James Fenimore Cooper.

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interests; I have found some trees much plea-
santer than others, I allow, and the pleasantest
tree I can remember was one of my own, out of
which the sawyer made a thousand feet of clear
stuff, to say nothing of middlings. The house
I was born in was pulled down shortly after
my birth, as, indeed, has been its successor, so
I can tell you nothing on that head ; and, as
for altars, there are none in my persuasion."

" The church of Mr. Bragg has stripped
itself as naked as he would strip everything
else, if he could," said John Effingham. " I
much question if he ever knelt, even ; much
less before an altar."

" We are of the standing order, certainly/'
returned Aristobulus, glancing towards the
ladies to discover how they took his wit ; " and
Mr. John Effingham is as near right as a man
need be in a matter of faith. In the way of


houses, Mr. Effingham, I believe it is the
general opinion you might have done better
with your own than to have repaired it. Had
the materials been disposed of, they would
have sold well ; and by running a street
through the property, a pretty sum might
have been realized."

61 In which case I should have been without
a house, Mr. Bragg."

" It would have been no great matter if you
had got another on cheaper land. The old
residence would even have made a good factory,
or an inn."

" Sir, I am a cat, and like the places I have
long frequented."

Aristobulus, though not easily daunted, was
awed by Mr. Effingham's manner, and Eve
saw that her father's fine face had flushed with
feeling. This interruption, therefore, changed
the discourse, which has been related at some
length, as likely to give the reader a better
insight into a character that will fill some
space in our narrative, than a more laboured



" I trust your owners, Captain Truck," said
John Effingham, by way of turning the con
versation into another channel, " are fully
satisfied with the manner in which you saved
their property from the hands of the Arabs ?"

" Men, when money is concerned, are more
disposed to remember how it was lost than how
it was recovered, religion and trade being the
two poles on such a point," returned the old
seaman with a serious face. " On the whole,
my dear sir, I have reason to be satisfied, how
ever ; and so long as you, my passengers and
my friends, are not inclined to blame me, I
shall feel as if I had done, at least, a part of
my duty."

Eve rose from the table, went to a side
board, and returned, when she gracefully
placed before the master of the Montauk a rich
and beautifully chased punch-bowl in silver.
Almost at the same moment Pierre offered a
salver that contained a capital watch, a pair of
small silver tongs to hold a coal, and a deck-
trumpet, in solid silver.

" These are so many faint testimonies of our


feelings," said Eve ; " and you will do us the
favour to retain them as evidences of the es
teem created by your skill, kindness, and cou

" My dear young lady P cried the old tar,
touched to the soul by the feeling with which
Eve acquitted herself of this little duty, " my
dear young lady ! well, God bless you ! God
bless you all ! and you, too, Mr. John Effing-
ham, for that matter ! and Sir George That
I should ever have taken that run-away for a
gentleman and a baronet ! though I suppose
there are some silly baronets as well as silly
lords who retain such !" glancing furiously at
Mr. Aristobulus Bragg. " May the Lord for
get me in the heaviest hurricane, if I ever
forget whence these things came, and why they
were given !"

Here the worthy captain was obliged to
swallow some wine by way of relieving his
emotion ; and Aristobulus, profiting by the
opportunity, coolly took the bowl which, to
use a word of his own, he hefted in his hand,
with a view to form some tolerably accurate


notion of its intrinsic value. Captain Truck's
eye caught the action, and he reclaimed his
property quite as unceremoniously as it had
been taken away, nothing but the presence of
the ladies preventing an outbreaking that
would have amounted to a declaration of

66 With your permission, sir," said the cap
tain drily, after he had recovered the bowl,
not only without the other's consent, but, in
some degree, against his will. " This bowl
is as precious in my eyes as if it were made of
my father's bones."

" You may, indeed, think so," returned the
land-agent, " for its cost would not be less
than one hundred dollars."

<{ Cost, sir ! But, my dear young lady,
let us talk of the real value. For what part of
these things am I indebted to you ?"

