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"What differ more,' you cry, 'than crown and cowl?'"
THE year was again drawing towards its close ; and the usual season for beginning winter schools had nearly arrived. In his journeys to and from college, at the time of his matriculation, and afterwards on his occasional brief visits to his family, young Amsden had passed through a thriving little village, which was generally known by the name of Mill Town, but which its ambitious inhabitants had recently thought to dignify, by re-christening it by the more sonorous and classical appellation of Mill Town Emporium. The village, numbering perhaps two hundred souls, contained a store, a tavern, a cluster of mills, and several very sprucelooking dwelling-houses, among which the newly-painted twostory house of the merchant glared in conspicuous whiteness. And, as our hero was now on his way homeward, and in search of some good situation in a winter's school, which he had neglected to secure,-though many eligible ones had been offered him, which he had declined on account of their location,- he concluded to call at this place, in order to ascertain whether he might not here obtain a situation, which for him might prove a desirable one, as the village was pleasantly located on the main road leading to, and within half a day's ride from, the residence of his family, with whom he wished to keep up a personal intercourse. Upon inquiry of the bustling keeper of the inn where he stopped, Locke was told that the
village school had not yet been supplied with a teacher; and that the managing committee, consisting of the merchant of the place, the tailor, and the newspaper editor (for a political newspaper, called The Blazing Star, had just been established in this miniature city), “ were now on the look-out to engage a man of those splendidest qualifications which the growing importance of the place demanded." Though somewhat startled at this pompous announcement, our candidate yet took directions to the house of the merchant, who, it was said, would probably exercise a rather controlling influence among this able board of managers. A few steps brought him to the showy white house before named, as belonging to the popular personage -- as an only merchant of a little village generally is — of whom he was in quest. On applying the knocker, the door was opened by the merchant himself, who appeared with a pen behind his ear, and invited the other into his sitting room, where it appeared he had been posting his books. He was a youngerly man, of an affectedly brisk and courteous manner. Supposing his visiter had called for the purposes of trade, he received him with all the smirks and bows of a practised salesman, and began to talk rapidly about nothing - i. e. the state of the weather, and the condition of the roads for travelling. As soon, however, as Locke announced his name and business, he suddenly became much less profuse of his bows and smiles, and, assuming a consequential air, observed,
“Why, sir, we are not over-anxious to engage a teacher just now - though, to be sure, we have so many applications pressing upon us, that we shall be compelled to decide soon. But you see, sir, we have a flourishing village here. It is thought we shall have an academy soon. public-spirited and genteel people in the place; and they will not be suited with any thing short of a teacher of the most superfine qualifications."
There are many
“I trust to be able to answer all reasonable expectations, in that respect,” remarked Amsden, scarcely able to repress a smile at the other's singular application of terms.
“ Presume it - presume it — that is, can't say to the contrary. But do you bring any letters of credit with you ?”
“ Credentials ? I have something of the kind about me, I believe; but having seen how easily they are obtained, and how little reliance the public place upon them, I thought not of offering them, preferring to be examined, and not doubting that your committee would be abundantly able to satisfy yourselves of my qualifications by such a course much better than by a dependence on the certificates of others.”
“ That's fair -- that's fair, sir. Why, to be sure, I profess to know something myself about education, having been to an academy a quarter before entering business; and the gentlemen who are committee with me, one the editor of the Blazing Star, and the other the merchant tailor of our vil. lage, are both men of some parts - especially our editor, whom I consider to be a man of splendid talents. I will send for them, sir.”
So saying, the merchant committee-man went out and despatched a boy for his colleagues, who soon made their appearance, and were thereupon introduced, in due form, to our candidate for the throne of a village school. The new-comers also were both men below the middle age. He of the goose (we mean no disrespect to that honest calling, who take all the jokes and get all the money) was a man of a fair, feminine appearance, of pert, jaunty manners, and of showy dress, done in the very extremes of last year's city fashions, though recently made, and now worn as a sort of sign-board sample to display constantly before the great public of Mill Town Emporium, and its tributaries, convincing proof of his signal ability to make good the glowing professions of his standing advertisement in the Blazing Star, “to be always
prepared to cut and make to order after the very latest New York and London fashions.” The editor was a personage of quite a different appearance. He was grave and severe of look, his countenance plainly indicating how deeply he was conscious of the important responsibilities of his position, as conductor of the Blazing Star, on which the political destinies of the country so much depended.
The sage trio, who were to decide on our hero's qualifications in the sciences, being thus brought together, the merchant announced to his colleagues the cause of the convocation, and the progress already made in the business on hand.
“Do you teach after the latest style and fashion of teaching, sir ?” commenced the tailor, “there must be much in that, I think. There is nothing like keeping up with the improvements and latest style of the times, if one calculates to succeed, in almost any thing, at this day.”
“ As far as I could see changes to be improvements, I certainly should follow them,” replied Locke.
“Do you teach book-keeping ?” asked the merchant: “I consider that to be of the last importance.”
“ Literally, so do I, sir. An understanding, and mechanical skill of execution, of the principles of penmanship, I consider of the first importance; and, these attained, it may be be lastly important that the pupil be instructed in book-keeping," answered Locke, without observing the air of pique which became visible in the countenance of the interrogator at this answer.
“I feel impelled by my sense of duty to my country,” said the editor, “to make a preliminary question. And I trust the gentleman will excuse my desire to know which of the two great political parties of the day he supports. This I would not consider a sine qua non, or even very important, at some periods in our public affairs ; but when, as now, I see an obnoxious party power stalking through the land, like the
besom of destruction, to overthrow the sacred liberties of the country, I do hold it an imperious duty to know the principles of those we encourage; not because I should fear that one of that party, whose further increase I so much deprecate, could exercise a pernicious influence in our intelligent village, where, since the establishment of the Blazing Star, the political views of the people, I am proud to say, are so generally correct no, not at all on that account, but for the inherent principle of the thing."
“I have never,” replied Locke, utterly surprised that a test-question of this kind should be put to him, “I have never, till within the present year, been qualified by age for a voter. I have examined the leading principles of our government, it is true, and I much admire them; but, supposing that the opposing parties of the day were all mainly agreed in their aims to sustain those principles, and were, after all, only disputing about men, or at the worst, the different means of gaining the same end, I have so little interested myself in party questions, that I have as yet formed no decided preferences for either side.”
“You are mistaken, sir,” rejoined the editor. “If you suppose that both parties are for sustaining the same principles, you are most
The speaker was here interrupted by a smart rap of the knocker without. The merchant sprang to the door, and soon ushered into the room a personage alike unexpected and unknown to all present. His appearance at once showed him to be a person of many airs, with no lack of confidence in himself. He carried a tasselled cane, and wore a showy safety-chain, with an abundance of watch-seals, to say the least, dangling from his pocket, while his dress was what has significantly been termed the shabby-genteel. After inquiring if the gentlemen present were the school committee, he announced his business, which, to the surprise, and, it must