Home as Found
James Fenimore Cooper
Part 1 out of 9
Home as Found.
Sequel to "Homeward Bound."
By J. Fenimore Cooper.
Complete in one volume.
"Thou art perfect."
Those who have done us the favour to read "Homeward Bound" will at
once perceive that the incidents of this book commence at the point
where those of the work just mentioned ceased. We are fully aware of
the disadvantage of dividing the interest of a tale in this manner;
but in the present instance, the separation has been produced by
circumstances over which the writer had very little control. As any
one who may happen to take up this volume will very soon discover
that there is other matter which it is necessary to know it may be as
well to tell all such persons, in the commencement, therefore, that
their reading will be bootless, unless they have leisure to turn to
the pages of Homeward Bound for their cue.
We remember the despair with which that admirable observer of men,
Mr. Mathews the comedian, confessed the hopelessness of success, in
his endeavours to obtain a sufficiency of prominent and distinctive
features to compose an entertainment founded on American character.
The whole nation struck him as being destitute of salient points, and
as characterized by a respectable mediocrity, that, however useful it
might be in its way, was utterly without poetry, humour, or interest
to the observer. For one who dealt principally with the more
conspicuous absurdities of his fellow-creatures, Mr. Mathews was
certainly right; we also believe him to have been right in the main,
in the general tenor of his opinion; for this country, in its
ordinary aspects, probably presents as barren a field to the writer
of fiction, and to the dramatist, as any other on earth; we are not
certain that we might not say the most barren. We believe that no
attempt to delineate ordinary American life, either on the stage, or
in the pages of a novel, has been rewarded with success. Even those
works in which the desire to illustrate a principle has been the aim,
when the picture has been brought within this homely frame, have had
to contend with disadvantages that have been commonly found
insurmountable. The latter being the intention of this book, the task
has been undertaken with a perfect consciousness of all its
difficulties, and with scarcely a hope of success. It would be indeed
a desperate undertaking, to think of making anything interesting in
the way of a _Roman de Societe_ in this country; still useful glances
may possibly be made even in that direction, and we trust that the
fidelity of one or two of our portraits will be recognized by the
looker-on, although they will very likely be denied by the sitters
There seems to be a pervading principle in things, which gives an
accumulating energy to any active property that may happen to be in
the ascendant, at the time being.--Money produces money; knowledge is
the parent of knowledge; and ignorance fortifies ignorance.--In a
word, like begets like. The governing social evil of America is
provincialism; a misfortune that is perhaps inseparable from her
situation. Without a social capital, with twenty or more communities
divided by distance and political barriers, her people, who are
really more homogenous than any other of the same numbers in the
world perhaps, possess no standard for opinion, manners, social
maxims, or even language.
Every man, as a matter of course, refers to his own particular
experience, and praises or condemns agreeably to notions contracted
in the circle of his own habits, however narrow, provincial, or
erroneous they may happen to be. As a consequence, no useful stage
can exist; for the dramatist who should endeavour to delineate the
faults of society, would find a formidable party arrayed against him,
in a moment, with no party to defend. As another consequence, we see
individuals constantly assailed with a wolf-like ferocity, while
society is everywhere permitted to pass unscathed.
That the American nation is a great nation, in some particulars the
greatest the world ever saw, we hold to be true, and are as ready to
maintain as any one can be; but we are also equally ready to concede,
that it is very far behind most polished nations in various
essentials, and chiefly, that it is lamentably in arrears to its own
avowed principles. Perhaps this truth will be found to be the
predominant thought, throughout the pages of "Home As Found."
Home as Found.
"Good morrow, coz. Good morrow, sweet Hero."
When Mr. Effingham determined to return home, he sent orders to his
agent to prepare his town-house in New-York for his reception,
intending to pass a month or two in it, then to repair to Washington
for a few weeks, at the close of its season, and to visit his country
residence when the spring should fairly open. Accordingly, Eve now
found herself at the head of one of the largest establishments, in
the largest American town, within an hour after she had landed from
the ship. Fortunately for her, however, her father was too just to
consider a wife, or a daughter, a mere upper servant, and he rightly
judged that a liberal portion of his income should be assigned to the
procuring of that higher quality of domestic service, which can alone
relieve the mistress of a household from a burthen so heavy to be
borne. Unlike so many of those around him, who would spend on a
single pretending and comfortless entertainment, in which the
ostentatious folly of one contended with the ostentatious folly of
another a sum that, properly directed, would introduce order and
system into a family for a twelvemonth, by commanding the time and
knowledge of those whose study they had been, and who would be
willing to devote themselves to such objects, and then permit their
wives and daughters to return to the drudgery to which the sex seems
doomed in this country, he first bethought him of the wants of social
life before he aspired to its parade. A man of the world, Mr.
Effingham possessed the requisite knowledge, and a man of justice,
the requisite fairness, to permit those who depended on him so much
for their happiness, to share equitably in the good things that
Providence had so liberally bestowed on himself. In other words, he
made two people comfortable, by paying a generous price for a
housekeeper; his daughter, in the first place, by releasing her from
cares that, necessarily, formed no more a part of her duties than it
would be a part of her duty to sweep the pavement before the door;
and, in the next place, a very respectable woman who was glad to
obtain so good a home on so easy terms. To this simple and just
expedient, Eve was indebted for being at the head of one of the
quietest, most truly elegant, and best, ordered establishments in
America, with no other demands on her time than that which was
necessary to issue a few orders in the morning, and to examine a few
accounts once a week.
One of the first and the most acceptable of the visits that Eve
received, was from her cousin, Grace Van Cortlandt, who was in the
country at the moment of her arrival, but who hurried back to town to
meet her old school-fellow and kinswoman, the instant she heard of
her having landed. Eve Effingham and Grace Van Cortlandt were
sisters' children, and had been born within a month of each other. As
the latter was without father or mother, most of their time had been
passed together, until the former was taken abroad, when a separation
unavoidably ensued. Mr. Effingham ardently desired, and had actually
designed, to take his niece with him to Europe, but her paternal
grandfather, who was still living, objected his years and affection,
and the scheme was reluctantly abandoned. This grandfather was now
dead, and Grace had been left with a very ample fortune, almost
entirely the mistress of her own movements.
The moment of the meeting between these two warm-hearted and
sincerely attached young women, was one of great interest and anxiety
to both. They retained for each other the tenderest love, though the
years that had separated them had given rise to so many new
impressions and habits that they did not prepare themselves for the
interview without apprehension. This interview took place about a
week after Eve was established in Hudson Square, and at an hour
earlier than was usual for the reception of visits. Hearing a
carriage stop before the door, and the bell ring, our heroine stole a
glance from behind a curtain and recognized her cousin as she
"_Qu'avez-vous, ma chere_?" demanded Mademoiselle Viefville,
observing that her _eleve_ trembled and grew pale.
"It is my cousin, Miss Van Cortlandt--she whom I loved as a sister--
we now meet for the first time in so many years!"
"_Bien_--_c'est une tres jolie jeune personne_!" returned the
governess, taking a glance from the spot Eve had just quitted. "_Sur
le rapport de la personne, ma chere, vous devriez etre contente, au
"If you will excuse me, Mademoiselle, I will go down alone--I think I
should prefer to meet Grace without witnesses in the first
"_Tres volontiers. Elle est parente, et c'est bien naturel."_
Eve, on this expressed approbation, met her maid at the door, as she
came to announce that _Mademoiselle de Cortlandt_ was in the library,
and descended slowly to meet her. The library was lighted from above
by means of a small dome, and Grace had unconsciously placed herself
in the very position that a painter would have chosen, had she been
about to sit for her portrait. A strong, full, rich light fell
obliquely on her as Eve entered, displaying her fine person and
beautiful features to the very best advantage, and they were features
and a person that are not seen every day even in a country where
female beauty is so common. She was in a carriage dress, and her
toilette was rather more elaborate than Eve had been accustomed to
see, at that hour, but still Eve thought she had seldom seen a more
lovely young creature. Some such thoughts, also, passed through the
mind of Grace herself, who, though struck, with a woman's readiness
in such matters, with the severe simplicity of Eve's attire, as well
as with its entire elegance, was more struck with the charms of her
countenance and figure. There was, in truth, a strong resemblance
between them, though each was distinguished by an expression suited
to her character, and to the habits of her mind.
"Miss Effingham!" said Grace, advancing a step to meet the lady who
entered, while her voice was scarcely audible and her limbs trembled.
"Miss Van Cortlandt!" said Eve, in the same low, smothered tone.
This formality caused a chill in both, and each unconsciously stopped
and curtsied. Eve had been so much struck with the coldness of the
American manner, during the week she had been at home, and Grace was
so sensitive on the subject of the opinion of one who had seen so
much of Europe, that there was great danger, at that critical moment,
the meeting would terminate unpropitiously.
Thus far, however, all had been rigidly decorous, though the strong
feelings that were glowing in the bosoms of both, had been so
completely suppressed. But the smile, cold and embarrassed as it was,
that each gave as she curtsied, had the sweet character of her
childhood in it, and recalled to both the girlish and affectionate
intercourse of their younger days.
"Grace!" said Eve, eagerly, advancing a step or two impetuously, and
blushing like the dawn.
Each opened her arms, and in a moment they were locked in a long and
fervent embrace. This was the commencement of their former intimacy,
and before night Grace was domesticated in her uncle's house. It is
true that Miss Effingham perceived certain peculiarities about Miss
Van Cortlandt, that she had rather were absent; and Miss Van
Cortlandt would have felt more at her ease, had Miss Effingham a
little less reserve of manner, on certain subjects that the latter
had been taught to think interdicted. Notwithstanding these slight
separating shades in character, however, the natural affection was
warm and sincere; and if Eve, according to Grace's notions, was a
little stately and formal, she was polished and courteous, and if
Grace, according to Eve's notions, was a little too easy and
unreserved, she was feminine and delicate.
We pass over the three or four days that succeeded, during which Eve
had got to understand something of her new position, and we will come
at once to a conversation between the cousins, that will serve to let
the reader more intimately into the opinions, habits and feelings of
both, as well as to open the real subject of our narrative. This
conversation took place in that very library which had witnessed
their first interview, soon after breakfast, and while the young
ladies were still alone.