" The bowl is my offering," Eve answered
smilingly, though a tear glistened in her eye
as she witnessed the strong unsophisticated
feeling of the old tar. " I thought it might
serve sometimes to bring me to your recollection


when it was well filled in honour of 6 sweet
hearts and wives.' "

" It shall it shall, by the Lord ! and Mr.
Saunders needs look to it if he do not keep
this work as bright as a cruising frigate's
bottom. To whom do I owe the coal-tongs ?"

" They come from Mr. John Effingham,
who insists that he will get nearer to your
heart than any of us, though the gift be of so
little cost."

" He does not know me, my dear young
lady : nobody ever got so near my heart as
you ; no, not even my own dear pious old
mother. But I thank Mr. John Effingham
from my inmost spirit, and shall seldom smoke
without thinking of him. The watch I know
is Mr. Effingham's, and I ascribe the trum
pet to Sir George."

The bows of the several gentlemen assured
the captain he was right, and he shook each
of them cordially by the hand, protesting in
the fulness of his heart, that nothing would
give him greater pleasure than to be able to
go through again in their good company the


same perilous scenes as those from which they
had so lately escaped.

While this was going on, Aristobulus, not
withstanding the rebuke he had received, con
trived to get each article in succession into
his hands, and by dint of poising it on a


finger, and by examining it, to form some
approximative notion of its inherent value.
The watch he actually opened, taking as good
a survey of its works as the circumstances of
the case would very well allow.

" I respect these things, sir, more than
you respect your father's grave," said Captain
Truck sternly, as he rescued the last article
from what he thought the impious grasp of
Aristobulus ; " and, cat or no cat, they sink
or swim with me for the remainder of the
cruise. If there is any virtue in a will, which
I am sorry to say I hear there is not any
longer, they shall share my last bed with me,
be it ashore or be it afloat. My dear young
lady ! fancy all the rest ; but, depend on it,
punch will be sweeter than ever taken from



this vessel, and ' sweethearts and wives' will
never be so honoured again."

" We are going to a ball this evening, at
the house of one with whom I am sufficiently
intimate to take the liberty of introducing a
stranger ; and I wish, gentlemen," said Mr.
Effingham, bowing to Aristobulus and the cap
tain, by way of changing the conversation, " you
would do me the favour to be of our party."

Mr. Bragg acquiesced very cheerfully, and
as a matter of course ; while Captain Truck,
after protesting his unfitness for such scenes,
was finally prevailed on by John Effingham
to comply with the request also. The ladies
remained only a few minutes longer at table,
but Mr. Effingham followed the old custom of
sitting at the bottle until summoned to the
drawing-room, a usage that continues to exist
in America for a reason no better than the fact
that it continues to exist in England, it being
almost certain that it will cease in New York
the season after it is known to have ceased in




" Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful/'


As Captain Truck asked permission to ini
tiate the new coal-tongs by lighting a cigar,
Sir George Templemore contrived to ask
Pierre, aside, if the ladies would allow him
to join them. The decided consent having
been obtained, the baronet quietly stole from
table, and was soon beyond the odours of the

" You miss the censer, and the frankin
cense," said Eve, laughing, as Sir George en
tered the drawing-room ; " but you will re
member we have no church establishment, and
dare not take such liberties with the ceremo
nials of the altar."


" That is a short-lived custom with us, I
fancy, though far from an unpleasant one.
You do me injustice, however, in supposing I
am merely running away from the fumes of
the dinner."

" No, no ; we understand perfectly well that
you have also something to do with the fumes of
flattery, and we will at once fancy all has been
said that the occasion requires. Is not our
honest old captain a jewel, in his way ?"

" Upon my word, since you allow me to
speak of your father's guests, I do not think
it possible to have brought together two men
who are so completely the opposites of each
other, as Captain Truck and this Mr. Aristo-
bulus Bragg. The latter is the most extraor
dinary person it ever was my good fortune
to meet."

" You call him a person Pierre calls
him a personage ; I fancy he considers it very
much a matter of accident, whether he is to
pass his days in the one character, or in the
other. Cousin Jack assures me, that, while
this man accepts almost any duty that he


chooses to assign him, he would not deem it at
all a violation of the convenances to aim at the
throne in the White House.""

" Certainly with no hopes of attaining it."

