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FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS;
OR, Two Ways of Living in the World.
EDITED BY T. S. ARTHUR.
WE were about preparing a few words of introduction to this volume, the materials for which have been culled from the highways and byways of literature, where our eyes fell upon these fitting sentiments, the authorship of which we are unable to give. They express clearly and beautifully what was in our own mind:–
“If we would only bring ourselves to look at the subjects that surround as in their true flight, we should see beauty where now appears deformity, and listen to harmony where we hear nothing but discord. To be sure there is a great deal of vexation and anxiety in the world; we cannot sail upon a summer sea for ever; yet if we preserve a calm eye and a steady hand, we can so trim our sails and manage our helm, as to avoid the quicksands, and weather the storms that threaten shipwreck. We are members of one great family; we are travelling the same road, and shall arrive at the same goal. We breathe the same air, are subject to the same bounty, and we shall, each lie down upon the bosom of our common mother. It is not becoming, then, that brother should hate brother; it is not proper that friend should deceive friend; it is not right that neighbour should deceive neighbour. We pity that man who can harbour enmity against his fellow; he loses half the enjoyment of life; he embitters his own existence. Let us tear from our eyes the coloured medium that invests every object with the green hue of jealousy and suspicion; turn, a deal ear to scandal; breathe the spirit of charity from our hearts; let the rich gushings of human kindness swell up as a fountain, so that the golden age will become no fiction and islands of the blessed bloom in more than Hyperian beauty.”
It is thus that friends and neighbours should live. This is the right way. To aid in the creation of such true harmony among men, has the book now in your hand, reader, been compiled. May the truths that glisten on its pages be clearly reflected in your mind; and the errors it points out be shunned as the foes of yourself and humanity.
GOOD IN ALL
FORGIVE AND FORGET
OWE NO MAN ANYTHING
RETURNING GOOD FOR EVIL
PUTTING YOUR HAND IN YOUR NEIGHBOUR’S POCKET KIND WORDS
GOOD WE MIGHT DO
THE TOWN LOT
THE SUNBEAM AND THE RAINDROP
A PLEA FOR SOFT WORDS
MR. QUERY’S INVESTIGATIONS
ROOM IN THE WORLD
THE THANKLESS OFFICE.
“EVERY LITTLE HELPS”
HOW TO BE HAPPY
THE VISION OF BOATS
REGULATION OF THE TEMPER
ANTIDOTE FOR MELANCHOLY
THE SORROWS OF A WEALTHY CITIZEN
“WE’VE ALL OUR ANGEL SIDE”
TWO RIDES WITH THE DOCTOR
KEEP IN STEP
THE THIEF AND HIS BENEFACTOR
JOHN AND MARGARET GREYLSTON
THE WORLD WOULD BE THE BETTER FOR IT TWO SIDES TO A STORY
LEAVING OFF CONTENTION BEFORE IT BE MEDDLED WITH “ALL THE DAY IDLE”
THE BUSHEL OF CORN
CONTENTMENT BETTER THAN WEALTH
FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS.
GOOD IN ALL.
THERE IS GOOD IN ALL. Yes! we all believe it: not a man in the depth of his vanity but will yield assent. But do you not all, in practice, daily, hourly deny it? A beggar passes you in the street: dirty, ragged, importunate. “Ah! he has a _bad_ look,” and your pocket is safe. He starves–and he steals. “I thought he was _bad_.” You educate him in the State Prison. He does not improve even in this excellent school. “He is,” says the gaoler, “thoroughly _bad_.” He continues his course of crime. All that is bad in him having by this time been made apparent to himself, his friends, and the world, he has only to confirm the decision, and at length we hear when he has reached his last step. “Ah! no wonder–there was never any _Good_ in him. Hang him!”
Now much, if not all this, may be checked by a word.
If you believe in Good, _always appeal to it._ Be sure whatever there is of Good–is of God. There is never an utter want of resemblance to the common Father. “God made man in His own image.” “What! yon reeling, blaspheming creature; yon heartless cynic; yon crafty trader; yon false statesman?” Yes! All. In every nature there is a germ of eternal happiness, of undying Good. In the drunkard’s heart there is a memory of something better–slight, dim: but flickering still; why should you not by the warmth of your charity, give growth to the Good that is in him? The cynic, the miser, is not all self. There is a note in that sullen instrument to make all harmony yet; but it wants a patient and gentle master to touch the strings.
You point to the words “There is _none_ good.” The truths do not oppose each other. “There is none good–_save one._” And He breathes in all. In our earthliness, our fleshly will, our moral grasp, we are helpless, mean, vile. But there is a lamp ever burning in the heart: a guide to the source of Light, or an instrument of torture. We can make it either. If it burn in an atmosphere of purity, it will warm, guide, cheer us. If in the midst of selfishness, or under the pressure of pride, its flame will be unsteady, and we shall soon have good reason to trim our light, and find new oil for it.
There is Good in All–the impress of the Deity. He who believes not in the image of God in man, is an infidel to himself and his race. There is no difficulty about discovering it. You have only to appeal to it. Seek in every one the _best_ features: mark, encourage, educate _them._ There is no man to whom some circumstance will not be an argument.
And how glorious in practice, this faith! How easy, henceforth, all the labours of our law-makers, and how delightful, how practical the theories of our philanthropists! To educate the _Good_–the good in _All_: to raise every man in his own opinion, and yet to stifle all arrogance, by showing that all possess this Good. _In_ themselves, but not _of_ themselves. Had we but faith in this truth, how soon should we all be digging through the darkness, for this Gold of Love–this universal Good. A Howard, and a Fry, cleansed and humanized our prisons, to find this Good; and in the chambers of all our hearts it is to be found, by labouring eyes and loving hands.
Why all our harsh enactments? Is it from experience of the strength of vice in ourselves that we cage, chain, torture, and hang men? Are none of us indebted to friendly hands, careful advisers; to the generous, trusting guidance, solace, of some gentler being, who has loved us, despite the evil that is in _us_–for our little Good, and has nurtured that Good with smiles and tears and prayers? O, we know not how like we are to those whom we despise! We know not how many memories of kith and kin the murderer carries to the gallows–how much honesty of heart the felon drags with him to the hulks.
There is Good in All. Dodd, the forger, was a better man than most of us: Eugene Aram, the homicide, would turn his foot from a worm. Do not mistake us. Society demands, requires that these madmen should be rendered harmless. There is no nature dead to all Good. Lady Macbeth would have slain the old king, Had he not resembled her father as he slept.
It is a frequent thought, but a careless and worthless one, because never acted on, that the same energies, the same will to great vices, had given force to great virtues. Do we provide the opportunity? Do we _believe_ in Good? If we are ourselves deceived in any one, is not all, thenceforth, deceit? if treated with contempt, is not the whole world clouded with scorn? if visited with meanness, are not all selfish? And if from one of our frailer fellow-creatures we receive the blow, we cease to believe in women. Not the breast at which we have drank life–not the sisterly hands that have guided ours–not the one voice that has so often soothed us in our darker hours, will save the sex: All are massed in one common sentence: all bad. There may be Delilahs: there are many Ruths. We should not lightly give them up. Napoleon lost France when he lost Josephine. The one light in Rembrandt’s gloomy life was his sister.
And all are to be approached at some point. The proudest bends to some feeling–Coriolanus conquered Rome: but the husband conquered the hero. The money-maker has influences beyond his gold–Reynolds made an exhibition of his carriage, but he was generous to Northcote, and had time to think of the poor Plympton schoolmistress. The cold are not all ice. Elizabeth slew Essex–the queen triumphed; the woman _died._
There is Good in All. Let us show our faith in it. When the lazy whine of the mendicant jars on your ears, think of his unaided, unschooled childhood; think that his lean cheeks never knew the baby-roundness of content that ours have worn; that his eye knew no youth of fire–no manhood of expectancy. Pity, help, teach him. When you see the trader, without any pride of vocation, seeking how he can best cheat you, and degrade himself, glance into the room behind his shop and see there his pale wife and his thin children, and think how cheerfully he meets that circle in the only hour he has out of the twenty-four. Pity his narrowness of mind; his want of reliance upon the God of Good; but remember there have been Greshams, and Heriots, and Whittingtons; and remember, too, that in our happy land there are thousands of almshouses, built by the men of trade alone. And when you are discontented with the great, and murmur, repiningly, of Marvel in his garret, or Milton in his hiding-place, turn in justice to the Good among the great. Read how John of Lancaster loved Chaucer and sheltered Wicliff. There have been Burkes as well as Walpoles. Russell remembered Banim’s widow, and Peel forgot not Haydn.
Once more: believe that in every class there is Good; in every man, Good. That in the highest and most tempted, as well as in the lowest, there is often a higher nobility than of rank. Pericles and Alexander had great, but different virtues, and although the refinement of the one may have resulted in effeminacy, and the hardihood of the other in brutality, we ought to pause ere we condemn where we should all have fallen.