"I suppose, Eve, you will have to visit the Green's.--They are
Hajjis, and were much in society last winter."
"Hajjis!--You surely do not mean, Grace, that they have been to
"Not at all: only to Paris, my dear; that makes a Hajji in New-York."
"And does it entitle the pilgrim to wear the green turban?" asked
"To wear any thing, Miss Effingham; green, blue, or yellow, and to
cause it to pass for elegance."
"And which is the favourite colour with the family you have
"It ought to be the first, in compliment to the name, but, if truth
must be said, I think they betray an affection for all, with not a
few of the half-tints in addition."
"I am afraid they are too _prononcees_ for us, by this description. I
am no great admirer, Grace, of walking rainbows."
"_Too_ Green, you would have said, had you dared; but you are a Hajji
too, and even the Greens know that a Hajji never puns, unless,
indeed, it might be one from Philadelphia. But you will visit these
"Certainly, if they are in society and render it necessary by their
"They _are_ in society, in virtue of their rights as Hajjis; but, as
they passed three months at Paris, you probably know something of
"They may not have been there at the same time with ourselves,"
returned Eve, quietly, "and Paris is a very large town. Hundreds of
people come and go, that one never hears of. I do not remember those
you have mentioned."
"I wish you may escape them, for, in my untravelled judgment, they
are anything but agreeable, notwithstanding all they have seen, or
pretend to have seen."
"It is very possible to have been all over christendom, and to remain
exceedingly disagreeable; besides one may see a great deal, and yet
see very little of a good quality."
A pause of two or three minutes followed, during which Eve read a
note, and her cousin played with the leaves of a book.
"I wish I knew your real opinion of us, Eve," the last suddenly
exclaimed. "Why not be frank with so near a relative; tell me
honestly, now--are you reconciled to your country?"
"You are the eleventh person who has asked me this question, which I
find very extraordinary, as I have never quarrelled with my country."
"Nay, I do not mean exactly that. I wish to hear how our society has
struck one who has been educated abroad."
"You wish, then, for opinions that can have no great value, since my
experience at home, extends only to a fortnight. But you have many
books on the country, and some written by very clever persons; why
not consult them?"
"Oh! you mean the travellers. None of them are worth a second
thought, and we hold them, one and all, in great contempt."
"Of that I can have no manner of doubt, as one and all, you are
constantly protesting it, in the highways and bye-ways. There is no
more certain sign of contempt, than to be incessantly dwelling on its
Grace had great quickness, as well as her cousin, and though provoked
at Eve's quiet hit, she had the good sense and the good nature to
"Perhaps we do protest and disdain a little too strenuously for good
taste, if not to gain believers; but surely, Eve, you do not support
these travellers in all that they have written of us?"
"Not in half, I can assure you. My father and cousin Jack have
discussed them too often in my presence to leave me in ignorance of
the very many political blunders they have made in particular."
"Political blunders!--I know nothing of them, and had rather thought
them right, in most of what they said about our politics. But,
surely, neither your father nor Mr. John Effingham corroborates what
they say of our society!"
"I cannot answer for either, on that point."
"Speak then for yourself. Do _you_ think them right?"
"You should remember, Grace, that I have not yet seen any society in
"No society, dear!--Why you were at the Henderson's, and the
Morgan's, and the Drewett's; three of the greatest _reunions_ that we
have had in two winters!"'
"I did not know that you meant those unpleasant crowds, by society."
"Unpleasant crowds! Why, child, that _is_ society, is it not?'
"Not what I have been taught to consider such; I rather think it
would be better to call it company."
"And is not this what is called society in Paris?"
"As far from it as possible; it may be an excrescence of society; one
of its forms; but, by no means, society itself. It would be as true
to call cards, which are sometimes introduced in the world, society,
as to call a ball given in two small and crowded rooms, society. They
are merely two of the modes in which idlers endeavour to vary their
"But we have little else than these balls, the morning visits, and an
occasional evening, in which there is no dancing."
"I am sorry to hear it; for, in that case, you can have no society."
"And is it different at Paris--or Florence, or Rome?"
"Very. In Paris there are many houses open every evening to which one
can go, with little ceremony. Our sex appears in them, dressed
according to what a gentleman I overheard conversing at Mrs.
Henderson's would call their 'ulterior intentions,' for the night;
some attired in the simplest manner, others dressed for concerts, for
the opera, for court even; some on the way from a dinner, and others
going to a late ball. All this matter of course variety, adds to the
case and grace of the company, and coupled with perfect good manners,
a certain knowledge of passing events, pretty modes of expression, an
accurate and even utterance, the women usually find the means of
making themselves agreeable. Their sentiment is sometimes a little
heroic, but this one must overlook, and it is a taste, moreover, that
is falling into disuse, as people read better books."
"And you prefer this heartlessness, Eve, to the nature of your own
"I do not know that quiet, _retenue_, and a good tone, are a whit
more heartless than flirting, giggling and childishness. There may be
more nature in the latter, certainly, but it is scarcely as
agreeable, after one has fairly got rid of the nursery."
Grace looked vexed, but she loved her cousin too sincerely to be
angry, A secret suspicion that Eve was right, too, came in aid of her
affection, and while her little foot moved, she maintained her good-
nature, a task not always attainable for those who believe that their
own "superlatives" scarcely reach to other people's "positives." At
this critical moment, when there was so much danger of a jar in the
feelings of these two young females, the library door opened and
Pierre, Mr. Effingham's own man, announced--
"Monsieur who?" asked Eve, in surprise.
"Monsieur Bragg," returned Pierre, in French, "desires to see
"You mean my father,--I know no such person."
"He inquired first for Monsieur, but understanding Monsieur was out,
he next asked to have the honour of seeing Mademoiselle."
"Is it what they call a _person_ in England, Pierre?"
Old Pierre smiled, as he answered--
"He has the air, Mademoiselle, though he esteems himself a
_personnage_, if I might take the liberty of judging."
"Ask him for his card,--there must be a mistake, I think."
While this short conversation took place, Grace Van Cortlandt was
sketching a cottage with a pen, without attending to a word that was
said. But, when Eve received the card from Pierre and read aloud,
with the tone of surprise that the name would be apt to excite in a
novice in the art of American nomenclature, the words "Aristabulus
Bragg," her cousin began to laugh.
"Who can this possibly be, Grace?--Did you ever hear of such a
person, and what right can he have to wish to see me?"
"Admit him, by all means; it is your father's land agent, and he may
wish to leave some message for my uncle. You will be obliged to make
his acquaintance, sooner or later, and it may as well be done now as
at another time."
"You have shown this gentleman into the front drawing-room, Pierre?"
"I will ring when you are wanted."
Pierre withdrew, and Eve opened her secretary, out of which she took
a small manuscript book, over the leaves of which she passed her
"Here it is," she said, smiling, "Mr. Aristabulus Bragg, Attorney and
Counsellor at Law, and the agent of the Templeton estate." This
precious little work, you must understand, Grace, contains sketches
of the characters of such persons as I shall be the most likely to
see, by John Effingham, A.M. It is a sealed volume, of course, but
there can be no harm in reading the part that treats of our present
visiter, and, with your permission, we will have it in common.--'Mr.
Aristabulus Bragg was born in one of the western counties of
Massachusetts, and emigrated to New-York, after receiving his
education, at the mature age of nineteen; at twenty-one he was
admitted to the bar, and for the last seven years he has been a
successful practitioner in all the courts of Otsego, from the
justice's to the circuit. His talents are undeniable, as he commenced
his education at fourteen and terminated it at twenty-one, the law-
course included. This man is an epitome of all that is good and all
that is bad, in a very large class of his fellow citizens. He is
quick-witted, prompt in action, enterprising in all things in which
he has nothing to lose, but wary and cautious in all things in which
he has a real stake, and ready to turn not only his hand, but his
heart and his principles to any thing that offers an advantage. With
him, literally, "nothing is too high to be aspired to, nothing too
low to be done." He will run for Governor, or for town-clerk, just as
opportunities occur, is expert in all the _practices_ of his
profession, has had a quarter's dancing, with three years in the
classics, and turned his attention towards medicine and divinity,
before he finally settled down into the law. Such a compound of
shrewdness, impudence, common-sense, pretension, humility,
cleverness, vulgarity, kind-heartedness, duplicity, selfishness, law-
honesty, moral fraud and mother wit, mixed up with a smattering of
learning and much penetration in practical things, can hardly be
described, as any one of his prominent qualities is certain to be met
by another quite as obvious that is almost its converse. Mr. Bragg,
in short, is purely a creature of circumstances, his qualities
pointing him out for either a member of congress or a deputy sheriff,
offices that he is equally ready to fill. I have employed him to
watch over the estate of your father, in the absence of the latter,
on the principle that one practised in tricks is the best qualified
to detect and expose them, and with the certainty that no man will
trespass with impunity, so long as the courts continue to tax bills
of costs with their present liberality.' You appear to know the
gentleman, Grace; is this character of him faithful?"
"I know nothing of bills of costs and deputy sheriffs, but I do know
that Mr. Aristabulus Bragg is an amusing mixture of strut, humility,
roguery and cleverness. He is waiting all this time in the drawing-
room, and you had better see him, as he may, now, be almost
considered part of the family. You know he has been living in the
house at Templeton, ever since he was installed by Mr. John
Effingham. It was there I had the honour first to meet him,"
"First!--Surely you have never seen him any where else!"
"Your pardon, my dear. He never comes to town without honouring me
with a call. This is the price I pay for having had the honour of
being an inmate of the same house with him for a week."
Eve rang the bell, and Pierre made his appearance.
"Desire Mr. Bragg to walk into the library."
Grace looked demure while Pierre was gone to usher in their visiter,
and Eve was thinking of the medley of qualities John Effingham had
assembled in his description, as the door opened, and the subject of
her contemplation entered.
"_Monsieur Aristabule_" said Pierre, eyeing the card, but sticking at
the first name.
