ I am not sure of that. We do not yet real-
ize that we live in a new state of things, and
that the equality, which is the basis of our in-
stitutions, should also, as far as possible, be the
basis of education. There is no sort of inferi-
ority about which young people sutler more
than that of manners. There are other things
certainly far more important, but this is tin-
ever before their eyes, pressing on their obser-
vation, ā is seen and felt at every turn. The
morals of manners we try to teach our children
at home ; arbitrary rules and external graces
they must take the usual means of acquiring. "
"Well, you certainly are odd, Barclay."
" What do you mean by that ? "
" I suppose I may speak out, for neither you
nor your wife are touchy. "
"Yes, pray speak out, my friend; my wife
and I both approve the speaking-out prin-
Mr. Anthon fidgeted on his chair. He felt
a good-natured reluctance to criticising his
friend, and perhaps a secret consciousness that
it was bold in him to do so. After a little
hesitation he sheltered himself under that
broad, common, and cowardly shield "they
say, " and proceeded : " They say, Barclay,
that you are very inconsistent ; that your
family is the plainest dressed family for people
of your property, that enter the church doors ;
that your furniture, ā now I don't mean to be
impertinent ; I know that every thing is as
neat and as comfortable here as can be ; ā but
they say you might afford to have things a
little smarter, ā more like other folks, who
don't think of sending their children to expen-
sive schools, and to this and that and the other ;
three of them, I heard a person say, attended
Griscom's course of lectures on natural philoso-
phy, with you and your wife. That of itself
runs up to a sum that would buy some pretty
"It does so, Anthon, and therefore I can-
not buy ' pretty articles. ' I am a prosperous
man in my business, but my income is limited,
and I must select those objects of expenditure
that appear to me wisest. Now I had rather
Alice should learn to draw, than that she
should wear the prettiest ear-rings in New
York, or any hardware of that description. I
would rather my boys should learn from Pro-
fessor Griscom something of the nature and
riches of the world they live in, than to have
A FAMILY DINNER. 45
a mirror the whole length of my mantel-piece.
No, Anthon, I can spare money elsewhere,
but, till I am compelled, I'll not spare it in the
education of my children. "
" Well, I never thought you was such an
ambitious man. "
" What do you mean by that ? "
"Why, that you are calculating to make
all your children gentlemen and ladies."
" May I ask you what you mean by my mak-
ing them gentlemen and ladies ? "
" It is plain enough what I mean, ā lawyers,
doctors, and ministers, and wives for such
" I shall be governed by circumstances ; I do
not intend nor wish, Anthon, to crowd my
boys into the learned professions. If any
among them have a particular talent or taste
for them, they may follow them. They must
decide for themselves in a matter more impor-
tant to them than to any one else. But my boys
know that I should be mortified if they selected
these professions, from the vulgar notion that
they were more genteel, ā a vulgar word that,
that ought to be banished from an American's
vocabulary, ā more genteel than agriculture
and the mechanic arts. I have labored to con-
vince my boys, that there is nothing vulgar in
the mechanic professions, ā > no particular rea-
son for envying the lawyer or the doctor.
They, as much as the farmer and the mechanic,
are working men. And I should like to know
what there is particularly elevating in sitting,
over a table and writing prescribed forms, or
in inquiring into the particulars of diseases,
and doling out physic for them. It is certainly
a false notion in a democratic republic, that a
lawyer has any higher claim to respecta-
bility, ā gentility, if you please, ā than a tan-
ner, a goldsmith, a printer, or a builder. It is
the fault of the mechanic, if he takes a place
not assigned to him by the government and
institutions of his country. He is of the lower
orders, only when he is self-degraded by the
ignorance and coarse manners which are asso-
ciated with manual labor in countries where
society is divided into castes, and have there-
fore come to be considered inseparable from it.
Rely upon it, it is not so. The old barriers
are down. The time has come when 'being
mechanical ' we may appear on ' laboring days '
as well as holidays, without the ' sign of our
profession.' Talent and worth are the only
eternal grounds of distinction. To these the
Almighty has affixed his everlasting patent of
nobility, and these it is which make the bright,
'the immortal names,' to which our children
mav asDire. as well as others. It will be our
A FAMILY DINNER. 47
own fault, Anthon, if, in our land, society as
well as government is not organized upon a
new foundation. But we must secure, by our
own efforts, the elevations that are now acces-
sible to all. There is nothing that tends more
to the separation into classes than difference
of manners. This is a badge that all can see.
