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money on the old Cape, where
father wide-awake fellow took home more than an' grand'ther made it afore you. Use three hundred dollars to his wife and yer means, an' God 'll give the blessin'. children when old Obed settled the voyYer can't honestly git rich anywheres age. But then the good wife saves while all tu once. Good an' quickly don't often he earns, and, what with a cow, and a meet. One nail drives out another. Slow house and garden-spot of his own, and an' easy goes fur in a day. Honor an’ease a healthy lot of boys and girls, who, a'n't often bedfellows. Don't yer be a if too young to help, are not suffered to goose, I tell ye. What's to become of hinder, this man is more forehanded and Hepsy Ann?”
independent, gives more to the poor about Having delivered himself of which last him and to the heathen at the other and hardest shot, Uncle Shubael shoul- end of the world, than many a city man dered his cod-craft, and, without await- who makes, and spends, his tens of thouing an answer, tugged across the sand- sands. beach for home.
Uncle Abijah Brewster, the father of this Elkanah Brewster was a Cape-Cod boy, Elkanah, was an old Banker,— which sigwith a pedigree, if he had ever thought nifies here, not a Wall-Street broker-man, of it, as long as any on the Cape,--and but a Grand-Bank fisherman. He had they are the longest in the land. His brought up a goodly family of boys and forefathers had caught fish to the remot- girls by his hook-and-line, and, though est generation known. The Cape boys now a man of some fifty winters, still take to the water like young ducks; and made his two yearly fares to the Banks, are born with a hook and line in their in his own trim little pinky, and prided fists, so to speak, as the Newfoundland himself on being the smartest and jolliest codfish and Bay Chaleur mackerel know, man aboard. His boys had sailed with to their cost. “ Down on old Cha am” him till they got vessels of their own, had there is little question of a boy's calling, learned from his stout heart and strong if he only comes into the world with the arm their seamanship, their fisherman's proper number of fingers and toes; he acuteness, their honest daring, and childswims as soon as he walks, knows how to like trust in God's Providence. These drive a bargain as soon as he can talk, poor fishermen are not rich, as I have goes cook of a coaster at the mature said ; a dollar looks to them as big as a age of eight years, and thinks himself dinner-plate to us, and a moderately flush robbed of his birthright, if he has not Wall-Street man might buy out the whole made a voyage to the Banks before his Cape and not overdraw his bank-account. eleventh birthday comes round. There Also, they have but little book-learning is good stuff in the Cape boys, as the among them, reading chiefly their Bible, South-Street ship-owners know, who don't Bowditch, and Nautical Almanac, and sleep easier than when they have put a leaving theology mostly to the parson, on “ Cape man” in charge of their best shore, who is paid for it. But they have clipper. Quick of apprehension, fertile a conscience, and, knowing a thing to be in resource, shrewd, enterprising, brave, right, do it bravely, and against all odds. prudent, and, above all, lucky,— no bet- I have seen these men on Sunday, in a ter seamen sail the sea. Long may they fleet of busy “ Sunday fishers,” fish biting keep their prestige and their sand ! all around them, sitting faithfully,-ay,
They are not rich on the Cape,- in the and contentedly, — with book in band, Wall-Street sense of the word, that is to sturdily refraining from what the mere husay. I doubt if Uncle Lew Baker, who man instinct of destruction would strongwas high line out of Dennis last year, ly impel them to, without counting the and who, by the same token, had to work temptation of dollars,- and this only behimself right smartly to achieve that hon- cause they had been taught that Sunday or,—I doubt if this smart and thoroughly was a day of rest and worship, wherein
no man should catch fish, and knew no his heart as to crowd out nearly everytheological quibble or mercantile close thing else,— father, mother, work,-even sailing by which to weather on God's pretty Hepzibah Nickerson, almost, who command. It sounds little to us who loved him, and whom he also loved truly. have not been tempted, or, if tempted, They had almost grown up together, had have gracefully succumbed, on the plea long loved each other, and had been now that other people do so too; but how two years betrothed. When Elkanah many stock-speculators would see their
