Home as Found
James Fenimore Cooper
Part 5 out of 9
contrasting admirably with the livelier tints of the various
deciduous trees. Here and there, some flowering shrub rendered the
picture gay, while masses of the rich chestnut, in blossom, lay in
clouds of natural glory among the dark tops of the pines.
The gentlemen pulled the light skiff fully a mile under this
overhanging foliage, occasionally frightening some migratory bird
from a branch, or a water-fowl from the narrow strand. At length,
John Effingham desired them to cease rowing, and managing the skiff
for a minute or two with the paddle which he had used in steering, he
desired the whole party to look up, announcing to them that they were
beneath the 'Silent Pine.'
A common exclamation of pleasure succeeded the upward glance; for it
is seldom that a tree is seen to more advantage than that which
immediately attracted every eye. The pine stood on the bank, with its
roots embedded in the earth, a few feet higher than the level of the
lake, but in such a situation as to bring the distance above the
water into the apparent height of the tree. Like all of its kind that
grows in the dense forests of America, its increase, for a thousand
years, had been upward; and it now stood in solitary glory, a
memorial of what the mountains which were yet so rich in vegetation
had really been in their days of nature and pride. For near a hundred
feet above the eye, the even round trunk was branchless, and then
commenced the dark-green masses of foliage, which clung around the
stem like smoke ascending in wreaths. The tall column-like tree had
inclined to wards the light when struggling among its fellows, and it
now so far overhung the lake, that its summit may have been some ten
or fifteen feet without the base. A gentle, graceful curve added to
the effect of this variation from the perpendicular, and infused
enough of the fearful into the grand, to render the picture sublime.
Although there was not a breath of wind on the lake, the currents
were strong enough above the forest to move this lofty object, and it
was just possible to detect a slight, graceful yielding of the very
uppermost boughs to the passing air.
"This pine is ill-named," cried Sir George Templemore, "for it is the
most eloquent tree eye of mine has ever looked on!"
"It is, indeed, eloquent," answered Eve; "one hears it speak even now
of the fierce storms that have whistled round its tops--of the
seasons that have passed since it extricated that verdant cap from
the throng of sisters that grew beneath it, and of all that has
passed on the Otsego, when this limpid lake lay, like a gem embedded
in the forest. When the Conqueror first landed in England, this tree
stood on the spot where it now stands! Here, then, is at last, an
"A true and regulated taste, Miss Effingham," said Paul, "has pointed
out to you one of the real charms of the country. Were we to think
less of the artificial, and more of our natural excellencies, we
should render ourselves less liable to criticism."
Eve was never inattentive when Paul spoke; and her colour heightened,
as he paid this compliment to her taste, but still her soft blue eye
was riveted on the pine.
"Silent it may be, in one respect, but it is, indeed, all eloquence
in another," she resumed, with a fervour that was not lessened by
Paul's remark. "That crest of verdure, which resembles a plume of
feathers, speaks of a thousand things to the imagination."
"I have never known a person of any poetry, who came under this
tree," said John Effingham, "that did not fall into this very train
of thought. I once brought a man celebrated for his genius here, and,
after gazing for a minute or two at the high, green tuft that tops
the tree, he exclaimed, 'that mass of green waved there in the fierce
light when Columbus first ventured into the unknown sea.' It is,
indeed, eloquent; for it tells the same glowing tale to all who
approach it--a tale fraught with feeling and recollections."
"And yet its silence is, after all, its eloquence," added Paul; "and
the name is not so misplaced as one might at first think."
"It probably obtained its name from some fancied contrast to the
garrulous rocks that lie up yonder, half concealed by the forest. If
you will ply the oars, gentlemen, we will now hold a little communion
with the spirit of the Leather-stocking."
The young men complied; and in about five minutes, the skiff was off
in the lake, at the distance of fifty rods from the shore, where the
whole mountainside came at one glance into the view. Here they lay on
their oars, and John Effingham called out to the rocks a "good
morning," in a clear distinct voice. The mocking sounds were thrown
back again, with a closeness of resemblance that actually startled
the novice. Then followed other calls and other repetitions of the
echoes, which did not lose the minutest intonation of the voice.
"This actually surpasses the celebrated echoes of the Rhine," cried
the delighted Eve; "for, though those do give the strains of the
bugle so clearly, I do not think they answer to the voice with so
"You are very right, Eve," replied her kinsman, "for I can recall no
place where so perfect and accurate an echo is to be heard as at
these speaking rocks. By increasing our distance to half a mile, and
using a bugle, as I well know, from actual experiment, we should get
back entire passages of an air. The interval between the sound and
the echo, too, would be distinct, and would give time for an
undivided attention. Whatever may be said of the 'pine,' these rocks
are most aptly named; and if the spirit of Leather-stocking has any
concern with the matter, he is a mocking spirit."
John Effingham now looked at his watch, and then he explained to the
party a pleasure he had in store for them. On a sort of small, public
promenade, that lay at the point where the river flowed out of the
lake, stood a rude shell of a building that was called the "gun-
house." Here, a speaking picture of the entire security of the
country, from foes within as well as from foes without, were kept two
or three pieces of field artillery, with doors so open that any one
might enter the building, and even use the guns at will, although
they properly belonged to the organized corps of the state.
One of these guns had been sent a short distance down the valley; and
John Effingham informed his companions that they might look
momentarily for its reports to arouse the echoes of the mountains. He
was still speaking when the gun was fired, its muzzle being turned
eastward. The sound first reached the side of the Vision, abreast of
the village, whence the reverberations reissued, and rolled along the
range, from cave to cave, and cliff to cliff, and wood to wood, until
they were lost, like distant thunder, two or three leagues to the
northward. The experiment was thrice repeated, and always with the
same magnificent effect, the western hills actually echoing the
echoes of the eastern mountains, like the dying strains of some
"Such a locality would be a treasure in the vicinity of a melo-
dramatic theatre," said Paul, laughing, "for certainly, no artificial
thunder I have ever heard has equalled this. This sheet of water
might even receive a gondola."
"And yet, I fear one accustomed to the boundless horizon of the
ocean, might in time weary of it," answered John Effingham,
Paul made no answer; and the party rowed away in silence.
"Yonder is the spot where we have so long been accustomed to resort
for Pic-Nics," said Eve, pointing out a lovely place, that was
beautifully shaded by old oaks, and on which stood a rude house that
was much dilapidated, and indeed injured, by the hands of man. John
Effingham smiled, as his cousin showed the place to her companions,
promising them an early and a nearer view of its beauties.
"By the way, Miss Effingham," he said, "I suppose you flatter
yourself with being the heiress of that desirable retreat?"
"It is very natural that, at some day, though I trust a very distant
one, I should succeed to that which belongs to my dear father."
"Both natural and legal, my fair cousin; but you are yet to learn
that there is a power that threatens to rise up and dispute your
"What power--human power, at least--can dispute the lawful claim of
an owner to his property? That Point has been ours ever since
civilized man has dwelt among these hills; who will presume to rob us
"You will be much surprised to discover that there is such a power,
and that there is actually a disposition to exercise it. The public--
the all-powerful omnipotent, overruling, law-making, law-breaking
public--has a passing caprice to possess itself of your beloved
Point; and Ned Effingham must show unusual energy, or it will get
"Are you serious, cousin Jack?"
"As serious as the magnitude of the subject can render a responsible
being, as Mr. Dodge would say."
Eve said no more, but she looked vexed, and remained almost silent
until they landed, when she hastened to seek her father, with a view
to communicate what she had heard. Mr. Effingham listened to his
daughter, as he always did, with tender interest; and when she had
done, he kissed her glowing cheek, bidding her not to believe that
which she seemed so seriously to dread, possible.
"But, cousin John would not trifle with me on such a subject,
father," Eve continued; "he knows how much I prize all those little
heir-looms that are connected with the affections."
"We can inquire further into the affair, my child, if it be your
desire; ring for Pierre, if you please."
Pierre answered, and a message was sent to Mr. Bragg, requiring his
presence in the library.
Aristabulus appeared, by no means in the best humour, for he disliked
having been omitted in the late excursion on the lake, fancying that
he had a community-right to share in all his neighbour's amusements,
though he had sufficient self-command to conceal his feelings.
"I wish to know, sir," Mr. Effingham commenced, without introduction,
"whether there can be any mistake concerning the ownership of the
Fishing Point on the west side of the lake."
"Certainly not, sir; it belongs to the public."
Mr. Effingham's cheek glowed, and he looked astonished: but he
"The public! Do you gravely affirm, Mr. Bragg, that the public
pretends to claim that Point?"
"Claim, Mr. Effingham! as long as I have resided in this county, I
have never heard its right disputed."
"Your residence in this county, sir, is not of very ancient date, and
nothing is easier than that _you_ may be mistaken. I confess some
curiosity to know in what manner the public has acquired its title to
the spot. You are a lawyer, Mr. Bragg, and may give an intelligible
account of it."
"Why, sir, your father gave it to them in his lifetime. Every body,
in all this region, will tell you as much as this."
"Do you suppose, Mr. Bragg, there is any body in all this region who
will swear to the fact? Proof, you well know, is very requisite even
to obtain justice."
"I much question, sir, if there be any body in all this region that
will not swear to the fact. It is the common tradition of the whole
country; and, to be frank with you, sir, there is a little
displeasure, because Mr. John Effingham has talked of giving private
entertainments on the Point."
"This, then, only shows how idly and inconsiderately the traditions
of the country take their rise. But, as I wish to understand all the
points of the case, do me the favour to walk into the village, and
inquire of those whom you think the best informed in the matter, what
they know of the Point, in order that I may regulate my course
accordingly. Be particular, if you please, on the subject of title,
as one would not wish to move in the dark."
Aristabulus quitted the house immediately, and Eve, perceiving that
things were in the right train, left her father alone to meditate on
what had just passed. Mr. Effingham walked up and down his library
for some time, much disturbed, for the spot in question was
identified with all his early feelings and recollections; and if
there were a foot of land on earth, to which he was more attached
than to all others, next to his immediate residence, it was this.
Still, he could not conceal from himself, in despite of his
opposition to John Effingham's sarcasms, that his native country had
undergone many changes since he last resided in it, and that some of
these changes were quite sensibly for the worse. The spirit of
misrule was abroad, and the lawless and unprincipled held bold
language, when it suited their purpose to intimidate. As he ran over
in his mind, however, the facts of the case, and the nature of his
right, he smiled to think that any one should contest it, and sat
down to his writing, almost forgetting that there had been any
question at all on the unpleasant subject.
