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The Bobbin Boy - or, How Nat Got His learning
by William M. Thayer
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"Be quick, sir. You shall have a chance now to exhibit your spelling acquisitions."

Samuel dared not refuse longer, so he began,

"A-l-al-f-e-fe-u-s-us."

"Pronounce it, sir."

"Alfeus."

The scholars laughed heartily, and the teacher joined them, and for three minutes the school-room fairly rung with shouts.

"Now spell Coombs," said the teacher.

"K-double o-m-s, kooms."

Again there was a roar of laughter in the room, which the teacher did not wish to suppress.

"Spell knife now; you are so brilliant that the scholars would like to hear more."

"N-i-f-e."

The scholars laughed again in good earnest, and the teacher added, "That is not the way to spell a very sharp knife."

"Spell bargain."

"B-a-r-bar-g-i-n-gin, bargin."

"Such a kind of a bargain, I suppose, as a poor scholar makes, when he wastes time enough in one winter to make him a good speller," continued the teacher. When the laughter had ceased, he put out another word.

"Spell spectacles."

"S-p-e-t-spet-i-speti-c-l-e-s-cles, speticles."

Some of the scholars really shouted at this new style of orthography.

"I suppose that is the kind of glasses that 'old speticles' wears," said the teacher. "You do not appear to entertain a very good opinion of him. You may spell respectable."

"I shan't spell any more," answered Samuel in an insolent manner.

"Shan't spell any more! I command you to spell respectable."

"I shan't spell it," replied Samuel more defiantly.

In another instant the teacher seized him by the collar, and with one desperate effort sent him half across the school-room. He hit the chair in his progress and knocked it over, and the teacher hit his own foot against the corner of the platform on which the desk was raised, and stumbled, though he did not fall. From this, the report went abroad that there was a sort of melee in school, and the teacher was flung upon the floor in the scuffle. By the time Samuel found himself on his back, the teacher stood over him with what the young rebel called a cugel (cudgel) in his letter, saying,

"Get upon your feet and spell respectable loud enough for every scholar to hear."

The boy saw it was no use to contend with such strength and determination, and he instantly obeyed, under great mortification.

"R-e-re-s-p-e-c-spec-respec-t-e-r-ter-respecter-b-l-e-ble, respecterble."

The matter had assumed so serious an aspect by this time that the scholars were quite sober, otherwise they would have laughed at this original way of spelling respectable.

"Hold out your hand now," said the teacher, and at once the hand was held out, and was severely ferruled.

"Now you can take your seat, and await the decision of the committee. I shall hand them your letter to-night, and they will decide whether to expel you from school or not."

Samuel went to his seat pretty thoroughly humbled, and the teacher embraced the opportunity to give the scholars some good advice. He was a good teacher, amiable, affectionate, and laborious, but firm and resolute. He was too strict to please such indolent boys as Samuel, who often tried him by his idleness and stupidity. His object in making him spell as he did was to mortify him by an exposure of his ignorance. His father had given him good opportunities to learn, but he had not improved them, so that he could spell scarcely better than scholars eight years old. Had he been a backward boy, who could make little progress, even with hard study, the teacher would not have subjected him to such mortification; but he was indolent, and his ignorance was solely the fruit of idleness. On the whole, it was about as good a lesson as he ever had, and was likely to be remembered a good while. The district generally sustained the teacher in his prompt efforts to subdue the vicious boy.

The committee considered the case on that evening, and decided that Samuel should be expelled from school. They were influenced to decide thus, in part, by his many instances of previous misconduct. He was habitually a troublesome scholar, and they concluded that the time had come to make an example of him. Their decision was communicated to him by the teacher on the following day, and he was accordingly expelled. When he went out, with his books under his arm, he turned round and made a very low bow, which, though he intended it as an indignity, really savored more of good manners than he was wont to show.

In the sequel, the reader will understand why this incident is narrated here, and, by the contrast with Nat's habits and course of life, will learn that the "boy is father of the man" that "idleness is the mother of vice," and that "industry is fortune's right hand, frugality her left."



CHAPTER XIV.

TAKING SIDES.

"I have been reading the Federalist," said Charlie one evening, as he entered Nat's study, "and I am a pretty good Federalist." He looked very pleasant as he spoke, and Nat replied in a similar tone and spirit, without the least hesitation,

"I have been reading the life and writings of Jefferson, and I am a thorough Democrat."

"A Democrat!" exclaimed Charlie, with a hearty laugh at the same time. "Do you know what a Democrat is?"

"Perhaps I don't; but if anybody is not satisfied with such principles as Jefferson advocated, he is not easily suited."

"But Jefferson was not a Democrat. The Federalist calls him a Republican."

"I know that," replied Nat. "The Jefferson party were called Republicans in their day; but they are called Democrats now. I don't like the name so well, but still the name is nothing in reality,—the principles are what we should look at."

"You don't like company very well, I should judge," said Charlie; "I should want to belong to a party that could say we."

"What do you mean by that?" inquired Nat.

"Father said there wasn't but four democratic votes cast in town at the last election; that is what I mean. I should think you would be lonesome in such a party."

"If I had been old enough," continued Nat, "there would have been five votes cast. I don't care whether the party is great or small, if it is only right."

"I glory in your independence," replied Charlie, "but I am sorry you have so poor a cause to advocate."

"I guess you don't know what the cause is, after all. Have you read the life of Jefferson?"

"About as much as you have read the Federalist," replied Charlie. "We are probably about even on that score."

This interview occurred some time after Nat and Charlie entered the factory, perhaps a year and a half or two years. Charlie really thought he was in advance of his fellow-student on this subject. He did not know that Nat had been reading at all upon political topics. Being himself the greatest reader of the two, he knew that he read upon some subjects to which Nat had given no attention. He was very much surprised to hear him announce himself a Democrat, and particularly for the reason named. It was about thirty years ago, when the followers of Jefferson were first called Democrats. Many of them were unwilling to be called thus, and for this reason they were slow to adopt the title. It was a fact that only four persons cast votes in Nat's native town, at the aforesaid election as avowed Democrats. But the incident shows that the hero of our tale was an independent thinker, voluntarily investigating some subjects really beyond his years, with sufficient discrimination to weigh important principles. In other words, he was a student, though a bobbin boy, loving knowledge more than play, and determined to make the most of his very limited opportunities. It is an additional proof of what we have said before, that he studied just as he skated or swam under water,—with all his soul,—the only way to be eminently successful in the smallest or greatest work.

"Let us see," said Nat, taking up the life of Jefferson, "perhaps you will be a Democrat too, when you know what Jefferson taught. He wrote the Declaration of Independence."

"He did!" exclaimed Charlie, with some surprise. "That is good writing certainly. It was read at the last Fourth of July celebration."

"And we will read some of it again," said Nat, opening the volume, "and then you may bring your objections."

"'We hold these truths to be self-evident,—that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.'"

"Have you any objections to that?" inquired Nat, after it was read.

"No," answered Charlie, "and I have never heard of any one who has. It is pretty good doctrine for such poor fellows as we are certainly."

"You are a Democrat so far, then," said Nat; "you want to have as good a chance as anybody, and so do I. I am for equal rights, and Jefferson would have the poor man have the same rights as a governor or president."

"So would the Federalists," replied Charlie. "John Adams wanted this as much as Jefferson."

"You mean that he said he did," answered Nat. "Jefferson thought that Mr. Adams's principles would lead to a limited monarchy, instead of a republic, where each man would enjoy his rights."

"I should like to know how that could be?" inquired Charlie. "What I have read in the Federalist shows that he was as much in favor of the Declaration of Independence as any one."

"But he wanted the president and his cabinet to have very great power, somewhat like monarchs, and Jefferson wanted the people to have the power. That was the reason that Jefferson's party called themselves Republicans."

"Yes; but do the Democrats now carry out the Declaration of Independence? Don't they uphold slavery at the present day?"

"Jefferson did not uphold it in the least, and a good many of his friends did not. If his life and writings tell the truth, some of the Federalists did uphold it, and some of them had slaves. So you can't make much out of that."

"All I want to make out of it," replied Charlie, "is just this—that the Democrats now do sustain slavery, and how is this believing the Declaration of Independence, that 'all men are created equal?'"

"I don't care for the Democrats now," responded Nat. "I know what Jefferson believed, and I want to believe as he did. I am such a Democrat as he was, and if he was a Republican, then I am."

"I suppose, then," added Charlie, with a sly look, "that you would like the Declaration of Independence a little better if it read, 'all men are created equal,' except niggers?"

"No, no; Jefferson believed it just as it was, and so do I. Whether men are white or black, rich or poor, high or low, they are equal; and that is what I like. He never defended slavery, I would have you know."

"I thought he did," added Charlie.

"I can show you that he did not," said Nat, taking up a volume from the table. "Now hear this;" and he proceeded to read the following, in which Jefferson is speaking of holding slaves:

"'What an incomprehensible machine is man! who can endure toil, famine, stripes, imprisonment, and death itself, in vindication of his own liberty, and the next moment be deaf to all those motives whose power supported him through the trial, and inflict on his fellow men a bondage, one hour of which is fraught with more misery than ages of that which he rose in rebellion to oppose. But we must wait with patience the workings of an overruling Providence, and hope that that is preparing the deliverance of these our suffering brethren. When the measure of their tears shall be full—when their tears shall have involved heaven itself in darkness—doubtless a God of justice will awaken to their distress, and by diffusing a light and liberality among their oppressors, or, at length by his exterminating thunder, manifest his attention to things of this world, and that they are not left to the guidance of blind fatality.'"

