List Of Contents | Contents of Elinor Wyllys, by Susan Fenimore Cooper
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mountain peak overlooking the bay of Rio de Janeiro}

"You should have fallen in love," said Mrs. Creighton.

"I don't think I succeeded in that; perhaps I did not try very

"But is not the state of society pleasant at Rio?" inquired Mr.

"Not particularly, sir; it is too much like our own for that;
something provincial lingering about it, although they have an
emperor of their own. We cannot do without the other hemisphere
yet, in spite of our self-important airs. We Yankees have coaxed
Time out of a great deal, but he is not to be cheated for all
that. People were not busy for thousands of years in the Old
World, merely to qualify them for discovering America, whatever
some of our patriots may say on the subject."

"Yes, you are right, Harry; I have often wished that our people
would remember what they seem to forget, that Time has a
prerogative beyond their reach. There is a wide difference
between a blind reverence for Time, and an infatuated denial of
his power; and I take it to be one of the duties of your
generation to find out the dividing line in this and other
points, and shape your practice accordingly."

"Yes, sir; it appears to me high time that the civilized world
set about marking more distinctly a great many boundary lines, on
important moral questions; and it is to be presumed, that with so
much experience at our command, we shall at last do something
towards it. It is to be hoped that mankind will at length learn
not always to rush out of one extreme into the other; and when
they feel the evil of one measure, not to fly for relief to its
very opposite, but set about looking for the true remedy, which
is generally not so far off."

"You don't believe in moral homoeopathy?" said Mrs. Stanley.

"Not in the least."

"Well, we are very much obliged to you for getting tired of Rio,"
said Mrs. Creighton; "and thinking that the gay world of
Philadelphia was quite as agreeable as the Imperial Court."

"I take it for granted, however, that it was not exactly the gay
world that you regretted," said Ellsworth.

"Not exactly, no; general society is not sufficiently perfect in
its way among us, for a man to pine after."

"I have often thought," observed Elinor, "that the spirit of mere
dissipation must be less excusable in this country than in
Europe. Society must have so many attractions there--more general
finish--more high accomplishment."

"Yes; we want more of the real thing; we have smatterers enough
as it is," replied Mr. Ellsworth.

"And then the decorations are so well got up in Europe!"
exclaimed Mrs. Creighton. "I must confess myself enough of a
woman, to be charmed with good decorations."

"Something far better than mere decoration; however, is requisite
to make society at all agreeable," continued Mr. Ellsworth.
"There is luxury enough among us, in eating and drinking,
dressing and furniture, for instance; and yet what can well be
more silly, more puerile, than the general tone of conversation
at common parties among us? And how many of the most delightful
soirees in Paris, are collected in plain rooms, au second, or au
troisieme, with a brick floor to stand on, and a glass of orgeat,
with a bit of brioche to eat!"

{"au second, or au troisieme" = on the third or fourth floor;
"orgeat" = a syrup flavored drink; "brioche" = a simple pastry

"Lots and Love--Speculation and Flirtation, are too entirely the
order of the day, and of the evening, with us," said Harry;
"whether figuring on Change, or on a Brussels carpet."

{"on Change" = at the stock market}

"I have often been struck, myself, with the excessive silliness
of the conversation at common parties, especially what are called
young parties; though I have never seen anything better," said

"Those young parties are enough to spoil any society," said

"Perhaps, however, you have too high an idea of such scenes in
Europe, precisely because you have not seen them, Miss Wyllys,"
observed Mr. Ellsworth.

"That may very possibly be the case."

"There are always silly and ignorant people to be met with
everywhere," remarked Harry; "but the difference lies in the
general character of the circle, which is not often so insipid
and so puerile in Europe."

"It is the difference, I suppose, between a puppet-show and
genteel comedy," said Elinor.

"Precisely, Miss Wyllys," said Mr. Ellsworth, smiling.

"We have very pretty puppets, though," observed Mrs. Creighton;
"quite well-dressed, and sufficiently graceful, too; that is to
say, the young lady puppets. As for the gentlemen, I shall not
attempt to defend them, en masse, neither their grace nor their

"You won't allow us to be either pretty or well-dressed?" said
Mr. Stryker.

"Oh, everybody knows that Mr. Stryker's coat and bow are both

"Why don't you go to work, good people, and improve the world,
instead of finding fault with it?" said Mr. Wyllys, who was
preparing for another game of chess with Mrs. Robert Hazlehurst.

