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gone, his mother and sister dead, his friends outraged, his humanity set at naught. He only wanted a line from her—would she forgive him? Oh! one word from her might allay the terrible flames of remorse that were burning in his soul.
It was pitiful. With trembling hand, and eyes glistening with such tears as she seldom shed now, she caught paper and pen, and traced the following:
aGo to God for mercy; I have forgiven yon.
On that same night, while a strange fever sent throbbing heats along her veins, the village postman brought a second letter for Charty. Ah! that handwriting was as familiar to her as the other. She bowed her head upon it, and in her heart she prayed for strength; then opened it, her hands shaking, her eyes mist-covered. Thus it ran:
"Ox HOAED The ' Clyde,' Bostow Haeboh. ''dear Chartt,—I went from you one day, five years ago, in anger. Instead of listening to the voice of my own conscience, my own judgment, I allowed myself, in the anguish of my heart, to be influenced by others, and I ■aid I would never forgive you. With many of our townspeople, I would not believe your story, although my very soul cried out against the unbelief. To-day I have seen a wretched siuner agamst God and you. My pride went out, my vengeance fell dead within me, as I witnessed the gloomy death-hour of the man who has cursed my life and yours. Charty, the man I saw to-day lying cold and rigid, the face made almost horrible by the shadows of remorse that the departing spirit threw over it as it fled from the body, was Guy Sommers. No hand ministered to him through love. He was like some poor wrecked ship, deserted to her fate. Oh, Charty, as I sit in my cabin, and hear the waters striking the sides of the vessel, each little wave seems to tell me that I have been a greater sinner than you. I will not enter into details. My wife, the iunocent and beautiful girl whom her parents gave to my unhappy keeping is gone from me; she died far out at sea. Heaven knows that I did all for her that mortal man could do; It knows also into what depths of wretchedness my soul entered when I waked up to the truth that you were the only woman I ever loved. She was happy to the last—God be thanked 1 Her dying head was pillowed on my bosom; and since the time I saw the green grass cover her I have been an altered man. Now I come to you; I throw myself on your mercy. Charty Spangier, I can not live without you. In some mysterious way your presence haunts me—through the still nightwatches—in the full glare of day. It was with me in the last storm, when death and destruction rode the waves together; and when I saw the hour in which I said, 'The next I shall be judged by the Eternal,' a pure white angel with your face, Charty Spangier, glided by on the raging waters. Charty, may I come back to you? As humble as before I was proud, I sue to you. Your answer will give me hope or despair. In ten days the Clyde sails. If I go in her without you, I take my final farewell of the land where I was born. Charty—blessed—blessed—may I come? Neale Co.nrade."
Ah! what happy tears fell on the paper, as with trembling hand she traced one word: "Come.
Her soul was rich now, richer even than when laden with the wealth of hope and patience and sweet spiritual desires. Heaven was her only goal, and all anticipation of earthly happiness put away from mind and heart; for its joy had the one drop wanting that now brimmed it, shining with a jeweled splendor on the crystal cup
of her desire—the honest love of a true and noble man.
So the cabin of the good ship Clyde was from henceforth her throne.
WHAT IS BEST?
I.—WUICIl IS PRELIMINARY.
IHOPE every body who sets out to read this story is familiar with the little child's game called "Simon." There is a kind of philosophy in all games, as there is in every thing else, if we could but see it; and this in particular always struck me as a very comical parody on that more mature game of "Follow my leader," which all the world delights to play at, whether the leader be Napoleon, or Mr. Genio C. Scott, who does the fashion-plates with so admirable a grace.
But I do not mean to drag the game of Simon in here on account of any philosophical principles which a crotchety man might pick out of it, as Jerseymen pick pearls from decayed clams. The less as, like some stupid Jerseymen, I should most likely cook my clam, and thus spoil my pearl. "Simon" comes appositely to me, because the man of whom I am about to write always seemed to me the veritable "old original" Simon— the ideal Simon, of whom all other five-year-old Simons are but the faint reflex; and because in this person's career I seem to detect certain progressive phases which are like nothing so much as the consecutive development of a well-played game of " Simon."
