HURRAH FOR NEW ENGLAND!
THE VIRGINIA BOY'S VACATION.
BY THE AUTHOR OF
"THE BOY OF SPIRIT" "WHEN ARE WE HAPPIEST?" ETC.
LETTER I. THE DOCTOR'S PRESCRIPTION II. FITTING OUT FOR THE CRUISE III. OUR MESSMATES IV. TALK ABOUT GREAT MEN V. OLD JACK VI. VISIT TO THE CUNARD STEAMER VII. MOODY DICK'S SISTER LOUISA VIII. DAVID'S GLIMPSE OF NOBILITY IX. BOSTON LIONS
HURRAH FOR NEW ENGLAND!
THE DOCTOR'S PRESCRIPTION.
FROM PIDGIE TO HIS COUSIN BENNIE.
Marblehead, July 1st, 1846.
Do you remember, my dear cousin, how scornfully we used to look at "little crooked Massachusetts," as we called it, on the map, while comparing the other States with good old Virginia? I don't believe that we ever even noticed such a town in it as Marblehead; and yet here I am, in that very place; and though I love our noble State as well as ever, I am beginning to think that there are some other places in the world fit to live in. I don't mean, though, that I have the smallest inclination to take up my abode in this town, but I should like to have you see it, for it is the funniest place you can imagine. The old, queer-looking houses seem to be placed cornerwise on the most crooked of streets, all up hill and down, and winding around so that I begin to think they have lost themselves and will come to a stop, when out they start, from behind some red or green house which they had run around just for fun. Then there are heaps, as we Southerners say, of droll little children running about, some of them quite nicely dressed, with no servant to take care of them; and yesterday, on the rocks that look out upon the ocean, I met a little boy who could scarcely walk tottling along beside one but little older, as independent and happy as if he might not at any time fall and hit his little white head against one of the sharp stones. They say that some of our most distinguished Congressmen, and even our United States Senators, have been brought up in this way, and though I don't see how these boys can ever learn to be polished gentlemen when they mix with all sorts of children, yet some of them are as intelligent as if they had done nothing but read all their lives, and as brave as their sailor fathers.
Yesterday a fishing-vessel came in, which had been out for several months, and I spied a little fellow clambering down a ladder, placed up to one of the tall chimneys, as fast as he could go, and then, starting out the door like lightning, he was by the water-side before the boat touched the shore, and his mother was not far behind him.
But how I am carried away by what is around me! I forget that you don't even know how I came to be here, and while I am writing are perhaps wondering all the time if I am not playing a trick upon you, after all, and dating from some place where I never expect to be. But I am in real earnest, Bennie, and will try and tell you, as soberly as I can, how I happen to be here.
You remember, the day that Uncle Bob brought the horse home for me to ride to Benevenue, he said something about Master Clarendon's not being able to ride Charlie much of late, so that I would find him rather gay. When I got to the place, I found every thing in confusion, and Dr. Medway talking very earnestly with brother Clarendon, who was looking quite thin, and not at all pleased.
"I should think a voyage to Europe would be quite as beneficial," he said, turning to the Doctor, with his proudest air, as soon as he had greeted me.
"No," replied Dr. Medway, smiling at his displeased manner; "you must have work, Sir,—hard work, and hard fare. It would do you no more good to take a luxurious trip in a steamer, than to remain quietly in your fashionable lodgings at Baltimore. Your dyspepsia, Sir, can be best cured by your taking a cruise in a Yankee fishing-smack, bound for the Banks of Newfoundland."
"Then I shall die," said Clarendon; "and I had almost as lief, as to be cooped up in a dirty fishing-smack with vulgar sailors, half-starved with their miserable fare."
"It will do you good in more ways than one," observed Dr. Medway; and he gave mother a significant look. "We poor Virginians think it impossible to exist except in a certain way; but you are a young man of sense, in spite of your prejudices, and will be very much benefited by a little more familiar intercourse with your fellow-men."
As I stood by, listening to this conversation, I was not surprised at Clarendon's reluctance to follow Dr. Medway's advice, but much more astonished when, after arguing the point half an hour longer, he called for Sukey,—his old mammy, you know,—and told her to have every thing in readiness for him to leave the next day.
As soon as the Doctor was gone, Clarendon began to see more plainly than ever the disagreeabilities of the scheme to which he had consented; but he was too proud to give it up after his word had been pledged.
"I wish I could find somebody to accompany me on this horrid excursion," he exclaimed. "Miss Sukey! there's no use putting in my guitar-music. A pretty figure I should cut, strumming away on that, upon the dirty deck of a Down East schooner! I can't have the face to ask any friend to accompany me. O ho! it's a desperate case!"
All at once, as if a sudden idea had struck him, while pacing the room impatiently, he turned to me:—"What say you, Pidgie, to spending the holidays on this fishing excursion?"
You may be sure that I was ready enough to accept the proposal, for you know I have always been crazy to go on the water, and like seeing new places above every thing.
"Indeed, and double indeed, brother, I would rather go to the Banks with you, than to see Queen Victoria herself. I'll run and ask 'ma directly if she can spare me, and if she will, I won't even unpack my valise, but shall be all ready to start in the morning."
So saying, I darted into 'ma's chamber, and she declares that my eyes were almost dancing out of my head for joy, when I told her of the proposal. At first she hesitated, for it was a trial to her to part with me so soon again; but you know Clarendon is the pride of her heart, and for his sake she at last gave her consent. Sister Nannie was grieved at having both her brothers taken from her, but she is a little woman, and always ready to make sacrifices for others; so she sat down very quietly to looking over some of Clarendon's clothes, and though a tear now and then rolled down her cheek, she would look up from her work with quite a pleasant smile.
Before I had time to realize what had taken place, I was perched up in the carriage with Clarendon, and in five minutes more had taken leave of every thing at home but Uncle Jack, who was driving us to the cars, in which we were to start for Baltimore.
You have heard so much of New York and Boston, that I cannot, probably, tell you any thing new about them, though, to be sure, when there, I felt as if the half had not been told me. All the streets and houses look so nice and comfortable in the New England towns, that I cannot imagine where the poor people live. At the hotel in New York, when I rang the bell, such a nice-looking young gentleman came to our door, that I thought he was a fellow-boarder who had made a mistake in the room. I asked him, very politely, if he would have the kindness to tell me where any servants were to be found, as they did not answer the bell.
He stared at this request, and then answered, quite proudly,—"I wait on gentlemen, my young friend; but we are all free men here."
I cannot get used to this new state of affairs, and should be quite out of patience, having to do so many things for myself, if brother Clarendon did not keep me laughing all the while with his perfect fits of despair. But he is calling to me to stop writing, for, since here in Marblehead they won't let him have any peace in sleeping till eleven o'clock, he insists on going to bed with the chickens, or he shall die for want of rest.
Love to all, men, women, and children, horses and dogs, from your affectionate cousin,
FITTING OUT FOR THE CRUISE.
TO BENNIE ALLERTON AT BELLISLE.
Marblehead, July 3d, 1846.
DEAR BENNIE,—Just now I heard a rolling of small wheels, and then the barking of a dog. Forgetting where I was, I thought of you and Watch, and walked to the window actually expecting to see you, with Watch in his new harness, drawing the little wagon. I only saw a strange boy, rolling a wheelbarrow along, with a great Newfoundland dog at his side, which I should have bought for you if I could have sent it back to Virginia. But, after all, you would not have liked it as well as Watch, and I am sure that I don't know of a fault he has, but chasing chickens and every thing else on the road, besides barking all night when the moon shines.
I always liked moonlight nights, but never knew half how glorious they were till now. Last evening, Clarendon said, it was too ridiculous for him to be going to bed when it was so beautiful; so he called to me to take a stroll with him on a cliff, not far from the house, which commands a magnificent prospect of the sea. I snatched up my cap in a moment, delighted at the proposition, and ran along at his side, as I always have to do, to keep up with his long, fast strides.
Even brother's melancholy countenance grew animated as he gazed on the scene before us. A bright sheet of water separated the peak on which we were standing from another rocky ledge, connected with the main land by a narrow strip, called Marblehead Neck, that looked like a wall inclosing the quiet bay. Behind us lay the town, with its strange, wild confusion of roofs and spires, and to the south we could descry Nahant and Boston, with Cape Cod stretching out beyond them, along the horizon. My eyes, however, did not rest on the land, but turned to the broad ocean, which lay beyond the light-house, that stood up like a spectre in the moonlight, and I thought I could spy here and there a sail among the many which I had seen that afternoon scattered over the waves.
Clarendon sat down on one of the rocks, and his love of the beautiful overcame, at that moment, his dislike to praising any thing in which he has no personal interest. "This is magnificent," he said, and commenced repeating with enthusiasm Byron's address to the ocean,—
"Roll on, thou dark blue ocean! roll," &c.
At the sound of his fine, manly voice, a boy about my age started up from a rock near him, and listened to the lines with the most profound attention. When they were concluded, he remarked with a modest yet independent air,—"That certainly is very fine, Sir; but we have poets of our own that can match it."
Clarendon at first frowned at what he deemed the height of impertinence; but as he looked on the boy's broad, open forehead, and frank, sweet mouth, in which the white teeth glittered as he spoke, his haughty manner vanished, and he replied quite civilly,—"So you know something about poetry, my little lad."
"To be sure, Sir," replied David Cobb, for such I afterwards found to be his name. "How could a boy be two years at the Boston High School and not know something about it? But I knew Drake's Address to the Flag, and Pierpont's Pilgrim Fathers, and Percival's New England, when I was not more than ten years old."
"Percival's New England!" said Clarendon, quite contemptuously. "Pray, what could a poet say about such a puny subject as this Yankee land of yours?"
