James Fenimore Cooper.

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lady had contrived to gain a high reputation in
her own coterie for taste and knowledge in
books, by merely skimming the strictures of

VOL, i. F


those who usually themselves only skim the
works they pretend to analyze.

Eve had never before been in such close
contact with so much flippant ignorance, and
she could not but wonder that a man like her
kinsman should be overlooked, and such a man
as Mr. Dodge be preferred. All this gave
John Effingham himself no concern ; but re
tiring a little from the crowd, he entered into a
short conversation with the young baronet.

" I should like to know your real opinion of
this set," he said ; " not that I plead guilty to
the childish sensibility, that is so common in all
provincial circles to the judgment of strangers,
but with a view to aid you in forming a just
estimate of the real state of the country."

" As I know the precise connection between
you and our host, there can be no objection to
giving a perfectly frank reply. The women
strike me as being singularly delicate and
pretty ; well dressed too, I may add ; but,
while there is a great air of decency, there is
very little high finish, and yet it is remarkable
that there is scarcely any downright vulgarity
or coarseness."


" A Daniel come to judgment ! One who had
passed a life here would not have come so near
the truth, simply because he would not have
observed peculiarities that require the means
of comparison to be detected. You are a little
too indulgent in saying there is no downright
vulgarity ; for some there is, though surpris
ingly little for the circumstances ; but of the
coarseness that would be so prominent else
where there is hardly any. Now, so great is
the equality in all things in this country, so
direct the tendency to this respectable me
diocrity, that what you see here to-night,
may be seen in almost every village in the
land, with a few immaterial exceptions only
in the way of furniture and other city appli

" Certainly, for mediocrity, this is respect
able, though a fastidious taste might see a mul
titude of faults."

" I will not .call the taste merely fastidious,
for while there is much that would be missed
only by the over-sophisticated, much is really
wanting that would add to the grace and true



beauty of society. Those young men, who
are sniggering over some bad joke in the cor
ner, for instance, are positively vulgar ; so is
that young lady who is indulging in prac
tical coquetry ; but, on the whole, there is
little of this ; and, even our hostess, a silly
woman devoured with the desire of being
what neither her social position, education, ha
bits, nor notions fit her to be, is less obtrusive,
bustling, and offensive, than a similar person
would be elsewhere."

" I am quite of your way of thinking, and
intended to ask you to account for it."

" The Americans are of necessity an imita
tive people, and they are apt at this part of im
itation, in particular. They are also less artifi
cial in all their practices than older and more so
phisticated nations ; and this company has that
essential part of good-breeding, simplicity, as it
were par force. A step higher in the social scale
you will see less of it, for greater daring and
bad models lead to blunders in matters that
require to be exceedingly well done, if done at
all. The faults here would be more apparent,


by approaching near enough to learn the tone
of mind, the forms of speech, and the attempts
at wit."

" Which I think we shall escape to-night, as
I see the ladies are already making their apo
logies and taking leave. We must defer this
investigation to another time."

" It may be indefinitely postponed, as it
would scarcely reward the trouble of an in

The gentlemen now approached Mrs. Jarvis,
paid their parting compliments, hunted up
Captain Truck, whom they tore by violence
from the good-natured hospitality of the master
of the house, and then escorted the ladies to their
carriage. As they drove off the worthy mari
ner protested that Mr. Jarvis was one of the
honestest men he had ever met, and announced
that he intended giving him a dinner on board
the Montauk the very next day.

The dwelling of Mrs. Hawker was in Hud
son Square, or in a portion of the city that the
lovers of the grandiose are endeavouring to call
St. John's Park, for it is rather an amusing


peculiarity among a certain portion of the emi
grants who have flocked into the State of New
York within the last thirty years, that they
are not satisfied with permitting any family
or thing to possess the name it originally had,
if the least opportunity arises to change it.
There was but a carriage or two before the
door, though the strong lights, and the ap
pearance of things in the house showed that the
company had assembled.