Look only for the Good. It will make you welcome everywhere, and everywhere it will make you an instrument to good. The lantern of Diogenes is a poor guide when compared with the Light God hath set in the heavens; a Light which shines into the solitary cottage and the squalid alley, where the children of many vices are hourly exchanging deeds of kindness; a Light shining into the rooms of dingy warehousemen and thrifty clerks, whose hard labour and hoarded coins are for wife and child and friend; shining into prison and workhouse, where sin and sorrow glimmer with sad eyes through rusty bars into distant homes and mourning hearths; shining through heavy curtains, and round sumptuous tables, where the heart throbs audibly through velvet mantle and silken vest, and where eye meets eye with affection and sympathy; shining everywhere upon God’s creatures, and with its broad beams lighting up a virtue wherever it falls, and telling the proud, the wronged, the merciless, or the despairing, that there is “Good in All.”
WE are told to look through nature
Upward unto Nature’s God;
We are told there is a scripture
Written on the meanest sod;
That the simplest flower created
Is a key to hidden things;
But, immortal over nature,
Mind, the lord of nature, springs!
Through _Humanity_ look upward,–
Alter ye the olden plan,–
Look through man to the Creator,
Maker, Father, God of Man!
Shall imperishable spirit
Yield to perishable clay?
No! sublime o’er Alpine mountains
Soars the Mind its heavenward way!
Deeper than the vast Atlantic
Rolls the tide of human thought;
Farther speeds that mental ocean
Than the world of waves o’er sought! Mind, sublime in its own essence
Its sublimity can lend
To the rocks, and mounts, and torrents, And, at will, their features bend!
Some within the humblest _floweret_
“Thoughts too deep for tears” can see; Oh, the humblest man existing
Is a sadder theme to me!
Thus I take the mightier labour
Of the great Almighty hand;
And, through man to the Creator,
Upward look, and weeping stand.
Thus I take the mightier labour,
–Crowning glory of _His_ will;
And believe that in the meanest
Lives a spark of Godhead still:
Something that, by Truth expanded,
Might be fostered into worth;
Something struggling through the darkness, Owning an immortal birth!
From the Genesis of being
Unto this imperfect day,
Hath Humanity held onward,
Praying God to aid its way!
And Man’s progress had been swifter, Had he never turned aside,
To the worship of a symbol,
Not the spirit signified!
And Man’s progress had been higher,
Had he owned his brother man,
Left his narrow, selfish circle,
For a world-embracing plan!
There are some for ever craving,
Ever discontent with place,
In the eternal would find briefness, In the infinite want space.
If through man unto his Maker
We the source of truth would find, It must be through man enlightened,
Educated, raised, refined:
That which the Divine hath fashioned Ignorance hath oft effaced;
Never may we see God’s image
In man darkened–man debased!
Something yield to Recreation,
Something to Improvement give;
There’s a Spiritual kingdom
Where the Spirit hopes to live!
There’s a mental world of grandeur, Which the mind inspires to know;
Founts of everlasting beauty
That, for those who seek them, flow!
Shores where Genius breathes immortal– Where the very winds convey
Glorious thoughts of Education,
Holding universal sway!
Glorious hopes of Human Freedom,
Freedom of the noblest kind;
That which springs from Cultivation, Cheers and elevates the mind!
Let us hope for Better Prospects,
Strong to struggle for the night,
We appeal to Truth, and ever
Truth’s omnipotent in might;
Hasten, then, the People’s Progress, Ere their last faint hope be gone;
Teach the Nations that their interest And the People’s good, ARE ONE.
SOME people have a singular reluctance to part with money. If waited on for a bill, they say, almost involuntarily, “Call to-morrow,” even though their pockets are far from being empty.
I once fell into this bad habit myself; but a little incident, which I will relate, cured me. Not many years after I had attained my majority, a poor widow, named Blake, did my washing and ironing. She was the mother of two or three little children, whose sole dependence for food and raiment was on the labour of her hands.
Punctually, every Thursday morning, Mrs. Blake appeared with my clothes, “white as the driven snow;” but not always, as punctually, did I pay the pittance she had earned by hard labour.
“Mrs. Blake is down stairs,” said a servant, tapping at my room-door one morning, while I was in the act of dressing myself.
“Oh, very well,” I replied. “Tell her to leave my clothes. I will get them when I come down.”
The thought of paying the seventy-five cents, her due, crossed my mind. But I said to myself,–“It’s but a small matter, and will do as well when she comes again.”
There was in this a certain reluctance to part with money. My funds were low, and I might need what change I had during the day. And so it proved. As I went to the office in which I was engaged, some small article of ornament caught my eye in a shop window.
“Beautiful!” said I, as I stood looking at it. Admiration quickly changed into the desire for possession; and so I stepped in to ask the price. It was just two dollars.
“Cheap enough,” thought I. And this very cheapness was a further temptation.
So I turned out the contents of my pockets, counted them over, and found the amount to be two dollars and a quarter.
“I guess I’ll take it,” said I, laying the money on the shopkeeper’s counter.
“I’d better have paid Mrs. Blake.” This thought crossed my mind, an hour afterwards, by which time the little ornament had lost its power of pleasing. “So much would at least have been saved.”
I was leaving the table, after tea, on the evening that followed, when the waiter said to me,
“Mrs. Blake is at the door, and wishes to see you.”
I felt a little worried at hearing this; for I had no change in my pockets, and the poor washerwoman had, of course, come for her money.
“She’s in a great hurry,” I muttered to myself, as I descended to the door.
“You’ll have to wait until you bring home my clothes next week, Mrs. Blake. I haven’t any change, this evening.”
The expression of the poor woman’s face, as she turned slowly away, without speaking, rather softened my feelings.
“I’m sorry,” said I, “but it can’t be helped now. I wish you had said, this morning, that you wanted money. I could have paid you then.”
She paused, and turned partly towards me, as I said this. Then she moved off, with something so sad in her manner, that I was touched sensibly.
“I ought to have paid her this morning, when I had the change about me. And I wish I had done so. Why didn’t she ask for her money, if she wanted it so badly?”
I felt, of course, rather ill at ease. A little while afterwards I met the lady with whom I was boarding.
“Do you know anything about this Mrs. Blake, who washes for me?” I inquired.
“Not much; except that she is very poor, and has three children to feed and clothe. And what is worst of all, she is in bad health. I think she told me, this morning, that one of her little ones was very sick.”
I was smitten with a feeling of self-condemnation, and soon after left the room. It was too late to remedy the evil, for I had only a sixpence in my pocket; and, moreover, did not know where to find Mrs. Blake.
Having purposed to make a call upon some young ladies that evening, I now went up into my room to dress. Upon my bed lay the spotless linen brought home by Mrs. Blake in the morning. The sight of it rebuked me; and I had to conquer, with some force, an instinctive reluctance, before I could compel myself to put on a clean shirt, and snow-white vest, too recently from the hand of my unpaid washerwoman.
One of the young ladies upon whom I called was more to me than a mere pleasant acquaintance. My heart had, in fact, been warming towards her for some time; and I was particularly anxious to find favour in her eyes. On this evening she was lovelier and more attractive than ever, and new bonds of affection entwined themselves around my heart.
Judge, then, of the effect produced upon me by the entrance of her mother–at the very moment when my heart was all a-glow with love, who said, as she came in–
“Oh, dear! This is a strange world!”
“What new feature have you discovered now, mother?” asked one of her daughters, smiling.
“No new one, child; but an old one that looks more repulsive than ever,” was replied. “Poor Mrs. Blake came to see me just now, in great trouble.”
“What about, mother?” All the young ladies at once manifested unusual interest.
Tell-tale blushes came instantly to my countenance, upon which the eyes of the mother turned themselves, as I felt, with a severe scrutiny.
“The old story, in cases like hers,” was answered. “Can’t get her money when earned, although for daily bread she is dependent on her daily labour. With no food in the house, or money to buy medicine for her sick child, she was compelled to seek me to-night, and to humble her spirit, which is an independent one, so low as to ask bread for her little ones, and the loan of a pittance with which to get what the doctor has ordered her feeble sufferer at home.”
“Oh, what a shame!” fell from the lips of Ellen, the one in whom my heart felt more than a passing interest; and she looked at me earnestly as she spoke.
“She fully expected,” said the mother, “to get a trifle that was due her from a young man who boards with Mrs. Corwin; and she went to see him this evening. But he put her off with some excuse. How strange that any one should be so thoughtless as to withhold from the poor their hard-earned pittance! It is but a small sum at best, that the toiling seamstress or washerwoman can gain by her wearying labour. That, at least, should be promptly paid. To withhold it an hour is to do, in many cases, a great wrong.”