Aristabulus was absent for several hours, nor did he return until Mr.
Effingham was dressed for dinner, and alone in the library, again,
having absolutely lost all recollection of the commission he had
given his agent.
"It is as I told you, sir--the public insists that it owns the Point;
and I feel it my duty to say, Mr. Effingham, that the public is
determined to maintain its claim."
"Then, Mr. Bragg, it is proper I should tell the public that it is
_not_ the owner of the Point, but that _I_ am its owner, and that I
am determined to maintain _my_ claim."
"It is hard to kick against the pricks, Mr. Effingham."
"It is so, sir, as the public will discover, if it persevere in
invading a private right."
"Why, sir, some of those with whom I have conversed have gone so far
as to desire me to tell you--I trust my motive will not be
"If you have any communication to make, Mr. Bragg, do it without
reserve. It is proper I should know the truth exactly."
"Well, then, sir, I am the bearer of something like a defiance; the
people wish you to know that they hold your right cheaply, and that
they laugh at it. Not to mince matters, they defy you."
"I thank you for this frankness, Mr. Bragg, and increases my respect
for your character. Affairs are now at such a pass, that it is
necessary to act. If you will amuse yourself with a book for a
moment, I shall have further occasion for your kindness."
Aristabulus did not read, for he was too much filled with wonder at
seeing a man so coolly set about contending with that awful public
which he himself as habitually deferred to, as any Asiatic slave
defers to his monarch. Indeed, nothing but his being sustained by
that omnipotent power, as he viewed the power of the public to be,
had emboldened him to speak so openly to his employer, for
Aristabulus felt a secret confidence that, right or wrong, it was
always safe in America to make the most fearless professions in
favour of the great body of the community. In the mean time, Mr.
Effingham wrote a simple advertisement, against trespassing on the
property in question, and handed it to the other, with a request that
he would have it inserted in the number of the village paper that was
to appear next morning. Mr. Bragg took the advertisement, and went to
execute the duty without comment.
The evening arrived before Mr. Effingham was again alone, when, being
by himself in the library once more, Mr. Bragg entered, full of his
subject. He was followed by John Effingham, who had gained an inkling
of what had passed.
"I regret to say, Mr. Effingham," Aristabulus commenced, "that your
advertisement has created one of the greatest excitements it has ever
been my ill-fortune to witness in Templeton."
"All of which ought to be very encouraging to us, Mr.. Bragg, as men
under excitement are usually wrong."
"Very true, sir, as regards individual excitement, but this is a
"I am not at all aware that the fact, in the least alters the case.
If one excited man is apt to do silly things, half a dozen backers
will be very likely to increase his folly."
Aristabulus listened with wonder, for excitement was one of the means
for effecting public objects, so much practised by men of his habits,
that it had never crossed his mind any single individual could be
indifferent to its effect. To own the truth, he had anticipated so
much unpopularity, from his unavoidable connexion with the affair, as
to have contributed himself in producing the excitement, with the
hope of "choking Mr. Effingham off," as he had elegantly expressed it
to one of his intimates, in the vernacular of the country.
"A public excitement is a powerful engine, Mr. Effingham!" he
exclaimed, in a sort of politico pious horror.
"I am fully aware, sir, that it may be even a fearfully powerful
engine. Excited men, acting in masses, compose what are called mobs,
and have committed a thousand excesses."
"Your advertisement is, to the last degree, disrelished; to be very
sincere, it is awfully unpopular!"
"I suppose it is always what you term an unpopular act, so far as the
individuals opposed are concerned, to resist aggression."
"But they call your advertisement aggression, sir."
"In that simple fact exist all the merits of the question. If I own
this property, the public, or that portion of it which is connected
with this affair, are aggressors; and so much more in the wrong that
they are many against one; if _they_ own the property, I am not only
wrong, but very indiscreet."
The calmness with which Mr. Effingham spoke had an effect on
Aristabulus, and, for a moment, he was staggered. It was only for a
moment, however, as the pains and penalties of unpopularity presented
themselves afresh to an imagination that had been so long accustomed
to study the popular caprice, that it had got to deem the public
favour the one great good of life.
"But _they_ say, _they_ own the Point, Mr. Effingham."
"And _I_ say, they do _not_ own the Point, Mr. Bragg; never _did_ own
it; and, with my consent, never _shall_ own it."
"This is purely a matter of fact," observed John Effingham, "and I
confess I am curious to know how or whence this potent public derives
its title. You are lawyer enough, Mr. Bragg, to know that the public
can hold property only by use, or by especial statute. Now, under
which title does this claim present itself."
"First, by use, sir, and then by especial gift."
"The use, you are aware, must be adverse, or as opposed to the title
of the other claimants. Now, I am a living witness that my late uncle
_permitted_ the public to use this Point, and that the public
accepted the conditions. Its use, therefore, has not been adverse,
or, at least, not for a time sufficient to make title. Every hour
that my cousin has _permitted_ the public to enjoy his property, adds
to his right, as well as to the obligation conferred on that public,
and increases the duty of the latter to cease intruding, whenever he
desires it. If there is an especial gift, as I understand you to say,
from my late uncle, there must also be a law to enable the public to
hold, or a trustee; which is the fact?"
"I admit, Mr. John Effingham, that I have seen neither deed nor law,
and I doubt if the latter exist. Still the public _must_ have some
claim, for it is impossible that every body should be mistaken."
"Nothing is easier, nor any thing more common, than for whole
communities to be mistaken, and more particularly when they commence
While his cousin was speaking, Mr. Effingham went to a secretary, and
taking out a large bundle of papers, he laid it down on the table,
unfolding several parchment deeds, to which massive seals, bearing
the arms of the late colony, as well as those of England, were
"Here are my titles, sir," he said, addressing Aristabulus pointedly;
"if the public has a better, let it be produced, and I shall at once
submit to its claim."
"No one doubts that the King, through his authorized agent, the
Governor of the colony of New-York, granted this estate to your
predecessor, Mr. Effingham; or that it descended legally to your
immediate parent; but all contend that your parent gave this spot to
the public, as a spot of public resort."
"I am glad that the question is narrowed down within limits that are
so easily examined. What evidence is there of this intention, on the
part of my late father?"
"Common report; I have talked with twenty people in the village, and
they all agree that the 'Point' has been used by the public, as
public property, from time immemorial."
"Will you be so good, Mr. Bragg, as to name some of those who affirm
Mr. Bragg complied, naming quite the number of persons he had
mentioned, with a readiness that proved he thought he was advancing
testimony of weight.
"Of all the names you have mentioned," returned Mr. Effingham, "I
never heard but three, and these are the names of mere boys. The
first dozen are certainly the names of persons who can know no more
of this village than they have gleaned in the last few years; and
several of them, I understand, have dwelt among us but a few weeks;
"Have I not told you, Ned," interrupted John Effingham, "that, an
American 'always' means eighteen months, and that 'time immemorial'
is only since the last general crisis in the money market!"
"The persons I have mentioned compose a part of the population, sir,"
added Mr. Bragg, "and, one and all, they are ready to swear that your
father, by some means or other, they are not very particular as to
minutiae, gave them the right to use this property."
"They are mistaken, and I should be sorry that any one among them
should swear to such a falsehood. But here are my titles--let them
show better, or, if they can, any, indeed."
"Perhaps your father abandoned the place to the public; this might
make a good claim."
"That he did not, I am a living proof to the contrary; he left it to
his heirs at his death, and I myself exercised full right of
ownership over it, until I went abroad. I did not travel with it in
my pocket, sir, it is true; but I left it to the protection of the
laws, which, I trust, are as available to the rich as to the poor,
although this is a free country."
"Well, sir, I suppose a jury must determine the point, as you seem
firm; though I warn you, Mr. Effingham, as one who knows his country,
that a verdict, in the face of a popular feeling, is rather a
hopeless matter. If they prove that your late father intended to
abandon or give this property to the public, your case will be lost."
Mr. Effingham looked among the papers a moment, and selecting one, he
handed it to Mr. Bragg, first pointing out to his notice a particular
"This, sir, is my late father's will," Mr. Effingham said mildly;
"and, in that particular clause, you will find that he makes a
special devise of this very 'Point,' leaving it to his heirs, in such
terms as to put any intention to give it to the public quite out of
the question. This, at least, is the latest evidence I, his only son,
executor, and heir possess of his final wishes; if that wondering and
time-immemorial public of which you speak, has a better, I wait with
patience that it may be produced."
The composed manner of Mr. Effingham had deceived Aristabulus, who
did not anticipate any proof so completely annihilating to the
pretensions of the public, as that he now held in his hand. It was a
simple, brief devise, disposing of the piece of property in question,
and left it without dispute, that Mr. Effingham had succeeded to all
the rights of his father, with no reservation or condition of any
"This is very extraordinary!" exclaimed Mr. Bragg, when he had read
the clause seven times, each perusal contributing to leave the case
still clearer in favour of his employer, the individual, and still
stronger against the hoped-for future employers, the people. "The
public ought to know of this bequest of the late Mr. Effingham."
"I think it ought, sir, before it pretended to deprive his child of
his property; or, rather, it ought to be certain, at least, that
there was no such devise."
"You will excuse me, Mr. Effingham, but I think it is incumbent on a
private citizen, in a case of this sort, when the public has taken up
a wrong notion, as I now admit is clearly the fact as regards the
Point, to enlighten it, and to inform it that it does not own the
"This has been done already, Mr. Bragg, in the advertisement you had
the goodness to carry to the printers, although I deny that there
exists any such obligation."
"But, sir, they object to the mode you have chosen to set them
"The mode is usual, I believe in the case of trespasses."
"They expect something different, sir, in an affair in which the
"Wrong," put in John Effingham, pointedly. "I have heard something of
this out of doors, Ned, and blame you for your moderation. Is it true
that you had told several of your neighbours that you have no wish to
prevent them from using the Point, but that your sole object is
merely to settle the question of right, and to prevent intrusions on
your family when it is enjoying its own place of retirement?"
