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"But is it a dishonest pursuit, father?"

" As the times go, not necessarily, my dear ;
though it may readily become so."

"And is it disreputable, generally, with the
world ?"

" That depends on circumstances, Anna. When
the stock-jobber loses, he is very apt to be con
demned ; but I rather think his character rises in
proportion to his gains. But why do you ask these
singular questions, love ?"

I thought I heard Anna breathe harder than
usual, and it is certain that she leaned far out o f
the window, to pluck a rose.

" Why, Mrs. Norton said, Jack was not invited
to Sir Harry Griffin's, because his father was a
stock-jobber. Do you think she was right, sir ?"

"Very likely, my dear," returned the divine,
who I fancied was smiling at the question. * Sir
Harry has the advantages of birth, and he pioba-
bly did not forget that our friend Jack was not so


fortunate and, moreover, Sir Harry, while he
values himself on his wealth, is not as rich as
Jack's father, by a million or two in other words,
as they say on 'Change, Jack's father could buy
ten of him. This motive was perhaps more likely
to influence him than the first. In addition, Sir
Harry is suspected of gambling himself in the
funds, through the aid of agents ; and a gentleman
who resorts to such means to increase his fortune,
is a little apt to exaggerate his social advantages,
by way of a set-off to the humiliation."

" And gentlemen do really become stock-jobbers,

" Anna, the world has undergone great changes
in my time. Ancient opinions have been shaken,
and governments themselves are getting to be
little better than political establishments to add
facilities to the accumulation of money. This is
a subject, however, you cannot very well under
stand, nor do I pretend to be very profound in it,

" But is Jack's father really so very, very rich ?"
asked Anna, whose thoughts had been wandering
from the thread of those pursued by her father.

" He is believed to be so."

" And Jack is his heir ?"

" Certainly he has no other child ; though it is
not easy to say, what so singular a being may do
with his money."

" I hope he will disinherit Jack !"

"You surprise me, Anna! You, who are so
mild and reasonable, to wish such a misfortune to
befall our young friend, John Goldencalf !"

I gazed upward in astonishment, at this extra
ordinary speech of Anna, and, at the moment, I
would have given all my interest in the fortune in
question, to have seen her face, (most of her body


was out of the window, for I heard her again
rustling the bush above my head,) in order to judge
of her motive by its expression ; but an envious
rose grew exactly in the only spot where it was
possible to get a glimpse.

" Why do you wish so cruel a thing ?" resumed
Dr. Etherington, a little earnestly.

" Because I hate stock-jobbing, and its riches,
father. Were Jack poorer, it seems to me, he
would be better esteemed."

As this was uttered, the dear girl drew back,
and I then perceived that I had mistaken her cheek
for one of the largest and most blooming of the
flowers. Dr. Etherington laughed, and I distinctly
heard him kiss the blushing face of his daughter.
I think I would have given up my hopes in another
million, to have been the rector of Tenthpig, at
that instant.

" If this be all, child," he answered, " set thy
heart at rest. Jack's money will never bring him
into contempt, unless through the use he may
make of it. Alas ! Anna, we live in an age of
corruption and cupidity! Generous motives ap
pear to be lost sight of, in the general desire of
gain ; and he who would manifest a disposition to
a pure and disinterested philanthropy, is either dis
trusted as a hypocrite, or derided as a fool. The
accursed revolution among our neighbors, the
French, has quite unsettled opinions, and religion
itself has tottered in the wild anarchy of theories,
to which it has given rise. There is no worldly
advantage that has been more austerely denounced
by the divine writers, than riches, and yet it is fast
rising to be the god of the ascendant. To say no
thing of an hereafter, society is getting to be cor
rupted by it to the core, and even respect for birth
is yielding to the mercenary feeling."


" And do you not think pride of birth, father, a
mistaken prejudice, as well as pride of riches ?"

" Pride of any sort, my love, cannot exactly be
defended on evangelical principles ; but surely
some distinctions among men are necessary, even
for quiet. Were the levelling principle acknow
ledged, the lettered and the accomplished must
descend to an equality with the ignorant and vul
gar, since all men cannot rise to the attainments
of the former class, and the world would retro
grade to barbarism. The character of a Christian
gentleman is much too precious to trifle with, in
order to carry out an impracticable theory."

