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in less favored climes. She saw that Edward was a student, and she knew that it was to Charles alone she must look for that elevation in society to which her exertions and her hopes had so long been aspiring.
During the course of their afternoon ramble, they came to a recently erected dwelling, whose architectural beauty and splendid internal decorations had been an engrossing subject of conversation among the fashionable circles. It belonged to a man who had risen rapidly both in wealth and in standing, and whose family had become a reigning one, in the beau monde. Mrs. Vernon pointed out to her sons the novel attractions of the lofty mansion, and repeated, with admiration, the glowing description of its satin-damask hangings - its gold and ebony furniture - its costly chandeliers, and of the dinner and tea service of silver and of gold. She showed them the emblazoned carriage standing before the door, with its liveried driver and footman, and the four proud steeds that stood pawing the ground, and with curved necks, champing their bits, as if they were impatient to bound onward to the fashionable drive, that they might exhibit their glittering accoutrements among their gaily caparisoned fellows. After having tried to impress her boys with a deep sense of all this magnificence, and having spoken of it as a glorious elevation, worthy the exertion of every faculty and energy of mind and soul, she thus held out the hopes of its attainment.
* And yet, my sons, Mr. Delville was standing behind the counter of a petty grocery, when your father was an importer. Oh, if
your father had possessed but half the enterprise and ambition of this man, how different would our situation in life have been!'
Charles' eye sparkled with the proud thought of living in the midst of such splendor as was then displayed before him, but Edward very calmly replied : • But, mother, father is an honest man, and I have heard it said that Mr. Delville owes his present prosperity to means neither honorable nor honest.'
Mrs. Vernon quickly replied: That happened so many years ago, that no one thinks of it now. People in society do not trouble themselves about such things. He is more sought after, and stands higher, than your father, with all his honesty. And even 'on 'change,' he is one of the most popular and influential men; for as his note needs no endorser, merchants bow down to him too, in despite of all the old stories that are raked up against him. Your father is a good man, but he carries his notions of honesty to a ridiculous extent. He has no contrivance, or management, in his business, and without these, no one can expect to make a fortune. He goes straight forward, but there are little turnings and twistings, that every body must learn to practise, or else they will never rise in the world.'
After their return home, they found Mr. Vernon seated in his favorite chair, abstractedly going over in his mind the various items of his cash-book and leger. Mr. Vernon was a merchant of the old school, now nearly extinct. He was for gains, slow but sure, and would as soon have staked one half his fortune at the faro-table, as to have risked a few hundreds in a modern speculation. He seemed to carry on his business not so much for the profit it brought
him, as for the interest he took in it. It was as delightful to him as a game of chess to a scientific player. He calculated his own moves and the moves of those with whom he was engaged, with so much deliberation and sagacity, that he could almost foretell the issue of every coramercial transaction. He belonged to the obsolete class of Franklin economists, whose maxims were, that ' a penny saved is worth more than a penny earned ;' that the surest art of money-getting is money-saving; and he looked upon the present race of mercantile speculators with as much pity and contempt as he did upon a lottery-adventurer, who throws away three or four hundred dollars for the bare chance of winning one prize among a thousand blanks.
Mr. Vernon had always shown an invincible aversion to the encroachments of modern style, much to the annoyance and vexation of his wife. He obstinately adhered to Franklin stoves, high-backed mahogany chairs, and Turkey carpets. Mrs. Vernon, finding there was no immediate hope of introducing fashionable furniture into her parlors, endeavored to give them as modern an air as she could, by decorating ber oval card-table with all the bijouterie of the pier and centre-table — the wonderful creations of French confectionary, tiny candlesticks, with colored tapers, fanciful ink-stands, never io be desecrated by ink — little glass images of cupids and dogs – or two china cups and saucers, etc., those curious and beautiful specimens of the fine arts, which fashionable ladies are so fond of collecting. Mr. Vernon would overlook these for a while, but when any of his little nieces came to spend a few days in town, he would take them to the tables, and tell them there was a fine lot of toys, they might have, to furnish their baby-house, when they went home. Though Mr. Vernon thus often ridiculed his wife's folly, and restricted her extravagance within prescribed limits, yet he was a kind and indulgent husband, in gratifying her every reasonable wish, and in many respects permitted her to have too much of her own will. Like many men, devoted to business, he left the whole control and guidance of their children to her care and management. She selected their schools, directed them in the choice of their associates, and tried to mould their tastes and opinions to her own. Her husband thought he performed his part, if he gave them money to purchase their books, and paid their school-bills as soon as they were presented. Mrs. Vernon had all the fashionable predilection for boarding-schools, and as soon as her two sons and her only daughter had passed the tender years of infancy, they were successively exported to the academies patronized by the first circles. To her morning visitors she would sament their separation from her, and would add, with all the heroic self-sacrifice of a Spartan mother, that she was willing to give up her own feelings for their advantage. The Hindoo mother stifles her maternal emotions, and throws her babe into the waters of the Ganges, that she may gain the favor of her god, and secure the eternal happiness of her infant; but the fashionable mother casts her child from the sanctuary of home and its affections, to the cold and rigid government of strangers, that it may be prepared to 'strut its hour' upon the world's theatre.
