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ing cottages. All is tranquillity and beauty,
while the party gather to their outdoor
feast.

It is hardly a merry company, though a



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THE STORY OF SEVENOAKS.



very happy one. It is the latest issue of a
tragedy in which all have borne more or less
important parts. The most thoughtless of
them cannot but fed that a more powerful
hand than their own has shaped their lives
and determined their destinies.

The boys are called in, and the company
gather to their banquet, amid conversation
and laughter.

Mr. Balfour turns to Jim and says :

" How does this compare with Number
Nine, Jim ? Isn't this better than the
woods?"

Jim has been surveying the preparations
with a critical and professional eye, for pro-
fessional purposes. The hotel-keeper keeps
himself constantly open to suggestions, and
the table before him suggests so much, that
his own establishment seems very humble
and imperfect.

" I ben thinkin' about it," Jim responds.
" When a man has got all he wants, he's
brung up standin' at ti^e end of his road. If
thar ain't comfort then, then there ain't no
comfort When he's got more nor he wants,
then he's got by comfort, and runnin* away
from it I heam the women talk about
chumin' by, so that the butter never comes,
an' a man as has more money nor he wants,
chums by his comfort, an' spends his life
swashin' with his dasher, and wonderin'
where his butter is. Old Belcher's butter
never come, but he worked away till his
chum blowed up, an' he went up with it"

"So you think our good friend Mr.
Benedict has got so much that he has left
comfort behind," says Mr. Balfour with a
laugh.

" I should be afeard he had, if he could
reelize it was all his'n, but he can't He
hain't got no more comfort here, no way,
nor he used to have in the woods." Then
Jim leans over to Mr. Balfour's ear, and
says: "It's the woman as does it It's
purty to look at, but it's too pertickler for
comfort"

Mr. Balfour sees that he and Jim are
observed, and so speaks louder.

" There is one thing," he says, " diat I
have learned in the course of this business.
It does not He very deep, but it is at least
worth speaking of. I have learned how
infinitely more interesting and picturesque
vulgar poverty is than vulgar riches. One
can find more poetry in a log cabin than in
all that wealth ever crowded into Palgrave's
Folly. If poor men and poor women, hon-
est and patient workers, could only appre-
hend the poetical aspects of their own hves



and conditions, instead of imagining diat
wealth holds a monopoly of the poetry of
life, they would see that they have the best
of it, and are really enviable people."

Jim knows, of course, that his old cabin
in the woods is in Mr. Balfour's mind, and
feels himself called upon to say something
in response.

" If so be as ye're 'ludin' at me," says he,
" I'm much obleeged to ye, but I p^er a
hotel to a log cabin, pertickler with a little
woman and a litde feller in it, Paul B. by
name."

" Thaf 8 aU right, Jim," says Mr. Balfour,
I* but I don't call that vulgar wealth which
is won slowly, by honest industry. A man
who has more money than he has brains^
and makes his surrotmdings the advertise-
ment of his possessions, rather tlmn the
expression of his culture, is a vulgar man, or
a man of vulgar wealth."

"Did ye ever think," says Jim, "that
riches rots or keeps accordin' to their natur* ?
— ^rots or keeps," he goes on, " accordin' to
what goes into 'em when a man is gitten*
'em together? Blood isn't a purty thing to
mix with money, an' I perfer mine dry. A
golden sweetin' grows quick an' makes a
big show, but ye can't keep it through the
winter."

" That's tme, Jim," responds Mr. Balfour.
" Wealth takes into itself the qualities by
which it is won. Gathered by crime or
fraud, and gathered in haste, it becomes a
curse to those who hold it, and frdls into
rain by its own corraptions. Acquired by
honest toil, manly frugality, patient endur-
ance, and patient waiting, it is fiill of good,
and holds togetlier by a force within itsell"

" Poor Mrs. Belcher!" exclaims Mrs. Dil-
lingham, as the reflection comes to her that
that amiable lady was once the mistress of
the beautiful establishment over which she
has been called upon to preside.