"Do you not know that poem?" asked David; and we could see, by the moonlight, that there was something very like indignation at such ignorance in his fine dark eyes.
"Hear it, then, and see if you do not call it poetry."
If you could only have seen him, Bennie, as he stood on the cliff, with his rough, sailor-like hat in hand, and the breeze lifting his dark hair from his broad forehead, while, looking with absolute fondness on the scene around him, he repeated,—
"Hail to the land whereon we tread, Our fondest boast! The sepulchre of mighty dead, The truest hearts that ever bled, Who sleep on glory's brightest bed, A fearless host; No slave is here;—our unchained feet Walk freely, as the waves that beat Our coast.
"Our fathers crossed the ocean's wave To seek this shore; They left behind the coward slave To welter in his living grave; With hearts unbent, and spirits brave, They sternly bore Such toils as meaner souls had quelled; But souls like these such toils impelled To soar.
"Hail to the morn when first they stood On Bunker's height, And, fearless, stemmed the invading flood, And wrote our dearest rights in blood, And mowed in ranks the hireling brood, In desperate fight! O, 'twas a proud, exulting day, For e'en our fallen fortunes lay In light!
"There is no other land like thee, No dearer shore; Thou art the shelter of the free; The home, the port, of liberty Thou hast been, and shall for ever be, Till time is o'er. Ere I forget to think upon My land, shall mother curse the son She bore.
"Thou art the firm, unshaken rock On which we rest; And, rising from thy hardy stock, Thy sons the tyrant's power shall mock, And slavery's galling chains unlock, And free the oppressed; All who the wreath of freedom twine Beneath the shadow of their vine Are blest.
"We love thy rude and rocky shore, And here we stand. Let foreign navies hasten o'er, And on our heads their fury pour, And peal their cannon's loudest roar, And storm our land; They still shall find our lives are given To die for home,—and leant on heaven Our hand."
Did you think that a real Yankee could be so proud of living out of Virginia? I am sure those we have seen appear to be half ashamed of their country,—and to be sure it is not as good as ours; but I could not help liking this boy's warm, honest love of his native soil. Even Clarendon admired it, and, when he had done repeating his favorite lines, handed him a silver dollar, saying,—"There! buy yourself a book of just such poetry, if you choose, and if you can find any in praise of the Old Dominion, read it for my sake."
I knew that brother meant to do a gracious thing; but still there was something about David's appearance which would have made me afraid to give him money, and I was not surprised at the indignant flush which rose to his cheek, or the scornful way in which he threw the poor dollar over the rock into the sea.
"I am Captain Cobb's son, Sir," he said very proudly, "and must tell you, that, though a New England boy is not ashamed of earning money in any honest way, he never takes it as a gift from strangers. I should have pocketed your silver with great pleasure if I had sold you its worth in fish, or taken you out in the skiff for a day's excursion; but my mother would scorn me if I had taken alms like a beggar-boy."
I never saw Clarendon more confused than he was at this speech; yet he has so much pride himself, that he could not help liking the boy's honest love of independence. His curiosity was so much excited, that he prolonged the conversation, and discovered that David was the son of the captain of the Go-Ahead, the very schooner in which we are to sail to-morrow for Newfoundland. It will he the fourth of July, and the sailors were at first averse to going out upon that day, but concluded to celebrate it on shore in the morning, and depart in the afternoon. David is going to accompany his father on the trip, having studied a little too hard at school, and it being the custom here to intersperse study with seasons of labor.
"You see," he said, "that I am rigged already sailor-fashion"; and he pointed to his wide trousers, round jacket, and tarpaulin.
"O brother! can't I have just such clothes?" I asked. "They would be so comfortable, and I should have no fears of hurting them, as I should these I have on."
"You got yours for economy, did you not, boy?" said brother to David.
"Not altogether, Sir. They are the only ones proper for fishing. Of course, if you are going to work, you will get some of the same kind; for that finery of yours would be very much out of place."
Finery! Could you have heard David's tone of contempt, and seen his glance at brother's last Paris suit, you would have laughed as I did.
I think Clarendon is getting more patient already; for a few weeks since nothing could have saved a boy from a flogging that had dared to give him such a glance; but his good-sense is getting uppermost. "Well, Master David," he said, good-humoredly, "since you don't like our clothes, you must come to-morrow to our lodgings, and show Pidgie and myself where to get such beautiful ones as yours."
This morning, before we had half done breakfast, I heard a bright, pleasant voice asking of our host, in a free and easy way,—"Captain Peck, is there considerable of a pretending chap here who's going out fishing in our craft to-day? When the salt water has washed some of his airs out of him he'll be good for something; and his brother ain't so bad now."
You should have seen Clarendon taking as much of a glance at himself in the little wooden-framed looking-glass, opposite the breakfast-table, as the size of it would allow, when he heard this qualified compliment.
"A pretty way, that, of speaking of Clarendon Beverley!" he exclaimed, almost fiercely. "These Yankees have no respect for any thing on earth, but their own boorish selves."
"But he is only a little boy, about thirteen or fourteen, brother," I said, coaxingly; "and that's his way of praising." For I did not want to lose our new acquaintance. "He can show us where to get our clothes, just as well as if he had better manners."
The scene at the little shop where we went for our new clothes was comical, even to me, though I am used to brother's ways; so I could not wonder that some sailors at the door laughed out.
"I would like some coarse jackets and trousers for this lad and myself," he said. "Of course, we do not need any different under-clothes."
"That shirt of yours," said the shopman, pointing to the ribbon binding of a fine silk shirt, which had slipped below brother's beautiful linen wristband, "would be terribly uncomfortable when it was wringing wet, and soon spoiled by sailor's washing. Nobody of any sense would think of going to sea in such things as those."
Poor Clarendon! the thought of those red-flannel shirts was near killing him; for they were just like those our negroes wear, and so were the duck trousers. When, at last, he was persuaded to have them sent home, and put them on for trial, they did seem most ludicrously unsuitable. I never saw him, however, look so handsome in my life; for his tarpaulin is mighty becoming to his pale, dark face, and those jet moustaches of his, when he has not time to tend them and keep every hair in place, will be quite fierce. He looked as solemn when he got his sea-rig on, as if he was about preaching a sermon.
O, that reminds me that I have not told you of our visit to old Father Taylor's church in Boston! His text was,—"He that cometh unto me shall never thirst." And every word of the sermon was just suited to the plain tars whom he was addressing. He baptized some children more touchingly than any one I ever saw. Their mother was the widow of a sailor, who had been lost on a late cruise, and sat beside the altar alone with two little boys, the youngest an infant in her arms. As the old father took it from her and kissed it, a tear of sympathy with the bereaved parent actually fell from his kind eye, on the little, round cheek; and I shall never forget the manner in which, after the rite was performed, he replaced it in her arms, saying,—"Go back to your mother's bosom, and may you never be a thorn there."
Captain Peck, our host,—and a worthy man he is, who was himself a sailor till he was washed overboard and lost his health,—has just come in to say that it is time for "our chest," as he calls brother's portmanteau, to be on board; so I must say good by. My next will probably be sent from some port, into which we may run for a few hours.
FROM PIDGIE TO HIS COUSIN BENNIE.
Bay of Fundy, July 9th, 1846.
O Bennie, how I wish you were here! You used to enjoy so much skulling around that little pond of Mr. Mason's in his flat boat, what would you do to be bounding over the water as we are now? I am sitting Turk-fashion on the deck-floor, leaning against the mast, and, as you see, writing with a pencil, being afraid to use my inkstand, lest some stray wave should give it a capsize. There comes one now, that has washed our floor for us, and it needed it badly enough; nor do I mind the wetting, for I am bare-footed and my duck trousers always expect it. We have been five days now upon the water, and since we have thrown overboard the good things that Clarendon laid in for the voyage, and taken to sailor's fare, we have no more of that horrid sea-sickness. Hard biscuit and water are just as good as any thing else, if you only get used to it, and the fish which we caught this morning are delicious. We came upon a fine shoal of them, and for several hours had nothing to do but pull them in, one after another, as fast as we could put our hooks down. I got hold of a very big fellow, myself, but he was nearer drawing me out of the schooner than I him into it, till David Cobb came to the rescue, and gave such a tug at the line, that he was soon floundering about on the deck. I never knew what an apt comparison "like a fish out of water" is, till I saw him flapping round.
If you only knew David I am sure you would like him. He is as different as can be from our Virginia boys, and yet we are excellent friends. I thought at first that he did not know any thing, when I found out that he had never even heard the names of some of our most distinguished families, and I suspect he despised me in his heart because I was so ignorant about the old Pilgrim Fathers.
We have many an argument about New England and the Old Dominion, but keep our tempers pretty well, and each of us finds a great deal to boast of. There is one thing I can say which really troubles him, for he can't deny that it is a great honor to the State, and that is, that General Washington was born and brought up and died in Virginia. O, how he glories even that Washington was an American, and what would he not give if he could claim him for his dear Massachusetts! I used to think that the Yankees were all cold-hearted and never got excited about any thing; but David looks as if his soul was all on fire when he speaks of the Father of his Country, and he drinks in every word I can tell him of Mount Vernon. He has made me tell him over as much as three times all the stories grandfather told us of the time when he belonged to Washington's military family, and what he said to grandmother when they were both children.
There goes Clarendon, staggering up and down the deck from sea-sickness. He will not take enough of the sailor's fare to do him any good, and the wry faces which he makes over a few mouthfuls are pitiful. Before he could get the sails shifted, I am sure the wind would change, and though the crew try to be polite, they can't help laughing to see what an awkward hand he is at doing any thing. There goes the "Heave ho!" which sounds so delightfully to me.
