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Title: The Redskins; or, Indian and Injin, Volume 1

Author: James Fenimore Cooper

Release date: February 7, 2010 [eBook #31210]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Bryan Ness, Susan Carr and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
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In every work regard the writer's end;
None e'er ran compass more than they intend.





Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1846, by


in the clerk's office of the District Court for the Northern District of New York.


[Pg iii]


This book closes the series of the Littlepage Manuscripts, which have been given to the world, as containing a fair account of the comparative sacrifices of time, money and labour, made respectively by the landlord and the tenants, on a New York estate; together with the manner in which usages and opinions are changing among us; as well as certain of the reasons of these changes. The discriminating reader will probably be able to trace in these narratives the progress of those innovations on the great laws of morals which are becoming so very manifest in connection with this interest, setting at naught the plainest principles that God has transmitted to man for the government of his conduct, and all under the extraordinary pretence of favouring liberty! In this downward course, our picture embraces some of the proofs of that looseness of views on the subject of certain species of property which is, in a degree perhaps, inseparable from the semi-barbarous condition of a new settlement; the gradation of the squatter, from him who merely makes his pitch to crop a few fields in passing, to him who carries on the business by wholesale; and last, though not least in this catalogue of marauders, the anti-renter.

It would be idle to deny that the great principle which lies at the bottom of anti-rentism, if principle it can be called, is the[Pg iv] assumption of a claim that the interests and wishes of numbers are to be respected, though done at a sacrifice of the clearest rights of the few. That this is not liberty, but tyranny in its worst form, every right-thinking and right-feeling man must be fully aware. Every one who knows much of the history of the past, and of the influence of classes, must understand, that whenever the educated, the affluent and the practised, choose to unite their means of combination and money to control the political destiny of a country, they become irresistible; making the most subservient tools of those very masses who vainly imagine they are the true guardians of their own liberties. The well-known election of 1840 is a memorable instance of the power of such a combination; though that was a combination formed mostly for the mere purposes of faction, sustained perhaps by the desperate designs of the insolvents of the country. Such a combination was necessarily wanting in union among the affluent; it had not the high support of principles to give it sanctity, and it affords little more than the proof of the power of money and leisure, when applied in a very doubtful cause, in wielding the masses of a great nation, to be the instruments of their own subjection. No well-intentioned American legislator, consequently, ought ever to lose sight of the fact, that each invasion of the right which he sanctions is a blow struck against liberty itself, which, in a country like this, has no auxiliary so certain or so powerful as justice.

The State of New York contains about 43,000 square miles of land; or something like 27,000,000 of acres. In 1783, its population must have been about 200,000 souls. With such a proportion between people and[Pg v] surface it is unnecessary to prove that the husbandman was not quite as dependent on the landholder, as the landholder was dependent on the husbandman. This would have been true, had the State been an island; but we all know it was surrounded by many other communities similarly situated, and that nothing else was so abundant as land. All notions of exactions and monopolies, therefore, must be untrue, as applied to those two interests at that day.

In 1786-7, the State of New York, then in possession of all powers on the subject, abolished entails, and otherwise brought its law of real estate in harmony with the institutions. At that time, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of the leases which have since become so obnoxious, were in existence. With the attention of the State drawn directly to the main subject, no one saw anything incompatible with the institutions in them. It was felt that the landlords had bought the tenants to occupy their lands by the liberality of their concessions, and that the latter were the obliged parties. Had the landlords of that day endeavoured to lease for one year, or for ten years, no tenants could have been found for wild lands; but it became a different thing, when the owner of the soil agreed to part with it for ever, in consideration of a very low rent, granting six or eight years free from any charge whatever, and consenting to receive the product of the soil itself in lieu of money. Then, indeed, men were not only willing to come into the terms, but eager; the best evidence of which is the fact, that the same tenants might have bought land, out and out, in every direction around them,[Pg vi] had they not preferred the easier terms of the leases. Now, that these same men, or their successors, have become rich enough to care more to be rid of the encumbrance of the rent than to keep their money, the rights of the parties certainly are not altered.

In 1789, the Constitution of the United States went into operation; New York being a party to its creation and conditions. By that Constitution, the State deliberately deprived itself of the power to touch the covenants of these leases, without conceding the power to any other government; unless it might be through a change of the Constitution itself. As a necessary consequence, these leases, in a legal sense, belong to the institutions of New York, instead of being opposed to them. Not only is the spirit of the institutions in harmony with these leases, but so is the letter also. Men must draw a distinction between the "spirit of the institutions" and their own "spirits;" the latter being often nothing more than a stomach that is not easily satisfied. It would be just as true to affirm that domestic slavery is opposed to the institutions of the United States, as to say the same of these leases. It would be just as rational to maintain, because A. does not choose to make an associate of B., that he is acting in opposition to the "spirit of the institutions," inasmuch as the Declaration of Independence advances the dogmas that men are born equal, as it is to say it is opposed to the same spirit, for B. to pay rent to A. according to his covenant.

It is pretended that the durable leases are feudal in their nature. We do not conceive this to be true; but, admitting it to be so, it would[Pg vii] only prove that feudality, to this extent, is a part of the institutions of the State. What is more, it would become a part over which the State itself has conceded all power of control, beyond that which it may remotely possess as one, out of twenty-eight communities. As respects this feudal feature, it is not easy to say where it must be looked for. It is not to be found in the simple fact of paying rent, for that is so general as to render the whole country feudal, could it be true; it cannot be in the circumstance that the rent is to be paid "in kind," as it is called, and in labour, for that is an advantage to the tenant, by affording him the option, since the penalty of a failure leaves the alternative of paying in money. It must be, therefore, that these leases are feudal because they run for ever! Now the length of the lease is clearly a concession to the tenant, and was so regarded when received; and there is not probably a single tenant, under lives, who would not gladly exchange his term of possession for that of one of these detestable durable leases!

Among the absurdities that have been circulated on this subject of feudality, it has been pretended that the well-known English statute of "quia emptores" has prohibited fines for alienation; or that the quarter-sales, fifth-sales, sixth-sales, &c. of our own leases were contrary to the law of the realm, when made. Under the common law, in certain cases of feudal tenures, the fines for alienation were an incident of the tenure. The statute of quia emptores abolished that general principle, but it in no manner forbade parties to enter into covenants of the nature of quarter-sales, did they see fit. The common[Pg viii] law gives all the real estate to the eldest son. Our statute divides the real estate among the nearest of kin, without regard even to sex. It might just as well be pretended that the father cannot devise all his lands to his eldest son, under our statute, as to say that the law of Edward I. prevents parties from bargaining for quarter-sales. Altering a provision of the common law does not preclude parties from making covenants similar to its ancient provisions.

Feudal tenures were originally divided into two great classes; those which were called the military tenures, or knight's service, and soccage. The first tenure was that which became oppressive in the progress of society. Soccage was of two kinds; free and villian. The first has an affinity to our own system, as connected with these leases; the last never existed among us at all. When the knight's service, or military tenures of England were converted into free soccage, in the reign of Charles II., the concession was considered of a character so favourable to liberty as to be classed among the great measures of the time; one of which was the habeas corpus act!

The only feature of our own leases, in the least approaching "villian soccage," is that of the "day's works." But every one acquainted with the habits of American life, will understand that husbandmen, in general, throughout the northern States, would regard it as an advantage to be able to pay their debts in this way; and the law gives them an option, since a failure to pay "in kind," or "in work," merely incurs the forfeiture of paying what the particular thing is worth, in money. In point of fact, money has always been received for these "day's[Pg ix] works," and at a stipulated price.

But, it is pretended, whatever may be the equity of these leasehold contracts, they are offensive to the tenants, and ought to be abrogated, for the peace of the State. The State is bound to make all classes of men respect its laws, and in nothing more so than in the fulfilment of their legal contracts. The greater the number of the offenders, the higher the obligation to act with decision and efficiency. To say that these disorganizers ought not to be put down, is to say that crime is to obtain impunity by its own extent; and to say that they cannot be put down "under our form of government," is a direct admission that the government is unequal to the discharge of one of the plainest and commonest obligations of all civilized society. If this be really so, the sooner we get rid of the present form of government the better. The notion of remedying such an evil by concession, is as puerile as it is dishonest. The larger the concessions become, the greater will be the exactions of a cormorant cupidity. As soon as quiet is obtained by these means, in reference to the leasehold tenures, it will be demanded by some fresh combination to attain some other end.

When Lee told Washington, at Monmouth, "Sir, your troops will not stand against British grenadiers," Washington is said to have answered, "Sir, you have never tried them." The same reply might be given to those miserable traducers of this republic, who, in order to obtain votes, affect to think there is not sufficient energy in its government to put down so bare-faced an attempt as this of the anti-renters to alter the conditions of their own leases to suit their own convenience. The county[Pg x] of Delaware has, of itself, nobly given the lie to the assertion, the honest portion of its inhabitants scattering the knaves to the four winds, the moment there was a fair occasion made for them to act. A single, energetic proclamation from Albany, calling a "spade a spade," and not affecting to gloss over the disguised robbery of these anti-renters, and laying just principles fairly before the public mind, would of itself have crushed the evil in its germ. The people of New York, in their general capacity, are not the knaves their servants evidently suppose.

The assembly of New York, in its memorable session of 1846, has taxed the rents on long leases; thus, not only taxing the same property twice, but imposing the worst sort of income-tax, or one aimed at a few individuals. It has "thimble-rigged" in its legislation, as Mr. Hugh Littlepage not unaptly terms it; endeavouring to do that indirectly, which the Constitution will not permit it to do directly. In other words, as it can pass no direct law "impairing the obligation of contracts," while it can regulate descents, it has enacted, so far as one body of the legislature has power to enact anything, that on the death of a landlord the tenant may convert his lease into a mortgage, on discharging which he shall hold his land in fee!

We deem the first of these measures far more tyrannical than the attempt of Great Britain to tax her colonies, which brought about the revolution. It is of the same general character, that of unjust taxation; while it is attended by circumstances of aggravation that were altogether wanting in the policy of the mother country. This is not[Pg xi] a tax for revenue, which is not needed; but a tax to "choke off" the landlords, to use a common American phrase. It is clearly taxing nothing, or it is taxing the same property twice. It is done to conciliate three or four thousand voters, who are now in the market, at the expense of three or four hundred who, it is known, are not to be bought. It is unjust in its motives, its means and its end. The measure is discreditable to civilization, and an outrage on liberty.

But, the other law mentioned is an atrocity so grave, as to alarm every man of common principle in the State, were it not so feeble in its devices to cheat the Constitution, as to excite contempt. This extraordinary power is exercised because the legislature can control the law of descents, though it cannot "impair the obligation of contracts!" Had the law said at once that on the death of a landlord each of his tenants should own his farm in fee, the ensemble of the fraud would have been preserved, since the "law of descents" would have been so far regulated as to substitute one heir for another; but changing the nature of a contract, with a party who has nothing to do with the succession at all, is not so very clearly altering, or amending, the law of descents! It is scarcely necessary to say that every reputable court in the country, whether State or Federal, would brand such a law with the disgrace it merits.

But the worst feature of this law, or attempted law, remains to be noticed. It would have been a premium on murder. Murder has already been committed by these anti-renters, and that obviously to effect[Pg xii] their ends; and they were to be told that whenever you shoot a landlord, as some have already often shot at them, you can convert your leasehold tenures into tenures in fee! The mode of valuation is so obvious, too, as to deserve a remark. A master was to settle the valuation on testimony. The witnesses of course would be "the neighbours," and a whole patent could swear for each other!

As democrats we protest most solemnly against such bare-faced frauds, such palpable cupidity and covetousness being termed anything but what they are. If they come of any party at all, it is the party of the devil. Democracy is a lofty and noble sentiment. It does not rob the poor to make the rich richer, nor the rich to favour the poor. It is just, and treats all men alike. It does not "impair the obligations of contracts." It is not the friend of a canting legislation, but, meaning right, dare act directly. There is no greater delusion than to suppose that true democracy has anything in common with injustice or roguery.

Nor is it an apology for anti-rentism, in any of its aspects, to say that leasehold tenures are inexpedient. The most expedient thing in existence is to do right. Were there no other objection to this anti-rent movement than its corrupting influence, that alone should set every wise man in the community firmly against it. We have seen too much of this earth, to be so easily convinced that there is any disadvantage, nay that there is not a positive advantage in the existence of large leasehold estates, when they carry with them no political power, as is the fact here. The common-place argument against them, that they defeat[Pg xiii] the civilization of a country, is not sustained by fact. The most civilized countries on earth are under this system; and this system, too, not entirely free from grave objections which do not exist among ourselves. That a poorer class of citizens have originally leased than have purchased lands in New York, is probably true; and it is equally probable that the effects of this poverty, and even of the tenure in the infancy of a country, are to be traced on the estates. But this is taking a very one-sided view of the matter. The men who became tenants in moderate but comfortable circumstances, would have been mostly labourers on the farms of others, but for these leasehold tenures. That is the benefit of the system in a new country, and the ultra friend of humanity, who decries the condition of a tenant, should remember that if he had not been in this very condition, he might have been in a worse. It is, indeed, one of the proofs of the insincerity of those who are decrying leases, on account of their aristocratic tendencies, that their destruction will necessarily condemn a numerous class of agriculturists, either to fall back into the ranks of the peasant or day-labourer, or to migrate, as is the case with so many of the same class in New England. In point of fact, the relation of landlord and tenant is one entirely natural and salutary, in a wealthy community, and one that is so much in accordance with the necessities of men, that no legislation can long prevent it. A state of things which will not encourage the rich to hold real estate would not be desirable, since it would be diverting their money, knowledge, liberality, feelings and leisure, from the improvement of the soil, to objects neither so useful nor so[Pg xiv] praiseworthy.

The notion that every husbandman is to be a freeholder, is as Utopian in practice, as it would be to expect that all men were to be on the same level in fortune, condition, education and habits. As such a state of things as the last never yet did exist, it was probably never designed by divine wisdom that it should exist. The whole structure of society must be changed, even in this country, ere it could exist among ourselves, and the change would not have been made a month before the utter impracticability of such a social fusion would make itself felt by all.

We have elsewhere imputed much of the anti-rent feeling to provincial education and habits. This term has given the deepest offence to those who were most obnoxious to the charge. Nevertheless, our opinion is unchanged. We know that the distance between the cataract of Niagara and the Massachusetts line is a large hundred leagues, and that it is as great between Sandy Hook and the 45th parallel of latitude. Many excellent things, moral and physical, are to be found within these limits, beyond a question; but we happen to know by an experience that has extended to other quarters of the world, for a term now exceeding forty years, that more are to be found beyond them. If "honourable gentlemen" at Albany fancy the reverse, they must still permit us to believe they are too much under the influence of provincial notions.

[Pg 7]



"Thy mother was a piece of virtue, and
She said—Thou wert my daughter; and thy father
Was duke of Milan; and his only heir
A princess;—no worse issued."


My uncle Ro and myself had been travelling together in the East, and had been absent from home fully five years, when we reached Paris. For eighteen months neither of us had seen a line from America, when we drove through the barriers, on our way from Egypt, viâ Algiers, Marseilles, and Lyons. Not once, in all that time, had we crossed our own track, in a way to enable us to pick up a straggling letter; and all our previous precautions to have the epistles meet us at different bankers in Italy, Turkey, and Malta, were thrown away.

My uncle was an old traveller—I might almost say, an old resident—in Europe; for he had passed no less than twenty years of his fifty-nine off the American continent. A bachelor, with nothing to do but to take care of a very ample estate, which was rapidly increasing in value by the enormous growth of the town of New York, and with tastes early formed by travelling, it was natural he should seek those regions where he most enjoyed himself. Hugh Roger Littlepage was born in 1786—the second son of my grandfather, Mordaunt Littlepage, and of Ursula Malbone, his wife. My own father, Malbone Littlepage, was the eldest child of that connexion; and he would have inherited the property of Ravensnest, in virtue of his birthright, had he survived his own[Pg 8] parents; but, dying young, I stepped into what would otherwise have been his succession, in my eighteenth year. My uncle Ro, however, had got both Satanstoe and Lilacsbush; two country-houses and farms, which, while they did not aspire to the dignity of being estates, were likely to prove more valuable, in the long run, than the broad acres which were intended for the patrimony of the elder brother. My grandfather was affluent; for not only had the fortune of the Littlepages centred in him, but so did that of the Mordaunts, the wealthier family of the two, together with some exceedingly liberal bequests from a certain Col. Dirck Follock, or Van Valkenburgh; who, though only a very distant connexion, chose to make my great-grandmother's, or Anneke Mordaunt's, descendants his heirs. We all had enough; my aunts having handsome legacies, in the way of bonds and mortgages, on an estate called Mooseridge, in addition to some lots in town; while my own sister, Martha, had a clear fifty thousand dollars in money. I had town-lots, also, which were becoming productive; and a special minority of seven years had made an accumulation of cash that was well vested in New York State stock, and which promised well for the future. I say a "special" minority; for both my father and grandfather, in placing, the one, myself and a portion of the property, and the other the remainder of my estate, under the guardianship and ward of my uncle, had made a provision that I was not to come into possession until I had completed my twenty-fifth year.

I left college at twenty; and my uncle Ro, for so Martha and myself always called him, and so he was always called by some twenty cousins, the offspring of our three aunts;—but my uncle Ro, when I was done with college, proposed to finish my education by travelling. As this was only too agreeable to a young man, away we went, just after the pressure of the great panic of 1836-7 was over, and our "lots" were in tolerable security, and our stocks safe. In America it requires almost as much vigilance to take care of property, as it does industry to acquire it.

Mr. Hugh Roger Littlepage—by the way, I bore the same name, though I was always called Hugh, while my uncle went by the different appellations of Roger, Ro, and Hodge, among his familiars, as[Pg 9] circumstances had rendered the associations sentimental, affectionate, or manly—Mr. Hugh Roger Littlepage, Senior, then, had a system of his own, in the way of aiding the scales to fall from American eyes, by means of seeing more clearly than one does, or can, at home, let him belong where he may, and in clearing the specks of provincialism from off the diamond of republican water. He had already seen enough to ascertain that while "our country," as this blessed nation is very apt on all occasions, appropriate or not, to be called by all who belong to it, as well as by a good many who do not, could teach a great deal to the old world, there was a possibility—just a possibility, remark, is my word—that it might also learn a little. With a view, therefore, of acquiring knowledge seriatim, as it might be, he was for beginning with the hornbook, and going on regularly up to the belles-lettres and mathematics. The manner in which this was effected deserves a notice.

Most American travellers land in England, the country farthest advanced in material civilization; then proceed to Italy, and perhaps to Greece, leaving Germany, and the less attractive regions of the north, to come in at the end of the chapter. My uncle's theory was to follow the order of time, and to begin with the ancients and end with the moderns; though, in adopting such a rule, he admitted he somewhat lessened the pleasure of the novice; since an American, fresh from the fresher fields of the western continent, might very well find delight in memorials of the past, more especially in England, which pall on his taste, and appear insignificant, after he has become familiar with the Temple of Neptune, the Parthenon, or what is left of it, and the Coliseum. I make no doubt that I lost a great deal of passing happiness in this way, by beginning at the beginning, or by beginning in Italy, and travelling north.

Such was our course, however; and, landing at Leghorn, we did the peninsula effectually in a twelvemonth; thence passed through Spain up to Paris, and proceeded on to Moscow and the Baltic, reaching England from Hamburg. When we had got through with the British isles, the antiquities of which seemed flat and uninteresting to me, after having seen those that were so much more antique, we[Pg 10] returned to Paris, in order that I might become a man of the world, if possible, by rubbing off the provincial specks that had unavoidably adhered to the American diamond while in its obscurity.

My uncle Ro was fond of Paris, and he had actually become the owner of a small hotel in the faubourg, in which he retained a handsome furnished apartment for his own use. The remainder of the house was let to permanent tenants; but the whole of the first floor, and of the entresol, remained in his hands. As a special favour, he would allow some American family to occupy even his own apartment—or rather appartement, for the words are not exactly synonymous—when he intended to be absent for a term exceeding six months, using the money thus obtained in keeping the furniture in repair, and his handsome suite of rooms, including a salon, salle à manger, ante-chambre, cabinet, several chambres à coucher, and a boudoir—yes, a male boudoir! for so he affected to call it—in a condition to please even his fastidiousness.

On our arrival from England, we remained an entire season at Paris, all that time rubbing the specks off the diamond, when my uncle suddenly took it into his head that we ought to see the East. He had never been further than Greece, himself; and he now took a fancy to be my companion in such an excursion. We were gone two years and a half, visiting Greece, Constantinople, Asia Minor, the Holy Land, Petra, the Red Sea, Egypt quite to the second cataracts, and nearly the whole of Barbary. The latter region we threw in, by way of seeing something out of the common track. But so many hats and travelling-caps are to be met with, now-a-days, among the turbans, that a well-mannered Christian may get along almost anywhere without being spit upon. This is a great inducement for travelling generally, and ought to be so especially to an American, who, on the whole, incurs rather more risk now of suffering this humiliation at home, than he would even in Algiers. But the animus is everything in morals.

We had, then, been absent two years and a half from Paris, and had not seen a paper or received a letter from America in eighteen months, when we drove through the barrier. Even the letters and papers received or seen pre[Pg 11]viously to this last term, were of a private nature, and contained nothing of a general character. The "twenty millions"—it was only the other day they were called the "twelve millions"—but, the "twenty millions," we knew, had been looking up amazingly after the temporary depression of the moneyed crisis it had gone through; and the bankers had paid our drafts with confidence, and without extra charges, during the whole time we had been absent. It is true, Uncle Ro, as an experienced traveller, went well fortified in the way of credit—a precaution by no means unnecessary with Americans, after the cry that had been raised against us in the old world.

And here I wish to say one thing plainly, before I write another line. As for falling into the narrow, self-adulatory, provincial feeling of the American who has never left his mother's apron-string, and which causes him to swallow, open-mouthed, all the nonsense that is uttered to the world in the columns of newspapers, or in the pages of your yearling travellers, who go on "excursions" before they are half instructed in the social usages and the distinctive features of their own country, I hope I shall be just as far removed from such a weakness, in any passing remark that may flow from my pen, as from the crime of confounding principles and denying facts in a way to do discredit to the land of my birth and that of my ancestors. I have lived long enough in the "world," not meaning thereby the south-east corner of the north-west township of Connecticut, to understand that we are a vast way behind older nations, in thought as well as deed, in many things; while, on the opposite hand, they are a vast way behind us in others. I see no patriotism in concealing a wholesome truth; and least of all shall I be influenced by the puerility of a desire to hide anything of this nature, because I cannot communicate it to my countrymen without communicating it to the rest of the world. If England or France had acted on this narrow principle, where would have been their Shakspeares, their Sheridans, their Beaumonts and Fletchers, and their Molieres! No, no! great national truths are not to be treated as the gossiping surmises of village crones. He who reads what I write, therefore, must expect to find what I think of matters and things, and not exactly what he may happen to[Pg 12] think on the same subjects. Any one is at liberty to compare opinions with me; but I ask the privilege of possessing some small liberty of conscience in what is, far and near, proclaimed to be the only free country on the earth. By "far and near," I mean from the St. Croix to the Rio Grande, and from Cape Cod to the entrance of St. Juan de Fuca; and a pretty farm it makes, the "interval" that lies between these limits! One may call it "far and near" without the imputation of obscurity, or that of vanity.

Our tour was completed, in spite of all annoyances; and here we were again, within the walls of magnificent Paris! The postilions had been told to drive to the hotel, in the rue St. Dominique; and we sat down to dinner, an hour after our arrival, under our own roof. My uncle's tenant had left the apartment a month before, according to agreement; and the porter and his wife had engaged a cook, set the rooms in order, and prepared everything for our arrival.

"It must be owned, Hugh," said my uncle, as he finished his soup that day, "one may live quite comfortably in Paris, if he possess the savoir vivre. Nevertheless, I have a strong desire to get a taste of native air. One may say and think what he pleases about the Paris pleasures, and the Paris cuisine, and all that sort of things; but "home is home, be it ever so homely." A 'd'Inde aux truffes' is capital eating; so is a turkey with cranberry sauce. I sometimes think I could fancy even a pumpkin pie, though there is not a fragment of the rock of Plymouth in the granite of my frame."

"I have always told you, sir, that America is a capital eating and drinking country, let it want civilization in other matters, as much as it may."

"Capital for eating and drinking, Hugh, if you can keep clear of the grease, in the first place, and find a real cook, in the second. There is as much difference between the cookery of New England, for instance, and that of the Middle States, barring the Dutch, as there is between that of England and Germany. The cookery of the Middle States, and of the Southern States, too, though that savours a little of the West Indies—but the cookery of the Middle States is English, in its best sense; meaning the hearty, substantial, savoury dishes of the English in their true do[Pg 13]mestic life, with their roast-beef underdone, their beefsteaks done to a turn, their chops full of gravy, their mutton-broth, legs-of-mutton, et id omne genus. We have some capital things of our own, too; such as canvass-backs, reedbirds, sheepshead, shad, and blackfish. The difference between New England and the Middle States is still quite observable, though in my younger days it was patent. I suppose the cause has been the more provincial origin, and the more provincial habits, of our neighbours. By George! Hugh, one could fancy clam-soup just now, eh!"

"Clam-soup, sir, well made, is one of the most delicious soups in the world. If the cooks of Paris could get hold of the dish, it would set them up for a whole season."

"What is 'crême de Bavière,' and all such nick-nacks, boy, to a good plateful of clam-soup? Well made, as you say—made as a cook of Jennings used to make it, thirty years since. Did I ever mention that fellow's soup to you before, Hugh?"

"Often, sir. I have tasted very excellent clam-soup, however, that he never saw. Of course you mean soup just flavoured by the little hard-clam—none of your vulgar potage à la soft-clam?"

"Soft-clams be hanged! they are not made for gentlemen to eat. Of course I mean the hard-clam, and the small clam, too—

Here's your fine clams,
As white as snow;
On Rockaway
These clams do grow.

The cries of New York are quite going out, like everything else at home that is twenty years old. Shall I send you some of this eternal poulet à la Marengo? I wish it were honest American boiled fowl, with a delicate bit of shoat-pork alongside of it. I feel amazingly homeish this evening, Hugh!"

"It is quite natural, my dear uncle Ro; and I own to the 'soft impeachment' myself. Here have we both been absent from our native land five years, and half that time almost without hearing from it. We know that Jacob"—this was a free negro who served my uncle, a relic of the[Pg 14] old domestic system of the colonies, whose name would have been Jaaf, or Yop, thirty years before—"has gone to our banker's for letters and papers; and that naturally draws our thoughts to the other side of the Atlantic. I dare say we shall both feel relieved at breakfast to-morrow, when we shall have read our respective despatches."

"Come, let us take a glass of wine together, in the good old York fashion, Hugh. Your father and I, when boys, never thought of wetting our lips with the half-glass of Madeira that fell to our share, without saying, 'Good health, Mall!' 'Good health, Hodge!'"

"With all my heart, uncle Ro. The custom was getting to be a little obsolete even before I left home; but it is almost an American custom, by sticking to us longer than to most people."


This was my uncle's maitre d'hotel, whom he had kept at board-wages the whole time of our absence, in order to make sure of his ease, quiet, taste, skill, and honesty, on his return.


"I dare say"—my uncle spoke French exceedingly well for a foreigner; but it is better to translate what he said as we go—"I dare say this glass of vin de Bourgogne is very good; it looks good, and it came from a wine-merchant on whom I can rely; but Mons. Hugh and I are going to drink together, à l'Amèricaine, and I dare say you will let us have a glass of Madeira, though it is somewhat late in the dinner to take it."

"Tres volontiers, Messieurs—it is my happiness to oblige you."

Uncle Ro and I took the Madeira together; but I cannot say much in favour of its quality.

"What a capital thing is a good Newtown pippin!" exclaimed my uncle, after eating a while in silence. "They talk a great deal about their poire beurrée, here at Paris; but, to my fancy, it will not compare with the Newtowners we grow at Satanstoe, where, by the way, the fruit is rather better, I think, than that one finds across the river, at Newtown itself."

"They are capital apples, sir; and your orchard at Sa[Pg 15]tanstoe is one of the best I know, or rather what is left of it; for I believe a portion of your trees are in what is now a suburb of Dibbletonborough?"

"Yes, blast that place! I wish I had never parted with a foot of the old neck, though I did rather make money by the sale. But money is no compensation for the affections."

"Rather make money, my dear sir! Pray, may I ask what Satanstoe was valued at, when you got it from my grandfather?"

"Pretty well up, Hugh; for it was, and indeed is, a first-rate farm. Including sedges and salt-meadows, you will remember that there are quite five hundred acres of it, altogether."

"Which you inherited in 1829?"

"Of course; that was the year of my father's death. Why, the place was thought to be worth about thirty thousand dollars at that time; but land was rather low in Westchester in 1829."

"And you sold two hundred acres, including the point, the harbour, and a good deal of the sedges, for the moderate modicum of one hundred and ten thousand, cash. A tolerable sale, sir!"

"No, not cash. I got only eighty thousand down, while thirty thousand were secured by mortgage."

"Which mortgage you hold yet, I dare say, if the truth were told, covering the whole city of Dibbletonborough. A city ought to be good security for thirty thousand dollars?"

"It is not, nevertheless, in this case. The speculators who bought of me in 1835 laid out their town, built a hotel, a wharf, and a warehouse, and then had an auction. They sold four hundred lots, each twenty-five feet by a hundred, regulation size, you see, at an average of two hundred and fifty dollars, receiving one-half, or fifty thousand dollars, down, and leaving the balance on mortgage. Soon after this, the bubble burst, and the best lot at Dibbletonborough would not bring, under the hammer, twenty dollars. The hotel and the warehouse stand alone in their glory, and will thus stand until they fall, which will not be a thousand years hence, I rather think."

"And what is the condition of the town-plot?"[Pg 16]

"Bad enough. The landmarks are disappearing; and it would cost any man who should attempt it, the value of his lot, to hire a surveyor to find his twenty-five by a hundred."

"But your mortgage is good?"

"Ay, good in one sense; but it would puzzle a Philadelphia lawyer to foreclose it. Why, the equitable interests in that town-plot, people the place of themselves. I ordered my agent to commence buying up the rights, as the shortest process of getting rid of them; and he told me in the very last letter I received, that he had succeeded in purchasing the titles to three hundred and seventeen of the lots, at an average price of ten dollars. The remainder, I suppose, will have to be absorbed."

"Absorbed! That is a process I never heard of, as applied to land."

"There is a good deal of it done, notwithstanding, in America. It is merely including within your own possession, adjacent land for which no claimant appears. What can I do? No owners are to be found; and then my mortgage is always a title. A possession of twenty years under a mortgage is as good as a deed in fee-simple, with full covenants of warranty, barring minors and femmes covert."

"You did better by Lilacsbush?"

"Ah, that was a clean transaction, and has left no drawbacks. Lilacsbush being on the island of Manhattan, one is sure there will be a town there, some day or other. It is true, the property lies quite eight miles from the City Hall; nevertheless, it has a value, and can always be sold at something near it. Then the plan of New York is made and recorded, and one can find his lots. Nor can any man say when the town will not reach Kingsbridge."

"You got a round price for the Bush, too, I have heard, sir?"

"I got three hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars, in hard cash. I would give no credit, and have every dollar of the money, at this moment, in good six per cent. stock of the States of New York and Ohio."

"Which some persons in this part of the world would fancy to be no very secure investment."

"More fools they. America is a glorious country, after all, Hugh; and it is a pride and a satisfaction to belong to[Pg 17] it. Look back at it, as I can remember it, a nation spit upon by all the rest of Christendom——"

"You must at least own, my dear sir," I put in, somewhat pertly, perhaps, "the example might tempt other people; for, if ever there was a nation that is assiduously spitting on itself, it is our own beloved land."

"True, it has that nasty custom in excess, and it grows worse instead of better, as the influence of the better mannered and better educated diminishes; but this is a spot on the sun—a mere flaw in the diamond, that friction will take out. But what a country—what a glorious country, in truth, it is! You have now done the civilized parts of the old world pretty thoroughly, my dear boy, and must be persuaded, yourself, of the superiority of your native land."

"I remember you have always used this language, uncle Ro; yet have you passed nearly one-half of your time out of that glorious country, since you have reached man's estate."

"The mere consequence of accidents and tastes. I do not mean that America is a country for a bachelor, to begin with; the means of amusement for those who have no domestic hearths, are too limited for the bachelor. Nor do I mean that society in America, in its ordinary meaning, is in any way as well-ordered, as tasteful, as well-mannered, as agreeable, or as instructive and useful, as society in almost any European country I know. I have never supposed that the man of leisure, apart from the affections, could ever enjoy himself half as much at home, as he may enjoy himself in this part of the world; and I am willing to admit that, intellectually, most gentlemen in a great European capital live as much in one day, as they would live in a week in such places as New York, and Philadelphia, and Baltimore."

"You do not include Boston, I perceive, sir."

"Of Boston I say nothing. They take the mind hard, there, and we had better let such a state of things alone. But as respects a man or woman of leisure, a man or woman of taste, a man or woman of refinement generally, I am willing enough to admit that, cæteris paribus, each can find far more enjoyment in Europe than in America. But the philosopher, the philanthropist, the political economist—in[Pg 18] a word, the patriot, may well exult in such elements of profound national superiority as may be found in America."

"I hope these elements are not so profound but they can be dug up at need, uncle Ro?"

"There will be little difficulty in doing that, my boy. Look at the equality of the laws, to begin with. They are made on the principles of natural justice, and are intended for the benefit of society—for the poor as well as the rich."

"Are they also intended for the rich as well as the poor?"

"Well, I will grant you a slight blemish is beginning to appear, in that particular. It is a failing incidental to humanity, and we must not expect perfection. There is certainly a slight disposition to legislate for numbers, in order to obtain support at the polls, which has made the relation of debtor and creditor a little insecure, possibly; but prudence can easily get along with that. It is erring on the right side, is it not, to favour the poor instead of the rich, if either is to be preferred?"

"Justice would favour neither, but treat all alike. I have always heard that the tyranny of numbers was the worst tyranny in the world."

"Perhaps it is, where there is actually tyranny, and for a very obvious reason. One tyrant is sooner satisfied than a million, and has even a greater sense of responsibility. I can easily conceive that the Czar himself, if disposed to be a tyrant, which I am far from thinking to be the case with Nicholas, might hesitate about doing that, under his undivided responsibility, which one of our majorities would do, without even being conscious of the oppression it exercised, or caring at all about it. But, on the whole, we do little of the last, and not in the least enough to counterbalance the immense advantages of the system."

"I have heard very discreet men say that the worst symptom of our system is the gradual decay of justice among us. The judges have lost most of their influence, and the jurors are getting to be law-makers, as well as law-breakers."

"There is a good deal of truth in that, I will acknowledge, also; and you hear it asked constantly, in a case of any interest, not which party is in the right, but who is on the jury. But I contend for no perfection; all I say is, that[Pg 19] the country is a glorious country, and that you and I have every reason to be proud that old Hugh Roger, our predecessor and namesake, saw fit to transplant himself into it, a century and a half since."

"I dare say now, uncle Ro, it would strike most Europeans as singular that a man should be proud of having been born an American—Manhattanese, as you and I both were."

"All that may be true, for there have been calculated attempts to bring us into discredit of late, by harping on the failure of certain States to pay the interest on their debts. But all that is easily answered, and more so by you and me as New Yorkers. There is not a nation in Europe that would pay its interest, if those who are taxed to do so had the control of these taxes, and the power to say whether they were to be levied or not."

"I do not see how that mends the matter. These countries tell us that such is the effect of your system there, while we are too honest to allow such a system to exist in this part of the world."

"Pooh! all gammon, that. They prevent the existence of our system for very different reasons, and they coerce the payment of the interest on their debts that they may borrow more. This business of repudiation, as it is called, however, has been miserably misrepresented; and there is no answering a falsehood by an argument. No American State has repudiated its debt, that I know of, though several have been unable to meet their engagements as they have fallen due."

"Unable, uncle Ro?"

"Yes, unable—that is the precise word. Take Pennsylvania, for instance; that is one of the richest communities in the civilized world; its coal and iron alone would make any country affluent, and a portion of its agricultural population is one of the most affluent I know of. Nevertheless, Pennsylvania, owing to a concurrence of events, could not pay the interest on her debt for two years and a half, though she is doing it now, and will doubtless continue to do it. The sudden breaking down of that colossal moneyed institution, the soi-disant Bank of the United States, after it ceased to be in reality a bank of the government, brought about[Pg 20] such a state of the circulation as rendered payment, by any of the ordinary means known to government, impossible. I know what I say, and repeat impossible. It is well known that many persons, accustomed to affluence, had to carry their plate to the mint, in order to obtain money to go to market. Then something may be attributed to the institutions, without disparaging a people's honesty. Our institutions are popular, just as those of France are the reverse; and the people, they who were on the spot—the home creditor, with his account unpaid, and with his friends and relatives in the legislature, and present to aid him, contended for his own money, before any should be sent abroad."

"Was that exactly right, sir?"

"Certainly not; it was exactly wrong, but very particularly natural. Do you suppose the King of France would not take the money for his civil list, if circumstances should compel the country to suspend on the debt for a year or two, or the ministers their salaries? My word for it, each and all of them would prefer themselves as creditors, and act accordingly. Every one of these countries has suspended in some form or other, and in many instances balanced the account with the sponge. Their clamour against us is altogether calculated with a view to political effect."

"Still, I wish Pennsylvania, for instance, had continued to pay, at every hazard."

"It is well enough to wish, Hugh; but it is wishing for an impossibility. Then you and I, as New Yorkers, have nothing to do with the debt of Pennsylvania, no more than London would have to do with the debt of Dublin or Quebec. We have always paid our interest, and, what is more, paid it more honestly, if honesty be the point, than even England has paid hers. When our banks suspended, the State paid its interest in as much paper as would buy the specie in open market; whereas England made paper legal tender, and paid the interest on her debt in it for something like five-and-twenty years, and, that, too, when her paper was at a large discount. I knew of one American who held near a million of dollars in the English debt, on which he had to take unconvertible paper for the interest for a long series of years. No, no! this is all gammon, Hugh, and is not to be regarded as making us a whit worse than our[Pg 21] neighbours. The equality of our laws is the fact in which I glory!"

"If the rich stood as fair a chance as the poor, uncle Ro."

"There is a screw loose there, I must confess; but it amounts to no great matter."

"Then the late bankrupt law?"

"Ay, that was an infernal procedure—that much I will acknowledge, too. It was special legislation enacted to pay particular debts, and the law was repealed as soon as it had done its duty. That is a much darker spot in our history than what is called repudiation, though perfectly honest men voted for it."

"Did you ever hear of a farce they got up about it at New York, just after we sailed?"

"Never; what was it, Hugh? though American plays are pretty much all farces."

"This was a little better than common, and, on the whole, really clever. It is the old story of Faust, in which a young spendthrift sells himself, soul and body, to the devil. On a certain evening, as he is making merry with a set of wild companions, his creditor arrives, and, insisting on seeing the master, is admitted by the servant. He comes on, club-footed and behorned, as usual, and betailed, too, I believe; but Tom is not to be scared by trifles. He insists on his guest's being seated, on his taking a glass of wine, and then on Dick's finishing his song. But, though the rest of the company had signed no bonds to Satan, they had certain outstanding book-debts, which made them excessively uncomfortable; and the odour of brimstone being rather strong, Tom arose, approached his guest, and desired to know the nature of the particular business he had mentioned to his servant. 'This bond, sir,' said Satan, significantly. 'This bond? what of it, pray? It seems all right.' 'Is not that your signature?' 'I admit it.' 'Signed in your blood?' 'A conceit of your own; I told you at the time that ink was just as good in law.' 'It is past due, seven minutes and fourteen seconds.' 'So it is, I declare! but what of that?' 'I demand payment.' 'Nonsense! no one thinks of paying now-a-days. Why, even Pennsylvania and Maryland don't pay.' 'I insist on payment.'[Pg 22] 'Oh! you do, do you?' Tom draws a paper from his pocket, and adds, magnificently, 'There, then, if you're so urgent—there is a discharge under the new bankrupt law, signed Smith Thompson.' This knocked the devil into a cocked-hat at once."

My uncle laughed heartily at my story; but, instead of taking the matter as I had fancied he might, it made him think better of the country than ever.

"Well, Hugh, we have wit among us, it must be confessed," he cried, with the tears running down his cheeks, "if we have some rascally laws, and some rascals to administer them. But here comes Jacob with his letters and papers—I declare, the fellow has a large basket-full."

Jacob, a highly respectable black, and the great-grandson of an old negro named Jaaf, or Yop, who was then living on my own estate at Ravensnest, had just then entered, with the porter and himself lugging in the basket in question. There were several hundred newspapers, and quite a hundred letters. The sight brought home and America clearly and vividly before us; and, having nearly finished the dessert, we rose to look at the packages. It was no small task to sort our mail, there being so many letters and packages to be divided.

"Here are some newspapers I never saw before," said my uncle, as he tumbled over the pile; "'The Guardian of the Soil'—that must have something to do with Oregon."

"I dare say it has, sir. Here are at least a dozen letters from my sister."

"Ay, your sister is single, and can still think of her brother; but mine are married, and one letter a-year would be a great deal. This is my dear old mother's hand, however; that is something. Ursula Malbone would never forget her child. Well, bon soir, Hugh. Each of us has enough to do for one evening."

"Au revoir, sir. We shall meet at ten to-morrow, when we can compare our news, and exchange gossip."

[Pg 23]


"Why droops my lord, like over-ripen'd corn,
Hanging the head at Ceres' plenteous load?"

King Henry VI.

I did not get into my bed that night until two, nor was I out of it until half-past nine. It was near eleven when Jacob came to tell me his master was in the salle à manger, and ready to eat his breakfast. I hastened up stairs, sleeping in the entresol, and was at table with my uncle in three minutes. I observed, on entering, that he was very grave, and I now perceived that a couple of letters, and several American newspapers, lay near him. His "Good morrow, Hugh," was kind and affectionate as usual, but I fancied it sad.

"No bad news from home, I hope, sir!" I exclaimed, under the first impulse of feeling. "Martha's last letter is of quite recent date, and she writes very cheerfully. I know that my grandmother was perfectly well, six weeks since."

"I know the same, Hugh, for I have a letter from herself, written with her own blessed hand. My mother is in excellent health for a woman of four-score; but she naturally wishes to see us, and you in particular. Grandchildren are ever the pets with grandmothers."

"I am glad to hear all this, sir; for I was really afraid, on entering the room, that you had received some unpleasant news."

"And is all your news pleasant, after so long a silence?"

"Nothing that is disagreeable, I do assure you. Patt writes in charming spirits, and I dare say is in blooming beauty by this time, though she tells me that she is generally thought rather plain. That is impossible; for you know when we left her, at fifteen, she had every promise of great beauty."

"As you say, it is impossible that Martha Littlepage should be anything but handsome; for fifteen is an age when, in America, one may safely predict the woman's ap[Pg 24]pearance. Your sister is preparing for you an agreeable surprise. I have heard old persons say that she was very like my mother at the same time of life; and Dus Malbone was a sort of toast once in the forest."

"I dare say it is all as you think; more especially as there are several allusions to a certain Harry Beekman in her letters, at which I should feel flattered, were I in Mr. Harry's place. Do you happen to know anything of such a family as the Beekmans, sir?"

My uncle looked up in a little surprise at this question. A thorough New Yorker by birth, associations, alliances and feelings, he held all the old names of the colony and State in profound respect; and I had often heard him sneer at the manner in which the newcomers of my day, who had appeared among us to blossom like the rose, scattered their odours through the land. It was but a natural thing that a community which had grown in population, in half a century, from half a million to two millions and a half, and that as much by immigration from adjoining communities as by natural increase, should undergo some change of feeling in this respect; but, on the other hand, it was just as natural that the true New Yorker should not.

"Of course you know, Hugh, that it is an ancient and respected name among us," answered my uncle, after he had given me the look of surprise I have already mentioned. "There is a branch of the Beekmans, or Bakemans, as we used to call them, settled near Satanstoe; and I dare say that your sister, in her frequent visits to my mother, has met with them. The association would be but natural; and the other feeling to which you allude is, I dare say, but natural to the association, though I cannot say I ever experienced it."

"You will still adhere to your asseverations of never having been the victim of Cupid, I find, sir."

"Hugh, Hugh! let us trifle no more. There is news from home that has almost broken my heart."

I sat gazing at my uncle in wonder and alarm, while he placed both his hands on his face, as if to exclude this wicked world, and all it contained, from his sight. I did not speak, for I saw that the old gentleman was really affected, but waited his pleasure to communicate more. My[Pg 25] impatience was soon relieved, however, as the hands were removed, and I once more caught a view of my uncle's handsome, but clouded countenance.

"May I ask the nature of this news?" I then ventured to inquire.

"You may, and I shall now tell you. It is proper, indeed, that you should hear all, and understand it all; for you have a direct interest in the matter, and a large portion of your property is dependent on the result. Had not the manor troubles, as they were called, been spoken of before we left home?"

"Certainly, though not to any great extent. We saw something of it in the papers, I remember, just before we went to Russia; and I recollect you mentioned it as a discreditable affair to the State, though likely to lead to no very important result."

"So I then thought; but that hope has been delusive. There were some reasons why a population like ours should chafe under the situation of the estate of the late Patroon, that I thought natural, though unjustifiable; for it is unhappily too much a law of humanity to do that which is wrong, more especially in matters connected with the pocket."

"I do not exactly understand your allusion, sir."

"It is easily explained. The Van Rensselaer property is, in the first place, of great extent—the manor, as it is still called and once was, spreading east and west eight-and-forty miles, and north and south twenty-four. With a few immaterial exceptions, including the sites of three or four towns, three of which are cities containing respectively six, twenty and forty thousand souls, this large surface was the property of a single individual. Since his death, it has become the property of two, subject to the conditions of the leases, of which by far the greater portion are what are called durable."

"I have heard all this, of course, sir, and know something of it myself. But what is a durable lease? for I believe we have none of that nature at Ravensnest."

"No; your leases are all for three lives, and most of them renewals at that. There are two sorts of 'durable leases,' as we term them, in use among the landlords of New York. Both give the tenant a permanent interest[Pg 26] being leases for ever, reserving an annual rent, with the right to distrain, and covenants of re-entry. But one class of these leases gives the tenant a right at any time to demand a deed in fee-simple, on the payment of a stipulated sum; while the other gives him no such privilege. Thus one class of these leases is called 'a durable lease with a clause of redemption;' while the other is a simple 'durable lease.'"

"And are there any new difficulties in relation to the manor rents?"

"Far worse than that; the contagion has spread, until the greatest ills that have been predicted from democratic institutions, by their worst enemies, seriously menace the country. I am afraid, Hugh, I shall not be able to call New York, any longer, an exception to the evil example of a neighbourhood, or the country itself a glorious country."

"This is so serious, sir, that, were it not that your looks denote the contrary, I might be disposed to doubt your words."

"I fear my words are only too true. Dunning has written me a long account of his own, made out with the precision of a lawyer; and, in addition, he has sent me divers papers, some of which openly contend for what is substantially a new division of property, and what in effect would be agrarian laws."

"Surely, my dear uncle, you cannot seriously apprehend anything of that nature from our order-loving, law-loving, property-loving Americans!"

"Your last description may contain the secret of the whole movement. The love of property may be so strong as to induce them to do a great many things they ought not to do. I certainly do not apprehend that any direct attempt is about to be made, in New York, to divide its property; nor do I fear any open, declared agrarian statute; for what I apprehend is to come through indirect and gradual innovations on the right, that will be made to assume the delusive aspect of justice and equal rights, and thus undermine the principles of the people, before they are aware of the danger themselves. In order that you may not only understand me, but may understand facts that are of the last importance to your own pocket, I will first tell you what[Pg 27] has been done, and then tell you what I fear is to follow. The first difficulty—or, rather, the first difficulty of recent occurrence—arose at the death of the late Patroon. I say of recent occurrence, since Dunning writes me that, during the administration of John Jay, an attempt to resist the payment of rent was made on the manor of the Livingstons; but he put it down instanter."

"Yes, I should rather think that roguery would not be apt to prosper, while the execution of the laws was entrusted to such a man. The age of such politicians, however, seems to have ended among us."

"It did not prosper. Governor Jay met the pretension as we all know such a man would meet it; and the matter died away, and has been nearly forgotten. It is worthy of remark, that he put the evil down. But this is not the age of John Jays. To proceed to my narrative: When the late Patroon died, there was due to him a sum of something like two hundred thousand dollars of back-rents, and of which he had made a special disposition in his will, vesting the money in trustees for a certain purpose. It was the attempt to collect this money which first gave rise to dissatisfaction. Those who had been debtors so long, were reluctant to pay. In casting round for the means to escape from the payment of their just debts, these men, feeling the power that numbers ever give over right in America, combined to resist with others who again had in view a project to get rid of the rents altogether. Out of this combination grew what have been called the 'manor troubles.' Men appeared in a sort of mock-Indian dress, calico shirts thrown over their other clothes, and with a species of calico masks on their faces, who resisted the bailiffs' processes, and completely prevented the collection of rents. These men were armed, mostly with rifles; and it was finally found necessary to call out a strong body of the militia, in order to protect the civil officers in the execution of their duties."

"All this occurred before we went to the East. I had supposed those anti-renters, as they were called, had been effectually put down."

"In appearance they were. But the very governor who called the militia into the field, referred the subject of the[Pg 28] 'griefs' of the tenants to the legislature, as if they were actually aggrieved citizens, when in truth it was the landlords, or the Rensselaers, for at that time the 'troubles' were confined to their property, who were the aggrieved parties. This false step has done an incalculable amount of mischief, if it do not prove the entering wedge to rive asunder the institutions of the State."

"It is extraordinary, when such things occur, that any man can mistake his duty. Why were the tenants thus spoken of, while nothing was said beyond what the law compelled in favour of the landlords?"

"I can see no reason but the fact that the Rensselaers were only two, and that the disaffected tenants were probably two thousand. With all the cry of aristocracy, and feudality, and nobility, neither of the Rensselaers, by the letter of the law, has one particle more of political power, or political right, than his own coachman or footman, if the last be a white man; while, in practice, he is in many things getting to be less protected."

"Then you think, sir, that this matter has gained force from the circumstance that so many votes depend on it?"

"Out of all question. Its success depends on the violations of principles that we have been so long taught to hold sacred, that nothing short of the over-ruling and corrupting influence of politics would dare to assail them. If there were a landlord to each farm, as well as a tenant, universal indifference would prevail as to the griefs of the tenants; and if two to one tenant, universal indignation at their impudence."

"Of what particular griefs do the tenants complain?"

"You mean the Rensselaer tenants, I suppose? Why, they complain of such covenants as they can, though their deepest affliction is to be found in the fact that they do not own other men's lands. The Patroon had quarter sales on many of his farms—those that were let in the last century."

"Well, what of that? A bargain to allow of quarter sales is just as fair as any other bargain."

"It is fairer, in fact, than most bargains, when you come to analyze it, since there is a very good reason why it should accompany a perpetual lease. Is it to be supposed that a landlord has no interest in the character and habits of his[Pg 29] tenants? He has the closest interest in it possible, and no prudent man should let his lands without holding some sort of control over the assignment of leases. Now, there are but two modes of doing this; either by holding over the tenant a power through his interests, or a direct veto dependent solely on the landlord's will."

"The last would be apt to raise a pretty cry of tyranny and feudality in America!"

"Pretty cries on such subjects are very easily raised in America. More people join in them than understand what they mean. Nevertheless, it is quite as just, when two men bargain, that he who owns every right in the land before the bargain is made, should retain this right over his property, which he consents to part with only with limitations, as that he should grant it to another. These men, in their clamour, forget that until their leases were obtained, they had no right in their lands at all, and that what they have got is through those very leases of which they complain; take away the leases, and they would have no rights remaining. Now, on what principle can honest men pretend that they have rights beyond the leases? On the supposition, even, that the bargains are hard, what have governors and legislators to do with thrusting themselves in between parties so situated, as special umpires? I should object to such umpires, moreover, on the general and controlling principle that must govern all righteous arbitration—your governors and legislators are not impartial; they are political or party men, one may say, without exception; and such umpires, when votes are in the question, are to be sorely distrusted. I would as soon trust my interests to the decision of feed counsel, as trust them to such judges."

"I wonder the really impartial and upright portion of the community do not rise in their might, and put this thing down—rip it up, root and branch, and cast it away, at once."

"That is the weak point of our system, which has a hundred strong points, while it has this besetting vice. Our laws are not only made, but they are administered, on the supposition that there are both honesty and intelligence enough in the body of the community to see them well made, and well administered. But the sad reality shows[Pg 30] that good men are commonly passive, until abuses become intolerable; it being the designing rogue and manager who is usually the most active. Vigilant philanthropists do exist, I will allow; but it is in such small numbers as to effect little on the whole, and nothing at all when opposed by the zeal of a mercenary opposition. No, no—little is ever to be expected, in a political sense, from the activity of virtue; while a great deal may be looked for from the activity of vice."