"Certainly, John, my only wish is to preserve the property for those
to whom it is especially devised, to allow those who have the best,
nay, the only right to it, its undisturbed possession, occasionally,
and to prevent any more of that injury to the trees that has been
committed by some of those rude men, who always fancy themselves so
completely all the public, as to be masters, in their own particular
persons, whenever the public has any claim. I can have no wish to
deprive my neighbours of the innocent pleasure of visiting the Point,
though I am fully determined they shall not deprive me of my
"You are far more indulgent than I should be, or perhaps, than you
will be yourself, when you read this."
As John Effingham spoke, he handed his kinsman a small handbill,
which purported to call a meeting for that night, of the inhabitants
of Templeton, to resist his arrogant claim to the disputed property.
This handbill had the usual marks of a feeble and vulgar malignancy
about it, affecting to call Mr. Effingham, "_one_ Mr. Effingham," and
it was anonymous.
"This is scarcely worth our attention, John," said Mr. Effingham,
mildly. "Meetings of this sort cannot decide a legal title, and no
man who respects himself will be the tool of so pitiful an attempt to
frighten a citizen from maintaining his rights."
"I agree with you, as respects the meeting, which has been conceived
in ignorance and low malice, and will probably end, as all such
efforts end, in ridicule. But----"
"Excuse me, Mr. John," interrupted Aristabulus, "there is an awful
excitement! Some have even spoken of Lynching!"
"Then," said Mr. Effingham, "it does, indeed, require that we should
be more firm. Do _you_, sir, know of any person who has dared to use
such a menace?"
Aristabulus quailed before the stern eye of Mr. Effingham, and he
regretted having communicated so much, though he had communicated
nothing but the truth. He stammered out an obscure and half-
intelligible explanation, and proposed to attend the meeting in
person, in order that he might be in the way of understanding the
subject, without falling into the danger of mistake. To this Mr.
Effingham assented, as he felt too indignant at this outrage on all
his rights, whether as a citizen or a man, to wish to pursue the
subject with his agent that night. Aristabulus departed, and John
Effingham remained closeted with his kinsman until the family
retired. During this long interview, the former communicated many
things to the latter, in relation to this very affair, of which the
owner of the property, until then, had been profoundly ignorant.
"There shall be, in England, seven half-penny loaves sold for a
penny, the three-hooped pot shall have ten hoops; and I will make
it felony to drink small beer: all the realm shall be in common,
and, in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to grass."--JACK CADE.
Though the affair of the Point continued to agitate the village of
Templeton next day, and for many days, it was little remembered in
the Wigwam. Confident of his right, Mr. Effingham, though naturally
indignant at the abuse of his long liberality, through which alone
the public had been permitted to frequent the place, and this too,
quite often, to his own discomfort and disappointment, had dismissed
the subject temporarily from his mind, and was already engaged in his
ordinary pursuits. Not so, however, with Mr. Bragg. Agreeably to
promise, he had attended the meeting; and now he seemed to regulate
all his movements by a sort of mysterious self-importance, as if the
repository of some secret of unusual consequence. No one regarded his
manner, however; for Aristabulus, and his secrets, and opinions, were
all of too little value, in the eyes of most of the party, to attract
peculiar attention. He found a sympathetic listener in Mr. Dodge,
happily; that person having been invited, through the courtesy of Mr.
Effingham, to pass the day with those in whose company, though very
unwillingly on the editor's part certainly, he had gone through so
many dangerous trials. These two then, soon became intimate, and to
have seen their shrugs, significant whisperings, and frequent
conferences in corners, one who did not know them, might have fancied
their shoulders burthened with the weight of the state.
But all this pantomime, which was intended to awaken curiosity, was
lost on the company in general. The ladies, attended by Paul and the
Baronet, proceeded into the forest on foot, for a morning's walk,
while the two Messrs. Effinghams continued to read the daily
journals, that were received from town each morning, with a most
provoking indifference. Neither Aristabulus, nor Mr. Dodge, could
resist any longer; and, after exhausting their ingenuity, in the vain
effort to induce one of the two gentlemen to question them in
relation to the meeting of the previous night, the desire to be doing
fairly overcame their affected mysteriousness, and a formal request
was made to Mr. Effingham to give them an audience in the library. As
the latter, who suspected the nature of the interview, requested his
kinsman to make one in it, the four were soon alone, in the apartment
so often named.
Even now, that his own request for the interview was granted,
Aristabulus hesitated about proceeding until a mild intimation from
Mr. Effingham that he was ready to hear his communication, told the
agent that it was too late to change his determination.
"I attended the meeting last night, Mr. Effingham," Aristabulus
commenced, "agreeably to our arrangement, and I feel the utmost
regret at being compelled to lay the result before a gentleman for
whom I entertain so profound a respect."
"There was then a meeting?" said Mr. Effingham, inclining his body
slightly, by way of acknowledgment for the other's compliment.
"There was, sir; and I think, Mr. Dodge, we may say an overflowing
"The public was fairly represented," returned the editor, "as many as
fifty or sixty having been present."
"The public has a perfect right to meet, and to consult on its claims
to anything it may conceive itself entitled to enjoy," observed Mr.
Effingham; "I can have no possible objection to such a course, though
I think it would have consulted its own dignity more, had it insisted
on being convoked by more respectable persons than those who, I
understand, were foremost in this affair, and in terms better suited
to its own sense of propriety."
Aristabulus glanced at Mr. Dodge, and Mr. Dodge glanced back at Mr.
Bragg, for neither of these political mushrooms could conceive of the
dignity and fair-mindedness with which a gentleman could view an
affair of this nature.
"They passed a set of resolutions, Mr. Effingham;" Aristabulus
resumed, with the gravity with which he ever spoke of things of this
nature. "A set of resolutions, sir!"
"That was to be expected," returned his employer, smiling; "the
Americans are a set-of-resolutions-passing people. Three cannot get
together, without naming a chairman and secretary, and a resolution
is as much a consequence of such an 'organization,'--I believe that
is the approved word,--as an egg is the accompaniment of the cackling
of a hen."
"But, sir, you do not yet know the nature of those resolutions!"
"Very true, Mr. Bragg; that is a piece of knowledge I am to have the
pleasure of obtaining from you."
Again Aristabulus glanced at Steadfast, and Steadfast threw back the
look of surprise, for, to both it was matter of real astonishment
that any man should be so indifferent to the resolutions of a meeting
that had been regularly organized, with a chairman and secretary at
its head, and which so unequivocally professed to be the public.
"I am reluctant to discharge this duty, Mr. Effingham, but as you
insist on its performance it must be done. In the first place, they
resolved that your father meant to give them the Point."
"A decision that must clearly settle the matter, and which will
destroy all my father's own resolutions on the same subject. Did they
stop at the Point, Mr. Bragg or did they resolve that my father also
gave them his wife and children?"
"No, sir, nothing was said concerning the latter."
"I cannot properly express my gratitude for the forbearance, as they
had just as good a right to pass this resolution, as to pass the
"The public's is an awful power, Mr. Effingham!"
"Indeed it is, sir, but fortunately, that of the republic is still
more awful, and I shall look to the latter for support, in this
'crisis'--that is the word, too, is it not, Mr. John Effingham?"
"If you mean a change of administration, the upsetting of a stage, or
the death of a cart-horse; they are all equally crisises, in the
"Well, Mr. Bragg, having resolved that it knew my late father's
intentions better than he knew them himself, as is apparent from the
mistake he made in his will, what next did the public dispose of, in
the plenitude of its power?"
"It resolved, sir, that it was your duty to carry out the intentions
of your father."
"In that, then, we are perfectly of a mind; as the public will most
probably discover, before we get through with this matter. This is
one of the most pious resolutions I ever knew the public to pass. Did
it proceed any farther?"
Mr. Bragg, notwithstanding the long-encouraged truckling to the sets
of men, whom he was accustomed to dignify with the name of the
public, had a profound deference or the principles, character, and
station of Mr. Effingham, that no sophistry, or self-encouragement in
the practices of social confusion, could overcome; and he paused
before he communicated the next resolution to his employers. But
perceiving that both the latter and his cousin were quietly waiting
to hear it, he was fain to overcome his scruples.
"They have openly libelled you, by passing resolutions declaring you
to be odious."
"That, indeed, is a strong measure, and, in the interest of good
manners and of good morals, it may call for a rebuke. No one can care
less than myself, Mr. Bragg, for the opinions of those who have
sufficiently demonstrated that their opinions are of no value, by the
heedless manner in which they have permitted themselves to fall into
this error; but it is proceeding too far, when a few members of the
community presume to take these liberties with a private individual,
and that, moreover, in a case affecting a pretended claim of their
own; and I desire you to tell those concerned, that if they dare to
publish their resolution declaring me to be odious, I will teach them
what they now do not appear to know, that we live in a country of
laws. I shall not prosecute them, but I shall indict them for the
offence, and I hope this is plainly expressed."
Aristabulus stood aghast! To indict the public was a step he had
never heard of before, and he began to perceive that the question
actually had two sides. Still, his awe of public meetings, and his
habitual regard for popularity, induced him not to give up the
matter, without another struggle.
"They have already ordered their proceedings to be published, Mr.
Effingham!" he said, as if such an order were not to be
"I fancy, sir, that when it comes to the issue, and the penalties of
a prosecution present themselves, their readers will begin to
recollect their individuality, and to think less of their public
character. They who hunt in droves, like wolves, are seldom very
valiant when singled out from their pack. The end will show."
"I heartily wish this unpleasant affair might be amicably settled,"
"One might, indeed, fancy so," observed John Effingham, "since no one
likes to be persecuted."
"But, Mr. John, the public thinks _itself_ persecuted, in this
"The term, as applied to a body that not only makes, but which
executes, the law, is so palpably absurd, that I am surprised any man
can presume to use it. But, Mr. Bragg, you have seen documents that
cannot err, and know that the public has not the smallest right to
this bit of land."
"All very true, sir; but you will please to remember, that the people
do not know what I now know."
"And you will please to remember, sir, that when people choose to act
affirmatively, in so high-handed a manner as this, they are _bound_
to know what they are about. Ignorance in such a matter, is like the
drunkard's plea of intoxication; it merely makes the offence worse."
"Do you not think, Mr. John, that Mr. Effingham might have acquainted
these citizens with the real state of the case? Are the people so
very wrong that they have fallen into a mistake?"