"That is strong against slavery, I declare," said Charlie. "I had always supposed that Jefferson was a defender of slavery."

"How plainly he says that there is more misery in 'one hour' of slavery, than there is in 'ages' of that which our fathers opposed in the Revolution," added Nat.

"And then he calls the slaves 'our suffering brethren,' and not 'niggers,'" said Charlie, with a genuine look of fun in his eye.

"I want to read you another passage still, you are beginning to be so good a Democrat," said Nat.

"Don't call me a Democrat," answered Charlie, "for I don't believe the Democrats generally carry out the principles of Jefferson."

"Republican, then," answered Nat quickly, "just what Jefferson called himself. You won't object to that, will you?"

"Read on," said Charlie, without answering the last inquiry.

Nat read as follows:

"'With what execration should the statesman be loaded, who, permitting one half the citizens thus to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those into despots, and these into enemies, destroys the morals of the one part, and the amor patriae of the other. For if a slave can have a country in this world, it must be any other in preference to that in which he is born to live and labor for another, in which he must lock up the faculties of his nature, contribute as far as depends on his individual endeavors to the banishment of the human race, or entail his own miserable condition on the endless generations proceeding from him. With the morals of a people their industry also is destroyed. For in a warm climate no man will labor for himself who can make another labor for him. This is so true, that of the proprietors of slaves, a very small proportion indeed are ever seen to labor. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I remember that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever; that considering numbers, nature, and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation is among possible events; that it may become probable by supernatural interference. The Almighty has no attribute that can take side with us in such a contest. But it is impossible to be temperate and pursue this subject.'"

"That is stronger yet!" exclaimed Charlie. "I tell you, Nat, there are no such Democrats now."

"Yes, there are; you see one sitting in this chair," replied Nat, "and I believe there are many such. A person must believe so if he believes the Declaration of Independence. Come, Charlie, you are as good a Democrat as I am, only you won't own it."

"I certainly think well of Jefferson's principles, so far as you have read them to me, but I am not quite ready to call myself a Democrat."

We can readily see that Nat's sympathies would lead him at once to embrace the views of Jefferson on reading his life and writings. We have seen enough of him in earlier scenes to know in what direction they would run. His pity for the poor and needy, the unfortunate and injured, even extending to abused dumb animals; his views and feelings respecting the different orders of society; and his naturally kind and generous heart, would prepare the way for his thus early taking sides in politics. The traits of character discoverable in the court scene, when he plead the case of the accused boys; his grief with Frank when he wept over dead Trip; his condemnation of Sam Drake in defence of Spot, and one or two other incidents, are also traceable in his interest in the character and principles of Jefferson. There seemed to him more equality in those doctrines, more regard for the rights of the people, more justice and humanity, than in any thing he had read. Indeed, he had read nothing strictly political before, except what came under his eye in the papers, and he was fully prepared to welcome such views.

Jefferson's life and writings certainly made a lasting impression upon Nat's mind. It was one of the works that contributed to his success. Like the lives of Patrick Henry and of Dr. Franklin, and the address upon the character of Count Rumford, it contained much that appealed directly to his early aspirations. It is said that when Guido stood gazing upon the inimitable works of Michael Angelo, he was first roused to behold the field of effort for which he was evidently made, and he exclaimed, "I, too, am a painter." So, it would seem, that direction was given to the natural powers of Nat, and his thirst for knowledge developed into invincible resolution and high purpose by this and kindred volumes. It is often the case, that the reading of a single volume determines the character for life, and starts off the young aspirant upon a career of undying fame. Thus Franklin tells us that when he was a boy, a volume fell into his hands, to which he was greatly indebted for his position in manhood. It was "Cotton Mather's Essays to do Good," an old copy that was much worn and torn. Some of the leaves were gone, "but the remainder," he said, "gave me such a turn of thinking as to have an influence on my conduct through life; for I have always set a greater value on the character of a doer of good than any other kind of reputation; and if I have been a useful citizen, the public owes all the advantage of it to the little book." Jeremy Bentham said that the current of his thoughts and studies was decided for life by a single sentence that he read near the close of a pamphlet in which he was interested. The sentence was, "The greatest good of the greatest number." There was a great charm in it to one of his "turn of mind," and it decided his life-purpose. The passion of Alfieri for knowledge was begotten by the reading of "Plutarch's Lives." Loyola, the founder of the sect of Jesuits, was wounded in the battle of Pampeluna, and while he was laid up with the wound, he read the "Lives of the Saints," which impressed him so deeply that he determined from that moment to found a new sect.

There is no end to such examples from the page of history. It may seem an unimportant matter for a boy to read the life of Jefferson, or Franklin, or any other person; but these facts show us that it may be no trivial thing, though its importance will be determined by the decision, discrimination, and purpose with which the book is read. Very small causes are sometimes followed by the greatest results. Less than a book often settles a person's destiny. A picture created that life of purity and usefulness which we find in Dr. Guthrie, the renowned English champion of the Ragged School enterprise. His case is so interesting, that we close this chapter by letting him speak for himself. He says,

"The interest I have been led to take in this cause is an example of how, in Providence, a man's destiny,—his course of life, like that of a river, may be determined and affected by very trivial circumstances. It is rather curious,—at least it is interesting to me to remember,—that it was by a picture I was first led to take an interest in ragged schools,—by a picture in an old, obscure, decaying burgh that stands on the shores of the Firth of Forth, the birth-place of Thomas Chalmers. I went to see this place many years ago, and, going into an inn for refreshment, I found the room covered with pictures of shepherdesses with their crooks, and sailors in holiday attire, not particularly interesting. But above the chimney-piece there stood a large print, more respectable than its neighbors, which represented a cobbler's room. The cobbler was there himself, spectacles on nose, an old shoe between his knees,—the massive forehead and firm mouth, indicating great determination of character, and, beneath his bushy eyebrows, benevolence gleamed out on a number of poor ragged boys and girls, who stood at their lessons round the busy cobbler. My curiosity was awakened; and in the inscription I read how this man, John Pounds, a cobbler in Portsmouth, taking pity on the multitude of poor ragged children left by ministers and magistrates, and ladies and gentlemen, to go to ruin on the streets,—how, like a good shepherd, he gathered in these wretched outcasts,—how he had trained them to God and to the world,—and how, while earning his daily bread by the sweat of his brow, he had rescued from misery and saved to society not less than five hundred of these children. I felt ashamed of myself. I felt reproved for the little I had done. My feelings were touched. I was astonished at this man's achievement; and I well remember, in the enthusiasm of the moment, saying to my companion (and I have seen in my cooler and calmer moments no reason for unsaying the saying),—'That man is an honor to humanity, and deserves the tallest monument ever raised within the shores of Britain.' I took up that man's history, and I found it animated by the spirit of Him who had 'compassion on the multitude.' John Pounds was a clever man besides; and, like Paul, if he could not win a poor boy any other way, he won him by art. He would be seen chasing a ragged boy along the quays, and compelling him to come to school, not by the power of a policeman, but by the power of a hot potato. He knew the love an Irishman had for a potato; and John Pounds might be seen running holding under the boy's nose a potato, like an Irishman, very hot, and with a coat as ragged as himself. When the day comes when honor will be done to whom honor is due, I can fancy the crowd of those whose fame poets have sung, and to whose memory monuments have been raised, dividing like the wave, and passing the great, and the noble, and the mighty of the land, this poor, obscure old man stepping forward and receiving the especial notice of Him who said, 'Inasmuch as ye did it to one of the least of these, ye did it also to me.'"



CHAPTER XV.

THREE IMPORTANT EVENTS.

"Frank is coming into the factory to work," said Nat one day to Charlie.

"He is?" answered Charlie with some surprise, as he had not heard of it; "when is he coming?"

"Next week I expect, if the place is ready for him. I am glad he is coming, for he will be company for us."

"Are his parents so poor that he is obliged to work here for a living?"

"Yes; they are not able to keep him at school any longer, and they think he is old enough now to do something to support himself."

"It is a dreadful thing to be poor, isn't it, Nat?"

"It is bad enough, but not the worst thing in the world," answered Nat. "Dr. Franklin said it was worse to be mean."

"I shan't dispute with him on that point," replied Charlie, "for there is only one side to that question. But I was thinking how poor boys are obliged to work instead of going to school, and of the many hard things they are obliged to meet."

"I think of it often," added Nat, "but then I remember that almost all the men whose lives I have read, were poor boys, and this shows that poverty is not so bad as some other things. But I don't quite believe Dr. Franklin's remark about the ease of becoming rich."

"What was his remark?" inquired Charlie.

"'The way to wealth is as plain as the way to market,'" answered Nat; "and if that isn't plain enough, I should like to know how it could be made plainer."

"Well, I don't believe that," said Charlie. "If men could become rich as easily as they can go to market, there would be precious few poor people in the world. But is that really what he means?"

"Certainly; only industry and frugality, he says, must be practised in order to get it."

"That alters the case," answered Charlie, "but even then I can't quite believe it. Are all industrious and frugal people wealthy?"

"No," replied Nat; "and that is the reason I doubt the truth of Dr. Franklin's remark. Some of the most industrious and frugal people in the world are poor."