"You do not take a very favourable view of humanity, sir."

"I speak of the world as I have found it in both hemispheres, or, as your neighbour the magistrate 'Squire Newcome has it, the 'four hemispheres.' Our representation is, at the best, but an average of the qualities of the whole community, somewhat lessened by the fact that men of real merit have taken a disgust at a state of things that is not very tempting to their habits or tastes. As for a quarter sale, I can see no more hardship in it than there is in paying the rent itself; and, by giving the landlord this check on the transfer of his lands, he compels a compromise that maintains what is just. The tenant is not obliged to sell, and he makes his conditions accordingly, when he has a good tenant to offer in his stead. When he offers a bad tenant, he ought to pay for it."

"Many persons with us would think it very aristocratic," I cried, laughingly, "that a landlord should have it in his power to say, I will not accept this or that substitute for yourself."

"It is just as aristocratic, and no more so, than it would be to put it in the power of the tenant to say to the landlord, you shall accept this or that tenant at my hands. The covenant of the quarter sale gives each party a control in the matter; and the result has ever been a compromise that is perfectly fair, as it is hardly possible that the circumstance should have been overlooked in making the bargain; and he who knows anything of such matters, knows that every exaction of this sort is always considered in the rent. As for feudality, so long as the power to alienate exists at all in the tenant, he does not hold by a feudal tenure. He has bought himself from all such tenures by[Pg 31] his covenant of quarter sale; and it only remains to say whether, having agreed to such a bargain in order to obtain this advantage, he should pay the stipulated price or not."

"I understand you, sir. It is easy to come at the equity of this matter, if one will only go back to the original facts which colour it. The tenant had no rights at all until he got his lease, and can have no rights which that lease does not confer."

"Then the cry is raised of feudal privileges, because some of the Rensselaer tenants are obliged to find so many days' work with their teams, or substitutes, to the landlord, and even because they have to pay annually a pair of fat fowls! We have seen enough of America, Hugh, to know that most husbandmen would be delighted to have the privilege of paying their debts in chickens and work, instead of in money, which renders the cry only so much the more wicked. But what is there more feudal in a tenant's thus paying his landlord, than in a butcher's contracting to furnish so much meat for a series of years, or a mail contractor's agreeing to carry the mail in a four-horse coach for a term of years, eh? No one objects to the rent in wheat, and why should they object to the rent in chickens? Is it because our republican farmers have got to be so aristocratic themselves, that they do not like to be thought poulterers? This is being aristocratic on the other side. These dignitaries should remember that if it be plebeian to furnish fowls, it is plebeian to receive them; and if the tenant has to find an individual who has to submit to the degradation of tendering a pair of fat fowls, the landlord has to find an individual who has to submit to the degradation of taking them, and of putting them away in the larder. It seems to me that one is an offset to the other."

"But, if I remember rightly, uncle Ro, these little matters were always commuted for in money."

"They always must lie at the option of the tenant, unless the covenants went to forfeiture, which I never heard that they did; for the failure to pay in kind at the time stipulated, would only involve a payment in money afterwards. The most surprising part of this whole transaction is, that men among us hold the doctrine that these leasehold estates are opposed to our institutions when, being guaran[Pg 32]tied by the institutions, they in truth form a part of them. Were it not for these very institutions, to which they are said to be opposed, and of which they virtually form a part, we should soon have a pretty kettle of fish between landlord and tenant."

"How do you make it out that they form a part of the institutions, sir?"

"Simply because the institutions have a solemn profession of protecting property. There is such a parade of this, that all our constitutions declare that property shall never be taken without due form of law; and to read one of them, you would think the property of the citizen is held quite as sacred as his person. Now, some of these very tenures existed when the State institutions were framed; and, not satisfied with this, we of New York, in common with our sister States, solemnly prohibited ourselves, in the constitution of the United States, from ever meddling with them! Nevertheless, men are found hardy enough to assert that a thing which in fact belongs to the institutions, is opposed to them."

"Perhaps they mean, sir, to their spirit, or to their tendency."

"Ah! there may be some sense in that, though much less than the declaimers fancy. The spirit of institutions is their legitimate object; and it would be hard to prove that a leasehold tenure, with any conditions of mere pecuniary indebtedness whatever, is opposed to any institutions that recognise the full rights of property. The obligation to pay rent no more creates political dependency, than to give credit from an ordinary shop; not so much, indeed, more especially under such leases as those of the Rensselaers; for the debtor on a book-debt can be sued at any moment, whereas the tenant knows precisely when he has to pay. There is the great absurdity of those who decry the system as feudal and aristocratic; for they do not see that those very leases are more favourable to the tenant than any other."

"I shall have to ask you to explain this to me, sir, being too ignorant to comprehend it."

"Why, these leases are perpetual, and the tenant cannot be dispossessed. The longer a lease is, other things being[Pg 33] equal, the better it is for the tenant, all the world over. Let us suppose two farms, the one leased for five years, and the other for ever: Which tenant is most independent of the political influence of his landlord, to say nothing of the impossibility of controlling votes in this way in America, from a variety of causes? Certainly he who has a lease for ever. He is just as independent of his landlord, as his landlord can be of him, with the exception that he has rent to pay. In the latter case, he is precisely like any other debtor—like the poor man who contracts debts with the same store-keeper for a series of years. As for the possession of the farm, which we are to suppose is a desirable thing for the tenant, he of the long lease is clearly most independent, since the other may be ejected at the end of each five years. Nor is there the least difference as to acquiring the property in fee, since the landlord may sell equally in either case, if so disposed; and if not disposed, no honest man, under any system, ought to do anything to compel him so to do, either directly or indirectly; and no truly honest man would."

I put some of the words of my uncle Ro in small capitals, as the spirit of the times, not of the institutions, renders such hints necessary. But, to continue our dialogue:

"I understand you now, sir, though the distinction you make between the spirit of the institutions and their tendencies is what I do not exactly comprehend."

"It is very easily explained. The spirit of the institutions is their intention; their tendencies is the natural direction they take under the impulses of human motives, which are always corrupt and corrupting. The 'spirit' refers to what things ought to be; the 'tendencies,' to what they are, or are becoming. The 'spirit' of all political institutions is to place a check on the natural propensities of men, to restrain them, and keep them within due bounds; while the tendencies follow those propensities, and are quite often in direct opposition to the spirit. That this outcry against leasehold tenures in America is following the tendencies of our institutions, I am afraid is only too true; but that it is in any manner in compliance with their spirit, I utterly deny."

"You will allow that institutions have their spirit, which[Pg 34] ought always to be respected, in order to preserve harmony?"

"Out of all question. The first great requisite of a political system is the means of protecting itself; the second, to check its tendencies at the point required by justice, wisdom and good faith. In a despotism, for instance, the spirit of the system is to maintain that one man, who is elevated above the necessities and temptations of a nation—who is solemnly set apart for the sole purpose of government, fortified by dignity, and rendered impartial by position—will rule in the manner most conducive to the true interests of his subjects. It is just as much the theory of Russia and Prussia that their monarchs reign not for their own good, but for the good of those over whom they are placed, as it is the theory in regard to the President of the United States. We all know that the tendencies of a despotism are to abuses of a particular character; and it is just as certain that the tendencies of a republic, or rather of a democratic republic—for republic of itself means but little, many republics having had kings—but it is just as certain that the tendencies of a democracy are to abuses of another character. Whatever man touches, he infallibly abuses; and this more in connection with the exercise of political power, perhaps, than in the management of any one interest of life, though he abuses all, even to religion. Less depends on the nominal character of institutions, perhaps, than on their ability to arrest their own tendencies at the point required by everything that is just and right. Hitherto, surprisingly few grave abuses have followed from our institutions; but this matter looks frightfully serious; for I have not told you half, Hugh."

"Indeed, sir! I beg you will believe me quite equal to hearing the worst."

"It is true, anti-rentism did commence on the estate of the Rensselaers, and with complaints of feudal tenures, and of days' works, and fat fowls, backed by the extravagantly aristocratic pretension that a 'manor' tenant was so much a privileged being, that it was beneath his dignity, as a free man, to do that which is daily done by mail-contractors, stage-coach owners, victuallers, and even by themselves in their passing bargains to deliver potatoes, onions, turkeys[Pg 35] and pork, although they had solemnly covenanted with their landlords to pay the fat fowls, and to give the days' works. The feudal system has been found to extend much further, and 'troubles,' as they are called, have broken out in other parts of the State. Resistance to process, and a cessation of the payment of rents, has occurred on the Livingston property, in Hardenberg—in short, in eight or ten counties of the State. Even among the bonâ fide purchasers, on the Holland Purchase, this resistance has been organized, and a species of troops raised, who appear disguised and armed wherever a levy is to be made. Several men have already been murdered, and there is the strong probability of a civil war."

"In the name of what is sacred and right, what has the government of the State been doing all this time?"

"In my poor judgment, a great deal that it ought not to have done, and very little that it ought. You know the state of politics at home, Hugh; how important New York is in all national questions, and how nearly tied is her vote—less than ten thousand majority in a canvass of near half a million of votes. When this is the case, the least-principled part of the voters attain an undue importance—a truth that has been abundantly illustrated in this question. The natural course would have been to raise an armed constabulary force, and to have kept it in motion, as the anti-renters have kept their 'Injins' in motion, which would have soon tired out the rebels, for rebels they are, who would thus have had to support one army in part, and the other altogether. Such a movement on the part of the State, well and energetically managed, would have drawn half the 'Injins' at once from the ranks of disaffection to those of authority; for all that most of these men want is to live easy, and to have a parade of military movements. Instead of that, the legislature substantially did nothing, until blood was spilt, and the grievance had got to be not only profoundly disgraceful for such a State and such a country, but utterly intolerable to the well-affected of the revolted counties, as well as to those who were kept out of the enjoyment of their property. Then, indeed, it passed the law which ought to have been passed the first year of the 'Injin' system—a law [Pg 36]which renders it felony to appear armed and disguised; but Dunning writes me this law is openly disregarded in Delaware and Schoharie, in particular, and that bodies of 'Injins,' in full costume and armed, of a thousand men, have appeared to prevent levies or sales. Where it will end, Heaven knows!"

"Do you apprehend any serious civil war?"

"It is impossible to say where false principles may lead, when they are permitted to make head and to become widely disseminated, in a country like ours. Still, the disturbances, as such, are utterly contemptible, and could and would be put down by an energetic executive in ten days after he had time to collect a force to do it with. In some particulars, the present incumbent has behaved perfectly well; while in others, in my judgment, he has inflicted injuries on the right that it will require years to repair, if, indeed, they are ever repaired."

"You surprise me, sir; and this the more especially, as I know you are generally of the same way of thinking, on political subjects, with the party that is now in power."

"Did you ever know me to support what I conceived to be wrong, Hugh, on account of my political affinities?" asked my uncle, a little reproachfully as to manner. "But, let me tell you the harm that I conceive has been done by all the governors who have had anything to do with the subject; and that includes one of a party to which I am opposed, and two that are not. In the first place, they have all treated the matter as if the tenants had really some cause of complaint; when in truth all their griefs arise from the fact that other men will not let them have their property just as they may want it, and in some respects on their own terms."

"That is certainly a grief not to be maintained by reason in a civilized country, and in a christian community."

"Umph! Christianity, like liberty, suffers fearfully in human hands; one is sometimes at a loss to recognise either. I have seen ministers of the gospel just as dogged, just as regardless of general morality, and just as indifferent to the right, in upholding their parties, as I ever saw laymen; and I have seen laymen manifesting tempers, in this respect, that properly belong to devils. But our governors have [Pg 37]certainly treated this matter as if the tenants actually had griefs; when in truth their sole oppression is in being obliged to pay rents that are merely nominal, and in not being able to buy other men's property contrary to their wishes, and very much at their own prices. One governor has even been so generous as to volunteer a mode of settling disputes with which, by the way, he has no concern, there being courts to discharge that office, that is singularly presuming on his part, to say the least, and which looks a confounded sight more like aristocracy, or monarchy, than anything connected with leasehold tenure."

"Why, what can the man have done?"

"He has kindly taken on himself the office of doing that for which I fancy he can find no authority in the institutions, or in their spirit—no less than advising citizens how they may conveniently manage their own affairs so as to get over difficulties that he himself substantially admits, while giving this very advice, are difficulties that the law sanctions!"

"This is a very extraordinary interference in a public functionary; because one of the parties to a contract that is solemnly guarantied by the law, chooses to complain of its nature, rather than of its conditions, to pretend to throw the weight of his even assumed authority into the scales on either side of the question!"

"And that in a popular government, Hugh, in which it tells so strongly against a man to render him unpopular, that not one man in a million has the moral courage to resist public opinion, even when he is right. You have hit the nail on the head, boy; it is in the last degree presuming, and what would be denounced as tyrannical in any monarch in Europe. But he has lived in vain who has not learned that they who make the loudest professions of a love of liberty, have little knowledge of the quality, beyond submission to the demands of numbers. Our executive has carried his fatherly care even beyond this; he has actually suggested the terms of a bargain by which he thinks the difficulty can be settled, which, in addition to the gross assumption of having a voice in a matter that in no manner belongs to him, has the palpable demerit of recommending a pecuniary compromise that is flagrantly wrong as a mere pecuniary [Pg 38]compromise."

"You astonish me, sir! What is the precise nature of his recommendation?"

"That the Rensselaers should receive such a sum from each tenant as would produce an interest equal to the value of the present rent. Now, in the first place, here is a citizen who has got as much property as he wants, and who wishes to live for other purposes than to accumulate. This property is not only invested to his entire satisfaction, as regards convenience, security and returns, but also in a way that is connected with some of the best sentiments of his nature. It is property that has descended to him through ancestors for two centuries; property that is historically connected with his name—on which he was born, on which he has lived, and on which he has hoped to die; property, in a word, that is associated with all the higher feelings of humanity. Because some interloper, perhaps, who has purchased an interest in one of his farms six months before, feels an aristocratic desire not to have a landlord, and wishes to own a farm in fee, that in fact he has no other right to than he gets through his lease, the governor of the great State of New York throws the weight of his official position against the old hereditary owner of the soil, by solemnly suggesting, in an official document that is intended to produce an effect on public opinion, that he should sell that which he does not wish to sell, but wishes to keep, and that at a price which I conceive is much below its true pecuniary value. We have liberty with a vengeance, if these are some of its antics!"

"What makes the matter worse, is the fact that each of the Rensselaers has a house on his estate, so placed as to be convenient to look after his interests; which interests he is to be at the trouble of changing, leaving him his house on his hands, because, forsooth, one of the parties to a plain and equitable bargain wishes to make better conditions than he covenanted for. I wonder what his Excellency proposes that the landlords shall do with their money when they get it? Buy new estates, and build new houses, of which to be dispossessed when a new set of tenants may choose to cry out against aristocracy, and demonstrate their own love for democracy by wishing to pull others down in order to shove [Pg 39]themselves into their places?"

"You are right again, Hugh; but it is a besetting vice of America to regard life as all means, and as having no end, in a worldly point of view. I dare say men may be found among us who regard it as highly presuming in any man to build himself an ample residence, and to announce by his mode of living that he is content with his present means, and does not wish to increase them, at the very moment they view the suggestions of the governor as the pink of modesty, and excessively favourable to equal rights! I like that thought of yours about the house, too; in order to suit the 'spirit' of the New York institutions, it would seem that a New York landlord should build on wheels, that he may move his abode to some new estate, when it suits the pleasure of his tenants to buy him out."

"Do you suppose the Rensselaers would take their money, the principal of the rent at seven per cent., and buy land with it, after their experience of the uncertainty of such possessions among us?"

"Not they," said my uncle Ro, laughing. "No, no! they would sell the Manor-House, and Beverwyck, for taverns; and then any one might live in them who would pay the principal sum of the cost of a dinner; bag their dollars, and proceed forthwith to Wall street, and commence the shaving of notes—that occupation having been decided, as I see by the late arrivals, to be highly honourable and praiseworthy. Hitherto they have been nothing but drones; but, by the time they can go to the quick with their dollars, they will become useful members of society, and be honoured and esteemed accordingly."

What next might have been said I do not know, for just then we were interrupted by a visit from our common banker, and the discourse was necessarily changed.

[Pg 40]


"O, when shall I visit the land of my birth,
The loveliest land on the face of the earth?
When shall I those scenes of affection explore,
Our forests, our fountains,
Our hamlets, our mountains,
With the pride of our mountains, the maid I adore?"


It was truly news for an American, who had been so long cut off from intelligence from home, thus suddenly to be told that some of the scenes of the middle ages—scenes connected with real wrongs and gross abuses of human rights—were about to be enacted in his own land; that country which boasted itself, not only to be the asylum of the oppressed, but the conservator of the right. I was grieved at what I had heard, for, during my travels, I had cherished a much-loved image of justice and political excellence, that I now began to fear must be abandoned. My uncle and myself decided at once to return home, a step that indeed was required by prudence. I was now of an age to enter into the full possession of my own property (so far as "new laws and new lords" would permit); and the letters received by my late guardian, as well as certain newspapers, communicated the unpleasant fact that a great many of the tenants of Ravensnest had joined the association, paid tribute for the support of "Injins," and were getting to be as bad as any of the rest of them, so far as designs and schemes to plunder were concerned, though they still paid their rents. The latter circumstance was ascribed by our agent to the fact that many leases were about to fall in, and it would be in my power to substitute more honest and better disposed successors for the present occupants of the several farms. Measures were taken accordingly for quitting Paris as soon as possible, so that we might reach home late in the month of May.

"If we had time, I would certainly throw in a memorial [Pg 41]or two to the legislature," observed my uncle, a day or two before we proceeded to Havre to join the packet. "I have a strong desire to protest against the invasion of my rights as a freeman that is connected with some of their contemplated laws. I do not at all like the idea of being abridged of the power of hiring a farm for the longest time I can obtain it, which is one of the projects of some of the ultra reformers of free and equal New York. It is wonderful, Hugh, into what follies men precipitate themselves as soon as they begin to run into exaggerations, whether of politics, religion, or tastes. Here are half of the exquisite philanthropists who see a great evil affecting the rights of human nature in one man's hiring a farm from another for as long a term as he can obtain it, who are at the very extreme in their opinions on free trade! So free-trade are some of the journals which think it a capital thing to prevent landlords and tenants from making their own bargains, that they have actually derided the idea of having established fares for hackney-coaches, but that it would be better to let the parties stand in the rain and higgle about the price, on the free-trade principle. Some of these men are either active agents in stimulating the legislature to rob the citizen of this very simple control of his property, or passive lookers-on while others do it."

"Votes, sir, votes."

"It is, indeed, votes, sir, votes; nothing short of votes could reconcile these men to their own inconsistencies. As for yourself, Hugh, it might be well to get rid of that canopied pew——"

"Of what canopied pew? I am sure I do not understand you."

"Do you forget that the family-pew in St. Andrew's Church, at Ravensnest, has a wooden canopy over it—a relic of our colonial opinions and usages?"

"Now you mention it, I do remember a very clumsy, and, to own the truth, a very ugly thing, that I have always supposed was placed there, by those who built the church, by way of ornament."

"That ugly thing, by way of ornament, was intended for a sort of canopy, and was by no means an uncommon distinction in the State and colony, as recently as the close of [Pg 42]the last century. The church was built at the expense of my grandfather, Gen. Littlepage, and his bosom friend and kinsman, Col. Dirck Follock, both good Whigs and gallant defenders of the liberty of their country. They thought it proper that the Littlepages should have a canopied pew, and that is the state in which they caused the building to be presented to my father. The old work still stands; and Dunning writes me that, among the other arguments used against your interests, is the fact that your pew is thus distinguished from those of the rest of the congregation."

"It is a distinction no man would envy me, could it be known that I have ever thought the clumsy, ill-shaped thing a nuisance, and detestable as an ornament. I have never even associated it in my mind with personal distinction, but have always supposed it was erected with a view to embellish the building, and placed over our pew as the spot where such an excrescence would excite the least envy."

"In all that, with one exception, you have judged quite naturally. Forty years ago, such a thing might have been done, and a majority of the parishioners would have seen in it nothing out of place. But that day has gone by; and you will discover that, on your own estate, and in the very things created by your family and yourself, you will actually have fewer rights of any sort, beyond those your money will purchase, than any man around you. The simple fact that St. Andrew's Church was built by your great-grandfather, and by him presented to the congregation, will diminish your claim to have a voice in its affairs with many of the congregation."

"This is so extraordinary, that I musk ask the reason."

"The reason is connected with a principle so obviously belonging to human nature generally, and to American nature in particular, that I wonder you ask it. It is envy. Did that pew belong to the Newcomes, for instance, no one would think anything of it."

"Nevertheless, the Newcomes would make themselves ridiculous by sitting in a pew that was distinguished from those of their neighbours. The absurdity of the contrast would strike every one."

"And it is precisely because the absurdity does not exist in your case, that your seat is envied. No one envies absurdity. [Pg 43]However, you will readily admit, Hugh, that a church, and a church-yard, are the two last places in which human distinctions ought to be exhibited. All are equal in the eyes of Him we go to the one to worship, and all are equal in the grave. I have ever been averse to everything like worldly distinction in a congregation, and admire the usage of the Romish Church in even dispensing with pews altogether. Monuments speak to the world, and have a general connexion with history, so that they may be tolerated to a certain point, though notorious liars."

"I agree with you, sir, as to the unfitness of a church for all distinctions, and shall be happy on every account to get rid of my canopy, though that has an historical connexion, also. I am quite innocent of any feeling of pride while sitting under it, though I will confess to some of shame at its quizzical shape, when I see it has attracted the eyes of intelligent strangers."

"It is but natural that you should feel thus; for, while we may miss distinctions and luxuries to which we have ever been accustomed, they rarely excite pride in the possessor, even while they awaken envy in the looker-on."

"Nevertheless, I cannot see what the old pew has to do with the rents, or my legal rights."

"When a cause is bad, everything is pressed into it that it is believed may serve a turn. No man who had a good legal claim for property, would ever think of urging any other; nor would any legislator who had sound and sufficient reasons for his measures—reasons that could properly justify him before God and man for his laws—have recourse to slang to sustain him. If these anti-renters were right, they would have no need of secret combinations, of disguises, blood-and-thunder names, and special agents in the legislature of the land. The right requires no false aid to make it appear the right; but the wrong must get such support as it can press into its service. Your pew is called aristocratic, though it confers no political power; it is called a patent of nobility, though it neither gives nor takes away; and it is hated, and you with it, for the very reason that you can sit in it and not make yourself ridiculous. I suppose you have not examined very closely the papers I gave you to read?"

[Pg 44]

"Enough so to ascertain that they are filled with trash."

"Worse than trash, Hugh; with some of the loosest principles, and most atrocious feelings, that degrade poor human nature. Some of the reformers propose that no man shall hold more than a thousand acres of land, while others lay down the very intelligible and distinct principle that no man ought to hold more than he can use. Even petitions to that effect, I have been told, have been sent to the legislature."

"Which has taken care not to allude to their purport, either in debate or otherwise, as I see nothing to that effect in the reports."

"Ay, I dare say the slang-whangers of those honourable bodies will studiously keep all such enormities out of sight, as some of them doubtless hope to step into the shoes of the present landlords, as soon as they can get the feet out of them which are now in. But these are the projects and the petitions in the columns of the journals, and they speak for themselves. Among other things, they say it is nobility to be a landlord."

"I see by the letter of Mr. Dunning, that they have petitioned the legislature to order an inquiry into my title. Now, we hold from the crown——"

"So much the worse, Hugh. Faugh! hold from a crown in a republican country! I am amazed you are not ashamed to own it. Do you not know, boy, that it has been gravely contended in a court of justice that, in obtaining our national independence from the King of Great Britain, the people conquered all his previous grants, which ought to be declared void and of none effect?"

"That is an absurdity of which I had not heard," I answered, laughing; "why, the people of New York, who held all their lands under the crown, would in that case have been conquering them for other persons! My good grandfather and great-grandfather, both of whom actually fought and bled in the revolution, must have been very silly thus to expose themselves to take away their own estates, in order to give them to a set of immigrants from New England and other parts of the world!"

"Quite justly said, Hugh," added my uncle, joining in the laugh. "Nor is this half of the argument. The State, [Pg 45]too, in its corporate character, has been playing swindler all this time. You may not know the fact, but I as your guardian do know, that the quit-rents reserved by the crown when it granted the lands of Mooseridge and Ravensnest, were claimed by the State; and that, wanting money to save the people from taxes, it commuted with us, receiving a certain gross sum in satisfaction of all future claims."

"Ay, that I did not know. Can the fact be shown?"

"Certainly—it is well known to all old fellows like myself, for it was a very general measure, and very generally entered into by all the landholders. In our case, the receipts are still to be found among the family-papers. In the cases of the older estates, such as those of the Van Rensselaers, the equity is still stronger in their favour, since the conditions to hold the land included an obligation to bring so many settlers from Europe within a given time; conditions that were fulfilled at great cost, as you may suppose, and on which, in truth, the colony had its foundation."

"How much it tells against a people's honesty to wish to forget such facts, in a case like this!"

"There is nothing forgotten, for the facts were probably never known to those who prate about the conquered rights from the crown. As you say, however, the civilization of a community is to be measured by its consciousness of the existence of all principles of justice, and a familiarity with its own history. The great bulk of the population of New York have no active desire to invade what is right in this anti-rent struggle, having no direct interests at stake; their crime is a passive inactivity, which allows those who are either working for political advancement, or those who are working to obtain other men's property, to make use of them, through their own laws."

"But is it not an embarrassment to such a region as that directly around Albany, to have such tenures to the land, and for so large a body of people to be compelled to pay rent, in the very heart of the State, as it might be, and in situations that render it desirable to leave enterprise as unshackled as possible?"

"I am not prepared to admit this much, even, as a general principle. One argument used by these anti-renters is, [Pg 46]for instance, that the patroons, in their leases, reserved the mill-seats. Now, what if they did? Some one must own the mill-seats; and why not the Patroon as well as another? To give the argument any weight, not as law, not as morals, but as mere expediency, it must be shown that the patroons would not let these mill-seats at as low rents as any one else; and my opinion is that they would let them at rents of not half the amount that would be asked, were they the property of so many individuals, scattered up and down the country. But, admitting that so large an estate of this particular sort has some inconveniences in that particular spot, can there be two opinions among men of integrity about the mode of getting rid of it? Everything has its price, and, in a business sense, everything is entitled to its price. No people acknowledge this more than the Americans, or practise on it so extensively. Let the Rensselaers be tempted by such offers as will induce them to sell, but do not let them be invaded by that most infernal of all acts of oppression, special legislation, in order to bully or frighten them from the enjoyment of what is rightfully their own. If the State think such a description of property injurious in its heart, let the State imitate England in her conduct towards the slave-holders—buy them out; not tax them out, and wrong them out, and annoy them out. But, Hugh, enough of this at present; we shall have much more than we want of it when we get home. Among my letters, I have one from each of my other wards."

"'Still harping on my daughter,' sir!" I answered, laughing. "I hope that the vivacious Miss Henrietta Coldbrooke, and the meek Miss Anne Marston, are both perfectly well?"

"Both in excellent health, and both write charmingly. I must really let you see the letter of Henrietta, as I do think it is quite creditable to her: I will step into my room and get it."

I ought to let the reader into a secret here that will have some connexion with what is to follow. A dead-set had been made at me, previously to leaving home, to induce me to marry either of three young ladies—Miss Henrietta Coldbrooke, Miss Anne Marston, and Miss Opportunity Newcome. The advances in the cases of Miss Henrietta Coldbrooke and Miss Anne Marston came from my uncle Ro, [Pg 47]who, as their guardian, had a natural interest in their making what he was pleased to think might be a good connexion for either; while the advances on account of Miss Opportunity Newcome came from herself. Under such circumstances, it may be well to say who these young ladies actually were.

Miss Henrietta Coldbrooke was the daughter of an Englishman of good family, and some estate, who had emigrated to America and married, under the impulse of certain theories in politics which induced him to imagine that this was the promised land. I remember him as a disappointed and dissatisfied widower, who was thought to be daily growing poorer under the consequences of indiscreet investments, and who at last got to be so very English in his wishes and longings, as to assert that the common Muscovy was a better bird than the canvas-back! He died, however, in time to leave his only child an estate which, under my uncle's excellent management, was known by me to be rather more than one hundred and seventy-nine thousand dollars, and which produced a nett eight thousand a-year. This made Miss Henrietta a belle at once; but, having a prudent friend in my grandmother, as yet she had not married a beggar. I knew that uncle Ro went quite as far as was proper, in his letters, in the way of hints touching myself; and my dear, excellent, honest-hearted, straightforward old grandmother had once let fall an expression, in one of her letters to myself, which induced me to think that these hints had actually awakened as much interest in the young lady's bosom, as could well be connected with what was necessarily nothing but curiosity.

Miss Anne Marston was also an heiress, but on a very diminished scale. She had rather more than three thousand a-year in buildings in town, and a pretty little sum of about sixteen thousand dollars laid by out of its savings. She was not an only child, however, having two brothers, each of whom had already received as much as the sister, and each of whom, as is very apt to be the case with the heirs of New York merchants, was already in a fair way of getting rid of his portion in riotous living. Nothing does a young American so much good, under such circumstances, as to induce him to travel. It makes or breaks at once. If a [Pg 48]downright fool, he is plucked by European adventurers in so short a time, that the agony is soon over. If only vain and frivolous, because young and ill-educated, the latter being a New York endemic, but with some foundation of native mind, he lets his whiskers grow, becomes fuzzy about the chin, dresses better, gets to be much better mannered, soon loses his taste for the low and vulgar indulgences of his youth, and comes out such a gentleman as one can only make who has entirely thrown away the precious moments of youth. If tolerably educated in boyhood, with capacity to build on, the chances are that the scales will fall from his eyes very fast on landing in the old world—that his ideas and tastes will take a new turn—that he will become what nature intended him for, an intellectual man; and that he will finally return home, conscious alike of the evils and blessings, the advantages and disadvantages, of his own system and country—a wiser, and it is to be hoped a better man. How the experiment had succeeded with the Marstons, neither myself nor my uncle knew; for they had paid their visit while we were in the East, and had already returned to America. As for Miss Anne, she had a mother to take care of her mind and person, though I had learned she was pretty, sensible and discreet.

Miss Opportunity Newcome was a belle of Ravensnest, a village on my own property; a rural beauty, and of rural education, virtues, manners and habits. As Ravensnest was not particularly advanced in civilization, or, to make use of the common language of the country, was not a very "aristocratic place," I shall not dwell on her accomplishments, which did well enough for Ravensnest, but would not essentially ornament my manuscript.

Opportunity was the daughter of Ovid, who was the son of Jason, of the house of Newcome. In using the term "house," I adopt it understandingly; for the family had dwelt in the same tenement, a leasehold property of which the fee was in myself, and the dwelling had been associated with the name of Newcome from time immemorial; that is, for about eighty years. All that time had a Newcome been the tenant of the mill, tavern, store and farm, that lay nearest the village of Ravensnest, or Little Nest, as it was commonly called; and it may not be impertinent to the moral [Pg 49]of my narrative if I add that, for all that time, and for something longer, had I and my ancestors been the landlords. I beg the reader to bear this last fact in mind, as there will soon be occasion to show that there was a strong disposition in certain persons to forget it.

As I have said, Opportunity was the daughter of Ovid. There was also a brother, who was named Seneca, or Seneky, as he always pronounced it himself, the son of Ovid, the son of Jason, the first of the name at Ravensnest. This Seneca was a lawyer, in the sense of a license granted by the Justices of the Supreme Court, as well as by the Court of Common Pleas, in and for the county of Washington. As there had been a sort of hereditary education among the Newcomes for three generations, beginning with Jason, and ending with Seneca; and, as the latter was at the bar, I had occasionally been thrown into the society of both brother and sister. The latter, indeed, used to be fond of visiting the Nest, as my house was familiarly called, Ravensnest being its true name, whence those of the "patent" and village; and as Opportunity had early manifested a partiality for my dear old grandmother, and not less dear young sister, who occasionally passed a few weeks with me during the vacations, more especially in the autumns, I had many occasions of being brought within the influence of her charms—opportunities that, I feel bound to state, Opportunity did not neglect. I have understood that her mother, who bore the same name, had taught Ovid the art of love by a very similar demonstration, and had triumphed. That lady was still living, and may be termed Opportunity the Great, while the daughter can be styled Opportunity the Less. There was very little difference between my own years and those of the young lady; and, as I had last passed through the fiery ordeal at the sinister age of twenty, there was not much danger in encountering the risk anew, now I was five years older. But I must return to my uncle and the letter of Miss Henrietta Coldbrooke.

"Here it is, Hugh," cried my guardian, gaily; "and a capital letter it is! I wish I could read the whole of it to you; but the two girls made me promise never to show their letters to any one, which could mean only you, before they would promise to write anything to me beyond commonplaces. [Pg 50]Now, I get their sentiments freely and naturally, and the correspondence is a source of much pleasure to me. I think, however, I might venture just to give you one extract."

"You had better not, sir; there would be a sort of treachery in it, that I confess I would rather not be accessary to. If Miss Coldbrooke do not wish me to read what she writes, she can hardly wish that you should read any of it to me."

Uncle Ro glanced at me, and I fancied he seemed dissatisfied with my nonchalance. He read the letter through to himself, however, laughing here, smiling there, then muttering "capital!" "good!" "charming girl!" "worthy of Hannah More!" &c. &c., as if just to provoke my curiosity. But I had no desire to read "Hannah More," as any young fellow of five-and-twenty can very well imagine, and I stood it all with the indifference of a stoic. My guardian had to knock under, and put the letters in his writing-desk.

"Well, the girls will be glad to see us," he said, after a moment of reflection, "and not a little surprised. In my very last letter to my mother, I sent them word that we should not be home until October; and now we shall see them as early as June, at least."

"Patt will be delighted, I make no doubt. As for the other two young ladies, they have so many friends and relations to care for, that I fancy our movements give them no great concern."

"Then you do both injustice, as their letters would prove. They take the liveliest interest in our proceedings, and speak of my return as if they look for it with the greatest expectation and joy."

I made my uncle Ro a somewhat saucy answer; but fair-dealing compels me to record it.

"I dare say they do, sir," was my reply; "but what young lady does not look with 'expectation and joy' for the return of a friend, who is known to have a long purse, from Paris!"

"Well, Hugh, you deserve neither of those dear girls; and, if I can help it, you shall have neither."

"Thank'ee, sir!"

"Poh! this is worse than silly—it is rude. I dare say [Pg 51]neither would accept you, were you to offer to-morrow."

"I trust not, sir, for her own sake. It would be a singularly palpable demonstration were either to accept a man she barely knew, and whom she had not seen since she was fifteen."

Uncle Ro laughed, but I could see he was confoundedly vexed; and, as I loved him with all my heart, though I did not love match-making, I turned the discourse, in a pleasant way, on our approaching departure.

"I'll tell you what I'll do, Hugh," cried my uncle, who was a good deal of a boy in some things, for the reason, I suppose, that he was an old bachelor; "I'll just have wrong names entered on board the packet, and we'll surprise all our friends. Neither Jacob nor your man will betray us, we know; and, for that matter, we can send them both home by the way of England. Each of us has trunks in London to be looked after, and let the two fellows go by the way of Liverpool. That is a good thought, and occurred most happily."

"With all my heart, sir. My fellow is of no more use to me at sea than an automaton would be, and I shall be glad to get rid of his rueful countenance. He is a capital servant on terrâ firma, but a perfect Niobe on the briny main."

The thing was agreed on; and, a day or two afterwards, both our body-servants, that is to say, Jacob the black and Hubert the German, were on their way to England. My uncle let his apartment again, for he always maintained I should wish to bring my bride to pass a winter in it; and we proceeded to Havre in a sort of incognito. There was little danger of our being known on board the packet, and we had previously ascertained that there was not an acquaintance of either in the ship. There was a strong family resemblance between my uncle and myself, and we passed for father and son in the ship, as old Mr. Davidson and young Mr. Davidson, of Maryland—or Myr-r-land, as it is Doric to call that state. We had no concern in this part of the deception, unless abstaining from calling my supposed father "uncle," as one would naturally do in strange society, can be so considered.

The passage itself—by the way, I wish all landsmen would be as accurate as I am here, and understand that a [Pg 52]"voyage" means "out" and "home," or "thence" and "back again," while a "passage" means from place to place—but our passage was pregnant with no events worth recording. We had the usual amount of good and bad weather, the usual amount of eating and drinking, and the usual amount of ennui. The latter circumstance, perhaps, contributed to the digesting of a further scheme of my uncle's, which it is now necessary to state.

A re-perusal of his letters and papers had induced him to think the anti-rent movement a thing of more gravity, even than he had first supposed. The combination on the part of the tenants, we learned also from an intelligent New Yorker who was a fellow-passenger, extended much further than our accounts had given us reason to believe; and it was deemed decidedly dangerous for landlords, in many cases, to be seen on their own estates. Insult, personal degradation, or injury, and even death, it was thought, might be the consequences, in many cases. The blood actually spilled had had the effect to check the more violent demonstrations, it is true; but the latent determination to achieve their purposes was easily to be traced among the tenants, in the face of all their tardy professions of moderation, and a desire for nothing but what was right. In this case, what was right was the letter and spirit of the contracts; and nothing was plainer than the fact that these were not what was wanted.

Professions pass for nothing, with the experienced, when connected with a practice that flatly contradicts them. It was only too apparent to all who chose to look into the matter, and that by evidence which could not mislead, that the great body of the tenants in various counties of New York were bent on obtaining interests in their farms that were not conveyed by their leases, without the consent of their landlords, and insomuch that they were bent on doing that which should be discountenanced by every honest man in the community. The very fact that they supported, or in any manner connived at, the so-called "Injin" system, spoke all that was necessary as to their motives; and, when we come to consider that these "Injins" had already proceeded to the extremity of shedding blood, it was sufficiently plain that things must soon reach a crisis.

[Pg 53]

My uncle Roger and myself reflected on all these matters calmly, and decided on our course, I trust, with prudence. As that decision has proved to be pregnant with consequences that are likely to affect my future life, I shall now briefly give an outline of what induced us to adopt it.

It was all-important for us to visit Ravensnest in person, while it might be hazardous to do so openly. The 'Nest house stood in the very centre of the estate, and, ignorant as we were of the temper of the tenants, it might be indiscreet to let our presence be known; and circumstances favoured our projects of concealment. We were not expected to reach the country at all until autumn, or "fall," as that season of the year is poetically called in America; and this gave us the means of reaching the property unexpectedly, and, as we hoped, undetected. Our arrangement, then, was very simple, and will be best related in the course of the narrative.

The packet had a reasonably short passage, as we were twenty-nine days from land to land. It was on a pleasant afternoon in May when the hummock-like heights of Navesink were first seen from the deck; and, an hour later, we came in sight of the tower-resembling sails of the coasters which were congregating in the neighbourhood of the low point of land that is so very appropriately called Sandy Hook. The light-houses rose out of the water soon after, and objects on the shore of New Jersey next came gradually out of the misty back-ground, until we got near enough to be boarded, first by the pilot, and next by the news-boat; the first preceding the last for a wonder, news usually being far more active, in this good republic, than watchfulness to prevent evil. My uncle Ro gave the crew of this news-boat a thorough scrutiny, and, finding no one on board her whom he had ever before seen, he bargained for a passage up to town.

We put our feet on the Battery just as the clocks of New York were striking eight. A custom-house officer had examined our carpet-bags and permitted them to pass, and we had disburthened ourselves of the effects in the ship, by desiring the captain to attend to them. Each of us had a town-house, but neither would go near his dwelling; mine being only kept up in winter, for the use of my sister and an aunt who kindly took charge of her during the season, while my uncle's was opened principally for his mother. At that season, we had reason to think[Pg 54] neither was tenanted but by one or two old family servants; and it was our cue also to avoid them. But "Jack Dunning," as my uncle always called him, was rather more of a friend than of an agent; and he had a bachelor establishment in Chamber Street that was precisely the place we wanted. Thither, then, we proceeded, taking the route by Greenwich Street, fearful of meeting some one in Broadway by whom we might be recognised.


Cit. "Speak, speak."
1 Cit. "You are all resolved rather to die than to famish?"
Cit. "Resolved, resolved."
1 Cit. "First you know, Caius Marcus is chief enemy to the people."
Cit. "We know't, we know't."
1 Cit. "Let's kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price.
Is't a verdict?"


The most inveterate Manhattanese, if he be anything of a man of the world, must confess that New York is, after all, but a Rag-Fair sort of a place, so far as the eye is concerned. I was particularly struck with this fact, even at that hour, as we went stumbling along over an atrociously bad side-walk, my eyes never at rest, as any one can imagine, after five years of absence. I could not help noting the incongruities; the dwellings of marble, in close proximity with miserable, low constructions in wood; the wretched pavements, and, above all, the country air, of a town of near four hundred thousand souls. I very well know that many of the defects are to be ascribed to the rapid growth of the place, which gives it a sort of hobbledehoy look; but, being a Manhattanese by birth, I thought I might just as well own it all, at once, if it were only for [Pg 55]the information of a particular portion of my townsmen, who may have been under a certain delusion on the subject. As for comparing the Bay of New York with that of Naples on the score of beauty, I shall no more be guilty of any such folly, to gratify the cockney feelings of Broadway and Bond street, than I should be guilty of the folly of comparing the commerce of the ancient Parthenope with that of old New York, in order to excite complacency in the bosom of some bottegajo in the Toledo, or on the Chiaja. Our fast-growing Manhattan is a great town in its way—a wonderful place—without a parallel, I do believe, on earth, as a proof of enterprise and of the accumulation of business; and it is not easy to make such a town appear ridiculous by any jibes and innuendoes that relate to the positive things of this world, though nothing is easier than to do it for itself by setting up to belong to the sisterhood of such places as London, Paris, Vienna and St. Petersburg. There is too much of the American notion of the omnipotence of numbers among us Manhattanese, which induces us to think that the higher rank in the scale of places is to be obtained by majorities. No, no; let us remember the familiar axiom of "ne sutor ultra crepidum." New York is just the queen of "business," but not yet the queen of the world. Every man who travels ought to bring back something to the common stock of knowledge; and I shall give a hint to my townsmen, by which I really think they may be able to tell for themselves, as by feeling a sort of moral pulse, when the town is rising to the level of a capital. When simplicity takes the place of pretension, is one good rule; but, as it may require a good deal of practice, or native taste, to ascertain this fact, I will give another that is obvious to the senses, which will at least be strongly symptomatic; and that is this: When squares cease to be called parks; when horse-bazaars and fashionable streets are not called Tattersalls and Bond street; when Washington Market is rechristened Bear Market, and Franklin and Fulton and other great philosophers and inventors are plucked of the unmerited honours of having shambles named after them; when commercial is not used as a prefix to emporium; when people can return from abroad without being asked "if they are reconciled to their country," and strangers are not interrogated at the second question, "how do you like our[Pg 56] city?" then may it be believed that the town is beginning to go alone, and that it may set up for itself.

Although New York is, out of all question, decidedly provincial, labouring under the peculiar vices of provincial habits and provincial modes of thinking, it contains many a man of the world, and some, too, who have never quitted their own firesides. Of this very number was the Jack Dunning, as my uncle Ro called him, to whose house in Chamber street we were now proceeding.

"If we were going anywhere but to Dunning's," said my uncle, as we turned out of Greenwich street, "I should have no fear of being recognised by the servants; for no one here thinks of keeping a man six months. Dunning, however, is of the old school, and does not like new faces; so he will have no Irishman at his door, as is the case with two out of three of the houses at which one calls, now-a-days."

In another minute we were at the bottom of Mr. Dunning's "stoup"—what an infernal contrivance it is to get in and out at the door by, in a hotty-cold climate like ours!—but, there we were, and I observed that my uncle hesitated.

"Parlez au Suisse," said I; "ten to one he is fresh from some Bally-this, or Bally-that."

"No, no; it must be old Garry the nigger"—my uncle Ro was of the old school himself, and would say "nigger"—"Jack can never have parted with Garry."

"Garry" was the diminutive of Garret, a somewhat common Dutch christian name among us.

We rang, and the door opened—in about five minutes. Although the terms "aristocrat" and "aristocracy" are much in men's mouths in America just now, as well as those of "feudal" and the "middle ages," and this, too, as applied to modes of living as well as to leasehold tenures, there is but one porter in the whole country; and he belongs to the White House, at Washington. I am afraid even that personage, royal porter as he is, is often out of the way; and the reception he gives when he is there, is not of the most brilliant and princely character. When we had waited three minutes, my uncle Ro said—

"I am afraid Garry is taking a nap by the kitchen-fire; [Pg 57]I'll try him again."

Uncle Ro did try again, and, two minutes later, the door opened.

"What is your pleasure?" demanded the Suisse, with a strong brogue.

My uncle started back as if he had met a sprite; but he asked if Mr. Dunning was at home.

"He is, indeed, sir."

"Is he alone, or is he with company?"

"He is, indeed."

"But what is he, indeed?"

"He is that."

"Can you take the trouble to explain which that it is? Has he company, or is he alone?"

"Just that, sir. Walk in, and he'll be charmed to see you. A fine gentleman is his honour, and pleasure it is to live with him, I'm sure!"

"How long is it since you left Ireland, my friend?"

"Isn't it a mighty bit, now, yer honour!" answered Barney, closing the door. "T'irteen weeks, if it's one day."

"Well, go ahead, and show us the way. This is a bad omen, Hugh, to find that Jack Dunning, of all men in the country, should have changed his servant—good, quiet, lazy, respectable, old, grey-headed Garry the nigger—for such a bogtrotter as that fellow, who climbs those stairs as if accustomed only to ladders."

Dunning was in his library on the second floor, where he passed most of his evenings. His surprise was equal to that which my uncle had just experienced, when he saw us two standing before him. A significant gesture, however, caused him to grasp his friend and client's hand in silence; and nothing was said until the Swiss had left the room, although the fellow stood with the door in his hand a most inconvenient time, just to listen to what might pass between the host and his guests. At length we got rid of him, honest, well-meaning fellow that he was, after all; and the door was closed.

"My last letters have brought you home, Roger?" said Jack, the moment he could speak; for feeling, as well as caution, had something to do with his silence.

"They have, indeed. A great change must have come [Pg 58]over the country, by what I hear; and one of the very worst symptoms is that you have turned away Garry, and got an Irishman in his place."

"Ah! old men must die, as well as old principles, I find. My poor fellow went off in a fit last week, and I took that Irishman as a pis aller. After losing poor Garry, who was born a slave in my father's house, I became indifferent, and accepted the first comer from the intelligence office."

"We must be careful, Dunning, not to give up too soon. But hear my story, and then to other matters."

My uncle then explained his wish to be incognito, and his motive. Dunning listened attentively, but seemed uncertain whether to dissent or approve. The matter was discussed briefly, and then it was postponed for further consideration.

"But how comes on this great moral dereliction, called anti-rentism? Is it on the wane, or the increase?"

"On the wane, to the eye, perhaps; but on the increase so far as principles, the right, and facts, are concerned. The necessity of propitiating votes is tempting politicians of all sides to lend themselves to it; and there is imminent danger now that atrocious wrongs will be committed under the form of law."

"In what way can the law touch an existing contract? The Supreme Court of the United States will set that right."

"That is the only hope of the honest, let me tell you. It is folly to expect that a body composed of such men as usually are sent to the State Legislature, can resist the temptation to gain power by conciliating numbers. That is out of the question. Individuals of these bodies may resist, but the tendency there will be as against the few, and in favour of the many, bolstering their theories by clap-traps and slang political phrases. The scheme to tax the rents, under the name of quit-rents, will be resorted to, in the first place."

"That will be a most iniquitous proceeding, and would justify resistance just as much as our ancestors were justified in resisting the taxation of Great Britain."

"It would more so, for here we have a written covenant to render taxation equal. The landlord already pays one tax on each of these farms—a full and complete tax, that is reserved from the rent in the original bargain with the [Pg 59]tenant; and now the wish is to tax the rents themselves; and this not to raise revenue, for that is confessedly not wanted, but most clearly with a design to increase the inducements for the landlords to part with their property. If that can be done, the sales will be made on the principle that none but the tenant must be, as indeed no one else can be, the purchaser; and then we shall see a queer exhibition—men parting with their property under the pressure of a clamour that is backed by as much law as can be pressed into its service, with a monopoly of price on the side of the purchaser, and all in a country professing the most sensitive love of liberty, where the prevailing class of politicians are free-trade men!"

"There is no end of these inconsistencies among politicians."

"There is no end of knavery when men submit to 'noses,' instead of principles. Call things by their right names, Ro, as they deserve to be. This matter is so plain, that he who runs can read."

"But will this scheme of taxation succeed? It does not effect us, for instance, as our leases are for three lives."

"Oh! that is nothing; for you they contemplate a law that will forbid the letting of land, for the future, for a period longer than five years. Hugh's leases will soon be falling in, and then he can't make a slave of any man for a longer period than five years."

"Surely no one is so silly as to think of passing such a law, with a view to put down aristocracy, and to benefit the tenant!" I cried, laughing.

"Ay, you may laugh, young sir," resumed Jack Dunning; "but such is the intention. I know very well what will be your course of reasoning; you will say, the longer the lease, the better for the tenant, if the bargain be reasonably good; and landlords cannot ask more for the use of their lands than they are really worth in this country, there happening to be more lands than there are men to work it. No, no; landlords rather get less for their lands than they are worth, instead of more, for that plain reason. To compel the tenant to take a lease, therefore, for a term as short as five years, is to injure him, you think; to place him more at the control of his landlord, through the little interests [Pg 60]connected with the cost and trouble of moving, and through the natural desire he may possess to cut the meadows he has seeded, and to get the full benefit of manure he has made and carted. I see how you reason, young sir; but you are behind the age—you are sadly behind the age."

"The age is a queer one, if I am! All over the world it is believed that long leases are favours, or advantages, to tenants; and nothing can make it otherwise, cæteris paribus. Then what good will the tax do, after violating right and moral justice, if not positive law, to lay it? On a hundred dollars of rent, I should have to pay some fifty-five cents of taxes, as I am assessed on other things at Ravensnest; and does anybody suppose I will give up an estate that has passed through five generations of my family, on account of a tribute like that!"

"Mighty well, sir—mighty well, sir! This is fine talk; but I would advise you not to speak of your ancestors at all. Landlords can't name their ancestors with impunity just now."

"I name mine only as showing a reason for a natural regard for my paternal acres."

"That you might do, if you were a tenant; but not as a landlord. In a landlord, it is aristocratic and intolerable pride, and to the last degree offensive—as Dogberry says, 'tolerable and not to be endured.'"

"But it is a fact, and it is natural one should have some feelings connected with it."

"The more it is a fact, the less it will be liked. People associate social position with wealth and estates, but not with farms; and the longer one has such things in a family, the worse for them!"

"I do believe, Jack," put in my uncle Ro, "that the rule which prevails all over the rest of the world is reversed here, and that with us it is thought a family's claim is lessened, and not increased, by time."

"To be sure it is!" answered Dunning, without giving me a chance to speak. "Do you know that you wrote me a very silly letter once, from Switzerland, about a family called de Blonay, that had been seated on the same rock, in a little castle, some six or eight hundred years, and the sort of respect and veneration the circumstance awakened? [Pg 61]Well, all that was very foolish, as you will find when you pay your incognito visit to Ravensnest. I will not anticipate the result of your schooling; but, go to school."

"As the Rensselaers and other great landlords, who have states on durable leases, will not be very likely to give them up, except on terms that will suit themselves, for a tax as insignificant as that mentioned by Hugh," said my uncle, "what does the legislature anticipate from passing the law?"

"That its members will be called the friends of the people, and not the friends of the landlords. Would any man tax his friends, if he could help it?"

"But what will that portion of the people who compose the anti-renters gain by such a measure?"

"Nothing; and their complaints will be just as loud, and their longings as active, as ever. Nothing that can have any effect on what they wish, will be accomplished by any legislation in the matter. One committee of the assembly has actually reported, you may remember, that the State might assume the lands, and sell them to the tenants, or some one else; or something of the sort."

"The constitution of the United States must be Hugh's ægis."

"And that alone will protect him, let me tell you. But for that noble provision of the constitution of the Federal Government, his estate would infallibly go for one-half its true value. There is no use in mincing things, or in affecting to believe men more honest than they are—an infernal feeling of selfishness is so much talked of, and cited, and referred to, on all occasions, in this country, that a man almost renders himself ridiculous who appears to rest on principle."

"Have you heard what the tenants of Ravensnest aim at, in particular?"

"They want to get Hugh's lands, that's all; nothing more, I can assure you."

"On what conditions, pray?" demanded I.

