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him to stay at his house during the week or two which would be necessary for their inquiries.
Henry took the invitation in the larger sense, and determined that, for a fortnight, he would try his chances of success. If, at the end of that time he should have done nothing, he had not very clearly marked out the course he must decide upon.
The twelfth day had passed with no result; when, on their walk to town, "I was thinking," said a neighbour who had joined them, "that an advertisement which I have just been reading might lead to something that would suit your young friend."
His young friend looked at it, and thought so too, and he went at once and alone to the party it referred to.
The name inscribed upon the door-post was Alexander MacNess and Co.; and Henry soon found himself in the presence of a tall, handsome, dark-complexioned person, scarcely forty years of age, with a slight Scotch accent, who seemed to measure the young applicant at a glance, and to be greatly amused at the confidence with which he proceeded to explain the object of his visit.
There was something in the promptness and self-possession exhibited by the youth who stood before him that won upon the strong-minded merchant; and after seeing the friend to whom Henry referred, he agreed to receive him immediately for four years, on terms which more than realised the expectations held out to him by Blake Whitmore.
He was soon initiated into the routine of commercial life, and made himself so rapidly acquainted with his duties as to take a high place in the confidence of his employer.
Amongst the other loose moralities of the age, Mr. MacNess, like most of his brother merchants, made no scruple of devoting his Sunday mornings-when he thought it necessary to his daily pursuits. "If we do nothing worse," was the usual sedative to his conscience; and it was a comfortable doctrine, which in the earlier stages of their guilt may have calmed the misgivings even of a Tawell or a Fauntleroy.
In other respects, Henry derived advantages from his employer's good opinion. Mr. MacNess was unmarried, and his young favourite had an invitation, almost amounting to a command, to dine with him every Sunday. It is true that they were not always alone, and that these Sundays were often devoted to convivial enjoyment; but, compared with the manner in which the day was spent by many of his youthful contemporaries, Mr. MacNess's dinner-parties were a privilege and an advantage.
Though an uneducated man himself, he had purchased a pretty extensive collection of books with the furniture of his house, and Henry had free access to them.
A close observer, however, would have had no difficulty in predicting that the name of Pigott was never destined to stand at the head of the commercial world. He had talents, but they were not the talents of a man of business. He had a restless and undefined ambition. He was inordinately fond of various and desultory reading. However else his young associates, who afterwards attained to more or less distinction in mercantile life, may have employed their leisure, it was certainly not as he did. He may have had more talent than most of them, but in the
walk he had chosen it is not the amount of talent but its direction which constitutes the difference between failure and success. There must be no dallying in pleasant by-paths. The road lies straight before us, and the cry must still be "onward!" "A man's making half a million of money," said Hazlitt, "may not be a proof of his capacity for thought in general. It is oftener owing to views and wishes bounded but constantly directed to one particular object." We must admit that, in the case of Henry Pigott, it was not the pursuit he would have selected, but in any pursuit there would have been the same want of concentrated application. To use a modern phrase, he could not "intensify." His mind was essentially discursive. He could take a rapid flight, but he could not remain long on the wing. The difference between himself and his companions was that he amused himself with objects which occupied his thoughts when his hours of leisure had expired, while they gave their leisure to recreation, and gave their minds only to work.
But this was not the worst. He was seen gesticulating as he walked, and when suddenly met at the corners of streets, was heard muttering strange and incoherent phrases that had certainly no reference to the business upon which he was supposed to be engaged. This arose from his having joined an association of young gentlemen who amused themselves with private theatricals, and had they remembered their parts, spoken so as to have been heard, and acquired an action and expression only moderately appropriate to the characters they assumed, they might possibly (and it was a lofty ambition) have equalled the second and thirdrate performers at a public theatre. As it was, the less we say of their acting the better.
He was also a pretty constant attendant at a debating society, held in a room attached to one of the principal hotels.
It was conducted, as a means of subsistence, by an old player, who is commemorated in the annals of Thespian recklessness as having spent his last crown in purchasing a hare for supper, and having to sell its skin the next morning to pay for his breakfast.
