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"What a difference there is between the children of farmers and gentlemen!" whispered Mrs. Merton to her husband, looking rather contemptuously upon Harry.
"I am not sure," said Mr. Merton, "that for this time the advantage is on the side of our son but should not you like to be rich, my dear?" said he, turning to Harry.
"No, simpleton?" said Mrs. Merton; "and why not?"
"Because the only rich man I ever saw is Squire Chase, who lives hard by; and he rides among people's corn, and breaks down their hedges, and shoots their poultry, and kills their dogs, and lames their cattle, and abuses the poor; and they say he does all this because he's rich; but everybody hates him, though they dare not tell him so to his face: and I would not be hated for anything in the world.”
"But should you not like to have a fine laced coat, and a coach to carry you about, and servants to wait upon you?"
"As to that, madam, one coat is as good as another, if it will but keep one warm; and I don't want to ride, because I can walk wherever I choose; and, as to servants, I should have nothing for them to do, if I had a hundred of them."
Mrs. Merton continued to look at him with a sort of contemptuous astonishment, but did not ask him any more questions.
In the evening little Harry was sent home to his father; who asked him what he had seen at the great house, and how he liked being there?
Why,” replied Harry, "they were all very kind to me, for which I'm much obliged to them; but I had rather have been at home, for I never was so troubled in all my life to get a dinner. There was one man to take away my plate, and another to give me drink, and another to stand behind my chair, just as though I had been lame or blind, and could not have waited upon myself; and then there was so much to do with putting this thing on, and taking another off, I thought it would never have been over: and, after dinner, I was obliged to sit two whole hours without ever stirring, while the lady was talking to me, not as Mr. Barlow does, but wanting me to love fine clothes, and to be a king, and to be rich, that I might be hated like Squire Chase."
At the mansion house, in the meantime, much of the conversation was employed in discussing the merits of little Harry.
Mrs. Merton acknowledged his bravery and openness of temper; she was also struck with the general good-nature and benevolence of his character; but she contended that he had a certain grossness and indelicacy in his ideas, which distinguish the children of the lower and middling classes of people from those of persons of fashion. Mr. Merton, on the contrary, maintained, that he had never before seen a child whose sentiments and disposition would do so much honor even to the most elevated stations. Nothing, he affirmed, was more easily acquired than those external manners and that superficial address, upon which too many of the higher classes pride themselves as their greatest or even as their only accomplishment: "nay, so easily are they picked up," said he, "that we often see them descend with the cast clothes to maids and valets; between whom and their masters and mistresses there is frequently little other difference than what results from the former wearing soiled clothes and healthier countenances. Indeed, the real seat of all superiority, even of manners, must be placed in the mind: dignified sentiments, superior courage, accompanied with genuine and universal courtesy, are always necessary to constitute the real gentleman; and, where these are wanting, it is the utmost absurdity to think they can be supplied by affected tones of voice, particular grimaces, or extravagant and unnatural modes of dress; which, far from being the real test of gentility, have in general no other origin than the caprice of barbers, tailors, actors, operadancers, milliners, fiddlers, and French servants of both sexes. I cannot help, therefore, asserting," said he very seriously, "that this little peasant has within his mind the seeds of true gentility and dignity of character; and, though I shall also wish our son to possess all the common accomplishments of his rank, nothing would give me more pleasure than a certainty that he would never in any respect fall below the son of farmer Sandford."
Whether Mrs. Merton fully acceded to these observations of her husband, I cannot decide; but without waiting to hear her particular sentiments, he thus went on:
"Should I appear more warm than usual on this subject, you must pardon me, my dear, and attribute it to the interest I feel in the welfare of our little Tommy. I am too sensible that our mutual fondness has hitherto induced us to treat him with too much indulgence. While we have been over-solicitous
to remove from him every painful and disagreeable impression, we have made him too delicate and fretful: our desire of constantly consulting his inclinations has made us gratify even his caprices and humors; and, while we have been too studious to preserve him from restraint and opposition, we have in reality been ourselves the cause that he has not acquired even the common attainments of his age and station. All this I have long observed in silence, but have hitherto concealed, both from my affection for our child and my fear of hurting you: at length a consideration of his real interests has prevailed over every other motive, and has compelled me to embrace a resolution, which I hope will not be disagreeable to you that of sending him directly to Mr. Barlow, provided he will take care of him; and I think this accidental acquaintance with young Sandford may prove the luckiest thing in the world, as he is so nearly of the age and size of our Tommy. I will therefore propose to the farmer that I will for some years pay for the board and education of his little boy, that he may be a constant companion to our son."
As Mr. Merton said this with a certain degree of firmness, and the proposal was in itself so reasonable and necessary, Mrs. Merton did not make any objection to it, but consented, although reluctantly, to part with her son. Mr. Barlow was accordingly invited to dinner the next Sunday, and Mr. Merton took an opportunity of introducing the subject, and making the proposal to him; assuring him, at the same time, that, though there was no return within the bounds of his fortune which he would not willingly make, yet the education and improvement of his son were objects of so much importance to him, that he should always consider himself as the obliged party.