There is one man who has just come up from below that interests me so much that I can't help watching him all the time he's in sight. The first time I saw him was the day we came on board. The schooner had dropped down a mile or two, and Captain Peck, our worthy host at Marblehead, came out in a little boat to bring some of Clarendon's clothes, which had been left by accident. He is a clever fellow, for though Clarendon was not half civil to him, he was always polite in his way, and his frank, well-meaning civility so won upon brother, that when they parted he apologized for his rudeness, and told the Captain that he had shown himself the most of a gentleman of the two.
Beside brother's extra trappings, Captain Peck brought a package of books, which Captain Cobb looked at with surprise, and asked, with an oath, who they were for. O Bennie! I should enjoy myself a great deal more if two or three of the sailors did not swear so dreadfully; but I hope when they have read those books they will stop using such wicked words; for what should they be but Bibles, sent on board by the Seamen's Friend Society.
"Let us throw them overboard," said "Brown Tom," a coarse, red-featured man, who is more fond of grog than reading.
"Pshaw! Tom, don't talk of treating a lady's present in that way," exclaimed Captain Peck, who, after his fashion, has a great respect both for religion and womankind, and his own wife in particular.
"O, if that's the case," remarked a melancholy looking man, who had not before spoken, "let us stow them away somewhere; for women always mean well, and perhaps it would be better for us if we followed their advice."
I thought he sighed as he said this, and I wondered what made him so unhappy.
"Well done for Moody Dick! he's sailing under new colors. Who would have thought of his hoisting a petticoat for a flag?" said Blunt Harry, an old, fat seaman, who is esteemed the wit of the crew.
"Not I," replied Brown Tom; "but if the giver of these books has a pretty face of her own, they are worth keeping; if not, I don't care for any of her lumber."
"Well, that she has," said Captain Peck, warmly; "you'll have to go round the world again before you find a sweeter face than Miss Louisa Colman's. She begged me to bring them on board, and ask each sailor to accept a copy for his own use."
"I'll take one for myself, and thank ye, too, for mine was left by mistake at the tavern, there," observed Old Jack, a quiet man, who had just come on deck. So saying, he took up the largest of the Bibles with an air of reverence, quite in contrast with his usual bold, careless manner, adding, as he saw the name of the donors on the fly-leaf,—"Bless the Seamen's Friend Society and Miss Colman, too, if she's like the rest of the dear ladies who take such an interest in us poor wanderers of the deep."
As the name of Miss Colman was mentioned, the face of Moody Dick met my eye, and never did I see such powerful emotion as his toil-worn features betrayed. His eyes, which are of that pale blue peculiar to mariners, were filled with tears, and, unable to control his feelings, he turned suddenly round towards the water; but his distress was evident from the agonized writhing of every limb and muscle.
The sailors, rough and coarse as they are, had too much real feeling to remark upon this surprising change, and in a few moments it seemed forgotten in the excitement of finally setting sail. When I next saw him, Dick's features were hard and stony as ever; but last night, when almost every one was asleep, I saw him bring out the Bible of which he had quietly taken possession, and I noticed that he had sewed a coarse covering over it, and held it as if it were made of gold.
When you and I, Bennie, used to kneel down so regularly, and say our prayers every night, I did not think that the same act would ever require a stronger effort of moral courage than any thing I have ever done. The first night we were out, after reading a chapter, as we always do at home, before getting into my little berth, I knelt down, without even thinking that there was any body on board who would not do the same thing. I was so taken up with the duty I was performing, that I did not notice if others were looking at me; for if ever I felt the need of the protection of God, it is now. The land is so full of things that men have made, and they are so busy all around you, that it does not seem half so much as if it were God's own world as the ocean, where every object, except the little vessel you are in, is of his creation. As I looked up and saw all the universe he had made, and round on the broad waters, and thought how soon, with one wave, they could sweep us out of existence, I felt the need of prayer more than ever before, and I cannot now imagine how those men could sleep, without first asking God to take care of them. I am afraid, though, that some of the sailors don't even believe that there is such a being, and they say his awful name without any fear, and ask him to curse each other every few moments, as if they had never heard what a dreadful thing it is to be under the displeasure of the Almighty.
When I got up from my knees, I heard a loud laugh from "Blunt Harry," who called out to Clarendon,—"Why don't you rock that baby to sleep, now he has said his prayers, and then say your own and turn in?"
Clarendon would have made some angry reply, but he has found out that there is no use in getting in a passion, for the men consider him on a perfect level with themselves, and will say what they choose to him.
"Let the boy alone," interposed Moody Dick. "I only wish I could say my prayers this night with the same childlike confidence."
"No, don't mind them, my fine fellow," said Old Jack, the same man who had spoken so warmly of the Seamen's Friend Society, and he gave me a rough tap on the shoulder, which even my coarse shirt did not prevent from stinging. "They all envy you, for I used to talk just as they do, and when at the worst I would have changed places with any body who had a fair chance of landing in heaven."
While this conversation was going on, Clarendon bit his lips with displeasure, and the next day he told me that I might as well say my prayers after I got into my berth. I was surprised that my proud brother, who scorns the idea of being influenced by the opinion of any one, should want to have me ashamed of worshipping God before those whom he pretends to despise. Though I love him dearly, I did not follow his advice, and when the second night I did the same thing, no one laughed at me.
The next day, David Cobb shook hands heartily with me, and said I ought to have been a Yankee boy; for though he had not been brought up to say his prayers himself, if he had, there was not that man living who should laugh him out of it. I shall try and persuade David to do right himself, as well as to approve it in others, for I remember mother's saying,—"Even a boy has his share of influence, and it is a talent for which he must account."
I will tell you more about Old Jack and Moody Dick when I next feel like writing. I do not know when I shall have a chance to send a letter, but I shall try and have one ready all the while. Give my love to all the children, and don't forget to remember me to the servants, especially old Aunt Molly.
Your absent but loving cousin,
TALK ABOUT GREAT MEN.
FROM PIDGIE TO BENNIE.
Banks of Newfoundland, July 15th, 1846.
I begin to feel, dear Bennie, very much as if I should like to hear from you, and sometimes I am a little homesick, when I think how pleasantly Bellisle is looking, and how happy you all must be. Then what would I not give for your pet bookcase with its treasures, the nice Rollo books and Marco Paul's adventures, and dear old Robinson Crusoe! I am tired, too, of looking at men, and fairly long to see some one who will remind me of mother, or my sweet sister Nannie, or of the "Queen of Flowers,"—you know who I mean.
I suspect that brother Clarendon has something of the same feeling, for yesterday I saw him take a miniature out of what I had always thought before was a watch-case, and it was such a pretty face that I don't wonder that he sighed when he looked at it.
But in spite of sighing and groaning, and hard fare and hard work, Clarendon is getting better very fast, and some of the sailors, who at first laughed at his affectation, are beginning to have a profound respect for him, and he in his turn seems to look much more benevolently upon mankind in general, and to be able to interest himself in the rough characters around him. I think he cut the greatest figure washing out his red-flannel shirt yesterday, and he laughed himself at the idea of some of his fashionable friends catching a glimpse of him while thus employed.
I do not like Captain Cobb much, though he is very shrewd, and sometimes tells David and me such funny stories; but he seems to have no principle, and has brought up David to think that if he can ever be a great man it is no matter whether he is a good one.
Yesterday, David and I were having one of our long talks, for we pass a great deal of time in chatting when the weather is not favorable for fishing, and I think we shall soon know pretty well the history of each other's lives. He was telling me about the Latin High School in Boston, and, from what he says of it, I am sure if a boy don't learn there it must be his own fault.
One day we were discussing our favorite characters in history, just as you and I used to do at Bellisle, and David was very much amused when I told him that those I most admired were Aristides, St. Paul, and General Washington. His favorites are Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Washington. So we agree about one of them, but differ widely as to the other two. David absolutely laughed when I mentioned St. Paul with Aristides, and seemed to think that I only named him because I had been taught that it was right to do so. I asked if he had ever read the life of Paul with attention, and this question appeared to amuse him still more; and then he told me he had been through the Book of Acts in Sunday school, and had learned several chapters in it by heart; but for all that he had never thought of St. Paul as a hero.
I asked him what made a hero,—if it was not courage in the time of danger.
"Yes," he said, "but it must be in action, not in words."
I reminded him then of some of the Grecian orators, who made themselves immortal by their speeches, when their country was in danger, and asked if their words were not considered heroic.
This question puzzled him a little, and he was not willing to own that it was a similar case, but I defied him to find a Greek or Roman who had hazarded his life more freely for the good of others than St. Paul. Then I turned to the chapter containing Paul's speech before Agrippa, and asked him where he could match its eloquence. Then I read over the account of the sufferings of this brave Apostle, and demanded of David whether any other man could give a catalogue of so many and great evils so manfully borne. Finally, we reviewed the story of Paul's shipwreck at Melita, and David was forced to avow that my hero showed a calmness and self-possession in that hour of danger which few mariners display.
If I only had had you to help me argue the point, I should have made him own that Paul was very far superior to Alexander the Great.
You must not think, from what I say of David, that New England boys are not as piously brought up as the Virginians; for I believe the generality of them are much better instructed; but you know we have had peculiar advantages, and David has been but little at home with his mother, and his father cannot teach him what he does not himself know. David will be a good man one of these days, and would be better now if he had not the idea that there was something manly in being wicked. I am so glad that I was not brought up to think the same, for I begin to see how true it is, that, the older we grow, the more difficult it is for us to change our course.
There is poor Moody Dick! I really believe he would like to be a better man. They say that he is not more than twenty-five, but I thought that he was over thirty, for his face is wrinkled already, and there are gray hairs around his temples.
