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reflected on his marriage, the more he had reason to be pleased with the object of his choice. She, it is true, rather had the 'upper hand' in the family, but in other respects, she was every thing his heart could desire, and gave him many a sound lesson in marketing. Hans was stingy, but she was stingier than Hans. If he put seven radishes into a bunch, she took out one, in order to make the number even, and to give a more trim appearance to the same. If he parcelled out the asparagus too bountifully for their customers, she withdrew enough spears to reduce the bunches to a reasonable size. Thus she perpetually repressed a vicious propensity which he had, of giving good measure, and of treading on the line of honesty. When he came home from market, she demanded his purse, with an executive air, being already possessed of the sword of power, separated the coin from the bank notes, and both from the shin-plasters, rating him merrily for having any thing to do with the latter, and then jingling the pieces severally into the foot of a long stocking, placed them for safekeeping in her pet bank of deposite.
Years passed sluggishly away, without any thing material to interrupt his happiness, until a circumstance occurred, which suddenly altered his prospects, and produced a new era in the life of Hans Carvel. Two speculators came along, and wanted to buy his farm. This proposal took him all aghast. It was unexpected, and with that credulity natural to ignorance, he concluded that they wanted to cheat him. The consequence was, they could do nothing with him. He was immoveable. They argued, they reasoned, they made liberal offers. They might as well have planted the sea-shore with salt. The Messrs. Snipkins had very foolishly considered themselves sure of their bargain. In the fertility of their imaginations, they had already pulled down the old house about his ears,' run an avenue through the orchard, and parcelled the land out on either side into innumerable lots. So now their airy castles tumbled to the ground, their schemes were frustrated, they fairly knocked their heads together with vexation, and going away, damned him up and down. The moment they had gone out, Hans finding the ground clear, took time for reflection, and gathering together his scattered ideas, began to think solemnly of the matter. He conned over all that had been said, considered the price offered for his land so much greater than he had ever dreamed of,' and ere he laid his cap that night on the pillow, resolved to abide by the offer. When the speculators came again, to make a fresh effort, he treated them more considerately than at first, told them that he did not want to sell,' and at any rate, could not think of their former proposal. At this first dawn of hope, the Messrs. Snipkins tipped each other the wink, and feeling their way softly as they went, after a long parley, succeeded in closing in with him for one third more. But an unseen difficulty soon arose, which made their ground still very ticklish. The bill having met the concurrence of Hans, must needs pass through the other branch of the legislature, and receive the sanction of Mrs. Carvel. Here it came very near being thrown under the table; for some of the neighbors had been ploughing' with Hans' 'heifer,' and discovering what was on foot, exhorted Mrs. Carvel to have nothing at all to do with the matter. She therefore refused point blank to sign the papers, and when
ever the subject was alluded to, shot out her lips, turned her nose heavenward, and put on the ugliest look imaginable. This difficulty was, however, got over, she being prevailed on, not by any persuasion, (for that only made things worse,) but by the prospect of so much ready money, and was at last not only willing to sign off,' but to acknowledge that she had done so without bodily fear, or compulsion. The bargain was clenched. Mr. Snooks, the lawyer, executed the necessary deeds and papers, and the old homestead passed from the Carvel family for ever. Hans did not close the negotiation without self-reproaches, and a slight ripple of emotion stirred his heart, as he relinquished the abode of his fathers. He could not with indifference turn from a spot so hallowed for its age and associations, where he had been born, and passed the days of his childhood and of his youth, and grown up to man's estate. It is impossible to break away from old attachments, be they of what kind soever, without doing violence to our nature. It is not father and mother, brethren and sisters, merely, which make up a home; it is place likewise; the old mansion, the pleasant nooks and corners, the fireside, and all those familiar objects which are indissolubly connected with them. How pleasantly do all these mingle together, when we are absent, making it sweet to remember them, and persuading us, how convincingly, that there is no place like home.' And now Hans felt all that affection for the old places which had hitherto lain as a dormant principle within him, awake into being. He reproached himself again and again, and sitting for the last time within the ample jambs of the kitchen fire-place, leaned his head upon his hands, and indulged in a pensive melancholy. It was now too late; the estate had passed from him; he did not know before how much he loved it. Thus, thus do we wring our hands, and weep over the dead, whom perhaps we have loved too coldly while living.
