« PreviousContinue »
the faces of the needy frightfully near the grind., trenchment in superfluities. “A penny saved stone.
is a penny earned,' you know, and—” Our merchant was a wholesale dealer in glass How much longer he would have moralized and china, and his profits from his able handling to the foiled and racked listeners was not to be of these fragile commodities were large and seen, for a knock at the door broke off the rapid, yet they bore but a small proportion to sentence in the middle. the sums realized by outside operations. On "Are you engaged, sir?" asked his partner, this particular day, a venture in cotton (if that! “No," answered the senior, catching sight could be called a venture which was sure to of the person behind the speaker. “These accrue to his advantage) bad netted him several gentlemen have just finished their business." thousands more than he had dared hope for, “What success, boys?" inquired the junior, and this event conduced, with other gains, to after ushering in the visitors, and shutting out enhance the complacency with which he took himself and the crestfallen pair. down his hat and drew on his gloves, prepara-' “A flat refusal, and a pious fatherly lecture tory to going home to dinner. Two of his upon the duties of Christian submission, and clerks, who had watched for his appearance economy !” said one of them, savagely. anxiously for some time past, met him as he “I am very sorry!" returned the partner, emerged from his retreat.
sincerely. “But I hardly dared encourage you “ If you please, Mr. Stickley," said the fore- to make the application. A closer-fisted man most, " we would like to have a few words with does not live-as I have reason to know."
“He can spend money!” observed another of His embarrassed manner made the employer the clerks, all of whom had now collected around master of the situation in a moment.
the committee of two. “The cost of his car“ Certainly, gentlemen!” he responded, in riage, horses, and coachman would, if divided his most polite manner. “Step in here!" re- amongst us, enable each of us to put more opening the office door. “Pray, be seated !" decent clothes upon his children and better food he continued, when they were closeted with him. into their mouths. But he knows as well as we
The men knew him well enough to feel sure do, that, just at this crisis, there is little chance that this lavishness of civility boded no good of our getting situations elsewhere." for their suit, but the spokesman proceeded, “You belong to the church in which he is a firmly :
deacon-don't you ?” inquired he who had “We find, Mr. Stickley, that the practice of acted as spokesman in the late interview, turnthe most rigid economy does not enable us to ing to a quiet young man, standing a little aloof live upon the salaries we arc now receiving from the excited group. Family and personal expenses are double what “I do!” they were three years ago, and the prices of “Then you had better leave! Sooner than labour in most departments of business have take the risk of going to Heaven in the same advanced proportionably. In view of these boat with him, I would jump overboard and facts, we have resolved to ask you to consider swim all the way. Outsiders stand a better the subject of an increase of our salaries. We chance than such professors as he. He always speak in the name of all the clerks in your em reminds me of a story I once heard of an old ploy."
quaker, who used to call to his shop-boy, in the How much it had cost the poor fellow to morning-'Bob! have you sanded the sugar make the plunge, no one knew; but supported and watered the whisky?' 'Yes, sir!' Then by the thought of wife and little ones, he gained come in lo prayers ! the climax of his address and stopped.