" Mrs. Hawker is the widow and the daugh
ter of men of long-established New York
families ;" said John Effingham, as the party
was driving from one house to the other. " She
is childless, affluent, and universally respected
where known, for her breeding, benevolence,
good-sense, and heart." Were you to go into
most of the sets of this town, and mention Mrs.
Hawker's name, not one person in ten would
know there is such a being in their vicinity, the
pele-mele of a migratory population keeping
persons of her character and condition in life
quite out of view. The very persons who will
prattle by the hour of the establishments of


Mrs. Peleg Pond, and Mrs. Jonah Twist, and
Mrs. Abiram Wattles, people who first appeared
on this island five or six years since, and, who
having accumulated what to them are relatively
large fortunes, have launched out into vulgar
finery, would look with surprise at hearing
Mrs. Hawker mentioned as a person having
any claims to social distinction. Her histo
rical names are overshadowed in their mind by
the parochial glories of certain local prodigies
in the townships whence they emigrated ; her
manners would puzzle the comprehension of
people whose imitation has not gone beyond
the surface, and her polished and simple mind
would find little sympathy among a class who
seldom rise above a common-place sentiment,
without getting upon stilts."

" Mrs. Hawker, then, is a lady," quietly ob
served Sir George Templemore.

" Mrs. Hawker is a lady in every sense of the
word; in position, education, manners, asso
ciation, mind, fortune, and birth. I do not
know that we ever had a greater number
of her class than we have at present, but cer-


tainly they were once more prominent in

u I suppose, sir, " said Captain Truck,
" that this Mrs. Hawker is of what is called
the old school ?"

" Of a very ancient school, and one that is
likely to continue, though it may not be very
generally attended, since it is founded in natu
ral laws."

" I am afraid, Mr. John Effingham, that I
shall be like a fish out of water in such a
house. I can get along very well with your
Mrs. Jarvis, and with the dear young lady in
the other carriage, but the sort of woman you
have described will be apt to jam a plain man
ner like myself. What in nature should I do,
now, if she should ask me to dance a minuet ?"

" Dance it, agreeably to the laws of nature,"
returned John Effingham, as the carriage

A respectable, quiet, and aged black servant
admitted the party, but did not announce
the visiters, as he held the door of the draw
ing-room open for them. With respectful atten-


tion Mrs. Hawker arose, and advanced to meet
Eve and her companions, and, though she kiss
ed the cousins affectionately, her reception of
Mademoiselle Viefville was so simply polite, as
to convince the latter she was valued on ac
count of her services. John Effingham, who
was ten or fifteen years the junior of the old
lady, gallantly kissed her hand, when he pre
sented his two male companions. After pay
ing proper attention to the greatest stranger,
Mrs. Hawker turned to Captain Truck and
said :

" This then is the gentleman to whose skill
and courage you all owe so much we all owe
so much, I might more properly have said
the commander of the Montauk ?"

" I have the honour of commanding that
vessel, ma'am," returned Captain Truck, who
was singularly awed by the dignified simplicity
of his hostess, although her quiet, natural, and
yet finished manner, which extended even to
the intonation of the voice and the smallest
movement, was as unlike what he had expected
as possible; " and with such passengers as she



had last voyage, I can only say it is a pity that
she is not better off for one to take care of

" Your passengers give a different account
of the matter, but, in order that I may judge
impartially, do me the favour to take this chair,
and let me learn a few of the particulars from

Observing that Sir George Templemore had
followed Eve to the other side of the room,
Mrs. Hawker resumed her seat, and, without
neglecting her guests generally to attend to one
in particular, or attending to one in any way
to make him feel oppressed, she contrived, in
a few minutes, to make the captain forget all
about the minuet, and to feel much more at
his ease than Mrs. Jarvis would have done in
a month's intercourse.

In the mean time, Eve had crossed the room
to join a lady whose smile invited her to her
side. This was a young, slightly-framed fe
male of a pleasing countenance ; but who would
not have been particularly distinguished, in
such a place, for personal charms. Still her


smile was sweet, her eyes were soft, and the
expression of her face was what might be call
ed illuminated. As Sir George Templemore
followed her. Eve mentioned his name to her
acquaintance, whom she addressed as Mrs.
Bloom field.