was out of his time and able to buy a fellows buying bargains and making easy share in a vessel, and had made a voyfortunes on Sunday morning, and not for- age to the Banks as captain, they were get the ring of Trinity chimes and go in to be married. for dollars? Or which of us denies him- The summer before this spring in which self his Monday morning's paper ? our story opens, Elkanah had stayed at
Elkanah had always been what his home for two months, because of a rheumother called a strange boy. He was, matism contracted by unusual exposure indeed, an odd sheep in her flock. Rest- on the Banks in early spring; and at this less, ambitious, dreamy, from his earliest time he made the acquaintance of Mr. youth, he possessed, besides, a natural gift James Graves, N. A., from New York, for drawing and sketching, imitating and spending part of his summer on the Cape constructing, that bade fair, unless prop- in search of the picturesque,, which I erly directed, to make of him that sad- hope he found. Elkanah had, as I have dest and most useless of human lumber, said, a natural talent for drawing, and a jack-at-all-trades. He profited more some of his sketches had that in them by his limited winter's schooling than his which elicited the approval of Graves, brothers and fellows, and was always re- who saw in the
fellow an untutorspected by the old man as “a boy that ed genius, or, at least, very considerable took naterally to book-larnin', and would promise of future excellence. To him be suthin' some day.” Of course he went there could be but one choice between to the Banks, and acquitted himself there shoemaking and “ Art”; and finding that with honor, - no man fishing more zeal- young Brewster made rapid advances ously or having better luck. But all the under his desultory tuition, he told him time he was dreaming of his future, count- his thoughts, that he should not waste ing this present as nothing, and ready, himself making sea-boots for fishermen, as soon as Fortune should make him an but enter a studio in Boston or New opening, to cast away this life, and grasp York, and make his career as a painter. - he had not settled what.
It scarcely needed this, however; for “I dun know what ails him," said his Elkanah took such delight in his new father; " but he don't take kindly to the proficiency, and got from Graves's stories Banks. Seems to me he kinder despises of artist life such exalted ideas of the unthe work, though he does it well enough. alloyed felicity of the gentleman of the And then he makes the best shoes on the brush, that, even had the painter said no Cape; but he a’n’t content, somehow.” word, he would have worked out that
And that was just it. He was not contented. He had seen men
“ Only wait till next year, when I'm better than I,” thought he, poor fool! - out of my time,” said he to Graves; and in Boston, living in big houses, wearing to himself,—“ This is the opening for fine clothes, putting fair, soft hands into which I have been waiting.” smooth-fitting kid-gloves; " and why not That winter —“my last at shoemakI?” he cried to himself continually. Year ing" — he worked more diligently than by year, from his seventeenth to his twen- ever before, and more good-naturedly. ty-first, he was pursued by this demon of Uncle Abijah was delighted at the change “ ambition,” which so took possession of in his boy, and promised him great things
- " no
in the way of a lift next year, to help pooh!” all such folly, and tell the young him to a speedy wedding. Elkanah kept man to let well enough alone. But conhis own counsel, read much in certain sider candidly, and decide: Should Elbooks which Graves had left him, and kanah have gone to New York ? looked impatiently ahead to the day when, On the whole, I think, yes. For,-twenty-one years of age, he should be a He had a certain talent, and gave good free man,-able to go whither he listed promise of excellence in his chosen proand do what he would, with no man fession. authoritatively to say him nay.
He liked it, felt strongly impelled toAnd now the day had come; and with wards it. Let us not yet scrutinize too I don't know how few dollars in his pock- closely the main impelling forces. Few et, his scant earnings, he had declared to human actions originate solely in what his astounded parents his determination we try to think the most exalted motives. to fish and shoemake no longer, but to He would have been discontented for learn to be a painter.
life, had he not had his way. And this “A great painter,”— that was what he should count for something,— for much, said.
indeed. Give our boys liberty to try “I don't see the use o' paintin' picters,
that to which their nature or fancy strongfor my part,” said the old man, despair- ly drives them,- to burn their fingers, if ingly; “ can't you learn that, an' fish tu?” that seem best.