As we shall see, by and by, there was no one “ Really, gentlemen, you take me by sur-text of scripture which Mr. Stickley qnoted prise !” responded Mr. Stickley, composedly. more impressively tban, “Avoid the appearance “I had expected a more just appreciation of my of evil.” position from you, my fellow labourers. You The above is but another humiliating illusforget that the very circumstances which cramptration of the common failure among men to your expenditures must press with tenfold | make practice agree with precept. weight upon me. If I sell my wares at a higher The two visitors who had relieved the great price, it is because I am forced to do so by the man of his troublesome petitioners, were a disterrible rise in their original cost. In addition tinguished politician, to whom Mr. Stickley had to this, my taxes are trebled; the risks of trade the honour of playing boot-lick and parasite. quadrupled, and my family expenses have in general, and a millionnaire, to whose money. creased in the game ratio with yours. I am, in bags the same discriminating personage made point of fact, less able to pay your present humble obeisance, in body and spirit. salaries than I was two years since. It is my “We won't detain you five minntes, Stickley !" hope and prayer that these evil days may be said the former, to his fawning tool. “Mr. shortened; but, while they last, it grieves me Townsend and I are getting up a subscription deeply to disappoint you, my dear young friends, for presenting Hon. Boanerges Claptrap with a but it is utterly out of my power to grant your silver dinner-service, as a testimonial of the petition. Let me recommend to each of you grateful appreciation, on the part of his fellorand to your families, what is now the rule in citizens, of his recent efforts in our behalf. He mine-thrift, frugality; tho inost scrupulous re. I is aristocratic in his tastes, you know, and has
money enough of his own not to care for the read such pernicious literature. It is poison to pecuniary value of any present; so whatever we the mind and morals. I am more concerned do must be on a grand scale. We design call. than I can express, to see this in your hands." ing upon ten or twelve men only-liberal whole- “But, Mr. Stickley, there is a great deal about souled fellows, who will be glad to contribute religion in it! Mamma read it aloud with us, to such a cause. Then, when the plate is ready, and said that it could harm no one. She hoped we will have a public presentation--dinner, we would all be the better and happier for hayspeeches, etc. I must not omit to mention Mr. ing read it.” Townsend's proposition, which strikes me as Emma was too kindhearted to divulge that being happy as it is novel; namely that each she had supplied Mary, from time to time, with article sball bear, upon the reverse, the names dozens of other works of a similar character, of the donors in full. It will be a remembrance not having suspected until now that her friend of each of us."
read them without her father's knowledge, and " Very chaste and felicitous !” assented Mr. in direct defiance of his prohibition. Stickley.
"Nevertheless, my dear child, I cannot let Sprung from the people, limited in education, Mary have this book. Religious novels are, acand defective in breeding, he was, like all other cording to my way of thinking, blasphemous, purse-proad men, essentially snobbish. The Such solemn themes are desecrated by being wily politician had played adroitly upon his in- introduced upon the pages of a romance. I strument. To see his name in print, beside will discuss the question with your excellent those of his honourable friend, Mr. Townsenil, mother at some future time. Meanwhile, my and a select number of other leading citizens ; dear scholar, let me entreat you not to waste to take a part in the proposed presentations, and your precious time and vitiate your mind by to have “Ebenezer Stickley'' engraved upon reading this deleterious matter." the under side of the aristocratic Claptrap's Emma took back the book with downcast eyes soup-tureen, and figure, as his representative, at and swelling heart, and went slowly down the feasts where he could never hope to appear-all steps, without asking to see Mary. Her father this implied a tremendous ascent in the social was not a professedly religious man, and hapscale, to attain which our hero would have bar- pening to be by when the wounded and amazed tered conscience and right; would sacrifice that girl made her report of her teacher's scruples, he which, if his subordinates were to be credited, burst into a loud laugh. he rated more highly than he did either of these “Upon my word, that is a rich joke !" --money,
His wife gave him a warning glance. Since “Very chaste and appropriate !” he varied Mr. Stickley was a deacon and had charge of his cncomium slightly. “The idea is worthy of a Bible class, she felt it to be her duty to show those who conceived it. May I inquire what him outward respect, as one in spiritual authe testimonial will probably-cost?” He had thority. hesitated for a bigger word, but bis stock of "I'am discretion itself, mother!" said her dictionary language” vas not redundant. | husband. “Only, Emma, daughter, don't
“About six hundred pounds," returned the write yourself down as the chief of sinners, beother coolly. “You can put down your name cause you have, in the course of your life, read a for fifty, if you like. By the way we want you | few pleasant books, selected by your mother. If to head the list.”
| brother Stickley takes you to task, in Sabbath Mr. Stickley wrote his name with a flourish; school, for your sins in this respect, tell him received the thanks of his visitors with a kind of that when you repeated to me his remarks on self-satisfied humility, accompanied them to the the subject, I told you to ask him the meaning front door, bowed them down the street, then of the text about 'straining at a gnat and swalstarted up town to get his dinner.
lowing a camel.' That will settle him, I'll It was still daylight when he reached home. warrant! "The Heir of Redcliffe' is the smallest Upon the steps he overtook a young girl about of midges in comparison with the mastodons fourteen, a member of his Sabbath-school class. that he gulps down every day.”