For some minutes after this was said, there ensued a dead silence. I felt that the thoughts of all were turned upon me as the one who had withheld from poor Mrs. Blake the trifling sum due her for washing. What my feelings were, it is impossible for me to describe; and difficult for any one, never himself placed in so unpleasant a position, to imagine.
My relief was great when the conversation flowed on again, and in another channel; for I then perceived that suspicion did not rest upon me. You may be sure that Mrs. Blake had her money before ten o’clock on the next day, and that I never again fell into the error of neglecting, for a single week, my poor washerwoman.
FORGIVE AND FORGET.
THERE’S a secret in living, if folks only knew; An Alchymy precious, and golden, and true, More precious than “gold dust,” though pure and refined, For its mint is the heart, and its storehouse the mind; Do you guess what I mean–for as true as I live That dear little secret’s–forget and forgive!
When hearts that have loved have grown cold and estranged, And looks that beamed fondness are clouded and changed, And words hotly spoken and grieved for with tears Have broken the trust and the friendship of years– Oh! think ‘mid thy pride and thy secret regret, The balm for the wound is–forgive and forget!
Yes! look in thy spirit, for love may return And kindle the embers that still feebly burn; And let this true whisper breathe high in thy heart, _’Tis better to love than thus suffer apart_–
Let the Past teach the Future more wisely than yet, For the friendship that’s true can forgive and forget.
And now, an adieu! if you list to my lay May each in your thoughts bear my motto away, ‘Tis a crude, simple ryhme, but its truth may impart A joy to the gentle and loving of heart; And an end I would claim far more practical yet In behalf of the Rhymer–_forgive and forget!_
OWE NO MAN ANYTHING.
THUS says an Apostle; and if those who are able to “owe no man anything” would fully observe this divine obligation, many, very many, whom their want of punctuality now compels to live in violation of this precept, would then faithfully and promptly render to every one their just dues.
“What is the matter with you, George?” said Mrs. Allison to her husband, as he paced the floor of their little sitting-room, with an anxious, troubled expression of countenance.
“Oh! nothing of much consequence: only a little worry of business,” replied Mr. Allison.
“But I know better than that, George. I know it is of consequence; you are not apt to have such a long face for nothing. Come, tell me what it is that troubles you. Have I not a right to share your griefs as well as your joys?”
“Indeed, Ellen, it is nothing but business, I assure you; and as I am not blessed with the most even temper in the world, it does not take much you know to upset me: but you heard me speak of that job I was building for Hillman?”
“Yes. I think you said it was to be five hundred dollars, did you not?”
“I did; and it was to have been cash as soon as done. Well, he took it out two weeks ago; one week sooner than I promised it. I sent the bill with it, expecting, of course, he would send me a check for the amount; but I was disappointed. Having heard nothing from him since, I thought I would call on him this morning, when, to my surprise, I was told he had gone travelling with his wife and daughter, and would not be back for six weeks or two months. I can’t tell you how I felt when I was told this.”
“He is safe enough for it I suppose, isn’t he, George?”
“Oh, yes; he is supposed to be worth about three hundred thousand. But what good is that to me? I was looking over my books this afternoon, and, including this five hundred, there is just fifteen hundred dollars due me now, that I ought to have, but can’t get it. To a man doing a large business it would not be much; but to one with my limited means, it is a good deal. And this is all in the hands of five individuals, any one of whom could pay immediately, and feel not the least inconvenience from it.”
“Are you much pressed for money just now, George?”
“I have a note in bank of three hundred, which falls due to-morrow, and one of two hundred and fifty on Saturday. Twenty-five dollars at least will be required to pay off my hands; and besides this, our quarter’s rent is due on Monday, and my shop rent next Wednesday. Then there are other little bills I wanted to settle, our own wants to be supplied, &c.”
“Why don’t you call on those persons you spoke of; perhaps they would pay you?”
“I have sent their bills in, but if I call on them so soon I might perhaps affront them, and cause them to take their work away; and that I don’t want to do. However, I think I shall have to do it, let the consequence be what it may.”
“Perhaps you could borrow what you need, George, for a few days.”
“I suppose I could; but see the inconvenience and trouble it puts me to. I was so certain of getting Hillman’s money to meet these two notes, that I failed to make any other provision.”
“That would not have been enough of itself.”
“No, but I have a hundred on hand; the two together would have paid them, and left enough for my workmen too.”
As early as practicable the next morning Mr. Allison started forth to raise the amount necessary to carry him safely through the week. He thought it better to try to collect some of the amounts owing to him than to borrow. He first called on a wealthy merchant, whose annual income was something near five thousand.
“Good morning, Mr. Allison,” said he, as that individual entered his counting-room. “I suppose you want some money.”
“I should like a little, Mr. Chapin, if you please.”
“Well, I intended coming down to see you, but I have been so busy that I have not been able. That carriage of mine which you did up a few weeks ago does not suit me altogether.”
“What is the matter with it?”
“I don’t like the style of trimming, for one thing; it has a common look to me.”
“It is precisely what Mrs. Chapin ordered. You told me to suit her.”
“Yes, but did she not tell you to trim it like General Spangler’s?”
“I am very much mistaken, Mr. Chapin, if it is not precisely like his.”
“Oh! no; his has a much richer look than mine.”
“The style of trimming is just the same, Mr. Chapin; but you certainly did not suppose that a carriage trimmed with worsted lace, would look as well as one trimmed with silk lace?”
“No, of course not; but there are some other little things about it that don’t suit me. I will send my man down with it to-day, and he will show you what they are. I would like to have it to-morrow afternoon, to take my family out in. Call up on Monday, and we will have a settlement.”
Mr. Allison next called at the office of a young lawyer, who had lately come into possession of an estate valued at one hundred thousand dollars. Mr. Allison’s bill was three hundred dollars, which his young friend assured him he would settle immediately, only that there was a slight error in the way it was made out, and not having the bill with him, he could not now correct it.
He would call on Mr. Allison with it, sometime during the next week, and settle it.
A Custom-House gentleman was next sought, but his time had been so much taken up with his official duties, that he had not yet been able to examine the bill. He had no doubt but it was all correct; still, as he was not accustomed to doing business in a loose way, he must claim Mr. Allison’s indulgence a few days longer.
Almost disheartened, Mr. Allison entered the store of the last individual who was indebted to him for any considerable amount, not daring to hope that he would be any more successful with him than with the others he had called on. But he was successful; the bill, which amounted to near one hundred and fifty dollars, was promptly paid, Mr. Allison’s pocket, in consequence, that much heavier, and his heart that much lighter. Fifty dollars was yet lacking of the sum requisite for that day. After calling on two or three individuals, this amount was obtained, with the promise of being returned by the middle of the next week.
“I shall have hard work to get through to-day, I know,” said he to himself, as he sat at his desk on the following morning.
“Two hundred and fifty dollars to be raised by borrowing. I don’t know where I can get it.”
To many this would be a small sum, but Mr. Allison was peculiarly situated. He was an honest, upright mechanic, but he was poor. It was with difficulty he had raised the fifty dollars on the day previous. Although he had never once failed in returning money at the time promised, still, for some reason or other, everybody appeared unwilling to lend him. It was nearly two O’clock and he was still a hundred dollars short.
“Well,” said he to himself, “I have done all I could, and if Hall won’t renew the note for the balance, it will have to be protested. I’ll go and ask him, though I have not much hope that he will do it.”
As he was about leaving his shop for that purpose, a gentleman entered who wished to buy a second-hand carriage. Mr. Allison had but one, and that almost new, for which he asked a hundred and forty dollars.
“It is higher than I wished to go,” remarked the gentleman. “I ought to get a new one for that price.”
“So you can, but not like this. I can sell you a new one for a hundred and twenty-five dollars. But what did you expect to pay for one?”
“I was offered one at Holton’s for seventy-five; but I did not like it. I will give you a hundred for yours.”
“It is too little, indeed, sir: that carriage cost three hundred dollars when it was new. It was in use a very short time. I allowed a hundred and forty dollars for it myself.”
“Well, sir, I would not wish you to sell at a disadvantage, but if you like to, accept of my offer I’ll take it. I’m prepared to pay the cash down.”
Mr. Allison did not reply for some minutes. He was undecided as to what was best.
“Forty dollars,” said he to himself, “is a pretty heavy discount. I am almost tempted to refuse his offer and trust to Hall’s renewing the note. But suppose he won’t–then I’m done for. I think, upon the whole, I had better accept it. I’ll put it at one hundred and twenty-five, my good friend,” said he, addressing the customer.
“No, sir; one hundred is all I shall give.”
“Well, I suppose you must have it, then; but indeed you have got a bargain.”
“It is too bad,” muttered Allison to himself, as he left the bank after having paid his note. “There is just forty dollars thrown away. And why? Simply because those who are blessed with the means of discharging their debts promptly, neglect to do so.”