" You are bent on perpetrating further
gaiety to-night," said the latter, glancing at the
ball-dresses of the two cousins. " Are you in
the colours of the Houston faction or in those
of the Peabody ?"

" Not in peagreen, certainly," returned
Eve, laughing " as you may see; but simple

" You intend then to be ' led a measure' at
Mrs. Houston's. It were more suitable there
than among the other faction."

"Is fashion, then, factious, in New York ?"
inquired Sir George.

" Fractious would be a better word, per
haps. But we have parties in almost every
thing, in America; in politics, religion, tem
perance, speculations, and taste; why not in
fashion ?"


" I fear we are not quite independent
enough to form parties on such a subject," said

" Perfectly well said, Miss Effingham ;
one must think a little originally, let it be ever
so falsely, in order to get up a fashion. I fear
we shall have to admit our insignificance on
this point. You are a late arrival, Sir George
Templemore ?"

" As lately as the commencement of this
month ; I had the honour of being a fellow-
passenger with Mr. Effingham and his family."

" In which voyage you suffered shipwreck,
captivity, and famine, if half one hears be

" Report has a little magnified our risks ; we
encountered some serious dangers, but nothing
amounting to the suffering you have men

" Being a married woman, and having arrived
at the crisis in which deception is never prac
tised, I do not expect to hear truth again,"
said Mrs. Bloomfield smiling. " I trust, how
ever, you underwent enough to qualify you all


for heroes and heroines, and shall content my
self with knowing that you are here, safe and
happy if," she added, looking inquiringly at
Eve, " one who has been educated abroad can
be happy at home."

"One educated abroad may be happy at
home, though possibly not in the modes most
practised by the world," said Eve, firmly.

" Without an opera without a court al
most without society ?"

" An opera would be desirable I confess ; of
courts I know nothing, unmarried females
being cyphers in Europe; and I hope bet
ter things than to be without society."

" Unmarried females are considered cyphers
too, here provided there be enough of them,
with a good respectable digit at their head. I
assure you no one quarrels with the cyphers
under such circumstances. I think, Sir George
Templemore, a town like this, must be some
thing of a paradox to you."

" May I venture to inquire the reason for
this opinion ?"

" Merely because it is neither one thing nor


another. Not a capital, nor yet merely a provin
cial place ; with something more than commerce
in its bosom, and yet with that something hid
den under a bushel ; a good deal more than
Liverpool, and a good deal less than London ;
better even than Edinburgh in many respects,
and worse than Wapping in others."

" You have been abroad, Mrs. Bloom-
field ?"

" Not a foot out of my own country ; scarcely
a foot out of my own state. I have been at
Lake George, the Falls, and the Mountain
House, and, as one does not travel in a balloon,
I saw some of the intermediate places. As for
all besides, I am obliged to go by report."

" It is a pity Mrs. Bloomfield was not with
us this evening, at Mrs. Jarvis's," said Eve,
laughing, 4t she might there have increased her
knowledge, by listening to a few cantos from
the epic of Mr. Dodge."

" I have glanced at some of that author's
wisdom," returned Mrs. Bloomfield, " but I
soon found it was learning backwards. There
is a never-failing rule, by which it is easy to


arrive at a traveller's worth, in a negative sense,
at least."

" That is a rule which may be worth know
ing," said the baronet, " as it would save much
useless wear of the eyes."

" When a writer betrays profound ignorance
of his own country, it is a fair presumption that
he cannot be very acute in his observation of
strangers. Mr. Dodge is one of these writers,
and a single letter fully satisfied my curiosity.
I fear, Miss Kffingham, very inferior ware, in
the way of manners, has been lately imported
in large quantities into this country, as having
the Tower mark on it."

Eve laughed, and declared that Sir George
Templemore was better qualified than herself
to answer such a question.

" We are said to be a people of facts, rather
than a people of speculation," continued Mrs.
Bloomfield, without attending to the reference
of the young lady, " and any coin that offers
passes with us until another that is better ar
rives. It is a singular, but, I believe, a very
general mistake, of the people of this country,


to suppose that they can exist under the present
regime, when others would fail, because their
opinions keep even pace with, or precede, the
actual condition of society ; whereas those who
have thought and observed most on such sub
jects, agree in thinking the very reverse to be
the case."

