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courses of study began to be apparent. The young men who had attended well to the lessons, but read much beside, shone out with unexpected brilliancy in philosophy, logic, and composition, while the students of Greek, and Latin, and Mathematics, alone, fell back in reputation with the class, if not in rank with the government. Young men who had studied for rank, had it; but they who had studied for knowledge, and taste, and for intellectual rank, had it, and evinced it.
A false criterion is created at college, during the first two years, by the studies of those terms. Latin, Greek, and the Mathematics, are the only pursuits, and the rank one takes depends more upon the school where he may have been fitted, than upon the general strength of his mind.
A mere piece of machinery may be made a good Latin scholar; and by dini of digging and spending six hours upon a lesson, a very clownish mind may appear respectably in the recitation-room, in construing and parsing. I hardly know how this criterion may be avoided; but in the giving out of parts for exhibition, a very superior writer and general scholar sometimes finds himself playing second to his inferior in all things, except Greek verbs and geometrical theorems.
I had formed a character, too; but it was one not likely to be known by college boys. I was the slave of my feelings and my impulses. I could write a better love-letter than forensic theme. I did indeed possess a delicacy of sentiment, which shrunk from display. I was diffident and retiring, from the very knowledge I possessed, that I was placed by my class below my proper standard. But when my spirits were excited, they ran away with me. I then became the boldest of all. A load was removed from my heart. I no longer felt the degradation of being no scholar. My pride was asleep, and in the rëaction of depressed feeling, I rushed headlong into
any scheme that offered amusement or dissipation. Then came the reaction of over excitement the “fullness of satiety' - and I relapsed into an unhappy, good-for-nothing idler. I felt possessed of capacity, but I did not know where to begin to exert it. had no adviser. Good students avoided me, as an unprofitable companion, and the professedly dissipated and vile did not like my half-way course my balancing between good and ill; so that I was lonely, conscience-stricken, restless, and miserable.
At home, I enjoyed some happy hours, for there I had a sister for whom I felt the strongest affection, and by whom if acts speak any truth - I was equally beloved. I told her all my difficulties, and she probably knew how inadvertent were my errors, for she never spoke to me in other than kind and endearing words. But she was a woman, and could only soothe. She could not advise.
My father, during all this time, supposed every thing was fair. He still had hopes. He saw me rëinstated in my class, and promised himself much from my ripening years. He saw that I had faults; he must have seen it'; but then he attributed them to the usual folly and thoughtlessness of youth. He saw others in the same way. He did not know how deeply the bonds of idleness, and frivolity, and irresolution, were fastened upon me. Fortunately for him, the future was wrapped in darkness. VOL. IX.
How can I ever repay the affectionate solicitude of this sister ! her deprivations for my sake! I believe she would have sacrificed her life for me. She was near my own age — two years the eldest. She had been left a motherless child. We had known only a few years of the tenderness and care of a mother. Left to berself, she had, by the merest chance in the world, formed for herself a strong and noble character. She was worthy of being a pattern for American women.
While quite young, she was sent to the best boarding schools. There she got little save a smattering of French, and a taste for drawing, and a love of romping. In due time, she was brought out, as all young ladies are, more on account of their size, than their age or accomplishments. That is, she was invited into company, and behaved herself very modestly. She thought it pretty to hang her head, and blush, and lisp her words, and appear the mildest, tamest creature in the world ; though I can aver that she was hoydenrish to a fault, and loved our sports quite as well as we did. She would chase us boys round the house, if we offended her, and fight her own battles — running up the front stairs, down the back stairs, through the parlor and library — and we could only escape her by running into the street. She soon, however, got rid of all this romping spirit, and settled down into a very naturally-conducted miss. She tnok to reading Miss Edgeworth, and Hannah More, and Mrs. Chapone's and Gregory's letters — and the effect was most salutary. She seemed to view her life in a new light; and without pretending to be very good, and very prudish, or vastly proper, she really was the most generous and high-minded girl I ever knew. Every body loved her. She never had an enemy, and she never will have ; for she is now in heaven, with her mother, and one of her sisters.