Mr. Vernon, though naturally silent and reserved, was an affec
tionate father. The absence of his dear boys was painfully felt; but when his darling Alice was sent away from him, he thought it was too hard for him to bear. He remonstrated with his wife, but finally gave a forced submission to her arguments, and devoted himself more assiduously than ever to his business. He often sighed, when he returned to his silent and solitary dwelling, after his day's sojourn in his counting-room. The glad voices of his beautiful boys, the sweet tones of his loving Alice, as she uttered her delight at seeing him, and shaking back her sunny brown curls, came with bounding steps to meet him, those charms that made his home so attractive, were now all riven away, and there was nothing left to wean him from the life-wearing intensity of his devotion to business. The return of his children, at their periodical vacations, was to him a season of rare and highly-prized enjoyment. He was proud of his boys, and felt happy to see them around him; but when he folded his loved Alice to his heart, and held her little hand in his, he almost forgo that he was a merchant.
Mr. Vernon was very much gratified by the evident improvement of his sons, and by their manly appearance; and on their present visit, he took as much pleasure in introducing them to his mercantile friends, as his wife did in exhibiting them to her fashionable ones. When Edward and Charles returned from their walk, and entered the room with their mother, Mr. Vernon roused from his abstraction, and affectionately grasped the hand of each. Then turning to his wife, he said : “My dear, your boarding school system has, I acknowledge, been of service to our boys, for it is probable they would not have been as noble and manly-looking fellows as they now are, if they had been all this time tied to your apron-string, or had had a mother to run to in every difficulty. But I am afraid its effects will not be as favorable upon Alice; for I fancied I saw two or three fashionable affectations about her, when she was last at home. God forbid, that my artless, warm-hearted Alice should ever be turned into a modern fine lady!' If I thought there was any probability of her becoming corrupted into that artificial, senseless automaton, I would immediately take her from her boarding-school, and send her to rusticate among her cousins, that she might be herself again. It would almost break my heart to see her a fashionable woman.'
* You must recollect, Mr. Vernon,' replied his wife, 'that Alice is no longer a mere child. It is time that her manners should begin to be formed. She is almost twelve years of age. Mrs. Davenant pays more attention to the manners of her pupils than to any thing else, and it was for that reason, that I gave her school the preference. The young ladies under her tuition are always admired for their finished elegance of demeanor. She is so successful in her training, that she can make all equally polished and graceful; and every one who has been her scholar, is remarked in society as having been one of Mrs. Davenant's pupils. An awkward, blushing school-girl is never found in her little band ; and even the youngest among them have as much ease as if they had been in company for years.'
Very desirable, certainly ! - to be known as a member of the Davenant corps. She must be a fine-drill-sergeant- and what a rare captain she would make! “Young ladies, attention! Heads
up! — toes out !- keep a bold face !- make a curtsey — one, two, three !- down!-up! Pay particular attention to the following order: You must all stand, walk, sit, and enter a room, in precisely the same mode, according to the instructions given you. It makes no difference what are your natural dispositions, minds, or characters; you must learn to curb these, and must think, feel, speak, and act, by the prescribed rules laid down for all situations and circumstances. But a truce with jesting. I tell you what, wife, if Alice is to undergo such a Procrustean mode of operation, as to be made exactly similar to every other young lady in the school, it can only be done by making her assume a character that does not belong to her. So, she shall leave Mrs. Davenant : on that I'm resolved. I will take the boys with me to-morrow, and bring her home.'