“Ah, Emma, my dear! I hope you are well Serene in the consciousness of having rebuked this afternoon!" said the teacher, sweetly. “I dangerous error and rid his soul of the fearful am glad that I am here in time to open the responsibility of abetting sin, Mr. Stickley en. door. Walk in! I will let Mary know that tered his abode. you are here."
“Dinner is ready," said his wife, meeting him “I have not time to come in, sir," was the in the hall. answer. “She told me, the other day, that she "I shall hear Robert's task first !” was the had never read “The Heir of Redcliffe,' and I magisterial reply. have brought it for her. May I trouble you to | She had fondly hoped that he would forget it. give it to her?”
The boy was called, and with sullen fire in his Mr. Stickley took the well-thumbed volume averted eyes, mumbled out—"God is our reand opened it at the title-page. As he had | fuge and strength; a very present help in time feared, he found the words—"A Novel,” printed of trouble."thereupon. Pointing to these, he said sorrow. I cannot pursue the recitation! My soul fully: "I am sorry that I cannot oblige you, sickens at the monstrous iniquity of making inEmma; but I never allow any of my family to spired truths-the very breathings of Deity
which have been and still are the healing airs of acknowledging ; nor could she deny that, many Heaven to so many souls, the vehicle of punish- | times, they had but too good a right to regard ment to a refractory child; the detested scourge her as their accomplice in the undutiful work, for every peccadillo that happens to clash with What was she to do? She dearly loved her the parent's wilt.
boys and girls, and to refuse them the enjoy. Mr. Stickley's trials for that day were not ments which were granted freely to their over yet.
associates, and which she could not tell them she “My dear,” said his wife, while they sat considered sinful, would be cruel; would alienate at table, “the cook and housemaid have them from her also ; destroy ber influence been to me to-day to ask for higher wages. over them. Yet, did she, by taking the contrary They want 10s, a quarter more than I now give course, render honour and obedience to her them. They say that calico, which used to cost wedded lord ? them 6d. a yard, is selling for 18., and that she is not the only wife in the land who has they cannot get a pair of stout boots for less found herself in a similar dilemma. than 78. 6d.”
Mr. Stickley was one of the indefatigable men - "Then let them go without !” rejoined the who reprobate the idea of the necessity of master. “Now is the time for employers to recreation. If he spent the evening at home, stand their ground, and resist the impositions he wrote business letters or ciphered up his of the lower classes! I am sick of hearing account books. If he went abroad, even if his this cant about insufficient wages. Two of object were ostensibly to pay a friendly visit, he my clerks waited upon me, this evening, as a was apt to accomplish some end of his own at committee from the rest, with the same tale of the same time, were it only to gain some hint as high prices and hard times. I refused to to his host's character, plans, or prospects, that advance them a single penny, and I will not would serve him as a guide in future, and suffer you to raise the wages of your servants.” possible business operations. It was his boast
“I am afraid they will go, if I do not satisfy that he had never had a holiday since he was them,” said Mrs. Stickley, meekly. “And twelve years old, and that he would not know they are such good girls that I shall find it what to do with himself were he forced to take difficult to replace them.”
a day of rest. "Acting upon this principle, he “Nonsense! You can find dozens of servants never attended fewer than three services on at half price, whom you can teach all they need Sunday, besides the Sabbath school, and know, in a month. Let the girls go, if they grumbled sorely at the indolence of the pastor, only stay with you for money's sake! That is which obliged him—the zealous worshiper of as much gratitude as any of them have! With ordinances to seek ånother sanctuary, in order these two great daughters to help you, you to get the afternoon sermon, his own church might do your own housework. Many ladies being open in the morning and evening. are dismissing their servants and doing this, to! When, therefore, he sallied forth, on this night, aid their husbands at this crisis.”