" They say she is living nicdy," says Mn
Snow, " and that somebody sends her money,
diough she does not know where it comes
from. It is supposed that her husband saved
something, and keeps himself out of sight,
while he looks after his family."

Mr. Benedict and Mrs. Dillingham ex-
change significant glances. Jim is a witness
of the act, and knows what it means. He
leans over to Mr. Benedict, and says:

" When I seen sheet lightnin', I knows
there's a shower where it comes from. Ye
can't fool me about ma'am Belcher's money."

"You will not tell anybody, Jim," says
Mr. Benedict, in a low tone.



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169



** Nobody but the little woman," responds
Jim; and then, seeing that his *' little fel-
ler" in the distance is draining a cup with
more dian becoming leisure, he shouts down
the table : « Paul B. I Paul B. ! Ye can't git
that mug on to yer head with the brim in
jer mouth. It isn't yer size, and it doesn't
look purty on ye."

** I should like to know where the old
rascal is," says Mrs. Snow, going back to
the sugg^^on that Mr. Belcher was supply-
ing his ^unily with money.

** Well, I can tell ye," replies Jim. " I've
been a keepin' it for this very meetin'."

** Oh, Jim ! " exdaim half a dozen voices,
which means, ''we are d3ring to hear all
about it"

" Well," says Jim, ** there was a feller as
come to my hotel a month ago, and says
he: *Jim, did ye ever know what had
become of old Belcher ? ' * No,' says I. * I
only knowed he cut a big stick an' slid.'
*• Well,' says he, ' I seen 'im a month ago,
with whiskers enough on 'is ugly face to set
up a barberry-bush.' Says I, * Where did
ye seen *im ?' * Where do ye guess ? ' sa3rs
he. * Swoppin' a blind boss,' says I, * fur a
decent one, an' gettin' boot.' * No,' says he ;
'guess agin.' 'Preachin' at camp-meetin,'
sa3r5 I, 'an' passin' round a hat arter it'
'No,' says he, 'I seen 'im jist where he
belonged. He was tendin' a httle bar on a
S'n' Ix)r'nce steamboat He was settin' on a
big stoc^ in the middle of 'is bottles, where
he could reach 'em all without droppin'
from his roost, an' when his customers was
out he was a-pedcin' into a little lookin'-
g^ass as stood aside of 'im, an' a combin'
out his baizd.' 'That settles it,' says I;
• you've seen 'im, an' no mistake.' ' Then,'
sajrs he, 'I caUed 'im 'General,' an' he
k>dLed kind a skeered, an' sa3rs 'e to me,
" mum's the word. Crooked Valley an' Air
Line is played out, an' I'm workin' up a
comer in Salt River — ^" laughin', an offerin'
to treat'"

" I wonder how he came in such a place
as that ?" 5a3rs Mrs. Snow.

" Thaf s the funniest part on't," responds

Jim. " He found an old friend on the boat

* as was much of a gentieman — an old friend

as was dressed within an inch of his life, an'

sdd the tickets."

" Phipps I " " Phipps ! " shout half a dozen
voices, and a boisterous laugh goes around
die group.

" Ye've guessed right the ftist time," Jim
continues, " an' the gentlemanlest clerk an'
the poplarest man as ever writ names in a



book, an' made change on a counter, with
no end o' rings an' handkercher-pins, an'
presents of silver mugs, an' rampin' resoloo-
tions of admirin' passingeis. An' diere the
two fellers be, a-sailin' up an' down the
S'n' Lor'nce as happy as two clams in high
water, workin' up comers in their wages, an'
plapn' into one another's hands like a pair
of pickpockets; and what do ye think old
Belcher said about Phipps ? "

" What did he say ? " comes from every
side.