It is as well to own here, at the beginning, that the "hero" of this story is what we call in America a "literary man."
I have noticed that the American public is very fond of gossip about the private lives of great writers. When the beloved Irving died, there was scarce one of us poor devils but remembered or invented some pleasant little aneedote illustrative of his genial character; and even his family physician entered the lists with a pathetic and pathologic description of the disease to which the dear old gentleman succumbed; as though Providence had provided a special and entirely novel extinguisher to put out the lamp of so great a genius, leaving the vulgar rushlights of common scribblers to be snuffed out in the usual way—with the fingers, so to speak. Now, it is of no use to kick against the pricks; and as it is so evidently the highest duty and business of a magazine writer to please his public, I have determined to communicate here some passages, hitherto unnoted, in the life of the only distinguished writer it has been my good fortune to know.
I met him first one evening at a party given by my good friend, Mr. Brown, in the Fifth Avenue (New York). I was listening to some of the brilliant sallies of the celebrated editor (and part proprietor) of the New York Daily Golden Egg, when he suddenly ceased speaking, and looking over my right shoulder toward a middie-aged, compactly-built, uncomfortable-looking man, dressed in a coat which made my hair stand on end by its frightful unfitness, said,
"Do you know who that is?"
"That?" said I; "no."
"That," said he, "is one of the great editorial lights of this country, and a most successful writer. It is the celebrated MacGurdigan."
"Is it possible!" I exclaimed. "Do I see before me"—I had turned about, and was now facing the renowned personage—"do I see before me the great Stoffle MacGurdigan?"
Then, seized with an irresistible desire to know intimately one of the most remarkable men our country has produced, I said, catching the hand of my friend the editor,
"My dear Goose, do me a great favor: introduce me to a man whom I have heard so greatly admired."
Goose, who is as amiable socially as he is valorous editorially, at once complied with my wishes.
We were introduced to each other I I shook the hand which had penned lines whose matchless eloquence, stern patriotism, and great moral purpose have, in my humble opinion, never been excelled—no, not even by the immortal Tupper. The lustrous eyes of genius beamed a kindly look upon me. Need I add that I was happy?
It is the fate of greatness to bo troubled by littleness. It is a misfortune that at our great parties undisturbed intellectual conversation, which is so delightful between friends, is almost impossible. (Mrs. Betsey, my wife, remarks here, parenthetically, that great parties are not given to promote precisely this object—but that is neither here nor there.) I was listening with rapt attention to the words of my distinguished friend, hoping to catch some sentence which I should treasure up hereafter (and perhaps publish at his death, in a little biographical sketch), when some intrusive and ill-mannered person touched him lightly on the arm, and, ere he could remonstrate, bore him off to a distant part of the room.
Thus concluded my first and only meeting with a man who is so often admired as among the chief of those few who have shed such a lustre upon our country's journalism.
And thus we complete this preliminary division of our history, and come, without farther delay, to the story itself—of which, however, I must first be permitted to say, that as the revelations I am about to make are necessarily sometimes uupleasant to the person spoken of—as are many revelations which the intelligent public buys and reads with the utmost avidity—and as I should grieve to have the revered MacGurdigan suspect me as the cause of any pain he may suffer in this case, I have requested the respectable editor of this Magazine to withhold my name from those emissaries of the goddess of Fame who, as I am informed, call upon him monthly to gain that knowledge which enables them to praise or damn impartially each article as it appears, and with
out the preliminary trouble of reading it. For though, as a rule, I abhor the absurd anonymous system now in vogue in the Magazines—whereby one man becomes as good as another, and sometimes a great deal better—I own that in peculiar cases—as this—it has its conveniences. And thus we come at last to the beginning of the game.
II.—IN WUICU "SIMON SATS SUOW TOUE
Stoffle Macgurdigan, Esquire, was born in Peoria, a place which has furnished most of our country's great men. This fact is not a very important one; but it is the duty of a biographer, not only to be fully informed, but also to make evident this fullness to his readers; and moreover, the Peoriaus, among whom this Magazine has a great circulation, will feel flattered by the mention of their cherished home in its pages.