Mr. Aristabulus Bragg was advancing with an easy assurance to make
his bow to the ladies, when the more finished air and quiet dignity
of Miss Effingham, who was standing, so far disconcerted him, as
completely to upset his self-possession. As Grace had expressed it,
in consequence of having lived three years in the old residence at
Templeton, he had begun to consider himself a part of the family, and
at home he never spoke of the young lady without calling her "Eve,"
or "Eve Effingham." But he found it a very different thing to affect
familiarity among his associates, and to practise it in the very face
of its subject; and, although seldom at a loss for words of some sort
or another, he was now actually dumb-founded. Eve relieved his
awkwardness by directing Pierre, with her eye, to hand a chair, and
"I regret that my father is not in," she said, by way of turning the
visit from herself; "but he is to be expected every moment. Are you
lately from Templeton?"
Aristabulus drew his breath, and recovered enough of his ordinary
tone of manner to reply with a decent regard to his character for
self-command. The intimacy that he had intended to establish on the
spot, was temporarily defeated, it is true, and without his exactly
knowing how it had been effected; for it was merely the steadiness of
the young lady, blended as it was with a polished reserve, that had
thrown him to a distance he could not explain. He felt immediately,
and with taste that did his sagacity credit, that his footing in this
quarter was only to be obtained by unusually slow and cautious means.
Still, Mr. Bragg was a man of great decision, and, in his way, of
very far-sighted views; and, singular as it may seem, at that
unpropitious moment, he mentally determined that, at no very distant
day, he would make Miss Eve Effingham his wife.
"I hope Mr. Effingham enjoys good health," he said, with some such
caution as a rebuked school-girl enters on the recitation of her
task--"he enjoyed bad health I hear, (Mr. Aristabulus Bragg, though
so shrewd, was far from critical in his modes of speech) when he went
to Europe, and after travelling so far in such bad company, it would
be no more than fair that he should have a little respite as he
approaches home and old age."
Had Eve been told that the man who uttered this nice sentiment, and
that too in accents as uncouth and provincial as the thought was
finished and lucid, actually presumed to think of her as his bosom
companion, it is not easy to say which would have predominated in her
mind, mirth or resentment. But Mr. Bragg was not in the habit of
letting his secrets escape him prematurely, and certainly this was
one that none but a wizard could have discovered without the aid of a
direct oral or written communication.
"Are you lately from Templeton?" repeated Eve a little surprised that
the gentleman did not see fit to answer the question, which was the
only one that, as it seemed to her, could have a common interest with
"I left home the day before yesterday," Aristabulus now deigned to
"It is so long since I saw our beautiful mountains and I was then so
young, that I feel a great impatience to revisit them, though the
pleasure must be deferred until spring."
"I conclude they are the handsomest mountains in the known world,
"That is much more than I shall venture to claim for them; but,
according to my imperfect recollection, and, what I esteem of far
more importance, according to the united testimony of Mr. John
Effingham and my father, I think they must be very beautiful."
Aristabulus looked up, as if he had a facetious thing to say, and he
even ventured on a smile, while he made his answer.
"I hope Mr. John Effingham has prepared you for a great change in the
"We know that it has been repaired and altered under his directions.
That was done at my father's request."
"We consider it denationalized, Miss Effingham, there being nothing
like it, west of Albany at least."
"I should be sorry to find that my cousin has subjected us to this
imputation," said Eve smiling--perhaps a little equivocally; "the
architecture of America being generally so simple and pure. Mr.
Effingham laughs at his own improvements, however, in which, he says,
he has only carried out the plans of the original _artiste_, who
worked very much in what was called the composite order.
"You allude to Mr. Hiram Doolittle, a gentleman I never saw; though I
hear he has left behind him many traces of his progress in the newer
states. _Ex pede Herculem_, as we say, in the classics, Miss
Effingham I believe it is the general sentiment that Mr. Doolittle's
designs have been improved on, though most people think that the
Grecian or Roman architecture, which is so much in use in America,
would be more republican. But every body knows that Mr. John
Effingham is not much of a republican."
Eve did not choose to discuss her kinsman's opinions with Mr.
Aristabulus Bragg, and she quietly remarked that she "did not know
that the imitations of the ancient architecture, of which there are
so many in the country, were owing to attachment to republicanism."
"To what else can it be owing, Miss Eve?"
"Sure enough," said Grace Van Cortlandt; "it is unsuited to the
materials, the climate, and the uses; and some very powerful motive,
like that mentioned by Mr. Bragg, could alone overcome these
Aristabulus started from his seat, and making sundry apologies,
declared his previous unconsciousness that Miss Van Cortlandt was
present; all of which was true enough, as he had been so much
occupied mentally, with her cousin, as not to have observed her,
seated as she was partly behind a screen. Grace received the excuses
favourably, and the conversation was resumed.
"I am sorry that my cousin should offend the taste of the country,"
said Eve, "but as we are to live in the house, the punishment will
fall heaviest on the offenders."
"Do not mistake me, Miss Eve," returned Aristabulus, in a little
alarm, for he too well understood the influence and wealth of John
Effingham, not to wish to be on good terms with him; "do not mistake
me, I admire the house, and know it to be a perfect specimen of a
pure architecture in its way, but then public opinion is not yet
quite up to it. I see all its beauties, I would wish you to know, but
then there are many, a majority perhaps, who do not, and these
persons think they ought to be consulted about such matters."
"I believe Mr. John Effingham thinks less of his own work than you
seem to think of it yourself, sir, for I have frequently heard him
laugh at it, as a mere enlargement of the merits of the composite
order. He calls it a caprice, rather than a taste: nor do I see what
concern a majority, as you term them, can have with a house that does
not belong to them."
Aristabulus was surprised that any one could disregard a majority;
for, in this respect, he a good deal resembled Mr. Dodge, though
running a different career; and the look of surprise he gave was
natural and open.
"I do not mean that the public has a legal right to control the
tastes of the citizen," he said, "but in a _republican_ government,
you undoubtedly understand, Miss Eve, it _will_ rule in all things."
"I can understand that one would wish to see his neighbour use good
taste, as it helps to embellish a country; but the man who should
consult the whole neighbourhood before he built, would be very apt to
cause a complicated house to be erected, if he paid much respect to
the different opinions he received; or, what is quite as likely, apt
to have no house at all."
"I think you are mistaken, Miss Effingham, for the public sentiment,
just now, runs almost exclusively and popularly into the Grecian
school. We build little besides temples for our churches, our banks,
our taverns, our court-houses, and our dwellings. A friend of mine
has just built a brewery on the model of the Temple of the Winds."
"Had it been a mill, one might understand the conceit," said Eve, who
now began to perceive that her visiter had some latent humour, though
he produced it in a manner to induce one to think him any thing but a
droll. "The mountains must be doubly beautiful, if they are decorated
in the way you mention. I sincerely hope, Grace, that I shall find
the hills as pleasant as they now exist in my recollection!"
"Should they not prove to be quite as lovely as you imagine, Miss
Effingham," returned Aristabulus, who saw no impropriety in answering
a remark made to Miss Van Cortlandt, or any one else, "I hope you
will have the kindness to conceal the fact from the world."
"I am afraid that would exceed my power, the disappointment would be
so strong. May I ask why you show so much interest in my keeping so
cruel a mortification to myself?"
"Why, Miss Eve," said Aristabulus, looking grave, "I am afraid that
_our_ people would hardly bear the expression of such an opinion from
"From _me!_--and why not from _me_, in particular?"
"Perhaps it is because they think you have travelled, and have seen
"And is it only those who have _not_ travelled, and who have no means
of knowing the value of what they say, that are privileged to
"I cannot exactly explain my own meaning, perhaps, but I think Miss
Grace will understand me. Do you not agree with me, Miss Van
Cortlandt, in thinking it would be safer for one who never saw any
other mountains to complain of the tameness and monotony of our own,
than for one who had passed a whole life among the Andes and the
Eve smiled, for she saw that Mr. Bragg was capable of detecting and
laughing at provincial pride, even while he was so much under its
influence; and Grace coloured, for she had the consciousness of
having already betrayed some of this very silly sensitiveness, in her
intercourse with her cousin, in connexion with other subjects. A
reply was unnecessary, however, as the door just then opened, and
John Effingham made his appearance. The meeting between the two
gentlemen, for we suppose Aristabulus must be included in the
category by courtesy, if not of right, was more cordial than Eve had
expected to witness, for each really entertained a respect for the
other, in reference to a merit of a particular sort; Mr. Bragg
esteeming Mr. John Effingham as a wealthy and caustic cynic, and Mr.
John Effingham regarding Mr. Bragg much as the owner of a dwelling
regards a valuable house-dog. After a few moments of conversation,
the two withdrew together, and just as the ladies were about to
descend to the drawing-room, previously to dinner, Pierre announced
that a plate had been ordered for the land agent.
"I know that Deformed; he has been a vile thief this seven year he
goes up and down like a gentleman."
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.
Eve, and her cousin, found Sir George Templemore and Captain Truck in
the drawing-room, the former having lingered in New-York, with a
desire to be near his friends, and the latter being on the point of
sailing for Europe, in his regular turn. To these must be added Mr.
Bragg and the ordinary inmates of the house, when the reader will get
a view of the whole party.
Aristabulus had never before sat down to as brilliant a table, and
for the first time in his life, he saw candles lighted at a dinner;
but he was not a man to be disconcerted at a novelty. Had he been a
European of the same origin and habits, awkwardness would have
betrayed him fifty times, before the dessert made its appearance;
but, being the man he was, one who overlooked a certain prurient
politeness that rather illustrated his deportment, might very well
have permitted him to pass among the _oi polloi_ of the world, were
it not for a peculiar management in the way of providing for himself.
It is true, he asked every one near him to eat of every thing he
could himself reach, and that he used his knife as a coal-heaver uses
a shovel; but the company he was in, though fastidious in its own
deportment, was altogether above the silver-forkisms, and this
portion of his demeanour, if it did not escape undetected, passed
away unnoticed. Not so, however, with the peculiarity already
mentioned as an exception. This touch of deportment, (or management,
perhaps, is the better word,) being characteristic of the man, it
deserves to be mentioned a little in detail.
The service at Mr. Effingham's table was made in the quiet, but
thorough manner that distinguishes a French dinner. Every dish was
removed, carved by the domestics, and handed in turn to each guest.