Anna was silent Probably she was confused
between the opinions which she most liked to che
rish, and the faint glimmerings of truth to which
ve are reduced, by the ordinary relations of life.
\.s for the good rector himself, I had no difficulty
m understanding his bias, though neither his pre
mises norhis conclusions possessed the logical clear
ness that used to render his sermons so delightful,
more especially when he preached about the higher
qualities of the Saviour's dispensation, such as
charity, love of our fellows, and, in particular, the
imperative duty of humbling ourselves before God.

A month after this accidental dialogue, chance
made me the 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 move
ment, Mr. Goldencalf," observed Sir Joseph, " and
calls for union and cordiality among the holders
of property. Should these damnable opinions get
faiily abroad among the people, what would be-


come of us ? I ask, Mr. Goldencalf, what would
become of us ?"

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

" We shall have Agrarian laws, sir. Your mo
ney, sir, and mine, our hard earnings, will be
come the prey of political robbers, and our chil
dren will be beggared, to satisfy the envious long
ings 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-napes of the aristocracy
who lead the rascals on, and lend them the sanc
tion 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 unwash
ed blackguards in motion, and the substantial sub
jects are the sufferers. Property, sir, is in dan
ger, 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 dan
ger of a division of property T"

" God forbid !"


" Yes, sir, our sacred property is in danger l n
Here, Sir Joseph shook my father cordially by
the hand, and withdrew. I find, by a memoran
dum 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 of 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 in
stance, at least, to make a better bargain than one
who was generally allowed to be among the
shrewdest calculators on 'Change.

My mind was of a nature to be considerably
exercised, (as the pious purists express it,)by becom
ing 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.


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 pecu
liarity 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 ef
fecting 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 mistification which
appear to be necessary to the happiness of the hu
man 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 phy
sical 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 sepa
rated ; that Heaven had its seraphs and cherubs,
; ts 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, al
though 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 disposi
tion was inclining to philanthropy, and, as I was
unwilling to admit the truth of theories that array
ed 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 excellencies, 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 moyed on, and Anna became each day
more beautiful. I thought that she had lost some
of her frankness and girlish gaiety, 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 counte
nance 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 con
tinued, 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 borne 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 de
sire 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 dan
ger! 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 bar
gain. The only daughter of Oliver Silverpenny will
De a suitable wife for the only son of Thomas Gold-
encalf; 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 econo
my 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 con

" 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 lib
erty ; 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 scarce
ly 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 ob
tained the accidental advantage of having their
fortunes made by their grandfathers, were con
stantly convincing me that mine, vast as it was
thought to be, was made by my father. Ten thou-


sand times did I wish (as it has since been express
ed by the great captain of the age,) that I had been
my own grandson ; for, notwithstanding the pro
bability 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 de
scent to the progenitor who has illustrated his race,
is the most likely to feel the influence of his char
acter, 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, direct
ly refutes the inferences of all reasonable con
jectures 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 Grif
fin, 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 appre
hension 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 connexion between
cause and effect, for I am neither physician nor
metaphysician; but the tumult of spirits that re
sulted from so many doubts, hopes, fears, resolu
tions 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 dili
gence and assiduity of an only son and heir, sum
moned on an occasion so solemn.

I found my ancestor still in the possession of his
senses, though given over by the physicians ; a cir
cumstance that proved a degree of disinterested
ness 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

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 pur
pose, which is apt to get the ascendant with those
who are resolute to gain, and which usually com
municates itself to the manners; and an absence
of those kinder ties that are developed by the ex
ercise of the more familiar charities of our exist
ence, had opened a breach between us, that was
not to be filled by the simple unaided fact of natu
ral affinity I say of natural affinity, for, notwith-


standing 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 honoured him as such, had my natural yearn
ings been met with more lively bowels of sympathy
on his side.

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

" Thou art come at last, Jack," said my ances
tor. " 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 be

" Thou hast come at last, Jack," he repeated, " and
Pm glad of it. Thou art the only being in whom
I have now any concern. It might have been bet
ter, 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 birth-day;
but, unhappily, he had not settled all his accounts
with the world, although he had given the physi-


cian 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

I did as commanded, and we were left to our

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

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, relinquish
ing 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

Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperWorks (Volume 17) → online text (page 4 of 35)