"Since you ask this question plainly, Mr. Bragg, it shall be answered
with equal sincerity. Mr. Effingham is a man of mature years; the
known child, executor, and heir of one who, it is admitted all round,
was the master of the controverted property. Knowing his own
business, this Mr. Effingham, in sight of the grave of his fathers,
beneath the paternal roof, has the intolerable impudence--"
"Arrogance is the word, Jack," said Mr. Effingham, smiling.
"Aye, the intolerable arrogance to suppose that his own is his own;
and this he dares to affirm, without having had the politeness to
send his title-deeds, and private papers, round to those who have
been so short a time in the place, that they might well know every
thing that has occurred in it for the last half century. Oh thou
naughty, arrogant fellow, Ned!"
"Mr. John, you appear to forget that the public has more claims to be
treated with attention, than a single individual. If it has fallen
into error, it ought to be undeceived."
"No doubt, sir; and I advise Mr. Effingham to send you, his agent, to
every man, woman and child in the county, with the Patent of the
King, all the mesne conveyances and wills, in your pocket, in order
that you may read them at length to each individual, with a view that
every man, woman and child, may be satisfied that he or she is not
the owner of Edward Effingham's lands!"
"Nay, sir, a shorter process might be adopted."
"It might, indeed, sir, and such a process has been adopted by my
cousin, in giving the usual notice, in the newspaper, against
trespassing. But, Mr. Bragg, you must know that I took great pains,
three years since, when repairing this house, to correct the mistake
on this very point, into which I found that your immaculate public
had fallen, through its disposition to know more of other people's
affairs, than those concerned knew of themselves."
Aristabulus said no more, but gave the matter up in despair. On
quitting the house, he proceeded forthwith, to inform those most
interested of the determination of Mr. Effingham, not to be trampled
on by any pretended meeting of the public. Common sense, not to say
common honesty, began to resume its sway, and prudence put in its
plea, by way of applying the corrective. Both he and Mr. Dodge,
however, agreed that there was an unheard-of temerity in thus
resisting the people, and this too without a commensurate object, as
the pecuniary value of the disputed point was of no material
consequence to either party.
The reader is not, by any means, to suppose that Aristabulus Bragg
and Steadfast Dodge belonged to the same variety of the human
species, in consequence of their unity of sentiment in this affair,
and certain other general points of resemblance in their manner and
modes of thinking. As a matter of necessity each partook of those
features of caste, condition, origin, and association that
characterize their particular set; but when it came to the nicer
distinctions that mark true individuality, it would not have been
easy to find two men more essentially different in character. The
first was bold, morally and physically, aspiring, self-possessed,
shrewd, singularly adapted to succeed in his schemes where he knew
the parties, intelligent, after his tastes, and apt. Had it been his
fortune to be thrown earlier into a better sphere, the same natural
qualities that rendered him so expert in his present situation, would
have conduced to his improvement, and most probably would have formed
a gentleman, a scholar, and one who could have contributed largely to
the welfare and tastes of his fellow-creatures. That such was not his
fate, was more his misfortune than his fault, for his plastic
character had readily taken the impression of those things that from
propinquity alone, pressed hardest on it. On the other hand Steadfast
was a hypocrite by nature, cowardly, envious, and malignant; and
circumstances had only lent their aid to the natural tendencies of
his disposition. That two men so differently constituted at their
births, should meet, as it might be in a common centre, in so many of
their habits and opinions, was merely the result of accident and
Among the other points of resemblance between these two persons, was
that fault of confounding the cause with the effects of the peculiar
institutions under which they had been educated and lived. Because
the law gave to the public, that authority which, under other
systems, is entrusted either to one, or to the few they believed the
public was invested with far more power than a right understanding of
their own principles would have shown. In a word, both these persons
made a mistake which is getting to be too common in America, that of
supposing the institutions of the country were all means and no end.
Under this erroneous impression they saw only the machinery of the
government, becoming entirely forgetful that the power which was
given to the people collectively, was only so given to secure to them
as perfect a liberty as possible, in their characters of individuals.
Neither had risen sufficiently above vulgar notions, to understand
that public opinion, in order to be omnipotent, or even formidable
beyond the inflictions of the moment, must be right; and that, if a
solitary man renders himself contemptible by taking up false notions
inconsiderately and unjustly, bodies of men, falling into the same
error, incur the same penalties, with the additional stigma of having
acted as cowards.
There was also another common mistake into which Messrs. Bragg and
Dodge had permitted themselves to fall, through the want of a proper
distinction between principles. Resisting the popular will, on the
part of an individual, they considered arrogance and aristocracy,
_per se_, without at all entering into the question of the right, or
the wrong. The people, rightly enough in the general signification of
the term, they deemed to be sovereign; and they belonged to a
numerous class, who view disobedience to the sovereign in a
democracy, although it be in his illegal caprices, very much as the
subject of a despot views disobedience to his prince.
It is scarcely necessary to say, that Mr. Effingham and his cousin
viewed these matters differently. Clear headed, just-minded, and
liberal in all his practices, the former, in particular, was greatly
pained by the recent occurrence; and he paced his library in silence,
for several minutes after Mr. Bragg and his companion had withdrawn,
really too much grieved to speak.
"This is, altogether, a most extraordinary procedure, John," he at
length observed, "and, it strikes me, that it is but an indifferent
reward for the liberality with which I have permitted others to use
my property, these thirty years; often, very often, as you well know,
to my own discomfort, and to that of my friends."
"I have told you, Ned, that you were not to expect the America on
your return, that you left behind you on your departure for Europe. I
insist that no country has so much altered for the worse, in so short
"That unequalled pecuniary prosperity should sensibly impair the
manners of what is termed the world, By introducing suddenly lame
bodies of uninstructed and untrained men and women into society, is a
natural consequence of obvious causes; that it should corrupt morals,
even, we have a right to expect, for we are taught to believe it the
most corrupting influence under which men can live; but, I confess, I
did not expect to see the day, when a body of strangers, birds of
passage, creatures of an hour, should assume a right to call on the
old and long-established inhabitants of a country, to prove their
claims to their possessions, and this, too, in an unusual and
unheard-of manner, under the penalty of being violently deprived of
"Long established!" repeated John Effingham, laughing; "what do you
term long established? Have you not been absent a dozen years, and do
not these people reduce everything to the level of their own habits.
I suppose, now, you fancy you can go to Rome or Jerusalem, or
Constantinople, and remain four or five lustres, and then come coolly
back to Templeton. and, on taking possession of this house again,
call yourself an old resident."
"I certainly do suppose I have that right. How many English,
Russians, and Germans, did we meet in Italy, the residents of years,
who still retained all their natural and local right and feelings!"
"Ay, that is in countries where society is permanent, and men get
accustomed to look on the same objects, hear the same names, and see
the same faces for their entire lives. I have had the curiosity to
inquire, and have ascertained that none of the old, permanent
families have been active in this affair of the Point, but that all
the clamour has been made by those you call the birds of passage. But
what of that? These people fancy everything reduced to the legal six
months required to vote; and that rotation in persons is as necessary
to republicanism as rotation in office."
"Is is not extraordinary that persons who can know so little on the
subject, should be thus indiscreet and positive?"
"It is not extraordinary in America. Look about you, Ned, and you
will see adventurers uppermost everywhere; in the government, in your
towns, in your villages, in the country, even. We are a nation of
changes. Much of this, I admit, is the fair consequence of legitimate
causes, as an immense region, in forest, cannot be peopled on any
other conditions. But this necessity has infected the entire national
character, and men get to be impatient of any sameness, even though
it be useful. Everything goes to confirm this feeling, instead of
opposing it. The constant recurrences of the elections accustom men
to changes in their public functionaries; the great increase in the
population brings new faces; and the sudden accumulations of property
place new men in conspicuous stations. The architecture of the
country is barely becoming sufficiently respectable to render it
desirable to preserve the buildings, without which we shall have no
monuments to revere. In short, everything contributes to produce such
a state of things, painful as it may be to all of any feeling, and
little to oppose it."
"You colour highly, Jack; and no picture loses in tints, in being
retouched by you."
"Look into the first paper that offers, and you will see the _young
men_ of the country hardily invited to meet by themselves, to consult
concerning public affairs, as if they were impatient of the counsels
and experience of their fathers. No country can prosper, where the
ordinary mode of transacting the business connected with the root of
the government, commences with this impiety."
"This is a disagreeable feature in the national character, certainly;
but we must remember the arts employed by the designing to practise
on the inexperienced."
"Had I a son, who presumed to denounce the wisdom and experience of
his father, in this disrespectful mariner, I would disinherit the
"Ah, Jack, bachelor's children are notoriously well educated, and
well mannered. We will hope, however, that time will bring its
changes also, and that one of them will be a greater constancy in
persons, things, and the affections."
"Time _will_ bring its changes, Ned; but all of them that are
connected with individual rights, as opposed to popular caprice, or
popular interests, are likely to be in the wrong direction."
"The tendency is certainly to substitute popularity for the right,
but we must take the good with the bad; Even you, Jack, would not
exchange this popular oppression for any other system under which you
"I don't know that--I don't know that. Of all tyranny, a vulgar
tyranny is to me the most odious."
"You used to admire the English system, but I think observation has
lessened your particular admiration in that quarter;" said Mr.
Effingham, smiling in a way that his cousin perfectly understood.
"Harkee, Ned; we all take up false notions in youth, and this was one
of mine; but, of the two, I should prefer the cold, dogged domination
of English law, with its fruits, the heartlessness of a
sophistication without parallel, to being trampled on by every arrant
blackguard that may happen to traverse this valley, in his wanderings
after dollars. There is one thing you yourself must admit; the public
is a little too apt to neglect the duties it ought to discharge, and
to assume duties it has no right to fulfil."
This remark ended the discourse.
Her breast was a brave palace, a broad street, Where all heroic,
ample thoughts did meet, Where nature such a tenement had ta'en,
That other souls, to hers, dwelt in 'a lane.
