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So calumny hath striven to blast thy fame,
And with a lying tongue and slandering lips
Flung the broad shadow of a dark eclipse
To drag a tedious existence on,
While life's best charm, domestic peace, is gone,
Truth's own revealer, and the time may come,
The truth that dwells within thy bosom's home :
You know Uncle Tom, gentle Reader : every body knows him, there is not a child in Hobart Town but feels delighted and runs out to meet him the moment he appears in the street: quite a standard is he too, as short, as fat, as hearty, as Uncle Tom are common expressions, and supposing his face to be not familiar to you, you will always find him, during these hot days, with his rotund person and stumpy legs shrouded in a pair of duck inexpressibles, while his upper man is encased in a jacket of similar light materials, and a broad brimmed straw hat protects his good-humoured face from the scorching beams of the sun. But in the winter time, you may perchance discover Uncle Tom walking up Elizabeth Street, or on the Old Wharf, as it is his invariable custom to ensconce himself behind a bason of well-peppered soup at the Commercial throughout the months of June, July and August; or should you come in contact with him out of doors, his capacious blue cloak, with its voluminous folds wrapt tightly around his body, will probably give you an idea of a Colossus imitation of a hedge-hog on the defensive.
Uncle Tom has a great many very singular opinions, one of which is, that selfishness is the main-spring of all our actions, and that however much we may appear to have been actuated by other motives, self, and nothing but self, has been the origin. Often has he argued this point with a friend very earnestly, and with some little warmth, and when the individual, the more firmly to clench his argument, would refer to Uncle Tom's own person and conduct as an evidence, he would always have a reply ready, with which to parry the attack successfully.
Uncle Tom is married-of course, as self-interest is his ruling passion, his marriage was not one of love. He might have had the beautiful and rich Miss V-; but weighing the disadvantages of her temper and character against her loveliness and wealth, the former preponderated in the scale; and then comparing Miss V— with the mild and placid, although pennyless, woman who is now his wife, he found the odds much in favor of the latter. He never would have conjugated at all, but self decided that wedded life was more conducive to happiness, than single, even with the addition of blessedness to it. And when this wife lay ill of a fever, and he attended her with all the anxiety of a fond and doting husband, watching and satisfying every half-breathed wish, giving with his own hands the medicines prepared for her, Uncle Tom would be very much nettled at any eulogy on his conduct, (for he is in reality a modest man) and considering every such commendation as an attack on his favorite dogma, would assert vebemently, that all the care he had so lavishly bestowed upon her, was only spent in the hope she would soon recover the full bloom of those charms, which first awakened his interested attachment.
There is not a better master than Uncle Tom. His assigned servants are comfortable and happy—with money sufficient for their wants, and plenty to ensure their cleanliness and respectability. Still Uncle Tom's inducement, if we are to believe his own assertion, is, and nothing but, self-interest. “ These men,” argues he, “if I am not kind to them will rob me, or commit some depredation on my neighbours, by which I shall get into hot water, and so to preserve peace between myself and those in the vicinity, it greatly affects me to secure to my servants every advantage necessary for them in their situation.” Thus Uncle Tom is affectionate to his wife, and kind to his servants from a motive, which is generally esteemed any thing but a commendable one, namely, selfishness!
When in England, Uncle Tom was in the habit of visiting gaols, and prisons, giving counsel and relief wherever it lay within the compass of his power; and here the poor, the afflicted, and the sorrowful may pour the full tide of their miseries into his ear, certain of his assistance and condolence; he would go a long way out of his course to aid with his purse a poverty-overtaken family, he would listen patiently and sympathetically to a tale of distress; and far from allowing the least praise for his truly generous conduct, he will study and exert his utmost to convince his friends, that his favorite position is still unshaken, as, in spite of all their arguments, he will prove, that his only motive was the love of selfapprobation, and that he would not plead guilty to such acts of benevolence, only that the inward satisfaction he experienced, more than rewarded him for the slight inconvenience he might undergo.
Such is Uncle Tom, forgetting that whatever increases our own happiness, without encroaching on that of others, ceases to be selfinterest, he has assumed a theory, which is founded on a false basis; yet it would be well for the world if all metaphysical questions were settled, and all theories put into practice after the example of Uncle Tom.
Mountains! ye who laugh at time,
Ye, who catch the earliest gleam
Ye where shelter and a shield,
your pines were waving free,
shall ever stand,
It has often struck me, that we might read a newspaper with much benefit to ourselves, even if weonly perused the list of Births, Marriages, &c. therein contained, did we seriously reflect on the immensity of heartfelt woe or joy a few simple words record; and never so forcibly has this opinion been brought to my mind, as when taking up an old newspaper the other day, the following announcement caught my eye. “Died on Sunday last, aged 24, George, the only son of Edward Fitzgibbon, Esq., of Henley Hall.” Poor Fitzgibbon, he was one of my dearest schoolfellows, and distant as is the time when boys we played together, it is with no little feeling of melancholy, I revert to his early death.
George was one of those who are generally termed pretty boys, without possessing a very manly or effeminate cast of countenance, there was that expression of sweetness which never fails to attract, and win the admiration of casual observers. He was always sickly, or rather ailing, and the extra care which the wife of our kind tutor bestowed on him, often made him the object of envy, among those who loved him less than I did. Being remarkably smart, and gifted with a retentive memory, he found little difficulty in working his way to the top of his class, which although it contained the elder and more advanced boys in the school, also contained not a few thick-headed dolts. About the time of our entering upon Virgil together; it was at about the close of the war in 1816, while things were scarcely settled; Fitzgibbon was taken from the school and entered the Navy. I recollect the pride that beamed in his mother's eye, when he made his first appearance in his uniform, and singular as it may appear, I had then a kind of foreboding, that the hope evinced in that glance would never be realized. For two or three years after this I lost sight of him. It is very seldom that school-friendships continue in existence after the individuals have launched into the world, and have been engaged in the toils, the business, or the pleasures of life. The clashing of interests, the coolness which acquaintance with the world flings over the warm gushing feelings of youth, opposite pursuits, opposite professions separate those who have been the most united in their earlier years, and characters who had anticipated much and lasting pleasure from each others' society, perhaps, once severed, never meet again on the great stage of human affairs. Like an angle, however, though far apart their course may be, there is a point where their thoughts meet, and that point is the time when their hopes were bounded by the play-ground, and their enjoyment comprised in some childish sport.
The next time I met Fitzgibbon was at an Election Ball, held at the county town of I had left London for the purpose of settling some business for my father, the adjusting of which had delayed me rather longer than I had projected when
starting. He was there, his naval uniform had been doffed, and I understood from himself, that finding the profession not at all suited to his constitution, he had relinquished every hope of renown, and was now merely enjoying himself until something more congenial presented itself to him. I noticed, in the course of the few hours I had the opportunity, that he seemed to pay particular attention to decidedly the most beautiful girl in the room, and I fancied that his attentions were not unmarked or rejected by her; and I was not far wrong in my conjecture. She was the daughter of Sir Everard Courtenay, and was entitled to a very large fortune on the death of an old aunt, and adding to her beauty every accomplishment, had become the object of attraction to all the beaux, and was the toast ofevery society, for miles round the country. Fitzgibbon had met her and her father at the house of a mutual friend, and a casual acquaintance soon ripened into the most affectionate attachment, before either had expressed, or even formed a thought of love. Here again he escaped from my observation, except once, when he called upon me in London, to inform me of his being just about to start for Paris, where he expected to meet Sir Everard and his
VOL. II. XO. XII.