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of wall was soon up, and the old man pronounced it tolerably fair; and before the sun went down, I was an accomplished wall-layer. I finished the job with neatness and dispatch; and my fame soon went abroad as a tip-top wall-layer. Thus my character was readily established, and I that season in laying stone-walls.
spent most of
Now, I hold that we can rightly estimate the blessings of society and other enjoyments, temporal as well as spiritual, only as we are deprived of them; and that pleasure comes by contrast: thus it was that I could not but compare the life I was then enjoying, with that which I had been enduring as a collier, and as a furnace man; and how sensibly was I daily impressed with my happier condition, when the good old lady sounded her conch-shell for dinner, which was generally composed in those days of a large Indian pudding boiled in a bag made for the purpose, or in a stocking-leg, corresponding in size to the size of the family that was to be the happy partakers of the wholesome repast. It is quite possible that the squeamish noses of these more effeminate times would be turned up at so homely an idea. But you must know, dear reader, that those were the days of frugal simplicity and economy. After a stocking had warmed a foot during a cold winter, and now at length had allowed the heel and toes to peep out at the windows, what business is it to you or me, my friend, if the good matron should think proper to cut off the foot, and
tie a hank of thrums around the bottom, after having washed it clean, and then to make a delicious pudding in it? What is it to us, whether the old man, the old woman, or the pretty daughter had worn that stocking, provided the pudding be good and enough of it? Prejudice often spoils some people's dinners; and some people are more squeamish about an idea, a whim, a mere phantasm of a too sensitive, but (often) senseless brain, than about a real, substantial, tangible choker, whereat a proper sensibility might well revolt. Are we not told in the good book to eat whatsoever is set before us? When the aforesaid pudding was snugly tied at both ends, it was soused into a large dinner-pot, and then boiled with pork, potatoes, and other vegetables, until all was thoroughly cooked; and when the hungry labourers were summoned from the field by the welcome blast of the loud-sounding conch, they were seated down to the above-mentioned luxuries, neatly arranged on two large bright pewter platters, which had passed down through many generations. The young children were furnished with wooden trenchers, and occupied their proper places. Here was a lovely scene-here was health and good appetitehere were robust men, and buxom women-and here we realized the words of the wise man, that "food as well as rest is sweet to the labouring man." When the dinner was over, instead of being hurried away into the old coal-house, we retired into an adjoining room, or, perhaps, to a well-swept barn floor,
there to enjoy our "noon spell" in listening to the music of an old-fashioned instrument played by the fair hand of the farmer's daughter; and many times the neighbouring girls would bring in their musical instruments and join in sweet concert, while mellifluent voices, base and treble, filled the rich measures of the choir. How sad that such music is no longer heard -that that old instrument, the delight of our grandmothers, is now almost obsolete, and its very name is numbered among the things that were; an instrument that, while it delighted the ear of the farmer with its merry buzz, imparted a glow of freshness and healthful beauty to the cheek of his blithesome daughter. If any of my younger readers are at a loss to know what musical instrument I refer to, they can inquire of their grandmother, and she will give them a full account of it.
But before closing this chapter, allow me to impart some instruction, drawn from the small portion of my experience in business already introduced. In the first place, I would say to the young man who is poor and just starting out into the world, that this jobbing-about business is not, in the long run, the most profitable. You may get larger wages while at work; but, then, there are your rainy days to be deducted, and your loss of time from one job to another; and then your expenses in travelling about from pillar to post in search of profitable jobs, will just about use up all you make, to say nothing of the irregular and unsteady habits they thus
establish. It is the continued dropping that wears away the stone, and not the torrent or the flood, whose force is soon spent. Accordingly, the man that works for small wages, but keeps steadily at work, and frugally husbands what he earns, will at all times have a competency; and, in the end, have a stock of comforts laid up for a rainy day, and for a good old age: not so with him who experiments on fortune, and expects to get rich at a single throw of the die. Fortune is a fickle coquette, and after wheedling her votaries for a while, is very apt to jilt them at the last. Her lavish favours are sometimes but the precursors of her withering frowns-her smiles often conceal her victim's fate. But diligent industry, patient labour, humble merit, and honest integrity, need only look for Heaven's blessings, and the end is sure. The kind of business is not so material, if it be but reputable and innocent; but it is all-important that it be a steady business. Pride too often controls young men in the selection of an employment, and fickleness the execution of it. The former bankrupts thousands-the latter makes vagrants of many; thus the world is full of proud beggars and enterprising vagabonds. Idleness, indolence, pride, and prodigality, all belong to one family, and are generally the companions of irregular habits. How many young men spend their summers in labour, and their winters in frolicking; toil hard from spring to autumn, for the benefit of the tailor, the tavern-keeper, and the fiddler, from autumn to
spring; and in the spring they start out again, poor as church mice, to mend their fortunes, and to prepare for the follies of the succeeding winter: and thus youth is spent in preparing poverty and sorrows for old age, unless a premature death in mercy ends the scene. These too often see their errors when too late, if they ever allow themselves to see them at all: the iron sway of habit makes them willing slaves. Remember these things, my friends, and beware; and forget not the words of the wise man, that "the hand of the diligent shall bear rule; but the slothful shall be under tribute." Let us here end this chapter, and rest for a moment.
THE next spring, which, according to my best recollection, was in 1821, I hired myself to a Mr. Morgan, an old gentleman in Columbia, to work on a farm six months, and was to take for my pay a beautiful and spirited young mare, and ten dollars in money; which engagement I faithfully performed. It was discovered by some of the neighbours that she could run fast; and soon there was a bet thrown out by an antagonist for a trial of speed. This bet I refused; but it was taken by some of my neighbours, to whom I lent the mare. She gallantly won the race. But I had been effectually cured of the