But there were a delay and a finish in this arrangement that
suited neither Aristabulus's go-a-head-ism, nor his organ of
acquisitiveness. Instead of waiting, therefore, for the more
graduated movements of the domestics, he began to take care of
himself, an office that he performed with a certain dexterity that he
had acquired by frequenting ordinaries--a school, by the way, in
which he had obtained most of his notions of the proprieties of the
table. One or two slices were obtained in the usual manner, or by
means of the regular service; and, then, like one who had laid the
foundation of a fortune, by some lucky windfall in the commencement
of his career, he began to make accessions, right and left, as
opportunity offered. Sundry _entremets_, or light dishes that had a
peculiarly tempting appearance, came first under his grasp. Of these
he soon accumulated all within his reach, by taxing his neighbours,
when he ventured to send his plate, here and there, or wherever he
saw a dish that promised to reward his trouble. By such means, which
were resorted to, however, with a quiet and unobtrusive assiduity
that escaped much observation, Mr. Bragg contrived to make his own
plate a sample epitome of the first course. It contained in the
centre, fish, beef, and ham; and around these staple articles, he had
arranged _croquettes, rognons, ragouts_, vegetables, and other light
things, until not only was the plate completely covered, but it was
actually covered in double and triple layers; mustard, cold butter,
salt, and even pepper, garnishing its edges. These different
accumulations were the work of time and address, and most of the
company had repeatedly changed their plates before Aristabulus had
eaten a mouthful, the soup excepted. The happy moment when his
ingenuity was to be rewarded, had now arrived, and the land agent was
about to commence the process of mastication, or of deglutition
rather, for he troubled himself very little with the first operation,
when the report of a cork drew his attention towards the chaimpaigne.
To Aristabulus this wine never came amiss, for, relishing its
piquancy, he had never gone far enough into the science of the table
to learn which were the proper moments for using it. As respected all
the others at table, this moment had in truth arrived, though, as
respected himself, he was no nearer to it, according to a regulated
taste, than when he first took his seat. Perceiving that Pierre was
serving it, however, he offered his own glass, and enjoyed a
delicious instant, as he swallowed a beverage that much surpassed any
thing he had ever known to issue out of the waxed and leaded nozles
that, pointed like so many enemies' batteries, loaded with headaches
and disordered stomachs, garnished sundry village bars of his
Aristabulus finished his glass at a draught, and when he took breath,
he fairly smacked his lips. That was an unlucky instant, his plate,
burthened with all its treasures, being removed, at this unguarded
moment; the man who performed the unkind office, fancying that a
dislike to the dishes could alone have given rise to such an omnium-
It was necessary to commence _de novo_, but this could no longer be
done with the first course, which was removed, and Aristabulus set-
to, with zeal, forthwith, on the game. Necessity compelled him to
eat, as the different dishes were offered; and, such was his ordinary
assiduity with the knife and fork, that, at the end of the second
remove, he had actually disposed of more food than any other person
at table. He now began to converse, and we shall open the
conversation at the precise point in the dinner, when it was in the
power of Aristabulus to make one of the interlocutors.
Unlike Mr. Dodge, he had betrayed no peculiar interest in the
baronet, being a man too shrewd and worldly to set his heart on
trifles of any sort; and Mr. Bragg no more hesitated about replying
to Sir George Templemore, or Mr. Effingham, than he would have
hesitated about answering one of his own nearest associates. With him
age and experience formed no particular claims to be heard, and, as
to rank, it is true he had some vague ideas about there being such a
thing in the militia, but as it was unsalaried rank, he attached no
great importance to it. Sir George Templemore was inquiring
concerning the recording of deeds, a regulation that had recently
attracted attention in England; and one of Mr. Effingham's replies
contained some immaterial inaccuracy, which Aristabulus took occasion
to correct, as his first appearance in the general discourse.
"I ask pardon, sir," he concluded his explanations by saying, "but I
ought to know these little niceties, having served a short part of a
term as a county clerk, to fill a vacancy occasioned by a death."
"You mean, Mr. Bragg, that you were employed to _write_ in a county
clerk's office," observed John Effingham, who so much disliked
untruth, that he did not hesitate much about refuting it; or what he
now fancied to be an untruth.
"As county clerk, sir. Major Pippin died a year before his time was
out, and I got the appointment. As regular a county clerk, sir, as
there is in the fifty-six counties of New-York."
"When I had the honour to engage you as Mr. Effingham's agent, sir,"
returned the other, a little sternly, for he felt his own character
for veracity involved in that of the subject of his selection, "I
believe, indeed, that you were writing in the office, but I did not
understand it was as _the_ clerk."
"Very true, Mr. John," returned Aristabulus, without discovering the
least concern, "I was _then_ engaged by my successor as _a_ clerk;
but a few months earlier, I filled the office myself."
"Had you gone on, in the regular line of promotion, my dear sir,"
pithily inquired Captain Truck, "to what preferment would you have
risen by this time?"
"I believe I understand you, gentlemen," returned the unmoved
Aristabulus, who perceived a general smile. "I know that some people
are particular about keeping pretty much on the same level, as to
office: but I hold to no such doctrine. If one good thing cannot be
had, I do not see that it is a reason for rejecting another. I ran
that year for sheriff, and finding I was not strong enough to carry
the county, I accepted my successor's offer to write in the office,
until something better might turn up."
"You practised all this time, I believe, Mr. Bragg," observed John
"I did a little in that way, too, sir; or as much as I could. Law is
flat with us, of late, and many of the attorneys are turning their
attention to other callings."
"And pray, sir," asked Sir George, "what is the favourite pursuit
with most of them, just now?"
"Some our way have gone into the horse-line; but much the greater
portion are, just now, dealing in western cities.
"In western cities!" exclaimed the baronet, looking as if he
distrusted a mystification.
"In such articles, and in mill-seats, and rail-road lines, and other
"Mr. Bragg means that they are buying and selling lands on which it
is hoped all these conveniences may exist, a century hence,"
explained John Effingham.
"The _hope_ is for next year, or next week, even, Mr. John," returned
Aristabulus, with a sly look, "though you may be very right as to the
_reality_. Great fortunes have been made on a capital of hopes,
lately, in this country."
"And have you been able, yourself, to resist these temptations?"
asked Mr. Effingham. "I feel doubly indebted to you, sir, that you
should have continued to devote your time to my interests, while so
many better things were offering."
"It was my duty, sir," said Aristabulus, bowing so much the lower,
from the consciousness that he had actually deserted his post for
some months, to embark in the western speculations that were then so
active in the country, "not to say my pleasure. There are many
profitable occupations in this country, Sir George, that have been
overlooked in the eagerness to embark in the town-trade--"
"Mr. Bragg does not mean trade in town, but trade in towns,"
explained John Effingham.
"Yes, sir, the traffic in cities. I never come this way, without
casting an eye about me, in order to see if there is any thing to be
done that is useful; and I confess that several available
opportunities have offered, if one had capital. Milk is a good
"_Le lait!_" exclaimed Mademoiselle Viefville, involuntarily.
"Yes, ma'am, for ladies as well as gentlemen. Sweet potatoes I have
heard well spoken of, and peaches are really making some rich men's
"All of which are honester and better occupations than the traffic in
cities, that you have mentioned," quietly observed Mr. Effingham.
Aristabulus looked up in a little surprise, for with him every thing
was eligible that returned a good profit, and all things honest that
the law did not actually punish. Perceiving, however, that the
company was disposed to listen, and having, by this time, recovered
the lost ground, in the way of food, he cheerfully resumed his theme.
"Many families have left Otsego, this and the last summer, Mr.
Effingham, as emigrants for the west. The fever has spread far and
"The fever! Is _old_ Otsego," for so its inhabitants loved to call a
county of half a century's existence, it being venerable by
comparison, "is _old_ Otsego losing its well established character
"I do not allude to an animal fever, but to the western fever."
"_Ce pays de l'ouest, est-il bien malsain_?" whispered Mademoiselle
"_Apparemment, Mademoiselle, sur plusieurs rapports."_
"The western fever has seized old and young, and it has carried off
many active families from our part of the world," continued
Aristabulus, who did not understand the little aside just mentioned,
and who, of course, did not heed it; "most of the counties adjoining
our own have lost a considerable portion of their population."
"And they who have gone, do they belong to the permanent families, or
are they merely the floating inhabitants?" inquired Mr. Effingham.
"Most of them belong to the regular movers."
"Movers!" again exclaimed Sir George--"is there any material part of
your population who actually deserve this name?"
"As much so as the man who shoes a horse ought to be called a smith,
or the man who frames a house a carpenter," answered John Effingham.
"To be sure," continued Mr. Bragg, "we have a pretty considerable
leaven of them in our political dough, as well as in our active
business. I believe, Sir George, that in England, men are tolerably
"We love to continue for generations on the same spot. We love the
tree that our forefathers planted, the roof that they built, the
fire-side by which they sat, the sods that cover their remains."
"Very poetical, and I dare say there are situations in life, in which
such feelings come in without much effort. It must be a great check
to business operations, however, in your part of the world, sir!"
"Business operations!--what is business, as you term it, sir, to the
affections, to the recollections of ancestry, and to the solemn
feelings connected with history and tradition?"
"Why, sir, in the way of history, one meets with but few incumbrances
in this country, but he may do very much as interest dictates, so far
as that is concerned, at least. A nation is much to be pitied that is
weighed down by the past, in this manner, since its industry and
enterprize are constantly impeded by obstacles that grow out of its
recollections. America may, indeed, be termed a happy and a free
country, Mr. John Effingham, in this, as well as in all other
Sir George Templemore was too well-bred to utter all he felt at that
moment, as it would unavoidably wound the feelings of his hosts, but
he was rewarded for his forbearance by intelligent smiles from Eve
and Grace, the latter of whom the young baronet fancied, just at that
moment, was quite as beautiful as her cousin, and if less finished in
manners, she had the most interesting _naivete_.
"I have been told that most old nations have to struggle with
difficulties that we escape," returned John Effingham, "though I
confess this is a superiority on our part, that never before
presented itself to my mind."
