"Henderson," said Bolton to me, one day, "how long are you engaged on the Democracy?"

"Only for this year," said I.

"Because," said he, "I have something to propose to you which I hope may prove a better thing. Hestermann & Co. sent for me yesterday in secret session. The head manager of their whole set of magazines and papers has resigned, and is going to travel in Europe, and they want me to take the place."

"Good! I am heartily glad of it," said I. "I always felt that you were not in the position that you ought to have. You will accept, of course."

"Whether I accept or not depends on you," he replied.

"I cannot understand," said I.

"In short, then," said he, "the responsibility is a heavy one, and I cannot undertake it without a partner whom I can trust as myself—I mean," he added, "whom I can trust more than myself."

"You are a thousand times too good," said I. "I should like nothing better than such a partnership, but I feel oppressed by your good opinion. Are you sure that I am the one for you?"

"I think I am," said he, "and it is a case where I am the best judge; and it offers to you just what you want—a stable position, independence to express yourself, and a good income. Hestermann & Co. are rich, and wise enough to know that liberality is the best policy."

"But," said I, "their offers are made to you, and not to me."

"Well, of course, their acquaintance with me is of old standing; but I have spoken to them of you, and I am to bring you round to talk with them to-morrow; but, after all, the whole power of arranging is left with me. They put a certain sum at my disposal, and I do what I please with it. In short," he said, smiling, "I hold the living, and you are my curate. Well," he added, "of course you need time to think matters over; here is paper on which I have made a little memorandum of an arrangement between us; take it and dream on it, and let me know to-morrow what you think of it."

I went to my room and unfolded the agreement, and found the terms liberal beyond all my expectations. In fact, the income of the principal was awarded to me, and that of the subordinate to Bolton.

I took the paper the next evening to Bolton's room. "Look here, Bolton," said I, "these terms are simply absurd."

"How so?" he said, lifting his eyes tranquilly from his book. "What's the matter with them?"

"Why, you give me all the income."

"Wait till you see how I'll work you," he said, smiling. "I'll get it out of you; you see if I don't."

"But you leave yourself nothing."

"I have as much as I would have, and that's enough. I'm a literary monk, you know, with no family but Puss and Stumpy, poor fellow, and I need the less."

Stumpy upon this pricked up his ragged ears with an expression of lively satisfaction, sat back on his haunches, and rapped the floor with his forlorn bit of a tail.

"Poor Stumpy," said Bolton, "you don't know that you are the homeliest dog in New York, do you? Well, as far as you go, you are perfect goodness, Stumpy, though you are no beauty."

Upon this high praise, Stumpy seemed so elated that he stood on his hind paws and rested his rough fore-feet on Bolton's knee, and looked up with eyes of admiration.

"Man is the dog's God," said Bolton. "I can't conceive how any man can be rude to his dog. A dog," he added, fondling his ragged cur, "why, he's nothing but organized love—love on four feet, encased in fur, and looking piteously out at the eyes—love that would die for you, yet cannot speak—that's the touching part. Stumpy longs to speak; his poor dog's breast heaves with something he longs to tell me and can't. Don't it, Stumpy?"

As if he understood his master, Stumpy wheezed a doleful whine, and actual tears stood in his eyes.

"Well," said Bolton, "Stumpy has beautiful eyes; nobody shall deny that—there, there! poor fellow, maybe on the other shore your rough bark will develop into speech; let's hope so. I confess I'm of the poor Indian's mind, and hope to meet my dog in the hereafter. Why should so much love go out in nothing? Yes, Stumpy, we'll meet in the resurrection, won't we?" Stumpy barked aloud with the greatest animation.

"Bolton, you ought to be a family man," said I. "Why do you take it for granted that you are to be a literary monk, and spend your love on dogs and cats?"

"You may get married, Hal, and I'll adopt your children," said Bolton; "that's one reason why I want to establish you. You see, one's dogs will die, and it breaks one's heart. If you had a boy, now, I'd invest in him."

"And why can't you invest in a boy of your own?"

"Oh, I'm a predestined old bachelor."

"No such thing," I persisted, hardily, "Why do you immure yourself in a den? Why won't you go out into society? Here, ever since I've known you, you have been in this one cave—a New York hermit; yet if you would once begin to go into society, you'd like it."

"You think I haven't tried it; you forget that I am some years older than you are," said Bolton.

"You are a good-looking young fellow yet," said I, "and ought to make the most of yourself. Why should you turn all the advantages into my hands, and keep so little for yourself?"

"It suits me," said Bolton; "I am lazy—I mean to get the work out of you."

