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whole country around him. If a controversy of any kind arose, respecting either language, history, philosophy, or almost any other kind of learning, he was always the umpire chosen by both parties to settle the point, and none thought of appealing from his decision.
About this time a circumstance occurred, which changed the whole current of Henry Herveys feelings, and gave a new impulse to his thoughts, wishes and actions. His sisters were fond of society, and were frequently visited by young ladies of the neighborhood, but Henry treated them with bare politeness, always excusing himself from remaining long in their company, on account of engagements he could not neglect. Amanda Moreton, who was on a visit to a female relative residing within a few miles, upon one occasion called upon them. It was the first time he had seen the far-famed beauty. No one could look upon the lovely girl with indifference; but his was a temperament, not to allow him to be carried captive by mere personal charms; for his adoration could only be gained by the evidence of superior intellectual qualities. He did not appear, however, so anxious to make his escape from the social circle as usual, but entered into conversation with the fascinating Amanda. They talked of history, philosophy, botany, and the arts and sciences generally; of the great names of antiquity, and compared them and their works with the moderns. They discoursed of the mighty productions of the Creator of the universe, from the starry Heavens to the simple flower of the valley; and with all these subjects he was surprised and delighted to find the lovely Amanda acquainted. While discussing such subjects her animated countenance and intelligent eye, made for the first time an indelible impression upon the heart of the recluse. He had at last found as by accident a female worthy to be his intellectual companion, one who could be pleased without resorting to the common small talk in which they generally most delight, and of which he knew nothing. From the first hour of their acquaintance they were strangers no longer. There was a sympathetic feeling in their hearts, which seemed to say, they should have always been friends.
Amanda remained but one evening, but within that time her unintentional and unexpected conquest was complete; but she did not escape without being herself impressed with the same passion she had inspired. When she was gone, Henry returned again to his studies, but he found that he could not concentrate his ideas upon any one subject; the image of the fair enslaver engrossed all his thoughts, and obtruded itself on all occasions, until he might well have exclaimed in the language of the great poet of human nature,
Amanda, “thou hast metamorphos'd me;
War with good counsel, set the world at naught.” The whole volume of his deep and hoarded affections which had been so long buried beneath his pursuits of knowledge, now burst upon him with a claim not to be denied. Accordingly, he gave up the struggle. Indeed the new sensation was too delightful not to be cherished. We will not tire our readers with details of courtship, which are always dull except to the actors. Suffice it to say, Henry Hervey sought, wooed and won, the hitherto impracticable beauty; who with tears in her eyes at the thought ofleaving her aged father, agreed to join her fate to that of her lover, provided her father's consent and approbation were obtained. No one could urge an objection to the learned and good Henry Hervey, and her father, with whom he became a great favorite from their first acquaintance, and who was a great advocate for matrimony, not only agreed that her preference was well placed, but urged her to accept the offer of his heart and hand without hesitation. A widowed daughter was induced to return to the paternal roof to take the place of Amanda, in soothing the pains of their aged parent, and Henry Hervey and Amanda Moreton became man and wife. He bore her to his home, and every prospect of uninterupted happiness seemed opened before them. Subsequent events will however prove, we are sorry to say how trúe he spake who exclaimed,
“Alas! how oft doth goodness wound itself
And sweet affection prove the source of woc.", Amanda was proud of her husband, contented and happy; and he seemed to have entered upon a new, and brighter stage of existence. He did not wholly neglect his studies, but gave up much of his time to the enjoyment of the social circle collected around his own fireside. He became companionable, cheerful, and his health improved accordingly; for hitherto he had too often exhausted the midnight lamp in the pursuit of knowledge. He now had an object for his earthly devotion who required no such sacrifice. The gloom of his countenance gave place to a glow of pleasure, which shed its influence on all by whom he was surrounded. Within the first year of their marriage a daughter was born to them, which they named after the “mother of the Gracchii.”
The prospect of an increasing family induced Henry to seek a more extended field for the exercise of his abilities, where his professional services would meet with a more adequate reward. He accordingly removed to a larger town. Here he was received with great favor, and was considered by the literary portion of the people as a valuable accession to their society. The Herveys were waited upon immediately by the best families in the town, and placed at once upon the best footing among the higher circles. Henry's professional services were sought for and liberally compensated, and the prospect of independence and even wealth, appeared flattering. But we have, we are sorry to say, shown already the bright side of the picture; and now it becomes a painful duty to disclose the sad reverse and its causes, which blighted all the fair prospects of Henry Hervey, in this his new place of residence. And sad is the reflection that his very learning and ability, which might have been the foundation of his lasting welfare, proved ultimately the cause of his ruin.