The conversation was broken off here, and we will take this opportunity to remark, that Frank Martin entered the factory, as had been arranged, and was most cordially welcomed by the boys. He had been less with Nat, since the latter became a bobbin boy, than before, but their friendship was not abated. We have seen that they were on very intimate terms before, and were much in each other's society. Frank's entrance into the factory was suited to strengthen that friendship. The fact that each of the boys was poor and obliged to work for a living, and that each, also, was a factory boy, was enough to cause their sympathies to run together. It is natural for the rich to seek the society of the rich, and for the poor to seek the society of the poor, because their sympathies blend together. Hence, we generally find in communities that the rich and poor are usually separated, in some measure, by social barriers. This is not as it should be by any means; and this distinction between the rich and poor often becomes obnoxious to every kind and generous sentiment of humanity. Still, to some extent, the very experience of the rich begets a fellow-feeling with the rich, and so of the poor. The same is true, also, of trials. The mother who has lost her babe can sympathize with another bereaved mother, as no other person can. The sorrowing widow enters into the bitter experience of another wife bereft of her husband, as no other weeper can. And so it is of other forms of human experience. Then, the occupations of individuals comes in to influence the sympathies. A farmer meets a stranger, and finds, after cultivating his acquaintance, that he is a farmer, and this fact alone increases his interest in the individual. A sailor falls into company with an old man of four-score years, and finds that he was once a sailor, and this item of news draws him towards the aged man at once. A lawyer or clergyman is introduced to a gentleman in a foreign land, and he learns that the stranger is a lawyer or clergyman, as the case may be, and this knowledge itself makes him glad to see him.

Now this principle had a place in the hearts of these three factory boys, and bound them together by very strong ties of friendship. No three boys in the village thought so much of each other, nor were so much in each other's society, as they. There is no doubt that their intimate acquaintance and intercourse had much to do in forming the character of each. It certainly opened the way for some experiences that helped make Nat what he became.

* * * * *

"How did you like Marcus Treat?" inquired Charlie, the evening after he introduced this new comer into Nat's study.

"Very much indeed," answered Nat. "He seems to be a capital fellow, and he is a good scholar I know from his appearance."

"He is a good scholar, for one of the boys told me so. He has been in school only two or three weeks, but that is long enough to tell whether a fellow is a dunce or not."

"Where did he come from?" asked Nat.

"From——, I understand; and he lives with his uncle here. His parents are poor, and his uncle has offered to take him into his family."

"He will have a good home. His uncle will do as well by him as he would by a son."

"That is true; but he is not able to do much for either, I should think. Is he not a poor man?"

"Perhaps so; he has to work for a living, but many men who are obliged to do this, can do much for their sons. I pity him to have to leave his home and go among strangers."

"He will not be a stranger long with us," said Charlie. "He seemed much pleased to get acquainted with us, and to know about our plan of study."

"I suppose the poor fellow is glad to get acquainted with anybody," said Nat, "here among strangers as he is. It is a dreadful thing to be poor, you said, the other day, and I guess he begins to find it so. We must try to make him feel at home."

"That won't be difficult; for I think, from all I hear, that he fares much better here than he did at home, because his father was so very poor."

"They say 'home is home if it is ever so homely,' and I believe it, and probably Marcus does. But if he likes to study, he will be glad to join us, and we shall be glad to have him."

"I will speak to him about it to-morrow, if I see him," added Charlie. "He told me that he read evenings."

This Marcus Treat had just come to town for the reasons given by Charlie. He was about the age of Nat, and was a very bright, smart, active boy, disposed to do about as well as he knew how. He entered the public school immediately on coming into town, where his uncle designed to keep him, at least for a while. We shall find, hereafter, that he became a bosom companion of Nat's, and shared in his aspirations for knowledge, and did his part in reading, debating, declaiming, and other things pertaining to self-improvement.

* * * * *

A kind letter came that brought trial to Nat. It was designed for his good, but it dashed many of his hopes. An uncle, residing in a distant city, proposed to receive him into his family, and give him an opportunity to labor with himself in the factory. He was overseer of one of the rooms, and there Nat could work under his eye, in a new branch of the business.

"Would you like to go?" inquired his mother.

"On some accounts I should," answered Nat; "and on others I rather not go."

"It is a good thing for boys to go away from home to stay, if they can have a good place," said she; "and you would certainly enjoy being in your uncle's family."

"I should like that well enough; but it is going among strangers, after all; and then here I have a good chance to read and study, and Charlie and I have laid our plans for the future. We have but just commenced to do much in this respect. I should much rather stay here."

"But you can have books there, and as much time out of the factory as you have here. Your uncle will favor you all he can, and will be glad to see you try to improve your mind."

"I shan't have Charlie nor Frank there, nor that new acquaintance, Marcus, who was here the other evening; he was going to study with us. I don't believe there will be a library there either."

"I think there will be a library in the place," said his mother, "to which you can have access. At any rate, I am confident your uncle will provide a way for you to have all the books you want."

"How soon does he want I should come?"

"As soon as you can get ready. It will take me, some little time to repair your clothes, and make the new ones you must have. You could not be ready in less than two or three weeks."

"Perhaps I shall not like the new kind of work there, nor succeed so well in doing it. It will be more difficult."

"And you are able now to perform more difficult work than you did when you first went into the factory. You ought to keep advancing from one step to another. Besides, it may turn out better than you expect if you go there. You know that when you entered the factory two years ago, you thought you should never learn any thing more, but you have been pretty well satisfied with your opportunities to read. Perhaps you will be as happily disappointed if you go to live with your uncle."

"There is very little prospect of it," replied Nat. "But I shall do as you think best."

Nat could not help thinking about the new comer, Marcus Treat. He had been pitying him because he was obliged to leave his home, to live with his uncle among strangers; and now he himself was to have just such an experience. He little thought, when he was conversing with Charlie about this unpleasant feature of Marcus' life, that he would be obliged to try it himself so soon. But it was so. Marcus came to reside with his uncle in a community of strangers, and now Nat is going to reside with his uncle, where faces are no more familiar. It was a singular circumstance, and Nat could but view it in that light.

We have no space to devote to this part of Nat's life. We can only say, that it was decided to send him to his uncle's, and that he went at the earliest opportunity. It would be interesting to trace his interviews with his bosom companions before his departure—the sad disappointment that was felt by each party at the separation—the regrets of Charlie over frustrated plans in consequence of this step—the preparations for the journey—his leave of his native village—the long ride, by private conveyance, with his parents, to his new residence—and his introduction to a new sphere of labor.

He was absent three years, in which time he added several inches to his stature, and not a little to his stock of information. We will only say of this period, however, that his leisure hours were spent in self-improvement, and he was supplied with books, and had some other sources of information, such as public lectures, opened to him in the place. On the whole, these three years were important ones to him, so that there was a gain to set over against the loss he sustained in bidding adieu to well-laid plans for improvement in his birth-place.



CHAPTER XVI.

FINDING A LOST OPPORTUNITY.

It was a few weeks after Nat's return to his native place, where he was most cordially welcomed by his old companions, Charlie and Frank in particular. He was now an apprentice in the machine-shop, a stirring, healthy youth of about seventeen years.

"What have you there?" said Charlie to him, as he saw Nat take a book from his pocket to spend a leisure moment over it.

"My grammar," answered Nat, smiling.

"Have you discovered that you can't write a letter with propriety without it?" inquired Charlie, referring rather jocosely to a scene we have sketched.

"I am pretty thoroughly convinced of that," responded Nat. "At any rate, I shall find that lost opportunity if I can. Better now than never."

"You think better of that grammar class than you did five years ago, do you?"

"I have thought better of it for a good while, and should like to join it now if I had the opportunity. We were both very foolish then, as I have found out to my sorrow."

"I have often thought of that time," said Charlie; "I think we were rather too set in our opinions."

"Yes; and if the teacher had just given us what we deserved, perhaps I should not now be obliged to study grammar," added Nat.

"I am glad to see you so willing to own up, only it is a little too late to profit much by it. This 'after wit' is not the best kind."

"It is better than no wit at all," said Nat, rather amused at Charlie's way of "probing an old sore."

"The fact is, we were too young and green then to appreciate the teacher's reasons for wanting us to study grammar. He was right, and we were wrong, and now I am obliged to learn what I might have acquired then more readily."

"But we studied it, did we not?" inquired Charlie.

"Only to recite. We did not study it to understand. I knew little more about grammar when I left off going to school than I do about Greek or Hebrew. It is one thing to commit a lesson, and another to comprehend it. I am determined to understand it now."

"How long have you been studying it?"

"A few weeks ago I commenced it in earnest. I looked at it occasionally before."



"Have you advanced so far as to know whether Sam Drake is a proper or improper noun?" asked Charlie, in a jesting manner.

"Possibly," answered Nat, dryly. "By the way, I hear that Sam has removed from town, and all the family."

"Yes, they have gone, and I have cried none yet, and hope I shall not. Sam is a worse fellow now than he was when you left town."

"He is! He was bad enough then, and if he is much worse now, I pity the people who are obliged to have him about."

"They told some hard stories about him last summer; if half of them are true, he is a candidate for the state prison."

"What were the stories?" asked Nat, not having heard any thing in particular about him since his return.

"Some people thought he robbed Mr. Parton's orchard, and stole Mrs. Graves' pears and plums. He went off several times on Sunday and came back intoxicated. In fact, almost every evil thing that has been done in the night-time, for months past, has been laid to him. Perhaps he was not guilty, but people seem to think there is nothing too bad for him to do."

"And they think about right, too," added Nat. "I never saw a fellow who seemed to enjoy doing mischief like him. But how is it with Ben? I used to think he would do better if Sam would let him alone."

"People generally are of the same opinion. Ben is no worse than he was when he went to school, though he has frequently been in miserable scrapes with Sam. I guess they will end about alike. But I want to talk more about your grammar. Do you really expect to master grammar without a teacher?"

