James Fenimore Cooper.

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him profit by the opportunity. Mrs. Hawker
receives this evening without ceremony ; we
have not yet sent our answers to Mrs. Jarvis,
and might very well look in upon her for half
an hour, after which we shall be in very good
season for Mrs. Houston's ball."

" Surely you would not wish, Eve, to take
Sir George Templemore to such a house as that
of Mrs. Jarvis !"

" / do not wish to take Sir George Temple-
more anywhere, for your Hajjis have opinions
of their own on such subjects ; but, as cousin
Jack will accompany us, he may very well con
fer that important favour. I dare say Mrs.
Jarvis will not look upon his doing so as too
great a liberty.""

" I will answer for it, that nothing Mr. John
Effingham can do, will be thought mal a propos
by Mrs. Jared Jarvis. His position in society
is too well established, and hers is too equivo
cal, to leave any doubt on that head."

" This, you perceive, settles the point of


coteries" said Eve to the baronet. " Vo
lumes might be written to establish principles ;
but when persons can do anything they please,
wherever they like, it may be safely said that
they are privileged."

" All very true, as to the fact, Miss Effing-
ham ; but I should like exceedingly to know
the reason."

"Such things are very frequently decided
without a reason at all. You are a little exact
ing to require a reason in New York, for that
which is done in London without the pretence
of such a thing. It is sufficient that Mrs.
Jarvis will be delighted to see you without an

invitation, and that Mrs. Houston would, at


least, think it odd were you to take the same
liberty with her."

" It follows," said Sir George, smiling,
" that Mrs. Jarvis is much the more hospitable
person of the two."

" And, Eve, what shall be done with Cap
tain Truck and Mr. Bragg?" asked Grace
" we cannot take them to Mrs. Hawker's."

" Aristobulus would, indeed, be a little out



of place in such a house, but as for the excel
lent, brave, straight-forward old captain, he is
worthy to go anywhere. / shall be delighted
to present him to Mrs. Hawker myself."

After a little consultation between the ladies,
it was settled that nothing should be said of the
first two visits to Mr. Bragg, but that Mr.
Effingham should be requested to bring him to
the ball, at the proper hour, and that the rest
of the party should go quietly off to the other
places without mentioning their project. As
soon as this was arranged the ladies retired
to dress, Sir George Templemore passing into
the library to amuse himself with a book the
while ; where, however, he was soon joined by
John Effingham. Here the former revived the
conversation on distinctions in society, with the
confusion of thought that usually distinguishes
a European notion on such matters, as they
are connected with America.




" And I."

And I."

"Where shall we go?"
Midsummer Night's Dream.

GRACE VAN COURTLANDT was the first to make
her appearance after the retreat from the draw
ing-room. It has often been said that, pretty as
the American females incontestably are, they ap
pear better, upon the whole, in demi-toiletle than
when attired for a ball. With what would be
termed full-dress in other parts of the world,
they are little acquainted; but reversing the
rule of Europe, where the married bestow the
most care on their personal appearance, and the
single are taught to observe a rigid simplicity,
Grace now seemed sufficiently ornamented in


the eyes of the fastidious baronet, while, at
the same time, he thought her less obnoxious
to the criticism just mentioned than most of
her young countrywomen in general.

An embonpoint that was just sufficient to
distinguish her from most of her companions, a
fine colour, brilliant eyes, a sweet smile, rich
hair, and such feet and hands as Sir George
Templemore had, somehow he scarcely knew
how, himself fancied could only belong to the
daughters of peers and princes, rendered Grace
so strikingly attractive this evening, that the
young baronet began to think her even hand
somer than her cousin. There was also a charm
in the unsophisticated simplicity of Grace, that
was particularly alluring to a man educated
amidst the coldness and mannerism of the higher
classes of England. In Grace, too, this simpli
city was chastened by perfect decorum and
retenue of deportment, the exuberance of the
new school of manners not having helped to
impair the dignity of her character, or to
weaken the charm of diffidence. She was, cer
tainly, less finished in her breeding than Eve; a


circumstance, perhaps, that induced Sir George
Templemore to fancy her slightly more simple ;
but she was never imfeminine or unlady-like;
and the term vulgar, in despite of all the capri
cious and arbitrary rules of fashion, could never,
under any circumstances, be applied to Grace
Van Courtlandt. In this respect, nature seemed
to have aided her ; for had not her associations
raised her above such an imputation, no one
could believe that she would have been obnoxi
ous to the charge, had her lot in life been cast
even many degrees lower than it actually was.

