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The heart hath not a secret pain
Pluck thou that fruit, nor fear to taste
For all — rich, mighty, or abased
Its treasures hang - may all partake! Dorchester, February, 1837.
J. H. c.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF 'AMERICAN SOCIETY.'
The Giblets were seen here and there and every where : they visited every body they knew, and every body they did not know; aud there was no getting along for the Giblets. Their plan at length succeeded. By dint of dinners, of feeding and fiolicking the town, the Giblet family worked themselves into potice, and enjoyed the ineffable pleasure of being for ever pestered by visiters who cared nothing about them ; of being squeezed and smothered and parboiled at pighuy halls and evening tea-parties; they were allowed the privilege of forgetting ihe very few old friends they once possessed; they turned up their noses at every thing that was not genteel; and their superb manuers and sublime affectation at length lest it no longer a matter of doubt that the Giblets were perfectly in the style.'
SALMAGUNDI. * Alice,' said Mary Liston to her sister, “I have most delightful news to tell you. Dr. Penrose has been to see ma, and says that a trip to the Springs will do her more good than all his medicines. He recommended the White Sulphur, but Saratoga is to be the fashionable resort this summer, and I want your assistance in persuading pa to take the northern tour, as I believe that one watering place will do as well as another for ma, for you know she is only nervous.'
• Indeed, my dear sister,' said Alice, ‘I cannot do this, for if Dr. Penrose thinks that the White Sulphur will be more beneficial to ma's health, we should surely consult this, rather than our own gratification.'
• Nonsense! a fig for Dr. Penrose !' exclaimed Mary; that is just like you, Alice; you seem determined to cross my wishes in every thing. But my heart is fixed on going to Saratoga, and I am determined to carry the point, in despite of all opposition.'
Mary Liston was the beauty and the favorite, and her easily-governed parents seldom denied her requests. As soon as one of her plans had succeeded, she brought forward another, which was, to take their new equipage with them, that they might pass among strangers for persons of wealth and consequence. Mr. Liston, although a foolishly-indulgent father, was a plain old man, and instead of studiously concealing his humble origin, made it a frequent subject of boasting, that he owed his fortune to his own exertions, and that he had risen from the poor orphan apprentice of a watch-maker and jeweller, to the high station he then held among merchants and bankers. With the strictest economy, and the closest management in business, he united the most lavish expenditure upon his family :
and he gratified Mary by consenting to purchase a carriage in NewYork, for their use while at Saratoga, of which she should make choice. This amendment was as agreeable to her as the original scheme. In gaining this point, she found an able ally in her mother, who was soon won over by her daughter's powerful argument, that a display of wealth was the surest means of securing a splendid alliance. Having put her dearest wishes in a fair train for their fulfilment, her next step was to school her old father into the requisite gentility of manner.
• Mind, pa,” she said, 'you must never speak of the time when you were a watch-maker, for people of fashion will look on us with contempt, if you do, and you will ruin our prospects.'
If there is any danger of injuring my daughters, in any one's estimation, by talking about it, I will not, if I can help it; but I cannot understand why a man should try to hide that which ought to be a source of pride to him; and I own it will be difficult for me to hold my tongue, when I see some whipper-snapper dandy of fortune, who has never earned a dollar in his life, turning up his nose at honest and industrious men, the producers of their own wealth, because he has been living in idleness on the hoards that his father or grandfather left him.' But,
pa, it is not genteel to acknowledge you have been a mechanic, for you know they are considered among the dregs of society.'
• The dregs of society,' indeed! Show me a fashionable family in our city, whose father or grandfather has not handled a tool, of some kind or another ! Why, child, no one thought less of old Ben. Franklin, because he was a printer, or of Roger Sherman, on account of his being a shoe-maker. Those were glorious old times, when men were more respected for their character than their calling. But the world is strangely altered, I confess; and I suppose honest John Liston must go with the tide.'