"The political economists, and even the geographers have overlooked
it, but practical men see and feel its advantages, every hour in the
day. I have been told, Sir George Templemore, that in England, there
are difficulties in running highways and streets through homesteads
and dwellings; and that even a rail-road, or a canal, is obliged to
make a curve to avoid a church-yard or a tomb-stone?"
"I confess to the sin, sir."
"Our friend Mr. Bragg," put in John Effingham, "considers life as all
_means_ and no _end_."
"An end cannot be got at without the means, Mr. John Effingham, as I
trust you will, yourself, admit. I am for the end of the road, at
least, and must say that I rejoice in being a native of a country in
which as few impediments as possible exist to onward impulses. The
man who should resist an improvement, in our part of the country, on
account of his forefathers, would fare badly among his contemporaries."
"Will you permit me to ask, Mr. Bragg, if you feel no local
attachments yourself," enquired the baronet, throwing as much
delicacy into the tones of his voice, as a question that he felt
ought to be an insult to a man's heart, would allow--"if one tree is
not more pleasant than another; the house you were born in more
beautiful than a house into which you never entered; or the altar at
which you have long worshipped, more sacred than another at which you
"Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than to answer the questions
of gentlemen that travel through our country," returned Aristabulus,
"for I think, in making nations acquainted with each other, we
encourage trade and render business more secure. To reply to your
inquiry, a human being is not a cat, to love a locality rather than
its own interests. I have found some trees much pleasanter than
others, and the pleasantest tree I can remember was one of my own,
out of which the sawyers made a thousand feet of clear stuff, to say
nothing of middlings. The house I was born in was pulled down,
shortly after my birth, as indeed has been its successor, so I can
tell you nothing on that head; and as for altars, there are none in
"The church of Mr. Bragg has stripped itself as naked as he would
strip every thing else, if he could," said John Effingham. "I much
question if he ever knelt even; much less before an altar."
"We are of the standing order, certainly," returned Aristabulus,
glancing towards the ladies to discover how they took his wit, "and
Mr. John Effingham is as near right as a man need be, in a matter of
faith. In the way of houses, Mr. Effingham, I believe it is the
general opinion you might have done better with your own, than to
have repaired it. Had the materials been disposed of, they would have
sold well, and by running a street through the property, a pretty sum
might have been realized."
"In which case I should have been without a home, Mr. Bragg."
"It would have been no great matter to get another on cheaper land.
The old residence would have made a good factory, or an inn."
"Sir, I _am_ a cat, and like the places I have long frequented."
Aristabulus, though not easily daunted, was awed by Mr. Effingham's
manner, and Eve saw that her father's fine face had flushed. This
interruption, therefore, suddenly changed the discourse, which has
been recreated at some length, as likely to give the reader a better
insight into a character that will fill some space in our narrative,
than a more laboured description.
"I trust your owners, Captain Truck," said John Effingham, by way of
turning the conversation into another channel, "are fully satisfied
with the manner in which you saved their property from the hands of
"Men, when money is concerned, are more disposed to remember how it
was lost than how it was recovered, religion and trade being the two
poles, on such a point," returned the old seaman, with a serious
face. "On the whole, my dear sir, I have reason to be satisfied,
however; and so long as you, my passengers and my friends, are not
inclined to blame me, I shall feel as if I had done at least a part
of my duty."
Eve rose from table, went to a side-board and returned, when she
gracefully placed before the master of the Montauk a rich and
beautifully chased punch-bowl, in silver. Almost at the same moment,
Pierre offered a salver that contained a capital watch, a pair of
small silver tongs to hold a coal, and a deck trumpet, in solid
"These are so many faint testimonials of our feelings," said
Eve--"and you will do us the favour to retain them, as evidences of
the esteem created by skill, kindness, and courage."
"My dear young lady!" cried the old tar, touched to the soul by the
feeling with which Eve acquitted herself of this little duty, "my
dear young lady--well, God bless you--God bless you all--you too, Mr.
John Effingham, for that matter--and Sir George--that I should ever
have taken that runaway for a gentleman and a baronet--though I
suppose there are some silly baronets, as well as silly lords--retain
them?"--glancing furiously at Mr. Aristabulus Bragg, "may the Lord
forget me, in the heaviest hurricane, if I ever forget whence these
things came, and why they were given."
Here the worthy captain was obliged to swallow some wine, by way of
relieving his emotions, and Aristabulus, profiting by the
opportunity, coolly took the bowl, which, to use a word of his own,
he _hefted_ in his hand, with a view to form some tolerably accurate
notion of its intrinsic value. Captain Truck's eye caught the action,
and he reclaimed his property quite as unceremoniously as it had been
taken away, nothing but the presence of the ladies preventing an
outbreaking that would have amounted to a declaration of war.
"With your permission, sir," said the captain, drily, after he had
recovered the bowl, not only without the other's consent, but, in
some degree, against his will; "this bowl is as precious in my eyes
as if it were made of my father's bones."
"You may indeed think so," returned the land-agent, "for its cost
could not be less than a hundred dollars."
"Cost, sir!--But, my dear young lady, let us talk of the real value.
For what part of these things am I indebted to you?"
"The bowl is my offering," Eve answered, smilingly, though a tear
glistened in her eye, as she witnessed the strong unsophisticated
feeling of the old tar. "I thought it might serve sometimes to bring
me to your recollection, when it was well filled in honour of
'sweethearts and wives.'"
"It shall--it shall, by the Lord; and Mr. Saunders needs look to it,
if he do not keep this work as bright as a cruising frigate's bottom.
To whom do I owe the coal-tongs?"
"Those are from Mr. John Effingham, who insists that he will come
nearer to your heart than any of us, though the gift be of so little
"He does not know me, my dear young lady--nobody ever got as near my
heart as you; no, not even my own dear pious old mother. But I thank
Mr. John Effingham from my inmost spirit, and shall seldom smoke
without thinking of him. The watch I know is Mr. Effingham's, and I
ascribe the trumpet to Sir George."
The bows of the several gentlemen assured the captain he was right,
and he shook each of them cordially by the hand, protesting, in the
fulness of his heart, that nothing would give him greater pleasure
than to be able to go through the same perilous scenes as those from
which they had so lately escaped, in their good company again.
While this was going on, Aristabulus, notwithstanding the rebuke he
had received, contrived to get each article, in succession, into his
hands, and by dint of poising it on a finger, or by examining it, to
form some approximative notion of its inherent value. The watch he
actually opened, taking as good a survey of its works as the
circumstances of the case would very well allow.
"I respect these things, sir, more than you respect your father's
grave," said Captain Truck sternly, as he rescued the last article
from what he thought the impious grasp of Aristabulus again, "and cat
or no cat, they sink or swim with me for the remainder of the cruise.
If there is any virtue in a will, which I am sorry to say I hear
there is not any longer, they shall share my last bed with me, be it
ashore or be it afloat. My dear young lady, fancy all the rest, but
depend on it, punch will be sweeter than ever taken from this bowl,
and 'sweethearts and wives' will never be so honoured again."
"We are going to a ball this evening, at the house of one with whom I
am sufficiently intimate to take the liberty of introducing a
stranger, and I wish, gentlemen," said Mr. Effingham, bowing to
Aristabulus and the captain, by way of changing the conversation,
"you would do me the favour to be of our party."
Mr. Bragg acquiesced very cheerfully, and quite as a matter of
course; while Captain Truck, after protesting his unfitness for such
scenes, was finally prevailed on by John Effingham, to comply with
the request also. The ladies remained at table but a few minutes
longer, when they retired, Mr. Effingham having dropped into the old
custom of sitting at the bottle, until summoned to the drawing-room,
a usage that continues to exist in America, for a reason no better
than the fact that it continues to exist in England;--it being almost
certain that it will cease in New-York, the season after it is known
to have ceased in London.
"Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful!"
As Captain Truck asked permission to initiate the new coal-tongs by
lighting a cigar, Sir George Templemore contrived to ask Pierre, in
an aside, if the ladies would allow him to join them. The desired
consent having been obtained, the baronet quietly stole from table,
and was soon beyond the odours of the dining-room.
"You miss the censer and the frankincense," said Eve, laughing, as
Sir George entered the drawing-room; "but you will remember we have
no church establishment, and dare not take such liberties with the
ceremonials of the altar."
"That is a short-lived custom with us, I fancy, though far from an
unpleasant one. But you do me injustice in supposing I am merely
running away from the fumes of the dinner."
"No, no; we understand perfectly well that you have something to do
with the fumes of flattery, and we will at once fancy all has been
said that the occasion requires. Is not our honest old captain a
jewel in his way?"
"Upon my word, since you allow me to speak of your father's guests, I
do not think it possible to have brought together two men who are so
completely the opposites of each other, as Captain Truck and this Mr
Aristabulus Bragg. The latter is quite the most extraordinary person
in his way, it was ever my good fortune to meet with."
"You call him a _person_, while Pierre calls him a _personnage;_ I
fancy he considers it very much as a matter of accident, whether he
is to pass his days in the one character or in the other. Cousin Jack
assures me, that, while this man accepts almost any duty that he
chooses to assign him, he would not deem it at all a violation of the
_convenances_ to aim at the throne in the White House."
"Certainly with no hopes of ever attaining it!"
"One cannot answer for that. The man must undergo many essential
changes, and much radical improvement, before such a climax to his
fortunes can ever occur; but the instant you do away with the claims
of hereditary power, the door is opened to a new chapter of
accidents. Alexander of Russia styled himself _un heureux accident_;
and should it ever be our fortune to receive Mr. Bragg as President,
we shall only have to term him _un malheureux accident_. I believe
that will contain all the difference."
"Your republicanism is indomitable, Miss Effingham, and I shall
abandon the attempt to convert you to safer principles, more
especially as I find you supported by both the Mr. Effinghams, who,
while they condemn so much at home, seem singularly attached to their
own system at the bottom."
"They condemn, Sir George Templemore, because they know that
perfection is hopeless, and because they feel it to be unsafe and
unwise to eulogize defects, and they are attached, because near views
of other countries have convinced them that, comparatively at last,
bad as we are, we are still better than most of our neighbours."