“Famous and rich too,” said Elkanah Let him go, then ; and God be with half to himself, looking through the vista him! as surely He will be, if the simple, of years at the result he hoped for, and faithful prayers of fair, sad Hepsy Ann congratulating himself in advance upon are heard. Thus will he, thus only can it. And a proud, hard look settled in his any, solve that sphinx-riddle of life which eye, which froze the opposition of father is propounded to each passer to-day, as and mother, and was hardly dimmed by of old in fable-lands, — failing to read encountering the grieved glance of poor which, he dies the death of rusting disHepsy Ann Nickerson.
content, solving whose mysteries, he Poor Hepsy Ann! They had talked has revealed to him the deep secret of it all over, time and again. At first she his life, and sees and knows what best he was in despair ; but when he laid be- may do here for himself and the world. fore her all his darling hopes, and paint- But what, where, who, is Elkanah ed for her in such glowing colors the final Brewster's world ? reward which should come to him and While we stand reasoning, he has gone. her in return for his struggles,— when In New York, his friend Graves assisted she saw him, her love and pride, before him to a place in the studio of an artist, her already transfigured, as it were, by whose own works have proved, no less this rare triumph, clothed in honors, his than those of many who have gathered name in all mouths,- dear, loving soul, their most precious lessons from him, that her heart consented, “ay, if it should he is truly a master of his art. But what break meantime,” thought she, as she are masters, teachers, to a scholar? It's looked proudly on him through her tears, very fine boarding at the Spread-Eagle and said, “Go, in God's name, and God Hotel; but even after you have feed the be with you!”
waiter, you have to chew your own dinPerhaps we might properly here con- ner, and are benefited, not by the amount sider a little whether this young man did you pay for it, but only by so much of well thus to leave father, mother, home, all that with which the bounteous mahogbis promised bride, sufficient bread-and- any is covered as you can thoroughly butter, healthy occupation, all, to attempt masticate, easily contain, and healthily dilife in a new direction. Of course, your gest. Elkanah began with the soup, so man who lives by bread alone will pooh! to speak. He brought all his Cape Cod acuteness of observation to bear on his dred and fifteen new paintings this year, profession; lived closely, as well he might; shown by no less than two hundred and studied attentively and intelligently; lost eighty-one painters. When you have no hints, no precious morsels dropping gone patiently through and looked at evfrom the master's board; improved slow- ery picture, see if you don't wish the critly, but surely. Day by day he gain- ics had eyes, and a little common sense, ed in that facility of hand, quickness of too. How many of these two hundred observation, accuracy of memory, cor- and eighty-one, if they live to be a hunrectness of judgment, patience of de- dred, will ever solve their great riddle ? tail, felicity of touch, which, united and and once solved, how many would honperfected and honestly directed, we call estly go back to shoemaking ? genius. He was above no drudgery, Why should they not paint ? Because, shirked no disiculties, and labored at the unless some of them are poorer men than insignificant sketch in hand to-day as I think, that is not the thing they are like though it were indeed his masterpiece, to to do best; and a man is put into this be hung up beside Raphael's and Titian's; world, not to do what he may think or meantime, keeping up poor Hepsy Ann's hope will most speedily or effectually heart by letters full of a hope bred of his place him in the list of this world's ilown brave spirit, rather than of any fa- lustrious benefactors, but honestly and voring circumstances in his life, and gain against all devilish temptations to stick ing his scant bread-and-butter by various to that thing by which he can best serve honest drudgeries which I will not here and bless recount.
Whom? A city? A state? A repubSo passed away three years; for the lic? A king? growth of a poor young artist in public No, - but that person who is nearest favor, and that thing called fame, is fear- to, and most dependent upon him. Look fully slow. Oftenest he has achieved his at Charles Lamb, and then at Byron and best when the first critic speaks kindly Shelley. or savagely of him. What, indeed, at The growth of a poor young artist into best, do those blind leaders, but zealously public favor is slow enough. But even echo a sentiment already in the public poor young artists have their temptations. heart, - which they vainly endeavor to When Elkanah hung his first picture in create (out of nothing) by any awe-in- the Academy rooms, he thought the world spiring formula of big words ?
must feel the acquisition. Now the world Men grow so slowly! But then so do is a notoriously stupid world, and never oaks. And little matter, so the growth does its duty; but kind woman not seldom be straight.