It was while he was at college that young Stoffle gave the first indications of genius. These preliminary sparks were drawn out by a young lady of the place, whom the boys used to call a flame of his. She was a pretty girl, Lucy Jones by name, who had been predestined by her parents to catch an undergraduate; and who made the best of her fate by wounding and capturing that one who seemed to her the finest fellow in the class, which was the Senior, when Cupid lent her his bow and arrows.
There were twenty-six Seniors to choose out of; and she chose Stoffle.
There were sixty-nine marriageable young ladies to choose from (leaving out of the account twenty-five who had already made up their minds, and one hundred and thirty-three who were yet in short dresses, and flirted with the Juniors, and made faces at the Sophemores'). And Stoffle chose Lucy Jones.
Whose love was the greatest?
Young men dream dreams; and all the more and all the better when they have a young woman to help them. These two, you may be sure, went into the castle-building line very strongly.
They were poor. And surely there is no such architect as poverty.
They were deeply in love. And surely there is no such decorator as love.
They were young. And surely there is no such landscape gardener as youth.
What splendid castles they did build I What superb views! What magnificent distances! For in Spain, you must know, every castle is placed on top of a mountain; and though the view immediately below is somewhat obstructed by a kind of pleasant Indian-summery haze, if you look far enough away every thing at once becomes clear and bright, and as glorious—as glorious as you please to imagine it.
Meantime the Senior year was drawing to a close, and the question What to do? began to urge itself with an irritating pertinacity which interfered a good deal with the pleasures of architecture. When a young man has the world before him to choose from, and a pretty girl's happiness depending on his choice, it is not so easy to decide what is best. There were projects —and projects. Of course Stoffle was not going to be a shoemaker. They do not waste four years in college to fit themselves for shoemaking —I wish they did. And this being thus out of the question, there remained only the ministry— for which Stoffle did not feel a particular "call l" medicine—which involved three or four years farther study, and an indefinite postponement of connubial bliss; and the law: but think of the lawyers' shingles, thick as clap-boards in a DownEast village, which disfigure all our business streets! And then—
"Why then—of course! Why did not we think of it before? Was not Stoffle the best writer in his class? And was not there literature?"
To be sure—that was just it! It is such a comfort, just when you have stumbled upon a dreadful dilemma with three horns, each of which looks disagreeably sharp, to come suddenly upon a fourth horn which is two-pronged, and receives you in its soft arch without trouble or goring.
So there was literature—and Stoffle should be a literary man. That was settled at any rate. Then by-and-by he would write essays and books, which would give him reputation, and some day he would come back and lecture before the Lyceum in the old college-town—and would not that be fame? and would not that be happiness? thought dear Lucy Jones; who had a very beautiful castle built in a minute, on the very highest peak in all Spain, and standing on its roof looked all over the world at once, and saw only every where, covering the sky above and the trees below, large posters announcing in red letters that "Stoffle MacGurdigan, Esquire, the celebrated author and popular lecturer, would deliver the opening lecture of the course on" and so forth, and so forth.
Now there is a vagueness about this term "literary man," which is exceedingly charming to almost everybody. "What does so-and-so do?" "Oh, he is a literary man!" And then you have settled the matter. That includes fame, and money, and friends, and influence, and every other kind of happiness that the very robust imagination of full-blooded youth can think out.
As for bread and butter and new shoes for the baby—in Spain, it is well known, all the forests are full of bread-and-butter trees; and as for baby's shoes, why bless your dear soul, you must not look so very far ahead. Is it not known that every book makes the fortune of its author? Did not Cooper build a town? Did not Mrs. Stowe go to Europe in state? And are there not "Homes of American authors"? dear cozy places, with old-time traditions, and ivy, and flowers, and a lawn, and a carriage-house in the distance? And shall there be no more cottages on the Hudson?