"As you 'light of chaps,' to use a saying of their own. Some even profess a willingness to pay a fair price."

"But I do not wish to sell for even a fair price. I have no desire to part with property that is endeared to me by family feeling and association. I have an expensive house [Pg 62]and establishment on my estate, which obtains its principal value from the circumstance that it is so placed that I can look after my interests with the least inconvenience to myself. What can I do with the money but buy another estate? and I prefer this that I have."

"Poh! boy, you can shave notes, you'll recollect," said uncle Ro, drily. "The calling is decided to be honourable by the highest tribunal; and no man should be above his business."

"You have no right, sir, in a free country," returned the caustic Jack Dunning, "to prefer one estate to another, more especially when other people want it. Your lands are leased to honest, hard-working tenants, who can eat their dinners without silver forks, and whose ancestors——"

"Stop!" I cried, laughing; "I bar all ancestry. No man has a right to ancestry in a free country, you'll remember!"

"That means landlord-ancestry; as for tenant-ancestry, one can have a pedigree as long as the Maison de Levis. No, sir; every tenant you have has every right to demand that his sentiment of family feeling should be respected. His father planted that orchard, and he loves the apples better than any other apples in the world——"

"And my father procured the grafts, and made him a present of them."

"His grandfather cleared that field, and converted its ashes into pots and pearls——"

"And my grandfather received that year ten shillings of rent, for land off which his received two hundred and fifty dollars for his ashes."

"His great-grandfather, honest and excellent man—nay, super-honest and confiding creature—first 'took up' the land when a wilderness, and with his own hands felled the timber, and sowed the wheat."

"And got his pay twenty-fold for it all, or he would not have been fool enough to do it. I had a great-grandfather, too; and I hope it will not be considered aristocratic if I venture to hint as much. He—a dishonest, pestilent knave, no doubt—leased that very lot for six years without any rent at all, in order that the 'poor, confiding creature' might make himself comfortable, before he commenced paying his [Pg 63]sixpence or shilling an acre rent for the remainder of three lives, with a moral certainty of getting a renewal on the most liberal terms known to a new country; and who knew, the whole time, he could buy land in fee, within ten miles of his door, but who thought this a better bargain than that."

"Enough of this folly," cried uncle Ro, joining in the laugh; "we all know that, in our excellent America, he who has the highest claims to anything, must affect to have the least, to stifle the monster envy; and, being of one mind as to principles, let us come to facts. What of the girls, Jack, and of my honoured mother?"

"She, noble, heroic woman! she is at Ravensnest at this moment; and, as the girls would not permit her to go alone, they are all with her."

"And did you, Jack Dunning, suffer them to go unattended into a part of the country that is in open rebellion?" demanded my uncle, reproachfully.

"Come, come! Hodge Littlepage, this is very sublime as a theory, but not so clear when reduced to practice. I did not go with Mrs. Littlepage and her young fry, for the good and substantial reason that I did not wish to be 'tarred and feathered.'"

"So you leave them to run the risk of being 'tarred and feathered' in your stead?"

"Say what you will about the cant of freedom that is becoming so common among us, and from which we were once so free; say what you will, Ro, of the inconsistency of those who raise the cry of 'feudality,' and 'aristocracy,' and 'nobility,' at the very moment they are manifesting a desire for exclusive rights and privileges in their own persons; say what you will of dishonesty, envy, that prominent American vice, knavery, covetousness, and selfishness; and I will echo all you can utter;—but do not say that a woman can be in serious danger among any material body of Americans, even if anti-renters, and mock-redskins in the bargain."

"I believe you are right there, Jack, on reflection. Pardon my warmth; but I have lately been living in the old world, and in a country in which women were not long since carried to the scaffold on account of their politics."

[Pg 64]

"Because they meddled with politics. Your mother is in no serious danger, though it needs nerve in a woman to be able to think so. There are few women in the State, and fewer of her time of life anywhere, that would do what she has done; and I give the girls great credit for sticking by her. Half the young men in town are desperate at the thought of three such charming creatures thus exposing themselves to insult. Your mother has only been sued."

"Sued! Whom does she owe, or what can she have done to have brought this indignity on her?"

"You know, or ought to know, how it is in this country, Littlepage; we must have a little law, even when most bent on breaking it. A downright, straight-forward rascal, who openly sets law at defiance, is a wonder. Then we have a great talk of liberty when plotting to give it the deepest stab; and religion even gets to share in no small portion of our vices. Thus it is that the anti-renters have dragged in the law in aid of their designs. I understand one of the Rensselaers has been sued for money borrowed in a ferry-boat to help him across a river under his own door, and for potatoes bought by his wife in the streets of Albany!"

"But neither of the Rensselaers need borrow money to cross the ferry, as the ferry-men would trust him; and no lady of the Rensselaer family ever bought potatoes in the streets of Albany, I'll answer for it."

"You have brought back some knowledge from your travels, I find!" said Jack Dunning, with comic gravity. "Your mother writes me that she has been sued for twenty-seven pairs of shoes furnished her by a shoemaker whom she never saw, or heard of, until she received the summons!"

"This, then, is one of the species of annoyances that has been adopted to bully the landlords out of their property?"

"It is; and if the landlords have recourse even to the covenants of their leases, solemnly and deliberately made, and as solemnly guarantied by a fundamental law, the cry is raised of 'aristocracy' and 'oppression' by these very men, and echoed by many of the creatures who get seats in high places among us—or what would be high places, if filled with men worthy of their trusts."

[Pg 65]

"I see you do not mince your words, Jack."

"Why should I? Words are all that is left me. I am of no more weight in the government of this State than that Irishman, who let you in just now, will be, five years hence—less, for he will vote to suit a majority; and, as I shall vote understandingly, my vote will probably do no one any good."

Dunning belonged to a school that mingles a good deal of speculative and impracticable theory, with a great deal of sound and just principles; but who render themselves useless because they will admit of no compromises. He did not belong to the class of American doctrinaires, however, or to those who contend—no, not contend, for no one does that any longer in this country, whatever may be his opinion on the subject—but those who think that political power, as in the last resort, should be the property of the few; for he was willing New York should have a very broad constituency. Nevertheless, he was opposed to the universal suffrage, in its wide extent, that does actually exist; as I suppose quite three-fourths of the whole population are opposed to it, in their hearts, though no political man of influence, now existing, has the moral calibre necessary to take the lead in putting it down. Dunning deferred to principles, and not to men. He well knew that an infallible whole was not to be composed of fallible parts; and while he thought majorities ought to determine many things, that there are rights and principles that are superior to even such unanimity as man can manifest, and much more to their majorities. But Dunning had no selfish views connected with his political notions, wanting no office, and feeling no motive to affect that which he neither thought nor wished. He never had quitted home, or it is highly probable his views of the comparative abuses of the different systems that prevail in the world would have been essentially modified. Those he saw had unavoidably a democratic source, there being neither monarch nor aristocrat to produce any other; and, under such circumstances, as abuses certainly abound, it is not at all surprising that he sometimes a little distorted facts, and magnified evils.

"And my noble, high-spirited, and venerable mother has actually gone to the Nest to face the enemy!" exclaimed my [Pg 66]uncle, after a thoughtful pause.

"She has, indeed; and the noble, high-spirited, though not venerable, young ladies have gone with her," returned Mr. Dunning, in his caustic way.

"All three, do you mean?"

"Every one of them—Martha, Henrietta, and Anne."

"I am surprised that the last should have done so. Anne Marston is such a meek, quiet, peace-loving person, that I should think she would have preferred remaining, as she naturally might have done, without exciting remark, with her own mother."

"She has not, nevertheless. Mrs. Littlepage would brave the anti-renters, and the three maidens would be her companions. I dare say, Ro, you know how it is with the gentle sex, when they make up their minds?"

"My girls are all good girls, and have given me very little trouble," answered my uncle, complacently.

"Yes, I dare say that may be true. You have only been absent from home five years, this trip."

"An attentive guardian, notwithstanding, since I left you as a substitute. Has my mother written to you since her arrival among the hosts of the Philistines?"

"She has, indeed, Littlepage," answered Dunning, gravely; "I have heard from her three times, for she writes to urge my not appearing on the estate. I did intend to pay her a visit; but she tells me that it might lead to a violent scene, and can do no good. As the rents will not be due until autumn, and Master Hugh is now of age and was to be here to look after his own affairs, I have seen no motive for incurring the risk of the tarring and feathering. We American lawyers, young gentleman, wear no wigs."

"Does my mother write herself, or employ another?" inquired my uncle, with interest.

"She honours me with her own hand. Your mother writes much better than you do yourself, Roger."

"That is owing to her once having carried chain, as she would say herself. Has Martha written to you?"

"Of course. Sweet little Patty and I are bosom friends, as you know."

"And does she say anything of the Indian and the negro?"

[Pg 67]

"Jaaf and Susquesus? To be sure she does. Both are living still, and both are well. I saw them myself, and even ate of their venison, so lately as last winter."

"Those old fellows must have each lived a great deal more than his century, Jack. They were with my grandfather in the old French war, as active, useful men—older, then, than my grandfather!"

"Ay! a nigger or a redskin, before all others, for holding on to life, when they have been temperate. Let me see—that expedition of Abercrombie's was about eighty years since; why, these fellows must be well turned of their hundred, though Jaap is rather the oldest, judging from appearances."

"I believe no one knows the age of either. A hundred each has been thought, now, for many years. Susquesus was surprisingly active, too, when I last saw him—like a healthy man of eighty."

"He has failed of late, though he actually shot a deer, as I told you, last winter. Both the old fellows stray down to the Nest, Martha writes me; and the Indian is highly scandalized at the miserable imitations of his race that are now abroad. I have even heard that he and Yop have actually contemplated taking the field against them. Seneca Newcome is their especial aversion."

"How is Opportunity?" I inquired. "Does she take any part in this movement?"

"A decided one, I hear. She is anti-rent, while she wishes to keep on good terms with her landlord; and that is endeavouring to serve God and Mammon. She is not the first, however, by a thousand, that wears two faces in this business."

"Hugh has a deep admiration of Opportunity," observed my uncle, "and you had needs be tender in your strictures. The modern Seneca, I take it, is dead against us?"

"Seneky wishes to go to the legislature, and of course he is on the side of votes. Then his brother is a tenant at the mill, and naturally wishes to be the landlord. He is also interested in the land himself. One thing has struck me in this controversy as highly worthy of notice; and it is the naïveté with which men reconcile the obvious longings of covetousness with what they are pleased to fancy the principles of liberty! When a man has worked a farm a cer[Pg 68]tain number of years, he boldly sets up the doctrine that the fact itself gives him a high moral claim to possess it for ever. A moment's examination will expose the fallacy by which these sophists apply the flattering unction to their souls. They work their farms under a lease, and in virtue of its covenants. Now, in a moral sense, all that time can do in such a case, is to render these covenants the more sacred, and consequently more binding; but these worthies, whose morality is all on one side, imagine that these time-honoured covenants give them a right to fly from their own conditions during their existence, and to raise pretensions far exceeding anything they themselves confer, the moment they cease."

"Poh, poh! Jack; there is no need of refining at all, to come at the merits of such a question. This is a civilized country, or it is not. If it be a civilized country, it will respect the rights of property, and its own laws; and if the reverse, it will not respect them. As for setting up the doctrine, at this late day, when millions and millions are invested in this particular species of property, that the leasehold tenure is opposed to the spirit of institutions of which it has substantially formed a part, ever since those institutions have themselves had an existence, it requires a bold front, and more capacity than any man at Albany possesses, to make the doctrines go down. Men may run off with the notion that the tendencies to certain abuses, which mark every system, form their spirit; but this is a fallacy that a very little thought will correct. Is it true that proposals have actually been made, by these pretenders to liberty, to appoint commissioners to act as arbitrators between the landlords and tenants, and to decide points that no one has any right to raise?"

"True as Holy Writ; and a regular 'Star Chamber' tribunal it would be! It is wonderful, after all, how extremes do meet!"

"That is as certain as the return of the sun after night. But let us now talk of our project, Jack, and of the means of getting among these self-deluded men—deluded by their own covetousness—without being discovered; for I am determined to see them, and to judge of their motives and [Pg 69]conduct for myself."

"Take care of the tar-barrel, and of the pillow-case of feathers, Roger!"

"I shall endeavour so to do."

We then discussed the matter before us at length and leisurely. I shall not relate all that was said, as it would be going over the same ground twice, but refer the reader to the regular narrative. At the usual hour, we retired to our beds, retaining the name of Davidson, as convenient and prudent. Next day Mr. John Dunning busied himself in our behalf, and made himself exceedingly useful to us. In his character of an old bachelor, he had many acquaintances at the theatre; and through his friends of the green-room he supplied each of us with a wig. Both my uncle and myself spoke German reasonably well, and our original plan was to travel in the characters of immigrant trinket and essence pedlars. But I had a fancy for a hand-organ and a monkey; and it was finally agreed that Mr. Hugh Roger Littlepage, senior, was to undertake this adventure with a box of cheap watches and gilded trinkets; while Mr. Hugh Roger Littlepage, junior, was to commence his travels at home, in the character of a music-grinder. Modesty will not permit me to say all I might, in favour of my own skill in music in general; but I sang well for an amateur, and played, both on the violin and flute, far better than is common.

Everything was arranged in the course of the following day, our wigs of themselves completely effecting all the disguises that were necessary. As for my uncle, he was nearly bald, and a wig was no great encumbrance; but my shaggy locks gave me some trouble. A little clipping, however, answered the turn; and I had a hearty laugh at myself, in costume, that afternoon, before Dunning's dressing-room glass. We got round the felony law, about being armed and disguised, by carrying no weapons but our tools in the way of trade.

[Pg 70]


And she hath smiles to earth unknown——
Smiles, that with motion of their own
Do spread, and sink, and rise;
That come and go with endless play
And ever, as they pass away,
Are hidden in her eyes."


I was early in costume the following morning. I question if my own mother could have known me, had she lived long enough to see the whiskers sprout on my cheeks, and to contemplate my countenance as a man. I went into Dunning's library, drew the little hurdy-gurdy from its hiding-place, slung it, and began to play St. Patrick's Day in the Morning, with spirit, and, I trust I may add, with execution. I was in the height of the air, when the door opened, and Barney thrust his high-cheeked-bone face into the room, his mouth as wide open as that of a frozen porker.

"Where the divil did ye come from?" demanded the new footman, with the muscles of that vast aperture of his working from grin to grim, and grim to grin again. "Yee's wilcome to the tchune; but how comes ye here?"

"I coomes vrom Halle, in Preussen. Vat isht your vaterland?"

"Be yees a Jew?"

"Nein—I isht a goot Christian. Vilt you haf Yankee Tootle?"

"Yankee T'under! Ye'll wake up the masther, and he'll be displais'd, else ye might work upon t'at tchune till the end of time. That I should hear it here, in my own liberary, and ould Ireland t'ree thousand laigues away!"

A laugh from Dunning interrupted the dialogue, when Barney vanished, no doubt anticipating some species of American punishment for a presumed delinquency. Whether the blundering, well-meaning, honest fellow really ascertained who we were that breakfasted with his master, [Pg 71]I do not know; but we got the meal and left the house without seeing his face again, Dunning having a young yellow fellow to do the service of the table.

I need scarcely say that I felt a little awkward at finding myself in the streets of New York in such a guise; but the gravity and self-possession of my uncle were a constant source of amusement to me. He actually sold a watch on the wharf before the boat left it, though I imputed his success to the circumstance that his price was what a brother dealer, who happened to be trading in the same neighbourhood, pronounced "onconscionably low." We took a comfortable state-room between us, under the pretence of locking-up our property, and strolled about the boat, gaping and looking curious, as became our class.

"Here are at least a dozen people that I know," said my uncle, as we were lounging around—loafing around, is the modern Doric—about the time that the boat was paddling past Fort Washington; "I have reconnoitred in all quarters, and find quite a dozen. I have been conversing with an old school-fellow, and one with whom I have ever lived in tolerable intimacy, for the last ten minutes, and find my broken English and disguise are perfect. I am confident my dear mother herself would not recognise me."

"We can then amuse ourselves with my grandmother and the young ladies," I answered, "when we reach the Nest. For my part, it strikes me that we had better keep our own secret to the last moment."

"Hush! As I live, there is Seneca Newcome this moment! He is coming this way, and we must be Germans again."

Sure enough, there was 'Squire Seneky, as the honest farmers around the Nest call him; though many of them must change their practices, or it will shortly become so absurd to apply the term "honest" to them, that no one will have the hardihood to use it. Newcome came slowly towards the forecastle, on which we were standing; and my uncle determined to get into conversation with him, as a means of further proving the virtue of our disguises, as well as possibly of opening the way to some communications that might facilitate our visit to the Nest. With this view, the pretended pedlar drew a watch from his pocket, and, offer[Pg 72]ing it meekly to the inspection of the quasi lawyer, he said—

"Puy a vatch, shentlemans?"

"Hey! what? Oh! a watch," returned Seneca, in that high, condescending, vulgar key, with which the salt of the earth usually affect to treat those they evidently think much beneath them in intellect, station, or some other great essential, at the very moment they are bursting with envy, and denouncing as aristocrats all who are above them. "Hey! a watch, is it? What countryman are you, friend?"

"A Charmans—ein Teutscher."

"A German—ine Tycher is the place you come from, I s'pose?"

"Nein—ein Teutscher isht a Charman."

"Oh, yes! I understand. How long have you been in Ameriky?"

"Twelf moont's."

"Why, that's most long enough to make you citizens. Where do you live?"

"Nowhere; I lifs jest asht it happens—soometimes here, ant soometimes dere."

"Ay, ay! I understand—no legal domicile, but lead a wandering life. Have you many of these watches for sale?"

"Yees—I haf asht many as twenty. Dey are as sheep as dirt, and go like pig clocks."

"And what may be your price for this?"

"Dat you can haf for only eight tollars. Effery poty wilt say it is golt, dat doesn't know petter."

"Oh! it isn't gold then—I swan!"—what this oath meant I never exactly knew, though I suppose it to be a puritan mode of saying "I swear!" the attempts to cheat the devil in this way being very common among their pious descendants, though even "Smith Thompson" himself can do no man any good in such a case of conscience—"I swan! you come plaguy near taking even me in! Will you come down from that price any?"

"If you wilt gif me some atfice, perhaps I may. You look like a goot shentlemans, and one dat woultn't sheat a poor Charmans; ant effery poty wants so much to sheat de poor Charmans, dat I will take six, if you will drow in some [Pg 73]atfice."

"Advice? You have come to the right man for that! Walk a little this way, where we shall be alone. What is the natur' of the matter—action on the case, or a tort?"

"Nein, nein! it isht not law dat I wants, put atfice."

"Well, but advice leads to law, ninety-nine times in a hundred."

"Ya, ya!" answered the pedlar, laughing; "dat may be so; put it isht not what I vants—I vants to know vere a Charman can trafel wit' his goots in de coontry, and not in de pig towns."

"I understand you—six dollars, hey! That sounds high for such a looking watch"—he had just before mistaken it for gold—"but I'm always the poor man's friend, and despise aristocracy"—what Seneca hated with the strongest hate, he ever fancied he despised the most, and by aristocracy he merely understood gentlemen and ladies, in the true signification of the words—"why, I'm always ready to help along the honest citizen. If you could make up your mind, now, to part with this one watch for nawthin', I think I could tell you a part of the country where you might sell the other nineteen in a week."

"Goot!" exclaimed my uncle, cheerfully. "Take him—he ist your broberty, and wilcome. Only show me de town where I canst sell de nineteen udders."

Had my uncle Ro been a true son of peddling, he would have charged a dollar extra on each of the nineteen, and made eleven dollars by his present liberality.

"It is no town at all—only a township," returned the literal Seneca. "Did you expect it would be a city?"

"Vat cares I? I woult radder sell my vatches to goot, honest, country men, dan asht to de best burghers in de land."

"You're my man! The right spirit is in you. I hope you're no patroon—no aristocrat?"

"I don't know vat isht badroon, or vat isht arishtocrat."

"No! You are a happy man in your ignorance. A patroon is a nobleman who owns another man's land; and an aristocrat is a body that thinks himself better than his neighbours, friend."

[Pg 74]

"Well, den, I isht no badroon, for I don't own no land at all, not even mine own; and I ishn't petter asht no poty at all."

"Yes, you be; you've only to think so, and you'll be the greatest gentleman of 'em all."

"Well, den, I will dry and dink so, and be petter asht de greatest shentlemans of dem all. But dat won't do, nudder, as dat vilt make me petter dan you; for you are one of de greatest of dem all, shentlemans."

"Oh! as for me, let me alone. I scorn being on their level. I go for 'Down with the rent!' and so'll you, too, afore you've been a week in our part of the country."

"Vat isht de rent dat you vants to git down?"

"It's a thing that's opposed to the spirit of the institutions, as you can see by my feelin's at this very moment. But no matter! I'll keep the watch, if you say so, and show you the way into that part of the country, as your pay."

"Agreet, shentlemans. Vat I vants is atfice, and vat you vants is a vatch."

Here uncle Ro laughed so much like himself, when he ought clearly to have laughed in broken English, that I was very much afraid he might give the alarm to our companion; but he did not. From that time, the best relations existed between us and Seneca, who, in the course of the day, recognised us by sundry smiles and winks, though I could plainly see he did not like the anti-aristocratic principle sufficiently to wish to seem too intimate with us. Before we reached the islands, however, he gave us directions where to meet him in the morning, and we parted, when the boat stopped alongside of the pier at Albany that afternoon, the best friends in the world.

"Albany! dear, good old Albany!" exclaimed my uncle Ro, as we stopped on the draw of the bridge to look at the busy scene in the basin, where literally hundreds of canal-boats were either lying to discharge or to load, or were coming and going, to say nothing of other craft; "dear, good old Albany! you are a town to which I ever return with pleasure, for you at least never disappoint me. A first-rate country-place you are; and, though I miss your quaint old Dutch church, and your rustic-looking old Eng[Pg 75]lish church from the centre of your principal street, almost every change you make is respectable. I know nothing that tells so much against you as changing the name of Market street by the paltry imitation of Broadway; but, considering that a horde of Yankees have come down upon you since the commencement of the present century, you are lucky that the street was not called the Appian Way. But, excellent old Albany! whom even the corruptions of politics cannot change in the core, lying against thy hillside, and surrounded with thy picturesque scenery, there is an air of respectability about thee that I admire, and a quiet prosperity that I love. Yet, how changed since my boyhood! Thy simple stoups have all vanished; thy gables are disappearing; marble and granite are rising in thy streets, too, but they take honest shapes, and are free from the ambition of mounting on stilts; thy basin has changed the whole character of thy once semi-sylvan, semi-commercial river; but it gives to thy young manhood an appearance of abundance and thrift that promise well for thy age!"

The reader may depend on it that I laughed heartily at this rhapsody; for I could hardly enter into my uncle's feelings. Albany is certainly a very good sort of a place, and relatively a more respectable-looking town than the "commercial emporium," which, after all, externally, is a mere huge expansion of a very marked mediocrity, with the pretension of a capital in its estimate of itself. But Albany lays no claim to be anything more than a provincial town, and in that class it is highly placed. By the way, there is nothing in which "our people," to speak idiomatically, more deceive themselves, than in their estimate of what composes a capital. It would be ridiculous to suppose that the representatives of such a government as this could impart to any place the tone, opinions, habits and manners of a capital; for, if they did, they would impart it on the novel principle of communicating that which they do not possess in their own persons. Congress itself, though tolerably free from most shackles, including those of the constitution, is not up to that. In my opinion, a man accustomed to the world might be placed blindfolded in the most finished quarter of New York, and the place has new quarters in which the [Pg 76]incongruities I have already mentioned do not exist, and, my life on it, he could pronounce, as soon as the bandage was removed, that he was not in a town where the tone of a capital exists. The last thing to make a capital is trade. Indeed, the man who hears the words "business" and "the merchants" ringing in his ears, may safely conclude, de facto, that he is not in a capital. Now, a New-York village is often much less rustic than the villages of the most advanced country of Europe; but a New-York town is many degrees below any capital of a large State in the old world.

Will New York ever be a capital? Yes—out of all question, yes. But the day will not come until after the sudden changes of condition which immediately and so naturally succeeded the revolution, have ceased to influence ordinary society, and those above again impart to those below more than they receive. This restoration to the natural state of things must take place, as soon as society gets settled; and there will be nothing to prevent a town living under our own institutions—spirit, tendencies and all—from obtaining the highest tone that ever yet prevailed in a capital. The folly is in anticipating the natural course of events. Nothing will more hasten these events, however, than a literature that is controlled, not by the lower, but by the higher opinion of the country; which literature is yet, in a great degree, to be created.

I had dispensed with the monkey, after trying to get along with the creature for an hour or two, and went around only with my music. I would rather manage an army of anti-renters than one monkey. With the hurdy-gurdy slung around my neck, therefore, I followed my uncle, who actually sold another watch before we reached a tavern. Of course we did not presume to go to Congress Hall, or the Eagle, for we knew we should not be admitted. This was the toughest part of our adventures. I am of opinion my uncle made a mistake; for he ventured to a second-class house, under the impression that one of the sort usually frequented by men of our supposed stamp might prove too coarse for us, altogether. I think we should have been better satisfied with the coarse fare of a coarse tavern, than with the shabby-genteel of the house we blundered into. In the former, everything would have reminded us, in a way we expected to be reminded, that we were out of the com[Pg 77]mon track; and we might have been amused with the change, though it is one singularly hard to be endured. I remember to have heard a young man, accustomed from childhood to the better habits of the country, but who went to sea a lad, before the mast, declare that the coarseness of his shipmates, and there is no vulgarity about a true sailor, even when coarsest, gave him more trouble to overcome, than all the gales, physical sufferings, labour, exposures and dangers, put together. I must confess, I have found it so, too, in my little experience. While acting as a strolling musician, I could get along with anything better than the coarse habits which I encountered at the table. Your silver-forkisms, and your purely conventional customs, as a matter of course, no man of the world attaches any serious importance to; but there are conventionalities that belong to the fundamental principles of civilized society, which become second nature, and with which it gets to be hard, indeed, to dispense. I shall say as little as possible of the disagreeables of my new trade, therefore, but stick to the essentials.

The morning of the day which succeeded that of our arrival at Albany, my uncle Ro and I took our seats in the train, intending to go to Saratoga, viâ Troy. I wonder the Trojan who first thought of playing this travestie on Homer, did not think of calling the place Troyville, or Troyborough! That would have been semi-American, at least, whereas the present appellation is so purely classical! It is impossible to walk through the streets of this neat and flourishing town, which already counts its twenty thousand souls, and not have the images of Achilles, and Hector, and Priam, and Hecuba, pressing on the imagination a little uncomfortably. Had the place been called Try, the name would have been a sensible one; for it is trying all it can to get the better of Albany; and, much as I love the latter venerable old town, I hope Troy may succeed in its trying to prevent the Hudson from being bridged. By the way, I will here remark, for the benefit of those who have never seen any country but their own, that there is a view on the road between Schenectady and this Grecian place, just where the heights give the first full appearance of the valley of the Hudson, including glimpses of Waterford, Lansingburg [Pg 78]and Albany, with a full view of both Troys, which gives one a better idea of the affluence of European scenery, than almost any other spot I can recall in America. To my hurdy-gurdy:

I made my first essay as a musician in public beneath the windows of the principal inn of Troy. I cannot say much in favour of the instrument, though I trust the playing itself was somewhat respectable. This I know full well, that I soon brought a dozen fair faces to the windows of the inn, and that each was decorated with a smile. Then it was that I regretted the monkey. Such an opening could not but awaken the dormant ambition of even a "patriot" of the purest water, and I will own I was gratified.

Among the curious who thus appeared, were two whom I at once supposed to be father and daughter. The former was a clergyman, and, as I fancied by something in his air, of "the Church," begging pardon of those who take offence at this exclusive title, and to whom I will just give a hint in passing. Any one at all acquainted with mankind, will at once understand that no man who is certain of possessing any particular advantage, ever manifests much sensibility because another lays claim to it also. In the constant struggles of the jealous, for instance, on the subject of that universal source of jealous feeling, social position, the man or woman who is conscious of claims never troubles himself or herself about them. For them the obvious fact is sufficient. If it be answered to this that the pretension of "the Church" is exclusive, I shall admit it is, and "conclusive," too. It is not exclusive, however, in the sense urged, since no one denies that there are many branches to "the Church," although those branches do not embrace everything. I would advise those who take offence at "our" styling "ourselves" "the Church," to style themselves "the Church," just as they call all their parsons bishops, and see who will care about it. That is a touchstone which will soon separate the true metal from the alloy.

My parson, I could easily see, was a Church clergyman—not a meeting-house clergyman. How I ascertained that fact at a glance, I shall not reveal; but I also saw in his countenance some of that curiosity which marks simplicity of character: it was not a vulgar feeling, but one which [Pg 79]induced him to beckon me to approach a little nearer. I did so, when he invited me in. It was a little awkward, at first, I must acknowledge, to be beckoned about in this manner; but there was something in the air and countenance of the daughter that induced me not to hesitate about complying. I cannot say that her beauty was so very striking, though she was decidedly pretty; but the expression of her face, eyes, smile, and all put together, was so singularly sweet and feminine, that I felt impelled by a sympathy I shall not attempt to explain, to enter the house, and ascend to the door of a parlour that I saw at once was public, though it then contained no one but my proper hosts.

"Walk in, young man," said the father, in a benevolent tone of voice. "I am curious to see that instrument; and my daughter here, who has a taste for music, wishes it as much as I do myself. What do you call it?"

"Hurty-gurty," I answered.

"From what part of the world do you come, my young friend?" continued the clergyman, raising his meek eyes to mine still more curiously.

"Vrom Charmany; vrom Preussen, vere did reign so late de good Koenig Wilhelm."

"What does he say, Molly?"

So the pretty creature bore the name of Mary! I liked the Molly, too; it was a good sign, as none but the truly respectable dare use such familiar appellations in these ambitious times. Molly sounded as if these people had the aplomb of position and conscious breeding. Had they been vulgar, it would have been Mollissa.

"It is not difficult to translate, father," answered one of the sweetest voices that had ever poured its melody on my ear, and which was rendered still more musical by the slight laugh that mingled with it. "He says he is from Germany—from Prussia, where the good King William lately reigned."

I liked the "father," too—that sounded refreshing, after passing a night among a tribe of foul-nosed adventurers in humanity, every one of whom had done his or her share towards caricaturing the once pretty appellatives of "Pa" and "Ma." A young lady may still say "Papa," or [Pg 80]even "Mamma," though it were far better that she said "Father" and "Mother;" but as for "Pa" and "Ma," they are now done with in respectable life. They will not even do for the nursery.

"And this instrument is a hurdy-gurdy?" continued the clergyman. "What have we here—the name spelt on it?"

"Dat isht de maker's name—Hochstiel fecit."

"Fecit!" repeated the clergyman; "is that German?"

"Nein—dat isht Latin; facio, feci, factum, facerefeci, feciste, fecit. It means make, I suppose you know."

The parson looked at me, and at my dress and figure, with open surprise, and smiled as his eye glanced at his daughter. If asked why I made this silly display of lower-form learning, I can only say that I chafed at being fancied a mere every-day street musician, that had left his monkey at home, by the charming girl who stood gracefully bending over her father's elbow, as the latter examined the inscription that was stamped on a small piece of ivory which had been let into the instrument. I could see that Mary shrunk back a little under the sensitive feeling, so natural to her sex, that she was manifesting too much freedom of manner for the presence of a youth who was nearer to her own class than she could have supposed it possible for a player on the hurdy-gurdy to be. A blush succeeded; but the glance of the soft blue eye that instantly followed, seemed to set all at rest, and she leaned over her father's elbow again.

"You understand Latin, then?" demanded the parent, examining me over his spectacles from head to foot.

"A leetle, sir—just a ferry leetle. In my coontry, efery mans isht obliget to be a soldier some time, and them t'at knows Latin can be made sergeants and corporals."

"That is Prussia, is it?"

"Ya—Preussen, vere so late did reign de goot Koenig Wilhelm."

"And is Latin much understood among you? I have heard that, in Hungary, most well-informed persons even speak the tongue."

"In Charmany it isht not so. We all l'arnts somet'ing, but not all dost l'arn efery t'ing."

I could see a smile struggling around the sweet lips of [Pg 81]that dear girl, after I had thus delivered myself, as I fancied, with a most accurate inaccuracy; but she succeeded in repressing it, though those provoking eyes of hers continued to laugh, much of the time our interview lasted.

"Oh! I very well know that in Prussia the schools are quite good, and that your government pays great attention to the wants of all classes," rejoined the clergyman; "but I confess some surprise that you should understand anything of Latin. Now, even in this country, where we boast so much——"

"Ye-e-s," I could not refrain from drawling out, "dey does poast a great teal in dis coontry!"

Mary actually laughed; whether it was at my words, or at the somewhat comical manner I had assumed—a manner in which simplicity was tant soit peu blended with irony—I shall not pretend to say. As for the father, his simplicity was of proof; and, after civilly waiting until my interruption was done, he resumed what he had been on the point of saying.

"I was about to add," continued the clergyman, "that even in this country, where we boast so much"—the little minx of a daughter passed her hand over her eyes, and fairly coloured with the effort she made not to laugh again—"of the common schools, and of their influence on the public mind, it is not usual to find persons of your condition who understand the dead languages."

"Ye-e-s," I replied; "it isht my condition dat misleats you, sir. Mine fat'er wast a shentlemans, and he gifet me as goot an etication as de Koenig did gif to de Kron Prinz."

Here, my desire to appear well in the eyes of Mary caused me to run into another silly indiscretion. How I was to explain the circumstance of the son of a Prussian gentleman, whose father had given him an education as good as that which the King of his country had given to its Crown Prince, being in the streets of Troy, playing on a hurdy-gurdy, was a difficulty I did not reflect on for a moment. The idea of being thought by that sweet girl a mere uneducated boor, was intolerable to me; and I threw it off by this desperate falsehood—false in its accessories, but true in its main facts—as one would resent an insult. Fortune favoured me, however, far more than I had any [Pg 82]right to expect.

There is a singular disposition in the American character to believe every well-mannered European at least a count. I do not mean that those who have seen the world are not like other persons in this respect; but a very great proportion of the country never has seen any other world than a world of "business." The credulity on this subject surpasseth belief; and, were I to relate facts of this nature that might be established in a court of justice, the very parties connected with them would be ready to swear that they are caricatures. Now, well-mannered I trust I am, and, though plainly dressed and thoroughly disguised, neither my air nor attire was absolutely mean. As my clothes were new, I was neat in my appearance; and there were possibly some incongruities about the last, that might have struck eyes more penetrating than those of my companions. I could see that both father and daughter felt a lively interest in me, the instant I gave them reason to believe I was one of better fortunes. So many crude notions exist among us on the subject of convulsions and revolutions in Europe, that I dare say, had I told any improbable tale of the political condition of Prussia, it would have gone down; for nothing so much resembles the ignorance that prevails in America, generally, concerning the true state of things in Europe, as the ignorance that prevails in Europe, generally, concerning the true state of things in America. As for Mary, her soft eyes seemed to me to be imbued with thrice their customary gentleness and compassion, as she recoiled a step in native modesty, and gazed at me, when I had made my revelation.

"If such is the case, my young friend," returned the clergyman, with benevolent interest, "you ought, and might easily be placed in a better position than this you are now in. Have you any knowledge of Greek?"

"Certainly—Greek is moch study in Charmany."

'In for a penny, in for a pound,' I thought.

"And the modern languages—do you understand any of them?"

"I speaks de five great tongues of Europe, more ast less well; and I read dem all, easily."

"The five tongues!" said the clergyman, counting on his [Pg 83]fingers; "what can they be, Mary?"

"French, and German, and Spanish, and Italian, I suppose, sir."

"These make but four. What can be the fifth, my dear?"

"De yoong laty forgets de Englisch. De Englisch is das funf."

"Oh! yes, the English!" exclaimed the pretty creature, pressing her lips together to prevent laughing in my face.

"True—I had forgotten the English, not being accustomed to think of it as a mere European tongue. I suppose, young man, you naturally speak the English less fluently than any other of your five languages?"


Again the smile struggled to the lips of Mary.

"I feel a deep interest in you as a stranger, and am sorry we have only met to part so soon. Which way shall you be likely to direct your steps, my Prussian young friend?"

"I go to a place which is callet Ravensnest—goot place to sell vatch, dey tells me."

"Ravensnest!" exclaimed the father.

"Ravensnest!" repeated the daughter, and that in tones which put the hurdy-gurdy to shame.

"Why, Ravensnest is the place where I live, and the parish of which I am the clergyman—the Protestant Episcopal clergyman, I mean."

This, then, was the Rev. Mr. Warren, the divine who had been called to our church the very summer I left home, and who had been there ever since! My sister Martha had written me much concerning these people, and I felt as if I had known them for years. Mr. Warren was a man of good connexions, and some education, but of no fortune whatever, who had gone into the Church—it was the church of his ancestors, one of whom had actually been an English bishop, a century or two ago—from choice, and contrary to the wishes of his friends. As a preacher, his success had never been great; but for the discharge of his duties no man stood higher, and no man was more respected. The living of St. Andrew's, Ravensnest, would have been poor enough, had it depended on the contributions of the parishioners. These last gave about one hundred and fifty dollars [Pg 84]a-year, for their share of the support of a priest. I gave another hundred, as regularly as clock-work, and had been made to do so throughout a long minority; and my grandmother and sister made up another fifty between them. But there was a glebe of fifty acres of capital land, a wood-lot, and a fund of two thousand dollars at interest; the whole proceeding from endowments made by my grandfather, during his lifetime. Altogether, the living may have been worth a clear five hundred dollars a year, in addition to a comfortable house, hay, wood, vegetables, pasture, and some advantages in the way of small crops. Few country clergymen were better off than the rector of St. Andrew's, Ravensnest, and all as a consequence of the feudal and aristocratic habits of the Littlepages, though I say it, perhaps, who might better not, in times like these.

My letters had told me that the Rev. Mr. Warren was a widower; that Mary was his only child; that he was a truly pious, not a sham-pious, and a really zealous clergyman; a man of purest truth, whose word was gospel—of great simplicity and integrity of mind and character; that he never spoke evil of others, and that a complaint of this world and its hardships seldom crossed his lips. He loved his fellow-creatures, both naturally and on principle; mourned over the state of the diocese, and greatly preferred piety even to high-churchism. High-churchman he was, nevertheless; though it was not a high-churchmanship that outweighed the loftier considerations of his Christian duties, and left him equally without opinions of his own in matters of morals, and without a proper respect, in practice, for those that he had solemnly vowed to maintain.

His daughter was described as a sweet-tempered, arch, modest, sensible, and well-bred girl, that had received a far better education than her father's means would have permitted him to bestow, through the liberality and affection of a widowed sister of her mother's, who was affluent, and had caused her to attend the same school as that to which she had sent her own daughters. In a word, she was a most charming neighbour; and her presence at Ravensnest had rendered Martha's annual visits to the "old house" (built in 1785) not only less irksome, but actually pleasant. Such had been my sister's account of the Warrens and [Pg 85]their qualities, throughout a correspondence of five years. I have even fancied that she loved this Mary Warren better than she loved any of her uncle's wards, herself of course excepted.

The foregoing flashed through my mind, the instant the clergyman announced himself; but the coincidence of our being on the way to the same part of the country, seemed to strike him as forcibly as it did myself. What Mary thought of the matter, I had no means of ascertaining.

"This is singular enough," resumed Mr. Warren. "What has directed your steps towards Ravensnest?"

"Dey tell mine ooncle 'tis goot place to sell moch vatch."

"You have an uncle, then? Ah! I see him there in the street, showing a watch at this moment to a gentleman. Is your uncle a linguist, too, and has he been as well educated as you seem to be yourself?"

"Certain—he moch more of a shentleman dan ast de shentleman to whom he now sell vatch."

"These must be the very persons," put in Mary, a little eagerly, "of whom Mr. Newcome spoke, as the"—the dear girl did not like to say pedlars, after what I had told them of my origin; so she added—"dealers in watches and trinkets, who intended to visit our part of the country."

"You are right, my dear, and the whole matter is now clear. Mr. Newcome said he expected them to join us at Troy, when we should proceed in the train together as far as Saratoga. But here comes Opportunity herself, and her brother cannot be far off."

At that moment, sure enough, my old acquaintance, Opportunity Newcome, came into the room, a public parlour, with an air of great self-satisfaction, and a nonchalance of manner that was not a little more peculiar to herself than it is to most of her caste. I trembled for my disguise, since, to be quite frank on a very delicate subject, Opportunity had made so very dead a set at me—"setting a cap" is but a pitiful phrase to express the assault I had to withstand—as scarcely to leave a hope that her feminine instinct, increased and stimulated with the wish to be mistress of the Nest house, could possibly overlook the thousand and one personal peculiarities that must still remain about one, whose personal peculiarities she had made her particular study.

[Pg 86]


"O, sic a geek she gave her head,
And sic a toss she gave her feather;
Man, saw ye ne'er a bonnier lass
Before, among the blooming heather?"

Allan Cunningham.

"Ah! here are some charming French vignettes!" cried Opportunity, running up to a table where lay some inferior coloured engravings, that were intended to represent the cardinal virtues, under the forms of tawdry female beauties. The workmanship was French, as were the inscriptions. Now, Opportunity knew just enough French to translate these inscriptions, simple and school-girl as they were, as wrong as they could possibly be translated, under the circumstances.

"La Vertue," cried Opportunity, in a high, decided way, as if to make sure of an audience "The Virtue; La Solitude," pronouncing the last word in a desperately English accent, "The Solitude; La Charité, The Charity. It is really delightful, Mary, as 'Sarah Soothings' would say, to meet with these glimmerings of taste in this wilderness of the world."

I wondered who the deuce "Sarah Soothings" could be, but afterwards learned this was the nom-de-guerre of a female contributor to the magazines, who, I dare say, silly as she might be, was never silly enough to record the sentiments Opportunity had just professed to repeat. As for The la Charité, and The la Vertue, they did not in the least surprise me; for Martha, the hussy, often made herself merry by recording that young lady's tours de force in French. On one occasion I remember she wrote me, that when Opportunity wished to say On est venu me chercher, instead of saying "I am come for," in homely English, which would have been the best of all, she had flown off in the high flight of "Je suis venue pour."

Mary smiled, for she comprehended perfectly the differ[Pg 87]ence between la Solitude and the Solitude; but she said nothing. I must acknowledge that I was so indiscreet as to smile also, though, Opportunity's back being turned towards us, these mutual signs of intelligence that escaped us both through the eyes, opened a species of communication that, to me at least, was infinitely agreeable.

Opportunity, having shown the owner of the strange figure at which she had just glanced on entering the room, that she had studied French, now turned to take a better look at him. I have reason to think my appearance did not make a very happy impression on her; for she tossed her head, drew a chair, seated herself in the manner most opposed to the descent of down, and opened her budget of news, without the least regard to my presence, and apparently with as little attention to the wishes and tastes of her companions. Her accent, and jumping, hitching mode of speaking, with the high key in which she uttered her sentiments, too, all grated on my ears, which had become a little accustomed to different habits, in young ladies in particular, in the other hemisphere. I confess myself to be one of those who regard an even, quiet, graceful mode of utterance, as even a greater charm in a woman than beauty. Its effect is more lasting, and seems to be directly connected with the character. Mary Warren not only pronounced like one accustomed to good society; but the modulations of her voice, which was singularly sweet by nature, were even and agreeable, as is usual with well-bred women, and as far as possible from the jerking, fluttering, now rapid, now drawling manner of Opportunity. Perhaps, in this age of "loose attire," loose habits, and free and easy deportment, the speech denotes the gentleman, or the lady, more accurately than any other off-hand test.

"Sen is enough to wear out anybody's patience!" exclaimed Opportunity. "We must quit Troy in half an hour; and I have visits that I ought to pay to Miss Jones, and Miss White, and Miss Black, and Miss Green, and Miss Brown, and three or four others; and I can't get him to come near me."

"Why not go alone?" asked Mary, quietly. "It is but a step to two or three of the houses, and you cannot possibly [Pg 88]lose your way. I will go with you, if you desire it."

"Oh! lose my way? no, indeed! I know it too well for that. I wasn't educated in Troy, not to know something of the streets. But it looks so, to see a young lady walking in the streets without a beau! I never wish to cross a room in company without a beau; much less to cross a street. No; if Sen don't come in soon, I shall miss seeing every one of my friends, and that will be a desperate disappointment to us all; but it can't be helped: walk without a beau I will not, if I never see one of them again."

"Will you accept of me, Miss Opportunity?" asked Mr. Warren. "It will afford me pleasure to be of service to you."

"Lord! Mr. Warren, you don't think of setting up for a beau at your time of life, do you? Everybody would see that you're a clergyman, and I might just as well go alone. No, if Sen don't come in at once, I must lose my visits; and the young ladies will be so put out about it, I know! Araminta Maria wrote me, in the most particular manner, never to go through Troy without stopping to see her, if I didn't see another mortal; and Katherine Clotilda has as much as said she would never forgive me if I passed her door. But Seneca cares no more for the friendships of young ladies, than he does"—Miss Newcome pronounced this word "doos," notwithstanding her education, as she did "been," "ben," and fifty others just as much out of the common way—"But Seneca cares no more for the friendships of young ladies, than he does for the young patroon. I declare, Mr. Warren, I believe Sen will go crazy unless the anti-renters soon get the best of it; he does nothing but think and talk of 'rents,' and 'aristocracy,' and 'poodle usages,' from morning till night."

We all smiled at the little mistake of Miss Opportunity, but it was of no great consequence; and I dare say she knew what she meant as well as most others who use the same term, though they spell it more accurately. "Poodle usages" are quite as applicable to anything now existing in America, as "feudal usages."

"Your brother is then occupied with a matter of the last importance to the community of which he is a member," answered the clergyman, gravely. "On the termination of [Pg 89]this anti-rent question hangs, in my judgment, a vast amount of the future character, and much of the future destiny, of Yew York."

"I wonder, now! I'm surprised to hear you say this, Mr. Warren, for generally you're thought to be unfriendly to the movement. Sen says, however, that everything looks well, and that he believes the tenants will get their lands throughout the State before they've done with it. He tells me we shall have Injins enough this summer at Ravensnest. The visit of old Mrs. Littlepage has raised a spirit that will not easily be put down, he says."

"And why should the visit of Mrs. Littlepage to the house of her grandson, and to the house built by her own husband, and in which she passed the happiest days of her life, 'raise a spirit,' as you call it, in any one in that part of the country?"

"Oh! you're episcopal, Mr. Warren; and we all know how the Episcopals feel about such matters. But, for my part, I don't think the Littlepages are a bit better than the Newcomes, though I won't liken them to some I could name at Ravensnest; but I don't think they are any better than you, yourself; and why should they ask so much more of the law than other folks?"

"I am not aware that they do ask more of the law than others; and, if they do, I'm sure they obtain less. The law in this country is virtually administered by jurors, who take good care to graduate justice, so far as they can, by a scale suited to their own opinions, and, quite often, to their prejudices. As the last are so universally opposed to persons in Mrs. Littlepage's class in life, if there be a chance to make her suffer, it is pretty certain it will be improved."

"Sen says he can't see why he should pay rent to a Littlepage, any more than a Littlepage should pay rent to him."

"I am sorry to hear it, since there is a very sufficient reason for the former, and no reason at all for the latter. Your brother uses the land of Mr. Littlepage, and that is a reason why he should pay him rent. If the case were reversed, then, indeed, Mr. Littlepage should pay rent to your brother."

"But what reason is there that these Littlepages should [Pg 90]go on from father to son, from generation to generation, as our landlords, when we're just as good as they. It's time there was some change. Besides, only think, we've been at the mills, now, hard upon eighty years, grandpa having first settled there; and we have had them very mills, now, for three generations among us."

"High time, therefore, Opportunity, that there should be some change," put in Mary, with a demure smile.

"Oh! you're so intimate with Marthy Littlepage, I'm not surprised at anything you think or say. But reason is reason, for all that. I haven't the least grudge in the world against young Hugh Littlepage; if foreign lands haven't spoilt him, as they say they're desperate apt to do, he's an agreeable young gentleman, and I can't say that he used to think himself any better than other folks."

"I should say none of the family are justly liable to the charge of so doing," returned Mary.

"Well, I'm amazed to hear you say that, Mary Warren. To my taste, Marthy Littlepage is as disagreeable as she can be. If the anti-rent cause had nobody better than she is to oppose it, it would soon triumph."

"May I ask, Miss Newcome, what particular reason you have for so thinking?" asked Mr. Warren, who had kept his eye on the young lady the whole time she had been thus running on, with an interest that struck me as somewhat exaggerated, when one remembered the character of the speaker, and the value of her remarks.

"I think so, Mr. Warren, because everybody says so," was the answer. "If Marthy Littlepage don't think herself better than other folks, why don't she act like other folks. Nothing is good enough for her in her own conceit."

Poor little Patt, who was the very beau idéal of nature and simplicity, as nature and simplicity manifest themselves under the influence of refinement and good-breeding, was here accused of fancying herself better than this ambitious young lady, for no other reason than the fact of the little distinctive peculiarities of her air and deportment, which Opportunity had found utterly unattainable, after one or two efforts to compass them. In this very fact is the secret of a thousand of the absurdities and vices that are going up and down the land at this moment, like raging lions, seeking whom they may devour. Men often turn to their statute[Pg 91]books and constitution to find the sources of obvious evils, that, in truth, have their origin in some of the lowest passions of human nature. The entrance of Seneca at that moment, however, gave a new turn to the discourse, though it continued substantially the same. I remarked that Seneca entered with his hat on, and that he kept his head covered during most of the interview that succeeded, notwithstanding the presence of the two young ladies and the divine. As for myself, I had been so free as to remove my cap, though many might suppose it was giving myself airs, while others would have imagined it was manifesting a degree of respect to human beings that was altogether unworthy of freemen. It is getting to be a thing so particular and aristocratic to take off the hat on entering a house, that few of the humbler democrats of America now ever think of it!

As a matter of course, Opportunity upbraided her delinquent brother for not appearing sooner to act as her beau; after which, she permitted him to say a word for himself. That Seneca was in high good-humour, was easily enough to be seen; he even rubbed his hands together in the excess of his delight.

"Something has happened to please Sen," cried the sister, her own mouth on a broad grin, in her expectation of coming in for a share of the gratification. "I wish you would get him to tell us what it is, Mary; he'll tell you anything."

I cannot describe how harshly this remark grated on my nerves. The thought that Mary Warren could consent to exercise even the most distant influence over such a man as Seneca Newcome, was to the last degree unpleasant to me; and I could have wished that she would openly and indignantly repel the notion. But Mary Warren treated the whole matter very much as a person who was accustomed to such remarks would be apt to do. I cannot say that she manifested either pleasure or displeasure; but a cold indifference was, if anything, uppermost in her manner. Possibly, I should have been content with this; but I found it very difficult to be so. Seneca, however, did not wait for Miss Warren to exert her influence to induce him to talk, but appeared well enough disposed to do it of his own [Pg 92]accord.

"Something has happened to please me, I must own," he answered; "and I would as lief Mr. Warren should know what it is, as not. Things go ahead finely among us anti-renters, and we shall carry all our p'ints before long!"

"I wish I were certain no points would be carried but those that ought to be carried, Mr. Newcome," was the answer. "But what has happened, lately, to give a new aspect to the affair?"

"We're gaining strength among the politicians. Both sides are beginning to court us, and the 'spirit of the institutions' will shortly make themselves respected."

"I am delighted to hear that! It is in the intention of the institutions to repress covetousness, and uncharitableness, and all frauds, and to do nothing but what is right," observed Mr. Warren.

"Ah! here comes my friend the travelling jeweller," said Seneca, interrupting the clergyman, in order to salute my uncle, who at that instant showed himself in the door of the room, cap in hand. "Walk in, Mr. Dafidson, since that is your name: Rev. Mr. Warren—Miss Mary Warren—Miss Opportunity Newcome, my sister, who will be glad to look at your wares. The cars will be detained on some special business, and we have plenty of time before us."

All this was done with a coolness and indifference of manner which went to show that Seneca had no scruples whatever on the subject of whom he introduced to any one. As for my uncle, accustomed to these free and easy manners, and probably not absolutely conscious of the figure he cut in his disguise, he bowed rather too much like a gentleman for one of his present calling, though my previous explanation of our own connexion and fallen fortunes had luckily prepared the way for this deportment.

"Come in, Mr. Dafidson, and open your box—my sister may fancy some of your trinkets; I never knew a girl that didn't."

The imaginary pedlar entered, and placed his box on a table near which I was standing, the whole party immediately gathering around it. My presence had attracted no particular attention from either Seneca or his sister, the room being public, and my connexion with the vender of [Pg 93]trinkets known. In the mean time, Seneca was too full of his good news to let the subject drop; while the watches, rings, chains, brooches, bracelets, &c. &c., were passed under examination.