"A labour of Hercules, sir!" exclaimed Mr. Stryker, shrugging his
shoulders. "The position of a reformer is not sufficiently
graceful to suit my fancy."

"It is fatiguing, too; it is much easier to sit still and find
fault, sir," observed Robert Hazlehurst, smiling.

"Sauve qui peut, is my motto," continued Mr. Stryker. "I shall
take care of myself; though I have no objection that the rest of
the world should profit by my excellent example; they may improve
on my model, if they please."

{"sauve qui peut" = everyone for himself (French)}

"The fact is, that manners, and all other matters of taste, ought
to come by instinct," said Mrs. Robert Hazlehurst; "one soon
becomes tired of beings regularly tutored on such points."

"No doubt of that," replied Harry; "but unfortunately, though
reading and writing come by nature, as Dogberry says, in this
country, yet it is by no means so clear that good taste follows
as a consequence."

{"Dogberry" = a constable in Shakespeare's comedy, "Much Ado
About Nothing": "To be a well-favor'd man is the gift of fortune,
but to write and read comes by nature." III.iii.14-16}

"Good taste never came by nature, anywhere but in old Greece, I
take it," said Ellsworth. "In a new state of society, such things
must force themselves upon one."

"Certainly," said Mr. Wyllys; "and you young people, who have had
so many advantages of education and leisure, are very right to
give the subject some attention, for the sake of the community in
which you live. Manners in their best meaning, as a part of
civilization, are closely connected at many different points,
with the character and morals of a nation. Hitherto in this
country, the subject has been too much left to itself; but in
many respects there is a good foundation to work upon--some of
our national traits are very creditable."

"That is true, sir," replied Mr. Ellsworth; "and Americans are
naturally very quick in taking a hint, and in fitting it to their
own uses. They are a good-natured, sociable race, too, neither
coarse nor unwieldy in body or mind. All they want is, a little
more reflection on the subject, and a sufficiently large number
of models, to observe, and compare together; for they are too
quick and clever, not to prefer the good to the bad, when the
choice lies before them."

"Remember too," said Mr. Wyllys, "that if you cannot do
everything, you must not suppose you can do nothing."

"There is one point in American manners, that is very good," said
Harry: "among our very best people we find a great deal of true
simplicity; simplicity of the right sort; real, not factitious."

"Sweet simplicity, oh, la!" exclaimed Mr. Stryker. "Well, I am a
bad subject to deal with, myself. I am too old to go to school,
and I am too young yet, I flatter myself, to give much weight to
my advice. Not quite incorrigible, however, I trust," he added,
endeavouring to smile in a natural way, as he turned towards
Elinor and Mrs. Creighton. "I shall be most happy to learn from
the ladies, and try to improve under their advice. Have you no
suggestions to make, Miss Wyllys?"

"I am afraid I could not be of much use in that way."

"There are only a thousand-and-one hints that I should give you,"
said Mrs. Creighton, laughing.

"You must be frightfully particular!" exclaimed Mr. Stryker;
"pray, what is hint No. 1?"

"Oh, I should not have time to make even a beginning; it is
growing very late, and I shall defer your education until the
next time we meet. Mr. Hazlehurst, that is my scarf, I believe,
on your chair."

The party separated; Harry offering his arm to Mrs. Creighton.


You shall not go--a lady's verily is
As potent as a lord's. Will you go yet?"
Winter's Tale.

{William Shakespeare, "A Winter's Tale", I.ii.50-51}

MRS. STANLEY had joined the Wyllyses at Saratoga, a few days
after they arrived, and the meeting between Hazlehurst and
herself had been very cordial. She had always felt a warm
interest in Harry, looking upon him as her husband's chosen
representative, and all but an adopted son; the intercourse
between them had invariably been of the most friendly and
intimate nature.