"Well, I can't tell percisely," responds
Jim. " Fust he said it was proverdential, as
Phipps run away when he did; an' then he
put in somethin' that sounded as if it come
from a book — somethin' about tunin' the
wind to the sheared ram."

Jim is very doubtfrd about his quotation,
and actually blushes scariet under the fire
of laughter that greets him from every
quarter.

" I'm glad if it 'muses ye," said Jim, " but
it wasn't anything better nor that, consider-
in' the man as took it to himsel£"

" Jina, you'll be obliged to read up," says
" the little woman," who still stands by her
early resolution to take her husband for
what he is, and enjoy his peculiarities with
her neighbors.

"I ^ as I be," he responds. "I can
keep a hotel, an' make money on it, an'
pervide for my own, but when it comes to
books ye can trip me with a feather."

The little banquet draws to a close, and
now two or three inquire together for Mr.
Yates. He has mysteriously disappeared!
The children have ahready left the table,
and Paul B. is romping with a great show
of equine spirit about the garden paths,
astride of a stick. Jim is looking at him in
undisguised admiration.

"I do believe 1" he exclaims, "that the
littie feller thinks he's a boss, with a nedc
more nor three feet long. See *im bend it
over agin the -check-rein he's got in his
mind! Hear 'im squeal! Now look out
for his heels!"

At this moment there rises upon the still
evening air a confused murmur of many
voices. AH but the children pause and lis-
ten, " What is coming ? " " Who is com-
ing?" "What is it?" break from the lips
of the listeners. Only Mrs. Yates looks
intelligent, and she holds her tongue and
keeps her seat The sound comes nearer,
and breaks into greater confrision. It is
laughter and merry conversation, and the
jar of tramping feet Mr. Benedict suspects



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THE STORY OF SEVENOAKS.



what it is, and goes off among his vines in
a state of painful unconcern. The boys run
out to the brow of the hill, and come back
in great excitement to announce that the
whole town is thronging up toward the
house. Then all, as if apprehending the
nature of the visit, gather about their table
again, that being the place where their
visitors will expect to find them.

At length Sam Yates comes in sight
around the comer of the mansion, followed
closely by all the operatives of the mill,
dressed in their hoHday attire. Mrs. Dil-
lingham has found her brother, and, with
her hand upon his arm, she goes out to
meet his visitors. They have come to crown
the feast, and signalize the anniversary b^
bringing their congratulations to the propri-
etor and the beautiful lady who presides
over his house. There is a great deal of
awkwardness among the young men, and
tittering and blushing among the young
women, with side play of jest and coquetry,
as they form themsdves in a line, prepara-
tory to something formal, which presently
appears.

Mr. Yates, the agent of the mill, who has
consented to be the spokesman of the occa-
sion, stands in fix>nt, and faces Mr. Bene-
dict and Mrs. Dillingham.

"Mr. Benedict," says he, "this demon-
stration in your honor is not one originated
by myself, but, in some way, these good
people who serve you learned diat you were
to have a formal celebration of this anni-
versary, and they have asked me to assist
them m expressing the honor in which they
hold you, and the sympathy with which
they enter into your rejoicmg. We all
know your history. Many of those who
now stand before you remember your
wrongs and your misfortunes; and there is
not one who does not rejoice that you have
received that which your own genius won
in the hands of another. There is not one
who does not rejoice that the evil influence
of this house is departed, and that one now
occupies it who thoroughly respects and
honors the manhood and womanhood that
labor in his service. We are glad to
acknowledge you as our master, because we
know that we can regard you as our fiiend.
Your predecessor despised poverty — even
the poverty into which he was bom — and
forgot, in the first moment of his success,
that he had ever been poor, while your own
bitter experiences have made you brotherly.
On behalf of all those who now stand before
you, let me thank you for your sympathy, for



yoiu: practical e£forts to give us a share in
the results of your prosperity, and for Ac
purifymg influences which go out fix>m this
dwelling into all oiu: humble homes. We
give you our congratulations on this anni-
versary, and hope for happy returns of the
day, until, among the inevitable changes of
the fiiture, we all 3rield our places to those
who are to succeed us."