I cannot blame a gentleman for not asking a
clown to his table, who will spit over his car-
pet, and mortify himself and annoy everybody
else with his awkwardness. "
Mr. Anthon's head was rather oppressed by
the matter for reflection that Barclay had
put into it. After a thoughtful pause he said,
" Well, seeing is believing. "
* Yes, and I fear it will be some time yet
before this new form of society which I antici-
pate, will be seen ; before men will seek to con-
sort with men because they are intelligent,
accomplished, and exemplary, and not because
they live in fine houses, associate with genteel
people, get masses of fashionable persons to-
gether to pass evenings in inanity, and exhaust
their resources in extravagant and poisonous
eating and drinking. Let me tell you, Anthon,
there is too much struggling after all this ; too
much envy ; too much imitation of it among
those who are called, and still call themselves,
the middling classes, ā my poor old friend
Norton, for instance. But I see tokens of bet-
ter times. "
" Of your millennium, I suppose, when fann-
ers and mechanics are to range with the high-
est in the land ? "
" Yes, and I can point you to some heralds
of this millennium. There is in this city ,
whom we both know, strictly a working man.
Did he not make a speech at a political meet-
ing the other night, that would have done
honor to any professional man in the state, not
only full of good common sense, but expressed
in choice language, and with enough of his-
torical allusion to show that he was a well-read
man ? His manner too was easy and unem-
barrassed ; such as becomes a man addressing
his equals. I kuow a young man in Green-
brook, my native place, also a working man,
a laborious and successful farmer, whose gene-
ral attainments and manners qualify him for
polished society ; who has some acquaintance
with science, draws beautifully, and writes
graceful verses. "
" Do you mean that such a man as that in
" Yes, digs, plants, sows, and reaps ; and is
contented to do so. His home is one of the
most attractive and happy I have ever seen. "
Mr. Anthon shook his head. " There may
i. FAMILY DINNEE. 49
be two such men in the nation, but eagles do
not fly in flocks. Your doctrine is quite cap-
tivating to you and me, who do not stand on
the top rung of the ladder, but it's quite con-
trary to the nature of things. ' One star difler-
etli from another star in glory,' and there are
angels and archangels in heaven."
"Yes, undoubtedly there must be angels
and archangels. But what is it that constitutes
their distinction ? Knowledge and goodness; ā
these make degrees in heaven, and they must
be the graduating scale of a true democracy.
I believe that the Christian law (of course
seconding the law of nature) ordains equal-
ity, ā democracy if you please, ā ami therefore
that its progress and final stability are certain.
The ladder is knocked down, my friend, and
we stand on nature's level."
" That's what I call a pretty up and down
level. You can't even off everybody. Now
just look at the difference between your chil-
dren and mine. Here are yours listening to
our talk, and taking pleasure in it. Bless your
heart, man, mine would have been out at the
doors and windows before this time. "
It would have been a delicate matter for Mr.
Barclay to have admitted this difference, even
if he had imputed it to the true cause, his habit
of always associating with his children, and of
making conversation, which he considered one
of the most effective means of education, attrac-
tive and instructive to them. " We cannot, "
he said, "judge of the merits of a subject which
we make personal. I am sorry we have come
to this point, for I should like, right well, to
make a convert of you. I shall comfort myself,
as other people do, with the faith that my doc-
trine will prevail. It certainly will, if we make
the equality, instead of merely claiming it. "
" Ah, there's the rub ; how the deuce are we
to make it ? "
" By the careful use of all the means we pos-
sess to train these young creatures ; by giving
them sound minds in sound bodies ; by mak-
ing them feel the dignity of well-informed
minds, pure hearts, and refined manners. And
for this we need not college education and
foreign masters. Home is the best school, ā
the parent the best teacher. It is the opinion
of some wise people, that the habits are fixed
at twelve. "
"The Lord have mercy on my children,
then," interrupted Mr. Anthon.
" It is not my opinion, " resumed Mr. Bar-
clay; "but I do think that what is done after
that is hard work both for parents and children.
However, as our children are, for the most part,
at home till the age of twelve, we see how
A FAMILY DINNER. 51
much we have in our power, and how wisely
Providence has confided the most important
period of life to the care of the parent, by far
the most interested teacher. "
"Well, well," said Mr. Anthon, who had
too much reason for feeling uncomfortably
under these remarks, " it can't be expected of
a business man to do much with what you call
home education. The wife must see to that.