"Yes, Mr. Warren, I trust we are about to have a complete development of the spirit of our institutions, and that in futur' there will be no privileged classes in New York, at least."

"The last will certainly be a great gain, sir," the divine coldly answered. "Hitherto, those who have most suppressed the truth, and who have most contributed to the circulation of flattering falsehoods, have had undue advantages in America."

Seneca, obviously enough, did not like this sentiment; but I thought, by his manner, that he was somewhat accustomed to meeting with such rebuffs from Mr. Warren.

"I suppose you will admit there are privileged classes now among us, Mr. Warren?"

"I am ready enough to allow that, sir; it is too plain to be denied."

"Wa-all, I should like to hear you p'int 'em out; that I might see if we agree in our sentiments."

"Demagogues are a highly privileged class. The editors of newspapers are another highly privileged class; doing things, daily and hourly, which set all law and justice at defiance, and invading, with perfect impunity, the most precious rights of their fellow-citizens. The power of both is enormous; and, as in all cases of great and irresponsible power, both enormously abuse it."

"Wa-all, that's not my way of thinking at all. In my judgment, the privileged classes in this country are your patroons and your landlords; men that's not satisfied with a reasonable quantity of land, but who wish to hold more than the rest of their fellow-creatur's."

"I am not aware of a single privilege that any patroon—of whom, by the way, there no longer exists one, except in name—or any landlord, possesses over any one of his fellow-citizens."

"Do you call it no privilege for a man to hold all the land there may happen to be in a township? I call that a great privilege; and such as no man should have in a free [Pg 94]country. Other people want land as well as your Van Renssalaers and Littlepages; and other people mean to have it, too."

"On that principle, every man who owns more of any one thing than his neighbour is privileged. Even I, poor as I am, and am believed to be, am privileged over you, Mr. Newcome. I own a cassock, and have two gowns, one old and one new, and various other things of the sort, of which you have not one. What is more, I am privileged in another sense; since I can wear my cassock and gown, and bands, and do wear them often; whereas you cannot wear one of them all without making yourself laughed at."

"Oh! but them are not privileges I care anything about; if I did I would put on the things, as the law does not prohibit it."

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Newcome; the law does prohibit you from wearing my cassock and gown contrary to my wishes."

"Wa-all, wa-all, Mr. Warren; we never shall quarrel about that; I don't desire to wear your cassack and gown."

"I understand you, then; it is only the things that you desire to use that you deem it a privilege for the law to leave me."

"I am afraid we shall never agree, Mr. Warren, about this anti-rent business; and I'm very sorry for it, as I wish particularly to think as you do," glancing his eye most profanely towards Mary as he spoke. "I am for the movement-principle, while you are too much for the stand-still doctrine."

"I am certainly for remaining stationary, Mr. Newcome, if progress mean taking away the property of old and long established families in the country, to give it to those whose names are not to be found in our history; or, indeed, to give it to any but those to whom it rightfully belongs."

"We shall never agree, my dear sir, we shall never agree;" then, turning towards my uncle with the air of superiority that the vulgar so easily assume—"What do you say to all this, friend Dafidson—are you up-rent or down-rent?"

"Ja, mynheer," was the quiet answer; "I always downs mit der rent vens I leave a house or a garten. It is goot to [Pg 95] pay de debts; ja, it ist herr goot."

This answer caused the clergyman and his daughter to smile, while Opportunity laughed outright.

"You won't make much of your Dutch friend, Sen," cried this buoyant young lady; "he says you ought to keep on paying rent!"

"I apprehend Mr. Dafidson does not exactly understand the case," answered Seneca, who was a good deal disconcerted, but was bent on maintaining his point. "I have understood you to say that you are a man of liberal principles, Mr. Dafidson, and that you've come to America to enjoy the light of intelligence and the benefits of a free government."

"Ja; ven I might coome to America, I say, vell, dat 'tis a goot coontry, vhere an honest man might haf vhat he 'arns, ant keep it, too. Ja, ja! dat ist vhat I say, ant vhat I dinks."

"I understand you, sir; you come from a part of the world where the nobles eat up the fat of the land, taking the poor man's share as well as his own, to live in a country where the law is, or soon will be, so equal that no citizen will dare to talk about his estates, and hurt the feelin's of such as haven't got any."

My uncle so well affected an innocent perplexity at the drift of this remark as to make me smile, in spite of an effort to conceal it. Mary Warren saw that smile, and another glance of intelligence was exchanged between us; though the young lady immediately withdrew her look, a little consciously and with a slight blush.

"I say that you like equal laws and equal privileges, friend Dafidson," continued Seneca, with emphasis; "and that you have seen too much of the evils of nobility and of feudal oppression in the old world, to wish to fall in with them in the new."

"Der nobles ant der feudal privileges ist no goot," answered the trinket-pedlar, shaking his head with an appearance of great distaste.

"Ay, I knew it would be so; you see, Mr. Warren, no man who has ever lived under a feudal system can ever feel otherwise."

"But what have we to do with feudal systems, Mr. Newcome? [Pg 96]and what is there in common between the landlords of New York and the nobles of Europe, and between their leases and feudal tenures?"

"What is there? A vast deal too much, sir, take my word for it. Do not our very governors, even while ruthlessly calling on one citizen to murder another——"

"Nay, nay, Mr. Newcome," interrupted Mary Warren, laughing, "the governors call on the citizens not to murder each other."

"I understand you, Miss Mary; but we shall make anti-renters of you both before we are done. Surely, sir, there is a great deal too much resemblance between the nobles of Europe and our landlords, when the honest and free-born tenants of the last are obliged to pay tribute for permission to live on the very land that they till, and which they cause to bring forth its increase."

"But men who are not noble let their lands in Europe; nay, the very serfs, as they become free and obtain riches, buy lands and let them, in some parts of the old world, as I, have heard and read."

"All feudal, sir. The whole system is pernicious and feudal, serf or no serf."

"But, Mr. Newcome," said Mary Warren, quietly, though with a sort of demure irony in her manner that said she was not without humour, and understood herself very well, "even you let your land—land that you lease, too, and which you do not own, except as you hire it from Mr. Littlepage."

Seneca gave a hem, and was evidently disconcerted; but he had too much of the game of the true progressive movement—which merely means to lead in changes, though they may lead to the devil—to give the matter up. Repeating the hem, more to clear his brain than to clear his throat, he hit upon his answer, and brought it out with something very like triumph.

"That is one of the evils of the present system, Miss Mary. Did I own the two or three fields you mean, and to attend to which I have no leisure, I might sell them; but now, it is impossible, since I can give no deed. The instant my poor uncle dies—and he can't survive a week, being, as you must know, nearly gone—the whole property, mills, tavern, farms, timber-lot and all, fall in to young Hugh Littlepage, [Pg 97]who is off frolicking in Europe, doing no good to himself or others, I'll venture to say, if the truth were known. That is another of the hardships of the feudal system; it enables one man to travel in idleness, wasting his substance in foreign lands, while it keeps another at home, at the plough-handles and the cart-tail."

"And why do you suppose Mr. Hugh Littlepage wastes his substance, and is doing himself and country no good in foreign lands, Mr. Newcome? That is not at all the character I hear of him, nor is it the result that I expect to see from his travels."

"The money he spends in Europe might do a vast deal of good at Ravensnest, sir."

"For my part, my dear sir," put in Mary again, in her quiet but pungent way, "I think it remarkable that neither of our late governors has seen fit to enumerate the facts just mentioned by Mr. Newcome among those that are opposed to the spirit of the institutions. It is, indeed, a great hardship that Mr. Seneca Newcome cannot sell Mr. Hugh Littlepage's land."

"I complain less of that," cried Seneca, a little hastily, "than of the circumstance that all my rights in the property must go with the death of my uncle. That, at least, even you, Miss Mary, must admit is a great hardship."

"If your uncle were unexpectedly to revive, and live twenty years, Mr. Newcome——"

"No, no, Miss Mary," answered Seneca, shaking his head in a melancholy manner; "that is absolutely impossible. It would not surprise me to find him dead and buried on our return."

"But, admit that you may be mistaken, and that your lease should continue—you would still have a rent to pay?"

"Of that I wouldn't complain in the least. If Mr. Dunning, Littlepage's agent, will just promise, in as much as half a sentence, that we can get a new lease on the old terms, I'd not say a syllable about it."

"Well, here is one proof that the system has its advantages!" exclaimed Mr. Warren, cheerfully. "I'm delighted to hear you say this; for it is something to have a class of men among us whose simple promises, in a matter of money, have so much value! It is to be hoped that their example [Pg 98]will not be lost."

"Mr. Newcome has made an admission I am also glad to hear," added Mary, as soon as her father had done speaking. "His willingness to accept a new lease on the old terms is a proof that he has been living under a good bargain for himself hitherto, and that down to the present moment he has been the obliged party."

This was very simply said, but it bothered Seneca amazingly. As for myself, I was delighted with it, and could have kissed the pretty, arch creature who had just uttered the remark; though I will own that as much might have been done without any great reluctance, had she even held her tongue. As for Seneca, he did what most men are apt to do when they have the consciousness of not appearing particularly well in a given point of view he endeavoured to present himself to the eyes of his companions in another.

"There is one thing, Mr. Warren, that I think you will admit ought not to be," he cried, exultingly, "whatever Miss Mary thinks about it; and that is, that the Littlepage pew in your church ought to come down."

"I will not say that much, Mr. Newcome, though I rather think my daughter will. I believe, my dear, you are of Mr. Newcome's way of thinking in respect to this canopied pew, and also in respect to the old hatchments?"

"I wish neither was in the church," answered Mary, in a low voice.

From that moment I was fully resolved neither should be, as soon as I got into a situation to control the matter.

"In that I agree with you entirely, my child," resumed the clergyman; "and were it not for this movement connected with the rents, and the false principles that have been so boldly announced of late years, I might have taken on myself the authority, as rector, to remove the hatchments. Even according to the laws connected with the use of such things, they should have been taken away a generation or two back. As to the pew, it is a different matter. It is private property; was constructed with the church, which was built itself by the joint liberality of the Littlepages and mother Trinity; and it would be a most ungracious act to undertake to destroy it under such circumstances, and more [Pg 99]especially in the absence of its owner."

"You agree, however, that it ought not to be there?" asked Seneca, with exultation.

"I wish with all my heart it were not. I dislike every thing like worldly distinction in the house of God; and heraldic emblems, in particular, seem to me very much out of place where the cross is seen to be in its proper place."

"Wa-all, now, Mr. Warren, I can't say I much fancy crosses about churches either. What's the use in raising vain distinctions of any sort. A church is but a house, after all, and ought so to be regarded."

"True," said Mary, firmly; "but the house of God."

"Yes, yes, we all know, Miss Mary, that you Episcopalians look more at outward things, and more respect outward things, than most of the other denominations of the country."

"Do you call leases 'outward things,' Mr. Newcome?" asked Mary, archly; "and contracts, and bargains, and promises, and the rights of property, and the obligation to 'do as you would be done by?'"

"Law! good folks," cried Opportunity, who had been all this time tumbling over the trinkets, "I wish it was 'down with the rent' for ever, with all my heart; and that not another word might ever be said on the subject. Here is one of the prettiest pencils, Mary, I ever did see; and its price is only four dollars. I wish, Sen, you'd let the rent alone, and make me a present of this very pencil."

As this was an act of which Seneca had not the least intention of being guilty, he merely shifted his hat from one side of his head to the other, began to whistle, and then he coolly left the room. My uncle Ro profited by the occasion to beg Miss Opportunity would do him the honour to accept the pencil as an offering from himself.

"You an't surely in earnest!" exclaimed Opportunity, flushing up with surprise and pleasure. "Why, you told me the price was four dollars; and even that seems to me desperate little!"

"Dat ist de price to anudder," said the gallant trinket-dealer; "but dat ist not de price to you, Miss Opportunity. Ve shall trafel togedder; ant vhen ve gets to your coontry, you vill dell me de best houses vhere I might go mit my [Pg 100]vatches ant drinkets."

"That I will; and get you in at the Nest House, in the bargain," cried Opportunity, pocketing the pencil without further parley.

In the mean time my uncle selected a very neat seal, the handsomest he had, being of pure metal, and having a real topaz in it, and offered it to Mary Warren, with his best bow. I watched the clergyman's daughter with anxiety, as I witnessed the progress of this galantérie, doubting and hoping at each change of the ingenuous and beautiful countenance of her to whom the offering was made. Mary coloured, smiled, seemed embarrassed, and, as I feared, for a single moment doubting; but I must have been mistaken, as she drew back, and, in the sweetest manner possible, declined to accept the present. I saw that Opportunity's having just adopted a different course added very much to her embarrassment, as otherwise she might have said something to lessen the seeming ungraciousness of the refusal. Luckily for herself, however, she had a gentleman to deal with, instead of one in the station that my uncle Ro had voluntarily assumed. When this offering was made, the pretended pedlar was ignorant altogether of the true characters of the clergyman and his daughter, not even knowing that he saw the rector of St. Andrew's, Ravensnest. But the manner of Mary at once disabused him of an error into which he had fallen through her association with Opportunity, and he now drew back himself with perfect tact, bowing and apologizing in a way that I thought must certainly betray his disguise. It did not, however; for Mr. Warren, with a smile that denoted equally satisfaction at his daughter's conduct, and a grateful sense of the other's intended liberality, but with a simplicity that was of proof, turned to me and begged a tune on the flute which I had drawn from my pocket and was holding in my hand, as expecting some such invitation.

If I have any accomplishment, it is connected with music; and particularly with the management of the flute. On this occasion I was not at all backward about showing off, and I executed two or three airs, from the best masters, with as much care as if I had been playing to a salon in one of the best quarters of Paris. I could see that Mary and her father [Pg 101]were both surprised at the execution, and that the first was delighted. We had a most agreeable quarter of an hour together; and might have had two, had not Opportunity—who was certainly well named, being apropos of everything—began of her own accord to sing, though not without inviting Mary to join her. As the latter declined this public exhibition, as well as my uncle Ro's offering, Seneca's sister had it all to herself; and she sang no less than three songs, in quick succession, and altogether unasked. I shall not stop to characterize the music or the words of these songs, any further than to say they were all, more or less, of the Jim Crow school, and executed in a way that did them ample justice.

As it was understood that we were all to travel in the same train, the interview lasted until we were ready to proceed; nor did it absolutely terminate then. As Mary and Opportunity sat together, Mr. Warren asked me to share his seat, regardless of the hurdy-gurdy; though my attire, in addition to its being perfectly new and neat, was by no means of the mean character that it is usual to see adorning street-music in general. On the whole, so long as the instrument was not en evidence, I might not have seemed very much out of place seated at Mr. Warren's side. In this manner we proceeded to Saratoga, my uncle keeping up a private discourse the whole way with Seneca, on matters connected with the rent movement.

As for the divine and myself, we had also much interesting talk together. I was questioned about Europe in general and Germany in particular; and had reason to think my answers gave surprise as well as satisfaction. It was not an easy matter to preserve the Doric of my assumed dialect, though practice and fear contributed their share to render me content to resort to it. I made many mistakes, of course, but my listeners were not the persons to discover them. I say my listeners, for I soon ascertained that Mary Warren, who sat on the seat directly before us, was a profoundly attentive listener to all that passed. This circumstance did not render me the less communicative, though it did increase the desire I felt to render what I said worthy of such a listener. As for Opportunity, she read a newspaper a little while,[Pg 102] munched an apple a very little while, and slept the rest of the way. But the journey between modern Troy and Saratoga is not a long one, and was soon accomplished.


"I will tell you;
If you'll bestow a small (of what you have little),
Patience, a while, you'll hear the belly's answer."

Menenius Agrippa.

At the springs we parted, Mr. Warren and his friends finding a conveyance, with their own horses, in readiness to carry them the remainder of the distance. As for my uncle and myself, it was understood that we were to get on in the best manner we could, it being expected that we should reach Ravensnest in the course of a day or two. According to the theory of our new business, we ought to travel on foot, but we had a reservation in petto that promised us also the relief of a comfortable wagon of some sort or other.

"Well," said my uncle, the moment we had got far enough from our new acquaintances to be out of ear-shot, "I must say one thing in behalf of Mr. Seneky, as he calls himself, or Sen, as his elegant sister calls him, and that is, that I believe him to be one of the biggest scoundrels the state holds."

"This is not drawing his character en beau," I answered, laughing. "But why do you come out so decidedly upon him at this particular moment?"

"Because this particular moment happens to be the first in which I have had an opportunity to say anything since I have known the rascal. You must have remarked that the fellow held me in discourse from the time we left Troy until we stopped here."

"Certainly; I could see that his tongue was in motion [Pg 103]unceasingly: what he said, I have to conjecture."

"He said enough to lay bare his whole character. Our subject was anti-rent, which he commenced with a view to explain it to a foreigner; but I managed to lead him on, step by step, until he let me into all his notions and expectations on the subject. Why, Hugh, the villain actually proposed that you and I should enlist, and turn ourselves into two of the rascally mock redskins."

"Enlist! Do they still persevere so far as to keep up that organization, in the very teeth of the late law?"

"The law! What do two or three thousand voters care for any penal law, in a country like this? Who is to enforce the law against them? Did they commit murder, and were they even convicted, as might happen under the excitement of such a crime, they very well know nobody would be hanged. Honesty is always too passive in matters that do not immediately press on its direct interests. It is for the interest of every honest man in the State to set his face against this anti-rent movement, and to do all he can, by his vote and influence, to put it down into the dirt, out of which it sprang, and into which it should be crushed; but not one in a hundred, even of those who condemn it toto cælo, will go a foot out of their way even to impede its progress. All depends on those who have the power; and they will exert that power so as to conciliate the active rogue, rather than protect the honest man. You are to remember that the laws are executed here on the principle that 'what is everybody's business is nobody's business.'"

"You surely do not believe that the authorities will wink at an open violation of the laws!"

"That will depend on the characters of individuals; most will, but some will not. You and I would be punished soon enough, were there a chance, but the mass would escape. Oh! we have had some precious disclosures in our corner of the car! The two or three men who joined Newcome are from anti-rent districts, and seeing me with their friend, little reserve has been practised. One of those men is an anti-rent lecturer; and, being somewhat didactic, he favoured me with some of his arguments, seriatim."

"How! Have they got to lectures? I should have supposed the newspapers would have been the means of circulating [Pg 104]their ideas."

"Oh, the newspapers, like hogs swimming too freely, have cut their own throats; and it seems to be fashionable, just at this moment, not to believe them. Lecturing is the great moral lever of the nation at present."

"But a man can lie in a lecture, as well as in a newspaper."

"Out of all question; and if many of the lecturers are of the school of this Mr. Holmes—'Lecturer Holmes,' as Seneca called him—but, if many are of his school, a pretty set of liberty-takers with the truth must they be."

"You detected him, then, in some of these liberties?"

"In a hundred: nothing was easier than for a man in my situation to do that; knowing, as I did, so much of the history of the land-titles of the State. One of his arguments partakes so largely of the weak side of our system, that I must give it to you. He spoke of the gravity of the disturbances—of the importance to the peace and character of the State of putting an end to them; and then, by way of corollary to his proposition, produced a scheme for changing the titles, in order to satisfy the people!"

"The people, of course, meaning the tenants; the landlords and their rights passing for nothing."

"That is one beautiful feature of the morality—an eye, or a cheek, if you will—but here is the nose, and highly Roman it is. A certain portion of the community wish to get rid of the obligations of their contracts; and finding it cannot be done by law, they resort to means that are opposed to all law, in order to effect their purposes. Public law-breakers, violators of the public peace, they make use of their own wrong as an argument for perpetuating another that can be perpetuated in no other way. I have been looking over some of the papers containing proclamations, &c., and find that both law-makers and law-breakers are of one mind as to this charming policy. Without a single manly effort to put down the atrocious wrong that is meditated, the existence of the wrong itself is made an argument for meeting it with concessions, and thus sustaining it. Instead of using the means the institutions have provided for putting down all such unjust and illegal combinations, the combinations are a sufficient reason of themselves why the laws should be altered, and wrong be done to a few, in order that [Pg 105]many may be propitiated, and their votes secured."

"This is reasoning that can be used only where real grievances exist. But there are no real grievances in the case of the tenants. They may mystify weak heads in the instance of the Manor leases, with their quarter sales, fat hens, loads of wood and days' works; but my leases are all on three lives, with rent payable in money, and with none of the conditions that are called feudal, though no more feudal than any other bargain to pay articles in kind. One might just as well call a bargain made by a butcher to deliver pork for a series of years feudal. However, feudal or not, my leases, and those of most other landlords, are running on lives; and yet, by what I can learn, the discontent is general; and the men who have solemnly bargained to give up their farms at the expiration of the lives are just as warm for the 'down-rent' and titles in fee, as the Manor tenants themselves! They say that the obligations given for actual purchases are beginning to be discredited."

"You are quite right; and there is one of the frauds practised on the world at large. In the public documents, only the Manor leases, with their pretended feudal covenants and their perpetuity, are kept in view, while the combination goes to all leases, or nearly all, and certainly to all sorts of leases, where the estates are of sufficient extent to allow of the tenants to make head against the landlords. I dare say there are hundreds of tenants, even on the property of the Renssalaers, who are honest enough to be willing to comply with their contracts if the conspirators would let them; but the rapacious spirit is abroad among the occupants of other lands, as well as among the occupants of theirs, and the government considers its existence a proof that concessions should be made. The discontented must be appeased, right or not!"

"Did Seneca say anything on the subject of his own interests?"

"He did; not so much in conversation with me, as in the discourse he held with 'Lecturer Holmes.' I listened attentively, happening to be familiar, through tradition and through personal knowledge, with all the leading facts of the case. As you will soon be called on to act in that matter for yourself, I may as well relate them to you. They will serve, also, as guides to the moral merits of the occu[Pg 106]pation of half the farms on your estate. These are things, moreover, you would never know by public statements, since all the good bargains are smothered in silence, while those that may possibly have been a little unfavourable to the tenant are proclaimed far and near. It is quite possible that, among the many thousands of leased farms that are to be found in the State, some bad bargains may have been made by the tenants; but what sort of a government is that which should undertake to redress evils of this nature? If either of the Renssalaers, or you yourself, were to venture to send a memorial to the Legislature setting forth the grievances you labour under in connection with this very 'mill-lot'—and serious losses do they bring to you, let me tell you, though grievances, in the proper sense of the term, they are not—you and your memorial would be met with a general and merited shout of ridicule and derision. One man has no rights, as opposed to a dozen."

"So much difference is there between 'de la Rochefocauld et de la Rochefoucauld.'"

"All the difference in the world: but let me give you the facts, for they will serve as a rule by which to judge of many others. In the first place, my great-grandfather Mordaunt, the 'patentee,' as he was called, first let the mill-lot to the grandfather of this Seneca, the tenant then being quite a young man. In order to obtain settlers, in that early day, it was necessary to give them great advantages, for there was vastly more land than there were people to work it. The first lease, therefore, was granted on highly advantageous terms to that Jason Newcome, whom I can just remember. He had two characters; the one, and the true, which set him down as a covetous, envious, narrow-minded provincial, who was full of cant and roguery. Some traditions exist among us of his having been detected in stealing timber, and in various other frauds. In public he is one of those virtuous and hard-working pioneers who have transmitted to their descendants all their claims, those that are supposed to be moral, as well as those that are known to be legal. This flummery may do for elderly ladies, who affect snuff and bohea, and for some men who have minds of the same calibre, but they are not circumstances to influence [Pg 107]such legislators and executives as are fit to be legislators and executives. Not a great while before my father's marriage, the said Jason still living and in possession, the lease expired, and a new one was granted for three lives, or twenty-one years certain, of which one of the lives is still running. That lease was granted, on terms highly favourable to the tenant, sixty years since, old Newcome, luckily for himself and his posterity, having named this long-lived son as one of his three lives. Now Seneky, God bless him! is known to lease a few of the lots that have fallen to his share of the property for more money than is required to meet all your rent on the whole. Such, in effect, has been the fact with that mill-lot for the last thirty years, or even longer; and the circumstance of the great length of time so excellent a bargain has existed, is used as an argument why the Newcomes ought to have a deed of the property for a nominal price; or, indeed, for no price at all, if the tenants could have their wishes."

"I am afraid there is nothing unnatural in thus perverting principles; half mankind appear to me really to get a great many of their notions dessus dessous."

"Half is a small proportion; as you will find, my boy, when you grow older. But was it not an impudent proposal of Seneca, when he wished you and me to join the corps of 'Injins?'"

"What answer did you make? Though I suppose it would hardly do for us to go disguised and armed, now that the law makes it a felony, even while our motive, at the bottom, might be to aid the law."

"Catch me at that act of folly! Why, Hugh, could they prove such a crime on either of us, or any one connected with an old landed family, we should be the certain victims. No governor would dare pardon us. No, no; clemency is a word reserved for the obvious and confirmed rogues."

"We might get a little favour on the score of belonging to a very powerful body of offenders."

"True; I forgot that circumstance. The more numerous the crimes and the criminals, the greater the probability of impunity; and this, too, not on the general principle that power cannot be resisted, but on the particular principle [Pg 108]that a thousand or two votes are of vast importance, where three thousand can turn an election. God only knows where this thing is to end!"

We now approached one of the humbler taverns of the place, where it was necessary for those of our apparent pretensions to seek lodgings, and the discourse was dropped. It was several weeks too early in the season for the Springs to be frequented, and we found only a few of those in the place who drank the waters because they really required them. My uncle had been an old stager at Saratoga—a beau of the "purest water," as he laughingly described himself—and he was enabled to explain all that it was necessary for me to know. An American watering-place, however, is so very much inferior to most of those in Europe, as to furnish very little, in their best moments, beyond the human beings they contain, to attract the attention of the traveller.

In the course of the afternoon we availed ourselves of the opportunity of a return vehicle to go as far as Sandy Hill, where we passed the night. The next morning, bright and early, we got into a hired wagon and drove across the country until near night, when we paid for our passage, sent the vehicle back, and sought a tavern. At this house, where we passed the night, we heard a good deal of the "Injins" having made their appearance on the Littlepage lands, and many conjectures as to the probable result. We were in a township, or rather on a property that was called Mooseridge, and which had once belonged to us, but which, having been sold, and in a great measure paid for by the occupants, no one thought of impairing the force of the covenants under which the parties held. The most trivial observer will soon discover that it is only when something is to be gained that the aggrieved citizen wishes to disturb a covenant. Now, I never heard any one say a syllable against either of the covenants of his lease under which he held his farm, let him be ever so loud against those which would shortly compel him to give it up! Had I complained of the fact—and such facts abounded—that my predecessors had incautiously let farms at such low prices that the lessees had been enabled to pay the rents for half a century by subletting small portions [Pg 109]of them, as my uncle Ro had intimated, I should be pointed at as a fool. "Stick to your bond" would have been the cry, and "Shylock" would have been forgotten. I do not say that there is not a vast difference between the means of acquiring intelligence, the cultivation, the manners, the social conditions, and, in some senses, the social obligations of an affluent landlord and a really hard-working, honest, well-intentioned husbandman, his tenant—differences that should dispose the liberal and cultivated gentleman to bear in mind the advantages he has perhaps inherited, and not acquired by his own means, in such a way as to render him, in a certain degree, the repository of the interests of those who hold under him; but, while I admit all this, and say that the community which does not possess such a class of men is to be pitied, as it loses one of the most certain means of liberalizing and enlarging its notions, and of improving its civilization, I am far from thinking that the men of this class are to have their real superiority of position, with its consequences, thrown into their faces only when they are expected to give, while they are grudgingly denied it on all other occasions! There is nothing so likely to advance the habits, opinions, and true interests of a rural population, as to have them all directed by the intelligence and combined interests that ought to mark the connection between landlord and tenant. It may do for one class of political economists to prate about a state of things which supposes every husbandman a freeholder, and rich enough to maintain his level among the other freeholders of the State. But we all know that as many minute gradations in means must and do exist in a community, as there exists gradations in characters. A majority soon will, in the nature of things, be below the level of the freeholder, and by destroying the system of having landlords and tenants, two great evils are created—the one preventing men of large fortunes from investing in lands, as no man will place his money where it will be insecure or profitless, thereby cutting off real estate generally from the benefits that might be and would be conferred by their capital, as well as cutting it off from the benefits of the increased price which arise from having such buyers in the market; and the other is, to prevent any man from being a husbandman who has not the [Pg 110]money necessary to purchase a farm. But they who want farms now, and they who will want votes next November, do not look quite so far ahead as that, while shouting "equal rights," they are, in fact, for preventing the poor husbandman from being anything but a day-labourer.

We obtained tolerably decent lodgings at our inn, though the profoundest patriot America possesses, if he know anything of other countries, or of the best materials of his own, cannot say much in favour of the sleeping arrangements of an ordinary country inn. The same money and the same trouble would render that which is now the very beau idéal of discomfort, at least tolerable, and in many instances good. But who is to produce this reform? According to the opinions circulated among us, the humblest hamlet we have has already attained the highest point of civilization; and as for the people, without distinction of classes, it is universally admitted that they are the best educated, the acutest, and the most intelligent in Christendom;—no, I must correct myself; they are all this, except when they are in the act of leasing lands, and then the innocent and illiterate husbandmen are [Pg 111]the victims of the arts of designing landlords, the wretches![1]

We passed an hour on the piazza, after eating our supper, and there being a collection of men assembled there, inhabitants of the hamlet, we had an opportunity to get into communication with them. My uncle sold a watch, and I played on the hurdy-gurdy, by way of making myself popular. After this beginning, the discourse turned on the engrossing subject of the day, anti-rentism. The principal speaker was a young man of about six-and-twenty, of a sort of shabby genteel air and appearance, whom I soon discovered to be the attorney of the neighbourhood. His name was Hubbard, while that of the other principal speaker was Hall. The last was a mechanic, as I ascertained, and was a plain-looking working-man of middle age. Each of these persons seated himself on a common "kitchen chair," leaning back against the side of the house, and, of course, resting on the two hind legs of the rickety support, while he placed his own feet on the rounds in front. The attitudes were neither graceful nor picturesque, but they were so entirely common as to excite no surprise. As for Hall, he appeared perfectly contented with his situation, after fidgeting a little to get the two supporting legs of his chair just where he wanted them; but Hubbard's eye was restless, uneasy, and even menacing, for more than a minute. He drew a knife from his pocket—a small, neat pen-knife only, it is true—gazed a little wildly about him, and just as I thought he intended to abandon his nicely poised chair, and to make an assault on one of the pillars that upheld the roof of the piazza, the innkeeper advanced, holding in his hand several narrow slips of pine board, one of which he offered at once to 'Squire Hubbard. This relieved the attorney, who took the wood, and was soon deeply plunged in, to me, the unknown delights of whittling. I cannot explain the mysterious pleasure that so many find in whittling, though the prevalence of the custom is so well known. But I cannot explain the pleasure so many find in chewing tobacco, or in smoking. The precaution of the landlord was far from being unnecessary, and appeared to be taken in good part by all to whom he offered "whittling-pieces," some six or eight in the whole. The state of the piazza, indeed, proved that the precaution was absolutely indispensable, if he did [Pg 112]not wish to see the house come tumbling down about his head. In order that those who have never seen such thing may understand their use, I will go a little out of the way to explain.

The inn was of wood, a hemlock frame with a "siding" of clap-boards. In this there was nothing remarkable, many countries of Europe, even, still building principally of wood. Houses of lath and plaster were quite common, until within a few years, even in large towns. I remember to have seen some of these constructions, while in London, in close connection with the justly celebrated Westminster Hall; and of such materials is the much-talked-of miniature castle of Horace Walpole, at Strawberry Hill. But the inn of Mooseridge had some pretensions to architecture, besides being three or four times larger than any other house in the place. A piazza it enjoyed, of course; it must be a pitiful village inn that does not: and building, accessaries and all, rejoiced in several coats of a spurious white lead. The columns of this piazza, as well as the clap-boards of the house itself however, exhibited the proofs of the danger of abandoning your true whittler to his own instincts. Spread-eagles, five points, American flags, huzzahs for Polk! the initials of names, and names at full length, with various other similar conceits, records, and ebullitions of patriotic or party-otic feelings, were scattered up and down with an affluence the said volumes in favour of the mint in which they had been coined. But the most remarkable memorial of the industry of the guests was to be found on one of the columns; and it was one at a corner, too, and consequently of double importance to the superstructure—unless, indeed, the house were built on that well-known principle of American architecture of the last century, which made the architrave uphold the pillar, instead of the pillar the architrave. The column in question was of white pine, as usual—though latterly, in brick edifices, bricks and stucco are much resorted to—and, at a convenient height for the whittlers, it was literally cut two-thirds in two. The gash was very neatly made—that much must be said for it—indicating skill and attention; and the surfaces of the wound were smoothed in a manner to prove that appearances were not neglected.

"Vat do das?" I asked of the landlord, pointing to this [Pg 113]gaping wound in the main column of his piazza.

"That! Oh! That's only the whittlers," answered the host, with a good-natural smile.

Assuredly the Americans are the best-natured people on earth! Here was a man whose house was nearly tumbling down about his ears—always bating the principle in architecture just named—and he could smile as Nero may be supposed to have done when fiddling over the conflagration of Rome.

"But vhy might de vhittler vhittle down your house?"

"Oh! this is a free country, you know, and folks do pretty much as they like in it," returned the still smiling host. "I let 'em cut away as long as I dared, but it was high time to get out 'whittling-pieces' I believe you must own. It's best always to keep a ruff (roof) over a man's head, to be ready for bad weather. A week longer would have had the column in two."

"Vell, I dinks I might not bear dat! Vhat ist mein house ist mein house, ant dey shall not so moch vittles."

"By letting 'em so much vittles there, they so much vittles in the kitchen; so you see there is policy in having your under-pinnin' knocked away sometimes, if it's done by the right sort of folks."

"You're a stranger in these parts, friend?" observed Hubbard, complacently, for by this time his "whittling-piece" was reduced to a shape, and he could go on reducing it, according to some law of the art of whittling, with which I am not acquainted. "We are not so particular in such matters as in some of your countries in the old world."

"Ja—das I can see. But does not woot ant column cost money in America, someding?"

"To be sure it does. There is not a man in the country who would undertake to replace that pillar with a new one, paint and all, for less than ten dollars."

This was an opening for a discussion on the probable cost of putting a new pillar into the place of the one that was injured. Opinions differed, and quite a dozen spoke on the subject; some placing the expense as high as fifteen dollars, and others bringing it down as low as five. I was struck with the quiet and self-possession with which each man delivered his opinion, as well as with the language used. The [Pg 114]accent was uniformly provincial, that of Hubbard included, having a strong and unpleasant taint of the dialect of New England in it; and some of the expressions savoured a little of the stilts of the newspapers; but, on the whole, the language was sufficiently accurate and surprisingly good, considering the class in life of the speakers. The conjectures, too, manifested great shrewdness and familiarity with practical things, as well as, in a few instances, some reading. Hall, however, actually surprised me. He spoke with a precision and knowledge of mechanics that would have done credit to a scholar, and with a simplicity that added to the influence of what he said. Some casual remark induced me to put in—"Vell, I might s'pose an Injin voult cut so das column, but I might not s'pose a vhite man could." This opinion gave the discourse a direction towards anti-rentism, and in a few minutes it caught all the attention of my uncle Ro and myself.

"This business is going ahead after all!" observed Hubbard, evasively, after others had had their say.

"More's the pity," put in Hall. "It might have been put an end to in a month, at any time, and ought to be put an end to in a civilized land."

"You will own, neighbour Hall, notwithstanding, it would be a great improvement in the condition of the tenants all over the State, could they change their tenures into freeholds."

"No doubt 't would; and so it would be a great improvement in the condition of any journeyman in my shop if he could get to be the boss. But that is not the question here, the question is, what right has the State to say any man shall sell his property unless he wishes to sell it? A pretty sort of liberty we should have if we all held our houses and gardens under such laws as that supposes!"

"But do we not all hold our houses and gardens, and farms, too, by some such law?" rejoined the attorney, who evidently respected his antagonist, and advanced his own opinions cautiously. "If the public wants land to use, it can take it by paying for it."

"Yes, to use; but use is everything. I've read that old report of the committee of the House, and don't subscribe to its doctrines at all. Public 'policy,' in that sense, doesn't [Pg 115]at all mean public 'use.' If land is wanted for a road, or a fort, or a canal, it must be taken, under a law, by appraisement, or the thing could not be had at all; but to pretend, because one side to a contract wishes to alter it, that the State has a right to interfere, on the ground that the discontented can be bought off in this way easier and cheaper than they can be made to obey the laws, is but a poor way of supporting the right. The same principle, carried out, might prove it would be easier to buy off pickpockets by compromising than to punish them. Or it would be easy to get round all sorts of contracts in this way."

"But all governments use this power when it becomes necessary, neighbour Hall."

"That word necessary covers a great deal of ground, 'Squire Hubbard. The most that can be made of the necessity here is to say it is cheaper, and may help along parties to their objects better. No man doubts that the State of New York can put down these anti-renters; and, I trust, will put them down, so far as force is concerned. There is, then, no other necessity in the case, to begin with, than the necessity which demagogues always feel, of getting as many votes as they can."

"After all, neighbour Hall, these votes are pretty powerful weapons in a popular government."

"I'll not deny that; and now they talk of a convention to alter the constitution, it is a favourable moment to teach such managers they shall not abuse the right of suffrage in this way."

"How is it to be prevented? You are an universal suffrage man, I know?"

"Yes, I'm for universal suffrage among honest folks; but do not wish to have my rulers chosen by them that are never satisfied without having their hands in their neighbours' pockets. Let 'em put a clause into the constitution providing that no town, or village, or county shall hold a poll within a given time after the execution of process has been openly resisted in it. That would take the conceit out of all such law-breakers, in very short order."

It was plain that this idea struck the listeners, and several even avowed their approbation of the scheme aloud. Hubbard [Pg 116]received it as a new thought, but was more reluctant to admit its practicability. As might be expected from a lawyer accustomed to practise in a small way, his objections savoured more of narrow views than of the notions of a statesman.

"How would you determine the extent of the district to be disfranchised?" he asked.

"Take the legal limits as they stand. If process be resisted openly by a combination strong enough to look down the agents of the law in a town, disfranchise that town for a given period; if in more than one town, disfranchise the offending towns; if a county, disfranchise the whole county."

"But, in that way you would punish the innocent with the guilty."

"It would be for the good of all; besides, you punish the innocent for the guilty, or with the guilty rather, in a thousand ways. You and I are taxed to keep drunkards from starving, because it is better to do that than to offend humanity by seeing men die of hunger, or tempting them to steal. When you declare martial law you punish the innocent with the guilty, in one sense; and so you do in a hundred cases. All we have to ask is, if it be not wiser and better to disarm demagogues, and those disturbers of the public peace who wish to pervert their right of suffrage to so wicked an end, by so simple a process, than to suffer them to effect their purposes by the most flagrant abuse of their political privileges?"

"How would you determine when a town should lose the right of voting?"

"By evidence given in open court. The judges would be the proper authority to decide in such a case; and they would decide, beyond all question, nineteen times in twenty, right. It is the interest of every man who is desirous of exercising the suffrage on right principles, to give him some such protection against them that wish to exercise the suffrage on wrong. A peace-officer can call on the posse comitatus or on the people to aid him; if enough appear to put down the rebels, well and good; but if enough do not appear, let it be taken as proof that the district is not worthy [Pg 117]of giving the votes of freemen. They who abuse such a liberty as man enjoys in this country are the least entitled to our sympathies. As for the mode, that could easily be determined, as soon as you settled the principle."

The discourse went on for an hour, neighbour Hall giving his opinions still more at large. I listened equally with pleasure and surprise. "These, then, after all," I said to myself, "are the real bone and sinew of the country. There are tens of thousands of this sort of men in the State, and why should they be domineered over, and made to submit to a legislation and to practices that are so often without principle, by the agents of the worst part of the community? Will the honest for ever be so passive, while the corrupt and dishonest continue so active?" On my mentioning these notions to my uncle, he answered:

"Yes; it ever has been so, and, I fear, ever will be so. There is the curse of this country," pointing to a table covered with newspapers, the invariable companion of an American inn of any size. "So long as men believe what they find there, they can be nothing but dupes or knaves."

"But there is good in newspapers."

"That adds to the curse. If they were nothing but lies, the world would soon reject them; but how few are able to separate the true from the false! Now, how few of these papers speak the truth about this very anti-rentism! Occasionally an honest man in the corps does come out; but where one does this, ten affect to think what they do not believe, in order to secure votes;—votes, votes, votes. In that simple word lies all the mystery of the matter."

"Jefferson said, if he were to choose between a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, he would take the last."

"Ay, Jefferson did not mean newspapers as they are now. I am old enough to see the change that has taken place. In his day, three or four fairly convicted lies would damn any editor; now, there are men that stand up under a thousand. I'll tell you what, Hugh, this country is jogging on under two of the most antagonist systems possible—Christianity and the newspapers. The first is daily hammering into every man that he is a miserable, frail, good-for-nothing being, while the last is eternally proclaiming the perfection of the people and the virtues of self-government."

"Perhaps too much stress ought not to be laid on either."[Pg 118]

"The first is certainly true, under limitations that we all understand; but as to the last, I will own I want more evidence than a newspaper eulogy to believe it."

After all, my uncle Ro is sometimes mistaken; though candour compels me to acknowledge that he is very often right.


"I see thee still;
Remembrance, faithful to her trust,
Calls thee in beauty from the dust;
Thou comest in the morning light,
Thou 'rt with me through the gloomy night;
In dreams I meet thee as of old:
Then thy soft arms my neck enfold,
And thy sweet voice is in my ear:
In every sense to memory dear
I see thee still."


It was just ten in the morning of the succeeding day when my uncle Ro and myself came in sight of the old house at the Nest. I call it old, for a dwelling that has stood more than half a century acquires a touch of the venerable, in a country like America. To me it was truly old, the building having stood there, where I then saw it, for a period more than twice as long as that of my own existence, and was associated with all my early ideas. From childhood I had regarded that place as my future home, as it had been the home of my parents and grand-parents, and, in one sense, of those who had gone before them for two generations more. The whole of the land in sight—the rich bottoms, then waving with grass—the side-hills, the woods, the distant mountains—the orchards, dwellings, barns, and all the other accessaries of rural life that appertained to the [Pg 119]soil, were mine, and had thus become without a single act of injustice to any human being, so far as I knew and believed. Even the red man had been fairly bought off by Herman Mordaunt, the patentee, and so Susquesus, the Redskin of Ravensnest, as our old Onondago was often called, had ever admitted the fact to be. It was natural that I should love an estate thus inherited and thus situated. No civilized man, no man, indeed, savage or not, had ever been the owner of those broad acres, but those who were of my own blood. This is what few besides Americans can say; and when it can be said truly, in parts of the country where the arts of life have spread, and amid the blessings of civilization, it becomes the foundation of a sentiment so profound, that I do not wonder those adventurers-errant who are flying about the face of the country, thrusting their hands into every man's mess, have not been able to find it among their other superficial discoveries. Nothing can be less like the ordinary cravings of avarice than the feeling that is thus engendered; and I am certain that the general tendency of such an influence is to elevate the feelings of him who experiences it.

And there were men among us, high in political station—high as such men ever can get, for the consequence of having such men in power is to draw down station itself nearer to their own natural level—but men in power had actually laid down propositions in political economy which, if carried out, would cause me to sell all that estate, reserving, perhaps, a single farm for my own use, and reinvest the money in such a way as that the interest I obtained might equal my present income! It is true, this theory was not directly applied to me, as my farms were to fall in by the covenants of their leases, but it had been directly applied to Stephen and William Van Rensselaer, and, by implication, to others; and my turn might come next. What business had the Rensselaers, or the Livingstons, or the Hunters, or the Littlepages, or the Verplancks, or the Morgans, or the Wadsworths, or five hundred others similarly placed, to entertain "sentiments" that interfered with "business," or that interfered with the wishes of any straggling Yankee who had found his way out of New England, and wanted a particular farm on his own terms? It is aristocratic to put sentiment in opposition to trade; and trade itself is not to be trade any longer than all the profit is to be found[Pg 120] on the side of numbers. Even the principles of holy trade are to be governed by majorities!

Even my uncle Ro, who never owned a foot of the property, could not look at it without emotion. He too had been born there—had passed his childhood there—and loved the spot without a particle of the grovelling feeling of avarice. He took pleasure in remembering that our race had been the only owners of the soil on which he stood, and had that very justifiable pride which belongs to enduring respectability and social station.

"Well, Hugh," he cried, after both of us had stood gazing at the grey walls of the good and substantial, but certainly not very beautiful dwelling, "here we are, and we now may determine on what is next to be done. Shall we march down to the village, which is four miles distant, you will remember, and get our breakfasts there?—shall we try one of your tenants?—or shall we plunge at once in medias res, and ask hospitality of my mother and your sister?"

"The last might excite suspicion, I fear, sir. Tar and feathers would be our mildest fate did we fall into the hands of the Injins."

"Injins! Why not go at once to the wigwam of Susquesus, and get out of him and Yop the history of the state of things. I heard them speaking of the Onondago at our tavern last night, and while they said he was generally thought to be much more than a hundred, that he was still like a man of eighty. That Indian is full of observation, and may let us into some of the secrets of his brethren."

"They can at least give us the news from the family; and though it might seem in the course of things for pedlars to visit the Nest House, it will be just as much so for them to halt at the wigwam."

This consideration decided the matter, and away we went towards the ravine or glen, on the side of which stood the primitive-looking hut that went by the name of the "wigwam." The house was a small cabin of logs, neat and warm, or cool, as the season demanded. As it was kept up, and was whitewashed, and occasionally furnished anew by the landlord—the odious creature! he who paid for so [Pg 121]many similar things in the neighbourhood—it was never unfit to be seen, though never of a very alluring, cottage-like character. There was a garden, and it had been properly made that very season, the negro picking and pecking about it, during the summer, in a way to coax the vegetables and fruits on a little, though I well knew that the regular weedings came from an assistant at the Nest, who was ordered to give it an eye and an occasional half-day. On one side of the hut there was a hog-pen and a small stable for a cow; but on the other the trees of the virgin forest, which had never been disturbed in that glen, overshadowed the roof. This somewhat poetical arrangement was actually the consequence of a compromise between the tenants of the cabin, the negro insisting on the accessories of his rude civilization, while the Indian required the shades of the woods to reconcile him to his position. Here had these two singularly associated beings—the one deriving his descent from the debased races of Africa, and the other from the fierce but lofty-minded aboriginal inhabitant of this continent—dwelt nearly for the whole period of an ordinary human life. The cabin itself began to look really ancient, while those who dwelt in it had little altered within the memory of man! Such instances of longevity, whatever theorists may say on the subject, are not unfrequent among either the blacks or the "natives," though probably less so among the last than among the first, and still less so among the first of the northern than of the southern sections of the republic. It is common to say that the great age so often attributed to the people of these two races is owing to ignorance of the periods of their births, and that they do not live longer than the whites. This may be true, in the main, for a white man is known to have died at no great distance from Ravensnest, within the last five-and-twenty years, who numbered more than his six score of years; but aged negroes and aged Indians are nevertheless so common, when the smallness of their whole numbers is remembered, as to render the fact apparent to most of those who have seen much of their respective people.

There was no highway in the vicinity of the wigwam, for so the cabin was generally called, though wigwam, in the strict meaning of the word, it was not. As the little building [Pg 122]stood in the grounds of the Nest House, which contain two hundred acres, a bit of virgin forest included, and exclusively of the fields that belonged to the adjacent farm, it was approached only by foot-paths, of which several led to and from it, and by one narrow, winding carriage-road, which, in passing for miles through the grounds, had been led near the hut, in order to enable my grandmother and sister, and, I dare say, my dear departed mother, while she lived, to make their calls in their frequent airings. By this sweeping road we approached the cabin.

"There are the two old fellows, sunning themselves this fine day!" exclaimed my uncle, with something like tremor in his voice, as we drew near enough to the hut to distinguish objects. "Hugh, I never see these men without a feeling of awe, as well as of affection. They were the friends, and one was the slave of my grandfather; and as long as I can remember, have they been aged men! They seem to be set up here as monuments of the past, to connect the generations that are gone with those that are to come."

"If so, sir, they will soon be all there is of their sort. It really seems to me that, if things continue much longer in their present direction, men will begin to grow jealous and envious of history itself, because its actors have left descendants to participate in any little credit they may have gained."

"Beyond all contradiction, boy, there is a strange perversion of the old and natural sentiments on this head among us. But you must bear in mind the fact, that of the two millions and a half the State contains, not half a million, probably, possess any of the true York blood, and can consequently feel any of the sentiments connected with the birth-place and the older traditions of the very society in which they live. A great deal must be attributed to the facts of our condition; though I admit those facts need not, and ought not to unsettle principles. But look at those two old fellows! There they are, true to the feelings and habits of their races, even after passing so long a time together in this hut. There squats Susquesus on a stone, idle and disdaining work, with his rifle leaning against the apple-tree; while Jaaf—or Yop, as I believe it is better to call him—is pecking about in the garden, still a slave at his work, in [Pg 123]fancy at least."

"And which is the happiest, sir—the industrious old man or the idler?"

"Probably each finds most happiness in indulging his own early habits. The Onondago never would work, however, and I have heard my father say, great was his happiness when he found he was to pass the remainder of his days in otium cum dignitate, and without the necessity of making baskets."

"Yop is looking at us; had we not better go up at once and speak to them?"

"Yop may stare the most openly, but my life on it the Indian sees twice as much. His faculties are the best, to begin with; and he is a man of extraordinary and characteristic observation. In his best days nothing ever escaped him. As you say, we will approach."

My uncle and myself then consulted on the expediency of using broken English with these two old men, of which, at first, we saw no necessity; but when we remembered that others might join us, and that our communications with the two might be frequent for the next few days, we changed our minds, and determined rigidly to observe our incognitos.

As we came up to the door of the hut, Jaaf slowly left his little garden and joined the Indian, who remained immoveable and unmoved on the stone which served him for a seat. We could see but little change in either during the five years of our absence, each being a perfect picture, in his way, of extreme but not decrepit old age in the men of his race. Of the two, the black—if black he could now be called, his colour being a muddy grey—was the most altered, though that seemed scarcely possible when I saw him last. As for the Trackless, or Susquesus, as he was commonly called, his temperance throughout a long life did him good service, and his half-naked limbs and skeleton-like body, for he wore the summer dress of his people, appeared to be made of a leather long steeped in a tannin of the purest quality. His sinews, too, though much stiffened, seemed yet to be of whip-cord, and his whole frame a species of indurated mummy that retained its vitality. The colour of the skin was [Pg 124]less red than formerly, and more closely approached to that of the negro, as the latter now was, though perceptibly different.

"Sago—sago," cried my uncle, as we came quite near, seeing no risk in using that familiar semi-Indian salutation.[2] "Sago, sago, dis charmin' mornin; in my tongue, dat might be guten tag."

"Sago," returned the Trackless, in his deep, guttural voice, while old Yop brought two lips together that resembled thick pieces of overdone beef-steak, fastened his red-encircled gummy eyes on each of us in turn, pouted once more, working his jaws as if proud of the excellent teeth they still held, and said nothing. As the slave of a Littlepage, he held pedlars as inferior beings; for the ancient negroes of New York ever identified themselves, more or less, with the families to which they belonged, and in which they so often were born. "Sago," repeated the Indian, slowly, courteously, and with emphasis, after he had looked a moment longer at my uncle, as if he saw something about him to command respect.

"Dis ist charmin' day, frients," said uncle Ro, placing himself coolly on a log of wood that had been hauled for the stove, and wiping his brow. "Vat might you calls dis coontry?"

"Dis here?" answered Yop, not without a little contempt. "Dis is York Colony; where you come from to ask sich a question?"

"Charmany. Dat ist far off, but a goot coontry; ant [Pg 125]dis ist goot coontry too."

"Why you leab him, den, if he be good country, eh?"

"Vhy you leaf Africa, canst you dell me dat?" retorted uncle Ro, somewhat coolly.

"Nebber was dere," growled old Yop, bringing his blubber lips together somewhat in the manner the boar works his jaws when it is prudent to get out of his way. "I'm York-nigger born, and nebber seen no Africa; and nebber want to see him, nudder."

It is scarcely necessary to say that Jaaf belonged to a school by which the term of "coloured gentleman" was never used. The men of his time and stamp called themselves "niggers;" and ladies and gentlemen of that age took them at their word, and called them "niggers" too; a term that no one of the race ever uses now, except in the way of reproach, and which, by one of the singular workings of our very wayward and common nature, he is more apt to use than any other, when reproach is intended.

My uncle paused a moment to reflect before he continued a discourse that had not appeared to commence under very flattering auspices.

"Who might lif in dat big stone house?" asked uncle Ro, as soon as he thought the negro had had time to cool a little.