Mr. Benedict's eyes are full of tears. He
does not turn, however, to Mr. Balfour for
help. The consciousness of power, and,
more than this, the consciousness of uni-
versal sympathy, gave him self-possession
and the power of expression.

" Mr. Yates," says Mr. Benedict, " when
you call me master you give me pain.
When you speak of me as your brother, and
the brother of all those whom you represent,
you pay me the most grateful compUment
that I have ever received. It is impossihle
for me to regard myself as anything but die
creature and the instmment of a loving
Providence. It is by no power of my own,
no skiU of my own, no providence of my
own, that I have been carried through die
startling changes of my life. The power
that has placed me where! am is the power
in which, during all my years of adversity,
I firmly trusted. It was that power whidi
brought me my fiiends — ^friends to whose
good-will and efficient service I owe my
wealth and my ability to make life profit-
able and pleasant to you. Fully beheving
this, I can in no way regard myself as my
own, or indulge in pride and vainglory.
You are all my brothers and sisteis, and the
dear Father of us all has placed the power
in my hands to do you good. In the patient
and persistent execution of this stewardship
lies die duty of my life. I thank you all for
your good-will. I thank you all for this
opportunity to meet you, and to say to you
the words which have for five years been in
my heart, waiting to be spoken. Come to
me always with your troubles. Tell me
always what I can do for you to make jrour
way easier. He^ me to make this village
a prosperous, virtuous, and happy one — a
model for all its neighbors. And now I
wish to take you all by the hand, in pledge
of our mutual friendship and of our devo-
tion to each other."

Mr. Benedict steps forward with Mrs. Dil-
lingham, and both shake hands with Mr.
Yates. One after another — some shyly, some
confidendy — the operatives come up and
repeat the process, until all have pressed
the proprietor's hand, and have received a



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THE MOCKING-BIRD.



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pleasant greeting and a cordial word from
his sister, of whom the girls are strangely
afraid. There is a moment of awkward
delay as they start on their homeward way,
and then they gather in a group upon the
brow, of the hill, and the evening air re-
soimds with "three cheers" for Mr. Bene-
dict. The hum of voices begins again, the
tramp of a hundred feet passes down the
hill, and oiu: Uttle party are left to them-
selves.

They do not linger long. The Snows
take their leave. Mr. and Mrs. Yates retire
with a lingering " good-night," but the Bal-
fours and the Fentons are guests of the
house. They go in and the lamps are
lighted, while the " litde feller— Paul B. by
name — " is carried on his happy father's
shoulder to his bed upstairs.

Finally, Jim comes down, having seen
his pet asleep, and finds the company talk-
ing about Talbot He and his pretty, worldly
wife, finding themselves somewhat too inti-
mately associated with the bad fame of
Robot Belcher, had retired to a country
seat on the Hudson — a nest which they
feathered well with the profits of the old
connection.

And now, as they take leave of one another
for the night, and shake hands in token of
their good-will, and their satisfaction with
the pleasures of the evening, Jim says :

" Mr. Benedict, that was a good speech
o' ^um. It struck me favorble an'
sensed me some considable. Td no idee



ye could spread so afore folks. I shouldn't
wonder if ye was right about Proverdence.
It seems kind o' queer that somebody or
somethin' should be takin' keer o' you an'
me, but I vow I don't see how it's all ben
did, if so be as nobody nor nothin' has took
keer o' me an' you too. It seems reasomble
that somethin's ben to work all the time
that I hain't seed. The trouble with me is
that I can't understand how a bein' as turns
out worlds as if they was nothin' more nw
snow-balls would thmk o' stoppin' to pay
'tendon to sech a feller as Jim Fenton."

"You are larger than a sparrow, Jim,"
says Mr. Benedict, with a smile.

