This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
  • 1851
Buy it on Amazon FREE Audible 30 days

told, would not make mine. I have lived long enough to get a cool head and understand something of the springs of action that lie in the human heart. The best, at best, have little to be proud of, and much to lament over, in the matter of high and honourable impulses. It is a far easier thing to do wrong than right; far easier to be led away by our evil passions than to compel ourselves always to regard justice and judgment in our dealings with others. Test yourself by this rule. Would your feelings for Marston be the same if he had only acted toward another as he has acted toward you? Do not say ‘yes’ from a hasty impulse. Reflect coolly about it. If not, then it is not so much a regard to principle, as your regard to yourself, that causes you to be so bitterly offended.”

This plain language was not relished by the young man. It was touching the very thing in him that Marston had offended–his self-love. He replied, coldly–

“As for that, I am very well satisfied with my own reasons for being displeased with Marston; and am perfectly willing to be responsible for my own action in this case. I will change very much from my present feelings, if I ever have any thing more to do with him.”

“God give you a better mind then,” replied Mr. Welford. “It is the best wish I can express for you.”

The two young men who were now at variance with each other had been friends for many years. As they entered the world, the hereditary character of each came more fully into external manifestation, and revealed traits not before seen, and not always the most agreeable to others. Edward Marston had his faults, and so had Herbert Arnest: the latter quite as many as the former. There was a mutual observation of these, and a mutual forbearance towards each other for a considerable time, although each thought more than was necessary about things in the other that ought to be corrected. A fault with Marston was quickness of temper and a disposition to say unpleasant, cutting things, without due reflection. But he had a forgiving disposition, and very many amiable and excellent qualities. Arnest was also quick-tempered. His leading defect of character was self-esteem, which made him exceedingly sensitive in regard to the conduct of others as affecting the general estimation of himself. He could not bear to have any freedom taken with him, in company, even by his best friend. He felt it to be humiliating, if not degrading. He, therefore, was a man of many dislikes, for one and another were every now and then doing or saying something that hurt more or less severely his self-esteem.

Marston had none of this peculiar weakness of his friend. He rarely thought about the estimation in which he was held, and never let the mere opinions of others influence him. But he was careful not to do any thing that violated his own self-respect.

The breach between the young men occurred thus. The two friends were in company with several others, and there was present a young lady in whose eyes Arnest wished to appear in as favourable a light as possible. He was relating an adventure in which he was the principal hero, and, in doing so, exaggerated his own action so far as to amuse Marston, who happened to know all about the circumstances, and provoke from him some remarks that placed the whole affair in rather a ridiculous light, and caused a laugh at Arnest’s expense.

The young man’s self-esteem was deeply wounded. Even the lady, for whose ears the narrative had been more especially given, laughed heartily, and made one or two light remarks; or, rather, heavy ones for the ears of Arnest. He was deeply disturbed though at the time he managed to conceal almost entirely what he felt.

Marston, however, saw that his thoughtless words had done more (sic) than he had intended them to do, both upon the company and upon the sensitive mind of his friend. He regretted having uttered them and waited only until he should leave the company with Arnest, to express his sorrow for what he had done. But his friend did not give him this opportunity, for he managed to retire alone, thus expressing to Marston the fact that he was seriously offended.

Early the next morning, Marston called at the residence of his friend, in order to make an apology for having offended him; but he happened not to be at home. On arriving at his office, he found a note from Arnest, couched in the most offensive terms. The language was such as to extinguish all desire or intention to apologize.

“Henceforth we are strangers,” he said, as he thrust the note aside.

An hour afterward, they met on the street, looked coldly into each other’s face, and passed without even a nod. That act sealed the record of estrangement.

Mr. Wellford was an old gentleman who was well acquainted with both of the young men, and esteemed them for the good qualities they possessed. When he heard of the occurrence just related, he was much grieved, and sought to heal the breach that had been made; but without success. Arnest’s self-esteem had been sorely wounded, and he would not forgive what he considered a wanton outrage. Marston felt himself deeply insulted by the note he had received, and maintained that he would forfeit his self-respect were he to hold any intercourse whatever with a man who could, on so small a provocation, write such a scandalous letter. Thus the matter stood; wounded self-esteem on one side, and insulted self-respect on the other, not only maintaining the breach, but widening it every day. Mr Wellford used his utmost influence with his young friends to bend them from their anger, but he argued the matter in vain. The voice of pride was stronger than the voice of reason.

Months were suffered to go by, and even years to elapse, and still they were as strangers. Circumstances threw them constantly together; they met in places of business; they sat in full view of each other in church on the holy Sabbath; they mingled in the same social circles; the friends of one were the friends of the other; but they rarely looked into each other’s face, and never spoke. Did this make them happier? No! For, “_If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses_.” Did they feel indifferent toward each other? Not by any means! Arnest still dwelt on and magnified the provocation he had received, but thought that the expression of his indignation had not been of a character to give as great offence to Marston as it had done. And Marston, as time passed, thought more and more lightly of the few jesting words he had spoken, and considered them less and less provocation for the insulting note he had received, which he still had, and sometimes turned up and read.

The old friends were forced to think of each other often, for both were rising in the world, and rising into general esteem and respectability. The name of the one was often mentioned with approbation in the presence of the other; and it sometimes happened that they were thrown together in such a way as to render their position toward each other really embarrassing: as, for instance, one was called to preside at a public meeting, and the other chosen secretary. Neither could refuse, and there had to be an official intercourse between them; it was cold and formal in the extreme; and neither could see as he looked into the eyes of the other, a glimmer of the old light of friendship.

Mr. Wellford was present at this meeting, and marked the fact that the intercourse between Arnest and Marston was official only–that they did not unbend to each other in the least. He was grieved to see it, for he knew the good qualities of both, and he had a high respect for them.

“This must not be,” said he to himself, as he walked thoughtfully homeward. “They are making themselves unhappy, and preventing a concert of useful efforts for good in society, and all for nothing. I will try again to reconcile them; perhaps I may be more successful than before.”

So, on the next day, the old gentleman made it his business to call upon Arnest, who expressed great pleasure in meeting him.

“I noticed,” said Mr. Wellford, after he had conversed some time, and finally introduced the subject of the meeting on the previous evening, “that your intercourse with the secretary was exceedingly formal; in fact, hardly courteous.”

“I don’t like Marston, as you are very well aware,” replied Arnest.

“In which feeling you stand nearly alone, friend Arnest. Mr. Marston is highly esteemed by all who know him.”

“All don’t know him as I do.”

“Perhaps others know him better than you do; there may lie the difference.”

“If a man knocks me down, I know the weight of his arm much better than those who have never felt it.”

“Still nursing your anger, still harbouring unkind thoughts! Forgive and forget, my friend–forgive and forget; no longer let the sun go down upon your wrath.”

“I can forgive, Mr. Wellford–I do forgive; for Heaven knows I wish him no harm; but I cannot forget: that is asking too much.”

“You do not forget, because you will not forgive,” replied the old gentleman. “Forgive, and you will soon forget. I am sure you will both be happier in forgetting than you can be in remembering the past.”

But Arnest shook his head, remarking, as he so–“I would rather let things remain as they are. At least, I cannot stoop to any humiliating overtures for a reconciliation. When Marston outraged my feelings so wantonly, I wrote him a pretty warm expression of my sentiments in regard to his conduct. This gave him mortal offence. I do not now remember what I wrote, but nothing, certainly, to have prevented his coming forward and apologizing for his conduct; but he did not choose to do this, and there the matter rests. I cannot recall the angry rebuke I gave him, for it was no doubt just.”

“A man who writes a letter in a passion, and afterwards forgets what he has written,” said Mr. Wellford, “may be sure that he has said what his sober reason cannot approve. If you could have the letter you then sent before you now, I imagine that you would no longer wonder that Marston was offended.”

“That is impossible; without doubt, he burned my note the moment he received it.”

Mr. Wellford tried in vain to induce Arnest to consent to forget what was past; but he affirmed that this was impossible, and that he had no wish to renew an acquaintance with his old friend.

About the same time that this interview took place, Marston was alone, thinking with sad and softened feelings of the past. The letter of Arnest was before him; he had turned it over by accident.

“He could not have been himself when he wrote this,” he thought. It was the first time he had permitted himself to think so. “My words must have stung him severely, lightly as I uttered them, and with no intention to wound. This matter ought not to have gone on so long. Friends are not so plentiful that we may carelessly cast those we have tried and proved aside. He has many excellent qualities.”

Pride came quickly, with many suggestions about self-respect, and what every man owed to himself.

“He owes it to himself to be just to others,” Marston truly thought. “Was I just in failing to apologize to my friend, notwihstanding this offensive letter? No, I was not; for his action did not exonerate me from the responsibility of mine. Ah, me! How passion blinds us!”

After musing for some time, Marston drew towards him a sheet of paper, and, taking up a pen, wrote:

“MY DEAR SIR:–What I ought to have done years ago, I do now, and that is, offer you a sincere apology for light words thoughtlessly spoken, but which I ought not to have used, as they were calculated to wound, and, I am grieved to think, did wound. But for your note, which I enclose, I should have made this apology the moment I had an opportunity. But its peculiar tenor, I then felt, precluded me from doing so. I confess that I erred in letting my feelings blind my cooler judgment.

“Your old friend, MARSTON.

“To Mr. Herbert Arnest.”

Enclosing the note alluded to in this letter, Marston sealed, and, ringing for an attendant, despatched it.