It is well known that, after a sufficient simi
larity has been created by education to prevent
any violent shocks to our habits or princi
ples, we most affect those whose characters and
dispositions the least resemble our own. This
was probably one of the reasons why Sir George
Templemore, who for some time had been well
assured of the hopelessness of his suit with
Eve, began to regard her scarcely less lovely
cousin with an interest of a novel and lively na
ture. Quick-sighted and deeply interested in
Grace's happiness, Miss Effingham had already


detected this change in the young baronet's in
clinations, and though sincerely rejoiced on her
own account, she did riot observe it without
concern ; for she understood better than most of
her countrywomen how greatly the peace of
mind of an American woman is endangered by
transplanting her into the more artificial circles
of the Old World.

u I shall rely on your kind offices in parti
cular, Miss Van Courtlandt, to reconcile Mrs.
Jarvis and Mrs. Hawker to the liberty I am
about to take," cried Sir George, as Grace burst
on them in the library in a blaze of beauty,
that, in her case, was aided by her attire ; " and
cold-hearted and unchristian-like women they
must be, indeed, to resist such a mediator."

Grace was unaccustomed to adulation of this
sort, for though the baronet spoke gaily, and
like one half trifling, his look of admiration
was too honest to escape the instinctive percep
tion of woman. She blushed deeply, and
then recovering herself instantly said with
a na'ivett that had a thousand charms with her


" I do not see why Miss Effingham and my
self should hesitate about introducing you at
either place. Mrs. Hawker is a relative and an
intimate an intimate of mine at least and as
for poor Mrs. Jarvis, she is the daughter of an
old neighbour, and will be too glad to see us
to raise objections. I fancy any one of a cer
tain ." Grace hesitated and laughed.

" Any one of a certain ?" said Sir George,

" Any one from this house, 15 resumed the
young lady, correcting the intended expression,
" will be welcome in Spring Street."

" Pure, native, aristocracy !" exclaimed the
baronet, with an air of affected triumph.
" This, you see, Mr. John Effingham, is in aid
of my argument."

" I am quite of your opinion," returned the
gentleman addressed " as much native aristo
cracy as you please, but no hereditary."

The entrance of Eve and Mademoiselle Vief-
ville interrupted this pleasantry, and the car
riages being just then announced, John Effing
ham went in quest of Captain Truck, who was



in the drawing-room with Mr. Effingham and

" I have left Ned to discuss trespass-suits
and leases with his land agent/' said John
Effingham, as he followed Eve to the street-
door. " By ten o'clock, they will have taxed
a pretty bill of costs between them !"

Mademoiselle Viefville followed John Effing
ham ; Grace came next ; and Sir George Tern-
plemore and the Captain brought up the rear.
Grace wondered that the young baronet did not
offer her his arm, for she had been accustomed
to receive this attention from the other sex, in
a hundred situations in which it was rather
an incumbrance than a service : Sir George,
however, would have hesitated about offer
ing such assistance, as an act of uncalled-for

Miss Van Courtlandt being much in society,
kept a chariot for her own use, and the three
ladies took their seats in it, while the gentle
men took possession of Mr. Effingham's coach.
The order was given to drive to Spring Street,
and the whole party proceeded.


The acquaintance between the Effinghams
and Mrs. Jarvis had arisen from their being
near, and, in a certain sense, sociable neigh
bours in the country. Their town associa
tions, however, were as distinct as if they dwelt
in different hemispheres, with the excep
tion of an occasional morning call, and, now
and then, of a family dinner given by Mr.
Effingham. Such had been the nature of the
intercourse previously to the family of the lat
ter going abroad, and there were now symp
toms of its being renewed on the same quiet
and friendly footing as formerly. No two
beings could be less alike, in many respects,
than Mr. Jarvis and his wife. The former was
a plain, pains-taking, sensible man of business,
while the latter had a craving desire to figure
in the world of fashion. The first was perfectly
aware that Mr. Effingham in education, habits,
associations, and manners, at least, was of a
class entirely distinct from his own, and with
out troubling himself to analyze the cause,
and without any feeling of envy or of unkind-
ness, he was totally exempt from any undue


deference or unmanly cringing, and quietly
submitted to let things take their course. His
wife, on the other hand, not unfrequently ex
pressed her surprise that any one in New York
should presume to be better than themselves ;
and a remark of this nature gave rise to the
following short conversation, on the very morn
ing of the day on which she entertained the
party to which we are now conducting the