"Of course I do, or I should not undertake it. We conquered worse difficulties in mathematics than I have yet found in grammar."

"But how can you have patience to pursue such a dry study alone?"

"It is not dry now. It was dry to us that winter because we did not want to know any thing about it. Any book will be dry when we don't care to read it. I have found that no study is dry which I really want to know about. I like grammar first-rate now."

"Then you think that we were dry, and not the grammar?" inquired Charlie.

"Certainly; and you will find it so, if you will try it. When a person really wants to comprehend any subject, he will be interested in it, and he will quite readily master it."

"I shall not dispute your position," said Charlie. "But when you have a good grammar lesson you may recite it to me. I think you will make a good grammarian after all—you certainly will if a good resolution will accomplish it."

"I do not expect to distinguish myself in this branch of knowledge," replied Nat. "But I am determined to know something about it. A person need not learn every thing there is to be known about a study to make it profitable to him."

Nat was accustomed, at this period of his life, to carry some book with him for use every spare moment he found. He had a literary pocket into which volume after volume found its way, to remain until its contents were digested. The grammar had its turn in this convenient pocket, and every day was compelled to disclose some of its hidden knowledge. Pockets have been of great service to self-made men. A more useful invention was never known, and hundreds are now living who will have occasion to speak well of pockets till they die, because they were so handy to carry a book. Roger Sherman had one when he was a hard-working shoemaker in Stoughton, Mass. Into it he stuffed geography, history, biography, logic, mathematics, and theology, in turn, so that he actually carried more science than change. Napoleon had one, in which he carried the Iliad when he wrote to his mother, "With my sword by my side, and Homer in my pocket, I hope to carve my way through the world." Hugh Miller had one from which he often drew a profitable work as he was sitting on a stone for a few moments' rest from his hard toils. Elihu Burritt had one from the time he began to read in the old blacksmith shop until he acquired a literary fame, and on "a grand scale set to working out his destiny at the flaming forge of life." In writing to a friend, he said, "Those who have been acquainted with my character from my youth up, will give me credit for sincerity when I say, that it never entered into my head to blazon forth any acquisition of my own. All that I have accomplished, or expect, or hope to accomplish, has been, and will be, by that plodding, patient, persevering process of accretion which builds the ant-heap,—particle by particle, thought by thought, fact by fact. And if ever I was actuated by ambition, its highest and warmest aspiration reached no further than the hope to set before the young men of my country an example in employing those invaluable fragments of time, called 'odd moments.'" He was once an agent for a manufacturing company in Connecticut, and his pocket served him a noble purpose, for it furnished him with a valuable work often, in unfrequented spots, where he would let his horse rest, and spend a few moments in studying by the road-side. The horse soon learned to appreciate the wants of his driver, and would voluntarily stop in certain lonely retreats for him to pursue his studies. Thus pockets that have carried the leanest purses, have often proved the greatest blessing to mankind.

But how many youth there are, having much leisure time every day, who carry nothing better than a knife, purse, and sometimes a piece of filthy tobacco, in their pockets! It would be infinitely better for them to put a good book there, to occupy their attention whenever a spare moment is offered. If only a single hour in a day could be saved from absolute waste by such reliance on the pocket, this would be sufficient to secure a large amount of information in a series of years. The working-days of the week would yield, in this way, six precious hours, equal to one day's schooling in a week, and fifty-two days, or ten weeks of schooling in a year. Is not this worth saving? Multiply it by ten years, and there you have one hundred weeks,—nearly two years of mental culture. Multiply it by twenty, and you have about four years of this intellectual discipline. Multiply it once more by fifty years (and he who lives to three score years and ten, beginning thus in boyhood, will have even more time than that for improvement), and you have nearly ten years of mental discipline. If we could gather up all the wasted moments of the young, who prefer a jack-knife to a book, what a series of years we could save for literary purposes! Nat's pocket was worth a cart-load of those who never hold any thing more valuable than money. If some kind friend had proposed to give him one well filled with gold in exchange for his, he would have made a poor bargain had he accepted the offer.

In regard to finding lost opportunities, few persons are ever so fortunate. Here and there one with the decision, and patient persevering spirit of Nat makes up for these early losses, in a measure, but they have to pay for it at a costly rate. Nat thought so when he struggled to master grammar without a teacher. Deeply he regretted that he let slip a golden opportunity of his early boyhood, when he might have acquired considerable knowledge of this science. But his perseverance in finally pursuing the study furnishes a good illustration of what may be done.

"What do you say to starting a debating society, Charlie?" inquired Nat, on the same day they discussed their grammar experience.

"I would like it well; and I think we could get quite a number to join it. Where could we meet?"

"We could probably get the use of the school-house, especially if a number of the scholars should join us. For such a purpose, I think there would be no objection to our having it."

"Let us attend to it at once," said Charlie. "Marcus and Frank will favor the movement, and I dare say we can get fifteen or twenty in a short time. Some will join it who do not think of debating, for the sake of having it go."

This reference to Marcus renders it necessary to say, that he had left the district school, and was learning the hatter's trade. During Nat's three years' absence, he was intimate with Frank and Charlie, and was disposed to improve his leisure time in reading. He was such a youth as would readily favor the organization of a debating society, and become an active member.

"Come over to our house early to-night," said Nat, "and we will see what we can do. If we form the society at all, we can do it within a week."



CHAPTER XVII.

THE PURCHASE.

On the same week, while the plans for a debating society were maturing, it was announced that the machine-shop would be closed on Saturday.

"I shall go to Boston then," said Nat.

"What for?" inquired Charlie.

"I want to look around among the bookstores; I think a few hours spent in this way will be of service to me."

"Going to purchase a library, I suppose?" added Charlie, with a peculiar twinkle proceeding from the corner of his eye.

"Not a very large one, I think; but it is well enough to see what there is in the world to make a library of."

"I should think it would be nothing but an aggravation to examine a bookstore and not be able to buy what you want. It is like seeing a good dinner without being permitted to eat."

"I can tell you better about that after I try it. After walking ten miles to enjoy the sight, and then returning by the same conveyance, I can speak from experience."

"Walk!" exclaimed Charlie; "do you intend to walk?"

"Certainly; won't you go with me? I should like some company, though it is not a very lonely way."

"I prefer to be excused," answered Charlie, "until I know your experience. But why do you not take the stage and save your shoe-leather?"

"Because shoe-leather is cheaper than stage-fare," replied Nat. "What little money I have to spare, I prefer to lay out in books. If the way to wealth was as plain as it is to Boston market,—as Dr. Franklin thought,—I should not only ride in the stage to the city, but also bring back a bookstore."

There was no railroad to the city at that time; but once or twice a day there was public conveyance by stage.

"Well, a pleasant walk to you," said Charlie; "I hope you will remember that you are nothing but a country boy when you meet our city cousins. I shall want to go some time, so you must behave well."

"Much obliged for your advice; I dare say it will be the means of saving me from everlasting disgrace. What do you charge for such fatherly counsel?"

"Halloo! here is Frank," exclaimed Charlie, as Frank made his appearance. "What do you think Nat is going to do on Saturday?"

"What he does every Saturday, I suppose,—work," answered Frank.

"No; there is no work to do on Saturday, and he is going to walk to Boston to visit the bookstores."

"Nobody can walk there quicker than Nat," replied Frank; "and if he scents a book, I shouldn't want to try to keep him company."

"I should think Boston was forty miles off by your talk," said Nat; "what is a walk of ten miles for any one of us, hale and hearty fellows. If I live, I expect to walk there more than once."

Saturday came. It was a bright, pleasant day, and Nat was up betimes, clothed and fed for a start. With a light heart and nimble feet, he made rapid progress on his way, and the forenoon was not far gone when he reached Cornhill. He was not long in finding the bookstores, caring, apparently, for little else. Most boys of his age, in going to the city, would be attracted by other sights and scenes. The Museum, with its fine collection of curiosities from every part of the world, would attract one; the State House, with its splendid view from the cupola, would draw another; the ships in the harbor, with their forest of masts, would fill the eyes of a third; while the toy-shops, music-stores, and confectioners, would command the particular attention of others. But none of these things attracted Nat. He went to examine the bookstores, and to them he repaired. Books filled the show-windows, and some were outside to attract attention. He examined those outside before he stepped in. He read the title of each volume upon the back, and some he took up and examined. Having looked to his heart's content outside, he stepped in. A cordial bow welcomed him to every place.

"What would you like, sir?" inquired one bookseller.

"I came in," replied Nat, "to look at your books, with your permission."

"Look as long as you please," replied the bookseller, with a countenance beaming with good-will, to make Nat feel at home.

For an hour or more he went from shelf to shelf, examining title-pages and the contents of volumes, reading a paragraph here and there, marking the names of authors, and all the while wishing that he possessed this, that, and the other work. There were two or three volumes he thought he might purchase if the price was within his limited means, among which was "Locke's Essay on the Understanding." But he did not discover either of the works in his examination. At length he inquired,

"Have you a copy of 'Locke's Essay on the Understanding?'"

"Yes," replied the bookseller, "I have a second-hand copy that I will sell you cheap," taking down from a shelf an English pocket edition of the work. "There, I will sell you that for twenty-five cents."

"Is it a perfect copy?" inquired Nat, thinking that possibly some leaves might be gone, which would render it worthless to him.

"Yes, not a page is gone, and it is well bound, as you see."

"I will take it," said Nat, well pleased to possess the coveted volume so cheap, and especially that it was just the thing for his literary pocket. He was now more than paid for his walk to Boston. He had no idea of obtaining the work in a form so convenient for his use, and it was a very agreeable surprise.