Yesterday, David and I were talking about our sisters. I told him all about Nannie, and that I thought she was the prettiest girl in the whole State of Virginia, and that was saying a great deal for her.
He allowed that this might be true, but he had a sister of his own who was a match for her, and began describing her quite like a poet, and then quoted some pretty lines from a piece addressed to a sister, by Mr. Everett, I believe.
The words seemed to touch Moody Dick, who was pacing the deck near us, for he stopped and listened to them with that same distressed expression of countenance which I had noticed before, and when they were finished he said, half unconsciously,—"A sister! I have a sister. There is none like her."
"Have you seen her lately?" I asked. "It must be hard to be so much away from her."
"I have not seen her for many years; but what is that to you?" he replied, almost angrily.
My question might have been injudicious, and I immediately made an apology for it, which appeased Dick. He walked up and down the deck two or three times, as if debating some point in his own mind, and then, returning, said, in a very sad tone,—"My life has been a useless one, but I wish to make what is left of some service to others. You two boys are still young, and may be saved from the errors into which I have fallen. Come with me to the end of the vessel, where there are no listeners, and I will tell you the story of my life, and you will then know better how to appreciate a sister's love than you have ever done before."
You may imagine that we accepted this invitation very readily, but just as I was seated Clarendon called to me to come quickly to him, for he was very ill; so I had to jump up and run away.
I found that brother had only an attack of pain in his chest, which proceeds from his dyspepsia; but it alarmed him very much, and when it was over, I saw that Dick was reading his Bible by the dim light of the only lantern on board, and as I knew it would do him good, I did not disturb him again that night. I am really anxious to know more about his sister, and why he staid away from her so long.
I don't think that it would be pleasant to go to sea for a business, on the whole. I used to imagine that a sailor's life must be one of the happiest in the world; but now I see it has very great trials. I am so glad that the people on land are beginning to feel an interest in those on the water; for they sacrifice much to procure for them the comforts and luxuries of foreign lands.
I expect, Bennie, that you will be half asleep before you have done reading this letter, for I was a little homesick when I began it, and that makes any one stupid. Brown Tom saw that I looked, as he said, "rather watery," and, by way of cheering me, he told me, if that black cloud in the northeast was coming over us, I would have something worse than home-sickness before night.
It does look rather like a squall, and I am not ashamed to own that I should very much prefer to be in my little snug chamber at Bellisle, out of the reach of harm.
Tell Corty that I have taken a sketch of a schooner, that has kept near us for the last twenty-four hours, which is just like the one I am in; and when she sees it I hope, with a little explanation, that she will know as much about one as I do, though she has never seen any kind of craft but a canal-boat, and I don't think they are worthy to be named with any thing but Noah's ark. O, how I want to see you all! I never will leave home again. Remember me to every thing I love, as your affectionate cousin,
FROM PIDGIE TO BENNIE.
Banks of Newfoundland, July 16th, 1846.
Little did you think, dear Bennie, while sleeping last night quietly at Bellisle, that your poor cousin Pidgie was in danger of being drowned. But so it was. The storm, of which Brown Tom had warned me, came on with tremendous force, and our poor little schooner was tossed about like a feather on the angry waves. I was so sick, however, from the roughness of the sea, that I feared little, and realized less, of our critical situation.
Clarendon says that Captain Cobb showed himself a brave man, and David was more active than the oldest of the sailors. As for brother himself, he did wonders. Old Jack told me this morning, that, when we came on hoard, he thought Clarendon was such a good-for-nothing that his life was scarcely worth saving; but there was not a man on board who showed more presence of mind and energetic courage. He really looks better this morning for his exertions.
Sick as I felt last night, there was one thing struck me forcibly, and that was, that those who had sworn the loudest, and appeared the boldest in wickedness since we started, were most frightened, and prayed most heartily to that Being whose existence they were before hardly willing to acknowledge. I can give you no better description of the scene than is found in the Psalm, which is so often quoted by those who are at sea; for the ship did indeed "reel to and fro like a drunken man."
Old Jack was perfectly composed. And well he may be; for he says that he always thinks in a storm that he may arrive shortly at a better port than he otherwise could reach in many years. He has been telling us this morning how he came at this happy state of mind, and several of the sailors were made serious enough, by the perils of last night, to listen patiently to his story, and perhaps you may do the same.
Before it was considered possible for a sea-faring man to be perfectly temperate, Jack took more than his share of grog; and, when on shore, spent all his time in dissipation. Luckily, he had no wife to be made miserable by his errors, though perhaps a good woman might have had an excellent influence on him. As he had no home of his own, his time when in port was spent at some miserable tavern by the water-side, where he could meet the crews of vessels from all quarters of the world, and join with them in folly and vice.
Two years ago, he had returned from a long voyage to the East Indies, and landed at New York. One Sunday evening, when staggering along by the docks and looking at the different ships, trying to meet with some of his old messmates, he noticed what seemed to him a most curious-looking vessel, and called out to a sailor near him,—"What in the name of sense is that odd-looking craft, without sail or steam, good for?"
"Have you never before seen the floating chapel?" asked the trim-looking tar whom he accosted. "Come aboard, and you will be never the worse. It's a church, man! Don't stare your eyes out, but walk inside and hear good plain doctrine."
"No, no," replied Jack; "I can't be pressed into that service. I am in no rig either for going into such a concern; and, besides, it's ten long years since I have been inside a church, and I should act so strangely that they would throw me overboard. There's never a word in the gabbling one hears at such places that I can understand."
"But this preaching is meant for sailors," continued Jack's new acquaintance, "and there is nobody else there; so you will be rigged as well as any of the congregation. Come along! let's board her right off."
Jack had a great deal of curiosity, and, after a little more parley, consented to go into the floating chapel. I wish I could repeat to you the sermon which he heard there, with the simple eloquence with which he delivered it to us. The text was,—"The sea shall give up its dead." The clergyman imagined the millions who should rise, on this momentous occasion, from the recesses of the vast ocean, and as he pictured the probable characters of many who should then come forth to judgment, and their unfitness to stand before that holy tribunal, Jack felt as if he were describing some of his own friends whom he had seen ingulfed by the waters. When thus summoned, as they must be, before long, to appear, with the same tempers and dispositions which they had displayed in life, would they be found prepared for a heaven of purity? Then came a vivid picture of the perils of a sailor's life, and the probability that its termination might be equally sudden. The sermon closed with an earnest exhortation to each one then present to live every moment in such a state, that, if death should surprise them, they might rise again to life eternal; and Jack, as he listened to the concluding words, felt as if the warning were the last which would ever fall on his ears. He might have soon banished the seriousness occasioned by this visit to the chapel, among his jovial companions, had he not met with a loss, which he now considers a most providential occurrence.
On returning to his boarding-house, Jack went to his room, and, on going to his chest, found to his dismay that it had been opened during his absence, and all that remained of his wages for the last cruise stolen. He rushed down to the landlord in great distress, but obtained little satisfaction; and there was something in his manner which made the poor sailor think that he had known of the theft. Jack left the house in despair, not knowing which way to turn, when he met the same sailor who had induced him to go to church, and who now offered to show him a more comfortable lodging-place.
"Don't talk to me of lodging!" Jack exclaimed. "I have not a penny in the world, and must ship myself in the first vessel that goes."
Jack's companion, with seaman-like generosity, offered him half of all he owned in the world, and was certain, that, if he would go to the Sailor's Home, he would find friends who would assist him in recovering his stolen treasure. Jack allowed himself to be led by his companion, and soon reached the comfortable building which had been erected by one of those benevolent associations which are an honor to the Northern cities.
The poor wanderer felt a greater sense of comfort than he had experienced for years, as he entered a pleasant little chamber in this truly homelike abode. When he had made the acquaintance of the kind-hearted landlady, he found her willing to let him remain, even after he had told her of his destitute condition; and she promised that every effort should be made to restore to him his hard earnings.
On going back to his snug quarters, after this conversation, there was something like thankfulness to the Giver of all good in Jack's heart. By his bedside he found a Bible, a volume which he had not seen since the one his mother gave him was lost, five years before, when he was wrecked upon the coast of Africa. He thought of the sermon which he had heard that afternoon, and took up the book to look for the text,—"The sea shall give up its dead." The first words upon which his eye fell were,—"For this my son was lost and is found." The beautiful story of the Prodigal Son, as he had heard it in childhood, came full into his mind, and he remembered how often he had read it at his mother's knee. The tears rolled down his cheek, as, sitting down beside the little pine table, he read again that touching picture of God's love for his wandering children; and when he came to the confession of the penitent son, it burst forth from his own heart.
From that hour Jack has been a changed man. Some of the benevolent persons in the city of New York, who have the welfare of mariners so much at heart, procured him a new situation, favorable to his improvement in character; and the next ship in which he sailed was commanded by a pious captain, who was a good friend to every man on board. When he returned from this cruise, he felt too old for another long voyage, and for the future was going to try and content himself with being out for two or three months on expeditions like that in which he is at present engaged.
Perhaps, dear Bennie, I have tired you by repeating this long story, which cannot be as interesting to you as it was to me from Jack's own lips, in the morning after a night of such excitement, with the sailors standing around, listening attentively to every word of it. Even brother Clarendon was touched by the earnest exhortations to them with which the narrative closed; and it seems as if being out of society had made him more serious than he ever was before. He laughs at me now very often, and says I was cut out for a Methodist preacher; but on Sunday he did not read any of the novels he brought with him, and though that does not seem a proof of much goodness, yet in him it shows improvement. If he should get his health, and become a pious man, what a comfort he would be to 'ma; for she thinks he is almost perfect now.