When all the business and papers connected with this important transaction were cleared away, and left a little breathing time, Hans Carvel reviewed his worldly prospects, cast up his accounts with an accurate eye, and at last wrought out the glorious conclusion that he was-independent. This word must not be understood in the enlarged sense which the extravagance of the present day would give to it. Perhaps the rich and the luxurious would smile at the independence of Hans Carvel. Some persons depend so much upon the world, that it requires a vast sum to place them above it. His wants, on the contrary, were limited, and with strict frugality, he deemed his interest sufficient to meet them; he should be able to make both ends meet,' without having recourse to labor, or in more grandiloquent phrase, to 'live on his money.' One day as he passed by the old domains, rubbing his hands, and chuckling over his late bargain, he espied red flags put up in different directions, and several important personages striding backward and forward, with measured steps. These preparations seemed ominous. Vague apprehensions came over him, and a terrible suspicion that after all he had been overreached. While he stood thus musing against a fence, a 'd-d goodnatured friend' passed that way, and having smilingly given him the time of the day, led him into the secret that Messrs. Snipkins, the speculators, had parted with that property at a large advance. Hans
said nothing, although his nether jaw dropped percept bly. Every one knows what sort of a feeling repentance is, when it comes too late. He went home, groaned all night upon his pillow, and loaded himself with new reproaches. As he before considered what he had gained, he now counted his losses, called the speculators all hard names, and accused them of taking the bread out of his mouth. He, like a hard-working hind, had tugged all his life at the stubborn glebe, enduring the burden and heat of the day,' while they came in at the eleventh hour to enjoy the golden harvest. His neighbors were not slow in aggravating his distress. They taunted him before his face, and they upbraided him behind his back. What a natural-born fool,' said they, 'is Hans Carvel. Had he only waited a little longer, he might have taken the tide at its flood, and possessed the money now pocketed by strangers. They looked at him in a deprecating manner, wagging their heads, and hinting that he was old enough to have his eye-teeth cut. 'What,' said they, if old Hans could rise out of his grave, and see these strange doings, the house torn down, and not one stone upon another, the cider-presses moved off, the orchard cut down, the land slashed up. And if‘And if — and if,' replied Hans the younger, with admirable serenity, 'you will have a little patience, neighbours, we shall see what we shall see.' It so happened, that in a short time he achieved a complete triumph over these cavillers. For the old farm, having passed through a great number of hands, and got beyond its intrinsic value, when a revulsion took place, naturally reverted to its former owners, and the Messrs Snipkins, who had speculated largely in lands, broke all to pieces. Hans was secure, and with this catastrophe his temper recovered its equilibrium.
He now removed to a small tenement, for which he paid more than it was worth, and considering how suddenly he had been thrown from his appropriate sphere, led a tolerable contented life. A garden afforded him light employment, which was just large enough to raise a few cabbages, and to contain a pig-stye to rear his winter pork. He was independent, and already got reputation as a man of substance. The knowing ones pointed him out in that short monosyllabic way which means a good deal, whispering that he was a rich old fellow, who lived on his money.' Thus being fairly settled down in a new capacity, having no fields to plough, no seed to sow, no cattle to feed, no fences to mend, he had on hand more precious time than he knew what to do with. Those idle and talkative propensities which had been before checked by the necessity of earning his daily bread, found full occasion for exercise, and he became one of the most inveterate and really troublesome bores, ever inflicted on a community. Those who have nothing to do, are apt to fancy all others in the same 'category.' Hans might be said to eat the bread of idleness.' He rose betimes in the morning, wrought a half an hour in his garden, ate his breakfast, and then sallied forth to bestow himself on his neighbors. He sauntered leisurely and pleasantly about, sat a little here, a little there, and chatted sociably at the corner of a street or over a stile. His mode of operating differed from that of the common herd of bores. He was not one of those who hold you with tender violence by the button hole, nor secure you
more thoroughly by the arm, like Claud Halcro in the 'Pirate,' when he discoursed of Glorious John Dryden,' nor follow pertinaciously at your heels, like the person who encountered Horace as he took his customary walk in the Sacred Way. With such fellows you can dispense, if It needs decision. You must bring an antagowill. you nist brute force into play, not wave them off, with a cold politeness. Shake them violently away, and Diogenes-like, compel them to get from between you and the sun. Or if their impudence comes in too palpable a form, I know of no law of etiquette which forbids a gentleman from knocking them down. Hans Carvel was none such. There was nothing in his approaches to justify even the thought of violence. You could not discard him hastily, without doing injury to your own feelings; he was so mild, peaceful, lamb-like in his conduct. It was not any respect for him, but a principle of self-respect, which prevented you from breaking rudely away. He gave no apparent cause for such