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of humbling ourselves before God.

A month after this accidental dialogue, chance made me auditor of what
passed between my ancestor and Sir Joseph Job, another celebrated dealer
in the funds, in an interview that took place in the house of the former
in Cheapside. As the difference was so PATENT, as the French express it,
I shall furnish the substance of what passed.

"This is a serious and a most alarming movement, Mr. Goldencalf,"
observed Sir Joseph, "and calls for union and cordiality among the
holders of property. Should these damnable opinions get fairly abroad
among the people, what would become of us? I ask, Mr. Goldencalf, what
would become of us?"

"I agree with you, Sir Joseph, it is very alarming! - frightfully
alarming!"

"We shall have agrarian laws, sir. Your money, sir, and mine - our hard
earnings - will become the prey of political robbers, and our children
will be beggared to satisfy the envious longings of some pitiful
scoundrel without a six-pence!"

"'Tis a sad state of things, Sir Joseph; and government is very culpable
that it don't raise at least ten new regiments."

"The worst of it is, good Mr. Goldencalf, that there are some
jack-a-napeses of the aristocracy who lead the rascals on and lend them
the sanction of their names. It is a great mistake, sir, that we give
so much importance to birth in this island, by which means proud beggars
set unwashed blackguards in motion, and the substantial subjects are the
sufferers. Property, sir, is in danger, and property is the only true
basis of society."

"I am sure, Sir Joseph, I never could see the smallest use in birth."

"It is of no use but to beget pensioners, Mr. Goldencalf. Now with
property it is a different thing - money is the parent of money, and
by money a state becomes powerful and prosperous. But this accursed
revolution among our neighbors the French has quite unsettled opinions,
and, alas! property is in perpetual danger!"

"Sorry am I to say, I feel it to be so in every nerve of my body, Sir
Joseph."

"We must unite and defend ourselves, Mr. Goldencalf, else both you and
I, men warm enough and substantial enough at present, will be in the
ditch. Do you not see that we are in actual danger of a division of
property?"

"God forbid!"

"Yes, sir, our sacred property is in danger!"

Here Sir Joseph shook my father cordially by the hand and withdrew. I
find, by a memorandum among the papers of my deceased ancestor, that he
paid the broker of Sir Joseph, that day month, sixty-two thousand seven
hundred and twelve pounds difference (as bull and bear), owing to the
fact of the knight having got some secret information through a clerk in
one of the offices; an advantage that enabled him, in this instance, at
least, to make a better bargain than one who was generally allowed to be
among the shrewdest speculators on 'Change.

My mind was of a nature to be considerably exercised (as the pious
purists express it), by becoming the depository of sentiments so
diametrically opposed to each other as those of Dr. Etherington and
those of Sir Joseph Job. On the one side, I was taught the degradation
of birth; on the other, the dangers of property. Anna was usually
my confidant, but on this subject I was tongue-tied, for I dared not
confess that I had overheard the discourse with her father, and I was
compelled to digest the contradictory doctrines by myself in the best
manner I could.




CHAPTER IV. SHOWING THE UPS AND DOWNS, THE HOPES AND FEARS, AND THE
VAGARIES OF LOVE, SOME VIEWS OF DEATH, AND AN ACCOUNT OF AN INHERITANCE.