We have just "come to" in a fine shoal of mackerel, so I must quit writing and go to fishing; for David and I have a great strife which will catch the most on the voyage.
Love, as usual, to every body, from yours,
VISIT TO THE CUNARD STEAMER.
FROM PIDGIE TO BENNIE.
Nowhere in particular, July 22d.
I was almost in despair, dear Bennie, of ever getting a chance to send you the nice long letters I had written. Though we had been nearly three weeks from home, we had not stopped at any port, or spoken a single vessel. Yesterday evening, Clarendon was amusing himself with a spy-glass which he brought with him, and David and I were wondering whether it could make something out of nothing,—for there was no land in sight, or any thing else to spy at, that we could perceive. Brother's eyes, however, were better than ours; for he saw a speck in the distance, which he found to be a vessel of large size, and he called the captain to take a look at it. Captain Cobb pronounced it forthwith, from its peculiar form and the day of the month, to be one of the British steamers, which had got a little to the north, on its way to Halifax. He soon found that his conjectures were right; and as she appeared to be at rest, and the wind was fair, we made towards her with all possible speed.
It is a marvel to me how such a great, unwieldy thing can float on the water, especially as there is so much iron about it. After all, I like our old fishing-smack better than being within continual hearing of that monstrous engine; and then the smell of smoke and steam would, I am sure, take away my appetite, so that I could not even enjoy one of their splendid dinners.
But you have no idea, Bennie, what elegant style every thing is in on board these steamers. Two or three turns on the long, shining deck would be quite a morning walk, and the immense dining-room appears larger still, from the mirrors on every side. I had heard so much of the state-rooms, that I expected more than was reasonable; and when I saw them, the idea of passing night after night in such little closets was not agreeable. The pantry presented a beautiful assortment of glass and china; but every tumbler and cup had to be fastened to the wall by hooks, or, in case of rough weather, there would be fatal smashing. The castors, too, looked so droll, suspended over the table like hanging lamps!
The ladies appeared quite as much at home in their delightful saloons as in the most luxurious apartments in the city, and few Virginian drawing-rooms could make such a display of Wilton carpets, velvet lounges, and splendid mirrors.
These steamers must be nice things for women and children, for it cannot seem at all as if they were at sea when the weather is pleasant, and they are so used to spending their time in reading and working that it does not much matter where they are, if they keep on with these occupations. I suppose these ladies would have been miserable on such an old schooner as ours,—and some of the men, too, who looked almost as effeminate. I think Clarendon himself would very much prefer one of these nice little state-rooms, where he could make his toilet so comfortably, to his straw-bed in the old Go-Ahead. I am sure a dinner on board the steamer would be much more to his taste than biscuit and water, even with such nice fish as we caught this morning for a relish. He pulled up a whole barrel full of them himself, and that gave him a most excellent appetite.
At first, Clarendon declared that he could not go on board the steamer in his sailor rigging; but he had no other with him, and at length the desire to see what he called "civilized people" once more carried him over. You should have seen some pretty ladies, who were sitting in the dining-room, stare at him.
"That is a remarkably genteel-looking man for one in his condition," remarked the oldest of the group. "What kind of a vessel did he come from?"
"I heard one of the gentlemen say, as it approached us, that it was a Yankee fishing-smack," observed her daughter.
"He walks about as if he had been quite used to elegance," observed a third, "and does not stare around like that plump little fellow beside him, who is too fair to have been long on the water."
You may be sure that "the plump little fellow who stared about" was your cousin Pidgie, for David never looks astonished at any thing, and has so often visited all kinds of vessels that he is quite at home in any of them. He was able to explain all the machinery to brother and myself, pointing out the improvements which have been recently made in steam navigation with a clearness that I never could equal. I don't believe, though, that Clarendon heard a word of this explanation; for the remarks of the ladies in the dining-room had reached his ear, and he was terribly discomfited at being taken for a Down East fisherman.
David really seems to have more independence than my proud brother, for he don't care what people take him for, so there is nothing disgraceful about it, and verily believes that there is not a situation in the world which he could not do honor to, or make honorable.
Captain Cobb did not go on board himself, but deputed David to deliver a message to the captain about some fish, and no man could have discharged his commission with more quiet indifference. You could see at a glance that the son of the owner of the fishing-smack Go-Ahead considered himself quite equal to the captain of the royal steamer.
"Have you had good luck in fishing this season, my fine fellow?" said an English gentleman to Clarendon, who was standing with his back towards him.
I would have liked to have seen brother's face at being thus addressed; for I knew that there was a pint, at least, of the best old Virginia blood in his cheeks and forehead. The moment that he turned round, there was something in his air which showed the man of the world his mistake.
"I beg your pardon, Sir," he said quickly. "Your dress made me mistake you for one of the sailors; but I see from your complexion that you have not been long on the sea."
Clarendon received the apology very graciously, and now became interested in conversing with the stranger. Before parting with the acquaintance made thus unceremoniously, they had exchanged names,—for cards they had none at hand,—and the English gentleman partly promised to visit Clarendon Beverley at his own plantation of Altamac, which brother is to superintend on his return home.
There was a young Italian girl on board, as nurse to one of the ladies, who reminded me of a poor little fellow that recently died at Boston. David told me about him, and said that his face was the saddest that he ever saw. He earned a scanty support in a strange land by exhibiting two little white mice, which he carried in a small wooden cage hung around his neck. He offered to show them without asking for money, and when they ran up and down his arms, and over his hands, he would look upon them with the most mournful affection, as if they were the only friends he had on earth. Every one who saw him longed to know his history; but he could speak but little English, and shrank from the notice of strangers. He was taken sick and carried to the Massachusetts Hospital, where his gentleness won him many friends. But they could not stop the progress of his disease, or comfort his poor, lonely heart. The night before he died, no one near him could sleep for his piteous moaning and sad cries,—"I am afraid to die; I want my mother."
O Bennie! if we had seen this poor little fellow, so unprotected and sorrowful, with no means of support but exhibiting those poor little white mice, we should, I am sure, have felt that we could not be too thankful for all the comforts of our dear home. Yet, when I heard this story, the contrast with my own favored lot did not at first make me happier; for I began to realize how many miserable beings there are in the world, whose suffering we cannot relieve, and may never know. I could not eat a mouthful that day, for thinking of the melancholy little Italian boy. I wonder if that was his sister on board the steamer! How could his mother let him go so far away from her? Perhaps, though, she was starving at home, and had heard of America as a land of plenty.
I don't think that I shall ever want to go abroad myself; for they say that in foreign countries one sees so many poor, miserable children; and that would make me so unhappy that I should not enjoy any thing. I said so to David; but he talks like a young philosopher. He seems to have a way of keeping himself from feeling badly about others, though he has a very good heart, and, if he gave way to it, could make himself as unhappy about others as I sometimes do. He says he could enjoy looking at St. Peter's quite as much if there were a few beggars around it. I was sure, for my part, that I could take no pleasure in looking at the most beautiful building, if I saw any one who was suffering at the same time.
Clarendon laughed when he heard me make this remark, and said that I was too chicken-hearted for a boy, and ought to have been a girl. He need not smile at me, for he feels himself more quickly than the New-Englanders, though, after they have weighed any case of suffering in their own minds, they would do quite as much to relieve it. I can never think them cold-hearted, after visiting Boston and seeing their hospitals and schools. While I was there, there was a tremendous fire in the neighbourhood, by which a great many poor people lost their all. But the intelligence was hardly received before thousands of dollars were subscribed for their relief. They certainly have a great deal of real feeling and generosity, and if they would only express a little more of it in manner and words, every body would allow them to be, what I know they are, the kindest people in the world, always excepting the dear old Virginians. They speak, act, think, and feel just as they ought to do. You will perceive, from this last remark, that I am not turning traitor to the Old Dominion. We have been so successful in our fishing that I hope ere long to see it once more; and, till then, shall remain affectionately yours,
MOODY DICK'S SISTER LOUISA.
FROM PIDGIE TO BENNIE.
Schooner Go-Ahead, August 1st, 1846.
You will think from my last letters, dear Bennie, that I have lost all interest in Moody Dick; and to be sure I did forget his story in the excitement of our visit to the Cunard steamer.
The evening after that great event was so pleasant, that David and I, who in general are great sleepy-heads, had no desire to rest; perhaps from having seen so much that was new during the day. The sailors are too used to such visits to think any thing about them; and, besides, they are a mighty independent set of men, and care as little for the world as the world for them. Clarendon sat on one end of the schooner reading some English papers by the moonlight, which was intensely bright, while at the other end Brown Tom and some of his friends were regaling themselves with a smoke and a long yarn. I had not seen Dick since morning to notice him, but could not help observing him now, as he walked about with the air of a man who is trying to free himself from some melancholy thought. I did not interrupt him, when he passed the place where I was sitting with David, but two or three times he halted as he came by us. My Yankee friend was giving me a lively description of a clam-bake at Swampscot, in return for a picture I had drawn of life on a plantation in Virginia; but though it was most amusing, I could not help pitying Dick. By and by he stopped near us, and stood looking earnestly at something which he had taken from his bosom. A sudden wave struck the vessel, which gave it a tilt, and in preserving his footing Dick dropped a small locket on the edge of the deck, which David caught fast as it was slipping into the water.
As he handed the trinket to its owner, I could not help seeing that it held the miniature of a lovely child, not more than four years old. The hair was very light, and curled so sweetly, that the eyes were like Lily Carrol's, only a little sadder; but the mouth seemed as ready to smile as hers always is. The face was not at all like Dick's, but yet it reminded me of what his might have been when a child.
"O, how beautiful!" I exclaimed involuntarily, as David placed it in Dick's hand.
"Do you think so?" he asked, earnestly. "Look again at this merry face, and tell me if it ever ought to have been saddened by sorrow."