“Better to do right late than never,” he murmured, as he leaned pensively back in his chair.

“Let what will come of it, I shall feel better, for I will gain my own self-respect, and have an inward assurance that I have done right,–more than I have for a long time had, in regard to this matter at least.”

Relieved in mind, Marston commenced looking over some papers in reference to matters of business then on hand, and was soon so much absorbed in them, that the subject which had lately filled his thoughts faded entirely therefrom. Some one opened the door, and he turned to see who was entering. In an instant he was on his feet. It was Arnest.

The face of the latter was pale and agitated, and his lips quivered. He came forward hurriedly, extending his hand, not to grasp that of his old friend, but to hold up his own letter that had been just returned to him.

“Marston,” he said, huskily, “did I send you _this_ note?”

“You did,” was the firm but mild answer.

“Thus I cancel it!” And he tore it into shreds, and scattered them on the floor. “Would that its contents could be as easily obliterated from your memory!” he added, in a most earnest voice.

“They are no longer there, my friend,” returned Marston, with visible emotion, now grasping the hand of Arnest. “You have wiped them out.”

Arnest returned the pressure with both hands, his eyes fixed on those of Marston, until they grew so dim that he could no longer read the old familiar lines and forgiving look.

“Let us forgive and forget,” said Marston, speaking in a broken voice. “We have wronged each other and ourselves. We have let evil passions rule instead of good affections.”

“From my heart do I say ‘Amen,'” replied Arnest. “Yes, let us forgive and forget. Would that we had been as wise as we now are, years ago!”

Thus were they reconciled. And now the question is, What did either gain by his indignation against the other? Did Arnest rise higher in his self-esteem, or Marston gain additional self-respect? We think not. Alas! how blinding is selfish passion! How it opens in the mind the door for the influx of multitudes of evil and false suggestions! How it hides the good in others, and magnifies, weakness into crimes! Let us beware of it.

“Reconciled at last,” said old Mr. Wellford, when he next saw Arnest and heard the fact from his lips.

“Yes,” replied the latter. “I can now forget as well as forgive.”

“Rather say you can forget, _because_ you forgive. If you had forgiven truly, you could have ceased to think of what was wrong in your friend long ago. People talk of forgiving and not forgetting, but it isn’t so: they do not forget because they do not forgive.”

“I believe you are right,” said Arnest. “I think, now, as naturally of my friend’s good qualities as I ever did before of what was evil. I forget the evil in thinking of the good.”

“Because you have forgiven him,” returned Mr. Wellford. “Before you forgave him, your thought of evil gave no room for the thought of good.”

Mr. Wellford was right. After we have forgiven, we find it no hard matter to forget.


“MONEY, money, money! That’s the everlasting cry! I’ll give up my pew. I won’t go to church. I’ll stay at home and read the Bible. Not that I care for a few dollars more than I do for the dust that blows in the wind; but this selling of salvation for gold disgusts me. I’m sick to death of it!”

“But hear, first, Mr. Larkin, what we want money for,” said Mr. Elder, one of the vestrymen of the church to which the former belonged. “You know that our minister’s salary is very small; in fact, entirely insufficient for the maintenance of his family. He has, as might be supposed, fallen into debt, and we are making an effort to raise a sufficient sum to relieve him from his unpleasant embarrassment.”

“But what business has he to go in debt, Mr. Elder? He knows the amount of his income, and, as an honest man, should not let his expenses exceed it.”

“But you know as well as I do that he cannot live on four hundred dollars a year.”

“I don’t know any such thing, friend Elder. But I do know, that there are hundreds and thousands who live on much less, and save a little into the bargain. That, however, is neither here nor there. Four hundred dollars a year is all this parish can afford to pay a minister, and that Mr. Malcolm was distinctly told before he came. If he could not live on the salary offered, why did he come? Mr. Pelton never received more.”

“Beg your pardon, Mr. Larkin. Mr. Pelton never received less than seven hundred dollars a year. There were always extra subscriptions made for him.”

“I never gave any thing more than my regular subscription and pew-rent.”

“It is more than I can say, then. In presents of one kind and another and in money it never cost me less than from fifty to seventy-five dollars a year extra. Having been in the vestry for the last ten years, I happen to know that there was always something to make up at the end of the year, and it generally came out of the pockets of a few.”

“Well, it isn’t right, that is all I have to say,” returned Mr. Larkin. “A minister has no business to saddle himself upon a congregation in that way for less than his real weight. It’s an imposition, and one that I am not going to stand. I’m opposed to all these forced levies, from principle.”

“I rather think the first error is on the side of the congregation,” said Mr. Elder. “I think they are not only to blame, but really dishonest, in fixing upon a sum for the support of a minister that is plainly inadequate to his maintenance. Here, in our parish, for instance, a thousand dollars might be paid to a minister with the greatest ease in the world, and no one be oppressed by his subscription. And yet, we are very content and self-complacent in our niggardly tender of four hundred dollars.”

“A thousand dollars! I don’t believe any minister ought to receive such a salary. I have no notion of tempting, by inducements like that, money-lovers into the sacred office.”

“Pardon me, Mr. Larkin, but how much does it cost you to live? Not less than two thousand five hundred dollars a year, I presume.”

“But I don’t put my expenses alongside of the minister’s. I can afford to spend all that it costs me. I have honestly made what I possess, and have a right to enjoy it.”

“I didn’t question that, Mr. Larkin. I only turned your thoughts in this direction, that you might realize in your own mind how hard it must be for a man with a family of three children, just the number that you have, to live on four hundred dollars a year.”

But the allusion to matters personal to Mr. Larkin gave that gentleman a fine opportunity to feel offended; which he did not fail to embrace, and thus close the interview.

This was Mr. Elder’s first effort to obtain a subscription for paying off the minister’s debt. It quite disheartened him. He had intended making three calls on his way to his store that morning, for the purpose of trying to raise something for Mr. Malcolm; but he felt so discouraged by the reception he had met with from Mr. Larkin, that he passed on without doing so. Near his store was a carriage repository. The owner of it put his hand upon his shoulder as he was going by, and said, “Just step in, I want to show you something beautiful.”

Mr. Elder went in, and was shown a very handsome and fashionably-made carriage, with all the modern improvements.

“This is something very elegant, certainly. Who is it for?”

“One of the members of your church.”


“Yes. It is for Larkin.”

“Indeed! How much does it cost him?”

“Eight hundred dollars.”

“He ought to have a fine pair of horses for so fine a carriage.”

“And so he has. He bought a noble span, last week, for a thousand dollars.”

Mr. Elder said what he could in praise of the elegant carriage; but he couldn’t say much, for he had no heart to do so. He felt worse than ever about the deficiency in Mr. Malcolm’s salary. On the next day he was in better spirits, and called in upon one of the members of the church, as he passed to his store. He stated his errand, and received this reply–

“I’ll tell you what, Mr. Elder, I am of Larkin’s opinion in this matter. If our minister agreed to come for four hundred dollars, he should stick to his contract. He’s no business to go in debt, and then call upon us to get him out of his difficulties. It isn’t the clean thing. I don’t mind a few dollars any more than you do; but I like principle. I like to see all men, especially ministers, stick to their text. Malcolm knew before he came here what we could afford to give him, and if he couldn’t live upon that, he had no business to come. That’s what I think of it, and I always speak out my mind plainly.”

Mr. Elder made no more begging calls on that day. But he tried it again on the next, and found that Larkin had been over the ground before him, and said so much about “the imposition of the thing,” that he could do little or nothing. There was a speciousness about Larkin’s manner of alluding to the subject, that carried people away with him; particularly as what he said favoured their inclination to keep a tight hold on their purse-strings. He was piqued with Elder, and this set him to talking, and doing more mischief than he thought for.

The Rev. Mr. Malcolm was a man of about thirty years of age. He had taken orders a couple of years previous to the date of his call to the parish where he now preached. At the time of doing so, he was engaged in teaching a school; from which he received a very comfortable income. The bishop who ordained him recommended the parish at C–, when Mr. Pelton left there, to apply for Mr. Malcolm; which was done. The latter was an honest, conscientious man, and sincere in his desire to do good in the sacred office to which he believed himself called. When the invitation to settle at C–came, he left home and visited the parish, in order that he might determine whether it was his duty to go there or not. On his return, his wife inquired, with a good deal of interest, how he liked the place, and if he thought he would go there.

“I think I shall accept the call,” said he. This was not spoken with much warmth.

“Don’t you like the people?” inquired Mrs. Malcolm.

“Yes; as far as I saw them, they were very pleasant, good sort of people. But the salary is entirely too small.”

“How much?”

“Four hundred dollars a year, and the parsonage–a little affair, that would rent for about a hundred dollars.”

“We can’t live on that,” said Mrs. Malcolm, in a disappointed tone; “it is out of the question.”

“No, certainly not. But I am assured that at least seven or eight hundred will be made up during the year. This has always been done for Mr. Pelton and will be done for me, if I accept the call.”

“That might do, if we practised close economy. But why do they not make the salary seven or eight hundred dollars at once? It would be just the same to them, and make the minister feel a great deal more independent.”

“True; but we must let people do things in their own way. We can live on seven hundred dollars, and I therefore think it my duty to give up my school, and accept the call.”

“No one, certainly, can charge you with sordid views in doing so, for your school yields you now over a thousand dollars, and is increasing.”