Nevertheless, if you look into the matter a little, you will find that Professor Longfellow is a teacher; and Mr. Bryant is an editor; and Vol. XXIII.—No. 133.—F
Mr. Hawthorne was very glad to exchange the "Old Manse" for Salem Custom-House, and that for the Liverpool Consulate; while I—if you must know it, Madame—I am a tailor. A fashionable tailor, of course; none of your vulgar snips. When you come down to Franklin Square, the Editor of this Magazine will be glad to hand you my business card; and if you meet him going to church on fine Sundays, you can see one of my most stylish coats—and please to call your husband's attention to the graceful swing of the tails. It is a new cut, invented for me by a poor devil in my establishment, and which I have patented.
So dear Stoffle should be a literary man. That was certainly best; and when it was settled a great weight of responsibility was taken off Lucy's mind. For, of course, she felt responsible for Stoffle's future; and this vexatious question of "What to do?" had given her some sleepless nights. And now it was settled so nicely!
For, after all, lawyers are notoriously selfish creatures, and often have to make wrong right, and right wrong; and physicians seem to grow callous to suffering, and besides never have a real spare hour, and may be called out at any time of night, which is not comfortable to look forward to. And as for preachers—to be sure that is to be great and good: but then preachers are a little stiff and all that; and society forbids them to dance and do other pleasant things which society does not deny itself. But a "literary man!" That was just the thing! There was leisure, and culture, and freedom. And what a noble field for doing good! thought dear sweet Lucy Jones.
(Ofcourse the thing was out of the question, because I was only a beginner in business then, and had but a small shop in a poor street, and was not yet famous for my cut or for my occasional literary labors; and Lucy Jones and her people would have laughed in my face had they suspected it: but in those days, when Lucy's nice face went past my shop window, with a kind of sweet glory of humble happiness and sunny glad good-nature lining her bonnet, I used to wish that I too was a Senior in college; and my heart would go pitapat, and my needle would jag my fingers, in spite of myself. I was even ass enough once to trust her brother for a suit of my best broadeloth, and lost my bill, as I deserved. Of course I do not bear malice toward Lucy. But that is neither here nor there—as I tell Mrs. Betsey when she wants to interfere with the shop—as the best of women will sometimes.)
"What a noblo ficld for doing good!" said she to Stoffle, as they talked over his future, which was now so pleasantly settled. So many wrongs in the world yet to put down with his brave and eloquent pen. So many brave thoughts, which should strengthen the weak and encourage the weary on the way of life. So wide a field! and then she felt, away down in her loving heart, a secret fear, by no means to be expressed lest it should discourage this puissant young knight—a secret fear lest all the wrongs should be righted ere he could fairly buckle on his armor and make ready to charge with his goose-quill — lest the devil should die before this, her saint, got one good blow at him.
A few weeks before Commencement they called together one evening at the house of the President, the Reverend Doctor Wiseacre; and how Lucy's heart beat when the kind old gentleman —whom every young man and maiden in the town loved as a father—said, "Well, Stoffle, pretty soon now you'll leave us. Have you determined what career to make for yourself, my dear boy?"
Stoffle hesitated a little, as was natural; but finally brought out his determination to take to literature.
The old gentleman's face shone with pleasure. "That is a noble thought," said he. "I wish more of our young men would turn their attention to letters. Business is very well, and for the majority commerce or a lucrative profession is best. But I sorrow to see the best minds I train up go out to seek gold, as though California were the nearest cut to heaven, and eagles the only birds to carry men to Paradise."
"And what branch of letters or study do you intend to pursue?" asked the old Doctor, presently.
"That is what I would be glad to have your advice on, Sir," said Stoffle, blushing.
There was a little pause, while the Doctor bent his head down and gently rubbed his eyebrows with his outstretched fingers—his way of exciting ideality and the other intellectual organs which phrenologists assure us lie near those parts.
"Well, my boy," was the reply after this little pause, "you have your living to make while you build up for yourself that edifice of fame from whose summit you will one day look down on us all, I think I should, if I were in your place, seek a connection with the daily press. It is not difficult, I believe, for educated young men, of good moral character, and who come well recommended (as it will be my care to see that you are), to obtain the place of reporter on a daily journal."
