Behold, for peace I had great bitterness, but thou hast in
my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast
all my sins behind thy back.Isaiah.
A portly elderly gentleman, with one hand in his breeches pocket,
and the fingers of the other drumming a disconsolate rub-a-dub upon the
window glass of an elegant mansion near Boston Common, is the personage
I wish to call your attention to, friend reader, for the space of a few
moments. The facts of my story are commonplace, and thereby the more
probable. The names of the dramatis personæ I shall introduce, will be
the only part of my subject imaginary. Therefore, the
above-described old gentleman, whom we found and left drumming his
rub-a-dub upon the window panes, we shall call Mr. Joel Newschool. To
elucidate the matter more clearly, I would beg leave to say, that Mr.
Joel Newschool, though now a wealthy and retired merchant, with all the
pomp and circumstance of fortune around him, couldif he chosewell
recollect the day when his little feet were shoeless, red and
frost-bitten, as he plodded through the wheat and rye stubble of a
Massachusetts farmer, for whom he acted in early life the trifling
character of a cow boy.
Yes, Joel could remember this if he chose; but to the vain heart of
a proud millionaire, such reflections seldom come to the surface. Like
hundreds of other instances in the history of our countrymen, by a
prolonged life of enterprise and good luck, Joel Newschool found
himself, at the age of four-and-sixty, a very wealthy, if not a happy
man. With his growing wealth, grew up around him a large family. Having
served an apprenticeship to farming, he allowed but a brief space to
elapse between his freedom suit and portion, and his wedding-day. Joel
and his young and fresh country spouse, with light hearts and lighter
purses, came to Boston, settled, and thus we find them old and wealthy.
In the heart and manners of Mrs. Newschool, fortune made but slight
alteration; but the accumulation of dollars and exalted privileges that
follow wealth, had wrought many changes in the heart and feelings of
The wear of time, which is supposed to dim the eye, seemed to
improve the ocular views of Joel Newschool amazingly, for he had been
enabled in his late years to see that a vast difference of caste
existed between those that tilled the soil, wielded the sledge hammer,
or drove the jack-plane, and those that were merely the idle spectators
of such operations. He no longer groped in the darkness of men who
believed in such fallacies as that wealth gave man no superiority over
honest poverty! In short, Mr. Newschool had kept pace with all the fine
notions and ostentatious feelings so peculiar to the mushroom
aristocracy of the nineteenth century. He gloried in his pride, and yet
felt little or none of that happiness that the bare-footed, merry cow
boy enjoyed in the stubble field. But such is man.
With all his comfortable appurtenances wealth could buy and station
claim, the retired merchant was not a happy man. Though his expensive
carriage and liveried driver were seen to roll him regularly to the
majestic church upon the Sabbath: though he was a patient listener to
the massive organ's spiritual strains and the surpliced minister's
devout incantations: though he defrauded no man, defamed not his
neighbor, was seeming virtuous and happy, there was at his heart a pang
that turned to lees the essence of his life.
Joel Newschool had seen his two sons and three daughters, men and
women around him; they all married and left his roof for their own.
One, a favorite child, a daughter, a fine, well-grown girl, upon whom
the father's heart had set its fondest sealshe it was that the hand
of Providence ordained to humble the proud heart of the sordid
millionaire. Cecelia Newschool, actuated by the noblest impulses of
nature, had for her husband sought a man, not a money chest,
and this circumstance had made Cecelia a severed member of the
Newschool family, who could not, in the refined delicacy of their
senses, tolerate such palpable condescension as to acknowledge a tie
that bound them to the wife of a poor artizan, whatever might be
his talents or integrity as a man.
Francis Fairway had made honorable appeal to the heart of Cecelia,
and she repaid his pains with the full gift of a happy wife. She
counted not his worldly prospects, but yielded all to his constancy.
She wished for nothing but his love, and with that blessed beacon of
life before her, she looked but with joy and hope to the bright side of
the sunny future.
The home of the artizan was a plain, but a happy one. Loving and
beloved, Cecelia scarce felt the loss of her sumptuous home and ties of
kindred. But not so the proud father and the patient mother, the
haughty sisters and brothers; they felt all; they attempted to conceal
all, that bitterness of soul, the canker that gnaws upon the heart when
we will strive to stifle the better parts of our natures.
Time passed on; one, two, or three years, are quickly passed and
gone. Though this little space of time made little or no change in the
families of the proud and indolent relatives, it brought many changes
in the eventful life of the young artizan and his wife. Two sweet
little babes nestled in the mother's arms, and a new and splendid
invention of the poor mechanic was reaping the wonder and admiration of
all Europe and America.
This was salt cast upon the affected wounds of the haughty
relatives. Now ashamed of their petty, poor, contemptible arrogance,
they could not in their hearts find space to welcome or partake of the
proud dignity with which honorable industry had crowned the labors of
the young mechanic.