My wile is a good soul, but she has not got
Mrs. Barclay's knack. Come, is it not time
for you to go to your office ? "
" Yes, past my usual time, by a half-hour.
I always allow myself an hour with my family
" An hour ! bless my heart ! We get
through at our house in about ten minutes, ā
never exceed fifteen. My father made it a rule
to choose the quickest eaters for his workmen.
If they did not bolt in ten minutes, he con-
cluded they were lazy or shiftless."
" Your father's bolting system would not
suit me. I cannot judge for others, but I know
that I am more diligent and active in business
for having such an object ahead as a happy
hour at home (an hour I must say, in praise
of my good wife, never abridged by a want of
punctuality on her part) ; and I return to my
office with more strength and spirits, for the
little rest I give myself after I have swallowed
my food. This is my experience, and it
should be so according to the best medical
" Oh, dear 1 " said Mr. Anthon, with some-
thing between a sigh and a groan, " I wish I
had thought of all these matters when I was a
younger man ; but it's too late now."
We would humbly recommend it to those
for whom it is not too late, to think of " these
THE EEVEESE OP THE PICTUEE.
1 For who can eat, or who else can hasten hereunto, more
than I? '
We shift the scene to Mr. Anthon's dinner-
table. Enter Mr. Anthon, shouting to a little
girl, who was scampering through the entry ;
" Laury, call the folks to dinner."
Laura screamed at the top of her voice,
" Mother, father has come to dinner. John, ā
Tom, ā Anne, ā Julia, ā Dick, ā where are
you all? Dinner is ready."
THE BEVERSE OF THE PICTUEE. 53
" Sure to be away at dinner-time," said the
father, " ii' they are under your feet all the rest
of the day."
Tom and John, and they only, responded to
the muster-call, and, both entering the dining-
room, seized the same chair. Ā« It's my chair,"
"No, it an't," says John ; " I got it first."
"Be done disputing, boys," interposed the
father; "is not there more than one chair in
the room ? Take another, Tom."
" It an't half fair," muttered Tom, obeying,
"Laury," said the mother, entering in the
act of smoothing her hair with a side-comb,
" you an't surely going to sit down to dinner
in your new frock, without an apron."
" I can't find my apron, mother."
" Look in the entry."
" I have looked there."
" Look in the bedroom."
" I have looked all over the bedroom."
" Well, then, look in the pantry ; hunt till
you find it."
By this time the fumes of dinner had reached
the olfactories of Anne and Julia, and they
came racing downstairs, and entered, slam-
ming the door after them.
"Leave open that door," said the father;
" you always shut the doors in June, and leave
them open in January."
" Mother, shan't John give me my place ? "
asked Anne, too intent on her invaded rights
to listen to her father.
" It an't her place, mother ; I sat here yes-
" But I sat here the day before."
" What consequence is it what place you
have? Crowd in your chair there, next to
John. We shall be through dinner, before you
all get seated. Why don't you open the door,
as I told you, Anne ? "
" Julia came in last, sir."
" I told you to open it."
" I did not know you meant me more than
" If you don't hear and mind too, next time,
you shall go without your dinner."
This threat made little impression on Anne,
for she was occupied in forcing her chair in
between her brothers, who were seated askew,
or rather, as the French would say, en echelon.
A natural consequence ensued ; John's glass of
cider was jostled out of his hand, and Tom's
shin was pretty roughly hit (if one might judge
from his outcries) by the leg of the chair.
" All that cider over my clean cloth ! " ex-
claimed the unhappy mother. " What are
you crying for, Anne ? "
THE REVERSE OF THE PICTURE.
" Tom struck me."
" I don't care if I did, she 'most murdered
"Laury, just hand me a piece of bread, too,"
said John to his sister, who had risen at her
father's request, to give him the bread.
Ā« You may help yourself, Mr. John."
"Mother, can't Laury hand me the bread?"
" How can you be so disobliging, Laury ?
hand him the bread."
Laura, without budging an inch, stretched
out her arm to its utmost length; Johu
snatched at the bread-tray, and between them
it went to the floor.
" Oh ! " cried the mother, " you are the worst
acting children I ever saw. Sit down in your
places, both of you. Julia, do you get up, and
pick up the bread."
While Julia obeyed, Tom screamed out,
"Mother, shan't Anne use the salt-spoon?
She puts her fingers in the salt-cellar."
"Well, Tom put in his knife, mother, all
drizzling with gravy; see here!" and she
pointed to the salt-cellar, which afforded dem-
onstration of the truth of her charge.