"I can assure you," said Grace, "that many of the opinions of Mr John
Effingham, in particular, are not at all the opinions that are most
in vogue here; he rather censures what we like, and likes what we
censure. Even my dear uncle is thought to be a little heterodox on
"I can readily believe it," returned Eve, steadily. "These gentlemen,
having become familiar with better things, in the way of the tastes,
and of the purely agreeable, cannot discredit their own knowledge so
much as to extol that which their own experience tells them is
faulty, or condemn that which their own experience tells them is
relatively good. Now, Grace, if you will reflect a moment, you will
perceive that people necessarily like the best of their own tastes,
until they come to a knowledge of better; and that they as
necessarily quarrel with the unpleasant facts that surround them;
although these facts, as consequences of a political system, may be
much less painful than those of other systems of which they have no
knowledge. In the one case, they like their own best, simply because
it is their own best; and they dislike their own worst, because it is
their own worst. We cherish a taste, in the nature of things, without
entering into any comparisons, for when the means of comparison
offer, and we find improvements, it ceases to be a taste at all;
while to complain of any positive grievance, is the nature of man, I
"I think a republic odious!"
"_Le republique est une horreur!_"
Grace thought a republic odious, without knowing any thing of any
other state of society, and because it contained odious things; and
Mademoiselle Viefville called a republic _une horreur_, because heads
fell and anarchy prevailed in her own country, during its early
struggles for liberty. Though Eve seldom spoke more sensibly, and
never more temperately, than while delivering the foregoing opinions,
Sir George Templemore doubted whether she had all that exquisite
_finesse_ and delicacy of features, that he had so much admired; and
when Grace burst out in the sudden and senseless exclamation we have
recorded, he turned towards her sweet and animated countenance,
which, for the moment, he fancied the loveliest of the two.
Eve Effingham had yet to learn that she had just entered into the
most intolerant society, meaning purely as society, and in connexion
with what are usually called liberal sentiments, in Christendom. We
do not mean by this, that it would be less safe to utter a generous
opinion in favour of human rights in America than in any other
country, for the laws and the institutions become active in this
respect, but simply, that the resistance of the more refined to the
encroachments of the unrefined, has brought about a state of
feeling--a feeling that is seldom just and never philosophical--which
has created a silent, but almost unanimous bias against the effects
of the institutions, in what is called the world. In Europe, one
rarely utters a sentiment of this nature, under circumstances in
which it is safe to do so at all, without finding a very general
sympathy in the auditors; but in the circle into which Eve had now
fallen, it was almost considered a violation of the proprieties. We
do not wish to be understood as saying more than we mean, however,
for we have no manner of doubt that a large portion of the
dissentients even, are so idly, and without reflection; or for the
very natural reasons already given by our heroine; but we do wish to
be understood as meaning that such is the outward appearance which
American society presents to every stranger, and to every native of
the country too, on his return from a residence among other people.
Of its taste, wisdom and safety we shall not now speak, but content
ourselves with merely saying that the effect of Grace's exclamation
on Eve was unpleasant, and that, unlike the baronet, she thought her
cousin was never less handsome than while her pretty face was covered
with the pettish frown it had assumed for the occasion.
Sir George Templemore had tact enough to perceive there had been a
slight jar in the feelings of these two young women, and he adroitly
changed the conversation. With Eve he had entire confidence on the
score of provincialisms, and, without exactly anticipating the part
Grace would be likely to take in such a discussion, he introduced the
subject of general society in New-York.
"I am desirous to know," he said, "if you have your sets, as we have
them in London and Paris. Whether you have your _Faubourg St.
Germain_ and your _Chaussee d'Antin;_ your Piccadilly, Grosvenor and
"I must refer you to Miss Van Cortlandt for an answer to that
question," said Eve.
Grace looked up blushing, for there were both novelty and excitement
in having an intelligent foreigner question her on such a subject.
"I do not know that I rightly understand the allusion," she said,
"although I am afraid Sir George Templemore means to ask if we have
distinctions in society?"
"And why _afraid_, Miss Van Cortlandt?"
"Because it strikes me such a question would imply a doubt of our
"There are frequently distinctions made, when the differences are not
obvious," observed Eve. "Even London and Paris are not above the
imputation of this folly. Sir George Templemore, if I understand him,
wishes to know if we estimate gentility by streets, and quality by
"Not exactly that either, Miss Effingham--but, whether among those,
who may very well pass for gentlemen and ladies, you enter into the
minute distinctions that are elsewhere found. Whether you have your
exclusive, and your _elegants_ and _elegantes_; or whether you deem
all within the pale as on an equality."
"_Les femmes Americaines sont bien jolies!_" exclaimed Mademoiselle
"It is quite impossible that _coteries_ should not form in a town of
three hundred thousand souls."
"I do not mean exactly even that. Is there no distinction between
_coteries;_ is not one placed by opinion, by a silent consent, if not
by positive ordinances, above another?"
"Certainly, that to which Sir George Templemore alludes, is to be
found," said Grace, who gained courage to speak, as she found the
subject getting to be more clearly within her comprehension. "All the
old families, for instance, keep more together than the others;
though it is the subject of regret that they are not more particular
than they are."
"Old families!" exclaimed Sir George Templemore, with quite as much
stress as a well-bred man could very well lay on the words, in such
"Old families," repeated Eve, with all that emphasis which the
baronet himself had hesitated about giving. "As old, at least, as two
centuries can make them; and this, too, with origins beyond that
period, like those of the rest of the world. Indeed, the American has
a better gentility than common, as, besides his own, he may take root
in that of Europe."
"Do not misconceive me, Miss Effingham; I am fully aware that the
people of this country are exactly like the people of all other
civilized countries, in this respect; but my surprise is that, in a
republic, you should have such a term even as that of 'old
"The surprise has arisen, I must be permitted to say, from not having
sufficiently reflected on the real state of the country. There are
two great causes of distinction every where, wealth and merit. Now,
if a race of Americans continue conspicuous in their own society,
through either or both of these causes, for a succession of
generations, why have they not the same claims to be considered
members of old families, as Europeans under the same circumstances? A
republican history is as much history as a monarchical history; and a
historical name in one, is quite as much entitled to consideration,
as a historical name in another. Nay, you admit this in your European
republics, while you wish to deny it in ours."
"I must insist on having proofs; if we permit these charges to be
brought against us without evidence, Mademoiselle Viefville, we shall
finally be defeated through our own neglect."
"_C'est une belle illustration, celle de l'antiquite_" observed the
governess, in a matter of course tone.
"If you insist on proof, what answer can you urge to the _Capponi_?
'_Sonnez vos trompettes, et je vais faire sonner mes cloches_,'--or
to the _Von Erlachs_, a family that has headed so many resistances to
oppression and invasion, for five centuries?"
"All this is very true," returned Sir George, "and yet I confess it
is not the way in which it is usual with us to consider American
"A descent from Washington, with a character and a social position to
correspond, would not be absolutely vulgar, notwithstanding!"
"Nay, if you press me so hard, I must appeal to Miss Van Cortlandt
"On this point you will find no support in that quarter. Miss Van
Cortlandt has an historical name herself, and will not forego an
honest pride, in order to relieve one of the hostile powers from a
"While I admit that time and merit must, in a certain sense, place
families in America in the same situation with families in Europe, I
cannot see that it is in conformity with your institutions to lay the
same stress on the circumstance."
"In that we are perfectly of a mind, as I think the American has much
the best reason to be proud of his family," said Eve, quietly.
"You delight in paradoxes, apparently, this evening, Miss Effingham,
for I now feel very certain you can hardly make out a plausible
defence of this new position."
"If I had my old ally, Mr. Powis, here," said Eve touching the fender
unconsciously with her little foot, and perceptibly losing the
animation and pleasantry of her voice, in tones that were gentler, if
not melancholy, "I should ask him to explain this matter to you, for
he was singularly ready in such replies. As he is absent, however, I
will attempt the duty myself. In Europe, office, power, and
consequently, consideration, are all hereditary; whereas, in this
country, they are not, but they depend on selection. Now, surely, one
has more reason to be proud of ancestors who have been chosen to fill
responsible stations, than of ancestors who have filled them through
the accidents, _heureux ou malkeureux_, of birth. The only difference
between England and America, as respects family, is that you add
positive rank to that to which we only give consideration. Sentiment
is at the bottom of our nobility, and the great seal at the bottom of
yours. And now, having established the fact that there are families
in America, let us return whence we started, and enquire how far they
have an influence in every-day society."
"To ascertain which, we must apply to Miss Van Cortlandt."
"Much less than they ought, if my opinion is to be taken," said
Grace, laughing, "for the great inroad of strangers has completely
deranged all the suitablenesses, in that respect."
"And yet, I dare say, these very strangers do good," rejoined Eve.
"Many of them must have been respectable in their native places, and
ought to be an acquisition to a society that, in its nature, must be,
Grace, _tant soit peu_, provincial."
"Oh!" cried Grace, "I can tolerate any thing but the Hajjis!"
"The what?" asked Sir George, eagerly--"will you suffer me to ask an
explanation, Miss Van Cortlandt."
"The Hajjis," repeated Grace laughing, though she blushed to the
The baronet looked from one cousin to the other, and then turned an
inquiring glance on Mademoiselle Viefville. The latter gave a slight
shrug, and seemed to ask an explanation of the young lady's meaning
"A Hajji is one of a class, Sir George Templemore," Eve at length
said, "to which you and I have both the honour of belonging."
"No, not Sir George Templemore," interrupted Grace, with a
precipitation that she instantly regretted; "he is not an American."
"Then I, alone, of all present, have that honour. It means the
pilgrimage to Paris, instead of Mecca; and the Pilgrim must be an
American, instead of a Mahommedan."
"Nay, Eve, _you_ are not a Hajji, neither."
"Then there is some qualification with which I am not yet acquainted.
Will you relieve our doubts, Grace, and let us know the precise
character of the animal."
"_You_ stayed too long to be a Hajji--- one must get innoculated
merely; not take the disease and become cured, to be a true Hajji."
"I thank you, Miss Van Cortlandt, for this description," returned Eve
in her quiet way. "I hope, as I have gone through the malady, it has
not left me pitted."
"I should like to see one of these Hajjis," cried Sir George.--"Are
they of both sexes?"
Grace laughed and nodded her head.
"Will you point it out to me, should we be so fortunate as to
encounter one this evening?"