"Anybody can see you no Yorker, by dat werry speech," answered Yop, not at all mollified by such a question. "Who should lib dere but Gin'ral Littlepage?"

"Vell, I dought he wast dead, long ago."

"What if he be? It's his house, and he lib in it; and ole young missus lib dere too."

Now, there had been three generations of generals among the Littlepages, counting from father to son. First, there had been Brigadier General Evans Littlepage, who held that rank in the militia, and died in service during the revolution. The next was Brigadier General Cornelius Littlepage, who got his rank by brevet, at the close of the same war, in which he had actually figured as a colonel of the New York line. Third, and last, was my own grandfather, Major General Mordaunt Littlepage: he had been a captain in his father's regiment at the close of the same struggle, got the brevet of major at its termination, and rose to [Pg 126]be a Major General of the militia, the station he held for many years before he died. As soon as the privates had the power to elect their own officers, the position of a Major General in the militia ceased to be respectable, and few gentlemen could be induced to serve. As might have been foreseen, the militia itself fell into general contempt, where it now is, and where it will ever remain until a different class of officers shall be chosen. The people can do a great deal, no doubt, but they cannot make a "silk purse out of a sow's ear." As soon as officers from the old classes shall be appointed, the militia will come up; for in no interest in life is it so material to have men of certain habits, and notions, and education, in authority, as in those connected with the military service. A great many fine speeches may be made, and much patriotic eulogy expended on the intrinsic virtue and intelligence of the people, and divers projects entertained to make "citizen-soldiers," as they are called; but citizens never can be, and never will be turned into soldiers at all, good or bad, until proper officers are placed over them. To return to Yop—

"Bray vhat might be der age of das laty dat you callet olt young missus?" asked my uncle.

"Gosh! she nutten but gal—born sometime just a'ter ole French war. Remember her well 'nough when she Miss Dus Malbone. Young masser Mordaunt take fancy to her, and make her he wife."

"Vell, I hopes you hafn't any objection to der match?"

"Not I; she clebber young lady den, and she werry clebber young lady now."

And this of my venerable grandmother, who had fairly seen her four-score years!

"Who might be der master of das big house now?"

"Gin'ral Littlepage, doesn't I tell ye! Masser Mordaunt's name, my young master. Sus, dere, only Injin; he nebber so lucky as hab a good master. Niggers gettin' scarce, dey tells me, now-a-days, in dis world!"

"Injins, too, I dinks; dere ist no more redskins might be blenty."

The manner in which the Onondago raised his figure, and the look he fastened on my uncle, were both fine and startling. As yet he had said nothing beyond the salutation; [Pg 127]but I could see he now intended to speak.

"New tribe," he said, after regarding us for half a minute intently; "what you call him—where he come from?"

"Ja, ja—das ist der anti-rent redskins. Haf you seen 'em, Trackless?"

"Sartain; come to see me—face in bag—behave like squaw; poor Injin—poor warrior!"

"Yees, I believes dat ist true enough. I can't bear soch Injin!—might not be soch Injin in world. Vhat you call 'em, eh?"

Susquesus shook his head slowly, and with dignity. Then he gazed intently at my uncle; after which he fastened his eyes, in a similar manner on me. In this manner his looks turned from one to the other for some little time, when he again dropped them to the earth, calmly and in silence. I took out the hurdy-gurdy, and began to play a lively air—one that was very popular among the American blacks, and which, I am sorry to say, is getting to be not less so among the whites. No visible effect was produced on Susquesus, unless a slight shade of contempt was visible on his dark features. With Jaaf, however, it was very different. Old as he was, I could see a certain nervous twitching of the lower limbs, which indicated that the old fellow actually felt some disposition to dance. It soon passed away, though his grim, hard, wrinkled, dusky, grey countenance continued to gleam with a sort of dull pleasure for some time. There was nothing surprising in this, the indifference of the Indian to melody being almost as marked as the negro's sensitiveness to its power.

It was not to be expected that men so aged would be disposed to talk much. The Onondago had ever been a silent man; dignity and gravity of character uniting with prudence to render him so. But Jaaf was constitutionally garrulous, though length of days had necessarily much diminished the propensity. At that moment a fit of thoughtful and melancholy silence came over my uncle, too, and all four of us continued brooding on our own reflections for two or three minutes after I had ceased to play. Presently the even, smooth approach of carriage-wheels was heard, and a light, summer vehicle that was an old acquaintance, came whirling round the stable, and drew up within ten feet of [Pg 128]the spot where we were all seated.

My heart was in my mouth, at this unexpected interruption, and I could perceive that my uncle was scarcely less affected. Amid the flowing and pretty drapery of summer shawls, and the other ornaments of the female toilet, were four youthful and sunny faces, and one venerable with years. In a word, my grandmother, my sister, and my uncle's two other wards, and Mary Warren, were in the carriage; yes, the pretty, gentle, timid, yet spirited and intelligent daughter of the rector was of the party, and seemingly quite at home and at her ease, as one among friends. She was the first to speak even, though it was in a low, quiet voice, addressed to my sister, and in words that appeared extorted by surprise.

"There are the very two pedlars of whom I told you, Martha," she said, "and now you may hear the flute well played."

"I doubt if he can play better than Hugh," was my dear sister's answer. "But we'll have some of his music, if it be only to remind us of him who is so far away."

"The music we can and will have, my child," cried my grandmother, cheerfully; "though that is not wanted to remind us of our absent boy. Good morrow, Susquesus; I hope this fine day agrees with you."

"Sago," returned the Indian, making a dignified and even graceful forward gesture with one arm, though he did not rise. "Weadder good—Great Spirit good, dat reason. How squaws do?"

"We are all well, I thank you, Trackless. Good morrow, Jaaf; how do you do, this fine morning?"

Yop, or Jaap, or Jaaf, rose tottering, made a low obeisance, and then answered in the semi-respectful, semi-familiar manner of an old, confidential family servant, as the last existed among our fathers:

"T'ank 'ee, Miss Dus, wid all my heart," he answered. "Pretty well to-day; but ole Sus, he fail, and grow ol'er and ol'er desp'ate fast!"

Now, of the two, the Indian was much the finest relic of human powers, though he was less uneasy and more stationary than the black. But the propensity to see the mote in the eye of his friend, while he forgot the beam in his [Pg 129]own, was a long-established and well-known weakness of Jaaf, and its present exhibition caused everybody to smile. I was delighted with the beaming, laughing eyes of Mary Warren in particular, though she said nothing.

"I cannot say I agree with you, Jaaf," returned my smiling grandmother. "The Trackless bears his years surprisingly; and I think I have not seen him look better this many a day than he is looking this morning. We are none of us as young as we were when we first became acquainted, Jaaf—which is now near, if not quite, three-score years ago."

"You nuttin' but gal, nudder," growled the negro. "Ole Sus be raal ole fellow; but Miss Dus and Masser Mordaunt, dey get married only tudder day. Why dat was a'ter de revylooshen!"

"It was, indeed," replied the venerable woman, with a touch of melancholy in her tones; "but the revolution took place many, many a long year since!"

"Well, now, I be surprise, Miss Dus! How you call dat so long, when he only be tudder day?" retorted the pertinacious negro, who began to grow crusty, and to speak in a short, spiteful way, as if displeased by hearing that to which he could not assent. "Masser Corny was little ole, p'r'aps, if he lib, but all de rest ob you nuttin' but children. Tell me one t'ing, Miss Dus, be it true dey's got a town at Satanstoe?"

"An attempt was made, a few years since, to turn the whole country into towns, and, among other places, the Neck; but I believe it will never be anything more than a capital farm."

"So besser. Dat good land, I tell you! One acre down dere wort' more dan twenty acre up here."

"My grandson would not be pleased to hear you say that, Jaaf."

"Who your grandson, Miss Dus. Remember you hab little baby tudder day; but baby can't hab baby."

"Ah, Jaaf, my old friend, my babies have long since been men and women, and are drawing on to old age. One, and he was my first born, is gone before us to a better world, and his boy is now your young master. This young [Pg 130]lady, that is seated opposite to me, is the sister of that young master, and she would be grieved to think you have forgotten her."

Jaaf laboured under the difficulty so common to old age; he was forgetful of things of more recent date, while he remembered those which had occurred a century ago! The memory is a tablet that partakes of the peculiarity of all our opinions and habits. In youth it is easily impressed, and the images then engraved on it are distinct, deep and lasting, while those that succeed become crowded, and take less root, from the circumstance of finding the ground already occupied. In the present instance, the age was so great that the change was really startling, the old negro's recollections occasionally coming on the mind like a voice from the grave. As for the Indian, as I afterwards ascertained, he was better preserved in all respects than the black; his great temperance in youth, freedom from labour, exercise in the open air, united to the comforts and abundance of semi-civilized habits, that had now lasted for near a century, contributing to preserve both mind and body. As I now looked at him, I remembered what I had heard in boyhood of his history.

There had ever been a mystery about the life of the Onondago. If any one of our set had ever been acquainted with the facts, it was Andries Coejemans, a half-uncle of my dear grandmother, a person who has been known among us by the sobriquet of the Chainbearer. My grandmother had told me that "uncle Chainbearer," as we all called the old relative, did know all about Susquesus, in his time—the reason why he had left his tribe, and become a hunter, and warrior, and runner among the pale-faces—and that he had always said the particulars did his red friend great credit, but that he would reveal it no further. So great, however, was uncle Chainbearer's reputation for integrity, that such an opinion was sufficient to procure for the Onondago the fullest confidence of the whole connection, and the experience of four-score years and ten had proved that this confidence was well placed. Some imputed the sort of exile in which the old man had so long lived to love; others to war; and others, again, to the consequences of those fierce personal feuds that are known to occur among men in the s[Pg 131]avage state. But all was just as much a mystery and matter of conjecture, now we were drawing near to the middle of the nineteenth century, as it had been when our forefathers were receding from the middle of the eighteenth! To return to the negro.

Although Jaaf had momentarily forgotten me, and quite forgotten my parents, he remembered my sister, who was in the habit of seeing him so often. In what manner he connected her with the family, it is not easy to say; but he knew her not only by sight, but by name, and, as one might say, by blood.

"Yes, yes," cried the old fellow, a little eagerly, 'champing' his thick lips together, somewhat as an alligator snaps his jaws, "yes, I knows Miss Patty, of course. Miss Patty is werry han'some, and grows han'somer and han'somer ebbery time I sees her—yah, yah, yah!" The laugh of that old negro sounded startling and unnatural, yet there was something of the joyous in it, after all, like every negro's laugh. "Yah, yah, yah! Yes, Miss Patty won'erful han'some, and werry like Miss Dus. I s'pose, now, Miss Patty wast born about 'e time dat Gin'ral Washington die."

As this was a good deal more than doubling my sister's age, it produced a common laugh among the light-hearted girls in the carriage. A gleam of intelligence that almost amounted to a smile also shot athwart the countenance of the Onondago, while the muscles of his face worked, but he said nothing. I had reason to know afterwards that the tablet of his memory retained its records better.

"What friends have you with you to-day, Jaaf," inquired my grandmother, inclining her head towards us pedlars graciously, at the same time; a salutation that my uncle Ro and myself rose hastily to acknowledge.

As for myself, I own honestly that I could have jumped into the vehicle and kissed my dear grandmother's still good-looking but colourless cheeks, and hugged Patt, and possibly some of the others, to my heart. Uncle Ro had more command of himself; though I could see that the sound of his venerable parent's voice, in which the tremour was barely perceptible, was near overcoming him.

"Dese be pedlar, ma'am, I do s'pose," answered the black. [Pg 132]"Dey's got box wid somet'in' in him, and dey's got new kind of fiddle. Come, young man, gib Miss Dus a tune—a libely one; sich as make an ole nigger dance."

I drew round the hurdy-gurdy, and was beginning to flourish away, when a gentle, sweet voice, raised a little louder than usual by eagerness, interrupted me.

"Oh! not that thing, not that; the flute, the flute!" exclaimed Mary Warren, blushing to the eyes at her own boldness, the instant she saw that she was heard, and that I was about to comply.

It is hardly necessary to say that I bowed respectfully, laid down the hurdy-gurdy, drew the flute from my pocket, and, after a few flourishes, commenced playing one of the newest airs, or melodies, from a favourite opera. I saw the colour rush into Martha's cheeks the moment I had got through a bar or two, and the start she gave satisfied me that the dear girl remembered her brother's flute. I had played on that very instrument ever since I was sixteen, but I had made an immense progress in the art during the five years just passed in Europe. Masters at Naples, Paris, Vienna and London had done a great deal for me; and I trust I shall not be thought vain if I add, that nature had done something, too. My excellent grandmother listened in profound attention, and all four of the girls were enchanted.

"That music is worthy of being heard in a room," observed the former, as soon as I concluded the air; "and we shall hope to hear it this evening, at the Nest House, if you remain anywhere near us. In the mean time, we must pursue our airing."

As my grandmother spoke she leaned forward, and extended her hand to me, with a benevolent smile. I advanced, received the dollar that was offered, and, unable to command my feelings, raised the hand to my lips, respectfully but with fervour. Had Martha's face been near me, it would have suffered also. I suppose there was nothing in this respectful salutation that struck the spectators as very much out of the way, foreigners having foreign customs, but I saw a flush in my venerable grandmother's cheek, as the carriage moved off. She had noted the warmth of the manner. My uncle had turned away, I dare say to conceal the tears that started to his eyes, and Jaaf followed towards [Pg 133]the door of the hut, whither my uncle moved, in order to do the honours of the place. This left me quite alone with the Indian.

"Why no kiss face of grandmodder?" asked the Onondago, coolly and quietly.

Had a clap of thunder broken over my head, I could not have been more astonished! The disguise that had deceived my nearest relations—that had baffled Seneca Newcome, and had set at naught even his sister Opportunity—had failed to conceal me from that Indian, whose faculties might be supposed to have been numbed with age!

"Is it possible that you know me, Susquesus!" I exclaimed, signing towards the negro at the same time, by way of caution; "that you remember me, at all! I should have thought this wig, these clothes, would have concealed me."

"Sartain," answered the aged Indian, calmly. "Know young chief soon as see him; know fader—know mudder; know gran'fader, gran'mudder—great-gran'fader; his fader, too; know all. Why forget young chief?"

"Did you know me before I kissed my grandmother's hand, or only by that act?"

"Know as soon as see him. What eyes good for, if don't know? Know uncle, dere, sartain; welcome home!"

"But you will not let others know us, too, Trackless? We have always been friends, I hope?"

"Be sure, friends. Why ole eagle, wid white head, strike young pigeon? Nebber hatchet in 'e path between Susquesus and any of de tribe of Ravensnest. Too ole to dig him up now."

"There are good reasons why my uncle and myself should not be known for a few days. Perhaps you have heard something of the trouble that has grown up between the landlords and the tenants, in the land?"

"What dat trouble?"

"The tenants are tired of paying rent, and wish to make a new bargain, by which they can become owners of the farms on which they live."

A grim light played upon the swarthy countenance of the Indian: his lips moved, but he uttered nothing aloud.

[Pg 134]

"Have you heard anything of this, Susquesus?"

"Little bird sing sich song in my ear—didn't like to hear it."

"And of Indians who are moving up and down the country, armed with rifles and dressed in calico?"

"What tribe, dem Injin," asked the Trackless, with a quickness and a fire I did not think it possible for him to retain. "What 'ey do, marchin' 'bout?—on war-path, eh?"

"In one sense they may be said to be so. They belong to the anti-rent tribe; do you know such a nation?"

"Poor Injin dat, b'lieve. Why come so late?—why no come when 'e foot of Susquesus light as feather of bird?—why stay away till pale-faces plentier dan leaf on tree, or snow in air? Hundred year ago, when dat oak little, sich Injin might be good; now, he good for nuttin'."

"But you will keep our secret, Sus?—will not even tell the negro who we are?"

The Trackless simply nodded his head in assent. After this he seemed to me to sink back in a sort of brooding lethargy, as if indisposed to pursue the subject. I left him to go to my uncle, in order to relate what had just passed. Mr. Roger Littlepage was as much astonished as I had been myself, at hearing that one so aged should have detected us through disguises that had deceived our nearest of kin. But the quiet penetration and close observation of the man had long been remarkable. As his good faith was of proof, however, neither felt any serious apprehension of being betrayed, as soon as he had a moment for reflection.

[Pg 135]


"He saw a cottage with a double coach-house,
A cottage of gentility;
And the devil did grin, for his darling sin
Is the pride that apes humility."

Devil's Thoughts.

It was now necessary to determine what course we ought next to pursue. It might appear presuming in men of our pursuits to go to the Nest before the appointed time; and did we proceed on to the village, we should have the distance between the two places to walk over twice, carrying our instruments and jewel-box. After a short consultation, it was decided to visit the nearest dwellings, and to remain as near my own house as was practicable, making an arrangement to sleep somewhere in its immediate vicinity. Could we trust any one with our secret, our fare would probably be all the better; but my uncle thought it most prudent to maintain a strict incognito until he had ascertained the true state of things in the town.

We took leave of the Indian and the negro, therefore, promising to visit them again in the course of that or the succeeding day, and followed the path that led to the farm-house. It was our opinion that we might, at least, expect to meet with friends in the occupants of the home farm. The same family had been retained in possession there for three generations, and being hired to manage the husbandry and to take care of the dairy, there was not the same reason for the disaffection, that was said so generally to exist among the tenantry, prevailing among them. The name of this family was Miller, and it consisted of the two heads and some six or seven children, most of the latter being still quite young.

"Tom Miller was a trusty lad, when I knew much of him," said my uncle, as we drew near to the barn, in which we saw the party mentioned, at work; "and he is said to [Pg 136]have behaved well in one or two alarms they have had at the Nest, this summer; still, it may be wiser not to let even him into our secret as yet."

"I am quite of your mind, sir," I answered; "for who knows that he has not just as strong a desire as any of them to own the farm on which he lives? He is the grandson of the man who cleared it from the forest, and has much the same title as the rest of them."

"Very true; and why should not that give him just as good a right to claim an interest in the farm, beyond that he has got under his contract to work it, as if he held a lease? He who holds a lease gets no right beyond his bargain; nor does this man. The one is paid for his labour by the excess of his receipts over the amount of his annual rent, while the other is paid partly in what he raises, and partly in wages. In principle there is no difference whatever, not a particle; yet I question if the veriest demagogue in the State would venture to say that the man, or the family, which works a farm for hire, even for a hundred years, gets the smallest right to say he shall not quit it, if its owner please, as soon as his term of service is up!"

"'The love of money is the root of all evil;' and when that feeling is uppermost, one can never tell what a man will do. The bribe of a good farm, obtained for nothing, or for an insignificant price, is sufficient to upset the morality of even Tom Miller."

"You are right, Hugh; and here is one of the points in which our political men betray the cloven foot. They write, and proclaim, and make speeches, as if the anti-rent troubles grew out of the durable lease system solely, whereas we all know that it is extended to all descriptions of obligations given for the occupancy of land—life leases, leases for a term of years, articles for deeds, and bonds and mortgages. It is a wide-spread, though not yet universal attempt of those who have the least claim to the possession of real estate, to obtain the entire right, and that by agencies that neither the law nor good morals will justify. It is no new expedient for partizans to place en evidence no more of their principles and intentions than suits their purposes. But, here we are within ear-shot, and must resort to the High Dutch. Guten tag, guten tag," continued [Pg 137]uncle Ro, dropping easily into the broken English of our masquerade, as we walked into the barn, where Miller, two of his older boys, and a couple of hired men were at work, grinding scythes and preparing for the approaching hay-harvest. "It might be warm day, dis fine mornin'."

"Good day, good day," cried Miller, hastily, and glancing his eye a little curiously at our equipments. "What have you got in your box—essences?"

"Nein; vatches and drinkets;" setting down the box and opening it at once, for the inspection of all present. "Von't you burchase a goot vatch, dis bleasant mornin'?"

"Be they ra-al gold?" asked Miller, a little doubtingly. "And all them chains and rings, be they gold too?"

"Not true golt; nein, nein, I might not say dat. But goot enough golt for blain folks, like you and me."

"Them things would never do for the grand quality over at the big house!" cried one of the labourers who was unknown to me, but whose name I soon ascertained was Joshua Brigham, and who spoke with a sort of malicious sneer that at once betrayed he was no friend. "You mean 'em for poor folks, I s'pose?"

"I means dem for any bodies dat will pay deir money for 'em," answered my uncle. "Vould you like a vatch?"

"That would I; and a farm, too, if I could get 'em cheap," answered Brigham, with a sneer he did not attempt to conceal. "How do you sell farms to-day?"

"I haf got no farms; I sells drinkets and vatches, but I doesn't sell farms. Vhat I haf got I vill sell, but I cannot sells vhat I haf not got."

"Oh! you'll get all you want if you'll stay long enough in this country! This is a free land, and just the place for a poor man; or it will be, as soon as we get all the lords and aristocrats out of it."

This was the first time I had ever heard this political blarney with my own ears, though I had understood it was often used by those who wish to give to their own particular envy and covetousness a grand and sounding air.

"Vell, I haf heards dat in America dere might not be any noples ant aristocrats," put in my uncle, with an appearance of beautiful simplicity; "and dat dere ist not ein graaf [Pg 138]in der whole coontry."

"Oh! there's all sorts of folks here, just as they are to be found elsewhere," cried Miller, seating himself coolly on the end of the grindstone-frame, to open and look into the mysteries of one of the watches. "Now, Josh Brigham, here, calls all that's above him in the world aristocrats, but he doesn't call all that's below him his equals."

I liked that speech; and I liked the cool, decided way in which it was uttered. It denoted, in its spirit, a man who saw things as they are, and who was not afraid to say what he thought about them. My uncle Ro was surprised, and that agreeably, too, and he turned to Miller to pursue the discourse.

"Den dere might not be any nopility in America, after all?" he asked, inquiringly.

"Yes, there's plenty of such lords as Josh here, who want to be uppermost so plaguily that they don't stop to touch all the rounds of the ladder. I tell him, friend, he wants to get on too fast, and that he mustn't set up for a gentleman before he knows how to behave himself."

Josh looked a little abashed at a rebuke that came from one of his own class, and which he must have felt, in secret, was merited. But the demon was at work in him, and he had persuaded himself that he was the champion of a quality as sacred as liberty, when, in fact, he was simply and obviously doing neither more nor less than breaking the tenth commandment. He did not like to give up, while he skirmished with Miller, as the dog that has been beaten already two or three times growls over a bone at the approach of his conqueror.

"Well, thank heaven," he cried, "I have got some spirit in my body."

"That's very true, Joshua," answered Miller, laying down one watch and taking up another; "but it happens to be an evil spirit."

"Now, here's them Littlepages; what makes them better than other folks?"

"You had better let the Littlepages alone, Joshua, seein' they're a family that you know nothing at all about."

"I don't want to know them; though I do happen to [Pg 139]know all I want to know. I despise 'em."

"No you don't, Joshy, my boy; nobody despises folks they talk so spitefully about. What's the price of this here watch, friend?"

"Four dollars," said my uncle, eagerly, falling lower than was prudent, in his desire to reward Miller for his good feeling and sound sentiments. "Ja, ja—you might haf das vatch for four dollars."

"I'm afraid it isn't good for anything," returned Miller, feeling the distrust that was natural at hearing a price so low. "Let's have another look at its inside."

No man, probably, ever bought a watch without looking into its works with an air of great intelligence, though none but a mechanician is any wiser for his survey. Tom Miller acted on this principle, for the good looks of the machine he held in his hand, and the four dollars, tempted him sorely. It had its effect, too, on the turbulent and envious Joshua, who seemed to understand himself very well in a bargain. Neither of the men had supposed the watches to be of gold, for though the metal that is in a watch does not amount to a great deal, it is usually of more value than all that was asked for the "article" now under examination. In point of fact, my uncle had this very watch "invoiced to him" at twice the price he now put it at.

"And what do you ask for this?" demanded Joshua, taking up another watch of very similar looks and of equal value to the one that Miller still retained open in his hand. "Won't you let this go for three dollars?"

"No; der brice of dat is effery cent of forty dollars," answered uncle Ro, stubbornly.

The two men now looked at the pedlar in surprise. Miller took the watch from his hired man, examined it attentively, compared it with the other, and then demanded its price anew.

"You might haf eider of dem vatches for four dollars," returned my uncle, as I thought, incautiously.

This occasioned a new surprise, though Brigham fortunately referred the difference to a mistake.

"Oh!" he said, "I understood you to say forty dollars. Four dollars is a different matter."

"Josh," interrupted the more observant and cooler-headed [Pg 140]Miller, "it is high time, now, you and Peter go and look a'ter them sheep. The conch will soon be blowing for dinner. If you want a trade, you can have one when you get back."

Notwithstanding the plainness of his appearance and language, Tom Miller was captain of his own company. He gave this order quietly, and in his usual familiar way, but it was obviously to be obeyed without a remonstrance. In a minute the two hired men were off in company, leaving no one behind in the barn but Miller, his sons, and us two. I could see there was a motive for all this, but did not understand it.

"Now he's gone," continued Tom quietly, but laying an emphasis that sufficiently explained his meaning, "perhaps you'll let me know the true price of this watch. I've a mind for it, and may be we can agree."

"Four dollars," answered my uncle, distinctly. "I haf said you might haf it for dat money, and vhat I haf said once might always be."

"I will take it, then. I almost wish you had asked eight, though four dollars saved is suthin' for a poor man. It's so plaguy cheap I'm a little afraid on 't; but I'll ventur'. There; there's your money, and in hard cash."

"Dank you, sir. Won't das ladies choose to look at my drinkets?"

"Oh! if you want to deal with ladies who buy chains and rings, the Nest House is the place. My woman wouldn't know what to do with sich things, and don't set herself up for a fine lady at all. That chap who has just gone for the sheep is the only great man we have about this farm."

"Ja, ja; he ist a nople in a dirty shirt: ja, ja; why hast he dem pig feelin's?"

"I believe you have named them just as they ought to be, pig's feelin's. It's because he wishes to thrust his own snout all over the trough, and is mad when he finds anybody else's in the way. We're getting to have plenty of such fellows up and down the country, and an uncomfortable time they give us. Boys, I do believe it will turn out, a'ter all, that Josh is an Injin!"

"I know he is," answered the oldest of the two sons, a lad of nineteen; "where else should he be so much of [Pg 141]nights and Sundays, but at their trainin's?—and what was the meanin' of the calico bundle I saw under his arm a month ago, as I told you on at the time?"

"If I find it out to be as you say, Harry, he shall tramp off of this farm. I'll have no Injins here!"

"Vell I dought I dit see an olt Injin in a hut up yonder ast by der woots!" put in my uncle, innocently.

"Oh! that is Susquesus, an Onondago; he is a true Injin, and a gentleman; but we have a parcel of the mock gentry about, who are a pest and an eye-sore to every honest man in the country. Half on 'em are nothing but thieves in mock Injin dresses. The law is ag'in 'em, right is ag'in 'em, and every true friend of liberty in the country ought to be ag'in 'em."

"Vhat ist der matter in dis coontry? I hear in Europe how America ist a free lant, ant how efery man hast his rights; but since I got here dey do nothin' but talk of barons, and noples, and tenants, and arisdograts, and all der bat dings I might leaf behint me, in der olt worlt."

"The plain matter is, friend, that they who have got little, envy them that's got much; and the struggle is to see which is the strongest. On the one side is the law, and right, and bargains, and contracts; and on the other thousands—not of dollars, but of men. Thousands of voters; d'ye understand?"

"Ja, ja—I oonderstands; dat ist easy enough. But vhy do dey dalk so much of noples and arisdograts?—ist der noples and arisdograts in America?"

"Well, I don't much understand the natur' of sich things; there sartainly is a difference in men, and a difference in their fortun's, and edications, and such sort of things."

"Und der law, den, favours der rich man at der cost of der poor, in America, too, does it? Und you haf arisdograts who might not pay taxes, and who holt all der offices, and get all der pooblic money, and who ist petter pefore de law, in all dings, dan ast dem dat be not arisdograts? Is it so?"

Miller laughed outright, and shook his head at this question, continuing to examine the trinkets the whole time.

"No, no, my friend, we've not much of that, in this part of the world, either. Rich men get very few offices, to begin [Pg 142]with; for it's an argooment in favour of a man for an office, that he's poor, and wants it. Folks don't so much ask who the office wants, as who wants the office. Then, as for taxes, there isn't much respect paid to the rich, on that score. Young 'Squire Littlepage pays the tax on this farm directly himself, and it's assessed half as high ag'in, all things considered, as any other farm on his estate."

"But dat ist not right."

"Right! Who says it is?—or who thinks there is anything right about assessments, anywhere? I have heard assessors, with my own ears, use such words as these:—'Sich a man is rich, and can afford to pay,' and 'sich a man is poor, and it will come hard on him.' Oh! they kiver up dishonesty, now-a-days, under all sorts of argooments."

"But der law; der rich might haf der law on deir side, surely?"

"In what way, I should like to know? Juries be everything, and juries will go accordin' to their feelin's, as well as other men. I've seen the things with my own eyes. The county pays just enough a-day to make poor men like to be on juries, and they never fail to attend, while them that can pay their fines stay away, and so leave the law pretty much in the hands of one party. No rich man gains his cause, unless his case is so strong it can't be helped."

I had heard this before, there being a very general complaint throughout the country of the practical abuses connected with the jury system. I have heard intelligent lawyers complain, that whenever a cause of any interest is to be tried, the first question asked is not "what are the merits?" "which has the law and the facts on his side?" but "who is likely to be on the jury?"—thus obviously placing the composition of the jury before either law or evidence. Systems may have a very fair appearance on paper and as theories, that are execrable in practice. As for juries, I believe the better opinion of the intelligent of all countries is, that while they are a capital contrivance to resist the abuse of power in narrow governments, in governments of a broad constituency they have the effect, which might easily be seen, of placing the control of the law in the hands of those who would be most apt to abuse it; since it is adding to, instead of withstanding and resisting the con[Pg 143]trolling authority of the State, from which, in a popular government, most of the abuses must unavoidably proceed.

As for my uncle Ro, he was disposed to pursue the subject with Miller, who turned out to be a discreet and conscientious man. After a very short pause, as if to reflect on what had been said, he resumed the discourse.

"Vhat, den, makes arisdograts in dis coontry?" asked my uncle.

"Wa-a-l"—no man but an American of New England descent, as was the case with Miller, can give this word its attic sound—"Wa-a-l, it's hard to say. I hear a great deal about aristocrats, and I read a great deal about aristocrats, in this country, and I know that most folks look upon them as hateful, but I'm by no means sartain I know what an aristocrat is. Do you happen to know anything about it, friend?"

"Ja, ja; an arisdograt ist one of a few men dat hast all de power of de government in deir own hands."

"King! That isn't what we think an aristocrat in this part of the world. Why, we call them critturs here dimigogues! Now, young 'Squire Littlepage, who owns the Nest House, over yonder, and who is owner of all this estate, far and near, is what we call an aristocrat, and he hasn't power enough to be named town clerk, much less to anything considerable, or what is worth having."

"How can he be an arisdograt, den?"

"How, sure enough, if your account be true! I tell you 'tis the dimigogues that be the aristocrats of America. Why, Josh Brigham, who has just gone for the sheep, can get more votes for any office in the country than young Littlepage!"

"Berhaps dis young Littlebage ist a pat yoong man?"

"Not he; he's as good as any on 'em, and better than most. Besides, if he was as wicked as Lucifer, the folks of the country don't know anything about it, sin' he's be'n away ever sin' he has be'n a man."

"Vhy, den, gan't he haf as many votes as dat poor, ignorant fellow might haf?—das ist ott."

"It is odd, but it's true as gospel. Why, it may not be so easy to tell. Many men, many minds, you know. Some [Pg 144]folks don't like him because he lives in a big house; some hate him because they think he is better off than they are themselves; others mistrust him because he wears a fine coat; and some pretend to laugh at him because he got his property from his father, and grand'ther, and so on, and didn't make it himself. Accordin' to some folks' notions, now-a-days, a man ought to enj'y only the property he heaps together himself."

"If dis be so, your Herr Littlebage ist no arisdograt."

"Wa-a-l, that isn't the idee, hereaway. We have had a great many meetin's, latterly, about the right of the people to their farms; and there has been a good deal of talk at them meetin's consarnin' aristocracy and feudal tenors; do you know what a feudal tenor is, too?"

"Ja; dere ist moch of dat in Teutchland—in mine coontry. It ist not ferry easy to explain it in a few vords, but der brincipal ding ist dat der vassal owes a serfice to hist lort. In de olten dimes dis serfice vast military, und dere ist someding of dat now. It ist de noples who owe der feudal serfice, brincipally, in mine coontry, and dey owes it to de kings and brinces."

"And don't you call giving a chicken for rent feudal service, in Germany?"

Uncle Ro and I laughed, in spite of our efforts to the contrary, there being a pathos in this question that was supremely ridiculous. Curbing his merriment, however, as soon as he could, my uncle answered the question.

"If der landlordt hast a right to coome and dake as many chickens as he bleases, und ast often ast he bleases, den dat wouldt look like a feudal right; but if de lease says dat so many chickens moost be paid a-year, for der rent, vhy dat ist all der same as baying so much moneys; und it might be easier for der tenant to bay in chicken ast it might be to bay in der silver. Vhen a man canst bay his debts in vhat he makes himself, he ist ferry interpentent."

"It does seem so, I vow! Yet there's folks about here, and some at Albany, that call it feudal for a man to have to carry a pair of fowls to the landlord's office, and the landlord an aristocrat for asking it!"

"But der man canst sent a poy, or a gal, or a nigger, wid his fowls, if he bleases?"

[Pg 145]

"Sartain; all that is asked is that the fowls should come."

"Und vhen der batroon might owe hist tailor, or hist shoemaker, must he not go to hist shop, or find him and bay him vhat he owes, or be suet for der debt?"

"That's true, too; boys, put me in mind of telling that to Josh, this evening. Yes, the greatest landlord in the land must hunt up his creditor, or be sued, all the same as the lowest tenant."

"Und he most bay in a partic'lar ding; he most bay in golt or silver?"

"True; lawful tender is as good for one as 'tis for t'other."

"Und if your Herr Littlebage signs a baper agreein' to gif der apples from dat orchart to somebody on his landts, most he send or carry der apples, too?"

"To be sure; that would be the bargain."

"Und he most carry der ferry apples dat grows on dem ferry drees, might it not be so?"

"All true as gospel. If a man contracts to sell the apples of one orchard, he can't put off the purchaser with the apples of another."

"Und der law ist der same for one ast for anudder, in dese t'ings?"

"There is no difference; and there should be none."

"Und der batroons und der landlordts wants to haf der law changet, so dat dey may be excuset from baying der debts accordin' to der bargains, und to gif dem atfantages over der poor tenants?"

"I never heard anything of the sort, and don't believe they want any such change."

"Of vhat, den, dost der beople complain?"

"Of having to pay rent at all; they think the landlords ought to be made to sell their farms, or give them away. Some stand out for the last."

"But der landlordts don't vant to sell deir farms; und dey might not be made to sell vhat ist deir own, and vhat dey don't vant to sell, any more dan der tenants might be made to sell deir hogs and deir sheep, vhen dey don't vant to sell dem."

"It does seem so, boys, as I've told the neighbours, all [Pg 146]along. But I'll tell this Dutchman all about it. Some folks want the State to look a'ter the title of young Littlepage, pretending he has no title."

"But der State wilt do dat widout asking for it particularly, vill it not?"

"I never heard that it would."

"If anybody hast a claim to der broperty, vilt not der courts try it?"

"Yes, yes—in that way; but a tenant can't set up a title ag'in his landlord."

"Vhy should he? He canst haf no title but his landlort's, and it vould be roguery and cheatery to let a man get into der bossession of a farm under der pretence of hiring it, und den coome out und claim it as owner. If any tenant dinks he hast a better right dan his landlort, he can put der farm vhere it vast before he might be a tenant, und den der State wilt examine into der title, I fancys."

"Yes, yes—in that way; but these men want it another way. What they want is for the State to set up a legal examination, and turn the landlords off altogether, if they can, and then let themselves have the farms in their stead."

"But dat would not be honest to dem dat hafen't nothing to do wid der farms. If der State owns der farms, it ought to get as moch as it can for dem, and so safe all der people from baying taxes. It looks like roguery, all roundt."

"I believe it is that, and nothing else! As you say, the State will examine into the title as it is, and there is no need of any laws about it."

"Would der State, dink you, pass a law dat might inquire into de demandts dat are made against der batroons, vhen der tratesmen sent in deir bills?"

"I should like to see any patroon ask sich a thing! He would be laughed at, from York to Buffalo."

"Und he would desarf it. By vhat I see, frient, your denants be der arisdograts, und der landlordts der vassals."

"Why you see—what may your name be?—as we're likely to become acquainted, I should like to know your name."

"My name is Greisenbach, und I comes from Preussen."

"Well, Mr. Greisenbach, the difficulty about aristocracy [Pg 147]is this. Hugh Littlepage is rich, and his money gives him advantages that other men can't enj'y. Now, that sticks in some folks' crops."

"Oh! den it ist meant to divite broperty in dis coontry; und to say no man might haf more ast anudder?"

"Folks don't go quite as far as that, yet; though some of their talk does squint that-a-way, I must own. Now, there are folks about here that complain that old Madam Littlepage and her young ladies don't visit the poor."

"Vell, if deys be hard-hearted, und hast no feelin's for der poor and miseraple——"

"No, no; that is not what I mean, neither. As for that sort of poor, everybody allows they do more for them than anybody else about here. But they don't visit the poor that isn't in want."

"Vell, it ist a ferry coomfortable sort of poor dat ist not in any vant. Berhaps you mean dey don't associate wid 'em, as equals?"

"That's it. Now, on that head, I must say there is some truth in the charge, for the gals over at the Nest never come here to visit my gal, and Kitty is as nice a young thing as there is about."

"Und Gitty goes to visit the gal of the man who lives over yonter, in de house on der hill?" pointing to a residence of a man of the very humblest class in the town.

"Hardly! Kitty's by no means proud, but I shouldn't like her to be too thick there."

"Oh! you're an arisdograt, den, after all; else might your daughter visit dat man's daughter."

"I tell you, Grunzebach, or whatever your name may be," returned Miller, a little angrily, though a particularly good-natured man in the main, "that my gal shall not visit old Steven's da'ghters."

"Vell, I'm sure she might do as she bleases; but I dinks der Mademoiselles Littlepage might do ast dey pleases, too."

"There is but one Littlepage gal; if you saw them out this morning in the carriage, you saw two York gals and parson Warren's da'ghter with her."

"Und dis parson Warren might be rich, too?"

"Not he; he hasn't a sixpence on 'arth but what he gets from the parish. Why he is so poor his friends had to edicate [Pg 148]his da'ghter, I have heern say, over and over!"

"Und das Littlepage gal und de Warren gal might be goot friends?"

"They are the thickest together of any two young women in this part of the world. I've never seen two gals more intimate. Now, there's a young lady in the town, one Opportunity Newcome, who, one might think, would stand before Mary Warren at the big house, any day in the week, but she doesn't! Mary takes all the shine out on her."

"Which ist der richest, Obbordunity or Mary?"

"By all accounts Mary Warren has nothing, while Opportunity is thought to come next to Matty herself, as to property, of all the young gals about here. But Opportunity is no favourite at the Nest."

"Den it would seem, after all, dat dis Miss Littlebage does not choose her friends on account of riches. She likes Mary Warren, who ist boor, und she does not like Obbordunity, who ist vell to do in de vorlt. Berhaps der Littlepages be not as big arisdograts as you supposes."

Miller was bothered, while I felt a disposition to laugh. One of the commonest errors of those who, from position and habits, are unable to appreciate the links which connect cultivated society together, is to refer everything to riches. Riches, in a certain sense, as a means and through their consequences, may be a principal agent in dividing society into classes; but, long after riches have taken wings, their fruits remain, when good use has been made of their presence. So untrue is the vulgar opinion—or it might be better to say the opinion of the vulgar—that money is the one tie which unites polished society, that it is a fact which all must know who have access to the better circles of even our own commercial towns, that those circles, loosely and accidentally constructed as they are, receive with reluctance, nay, often sternly exclude, vulgar wealth from their associations, while the door is open to the cultivated who have nothing. The young, in particular, seldom think much of money, while family connections, early communications, similarity of opinions, and, most of all, of tastes, bring sets together, and often keep them together long after the golden band has been broken.

[Pg 149]

But men have great difficulty in comprehending things that lie beyond their reach; and money being apparent to the senses, while refinement, through its infinite gradations, is visible principally, and, in some cases, exclusively to its possessors, it is not surprising that common minds should refer a tie that, to them, would otherwise be mysterious, to the more glittering influence, and not to the less obvious. Infinite, indeed, are the gradations of cultivated habits; nor are as many of them the fruits of caprice and self-indulgence as men usually suppose. There is a common sense, nay, a certain degree of wisdom, in the laws of even etiquette, while they are confined to equals, that bespeak the respect of those who understand them. As for the influence of associations on men's manners, on their exteriors, and even on their opinions, my uncle Ro has long maintained that it is so apparent that one of his time of life could detect the man of the world, at such a place as Saratoga even, by an intercourse of five minutes; and what is more, that he could tell the class in life from which he originally emerged. He tried it, the last summer, on our return from Ravensnest, and I was amused with his success, though he made a few mistakes, it must be admitted.

"That young man comes from the better circles, but he has never travelled," he said, alluding to one of a group which still remained at table; "while he who is next him has travelled, but commenced badly." This may seem a very nice distinction, but I think it is easily made. "There are two brothers, of an excellent family in Pennsylvania," he continued, "as one might know from the name; the eldest has travelled, the youngest has not." This was a still harder distinction to make, but one who knew the world as well as my uncle Ro could do it. He went on amusing me by his decisions—all of which were respectable, and some surprisingly accurate—in this way for several minutes. Now, like has an affinity to like, and in this natural attraction is to be found the secret of the ordinary construction of society. You shall put two men of superior minds in a room full of company, and they will find each other out directly, and enjoy the accident. The same is true as to the mere modes of thinking that characterize social castes; and it is truer in this country, perhaps, than most others, from the [Pg 150]mixed character of our associations. Of the two, I am really of opinion that the man of high intellect, who meets with one of moderate capacity, but of manners and social opinions on a level with his own, has more pleasure in the communication than with one of equal mind, but of inferior habits.

That Patt should cling to one like Mary Warren seemed to me quite as natural as that she should be averse to much association with Opportunity Newcome. The money of the latter, had my sister been in the least liable to such an influence, was so much below what she had been accustomed, all her life, to consider affluence, that it would have had no effect, even had she been subject to so low a consideration in regulating her intercourse with others. But this poor Tom Miller could not understand. He could "only reason from what he knew," and he knew little of the comparative notions of wealth, and less of the powers of cultivation on the mind and manners. He was struck, however, with a fact that did come completely within the circle of his own knowledge, and that was the circumstance that Mary Warren, while admitted to be poor, was the bosom friend of her whom he was pleased to call, sometimes, the "Littlepage gal." It was easy to see he felt the force of this circumstance; and it is to be hoped that, as he was certainly a wiser, he also became a better man, on one of the most common of the weaknesses of human frailty.

"Wa-a-l," he replied to my uncle's last remark, after fully a minute of silent reflection, "I don't know! It would seem so, I vow; and yet it hasn't been my wife's notion, nor is it Kitty's. You're quite upsetting my idees about aristocrats; for though I like the Littlepages, I've always set 'em down as desp'rate aristocrats."

"Nein, nein; dem as vat you calls dimigogues be der American arisdograts. Dey gets all der money of der pooblic, and haf all der power, but dey gets a little mads because dey might not force demselves on der gentlemen and laties of der coontry, as vell as on der lands und der offices!"

"I swan! I don't know but this may be true! A'ter all, I don't know what right anybody has to complain of the Littlepages."

"Does dey dreat beoples vell, as might coome to see dem?"

"Yes, indeed! if folks treat them well, as sometimes doesn't happen.[Pg 151] I've seen hogs here"—Tom was a little Saxon in his figures, but their nature will prove their justification—"I've seen hogs about here, bolt right in before old Madam Littlepage, and draw their chairs up to her fire, and squirt about the tobacco, and never think of even taking off their hats. Them folks be always huffy about their own importance, though they never think of other people's feelin's."

We were interrupted by the sound of wheels, and looking round, we perceived that the carriage of my grandmother had driven up to the farm-house door, on its return home. Miller conceived it to be no more than proper to go and see if he were wanted, and we followed him slowly, it being the intention of my uncle to offer his mother a watch, by way of ascertaining if she could penetrate his disguise.


"Will you buy any tape,
Or lace for your cape?—
Come to the pedlar,
Money's a medler
That doth utter all men's ware-a."

Winter's Tale.

There they sat, those four young creatures, a perfect galaxy of bright and beaming eyes. There was not a plain face among them; and I was struck with the circumstance of how rare it was to meet with a youthful and positively ugly American female. Kitty, too, was at the door by the time we reached the carriage, and she also was a blooming and attractive-looking girl. It was a thousand pities that she spoke, however; the vulgarity of her utterance, tone of voice, cadences, and accent, the latter a sort of singing whine, being in striking contrast to a sort of healthful and [Pg 152]vigorous delicacy that marked her appearance. All the bright eyes grew brighter as I drew nearer, carrying the flute in my hand; but neither of the young ladies spoke.

"Buy a vatch, ma'ams," said uncle Ro, approaching his mother, cap in hand, with his box open.

"I thank you, friend; but I believe all here are provided with watches already."

"Mine ist ferry sheaps."

"I dare say they may be," returned dear grandmother, smiling; "though cheap watches are not usually the best. Is that very pretty pencil gold?"

"Yes, ma'ams; it ist of goot gold. If it might not be, I might not say so."

I saw suppressed smiles among the girls; all of whom, however, were too well-bred to betray to common observers the sense of the ridiculous that each felt at the equivoque that suggested itself in my uncle's words.

"What is the price of this pencil," asked my grandmother.

Uncle Roger had too much tact to think of inducing his mother to make a purchase as he had influenced Miller, and he mentioned something near the true value of the "article," which was fifteen dollars.

"I will take it," returned my grandmother, dropping three half eagles into the box; when, turning to Mary Warren, she begged her acceptance of the pencil, with as much respect in her manner as if she solicited instead of conferred a favour.

Mary Warren's handsome face was covered with blushes; she looked pleased, and she accepted the offering, though I thought she hesitated one moment about the propriety of so doing, most probably on account of its value. My sister asked to look at this little present, and after admiring it, it passed from hand to hand, each praising its shape and ornaments. All my uncle's wares, indeed, were in perfect good taste, the purchase having been made of an importer of character, and paid for at some cost. The watches, it is true, were, with one or two exceptions, cheap, as were most of the trinkets; but my uncle had about his person a watch, or two, and some fine jewelry, that he had brought from [Pg 153]Europe himself, expressly to bestow in presents, among which had been the pencil in question, and which he had dropped into the box but a moment before it was sold.

"Wa-a-l, Madam Littlepage," cried Miller, who used the familiarity of one born on the estate, "this is the queerest watch-pedlar I've met with, yet. He asks fifteen dollars for that pencil, and only four for this watch!" showing his own purchase as he concluded.

My grandmother took the watch in her hand, and examined it attentively.

"It strikes me as singularly cheap!" she remarked, glancing a little distrustfully, as I fancied, at her son, as if she thought he might be selling his brushes cheaper than those who only stole the materials, because he stole them ready made. "I know that these watches are made for very little in the cheap countries of Europe, but one can hardly see how this machinery was put together for so small a sum."

"I has 'em, matam, at all brices," put in my uncle.

"I have a strong desire to purchase a good lady's watch, but should a little fear buying of any but a known and regular dealer."

"You needn't fear us, ma'am," I ventured to say. "If we might sheat anypodies, we shouldn't sheat so goot a laty."

I do not know whether my voice struck Patt's ear pleasantly, or a wish to see the project of her grandmother carried out at once, induced my sister to interfere; but interfere she did, and that by urging her aged parent to put confidence in us. Years had taught my grandmother caution, and she hesitated.

"But all these watches are of base metal, and I want one of good gold and handsome finish," observed my grandmother.

My uncle immediately produced a watch that he had bought of Blondel, in Paris, for five hundred francs, and which was a beautiful little ornament for a lady's belt. He gave it to my grandmother, who read the name of the manufacturer with some little surprise. The watch itself was then examined attentively, and was applauded by all.

"And what may be the price of this?" demanded my [Pg 154]grandmother.

"One hoondred dollars, matam; and sheaps at dat."

Tom Miller looked at the bit of tinsel in his own hand, and at the smaller, but exquisitely-shaped "article" that my grandmother held up to look at, suspended by its bit of ribbon, and was quite as much puzzled as he had evidently been a little while before, in his distinctions between the rich and the poor. Tom was not able to distinguish the base from the true; that was all.

My grandmother did not appear at all alarmed at the price, though she cast another distrustful glance or two, over her spectacles, at the imaginary pedlar. At length the beauty of the watch overcame her.

"If you will bring this watch to yonder large dwelling, I will pay you the hundred dollars for it," she said; "I have not as much money with me here."

"Ja, ja—ferry goot; you might keep das vatch, laty, and I will coome for der money after I haf got some dinners of somebodys."

My grandmother had no scruple about accepting of the credit, of course, and she was about to put the watch in her pocket, when Patt laid her little gloved hand on it, and cried—

"Now, dearest grandmother, let it be done at once—there is no one but us three present, you know!"

"Such is the impatience of a child!" exclaimed the elder lady, laughing. "Well, you shall be indulged. I gave you that pencil for a keep-sake, Mary, only en attendant, it having been my intention to offer a watch, as soon as a suitable one could be found, as a memorial of the sense I entertain of the spirit you showed during that dark week in which the anti-renters were so menacing. Here, then, is such a watch as I might presume to ask you to have the goodness to accept."

Mary Warren seemed astounded! The colour mounted to her temples; then she became suddenly pale. I had never seen so pretty a picture of gentle female distress—a distress that arose from conflicting, but creditable feelings.

"Oh! Mrs. Littlepage!" she exclaimed, after looking in astonishment at the offering for a moment, and in silence. "You cannot have intended that beautiful watch for me!"

"For you, my dear; the beautiful watch is not a whit [Pg 155]too good for my beautiful Mary."

"But, dear, dear Mrs. Littlepage, it is altogether too handsome for my station—for my means."

"A lady can very well wear such a watch; and you are a lady in every sense of the word, and so you need have no scruples on that account. As for the means, you will not misunderstand me if I remind you that it will be bought with my means, and there can be no extravagance in the purchase."

"But we are so poor, and that watch has so rich an appearance! It scarcely seems right."

"I respect your feelings and sentiments, my dear girl, and can appreciate them. I suppose you know I was once as poor, nay, much poorer than you are, yourself."

"You, Mrs. Littlepage! No, that can hardly be. You are of an affluent and very respectable family, I know."

"It is quite true, nevertheless, my dear. I shall not affect extreme humility, and deny that the Malbones did and do belong to the gentry of the land, but my brother and myself were once so much reduced as to toil with the surveyors, in the woods, quite near this property. We had then no claim superior to yours, and in many respects were reduced much lower. Besides, the daughter of an educated and well-connected clergyman has claims that, in a worldly point of view alone, entitle her to a certain consideration. You will do me the favour to accept my offering?"

"Dear Mrs. Littlepage! I do not know how to refuse you, or how to accept so rich a gift! You will let me consult my father, first?"

"That will be no more than proper, my dear," returned my beloved grandmother, quietly putting the watch into her own pocket; "Mr. Warren, luckily, dines with us, and the matter can be settled before we sit down to table."

This ended the discussion, which had commenced under an impulse of feeling that left us all its auditors. As for my uncle and myself, it is scarcely necessary to say we were delighted with the little scene. The benevolent wish to gratify, on the one side, with the natural scruples on the other, about receiving, made a perfect picture for our contemplation. The three girls, who were witnesses of what passed, too much respected Mary's feelings to interfere, [Pg 156]though Patt restrained herself with difficulty. As to Tom Miller and Kitty, they doubtless wondered why "Warren's gal" was such a fool as to hesitate about accepting a watch that was worth a hundred dollars. This was another point they did not understand.

"You spoke of dinner," continued my grandmother, looking at my uncle. "If you and your companion will follow us to the house, I will pay you for the watch, and order you a dinner in the bargain."

We were right down glad to accept this offer, making our bows and expressing our thanks, as the carriage whirled off. We remained a moment, to take our leave of Miller.

"When you've got through at the Nest," said that semi-worthy fellow, "give us another call here. I should like my woman and Kitty to have a look at your finery, before you go down to the village with it."

