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the proud level with the earth, and strip the avaricious in a single moment of the hoards of ages, passed over him, unheard and unfelt. His only vexations were the occasional inroads of the neighbours' boys, or the elopement of some vagrant denizen of the poultry yard ; and for these his pipe, the true teacher of philosophy, was a sovereign cure. He died without pain, and without fear, as a man full of years, and full of honesty, should die, leaving me, his only child, all his property.
At the time of my father's decease, I was about four and twenty, and possessed little of the Lubbersen's but their name and their property. I had been at college, where I learned Latin, and forgot Dutch. Candour, which shall be my guide in this history, obliges me to confess, that I made no great figure among the students, being rather of an indolent habit, having a sovereign contempt for the maxim, that “ learning is better than house or land," and defying in my heart the mathematicians and all their works. But to make amends for the small figure I made within the college walls, I made a great noise without, after the manner of college boys, who are apt to think, the more noise they make the more like men they are. I got a degree, however, more through the kindness and lenity of the professors, than my own merits; and whatever may be my deficiencies, I shall always be ready to ascribe them rather to myself, than to my excellent alma mater, Without troubling you with any more particulars, I will only say, that I was a young fellow of large property, without any decided taste for any study, amusement, or occupation. I was ready to receive an impulse, and float with the tide.
This was my great misfortune, as will be seen in the sequel. A young man of fortune, in this country, without some disposition to intellectual pursuits and enjoyments, may be said to be unhappily situated. Even if he could enjoy, as it is not in fact in human nature to enjoy, a perpetual round of pleasure and amusement, he cannot, in the present state of our society, find those amusements, without seeking them with a degree of labour and exertion that would destroy their zest entirely. In Paris, and in other of the overgrown cities of the old world, there is a show, and amusement, or an excitement for every hour of the day; and yet even there they complain of ennui. But in our country, idleness has little other refuge than drinking, gambling, and debauchery. A young man thus turned loose upon the world with a fortune to his back, if he has not some resource in the liberal pursuit of knowledge or the arts, some decided pleasure in their cultivation or encouragement, is in great danger of becoming a burthen to himself, a blot on society, a
speculator, or last of all, a youthful miser, finding his excitement and occupation in heaping up superfluous wealth. If he escape all these, it is only to become hypochondriac, and die of ennui.
On examining into my affairs, I found that, according to the present rate, my property was worth, on a moderate estimate, two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. This was enough for me, and I determined upon being a gentleman. But it is not quite so easy to be a gentleman as many people, who have never tried it, imagine. A man, after all, must do something in this world. It is impossible to live, and do nothing. A gentleman must therefore make his choice as to what he will do; and it is on the selection, that the fact of his being a gentleman or no gentleman turns. For my part, I freely confess to you, I was confoundedly puzzled. At first, I walked the streets, particularly Broadway, till I was tired of that. I then bought me a snug, quiet riding horse, and rode out of town every day, at the risk of being squeezed to death among carts and carriages, or choked with the dust of ten thousand fast-trotting nags, that left me far in the rear, like another Ixion, not embracing indeed, but embraced by a cloud. I grew tired of that, and bought one of your fast trotters, your fifteen-mile-an-hour horses, who left all the dust behind him. After beating the whole road, and distancing the dandies for the season, I grew tired of having my bones half dislocated by his infernal racking, and by way of a little excitement, matched him for a thousand dollars, against a Yankee
I lost like a gentleman, sold my horse for half what I gave
for him, and cast about for some other gentlemanly recreation, for I was determined on being a gentleman. I bought a light wagon, that weighed only a hundred pounds, and a couple of crops, that rattled me through Broadway, till my ears almost fell off. In about a month, they rattled my wagon off the wheels, or rather the wheels off the wagon, and landed me insensible on the pavement, with a broken head, and bruised frame. I was dished-laid up for six weeks.
To while away the time, when I began to get a little better, I took a literary turn, and tried to read the Waverly novels. But I grew tired of broad Scotch, and broad caricature, and invited some of my gentleman companions to come and talk with me to keep up my spirits. We soon tired of talking, and tried a little brag, which they taught me very cheap. It only cost me a couple of thousands, to find out what a pair royal was. I got well at last, and was sadly puzzled as to what I should do next towards living a gentleman's life, for I was disgusted with playing the gentleman on horseback, or in a light wagon.
horses to dogs, is an easy declension. I bought a double-barrelled gun, with an everlasting touchhole; a pair of pointers, that could nose a woodcock across the bay of New-York; a coat with sixteen pockets, all for some indispensable purpose in shooting, but which puzzled me more than a little. It took me an hour to tind any thing I wanted to come at in a hurry. I became a most indefatigable sportsman, who feared neither saltmarshes, mud-puddies, horse-ponds, nor swamps middle deep, any more than the man in the moon. I seldom shot any thing smaller than a cow, for, between ourselves, I was near sighted, but that I kept to myself, and always blamed my gun for missing. On one occasion, being on Long-Ísland, with a party, they tied a dead fish hawk to the top of a pole, and then sent me a full mile just before dinner to shoot it. I crept along the fence till I came quite near, and let Ay at him. But he neither iell nor flew away. I loaded and fired six or eight times before ! suspected the joke, and returning to the inn, found they had eaten up all the dinner. As getting an appetite for dinner is a great object in the life of a gentleman, I took this rather in dudgeon. I should not have minded the joke, if it had not been for the loss of my dinner. After this I gave up shooting. From horses and dogs to women, is another common declension in the life of a gentleman. But it is useless and tedious to go the rounds of my gentleman's life. In eight years from the death of my father, I had run through all the varieties, and not a little of my estate into the bargain. I found it necessary to consulta money lender, who could not help expressing his wonder, that a man who had property worth hundreds of thousands, should want money. I pricked up my ears. From prodigality to avarice, is a common leap, and all at once I felt a strong inclination to take it without ceremony. I had a good portion of the Dutch blood in me, that tingled at the idea of making money.