From my twentieth to my twenty-third year no event occurred of any
great moment. The day I became of age my father settled on me a regular
allowance of a thousand a year, and I make no doubt I should have spent
my time much as other young men had it not been for the peculiarity
of my birth, which I now began to see was wanting in a few of the
requisites to carry me successfully through a struggle for place with
a certain portion of what is called the great world. While most were
anxious to trace themselves into obscurity, there was a singular
reluctance to effecting the object as clearly and as distinctly as
it was in my power to do. From all which, as well as from much other
testimony, I have been led to infer that the doses of mystification
which appear to be necessary to the happiness of the human race require
to be mixed with an experienced and a delicate hand. Our organs, both
physically and morally, are so fearfully constituted that they require
to be protected from realities. As the physical eye has need of clouded
glass to look steadily at the sun so it would seem the mind's eye has
also need of something smoky to look steadily at truth. But, while I
avoided laying open the secret of my heart to Anna, I sought various
opportunities to converse with Dr. Etherington and my father on
those points which gave me the most concern. From the first, I heard
principles which went to show that society was of necessity divided into
orders; that it was not only impolitic but wicked to weaken the barriers
by which they were separated; that Heaven had its seraphs and cherubs,
its archangels and angels, its saints and its merely happy, and that,
by obvious induction, this world ought to have its kings, lords,
and commons. The usual winding-up of all the Doctor's essays was a
lamentation on the confusion in classes that was visiting England as
a judgment. My ancestor, on the other hand, cared little for social
classification, or for any other conservatory expedient but force. On
this topic he would talk all day, regiments and bayonets glittering in
every sentence. When most eloquent on this theme he would cry (like Mr.
Manners Sutton), "ORDER - order!" nor can I recall a single disquisition
that did not end with, "Alas, Jack, property is in danger!"

I shall not say that my mind entirely escaped confusion among these
conflicting opinions, although I luckily got a glimpse of one important
truth, for both the commentators cordially agreed in fearing and, of
necessity, in hating the mass of their fellow-creatures. My own natural
disposition was inclining to philanthropy, and as I was unwilling to
admit the truth of theories that arrayed me in open hostility against so
large a portion of mankind, I soon determined to set up one of my own,
which, while it avoided the faults, should include the excellences of
both the others. It was, of course, no great affair merely to form such
a resolution; but I shall have occasion to say a word hereafter on the
manner in which I attempted to carry it out in practice.

Time moved on, and Anna became each day more beautiful. I thought that
she had lost some of her frankness and girlish gayety, it is true, after
the dialogue with her father; but this I attributed to the reserve
and discretion that became the expanding reason and greater feeling of
propriety that adorn young womanhood. With me she was always ingenuous
and simple, and were I to live a thousand years the angelic serenity
of countenance with which she invariably listened to the theories of my
busy brain would not be erased from recollection.

We were talking of these things one morning quite alone. Anna heard me
when I was most sedate with manifest pleasure, and she smiled mournfully
when the thread of my argument was entangled by a vagary of the
imagination. I felt at my heart's core what a blessing such a mentor
would be, and how fortunate would be my lot could I succeed in securing
her for life. Still I did not, could not, summon courage to lay bare my
inmost thoughts, and to beg a boon that in these moments of transient
humility I feared I never should be worthy to possess.

"I have even thought of marrying," I continued - so occupied with my own
theories as not to weigh, with the accuracy that becomes the frankness
and superior advantages which man possesses over the gentler sex, the
full import of my words; "could I find one, Anna, as gentle, as good,
as beautiful, and as wise as yourself who would consent to be mine, I
should not wait a minute; but, unhappily, I fear this is not likely to
be my blessed lot. I am not the grandson of a baronet, and your father
expects to unite you with one who can at least show that the 'bloody
hand' has once been born on his shield; and, on the other side, my
father talks of nothing but millions." During the first part of this
speech the amiable girl looked kindly up at me, and with a seeming
desire to soothe me; but at its close her eyes dropped upon her work
and she remained silent. "Your father says that every man who has an
interest in the state should give it pledges" - here Anna smiled, but
so covertly that her sweet mouth scarce betrayed the impulse - "and that
none others can ever control it to advantage. I have thought of asking
my father to buy a borough and a baronetcy, for with the first, and the
influence that his money gives, he need not long wish for the last; but
I never open my lips on any matter of the sort that he does not answer
'Fol lol der rol, Jack, with your knighthoods, and social order, and
bishoprics, and boroughs - property is in danger! - loans and regiments,
if thou wilt - give us more order "ORDER - order" - bayonets are what
we want, boy, and good wholesome taxes, to accustom the nation to
contribute to its own wants and to maintain its credit. Why, youngster,
if the interest on the debt were to remain unpaid twenty-four hours,
your body corporate, as you call it, would die a natural death; and what
would then become of your knights - barro-knights? - and barren enough
some of them are getting to be by their wastefulness and extravagance.
Get thee married, Jack, and settle prudently. There is neighbor
Silverpenny has an only daughter of a suitable age; and a good hussy is
she in the bargain. The only daughter of Oliver Silverpenny will be a
suitable wife for the only son of Thomas Goldencalf; though I give thee
notice, boy, that thou wilt be cut off with a competency; so keep thy
head clear of extravagant castle-building, learn economy in season, and,
above all, make no debts.'" Anna laughed as I humorously imitated the
well-known intonations of Mr. Speaker Sutton, but a cloud darkened her
bright features when I concluded.