It was a cold day in November; the wind was twirling and whistling
through the trees on the Common; the dead leaves were dropping seared
and yellow to the earth, admonishing the old gentleman whom we left
drumming upon the window, that
Such was life!
The old gentleman thumped and thumped the window pane with a dreary
sotto voce accompaniment for some minutes, when he was interrupted
by an aged, pious-looking matron, who dropped her spectacles across the
book in her lap, as she sat in her chair by the fireside, and said
Umph? responded the old gentleman.
The Lord has spared us to see another Thanksgiving day, should we
live to see to-morrow.
He has, responded Mr. Newschool.
I've been thinking, Joel, that how ungrateful to God we are, for
the blessings, and prosperity, and long life vouchsafed to us, by a
good and benevolent Almighty.
Rebecca, said the faltering voice of the rich man, I know, I feel
all this as sensitive as you can possibly feel it.
I was thinking, Joel, continued the good woman, to-morrow we
shall, God permitting, be with our children and friends once again,
I hope so, I trust we shall, answered the husband.
And I was thinking, Joel, resumed the wife, that the exclusion of
our own child, Cecelia, from the family re-unions, from joining us in
returning thanks to God for his mercy and preservation of us, is cruel
and offensive to Him we deign to render up our prayers.
Rebecca, said the old gentleman, I but agree with you in this,
you have but anticipated my feelings in the matter. I have long fought
against my better feelings and offended a discriminating God, I know.
Ashamed to confess my stubbornness and frailty before, I now freely
confess an altered feeling and better determination.
Then, Joel, let our daughter Cecelia and her husband join with us
to-morrow in rendering our thanks to a just God and kind Providence.
Be it so, Rebecca. God truly knows it will be a millstone relieved
from my heart. I wish it done.
Three family re-unions, three days of Thanksgiving had been held in
the paternal mansion of the Newschools, since Cecelia had left it for
the humble home of the poor artizan. But their several re-unions were
clouded, gloomy, unsocial affairs; there was a gap in the social circle
of the Newschool family, as they met on Thanksgiving day, which all
felt, but none hinted at. It was hard for a parent to invoke blessings
on a portion, but not all, of his own flesh and blood; it was hard to
return thanks for those dear ones present, and wonder whether
the absent and equally dear had aught to be thankful for, whether
instead of health and comfort, they might not be sorrowing in disease,
poverty, and despair! Such things as these, when they obtrude upon the
mind, the soul, are not likely to make merry meetings. And such was the
position and nature of the re-union upon the late Thanksgiving days, at
the Newschool mansion. But better feelings were at work, and a happy
change was at hand.
Several carriages had already drove up to the door of Mr. Newschool,
Sen., and let down the different branches of the Newschool family. A
brighter appearance seemed gathering over the household than was usual
of late on Thanksgiving day, in the old family mansion. As each party
came, the good old mother duly informed them of the invitation given,
and the hope indulged in, that Cecelia and her husband would join the
family circle that day, in their re-union.
The proud sisters seemed willing, at last, to cast away their pride,
and greet their sister as became Christian and sensible women. The
brothers, chagrined at the unmanliness of their conduct, now gladly
joined their approval of what betokened, in fact, a happy family
meeting. As the clock on old South Church tower pealed out eleven, a
pretty, smiling young mother, in plain, but unexceptionable, neat
attire, ascended the large stone steps of the Newschool mansion, with a
light and graceful step, bearing a sleeping child in her arms.
Another moment, and Cecelia Fairway was in the arms of her old
mother; the smiles, kisses and tears of the whole family party were
bountifully showered upon poor Cecelia, and her sweet little daughter.
Imagination may always better paint such a scene, than could the feeble
pen describe it. The deep and gushing eloquence of human nature, when
thus long pent, bursts forth, sweeping the meagre devises of the pen
before it, like snow-flakes before the mighty mountain avalanche.
Oh! it was a happy sight, to see that party at their Thanksgiving
Old Mr. Newschool, in his long and fervent prayer to the throne of
grace, expressed the day the happiest one of his long life. Quickly
flew the hours by, and as the shades of evening gathered around,
Francis Fairway was announced with a carriage for his wife's return
home. Francis Fairway, the artizan, was a proud, high-minded man,
conscious of his own position and merits, and scorned any base means to
conciliate the favor and patronage of his superiors in rank, birth, or
education. His deportment to the Newschool family was frank and manly;
and they met it with a sense of just appreciation and dignity, that did
them honor. Francis met a generous welcome, and the evening of
Thanksgiving day was spent in a happy re-union indeed. Upon Cecelia's
and her husband's return home, she found a small note thrust in the
bosom of her child, bearing this inscription
Grandfather's Re-union gift to little Cecelia; Boston, Nov.,
The note contained five $1000 bills on the old Granite Bank of
Boston, and which were duly placed in the old Bank fire-proof, to the
account of the little heir, the enterprise of the artizan having placed
him above the necessity of otherwise disposing of Joel Newschool's gift
to the grandchild.