Mary Liston and her mother were characteristic specimens of a class that is, unfortunately, a very numerous one in most of our commercial cities — those whose newly-acquired wealth is ostentatiously displayed, as a means of elevating them into 'good society.' most cherished wish of Mrs. Liston's heart, was to see her daughters take a high stand in the fashionable world, and her first step was to place them at a school where the rank of the pupils was more carefully inquired into than the capability of their instructors. She charged them to cultivate the acquaintance of those who would be of greatest advantage to them in future. Alice followed the letter of her mother's instructions; for her friends were chosen among the intelligent and the virtuous, without any regard to their wealth or fashion. But Mary was quickly initiated into their spirit — for, with the skill of a courtier, she soon ingratiated herself into the favor of those whose parents belonged to the highest circles of society. But when the important period of her coming out' had arrived, she met with many disappointments. A few who still felt something of their school-friendship toward her, occasionally returned her visits; but she was often fated to meet the 'cut direct,' or the distant bow of unwilling recognition, from those whose acquaintance she was most
desirous of retaining. The mother and the daughter were not easily repelled ; and with an energy and perseverence worthy a better cause, they continued to repeat their advances, in despite of repulsion, until they at last gained quiet possession of the outworks of that citadel they had so long been besieging. Though Mrs. Liston endeavoured to shake off all her old friends, whose presence was a continual memento of her former obscurity, yet some of them possessed a pertinacity equal to her own; and it was quite amusing to see the variety of characters who sometimes happened to meet in her drawing-room as morning visiters. The annoying fact that Mrs. C - had met Mrs. B, was frequently a source of as much vexation to them, as it was a subject of ridicule to those who had so lately admitted them into their society.
When the Listons arrived at New-York, Mary was delighted with every thing she saw. The dashing equipages -- the crowds of stylish women and foreign-looking coxcombs that thronged the fashionable promenades — the display of wealth in the lofty mansions, with their richly-furnished drawing-rooms — 80 completely fascinated her, that she was anxious to prolong their stay far beyond the time fixed on for their departure to Saratoga. But with the retiring Alice, the bustle and gayety of the city made her often sigh for the rural quiet and the green fields of Arlington, her father's summer residence. Her refined tastes and intellectual pursuits were so opposite to the enjoyments and pleasures of her fashionable mother and sister, that ihey thought her a strange being, and feared that she would never be a credit to their family.
Mary was fully compensated for leaving New-York, when she found among the visiters at Saratoga several titled Europeans. She looked on them with reverence, as beings of a superior order; and her happiness was complete, when she afterward received a formal introduction to the Count de and Don Alonzo Their imperfectly-pronounced English was music to her ear, and their words of idle gallantry were favorably interpreted as proofs of an awakening attachment. Bright visions of foreign courts began to float before her fancy, and she pictured herself as a newly-admitted member of their polished circles, with the alluring title of coun tess or donna. But she was soon after destined to find a powerful rival to the favor of the count, in a school acquaintance, Emily Courtney, who, with her parents and sister, arrived at the Springs a few days after the Listons.
Mary was seated beside a lately acquired friend from New York, when the Courtneys first entered the drawing-room. Sophia, the younger sister, advanced toward her with a friendly familiarity, which was hastily repulsed, by a cold and distant salutation. Her fashionable friend noticed her manner, and as soon as the warm-hearted Sophia had left them, she said : They are from your own city, I believe ; who are they ?'
* They belong to our class of parvenus,' replied Mary, and have presumed upon their school acquaintance, I suppose, for we have never visited them. Their father was a tobacconist, and accumulated a large fortune by retailing snuff and segars. He has lately built a new front, and added an additional story, to his dwelling, and has
even set up a carriage, with servants in livery. It is ludicrous to see the airs of his family, for from their display, a stranger might mistake them for persons
consequence.' Upon the same day on which the Courtneys made their appearance at Saratoga, an invalid mother and daughter came as visiters to the Springs, for the rëestablishment of their health. They were very plainly attired, and had no getlemen with them, as escorts. And when the usual inquiry was made among the groups of fashionable idlers, Mary and her friend remarked that, from the appearance they made, they of course could be nobody. Both the young lady and her mother formed a perfect contrast to Emily Courtney and Mary Liston, the two representatives of their respective families. The graceful ease and simplicity of their mannere, so different from the hauteur and affected gentility of the would-be fashionable, the quiet courtesy with which they answered the inquiries of the most humble in that mixed assemblage, showed to those who were capable of judging, that they were persons of the highest refinement, and the best society. But with the nouveau riche,' their unpretending and almost unfashionable style of dress, and the absence of every thing like a display of wealth, or of self-importance, was a sufficient evidence of their want of consequence.