"But, you know, 'by the sorrow of the countenance the heart is made better,'" I replied, wishing to soothe the grief which he evidently felt, as he held the miniature for me to look at it again.
"Better!" repeated Dick, sternly. "There could not be a better heart than my sweet sister Louisa always had. That picture gives only a faint idea of her lovely face, for it represents its least pleasing expression, and she had not then reached the height of her beauty. Yet it is very like," he added, gazing sadly upon it. "Even now I seem to hear those rosy lips utter their first sweet lisp,—'Dear brother.'"
"No wonder that you loved her, if she was even prettier than this!" I exclaimed; "for I could lay down my life for such a sister."
"I did not love her," he answered, to our great surprise. "You are astonished at the confession; but I am not sure that, affectionate as you boys both seem, you either of you know what true love is. I was proud of Louisa. When she was an infant I liked to hear her praises; and as she grew more and more beautiful, and began to pour out the first woman feelings of her guileless heart upon me, I received them with gratitude, and really believed she was, what I called her, 'my heart's treasure.'"
"Then why do you say that you did not love her?" I inquired, hesitatingly.
"Because years have convinced me," he replied, "that I was even then, what I have ever since been, one mass of selfishness. I never gave up a single wish for her pleasure, or made one effort to add to her happiness. Never say, my boys, that you love any one, till you find your own will giving way to the desire to please them, and that you can cheerfully renounce your most cherished plans for their sake."
As he said this, Bennie, I asked myself whether it could be true that I did not even love my mother, and tried to think whether I had ever made the least sacrifice of my will to her comfort. O, how many acts recurred to my mind of selfish imposition upon her yielding gentleness! I am afraid that we boys all take the kindness of our parents too much as a matter of course, and do not often enough question ourselves whether we are making any return for their love.
But I am getting to scribble away my own thoughts quite too freely. Yet it is only a year since I could think of no other commencement to a letter than "As this is composition day, I thought that I would write to you."
As Dick thus spake of his own want of consideration for the feelings of his little sister, he became exceedingly agitated and was unable to proceed. Clarendon, who had finished reading his papers, came to the side of the boat where we were sitting, and told me that he was going to turn in, and that it was quite time for me to be asleep too. I was very reluctant to go, but when brother was out of hearing, Dick said,—"It is as well. I find I have not self-command enough to go over the sad story of my own folly. If you will give me a pencil and some paper, to-morrow I will write such portions of it as I think may interest or be of service to you. Do not criticize the expressions, for it is many years since I have done any thing of the kind, and the life I have led has about destroyed all traces of my early education."
Of course, David and I were obliged to accept this promise in lieu of the evening's entertainment which we had expected, and marched off to our berths.
The next day we came upon a fine shoal of mackerel; so every one was busy, and it was not till nearly a week afterwards that Dick handed us two closely-written sheets of paper, with a caution not to show them to any one else. David and I read them with much interest, and I copied them to send to you. Here they are, and you must take care that I have them safe on my return.
CONTINUATION OF DICK'S STORY.
"It was not from pride that I was unable to go on with the history of my own early years; but I find that I had not the fortitude to bear the sad recollection of my own selfishness and ingratitude. My little sister's image rose before me with such sweetness and purity that I could not utter another word.
"I will pass over the years of my infantine tyranny till, when at the age of fourteen, I became possessed with a strong desire to be sent to a public school. My father was sitting in his large arm-chair, in the porch, after tea, when I made this request, which, at first, he refused to grant.
"'I shall never be any thing but a baby,' I exclaimed angrily, 'brought up with nobody but a mere child, and that a girl, too, for my playmate. Do send me where I can make a man, and be a match for other boys of my age.'
"My old father looked very sadly at this outbreak of passion, but did not reprove my disrespectful tone. 'Where do you wish to go?' he asked, soothingly. 'Can you find any one who will love you better than your sweet little sister and I do? She would be very unhappy if I were to send her dear brother away.'
"'And so,' I said, 'I must be tied to Miss Louisa's apron-string all my life, for fear the little baby will cry for me! If my interest is always to lend to her pleasure, I might as well give up all hope of ever being any thing now.'
"At this moment, Louisa, who sat swinging on the garden gate, fanning her fair cheek with the little round hat which she had just been trimming with roses, caught the sound of my angry voice; and never did a cloud more quickly obscure the sweet star of evening than the shadow fell on her young face. She dropped her hat beside her on the grass, and the ever-ready tear rose to her dark hazel eye; but she dashed it away, knowing that I was always angry with her instead of myself when I made her weep. She left her seat, and, coming up the walk with a timid air, stole to my father's side and whispered,—'O, don't cross Richard, father! If he wants to go away from us, let him. He will be happier where there are boys of his own age.'
"'And what will you do, my sweet pet?' asked my father, fondly, as he drew her to his knee. 'Will you stay alone with your old father, and try and comfort him.'
"'O, yes indeed!' she answered earnestly, as she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. 'We shall get along so nicely together, and be so happy when we have pleasant letters from Dick, telling us how he is improving in every thing.'
"Hers was love; for she cared nothing for her own loneliness in comparison with the gratification of my wishes.
"So I left our quiet country home, with all its holy influences, for the turmoil and heartlessness of a large school, where I soon became the ringleader in all sorts of mischief. Before long, accounts of my evil doing reached my father; but Louisa, incredulous of evil, as the pure ever are, persuaded him that her brother had been misunderstood, and not treated with sufficient gentleness. 'His spirit has been imprudently roused,' she said, 'and that makes him perverse and forgetful of his better self. But all will soon be well again.'
"By being more cunning in my wicked exploits, I contrived to hide them from my teacher, and consequently was allowed to remain at school for several years, till considered ready to enter college. During this time I had made very short visits at home, and almost dreaded the long vacation before entering the Sophomore class at Harvard University.
"It is possible that in some respects I might have improved in appearance during my residence at school; but evil tempers and evil habits will leave their traces on the countenance, and my excellent parent sighed as he looked upon the hardened face of his only son. Louisa, also, found something unpleasant in the change, but said that no alteration would have pleased her which made me differ from the dear little brother with whom she had passed so many happy hours. I could not say the same of her; for, though my baby sister had seemed perfect, the tall girl of fifteen, who stood at the garden gate to welcome me, was lovelier still. The responsibility of presiding over her father's household and her anxiety for me had infused a shade of thoughtfulness into her otherwise lively countenance, which might have made it seem too full of care for one so young, had not the sweeter Christian principle changed it to an expression of quiet peacefulness.
"When I told of my school follies at home, Louisa would sometimes sigh; and then I would be angry at what I named her 'daring to dictate to me.' But I never could frighten her into approving what was wrong. I was not happy in her society, for much of my time of late years had been spent in a manner of which she could not fail to disapprove, and her whole life was at variance with mine. I do believe, now, in spite of her unwearied affection, that it was a relief to her when the vacation was over, and she had no longer the annoying presence of her wicked, wayward brother.
"Sometimes Louisa would allude to the way in which we had been educated, entirely unconscious that I not only had given up all religious observances, but even dared to make them a matter of sport. I was half ashamed, and quite as much provoked, when at parting she handed me a book of 'Private Devotions,' with a mark, worked in her own hair, at a prayer for absent friends.
"'You had better keep this book for yourself, little Methodist,' I exclaimed, trying to laugh off my vexation. 'Students have no need of such text-books, I can tell you.'
"'But students need the protection of an Almighty Creator,' she replied, seriously, 'and their absent friends, also, are only safe under his keeping. I always pray for you, my dear brother, as our mother taught me to do; and I had hoped that you had not given up the petition for your sister which you also used to say at her knee.'
"This remark brought before me the image of our departed mother, as she looked the last time I remembered to have seen her, seated in an easy chair which she rivalled in whiteness, so mild and calm, with the little curly head of my baby-sister in her lap, while she dictated to her the simple form of prayer,—'God bless my dear brother!'
"As the stage-coach rolled away from my father's door, I could not banish the vision called up by Louisa's parting words, and I then resolved to try and become what my mother would have wished. Vain resolution! Six weeks saw me immersed in all the dissipation that the city afforded, and in three months I had an empty purse, enfeebled health, and a hardness of heart which would have taken some men years to acquire.
"To pay my 'honorable debts,' as I called my gambling ones, I wrote to Louisa, requesting her to ask my father to send me a fresh supply of money. She sent me a moderate sum in a purse of her own knitting, which she playfully observed, 'would not part with its treasures unless they were to be worthily employed.'
"The funds so easily obtained were soon scattered to the winds, and I sent a repetition of my former request to Louisa, couched in the most affectionate language, adding many words of endearment, without once thinking of the meanness of thus employing her affection to pander to my own selfish gratification.
"But I was mistaken in Louisa! While she thought that she could benefit me, there was no limit to her kindness; but her principles were too firm for weak indulgence. She replied to my demand kindly, but decidedly. Her conscience would not allow her to impose on the generosity of our excellent parent, and to take from him that which was necessary for the comfort of his old age, for the sake of indulging me in my vicious pursuits. She begged me to give him an honest statement of my affairs, and to assure him of my resolution to renounce the follies in which I had become thus entangled, cautioning me against endeavouring to warp his judgment by expressions of affection, while my whole conduct showed such utter disregard of his happiness.
"These were the first words of severity which I had ever heard from Louisa, and only her devotion to our father could have called them forth. I was in a perfect rage at the receipt of her letter, and determined to do something which should make my sister repent of her boldness.
"That night my effects were all packed up, excepting a few valuables, of which I disposed at any price, to pay off my debts to my reckless companions, and the next day saw me on my way to New York.