“I will try and keep my mind free from all thought of what people may say or think,” returned Mr. Malcolm, “and endeavour to do right for the sake of right.”

The wife of the Rev. Mr. Malcolm fully sympathized with her husband in his wish to enter upon the duties of his sacred calling, and was ready to make any sacrifice that could be made in order to see him in the position he so much desired to occupy. She did not, therefore, make any objection to giving up their pleasant home and sufficient income, but went with him cheerfully to C–, and there made every effort to reduce all their expenses to their reduced means of living.

It is a much easier thing to increase our expenses than to reduce them. We get used to a certain free way of living, and it is one of the most difficult things in the world to give up this little luxury, and that pleasant indulgence, and come right down to the meagre necessaries of life. This fact was soon apparent to Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm; but they were in earnest in what they were about, and practised the required self-denial. Their expenses were kept within the limits of seven hundred dollars, the lowest sum that had been named.

At the end of the first three months, one hundred dollars were paid to the minister. When he gave up his school, he sold it out to a person who wished to succeed him, for two hundred dollars. The expense of removing to C–, and living there for three months, had quite exhausted this sum. Mr. Malcolm paid away his last dollar before the quarter’s salary was due, and was forced to let his bread-bill and his meat-bill run on for a couple of weeks; these were paid the moment he received his salary.

“I don’t like these bills at all,” said he to his wife, after they were paid. “A minister should never owe a dollar; it does him no good. Above all things, his mind should live in a region above the anxieties that a deficient income and consequent debt always occasion. We must husband what we have, and make it go as far as possible.”

By the end of two months, the hundred dollars were all expended; but not a word had been said about the additional three or four hundred that had been promised, or that Mr. Malcolm fully believed had been promised. Bills had now to be run up with the baker, grocer, and butcher, which amounted to nearly fifty dollars when the next quarter’s salary was paid.

Mr. Malcolm did not doubt but the additional amount promised when he consented to accept the call would be made up; still he could not help feeling troubled. If things went on as they were going, by the end of the year he would be in debt at least two hundred dollars; and, of all things in the world, he had a horror of debt.

During this time, he was in familiar intercourse with the principal members of his church, and especially with the leading vestrymen who held out inducements to him beyond the fixed salary; but no allusion was made to the subject, and he had too much delicacy to introduce it.

At last, matters approached a climax. The minister was about two hundred dollars in debt, and bills were presented almost every week, and their settlement politely urged. This was a condition of things not to be endured by a man of Mr. Malcolm’s high sense of right and peculiar delicacy of feeling. At length, after lying awake for half of the night, thinking over what was to be done, he came to the reluctant conclusion that it was his imperative duty to those he owed, to mention the necessities of his case to the vestry, and learn from them, without further delay, whether he had any thing beyond the four hundred dollars to expect.

The hardest task Mr. Malcolm had ever performed was now before him, and he shrunk from it with painful reluctance. But the path of duty was plain, and he was not a man to hold back when he saw his way clear. If there had been any hesitation, an imperative dun received before he sat down to breakfast, and another before nine o’clock, would have effectually dispelled it.

Mr. Malcolm went to the store of Mr. Elder, one of the vestrymen, and found him quite busy with customers. He waited for half an hour for him to be disengaged, and then went out, saying, as he passed him at the counter, that he would call in again.

“Oh, dear!” he murmured to himself, with a long-drawn sigh, as he emerged upon the street, “is not this humiliating? If I had engaged for only four hundred dollars a year, I would have lived on bread and water rather than have exceeded my income; but at least seven hundred were promised. It was, however, an informal promise; and I was wrong, perhaps, in trusting to any thing so unsettled as this. Of course, it will be paid to me when I make known my present situation; but the doing of that I shrink from.”

“Mr. T–was here again for his bill,” were the first words that saluted the ears of the minister when he returned home.

“What did you say to him?” he asked.

“I told him that you would settle it very soon. He said he hoped you would, for he wanted money badly, and it had been running for some time.”

“He was rude, then!”

“A little so,” replied the wife, in a meek voice.

Mr. Malcolm paced the floor with rapid steps; he felt deeply disturbed.

An hour afterwards, he entered the store of Mr. Elder, and found the owner disengaged. He did not linger in preliminaries, but approached the subject thus:–

“You remember, Mr. Elder, that in the interview I had with you and two of the vestry previous to my accepting the call of this parish, you stated that my income would not be limited to the four hundred dollars named as the minister’s salary, which I then told you was a smaller sum than I could possibly live upon?”

Mr. Elder exhibited a momentary confusion when the minister said this; but he immediately replied–“Yes, I believe something was said on that subject, though I have not thought of it since. We always had to make up something for Mr. Pelton, and I suppose we must do the same for you, if it is necessary. Do you find your salary inadequate?”

“Entirely so; and I knew it would be inadequate from the first. It is impossible for me to support my family on four hundred dollars; and had I not been assured that at least three or four hundred dollars extra would be made up during the year, I never would have dreamed of accepting the call. It has been a principle with me not to go in debt; and since I have been a man, I have not, until this time, owed a dollar; and should not have owed it now, had I received, since I have resided in C–the income I fully expected.”

Mr. Malcolm spoke with warmth, for he felt some risings of the natural man at the indifference with which a promise of so much consequence to him had been disregarded.

“How much do you owe?” inquired the vestryman.

“About two hundred dollars.”

“Indeed! so much?”

A bitter remark arose to the minister’s lips, but he forced himself to keep silence. He was a man, with all the natural feelings of a man.

“Well, I suppose we must make it for you somehow,” said Mr. Elder, the tone in which he spoke showing that the subject worried him. “Are any of the demands on you pressing?” he inquired, after a pause.

“All of them are pressing,” replied the minister. “I am dunned every day.”

“Indeed! That’s bad!” returned Mr. Elder, speaking with more real kindness and sympathy than at first. “I am sorry you have been permitted to get into so unpleasant a situation.”

“It certainly is very unpleasant, and entirely destroys my peace. Were I not thus unhappily situated, I should not have said a word to you on the subject of my salary.”

“Don’t let it distress you so much, Mr. Malcolm. I will see that the amount you need is at once made up.”

The minister returned home, disturbed, mortified, and humiliated.

“If this is the way they pay their minister,” he remarked to his wife, after relating to her what had happened, “it is the last year that I shall enjoy the benefits of their peculiar system. But little good will my preaching or that of any one else do them, while they disregard the first and plainest principles of honesty. There is no lack of ability to give a minister the support he needs; and the withholding of that support, or the supplying of it by constraint, shows a moral obtuseness that argues but poorly for their love of any thing but themselves. I believe that the labourer is worthy of his hire; that when men build a church and call a minister for their own spiritual good, they are bound to supply his natural wants; and that, if they fail to do so, it is a sign to the minister that he ought to leave them. Some may call this a selfish doctrine, and unworthy of a minister of God; but I believe it to be the true doctrine, and shall act up to it. It does men no good to let them quietly go on, year after year, starving their ministers, while they have abundant means to make them comfortable. If they prize their wealth higher than they do spiritual riches, it is but casting pearls before swine to scatter even the most brilliant gems of wisdom before them; and in this unprofitable task I am the last man to engage. I gave up all hope of worldly good, in order to preach the everlasting gospel for the salvation of men. In order to do this successfully, my mind must be kept free from the depressing cares of life, and there must be something reciprocal in those to whom I minister in heavenly things. If this be not the case, all my labour will be in vain.”

On the next day, as the minister was walking down the street, he met Mr. Larkin. The allusion to this gentleman’s personal matters, which the vestryman had made, still caused him to feel sore; it touched him in a vulnerable part. He had been talking quite freely, since then, to every member of the church he happened to meet about the coolness with which Mr. Malcolm, after running himself in debt, a thing he had no business to do, called upon the church to raise him more money. He for one he said, was not going to stand any such nonsense, and he hoped every member of the church would as firmly set his face against all such impositions. If they were to pay off this debt, they would have another twice as large to settle in a few months. It was the principle of the thing he went against; not that he cared about a few dollars. As soon as Mr. Larkin saw the minister a little ahead of him, he determined to give him a piece of his mind. So when they paused, face to face, and while their hands were locked in a friendly clasp, he said–

“Look here, friend Malcolm, I have got something against you; and as I am an independent plain-spoken man, you must not be offended with me for telling you my mind freely.”

“The truth never offends me, Mr. Larkin,” said the minister, with a smile. “I am not faultless, though willing to correct my faults when I see them.”

“Very well.” Mr. Larkin spoke in a resolute voice, and seemed to feel pleasure rather than pain in what he was doing. “In the first place, then, I am sorry to find that you possess one very bad fault, common to most ministers, and that is, a disposition to live beyond your means, and then come down upon the parish to pay your debts.”

The blood came rushing to the face of the minister, which his monitor took to be the plainest kind of evidence that he had hit the nail fully upon the head. He went on more confidently.

“Now, this, Mr. Malcolm, I consider to be very wrong–very wrong, indeed!–and especially so in a young minister in his first year, and in his first parish. If such things are in the green tree, what are we to expect in the dry? You accepted our call, and were plainly informed that the salary would be four hundred dollars and rent free. Upon this our former minister had lived quite comfortably. If you thought the salary too little, you should not have accepted the call–accepting it, you should have lived upon it, if you had lived on bread and water.”