“How did you make out to-day, George?” asked his wife, as they sat at the tea-table that same evening.
“I met my note, and that was all.”
“Did you give your men anything?”
“Not a cent. I had but one dollar left after paying that. I was sorry for them, but I could not help them. I am afraid Robinson’s family will suffer, for there has been sickness in his house almost constantly for the last twelvemonth. His wife, he told me the other day, had not been out; of her bed for six weeks. Poor fellow! He looked quite dejected when I told him I had nothing for him.”
At this moment; the door-bell rang and a minute or two afterwards, a young girl entered the room in which Mr. and Mrs. Allison were sitting. Before introducing her to our readers, we will conduct them to the interior of an obscure dwelling, situated near the outskirts of the city. The room is small, and scantily furnished, and answers at once for parlour, dining-room, and kitchen. Its occupants, Mrs. Perry and her daughter, have been, since the earliest dawn of day, intently occupied with their needles, barely allowing themselves time to partake of their frugal meal.
“Half-past three o’clock!” ejaculated the daughter, her eyes glancing, as she spoke, at the clock on the mantelpiece. “I am afraid we shall not get this work done in time for me to take it home before dark, mother.”
“We must try hard, Laura, for you know we have not a cent in the house, and I told Mrs. Carr to come over to-night, and I would pay her what I owe her for washing. Poor thing! I would not like to disappoint her, for I know she needs it.”
Nothing more was said for near twenty minutes, when Laura again broke the silence.
“Oh, dear!” she exclaimed, “what a pain I have in my side!” And for a moment she rested from her work, and straightened herself in her chair, to afford a slight relief from the uneasiness she experienced. “I wonder, mother, if I shall always be obliged to sit so steady?”
“I hope not, my child; but bad as our situation is, there are hundreds worse off than we. Take Annie Carr, for instance–how would you like to exchange places with her?”
“Poor Annie! I was thinking of her awhile go, mother. How hard it must be for one so young to be so afflicted as she is!”
“And yet, Laura, she never complains; although for five years she has never left her bed, and has often suffered, I know, for want of proper nourishment.”
“I don’t think she will suffer much longer, mother. I stopped in to see her the other day, and I was astonished at the change which had taken place in a short time. Her conversation, too, seems so heavenly, her faith in the Lord so strong, that I could not avoid coming to the conclusion that a few days more, at the most, would terminate her wearisome life.”
“It will be a happy release for her, indeed, my daughter. Still, it will be a sore trial for her mother.”
It was near six when Mrs. Perry and her daughter finished the work upon which they were engaged.
“Now Laura, dear,” said the mother, “get back as soon as you can, for I don’t like you to be out after night, and more than that, if Mrs. Carr comes, she won’t want to wait.”
About twenty minutes after the young girl had gone, Mrs. Carr called. “Pray, be seated, my dear friend,” said Mrs. Perry, “my daughter has just gone to Mrs. Allison’s with some work, and as soon as she returns I can pay you.”
“I think I had better call over again, Mrs. Perry,” answered the poor woman; “Mary begged me not to stay long.”
“Is Annie any worse, then?”
“Oh, yes, a great deal; the doctor thinks she will hardly last till morning.”
“Well, Mrs. Carr, death can be only gain to her.”
“Very true; still, the idea of losing her seems dreadful to me.”
“How does Mary get on at Mrs. Owring’s?”
“Not very well; she has been at work for her just one month to-day; and although she gave her to understand that her wages would be at least a dollar and a quarter a week, yet to-night, when she settled with her, she wouldn’t give her but three dollars, and at the same time told her that if she didn’t choose to work for that she could go.”
“What do you suppose was the reason for her acting so?”
“I don’t know, indeed, unless it is because she does not get there quite as early as the rest of her hands; for you see I am obliged to keep her a little while in the morning to help me to move Annie while I make her bed. Even that little sum, small it was, would have been some help to us, but it had all to go for rent. My landlord would take no denial. But I must go; you think I can depend on receiving your money to-night?”
“I do. Mrs. Allison is always prompt in paying for her work as soon as it is done. I will not trouble you to come again for it, Mrs. Carr. Laura shall bring it over to you.”
Let us now turn to the young girl we left at Mr. Allison’s, whom our readers, no doubt, recognise as Laura Perry.
“Good evening, Laura,” said Mrs. Allison, as she entered the room; “not brought my work home already! I did not look for it till next week. You and your mother, I am afraid, confine yourselves too closely to your needles for your own good. But you have not had your tea? sit up, and take some.”
“No, thank you, Mrs. Allison; mother will be uneasy if I stay long.”
“Well, Laura, I am sorry, but I cannot settle with you to-night. Tell your mother Mr. Allison was disappointed in collecting to-day, or she certainly should have had it. Did she say how much it was?”
“Two dollars, ma’am.”
“Very well: I will try and let her have it next week.”
The expression of Laura’s countenance told too plainly the disappointment she felt. “I am afraid Mrs. Perry is in want of that money,” remarked the husband after she had gone.
“Not the least doubt of it,” replied his wife. “She would not have sent home work at this hour if she had not been. Poor things! who can tell the amount of suffering and wretchedness that is caused by the rich neglecting to pay promptly.”
“You come without money, Laura,” said her mother, as she entered the house.
“How do you know that, mother?” she replied, forcing a smile.
“I read it in your countenance. Is it not so?”
“It is: Mr. Allison was disappointed in collecting–what will we do, mother?”
“The best we can, my child. We will have to do without our beef for dinner to-morrow; but then we have plenty of bread; so we shall not starve.”
“And I shall have to do without my new shoes. My old ones are too shabby to go to church in; so I shall have to stay at home.”
“I am sorry for your disappointment, my child, but I care more for Mrs. Carr than I do for ourselves. She has been here, and is in a great deal of trouble. The doctor don’t think Annie will live till morning, and Mrs. Owrings hag refused to give Mary more than three dollars for her month’s work, every cent of which old Grimes took for rent. I told her she might depend on getting what I owed her, and that I would send you over with it when you returned. You had better go at once and tell her, Laura; perhaps she may be able to get some elsewhere.”
“How much is it, mother?”
“Half a dollar.”
“It seems hard that she can’t get that small sum.”
With a heavy heart Laura entered Mrs. Carr’s humble abode.
“Oh how glad I am that you have come, my dear!” exclaimed the poor woman. “Annie has been craving some ice cream all day; it’s the only thing she seems to fancy. I told her she should have it as soon as you came.”
Mrs. Carr’s eyes filled with tears as Laura told of her ill success. “I care not for myself,” she said “but for that poor suffering child.”
“Never mind me, mother,” replied Annie. “It was selfish in me to want it, when I know how hard you and Mary are obliged to work for every cent you get. But I feel that I shall not bother you much longer; I have a strange feeling here now.” And she placed her hand upon her left side.
“Stop!” cried Laura; “I’ll try and get some ice cream for you Annie.” And off she ran to her mother’s dwelling. “Mother,” said she, as she entered the house, “do you recollect that half dollar father gave me the last time he went to sea?”
“Well, I think I had better take it and pay Mrs. Carr. Annie is very bad, and her mother says she has been wanting some ice cream all day.”
“It is yours, Laura, do as you like about it.”
“It goes hard with me to part with it, mother, for I had determined to keep it in remembrance of my father. It is just twelve years to-day since he went away. But poor Annie–yes, mother, I will take it.”
So saying, Laura went to unlock the box which contained her treasure, but unfortunately her key was not where she had supposed it was. After a half hour’s search she succeeded in finding it. Tears coursed down her cheeks like rain as she removed from the corner of the little box, where it had lain for so many years, this precious relic of a dear father, who in all probability, was buried beneath the ocean. Dashing them hastily away, she started again for Mrs. Carr’s. The ice cream was procured on the way, and, just as the clock struck eight, she arrived at the door. One hour has elapsed since she left. But why does she linger on the threshold? Why but because the sounds of weeping and mourning have reached her ears, and she fears that all is over with her poor friend, Her fears are indeed true, for the pure spirit of the young sufferer has taken its flight to that blest land where hunger and thirst are known no more. Poor Annie! thy last earthly wish, a simple glass of ice-cream, was denied thee–and why? We need not pause to answer: ye who have an abundance of this world’s goods, think, when ye are about to turn from your doors the poor seamstress or washerwoman, or even those less destitute than they, without a just recompense for their labour, whether the sufferings and privations of some poor creatures will not be increased thereby.
RETURNING GOOD FOR EVIL.