"That's so."

" Larger than a hair."

Jim puts up his hand, brushes down the
stiff crop that crowns his head, and responds
with a comical smile :

" I don' know 'bout that."

Then Jim pauses as if about to make
some fiuther remark, thinks better of it, and
then, putting his big arm around his Httle
wife, leads her off, upstairs.

The lights of the great house go out one
after another, the cataracts sing the inmates
to sleep, the summer moon witches with the
mist, the great, sweet heaven bends over the
dreaming town, and there we leave our
friends at rest, to take up the burden of
their lives again upon the happy morrow,
beyond our feeble following, but still under
the loving eye and guiding hand to which
we confidently and gratefiilly commit them.



THE MOCKING-BIRD. •



Bkothe&s, I greet yon! wond'ring at the call
Which bids me lift my voice within this hall.
Was there snch dearth of singers in the land
That yon mast seek for one in gown and band?
Misled Committee! what induced your dream
That verse like preadiing could be done by steam ?
Why bid me rhymes when everybody knows
The Parson's andent vested ri^t to prose?
Is not his Pegasus a stable hack.
Equally poor for saddle, road or track ?
Does shepherd's pipe pertain to Pastor's crook?
lisps he in numbers (save the Pentateuch)?
SbUl he attempt to wake the living lyre
With Stemhold's pathos and with Hopkins' fire?

__ delivered in the Chaod of Harvard Uni-
-, Jaly I, 1875, before die Phi Beta Kappa



Soeieqr.



What could you look for save a sermon song.
Dull as a Dudleian, and twice as long?

Yet, since you bade me, at the call I come

To beat the old ecclesiastic drum.

I fed the mantle of my Pilgrim sires

(N. B.— All Quakers co<dced at Pilgrim fires)

Descend upon me. — Cotton Mather, aid !

Materialize, and cease to be a shade;

Add to the wonders of New England's shore

In me, thy medium, one last marvel more!

So may my hour 'mid shouts of glee expire.

Each minute winged with wit that does not tire.

And you, oblivious of the boiled and roast !

Of crisp oration, and of crackling toast.

May bid me, as the good old custom was,

''Turn up the sand, and take another glass."



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THE MOCKING-BIRD.



I



Bat since the wished afflatus don't display
It's operation in the normal way, —
(To quote a line which critics fiuled to mend) —
*' Innocolation, heavenly maid, descend ! ''
Let me, as skillful cooks a banquet make
From one poor cantle of tough equine steak,
By condiments, adroitly from their shelves
Mixed tUl the viands hardly know themselves —
So, by judicious and adaptive art,
Let me from many minstrels take a part —
Beg, borrow, steal (the wise *• convey " it call)
Some unconsidered trifle from them all.

Yet iEsop warns the poet who presumes
Like £abled daw to strut in pilfered plumes,
That fate may force him in die critic strife
To drop his quills and scamper for his life.
Taught by such risks, I copy not the crow.
Of whom the hunchback prattled long ago ;
But fain would emulate a wiser fowl.
Bird of the night (I do not mean the owl).
No; let my theme be with approval heard —
Tjrpe of my country's muse— The Mocking-Bird—

Subdued in pltmfiage, sensitive of ear.

Gliding through thickets when there's danger near.

He does not prink, true poets never do ;

He leaves sudi fopperies to the cockatoo.

The parrot tribe, whose ear-offending notes

Betray their breeding when they ope their throats.

Graceful in motion, elegant though shy.

His is the style we judge not by the eye.

Fine feathers mark the finch of gilded wing ;

The bird of genius calmly waits to sing.

Ah, then ! the magic of his art is shown

In twenty voices, none of them his own ;

Now thrush, now robin, — then to hear, you think

The sweet bravura of the bobolink.

The blackbird's lilting call, the bluebird's sharp

Staccato chiming with the March wind's harp.

The round he nms of each familiar strain.