In the course of the day, he made one or two other purchases, of which we shall not speak, and acquired many new ideas of books. Some valuable bits of knowledge he gleaned from the pages over which his eyes glanced, so that, on the whole, it was a day well spent for his intellectual progress.

It is related of Dr. John Kitto, that in his boyhood, when he first began to gratify his thirst for knowledge, he was wont to visit a bookseller's stall, where he was privileged to examine the volumes, and he there treasured up many a valuable thought, that contributed to his future progress and renown. He always regarded this small opportunity of improvement as one of the moulding events of his life.

Nat was on his way home at a seasonable hour, and had a very sociable time with his new pocket companion, which he could not help reading some on the road. It is doubtful if he ever spent a happier day than that, though he knew little more about Boston than he did in the morning, except about the extent and attractions of its bookstores, with a half dozen of which, on Cornhill and Washington street, he became familiar.

"Good morning, Nat," said Charlie, on Monday morning, as they met at the shop. "What discoveries did you make in Boston?"

The only reply that Nat made was to take from his pocket, and hold up "Locke's Essay on the Understanding."

"What is that?" inquired Charlie, taking the volume from Nat's hand, and turning to the title-page.

"I have been wanting that some time," said Nat, "but I had no idea of finding a pocket edition nor getting it so cheap. I bought that for twenty-five cents."

"It is a second-hand copy, I see."

"Yes; but just as good for my use as a copy fresh from the press."

"A good fit for your pocket," said Charlie; "I should think it was made on purpose for you. Has the grammar vacated it?"

"To be sure; it moved out the other day, and Locke has moved in," replied Nat, taking up Charlie's witticism.

"Did you have a good time in the city?"

"Capital: so good that I shall go again the first opportunity I have. But, I confess, it was rather aggravating to see so many books, and not be able to possess them."

Charlie smiled at this confession, remembering their conversation a few days before, and both proceeded to their work.

This new volume was a great acquisition to Nat, and as much as any other, perhaps, had an influence in developing and strengthening his mental powers. It was not read and cast aside. It was read and re-read, and studied for months, in connection with other volumes. It was one of the standard books that moulded his youth, and decided his career.

It is a singular fact that "Locke's Essay on the Understanding" has exerted a controlling influence upon the early lives of so many self-taught men. It was one of the few volumes that constituted the early literary treasure of Robert Burns, to which he ascribed much of his success, though he says, at the same time, "A collection of English songs was my vade mecum." The famed metaphysician, Samuel Drew, owed his triumphs mainly to this work. True, he became a great reader of other works, for he said, "The more I read, the more I felt my ignorance; and the more I felt my ignorance, the more invincible became my energy to surmount it. Every leisure moment was now employed in reading one thing or another. Having to support myself by manual labor, my time for reading was but little, and to overcome this disadvantage, my usual method was to place a book before me while at meat, and at every repast I read five or six pages." Yet, he attached the most importance to "Locke's Essay," for he acknowledged that it turned his attention to metaphysics, and, he said, "It awakened me from my stupor, and induced me to form a resolution to abandon the grovelling views which I had been accustomed to entertain."

The German scholar, Mendelsohn, owed not a little of his distinction in certain departments of study to the influence of a Latin copy of "Locke's Essay." He was an extensive reader, and found that a knowledge of Greek and Latin was necessary for the successful prosecution of his literary pursuits. Consequently he purchased a copy of "Locke's Essay" in Latin, and with an old dictionary, which he bought for a trifle, and the assistance of a friend, who understood Latin, fifteen minutes each day, he translated the work. But the knowledge it gave him of Latin was far less valuable than the teachings it communicated, and which he incorporated into the very web of his future life.

We can readily perceive how a work like this is suited to arouse the dormant energies of the mind, and start it off upon a career of thought and influence. That knowledge of human nature which it imparts, and particularly the Philosophy of the Mind which it unfolds, are suited to aid the orator and statesman. He who understands these laws of human nature can more surely touch the springs of emotion in the soul, by the flow of his fervid eloquence.

This was not the last visit of Nat to the Boston bookstores. Subsequently, as he had opportunity, he walked to the city on a similar errand, and always returned with more knowledge than he possessed in the morning.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE DEBATING SOCIETY.

The plans of Nat for a debating society were successful, and arrangements were made accordingly. Permission was obtained to use the school-house for the purpose, and Tuesday evening was appointed as the time to organize.

"Much will depend upon beginning well," said Nat to Marcus. "We must make it a good thing if we expect any favors in the village."

"Shall we admit spectators?" inquired Marcus.

"After we have fairly commenced," answered Nat. "There won't be much room, however, if all the members attend, and other young people who want to come in."

"I should think it would be well to have some declamations and dialogues occasionally," added Marcus; "it will give more variety. I imagine that our debates will want something else to back them up. And then some will be willing to declaim who will not attempt to debate."

"That is true," replied Nat; "but we form the society for debating, and therefore this ought to be the principal object. It may be well enough to have some declamations and dialogues occasionally—I think it would. But it will do us more good to debate. We shall be more interested in reading upon the subjects of debate, and then our debates will be better in consequence of our reading."

Tuesday evening arrived. Nat and his intimate associates had prepared a constitution, so that an organization could be effected without delay. A good number of young people assembled, of both sexes, and a society was formed in a most harmonious manner. The unanimity of feeling and action was a lesson to most legislative bodies, and to the Congress of the United States in particular. It was decided to hold weekly meetings for debate, and a question was voted for the meeting of the following week. Nat was appointed to open the discussion, and three others to follow on their respective sides of the question. A small fee of membership was required of the male members to defray necessary expenses.

"A good beginning last night," said Charlie to Nat, on the next morning.

"Much better than I anticipated," was Nat's reply. "The thing has taken better than I supposed it would; but many a good beginning has a bad ending. We must do our best to keep up the interest, and make it respectable."

"I was glad to hear you suggest that by-rule about good order," said Charlie. "I think some voted for it last evening who would not have done so if it had been deferred until disorder commenced."

"I knew what I was about," answered Nat. "There are some fellows in the village who would think they could have a good time in spite of the officers, because they are of the same age, and I thought it would be well to get them to vote for good order in the first place. We shall never accomplish any thing in such a society unless we have as much decorum as there is in the meetings of adults, and without it we shall have a bad reputation."

Here Nat exhibited one trait of his youth—a strong desire to make every thing in which he engaged respectable. A few years later he manifested a feeling in the same direction, when he was made captain of the fire company. He introduced rules to guard against those vices that are so likely to find their way into such associations; and his arguments were generally so good, and his appeals so forcible, that he always carried his propositions. The result was a model fire company that won the confidence and respect of the citizens. In his boyhood the same trait of character caused him to care for his appearance, so that in his poverty he was usually more neat and tidy in his dress than many sons of the rich with far costlier apparel. And it was this that had somewhat to do with the general manly character for which he was known when young.

"I suppose," continued Charlie, "that some men think we only mean to have a good time, and that there will be more play than profit in our society."

"And we must show them that it is otherwise by conducting it in the best way possible," added Nat. "For one, I want it for my own improvement. I had better stay at home and read than to go there and spend an evening to no advantage. Fellows who are not able to go to school, but must work from morning till night for a livelihood, are obliged to improve their odd moments if they would ever know any thing. You remember that rule of Dr. Franklin, 'Lose no time,' I suppose?"

"I can never forget Dr. Franklin where you are," answered Charlie. "You think he is law and gospel in every thing but the way to wealth."

The new-formed debating society filled the thoughts of Nat much of the time, and the first question for discussion was pretty thoroughly investigated before the time of the meeting. We do not know precisely what the question was, only that it was a common one, such as "Which is the greater curse to mankind, war or intemperance?" Suffice to say, that it was discussed on the evening appointed, in a manner that was creditable to all who participated, though the palm was readily conceded to Nat. The success of the first debate created a strong appetite for more, and from week to week the interest increased.

It happened one evening, for some reason, that no question was assigned for discussion. The members came, and a good number of spectators, but there was no provision made for a debate.

"What shall we do?" inquired Charlie, before the hour for opening the meeting arrived.

"Decide upon a question now, and, as soon as the meeting is opened, vote to discuss it," replied Nat, promptly.

"What! Do you mean to discuss it to-night?" asked John.

"To be sure I do. It would be a pretty joke to come together, and go home without doing any thing."

"I will agree to it," said Marcus.

"And I, too," said Frank.

"And I, too," added other voices.

So it was decided to have a discussion, and a question was agreed upon by the time the hour for commencing arrived. The meeting was opened, and the minutes of the last meeting read, when it appeared that there was no question for debate. Immediately Nat arose, and said, "Mr. President,—By some misunderstanding it appears that we have no question for discussion assigned for this evening. I think it would not be for our credit to go home without a debate, since those who have come here are expecting a discussion. I therefore move that we debate the following question this evening (at the same time reading the question), and that the President appoint the disputants as usual."

Frank seconded the motion, and it was carried. Next, the President appointed Nat to open the debate, and Marcus, Charlie, and Frank for the other three disputants. There was some curiosity on the part of spectators to see how the boys would get along, and they were all eager to have Nat begin. All looked very pleasant, however, and well they might, for who could view this young parliament scene without a smiling face. Still, it was possible to trace an anxious feeling upon the countenances of the debaters, unless we except Nat.

All other preliminary business being disposed of, Nat commenced, proceeded, and ended, in a speech of twenty minutes, that was not inferior to any of his previous performances. His speech had a beginning, middle, and end, and he stopped when he got through, which is not always the case even with some noted public speakers. The others followed, speaking about as well as usual, and gaining much applause to themselves. It was the general opinion, at the close of the evening, that there had not been a more interesting and profitable discussion in all their previous meetings.