With a promise to return to the farm-house, we proceeded on our way to the building which, in the familiar parlance of the country, was called the Nest, or the Nest House, from Ravensnest, its true name, and which Tom Miller, in his country dialect, called the "Neest." The distance between the two buildings was less than half a mile, the grounds of the family residence lying partly between them. Many persons would have called the extensive lawns which surrounded my paternal abode a park, but it never bore that name with us. They were too large for a paddock, and might very well have come under the former appellation; but, as deer, or animals of any sort, except those that are domestic, had never been kept within it, the name had not been used. We called them the grounds—a term which applies equally to large and small enclosures of this nature—while the broad expanse of verdure which lies directly under the windows goes by the name of the lawn. Notwithstanding the cheapness of land among us, there has been very little progress made in the art of landscape gardening; and if we have anything like park scenery, it is far more owing to the gifts of a bountiful nature than to any of the suggestions of art. Thanks to the cultivated taste of Downing, as well as to his well-directed labours, this reproach is likely to be soon removed, and country life will acquire this pleasure, among the many others that are so peculiarly its own. After lying for more than twenty years[Pg 157]—a stigma on the national taste—disfigured by ravines or gullies, and otherwise in a rude and discreditable condition, the grounds of the White House have been brought into a condition to denote that they are the property of a civilized country. The Americans are as apt at imitation as the Chinese, with a far greater disposition to admit of change; and little beyond good models are required to set them on the right track. But it is certain that, as a nation, we have yet to acquire nearly all that belongs to the art I have mentioned that lies beyond avenues of trees, with an occasional tuft of shrubbery. The abundance of the latter, that forms the wilderness of sweets, the masses of flowers that spot the surface of Europe, the beauty of curved lines, and the whole finesse of surprises, reliefs, back-grounds and vistas, are things so little known among us as to be almost "arisdogratic," as my uncle Ro would call the word.

Little else had been done at Ravensnest than to profit by the native growth of the trees, and to take advantage of the favourable circumstances in the formation of the grounds. Most travellers imagine that it might be an easy thing to lay out a park in the virgin forest, as the axe might spare the thickets, and copses, and woods, that elsewhere are the fruits of time and planting. This is all a mistake, however, as the rule; though modified exceptions may and do exist. The tree of the American forest shoots upward toward the light, growing so tall and slender as to be unsightly; and even when time has given its trunk is due size, the top is rarely of a breadth to ornament a park or a lawn, while its roots, seeking their nourishment in the rich alluvium formed by the decayed leaves of a thousand years, lie too near the surface to afford sufficient support after losing the shelter of its neighbours. It is owing to reasons like these that the ornamental grounds of an American country-house have usually to be commenced ab origine, and that natural causes so little aid in finishing them.

My predecessors had done a little towards assisting nature, at the Nest, and what was of almost equal importance, in the state of knowledge on this subject as it existed in the country sixty years since, they had done little to mar her efforts. The results were, that the grounds of Ravensnest [Pg 158]possess a breadth that is the fruit of the breadth of our lands, and a rural beauty which, without being much aided by art, was still attractive. The herbage was kept short by sheep, of which one thousand, of the fine wool, were feeding on the lawns, along the slopes, and particularly on the distant heights, as we crossed the grounds on our way to the doors.

The Nest House was a respectable New York country dwelling, as such buildings were constructed among us in the last quarter of the past century, a little improved and enlarged by the second and third generations of its owners. The material was of stone, the low cliff on which it stood supplying enough of an excellent quality; and the shape of the main corps de batiment as near a square as might be. Each face of this part of the constructions offered five windows to view, this being almost the prescribed number for a country residence in that day, as three have since got to be in towns. These windows, however, had some size, the main building being just sixty feet square, which was about ten feet in each direction larger than was common so soon after the revolution. But wings had been added to the original building, and that on a plan which conformed to the shape of a structure in square logs, that had been its predecessor on its immediate site. These wings were only of a story and a half each, and doubling on each side of the main edifice just far enough to form a sufficient communication, they ran back to the very verge of a cliff some forty feet in height, overlooking, at their respective ends, a meandering rivulet, and a wide expanse of very productive flats, that annually filled my barns with hay and my cribs with corn. Of this level and fertile bottom-land there was near a thousand acres, stretching in three directions, of which two hundred belonged to what was called the Nest Farm. The remainder was divided among the farms of the adjacent tenantry. This little circumstance, among the thousand-and-one other atrocities that were charged upon me, had been made a ground of accusation, to which I shall presently have occasion to advert. I shall do this the more readily, because the fact has not yet reached the ears and set in motion the tongues of legislators—Heaven bless us, how words do get corrupted by too much use!—in their enumeration of the griefs of the tenants of the State.

[Pg 159]

Everything about the Nest was kept in perfect order, and in a condition to do credit to the energy and taste of my grandmother, who had ordered all these things for the last few years, or since the death of my grandfather. This circumstance, connected with the fact that the building was larger and more costly than those of most of the other citizens of the country, had, of late years, caused Ravensnest to be termed an "aristocratic residence." This word "aristocratic," I find since my return home, has got to be a term of expansive signification, its meaning depending on the particular habits and opinions of the person who happens to use it. Thus, he who chews tobacco thinks it aristocratic in him who deems the practice nasty not to do the same; the man who stoops accuses him who is straight in the back of having aristocratic shoulders; and I have actually met with one individual who maintained that it was excessively aristocratic to pretend not to blow one's nose with his fingers. It will soon be aristocratic to maintain the truth of the familiar Latin axiom of "de gustibus non disputandum est."

As we approached the door of the Nest House, which opened on the piazza that stretched along three sides of the main building, and the outer ends of both wings, the coachman was walking his horses away from it, on the road that led to the stables. The party of ladies had made a considerable circuit after quitting the farm, and had arrived but a minute before us. All the girls but Mary Warren had entered the house, careless on the subject of the approach of two pedlars; she remained, however, at the side of my grandmother, to receive us.

"I believe in my soul," whispered uncle Ro, "that my dear old mother has a secret presentiment who we are, by her manifesting so much respect.—T'ousand t'anks, matam, t'ousand t'anks," he continued, dropping into his half-accurate half-blundering broken English, "for dis great honour, such as we might not expect das laty of das house to wait for us at her door."

"This young lady tells me that she has seen you before, and that she understands you are both persons of education and good manners, who have been driven from your native country by political troubles. Such being the case, I cannot [Pg 160]regard you as common pedlars. I have known what it was to be reduced in fortune,"—my dear grandmother's voice trembled a little—"and can feel for those who thus suffer."

"Matam, dere might be moch trut' in some of dis," answered my uncle, taking off his cap, and bowing very much like a gentleman, an act in which I imitated him immediately. "We haf seen petter tays; and my son, dere, hast peen edicatet at an university. But we are now poor pedlars of vatches, und dem dat might make moosic in der streets."

My grandmother looked as a lady would look under such circumstances, neither too free to forget present appearances, nor coldly neglectful of the past. She knew that something was due to her own household, and to the example she ought to set it, while she felt that far more was due to the sentiment that unites the cultivated. We were asked into the house, were told a table was preparing for us, and were treated with a generous and considerate hospitality that involved no descent from her own character, or that of the sex; the last being committed to the keeping of every lady.

In the mean time, business proceeded with my uncle. He was paid his hundred dollars; and all his stores of value, including rings, brooches, ear-rings, chains, bracelets, and other trinkets that he had intended as presents to his wards, were produced from his pockets, and laid before the bright eyes of the three girls—Mary Warren keeping in the back ground, as one who ought not to look on things unsuited to her fortune. Her father had arrived, however, had been consulted, and the pretty watch was already attached to the girdle of the prettier waist. I fancied the tear of gratitude that still floated in her serene eyes was a jewel of far higher price than any my uncle could exhibit.

We had been shown into the library, a room that was in the front of the house, and of which the windows all opened on the piazza. I was at first a little overcome, at thus finding myself, and unrecognized, under the paternal roof, and in a dwelling that was my own, after so many years of absence. Shall I confess it! Everything appeared diminutive and mean, after the buildings to which I had been accustomed in the old world. I am not now drawing comparisons [Pg 161]with the palaces of princes, and the abodes of the great, as the American is apt to fancy, whenever anything is named that is superior to the things to which he is accustomed; but to the style, dwellings, and appliances of domestic life that pertain to those of other countries who have not a claim in anything to be accounted my superiors—scarcely my equals. In a word, American aristocracy, or that which it is getting to be the fashion to stigmatize as aristocratic, would be deemed very democratic in most of the nations of Europe. Our Swiss brethren have their chateaux and their habits that are a hundred times more aristocratic than anything about Ravensnest, without giving offence to liberty; and I feel persuaded, were the proudest establishment in all America pointed out to a European as an aristocratic abode, he would be very apt to laugh at it, in his sleeve. The secret of this charge among ourselves is the innate dislike which is growing up in the country to see any man distinguished from the mass around him in anything, even though it should be in merit. It is nothing but the expansion of the principle which gave rise to the traditionary feud between the "plebeians and patricians" of Albany, at the commencement of this century, and which has now descended so much farther than was then contemplated by the soi-disant "plebeians" of that day, as to become quite disagreeable to their own descendants. But to return to myself—

I will own that, so far from finding any grounds of exultation in my own aristocratical splendour, when I came to view my possessions at home, I felt mortified and disappointed. The things that I had fancied really respectable, and even fine, from recollection, now appeared very common-place, and in many particulars mean. "Really," I found myself saying sotto voce, "all this is scarcely worthy of being the cause of deserting the right, setting sound principles at defiance, and of forgetting God and his commandments!" Perhaps I was too inexperienced to comprehend how capacious is the maw of the covetous man, and how microscopic the eye of envy.

"You are welcome to Ravensnest," said Mr. Warren, approaching and offering his hand in a friendly way, much as he would address any other young friend; "we arrived [Pg 162]a little before you, and I have had my ears and eyes open ever since, in the hope of hearing your flute, and of seeing your form in the highway, near the parsonage, where you promised to visit me."

Mary was standing at her father's elbow, as when I first saw her, and she gazed wistfully at my flute, as she would not have done had she seen me in my proper attire, assuming my proper character.

"I danks you, sir," was my answer. "We might haf plenty of times for a little moosic, vhen das laties shall be pleaset to say so. I canst blay Yankee Doodle, Hail Coloombias, and der 'Star Spangled Banner,' und all dem airs, as dey so moch likes at der taverns and on der road."

Mr. Warren laughed, and he took the flute from my hand, and began to examine it. I now trembled for the incognito! The instrument had been mine for many years, and was a very capital one, with silver keys, stops, and ornaments. What if Patt—what if my dear grandmother should recognise it! I would have given the handsomest trinket in my uncle's collection to get the flute back again into my own hands; but, before an opportunity offered for that, it went from hand to hand, as the instrument that had produced the charming sounds heard that morning, until it reached those of Martha. The dear girl was thinking of the jewelry, which, it will be remembered, was rich, and intended in part for herself, and she passed the instrument on, saying, hurriedly,—

"See, dear grandmother, this is the flute which you pronounced the sweetest toned of any you had ever heard!"

My grandmother took the flute, started, put her spectacles closer to her eyes, examined the instrument, turned pale—for her cheeks still retained a little of the colour of their youth—and then cast a glance hurriedly and anxiously at me. I could see that she was pondering on something profoundly in her most secret mind, for a minute or two. Luckily the others were too much occupied with the box of the pedlar to heed her movements. She walked slowly out of the door, almost brushing me as she passed, and went into the hall. Here she turned, and, catching my eye, she signed for me to join her. Obeying this signal, I followed, until I was led into a little room, in one of the wings, that I [Pg 163]well remembered as a sort of private parlour attached to my grandmother's own bed-room. To call it a boudoir would be to caricature things, its furniture being just that of the sort of room I have mentioned, or of a plain, neat, comfortable, country parlour. Here my grandmother took her seat on a sofa, for she trembled so she could not stand, and then she turned to gaze at me wistfully, and with an anxiety it would be difficult for me to describe.

"Do not keep me in suspense!" she said, almost awfully in tone and manner, "am I right in my conjecture?"

"Dearest grandmother, you are!" I answered, in my natural voice.

No more was needed: we hung on each other's necks, as had been my wont in boyhood.

"But who is that pedlar, Hugh?" demanded my grandmother, after a time. "Can it possibly be Roger, my son?"

"It is no other; we have come to visit you, incog."

"And why this disguise?—Is it connected with the troubles?"

"Certainly; we have wished to take a near view with our own eyes, and supposed it might be unwise to come openly, in our proper characters."

"In this you have done well; yet I hardly know how to welcome you, in your present characters. On no account must your real names be revealed. The demons of tar and feathers, the sons of liberty and equality, who illustrate their principles as they do their courage, by attacking the few with the many, would be stirring, fancying themselves heroes and martyrs in the cause of justice, did they learn you were here. Ten armed and resolute men might drive a hundred of them, I do believe; for they have all the cowardice of thieves, but they are heroes with the unarmed and feeble. Are you safe, yourselves, appearing thus disguised, under the new law?"

"We are not armed, not having so much as a pistol; and that will protect us."

"I am sorry to say, Hugh, that this country is no longer what I once knew it. Its justice, if not wholly departed, is taking to itself wings, and its blindness, not in a disregard of persons, but in a faculty of seeing only the stronger side. A landlord, in my opinion, would have but little hope, with [Pg 164]jury, judge, or executive, for doing that which thousands of the tenants have done, still do, and will continue to do, with perfect impunity, unless some dire catastrophe stimulates the public functionaries to their duties, by awakening public indignation."

"This is a miserable state of things, dearest grandmother; and what makes it worse, is the cool indifference with which most persons regard it. A better illustration of the utter selfishness of human nature cannot be given, than in the manner in which the body of the people look on, and see wrong thus done to a few of their number."

"Such persons as Mr. Seneca Newcome would answer, that the public sympathises with the poor, who are oppressed by the rich, because the last do not wish to let the first rob them of their estates! We hear a great deal of the strong robbing the weak, all over the world, but few among ourselves, I am afraid, are sufficiently clear-sighted to see how vivid an instance of the truth now exists among ourselves."

"Calling the tenants the strong, and the landlords the weak?"

"Certainly; numbers make strength, in this country, in which all power in practice, and most of it in theory, rests with the majority. Were there as many landlords as there are tenants, my life on it, no one would see the least injustice in the present state of things."

"So says my uncle: but I hear the light steps of the girls—we must be on our guard."

At that instant Martha entered, followed by all three of the girls, holding in her hand a very beautiful Manilla chain that my uncle had picked up in his travels, and had purchased as a present to my future wife, whomsoever she might turn out to be, and which he had had the indiscretion to show to his ward. A look of surprise was cast by each girl in succession, as she entered the room, on me, but neither said, and I fancy neither thought much of my being shut up there with an old lady of eighty, after the first moment. Other thoughts were uppermost at the moment.

"Look at this, dearest grandmamma!" cried Patt, holding up the chain as she entered the room. "Here is just the most exquisite chain that was ever wrought, and of the purest gold; but the pedlar refuses to part with it!"

"Perhaps you do not offer enough, my child; it is, in[Pg 165]deed, very, very beautiful; pray what does he say is its value?"

"One hundred dollars, he says; and I can readily believe it, for its weight is near half the money. I do wish Hugh were at home; I am certain he would contrive to get it, and make it a present to me!"

"Nein, nein, young lady," put in the pedlar, who, a little unceremoniously, had followed the girls into the room, though he knew, of course, precisely where he was coming; "dat might not be. Dat chain is der broperty of my son, t'ere, und I haf sworn it shalt only be gifen to his wife."

Patt coloured a little, and she pouted a good deal; then she laughed outright.

"If it is only to be had on those conditions, I am afraid I shall never own it," she said, saucily, though it was intended to be uttered so low as not to reach my ears. "I will pay the hundred dollars out of my own pocket-money, however, if that will buy it. Do say a good word for me, grandmamma!"

How prettily the hussy uttered that word of endearment, so different from the "paw" and "maw" one hears among the dirty-noses that are to be found in the mud-puddles! But our grand-parent was puzzled, for she knew with whom she had to deal, and of course saw that money would do nothing. Nevertheless, the state of the game rendered it necessary to say and do something that might have an appearance of complying with Patty's request.

"Can I have more success in persuading you to change your mind, sir?" she said, looking at her son in a way that let him know at once, or at least made him suspect at once, that she was in his secret. "It would give me great pleasure to be able to gratify my grand-daughter, by making her a present of so beautiful a chain."

My uncle Ro advanced to his mother, took the hand she had extended with the chain in it, in order the better to admire the trinket, and he kissed it with a profound respect, but in such a manner as to make it seem to the lookers-on an act of European usage, rather than what it was, the tempered salute of a child to his parent.

"Laty," he then said, with emphasis, "if anyboty might [Pg 166]make me change a resolution long since made, it would be one as fenerable, und gracious, und goot as I am sartain you most be. But I haf vowet to gif dat chain to das wife of mine son, vhen he might marry, one day, some bretty young American; und it might not be."

Dear grandmother smiled; but now she understood that it was really intended the chain was to be an offering to my wife, she no longer wished to change its destination. She examined the bauble a few moments, and said to me—

"Do you wish this, as well as your un—father, I should say? It is a rich present for a poor man to make."

"Ja, ja, laty, it ist so; but vhen der heart goes, golt might be t'ought sheap to go wid it."

The old lady was half ready to laugh in my face, at hearing this attempt at Germanic English; but the kindness, and delight, and benevolent tenderness of her still fine eyes, made me wish to throw myself in her arms again, and kiss her. Patt continued to bouder for a moment or two longer, but her excellent nature soon gave in, and the smiles returned to her countenance, as the sun issues from behind a cloud in May.

"Well, the disappointment may and must be borne," she said, good-naturedly; "though it is much the most lovely chain I have ever seen."

"I dare say the right person will one day find one quite as lovely to present to you!" said Henrietta Coldbrook, a little pointedly.

I did not like this speech. It was an allusion that a well-bred young woman ought not to have made, at least before others, even pedlars; and it was one that a young woman of a proper tone of feeling would not be apt to make. I determined from that instant the chain should never belong to Miss Henrietta, though she was a fine, showy girl, and though such a decision would disappoint my uncle sadly. I was a little surprised to see a slight blush on Patt's cheek, and then I remembered something of the name of the traveller, Beekman. Turning towards Mary Warren, I saw plain enough that she was disappointed because my sister was disappointed, and for no other reason in the world.

"Your grandmother will meet with another chain, when she goes to town, that will make you forget this," she whispered, [Pg 167]affectionately, close at my sister's ear.

Patt smiled, and kissed her friend with a warmth of manner that satisfied me these two charming young creatures loved each other sincerely. But my dear old grandmother's curiosity had been awakened, and she felt a necessity for having it appeased. She still held the chain, and as she returned it to me, who happened to be nearest to her, she said—

"And so, sir, your mind is sincerely made up to offer this chain to your future wife?"

"Yes, laty; or what might be better, to das yoong frau, before we might be marriet."

"And is your choice made?" glancing round at the girls, who were grouped together, looking at some other trinkets of my uncle's. "Have you chosen the young woman who is to possess so handsome a chain?"

"Nein, nein," I answered, returning the smile, and glancing also at the group; "dere ist so many peautiful laties in America, one needn't be in a hurry. In goot time I shalt find her dat ist intended for me."

"Well, grandmamma," interrupted Patt, "since nobody can have the chain, unless on certain conditions, here are the three other things that we have chosen for Ann, Henrietta, and myself, and they are a ring, a pair of bracelets, and a pair of ear-rings. The cost, altogether, will be two hundred dollars; can you approve of that?"

My grandmother, now she knew who was the pedlar, understood the whole matter, and had no scruples. The bargain was soon made, when she sent us all out of the room, under the pretence we should disturb her while settling with the watch-seller. Her real object, however, was to be alone with her son, not a dollar passing between them, of course.

[Pg 168]


"Our life was changed. Another love
In its lone woof began to twine;
But oh! the golden thread was wove
Between my sister's heart and mine."


Half an hour later, uncle Ro and myself were seated at table, eating our dinners as quietly as if we were in an inn. The footman who had set the table was an old family servant, one who had performed the same sort of duty in that very house for a quarter of a century. Of course he was not an American, no man of American birth ever remaining so long a time in an inferior station, or in any station so low as that of a house-servant. If he has good qualities enough to render it desirable to keep him, he is almost certain to go up in the world; if not, one does not care particularly about having him. But Europeans are less elastic and less ambitious, and it is no uncommon thing to find one of such an origin remaining a long time in the same service. Such had been the fact with this man, who had followed my own parents from Europe, when they returned from their marriage tour, and had been in the house on the occasion of my birth. From that time he had continued at the Nest, never marrying, nor ever manifesting the smallest wish for any change. He was an Englishman by birth; and what is very unusual in a servant of that country, when transferred to America, the "letting-up," which is certain to attend such a change from the depression of the original condition to that in which he is so suddenly placed, had not made him saucy. An American is seldom what is called impudent, under any circumstances; he is careless, nay ignorant of forms; pays little or no purely conventional respect; does not understand half the social distinctions which exist among the higher classes of even his own countrymen, and fancies there are equalities in things about which, in [Pg 169]truth, there is great inequality between himself and others, merely because he has been taught that all men are equal in rights; but he is so unconscious of any pressure as seldom to feel a disposition to revenge himself by impudence.

But, while John was not impudent either, he had a footman's feeling towards those whom he fancied no better than himself. He had set the table with his customary neatness and method, and he served the soup with as much regularity as he would have done had we sat there in our proper characters, but then he withdrew. He probably remembered that the landlord, or upper servant of an English hotel, is apt to make his appearance with the soup, and to disappear as that disappears. So it was with John; after removing the soup, he put a dumb-waiter near my uncle, touched a carving-knife or two, as much as to say "help yourselves," and quitted the room. As a matter of course, our dinner was not a very elaborate one, it wanting two or three hours to the regular time of dining, though my grandmother had ordered, in my hearing, one or two delicacies to be placed on the table, that had surprised Patt. Among the extraordinary things for such guests was wine. The singularity, however, was a little explained by the quality commanded, which was Rhenish.

My uncle Ro was a little surprised at the disappearance of John; for, seated in that room, he was so accustomed to his face, that it appeared as if he were not half at home without him.

"Let the fellow go," he said, withdrawing his hand from the bell-cord, which he had already touched to order him back again; "we can talk more freely without him. Well, Hugh, here you are, under your own roof, eating a charitable dinner, and treated as hospitably as if you did not own all you can see for a circle of five miles around you. It was a lucky idea of the old lady's, by the way, to think of ordering this Rudesheimer, in our character of Dutchmen! How amazingly well she is looking, boy!"

"Indeed she is; and I am delighted to see it. I do not know why my grandmother may not live these twenty years; for even that would not make her near as old as Sus, who, I have often heard her say, was a middle-aged [Pg 170]man when she was born."

"True; she seems like an elder sister to me, rather than as a mother, and is altogether a most delightful old woman. But, if we had so charming an old woman to receive us, so are there also some very charming young women—hey, Hugh?"

"I am quite of your way of thinking, sir; and must say I have not, in many a day, seen two as charming creatures as I have met with here."

"Two!—umph; a body would think one might suffice. Pray, which may be the two, Master Padishah?"

"Patt and Mary Warren, of course. The other two are well enough, but these two are excellent."

My uncle Ro looked grum, but he said nothing for some time. Eating is always an excuse for a broken conversation, and he ate away as if resolute not to betray his disappointment. But it is a hard matter for a gentleman to do nothing but eat at table, and so was obliged to talk.

"Everything looks well here, after all, Hugh," observed my uncle. "These anti-renters may have done an infinite deal of harm in the way of abusing principles, but they do not seem to have yet destroyed any material things."

"It is not their cue, sir. The crops are their own; and as they hope to own the farms, it would be scarcely wise to injure what, no doubt, they begin to look on as their own property, too. As for the Nest House, grounds, farm, &c., I dare say they will be very willing to leave me them for a while longer, provided they can get everything else away from me."

"For a time longer, at least; though that is the folly of those who expect to get along by concessions; as if men were ever satisfied with the yielding of a part, when they ask that which is wrong in itself, without sooner or later expecting to get the whole. As well might one expect the pickpocket who had abstracted a dollar, to put back two-and-sixpence change. But things really look well, around the place."

"So much the better for us. Though, to my judgment and taste, Miss Mary Warren looks better than anything else I have yet seen in America."

Another "umph" expressed my uncle's dissatisfaction[Pg 171]—displeasure would be too strong a word—and he continued eating.

"You have really some good Rhenish in your cellar, Hugh," resumed uncle Ro, after tossing off one of the knowing green glasses full—though I never could understand why any man should wish to drink his wine out of green, when he might do it out of crystal. "It must have been a purchase of mine, made when we were last in Germany, and for the use of my mother."

"As you please, sir; it neither adds nor subtracts from the beauty of Martha and her friend."

"Since you are disposed to make these boyish allusions, be frank with me, and say, at once, how you like my wards."

"Meaning, of course, sir, my own sister exclusively. I will be as sincere as possible, and say that, as to Miss Marston, I have no opinion at all; and as to Miss Coldbrook, she is what, in Europe, would be called a 'fine' woman."

"You can say nothing as to her mind, Hugh, for you have had no opportunity for forming an opinion."

"Not much of a one, I will own. Nevertheless, I should have liked her better had she spared the allusion to the 'proper person' who is one day to forge a chain for my sister, to begin with."

"Poh, poh; that is the mere squeamishness of a boy. I do not think her in the least pert or forward, and your construction would be tant soit peu vulgar."

"Put your own construction on it, mon oncle; I do not like it."

"I do not wonder young men remain unmarried; they are getting to be so ultra in their tastes and notions."

A stranger might have retorted on an old bachelor, for such a speech, by some allusion to his own example; but I well knew that my uncle Ro had once been engaged, and that he lost the object of his passion by death, and too much respected his constancy and true sentiments ever to joke on such subjects. I believe he felt the delicacy of my forbearance rather more than common, for he immediately manifested a disposition to relent, and to prove it by changing [Pg 172]the subject.

"We can never stay here to-night," he said. "It would be at once to proclaim our names—our name, I might say—a name that was once so honoured and beloved in this town, and which is now so hated!"

"No, no; not as bad as that. We have done nothing to merit hatred."

"Raison de plus for hating us so much the more heartily. When men are wronged, who have done nothing to deserve it, the evil-doer seeks to justify his wickedness to himself by striving all he can to calumniate the injured party; and the more difficulty he finds in doing that to his mind, the more profound is his hatred. Rely on it, we are most sincerely disliked here, on the spot where we were once both much beloved. Such is human nature."

At that moment John returned to the room, to see how we were getting on, and to count his forks and spoons, for I saw the fellow actually doing it. My uncle, somewhat indiscreetly, I fancied, but by merely following the chain of thought then uppermost in his mind, detained him in conversation.

"Dis broperty," he said, inquiringly, "is de broperty of one Yeneral Littlepage, I hears say?"

"Not of the General, who was Madam Littlepage's husband, and who has long been dead, but of his grandson, Mr. Hugh."

"Und vhere might he be, dis Mr. Hugh?—might he be at hand, or might he not?"

"No; he's in Europe; that is to say, in Hengland." John thought England covered most of Europe, though he had long gotten over his wish to return. "Mr. Hugh and Mr. Roger be both habsent from the country, just now."

"Dat ist unfortunate, for dey dells me dere might be moch troobles here abouts, and Injin-acting."

"There is, indeed; and a wicked thing it is, that there should be anything of the sort."

"Und vhat might be der reason of so moch troobles?—and vhere ist der blame?"

"Well, that is pretty plain, I fancy," returned John, who, in consequence of being a favoured servant at head-quarters, [Pg 173]fancied himself a sort of cabinet minister, and had much pleasure in letting his knowledge be seen. "The tenants on this estate wants to be landlords; and as they can't be so, so long as Mr. Hugh lives and won't let 'em, why they just tries all sorts of schemes and plans to frighten people out of their property. I never go down to the village but I has a talk with some of them, and that in a way that might do them some good, if anything can."

"Und vhat dost you say?—und vid whom dost you talk, as might do dem moch goot?"

"Why, you see, I talks more with one 'Squire Newcome, as they calls him, though he's no more of a real 'squire than you be—only a sort of an attorney, like, such as they has in this country. You come from the old countries, I believe?"

"Ja, ja—dat ist, yes—we comes from Charmany; so you can say vhat you bleases."

"They has queer 'squires in this part of the world, if truth must be said. But that's neither here nor there, though I give this Mr. Seneca Newcome as good as he sends. What is it you wants, I says to him?—you can't all be landlords—somebody must be tenants; and if you didn't want to be tenants, how come you to be so? Land is plenty in this country, and cheap too; and why didn't you buy your land at first, instead of coming to rent of Mr. Hugh; and now when you have rented, to be quarrelling about the very thing you did of your own accord?"

"Dere you didst dell 'em a goot t'ing; and vhat might der 'Squire say to dat?"

"Oh! he was quite dumb-founded, at first; then he said that in old times, when people first rented these lands, they didn't know as much as they do now, or they never would have done it."

"Und you could answer dat; or vast it your durn to be dum-founded?"

"I pitched it into him, as they says; I did. Says I, how's this, says I—you are for ever boasting how much you Americans know—and how the people knows everything that ought to be done, about politics and religion—and you proclaim far and near that your yeomen are the salt of the earth—and yet you don't know how to bargain for your [Pg 174]leases! A pretty sort of wisdom is this, says I! I had him there; for the people round about here is only too sharp at a trade."

"Did he own dat you vast right, and dat he vast wrong, dis Herr 'Squire Newcome?"

"Not he; he will never own anything that makes against his own doctrine, unless he does it ignorantly. But I haven't told you half of it. I told him, says I, how is it you talk of one of the Littlepage family cheating you, when, as you knows yourselves, you had rather have the word of one of that family than have each other's bonds, says I. You know, sir, it must be a poor landlord that a tenant can't and won't take his word: and this they all know to be true; for a gentleman as has a fine estate is raised above temptation, like, and has a pride in him to do what is honourable and fair; and, in my opinion, it is good to have a few such people in a country, if it be only to keep the wicked one from getting it altogether in his own keeping."

"Und did you say dat moch to der 'Squire?"

"No; that I just says to you two, seeing that we are here, talking together in a friendly way; but a man needn't be ashamed to say it anywhere, for it's a religious truth. But I says to him, Newcome, says I, you, who has been living so long on the property of the Littlepages, ought to be ashamed to wish to strip them of it; but you're not satisfied with keeping gentlemen down quite as much out of sight as you can, by holding all the offices yourselves, and taking all the money of the public you can lay your hands on for your own use, but you wants to trample them under your feet, I says, and so take your revenge for being what you be, says I."

"Vell, my friend," said my uncle, "you vast a bolt man to dell all dis to der beoples of dis coontry, vhere, I have heard, a man may say just vhat he hast a mind to say, so dat he dost not sbeak too moch trut!"

"That's it—that's it; you have been a quick scholar, I find. I told this Mr. Newcome, says I, you're bold enough in railing at kings and nobles, for you very well know, says I, that they are three thousand miles away from you, and can do you no harm; but you would no more dare get up before your masters, the people, here, and say what you [Pg 175]really think about 'em, and what I have heard you say of them in private, than you would dare put your head before a cannon, as the gunner touched it off. Oh! I gave him a lesson, you may be sure!"

Although there was a good deal of the English footman in John's logic and feeling, there was also a good deal of truth in what he said. The part where he accused Newcome of holding one set of opinions in private, concerning his masters, and another in public, is true to the life. There is not, at this moment, within the wide reach of the American borders, one demagogue to be found who might not, with justice, be accused of precisely the same deception. There is not one demagogue in the whole country, who, if he lived in a monarchy, would not be the humblest advocate of men in power, ready to kneel at the feet of those who stood in the sovereign's presence. There is not, at this instant, a man in power among us a senator or a legislator, who is now the seeming advocate of what he wishes to call the rights of the tenants, and who is for overlooking principles and destroying law and right, in order to pacify the anti-renters by extraordinary concessions, that would not be among the foremost, under a monarchial system, to recommend and support the freest application of the sword and the bayonet to suppress what would then be viewed, ay, and be termed, "the rapacious longings of the disaffected to enjoy the property of others without paying for it." All this is certain; for it depends on a law of morals that is infallible. Any one who wishes to obtain a clear index to the true characters of the public men he is required to support, or oppose, has now the opportunity; for each stands before a mirror that reflects him in his just proportions, and in which the dullest eye has only to cast a glance, in order to view him from head to foot.

The entrance of my grandmother put a stop to John's discourse. He was sent out of the room on a message, and then I learned the object of this visit. My sister had been let into the secret of our true characters, and was dying to embrace me. My dear grandmother, rightly enough, had decided it would be to the last degree unkind to keep her in ignorance of our presence; and, the fact known, nature had [Pg 176]longings which must be appeased. I had myself been tempted twenty times, that morning, to snatch Patt to my heart and kiss her, as I used to do just after my beard began to grow, and she was so much of a child as to complain. The principal thing to be arranged, then, was to obtain an interview for me without awakening suspicion in the observers. My grandmother's plan was arranged, however, and she now communicated it to us.

There was a neat little dressing-room annexed to Martha's bed-room; in that the meeting was to take place.

"She and Mary Warren are now there, waiting for your appearance, Hugh——"

"Mary Warren!—Does she, then, know who I am?"

"Not in the least; she has no other idea than that you are a young German, of good connections and well educated, who has been driven from his own country by political troubles, and who is reduced to turn his musical taste and acquisitions to account, in the way you seem to do, until he can find some better employment. All this she had told us before we met you, and you are not to be vain, Hugh, if I add, that your supposed misfortunes, and great skill with the flute, and good behaviour, have made a friend of one of the best and most true-hearted girls I ever had the good fortune to know. I say good behaviour, for little, just now, can be ascribed to good looks."

"I hope I am not in the least revolting in appearance, in this disguise. For my sister's sake——"

The hearty laugh of my dear old grandmother brought me up, and I said no more; colouring, I believe, a little, at my own folly. Even uncle Ro joined in the mirth, though I could see he wished Mary Warren even safely translated along with her father, and that the latter was Archbishop of Canterbury. I must acknowledge that I felt a good deal ashamed of the weakness I had betrayed.

"You are very well, Hugh, darling," continued my grandmother; "though I must think you would be more interesting in your own hair, which is curling, than in that lank wig. Still, one can see enough of your face to recognise it, if one has the clue; and I told Martha, at the first, that I was struck with a certain expression of the eyes and smile [Pg 177]that reminded me of her brother. But, there they are, Mary and Martha, in the drawing-room, waiting for your appearance. The first is so fond of music, and, indeed, is so practised in it, as to have been delighted with your flute; and she has talked so much of your skill as to justify us in seeming to wish for a further exhibition of your skill. Henrietta and Ann, having less taste that way, have gone together to select bouquets, in the green-house, and there is now an excellent opportunity to gratify your sister. I am to draw Mary out of the room, after a little while, when you and Martha may say a word to each other in your proper characters. As for you, Roger, you are to open your box again, and I will answer for it that will serve to amuse your other wards, should they return too soon from their visit to the gardener."

Everything being thus explained, and our dinner ended, all parties proceeded to the execution of the plan, each in his or her designated mode. When my grandmother and I reached the dressing-room, however, Martha was not there, though Mary Warren was, her bright but serene eyes full of happiness and expectation. Martha had retired to the inner room for a moment, whither my grandmother, suspecting the truth, followed her. As I afterwards ascertained, my sister, fearful of not being able to suppress her tears on my entrance, had withdrawn, in order to struggle for self-command without betraying our secret. I was told to commence an air, without waiting for the absent young lady, as the strain could easily be heard through the open door.

I might have played ten minutes before my sister and grandmother came out again. Both had been in tears, though the intense manner in which Mary Warren was occupied with the harmony of my flute, probably prevented her from observing it. To me, however, it was plain enough; and glad was I to find that my sister had succeeded in commanding her feelings. In a minute or two my grandmother profited by a pause to rise and carry away with her Mary Warren, though the last left the room with a reluctance that was very manifest. The pretence was a promise to meet the divine in the library, on some business connected with [Pg 178]the Sunday-schools.

"You can keep the young man for another air, Martha," observed my grandmother, "and I will send Jane to you, as I pass her room."

Jane was my sister's own maid, and her room was close at hand, and I dare say dear grandmother gave her the order, in Mary Warren's presence, as soon as she quitted the room, else might Mary Warren well be surprised at the singularity of the whole procedure; but Jane did not make her appearance, nevertheless. As for myself, I continued to play as long as I thought any ear was near enough to hear me; then I laid aside my flute. In the next instant Patt was in my arms, where she lay some time weeping, but looking inexpressibly happy.

"Oh! Hugh, what a disguise was this to visit your own house in!" she said, as soon as composed enough to speak.

"Would it have done to come here otherwise? You know the state of the country, and the precious fruits our boasted tree of liberty is bringing forth. The owner of the land can only visit his property at the risk of his life!"

Martha pressed me in her arms in a way to show how conscious she was of the danger I incurred in even thus visiting her; after which we seated ourselves, side by side, on a little divan, and began to speak of those things that were most natural to a brother and sister who so much loved each other, and who had not met for five years. My grandmother had managed so well as to prevent all interruption for an hour, if we saw fit to remain together, while to others it should seem as if Patt had dismissed me in a few minutes.

"Not one of the other girls suspect, in the least, who you are," said Martha, smiling, when we had got through with the questions and answers so natural to our situation. "I am surprised that Henrietta has not, for she prides herself on her penetration. She is as much in the dark as the others, however."

"And Miss Mary Warren—the young lady who has just left the room—has she not some small notion that I am not a common Dutch music-grinder?"

Patt laughed, and that so merrily as to cause the tones of her sweet voice to fill me with delight, as I remembered what she had been in childhood and girlhood five years be[Pg 179]fore, and she shook her bright tresses off her cheeks ere she would answer.

"No, Hugh," she replied, "she fancies you an uncommon Dutch music-grinder; an artiste that not only grinds, but who dresses up his harmonies in such a way as to be palatable to the most refined taste. How came Mary to think you and my uncle two reduced German gentlemen?"

"And does the dear girl believe—that is, does Miss Mary Warren do us so much honour, as to imagine that?"

"Indeed she does, for she told us as much as soon as she got home; and Henrietta and Ann have made themselves very merry with their speculations on the subject of Miss Warren's great incognito. They call you Herzog von Geige."

"Thank them for that." I am afraid I answered a little too pointedly, for I saw that Patt seemed surprised. "But your American towns are just such half-way things as to spoil young women; making them neither refined and polished as they might be in real capitals, while they are not left the simplicity and nature of the country."

"Well, Master Hugh, this is being very cross about a very little, and not particularly complimentary to your own sister. And why not your American towns, as well as ours?—are you no longer one of us?"

"Certainly; one of yours, always, my dearest Patt, though not one of every chattering girl who may set up for a belle, with her Dukes of Fiddle! But, enough of this;—you like the Warrens?"

"Very much so; father and daughter. The first is just what a clergyman should be; of a cultivation and intelligence to fit him to be any man's companion, and a simplicity like that of a child. You remember his predecessor—so dissatisfied, so selfish, so lazy, so censorious, so unjust to every person and thing around him, and yet so exacting; and, at the same time, so——"

"What? Thus far you have drawn his character well; I should like to hear the remainder."

"I have said more than I ought already; for one has an idea that, by bringing a clergyman into disrepute, it brings [Pg 180]religion and the church into discredit, too. A priest must be a very bad man to have injurious things said of him, in this country, Hugh."

"That is, perhaps, true. But you like Mr. Warren better than him who has left you?"

"A thousand times, and in all things. In addition to having a most pious and sincere pastor, we have an agreeable and well-bred neighbour, from whose mouth, in the five years that he has dwelt here, I have not heard a syllable at the expense of a single fellow-creature. You know how it is apt to be with the other clergy and ours, in the country—for ever at swords' points; and if not actually quarrelling, keeping up a hollow peace."

"That is only too true—or used to be true, before I went abroad."

"And it is so now, elsewhere, I'll answer for it, though it be so no longer here. Mr. Warren and Mr. Peck seem to live on perfectly amicable terms, though as little alike at bottom as fire and water."

"By the way, how do the clergy of the different sects, up and down the country, behave on the subject of anti-rent?"

"I can answer only from what I hear, with the exception of Mr. Warren's course. He has preached two or three plain and severe sermons on the duty of honesty in our worldly transactions, one of which was from the tenth commandment. Of course he said nothing of the particular trouble, but everybody must have made the necessary application of the home-truths he uttered. I question if another voice has been raised, far and near, on the subject, although I have heard Mr. Warren say the movement threatens more to demoralize New York than anything that has happened in his time."

"And the man down at the village?"

"Oh, he goes, of course, with the majority. When was one of that set ever known to oppose his parish, in anything?"

"And Mary is as sound and as high-principled as her father?"

"Quite so; though there has been a good deal said about the necessity of Mr. Warren's removing, and giving up St. [Pg 181]Andrew's, since he preached against covetousness. All the anti-renters say, I hear, that they know he meant them; and that they won't put up with it."

"I dare say; each one fancying he was almost called out by name: that is the way, when conscience works."

"I should be very, very sorry to part with Mary; and almost as much so to part with her father. There is one thing, however, that Mr. Warren himself thinks we had better have done, Hugh; and that is to take down the canopy from over our pew. You can have no notion of the noise that foolish canopy is making up and down the country."

"I shall not take it down. It is my property, and there it shall remain. As for the canopy, it was a wrong distinction to place in a church, I am willing to allow; but it never gave offence until it has been thought that a cry against it would help to rob me of my lands at half price, or at no price at all, as it may happen."

"All that may be true; but if improper for a church, why keep it?"

"Because I do not choose to be bullied out of what is my own, even though I care nothing about it. There might have been a time when the canopy was unsuited to the house of God, and that was when those who saw it might fancy it canopied the head of a fellow-creature who had higher claims than themselves to divine favour; but, in times like these, when men estimate merit by beginning at the other end of the social scale, there is little danger of any one's falling into the mistake. The canopy shall stand, little as I care about it: now, I would actually prefer it should come down, as I can fully see the impropriety of making any distinctions in the temple; but it shall stand until concessions cease to be dangerous. It is a right of property, and as such I will maintain it. If others dislike it, let them put canopies over their pews, too. The best test, in such a matter, is to see who could bear it. A pretty figure Seneca Newcome would cut, for instance, seated in a canopied pew! Even his own set would laugh at him; which, I fancy, is more than they yet do at me."

Martha was disappointed; but she changed the subject. We next talked of our own little private affairs, as they were connected with smaller matters.

[Pg 182]

"For whom is that beautiful chain intended, Hugh?" asked Patt, laughingly. "I can now believe the pedlar when he says it is reserved for your future wife. But who is that wife to be? Will her name be Henrietta or Ann?"

"Why not ask, also, if it will be Mary?—why exclude one of your companions, while you include the other two?"

Patt started—seemed surprised; her cheeks flushed, and then I saw that pleasure was the feeling predominant.

"Am I too late to secure that jewel, as a pendant to my chain?" I asked, half in jest, half seriously.

"Too soon, at least, to attract it by the richness and beauty of the bauble. A more natural and disinterested girl than Mary Warren does not exist in the country."

"Be frank with me, Martha, and say at once; has she a favoured suitor?"

"Why, this seems really serious!" exclaimed my sister, laughing. "But, to put you out of your pain, I will answer, I know of but one. One she has certainly, or female sagacity is at fault."

"But is he one that is favoured? You can never know how much depends on your answer."

"Of that you can judge for yourself. It is 'Squire Seneky Newcome, as he is called hereabouts—the brother of the charming Opportunity, who still reserves herself for you."

"And they are as rank anti-renters as any male and female in the country."

"They are rank Newcomites; and that means that each is for himself. Would you believe it, but Opportunity really gives herself airs with Mary Warren!"

"And how does Mary Warren take such an assumption?"

"As a young person should—quietly and without manifesting any feeling. But there is something quite intolerable in one like Opportunity Newcome's assuming a superiority over any true lady! Mary is as well educated and as well connected as any of us, and is quite as much accustomed to good company; while Opportunity—" here Patt laughed, and then added, hurriedly, "but you know Opportunity as well as I do."

"Oh! yes; she is la vertue, or the virtue, and je suis [Pg 183]venue, pour."

The latter allusion Patt understood well enough, having laughed over the story a dozen times; and she laughed again when I explained the affair of "the solitude."

Then came a fit of sisterly feeling. Patt insisted on taking off my wig, and seeing my face in its natural dress. I consented to gratify her, when the girl really behaved like a simpleton. First she pushed about my curls until they were arranged to suit the silly creature, when she ran back several steps, clapped her hands in delight, then rushed into my arms and kissed my forehead and eyes, and called me "her brother"—her "only brother"—her "dear, dear Hugh," and by a number of other such epithets, until she worked herself, and me too, into such an excess of feeling that we sat down, side by side, and each had a hearty fit of crying. Perhaps some such burst as this was necessary to relieve our minds, and we submitted to it wisely.

My sister wept the longest, as a matter of course; but, as soon as she had dried her eyes, she replaced the wig, and completely restored my disguise, trembling the whole time lest some one might enter and detect me.

"You have been very imprudent, Hugh, in coming here at all," she said, while thus busy. "You can form no notion of the miserable state of the country, or how far the anti-rent poison has extended, or the malignant nature of its feeling. The annoyances they have attempted with dear grandmother are odious; you they would scarcely leave alive."

"The country and the people must have strangely altered, then, in five years. Our New York population has hitherto had very little of the assassin-like character. Tar and feathers are the blackguards', and have been the petty tyrants' weapons, from time immemorial, in this country; but not the knife."

"And can anything sooner or more effectually alter a people than longings for the property of others? Is not the 'love of money the root of all evil?'—and what right have we to suppose our Ravensnest population is better than another, when that sordid feeling is thoroughly aroused? You know you have written me yourself, that all the American can or does live for is money."

"I have written you, dear, that the country, in its pre[Pg 184]sent condition, leaves no other incentive to exertion, and therein it is cursed. Military fame, military rank, even, are unattainable, under our system: the arts, letters and science, bring little or no reward; and there being no political rank that a man of refinement would care for, men must live for money, or live altogether for another state of being. But I have told you, at the same time, Martha, that, notwithstanding all this, I believe the American a less mercenary being, in the ordinary sense of the word, than the European; that two men might be bought, for instance, in any European country, for one here. This last I suppose to be the result of the facility of making a living, and the habits it produces."

"Never mind causes; Mr. Warren says there is a desperate intention to rob existing among these people, and that they are dangerous. As yet they do a little respect women, but how long they will do that one cannot know."

"It may all be so. It must be so, respecting what I have heard and read; yet this vale looks as smiling and as sweet, at this very moment, as if an evil passion never sullied it! But, depend on my prudence, which tells me that we ought now to part. I shall see you again and again before I quit the estate, and you will, of course, join us somewhere—at the Springs, perhaps—as soon as we find it necessary or expedient to decamp."

Martha promised this, of course, and I kissed her, previously to separating. No one crossed my way as I descended to the piazza, which was easily done, since I was literally at home. I lounged about on the lawn a few minutes, and then, showing myself in front of the library windows, I was summoned to the room, as I had expected.

Uncle Ro had disposed of every article of the fine jewelry that he had brought home as presents for his wards. The pay was a matter to be arranged with Mrs. Littlepage, which meant no pay at all; and, as the donor afterwards told me, he liked this mode of distributing the various ornaments better than presenting them himself, as he was now certain each girl had consulted her own fancy.

As the hour of the regular dinner was approaching, we took our leave soon after, not without receiving kind and [Pg 185]pressing invitations to visit the Nest again ere we left the township. Of course we promised all that was required, intending most faithfully to comply. On quitting the house we returned towards the farm, though not without pausing on the lawn to gaze around us on a scene so dear to both, from recollection, association, and interest. But I forget, this is aristocratical; the landlord has no right to sentiments of this nature, which are feelings that the sublimated liberty of the law is beginning to hold in reserve solely for the benefit of the tenant!


"There shall be, in England, seven halfpenny loaves sold for a penny: the three-hooped pot shall have ten hoops; and I will make it felony to drink small beer: all the realm shall be in common, and in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to grass."

Jack Cade.

"I do not see, sir," I remarked, as we moved on from the last of these pauses, "why the governors and legislators, and writers on this subject of anti-rentism, talk so much of feudality, and chickens, and days' works, and durable leases, when we have none of these, while we have all the disaffection they are said to produce."

"You will understand that better as you come to know more of men. No party alludes to its weak points. It is just as you say; but the proceedings of your tenants, for instance, give the lie to the theories of the philanthropists, and must be kept in the back-ground. It is true that the disaffection has not yet extended to one-half, or to one-fourth of the leased estates in the country, perhaps not to one-tenth, if you take the number of the landlords as the standard, instead of the extent of their possessions, but it certainly will, should the authorities tamper with the rebels much longer."

"If they tax the incomes of the landlords under the durable [Pg 186]rent system, why would not the parties aggrieved have the same right to take up arms to resist such an act of oppression as our fathers had in 1776?"

"Their cause would be better; for that was only a constructive right, and one dependent on general principles, whereas this is an attempt at a most mean evasion of a written law, the meanness of the attempt being quite as culpable as its fraud. Every human being knows that such a tax, so far as it has any object beyond that of an election-sop, is to choke off the landlords from the maintenance of their covenants, which is a thing that no State can do directly, without running the risk of having its law pronounced unconstitutional by the courts of the United States, if, indeed, not by its own courts."

"The Court of Errors, think you?"

"The Court of Errors is doomed, by its own abuses. Catiline never abused the patience of Rome more than that mongrel assembly has abused the patience of every sound lawyer in the State. 'Fiat justitia, ruat cœlum,' is interpreted, now, into 'Let justice be done, and the court fall.' No one wishes to see it continued, and the approaching convention will send it to the Capulets, if it do nothing else to be commended. It was a pitiful imitation of the House of Lords system, with this striking difference; the English lords are men of education, and men with a vast deal at stake, and their knowledge and interests teach them to leave the settlement of appeals to the legal men of their body, of whom there are always a respectable number, in addition to those in possession of the woolsack and the bench; whereas our Senate is a court composed of small lawyers, country doctors, merchants, farmers, with occasionally a man of really liberal attainments. Under the direction of an acute and honest judge, as most of our true judges actually are, the Court of Errors would hardly form such a jury as would allow a creditable person to be tried by his peers, in a case affecting character, for instance, and here we have it set up as a court of the last resort, to settle points of law!"

"I see it has just made a decision in a libel suit, at which the profession sneers."

"It has, indeed. Now look at that very decision, for instance, as the measure [Pg 187]of its knowledge. An editor of a newspaper holds up a literary man to the world as one anxious to obtain a small sum of money, in order to put it into Wall street, for 'shaving purposes.' Now, the only material question raised was the true signification of the word 'shaving.' If to say a man is a 'shaver,' in the sense in which it is applied to the use of money, be bringing him into discredit, then was the plaintiff's declaration sufficient; if not, it was insufficient, being wanting in what is called an 'innuendo.' The dictionaries, and men in general, understand by 'shaving,' 'extortion,' and nothing else. To call a man a 'shaver' is to say he is an 'extortioner,' without going into details. But, in Wall street, and among money-dealers, certain transactions that, in their eyes, and by the courts, are not deemed discreditable, have of late been brought within the category of 'shaving.' Thus it is technically, or by convention among bankers, termed 'shaving' if a man buy a note at less than its face, which is a legal transaction. On the strength of this last circumstance, as is set forth in the published opinions, the highest Court of Appeals in New York has decided that it does not bring a man into discredit to say he is a 'shaver!'—thus making a conventional signification of the brokers of Wall street higher authority for the use of the English tongue than the standard lexicographers, and all the rest of those who use the language! On the same principle, if a set of pickpockets at the Five Points should choose to mystify their trade a little by including the term 'to filch' the literal borrowing of a pocket-handkerchief, it would not be a libel to accuse a citizen of 'filching his neighbor's handkerchief!'"

"But the libel was uttered to the world, and not to the brokers of Wall Street only, who might possibly understand their own terms."

"Very true; and was uttered in a newspaper that carried the falsehood to Europe; for the writer of the charge, when brought up for it, publicly admitted that he had no ground for suspecting the literary man of any such practices. He called it a 'joke.' Every line of the context, however, showed it was a malicious charge. The decision is very much as if a man who is sued for accusing another of 'stealing' should set up a defense that he meant 'stealing' hearts, for the word is [Pg 188]sometimes used in that sense. When men use epithets that convey discredit in their general meaning, it is their business to give them a special signification in their own contexts, if such be their real intention. But I much question if there be a respectable money-dealer, even in Wall street, who would not swear, if called on in a court of justice so to do, that he thought the general charge of 'shaving' discreditable to any man."

"And you think the landlords whose rents were taxed, sir, would have a moral right to resist?"

"Beyond all question; as it would be an income tax on them only, of all in the country. What is more, I am fully persuaded that two thousand men embodied to resist such tyranny would look down the whole available authority of the State; inasmuch as I do not believe citizens could be found to take up arms to enforce a law so flagrantly unjust. Men will look on passively and see wrongs inflicted, that would never come out to support them by their own acts. But we are approaching the farm, and there is Tom Miller and his hired men waiting our arrival."

