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« The noble heart that harbors virtuous thoughts,
And labors with a glorious great intent,
The next day Edward devoted himself to the examination of the papers relative to his failure; to ascertaining the number of his creditors, and the amount which, according to his views of duty, he justly owed them. Principal and interest to the last farthing, he determined to pay, he said to Amy, as he left her in the morning for his counting-room. “As I cannot help you there,” said his wife, “ I will do my part at home, which is to tell my father of
your resolution.” “ Poor Amy, you have far the worst task of the two; my heart is lighter and happier than it has been since I first viewed this subject rightly; but yours aches, I know, at giving pain to your father.”
“ It is but right,” said Amy, “that I should have my share of the suffering that belongs to this duty.”
She immediately went to her father's apartment. It had been a great pleasure to her and her husband to devote their most beautiful room to her father's particular use, and it gave her a pang, as she entered it, to think that they probably would have to change their place of abode, and that he would then be deprived of this, one of his very few sources of gratification.
Amy sat awhile in her father's room talking with him upon indifferent subjects, before she could gather sufficient courage to speak of the one on her mind, when Mr. Weston introduced a subject which naturally led to it. “I have done with this book, Amy ; I took it up from the breakfast table a day or two since, but I see from what little I have read of it that I should not relish it."
“What do you object to in it, father?”
“What he says upon the subject of a bankrupt’s paying his debts after he has settled with his creditors, is, in some respects, arrant nonsense.”
“ That happens to be the very subject, father, I came to talk about with you."
“My mind has been always made up upon this subject. A man ought to pay all he has, and then, if his creditors consent, he is free entirely afterwards.”
“ If, father, he acquires property again, and is able to pay, it seems to me he ought to pay them.”
“Many men of the first standing in society think very differently, and act otherwise, not only in their own case, but in relation to others.”
“Edward and I cannot agree with them; and he thinks now that he is able to pay his creditors all that he owes them, that he ought to do it.”
“ I trust that he will not be so absurd, so unjust to his own family; he has no right to treat you so.
“I have urged him to this step, father; and he really means to take it.”
“ What!” said her father, stamping on the floor; "he will not dare to reduce himself, and his wife, and all of us, to comparative poverty, for the sake of gratifying a romantic whim of his
“The truth is, father, he does not dare to do otherwise; the property is not ours; it belongs to others."
“I did hope,” said Mr. Weston, “ now that
I am an old man, I might be allowed to pass the remainder of my days in peace. I suppose you call this goodness, this sickly sensibility, this childish romance; you have no regard for me or my opinions; I am weary of life. I wish that respect for your old father was among your virtues; but that is an old-fashioned duty.”
“We are very sorry, father, if you disapprove of our conduct; but we cannot keep this money and be contented. We shall have enough left to make us very comfortable, and it will be our first object to make you so in every way we can. You need make no change in your mode of life, except perhaps going with us to a smaller house."
“I had better go to a boarding-house, or a mad-house, or the grave-yard. I did hope now that Edward was prosperous, and the world smiled upon us, I had done with changes.”
“I am very sorry, father, that you should
“Have not," continued Mr. Weston, “have not the wisest and best in the land been placed exactly in Edward's situation; and have not they considered it perfectly right, to abide by the decision of their creditors releasing them from all further obligation to pay ?”
" There is no decision, father, that can supersede that of one's own conscience; the consciences of the wisest and best men in the world cannot partect ours from pain. We must do what we think right ourselves.”
“ The opinion which I hold has been an acknowledged principle from time immemorial. There can be no such thing as trade without it; these new-fangled notions are spoiling every thing. Does Edward suppose that he is so much wiser, or that he need be so much better, than all the rest of the world ?”
“ He does not wish to judge others; but when he saw a poor man the other day suffering for the want of money which he remembered he owed him, his conscience told him he ought to pay it; and if he ought to pay one creditor, he ought to pay all.”
Amy then told her father of the boy who was obliged to give up going to college.
“One of the good effects of the system,” said Mr. Weston ; "it would prevent many boobies going to college if there were fewer men able to send their sons.
When property is accumulated in the hands of a few well-educated, upright men, it is får better for the country. It increases their influence, and enables them to do good. They can always assist and patronize real merit; these things settle themselves.”