This veteran in life's changes usually presided at the discussions he had announced, and being tall and thin, and of a somewhat aristocratic exterior, he gave to the proceedings an air of suitable decorum.
Henry was a good deal rallied by some of his companions on his fondness for such a resort, and when it was understood that he was himself to speak, there was a strong muster of the office youth prepared to witness his failure.
But those "who came to scoff" went away with a very different feeling. He had a good voice and fluent delivery; his words were always ready and well-arranged; he made some telling quotations; and in the language of the press, "he resumed his seat amidst loud and continued cheering." And when the venerable president spoke of "the close reasoning and brilliant eloquence of the gentleman who had so ably answered the arguments of Mr. Botherem," his young companions could not help feeling that he was something superior to themselves, though not exactly "of them."
"He's a deevil of a critic," said a Scotch lad, of whom there were many present ;-"he's a deevil of a critic, but he'll never be muckle of a merchant."
The young orator looked forward with some fear to his meeting with Mr. MacNess the following morning; but the man of business had not yet heard how his clerk had been in the habit of exhibiting himself, and his mind was occupied with a very different subject. He had received a letter by that day's post, acquainting him with the death of one of his oldest friends, a wealthy timber-merchant, who had been overturned in an open carriage between Bangor and Carnarvon, and for whose family he had to act as sole executor.
When Henry, in his finest and most careful writing, opened a page in the ledger for
THE ESTATE OF THE LATE THOMAS REDPYNE,
he little thought how much it was to influence his individual destinies. Indeed, at the moment, as was often the case, his thoughts were elsewhere; for by the same post he had received the following letter from his mother.
There's nothing in it-as we often ungratefully say, after exhausting the contents of that daily encyclopædia our morning paper-but we copy it notwithstanding, as some of the names it mentions may again come before us. The only point of present importance is referred to in the postscript.
The letter was dated from Abbey Grange, and ran as follows:
"MY DEAR SON,-We are rejoiced to receive such continued good accounts of your present position, though it is a sad contrast to the career which your poor father and myself had marked out for you. Here we are proceeding much as usual. The five Miss Larkinses are still carrying on their flirtations; your favourite, Emma, not quite so foolishly as her sisters; but [Even with our great love of truth, we spare the Miss Larkinses, as three of them are still unmarried; and the feelings of ladies in that position are rather sensitive.]
"As to politics, which you so often inquire about-and why I can never tell-I have only heard that at a meeting of the Reform Society, a few nights ago, Mr. Bam made some observations about the last churchrate which the rector says were most dangerous and revolutionary; and, at his last dinner-party, Mr. Bam was not invited. The rector's wife is now determined not to visit with the liberal families any longer be they who they may-and has recommended all her Tory friends to adopt the same course. Sir Jonah Foster calls them a pretty set,' and assures us that, except ourselves, there is not a family in the place that he cares to know. He often pays us a visit; and rather surprised me the other morning by saying that as we had the place for nothing he supposed I would have no objection to build a stone-wall at the bottom of the garden. Why it would cost fifty pounds!
"Mr. Frampton has closed the path through his wood. It was a nasty damp walk, as you know, and few people ever cared to use it; but there is to be a public meeting about it. There is a meeting here about everything, and then a subscription, and the burgesses are determined to try their right at the Assizes, and I suppose I shall be obliged to give something, which I can ill afford.
"That dear old lady, Mrs. Freelove, wished to have had a dinner-party
last week; but, though on good terms with everybody herself, she finds that all her friends have quarrelled with each other; and she has decided upon deferring her party till they are reconciled. Sir Jonah says that by that time her London port will be pretty well aged.
"Helen unites with me in kind love and sincere prayers for tinued success; and believe me, dear Henry, "Your affectionate mother,
"P.S.-I forgot to mention the death of old Grimes, the town-clerk. It is reported that Blake Whitmore will endeavour to succeed him in his appointments, both as town-clerk and clerk to the magistrates. He is young, but everybody allows that he knows his business well. Helen admires his character more than ever; but we have not seen much of him since you left.-M. P."