Mrs. Vernon acquiesced, with seeming willingness; but she implicitly trusted that the next morning's visit to his counting-room would obliterate all remembrance of his objections to Mrs. Davenant, and his hasty resolution to bring Alice home. And with the intention of diverting his thoughts from the subject, she said: 'Edward and Charles are almost young men, both in height and appearance. What do you intend to make of them ?
I have not thought much about it. It will be time enough when they leave college.'
• But, Mr. Vernon, as I suppose you intend them for men of business, it will be a waste of their most enterprising and energetic years, to permit them to remain until they are old enough to graduate. It will destroy every thing like business habits, and make them mere sedentary book-worms.'
‘I will leave it to them,' said the father. •Come, boys, tell me what you intend to be ??
Charles immediately answered : ‘I will be a merchant. I am almost tired of the monotony of a college life, already, and think it will soon be time for me to come out upon a busier scene, and a wider sphere of action.'
• That is well said, my son,' exclaimed Mrs. Vernon : 'you have made a good choice, and I hope you may be as successful and as prosperous as Mr. Delville.'
A frown passed over Mr. Vernon's face, but he made no comment on his wife's remark, and turning to Edward, said : “My son, what will your choice be ?' Edward replied: With your approbation, father, I would prefer one of the two professions, law or medicine ; but I have not thought sufficiently on the subject to give a decision at present.'
'I would rather that you had chosen as Charles did,' said his father; ‘but in this, your own inclinations shall be consulted. You must recollect, however, that even with the finest talents, the members of these two professions must pass through many years of obscurity and difficulty, before they can get into full practice, and also that perhaps two-thirds of their number never succeed. While, on the other hand, the man of business can get into credit and custom at once, and every merchant has the opportunity of attaining wealth. If he does not do so, it is not for want of patronage, but from his own rashness or inefficiency.'
* But, Mr. Vernon,' said his wife, 'I think you do wrong in thus
giving up to Edward's whims. He is too young to judge for himself, and I would prepare him for that occupation which you prefer, and not suffer him to consult his own wishes alone.'
My dear wife,' he replied, 'I have seen the evil effects of opposing a young man's inclination in the choice of a profession in my
father's family, and I then determined never to commit a similar error, if I ever should have sons. Gold, silver, and copper, can be easily fused, and coined into money, but wood and marble would soon be destroyed by the attempt to put them to the same use.'
"Well, if he is permitted to choose a profession, I hope it will be that of law, for it affords a pretty fair opportunity of amassing a fortune, while that of the physician rarely or never does. A lawyer of established reputation may get his thousands for a single case, while the doctor makes his money by fifty cents or a dollar a visit. The lawyer is waited upon at his office, and his client does not expect him to put himself to any inconvenience on his account; while the physician is always expected to be an obsequious slave to the caprices of the rich, and to submit without complaining to the impositions of the poor. I do wonder that so many should choose this as a profession, since there is so much labor required, and so little wealth to be gained by it.'
• If the desire of gain were the ruling motive of every man, my dear mother,' said Edward, 'the profession of medicine would soon be extinct. But there are other reasons for choosing a profession, than for the facility it affords of amassing wealth reasons that do honor to the mind and the heart. It is the desire of expatiating in the boundless fields of knowledge to which it opens - the anxiety to alleviate human suffering, by searching into its causes, that the proper remedies may be applied, and the thirst to know all that can be known of the mysterious formation of the body, 'so fearfully and wonderfully made' — it is these that have sufficient attraction to induce men to forego the lustre of wealth, and the 'pride of place,' and to walk humbly and contentedly in the valley-paths of usefulness and benevolence.'
It was a cold winter evening; but in the drawing-room of Mr. Vernon every thing wore the aspect of luxurious comfort. A bright coal fire was glowing in the polished steel grate, and the brilliantlylighted chandelier brought into distinct relief the rich and heavy folds of the crimson hangings, and the graceful forms of the damask-cushioned chairs, while its own image was reflected in the wide and lofty mirrors. Mrs. Vernon was reclining upon an ottoman, gaily and expensively attired, and holding an open letter in her hand. On the opposite side of the fire sat Mr. Vernon, in a chair that seemed to have been fashioned after his favorite one of former days, but made of materials rich and costly, as if to hide the homeliness of its obsolete form. He was very much changed in the last few years, for his sedentary life and slavish and unremitted attention to business, had brought on premature age, with its infirmities feeble health and weakened energies. As long as he could, he kept a firm barrier against the encroachment of fashion and style; but when Alice added