Mr. Larkin paused. The minister stood with his eyes cast upon the pavement, but made no answer. Mr. Larkin resumed–

“It is such things as this that bring scandal upon the church, and drive right thinking men out of it. It isn’t that I value a few dollars more than I do the wind; but I like to see principle; and hate all imposition. You are a young man, Mr. Malcolm, and I speak thus plainly to you for your good. I hope you will not feel offended.”

Mr. Larkin paused, thinking, perhaps, that he had said enough. The minister’s eyes were still upon the pavement, from which he lifted them as soon as his monitor was done speaking. The flush had left his cheeks, that were now pale.

“I thank you for your honesty in speaking so plainly, and will try to profit by what you have told me,” said he, calmly. “The best of us are liable to err.”

There was something in the words, voice, and manner of the minister that Mr. Larkin did not clearly comprehend. He had spoken harshly, and, he now felt, with some rudeness; but, while there was nothing in the air with which his reproof was received that evidenced the conviction of error there was no resentment. A moment before, he felt like a superior severely reprimanding an inferior; but now he stood in the presence of one whose calmness and dignity oppressed him. He was about commencing a confused apology for his apparent harshness, when Mr. Malcolm bowed and passed on.

Larkin did not feel very comfortable as he walked away. He soon more than half repented of what he had done, and before night, by way of atonement for his error, called upon Mr. Elder, and handed him a check for twenty-five dollars, to help pay off the minister’s debt. So much for the principle concerned.

On the next Sabbath, to his great surprise, when the text was announced, it was in the following unexpected words–

“Owe no man any thing.”

The sermon was didactive and narrative. In the didactic portion, the minister was exceedingly close in laying down the principles of honesty in all transactions between man and man, and showed that for a man to live beyond his known income, when that was sufficient to supply his actual wants, was dishonest. Then he gave sundry examples of very common but dishonest practices in those who withhold from others what is justly their due, and concluded this portion of his discourse, by plainly stating the glaring dishonesty of which too many congregations were guilty, in owing their ministers the difference between their regular and fixed income, and what they actually needed for their comfortable support and freedom from care. This, he said, was but a poor commentary upon their love for the church, and showed too plainly its sordid and selfish quality.

This was felt by many to be quite too pointed and out of place; and for a young man, like him, very bold and immodest. One member took out his box and struck the lid a smart, emphatic rap before taking a pinch of snuff,–another coughed–and three or four of the older ones gave several loud “a-h-h-hems!” Throughout the church there was an uneasy movement. But soon all was still again, for the minister had commenced the narrative of something which he said had occurred in a parish at no great distance. For a narrative, introduced in a sermon, all ears are open.

Very deliberately and very minutely did Mr. Malcolm give the leading facts which we have already placed before the reader, even down to the sound lecture he had received from Mr. Larkin, and then closed his sermon, after a few words of application, with a firm repetition of his text:

“My brethren, ‘Owe no man any thing.'”

Of course, there was a buzzing in the hive after this. One made inquiries of another, and it was soon pretty well understood throughout, that seven or eight hundred dollars had actually been promised to the minister instead of the four, which all were very content that he should receive, thinking little and caring little whether he lived well or ill upon it. But who was it that had rated him so soundly? That was the next question. But nobody knew. Some of those most familiar with Mr. Malcolm boldly asked him the question, but he declined giving an answer. Poor Mr. Larkin trembled but the minister kept his own counsel.

On the Tuesday following this pointed discourse, Mr. Malcolm received his last quarter’s salary four weeks in advance, and three hundred dollars besides. Two hundred of this had been loaned by Mr. Larkin until such time as it could be collected.

At the next meeting of the vestry, the resignation of Mr. Malcolm as minister of the parish was received. Before acting upon it, a church-meeting was called, at which it was unanimously voted to double the ministers salary. That is, make it eight hundred. Much was said in his favour as a man of fine talents and sincere piety. In fact, the congregation generally had become much attached to him, and could not bear to think of his leaving them. Money was no consideration now.

The vote of the meeting was conveyed to Mr. Malcolm. He expressed his thanks for the liberal offer, but again declined remaining. Another church-meeting was called, and a thousand dollars unhesitatingly named as the minister’s salary, if he would stay. Many doubled their subscriptions, and said that, if necessary, they would quadruple them.

When Mr. Malcolm determined to leave C–, he had no parish in view; but he did not think it would be useful for him to remain. Nor had he any in view when he declined accepting the offer of eight hundred dollars. But it was different when the offer of a thousand dollars came, for then he held in his hand a call to a neighbouring parish, where the salary was the same.

The committee to wait upon him, and urge him to accept the still better terms offered, was composed of Messrs. Elder, Larkin, and three others among the oldest and most influential members. He answered their renewed application by handing them the letter he had just received. It was read aloud.

“If money is any object, Mr. Malcolm,” said Larkin, promptly, “you need not leave us. Twelve hundred can be as easily made up to you as a thousand.”

The minister was slightly disturbed at this. He replied in a low, unsteady voice:

“Money has no influence with me in this matter. All I ask is a comfortable maintenance for my family. This, your first offer of eight hundred dollars would have given; but I declined it, with no other place in view, because I thought it best for both you and me that we should separate. I have tried only to look to the good of the church in my decisions, and I will still endeavour to keep that end before my eyes.”

“Have you accepted the call?” asked Mr. Elder.

“No, I have but just received it!”

“Have you positively determined that you will not remain with us?”

“I should not like to say positively.”

“Very well. Now, let me say that the desire to have you remain is general, and that the few who have the management of the church affairs, and not the many who make up the congregation, are to blame for previously existing wrongs and errors. From the many comes a strong desire to have you stay. They say that your ministrations have been of great spiritual benefit to them, and that if you go away, they will suffer loss. Under these circumstances, Mr. Malcolm, are you willing to break your present connection?”

“Give me a few hours to reflect,” replied the minister, a good deal affected by this unlooked-for appeal. “I wish to do right; and in doing it, am ready to cut off the right hand and pluck out the right eye. As Heaven is my witness, I set before me no earthly reward. If I do consent to remain, I will not receive more than your first offer of eight hundred dollars, for on that I can live comfortably.”

When the committee again waited on Mr. Malcolm, to receive his answer, it was in the affirmative; but he was decided in his resolution not to receive more than eight hundred dollars. But the congregation was just as much decided on the other side, and although only two hundred dollars a quarter were paid to their minister by the treasurer, more than fifty dollars flowed in to him during the same period in presents of one useful thing and another, from friends known and unknown.

The parish of C–had quite reformed its mode of paying the minister.


“HE’S too independent for me,” said Matthew Page. “Too independent by half. Had I been consulted he would have done things very differently. But as it is, he will drive his head against the wall before he knows where he is.”

“Why don’t you advise him to act differently?”

“Advise him, indeed! Oh, no–let him go on in his own way, as he’s so fond of it. Young men now-a-days think they know every thing. The experience of men like me goes for nothing with them. Advise him! He may go to the dogs; but he’ll get no advice from me unasked.”

“You really think he will ruin himself if he goes on in the way he is now going?”

“I know it. Simple addition will determine that, in five minutes. In the first place, instead of consulting me, or some one who knows all about it, he goes and buys that mill for just double what it is worth, and on the mere representation of a stranger, who had been himself deceived, and had an interest in misleading him, in order to get a bad bargain off of his hands. But that is just like your young chaps, now-a-days. They know every thing, and go ahead without talking to anybody. I could have told him, had he consulted me, that, instead of making money by the concern, he would sink all he had in less than two years.”

“He is sanguine as to the result.”

“I know. He told me, yesterday, that he expected not only to clear his land for nothing, but to make two or three thousand dollars a year out of the lumber for the next ten years. Preposterous!”

“Why didn’t you disabuse him of his error, Mr. Page? It was such a good opportunity.”

“Let him ask for my advice, if he wants it. It’s a commodity I never throw away.”

“You might save him from the loss of his little patrimony.”

“He deserves to lose it for being such a fool. Buy a steam saw-mill two miles from his land, and expect to make money by clearing it? Ridiculous!”

“Your age and experience will give your advice weight with him, I am sure, Mr. Page. I really think you ought to give a word or two of warning, at least, and thus make an effort to prevent his running through with what little he has. A capital to start with in the world is not so easily obtained, and it is a pity to see Jordan waste his as he is doing.”

“No, sir,” replied Page. “I shall have nothing to say to him. If he wants my opinion, and asks for it, he shall have it in welcome; not without.”

The individuals about whom these persons were conversing was a young man named Jordan, who, at majority, came into the possession of fifty acres of land and about six thousand dollars. The land was still in forest and lay about two miles from a flourishing town in the West, which stood on the bank of a small river that emptied into the Ohio some fifty miles below.

As soon as Jordan became the possessor of the property, he began to turn his thoughts toward its improvement, in order to increase its value. The land did not lie contiguous to his native town, but near to S–, where he was a stranger. To S–he went, and staying at one of the hotels, met with a very pleasant old gentleman who had just built a steam saw-mill on the banks of the river, and was getting in the engine preparatory to putting it in operation. This man’s name was Barnaby. He had conceived the idea that a steam saw-mill at that point would be a fortune to any one, and had proceeded to the erection of one forthwith. Logs were to be cut some miles up the river and floated down to the mill, and, after being there manufactured into lumber, to be rafted to a market somewhere between that and New Orleans. Mr. Barnaby had put the whole thing down upon paper, and saw at a glance that it was an operation in which any man’s fortune was certain. But, before his mill was completed, he had good reason to doubt the success of his new scheme. He had become acquainted with Matthew Page, a shrewd old resident of S–, who satisfied him, after two or three interviews, that, instead of making a fortune, he would stand a fair chance of losing his whole investment.