" I cannot answer for that. The man
must undergo many essential changes, and
much radical improvement, before such a cli
max to his fortunes can ever occur ; but the
instant you do away with the claims of heredi
tary power, the door is opened to a new chap
ter of accidents. Alexander of Russia styled
himself un heureux accident, and should it
ever be our fortune to receive Mr. Bragg as
President, we shall only have to term him un
malheureux accident. I believe that will con
tain all the difference."

" Your republicanism is indomitable, Miss
Effingham, and I shall abandon the attempt to
convert you to safer principles, more especially
as I find you supported by both the Mr. Effing-
hams, who, while they condemn so much at
home, seem singularly attached to their own
system at the bottom.

" They condemn, Sir George Templeraore,


because, though they know perfection to be
hopeless, they feel it to be unsafe and un
wise to eulogize defects ; and they are attached,
because near views of other countries have con
vinced them that, comparatively at least, bad
as we confessedly are, we are still better than
most of our neighbours."

" I can assure you," said Grace, " that many
of the opinions of Mr. John Effingham, in par
ticular, are not at all the opinions that are most
in vogue here; he rather censures what we like,
and likes what we censure. Even my dear
uncle t is thought to be a little heterodox on
such subjects."

" I can readily believe it," returned Eve,
steadily. " These gentlemen having become
familiar with better things in the way of
taste, and of the purely agreeable, cannot dis
credit their own knowledge so much as to extol
that which their own experience tells them is
relatively good. Now, Grace, if you will re
flect a moment, you will perceive, that people
necessarily like the best of their own tastes,
until they come to a knowledge of better ; and


that they as necessarily quarrel with the un
pleasant facts that surround them ; although
these facts, as consequences of a political sys
tem, may be much less painful than those of
other systems of which they have no know
ledge. In the. one case, they like their own
best, simply because it is their own best ; and
they dislike their own worst, because it is their
own worst. We cherish a taste, in the nature
of things, without entering into any compari
sons ; for when the means of comparison offer,
and we find improvements, it ceases to be a
taste at all ; while to complain of any positive
grievance is in the nature of man, I fear."
" I think a republic odious !"
" La republique est une horreur /"
Grace thought a republic odious, without
knowing anything of any other state of society,
and because it contained odious things, and
Mademoiselle Viefville called a republic une
horreur, because heads fell and anarchy pre
vailed in her own country during its early
struggles for liberty. Though Eve seldom
spoke more sensibly, and never more tempe
rately, than while delivering the foregoing opi-


nicns, Sir George Templemore doubted whe
ther she had all that exquisite finesse and deli
cacy of features that he had so much admired,
and when Grace burst out in the sudden and
senseless exclamation we have recorded, he
turned towards her sweet and animated coun
tenance, which, for the moment at least, he
fancied the loveliest of the two.

Eve Effingham had yet to learn that she had
just entered into the most intolerant society,
meaning purely as society, and in connexion
with what are usually called liberal senti
ments in Christendom. We do not mean by
this, that it would be less safe to utter a ge
nerous opinion in favour of human rights in
America than in any other country, for the
laws and the institutions become active in this
respect ; but, simply, that the resistance of the
more refined to the encroachments of the unre
fined, has brought about a state of feeling a
feeling that is seldom just and never philoso
phical which has created a silent but almost
unanimous bias against the effects of the insti
tutions, in what is called the world. In Europe,
one rarely utters a sentiment of this nature,


under circumstances in which it is safe to do so
at all, without finding a very general sympathy
in the auditors ; but in the circle into which
Eve had now fallen, it was almost considered a
violation of the proprieties to intimate that the
mass of men have rights. We do not wish to
be understood as saying more than we mean,
however ; for we have no manner of doubt that
a large portion of the dissentients even, are so,
idly and without reflection, or for the very na
tural reason given by our heroine ; but we do
wish to be understood as meaning that such is
the outward appearance which American so
ciety presents to every stranger, and to every
native of the country too, on his return
from a residence among other people. Of
its taste, wisdom, and safety we shall not now
speak, but content ourselves with merely say
ing, that the effect of Grace's exclamation on
Eve was unpleasant, and that, unlike the
baronet, she thought her cousin was never less
handsome than while her pretty face was co
vered with the pettish frown it had assumed
for the occasion.