into the lighted streets, he was bound upon no Mrs. Stickley knew that she would not be pleasure excursion, but a round of duty. His reduced to this strait, for her husband's respect-first halt was at the house of a brother deacon, ability or, as he would have said, gentility- a merchant named Felton, whose offices was in would suffer, were this course adopted; but she the same block with the tall buildings of understood tbat she was likely to lose two faith-Stickley and Co. ful, competent domestics, because she was not He frowned, slightly, when he was admitted permitted to pay them honest wages, and her by the servant. spirits sank.
"Your master has company has he not? I Her eldest son came to her rescue, after dinner. had better call when he is disengaged,” for the
“Mother! can't you save £1 a month out of sounds of lively music and the responsive beat the housekeeping fund, for Margaret and Bridget, of quick footsteps issued from the parlor. without father's knowing it?"
“No, sir-it is only the children.” “Yes, if he did not always insist upon The servant smiled in saying this, for she balancing my expense-book. He gives me an knew Mr. Stickley, and had a suspicion that abundance of money, but I must account for the entertainment going on within would every halfpenny I spend.”
displease him. “A false entry or two will overcome that Mrs. Felton was at the piano, and four couples difficulty," suggested the son. “ The end were dancing in the middle of the room-seven sanctifies the means.”
children, with their father at their head, his Mrs. Stickley looked reproachfully at the partner being his youngest daughter, a child of youth; but she was thoughtful, too. She eight. The music ceased, and the dancers believed in her husband's strict probity, although, stopped, as the august deacon entered. Mr. secretly, she often accused him of illiberality; Felton advanced to meet him without betraying but was it the usual effect of severe virtue to a symptom of confusion. produce laxity of conscience in those who had "I am an intruder upon your gaiety," the best opportunity of witnessing its display? remarked Mr. Stickley, bowing low to Mrs. That her children were learning, every day, Felton, with the seraphic smile that often better to evade their father's rules becoming prefaced a covert taunt. “I hesitated to enter, adepts in demure deception, she could not help for I imagined, from what I saw and heard
while in the street, that you were having a ball.” | They do not hanker after forbidden amusements, Mrs. Felton smiled, now, as did also her because they have lawful pleasures at home. Í husband. The inner blinds were closed and I am willing they should indulge in all recreations the curtains lowered, and they knew that not a in which their mother and myself are welcome ray of light, much less a glimpse of moving participants.” figures, could be discerned from the sidewalk. | “You are stubborn in your prejudices," Brother Stickley was convicted, in their minds, smiled Mr. Stickley, arising to go. “I sincerely of having fibbed, for the sake of heightening hope you may never find that what is now but the enormity of their culpable breach of pious the appearance of evil has led to downright, propriety. Unaware of his blunder, "Mr. unmistakable sin and sorrow.” Stickley noticed each child in turn, beaming “I have no fears upon that score," was the blessings from his bland visage upon their dis- | reply. appointed countenances, then, turning to his "I trust that my plain speaking has not host, requested a private interview.
offended you,” pursued Mr Stickley. Mr. Felton led the way into an inner room, “Not in the least! I do not think that you and the other opened his business. He had could say anything upon this subject, or with learned that Mr. Felton had, of his own accord, regard to the beauty of consistency in religion, advanced his clerks' salaries.
that could offend me, Mr. Stickley. You have Mr. Felton admitted this count of the your theory and practice, and I mine. The indictment.
same Lord is the judge of both.” “ It was to be regretted,” Mr. Stickley added, “Bad! bad! he is the loosest thinker and "that Mr. Felton had not conferred with his speaker I know !" muttered our hero, when he fellow-merchants-at least, with those who were was again upon the pavement. “A curse will his neighbours and most likely to be injuriously overtake him yet. He and Dr. Bliss are close affected by this step, before he announced his friends still. That argues sympathy of taste intentions to his employees.”