"Nat, you was made for a debater," said Frank to him, at the close of the evening.

"That is a fact," added Charlie, who heard the remark. "You have superior abilities to examine and discuss a subject, and you command language as if you had studied the dictionary all your life. I suspect that pocket of yours holds the secret."

"No wonder that he takes such a stand," said Marcus, "he is always digging away for knowledge. I doubt if he has wasted a moment for five years. I am fully of the opinion, however, that uncommon abilities is the real cause of his success."

These tremendous compliments were flung directly into Nat's face, and he found it more difficult to reply than he did to speak on the unstudied question. At length he answered,

"You do not know me, boys. You overrate me. If I have any success in speaking, it is not because I have any greater abilities than you have. I have a taste for such discussions; I love to speak on the questions; and I desire to do it just as well as I can, and to improve upon it every week, and that is half the battle. I enter into it with all my soul, and don't stop to say I can't: that is all the difference."

"Pshaw, Nat! You will never make me believe that," said Charlie. "You don't believe it yourself. You are making the way to learning and eloquence as easy as Dr. Franklin's way to wealth, and I know what you think of that," and the roguish look that he cast upon him seemed to say, "I have you now."

"I say just what I believe," answered Nat. "The most eminent writers think that a person may be about what he determines to make himself, and I think it is true. If a man starts with the determination to be the best kind of a machinist or carpenter, he will ordinarily become so. And so if he is really determined to excel in any branch of knowledge, he will usually accomplish his object. Tell me of a great scholar or statesman who has not worked his way up by perseverance and incessant labor."

"All that may be very true," replied Marcus, "but it has nothing at all to do with the point in question. We do not say that the most gifted man will distinguish himself without improving his time by close application. We only say that one man is more highly endowed by nature than another."

"I admit that to a certain extent," answered Nat, "and still there is not so much truth in it as many people suppose. I really believe that if all the boys would set about improving every moment, as I have done for some years, you would not observe half so much difference in them as you do now."

The boys were rather unceremonious in piling such a load of compliments upon Nat. There were more than he could dispose of handily. Yet, the views which he advanced, and which he has always maintained from that time to this, are substantiated by the best authors we have. His views were essentially like those of Buxton, who said that he placed his confidence of success in "ordinary powers, and extraordinary application." Buxton's language, on one occasion, was very strong indeed upon the certain success of a firm purpose. "The longer I live," said he, "the more I am certain that the great difference between men, between the feeble and the powerful, is energy—invincible determination—a purpose once fixed, and then death or victory. That quality will do any thing that can be done in this world; and no talents, no circumstances, no opportunities will make a two-legged creature a man, without it." Here is a view of success exactly like that advanced by Nat to his companions; and other men, in the different callings of life, have expressed a similar opinion. Each youth must depend upon his own personal exertions, and not upon superior endowments, or wealthy or honored ancestry, for eminence. If his name is ever carved upon the temple of fame, he must carve it himself.

The debating society had a happy influence upon Nat. It called forth into exercise the latent powers of his mind that otherwise might have slept and slumbered. Such an organization has proved a valuable means of improvement to many persons in their early studies. The Irish orator, Curran, was indebted to such a "club" for much of the renown that attached to his after life. He was modest and retiring even to bashfulness, and had a very marked defect in his articulation, so that his schoolmates called him "stuttering Jack Curran." He joined a "debating club," determined to improve if possible, but there one of the first flings he received was to be called "Orator Mum," in consequence of his being so frightened when he arose to speak that he was not able to say a word. But he persevered until he became the champion of the "club," and laid the foundation of his future eminence as an orator. A living American statesman, who has already made his mark upon the land of his birth, considers the influence of a debating society to which he belonged in his youth, among the first stimulating causes of the course he has pursued. The highly distinguished English statesman, Canning, organized a House of Commons among his play-fellows at school, where a speaker was regularly elected, and ministerial and opposition parties were formed, and debates carried on, in imitation of Parliament. Canning became the star of this juvenile organization, and there began to develop those powers by which, a few years after, as another has said, "he ruled the House as a man rules the high-bred steed, as Alexander ruled Bucephalus, of whom it was said the horse and the rider were equally proud." Henry Clay, the American orator, said to some young men, "I owe my success in life chiefly to one circumstance,—that I commenced and continued for years the process of daily reading and speaking upon the contents of some historical or scientific book. These off-hand efforts were made, sometimes in a cornfield, at others in the forest, and not unfrequently in some distant barn, with the horse and ox for my auditors. It is to this early practice of the art of all arts that I am indebted for the primary and leading impulses that stimulated me onward, and have shaped and moulded my subsequent destiny." What speaking to the forest trees and beasts of the stall was to Clay, that was the debating society to Nat. It was a place where he could use the knowledge he acquired by reading, while, at the same time, his mind was stimulated to action, so that he began to utter "thoughts that breathe and words that burn."

Some twelve or fourteen years ago, the author was passing Tremont Temple in Boston, when he observed an illuminated sign over the door of one of its basement rooms, "Boston Young Men's Total Abstinence Society," and in connection with it was a most cordial "WALK IN." We accepted the silent invitation, and entered. There we found a few young men engaged in a debate, and some five or six spectators, among whom was Deacon Grant, listening. After the close of the exercises, the young men came forward in a most cordial and genial way to converse, and I learned that they had a small library, and were accustomed to debate questions of a social and literary character at their meetings. Only a few belonged to the society; for it has always been true that total abstinence societies have not been well supported in Boston, and the fact is a stain upon its social character, and the piety of its churches; but those few were anxious to make the society a means of mental improvement, at the same time it contributed to prosper the cause of temperance. For some years the organization was conducted in this way; and what was the result? We are not able to point to all the members as they now meet the stern duties of meridian life, but we know the whereabouts and position of a few. One of them, who was a mason by trade, at the time referred to above, is the popular editor of a daily paper in a New England city, and his charming eloquence has more than once delighted a Boston audience. Another has worked his way along through a course of education, and now occupies an honorable position as a preacher of the gospel. Yet another applied himself to self-improvement with industry and perseverance, and the world know him now as the talented author, Oliver Optics. And still another, a merchant's clerk, now stands at the head of the large mercantile house in which he then served, possessing wealth and position that many an older man would be proud to call his own. His beautiful city mansion contains a study, where leisure hours are profitably employed, showing that the stimulus of those early debates is still felt. His voice is often heard in public assemblies, and he now takes his turn, with a corps of divines and lawyers, in editing a religious magazine. Not one of these young men had wealth, or titled ancestry, or superior advantages, to aid them; and all will say that the debates of their society exerted a powerful influence over them, and contributed largely to their success.



CHAPTER XIX.

COMING AND GOING.

Frank was much surprised one day to receive a visit from Ben Drake.

"Is it you, Ben?" he exclaimed, as he met him at the door.

"I believe it is," said Ben, "though I hope I am a different Ben from what I was five years ago," evidently retaining some recollection of Trip's death.

"I should not have known you," said Frank, "if I had passed you in the street. How you have grown!"

Frank had really no better opinion of Ben now than he had when Trip was tumbled down Prospect Hill, and he was sorry to see him coming up to his father's door. Still, he was so much improved in his appearance, and he met Frank so much more gentlemanly than he ever did before, that the latter could not but give him a cordial welcome.

"You have changed as much as I have, I think," added Ben, "though, in one respect, there was not so much room for a change in your case as there was in mine." But this allusion Frank did not comprehend.

"Come in, come in," said Frank, and he ushered him into the house, where he met the family, who were rather surprised to see him. Mrs. Martin made inquiries after the family, to which Ben responded in a manner that evidenced great improvement.

"Where do you live?" she asked.

"I am now at school in Andover."

"Ah! you have better advantages than the rest of the boys."

"And I hope I improve them better than I used to," said Ben. "I was a pretty wild boy when I lived here, and it has caused me many regrets."

"How long are you going to school?" inquired Mrs. Martin.

"I expect to prepare for college there."

"You do? Then you are going to have a liberal education? What are you going to be,—a lawyer?"

"No; I hope to do more good than I could to be a lawyer. I expect to be a minister."

Frank and his mother were both surprised at this announcement, and the latter asked,

"Then you are a Christian?"

"I trust I am. Nothing but becoming a Christian could have saved me from my wicked ways."

"How long since you became a Christian?"

"It is eight or ten months."

Other inquiries elicited the fact, that his brother Sam was no better than when he left town, and that much of the time his parents knew nothing of his whereabouts.

As the evening drew on (Frank had invited Ben to stay with him), Ben inquired if there was a prayer-meeting on that evening, to which he received an affirmative answer.

"Will you go?" he asked, addressing himself to Frank.

"Yes; if you wish to have me. It will soon be time to go."

They went to the prayer-meeting, and entered the room just as the exercises commenced. A good number were present, some of whose faces Ben recognized, though scarcely any one at first knew him. In the course of the evening he arose and spoke in a feeling way of his own experience, referred to his former recklessness in that village, and disclosed his purpose to become a minister of Christ. Before he sat down, most of those present recognized the once bad boy, and they were both surprised and delighted. Frank could hardly believe what he saw and heard. He never expected that Ben Drake would take such a stand as this; and he thought much, but said little.

Early the next morning, Frank ran over to inform Nat of the arrival of Ben, and the fact that he was going to make a minister.

"Going to be a minister!" exclaimed Nat. "I should like to know what can be found in him to make a minister of."