" How do you know, my dear, that any one
does think himself better than ourselves ?" de
manded the husband.

" Why do they not all visit us then ?"

" Why do you not visit everybody your
self? a pretty household we should have, if you
visited everybody who lives even in this one

" You surely would not have me visiting all
the grocers 1 wives at the corners, and all the
other rubbish of the neighbourhood ! What I
mean is, that all the people of a certain sort
ought to visit all the people of the same sort,
in the same town."


" You surely would make exceptions, at
least, on account of number. I saw number
three thousand six hundred and fifty this very
day on a cart, and if the wives of all these cart-
men were to visit one another, each would have
to make ten visits daily, in order to get through
the list in a twelvemonth."

" I have always bad luck in making you
comprehend these things, Mr. Jarvis."

" I am afraid, my dear, it is because you do
not very clearly comprehend them yourself.
You first say that everybody ought to visit
everybody, and then you insist you will visit
none but those you think good enough to be
visited by Mrs. Jared Jams."

" What I mean is, that no one in New
York has a right to think himself better than
we are."

" Better ? In what sense better ?"

" In such a sense as to induce them to think
themselves too good to visit us."

" That may be your opinion, my dear, but
others may judge differently. You clearly
think yourself too good to visit Mrs. Onion,


the grocer's wife, who is a capital woman in her
way ; and how do we know that certain people
may not fancy we are not quite refined enough
for them? Refinement is a positive thing,
Mrs. Jarvis, and has much more influence on
the pleasures of association than money. We
may want a hundred little perfections that
escape our ignorance, and which those, who
are trained to such matters, deem essentials."

" I never met with a man of so little social
spirit, Mr. Jarvis ! Really, you are quite un-
suited to be a citizen of a republican country."

" Republican ! I do not really see what re
publican has to do with the question. In the
first place it is a droll word for you to use in
this sense, at least ; for, taking your own mean
ing of the term, you are as anti-republican as
any woman I know. But a republic does not
necessarily infer equality of condition, or even
equality of rights; it means merely the sub
stitution of the right of the commonwealth for
the right of a prince. Had you said a demo
cracy there would have been some plausibility
in using the word, though even then its appli-


cation would have been illogical. If I am a
freeman and a democrat, I hope I have the
justice to allow others to be just as free and
democratic as I am myself."

"And who wishes the contrary? all I
claim is to be considered a fit associate for any
body in this country in these United States of

" I would quit these United States of Ame
rica next week, if I thought there existed any
necessity for such an intolerable state of

" Mr. Jarvis I and you, too, one of the
committee of Tammany Hall !"

" Yes, Mrs. Jarvis, and I one of the com
mittee of Tammany Hall! What ! do you think
I want the three thousand six hundred and
fifty cartmen running in and out of my house,
with their tobacco saliva and pipes, all day

" Who is thinking of your cartmen and
grocers ? I speak now only of genteel people. 1 '

" In other words, my dear, you are thinking
only of those whom you fancy to have the ad-


vantage of you, and keep those who think of
you in the same way quite out of sight. This
is not my democracy and freedom. I believe that
it requires two people to make a bargain, and

although I may consent to dine with A , if

A will not consent to dine with me, there
is an end of the matter."

" Now you have come to a case in point.
You often dined with Mr. Effingham before he
went abroad, and yet you would never allow
me to ask Mr. Effingham to dine with us.
That is what I call meanness."