Barnaby was about as well satisfied as he wished to be on this head, when young Jordan arrived in S–. His business there was soon known, and Barnaby saw a chance of getting out of his unpromising speculation. To Jordan he became at once very attentive and polite; and gradually drew from him a full statement of the business that brought him to S–. It did not take a very long time for Barnaby to satisfy him, that, by purchasing his mill and sawing up the heavy timber with which his land was covered, he would make a great deal of money, and double the price of his land at the same time. Figures showed the whole result as plain as daylight, and Jordan saw it written out before him as distinctly as he ever saw in his multiplication table that two and two are four. The fairness of Barnaby he did not think of doubting for an instant. His age, address, intelligence, and asseveration of strict honour in every transaction in life, were enough to win his entire confidence.

Five thousand dollars was the price of the mill. The terms upon which it was offered to Jordan were, three thousand dollars in cash, a thousand in six months, and the balance in twelve months.

Shortly after Jordan arrived in the village, he became acquainted with Mr. Page into whose family, a very pleasant one, he had been introduced by a friend. For the old gentleman he felt a good deal of respect; and although it did not occur to him to consult him in regard to his business, thinking that he understood what he was about very well, yet, if Mr. Page had volunteered a suggestion, he would have listened to it and made it the subject of reflection. In fact, a single seriously expressed doubt as to the safety of the investment he was about making, coming from a man like Mr. Page, would have effectually prevented its being made, for Jordan would not have rested until he understood the very nature and groundwork of the objection. He would then have seen a new statement of figures, heard a new relation of facts and probabilities, and learned that Barnaby was selling at the suggestion of Mr. Page, after being fully convinced of the folly of proceeding another step.

But no warning came. The self-esteem of old Matthew Page, who felt himself to be something of an oracle in S–, was touched, because the young man had not consulted him; and now he might go to the dogs, for all he cared.

The preliminaries of sale were soon arranged. Jordan was as eager to enter upon his money-making as Barnaby was to get rid of his money-losing scheme. Three thousand dollars cash were paid, and notes given for the balance. An overseer, or manager of the whole business to be entered upon, was engaged at five hundred dollars a year; some twenty hands to cut timber, haul it to the mill, and saw it up when there, were hired; and twenty yokes of oxen bought for the purpose of hauling the logs from the woods, a distance of two miles. The price of a dollar a log, which Barnaby expected to pay for timber floated down the river, had been considered so dear a rate as to preclude all hope of profit in the business. The great advantages which Jordan felt that he possessed was in himself owning the timber, which had only to be cut and taken to the mill. He had, strangely enough, forgotten to make a calculation of what each log would cost him to cut and haul two miles. There were the wood-choppers at a dollar a day, the teamsters at seventy-five cents a day, and four pairs of oxen to each log to feed. Eight logs a day he was told that each team would haul, and he believed it. But two or three logs were the utmost that could be accomplished, for in the whole distance there was not a quarter of a mile of good solid road.

Six months in time, and a thousand dollars in money, over and above wages to his men, were spent in getting the mill into running order. Jordan had bought under the representation that it was all ready for starting. After he had got in possession, he learned that Barnaby had tried, but in vain, to get the mill to work.

In the mean time, the young man was extending his circle of acquaintance among the families of the place in most of which he was well received and well liked. Old Matthew Page had an only daughter, a beautiful young girl, who was the pride of the village. The first time she and Jordan met, they took a fancy to each other. But as Jordan was rather a modest young man, he did not make very bold advances toward the maiden, although he felt as if he should like to do so, were there any hope of his advances being met in a right spirit.

At the end of a year, all the young man’s money was gone, and his last note to Barnaby was due. There was a small pile of lumber by his mill–a couple of hundred dollars worth, perhaps–for which he had found no sale, as the place was fully supplied, and had been for years, by a small mill that was worked by the owner with great economy. The sending of his lumber down the river was rather a serious operation for him, and required a good deal more lumber than he had yet been able to procure from his mill, which had never yet run for twenty-four hours without something getting wrong. These two or three hundred dollars’ worth of lumber had cost him about fifteen hundred dollars in wages, &c. Still he was sanguine, and saw his way clear through the whole of it, if it were not for the fact that his capital were exhausted.

Matthew Page was looking on very coolly, and saying to himself, “If he had consulted me,” but not offering the young man a word of voluntary counsel.

To continue his operations and bring out the ultimate prosperous result, Jordan threw one-half of his land into market and forced the sale at five dollars an acre. The proceeds of this sale did not last him over six months. Then he got a raft afloat, containing about a thousand dollars’ worth of lumber, and sent it off under charge of his overseer, who sold it at Cincinnati, and absconded with the money.

In the mean time, Barnaby was pressing for the payment of the last note, which had been protested, and after threatening to sue, time after time, finally put his claim into the hands of an attorney, who had a writ served upon Jordan.

By this time, old Mr. Page began to think it best, even though not consulted, to volunteer a little advice to the young man. The reason of this may be inferred. Jordan was beginning to be rather particular in attention to Edith, his daughter; and apart from the fact that he had wasted his money in an unprofitable scheme, and had not been prudent enough to consult him, old Matthew Page had no particular objection to him as a son-in-law. His family stood high in the State, and his father, previous to his death, had been for many years in the State senate. The idea that Jordan would take a fancy to his daughter had not once crossed the mind of Mr. Page, or he would not have stood so firmly upon his dignity in the matter of being consulted.

Rather doubting as to the reception he should meet from the young man, he called upon him, one day, when the following conversation took place:

“I’m afraid, Mr. Jordan,” said Page, after some commonplace chitchat, “that your saw-mill business is not going to turn out as well as you expected.”

“It has not, so far, certainly,” replied Jordan, frankly. “But this is owing to the fact of my having been deceived in the mill, and in the integrity of my manager; not to the nature of the business itself. I am still sanguine of success.”

“Will you allow me to make a suggestion or two? I think I can show you that you are in error in regard to the business itself.”

“Most gladly will I receive any suggestion,” returned Jordan. “Though I am not apt to seek advice–a fault of character, perhaps–I am ever ready to listen to it and weigh it dispassionately, when given. A doubt as to the result of the business, if properly carried out, has never yet crossed my mind.”

“I have always doubted it from the first. Indeed, I knew that you could not succeed.”

“Then, my dear sir, why did you not tell me so?” said Jordan, earnestly.

“If you had consulted me, I would”–

“I never dreamed of consulting any one about it. I had confidence in Mr. Barnaby’s statements; but more in my own judgment, based upon the data he furnished me.”

“But I have none in either Barnaby or his data.”

“I have none in him, for he has shamefully deceived me; but his data are fixed facts, and therefore cannot lie.”

“There you err again. Barnaby knew that the data he gave you was incorrect. I had, myself, demonstrated this to him before he went far enough to involve himself seriously. Something led him to doubt the success of his project, and he came and consulted me on the subject. I satisfied him in ten minutes that it wouldn’t do, and he at once abandoned it. Unfortunately, you arrived just at this time, and were made to bear the loss of his mistake.”

“You are certainly not serious in what you say, Mr. Page!”

“I never was more serious in my life,” returned the old gentleman.

“And you permitted me to be made the victim, upon your own acknowledgment, of a shameful swindle, and did not expend even a breath to save me!”

“I am not used to be spoken to in that way, young man,” replied Mr. Page, coldly, and with a slightly offended air. “Nor am I in the habit of forcing my advice upon everybody.”

“If you saw a man going blindfold towards the brink of a precipice, wouldn’t you force your advice upon him?”

“Perhaps I might. But as you were not going blindfold over a precipice, I did not see that it was my business to interfere.”

A cutting reply was on the lips of Jordan, but a thought of Edith cooled him off suddenly, and he in a milder and more respectful tone of voice, “I should be glad, Mr. Page, if you would demonstrate the error under which I have been labouring in regard to this business. If there is an error, I wish to see it; and can see it as quickly as any one, if it really exists, and the proper means of seeing it are furnished.”

The change in the young man’s manner softened Mr. Page, and he sat down, pencil in hand, and by the aid of the answers which the actual experience of Jordan enabled him to give, showed him, in ten minutes, that the more land he cleared and the more logs he sawed up, the poorer he would become.

“And you knew all this before?” said Jordan.

“Certainly I did. In fact, I built the saw-mill owned by Tompkins, and after sinking a couple of thousand dollars, was glad to get it off of my hands at any price. Tompkins makes a living with it, and nothing more. But then he is his own engineer, manager, clerk, and almost every thing else, and lives with the closest economy in his family–much closer than you or I would like to live.”

“And you let me go on blindly and ruin myself, when a word from you might have saved me!”

There was something indignant in the young man’s manner.

“You didn’t consult me on the subject. It is not my place to look after everybody’s business; I have enough to do to take care of my own concerns.”

Both were getting excited. Jordan retorted still more severely, and then they parted in anger, each feeling that he had just cause to be offended.

On the next day, Jordan, who was too well satisfied that Mr. Page was right, stopped his mill, discharged his hands, and sold his oxen. On looking over his accounts, he found that he was over a thousand dollars in debt: In order to pay this, he sold the balance of his land, and then advertised his saw-mill for sale in all the county papers, and in the State Gazette.

