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Mrs. D. And do you think these things a disgrace?
Mrs. A.. A disgrace! do you think I will allow my daughters to keep company with laboring people !
Mrs. D. Suppose they are honest, and respectable, and well bred, what harm can it do them?
Mrs. A. Aye, well bred; that's the thing; how can they be, for they were never at a dancing school in their lives.
Mrs. D. And cannot young persons be well bred without the help of a dancing school ?
Mrs. A. No. My daughters would have been as awkward as pigs, if they had not been sent to Mr. Caper to learn to dance. But now they can dance as well as any ladies in Boston, and know how to draw up their lips in the newest Boston fashion; and step, and stoop, and fold their hands as well as the first chop of ladies; and do you think I'd let them go among such an awkward pack? Beside one half of those girls hav’ent a silk gown to their backs, nor a gold necklace, nor a ring, nor a hoop for their ears; why! my daughters would look like queens among beggars !
Mrs. D. But have your daughters no merit, but what they derive from daneing masters, gold, and costly apparrel?
Mrs. A. Yes--- They never washed a dish or a garment in their life, nor milked a cow, nor spun a thread----and they never go out without a paraso).
Mrs. D. Is this all ?
Mrs. A. By no means---they are rich, and their line of ancestry has been rich ever since the flood.
Mrs. D. You mean the flood we had five years ago, I uppose. Mrs. A. No, I mean Noah's flood.
Mrs. D. But, to talk soberly, Mrs. Aristocrat, I cannot agree with you in your ideas of nobility. Riches, of themselves can make no one honorable ; though riches dishonor no one, if he acts according to the dignity of his station in the scale of beings. But were he as rich as an eastern monarch, and at the same time ignorant, proud, imperious, covetous and a slave to vice; I should think the honest beggar a betier nobleman than he. Nor do the outward adornings of the body, or the mere affected shadows of good behaviour, tear any comparison with the substantial endowments of the mind, and the noble character formed by the profession and practice of true virtue. If your daughters bave no other merit, than that you speak of, let me say, that Mr. Republic's
daughters have a better claim to nobi'ity than yours. They are decently educated, modest, unassuming, sensible, easy in their manners, and irreproachable in their behaviour. Mrs. A. I'm out of patience to hear you talk so.
Those girls are fit for nothing but to be the kitchen maids for mine. And Mr. Aristocrat says, the time will soon come when persons of your rank wont dare talk to us NOBILITY as you do
He says, if he could have his will, Mr. Republic's daughters should all be put to service, and he'd teach them to think themselves as good as his daughters. I wish king George would come and set us off into lord-ships, then we should have good times ; we'd see thén, if every one of Republic's boys would feel as big and as independent as a king.
Mrs. D. It is a matter of thankfulness that divine Providence has so ordered it, you cannot be gratified in your
wishAnd I trust the being who has called us into liberty, will preserve that liberty to us ; in spite of all the would-begreats in the nation. And while He protects us, they rage and wish in vain. In the mean while, you will do well to consider, that though you despise others so much, you and your daughters must lie as low in the dust as they...you wiil be as much the subjects of corruption, and the worms will feed on you as sweetly.' Your time of boasting is short, and you had better lay off your pride ; and consider, that God hath made of one blood all the nations that dwell on the face of the whole earth’--- And that God hath respect unto the lowly, but the prond he knoweth afar off. Let us, then adopt the language of the poet,
“ I respect that man whose conduct says that he respects himself." Mrs. A. You have turned preacher, have you, Mrs. Demo---Our minister thinks as I do, and he is a good man. He sends his daughters to the dancing school ; and says they shan't go among the common people---and he says the common people know too much, and have too much liberty, and such a good man as he is must know. He won't himself go among the common folks, unless they are sick and send for lim. He a’nt like Humilitas, who goes creeping round to see every poor, dirty family in his parish--
Mrs. D. I have a sufficient idea of you and your minister --) pity you both----90 good bye.
It is strange (said the old man) that aristocratic principles of such a growth, should be found so far from the metrop
olis. In large towns and cities, where some are overgrown with riches, and whose pride and self-created dignity have kept pace with the increase of wealth; and where others are poor and dependent, it is not so strange that the former should assume so much superiority, as to produce a mean servility in the latter ; especially where one or two hundred years have given time for its growth, and a commercial connection with aristocratical and monarchical countries, has watered and nourished it. But to find it here, in a town not fifty years old, in all the luxuriancy of an old aristocratical state, bending beneath the fruits of pride and extravagance, indicates either a littleness of mind, which commonly, when united with a little property, seeks after a paltry imitation of high life, and expects more than the great deserve ; or else, a direct descent from a root, which was originally planted in European soil. Whichever of these it may be, it is certain, true Americans enjoy too free an air, and are too deeply rooted in the soil of liberty, not to despise the principle and pity its possessors. Our fathers never fought and bled to shake off the oppressive yoke of Britain, to allow a few ignorant, self-conceited, self-created, would-be-noblemen to lord it over the best and by far the largest part of the community, and that too without ability or legal right.