Sir George Templemore had tact enough to
perceive there had been a slight jar in the feel
ings of these two young women, and he adroitly
changed the conversation. With Eve he had
entire confidence on the score of provincialisms,
and without exactly remembering the part
Grace would be likely to take in such a discus
sion, he introduced the subject of general so
ciety in New York, a little mal adroitment,

" I am anxious to know," he said, " if you
have your sets as we have them in London
and Paris? Whether you have your Faubourg
St. Germain and your chaussee d'Antin ; your
Piccadilly, Grosvenor, and Russell Squares ?"

" I must refer you to Miss Van Courtlandt
for an answer to that question," said Eve.

Grace looked up blushing, for it was a
novel and exciting circumstance to be question
ed by an intelligent foreigner on such a subject.

" I do not know that I rightly understand
the allusions," she said ; " although I am
afraid Sir George Templemore means to ask if
we have distinctions in society ?"


" And why afraid, Miss Van Courtlandt ?"

" Because it strikes me such a question
would imply a doubt of our civilization."

" There are frequently more distinctions
than obvious differences," observed Eve.
" Even London and Paris are not above the
imputation of this folly. Sir George Tem-
plemore, if I understand him, wishes to
know if we estimate gentility by streets, and
quality by squares."

" Not exactly that either, Miss Effingham ;
but whether, among those, who may very well
pass for gentlemen and ladies, you enter into
the minute distinctions that are elsewhere found.
Whether you have your * exclusives,' and your
elegants and elegantes, or whether you deem
all within the pale as on an equality ?"

" Lesfemmes Americaines sont bien jolies /"
exclaimed Mademoiselle Viefville.

" It is impossible that coteries should not
be formed in a town of three hundred thousand

" I do not mean even that. Is there no dis
tinction between coteries? is not one placed


above another by opinion, by silent consent,
if not by positive ordinances ?"

" Certainly, the distinction to which Sir
George Templemore alludes, is to be met with,"
said Grace, who gained courage to speak as she
found the subject getting more clearly within
her comprehension. " All the old families, for
instance, keep more together than others;
though it is the subject of regret that they are
not much more particular than they are."

" Old families !" exclaimed Sir George Tem
plemore, with quite as much stress as a well-
bred man could very well lay on the words in
such circumstances.

" Old families," repeated Eve, with all that
emphasis which the baronet himself had hesi
tated about giving ; " as old, at least, as two
centuries can make them ; and this, too, with
origins beyond that period, like those of the
rest of the world. Indeed, the American has a
better gentility than common, as, besides his
own, he may take root in that of Europe."

" Do not misconceive me, Miss Effingham ;
I am fully aware that the people of this coun-


try are exactly like the people of all other civi
lized countries in this respect ; but my sur
prise is, that, in a republic, you should have
such a term even as that of ' old families ' "

" The surprise has arisen then, I must be
permitted to say, from not having sufficiently
reflected on the real state of the country. There
are two great causes of distinction everywhere,
wealth and merit. Now, if a race of Americans
continue conspicuous in their own society,
through either or both of these causes, for a
succession of generations, why have they not
the same claims to be considered members of
old families, as well as Europeans, under pre
cisely the same circumstances ? A republican
history is as much a historv as a monarchical
history, and a historical name in one is quite
as much entitled to consideration as a histori
cal name in the other. Nay, you admit this
in your European republics, while you wish to
deny it in ours."

" I must insist in having proofs : if we per
mit these charges to be brought against us
without evidence. Mademoiselle Viefville, we


shall finally be defeated through our own

" C'est une belle illustration, cette de Vanti-
quite !" observed the governess, in a matter-
of-course tone.

" If you insist on proof, what answer can
you urge to the " Capponi sonnez vos trom-
pettes, et je vaisfaire sormer mes cloches" or to
the von Erlachs, a family that has headed so
many resistances to oppression and invasion
for five centuries ?"