The village of Templeton, it has been already intimated, was a
miniature town. Although it contained within the circle of its
houses, half-a-dozen residences with grounds, and which were
dignified with names, as has been also said, it did not cover a
surface of more than a mile square; that disposition to
concentration, which is as peculiar to an American town, as the
disposition to diffusion is peculiar to the country population, and
which seems almost to prescribe that a private dwelling shall have
but three windows in front, and a _facade_ of twenty-five feet,
having presided at the birth of this spot, as well as at the birth of
so many of its predecessors and contemporaries. In one of its more
retired streets (for Templeton had its publicity and retirement, the
latter after a very village fashion, however,) dwelt a widow--
bewitched of small worldly means, five children, and of great
capacity for circulating intelligence. Mrs. Abbott, for so was this
demi-relict called, was just on the verge of what is termed the "good
society" of the village, the most uneasy of all positions for an
ambitious and _ci-devant_ pretty woman to be placed in. She had not
yet abandoned the hope of obtaining a divorce and its _suites_; was
singularly, nay, rabidly devout, if we may coin the adverb; in her
own eyes she was perfection, in those of her neighbours slightly
objectionable; and she was altogether a droll, and by no means an
unusual compound of piety, censoriousness, charity, proscription,
gossip, kindness, meddling, ill-nature, and decency.
The establishment of Mrs. Abbott, like her house, was necessarily
very small, and she kept no servant but a girl she called her help, a
very suitable appellation, by the way, as they did most of the work
of the _menage_ in common. This girl, in addition to cooking and
washing, was the confidant of all her employer's wandering notions of
mankind in general, and of her neighbours in particular; as often,
helping her mistress in circulating her comments on the latter, as in
Mrs. Abbott knew nothing of the Effinghams, except by a hearsay that
got its intelligence from her own school, being herself a late
arrival in the place. She had selected Templeton as a residence on
account of its cheapness, and, having neglected to comply with the
forms of the world, by hesitating about making the customary visit to
the Wigwam, she began to resent, in her spirit at least, Eve's
delicate forbearance from obtruding herself, where, agreeably to all
usage, she had a perfect right to suppose she was not desired. It was
in this spirit, then, that she sat, conversing with Jenny, as the
maid of all work was called, the morning after the conversation
related in the last chapter, in her snug little parlour, sometimes
plying her needle, and oftener thrusting her head out of a window
which commanded a view of the principal street of the place, in order
to see what her neighbours might be about.
"This is a most extraordinary course Mr. Effingham has taken
concerning the Point," said Mrs. Abbott, "and I _do_ hope the people
will bring him to his senses. Why, Jenny, the public has used that
place ever since I can remember, and I have now lived in Templeton
quite fifteen months.--What _can_ induce Mr. Howel to go so often to
that barber's shop, which stands directly opposite the parlour
windows of Mrs. Bennett--one would think the man was all beard."
"I suppose Mr. Howel gets shaved sometimes," said the logical Jenny.
"Not he; or if he does, no decent man would think of posting himself
before a lady's window to do such a thing.--Orlando Furioso," calling
to her eldest son, a boy of eleven, "run over to Mr. Jones's store,
and listen to what the people are talking about, and bring me back
the news, as soon as any thing worth hearing drops from any body; and
stop as you come back, my son, and borrow neighbour Brown's gridiron.
Jenny, it is most time to think of putting over the potatoes."
"Ma'--" cried Orlando Furioso, from the front door, Mrs. Abbott being
very rigid in requiring that all her children should call her 'ma','
being so much behind the age as actually not to know that 'mother'
had got to be much the genteeler term of the two; "Ma'," roared
Orlando Furioso, "suppose there is no news at Mr. Jones's store?"
"Then go to the nearest tavern; something must be stirring this fine
morning, and I'm dying to know what it can possibly be. Mind you
bring something besides the gridiron back with you. Hurry, or never
come home again as long as you live! As I was saying, Jenny, the
right of the public, which is our right, for we are a part of the
public, to this Point, is as clear as day, and I am only astonished
at the impudence of Mr. Effingham in pretending to deny it. I dare
say his French daughter has put him up to it. They say she is
"Is Eve Effingham, French," said Jenny, studiously avoiding any of
the usual terms of civility and propriety, by way of showing her
breeding--"well, I had always thought her nothing but Templeton
"What signifies where a person was born? where they _live_, is the
essential thing; and Eve Effingham has lived so long in France, that
she speaks nothing but broken English; and Miss Debby told me last
week, that in drawing up a subscription paper for a new cushion to
the reading-desk of her people, she actually spelt 'charity'
"Is that French, Miss Abbott?"
"I rather think it is, Jenny; the French are very niggardly, and give
their poor carrots to live on, and so they have adopted the word, I
suppose. You, Byansy-Alzumy-Ann, (Bianca-Alzuma-Ann!)"
"Byansy-Alzumy-Ann! who taught you to call me marm! Is this the way
you have learned your catechism? Say, ma', this instant."
"Take your bonnet, my child, and run down to Mrs. Wheaton's, and ask
her if any thing new has turned up about the Point, this morning;
and, do you hear, Byansy-Alzumy-Ann Abbott--how the child starts
away, as if she were sent on a matter of life and death!"
"Why, ma', I want to hear the news, too."
"Very likely, my dear, but, by stopping to get your errand, you may
learn more than by being in such a hurry. Stop in at Mrs. Green's,
and ask how the people liked the lecture of the strange parson, last
evening--and ask her if she can lend me a watering-pot, Now, run, and
be back as soon as possible. Never loiter when you carry news,
"No one has a right to stop the man, I believe, Miss Abbott," put in
Jenny, very appositely.
"That, indeed, have they not, or else we could not calculate the
consequences. You may remember, Jenny, the pious, even, had to give
up that point, public convenience being; too strong for them. Roger-
Demetrius-Benjamin!"--calling to a second boy, two years younger than
his brother--"your eyes are better than mine--who are all those
people collected together in the street. Is not Mr. Howel among
"I do not know, ma'!" answered Roger-Demetrius-Benjamin, gaping.
"Then run, this minute, and see, and don't stop to look for your hat.
As you come back, step into the tailor's shop and ask if your new
jacket is most done, and what the news is? I rather think, Jenny, we
shall find out something worth hearing, in the course of the day. By
the way, they do say that Grace Van Cortlandt, Eve Effingham's
cousin, is under concern."
"Well, she is the last person I should think would be troubled about
any thing, for every body says she is so desperate rich she might eat
off of silver, if she liked; and she is sure of being married, some
time or other."
"That ought to lighten her concern, you think. Oh! it does my heart
good when I see any of those flaunty people right well exercised!
Nothing would make me happier than to see Eve Effingham groaning
fairly in the spirit! That would teach her to take away the people's
"But, Miss Abbott, then she would become almost as good a woman as
you are yourself,"
"I am a miserable, graceless, awfully wicked sinner! Twenty times a
day do I doubt whether I am actually converted or not. Sin has got
such a hold of my very heart-strings, that I sometimes think they
will crack before it lets go. Rinaldo-Rinaldini-Timothy, my child, do
you toddle across the way, and give my compliments to Mrs. Hulbert,
and inquire if it be true that young Dickson, the lawyer, is really
engaged to Aspasia Tubbs or not? and borrow a skimmer, or a tin pot,
or any thing you can carry, for we may want something of the sort in
the course of the day. I do believe, Jenny, that a worse creature
than myself is hardly to be found in Templeton."
"Why, Miss Abbott," returned Jenny, who had heard too much of this
self-abasement to be much alarmed at it, "this is giving almost as
bad an account of yourself, as I heard somebody, that I won't name,
give of you last week."
"And who is your somebody, I should like to know? I dare say, one no
better than a formalist, who thinks that reading prayers out of a
book, kneeling, bowing, and changing gowns, is religion! Thank
Heaven, I'm pretty indifferent to the opinions of such people.
Harkee, Jenny; if I thought I was no better than some persons I could
name, I'd give the point of salvation up, in despair!"
"Miss Abbott," roared a rugged, dirty-faced, bare-footed boy, who
entered without knocking, and stood in the middle of the room, with
his hat on, with a suddenness that denoted great readiness in
entering other people's possessions; "Miss Abbott, ma' wants to know
if you are likely to go from home this week?"
"Why, what in nature can she want to know that for, Ordeal Bumgrum?"
Mrs. Abbott pronounced this singular name, however, "Ordeel."
"Oh! she _warnts_ to know."
"So do I _warnt_ to know; and know I will. Run home this instant, and
ask your mother why she has sent you here with this message. Jenny, I
am much exercised to find out the reason Mrs. Bumgrum should have
sent Ordeal over with such a question."
"I did hear that Miss Bumgrum intended to make a journey herself, and
she may want your company."
"Here comes Ordeal back, and we shall soon be out of the clouds. What
a boy that is for errands. He is worth all my sons put together. You
never see him losing time by going round by the streets, but away he
goes over the garden fences like a cat, or he will whip through a
house, if standing in his way, as if he were its owner, should the
door happen to be open. Well, Ordeal?"
But Ordeal was out of breath, and although Jenny shook him, as if to
shake the news out of him, and Mrs. Abbott actually shook her fist,
in her impatience to be enlightened, nothing could induce the child
to speak, until he had recovered his wind.
"I believe he does it on purpose," said the provoked maid.
"It's just like him!" cried the mistress; "the very best news-carrier
in the village is actually spoilt because he is thick-winded."
"I wish folks wouldn't make their fences so high," Ordeal exclaimed,
the instant he found breath. "I can't see of what use it is to make a
fence people can't climb!"
"What does your mother say?" cried Jenny repeating her shake, _con
"Ma, wants to know, Miss Abbott, if you don't intend to use it
yourself, if you will lend her your name for a few days, to go to
Utica with? She says folks don't treat her half as well when she is
called Bumgrum, as when she has another name, and she thinks she'd
like to try yours, this time."
"Is that all!--You needn't have been so hurried about such a trifle,
Ordeal. Give my compliments to your mother, and tell her she is quite
welcome to my name, and I hope it will be serviceable to her."
"She says she is willing to pay for the use of it, if you will tell
her what the damage will be."
"Oh! it's not worth while to speak of such a trifle I dare say she
will bring it back quite as good as when she took it away. I am no
such unneighbourly or aristocratical person as to wish to keep my
name all to myself. Tell your mother she is welcome to mine, and to
keep it as long as she likes, and not to say any thing about pay; I
may want to borrow hers, or something else, one of these days,
though, to say the truth, my neighbours _are_ apt to complain of me
as unfriendly and proud for not borrowing as much as a good neighbour
Ordeal departed, leaving Mrs. Abbot in some such condition as that of
the man who had no shadow. A rap at the door interrupted the further
discussion of the old subject, and Mr. Steadfast Dodge appeared in
answer to the permission to enter. Mr. Dodge and Mrs. Abbott were
congenial spirits, in the way of news, he living by it, and she
living on it.
