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had, where four or five young girls were busily engaged in millinery; sat down to a frugal breakfast; entered into con. versation about London and Londoners, Ireland and the Irish, Scotland and the Scotch; and, on leaving, received an imperative invitation to dinner, as she said her husband would be delighted to see me; and he was delighted, and a friendship was cemented, which, though once interrupted by an unforeseen circumstance, remains up to the present time in all the warmth of true sincerity.
Of this flourishing and happy family, for the exercise of thy Head and Heart, I shall give thee a few details.
Mrs. Docherty, the mother of Mrs. Smiles, was a widow, with five young daughters; and finding hardships in Ireland which she thought she could avoid in England, she emigrated to London, where she earned an honest livelihood by following the business of a milliner. Her daughters grew up, and the industry of the mother being rooted in the children, she became, what is termed, well-to-do in the world.
Mrs. Docherty had also a niece in London; an actress of great ability.
Mr. Smiles, in his amateur love for the histrionic art, formed the acquaintance of Miss E-, and when she was attacked by ill-health, he worked and struggled to support her.
She died, and Mr. Smiles having been informed by the deceased that she had an aunt and several cousins in London, in fulfilment of her dying request, asked them to the funeral. In gratitude to the man who had done so much for the niece, Mrs. Docherty invited him to her home, although his thin and haggard appearance showed evident signs of dissipation. Her judicious daughter, Miss Docherty, saw in his acts towards her departed cousin the bright rays that the jewel of his heart had shed forth ; she received him kindly; gave invitation after invitation ; found out that under her influence his habits were fast improving; accepted him as a lover ; and afterwards for a husband.
And what sort of husband did he make ?
A head was here united to a heart; and when the heart rebelled, gentle and persuasive means brought it within proper control. Miss Docherty, on her becoming Mrs. Smiles, did not leave off her industrious habits. She still continued her business ; she did more—she taught her husband the nature of a savings' bank; till he at length, with her, prided himself in the weekly amount which both added to the little fund which his wife, as Miss Docherty, had amassed. A steady and regular deposit of small sums soon swells up to a large amount. Mr. Smiles took a pattern by his wife, and started up as a small master in his own business. He succeeded; but he never was stingily sparing, nor did he deprive himself of the frugal enjoyments of life. To live well is to live frugally, not miserly. Many a happy excursion have we had together; and now the once thin, the once emaciated Smiles, struts about a Falstaff in size, a face full of happiness and good-humour; a cheerful wife and happy children to lighten the little troubles of business ; and the knowledge of having a good banking account and funded property to brighten up his jocund heart.
After breakfasting with Mrs. Smiles, I took a letter of introduction from my pocket, and asking the locality of the gentleman to whom it was addressed, left, promising to return at one o'clock to dinner.
I presented my letter to Mr. W- a fine old gentleman, whose good-humoured countenance and smiling face indicated that warmth of heart which he possessed in no ordinary degree. When he had perused the letter, he looked at me, and said smilingly to his head clerk, “I say, Robert, this is a young countryman of ours; he has brought a letter from your cousin."
“Yes,” I said; "and my cousin, Mr. Mac, sends his kind compliments to Mr. Robert. He told me he was your schoolfellow."
" Is Mr. a cousin of yours ?” “ Yes, sir."
Questions were put by both on different matters—the state of trade; if the “auld” town was still flourishing; how Soand-So was. One answer excited sympathy; another a laugh; so that, before returning to the purport of my visit, I was on familiar terms both with employer and employed.
" You want a situation immediately,” said the old gentleman. “ To-day, sir ; that is to say, if I can get one."
"Only arrived this morning, and want a situation so soon. Would you not like to see a little of London first?”
“ No, sir; away from business, I shall find plenty of time to visit the lions of London."
Being well dressed-new suit of black, new hat, and new shoes; the same in which I had lately followed a kind cousin to her last resting-place—he little thought that, after giving the soldier a shilling at Chatham, I had only thirteen shillings in my pocket. Besides, I had no one from whom I could borrow; nor did I ever dream of requiring it. On the contrary, I felt certain before the lapse of ten days I should be able to send something to cheer the hearts of the inmates of the happy home I had left.
My dear boy, if our desires are reasonable—if our plans for obtaining our object be in accordance with honour and good sense—the rule is that perseverance and industry will overcome difficulties ; failure forms the exception. It is common to hear people say, “How lucky he is ;” and “How unlucky I am.” There is luck in being born with a silver spoon in one's mouth; but it is not luck that keeps it there. The foolish expect luck, and even wait for it! the wise and energetic make luck for themselves.
I entered upon my first London duties, and passed the ordeal
that young men have to pass in entering, as actors term it, upon " The London boards."
Only two things worthy of observation occurred during my brief stay in my first London situation. One was that I had found out that on newspaper work quick hands could earn as much, if not more, in six hours than we did in ten.
The second was- Temptations were great, and to be delivered from them, self-control is indispensable.
I went to Mr. W—; asked him if he had any influence with the proprietor of the Sun ; told him that I was satisfied with my present situation, but that I had ascertained that on a newspaper I could save time, which saving I could place advantageously to my own account.
Oh, yes, yes! I will give you a letter." The good old gentleman gave me a letter, and I succeeded.
In securing my second situation, tact was required; but
you must not associate tact with deceit. The former is justifiable, as it is the result of wisdom and discretion ; the latter is at all times despicable, because it is the wisdom of evil—the bitter and unwholesome fruit of the forbidden tree.
My second situation, being one of the best in the business, was, consequently, difficult to obtain. More than a letter of recommendation was required; for, with the overseer, excuses are current; and a promise no sooner given than forgotten, sums up-using poor Paddy's expression—(one of the men in the office) “ the tot of the whole” of a letter of recommendation.
I presented my letter to the proprietor ; who read it, looked at me, then, returning it, said, 6 Go up stairs;
ask for Mr. Smith, my overseer ; give him the letter (to which he had added a few words), and should there be a vacancy you shall have it. If not, you will stand first on the list.”
I politely thanked the gentleman, obeyed his order, and presented my letter.
" Fresh from the north ; a good workman ?"
“ Yes, from Paisley," was my reply to the first question ; "I have never been considered a bad one,” was my answer to the second.
“I don't think I can find a vacancy; but should I be able, I suppose you would have no objection to lodge at my house. We have a spare room ?”
" It matters little to me where I lodge; only the poor old couple where I am at present treat me with all the affection of parents; and parting from them would, I am sure, be painful.”
Here a tall man, with light curly locks, interrupted us with his rough, jocular voice. He was the sub. ; that is, the second in office.
“What ! a fresh arrival! By St. Andrew! all Scotland will soon be here."
Pleased with the look of the intruder, though astonished at his familiarity with his superior, I replied, half-laughing, " What strange people you Londoners are; to call a sort of castaway supplicant a fresh arrival. I thought that that title belonged only to the nobility when travelling.”
66 Never mind; you are a decent-looking callant ; so come and sit beside me; then you can tell me all the news. I'll report the affairs of the nation to the governor. What say you, my worthy chief?”
66. All right Gal. Take him with you."
I followed my humorous townsman ; who, giving me a seat beside his own, resumed his work.
66 Well! what about the auld town? Is it still standin'in the same place; and does it still flourish ; and is the tree there that never grew; and is the fish there that never swam, and the bell there that never rang; eh, man ?”
66. Just as of yore, sir; but as for the bell that never rang, I suppose you mean the bell that's never done ringing.”
Here Gal fixed his humorous eyes on me, and laughing, said, “ You're a young deevil; and it wouldn't surprise me