It is unnecessary to repeat, in detail, all that passed in this our second visit to the farm-house. Miller received us in a friendly manner, and offered us a bed, if we would pass the night with him. This business of a bed had given us more difficulty than anything else, in the course of our peregrinations. New York has long got over the "two-man" and "three-man bed" system, as regards its best inns. At no respectable New York inn is a gentleman now asked to share even his room, without an apology and a special necessity, with another, much less his bed; but the rule does not hold good as respects pedlars and music-grinders. We had ascertained that we were not only expected to share the same bed, but to occupy that bed in a room filled with other beds. There are certain things that get to be second nature, and that no masquerading will cause to go down; and, among others, one gets to dislike sharing his room and his tooth-brush. This little difficulty gave us more trouble that night, at Tom Miller's, than anything we had yet encountered. At the taverns, bribes had answered our purpose; but this would not do so well at a farm residence. At length the matter was got along with by putting me in [Pg 189]the garret, where I was favoured with a straw bed under my own roof, the decent Mrs. Miller making many apologies for not having a feather-smotherer, in which to "squash" me. I did not tell the good woman that I never used feathers, summer or winter; for, had I done so, she would have set me down as a poor creature from "oppressed" Germany, where the "folks" did not know how to live. Nor would she have been so much out of the way quoad the beds, for in all my journeyings I never met with such uncomfortable sleeping as one finds in Germany, off the Rhine and out of the large towns.[3]

While the negotiation was in progress I observed that Josh Brigham, as the anti-rent disposed hireling of Miller's was called, kept a watchful eye and an open ear on what was done and said. Of all men on earth, the American of that class is the most "distrustful," as he calls it himself, and has his suspicions the soonest awakened. The Indian on the war-path—the sentinel who is posted in a fog, near his enemy, an hour before the dawn of day—the husband that is jealous, or the priest that has become a partisan, is not a whit more apt to fancy, conjecture, or assert, than the American of that class who has become "distrustful." This fellow, Brigham, was the very beau idéal of the suspicious school, being envious and malignant, as well as shrewd, observant, and covetous. The very fact that he was connected with the "Injins," as turned out to be the case, added to his natural propensities the consciousness of guilt, and rendered him doubly dangerous. The whole time my uncle and myself were crossing over and figuring in, in order to procure for each a room, though it were only a closet, his watchful, distrustful looks denoted how much he saw in our movements to awaken curiosity, if not downright suspicion. When all was over, he followed me to the little lawn in front of the house, whither I had gone to look at the familiar scene by the light of the setting sun, and began to betray the nature of his own suspicions by his language.

"The old man" (meaning my uncle Ro) "must have [Pg 190]plenty of gold watches about him," he said, "to be so plaguy partic'lar consarnin' his bed. Pedlin' sich matters is a ticklish trade, I guess, in some parts?"

"Ja; it ist dangerous somevhere, but it might not be so in dis goot coontry."

"Why did the old fellow, then, try so hard to get that little room all to himself, and shove you off into the garret? We hired men don't like the garret, which is a hot place in summer."

"In Charmany one man hast ever one bed," I answered, anxious to get rid of the subject.

I bounced a little, as "one has one-half of a bed" would be nearer to the truth, though the other half might be in another room.

"Oh! that's it, is't? Wa-a-l, every country has its ways, I s'pose. Jarmany is a desp'ate aristocratic land, I take it."

"Ja; dere ist moch of de old feudal law, and feudal coostum still remaining in Charmany."

"Landlords a plenty, I guess, if the truth was known. Leases as long as my arm, I calkerlate?"

"Vell, dey do dink, in Charmany, dat de longer might be de lease, de better it might be for de denant."

As that was purely a German sentiment, or at least not an American sentiment, according to the notions broached by statesmen among ourselves, I made it as Dutch as possible by garnishing it well with d's.

"That's a droll idee! Now, we think, here, that a lease is a bad thing; and the less you have of a bad thing, the better."

"Vell, dat ist queer; so queer ast I don't know! Vhat vill dey do as might help it?"

"Oh! the Legislature will set it all right. They mean to pass a law to prevent any more leases at all."

"Und vill de beople stand dat? Dis ist a free coontry, effery body dells me, and vilt der beoples agree not to hire lands if dey vants to?"

"Oh! you see we wish to choke the landlords off from their present leases; and, by and bye, when that is done, the law can let up again."

"But ist dat right? Der law should be joost, and not [Pg 191]hold down and let oop, as you calls it."

"You don't understand us yet, I see. Why that's the prettiest and the neatest legislation on airth! That's just what the bankrupt law did."

"Vhat did der bankroopt law do, bray? Vhat might you mean now?—I don't know."

"Do! why it did wonders for some on us, I can tell you! It paid our debts, and let us up when we was down; and that's no trifle, I can tell you. I took 'the benefit,' as it is called, myself."

"You!—you might take der benefit of a bankroopt law! You, lifing here ast a hiret man, on dis farm!"

"Sartain; why not? All a man wanted, under that law, was about $60 to carry him through the mill; and if he could rake and scrape that much together, he might wipe off as long a score as he pleased. I had been dealin' in speckylation, and that's a make or break business, I can tell you. Well, I got to be about $423.22 wuss than nothin'; but, having about $90 in hand, I went through the mill without getting cogged the smallest morsel! A man doos a good business, to my notion, when he can make 20 cents pay a whull dollar of debt."

"Und you did dat goot business?"

"You may say that; and now I means to make anti-rentism get me a farm cheap—what I call cheap; and that an't none of your $30 or $40 an acre, I can tell you!"

It was quite clear that Mr. Joshua Brigham regarded these transactions as so many Pragmatic Sanctions, that were to clear the moral and legal atmospheres of any atoms of difficulty that might exist in the forms of old opinions, to his getting easily out of debt, in the one case, and suddenly rich in the other. I dare say I looked bewildered, but I certainly felt so, at thus finding myself face to face with a low knave, who had a deliberate intention, as I now found, to rob me of a farm. It is certain that Joshua so imagined, for, inviting me to walk down the road with him a short distance, he endeavoured to clear up any moral difficulties that might beset me, by pursuing the subject.

"You see," resumed Joshua, "I will tell you how it is. These Littlepages have had this land long enough, and it's time to give poor folks a chance. The young spark that [Pg 192]pretends to own all the farms you see, far and near, never did any thing for 'em in his life; only to be his father's son. Now, to my notion, a man should do suthin' for his land, and not be obligated for it to mere natur'. This is a free country, and what right has one man to land more than another?"

"Or do his shirt, or do his dobacco, or do his coat, or do anyding else."

"Well, I don't go as far as that. A man has a right to his clothes, and maybe to a horse or a cow, but he has no right to all the land in creation. The law gives a right to a cow as ag'in' execution."

"Und doesn't der law gif a right to der landt, too? You most not depend on der law, if you might succeed."

"We like to get as much law as we can on our side. Americans like law: now, you'll read in all the books—our books, I mean, them that's printed here—that the Americans be the most lawful people on airth, and that they'll do more for the law than any other folks known!"

"Vell, dat isn't vhat dey says of der Americans in Europe; nein, nein, dey might not say dat."

"Why, don't you think it is so? Don't you think this the greatest country on airth, and the most lawful?"

"Vell, I don'ts know. Das coontry ist das coontry, and it ist vhat it ist, you might see."

"Yes; I thought you would be of my way of thinking, when we got to understand each other." Nothing is easier than to mislead an American on the estimate foreigners place on them: in this respect they are the most deluded people living, though, in other matters, certainly among the shrewdest. "That's the way with acquaintances, at first; they don't always understand one another: and then you talk a little thick, like. But now, friend, I'll come to the p'int—but first swear you'll not betray me."

"Ja, ja—I oonderstandst; I most schwear I won't bedray you: das ist goot."

"But, hold up your hand. Stop; of what religion be you?"

"Gristian, to be sure. I might not be a Chew. Nein, nein; I am a ferry bat Gristian."

"We are all bad enough, for that matter; but I lay no [Pg 193]stress on that. A little of the devil in a man helps him along, in this business of ourn. But you must be suthin' more than a Christian, I s'pose, as we don't call that bein' of any religion at all, in this country. Of what supportin' religion be you?"

"Soobortin'; vell, I might not oonderstands dat. Vhat ist soobortin' religion? Coomes dat vrom Melanchton and Luther?—or coomes it vrom der Pope? Vhat ist dat soobortin' religion?"

"Why, what religion do you patronize? Do you patronize the standin' order, or the kneelin' order?—or do you patronize neither? Some folks thinks its best to lie down at prayer, as the least likely to divert the thoughts."

"I might not oonderstand. But nefer mindt der religion, and coome to der p'int dat you mentioned."

"Well, that p'int is this. You're a Jarman, and can't like aristocrats, and so I'll trust you; though, if you do betray me, you'll never play on another bit of music in this country, or any other! If you want to be an Injin, as good an opportunity will offer to-morrow as ever fell in a man's way!"

"An Injin! Vhat goot vill it do to be an Injin? I dought it might be better to be a vhite man, in America?"

"Oh! I mean only an anti-rent Injin. We've got matters so nicely fixed now, that a chap can be an Injin without any paint at all, or any washin' or scrubbin', but can convart himself into himself ag'in, at any time, in two minutes. The wages is good and the work light; then we have rare chances in the stores, and round about among the farms. The law is that an Injin must have what he wants, and no grumblin', and we take care to want enough. If you'll be at the meetin', I'll tell you how you'll know me."

"Ja, ja—dat ist goot; I vill be at der meetin', sartainly. Vhere might it be?"

"Down at the village. The word came up this a'ternoon, and we shall all be on the ground by ten o'clock."

"Vilt der be a fight, dat you meet so bunctually, and wid so moch spirit?"

"Fight! Lord, no; who is there to fight, I should like to know? We are pretty much all ag'in the Littlepages, and there's none of them on the ground but two or three women. [Pg 194]I'll tell you how it's all settled. The meetin' is called on the deliberative and liberty-supportin' plan. I s'pose you know we've all sorts of meetin's in this country?"

"Nein; I dought dere might be meetin's for bolitics, vhen der beople might coome, but I don't know vhat else."

"Is't possible! What, have you no 'indignation meetin's' in Jarmany? We count a great deal on our indignation meetin's, and both sides have'em in abundance, when things get to be warm. Our meetin' to-morrow is for deliberation and liberty-principles generally. We may pass some indignation resolutions about aristocrats, for nobody can bear them critturs in this part of the country, I can tell you."

Lest this manuscript should get into the hands of some of those who do not understand the real condition of New York society, it may be well to explain that "aristocrat" means, in the parlance of the country, no other than a man of gentleman-like tastes, habits, opinions and associations. There are gradations among the aristocracy of the State, as well as among other men. Thus he who is an aristocrat in a hamlet, would be very democratic in a village; and he of the village might be no aristocrat in the town, at all; though, in the towns generally, indeed always, when their population has the least of a town character, the distinction ceases altogether, men quietly dropping into the traces of civilized society, and talking or thinking very little about it. To see the crying evils of American aristocracy, then, one must go into the country. There, indeed, a plenty of cases exist. Thus, if there happen to be a man whose property is assessed at twenty-five per cent. above that of all his neighbours—who must have right on his side bright as a cloudless sun to get a verdict, if obliged to appeal to the laws—who pays fifty per cent. more for everything he buys, and receives fifty per cent. less for everything he sells, than any other person near him—who is surrounded by rancorous enemies, in the midst of a seeming state of peace—who has everything he says and does perverted, and added to, and lied about—who is traduced because his dinner-hour is later than that of "other folks"—who don't stoop, but is straight in the back—who presumes to doubt that this country in general, and his own township in particular, [Pg 195]is the focus of civilization—who hesitates about signing his name to any flagrant instance of ignorance, bad taste, or worse morals, that his neighbours may get up in the shape of a petition, remonstrance, or resolution—depend on it that man is a prodigious aristocrat, and one who, for his many offences and manner of lording it over mankind, deserves to be banished. I ask the reader's pardon for so abruptly breaking in upon Joshua's speech, but such very different notions exist about aristocrats, in different parts of the world, that some such explanation was necessary in order to prevent mistakes. I have forgotten one mark of the tribe that is, perhaps, more material than all the rest, which must not be omitted, and is this:—If he happen to be a man who prefers his own pursuits to public life, and is regardless of "popularity," he is just guilty of the unpardonable sin. The "people" will forgive anything sooner than this; though there are "folks" who fancy it as infallible a sign of an aristocrat not to chew tobacco. But, unless I return to Joshua, the reader will complain that I cause him to stand still.

"No, no," continued Mr. Brigham; "anything but an aristocrat for me. I hate the very name of the sarpents, and wish there warn't one in the land. To-morrow we are to have a great anti-rent lecturer out——"

"A vhat?"

"A lecturer; one that lectur's, you understand, on anti-rentism, temperance, aristocracy, government, or any other grievance that may happen to be uppermost. Have you no lecturers in Jarmany?"

"Ja, ja; dere ist lecturers in das universities—blenty of dem."

"Well, we have 'em universal and partic'lar, as we happen to want 'em. To-morrow we're to have one, they tell me, the smartest man that has appeared in the cause. He goes it strong, and the Injins mean to back him up, with all sorts of shrieks and whoopin's. Your hurdy-gurdy, there, makes no sort of music to what our tribe can make when we fairly open our throats."

"Vell, dis ist queer! I vast told dat der Americans vast all philosophers, und dat all dey didt vast didt in a t'oughtful and sober manner; und now you dells me dey screams [Pg 196]deir arguments like Injins!"

"That we do! I wish you'd been here in the hard-cider and log-cabin times, and you'd a seen reason and philosophy, as you call it! I was a whig that summer, though I went democrat last season. There's about five hundred on us in this county that make the most of things, I can tell you. What's the use of a vote, if a body gets nothin' by it? But to-morrow you'll see the business done up, and matters detarmined for this part of the world, in fine style. We know what we're about, and we mean to carry things through quite to the end."

"Und vhat do you means to do?"

"Well, seein' that you seem to be of the right sort, and be so likely to put on the Injin shirt, I'll tell you all about it. We mean to get good and old farms at favourable rates. That's what we mean to do. The people's up and in 'arnest, and what the people want they'll have! This time they want farms, and farms they must have. What's the use of havin' a government of the people, if the people's obliged to want farms? We've begun ag'in' the Renssalaers, and the durables, and the quarter-sales, and the chickens; but we don't, by no manner of means, think of eending there. What should we get by that? A man wants to get suthin' when he puts his foot into a matter of this natur'. We know who's our fri'nds and who's our inimies! Could we have some men I could name for governors, all would go clear enough the first winter. We would tax the landlords out, and law 'em about in one way and another, so as to make 'em right down glad to sell the last rod of their lands, and that cheap, too!"

"Und who might own dese farms, all oop and down der coontry, dat I sees?"

"As the law now stands, Littlepage owns 'em; but if we alter the law enough, he wun't. If we can only work the Legislature up to the stickin' p'int, we shall get all we want. Would you believe it, the man wun't sell a single farm, they say; but wishes to keep every one on 'em for himself! Is that to be borne in a free country? They'd hardly stand that in Jarmany, I'm thinkin'. A man that is such an aristocrat us to refuse to sell anything, I despise."

[Pg 197]

"Veil, dey stand to der laws in Charmany, and broperty is respected in most coontries. You vouldn't do away wid der rights of broperty, if you mights, I hopes?"

"Not I. If a man owns a watch, or a horse, or a cow, I'm for having the law such that a poor man can keep 'em, even ag'in execution. We're getting the laws pretty straight on them p'ints, in old York, I can tell you; a poor man, let him be ever so much in debt, can hold on to a mighty smart lot of things, now-a-days, and laugh at the law right in its face! I've known chaps that owed as much as $200, hold on to as good as $300; though most of their debts was for the very things they held on to!"

What a picture is this, yet is it not true? A state of society in which a man can contract a debt for a cow, or his household goods, and laugh at his creditor when he seeks his pay, on the one hand; and on the other, legislators and executives lending themselves to the chicanery of another set, that are striving to deprive a particular class of its rights of property, directly in the face of written contracts! This is straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel, with a vengeance; and all for votes! Does any one really expect a community can long exist, favoured by a wise and justice-dispensing Providence, in which such things are coolly attempted—ay, and coolly done? It is time that the American began to see things as they are, and not as they are said to be, in the speeches of governors, fourth of July orations, and electioneering addresses. I write warmly, I know, but I feel warmly; and I write like a man who sees that a most flagitious attempt to rob him is tampered with by some in power, instead of being met, as the boasted morals and intelligence of the country would require, by the stern opposition of all in authority. Curses—deep, deep curses—ere long, will fall on all who shrink from their duty in such a crisis. Even the very men who succeed, if succeed they should, will, in the end, curse the instruments of their own [Pg 198]success.[4]

"A first-rate lecturer on feudal tenors," (Joshua was not in the least particular in his language, but, in the substance, he knew what he was talking about as well as some who are in high places,) "chickens and days' works. We expect a great deal from this man, who is paid well for coming."

"Und who might bay him?—der State?"

"No—we haven't got to that yet; though some think the State will have to do it, in the long run. At present the tenants are taxed so much on the dollar, accordin' to rent, or so much an acre, and that way the needful money is raised. But one of our lecturers told us, a time back, that it was money put out at use, and every man ought to keep an account of what he give, for the time was not far off when he would get it back, with double interest. 'It is paid now for a reform,' he said, 'and when the reform is obtained, no doubt the State would feel itself so much indebted to us all, that it would tax the late landlords until we got all our money back again, and more too."

"Dat vould pe a bretty speculation; ja, dat might be most bootiful!"

"Why, yes; it wouldn't be a bad operation, living on the inimy, as a body might say. But you'll not catch our folks livin' on themselves, I can tell you. That they might do without societies. No, we've an object; and when folks has an object, they commonly look sharp a'ter it. We don't let on all we want and mean openly: and you'll find folks among us that'll deny stoutly that anti-renters has anything to do with the Injin system; but folks an't obliged to believe the moon is all cheese, unless they've a mind to. Some among us maintain that no man ought to hold more than a thousand acres of land, while others think natur' has laid down the law on that p'int, and that a man shouldn't hold [Pg 199]more than he has need on."

"Und vich side dost you favour?—vich of dese obinions might not be yours?"

"I'm not partic'lar, so I get a good farm. I should like one with comfortable buildin's on 't, and one that hasn't been worked to death. For them two principles I think I'd stand out; but, whether there be four hundred acres, or four hundred and fifty, or even five hundred, I'm no way onaccomadatin'. I expect there'll be trouble in the eend, when we come to the division, but I'm not the man to make it. I s'pose I shall get my turn at the town offices, and other chances, and, givin' me my rights in them, I'll take up with almost any farm young Littlepage has, though I should rather have one in the main valley here, than one more out of the way; still, I don't set myself down as at all partic'lar."

"Und vhat do you expect to bay Mr. Littlepage for der farm, ast you might choose?"

"That depends on sarcumstances. The Injins mainly expect to come in cheap. Some folks think it's best to pay suthin', as it might stand ag'in' law better, should it come to that; while other some see no great use in paying anything. Them that's willing to pay, mainly hold out for paying the principal of the first rents."

"I doesn't oonderstandt vhat you means py der brincipal of der first rents."

"It's plain enough, when you get the lay on 't. You see, these lands were let pretty low, when they were first taken up from the forest, in order to get folks to live here. That's the way we're obliged to do in America, or people won't come. Many tenants paid no rent at all for six, eight, or ten years; and a'ter that, until their three lives run out, as it is called, they paid only sixpence an acre, or six dollars and a quarter on the hundred acres. That was done, you see, to buy men to come here at all; and you can see by the price that was paid, how hard a time they must have had on 't. Now, some of our folks hold that the whull time ought to be counted—that which was rent free, and that which was not—in a way that I'll explain to you; for I'd have you to know I haven't entered into this business without [Pg 200]looking to the right and the wrong on't."

"Exblain, exblain; I might hear you exblain, and you most exblain."

"Why, you're in a hurry, friend Griezenbach, or whatever your name be. But I'll explain, if you wish it. S'pose, now, a lease run thirty years—ten on nothin', and twenty on sixpences. Well, a hundred sixpences make fifty shillings, and twenty times fifty make a thousand, as all the rent paid in thirty years. If you divide a thousand by thirty, it leaves thirty-three shillings and a fraction"—Joshua calculated like an American of his class, accurately and with rapidity—"for the average rent of the thirty years. Calling thirty-three shillings four dollars, and it's plaguy little more, we have that for the interest, which, at 7 per cent., will make a principal of rather more than fifty dollars, though not as much as sixty. As sich matters ought to be done on liberal principles, they say that Littlepage ought to take fifty dollars, and give a deed for the hundred acres."

"Und vhat might be der rent of a hoondred acres now?—he might get more dan sixpence to-day?"

"That he does. Most all of the farms are running out on second, and some on third leases. Four shillings an acre is about the average of the rents, accordin' to circumstances."

"Den you dinks der landtlort ought to accept one year's rent for der farms?"

"I don't look on it in that light. He ought to take fifty dollars for a hundred acres. You forget the tenants have paid for their farms, over and over again, in rent. They feel as if they have paid enough, and that it was time to stop."

Extraordinary as this reasoning may seem in most men's minds, I have since found it is a very favourite sentiment among anti-renters. "Are we to go on, and pay rent for ever?" they ask, with logical and virtuous indignation!

"Und vhat may be der aferage value of a hoondred acre farm, in dis part of de coontry?" I inquired.

"From two thousand five hundred to three thousand dollars. It would be more, but tenants won't put good buildings on farms, you know, seein' that they don't own them. [Pg 201]I heard one of our leaders lamentin' that he didn't foresee what times was comin' to, when he repaired his old house, or he would have built a new one. But a man can't foretell everything. I dare say many has the same feelin's, now."

"Den you dinks Herr Littlebage ought to accept $50 for vhat is worth $2500? Das seem ferry little."

"You forget the back rent that has been paid, and the work the tenant has done. What would the farm be good for without the work that has been done on it?"

"Ja, ja—I oonderstandst; and vhat vould der work be goot for vidout der landt on vhich it vast done?"

This was rather an incautious question to put to a man as distrustful and rogueish as Joshua Brigham. The fellow cast a lowering and distrustful look at me; but ere there was time to answer, Miller, of whom he stood in healthful awe, called him away to look after the cows.

Here, then, I had enjoyed an opportunity of hearing the opinions of one of my own hirelings on the interesting subject of my right to my own estate. I have since ascertained that, while these sentiments are sedulously kept out of view in the proceedings of the government, which deals with the whole matter as if the tenants were nothing but martyrs to hard bargains, and the landlords their task-masters, of greater or less lenity, they are extensively circulated in the "infected districts," and are held to be very sound doctrines by a large number of the "bone and sinew of the land." Of course the reasoning is varied a little, to suit circumstances, and to make it meet the facts. But of this school is a great deal, and a very great deal, of the reasoning that circulates on the leased property; and, from what I have seen and heard already, I make no doubt that there are quasi legislators among us who, instead of holding the manly and only safe doctrine which ought to be held on such a subject, and saying that these deluded men should be taught better, are ready to cite the very fact that such notions do exist as a reason for the necessity of making concessions, in order to keep the peace at the cheapest rate. That profound principle of legislation, which concedes the right in order to maintain quiet, is admirably adapted to [Pg 202]forming sinners; and, if carried out in favour of all who may happen to covet their neighbour's goods, would, in a short time, render this community the very paradise of knaves.

As for Joshua Brigham, I saw no more of him that night; for he quitted the farm on leave, just as it got to be dark. Where he went I do not know; but the errand on which he left us could no longer be a secret to me. As the family retired early, and we ourselves were a good deal fatigued, everybody was in bed by nine o'clock, and, judging from myself, soon asleep. Previously to saying "good night," however, Miller told us of the meeting of the next day, and of his intention to attend it.


"He knows the game; how true he keeps the wind!"

King Henry VI.

After an early breakfast, next morning, the signs of preparation for a start became very apparent in the family. Not only Miller, but his wife and daughter, intended to go down to "Little Neest," as the hamlet was almost invariably called in that fragment of the universe, in contradistinction to the "Neest" proper. I found afterwards that this very circumstance was cited against me in the controversy, it being thought lèse majesté for a private residence to monopolize the major of the proposition, while a hamlet had to put up with the minor; the latter, moreover, including two taverns, which are exclusively the property of the public, there being exclusiveness with the public as well as with aristocrats—more especially in all things that pertain to power or profit. As to the two last, even Joshua Brigham was much more of an aristocrat than I was myself. It must be admitted that [Pg 203]the Americans are a humane population, for they are the only people who deem that bankruptcy gives a claim to public favour.[5]

As respects the two "Nests," had not so much more serious matter been in agitation, the precedence of the names might actually have been taken up as a question of moment. I have heard of a lawsuit in France, touching a name that has been illustrious in that country for a period so long as to extend beyond the reach of man—as, indeed, was apparent by the matter in controversy—and which name has obtained for itself a high place in the annals of even our own republic. I allude to the House of Grasse, which was seated, prior to the revolution, and may be still, at a place called Grasse, in the southern part of the kingdom, the town being almost as famous for the manufacture of pleasant things as the family for its exploits in arms. About a century since, the Marquis de Grasse is said to have had a procés with his neighbours of the place, to establish the fact whether the family gave its name to the town, or the town gave its name to the family. The Marquis prevailed in the struggle, but greatly impaired his fortune in achieving that new victory. As my house, or its predecessor, was certainly erected and named while the site of Little Nest was still in the virgin forest, one would think its claims to the priority of possession beyond dispute; but such might not prove to be the case on a trial. There are two histories among us, as relates to both public and private things; the one being as nearly true as is usual, while the other is invariably the fruits of the human imagination. Everything depending so much on majorities, that soon gets to be the most authentic tradition which has the most believers; for, under the system of numbers, little regard is paid to superior advantages, knowledge, or investigation, all depending on 3 as against 2, which makes 1 majority. I find a great deal of this spurious history is getting to be mixed up with the anti-rent controversy, facts coming out daily that long have lain dormant in the graves of the past. These facts [Pg 204]affect the whole structure of the historical picture of the State and colony, leaving touches of black where the pencil had originally put in white, and placing the high lights where the shadows have before always been understood to be. In a word, men are telling the stories as best agrees with their present views, and not at all as they agree with fact.

It was the intention of Tom Miller to give my uncle Ro and me a dearborn to ourselves, while he drove his wife, Kitty and a help, as far as the "Little Neest," in a two-horse vehicle that was better adapted to such a freight. Thus disposed of, then, we all left the place in company, just as the clock in the farm-house entry struck nine. I drove our horse myself; and mine he was, in fact, every hoof, vehicle and farming utensil on the Nest farm, being as much my property, under the old laws, as the hat on my head. It is true, the Millers had now been fifty years or more, nay, nearly sixty, in possession, and by the new mode of construction it is possible some may fancy that we had paid them wages so long for working the land, and for using the cattle and utensils, that the title, in a moral sense, had passed out of me, in order to pass into Tom Miller. If use begets a right, why not to a wagon and horse, as well as to a farm.

As we left the place I gazed wistfully towards the Nest House, in the hope of seeing the form of some one that I loved, at a window, on the lawn, or in the piazza. Not a soul appeared, however, and we trotted down the road a short distance in the rear of the other wagon, conversing on such things as came uppermost in our minds. The distance we had to go was about four miles, and the hour named for the commencement of the lecture, which was to be the great affair of the day, had been named at eleven. This caused us to be in no hurry, and I rather preferred to coincide with the animal I drove, and move very slowly, than hurry on, and arrive an hour or two sooner than was required. In consequence of this feeling on our part, Miller and his family were soon out of sight, it being their wish to obtain as much of the marvels of the day as was possible.

The road, of course, was perfectly well known to my uncle and myself; but, had it not been, there was no danger of missing our way, as we had only to follow the gene[Pg 205]ral direction of the broad valley through which it ran. Then Miller had considerately told us that we must pass two churches, or a church and a "meetin'-'us'," the spires of both of which were visible most of the way, answering for beacons. Referring to this term of "meeting-house," does it not furnish conclusive evidence, of itself, of the inconsistent folly of that wisest of all earthly beings, man? It was adopted in contradistinction from, and in direct opposition to, the supposed idolatrous association connected with the use of the word "church," at a time when certain sects would feel offended at hearing their places of worship thus styled; whereas, at the present day, those very sectarians are a little disposed to resent this exclusive appropriation of the proscribed word by the sects who have always adhered to it as offensively presuming, and, in a slight degree, "arisdogradic!" I am a little afraid that your out-and-outers in politics, religion, love of liberty, and other human excellences, are somewhat apt to make these circuits in their eccentric orbits, and to come out somewhere quite near the places from which they started.

The road between the Nest House and Little Nest, the hamlet, is rural, and quite as agreeable as is usually found in a part of the country that is without water-views or mountain scenery. Our New York landscapes are rarely, nay, never grand, as compared with the noble views one finds in Italy, Switzerland, Spain, and the finer parts of Europe; but we have a vast many that want nothing but a finish to their artificial accessories to render them singularly agreeable. Such is the case with the principal vale of Ravensnest, which, at the very moment we were driving through it, struck my uncle and myself as presenting a picture of rural abundance, mingled with rural comfort, that one seldom sees in the old world, where the absence of enclosures, and the concentration of the dwellings in villages, leave the fields naked and with a desolate appearance, in spite of their high tillage and crops.

"This is an estate worth contending for, now," said my uncle, as we trotted slowly on, "although it has not hitherto been very productive to its owner. The first half century of an American property of this sort rarely brings much to [Pg 206]its proprietor beyond trouble and vexation."

"And after that time the tenant is to have it, pretty much at his own price, as a reward for his own labour!"

"What evidences are to be found, wherever the eye rests, of the selfishness of man, and his unfitness to be left to the unlimited control of his own affairs! In England they are quarrelling with the landlords, who do compose a real aristocracy, and make the laws, about the manner in which they protect themselves and the products of their estates; while here the true owner of the soil is struggling against the power of numbers, with the people, who are the only aristocrats we possess, in order to maintain his right of property in the simplest and most naked form! A common vice is at the bottom of both wrongs, and that is the vice of selfishness."

"But how are abuses like those of which we complain here—abuses of the most formidable character of any that can exist, since the oppressors are so many, and so totally irresponsible by their numbers—to be avoided, if you give the people the right of self-government?"

"God help the nation where self-government, in its literal sense, exists, Hugh! The term is conventional, and, properly viewed, means a government in which the source of authority is the body of the nation, and does not come from any other sovereign. When a people that has been properly educated by experience calmly selects its agents, and coolly sets to work to adopt a set of principles to form its fundamental law or constitution, the machine is on the right track, and will work well enough so long as it is kept there; but this running off, and altering the fundamental principles every time a political faction has need of recruits, is introducing tyranny in its worst form—a tyranny that is just as dangerous to real liberty as hypocrisy is to religion!"

We were now approaching St. Andrew's church and the rectory, with its glebe, the latter lying contiguous to the church-yard, or, as it is an Americanism to say, the "graveyard." There had been an evident improvement around the rectory since I had last seen it. Shrubbery had been planted, care was taken of the fences, the garden was neatly and well worked, the fields looked smooth, and everything [Pg 207]denoted that it was "new lords and new laws." The last incumbent had been a whining, complaining, narrow-minded, selfish and lazy priest, the least estimable of all human characters, short of the commission of the actual and higher crimes; but his successor had the reputation of being a devout and real Christian—one who took delight in the duties of his holy office, and who served God because he loved him. I am fully aware how laborious is the life of a country priest, and how contracted and mean is the pittance he in common receives, and how much more he merits than he gets, if his reward were to be graduated by things here. But this picture, like every other, has its different sides, and occasionally men do certainly enter the church from motives as little as possible connected with those that ought to influence them.

"There is the wagon of Mr. Warren, at his door," observed my uncle, as we passed the rectory. "Can it be that he intends visiting the village also, on an occasion like this?"

"Nothing more probable, sir, if the character Patt has given of him be true," I answered. "She tells me he has been active in endeavouring to put down the covetous spirit that is getting uppermost in the town, and has even preached boldly, though generally, against the principles involved in the question. The other man, they say, goes for popularity, and preaches and prays with the anti-renters."

No more was said, but on we went, soon entering a large bit of wood, a part of the virgin forest. This wood, exceeding a thousand acres in extent, stretched down from the hills along some broken and otherwise little valuable land, and had been reserved from the axe to meet the wants of some future day. It was mine, therefore, in the fullest sense of the word; and, singular as it may seem, one of the grounds of accusation brought against me and my predecessors was that we had declined leasing it! Thus, on the one hand, we were abused for having leased our land, and, on the other, for not having leased it. The fact is, we, in common with other extensive landlords, are expected to use our property as much as possible for the particular benefit of other people, while those other people are expected to use their property as much as possible for their own particular [Pg 208]benefit.

There was near a mile of forest to pass before we came out again in the open country, at about a mile and a half's distance from the hamlet. On our left this little forest did not extend more than a hundred rods, terminating at the edge of the rivulet—or creek, as the stream is erroneously called, and for no visible reason but the fact that it was only a hundred feet wide—which swept close under the broken ground mentioned at this point. On our right, however, the forest stretched away for more than a mile, until, indeed, it became lost and confounded with other portions of wood that had been reserved for the farms on which they grew. As is very usual in America, in cases where roads pass through a forest, a second growth had shot up on each side of this highway, which was fringed for the whole distance with large bushes of pine, hemlock, chestnut and maple. In some places these bushes almost touched the track, while in others a large space was given. We were winding our way through this wood, and had nearly reached its centre, at a point where no house was visible—and no house, indeed, stood within half a mile of us—with the view in front and in rear limited to some six or eight rods in each direction by the young trees, when our ears were startled by a low, shrill, banditti-like whistle. I must confess that my feelings were anything but comfortable at that interruption, for I remembered the conversation of the previous night. I thought by the sudden jump of my uncle, and the manner he instinctively felt where he ought to have had a pistol, to meet such a crisis, that he believed himself already in the hands of the Philistines.

A half minute sufficed to tell us the truth. I had hardly stopped the horse, in order to look around me, when a line of men, all armed and disguised, issued in single file from the bushes, and drew up in the road, at right angles to its course. There were six of these "Injins," as they are called, and, indeed, call themselves, each carrying a rifle, horn and pouch, and otherwise equipped for the field. The disguises were very simple, consisting of a sort of loose calico hunting-shirt and trowsers that completely concealed the person. The head was covered by a species of hood, or mask, equally of calico, that was fitted with holes for the [Pg 209]eyes, nose and mouth, and which completed the disguise. There were no means of recognizing a man thus equipped, unless it might be by the stature, in cases in which the party was either unusually tall or unusually short. A middle-sized man was perfectly safe from recognition, so long as he did not speak and could keep his equipments. Those who did speak altered their voices, as we soon found, using a jargon that was intended to imitate the imperfect English of the native owners of the soil. Although neither of us had ever seen one of the gang before, we knew these disturbers of the public peace to be what in truth they were, the instant our eyes fell on them. One could not well be mistaken, indeed, under the circumstances in which we were placed; but the tomahawks that one or two carried, the manner of their march, and other pieces of mummery that they exhibited, would have told us the fact, had we met them even in another place.

My first impulse was to turn the wagon, and to endeavour to lash the lazy beast I drove into a run. Fortunately, before the attempt was made, I turned my head to see if there was room for such an exploit, and saw six others of these "Injins" drawn across the road behind us. It was now so obviously the wisest course to put the best face on the matter, that we walked the horse boldly up to the party in front, until he was stopped by one of the gang taking him by the bridle.

"Sago, sago," cried one who seemed to act as a chief, and whom I shall thus designate, speaking in his natural voice, though affecting an Indian pronunciation. "How do, how do?—where come from, eh?—where go, eh?—What you say, too—up rent or down rent, eh?"

"Ve ist two Charmans," returned uncle Ro, in his most desperate dialect, the absurdity of men who spoke the same language resorting to such similar means of deception tempting me sorely to laugh in the fellows' faces; "Ve ist two Charmans dat ist goin' to hear a man's sbeak about bayin' rent, und to sell vatches. Might you buy a vatch, goot shentlemans."

Although the fellows doubtless knew who we were, so far as our assumed characters went, and had probably been advised of our approach, this bait took, and there was a [Pg 210]general jumping up and down, and a common pow-wowing among them, indicative of the pleasure such a proposal gave. In a minute the whole party were around us, with some eight or ten more who appeared from the nearest bushes. We were helped out of the wagon with a gentle violence that denoted their impatience. As a matter of course, I expected that all the trinkets and watches, which were of little value, fortunately, would immediately disappear; for who could doubt that men engaged in attempting to rob on so large a scale as these fellows were engaged in, would hesitate about doing a job on one a little more diminutive. I was mistaken, however; some sort of imperceptible discipline keeping those who were thus disposed, of whom there must have been some in such a party, in temporary order. The horse was left standing in the middle of the highway, right glad to take his rest, while we were shown the trunk of a fallen tree, near by, on which to place our box of wares. A dozen watches were presently in the hands of as many of these seeming savages, who manifested a good deal of admiration at their shining appearance. While this scene, which was half mummery and half nature, was in the course of enactment, the chief beckoned me to a seat on the further end of the tree, and, attended by one or two of his companions, he began to question me as follows:

"Mind tell truth," he said, making no very expert actor in the way of imitation. "Dis 'Streak o' Lightning,'" laying his hand on his own breast, that I might not misconceive the person of the warrior who bore so eminent a title; "no good lie to him—know ebbery t'ing afore he ask, only ask for fun—what do here, eh?"

"Ve coomes to see der Injins and der beoples at der village, dat ve might sell our vatches."

"Dat all; sartain?—can call 'down rent,' eh?"

"Dat ist ferry easy; 'down rent, eh?'"

"Sartain Jarman, eh?—you no spy?—you no sent here by gubbernor, eh?—landlord no pay you, eh?"

"Vhat might I spy? Dere ist nothin' do spy, but mans vid calico faces. Vhy been you afraid of der governor?—I dinks der governors be ferry goot frients of der anti-rents."

"Not when we act this way. Send horse, send foot a'ter [Pg 211]us, den. T'ink good friend, too, when he dare."

"He be d——d!" bawled out one of the tribe, in as good, homely, rustic English as ever came out of the mouth of a clown. "If he's our friend, why did he send the artillery and horse down to Hudson?—and why has he had Big Thunder up afore his infarnal courts? He be d——d!"

There was no mistaking this outpouring of the feelings; and so "Streak o' Lightning" seemed to think too, for he whispered one of the tribe, who took the plain-speaking Injin by the arm and led him away, grumbling and growling, as the thunder mutters in the horizon after the storm has passed on. For myself, I made several profitable reflections concerning the inevitable fate of those who attempt to "serve God and Mammon." This anti-rentism is a question in which, so far as a governor is concerned, there is but one course to pursue, and that is to enforce the laws by suppressing violence, and leaving the parties to the covenants of leases to settle their differences in the courts, like the parties to any other contracts. It is a poor rule that will not work both ways. Many a landlord has made a hard bargain for himself; and I happen to know of one case in particular, in which a family has long been, and is still, kept out of the enjoyment of a very valuable estate, as to any benefit of importance, purely by the circumstance that a weak-minded possessor of the property fancied he was securing souls for paradise by letting his farms on leases for ninety-nine years, at nominal rents, with a covenant that the tenant should go twice to a particular church! Now, nothing is plainer than that it is a greater hardship to the citizen who is the owner of many farms so situated, than to the citizen who is the lessee of only one with a hard covenant; and, on general principles, the landlord in question would be most entitled to relief, since one man who suffers a good deal is more an object of true commiseration than many who suffer each a little. What would a governor be apt to say if my landlord should go with his complaints to the foot of the executive chair, and tell him that the very covenant which had led his predecessor into the mistake of thus wasting his means was openly disregarded; that farms worth many thousands of dollars had now been enjoyed by the tenants for near a century for mere nominal rents, and that [Pg 212]the owner of the land in fee had occasion for his property, &c. &c. Would the governor recommend legislative action in that case? Would the length of such leases induce him to recommend that no lease should exceed five years in duration? Would the landlords who should get up a corps of Injins to worry their tenants into an abandonment of their farms be the objects of commiseration?—and would the law slumber for years over their rebellions and depredations, until two or three murders aroused public indignation? Let them answer that know. As a landlord, I should be sorry to incur the ridicule that would attend even a public complaint of the hardships of such a case. A common sneer would send me to the courts for my remedy, if I had one, and the whole difference between the "if and ifs" of the two cases would be that a landlord gives but one vote, while his tenants may be legion.[6]

"He be d——d," muttered the plain-speaking Injin, as long as I could hear him. As soon as released from his presence, Streak of Lightning continued his examination, though a little vexed at the undramatical character of the interruption.

"Sartain no spy, eh?—sartain gubbernor no send him, eh?—sartain come to sell watch, eh?"

"I coomes, as I tell ye, to see if vatches might be solt, und not for der gubbernor; I neffer might see der mans."

As all this was true, my conscience felt pretty easy on the score of whatever there might be equivocal about it.

"What folks think of Injin down below, eh?—what folks say of anti-rent, eh?—hear him talk about much?"

"Vell, soome does dink anti-rent ist goot, und soome does dink anti-rent ist bad. Dey dinks as dey wishes."

Here a low whistle came down the road, or rather down the bushes, when every Injin started up; each man very fairly gave back the watch he was examining, and in less than half a minute we were alone on the log. This movement was so sudden that it left us in a little doubt as to the proper mode of proceeding. My uncle, however, coolly set [Pg 213]about replacing his treasures in their box, while I went to the horse, which had shaken off his head-stall, and was quietly grazing along the road-side. A minute or two might have been thus occupied, when the trotting of a horse and the sound of wheels announced the near approach of one of those vehicles which have got to be almost national; a dearborn, or a one-horse wagon. As it came out from behind a screen of bushes formed by a curvature in the road, I saw that it contained the Rev. Mr. Warren and his sweet daughter.

The road being narrow, and our vehicle in its centre, it was not possible for the newcomers to proceed until we got out of the way, and the divine pulled up as soon as he reached the spot where we stood.

"Good morning, gentlemen," said Mr. Warren, cordially, and using a word that, in his mouth, I felt meant all it expressed. "Good morning, gentlemen. Are you playing Handel to the wood-nymphs, or reciting eclogues?"

"Neider, neider, Herr Pastor; we meet wid coostomers here, und dey has joost left us," answered uncle Ro, who certainly enacted his part with perfect àplomb, and the most admirable mimicry as to manner. "Guten tag, guten tag. Might der Herr Pastor been going to der village?"

"We are. I understand there is to be a meeting there of the misguided men called anti-renters, and that several of my parishioners are likely to be present. On such an occasion I conceive it to be my duty to go among my own particular people, and whisper a word of advice. Nothing can be farther from my notions of propriety than for a clergyman to be mingling and mixing himself up with political concerns in general, but this is a matter that touches morality, and the minister of God is neglectful of his duty who keeps aloof when a word of admonition might aid in preventing some wavering brother from the commission of a grievous sin. This last consideration has brought me out to a scene I could otherwise most heartily avoid."

This might be well enough, I said to myself, but what has your daughter to do in such a scene? Is the mind of Mary Warren, then, after all, no better than vulgar minds in general?—and can she find a pleasure in the excitement of lectures of this cast, and in that of public meetings? No [Pg 214]surer test can be found of cultivation, than the manner in which it almost intuitively shrinks from communion unnecessarily with tastes and principles below its own level; yet here was the girl with whom I was already half in love—and that was saying as little as could be said, too—actually going down to the "Little Neest" to hear an itinerant lecturer on political economy utter his crudities, and to see and be seen! I was grievously disappointed, and would at the moment have cheerfully yielded the best farm on my estate to have had the thing otherwise. My uncle must have had some similar notion, by the remark he made.

"Und doost das jung frau go to see der Injins, too; to bersuade 'em dey ist fery vicked?"

Mary's face had been a little pale for her, I thought, as the wagon drew up; but it immediately became scarlet. She even suffered her head to droop a little, and then I perceived that she cast an anxious and tender glance at her father. I cannot say whether this look were or were not intended for a silent appeal, unconsciously made; but the father, without even seeing it, acted as if he fancied it might be.

"No, no," he said, hurriedly; "this dear girl is doing violence to all her feelings but one, in venturing to such a place. Her filial piety has proved stronger than her fears and her tastes, and when she found that go I would, no argument of mine could persuade her to remain at home. I hope she will not repent it."

The colour did not quit Mary's face, but she looked grateful at finding her true motives appreciated; and she even smiled, though she said nothing. My own feelings underwent another sudden revulsion. There was no want of those tastes and inclinations that can alone render a young woman attractive to any man of sentiment, but there was high moral feeling and natural affection enough to overcome them in a case in which she thought duty demanded the sacrifice! It was very little probable that anything would or could occur that day to render the presence of Mary Warren in the least necessary or useful; but it was very pleasant to me and very lovely in her to think otherwise, under the strong impulses of her filial attachment.

Another idea, however, and one far less pleasant, suggested itself to the minds of my uncle and myself, and almost [Pg 215]at the same instant; it was this: the conversation was carried on in a high key, or loud enough to be heard at some little distance, the horse and part of the wagon interposing between the speakers; and there was the physical certainty that some of those whom we knew to be close at hand, in the bushes, must hear all that was said, and might take serious offence at it. Under this apprehension, therefore, my uncle directed me to remove our own vehicle as fast as possible, in order that the clergyman might pass. Mr. Warren, however, was in no hurry to do this, for he was utterly ignorant of the audience he had, and entertained that feeling towards us that men of liberal acquirements are apt to feel when they see others of similar educations reduced by fortune below their proper level. He was consequently desirous of manifesting his sympathy with us, and would not proceed, even after I had opened the way for him.

"It is a painful thing," continued Mr. Warren, "to find men mistaking their own cupidity for the workings of a love of liberty. To me nothing is more palpable than that this anti-rent movement is covetousness incited by the father of evil; yet you will find men among us who fancy they are aiding the cause of free institutions by joining in it, when, in truth, they are doing all they can to bring them into discredit, and to insure their certain downfall, in the end."

This was sufficiently awkward; for, by going near enough to give a warning in a low voice, and have that warning followed by a change in the discourse, we should be betraying ourselves, and might fall into serious danger. At the very moment the clergyman was thus speaking I saw the masked head of Streak o' Lightning appearing through an opening in some small pines that grew a little in the rear of the wagon, a position that enabled him to hear every syllable that was uttered. I was afraid to act myself, and trusted to the greater experience of my uncle. Whether the last also saw the pretended chief was more than I knew, but he decided to let the conversation go on, rather leaning to the anti-rent side of the question, as the course that could do no serious evil, while it might secure our own safety. It is [Pg 216]scarcely necessary to say all these considerations glanced through our minds so swiftly as to cause no very awkward or suspicious pause in the discourse.

"B'rhaps dey doosn't like to bay rent?" put in my uncle, with a roughness of manner that was in accordance with the roughness of the sentiment. "Beoples might radder haf deir landts for nuttin', dan bay rents for dem."

"In that case, then, let them go and buy lands for themselves; if they do not wish to pay rent, why did they agree to pay rent?"

"May be dey changes deir minds. Vhat is goot to-day doosn't always seem goot to-morrow."

"That may be true; but we have no right to make others suffer for our own fickleness. I dare say, now, that it might be better for the whole community that so large a tract of land as that included in the Manor of Rensselaerwyck, for instance, and lying as it does in the very heart of the State, should be altogether in the hands of the occupants, than have it subject to the divided interest that actually exists; but it does not follow that a change is to be made by violence, or by fraudulent means. In either of the latter cases the injury done the community would be greater than if the present tenures were to exist a thousand years. I dare say much the larger portion of those farms can be bought off at a moderate advance on their actual money-value; and that is the way to get rid of the difficulty; not by bullying owners out of their property. If the State finds a political consideration of so much importance for getting rid of the tenures, let the State tax itself to do so, and make a liberal offer, in addition to what the tenants will offer, and I'll answer for it the landlords will not stand so much in their own way as to decline good prices."

"But, maybes dey won't sell all der landts; dey may wants to keep some of dem."

"They have a right to say yes or no, while we have no right to juggle or legislate them out of their property. The Legislature of this State has quite lately been exhibiting one of the most pitiable sights the world has seen in my day. It has been struggling for months to find a way to get round [Pg 217]the positive provisions of laws and constitutions, in order to make a sacrifice of the rights of a few, to secure the votes of the many."

"Votes ist a goot ding, at election dime—haw, haw, haw!" exclaimed my uncle.

Mr. Warren looked both surprised and offended. The coarseness of manner that my uncle had assumed effected its object with the Injins, but it almost destroyed the divine's previous good opinion of our characters, and quite upset his notions of our refinement and principles. There was no time for explanations, however; for, just as my uncle's broad and well-acted "haw, haw, haw" was ended, a shrill whistle was heard in the bushes, and some forty or fifty of the Injins came whooping and leaping out from their cover, filling the road in all directions, immediately around the wagons.

Mary Warren uttered a little scream at this startling scene, and I saw her arm clinging to that of her father, by a sort of involuntary movement, as if she would protect him at all hazards. Then she seemed to rally, and from that instant her character assumed an energy, an earnestness, a spirit and an intrepidity that I had least expected in one so mild in aspect, and so really sweet in disposition.

All this was unnoticed by the Injins. They had their impulses, too, and the first thing they did was to assist Mr. Warren and his daughter to alight from their wagon. This was done, not without decorum of manner, and certainly not without some regard to the holy office of one of the parties, and to the sex of the other. Nevertheless, it was done neatly and expeditiously, leaving us all, Mr. Warren and Mary, my uncle and myself, with a cluster of some fifty Injins around us, standing in the centre of the highway.

[Pg 218]


"No toil in despair,
No tyrant, no slave,
No bread-tax is there,
With a maw like the grave."

All this was so suddenly done as scarce to leave us time to think. There was one instant, notwithstanding, while two Injins were assisting Mary Warren to jump from the wagon, when my incognito was in great danger. Perceiving that the young lady was treated with no particular disrespect, I so far overcame the feeling as to remain quiet, though I silently changed my position sufficiently to get near her elbow, where I could and did whisper a word or two of encouragement. But Mary thought only of her father, and had no fears for herself. She saw none but him, trembled only for him, dreaded and hoped for him alone.

As for Mr. Warren himself, he betrayed no discomposure. Had he been about to enter the desk, his manner could not have been more calm. He gazed around him, to ascertain if it were possible to recognise any of his captors, but suddenly turned his head away, as if struck with the expediency of not learning their names, even though it had been possible. He might be put on the stand as a witness against some misguided neighbour, did he know his person. All this was so apparent in his benevolent countenance, that I think it struck some among the Injins, and still believe it may have had a little influence on their treatment of him. A pot of tar and a bag of feathers had been brought into the road when the gang poured out of the bushes, but whether this were merely accidental, or it had originally been intended to use them on Mr. Warren, I cannot say. The offensive materials soon and silently disappeared, and with them every sign of any intention to offer personal injury.

"What have I done that I am thus arrested in the public highway, by men armed and disguised, contrary to law?" [Pg 219]demanded the divine, as soon as the general pause which succeeded the first movement invited him to speak. "This is a rash and illegal step, that may yet bring repentance."

"No preachee now," answered Streak o' Lightning; "preachee for meetin', no good for road."

Mr. Warren afterwards admitted to me that he was much relieved by this reply, the substitution of the word "meeting" for "church" giving him the grateful assurance that this individual, at least, was not one of his own people.

"Admonition and remonstrance may always be useful when crime is meditated. You are now committing a felony, for which the State's prison is the punishment prescribed by the laws of the land, and the duties of my holy office direct me to warn you of the consequences. The earth itself is but one of God's temples, and his ministers need never hesitate to proclaim his laws on any part of it."

It was evident that the calm severity of the divine, aided, no doubt, by his known character, produced an impression on the gang, for the two who had still hold of his arms released them, and a little circle was now formed, in the centre of which he stood.

"If you will enlarge this circle, my friends," continued Mr. Warren, "and give room, I will address you here, where we stand, and let you know my reasons why I think your conduct ought to be——"

"No, no—no preachee here," suddenly interrupted Streak o' Lightning; "go to village, go to meetin'-'us'—preachee there.—Two preacher, den.—Bring wagon and put him in. March, march; path open."

Although this was but an "Injin" imitation of "Indian" sententiousness, and somewhat of a caricature, everybody understood well enough what was meant. Mr. Warren offered no resistance, but suffered himself to be placed in Miller's wagon, with my uncle at his side, without opposition. Then it was, however, that he bethought himself of his daughter, though his daughter had never ceased to think of him. I had some little difficulty in keeping her from rushing into the crowd, and clinging to his side. Mr. Warren rose, and, giving her an encouraging smile, bade her be calm, told her he had nothing to fear, and requested that [Pg 220]she would enter his own wagon again and return home, promising to rejoin her as soon as his duties at the village were discharged.