Again Grace laughed and nodded her head.
"I have been thinking, Grace," said Eve, after a short pause, "that
we may give Sir George Templemore a better idea of the sets about
which he is so curious, by doing what is no more than a duty of our
own, and by letting him profit by the opportunity. Mrs. Hawker
receives this evening without ceremony; we have not yet sent our
answer to Mrs. Jarvis, and might very well look in upon her for half
an hour, after which we shall be in very good season for Mrs.
"Surely, Eve, you would not wish to take Sir George Templemore to
such a house as that of Mrs. Jarvis!"
"_I_ do not wish to take Sir George Templemore any where, for your
Hajjis have opinions of their own on such subjects. But, as cousin
Jack will accompany us, _he_ may very well confer that important
favour. I dare say, Mrs. Jarvis will not look upon it as too great a
"I will answer for it, that nothing Mr. John Effingham can do will be
thought _mal a propos_ by Mrs. Jared Jarvis. His position in society
is too well established, and hers is too equivocal, to leave any
doubt on that head."
"This, you perceive, settles the point of _coteries,_" said Eve to
the baronet. "Volumes might be written to establish principles; but
when one can do any thing he or she pleases, any where that he or she
likes, it is pretty safe to say that he or she is privileged."
"All very true, as to the fact, Miss Effingham; but I should like
exceedingly to know the reason."
"Half the time, such things are decided without a reason at all. You
are a little exacting in requiring a reason in New-York for that
which is done in London without even the pretence of such a thing. It
is sufficient that Mrs. Jarvis will be delighted to see you without
an invitation, and that Mrs. Houston would, at least, think it odd,
were you to take the same liberty with her."
"It follows," said Sir George, smiling, "that Mrs. Jarvis is much the
most hospitable person of the two."
"But, Eve, what shall be done with Captain Truck and Mr. Bragg?"
asked Grace. "We cannot take _them_ to Mrs. Hawker's!"
"Aristabulus would, indeed, be a little out of place in such a house,
but as for our excellent, brave, straight-forward, old captain, he is
worthy to go any where. I shall be delighted to present _him_ to Mrs.
After a little consultation between the ladies, it was settled that
nothing should be said of the two first visits to Mr. Bragg, but that
Mr. Effingham should be requested to bring him to the ball, at the
proper hour, and that the rest of the party should go quietly off to
the other places, without mentioning their projects. As soon as this
was arranged the ladies retired to dress, Sir George Templemore
passing into the library to amuse himself with a book the while;
where, however, he was soon joined by John Effingham. Here the former
revived the conversation on distinctions in society, with the
confusion of thought that usually marks a European's notions of such
"Ready." "And I." "And I." "Where shall we go?"
Grace Van Cortlant was the first to make her appearance after the
retreat from the drawing-room. It has often been said that, pretty as
the American females incontestably are, as a whole they appear better
in _demi-toilette,_ than when attired for a ball. With what would be
termed high dress in other parts of the world, they are little
acquainted; but reversing the rule of Europe, where the married
bestow the most care on their personal appearance, and the single are
taught to observe a rigid simplicity, Grace now seemed sufficiently
ornamented in the eyes of the fastidious baronet, while, at the same
time, he thought her less obnoxious to the criticism just mentioned,
than most of her young countrywomen, in general.
An _embonpoint_ that was just sufficient to distinguish her from most
of her companions, a fine colour, brilliant eyes, a sweet smile, rich
hair, and such feet and hands as Sir George Templemore had, somehow--
he scarcely knew how, himself--fancied could only belong to the
daughters of peers and princes, rendered Grace so strikingly
attractive this evening, that the young baronet began to think her
even handsomer than her cousin. There was also a charm in the
unsophisticated simplicity of Grace, that was particularly alluring
to a man educated amidst the coldness and mannerism of the higher
classes of England. In Grace, too, this simplicity was chastened by
perfect decorum and _retenue_ of deportment; the exuberance of the
new school of manners not having helped to impair the dignity of her
character, or to weaken the charm of diffidence. She was less
finished in her manners than Eve, certainly; a circumstance, perhaps,
that induced Sir George Templemore to fancy her a shade more simple,
but she was never unfeminine or unladylike; and the term vulgar, in
despite of all the capricious and arbitrary rules of fashion, under
no circumstances, could ever be applied to Grace Van Cortlandt. In
this respect, nature seemed to have aided her; for had not her
associations raised her above such an imputation, no one could
believe that she would be obnoxious to the charge, had her lot in
life been cast even many degrees lower than it actually was.
It is well known that, after a sufficient similarity has been created
by education to prevent any violent shocks to our habits or
principles, we most affect those whose characters and dispositions
the least resemble our own. This was probably one of the reasons why
Sir George Templemore, who, for some time, had been well assured of
the hopelessness of his suit with Eve, began to regard her scarcely
less lovely cousin, with an interest of a novel and lively nature.
Quick-sighted and deeply interested in Grace's happiness, Miss
Effingham had already detected this change in the young baronet's
inclinations, and though sincerely rejoiced on her own account, she
did not observe it without concern; for she understood better than
most of her countrywomen, the great hazards of destroying her peace
of mind, that are incurred by transplanting an American woman into
the more artificial circles of the old world.
"I shall rely on your kind offices, in particular, Miss Van
Cortlandt, to reconcile Mrs. Jarvis and Mrs. Hawker to the liberty I
am about to take," cried Sir George, as Grace burst upon them in the
library, in a blaze of beauty that, in her case, was aided by her
attire; "and cold-hearted and unchristian-like women they must be,
indeed, to resist such a mediator!"
Grace was unaccustomed to adulation of this sort; for though the
baronet spoke gaily, and like one half trifling, his look of
admiration was too honest to escape the intuitive perception of
woman. She blushed deeply, and then recovering herself instantly,
said with a _naivete_ that had a thousand charms with her listener--
"I do not see why Miss Effingham and myself should hesitate about
introducing you at either place. Mrs. Hawker is a relative and an
intimate--an intimate of mine, at least--and as for poor Mrs. Jarvis,
she is the daughter of an old neighbour, and will be too glad to see
us, to raise objections. I fancy any one of a certain--" Grace
hesitated and laughed.
"Any one of a certain--?" said Sir George inquiringly.
"Any one from this house," resumed the young lady, correcting the
intended expression, "will be welcome in Spring street."
"Pure, native aristocracy!" exclaimed the baronet with an air of
affected triumph. "This you see, Mr. John Effingham, is in aid of my
"I am quite of your opinion," returned the gentleman addressed--"as
much native aristocracy as you please, but no hereditary."
The entrance of Eve and Mademoiselle Viefville interrupted this
pleasantry, and the carriages being just then announced, John
Effingham went in quest of Captain Truck, who was in the drawing-room
with Mr. Effingham and Aristabulus.
"I have left Ned to discuss trespass suits and leases with his land-
agent," said John Effingham, as he followed Eve to the street-door.
"By ten o'clock, they will have taxed a pretty bill of costs between
Mademoiselle Viefville followed John Effingham; Grace came next, and
Sir George Templemore and the Captain brought up the rear. Grace
wondered the young baronet did not offer her his arm, for she had
been accustomed to receive this attention from the other sex, in a
hundred situations in which it was rather an incumbrance than a
service; while on the other hand, Sir George himself would have
hesitated about offering such assistance, as an act of uncalled-for
Miss Van Cortlandt, being much in society, kept a chariot for her own
use, and the three ladies took their seats in it, while the gentlemen
took possession of Mr. Effingham's coach. The order was given to
drive to Spring street, and the whole party proceeded.
The acquaintance between the Effinghams and Mr. Jarvis had arisen
from the fact of their having been near, and, in a certain sense,
sociable neighbours in the country. Their town associations, however,
were as distinct as if they dwelt in different hemispheres, with the
exception of an occasional morning call, and, now and then, a family
dinner given by Mr. Effingham. Such had been the nature of the
intercourse previously to the family of the latter's having gone
abroad, and there were symptoms of its being renewed on the same
quiet and friendly footing as formerly. But no two beings could be
less alike, in certain essentials, than Mr. Jarvis and his wife. The
former was a plain pains-taking, sensible man of business, while the
latter had an itching desire to figure in the world of fashion. The
first was perfectly aware that Mr. Effingham, in education, habits,
associations and manners, was, at least, of a class entirely distinct
from his own; and without troubling himself to analyze causes, and
without a feeling of envy, or unkindness of any sort, while totally
exempt from any undue deference or unmanly cringing, he quietly
submitted to let things take their course. His wife expressed her
surprise that any one in New-York should presume to be _better_ than
themselves; and the remark gave rise to the following short
conversation, on the very morning of the day she gave the party, to
which we are now conducting the reader.
"How do you know, my dear, that any one does think himself our
_better_?" demanded the husband.
"Why do they not all visit us then!"
"Why do you not visit everybody yourself? A pretty household we
should have, if you did nothing but visit every one who lives even in
"You surely would not have _me_ visiting the grocers' wives at the
corners, and all the other rubbish of the neighbourhood. What I mean
is that all the people of a certain sort ought to visit all the other
people of a certain sort, in the same town."
"You surely will make an exception, at least on account of numbers. I
saw number three thousand six hundred and fifty this very day on a
cart, and if the wives of all these carmen should visit one another,
each would have to make ten visits daily in order to get through with
the list in a twelvemonth."
"I have always bad luck in making you comprehend these things, Mr.
"I am afraid, my dear, it is because you do not very clearly
comprehend them yourself. You first say that everybody ought to visit
everybody, and then you insist on it, _you_ will visit none but those
you think good enough to be visited by Mrs. Jared Jarvis."
"What I mean is, that no one in New-York has a right to think
himself, or herself, better than ourselves."
"Better?--In what sense better?"
"In such a sense as to induce them to think themselves too good to
"That may be your opinion, my dear, but others may judge differently.
You clearly think yourself too good to visit Mrs. Onion, the grocer's
wife, who is a capital woman in her way; and how do we know that
certain people may not fancy we are not quite refined enough for
them? Refinement is a positive thing, Mrs. Jarvis, and one that has
much more influence on the pleasures of association than money. We
may want a hundred little perfections that escape our ignorance, and
which those who are trained to such matters deem essentials."