" It might be so, indeed, if it were done to
save my money. I dined with Mr. Effingham
because I like him, because he was an old
neighbour, because he asked me, and because
I found a pleasure in the quiet elegance of his
table and society ; and I did not ask him to
dine with me, because I was satisfied he would
be better pleased with such a tacit acknowledg
ment of his superiority in this respect, than by
any bustling and ungraceful efforts to pay him
in kind. Edward Effingham has dinners
enough, without keeping a debtor and credit


account with his guests, which is rather too
New Yorkish, even for me."

" Bustling and ungraceful !" repeated Mrs.
Jarvis, bitterly. " I do not know that you are
at all more bustling and ungraceful than Mr.
Effingham himself. 11

" No, my dear, I am a quiet, unpretending
man, like the great majority of my country
men, thank God !"

" Then why talk of these sorts of differences,
in a country in which the law establishes
none ?"

" For precisely the reason that I talk of the
river at the foot of this street, or because there is
a river. A thing may exist without there being
a law for it. There is no law for building this
house, and yet it is built. There is no law for
making Dr, Versa a better preacher than Mr.
Prolix, and yet he is a much better preacher ;
neither is there any law for making Mr. Effing-
ham a more finished gentleman than I happen
to be, and yet I am not fool enough to deny
the fact. In the way of making out a bill of
parcels, I will not turn my back to him, I can


promise you, or to his cousin John Effingham

" All this strikes me as being very spiritless,
and as particularly anti-republican," said Mrs.
Jarvis, rising to quit the room ; " and if the
Effinghams do not come this evening, I shall
not enter their house again this winter. I am
sure they have no right to pretend to be our
betters, and I feel no disposition to admit the
impudent claim."

ft Before you go, Jane, let me say a parting
word," rejoined the husband, looking for his
hat, " which is just this. If you wish the
world to believe you the equal of any one, no
matter whom, don't be always talking about it,
lest they see you distrust the fact yourself. A
positive thing will surely be seen, and they who
have the highest claims are the least disposed
to be always pressing them on the attention of
the world. An outrage may certainly be com
mitted upon those social rights which have been
established by common consent ; and then it
may be proper to resent it ; but beware betray
ing a consciousness of your own inferiority, by


letting every one see you are jealous of your
station. Now, kiss me ; here is the money to
pay for your finery this evening, and let me
see you as happy to receive Mrs. Jewett from
Albion Place as you would be to receive Mrs.
Hawker herself."

" Mrs. Hawker !" cried the wife, with a toss
of her head ; " I would not cross the street to
invite Mrs. Hawker and all her clan," which
was very true, as Mrs. Jarvis was thoroughly
convinced the trouble would be unavailing, the
lady in question being as near the head of fa
shion in New York as it was possible to be in
a town that, in a moral sense, resembles an en
campment quite as much as it resembles a per
manent and a long-existing capital.

Notwithstanding a great deal of manage
ment on the part of Mrs. Jarvis to get showy
personages to attend her entertainment, the
simple elegance of the two carriages that bore
the Effingham party threw all the other equi
pages into the shade. The arrival, indeed, was
deemed a matter of so much moment that in
telligence was conveyed to the lady, who was


still at her post in the inner drawing-room, of
the arrival of a party altogether superior to
any that had yet appeared in her rooms. It
is true, this was not expressed in words, but
it was made sufficiently obvious by the breath
less haste and the air of importance of Mrs.
Jarvis' sister, who had received the news from
a servant, and who communicated it in proprid
persona to the mistress of the house.

" The simple, useful, graceful, almost indis
pensable usage of announcing at the door, in
dispensable to those who receive much and
where there is the risk of meeting people known
to us by name and not in person, is but little
practised in America. Mrs. Jarvis would have
shrunk from such an innovation, had she known
that elsewhere the custom prevailed, but she
was in happy ignorance on this point, as on
many others that were more essential to the
much-coveted social eclat at which she aimed.
When Mademoiselle Viefville appeared, there
fore, walking unsupported, followed by Eve
and Grace and the gentlemen of their party,
she at first supposed there was some mistake,


and that her visiters had got into the wrong
house, there actually being an opposition party
in the neighbourhood.

" What brazen people!" whispered Mrs. Abi-
jah Gross, who, having removed from an in
terior New England village two years previ
ously, fancied herself au fait in all the niceties
of breeding and social tact : e< there are posi
tively two young ladies walking about without
gentlemen !"