OBADIAH LAWSON and Watt Dood were neighbours; that is, they lived within a half mile of each other, and no person lived between their respective farms, which would have joined, had not a little strip of prairie land extended itself sufficiently to keep them separated. Dood was the oldest settler, and from his youth up had entertained a singular hatred against Quakers; therefore, when he was informed that Lawson, a regular disciple of that class of people had purchased the next farm to his, he declared he would make him glad to move away again. Accordingly, a system of petty annoyances was commenced by him, and every time one of Lawson’s hogs chanced to stray upon Dood’s place, he was beset by men and dogs, and most savagely abused. Things progressed thus for nearly a year, and the Quaker, a man of decidedly peace principles, appeared in no way to resent the injuries received at the hands of his spiteful neighbour. But matters were drawing to a crisis; for Dood, more enraged than ever at the quiet of Obadiah, made oath that he would do something before long to wake up the spunk of Lawson. Chance favoured his design. The Quaker had a high-blooded filly, which he had been very careful in raising, and which was just four years old. Lawson took great pride in this animal, and had refused a large sum of money for her.
One evening, a little after sunset, as Watt Dood was passing around his cornfield, he discovered the filly feeding in the little strip of prairie land that separated the two farms, and he conceived the hellish design of throwing off two or three rails of his fence, that the horse might get into his corn during the night. He did so, and the next morning, bright and early, he shouldered his rifle and left the house. Not long after his absence, a hired man, whom he had recently employed, heard the echo of his gun, and in a few minutes Dood, considerably excited and out of breath, came hurrying to the house, where he stated that he had shot at and wounded a buck; that the deer attacked him, and he hardly escaped with his life.
This story was credited by all but the newly employed hand, who had taken a dislike to Watt, and, from his manner, suspected that something was wrong. He therefore slipped quietly away from the house, and going through the field in the direction of the shot, he suddenly came upon Lawson’s filly, stretched upon the earth, with a bullet hole through the head, from which the warm blood was still oozing.
The animal was warm, and could not have been killed an hour. He hastened back to the dwelling of Dood, who met him in the yard, and demanded, somewhat roughly, where he had been.
“I’ve been to see if your bullet made sure work of Mr. Lawson’s filly,” was the instant retort.
Watt paled for a moment, but collecting himself, he fiercely shouted,
“Do you dare to say I killed her?”
“How do you know she is dead?” replied the man.
Dood bit his lip, hesitated a moment, and then turning, walked into the house.
A couple of days passed by, and the morning of the third one had broken, as the hired man met friend Lawson, riding in search of his filly.
A few words of explanation ensued, when, with a heavy heart, the Quaker turned his horse and rode home, where he informed the people of the fate of his filly. No threat of recrimination escaped him; he did not even go to law to recover damages; but calmly awaited his plan and hour of revenge. It came at last.
Watt Dood had a Durham heifer, for which he had paid a heavy price, and upon which he counted to make great gains.
One morning, just as Obadiah was sitting down, his eldest son came in with the information that neighbour Dood’s heifer had broken down the fence, entered the yard, and after eating most of the cabbages, had trampled the well-made beds and the vegetables they contained, out of all shape–a mischief impossible to repair.
“And what did thee do with her, Jacob?” quietly asked Obadiah.
“I put her in the farm-yard.”
“Did thee beat her?”
“I never struck her a blow.”
“Right, Jacob, right; sit down to thy breakfast, and when done eating I will attend to the heifer.”
Shortly after he had finished his repast, Lawson mounted a horse, and rode over to Dood’s, who was sitting under the porch in front of his house, and who, as he beheld the Quaker dismount, supposed he was coming to demand pay for his filly, and secretly swore he would have to law for it if he did.
“Good morning, neighbour Dood; how is thy family?” exclaimed Obadiah, as he mounted the steps and seated himself in a chair.
“All well, I believe,” was the crusty reply.
“I have a small affair to settle with you this morning, and I came rather early.”
“So I suppose,” growled Watt.
“This morning, my son found thy Durham heifer in my garden, where she has destroyed a good deal.”
“And what did he do with her?” demanded Dood, his brow darkening.
“What would thee have done with her, had she been my heifer in thy garden?” asked Obadiah.
“I’d a shot her!” retorted Watt, madly, “as I suppose you have done; but we are only even now. Heifer for filly is only ‘tit for tat.'”
“Neighbour Dood, thou knowest me not, if thou thinkest I would harm a hair of thy heifer’s back. She is in my farm-yard, and not even a blow has been struck her, where thee can get her at any time. I know thee shot my filly; but the evil one prompted thee to do it, and I lay no evil in my heart against my neighbours. I came to tell thee where thy heifer is, and now I’ll go home.”
Obadiah rose from his chair, and was about to descend the steps, when he was stopped by Watt, who hastily asked,
“What was your filly worth?”
“A hundred dollars is what I asked for her,” replied Obediah.
“Wait a moment!” and Dood rushed into the house, from whence he soon returned, holding some gold in his hand. “Here’s the price of your filly; and hereafter let there be a pleasantness between us.”
“Willingly, heartily,” answered Lawson, grasping the proffered hand of the other; “let there be peace between us.”
Obadiah mounted his horse, and rode home with a lighter heart, and from that day to this Dood has been as good a neighbour as one could wish to have; being completely reformed by the RETURNING GOOD FOR EVIL.
PUTTING YOUR HAND IN YOUR NEIGHBOUR’S POCKET.
“DO you recollect Thomas, who lived with us as waiter about two years ago, Mary?” asked Mr. Clarke, as he seated himself in his comfortable arm-chair, and slipped his feet into the nicely-warmed, embroidered slippers, which stood ready for his use.
“Certainly,” was the reply of Mrs. Clarke. “He was a bright, active fellow, but rather insolent.”
“He has proved to be a regular pickpocket,” continued her husband, “and is now on his way to Blackwell’s Island.”
“A very suitable place for him. I hope he will be benefited by a few months’ residence there,” returned the lady.
“Poor fellow!” exclaimed Mr. Joshua Clarke, an uncle of the young couple, who was quietly reading a newspaper in another part of the room. “There are many of high standing in the world, who deserve to go to Blackwell’s Island quite as much as he does.”
“You are always making such queer speeches, Uncle Joshua,” said his niece. “I suppose you do not mean that there are pickpockets among respectable people?”
“Indeed, there are, my dear niece. Your knowledge of the world must be very limited, if you are not aware of this. Putting your hand in your neighbour’s pocket, is one of the most fashionable accomplishments of the day.”
Mrs. Clarke was too well acquainted with her uncle’s peculiarities to think of arguing with him. She therefore merely smiled, and said to her husband:–
“Well, Henry, I am glad that neither you nor myself are acquainted with this fashionable accomplishment.”
“Not acquainted with it!” exclaimed the old gentleman. “I thought you knew yourselves better. Why, you and Henry are both regular pickpockets!”
“I wonder that you demean yourself by associating with us!” was the playful reply.
“Oh, you are no worse than the rest of the world; and, besides, I hope to do you some good, when you grow older and wiser. At present, Henry’s whole soul is absorbed in the desire to obtain wealth.”
“In a fair and honourable way, uncle,” interrupted Mr. Clarke, “and for honourable purposes.”
“Certainly,” replied Uncle Joshua, “in the common acceptation of the words _fair_ and _honourable_. But, do you never, in your mercantile speculations, endeavour to convey erroneous impressions to the minds of those with whom you are dealing? Do you not sometimes suppress information which would prevent your obtaining a good bargain? Do you never allow your customers to purchase goods under false ideas of their value and demand in the market? If you saw a man, less skilled in business than yourself, about to take a step injurious to him, but advantageous to you, would you warn him of his danger–thus obeying the command to love your neighbour as yourself?”
“Why, uncle, these questions are absurd. Of course, when engaged in business, I endeavour to do what is for my own advantage–leaving others to look out for themselves.”
“Exactly so. You are perfectly willing to put your hand in your neighbour’s pocket and take all you can get, provided he is not wise enough to know that your hand is there.”
“Oh, for shame, Uncle Joshua! I shall not allow you to talk to Henry in this manner,” exclaimed Mrs. Clarke perceiving that her husband looked somewhat irritated. “Come, prove your charge against me. In what way do I pick my neighbour’s pockets?”
“You took six shillings from the washerwoman this morning,” coolly replied Uncle Joshua.
“_Took_ six shillings from the washerwoman! Paid her six shillings, you mean, uncle. She called for the money due for a day’s work, and I gave it to her.”
“Yes, but not till you had kept her waiting nearly two hours. I heard her say, as she left the house, ‘I have lost a day’s work by this delay, for I cannot go to Mrs. Reed’s at this hour; so I shall be six shillings poorer at the end of the week.'”
“Why did she wait, then? She could have called again. I was not ready to attend to her at so early an hour.”
“Probably she needed the money to-day. You little know the value of six shillings to the mother of a poor family, Mary; but, you should remember that her time is valuable, and that it is as sinful to deprive her of the use of it, as if you took money from her purse.”
“Well, uncle, I will acknowledge that I did wrong to keep the poor woman waiting, and I will endeavour to be more considerate in future. So draw your chair to the table, and take a cup of tea and some of your favourite cakes.”