The interesting daughter, fearing that her mother was faint from the fatigue of travelling, advanced toward Mary, to request the loan of her richly-jewelled vinaigrette, which she was rather ostentatiously displaying She of course could not refuse it, but it was tendered with as much rudeness as could be made consistent with her wish to act the fine lady,
The simple loan was gracefully acknowledged, but the manner in which it was granted, escaped the notice of the lovely girl, whose anxiety for her mother prevented her from observing it. As soon as she had turned from Miss Liston and her friend, the former observed, with a contemptuous smile : ‘I suppose it is the first time she has handled diamonds.'
This remark was overheard by an elderly lady, sitting near them, and turning to Mary, she said:
• It is quite possible, young lady, that a grand-daughter of — may not be able to appreciate their cost or their value so well as the daughter of a watch-maker and jeweller - but it is probable, that she has both seen and worn more than ever sparkled in your father's case.'
Poor Mary was so overwhelmed by this unexpected rebuke, and by the altered bearing of her New-York friend, that she could say nothing in reply. She thought, and truly too, that the Courtneys were the source from wbence the old lady's information was derived, and her rival, Emily, became more an object of hatred than ever.
The beauty and accomplishments of Emily Courtney so fascinated the count, that he soon became a declared and accepted lover. Mary Liston then turned all her schemes of conquest upon the whiskered don, and every day tended to confirm her hopes of success.
The self-styled don had been the private secretary of a nobleman, high in favor at the Spanish court. Ambitious and designing, as well as avaricious and unprincipled, he scrupled at no means, how.
ever villanous or dishonorable, by which he could hope to add to his rank or his fortune. He became the willing tool of his depraved master, and at last committed an act at his instigation, which made his immediate departure from the country the only means of safety for himself and his patron. Before it was discovered, the nobleman procured him a lucrative foreign appointment, as the reward of his villany. Finding his income insufficient for the extravagant vices and habits in which he indulged, he was anxious to add to it by a wealthy alliance, and also to provide for his anticipated dismissal from his situation. Mary Liston was the first golden opportunity thrown in his way by fortune. He saw she could be easily secured, but he knew that all is not gold that glitters,' and wished to make, in this case, 'assurance doubly sure.'
At a brilliant ball, given at a fashionable hotel, Emily Courtney and Mary Liston were the rival belles of the evening. In one of the intervals between the dance and the waltz, Emily, with her lover, the count, and two or three others, were engaged in an animated discussion upon the various styles of female beauty. Among the group, was the quondam friend of Mary Liston, who had carefully avoided all intercourse with her, since she received the startling information of her obscure origin. A gentleman who stood beside her, addressing himself to Emily, said :
Your city, Miss Courtney, has long been famed for the beauty of its women ; and its celebrity has been justly won, if one may judge from its present representatives. Miss Liston is certainly a lovely creature, and if it would not be trespassing on your kindness, you would render me your debtor, by requesting the favor of an in. troduction to her.'
Emily bowed haughtily, and replied : 'You will be under the necessity of applying to the lady next to you; for Miss Liston's name is not admitted upon my visiting-list. I have never had the honor of meeting her among my acquaintance; but the frequent attempts of her family to get into society, have given them, at least, notoriety — of a kind, however, not very enviable.'
How ludicrous and how inconsistent are the claims of distinction in our mongrel society ! We have often heard two families, of equal standing, thus speak of each other; and those who are most dubious of their own right of place, generally express most contempt for those whose equality they must feel, while they scorn to acknow. ledge it.
It was during the evening of the ball, that Mary Liston's hopes met with final success. The don, in promenading through the room, overheard the following conversation between two fashionable foplings.
What has brought you to the Springs, this summer, Horace ?' said one to the other: 'have you come here to mend your health ?'
“Ah no! Fred., 't is from a cause more lamentable than that: it is with the hope of mending my condition; for my purse has fallen into a distressing marasmus. My old uncle has just died, and cut me off without a shilling. The old fellow showed me his will, a year or two ago, in which he had left me his sole heir. And when, in a dangerous illness, last winter, he was thought to be dying, I