"Yesterday I mentioned the subject to your father," I resumed, "and he
thought with me that the idea of the borough and the baronetcy was a
good one. 'You would be the second of your line, Jack,' he said, 'and
that is always better than being the first; for there is no security for
a man's being a good member of society like that of his having presented
to his eyes the examples of those who have gone before him, and who have
been distinguished by their services or their virtues. If your father
would consent to come into parliament and sustain government at this
critical moment, his origin would be overlooked, and you would have
pride in looking back on his acts. As it is, I fear his whole soul is
occupied with the unworthy and debasing passion of mere gain. Money is a
necessary auxiliary to rank, and without rank there can be no order, and
without order no liberty; but when the love of money gets to occupy the
place of respect for descent and past actions, a community loses the
very sentiment on which all its noble exploits are bottomed.' So you
see, dear Anna, that our parents hold very different opinions on a very
grave question, and between natural affection and acquired veneration I
scarcely know which to receive. If I could find one sweet, and wise, and
beautiful as thou, and who could pity me, I would marry to-morrow, and
cast all the future on the happiness that is to be found with such a
companion."

As usual, Anna heard me in silence. That she did not, however, view
matrimony with exactly the same eyes as myself was clearly proved the
very next day, for young Sir Harry Griffin (the father was dead) offered
in form and was very decidedly refused.

Although I was always happy at the rectory, I could not help feeling
rather than seeing that, as the French express it, I occupied a false
position in society. Known to be the expectant of great wealth, it was
not easy to be overlooked altogether in a country whose government is
based on a representation of property, and in which boroughs are openly
in market; and yet they who had obtained the accidental advantage
of having their fortunes made by their grandfathers were constantly
convincing me that mine, vast as it was thought to be, was made by my
father. Ten thousand times did I wish (as it has since been expressed
by the great captain of the age), that I had been my own grandson; for
notwithstanding the probability that he who is nearest to the founder of
a fortune is the most likely to share the largest in its accumulations,
as he who is nearest in descent to the progenitor who has illustrated
his race is the most likely to feel the influence of his character,
I was not long in perceiving that in highly refined and intellectual
communities the public sentiment, as it is connected with the respect
and influence that are the meed of both, directly refutes the inferences
of all reasonable conjectures on the subject. I was out of my place,
uneasy, ashamed, proud, and resentful; in short I occupied a FALSE
POSITION, and unluckily one from which I saw no plausible retreat
except by falling back on Lombard street or by cutting my throat.
Anna alone - kind, gentle, serene-eyed Anna - entered into all my joys,
sympathized in my mortifications, and appeared to view me as I was;
neither dazzled by my wealth nor repelled by my origin. The day she
refused young Sir Harry Griffin I could have kneeled at her feet and
called her blessed!

It is said that no moral disease is ever benefited by its study. I was a
living proof of the truth of the opinion that brooding over one's wrongs
or infirmities seldom does much more than aggravate the evil. I greatly
fear it is in the nature of man to depreciate the advantages he actually
enjoys and to exaggerate those which are denied him. Fifty times during
the six months that succeeded the repulse of the young baronet did I
resolve to take heart and to throw myself at the feet of Anna, and as
often was I deterred by the apprehension that I had nothing to render
me worthy of one so excellent, and especially of one who was the
granddaughter of the seventh English baronet. I do not pretend to
explain the connection between cause and effect, for I am neither
physician nor metaphysician; but the tumult of spirits that resulted
from so many doubts, hopes, fears, resolutions, and breakings of
resolutions, began to affect my health, and I was just about to yield to
the advice of my friends (among whom Anna was the most earnest and
the most sorrowful), to travel, when an unexpected call to attend the
death-bed of my ancestor was received. I tore myself from the rectory
and hurried up to town with the diligence and assiduity of an only son
and heir summoned on an occasion so solemn.