“Thank you, Mary; but I am engaged to take tea with your old friend, Mrs. Morrison. Poor thing! she has not made out very well lately. Her school has quite run down, owing to sickness among her scholars; and her own family have been ill all winter; so that her expenses have been great.”
“I am sorry to hear this,” replied Mrs. Clarke. “I had hoped that her school was succeeding. Give my love to her, uncle, and tell her I will call upon her in a day or two.”
Uncle Joshua promised to remember the message, and bidding Mr. and Mrs. Clarke good evening, he was soon seated in Mrs. Morrison’s neat little parlour, which, though it bore no comparison with the spacious and beautifully furnished apartments he had just left, had an air of comfort and convenience which could not fail to please.
Delighted to see her old friend, whom she also, from early habit, addressed by the title of Uncle Joshua, although he was no relation, Mrs. Morrison’s countenance, for awhile beamed with that cheerful, animated expression which it used to wear in her more youthful days; but an expression of care and anxiety soon over shadowed it, and, in the midst of her kind attentions to her visiter, and her affectionate endearment to two sweet children, who were playing around the room, she would often remain thoughtful and abstracted for several minutes.
Uncle Joshua was an attentive observer, and he saw that something weighed heavily upon her mind. When tea was over, and the little ones had gone to rest, he said, kindly,
“Come, Fanny, draw your chair close to my side, and tell me all your troubles, as freely as you used to do when a merry-hearted school-girl. How often have listened to the sad tale of the pet pigeon, that had flown away, or the favourite plant killed by the untimely frost. Come, I am ready, now as then, to assist you with my advice, and my purse, too, if necessary.”
Tears started to Mrs. Morrison’s eyes, as she replied.
“You were always a kind friend to me, Uncle Joshua, and I will gladly confide my troubles to you. You know that after my husband’s death I took this house, which, though small, may seem far above my limited income, in the hope of obtaining a school sufficiently large to enable me to meet the rent, and also to support myself and children. The small sum left them by their father I determined to invest for their future use. I unwisely intrusted it to one who betrayed the trust, and appropriated the money to some wild speculation of his own. He says that he did this in the hope of increasing my little property. It may be so, but my consent should have been asked. He failed and there is little hope of our ever recovering more, than a small part of what he owes us. But, to return to my school. I found little difficulty in obtaining scholars, and, for a short time, believed myself to be doing well, but I soon found that a large number of scholars did not insure a large income from the school. My terms were moderate, but still I found great difficulty in obtaining what was due to me at the end of the term.
“A few paid promptly, and without expecting me to make unreasonable deductions for unpleasant weather, slight illness, &c., &c. Others paid after long delay, which often put me to the greatest inconvenience; and some, after appointing day after day for me to call, and promising each time that the bill should be settled without fail, moved away, I knew not whither, or met me at length with a cool assurance that it was not possible for them to pay me at present–if it was ever in their power they would let me know.”
“Downright robbery!” exclaimed Uncle Joshua. “A set of pickpockets! I wish they were all shipped for Blackwell’s Island.”
“There are many reasons assigned for not paying,” continued Mrs. Morrison. “Sometimes the children had not learned as much as the parents expected. Some found it expedient to take their children away long before the expiration of the term, and then gazed at me in astonishment when I declared my right to demand pay for the whole time for which they engaged. One lady, in particular, to whose daughter I was giving music lessons, withdrew the pupil under pretext of slight indisposition, and sent me the amount due for a half term. I called upon her, and stated that I considered the engagement binding for twenty-four lessons, but would willingly wait until the young lady was quite recovered. The mother appeared to assent with willingness to this arrangement, and took the proffered money without comment. An hour or two after I received a laconic epistle stating that the lady had already engaged another teacher, whom she thought preferable–that she had offered me the amount due for half of the term, and I had declined receiving it–therefore she should not offer it again. I wrote a polite, but very plain, reply to this note, and enclosed my bill for the whole term, but have never heard from her since.”
“Do you mean to say that she actually received the money which you returned to her without reluctance, and gave you no notice of her intention to employ another teacher?” demanded the old gentleman.
“Certainly; and, besides this, I afterwards ascertained that the young lady was actually receiving a lesson from another teacher, when I called at the house–therefore the plea of indisposition was entirely false. The most perfect satisfaction had always been expressed as to the progress of the pupil, and no cause was assigned for the change.”
“I hope you have met with few cases as bad as this,” remarked Uncle Joshua. “The world must be in a worse state than even I had supposed, if such imposition is common.”
“This may be an extreme case,” replied Mrs. Morrison, “but I could relate many others which are little better. However, you will soon weary of my experience in this way, Uncle Joshua, and I will therefore mention but one other instance. One bitter cold day in January, I called at the house of a lady who had owed me a small amount for nearly a year, and after repeated delay had reluctantly fixed this day as the time when she would pay me at least a part of what was due. I was told by the servant who opened the door that the lady was not at home.
“What time will she be in?” I inquired.
“Not for some hours,” was the reply.
Leaving word that I would call again towards evening, I retraced my steps, feeling much disappointed at my ill success, as I had felt quite sure of obtaining the money. About five o’clock I again presented myself at the door, and was again informed that the lady was not at home.
“I will walk in, and wait for her return,” I replied.
The servant appeared somewhat startled at this, but after a little delay ushered me into the parlour. Two little boys, of four and six years of age, were playing about the room. I joined in their sports, and soon became quite familiar with them. Half an hour had passed away, when I inquired of the oldest boy what time he expected his mother?
“Not till late,” he answered, hesitatingly.
“Did she take the baby with her this cold day?” I asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” promptly replied the girl, who, under pretence of attending to the children, frequently came into the room.
The youngest child gazed earnestly in my face, and said, smilingly,
“Mother has not gone away, she is up stairs. She ran away with baby when she saw you coming, and told us to say she had gone out. I am afraid brother will take cold, for there is no fire up stairs.”
“It is no such thing,” exclaimed the girl and the eldest boy. “She is not up stairs, ma’am, or she would see you.”
But even as they spoke the loud cries of an infant were heard, and a voice at the head of the stairs calling Jenny.
The girl obeyed, and presently returned with the child in her arms, its face, neck, and hands purple with cold.
“Poor little thing, it has got its death in that cold room,” she said. “Mistress cannot see you, ma’am, she is sick and gone to bed.”
“This last story was probably equally false with the other, but I felt that it was useless to remain, and with feelings of deep regret for the poor children who were so early taught an entire disregard for truth, and of sorrow for the exposure to cold to which I had innocently subjected the infant, I left the house. A few days after, I heard that the little one had died with croup. Jenny, whom I accidentally met in the street, assured me that he took the cold which caused his death from the exposure on the afternoon of my call, as he became ill the following day. I improved the opportunity to endeavour to impress upon the mind of the poor girl the sin of which she had been guilty, in telling a falsehood even in obedience to the commands of her mistress; and I hope that what I said may be useful to her.
“The want of honesty and promptness in the parents of my pupils often caused me great inconvenience, and I frequently found it difficult to meet my rent when it became due. Still I have struggled through my difficulties without contracting any debts until this winter, but the sickness which has prevailed in my school has so materially lessened my income, and my family expenses have, for the same reason, been so much greater, that I fear it will be quite impossible for me to continue in my present situation.”
“Do not be discouraged,” said Uncle Joshua; “I will advance whatever sum you are in immediate need of, and you may repay me when it is convenient to yourself. I will also take the bills which are due to you from various persons, and endeavour to collect them. Your present term is, I suppose, nearly ended. Commence another with this regulation:–That the price of tuition, or at least one-half of it, shall be paid before the entrance of the scholar. Some will complain of this rule, but many will not hesitate to comply with it, and you will find the result beneficial. And now I would leave you, Fanny, for I have another call to make this evening. My young friend, William Churchill, is, I hear, quite ill, and I feel desirous to see him. I will call upon you in a day or two, and then we will have another talk about your affairs, and see what can be done for you. So good night, Fanny; go to sleep and dream of your old friend.”
Closing the door after Uncle Joshua, Mrs. Morrison returned to her room with a heart filled with thankfulness that so kind a friend had been sent to her in the hour of need; while the old gentleman walked with rapid steps through several streets until he stood at the door of a small, but pleasantly situated house in the suburbs of the city. His ring at the bell was answered by a pretty, pleasant-looking young woman, whom he addressed as Mrs. Churchill, and kindly inquired for her husband.
“William is very feeble to-day, but he will be rejoiced to see you, sir. His disease is partly owing to anxiety of mind, I think, and when his spirits are raised by a friendly visit, he feels better.”