"That's all hum," said I; "you know well enough that you are not lazy; you take delight in work for work's sake."

"One reason I am glad of this position," he said, "is that it gives me a chance to manage matters a little, as I want them. For instance, there's Jim Fellows—I want to make something more than a mad Bohemian of that boy. Jim is one of the wild growths of our New York life; he is a creature of the impulses and the senses, and will be for good or evil according as others use him."

"He's capital company," said I, "but he doesn't seem to me to have a serious thought on any subject."

"And yet," said Bolton, "such is our day and time, that Jim is more likely than you or I to get along in the world. His cap and bells win favor everywhere, and the laugh he raises gives him the privilege of saying anything he pleases. For my part, I couldn't live without Jim. I have a weakness for him. Nothing is so precious to me as a laugh, and, wet or dry, I can always get that out of Jim. He'll work in admirably with us."

"One thing must be said for Jim," said I, "with all his keenness he's kind-hearted. He never is witty at the expense of real trouble. As he says, he goes for the under dog in the fight always, and his cheery, frisky, hit-or-miss morality does many a kind turn for the unfortunate, while he is always ready to help the poor."

"Jim is not of the sort that is going to do the world's thinking for them," said Bolton; "neither will he ever be one of the noble army of martyrs for principle. He is like a lively, sympathetic horse that will keep the step of the team he is harnessed in, and in the department of lively nonsense he'd do us yeoman service. Nowadays people must have truth whipped up to a white froth or they won't touch it. Jim is a capital egg-beater."

"Yes," said I; "he's like the horse that had the GO in him; he'll run any team that he's harnessed in, and if you hold the reins he won't run off the course."

"Then again," said Bolton, "there's your cousin; there is the editorship of our weekly journal will be just the place for her. You can write and offer it to her."

"Pardon me," said I, maliciously, "since you are acquainted with the lady, why not write and offer it yourself? It would be a good chance to renew your acquaintance."

Bolton's countenance changed, and he remained a moment silent.

"Henderson," he said, "there are very painful circumstances connected with my acquaintance with your cousin. I never wish to meet her, or renew my acquaintance with her. Sometime I will tell you why," he added.

The next evening I found on my table the following letter from Bolton:

Dear Henderson:—You need feel no hesitancy about accepting in full every advantage in the position I propose to you, since you may find it weighted with disadvantages and incumbrances you do not dream of. In short, I shall ask of you services for which no money can pay, and till I knew you there was no man in the world of whom I had dared to ask them. I want a friend, courageous, calm, and true, capable of thinking broadly and justly, one superior to ordinary prejudices, who may be to me another, and in some hours a stronger, self.

I can fancy your surprise at this language, and yet I have not read you aright if you are not one of a thousand on whom I may rest this hope.

You often rally me on my lack of enterprise and ambition, on my hermit habits. The truth is, Henderson, I am a strained and unseaworthy craft, for whom the harbor and shore are the safest quarters. I have lost trust in myself, and dare not put out to sea without feeling the strong hand of a friend with me.

I suppose no young fellow ever entered the course of life with more self-confidence. I had splendid health, high spirits, great power of application, and great social powers. I lived freely and carelessly on the abundance of my physical resources. I could ride, and row, and wrestle with the best. I could lead in all social gaieties, yet keep the head of my class, as I did the first two years of my college life. It seems hardly fair to us human beings that we should be so buoyed up with ignorant hope and confidence in the beginning of our life, and that we should be left in our ignorance to make mistakes which no after years can retrieve. I thought I was perfectly sure of myself; I thought my health and strength were inexhaustible, and that I could carry weights that no man else could. The drain of my wide-awake exhausting life upon my nervous system I made up by the insidious use of stimulants. I was like a man habitually overdrawing his capital, and ignorant to what extent. In my third college year this began to tell perceptibly on my nerves. I was losing self-control, losing my way in life; I was excitable, irritable, impatient of guidance or reproof, and at times horribly depressed. I sought refuge from this depression in social exhilaration, and having lost control of myself became a marked man among the college authorities; in short, I was overtaken in a convivial row, brought under college discipline, and suspended.