Meantime, the suit which had been instituted on the note given to Barnaby came up for trial, and Jordan made an effort to defend it on the plea that value had not been received. His fifty acres of land were gone, and all that remained of his six thousand dollars, were a half-weatherboarded, frame building, called a saw-mill, in which were a secondhand steam-engine, some rough gearing, and a few saws. This stood in the centre of a small piece of ground–perhaps the fourth of an acre–upon which there was the moderate annual rent of one hundred dollars! More than the whole building, leaving out the engine, would sell for.

After waiting for two months, and not receiving an offer for the mill, he sold the engine for a hundred and fifty dollars, and abandoned the old frame building in which it had stood, to the owner of the land for rent, on condition of his cancelling the lease, that had still three years and a half to run.

His defence of the suit availed nothing. Judgment was obtained upon the note, an execution issued, and, as there was no longer any property in the young man’s possession, his person was seized and thrown into the county prison.

From the time old Mr. Page considered himself insulted by Jordan, all intercourse between them had ceased. The latter had not considered himself free to visit any longer at his house, and therefore no meeting between him and Edith had taken place for three months.

The cause of so sudden a cessation of her lover’s visits, all unknown to Edith, was a great affliction to the maiden. Her father noticed that her countenance wore a troubled aspect, and that she scarcely tasted food when at the table. This did not, in any way, lessen the number of his self-reproaches for having suffered a young man to ruin himself, when a word from him might have saved him.

Edith was paying a visit to a friend one day, the daughter of a lawyer. While conversing, the friend said–

“Poor Jordan? Have you heard of his misfortunes?”

“No! What are they?” And Edith turned pale. The friend was not aware of her interest in him.

“He was terribly cheated in some saw-mill property he bought,” she made answer, “and has since lost every dollar he had. Yesterday he was sent to prison for debt which he is unable to pay.”

Edith heard no more, but, starting up, rushed from the house, and flew, rather than walked, home. Her father was sitting in his private office when she entered with pale face and quivering lips. Uttering an exclamation of surprise and alarm, he rose to his feet. Edith fell against him, sobbing as she did so, while the tears found vent, and poured over her cheeks–

“Oh, father! He is in prison!”

“Who? Jordan?”

“Yes,” was the maiden’s lowly-murmured reply.

“Good heavens! Is it possible?”

With this exclamation, Mr. Page pushed his daughter from him, and leaving the house instantly, took his way to the office of the attorney who had conducted the suit in favour of Barnaby.

“I will go bail for this young man whom you have thrown into prison,” said he as soon as he met the lawyer.

“Very well, Mr. Page. We will take you. But you will have to pay the amount–he has nothing.”

“I said I would go his bail,” returned the old man, impatiently.

In less than twenty minutes, Mr. Page entered the apartment where the young man was confined. Jordan looked at him angrily. He had just been thinking of the cruel neglect to warn him of his errors, of which Mr. Page had been guilty, and of the consequences, so disastrous and so humbling to himself.

“You are at liberty,” said the old gentleman, as he approached him and held out his hand.

Jordan stood like one half-stupified, for some moments.

“I have gone your security, my young friend,” Mr. Page added kindly. “You are at liberty.”

“_You_ my security!” returned Jordan, taking the offered hand, but not grasping it with a hearty pressure. He felt as if he couldn’t do that. “I am sorry you have done so,” said he, after a slight pause–“I am not worth a dollar, and you will have my debt to pay.”

“It’s no time to talk about that now, Mr. Jordan. I have gone your security, because I thought it right to do so. Come home with me, and we will soon arrange all the rest.”

Jordan felt passive. A child could have led him anywhere. He did not refuse to go with Mr. Page.

Edith was sitting in the room where her father left her, when the opening of the door caused her to start. There was an exclamation of delight and surprise; a movement forward, and then deep blushes threw a crimson veil over the maiden’s face, as she sank back in her chair and covered her face with her hands. But the tears could not be hidden; they came trickling through her fingers.

Enough, further to say, that within two months there was a wedding at the house of Mr. Page, and Edith was the bride.

It has been noticed since, that the old gentleman does not stand so much on his dignity when there is a chance of doing good by volunteering a word of advice in season. “Had I been consulted,” is a form of speech which he is now rarely, if ever known to use.


MR. MINTURN was a rising man; that is, he was gaining money and reputation in his profession. That he felt himself rising, was clearly apparent to all who observed him attentively. His good lady, Mrs. Minturn, was also conscious of the upward movement, and experienced a consequent sense of elevation. From the height they had gained in a few years, it was but natural for them to cast their eyes below, and to note how far beneath them were certain individuals with whom they had once been on a level. The observation of this fact as naturally created an emotion of contempt for these individuals as inferiors.

Among those ranging below the Minturns,–in their estimation,–was a family named Allender. Mr. Allender was, or had been, a merchant, and was highly esteemed by all who knew him, as a gentleman and a man of fine intelligence. He and Minturn started together in life; the one as a lawyer, and the other as a merchant. Possessing some capital, Mr. Allender was able, in commencing business, to assume a comfortable style of living in his family, while Minturn, who had nothing but his profession to depend upon, and that at the time of his marriage a very small dependence, was compelled to adopt, in his domestic relations, a very humble scale.

Having been well acquainted, for some years, with Mr. Minturn, Mr. Allender, soon after the marriage of the former, called upon him with his wife. The visit was promptly returned, and from that time the two families kept up intimate relations. The Minturns lived in a small house, in a retired street, for which they paid the annual rent of one hundred and seventy-five dollars. Their house was furnished with exceeding plainness, and their only domestic was a stout girl of fourteen. The Allenders, on the other hand, lived in a fashionable neighbourhood, so called. For their house, which was handsomely furnished, they paid a rent of four hundred dollars; and lived in what the Minturns thought to be great elegance. And so it was, in contrast with their style of living. Mrs. Minturn felt quite proud of having such acquaintances, and of being able to visit familiarly in such good society as was to be found at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Allender. You could not be in her company for ten minutes, at any time, without hearing some allusion to the Allenders. What they said, was repeated as oracular; and to those who had never been in their house, Mrs. Minturn described the elegance of every thing pertaining thereto, in the most graphic manner.

Well, as time went on, Mr. Minturn, by strict devotion to business, gradually advanced himself in his profession. At the end of four or five years, he was able to move into a larger house and to get better furniture. Still, every thing was yet on an inferior scale to that enjoyed by Mr. Allender, to whose family his own was indebted for an introduction into society, and for an acquaintance with many who were esteemed as valued friends.

Ten years elapsed, and the Minturns were on a level with the Allenders, as far as external things were concerned. The lawyer’s business had steadily increased, but the merchant had not been very successful in trade, and was not esteemed, in the community, a rising man. No change in his style of living had taken place since he first became a housekeeper; and his furniture began, in consequence, to look a little dingy and old-fashioned. This was particularly observed by Mrs. Minturn, who had, at every upward movement,–and three of these movements had already taken place,–furnished her house from top to bottom.

Five years more reversed the relations between to families. The Minturns still went up, and the Allenders commenced going down. One day, about this time, Mr. Minturn came home from his office, and said to his wife

“I’ve got bad news to tell you about our friends the Allenders.”

“What is that?” inquired Mrs. Minturn, evincing a good deal of interest, though not exactly of the right kind.

“He’s stopped payment.”


“He failed to meet his notes in bank yesterday, and to-day, I understand, he has called his creditors together.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, really,” said Mrs. Minturn. “What is the cause?”

“I believe his affairs have been getting involved for the last four or five years. He does not seem to possess much business energy.”

“I never thought there was a great deal of life about him.”

“He’s rather a slow man. It requires more activity and energy of character than he possesses to do business in these times. Men are getting too wide awake. I’m sorry for Allender. He’s a good-hearted man–too good-hearted, in fact, for his own interest. But, it’s nothing more than I expected.”

“And I am sorry for poor Mrs. Allender,” said his wife. “What a change it will be for her! Ah, me! Will they lose every thing?”

“I have no means of knowing at present. But I hope not.”

“Still, they will have to come down a great way.”

“No doubt of it.”

A week passed, after news of Mr. Allender’s business disaster had reached the ears of Mrs. Minturn, and in that time she had not called to see her friend in distress. Each of these ladies had a daughter about the same age; and that age was fifteen.

“Where are you going, Emeline?” asked Mrs. Minturn of her daughter, who came down, with her bonnet on, one afternoon about this time.

“I’m going to run around and see Clara Allender,” was replied.

“I’d rather you wouldn’t go there, just now,” said the mother.

“Why not?” asked Emeline.

“I have my reasons for it,” returned Mrs. Minturn.

Emeline looked disappointed. She was much attached to Clara, who was a sweet-tempered girl, and felt a week’s absence from her as a real privation. Observing the disappointment of Emeline, Mrs. Minturn said, a little impatiently:

“I think you might live without seeing Clara every day. For some time past, you have been little more than her shadow. I don’t like these girlish intimacies; they never come to any good.”

Tears were in Emeline’s eyes as she turned from her mother and went back to her room.

Mr. Allender, at the age of forty, found himself unable, through the exhaustion of his means, to continue in business. He would have resigned every thing into the hands of his creditors before suffering a protest, had he not failed to receive an expected payment on the day of his forced suspension. When he did call together the men to whom he was indebted, he rendered them up all his effects, and in all possible ways aided in the settlement of every thing. The result was better than he had anticipated. No one lost a dollar; but he was left penniless. Just then, the president of one of the Marine Insurance Companies resigned his office, and Mr. Allender was unanimously chosen to fill his place. The salary was two thousand dollars. This was sufficient to meet the expense at which his family had been living. So there was no change in their domestic economy. This being the case, the Minturns had no good reason for cutting the acquaintance of their old friends, much as they now felt disposed to do so. The family visiting, however, was far from being as frequent and as familiar as in former times.