Uncle Joshua followed Mrs. Churchill to the small room which now served the double purpose of parlour and bedroom. They were met at the door by the invalid, who had recognised the voice of his old friend, and had made an effort to rise and greet him. His sunken countenance, the hectic flush which glowed upon his cheek, and the distressing cough, gave fearful evidence that unless the disease was soon arrested in its progress, consumption would mark him for its victim.
The friendly visiter was inwardly shocked at his appearance, but wisely made no allusion to it, and soon engaged him in cheerful conversation. Gradually he led him to speak openly of his own situation,–of his health, and of the pecuniary difficulties with which he was struggling. His story was a common one. A young family were growing up around him, and an aged mother and invalid sister also depended upon him for support. The small salary which he obtained as clerk in one of the most extensive mercantile establishments in the city, was quite insufficient to meet his necessary expenses. He had, therefore, after being constantly employed from early morning until a late hour in the evening, devoted two or three hours of the night to various occupations which added a trifle to his limited income. Sometimes he procured copying of various kinds; at others, accounts, which he could take to his own house, were intrusted to him. This incessant application had gradually ruined his health, and now for several weeks he had been unable to leave the house.
“Have you had advice from an experienced physician, William?” inquired Uncle Joshua. The young man blushed, as he replied, that he was unwilling to send for a physician, knowing that he had no means to repay his services.
“I will send my own doctor to see you,” returned his friend. “He can help you if any one can, and as for his fee I will attend to it, and if you regain your health I shall be amply repaid.–No, do not thank me,” he continued, as Mr. Churchill endeavoured to express his gratitude. “Your father has done me many a favour, and it would be strange if I could not extend a hand to help his son when in trouble. And now tell me, William, is not your salary very small, considering the responsible situation which you have so long held in the firm of Stevenson & Co.?”
“It is,” was the reply; “but I see no prospect of obtaining more. I believe I have always given perfect satisfaction to my employer, although it is difficult to ascertain the estimation in which he holds me, for he is a man who never praises. He has never found fault with me, and therefore I suppose him satisfied, and indeed I have some proof of this in his willingness to wait two or three months in the hope that I may recover from my present illness before making a permanent engagement with a new clerk. Notwithstanding this, he has never raised my salary, and when I ventured to say to him about a year ago, that as his business had nearly doubled since I had been with him, I felt that it would be but just that I should derive some benefit from the change, he coolly replied that my present salary was all that he had ever paid a clerk, and he considered it a sufficient equivalent for my services. He knows very well that it is difficult to obtain a good situation, there are so many who stand ready to fill any vacancy, and therefore he feels quite safe in refusing to give me, more.”
“And yet,” replied Uncle Joshua, “he is fully aware that the advantage resulting from your long experience and thorough acquaintance with his business, increases his income several hundred dollars every year, and this money he quietly puts into his own pocket, without considering or caring that a fair proportion of it should in common honesty go into yours. What a queer world we live in! The poor thief who robs you of your watch or pocket-book, is punished without delay; but these wealthy defrauders maintain their respectability and pass for honest men, even while withholding what they know to be the just due of another.
“But cheer up, William, I have a fine plan for you, if you can but regain your health. I am looking for a suitable person to take charge of a large sheep farm, which I propose establishing on the land which I own in Virginia. You acquired some knowledge of farming in your early days. How would you like to undertake this business? The climate is delightful, the employment easy and pleasant; and it shall be my care that your salary is amply sufficient for the support of your family.”
Mr. Churchill could hardly command his voice sufficiently to express his thanks, and his wife burst into tears, as she exclaimed,
“If my poor husband had confided his troubles to you before, he would not have been reduced to this feeble state.”
“He will recover,” said the old gentleman. “I feel sure, that in one month, he will look like a different man. Rest yourself, now, William, and to-morrow I will see you again.”
And, followed by the blessings and thanks of the young couple, Uncle Joshua departed.
“Past ten o’clock,” he said to himself, as he paused near a lamp-post and looked at his watch. “I must go to my own room.”
As he said this he was startled by a deep sigh from some one near, and on looking round, saw a lad, of fourteen or fifteen years of age, leaning against the post, and looking earnestly at him.
Uncle Joshua recognised the son of a poor widow, whom he had occasionally befriended, and said, kindly,
“Well, John, are you on your way home from the store? This is rather a late hour for a boy like you.”
“Yes, sir, it is late. I cannot bear to return home to my poor mother, for I have bad news for her to-night. Mr. Mackenzie does not wish to employ me any more. My year is up to-day.”
“Why, John, how is this? Not long ago your employer told me that he was perfectly satisfied with you; indeed, he said that he never before had so trusty and useful a boy.”
“He has always appeared satisfied with me, sir, and I have endeavoured to serve him faithfully. But he told me to-day that he had engaged another boy.”
Uncle Joshua mused for a moment, and then asked,
“What was he to give you for the first year, John?”
“Nothing, sir. He told my mother that my services would be worth nothing the first year, but the second he would pay me fifty dollars, and so increase my salary as I grew older. My poor mother has worked very hard to support me this year, and I had hoped that I would be able to help her soon. But it is all over now, and I suppose I must take a boy’s place again, and work another year for nothing.”
“And then be turned off again. Another set of pickpockets,” muttered his indignant auditor.
“Pickpockets!” exclaimed the lad. “Did any one take your watch just now, sir? I saw a man look at it as you took it out. Perhaps we can overtake him. I think he turned into the next street.”
“No, no, my boy. My watch is safe enough. I am not thinking of street pickpockets, but of another class whom you will find out as you grow older. But never mind losing your place, John. My nephew is in want of a boy who has had some experience in your business, and will pay him a fair salary–more than Mr. Mackenzie agreed to give you for the second year. I will mention you to him, and you may call at his store to-morrow at eleven o’clock, and we will see if you will answer his purpose.”
“Thank you, Sir, I am sure I thank you; and mother will bless you for your kindness,” replied the boy, his countenance glowing with animation; and with a grateful “good night,” he darted off in the direction of his own home.
“There goes a grateful heart,” thought Uncle Joshua, as he gazed after the boy until he turned the corner of the street and disappeared. “He has lost his situation merely because another can be found who will do the work for nothing for a year, in the vain hope of future recompense. I wish Mary could have been with me this evening; I think she would have acknowledged that there are many respectable pickpockets who deserve to accompany poor Thomas to Blackwell’s Island;” and thus soliloquizing, Uncle Joshua reached the door of his boarding-house, and sought repose in his own room.
WE have more than once, in our rapidly written reflections, urged the policy and propriety of kindness, courtesy, and good-will between man and man. It is so easy for an individual to manifest amenity of spirit, to avoid harshness, and thus to cheer and gladden the paths of all over whom he may have influence or control, that it is really surprising to find any one pursuing the very opposite course. Strange as it may appear, there are among the children of men, hundreds who seem to take delight in making others unhappy. They rejoice at an opportunity of being the messengers of evil tidings. They are jealous or malignant; and in either case they exult in inflicting a wound. The ancients, in most nations, had a peculiar dislike to croakers, prophets of evil, and the bearers of evil tidings. It is recorded that the messenger from the banks of the Tigris, who first announced the defeat of the Roman army by the Persians, and the death of the Emperor Julian, in a Roman city of Asia Minor, was instantly buried under a heap of stones thrown upon him by an indignant populace. And yet this messenger was innocent, and reluctantly discharged a painful duty. But how different the spirit and the motive of volunteers in such cases–those who exult in an opportunity of communicating bad news, and in some degree revel over the very agony which it produces. The sensitive, the generous, the honourable, would ever be spared from such painful missions. A case of more recent occurrence may be referred to as in point. We allude to the murder of Mr. Roberts, a farmer of New Jersey, who was robbed and shot in his own wagon, near Camden. It became necessary that the sad intelligence should be broken to his wife and family with as much delicacy as possible. A neighbour was selected for the task, and at first consented. But, on consideration, his heart failed him. He could not, he said, communicate the details of a tragedy so appalling and he begged to be excused. Another, formed it was thought of sterner stuff, was then fixed upon: but he too, rough and bluff as he was in his ordinary manners, possessed the heart of a generous and sympathetic human being, and also respectfully declined. A third made a like objection, and at last a female friend of the family was with much difficulty persuaded, in company with another, to undertake the mournful task. And yet, we repeat, there are in society, individuals who delight in contributing to the misery of others–who are eager to circulate a slander, to chronicle a ruin, to revive a forgotten error, to wound, sting, and annoy, whenever they may do so with impunity. How much better the gentle, the generous, the magnanimous policy! Why not do everything that may be done for the happiness of our fellow creatures, without seeking out their weak points, irritating their half-healed wounds, jarring their sensibilities, or embittering their thoughts! The magic of kind words and a kind manner can scarcely be over-estimated. Our fellow creatures are more sensitive than is generally imagined. We have known cases in which a gentle courtesy has been remembered with pleasure for years. Who indeed cannot look back into “bygone time,” and discover some smile, some look or other demonstration of regard or esteem, calculated to bless and brighten every hour of after existence! “Kind words,” says an eminent writer, “do not cost much. It does not take long to utter them. They never blister the tongue or lips on their passage into the world, or occasion any other kind of bodily suffering; and we have never heard of any mental trouble arising from this quarter. Though they do not cost much, yet they accomplish much. 1. They help one’s own good nature and good will. One cannot be in a habit of this kind, without thereby pecking away something of the granite roughness of his own nature. Soft words will soften his own soul. Philosophers tell us that the angry words a man uses in his passion are fuel to the flame of his wrath, and make it blaze the more fiercely. Why, then, should not words of the opposite character produce opposite results, and that most blessed of all passions of the soul, kindness, be augmented by kind words? People that are for ever speaking kindly, are for ever disinclining themselves to ill-temper. 2. Kind words make other people good-natured. Cold words freeze people, and hot words scorch them, and sarcastic words irritate them, and bitter words make them bitter, and wrathful words make them wrathful. And kind words also produce their own image on men’s souls; and a beautiful image it is. They soothe, and quiet, and comfort the hearer. They shame him out of his sour, morose, unkind feelings; and he has to become kind himself. There is such a rush of all other kinds of words in our days, that it seems desirable to give kind words a chance among them. There are vain words, idle words, hasty words, spiteful words, silly words, and empty words. Now kind words are better than the whole of them; and it is a pity that, among the improvements of the present age, birds of this feather might not have more of a chance than they have had to spread their wings.”