It was at this time that I went into your neighborhood to study and teach. I found no difficulty in getting the highest recommendations as to scholarship from some of the college officers who were for giving me a chance to recover myself; and for the rest I was thoroughly sobered and determined on a new course. Here commenced my acquaintance with your cousin, and there followed a few months remembered ever since as the purest happiness of my life. I loved her with all there was in me,—heart, soul, mind and strength,—with a love which can never die. She also loved me, more perhaps than she dared to say, for she was young, hardly come to full consciousness of herself. She was then scarcely sixteen, ignorant of her own nature, ignorant of life, and almost frightened at the intensity of the feeling which she excited in me, yet she loved me. But before we could arrive at anything like a calm understanding, her father came between us. He was a trustee of the Academy, and a dispute arose between him and me in which he treated me with an overbearing haughtiness which aroused the spirit of opposition in me. I was in the right and knew I was, and I defended my course before the other trustees in a manner which won them over to my way of thinking—a victory which he never forgave.

Previously to this encounter I had been in the habit of visiting in his family quite intimately. Caroline and I enjoyed that kind of unwatched freedom which the customs of New England allow to young people. I always attended her home from the singing-school and the weekly lectures, and the evening after my encounter with the trustees I did the same. At the door of his house he met us, and as Caroline passed in he stopped me, and briefly saying that my visits there would no longer be permitted, closed the door in my face. I tried to obtain an interview soon after, when he sternly upbraided me as one that had stolen into the village and won their confidence on false pretences, adding that if he and the trustees had known the full history of my college life I should never have been permitted to teach in their village or have access to their families. It was in vain to attempt a defense to a man determined to take the very worst view of facts which I did not pretend to deny. I knew that I had been irreproachable as to my record in the school, that I had been faithful in my duties, that the majority of parents and pupils were on my side; but I could not deny the harsh facts which he had been enabled to obtain from some secret enemy, and which he thought justified him in saying that he would rather see his daughter in her grave than to see her my wife. The next day Caroline did not appear in school. Her father, with prompt energy, took her immediately to an academy fifty miles away.

I did not attempt to follow her or write to her; a profound sense of discouragement came over me, and I looked on my acquaintance with her with a sort of remorse. The truth bitterly told by an enemy with a vivid power of statement is a tonic oftentimes too strong for one's power of endurance. I never reflected so seriously on the responsibility which a man assumes, in awakening the slumbering feelings of a woman, and fixing them on himself. Under the reproaches of Caroline's father I could but regard this as a wrong I had done, and which could be expiated only by leaving her to peace in forgetfulness.

I resolved that I would never let her hear from me again, till I had fully proved myself to be possessed of such powers of self-control as would warrant me in offering to be the guardian of her happiness.

But when I set myself to the work, I found what many another does, that I had reckoned without my host. The man who has begun to live and work by artificial stimulant, never knows where he stands, and can never count upon himself with any certainty. He lets into his castle a servant who becomes the most tyrannical of masters. He may resolve to turn him out, but will find himself reduced to the condition in which he can neither do with nor without him.

In short, the use of stimulant to the brain-power brings on a disease, in whose paroxysms a man is no more his own master than in the ravings of fever, a disease that few have the knowledge to understand, and for whose manifestations the world has no pity.

I cannot tell you the dire despair that came upon me, when after repeated falls, bringing remorse and self-upbraiding to me, and drawing upon me the severest reproaches of my friends, the idea at last flashed upon me that I had indeed become the victim of a sort of periodical insanity in which the power of the will was overwhelmed by a wild unreasoning impulse. I remember when a boy reading an account of a bridal party sailing gaily on the coast of Norway who were insidiously drawn into the resistless outer whirl of the great Maelström. The horror of the situation was the moment when the shipmaster learned that the ship no longer obeyed the rudder; the cruelty of it was the gradual manner in which the resistless doom came upon them. The sun still shone, the sky was still blue. The shore, with its green trees and free birds and blooming flowers, was near and visible as they went round and round in dizzy whirls, past the church with its peaceful spire, past the home cottages, past the dwelling of friends and neighbors, past parents, brothers, and sisters who stood on the shore warning and shrieking and entreating; helpless, hopeless, with bitterness in their souls, with all that made life lovely so near in sight, and yet cut off from it by the swirl of that tremendous fate!

There have been just such hours to me, in which I have seen the hopes of manhood, the love of woman, the possession of a home, the opportunities for acquisition of name, and position, and property, all within sight, within grasp, yet all made impossible by my knowledge and consciousness of the deadly drift and suction of that invisible whirlpool.

The more of manliness there yet is left in man in these circumstances, the more torture. The more sense of honor, love of reputation, love of friends, conscience in duty, the more anguish. I read once a frightful story of a woman whose right hand was changed to a serpent, which at intervals was roused to fiendish activity and demanded of her the blood of her nearest and dearest friends. The hideous curse was inappeasable, and the doomed victim spell-bound, powerless to resist. Even so the man who has lost the control of his will is driven to torture those he loves, while he shivers with horror and anguish at the sight.