"You are very welcome, Mr. Dodge," the mistress of the house
commenced; "I hear you passed the day, yesterday, up at the
"Why, yes, Mrs. Abbott, the Effinghams insisted on it, and I could
not well get over the sacrifice, after having been their shipmate so
long. Besides it is a little relief to talk French, when one has been
so long in the daily practice of it."
"I hear there is company at the house?"
"Two of our fellow-travellers, merely. An English baronet, and a
young man of whom less is known than one could wish. He is a
mysterious person, and I hate mystery, Mrs. Abbott."
"In that, then, Mr. Dodge, you and I are alike. I think every thing
should be known. Indeed, that is not a free country in which there
are any secrets. I keep nothing from my neighbours, and, to own the
truth, I do not like my neighbours to keep any thing from me."
"Then you'll hardly like the Effinghams, for I never yet met with a
more close-mouthed family. Although I was so long in the ship with
Miss Eve, I never heard her once speak of her want of appetite; of
sea-sickness, or of any thing relating to her ailings even: no? can
you imagine how close she is on the subject of the beaux; I do not
think I ever heard her use the word, or so much as allude to any walk
or ride she ever took with a single man. I set her down, Mrs. Abbott,
as unqualifiedly artful!"
"That you may with certainty, sir, for there is no more sure sign
that a young woman is all the while thinking of the beaux, than her
never mentioning them."
"That I believe to be human nature; no ingenuous person ever thinks
much of the particular subject of conversation. What is your opinion,
Mrs. Abbott, of the contemplated match at the Wigwam?"
"Match!" exclaimed Mrs. Abbott.--"What, already! It is the most
indecent thing I ever heard of! Why, Mr. Dodge, the family has not
been home a fortnight, and to think so soon of getting married! It is
quite as bad as a widower's marrying within the month."
Mrs. Abbott made a distinction, habitually, between the cases of
widowers and widows, as the first, she maintained, might get married
whenever they pleased, and the latter only when they got offers; and
she felt just that sort of horror of a man's thinking of marrying too
soon after the death of his wife, as might be expected in one who
actually thought of a second husband before the first was dead.
"Why, yes," returned Steadfast, "it is a little premature, perhaps,
though they have been long acquainted. Still, as you say, it would be
more decent to wait and see what may turn up in a country, that, to
them, may be said to be a foreign land."
"But, who are the parties, Mr. Dodge."
"Miss Eve Effingham, and Mr. John Effingham"
"Mr. John Effingham!" exclaimed the lady, who had lent her name to a
neighbour, aghast, for this was knocking one of her own day-dreams in
the head, "well this is too much! But he shall not marry her, sir;
the law will prevent it, and we live in a country of laws. A man
cannot marry his own niece."
"It is excessively improper, and ought to be put a stop to. And yet
these Effinghams do very much as they please."
"I am very sorry to hear that; they are extremely disagreeable," said
Mrs. Abbott, with a look of eager inquiry, as if afraid the answer
might be in the negative.
"As much so as possible; they have hardly a way that you would like,
my dear ma'am; and are as close-mouthed as if they were afraid of
"Desperate bad news-carriers, I am told, Mr. Dodge. There is Dorindy
(Dorinda) Mudge, who was employed there by Eve and Grace one day; she
tells me she tried all she could to get them to talk, by speaking of
the most common things; things that one of my children knew all
about; such as the affairs of the neighbourhood, and how people are
getting on; and, though they would listen a little, and that is
something, I admit, not a syllable could she get in the way of
answer, or remark. She tells me that, several times, she had a mind
to quit, for it is monstrous unpleasant to associate with your
"I dare say Miss Effingham could throw out a hint now and then,
concerning the voyage and her late fellow-travellers," said
Steadfast, casting an uneasy glance at his companion.
"Not she. Dorindy maintains that it is impossible to get a sentiment
out of her concerning a single fellow-creature. When she talked of
the late unpleasant affair of poor neighbour Bronson's family--a
melancholy transaction that, Mr. Dodge, and I shouldn't wonder if it
went to nigh break Mrs. Bronson's heart--but when Dorindy mentioned
this, which is bad enough to stir the sensibility of a frog, neither
of my young ladies replied, or put a single question. In this respect
Grace is as bad as Eve, and Eve is as bad as Grace, they say. Instead
of so much as seeming to wish to know any more, what does my Miss Eve
do, but turn to some daubs of paintings, and point out to her cousin
what she was pleased to term peculiarities in Swiss usages. Then the
two hussies would talk of nature, 'our beautiful nature' Dorindy says
Eve had the impudence to call it, and, as if human nature and its
failings and backsliding wore not a fitter subject for a young
woman's discourse, than a silly conversation about lakes, and rocks,
and trees, and as if she _owned_ the nature about Templeton. It is my
opinion, Mr. Dodge, that downright ignorance is at the bottom of it
all, for Dorindy says that they actually know no more of the
intricacies of the neighbourhood than if they lived in Japan."
"All pride, Mrs. Abbott; rank pride. They feel themselves too great
to enter into the minutiae of common folks' concerns. I often tried
Miss Effingham coming from England; and things touching private
interests, that I know she did and must understand, she always
disdainfully refused to enter into. Oh! she is, a real Tartar, in her
way; and what she does not wish to do, you never can make her do!"
"Have you heard that Grace is under concern?"
"Not a breath of it; under whose preaching was she sitting, Mrs.
"That is more than I can tell you; not under the church parson's,
I'll engage; no one ever heard of a real, active, regenerating, soul-
reviving, spirit-groaning and fruit-yielding conversion under _his_
"No, there is very little unction in that persuasion generally. How
cold and apathetic they are, in these soul-stirring times! Not a
sinner has been writhing on _their_ floor, I'll engage, nor a wretch
transferred into a saint, in the twinkling of an eye, by _that_
parson. Well, _we_ have every reason to be grateful, Mrs. Abbott."
"That we have, for most glorious have been our privileges! To be sure
that is a sinful pride that can puff up a wretched, sinful being like
Eve Effingham to such a pass of conceit, as to induce her to think
she is raised above thinking of, and taking an interest in the
affairs of her neighbours. Now, for my part, conversion has so far
opened _my_ heart, that I do actually feel as if I wanted to know all
about the meanest creature in Templeton."
"That's the true spirit, Mrs. Abbott; stick to that, and your
redemption is secure. I only edit a newspaper, by way of showing an
interest in mankind."
"I hope, Mr. Dodge, the press does not mean to let this matter of the
Point sleep; the press is the true guardian of the public rights, and
I can tell you the whole community looks to it for support, in this
"We shall not fail to do our duty," said Mr. Dodge, looking over his
shoulder, and speaking lower. "What! shall one insignificant
individual, who has not a single right above that of the meanest
citizen in the county, oppress this great and powerful community!
What if Mr. Effingham does own this point of land--"
"But he does _not_ own it," interrupted Mrs. Abbott. "Ever since I
have known Templeton, the public has owned it. The public, moreover,
says it owns it, and what the public says, in this happy country, is
"But, allowing that the public does not own--"
"It _does_ own it, Mr. Dodge," the nameless repeated, positively.
"Well, ma'am, own or no own, this is not a country in which the press
ought to be silent, when a solitary individual undertakes to trample
on the public. Leave that matter to us, Mrs. Abbott; it is in good
hands, and shall be well taken care of."
"I'm piously glad of it!"
"I mention this to you, as to a friend," continued Mr. Dodge,
cautiously drawing from his pocket a manuscript, which he prepared to
read to his companion who sat with a devouring curiosity, ready to
The manuscript of Mr. Dodge contained a professed account of the
affair of the Point. It was written obscurely, and was not without
its contradictions, but the imagination of Mrs. Abbott supplied all
the vacuums, and reconciled all the contradictions. The article was
so liberal of its professions of contempt for Mr. Effingham, that
every rational man was compelled to wonder, why a quality, that is
usually so passive, should, in this particular instance, be aroused
to so sudden and violent activity. In the way of facts, not one was
faithfully stated; and there were several deliberate, unmitigated
falsehoods, which went essentially to colour the whole account.
"I think this will answer the purpose," said Steadfast, "and we have
taken means to see that it shall be well circulated."
"This will do them good," cried Mrs. Abbott; almost breathless with
delight. "I hope folks will believe it."
"No fear of that. If it were a party thing, now, one half would
believe it, as a matter of course, and the other half would not
believe it, as a matter of course; but, in a private matter, lord
bless you, ma'am, people are always ready to believe any thing that
will give them something to talk about."
Here the _tete a tete_ was interrupted by the return of Mrs. Abbott's
different messengers, all of whom, unlike the dove sent forth from
the ark, brought back something in the way of hopes. The Point was a
general theme, and, though the several accounts flatly contradicted
each other, Mrs. Abbott, in the general benevolence of her pious
heart, found the means to extract corroboration of her wishes from
Mr. Dodge was as good as his word, and the account appeared. The
press throughout the country seized with avidity on any thing that
helped to fill its columns. No one appeared disposed to inquire into
the truth of the account, or after the character of the original
authority. It was in print, and that struck the great majority of the
editors and their readers, as a sufficient sanction. Few, indeed,
were they, who lived so much under a proper self-control, as to
hesitate; and this rank injustice was done a private citizen, as much
without moral restraint, as without remorse, by those, who, to take
their own accounts of the matter, were the regular and habitual
champions of human rights!
John Effingham pointed out this extraordinary scene of reckless
wrong, to his wondering cousin, with the cool sarcasm, with which he
was apt to assail the weaknesses and crimes of the country. His
firmness, united to that of his cousin, however, put a stop to the
publication of the resolutions of Aristabulus's meeting, and when a
sufficient time had elapsed to prove that these prurient denouncers
of their fellow-citizens had taken wit in their anger, he procured
them, and had them published himself, as the most effectual means of
exposing the real character of the senseless mob, that had thus
disgraced liberty, by assuming its professions and its usages.