a procedure. How can you get rid of a man who looks so blandly, and has to all appearance got something to say? There was a quiet fascination in his dark, whimsical, slow-rolling eye, which was irresistible, and held you as surely as the cords of love. Did he select you as his victim, he placed himself right before you, straddled his legs moderately apart, and declining his head a little on one side, with a placid smile, stood in the attitude to speak. As a bird oscillating gaily on a bush, catches the vivid eye of a snake in the grass,' and is straightway drawn into his fascinating jaws, so certainly were you captured, and you had only to yield up your attention at once, and utter in a dejected tone, Well, what is it, Hans Carvel?' That was enough. The victory was complete, the stage clear, the audience attentive. After a slight pause, as if to gather up his resources, and adjust his organs, Hans began his communication in soft, under tones, imperceptible to the by-standers, and sometimes sinking into a mysterious whisper. He spoke with an official importance, stopping at intervals to take a pinch of tobacco. This you might suppose a capital opportunity to escape. Did you make the attempt, however, you would find yourself in the situation of a rogue who takes advantage of a little more rope, only to be brought up with a jerk. Ashamed of being baffled, you would be compelled to hang down your head, like an untoward ass, who has been kicking incontinently in the traces, and whose burden is greater than he can bear. Gliding with a rapid, though easy motion toward the door, he touched you slightly on the arm, as if the cream of the talk were yet to come, and will you nil, you, took a new lease upon your patience. And what think you did Hans talk about? What important information had he to impart or to acquire, what deep questions of state or national policy to discuss? Was it the official acts of the government that he spake of, wherein they were salutary or oppressive, and what was their effect on the industrious classes? By no means. He was not affected by them. He drew his interest half-yearly, and beside, his policy was, to obey the powers that be.' 'The worser they acted, the better he liked them.' Was it the contingency of a war? He was emphatically a man of peace, and cared neither for wars nor rumors of wars. He had none of the revolutionary spirit. A hundred such fellows might be put into a magazine of gunpowder, and
their united wits could not conjure one little spark to blow it up. Was it the subject of popular education, so dear to every genuine lover of his country ? His mind was already made up on that point. He knew too much of the bliss of ignorance, to be guilty of the folly of being wise. He had never felt the want of schooling' himself, and in fact disapproved of common schools altogether. They tended to unite church and state.' It is not easy to decide by what process of reasoning he came to this droll and ingenious result. Probably he had heard the phrase bandied about, but what was really meant by the union of church and state, he understood no more than the back of his hand. But what did Hans talk about? Simply - NOTHING. Alas! how many in all classes of society are gifted with this same faculty of talking about nothing! Such characters are in abundance in the world, and are every where to be met with. They display their exquisite demeanor in the drawing room, and 'with many holiday and lady terms,' question you about nothing. They enter the halls of legislation, disgrace their constituents, make a spectacle of themselves, and swell up with empty nothings. I had rather endure the silence of primeval nature, than the troublesome chatter of those who talk about nothing. It is better to think without speaking, than to speak without thinking.
Hans Carvel always carried an empty basket on his arm. It took away from that vagabond air, which those have who stray much in the streets. It gave steadiness to his motions, and added weight to his character. He could thus, without fear of reproach, hold a long parley with a neighbor, and when on departing he cast his eyes down on the basket, appearing suddenly to remember himself, it looked as if he had some ulterior object in view. No doubt he was going to purchase a few necessary commodities for the household; a joint of meat for a dinner, or eggs for the 'gude woman' to infuse into a pudding. On Sundays he went punctually to the Dutch church, stationed himself a little before service at the entrance, and intercepted severally all that passed by, as a cobweb catches a fly. It was rather amusing to notice his motions at the courts, and places where public business was going on. He usually gave signal to some of the parties concerned that he wanted to speak with them, and withdrawing to a window at the extremity of the room, whispered, and smiled, and nodded, and winked, to the discomfiture of the curious, who had noticed the movement, and pricked up their ears for nought.
Thus he jogged on through this weary world. He ate, and drank, and slept, and one day was exactly the counterpart of another. An event however occurred at last, which affected him very deeply. His wife, who had always been in her sound mind, suddenly cut a fantastic freak, and became as crazy as a March hare. In this situation, she was extremely troublesome. It seemed as if all the traits and qualities of her mind had gone over to their opposites. She hated whom she had loved, and loved whom she had hated, and instead of being any more a rigid economist, her extravagance exceeded all bounds. She ripped up all the rag-carpet in the best parlour,' and put down an ingrain carpetin',' of lively colors, which the neighbors considered a very elegant floor cloth' to be sure. Every thing homespun in the house gradually gave way to articles of foreign