Having ended their enquiries in this place, and made such remarks as were thought proper, they continued their journey. A new and very singular object presented itself. A large landed estate lay before them, on which stood a house and out-buildings, which had the appearance of having been elegant and in good repair ; but every thing now wore the aspect of neglect and decay. Some fields which had been highly cultivated and fruitful, lay unfenced and untilled. In some places the walls presented a fallen and ruinous appearance, and in others the fences were scattered on the ground, or were missing for rods together, having, they afterwards found, been used for fuel. Here and there was a little patch of corn overrun with weeds, and dwarf wheat, half devoured
by caitle. A few half starved swine had duy the potatoe field, and stood squealing at the door for something to stop the rage of a hoggish appetite. A numerous flock of sheep were running at large, with scarcely a lamb among them ;some shorn, others had cast their fleece, or hung it on the briars and bushes, which every where grew in great plenty, and others were drawing after them long trails of wool. The cows had not outgrown the poverty of winter, and the bones of several were to be seen at a small distance from the barn. The fruit trees were surrounded with sprouts at the bottom, and filled with dead and dying branches; the lowest and most flourishing had been browsed and reduced to a dying state.
The buildings were in no better condition. Broken windows were filled with old clothes and hats, or boards nailed across, to keep out the storm--some clapboards fallen off, others hung clattering with every breeze—a leaky roof, decayed yard fence, with pannels absent from the door, made up the external condition of the house. The barns and out houses were in a similar style.
The whole wore such a singular appearance, and was so different from any thing Charles had ever seen, he had a mind to go in and examine further. The old man consenting, they entered the house. The first object that attracted notice was, a man lying on an old sofa, who had the marks of about fifty years depicted in his face; but carried other marks which were much more legible, His face was bloated, his nose of a double size, and somewhat resembling a piece of red hot iron. He presented an unwieldy carcase, and was groaning under a fit of the gout. One could see BRANDY written in livid capitals on his lips. A volley of oaths first saluted their ears, but being requested by the old man not to swear, he next attempted to entertain them by a long tale of complaints concerning the pains he endured, and his tedious confinement. This was by no means entertaining; especially as they were so well satisfied as to the cause of his sufferings.
At a little distance sat his wife. A pensive melancholy and deep discouragement were written in every feature. It was too evident her heart was broken with ill-treatment, unkind language, disappointment, and poverty; to which she had been a stranger in the earlier part of her life. Her tears were almost involuntary, and her sighs habitual. Amidst the ruins occasioned by her troubles, might be seen traces of
good breeding, sensibility, and a delicacy, which had once given her a just claim to pre-eminent rank in society ; the remembrance of which only increased her wretchedness.
In short, every thing within and without, wore the appearance of fallen greatness. The sight was so unpleasant they withdrew hastily, and called at a neighboring Inn to ask further information.
The landlord, of whom they asked it, at first hesitater), saying, he did not practice speaking ill of his neighbors, and especially to strangers. It has generally been a principle with me, (said he) that if I cannot speak well of a person, not to speak ill of him. There is so much evil arises in society by a disregard to this rule, that I have no need to contribute to its increase or support.
Charles replied, your conversation on this subject highly pleases me, and I should be glad to find every one cautious of evil speaking ; for I am persuaded, many, very many, go far from the dictates of christian charity ; and among this class are found some, who make high pretentions to the religion of Christ. Hence, nothing is farther from me, than to persuade you to be guilty of a breach of charity ; but I have set out on purpose to get an acquaintance with men and things, and to make moral and useful reflections, on what I see and hear.
On being satisfied concerning the truth of these remarks, the landlord consented to their request.
He had a large patrimony on setting out in life, and shortly engaging in the East India trade, proved fortunate, and gained much additional wealth. At length, growing tired of business, and supposing his income sufficient for future maintenance, he purchased that estate ; and fitting it up with taste and elegance, moved on to it. For some years he continued to improve it, and every thing wore a promising aspect. But in the mean while he was laying the foundation for his degradation and misery. While in business, he formed an acquaintance with some wealthy but extravagant persons of the town ; who, pretending unbounded regard for him made him frequent visits in his retirement. · Every visit was attended with an expensive parade of servants, costly meals, rich wines, &c. After drinking too freely, these visils usually ended in playing cards on wager.
Some of his companions being adepts in gaming, and accomplished knaves, won from him large sums of money. The continuance of this