I found my ancestor still in the possession of his senses, though
given over by the physicians; a circumstance that proved a degree of
disinterestedness and singleness of purpose on their part that was
scarcely to be expected towards a patient who it was commonly believed
was worth more than a million. My reception by the servants and by the
two or three friends who had assembled on this melancholy occasion, too,
was sympathizing, warm, and of a character to show their solicitude and
forethought.

My reception by the sick man was less marked. The total abstraction of
his faculties in the one great pursuit of his life; a certain sternness
of purpose which is apt to get the ascendant with those who are resolute
to gain, and which usually communicates itself to the manners; and an
absence of those kinder ties that are developed by the exercise of the
more familiar charities of our existence had opened a breach between
us that was not to be filled by the simple unaided fact of natural
affinity. I say of natural affinity, for notwithstanding the doubts that
cast their shadows on that branch of my genealogical tree by which I
was connected with my maternal grandfather, the title of the king to
his crown is not more apparent than was my direct lineal descent from
my father. I always believed him to be my ancestor de jure as well as
de facto, and could fain have loved him and honored him as such had my
natural yearnings been met with more lively bowels of sympathy on his
side.

Notwithstanding the long and unnatural estrangement that had thus
existed between the father and son, the meeting on the present occasion
was not entirely without some manifestations of feeling.

"Thou art come at last, Jack," said my ancestor; "I was afraid, boy,
thou might'st be too late."

The difficult breathing, haggard countenance, and broken utterance of my
father struck me with awe. This was the first death-bed by which I had
ever stood; and the admonishing picture of time passing into eternity
was indelibly stamped on my memory. It was not only a death-bed scene,
but it was a family death-bed scene. I know not how it was, but I
thought my ancestor looked more like the Goldencalfs than I had ever
seen him look before.

"Thou hast come at last, Jack," he repeated, "and I'm glad of it. Thou
art the only being in whom I have now any concern. It might have been
better, perhaps, had I lived more with my kind - but thou wilt be the
gainer. Ah! Jack, we are but miserable mortals after all! To be called
away so suddenly and so young!"

My ancestor had seen his seventy-fifth birthday; but unhappily he had
not settled all his accounts with the world, although he had given the
physician his last fee and sent the parson away with a donation to the
poor of the parish that would make even a beggar merry for a whole life.

"Thou art come at last, Jack! Well, my loss will be thy gain, boy! Send
the nurse from the room."

I did as commanded, and we were left to ourselves.

"Take this key," handing me one from beneath his pillow, "and open the
upper drawer of my secretary. Bring me the packet which is addressed to
thyself."

I silently obeyed; when my ancestor, first gazing at it with a sadness
that I cannot well describe - for it was neither worldly nor quite of an
ethereal character, but a singular and fearful compound of both - put the
papers into my hand, relinquishing his hold slowly and with reluctance.

"Thou wilt wait till I am out of thy sight, Jack?"

A tear burst from out its source and fell upon the emaciated hand of
my father. He looked at me wistfully, and I felt a slight pressure that
denoted affection.

"It might have been better, Jack, had we known more of each other. But
Providence made me fatherless, and I have lived childless by my own
folly. Thy mother was a saint, I believe; but I fear I learned it too
late. Well, a blessing often comes at the eleventh hour!"

As my ancestor now manifested a desire not to be disturbed, I called the
nurse and quitted the room, retiring to my own modest chamber, where the
packet, a large bundle of papers sealed and directed to myself in the
handwriting of the dying man, was carefully secured under a good lock. I
did not meet my father again but once under circumstances which admitted
of intelligible communion. From the time of our first interview he
gradually grew worse, his reason tottered, and, like the sinful cardinal
of Shakespeare, "he died and gave no sign."

Three days after my arrival, however, I was left alone with him, and
he suddenly revived from a state approaching to stupor. It was the only
time since the first interview in which he had seemed even to know me.