"Well, he is certainly in the school at Andover, preparing for college,—if he tells the truth,—and you have no idea how much improved he is."

"He is deceiving you, Frank. I have no confidence in the fellow. He always was bad, and he always will be."

"No; he is pious now. I went to the prayer-meeting with him last night, and he spoke. He spoke well, too, and alluded to his evil ways when he lived here, and expressed much regret at his course."

"I can scarcely believe it," replied Nat, "though I used to think that Ben would not be so bad if Sam was out of the way. What has become of Sam? There is not much danger of his becoming pious, I take it."

"Ben is not inclined to talk very freely about him, but from what we have learned, the family don't know where he is much of the time."

"How long is it since Ben reformed?"

"Only eight or ten months. Mother says he appears well now, but she would rather wait to see how he holds out. She is afraid that his early vicious habits will be too strong for his present good purpose."

"Where is he now?" inquired Nat, becoming intensely interested in the case. "Is he not coming around to see us?"

"Yes; he will go about some to-day, and go home to-morrow."

Ben called upon many of his old acquaintances that day, so that they had an opportunity of seeing him, and all were as much surprised as Frank at the change in his appearance. His visit created quite a sensation in a circle of families, where he was particularly known in his early boyhood, and he was the occasion of many remarks after his departure. Hereafter we shall see what kind of a man he made.

Before the young people had fairly recovered from the surprise occasioned by Ben's visit, news came that Daniel Webster was to speak in Faneuil Hall, Boston, on a certain evening.

"I shall go to hear him," said Nat, as soon as he heard of it. "Will you go, Charlie?"

"How will you go?" asked Charlie.

"With my own team, of course," answered Nat, jestingly.

"And walk home after the address?"

"Certainly; there is no other way for we poor fellows to do. I never heard Daniel Webster speak, and I shall hear him if it is a possible thing. Will you go?"

"Yes, I will," answered Charlie. "You are not to have all the glory of walking to Boston. I will try it for once."

"I expect to try it a good many times," said Nat. "I want to hear some of the orators of whom so much is said. There is much to be learned in watching a speaker, and listening to him. His manners teach as well as his thoughts. I intend to hear Edward Everett the first time he speaks within ten or fifteen miles of here."

"I see what you are after," said Charlie. "You mean to discover the secret of their power, if possible, and I hope you will."

On the evening of Webster's speech, Nat and Charlie were on their way to Boston in good season, and arrived at Faneuil Hall before the hour for the meeting. They hurried in to find eligible seats before the hall was crowded. Many were already there, and many more were constantly coming in. Nat found that he could see the speaker better to stand directly in front of the platform, where many were already awaiting the arrival of the great orator. So there he took his place, with Charlie by his side, forgetting that his limbs were weary with the ten miles' walk, and a day's hard toil in the machine-shop.

Hearty cheers announced the arrival of the orator, whom Nat had not seen before, and still another round of applause went up when he arose to speak. It was a great treat for Nat to listen to the man whose fame made his name familiar to every school-boy. He drank in every word of his speech, closely observed every gesture and modulation of voice, and would have sat entranced till morning, "taking no note of time," if the gifted orator had continued to pour forth his eloquence.

"Could any thing be grander than that?" said Nat, as they were leaving the house. "I would walk twice as far to hear another speech like it."

"It was very fine indeed," answered Charlie. "It far exceeded my expectations, high as my hopes were raised."

"What power there is in the human voice to control men!" said Nat. "How still it was in the hall! You could almost hear a pin drop, they were so chained by his eloquence. What else could hold them so long in such silence!"

"Nothing," replied Charlie. "It has given me a new idea of eloquence altogether. His voice alone, without a thought, is enough to command attention."

"I could but notice his choice of language," added Nat; "every word seemed to be the most expressive one he could find, and some of his gestures appeared to make his words mean much more than they really do."

Nat had always been a close observer of public speakers from his boyhood, and lost no opportunity to hear lecturers who came to his native village. At the time he heard Webster, his desire to listen to the leading orators of the day had developed almost into a passion. The Debating Society had probably sharpened his taste for such intellectual treats, and he was fully resolved to hear all the speakers he could. He seldom left his book in the evening, except to hear some public speaker at home and abroad, or to debate a question in the club. Many times he walked into Boston to listen to some distinguished orator, returning, often alone, after the treat was enjoyed. This was the pains he took to hear Edward Everett several times, who became his favorite. He admired him for the elegance of his diction, and the beauty with which all of his addresses were invested. He saw more power in Webster, and more elegance in Everett.

He frequently walked into neighboring towns to hear lectures and political speeches. A good speaker announced anywhere in the vicinity was sure to call him out, whether the speech was upon education or politics. One great object with him seemed to be, to learn the art of oratory by actual observation. It is probably true, that he acquired more knowledge of the English language by listening to gifted speakers than he ever did from books, and more of the true art of using it himself to sway an audience. It is said that Robert Bloomfield, when a poor boy, having only a newspaper and an old English dictionary with which to gratify his thirst for information, acquired a very good knowledge of pronunciation by listening to the clerical orator, Mr. Fawcet. Drawn by the speaker's popularity, he went to hear him one Sabbath evening, and he was so impressed with his choice and enunciation of words, that he continued to attend his preaching in order to perfect himself in the proper use of language—not a very high object for which to hear preaching, but illustrative of what may be learned by close observation. In this way Nat, like Bloomfield and Patrick Henry, studied "men and things," in connection with books, during the eventful years of his apprenticeship.

Nat's admiration of the power of the human voice was not all a youthful hallucination. What is there like it? From the nursery to the Senate it controls and sways the heart of man. From the mother's voice at the fireside, to the eloquence of a Webster in the "cradle of liberty," it soothes, arouses, elevates, or depresses, at its pleasure. Listen to the gifted orator, as the flowing periods come burning from his soul on fire, riveting the attention of his hearers in breathless silence for an hour, almost causing them to feel what he feels, and to believe what he believes, and bearing them upward by the witchery of his lofty eloquence until they scarcely know whether they are in the flesh or not, and say if there is aught of earth to compare with the power of the human voice.



CHAPTER XX.

GOSSIP.

One such youth as Nat in a country village is the occasion of a good deal of gossip. Many opinions are expressed in regard to his motives and prospects, though in this case there were few conflicting sentiments. In the sewing circle, a good old lady, who could not appreciate education because she had none herself, said,

"Nat is a smart feller, but I'm feared he'll never be nothin' he thinks so much of book larning. I 'spose he thinks he can get a living by his wits."

The old lady had a half dozen champions of the tongue down upon her at once.

"No, no, Mrs. Lane," said one, "you judge Nat too severely. There is no one who attends to his work more closely than he does. You never heard one of his employers complain that he was indifferent to his business."

"He only employs his leisure moments in study," said another; "and I think that is much to his credit. If more boys in the village were like him, it would be vastly to our credit, and theirs, too."

"Yes," added a third; "and you may be sure that when a boy is reading during his evenings, and at other spare moments, he is out of mischief, and that is something in these days. There are parents in this town who never know that their sons are spending their leisure time well, because they are so often getting into bad scrapes. I guess if we could look into the tavern some evenings, we should find some of them there smoking and drinking."

"Wall," replied the old lady, "that may all be true enough, but too many edicated men are worse than none at all."

"Not if they earn their living, as Nat does, and get an education into the bargain," said one of the former speakers. "There is no danger that our sons and daughters will know too much. Most of them are satisfied with knowing too little."

"Wall, edication is good enough in its place," added Mrs. Lane, "but what does Nat 'spect to do with it in the machine-shop? You won't make me b'lieve that larning is good for anybody who will have no use for it. 'Spose a farmer studies the lor, what good will it do him if he only farms it? It will do him more hurt than good, because he will be nuther one thing nor 'tother. If we have farmers, let's have farmers, and if we have machinists, let's have machinists."

"Perhaps Nat will not always work at his trade," suggested one of the company. "There are many self-made men who are now serving society much better than they would be if they had continued to work at manual labor."

"Yis, that's it," exclaimed the old lady, with some earnestness; "that is jist what it will come to. These boys who take so to book larning will stop working soon as they b'lieve they can get their bread and butter by their wits. That's jist what I meant in the fust place. I hear 'um tell that Nat goes to Boston nights to hear some great speakers, and comes home afterwards, and I thinks it is ventersome. I'd never let a son of mine do it, in this world."

"Why? why?" inquired two or three voices at once.

"Why? a good reason why. You never know'd a boy who can be trusted in Boston nights. You don't know where they'll go to, and if ye do, there are sharpers on the lookout to lead them into evil. And who knows but robbers might seize him on his way back? I should think the boy was crazy."

"It is only an illustration of his energy and perseverance, Mrs. Lane," said one of the ladies. "He is determined to know something, though he has no time to learn except in his leisure hours; and it is really surprising how much a person may acquire by industry in these fragments of time."

"There's a nuther thing, too," continued Mrs. Lane. "I hear 'um tell that Nat carts a book about in his pocket all the time he works. Pretty business, I think, for a youngster like him to try to be a scholar and worker at once! It's all proof to me that taking to books so will spile him for any thing."

"One thing is certain, Mrs. Lane, that he does not mean to waste any time; for the book in his pocket is to take out when he has a minute to spare. If he gets only ten minutes in a day to read, that will be one hour in the six working days, which is worth saving. That single hour a day, in a lifetime, would give a man considerable knowledge."