Mr. Stanley's will had placed the entire control of his large
estate in the hands of his widow, and his old friend, Mr. Wyllys.
Mrs. Stanley, herself, was to retain one half of the property,
for life; at her death it was to be divided in different
legacies, to relatives of her own, and to charitable
institutions, according to her own discretion. The other half was
also to be kept in the hands of the executors until his own son
returned, and had reached the age of five-and-twenty; or, in case
the report of William Stanley's death, which had just reached his
family, were to be confirmed, then Harry Hazlehurst was to take
his place, and receive his son's portion, on condition that his,
Hazlehurst's, second son should take the name of Stanley.
Hazlehurst was a nephew by marriage; that is to say, his father,
after the death of a first wife, Harry's mother, had married Mr.
Stanley's only sister: this lady died before her brother, leaving
no children. At the time this will was made, Mr. Stanley had
given up all, but the faintest, hope of his son's being alive;
still, he left letters for him, containing his last blessing, and
forgiveness, in case the young man were to return. He also
expressed a wish that an easy allowance, according to Mrs.
Stanley's discretion, should be given, after the age of
one-and-twenty, to his son, or to Harry, whichever were to prove
his heir; on condition that the recipient should pursue some
regular profession or occupation, of a respectable character.
Hazlehurst was to receive a legacy of thirty thousand dollars, in
case of William Stanley's return.

Such was Mr. Stanley's will; and circumstances having soon showed
that the report of his son's death was scarcely to be doubted,
Hazlehurst had been for years considered as his heir. As Harry
grew up, and his character became formed, his principles proving,
in every respect, such as his friends could wish, Mrs. Stanley
had made very ample provision for him. The allowance he had
received for his education was very liberal, and during his visit
to Europe it had been increased. At different times considerable
sums had been advanced, to enable him to make desirable
purchases: upon one occasion, a portion of the property upon
which his ancestors had first settled, as colonists, was offered
for sale by a distant relative, and Harry wished to obtain
possession of it; twenty thousand dollars were advanced for this
purpose. Then, Hazlehurst was very desirous of collecting a
respectable library, and, as different opportunities offered, he
had been enabled, while in Europe, to make valuable acquisitions
of this kind, thanks to Mrs. Stanley's liberality. As every
collector has a favourite branch of his own, Harry's tastes had
led him to look for botanical works, in which he was particularly
interested; and he had often paid large sums for rare or
expensive volumes connected with this science. Since he had
reached the age of five-and-twenty, or, during the last two
years, he had been in full possession of the entire half of Mr.
Stanley's property, amounting, it was generally supposed, to some
ten thousand a year. According to a codicil of the will,
Hazlehurst was also to take possession of Greatwood, at his
marriage: this was a pleasant country-house, surrounded by a
place in fine order; but Mrs. Stanley, who preferred living in
town, had already given him possession.

"I wish, Harry, we could keep you at home, now," said Mrs.
Stanley to her young friend, one morning, as he was sitting with
herself, Mary Van Alstyne, and Elinor, in her rooms at Congress
Hall. "I think Mr. Henley could spare you better than we can. Is
it quite decided that you go to Russia?"

"You are very kind to express so much interest in my movements.
But you must permit me to remind you of a piece of advice I have
often received, as a youngster, from your own lips, dear Mrs.
Stanley; and that is, never to abandon merely from caprice, the
path of life I might choose."

"Certainly; but I think you might find very good reasons for
staying at home, now; your affairs would go on all the better for
some personal attention; I should be sorry to have you a rover
all your life, Harry."

"I have no, intention, Ma'am, I assure you, of being a vagrant
all my days. And if there is nothing else to keep me at home, it
is highly probable that I shall be thrown on the shelf before
long by Uncle Sam. When a man has served his apprenticeship, and
is fully qualified to fill his office creditably, he may prepare
to be turned out; and, very likely, some raw backwoodsman, who
knows nothing of the world in general, or of diplomacy in
particular, will be put in his place. That is often the way
things are managed among us, you know.

{Susan Fenimore Cooper is reflecting the views of her father,
based on his experience with American diplomacy in Europe from
1826-33. The United States Foreign Service did not become a fully
professional, career organization until 1946}

"For that very reason, I would not have anything to do with
public life, if I were a young man!" exclaimed Mrs. Stanley,
earnestly. "So many men who are ill-qualified for either public
or private confidence, get into office, that I should think no
man of high principles and honourable views, would care to belong
to the body of public servants."

"There is all the more need, then, that every honest man, who has
an opportunity of serving his country, should do so," observed
Harry. "I do not believe, however, that as regards principles,
the public men among us are any worse than the public men
elsewhere," he added.

"Where all are chosen, they ought to be better," said Mary Van

"That I grant," said Hazlehurst; "the choice by election, or by
appointment, might often be more creditable; whenever it is bad,
it is disgraceful to the community."

"Look at A-----, B-----, and C-----, whom you and I happen to

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