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The momentary buzz of vain renown!
A name! a mortal immortality!
Or (meaner still) instead of grasping air,
Drudge, sweat, through every shame, for every gain,
Our hope in heaven, our dignity with man,
Which goad through every slough our human herd,
How low the wretches stoop! how steep they climb!
Before closing this chapter, I have a single important piece of business to speak of, which I was not permitted to introduce in its proper place, on account of a press of much grosser operations which demanded our attention. It may have been supposed, from the lugubrious aspect of my business undertakings, that all my contracts were doomed to be disastrous; and it may have seemed that railroads, and canals, and lumbering, and building houses and mills engrossed my whole attention, and left no room for gentler matters. But not so, my friends. That rich Cumberland Valley, which I have told you contained those wide-spreading and luxuriant farms, studded with magnificent brick and stone dwellings and barns, contained also, I did not tell you how many or how lovely young ladies, that were enough to move the heart of any man. and especially of a "lady's man," (as I have been described,) to tenderness, and to compete with rail
roads and canals for a share of his attention. You have already seen, in the earlier part of my history, that I was not in the least tinctured with a monkish indifference to those gentle creatures whom Byron would call "the precious porcelain of human clay." Nay, truly I could say, with Hudibras, when railroads and canals, and steam saw-mills, and lumbering, were making me as busy as a general at the head of his army, and even when fortune was lowering upon me her bitterest frowns:
"Quoth he, "To bid me not to love,
Is to forbid my pulse to move,
My beard to grow, my ears to stick up,
It was in the midst of my engagements on the Franklin Railroad, in 1837, that I became acquainted with Miss Susan C. Brown, of one of the most ancient families of Franklin County, Pa. Her father was then living on the farm of his nativity, located in this lovely Cumberland Valley, which had been taken up in a state of nature by his grandfather, a hundred and fourteen years before, and it continued in the family down to the time of her father's death, which occurred about three years ago. Nearly twenty years had now passed, since my first adventure in the courting line, in the enjoyment of what is called "single blessedness." I had often heard it said that matches were made in heaven; but from many domestic exhibitions I had witnessed in the course of my life, I had concluded
that many matches were made in that other place. The fact is, matrimony is much like Jeremiah's figs, -it is either passing sweet, or too sour to be endured. But, nevertheless, I soon found my heart right seriously involved with the daughter of Mr. Brown, and fully resolved to forswear a life of celibacy, for she seemed the one by Heaven designed to make me happy. The preliminaries and negotiation of contract (which it is needless to say more of than that they were done up in the most business-like manner, accompanied with all the palpitation of heart and refusal of the tongue to perform its office, which usually characterize this sort of negotiations, where true sentiment is involved,) occupied a space of time of about six months, when at length the treaty of alliance was signed, sealed and delivered, and duly ratified on the morning of the 5th of June, 1838, in Mr. Brown's large stone mansion, in the presence of a large number of friends. We immediately came to the north to visit my friends, and soon returned to the south, where we continued till about a year and a half since, which will hereafter be spoken of. Though my other engagements were most of them disastrous in the end, this, I thank God, has been fortunate. Fortune may have frowned upon my worldly prospects, but Heaven blessed me with a wife. Surely,
"Man's fate and favours are a theme in heaven."
Here I have a little bank of affection and love, that
has never ceased to discount in the hour of affliction and woe. Indeed, in the time of the darkest trials, there are no panics and suspending of specie-payments, but it is then that my drafts, if possible, are most readily and liberally honoured. Such a corporation as this I am bound to support while life shall last. Woman! thy affections are exhaustless! the chain of thy love adversity but renders stronger -death itself cannot sever it! Thou art a ministering angel, in mercy sent to cheer our pathway through the gloom of life.
Here ended my courtships and flirtations with the ladies, and here let us end this chapter.
IN introducing my spiritual life and experience, it becomes necessary to speak of one more and the last contract I had on the public works. This ended in my temporal blindness, and the beginning of some of the special providences of God which brought me from nature's darkness to his most marvellous light. Gladly would I have placed all the affairs of my contracts, and temporal transactions, in the previous part of this work; but as it is so blended with my spiritual life, I am obliged to make use of this contract as a link uniting my temporal and spiritual experience. Glad shall I be
when my mind is relieved from gathering up the incidents and accidents that happened to me on public works, and when it may dwell uninterruptedly on serious subjects. And may the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, teach me in all things, and bring all things to my remembrance whatsoever he hath spoken unto me. (John xiv, 26.)
I was just now drifted ashore again on a mere floating-plank, having lost, by the Franklin Railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, between five and six thousand dollars. Here, then, being offered in market, by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company for contract, one hundred miles of road, or six million feet of timber, to be delivered on the northern limits of Virginia, I at once contracted with them to furnish forty miles of said road, commencing at the United States Arsenal and running westward. This amounted to about two millions and a half feet. Soon after I also contracted with the same company to furnish two hundred thousand tree nails, or wooden pins, one foot long and eight square. I agreed to take scrip, issued on a loan from the city of Baltimore, which was then the circulating medium of that country. It was a rare thing in those days to see a bank note, and with much difficulty the citizens procured specie sufficient to pay their postage, which was, however, rigidly demanded by the Postmaster-General. I had also agreed to do this great work in the short space of eight months. The reader will here perceive