"When I arrived at that city, I wrote a few lines to Louisa, but not a word to my father. I remember them as plainly as if they were now before me, for they haunted me for years. These were the cruel words with which I took leave of the sweetest of human beings:—'Since you think, Miss Louisa, that my father is too poor to support me, I will no longer tax his kindness. I can take care of myself, and be free from your reproaches. I am going to sea in the first vessel that sails from this port. I care not where it is bound, so that it bears me away from those that once loved me, but who have now cast me off from them for ever.'
"The first ship which I could find was just starting for a long whaling voyage; and, careless of consequences, I entered it as a common sailor, little aware of the trials I was about to endure. A fit of sea-sickness made me soon repent of the rash step that I had taken; but it was too late to return; the vessel kept mercilessly on its course, carrying me away from my only true friends. The tyranny of the coarse captain brought painfully to my remembrance the indulgence I had always received from my kind parent, whose only weakness was the readiness with which he yielded to my wishes.
"At first I refused to have any thing to say to my messmates, many of whom were morally better than myself; but I was naturally social, and, soon forgetting my refined education, began to enjoy their conversation. I became quite a hero among them, and led them into mischief in every port at which we stopped. Many of our pranks would have brought us before the civil authority, had we not sailed away before their authorship was ascertained.
"After an absence of three years I returned to New York, with nothing in the world which I could call my own but my sailor's clothes and my last month's wages. As soon as we were discharged I repaired to a low tavern near the dock, with some of the most unworthy of the crew, determined that my family should never hear of my arrival in the country. On taking up a paper one day, I saw, to my surprise, among the advertised letters one to myself, which was speedily procured for me by a messmate, as I was anxious not to be seen in the more frequented part of the city.
"The letter was from Louisa. I have it still, but it is too sacred to meet any eyes but my own. It contained all that Christian principle and sisterly affection could dictate to recall a wanderer home, and it went to my heart. Inclosed was a large sum of money, the fruit of her own labor during my absence; and she informed me that another letter containing a similar inclosure was in the post-office at Boston. After much inquiry, my father had discovered the name of the ship in which I had sailed, and the probable length of its cruise, and therefore Louisa had expected my return to one of these ports during the summer, if I was still alive. Our dear parent, she informed me, was ready to receive me with open arms; and, for herself, her affection had undergone no change.
"You will of course conclude that I did not delay one moment, after the receipt of this letter, returning to a home where such an angelic being waited to receive me. It seems impossible to me, now, that I could have done otherwise. Yet so it was. Pride, my besetting sin, made me inflict still deeper wounds on that gentle heart.
"I had determined, as soon as I could procure suitable clothing, to go directly to Charlottesville, for that was the name of our village; and for this purpose I walked for the first time toward the business quarter of the city. As I was going up Broadway, in my ragged sailor's dress, keeping close to the inside of the walk to escape observation, I saw a pale, slender girl coming towards me, accompanied by two gentlemen, one of whom was a fine-looking officer, in a naval uniform. The lady was engaged in animated discourse, and, by the pleasant countenance of the gentlemen, very agreeable, for one laughed aloud, apparently at some remark which had dropped from her lips.
"In an instant I recognized my sister, and was ready to fall on my knees before her; but then I remembered my own shabby appearance, and deferred our meeting till I could execute my present design, and make myself more respectable.
"As I passed I saw her face grow sad, for she caught a glimpse of my dress, and though the glance was too hasty for her to recognize me, yet I doubt not that it brought her poor brother to her mind, for I heard her sigh deeply.
"As I went on my way, my mind was full of bitterness. Whenever I had done wrong myself, I always began to imagine that others had injured me; and now I tried to persuade myself that Louisa was indifferent to my welfare, and had only sent me money for fear that I should disgrace her by appearing again at home. 'Proud girl!' I exclaimed, 'you need not fear that such a miserable wretch will claim your relationship, or disturb your enjoyment of congenial society.'
"When Satan can find entrance into the soul for such wicked thoughts, they soon drive out all better ones; and, before I had reached the tailor's shop to which I was going, I had determined never to return home.
"Without taking any notice of the letter I had received from Louisa, I secured a berth immediately in a vessel bound for the Pacific, and for three years again deserted my native land.
"About eighteen months after this ship sailed, we fell in with a man-of-war, and I went on board. The moment that I saw the captain I recognized in him the officer whom I had seen with my sister in New York. For once the love of home was stronger than my pride, and I asked anxiously if he could tell me any thing of Miss Louisa Colman.
"The instant that I made this inquiry, the captain gave me a keen, scrutinizing glance, and then replied quickly,—'You are the brother Richard, I presume, of whose fate Miss Colman has been so long uncertain?'
"I was taken too much by surprise to deny this fact, and Captain Hall continued,—'I had the pleasure of becoming intimate in Dr. Colman's family, and my wife is devotedly attached to your sweet sister. Through her I heard of your absence from home, and the grief it had given to all who loved you. My belonging to the navy seemed to give me an interest in Miss Louisa's eyes, and shortly before I sailed, she implored me to make inquiry of every ship which came in my way, to discover, if possible, whether you were still among the living.'
"'I saw her in New York,' I remarked very coldly, as the scene in Broadway recurred to my mind; 'and though it was only for a moment, I perceived that she was in excellent spirits.'
"'Miss Louisa Colman can never be long unhappy,' he replied, sternly, 'while she leans on Heaven and employs her whole time in doing good to others. Misery is their lot alone, who, to gratify their own selfish whims, will trample on the happiness even of their dearest friends.'
"I felt the reproof contained in these words, but was too proud to show any emotion, even when Captain Hall gave me a description of the scene at home, after my first departure became known. In her grief, Louisa never forgot what was due to her father, and the cheerfulness which she managed to maintain, notwithstanding her affliction, was all that supported his broken spirit. Captain Hall then informed me that the old man's health was failing, and his last letters from America had spoken of his increased weakness.
"This information was a dreadful blow, but it did not make me a better man. I tried to drown sorrow in intoxication, and almost obliterated the remembrance of home, excepting when, in the silence of night, it would come over me with irresistible power.
"When, after the lapse of three years, I once more approached my native land, I was much more unworthy of being recognized by my friends than in returning from my previous voyage. Still I proceeded directly to Charlottesville, and stopped at the old mansion, which I had not seen for six long years. Alas! it was tenanted by strangers. A new tombstone was in the village grave-yard, and on one side of it the name of my father, and the other bore my own. I asked the sexton, who was just opening the church for an evening lecture, when Richard Colman died. He replied very readily,—'O, about a year since. The old gentleman heard of the loss of the vessel in which he sailed, and dropped away himself very suddenly.'
"I dared not inquire after Louisa, for I felt that she must look upon me as the destroyer of our father. I hastened to Boston, and had determined on leaving the country for ever, when, by accident, I had tidings of my sweet sister.
"After the melancholy information I obtained at Charlottesville, I had become a temperance man, and took up my abode at the Sailor's Home. While there, a poor man, who had been ill for months, and finally was obliged to have his leg amputated, spoke often of the goodness of a young lady who had been often to see him, and whom he considered almost an angel. My curiosity was excited, and I inquired of the excellent landlady the name of his friend, and was answered by a warm tribute of praise to my own sister. I found that she was living in the family of an aunt, and was devoted to benevolent objects of all kinds, but chiefly interested in schemes for improving the temporal and spiritual condition of seamen. O, my poor Louisa! I knew, at that moment, that love for her miserable brother's memory had dictated these exertions.
"Yet even then I did not seek to see her. 'I will leave her in peace,' I said to myself, 'for she thinks I am dead, and it would be better for her if I really were.' Still, now that she was alone, I could not bear to go so far from her again, and therefore made up my mind to enter the fishing-service, that I might not long be absent from the city.
"You may remember the day that Captain Peck brought the Bibles on board, which had been left for distribution by a lady of Boston. That lady was my sister, and I trust that the bread which she thus cast upon the waters may indeed be returned to her before many days. I have read that Bible daily, first, because it was her gift, and then because I found that it could give me more peace than I had ever known before in my whole life. I shall go to my sister as soon as we return, and I feel that she will not cast me away. I have so impaired my constitution, that only a few years may remain to me; but whatever time I am spared shall be spent in repaying as far as possible her unwearied affection.
"I have written this story with great reluctance, but my heart was almost breaking from so long repressing its emotions. You are still boys. Try, then, while it is in your power, to make those who love you happy, instead of laying up years of remorse and misery by selfish indulgence of your own wishes, at the expense of their comfort and peace. Read now the book which I have so lately learned to prize, and you will not have to look back upon the grave of a father whom you never honored, and the counsels of a mother so long despised."
Poor Dick! Although he was so unkind, do you not feel very sorry for him, Bennie? I long so to hear of his meeting with his sister, that I am really impatient to return. David did not say much after reading this story, but I know he thinks a great deal about it. Yesterday he said to me,—"Did you ever know, Pidgie, that girls were so tender-hearted? I think I must often have hurt my little sister's feelings. She is a good little thing, and, though not quite so pretty as that picture of Louisa Colman, yet a very fair-looking girl in her way."
I suppose this long letter will not go till I have a chance of writing another, all about myself; but if it does, you ca imagine that I am spending my time pretty much as I have described before; and believe me still your affectionate cousin,
DAVID'S GLIMPSE OF NOBILITY.
FROM PIDGIE TO BENNIE.
Schooner Go-Ahead, August 16th, 1846.