supplies its omissions. So it happened, Meantime Elkanah was getting, slowly that, though the world ignored the picand by hardest labor, to have some true ture, Elkanah became at once the centre conception of his art and his aims. He of admiration to a coterie of young ladies, became less and less satisfied wiih his who thought they were appreciating Art own performances; and, having with when they flattered an artist, and who, much pains and anxious prayers finished when they read in the papers the gratifyhis first picture for the Academy, careful- ing intelligence (invented by some sanly hid it under the bed, and for that year guine critic, over a small bottle of Champlayed the part of independent critic at pagne cider) that the American people the Exhibition. Wherefrom resulted some are rapidly growing in true love for the increase of knowledge, – though chiefly fine arts, blushingly owned to themselves negative.
that their virtuous labors in this direction For what positive lesson is taught to were not going unrewarded. any by that yearly show of what we flatter Have you never seen them in the Acadourselves by calling Art ? Eight hun- emy,
;- these dear young ladies, who are
so constantly foreseeing new Raphaels, maker, and could never, never hope to Claudes, and Rembrandts ? Positively, hang his pictures on the Academy walls, in this year's Exhibition they are better to win cheap wonder from boardingworth study than the paintings. There school misses, or just regard from judithey run, up and down, critical or enthu- cious critics? siastical, as the humor strikes : Laura, with Elkanah Brewster came to New York big blue eyes and a loud voice, pitying to make his career,- to win nothing less Isidora because she has never met" tban fame and fortune. When he had that dear Mr. Herkimer, who paints such struggled through five years of Art-study, delicious, dreamy landscapes; and Emily and was now just beginning to earn a dragging everybody off to see Mr. Smith's little money, he began also to think that great work,“ The Boy and the Windmill,” he had somehow counted his chickens which--so surprising is his facility – he before they were hatched, -perhaps, inactually painted in less than twelve days, deed, before the eggs were laid.
“ Good and which “ promises so much for his and quickly come seldom together," said success and the future of American Art," old Uncle Shubael. But then a man who says this sage young critic, out of whose
has courage commonly has also endurgray eyes look the garnered experiences ance; and Elkanah, ardently pursuing of almost eighteen summers.
from love now what he had first been Whoever desiderates cheap praise, let prompted to by ambition, did not murhim cultivate a beard and a sleepy look, mur nor despair. For, indeed, I must and hang a picture in the Academy rooms. own that this young fellow had worked Elkanah received it, you may be sure. himself up to the highest and truest conIt was thought so romantic, that he, a ception of his art, and felt, that, though fisherman,- the young ladies sunk the the laborer is worthy of his hire, unhappy shoemaker, I believe,- should be so de- is the man who lowers his art to the voted to Art. How splendidly it spoke level of a trade. In olden times, the for our civilization, when even sailors priests did, indeed, eat of the sacrificial left their vessels, and, abjuring codfish, meats; but we live under a new and hightook to canvas and brushes! What ad- er dispensation. mirable courage in him, to come here and endeavor to work his way up from
II. the very bottom!
What praise worthy self-denial, “ No!! is it really so ?” MEANTIME, what of Hepsy Ann Nickcried Miss Jennie,- when he had left erson? She had bravely sent her hero behind him a fair young bride! out, with her blessing on his aspirations.
It was as though it had been written, Did she regret her love and trust ? I “ Blessed is he who forsaketh father, am ashamed to say that these five long, mother, and wife to paint pictures.” But weary years had passed happily to this it is not so written.
She had her hands full It was as if the true aim and glory of work at home, where she reigned over of every man in a civilized community a family of brothers and sisters, vice her should be to paint pictures. Which has mother, promoted. Hands busied with this grain of truth in it, that, in the high- useful toils, head and heart filled with est forın of human development, I be- love and trust of Elkanah, there was no lieve every man will be at heart an ar- room for unhappiness. To serve and to tist. But then we shall be past picture- be loved : this seems, indeed, to be the painting and exhibitions. Don't you see, bliss of the happiest women I have known, that, if the fruit be thoroughly ripe, it - and of the happiest men, too, for that needs no violent plucking ? or that, if a matter. It does not sound logical, and man is really a painter, he will paint, – I know of no theory of woman's rights ay, though he were ten times a shoe- which will satisfactorily account for the