Stoffle looked down in silence and evident disappointment.
"A reporter!" exclaimed Lucy, who, though listening to Mrs. Wiseacre, had not lost a word of the other conversation. "Oh, Doctor! a reporter! why, Stoffle is going to be a poet!"
"All in good time, my dear," was the reply; "all in good time. We must not begin at the top of the ladder, you know—else the first step would be the last, and we should lose all the pleasure and advantage of the ascent."
"But a reporter!" reiterated Lucy, with a pretty pout; '' why, any body can be a reporter!"
"My dear child," said the Doctor, "draw your stool up here. There, sit down just here; I want to tell you something." And looking kindly into the young girl's upturned face, and smoothing her fair hair, as she sat at his feet, the Reverend Doctor Wiseacre said:
"The daily newspaper of our day, my dear, is the Iliad of our age—only written up journal-wise, and by fifty Homers instead of one. Before you say 'only a Reporter,'think for a moment what is the work of which this lowly worker is to do his share. Consider the mighty influence of this Daily press—which has been called the Fourth Estate in England, where the London Times, by its Jove-like omnipotence of sway, has earned itself the name of Thunderer. Note how daily it brings all the affairs of all the world before that little world of highest intelligence which shapes the destinies of a century. See how its private enterprise shames the tardiness of government expresses, and corrects the blunders of official mismanagement. Read how daily it makes public what rogues and fools vainly strive to conceal; and giving honest news to all the world, thereby prevents those cheating combinations and wicked monopolies in politics and trade by which selfish men are ever ready to war against society for their own advantage. See this Times, or one of our own great dailies, marching on in its course, steadfast and calm, unmoved by the eager pressure of party interests, undismayed by the awful front of sudden and unlooked-for calamities; and in times of trouble, when events seem to have broken loose, and the majority of men are looking on with bewildered minds, incapable of right thought or judicious action, see this great guide and helmsman of the State moving unflinchingly in his course, never heeding the clamors of demagogues or the pulings of cowards; blown about by no stray winds of doctrine; holding ever his grand faith, that a principle is of more value and of greater power than any multitude of interests: possessing his iron soul in patience; willing to wait; believing in God; knowing that men strive vainly against His laws, and that only truth is simple, only truth is useful, only truth can conquer. Let us thank God that this daily paper is indeed not only the guide and helmsman of our civilization, but truly its ruler; the general who leads the front of battle—or, better (for this is but a sorry comparison), the architect who guides, according to the immutable principles of the universe, the innumerable army of workmen who are ever adding stone after stone to the great temple of our modern Christian Democratic Civilization.
"What are kings and councilors to this Times, which makes public their secrets before they have themselves guessed them? What are Presidents and would-be Presidents, eagerly seeking to mislead the public will to their own short-sighted and perverse theories—misstating facts and falsifying history—to this faithful monitor, who from his calm eminence speaks daily truth to waiting millions; with his little pellet of fact blows to the winds the fine-spun theories of scheming politicians; with his Drummond-light of common sense clears the horizon, however darkened by clouds of lies. How impotent the power of the mightiest self-seeking against this simple engine, whose daily breath is that never-perishing voice of the people, which is so truly the voice of God! What Neapolitan dungeon of the Inquisition does not open to its talismanic touch? What secret of tyranny is safe from its searching gaze? What perfidious treason can gain head so long as this thousand-eyed watchman sits faithful at his post?