You will see by the date, dear Bennie, that more than two weeks have passed since I last wrote to you. In the mean time your poor cousin Pidgie has been lying on his straw-bed, sick with a fever. It has been rather gloomy, to be sure; but now that I am better I can think of nothing but the kindness of the sailors. It must be the salt water which keeps their hearts so good and warm, for when any one is in real trouble they are as tender as little children. There were two or three of them, whom I had not even thought worth mentioning, that spent every moment, when they were not busy, in trying to amuse me. One had been to China, and you don't know how many curious things he had seen there. He tells me that there is a Chinese museum in Boston, and when I go back there I shall visit it, and I will try and remember every thing worthy of notice to tell you on my return. How many pleasant evenings we shall spend together, in the old school-room at Bellisle, with all the girls sitting by the long window, or near us out on the porch!
I love the sea, and yet I long to take a stroll down the lawn before your door on the sweet green grass. It is a blessed thing that travelling of any kind has so much to interest, or else how would any one ever be able to make up his mind to leave home?
Since I have heard poor Dick's story I don't much wish to go to a public school; but Clarendon says that's a silly prejudice, for it was the same disposition which made him unhappy at home, that prevented the school from being of service to him. Yet I am afraid that I have not principle enough to go among so many boys and do what is right. It is harder to be laughed at by those of our own age than by older people. I have learned this lately, for I find that I don't feel half as much ashamed when brother makes fun of what he calls my Methodistical habits, as I do of David's ridicule. He has a way of putting aside all the reasons I give him for doing right, as if they were so utterly unworthy of a boy's consideration, that I hardly dare to try and argue with him.
A few nights since, one of the old sailors took out a pack of greasy cards, and, calling to one of his companions, said that he would teach David and I to play a two-handed game, which we should find very amusing. David was all eagerness to learn; but I told him that I had rather not touch them.
"Nonsense, man!" said David; "I thought that you had too much sense to be afraid of little pieces of pasteboard, with red and black spots on them. They are not going to poison you."
"But I have promised my mother that I would never play cards," I replied; "and, besides, it would give me no pleasure, for I have heard of so much evil from the use of them that I cannot see them without pain."
The old sailor, who had only wished to please me, was very angry at what I said, and began swearing dreadfully. David tried to pacify him, and proposed that they should take a game together, and he'd be bound that I would want to play before they had done with it.
"Would you wish," I asked, "that I should be tempted to break a promise to a widowed mother, who never in my life denied me any thing that was reasonable?"
"No!" said David, after a moment's thought; "give me your hand! You are perfectly right, and I honor you for it."
Before he had time to say any more, Brown Tom came in to look for a gun, which had been brought on board; for the water was covered with ducks, and he was anxious to have a shot at them. I should like to try my hand in the same way; for when fish and birds are used for food, my conscience don't hurt me about killing them. That's the reason that I like mackerel-fishing, though I have no fondness for mackerels themselves, for they are cannibals. We use a piece of one for bait for the rest, and don't have lines more than three or four yards long. This is a very different thing from catching cod, where they pull them up through many fathoms of water. Clary says that next year he means to go out to the Banks for cod, if he can get some of his friends to make up a party for the purpose. You never saw any one so changed as he is.
Last week there came up a storm, when we were near the land, and they hauled into port. Clarendon walked off on shore in his fishing-clothes, without appearing in the least ashamed of them, and went to make a call on a gentleman in the place, whom he had seen in Virginia a year or two since. I wish I had been well enough to have gone with him, for he saw a great many things which were new to him, and he says that British America is as different from the United States as if it were not a part of the same continent. None of the crew minded walking about on shore in the rain, and while they were gone I was alone, excepting Dick, and he was on deck writing a letter to his sister, to send across the country and prepare her for his return; for you know she thinks that he is dead.
When David came back, though, I had fun enough; for he gave me the most amusing description of every thing he had seen.
"Hurrah for New England!" he exclaimed, as soon as he got on board. "John Bull don't beat Brother Jonathan yet. Let them talk of their lords and their ladies; there is not a gentleman in Boston that is not quite as noble-looking as the one that I saw, and a great deal more knowing, I can tell you. We saw a splendid carriage and four, with a troop of soldiers in red tramping after it, and a passably pretty flag flying over them. I asked a little boy whom we met what they were about, and he replied, that they were escorting a great British general, who had just come over to the Provinces. I ran forward to get a peep at the wonder, and had a good stare at the old fellow; and such another fright you never saw. I wished I had a temperance tract to give him, for his face was redder than the sun last night, when it went down in a cloud, and his eyes looked like stoppers to a whiskey-bottle, which had got soaked through. He'd better not have much to do with fire-arms, for he'd blow up to a certainty. They say he lies in bed till twelve o'clock every day, and then does nothing but just drink and eat, and drink and smoke, till midnight. I am glad that our government has no such loafers to maintain."
"But did not the place itself look flourishing?" I asked, amused at his warmth.
"No, indeed!" he replied; "every body had a constrained air, as if they were in bondage, and it made my blood boil to see two fine-appearing men waiting so obsequiously on a good-for-nothing young scamp, just because he had a title to his name. I hope that I shall never live to see the day when there is any such nonsense tagging to my label as they string on to theirs. How much better George Washington sounds than the Honorable Alexis Fiddle Faddle, &c."
"That's a nobleman I never heard of," said old Jack, laughing at David's vexation; "but Nelson is a very fine-sounding name, for all it's an English one."
"And the Duke of Wellington, too," said I, "is not an ugly title, and I would give a great deal to see the man who bears it."
"Ah! ah!" said David, shaking his head; "you Virginians will never get over some of those Tory notions you got from the old Cavaliers, that had to clear out of England when Cromwell made it too hot for them."
"And you Yankees," I replied, with equal warmth, "will always have the blind obstinacy of the Barebones Parliament, and think that there is no morality or religion in the world but your own, and that calling a man an ugly name will make him a better Christian."
We might have gone on disputing thus till we had made each other very angry, had not Old Jack stopped us by saying,—"Come, come, boys, be done quarrelling! Don't you both belong to the same country? When you have sailed round the world as I have, Old Virginny and Boston Bay will seem all the same thing, and you will love every inch of ground over which the stripes and the stars wave. I love all Yankees, from Maine to Texas; and if we would only keep tight together, we could whip all the world."
"That's sound sense," said Clarendon, who had just come in. "We Yankees should stick to our motto,—'United we stand, divided we fall.' In our days, we think too much of our being 'pluribus,' and too little that we are 'in unum.'"
Don't Clarendon deserve three cheers for that speech? To think of his calling himself a Yankee! Why! I have seen the time when he would have knocked any one down who had dared to say the same thing of him. And when Jack, sung out, in a tremendous voice,—
"Hail Columbia, happy land!"
Clary joined in with all his might, and so did the rest of the sailors, and such a singing of Yankee songs as they kept up for a full hour, you never heard. If brother practises that kind of music, he'll find hard work in fetching his guitar to match it.
Captain Cobb has just told us, that, when we have caught a few barrels more of mackerel, the schooner can carry no more, and then right about for Boston Harbour. O, how my heart jumps with delight! Home, home, sweet home! Your happy cousin,
FROM PIDGIE TO BENNIE.
Tremont House, Boston, August 27th, 1846.
You will see, dear Bennie, that I am once more on dry land, and a very nice place it is that I have anchored in. Shortly after I last wrote to you, the Go-Ahead had her full complement of mackerel, and, with hearty rejoicing, we set sail for home. Fortunately, the wind was fair, and in a few days we came in sight of Marblehead, which had lost none of its peculiarities during our absence.
David and I were right sorry that the time of our parting was so near; but Clarendon gave him a warm invitation to visit us in Virginia. Captain Cobb did not think it at all unlikely that we might have a visit from his son one of these days, for New England boys think nothing of being a few hundred miles from home.
I did not, however, bid David good by at Marblehead, for he promised to come up to Boston and show me the lions. On Saturday, he appeared at the Tremont, and I scarcely knew him, for he looked so nice in a suit of new clothes. Clarendon was glad to give me into his hands, for he is enjoying himself in his own way with some very pleasant young gentlemen, to whom he brought letters of introduction.
There is no use in saying that New-Englanders are not hospitable, for brother has been invited out every day, and he says that the dinners are quite equal to any that he has seen at home, and that the conversation is the most intelligent to which he ever listened. David actually began dancing for joy at this remark; for he thinks Boston men of the present day are superior to all the rest of the human race.
You will wonder why we stay here; but the truth is, that we have no money to get home, as brother has not yet received the drafts from Virginia that he expected to meet him on his return from the Banks. While waiting for them to come on, I am determined to see all that I can, and we cruise off every morning and evening on a voyage of discovery.
Yesterday I visited the Chinese Museum, and there will be no use now in my going to China itself, for I can tell how every thing looks almost as well as if I had been there. Then I saw the Institution for the Blind at South Boston, and another for the Insane at Charlestown. David and I just jump into the omnibus, and away we go to any of the surrounding towns. I think I like Cambridge best of all of them, and, if 'ma sees fit, I should prefer to go to Harvard University, for they have a beautiful library full of nice books, and it is so near to Mount Auburn, and I could spend a day there every week with pleasure. I don't see why we can't have such beautiful burial-places in Virginia, for some of our land is quite as fine. I know of a spot now which could be made such a sweet one with a little pains. Why can't we have just such a lovely cemetery? I will tell you more about it, and some of the pretty monuments, when I return.
You should have seen David and I dining together at the Tremont to-day, quite like two young gentlemen; for brother was invited out, and he begged David to take his place. I must own that my friend's house at Marblehead was rather a shabby old affair, and he has been brought up in the plainest way; yet he does not show the least awkwardness at our elegant table, but has the air of one quite accustomed to luxury. He handles a silver fork with the greatest freedom, takes the name of every dish readily from the bill of fare, and orders the waiters round as if they were his own particular servants, only in such a conciliatory way, that they seem delighted to do any thing for him.