Still, on the part of the Minturns the movement was upward, while the Allender’s retained their dead level. The lawyer, who was a man of talents and perseverance, and withal not over scrupulous on points of abstract morality, gained both money and reputation in his profession, and was at length known as one of the most acute and successful men at the bar. At last, he was brought forward by one of the political parties as a candidate for a seat in Congress, and elected.

If Mrs. Minturn’s ideas of her own elevation and importance in the social world had been large, they were now increased threefold. A winter’s residence at the seat of government,–during which time she mingled freely with the little great people who revolve around certain fixed stars that shine with varied light in the political metropolis,–raised still higher the standard of self-estimation. Her daughter Emeline, now a beautiful and accomplished young lady, accompanied her mother wherever she went, and attracted a large share of attention. Among those who seemed particularly pleased with Emeline was a young man, a member of Congress from New York, who belonged to a wealthy and distinguished family, and who was himself possessed of brilliant talent, that made him conspicuous on the floor of Congress, even among men of long-acknowledged abilities. His name was Erskine.

Soon after meeting with the Hon. Mr. Erskine, Mrs. Minturn felt a strong desire to bring him to the feet of her daughter. He presented just the kind of alliance she wished for Emeline. In imagination she soon began to picture to herself the elevated and brilliant position her child would occupy as the wife of Erskine, and she resolved to leave no means untried for the accomplishment of her wishes. Accordingly, she was particularly attentive to the young man whenever thrown into his company; and sought, by flattering his self-love, to make him feel in the best possible humour with himself while in her society. In this way she succeeded in drawing him frequently to her side, where Emeline was always to be found. A sprightly, well-educated, and finely accomplished girl, Emeline soon interested the young M. C.; and he showed her, as has been said, a good deal of attention during the winter, and Mrs. Minturn flattered herself that her daughter had made a conquest.

When the session of Congress closed, the Minturns returned home in the enjoyment of a much higher opinion of themselves than they had ever before entertained, and quite disposed to be rather more choice than before in regard to their visiting acquaintance. A few days after their reappearance in old circles, a card of invitation to meet some friends at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Allender was received. It extended to themselves and their eldest daughter, Emeline. Mrs. Minturn handed the card to her husband on his return from his office in the evening.

“What is this?” he asked, on taking it. “Ah, indeed!” he added, in rather an equivocal voice, on perceiving its tenor. “Are you going?”

“I rather think not.”

“Just as you say about it,” remarked the acquiescing husband.

“The truth is,” said Mrs. Minturn, “a regard for our position makes it necessary for us to be more select in our acquaintances. I don’t wish Emeline to be on terms of intimacy with Clara Allender any longer. There is too great a difference in their social relations. As people are judged by the company they keep, they should be a little choice in their selection. I like Mrs. Allender very well in her place. She is a good, plain, common-sense sort of a woman, but she occupies a grade below us; and we should remember and act upon this for the sake of our children, if for nothing else.”

“No doubt you are right,” replied Mr. Minturn. “Mr. Allender has neither energy of character nor enterprise; he, therefore, occupies a dead level in society. At that level he cannot expect every one else to remain.”

“Not us, at least.”


“Clara called to see Emeline yesterday. I saw her in the parlour, and asked her to excuse Emeline, as she was a little indisposed. It is true, I had to fib a little. But that was better than a renewal of an acquaintance that ought now to cease. She seemed a little hurt, but I can’t help it.”

“Of course not. I am sorry, for their sakes, that we must give up the acquaintance. No loss can come to us, as we have more friends, now, than are just convenient.”

“It would help Clara a good deal,” remarked Mrs. Minturn, “to mingle in our circle. Her mother feels this, and, therefore, does not wish to give us up. I’ve not the least doubt but this party is made on our account. It won’t do, however; they will have to let us go.”

“It will be sufficient to send our regrets,” said Mr. Minturn.

“We’d better not even do that,” replied his wife. “That will indicate a wish to retain the acquaintance, and we have no such desire. Better sever the relation at once and be done with the matter. It is unpleasant at least, and there is no use in prolonging disagreeable sensations.”

“Be it so, then,” remarked Mr. Minturn, rising; and so the thing was decided.

Mrs. Minturn had lapsed into a small mistake touching the reason that induced Mr. and Mrs. Allender to give an entertainment just at that time. It was not in honour of their return from Washington, and designed to unite the families in a firmer union; no, a thought like this had not entered the mind of the Allenders. The honour was designed for another–even for the Hon. Mr. Erskine, who was the son of one of Mr. Allender’s oldest and most valued friends, whom he had not seen for many years, yet with whom he had enjoyed an uninterrupted correspondence. On his return home, Mr. Erskine remained a few days in the city, as much to see Mr. Allender as for any thing else, his father having particularly desired him to do so. He had never met Mr. Allender before, but was charmed with his gentlemanly character and fine intelligence at the first interview, and still more pleased with him at each subsequent meeting. With Mrs. Allender he was also pleased; but, most of all, with Clara. About the latter there was a charm that won his admiration. She was beautiful; but how different her beauty from that of the brilliant belles who had glittered in the gay circles of fashion he had just left! It was less the beauty of features than that which comes through them, as a transparent medium, from the pure and lovely spirit within. Erskine had been more than pleased with Miss Minturn; but he thought of her as one in a lower sphere while in the presence of Clara, who, like a half-hidden violet, seemed all unconscious of beauty or fragrance.

Yes, it was for Mr. Erskine that the party was given, and in order to introduce him to a highly refined and intellectual circle, of which Mr. Allender and his wife notwithstanding external reverses, were still the centre. Not from any particular pleasure that was expected to be derived from the company of the Minturns, were they invited; for, in going up, they had changed so for the worse, that their society had become irksome, if not offensive. But, for the sake of old friendship, they were included. But they did not come; and no one missed them.

On the next day, Mr. Erskine called upon Mrs. Minturn and her daughter, as he intended leaving the city in the afternoon.

“We looked for you all last evening,” said Mrs. Minturn. “Why did you not call around?”

“I was at a select party last night,” replied the young man.

“Were you, indeed?”

“Yes. At Mr. Allender’s. Do you know the family?”

“At Allender’s!” The tone of surprise, not altogether unmingled with contempt, with which this was uttered by Mrs. Minturn, put Erskine a little on his guard.

“Do you know them?” he asked, with some gravity of manner.

“Not very intimately. We had some acquaintance in former years, but we have broken it off. They sent us cards of invitation, but we did not notice them.”

“What is their standing?”

“Not high. I believe none of our first people visit them.”


“Who was there?” asked Emeline.

The tone in which this was spoken caused Mr. Erskine to turn and look somewhat closely into the young lady’s face, to mark its expression. She had never appeared less lovely in his eyes.

“Not a great many,” he replied.

“I suppose not,” said Mrs. Minturn.

“It was a select party,” remarked the young man.

“And select enough, no doubt, you found it.”

“You speak truly. I have never been in one more so,” replied Erskine.

“You have not answered my question as to who were there,” said Emeline.

“Young ladies, do you mean?”

“Yes, young ladies.”

“Do you know Miss B–?”

“I have no particular acquaintance with her. But she was not there!”

“Oh, yes, she was. And so was her father, General B–.”

“You astonish me!” said Mrs. Minturn. “Certainly you are in error.”

“I believe not. I had a good deal of interesting conversation with General B–, who is well acquainted with my father.”

“Who else was there?”

“Senator Y–, and his beautiful niece, who created such a sensation in Washington last winter. She and Miss Allender, who is, it strikes me, a charming girl, seemed delighted with each other, and were side by side most of the evening. They sang together many times with exquisite effect. Then there were Mr. and Mrs. T–, Mr. and Mrs. R–, Miss Julia S–, and Miss G–.”

All these belonged to a circle yet above that in which the Minturns had moved.

“I am astonished,” said Mrs. Minturn, but poorly concealing her mortification. “I had no idea that the Allenders kept such company. How did you happen to be invited?”

“Mr. Allender is one of my father’s oldest and most valued friends. I called at his desire, and found both him and his family far above the ‘common run’ of people. I do not in the least wonder at the class of persons I met at their house. I am sorry that you have been led so far astray in your estimation of their characters. You never could have known them well.”

“Perhaps not,” said Mrs. Minturn, in a subdued voice. “Did you hear us asked for?” she ventured to add. “We were invited, as I mentioned, and would have gone, but didn’t expect to find any there with whom it would be agreeable to associate.”

This remark did not in the least improve the matter in the eyes of Mr. Erskine, who now understood the Minturns rather better than before. A feeling of repugnance took the place of his former friendly sentiments; and in a briefer time than he had intended, he brought his visit to a close, and bade them good morning.

What was now to be done? The Minturns had fallen into an error, which must, if possible, be repaired. The Allenders were of far more consequence than they had believed, and their estimation of them rose correspondingly. A note of regret at not being able to attend the party, in consequence of a previous engagement, was written, and this enclosed in another note, stating that in consequence of the neglect of a servant, it had not been delivered on the day before. Both were despatched within half an hour after Mr. Erskine left the house.