"Here is no one to drive the horse, my child, but our young German acquaintance. The distance is very short, and if he will thus oblige me, he can come down to the village with the wagon, as soon as he has seen you safe at our own door."

Mary Warren was accustomed to defer to her father's opinions, and she so far submitted, now, as to permit me to assist her into the wagon, and to place myself at her side, whip in hand, proud of and pleased with the precious charge thus committed to my care. These arrangements made, the Injins commenced their march, about half of them preceding, and the remainder following the wagon that contained their prisoner. Four, however, walked on each side of the vehicle, thus preventing the possibility of escape. No noise was made, and little was said; the orders being given by signs and signals, rather than by words.

Our wagon continued stationary until the party had got at least a hundred yards from us, no one giving any heed to our movements. I had waited thus long for the double purpose of noting the manner of the proceedings among the Injins, and to obtain room to turn at a spot in the road a short distance in advance of us, and which was wider than common. To this spot I now walked the horse, and was in the act of turning the animal's head in the required direction, when I saw Mary Warren's little gloved hand laid hurriedly on the reins. She endeavoured to keep the head of the horse in the road.

"No, no," said the charming girl, speaking earnestly, as if she would not be denied, "we will follow my father to the village. I may not, must not, cannot quit him!"

The time and place were every way propitious, and I determined to let Mary Warren know who I was. By doing it I might give her confidence in me at a moment when she was in distress, and encourage her with the hope that I might also befriend her father. At any rate, I was determined to pass for an itinerant Dutch music-grinder with her no longer.

[Pg 221]

"Miss Mary, Miss Warren," I commenced, cautiously, and with quite as much hesitation and diffidence of feeling as of manner, "I am not what I seem—that is, I am no music-grinder."

The start, the look, and the alarm of my companion, were all eloquent and natural. Her hand was still on the reins, and she now drew on them so hard as actually to stop the horse. I thought she intended to jump out of the vehicle, as a place no longer fit for her.

"Be not alarmed, Miss Warren," I said, eagerly, and, I trust, so earnestly as to inspire a little confidence. "You will not think the worse of me at finding I am your countryman instead of a foreigner, and a gentleman instead of a music-grinder. I shall do all you ask, and will protect you with my life."

"This is so extraordinary!—so unusual!—The whole country appears unsettled! Pray, sir, if you are not the person whom you have represented yourself to be, who are you?"

"One who admires your filial love and courage—who honours you for them both. I am the brother of your friend, Martha—I am Hugh Littlepage!"

The little hand now abandoned the reins, and the dear girl turned half round on the cushion of the seat, gazing at me in mute astonishment! I had been cursing in my heart the lank locks of the miserable wig I was compelled to wear, ever since I had met with Mary Warren, as unnecessarily deforming and ugly, for one might have as well a becoming as a horridly unbecoming disguise. Off went my cap, therefore, and off went the wig after it, leaving my own shaggy curls for the sole setting of my face.

Mary made a slight exclamation as she gazed at me, and the deadly paleness of her countenance was succeeded by a slight blush. A smile, too, parted her lips, and I fancied she was less alarmed.

"Am I forgiven, Miss Warren?" I asked; "and will you recognise me for the brother of your friend?"

"Does Martha—does Mrs. Littlepage know of this?" the charming girl at length asked.

"Both; I have had the happiness of being embraced by [Pg 222]both my grandmother and my sister. You were taken out of the room, yesterday, by the first, that I might be left alone with the last, for that very purpose!"

"I see it all, now; yes, I thought it singular then, though I felt there could be no impropriety in any of Mrs. Littlepages' acts. Dearest Martha! how well she played her part, and how admirably she has kept your secret!"

"It is very necessary. You see the condition of the country, and will understand that it would be imprudent in me to appear openly, even on my own estate. I have a written covenant authorizing me to visit every farm near us, to look after my own interests; yet, it may be questioned if it would be safe to visit one among them all, now that the spirits of misrule and covetousness are up and doing."

"Replace your disguise at once, Mr. Littlepage," said Mary, eagerly; "do—do not delay an instant."

I did as desired, Mary watching the process with interested, and, at the same time, amused eyes. I thought she looked as sorry as I felt myself when that lank, villanous wig was again performing its office.

"Am I as well arranged as when we first met, Miss Warren? Do I appear again the music-grinder?"

"I see no difference," returned the dear girl, laughing. How musical and cheering to me were the sounds of her voice in that little burst of sweet, feminine merriment. "Indeed, indeed, I do not think even Martha could know you now, for the person you the moment before seemed."

"My disguise is, then, perfect. I was in hopes it left a little that my friends might recognise, while it effectually concealed me from my enemies."

"It does—oh! it does. Now I know who you are, I find no difficulty in tracing in your features the resemblance to your portrait in the family gallery, at the Nest. The eyes, too, cannot be altered without artificial brows, and those you have not."

This was consoling; but all that time Mr. Warren and the party in front had been forgotten. Perhaps it was excusable in two young persons thus situated, and who had now known each other a week, to think more of what was [Pg 223]just then passing in the wagon, than to recollect the tribe that was marching down the road, and the errand they were on. I felt the necessity, however, of next consulting my companion as to our future movements. Mary heard me in evident anxiety, and her purpose seemed unsettled, for she changed colour under each new impulse of her feelings.

"If it were not for one thing," she answered, after a thoughtful pause, "I should insist on following my father."

"And what may be the reason of this change of purpose?"

"Would it be altogether safe for you, Mr. Littlepage, to venture again among those misguided men?"

"Never think of me, Miss Warren. You see I have been among them already undetected, and it is my intention to join them again, even should I first have to take you home. Decide for yourself."

"I will, then, follow my father. My presence may be the means of saving him from some indignity."

I was rejoiced at this decision, on two accounts; of which one might have been creditable enough to me, while the other, I am sorry to say, was rather selfish. I delighted in the dear girl's devotion to her parent, and I was glad to have her company as long as possible that morning. Without entering into a very close analysis of motives, however, I drove down the road, keeping the horse on a very slow gait, being in no particular hurry to quit my present fair companion.

Mary and I had now a free, and, in some tense, a confidential dialogue. Her manner towards me had entirely changed; for, while it maintained the modesty and retenue of her sex and station, it displayed much of that frankness which was the natural consequence of her great intimacy at the Nest, and; as I have since ascertained, of her own ingenuous nature. The circumstance, too, that she now felt she was with one of her own class, who had opinions, habits, tastes and thoughts like her own, removed a mountain of restraint, and made her communications natural and easy. I was near an hour, I do believe, in driving the two miles that lay between the point where the Injins had been met and the village, and in that hour Mary Warren and I became better acquainted than would have been the case, under [Pg 224]ordinary circumstances, in a year.

In the first place, I explained the reasons and manner of my early and unexpected return home, and the motives by which I had been governed in thus coming in disguise on my own property. Then I said a little of my future intentions, and of my disposition to hold out to the last against every attempt on my rights, whether they might come from the open violence and unprincipled designs of those below, or the equally unprincipled schemes of those above. A spurious liberty and political cant were things that I despised, as every intelligent and independent man must; and I did not intend to be persuaded I was an aristocrat, merely because I had the habits of a gentleman, at the very moment when I had less political influence than the hired labourers in my own service.

Mary Warren manifested a spirit and an intelligence that surprised me. She expressed her own belief that the proscribed classes of the country had only to be true to themselves to be restored to their just rights, and that on the very principle by which they were so fast losing them. The opinions she thus expressed are worthy of being recorded.

"Everything that is done in that way," said this gentle, but admirable creature, "has hitherto been done on a principle that is quite as false and vicious as that by which they are now oppressed. We have had a great deal written and said, lately, about uniting people of property, but it has been so evidently with an intention to make money rule, and that in its most vulgar and vicious manner, that persons of right feelings would not unite in such an effort; but it does seem to me, Mr. Littlepage, that if the gentlemen of New York could form themselves into an association in defence of their rights, and for nothing else, and let it be known that they would not be robbed with impunity, they are numerous enough and powerful enough to put down this anti-rent project by the mere force of numbers. Thousands would join them for the sake of principles, and the country might be left to the enjoyment of the fruits of liberty, without getting any of the fruits of its cant."

This is a capital idea, and might easily be carried out. It requires nothing but a little self-denial, with the conviction of the necessity of doing something, if the downward [Pg 225]tendency is to be ever checked short of civil war, and a revolution that is to let in despotism in its more direct form; despotism, in the indirect, is fast appearing among us, as it is.

"I have heard of a proposition for the Legislature to appoint special commissioners, who are to settle all the difficulties between the landlords and tenants," I remarked, "a scheme in the result of which some people profess to have a faith. I regard it as only one of the many projects that have been devised to evade the laws and institutions of the country, as they now exist."

Mary Warren seemed thoughtful for a moment; then her eye and face brightened, as if she were struck with some thought suddenly; after which the colour deepened on her cheek, and she turned to me as if half doubting, and yet half desirous of giving utterance to the idea that was uppermost.

"You wish to say something, Miss Warren?"

"I dare say it will be very silly—and I hope you won't think it pedantic in a girl, but really it does look so to me—what difference would there be between such a commission and the Star-Chamber judges of the Stuarts, Mr. Littlepage?"

"Not much in general principles, certainly, as both would be the instruments of tyrants; but a very important one in a great essential. The Star-Chamber courts were legal, whereas this commission would be flagrantly illegal; the adoption of a special tribunal to effect certain purposes that could exist only in the very teeth of the constitution, both in its spirit and its letter. Yet this project comes from men who prate about the 'spirit of the institutions,' which they clearly understand to be their own spirit, let that be what it may."

"Providence, I trust, will not smile on such desperate efforts to do wrong!" said Mary Warren, solemnly.

"One hardly dare look into the inscrutable ways of a Power that has its motives so high beyond our reach. Providence permits much evil to be done, and is very apt to be, as Frederic of Prussia expressed it, on the side of strong battalions, so far as human vision can penetrate. Of one thing, however, I feel certain, and that is that they who are [Pg 226]now the most eager to overturn everything to effect present purposes, will be made to repent of it bitterly, either in their own persons, or in those of their descendants."

"That is what is meant, my father says, by visiting 'the sins of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generations.' But there is the party, with their prisoners, just entering the village. Who is your companion, Mr. Littlepage?—One hired to act as an assistant?"

"It is my uncle, himself. You have often heard, I should think, of Mr. Roger Littlepage?"

Mary gave a little exclamation at hearing this, and she almost laughed. After a short pause she blushed brightly, and turned to me as she said—

"And my father and I have supposed you, the one a pedlar, and the other a street-musician!"

"But bedlars and moosic-grinders of goot etications, as might be panishet for deir bolitics."

Now, indeed, she laughed out, for the long and frank dialogue we had held together made this change to broken English seem as if a third person had joined us. I profited by the occasion to exhort the dear girl to be calm, and not to feel any apprehension on the subject of her father. I pointed out how little probable it was that violence would be offered to a minister of the gospel, and showed her, by the number of persons that had collected in the village, that it was impossible he should not have many warm and devoted friends present. I also gave her permission to, nay, requested she would, tell Mr. Warren the fact of my uncle's and my own presence, and the reasons of our disguises, trusting altogether to the very obvious interest the dear girl took in our safety, that she would add, of her own accord, the necessary warning on the subject of secresy. Just as this conversation ended we drove into the hamlet, and I helped my fair companion to alight.

Mary Warren now hastened to seek her father, while I was left to take care of the horse. This I did by fastening him to the rails of a fence, that was lined for a long distance by horses and wagons drawn up by the way-side. Surprisingly few persons in the country, at this day, are seen on horseback. Notwithstanding the vast difference in the amount of the population, ten horsemen were to be met [Pg 227]with forty years ago, by all accounts, on the highways of the State, for one to-day. The well-known vehicle, called a dearborn, with its four light wheels and mere shell of a box, is in such general use as to have superseded almost every other species of conveyance. Coaches and chariots are no longer met with, except in the towns; and even the coachee, the English sociable, which was once so common, has very generally given way to a sort of carriage-wagon, that seems a very general favourite. My grandmother, who did use the stately-looking and elegant chariot in town, had nothing but this carriage-wagon in the country; and I question if one-half of the population of the State would know what to call the former vehicle, if they should see it.

As a matter of course, the collection of people assembled at Little Nest on this occasion had been brought together in dearborns, of which there must have been between two and three hundred lining the fences and crowding the horse-sheds of the two inns. The American countryman, in the true sense of the word, is still quite rustic in many of his notions; though, on the whole, less marked in this particular than his European counterpart. As the rule, he has yet to learn that the little liberties which are tolerated in a thinly-peopled district, and which are of no great moment when put in practice under such circumstances, become oppressive and offensive when reverted to in places of much resort. The habits of popular control, too, come to aid in making them fancy that what everybody does in their part of the country can have no great harm in it. It was in conformity with this tendency of the institutions, perhaps, that very many of the vehicles I have named were thrust into improper places, stopping up the footways, impeding the entrances to doors, here and there letting down bars without permission, and garnishing orchards and pastures with one-horse wagons. Nothing was meant by all these liberties beyond a desire to dispose of the horses and vehicles in the manner easiest to their owners. Nevertheless, there was some connection between the institutions and these little liberties which some statesmen might fancy existed in the spirit of the former. This, however, was a capital mistake, inasmuch as the spirit of the institutions is to be found in the laws, which prohibit and punish all [Pg 228]sorts of trespasses, and which are enacted expressly to curb the tendencies of human nature! No, no, as my uncle Ro says, nothing can be less alike, sometimes, than the spirit of institutions and their tendencies.

I was surprised to find nearly as many females as men had collected at the Little Nest on this occasion. As for the Injins, after escorting Mr. Warren as far as the village, as if significantly to admonish him of their presence, they had quietly released him, permitting him to go where he pleased. Mary had no difficulty in finding him, and I saw her at his side, apparently in conversation with Opportunity and her brother, Seneca, as soon as I moved down the road, after securing the horse. The Injins themselves kept a little aloof, having my uncle in their very centre; not as a prisoner, for it was clear no one suspected his character, but as a pedlar. The watches were out again, and near half of the whole gang seemed busy in trading, though I thought that some among them were anxious and distrustful.

It was a singular spectacle to see men who were raising the cry of "aristocracy" against those who happened to be richer than themselves, while they did not possess a single privilege or power that, substantially, was not equally shared by every other man in the country, thus openly arrayed in defiance of law, and thus violently trampling the law under their feet. What made the spectacle more painful was the certainty that was obtained by their very actions on the ground, that no small portion of these Injins were mere boys, led on by artful and knavish men, and who considered the whole thing as a joke. When the laws fall so much into disrepute as to be the subjects of jokes of this sort, it is time to inquire into their mode of administration. Does any one believe that fifty landlords could have thus flown into the face of a recent enactment, and committed felony openly, and under circumstances that had rendered their intentions no secret, for a time long enough to enable the authorities to collect a force sufficient to repress them? My own opinion is, that had Mr. Stephen Rensselaer, and Mr. William Rensselaer, and Mr. Harry Livingston, and Mr. John Hunter, and Mr. Daniel Livingston, and Mr. Hugh Littlepage, and fifty more that I could name, been caught armed and disguised, in order to defend the rights of property [Pg 229]that are solemnly guarantied in these institutions, of which it would seem to be the notion of some that it is the "spirit" to dispossess them, we should all of us have been the inmates of States' prisons, without legislators troubling themselves to pass laws for our liberation! This is another of the extraordinary features of American aristocracy, which almost deprives the noble of the every-day use and benefit of the law. It would be worth our while to lose a moment in inquiring into the process by which such strange results are brought about, but it is fortunately rendered unnecessary by the circumstance that the principle will be amply developed in the course of the narrative.

A stranger could hardly have felt the real character of this meeting by noting the air and manner of those who had come to attend it. The "armed and disguised" kept themselves in a body, it is true, and maintained, in a slight degree, the appearance of distinctness from "the people," but many of the latter stopped to speak to these men, and were apparently on good terms with them. Not a few of the gentler sex, even, appeared to have acquaintances in the gang; and it would have struck a political philosopher from the other hemisphere with some surprise, to have seen the "people" thus tolerating fellows who were openly trampling on a law that the "people" themselves had just enacted! A political philosopher from among ourselves, however, might have explained the seeming contradiction by referring it to the "spirit of the institutions." If one were to ask Hugh Littlepage to solve the difficulty, he would have been very apt to answer that the "people" of Ravensnest wanted to compel him to sell lands which he did not wish to sell, and that not a few of them were anxious to add to the compulsory bargains conditions as to price that would rob him of about one-half of his estate; and that what the Albany philosophers called the "spirit of the institutions," was, in fact, a "spirit of the devil," which the institutions were expressly designed to hold in subjection!

There was a good deal of out-door management going on, as might be seen by the private discussions that were held between pairs, under what is called the "horse-shedding" process. This "horse-shedding" process, I understand, is well known among us, and extends not only to politics, but to the administration of justice. Your regular "horse-[Pg 230]shedder" is employed to frequent taverns where jurors stay, and drops hints before them touching the merits of causes known to be on the calendars; possibly contrives to get into a room with six or eight beds, in which there may accidentally be a juror, or even two, in a bed, when he drops into a natural conversation on the merits of some matter at issue, praises one of the parties, while he drops dark hints to the prejudice of the other, and makes his own representations of the facts in a way to scatter the seed where he is morally certain it will take root and grow. All this time he is not conversing with a juror, not he; he is only assuming the office of the judge by anticipation, and dissecting evidence before it has been given, in the ear of a particular friend. It is true there is a law against doing anything of the sort; it is true there is law to punish the editor of a newspaper who shall publish anything to prejudice the interests of litigants; it is true the "horse-shedding process" is flagrantly wicked, and intended to destroy most of the benefits of the jury-system; but, notwithstanding all this, the "spirit of the institutions" carries everything before it, and men regard all these laws and provisions, as well as the eternal principles of right, precisely as if they had no existence at all, or as if a freeman were above the law. He makes the law, and why should he not break it? Here is another effect of the "spirit of the institutions."

At length the bell rang, and the crowd began to move towards the "meetin'-us." This building was not that which had been originally constructed, and at the raising of which, I have heard it said, my dear old grandmother, then a lovely and spirited girl of nineteen, had been conspicuous for her coolness and judgment, but a far more pretending successor. The old building had been constructed on the true model of the highest dissenting spirit—a spirit that induced its advocates to quarrel with good taste as well as religious dogmas, in order to make the chasm as wide as possible—while in this, some concessions had been made to the temper of the times. I very well remember the old "meetin'-us" at the "Little Nest," for it was pulled down to give place to its more pretending successor after I had attained my sixteenth year. A description of both may let the reader into the secret of [Pg 231]our rural church architecture.

The "old Neest meetin'-us," like its successor, was of a hemlock frame, covered with pine clap-boards, and painted white. Of late years, the paint had been of a most fleeting quality, the oil seeming to evaporate, instead of striking in and setting, leaving the colouring matter in a somewhat decomposed condition, to rub off by friction and wash away in the rains. The house was a stiff, formal parallelogram, resembling a man with high shoulders, appearing to be "stuck up." It had two rows of formal, short and ungraceful windows, that being a point in orthodoxy at the period of its erection. It had a tower, uncouth, and in some respects too large and others too small, if one can reconcile the contradiction; but there are anomalies of this sort in art, as well as in nature. On top of this tower stood a long-legged belfry, which had got a very dangerous, though a very common, propensity in ecclesiastical matters; in other words, it had begun to "cant." It was this diversion from the perpendicular which had suggested the necessity of erecting a new edifice, and the building in which the "lecture" on feudal tenures and aristocracy was now to be delivered.

The new meeting-house at Little Nest was a much more pretending edifice than its predecessor. It was also of wood, but a bold diverging from "first principles" had been ventured on, not only in physical, but in the moral church. The last was "new-school;" as, indeed, was the first. What "new-school" means, in a spiritual sense, I do not exactly know, but I suppose it to be some improvement on some other improvement of the more ancient and venerable dogmas of the sect to which it belongs. These improvements on improvements are rather common among us, and are favourably viewed by a great number under the name of progress; though he who stands at a little distance can, half the time, discover that the parties in progress very often come out at the precise spot from which they started.

For my part, I find so much wisdom in the bible—so profound a knowledge of human nature, and of its tendencies—counsel so comprehensive and so safe, and this solely in reference to the things of this life, that I do not believe everything is progress in the right direction because it sets us in [Pg 232]motion on paths that are not two thousand years old! I believe that we have quite as much that ought to be kept, as of that which ought to be thrown away; and while I admit the vast number of abuses that have grown up in the old world, under the "spirit of their institutions," as our philosophers would say, I can see a goodly number that are also growing up here, certainly not under the same "spirit," unless we refer them both, as a truly wise man would, to our common and miserable nature.

The main departure from first principles, in the sense of material things, was in the fact that the new meeting-house had only one row of windows, and that the windows of that row had the pointed arch. The time has been when this circumstance would have created a schism in the theological world; and I hope that my youth and inexperience will be pardoned, if I respectfully suggest that a pointed arch, or any other arch in wood, ought to create another in the world of taste.

But in we went, men, women and children; uncle Ro, Mr. Warren, Mary, Seneca, Opportunity, and all, the Injins excepted. For some reason connected with their policy, those savages remained outside, until the whole audience had assembled in grave silence. The orator was in, or on a sort of stage, which was made, under the new-light system in architecture, to supersede the old, inconvenient, and ugly pulpit, supported on each side by two divines, of what denomination I shall not take on myself to say. It will be sufficient if I add Mr. Warren was not one of them. He and Mary had taken their seats quite near the door, and under the gallery. I saw that the rector was uneasy the moment the lecturer and his two supporters entered the pulpit, and appeared on the stage; and at length he arose, and followed by Mary, he suddenly left the building. In an instant I was at their side, for it struck me indisposition was the cause of so strange a movement. Fortunately, at this moment, the whole audience rose in a body, and one of the ministers commenced an extempore prayer.

At that instant, the Injins had drawn themselves up around the building, close to its sides, and under the open windows, in a position that enabled them to hear all that passed. As I afterwards learned, this arrangement was [Pg 233]made with an understanding with those within, one of the ministers having positively refused to address the throne of Grace so long as any of the tribe were present. Well has it been said, that man often strains at a gnat, and swallows a camel!


"I tell thee, Jack Cade, the clothier means to dress the commonwealth and turn it, and put a new nap upon it."

King Henry VI.

As I knew Mary must have communicated to her father my real name, I did not hesitate, as I ought to have done in my actual dress and in my assumed character, about following them, in order to inquire if I could be of any service. I never saw distress more strongly painted in any man's countenance than it was in that of Mr. Warren, when I approached. So very obvious, indeed, was his emotion, that I did not venture to obtrude myself on him, but followed in silence; and he and Mary slowly walked, side by side, across the street to the stoop of a house, of which all the usual inmates had probably gone in the other direction. Here, Mr. Warren took a seat, Mary still at his side, while I drew near, standing before him.

"I thank you, Mr. Littlepage," the divine at length said, with a smile so painful it was almost haggard, "for, so Mary tells me you should be called—I thank you for this attention, sir—but, it will be over in another minute—I feel better now, and shall be able to command myself."

No more was then said, concerning the reason of this distress; but Mary has since explained to me its cause. When her father went into the meeting-house, he had not the smallest idea that anything like a religious service would be dragged into the ceremonies of such a day. The two ministers on the stage first gave him the alarm; when a most painful struggle occurred in his mind, whether or not he [Pg 234]should remain, and be a party to the mockery of addressing God in prayer, in an assembly collected to set at naught one of the plainest of his laws—nay, with banded felons drawn up around the building, as principal actors in the whole mummery. The alternative was for him, a minister, of the altar, to seem to quit those who were about to join in prayer, and to do this moreover under circumstances which might appear to others as if he rejected all worship but that which was in accordance with his own views of right, a notion that would be certain to spread far and near, greatly to the prejudice of his own people. But the first, as he viewed the matter, involved a species of blasphemy; and yielding to his feelings, he took the decided step he had, intending to remain out of the building, until the more regular business of the day commenced.

It is certain Mr. Warren, who acted under the best impulse of christian feeling, a reverence for God, and a profound wish not to be a party in offending him with the mockery of worship under such circumstances, has lost much influence, and made many enemies, by the step he then took. The very same feeling which has raised the cry of aristocracy against every gentleman who dwells in sufficiently near contact with the masses to distinguish his habits from those around him; which induces the eastern emigrant, who comes from a state of society where there are no landlords, to fancy those he finds here ought to be pulled down, because he is not a landlord himself; which enables the legislator to stand up in his place, and unblushingly talk about feudal usages, at the very instant he is demonstrating that equal rights are denied to those he would fain stigmatize as feudal lords, has extended to religion, and the church of which Mr. Warren was a minister, is very generally accused of being aristocratic, too! This charge is brought because it has claims which other churches affect to renounce and reject as forming no part of the faith; but the last cannot remain easy under their own decisions; and while they shout, and sing that they have found "a church without a bishop," they hate the church that has a bishop, because it has something they do not possess themselves, instead of pitying its deluded members, if they believe them wrong. This will not be admitted generally, but [Pg 235]it is nevertheless true; and betrays itself in a hundred ways. It is seen in the attempt to call their own priests bishops, in the feeling so manifest whenever a cry can be raised against their existence, and in the general character of these theological rallies, whenever they do occur.

For one, I see a close analogy between my own church, as it exists in this country, and comparing it with that from which it sprung, and to those which surround it, and the true political circumstances of the two hemispheres. In discarding a vast amount of surplusage, in reducing the orders of the ministry, in practice, as well as in theory, to their primitive number ... three and in rejecting all connection with the State, the American branch of the Episcopal Church has assumed the position it was desirous to fill; restoring, as near as may be, the simplicity of the apostolical ages, while it does not disregard the precepts and practices of the apostles themselves. It has not set itself above antiquity and authority, but merely endeavoured to sustain them, without the encumbrances of more modern abuses. Thus, too, has it been in political things. No attempt has been made to create new organic social distinctions in this country, but solely to disencumber those that are inseparable from the existence of all civilized society, of the clumsy machinery with which the expedients of military oppressors had invested them. The real sages of this country, in founding its institutions, no more thought of getting rid of the landlords of the country, than the Church thought of getting rid of its bishops. The first knew that the gradations of property were an inevitable incident of civilization; that it would not be wise, if it were possible, to prevent the affluent from making large investments in the soil; and that this could not be done in practice, without leaving the relation of landlord and tenant. Because landlords, in other parts of the world, possessed privileges that were not necessary to the natural or simple existence of the character, was no reason for destroying the character itself; any more than the fact that the bishops of England possess an authority the apostles knew nothing of, rendered it proper for the American branch of the church to do away with an office that came from the apostles. But, envy and jealousy do not pause to reflect on such things; it is enough for them, in the one [Pg 236]case that you and yours have estates, and occupy social positions, that I and mine do not, and cannot easily, occupy and possess; therefore I will oppose you, and join my voice to the cry of those who wish to get their farms for nothing; and in the other, that you have bishops when we can have none, without abandoning our present organization and doctrines.

I dwell on these points at some little length, because the movements of Mr. Warren and myself, at that moment, had a direct influence on the circumstances that will soon be related. It is probable that fully one-half of those collected in the Little Nest meeting-house, that morning, as they stood up, and lent a sort of one-sided and listless attention to the prayer, were thinking of the scandalous and aristocratical conduct of Mr. Warren, in "goin' out o' meetin' just as meetin' went to prayers!" Few, indeed, were they who would be likely to ascribe any charitable motive for the act; and probably not one of those present thought of the true and conscientious feeling that had induced it. So the world wags! It is certain that a malignant and bitter feeling was got up against the worthy rector on that occasion, and for that act, which has not yet abated, and which will not abate in many hundreds, until the near approach of death shall lay bare to them the true character of so many of their own feelings.

It was some minutes before Mr. Warren entirely regained his composure. At length he spoke to me, in his usual benevolent and mild way, saying a few words that were complimentary, on the subject of my return, while he expressed his fears that my uncle Ro and myself had been imprudent in thus placing ourselves, as it might be, in the lion's jaws.

"You have certainly made your disguises so complete," he added, smiling, "as to have escaped wonderfully well so far. That you should deceive Mary and myself is no great matter, since neither of us ever saw you before; but, the manner in which your nearest relatives have been misled, is surprising. Nevertheless, you have every inducement to be cautious, for hatred and jealousy have a penetration that does not belong even to love."

"We think we are safe, sir," I answered, "for we are [Pg 237]certainly within the statute. We are too well aware of our miserable aristocratical condition to place ourselves within the grasp of the law, for such are our eminent privileges as a landed nobility, that we are morally certain either of us would not only be sent to the state's prison were he to be guilty of the felony those Injins are committing, and will commit, with perfect impunity, but that he would be kept there, as long as a single tear of anguish could be wrung from one of those who are classed with the aristocracy. Democracy alone finds any sympathy in the ordinary administration of American justice."

"I am afraid that your irony has only too much truth in it. But the movement around the building would seem to say that the real business of the day is about to commence, and we had better return to the church."

"Those men in disguise are watching us, in a most unpleasant and alarming manner," said Mary Warren, delighting me far more by the vigilance she thus manifested in my behalf, than alarming me by the fact.

That we were watched, however, became obviously apparent, as we walked towards the building, by the actions of some of the Injins. They had left the side of the church where they had posted themselves during the prayer, and head was going to head, among those nearest to us; or, it would be nearer to appearances, were I to say bunch of calico was going to bunch of calico, for nothing in the form of a head was visible among them. Nothing was said to Mr. Warren and Mary, however, who were permitted to go into the meeting-house, unmolested; but two of these disguised gentry placed themselves before me, laying their rifles across my path, and completely intercepting my advance.

"Who you?" abruptly demanded one of the two;—"where go—where come from?"

The answer was ready, and I trust it was sufficiently steady.

"I coomes from Charmany, und I goes into der kerch, as dey say in mine coontry; what might be callet meetin'-us, here."

What might have followed, it is not easy to say, had not the loud, declamatory voice of the lecturer just then been [Pg 238]heard, as he commenced his address. This appeared to be a signal for the tribe to make some movement, for the two fellows who had stopped me, walked silently away, though bag of calico went to bag of calico, as they trotted off together, seemingly communicating to each other their suspicions. I took advantage of the opening, and passed into the church, where I worked my way through the throng, and got a seat at my uncle's side.

I have neither time, room, nor inclination to give anything like an analysis of the lecture. The speaker was fluent, inflated, and anything but logical. Not only did he contradict himself, but he contradicted the laws of nature. The intelligent reader will not require to be reminded of the general character of a speech that was addressed to the passions and interests of such an audience, rather than to their reason. He commented, at first, on the particular covenants of the leases on the old estates of the colony, alluding to the quarter-sales, chickens, days' work, and durable tenures, in the customary way. The reservation of the mines, too, was mentioned as a tyrannical covenant, precisely as if a landlord were obliged to convey any more of the rights that were vested in him, than he saw fit; or the tenant could justly claim more than he had hired! This man treated all these branches of the subject, as if the tenants had acquired certain mysterious interests by time and occupation, overlooking the fact that the one party got just as good a title as the other by this process; the lease being the instrument between them, that was getting to be venerable. If one party grew old as a tenant, so did the other as a landlord. I thought that this lecturer would have been glad to confine himself to the Manor leases, that being the particular branch of the subject he had been accustomed to treat; but, such was not the precise nature of the job he was now employed to execute. At Ravensnest, he could not flourish the feudal grievance of the quarter-sales, the "four fat fowls," the "days' works," and the length of the leases. Here it was clearly his cue to say nothing of the three first, and to complain of the shortness of the leases, as mine were about to fall in, in considerable numbers. Finding it was necessary to take new ground, he determined it should be bold ground, and such as would give him the least [Pg 239]trouble to get along with.

As soon as the lecturer had got through with his general heads, and felt the necessity of coming down to particulars, he opened upon the family of Littlepage, in a very declamatory way. What had they ever done for the country, he demanded, that they should be lords in the land? By some process known to himself, he had converted landlords into lords in the land, and was now aiming to make the tenants occupy the latter station—nay, both stations. Of course, some services of a public character, of which the Littlepages might boast, were not touched upon at all, everything of that nature being compressed into what the lecturer and his audience deemed serving the people, by helping to indulge them in all their desires, however rapacious or wicked. As everybody who knows anything of the actual state of matters among us, must be aware how rarely the "people" hear the truth, when their own power and interests are in question, it is not surprising that a very shallow reasoner was enabled to draw wool over the eyes of the audience of Ravensnest on that particular subject.

But my interest was most awakened when this man came to speak of myself. It is not often that a man enjoys the same opportunity as that I then possessed to hear his own character delineated, and his most private motives analyzed. In the first place, the audience were told that this "young Hugh Littlepage had never done anything for the land that he proudly, and like a great European noble, he calls his 'estate.' Most of you, fellow-citizens, can show your hard hands, and recall the burning suns under which you have opened the swarth, through those then lovely meadows yonder, as your titles to these farms. But, Hugh Littlepage never did a day's work in his life"—ten minutes before he had been complaining of the "days' work" in the Manor leases as indignities that a freeman ought not to submit to—"no, fellow-citizens, he never had that honour, and never will have it, until by a just division of his property, or what he now calls his property, you reduce him to the necessity of labouring to raise the crops he wants to consume."

"Where is this Hugh Littlepage at this very moment? In Paris, squandering your hard earnings in riotous living, according to the best standards of aristocracy. He lives in [Pg 240]the midst of abundance, dresses richly and fares richly, while you and yours are eating the sweat of your brows. He is no man for a pewter spoon and two-pronged fork! No, my countrymen! He must have a gold spoon for some of his dishes, and you will find it hard to believe—plain, unpretending, republican farmers as you are, but it is not the less true—he must have forks of silver! Fellow-citizens, Hugh Littlepage would not put his knife into his mouth, as you and I do, in eating—as all plain, unpretending republicans do—for the world. It would choke him; no, he keeps silver forks to touch his anointed lips!" Here there was an attempt to get up something like applause, but it totally failed. The men of Ravensnest had been accustomed all their lives to see the Littlepages in the social station they occupied; and, after all, it did not seem so very extraordinary that we should have silver forks, any more than that others should have silver spoons. The lecturer had the tact to see that he had failed on this point, and he turned to another.

The next onset was made against our title. Whence did it come? demanded the lecturer. From the king of England; and the people had conquered the country from that sovereign, and put themselves in his place. Now, is it not a good principle in politics, that to the victors belong the spoils? He believed it was; and that in conquering America, he was of opinion that the people of America had conquered the land, and that they had a right to take the land, and to keep it. Titles from kings he did not respect much; and he believed the American people, generally, did not think much of them. If Hugh Littlepage wished an "estate," as he called it, let him come to the people and "sarve them," and see what sort of an estate they would give him.

But there was one portion of his speech which was so remarkable, that I must attempt to give it, as it was uttered. It was while the lecturer was expatiating on this subject of titles, that he broke out in the following language:—"Don't talk to me," he bellowed—for by this time his voice had risen to the pitch of a methodist's, in a camp-meeting—"Don't talk to me of antiquity, and time, and length of possession, as things to be respected. They're nawthin—jest [Pg 241]nawthin' at all. Possession's good in law, I'll admit; and I contind that's jest what the tenants has. They've got the lawful possession of this very property, that layeth (not eggs, but) up and down, far and near, and all around; a rich and goodly heritage, when divided up among hard-working and honest folks; but too much, by tens of thousands of acres, for a young chap, who is wasting his substance in foreign lands, to hold. I contind that the tenants has this very, precise, lawful possession, at this blessed moment, only the law won't let 'em enj'y it. It's all owing to that accursed law, that the tenant can't set up a title ag'in his landlord. You see by this one fact, fellow-citizens, that they are a privileged class, and ought to be brought down to the level of gin'ral humanity. You can set up title ag'in anybody else, but you shan't set up title ag'in a landlord. I know what is said in the primisis," shaking his head, in derision of any arguments on the other side of this particular point; "I know that circumstances alter cases. I can see the hardship of one neighbour's coming to another, and asking to borrow or hire his horse for a day, and then pretendin' to hold him on some other ketch. But horses isn't land; you must all allow that. No, if horses was land, the case would be altered. Land is an element, and so is fire, and so is water, and so is air. Now, who will say that a freeman hasn't a right to air, hasn't a right to water, and, on the same process, hasn't a right to land? He has, fellow-citizens—he has. These are what are called in philosophy elementary rights; which is the same thing as a right to the elements, of which land is one, and a principal one. I say a principal one; for, if there was no land to stand on, we should drop away from air, and couldn't enj'y that; we should lose all our water in vapour, and couldn't put it to millin' and manafacterin' purposes; and where could we build our fires? No; land is the first elementary right, and connected with it comes the first and most sacred right to the elements.

"I do not altogether disregard antiquity, neither. No; I respect and revere pre-emption rights; for they fortify and sustain the right to the elements. Now, I do not condemn squattin', as some doos. It's actin' accordin' to natur', and natur' is right. I respect and venerate a squatter's possession; [Pg 242]for it's held under the sacred principle of usefulness. It says, 'go and make the wilderness blossom as the rose,' and means 'progress.' That's an antiquity I respect. I respect the antiquity of your possessions here, as tenants; for it is a hard-working and useful antiquity—an antiquity that increases and multiplies. If it be said that Hugh Littlepage's ancestors—your noble has his 'ancestors,' while us 'common folks' are satisfied with forefathers"—[this hit took with a great many present, raising a very general laugh]—"but if this Hugh's ancestors did pay anything for the land, if I was you, fellow-citizens, I'd be gin'rous, and let him have it back ag'in. Perhaps his forefathers gave a cent an acre to the king—may be, two; or say sixpence, if you will. I'd let him have his sixpence an acre back again, by way of shutting his mouth. No; I'm for nawthin' that's ungin'rous."

"Fellow-citizens, I profess to be what is called a Democrat. I know that many of you be what is called Whigs—but I apprehend there is'nt much difference between us on the subject of this system of leasing land. We are all republicans, and leasing farms is anti-republican. Then, I wish to be liberal even to them I commonly oppose at elections, and I will freely admit, then, on the whull, the Whigs have rather out-done us Democrats, on the subject of this anti-rentism. I am sorry to be obliged to own in it, but it must be confessed that, while in the way of governors, there hasn't been much difference—yes, put 'em in a bag, and shake 'em up, and you'd hardly know which would come out first—which has done himself the most immortal honour, which has shown himself the most comprehensive, profound and safe statesman; I know that some of our people complain of the governors for ordering out troops ag'in the Injins, but they could not help that—they wouldn't have done it, in my judgment, had there been any way of getting round it; but the law was too strong for them, so they druv' in the Injins, and now they join us in putting down aristocracy, and in raising up gin'ral humanity. No; I don't go ag'in the governors, though many doos."

"But I profess to be a Democrat, and I'll give an outline of my principles, that all may see why they can't, and don't, and never will agree with aristocracy or nobility, in any form or shape. I believe one man is as good as an[Pg 243]other in all things. Neither birth, nor law, nor edication, nor riches, nor poverty, nor anything else can ever make any difference in this principle, which is sacred, and fundamental, and is the chief stone of the corner in true Democracy. One man is as good as another, I say, and has just the same right to the enj'yment of 'arth and its privileges, as any other man. I think the majority ought to rule in all things, and that it is the duty of the minority to submit. Now, I've had this here sentiment thrown back upon me, in some places where I have spoken, and been asked 'how is this—the majority must rule, and the minority must submit—in that case, the minority is'nt as good as the majority in practice, and hasn't the same right. They are made to own what they think ought not to be done?' The answer to this is so plain, I wonder a sensible man can ask the question, for all the minority has to do, is to join the majority, to have things as they want 'em. The road is free, and it is this open road that makes true liberty. Any man can fall in with the majority, and sensible folks commonly do, when they can find it, and that makes a person not only a man, as the saying is, but a freeman, a still more honourable title."

"Fellow-citizens, a great movement is in progress, "Go ahead!" is the cry, and the march is onward; our thoughts already fly about on the wings of the lightning, and our bodies move but little slower, on the vapour of steam—soon our principles will rush ahead of all, and let in the radiance of a glorious day of universal reform, and loveliness, and virtue and charity, when the odious sound of rent will never be heard, when every man will set down under his own apple, or cherry tree, if not under his own fig tree.

"I am a Democrat,—yes, a Democrat. Glorious appellation! I delight in it! It is my pride, my boast, my very virtue. Let but the people truly rule, and all must come well. The people has no temptation to do wrong. If they hurt the state, they hurt themselves, for they are the state. Is a man likely to hurt himself? Equality is my axiom. Nor, by equality, do I mean your narrow pitiful equality before the law, as it is sometimes tarmed, for that may be no equality at all; but, I mean an equality that is substantial, [Pg 244]and which must be restored, when the working of the law has deranged it. Fellow-citizens, do you know what leap-year means? I dare say some of you don't, the ladies in partic'lar not giving much attention to astronomy. Well, I have inquired, and it is this:—The 'arth revolves around the sun in a year, as we all know. And we count three hundred and sixty-five days in a year, we all know. But, the 'arth is a few hours longer than three hundred and sixty-five days, in making its circuit—nearly six hours longer. Now, everybody knows that 4 times 6 makes 24, and so a twenty-ninth day is put into February, every fourth year, to restore the lost time; another change being to be made a long distance ahead to settle the fractions. Thus will it be with Democracy. Human natur' can't devise laws yet, that will keep all things on an exactly equal footing, and political leap-years must be introduced into the political calendar, to restore the equilibrium. In astronomy, we must divide up anew the hours and minutes; in humanity, we must, from time to time, divide up the land."

But, I cannot follow this inflated fool any longer; for he was quite as much of fool as of knave, though partaking largely of the latter character. It was plain that he carried many of his notions much farther than a good portion of his audience carried theirs; though, whenever he touched upon anti-rentism, he hit a chord that vibrated through the whole assembly. That the tenants ought to own their farms, and pay no more rents, and pocket all the benefits of their own previous labours, though these labours had been considered in the earlier rents, and were, indeed, still considered, in the low rates at which the lands were let, was a doctrine all could understand; and few were they, I am sorry to say, who did not betray how much self-love and self-interest had obscured the sense of right.

The lecture, such as it was, lasted more than two hours; and when it was done, an individual rose, in the character of a chairman—when did three Americans ever get together to discuss anything, that they had not a chairman and secretary, and all the parliamentary forms?—and invited any one present, who might entertain views different from the speaker, to give his opinion. Never before did I feel so [Pg 245]tempted to speak in public. My first impulse was to throw away the wig, and come out in my own person, and expose the shallow trash that had just been uttered. I believe even I, unaccustomed as I was to public speaking, could easily have done this, and I whispered as much to my uncle, who was actually on his feet, to perform the office for me, when the sound of "Mr. Chairman," from a different part of the church, anticipated him. Looking round, I recognised at once the face of the intelligent mechanic, named Hall, whom we had met at Mooseridge, on our way to the Nest. I took my seat, at once, perfectly satisfied that the subject was in good hands.

This speaker commenced with great moderation, both of manner and tone, and, indeed, he preserved them throughout. His utterance, accent and language, of course, were all tinctured by his habits and associations; but his good sense and his good principles were equally gifts from above. More of the "true image of his maker" was to be found in that one individual than existed in fifty common men. He saw clearly, spoke clearly, and demonstrated effectively. As he was well known in that vicinity and generally respected, he was listened to with profound attention, and spoke like a man who stood in no dread of tar and feathers. Had the same sentiments been delivered by one in a fine coat, and a stranger, or even by myself, who had so much at stake, very many of them would have been incontinently set down as aristocratic, and not to be tolerated, the most sublimated lover of equality occasionally falling into these little contradictions.

Hall commenced by reminding the audience that they all knew him, and knew he was no landlord. He was a mechanic, and a labouring man, like most of themselves, and had no interest that could be separate from the general good of society. This opening was a little homage to prejudice, since reason is reason, and right right, let them come whence they will. "I, too, am a democrat," he went on to say, "but I do not understand democracy to mean anything like that which has been described by the last speaker. I tell that gentleman plainly, that if he is a democrat, I am none; and if I am a democrat, he is none. By democracy I understand a government in which the sovereign power resides [Pg 246]in the body of the nation; and not in a few, or in one. But this principle no more gives the body of the people authority to act wrong, than in a monarchy, in which the sovereign power resides in one man, that one man has a right to act wrong. By equality, I do not understand anything more than equality before the law—now, if the law had said that when the late Malbone Littlepage died, his farms should go not to his next of kin, or to his devisee, but to his neighbours, then that would have been the law to be obeyed, although it would be a law destructive of civilization, since men would never accumulate property to go to the public. Something nearer home is necessary to make men work, and deny themselves what they like.

"The gentleman has told us of a sort of political leap-year that is to regulate the social calender. I understand him to mean that when property has got to be unequal, it must be divided up, in order that men may make a new start. I fear he will have to dispense with leap years, and come to leap months, or leap weeks, ay, or even to leap days; for, was the property of this township divided up this very morning, and in this meetin'-us, it would get to be unequal before night. Some folks can't keep money when they have it; and others can't keep their hands off it.

"Then, again, if Hugh Littlepage's property is to be divided, the property of all of Hugh Littlepage's neighbours ought to be divided too, to make even an appearance of equality; though it would be but an appearance of equality, admitting that were done, since Hugh Littlepage has more than all the rest of the town put together. Yes, fellow-citizens, Hugh Littlepage pays, at this moment, one-twentieth of the taxes of this whole county. That is about the proportion of Ravensnest; and that tax, in reality, comes out of his pockets, as much the greater part of the taxes of Rensselaer and Albany counties, if you will except the cities they contain, are paid by the Rensselaers. It won't do to tell me the tenants pay the taxes, for I know better. We all know that the probable amount of the taxes is estimated in the original bargain, and is so much deducted from the rent, and comes out of the landlord if it come out of anybody. There is a good reason why the tenant should pay it, and a reason that is altogether in his interest; because [Pg 247]the law would make his oxen, and horses, and carts liable for the taxes, should the landlord neglect to pay the taxes. The collector always sells personals for a tax if he can find them on the property; and by deducting it from the rent, and paying it himself, the tenant makes himself secure against that loss. To say that a tenant don't take any account of the taxes he will be likely to pay, in making his bargain, is as if one should say he is non com. and not fit to be trusted with his own affairs. There are men, in this community, I am sorry to say, who wish a law passed to tax the rents on durable leases, or on all leases, in order to choke the landlords off from their claims, but such men are true friends to neither justice nor their country. Such a law would be a tax on the incomes of a particular class of society, and on no other. It is a law that would justify the aggrieved parties in taking up arms to resist it, unless the law would give 'em relief, as I rather think it would. By removing into another State, however, they would escape the tax completely, laugh at those who framed it, who would incur the odium of doing an impotent wrong, and get laughed at as well as despised, besides injuring the State by drawing away its money to be spent out of its limits. Think, for one moment, of the impression that would be made of New York justice, if a hundred citizens of note and standing were to be found living in Philadelphia or Paris, and circulating to the world the report that they were exiles to escape a special taxation! The more the matter was inquired into, the worse it must appear; for men may say what they please, to be ready ag'in election time, as there is but one piece, or parcel of property to tax, it is an income tax, and nothing else. What makes the matter still worse is, that every man of sense will know that it is taxing the same person twice, substantially for the same thing, since the landlord has the direct land tax deducted from the rent in the original bargain.

"As for all this cry about aristocracy, I don't understand it. Hugh Littlepage has just as good a right to his ways as I have to mine. The gentleman says he needs gold spoons and silver forks to eat with. Well, what of that? I dare say the gentleman himself finds a steel knife and fork useful, [Pg 248]and has no objection to a silver, or, at least, to a pewter spoon. Now, there are folks that use wooden forks, or no forks, and who are glad to get horn spoons; and they might call that gentleman himself an aristocrat. This setting of ourselves up as the standard in all things is anything but liberty. If I don't like to eat my dinner with a man who uses a silver fork, no man in this country can compel me. On the other hand, if young Mr. Littlepage don't like a companion who chews tobacco, as I do, he ought to be left to follow his own inclination.

"Then, this doctrine that one man's as good as another has got two sides to it. One man ought to have the same general rights as another, I am ready to allow; but if one man is as good as another, why do we have the trouble and cost of elections? We might draw lots, as we do for jurors, and save a good deal of time and money. We all know there is ch'ice in men, and I think that so long as the people have their ch'ice in sayin' who shall and who shall not be their agents, they've got all they have any right to. So long as this is done, the rest of the world may be left to follow their own ways, provided they obey the laws.

"Then, I am no great admirer of them that are always telling the people they're parfect. I know this county pretty well, as well as most in it; and if there be a parfect man in Washington county, I have not yet fallen in with him. Ten millions of imparfect men won't make one parfect man, and so I don't look for perfection in the people any more than I do in princes. All I look for in democracy is to keep the reins in so many hands as to prevent a few from turning everything to their own account; still, we mustn't forget that, when a great many do go wrong, it is much worse than when a few go wrong.

"If my son didn't inherit the property of Malbone Littlepage, neither will Malbone Littlepage's son inherit mine. We are on a footing in that respect. As to paying rent, which some persons think so hard, what would they do if they had no house to live in, or farm to work? If folks wish to purchase houses and farms, no one can prevent them if they have money to do it with; and if they have not, is it expected other people are to provide them with such things [Pg 249]out of their own——"

Here the speaker was interrupted by a sudden whooping, and the Injins came pressing into the house in a way to drive in all the aisles before them. Men, women and children leaped from the windows, the distance being trifling, while others made their escape by the two side-doors, the Injins coming in only by the main entrance. In less time than it takes to record the fact, the audience had nearly all dispersed.



[1] Mr. Hugh Littlepage writes a little sharply, but there is truth in all he says, at the bottom. His tone is probably produced by the fact that there is so serious an attempt to deprive him of his old paternal estate, an attempt which is receiving support in high quarters. In addition to this provocation, the Littlepages, as the manuscript shows farther on, are traduced, as one means of effecting the objects of the anti-renters; no man, in any community in which it is necessary to work on public sentiment in order to accomplish such a purpose, ever being wronged without being calumniated. As respects the inns, truth compels me, as an old traveller, to say that Mr. Littlepage has much reason for what he says. I have met with a better bed in the lowest French tavern I ever was compelled to use, and in one instance I slept in an inn frequented by carters, than in the best purely country inn in America. In the way of neatness, however, more is usually to be found in our New York village taverns than in the public hotels of Paris itself. As for the hit touching the intelligence of the people, it is merited; for I have myself heard subtle distinctions drawn to show that the "people" of a former generation were not as knowing as the "people" of this, and imputing the covenants of the older leases to that circumstance, instead of imputing them to their true cause, the opinions and practices of the times. Half a century's experience would induce me to say that the "people" were never particularly dull in making a bargain.—Editor.

[2] The editor has often had occasion to explain the meaning of terms of this nature. The colonists caught a great many words from the Indians they first knew, and used them to all other Indians, though not belonging to their languages; and these other tribes using them as English, a sort of limited lingua frança has grown up in the country that everybody understands. It is believed that "moccasin," "squaw," "pappoose," "sago," "tomahawk," "wigwam," &c. &c. all belong to this class of words. There can be little doubt that the sobriquet of "Yankees" is derived from "Yengeese," the manner in which the tribes nearest to New England pronounced the word "English." It is to this hour a provincialism of that part of the country to pronounce this word "Eng-lish" instead of "Ing-lish," its conventional sound. The change from "Eng-lish" to "Yen-geese" is very trifling.—Editor.

[3] As the "honourable gentleman from Albany" does not seem to understand the precise signification of "provincial," I can tell him that one sign of such a character is to admire a bed at an American country inn.—Editor.

[4] That Mr. Hugh Littlepage does not feel or express himself too strongly on the state of things that has now existed among us for long, long years, the following case, but one that illustrates the melancholy truth among many, will show. At a time when the tenants of an extensive landlord, to whom tens of thousands were owing for rent, were openly resisting the law, and defeating every attempt to distrain, though two ordinary companies of even armed constables would have put them down, the sheriff entered the house of that very landlord, and levied on his furniture for debt. Had that gentleman, on the just and pervading principle that he owed no allegiance to an authority that did not protect him, resisted the sheriff's officer, he would have gone to the State's prison; and there he might have staid until his last hour of service was expended.—Editor.

[5] Absurd as this may seem, it is nevertheless true, and for a reason that is creditable, rather than the reverse—a wish to help along the unfortunate. It is a great mistake, however, as a rule, to admit of any other motive for selecting for public trusts, than qualification.—Editor.

[6] This is no invented statement, but strictly one that is true, the writer having himself a small interest in a property so situated; though he has not yet bethought him of applying to the Legislature for relief.—Editor.

Transcriber's Notes

Misprints and punctuation errors corrected. Hover over underlined word in the text to see the corrections made.