"The people which possesses but one such free press, honest, incorruptible, and sensible, is safe against all the mysteries of tyranny and all the wicked devices of misplaced ambition. One such free press may work a Revolution—one such free press may inaugurate a Reformation. As indeed, to my mind, old Luther was himself the father of daily journalism—the man who first proved to the world the vast power of an honest word, spoken in season and out of season, repeated to-day, reiterated to-morrow, spread every where, educating every man, even the lowest peasant, to think for himself. The constantly recurring numberless pamphlets of Luther were the germ of which our daily paper is the fullgrown fruit; and Brother Martin was himself a model editor—scorning no topic, if only it illusl a truth, thinking no game too small, nor too large; awed by no threats of consequences, to himself or to the world; puzzled by no sophistries; keeping fast hold of his torch of truth, brandishing it unceasingly in the faces of her opponents, and never swerving a hair's-breadth —in whatever hideous and devilish uproar—from that grand and simple faith in right, and in God, the father and defender of right, which alone upheld him, against Popes and Emperors and Kings, and all the forces which Satan anxiously brought forward to put down the terrible monk!
"Thus does the office of editor seem to me, my dear, the highest and noblest which a man may nowadays aspire to. He is the wise and brave general of an army in which the reporter is, to be sure, but a humble private—but remember that here, as in Napoleon's legions, every private (besides his rations of frugal but sufficient bread and cheese) carries in his knapsack a marshal's baton. 'Only a reporter,' my dear? Think again, if it is not an office worthy and ennobling in itself—even if it were not the first step on the way to the potent editorial chair; which I am sure no one will reach more speedily, or fill more worthily, than our Stofflc."
"Dearie me, what a lecture, Doctor!" exclaimed Mrs. Wiseacre. ''I'm sure I thought you were scolding poor dear Lucy. Don't mind him, my dear. I don't believe you understood half he said."
But Lucy did comprehend and believe all she had just heard; and with a soft sigh of regret at the vanishing picture of Stoffle the poet, she turned with renewed hope to the just rising image of Stoffle the editor.
"I am content, dear Sir, if only Stoffle thinks it best," said she, in her sweet, humble way, asking nothing for herself, but only for her hero.
And he, now seeing for the first time a practical opening into that jealous oyster, the world, was no less content to be "only a reporter"—de
termining in his secret heart, however, to give still some spare hours to the Muse.
Thus was brought about Stoffle MacGurdi- gan's connection with the daily press—but for which I should have lacked a hero for this story; and thus we come to Part
III.—IN WUICU "BIMON SAYS CP."
I am not sure but the good old President made himself a little ridiculous to the well-informed reader (if I should chance to have such), when he expressed a belief that educated young men, of good moral character, and coming well recommended, were especially eligible to reportorial places on the Daily Press. The fact is, in the country a New York daily looks like a very tremendous affair, with a very tremendous purpose, and conducted with prodigious and never hesitating wisdom in all its branches; and simple country people, like our President, reasoning with too much literalness from apparent effects to quite impossible causes, easily persuade themselves that the Daily Golden Egg really contains a healthy embryo chick. In which belief they are confirmed by the persistent cackle of the editor, who, remembering that the voices of his family once saved Rome, magnanimously cackles away, for dear life, resolved that if Republics can be saved by so slight a means as this, ours shall at least last out his lifetime.
To prevent disappointment, and to keep away from the city the armies of well-educated young men with good moral characters, who so greatly abound in the rural districts, I think it proper to give notice that the Reverend Doctor Wiseacre was misinformed; and that no opening of the kind promises itself to the precise characters specified—who will find their best opportunities in the whaling service, where their work will be healthier and a trifle more dangerous, but no dirtier.
A good character is of very little importance in the city. And this not because we do not regard such things, dear friends, but because here, in the metropolis, every body—even the Mayor —is eminently respectable; and there is such an abundance of this moral gold that it has long ago ceased to be a medium of exchange, and is scarce thought now to have even a commercial value. I may add that brass, which much resembles it, passes current far more readily; but this is a hint which will perhaps be needless to the country reader.
Thus when Stoffle came to New York to try his fortune, it was not his sheep-skin certificate of scholarship, nor his very numerous vouchers of good moral character that gained him his first opportunity, but the discovery that he was an adept in the crooked mysteries of short-hand, and could follow a rapid speaker with tolerable accuracy. And thushe entered upon that strange, and to most young men very pleasing life of daily journalism.
Pleasing, because it sets at defiance all the carefully-instilled rules of commouplace life; because hero the young man lives, so to speak,