"Pardon me," replied Mr. Barlow, "if I interrupt you. I will readily take your son for some months under my care, and endeavor by every means within my power to improve him. But there is one circumstance which is indispensable - that you permit me to have the pleasure of serving you as a friend. If you approve of my ideas and conduct, I will keep him as long as you desire. In the meantime, as there are, I fear, some little circumstances, which have grown up by too much tenderness and indulgence, to be altered in his character, I think that I shall possess more of the necessary influence and authority if I for the present appear to him and your whole family rather in the light of a friend than that of a schoolmaster."
Howsoever unsatisfactory this proposal was to the generosity of Mr. Merton, he was obliged to consent to it; and little Tommy was accordingly sent the next day to the vicarage, at the distance of about two miles from his father's house.
The day after Tommy came to Mr. Barlow's, that gentleman, as soon as breakfast was over, led him and Harry into the garden when there, he took a spade into his own hand, and giving Harry a hoe, they both began to work with great
"Everybody that eats," said Mr. Barlow, "ought to assist in procuring food; and therefore little Harry and I begin our daily work this is my bed, and that other is his; we work upon it every day, and he that raises the most out of it will deserve to fare the best. Now, Tommy, if you choose to join us, I will mark you out a piece of ground, which you shall have to yourself, and all the produce shall be your own."
"No, indeed," said Tommy very sulkily, "I am a gentleman, and don't choose to slave like a plowboy."
"Just as you please, Mr. Gentleman," said Mr. Barlow; “but Harry and I, who are not above being useful, will mind our work."
In about two hours Mr. Barlow said it was time to leave off; and, taking Harry by the hand, he led him into a pleasant summer-house, where they sat down; and Mr. Barlow, taking out a plate of fine ripe cherries, divided them between Harry and himself.
Tommy, who had followed, and expected his share, when he saw them both eating without taking any notice of him, could no longer restrain his passion, but burst into a violent fit of sobbing and crying.
"What is the matter?" said Mr. Barlow, very coolly, to him. Tommy looked upon him very sulkily, but returned no
"Oh, sir, if you don't choose to give me an answer, you may be silent; nobody is obliged to speak here."
Tommy became still more disconcerted at this, and, being unable to conceal his anger, ran out of the summer-house, and wandered very disconsolately about the garden; equally surprised and vexed to find that he was now in a place where nobody felt any concern whether he were pleased or the contrary.
THE CALIPH VATHEK.
BY WILLIAM BECKFORD.
[WILLIAM BECKFORD, eccentric millionaire and dilettante, was born at Fonthill, Wiltshire, in 1760. His father, who was twice lord mayor of London, left him an annual revenue of over £100,000. After a grand tour of the Continent he entered Parliament; and in 1787 published, in French, "The History of Vathek," an Oriental romance, of which Byron said, "Even Rasselas' must bow before it; the Happy Valley will not bear a comparison with the Hall of Eblis." A bad, unauthorized English translation had been published in 1784, and has superseded the original. Beckford erected a vast mansion at Fonthill and a palatial residence at Bath, the former being sold in 1822 for £330,000. He was a collector and critic of great talent, but capricious, restless, and purposeless. He wrote also: "Memoirs of Extraordinary Painters," "Italy, with Sketches of Portugal and Spain,' Recollections," etc. He died May 2, 1844.]
VATHEK, ninth Caliph of the race of the Abbassides, was the son of Motassem, and the grandson of Haroun Al Raschid. From an early accession to the throne, and the talents he possessed to adorn it, his subjects were induced to expect that his reign would be long and happy. His figure was pleasing and majestic; but when he was angry one of his eyes became so terrible that no person could bear to behold it, and the wretch upon whom it was fixed instantly fell backward, and sometimes expired. For fear, however, of depopulating his dominions and making his palace desolate, he but rarely gave way to his anger.
He surpassed in magnificence all his predecessors. The palace of Alkoremmi, which his father Motassem had erected on the hill of Pied Horses, and which commanded the whole city of Samarah, was in his idea far too scanty; he added therefore five wings, or rather other palaces, which he destined for the particular gratification of each of his senses.
In the first of these were tables continually covered with the most exquisite dainties, which were supplied both by night and by day according to their constant consumption, whilst the most delicious wines and the choicest cordials flowed forth from a hundred fountains that were never exhausted. This palace was called "The Eternal or Unsatiating Banquet.'
The second was styled "The Temple of Melody, or the Nectar of the Soul." It was inhabited by the most skillful musicians and admired poets of the time, who not only displayed their talents within, but dispersing in bands without, caused every surrounding scene to reverberate their songs, which were continually varied in the most delightful succession.