To an observer of men, the end of this affair presented several
strong points for comment. As soon as the truth became generally
known, in reference to the real ownership, and the public came to
ascertain that instead of hitherto possessing a right, it had, in
fact been merely enjoying a favour, those who had commit ted
themselves by their arrogant assumptions of facts, and their indecent
outrages, fell back on their self-love, and began to find excuses for
their conduct in that of the other party. Mr. Effingham was loudly
condemned for not having done the very thing, he, in truth, had done,
viz: telling the public it did not own his property; and when this
was shown to be an absurdity, the complaint followed that what he had
done, had been done in precisely such a mode, although it was the
mode constantly used by every one else. From these vague and
indefinite accusations, those most implicated in the wrong, began to
deny all their own original assertions, by insisting that they had
known all along, that Mr. Effingham owned the property, but that they
did not choose he, or any other man, should presume to tell them what
they knew already. In short, the end of this affair exhibited human
nature in its usual aspects of prevarication, untruth, contradiction,
and inconsistency, notwithstanding the high profession of liberty
made by those implicated; and they who had been the most guilty of
wrong, were loudest in their complaints, as if they alone had
"This is not exhibiting the country to us, certainly, after so long
an absence, in its best appearance," said Mr. Effingham, "I must
admit, John; but error belongs to all regions, and to all classes of
"Ay, Ned, make the best of it, as usual; but, if you do not come
round to my way of thinking, before you are a twelvemonth older, I
shall renounce prophesying. I wish we could get at the bottom of Miss
Effingham's thoughts, on this occasion."
"Miss Effingham has been grieved, disappointed, nay, shocked," said
Eve, "but, still she will not despair of the republic. None of our
respectable neighbours, in the first place, have shared in this
transaction, and that is something; though I confess I feel some
surprise that any considerable portion of a community, that respects
itself, should quietly allow an ignorant fragment of its own numbers,
to misrepresent it so grossly, in an affair that so nearly touches
its own character for common sense and justice."
"You have yet to learn, Miss Effingham, that men can get to be so
saturated with liberty, that they become insensible to the nicer
feelings. The grossest enormities are constantly committed in this
good republic of ours, under the pretence of being done by the
public, and for the public. The public have got to bow to that
bugbear, quite as submissively as Gesler would have wished the Swiss
to bow to his own cap, as to the cap of Rodolph's substitute. Men
will have idols, and the Americans have merely set up themselves."
"And you, cousin Jack, you would be wretched were you doomed to live
under a system less free. I fear you have the affectation of
sometimes saying that which you do not exactly feel."
"Come, these are no times to think of dreams--
We'll talk of dreams hereafter."
The day succeeding that in which the conversation just mentioned
occurred, was one of great expectation and delight in the Wigwam.
Mrs. Hawker and the Bloomfields were expected, and the morning passed
away rapidly, under the gay buoyancy of the feelings that usually
accompany such anticipations in a country-house. The travellers were
to leave town the previous evening, and, though the distance was near
two hundred and thirty miles, they were engaged to arrive by the
usual dinner hour. In speed, the Americans, so long as they follow
the great routes, are unsurpassed; and even Sir George Templemore,
coming, as he did, from a country of MacAdamized roads and excellent
posting, expressed his surprise, when given to understand that a
journey of this length, near a hundred miles of which were by land,
moreover, was to be performed in twenty-four hours, the stops
"One particularly likes this rapid travelling," he remarked, "when it
is to bring us such friends as Mrs. Hawker."
"And Mrs. Bloomfield," added Eve, quickly. "I rest the credit of the
American females on Mrs. Bloomfield."
"More so, than on Mrs. Hawker, Miss Effingham."
"Not in all that is amiable, respectable, feminine, and lady-like;
but certainly more so, in the way of mind. I know, Sir George
Templemore, as a European, what your opinion is of our sex in this
"Good heaven, my dear Miss Effingham!--My opinion of your sex, in
America! It is impossible for any one to entertain a higher opinion
of your country-women--as I hope to show--as, I trust, my respect and
admiration have always proved--nay, Powis, you, as an American, will
exonerate me from this want of taste--judgment--feeling--"
Paul laughed, but told the embarrassed and really distressed baronet,
that he should leave him in the very excellent hands into which he
"You see that bird, that is sailing so prettily above the roofs of
the village," said Eve, pointing with her parasol in the direction
she meant; for the three were walking together on the little lawn, in
waiting for the appearance of the expected guests; "and I dare say
you are ornithologist enough to tell its vulgar name."
"You are in the humour to be severe this morning--the bird is but a
"One of which will not make a summer, as every one knows. Our
cosmopolitism is already forgotten, and with it, I fear, our
"Since Powis has hoisted his national colours, I do not feel as free
on such subjects as formerly," returned Sir George, smiling. "When I
thought I had a secret ally in him, I was not afraid to concede a
little in such things, but his avowal of his country has put me on my
guard. In no case, however, shall I admit my insensibility to the
qualities of your countrywomen. Powis, as a native, may take that
liberty; but, as for myself, I shall insist they are, at least, the
equals of any females I know."
"In _naivete_, prettiness, delicacy of appearance, simplicity, and
"In sincerity, think you, dear Miss Effingham?"
"In sincerity, above all things, dear Sir George Templemore.
Sincerity--nay, frankness is the last quality I should think of
"But to return to Mrs. Bloomfield--she is clever, exceedingly clever,
I allow; in what is her cleverness to be distinguished from that of
one of her sex, on the other side of the ocean?"
"In nothing, perhaps, did there exist no differences in national
characteristics. Naples and New-York are in the same latitude, and
yet, I think you will agree with me, that there is little resemblance
in their populations."
"I confess I do not understand the allusion--are you quicker witted,
"I will not say that," answered Paul; "but I think I do comprehend
Miss Effingham's meaning. You have travelled enough to know, that, as
a rule, there is more aptitude in a southern, than in a northern
people. They receive impressions more readily, and are quicker in all
"I believe this to be true; but, then, you will allow that they are
less constant, and have less perseverance?"
"In that we are agreed, Sir George Templemore," resumed Eve, "though
we might differ as to the cause. The inconstancy of which you speak,
is more connected with moral than physical causes, perhaps, and we,
of this region, might claim an exemption from some of them. But, Mrs.
Bloomfield is to be distinguished from her European rivals, by a
frame so singularly feminine as to appear fragile, a delicacy of
exterior, that, were it not for that illumined face of hers, might
indicate a general feebleness, a sensitiveness and quickness of
intellect that amount almost to inspiration; and yet all is balanced
by a practical common sense, that renders her as safe a counsellor as
she is a warm friend. This latter quality causes you sometimes to
doubt her genius, it is so very homely and available. Now it is in
this, that I think the American woman, when she does rise above
mediocrity, is particularly to be distinguished from the European.
The latter, as a genius, is almost always in the clouds, whereas,
Mrs. Bloomfield, in her highest flights, is either all heart, or all
good sense. The nation is practical, and the practical qualities get
to be imparted even to its highest order of talents."
"The English women are thought to be less excitable, and not so much
under the influence of sentimentalism, as some of their continental
"And very justly--but----"
"But, what, Miss Effingham--there is, in all this, a slight return to
the cosmopolitism, that reminds me of our days of peril and
adventure. Do not conceal a thought, if you wish to preserve that
"Well, to be sincere, I shall say that your women live under a system
too sophisticated and factitious to give fair play to common sense,
at all times. What, for instance, can be the habitual notions of one,
who, professing the doctrines of Christianity, is accustomed to find
money placed so very much in the ascendant, as to see it daily
exacted in payment for the very first of the sacred offices of the
church? It would be as rational to contend that a mirror which had
been cracked into radii, by a bullet, like those we have so often
seen in Paris, would reflect faithfully, as to suppose a mind
familiarized to such abuses would be sensitive on practical and
common sense things."
"But, my dear Miss Effingham, this is all habit."
"I know it is all habit, Sir George Templemore, and a very bad habit
it is. Even your devoutest clergymen get so accustomed to it, as not
to see the capital mistake they make. I do not say it is absolutely
sinful, where there is no compulsion; but, I hope you agree with me,
Mr. Powis, when I say I think a clergyman ought to be so sensitive on
such a subject, as to refuse even the little offerings for baptisms,
that it is the practice of the wealthy of this country to make."
"I agree with you entirely, for it would denote a more just
perception of the nature of the office they are performing; and they
who wish to give can always make occasions."
"A hint might be taken from Franklin, who is said to have desired his
father to ask a blessing on the pork-barrel, by way of condensation,"
put in John Effingham, who joined them as he spoke, and who had heard
a part of the conversation. "In this instance an average might be
struck in the marriage fee, that should embrace all future baptisms.
But here comes neighbour Howel to favour us with his opinion. Do you
like the usages of the English church, as respects baptisms, Howel?"
"Excellent, the best in the world, John Effingham."
"Mr. Howel is so true an Englishman," said Eve, shaking hands
cordially with their well-meaning neighbour, "that he would give a
certificate in favour of polygamy, if it had a British origin."
"And is not this a more natural sentiment for an American than that
which distrusts so much, merely because it comes from the little
island?" asked Sir George, reproachfully.
"That is a question I shall leave Mr. Howel himself to answer."
"Why, Sir George," observed the gentleman alluded to, "I do not
attribute my respect for your country, in the least, to origin. I
endeavour to keep myself free from all sorts of prejudices. My
admiration of England arises from conviction, and I watch all her
movements with the utmost jealousy, in order to see if I cannot find
her tripping, though I feel bound to say I have never yet detected
her in a single error. What a very different picture, France--I hope
your governess is not within hearing, Miss Eve; it is not her fault;
she was born a French woman, and we would not wish to hurt her
feelings--but what a different picture France presents! I have
watched her narrowly too, these forty years, I may say, and I have
never yet found her right; and this, you must allow, is a great deal
to be said by one who is thoroughly impartial."
"This is a terrible picture, indeed, Howel, to come from an
unprejudiced man," said John Effingham; "and I make no doubt Sir
George Templemore will have a better opinion of himself for ever
after--he for a valiant lion, and you for a true prince. But yonder
is the 'exclusive extra,' which contains our party."
The elevated bit of lawn on which they were walking commanded a view
of the road that led into the village, and the travelling, vehicle
engaged by Mrs. Hawker and her friends, was now seen moving along it
at a rapid pace. Eve expressed her satisfaction, and then all resumed
their walk, as some minutes must still elapse previously to the
"Exclusive extra!" repeated Sir George; "that is a peculiar phrase,
and one that denotes any thing but democracy."