But it was not in the power of Mrs. Abijah
Gross, with her audible whisper and- obvious
sneer and laugh, to put down two such lovely
creatures as Eve and her cousin. The simple
elegance of their attire, the indescribable air of
polish, particularly of the former, and the sur
passing beauty and modesty of mien of both,
effectually silenced criticism, after this solitary
outbreaking of vulgarity. Mrs. Jarvis recog
nised Eve and John Effingham, and her hur
ried compliments and obvious delight pro
claimed to all near her the importance she at
tached to this visit. Mademoiselle Viefville
she did not at first recollect in her present


dress, but as soon as she did she overwhelmed
her with expressions of delight and satisfac

" I wish particularly to present to you a
friend that we all prize exceedingly, 1 ' said Eve,
as soon as there was an opportunity of speak
ing. " This is Captain Truck, the gentleman
who commands the Montauk, the ship of which
you have heard so much. Ah ! Mr. Jarvis,"
offering a hand to him with a sincere cordiality,
for Eve had known him from childhood, and
always sincerely respected him, " you will re
ceive my friend with a cordial welcome, I am

Eve then explained to Mr. Jarvis who the
honest captain was, and he, after first paying
the proper respects to his other guests, led
the old sailor aside, and began an earnest con
versation on the subject of the recent passage.

John Effingham presented the baronet, whom
Mrs, Jarvis, out of pure ignorance of his rank
in his own country, received with perfect pro
priety and self-respect.

" We have very few people of note in town


at present, I believe," said Mrs. Jarvis to John
Effingham. " A great traveller, a most inte
resting man, is the only person of that sort I
could obtain for this evening, and I shall have
great pleasure in introducing you. He is there
in that crowd, for he is in the greatest possible
demand ; he has seen so much I Mrs. Snow,
with your permission really the ladies are
thronging about him as if he were a Pawnee
have the goodness to step a little this way,
Mr. Effingham Miss Effingham. Mrs. Snow,
just touch his arm, and let him know I wish to
introduce a couple of friends. Mr. Dodge,
Mr. John Effingham, Miss Effingham, Miss Van
Courtlandt. I hope you may succeed in getting
him a little to yourselves, ladies, for he can tell
you all about Europe saw the king of France
riding out to Neuilly, and has a prodigious
knowledge of things on the other side of the

It required a good deal of Eve's habitual
self-command to suppress a smile, but she had
the tact and discretion to receive Steadfast as
an utter stranger. John Effingham bowed as


haughtily as man can bow, and then it was
whispered that he and Mr. Dodge were rival
travellers. The distance of the former, cou
pled with an expression of countenance
that did not invite familiarity, drove nearly
all the company over to the side of Steadfast,
who, it was soon settled, had seen much
more of the world, understood society bet
ter, and had moreover travelled as far as
Timbuctoo in Africa. The clientele of Mr.
Dodge increased rapidly, as these reports
spread in the rooms; and those who had not
read the " delightful letters" published in the
" Free Inquirer," furiously envied those who
had enjoyed that high advantage.

" It is Mr. Dodge, the great traveller," said
one young lady who had extricated herself from
the crowd around the " lion," and taken a station
near Eve and Grace, and who, moreover, was a
blue in her own set ; " his beautiful and accu
rate descriptions have attracted great attention
in England, and it is said they have actually
been republished."

" Have you read them, Miss Brackett ?"


" Not the letters themselves, absolutely,
but all the remarks on them in the last week^s
Hebdomad. Most delightful letters, judging
from these remarks ; full of nature and point,
and singularly accurate in all their facts. In
this respect they are invaluable travellers fall
into such extraordinary errors !"

" I hope, ma'am," said John Effingham,
gravely, " that the gentleman has avoided the
capital mistake of commenting on things that
actually exist. People generally esteem com
ments on the facts of their country imper
tinent and unjust; and your true way to suc
ceed, is to comment as freely as possible on
imaginary peculiarities."

Miss Brackett had nothing to answer to this
observation, the Hebdomad having never,
among its other profundities, thought proper
to touch on the subject. She went on prais
ing the " Letters," however, not one of which
had she read, or would read ; for this young

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Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperEve Effingham : or, Home → online text (page 4 of 13)