" All this is very true," returned Sir George,
" and yet I confess it is not the way in which
it is usual with us to consider American so

" A descent from Washington, with a cha
racter and a social position to correspond,
would not be absolutely vulgar, notwithstand

" Nay, if you press me so hard, I must ap
peal to Miss Van Courtlandt for succour."

" On this point you will find no support in
that quarter. Miss Van Courtlandt has an his
torical name herself, and will not forego an


honest pride, in order to relieve one of the
hostile powers from a dilemma."

" While I admit that time and merit must,
in a certain sense, place families in America in
the same situation as families in Europe, I can
not see that it is in conformity with your in
stitutions to lay the same stress on the circum

" In that we are perfectly of one mind ; fol* I
think the American has much the best reason
to be proud of his family," said Eve, quietly.

" You delight in paradoxes, apparently, this
evening, Miss Effingham, for now I feel very
certain you can hardly make out a plausible
defence of this new position."

" If I had my old ally, Mr. Powis, here,"
said Eve, touching the fender unconsciously
with her little foot, and perceptibly losing the
animation and pleasantry of her voice in tones
that were gentler if not melancholy, " I should
ask him to explain this matter to you, for be
was singularly ready in such replies. As he is
absent, however, I will attempt the duty my
self. In Europe, office, power, and conse-


quently consideration, are all hereditary ;
whereas in this country they are not, but de
pend on selection. Now, surely, one has more
reason to be proud of ancestors who have been
chosen to fill responsible stations, than of an
cestors who have filled them solely through the
accidents, heureux ou malheureux, of birth.
The only difference between England and Ame
rica, as respects family, is, that you add positive
rank to that to which we only give consideration.
Sentiment is at the bottom of our nobility, and
the Great Seal at the bottom of yours. And,
now, having established the fact that there are
families in America, let us return whence we
started, and inquire how far they have an in
fluence in every-day society."

" To ascertain this we must apply to Miss
Van Courtlandt."

" Much less than they ought, if my opinion
is to be taken," said Grace, warmly, " for the
great inroad of strangers has completely de
ranged all the suitablenesses in that respect."

" And yet, I dare say, these very strangers
do good," rejoined Eve. " Many of them must


have been respectable in their native places,
and ought to be an acquisition to a society
which in its nature must be tant-soit peu

" Oh!" cried Grace, " I can tolerate any
thing but the Hajjis P

" The what ?" asked Sir George, eagerly :
'' will you suffer me to ask an explanation,
Miss Van Courtlandt?"

" The Hajjis," repeated Grace laughing,
though she blushed to the eyes.

The baronet looked from one cousin to the
other, and then turned an inquiring glance on
Mademoiselle Viefville. The latter gave a slight
shrug, and seemed to ask an explanation of the
young lady's meaning, herself.

" A Hajji is one of a class, Sir George Tem-
plemore," Eve at length said, " to which you
and I have both the honour of belonging,"

" No, not Sir George Tern plem ore," inter
rupted Grace, with a precipitation that she in
stantly regretted; " he is not an American."

" Then I alone, of all present, have that ad
vantage. It means the pilgrimage to Paris,


instead of Mecca ; and the pilgrim must be an
American instead of a Mohammedan."

" Nay, Eve, you are not a Hajji, neither."

" Then there is some qualification with
which I am not yet acquainted : will you re
lieve our doubts, Grace, and let us know the
precise character of the animal."

" You stayed too long to be a Hajji one
must get inoculated merely, not take the dis
ease and become cured, to be a true Hajji."

" I thank you, Miss Van Courtlandt, for this
description," returned Eve, in her quiet way.
" I hope, as I have gone through the malady,
it has not left me pitted."

" I should like to see one of these Hajjis !"
cried Sir George. " Are they of both sexes ?"

Grace laughed, and nodded her head.

" Will you point out a Hajji to me, should
we be so fortunate as to encounter one this
evening ?"

Again Grace laughed, and nodded her head.

" I have been thinking, Grace," said Eve
after a short pause, " that we may give Sir
George Templemore a better idea of the sets



about which he is so curious, by doing what is
no more than a duty on our part, and letting

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Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperEve Effingham : or, Home → online text (page 3 of 13)