A little conversation with the money lender, convinced me that I was still a rich man, and might be richer, if I would only turn my property into money. “It is money only that begets money," quoth he—“ Real property always keeps a man poor"—together with many other wise maxims of this sort. 1 sold all my lands for three hundred thousand dollars, and for a short time felt as rich as old Tom Gardner. But after a while I did not know what to do with my money, for I was resolved to spend no more in living the life of a gentleman. I went to my old friend the money lender for advice, who let me by degrees into all the mysteries of making money breed like rabbits, assuring me, if I would take his advice, he would double my ca
pital in three years. The temptation was irresistible to a man who was tired of spending money, and wished to taste the novel pleasure of making it. I took fast hold of the money lender's tail, as Don Cleofas did of that of the lame devil, and away we went, sinking by degrees into the bottomless pit of speculation.
I placed my funds in his hands, took his advice on all occasions, and followed my jackall with the faith of a devotee.
Matters went on tinely, and for a while I tasted the sweets of making money. But there is this difference between tasting money and tasting any thing else. In all other cases, eating at lengti satisfies the appetite; but in that of money, it only renders it more voracious. I became tired of the petty business of shaving notes, advancing upon goods, and such small matters. I longed to make my thousands and tens of thousands in one single “ operation,” as they say in Wall-street; and luckily, as I then thought, opportunities soon offered themselves to my enlar ing anticipations. My lame devil proposed to me to buy largely into a new company just then chartered, by the collected wisdom and virtue of the people. I did so, and gained ten per cent. in less than as many days, which convinced me I had at last found the philosopher's stone. This was repeated with equal success, two or three times, for a new company, fortunately, came out every day. Nothing could equal my gratitude to my lame devil, to whom I allowed two per cent. for his advice. At last however, I burnt my fingers, "by holding on too long;" as the phrase is in Wall-street. I was offered twenty per cent. advance, upon a hundred thousand dollars of a certain stock. It was a great temptation; but I determined to consult my pillow upon it. I fell asleep amid golden anticipations, and I awoke, and behold it was all a dream! In one night my stock had fallen below par; but I “ held on,” till it sunksunk-sunk, by degrees, so that I finally sold out, by the advice of my lame devil, with a loss that amounted to considerably more than all my former gains.
Gambling is gambling, whether at the faro table or in the stocks; and the same rule holds in both, that the loser always feels the more ardent to continue the game. Another company was begotten by the Lobby on the Legislature, and so eager was I to subscribe, that I got half bruised to death in struggling to get near the commissioners. I got a good slice ; and grown wise by experience, determined to be content with a moderate profit, say twenty per cent. Accordingly, I instructed my lame devil, to sell out at that rate, and took a trip to the springs for my health ; for a man who deals in the Companies” is apt to become a little bilious. But alack, and alas the day! I fared like the poor old lady in the nursery song
“ I went to the well to wash my head,
And when I came back my chickens were dead.” The truth is, I had reckoned them before they were batched, which I understand is a common error with us speculators. My lame devil informed me on my return, that though they bad “ obtained" the good will of two or three editors of newspapers, who had mournfully assured the public, that the “company” would prove an excellent speculation, and actually employed a broker to buy up some of their stock at a beavy advance, they could never get it fairly up to par, do what they would. He advised me to sell out, which I did, at a loss of about fifteen thousand. Hereupon I became very bilious again, notwithstanding I had just come from the springs. I began to grow shy of my oracle, the lame devil, and to distrust his advice. Perceiving this very probably, and apprehensive that the goose would not lay many more golden eggs, he prepared to make an end of me at once, and thus come at the remainder of the ancient patrimony of the Lubbersens.
A knot of those worthy gentlemen, who either begin, or end business, upon the capital of their own wits, assisted by the little wits of persons of my cast, headed by the lame devil, beset me with a new scheme, that was infallibly to make up all my losses, and double my capital besides. This was no other, than to buy up a broken bank, a lame insurance company, and an excellent project, to work upon with the “ resources thus acquired I was to furnish the money, and my worthy coadjutors the wit, to turn the grand project to advantage. Never was any thing clearer, they proved to me, than that we should make at least a million of money. Accordingly the bargain was struck, at the price of all the remaining patrimony of the Lubbersen family, and we commenced business with a lame insurance company, a lame bank, and a lame devil for president. The first thing was to get our bills into circulation, which we did by the aid of lottery offices, and by allowing a premium of two and a half per cent, to the great manufacturers, for palming our notes upon
their workmen. This was a dead loss to be sure, but the lame devil, and the worthy directors, assured me this was nothing. For my part, though I was one of the directors, I became perfectly bewildered, lost, in the inextricable meanderings of our monied system. Every now and then they gave me a few thousands of our own bills, assuring me they were my share of the profits, so that I rolled in wealth, and became excessively anxious to buy up two or three more lame institutions. I bought estates, houses, lots, wharves, and commenced building a palace two hundred feet long in the