"In any other part of the world a thing would be sufficiently marked,
by being 'extra,' but here it requires the addition of 'exclusive,'
in order to give it the 'tower stamp,'" said John Effingham, with a
curl of his handsome lip. "Any thing may be as exclusive as it
please, provided it bear the public impress. A stagecoach being
intended for every body, why, the more exclusive it is, the better.
The next thing we shall hear of will be exclusive steamboats,
exclusive railroads, and both for the uses of the exclusive people."
Sir George now seriously asked an explanation of the meaning of the
term, when Mr. Howel informed him that an 'extra' in America meant a
supernumerary coach, to carry any excess of the ordinary number of
passengers; whereas an 'exclusive extra' meant a coach expressly
engaged by a particular individual.
"The latter, then, is American posting," observed Sir George.
"You have got the best idea of it that can be given," said Paul. "It
is virtually posting with a coachman, instead of postillions, few
persons in this country, where so much of the greater distances is
done by steam, using their own travelling carriages. The American
'exclusive extra' is not only posting, but, in many of the older
parts of the country, it is posting of a very good quality."
"I dare say, now, this is all wrong, if we only knew it," said the
simple-minded Mr. Howel. "There is nothing exclusive in England, ha,
Every body laughed except the person who put this question, but the
rattling of wheels and the tramping of horses on the village bridge,
announced the near approach of the travellers. By the time the party
had reached the great door in front of the house, the carriage was
already in the grounds, and at the next moment, Eve was in the arms
of Mrs. Bloomfield. It was apparent, at a glance, that more than the
expected number of guests was in the vehicle; and as its contents
were slowly discharged, the spectators stood around it, with
curiosity, to observe who would appear.
The first person that descended, after the exit of Mrs. Bloomfield,
was Captain Truck, who, however, instead of saluting his friends,
turned assiduously to the door he had just passed through, to assist
Mrs. Hawker to alight. Not until this office had been done, did he
even look for Eve; for, so profound was the worthy captain's
admiration and respect for this venerable lady, that she actually had
got to supplant our heroine, in some measure, in his heart. Mr.
Bloomfield appeared next, and an exclamation of surprise and pleasure
proceeded from both Paul and the baronet, as they caught a glimpse of
the face of the last of the travellers that got out.
"Ducie!" cried Sir George. "This is even better than we expected."
"Ducie!" added Paul, "you are several days before the expected time,
and in excellent company."
The explanation, however, was very simple Captain Ducie had found the
facilities for rapid motion much greater than he had expected, and he
reached Fort Plain, in the eastward cars, as the remainder of the
party arrived in the westward. Captain Truck-who had met Mrs.
Hawker's party in the river boat, had been intrusted with the duty of
making the arrangements, and recognizing Captain Ducie, to their
mutual surprise, while engaged in this employment, and ascertaining
his destination, the latter was very cordially received into the
Mr. Effingham welcomed all his guests with the hospitality and
kindness for which he was distinguished. We are no great admirers of
the pretension to peculiar national virtues, having ascertained, to
our own satisfaction, by tolerably extensive observation, that the
moral difference between men is of no great amount; but we are almost
tempted to say, on this occasion, that Mr. Effingham received his
guests with American hospitality; for if there be one quality that
this people can claim to possess in a higher degree than that of most
other Christian nations, it is that of a simple, sincere, confiding
hospitality. For Mrs. Hawker, in common with all who knew her, the
owner of the Wigwam entertained a profound respect; and though his
less active mind did not take as much pleasure as that of his
daughter, in the almost intuitive intelligence of Mrs. Bloomfield, he
also felt for this lady a very friendly regard. It gave him pleasure
to see Eve surrounded by persons of her own sex, of so high a tone of
thought and breeding; a tone of thought and breeding, moreover, that
was as far removed as possible from anything strained or artificial:
and his welcomes were cordial in proportion. Mr. Bloomfield was a
quiet, sensible, gentleman-like man, whom his wife fervently loved,
without making any parade of her attachment and he was also one who
had the good sense to make himself agreeable wherever he went.
Captain Ducie, who, Englishman-like, had required some urging to be
induced to present himself before the precise hour named in his own
letter, and who had seriously contemplated passing several days in a
tavern, previously to showing himself at the Wigwam, was agreeably
disappointed at a reception, that would have been just as frank and
warm, had he come without any notice at all: for the Effinghams knew
that the usages which sophistication and a crowded population perhaps
render necessary in older countries, were not needed in their own;
and then the circumstance that their quondam pursuer was so near a
kinsman of Paul Powis', did not fail to act essentially in his
"We can offer but little, in these retired mountains, to interest a
traveller and a man of the world, Captain Ducie," said Mr. Effingham,
when he went to pay his compliments more particularly, after the
whole party was in the house; "but there is a common interest in our
past adventures to talk about, after all other topics fail. When, we
met on the ocean, and you deprived us so unexpectedly of our friend
Powis, we did not know that you had the better claim of affinity to
Captain Ducie coloured slightly, but he made his answer with a proper
degree of courtesy and gratitude.
"It is very true," he added, "Powis and myself are relatives, and I
shall place all my claims to your hospitality to his account; for I
feel that I have been the unwilling cause of too much suffering to
your party to bring with me any very pleasant recollections,
notwithstanding your kindness in including me as a friend in the
adventures of which you speak."
"Dangers that are happily past, seldom bring very unpleasant
recollections, more especially when they were connected with scenes
of excitement, I understand, sir, that the unhappy young man, who was
the principal cause of all that passed, anticipated the sentence of
the law, by destroying himself."
"He was his own executioner, and the victim of a silly weakness that,
I should think, your state of society was yet too young and simple to
encourage. The idle vanity of making an appearance, a vanity, by the
way, that seldom besets gentlemen, or the class to which it may be
thought more properly to belong, ruins hundreds of young men in
England, and this poor creature was of the number. I never was more
rejoiced than when he quitted my ship, for the sight of so much
weakness sickened one of human nature. Miserable as his fate proved
to be, and pitiable as his condition really was while in my charge,
his case has the alleviating circumstance with me, of having made me
acquainted with those whom it might not otherwise have been my good
fortune to meet!"
This civil speech was properly acknowledged, and Mr. Effingham
addressed himself to Captain Truck, to whom, in the hurry of the
moment, he had not yet said half that his feelings dictated.
"I am rejoiced to see you under my roof, my worthy friend," taking
the rough hand of the old seaman between his own whiter and more
delicate fingers, and shaking it with cordiality, "for this _is_
being under my roof, while those town residences have less the air of
domestication and familiarity. You will spend many of your holidays
here, I trust; and when we get a few years older, we will begin to
prattle about the marvels we have seen in company."
The eye of Captain Truck glistened, and, as he return ed the shake by
another of twice the energy, and the gentle pressure of Mr. Effingham
by a squeeze like that of a vice, he said in his honest off-hand
"The happiest hour I ever knew was that in which I discharged the
pilot, the first time out, as a ship-master; the next great event of
my life, in the way of happiness, was the moment I found myself on
the deck of the Montauk, after we had given those greasy Arabs a him
that their room was better than their company; and I really think
this very instant must be set down as the third. I never knew, my
dear sir, how much I truly loved you and your daughter, until both
were out of sight."
"That is so kind and gallant a speech, that it ought not to be lost
on the person most concerned. Eve, my love, our worthy friend has
just made a declaration which will be a novelty to you, who have not
been much in the way of listening to speeches of this nature."
Mr. Effingham then acquainted his daughter with what Captain Truck
had just said.
"This is certainly the first declaration of the sort I ever heard,
and with the simplicity of an unpractised young woman, I here avow
that the attachment is reciprocal," said the smiling Eve. "If there
is an indiscretion in this hasty acknowledgement, it must be ascribed
to surprise, and to the suddenness with which I have learned my
power, for your _parvenues_ are not always perfectly regulated."
"I hope Mamselle V.A.V. is well," returned the Captain, cordially
shaking the hand the young lady had given him, "and that she enjoys
herself to her liking in this outlandish country?"
"Mademoiselle Viefville will return you her thanks in person, at
dinner; and I believe she does not yet regret _la belle France_
unreasonably; as I regret it myself, in many particulars, it would be
unjust not to permit a native of the country some liberty in that
"I perceive a strange face in the room--one of the family, my dear
"Not a relative, but a very old friend.--Shall I have the pleasure of
introducing you, Captain?"
"I hardly dared to ask it, for I know you must have been overworked
in this way, lately, but I confess I _should_ like an introduction; I
have neither introduced, nor been introduced since I left New-York,
with the exception of the case of Captain Ducie, whom I made properly
acquainted with Mrs. Hawker and her party as you may suppose. They
know each other regularly now, and you are saved the trouble of going
through the ceremony yourself."
"And how is it with you and the Bloomfields? Did Mrs. Hawker name you
to them properly?"
"That is the most extraordinary thing of the sort I ever knew! Not a
word was said in the way of introduction, and yet I slid into an
acquaintance with Mrs. Bloomfield so easily, that I could not tell
how it was done, if my life depended on it. But this very old friend
of yours, my dear young lady----"
"Captain Truck, Mr. Howel; Mr. Howel, Captain Truck;" said Eve,
imitating the most approved manner of the introductory spirit of the
day with admirable self-possession and gravity. "I am fortunate in
having it in my power to make two persons whom I so much esteem
"Captain Truck is the gentleman who commands the Montauk?" said Mr.
Howel, glancing at Eve, as much as to say, "am I right?"
"The very same, and the brave seaman to whom we are all indebted for
the happiness of standing here at this moment."
"You are to be envied, Captain Truck; of all the men in your calling,
you are exactly the one I should most wish to supplant. I understand
you actually go to England twice every year!"
"Three times, sir, when the winds permit. I have even seen the old
island four times, between January and January."
"What a pleasure! It must be the very acme of navigation to sail
between America and England!"
"It is not unpleasant, sir, from April to November, but the long
nights, thick weather, and heavy winds knock off a good deal of the
satisfaction for the rest of the year."
"But I speak of the country; of old England itself; not of the
"Well, England has what I call a pretty fair coast. It is high, and
great attention is paid to the lights; but of what account is either
coast or lights, if the weather is so thick, you cannot see the end
of your flying-jib-boom!"
"Mr. Howel alludes more particularly to the country, inland," said
Eve; "to the towns, the civilization and the other proofs of
cultivation and refinement. To the government, especially."
"In my judgment, sir, the government is much too particular about
tobacco, and some other trifling things I could name. Then it
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