"Oh! oh! Master Blake," said Henry, as he carefully reperused the postscript to his mother's letter; "does the wind blow from that quarter? You are a very good fellow; but I have other views for Helen, and you must not think me unfriendly if I oppose you."
In the letter which he wrote to Mrs. Pigott the same evening, he said: "I am not sorry that you have seen so little of Blake Whitmore; for I do not wish that there should be any entanglement between him and Helen. I have every reason to believe that Sir Jonah Foster is attached to her; and that if it had not been for his unfortunate liaison with Blind Barton's Bessie, he would have offered himself long ago. I know, my dear mother, that you would appreciate the advantages of such a connexion as much as I do, and I hope that no foolish fancy of Helen's will oppose itself to our wishes. You cannot suppose that I always intend to remain cribbed and confined' where I am? No, no; mine will be a brighter destiny yet."
The post that carried this communication, also bore the following missive to Sir Jonah Foster: which was marked private and in strict confidence.
"MY DEAR SIR JONAH,-You are already aware of what I am doing here. It ill suits my ambition, as you may suppose; but I must hope that something better awaits me. In the mean time I do what many, in these days, find very difficult-I manage to live. This, however, is not what I have principally to communicate. I had a letter this morning from my mother, in which she tells me that Blake Whitmore is a candidate for the appointments recently held by Mr. Grimes.
"You know my position with Blake. I have been acquainted with him as long as I could have been acquainted with anybody; and I am indebted to him for introducing me here. This obligation I shall take an opportunity of repaying; but I have reason to believe that with the appointments I have mentioned, and a share of his father's practice, he will consider himself in a state to marry; and I have sometimes thought that his regards were turned towards my sister Helen.
Looking forward as I do, I have no desire for such a connexion; and if your powerful influence in the borough were to be used in favour of Mr. Bungleston-who I suppose will be the other candidate—it would
prevent Blake from appearing in a character which would cause much embarrassment both to myself and my family. "I feel satisfied that, if possible, you will do what I wish; and I remain always, with respect and regard, My dear Sir Jonah,
Whether the author of this letter made any moral estimate of himself after he had written it, has not been recorded.
Though it was marked "private and in strict confidence," Sir Jonah, according to his usual habit, placed it in a desk to which his favourite valet, Mr. Peery, had constant access. Mr. Peery, after making himself master of its contents, mentioned them (also " in strict confidence") to a friend in the borough; and, without going a very lengthened circuit, they were kindly repeated to the party to whom it was certainly not intended that they should ever have become known.
Mr. Bungleston obtained the appointments; and Blake Whitmore, very shortly afterwards, left Stoke Dotterell.
AN ATTEMPT AT AN AWAKENING.
In the upper part of Liverpool there was, at that time, a chapel which had been built and was supported by wealthy Methodists;-men, whose lot had fallen upon pleasant places; who enjoyed the good things of this life, and comforted the flesh which they were taught to mortify.
Its swelling roof was conspicuous above the surrounding buildings; and its interior was constructed after the manner of an amphitheatre, the pews rising above each other from the floor nearly to the roof.
As Henry was passing by its gates one Saturday afternoon, he saw a printed announcement that a sermon was to be preached the following morning by Dr. Adam Clarke.
All aspirants to the honours of the rostrum are curious to hear a celebrated speaker, and Henry found himself, at the time appointed, amongst a congregation many of whom he recognised as anything but Methodists, and some as magnates of the commercial world.
Like Dr. Chalmers-and we say it notwithstanding the flattering exclamation of the German divine, recorded in his biography-the preacher was not endowed with "the fatal gift of beauty," but there was about him an unmistakable air of intelligence, respectability, and sincerity, which won both confidence and attention.
His text was from the second chapter of Daniel. His sermon a dissertation upon the image whose brightness was excellent, and the form thereof terrible. The application of the prophet's language to the Babylonian, Medopersian, Macedonian, and Roman empires, was a piece of learned eloquence to which it was a privilege to listen. He then gave
his subject a Christian character; explained that "the stone cut without hands" was a foreshadowing of our Saviour and of the Kingdom of Heaven; and while he dwelt upon the fulfilment of prophecy, sinners were besought July-VOL. CIV. NO. CCCCXV.