I have seen the time when I gave earnest thanks that no woman loved me, that I had no power to poison the life of a wife with the fear, and terror, and lingering agony of watching the slow fulfillment of such a doom.

It is enough to say that with every advantage—of friends, patronage, position—I lost all.

The world is exigéant. It demands above everything that every man shall keep step. He who cannot, falls to the rear, and is gradually left behind as the army moves on.

The only profession left to me was one which could avail itself of my lucid intervals.

The power of clothing thought with language is in our day growing to be a species of talent for which men are willing to pay, and I have been able by this to make myself a name and a place in the world; and what is more, I hope to do some good in it.

I have reflected upon my own temptation, endeavoring to divest myself of the horror with which my sense of the suffering and disappointment I have caused my friends inspires me. I have settled in my own mind the limits of human responsibility on this subject, and have come to the conclusion that it is to be regarded precisely as Mary Lamb and Charles Lamb regarded the incursion of the mania which destroyed the peace of their life. A man who undertakes to comprehend, and cure himself, has to fight his way back alone. Nobody understands, nobody sympathizes with him, nobody helps him—not because the world is unfeeling, but because it is ignorant of the laws which govern this species of insanity.

It took me, therefore, a great while to form my system of self-cure. I still hope for this. I, the sane and sound, I hope to provide for the insane and unsound intervals of my life. And my theory is, briefly, a total and eternal relinquishment of the poisonous influence, so that nature may have power to organize new and healthy brain-matter, and to remove that which is diseased. Nature will do this, in the end, for she is ever merciful; there is always "forgiveness with her, that she may be feared." Since you have known me, you have seen that I live the life of an anchorite—that my hours are regular, that I avoid exciting society, that I labor with uniformity, and that I never touch any stimulating drink. It is a peculiarity of cases like mine that for lengths of time the morbid disease leaves us, and we feel the utmost aversion to any thing of the kind. But there is always a danger lying behind this subtle calm. Three or four drops of alcohol, such as form the basis of a tincture which a doctor will order without scruple, will bring back the madness. One five-minutes inadvertence will upset the painful work of years, and carry one away as with a flood. When I did not know this, I was constantly falling. Society through all its parts is full of traps and pitfalls for such as I, and the only refuge is in flight.

It has been part of my rule of life to avoid all responsibilities that might involve others in my liability to failure. It is now a very long time since I have felt any abnormal symptoms, and if I had not so often been thrown down after such a period of apparent calm, I might fancy my dangers over, and myself a sound man.

The younger Hestermann was a class-mate and chum of mine in college, and one whose friendship for me has held on through thick and thin. He has a trust in me that imposes on me a painful sense of responsibility. I would not fail him for a thousand worlds, yet if one of my hours of darkness should come I should fail ignominiously.

Only one motive determined me to take their offer—it gave me a chance to provide for you and for Caroline.

I dare do it only through trusting you for a friendship beyond that of the common; in short, for a brotherly kindness such as Charles Lamb showed to Mary, his sister. If the curse returns upon me, you must not let me ruin myself and you; you must take me to an asylum till I recover.

In asking this of you, I am glad to be able to offer what will be to you an independent position, and give you that home and fireside which I may not dare to hope for myself.

In the end, I expect to conquer, either here or hereafter. I believe in the Fatherhood of God, and that He has a purpose even in letting us blindly stumble through life as we do; and through all my weakness and unworthiness I still hold his hand. I know that the whole temptation is one of brain and nerves, and when He chooses He can release me. The poor brain will be cold and still for good and all some day, and I shall be free and able to see, I trust, why I have been suffered thus to struggle. After all, immortality opens a large hope, that may overpay the most unspeakable bitterness of life.

Meanwhile, you can see why I do not wish to be brought into personal relations with the only woman I have ever loved, or ever can love, and whose happiness I fear to put in peril. It is an unspeakable delight and relief to have this power of doing for her, but she must not know of it.

Also, let me tell you that you are to me more transparent than you think. It requires only the penetration of friendship to see that you are in love, and that you hesitate and hang back because of an unwillingness to match your fortunes with hers.

Let me suggest, do you not owe it as a matter of justice, after so much intimacy as has existed, to give her the opportunity to choose between a man and circumstances? If the arrangement between us goes into effect, you will have a definite position and a settled income. Go to her like a man and lay it before her, and if she is worthy of you she will come to you.

"He either dreads his fate too much,

Or his desert is small,

Who fears to put it to the touch,

To win or lose it all."

God grant you a home and fireside, Harry, and I will be the indulgent uncle in the chimney-corner.

Yours ever,


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