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127 CHAPTER XX. I spend an evening in the perusal of the manuscript. not a word from Covert. Was not the silence ominous? But any way, Martha was out of his power; and we had that important possession which is nine points of the law. Ephraim heard from Hoboken in the course of the day. All went smoothly there. Nathaniel came in on his way home, to say that the office, with the exception of himself and his dog, was quite deserted, he also having received, from his master, no word or command that day. I did not altogether like this stillness, for I feared Covert ’s craft, and, that there might be something behind, of which I was not yet aware. My reflections convinced me, however, that there was no better course for our side, than to keep quiet, and let the enemy make his move for himself. The hour was yet early when I retired to my room that night, and placed my lamp on the table. I had been pretty seriously impressed with the occurrences of the past few days, and with the reflections in the graveyard of Old Trinity . I took from the drawer, where I had deposited it, the 128 manuscript written by the unfortunate father of the Quakeress ; for I felt that I was in a fitting temper to read it. When I had removed the envelope, and opened it, I found the manuscript written in a hasty and often scrawling manner, evidently under the influence of excitement. It was upon the strong stiff paper used many years since, and still remained in perfect preservation. That it interested me completely, and that I felt a deep sympathy for the unfortunate gentleman who had committed it to paper, is certain. Time and his punishment obliterated any thing that might otherwise have been resentment in my feelings toward him; and his story came to me more like something I might read in a book. The tone of the narrative is morbid, but under the circumstances that must of course be expected. narrative of martha’s father. Whoever you are, into whose hands this dismal story may fall—oh, let me hope that my daughter may read it, and drop a tear for her parent—whoever you are, whether daughter, friend, or stranger, I begin my narrative, written in prison, to while away the heavy hours and leave the chance of one little legacy of sympathy for myself, by a command. Look around you on the beautiful earth, the free air, sky, fields and streets—the people swarming in all directions.— All this is common you say; it is not worth a thought I once supposed thus, like you. But I suppose so no longer. Now 129 all these things seem to me the most beautiful objects in the world. To be free, to walk where you will—to look on freedom—to be free from care, too—by which I mean, not to have your soul pressed down by the weight of horrible odium or disgrace; not to have a dreadful punishment hanging over you—O, that is happiness. Happiness! Alas, what absurdities pass among men, under the name. Happiness: I am in prison, with death perhaps waiting for me; and I write some of my thoughts on happiness. Is there, indeed, no specific for the enjoyment of life? Come we here on earth but to toil and sorrow—to eat, drink, and beget children—to sicken and die? In that world, the heart of man, glisten no sun-rays and bloom no blossoms, as in the outer world? And love, and ambition , and intellect, and wealth—fountains whence, in youth, we expect the future years to draw so much of this happiness—as their fruition comes, does not disappointment also come? I would that the Devil in the garden of Eden had been made to tell the young man what it was that led to felicity . That in these modern days, the pursuits in which men engage with so much ardor—the men all around us—do not reach it, is evidence.—Wealth cannot purchase it. The newspapers every month contain accounts of individuals, assuredly prosperous in all their pecuniary affairs, and some of them young and healthy, who in the very midst of what the poor think perfect bliss, have committed self- 130 murder. The successful seeker after rank and place is not happy,—not from that success, at least. The most learned scholars...


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