"Thou art come at last!" he said, in a tone that was already sepulchral.
"Canst tell me, boy, why they had golden rods to measure the city?" His
nurse had been reading to him a chapter of the Revelations which had
been selected by himself. "Thou seest, lad, the wall itself was of
jasper and the city was of pure gold - I shall not need money in my
new habitation - ha! it will not be wanted there! - I am not crazed,
Jack - would I had loved gold less and my kind more. The city itself is
of pure gold and the walls of jasper - precious abode! - ha! Jack, thou
hearest, boy - I am happy - too happy, Jack! - gold - gold!"

The final words were uttered with a shout. They were the last that
ever came from the lips of Thomas Goldencalf. The noise brought in the
attendants, who found him dead. I ordered the room to be cleared as soon
as the melancholy truth was fairly established, and remained several
minutes alone with the body. The countenance was set in death. The eyes,
still open, had that revolting glare of frenzied delight with which the
spirit had departed, and the whole face presented the dread picture of a
hopeless end. I knelt and, though a Protestant, prayed fervently for the
soul of the deceased. I then took my leave of the first and the last of
all my ancestors.

To this scene succeeded the usual period of outward sorrow, the
interment, and the betrayal of the expectations of the survivors. I
observed that the house was much frequented by many who rarely or never
had crossed its threshold during the life of its late owner. There was
much cornering, much talking in an undertone, and looking at me that
I did not understand, and gradually the number of regular visitors
increased until it amounted to about twenty. Among them were the parson
of the parish, the trustees of several notorious charities, three
attorneys, four or five well-known dealers of the stock exchange,
foremost among whom was Sir Joseph Job, and three of the professionally
benevolent, or of those whose sole occupation appears to be that of
quickening the latent charities of their neighbors.

The day after my ancestor was finally removed from our sight, the house
was more than usually crowded. The secret conferences increased both in
earnestness and in frequency, and finally I was summoned to meet these
ill-timed guests in the room which had been the sanctum sanctorum of
the late owner of the dwelling. As I entered among twenty strange faces,
wondering why I, who had hitherto passed through life so little heeded,
should be unseasonably importuned, Sir Joseph Job presented himself as
the spokesman of the party.

"We have sent for you, Mr. Goldencalf," the knight commenced,
decently wiping his eyes, "because we think that respect for our late
much-esteemed, most excellent, and very respectable friend requires that
we no longer neglect his final pleasure, but that we should proceed at
once to open his will, in order that we may take prompt measures for its
execution. It would have been more regular had we done this before he
was interred, for we cannot have foreseen his pleasure concerning his
venerable remains; but it is fully my determination to have everything
done as he has ordered, even though we may be compelled to disinter the
body."

I am habitually quiescent, and possibly credulous, but nature has not
denied me a proper spirit. What Sir Joseph Job, or any one but myself,
had to do with the will of my ancestor did not strike me at first
sight; and I took care to express as much, in terms it was not easy to
misunderstand.

"The only child and, indeed, the only known relative of the deceased," I
said, "I do not well see, gentlemen, how this subject should interest in
this lively manner so many strangers!"

"Very spirited and proper, no doubt, sir," returned Sir Joseph, smiling;
"but you ought to know, young gentleman, that if there are such things
as heirs there are also such things as executors!"

This I did know already, and I had also somewhere imbibed an opinion
that the latter was commonly the most lucrative situation.

"Have you any reason to suppose, Sir Joseph Job, that my late father has
selected you to fulfil this trust?"

"That will be better known in the end, young gentleman. Your late father
is known to have died rich, very rich - not that he has left as much by
half a million as vulgar report will have it - but what I should term
comfortably off; and it is unreasonable to suppose that a man of
his great caution and prudence should suffer his money to go to the
heir-at-law, that heir being a youth only in his twenty-third year,
ignorant of business, not over-gifted with experience, and having the
propensities of all his years in this ill-behaving and extravagant age,
without certain trusts and provisions which will leave his hard earnings
for some time to come under the care of men who like himself know the
full value of money."

"No, never! - 'tis quite impossible - 'tis more than impossible!"



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