« PreviousContinue »
intervals of recommending his goods, seemed the predominant aspect.
How is your son? inquired my friend.
I cannot say, Sir; I have this morning been exceedingly grieved with him,
May I ask the cause ?
It is very vexatious to a father when he wants to promote the interest of his son, to be always thwarted by perverse refractory ways; and he is of such an obstinate nature, there is no bending him when once his mind is made up; for this reason, I have tried what I can do by stratagem to get my own way, but he inspects particulars so minutely that I cannot succeed.
What is the present disappointment?
It is this, Sir : A few days since I had ån offer from a gentleman in a great way of trade, to take my son into his counting-house : he had seen him and thought he was a promising youth. Now, Sir, you may be sure that, as it was natural for a father, I was rejoiced at such a prospect; it would have been the making of him, and set him on his legs at once. He himself seemed pleased at first, but then he began to inquire into the nature of the business and the character of the gentleman; and when he found it to be one said to be not very honorable, and that the gentleman himelf did not worship God in his way, he said he could not consent; and I
have been hard at work these three days to endeavor to overcome his prejudices.
At that moment some other person came into the shop, and the man ringing a little bell, it was answered by the appearance of a youth about eighteen years old, to whom he gave a signal to go to the other counter, and attend to the customer. He went, and in a quiet way supplied their demands.
That's my son, Sir ; he's a promising looking youth ; its a thousand pities he's so self-willed; and you see, Sir,- he continued, he has no spirit in business; he will not, all I can do, learn to commend the goods, and endeavor to persuade people to buy. I believe he lets many a customer slip away; and yet, as I tell him, it's all to his own disadvantage, for the less I make, the less he'll get.
As the customers were sooon supplied, I went to the other side to enter into a little conversation with the youth. He had the appearance of great unhappiness, but there was a calmness in his countenance which gave a peculiar interest
Are you bringing up to your father's business?
I can hardly say, Sir; I am naturally helping my father, but I don't think he means me for this kind of business.
What are his intentions for you?
I believe he wishes to put me in a way more likely to advance my temporal interest.
But sometimes when we look to the temporal,
we forget the spiritual interests. Do you wish to combine the two ?
It is on this point, Sir, my father and I have some little difference ; for whatever becomes of the temporal, I hope never to forget the spiritual interest. Like a kind father, who believes all the good that can be desirable is to be obtained through temporal prosperity, he naturally fixes his mind on that only. He means it for my good, 'I know, Sir, and that makes it harder to seem to reject his kindness.
My friend, seeing me enter into conversation with the youth, contrived to draw the father with him over to my side of the shop; and I instantly took the advantage by saying to him,-I am talking to your son about his future prospects.
Ah, Sir !-he said, with a severe tone;-that's a matter we are at variance about. I have had three good opportunities for him, but he has refused them all : and if he wants to hang on with me in an idle way, he's mistaken.
Dear father,-said the young man,-only provide me an honest way of getting my livelihood, where I can serve God and my master, and you shall see I want no idleness.
It's such a stupid way of talking he's got, as if he could not serve his master, as his master, and surely, he can serve God like other people. He may say his prayers night and morning, and there's Sunday for church-going, as if he couldn't take care of his soul like other people ; but (taking up a bit of paper, twisting it hard, and
throwing it down again on the counter with an expression of violence) I know who I have to thank for this turn.
The young man's face, before calm, now flushed as though a feeling had been touched too acute to be kept in its full restraint ; his mouth half opened to reply, but he closed it again without a word.
I fairly tell you, then, the father continued, that if you persist in refusing to accept this offer, you may turn out and shift for yourself.
Father, I own I should feel it hard, but I can submit to that in obedience to your will, though I cannot, I must not, submit to the other condition. Oh! Sir! he said, appealing to.me in an accent of heart-rent distress, What would I give that my father could see my true reason for seeming to slight his kindness!
I'll tell you what, John, if it wasn't the same in every thing I propose, I should think you had some good reason for this; but since it's in every thing, I know it's your bad, obstinate temper. But it is in vain, gentlemen, to think of turning him; I can't make him feel : I might as well try to persuade this counter as to turn him.
That he made him feel now was too evident, for, taking his handkerchief out of his pocket, he hastened out of the shop.
Now you see, gentlemen, that's always the end, and I can make no more of him than that, till I
declare I know not what to do; it would perplex any one.
But you are quite well acquainted, it seems, with his reasons.
His reasons, Sir !-you see they are such reasons ! as if he would make a religion of his own, and tell his father he didn't know what serving God meant.
His spirit was getting much exasperated by the operations of his own mind, and I said,
I think a young man is to be respected for his reasons, if they bear upon his duty to God, and you should be very careful how you reject them, for they may come from a higher source than you suppose. At least he shows wisdom in making his calculation upon grounds reaching further than temporals; there is a time when they shall end, and eternal things only remain. calculating for his good; you are willing to let him go away from home to be provided for a period beyond the present : the difference is, that he makes a longer calculation than you do, and it appears to me that his plan has the most wisdom in it.
O Sir, I see you are on his side, and so you cannot enter into my feelings.
I will not deny that I am on his side, but I do not agree that I cannot enter into your feelings. I have this advantage over you, that having been by nature of the same way of thinking as you, and being now by grace in the same way as your son, I can understand you both, and I wish