On the day after, Mrs. Minturn and her daughter called at Mrs. Allender’s, and offered verbal regrets at not having been able to attend the party.

“We wanted to come very much, but both Emeline and I were so much indisposed, that the doctor said we mustn’t think of going out,”–forgetting at the moment the tenor of the note she had written only the day before. But scarcely were the words out of her mouth, when a glance of uneasy surprise from Emeline brought a recollection of this fact, and caused the blood to mount to her face.

A sudden change in the manner of Mrs. Allender was conclusive evidence that she, too, was laying side by side the two conflicting statements.

“But even,” added Mrs. Minturn, in a voice that betrayed some disturbance of mind, “if we had not been indisposed, a previously made engagement would have been in the way of a pleasure that we shall always regret having lost. You had a highly select party, I understood.”

“Only a few old and much esteemed friends, that we invited to meet a gentleman who was passing through the city, whose father and Mr. Allender are old acquaintances.”

“The Hon. Mr. Erskine, you mean,” said Mrs. Minturn, whose vanity led her to betray herself still more.

Yes. Have you met him?”

“Oh, yes,” was replied with animation. “We were very intimate at Washington. He showed Emeline very particular attentions.”

“Ah! I was not aware that you knew him.”

“Intimately. He called to see us yesterday, on the eve of his departure for New York.”

“Oh, mother!” exclaimed Emeline, as soon as they had stepped beyond the street-door, on leaving the house of Mrs. Allender, “why did you say any thing at all about Mr. Erskine, and especially after blundering so in the matter of apology? She’ll see through it all, as clear as daylight. And won’t we look beautiful in her eyes? I’m mortified to death!”

“I don’t know what came over me,” returned the mother, with evident chagrin. “To think that I should have been so beside myself!”

So much mortified were both the mother and daughter, on reflection, that they could not venture to call again upon Mrs. Allender and Clara, who did not return the last visit. And the intimacy from that time was broken off.

The next winter came round, and the Minturns repaired again to Washington. Emeline had hoped to receive a letter from Mr. Erskine, whom she half believed to be in love with her; but no such desired communication came. But she would meet him at the Capitol; and to that time of meeting she looked forward with feelings of the liveliest interest. On arriving in Washington, at the opening of the session, she repaired, on the first day, to the Capitol. But much to her disappointment, a certain member from New York was not in his place.

“Where is Mr. Erskine,” she asked of his colleague, whom she met in the evening.

“Has not arrived yet,” was replied. “Will probably be along to-morrow. or next day. He stopped in your city as he came along; and I shrewdly suspect that he had in contemplation a very desperate act.”

“Indeed! What was that?” returned Emeline, endeavouring to appear unconcerned.

“Taking to himself a wife.”

“You surprise me,” said the young lady. “Who is the bride?”

“I don’t know. He said nothing to me on that subject. Others, who appear to be in the secret, aver that his detention is occasioned by the cause I have alleged.”

It required a strong effort on the part of Miss Minturn to keep from betraying the painful shock her feelings had sustained. She changed the subject as quickly as possible.

On the next day, it was whispered about that Mr. Erskine had arrived in company with his newly-made bride.

“Who is she?” asked both Mrs. Minturn and her daughter; but no one to whom they applied happened to know. Those who had seen her pronounced her very beautiful. Two days passed, and then a bridal party was given, to which Mrs. Minturn and Emeline were invited. They had been sitting in the midst of a large company for about ten minutes, their hearts in a flutter of anticipation, when there was a slight movement at the door, and then Mr. Erskine entered with his bride upon his arm. One glance sufficed for Mrs. Minturn and her daughter–it was Clara! While others were pressing forward to greet the lovely bride, they, overcome with disappointment, and oppressed by mortification, retired from the room, and, ordering their carriage, left the house unobserved.

Up to this day, they have never sought to renew the acquaintance.


ONE of the most successful merchants of his day was Mr. Alexander. In trade he had amassed a large fortune, and now, in the sixtieth year of his age, he concluded that it was time to cease getting and begin the work of enjoying. Wealth had always been regarded by him as a means of happiness; but, so fully had his mind been occupied in business, that, until the present time, he had never felt himself at leisure to make a right use of the means in his hands.

So Mr. Alexander retired from business in favour of his son and son-in-law. And now was to come the reward of his long years of labour. Now were to come repose, enjoyment, and the calm delights of which he had so often dreamed. But, it so happened, that the current of thought and affection which had flowed on so long and steadily was little disposed to widen into a placid lake. The retired merchant must yet have some occupation. His had been a life of purposes, and plans for their accomplishment; and he could not change the nature of this life. His heart was still the seat of desire, and his thought obeyed, instinctively, the heart’s affection.

So Mr. Alexander used a portion of his wealth in various ways, in order to satisfy the ever active desire of his heart for something beyond what was in actual possession. But, it so happened, that the moment an end was gained, the moment the bright ideal became a fixed and present fact, its power to delight the mind was gone.

Mr. Alexander had some taste for the arts. Many fine pictures already hung upon his walls. Knowing this, a certain picture-broker threw himself in his way, and, by adroit management and skilful flattery, succeeded in turning the pent-up and struggling current of the old gentleman’s feelings and thoughts in this direction. The broker soon found that he had opened a new and profitable mine. Mr. Alexander had only to see a fine picture, to desire its possession; and to desire was to have. It was not long before his house was a gallery of pictures.

Was he any happier? Did these pictures afford him a pure and perennial source of enjoyment? No; for, in reality, Mr. Alexander’s taste for the arts was not a passion of his mind. He did not love the beautiful in the abstract. The delight he experienced when he looked upon a fine painting, was mainly the desire of possession; and satiety soon followed possession.

One morning, Mr. Alexander repaired alone to his library, where, on the day before, had been placed a new painting, recently imported by his friend the picture-dealer. It was exquisite as a work of art, and the biddings for it had been high. But he succeeded in securing it for the sum of two thousand dollars. Before he was certain of getting this picture, Mr. Alexander would linger before it, and study out its beauties with a delighted appreciation. Nothing in his collection was deemed comparable therewith. Strangely enough, after it was hung upon the walls of his library, he did not stand before it for as long a space as five minutes; and then his thoughts were not upon its beauties. During the evening that followed, the mind of Mr. Alexander was less in repose than usual. After having completed his purchase of the picture, he had overheard two persons, who were considered autocrats in taste, speaking of its defects, which were minutely indicated. They likewise gave it as their opinion that the painting was not worth a thousand dollars. This was throwing cold water on his enthusiasm. It seemed as if a veil had suddenly been drawn from before his eyes. Now, with a clearer vision, he could see faults where, before, every defect was thrown into shadow by an all-obscuring beauty.

On the next morning, as we have said, Mr. Alexander entered his library, to take another look at his purchase. He did not feel very happy. Many thousands of dollars had he spent in order to secure the means of self-gratification; but the end was not yet gained.

A glance at the new picture sufficed, and then Mr. Alexander turned from it with an involuntary sigh. Was it to look at other pictures? No. He crossed his hands behind him, bent his eyes upon the floor, and for the period of half an hour, walked slowly backwards and forwards in his library. There was a pressure on his feelings, he knew not why; a sense of disappointment and dissatisfaction.

No purpose was in the mind of Mr. Alexander when he turned from his library, and, drawing on his overcoat, passed forth to the street. It was a bleak winter morning, and the muffled pedestrians hurried shivering on their way.

“Oh! I wish I had a dollar.”

These words, in the voice of a child, and spoken with impressive earnestness, fell suddenly upon the ears of Mr. Alexander, as he moved along the pavement. Something in the tone reached the old man’s feelings, and he partly turned himself to look at the speaker. She was a little girl, not over eleven years of age, and in company with a lad some year or two older. Both were coarsely clad.

“What would you do with a dollar, sis?” replied the boy.

“I’d buy brother William a pair of nice woollen gloves, and a comforter, and a pair of rubber shoes. That’s what I’d do with it. He has to go away, so early, in the cold, every morning; and he’s ‘most perished, I know, sometimes. Last night his feet were soaking with wet. His shoes are not good; and mother says she hasn’t money to buy him a new pair just now. Oh, I wish I had a dollar!”

Instinctively Mr. Alexander’s hand was in his pocket, and, a moment after, a round, bright silver dollar glittered in that of the girl.

But little farther did Mr. Alexander extend his walk. As if by magic, the hue of his feelings had changed. The pressure on his heart was gone, and its fuller pulses sent the blood bounding and frolicking along every expanding artery. He thought not of pictures nor possessions. All else was obscured by the bright face of the child, as she lifted to his her innocent eyes, brimming with grateful tears.

One dollar spent unselfishly, brought more real pleasure than thousands parted with in the pursuit of merely selfish gratification. And the pleasure did not fade with the hour, nor the day. That one truly benevolent act, impulsive as it had been, touched a sealed spring of enjoyment, and the waters that gushed instantly forth continued to flow unceasingly.

Homeward the old man returned, and again he entered his library. Choice works of art were all around him, purchased as a means of enjoyment.

They had cost thousands,–yet did they not afford him a tithe of the pleasure he had secured by the expenditure of a single dollar. He could turn from them with a feeling of satiety; not so from the image of the happy child whose earnestly expressed wish he had gratified.

And not alone on the pleasure of the child did the thoughts of Mr. Alexander linger. There came before his imagination another picture. He saw a poorly furnished room, in which were a humble, toiling