"I never met with a man of so little social spirit, Mr. Jarvis!
Really, you are quite unsuited to be a citizen of a republican
"Republican!--I do not really see what republican has to do with the
question. In the first place, it is a droll word for _you_ to use in
this sense at least; for, taking your own meaning of the term, you
are as anti-republican as any woman I know. But a republic does not
necessarily infer equality of condition, or even equality of
rights,--it meaning merely the substitution of the right of the
commonwealth for the right of a prince. Had you said a democracy
there would have been some plausibility in using the word, though
even then its application would have been illogical. If I am a
freeman and a democrat, I hope I have the justice to allow others to
be just as free and democratic as I am myself."
"And who wishes the contrary?--all I ask is a claim to be considered
a fit associate for anybody in this country--in these United States
"I would quit these United States of America next week, if I thought
there existed any necessity for such an intolerable state of things."
"Mr. Jarvis!--and you, too, one of the Committee of Tammany Hall!"
"Yes, Mrs. Jarvis, and I one of the Committee of Tammany Hall! What,
do you think I want the three thousand six hundred and fifty carmen
running in and out of my house, with their tobacco saliva and pipes,
all day long?"
"Who is thinking of your carmen and grocers!--I speak now only of
"In other words, my dear, you are thinking only of those whom you
fancy to have the advantage of you, and keep those who think of you
in the same way, quite out of sight This is not my democracy and
freedom. I believe that it requires two people to make a bargain, and
although I may consent to dine with A----, if A---- will not consent
to dine with me, there is an end of the matter."
"Now, you have come to a case in point. You often dined with Mr.
Effingham before he went abroad, and yet you would never allow me to
ask Mr. Effingham to dine with us. That is what I call meanness."
"It might be so, indeed, if it were done to save my money. I dined
with Mr. Effingham because I like him; because he was an old
neighbour; because he asked me, and because I found a pleasure in the
quiet elegance of his table and society; and I did not ask him to
dine with me, because I was satisfied he would be better pleased with
such a tacit acknowledgement of his superiority in this respect, than
by any bustling and ungraceful efforts to pay him in kind. Edward
Effingham has dinners enough, without keeping a debtor and credit
account with his guests, which is rather too New-Yorkish, even for
"Bustling and ungraceful!" repeated Mrs. Jarvis, bitterly; "I do not
know that you are at all more bustling and ungraceful than Mr.
"No, my dear, I am a quiet, unpretending man, like the great majority
of my countrymen, thank God."
"Then why talk of these sorts of differences in a country in which
the law establishes none?"
"For precisely the reason that I talk of the river at the foot of
this street, or because there is a river. A thing may exist without
there being a law for it. There is no law for building this house,
and yet it is built. There is no law for making Dr. Verse a better
preacher than Dr. Prolix, and yet he is a much better preacher;
neither is there any law for making Mr. Effingham a more finished
gentleman than I happen to be, and yet I am not fool enough to deny
the fact. In the way of making out a bill of parcels, I will not turn
my back to him, I can promise you."
"All this strikes me as being very spiritless, and as particularly
anti-republican," said Mrs. Jarvis, rising to quit the room; "and if
the Effinghams do not come this evening, I shall not enter their
house this winter. I am sure they have no right to pretend to be our
betters, and I feel no disposition to admit the impudent claim."
"Before you go, Jane, let me say a parting word," rejoined the
husband, looking for his hat, "which is just this. If you wish the
world to believe you the equal of any one, no matter whom, do not be
always talking about it, lest they see you distrust the fact
yourself. A positive thing will surely be seen, and they who have the
highest claims are the least disposed to be always pressing them on
the attention of the world. An outrage may certainly be done those
social rights which have been established by common consent, and then
it may be proper to resent it; but beware betraying a consciousness
of your own inferiority, by letting every one see you are jealous of
your station. 'Now, kiss me; here is the money to pay for your finery
this evening, and let me see you as happy to receive Mrs. Jewett from
Albion Place, as you would be to receive Mrs. Hawker herself."
"Mrs. Hawker!" cried the wife, with a toss of her head, "I would not
cross the street to invite Mrs. Hawker and all her clan." Which was
very true, as Mrs. Jarvis was thoroughly convinced the trouble would
be unavailing, the lady in question being as near the head of fashion
in New-York, as it was possible to be in a town that, in a moral
sense, resembles an encampment, quite as much as it resembles a
permanent and a long-existing capital.
Notwithstanding a great deal of management on the part of Mrs. Jarvis
to get showy personages to attend her entertainment, the simple
elegance of the two carriages that bore the Effingham party, threw
all the other equipages into the shade. The arrival, indeed, was
deemed a matter of so much moment, that intelligence was conveyed to
the lady, who was still at her post in the inner drawing-room, of the
arrival of a party altogether superior to any thing that had yet
appeared in her rooms. It is true, this was not expressed in words,
but it was made sufficiently obvious by the breathless haste and the
air of importance of Mrs. Jarvis' sister, who had received the news
from a servant, and who communicated it _propria persona_ to the
mistress of the house.
The simple, useful, graceful, almost indispensable usage of
announcing at the door, indispensable to those who receive much, and
where there is the risk of meeting people known to us by name and not
in person, is but little practised in America. Mrs. Jarvis would have
shrunk from such an innovation, had she known that elsewhere the
custom prevailed, but she was in happy ignorance on this point, as on
many others that were more essential to the much-coveted social
_eclat_ at which she aimed. When Mademoiselle Viefville appeared,
therefore, walking unsupported, as if she were out of leading-
strings, followed by Eve and Grace and the gentlemen of their party,
she at first supposed there was some mistake, and that her visitors
had got into the wrong house; there being an opposition party in the
"What brazen people!" whispered Mrs. Abijah Gross, who having removed
from an interior New-England village, fully two years previously,
fancied herself _an fait_ of all the niceties of breeding and social
tact. "There are positively two young ladies actually walking about
But it was not in the power of Mrs. Abijah Gross, with her audible
whisper and obvious sneer and laugh, to put down two such lovely
creatures as Eve and her cousin. The simple elegance of their attire,
the indescribable air of polish, particularly in the former, and the
surpassing beauty and modesty of mien of both, effectually silenced
criticism, after this solitary outbreaking of vulgarity. Mrs. Jarvis
recognized Eve and John Effingham, and her hurried compliments and
obvious delight proclaimed to all near her, the importance she
attached to their visit. Mademoiselle Viefville she had not
recollected in her present dress, and even she was covered with
expressions of delight and satisfaction.
"I wish particularly to present to you a friend that we all prize
exceedingly," said Eve, as soon as there was an opportunity of
speaking. "This is Captain Truck, the gentleman who commands the
Montauk, the ship of which you have heard so much. Ah! Mr. Jarvis,"
offering a hand to him with sincere cordiality, for Eve had known him
from childhood, and always sincerely respected him--"_you_ will
receive my friend with a cordial welcome, I am certain."
She then explained to Mr. Jarvis who the honest captain was, when the
former, first paying the proper respect to his other guests, led the
old sailor aside, and began an earnest conversation on the subject of
the recent passage.
John Effingham presented the baronet, whom Mrs. Jarvis, out of pure
ignorance of his rank in his own country, received with perfect
propriety and self-respect.
"We have very few people of note in town at present, I believe," said
Mrs. Jarvis to John Effingham. "A great traveller, a most interesting
man, is the only person of that sort I could obtain for this evening,
and I shall have great pleasure in introducing you. He is there in
that crowd, for he is in the greatest possible demand; he has seen so
much.--Mrs. Snow, with your permission--really the ladies are
thronging about him as if he were a Pawnee,--have the goodness to
step a little this way, Mr. Effingham--Miss Effingham--Mrs. Snow,
just touch his arm and let him know I wish to introduce a couple of
friends.--Mr. Dodge, Mr. John Effingham, Miss Effingham, Miss Van
Cortlandt. I hope you may succeed in getting him a little to
yourselves, ladies, for he can tell you all about Europe--saw the
king of France riding out to Nully, and has a prodigious knowledge of
things on the other side of the water."
It required a good deal of Eve's habitual self-command to prevent a
smile, but she had the tact and discretion to receive Steadfast as an
utter stranger. John Effingham bowed as haughtily as man can bow, and
then it was whispered that he and Mr. Dodge were rival travellers.
The distance of the former, coupled with an expression of countenance
that did not invite familiarity, drove nearly all the company over to
the side of Steadfast, who, it was soon settled, had seen much the
most of the world, understood society the best, and had moreover
travelled as far as Timbuctoo in Africa. The _clientele_ of Mr. Dodge
increased rapidly, as these reports spread in the rooms, and those
who had not read the "delightful letters published in the Active
Inquirer," furiously envied those who had enjoyed that high
"It is Mr. Dodge, the great traveller," said one young lady, who had
extricated herself from the crowd around the 'lion,' and taken a
station near Eve and Grace, and who, moreover, was a 'blue' in her
own set; "his beautiful and accurate descriptions have attracted
great attention in England, and it is said they have actually been
"Have you read them, Miss Brackett?"
"Not the letters themselves, absolutely; but all the remarks on them
in the last week's Hebdomad. Most delightful letters, judging from
those remarks; full of nature and point, and singularly accurate in
all their facts. In this respect they are invaluable, travellers do
fall into such extraordinary errors!"
"I hope, ma'am," said John Effingham, gravely, "that the gentleman
has avoided the capital mistake of commenting on things that actually
exist. Comments on its facts are generally esteemed by the people of
a country, impertinent and unjust; and your true way to succeed, is
to treat as freely as possible its imaginary peculiarities."
Miss Brackett had nothing to answer to this observation, the Hebdomad
having, among its other profundities, never seen proper to touch on
the subject. She went on praising the "Letters," however, not one of
which had she read, or would she read; for this young lady had
contrived to gain a high reputation in her own _coterie_ for taste
and knowledge in books, by merely skimming the strictures of those
who do not even skim the works they pretend to analyze.
Eve had never before been in so close contact with so much flippant
ignorance, and she could not but wonder at seeing a man like her
kinsman overlooked, in order that a man like Mr. Dodge should be
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