It is indeed! Kind words should be brought into more general use. Those in authority should employ them more frequently, when addressing the less fortunate among mankind. Employers should use them in their intercourse with their workmen. Parents should utter them on every occasion to their children. The rich should never forget an opportunity of speaking kindly to the poor. Neighbours and friends should emulate each other in the employment of mild, gentle, frank, and kindly language. But this cannot be done unless each endeavours to control himself. Our passions and our prejudices must be kept in check. If we find that we have a neighbour on the other side of the way, who has been more fortunate in a worldly sense than we have been, and if we discover a little jealousy or envy creeping into our opinions and feelings concerning said neighbour–let us be careful, endeavour to put a rein upon our tongues, and to avoid the indulgence of malevolence or ill-will. If we, on the other hand, have been fortunate, have enough and to spare, and there happens to be in our circle some who are dependent upon us, some who look up to us with love and respect–let us be generous, courteous, and kind–and thus we shall not only discharge a duty, but prove a source of happiness to others.
MOST people think there are cares enough in the world, and yet many are very industrious to increase them:–One of the readiest ways of doing this is to quarrel with a neighbour. A bad bargain may vex a man for a week, and a bad debt may trouble him for a month; but a quarrel with his neighbours will keep him in hot water all the year round.
Aaron Hands delights in fowls, and his cocks and hens are always scratching up the flowerbeds of his neighbour William Wilkes, whose mischievous tom-cat every now and then runs off with a chicken. The consequence is, that William Wilkins is one half the day occupied in driving away the fowls, and threatening to screw their long ugly necks off; while Aaron Hands, in his periodical outbreaks, invariably vows to skin his neighbour’s cat, as sure as he can lay hold of him.
Neighbours! Neighbours! Why can you not be at peace? Not all the fowls you can rear, and the flowers you can grow, will make amends for a life of anger, hatred, malice, and uncharitableness. Come to some kind-hearted understanding one with another, and dwell in peace.
Upton, the refiner, has a smoky chimney, that sets him and all the neighbourhood by the ears. The people around abuse him without mercy, complaining that they are poisoned, and declaring that they will indict him at the sessions. Upton fiercely sets them at defiance, on the ground that his premises were built before theirs, that his chimney did not come to them, but that they came to his chimney.
Neighbours! Neighbours! practise a little more forbearance. Had half a dozen of you waited on the refiner in a kindly spirit, he would years ago have so altered his chimney, that it would not have annoyed you.
Mrs. Tibbets is thoughtless–if it were not so she would never have had her large dusty carpet beaten, when her neighbour, who had a wash, was having her wet clothes hung out to dry. Mrs. Williams is hasty and passionate, or she would never have taken it for granted that the carpet was beaten on purpose to spite her, and give her trouble. As it is, Mrs. Tibbets and Mrs. Williams hate one another with a perfect hatred.
Neighbours! Neighbours! bear with one another. We are none of us angels, and should not, therefore, expect those about us to be free from faults.
They who attempt to out-wrangle a quarrelsome neighbour, go the wrong way to work. A kind word, and still more a kind deed, will be more likely to be successful. Two children wanted to pass by a savage dog: the one took a stick in his hand and pointed it at him, but this only made the enraged creature more furious than before. The other child adopted a different plan; for by giving the dog a piece of his bread and butter, he was allowed to pass, the subdued animal wagging his tail in quietude. If you happen to have a quarrelsome neighbour, conquer him by civility and kindness; try the bread and butter system, and keep your stick out of sight. That is an excellent Christian admonition, “A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.”
Neighbours’ quarrels are a mutual reproach, and yet a stick or a straw is sufficient to promote them. One man is rich, and another poor; one is a churchman, another a dissenter; one is a conservative, another a liberal; one hates another because he is of the same trade, and another is bitter with his neighbour because he is a Jew or a Roman Catholic.
Neighbours! Neighbours! live in love, and then while you make others happy, you will be happier yourselves.
“That happy man is surely blest,
Who of the worst things makes the best; Whilst he must be of temper curst,
Who of the best things makes the worst.”
“Be ye all of one mind,” says the Apostle, “having compassion one of another; love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing. “To a rich man I would say, bear with and try to serve those who are below you; and to a poor one–
“Fear God, love peace, and mind your labour; And never, never quarrel with your neighbour.”
GOOD WE MIGHT DO.
WE all might do good
Where we often do ill;
There is always the way,
If we have but the will;
Though it be but a word
Kindly breathed or supprest,
It may guard off some pain,
Or give peace to some breast.
We all might do good
In a thousand small ways–
In forbearing to flatter,
Yet yielding _due_ praise–
In spurning ill humour,
Reproving wrong done,
And treating but kindly
Each heart we have won.
We all might do good,
Whether lowly or great,
For the deed is not gauged
By the purse or estate;
If it be but a cup
Of cold water that’s given,
Like “the widow’s two mites,”
It is something for Heaven.
THE TOWN LOT.
ONCE upon a time it happened that the men who governed the municipal affairs of a certain growing town in the West, resolved, in grave deliberation assembled, to purchase a five-acre lot at the north end of the city–recently incorporated–and have it improved for a park or public square. Now, it also happened, that all the saleable ground lying north of the city was owned by a man named Smith–a shrewd, wide-awake individual, whose motto was “Every man for himself,” with an occasional addition about a certain gentleman in black taking “the hindmost.”
Smith, it may be mentioned, was secretly at the bottom of this scheme for a public square, and had himself suggested the matter to an influential member of the council; not that he was moved by what is denominated public spirit–no; the spring of action in the case was merely “private spirit,” or a regard for his own good. If the council decided upon a public square, he was the man from whom the ground would have to be bought; and he was the man who could get his own price therefor.
As we have said, the park was decided upon, and a committee of two appointed whose business it was to see Smith, and arrange with him for the purchase of a suitable lot of ground. In due form the committee called upon the landholder, who was fully prepared for the interview.
“You are the owner of those lots at the north end?” said the spokesman of the committee.
“I am,” replied Smith, with becoming gravity.
“Will you sell a portion of ground, say five acres, to the city?”
“For what purpose?” Smith knew very well for what purpose the land was wanted.
“We have decided to set apart about five acres of ground, and improve it as a kind of park, or public promenade.”
“Have you, indeed? Well, I like that,” said Smith, with animation. “It shows the right kind of public spirit.”
“We have, moreover, decided that the best location will be at the north end of the town.”
“Decidedly my own opinion,” returned Smith.
“Will you sell us the required acres?” asked one of the councilmen.
“That will depend somewhat upon where you wish to locate the park.”
The particular location was named.
“The very spot,” replied Smith, promptly, “upon which I have decided to erect four rows of dwellings.”
“But it is too far out for that,” was naturally objected.
“O, no; not a rod. The city is rapidly growing in that direction. I have only to put up the dwellings referred to, and dozens will, be anxious to purchase lots, and build all around them. Won’t the ground to the left of that you speak of answer as well?”
But the committee replied in the negative. The lot they had mentioned was the one decided upon as most suited for the purpose, and they were not prepared to think of any other location.
All this Smith understood very well. He was not only willing, but anxious for the city to purchase the lot they were negotiating for. All he wanted was to get a good round price for the same–say four or five times the real value. So he feigned indifference, and threw difficulties in the way.
A few years previous to this time, Smith had purchased a considerable tract of land at the north of the then flourishing