tracted with the superintendent of the canal to do the principal iron work on about forty miles of the Erie Canal, for the State. This branch of business being under full headway, and having procured my materials for pocket-books, I employed twelve or fifteen young ladies, mostly farmers' daughters, to sew the pocket-books. They all boarded with me, and a more respectable and comely looking party of young women you could scarcely wish to look upon. Reader, pause a moment and look back but six months, where you find the author making his way out of the old church-yard of St. Paul's, and rescued from the old mill-dam; you see him deprived of sight and balancing between two worlds, his business affairs a heterogeneous mass of confusion: behold, and mark the change that a few short months have wrought, and hence learn never to despair as long as you have life, and a solitary red cent and a jack-knife to jingle together. Let faith and works go hand in hand in temporal affairs as well as spiritual.

When I arose from my sickness, six months previous, from the many losses I had suffered, I do not think I was worth over one hundred dollars: by the time five months had elapsed, I think I had my buildings nearly paid for by the profits I had received on my last lot of bells, and I now had in my employ upwards of thirty workmen, including the interesting collection of young ladies. What a field for a man of enterprise, and a lady's man withal! Be

sides these young ladies in my employ, my house was a rendezvous for all the young beaux and belles of the neighbourhood, and hilarity was generally the order of the day. I was constrained to put on as much gravity of look and dignity of deportment as I could assume, in order to preserve that order in the ranks which decorum as well as pecuniary considerations demanded; still there was any quantity of fun and frolic to be had. In reviewing those young ladies, then so full of mirth and apparent happiness, I find they have many of them gone to the spirit-land. But spring came on; and by the time the canal opened, I had a large quantity of bells and pocket-books ready for market. My bells I readily disposed of in New-York, and made money on them; but unfortunately for my pocket-books, I lost about as much on them as I made on my bells. The New-England folks had taken the hint as to the pocket-book speculation, (they are generally wide awake for novelties,) and made enough that winter to glut the whole market; and the East River having opened about ten days earlier than the Hudson, my Yankee neighbours had got the start of me, and reduced me to the unpoetical necessity of disposing of mine at the best rate I might, at public auction. Thus what I made on one lot, I lost on the other. But then business is business, and I had had the satisfaction of driving a smacking enterprise with no little gusto. I realized here, as many times afterwards, the significance of the words of the satirist :

"The King of France went up the hill,
And then went down again."

I returned home, where (having dismissed my help before starting for New-York) I found my house and my shop empty and silent. Desolation brooded over the scene.

"I felt like one who treads alone
Some banquet hall deserted,

Whose lights are fled whose garlands dead,
And all but he departed."

Or, like Richard III., I felt that "I never could endure an inglorious peace." It was like a sickening calm succeeding a rough sea.


SOON after my return from New-York, as before related, when desolation brooded over my earthly habitation, and when grim despair would have paralyzed the energies of a less elastic disposition, I entered upon another project, which, like every former undertaking, seemed to promise a fortune. I resolved to build a large tavern in the village of Frankfort, having a strong desire to build up the place, which was then in its infancy; and it was the opinion of many knowing ones of my neighbours that another public house would be supported, there already being one, as before stated, in the village.

Having resolved to commence it, and knowing that I had not sufficient capital to complete it, I made an agreement with Adam I. Campbell, a resident of the place, for him to advance money and goods to assist me in the completion of it, at the same time placing all my property in his hands as an indemnity against any loss; expecting, when it should be completed, to raise money on it by mortgage whereby to pay Mr. Campbell and redeem my property; and thus Mr. C. would turn many of his goods into money, at the same time that I should establish my public house, and add much to the business and beauty of the place. In spite of the impediments of a rainy autumn, in less than three months I erected a large brick edifice, together with a large barn and shed, besides one or two other dwelling-houses, and had them all completed. But instead of its costing about $1,200, as had been estimated, it cost more than $2,000. Failing to mortgage it, I also failed to recover it from Mr. C.'s hands; and he, having stopped payments after advancing about half its cost, and leaving me to shoulder the rest of the debt without anything to pay with, still holds on to the property to the present day.

At this time I think my debts in the village did not exceed one hundred and fifty dollars, besides this debt to Mr. Campbell; and these were owing to honest and industrious mechanics, and it is greatly to be regretted that some of them remain unpaid to the present time. But I was compelled, by one of

my principal debts in the city of New-York, to "take the benefit of the act" to prevent a merciless ca. sa., as the lawyers call it, from consigning me to the walls of a debtor's prison, or restricting my residence within the "limits," among a set of lazy loafers—an unpleasant alternative, it is true, for an honest man, but one which a man of my habits of life, who loved action and his personal liberty as I did, could not hesitate to choose. Yet I resolved, before taking the benefit of the act, to make one more effort to pay my debts without being reduced to that humiliating necessity. I went to Herkimer and united with Mr. William Small in making up a large quantity of cow-bells. He was to find the materials and I to do the work.

I worked faithfully during that winter, and turned out a large quantity of fine bells, while all the stock and bells, meantime, were in the hands of Mr. S., with a private understanding between us that I should have all the profits arising from the sale of them, to pay my honest liabilities, he standing between me and my merciless creditor. But it finally turned out much like the fable of the two travellers, who found an oyster, and submitted the question of title to an ingenious lawyer, they being unable to settle the point between themselves; the lawyer, you remember, took out his jack-knife, opened the oyster, swallowed the meat himself, and gave each disputant a shell for his share, which was doubtless very satisfactory to both. So it happened with the debtor

« VorigeDoorgaan »