"Wall, it's no use arguing about it. Times are so diff'rent now from what they was when I was young, and peoples thinks so diff'rent, that it 'pears to me sometimes that the world is going to rack and ruin. We got along well 'nough fifty or sixty years ago without so much edication. But folks are got to be so stylish now, and boys know so much more than their grandpas, that I railly don't know what'll come on us."

"After all, Mrs. Lane, I think you would rather have more boys like Nat, than like some others I could name," said a former speaker.

"Lor, yis," she replied; "I guess I should. I allers liked Nat. He's a rale clever feller as ever lived, and he ain't stuck-up by his smartness, and he likes to see everybody well used. I larfed myself most to death when I heard about his waitin' on Hanner Mann to the party. It's jist like Nat, he can't bear to see anybody slighted."

"I like to see that," answered one of the number; "it is a good sign. He thought Hannah and her sister were slighted because their father was poor and intemperate, and they were not able to dress quite so well as some others, and this excited his sympathies, so that he was determined they should go to the party."

"I know'd all about that," replied Mrs. Lane, "and that's what pleased me so, to see a youngster like him so inderpendent, and stand up for good folks if they are poor."

The reference here to an incident of Nat's youthful experience needs explanation, as the fact illustrates an element of his character from childhood, and furnishes additional reason for the course in which his sympathies and better feelings ran thereafter. Nat and Charlie had received invitations to a social gathering, in connection with their companions, and the following conversation and decision occurred with reference to attending.

"There is Hannah Mann, and her sister," said Nat, "they never go. Nobody thinks they are good enough to associate with them, because they are poor and unable to dress as well as some others."

"I have observed it," answered Charlie. "Some of the girls are always making sport of them, and I doubt if any of the fellows ever waited upon them. Yet they are as good as the best of them, for aught I know."

"That is true," added Nat; "they appear well, and are good scholars, and know twice as much as some of the girls who slight them. A splendid silk dress would not improve their characters at all, though it might their personal appearance. I will tell you what I will do, Charlie; if you will wait upon one of them, I will upon the other. What do you say to it?"

"I say amen to it," answered Charlie. "They are as good as I am any day, and I ought not to endanger the characters of those who are better by going with them."

"I am in earnest. I mean just what I say," continued Nat.

"So am I in earnest," said Charlie, smiling. "Did you think I am joking?"

"I thought you looked rather unbelieving, as if you imagined I was jesting."

"No such thing; your proposition rather pleased me than otherwise."

"Well, then," said Nat, "it is settled that we go to the party, and wait upon these girls, is it?"

"Certainly, if you say so."

This decision was carried out. The two sisters were escorted to the party by Nat and Charlie, to the surprise of some of the better apparelled girls, who were secretly hoping to be the fortunate ones themselves. The incident created quite a sensation among the young people. At first, they did not quite understand it; but they were not long in discovering that Nat intended to rebuke their ungenerous treatment of these girls. Some were inclined to exhibit a little resentment; but they soon perceived that it would only make a bad matter worse. Nat "laughed behind his ears" to see how the thing worked, and many a knowing glance was exchanged with Charlie in the course of the evening. Before sun-down, on the following day, the facts in the case were known by many of the villagers. The aristocratic ones sneered at the act, while others commended it as the fruit of a generous spirit. On the whole, it did much good in the community, because it caused many persons to see the unkindness and even cruelty of slighting the worthy, on account of their humble origin and circumstances.

That decision and independence, which aided Nat so much in his studies, enabled him to perform this act. An irresolute, dull, stupid, inefficient youth, would not have braved the current of feeling that had set against the girls. In this way it is, that the leading elements of character hitherto discussed assist a youth in all circumstances. He is more of a man in doing both little and great things. They dignify common politeness as really as they do achievements in art and science. They make the gentleman as truly as the scholar. Robert Burns was once walking in the streets of Edinburgh, in company with an aristocratic associate, when the latter rebuked him for stopping to speak to a rough but worthy farmer who had come to market, and Burns' reply evinced just the spirit which Nat admired. "Why, you fantastic gomeral," said he, "it was not the great coat, the scone bonnet, and the saunders boots hose that I spoke to, but the man that was in them; and the man, sir, for true worth, would weigh down you and me, and ten more such, any day."



CHAPTER XXI.

GOING TO THE THEATRE.

Nat had become an admirer of Shakspeare's dramatic works, and hour after hour he read them with increasing interest. The more he studied them, the more he saw to admire. He had never seen one of them acted on the stage, and, in connection with the displays of eloquence to which he had been a witness of late, he became desirous of witnessing a theatrical performance. To heighten his interest, he saw it announced that the elder Booth would perform in Boston on a given night. He resolved to go.

"Marcus," said he, "did you know that Booth is to perform at the theatre in Boston on Monday night?"

"No," answered Marcus, "is it so?"

"It is so announced in the papers, and I think I shall go."

"And walk?" inquired Marcus.

"Yes; I can walk there as well as to walk to Faneuil Hall to hear Webster and Everett."

"You won't get home till morning."

"I can get home by one o'clock, and possibly before. I wish you would go, and Frank and Charlie."

"I will go if they will," answered Marcus. "I should like to see a tragedy acted for once."

"It is said that Booth is one of the best readers and speakers of Shakspeare," continued Nat, "and I want to hear him. He is a great imitator, and personates the different characters exactly. I don't feel that I know how to read Shakspeare very well; perhaps I can learn something about it from him."

It was decided to consult Frank and Charlie, and secure their company if possible. Both of them yielded to the proposition, though Charlie suggested,

"That many people would think they were hurrying to ruin if they should hear of their going."

"Perhaps they will," said Nat, "and I have no doubt that many persons have been ruined by going; but they did not go for the same object that we go. I am not going just for the pleasure of witnessing the play, by any means; I want to see how the actors personate the different characters. To read Shakspeare well, it must be read just as it is spoken."

"No one will stop to consider your motive in going, nor mine," said Charlie. "They think that the theatre is a bad place, and see not why it will ruin one and not another."

"Well, I shall do as I think it is best for myself," answered Nat, in that spirit of independence and self-reliance for which he was known; "I shall go once to see, and if I think I can learn any thing to my advantage, I shall go again, and stop when I have obtained what I want."

"That's cool enough," said Frank; "you would make a good refrigerator in dog-days. Perhaps you intend to be an actor?"

"No, I don't fancy the business. I shall be satisfied to see one."

Some of their friends propounded objections to this project, but they were overruled by a full and clear statement of their object in going. Then, too, the general good character which they bore, and their usual prudence in avoiding bad company, combined to remove more easily all the objections propounded.

The evening of the entertainment was pleasant, and it was indeed a new step for them, as we see them standing at the entrance of the theatre. To how many it has been the turning point of life! "Entrance to the Pit," they read in capitals, with a hand pointing thither,—and to how many it has been emphatically the entrance to the pit, in a most appalling sense! It was a hazardous experiment for Nat and his companions,—even more dangerous than the attempt to swim four rods under water. But they entered with the multitude who were pouring in, drawn thither by the popularity of the actor announced. The play commenced, and scene after scene passed before the eyes of Nat, every word of which he had read over and over again; but now, for the first time, he beheld the characters in living persons. To him it was putting the breath of life into what was before beautiful but dead. The play that was classic and charming to read, was now human-like and wonderful to act. There was more force, meaning, and power in the text than he had ever attached to it,—much as he had loved to read it. Closely he observed the distinguished actor, noticing the utterance of every word, and the significance of every gesture and motion, with sharp discrimination, until he almost felt that he could do the like himself. It was a memorable evening to Nat, and language could scarcely express all he thought and felt.

"Nat, you will like Shakspeare better than ever now, will you not?" said Charlie.

"More than that," replied Nat. "It seems to me I never understood that play before. I was reading it the other day, but it is so much more grand when spoken and acted, that I should hardly know it."

"Did you observe the bar when you was coming out?" inquired Frank, addressing himself to Marcus.

"Yes, and I thought by the appearance they did quite a business in the line of drinking."

"They always have bars in theatres," said Nat, "and that is one reason why they lead persons to ruin. No doubt many are drawn there as much by the bar as they are by the play."

"What is the reason they can't have a theatre without having such vices connected with it?" inquired Charlie.

"Because they don't try," answered Nat. "I suppose that theatres are generally managed by men who are in favor of drinking, and they would not shut out such things of course. I think that men of principle might establish one that would be unobjectionable; for they would allow no such evils to be harbored there."

"Perhaps you can get Parson Fiske and Deacon White to get one up," said Marcus, laughing at Nat's suggestion, "and then you won't have to walk ten miles and back to witness a play."

"Ten miles or not," said Nat, "I have been well paid to-night. There is a great deal to be learned in witnessing one such performance. I can read Shakspeare now with more interest and profit than ever. I want to hear 'The Tempest' played now, and 'King Lear,' and 'Hamlet,' and 'Romeo and Juliet,' and I mean to the first chance I have."

"Ah, Nat," said Charlie, "I see that it is a foregone conclusion with you,—you are half ruined now—the more you have, the more you want. We shall be obliged to look after him more closely," addressing the last sentence to Marcus and Frank.

"Yes," added Marcus, "by the time he has heard all these plays, he will be patronizing that bar, and we shall see him reported in the Police Court in the morning."

By the time the clock struck one, Nat was at home. His visit to the theatre was not kept secret. It was soon quite generally known that he had been to the theatre, and many remarks were elicited by the fact. Good people did not respect theatres more at that time than they do now, so that they regarded this step of Nat as taken in the wrong direction.

"I am afraid that all the hopes Nat has raised among his friends will be dashed now," said one. "When a youth gets to going to the theatre, there is little hope of his doing well. I hardly thought this of him."

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