There dwelt in the town where Henry resided, five or six young men of his own age, talented, possessed of fortune and fascinating manners, who were among the first and most constant to court his society; induced to do so, by the pleasure and instruction they derived from his conversation. He was now placed, for the first time since his manhood, among associates capable of appreciating his abilities and able to add their share to the feast of reason which was always held when they assembled together. They could talk with him of the arts and sciences, and understood when he quoted in their own languages the authorities of antiquity, and he was delighted; for it seemed to him that he had arrived at the very summit of human felicity. No wonder that those who gave him so much pleasure should gain his favorable opinion, and be able to exercise as they afterwards did, considerable influence over his actions. Unfortunately, the young men we have been speaking of were idle; and every one knows that idleness and independence in youth almost always leads to dissipation. At first Henry only saw them at his own house; but at length they lured him to their haunts of amusement, where other pleasures than those strictly intellectual, were often indulged in; among which was frequently a social glass of some choice kind of liquor. A single glass, was as much as Henry could be prevailed upon to take at first, and as he had been wholly unused to artificial stimulus, it had a powerful and pleasing effect upon his spirits. Hitherto, his remarks and observations had always been solid and grave; now, his conversation under the influence of this new auxiliary, often sparkled with the brilliancy of wit and humor. His associates never failed to praise his sallies, and he vainly became impressed with the idea, that stimulating drinks were necessary to the full development of his powers of mind. He began to love their convivial parties, where drinking was the chief employment, and soon learned to take glass about with his associates. The consequence was, that he often drank too much; and at last one evening, he went home to his family decidedly intoxicated.
And now for the first time his tender, devoted, and high-minded wife, had cause to blush for him. She had also cause for alarm; for she could not help perceiving that he had acquired a love for liquor, and remained many hours at a time from home in the pursuit of pleasures, he used to despise and condemn. The next morning after his debauch, he awoke with a headach, and the most horrible sensations, and vowed to be drunk no more; for he had often said he had rather die than be a drunkard. His friends called in the evening of the next day to laugh over their frolic, as they called it, and endeavored to lure him out to the same haunt of dissipation. He had this once strength of mind enough to refuse, and excused himself on the ground of professional engagements. All however would not dom he had contracted such a love for
liquor, that it seemed to him impossible to live without it, and a few days saw him again with his bacchanal associates, swallowing with them glass after glass.
Henry now began to want stimulus of a morning, and accordingly purchased and brought home some choice parcels of ardent spirits. The sacrifice was now complete; and Henry Hervey, the once talented, sober, and universally respected, had become a drunkard! His previous earnings were soon exhausted. No new receipts were coming in, for his business, as a matter of course, had left him. In less than four years from the day of his marriage, with such flattering prospects before him, the sheriff was in the house, and all his property sold for debt. He was not, however, even then wholly deserted; for a friend stepped in and purchased for his future use, (determining to give him another trial after this severe lesson,) his library, and a sufficiency of his household goods to set him up again in an humble way, in a small village to which he removed.
Here he made a last and desperate effort to become a sober man, and regain his former standing. He again returned to the company of his old friends, bis books; but found he had lost most of his relish for their society. Successful rivals had lately gained possession of his heart, and he could but give to them a divided affection. He struggled hard against his strong propensity to drink, which haunted him every hour; and actually did refrain from the intoxicating cup a whole year. A moderate return of patronage in his profession was the consequence; and he was still able to live frugally, but not as he used to do, elegantly. His wife began to look less miserable than she did in the days of his dissipation and desolation, and if he had still remained sober, might have perhaps again enjoyed a state of quiet contentment, even in their humble condition. At length poor Hervey could hold out no longer. He began to take an occasional glass by stealth, unknown to his wife, and most of his friends. Thus the destructive habit became again irrevocably fixed upon him, and he was now a hopeless drunkard. His wife never reproached him for his ruinous conduct; for in all his wanderings from the path of sobriety, he was invariably kind in his expressions towards her, and she had not the heart to speak harshly to one she had and still loved so supremely. In the moments when he became sober, he would often weep like a child over his degradation, and the misery and want he had brought upon his wife and family. He now rapidly sunk into a pitiable and irreclaimable sot, and could often be found drinking the meanest and most poisonous liquors, with the lowest and most beastly drunkards. He was reduced to a state of helpless and hopeless fatuity; and the lately “observed of all observers”—he with whom the votaries of wisdom loved to talk, and whose words and opinions were received as oracles, become an empty babbler; exhibiting to the public gaze, his bloated visage and tottering steps in the public streets, by night and day.
Our story draws near its conclusion. The once accomplished, beautiful and healthful Amanda Moreton, drooped and withered beneath the sad reverse of her fortunes. Extreme poverty came upon them; and she, who until within a few years past had never performed any portion of menial labor, was now often left without a servant to assist her in its burdens, although encumbered with three young children, who required constant attention. The rose departed from her cheek, and she became deathly pale; still at times the bright hectic spot, so indicative of decay, would glow in her countenance with fearful brightness. She was at length confined wholly to her bed. The ladies of her acquaintance, hearing of her situation, vied with each other who should exceed in ministering to her wants; and in her last sickness she was well supplied with nurses, and all that was necessary. But all came too late. Her heart and constitution had broken together, and she sunk into an untimely grave, still lovely to look upon even in the embrace of death. Her father knew not of her sorrows, for he died a few months after the time of her marriage. Her children were cast "abandoned on the world's wide stage,” became the care of strangers, and were degraded from that station in society which they might, and but for the fatal infatuation of their father, would have occupied.
We will not follow Henry Hervey through the revolting scenes of his remainder of life, for this true tale is already sufficiently painful; but leave the reader to imagine his feelings and his fate. Four out of five of those young men who made him a drunkard, now fill the drunkard's grave; and they, all but one, died when less than thirty years of age.
Yes, lay thee down,
- Thy life is gone.