" This must be a curious condition for a
government so purely conventional," observed
Sir George with interest, " and it certainly is
altogether opposed to the state of things that
exists all over Europe."

" It is so, and yet there is no great mystery
in it, after all. Accident has liberated us from
trammels that still fetter you. We are like a
vehicle on the top of a hill, which, the moment
it is pushed beyond the point of resistance, rolls
down of itself, without the aid of horses. One
may follow with the team, and hook on when it
gets to the bottom, but there is no such thing
as keeping company with it, until it arrives

" You will allow, then, that there is a
bottom ?"


" There is a bottom to everything to good
and bad, happiness and misery, hope, fear,
faith, and charity ; even to a woman's mind,
which I have sometimes fancied the most bot
tomless thing in nature. There may, there
fore, well be a bottom even to the institutions
of America."

Sir George listened with the interest with
which an Englishman of his class always endea
vours to catch a concession that he fancies is
about to favour his own political predilections,
and he felt encouraged to pursue the subject

" And you think the political machine is
rolling downwards towards this bottom ?" he
said, with an interest in the answer that, living
in the quiet and forgetfulness of his own home,
he would have laughed at himself for entertain
ing. But our sensibilities become quickened
by collision, and opposition is known even to
create love.

Mrs. Bloomfield was quick-witted, intelli
gent, cultivated, and shrewd. She perceived
Sir George's motive at a glance, and, notwith-


standing she saw and felt all the abuses, she
was strongly attached to the governing prin
ciple of her country's social organisation, as is
almost universally the case with the strongest
minds and most generous hearts of the na
tion, and was not, therefore, disposed to let a
stranger carry away a false impression of her
sentiments on such a point.

" Did you ever study logic, Sir George
Templemore ?" she asked, archly.

" A little, though not enough I fear to influ
ence my mode of reasoning, or even to make me
familiar with the terms. 11

" Oh ! I am not about to assail you with
sequiturs and non-sequiturs^ dialectics, and all
the mysteries of Denk-Lehre, but simply to
remind you that there is also such a thing as
the bottom of a subject. When I tell you we
are flying towards the bottom of our institu
tions, it is in the intellectual sense, and not, as
you have erroneously imagined, in an unintel-
lectual sense. I mean that we are getting to
understand them, which I fear we did not abso
lutely do at the commencement of the experi


" But, I think you will admit, that as the
civilisation of the country advances, some ma
terial change must occur. Your people cannot
always remain stationary, they must either go
backwards, or go forwards.""

" Up or down, if you will allow me to cor
rect your phraseology. The civilisation of the
country is, however, in one sense, retrogres
sive ; the people who do not go ( up/ betray
a disposition to go 4 down.' "

" You deal in enigmas, and I am afraid to
think I understand you."

" I mean, merely, that the gallows is fast
disappearing, and that the people le peitple
you will understand begin to accept money.
In both particulars, I think there is a sensible
change for the worse, within my own recollec

Mrs. Bloomfield's manner then changed
from that light-hearted gaiety which often
rendered her conversation piquante, and oc
casionally even brilliant, and she became more
grave and explicit. The conversation soon
turned upon the subject of punishments, and


few men could have reasoned more sensibly,
justly, or forcibly, than this slight and fra
gile-looking young woman. Without the least
pedantry, with a beauty of language that the
other sex seldom attains, and with a delicacy
of discrimination and a sentiment that was
strictly feminine, she rendered a theme inte
resting that, however important in itself, is
forbidding ; veiling all its odious and revolting
features by the refinement and finesse of her
own polished mind.