and unison of principle. I will just drop in at Mr. Felton could not see the expediency of the latter's, and intimate to the doctor how his this conference. He had acted conscientiously, favorite is going on.” after an examination of his affairs. Justice and Dr. Bliss was the pastor of the highly-favoured humanity had combined to form his purpose. church that claimed Deacon Stickley as an of. He asked no man to follow his example. ficer. The visitor found him extended upon a
" But the precedent, my dear sir ļ” objected sofa in the library, his head in his wife's lap. Mr. Stickley. “Already, to my certain know. “Do not disturb your interesting tableau on ledge, this act of yours has bred disaffection in my account, I beg!" said the deacon-like other establishments; given rise to unreasonable Carker, "all teeth with smiles”—as the minister demands."
raised himself to a sitting posture. “It does “I am sorry to hear that the demands are me good to see a man who can afford to rest. unreasonable,” returned Mr. Felton, drily. “If It is a luxury I never allow myself, which is, they are just, I hope they will meet with a proper | indeed, forbidden to one in my circumstances. response. As I said before, my conscience I am often reminded of the blessedness of that would not allow me to condemn a hard-working, thought, uttered, if I mistake not, by a clergyfaithful clerk, to semi-starvation, while I am man, doctor-"Why need I rest here? I have living in luxury; but I do not dictate terms to | an eternity to rest in.'". others. I am responsible for tbis act to Him! This was said in the most benevolent manwho has forbidden, upon the penalty of an ner, after he had been invited to a seat. Mrs. awful curse, the rich to keep back the hirelings' | Bliss refrained from correcting the phraseology wages."
of the quotation. She had long ago ceased to Mr. Stickley Alinched, but imperceptibly. resent his feline ways, and only noticed this
“You are a bold man, Brother Felton! you subtle scratch, by saying "Mr. Bliss is suftake the responsibility of many deeds which fering with one of his bad headaches. He has others would not dare attempt. I thought, as I attended two funerals to-day, besides visiting came in, just now, that most church members a number of sick persons, and the fatigue has would shrink from setting up a school of dissi- brought on the attack.” pation in their own houses."
The doctor was a man fifty years of age; a “ Do you imply that I have done this?" close student, a good pastor, and an earnest questioned Mr. Felton, calmly.
| preacher. He had, moreover, large humanity, Mr. Stickley hemined. "You cannot be and a fund of quiet humour, that stood him in ignorant, my dear brother, that in our connection good stead on this and many other occasions. it is deemed inconsistent with a profession of He guessed that the deacon was charged with religion to dance."
some complaint of his less circumspect brethren, "I know there is a prejudice against what and no man understood better than he how to has been perverted, in certain circles, from an take the wind out of his sails in advance. innocent, healthful amusement, into a disgrace- ' “ We were speaking of you not five minutes ful and public exhibition of affectation and ago, Mr. Stickley," he said. “One of the fu. indecent levity of behaviour. My children do nerals at which I officiated to-day was poor not attend balls, or figure at watering-places. Ludlow's.”
“Ab! is he gone, poor fellow ?" interrupted “I cannot do it, sir: but-excuse me for sugMr. Stickley. “It must be a blessed exchange gesting your line of duty, doctor-but it seems for him, and a relief to his family. He has been to me that your interference is imperatively a helpless burden upon their hands for these called for in this case. You are the spiritual two years past. I trust that he was prepared for leader of this misguided family. Already peothe solemn event, sir?"
| ple are saying that your partiality for Mr. Felton “I hope and believe that he was. The des. blinds you to his many and grievous failings." titute condition of his wife and children troubled “Ah! then, if I arraign him to appear at our him for awhile; but, at the last, he calmly left next session-meeting to give an account of the them in the Father's care, confident that He said demeanours, I must call upon you to prowould not disappoint his hope.”