She was an instance how much beauty depends upon expression. Her features were large, her figure rather embon point, her teeth indifferent, her hair light, but luxuriant. She was quite an ordinarylooking girl, when at home, in a state of quiescence, as ladies are apt to be in America — sewing, or reading, or drawing; but when in society she loved, or witnessing an interesting tragedy, meeting dear friends, after a long absence, she was positively the most beautiful girl I ever saw. Her eye would light up with vivid brightness ; her figure assume the most graceful and speaking expression; her smile was enchanting, and her whole heart was in her voice, and action, and look. She was much admired, but mostly by those who knew her the best.
I have said a good deal about this sister, because I wish to pay a tribute to her excellence for her affection was my greatest consolation, and it is now. I love to look back upon that enduring regard, that unalienable interest, we felt for each other. How often has her persuasion saved me from error! How much do I owe to her constructions of my conduct with the family, with my father! She was ever at hand to allay bitterness, to cherish kindness, and remove all obstacles to a reconciliation. When in pecuniary difficulty, she has often relieved me, from her own purse. I owe her much in all respects. She has tended me in sickness, soothed me in distress, sat with me whole nights of agony, when my nerves were excited almost to madness; and, best of all, she exerted all her powers to keep alive in my heart my early religious impressions.
She married — she left her home - her husband removed to one of the West India islands. She followed him, without repining, to a strange land, because his interest was concerned in the step. She left splendor, luxury, fashion, and the dearest circle of friends, who doated on her, and became a wife to a poor man. Among numerous offers, she chose him who she thought loved her the best. She prized affection more than wealth, and the devotion of her husband more than the devotion of the world. While she lived, she was amply repaid for her choice. She was a happy, trusting wife. Love was to her the end of existence. The same depth of affection which was bestowed upon a careless and useless brother, found a more worthy object in an honorable husband.
But God did not spare her long to her friends. She died and her husband and child died with her, during the ravages of the yellow fever. But she died happy. In a letter which I received from her, mentioning the death of many of her acquaintance, she says of herself: 'I do not fear death for myself, but I fear lest my dear infant be taken from me; if we could all die together, I should be willing to die to-day. A short time after this, she died, having first laid her husband and child in the tomb.
I only remained at college, after my return, for a few months. The extra studies I was required to make up during the vacation, were entirely neglected. I returned after the vacation, and being examined, was found wanting. It was deliberated whether to send me away, or to give me an opportunity to make up my deficiency in term time. The latter course was determined on. I was required to remain in town, and to recite every day at a fixed hour. We were accustomed to visit our parents, frequently, during term-time, but this privilege was denied me, under the penalty of dismission, should I leave the college-bounds, on any pretext.
The very day after the usual time for my visiting home, my father' came out, and inquired the cause of my absence. I pleaded sickness, and still kept away. He came again, and I told him the truth that I was restrained within the bounds as a punishment. He felt for me
consoled me, encouraged me came ont to see me twice as often as before. My mother and sisters sent me presents, and wrote by every opportunity — for they thought I suffered very much. Time wore away, and I felt happy enough, for I had done my duty; I had, ipon compulsion, been more than studious.
The period of my release was at hand. The very day before the last of my confinement, my father came out to see me, and promised himself much pleasure from having me at his table once more. I was yet the hope of the family. He gave me some money, and said he intended to invite some friends to meet me. He seemed overjoyed; but by mistaken indulgence, my disgrace was accelerated.
The very evening after he had left me, and supplied me with money - the evening of my last recitation - I was solicited, more urgently than usual, to go upon a party of pleasure. Horses were all provided. It was to be a delightful jaunt through the country, to try the speed of some favorite horses. We were to rendezvous at
a tavern, where we were sure of good cheer, and have a band of music for a water-excursion by moonlight, in the evening; and it was stipulated to be at home for morning prayers. Every thing conspired against me. My near release made me already feel the gush of liberty. The kindness of my father, the anticipations of meeting my brothers and sisters, once more round the paternal board, made me alınost crazy with excitement. I was in no situation to act thoughtfully. I joined the party in their ride, and we did go out of town.
I drove a fleet horse that day; and I well remember the sensation of liberty — the rëaction of a long, tedious, studious retirement from any thing like pleasure — that thrilled through me, as we wheeled along the smooth road. We seemed on wings.