Before this controversy could be settled,
Dick enters, his face daubed with ink from ear
to ear. The children shouted, his mother
bade him go and wash, and hi? father ordered
him to sit down as he was and eat his dinner,
saying, " He would be just as dirty afterwards,
and he might wash then, and kill two birds
with one stone." Dick eagerly obeyed, for he
saw a pudding in perspective, and he gulped
down his unchewed food, to be in readiness
for it, in his haste upsetting a mustard-pot on
one side, and making a trail of gravy from the
gravy-boat to his plate on the other.
Two of the girls briskly cleared the table,
piling the plates together and dropping the
knives and forks all the way from parlor to
kitchen ; while the other children impatiently
awaited the process, one thrumming on the
table, another rocking back on the hind legs of
his chair; one picking his teeth with a dropped
fork, and another moulding the crumbs of
bread into balls, and all in turn chidden by
the much-enduring mother. Finally appeared
a huge blackberry pudding hailed by smacking
lips, and set down amid the still standing
paraphernalia of the first course, and the wreck
of mustard, cider, &c. A mammoth bit was
scarcely passed to the father, when Laura cried
out, "Help me first to-day, mother; 'cause
Anne was helped first yesterday."
" I don't think you had best eat any to-day,
Laury ; you know you had a burning fever all
THE REVERSE OF THE PICTURE. 57
" O mother ! I know blackberry pudding
won't hurt me."
" Stop whining, Laury," interrupted the
father. "Do give her a bit, my dear; I never
heard of blackberry pudding hurting any-
A cry was heard from the adjoining bed-
room. " The baby has waked," said the
mother; "take her up, Julia, and hand her
here." The baby, a poor, pale, teething thing,
of a year old, but, like all babies in large fam-
ilies, an object of general fondness, was brought
in. One fed her with pudding, another gave
her a crumb of cheese, and a taste of cider.
The mother ordered back a mutton-ohop bone
for her to suck; the father poured into her
little blue lips the last drop of his bumper of
wine, and then calling out, " Start your teams,
boys," he sallied forth, the fifteen minutes, the
longest allowed space for dinner, having been
completely used up.
It would not be wonderful if John, Tom, and
Dick, afterwards, as members of Congress, or,
perchance, as higher officers, should elicit the
strictures of foreign observers of our manners,
and call down a sentence of inevitable and
hopeless vulgarity upon democratic institu-
tions. This might be borne ; for, however
much delicacy and refinement of manners may
embellish life, it might be difficult to prove
them essential to its most substantial objects.
But would there not be some danger, that
young persons, bred in such utter disregard of
what the French call les petites morales (the
lesser morals), would prove, as men and women,
sadly deficient in the social virtues ?
The Barclays might, when grown up, chance
to pour an egg into a glass, instead of taking
it from the shell, or they might convey their
food to their mouths with a knife instead of a
fork ; for these matters are merely conven-
tional, and they might live and die in igno-
rance of them. But they would never dispense
with the use of a tooth-brush, ā never pick
their teeth at table, sit on two legs of a chair,
hawk (we have come to delicate ground), spit
on the carpet or grate, or, in any other of the
usual modes, betray the coarseness of early
associations. They would not be among those
who should elicit from foreigners such graphic
descriptions as the following : " If you pass
coffee-houses, taverns, or such like places, the
street is full of chairs on which loll human
bodies, while the legs belonging to them are
supported against the wall or the pillars that
support the awning. At such places the
tobacco juice is squirted about like a fire of
But this, after all, is but the mint and
A DEDICATION SERVICE. 59
cummin. They would not be found wanting
in the weightier matters, ā in the gentle
courtesies of the social man, ā in that polite-
ness which comes from the heart, like rays
from the sun, ā nor in the very soul of good-
breeding, Christian grace and gentleness.
He who should embody and manifest the
virtues taught in Christ's sermon on the
Mount, would, though he had never seen a
drawing-room, nor ever heard of the artificial
usages of society, commend himself to all
nations, the most refined as well as the most
A DEDICATION SERVICE.
Ye little flock, with pleasure hear ;
Ye children, seek his face;
And fly with transports to receive
Tho blessings of his grace.
Thanks to the smiles of Heaven on our
wide-spread land, the dissocial principles of
the political economist of the old world do
not apply here, and a large family of children
is the blessing to an American which it was
to a patriarchal father. The Barclays had now
been married fourteen years, and their seventh
child was six weeks old. The manner in