We scarce catch one before he's off again —

With the hawk's scream, the fnghten'd hen deceives ;

Twitters like sparrows underneath the eaves;

Trills till the vexed canary in his cage

Sulks on his perch in jealous, baffled rage;

Yelps like the puppy—like the kitten mews.

The lazy pigeon on the bam outcoos.

And crowns the whole with one triumphant note

Of joyous laughter from the human throat

But when in midnight's hush the full moon's beam

Flings the black shadows on Pilatka's stream,

Silv'ring the summits of the moss-hung pines,

And decks with diamond dews the tangled vines.

Then, when all else is hushed, hear him repeat

His native love-notes, witching, wild and sweet

Then take the slender fancy I pursue.

It shall be varied, if it is not new.

Hear first the legend of the youth of Lynn,

The sad, sad story of what might have been.

Sam Silsbee on Commencement Day
S«w the Governoi't escort fill the way.



Beneath his drab vest ran a dmD
As the band struck up at Dsma HiU,

And un£riendlike yearnings drew his eyes
To the vain parade with a shy surprise.

He followed on where the dms be t ween
The steeple-house o'ertopped die green.



He slipped by the men widi the slaves of red
Guardmg the door, and, hat on head :

Stared at the stage where, row by row,
, Sate the goodly professional show.

He heard with awe the statdv swdD
With which the Salutatory feu

From practiced lips, whose accents free
Were all of them sounded to "isdme : "

Then Kstened with feelings of rdief
To vernacular disquisitioiu brief;

Drank in with ddtdht the oration bold,
Which American scholarship's missicMi told.

"And oh," thought h^ "if I might dare
Some day to stand at that antique duur,

"And bow the neck that has never bent
In response to that gray old President,

"And hear, ere I took my proud A B.,
'Oratio expectatur' from me.

" Thereafter," diougfat he, " I might come to sport
My lore in die great and general court;

"Or, clad in the saMe garment trim.
Give out from a pulpit a sounding hymn;

"Or rise to plead in the cause of Doe
The wrongs inflicted by Rkhard Roe ;

"Or, fingering pulses ill at ease,
Co^n from their throbbing golden fees;

" Or, best of all, in a sBken gown
Sit 'mid diose grave professors down."

But Sq>tember's sun wtdi dusty ray
Made hot the nocm of that autunm day,

And Samuel turned from die arched door.
And went back to Ins native Ljmn once more;

To the "thee" and "diou" and the ceaseless din
Of pegs on the lapstone hammered in ;

To Woolman's journal and Barclay quaint,
Undnctured by pagan learning's taint;

To the ways of Friends, precise and calm,
Unvexed by sermon and metric psalm.

Yet oft on a " First-day " afternoon.
In the dreamy dasrs of leafy June,

He gazed the mardiy levds o'er

To &e hooded tunets of Godiic Gore,

That rose above the elm trees feir.

And his heart grew hot with a secret care

As he thought of the boola m those akxivcs dim.
All sealed volumes unto him;

And he sighed— "O Fox. thy 'inward B^'
Is outer darkness upon my sight

"And I woukl diat mande drab of tfabe
Had fallen on other sbouklen than nune.**

**0 bird irreverent I O miblushing^bard !
Knowest thou not that what is modced is marred? "
I hear yon mnrmw. Bear with me awhile^
I do but ask a recognizing smile.
Forgive me, then — if imitation be,
As saith the proverb, truest flattery.



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I cannot flatter, — scarce find fitting praise

For him who charmed me in my school-boy days.

And earnest admiration gives the art

To catch the trick of verses known by heart.

Who next? *Tis one whose master-hand defies

The cruder copy which the tyro tries.

A dab of yeUow tinged with rays of white

Stands for a daisy to the poorest sight

Bat who pan match with subtle workmanship



Online LibraryFrancis HallThe Century, Volume 11 → online text (page 31 of 163)