During the ride, some accident happened to one of the horses. He got frightened and ran away, and ran over a child. It was well known that we were L - students. An investigation took place ; we were reported to the government. My absence from recitation was suspicious. The whole matter was brought to light; and instead of going home, to gladden my family, I carried home a bill of expulsion.
My misfortune niy agony — made me calm. I walked into the house with a ghastly face and the cold shiver of despair. No one rose to meet me, for my appearance told that I was the bearer of disgrace. I handed the letter of the president to my father, and sinking into a chair, covered my face with my hands.
What words can describe the agony of a father's heart, when, after forgiving, alluring, encouraging, and bribing - after all human means have been tried for an imprudent son — I cannot call myself by a worse name and just as he thinks he sees the object of his wishes accomplished, suddenly finds the very anchor of his hopes torn away, and sees, in all its nakedness, the utter worthlessness of his favorite child ?
He knew not the aggravating circumstances. He did not think of them. He only saw the result. That was enough for him. He knew nothing of my disposition. He saw me affectionate, and kind, and respectful one day, and the next subjected to the severest censures, which proved me base, and unworthy of his confidence. He was staggered, lost, bewildered. He said not a word to me for a week — took no more notice of me than if I had been a block. I was suffered to remain under the paternal roof, and this was all that convinced me that I had not lost, irremediably, the affection of my father.
I was now perfectly regular in my hours, and as studious in my habits as any one could wish. Very soon, my father began to speak to me— to be cheerful in my presence. Then he spoke to me of my intentions. I wished to study law, and my name was entered in the best office in the city.
The hopes of a father never weary, as long as youth remains. I was rëinstated in his good opinion ; indulgences flowed in upon me;
and I forgot that I had ever done wrong, and began to look upon myself as quite a good young man. My relations and friends all seemed agreed to forget this disgrace, and I found myself moving about in society quite a tolerated personage.
My father was rich. I was to be a lawyer. What mother wanted more? “He must be invited,' said Mrs. C. I was invited flirted with the young ladies — mounted whiskers — kept a horse and gig – played billiards — had a season ticket at the theatre went to all public dinners, and spent the morning in walking the streets, to look for my female acquaintance, and to show my grace at a bow.
This was delightful. My conscience was at rest. I had been at college, and got out. Nobody inquired how. I was well received in good society. I had thrown off the boy, and his nice delicacy of feeling. It was unfashionable to have fine feelings. I tried to be a 'man about town,' with some success. I became philosophic — read Rousseau and Hume all the new novels and many old ones; was a member of a literary club, and took the reviews, and skimmed the magazines; spoke of painting, and went to the picture gallery.
But why should I relate all the vapid employments of a young uneducaled man to kill time ; who, with more reputation than he could carry out, was obliged to resort to all kinds of subterfuges ? I was now nineteen years of age.
I carried on this life for a year or more. I was too well satisfied with myself, to think much what my reputation was with others. A sufficient portion of time was spent at the office, to give me the name of a student at law. I did try to read Blackstone, and did get through the first volume; but I could not have told a principle contained in it. I did not know how to study. Here, too, my father seemed satisfied, for my conduct was apparently correct, at home, and he was too much engaged in his own concerns, to think much of mine. He took it for granted that now, at last, I must be doing well. My allowance was liberal for pocket money, travelling expenses, and dress. I wanted nothing to make me a man,' except the disposition in my own heart.
Common pleasures began to pall upon my taste. I craved excitement. My love for my cousin was not extinguished, but I had become old enough to see the folly of indulging it. True, I never thought of her, I never can think of her, but with the purest feeling. Though still unmarried, and at an age when the charms that deck the maiden's cheek begin to fade, she is still lovely to me; she is still a girl — and when I chance to meet her now, she is to me the sweet companion of my walks and roamings about her delightful home. She is still the object of that ideal perfection in the shape of woman, which every young man frames for himself — the point about which his thoughts fasten, of what he would love - of what he wishes — of what he sighs and prays to possess.
Yes! excitement I craved. How many a one sells his soul for mirth and wild joy! sells his reputation - barters his honor — his paternal honor, and blots the fair escutcheon of his family, for excitement! It tends to honorable enterprises, and it assumes all the forms of worldly affairs, under various modifications, but it is base, too. It sends the poor to the dram-shop, and the heir to the gam