I duce accusers and witnesses. I have heard of “Very gratifying, indeed !" Mr. Stickley's; his guilt from no one else." countenance was edifying to behold-a whole “The doctor will have his joke, I perceive, volume of sanctified resignation. ignation.
madam, even upon grave subjects !” said the “Mr. Felton and Mr. Ames rode in the car. deacon to Mrs. Bliss, wbo had been the amused riage with me to the cemetery," continued Dr. auditor of this conversation. “Manage your Bliss, and we talked over a scheme of helping ecclesiastical affairs in your own way, my dear the widow and children. Mrs. Ludlow is an sir. I beg your pardon for what you may conexcellent woman, and has contrived to struggle sider my officious zeal, my undue desire to keep on till now, without running into debt; but she the flock pure, to avoid the appearance of evil!" confessed to me, when I questioned her yester- “A commendable wish !” said the doctor, day, that she had not five pounds in the world. pleasantly. “We shall not differ there ; but, Mr. Felton collected within an hour a fund for to leave this matter for the present-we may funeral expenses, and our hope now is that we depend on you for assistance in carrying out our can raise enough, in a quiet, unostentatious way, design of aiding the widow and the fatherless?" to pay a quarter's rent in advance, and to pur “I must think the project over first !" Mr. chase a sewing machine; then I will guarantee Stickley suddenly bethought himself that it was that the family will get along without further nearly ten o'clock. “I am by no means conaid. Of course we mean to allow you the pri vinced that it is the most judicious method of vilege of assisting in this good work. We need teaching the family self-dependence. Nor am I about fifty pounds to accomplish what we de sure that it is in my power to contribute to this
object just now. I am beset by incessant appli“This is Mr. Felton's scheme, is it?" said cations for money for this and that cause, and Mr. Stickley, shaking his head, dubiously. unless I exercise some discrimination in giving,
“No, sir: I may claim the credit of devising I shall soon be a pauper myself. I hope your the plan, although Mr. Felton seconded it head will be quite well by the morning, iny dear warmly, and liberally.”
sir! Mrs. Bliss, I wish you a very good. “Strange, inconsistent man !” (mournfully). night !" “He attended a funeral this afternoon—".
The doctor took up the Bible for family “This morning !" corrected the doctor. prayers shortly after the visitor's departure.
“This morning, then-saw a fellow-mortal, The elderly couple had no children, and kept a member of the same communion with himself, early hours. His wife saw him smile, and then laid in the final resting-place of all flesh, and sigh, as he read the first passage upon which his this evening I found him absolutely dancing eye fell when the book was opened. with his children, while bis wife played a jig- “What is it, dear?" she asked. tune on the piano! What an example for him. He read it aloud, without comment, as I to set! he a father, a deacon in the church, and leave it with the sagacious reader :-“Ye pay the superintendent of the Sabbath-school!” tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin, and have
“His children are remarkably well trained," omitted the weightier matters of the law - judgsaid the doctor, “and four of them are already ment, mercy, and faith. These ought ye to have within the pale of the church, as you may recol- done, and not to leave the other undone.”
“They had better be out of it!" ejaculated Mr. Stickley. “Such vain pleasure-seekers do more THE PRIVILEGES OF POETRY. — They who can harm than good."
turn aside from the hard and macadamized road of - If that is your candid conviction your duty dry duty and daily labour to wander amid the glades is clear.” replied the doctor, gravely. "You , and flowery knolls of the imaginary world of nevershould cite them to appear before the proper aying
dying poetry are privileged beings; for they have a tribunal of the church, charging them with con
sense and a sensation snperadded to the ordinary disduct unbecoming the profession they have lifted
pensation of their fellows. They are for the time
above the smoke and stir of this dim spot made.”
called earth;" they are in another world, and they “I! and earn for myself their enmity, and revel in unworldly thoughts and unworldly associations; public odium besides !".
they become denizens of the golden sphere of romance; “ Considerations which should not stay you' and romance is the salt in the ocean of life, keeping for an instant, when opposed to the solean ob- its waters sweet and fresh amidst the turmoil and ligation to rescue a fallen brother," argued Dr. common-places of every-day action. -Cowden Clarke's Bliss, with inimitable seriousness.