Eve could have listened all night, and, at
every syllable that fell from the lips of her
friend, she felt a glow of triumph ; for she was
proud of letting an intelligent foreigner see
that America contained women worthy to rank
with the best of other countries: a fact that
they who merely frequented what is called the
world, she thought might be reasonably justi
fied in distrusting. In one respect, she fancied
Mrs. Bloomfield superior to those of her own
sex whom she had so often admired abroad :
for her knowledge and cleverness were un
trammelled either by the prejudices which


are incident to a factitious condition of so
ciety, or by their reaction ; two circumstances
that often obscured the sense and candour of
those to whom she had listened with plea
sure in other countries. The singularly
feminine tone, too, of all that Mrs. Bloom-
field said, or thought, while it lost nothing in
strength, added to the charm of her conversa
tion, and increased the pleasure of those that

" Is the circle large to which Mrs. Hawker
and her friends belong ?" asked Sir George, as
he assisted Eve and Grace to cloak, when they
had taken leave. " A town which can boast of
half a dozen such houses as her's, need not ac
cuse itself of wanting society."

" Ah ! there is but one Mrs. Hawker in New
York," answered Grace, " and not many Mrs.
Bloomfields in the world. It would be too
much to say, we have even half a dozen such
houses as theirs."

" Have you not been struck with the ad
mirable tone of this drawing-room ?" half whis
pered Eve. " It may want a little of that lofty


ease that one sees among the better portion of
the old Princesses et Duchesses, which is a re
lic of a school that, it is to be feared, is going
out ; but, in its place there is a winning na
ture, with as much dignity as is necessary, and
a truth that gives one confidence in the since
rity of those around one/'

" Upon my word, I think Mrs. Hawker
quite fit to be a duchess."

" You mean a duchesse" said Eve, laughing;
" and yet she is without the manner that we
understand by such a word. Mrs. Hawker is
a lady, and there can be no higher term. 1 '

" She is a delightful old woman," cried John
Effingham, " and if twenty years younger and
disposed to change her condition, I should
really be afraid to enter her house."

" My dear sir," interposed the captain, " I
would make her Mrs. Truck to-morrow, and say
nothing about the years, if she could be content
to take up with such an offer. Why, sir, she
is no woman, but a saint in petticoats ! I felt
the whole time as if talking to my own mother ;
and as for ships, she knows more about them


than I do myself ; or even that Mr. Powis, who
is a paragon in his way."

The whole party laughed at the strength of
the captain's admiration, and getting into the
carriages, they proceeded to the last of the
houses they intended to visit that night.



So turns she every man the wrong side out ;
And never gives to truth and virtue, that
Which simpleness and merit purchaseth.

Much Ado about Nothing.

MRS. HOUSTON was what was termed a fa
shionable woman in New York. She, also, was
of a family of local note, though much less ele
vated in the olden time than that of Mrs. Haw
ker. Still her claims were admitted by the
most fastidious on such points, for some per
sons yet remain who think descent indispensable
to gentility. As her means were ample, and
her tastes, perhaps, superior to those of most,
around her, she kept what was thought a
house of better tone than common, even in the
highest circle. Eve had but a slight acquaint-


ance with her, but in Grace's eyes. Mrs. Hous
ton's was the place of all others that she
thought might make a favourable impression
on her cousin. Her wish that this might
prove to be the case was so strong that, as
they drove towards the door, she could not
forbear making an attempt to prepare Eve for
what she was to meet.

" Although Mrs. Houston has a very large
house for New York, and lives in a uniform
style, you are not to expect ante-chambers, and
vast suites of rooms, Eve," said Grace, " such
as you have been accustomed to see abroad."

66 It is not necessary, my dear cousin, to en
ter a house of four or five windows in front,
to see it is not a house of twenty or thirty. I
should be very unreasonable to expect an Ita
lian Palazzo, or a Parisian hotel, in this good

" We are not old enough for that yet, Eve ;
a hundred years hence, Mademoiselle Viefville,
such things may exist here."

" Bien sur. Cest naturel"

66 A hundred years hence, as the world tends,



Grace, they are more likely not to exist any
where, except as taverns, or hospitals, or ma
nufactories. But what have we to do, coz,
with a century ahead of us ? young as we both
are, we cannot hope to live all that time.""

Grace would have been puzzled to account
satisfactorily to herself for the strong desire
she felt that neither of her companions should
expect to see such a house as their senses so
plainly told them did not exist in the place ;
but her foot moved in the bottom of the car
riage, for she was not half satisfied with her

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